Moon Phases –
A Symbolic Key
Author: Martin Goldsmith
Whitford Press (Schiffer Books)
I am not well versed in astrology, but I do have an interest in moon phases, and how we can work with them. Lunar astrology has it’s place, right up there with Solar astrology, in my world view. That this work has held up for over twenty years is a testament to the interest that it holds in the world of those who are interested in astrology.
Goldsmith gives the reader insight into the historical background of his work, as well as his research methods. It is here that we find that the foundation that this lunar theory is built on can be traced to the poet William Butler Yeats, whose wife channeled the information through automatic writing over a period of years. Their research became a book entitled “A Vision” (published in 1926), which outlined an elaborate metaphysical system associating variations of the human personality to the phases of the moon.
There is a wonderful section on historian Frances Yates, and her discovery of Neoplatonic influences in the works of Spences, Milton and Shakespeare. This became the starting point for scholarly inquiries into the Hermetic and the occult traditions. Goldsmith also speaks of Yeats regard for symbols as a gateway to memories.
From there Goldsmith moves on to the magical society of the Golden Dawn, and Yeats involvement with it. This section was of particular interest to me, as the characters involved are also involved in the world of Tarot, as I have been for many years. In 1976 the book “Phases of the Moon” (Dorothy Wergin, Marilyn Busteed, and Richard Tiffany) resurrected Yeat’s system by bringing it into a more active relationship with the living.
Now came the work of defining Yeat’s twenty-eight phases of the moon in a workable fashion. One part of this that struck Goldsmith was the relations between the phases of the moon and the zodiac signs. In studying the moon phases, Goldsmith began to get visual pictures of what they looked like. Symbols of each phase, as it were. Symbols that were arrived at through intuition.
There is an entire section devoted to the Sun and the Moon in the natal chart, as well as moon phases. The twenty-eight phases of the moon give a much more in depth look at who we are, our personality, motivations, perceptions and abilities. Goldsmith also discuses images and symbols in lunar perception, and the moon phase and the Mercurial Principle.
There is a very simple, easy to follow explanation on how to find your moon phase – all you need is your natal chart, and the knowledge of whether the moon was waxing or waning when you were born. There is a chart of the twenty-eight phases, listing them by name, with keywords. From the book:
“ Phase 2: The Trickster (moon is 30 to 40 degrees of the sun)
keywords: impulse and desire; manipulativeness; desire to affect the world; mischievous humor (devilish, amoral); reality as defined by words and concepts; clever new perspectives; inventiveness.”
Goldsmith goes on to discuss each phase in turn, beginning with a sketch of the symbols for that phase, followed by a discussion of the phase and examples from real like that were born into that phase. (It is noted that birth information that was of public record was used, so every example may not be correct.)
At the end of the book, Goldsmith discusses the “system within the system” that makes up the lunar phases, including association with the four faculties (will, mask, creative mind, and body of fate). He also discusses the moon phases and the chakra system, and posits a (albeit incomplete) system for associating the moon phases with the twenty-two cards of the Tarot Major Arcana.
As a layman, I found Goldsmith’s work easy to read, and easy to follow. It gifts the reader with another tool that they can use to empower themselves in making decisions and taking action in their life. I recommend this book to everyone who wants to know themselves, and the world around them, a bit better.
© September 2009