The Moon has always held a special mystery and magic in many cultures. It's power and beauty has inspired poets, stories and superstitions around the world.
It is well documented that the Moon affects our moods, sleep patterns and health as it tugs at the water within the body, much the same way it creates the tides. The Moon is also said to affect the weather - from hurricanes in one part of the world, to earthquakes elsewhere.
Pagans recognise that we have a close bond to the moon, and how deeply affected we are by lunar activity. Because of this it is important to understand the cycles of the moon against the affect that it has on ourselves and our magick. By following these cycles we can hope to discover more about this sacred symbol of the Goddess and our own selves.
There are 13 full moons in a lunar year, each occurring every 29 days approximately.
Wiccans often hold special rituals to celebrate the Full Moons, considered to be one of the most powerful time for magick. The word 'esbat' meaning 'frolic' is used to describe these festivals, but the term also applies to any ritual that is held outside that of a Sabbat date.
The Moon is seen, by most Pagans, as a symbol of the Goddess, the Sun being a symbol of the God. However, this is not always so, as some cultures hold the Sun as feminine, and Moon as masculine.
The triple Goddess is seen in the three main phases of the Moon;
Maiden = Waxing,
Mother = Full,
Crone = Waning moon.
Its influence on the earth can range from beautiful placid rains to destructive thunderstorms. The Goddess being both giver and taker of life.
There are many ancient traditions associated with the lunar celebrations including the dressing of wells and the lighting of torches to direct the moon's rays down the to earth for her positive influences in the growth of crops and successful childbirth.
**Cycles of the Moon**
"The Moon has two basic movements,- it rotates, or spins, on its axis, and it revolves round the earth. Because a complete rotation and a complete revolution takes exactly the same time, we always see the same face of the moon. We only see the sunlit portion of the moon, which, like the Earth, is only half of the sphere at any one time. The phases of the moon - waxing and waning - are a result of the fact that not all the sunlit portion of the moon can be seen throughout the lunar months."
As Witches, we acknowledge the transformation of the seasons throughout the year, celebrating the sun's journey across the sky; marked out by the eight Days of Power or 'Sabbats'.
These represent seasonal birth, death and rebirth as the relationship between the Goddess and the God are constantly changing.
Each spoke of the wheel marks an important moment of the Earth's movement and progression.
These are times to give thanks for that which we have, and to ask that the earth may be continually fertile so that we may continue to grow our crops and rear animals as we have always done.
Many Witches start preparing for a Sabbat perhaps a week in advance and will begin celebrations starting the day before the actual Sabbat date and ending at sundown on the day after. Some choose to cut out chocolate, caffeine, or red-meat in the run-up to the festival.
In covens, the weeks before the Sabbats are very important. Its a time to learn lines, and prepare for the rite. Making food for the feasts should be done with the mindfulness of magickal intent, and some insist on strict ten minute meditations and visualizations in preparation for the ritual.
Following Sabbat dates in the Northern Hemisphere:
Samhain = October 31st
Yule = Around December 21st (changes year to year)
Imbolc = February 2nd
Ostara = Around March 21st
Beltane = May 1st
Litha = Around June 21st
Lughnasadh = August 1st
Mabon = Around September 21st