If you are not experienced in doing circles, then you need to read this before you begin.
The Esbats in this menu do not all follow the same format and instructions, as they were written at different times, for different situations, and sometimes by different people. Some may tell you to take a ritual bath and cleanse the area first and some may leave that part out, because it is implied.
You should always cleanse yourself and your ritual area before beginning any ritual. To cleanse yourself, take a ritual bath. To cleanse your ritual space, you will take a besom (or broom) and astrally "sweep" the space clean of any unwanted energy. This is especially important if you are using a room that is otherwise used by the family, such as your livingroom, or bedroom, or office. Start at the back of the room, and going widdershins (or counter-clockwise) and visualize clouds or muddinesss in the atmosphere being swept away. Take it all around the room, to the door, and sweep it all the way out the front doorway. If there is a lot of negative energy in the area you need to use, then go around first with sage, burning it strongly and smudging the area well prior to using the besom.
There is a chant that our group uses for doing this:
"Tout, tout, tout
Within and without
Get out, out, out."
Another verse I have heard used for this purpose is a bit longer:
"Besom, besom, long and lithe,
Made from ash and willow withe,
Tied with thongs of willow bark
In running stream at moonest dark,
With the pentagram indited as the ritual fire is lighted.
Sweep the circle deosil,
Sweep out evil, sweep out ill.
Make the round of the ground where we do the Lady's will."
"Besom, Besom, Witches broom,
Sweep out Spirits, sweep out doom.
Rid the Lady's Hallowed ground of demons, imps, and hell's red hounds.
Then stand thee down on her green earth,
By running stream, or Mistress' hearth
Till called upon for Sabbat's rite,
To cleanse once more the dancing site
To guard us all from evil might."
I suggest using something simple, along the lines of the first one, for Esbats, and if you have others present, or are doing a more elaborate Sabbat ritual, you might want to use the first, or both, verses of the second invocation. (I do not know the author of the second set of verses, and if you do know I would appreciate an email so that I can give proper credit to the author.)
Next you can set up your altar area, being sure to double check that you have everything you plan to use in the ritual. It interrupts the energy flow if you suddenly find you forgot something. Don't worry, it won't "ruin" it, it is simply better if you have everything at hand.
Think of ritual work as if you were cooking from a recipe. You read over the recipe first to see if it sounds good to you, then you check your cupboards to make sure you have all the ingredients before you start. Ritual is the same way! Read it over first to be sure it sounds good to you, then assemble all the "ingredients" so that you know you have everything the "recipe for ritual" calls for.
One other note here, the steps above are not necessarily done in that order. For example, often I will get the altar and all the tools ready first. Then I will take my ritual bath, then cleanse and besom the area. Sometimes I assemble the tools, then cleanse the area with my besom, then to relax and get in a completely magickal frame of mind, I will take my bath last. The order, in other words, doesn't matter. Do it however it feels right. If you use the same room over and over again for ritual, and it rarely gets used for any other purpose (like a spare bedroom), then you can forgo doing the besoming every time. The room will remain cleansed and charged from all the rituals done in it. You may want to besom the room again after someone else has been in the room, though. If you show it to friends, or if you do end up having to use it for when company sleeps over. Take a moment to stop and FEEL what the space feels like. You can tell if it needs to be cleansed or if it is fine. Use your own judgement - that is how you will develop your knowledge of these things. If it feels fine to you, then it probably is. If you are unsure, then besom it anyway.
Now you are ready to begin.
"Cast the circle in your usual manner."
"Bless the participants (ablutions)"
"Invoke the Watchtowers"
"Great Rite or Cakes and Ale"
If any of these terms are unfamiliar to you, or you are unclear as to how to do any of them, then please read this first and use your back button on your browser to return to this page when you are finished. This article is about circles, what they are, why we do them, how we do them, what you visualize during them, etc. The Esbats listed here do not repeat all these instructions, since to do so is not necessary once you have the basics understood.
Please keep in mind that our tradition may place the elements in a different position than others. Where you put the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water DOES NOT MATTER, so if you do it differently, just change the order of the directional invocations to suit yourself. Just because every book you read says to do it one way, does not mean that it's the only way it can be done. (It usually means you are not reading enough about different traditions!) In Wiccan practices, it makes sense to put the elements where you feel that they naturally occur according to the climate or area in which you live.
Also remember, these Esbats are shared here for your enjoyment, and perhaps to give you some ideas for your own circles. Nothing that we do is absolute, or cannot be changed! Sometimes people who were brought up in religions that have a strong dogma have this belief that a circle can be done "wrong" and that if done "wrong" it "won't work". If you are pure of heart, if your intentions are pure, if you truly desire to worship the Old Gods and Goddesses, then do your circle your way with confidence. Let your intuition be your guide, for the Gods often speak to us through our intuitions.