The word Esbat is believed to come from the French word "Esabttre" which means, "to frolic."
The Esbats are tend to be focused on the Goddess in her many guises.
Wiccans primarily hold Esbats on the Full Moon, as they consider it one of the most sacred times of the month, however, many Wytches of other Traditions, including Primordial Wytches, hold Esbats for every phase of the moon, seeing the Goddess in her many phases and working with the different energies she presents at each of her stage. For Primordial Wytchces the Dark and New Moon are considered to be the most powerful and sacred times to work magic, as these are most often associated with Women's Mysteries and the inherent power associated with a woman's menses.
For a Wytche participating in an Full Moon Esbat, a Dark Moon Meditation, Women's Mysteries or a Spell Casting, it is imperative to know and understand the moon's influences in each of its particular phases in order to ensure you are working with the flow of lunar energies instead of against them.
There are, of course, other lunar energies that affect the wytche, her workings and the results of her workings, beyond the main phases, such as Full or New Moons. These may include the various phases of the moon within the cycle, as well as 'special' moons, such as the 'Blue Moon', the 'Harvest Moon' and an 'Eclipsed' Moon.
The Moon Cycles
The following is a basic chart of the various moon phases and the energies associated with these phases. A more detailed study on each phases is contained within the various links on this page.
Thirteen silver moons in year are,
thirteen is the Coven's array,
thirteen times at Esbat make Merry,
For each golden year and a day.
(extract, 'The Witch's Creed', Doreen Valiente's: "Witchcraft For Tomorrow")
This cycle of the Moon refers to the period of time from the New Moon through to the Full Moon. The energy from this cycle is used in "drawing" that which you want towards you.
It's a good time to begin new projects and expand any current efforts. It's also a time to craft workings that concern love, harmony, balance, and peace, as well as protection and healing.
Sun and Moon are in conjunction. The entire Moon appears dark.
Light crescent on right side of Moon.
The right half of the Moon is lit (ninety degrees from sun, end of first quarter, beginning of second quarter).
Three-fourths of the Moon is now lit.
The waning cycle of the Moon refers to the period of time from the Full Moon through to the New Moon. This is the cycle to use for "banishing and rejecting" baneful aspects, such as disease and negativity, as well as dissolving destructive energies of all types.
Moon and Sun in Opposition. The entire Moon is lit.
Dark crescent on right side of Moon.
The right half of the Moon is now dark (ninety degrees from sun, end of third quarter, beginning of fourth quarter).
Three-fourths of the Moon is now dark.
Sun and Moon in conjunction. The Moon is not visable.
Please Note: In the Northern Hemisphere, if the left side of the Moon is dark then the light part is growing, and the Moon is referred to as waxing (moving towards a full moon). If the right side of the Moon is dark then the light part is shrinking, and the Moon is referred to as waning (moving towards a new moon). Assuming that the practitioner is in the northern hemisphere, the right portion of the Moon is the part that is always growing (i.e., if the right side is dark, the Moon is growing darker; if the right side is lit, the Moon is growing lighter), the opposite is true for practitioners in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Full Moon
The Full Moon actually covers three days, including the night of the Full Moon, itself. This is a time for action, for harvesting the fruits of our labors, for realizing that which we began at the last cycle, and of giving thanks.
The Dark Moon
The Dark Moon is the three day period from the last sliver of moonlight to the first sliver of moon light. This is the time of introspection; of looking within and meditating on the shadow self. It is also the time most closely associated with Women's Mysteries.
Moon Void of Course
As the moon orbits the Earth, it passes in and out of the 12 signs of the zodiac. A void-of-course moon is the time period when the moon makes no major aspect with other planets before entering another sign. The duration of this period can be as little as a few seconds or it can be longer than a day. The Moon rules the emotions, so one can expect to experience feelings of "disconnectedness," as well as emotional upsets, turnarounds, and variability. Therefore, it's a good rule of thumb not to sign contracts, start rituals, cast spells, or begin anything that would require any degree of emotional commitment until the Moon is aspected once again.
A Blue Moon is that wonderful occurence when the Full Moon shows us her face twice in one month. Also known as a Goal Moon, it's an excellent time to set new goals for yourself. It is considered to be an extremely magickal time that can be used for any form of magick.
As Lunar Eclipses represent the perfect union of the Sun and Moon, any type of magick worked or energy sent out during this time will be amplified. It is also generally considered the only Moon that is associated with the God energy.
Astrological Influences - Moon Signs