Lunar Rituals & Celebrations
The moon should not occupy a lesser place in a Witch’s life than the sun. Esbats – lunar rituals – are the times for a witch to perform her divinations, spellwork, and meditations. While the lunar rituals may be held under any phase of the moon, never forget the frenzy of a full moon celebration that gave rise to the word lunatic.
The Lunar Cycle
The great light in the night sky was humanity’s first calendar. In many pre-patriarchal cultures, it was considered a feminine symbol, representative of the Goddess. The lunar cycle has been integral to marking the passage of time since ancient days. There are several names for each full moon now, a mix of Anglo-Saxon, Celt, Norse and from various Native American tribes.
Lunar Rituals for Esbats
Esbats are the gatherings and rituals performed outside the Sabbats that honor the Lunar cycle. Esbats are the working lunar rituals, and are usually held under the full or new moon. An esbat can be held under any lunar phase for a specific ritual or for spellwork. These are times to raise energy, cast spells, perform healings and to honor the Goddess. The lunar cycle alone is a powerful tool during ritual. Remember to regularly meditate during different moon phases to connect with the many faces of the Goddess.
The Lunar Calendar
Thirteen lunar months is a longer period of time than the solar year of 365 days. Thirteen full lunar cycles takes approximately 374 days. Forcing the moon’s thirteen cycles to match those of the sun is not only confusing, but by its very nature places the energy of the moon at the mercy of the sun. To honor the Goddess and the God equally, we can acknowledge two separate yearly cycles, or use the Blue Moon as a point to make any adjustments. So, depending how the lunar months and solar months have diverged, then we acknowledge or ignore the Blue Moon.
This second wheel of the year is made up of thirteen lunar cycles occurring within the solar year. An esbat, or lunar ritual, can be held under any phase of the moon, as may best suit any specific spellwork you have planned. Commemorate the moon’s journey through the sky as you will, for modern lives can rarely accommodate a perfect schedule.
Full Moon Names
Over time, different cultures have given names to full moons across the lunar calendar. Although the most commonly used Full Moon names are English interpretations of Native American names, some are also Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, medieval English, and Neo-Pagan.
Usually falling in January, the first full moon of the year is called the Wolf Moon, Quiet Moon, Stay Home Moon, Moon After Yule, Severe Moon or Center Moon.
The second full moon of the year, often falling in February is known as the Snow Moon, Hungry Moon, Bear Moon, Storm Moon or Ice Moon.
The last Full Moon of the winter season, usually in March, is referred to as the Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Snow Crust Moon, Sap and Sugar Moon, Lenten Moon, Wind Moon, Plough Moon, Death Moon or Chaste Moon.
The first full moon of Spring, usually in April, is the Pink Moon, Breaking Ice Moon, Moon of the Red Grass Appearing, Egg Moon, Budding Moon, New Shoots Moon, Seed Moon, Growing Moon, Awakening Moon or Paschal Moon.
Generally in May, the second full moon of Spring is called the Flower Moon, Budding Moon, Egg Laying Moon, Planting Moon, Milk Moon, Mothers’ Moon, Bright Moon, Hare Moon or Grass Moon.
The last full moon of Spring - in June - is the Strawberry Moon, Berries Ripen Moon, Green Corn Moon, Hot Moon, Mead Moon, Horse Moon, Dyan Moon, Rose Moon, Flower Moon or Planting Moon.
July hosts the first full moon of Summer, referred to as the Buck Moon, Salmon Moon, Raspberry Moon, Thunder Moon, Claiming Moon, Wyrt Moon, Herb Moon, Mead Moon or Hay Moon.
The second full moon of Summer falls in August, and is called the Sturgeon Moon, Dispute Moon, Lynx Moon, Grain Moon, Corn Moon or Lightning Moon.
In September, the full moon is the Corn Moon, Wine Moon, Song Moon or Barley Moon. If this is the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox, it is the Harvest Moon.
The first full moon of Autumn is generally in October. If this is the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox, it is the Harvest Moon. It is also known as the Hunter’s Moon, Drying Rice Moon, Falling Leaves Moon, Freezing Moon, Seed Fall Moon or Sanguine Moon.
November is usually host to the second full moon of Autumn, known as the Beaver Moon, Frost Moon, Freezing Moon, Mourning Moon or Darkest Depths Moon.
In December, the full moon is called the Cold Moon, Moon Before Yule, Long Night Moon, Oak Moon or the Full Cold Moon.
Exceptions and Special Moons
A Blue Moon Isn't Always The Second Full Moon In A Month
Esbats, lunar rituals, are a Wiccan’s time to connect with the Goddess, to celebrate the endless cycles that surround us.