What is an Esbat?

What is an Esbat? Full Moon, Full Loon …

The Esbats (pronounced ESS-bott)mark the thirteen lunar months that make up a calendar year. As a Witch, it’s a good way to mark where you are at on the wheel of the year. If you are a solitary practitioner (meaning you are not formerly a member of a coven) you can still celebrate this magickal time of the moon’s journey through the night sky! Here we will take a look at what an Esbat is and ways in which you can mark this occasion. Merrymaking and festivity is the theme of this night, as the full moon allows us to let loose and be free … and remember, the “loonatic” means “moon madness” … time to go dancing in the moonlight Witches, time to get your brooms out.

What is an Esbat?

An Esbat is a celebration of every full moon. It is a time for Witches and Wiccans get together and do ritual magick. This can be done as a collective, like if you are a member of a coven or some other pagan group or, you can do this alone. Many Witches, Wicaans & Pagans also celebrate other lunar phases and not just the full moon phase. Unlike the celebration of a Sabbat, the celebration of the full moon (or Esbat) is for pure enjoyment only; this is what makes it significantly different to a sabbat celebration. Those who celebrate the Esbat use it as a time to be close with the Gods and Goddesses.

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NOTE: Esbat is derived from the french language (old French s’esbattre/modern French ébat). It means to frolic and amuse oneself (loosely translated!). Also, it is also thought that the word Esbat is derived from estrus. Estrus is a Greek word meaning “of the month” for the fertile periods of female animals.

Handbook of Contemporary Paganism by Nevill Drury

The History of the Witches Full Moon Esbat Celebration

The night sky and the Moon’s various phases was the first calendar people used to use to determine what part of the yearly cycle they were in (in combination with the Sun yearly cycle too). The Moon, unlike the Sun (which is considered a masculine symbol) is considered a feminine symbol. The Moon is believed to represent the Goddess due to the fact that the monthly phase cycle of the Moon, closely matches the female menstrual cycle of twenty-eight to thirty days.

NOTE: The different phases of the Moon represent the 3 different aspects of the Goddess: the waxing phase symbolizes the virgin, the full moon symbolizes the mother, and the waning moon phase symbolizes the wise crone.

NOTE: Many Witches who practice alone will celebrate both the New and Full moons, calling both phases an Esbat.

What type of magick is done on a Full Moon Esbat?

This is very personal and it all comes down to preference of the Witch and whether or not your a part of a coven or a solitary practitioner. Many choose to combine the energies of the season with their full moon celebration too. The full moon’s energy is very powerful and typically the types of magick that is performed are at least one of the following:

  • Magick for all needs (depends on the Witch or coven traditions)
  • Healing
  • Initiation
  • Families
  • Wholeness
  • Psychic enhancement

NOTE: different type of spells are done on different phases of the moon, for example: spells for abundance can be done during the waxing phases.

Witches often use the Esbat as a time for their coven meetings which is on a more casual basis than meeting on a Sabbat which is usually a more formal and structured meeting. Some Witches describe Esbats as an opportunity for a love feast with their fellow Witches, a time where they can all get together have some fun and do some psychic or healing work as a group. This is also a time that can be used for initiation ceremonies too.

TIP: Get yourself a glass jar, fill it with purified water & leave it out over night during the full moon – the next morning you will have some magickal moon-water to work with next time you do your spellwork!

How can you celebrate an Esbat?

Many Witches, Wiccans and Pagans celebrate an Esbat regularly. During this celebration of the full moon, they will practice magick which is performed in honor and celebration for the gods and goddesses. They type of magick and rituals that each coven or solo practitioner does will depend on their particular traditions that they follow. For example, in some groups, the Esbat rite may require you to cast a circle before hand and will then be followed by a Cakes and Ale ceremony and  Drawing Down the Moon. You can definitely do something like this or you can do your own thing like a ritual full moon bath, informal spell work, full moon mediation and reflection on what you have achieved since the last full moon celebration.

What is Drawing down the Moon?

Drawing down the Moon is a powerful rite, where you (the practitioner) invokes the Goddess directly into yourself. Drawing Down the Moon is best performed on the night of the full moon, or if you can’t do exactly on the night of the full moon, you can do it the night before. This is best to do outside but if needs must, you can do the ritual inside. Drawing Down the Moon can be considered an altered state of consciousness. Some describe it as a ritual possession by the Divine Goddess. When doing this rite you may feel the energy of the Goddess for some time after the rite is done. Some people experience a heightened sense of clarity and emotion which may last a few days afterwards.

What is Cakes and Ale Ceremony?

It is a ritual used by many practitioner of magick to thank the gods and goddesses for all their blessings. They are more like cookies than cake, which are made in the shape of crescent moons. The doesn’t have to be alcoholic either. You can use apple cider, juice or purified water. Both items are typically consecrated by the priestess or priest leading the ceremony. The Cakes and Ale ritual is done at the end and can is often used as a way to ground out excess energy that may have been raised during the rite.

NOTE: If you are a practitioner who does not normally cast a circle, instead you should make sure you take some time to ritually purify the area by smudging or your preferred method that you regularly do to purify. This will establish the space you are going to do your Esbat rite, ritual or magick in as sacred. 

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