Observing and celebrating the moon’s cycles has been a fixture of most of human existence until recent times. Numerous cultures created lunar calendars. For modern Wiccans, astrological magicians, new agers, ceremonial magicians, and many others the performing of new and full moon rituals has become commonplace. In this article, I will explain a little bit about the benefits of doing lunar rituals and issues related to doing Hellenistic-style lunar rituals, as well as provide links to a script and other resources for beginners to the practice.
The benefits of doing moon rituals at new moons and full moons are numerous. They are essential to almost any tradition as they are a form of time-keeping used in a number of calendar systems. Every twenty-nine days, the moon orbits the earth. The moon goes from its early phase of illumination, the waxing crescent moon, up to the full moon, when light is at its greatest. Then in the waning of the moon, the light decreases until the dark phase. The lunar phases are a natural cycle. As such, they are critical points for the timing of rituals. If day and night are an important cycle for rituals, the lunation cycle is equally important. Further, the moon was traditionally linked to birth, material things, life, growth, decay, and death. The lunation cycle also bears resemblance to the life cycle of a plant.1 Demetra George connects it to a “universal Lunar Mother” who “turned from new to full to dark, mirrored the progressive phases of the birth, growth, death, and renewal of all life forms.” She also says that “every living thing resonated to her instinctual rhythm of emergence, fulfillment, and completion.”2 The moon also came to symbolize the cycle of transformation and the way a thing could be changed into something else.3 In traditional astrology, the moon was associated with generation, motherhood, nature, darkness, cold, moisture, appearance, physicality, the body, changeableness, health, periodic, emotional cycles, women, children, voyages, traveling, and possessions.4 In Aristotliean cosmology, the sphere of the moon is the realm of the four elements and the innermost one. It is considered to be full of change and unpredictability.5 Because of the Moon’s proximity to human activity, the importance of its condition for something to happen, its role as a luminary, its importance for all living things and the various phases of the life cycle of an organism or thing, and the importance of its cycle.
Lunar rituals are a wonderful addition for any spiritual-minded person’s repertoire. They should be done in addition to daily planetary rituals and alongside other major events such as sign ingresses and heliacal risings of planets. An astrological mage or an independent ritualist might include new moon and full moon rituals or observances to planetary rituals, zodiac sign rituals, heliacal risings of planets and fixed stars, and Sun rituals at sunrise and sunset. A Hellenic reconstructionist or a Roman pagan might follow their tradition but also include new moon and full moon rituals to their ritual calendars. Lunar rituals can be a powerful and necessary part of any person’s ritual practice. The potential benefits are many, but an individual has to experience it for themselves to gauge their value.
There are things to keep in mind during lunar rituals. In modern times, it is popular to use rituals on the lunation cycle as periods for manifestation and the setting of intentions or releasing and healing.6 They can be used in this way, with post-its, personal planners, calendars, and other tools to help remind one of intentions and wishes or things to release and let go of. There are an array of modern strategies and techniques for manifesting and setting intentions or releasing and healing that are on the internet. On the other hand, doing things like setting intentions or releasing or merely doing rituals can be limited to just new and full moons, without any other work, focus, or attention given to them outside of the rituals. In this manner, they become a part of one’s spiritual practice and routines, and over time they naturally harmonize with one’s life, regardless of intentions and manifestations or not. New and full moon rituals are generally time sensitive. The point of doing them is largely to harmonize with nature’s cycles and the relationships of the luminaries, which have been the greatest indicators of how time is measured for a multitude of ancient cultural groups. Doing a full moon ritual when the moon has moved on to another phase, particularly a phase that is far off like a third quarter moon, doesn’t make sense. Ritualists can learn the dates that either new moons or full moons occur using astrology software, search engines, observation of the sky, or apps. Rituals focusing on the new moon and full moon have a modern culture surrounding them and their application and are generally a time sensitive phenomenon.
New moon and full moon ritual scripts from a Hellenistic perspective were created to accompany this article. The scripts are going to be published simultaneously with this article, and links to them are included at the bottom of this post. There are a total of four rituals for the lunation cycle in the ritual scripts. Two rituals are for new moons, and two rituals are for full moons. Of each pair of rituals, one is Hellenistic, and one is a mix of modern and Hellenistic elements. The former rituals are short, while the latter rituals are lengthy. Two rituals are lengthy and have modern elements in them. The short Hellenistic style rituals are limited to a hymn. The mixed modern-Hellenistic rituals have combined elements: hymns, prayers, affirmations, and ritual scripts. They are written from a Hellenistic perspective along with modern elements. The two short rituals are more authentically Hellenistic. They are written in iambic hexameter. Many of the references are to correspondences and symbolism from the Hellenistic era. The modern-Hellenistic ritual script is in the form of a modern astrological style ritual, and has an Orphic hymn attached. But they can easily be adapted as astrological magic rituals, Platonism-inspired rituals, or to Hellenistic ritual more in the style of the Greek Magical Papyri. So, two posts that are linked to this article have two ritual scripts, one short and one long.
- Demetra George, Mysteries of the Dark Moon: The Healing Power of the Dark Goddess, (Harper Collins, May 22, 1992) 29.
- George, Mysteries of the Dark Moon, 28.
- George, Mysteries of the Dark Moon, 24.
- Charlie Obert, The Classical Seven Planets: Source Texts and Meanings, (Almuten Press, 2020) 57-59.
- Obert, The Classical Seven Planets, 57.
- Phylameana Ila Desy, Learn Religions, “How to Perform New Religions,” April 28, 2019, <https://www.learnreligions.com/moon-rituals-1725719>; Phylameana Ila Desy, Learn Religions, “Full Moon Pagan Ritual for Releasing and Purging,” https://www.learnreligions.com/full-moon-pagan-ritual-1731277 (accessed December 2, 2022).
- George, Demetra, Mysteries of the Dark Moon: The Healing Power of the Dark Goddess, Harper Collins, May 22, 1992.
- Obert, Charlie, The Classical Seven Planets: Source Texts and Meanings, Almuten Press, 2020.
- Desy, Phylameana Ila, “How to Perform New Religions,” Learn Religions April 28, 2019, <https://www.learnreligions.com/moon-rituals-1725719>
- Desy, Phylameana Ila, “Full Moon Pagan Ritual for Releasing and Purging,” Learn Religions, https://www.learnreligions.com/full-moon-pagan-ritual-1731277 (accessed December 2, 2022).
- The Moon and Selene, as the goddess walks amongst trees, plants and pillars.. Photo by Midjourney. Prompts: silvery moonlight selene the goddess of the moon dances in a verdant landscape. Creator profile: @david.k9
- The moon and Selene, the goddess of the Moon, in a forest at night. Photo by Midjourney. Prompts: silvery moonlight selene the goddess of the moon dances in a verdant landscape. Creator profile: @david.k9
David has studied traditional astrology since 2014. The Bay Area native completed Chris Brennan’s Introduction to Hellenistic Astrology course, and attended courses taught by Austin Coppock, Nina Gryphon, and Ryhan Butler. He is interested in exploring the less well known aspects of astrology, divination, and spirituality.