Category Archives: Moon
This week was my first opportunity, believe it or not, to view a total lunar eclipse. Times when I might have theoretically been able to witness the event, the sky has been overcast. I watched the eclipse from the parking area in back of my house, a rather unromantic spot to commemorate a great occurence but one that afforded clear unimpeded observation. I had to stay up rather late to be visually present, but I was still very alert, and I can corroborate that the moon at first seemed to disappear bite by bite, and then to be present in a greatly diminished state. At first I was incredulous, despite intellectually understanding and accepting the event, as the immediate impact was surreal.
Of course I have been present for every partial and total eclipse in my lifetime, whatever the time of day or atmospheric condition. Without access to a spaceship there is no other choice. I think this eclipse has been unusually impactful, and I mean that in an uncomfortable karma-as-teacher kind of way. A lot of unbalanced accusations flying, with less self-aware people reacting to internal conflicts in a projected manner. I don’t know whether this heightened eclipse syndrome is related to this being a supermoon (moon at its closest orbit to earth), the eclipse occurring so close to the equinox, or Mercury retrograde adding communication problems to an already difficult aspect. Usually I do not do any magic around the time of an eclipse. I find the spell dampened or ineffective and prefer to wait for a more productive time. Beginning a day or two before the solar eclipse and continuing until the lunar, I try to affect my will magically as little as possible. Sometimes other events make this policy impractical, such as the Fall Equinox/Harvest holiday occurring smack in the middle of the two events. Even in this situation, however, I tend to keep the focus on worship rather than tangible goals. I have been taking a vacation even from larger writing projects and spending more time in the woods. I had to come out of retreat temporarily last week nonetheless to use magic to aid someone in a crisis that needed immediate intervention.
For me the eclipse seemed to be winding down even as it began, since I am an Aries and we tend to experience transits before they happen. I think this has to do with the Aries attraction to novelty manifesting as recognition of new vibrations in their prodromal phase, giving way to boredom with them as they develop. In fact, I’m surprised I’m even interested in debriefing this recent astrological event. It was, however, an exceedingly powerful one.
What has been around billions of years, yet is less than a month old?
Back when I was doing child psychotherapy, I liked to read a “Mickey Mouse Joke Book” with a child I was getting to know. It contained a lot of riddles and silly puns that the children usually enjoyed. I would pretend not to “get” the joke and let the child explain it to me, and in this way I discovered something about the child’s cognitive development.Riddles are an effective teaching tool because they thoroughly engage the mind. Most advanced spiritual paths and systems of magic employ riddles as well as puns and metaphors. They aid with memory and concentration and enliven understanding.
Recently I acquired a book on Home Games and Parties, first published in 1891, that has some interesting flower riddles. What flower or plant:Is a Roman numeral?Is a very gay and ferocious animal?Is its own doctor?Has fragrant letters?Is a sunny physician?Flies in the air but is part of a boot?Another form of the riddle is the story that on the surface makes no sense. When Cormac mac Airt travels to the Land of Promise, he meets a party that is roasting a pig without any visible source of flame. The group tells him that a quarter of the pig will be cooked for every truth that is told. The anecdote naturally sets the mind to ponder on the nature of truth.Often the riddle is in the form of a poem, such as the famous Song of Amergin, which begins in the Robert Graves translationI am a stag: of seven tines,I am a flood: across a plain,I am a wind: on a deep lake,I am a tear: the Sun lets fall,I am a hawk: above the cliff,I am a thorn: beneath the nail,I am a wonder: among flowers,I am a wizard: who but ISets the cool head aflame with smoke?Riddles can also be nonverbal. The most famous visual riddle is the “Three Hares” picture. (Hint: Look at the ears.)
This Friday, June 21st, at 12:04 AM Eastern Daylight Time (5:04 Universal Time) the sun reaches the northernmost point in her travels, marking the Summer Solstice. Of course, the sun isn’t really moving north; the northern hemisphere of the earth is tilting toward the sun and will begin a reciprocal tilt following the solstice. But from our perspective, the sun has come to the north. This is a high energy time, wonderful for spell work or for group ritual. Traditionally this is the time when covens that have “hived off” to form their own groups return to the mother coven for reunion. Interestingly, it is not the midday zenith of the sun that is considered the most auspicious but rather the short twilight night.On Sunday morning at 7:32 AM Eastern Daylight Time on June 23rd, we have the full moon in June. The June full moon is always special. Women used to gather dew from the leaves of the trees just before sunrise at June’s full moon to use in their spells. This dew is potent for love charms or anything that the heart desires. This full moon arrives twenty-two minutes after the moon is at perigee, the nearest point in her orbit around the earth. At perigee the moon’s influence is obviously stronger, so a full moon at perigee is very powerful.In the past I have expressed skepticism over certain dates that are promoted as unusually auspicious times for doing magic, but this weekend really is a big deal. The perigee full moon occurring so close to the Summer Solstice makes this an extremely powerful time for magic. Analyzing the various factors involved (waxing versus waning moon, astrological sign of the moon, moon void-of-course, and proximity to the solstice or full moon), I would say that the evenings of Friday June 21st, Saturday June 22nd, and Sunday June 23rd are about equally powerful for those living in North America, although I lean very slightly in favor of Saturday the 22nd. If you live on the West Coast, I would recommend a specific time for ritual: that would be during the very early morning hours of June 23rd between 1:10 AM and 1:30 AM Pacific Daylight Time. At this time the moon has entered Capricorn, the astrological sign of her fullness, and the sun will be at her nadir.Since Mercury is getting ready to go retrograde, don’t expect the results of your spells to manifest immediately. Project your energy toward attaining goals that can come to fruition toward the end of the summer or later.If you live in the southern hemisphere, this Winter Solstice weekend is also powerful for magic. The energies particularly favor the beginning of new projects and (metaphorically) the planting of new seeds.
SourcesMonaghan, Patricia. The Book of Goddesses and Heroines. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1990.Plants for a Future. Salix alba.
Grandmother Moon recently became available again through Amazon Createspace. The book is a collection of goddess lore based on the lunar calendar, a wheel corresponding to the zodiac sign for each lunation. There are thirteen sections or “lunations,” each starting with basic information about the moon followed by a contemplation about a goddess associated with this moon energy. There is information about the emotional side of the moon, auspicious activities, a few spells, and descriptions of lunar holidays. The lunar holidays are usually not European but Middle Eastern, Chinese, East Indian, Native American or Mesoamerican. Z explains, “This was my intention because these cultures have preserved their lunar calendars to this day.”Looking at the section for the upcoming new moon in Libra, October 13–15, Grandmother Moon categorizes it as the “Blood Moon.” Its herb is oatstraw and its animal is the cat. The goddess is the Egyptian overseer of truth and justice, Maat — not surprising since the symbol for Libra is the scale. This is a good time to fall in love and to decorate the home, and the energies of pleasure dominate. In keeping with this, Z offers a spell for physical pleasure. The festivals for this moon highlight the difficulties of incorporating an array of lunar calendars in a solar framework. The Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah occurred at the last new moon and the Hindu festival of Diwali will occur next month. The full moon festivals occurred the end of September. We’ll have to look ahead to the Mourning Moon on October 29th and the festival of Oschophoria, when the full moon in Taurus will celebrate the ecstatic Greek God of the grapes, Dionysus. Sounds like a wonderful time for a party.Grandmother Moon is easy to pick up and put away, skim through and read out of order. It seems tailor-made for busy schedules and short attention spans. It has an index, which is helpful. The rituals, which appropriately focus on the emotions, can be done solo. It’s a great book for developing an understanding of moon energies.
The internets have been in a titter for a week, and no doubt every Blue Moon café, restaurant and tavern is in high celebratory mode. Really, the significance of the Blue Moon is that it is hard to categorize. Solar and lunar time only reconcile about every nineteen years, so there are twelve lunar cycles and some change in any solar year. Whether there are twelve or thirteen full moons depends on which day you start the calendar. Depending on the tradition (and the latitude), we label each month’s moon according to its seasonal significance. Thus the January moon is the “Wolf Moon”, the February moon is the “Hungry Moon,” the March moon is the “Storm Moon,” etc. What happens when you have two full moons in a month? You don’t know how to categorize the second one. It’s also an uncommon occurrence, occurring only about every three years.A Blue Moon is a full moon in which you do something you wouldn’t ordinarily do, and something that you probably won’t do again for awhile. When I had a large teaching coven, the women would circle with the men on that night, just to show that we were not categorically opposed to it (but still not willing to make it a regular occurrence).The color blue in lunar context has some significance. Red is ordinarily the color associated with the full moon (look at it closely some time), a phenomenon that was easier to see when the moon was closer to the earth. Red is a very powerful magical color, associated with the Mother and characteristic of the Dianic Tradition. White is the color of the waxing moon, associated with the Maiden, while black is the color of the Crone and the dark portion of the waning moon. Thus we have the three important magical colors of the Dianic Tradition and many others. Blue is a cooling color less frequently invoked, which nonetheless has its own important properties. If colors are invoked when casting a circle, blue is often linked with the direction of West. In shamanic traditions which are based on the number four, unlike Indo-European cultures, which are almost always based on the number three, blue is usually included as one of the four basic colors.A lot of pagans are saying that the Blue Moon has very special powers, but I disagree with this. In and of itself, the Blue Moon only has meaning if you accept the validity of the Julian calendar. How many of us do? I accept that I have to work with this calendar, to navigate the business and larger social world, but magically my calendar is marked in different time, beginning on November 1st. Other people may start their year at the winter solstice, or the spring equinox, or at some other time. What gives the Blue Moon its significance is the the permission people give themselves to loosen up, be unorthodox, try something new. This is the special energy that drives the Blue Moon.