The Moon and magic are inextricably linked. The image of the witch dancing below the full moon is prevalent not just in our community but across society. Witches and Full Moons go together like Chocolate and Chilli. (Or is that just me?).
This weekend brings another full moon – around 1pm on Sunday to be exact.
So its natural that my thoughts are turning to the moon. To the effect on our lives, the influence on our magic. The Full moon is a time of great power – and personally I like to start new projects with the Full Moon. So I thought it was the perfect time to delve a little deeper into the relationship between the witch and the moon.
As the only celestial body which orbits our earth (rather than the sun) its easy to see why its so important to us. With scientists unable to agree how it was formed, and the fact that we only ever see one side of the moon, its sense of mystery and wonder is a natural draw.
To the earliest people the moon was much more than a celestial rock, orbiting the earth, held in place by gravity. It was the embodiment of the Goddess flying through the heavens. As far back as 4000 BC we know the Sumerians worshipped the god of the Sun (Utu), Venus (Inanna) and the Moon (Nanna).
Even one of NASA’s own websites acknowledges the importance of such mythology:“The urge to explain and understand the world of natural phenomena cannot properly be seen as particularly scientific, but must be seen, rather, as generally human. It is well known that long before Copernicus described his radical and revolutionary picture of a helio-centric universe that human beings, from around the world, were giving form to the origins, motions and motives of the vastly complex and depthless sky above them. Through mythic narratives of super-human heroes and anthropomorphic goddesses and gods, pre-scientific societies placed order among the cosmos.“ (http://lunar.ksc.nasa.gov/history/mythologyh.html)
From those earliest times human have been aware of the relationship between the moon and the tides of the earth, which rise and fall because of the gravitational pull between the moon and the earth. It also provided a great light in the sky, making some times of the moon safer for travel, hunting or magic making.
Indeed as Autumn marches toward winter we have the Harvest Moon on the horizon (the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox) and as October draws to a close then Hunter’s Moon – perhaps providing light to the hunter stalking his prey, or perhaps lighting the way for the wild hunt to ride the skies.
Tracking the Phases of the MoonI’m sometimes asked for recommendations for knowing the moon’s phases. When I suggest people look into the sky I probably seem glib or sarcastic.
I’m not being.
Last week I talked about opening your eyes and looking to track the seasons. The same is true with the moon. There is more to be gained magically from looking at the sky every night and tracking the phases of the moon than there is from a perfectly planned full moon ritual completely devoid of actually looking at her.
The simplest and most powerful thing you could do to attune yourself with the energies of the moon is to commit to spending 5-10mins outside every night for the next month and track the moon’s journey through the sky through an entire moon cycle:
When does it rise?
Where does it rise?
Is it waxing or waning?
How bright is it?
How do you feel?
Now if its cloudy you wont see the moon easily. And it may not rise where you expect her to – or as high as you expect. The moon rises lower in the summer months because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis towards the sun. Some months it has barely risen above the tree line.
But whatever you see or don’t see will reveal something to you. The secrets are there for those with eyes to see.
But I except some planning is necessary. When you work in a coven you can’t just wait until the moon appears full and ring up everyone and shout ‘we’re on for tonight folk!’ – but it should supplement not replace your eyes.
The best website I know for moon timings is www.lunarium.co.uk – and its great for planning ahead. I also highly recommend the Witches Almanac or the Farmer’s Almanac.
He or She?
Its common to refer to the Moon as ‘she’ and associate the full moon with the Goddess – as some ancient cultures did. But as with everything I recommend holding beliefs lightly.
The Moon is not devoid of masculine. Indeed there is a man in the moon!
The man in the moon came down too soon, and asked his way to Norwich;He went by the south, and burnt his mouth with eating cold plum porridge.
And when the moon is dark, we see what is behind. The lack of light reveals as much as the full moons light reveals – and for me that is the Lord of the Greenwood. A post for another time perhaps.
How do we mark the Full Moons?
Another common question is how to do a full moon ritual. Unless you are already proficient with ritual I don’t recommend this approach to magical moon working. I recommend just being out in the moonlight. Sitting under her light and experiencing her energy. Gazing at her and breathing in the moon light – allowing it to circulate around your body. Feeling the delicate silver light covering your skin and just allowing yourself to go with the flow.
If you want to do something a little more structure maybe just speak to her? Open yourself up and speak what’s inside you? Or a poem.
Perhaps a meditation. The moon has no independent source of light – it is a reflection of the sun. We cannot gaze directly at the sun, but we can look at its reflection unhindered. And looking at the reflection learn something of its source. This is something worth meditating upon.
The very best experiences I have had of the full moon – the most transformational magical experiences – have not involved ritual. They have involved laying on a ferry deck from Italy to Greece all night just watching her light dance on me and the waves. Laying in a field with my coven breathing in her essence and singing folk songs. Or sitting on a bench with the 3 most wonderful women in the world at midnight watching her scrapping the top of the mountain as she rose over the Garth.
Each changed me. With no formality, no pressure, no words to remember or steps to rehearse. Just a communion between me and the moon.
I highly recommend it.