When people start off with magick they usually begin with general externals and specific internals.
By this I mean they begin with the externals of the ritual being rather generalized—everything colored red for added energy, for example—along with a specific intention such as bringing yourself more energy to “pull an all-nighter” studying for a test. For some people general externals and specific internals are effective enough and are all they will ever need or use.
However some people, including myself, want to use externals that are more specific. The idea behind this is that the more specific everything is, the more the magick is focused and directed toward your goal.
To this end, magicians such as myself use correspondences. Thus, I’ll use both traditional symbols and/or symbols I create specifically for the purpose of a particular magickal ritual. I might use a Tarot card to represent a particular magickal goal. I may take an entire series of specific symbols and include them on a talisman that I’ll charge.
The Power Above Us
As a way of advancing this specificity, magicians often use the power of the Sun and Moon. For the Sun, we use a technique known as the planetary or magickal hours. This divides the hours from sunrise to sunset (and sunset to sunrise) into twelve equal divisions. Each division is related to a planet. This is usually equated only with the power of a specific planet: Mars has certain qualities associated with conflict, strength, and courage. Jupiter has qualities associated with speculation, gambling, leadership, and health. I discuss this in Modern Magick.
Now, here’s a secret I did not overtly reveal and I don’t know of it being published anywhere else. Personally, I’ve always thought it would be self-evident, so I didn’t stress it. But some people haven’t figured it out, so I’ll reveal it here.
In Modern Magick I wrote that the best time to charge a talisman is on “the day and in the hour associated with the planet appropriate to your working.” Sadly, I have yet to have anyone ask why this is so. In the newest edition of the book I stressed that, as Dion Fortune stated, there is no room for authority in occultism. There should be a reason for everything that is more substantive than “some famous occultist wrote it.”
So what is the reason that using both the day and hour associated with a planet makes the best time for charging a talisman? The answer is simple: it’s because the energy of the day and the energy of the hour modify each other. Doing a working during the hour of the Sun on Sunday (the day of the Sun) is more likely to be successful than one performed during the hour of the Sun on Monday (the day of the Moon). The more specific you get, the more your energies are focused toward achieving your goal.
Adding the Moon’s Influences
Generally, magicians who also add the Moon’s energies do this on a very basic level. If the Moon is waxing (appears to be growing in size), perform magick to bring something to you. This is the most powerful on the Full Moon. If the Moon is waning (appears to be shrinking in size), perform magick that dismisses or sends things away. This is most powerful on the New Moon (when the Moon is dark). Are there smaller divisions of the cycle of the Moon, similar to the way there are Planetary Hours dividing a solar day? Absolutely. These are called the “Fingers of the Moon” or “Mansions of the Moon,” and there is very little written on this topic from a magickal perspective. I do introduce a system of associations for this in Modern Magick, but there is much more. The best explanation I’ve seen of this subject* is in the book Mansions of the Moon for the Green Witch by Ann Moura.
In her book, Moura briefly traces the history of the Mansions, including China, Hellenic Greece, and back to their earlier, probable source in India where they are known as the nakshatras. They came to Western magick by way of the books The Picatrix, Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy, and Barrett’s The Magus.
There are 28 Mansions of the Moon, corresponding with the number of days of a Lunar month. They are associated with the zodiacal signs through which the Moon is traveling. Maura writes:
Each mansion has traditionally held associations, and the magical work that draws on the energy or wards against it relates to the context of the mansion, the lunar phase, and the energy of the zodiac sign. Some of the mansions overlap signs and provide different energy relationships for the same mansions, depending on the Moon’s position at the time of the magical work. Utilizing the sign energy in coordination with the mansion and the lunar phase allows for a coherent magical practice that acknowledges the ancient interpretations and can be updated and applied to modern times and thought.
For example, the first mansion is known as Alnath. It occurs when the moon enters Aries. If the Moon is waxing, it indicates a time to do magical work for safe journeys and to build energies for structures and armies. If the Moon is waning, it is for creating discord or ruining a foe. This could mean a time to do magick to overcome adversity, addiction, or opposition to plans you’ve made.
The book goes on to list the remaining 27 mansions and their associations. She also includes concepts for working with them as well as rituals. I hope this gives you a bit of the concept of the power hidden within the Mansions of the Moon.
Ann Maura’s focus has been on the system of Witchcraft she practices that she calls “Green Witchcraft.” While this book certain fits into that system, it also transcends any system of Witchcraft and easily can become part of ceremonial magick techniques.
If you are a ceremonial magician I hope you will see beyond the Witchcraft association of the title and understand the practical value of this book for all ceremonial magicians. If you are a Pagan, Wiccan, Witch, or follow another path, I hope you will give this book a chance and add its techniques to your repertoire and become a more powerful magician.
*I just received the recently-published book, Liber Lunae that goes into this subject, but I haven’t studied it yet. After a brief and superficial thumbing through the book it appears to be a thorough and historical look at the subject, although perhaps not as practical as Moura’s book. My guess is that magicians will want to have both of these books. After I read it I’ll present information on it.