Birth Rite: This is equivalent to a non-pagan baptism. The only difference is that this is only asking the Lord and Lady to guard the child until they can choose their own path. At that point, the Wiccaning (as it is sometimes called) is neutralized, although the child will always be welcome in the Circle and at rituals.
Beltane: In ancient times, this Sabbat was done to renew the fertility of the Earth. Sex was a big part of this ritual. The rite itself could take several forms, but the main theme was the Father-Stag takes the Mother-Doe. This could be done by either having the chosen Father-representative making love to the Mother-representative in front of the village, or by having all the young men in the village seek out the Mother-representative and making love to her where she hides. Regardless of which was used, the Father-representative would be the chosen Priest for the entire year until the next Beltane. Choosing the Priest at this time allows the Priest to ease into his duties. Also for the fertility of the domestic heard animals.
Death Rite: This is a ceremony to make the living feel better. It does help the deceased cross over the bridge into the Summerlands, and back whenever they want to. It is commonly believed that the deceased return on Samhain (which is where the superstition that the Dead walk the Earth on Halloween comes from).
Samhain: This is the time I would pick the new Priestess. Again, choosing the leader of the Coven on this night will allow her to ease herself into her duties, since the Priest is the main leader during this time of the year. This is the New Year for Wiccans, and also the time when our deceased loved ones will come back and join us if they choose to. There should be some place in the ceremony to remember those who have died during the preceding 12 months, and in several rituals, there are, but not in the Seax-Wican traditional ritual. There should also be a celebration of the Harvest and a thanksgiving to the Lady for Her bounty. It is also the time for the fertility of the wild animals.
Call to Quarters: Most Seax-Wican Covens don’t use this rite at all, with reason. They believe that the Lord and Lady who should already be there provide the best possible protection to the Circle. Calling upon other entities to further guard the Circle during this ritual is not only insulting, but redundant. I cannot stress enough, whatever you decide to do, DO NOT COMPEL ANYONE TO BE PRESENT AT THIS RITE! If you do so, that is summoning and it breeds resentment in those people that you wish to be friends with. But, asking them to be present, giving them the option of coming or not, is an invocation and shows that you are a considerate person. In other words, they won’t be angry or resentful. You may invoke the elementals of the directions, if you choose I leave this to you. The elementals are: Sylphs for the Air, Gnomes of the Earth, Salamanders of Fire, and Undine (un-dean) of the Water. Any spirit invoked needs to be thanked for its presence. That is common courtesy, and it makes them more likely to help in the future. If desired, different people can do each quarter of the ritual.
Esbat: Any meeting of the Coven should have this rite in the meeting someplace. This reminds everyone that Wicca is a religion and a way of life, not just something you do for fun on a Saturday night. The only exceptions to this are the Sabbats, because you are having the religious celebration anyhow, it is redundant to have another in there again. Many have told me that the meetings should be held on the Full Moon, but I say that the meetings should be held anytime it is convenient for all members. At least twice a moon-cycle. Once on the Full Moon, and probably once on the Dark-Moon.
Shielding and Wards: Be cautious. Anyone inside the Wards can invite anyone they choose into the Wards, nullifying the protection. I had this happen once and it was a pain in the butt to get rid of the entity that came in. As pointed out in the text, the Shields and Wards do not get rid of anything that is already there, it only protects someone or someplace from further incursion or new problems. A cleansing or exorcism needs to be performed first to get rid of what is there, and then the area can be shielded and warded. If you start the shield or ward as a solid ball of energy in the core of your being, and expand it outward, that WILL drive out the negativity, but not necessarily anything else.
Full Moon Rite: This rite does not necessarily have to be performed on the Full Moon. Magickally and Ritualistically the Full Moon time extends two days on either side of the actual event. So, you have a period of five days in which to co-ordinate the events for the celebration. Two days before, the day of and two days after the Full Moon are acceptable to do this rite on. If, for some reason, you have to do two Esbats on the same night, then the Full Moon Ritual only needs to be done once.
Erecting the Temple: A shorter version of this, suitable for one person, follows: Simply envision a glowing line being laid down by the athame as you scribe the Circle. Stand in the center of the Circle, close your eyes, SEE the Circle, and with your hands mimicking what you SEE, pull the Circle up into a dome over you. That’s it. Regardless, when casting a Circle for a coven, SEE the energy flowing down the Sword into the Circle. When the Gods are invited, and all the Seaxes are raised in a salute to Them, SEE the dome pulled up from the Circle over you.
Clearing the Temple: Solitary version: Push the dome down into the Circle from the center. Go back around the Circle and draw the energy up into your Seax. In doing this, the power is never truly lost. As an option, during the coven ritual, you (the Priest or Priestess) may walk widdershins (counter-clockwise) around the Circle, uncasting it as in the solitary ritual. The dome should be grounded during the salute.
Self-Dedication: It should be noted that this ceremony is simply a promise to yourself and the Gods to live by the Rede and the tenants of Wicca. The ceremony Is nicer in my opinion, but please yourself. Simply promising to live by these rules is how my wife (Theresa, MKA Mary) dedicated herself. Many traditional covens have a problem with this kind of dedication and won’t recognize it at all, but not in Seax-Wica. Just be sure this is what you want before you take this step. There is too much out there for you to decide to do this on the spur of the moment.
Handfasting and Handparting: It should be noted that these ceremonies ARE NOT LEGAL in any state, unless you are an ordained minister, registered with the state with all the necessary paperwork done, or if your state has common-law marriage. Even if the state you live in has common-law marriage, they will still have to go through a mundane divorce in order to have the handparting be acknowledged. However, if the couple in question simply wants to make the vows, without bringing the government into it, then by all means, hand fast them. This works especially well when joining a homosexual couple together.
Here is an example of a typical magick working Esbat. This is the order that the pieces of the rites should be performed in. See my class on Ritual for more information.
- Erecting the Temple
- Esbat Rite
- Full Moon Rite (if appropriate)
- Any other rituals such as Initiation, Handfasting, Consecration of tools, etc.
- Cakes and Ale
- Discussion of the ritual to be done
- Erecting the Temple (if any have left for one reason or another)
- Call to Quarters
- Working Ritual
- Clearing the Temple
I strongly suggest that the Circle be re-cast before working any Magick. On an extended Esbat, some people may have left and returned which would weaken the protections of the Circle itself. Once again, if you use the Call to Quarters, do not compel anyone to be present. You don’t even have to use the Call if it makes you uncomfortable.
If you have a joyous ritual, such as an initiation, I recommend that no magick be done on that night. But if you must, Clear the Temple, allow those who must go to go, and allow the celebrants to depart, then re-erect the temple and continue from there.
Here’s the order for when a Sabbat falls upon a Full Moon.
- Erecting the Temple
- Full Moon Rite
- Sabbat Rite
- Any other Rituals (discouraged)
- Cakes and Ale
- Clearing the Temple
If an emergency healing or magickal work needs to be done, it should be done after clearing and recasting the Temple. I discourage any other rituals on a Sabbat, but the Coven Leaders should decide this on a case-by-case basis. I would advise only joyous rites be performed on a Sabbat, such as a Handfasting, Wiccaning, Initiation, or something similar. These types of rituals do not detract from the celebratory mood of the Sabbat. The only exception I can think of to this is doing a Death Rite on Samhain. Since Samhain is about the Dead, this wouldn’t pull attention from the celebration at all. In further researches, I have discovered that it was customary to do divinations on Samhain to find out what the new year had in store for us, and in this case it is proper to do so again.
Any ritual that you do, I suggest that you rewrite it as little as possible to make them group participation events. People get bored with just sitting around and doing nothing, so it would behoove the Coven Leaders to do what they can to make sure that everyone in the Circle is participating. If the Coven is pushed into the role of spectator, then the ritual is ineffective. The purpose of ritual, after all is to focus the group’s will and attention on the Magick on hand.
I have seen many religious ceremonies in which one or two people do the entire ritual, unassisted, and the worshipers become spectators and observers. Thus they become bored and their attention wavers and the whole reason to be there is defeated. I have even seen this in the Pagan and Wiccan Community. It is a sad state of affairs when this happens. In a celebratory ritual, the purpose of it is to allow everyone to show their appreciation and love of that whom they worship. They can’t do that if there is no emotional investment on their part.
Equinox and Solstice Sabbats: While the major Sabbats mark the transition time from one deity to the other, or mark the midway point in their time, the Solstices and Equinoxes mark the time of waking or sleeping. Take note that this is a belief of Mary’s and my self’s only. We believe that on Spring Equinox that Rhiannon awakes from her rest during the winter, and that She starts to work on Beltane. Herne, however, goes to sleep on the Summer Solstice to wake at the Autumnal Equinox, taking over from Rhiannon on Samhain, so that She can go to sleep on Yule. Each Deity is awake and functioning for a total of 9 months, and they sleep for 3 months, and together there is three months spent together before the other goes to bed. However, like any good parent, even if asleep, if there is cause for one of them or the other to awake and be with us, they will do so.
Any Sabbat: While it is proper that the Sabbat ritual of celebration is performed on the day it is supposed to be done on, traditionally, for the Celts, the “day” lasted from sunset to sunset, with the setting sun marking the start of the new day. If Samhain occurred on October 31st, then as the sun set, Samhain would begin and last until sunset on November 1st. The actual rite could be performed any time during that day. The reason for this rests on the fact that Wicca operates on a Lunar Cycle, rather than a Solar one. Since the best time to see the Moon is usually at night, the day did not start until then. Plus I have heard from some scant evidences that the Celtic peoples, having come from a primarily nomadic desert culture, operated this way despite settling down. Now, I have not seen many evidences that point to this as having occurred, but it does seem logical. The time you want to be awake and moving in the desert is during the night, and you want to be at rest during the day. The Moon is also closely connected to the Mother Goddess and played a major role in ancient Paganism (at least the Greek style that many are familiar with). Plus, I have personally found it easier to do magick and psychic phenomenon during the night, as Solar Radiation does not interfere with my other senses that much.
Originally posted 2009-11-10 02:24:52. Republished by Blog Post Promoter