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Four Seasons

Moon & Sun Patterns for 2006

The phases of the moon offer the opportunity, once a month, to move through a complete cycle, from darkness to promise to fullness to decline and finally darkness again. The sun, moving in its much longer rhythm of the year, offers a similar pattern, from the darkness of winter through the promise of spring, the fullness of summer, the decline of autumn and finally the darkness of winter again.

If we compare the moon cycle to the sun’s longer rhythm, we correlate the first quarter moon with spring, the full moon with summer, the waning moon with autumn and the dark moon with winter. Using these correspondences, each of the eight moon phases matches one of the eight great seasonal feasts on the Wheel of the Year. So the Winter Solstice has the same energy as the dark moon and the Summer Solstice corresponds to the Full Moon.

Of course, the lunar cycle and the solar cycle are rarely in sync. So there are only one or two occasions during a year when the energy of the sun and moon are well-matched. But one of my teachers, Haragano, taught me to look for the closest moon phase and consider that when choosing a date for celebrating a seasonal holiday. The waxing moon brings a rising energy to those solar holidays on the waxing side of the year just as the waning moon may be more appropriate for those on the dark side of the year.

For ritual purposes, some folks like to schedule a ceremony for the closest full moon to maximize the energy. The best match this year is Imbolc, with the crescent moon appearing on January 31/February 1st, in perfect alignment with the promise of potential inherent in the holiday of Candlemas. Winter Solstice is also a good match with the moon new the day before. The other cross-quarter days--May Day, Lammas and Halloween--are also lining up with the crescent phase of the moon, which may give us a fresh perspective on their themes. And most of the holidays fall mid-week this year, meaning those planning parties and weekend ceremonies must make difficult choices.

Below are some thoughts about how the moon phases and solar holidays correlate in the coming year. By the way I am using my favorite astrological guide, Jim Maynard’s Pocket Astrologer, the Pacific Time Zone version, for the dates and times of the equinoxes and solstices.

Imbolc (Candlemas) corresponds with the crescent moon, the symbol of promise and potential and this year the crescent moon will appear in perfect alignment with the holiday. If you are looking for weekend dates, celebrating the week before will have the same energy of promise and growth as the moon is new on Sunday the 29th, which is also Chinese New Year.

On the Spring Equinox (March 20) when the solar theme is celebrating new life, the moon's energy is waning. The closest full moon is on February 13th, close to the Valentine's Day, a nice conjunction, and the closest weekend is March 18 and 19.

Beltane (May Day) is like the Gibbous Moon, the lush and almost full moon. But Beltane this year is coincides with the crescent moon, a younger, fresher lunar energy. a last quarter moon, a waning, reflective, letting-go kind of moon. If you want to frolic under a full moon, you'll have to wait until May 12. The closest weekend is April 29/30 when the moon is new.

The Summer Solstice (on June 21) should correspond with the expansive energy of the full moon, but this year it's paired with the balsamic moon phase. I like this polarity--the shortest night matched with the darkest time of the moon. If you want to schedule a weekend ritual, I'd celebrate the weekend before (June 17 & 18), although the moon will be in a waning cycle. This Summer Solstice we might emphasize the sun's decline, rather than its triumph.

The melancholy and mysterious holiday of Lammas (one of my personal favorites—probably because it’s the least celebrated) corresponds with the disseminating moon. This year, Lammas occurs during a crescent moon phase, which might lend our celebrations an optimistic note (of appreciation for the harvest mysteries?) rather than an emphasis on the death of the grain. I'd celebrate the weekend of Jul 29 and 30, which is also Bilberry Sunday.

The Autumn Equinox, Sep 22 this year, should fall on the last quarter moon if the correspondences were to be exact. But Sep 22 is a new moon, and a solar eclipse. I would guess that this will accentuate the theme of a new start in the autumn, as Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) begins the same evening. If you want to emphasize the waning energy of the season, you might celebrate the previous weekend (Sep 16/17) when the moon is waning but the closest weekend is Sep 23/24.

Halloween (Samhain) corresponds with the balsamic moon, the phase right before the new moon, but this year Halloween will be close to a gibbous moon, that lush and fertile moon that in solar energy would correspond with Beltane (Halloween's opposite on the Wheel of the Year). My guess is that this will accentuate the wildness and sensuality of Halloween. The weekend of 28/29 is the closest weekend but the full moon shows up the following weekend (can you postpone your party or ritual until then?).

Finally, winter solstice should be a new moon if the rhythms of the sun and moon were perfectly linked. And they pretty much are this year. The moon is new on Dec 20 and Solstice falls on Dec 21. If you want to emphasize the darkness (which will soon be shifting towards light), celebrate the weekend before Dec 16/17 which coincides with Hanukkah. If you want a little more expansive energy, the weekend of Dec 23/24 will bring you a crescent moon to light the darkness and some fresh energy to start the next year.

Enjoy the shifting tides of the moon and the sun and the dance they do as you weave your way through the rhythms of the year.

Holiday Moon Phase Date Closest Moon Phase Closest Full Moon Closest Weekend
Winter Solstice


Dec 21 05

New: Dec 30

Dec 15

Dec 17/18
Dec 24/25



Feb 1 & 2

Crescent: Feb 1

Feb 12

Jan 28 / 29

Spring Equinox

1st Quarter

Mar 20

1st Qtr: Mar 6

Mar 14

Mar 18 / 19



Apr 30 / May 1

Gibbous: May 9

May 12

Apr 29 / 30



Jun 21

Full: June 11

June 11

Jun 17 / 18



Aug 1 & 2

Disseminating: Aug 12

Aug 9

July 29 / 30

Fall Equinox

Last Quarter

Sep 22

Last Quarter: Sept 14

Oct 6 Harvest Moon

Sept 16 / 17;
Sept 23 / 24



Oct 31 / Nov 1

Balsamic: Oct 17

Nov 5

Oct 28 / 29



Dec 21

New: Dec 20

Jan 3, 2007

Dec 16/ 17;
Dec 23 / 24

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