The weather this week—cool and rainy—disguises the strong upwelling of energy from the depths in a fog, hiding it from our sight and leaving us with a vaguely unsettled feeling of dread. It’s worth your time to push the fog away, and center yourself in the energy of change, balancing on the crest and riding that wave. So many things this week seem to be pointing us in a dangerous, scary direction. The Dark moon is the time to step back a pace and observe, allowing your heart to slow and your breathing to relax, and looking at what is. Look with the eyes of the Bull, slow and stolid, immensely powerful. As a beast of 2,000 pounds, you need fear nothing, and can make your judgements from a place of your comfort and ease.
You find yourself in a clearing in the woods. It is night, and the clear sky is washed with a spray of stars. You turn to face the East, noticing that the darkness at the wood’s edge is slowly changing. Within moments, the ruddy limb of the Full Moon breaks above the horizon, silhouetting the still-bare trees of early Spring.
Moment by moment, the Moon’s face is revealed. It is enormous—overwhelming. The high Moon of midnight seems small and manageable by comparison with this brooding hulk. It is red, stark, and powerful.
We all know the Full of the Moon to be a time of madness. Order breaks down, restraint is abandoned. Creatures of dark legend rise up to do unspeakable deeds. Our own inner demons feel the Moon’s tidal pull and we howl and dance—or cower in fear.
The sign of Scorpio is in play this night. The forces of sex and death, magnified by the Lunar lens rise in a shadow play against the wall of our consciousness. What is it that you hide from yourself? Does the thought of your fragile mortality hold you from following your dreams? Does the specter of unfulfilled desire choke your free expression? Now is the time to face this! The Moon, driven by the power of this moment, is poised to pull your darkness into the light, just as it pulls the tides of the oceans. Will you respond? Will you let your waters rise?
The magnetic pull, the rising force of the Moon draws you forward. As the the globe advances above the trees, you feel yourself pulled upward, lifting off of the ground and into the sky! Higher and higher you travel, and as your body is pulled, so are the depths of your soul. The creatures that have lived within your darkness for years find an opening in your heart and—release! That which has been hidden is now seen clearly, and the joy of this vision bursts within you. You are free, and it is a freedom of your own making. Every fiber of your being rejoices!
Slowly, the ecstasy of the moment subsides. You settle to earth once more, and begin the journey that will take you from this place of magick, back into the life you live day to day. But the days that follow will not be the same as the ones that came before; you have joined with the powers that live within. You have done your Work, and are transformed.
Listen to the audio version of this meditation:
For further reading: Full Moon in Scorpio: Beneath the Facade
As walkers on the Wiccan path, we are regularly challenged to change. We know well the words, “She changes everything she touches”, for the Goddess is the very embodiment of the concept of change, and Her power to change doesn’t leave a single thing in the Universe untouched. This, of course, includes you.
Imagine change in this way: A large stone sits on the side of a hill, and you are responsible for moving it. It’s fairly easy to see that moving the stone uphill is going to be much harder than moving it downhill. If the stone is embedded in the earth, this will increase the force needed to move it and if the earth is wet, it will be harder still. As you can see, the need to change is always surrounded by a variety of conditions that make the change easier or more difficult. A wise person takes care to learn the conditions they face when making a change, and modifies their plans in accordance.
This night, the forces around us are strongly influenced by the place of the Moon in the heavens. It is the Dark Moon, about to blossom into the New Moon; the waning phase ends and waxing begins. This, in itself, is a powerful aid to change. The phase of the Moon is but one piece of the puzzle, though. Where it sits within the wheel of stars, and how it interacts with the other planets is a big factor in the power of the Moon right now. It is in Aries, an active sign ruled by the planet Mars. It’s as if you’ve been given a lever to move that rock.
Knowing that you have a powerful force available for change makes it extremely important that you choose your actions carefully. Imagine sticking that lever under the rock and giving the heave-ho—only to watch it tumble down hill and crush your car! While we have the quiet of the Dark Moon to aid us, take this opportunity to delve deep within yourself and take an honest look at the patterns in your life that trip you up and hold you back time after time. It’s very difficult to face these—they lie within the shadow self and do their best to elude the light. If you find that you can’t root out these shadow traits at this moment, then use the force of the Aries Moon to seal the resolve to ask for help. This is difficult work, and is best done with the assistance of someone you trust.
If you are able to come face to face with a pattern that doesn’t serve you, or an aspect of your personality that you chose to shut down at some point in your past, now is a good time to use your magickal skills to craft a ritual or spell for a change in this pattern or a repair of the broken connection, charging this work with the Moon’s energy. The time to act is at hand. Don’t let it slip away.
For some excellent words on the astrology surrounding this Moon, please read Diotima Mantinea’s blog post, Don’t Go Back To Sleep: New Moon in Aries.
At your altar, you stare into a silvery bowl filled with water, shining by the light of the Full Moon. The surface shivers as you breathe upon it, and as the ripples still, the bowl expands to become a large, circular mirror.
Your reflection in the mirror is sharp and clear, allowing you to see every detail of who you are in your day-to-day self. Out of the corner of your eye, you catch a movement within the mirror, and then, another to the opposite side. Within moments, the spaces reflected beside you, above you and behind you are filled with a myriad beings of many shapes and sizes Some are the Shining Ones who inhabit the realms beyond our sight, realms that are truly but a hair’s breadth away from our own, did we but know it. Others are parts of you that you cannot see under ordinary circumstances, but with the aid of the mirror, and the Moon, they reveal themselves to you. The beings acknowledge you, and you them, and you all continue to gaze into the mirror.
The light of the Moon begins to dim. Within a brief span, its face is covered as if by a veil, the glow diminished to a dull blood orange. Oddly, though, you can see as clearly by this light as at the fullness—perhaps more so. The details of the eclipsed Moon are shown in sharp relief. That which was washed out by the glare of the Sun is now revealed.
Returning your gaze to yourself, you notice that you are now revealed by a similar light. You notice the damage that time has done, not merely to the surface self, but the one that lies beneath. The hurts that caused you to shut down first one part of yourself, then another and another. See them now revealed as motes of light, as doors that have opened to the strange light of the occluded Moon. These could well be fearful places, but this night, you are shown these wounds in a different way, one that causes the waters of your compassion to rise within you. Each one of us contains not only the wounds of the world, but the way of healing them, as well. And as we learn of the hurt places, we can open our hearts to them, and make them a part of us once more. More than this, we can act as gentle mirrors to help others find their hidden pain, and learn the path toward wholeness.
Now the veil begins to withdraw. Moment by moment, the Moonlight grows brighter. In this growing light, you can see not just the being you are, but the being you are becoming, the Shining One that lives within you. Nurture this flame, and remember always that you contain the seeds of a better future.
On opening the Holly Chalice for our Dark Moon visioning this night, I hear the moan and roar of the highway. As I shut my eyes, it follows me down to the Lake of Visioning like howling ghosts in the darkness. The water is illuminated by the setting Sun, now moving into eclipse as it conjuncts the Moon in the sign of Pisces. Boundaries collapse and our Shadows leap out towards us in the gathering darkness. Will we greet them as friends and allies, or run from them in a panic?
I can see that the lake edge has become a wide and endless track; cars, trucks, and motorcycles race around it in ever-faster circles, rushing to find the exit that will never appear. The water throws back dancing, flame-like light, and the frightened hoard drive onward. Faster, ever faster.
Pisces dissolves us, and we become one. The track of cars becomes a ribbon of golden light and darkness, encircling the shining black lake. Like a flow of lava, or the primal pulse of light and darkness. Fear, anger, and pain transform into a partnership of duality, and we write our stories from a place of power and hope. Here is the turning point; we can step through the frightening image into a world of our own making, a world powered by that which we had feared the most.
Take a breath, and the vision dissolves back into the flicker of candles as we return to our quiet home. The soft breath of sleeping dog and cats, and the bubbling of a pot on the stove holds the traffic at bay for a little while. Remember the vision of your own making, and hold it in your heart.
In mid-September of 2011, some members of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, plus a couple of friends, took a bus tour around Ireland. Our primary focus was to visit as many stone circles, dolmens, passage tombs, and other sacred sites from the ancient Celtic world as possible during our ten days. It was, for many of us, the trip of a lifetime, as well as wonderful time spent with good friends.
One evening, toward the end of our trip, we were treated to an extraordinary visit with author and storyteller Eddie Lenihan. I was fortunate to have a recording device with me, and recorded more than an hour of his stories. Here it is for your listening pleasure, and for the sake of the magick in this world.
Books by Eddie Lenihan:
In First Nations tradition, this moon was known as the Snow Moon, because the heaviest snows fell during the last part of winter, in February. Last month, in January, we referred to the Full Moon as the Snow Moon, as 28 inches fell over Faerewood and surrounding lands. This is another whisper of the transformation of our weather patterns, and the change of climate.
Change can be challenging and difficult, and this one certainly will be, for the rest of our lives.
Most of us would prefer to have more control over the changes that sweep us from year to year, even as we understand that this is not possible, and She changes everything She touches. Take in a breath, and let it go, and see yourself releasing the need to control every portion of your life. Releasing the fear of uncertainty, settling into a deeply rooted understanding of your place in the cosmos, and your work in this lifetime.
Take in a breath and let it out, following it inwards to your belly, and outwards to touch every part of your world. Take in another breath, and hold for a moment; see it moving into every part of you, and as you release the breath, release tension. Settle into your own rhythm of breathing, pausing, breathing again.
With eyes shut, you sense rather than see a cool curtain of sparkling mist create itself before you. In your mind’s eye, move forward until you feel the mist curtain sparking against your face, and step through it, to a bright and silent plain of grass, with a single mighty oak tree at the top of a slight rise, several hundred yards away.
You walk towards the tree on its hill, feeling the grasses swish against your legs, and the cool air move past your skin, without a sound. You can see that this plain stretches on for miles, but have no sense of the space – it could be painted on a sheet standing only a few yards off.
As you approach the small hill, you see the oak tree loom larger, and soon tower over you, like a 30 story building. Its trunk is wide, as wide as a street. As you begin to step up the small hill, you begin to see a shape on the trunk of the oak. Closer still, it becomes a door of heavy planks, set into the trunk. In the center of the door is a round ring; a handle by which you might pull the door open.
When you arrive at the base of the mighty oak, it is as if you are in a room indoors, you and the tree trunk. And the door, which you now see is painted green and gold, overlaid and darkened with age. You reach out and touch the handle ring – it is cold bronze, and touching it sends a shock like a spark through your whole body. You grab the ring and pull, and it does not yield. You turn it within the door, and it seems to move the door a little, and suddenly the door pops open, and you see the top of a darkened stairway leading downwards, into the hill. There is a torch in a holder, and you take it up, and begin to descend the cold stone stairs.
As you move deeper into the earth, your feet upon the stone steps are like a drumbeat echoing your heart. The air feels colder, and the echoes of your footfalls bounce forward and back, creating an odd melody. The torch in your hand illuminates just far enough ahead of you that you can move fairly quickly, without think too much about where you are going. Until that thought enters your mind, and you slow your steps, and stop, listening.
The silence is thick about you, broken only by the blood rushing in your ears and the occasional hiss of the torch in your hand. The stairway is silent, but you have a sense of how far you have come, and how far you have left to go, to reach the bottom. You begin to hear something from below; uncertain, you move a few steps forward, listening.
The faint sounds are accompanied by a breath of air, that carries a suggestion of decay, a whisper of rot. A few more steps, and you being to hear music from below, from instruments you do not recognize. You begin to descend again, not as quickly as before, but with purpose. The scent of the air changes as you move, from the redolence of decay to the sharpness of early spring growth. You notice the light is stronger, even as your torch gutters and fails.
Quite suddenly, you step out into a sunlight glade in early spring, naked trees rising on all sides, green herbs sprouting from the forest floor. You step forward into green growth, smelling the herbs crushed beneath your feet. You notice a plant with tiny leaves, and tinier white flowers like stars growing everywhere, and as your gaze lifts from the star-like flowers, a Maiden stands before you. She is young and comely, and armed with a bow and quiver on her back. But she is focused on the green plants, and both hands are full of plants plucked from the ground.
She holds them out to you, and you take them, and eat them. They taste like your first love, like the recognition of your power when you were young and the world was newly born. Your vision explodes as the room becomes huge and the walls move out of your sight. Quite suddenly, your world becomes endless and exciting, anything could happen at any moment! You come back to yourself a little, and see the Maiden smiling at you from the other side of the glade. She nods and turns to go. You start to follow, and pause: She is within you, and you can choose your own path.
You turn to retrace your steps to the stairs, and the oak tree is before you, it’s doorway open wide. Stepping through the door, you find yourself once again on the crest of a low hill in a grassland, but now it is drenched in sound and color and brilliant sunlight. Birds and insects are singing, plants are growing and you can hear them stretch and reach. A family of deer move by on their way to feed. You can see the roots of the grasses spreading through the soil, and the clouds winging past your hill. You close your eyes, and feel the abundance of the space around you. Eyes closed, you feel the caress of the sparkling mist on your face, and step through it to return home.
Breath in, and feel the power of the Springtide fill you, and enliven your very core. Feel your fingers itching to dig in the earth. Return to yourself.
As the Wolf Full Moon rises to its peak this evening, we are enjoying the drama of a blizzard outside our windows. (enjoying especially since the power is still on!) Our plans to visit with the Goddess Arianrhod in Her crystal castle this evening, in ritual, are put on hold for the time being, but She is still very near in my thoughts.
The Welsh myths that describe Arianrhod portray Her as cruel and deceptive. She was to have been the ceremonial virgin to serve Her uncle, the King Math ap Mathonwy, but was magickally impregnated (in theory) by Her brother Gwydion. She bore two sons but rejected them, placing three curses (geis) on one of them. Gwydion tricked Her into giving this son—Lleu Llaw Gyffes—his birthright name, weapons and a wife. I suspect that thousands of years of patriarchy have cast a pall over the original story—the idea of a wife being one’s birthright anchors this firmly into the category of male privilege.
What if we see the birthing of Arianrhod’s two magickal children as miraculous instead of shameful or deceitful—as we have seen in other myths? One child, Dylan, flew directly to the ocean, his home, a mystery in itself. The other, who would become Lleu, was stolen and imprisoned by Gwydion, who imprinted the creature with his own ideas of what a boy child should be. Upon seeing him, Arianrhod laid Her curses on the child, saying he would not pass his important milestones without Her help. The story tells that Gwydion tricked Her into providing that help twice, and used his own magick to create a wife for Lleu Llaw Gyffes.
In discussion with our Assembly Elder Michael Smith, I learn that Arianrhod is a Goddess of love and honesty, although it certainly doesn’t seem that way at first glance. From the myth, a virgin is portrayed as a woman who has not had intercourse with a man, rather than a woman who is Her own person and wields Her own power. Being required by King Math to “step over the magickian’s rod” (ahem), She is discovered to be pregnant, filled with Her own magick, and therefore not a blank slate, untouched, for the King’s purposes. Arianrhod does provide Her son with the gifts, but these are things that he already possesses; his true self (name) and his ability to use his own power (the weapons). Who can blame Her if She looks at the situation with anger and bitterness? Gwydion has taken Her magickal potential, and turned it into a creature under his own control.
To approach Her in Her castle requires the strength of Will to move past the forms and structures built by others for their own purposes, and arrive at the very Center of True North. If we approach this Goddess with the intention to understand Her more fully, we should start with the desire to understand what our own gifts and skills are, without any overlay of belief that has been applied to us by others. Ask Arianrhod to help you look at yourself with honesty, unflinching, and reveal your gifts to you from a place of truth.
And don’t be too surprised if this Full Moon in Leo turns this all into a huge production!
You are walking on a forest path on a moonless night. Above you is a vast field of stars broken by the naked branches of trees. The night is cold, and the taste of the air in your mouth is like a drink of cool sparkling water. You walk, not knowing your destination, knowing only that this is an important path, not on the journey of feet, but on the journey of soul.
After some time, the stars ahead are obscured by a bulk of darkness. As you draw closer, the dark shape looms high overhead. Your feet encounter rocks, and you nearly stumble several times. Go slowly—there is no hurry.
Within several more steps, you begin to feel a damp breath on your face, colder even than the night air. There is a smell of earth and other, more subtle odors. You shuffle forward and your hands touch rock, dank and slick with moisture. Hands before you, you feel your way into what seems to be a cave. The opening is wide, but soon begins to narrow and constrict in height, forcing you to stoop. The unknown lies ahead, but your will is strong. This alone carries you forward.
Ten, twenty, thirty halting steps, and suddenly the cave opens to a chamber whose size you can only guess from the echoes of your steps. You pause, and listen.
From some distance away, you hear footsteps, and rasping breath. Not daring to move, you wait. A shuffle, an echo, a cough. Then, in an instant, a voice from right in front of you, “Seeker, why have you come to this place?”
In the darkness, you can barely make out her form. Her eyes, level with your own, glow with an unearthly blue light, like that of the hottest part of a flame. You answer her question as best you can, but you really don’t know why. She stops you, saying, “This is the darkest night, the darkest Moon. This is my time, and I have drawn you here. I am the Crone, who stands at the crossroads between darkness and light. Come, we must walk.”
She takes you by the hand and leads you deeper into the cave. The darkness gathers around you until it is complete. Your world narrows to the sound of steps and breath, echoing from the cold rock. You must trust in the Ancient One who holds your hand in hers.
After some time, the path begins to narrow and descend. She leads you, your hands on her shoulders, down and down, as the way turns to an endless set of stairs, winding down into the Earth.
At last, the stairs end, and you are once more in a larger chamber. Dim light filters from an unknown source, and you see that the space is dominated by a dark pool of water. The Old One bids you to shed your clothing, then guides you gently to the edge of the pool. You slide into the water. It is not cold, as you expected, but heated to a warmth that soothes and relaxes you. You find that you can float completely immersed in this gentle place. You rest in its depths, without thought or care, for an endless time.
Presently, you feel the touch of a hand, and you are drawn upward into the chamber. You come to your feet, and the Crone stands before you with both of your hands in hers. Slowly, before your wondering eyes, she begins to change. Her dark and withered form becomes straighter, her aspect more youthful with every breath. What once was the most ancient of beings is now a radiant young woman, fair of hair and clothed in flowing white.
“I am the Maiden. With each turn of the Moon, I grow and mature into fullness, then wane again into my ancient self. You have come to me at the moment of my rebirth, and through this, have yourself been reborn. Know this wisdom: you contain within you the power to be reborn endlessly, if you would only realize it. Remember this moment, and carry it with you into your daily life. This is the gift of the Moon, blessed one.”
With that, she leads you once more, ascending now on stairs and path, retracing your journey. Her gentle radiance illuminates the way, and it seems your return to the surface takes no time at all. She stops, and touches you on the shoulder. You kneel, and receive her kiss on your brow, the place of your inner sight. You rise, and depart into the outer world.
Low in the sky, you see the slimmest crescent of light. It is the Old Moon in the New Moon’s arms. The Maiden has returned, bringing hope and light to the world.