Ah, the moon! It is our one natural satellite. About 4.5 billion years ago a body about the size of Mars collided with Earth, and the result of this collision was the formation of the moon. This is the most widely accepted scientific theory. If we did not have the moon, the Earth would be a very different place. We may thank this natural satellite for so many things. We have a relatively stable climate, the tides, lunar cycles, moonlight on many nights, and lunar mythology (stories with a kernel of truth in them). In the days of the dinosaurs the moon appeared larger than it does today. Why? It orbited closer to the Earth back then. The moon’s orbit around Earth is slowly growing larger by about an inch a year, so it is appearing to be smaller. The moon has a core, mantel and crust like the Earth does. It even has some mostly extinct volcanoes. The moon’s surface in the sun can get above the temperature of boiling water. That’s hot! The part of the moon’s surface that is in shadow can get to be as cold as -280 degrees Fahrenheit. The moon has a far side and a near side. From the vantage point of Earth we have only seen the near side due to locked rotation. The moon reflects the sun’s light and as such all the colors in the rainbow can be seen in a moonbow. But a moonbow is fainter than a rainbow made by the sun. The moon rocks that the astronauts collected during the Apollo program are still being studied. I wonder where our space program would be today if we did not have the moon as a destination? Before the first moon landing there was a lot of speculation that the moon was made of green (meaning fresh and not the color) cheese. Yes, I saw Neil Armstrong put the first boot print on the moon, which was very exciting.
I like to think of the moon as “she,” and so do a lot of other people these days. However, the moon was and still sometimes is also thought of as “he.” We know of an incredible number of moon goddesses such as Arianrhod, Artemis, Chang’e, Diana, Hecate, Ixchel, Luna, Selene and the moon gods Sinn and Men Parnakou. Along with these deities are many myths. For example there is the story of the Greek goddess Selene, who drove her moon chariot across the sky pulled by white oxen or horses. She fell in love with Endymion, and she shirked her responsibilities of driving her chariot, while she spent time with him. Zeus got angry and gave him a choice between death and eternal sleep. He chose sleep. Selene still visited him as much as she could and had fifty daughters by him. The Chinese goddess Chang’e stole the drug of immortality from her husband Hou Yi. She was chased by him and found refuge on the moon. A white rabbit was involved in the chase. A myth from Tanzania tells of how the Moon and Sun fell in love, and the Sun made the the Earth dry out. Then the Moon made it rain making the Earth fertile. Humans who were children of the Sun and the Moon were released on the Earth. The mythology about the moon is rich and diverse.
There is a lot one can do to celebrate the moon. Let us start with a moon garden. When I think of a moon garden, I think of the night. So what to grow in a moon garden? I like to think about flowers that bloom at night. Some examples are night blooming jasmine, evening primrose, moonflower, night blooming ceres, honeysuckle and gardenia. One might include certain herbs such as rosemary and thyme. White flowers catch the moonlight and I consider scent to be more important than color for flowers in a moon garden. The white flowers catching a glint of moonlight can be perfect. Now to talk about the tides and gardening. As we know the moon has a pull on water and that creates the tides. It also pulls on water in the soil, and it affects plant growth. It is best to plant different kinds of plants during certain moon phases. Plant annual flowers and plants that bear fruit during the waxing phase of the moon. Plant perennials, bulbs and below ground vegetables like carrots and beets when the moon is waning. I situated my moon garden where I could see the full moon rising in the east. I have added little solar powered garden lights for the moon garden.
Another thing I do to celebrate the moon is to find a place with low light pollution. I then get into the moonlight on a full moon and create moon shadows with my body. The shadows are the best when the moon is not overhead, but when it is a little lower in the sky. I like to dance while creating shadows. Dancing in the moonlight can be exhilarating. I may be wearing something like a robe or a cloak while doing this.
Simply observing the moon especially on an eclipse or a super moon is another way to celebrate the moon. It helps to have binoculars or a small telescope. The next super moon in 2023 is on August 31.
The Chinese celebrate the Lunar New Year beginning with the new moon in the beginning of the year. It ends with the full moon. This is a time for feasting, setting off fireworks and fire crackers. People wear red and decorate with red.
Some Native Americans have fire ceremonies during new moons and full moons. They make prayers at new moon. At full moon these prayers are released.
Indigenous people in Mexico do the Moon Dance. This is a four day period of dancing under the moon at night and resting during the day. It is a time for fasting (except for medicinal teas) and meditative dancing. It is a women’s dance. Women circle up in a shape like a uterus to dance. Women have various responsibilities like care for the pipes and the fire.
Enjoy celebrating the moon and create your own lunar traditions!
I will post more about the moon and magick next Wednesday.
Conway, D. J., Moon Magick, Llewellyn, 1995.
Demarco, Stacey, The Enchanted Moon, Rockpool Publishing, 2021.
O’Hara, Gwydion, Moonlore, Llewellyn, 1996.