Andromeda & Casseopeia

The Night Sky in February/March, when I sit and look at the clear night sky, I get completely overwhelmed with what I see and what it actually means. It can be quite mindblowing when you consider that the planets in our Solar System plus the stars in the Milky Way make up our spiral Galaxy.

Yet, along from Casseopeia (more on that), with the naked eye if you still have 20/20 vision (or a pair of binoculars if your eyes have become naff like mine!!), you can see the Andromeda galaxy. Andromeda is a spiral galaxy, just like our own Milky Way, and is known as M31. It contains over a trillion, yes, a trillion stars and is located over 2.5 million light years away…wow!!

Casseopeia appears to us in the Northern sky and is recognised by its “W” shape, which is formed by 5 bright stars so very easy to find, and from there, you can find Andromeda from the bottom of the rightmost “V” which forms a convenient arrow to show you where it is – just follow the point! When you can see a dull cigar shaped cloud, you are seeing the results that left Andromeda over 2 million years ago…like I said, mindblowing!! On a moonless night, have a hunt for Casseopeia, then find Andromeda and be completely blown away, knowing you are looking at that many stars that far away, just with your eyes!! A-ma-zing…

The Changing Night Sky

I actually love the cleanness of a cold crisp winter’s day. At least you know what to wear when you get up!  Walks at this time of the year can be wonderful and sometimes even magickal so don’t miss the opportunity, if you have time, to take time out and enjoy a walk amongst nature whenever the day is fresh.

The other wonderful thing about this time of year is that the cold crisp nights bring clear dark skies which bring much more fun in star and moon gazing – another thing I just love about winter and I miss in the summer when the Moon hardly seems to rise at times. The Moon is a magickal friend that comes out at night to play and I don’t know how, on a clear night, people don’t spend time outside enjoying the show that the stars and the moon put on for us. You will find me outside for a while on any clear night whether the moon is out or not – the stars are the star on moonless nights and fun can be had by all the family in learning where the planets are and what constellation is where in the sky. The old Celts really understood the sky and I have to say, I use the Moon for a lot of my spells – doing more work in the dark than the light.

However, let us not forget the stars which are tiny diamonds studding the dark blue velvet sky. They twinkle away and their show is often ignored or simply taken for granted, so let us see what we can do to encourage you to spend more winter’s nights stargazing. Oh and another thing, remember that planets don’t twinkle!!

If you live in a city, then you may have to head for the hills to enjoy the stars as the city lights can wipe out the night sky. I am lucky enough to be far enough away from the City to view the stars at their best. However, when I spent a week in Ireland, I had never seen so many stars in the sky – far more than I enjoyed at home but it doesn’t stop me stargazing. Get a map of the stars, wrap up warm and see how many planets and constellations you can spot and then watch over the winter as they travel the sky and even disappear and the Earth revolves. It is amazing how the sky changes once you notice what goes where. Start simply with something like the plough or Orion, and watch how it moves.

One thing everyone watches for is a shooting star. I have only once seen a shooting star and I was on a boat on Loch Ness with my family and friends and only I saw it, even though there were 4 of us looking to see where Mars was when it was doing its red thing. Shooting stars are lucky and a good omen for travellers, lovers and people with ill-health. I took it as a sign of good luck as I was with my partner and took it that our relationship was blessed.

Another thing I do is to wish on my chosen star. Once you have been out at night and got to know the sky a bit, you will notice a star that seems to catch your eye (well, this one always seemed to twinkle at me whenever I went out the back door – in fact, all the other stars disappear into oblivion!). If you do find one that you tend to always notice, it can be your “Star of Power”. Stars are suns in another galaxy and as such, like ours, have much power that can be tapped into. Like the poem says:

“Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, Wish I will, wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight”.

I always make a wish on the first star that I see if I am walking outside at dusk. Why not? You can use your Star of power in the same way. Spend some time attuning to its power simply by looking at it for a period of time nightly until you have connected. Then you can ask for its help, whatever is needed, provided the sky is clear. Make this your winter project and see how you can enhance your life with the power of the night sky. Take my advice and let your wishes come true on the stars!!

But what about signs of Summer…

There is a formation of three bright stars which go directly overhead through the summer. Deneb, Vega & Altair are the three brightest stars in separate constellations and pretty much dominate the summer night sky. Top left is Deneb, which is in Cygnus, Vega, to the right of Deneb, is in Lyra and Altair is in Aquila which is south of the other two. Even though they are in separate constellations, they stand out quite significantly, so next time you are outside, look directly up and see if you can locate these bright stars and spot our night sky’s signal of that summer is here (because we could never tell it by the weather!!).

Working with the Planets

Mercury and its influence…

I have major problems when Mercury is in retrograde, so here is a little warning about its activities and influence:

Mercury is the nearest planet to the Sun and is actually very rarely visible to us except during an eclipse. It is the ruling planet for communication and the throat, but when it stands still then goes retrograde (which means it appears to go backwards), it tends to change things and brings back issues we have not sorted, bringing them back into our face. Communication aspects suffer as people can state things in an incorrect manner and others misinterpret what is said, mail goes astray whether e-mail or postal, computers break, the likes of websites and wireless systems don’t appear to work, and problems come to a head whilst you appear to run around like a headless chicken and get absolutely nowhere.

So what to do? If an old problem comes to revisit, deal with it as it can’t be ignored any longer – sort it once and for all. Never begin a new project at this time, especially if it relates to travel, communications or networking. Ensure messages are delivered and clearly understood, so slow things down and take more care. We go into this phase about every 4 months but some times more noticeable than others, so it is best to know what to do and how to deal with it and it will be a lot less painful.

Embracing Jupiter

At the moment, Jupiter is appearing brightly in our British night sky to the south east. It is a huge planet with a mass twice bigger than all the others in our solar system combined. While out finding Polaris, see if you can find Jupiter too and you will have expanded your knowledge of the night sky even more.

As a Sagittarian, Jupiter is my ruling planet, but he also rules Thursday . As King of the Gods, he rules business, material growth, justice and legal matters and brings about the energy of good fortune and expansion – just what we all need at times!! On your altar, burn Cedarwood incense or oil and light a blue candle dedicated to Jupiter, and any spells began on a Thursday for any of the above issues and you will be automatically calling on Jupiter’s influence and help too; after all , every little helps!!


Saturn is the only planet in our solar system with rings, so it is very distinct and, during this next month, this is the only planet in our solar system visible in the night sky. Saturn is a cold, hard planet and it brings that coldness and hardness to our planet. It forms structure and astrologically is about control, self-discipline, thrift and hardship, law and order and death. It is the planet of old age, wisdom and experience and conserving the old ways is what it aims to do! Doom and gloom or what??

The Moon

Phases of the Moon

It takes the Sun a year to complete it’s journey, hence why Stonehenge is attended every Midsummer. The Sun will rise in the same place every year, with the one-day adjustment every 4 years. However, it takes the Moon 18.6 years to complete it’s great Lunar cycle. I adore the Moon and spend many an hour speaking to her from my front door step, never knowing where exactly she will appear, as it is always different.

The New Moon only appears briefly at Sunset, and then sets again shortly after the Sun. When it is the actual new moon, the crescent it so thin, it isn’t visible to the naked eye. It maybe 2-3 days before you can actually see it. Never look at a new moon, when it does finally appear, through glass or a run of bad luck will follow (in other words, don’t look through the window to check if it is out). Also, when you first see the new moon, turn over some silver in your pocket and money will be sure to follow.

The waxing (growing) moon is from the New moon to the Full, and the waning (fading) is from Full to New. Now this bit is difficult for people as they don’t know if it is waxing or waning. So, in the Northern Hemisphere, this is how it goes: imagine the Moon as a clock – if the crescent goes from 12 till 6, then, like the hour, it is growing (waxing), but if it is from 6 till 12, then it is on the way out (waning). Follow???

Each day, moonrise is fifty minutes after the previous day so it gets later as each day passes. (The tides are the same – well I never!!) During the first quarter, the Moon rises 6 hours after sunrise and sets 6 hours after sunset whilst the last quarter, it is the other way round (I think I have that right – even I get confused). This is why the Sun and Moon are often seen in the sky together, and sometimes we simply don’t see it as it doesn’t come up till most of us are in bed. I think that is one reason why midnight is so-called the “witching hour” – because, most of the time, it is around at midnight, whether coming up, going down or full. I don’t know why but, if it is a clear day and I can see both sun and moon, I know it is going to be a good day.

The Gibbous moon is when the moon looks pregnant, but not yet full.

Just before and at the Full Moon, she rises opposite the Sun at sunset and slowly sets again at sunrise, so she is prominent in the sky all through the hours of darkness. So there you have the movement of the Moon and why she isn’t always visible in the sky and why she is never in the same place or at the same height.

As we all know, the Moon affects the tides of the Sea and the cycles of the female body, so powerful is her energy. The highest and lowest tides are at the time of the New Moon, whilst there is the least movement at the Full. Timings of spells can be done with the rhythm of the Moon. The most powerful time is when the Moon is full because, emotionally, the Moon makes us more energetic (hence why those in tune find it harder to sleep at this time).

More crime is committed at the Full Moon than other times as people are generally more irritable and emotional (hence where the word “lunatic” comes from). More people go to the pub around the full moon than any other time. I have known our local to be heaving, even if it is a Wednesday night, if the moon is full. People just need to “get out”. You are also likely to sleep less on a full moon than on a new one. Don’t argue around the full moon or the argument will last for the remainder of the cycle. You generally find that tides are fuller and stronger at the full moon than other times too, though the tide rises and falls more at the new and full moon than the rest of the month. So, there you go.

But what is a blue moon??

The actual “Blue Moon” is a rare event, when the moon actually appears to be blue, caused by atmospheric conditions. It is this blue moon wishes should be made on, and the last one was seen in England in 1995.

The full moon can also predict the weather so watch for a halo as this tells of rain or snow to come. If the new moon holds the old moon in her arms, the rain will follow. It also means rain if the moon lies on her back in the first quarter, as she is holding onto the water. She will have released its torrents before the half moon when she will have straightened herself back up, when there are two full moons in one month.

These days, people regard the 2nd moon in a calendar month as the Blue Moon, but this just isn’t so.

Wishing on the New Moon…

A wishing spell can be performed at the new moon. It appears as a thin slither at sunset in the direction of the setting sun for just 30 minutes about the 3rd day of the new moon. If you catch a glimpse of her, firstly turn over silver in your pocket for a month of prosperity, then make a wish and bow to her 9 times. It is done

The Mysterious Night Sky & Polaris

Let’s begin our exploration of the night sky together. In days gone by, people would know where each star and constellation was and could know where they were by the direction of the stars. That is exactly where we shall start, as to know where the Pole star is located is to know where due north is…your so-called heavenly compass!!

Polaris (the Pole star) seems to stay stationary over the North Pole so, wherever you are in the northern hemisphere, find Polaris, you find north!!

To find Polaris, you first have to find the “Plough” – the constellation that looks like a giant ladle in the sky. Most people know the Plough (also called the Big Dipper and officially the constellation Ursa Major) which is always in a northerly direction. Orion, the other well known constellation is located in the south, so if you can find Orion, just turn round to the other direction to locate the Plough. When you have, find the last two stars on the right of the plough, called Merke and Dubhe, which form the outer part of the “square” away from the handle of the ladle. Now continue the line 5 times longer and this will draw you straight to the North Star – which is actually a couple of stars together within the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor) et voila Polaris! So next time the sky is clear, go and have a look and you will always know what direction you are in in the dark!!