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Wondering in the Dark: A Dark Moon Ritual for Fall

This article was written by Gail Wood
posted under Pagan

The moon shines in our skies in various phases, from one of full light to completely dark and to just a sliver. On the first day this article appears will be the New Moon, a time when the moon reappears out of the darkness in a slim, sharp crescent. In ancient times, the peoples of the world waited out the dark moon times and celebrated the reappearance of the moon, in newness. To them, it was a reaffirmation that their gods still loved them and that life would continue.

The three days preceding the new moon is the dark moon phase, a time when many—even witches—say it is a time to forgo meditative and magical activity. If you have read my book, Rituals of the Dark Moon: 13 Lunar Rites for a Magical Path, you will know that I believe and know that the dark moon phase is a time to move deep within to find our own radiant magical selves. Often the darkness hides things from us, things we don’t wish to see. Some things remain hidden and neglected unless we move inward to explore our own mystical selves.

When we bravely take that inward journey, we find not only the things that frighten us but also the things we didn’t understand. These can be unappreciated gems of love, forgiveness, or compassion. Looking through eyes not blinded by light but filled with the dark wonder of it all, we can gain and regain our undiscovered treasures.

When I wrote the book, I was exploring and learning astrology and created rituals for each of the thirteen dark moons in a year. The meditations guide us to explore our own starry, magical inner being. Since that time, I’ve explored other aspects of the Dark. It is exciting to connect the dark moon to the rhythm of the natural world. We can explore our glowing inner wisdom through the things we find in the natural world.

For many years now, I’ve been celebrating the full moons with my friend and sister-High Priestess, Lady Thia Moonstone. For several years, we practiced in her apple grove under the full moon skies. The full moon calls her to the outdoors to find the Goddess just as the Dark Moon calls me to find the Goddess within. In that apple grove, aptly named after the sacred land of the apples, the Avalon Grove, we celebrated the light of the Goddess. Apples became a special and sacred symbol for our work there. Even after the Avalon Grove was closed after Thia and her family moved, the apples continue to beckon me.

I have found the wisdom of the dark in the apple as well as the light. In Christian lore, the apple is often considered “the forbidden fruit,” likening the apple with temptation and the fall of man into sin. In Greek myth, the golden apple was tossed by the goddess of discord, Eris, to create jealousy, competition, and greed. More strongly are the lovely legends of immortality and love that are associated with apples. Pomona was the Roman goddess of fruit trees, especially the apple. She was known as the “Apple Mother” and gave the apples of eternal life. In Arthurian legends, the isle of Avalon is a place of lushness, immortality, and joy. Its very name means “Isle of Apples.” In Irish legend, the silver branch of the apple tree would banish pain or bring sleep to the weary. It is the magical tree and fruit of both the Otherworld and the creatures of lore and magic; we, too, are the creatures of lore and magic.

It is one of the things we hide away in the darkness, our sense of our own magical being and the idea that our stories are lore worth telling and worth celebrating. To regain that sense of wonder about ourselves, we can journey inward at the dark moon to explore the magic of the apple and of our own marvelous selves.

If you cut an apple horizontally or, as they say, around the waist, the seeds are arranged in five points around the center core. It is a reminder that the pentacle occurs in the natural world and connects us to the mind and the heart of the Goddess and the God. The natural world is constantly talking to us and reminding us that we are connected in a very sacred way to our gods.

A Dark Moon Meditation
September is a perfect time for this dark moon meditation. It is the harvest time for apples and apples have long been associated with back to school. You will need at least one apple, cut lengthwise across the middle to reveal the star-shaped seeds within.

Take a few moments to create a sacred space that is clean, comfortable, and pleasing to you. Remove distractions and spend some time breathing in the calmness of your wonderful space. Connect yourself to the earth mother by sending down roots and connect yourself to the dark moon by sending your energy outward into the universe, feeling the embrace of the dark moon hold you safe, secure, and open to wonder. Once you are grounded in mother earth and held in the embrace of the dark moon sky, take a deep breath and begin.

As you breathe deeply into your connections of earth and darkness, find yourself in your favorite outdoor space. It is sunset and you feel the crisp air of the fall of the year. As you breathe deeply, the sun sinks downward below the horizon and darkness settles into your favorite place. All your senses are alive as you drink in the sounds and smells of this wonderful place. As you feel the energy of the place, you become accustomed to the darkness and you start to see things around you. You become aware that this is harvest time.

You hear someone approach you and you realize it is Pomona, the Apple Mother, Goddess of the Fruit Trees. She is dressed in the robes of fall and she comes before you and hugs you. She kisses you on both cheeks and wishes you good harvest. She takes you by the hand and leads you to a table laden with the fruits of the harvest.

As you sit there, she feeds you fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables and talks to you about what is in your heart. As you listen, you feel her love comfort you and fill you with calmness [pause to listen].

She takes an apple and cuts it across the waist and shows you the five seeds that form a star. With her knife she traces a pentacle from the top down to the left foot to the right hand to the left hand and to the right foot and to the top again. She tells you, “From spirit to earth to water to air to fire and back to Spirit again, we are all part of the one.” She pries a seed from the left foot of the pentacle and says, “This represents your journey through the element of earth. Eat this seed and let the wisdom of your earth’s journey unfold within you.” You eat the seed and feel the earth’s wisdom unfold inside you, taking you on a journey within. [Pause to listen]

When it is time, she touches your hand and you look at her as she pries a seed from the right hand of the pentacle and says, “This represents your journey through the element of water. Eat this seed and let the wisdom of your water’s journey unfold within you.” You eat the seed and feel the water’s wisdom unfold inside you, taking you on a journey within. [Pause to listen]

When it is time, she touches your hand and you look at her as she pries a seed from the left hand of the pentacle and says, “This represents your journey through the element of air. Eat this seed and let the wisdom of your air’s journey unfold within you.” You eat the seed and feel the air’s wisdom unfold inside you, taking you on a journey within. [Pause to listen]

When it is time, she touches your hand and you look at her as she pries a seed from the right foot of the pentacle and says, “This represents your journey through the element of fire. Eat this seed and let the wisdom of your fire’s journey unfold within you.” You eat the seed and feel the fire’s wisdom unfold inside you, taking you on a journey within. [Pause to listen]

When it is time, she touches your hand and you look at her as she pries a seed from the top point of the pentacle and says, “This represents your journey with Spirit. Eat this seed and let the wisdom of Spirit within you.” You eat the seed and feel the Spirit wisdom unfold inside you, taking you on a journey within. [Pause to listen]

Finally you come back to the abundant table of Pomona, full of wisdom and new knowledge. She speaks to you of how you can use this knowledge to find your own wonder and darkness. She tells you of your stories. Finally, you and she eat the apple together. When you are finished, you bury the core in the heart of the earth mother. As you wipe the earth from your hands, she looks deep into your eyes and smiles. She kisses you and is gone, though ever inside you.

And with a deep breath, you come back to your sacred space. With another deep breath you reaffirm your connection to mother earth and with a third deep breath, you open your eyes, fully in the here and now.

Take some time to write down the wisdom of your meditation. Find a way to express it by writing, drawing, singing, dancing, or whatever talent you may have. Also take some time to eat and drink something nourishing. Perhaps a glass of cider raised to the Apple Mother and a piece of pie in honor of the earth mother.

Blessed Be.


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