The Contemporary New England Witch

The Contemporary New England Witch
Author Ms.Faith

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Winter Solstice, Full Moon & A Lunar Eclipse Oh My!

 Happy Yule, most especially to you!,

Well, in the world of astronomy an awful lot has occurred just recently.  This morning, in the wee hours of morning, for New England, a lunar eclipse occurred. According to written history this has not happened since 1632, a lunar eclipse falling on a winter solstice that is.  We also have a full moon today, and according to Llewellyn's Witches Calendar, this is the last wishing moon of 2010. 

Now, many have asked regarding the hidden mysteries and magicks to be found in the lunar eclipse. The eclipses may have significance today for those who wish to create something magickal around it, but for ancient man, although observed for millennium, the eclipses, both solar and lunar had little spiritual significance, except for the fear, awe and terror it would inflict on the common man. 

The majority of the civilized ancient worlds of Greece, Rome, Egypt  and the Celtic nations, was separated into two distinct classes of 'knowledge'.   You had the common man, who believed in the world around him, depended upon the consistency of the natural world and who applied superstition, legend and mythology to that which he could not explain.

Then you had the 'educated class'. This was made up of the scholars, the alchemists, learned men who discussed science and mathematics, Druid's who were both Priests and scientists, philosophers, statesmen of various educations.  The educated class knew of the sciences and astronomy that explained and gave rationale to eclipses and astronomical phenomena.

 It is interesting that in all the cultures, the Druid's included, there was a stark separation of who had the knowledge and how they used it.  The common man was made reliant on the learned men to have their fears alleviated and there is much historical record pointing to the fact that the uneducated and superstitious were kept that way deliberately. Deliberately so that the prestige and power that went automatically with the stations of the learned men would continue, and the knowledge they had would continue to be valued. 

A concept called 'lack of enculturation' is considered the prevailing reason for this theory.  Enculturation is the knowledge and understanding that comes from experiencing and living amongst a culture usually from birth. Imagine waking up tomorrow in a country where you do not speak the language and have no knowledge of what is going on, what is expected of you or anything that is happening. Imagine how confused and out of place you would feel.  Well, for ancient man a similar aspect happened in regards to scientific knowledge and understanding.

While a few went on become educated and gain knowledge and understanding of higher principles the common man was left with his superstitions and beliefs. Men of higher learning would predict eclipses, and other natural phenomenon but in all the cases of ancient cultures I've studied I can find none where there was any significant attempt to educate the common man and thus alleviating his fears,  but rather the opportunity was used to keep a separation between the classes and thus keep the economic, social and political status quo.

Aristotle was the first to record that 'wisdom is the measure of one's knowledge of the natural causes of things" from Aristotle's Metaphysics and over 100 years later Seneca recorded  "Since the cause of being afraid is not to know, isn't it very worthwhile to know, so we can be unafraid?" in his Natural Questions Book 6 34-5.Yet even these great men kept their leanings and distribution of knowledge amongst their contemporaries.

So what this means is the average ancient person,  when the eclipses would occur,  would be terrified, and in fear of the earth coming to an end.  Then when the early Christian church started to discuss things of this nature they were against the learned class as they spoke of natural law outside of what the church taught about God's law and well, the scientists, alchemists and philosophers had to disguise themselves for the next few hundreds of years, or risk being burnt alive, beheaded or other tortures. Many of the educated men hid away while the wise women, who appeared uneducated to the higher class were considered by the church as having dangerous knowledge and targeted for several hundreds of years.

In many ancient cultures around the world, when an eclipse would happen all sorts of legends were built up around it, primarily that the moon or sun were fighting against an opponent and the earth's people would yell, shoot arrows at the sun or moon, clang loudly anything that would make a noise, all in the hopes of scaring the threat away and bringing back their moon or sun.  This was successful, to the ancients. It had to be, the moon or sun always came back, and after just a short while.  

Whereas today there is much magick that can happen at the moons, both full and new, and of course the celebration of the Solstice is long and rich in tradition, but the eclipse doesn't add anything extra or special historically speaking, so its up to you to determine it to be so.  Astrologically there's all sorts of information and beliefs surrounding an eclipse, but for me, a simple witch from New England I find it a curious phenomenon, decidedly interesting but I do not plan any magick for such an occasion.  It really is too rare an event to build up any serious magickal manifestation for me.

Just as a Sabbat supersedes an esbat so that the Sabbat celebration sets aside any magickal workings I might have done during the moon, so it also to me, supersedes an eclipse. Having said that its important to know that many witches choose to conduct magick on Sabbats, eclipses or anytime for that matter. If they do, it must be right for them.

For me, I'm celebrating the Winter Solstice, my Yule tonight.  Since we have three days after a full moon to conduct magick, I may return tomorrow to do a spell utilizing the aspect of the wishing moon.  This last full moon of 2010 is a wishing moon. Hmmm, I like that better than a star somehow. 

So, what will I wish on the moon tomorrow?   

Peace and Happiness

© 2010 Enchantments, LLC Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. 

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