Lunar Astrology for Witches

by Balachandra

It's astounding how few Witches learn the basics of Astrology and how to apply them in Circle. Many who have mastered far more difficult studies (Tarot, Gematria, I-Ching) are simply stumped by the stars. It's so mathematical, they say, so complex. Or else, so unscientific! Clearly a mental block - but an odd one for those seeking to reclaim and use the wise old ways.

Astrology was high tech to the ancients and remained widely accepted until the mid-18th century. From Egypt and Babylon down through the millennia, star data accumulated in the collective unconscious. In Europe, Zodiacal symbols were everywhere: cathedrals, palaces, books of hours. Literate or not, nearly everyone in medieval and Renaissance times knew the language of Signs and Planets, and that would certainly include Witches.

I view Astrology as an art rather than a science - exactly as I view medicine! First learn it on its own terms; then experiment a bit. As with all magickal work, observe and record your results carefully. When you've amassed some data and experience, you can judge for yourself whether Astrology "works" or not.

Some Basic Astronomy
Ancient astronomers observed that "wandering stars" (planets) returned to certain positions relative to "fixed stars" (in constellations) over so many days, months or years. The Zodiac (Greek - ring of animals) is a series of 12 constellations seen to form a band around our Earth angled to the tilt of her orbit. This band is called the Plane of the Ecliptic. It is the line along which all the planets - and the Sun and the Moon - appear to travel when viewed from the Earth.

Visualize the Zodiac as a 360° pie divided into twelve equal 30° sections; or, better yet, as a huge geocentric clock with the moving bodies (Sun, Moon, planets) as "hands" indicating "time" in relation to each other. Oh yes - and also as a Circle with the Four Elements at the Quarters. Where do you think that notion came from, anyway?

As Pagans we live in harmony with the Earth's times and seasons; as Witches we work with the Moon. The Moon takes 28 days to orbit the Earth, and "pass through" the 12 Signs. The same journey appears to take the Sun roughly 365 days: the Solar Year of twelve "Sun Signs" we all know and love.

We're familiar with the three Lunar phases: New, Full, and Dark. We know that a "waxing" Moon is moving from New to Full, and a "waning" Moon is moving from Full to Dark. Since the visible half of the Moon always faces (and reflects) the Sun, when the Moon is Full to us, it is opposite the Sun on the Ecliptic and, therefore, in the opposite Sign from the Sun. When the Moon is Dark, showing us only its lightless side, it is between us and the Sun, in roughly the same place on the Ecliptic, and so in the same Sign. And that's about all the Lunar astronomy we need.

Lunar and Solar Symbolism

Witches see the Moon as female. The Lunar cycle is often compared to the feminine reproductive cycle of ovulation/release, fertility/ conception, menstruation/cleansing. There are thirteen Lunar cycles in a solar year. Thirteen Moons: thirteen Esbat nights for traditional Witchmeets. That's the Lunar Wheel of the Year.

Then there is the Sun, which most of us see as male. In addition to the Dark and Light (Goddess/God) halves of the year, we have the Eight Sabbats: also known as the Solar Wheel of the Year.

Astrologically, the Equinoxes mark the entry of the Sun into the first pair of polar-opposite Signs: Aries and Libra. The Solstices occur when the Sun enters the fourth pair of polar opposites: Cancer and Capricorn. There are six sets of these paired Signs. For starters, I suggest you memorize them in pairs, as balanced sides of the same coin, so to speak.

Aries -- Libra
Cancer -- Capricorn
Taurus -- Scorpio
Leo -- Aquarius
Gemini -- Sagittarius
Virgo -- Pisces

I like to tell students that Wicca has Eight New Years: Each Sabbat kicks off a cycle reflecting its own properties. But remember, there are two interlocking Wheels, a Solar and a Lunar one. This works much like a gear system, because the Lunar dates don't fall on the same night in every yearly Solar cycle - 28 can't divide equally into 365.

Just as the farmer plants by the Moon and Sun (seasons) the astrological year can be "farmed" using the Signs and the relationships between the Sun and Moon. The next time you plan out your Coven calendar, note the relationship of that year's New and Full Moon dates to the Sabbats. Many Covens do heavier practical work at the New or Full Moon just before a given Sabbat, then use the actual Sabbat for reinforcement.

Sun and Moon as God and Goddess can both separate and merge. Two astrological terms describe these functions: Opposition and Conjunction. The New Moon is a Sun-Moon Conjunction: two halves of the same being, in unison. The energy is simple, pure, compressed. At the Full Moon (Sun-Moon Opposition) they are a complementary pair of polar opposites, harmonizing with each other. The energy is dynamic, balanced, intense.

Seeds sown at the New Moon germinate quickly. Likewise, when you do a New Moon Spell, you expect results by the Full Moon. For example, the New Moon in Taurus (money) is good for a "quick buck". But the Full Moon in Taurus can be used for longer-term financial gains. Here your work may take a full growing season of six or even nine months to come to fruition.

Lunar Astrology is an excellent aid to channeling or drawing down aspects of the Gods. When you invoke a particular Goddess, choosing the correct astrological time makes it much easier to tune Her in. Say I wish to draw down the Goddess Hekate. Capricorn, sign of age and wisdom, is very hospitable to Hekate, who acts like a sort of female Saturn. The New Moon in Capricorn occurs in January; the Full in July. These times would be especially propitious one at which to honor Hekate and invite Her to feast with you.

When using Lunar Astrology for spellcasting, try to do your work when the Moon first enters the Sign. You'll need tables of planetary movement to do this: get a copy of Llewellyn's Moon Sign Book or a similar publication. Otherwise you can find information for that month in the current issue of popular Astrology magazines. For those who really enjoy it, there's always lots more to learn. But start with the Moon and see how you do.

Here are some notes on Lunar attributes for each Sign. Again, you'll need to look up the exact dates, but just remember that the Full Moon for each month is in the Sign opposite the Sign the Sun is in, while the New Moon occurs in the same Sign. I include the Element, Planet and Yin/Yang Polarity for each Sign, as well as ritual themes and some thoughts about the moods people may be in.

Moon in Aries
"I Am". Sign of action and new beginnings. A time for bold or sudden moves. Focus on work requiring daring, challenge, bravery. Innovation rather than cooperation is the keynote. An ideal time for making or consecrating "male" tools, such as Athamé, Wand or Sword. Candle or fire magic is the best technique. Seek inspiration for a new spiritual direction. Consider things from a new perspective. People may be aggressive or egocentric, with a tendency towards impulsiveness as well. Their opinions can change drastically. Tendencies to bad temper, stubbornness, competitiveness, and selfishness are strong when the Moon is in Aries.


Moon in Taurus
"I Have". Sign of possessions, resources, stability. A good time to work on finances and enjoy creature comforts: food, drink, sex. Perhaps the best time for long-term money magick: a steady growth of one’s bank account. Healing and growth energies are abundant: think green. Gardening is emphasized, as is magick to heal the Earth. A good time to practice grounding and centering; a wonderful time to sing or play music. Compound oils or incenses, work on anything involving the sense of smell. Gradual build-up of energy can be used to reinforce existing work. Enjoy and add to what you have rather than starting something new. People can be languid and sluggish and a bit stubborn ; make haste slowly.


Moon in Gemini
"I Think". Sign of the mind: intelligence, wit, and communication. Cleverness, laughter, and gossip abound. A great time for parties and short excursions. Excellent for divination, especially if objective data is needed. Fine for anything involving writing: paper talismans work well. Brainstorming produces clever new ideas. A good time for discussion and planning. People are cheery and optimistic, but also more changeable than usual. Not a good time to plant, but an excellent time to prepare the ground. A poor time to sign contracts or make long-term commitments, such as marriage. Take promises made at this time with a grain of salt, as trickery and deception are also in the air.


Moon in Cancer 
"I Feel". Sign of the emotions: very intense but changeable. A time of fertility, growth and psychic sensitivity. A very good time to plant anything. Work on matters dealing with home and family, pregnancy childbirth and infancy. Do a ritual at the ocean. Food is important, too, as well as sleep and dreams. Self-indulgence is likely, especially with food and drink. People are feeling sentimental, moody, sensitive to criticism. Feelings can be hurt easily. Avoid the direct approach if you can: sidestep the problem. Grudges created here can take years to pass.


Moon in Leo
"I Will". Sign of creativity, leadership and courage. Entertainment, celebration, games, sports and flirtatious dalliance are strong features of this time: celebrate and harvest! Do ritual drama, confer honors. Throw a banquet or party. People are feeling generous, so this is a great time to approach them for favors. Good time to get a raise or to recognition from people in authority. Flattery will get you everywhere. In a group, conflicts over leadership can arise; one individual will tend to dominate. There's a strong desire for praise and encouragement, which should be given. But luck is strong for most people at this time.


Moon in Virgo
"I Can". Sign of work, health and practical details. A good time for diagnosis and healing. Great for herbal studies. Best time to handle anything to do with employment and work-related matters. Make plans, organize and arrange things. A good time for solving any practical problem. A very good time for job magick, going on interviews, etc. providing Mercury is not retrograde. People tend to be a little cold-hearted or picky, however. Do the best you can, but don't get bogged down in the details.


Moon in Libra
"I Love". Sign of romance, grace, art, law. Work on cooperation, partnership and marriage: a good time for a handfasting. Teamwork, courtesy, pleasant social activities are prominent; eloquence and poetry abound. Beautiful robes or jewelry can be fashioned or dedicated. Also a good time to handle legal matters, draft new rules. People tend to be agreeable and cooperative, but sometimes insincere. Negotiation and persuasion are easier now.


Moon in Scorpio
"I Need". Sign of death, transformation, secrets, obsession, other people's resources. Psychic abilities are heightened. Works of sexual magic are favored, as are rites of passage. Do work connected with hidden enemies, the dead, sorcery, surgery, spying, denial and revenge. People may be irritable, touchy, manipulative or secretive; often, negative psychological issues surface. Things are not as they seem: discovery of hidden agendas can provoke sarcasm or sudden violence. Beware.


Moon in Sagittarius
"I Seek". Sign of religion, philosophy, travel, expansion of consciousness. Good spirits abound: it's a time of mirth and merriment. An excellent time for initiations, field trips, parties and festivals. Good for discussion of new systems and ideas. Long-range plans, as well as matters connected with travel, publishing, writing, and sports are favored. A generally lucky time for any new endeavor. Miracles and wonders can occur. People are feeling humane, forthright, optimistic, articulate and generous. It's a good time to play games.


Moon in Capricorn   
"I Use". Sign of hardships, limits and restrictions, especially at the start of things. Time to focus on pragmatism: the uphill climb and obstacles which must be overcome. Best time for binding and restricting negative influences. Anything having to do with ageing, darkness, cold, poverty, hardship or decay can be handled at this time. Growth is slow, delay inevitable. Study and practical research are favored; structure, order, patience and discipline are the best tools to complete any task. People are dominated by the material: pessimism and depression abound, along with gallows humor. A lustful but unemotional sexuality is often present.


Moon in Aquarius   
"I Know". Sign of rationality, technology, community. This is a time to focus on community values and service, development of a new social order. Do magick for the benefit of everyone on the planet. People are in the mood for friendship and cooperation, new ideas. Occult studies. Astrology. Group cohesion is strong.


Moon in Pisces
"I Try". Sign of inner worlds, glamour, mystery, illusion. A time for subconscious and subliminal influences: dreams, visions, mystical experiences. Excellent time for divination and psychic development: astral projection, etc. Good healing energy. Great time for preparation of perfumes, oils and incense. Lousy for practical work: energies are diffused, unfocused and nebulous. But psychological issues can be resolved, as well as things concerning imprisonment, secret enemies, self-sabotage. People can be moody, easily discouraged, overly idealistic, confused. Handle with tender loving care.

This article was first published in Enchanté Magazine (Issue 14, Imbolc 1993). I've since revised and tightened it up a bit. Copyright ©1993, 2002 by Sally Eaton. All rights reserved.