Oh the moon. That beautiful silver disc in the starry sky, capturing our imaginations for eons. Poems, songs, stories, religions – all lauding the beauty, the mystery, and the magic.
Now, obviously the moon is a giant rock floating in space – because science. It is commonly posited that the moon was formed from the leftover debris after Earth suffered a tremendous impact. It affects our tides, bringing us two high and two low every 24 hours. An interesting piece of science shows us that the moon’s interplays with the Earth are actually pushing it away from the Earth each year at a rate of about 1.5” (it won’t go away entirely, at some point the push/pull/spin will all come to an equilibrium and the moon will just hover stationary at a certain point). Honestly, that shit is magic in and of itself – just conceiving how far away it is (238,856 mi) blows my mind – and I could stop this blog right here. Yay science! Yay Magick!
But, darling, there’s so much more! Goddesses and gods, fables, myths, rituals, astrology… the moon can be a story of love, or motherhood, or even cheese. *wink* Your moon sign represents your emotions and inner self, if you’re an astrology buff, second only to your sun sign for influence.
For most neopagans there is a draw to the major stations of the moon phases – emphasis on full moon. The magick of the full moon probably needs no introduction from me, but I love the full moon. Powerful abundance magick can be had at the fullness of her cycle, and the world is draped in quicksilver, beauty unmatched and no electric lights needed. It stands to reason that ancient peoples would have loved it too. After all, in a world lit only by fire…
It can be an intense time too, though. I find myself being driven to say the things I’ve been keeping in, being unable to hide my frustrations or annoyances from those around me. It forces me to own my Truth, and speak up!
The other faces of the moon get a bit shafted, I feel. We have the transitions, which at least get a nod in any Wicca/Pagan 101 book: waxing to full and waning from full. The time of the waxing moon, for me, is a building of energies as I watch the moon become more vibrant each night, lending itself to manifestation of intentions. The time of the waning moon works well as a release of energies; I visualize the crescent as it becomes smaller, withdrawing into itself, the same as the energy I’m letting go of.
At the opposite end of the cycle, the moon is dark. Funnily enough, the awareness around it seems even darker. I did a poll on Facebook asking people in varying groups and on my friends list: “How do *you* define new moon vs. dark moon? How does your Work differ between them?”
Several gave the general definition of: dark moon is the time of full dark, new moon is the first night of the first sliver of light returning. Many commented that they don’t differentiate and/or don’t do Work at that time. A couple people stated that they’re the same thing.
I tend to lean towards the “do what works for you”, mentality, so I expected differences in responses. The terms are pretty colloquial anyway. What bothered me is that it seemed a lot of folks hadn’t put thought into what they believed or how they related to the subject. Perhaps they never researched or never looked into it. Perhaps they never read more than a single intro to paganism book. Or if they did, and gave me a textbook definition, with no personal touch or thoughts. They didn’t really go into how they use those faces of the moon to do Work. What it means to them in their lives. It put me in the mind of a “Sunday Christian”.
I read a John Beckett blog on Patheos last year ( here ) that described paganism as an “embodied religion”, and I have to agree. Saying you believe in something doesn’t mean a darn thing unless you’re spending shoe leather to do the things. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t do lunar Work every month, but I know exactly what I have and will use the dark moon vs the new moon vs the full vs the transition moons for, and why they’re different to me. I’m also constantly learning, and letting my spirituality evolve. Nothing is set in stone, ever! Were you in a public ritual recently that was so different than your normal, but you feel weirdly called anyway? Look it up! Nothing says you have to stay on your straight & narrow. Nothing. If someone does, toss them out because you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
The dark moon, for me, is almost more powerful than the full moon. It has so much strength, coming from the depths of the dark. It is the time of the dark goddesses, like The Morrigan and Hekate. A time of seekings, a time of decisions, a time of cross-roads. Finding your strength, without depending on the light of others to guide you.
It is also the nights when the stars shine the brightest (assuming lack of light pollution). What can you do with that starlight energy? The millions of suns out in the universe that come to us as gentle sparkles in the shapes of animals and hunters and heroes of legend. The milky-way over the South Western desert is one of the most beautiful natural sights I’ve ever had the privilege to see.
I’m interested, what do you think of the difference between the new and dark moons, assuming you see any, and how do you use them in your workings? What about other phases of the moon cycle? Does this affect your regular spirituality and/or workings? The Sisterhood of Avalon, for example, runs on a lunar holiday calendar for their major ‘sabbats’ (term used loosely because that’s not what they call them), while most pagans follow the sun-based sabbats. How about other cycles?