Lunar rituals: moon phases, esbats and astrology.
Moon rituals are a model of natural esotericism and magic related to the cycles of renewal that the moon evokes, as well as sacred time, determined by visible changes in nature, and which are always a sign of rebirth. Eliade (1974) said that the human being recovered with the moon a vital consciousness, and a consciousness of cosmic destiny of death and resurrection, which made him a participant in the cosmic network. Lunar rites are not something exclusive to the magical field, since they have equivalences in many religions and cultures, such as Native Americans or oriental festivals that follow the lunar or sun-lunar calendars, as well as many other agrarian rites. After all, human beings have always been aware of the influence of the moon on waters and crops, and consequently, fertility, just as it is a predictor of changes in season and meteorology through its sizes and colors. . Likewise, its close link and parallelism with menstruation and pregnancy have led to the image of the moon as a divinity (whether male or female) that exerts great influence on women.
Therefore, it should not be surprising that rituals related to the moon have their greatest example and diffusion in Wicca, as it is experiencing a propaganda boom and has a clearly lunar goddess, and in Mediterranean cultures in which the moon is a feminine divinity, like the Greco-Latin world with Selene or Artemis-Diana, or the triple goddess Artemis-Selene-Hecate, who has become over time also the triple goddess of the three ages which, after all, are also a reflection of lunar phases.
On the other hand, the moon already fulfilled a mystical function of rebirth, which made it the timer of the rites, and especially of the initiation rites, in which the new adept "dies" and is resurrected as a member of the community and believer in a new faith or tradition. In some ancient traditions it was also the guide of the dead, precisely because of that symbolism. In contrast, it should be noted, as Aguiar (2010) does, that in neo-paganism and modern esotericism, the moon follows Celtic cult traditions, and yet, with the exception of Dianic Wicca and local paganisms, Indo-Oriental lunar mysticism, pointed out by Eliade, or the own agrarian lunar rites of Latin America are left aside.
To analyze the rituals to the moon we will make two main distinctions, which will be the lunar phases and the twelve full moons of the year. In this way we can see how the practitioners of this lunar cult or who carry out esoteric practices with the mediation of the moon use recurring and symbolic elements to develop their rituals. To this must be added astrological practice, that is, the knowledge of lunar movements and its "interaction" with the planets or constellations, which provide the moon with a specific influence that, in esoteric belief, is mirrored in the earthly world.
It should be noted that there is a predominantly female practice, given the characteristics mentioned above. By tradition of witches, priestesses, or simple fertility rites, female participation is indisputable, as is the use of these rituals for spells related to sexuality or love. However, to date, except for certain separatist groups, there is no impossibility on the part of the male gender to practice it, so it is understood that, although the moon can "influence" more on certain feminine aspects, the male practitioner has the same freedom to perform their rituals with the same success.
-Rituals in different moon phases.
As said previously, the phases of the moon evoke for human beings since time immemorial the different phases of growth, plenitude, old age and death-rebirth. But not only that, but the land workers quickly perceived how these phases could also influence the type of ideal product to plant, in relation to the flow of the sap. In this way, on a new moon it is advisable to plant long-rooted foods, such as carrots, turnips or radishes, since the sap moves to the base of the soil and plants, as well as for fast-growing seeds. During the waxing moon, the sap begins to rise, so it is advisable to plant leafy foods, such as lettuce, chard or spinach. On a full moon, the sap rises to the maximum, so fruits such as tomatoes or peppers and other taller plants with fruit are ideal to plant at this time. In the waning moon, the sap drops, remaining at the same level as in the waxing moon, so it will be equally a good time for slow-growing leafy vegetables and seeds.
Along with this, the waxing quarter is considered the best time to fertilize and transplant, and the waning quarter, ideal for eliminating weeds. Likewise, the new moon is considered a good time for rituals related to renewal, with the beginning of some new task, job, habit. The crescent moon strengthens spiritual or material growth, and the full moon would be the ideal time to reap the fruits of the work begun, to obtain benefits and gather energy. On the waning moon, rituals will be aimed at eliminating what is bad or unnecessary, to let it go and purify oneself. And so, each month, hopes and dedications can be renewed. Of course, each practitioner can appeal to each phase of the moon for a specific purpose, as well as a ritual of their choice, for example, to start or end a relationship or a job.
Among these lunar rituals we find two most frequent types: incense and candle rituals, and lunar baths. The first consist of an offering and a basic spell. An incense is burned in relation to the desire or the lunar phase (e.g. myrrh, sandalwood), and is accompanied by other elements, such as flowers, plants, amulets or crystals. A candle of the most suitable color for the intention is lit, and the wish written on a piece of paper or on a leaf of a specific herb is burned in its flame (e.g. bay leaf for money). Lighting the candle and incense can be done at dusk or in the early morning, although there are those who consider that the true effectiveness comes from knowing the fields of action of the astrological hours and the correspondences between aromas, herbs, crystals, colors, incenses, etc. that are used.
When it comes to moon baths, they should not be confused with aesthetic body exfoliation treatments. A moon bath, at a ritual level, consists of washing and purifying oneself with moon water, that is, water that, together with other ingredients such as honey, aromatic herbs, fruits or crystals, is left under the light of the moon in the phase in which said purification is decided. The most common thing seems to be on a waxing moon and a full moon, leaving a bottle or airtight jar with florida water or another preparation. The water should be left overnight, or at least six hours a night, and should be used as soon as possible, so people who prepare them tend to pour that water over themselves in the shower, or mix it with bath water, or even pour it into a basin and cool off or soak some garment or object with said liquid. A modern novelty in this is to leave a bomb of bath salts with herbs or aromas in the moonlight, and use it later. The most natural version of this ritual is bathing in the sea or river at midnight.
- Rituals to the full moon or esbats.
Without a doubt, the full moon is the most striking time for lunar rituals. In fact, the lunar months take this event as a starting and ending point. As far as the esoteric world is concerned, rituals focused exclusively on the moon can be divided into those that perform them because they consider that the energies and influences are at their peak, and the Wiccan esbats. Curiously, the names of the twelve moons that most have become popular have been those given to them by the Native Americans. This is mostly because American Wicca has spread these names as a "pagan" basis, and because of their greater publicity, they are the names that are also used in most of Europe. However, the reality of the names is not so much that native tradition as that the first European settlers adopted the names of the natives to adapt their crops. And this is the reality of many other names that full moons receive in other cultures, such as Arabic, Hindi or Chinese, names intended to mark an important date for changes in season and climate. Within European paganism, in addition, there are obvious names for festivities, such as the Yule Moon or Moon after Yule. The Wiccan esbats consist of the celebration of these full moons in a special way each month, although in total at There are 13 full moons every year, which is seen as a lucky number. They are not simple rituals that consider that the full moon has more or less energy. The esbat, in the words of neo-pagan authors such as Doreen Valiente or Scott Cunningham, is above all a celebration, that is, the full moon is used both for rituals and a simple act of dedication, meeting and fun. Therefore, the rituals of the esbats do not have to differ much from the general neopagan rituals to the full moon, being a call to the gathering of the community, entertainment and the making of specific requests (apparently, the most common They are always objectives to achieve, whether material or spiritual).
These esbats generally consist of an invocation and dedication to the Goddess, in her triple form and more commonly in her mature and full form, a series of offerings to her, generally pastries and some alcoholic beverage, along with crystals or incense, normally following some correspondence, and after that, the incantation or spell of the requester. The god is not omitted in this celebration, and, of course, if the celebration is communal, chants, circles, banquets, lighting of candles and some minor rituals usually take place. This does not mean that the names of the moons and what they This means they are taken into account for the request. In the northern hemisphere, the most generic months and names are the Wolf Moon or Old Woman (January), Snow Moon (February), Worm Moon, Crow Moon or Maple Moon (March), Pink Moon or Fish Moon (April). , flower moon (May), strawberry moon or hot moon (June), hay or deer moon (July), corn, sturgeon or dog moon (August), harvest moon (September), Hunter's Moon (October), Owl, Frost or Beaver Moon (November) and Cold or Oak Moon (December). These moons change in the southern hemisphere, where the first moon (wolf or old moon) corresponds to the month of July, where it is winter there.
When analyzing rituals, for example, the harvest moon, the pink moon or the worm moon seem to have more value for these material acts, due to their symbolism and moments, than the owl moon may have. or the snow moon. The biggest difference between neopagans and esoteric-occultists in general consists, therefore, in considering the moon as a divinity (either literally or deified in a figure) or as a cosmic element, such as planets, stars, or natural energies. The former have the approval and search for pleasure from said divinity, while for the latter, although they can provide the moon with a certain life and sensitivity, it is a sacred tool.
- Influence of astrology
To finish, some touches on the characteristics of the moon affected by certain astronomical, and consequently astrological, positions. The moon can be influenced by the closeness or distance of the planets. Generally, it is taken into account whether the moon is in opposition, sextile, trine... (see Western Astrology: Astrology Notions I) The planetary opposition is usually interpreted negatively, and the other positions indicate small events.
As for the zodiacal signs, it is considered that the moon transmits its influences as it passes through the different zodiacal houses. So when passing through Aries, it transmits an extra dose of energy and independence. When passing through Taurus, it calls for slow and patient progress. When passing through Gemini, it announces changes, and when passing through Cancer, family care. In Leo, the moon promotes action, in Virgo, organization and concentration, and in Libra, expression and interpersonal balance. The moon in Scorpio announces suspicions and many emotions, in Sagittarius, an intellectual emphasis and movement, in Capricorn, frustrations and hard work. Finally, in Aquarius the moon promotes new actions and ideas, and in Pisces, unstable emotional management.
How do practitioners apply these influences? Considering at the same time the meanings and influences of the lunar phases to know if they are interested, for example, in taking advantage of the growing moon in Aquarius to carry out a new project, or the new moon in Taurus to accelerate a process.
In conclusion, both feeding and honoring the beneficent deity and taking advantage of a specific moment to emulate what happens with the phases and seasons, are still very basic symbolisms, but they continue to be efficient in the magical-religious field.
Pietro Viktor Carracedo Ahumada - firstname.lastname@example.org
-Aguiar, RM. Ritual da lua: o eterno retorno do femenino. Último andar, 2010
-Cunninghma, S. Wicca. Una guía para la practica individual. Arkano Books, 2008.
-Eliade, M. Tratado de la Historia de las Religiones. (Cap. IV - La luna y la mística lunar). Ediciones Cristiandad, 2011
-Guiley, R. The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy. Facts on File, 2006