The earliest calendars were based on the lunar cycle and Moon time is still used in the modern world in both pagan and religious rituals: the Chinese New Year is a lunar festival and the Chinese ritual year follows the Moon and the Native Americans calculate their months by the Moon. The Coligny Calendar of the Gallic Druids, which runs from full moon to full moon, was named after the place in France where it was discovered in 1897, engraved on bronze. Similar calculations were inscribed in stone at Knowth, one of the sacred ancient megalithic sites in Ireland.
Many of the original lunar calendars were based on the natural and agricultural world and helped in establishing an agricultural calendar, noting times in the cycle when crops were planted and ripened and when birds migrated, as well as the coming of the herds among hunting peoples. 'Blue moons', where more than one full moon occurs in the same calendar month, have always been regarded as especially potent. In the Further Reading chapter, I have listed sources where you can find these older calendars.
In modern magick, old Moon names are a good way of connecting with the powers of nature that, unlike seasonal energies operate on a monthly basis, but magically are strongest on the actual eve and night of the full moon and the days before and after the full moon. So Moon names can give a focus to magical purposes at the right time in the yearly cycle, as they emphasise the prevailing energies that different peoples have interpreted according to their own seasonal trends. Sadly, we no longer top up our psychic batteries in the same way, and the further we move from nature, the harder it gets to access these helpful powers.
The night of the full moon is good for solitary practitioners and groups as well as formal covens, to tune into the full force of the monthly energies. If you have coven business, leave it to another night -it is a shame to waste all that time on mundane matters, when you could be riding high on the cascading powers. You can carry out more than one full moon ritual on the same night, opening the circle and perhaps following an energetic spell with a gentler rite, or vice versa, before closing the circle. The one I have suggested on page 222 would easily form part of a more complex full moon rite. Alternatively, you could perform it privately, perhaps the evening before or after the full moon. You can, if you are working alone, spread your full moon rituals over three nights, with the major one on the night of the full moon and the others on the preceding and following nights.
I have started the full moon calendar on page 214 with the moon that is nearest to the Celtic New Year on 2 November, the moon that the Celts called Samnios, the 'falling of the seeds'. In Native American lunar calendars, the full moon around this period was often known as the 'hunters' moon' or the 'trading moon', because the trading of goods was carried out in preparation for the needs of the coming winter. You may find that each of the full moons corresponds with a personal event or prevailing mood in your own yearly life cycle. You may even give it a personal name and create your very own Moon calendar or devise one based on your own region. The passing of the urban year can equally be a focus or you can use goddess/god names to reflect the different moon energies.
There is a great variety of translations of the Celtic and Native American names. For example, I always call Samnios 'Going Home for the Winter' because this is the time of year that coincides, like the Celtic herdsmen returning from the hills, with the closing of the small caravan site where I spend so many of my spring and summer days, working and taking my youngest child to play by the sea. It is for me a time of sorrow, but also of realisation that the site has become muddy and cold and I am spending more and more time huddled within over the small heater. I know that it really is time to put away the picnic bench outside the van where I eat, read and carry out rituals in the sunnier times.
To the Celts, this moon carried the hope of seeds that would take root to burst through in the early spring. As I close the van, I too look forward to returning in spring, maybe having weathered the storms I know are gathering round me emotionally as well as physically.
I have listed the 12 moons that correspond to the 12 months of the year. However, because some years have 13 moons and lunar months vary slightly in length, a thirteenth magical month, Ciallos, the month of no time, is added every two and a half years. There are fairly complex rules for its insertion, but a good lunar almanac will keep you on track - you can follow its instructions or use Ciallos rather like a joker in a playing card pack, when you need it.
As you work with the Moon and plot her daily path over years you will become naturally in tune with the prevailing energies.
I have briefly listed the moons and the kind of magick you can perform either on the full moon itself or the day that precedes or follows it, and on page 216 I have given a basic full moon ceremony to use for your special moons. You may not wish to celebrate every full moon this way, just the significant ones in your year. The names are a synthesis of lunar names I have gathered and used over the years. You will see the echo of these themes throughout the seasons.
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.