Monday 14 January 2013

Introduction to the Moon Calendar

Month: a measure of time corresponding nearly to the period of the moon's revolution and amounting to approximately 4 weeks or 30 days or 1⁄12 of a year.

Wicca recognises both Male and Female aspects in the Divine. The Goddess, the Female aspect, is symbolised and represented by the Moon while the God, the Male aspect, is symbolised and represented by the Sun.

A Solar year usually encompasses 12 full Moons, though roughly every 3rd year a Solar year will have a 13th full Moon. Many cultures originally worked with a Lunar-Solar calendar, with the Moon as the leading element. The Jewish Calendar still works with this system, inserting a leap Moon month of Adar II into the year when needed to keep the Months on track with the seasons.
The origin of the word Month is the Moon and many countries either have an agricultural naming system for each full moon. Most European countries have abandoned the agricultural names and adopted the Roman names for their official calendar. Those countries that haven't adopted them still use the agricultural names – Poland is a good example of this.

The moon calendar I work with is based on the English agricultural names. I live in Ireland, but since it is not far from England I feel that the agricultural Moon names are very relevant. Like the Jewish Calendar, this Moon calendar also adds an extra leap Moon into the pattern every three years, continuing to balance the Moon cycle with the seasons. Nowadays, it is easy for us to know when the old Moon ends and the new Moon begins: it is the time of the New Moon, or Dark Moon, and this point in the Moon cycle can simply be calculated. There is something to be said for the old system, when the new Moon began when it was first seen in the sky. If the weather was cloudy, a 'Month' would simply last an extra day. Really looking at the Moon and being aware of its cycle by going out each evening to see the changes can help to enhance your own connection to the rhythm of the Moon.

The Moons for 2013 are as follows:

Moon cycle New moon Full moon
Snow Moon Friday January 11th Sunday January 27th
Death Moon Sunday February 10th Monday February 25th
Awakening Moon Monday March 11th Wednesday March 27th
Grass Moon Wednesday April 10th Thursday April 25th
Planting Moon Friday May 10th Saturday May 25th
Rose Moon Saturday June 8th Sunday June 23th
Lightning Moon Monday July 8th Monday July 22th
Harvest Moon Tuesday August 6th Wednesday August 21th
Hunters Moon Thursday September 5th Thursday September 19th
Blood Moon Saturday October 5th Saturday October 19th
Tree Moon Sunday November 3rd Sunday November 17th
Long Night Moon Tuesday December 3rd Tuesday December 17th

So how can this Moon Calendar be used in Wicca and Paganism?

Even though it is not an 'official' part of Wicca, quite a few covens work with some form of Moon Calendar. The Wicca strive to connect with Nature and its cycle. One way of doing that is by celebrating the 8 seasonal festivals. We also gather during the phases of the Moon: Full moon is the most obvious phase (called an Esbat) though some covens also get together to celebrate the other Moon phases (waning, waxing and dark moon). The agricultural names of the Moon reflect what is going on outside in nature at the time of that month, and can be very useful to use as a thread within the ritual.

If you are on your own you could do an associative meditation on the name of the Moon. Close your eyes and start by finding that quiet space within yourself where you feel relaxed and safe. Say the name of the Moon to yourself: Snow Moon. The first image that comes to you could be your starting point. If it is a snow flake, look at it with your minds eye and see what the next association is that comes to you. This could for example be a field covered with snow. Follow on from there until you feel you have come to a point where you feel you have covered everything or until you lose concentration. Write down as many of the associations as you can remember, and see if you can find a pattern that can lead you to a deeper understanding of nature at this point in its cycle.

If you work within a group, you could use the above exercise as a starting point for a guided visualisation (pathworking). I will be giving starting points and ideas on what you could use in pathworkings in the blog articles that will follow this one.  

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