Friday, February 28, 2014

E- Esbats

Eat, drink, and be merry. Would be a phrase to best sum up the Esbats within Wicca. Esbat is taken from the Old French s'esbattre, meaning to frolic and amuse oneself. Along with “Sabbat” this term is another that we can attribute to Margaret Murray, as she took it from the witch trial accounts. Sabbats are held to celebrate the turning of the seasons and to honor the Gods, they are largely solar in nature. Esbats still honor the Gods but it celebrates the moon, therefore, lunar in nature.

Esbats are generally held on the full moon, but other rites can be reffered to as esbats as well, Doreen Valiente was known to distinguish between full moon Esbats and other Esbatic occasions. The full moon is the most common time, due, in part to “The Charge Of The Goddess” quote of “whenever you have need of anything, once a Month, and better it be when the moon is full...” and of course, Witches in general being associated with the full moon and the “lunacy” that came about around the time of the full moon. The full moon is thought of as the height of power, a time when the Goddess' magic is at her peak. Naturally, this is the perfect time for all spells and magick to be done.

There are 13 full moons in a year, each carrying its own name depending upon the tradition that one follows. Esbats are often celebrated with cakes and ale (or wine or juice). Drawing Down the moon is another common practice, where you are either taking in the moons(Goddess) energy to help you with whatever work you will be doing. Or, in the case of some more traditional covens (e.g. British Wicca) the Goddess is invoked into the High Priestess and the Goddess speaks through her, in a form of trance work. Still, the general idea here is really the same, to commune with the Gods, and be joyful and jubilant. Still in part serious buisness, its fun business! As it is often seen that the celebration itself its the gift to the God/Goddess.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Drawing Down The Moon

Reality is that there are really two types of Drawing Down The Moon.  It is this way because the reality is that a solitary drawing down, is very different from a coven drawing down.  Due to the fact that a solitary practitioner has no one around to act as oracle.  In a traditional coven structure the High Priestess would have the moon called upon her, in the book "Fifty Years Of Wicca" Frederic Lamond calls this "Ego-Transcendence" the Priest or Priestess BECOME the deity.  They have entered a trance state at will set aside their own consciousness and melded with the universe, to become a vessel for the God or Goddess to come through and relay any messages (or act out the Great Rite).  In a traditional coven structure then when the moon was drawn down upon the High Priestess she would then be acting as oracle to the coven and allowing all messages from the Goddess to be heard by all of the coven.  This however is sadly rarely used in this context even in most covens today.  The recitation of the "Charge Of The Goddess" was meant to be a placeholder, in case for some reason the Goddess did not come through, even if the High Priestess was in a proper trance state.  In some instances the Charge would be used as a prelude to the channeling of the Goddess wisdom. (Or the God, as done in a Drawing Down the Sun)

Most of us though are much more familiar with a Drawing Down that is more of a taking in the energy of the Moon, the Goddess energy, to channel into our other workings.  It is as if asking for the Goddess to be with us, rather than take over our bodies.  We may share, but we don't tend to allow her full control.  Which, when you are talking about a solitary rite is probably that much for the better!  For most of us Drawing Down the Moon is more like a meditative rite allowing us to fill up with the energy of the Moon/Goddess.  Taking in what we may need to help us with a magickal working or rite, or other task we may have in mind.  Do you need to talk to your boss about something and are a bit scared to do it alone?  You don't have to!  Make no mistake, a solitary Drawing Down can be a very powerful ritual!  Different does not equal worse, just because you may lack a coven or coven training and you may do things in a different manner doesnt mean that you are lacking in your workings, it just means they are tailored to you and your needs just as one coven has differences in rites that they do.
For the following it will be the latter version of a Drawing Down, as I need one for the full moon I am holding (my first with a group!)  This is best done where the moon is visible but certainly not necessary, I live in the Pacific NW, we get plenty of cloud cover the sensation is still the same if we are outside with the moon visible, outside with it not visible, or if we are inside.  Outdoors with the moon visible makes it a bit easier to connect, but it is done without too much extra trouble.  Normally this is something that is a personal practice and I would not write it down, I just feel it and allow the flow to take over.  However, this one is meant to be shared!

Raise your arms (Goddess position) and gaze at the moon, or picture it in your mind.  If you have not already close your eyes, hold the image of the moon in your mind, it is full, magickal, and breathtaking.  Now imagine a beam of radiant silver light entering at the crown of your head.  Allow this silver light to fill you, starting at your head and working down to your neck, through your shoulders, down your arms and chest.  Feel the vibration of the energy as it continues to pour into your body and expands your personal power and the energy that you now feel.  This silver light washes away all anger, hurt and fear that you may have, filling all of the void that you may have felt prior.  As it continues down your legs and feet you feel revitalized, refreshed and ready to take on the mundane or magickal workings that you need to do.  Once your body feels filled to the brim allow any excess energy to drain back into the earth keeping what is required for you to go on and do your work.  Lower your hands and allow all of the excess energy to drain from them as well.  Keeping only what it is you feel that you need.  When you feel balanced and ready to continue open your eyes.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

C- Candle Meditation

To start you will need a candle, on your altar or some other surface.  This will be your focal point, if you have any trouble with the visualization you can simply open your eyes and see it again.  It does not interrupt your meditative state to open your eyes for just a second.  This can be a great exercise for building upon your visualization skills, and should be done often if you have trouble with this skill.  You can also move on and try different items as your focus, you will find that as you practice, it will be easier to hold the image for longer periods of time.  At first it may be easier to just do the very beginning of the meditation, and later move on.
I also mention "triggers" for this, I have done my own from Christopher Penczak's "Inner Temple Of Witchcraft" but that is not the only source.  Some info can be found here: Anchor or Trigger or a search on "meditation trigger", often this trigger is crossed fingers or the index and thumb touching (think of the "OM" meditation stereotype) but it can be whatever you may wish it to be.  I chose to have mine be the Gasho "praying hands".  I didn't know at the time that it was associated with Reiki at all, but I continue to use it as, I feel that a light meditative state helps when I do Reiki, and it is one of my favorite "calming" hand positions.  Since the Gasho meditation is a practice in Reiki, I find it fits.  I have noticed no issue with any sort of "conflict" that I was once concerned about.


Start by placing the candle on you altar or table, making sure it is a safe distance and that it will not be knocked over, and in an area free of drafts.  Light the candle, take a comfortable position and take a few deep breaths.  Close your eyes and allow all tension to drain from your body, if you feel any areas of extra tension, take another deep breath and allow the excess tension to be released in your exhale.  Continue in this manner until you are totally relaxed.  If you have programmed a trigger to induce a meditative state, use that trigger now.  If not allow a countdown from 13, with each decrease in number bringing you deeper and deeper until you are fully in a meditative state.

When you are ready, open your eyes, and look at the candle.  Notice that it doesn't effect your meditative state.  Keep looking at the candle, until you feel like you can hold that image in your own head.  Now close your eyes again and try to hold the image of the candle for as long as possible.  When you feel the need, open your eyes so you can get a clear picture again.  If you feel comfortable holding the image, try to experiment with the candle.  Can you make the flame dance?  Try changing the color of the candle or the flame.  See how the candle or the flame will react if you speak to it.  Try a yes or no question, perhaps this could be a divination technique you could use.

Once you feel that you have done all that you can do or want to do at this time, extinguish the candle in whatever manner you see fitting.  You now find yourself in total darkness, this darkness is silent and still, and you feel totally relaxed and at peace in this black void.  If you have any questions that you want to ask to the darkness?  Ask them now, you may or may not receive any answers

You now notice a flickering off in the distance and you move towards it as you walk towards the flame you start to become aware of your surroundings.  Feel the ground under your feet, and any background noise you are now fully aware of.  You feel refreshed, relaxed and ready to proceed with your plans, if you asked a question know that even if it may not make sense right now, you will soon understand.

When you are ready open your eyes.