Witches and the Moon
Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Lisa McSherry, author of the new Witch’s Guide to Crafting Your Practice.
Witches have long been associated with the Moon in history and lore. It’s easy to see why, as the Moon is the primary symbol of the Goddess. Its progress through the sky, ever-changing as it moves graciously through its phases echoing the cycle of life itself, creates a sense of wonder in us. Casting our eyes on the world around us, we see that lots of things within nature are timed around the phases of the Moon.
There are the tides that her presence causes (helping provide a cleansing of the seashores and provide a host of creatures with a renewing habitat), and even the timing of reproduction (just look at the female fertility cycle of approximately 28 days). Add to that the sheer beauty of the Moon herself, providing a focus for meditation, a source of inspiration, and the gentle and beautiful light that the Moon provides for us, renewing the world around us by night into a beautiful place that inspires all of us.
The eternal rhythm of the Moon exerts a powerful influence over Earth and all her creations. The phases of the Moon, along with the astrological signs she moves through, create a framework by which we can time our magical workings. People who track the moon keep a record of its phases, its location in relation to astrology, and even numerology. In trying to understand what the flow is, and work with it, many non-magical people work with lunar energies, such as farmers, gardeners, and hunters.
To witches, the phases of the moon have special meaning, giving structure to the levels of energy available for magical workings. The phases are modified by the position of the moon within the lunar and the zodiac years. With all these correspondences, it may seem quite confusing as to when you can focus on specific workings.
A general guideline is that phasing correspondences (Full, Dark, waxing, waning, etc.) are the strongest influences, followed by the Moon’s placement within the lunar year, and lastly by the astrological month. Think of it like the effects of three magnets upon a metallic pendulum, with the Phase being the strongest magnet, followed by the Position within the Lunar Year as a smaller magnet, and the Astrological Correspondence being the weakest one still. All three have their part to play in deciding where the pendulum will come to rest, but in lessening degrees. When they all align together it is a portent of very strong energy for the task that is indicated.
Whenever you have need of anything,
once in a month, and better it be
when the moon is full,
you shall assemble in some secret place
and adore the spirit of Me
who is Queen of all the Wise.
—From Aradia, Queen of the Witches
You may recognize the above lines of poetry, attributed to the Goddess as Her words to all witches. In one sense, they are the earliest directive as to why we hold lunar rituals. Often called esbats, these rituals are rarely static in nature. In many ways they are best when they constantly change, expressing our changing needs and inner workings.
Those of us with astrological calendars have probably noted a lunar phase—the void moon—and this is usually a bad time to work magic. As the Moon moves through each sign of the zodiac, she makes aspects to other planets. She is called void-of-course when she has completed all the aspects she can within that zodiac sign but has not yet entered the next. These void passages can last anywhere from hours to a day or two.
During a void-of-course Moon, things are in neutral so the gears can shift into the next sign, making it a time to kick back and relax. This is a time when the energy seems to produce false starts and errors, and this is not the time to do magic for things you want to have long-lasting, concrete, and tangible effects. However, this can be an excellent time for astral projection, trancework, meditation, divination, and other purely mental and inward-facing magic.
Who hasn’t looked out upon a Full Moon with awe at how the scenery is made beautiful by the gentle shimmering light, much kinder than the harsh light of day? It becomes easier to understand the veneration Witches (and so many others) have for the Moon.
Our thanks to Lisa for her guest post! For more from Lisa McSherry, read her article, “On the Nature of Tools in Witchcraft.”
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