The Lunar Months


WOLF MOON  
The fearsome nocturnal animal represents the "night" of the year.  Wolves were rarely seen in England after the 12th century.

     To each Lunar month the ancients assigned a name in accordance with the nature of the activity that took place at that time. The Moon of deepest Winter is the Wolf Moon, and its name recalls a time when our ancestors gathered close around the hearth fire as the silence of the falling snow was pierced by the howling of wolves. Driven by hunger, wolves came closer to villages than at any other time of the year, and may have occasionally killed a human being in order to survive. The wolf in northern countries was at one time so feared that it became the image of Fenris, the creature of destruction that supposedly will devour the world at the end of time. The Christian version of the myth would leave it at that, but the myth continues. Like the wolf in the fairy tale of Little Red Ridinghood, which preserves the full idea of the myth but is used only to frighten children, the wolf is slain; and the grandmother, like the world, is brought forth once more. As the light of the new-born year slowly increases and the Wolf Moon waxes full, it is a good time to look back upon that which has just ended and learn from our experiences. Bid the past farewell and let it go in order to receive the year that has just been born. Learning to let go of that which we would cling to is one of the greatest secrets of magick. 

STORM MOON 
A storm is said to rage most fiercely just before it ends, and the year usually follows suit.

     The Moon following the Wolf Moon is the Storm Moon. Whether you meet with a coven on the night of the Full Moon, salute Her in a solitary ritual, or simply blow Her a kiss, bear in mind the magick of this night and the nature of the storms of February. Unlike the boisterous storms of the light half of the year, which are accompanied by the clashing of thunder and the flinging of lightning bolts, the storms of February come in silence. They blanket the world in coldness in keeping with the nature of the dark half of the Wheel of the Year. But beneath the blanket of cold and silent snow, Nature rests, as we do when in the realm of the Spirit that is called death; and like those in the world of Spirit, Nature prepares for life anew. 

CHASTE MOON or SEED MOON 
The Antiquated word for pure reflects the custom of greeting the new year with a clear soul.

     The Moon following the Storm Moon is the Chaste Moon. Like Diana, chaste Goddess of the Moon, all of Nature at this moment is pure potential waiting to be fulfilled. The Goddess has many forms: The maiden pure and lovely as the snow of February, the seductive enchantress of the night, or the Crone ancient and wise. As the Goddess can change Her form according to the Moon or according to Her will, ever renewing Herself, ever beginning again, se can we, Her children, always begin again by discovering new potential within ourselves. When you cast the Circle of the Chaste Moon, when the candles have been lit and the incense burned, look deep within yourself to discover what potential lies there waiting, like the Maiden, to be fulfilled. As it is the time for the planting of seeds on the material plane, so may it be time to do so on the psychic planes as well. On the night that the Seed Moon (another name for the Chaste Moon) of March is full, cast your magick Circle. Then before the rite has ended, select the spiritual seeds you would like to plant. They may be seeds of wisdom, seeds of understanding, or seeds of certain magickal skills. Then by an act of will, plant these seeds in the fertile soil of your subconscious mind with the firm commitment that they will be nurtured and cultivated in the months that lie ahead, so that they will grow and flower and bear fruit. 

HARE MOON 
The sacred animal was associated in Roman legends with springtime and fertility.

     As the Hare Moon of April waxes full, observe the rabbits leaping and playing, carefree in their mating and joyful in their games, and as you cast your Esbat Circle and joyfully dance the round, feel within your heart the carefree nature of the wild creatures that are also children of the Old Gods. 

DYAD MOON 
The Latin word for a pair refers to the twin stars of the constellation Castor and pollux. 

     This time of the Sacred Marriage of the God and Goddess is the Dyad Moon, the time when the two become one, when all things meet their opposites in perfect balance and in perfect harmony. As you cast your Circle this night of the Dyad Moon, adorn it with apple blossoms, and light candles of white. When the sacred round has been danced, sit a moment and reflect. Seek harmony in all things. As the dark half of the Wheel of the Year balances the light, as heat balances cold, recall the words of the Goddess, "Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence, within you." And then before the rite is ended, if it is appropriate, become one with your working partner, physically as well as spiritually. 

MEAD MOON 
During late June and most of July the meadows, or meads, were mowed for hay.

      After the spectacular flowers of May have passed and the bees have gathered their pollen and nectar, the hives are filled with honey that is waiting to be gathered. In ancient times much of this honey was made into a drink called mead by a fermentation process similar to that of making wine. The "Moon in June" is the Mead Moon. Mead has been considered to have magickal and even life-restoring properties in many of the countries of ancient Europe, and it was the drink of many of the great heroes of legend. 
     The legendary figure Robin Hood, who is accepted historically as being a composite of several peasant leaders during the reign of King Richard I, is also generally accepted by Pagans as being one of us. One reason is that Robin was a popular Witch name, and also because he was always described as being dressed in green, symbolic of the Green Man of Sherwood Forest. Lincoln green, which is made from woad, the dyestuff used by the Picts of ancient Britain and the Druid priestesses, is also a color that symbolizes, historically, the Pagan peasantry. Among the articles robbed from the rich by Robin Hood are "met and met." This probably means "meat and mead." In the myth of Odin, one of His quests is for the Poetic Mead of Inspiration, which He returns to the realm of the Gods where it belongs, but a few drops fall to Earth, and this may be had by anyone who can find them. On the night that the Mead Moon waxes full, after the Circle has been cast and dancing done, fill the cup with mead (if it is available), sweet wine, or an herb tea sweetened with honey. Sip the sweet drink and sit quietly and make yourself a vessel ready to receive the inspiration of the higher realms. Become a mead cup ready to be filled, not with the brew of everyday life but with the clear, bright liquid of illumination. Every time this ritual is performed, even if there are no immediate results, you are becoming a more perfect vessel for divine inspiration. If the night of the Mead Moon is very close to the Summer Solstice, the results of this exercise can be very powerful. If the Mead Moon is full on Midsummer Night, then the priestess into whom the Moon is Drawn should be prepared. 

WORT MOON 
When the sun was high, the worts (from the Anglo-Saxon wyrt plant) were gathered to be dried and stored. 

     As the Wort Moon of July waxes full, this is the time for gathering of herbs. The word wort is old Anglo-Saxon for "herb." When the magickal herbs have been gathered and hung to dry, the time of the Wort Moon is the time to give thanks to the spirits who dwell in the herb garden, and to leave them an offering. Perhaps as you place an offering in the moonlit garden, they will whisper to you other secrets of herbal magick. 

BARLEY MOON 
Persephone, virgin goddess of rebirth, carries a sheaf of barley as a symbol of the harvest.

     One day at mid-month we realize that the robins and wrens that were nesting nearby have simply vanished. Their lovely songs have been replaced by the shrill calls of the bluejays, who were so silent during the nesting season. As August progresses the days are still hot but nighttime temperatures are beginning to cool, and the late afternoon thunderstorms that bring the cooler air also bring about the ripening of tomatoes. In the fields and meadows and along roadside snow there are wild herbs to be gathered. There are goldenrod, Queen Anne's lace, and milkweed - all awaiting the natural dyer who can extract from them tan, green, and bright yellow respectively, for dyes and for natural inks for talismans. Among the medicinal herbs to be collected at this time is boneset, which does not help broken bones to heal but is a febrifuge that was used as a remedy for "Breakbone Fever" in the 1840s. Milkweed pods with their silken fluff, goldenrod, and wild grasses and grains gathered now will be dried in time to adorn the altar at the Autumnal Equinox. As the aromatic herbs begin to fill the rafters in the dry heat of the attic, and the braids of onions and garlic fill the cool darkness of the root cellar, the golden grain and yellow corn ripen in the fields under the waning August Sun.
     To the Ancients this was the Barley Moon, a time to contemplate the eternalness of life. Just as we are descended from the first woman and the first man, who descended from the Gods, so is the grain of the bread that we eat descended from the first grain ever gathered. By ritually eating the Lammas bread we are participating in a chain of events that stretches back through time to the Gods themselves. And here before us in the ripening fields is the promise of the future. Everywhere there is abundance in the herb garden, the vegetable garden, the field, and the orchard. The pantry shelves are lined with glistening glass jars that are filled with colorful fruits and vegetables preserved for Winter days; quarts of red tomatoes, cucumbers in slices or spears, dark red beets with cloves and cinnamon sticks, the yellow of corn, the orange of carrots - a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. The house is filled with delightful aromas as pickling spices are added to crocks of brine and exotic chutneys simmer on the stove. But the time of abundance is drawing to a close. The fireflies of June and July have given way to katydids, whose scratchy calls to one another fill the evening air of August with the promise of frost in six weeks.

HARVEST MOON or WINE MOON  
The moon nearest the Autumnal Equinox brings a feast from the yearly harvest to the table.

     Since wine was, and is, such a sacred fluid, the Pagans of old naturally named this Lunar month the Wine Moon. As you celebrate the night of the Full Wine Moon and dance the magickal round in the moonlit Circle, pour some white wine in a silver cup. Before the rite is ended, if possible, catch Her reflection in the liquid, then take a sip. As the Moon-blessed wine casts its inner glow, sit quietly and feel your own spirit, of which the wine is a symbol. As the body is stilled and the spirit soars, feel on this night of magick a sense of the kind of transformation that takes place during true spiritual initiation. Today the term Harvest Moon is applied to the Full Moon nearest to the Autumnal Equinox. This is because, it is said, in other times when harvesting was done by hand, as the days grew shorter farmers were able to work into the night in the brightness of Her light. 

BLOOD MOON 
Marking the season when domestic animals were sacrificed for winter provisions.

     At this time of year the abundance of fruit and vegetables begins to slow. It is a time when our ancient ancestors gathered what they could store and then supplemented their Winter diets either by hunting wild animals or by slaughtering domestic ones. So this Lunar month is called the Blood Moon. As you cast the Esbat Circle on this moonlit Autumn night and fill the cup with blood-red wine, know that you will be joined in the sacred dance not only by the unseen presence of departed friends and family so close at this time of year, but also by the spirits of animals as well, perhaps of those that have died so that we may have food. In this age of assembly line slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants, it is especially appropriate that on this night of the Blood Moon we who are on the Pagan path ritually ask the understanding of our animal sisters and brothers, bless them, and bid them merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again. 

SNOW MOON 
Time heralds the dark season when the Sun is at its lowest and the first snow flies.

     As the Winter Sun wanes and the Snow Moon waxes full, cast your Circle in the warm glow of candlelight. Salute the Moon in Her snowy whiteness and breathe in the coolness of Her light. Become as still as this Winter night, and know that the activity of the warm light months is behind us. Ahead are the dark months of the year. The Spirit is most active when the body is most still. 

OAK MOON
The sacred tree of the Druids and the Roman god Jupiter is most noble as it withstands winter's blasts.

     The Full Moon nearest the Winter Solstice is the Oak Moon, the Moon of the newborn year, the Divine Child. Like the Divine Child who is born to die and dies to be reborn anew, the ancient Oak has its trunk and branches in the material world of the living, while its roots, the branches in reverse, reach deep into the Underworld, symbolic land of the Spirit. As the roots probe downward into the grave-like darkness of the Earth, its branches grow ever upward toward the light, to be crowned by sacred Mistletoe. At this most magickal time of the year, as the light of the old dying year wanes and the Oak Moon waxes to full, cast your Circle wearing Mistletoe in your hair. Let this token remind you that like the Oak, we too dwell simultaneously in two worlds - the world of physical matter and the world of Spirit. As you invoke the Goddess of the Moon, ask that you become ever more aware of the other side of reality and the unseen forces and beings that are always among us. 


 

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