Spellworking: The Power of the Moon and the Goddess

Here is another sneak preview of my forthcoming book, Astro Magic, due to be published in the summer of 2022.

Once upon a time, every society had their Moon Goddess, or mythical Earth Mother. In Greek Myth, the original Mother Nature was Gaia, whose name means “land” or “earth”: she was simply the personification of it. She was self created from the primeval chaos and in time, all of life was born from her all-powerful, fecund womb. As Mother Nature, then, Gaia is the power of healing, nurture and sustenance, a symbol of lush fertility and regeneration, These days the Green movement tries to wake up people to the fact that Mother Earth, or Gaia, is being ‘blasphemed against’, as the occultist Dion Fortune once put it. The planet is literally being ‘raped’ as was Persephone – one of Greek mythology’s moon goddesses. Everything on this planet is dependent on Her, but some humans don’t see this, and the destruction of the environment continues. (There is a ritual for healing the earth that you can perform in chapter Five.)

Feminine Power and the Moon Goddess

Let’s be clear, here, for starters – the terms Masculine and Feminine don’t mean ‘men’ and ‘women’: they are archetypal principles or qualities; how something ‘behaves’ in nature. And just as some women can embody Masculine qualities, so do many men exude Feminine ones. Masculine means the ‘yang’ force – the powers of daylight, logic, decisive outward action and the rational mind, like the left side of our brain. Feminine means the ‘yin’ energies, the forces of the dark and night-time, intuition, subtly going within, the irrational mind, like the right side of our brain.

Feminine activity is about emotions and feelings, imagination, nurture, the needs of the body (as opposed to the intellect), the instincts, and psychic powers. Feminine is also synonymous with ‘lunar’ consciousness, whose strengths are passivity, gentleness and endurance. But the Feminine in nature also contains the most power and our ancestors knew it. It’s the force of eternal endurance. Think of water, the quintessential ‘feminine’ element which can douse fire, and sustain and nourish the earth. It is powerful in other ways: think of the majestic seas and oceans and their hidden dangers we must navigate properly – or perish. Over time, water will wear the largest rock down to grains of sand. But it will also save your life if you’re thirsty, or cleanse and heals your wounds. In short, it’s something we cannot live without it.

Let’s look at the Moon Goddess in ancient myth, and see what stories our ancestors told about them. For example, there is the Triple Goddess, which represents three different stages in the Lunar cycle: the Maiden, or the virgin, the Mother, and the haggard old Crone whose great age gives her wisdom and power. Obviously, they’re all part of the same cycle, and symbolise the new waxing moon, the full moon, and the dark, waning moon up until the time it changes back into a New moon, and the cycle repeats itself.

In astronomy, there are four main lunar phases: the new moon, first quarter, full moon, and last quarter, though for our purposes we’ll be looking only at the New Moon, Full Moon and so called Dark Moon. New Moons occur when the Moon and Sun are conjoined in the sky – the full moon occurs when they’re opposite and the Earth is located between the Sun and the Moon. Broadly speaking, different goddesses are associated with these different stages in the lunar cycle (though quite often they represent all three).

For example, there is the Greek Moon goddess Artemis, or Diana, a virgin who was worshipped in sacred groves as a huntress, her skill with a bow and arrow un-equalled by anyone. Although a Virgin she was a protectress of women in childbirth and their labour pangs. Goddesses took on many roles, and she was a deity who could also ensure bounteous crops.

Diana’s role as goddess of hunters and crossroads symbolically ties in here. Crossroads are always associated with dark powers in ancient legend – in later years it was said the Devil would appear if summoned. But people hunting at night with only the light of the moon for illumination have to make an uncertain choice at the crossroads, left or right. They are fearful, in semi-darkness, but rely on the Goddess to move them in the right direction.

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NEW MOON (WAXING CRESCENT): THE VIRGIN GODDESS

Tarot card – the High Priestess

Time of Year: Candlemas, Celtic Imbolc,1/2 February, beginning of spring

Persephone

The new moon begins the first day of the lunar month. Soon, it will appears as a thin crescent, as it waxes and gathers strength. This apparent weakness and lack of worldliness is why we have the young, virgin moon Goddess – she’s inexperienced, ‘new’ to the world and very vulnerable. In Greek mythology, Persephone embodies the moon in her maiden-virgin aspect (whose mother Ceres or Demeter sought her out when she was suddenly abducted by the underworld God Pluto).

One of her qualities was an insatiable curiosity, for this is (again) how we learn about the world. In this Persephone was like Eve in the Old Testament (tempted by Satan and the apple of knowledge) and another innocent from Greek myth, Pandora. She’d been told not to look inside the box in which all of the world’s ills were safely hidden – and on opening the lid they all flew out to afflict mankind. All except hope.

The power of the New Moon/Persephone is thus the innocent, youthful quest for new beginnings, symbolised by the dawn, spring – all of life coming into being, whether budding flowers and plants, or the commencement of longer days. In Lunar Magic it begins with the waxing moon, when it grows visibly bigger each evening. It’s a time to do spells for gain and increase, when we intend something new to come into our lives.

Brighid

Another Moon Goddess symbolising all that is new is Brighid (or Bridget) from Celtic myth. She later became an important Christian saint, St. Bride, and monks in the 10th century knew her as ‘the goddess whom poets adored,’ since she provided much creative inspiration. Like Artemis, she is a protectress of pregnant women, and according to some was even midwife to the infant Jesus, donning a head-dress of lighted candles, putting three drops of spring water upon the Divine Infant’s brow. (This association with childbirth, the Goddess as Matron, symbolises the second lunar phase – the Full Moon – fecundity and completion.)

One of her titles was Queen of Heaven: she hung her magical cloak upon the sun’s rays, and was honoured at the Celtic fire festival of Oimelc or Imbolc on 31 January, when the short, dark days of winter are finally coming to an end. (St. Bride – the later Christian version – is still celebrated in Ireland.) Her magical garment also featured in a story when she tried to establish a monastery, after a rich baron had promised her land. Stupidly, he then attempted to trick her by allowing only as much land as her cloak would cover. Being a goddess, and capable of any magic, when she removed her cloak it began to extend over many miles. One should never try to fool a divine being.

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FULL MOON: THE GREAT MOTHER GODDESS

Tarot Card – The Empress

Time of Year: Celtic Lughnasadh or Lammas – 1 August, the start of Harvest time

Demeter

The next phase of the Moon Goddess is, of course, the Full Moon, which represents fertility and abundance. The power of the Full New Moon/Demeter symbolises High Summer and the fullness of Nature, when plants are ripe with fruit, when the sun is at its most bright and powerful, when we have the longest day of the year. And when the crops are harvested. It symbolises the experience of maturity, of motherhood.

Think, for example of the Empress card in the Tarot. When she appears in a key position in a spread, you’ll probably experience a time of physical satisfaction at what life has to offer. It reflects a period of personal creativity, maybe artistic, or even in a business sense. Or the ultimate creation – the birth of a child. Whatever nature is providing at this time usually brings feelings of joy, physical comfort, security, and the promise of personal growth. In some packs, the Empress sits next to a massive cornucopia, the horn of plenty, that spills its bounty on to the earth.

Obviously we’re in the realm of the Mother Goddess, just as the moon in astrology symbolises primal survival instincts – what we need. When we’re young we turn to our mother for protection; in the world at large, we turn to Mother (the archetype), the support system we all rely upon for sustenance – the Earth itself, Nature, the Environment. The baby is nurtured by the mother’s body, but humanity is nurtured by the body of the Earth, whose power can be seen in the myths of Demeter, the archetypal goddess of the Harvest.

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DARK MOON: THE CRONE GODDESS (WANING CRESCENT)

Tarot Card – The Moon

Time of Year: Hallowe’en, Celtic Samhain, 31 Oct., the onset of winter

Hecate (and Persephone)

And finally, the Crone or the old woman, symbolising the end of a cycle, the dying away of life. Yet there is power in the darkness. The forces of the Dark Moon/Hecate symbolises whatever is coming to completion – death before rebirth, the old about to make way for the new and the barren, cold stillness of winter when nothing will grow. It’s a time when the days are short and night falls too soon. Outwardly, this is old age readying for the grave – but in magical thinking it symbolises death and rebirth. A rebirth into a new phase of maturity where lessons from the past have been learned. Like the Oak in Celtic lore, great age is synonymous with the wisdom of a lifetime’s experience. Welcome to to the realm of Hecate.

When Demeter was searching for her child, Hecate was her guide in the darkness with her two flaming torches. And after mother and daughter were reunited, Hecate took on the role of advisor to Persephone in the Underworld. (Persephone eventually became Hades’ consort in the depths of the earth.) But before you start thinking Hecate was some sort of benevolent grandmother, she was also the goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, the moon, ghosts and necromancy (raising the spirits of the dead). In short, the original Queen of Hell.

Offerings to Hecate were made in the ancient world during the morning of a New moon, Small shrines dedicated to her (to ward off evil) were placed at the front door of a house and a meal would be left there in dedication to her. As you might expect, hungry passers by would make off with the food. She was often summoned by Medea, a sorceress, for Hecate gave witches the power to draw down the moon. In the midnight hours Medea stretched her arms to the stars and said: ‘O Mother of Mysteries, who with Selene (the Moon) overcomes the day, and thou, divine three-headed Hecate, who knowest all my enterprises and fortifies the arts of magic.’

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Plus, here’s a powerful money spell from chapter six:

MOON MAGIC FOR THE SECOND HOUSE

GODDESS: DEMETER

PURPOSE: To attract new finances and increased prosperity

TIME OF SPELL: To be performed when the New Moon is in your second house

YOU WILL NEED: A one or two pound coin (for American readers, a dollar coin – see below)

And so we come to nearly everyone’s favourite subject in the magical realm: how to attract money. Think of this spell as a kind of magical law of exchange – something comes back to us when we give. We give; we get, but there are provisos – we must do this with no strings attached. This is what is meant by sacrifice, which is the basis of this particular money spell. The real Nature of the Universe (or what the Universe is secretly trying to do) is to find equilibrium, balance, wholeness. If you take from it, it suffers; if you give to it, it will make a return to you.

Time after time, one can see people supposedly on the spiritual path trying to use magic simply to get money. However, unless they are expert magicians, they will fail miserably. Magic works on a like-for-like basis – what you give you get, but you have to give first. This is why I have chosen the following spell, whose subtitle might be: as ye reap, so shall ye sow! There’s also the important factor of belief – this is the engine of magic, you might say. It’s what gets the Astral Light all fired up, as it were.

The spell below is a kind of votive offering to the nature spirits beloved of Celtic magic, whether you drop a few coins into a wishing well or offer something of higher value by casting gifts into a lake, or a river. In Celtic myth, the elemental spirits (those dealing with wealth and its accumulation) can be found in wells, fountains and springs and the Celts made these solemn offerings to their gods on a regular basis (as the archaeology proves). I’ve also done this spell many times myself: a stream runs past my cottage, and the results are always rewarding if I offer a small gift by casting coins into it.

You can also think of it as a sacrifice to the Moon Goddess. Sacrifice means to ‘render holy’ which we can also express as ‘make whole’ or complete. But this ‘completing’ can only be done by a divine power. Like the Moon Goddess. Either way, if the correct steps are followed she will repay you. When performing your spell, you may add a thanksgiving, too, knowing that your offering will not go unrewarded. The As If Technique, in other words. Don’t think of it as a spell to attract a specific sum of money, but rather, general gain and increase. When you make your offering, say these words to Demeter, goddess of the Earth and Material Increase:

‘Demeter, greatly hail! Lady of Bounty,

I make this offering to you and know that one who sows also reaps.

Blessings for thy gifts of harmony, prosperity and abundance

Blessings for wealth and good things of the earth.

Be gracious, O thrice-prayed for, great Queen of goddesses!’

In a similar way, you can try to attract the attention of the Earth Spirits, who go under various names depending on where they’re from: elves, brownies, dwarves, leprechauns, hobgoblins or faeries. We’re used to thinking of them as if they were tiny people, but in the original Celtic tales they were fully sized supernatural beings. Then there are the gnomes, earth spirits (well known to Scandinavian myth) who guard the mines full of precious treasures secreted deep in the earth. It’s up to you to ‘summon’ this treasure through your magic.

Help from the Earth Spirits can be invoked by leaving an offering of some kind on a suitable altar. I recommend going into a dense, secluded wood and placing a gift (of some value to you) on a round stone or even a tree stump. Where I live the local forestry commission are forever sawing trees down and leaving a circular stump about ten to twelve inches high – this is the perfect place for your offering. Think of it as a circular altar. You may feel better if you can find one in a secluded spot, off the beaten track where others are less likely to find it (though this isn’t absolutely necessary.)

This could be a crystal or piece of jewellery (again, of some value to you – otherwise it isn’t really a sacrifice) or a coin. The higher the value the better. (A two pound coin – with its vaguely golden hue – is suitable for those living in the UK. For American readers, one of the relatively rare gold or silver dollars is perfect, though these coins haven’t been minted in the US since 2011. As a substitute, four Quarters – placed in a pile – will do.) Treat this act with some solemnity and give thanks that the increase in wealth or resources is already on its way towards you. Take this for granted. Magic can only work in the direction of your belief.

Then, turn around without a backwards glance – walk away and forget about it. And I mean really forget about it. This is your gift to the Earth Spirits and in the spirit of gift giving, you offer it without condition. Don’t even worry about some other person discovering your magical gift and ‘stealing’ it. Let it go to the Universe, offer it freely. You have, symbolically, cast your bread upon the waters. Just know that your personal finances will increase in some way – it will be up the powers that be to figure out how.