The Goddess in the Moon

moonlady-bgModern Wicca often looks upon the moon and its phases for symbolism and inspiration.

Both Gods and Goddesses have been associated with the moon.  From European mythologies, we have the Gods Elatha (Irish Mythology), Meness (Latvian mythology), Mani (Norse mythology), and Jarilo (Slavic mythology); as well as the Goddesses Kuu (Finnish mythology), Selene/Luna (Greco-Roman mythology), Kazza (Arturian mythology) and Arianrhod (Welsh mythology).

Triple Goddess

In Modern Wicca, the moon is most often associated with the Triple Goddess and the life cycle of women: Maiden (waxing moon), to Mother (Full Moon) and finally to Crone (Waning Moon).  Though there were many triunes associated to the moon in antiquity — for example, the triad of Hecate-Artemis-Selene in Roman Mythology– the lunar relationship of Maiden/Mother/Crone has been generally considered a modern construct.

The Triple Goddess archetype is often traced to the Robert Graves’ book The White Goddess, but he actually associated the Triple Goddess with different phases of the moon: the new, full, and the old or waning moon.

“As Goddess of the Sky she was the Moon, in her three phases of New Moon, Full Moon, and Waning Moon”

And in another passage wrote:

“[T[he New Moon is the white goddess of birth and growth; the Full Moon, the red goddess of love and battle; the Old Moon, the black goddess of death and divination ….”

In fact, Graves was not so much concerned with defining the Triple Goddess, but her ever-changing relationship with her male counterpart: her son, lover, and victim.

Another author Aleister Crowley, created a Goddess-Moon association in his 1929 book, Moonchild.  In it he associated the moon phases with the Triple Goddess with the full moon symbolizing heaven embodied by Diana, the new moon symbolizing hell embodied by Hecate, and the half moon symbolizing a state between heaven and hell embodied by Persephone.

Magick

Wiccans perform different types of magick depending on the cycle of the moon.  When waxing, Wiccans perform “positive” magic that draws things to you, or increases things.  When waning, Wiccans perform “baneful” magick which sends away, gets rid of or destroys things you no longer wish to be burdened by.   Esbat rituals are held on the full moon that are usually focused on personal growth and spiritual development.  Wiccans use the New Moon as a time to begin new projects.

Drawing down the Moon is a central ritual in many contemporary Wiccan traditions where the coven’s High Priestess enters a trance and requests that the Goddess or Triple Goddess, symbolized by the Moon, to enter her body and speak through her.

Moon Facts

The shape of the illuminated (sunlit) portion of the Moon determines the moon’s phase and in western culture, there are four principle phases: first quarter, full moon, last quarter, and new moon.

Though the moon is associated with night, the moon is as much a part of the day.  The following are the times that you might expect to find the moon.

Average
Moonrise
Average
Moonset
New Moon 6 am 6 pm
First Quarter Noon Midnight
Full Moon 6 pm 6 am
Last Quarter Midnight Noon

In astronomy, new moon is when the moon is closest to the Sun in the sky as seen from the Earth.  This  makes the moon invisible and dark as no visible part of it is illuminated.

Moon PhasesThe waxing (Old English weaxan “to increase, grow” ) moon is any time after new moon and before full moon, so called because its illuminated area is increasing. The waning (Old English wanian “make or become smaller gradually, diminish, decline, fade,”) moon is anytime after the full moon and before the full moon.

The term crescent originally came from the Latin meaning to “bring forth” and originally applied to the first waxing phase of the moon, but it soon became associated with the shape rather than the stage and now applies to the shape of the moon when it is less than 50% illuminated during the quarters on either side of the New Moon.  When the moon is over 50% illuminated in the quarters on either side of the Full Moon, the Moon is considered to be gibbous or “having a hump.”

Each of moon phase is approximately 7.38 days in length.  This results in a complete moon cycle of 29.53 days which does not align well with the solar month of 30.44 days.  This resulted in a plethora of agricultural, civil, religious and social calendars being created until Western Civilization finally standardized on the Gregorian calendar.

The moon rotates counter-clockwise around the earth and is tidal locked with the earth causing  the same side of the Moon to always face the Earth.  A tidally locked body takes just as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its partner.

In non-astronomical contexts, the new moon refers to the first visible crescent of the Moon after becoming dark.  This time period when the moon was not illuminated and dark which is between 1.5 and 3.5 days depending on the orientation of the Earth and Sun was instead called the dark moon or the old moon .   The new moon takes place over the western horizon in a brief period between sunset and moonset and the date of its appearance will be influenced by the geographical location of the observer.   When the Moon is divided into 30 portions as was done the ancient Greeks and Babylonians, and is still being done by the Indians today, the last phase of the Moon is called the Dark Moon.

The ancient Babylonians as early as 600 BCE established the significance of “week” when they celebrated a holy day every moon phase or seven days.  Starting from the new moon or first crescent, then they adjusted the number of days of the final “week” in each month as necessary to stay aligned with the moon phases.

The moon cycle has also been linked to women’s menstrual cycles by many cultures as shown in the etymology of the words for menstruation and for moon in many languages.

Whenever you have need of anything, once 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.
– Charge of the Goddess

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About Sam Shryock

I am a resident of Kansas City metro area and have practiced Pagan Spirituality since 2007. I am a third-degree Wiccan with the Correllian-Nativist tradition, the local coordinator for Kansas City Pagan Pride Day, and the host of the monthly Kansas Coffee Coven. I currently work full-time in the Computer Industry. I am a retired Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel and have a Masters Degree in Computer Resource and Information Management. Most importantly I am a proud husband, father, and grandfather.
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