There has always been something about the moon that draws my attention. It has never mattered the phase. Whether Dark, New, Waxing, Full, or Waning, lunar energy pulls my gaze into the night sky. For most of my life, I have known the moon as “The Bright Lady” and it wasn’t until my child became a Heathen I learned the moon has a masculine aspect for many people. And there is a non-binary understanding of the moon’s energy as well. So, let’s consider the moon, its history, deities, and add a dash of magick.
Growing up, I can remember sitting in the yard of our country home gazing into the night sky. A full moon illuminating our yard with a silver light. Tracking its movement. But what is the moon? What is its purpose and why has humankind always paid heed to its presence? Let’s check out the basic facts first:
- Earth’s Single Natural Satellite — An astronomical body that orbits the planet and is the fifth largest in the solar system.
- Formed Not Long After The Earth — It’s believed the moon formed 4.51 billion years ago. The most accepted hypothesis is the satellite formed from debris left over after a massive impact on the earth by an astrological body called “Theia.” However, newer research calls that theory into question, indicating the moon may be much older than once believed.
- Maintains a Synchronous Rotation –The moon orbits the earth in a “tidal-locked” position. In other words, it always has the same (near) side facing the earth and takes as long to rotate on its own axis as it does to move around the planet.
- The gravitational pull between the planet and its satellite causes the tidal-locked, synchronous rotation. The moon is moving incrementally away from the earth which means in the distant future full lunar eclipses as we know them will no longer occur.
- Influences the Earth — Through gravitational forces, the moon affects the planets ocean tides, body tides (shifting of the Earth’s crust), and causes a negligible lengthening of the day.
The presence of the moon in the night sky has had a significant impact on humankind. A light in the dark that has influenced spiritual beliefs, art, the creation of multiple calendars, language, stories, and magick.
From the beginning, ancient people understood the importance of the moon to the wellbeing of the planet. Many ancient cultures had deities representing the moon. Some of those deities include:
Selene: In Greek mythology, she is a Titan goddess who embodies the moon, driving a silver chariot drawn by two white horses across the night sky. She is said to be the daughter of Hyperion and Theia (hence the name for the potential celestial body responsible for the satellite’s making). Her siblings were Helios (the Sun) and Eos (the Dawn who married Astraeus — dusk).
Associated with Artemis (as Helios was with Apollo), she was also known as Phoebe. A cult of followers knew her as Mene (moon or month). Her areas of influence include the month (best time to plant/harvest crops, weather, etc.), pregnancy and childbirth, romance, true love.
Although she is representative of the complete lunar cycle, when paired with Artemis and Hekate, she is the “full” third of a Triple Lunar Goddess.
Not All Moon Deities Are Female. Not All Sun Deities are Male.
Máni: He is the Norse personification of the moon and the brother of Sól (the sun). Some scholars have a theory that Máni derived from the Northern European tradition of “man in the moon” (a face created from dark areas on the lunar surface) based on some available (anonymous) Skaldic poetry.
According to The Poetic Edda, Máni and his sister Sól (the children of Mundilferi) must “pass through the heavens every day to count the years for mankind.” They are pursued through the heavens by wolves. And in the Prose Edda, after being sent to the heavens with his sister for the perceived arrogance of their father (who named them for their fair beauty) Máni guides the moon in its travels, controlling the waxing and waning.
It is also said that Máni is followed through the heavens by a brother and sister, Hjúki and Bil, children whom he took from the earth. Eventually, Máni and Sól will meet their end at Ragnarök.
Other Lunar Deities
Multiple cultures include lunar deities in their pantheons. Some familiar names are Greek/Roman, but there is a rich heritage of lunar gods and goddesses with whom we can become acquainted.
Some of these deities include Chang-0 (China), Chandra (Hindu), Sin (Mesopotamia), Tsukuyomi (Japan), Igaluk/Alignak (Inuit), Ibis (Thebes), Khonsu (Thebes), and iNyanga (Zulu).
As a polytheist/animist, I believe all of these deities are individual gods or goddesses. For me, they each represent or embody the moon within the culture that embraced them. As a Green Earth Witch, who honors Earth as both planet and primordial deity, I accept this UPG in connection with the Moon and Sun as well.
A Little Lunar Magick
In my magickal practice the moon’s energy, based upon the phase, can be very helpful in a variety of spells. In my opinion, an effective spell can be cast at any time. However, correspondences such as phase of the moon, day of the week, seeking out nature/spiritual allies with the equivalent energy of the spell’s intention, et al., can go a long way toward focusing a Witch or magickal practitioner’s will on their end goal.
While I also believe a Witch/Magickal Practitioner can intuit the phase best suited to their needs, there are general guidelines. So, let’s take a look at the energy available in different phases of the moon and the types of magick available to focus on:
The Lunar Phases:
Dark: This is when the moon is between the sun and the earth when the moon is not visible, lasting 2-3 days. Some people interchange the New phase with the Dark. As a Hekataen Devotee, I honor the goddess on the Dark Moon, the day before the New Moon. The energy of this phase is (for me anyway) one of restful pursuits, purification, contemplation, devotion.
New: Occurs the day after the Dark phase. A good time for beginnings, visions, dream casting, rebirth, initiation of new things, or ideas. A Witch might choose to begin a long-acting/growing spell during this phase, allowing it to mature through the Lunar Cycle to culminate during the full moon. While the energy is not considered at its most powerful, it is vibrant, fresh, and potent anticipation.
Waxing: During this phase, the moon as a sliver appears and continues to grow. Growth is steady which makes this a good time to work toward such things as drawing things to you, abundance, building/healing relationships, continuing education, etc. This is the time to build what you want in your life.
Full: The phase most people look forward to or enjoy and lasts approximately 3 days. When the moon has reached its pinnacle, full face shining down upon the earth. This is when many people believe all psychic and spiritual activity is highest, vitality is at its peak, and the strongest magick can be performed. While divination is always available, this time can offer increased “signal clarity.”
Waning: The time of decrease, completion, release. Letting go of that which no longer serves. Banishing, binding, removal, and cleansing. Finding closure in relationships, legal matters, leaving employment, etc. This is a good time to overpower obstructions in one’s life.
A Simple Ritual To Increase Psychic Perception
Lunar Phase: Full
Location: A place where you can see or sit within the moon’s light (weather permitting). Otherwise, you can perform this ritual in front of your altar or one set up to honor the moon or lunar deity of choice (please be sure you have a relationship with them first). I’ve even performed this sitting beneath a window in Winter as moonlight shines through the frosted glass.
Items needed include:
- One Purple Candle
- Four White or Silver Candles
- A Pendulum
- Additional divination tool of choice (optional)
- Set up or anoint the space, altar where you will be working. Cleanse and/or anoint the pendulum with sacred smoke or olive oil.
- Place the four white or silver candles to correspond with the four directions (North, South, East, West) with enough distance that you may sit in the middle of them. The candles can be any size. Four tealights will do. If you do not have room to do this, place the candles in a row in front of you.
- Place the purple candle and the pendulum in front of where you will be sitting.
- Prepare for the ritual in your usual manner (handwashing, bath, shower, smoke cleansing, anointing with essential oil, etc.). Whatever is normal for you or within the tradition you follow.
- When you are ready, create the sacred space/cast the circle in your usual manner or that of your tradition.
- Call to the four elements or quarters. Call to the Moon or Lunar Deity.
- Light each of the four white/silver candles. Meditate on the moon, visualize its energy flowing down into you.
- Bask within the light provided by the moon or the candles as its representative.
- Pick up the pendulum. Hold it in the light. See/feel it as a conduit.
Petition the Moon or Lunar Deity.
“Great Moon, I honor you in the fullness of your light and beauty. O, Brightest light in the darkest heavens. Hear my call. Illuminate hidden psychic spaces within my mind, body, and spirit from the depths of your silver glow.”
- Light the purple candle. Focus your intention on increasing your psychic perception.
- Gaze upon the flame, seeing or feeling your third/witches eye open.
- Hold the pendulum above your palm, allowing the pendulum to swing in a deosil/clockwise manner.
- Allow the moon’s energy as it channels and builds through the pendulum to sharpen your psychic senses.
- When you feel that your psychic perception has been increased enough, bring the pendulum to a stop.
Spend time with your psychic senses through a divination session. Meditate upon the flame to seek visions. Ask the pendulum questions. Or use a divination tool (such as Tarot or Lenormand) to perform a future-telling reading.
When you are finished, honor and give thanks to the Moon/Lunar Deity, release the elements/quarters, extinguish the candles, release the circle if you have cast one. Ground and center, go have something to eat.
And a little something to prepare for when the moon is dark.