Symbols - What does heaven look like

Phases of the moon

The moon takes on so many symbolic associations that it is often difficult to work out which symbolism is being applied, but if the moon’s phases are used and the 28 day lunar calendar, then this is another means by which cycles of change can be represented.

A Cresent moon on its own or a New Moon or Quarter Moon has its own symbolism but in the latter case can be linked to this symbolism, as one cycle described is that of a woman's menstrual cycle and shows the safest times to practise sexual stimulation techniques.

But outside of this context, the phases have an identical symbolism to the Wheel and are a symbol of evolution.  There are a large number of alternative views that one can take of the change process each represented by a different type of wheel, in this case the phases of the moon are used.

O Fortuna, Velut Luna, Statu variabilis, Semper crescis, Aut decrescis
O Fortuna, like the moon, ever-changing, always waxing or waning

The symbolism is not, it has to be said, that sophisticated.  Only four stages are represented because although there are 28 days in the cycle no explicit reference is made to them:

  • Initiation – new waxing moon
  • Growth  - development – full moon
  • Fruition – implementation  - waning moon
  • Death – disposal – no moon – the black moon

It was probably taken, as a symbol, to its most extreme state in W B Yeats The Vision.  But other people have used the symbolism.

There is also a link with the spiritual path and the Four seasons and the hours.

Edmund Dulac’s woodcut of the Wheel of the 28 Phases of the Moon (1937), version: A Vision. 
In the centre can be see a Rose, a cup, and an apple.  Outside the circle is a cone.  The final symbol may have  been meant to be like a thyrsus.


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