The New Moon is the lunar phase where the moon is completely dark as seen from Earth. It is the first phase in the lunar cycle. In scientific terms, it is the time at which the moon and sun are both at the same ecliptic longitude.
What is Ecliptic Longitude? Well, when talking about the various celestial bodies and their relation to each other, astronomers use the celestial coordinate system. This is a system that helps to explain the apparent positions of solar system objects including the orbits of moons to their planets and planets to the sun.
The term “New Moon” actually refers to the time when you start to see a faint sliver of the moon visibly again.
New Moon traditions of note around the world.
In many cultures and faiths, there are certain traditions ascribed to the time of the New Moon
- Chinese – The New Moon is the beginning of the month on the Chinese lunar calendar.
- Hindu – In the Hindu faith, the New Moon is a time to begin projects. Known as Amavasya, it is treated as a day of great power.
- Islam – A new month on the Islamic Calendar is marked when the very first hint of a crescent is visible after a New Moon. This means that the Islamic Calendar is not static, and the beginning of a new month is not usually known until it happens.
- Judaism – the Jewish Calendar is lunar based and each month starts with the New Moon.
Folklore is an important tool in many cultures.
It is used to explain or describe many important events and the phases of the moon are not exempt from this. The stories told by generations have survived even the most strident scientific discoveries. They are more than simply explanations for natural phenomenon. These stories are embedded in important cultural values and traditions. So, while it is important to understand the science of the moon and the lunar phases, it is also important to hold tight to the folklore of your people.
In Ireland, the days of the ancients started with sunset. The moon, thus, was a very important and prominent part of their belief system. While, with time and the introduction of Christianity, the importance of the moon waned, it still comes up now and then in Irish traditions.
One interesting belief was that if you borrow a silver coin on the New Moon, you could gain a chance at prosperity. If you did this, your wealth might increase as the moon waxed (visibly grew). Who wouldn’t be tempted to participate in such an enterprise just for the chance?
Also in Ireland, it’s considered bad luck to see the new moon through glass or over one’s left shoulder; it is better luck to see the new Moon over one’s right shoulder. Seeing the New Moon directly in front of a person, however, was a prediction that they would fall.
In some polytheistic cultures and faiths, the time of the new moon is thought to be one of reflection where things slow down. During this time, you should meditate on what you might desire to bring into your life. (And on the full moon, you release and let go of the things you don’t need).
Lunar phases like the New Moon holds a great importance not only in science, but in the history of culture.
Over the next month, as we explore the different phases of the moon, it is our hope at The Researcher’s Gateway that we can share more than just the Science. We want our readers to understand the phases of the moon, but we also want you to experience some of the incredibly fascinating traditions and folklore of our ancestors.
Until the next post, however, go step outside and enjoy the wonders of the sky!
at The Researcher’s Gateway
Lunar Phases Special Feature Posts
- Lunar Phases Special Feature Launch
- New Moon
- The Crescent Moon and First Quarter
- The Full Moon
- The 3rd Quarter
- Blue Moon