Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.
Esbat(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
A regular Wiccan meeting, as opposed to the sabbats, which are held at fixed dates throughout the year. The esbat may be held as often as the coven deems necessary or preferable. Some groups meet once a week, others once a month. The meetings should be held at least once a month, preferably at the full of the moon, so there are at least thirteen esbat meetings each year. Considering the association of the Goddess with the moon, the full moon would seem the most propitious time to meet. In addition, during the persecutions when Wiccans had to meet in secret, gathering during full moon ensured sufficient light to see where they were going and what they were doing without using tell-tale lanterns.
While the sabbats are times purely for celebration, the esbat meeting is a time to discuss problems, plan events, train Witches for advancement, do initiations, work magic, and perform divination, consecrations, and healing. An esbat may be called for at any time—if there is need for healing magic to be done on behalf of someone ill. An esbat is the religious meeting of a particular coven, while a sabbat may have a number of different covens coming together to celebrate.
The word esbat comes from the Old French s'esbattre, "to amuse oneself." Yet the primary purpose of the meeting is to worship the old gods, to give thanks for what has been received, and to ask for what is needed. The Old Religion is one of joy and, as at the sabbats, it is not unusual for singing and dancing to take place as part of that worship.
The meeting starts with the Priest or Priestess casting the Circle, consecrating it and all within. The Gods are invited to attend and prayers are offered. One of the segments of the ritual is termed the Cakes and Ale (some groups call it Cakes and Wine), which is a thanking of the gods for the food and drink necessary for life.
Handfastings and Wiccanings also may take place at an esbat. The former is a Wiccan marriage and the latter the dedicating of a child to the gods—the equivalent of a Christian baptism.
The rituals associated with the Esbats, which are usually known by heart, serve as a form of worship, a means of teaching, an aide to meditation, and a form of communication between the worshipper and the gods. Esbat meetings are usually open only to initiates, because they are specifically intended to develop members who are in training for the Wiccan priesthood.
RelHolCal-2004, p. 267