Rites of Passage

Many new Wiccans are familiar with the series of eight Sabbats which represent the Wheel of the Year. There are also a series of rites in an individual’s life that mirror the Wheel of the Year, honour different stages of life.

Pregnancy and Birth

Rites for pregnancy and birth can be done for both the baby and for the parents (mother and father). These rites celebrate the new life as well as provide support to the new parents. It is common to ask for health, blessings, and advice during these rites.

Plotted on the Wheel of the Year, this rite of passage falls in the North East, and corresponds to the Sabbat of February Eve/Imblog. This is the time of the promise of new life.


Wiccaning is the term commonly used for the baby welcoming rite. The baby is welcomed into the world and into her new incarnation, similar to a Christening. The baby is not dedicated to the Lord and Lady or to the Wiccan path. Rather, the Lord and Lady (or the parents’ Matron and Patron deities) are asked to watch over the child until she is able to make her own decision about which spiritual path to follow.

Wiccaning rites can include the participants offering blessings or gifts to the child. Another possibility is to appoint God/Goddess parents to help oversee the child’s spiritual teachings.

Wiccaning falls in the East of the Wheel of the Year, and corresponds to the Sabbat of Spring Equinox/Ostara. This is the time of year to honour new life, beginnings, and innocence.

Coming of Age

The Coming of Age rite is generally celebrated when a young person reaches puberty. It marks their moving into adulthood, the start of make decisions on their own such as which spiritual path to follow. It can be helpful to dedicate a rite to the recognition on this change, as a way to provide support to the young person who may be going through some difficult and confusing changes and emotions. (Remember how angst filled your teenage years were?)

On the Wheel of the Year, this rite falls in the South East, and corresponds to the Sabbat of May Eve/Beltane. This is the time of year, and the time of life, to honour the journey towards maturity and the growth of energy (both personal and natural).

Handfasting and Marriage

The joining together of two people are in love, regardless of sex, is a very joyous event. Many Pagans choose to make their joining legal, and there are some Pagan ministers who are legally capable of performing such marriages. Other Pagans choose a temporary (year and a day) or life-time handfasting which is not legal recognized.

Handfasting falls in the South of the Wheel of the Year, and corresponds to the Sabbat of Summer Solstice/Midsummer. This is the time to honour fertility, life and abundance.


Handparting is the Wiccan version of separation or divorce. With a Handparting, a Handfasting can be ended before its allotted time (i.e. a year and a day or for life), or this rite can be used at the end of a Handfasting to more formally end it. Of course, as with a wedding, this is not a legal replacement for a divorce, and is only truly recognized within the Wiccan and Pagan community.

Handparting falls to the West on the Wheel of the Year, and corresponds to the Sabbat of Fall Equinox/Mabon.

Croning and Saging

Croning and Saging are rites of passage for women and men, respectively, who are entering into their older years. Generally speaking, a woman enters her crone stage around the time when she begins menopause. Saging for men would also occur sometime around the mid-50’s or retirement. This rite marks the time when one can enjoy the fruits of one’s labour, and perhaps be considered an honoured elder of their community, passing on knowledge to others.

Croning and Saging sit in the North West of the Wheel of the Year, and corresponds to the Sabbat of Samhain.


The rites performed at death can either be in remembrance of the person who has died, or passed over, or can be for those who are left behind. The rites can be a celebration of the person’s life, or a somber remembrance of everything they did and what they meant to others.

This rite of passage may also be held for a person who is still alive, but who will soon be passing away. It may provide a great deal of comfort for them to have their life honoured by their friends. But check with the person before you plan such an event. They may be too ill to participate.

This rite lies North on the Wheel of the Year, and corresponds to the Sabbat of Yule.

The direction of South West and its corresponding Sabbat of August Eve/Lammas does not directly correspond to a rite of passage. Instead, I like to see it as representing adult, a time when we put our skills to good use and learn to harvest the results.