Connecting with the Dark Moon

Modern astrology tends to assign eight phases to the cycle of the moon. Commencing with the new moon from when the first sliver of light appears in the sky, moving through three waxing phases until the full moon, then moving through three waning phases before it disappears from sight, only to reappear again. What I find interesting is that the briefest of moments when the moon completely disappears from sight many astrologers tend to include this moment within the waning crescent phase. From a more esoteric point of view, there is a difference.

When the moon is not visible at all in the sky, this brief period of time is referred to as the “dark moon”. It is often seen as a time of ultimate rest, of deepest silence, and that magical pause between the exhalation (of the waning moon) and the first inhalation (of the new moon).

I personally see the dark moon as being similar to the unhewn stone of the Celtic tree calendar, the only day of the year that is not ruled by a tree and its corresponding ogham letter. The secret of this stone is found within the potential that it offers.

Another similarity can be found in the ancient Roman Festival of Acca Larentis, which today is considered to be a sacred day to the Goddess Laurentina, Mother of Lares. Laurentina was an earth goddess who guards the dead and seed corn. She commemorates the old year as well as the potential of the new year to come.

With the first sliver of the new moon reappearing in our skies from 4:29am tomorrow morning (AEST), you might simply want to undertake a meditation to help you ground and gain some clarity before opening yourself up to the Taurean energy of new moon.

This forthcoming new moon will invoke the energy of the materially focused earth sign, ruled by the planetary goddess of abundance, Venus. It is in this dark divine feminine energy that creation and birth can occur, reminding us to re-engage back with our physical body, emotions, and senses in order to discover what is right for ourselves. In short, this new lunar cycle is about empowerment and radical self care.

Taurus energy is all about self care that preserves your energy for what you truly value, setting boundaries, and not neglecting your well-being for the comfort of others. Putting yourself first is the ultimate form of self care, and this Taurean new moon urges you to break out of any devaluing and limiting situations with its connection to rebellious Uranus in Taurus.

This Old Witch

Ever wonder what happens when a country witch crosses paths with a city witch? We did too. This Old Witch is a podcast that brings together a country witch (E. Massey) with a city witch (Alexander Cabot) to share their perspectives on witchcraft, spirituality, and magick.

Guests speakers have included Stephanie Taylor Grimasi (wife of the late Raven Grimasi), Orion Foxwood, Silver Ravenwolf, Ivo Dominguez, Sorita d’Este, Selena Fox amongst others.

I am delighted and extremely humbled to soon be included to this list of guests as I will be making my appearance on the This Old Witch show at 7pm on Saturday, 15 May 2021 (American Eastern Standard Time) – which is around 8.30am Sunday morning (16 May) here in Adelaide.

I first became aware of E. Massey (the country witch of the duo) some five or six years ago when he contributed a piece of his artwork to my anthology, Call of the God: An Anthology Exploring the Divine Masculine within Modern Paganism. It wasn’t until March of this year when our paths crossed again as we both presented at Witchcon. So when E. contacted me and asked if I would like to be a guest on their show, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

You can join us live 7pm Saturday night (American EST) or 8.30am Sunday morning (Adelaide time) where our chat will be recorded live on the This Old Witch Facebook page as well as on Spreaker. You can also listen to the previous shows through these links.

Autumn has Arrived and Life is Busy

Day light savings has finally ended this weekend and now the autumn’s arrival is starting to be more noticeable, even if the temperature seems to say otherwise.

March has been a rather busy month for me. It commenced with me taking part in what was billed as the “largest online magical conference in the world”, that being WitchCon, over the weekend of 5 to 7 March 2021 (8 March here in Australia). My presentation on Exploring the Shadowy Realms of the Dark Goddess was well received with some 40 watching live despite me being up against a number of other presenters including Laurie Cabot, “Salem’s resident witch”. As all the presentations were recorded, from what I understand you can still purchase tickets which will entitle you to unlimited access to all the 90 odd presentations.

For the remainder of March I seemed to be manning my LunaNoire Creations stall at various markets around Adelaide and the surrounds, with still more markets taking place over the coming months.

My book, Encountering the Dark Goddess: A Journey into the Shadow Realms, was finally released at the end of March so copies are now available through all the usual outlets. If your local bookshop doesn’t stock it, they now can contact their distributor to do that. Signed copies are available directly through me.

On Good Friday, I joined Jo Avalon with her Cuppa Chat that should be made available on her web site, Avalon by Nature, soon. And in a couple of weeks I will be sitting down the wonderful Lucy Cavendish for her Witchcast.

As the cooler weather approaches, it seems the perfect time to start getting crafty. May dates have been set for a number of practical crafting workshops including the Making a Witch’s Protection Bottle and the Sacred Scents – Incense Making workshops being held back to back over one weekend. This means that if you book in for both workshops, I will give you a discount.

In June I will be taking part in MoonCon, a free weekend event consisting of talks, panels and live Q&A sessions hosted by Moon Books, the publishers of my most recent books. The event will be live streamed on Moon Book’s Facebook page and I will be forming a panel with Julie Brett and Jane Meredith, two other Australia authors, on Sunday, 6 June at 10am (British time) which equates to around 6.30pm Adelaide times.

Later in June I will be running the Spells, Amulets and Talismans workshop that was postponed last year due to COVID. This will be followed up in July with a workshop on Poppet or Attraction Doll making.

Once August comes around, that will mean the official release of Contemporary Witchcraft: Foundational Practices for a Magical Life, my second book to be published through Moon Books. If you are not able to wait until August, I have pre-release copies of this book also available through LunaNoire Creations.

As if all this is not enough, I am also in the process of designing better and more topical videos for my YouTube channel. It is just finding the time at the moment. However if there are specific topics that you would like me to discuss, please subscribe to the channel and let me know.

All this activity is setting the foundations for something that is slowly starting to manifest behind the scenes, with the proposed birth around the spring equinox. If you are interested in finding out more, make sure that you follow the Temple of the Dark Moon on Facebook.

Blessings, Frances

Expressions of Interest Now Open

Stand beneath the rising moon
Listen for the invoking tune
A sign that witches meet once more
Amongst the stars, behind closed doors.
Linking hearts and hands to make a ring
Reciting calls the Old Gods bring
Round and round the circle spins
The power is raised and the magick begins
.

Time is approaching for the Temple of the Dark Moon to open its doors once more. A lot of changes have taken place behind the scenes since this last occurred.

Regardless of whether you have been a member of the Inner or Outer court, have attended a course, workshop, public event or none … if you are genuinely interested in the practices of magick, ritual, contemporary witchcraft and can align with our ethics and philosophies, then email our High Priestess with your expression of interest.

** You must be able to travel to our covenstead on a regular basis.

Working with the New Moon in Aquarius

In a few days time the current waning moon will come to the end of this current cycle before disappearing from view only to re-appear once more. Here in Adelaide the first sliver of light of the re-emerging new moon will take place around 5:35am on Friday, 12 February. The astrological sign will be Aquarius, the water bearer, the exact sign it was in for January.

Over the last few years a lot more people seem to be interested in working with the moon’s waxing and waning energies. It is common these days to come across memes, Facebook postings and the like that offer basic advice such as:

  • Use the new moon as a time to set goals and intentions that you want to fulfill by the next full moon, and
  • Use the full moon to release something from your life so you can make space for something new and better by the next new moon.

Or if you work with all the eight phases then:

  • The new moon is a blank slate, the time of fresh starts, taking time for yourself, soul-searching, manifesting, setting goals and intentions, reboot.
  • The waxing crescent moon is the time to put in the work to manifest the goal or intention that you set during the new moon.
  • The first quarter moon is when you need to work on your motivation, overcome any procrastination and deal with self-sabotaging behaviours.
  • The waxing gibbous moon is a time to make refinements to your goals, and your strategy, see what is working and what is not.
  • The full moon is a time to celebrate and reap the benefits of what you set in motion during the new moon.
  • The waning gibbous moon is a time of releasing and letting go of things that no longer serve you such as negative self-talk, fear, relying too much on others, or even toxic relationships.
  • The last quarter moon is a time to make space to receive. If you have ended say a toxic relationship, then clear space to welcome a positive, motivating friend.

While there is nothing wrong with working with the lunar energies as such, my personal preference is to take into consideration all the other cosmic happenings that are taking place around the new moon before I “plant” any intentions. This means that instead of focusing purely on “low level” (materialistic or mundane) needs and wants, I am also considering what I call “higher level” manifestations to assist other more spirituality aligned aspects in my life.

In working this way, it also means that new moon intentions need to “marinate” in the energy for a longer period of time that enables us to undergo the appropriate experiences and even shifts in patterns to occur. As such the seed that has been planted often does not actually manifest properly until the timing of the full moon in that originating sign.

In other words, intentions that I planted during the January new moon (Aquarius) and which I am intending to plant during this upcoming new moon, I actually will not expect to see manifestation until the July and August full moons.

I explain more about how I personally work with the moon in my next book (that I am still writing). However I thought I would share the above just to give of a bit of food for thought that there is a lot more available to us in the greater scheme of things if we take the time and explore a little bit deeper.

Lunar Blessings
Frances

Moon Magick for 2020

A Gregorian year is upon us which means it is time to get out the diaries in order to work out when the differing phases of the moon occur in your neck of the woods. I have recently shared some of my thoughts about working with the moon, and more importantly, understanding the correct timing. This video can be found here: Timing and the Moon – YouTube.

For anyone working magick, knowing when the moon moves from the different phases can provide additional energies to not only your spell crafting but other magical workings such as what rituals you undertake, any devotional work you may do, or even simply in the understanding of your place in the greater scheme of things – why you do or feel the way you do.

The following chart is calculated to Australian Central Standard Time (ie, South Australia) and also takes into consideration Day Light Savings which is observed here in South Australia.

New MoonFirst QuarterFull MoonLast Quarter
6 Jan – 8:07 pm
13 Jan – 3:30 pm21 Jan – 7:31 am29 Jan – 5:46 am5 Feb – 4:07 am
12 Feb – 5:35 am20 Feb – 5:17 am27 Feb – 6:47 pm6 Mar – 12 noon
13 Mar – 8:51 pm22 Mar – 1:10 am29 Mar – 5:18 am4 Apr – 7:32 pm
12 Apr – 12 noon20 Apr – 4:28 pm27 Apr – 1:01 pm4 May – 5:20 am
12 May -4:29 am20 May -4:42 am26 May – 8:43 pm2 Jun – 4:54 pm
10 Jun – 8:22 pm18 Jun – 1:24 pm25 Jun – 4:09 am2 Jul – 6:40 am
10 Jul – 10:46 am17 Jul – 7:40 pm24 Jul – 12:06 pm31 Jul – 10:45 pm
8 Aug – 11:20 pm16 Aug-12:49 am22 Aug – 9:31 pm30 Aug – 4:43 pm
7 Sep – 10:21 am14 Sep – 6:09 am21 Sep- 9:24 am29 Sep -11:27 am
6 Oct – 9:35 pm13 Oct – 1:55 pm21 Oct – 1:26 am29 Oct – 6:35 am
5 Nov – 7:44 am11 Nov-11:15pm19 Nov-7:27 pm27 Nov-10:57 pm
4 Dec – 6:13 pm11 Dec-12:05 pm19 Dec-3:05 pm27 Dec-12:53 pm

When working with the moon, I prefer to work just prior to the actual date to ensure that I am utilising as much of the preferred energy as I can. For example, if I want to perform a manifestation spell to coincide with the February full moon, I would perform it on the evening of the 4th February because after 4:07 am the lunar energies will start to wane.

Pray to the moon when she is round, Luck with you will then abound.
What you seek for shall be found, On the sea or solid ground.

A rule of thumb when working with the moon is:

New Moon: Psychic work and planting “seeds” of what you want to manifest (bring into your life).

Waxing Moon: Invoking and manifesting magick.

Full Moon: Final manifestation, psychic or gratitude workings.

Waning Moon: Banishing, removing obstacles.

Some magical people also work with the dark moon. As mentioned in my video, I consider this phase of the moon to take place just before the new moon, when there is not even a slight sliver of Lady Lunar in the skies.

Full Moon Gathering

A special Full Moon Gathering will be taking place on Tuesday, 29 December 2020 on the evening prior to the actual timing of the full moon (1:58pm ACDT on 30 December 2020) at Grange Beach, Adelaide.

Celebrate the closing of what has been a rather challenging year for many of us as the moon resides in its own astrological sign of Cancer, enabling us to contemplate the base upon which we have built our lives, our concept of “family” (biological or chosen), the place we call “home” and the love that comes from deep within.

This Cancer Full Moon is also the time for birthing into the world energy, ideas, projects associated with our own life’s foundations.

Participants to bring:
Something biodegradable to represent what you wish to release from your life (ie, flower, shell, pebble).
Small candle (ie, tee light)
Drums (optional)

Cost: Gold coin donation to charity.

If you would like more information, please email Frances or contact us through the Facebook event.

Hail to the Sun God – it is the Summer Solstice

As the sun completes is southward journey, it rests briefly over the Tropic of Capricorn before moving northward again.  When it enters the astrological sign of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere, we know that the sun is at its highest and brightest, and that the time of the summer solstice has arrived.  However, as I write this, rain is starting to fall – but that is okay, the garden is grateful in receiving whatever rain is about at this time of the year.

For the Ngarrindjeri people of the lower Murray River and Coorong in South Australia, the warmth associated with Luwadang continues.  As the sun increases in strength, it dries the land, allowing it to be haunted by the call of ravens, the bird that is often associated with death in many cultures around the world.

Within contemporary witchcraft, the God, in his guise as the Sun or Solar God, is now at the height of his power.  Ever increasingly, he has been letting us know of his strength.  This show comes at a cost and while it will be some time before we actually notice, from the summer solstice onwards, the power of the Sun God slowly begins to wane.  This darkness, however, is not perceived in a negative sense, because it is needed to ensure the fertility of the land.  Still, in doing so, the Sun God sows the seeds of his own death.

The Goddess is depicted as either showing the early signs of pregnancy from her union at Bealtaine with the God (the fertility cycle of the divine does not necessarily follow the same allotted time of humans), glowing as many expectant mothers do, or her pregnancy is well advanced (as depicted by the Empress found within many tarot decks).  All around us the earth shows its magnificent bounty, full of life and busy with activity.  Flowers are in full bloom, bees buzz around the garden busily collecting pollen for the production of honey.  It is said a sign of a healthy garden is the number of bees that it attracts.

The Goddess, in her aspect as the Mother, Gaia, is on the verge of sharing her bounty with us.  However, there is also a death in life aspect at this time of the year that is often overlooked. We humans, regardless of our spiritual beliefs in the afterlife, still tend to fear the process of death, the transition from one plane to another.

Within the bountiful produce are the seeds that will sustain life, feeding us throughout the colder months as well as being available for planting in the Spring to repeat the cycle.  After the pollination and fertilization of the beautiful flowers we so admire, they will die.  But this is the natural cycle of things, of life.  In their death, the flowers release their previous seeds that fall to earth in order to create new life.  It can be difficult to connect to the fact that the time of waxing is coming to an end and the waning time is almost upon us when we are surrounded by so much bounty and life seems to be at its fullest.

Summer is a time of beauty and love, energy and strength, and rejoicing in the warmth of the sun.  Daylight saving time encourages us to spend longer hours outdoors, often socialising with family and friends.  As we enjoy this carefree time, celebrating life and the triumph of light, we do not want to think about the rest of the cycle, that of death, as we will be reminded of that only too readily when the temperatures continue to climb skyward.

The above is an excerpt from Dancing the Sacred Wheel by Frances Billinghurst.

The summer solstice is a time to reflect on the growth of the season – not only the seeds that have been planted within the earth but also those planted within our own souls.  It is also a time of cleansing and renewal, a time of celebrating creativity in all its many expressions, as well as joyous love and growth that surrounds us.

Summer Solstice
(by Cheryl Ban, 1998)
Brown earth lay blanketed beneath
the weight of white snow
People hold within their heart
the promise of light
Light that overcomes the night
Igniting fire
That burns a hole
all the way to the hot dry summer fields
The hope that the light holds in winter
becomes in summer
the knowing of the sun’s pathway back again
We poise on the edge of these great turnings
Balanced night and day
Ah for a moment …

Chinese Whispers and Black Salt

In this modern age where everyone is offering magical advice, how do you know what is genuine and what has fallen victim of what I classify as “Chinese Whispers Syndrome” (a childhood game where a “secret” was whispered to one person who then whispered it to another which went around the circle to the last person who would vocalised the “secret” hoping it would reflect the original whisper). This year (probably reflecting the global situations and increase in social media usage), I have noticed an increasing about of “sage advice” about magical practices or techniques often gleamed from other spiritual traditions being incorporated into witchcraft practices. While I personally have not issues with adapting such magical practices or techniques, after all this is what my style of contemporary witchcraft is about, my issue is where the adaption is based on a lack of knowledge and understanding of the original magical practice or technique. I will use “black salt” as an example.

In a number of folk magic traditions, black salt (also known as “Sal Negro” and “Drive Away Salt” and should not be confused with the Indian black salt which is a mineral salt used for cooking) is a special salt blend used to drive away evil. It can be sprinkled around your property to keep your home safe from intruders or troublemakers, and even sprinkled in the footprints of someone who is bothering you, to make them go away.

Black salt can also be placed in closets and dark corners in a room to drive away evil or negative spirits. You can even sprinkle it on the floor and then sweep the salt out through the front door for a cleansing of your home or apartment. This protective salt can be added to witch’s bottles and alternatively, sprinkled in a circle around the perimeter of your house for protection, to banish evil and also to cleanse from any negativity.

More traditional recipes instruct that black salt includes salt (preferably sea salt), scrapings from a cast iron skillet or pot, ash from your fire pit (ritual fire), maybe some herbs (such as black pepper) and even powered black food colouring (although black salt is not necessarily black in colour). These ingredients are blended during certain phases of the moon and have specific chants and prayers recited over them for a period of time.

Modern alternatives to making black salt include adding additional protective herbs and even essential oils to the mix, such as rosemary (protection from harmful people or toxic relationships), cayenne pepper (dispel anger or toxic relationships), cinnamon (protection from a broken heart or pain in a romantic relationship) or even lavender (to block invisible ickiness).

I recently came across someone advising their followers to make black salt from Himalayan salt and the left over ashes from burnt incense sticks. This advice I personally consider to be a prime example of “Chinese Whispers Syndrome” in that while Himalayan salt does offer protection, this is more commonly during astral travel or when spiritually travelling between worlds as opposed to protecting your physical space. Sea salt on the other hand is used in purification and cleansing baths, as well as to help release and cleanse negative feelings. Further, I question the use of burnt incense ash as this has little if anything to do with ritual fire ashes or cast iron scrapings.

In this modern age, anything appears to go. While this may be true to a certain level, when you are making products or utilising practices or techniques that come from other spiritual traditions, ensure that you actually have some knowledge of what is required to ensure your success.

Using Magical Condition Oils

Within specific traditions, “Condition Oils” are specifically crafted oils that are used to dress candles, anoint the body, anoint magical or spiritual tools used within rituals and ceremonies, as well as added to baths and even floor washes.  These oils are usually made from a base oil to which specific herbs, roots, flowers and other curios are added.

If the oils are added to the body, then they are more commonly applied to pulse points, or a specific body part. They should not however been taken internally – unless, of course, the maker specifically advises they are safe to do so.

When it comes to dressing candles, it is generally considered that if you wish to draw some thing or situation to you, that you rub the candle oil from the base to the top of the candle. this is so when the candle burns, it burns towards you. If you wish to remove something from you, then the candle is dressed from the top down to the base.

Condition Oils also are believed to add power to petitions. In this case, five dots of oil are placed in the corners of a piece of paper upon which the petition is written or drawn upon, with the fifth dot in the centre. The petition is then either burnt or a candle of appropriate corresponding colour is placed on top of the petition and then burnt.

Some Condition Oils, such as the Fiery Protection Oil (which is for sale through the LunaNoire Creations store), are made to steep over a period of time during which special prayers are chanted to add further power to the oil.