Through much research and experimentation, I have found that the lunar cycles provide further information which can become a starting point for guidance, insight, meditation, and reconnection with the feminine principle.
Many women exploring spiritual paths today have turned to the "old religions" of prehistoric times in which the feminine principle of Universal Energy was revered over the masculine. In these traditions, they find the positive role models, certainly lacking in modern religious practice in the West, and often in New Age teaching also.
By studying the ancient Goddesses, women can reconnect with the archetypes of maiden, lover, mother, healer, empress, teacher, priestess, wise-woman, harvester, and many others. The New Age cliche is, "Seek the God within," but it is often more useful, spiritually, for a woman to "Seek the Goddess within" instead.
Traditionally, the lunar cycles had specific seasonal and Goddess affiliations and associations. One could say that they have very different "personalities." Since working up this information many years ago, I have found that the personalities of the different Moon cycles definitely impact on the emotional, mental, and spiritual "weather" of that period in a similar way that astrological aspects do.
Because my soul's history is mainly European and Celtic, I have emphasized the Goddess energies from these traditions in the following discussion. I'm hoping that, in sharing my work, others will look to their own histories and develop their own way to work with the lunar energies. Those with backgrounds in Egyptian, Indian, African, Asian or Native American traditions may wish to substitute different Goddesses with similar seasonal affiliations in place of the ones I chose. In any event, the game is to tune in and sense which Goddesses personally speak to you at various times during the year and then use those times to get to know them (and yourself) better!
So, how does this system work? The old European traditions placed great importance on the Summer and Winter Solstices and the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes. Of equal importance were the "cross-quarter" days, which marked the halfway points between the solstices and equinoxes. In the European tradition, all of these events had festivals celebrating certain Goddesses:
Thus, every year will contain Moons for these Goddesses. However, because the lunar cycles are erratic, there will be years where other Goddess energies come into play. You'll see that, in the discussion following this introduction, I work with the energies of sixteen Goddesses to account for the variations of the Moon's movement in any given year.
To chart out a year, and assign a Goddess to each lunar period, you start with the main seasonal events. Look on a calendar that shows when the Moon is New or check an ephemeris. Find the first event of the year, which is February 2, Candlemas. Keeping in mind that the lunar cycle runs from New Moon to New Moon, the Moon of Brigid is the cycle that contains Candlemas. In 2010, this lunar cycle runs from January 15th to February 13th. Next, find the lunar cycle that contains the Spring Equinox (approx March 22). This will be the Moon of Persephone. In 2010, it runs from March 15th to April 13th.
You will note that there is an additional lunar cycle between Brigid and Persephone. In 2010 it runs from February 14th to March 14th. When a cycle opens up at this time of the year, I call it the Moon of Morrigan. However, in 2009, Brigid and Persephone ran back-to-back and Morrigan did not occur.
Thus, every year has different lunar energies coming into play, depending on how the cycles fall. This is what I find so interesting to watch and experiment with. There are many ways to use this information. For example, as an astrologer, I've noticed that most of my friends were born during the Moon of Morrigan. Statistically, this should not be, because this Moon period does not occur every year, but there it is.
The following discussion is the result of compiling information from many sources, but I am most heavily indebted to Robert Graves' The White Goddess (Farrar, Straus & Giroux: New York, 1948). This book is a must for anyone looking to delve deeper into the European Goddess traditions. I've listed the times that the Moons fall for this year to help you get the hang of working with this. Anyway, it's a lot easier to do than to explain! The discussion explains the traditional associations with that particular Goddess, and I've also added my own observations in some cases.
MOON OF CERRIDWEN
not in 2010
White Goddess of Life-in-Death and Death-in-Life. White Lady of Death and Inspiration. Barley Goddess. Combination of wen (white) and crdd (gain, inspired). Owner of the "witches" cauldron of inspiration. Many animal forms: white cat, mare, sow, wolf. Can be traced to Albina, "The White Goddess," the eldest of the Danaids, of whom Britain derives its earliest name, Albion. She can be traced further back to have been the Danaan Barley Goddess of Argos, and thus to Anu. Affiliation with the letter B, beth, BIRCH, which dispels evil spirits. It is the first tree to put out new leaves in spring. SUNDAY, SUN.
There is no real seasonal affiliation with Cerri at this time of the year (in fact, she is a Mother/Harvest Goddess like Demeter), but I had this open space here, and since she's one of my favorite Goddesses, I thought I'd place her in this position of "honor" at the beginning of the year. The years in which Cerridwen is the first lunar cycle do not occur often. These years seem to be a little more intense than others. This is always an interesting cycle when it occurs; lots of work and growth opportunities.
MOON OF BRIGID
Festival of Candlemas (Feb 1-2)
Triple Goddess of Poetry, Healing, Smithcraft. The Virgin as Muse. Bride of the White Hills. Her symbol is the white swan. She is connected to Anu as Brigid is considered to be the "daughter" of The Dagda, usurper of Anu's place as the deity of the Tuatha de Danaan, one of the most ancient peoples in Northern Europe. Affiliation with the letter L, luis, ROWAN, MOUNTAIN ASH and QUICKEN. Rowan was considered sacred to Brigid, and was used by the Druids to compel demons to answer questions, as well as for divination and oracular use. Candlemas was considered the "quickening of the year," Feile Brighde, the first of the great Irish fire feasts. I've noticed that spring comes sooner when this Moon, the "quickening of the year," occurs early in the year.
MOON OF MORRIGAN
Goddess of the Sea. Great Queen of Fate. Morrigan was capable of assuming the form of a raven, and was often invoked during battle to bring death to the enemy. Like other New Moon Goddesses, she is associated with the sometimes uncomfortable, unpredictable and frightening aspects of feminine energy. She was the basis for Morgan le Faye, the Goddess who conveyed King Arthur's body across the sea to Avalon at his death, and Mary Magdalene. She is affiliated with the letter N, nion, ASH. The ash is sacred to Posidion, god of the sea. It is considered the tree of sea-power, and the power resident in water. This Moon usually occurs in March, the month of floods.
MOON OF PERSEPHONE
Spring Equinox (Mar 20, 2010)
Daughter of Demeter. Queen of Hades. Goddess of Spring, Rebirth, Planting. The famous story goes as follows: Hades, God of the Underworld, fell in love with Persephone and kidnapped her. Her mother, Demeter, responsible for bountiful harvests and plenty, was so distraught she caused a blight upon the land and nothing would grow (winter). By the time Demeter discovered where Persephone was, she had already eaten six pomegranate seeds from the tree in the underworld. Because she had eaten the food of the dead, Persephone was only allowed to be reunited with her mother for six months of the year. When she returns to her mother, all the world rejoices and spring begins. Winter comes again when her mother sorrows for her at her return to Hades. Her affiliation is with the letter O, onn, GORSE and FURZE. Furze fires are lighted on hills in spring to make room for new growth. A compound of Onn and Nion supplies the date of her festival: the spring equinox at the close of the ash month.
MOON OF ANU
not in 2010
Fruitful Mother of Heaven. This is one of the most ancient names of The Goddess in Europe. As Danu, she was considered the mother of The Dagda, god of the Tuatha de Danaan, and occupier of the New Grange barrow. As Anna, which means "Goddess Mother," she was known in the Christian tradition as the mother of the Virgin Mary, and thus the grandmother of Jesus. She is affiliated with the letter F, fearn, ALDER. Bran, a later transmutation of Anu, is god of alder. He is connected to Cronus/Saturn, and is a raven or crow god. Bran is considered to be the occupier of the Avebury circle and the Silbury mound, the original "spiral castle" of Britain. He was supplanted by Belili in later times (Saturn by Jupiter). Alder is the tree of fairies, yielding three dyes: red, green and brown; and of resurrection, as it's buds are set in a spiral. SATURDAY, SATURN.
MOON OF BELILI
Festival of Beltane (May 1-2)
Sumerian White Goddess. Beli "white," bellus "beautiful," bile "sacred tree." Originally, every tree was hers, but above all she was known as a willow goddess, and also of wells, springs, love, and the underworld. She was the predecessor of Ishtar, and the sister/lover of Tammutz. She was later transmuted into Beli/Zeus/Jupiter, the "supreme god of light," who became known as the "father" to Arianrhod and all goddesses. Her shrine is Stonehenge. Sabian names: Bel, Jupiter, Oak; Beltis, Venus, Apple. Her affiliation is with the letter S, saille, the WILLOW; MONDAY, MOON.
MOON OF OLWEN
Daughter of Hawthorn. She of the White Track. May Queen. Olwen is the Welsh aspect of the Greek Aphrodite, and is thus a Love Goddess and an Apple Goddess. In some Welsh traditions she is also considered to be the twin sister of Merlin (Merddin). She is affiliated with the letter H, uath, HAWTHORN. This period is of the year is considered unlucky, and was seen as a time of purification and chastity until the Ides of June (15th). The hawthorn blossom has a female scent, and was an erotic symbol. The Joseph of Arimathea story, contained in the Arthurian mythologies and created by the monks at Glastonbury, was used to discourage the orgiastic use of the hawthorn blossom by the Flora cults by attempting to sanctify it.
MOON OF CARDEA
Summer Solstice (Jun 21, 2010)
The Two-faced Goddess of Hinges. Queen of the Circling Universe. "She who looks both back and forward." "Her power is to open what is shut; to shut what is open." She was the mother of Janus/Jupiter, the "stout guardian of the oak door" (of which Cardea is the hinge). The summer solstice is considered the "hinge on which the year swings." Cardea was in charge of the four cardinal winds, and she also rules "over the Celestial Hinge at the back of the North Wind around which the millstone of the Universe revolves." The midsummer fire was of oak, the tree of "thunder gods." The summer solstice was the time when the oak-king was sacrificed in the midsummer fire. Affiliated with the letter D, duir, or OAK; also with THURSDAY, and JUPITER.
MOON OF CYBELE
not in 2010
Lion and Bee Goddess of Phrygia. She is the queen bee about whom male drones swarm in midsummer. Her followers tolerated sodomy, and the ecstatic self- castration of her priests was similar to the emasculation of the drone, by the queen, in the nuptial act. She is affiliated with the letter U, ura, HEATHER, the midsummer tree, red and passionate. It is associated with mountains and bees, and sacred to the love aspect of The Goddess. White heather is the opposite, and protects against acts of passion.
MOON OF ARIANRHOD
Festival of Lammas (Aug 1-2)
"Silver Wheel." Arianrhod is an aspect of Cerridwen, and is keeper of Caer Arianrhod, the "spiral castle" of royal purgatory. She is mother of Llew Llaw Gyffes. Lammas commemorates the death of this Dionysus/Hercules. It is observed with mourning, and a feast for dead kinsfolk. It is connected with the Tailltean Games of Ireland, full of chariot races and swordplay. Tailltean marriages, in honor of Llew, lasted "a year and a day." Affiliated with the letter T, tinne, HOLLY; TUESDAY, MARS.
MOON OF MNEMOSYNE
Mother of the nine Muses. She was the Muse of Memory, of the past as well as the future, and of instinct and intuition. From her name comes the word mnemonic, "an aid to improve the memory." She is affiliated with the letter C, coll, the HAZEL tree. Her Moon falls during the nutting season. The nut is an emblem of concentrated wisdom. The hazelstick is used for divining. The letter C was used to represent the number nine, as the hazel fruits after nine years, therefore, it is sacred to the Muses and the Ninefold Goddess.
MOON OF DEMETER
Autumn Equinox (September 23, 2010)
Mother Goddess of Barley and the Harvest. Demeter was the Greek name for Cerridwen, thus she had the same animal connections, such as the Mare Goddess, Epona, a Sow Goddess, etc. She was known as Ceres to the Romans. Her earlier name, Danae, suggests a connection to Anu. She is affiliated with the letter M, muin, the VINE; also with the letter E, eadha, ASPEN, the shield-makers tree, and the tree of coffins.
MOON OF ARTEMIS
not in 2010
Moon Goddess of Childbirth. Maiden Goddess of the Hunt. Twin of Apollo. Her Moon usually falls in October, the season of the Bacchanal revels, in which intoxicated celebrants rushed about on the mountains, waving the silver fir-branches, sacred to Artemis, spirally wreathed with ivy, in honor of Dionysus. She is affiliated with the letter G, gort, the FLOWERING IVY; it is a yellow berried ivy, which grows in a spiral and symbolizes resurrection.
MOON OF HECATE
Festival of Samhain/All Soul's Day (Oct 31-Nov 1)
New Moon Goddess of Night and Death. The Nightmare. Queen of Elfin or Faerie. She contains the New Moon qualities of all Great Goddesses, and is thus The Black Screaming Hag: destroyer of children, castrator of men, etc. Affiliated with the letter I, idho, the YEW, the tree of witches.
One must remember that New Moon Goddesses, although sometimes frightening, represent the feminine principle that "destroys lies." The Indian Goddess Kali is well known for this. They represent the Plutonian energies in which, when the Goddess is through with you, there may be nothing left but ashes, but the phoenix of rebirth and new growth can now emerge unfettered by untruth and old, outgrown ideas.
MOON OF ATHENE
Androgynous Goddess of Wisdom. She can be traced to Anu/Anna, her name being "ath-enna." Her messenger, the owl, is most vocal on moonlit nights in November, and then remains silent until February. It is this habit, along with their silent flight, the carrion-smell of their nests, and the shining of their eyes in the dark, which makes owls messengers of The Goddess, from whom, as the supreme source of prophecy, they derive their reputation for wisdom. Affiliated with the letter NG, ngetal, the REED, the symbol of royalty. NG is the month when the wind "whistles dismally through the reed beds of the rivers." The reed is ready to cut in November.
MOON OF MARIAN
Winter Solstice (December 21, 2010)
The Yule Feast is a Saturnalia for the pastoral sacred king "Hercules" (Jesus). It commemorates the solstice sacrifice of the king by his twelve "merry" companions. Thus, there is a connection to the Robin Goodfellow (Robin Hood) tales. Marian was the earliest spelling, in English, of the mother of the Christian "king," and was one of the many forms of Mary-Goddess worship. Some of her other names are Mary Gypsy, Miriam, Mariamne, Myrrhine, Myrtea, Myrrha and Marina; also the merry-maid or "mermaid." Merry England became known as such because it was the country most engrossed with Mary-worship. She is affiliated with the ACORN, MISTLETOE, the rock-dove and the serpent.
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