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Working With The Moon

The Working Moon
Every magikal practitioner should know which days to work and which to take off. Which moon phases are best for what kind of casting and which are for rest. These guidelines are not cast in stone and certainly if you have a friend in dire need of healing, you don't need to wait until the next Waxing Moon to cast. But for some of the best results, here are a few guidelines, interesting tid-bits, and helpful information.


Moon Facts
Picture the movement of the moon in terms of a clock whose hands are moving backward. The moon rests on the clock's hour hand, Earth sits at the clock's center, while the sun shines far off in the direction of 12 o'clock. As the moon orbits counterclockwise around Earth, its position relative to the sun and Earth changes, giving us the varied phases of the moon. Each phase of the moon lasts approximately 5 days.
The New Moon:
The first phase in the lunar cycle is the new moon. The moon is positioned between the sun and Earth at 12 o'clock. From Earth, the sun and moon appear to be in the same part of the sky and will rise and set together. The side of the moon that receives the sun's light is facing away from Earth, so no moon is visible to us on Earth's surface. On a very clear night, you might be able to make out a faint gray outlined view of the moon. This comes from the light of the sun being refracted off the Earth and back out to the moon.
One day after the new moon, a faint sliver outline can be seen low on the western horizon at sunset. The moon has moved from new to a waxing crescent phase. As the moon continues in its counterclockwise orbit, the crescent grows larger, or waxes. One week later, the moon reaches its second primary phase, the first quarter moon. Accordingly, the moon has moved one quarter of the way around Earth.
The First Quarter:
At the first quarter, the moon sits at 9 o'clock. The sun, Earth, and moon form a right triangle on the left side of the clock. Here only half of the moon's disk is illuminated. At first quarter, the moon rises 6 hours after the sun – at about noon. It reaches its highest point at sundown and sets around midnight. That means the moon can be seen during daylight hours in the afternoon.
For several days after first quarter, the moon continues to wax but it is in a waxing gibbous phase instead of a waxing crescent. A gibbous moon is more than a quarter moon but less than a full moon. During this phase, the moon moves from 9 o'clock to 6 o'clock on the dial, and the sun-Earth-moon angle is getting larger – just like the moon's phase.
The Full Moon:
When the moon reaches its 6 o'clock position, the phase is full. The side of the moon that faces Earth is fully illuminated – that large circle of light a certain two-year-old child (my son) called the moon ball. On the clock, the sun, Earth, and moon form a straight line. From Earth, the sun and moon appear to be at opposite ends of the sky. So as the sun sets, the moon rises. The full moon is now visible all night.
Once it's past full, the moon moves from 6 o'clock to 3 o'clock and the sun-Earth-moon angle begins to shrink. The moon's phase is also getting smaller. It's moving from waning gibbous to its third- or last-quarter phase.
The Last Quarter Moon:
This third-quarter moon sits at 3 o'clock on the phase dial, where the sun-Earth-moon angle is once again 90°, but this time it's on the right side of the clock. From Earth, we see half of the moon's disk illuminated – the side opposite as the one illuminated at first quarter. A third-quarter moon rises about six hours after the sun sets, reaches its highest point in the southern sky at dawn, and sets at about noon.
As the moon orbits Earth (the inner circle) its position relative to the sun and Earth changes. This causes the lunar phases we see in our sky (the outer circle). In the week after the third quarter, the moon moves through its waning crescent phase to it's dark phase.
The Dark Moon:
About 3 to 5 days before the eventual return to the new moon phase, where the cycle begins again, the moon enters a dark phase. The moon sits at about 2:30 on the dial. Here the moon is neither illuminated by the sun (in a crescent phase), nor is it able to reflect the light of the sun providing an outline of it's surface (as in the new moon phase). It is truly dark and seemingly has disappeared from the sky.

Working With The Phases Of The Moon
Each phase of the moon brings with it a special energy for that phase of the lunar cycle. Everyone knows the moon affects the tides of the worlds oceans, but because we are mostly liquid ourselves, these phases also affect us. Understanding what these energies bring, help you to connect with and use those energies in your magikal rituals, meditations and even your daily life.
The New Moon phase is best used for personal growth, healing and blessing of new projects or ventures. It's also a good time to cleanse and consecrate new tools and objects you wish to use during rituals, ceremonies or an up coming festival.
- 1st Quarter -
The Waxing moon is best used for attraction magik, inner love spells, protection for couples and healing energy for couples. What you want to attract to yourself and your path can be enhanced during this phase of the moon.
The Full Moon is best used for banishing unwanted influences in your life. Think of it as 'shining a light' on issues or challenges. It can also be a good time for creating protection magik and performing divination. You can use this time for releasing old patterns or issues, and open the door for healing by giving energy to positive patterns you'll put in place. Full Moon magik can be conjured during the 3 days prior to the rise of the Full Moon, the night of the Full Moon and during the 3 days after.
- Last Quarter -
The Waning moon is used for banishing and rejecting those things that influence us in a negative way. Negative emotions, diseases, ailments, and bad habits can all be let go and special spells for clearing negative energies from the self, home, ritual circle, tools and so on can be performed at this time. Simply remember that when you remove an energy, you want to fill the void with a more positive energy. So this is also a good time to consecrate the future with what you want it to be as you move forward.
- Void Of Course -
The Dark Moon period occurs 3 days prior to the New Moon and it's the shortest 'phase' of the moon. This is the time when you can't see the moon in any phase. Typically no magik is performed during this time. This is the time to give yourself a break, to turn to self and pamper or replenish your own energies. Vision quests and deep meditations are called for at this time to focus on personal matters, questions and answers. The Void of Course moon is not recognized through astronomical means, it's purely a nature based observance or astrological phase.
A Lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes into the Earth's shadow. This type of eclipse does not occur every year. But when it does, it's a wonderful and magikal night. It lasts for only a few hours, so you need to plan your rituals well in advance. A lunar eclipse on a full moon is perfect for all purposes. Simply plan your spells to coordinate with the passing shadow. When the moon is in full eclipse, treat those few moments as if the moon were in it's Dark phase. Some practitioners forgo magik work all together and use this time to honor the Goddess in a special ritual.
The Penumbral moon occurs when the moon passes into the outer shadow of the earth. This type of eclipse is hard to spot unless the moon is 70% into that shadow. These type of eclipses are more common and generally occur at least once a year. When you can see it, the lower part of the moon becomes distorted. During a waning phase for instance, the lower half of the moon will look blurred or smudged. Once again it's a special night. This is the perfect night to honor the magik of the Goddess. No work or casting, just thankfulness and gratitude. 
You can find a complete listing of this years Moon Phases on the Pagan's Path moon calendar.

 Back To The Index The Blue Moon
A "Blue Moon" occurs when two full moons happen in one calendar month. Since the phase period of the moon is 29.5 days, you usually only have one full moon each month. But each month it's a little earlier than the previous month and eventually you'll find 2 full moons in a single month. This occurs about every 2.5 years, and the second full moon is called the "blue moon". There is no physical difference in appearance, the second full moon looks like a regular full moon.

According to folklorists, the term "Blue Moon" is at least 400 years old. The earliest known references to a blue moon were intended as examples of improbable events or something that could never happen. As time passed the expression evolved to mean something that rarely or never happened. Hence the expression "Once in a Blue Moon" which is still popular today.
In the pagan community, the origins of the meaning of a Blue Moon vary. And the legend or origin of these meanings cannot be substantiated. However, some believe the second full moon holds the knowledge of the Grandmother Goddess (or the Crone) and therefore contains the wisdom of the 3-fold the energy. This can be associated with the Goddess in her 3 forms of Maiden, Mother, Crone. It can also be associated with the 3 natures of self as Mind, Body, Spirit. In later evolutions as paganism began to be influenced by Christianity, this moon was associated with the Divine Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In other pagan traditions the phases of the moon represent the transition of knowledge within the Goddess. The quarter moons representing the Maiden Goddess, the New Moon the Mother Goddess, the Full Moon the Grand Mother Goddess (which maybe one reason we refer to the moon as "Grandmother Moon". The Blue Moon then is seen as the transition of the Grandmother or Crone to the Divine level of existence. She becomes an expression of evolution of wisdom, as well as an example of the circle of life.
Another view is that the Blue Moon represents a time of heightened or clearer communication between our physical being and the Divine. Often the energy of the Divine is seen in the form of the Grandmother Goddess or the Crone Goddess. It can also be viewed as a link between the physical (masculine energy) and the spiritual (feminine energy), making communication with spirit easier and more apt to yield insightful and enlightened communications.

 Back To The Index The Red Blood Moon
According to NASA and "folklore, October's full moon is called the "Hunter's Moon" or sometimes the "Blood Moon." It gets its name from hunters who tracked and killed their prey by autumn moonlight, stockpiling food for the winter ahead. You can picture them: silent figures padding through the forest, the moon overhead, pale as a corpse, its cold light betraying the creatures of the wood."
There are many different correspondence tables for Moon Names. But most do agree on the alias "Blood Moon" during the three months of fall when hunting and harvesting take place.
Today the Blood Moon is typically associated with the first full moon nearest the Autumn Equinox, for us in the Northern Hemisphere that occurs in October. But it can occur as early as September (The Fruit Moon), and as late as November (The Beaver Moon) as the Earth tilts back away from the sun. Consequently these same affects can be seen in the Southern Hemisphere on the opposite side of the year, corresponding to the full moons of March, April and May.

Observances During The Blood Moon:
During the autumn months, The Blood Moon represents abundance, hunting, gathering and preparing for the cold winter months. It's a time to honor the Harvest and Hunting Gods/Goddesses. Many festivals take place during this time to give thanks and appreciation for the bounty and stockpiles of plenty gathered by a clan or tribe. The Feast of the Hunter's Moon is a long standing practice in Indiana where a living Native American history re-enactment takes place. But similar events can be found around the world and with varying names.

From a magikal point of view, the same concepts can be enacted today for these full moons rituals. They can be used to bring abundance into your life in the form of finances, harvest, health, friendship and love. And to give thanks and honoring the blessings of the Harvest.

A Blood Moon Eclipse:
Occasionally, we can find a rare Blood Moon lunar eclipse. This can occur anytime of the year. But how does it happen? Well the Earth casts a long shadow that extends out into space. When the moon passes behind the Earth, opposite of the Sun, (in other words Earth is in the middle), we cast a long shadow that hides the moon. That's what a lunar eclipse is.

Now let's say you had a space ship and traveled out between the Earth and the Moon during an eclipse. Look out the window back at Earth and you'll be looking at the dark side. The Earth will be in silhouette and what you're seeing is every sunrise and sunset on Earth--all at once. This ring of light shines into Earth's shadow, breaking the utter darkness you might expect to find there. Turn off the cockpit lights and look at the Moon and there's a lovely red glow.

What's in the Earths atmosphere will also affect the color or shade of red reflected on the Moon. According to NASA, following a volcanic eruption, for instance, dust and ash can turn global sunsets vivid red. The moon would glow vivid red, too. Lots of clouds, on the other hand, extinguish sunsets, leading to darker, dimmer eclipses. The Moon can shine as Pumpkin Orange to Deep Blood Red all depending on the Earth's weather or natural events.

Observances During The Blood Moon Eclipse:
Since an eclipse is an extra special event, it has a special energy and observance. Especially when it's a rare Blood Moon eclipse. These special occasions are used for honoring and celebrating life, or the blood flow of life. This energy of the moon can be used to energize fertility, abundance, or communicate with spirit.

  Gardening By Moon Sign
Placement of the moon in the heavens through astrology is not the same as it's physical placement through astronomy. In earlier times, farmers used a solar, lunar and astrological calendar to ensure the proper planting period for their gardens and fields. Here in the U.S. Benjamin Franklin published the first horoscopes in his Philadelphia daily, which included a monthly entry concerning gardening.
The water signs are the best for planting. When the moon is in Cancer, Scorpio, or Pisces are the best times. But Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn can be follow-up alternatives.
Weeding and Plowing
When the moon moves into Aries, Gemini, Leo Sagittarius and Aquarius, remove weeds and inspect your plants for pests.
Transplanting and Grafting
Transplanting and Grafting are best done when the moon enters Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.
Pruning is best done during Aries, Leo or Sagittarius. Try to schedule your pruning during a waxing moon to encourage growth.
Keep it clean and mended
Clean out your shed during a Virgo moon to help the work move along smoothly. Mend fences, gardening stakes and beds during a Capricorn moon.
Avoid making decisions when the moon is in Libra.

  When The Moon Rises
Moon rises occur about 50 minutes later each day than the day before. Moon rises can occur at night as well as during the day. But the best way to put it into memory is a good ole time folk tale:
The new Moon always rises at sunrise
And the first quarter at noon.
The full Moon always rises at sunset
And the last quarter at midnight.

Grand Mother Moon:
Additional reading:
 Moon Phase Calendar 
 Workings With The Moon   
 The Monthly Full Moon / Moon Names
 Lunar Calendars - A Short History
Back To The Index
 Source: 1, s1, s2, s4, s5, s6, s7, s11, s14, m21, m23, m31,
2008 Farmers Almanac,
US Navel Observatory: Moon Phases & Earth Events,
NASA Eclipse Website,
 Created: 11.01.1999         Updated: 01.10.2009