12-26-12 Lesson 3: Sabbats and Esbats

Sabbat {Greek – Sabatu – to rest}
The Pagan holidays, called Sabbats, are seasonal celebrations representing birth,
death and rebirth. These celebrations are a means to attune the physical human
mind, body and spirit with the flow of natures’ energy and the essence of the
God/Goddess. It is a bonding, a time to recognize the aspects of the season within
yourself. “To become one with nature” is a common metaphor for the overall
purpose and intent of these holidays. Everything follows the logical seasonal
shifts of the year. The seasons are opposite in the Northern and Southern
hemispheres and so are the Sabbats
Most Pagans believe that by joining forces with the natural forces around us, we
bring harmony, balance and order to our physical existence. These are necessary
aspects of life for positive change and to create an atmosphere for spiritual
learning and growth.
There are eight Sabbats observed during the Pagan calendar. All Sabbat
ceremonies begin at sundown on the eve of the dates given and continue to
sundown. You might want to start carrying a special calendar around with you to
mark the moon phases and holidays for the year. Give yourself enough time to go
shopping for any supplies you might want to use during your festival rituals.
(October 31) (May 1st in SH souuthern hemisphere)
At Samhain, the Wicca say farewell to the God. This is a temporary farewell. He isn’t
wrapped in eternal darkness, but readies within Her Womb. She feels the presence of
the God even as He wanes.
Samhain, also known as November Eve, Feast of the Dead, Feast of Apples, Hallowe’en,
Hallows and All Hallows Eve, once marked the time for sacrifice. In some places this
was the time when animals were slaughtered to ensure food throughout the depths of
winter. The God-identified with the animals-fell as well to ensure our continuing
Samhain is a time of reflection, of looking back over the last year, of coming to terms
with the one phenomenon of life over which we have no control-death.
The wicca feel that on this night the separation between the physical and spiritual
realities is thin.
(December 21) (June 21 SH)
Yule is celebrated at the winter Solstice, and the precise date is governed by the
astronomical forces of the universe, but it’s typically around December 21st or 22nd.
This the time of the longest night of the year, and shortest day. From this day onward,
the days will start getting longer. So we celebrate the return of light and warmth of the
Along a more mythological story-line, the God is reborn at Yule after sacrificing himself
at Samhain’s harvest. The Goddess has mourned him through the dark months of
November and December, and now rejoices at his return. She is seen in her virgin,
Maiden aspect at this time of year.
This idea of rebirth, is how Yule got tied in with the Christian story of the birth of Jesus.
Though the holiday has become heavily Christianized, most of the traditions are based
on older, Pagan beliefs.
(February 1) (August 1 in SH)
Imbolc marks the recovery of the Goddess after giving birth to the God. The
lengthening periods of light awaken Her. The God is a young, lusty boy, but His power is
felt in the longer days. The warmth fertilizes the Earth (the Goddess), causes seeds to
geminate and sprout. And so the earliest beginnings of spring occur.
This is a Sabbat of purification after the shut-in life of winter, through the renewing
power of the Sun. It is also a festival of light and of fertility, once marked in Europe with
huge blazes, torches and fire in every form. Fire here represents our own illumination
and inspiration as much as light and warmth.
Imbolc is also known as Feast of Torches, Oimelc, Lupercalia, Feast of Pan, Snowdrop
Festival, Feast of Waxing Light, Bridid’s day and probably by many other names. Some
female Wiccans follow the old Scandinavian custom of wearing crowns of lit candles, but
many more carry tappers during their invocations.
(March 21) (Sept 21 in SH)
Ostara is the Spring Equinox, also known as Spring Rites and Estore’s Day, marks the
first day of true spring. The energies of nature subtly shift from the sluggishness of
winter to the exuberant expansion of spring. The Goddess blankets the Earth with
fertility, bursting forth from Her sleep, as the God stretches and grows to maturity. He
walks the greening fields and delights in the abundance of nature.
On Ostara the hours of day and night are equal. Light is overtaking darkness; the
Goddess and God impel the wild creatures of the Earth to reproduce.
This is a time of beginnings, of actions, of planting spells for future gains, and of tending
ritual gardens.
(April 30) (Oct 31 in SH)
Beltane marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Syirred by the energies
at work in nature, He desires the Goddess. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and
blossoms, and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God. The Wiccans celebrate
the symbol of Her fertility in ritual.
Beltane (also known as Mat Day) has long been marked with feasts and rituals. May
poles, supremely phallic symbols, were the focal point of old English village rituals.
Many people rose at dawn to gather flowers and green branches from fields and
gardens, using them to decorate the May pole, their homes and themselves.
The flowers and greenery symbolize the Goddess; the May pole the God. Beltane marks
the return of vitality, of passion and hopes consummated.
May poles are sometimes used by Wiccans today during Beltane rituals, but the
cauldron is a more common focal point of ceremony. It represents, of course, the
Goddess- the essence of womanhood, the end of all desire, the equal but opposite of the
May pole, symbolic of the God.
(June 21) (Dec 21 in SH)
Midsummer, Summer Solstice, June 20-23, dependent on actual astronomical event)
Held on the longest day of the year, the Solstice is the celebration of light’s triumph over
darkness and that of the bountiful beauty that light brings into life. Flowers are common
in the circle, roses and bright cheerful wildflower are upon the altar and usually worn
by all. It is the changing point of the year, and the celebration of the spiral dance of the
year is common among Wiccans. It a celebration with much joy, and much feasting.
Many Wiccans will attire themselves in bright colors and equally bright adornments of
flowers. Litha’s usual food fare may include honeycakes or cornbread. Litha is not
celebrated by all sects nor in the same way. In the past, bonfires were leapt to encourage
fertility, purification, health and love. Midsummer is a classic time for magick of all
(August 1) (Feb 1 in SH)
Lughnasadh is the time of the first harvest, when the plants of spring wither and drop
their fruits or seeds for our use as well as to ensure future crops. Mystically, so too does
the God loose His strength as the Sun rises farther in the South each day and the nights
grow longer. The Goddess watches in sorrow and joy as She realizes that the God is
dying, and yet lives on inside Her as Her child.
Lughnasadh, also known as August Eve, Feast of bread, Harvest Home and Lammas,
wasn’t necessarily observed on this day. It originally coincided with the first reaping.
As summer passes, Wiccans remember its warmth and bounty in the food we eat. Every
meal is an act of attunement with nature, and we are reminded that nothing in the
universe is constant.
(September 21) (Mar 21 in SH)
Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, is the completion of the harvest begun at Lughnasadh.
Once again day and night are equal, poised as the God prepares to leave His physical
body and begin the great adventure into the unseen, toward renewal and rebirth of the
Nature declines, draws back its bounty, ready for winter and its time of rest. The
Goddess nods in the weakening Sun, though fire burns within Her womb. She feels the
presence of the God even as He wanes.
Sabbats prepared by Shay Hetherington
THE Esbats
Throughout time and in all civilizations, we have always consulted the moon, seeing it
as a Deity in its own right. It was said to protect the night keeping its soft light creatures
of darkness away from villages. It is also consulted when planting seeds and when to
harvest. Farmers adapted their lifestyle to the phases of the mystic moon. It is said that
women who watched the cycles of the moon, had all their rules to the New Moon and
withdrew together to celebrate the change that was taking place in them. The moon has
always been a great influence on women, which is why the Goddess is worshiped during
Working By The Moon
Just as some pagans take a rest during the major Sabbat holidays, they also
identify some special days on which to work. The Esbats are considered to be
these days and nights of work. These are often known as the Moon Celebrations.
These are also the festivals to honor the Goddess essence of the Divine, balancing
the Sabbat festivals which typically honor the God essence. As with the Sabbats
however, that doesn’t mean you can’t include the Gods as part of your
ceremonial rituals. These rituals are associated with the Moon, where as the
Sabbats are associated to the Sun or the change of seasons.
Spells can be conjured during these times for specific uses and some magikal
practioners believe the spell will take the full cycle of the moon to take hold.
Regardless of the timing, what is important is your intent during the conjuring
and once you have concluded your ritual and closed your circle, let it go and
allow the God/Goddess to deliver the energy.
The Moon festivals are broken down into the phases of the Moon and can be associated
as follows.
New Moon Energy
Used for personal growth, healing and blessing of new projects or ventures. It’s
also a good time to consecrate new tools and objects you wish to use during
rituals, ceremonies or an up coming festival.
Waxing Moon Energy (1st Qtr Moon)
Between the new and full moon is a period of the Waxing moon. Used for
attraction magik, love spells, protection for couples and healing energy for
Full Moon Energy
Used to banishing unwanted influences in your life. Creating protection magik
and performing divination. Setting up plans and releasing old patterns or issues
are all. Full Moon magik can be conjured during the 3 days prior to the rise of
the Full Moon, the night of the Full Moon and during the 3 days after.
Waning Moon Energy (Last Qtr Moon)
Between the full moon and the dark moon is the period of Waning moon. Used
for banishing and rejecting those things that influence us in a negative way.
Negative emotions, diseases, ailments, and bad habits can all be let go and special
spells for clearing can be performed at this time.
Dark Moon
The Dark Moon period occurs 3 days prior to the New Moon. This is the time
when you can’t see the moon in any phase. Typically no magik is performed
during this time. This is the time to give yourself a break, to turn to self and
pamper or replenish your own energies. Vision quests and deep meditations are
called for at this time to focus on personal matters, questions and answers.
The moon also plays a big role in magical work because its energy brings different
possibilities. It is therefore logical to refer to the phases of the moon when you want to
perform a ritual or even organize various projects of our lives. The moon changes phase
every 7 days. If you can not play the same day phase, remember that you can still
celebrate 3 days before and 3 days after.
Moon and energy grow. This is the perfect time for rituals where you wish to draw
something to us, prosperity, love, friendship, luck, joy, healing, etc..
This is the Moon revivals, projects beginnings. Start a business, starting a diet, to
develop a new organization.
The Moon is at its full power. You can practice all the rituals possible and make wishes.
It was also during full moons that are responsible, dedicated and purifies tools, stones
and jewelry.
Stand a few minutes outside under the full moon has a beneficial effect on the body and
allows charging energy efficient enough. Moon decision, in case of dilemma, consult the
full moon.
Waning Crescent
Moon begins to disappear. This is the time to practice rituals gently to remove the
negative. To get rid of this prevents us from moving in order to get back on a better
The Moon is a transition to renewal. To overcome addictions, leave bad habits behind
you and move on,
The Moon is absent in appearance. It’s energy is still very present. Divination is often
practiced during the Moon (tarot, runes, pendulum, etc.)., Or magic called passive
cleaning tools or stones. It is not advisable to do a ritual during this phase, unless you
are experienced.
The new moon is also the perfect time to ban permanently the negative in our lives.
Make a large household in all areas. Meditate, to withdraw and observe …
The Blue Moon is the second full moon in the same month. This occurs only rarely. This
phase represents a dual power and a very powerful energy. There grimoire and our
responsibility for our purified water.
Black Moon is the second new moon in the same month. This occurs only rarely. This
phase represents a dual power and a very powerful energy. They practice of banishing
THE Esbats
The Esbats are celebrations of the Moon, especially in the solid phase. Some people
celebrate the new moon and do rituals during the full moon. Free the practitioner to
meet the phase he recommends. Each month, the Moon brings different benefits. We
take advantage of these evenings to celebrate the energies of the Moon and to honor the
feminine energy it brings. Their names come here to Celtic tradition, English medieval
and neo-pagan.
The Monthly Moons
The rotation of the earth produces 13 Full Moons during the year and each one
has a magikal name or association.
Wolf Moon
Storm Moon
Chaste Moon
Seed Moon
Hare Moon
Pair {Dyad} Moon
Mead Moon
Green Plant {Wyrt} Moon
Barley Moon
Blood Moon
Snow Moon
Oak Moon
Blue Moon
28-day cycle *
NAME: Total Moon / Moon of the Wolf / Moon Ice
POWER: Start and design. Protection. Focus on personal problems.
NAME: Ice Moon / Moon Storm / Snow Moon
COLOR: Light Blue
POWERS: Purification and transition. Healing. Acceptance of past mistakes.
NAME: Moon of Winds / Chaste Moon / Moon Death
COLOUR: Dark Blue
POWERS: Exploration and prosperity. New beginnings. Vision of truth.
NAME: Moon Growth / Seed Moon / Moon Awakening
COLOR: Light Green
POWERS: Creating and productivity. Confidence. Taking opportunities.
NAME: Claire Moon / Moon Hare / Moon Grass
COLOUR: Dark Green
POWERS: Creativity and intuition. Supernatural. Strengthening the connection with
the elements.
NAME: Moon Horse / Dyan Moon / Moon of Agriculture
POWERS: Force and prevention. Decision. Recognition of our positive traits.
NAME: Moon Affirmation / Mead Moon / Moon Rose
COLOR: Yellow
POWERS: Preparation and success. Divination. Work on the dream.
NAME: Moon Divergence / Corn Moon / Moon Lightning
COLOR: Orange
POWERS: Vitality and Health. Appreciation. Gathering and friendship.
NAME: Moon Song / Moon Barley / Harvest Moon
COLOR: Brown
POWERS: Organization and alignment. Rest. Emotional and spiritual cleansing.
NAME: Harvest Moon / Blood Moon / Blood Moon
COLOR: Black
POWERS: inner harmony and balance. Communion with our dead. Karma.
NAME: Dark Moon / Moon Snow / Moon Tree
POWERS: Rooting and transformation. Communication with the elements.
NAME: Cold Moon / Oak Moon / Moon of the Long Night
POWERS: Renaissance and spiritual path. Reconciliation with his family and friends.
How to celebrate and honor the Moon during an Esbat is free to everyone. However, it is
important to keep it simple and focus on the energies of each moon, to attract you to its
powers. A little poem or prayer can be recited in combination with an activity that
appears natural:
Light a candle of the appropriate color.
Stand under the moon.
Charge a stone.
To you to research and develop the progress of your ceremony moon!
– The Esbats are celebrations dedicated to the Moon. Generally, it is Full which is
celebrated, sometimes New, some even celebrate each phase change is for everyone to
see for self.
Blue Moon- Occurs when the moon appears twice in the same month during it’s
28 day cycle. This typically occurs in those months with 31 days. It is also called a
Goal Moon and is used to set goals for your life. It can be used to acknowledge
your failures and review the lessons behind those situation to improve your life
and set new goals specifically for those issues.
Harvest Moon:
Is the Full Moon that appears nearest to the Mabon festival. It can be used
specifically to call in favors or to add extra protection.
It’s a good idea to sit down with your yearly calendar and mark the moon phases
and holidays for the coming year. Some pagans use Samhain to make this part of
their New Year ritual and preparation for the coming year.
WAXING- means growing moon- new to full
WANING- means diminishing- moon full to dark
Translated from French by Marika Motherwolf
Begin tracking the phases of the moon and Sabbats. Consider getting and using a
datebook like Llewellyn’s “Witche’s Datebook”
Continue looking for a Sacred space and post altar set-up picture
Relax and enjoy the holiday season!


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