49 Degrees: Canadian Pagan Perspectives

Canadian Paganism has a style all its own. Have a look at events, issues, celebrations, people, trends and events north of the border from the eyes of a Canadian Wiccan and Witch.

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Canadian Seasons

The Sabbat Wheel made a lot of sense for our Pagan ancestors, for whom the seasons and their mid-points roughly corresponded with the Year-Wheel as we know it.  But more and more, I'm finding that it makes little sense in other places, especially where I live.  When I was growing up, the Wheel had only the loosest correspondence with the seasons I knew anyway. The snow was starting to melt by Imbolc, for example, and we had mud season a lot, but crocuses were still at least two weeks away. You knew it was Ostara because there were bees.  The hawthorn and fruit trees were usually blooming by Beltane, but it was still too cold (and often too wet) to camp outside. And so on.

With climate change taking hold, this has become less and less true.  With each passing year I find it more difficult to find meaning in the symbols and landmarks that are supposed to be associated with each Sabbat. The last few years, it simply hasn't felt like the Sabbat at all.

What to do? The options are: reinvent the symbols, or move the holidays. The past few years I have tried the former, and found it distinctly unfulfilling. So this next year or two, I'm going to try the latter.

I live in the BC Interior, and I am going to try to follow the following Sabbat schedule. I feel this will be more consistent with my local seasons, and since it lines up with many statutory holidays, I might even find it easier to get time off:

* Yule: December 25 (why not? It's four days different and that's when everyone else celebrates it)

* Imbolc: Groundhog Day February 2 (not a stat holiday, but the observance is consistent with the idea of the Sabbat)

* Ostara: Easter (it's just easier)

* Beltane: Victoria Day (summer in Canada begins on Victoria Day, the third weekend in May, just like summer begins on Memorial Day in the US; that's when we bring the barbecues out, and it's warm enough to camp and find a sunny patch with an intended on the grass)

* Midsummer: Canada Day July 1 (it's pretty close, it feels more like Midsummer, and we get the day off)

* Lammas: BC Day first weekend in August (many provinces celebrate their day then so we get the day off)

* Mabon: Labour Day first weekend in September (it's about the same part of the harvest cycle as we're supposed to be celebrating on the Equinox, the weather is still warm enough to do stuff, and we get the day off; and I think it's consistent to have a festival of thanksgiving on the day we celebrate the labour movement - otherwise we'd have to wait until Canadian Thanksgiving, which is too close to Samhain and it's often snowing by then)

* Samhain: Halloween (lines up so well, even though it's not a stat holiday)

I'll keep you posted on the results of my experiment, starting with July 1!

Last modified on
Sable Aradia (Diane Morrison) has been a traditional witch most of her life, and she is a licensed Wiccan minister and a Third Degree initiate in the Star Sapphire and Pagans for Peace traditions. Author of "The Witch's Eight Paths of Power" (Red Wheel/Weiser 2014) and contributor to "Pagan Consent Culture" and "The Pagan Leadership Anthology," she also writes "Between the Shadows" at Patheos' Pagan channel and contributes to Gods & Radicals. Sable is just breaking out as a speculative fiction writer under her legal name, and a new serial, the Wyrd West Chronicles, will be released on the Spring Equinox this year. Like most writers, she does a lot of other things to help pay the bills, including music, Etsy crafts, and working part time at a bookstore. She lives in Vernon, BC, Canada with her two life partners and her furbabies in a cabin on the edge of the woods.


  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Thursday, 21 June 2018

    Great idea -- we've been kinda doing this for years in my house.

    I *do* suspect that Ostara may give you some trouble since (Christian) Easter is a movable feast and can range from March 22 to April 25. Of course, the way Easter (in the Western Church, anyway) is so very VERY Pagan, you may want to use it anyway! (It's the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox. If that's not Pagan ....)


  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia Thursday, 21 June 2018

    I thought about that, but a) yeah, I think the lunar/solar calendar juxtaposition is very Pagan anyway, and I understand they based their holiday on a traditional holiday of several Middle Eastern Goddesses (Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte, etc.), and those cultures calculated it that way anyway (but don't quote me on that, I didn't double-check with scholarly sources before
    I posted this comment; that's just what I heard.) And b) the variability is part of the attraction. The earliest it will fall is the day of the Equinox, and usually it will fall later than the Equinox. Often it's still snowing here on the Equinox in the past few years, but give it an extra week and the snow is gone. Plus, this way I won't be wandering through stores like I do every year going, "Why are all the Ostara things still ... oh. Right. " ;)

    PS - I wanted to like your comment but it just held up on the wait bar and wouldn't let me. So let's say I did like it, because I do! Thanks!

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Thursday, 21 June 2018

    I totally get not feeling it with the Sabbats. When I have tried it, it felt contrived and artificial. Working with the calendar holidays just seems more organic to my life experience. Like I'm building on my past instead of trying to cram myself into a shoe that doesn't fit.

  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia Sunday, 24 June 2018

    Makes sense to me, Anthony! Whereabouts are you in the world, and when do you choose to celebrate?

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Sunday, 24 June 2018

    I live in Virginia. On June 19th I woke from a dream telling me to "Call upon the gods of love, friendship and community to guard against trolling." I got the definite impression that the trolls included cyberbullies as much as the kind from fairy tales. I'm trying to come up with something for the 4th of July right now. I tend to prioritize any message I get out of my dreams. I also tend to view spiritual work like gardening: it takes year round effort, the results are often mixed or disappointing, and the best results may take years to achieve so you've got to own your successes where you find them instead of dwelling on what else needs to be done.

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