Moonspell Studies
Demeday, Laurel Moon,
Day 1, Pisces, in the year or our Lady, 10,005
Cycle 1: Seizing the Time

Reclaiming time and calendar keeping has been quite an adventure for me. I have found myself doing this on two tracks; the Solar and the Lunar. On the Solar track I have discovered the mythic content of the eight solar holidays, the annual seasons, and their connection to women’s rites of passage. The Lunar track is similar, yet moves more quickly as it progresses from mooncycle to mooncycle around the year. The solar cycle works on longer arcs and we mark less seldom power points or holy days around its rim. The Lunar cycle is with us more day-to-day and so is entwined in our daily lives. Both can be understood as Maiden/Mother/Crone cycles, as can Morning/Noon/Night. All the cycles, daily, monthly, and annual have been layered with meaning in every culture, associated with deities, their names and their stories, and associated flora and fauna.

In 45 B.C. the lunar calendar was outlawed by Julius Ceasar. In the 5th century A.D. the concept of cyclic process was declared heretical by the Council of Constantinople. The current solar/civil calendar was instituted by Pople Gregory X111 in 1582 A.D. Obviously earlier peoples had no problem with cyclical time, and the universal circling of all things. With the advent of patriarchy, came the necessity to create finite time in order to keep people slaving and believing their allotment was running out, with heaven at the end of it if they were good slaves, hell if they were not. New conquests are often accompanied by new calendars and interpretations of time.

“Seize the time” is a phrase we can nowtake more literally than ever. Nancy Passmore spoke of it so elequently when she first came out with her Lunar Calendar, Dedicated to the Goddess in Her Many Guises. Merlin Stone gave us the astonishing research she had done, discovering that time has been measured for thousands more years than our own calendars tell us. Some of us now date our writings accordingly, so for us this is the year 10,005!

When Passmore’s first lunar calendars came out I was working on creating my own. She and I and Stone had apparently stumbled across these issues around the same time. I found out about it when I read Robert Graves’ material on the Celtic Tree Calendars in his book The White Goddess. I was making giant timewheels for my altars and sharing them with sisters. These were layered in concentric circles, with a pin at their center so they could all spin. I placed a marker at their edge to show where “now”was. There was a solar wheel in the middle with eight pie-wedges showing the solar holy days. Then there was a wheel showing the patriarchal months…then one showing the zodiac, then one showing the lunar months or moons, and finally a largest rim wheel with lines
for the 365-6 days. (A small version of this calendar wheel is shown in the Thread, Cycle #8, The Goddess Year.)

I was looking for photos or drawings of the thirteen trees as outlined by Robert Graves, so I could add these in to my lunar wheel. Since some of them are not indigenous to my area, I found this challenging. Later I decided to put some local trees in my own lunar calendar.

When I first read about the tree calendars I was surprised. I had never thought to connect time with trees…or the measurement of time. Now it seems so obvious to me…duh! The trees shift with the seasons…they shed leaves or grow leaves or make fruit or pods or seeds… all is exquisitely timed with the dance of earth and sky. Different trees have different cycles at different times of year. Thus a lunar month could be named for the Apple Tree when she flowers in the spring…. or the Oak Tree when she is in her fullest leafing in summer. I just love saying Apple Moon, or Oak Moon, or Hazel Moon when I am dealing with dates and records. Changing some to local trees has helped me to feel more connected in my own environment too. Tie that in with following the moon’s path in the sky day to day, knowing what phase she is in, what astrological sign she is in, and time becomes a thing of beauty and fulfillment. Tie all that in with my womanly cycles and energies and time becomes a thing of mystery and magic. Tie all that in with language and letters – that’s right- the tree calendars were not only nature signs…. they were alphabets! – and time becomes even more magical! On top of all that the letters are oghams or runes, and can be used for divination. And it’s all tied in with the moon.

What an amazing transformation all this brings to one’s sense of time’s passing. And to know that we go back in herstory 10,000 years and not 2,000! That our roots in womantime are old, old, old. Here are the tree names in English and Gaelic, with their alphabet letters as explicated by Robert Graves in The White Goddess. These are the tree moons in my current calendar, with the dates for 2,005/10,005 :

1. Beth Birch
2. Luis Rowan
3. Nion Ash
4. Fearn Alder
5. Saille Willow
6. Uath Hawthorne
7. Duir Oak
8. Tinne Holly
9. Coll Hazel
10. Muin Vine
11. Gort Ivy
12. Ngetal Reed
13. Ruis Elder

Be sure to save this list for filling out your wheels:
1. Birch Jan. 5 – Feb 8
2. Laurel Feb 9 – Mar 10
3. Ash Mar 11 – April 8
4. Alder Apr 9 – May 8<br
5. Apple May 9- June 6
6. Willow June 7 – July 6
7. Oak July 7 – Aug 4
8. Holly Aug 5 – Sep 3
9. Hazel Sep 4 – Oct 3
10. Sweetgum (Liquid Amber) Oct 4 – Nov 1
11. Madrone Nov 2 – Dec 1
12. Cypress Dec 2 – Dec 30
13. Redwood (No Redwood Moon this year; it is a 12 – Moon year)

Yes both these calendars have thirteen trees to cover the passing of thirteen moon cycles in a year. However, not every year has thirteen moons. Surprise! I remember when we were reclaiming the number 13 along with so many other witchy things that come with Goddess awakening. We felt we were soo cool and hip to be acknowledging the passing of 13 moons instead of the patriarchal twelve months. Well I found out some interesting details when I started actually making my own moon

Even Robert Graves has it wrong in White Goddess. He claims that the old calendars always had thirteen moons of four weeks apiece and then there was the "extra day" which was considered the Birth of the Divine Child, and it’s own month at Winter Solstice. Turns out these calculations don’t always match up with the actual dance of sun and moon in the sky. (Jose Arguelles is another mooncalendar enthusiast who was going by these incorrect calculations, last I heard.)

I wrote to a friend of mine, Grey Cat, a witch in Tennessee who had been making her own moon calendar for a while and sending it out to friends. It was built with lines and squares like regular calendars, but each page began and ended with the beginning and end of a lunar cycle.

I told Grey Cat that something confusing had happened to me when I tried to make my own calendar. I was working with Passmore’s calendar which always shows thirteen moons for each year. I discovered that the dates of the last  moon of one year were the same dates as the first moon of the following year. This meant that one moon was being repeated, so that there were actually only twelve moons in that former year. When I’d written to Passmore about it she sent me a pile of literature but none of it answered my question.

Grey Cat went to her local planetarium and spoke to an astronomy professor! She found out that in
actual fact there are a little over twelve moons for two years and a little under thirteen moons every third year. She said the way to tell if a year has twelve or thirteen moons is to see how close Winter
Solstice is to the nearest full moon. If they are five or less days apart, that is a thirteen-moon year.

I still find myself wondering when I fill out my new wheels each year, whether we are in a twelve or thirteen moon year. Wemoon is also rather confusing on this subject. They too always have thirteen moons in their calendars, though sometimes they are not whole moon cycles. I guess that is how they are compensating for the fact that there are embarassingly, not actually always 13 whole moons every year. LOL! If you look at the current Wemoon for 2,005, you will see that it has two Winter Solstices… hm. That was my clue this year that we are actually in a twelve moon – with a little over- year. So, in a twelve moon year we do not include the Redwood or Elder moon.

The same applies to the thirty day-spokes in your moonwheel. There are not always thirty days in a lunar cycle…sometimes, I have found, thereare 29. In the ten years I have been using this calendar, lunations have always been either 29 or 30 days a piece.

However, if you are working from more conventional calendars, you may discover that some of your moon cycles have only 28 days. The reason mine never have less than 29 is because I am counting my moons starting with the very first crescent as day One, and ending with the last part of the dark
moon as day Twenty-nine or Thirty. Most calendars count the last day of Dark Moon as the first day of the lunar cycle, calling it the New Moon. I feel this moon belongs to the Crone and should be
considered the end, not the beginning of the lunar cycle. To me Newness means Maiden, and Maiden is the Crescent, while Darkmoon means Crone.

By leaving the Crone out of our lunar symbolism, we are effectively eradicating the Crone archetype from our psyches. So when I fill out my moonwheels I consider the cycle to begin with the first Crescent as New or Maiden Moon, and to end with the final dark moon. This is why my moonwheels
have never shown 28 days.

Of course you can name your moons and count them any way you like Starhawk’s group has nice names for their moons. Native American calendars have lovely names too. The Jewish calendar is Lunar and has Hebrew names. Many cultures still calculate their time by the moon and use lunar calendars. The Moonwheels come blank, so this does give you some flexibility. However, for the sake of getting started with your wheels, I suggest you follow along with my methods for now. Once you
have the hang of it you can make changes as you wish…

When a given moon has less than thirty days, I simply blank out the extra spoke in my wheel, or turn it into a decoration. Just as you would pass by the thirteenth moon in a twelve moon year, you can pass by that thirtieth dayspoke in your moonwheel when the cycle has only 29 days.

When we go into chat together I will walk you through, step by step, the filling out of your first moonwheel. We can repeat this with other moonwheels as well, if needed. Below are some questions I would like you all to answer by message-email. I would also like you to freely discuss the subjects I have brought up here, and of course I encourage dialogue among us all. I love questions too, so please ask freely. We all can participate in questions, answers, discussion, etc.

There is no set schedule for answering these questions. You may find some answers come right away, and some come to you as we proceed along in our moon together. Please respond as it flows:

What is time?

How is time created?

Is time an illusion?

Does the past still exist?

Does the future exist yet?

Did you know that the earliest calendars were menstrual? That ancient peoples measured time by bleeding women and trees?That a month was a moon cycle and not a slice of earth’s path around the sun?
How do you feel about time? Is there enough time?

Does time end?

Does time go on forever?

Is time linear?

Compare the experience of filling in a traditional calendar with boxes, lines and squares to that of filling in your moonwheels. How do you feel about the moon? Do you connect with her?

See the moon as "her?&quot. Do you pray to her or do magic with her energy?

In what phase of the moon does or did your moonblood come?

Are you aware of any effects of moon energy on your own energy?
Have you ever "drawn down" the moon? Taken a moonbath?

In patriarchy solar/lunar is usually considered as a gender-based duality of male/female, active/receptive, light/dark, good/evil, dominant/submissive.Does this resonate for you? In my Goddess-centered cosmology I have reckoned the Sun, Earth and Moon as a Crone/Mother/Maiden
triad. (Scientific theory backs this Grandmother/Mother/Daughter image up, since it has said that the moon came outof the earth and the earth came out of the sun!) How does this triadic female symbolism resonate for you

Magic is afoot, a heart and a hand
And Goddess is alive in the land!
Shekhinah Mountainwater, Radical Muse, Faery Bard, Priestess of Aphrodite, a foremother of the Womanspirit Movement, Author of Ariadne’s Thread.

Ron King’s Daughter

December 28, 2007

A Scottish Folk Legend
Retold by Shekhinah

Once beneath the great Northern Sea dwelt the Silkies, in their
underwater land called Sul Skerie. The Silkies are the ancient seal
people. They are of human form beneath their sealskins, which they can
shed at will. Silkies have been known to walk disguised among humans,
and even to dwell for a time upon the land. Woe be to any Silkie who
leaves her skin unguarded, for if it should fall into the wrong
hands,she will be unable to return to Undersea. Many are the legends of
human men who stole the furry wet skins of Silkie women when they came
to unveil and play upon the shore. This would give them the power to
force these beautiful creatures to stay on land, sometimes for years.

But woe to the man whose Silkie wife should happen to find her skin
where he had hidden it. For in a flash of dark fur and a silver splash
she would be gone, back to Sul Skerie. And he would be left ashore with
an aching heart and a lonely soul. Better to leave her to her freedom
from the start, and perhaps she would come of her own will to stay and
be a friend or lover.

Such was the tale of one such Silkie
woman who gave her heart to an earthling. Silvera was the daughter of
the Ron King, ruler of the Silkies in Sul Skerie. Like many a Silkie
maiden, she loved to swim up to the shore and shed her skin to play on
the sunshiny sand. She was dancing there one day when the young Prince
Golden happened by. Soon and soon they fell in love and agreed to be

Back down in Undersea, Silvera approached her
father to ask for his blessing. The Ron King gave it, but with these
admonishing words:

"And if there ever comes a time
When your lover speaks to you unkind
Turn your back to the land, your face to the wind
I’ll be waiting here with your old sealskin…"

  -From Song of the Silkie Woman by Shekhinah

And so Silvera embraced her father and swam away to become a queen upon
the land. She and Golden lived happily for a time, and eventually
conceived and birthed a Silkie child. But one day the prince came into
their chamber with a dark cloud upon his brow. When Silvera asked what
troubled him, he snapped at her angrily, "Stupid woman, leave off!"

Without a word Silvera arose, took up her babe, and walked back into the sea.  She was never seen in that land again.

From Moonspell Library


December 28, 2007

Well I felt the setting up of dark and light as opposite, one representing
good, the other evil, is an inherent part of dualistic thinking. True, they can
be understood as parts of a circle, flowing in and out of one another. But
light is not always good, nor is dark always bad.

There’s the bright light that flashes just before a nuclear bomb detonates… there’s excessive sunlight sometimes, that dries everything
up and parches things to death… there’s the dark of the womb, the
dark of the moon, the fertile dark of the earth where seeds begin their

Yes light and dark are part of a circle. But when we only name two factors,
there is a tendency to slide into dualism, and to choose one side over the
other, or consider one to be desirable, while the other is discarded. It’s
easier, I think, to avoid this, if we add a third factor… three is a circle,
while two tends to be seen as points at the ends of a line…

Read the rest of this entry »

Charge of the Goddess

December 28, 2007

Adapted by Shekhinah Mountainwater
compiled and composed by Doreen Valiente

Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess
The dust of whose feet
Are the hosts of heaven
She whose body
Encircles the universe:

I am the beauty of the green earth
And the white moon amongst the stars
And the mystery of the waters
And the desire in human hearts.
Call unto your soul
Arise, and come unto me
For I am the soul of nature
Who gives birth to the universe.
From me all things proceed
And unto me all things must return.
Before my face, beloved of all
Let your divine innermost self be enfolded
In the rapture of the infinite…

Let my worship be in the heart that rejoices
For behold, all acts of loving pleasure
Are my rituals

And therefore let there be beauty
And strength,
and power,
and compassion,
Honor and pride,
and reverence
Within you.

And you who think to seek for me
Know your seeking and yearning
Shall avail you not, lest you know the mystery
That if you seek me
And find me not within you
You will never
Find me without…

For behold
I have been with you from the beginning
And I am with you

From Moonspell Library

Women on Pedestals

December 28, 2007

I’ve found the bit "P" doesn’t only stand for High Priestess… it also
stands for "Pedestal" Here’s why I tend to resist the pedestal:

You wanna speak your mind, get a little respect
You’re up on a pedestal, queen of the set
Queen of the set, you get shot down
They say you should be spreading the power around!

So you try to be equal, give some power away
You don’t exist and you got nothin’ to say…
From my Priestess Wrap

are dangerous, I discovered. At first they can seem wonderful when
you’re up there with folks looking up to you and admiring you and
respecting you and all that wonderful stuff.

But I’ve seen how things
shift after a while as sisters who have made themselves "lesser" in
order to set me "above" them in their own estimation. They invariabley
grow resentful after a while. And then comes the maneuverings to bring
me to a fall. Some flaw in me will become fodder for this demise… and
since I am far from perfect, such flaws are easy to find. I can never
be perfect enough to remain forever on the pedestal. I have been
through many painful episodes around this issue, and it has been a part
of my education in learning about one-up power-over systems.

who have good self esteem are less likely to have
difficulty looking upon a sister with respect and reverence. Personally
I’d rather see it happening horizontally; not vertically; in other words
across and around the circle instead of the old below/above.

In the
circle everyone is equally worthy of respect…of having a voice…of
being honored. This doesn’t mean some sisters aren’t more developed in
some areas than others…. of course all things are not always equal.
And I do agree that it’s important for sisters to be recognized and
upheld for their accomplishments and contributions. It’s just as
damaging to be in the position of "you don’t exist and you have nothing
to say" as it is to be isolated above, segregated and kept distant with
an illusion of "perfection."

So this is why I like a small
"p" for priestess. The word priestess stands well with a small p… it
still shows value, accomplishment, worthiness. Yet it doesn’t have to
mean anyone else in the circle is any less valuable or sacred or worthy
of being heard.

Much love,

From Moonspell Library       

Number 11

December 28, 2007

I was told this is the "number of the
avatar" anda "master number" by a friend who has studied these things
extensively. An avatar is a spiritual teacher or leader… most avatars
we hear about, however, are male, like Christ and Buddha. Usually such
figures attain archetypal and divine proportions. This is one reason
why I like the story of Psyche… a woman who seeks spiritual goals,
reaches them successfully, and achieves immortality. ‘Course I would
rather say "mother number" than "master number." <grin>

also resonate with the Priestess card, bigtime, and I’m sure there is a
connection between the 11 and the 2.

I was working out my women’s wheel of the year, I discovered eleven
directions! North, South, East, West… Northeast, Souteast, Northwest,
Southwest, Above, Below, and Within. I had to add the inbetween ones so
I could get myseasons to allign with the eight holy days as well as the
five elements on the pentacle. I needed my year to be non-polarized and
non-linear, which is why I set up up with the Five instead of the Four.
I also gave her three seasons for the Maiden, Mother, and Crone;
Spring, Summer, and Winter. I know that leaves out Fall, but I figure
Fall is a transitional season between the Summer and Winter, and that
there are two others between Spring and Summer, as well as between
Winter and Spring. All the seasons segue anyway…

Well later I heard that some scientists are saying there are actually eleven dimensions!

later, when I attended the Goddess festival in Glastonbury England, the
women there called in ELEVEN directions for their opening ritual! They
had a priestess for each one, and everyone in the circle faced each of
the eleven in turn for calling them in. Wow I was blown away.


From Moonspell Library

Guardian Priestesses

December 28, 2007

I first heard about this concept from Ruthee
when she called me about her then unpublished manuscript which she
wanted me to look over and review. She said she and her partner Falcon
had discovered it as the two of them found themselves working together
in this way quite naturally… she as the ritual priestess and Falcon
as the guardian. I think it’s a lovely way to have a partnership as
sister priestesses, to support each other in the circle, and share out
the responsibilities more…

I think this idea started in the
RCG group (Reformed Congregation of the Goddess) because years ago I
remember reading some materials they put out about Amazons (sometimes
our more "butch" or perhaps we could call them "firey" women) needing a
Goddess path appropriate to them. Every circle needs protection,
practical assistance, and guarding one way or another, and it sure does
help to have various priestesses take on various aspects of ritual
work. I identified with Ruthee’s experience, having also been the
priestess who tried to wear all the hats at once.It’s necessary in
times when thereis no one else available or who knows what was needed.
But it’s difficult for one person to do it all, and what a delight when
tasks are delegated and the ritual priestess can just concentrate on
the ritual!

Read the rest of this entry »