Adapted from Mysteries of the Dark Moon & Finding Our Way Through the Dark
By Demetra George
Since ancient times the Moon has been worshipped as the Queen of the Night. Dating to at least 35,000 years ago, artifacts from the upper Paleolithic era, consisting of sequences of notches carved into bone, stone, and ivory are thought to be the earliest lunar phase calendars. By gazing at the Moon and tracking her phases, early peoples regulated their lives according to lunar rhythms. They watched the Moon change place, color, shape, disappear and reappear each month. She gradually unfolded from a slim silvery waxing crescent, increasing in light until she was totally illuminated at the full Moon, and then decreasing in light until she became altogether invisible at the dark of the Moon.
The phases of the Moon are not simply a manifestation of the Moon herself, but rather a display of the changing relationship between the Sun and Moon as the Moon circle the earth each month. They reflect the pattern of her increasing and decreasing light as she separates from the Sun and then returns back to him, and in that process tapping out the rhythm of how it is that life is created, sustained, and renewed.
Various cultural traditions have divided the Moon’s cycle by three (new, full, dark), four (new, first-quarter, full, last-quarter), eight (new, crescent, first-quarter, gibbous, full, disseminating, last-quarter, balsamic), twenty-seven (Hindu nakshatras), and twenty-eight (days of the lunar month). The eight-fold cycle of transformation as seen in the in the increasing and decreasing light of the Moon’s monthly cycle is also evident in the increasing and decreasing light of the yearly solar seasonal cycles, marked by the solstices, equinoxes, and cross-quarter days. The lunation cycle as a whole describes the various qualities of energies that comprise the successive stages of any organic life process of coming to be and passing away. In Dane Rudhyar’s seminal work in 1936 on the lunation phases, he used the metaphor of the growth of a plant to illuminate the successive stages of growth symbolized by the phases of the lunation cycle.