Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tonight's 'Supermoon'

As a practicing Wiccan, all New and Full Moons are sacred because they represent Goddess wisdom and power, and are generally honored by every Pagan each month with an Esbat rite.

Tonight, we in the Northern Hemisphere have the opportunity to celebrate a so-called "Supermoon," meaning that the Earth's satellite is closer to us than it has ever been.

Full Moon energy is generally used for banishing unwanted influences, protection and divination. A Full Moon is also a good time for planning, releasing and working backwards through your life. Full Moon magick can be done for seven days, three days before, the day of, and three days after the full moon.

The New Moon is used for personal growth, healing, the blessing of a new project, etc. Between the New and Full Moons is the phase called the "Waxing Moon." Magick for this phase includes attraction magick, increasing, growth, and gain.

Between the Full and New Moons is the phase called the, "Waning Moon." Magick for this phase includes banishing magick, such a loosing negative emotions, bad habits, etc.

Three days before the New Moon is known as the Dark Moon, because it is not visible in the sky. Traditionally, no magick is performed at this time. It is a time for rest.

Due to the rotation of the earth there are thirteen Full Moons, each carrying a traditional name, which can vary depending on the Pagan faith path that is followed. Here are the names that are often used:

January — Storm Moon
February — Chaste Moon
March — Seed/Stonehenge Moon
April — Hare Moon
May — Dyad Moon
June — Mead Moon
July — Wyrt (Green Plant) Moon
August — Barley Moon
September — Blood Moon
October — Snow Moon
November — Oak Moon
December — Wolf Moon

March 19: 1:10 p.m. — Full Moon

Seed/Stonehenge Moon

As a disabled Solitary Practitioner, I am often unable to celebrate outdoors. But, because of tonight's rare lunar event, I would suggest that everyone interested in celebrating try to do so under the Supermoon.

Casting a circle creates sacred space to worship, meditate, heal, create and commune with the spiritual realms. The Full Moon in Virgo occurs just before the Sacred Sabbat of Ostara, the time of the Spring Equinox. Ancient henges, temples and ziggurats feature archways that frame the light from the rising sun on Spring Equinox.

Although modern Pagans haven't built the next Stonehenge, gatherings begin with a circle-casting ritual to create sacred space that is oriented to and defined by the cardinal directions — just like the ancient henges.

The Solitary Practitioner, of which I am, may wish to obtain a floor mat and paint a cross on it. Orient the cross to the points of the compass and meditate on each quadrant's elemental association and symbols.

You might consider dedicating Spring gifts to each directional element as the circle is cast. In particular, honor the East and the equinoctial rising Sun. Emphasize that the circle is a sacred space where you have gone to encounter the divine, to rise above your daily self and connect with the seasons, the pulse of the turning Earth, the light of the revolving Moon. This bond is at the heart of Pagan and Earth spirituality.

The following is an example of an Esbat Ritual. Feel free to adapt it to your personal spiritual practice and path.

What you need:

— Altar
— Pentacle
— Athame or Wand
— Illuminator Candles
— Salt
— Cauldron with a Candle Inside
— Bowl of Water
— Incense
— Quarter Candles
— Chalice
— Bread

The Esbat

[Note: The following is an alternate example than what has been be presented in this blog before:]

— Establish the perimeter of the Sacred Circle
— Cleanse the ritual space by carrying a representation of the four elements around the area in a clockwise movement, working with one element at a time
— Open altar energies by blessing with those four elements
— Light the Illuminator Candles
— Cast the magick circle in the fashion that is routine to you
— Take the candle in the cauldron, light it and say, “I bring light and warmth to the sacred circle."
— Take the salt and place it on the pentacle using the Athame, place it in the salt and, invoking the spirit pentagram say, “I charge and bless this salt to purify and bless our sacred circle."
— Take the water and place it on the pentacle, invoking the spirit of the pentacle saying, “ I bless this water to protect and wash clean our sacred circle."
— Taking the salt put some in the water and place the Athame into the salted water. Do an additional invoking saying, "With water and salt to create Holy Water to make Holy our sacred circle."
— Now sprinkle the Sacred Water around the circle saying, “Here do I bring in earth and water into our sacred circle." Begin in the East and move around the whole circle.
— Next take the incense and place it on the pentacle, using the Athame to draw a spirit pentagram over the incense saying, “I bless this sacred smoke to purify this sacred circle."
— Ignite the incense
[Note: Remember that everything should be lighted from magick working candle within the cauldron.]
— Now take the incense and start in the East saying, "I bring fire and air to consecrate this sacred circle." Complete your progression around the circle.
— Take the candle and start in the East saying,” I bring light of Spirit into our sacred circle." Complete walking the circle.
—Now take the Athame/Wand, feeling the energy of the earth, draw it up inside you and direct it out your hand through the Athame/Wand to finish the final turn around the circle. This brings in the element of your own humanity to complete the circle cast.
— Light the quarter candles and call the quarters:

"In the East, is the beginning of all things, the first breath of life, the first thought of creation."

"In the South, holds the flame of idea the fire of inspiration and creation."

"In the West is the birth of that idea; the water of life in the womb of us all, there rests all birth and beginnings."

"In the North is solidity; it is the earth that grounds us to reality and brings us to form."

"Spirit is above us, below us and within us; it is the will and knowledge; it is our determination to see things through our inspiration; as it is also our guide and our protector."

— Invoke Deities
— State intent of ritual aloud
— Draw Down the Moon
— Perform the magickal work, which may include drawing and raising energy, then sealing the spellwork.
— Cakes and Ale:
Hold up a Chalice of wine (or some other liquid) between your hands to the sky, and say:

"Gracious Goddess of Abundance, Bless this wine and infuse it with your love. In your names, Mother Goddess and Father God, I bless this (beverage.)"

Hold up a plate of cakes (bread, biscuits) with both hands to the sky and say:

"Powerful God of the Harvest, Bless these cakes and infuse them with your love. In your names, Mother Goddess and Father God, I bless these cakes (or this bread)."

"Bright Blessings upon this Sacred World and your sister/brother (Insert your name). May you never hunger and never thirst."

— Thank the Deities, Qarters, release them humbly, and extinquish the quarter candles.
— Release magickal circle; seal altar energies, extinguish Illuminator Candles.
— Clean up, and offer the libation bowl out of doors to give back to Mother Earth.

I have included the following news story that defines and describes the "Supermoon." May all who follow a Pagan path have a Sacred and Memorable celebration!

The Supermoon

"Much ado has been made about the so-called "supermoon" that will take place tonight. Tonight's full moon will nearly coincide with the moon's arrival at the perigee point in its orbit around the Earth, resulting in the closest and biggest full moon in our sky since March 1993.

Or will it?

On Saturday night, the moon will arrive at perigee at 19:09 UT (3:09 p.m. Eastern Time). Its distance from the Earth at that moment will be 221,565 miles. But just over three years ago, on Dec. 12, 2008, which was also the night of a full moon, the moon reached perigee at 21:39 UT (4:39 p.m. Eastern Time) at a distance of 221,559 miles, about 6 miles closer than Saturday night's perigee distance.

So it seems Saturday night's supermoon will actually be just a little less super than the full moon of Dec. 2008.

Despite this fact, Geoff Chester of the United States Naval Observatory says tonight's full moon is still the winner for closeness of a full moon. How is that possible?

A lunar loophole

Chester points out that on Dec. 12, 2008, the moon reached fullness at 16:37 UT, while perigee was at 21:39. That's a difference of just over five hours. So when the moon turned full that night, it was still five hours away from reaching its closest point to Earth; its distance at the moment it turned full was 221,587 miles.

In contrast, today's full moon occurs at 18:10 UT, while perigee occurs at 19:09; the difference being less than an hour. So today, when the moon officially turns full, its distance from Earth will be 221,566 miles.

So even though the moon actually came a little closer to Earth in December 2008, if we compare distances when the moon officially turns full, today's full moon wins out by a scant 21 miles.

But for North Americans ... second place!

In all fairness, we should also point out that on Dec.12, 2008, the moment that the moon officially turned full was not visible in North America because it occurred during the daytime, when the moon was below the horizon.

And that very same circumstance will also occur at the moment today's moon turns full (2:10 p.m. Eastern Time; 11:10 a.m. Pacific Time); the moon will again be out of sight for North Americans.

So back on Dec. 12, 2008 — as will be the case tonight — when millions of people cast their gaze toward the moon, it really wasn’t a "full" moon, but rather a waning gibbous moon. The same case will hold true tonight.

Certainly, to all of us who look up at it tonight's moon, it will appear "full," but keep in mind that the actual moment when the moon's disk became 100 percent illuminated will have already passed many hours earlier. Although not readily perceptible to most eyes, tonight’s moon will be waning or diminishing in illumination. Rather than seeing it fully illuminated, tonight we will see it at about 99.8 percent illumination).

Who's first?

In addition, the moon that North Americans will see with their own eyes tonight will actually run a very close second to that of Dec. 12, 2008, in terms of distance.

From Boston, for instance, when the moon comes over the eastern horizon this evening, it will be 221,580 miles away.

But on Dec. 12, 2008, at moonrise, Bostonians saw the moon ever-so-slightly closer, at 221,559 miles; again, just a scant 21 mile difference. That's because in 2008, the moon took more than five hours to reach its perigee point after it turned full. The moon was arriving at the closest point in its orbit just as darkness had begun to fall and the moon was beginning to appear over North America.

As Geoff Chester has already pointed out above, today's full moon and moment of perigee occur within less than an hour of each other, during the late morning/early afternoon hours for North America.

By the time darkness is falling and the moon begins appearing over the eastern horizon for North Americans, it will have already been slowly receding from Earth and so it will be a little farther away than it was in 2008.

But don't let all this stop you from going out tonight and enjoying the sight of this, the "biggest moon of 2011." The moon is, after all, our nearest neighbor in space, Earth's eternal companion and friend.

And let's face it ... what's 21 miles among friends?"

— Danu's Daughter

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