Au clair de la lune
An esbat is a celebration of the full moon and of the Goddess. It is considered to be a time of power, when we can draw energy for tasks ahead. I did my usual ritual of expressing thanks for things that happened during the day and wishing blessings upon various people in my life, but somehow it was different. No candles, just the light of the moon. I wish I could have been outside. I often weep during my ritual because it brings emotions to the surface. I did so last night.
I'm really not much of a witch. Even though Goddess and God and all the powers are not literal beings but rather representations of an underlying divine energy, I don't even believe in that divine energy. I'm an atheist, not in the "I know there are no gods" sense (I know nothing of the sort) but in the "I find no evidence for gods" sense, and that includes divine energy that isn't empirically verifiable. I don't believe in reincarnation or in souls either. I'm with Stephen Hawking—when I die, that's it. I'm gone, like entering a dreamless sleep. Since I don't think there is any divine energy pervading the universe, my magic isn't very magical. I do use tools like visualization to change how I look at things, and I think that sometimes that can change the world around me, but I'm not ready to attribute that to any literal movement of energy.
I'm a squib!
And yet it's a curious thing. My rituals are quite meaningful to me. God and especially Goddess provide a focal point for my thoughts and feelings. The idea of Goddess resonates with me. I love the symbolism. I love being in tune with the seasons of the earth and the cycles of the moon. And the Wiccan Rede, which ends with "an it harm none, do as ye will" is a form of the Ethic of Reciprocity, and that works for me. I apply the Rede to my interaction with other human beings, with animals (although I am not vegetarian—yet) and plants, and with the earth itself.
I find myself in an odd balance between hard-nosed scientific empiricism and the world of magic and mystery. The scientific method has shown itself again and again to be a reliable way of determining what reality is. I find the evidence for evidence-based investigation to be overwhelming. Yet I am also a lover of the arts, of music and drama and literature. Human beings engage in scientific investigation (and did so before they knew they were doing so), but we also make up stories and create worlds of our imagination.
The world of imagination is a kind of reality. When I was young, I had a stamp that printed "Frodo Lives!" Of course he does. Anyone who doesn't get that is missing out on an essential part of human existence.
There is a well-known quote from Albert Einstein, which in full goes like this: "I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research."
I know the difference between fantasy and reality. My deities are imaginary. So is what I practise. Yet it has real-world effects. It brings me psychological benefits. In fact, I'd say that's what happens with any religion, at least the ones that aren't overtly harmful. I just happen to know that mine is imaginary. And no less powerful for that.