Most Wiccans and many other modern Pagans celebrate the full moon (see Full Moon Magic) as a time for working magic. Practices surrounding the dark moon, however, are more varied. Many do not mark this time at all. One couple I know uses it to revisit the events and issues of the past month and put them behind. One of my teachers feels a strong connection with the dark moon, and uses it for active magic in preference to the full moon. My own custom is to use this time for divination and introspection.
I prefer the term “dark moon”, even though astronomers (and most calendars) note it as “new moon”. In ancient times (and in societies where astronomy is still largely a matter of visual observation), the “new moon” referred to the first sighting of the young crescent moon in the evening sky, an event which is actually about two days after the “new moon” of modern astronomy, the time at which Moon and Sun are in conjunction and the moon’s visible disk is completely dark. Hence “dark moon” seems both more atmospheric and more literally accurate.
What is the energy of this time? With no moon visible in the sky, this is the time of darkest night, when the stars shine without competition and the nocturnal landscape becomes nearly invisible. Before modern lighting, the dark moon was a time when people avoiding traveling by night or doing other outdoor activities. Hence it can be seen as a time of turning inward.
Seeing the lunar cycle in terms of the triple goddess, this is the time when the goddess as crone dissolves into the abyss of death and mystery, before re-emerging as the maiden goddess of the waxing crescent moon. It represents the darkness into which all lives lead, and out of which all lives come. Some have speculated that the three days between crucifixion and resurrection in Christian mythology reflect the three days of the lunar cycle in which the moon is dark.
Astrologically, this is the time of conjunction between Moon and Sun. Whereas the full moon finds the two luminaries in opposition, with maximum creative tension and contrast, the dark moon brings them together and fuses them into a single energy. This is the time when the boundaries between the conscious and the subconscious dissolve. This is why I see it as a time for divination, a time for bringing into the light of consciousness things that sleep in the deeps.
Tonight’s dark moon is in Aries. It is the first dark moon of the astrological year, and it brings Sun and Moon together to speak on the question of personal identity and course of action. If you’ve been feeling a little lost or unfocused lately, this is the time to seek a stronger sense of self.
The other planetary energies right now have been making it difficult for some of us to get a handle on who we are and what we should be up to. Mercury has left Venus behind and plunged into Aries, leaving our words disjointed from our feelings, however confidently we may speak. The Sun is caught between two problematic squares. Jupiter in Capricorn is opening up opportunities to become more visible and attract status and attention. Mars in Cancer is brooding, unsure whether our emotional ties are really safe and sound, but feels unable to fight effectively to protect them. Both these forces tug on our sense of identity and purpose, and just don’t seem to mesh with our core sense of purpose. (As with all transitory planetary energies, some people will experience them strongly, others weakly, and others not at all, depending on the placement of planets in one’s natal chart.)
If you are feeling a little lost and baffled about how to be yourself right now, use this dark moon to collect your self. Find a peaceful place, quiet your mind, and pull a tarot card or ask for an image of yourself as you truly are.