The Minor Pagan Holidays

Esbat Celebrations

A lot of attention is given to the major Pagan holidays across the year, the Sabbats. One doesn’t tend to see a lot of attention given to the minor, but no less important, celebrations which correspond to the phases of the moon and are called Esbats.

Many Pagans tend to celebrate the Esbat at the Full Moon though some celebrate at the New Moon, or at the Dark of the Moon.
While the Sabbats are a time for celebrating and feasting, the Esbats in contrast are a time for rituals, spellcasting and magic.

Full Moon

Full Moon

Moon Phases

Dark Moon

A dark moon happens when the sun and moon are in conjunction and appear to occupy the same part of the sky from the earth. The moon does not reflect any light from the sun towards the earth and so cannot be seen, unless there is a solar eclipse.

The dark moon is a time of growing energy, rejuvenation, and growth. It is a good time for making changes in your life such as ending bad habits or relationships.

New Moon

The new moon comes when you can just see a sliver of moon showing in the sky after the moon.

This is the best time for starting new ventures and new beginnings.
Full Moon

The full moon happens when the moon’s illuminated side fully faces the earth and reflects the maximum amount of light from the sun. This is around 14 – 15 days after the new moon.

This is the time when the moon’s power is at its strongest. According to lore a child born during the time of the full moon will live a long and happy life.

Waxing Moon

During this phase the moon is growing larger in the sky from new moon to full moon. It is sometimes called a right-hand moon as the crescent grows from right to left and resembles the curve between the index finger and thumb on the right hand.

The waxing moon is a good time to do magic used to draw things to your life.

Waning Moon

Between the full moon and the next new moon falls the waning moon. The waning moon decreases from right to left and is sometimes called the left-hand moon because the crescent resembles the shape formed by the index finger and thumb on the left hand.

The waning moon is a good time to do magic used to decrease or lessen something in your life.

moon phases

Moon Phases

Full Moons Through the Year

Celtic Calendar

Different cultures have had different names for the full moons as they come over the course of a year. These are the moons in the Celtic Coligny calendar. The names have been translated by Caitlin Matthews.

Each month alternately contained 29 or 30 days, making a Celtic lunar year 354 days in length. The calendar took into account the differing time periods taken by the moon and the sun to circle the earth (prevalent geocentric terminology used), and reconciled the differences by inserting an extra month on a regular cycle. This method of intercalation meant that most years contained twelve months, and approximately every third year contained thirteen months. This extra month was called Mid Samonios, and was inserted between Cutios and Giamonios in the calendar. Since Celtic months begin on the Full Moon no consistent dates can be given.

Samonios – October/November – Seed-fall
Dumannios – November/December – Darkest depths
Ruiros – December/Januray – Cold-time
Anagantios – January/February – Stay-home time
Ogronios – February/March – Ice time
Cutios – March/April – Windy time
Giamonios – April/May – Shots-show
Simivisonios – May/June – Bright time
Equos – June/July – Horse-time
Elembiuos – July/August – Claim-time
Edrinios – August/September – Arbitration time
Cantlos – September/October – Song-time

Red Waning Crescent Moon

Red Waning Crescent Moon

More Moons

Once in a Blue Moon

Current tradition says that a blue moon happens any time there are 2 full moons within the space of a single month. This happens, on average, every 2.7 years. This apparently dates back to 1946, and in older traditions a blue moon has a different meaning.

For more information about Blue Moons and to calculate when the next Blue Moon will occur, check out the Interactive Astronomy Pages.

The Honey Moon

The June full moon is known as the Honey Moon, or Mead Moon because during the month bee hives would have been filled with honey. Some of the honey collected would have been made into mead. Couples marrying on the Honey Moon would be given drinks of the mead after the ceremony.

Harvest Moon

The harvest moon is the full moon nearest to the autumnal equinox. It often seems to be larger in the sky than other full moons because of the tilt of the earth. Because it rises so soon after sunset in the Autumn months, the Harvest Moon allows farmers to remain in the fields longer to bring in the harvest.

Further Reading



Moon Spells

Mansions of the Moon for the Green Witch: A Complete Book of Lunar Magic



A Year Of Esbats: Celebrating The Goddess During The Full Moon


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