Phases of the Moon
To become aware of the phases of the moon is to become aware of the Goddess as expressed in her three aspects of maiden, mother and crone. As Wiccans we seek to attune ourselves with both the Goddess and the God. Paying attention to the phases of the moon and meditating on the appropriate aspect of the Goddess is a powerful way to become more in tune with her. It is also appropriate to understand these phases and keep them in mind when working magic. Thus magic that deals with increase is best performed when the moon is waxing. Similarly the full moon is best for giving thanks and working magic aimed to reach our fullest potential. Finally the waning moon is best for removal of unwanted energies, learning of the great mysteries and seeing beyond the veil.
Simple put the three phases and what they represent are as follows:
Yet these three are ever one. This idea was well expressed in The Witches Goddess by Janet and Stewart Farrar:
Behold the Three-Formed Goddess;
She who is ever Three – Maid, Mother and Crone.
Yet is she ever One;
She in all women, and they all in her.
Look on these Three, who are One, with a fearless love,
That you, too, may be whole.
“Look on all Three who are One”. Meditate and understand each of the three aspects as the phases of the Goddess. In order to help you get in tune with these phases it is helpful to look at each of them in a little more detail. The rest of this lesson brings together the ideas about an aspect, some Goddess names that represent these ideas and a meditation to help you attune to that aspect. It is suggested that during the appropriate phase of the moon you look at what is presented here for that phase. Use the meditation as a starting point from which to create a meditation of your own.
Phase: Waxing Moon
Rules: Birth, initiation, virginity, beginnings, the hunt, springtime, youth
Goddesses: Artemis, Nimue, Eos, Renpet, Siduri
Color: White or silver
Meditation (from Spiral Dance):
Ground and center. Visualize a silver Crescent moon, curving to the right. ÊShe is the power of beginning, of growth and generation. She is wild and untamed, like ideas and plans before they are tempered by reality. She is the blank page, the unplowed field. Feel your own hidden possibilities and latent potentials; your power to begin and grow. See her as a silver-haired girl running freely through the forest under the slim moon. She is the Virgin, eternally unpenetrated, belonging to no one but herself. Call her name “Nimue!” and feel her power within you.
Phase: Full Moon
Rules: Growth, fulfillment, sexuality, maturation, nurturing, love, ripeness, teaching
Goddesses: Diana, Mari, Gaia, Juno, Isis, ÊLuna
Color: Red or green
Meditation (adapted from Spiral Dance):
Ground and center, and visualize a round full moon. She is the Mother, the power of fruition. She nourishes what the New Moon has begun. See her open arms, her full breast, her womb burgeoning with life. Feel your own power to nurture, to give, to make manifest what is possible. She is the sexual woman; her pleasure in union is the moving force that sustains all life. Yet she is also the protectress. Against anything that threatens those she loves, she is merciless and terrible. She is power. Her color is the red of blood, which is life. Call her name “Mari!” and feel your own power and ability to love and protect.
Phase: Waning Moon
Rules: Woman past menopause, old age, deep secrets, wisdom, divination, prophecy, compassion, death and rebirth, endings.
Goddesses: Hecate, Anna, and Persephone
Meditation (from Spiral Dance):
Ground and center. Visualize a waning crescent, curving to the left, surrounded by a black sky. She is the Old Woman, the Crone who has passed menopause, the power of ending, of death. All things must end to fulfil their beginnings. The grain that was planted must be cut down. The blank page must be destroyed, for the work to be written. Life feeds on death – death lead on to life, and in that knowledge lies wisdom. The Crone is the Wise Woman, infinitely old. Fell your own power to end, to lose as well as gain, to destroy what is stagnant and decayed. See the Crone cloaked in black under the waning moon; call her name “Anu!” and fell her power in your own death and rebirth.
Seasons of the Sun
Just as the Goddess can be understood by paying attention to the Phases of the moon, so can the God be recognized by paying attention to the seasons. It is for this reason that he plays such an important part in each Sabbat. In Wicca there are primarily two God-themes that are reflected in the Sabbats, that of the Sun-God figure and that of the Oak King and Holly King. The rest of this lesson will look at these two themes and also discuss the God in his aspect as the Horned One.
The Sun-God Theme
The Sun-God rules the sky during our hours of activity. His rising and setting effectively mark the time in which we can work because we need his light to see by. He is also the Sky Father whose light fertilizes the earth and the hostile sun that makes the desert barren. In Wicca we trace his life through the seasons.
At Yule, he is born as the embodiment of innocence and joy, of a childlike delight in all things. His is the triumph of the returning light. At Candlemas his growth is celebrated, as the days grow visibly longer. At Eastra or the Vernal Equinox, He is the green, flourishing youth who dances with the Goddess in her Maiden aspect. On Beltane, he is the young man who has fallen in love and takes the Goddess as his bride. Their marriage is celebrated with maypoles and bonfires. At Summer Soltices he consummates the marriage in a union that is so complete it becomes a death. He is named Summer-Crowned King instead of Winter-Born, and the crown is of roses: the bloom of culmination coupled with the stab of the thorn. He is mourned at Lammas, and at the Autumnal Equinox He sleeps in the womb of the Goddess, sailing over the sunless sea that is her womb. At Samhain, he arrives at the Land of Youth, the Shining Land in which the souls of the dead grow young again, as they wait to be reborn. He opens the gates that they may return and visit their loved ones, and rules in the Dreamworld as He too grows young, until at Yule He is again reborn.
The Oak King and Holly King Theme
The Oak King and Holly King are twin gods that represent the cycle of fertility. Each of them rules for half a year, fights for the favor of the Goddess and dies. Yet the defeated twin is not truly dead; he merely withdraws during the six months of his brother’s rule into Caer Arianrhod, the Castle of the ever-turning Silver Wheel.
The Oak King ,who is the light twin, rules from midwinter to midsummer. He represents expansion and growth. His tree, the oak, obviously symbolizes strength and longevity; its acorn is expressively phallic; and its roots are said to extend as far below ground as its branches do into the air – showing that the god has dominion over Heaven, Earth and the Underworld.
The Holly King, who is the dark twin, rules from midsummer to midwinter. He represents withdrawal and rest. His tree, the holly, has leaves that are evergreen and its bright berries glow red when all else is bare of fruit. Thus while his reign is one of withdrawal culminating in apparent lifelessness, his symbology reminds us all the time that he is his brother’s other self and holds life in trust while it rest.
The Horned God
The Horned God is a natural-fertility figure. He is Oak King and Holly King, the complementary twins seen as one complete entity. He is a vivid expression of the son/lover of Mother Earth – swift moving, wide roaming, concupiscent, ever free.
He is a hunter and yet he is respectfully killed to feed other creatures. And although he dies, he eternally reappears as strong and splendid as ever.
He is that which impregnates the earth, and shepherds and defends her creatures.
His is the true wisdom of cosmic and terrestrial law.
He is truly Lord of the Dance, for he represents the rhythms of life, growth, death and rebirth. But mostly he is the “Horned” God who reminds us that divinity and nature are not separate. His very appearance teaches us this by combining animal and human aspects.
Summary and Meditations
Aspect: Sun God, Sky Father
Represents: The cycle of life
Gods: Apollo, Helios, Lugh, Ra
Color: Gold or yellow
Meditation (adapted from Wicca A Guide For the Solitary Practitioner):
Upon rising in the morning, stand before the Sun and soak in Êit’s energies. Ground and center then think about the Sun God. Visualize Him as you wish keeping in mind what time of year it is. (For instance, if it is near Yule you might wish to visualize a child laughing in the sun.) Reach out with your feelings; open your awareness to higher things. Chant out one of his names, such as Lugh or Apollo (Ah-PALL-low). Call out to him with any words or sounds expressing your desire to attune with Him.
Aspect: Oak King
Represents: Growth, Expansion
Gods: Oak King, Jupiter, Janus, Dagda
Meditation (adapted from Eight Sabbats for Witches):
Ground and center. Image you see a grove of oaks. You enter the grove and a man appears amidst the trees. He looks a bit like Robin Hood – a handsome blond man dressed in green. His staff is of oak and he wears oak leaves in his hair. He steps out into the glade and sunlight lights up his face. He looks at you and speaks:
I am a stag of seven tines;
I am a wide flood on a plain;
I am a wind on the deep waters;
I am a hawk on a cliff;
I am fair among flowers;
I am a god who sets the head afire with smoke.
You feel his energy within you and know the part of yourself that is the Oak King. You now can stay with him a while learning from his ways. When you are ready you see him disappear back into the trees and you open your eyes.
Aspect: Holly King
Represents: Withdrawal, rest, lessons
Gods: Holly King, Saturn, Bran, Cronos
Meditation (adapted from Eight Sabbats for Witches):
Ground and center. Image you are walking in the snow. All around the trees are barren and no sign of life appears. As you are walking you spot a holly tree, its leaves still green and its fruit a bright red. A man walks out dressed in a cloak of fine ermine. His hair and beard are black and there is a twinkle in his eye. Power seems to pour out from him. He looks at you and speaks:
I am a battle-waging spear;
I am a salmon in the pool;
I am a hill of poetry;
I am a ruthless boar;
I am a threatening noise of the sea;
I am a wave of the sea;
Who but I knows the secrets of the unhewn dolmen?
You feel his energy within you and know the part of yourself that is the Holly King. You now can stay with him a while learning from his ways. When you are ready you see him disappear back into the trees and you open your eyes.
Aspect: Horned God
Represents: Untamed, fertility, the hunt, the sacrifice, divinity within nature
Gods: Horned God, Pan, Kernunnos (Care-NOON-nos), and Herne
Ground and center. You are walking at night with the moon guiding your way. The stars are so bright that you can see each of them. In the distance you can hear the cry of a wolf. Then all of the sudden the woods are filled with the sound of reed pipes. The music seems to call to you. As you follow your steps turning into dancing. As you dance you are drawn into the presence of the Horned One. Standing before him you are struck with awe. For here is the embodiment of the God; at once wild, sexual, and powerful while at the same time gentle, protective and caring. He starts to dance with you and the creatures of the wild arrive to add power to the dance. You continue dancing and you notice that he is looking at the moon with unmistakable love. As you finish the dance you feel your connection to him and just for a moment you become him. Then when the dance is over he is suddenly gone but in your mind are his teachings and in your heart is his song. You stay a moment to reflect on what has transpired and then open your eyes.