Witches’ Esbats and the Charge of the Goddess

An Esbat is a gathering of witches at any time other than Sabbath and its celebrations correspond to the celebrations of the full moon. During Ebats witches carry out different rituals to honor and maintain relationships with a shared deity and to honor spirits and ancestors.


When the moon is full, she calls the witches to come together and worship their Goddess. These magical and mysterious celebrations known as Esbats are intended to allow your heart to become a magical temple, in which the spirit of the Moon Goddess will be embodied. The full moon is about thirteen times in a year so there are thirteen Esbats.

During this ceremony, the Goddess sows in a witch’s heart, her knowledge, love and eternal wisdom. But for this to happen, you must prepare your Esbat as the Goddess asks in her mysterious text entitled “The Charge of the Goddess”. It will be in this text that you will find secret keys on how you should prepare this magical holiday, so that the eternal love of the Moon Goddess illuminates your heart and that she considers you as one of her daughters.



The Charge of the Goddess is attributed to Doreen Valiente and this poem was originally found in the Gardnerian Book of Shadows. In composing this piece, Valiente used materials from Aleister Crowley’s writings and from the Gospel of Aradia by Charles Leland (1901).

This piece is commonly used to invoke the “Goddess” during Esbats and Sabbats. Below is Starhawk adapted version of the poem.


Now listen to the words of the Great Mother, who was of old also called among men Artemis, Astarte, Athene, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Dana, Arianrhod, Isis, Bride, and by many other names. At her altars, the youth of Lacedaemon in Sparta made due sacrifice.


Whenever ye have need of anything, once in the month and better it be when the moon is full, then shall ye assemble in some secret place, and adore the spirit of me, I am Queen of all witches.


There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets; to these will I teach all things that are as yet unknown.

And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be truly free, you shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise. For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit and mine also is joy on earth; for my law is love unto all beings.


Keep pure your highest ideals; strive ever towards them, let nothing stop you or turn you aside.

For mine is the secret door which opens upon the Land of Youth, and mine is the cup of the wine of life, and the Cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Vessel of Immortality.


I am the gracious Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man.

Upon earth, I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond death, I give peace, and freedom and reunion with those who have gone before.

Nor do I demand sacrifice; for behold, I am the Mother of all living, and my love is poured out upon the Earth.


Hear the words of the Star Goddess, the dust of Whose feet are the hosts of Heaven, whose body encircles the universe:

I am the beauty of the green earth, and the white moon among the stars, and the mystery of the waters, and the desire of the heart of man.

I call upon thy soul to arise and come unto me. For I am the soul of Nature, who gives life to the Universe.


From me all things proceed, and unto me all things must return; and before my face, beloved of gods and of men, let thine innermost divine self be enfolded, in the rapture of the infinite.

Let my worship be within the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.


Therefore, let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.

And thou who thinketh to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou knoweth the mystery; for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.


For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.”

This teaching of the Goddess plays an important role in the magical rituals of most Wicca covens. Almost all the rituals, especially those of full Moon meetings, eight Sabbaths, and all the enthronements, include the reading of this text.

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