Esbats ~ Dark Moon Ritual

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Days should be planned;
the night. . .open to chance.

Full Moon Ritual
Prayers & Chants

We most often have ritual on my balcony due to a lack of privacy in my back yard. Consequently, we do not have access to the ground. Soil is essential for our dark moon ritual, so we improvised. Also - we do ritual sitting down. First, it was necessitated by a need for privacy, but also, it has been my coven experience that standing in ritual often makes people feel more awkward. (Although for large rituals like the high holidays it is preferable to stand, especially if one is going to dance.)

We sit on a carpet used only for ritual. Pillows can be used for extra comfort. The balcony is decorated with a string of small white lights to add atmosphere. Everyone helps set up for ritual and it is all very festive. One final comment on the names we call the triple goddess. Maiden, Mother and Crone are the standard titles for the three age aspects of the goddess. Well - my Mother wouldn't tolerate the word Crone. *Bewitched* was already challenging the image of the ugly old witch and Mother intended to age beautifully (which she did). So, she never intended to have as her Saging Rite of Passage anything that sounding like a Croning Rite. She barely tolerated the word Dowager. She felt that at least Dowager denoted some aura of dignity and nobility. Matron wasn't one of her favorite words, but she thought it better than Crone. (Even matriarch sounded too old to her, which I am beginning to understand as I am called this more often as the head female of the family.) So depending on the rhythm of the rhyme, I use Matron or Dowager to describe the goddess in her Sage aspect as exampled in the Invocation.

Dark Moon Rite

Altar cloth
A planter of soil if not done outdoors
Two black candles set about five inches apart into the soil in the planter to act as a portal to the Dark Lady.
Elemental symbols, incense for Air, pentacle for fire, seawater for water, stones for earth set around the planter.
Bell (to mark the beginning and/or end of the ritual)
Four candles to mark the quarters. (One each, green, yellow, red, blue. Or white or black are okay)
Small dish of small offertory stones
Basket with feast - sweet bread (that our *Freya* always makes or buys) and wine (or cider)

Each member needs:
A pottery or wooden chalice.
Grounding stone (optional, some of us can generate a good deal of energy so we each have personal stones we use to calm us, center us before the rite and ground the excess energy afterwards. I keep extras in the stone box representing the Earth quarter. I don't want any palpitations, shaky nerves or headaches after ritual.)
Sacred garb (optional)
Sacred jewelry (optional)

Light incense:

Ground and Center:


Firmly fix in you mind what you are seeking tonight, if it is a special intention or just a general blessing. Prepare yourselves with a sacred silence or a prayer for guidance, strength or success.

Prayer of Self Preparation:
Edited from Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali.


Into that Heaven of Freedom
Where the mind is without fear
and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been
broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out
from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving
stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into
the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom,
Blessed Mother
Blessed Father
let me awake.


Blessing: (Adapted from ?)


Great Ones: We ask that the earth’s ancient memory awaken at our presence. May the trees anticipate we, who steal into the night for worship and spiritual dance. May the night air stir with excitement as we, your children enchant in the moonlight. May the starlight open into a temple . . . and close behind us for protection. And may the only observers, all the creatures of nature, be our partners in the dance. May the Seeder of Quests direct our steps . . . May the Old Ones protect our passage . . . And may helping hands be extended to us on every side.

Cast a Circle:

Matron Goddess Circle:
Salute the North (Celtic tradition)
Deosil starting in the East


By the air that is Her Wisdom
By the fire that is Her spirit,
By the water that is Her blood
By the earth that is Her body
I cast a circle of Goddess light
On this mysterious Moonless night
With athame


As Above,
So Below

Call the Quarters:

Personification Quarters
Deosil starting in the East

Light the yellow candle:

I greet the East direction of Air, Radiant One and Brother
Guard my circle and guide my steps as I enchant tonight.

Light the red candle:

I greet the South direction Fire, Fiery One and Lover,
Guard my circle and guide my steps as I enchant tonight.

Light the blue candle:

I greet the West direction of Water, Mystic One and Sister
Guard my circle and guide my steps as I enchant tonight.

Light the green candle:

I greet the North direction of Earth, Fertile One and Mother
Guard my circle and guide my steps as I enchant tonight.


The Dowager Quarters/ Celtic Cross
Begin North to South - West to East

Light the green candle:

Keeper of the healing cauldron
Spirit of Earth, I greet you

Light the red candle:

Vessel of unending courage
Spirit of Fire, I greet you

Light the blue candle:

Ancient Dream of our rebirth
Spirit of Water, I greet you

Light the yellow candle

Memory –of each woven thread
Spirit of Air, I greet you

Welcome the Quarters:


Hear our song and join the rite
Praise the day and bless the night
Earth and fire, water and air.
We great you all and the gifts you bear

(Based on the hymn to Ishtar from Acadia)

Banishing Rite

Invocation to the Matron Moon (AC)


We call to Her - through the Wisdom Light
Of the Dowager Moon in Her robes of Night
We ask of the Old One to lend Her power
And whisk away, from us this hour
All that restrains us, all that taints us
All that is hidden that complicates us
Into the dark earth, into the dark night
Dowager Lady, attend us tonight.


Envision the thing you want to release as a dark ball of mist Take the cauldron/goblet in both hands; hold high above your head to salute the Dark Mother.


Come, Mother of the Darkened Sky
The secret realm of the midnight sea
You who open the vault of heaven
Out of the blackness come to me
(Instructs further for the first couple times, but once everyone gets the hang of's not necessary.) Lower to chest level, visualize the habit, person or experience you have allowed to bring negativity into you. Slowly breathe into the cauldron/goblet. with each breath name the thing you wish to banish. When you are finished, turn the goblet upside down into the earth.

After everyone had released their negativity and set their chalices upside down in the soil...

HPS leads but, ALL repeat or say with...

The whole of this vessel I offer to thee.
Absorb and take it - Away from me.

(End of Banishing Rite.)

Coven's Magickal Intention

We petition for Blessing on our Magick (AC) HPS

Grandmother Mystery, Secret moon,
Midnight Veiled from our sight...
Lend your power on the bane
We cast from each tonight...

Everyone holds hands.

We visualize tonight's Intent For_______:(an agreed upon subject decided before we began the ritual)

We Raise Energy
(When it feels right, after some time to do the visualization...HPS leads the chant to raise the energy...(one can usually feel the energy circling in one direction or another - sometimes both!)


Cast off, Release, Remain Unbroken.
A Greater Self, As This is Spoken

As the energy builds, the HPS unstructs the circle to push the energy into the center and release.

Leave a token behind, An offering in the earth for Her aid. (We pass a dish of small stones that we press into the earth.)


We offer you this sacrifice
And all our worthiness in thanksgiving
For the gifts you’ve given us.
Ground & Center

Cakes and Wine:
After passing the bread and wine to the left - Toast to the Gods, Our Ancestors and Friends (AC)


For the blessings of the Ancients Ones
(Raise your cup)
For the guidance of the Old Ones
(Pour a drop on the earth)
For the gifts of this Community
(Clink glasses)
We thank you

Eat & Drink (Casual part of the ceremony. We discuss how the coven magick felt - what our visualizations were or how they may have changed unbidden, how the energy felt, or discuss any magickal epiphany or unbidden event that one or more of us may have experienced together or separately. We love it when we witness the same thing. We often have seconds of the bread or wine, if the conversation is really good. Allow the conversation to end naturally.)

Thanking the Goddess:


Dark Goddess of the waning moon,
Weaver of the web of life
Keeper of the cauldron of rebirth,
Vessel of ancient magick
Mother of sacred memory,
We thank you for your balanced wisdom
Your sage comfort and far seeing sight
Your blessing on our efforts tonight

(Adapted from ?)

We Release the Quarters:
Beginning widdershins in the North


Powers of the North and Earth, go with care.
Until we meet again. (Blow out candle)


Powers of the West and Water, go with peace.
Until we meet again. (Blow out candle)


Powers of the South and Fire, go with love.
Until we meet again. (Blow out candle)


Powers of the East and Air, go with clarity.
Until we meet again. (Blow out candle)

OR Releasing Dowager Quarters Celtic Cross Beginning in the East to West then South to North


Spirit of Air and Memory
I thank you. Hail and Farewell.


Spirit of Water, and Rebirth
I thank you. Hail and Farewell.


Spirit of Fire and Courage
I thank you. Hail and Farewell.


Spirit of Earth and Healing
I thank you. Hail and Farewell.

Goddess Cast Closing (AC)
Beginning widdershins in the North


With the earth that is Her form,
And the water that is Her life,
With the fire that is Her spark,
And the air that is Her sigh
This circle cast,
I now untie


The circle is open, but unbroken.


May the Peace (or Wisdom or Blessing) of the Goddess
Be in your hearts


Blessed be.
© 2004-2012 Ardriana Cahill

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