History, Significance and Ritual
The moon in all it’s phases have long been important and significant to Pagans. Many call the Moon GrandMother Moon who shines over Mother Earth and watches over her during the night. Only giving way to Father Sun during the day. He is seen as Mother Earth’s consort and he watches over her during the day.
Of course GrandMother Moon can show up in daylight hours, to keep an eye on her grand children from time to time as well.
Pagans have honored the full moon in ritual, both private and public for eons. We have acknowledged her influence over our lives each month and used her light for varying reasons and in varying ways.
In some myths and regional stories, GrandMother Moon turns blue on rare occasions. The reasons for change vary from place to place and culture to culture. In days of old, bad weather was often an omen that Mother Earth was angry or being harmed or attacked in some way. If this happened during a blue moon, the legends explained that GrandMother Moon would become sad (blue) because her daughter had been wounded.
In other stories, GrandMother Moon becomes concerned that Mother Earth was sad over some tragic event that befalls her consort. Or still other variations, GrandMother turned blue because she herself had become angered by some event. These stories are unique because the hue of the Blue Moon is even more rare than the blue moon event itself.
What Is A Blue Moon
It doesn’t happen very often. About once every 2.5 years. But when a single month displays two full moons within its span of days, the second full moon is known as the Blue Moon. Such is the case for August 2012 when on August 1st we saw the Full Fish Moon, and on August 31st we experienced the 2nd Full Moon Phase, the Blue Moon. You can also view this years calendar of Moon Phases and events to help plan for your next ritual.
The phrase doesn’t really signify the color of the moon, but rather it’s rare occurrence. Although the moon can take on a blue hue from atmospheric interference. The ash and soot from a volcanic eruption or wild fire can distort the atmosphere enough to cause the moon to look blue.
Historically full moons have been given names for eons. Depending on culture and location, ancient people named their moons in accordance with the season or activities of that time of the year.
The Algonquin Indians often referred to this second moon as the “Full Red Moon”. So it’s important for people to remember that as with anything that has a Correspondence of This and That, there are many moon names based on which list you follow. There isn’t one universal list of Moon Names.
The History Of “Blue Moon”
It is generally believed that in the construct of Folklore, a moon that came too early had no name, and was called a blue moon, retaining the correct seasonal timings for future moons.
The original idea is reported by The Farmers’ Almanac who define a blue moon as an extra full moon that occurred in a season. One season normally displays three full moon cycles. If a season had four full moons, then the extra full moon was named a blue moon.
According to Wikipedia:
Another interpretation uses another Middle English meaning of belewe, which (besides the color or emotion of being “blue”) can mean “betray”. By the 18th century, before the Gregorian calendar computus was out of sync with the actual seasons and the moon, ..spring would [occasionally] have begun before the computus put the first spring moon [in its proper place].
Thus, the clergy needed to tell the people whether the full moon was the Easter moon or a false one, which they may have called a “betrayer moon” (belewe moon). [If there was an additional moon] people would have had to continue fasting for another month in accordance with the season of Lent.
But even this isn’t the first original use of “blue moon”.
The earliest recorded English usage of the term “blue moon” was in a 1524 pamphlet violently attacking the English clergy, entitled “Rede Me and Be Not Wrothe”.
According to Bartleby‘s:
[The] “Rede me and be not wrothe”, [was] composed by two converted Greenwich friars, William Roy and Jerome Barlow, in Strassburg, [and reprinted] in 1528 [as a religious protest].
There is debate over the translation of course. Some say the title of the pamphlet translates to “Read me and be not angry”; while others suggest it means “Counsel Me and Be Not Angry”.
And of course those in the pagan community suggest that “rede” refers to “Belief” as in a Troth of faith and the title means “Believe me and be not angry”.
The entire pamphlet says:
Rede me and be nott wrothe,
Even if you swap out some of the questionable translations you’re still left with the same general meaning. Blue or Betrayer the poem still fits the issue of when/where the extra full moon is placed in spring.
Wikipedia also explains:
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Maine Farmers’ Almanac listed blue moon dates for farmers. These correspond to the third full moon in a quarter of the year when there were four full moons (normally a quarter year has three full moons). Full moon names were given to each lunation in a season. The seasons used were those of the mean tropical year, equal in length, as opposed to the astronomical seasons which vary in length because the earth’s speed in its orbit round the sun is not uniform.
Folklorist Phillip Hiscock, a professor at Memorial University in Newfoundland has researched the meaning of the phrase “once in a blue moon” through the centuries. He gives the credit to Cardinal Wolsey (c. March 1473 – 29 November 1530) who was Henry VIII’s notorious adviser. “Cardinal Wolsey writes about his intellectual enemies who ‘would have you believe the moon is blue.'” Lending credence to the concept that a Blue Moon related to a betrayer.
Hiscock explains that over the following 300 years, the phrase slowly evolved to become what we know of it today “once in a long period of time”. It was most probably used as slang on the streets of England, but didn’t reappear again in writing or literature until 1821 in a book about working class London. In this book, Hiscock notes that the author places a note to explain the meaning behind the “blue moon slang” saying it means in a long time. The notation suggests the phrase may have been used by the working class, but had not yet reached the common use in higher society.
In 1869 the phrase reappears in an autobiography of a shipwreck survivor who writes “that indefinite period known as a ‘blue moon.'” but again the phrase is given with a notation by the editor. Finally in 1871 the phrase appears without any notation when a fictional character is admitting that she has eaten “a fruit pastry once in a blue moon.”
It took a little over 300 years for the idea of a “blue moon” to evolve into the common phrase we know today. The betrayer fell by the wayside and the rarity finally took precedence. By the early 1900s the phrase had crossed through Europe and over the Atlantic to the United States to relate to absurdities and impossibilities of something occurring. The phrase “once in a blue moon” finally became a common statement that refers to an event that will take place on very rare occasions.
The Blue Moon of Today
Folklore, like words, are living things and they evolve over time. Today, the Blue Moon is also associated with the 2nd full moon of a month. Not as the seasonal “extra” moon to correct the calendar.
Relating the blue moon to a seasonal correction resulted from the use of inaccurate calendars. Specifically the Julian Calendar. Not the Gregorian Calendar we use today. And if you think about it, the Gregorian Calendar wasn’t introduced until 1582 and wasn’t used throughout Europe until the mid1700s. It wasn’t even in world-wide use until 1927 when Turkey finally adopted it’s use. But while the Gregorian Calendar was becoming the favorable time keeper, the all this seasonal correction stuff sort of “fixed itself”. The idea of a correctional seasonal event was no longer needed.
The use of the seasonal Blue Moon fell out favor and evolved into a very rare event. As the calendar migrated around the world, the concept of the blue moon also evolved. Instead of a timing or planting tradition, it became more spiritual and took on a more mystical or magikal meaning. This was appealing to our early pagan ancestors who were at the time being persecuted by the Church during the Inquisition. The Blue Moon could easily be shared as code for a special ritual gathering, that would have certainly been held in secret.
The moon has always been important to Pagans, we know her as Grand Mother Moon who watches over Mother Earth when Father Sun is sleeping. But the idea that the Blue Moon was a magikal time came late to the Pagan community. There is no hard evidence to the date this happened, because much of pagan tradition is lost to secrecy in order to avoid persecution. But there are texts from the coven Golden Dawn in the late 1800’s that claim to point toward a document from 1748 describing the 2nd moon in a single month as the Blue Moon.
To be honest, I haven’t found this evidence. And I have looked. So right now this is rumor that can’t be substantiated. I’m more inclined to believe the famous Golden Dawn group wanted to establish this tradition and so they did. It wasn’t beyond Alister Crowley to create a “tradition” on the spot. But he often had good reason or inspiration to do so,which is why much of his writing has been incorporated into modern pagan practices by other practitioners like Gerald Gardner.
Today, in our time, it’s widely accepted that the 2nd Full Moon of a single Month is called a Blue Moon. Even NASA says it in their 2012 article Watch Out For the Blue Moon –
“For the second time this month, the Moon is about to become full. There was one full Moon on August 1st/2nd, and now a second is coming on August 31st. According to modern folklore, whenever there are two full Moons in a calendar month, the second one is “blue.””
The Significance Of A Blue Moon
In the pagan community, the origins behind the meaning of a Blue Moon vary. And the tales or origins; of these meanings cannot be substantiated. However, some believe this rare extra full moon holds the knowledge of the Grandmother Goddess (or the Crone) and therefore contains the wisdom of the 3-fold energy. This can be associated with the Goddess in her 3 forms of Maiden, Mother, Crone.
It can also be associated with the 3 natures of self as Mind, Body, Spirit. In later evolutions as paganism began to be influenced by Christianity, this moon was associated with the Divine Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In some pagan traditions the phases of the moon represent the transition of knowledge within the Goddess. The quarter moons representing the Maiden Goddess, the New Moon the Mother Goddess, the Full Moon the Grand Mother Goddess (which maybe one reason we refer to the moon as “Grandmother Moon”. The Blue Moon then is seen as the transition of the Grandmother or Crone to the Divine level of existence. She becomes an expression of evolution of wisdom, as well as an example of the circle of life. She moves from a tangible wise old Goddess to a supreme spiritual and Divine force within the universe.
Another view is that the Blue Moon represents a time of heightened or clearer communication between our physical being and the higher levels of Divine knowledge or energy. It can also be viewed as providing a stronger link between the physical (masculine energy) and the spiritual (feminine energy) within the self.
These links to higher Divine knowledge and higher or heightened connections between the physical and spiritual bodies make communication with spirit easier. Individuals are more apt to yield insightful and enlightened information that can be applied to their physical and spiritual paths during this special full moon phase. Because of this, a blue moon event in the world of Pagan Metaphysics is a very special event that is honored with great reverence.
Celebrating The Full Blue Moon
Full Moons can be celebrated 3 days prior and 3 days after the actual astronomical observance. This is also true for the Blue Moon. In fact, some spiritual groups hold a week long festival to honor this special event. In some cases the festival is purely celebratory, telling tales, dancing, eating, drinking and in general having a good time.
In some communities this period takes on very reverent and reserved expressions of spirituality. It’s less a “celebration” and more of an opportunity to align the physical self with that of the Divine presence in ones life for serious spiritual work.
In either case, the Blue Moon is a time of honoring the spirit within and the connection between ourselves and the higher Divine consciousness. Whether the pagan practitioner sees that Divine as a God/Goddess or an encompassing “All Divine Universe”, this time is used to connect and feel that divine energy within your being.
The idea is to re-energize the soul and the spiritual mission of the individual. It is celebrated with meditation, introspection, a review of what has been done, where one has come from, what work has been done and then analyzed for what needs to be done to move forward toward greater enlightenment. So even in those celebrations that include frivolity and fun, some time is still spent in quite reflection and introspection.
You can make a ritual as simple or as elaborate as you desire. Sit down and meditate or create a whole process of activities, it’s entirely up to you. But for these special events I recommend the following for the individual or group practice.
Preparing The Body
Whether you hold a private ritual or one in a group, the first steps should be preparing yourself for the ceremony. Begin with taking a cleansing shower or bath. The idea of this step is to relax and cleanse the body and the mind, by washing away the stress and anxiety of the day. In this situation, the water becomes a representation of flowing energy that cleanses the worry from the mind, and effects of the world upon your physical body. It helps to visual the water flowing over your body washing it clean, and through the inside of your body from head to toe, washing away the unwanted energy from mind and spirit.
My personal preference is to take an aromatherapy bubble bath. Which season the Blue Moon falls in dictates which aroma might be used, as a means to connect the ritual cleansing to the energy of the season. For instance, in the spring you might choose scented lilies or roses, in the summer lavender, in the fall pumpkin and spice, in the winter warm camomile. What ever scent you associate with spiritual peace and protection for that particular season will work. Remember this step is about cleansing you through mind/body/spirit, so it’s a very personal thing and up to you.
Preparing For Ritual
Once cleansing has been completed, what you wear is the next thing to pay attention to. If you’re working this ritual alone, then dress comfortably in something you consider personal and spiritual. It can be anything from dressing in your favorite formal cloths, to a special attractive pair of pajamas. For couples who are conducting a ritual together, consider planning out your ritual apparel together to enhance the flow of connection and energy. And yes, if you like going skyclad you can certainly do that to in the confines of whatever legal issues might need to be observed.
Tools For Ritual
What you use for your ritual altar is again up to you. You can simply light a candle or set up an altar of your favorite things. If you use a candle it should be a white candle to represent the Divine in your life, and a blue candle to represent your inner spiritual connection to the higher spiritual mind and Divine consciousness.
I like to include an object to represent the Blue Moon. That can be a picture, a white or blue crystal ball or a statue that includes a full moon. I have a nice statue of a howling wolf with a carved moon coming up behind a hill in the background.
For a formal ritual, you’ll need a goblet, a pitcher of wine or fruit juice, a plate or bowl with fruit, meat or cheese and crackers. Or some form of food/dessert that reflects the season when the Blue Moon occurs. Such as pumpkin pie for an October Blue Moon. I also recommend a nice piece of meditation music. Don’t forget your grimoire (a book of shadows) to record your evenings thoughts and experiences.
There are a ton of ways to open a ritual. Some begin by opening their spiritual space, which can be a small area to a large circle. You can define a circle with a rope made of cotton and as you create the circle make a statement that this is a divine circle, cleared of negative and unwanted energies, protected by Divine spirit and prepared by spiritual hands. Step inside the circle and close it to the outside world. Typically the door way is closed by laying a broom across the opening, or a ceremonial sword.Once the circle is closed, a statement is made “And the Divine Circle is open for spiritual work”.
Begin your ritual with a prayer to call in the Divine force in your life. For some this could be calling the four corners, or the four directions. As you light the white candle, state your opening prayer which should include asking your spirit guides and spiritual teachers to come help clear the area, set protection and assist you in this ritual. As you light the blue candle, call upon the Divine as you see it, the GrandMother Goddess, the All, the Thunderbeings, whatever that force is you.
State Your Intent
Make a statement that honors the Blue Moon. You can write a poem and recite it here, or simply say what you think about the moon, its special energy and what you want to do or accomplish during this ritual.
A Full Moon is best used for banishing unwanted influences in your life. Think of it as ‘shining a light’ on issues or challenges. It can also be a good time for creating protection magik and performing divination. You can use this time for releasing old patterns or issues, and open the door for healing by giving energy to positive patterns you’ll put in place.
You can use the Blue Moon for all these things as well, with an emphasis on the spiritual communication or perspective. That means you can ask the Divine to provide you with spiritual insight that can help you understand why certain things have happened at this time in your life. If some good things have occurred, then try to discover how you can take full advantage of the opportunities on your doorstep. If you face hardships, then you can use this time to gain insight into the choices you made that brought you to this point and how you can resolve the challenges and move on to a better place.
Conduct Your Ceremony
At this time, some people like to conduct or play out a “skit” so to speak that represents bringing the spiritual and physical minds together as one.
Usually some form of incantation is recited during this process of enactment that calls upon the union of the mind/body to the spirit and Divine. Again these can be statements, verses or poems. The idea is to define the importance of balance between the physical and spiritual in our every day lives and how we honor that connection.
In the early days of my practice, my Clan represented this energy in two methods. As a group ritual, the Elder Shaman (or High Priestess) places a wooden ball into a fountain. The ball should be about the size of a baseball and the fountain can be a deep dish bird bath, as long as it’s deep enough for the ball to float. The ball represented the physical nature and the water represents the flow of Divine Energy. As the ball floated around in the water, the Shaman would lead the group in a visualized meditation about 10 minutes long that guided the conscious mind up to the higher spiritual consciousness. Whatever is done here is short and designed to heighten the awareness and connection of the group or individuals for a deeper and longer personal meditation near the end of the ritual.
The second method involves all those present choosing a marble sized wooden ball. At this point in the ceremony, each person approaches a fountain and places their ball in the top-tier of the fountain. As the water flows, the balls trickle down to the next level and then again to another level. In this scenario, there should be 3 pools representing the 3 aspects of self and the Divine (mind/body/spirit or maiden/mother/crone). The flow represents the flow of life, physical and spiritual energy moving forward, leaving the negativity behind in the previous pool until it is purified and reaches the final Divine level of thought and existence. During this period of waiting for the balls to move, the meditation described above was conducted.
If your ritual is between you and your partner, this part of the ritual can be represented through sex magik as a representation of the physical (the masculine energy) merging with the spiritual (the feminine energy). It can also be a symbolic union by placing an athame (the masculine) into a chalice (the feminine).
If your chosen method of merging the spirit with the physical is by conducting a session of Divination, this is the place to do that.If you’re an individual, draw a spread of tarot for yourself. Or utilize whatever method of divination you prefer.
If you’re a couple, do a reading for each other. If you’re the leader of a group, consider using whatever form of divination you’re really good at to deliver an inspirational message.
If you’re an adept channel, you might conduct an evening with channeling and allow spirit to deliver a message or messages to those present.
Now is the time for the personal meditation. Even if you included a meditation earlier in the ritual lead by a Priest/Priestess, this is your chance to truly go within and merge your mind and body with your own higher consciousness and connect to the great Divine force in your life. Take the ideas of the intent that you started out with at the beginning of the ritual and put them into practice here. Your meditation should last at a minimum 20 minutes. The length however is really up to you; 20 minutes to an hour is sufficient.
Some groups like to end the meditation and provide 15min or so for everyone to write down their experience, messages, visions and insights before they forget them and before the ritual is formally closed.Others like to go around the circle and allow each person to share a small piece of what they felt, saw or heard if they desire to share.
I like both of these ideas, but I prefer the writing. Some people will receive personal messages that they don’t want to share. Some people simply don’t like to share. And if you have a lot of people present, sharing can take longer than the meditation did and by the time you get to the end, those people have forgotten what they experienced.
Make Your Offering and Say Your Thanks
Now is the time to prepare for closing your ritual. After your meditation share your ceremonial wine/juice. If you’re by yourself, drink half the goblet, and leave some as an offering. If you’re with a partner, share the drink, but leave a little for an offering.
If you’re in a group, some people leave this up to the Shaman/HighPriestess; while others encourage each member to bring their own ceremonial chalice to participate in the ritual. But again, the typical thing to do is drink half the offering and retain half for offering.
The chalice is held up with both hands and presented to the GrandMother Moon. This isn’t a toast where you raise your glass with one hand. It is an offering made in reverence and respect. Thanks is given for her participation and energy not only in this ritual, but in our lives each and every day.
Now the offering can be provided in many forms as well. I’ve seen some groups pour the liquid into a pit and buried at the end of the ritual. I’ve seen some groups pour the liquid into a pool of water, such as a pond, lake or even at the ocean. My personal preference is to pour the liquid into the bonfire. Make sure you have the right size fire for the number of people present. There’s nothing worse than a bunch of people putting out your ritual fire too soon.
If your ritual is indoors, and you have the luxury of a fireplace the fire idea works there too. Another option in this case is to prepare a ritualistic pot (like a large copper pot) to hold the offering which can be taken outside later to be buried or what have you.
Next you share the food you prepared. Typically, the ceremonial plate is held up with both hands and presented to the GrandMother Moon. Thanks is given for her influence in our lives on a physical level. And a statement is made honoring the work that has been done during this ritual. Basically you’re making a commitment to implement the spiritual insight you’ve received during your meditation into your physical life. It’s a promise not only to the Divine Goddess moon, but to your own higher spiritual being as well.
Again, consume half the item you’ve chosen and use the rest for an offering. Now this is why I like choosing fruit as an offering. You can share the offering in the same manner as the ceremonial wine. But I like preparing a decoration of flowers with the ritual offering and leaving the plate for the animals. This allows Mother Nature’s children (GrandMother Moon’s grand children) to have a special feast as a thank you for her presence.
Of course tossing the fruit into the bonfire is nice too, because it smells so good as it cooks. I’ve seen some groups do this, then gather around the bonfire, holding hands and watching the smoke of the cooked fruit rise into the sky and seeing it as the energy of the offering being taken to GrandMother moon directly.
Lastly it’s time to close the energy. For a couple or a group, hold hands and share your energy. An individual can simply clasp your hands and place them in your lap. I know people who like to conduct their ritual with a special stuffed animal who represents the child within or with their familiar in spirit, or their pet as company.
Whatever works for you. Remember there’s no right or wrong here. It’s your ritual, be innovative! Do what is comfortable to you. If you’re conducting this ritual for a group, make sure what you choose will also be comfortable for everyone present. Holding hands is really the best method for two or more people.
Make a statement of thanks to the Divine and especially to GrandMother Moon. Thank your spirit guides for coming and helping you. Make sure you say “I/we close this spiritual energy and release this circle of working.”
Close your circle by blowing out the candles and lifting the doorway to the outside physical world.
Make sure you take time after every ritual to record your experiences. Write down the items you used, the process you went through, what you felt and how you connected to the tools and the people/person/animals around you during the ritual. Keep a record of what you liked and what you’d like to change next time. Then remember that you recorded it and come back next time before you conduct a similar ritual to remind yourself of what you’d like to plan for the next ritual.
What ever you decide to do on the next Blue Moon ritual, make it something special and personal for you! You’re worth it and they don’t happen very often.
Many Blessings and Have Fun!
~ Springwolf 🐾
© 2012 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
You have a nice picture of a wooden chalice BUT it has a picture of a trap demon on the outside of the chalice. If you don’t believe me then look at the chalice close up!
Sometimes grain in the wood is simply grain in the wood. People see what they want to see. That doesn’t mean others see the same thing. How we see the world around us depends on the eyes we choose to see with. What I see is beautiful grain and a wolf head. My husband saw a “k” and my son sees a wolf in a full sprint.