Keeping Sabbat and Esbat Work Separate

Lots of Wiccans allow magical work to creep into their Sabbat rituals. Be careful with this. Sabbats are good for ritual drama and meditation upon the turning of the seasons, and attuning to the energy of the earth as it cycles through its phases. In turn, an esbat is usually reserved for magical work. Spellcasting, scrying, divination, and other related practices come into use during esbats.

An attunement can be done through a symbolic action to reflect the sabbat theme or the season. The line between that symbolic action and magical work blurs if the symbolic action becomes too complex. Think about older sabbat-related symbolic actions. For example, Northern European people used to roll a burning wheel down a steep hill after sunset on Midsummer’s Day. The action reflected in miniature what was going on in the season: the bright, fiery sun had passed its zenith and was beginning to decline, and the days would grow shorter from that point onward. A sabbat is a time to interact with the energy of the changing season.

Confusion can arise from the combination of the idea of a symbolic action and the concept of a spell. A spell has a specific intent in response to a specific need. Components are gathered to lend supportive energy to obtain a goal. The components are activated together with energy raised by the spellcaster, and then released toward the goal. A symbolic action, on the other hand, is performed in sympathy with a greater event. Energy may be raised through the symbolic action, but it is to contribute to the cycle as it shifts, or to enhance the attunement the Wiccan has with the macrocosm. The performance of a sabbat ritual leaves the Wiccan energized and attuned, in harmony with the greater scheme of things. No spell needs to be cast to achieve a goal, for the goal is what the ritual itself already provides. Esbats are where we work for ourselves; in a sabbat ritual, we work for nature and for the Divine.

Solitary Wicca For Life: Complete Guide to Mastering the Craft on Your Own

Arin Murphy-Hiscock