Australian author Frances Billinghurst is a long-time priestess and founder of the Temple of the Dark Moon. She’s a prolific writer, a master of the metaphysical arts, and also a maker of beaded jewelry. With her newest book, she has gathered scientific facts, mythological lore, poems, prayers, and recipes for those of us who are devotees of the Moon in its many phases, symbols and manifestations.
“Working with the moon,” she writes, “can be likened to a voyage of self-discovery. Indeed, our emotions and feelings as well as our psychic and intuitive abilities are often attributed to the moon.” The Moon is a mystery. It’s Earth’s only natural satellite, seen by ancient people as the “Land of the Gods,” a place for the souls of the dead, its movements tracked by the earliest of astronomer-astrologers.
The book is organized into five sections. The first part explains the Moon’s 29.5 day cycle and offers practices for each of eight phases. The second part gives scientific facts about lunar events such as “super moons” and eclipses. The third and fourth parts are about lunar rituals and correspondences; and finally, the fifth part includes some of Billinghurst’s own rituals for working with the Moon.
This book is easy to read in a couple of sittings. Even better, it’s a book to turn to for quick information, beyond the now widely understood notions of setting one’s intentions upon a New Moon and letting go of things when the Moon is waning. There’s good concise information for looking up one’s natal Moon sign and one’s natal Moon phase, each of which have distinct qualities worth contemplating throughout one’s life.
The first part of the book is a guide, for everyone regardless of particular Moon sign and phase, to following the Moon through the corresponding themes of each of its monthly phases. I’ll zero in here on one example.
I was most eager to turn to the passages about the Waxing Gibbous Moon, which is when the Moon is 135 to 180 zodiacal degrees behind the Sun. I was born during this phase, a day before a Full Moon. From On Her Silver Rays, I’ve learned that the word “gibbous” comes from the root word meaning “hump back” or “bulging,” which reflects the fact that shortly before it reaches full phase, the Moon is “bulging with potential, almost appearing full.” That’s what the waxing gibbous phase has to teach, whether you’re the one in eight people who has this Moon phase natally, or, really for everyone for a few days each month.
“The waxing gibbous phase holds a great deal of power and potential," Billinghurst writes. “It may take some patience and determination to tap into it. We find ourselves at the precarious point of being very close to a goal only to have something else arise. This, however, is not a bad thing. This phase of the moon is all about refining, fine-turning and tuning in. What we have begun may seem ready, but it can be better.”
The time just before a Full Moon, then, is auspicious for launching things that are only a rough idea, to be tweaked and perfected later, or to start an analytical, highly detailed project. That’s the waxing gibbous phase’s energy of “almost full” or “almost there.” This is more helpful than thinking that one can’t really start something until there’s a New Moon, or that one necessarily is “letting go” of everything upon a Full Moon.
Billinghurst writes similarly, and cogently, for each phase and sign of the Moon. This is not an astrology book, per se. It is, though, a book for easily accessing the astrology of the Moon, and for developing a set of lunar practices of one’s own.
~review by Sara R. Diamond
Author: Frances Billinghurst
Moon Books, 2023
231 pp., $23.95