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Esbats & Sabbats
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Esbats~*~
Wicca has both religious and magical elements, and an Esbat is a Moon ritual in which these two aspects are represented. Esbats are times of celebration of the Goddess and her energy; they are also great times of magickal workings.
Many people believe that witches gather on the full Moon. Many witches do prefer to work with the full Moon, but, as a witch you can work with any phase of the Moon you like. As a solitaire, you can plan your ritual and magick for any day of the month. If you are working with a coven, you will meet with the group at a prearranged time. You can also hold more than one Esbat a month either on you own or with others.
There are 12 and sometimes 13 full Moons a year. The energy of the Moon changes depending on the phase that the Moon is in. Youve probably noticed that the energy of the full Moon is quiet strong. On full-Moon night police departments and hospitals often have their hands full. In Wicca, each phase of the Moon is noted, because different kinds of Moon energy are used for different kinds of magick.

The New Moon:
The energy of the new moon is great for new beginnings, initiating a new project, or the start of an adventure. Under the new Moon work with the new- The beginning of a new life, new career, new love, maybe even a new you.

The Waxing Moon:
The waxing Moon, when the Moon is growing larger in the sky, is a time for growth. Under this Moon you want to work with building on what you have started under the new Moon- getting money, developing love, or receiving love. The larger the Moon gets, the more powerfully you will feel the Goddesss energy.

The Full Moon:
When the Moon rides at her peak,
Then your hearts desire seek.
This is a time to really go for what you want. When the Moon is full, her energy is very powerful and you can ask her to help you accomplish almost anything. The energy of the full Moon is great for magick involving divination, dreams, and love, and what ever else you want. Full Moon energy is available three days before and three days after the Full Moon.

The Waning Moon:
Taking Away....When the Moon is waning, or getting smaller, you want to work with banishing magick. This is the time to get rid of negative things in your life. You might do banishing magick to help take away an addiction, shed some extra weight, or get rid of an illness. You can also work to get rid of negative influences in your environment.

January: The Wolf Moon, also known as the Cold, Snow or Winter Moon, is a time of protection and strength. The Wolf Moon can be seen as a time of both beginnings and endings.

February: The Storm Moon, also known as the Death or Quickening Moon, is a time to do magick for fertility and strength. In the olden days, it was a time of true hardship.

March: The Chaste Moon, also known as the Seed or Worm Moon, the Chaste Moon is a time to plant mental seeds- thoughts of success and hope. This is also a time of purity and newness. It is a time to mentally prepare yourself for new experiences.

April: The Seed Moon, also known as the Egg, Grass, or Wind Moon. This is the time to sow the seeds of Magick. If your planting a magickal garden, you want to get out there and put things into the earth. This is a time to move your planning phase into action.

May: The Hare Moon, also known as the Flower or Planting Moon, is a time of health, love, romance, and wisdom. It is also a great time to rekindle the romantic spark and passion in a relationship.

June: The Lovers Moon, also known as the Strawberry or Rose Moon, the Lovers Moon brings with it energy for love, marriage, and success.

July: The Mead Moon, also known as the Blessing, Lightning, or Thunder Moon, is a time of enchantment, health, rebirth, success and strength. It is also a time of celebration and magick. Remember that mead is the nectar of the Gods. Now is a good time for prosperity magick.

August: The Wyrt Moon, also known as the Wort, Barley, Corn, or Red Moon, is a time of abundance, agriculture and marriage. At this time you might want to do magick to help someone else reap the benefits of the Earths abundance. (With their permission of course!)

September: The Harvest Moon, also known as the Barley or Hunters Moon, the harvest Moon is a time of protection, prosperity, and abundance. The energy of the Harvest Moon will help along any magick that is geared to bring you or someone else abundance.

October: The Blood Moon is sometimes called the Falling Leaf or Hunters Moon. It is a Moon of new goals, protection, resolution, and spirituality. The night of the Blood Moon is a great time for divination of any kind. At this time of year all of nature is making ready for winter. This is a time to reflect on what you did during the year and to evaluate you accomplishments.

November: The Snow Moon, is also known as the Beaver, Mourning, or Tree Moon. This is a good time to work with abundance, prosperity, and the bonds of family and friendship. This is also an excellent time to use divination to get an idea of whats up ahead. Remind yourself that although winter is coming, it will not last forever.

December: The Oak Moon, also known as the Cold or Long Night Moon, the oak Moon is a time for hope and healing. This time of the year the Moon has reign over the earth, because there are more hours of night than day. Our thoughts turn to rebirth of the light and the longer days that are promised after winter solstice. Thai is a great time to let go of old patterns or problems and start anew. If something has been eating at you for a long time, work to give it up at this time. Let go of the negative and let the light of longer days shine inside you.

Sabbats~*~
The Sabbats are holidays on which Wiccans celebrate the male energy of the all, which is represented by the God and the Sun. These are days of celebration of the God just the way Esbats are celebrations of the Goddess. There are eight Sabbats. Unlike human made holidays, the Sabbats are naturally occurring events. They mark the Equinoxes- the two days a year when daytime and night time are of equal duration. The Sabbats also include the longest day of the year and the longest night of the year- known as solstices- and the mid points between these occurrences.

In Wicca the year is seen as a wheel that keeps turning. Once it has completed a rotation, it keeps going and turns around again and again. The Lord and the Lady, as manifestations of the all, play a major part in this continuous cycle. Many Wiccans look at the year as the continuing and repeating story of the Lord and the Lady.

At Samhain...Oct 31 The Wiccan new year, the Lord dies only to be reborn of the Lady again at Yule.

At Yule...Dec. 21 (give or take a few days) which occurs at the time of the winter solstice in Decenber, the Lady gives birth to the lord and rests from her labor.

At Imbolic...Feb. 2, the Lord is seen as a small boy, the Lady recovers from giving birth.

Ostara...Mar. 21 (give or take a few days) marks the first day of spring and the awakening of the earth. At this time, the Lord is seen as a growing youth.

At Beltane...April 30 the Lord has grown to manhood. He falls in love with the Lady, and they unite, producing the bounty of nature. The Lady becomes pregnant again by the Lord.

The Summer Solstice... June 21 (give or take a few days) is the point in midsummer when everything in Nature is at its peek, growing and lush. The lady and Lord are at the height of their powers.

Lughnassad...Aug. 2 is the day in August of the first harvest. The first grains are cut, and the Lord begins to weaken.

At Mabon...Sept.21 the second harvest, the Lord is coming to his end. The days grow shorter, and Earth readies for the slumber of winter.

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Samhain
(October 31)
Samhain (pronounced sow-inn), also goes by the name Halloween. This is our time of endings and our time of beginnings, so at Samhain, we celebrate the New Year. This is a quieter time, a time when the veil between worlds is thin and the spirits may pass more easily. At Mabon, the God Lugh died in order for us to live through His abundance. During the intervening time, He has gathered the spirits of those that have died over the year and waits for this night so that they may pass through the gate to the other side. This is the time to revere our ancestors and to say farewell to those that have passed this last year. It is also a time of divination. The abundance of the fields now gives way to the power and strength of the Horned God of the Hunt. This begins a time of darkness. From now until Yule, the days grow darker and colder. Winter storms begin to sweep down from the north. This time is the barer of many destructive forces. Yet at Samhain, we celebrate the passed year and the year to come. We light bonfires and perform rituals to honor our deceased loved ones. Many Halloween traditions stem from Samhain. The wearing of scary costumes was originally used to scare away those souls that may mean harm. Yet in spite of the costume, the spirits that know you will still be able to find you and visit. The jack-o-lantern was another means of scaring away hostile spirits, the candle within a beckoning light to those that you wish to welcome.

Yule
The Winter Solstice
Dec. 21-22
From Edain Mccoys Book Sabbats

Yule is a time of mixed emotions for pagans. All around us we see evidence of the Christmas celebration, A religious holiday not a part of our traditions, but one which we know takes its form and meaning from ancient pagan practices. Virgin births, decorated trees, festive lights, feasting, wreaths, bells, and fragrant fires, were- and still are- at the heart of pagan Midwinter observances.

When the Wheel of the year brings us to Yule, the God (who died at Samhain) is reborn of the virgin Goddess. The God is represented by the sun which returns after the darkest night of the year to again bring warmth and fertility to the land. The profusion of lights on houses and trees at Christmas is a modern version of the pagan custom of lighting candles and fires as acts of sympathetic magick to lure back the waning sun. Today it is still custom in Ireland and Norway to leave lights burning all through the house on Yule night to not only lure back the sun, but also to honor the Virgin Goddess who gives him birth.

Interestingly enough, the word virgin is one which was mistranslated and misrepresented by the early Church, enough to make even people today forget that the term had absolutely nothing to do with the hymen. The term virgin was first applied to the Priestesses in Mediterranean temples, particularly during the Romes pagan period. The term identified a woman who was a complete entity unto herself, who was not bound by secular law, had no husband, and was free to take all the lovers she chose. She needed nothing else and no one else for completeness. In other words she was said to be intact- a virgin. Paganism remembers the old meaning of the word, when the Goddess, a complete and whole being unto herself, gives birth to her son, who will be her lover at the spring Sabbats and also Father of his next Yule incarnation.

Yule has been the most widely celebrated of all the Sabbats because its customs and lore have so deeply invaded popular cultures and the mainstream religions, and virtually every culture in the northern hemisphere in some way once acknowledged the return of the sun at its weakest point. Some anthropologists, such as E.W. Budge, believe Yule was first celebrated as a religious festival 12,000 years ago, and some claim it dates many millennia earlier.

Yules importance was obvious to early human civilizations. As the nights grew darker and longer, and the days colder and shorter, it was imperative that the sun be lured back to the Earth. Though most cultures understood astronomy long before we give them credit, and knew the sun was where it always had been, they still felt moved to celebrate the old rites which were symbolic rather than factual to them. The festival was important because it kept them in tune with the cycle of the seasons, marked the New Year, allowed them a time to gather with friends and family, and to worship their deitys in joy and thanksgiving.

Yule was a Sabbat of primary importance in the Norse and Roman traditions, and it is from these cultures that many of our Yule customs originate. For both of these civilizations, this is the time of the New Year, when the Goddess turned the Wheel of the Year to its beginning point once again. In fact, Yule is an Old Norse word which literally means wheel, and the Sabbat was often referred to as Hweolor-tid, the turning time.

In Norse tradition, Yule is a twelve nightlong celebration, a concept which probably came from the pagan Near East where it eventually became incorporated into Christian myths. The first Eve of Yule (the night before the Solstice) is called Mother Night, and is a night when Norse pagans sit up and await the rising and rebirth of their sun Goddess, Freya. It is also a night for spirit contact and celebration with ones ancestors in much the same manner as the Celts observe Samhain. The Norse Goddess, Holde, guardian of the spirit world, opens her doors at Yule to all sincere seekers. The final night of observance, called the Twelfth Night, became for awhile sort of a ninth Sabbat on the Norse pagan calendar.

In ancient Egypt, the Winter Solstice was not only a time to celebrate the rebirth of their God, Ra, but to commemorate the creation of the universe as well. In Egyptian mythology it is taught that in the beginning there was nothing but Nun, a primordial black sea of chaos often likened to the womb of the Mother Goddess. From this ocean of unrest Ra was born, and he in turn gave birth to the other deities. After this great exertion he cried the dark tears given to him by Nun, and each tear became the many men and women of Egypt. In sun-parched North Africa, December marked the beginning of the short rainy season. If it rained on the eve of the solstice, it was considered to be a special blessing from Ra whose tears were once again bringing life to Egypt on his night of rebirth.

 

                                       

Imblog
Febuary 2
From Edain Mccoys Book Sabbats
Imbolg was not originally a Sabbat as we think of one today, but a special day set aside to honor the Goddess who was slowly turning the wheel of the year back to spring. Winter was a harsh season for our pagan ancestors, one during which many died of disease and mal-nutrition. Therefore, it is not surprising that most of the customs surrounding this Sabbat are designed as acts of sympathetic magick to lure back to the sun, and speed up the coming of the balmy warmth of spring.
In Ireland, where much of our Imbolg lore originates, this was a holy day for honoring the great Mother Goddess, Bridget, in her guise as the waiting bride of the youthful sun God who was now returning to her. Among her many sacred interests were fertility, creative inspiration, metal-smithing, and medicine, and she was also a protectress, healer, and a guardian of children. Her festival was so engrained in the Irish culture that the church was forced to rename the holiday, St. Bridgets Day in honor of a saint who is, in reality, the Goddess. In the not to distant past it was customary in Irish villages for young women and sometimes young men to dress up as Bridget/St. Bridget in old, worn clothing, or to carry her image through town with them. The girls would go begging from door to door asking for alms for poor biddy. A nick name for Bridget. Given to her was thought to bring good fortune in the harvest to come.
In France, Imbolg is a day to honor yet another saint. The Feast Day Of St. Blaize, a thinly disguised a version of Bridget, is a saint of winter protection and healing who was once widely worshiped in revered by the Celtic Bretons. In keeping with the theme of the fire festival, Blaizes name is associated with the English word Blaze as in a fire.
Two other names commonly used for this Sabbat are Embolic and Timely, both meaning ewes milk. This was the time when pregnant ewes begin lactating, and the event was celebrated as another sign that winter was ending. In Cornwall they honored this event by making a ritual drink from cider, mashed apples, honey, and the milk from pregnant ewes.
The Romans dedicated the Sabbat to Venus, and the Greeks named it the festival of Dianna, both goddesses of love. The ubiquitous first flower of spring, the crocus, was sacred to both these deities, and the flowers were picked and used to lavishly adorn homes, alters, and people especially young women who represented the virgin goddesses at the Sabbat rituals.
Though the Roman version of the Imbolg Sabbat was dedicated to Venus, the month of February was dedicated to the Goddess Februa is the Goddess of fresh starts, and her month was often euphemistically referred to as the cleansing time.The Romans also had a board game they played each year at Imblog, which is mentioned briefly, in the 8th century Irish manuscript, THE BOOK OF LISMORE. The board featured a crone and a dragon at one end, and a maiden and a lamb at the other. The object was to have the lamb conquer the dragon, making the crone goddess into the virgin goddess once again and there by turning the wheel of the year to spring.
In the Nordic tradition, Imbolg was known as disting-tid, and was a day to ritually prepare the earth for future planting by strewing it with salt, ashes, and sacred herbs. This was done even if the land was still covered with snow and ice.

Ostara
March 20-21
Vernal or Spring Equinox
Many of the symbols of Ostara (oh- STAR-ah) are also common to Easter. Eggs have been a symbol of renewed life and fertility since the time of ancient Egyptians and Persians. In fact, in both cultures people dyed eggs and ate them in honor of the returning of spring. The Egyptians also saw hares or rabbits, which were associated with the Moon, as a symbols of fertility and rebirth.

In the Wiccan tradition, the Lord and Lady are seen as young and innocent at this time of the year. The day and night are of equal duration at the spring or vernal equinox. In the days that follow, the hours of light grow longer, spring blooms in the air and the Lord and Lady, as do all creatures of Nature, begin to wonder about one another.

A Wiccan celebration of Ostara might include boiling and decorated eggs. Some Wiccans even do egg hunts and eat chocolate bunnies. If you can celebrate at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, you can even balance a raw egg on one end because of the change of the Earths tilt. In ritual, witches might bless seeds for future planting. This is also a good time of year to buy a new ritual broom for sweeping out negative energy's.

Beltaine
May 1st
Now cometh the first day of summer and the first full moon of Taurus, which is Beltaine . And we have called forth praises for the lord of Animals and to the Fair lady of the Flowers who bring great blessings to our lives.

From now until Samhain is the time of the Greater Sun, and shall it shine forth within our souls, for in truth Bealtaine means bright fire.

And we have raised up a mighty May-pole, true and fair, like a tree which riseth up into the sky, and we have lain upon it ribbons, flowers and bright coloured garlands. And all have gathered here about and danced a merry dance around the pole and sung their songs of joy long into the night.

SO too have we lain bright flowers and garlands upon the cattle grazing in the fields and we have tied rowan berries on the posts beside our doorways, and taken time into our hearts to think upon the nature of our strength and the truth of our desires. For at this time hath mighty Lugh, Lord Light and King of the Sky, come forth to make his conquests in the world.

Summer Solstice
Litha
June 20/21
An Invocation for Summer
Fireflies and Summer Sun,
In circles round we become as one.
Singing songs at magic's hour
We bring the winds and timeless power.
Turning inward, hand to hand
We dance the hearth to heal our land.
Standing sacred beneath the Sky
We catch the fire from out it's eye
Swaying breathless beside the sea
We call the Goddess, so Mote it be!

The Sabbat of Midsummer-The Summer Solstice, June 20 or 21

SUMMER SOLSTICE (Midsummer, Litha) is the longest day of the year. It is a time to celebrate vitality, creativity, vigor, health and abundance. All over the world, people gather to honor and acknowledge this time of Light and Energy and to connect with this Solar tide of abundance, health and the beginnings of the fruits of their labors.

One of the customs associated with the Summer Solstice is the blessing of animals: pets, familiars, work animals and animals which will be slaughtered in the Fall for Winter food. The blessing focuses on the animals health, growth, vitality and fertility. You may want to bless and charge with energy your pets or familiar to strengthen your bond with them at the Summer Solstice.

Now is also the time when the herbs, both wild and cultivated, are reaching their greatest potency. You will want to gather them before they begin to seed, so that you may dry them to use in your rituals and in the medicines that you begin to make in late summer and early Fall. Collect herbs for which you will use flowers and leaves as the Moon waxes (gets larger); roots are gathered during the Waning Moon. As you gather them, thank each one and cut it cleanly a few inches above the ground for the herbs with which you will use the flowers and leaves. For the roots that you gather, pull gently from the earth, collecting only about a third of the plants so that they will grow abundantly again next spring.

Roses are particularly associated with the Summer Solstice and Midsummers Eve is especially potent for love magicks. You may want to make a rose petal infusion to add to wine, or strew your bed with rose petals before retiring to help you dream of your soul-mate.

Standing stones and stone circles are also symbolic of the Summer Solstice. The dolmen, or standing stone, reminds us of the virility of male energy and of the Sun which in magick and psychology is representative of the male. Stone circles symbolize the ever rolling Wheel of the Year and cycles of the Sun, the natural laws of the universe and the womb of the Earth. If you can find one naturally occurring, perform your Solstice celebrations within it, or leave food and herb offerings within it for our wild-land sisters and brothers. You can also create your own stone circle by placing 8 larger stones at each of the spokes of the Wheel of the Year, equidistance apart, and filling in the spaces between with smaller stones for a circle you can use year round.

Another custom at the Summer Solstice is the practice of tossing wishes and offerings into wells and springs. For a wish or offering of thanks, hold a special stone, feather or sprig of herb in your hands as you focus and meditate on your desire. Pour the desire or gratitude into the stone, feather or sprig and when you have filled it, toss it with power and intention into the well or spring.

The Summer Solstice is the time of the marriage of the Sun and the Moon, which is one of the reasons that the month of June has become the traditional month of marriage and union. One of the symbols for the power of the Sun is fire; for the Moon is water. To enact their union you may choose to create a SunWheel out of weavings of thin, dried branches or braided, dried herbs. You may then (CAREFULLY) ignite your SunWheel and roll it a short distance into running water or drop it carefully into a pool of water to unite the energies.


Lughnasadh
August 1 or 2
Lughasadh (Loo-nahs-ah) is the first of the three harvest Sabbats. In Old Irish the word Lunasa means August. It honors the Celtic sun God Lugh (Loo), but it is principally a grain festival sometimes called the Sabbat of first fruits. Corn, wheat, and barley are ready to be picked in August, as are many other Northern Hemisphere grains. Native Americans celebrate early August as a grain festival in honor or the Corn Grandmother and called it the festival of Green Corn. The ancient Romans also honored their grain Goddess, Ceres, at their annual August Ceresalia. The birth of the Egyptian Goddess, Isis, was celebrated in North Africa near the time of this Sabbat, as was a Roman festival in honor of Vulcan, god of the forge and guardian of fire. In ancient Phoenicia this Sabbat honored the grain god Dagon, and a substantial portion of the harvest was sacrificed to him.
Other names for this Sabbat are First Harvest, August Eve, and Lammas, an Anglo- Saxon word meaning loaf-mass, the Sabbats most common used name.
Western paganism notes that the Irish tradition is responsible for much of the practice and symbolism used by today's pagans at this first harvest. The Irish Sun God Lugh, Literally the shinning one, was a god of many skills and was even said to be able to come into human form to worship among the Druids for whom he was the primary deity. He was also the God of the Harvests, Fire, and Light. and Metallurgy and he was the protector and defender of the week and ill.
Lughnasadh has always been a Sabbat where only grains and vegetables were sacrificed, as animal sacrifices were reserved for the autumn holidays.

Blessed be this season of Lughnasdh, time of the first harvest, time of the earths bounty born. The Womb of the Goddess is opened, and out spills the grain which sustains us.

Mabon
The Autumn Equinox
Sept 21
Harvest Festival.......
Mabon (MAY-bon), one of the lesser Sabbats, is the second harvest festival and is held on the Autumn Equinox to celebrate the last fruits of the year. Some people call this holiday Harvest Home. Night and day are of equal duration on this date, and you can feel the approach of winter and darkness. The Lord is preparing for his death at Samhain, and the Lady is beginning to mourn his loss.
Rituals to honor this Sabbat might include late season vegetables such as squash, nuts, and sheaves of late wheat and corn. A cornucopia, a symbol of prosperity and plenty, is a nice addition to you altar at this time of year. Some witches like to hold feasts or do food magick on this holiday.Blessed be this season of Mabon, time of the second harvest, the harvest of fruit and wine. Tonight all things are in balance: Goddess and God, Life and Death, Light and Dark. Tonight the darkness will conquer the light, leading us ever deeper into the waning year.