This is part one of a four part series on Lunar Mysteries and Moon Magick. I will be posting this series for the next four posting intervals. Moon magick and lunar mysteries are very important, so I think that these articles are timely and quite relevant.
Believe it or not, I once heard someone complain to a group of pagans that every full moon was practically the same, and that the monthly full moon rites that this person’s coven engaged in were boring and repetitious. When I heard this complaint, I was completely astonished! Obviously this person didn’t know very much about the moon, nor that each full moon that happens during the calendric year is unique and has a large body of folklore to go along with it. The moon is probably the most important celestial body in the sky, next to the sun, and certainly, it’s the most interesting. Yet hearing this complaint made me realize that the knowledge which I had acquired about the moon and lunar magick was not so common within the Pagan and Wiccan community. So for this reason, I decided that it would be prudent to put together an article on the lunar mysteries and the art of moon magick. If anyone is seeking to work magick that will affect their material aspirations, then knowing something about the moon is pretty important.
In fact, the most important consideration for any large series of workings involving earth-based magick is to harness the mysterious cycle of the moon and its mythology and folklore. In order to accomplish this task, the occultist is obligated to sift through a lot of moon lore, both scientific, astrological and esoteric in order to truly understand the significance and use of the moon in the art of magick.
This article will attempt to perform that task for you and help you to examine all of the various elements required to become proficient at using the moon for both pagan liturgies and practical forms of magick. There’s a lot of material to cover, but I decided to pull together a selection of that specific lore that will help you to make this mastery a lot easier. I would advise you to acquire some books on astrology and also some books on the various folklore and myths associated with the moon. Having this knowledge at hand will certainly make your pagan full moon rites and practical lunar based magick much more effective and esthetically pleasing. Let us now move on to examine all of this material.
Occult Beliefs vs. Scientific Explanations
We live in age where everything is seemingly explained away by the prowess of science, where there are no unfathomable mysteries nor is anything capable of withstanding for long the inquiry of modern empirical minds. Everything is reduced to the objective eye of science, and yet, and still, the average person stands in awe of the constant changing cycles of the moon. Science has debunked almost all of the myths about the moon, yet they persist in common discussion even amongst educated people. So it would seem that the moon still casts her spell on the minds of humanity, and the apparent lunar mysteries persist despite our scientific explanations and even our most adventurous explorations of her rocky crust.
There are good reasons why all the myths and folklore about the moon persist, and why they will probably continue to exert a powerful influence on the mind and soul of humanity until the end of time. As long as human beings live on this planet and experience the various phenomena of the moon, sun, planets and the stars, they will have a psychological impact on human sentiment - there’s no escaping this fact. We are complex psychological beings, and merely the apprehension of facts alone does not rule our life nor dispel superstition or emotional sentiment. We also need to consider that science alone does not have a monopoly on objective truth, and that dissenting opinions and the powerful influences of culture are just as compelling as the consensus of science and scientists.
The moon changes its shape throughout the month, seemingly never to appear at the same place or in the same guise. As the moon transforms itself, the tides of the seas and oceans seem to obey its cyclic passages, and the darkness of night is turned into twilight, illuminating a spectral landscape. The basic nature of the lunar mystery is that the moon changes its shape and its brightness, seeming to follow an endless pattern of constant change. The moon appears during both the day and the night, but it’s at night time when the moon’s effect is most dramatic. The moon is a symbol of transformation and seems to represent all that is changeable and ephemeral in our world, including the life cycle of all things living and breathing on this planet. This mystery is the mystery of light and darkness, life and death, the changing seasons, which are seen in the apparent movements of the moon, sun and the earth, and their complex interrelationship.
Science has explained all of this phenomena in an undramatic manner, dispelling all of the myths and false assumptions made about the effects of the moon on the earth. We should examine these facts and then quickly pass over them because knowing what science has said about this topic does help to shape our opinions and clarify the occult beliefs and associated phenomena with the practice of ritual magick. We will not hold onto arbitrary beliefs and promote falsehoods in the guise of good occultism. Science has done an adequate job of explaining the objective and material universe that is both within and all around us, and we would be foolish to easily dismiss these carefully tested and empirically determined truths.
Still, science has nothing to say about the nature of the human soul, the nature of Spirit and the internal perceptions and sentiments associated with the human psyche. In fact science refuses to even examine a phenomenon unless it can be measured, and that measurement verified by repetition. Some might question the methods of measuring these phenomena and the theories that underlie them. These are topics that are outside of the supposed empirical universe, and therefore, are the topical areas most suited to the discourse of religious and occult philosophies.
Therefore, we shall refrain from stating that the moon’s gravitational effects or the effects of the light of the moon have any dramatic impact on individual human beings, animals or small inanimate objects. What is affected by the moon is the human mind, its perceptions, sentiments, and inner spiritual reflections, and these we will address in this article. Humanity has been staring into the night sky for untold millennia, and this fact alone has shaped human beliefs and opinions long before science was ever organized as an academic discipline.
We will focus on the folklore and psychological effects of the moon, sun and their apparent motion and alignments, and how these may be used to great effect in the practice of ritual magick. Therefore, we need to look at several items as we examine these interesting facts and their use in practical occultism. (Here is a list of seven items for us to consider.)
- Phases of the Moon - four quarters, lunation cycle - psychology and basic folklore as well as assumed physiological effects. Considerations about elemental magick as associated with the lunar phases should also be examined.
- Seasonal full moon folklore and astrological aspects of the full moon phenomenon. Each full moon has its own qualities and special characteristics, and these qualify the magic that is performed.
- Twenty-eight lunar mansions - planetary and talismanic considerations. The lunar mansions can be used to project beneficial as well as baleful magical powers.
- Solar and lunar interrelationships - eclipses both solar and lunar - cycle of light and darkness, life and death, as projected upon the wheel of the year. Also we should consider the tidal cycles such as spring, neap and proxigean spring tides.
- Greater and lesser wheel of fortune - solar and lunar wheels of fortune - personal cycle of material and emotional increase and decrease.
- Practical magic always has an element of timing in addition to initiative and action. Knowledge of one’s own personal wheel of fortune is a determinant of successful material based magic.
- Key to integrating the lunar and solar cycles into one’s magic is learning to incorporate a type of lunar telesterion (temple) into one’s magick. This temple is defined in ritual magick as an energy field consisting of a vortex encompassed with a double gateway, where the mysteries of the seasonal sun and lunar phase are declared and expressed as a symbolic link, which also acts as a temporal link.
These seven items are quite important for the occult considerations in working magic and causing an impact in one’s personal material world. They also don’t in any way violate the premises currently vogue in the scientific community, since they are concerned with a domain that science has either nothing to say about or is incapable of making any kind of determination or measurement. But first we should examine some of the objective facts about the moon.
Some of the factual points that science does make, which we would have to incorporate into our thinking consists of the following items. From a scientific perspective the Moon is:
- A spherical rocky body that is the one and only satellite of the planet Earth,
- Nearly a third of the size of the Earth ,
- Distance from the Moon to the Earth is a mean distance of 238,600 miles,
- Moon has a complex elliptical orbit around the Earth,
- Equatorial radius is 1,080 miles,
- Lacks an active magnetic field, so it likely doesn’t have a molten core,
- Earth and Moon actually orbit each other, possessing a common center of mass that is not the center of the Earth, but only approximately 2,900 miles from the surface,
- Moon and Earth exert a powerful gravitation pull on each other,
- Moon pulls the oceans slightly out from the Earth as it passes closest to it. ( Actually, the Moon is pulling up on the oceans and the Earth is pulling down. The combination of these forces causes the tides.)
If the Moon did not exist, then the Sun would still cause diminished cyclic tides. Tides are the gravitational effect on large bodies of water - oceans, seas, large lakes, rivers, even the atmosphere and crust of the earth. (Large things are so affected, but not things that are relatively small.) The gravitation effect of tides is caused by a combination of the Sun, Moon and Earth. This interrelationship also causes solar and lunar eclipses and the lunar phases of full through new.
Moon’s gravitational force is only one ten-millionth of the Earth’s gravitational force, and the Sun’s is only 40% of the Moon’s force. Therefore, the Moon’s gravitation effect has no discernable impact on animals or people. Lunar and planetary light is also insignificant, since it is merely reflected light whose origin is from the Sun. Sunlight, however, does indeed powerfully affect the Earth.
Some of the natural phenomenon associated with the period tides affecting large bodies of water has the following qualities:
“Because the earth rotates on its axis the moon completes one orbit in our sky every 25 hours (Not to be confused with moon's 27 day orbit around the earth), we get two tidal peaks as well as two tidal troughs.
These events are separated by about 12 hours. Offshore, in the deep ocean, the difference in tides is usually less than 1.6 feet. The surf grows when it approaches a beach, and the tide increases. In bays and estuaries, this effect is amplified. (Example: In the Bay of Fundy, tides have a range of 44.6 ft.).
Since the moon moves around the Earth, it is not always in the same place at the same time each day. So, each day, the times for high and low tides change by 50 minutes.” - (See the web page for the source of the above quotation.)
Spring tides are exceptionally strong tides that occur when the Sun, Moon and the Earth are in line, such as when the Moon appears to be full or new on the Earth. Neap tides occur when the Sun and Moon are at right angles to the Earth, canceling out their gravitational forces and producing a weaker variation of the high and low tides, such as when the Moon appears to be in either the first or last quarter.
Perigee points are defined as celestial events where the Moon is closest to the Earth, and the Earth is the closest to the Sun. These events occur, of course, during specific times of the year and during specific seasons. Lunar perigee occurs twice a year, in late December through January and late June through July, depending on the northern or southern latitude. Solar perigee occurs once a year, also in late December.
Every 18 months an unusually high tide occurs, and this is called a Proxigean Spring Tide. It occurs when the Moon is at its closest point to the Earth (called the closest perigee, or proxigee) and is in the New Moon phase (meaning that the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun). These are significant events in the astrological calendar of the practicing occultist - there are bi-annual (Lunar), annual (Solar) and semi-annual cycles (Lunar and Solar) that effect the tides of the oceans on the earth, and by analogy, the fortunes of individual human beings. (This is, of course, a very important point.)
Lunar affects on human behavior, also called the “Transylvania effect” have been pretty conclusively demonstrated to be false. This was done through an effective analysis of whether the full or new moon have any affects on any specific behavior, maladies or social phenomena, such as alcoholism, mental attacks, menstruation, violence, murder rates, and even stock market variations. All of these correlations have been found to be statistically insignificant. What does seem to be operating are people’s beliefs, cultural myths, folklore and emotional sentiments. Science would judge such causes as not being statistically relevant, but they do seem to impact behavior, and in an almost predictable fashion.
Still, there are some hotly contested areas of dispute within the various disciplines of medicine and biological research. Medical research still shows correlations between medical phenomena and either full of new moon - however, that research is in dispute. The final verdict is as yet unknown. We, however, will not engage in this debate because our topic is not determined by objective empiricism, but rather by psychology and culture.