Witchy Stuff 101-Sabbats And Esbats

In The Beginning

I know that when I was a baby witch and starting out on my journey with the craft I had about a million questions but no one to answer them. I relied on books I had to sneak into the house that I bought at Barnes And Noble on shopping trips and later on Yahoo Groups played a large part in connecting with other like-minded witchy people. Yes, that dates me horribly. I also used AIM, ICQ, and MySpace IM to be able to get witchy advice and just to feel less alone in my path. The amazing thing about this new generation of witches is that you have the most amazing plethora of information available to you using the internet. There are thousands of witch and pagan sites with information about everything from sabbats to sex magic and everything in between. There lies the issue though; too much information can be overwhelming. Where do you start in the infancy stages of your witch path? Find someone to talk with in person if you can. That creates a connection and confidence within yourself when you start. If you can’t, then find an online group on Facebook to connect with. Just be aware that the witch community isn’t immune to drama, so take the advice that resonates and throw the rest over your shoulder. Here I’ll give you an overview of our holidays, or Sabbats. I’ll also go over what an Esbat is and why we celebrate those as well. I want to preface this by saying that I am not Wiccan, I am an Eclectic Witch that follows a more green or hedgewitch path. You will find that different traditions will put their own spin on each of these Sabbats so if I leave your flavor out of my descriptions then that’s why. I’ll be going over the down and dirty on each of them; fluff excluded. If you want to know more about each one of these then I can point you to some great sources.

The Wheel of the Year And Sabbats

The Wheel of the Year is the pagan calendar of holidays or Sabbats, following the seasons of the year and the Sun’s (God’s) journey through the sky. Esbats are celebrations of the moon and often are referred to as the Second Wheel of the Year and refer to the moon’s (Goddess’s) journey through the sky. One thing I love about this path is that balance is always a key theme and the way we celebrate life and the seasons reflects this beautifully. I’ll describe the story of the God and Goddess’s journey during each Sabbat. Keep in mind though, that you don’t need to celebrate the deity part of each holiday in order to fully embrace the Sabbat and the meaning. The divine aspects of this are a mirror of the Earth and the Sun’s journey.

The year for some starts with Yule or Winter Solstice (December 21st) and the birth of the God. He is reborn after dying at Samhain earlier in the calendar year. The Goddess gives birth to the God and starts the cycle of the year again. It is the shortest day of the year and from that day forward the Sun and God grows in power and presence as the days grow longer. Celebrations are often surrounding fire and the celebration of the promise of new life once winter is over and the God shines brighter.

Imbolc is next on February 1st and is sometimes referred to as Candlemas or Brighid’s Day. This celebrates the ending of winter and the coming of spring. It is midway between winter and spring and we celebrate the new life that is right around the corner. The Goddess, after giving birth at Yule, is beginning to step into her Maiden role now.

Next is Ostara, celebrated on March 19-22nd but typically on the 20th. This is the Spring or Vernal Equinox, a day of exact balance of light and dark as the day and night are equal. The God is maturing and the Goddess is close to coming into her full power as the Maiden. Here we celebrate new life and new beginnings.

Beltane is the following Sabbat and is celebrated on May 1st. It marks the transition from spring to summer. This celebrates the maturity and virility of the God and Goddess and is a sexy times holiday! This celebration often is a lusty and sexy celebration with some traditions participating in The Great Rite. This is a symbolic reenactment of sexual intercourse between the God and Goddess. At this Sabbat, the God and Goddess join to create life! Don’t let this turn you away from the witchy path, The Great Rite is not a common practice and I mentioned it because it’s the sexy holiday.

Summer Solstice is next with Litha and is celebrated typically June 19-21st. This year it is June 21st. Here is the longest day and shortest night and marks the point in the year where the God is in full power. The Goddess is fully pregnant and embodies the harvest that the Earth will deliver.

Lammas or Lughnasa is celebrated on August 1st and is the first of three harvest celebrations. The God’s power begins to lessen as the days grow shorter. The crops are beginning to be ready for harvest. This celebration is usually a feast celebrating with gratitude of the harvest.

The second of the harvest celebrations is Mabon, on September 22nd the Fall Equinox. The day and night is equal on this holiday and like Ostara, embodies balance. This is the time the God is exiting from the season. Often there are feasts again and gratitude rituals.

My personal favorite Sabbat is Samhain and falls on October 31st. It is often referred to as the Witch’s New Year because this day is the last of the harvest celebrates and the new cycle is about to start again. We honor our ancestors and deceased loved ones at Samhain. The veil is at it’s thinnest here and we can communicate easier with the deceased, so divination is popular during this Sabbat. The God is retreating into the dark and readying to be reborn at Yule.

Esbats

Every four weeks the moon matures into her full glory. Esbats are the celebrations of the full moon and the Goddess. Esbats are the story of the moon moving through the sky and we celebrate the feminine divine. They are the feminine counterparts to the Wheel of the Year and it’s story of the Sun. Some traditions only celebrate full moons, some only the new moons, and there are even more today that celebrate both. There are benefits of each cycle of the moon.

As the moon grows full, we work with magick to increase things and bring things to us. When the moon wanes and decreases, we do magick to banish or release things.

You Do You And Don’t Feel Bad

I connect deeply with the moon and often do more work with Esbats than Sabbats. Yes, maybe that makes me a bad witch but sometimes these big holidays fall on muggle holidays, which makes it difficult to pour my full attention and energy into them. Our mundane lives are often an obstacle to completely throwing ourselves into the witchy path. There are days when I feel like a wild woman, barefoot, and howling at the moon. I feel so in tune with the cycles that I swear I can feel the Earth breathing. Then there are times when I light a white candle, write down a couple things I’m grateful for, and call that my Sabbat celebration. So who cares what Miss 8th Generation Bloodline Witch from Snottyville says you HAVE to do, you do you! We each have our own magick inside of us and no one should tell you how to celebrate your path. So use this information or toss it, that is up to you!

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