Esbats and Sabbats – The Holy Days of Witchcraft

A woman in a canoe.

Just about every religion has its own days of power, année sabbatique and celebration. Wicca is no different in this regard. The holidays that Wiccans celebrate usually are referred to as Sabbats, or the Eight High Holy days. Many people occur approximately every six weeks, and denote the adjusting of the seasons. The sun, as a representation of the God, is revered during a sabbat, and the ceremony for a particular holiday can often be performed at high noon. The other type of holy day that is definitely more familiar to most people is the Esbat. The Esbat is a monthly occurrence that generally coincides with the moon being full. It is the night when witches gather to accomplish ritual and magickal workings for the coming month.

This document will detail all of these holy days and hopefully shed a little bit light on what witches do throughout the year to honor their Deities.

The Esbat
As stated above, the Esbat is often a ceremony that coincides with the cycles of the moon. Generally, a single day that it is done occurs when the moon is full, though this is not important. The full moon is significant because witches firmly feel that the power of magickal workings wax and wane with the periods of the moon. When the moon is waxing, or becoming bigger, it is good to perform rites that are drawing things to you actually or increasing positive influences in general. When the moon is actually waning, or diminishing, it is good for banishing influences that happen to be no longer wanted, or getting rid of negativity. Yet when the celestial satellite is full, the magickal workings are at their peak, and is particularly good for nearly any rite that a witch may wish to perform. The fresh moon, or dark moon, occurs when the moon is not seen at all. During this time, the rites that are performed are either for extreme protection rites or negative magicks.

On anything day the esbat is performed, it is done in the morning or at night. The reason behind this is that these rites are meant to possibly be working with the Goddess, who represented by the moon.

The exact process of performing the esbat can be summed up incredibly concisely. The witch or coven will gather for a designated ritual space. There, they will cast a eliptical, and perform rites that will raise their magickal and psychic power, and then direct that power at their own desired goal. Since there are so many variables as to what a witch or group of witches may wish to direct their energy, it is hard to offer up an example of what these rites may are.

However , one of the things that is a common theme among esbats is that it is a time for connecting and communing with Deity. This can be done by the reciting of The Wiccan Rede and The Impose of the Goddess while in circle. Afterwards, time may be used in either meditation or performing acts of divination with tarot cards, runes or other means. This can be followed by a communion of cakes and wine, the place that the gathered witches will celebrate their coming together as well as catch up on the previous month and make plans for the on its way one. Then the ritual circle is opened, the outstanding cakes and wine are offered up to Nature, and the witches will go their separate ways.