January Full Moon Esbat

Background
Summer is a fond memory and autumn’s splendor has turned dull brown and gray. The hardest part of winter lies ahead even though the days are lengthening with the promise of spring and renewal. But now it is winter. This is the time of year when many animals hibernate. For us, winter is the time for turning inward to take stock of our spiritual journey during the previous twelve months and to prepare for the year ahead so that we will emerge with spring’s life-force knowing where we have been and where we intend to travel. Now is the time to deepen your winter journey—your self-work. This night is the time to seek the place within you that is pure being, where you are both student and teacher. Learn to listen to your inner voice however it may reveal itself to you. It becomes easier to hear that voice as snow covers the ground and our world becomes a little quieter. Winter brings the power of silence. The light in our homes becomes a little softer as we may favor candles over electric bulbs on some evenings.

January Full Moon Ritual
Moon of the First Circle

Setup
Items needed for this ritual include: Six candles for the altar; White altar cloth (the color of snow and ice); Stars, Christmas ornaments in the shape of stars, star-shaped glitter, etc.; Other symbols of winter that hold meaning for you; Tape recorder/player; Athame or wand; Journaling book and pen (optional).

The Ritual

With your athame or wand, walk the perimeter of your circle saying:

The night is dark, the world is still,
Seeds rest beneath snow-covered hills.
Waiting for spring, I turn within,
To other realms, t’is time to begin .
I create sacred space with this first circle of the year.

Walk to the edge of the circle in each direction respectively as you speak, and then light a candle on the altar. Stand in front of the altar to evoke the Goddess and God.

Hail, Spirits of North, of Earth wrapped in slumber. Below the snow and ice you rest and wait for the time of awakening. Be with me this night.

Hail, Spirits of East, of Air shrouded with winter fog. Your blanket of white brings a quiet stillness to the world. Be with me this night.

Hail, Spirits of South, of Fire warm and inviting. Keep alive the spark of life that sleeps within Mother Gaia. Be with me this night.

Hail, Spirits of West, of Water suspended like diamonds in winter’s icy hand. Hold your secrets until you flow again. Be with me this night.

Hail Lord of Winter, harsh and challenging. Your driving storms bring both beauty and danger. Your lessons I must learn. Be with me this night.

Hail Lady of Darkness, of star-studded heavens. Your crisp cold nights vibrate with the silvery gift of Luna. Be with me this night.

Make yourself comfortable to listen to the tape. You may want to use headphones to block out any unwanted noises that might distract your meditation.

Background
This ritual is a guided meditation that includes time for journeying on your own. You may want to record the following and insert music or leave a silent gap for the journeying segment:

Summer is a fond memory and autumn’s splendor has turned dull brown and gray. The hardest part of winter lies ahead even though the days are lengthening with the promise of spring and renewal.

But now it is winter. This is the time of year when many animals hibernate. For us, winter is the time for turning inward to take stock of our spiritual journey during the previous twelve months and to prepare for the year ahead so that we will emerge with spring’s life-force knowing where we have been and where we intend to travel.

Now is the time to deepen your winter journey—your self-work. This night is the time to seek the place within you that is pure being, where you are both student and teacher. Learn to listen to your inner voice however it may reveal itself to you. It becomes easier to hear that voice as snow covers the ground and our world becomes a little quieter. Winter brings the power of silence. The light in our homes becomes a little softer as we may favor candles over electric bulbs on some evenings.

The fields are empty and the earth seems dead, but the magic of this season can be seen in the evergreens. These magnificent trees are vital and strong while everything around them seems to fade. The dark needles of the yew symbolize the death of the year that has just ended and of the things in ourselves that it is time to leave behind. The bright green needles of the fir tree represent birth of this New Year and the parts of ourselves that we want to bring out or renew. The sacred holly with glorious shiny leaves that protect clusters of red berries is fashioned into wreaths, a circle, the Wheel of the Year. We each live this wheel in our own way and in our own journey.

During winter, this time of darkness, the days are still short and the nights long. Moonlight glitters on the frosty ground, but the air tingles with energy. The brisk air catches your breath. Think of the crystalline night sky. It may be filled with rushing snow or a few drifting flakes, or it may be sharp and clear with pinpoints of starlight. The bracing air tingles. It moves and stirs something within you.

You can feel this sky energy above your head. Reach out with your own energy—out to the beautiful night sky above. Feel its energy vibrating against your scalp. As you reach out to it, you can feel your own energy vibrate with the rhythm of the universe.

Let this energy come inside you. Let it enter your head and move down your neck to your shoulders. Feel your skin and muscles come alive. The clear, crisp winter sky is part of you. Let it move down through your chest and arms; through your stomach and abdomen. As it continues to move through your hips, legs and feet, you can feel the lightness of the energy as it now moves with your own flow of energy. There is a continuous wave of movement from the sky. Feel it circulate through you in an endless stream.

Your entire body may feel light and free as though it could float like a snowflake. Sky energy is buoyant and can help you remain above the potential trials and tribulations of the winter months. Let it help you prepare your winter’s journey. With it you will know that you can travel on whatever path you see for yourself.

As you take this time to seek the way ahead, you may encounter guides who will assist you. They may speak to you or they may take you places and show you things. They will help you learn about yourself, and perhaps tell you what you need to do in the forthcoming year or what you need to do to solve a problem.

Alternatively, you may feel yourself in a familiar place without any guides. What you see or do there will also teach or show you something that may help you in your winter’s self-work. Or you may simply experience a feeling or have an image enter your mind that will aid you in self-discovery. These are only some of the ways that your own true spirit may reach out to your conscious mind. Now, follow the flow of the energy. Let it show you the way.

(If you are using music or a drumming tape/CD begin it now. Allow at least 15 or 20 minutes before saying:)

Slowly bring your awareness back to this room; back to the everyday world. Thank any guides for their help in assisting you, and bid them farewell. As the energy winds down, you may still feel light and buoyant. Become aware of your feet on the floor. Send energy through the floor into the ground. Connect with Mother Earth by giving her your sky energy. When you feel comfortable and grounded, stop sending energy. Breathe consciously as you move back to this realm. When you are ready, open your eyes.

What you may have learned or encountered may not be clear to you immediately, and it may take a day or two or maybe longer to understand. Be patient, this is part of your journey.

When the guided meditation ends, take time to process your thoughts and feelings. Journaling can be helpful. When you feel ready to end your ritual, stand in front of the altar when addressing the Goddess and God. Walk to the edge of the circle in the respective direction as you dismiss each. After speaking, extinguish a candle on the altar.

Lady of Darkness, of energy that moves me with the rhythm of the moon, thank you for your presence and guidance. Stay if you will; go if you must. Hail and farewell.

Lord of Winter, White Warrior of snow and winter winds, thank you for your presence and teachings. Stay if you will; go if you must. Hail and farewell.

Spirits of the West, of frozen Water that sparkles like precious crystal, thank you for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. Hail and farewell.

Spirits of the South, of Fire that keeps the icy chill from my bones, thank you for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. Hail and farewell.

Spirits of the East, of Air that catches my breath in wintry wisps, thank you for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. Hail and farewell.

Spirits of the North, of Earth that sleeps until spring calls, thank you for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. Hail and farewell.

Close the circle:
The first circle of the year is open,
But like the web of life, unbroken.
Through the winter may it sustain me,
In faith and unity, blessed be.

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