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The Lunar Phases in Magical Work





This chapter is based on the teachings of Diana White, High Priestess of the Ancient Lunar Mysteries. Its links are Magian and Qabalistic.

[C] Michael Freedman

The Moon has always played a dominant role in both Electional and Ritual astrology. Most folk have some knowledge of the monthly phases of the Moon, which they can observe waxing in size and brightness as she moves from New Moon to First Quarter to Full Moon and then waning in size and brightness as she moves from Full Moon to the Third Quarter until she disappears altogether a few days before the next New Moon.

Women and the Lunar Phases There are similarities between the solitary vigil during the Dark of the Moon of candidates for initiation and the primitive custom of women withdrawing to a special place during menstruation, a time when no man was permitted to approach them. It was during such periods of isolation from the males of the tribe that they were taught and initiated into the sacred women's mysteries by the wise old women of the tribe.

It was only as patriarchal ideas began to prevail that the period of menstruation was regarded as cursed and the menses themselves as unclean. What had been holy became accursed in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other male-dominated religions. In modern times, the resurgence of the magical and wiccan ways is restoring dignity and holiness to the female mysteries.

There are two differing ideas on the relationship of the Dark of the Moon to the menstrual cycle. One, which has been mentioned, regards it as linked to the menstrual flow. The other regards it as being linked to the most fertile part of the cycle, when the conjunction of the male and female is most likely to lead to conception. The Vigils of Selene, discussed later in this chapter, appear to adopt the latter point of view.

Which of these two points you adopt will depend on your own preference, or possibly on your own personal monthly cycle.

Men and the Lunar Rituals Although the monthly cycle of the Phases of the Moon have a special significance for women, there is no magical reason at all why men should not link themselves closely to the Lunar Phases or participate in Lunar rituals. In the Tree of Life, the Moon, like the Sun, is on the Middle pillar and thus is balanced in polarity. Not only does the Moon receive light, she also gives that Light out again.

The Beginning of the Lunar Month. In both modern times and ancient, the beginning of each Lunation or Lunar Month has been called the New Moon. Nowadays, the term New Moon applies to the moment when Sun and Moon are in conjunction. But, it is a very modern custom to call the conjunction of Sun and Moon the "New Moon." The time of the conjunction depends on astronomical calculation, not on personal observation.

During the Sun-Moon conjunction each month, the Moon is not visible. In ancient times, the term New Moon referred to the first appearance of the Moon's fine crescent in the West after sunset. This was usually two to three days after the Sun-Moon conjunction. This first sighting was regarded as the beginning of the month by the ancient Mages and, in many parts of the world. Direct observation of the Fine Crescent is still how the beginning of each lunar month is determined by the most orthodox sections of the Jewish and Muslim religions.

The time when the Moon is not visible at all was called "the Dark of the Moon." In popular folklore, the Dark of the Moon has usually been regarded as unfortunate, but those who walk the Way of the Moon know it is the most important phase of her monthly journey. Those who belonged to the Mysteries of the Moon regarded the Dark of the Moon as the culmination and climax of the Lunar cycle. The Sun/Moon conjunction takes place during the Dark of the Moon. When there is a Solar Eclipse, it takes place at the time of the Sun/Moon conjunction.

The decision whether to regard the astronomical New Moon or the Fine Crescent as the beginning of the month is one which must be made by each individual practitioner of the craft. The easiest way is to do as most folk do, look up the date of the New Moon, i.e., the Sun/Moon conjunction, in a calendar or ephemeris and treat that as the beginning of each lunation.

On the other hand, those who wish to tap into the magical power of the Moon will do well to begin their Lunar Months at the esoteric New Moon, on the day of the Fine Crescent, when she is newly visible after her retirement during the Dark of the Moon. There are two ways to decide on which evening to do the New Moon Ritual and to begin your Lunar month.

1. The First Sighting of the New Moon The first method is suitable only for those with great personal dedication to the Goddess of the Moon. It presumes that you already offer worship to the Goddess, looking up to her symbol in the heavens, the Moon, every day. It involves making a vigil for an hour or two at sunset on each evening during the Dark of the Moon. and finding the time of the Fine Crescent of the New Moon by direct observation. The Dark of the Moon usually lasts five nights. It is not always easy to judge the time of the Fine Crescent correctly, for it depends largely on your personal ability to observe it. In wintertime, it is very likely that clouds will prevent you seeing the heavens at all. In many cities, the level of pollution is now so high that you might not be able to see the Fine Crescent of the New Moon until a night or so later than it would be visible in places with purer air.

2. Consulting a Moon Calendar The second method is simpler. Use it if there are likely to be poor viewing conditions. Consult any calendar which shows the Phases of the Moon. Take the time shown for the Synod (in this context, this is the best term to use for the Sun/Moon conjunction) and add to it two and a half days [=60 hours]. The next sunset and early evening after that time can safely be used for your esoteric New Moon or Fine Crescent rites, as it will be right nearly every month over many years.

For ritual purposes, it is usually convenient to regard the Dark of the Moon as comprising five nights, i.e., beginning five nights before the Fine Crescent . If you are going to observe Dark of the Moon and Fine Crescent rites regularly, draw up a calendar for yourself.

The Fine Crescent For all practical purposes, the Fine Crescent of the New Moon can always be assumed to occur shortly after sunset on the first evening which begins not less than 60 hours after the Sun/Moon conjunction. This is the beginning of the magical lunar month. It is a good time for the beginning of new projects and enterprises.

The Rites of the Fine Crescent of the New Moon. Lodges linked with the Mysteries of the Moon initiate neophytes into their Outer Order on the night of the Fine Crescent. The candidates will have spent the five nights of the Dark of the Moon in solitary vigil, meditating and preparing themselves for initiation. Initiations into the Inner Order are also held at the Fine Crescent. The days after the Fine Crescent are excellent for healing rituals or spells.

Correspondences of the Fine Crescent. The Fine Crescent, in the language of magic is SaHaR DaQ, and its magic number is therefore, by gematria, 369. Its degree is 81, referred to Yesodh, 9th Sefirah of the Tree of Life, which corresponds to the Moon. The magic numbers of the Moon, independently of gematria or of any one of the Lunar phases, are also 9, 81 and 369.

The Fine Crescent corresponds to the element of Air or Potential Energy. It is referred to the letters 'Alef and Final Tsaddi of the Hebrew alphabet and to Alpha and Tsampi of the Greek Alphabet. Among the Tarocchi, the New Moon corresponds to the Kings and Wands; to The Fool; and to The Naked Goddess, more commonly known as The Stars, or Prudence. The Fine Crescent also corresponds to Kether, whose energies are channelled by Neptune, thus it is a time for seership and working with crystals.

The Fine Crescent is ruled by Rafa'El, the Mighty Archangel of healing and initiation. Rafa'El is strongest when Moon or Sun are in Aquarius, and is also strong when the Moon is in Gemini or Libra. The authors are accustomed to use God-names of the Qabalah. If you prefer other God-names , use the following correspondences as a guide.

Rafa'El Air Light-bearing and initiator divinities Mika'El Water Protecting and caring divinities Gavri'El Fire Teaching and dynamic divinities 'Uri'El Earth Earth divinities Yahu'El Spirit Above Supreme divinities Sundalfon ['Adonai Heylel] Spirit Below Underworld divinities Metatron ['El "Elyon] Spirit Centred The One Most High

Planting Herbs at the Fine Crescent The time from the Synod to the First Quarter is a time of rapid growth, when the sap rises powerfully. It is a good time to plant herbs whose leaves and flowers you will wish to harvest, and those which you are growing for seed to plant in future seasons. This is a good time to apply fertiliser. This is not a good time to pick herbs or harvest fruit or grains. ===

The First Quarter or White Crescent The First Quarter falls halfway through the waxing phase of the Moon from New to Full. It is a period of expansion and growth, and thus a good time to expand activities and to make any changes needed in your group's structure. This phase , like the Dark of the Moon, is an excellent time to conceive a child.

Rites of the First Quarter Rituals of the First Quarter include all initiations into grades other than the First of both Outer and Inner Orders. This is also a good time to work rituals and spells of healing; or of building self-confidence in times of trouble.

Correspondences of the First Quarter The ancient name of the First Quarter is Sahar Lavan or the White Crescent. Its magic number is 347, which is of the 23rd degree and corresponds to the letter Nun, and Scorpio, a Water Sign. The First Quarter corresponds to the element of Water, or fluid, changing Form. It is anciently linked to the letters Meyim and Final Nun in the Hebrew alphabet; and to Mu and Psi in the Greek alphabet. Among the Tarocchi, it corresponds to the Queens and Cups; to Triumph XII, The Hanging Man, also called the Heavenly Dancer; and to Triumph XIII, the Triumph which has no name.

This is the lunar phase of the Mighty Archangel Mika'El, whose magical work is to guard and preserve. Mika'El is strongest when the Moon or Sun is in Scorpio; and is also strong when the Moon is in Cancer and Pisces. The cosmic principle which is flowing in this phase is Pluto, [regeneration and transformation]. There is power for seership during this phase. The Greek letter Psi is universally used as a symbol for all forms of psychic abilities.

Planting Herbs at the First Quarter This phase continues to be a time of growth, when the sap is rising. Anything you can do in the previous Crescent Phase you can do here. It is an especially good time to plant herbs whose seeds or fruit you will wish to harvest. Plant cereals and grains. This is a good phase in which to apply fertiliser to plants already growing. The most powerful days of this phase are those just before the Full Moon. ===

The Full Moon or Throne This is probably the most difficult of all the phases of the Moon to handle. As is well known, the couple of days on either side of the full Moon are very disturbing to many people of unbalanced or criminal mind. The word 'lunatic' derived from Luna, the Latin word for Moon is testimony to long human knowledge of the disturbing effect of the Full Moon.

The reason for this is not hard to find. Firstly, at this time, the solar and lunar forces are opposed to each other, pulling each one of us in opposite directions. Secondly, the Full Moon phase of the lunar cycle is referred to the Element of Fire. There is an inherent contradiction between the fiery nature of this phase and the watery nature of the Moon. The Tower struck by Lightning is referred to the Full Moon, which is a good symbol of the turbulent, stormy nature of this phase. Some people love being on a Full Moon high !

The Rites of the Full Moon The rites at the Full Moon are those dedicated to the Moon herself as Diana, the Virgin Huntress. Although they can be very quiet in tone, there is usually a most powerful influx of lunar energies at this time. If these energies are contained and stored rather than being released in ecstatic or orgiastic rites, the stored energy can be released in its most effective and fully matured form at the Synod rites, if the leaders of the lodge or coven know what they re doing.

The Goodwill organisation, which derives its methods from Alice Bailey, a former Theosophist strongly influenced by Eastern teachings, promotes group meditation on the day of the Full Moon. Magically, this is good counsel. This is a day for quiet rites and contemplation, a time to await the influx of power from the Virgin Goddess of the Moon, Diana, rather than a time for any kind of busy or active magical rites, even though the nature of the phase tends to make us excited rather than calm.

The Meditation for World Peace movement, on the other hand, holds its Ritual Meditations for World Peace at the astronomical New Moon, when Sun and Moon energies are conjoined and work together. There are good magical reasons for this practice too, which are based on Western traditions.

The Full Moon phase is the monthly equivalent of the afternoon Fire phase of the daily elemental cycle, when we often feel very lively, but are better advised to take things quietly. It is a good idea to wait for a couple of days after the Full Moon before you undertake magical or any other activities of a dynamic kind.

Correspondences of the Full Moon The ancient magical name for the Full Moon is the Throne or Kise, pronounced keessay. Its magical numbers are 81 and 9, which are the numbers of the Moon. The Full Moon corresponds to the element of Fire or Dynamic Force. It is referred to the letters Shin and Final Peh of the Hebrew alphabet and to Tau and Omega in the Greek alphabet. Among the Triumphs, it corresponds to Triumph XX, The Judgement and Triumph XVI, The Lightning-struck Tower; among the Tarocchi, to Swords and Knights. The cosmic principle most active at the Full Moon is Uranus, which is the one of the most explosive and difficult to handle of all the cosmic principles.

This lunar phase is ruled by the Mighty Archangel Gavri'El. The magical work of this Mighty Being is to lead us to victory over the forces of destruction. Although this Archangel is assertive, it is not aggressive. The Mighty Archangel Gavri'El has had many equivalents on earth, among them the doughty warrior-knight Lancelot, but Lancelot, like Gavri'El, was also a Great Lover. Gavri'El is the leader of the War-Lords, and also of the Dance- Weavers among the heavenly hosts and is strongest during Aries and Leo.

There seems to be a contradiction between Gavriel's dynamic nature and the recommendations to do quiet, meditative rites at the Full Moon. You can balance these apparent opposites by considering the Zen principle: "Doing by not doing"; and the 27th of the 31 Final Statements on Magic: "The strong are strong; but the silent are stronger."

After the Full Moon Some of the power induced by your own or your group's meditative rites at the Full Moon should be used for revision and reconstruction during this phase. This is the Autumn of the lunar cycle. In the garden, it is the time for raking and burning the rubbish. In this phase, it is good to clear out your files and burn or get rid of all the rubbish you have accumulated. If you feel that you should resign from a magical group, or if you feel you should ask someone to withdraw from your group, this is the most appropriate time to do it.

Gardening during the Full Moon phase Once the Full Moon is past, the flux of energies begins to wane. This is the phase during which to plant herbs whose roots you expect to use. It is an especially good time for pruning and for any kind of harvesting, especially herbs for healing potions. Sprouts for eating should be planted now. Sprouts for seed should have been planted during the Fine Crescent phase. ===

The Last Quarter or Departing Crescent This is the middle of the Waning half of the lunation cycle phase, when the Crescent of the Moon becomes smaller each day. The activities appropriate to the Last Quarter are ones of consolidation and careful use of those principles which you have tried and found true. This is not a time for experimentation or innovation. Leave that for the First Quarter.

The Third Quarter is the one most closely connected to the Past while the First Quarter is most closely connected to the Future, by both its emphasis on Initiation and on its potential for seership. If you are reviewing past history, through such things as Recovering Past-Life memories or by researching ancient traditions, the Third Quarter of the cycle is the time to do it.

Correspondences of the Last Quarter The magical name for the Last Quarter is Sahar Yereach [pronounced ye-rey-ark], the Departing or Going Crescent. Its magical number is 483, which is of the 51st and 15th degrees, referred to Taurus, the Fixed Earth Sign, in which the Moon is exalted. Just as one of the two Hebrew names for the Moon, Levanah [the White One], formed part of the name of the First Quarter, so the other Hebrew name for the Moon, Yere'ach [= going], forms part of the name of the Last Quarter. The Departing Crescent corresponds to the element of Earth. In the Hebrew alphabet, it is referred to the letters Tav and Final Meyim and to Upsilon and Chi in Greek.

The Departing Crescent corresponds to Triumph XXI, The World and Triumph XII, The Hanging Man or The Miner, among the Triumphs; and to the Coins and Maids or Knaves among the Tarocchi. The cosmic principle most active during this phase is symbolised by the planet Saturn, which is conservative and cautious in nature. This lunar phase ruled by the Mighty Archangel 'Uri'El [pronounced oo-ri-el]. As the Crescent wanes and becomes more and more like a sickle or scythe in appearance, the power of 'Uri'El increases. The particular work of the Archangel 'Uri'El is the reaping of the harvest and the ploughing of the earth. This is the phase in which to reap the benefits of the magical work you have done through the earlier phases.

Gardening during the Last Quarter The lunar energies are waning rapidly during this phase. This is the phase during which to harvest crops or herbs which you expect to store for some time. It is an especially good time for pruning, weeding or for spreading manure and turning the earth.

THE VIGILS OF SELENE - The Rites held during the Dark of the Moon

First Vigil of the Departed Selene This is held on the first evening when you can no longer see the thin crescent of the Old Moon in the evening just before sunset. Each evening at sunset, the initiates of the Order or Coven should meet at whatever place you have chosen from which to watch for the return of the Goddess who seems to die each month, but returns to life anew.

Candidates for initiation should not attend any of the rites before the Fourth Vigil. The following is extracted from the Lament for Selene, and should be chanted at the First and Second Vigils.

We fear for you, Selene, That you have left us for ever. Once, from your immortal head, A brightness descended from the Heavens, And encircled the Earth. From this brightness came great beauty, And the air that was dark before Glowed with your golden crown.

Now is all around us dark, And your golden crown is gone. We fear for you, Selene, That you have left us for ever.

Second Vigil of the Departed Selene The Second Vigil, like the First, is a rite of sorrow and mourning, for the worshippers of the Goddess fear that She has been taken by the Dragon of Death and chant their Lament, again and again.

Third Vigil of the Departed Selene The Third Vigil of Selene is held on the night closest to the actual time of the Synod of the Moon with the Sun. Astronomically, this is the day on which the Moon and Sun are conjoined. Sun/Moon conjunctions are visible only when there is a solar eclipse, which can be seen from the place where you are.

The Lament for Selene is chanted at the beginning of the Third Vigil, but it is interrupted by the High Priestess of the Moon, who reveals that the Goddess is not dead, after all. She has only withdrawn into a private place to be with her lover, Helios the Sun

The Synod is celebrated by the union of the Priest and Priestess in private, while the other initiates engage in a wedding feast, dancing and rejoicing at the good news of the Union of Selene and Helios.

Here is a portion of the one of the chants of the Divine Lover, Selene, which are chanted at the Third and later Vigils of the Dark of the Moon, as part of the rites known as Waiting for the Return of Selene.

Swift-moving, gold-crowned, beautiful, Selene is She whom we sing. The wild geese winging, Bring garments that gleam in the shadows; And rings that coil round her fingers.

In her pierced ear-lobes, They place flowers of silver And pearls that shine in the night. When they have dressed her divinely, They lead her before the immortal, Helios, bright-shining Helios.

He greets her as soon as he sees her. He holds out his hands And yearns for her; Draws her toward him, Till she covers his brilliance And, Dark Light covering Light, Selene joins Helios.

Those who use the traditional Triumphs of the Tarocchi will have seen that Triumph XVIII, The Moon, actually depicts an Eclipse of the Sun by the Moon, when she is at her most powerful and most potent, as she covers the light of the Sun.

The Fourth and Fifth Vigils These two Vigils are known as Watching for the Return of Selene. The Rites of the Fourth Vigil continue the rejoicing, with pleas for her swift return. The Fifth Vigil is an evening on which it is possible that you might see the Fine Crescent of the New Moon, just after the setting of the Sun. It is also the first of the Vigils which candidates for initiation into lunar lodge are permitted to attend.

If due to poor weather conditions, you have not seen the Fine Crescent of the New Moon by the fifth evening, you should still go ahead with the Rites of the New Moon on that evening, including any initiations you might have planned.

The Rites of the Dark of the Moon The magical significance of the two or three days before and after the Sun/Moon conjunction, called the Dark of the Moon, have already been described, when discussing the Vigils of Selene. This is the most sacred part of the lunation cycle, dedicated to the Goddess as the lover of the God, Selene the Moon and Helios the Sun. It is from their magical union that all the creativity and energy of the lunation cycle proceeds. In ancient times, there was a deep, magical significance that Artemis [ whose Roman name was Diana] was the goddess of the Moon, and Apollo, the God of the Son, were twin sister and brother. They were the children of Leto by Zeus. Leto was the daughter of Phoebe by the Titan Coeus. Phoebe was the daughter of Ouranos and Gaia.

Your most sacred Lunar rites should take place during this period. This is the time when you not only prepare your candidates for initiation, through Vigils and Rites of Watching for the Goddess, but it is also the period when the most experienced initiates of a Lunar Lodge perform the rituals of their highest grades.

Correspondences of the Dark of the Moon Both the magical names of this phase translate as "The Darkness": Ha-Chashak [Ha-Hashak], which is of the 45th and 9th degrees; and Ha-'Aphelah [ha-afeylah], of the 13th and 4th degrees.

The 9th degree corresponds to the sefirah Yesodh, referred to the Moon; while the 13th degree corresponds to the letter Daleth, and also to the Moon.

The Dark of the Moon is referred to the Element of Spirit or the Quintessence. It corresponds to Final Kaf of the Hebrew alphabet and to Phi in the Greek alphabet. Phi is the symbol of the Divine or Golden Proportion in Sacred Geometry.

The Triumph referred to Spirit and to the Dark of the Moon is known as the Primum Mobile or Prime Mover. It is depicted among the 16th century Tarocchi of Mantegna. Among the traditional Tarocchi, the Dark of the Moon is referred to the Aces.

The Dark of the Moon ideally lasts for five nights. On the first two nights, the Archangel Sundalfon reigns. Sundalfon has mysterious links with the darker side of the Archangel 'Uri'El, and is powerful during Virgo and Pisces and Scorpio.

On the third night, which is the eve of the Sun/Moon conjunction, Sundalfon is joined by the Mighty Archangel Metatron. Metatron has links with the brighter side of the Archangel Rafa'El, and is also powerful during Gemini and Sagittarius. The union of Metatron-Sundalfon is the Mysterium Coniunctis which lies at the heart of all magical workings. It is symbolised by the conjunction of Selene and Helios in the Darkness; and the coming together of Priestess and Priest in a private place. The integrated Being, known in the Inner Mysteries as Metatron-Sundalfon, is powerful during the season of Libra. Its magic number is 600, which is the value of Final Meyim, corresponding to the element of Earth. The Triumph here is The Hanging Man, who dances in the heavens and also mines deep beneath the earth for treasure.

The Mysterium Coniunctis is the Union of Spirit and Earth, who are, among the gods, Ouranus and Gaia, the Heavens and the Earth. As it is written: In the beginning, the Gods made the Heavens and the Earth."

At all Lunar Rites It is appropriate to use Juniper or Jasmine as the incense or perfume at all Lunar rites. At the New Moon, Frankincense may be included for Helios, or Red Sandalwood for Love. Implements used at all Moon rites should be of silver or glass or of some white metal. If you are using wooden implements, they should be White, with appropriate symbols and sigils painted in silver or blue. Lunar jewels, are, of course, the Moonstone and the Pearl. You can also take note of which Sign of the Zodiac the Moon is during any of your lunar rites and refer to its planetary ruler symbolically.

Because the Moon rules Cancer, which is a Water sign, any correspondences of Cancer or Water are appropriately used in Moon rites. You might wish to bring in other elemental symbols according to which phase the Moon is in, as follows: Fine Crescent, Air of Water; First Quarter, Water of Water; Full Moon, Fire of Water; Last Quarter, Earth of Water; Dark of the Moon, Spirit of Water.

Throughout the whole lunation cycle, we serve the White Goddess, whose name is Selene at the Dark of the Moon and Diana at the Brightness of the Moon. These are the Lesser Mysteries of the Moon.

No objections: Prior of the Guardians.

Let it go forth: Senior Guardian.









Copyright © by The Book of THOTH - The complete guide to the Tarot, Magick and the Occult All Right Reserved.

Published on: 2005-11-05 (2422 reads)

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