Author: Gail Wood
Trade Paperback, 162 pages
Publication date: October 2001
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Many Wiccans celebrate the Full Moons with a ritual. Although most of the books on Wicca I read in the 1970s talked about doing a ritual for both the Full and the New Moon, many more recent Wicca books barely mention New Moon rituals. Gail Wood's new book, Sisters of the Dark Moon, tries to remedy this lack.
After a short introduction where the author explains her background and interest in Dark Moon rituals, this book quickly moves to its purpose, explaining the phases of the moon (all nine of them), the lunar year, and providing a brief introduction to Wiccan ritual. The rest of the book is one ritual for each of the 13 New Moons in a lunar year. These Moon rituals are identified by zodiac sign and divided into four sections. The Dark Maiden section covers the rituals for the New Moons in Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, and Taurus. The section on the Dark Mother provides rituals for the Gemini, Cancer, Leo, and Virgo New Moons. The Dark Crone part gives New Moon rituals for Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, and Capricorn. The fourth section, "The Dark Weaver" cover the thirteenth New Moon which the author assigns to the (non-existent) sign of Arachne which was invented or discovered (your pick) by John Vogh in his 1977 book Arachne Rising: The Search for the Thirteenth Sign of the Zodiac.
Each ritual is prefaced by several pages of comments and information on the significance of the Dark Moon in that astrological sign. The rituals Gail provides for each sign are not elaborate, as might be expected since they are designed for solitary performance. Many include guided meditations. The author suggests in passing that one might want to record them and play the recording back during the ritual. I would say that is a must. Most people find it very hard to meditate while reading.
Sisters of the Dark Moon is an easy book to describe, but it is a hard book to give a firm purchase recommendation on. While it covers material that few books on Wicca I've seen recently have covered in much detail, its centerpiece -- the 13 Dark Moon rituals -- seem nice but relatively uninspired. While I personally think adding a non-existent constellation to the Zodiac is silly (especially when there are parts of other, real, constellations in the band of sky we call the Zodiac which could have been used -- Cetus or Ophiuchus, for example), that really can't be held against the book -- and that is the only major issue I have with the book. In the end, this is a fairly average book on an unusual topic. If you are a Wiccan who is interested in solitary rituals for the New Moons and do not wish to design your own, take a look at this book. It just might deserve a home on your bookshelf.
Reviewed by Randall