by Estelle Daniels
In the olden days, witches were acutely aware of the Moon and used her phases to time all manner of things, when to do certain spells, and also how the Moon's phases would affect people. Much of this lore has been lost through the burning times, as well as the intrusion of scientific thought. As witches reclaim their heritage, knowledge and lore, it's time to bring back some of the Moon lore. Witches of old went by what they observed in the sky. Nowadays we have access to astrological almanacs, and they are inexpensive and easy to use. The Moon Sign Book or Astrological Calendar can be an indispensable tool for you to use. These techniques are not just for the mystical magical portion of your life, they work in everyday life also.
First and most important, is to decide what you want to accomplish. The more concise and clear you can be the better you can refine your options. Then decide upon a time period you want to do your working in. Some techniques (like day/night) are easily adaptable for a working in a short time period. Some are better adapted for longer time spans (Moon phases). The best way to use them is to try them, take note of your results, and decide which are most comfortable for you to use.
One concept which is vital to understand for using these techniques is to realize whenever you start a thing, that is the time you imprint upon it, it gets a "birthchart" for the moment you start. So if you want to time a ritual (for example), you time from the start of the ritual, whatever you might consider that to be. Whether the entire ritual lasts 20 minutes or four hours is irrelevant, only that start time matters. A more mundane example is if you are starting a job, the day and time you actually start the job is the birthchart, no matter whether you plan to be at the job temporarily, or to keep the job for the rest of your working career. These techniques use a different type of astrology than the standard birthchart astrology, so different rules apply.
If you are interested in a more in-depth treatment of the same material, check out Astrologickal Magick, by Estelle Daniels (1995 Weiser), and you will find more explanations and ideas.
Each lunar month (from New Moon to New Moon) is a cycle of idea, implementation, coming to fruition, harvesting of ideas and then reexamination and reevaluation preparatory to beginning a new cycle at the next New Moon. Watch how projects tend to be started around the New Moon, develop and are usually implemented around the Full Moon, then are tested and evaluated as the Moon moves from Full to New, then are either left on auto-pilot or revamped and the cycle starts again near the next New Moon. Long-term projects may have a life over several lunar months, but the sub-cycles of creation (New Moon) crisis (first quarter) Implementation or coming to fruition (Full Moon), reevaluation, testing and reexamination (last quarter) and finally ending and the start of a new sub-cycle (New Moon) still are in effect. Even long term projects start at New Moons, are brought to implementation or maximum effort at Full Moons, even though it may be in different lunar months.
There are three cycles of time markers which can be used effectively to time activities in accordance with the Moon's cycles. These are based upon a two-fold cycle (waxing/waning), a three-fold cycle (new, full, old) and a four-fold cycle (new, first quarter (waxing), full, third quarter (waning)).
When timing with the Moon, it is important to be as precise as possible in determining when the cycles change. An Almanac or calendar will show the Moon phases (new, first quarter, full and last quarter), and these should be paid close attention to. The exact time of the Moon phases signal the culmination or highest energy of that cycle, and the minute after the exact phase is the start of the next cycle. As an example, the Moon is waxing when it is between new and full, increasing in light. The Moon is waning when it is between full and new, decreasing in light. At full it is considered 'most waxed'— the influences of a waxing Moon are most potent. At new it is 'most waned'— the influences of a waning Moon are most potent. After new is exact it is waxing, after full is exact it is waning. With this type of astrology, you are using very precise rules, and exact timing is one thing you have to be aware of.
Waxing/Waning Moon (two-fold cycle)
Mandala for this cycle is the yin-yang.
Waxing Moon – good for starting things, new things (experiences, ideas, people, places, tangible items etc.), things which need to increase or grow (like an IRA), planting, planting above-the-ground crops, leaving on a trip, things which will be brought out into the open, bringing together, building, binding, gathering, summoning, action, birth and growth, vitality is high, subjective awareness, build form, develop structure.
Waning Moon— good for ending ventures, things which should decrease, wither or die, dieting, harvesting, planting below-the-ground crops (root crops), things which should remain secret, banishing, loosing, sending away, returning home from a trip, reaction, loss, letting go, Give-Away, death and decay, vitality is lessened, objective awareness, fulfill purpose, release meaning.
The three-fold cycle
Mandala for this cycle is the triskelion.
New Moon (from new to first trine-about 2 1/2 days after first quarter) is the time for starting plans, projects, relationships; for getting ideas, gathering resources, planting seeds, starting research, making plans, leaving on a trip, entering an arena or coming out, enthusiasm and high spirits, corresponds to Maiden
Full Moon (from first trine through full to second trine-about 4 1/2 days after full moon) is the time for being in the public eye, the implementation and culmination of plans or projects, dissemination and application of ideas, application of research, harvesting the fruits of your labors, doing your business on a trip, having a vacation, enjoying life and just be-ing, corresponds to Mother
Old Moon (from second trine to new moon) is the time to wrap up plans, projects, relationships; reevaluation of ideas and their applications, refinement and storage of research, weeding and plowing crops under, planting and harvesting root crops, saving for the future, returning from a trip, hiding and being reclusive, evasion and secrets, endings and winding-down, corresponds to Crone.
The Four-fold cycle
Mandala for this cycle is the Moon wheel.
New (from New Moon to first quarter) is the time to start projects and bring yourself or ideas into the open. It is beginning, impulsive, emerging, initiating, subjective, instinctual, new, innovative, active, aspiring, young. It corresponds to East, Spring and the Rising Sun.
First quarter (from first quarter to Full Moon) is the time to build, continue, change, perfect and modify our projects and ideas. It is creative, active, adolescent, struggling, challenging, outgoing, vital, powerful, strong, the will culminates. It corresponds to South, Summer and the Noontime Sun.
Full (from Full Moon to last quarter) is when our projects, plans and ideas are released into the world. It is accomplishing, fulfilling, objective, conscious and aware, relating, emotional, mature. It corresponds to West, Autumn and the Setting Sun.
Last quarter (from Last quarter to New Moon) is when we evaluate what we have done, see what worked and what did not and take that and prepare for the next cycle, evaluating the past in the present with an eye to the future. It is releasing, assimilating, old, breaking-down, letting-go, consolidating, introspective, dreaming, silent, wise, renewing, final. It corresponds to North, Winter and the Midnight (Invisible) Sun.
Timing a working to reflect the time needed for the completion of a project can be effective. If it is a long-term project which will take weeks or months, and it is building up (for example), start right after the New Moon. You are using the waxing energy, but it will take time to become Full which reflects the time it will take for the project to be fully realized. If you want quick results, time your working to just before Full or New. This reflects the short time span for accomplishment. The quarter moons are times of crisis, realignment, reevaluation and reinforcement of a working. For a long-term project you might start your working right after the New Moon reinforce it at the first quarter, and do a final push for results right before the Full Moon. Similar times apply to the waning cycle. The quarter moons are good for spells which give you a swift kick to action. They are also good for spells which relate to times of crisis and times when a decision is needed.
Relating the Moon's phases to the Goddess cycle, she is born at the New Moon, a Maiden at first crescent, growing in beauty and maturity until she is Mother (and possibly pregnant) at Full. Full Moon is the time with the most power for accomplishing change. She is in her glory and at her brightest and most fertile. As the Moon wanes after it is Full, she grows older, and changes from Mother to Crone, no longer fertile but full of wisdom, knowledge and experience. The Crone dies at the final crescent, and is in the underworld (her fourth face) when no longer visible. She is reborn at New Moon, and emerges into the world as Maiden at the first crescent again. The dark of the Moon is a time when the veils between the worlds are thinnest and is good for divination. New Moon is the time best for gathering information. The Full Moon is also good for divination and can be a time when people tend to be more emotional and less rational, hence the notorious "lunacy" of Full Moons.
Timing a working for day or night also can add effectiveness to your spells. Daytime workings are similar to the waxing Moon cycle, and nighttime spells are similar to the waning Moon cycle. Daytime spells are solar in nature (Masculine, male, active, energetic, out-in-the-open, in public, going out into the world, business, mental and rational, assertive, aggressive, community, group or other oriented, future.) Nighttime spells are lunar in nature (Feminine, female, receptive, passive, hidden-from-view, private, personal, staying at home, retiring, emotional and feeling, nurturing, caring, past.) Dawn and dusk are times of transition, dawn corresponding to birth, daytime to life and activity, dusk to death and nighttime to rest, repose and time between lives, to start again at dawn and rebirth. Noon is the time of the Sun's greatest power and people's vitality. Midnight is the Moon's most powerful time (especially at Full Moon), and the time for rest. Night is the time when the veils between the worlds are thinnest and is better for magick, spells and esoteric or inner work.
Another technique is using the Void-of-course Moon. This is the time between the Moon's final aspect in any sign, and the time it changes signs into the next sign. In most almanacs it will be indicated by a time and a v/c next to the Moon. It is in effect from the moment after that v/c time until the moment the Moon enters the next sign. This can last for minutes, hours or-rarely-days. It will not be a standard length of time, you have to look it up and see how long it is for each sign the Moon traverses. The void-of-course happens every two to three days depending upon the placement of the other planets and the speed of the moon (which varies from less than 12 to more than 15 degrees a day). While the Moon is Void-of-course, it is making no aspects in that sign and so it is "off the clock". This is the cosmic relaxation time, when it is best to kick back, relax, hang out, have a party, read a book, do those household chores and generally just wait until the Moon changes signs. It is not the time to do anything which would have tangible results. Don't do a working which tries to effect tangible change (love, money, job, consecration, protection, etc. spells). Especially don't sign a contract, make a commitment (unless you don't intend to keep it), buy anything major or long lasting (groceries are OK but expect to forget something). It's a good time to try divination (though you may be more in the ozone so judge results accordingly). Meditation is enhanced, any inner work or dream work might be more fruitful, but again be wary of results and check them later, once the Moon is no longer void.
Eclipses are special New and Full Moons. There are generally four eclipses a year, though there can be as few as two or as many as seven. An eclipse is a super New or Full Moon. Solar eclipses are at New Moons and Lunar eclipses are at Full Moons, and they generally occur in pairs, roughly six months apart. There is a lunar eclipse and about two weeks later a solar eclipse, or vice versa. An eclipse doesn't have to be visible to have an effect, though if it is visible where you live, even partially, (weather notwithstanding) the effect will be much greater. Eclipses are times of great change. A Solar eclipse is a chance for a fresh start, things are different and new; unexpected elements are present which can upset the apple cart or bring new opportunity and change into your life. Some people embrace change and welcome it, others would rather life stayed the same. A Lunar eclipse can cause emotions to run high. It can make people more loony. It can shed light on things which were previously taken for granted. It can be a culmination of events or activities.
The almanacs will tell you when eclipses occur and in which zodiac signs. If you have a planet in the same sign as the eclipse, you will probably be more effected by that eclipse. If the eclipse occurs within three days of your birthday, expect a wild and crazy year. Use the eclipses as times to break out of the mold, try new and different things, be a little spontaneous. Stay away from things which need to be tightly controlled or must be precise and exacting, for those energies are not easily worked with during eclipses. Three days before and after the eclipse is said to be "in the shadow of the eclipse". Those days are the most chaotic and crazy. If the eclipse contacts a point or planet in your natal chart, expect the effect of the eclipse to last for one to three months after a lunar eclipse and six to twelve months after a solar eclipse. Sometimes the strangeness starts a week or month before the eclipse itself, sort of a precursor wave. This doesn't mean that the entire time will be chaotic and crazy, but that there will be periods of craziness during the time span, and life will generally be more unsettled and random factors will keep popping up during the time period.
Using these few simple techniques can put you more in touch with the cosmic energies and enhance your magical and everyday life.
©1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2019 Estelle Daniels, all rights reserved.