Working With the Dark Moon

When I first started on the path of witchcraft I was told that no White Witch would ever Work a spell at the dark of the moon. I was told that time was reserved for those who walked the left-hand path, casting manipulative spells and using sinister forces to work their will on others. And if you think I just used a lot of loaded language, you would be correct. What I came to learn through following my own intuition, with a few helpful guides, was that the Moon’s other face can be powerful and transformative, which can feel very scary. What I was told wasn’t wrong, just very steeped in superstition and fear.

The dark moon is the time when, astronomically speaking, the moon lies between the earth and sun and is completely in shadow, receiving no light from the sun, and therefore not visible to the naked eye. (On most calendars this is called the new moon, but that time does not truly occur until a few days later when a thin sliver of moon is visible once again.) The dark moon happens at the time opposite the full moon, easily seen on any calendar that shows the waxing and waning cycle (a useful, if not necessary, tool for a witch who cannot actually see the cycle for herself). Do not confuse this with moon void of course, which is truly a bad time for spellwork (there isn’t any lunar energy to work with). If she is allowed a natural menstrual cycle, women may follow a lunar cycle, ovulating and at the height of fertility at the full moon, and then shedding her blood at the dark moon. For every woman, menstruation is always a good time to withdraw and go within, to look upon her darker self with soft eyes and a warm heart.

The dark moon is a doorway to the underworld. All of the deities associated with the dark and the underworld are appropriate to work with during the dark moon, as well as crossroads and ancestors. The Graces (or Fates), Hecate, Morrighan, Cerridwen, Orisis, and Erishkgel are all examples, and there seem to be more Goddesses than Gods; perhaps a legacy of a polarity between the dark/lunar/ feminine and the light/solar/masculine? I, personally work with Mercury in His aspect of psychopomp, traveler between the Underworld and our realm. Most Deities have a Dark side you can work with, so although you may want to choose new ones for specific Work, it is not necessary to find new God/desses.

The gift of the dark moon is that of soul-searching. It is a time to listen, integrate, and set intentions that will bring you into harmony with yourself during the waxing Moon. I, and through me my coven and class, have worked with the dark moon as part of our annual cycle of rituals for more than thirteen years now and I believe the dark moon rituals are the most transformative ones we hold. We believe there must be balance in witchcraft: within/without, light/dark, male/female, and so on and so forth. We don’t just do sabbats, but also esbats; and if we do full moon rituals, we must do dark moon rituals as well. So we created a specific cycle of five rituals, done during the winter, starting with the first dark moon after Samhain. In that ritual we meet the Dark Goddess in Her aspect as Crone and are reborn from Her cauldron, a small initiation for a group who has been together for several months. Over the following four lunations we use guided meditation within a ritual framework to go within and explore aspects of our shadow self. Always with a Guide, and always with time to explore the meaning of what we have learned. These ritual explorations take place within a circle cast widdershins, and gives us the opportunity to explore how the energy feels compared to deosil. Always our emphasis is on looking within and listening to what we and S/He tells us, what we need to know at this time and in this place.

The dark moon is a glorious time for spellwork involving cursing (yes, I said it) and curse-breaking, unraveling previous spells, unbinding, and banishing. It is an excellent time to work spells involving breaking addictions. A quick example would be to create sacred space and then force all of your negative thoughts and energy regarding your addiction into an egg. Cry and bathe the egg in your tears, scream and let the sound cover the shell completely. Take a magic marker and write all over the egg, color it black even, still pouring all of your addiction out of you and into the egg. When you are done, wrap it in a paper towel and then in a paper bag. Carefully take it to a crossroads and throw it as hard as you can into the center. Immediately turn and walk away. Do not look back.

My personal preference is to use it to work with the shadow self and to find balance. Part of the power of the dark Moon is to breakdown old systems and let go along with a review of how we’ve been living and what we believe. We then can plant new seeds and watch them manifest at the full moon (or later in the year). The phrase I use is “I set the intention in the dark of the moon, to . . .” This is a time for looking at what things about ourselves that might be banished (habits, perhaps?) making room for new things to embrace and integrate into our personality. Journaling at this time of the month allows for a new perspective, a different kind of introspection and wisdom.

Finally, the dark moon is a wonderful time to look into the void, into the unknown, to find the truth hidden in the darkness. This is the time to work on psychic powers or past life memories to help better understand current difficulties. If nothing else, it is a perfect time for divination. Look up when the moon is at its darkest and gather your favorite divinatory tool and a journal. For me its tarot cards, but I have also had excellent results from the pendulum, especially when doing past life work. The most important part of divination is at the outset: asking the question. “should” and “will” are poor openers , better instead to tap into the Deity’s special ability to know far more than you ever could and ask for information. “What is the most likely outcome?” is an excellent question, or “Tell me about X.” But my personal favorite is “What do I need to know right now?” Then layout your cards, dangle your pendulum, throw the bones, dice, or runes, and listen to what Deity has to say to you. Follow the tangled path through the hedgerow and into another plane. Thread the maze back through your lives, following karmic ties and patterns to unravel the meaning you needs to know now to understand underlying patterns you didn’t see previously.

Working with the dark of the moon is to work with her hidden side, and your own. It is to travel the inner curve of the spiral, a time to work with our Shadow self, and to plant the seeds that will manifest at her fullness. It is a path as old as our time on earth and as familiar as the stars, glowing in the moonless sky. I wish you deep knowledge in your journey!

A Dark Moon Spell to Bring Balance
You will need:
3 small black taper candles
A round mirror at least 6 inches in diameter
Small cauldron or fireproof container
Small piece of parchment paper
Writing instrument
A mixture of the following herbs: Clove, Mugwort, Bloodroot, Wormwood.

Turn off all of the lights. The only light should come from natural sources.
Cast your circle as usual, and place the round mirror on the center of your altar.
Place the 3 black candles in a triangle around the mirror, one candle at the top and the others at the left and right bottom of the mirror.
Place your cauldron in the center of the mirror.
Sprinkle herb mixture in and around the cauldron.
Light the 3 candles.
Take several slow, deep breaths and ease into a meditative state. Reach out to your personal deities or spirit guides and ask Them to guide you in examining your own dark nature. Go within and examine your personality. Look at your habits or addictions, as well as anything you may feel ashamed of or embarrassed about. What aspects of yourself do you hide from others, and why? Don’t rush this process, it needs time.
Write “Healing and Balance” on the piece of parchment paper. Hold the paper in your hands and say:
Darkness around me, darkness within
In darkness comes healing, balance begins.
Child of the Gods I am, in the Dark Moon’s light
My life is a dance of darkness and light.

Light the paper on fire and place it into the container, burning some of the herbs in the cauldron as well. (Make sure the paper is burned completely.)
Allow the three candles to burn completely down on their own.

Past Life Tarot Spread
A past-life tarot spread I have worked with for several decades uses four cards and comes from a conversation I had with the astrologer P.J. Tyler who first told me about the north and south nodes and their link to our past lives.
Card 1 represents a major unresolved (karmic) issue from a past life.
Card 2 represents a hidden element of your present life that relates to the incident of card 1.
Card 3 represents the outcome of this karmic issue if you do nothing further. If it is a ngative outcome, draw a fourth card.
Card 4 can show you how to pay your karmic debt and resolve this issue.

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