Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Esbat Full Moon

Esbat Full Moon

June 20 is the Full Moon.  The second Wheel of the Year is made up of thirteen lunar cycles occurring within the solar year—called 'Esbats' by Pagans.  Covens usually meet either on the full or the new moon and a few manage both.  Solitary practitioners are urged to commemorate the moon’s journey through the sky at both times, but the merrymaking and festival night has always been that of the full moon. Never forget that the word “lunatic” means “moon madness.”  

The Full Moon Esbat is used for banishing, protection and divination workings, also planning, releasing and working with time.  It is during this time that the God becomes the strong Father figure who cares for the Earth and all its creatures.  The Father is the ripeness of manhood and in his prime, a great leader.

Sun Moon of June.  The sun is at its strongest during the Summer Solstice, a time when the day is the longest.  Also known as the Strawberry Moon because of the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year during the month of June.  Plan a ritual to balance your spiritual and physical desires.

The Ceremony of Cakes and Ale is an easy ritual to perform, and one that is very common at Esbats.  It usually concludes any esbat ritual whether it is a group or a solitary affair.

The format and concept may already be familiar to you. If you grew up as a Christian, you will notice the similarity between the Pagan ritual and the Christian communion service, which sees the bread and wine as symbolic of the body and blood of their savior deity, Jesus. If you grew up Jewish, you notice the similarity to the Kiddush, or wine blessing, and the Hamotzi, or the thanking of God for the Gift of Bread.

The origins of breaking bread with another person as a sign of connection and goodwill go deep into prehistory, when bread and wine were staples of the small tribes of humans who had ceased their nomadic ways. Bread could be had all year long if the grain harvest was properly preserved, and fermented liquids bypassed the dangers of diseases that were carried in tainted water supplies.

For this ritual, you will need a small portion of bread and some type of drink in a cup or chalice. Do not feel you have to use an alcoholic beverage. Many covens substitute juice or even water out of concern for others who may be in recovery. Use what feels best to you. I often use plain water into which I’ve placed some lemon, a fruit sometimes associated with lunar energies. Mead is common in Scandinavia.  

“Cake” is also another word that is flexible and can be misleading, since most covens use cookies or loaves of bread for this ritual. Gluten free options can also be used.

Bread and wine symbolize the body of the great Mother Goddess and the blood of her womb from which all things are born. This is why the Goddess is associated with the esbat celebration; regardless of how many lunar Gods exist, Wicca tends to view the full moon as a feminine symbol ruled by a feminine deity.  For the Norse, he was a male called Mani. 

Whatever the deity, place the bread and drink onto some type of central altar. Take the bread first and hold it before you as if you were offering it to someone else. Speak words of blessing that focus on the gift of the bread from the God rather than blessing the bread itself. Something like:

Blessed be the God who gives himself to us
In the form of a bountiful harvest. Blessed be
His bread, the gift of his body that sustains
And nurtures us. By all that is sacred, so mote it be.

Break off a small piece of the bread and eat it. If there are others working with you, pass the bread clockwise around your circle. Each person should break off a piece of the bread and eat it. As each person sends the loaf on around the circle, you may feel free to offer a blessing to that person, such as, “I pass the gift of life to you,” or “Here is the God to feed the God within.”

Next you will take up the chalice and hold it up, also as if offering it to someone else. The blessing will be similar to that said over the bread:

Blessed be the light of the God in whose
Blood we are formed and from which we are
Born. Blessed be his gift of drink, which links us
To his powers of creation. From his light we
Came, and to it we shall one day return to await
Rebirth. By all that is sacred, so mote it be.

Take a drink from the chalice and, if you are working with others, pass the chalice clockwise around the circle so everyone may drink or honor the blood of the God in their own way. No one should be forced to drink. Some people have allergies to certain juices or to the sulfites in wines, and others may be in recovery. Some fear getting or passing illnesses. Those who wish not to consume the drink may bow to the chalice, hold it to the heart or forehead, or raise it in a toast to the moon.

As with the bread, feel free to give a blessing to the person to whom you pass the chalice. This might be something like: “I give you the gift of life, the blood of the God, our father,” or “Herein is the blood of the God who blesses us with life renewed.”

When your ritual is complete, you should take the chalice and remaining bread outdoors. Pour any liquid onto the ground and place the leftover bread on top of it. The liquid is a libation, your offering to the God, and the bread is a sacrifice that his animals can enjoy. You may even want to make a statement out loud as you give these offerings. A simple sentence telling the God what you’re giving him and thanking him is sufficient, but you may be as elaborate as you like.

Last of all, be sure to ground yourself when you are finished with this or any other ritual.

Some people have preferences of which moon cycle they like best so experiment to find out which ones you like best.

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