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The Dark of the Moon
and the Dark Side of the Moon
Virtually the same words
but two different things

by Rebecca Brents


  Celestial Navigation  sun  moon  dark moon  

full moon


"There are two ways of spreading light:
to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."

~ Edith Wharton ~

While making notes tonight for an article I'm writing about the New Moon in Astrology, I was struck by how much our perspective always shapes our thoughts, ideas, perceptions & speech. (This is actually kind of a Mercury topic, seen from a Very Virgo angle. Perhaps it's also interesting that we're right in the middle of the New Moon in Virgo, which happened less than half an hour ago.)

The actual phrase that brought up these thoughts was "the dark side of the moon." This sounds a lot like "the dark of the moon," but those are actually two different things.


The Dark of the Moon is a phenomenon in metaphysics, astrology, Wicca and other spiritual disciplines that describes the period of about 3 1/2 days surrounding the New Moon -- each New Moon every month -- when the Moon has moved into a physical position where it can no longer reflect the light from the Sun -- from our vantage point.

That's how the Moon "shines" in the first place. Moonlight is actually reflected sunlight -- light from the Sun. The Moon gives off no light of its own, even though it's classified as one of The Luminaries -- the light givers. The Moon is just like a giant mirror that can reflect back to us light from the Sun -- when they're both in the right place relative to each other.

So "The Dark of the Moon" is both a kind of lunar phase and a phenomenon ... caused by perspective. For about 3 1/2 days every month, the Moon -- orbiting the Earth, and both orbiting the Sun -- moves into a position where it seems to disappear from the sky. This happens right around the time of the time of the New Moon every month.


The Moon, of course, is still up there. Still in the sky. And we trust that it will reappear again -- eventually. Just give it time. Like a couple of days. It will eventually shift, show it's familiar New Moon crescent ... and begin the next lunar cycle. As it's done since way before humans existed.

Meanwhile -- aligned between the Earth on one side and The Sun on the other, with the Moon in the middle, it's lost in the over-powerful glare of the Sun. We can't see it. It's too small to ever overcome that disparity between its relative size ... and the power & physics of the Sun ... the combustion that creates all that light in the first place.

Those days every month, when the Moon seems to vanish and the night skies are totally dark except for the pinpoints of starlight (or the light pollution from cities and streetlights) ... are what's called "The Dark of the Moon" -- in science, various philosophies and common usage. That's how we describe it ... when we're actually the ones in the dark. Anyway, that's one term explained. Moving on.


So, what is "the dark side of the moon," and how is it different?

The astronomy / astrophysics of this fact gets a little complicated, and that's not the point of this essay, so let's try to keep it simple. The Moon orbits the Earth; the Earth orbits the Sun. The Universe is in constant motion -- and everything is in relationship to everything else. The Moon's orbit is such that it keeps the same side of itself facing the Earth as it moves -- and as the Earth moves. Both actually rotate -- but they're synched in this unique fashion.

That means for most of our history, there was a side of the Moon that existed, but that we could not and never had seen. When space travel became possible, we finally got photographs of it. We got picture of the other side of the Moon -- and there it was. A different view -- but just as old, just as eternal as the familiar one we'd known for eons.

That side of the Moon is what was generally called "the dark side of the Moon" ... because it always faced away from us. We didn't -- and never could -- see it. We knew it was there (kind of like Schrodinger's cat), but, the fact remains, without photographs -- unless we go into space and see it from there -- human eyes will never glimpse the actual thing -- the genuine, solid, real "other side of the Moon."


I suppose something remarkable, unprecedented & catastrophic could happen (and eventually will) to upset that balance that has maintained itself for billions of years (about 4.5 billion, actually.) But barring that, the positions remain -- and there is a side of the Moon we cannot see from our position in Earth without a lot of gyrations, adjustment, inconvenience and technology.

We've always called that "the dark side of the moon," and tonight that strikes me as amusing -- even ridiculous. It shows how self-centered we can be, because when the Moon sits between the Earth and the Sun -- which happens every month during every New Moon -- the "dark side of the moon" receives the Sun's full attention ... and all the light it can reflect and gather -- the mirror opposite of what's visible to humans on earth.

The "dark side of the moon" lights up as bright as the Full Moon -- every bit of it. Every month. But because we'd never seen it -- we wrote it off like it didn't even exist ... even in the say we spoke of it. For so many years -- virtually all of our human existence -- it was a mystery, and even the way we described it was wrong. We dismissed the fact that it gets its own share of light all the time. But to us it was "dark" and that was the end of it.


So people still refer to it as "the dark side of the moon" -- meaning that side that never faces us -- that other half of our lovely, familiar, well-known & well-loved celestial companion ... moving through space. It exists. We've photographed it.

(That was a better way to spend tax dollars, if you ask me than using them to kill each other by bombing strangers half a world away from where we live, to try and insure we keep them there. But not as good a use as maybe building schools, hospitals and homes, or sending equipment and teachers to help them live better, to make their lives easier. But this is also not a political essay. I just couldn't help writing and thinking that.)

Anyway ... there it is. The other physical side of the Moon. We've got pictures of it. And we've known for a very long time that it wasn't dark back there. But the phrasing is set and we continue to refer to it that way. So that's what the "dark side of the moon" is -- and remains.


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More on the Dark of the Moon

* Black Moon, Dark Moon, New Moon -- Ok, let's get this sorted out ---> Three names, three things ---> You've certainly heard the term New Moon applied to that part of the Moon's cycle when a small sliver of light appears in the western sky at dusk ... and gradually begins filling in over the next two weeks to reach the glorious display of the Full Moon before diminishing down to nothing again. Moon-watchers of all ages -- and maybe you are one -- enjoy this free celestial show every month.

* Feeling and Healing -- in the Dark of the Moon ---> Welcome to The Dark of the Moon ---> We all know the shifting shapes and different phases of the Moon as it travels through the sky every month -- from the sickle-shape of the Crescent Moon to the full round dinner plate magnificence of the Full Moon.

* Wishin' and Dreamin' in the Dark of the Moon -- When the dark nights invite us to turn inward ---> Three nights of darkness ---> To Astrologers, Wiccans and others, the Dark of the Moon is the term describing the period of about three days just before and after the New Moon every month. It's the time when the final crescent of light fades on the left ... and before the thin crescent of the New Moon appears again on the right. It's what happens when The Moon is positioned so that from Earth we can see no reflected sunlight from it.


Also on the Dark of the Moon

In the Dark of the Moon -- Where it all begins ---> Yeah, I know it's not the Dark of the Moon but do you know how boring those pictures are? ---> Make a note ---> The Dark of the Moon is the segment of time that covers the three days surrounding the monthly appearance of the New Moon. At the Dark of the Moon, the Moon has moved into a position so close to the Sun it's no longer able to reflect sunlight -- and the Moon appears to be totally gone from the sky.


The Dark of the Moon
From the Blogs, Ezines & Elsewhere

From EDA: The Dark of the Moon ---> Everyday Astrology April 21, 2020 The Dark of the Moon ---> The Dark of the Moon is the 2 1/2 day period that comes every month before the arrival of the New Moon ... for that Zodiac sign. Some Astrologers call it the "dead" Moon. Ok, that may be descriptive, but it sure sounds ominous -- and hardly poetic. Whereas the Dark of the Moon sounds ... well, mysterious and intriguing.


Moon in Astrology
Light Reading & Open Articles


The Dark of the Moon
Light Reading & Open Articles

Defining the Dark of the Moon
Dark Moon / New Moon
Working with the Dark of the Moon
Basic Stuff ... Dark of the Moon
Quick Notes ... Dark of the Moon


The Mystery and Meaning of The Dark of the Moon 1
The Mystery and Meaning of the Dark of the Moon 2


Learn more about The Moon in Astrology
These are the index pages to all our articles
on this topic.

The Moon in Astrology -- Articles Index
The New Moon in Astrology -- Articles Index
The Full Moon in Astrology -- Articles Index
The Dark Moon in Astrology -- Articles Index
The Void-of-Course Moon in Astrology -- Articles Index


Celestial Navigation is
Rebecca's Astrology Blog


  Celestial Navigation  sun  moon  dark moon  


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Photo courtesy of www.flickr.com/photos/gustavbergman/35892797540/
Original images used under this Creative Commons license or this Creative Commons license and modified by added text.

Astrology Tarot New Age Enchanted Spirit Metaphysical Resource Center
logo - river 2 Enchanted Spirit is a non-denominational spiritual center of healing, support, self-improvement, personal guidance, education and writing. We publish multi-media works of New Age thought and information to encourage serenity and growth in individual life choices, advance the universal search for life's meaning, and promote tolerance for positive ideas from all philosophies and religious traditions, believing as we do that truth is where you find it.

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Last updated May 11th, 2021

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