by Gail Wood
Llewellyn Publications, 2001
Review by Daven
Well, this certainly lives up to it’s title. This is a book designed for all those out there who wish to explore the “darker” side of femininity.
While in and of itself, this is not a bad thing, there are any number of ways this could have been presented. Personally, I think the author did a wonderful job presenting it as she has.
For an overview, the book takes the Moon cycles of the New Moon (Dark Moon) and writes a series of rituals to perform to explore the Goddess aspect that she feels is associated with that moon. So, in the month of May, we have a ritual that can be done to get us closer to the Dark Aspect of the Gemini Moon. Working with the Goddess of that moon, The Twins who are the focus of Gemini, and other mythological aspects that are linked with that season’s moon.
I do appreciate that she makes Capricorn the last sign in the “Moon cycle” as she does, as I have always found Aquarius and Pisces to be too “young” feeling for my taste to be tacked on to the oldest part of the year. Also I appreciate that she took the elemental associations with these moons and made those obvious as well. The reader can get a genuine sense of how these associations and moons hang together in the greater scheme of things.
Ms. Wood also went to considerable trouble to find information on the different goddesses that should be looked at during these times, and clearly explains why she picked those goddesses. For instance, with the Dark Moon in Libra, she associates that with the Goddess Ma’at, the guardian of the dead who weighed the soul of the dead against an ostrich feather, perfect for a Libran Sign.
But that’s not all. She adds a ritual to the cycle that not many have, in my opinion. She adds a ritual to Arachne, the Dark Weaver, for the Blue Moon which only happens once every 2 and a half years. She states that this will take the cycle full circle and allow you to weave all the different rituals together into one complete whole.
On the negative side, this will take some considerable time to complete. I read the book in one sitting, but the rituals contained within would take a year or more to finish up. She suggests that you do the ritual on the day of the New Moon in the season suggested.
Also, this is very female oriented, as the title would imply. There are goddess associations all over and in the ritual itself, but the God is de-emphasized and shunted to another area. He is not dismissed because He is invoked in the ritual, but that’s the only time you hear about the God at all. This book is all about connecting to your inner woman and Goddess, rather than working specifically with a God and a Goddess. As such, men may find it hard to do any of these rituals.
Her rituals are complete, and focus more on guided meditations than anything else. For this alone, I find this book to be valuable, but there are several rituals that do not have a meditation that goes along with it, and I find that a shame. She does a good job on writing the meditations, and she states in the Introduction that the Goddess told her to write rituals in this book because rituals have been de-emphasized lately and we need to know how to do rituals.
In my personal opinion, some aspects of the ritual can be dispensed with, but that may be more my tradition and training in ritual than anything else. I see no need to summon the Watchtowers to the Circle unless one is going to be doing Magick. Although, I will admit that one could see transformative rituals as she lays out to be magickal.
I did like the artwork, although the symbol she uses to break thoughts apart does distract one into thinking that it is a stylized letter or letter set. Her bibliography is a complete one and mentioned many works that I know are out of print, hopefully this will demand they get back in print.
All in all, I enjoyed it. It is a good book, one that is valuable for those who need to feel more of a connection with the Goddess. I feel that it has little value to men as a whole, unless they are getting more of a connection to the Goddess themselves. It will be interesting to see if she comes up with a book for the Gods as well as this one.
This kind of book is one that I find needed in the body of knowledge of Wicca and paganism. There are hundreds of books that have rituals for Sabbats and the Wheel of the Year, but this is only the second book I’m familiar with that celebrates the Esbats in a logical way. For that reason alone I think this has a necessary place on any Wiccan’s shelf, but that is my thought on the matter.
For the information contained in this book, the rituals, the meditations, I give this book 3 1/2 stars out of 5. I would still be happy if there were either a companion book for the men, or somewhat more of a way to incorporate male mysteries and the God into what is laid out within.