Adoration of the moon has long been associated with witchcraft. It is right there in the first line of the Charge of the Goddess, “…once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full, then shall ye assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of She, who is Queen of all witches.” Sacred-texts.com We romanticize a hunk of space rock caught in the earth’s orbit as though it were The Goddess Herself. Yet to my dismay, there persists an ignorance about how this energy works. As is want to happen, I’ve got very pointy opinions that fly in the face of the establishment. Go figure. Not least of these contrary opinions is my definition of what constitutes a “blue moon” and why that is auspicious.
TL;DR: There are NO BLUE MOONS in 2018, despite what your Llewellyn Witches’ Calendar may tell you. They claim a blue moon is coming on Saturday, March 31 at 8:37 am because it is the second one to fall in the month of March. I disagree about it’s blueness. There are two schools of thought about when Witchy celebrations should happen: fixed dates based on the Gregorian Calendar vs. Astrological timing–which doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about what “month” it is. Now, before you git yer garters in a twist, allow me to explain myself…
First: Ditch the Empty Religiosity
I cannot abide empty religiosity; either I know how it works, or it gets none of my power. Faith has its place in Witchcraft, but this ain’t it.
Magickal timing is an occult science. It is very worth your time to figure out how and why very real energy flows exist on planet earth. Don’t just take what you read on the internet as the gospel truth, including this article. Research, experiment, seek logical internal consistency and make note of what you are feeling and perceiving. Did your magick work?
Second: Physics is Your Friend
The moon is the most important player in the magick of witchcraft as practiced on earth. It is the closest player in the solar system, and has the most dramatic effect on human behavior, and both ocean and energetic tides. There is a very tangible intimacy with lunar cycles and life here on earth…both scientific and spiritual.
The folk wisdom from every corner of the planet, dealing with every industry of nature, works in harmony with lunar cycles. The surfers, sailors, and ocean faring professions will tell you exactly how precisely these flows can be calculated. Farmers, ranchers and other animal husbandry professionals have millennia worth of lore that utilize the moon cycles for fruitfulness.
Professionals ranging from school teachers to law enforcement officers, to mental health and maternity ward medical personnel will tell you exactly how the moon effects human behavior. The very fertility cycles of all females are in sync with those lunar tides. Want to get pregnant? Want to NOT get pregnant? Look to the moon. Like it or not, nature is engaged in the dance between mother earth and her satellite – so it behooves a wise witch to learn the steps.
First of all, let’s get some vocabulary straight:
Lunar Calendar vs. Solar Calendar: Cycles within Cycles, all in their own time.
- Lunation: One complete revolution of the moon around the earth – a lunar “month.” “the period of time averaging 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 2.8 seconds elapsing between two successive new moons.” source
- Lunar Year: A period of 12 lunations, or lunar months. If my calculations are correct, a lunar year would be 354 days, 8 hours, 48 minutes, 33.6 seconds long.
- Solar Year, or Tropical year: “The period occupied by the sun’s center in passing from one equinox to the same again and having a mean length of 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 45.5 seconds.”source Wall calendars made to match the official dates of society in general, are based on the solar year.
Note how all those lengths of time were broken down to hours and days based on a perspective from life on earth, that I’m sure the beings of other planets in other galaxies would think is precious. So, “time” is this weird, arbitrary human construct based on how we break down an Earth Day, which is dancing to the beat of her own drum…
An Earth Day is based on the earth rotating on it’s axis: How long it takes the earth to make one full spin, creating a cycle of light and dark and giving us divisions of time into “hours” and “days.” That is really useful if you live on earth, of course.
Does your brain hurt yet?
The lunar month (lunation) is based on how the moon is orbiting the earth.
The solar year is based on how the earth and moon together are orbiting the sun.
We view the earth’s journey around the sun against the backdrop of the cosmos. The sciences of both astronomy and astrology divide that cosmic neighborhood into 12 equal sections called the zodiac, as if our orbit was a perfect circle of 360 degrees, making each zodiac sign 30 degrees. This map describes the relative position of earth as it travels around the neighborhood.
These zodiac mile-markers are how scientists calculate phenomenon like equinoxes and solstices. For example, spring equinox (Ostara) is celebrated at the exact moment when we enter 0° Aries. The zodiac is also how modern pagans *SHOULD BE* celebrating ALL the Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year (Again with my contrary opinions.) I wrote a whole treatise on this subject: A Case for the Astrological Timing of Sabbats, which I hope you will read before you sic your flying monkeys on me.
The Fly in the Ointment
All these spinnings and orbitings do not match up neatly with our rotation of days on earth, thus the conundrum of a “calendar” from which we can all function as a society.
The Lunar and Solar years only match every 19 Solar years. Again with the math (not my strong suit) there are roughly 11 days difference here, so sometimes 13 full moons will fall within a solar year. That 13th moon is called the Blue Moon…but which of those 13 moons is “blue,” and why that would be magickally auspicious, is the sticky bit…
My Contrary Opinion: Witches should Ditch The Gregorian Calendar
Your typical wall calendar in the western world, with its 12 months of varying length, is still based on the Gregorian Calendar that was created by Pope Gregory XIII. It was introduced in 1582 so that the church could force Catholic Easter to land where they wanted it to land. (Wikipedia) It is considered a Solar calendar, and was intended to accommodate the lunar timing of Catholic holidays like Easter. However, this is the outrageous hubris of the church, and no reflection of any energetic tide I’ve ever felt.
The government’s approved calendar is well-enough suited for things like banking, governance, and little-league game schedules that will get all the kids on the same field, during the same period of sunlight. Magick does not much care about the government-issued calendar.
There are many calendars utilized by the people of planet Earth. The Chinese have a unique accounting of time and tides, as do the Hindus of the Indian subcontinent, Muslims of the Arab World, the Mayans of South and Central America, etc. These are all “compass needles” that point in the direction of individual answers for how the energies of the cosmos may be understood and utilized here on Earth. Each has its merits, for different ways of living.
I choose the compass needle of the occult sciences that describe the repeating patterns throughout existence that I spoke of in my article, Hail Mercury…in Retrograde. So, I base my witchery on astrological timing as described in western esoteric philosophy – it informs all the other parts of my practice from tarot cards to sabbats, and so for consistency, I apply it to lunar work as well. I don’t do anything based on what month it falls in; what zodiac sign are we working with?
Get to the point, Heron: When is the Blue Moon?
Ok, Ok. First, Let’s review some Witchy Timing 101, because you never know what you don’t know until it’s in your face.
The moon is a sphere of space rock that is remains a sphere at all times. You see the lit part it in different shapes and sizes based on how how the earth, sun, and moon are dancing together at that moment. So its not the amount of lit moon that makes a difference to magick, it is the energetic tides created by the relative positions of these three “heavenly bodies.” You can work some form of lunar magick every single day of the month….the tide is always doing something useful — flowing out, peaking, or ebbing back – and you tailor the magickal approach to best use what is flowing for you. This is why you have to know how it works. Otherwise, you are a sad sailor stranded in the harbor at low tide, and no matter how loudly you chant at the moon, the water isn’t going to be deep enough to free your rudder from the sand….until later. Maybe this is why your spells don’t seem to work. Wisdom is power, my people.
Lunar Triplicity: Birth, Growth, Death
The lunar energetic cycle has distinct phases as utilized by witches for magick: The waxing crescent moon is about the tide flowing in, birthing new things. The Full moon is about growth to fully manifest that new thing and put it to good use, high tide. Waning crescent moon is about closing down that cycle, decline towards death and recycling, the tide is ebbing out. New Moon or Dark Moon is about the reflection, a resting period between cycles that allows the system to reset for a potential rebirth in the next cycle, this is low tide.
There is a Lunar Triplicity at play here: Birth, Growth/Attainment, Death/transmute.
Merging Solar and Lunar Cycles: An Astrological Calendar
We have four seasons, of three zodiac signs each. Each season has a similar cycle of “birth, growth and death” that is also a triplicity.
Astrological Triplicity: Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable
Cardinal energy initiates. The four “lesser” seasonal sabbats, or solar holidays, of equinoxes and solstices are celebrated when the sun moves from a mutable sign, which ends a season, into a cardinal sign, which begins a season. When a FULL MOON occurs while we are in a cardinal sign, magick associated with starting things, or being “enterprising” will be most effective. Cardinal energy adds forceful, aggressive, will-power to accomplish something new.
Fixed energies stabilize and manifest. The four “greater” fire festivals or cross-quarter sabbats, are celebrated when the sun is at 15 degrees in the fixed sign–the mid-point of the season. When a FULL MOON occurs while we are in a fixed sign, our magickal efforts are most effective if we feed, nurture and maintaining the work we began in the cardinal sign. We work to stabilized that intention to create the needed change.
“Fixed” and “changed” may appear to be contradictory words. Yet, imagine a field. If the field is not maintained (lots of change, like plowing, setting seed, weeding, etc) then the field will disappear as Nature reclaims it. What is “fixed” is the field. What is changed is all the things that keep, for example, a field a field, and not a wilderness.
Mutable energies transmute into the next thing. The seasons wind down through a mutable signs, which reflect, integrate, and end the season. When a FULL MOON occurs while we are in a mutable sign, our magickal efforts are most effective for accepting and integrating the changes we’ve manifested over the previous two esbats. This allows us to accept, adapt, release, detach, and move on to something else. The mutable signs end the old magickal cycle and lead on to the beginning of the new season, and new magick.
The Long-Awaited Answer to Why a Blue Moon is Auspicious
It doesn’t matter one lick when the full moon falls in the Gregorian Calendar Month, so just forget about that. It energetically matters which section of our orbit around the sun we are dancing through at that moment. If your Great Work of magick is in step with the seasons, you typically get three full moon esbats to work each season’s power: During the Cardinal sign’s Full Moon, you initiate the work. During the the Fixed sign’s Full Moon, you feed and maintain the work. During the Mutable Sign’s Full Moon you bring it all home, integrate the results, show gratitude, and make offerings.
A Blue Moon occurs when there are four full moons within one season. This means there will be two full moons within the same zodiac sign and TWO CHANCES put that particular energy to full effect. Its a SPARE FULL MOON for pushing extra oomph into whatever intention you’ve got cookin’ up in your cauldron. Blue moons only occur every few years, which is why muggle folks say “Once in a Blue Moon.” Witches consider this full moon to be extra-ordinary for very real reasons that have nothing to do with Pope Gregory or government institutions.
For interest, a Black Moon, is when two new moons fall within the same zodiac sign. If you need to let something go absolutely gone, forever…like addiction or cancer, or a phobia, work that magick both during the new moon and black moon of that sign. Poof!
Moral of the Story:
There are many ways of approaching magick, and all of them will include some concept of auspicious timing. In my opinion, we are all better served when we seek an internal consistency in our practice that can be logically described, but also perceived intuitively. It becomes something real for you, both objectively and subjectively.
Does this energetic tide move you in some way? Pay attention to that. Then check in with the systems that already exist. Do they provide clarity and consistency that makes sense to you?? Can these perceptions be corroborated with the other sensitive people around you?
Whatever you do, be true to you. Don’t let any old contrary witch like me tell you what to believe or how to celebrate the Greatness of Nature. Scrutinize everything, be informed, make sound choices that allow you to go forth and be happy. Listen to that voice in your soul, because “that which you seek if you find it not within, you will never find it without.” (Charge of the Goddess.)
Enjoy your esbat on March 31st, 2018. This full moon falls within the cardinal sign of spring. While not actually a Blue Moon, (I don’t care what Llewellyn or facebook say, so there :P) you can start some fresh new growth for yourself and use the fires of Aries to ignite your passions during this season.
Blessing of discernment, and happy spring,