Celebrating the Blue Moon
Ever hear the phrase, ‘once in a blue moon’? Well, get ready, because Friday’s Esbat is awash in the energy of the Blue Moon! In actuality, blue moons (using the most common understanding of ‘the second full moon within a one-month calendar period’) aren’t anything super special in a mystical sense; we wouldn’t have them at all were it not for the calendar we use. But we do have them, and because of the rarity (the next one won’t be until 2018), that makes them a special thing. If you keep track of such things, upcoming Blue Moons will be on:
31 January, 2018, 31 March, 2018, and 31 October, 2020.
Looks like Samhain 2020 is going to ah-maz-ing, right?
There’s a second definition for Blue Moon as well that is much more uncommonly heard, but is the ‘real’ definition, which is truly much more rare:
the original definition is that a Blue Moon is the third full Moon in an astronomical season with four full Moons. A normal year has four astronomical seasons – spring, summer, fall (autumn), and winter – with three months and normally three full Moons each. When one of the astronomical seasons has four full Moons, instead of the normal three, the third full Moon is called a Blue Moon. more here
The ‘real’ definition is slightly more complex, and can understand why the more simplified version caught on (even though it’s technically a mistake). If you’re a stickler for technicalities, the next Blue Moon as defined by astronomical season will be next year:
21 May, 2016; 18 May, 2019; 22 August, 2021 and 19 August, 2024.
Regardless of which definition you prefer, this is still a Full Moon, with all the bells and whistles that come with celebrating one. I love the Full Moon Esbat. I absolutely adore being outside when the moon is full. The night feels so alive and everything is soft and dreamy with a beautiful moon-lit glow. The moon at its fullest is so bright – I love the feeling of being out; bathed in it. It’s a great time for cleansing; I set out stones and crystals and jars of water to make Moon Blessed water and re-charge the stones and jewelry that I wear. Everything gets cleansed and grounded and waits for the next part of the cycle.
Traditionally, the Full Moon is a time of culmination and completion. What was started with the New Moon this cycle finds its apex of energy at the Full Moon, before winding down over the next two weeks and starting the cycle anew. I find the Lunar Cycle ideal for short-term goals; a naturally occurring 4-week cycle that grows, peaks, wanes and starts again feels to me like a natural timetable and guide for such things. The two-week span between the Full Moon and the New Moon is a time of rest, reflection and preparation for me. While I don’t adhere strictly to traditional correspondences for spell work, there are some things I am fairly meticulous about and my interpretation of the Esbat Celebrations is one of them.
I don’t know if anyone else does this; I’ve never read it or heard it being done and haven’t heard of it being part of any established tradition, but I use the Black and Blue Moons in a similar manner as the traditional Lunar Cycle. The cycle begins with a Black Moon, and reaches culmination at the Blue. In my opinion, for the least amount of confusion, you should use the same definition for both, i.e.: if you’re using the definition of Blue Moon to mean the 2nd Full Moon in a month, then your definition of Black Moon should be the second New Moon within a month. That’s my personal preference for this type of longer-term planning, and so with this Blue Moon, what was set into motion with the last Black Moon (March 30, 2014) reaches its climax. The next Black Moon of this kind will be October 30, 2016 (which is the night before Samhain – so cool!!), with culmination expected January 31, 2018. I will have the months between now and October of next year to rest (energetically speaking), reflect on my intentions and results, and plan and prepare for the next long-term goal.
As for effectiveness, I can say that my life has undergone some fairly radical changes over the last year and a half, and those changes are in line with the goals/plans/intentions I set. I am not naive enough (or ‘faithful’ enough?? Is that even the right word??) to think that ‘it’s all because of spell work’. I do make choices that are in line with my goals, and live my life in a proactive way – my actions match my intentions. I believe that hard work and a life in harmony with realistic goals set make a works of difference in what a person is able to achieve. But there’s an element of luck or fortune or favor there, too. Call it what you will, but hard work can only take you so far and the extra ‘spark’ – wherever it comes from – helps.
The next Black Moon of the other type (3rd of 4 within an astronomical season) won’t be until August 21, 2017 (with the Blue Moon May 18, 2019). I haven’t personally used this type of moon for this purpose, but I feel like it would probably work as well. If you’re into long-term goal-oriented spellcasting, consider giving the Black/Blue Moon cycle a try to see how it works out for you. I’d be interested in hearing from you if you do (or have done this before).
Brightest Blue Moon Blessings,