For my fourth instalment of the Frequently Asked Questions series I am going to look at the questions I have been asked about Esbats. Here you will find more information about Moon Phases and What magic is favoured in each!
Q: What is an Esbat?
A: An Esbat is a feast that has no fixed date, or day to celebrate; they move all over the calendar. You need to keep a close eye on the phases of the moon and the dates which they fall on.
Q: Why do people celebrate Esbats?
A: An Esbat gives you an extra chance to do Sabbat related magic without needing the sabbat. If you are at work, and want to do some work on a Sabbat but can’t, by looking at what moon you need and is closest to the sabbat.
For Example: If you are planning harvest related magic, you would look at the closest Waxing moon to Lammas or Mabon. The Moon gives magical work a little more umph.
Q: Why is there so many names for the Moons?
A: Over the centuries different cultures have given names to the moon that reflect their cultural and seasonal connections. This is why when you look online you find many different names roaming around. It is important to remember that these names are cultural, so the names of the Moons from the old English, Colonial or Native American differ from the moon names from Australia and New Zealand because while it is Winter in England, it is Summer in Australia. (Click here for our Annual Guide on Full Moons)
Q: Do I have to stick to a list of names from where I live?
A: No, not at all. You aren’t bound to any one single list or interpretation. When you look online you will find that many of the lists have been combined, and Facebook-land has many lists that prove this.
Q: Are Esbat celebrations and magic relate to it’s own magic?
A: Esbats are as flexible as the moons they relate to, and this means if you are solitary because it gives you plenty of room that allows you to put your own spin on the magic; you can make it as simple, as complex or as creative as you want to make them.
Q: How are Sabbats and Esbats Different?
A: Sabbats presents you with the opportunity to celebrate the cycles of the seasons and nature throughout the year at specific points. Esbats grants you the opportunity to celebrate your connection to the Universe/the Divine/Gods/Goddesses. Ebsats are a great time for people to gather to do magical work, to celebrate but also to learn from others. This can be especially important in a coven setting for the elders of the coven to teach the younger members.
Q: Can solitaries gather for Esbat celebrations?
A: Yes; this doesn’t just apply to witches in a coven. You may find that many in the solitary community gather together for a good chin-wag, a cuppa or a glass of wine. However; if you are in a situation where you aren’t able to get to gatherings, you can use this time to study and hone your magical knowledge, meditate or to partake in your own magical work.
Q: I am a solitary witch, and feel lost when it comes to Esbats?
A: When you are a solitary, you can feel a little adrift when it comes to Esbats, I have experienced this myself from time to time. You can an abundance of information about the Sabbats and about activities that you can do to celebrate, but when it comes to the esbats the information is a little lacking. They do seem less defined, after all Samhain will always be on 31st October (in the northern hemisphere) but the moons are in a constant state of flux, their dates are never the same year in and year out. This has led to some solitaries doing vague spells, rituals or magical works because they don’t really understand them. If you are even in doubt, I recommend letting it slide. It is better to forgo doing spell brilliantly than doing a spell and something go wrong, or it not work at all.
Q: Do I have to do magic work on an Ebast?
A: No, if you are a solitary practitioner you are under NO obligation to perform ANY kind of magical work. It’s your path, and it is your choice
A Nixie Look at Esbats
Before I start, please don’t fall into the “the moon is only connected to the goddess” thing I have seen so many times before. Yes; there is an array of goddesses that are closely associated with the Moon, but there are also gods that are related to the moon.
List of Lunar Gods
Alignak an Inuit God
Pah a Pawnee God
Ixbalanque a Maya God
Metztli an Aztec God
Ta’lab an Arabian God
Yarikh a Canaanite God
Kusuh a Hittite God
Mani a Norse God
Elatha an Irish God
Jarilo a Slavic God
Wu Gang a Chinese God
Chandra (Indu) a Hindu God
Tsukuyomi a Japanese God
Thoth an Egyptian God
Osiris an Egyptian God
Khonsu an Egyptian God
Kalfu a Vodun God
Arebati a Mbuti God
The Moon has become a symbol of feminine energies of the Divine, but there isn’t anything saying that you can’t honour and celebrate the masculine of the Divine. This may seem like a really crazy idea, but why not celebrate both; I know this is a little wacky, but give it a try.
Magic of Moon Phases
I used to think Esbats only celebrated the moon in it’s full moon phase, but it actually an esbat celebrates the moon in any and all of it’s phases. This misconception about esbats goes way back. People from way-back-when thought and believed that the light of the Full Moon would guide witches to their secret gatherings by lighting the way for them. We look back at this notion and call it silly because if the moon lit the way for witches, that would mean that others could see them walking around late at night. We have to look at it from the pointed view of provincial peoples and their way of life, and the fear that night could bring.
A long time ago I used to think that the term esbat related to the Full Moon, and I ended up limiting my own magical potential because I had placed a subconscious block on my own spiritual development. It also meant I wasn’t allowing myself to work efficiently either. When you look at the phases of the moon, they blend effortlessly from one phase to the other, they don’t change from one to the other like switching channels on your TV. When you are looking to do a spell for ritual that requires a certain moon phase you don’t have to stay awake until stupid o‘clock in the morning; this is actually impractical for a few reasons.
1) a sleepy witch is not a productive witch
2) a sleepy witch cannot concentrate what they doing properly
3) life – this is a little thing that is happening all the time; be it jobs, children etc… and being up and 2am to do a spell or a ritual may not be the best thing for you when you have the to do a school run or an early shift at work. If you are able to do this, wow! That’s great. I wish I had your energy. If you can’t, please don’t fret, it’s your path after all, and you shouldn’t give you have hard time if you can’t do things.
When you are doing magical work the phase of the moon can be important, especially if it is an special event, you will need to do research about when if the best time to do the work, and then schedule the work appropriately, especially if it’s something you don’t normally do, or haven’t done before.
Please remember that esbats are flexible, just as being a solitary allows you the flexibility and freedom to forge your own way, and do your magical work when it works for you and your life.
*)O(* Rainbow Love, Light and Blessings *)O(*