An esbat is the regular meeting of a coven of Witches at which religious worship is conducted, business is discussed and Magic and healing work is done. The frequency of esbats depends on the coven. Most covens meet at the full Moon, which occurs 13 times a year. They may also meet at the new moon. Some meet weekly.

The esbat may take place indoors or outdoors. A coven may have a regular meeting place or rotate it among the homes of coveners. The coveners may wear loose clothing such as robes, or they may be skyclad (nude). Animals belonging to coveners usually are allowed to be present at an esbat and to come and go as long as they do not disturb the energy flow of the rituals and magic work.

Animals are not used as sacrifices. At the end of the esbat, coveners share food and drink (see also :cakes-and-wine). The term esbat is a modern one. It may have been coined by Margaret A. Murray, a British anthropologist who wrote about medieval witchcraft as an organized pagan religion. Most Wiccans use the term circle rather than esbat for their regular meeting; esbat is used formally.



  • Buckland, Raymond. Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1986.
  • Farrar, Janet, and Stewart Farrar. A Witches Bible Compleat. New York: Magickal Childe, 1984.

The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – Copyright © 1989, 1999, 2008 by Visionary Living, Inc.


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