The different Moon Phases and their correspondences
Esbats, similar to Sabbats, are celebrations of the different phases of the Moon. The same way the Witch follows the Seasons and the Solar Circle, the Witch follows and honours the Circle of the Moon. Moving with the Circle of the Moon attunes us with the circles of Nature and allow us to understand at a deeper level what harmony and balance is all about. With the above in mind, let’s have a look at the 5 different Esbats which correspond to each Moon phase.
New Moon: This is the time when the Moon first appears into the sky after a Dark Moon. It is the time of regeneration and new beginnings. All construction Magic that has to do with setting new goals, honouring our aspirations and beginning new ventures is favoured. During the waning phase, we have cleared and removed anything that is unnecessary and no longer required in our lives, during the New Moon we summon everything that we want to fill that gap: new love, new friendships, new skills, new job, prosperity and abundance, you name it!
In modern witchcraft, the aspect of the Goddess that has been associated with the new Moon is the Maiden in her young child aspect. An example of the Goddesses associated with the New Moon are Demeter and Persephone. Persephone as the Maiden is summoned with her Mother Demeter to bless the seeds of all new beginnings. As the seeds are planted all things grow! Another example is Diana and Aradia in her Mother and Maiden aspects, Diana comes with her daughter Aradia to teach us the mysteries of magic and the ways we can become more adept in our Craft. It is the time we need to remember our childhood and our dreams, everything we wanted to achieve in life. Seeing the world from the perspective of the Divine Child within, helps us get a better orientation in life and attain a more worry-free attitude. When we are certain about ourselves and our dreams, everything is possible and the less stressed we are about it, the easier we can move towards it.
First Quarter: This is the time of the first quarter of the Moon occurring approximately seven days after the New Moon. During this Lunar phase, as the Moon grows all construction magic is benefited, especially to empower any previous magical work that the outcome has not become apparent and sustain and deepen our understanding of Magic. It is the time where the seeds we planted during the New Moon are growing and all Witches as gardeners of the Divine Garden need to maintain. Spellwork to bring courage, determination, motivation and manifestation in our lives is encouraged. In addition, spells related to gaining clarity and strengthening protection are also benefited.
The aspect of the Goddess which is associated with the First Quarter is the Maiden. The Maiden as a term does not refer to a sexless woman but instead refers to the Goddess without a partner or who has not given birth. As an example, the following Goddesses are associated with the New Moon: Artemis (Diana), Athena (Minerva), Hestia (Vesta) and Brigid. As the Goddess grows, from a child to a Maiden, everything else grows as well. This is a magical and alchemical transformation that happens from our experiences in life. During this Moon cycle, we have set sail to new unexplored lands during the New Moon, the First Quarter is the time to look at our compass to see if we are heading well, gain courage, become motivated and remain assured that all is well despite the obstacles and the challenges. As the Moon grows, so we are growing along.
Full Moon: This is the time when the Moon shines with all its glory and this is considered a very important Esbat. The ‘Witching Hour’usually refers to the Midnight hour during a Full Moon which was always regarded as a particular potent time for Magic, as the Moon is not Waxing nor Waning and midnight is considered the time between the Days- in between time in between worlds. During the Full Moon time all magic work is empowered, all magical work is fertile.
All Goddesses can be invoked during the Full Moon however, the Mother aspect of the Goddess was more associated with the Full Moon. The Sacred Woman who has given birth or is carrying a child, the Woman that holds all potentials, the Mother that has given birth to all things is honoured and celebrated. A few examples of Goddesses associated with the Full Moon in their Mother aspects: Selene (Luna), Demeter (Ceres), Aphrodite (Venus), Hera (Juno), Isis,Toci, Freya, Aradia, Pachamama, Mama Killa, Oya, Yemaya. Please note that these Goddesses are some examples and the list is definitely not exhaustive. During the Full Moon, the full potential of the Witch is unveiled. Everything that we have asked for will manifest, everything that we want will become reality. It is the time, to honour the fertility and abundance in Ourselves and the Universe. It is the time to see the Goddess in Ourselves and Everything that is. It is the time we are all reminded that the Universe will provide and the interconnection between all things is celebrated.
Third Quarter: The time of the Third Quarter is the waning phase of the Moon occurring approximately 7 days after the Full Moon. This is the time for introspection and to wind down, to reflect and learn from previous experiences. It is also the time to prepare to leave anything unnecessary behind. Divination, meditation on previous experiences, contact and guidance from the Spirit World are only some practices associated with the Third Quarter. The Third Quarter is the time of the harvest, the time to distinguish between the things that nourish us and the things they don’t. It is the time to leave anything unnecessary behind and create room for growth in our life for new things to come.
The Third Quarter is corresponded to the Crone. By the term Crone, I am referring to the post-menopausal woman that has gathered valuable experiences in life, that has already been the Maiden and the Mother (even though childbirth may have not occurred). It is the time where wisdom shines. Some examples of Goddesses are: Hecate, Cerridwen, Baubo, Badb, Morrigan, Elli. During the third Quarter, Witches are celebrating Wisdom. Attaining wisdom is not always regarded as easy and by attuning to the energies of the Third Quarter and the Crone aspect can help us learn and understand at a more profound level the essence of this process. Anything that is good for us is greatly empowered and nourished, anything unnecessary should go as it hinders our progress. Of course, this demands a great deal of good judgement, self-knowledge and understanding which is exactly what the process of Wisdom requires, and many of us will become resistant or avoidant during this phase. I would like to remind all witches the following three words, which can help you a lot on selecting the aspects of your life that you need to declutter: “What resists, persists.”. The less resistant we are, letting go of the things that no longer nurture us, the less stressful this process would be and the benefits will be multiple.
Dark Moon: The time of the Dark Moon is the time where the Moon does not appear in the sky. The Dark Moon lasts between 2-3.5 days and in the middle of that time period the New Moon appears. The Dark Moon symbolises endings and the promise of new beginnings. This is the perfect time for banishing, exorcism and leaving back the unnecessary, for introspection and past-life regression. In astrology, this period is referring to as the Balsamic Moon. I am sure that many of you are going to remember the famous vinegar, however, in Greek the world ‘Balsamo’ (pronounced val-sa-mo) means cure and the ease of all pain.
The Dark Moon is usually corresponding to the Goddess as the Crone, however, more to her aspect as the Ruler of the Underworld. She represents Death which is necessary for new Life to begin. Examples of Goddesses associated with the Dark Moon are Hecate, Kali, Santa Muerte, Cerridwen, Persephone, Morrigan. During the third Quarter, we have acquired clarity and the wisdom of what is no longer required in our lives, we have started the process of letting go of all the unnecessary things. This process has its peak during the Dark Moon, where all Witches are honouring the things that are no longer wanted, the things that are no longer required as they have taught us a great deal on how to move forward, on how to be the persons we want to be. We have looked at these aspects of ourselves that we do not want to nurture anymore, an act of wisdom and courage, and we move forward by honouring them for what they have taught us. We return them to the Earth for them to be decomposed, to transform and become the fertile ground that all new things are going to come from.
Finally, many Witches and authors of Witchcraft are focusing on the 4 aspects of the Moon: New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon and Third Quarter, merging the attributes of the Dark Moon with the rituals held during the Third Quarter and the New Moon. However, from my life experience the Dark Moon has gained its honourable place amongst them. I leave it to the personal needs of each one of you to decide on when and how you wish to celebrate the Moon Circle. Again, I would like to emphasise that the Deity names provided above are suggestions and the list is definitely not exhaustive. You are always encouraged to do your own research and adapt as necessary to suit your needs.
Other information on the Moon Cycle
What is a Blue Moon?
A Blue Moon is the rare occurrence of a second Full Moon in one calendar month. This phenomenon happens infrequently and hence the expression ‘Once in a Blue Moon’. Blue Moons in Witchcraft and Spellcrafting are considered extremely potent days for all kind of magic work.
Spellcasting during Lunar Eclipses
In general, spellcasting during Lunar Eclipses is not recommended, as the energies of the day can easily run loose.