Argh. Keeping track of the sun and the moon is a pretty big part of the daily practice of Wicca. And it is also one where I consistently fail in. I’m too apt to get caught up in life and then realize a month and a half later that the days are now much shorter than they were the last time I noticed, or that the moon’s slipped from full to new and back again before I knew it.
I should know better. Roderick is pretty clear that “in the world of Witchcraft, the stage and location in the heavens of the sun and moon signify magical and spiritual energy tides.” And these tides can have a lot of influence on activities. Still, the activities have got to be done whether the moon is in Cancer or Aquarius, full or new, spring or fall.
Wiccans do, however, divide our year into eight seasonal festivals: four of which deal directly with the phases of the sun. We also honor the moon through many more Esbats celebrated throughout the year. Tracking the sun and the moon should be basic, daily activities.
As Roderick notes, it’s easy to artificially check what phase the sun is in: just open a newspaper. It’ll also tell you what time the sun rises and sets in your area. The moon waxes from new to full and wanes from full to new. It’s easy to tell if it’s waxing or waning just by looking at it: If the roundest side curves like a D, it’s waxing. If it curves like a C, it’s waning. Easy peasy. The sun ‘waxes’ from the Winter Solstice (which happens when it’s the shortest day of the year) to the Summer Solstice (the longest day of the year) and ‘wanes’ from the Summer to the Winter. And, as Roderick notes, the Winter Solstice occurs when the sun enters Capricorn (sometime between Dec 20-23rd), the Spring Equinox occurs when the sun enters Aries (between March 20-23rd), the Summer Solstice happens when the sun enters Cancer (between June 20-23rd) and the Fall Equinox occurs when the sun enters Libra (between September 20-23rd).
Exercise: Sun and Moon Cycles
The Farmer’s Almanac can tell you when the seasons change. You can also check with an astrological ephemeris, which charts the passage of the sun and the planets of the solar system as they progress through the twelve constellations of the zodiac.
In later days you will discover the importance of knowing these luminaries and their rhythms, but for now, develop a habit of knowing the cycles of the sun and the moon on a regular basis. This alone will begin the process of attuning you to the energies of the goddess and god.
So no basic work today, just the note to consult an almanac every day.
I have purchased a Llewellyn’s Magical Almanac just about every year since I’ve began studying Wicca. I think I might have missed the first year or two, but it’s been constant since at least 1999. But I didn’t buy one this year. All I need are the almanac sections: the articles just don’t even begin to interest me the way they once did. I don’t need an essay about the chupacabra or the yeti to be a Wiccan. In fact, while those things may be interesting…they’re just noise. The important things–the rise/set times of the sun and moon, the moon’s astrological sign for my geographical location–these are things better answered by local sources and ephemerides. So that’s what I’m sourcing for now.