As religions have developed and progressed over thousands of years, almost every one has events associated with the moon. The phases of the moon represent the evolution from life to death, and the process of being reborn. They take the same path as life on earth and the ascension to a higher state of consciousness. Religions that incorporate moon worship pay great attention to this cycle, and festivals and celebrations take place during a specific phase, each of which releases a different type of energy.
One of the religions most widely associated with moon worship is Wicca. In ancient times practitioners would gather during the full moon, to worship the moon goddess, and perform powerful spells. Rituals are still an important part of Wicca, and the the phases of the moon directly affect spell casting. The spells associated with each phase are:
Full moon – When the moon is at its peak, the energy is the most powerful. During this time spells to fulfil dreams and wishes, encourage abundance and a bountiful harvest, to promote sexuality and ensure protection, can all be performed.
Waning moon – As the moon slowly fades, spells for releasing and letting go, clearing old energy and letting in new, and undoing bindings should be cast.
Dark moon – Lasting between 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 days, the dark moon refers to the period when the moon is not visible against the backdrop of the sun. Spells associated with this phase include those for rest, releasing things completely, divination and contacting the guru within.
New moon – As the moon is being reborn, it becomes the time to perform spells of new beginnings, hope and faith.
Waxing moon – The moon becomes full by growing from right to left. This promotes creativity, growth and learning, strength, positive transformations and accomplishments.
Many ancient cultures had a moon goddess, including: The Romans who referred to this deity as Luna, Lucina or Diana, Greece where she was known as Selene or Artemis, and Ancient Egypt who worshipped her as Isis. The Celts also linked their four fire festivals to the moon’s phases: Bride was celebrated at the new moon, Imbolc during the waxing, Beltaine at the time of the full moon and Samhain during the waning period.
Modern religions also base special events on the lunar cycle. These include:
Easter Sunday – One of Christianity’s most important celebrations, this holiday represents the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon, following the beginning of the Spring Equinox.
Jewish Passover – This prominent festival is always celebrated during the full moon.
Diwali – This Hebrew festival of lights occurs at the new moon, whenever the sun enters Libra.
Chinese Moon Festival – During the Tang Dynasty, the Chinese created a holiday to worship the moon. This festival takes place each year on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, and worshippers go to high places to view and honour the lunar goddess.