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Ch.10 Drawing Down the Moon (WMB 10.a)

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @


Draw Down The Moon

The process known in Wicca as Drawing Down the Moon is one of invocation, of drawing down a goddess into a priestess. Both the terminology and the practices associated with it today, have a long history of use by priestesses, priests and witches. Drawing Down the Moon is actually performed by the High Priest, who through his words and actions focuses the coven’s attention on the High Priestess in preparation for the Charge of the Goddess.

The use of the term ‘draw down the moon’ had a different meaning in classical times to the Wiccan usage today. It literally meant the descent of the Moon close to the earth (or an eclipse). The witches of Thessaly in ancient Greece were particularly famous for being able to draw down the moon from the heavens, and were described as using this technique for malefic emotional magick such as sexual control. References are made in many ancient works to their ability to do this, such as those of the first century BCE poets Propertius[1] and Virgil.[2]

It is likely that the phrase Drawing Down the Moon was derived from early English translations of Plato’s work. For example in Gorgias in 380 BCE he wrote:

“Like the Thessalian witches, who, as they say,

draw down the Moon from heaven.”

The fame of the Thessalian witches and their drawing down of the moon was such that they endured as a theme in ancient literature for centuries. One of the first such references was by the Greek playwright Aristophanes, who wrote in 423 BCE in his comedy The Clouds:

“Suppose I purchased a Thessalian witch,

And made her draw me down the moon by night;

Then shut it up, as if it were a mirror,

In a round bonnet box, and kept it there”

Indeed so well known was this association that the fourth century BCE poet Sosiphanes of Syracuse had a character in his lost tragedy Meleager remark that:

“Every chit of a girl in Thessaly can command the moon down from heaven by magic incantations – believe that if you will.”[3]

This practice was linked with eclipses in ancient times and seen as fooling the credulous. The writer Menander was said to have written a play specifically about this theme entitled The Thessalian Women, but no copy is known to have survived.

”According to Pliny, Menander, who was skilled in the subtleties of learning, composed a Thessalian drama, in which he comprised the incantations and magic ceremonies of women drawing down the moon. Pliny considers the belief in magic as the combined effect of the operations of three powerful causes, medicine, superstition, and the mathematical arts..."[4]

[1] Elegies I.1, Propertius, 1st century BCE [2] Eclogue 8, The Sorceress or Pharmaceutria, Virgil, 1st century BCE [3] Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta 12 92 F1 [4] The Southern Literary Messenger, Rhododaphne, Volume IX

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.



My name is Sorita d'Este

and this is my website and blog!  Thanks for visiting - I hope you are finding what you are looking for!


Many years ago I dedicated myself to the pursuit of both esoteric knowledge, and an understanding of polytheism, the Gods and Nature.  I have been a full-time writer, author and publisher, specialising subjects linked to the occult, witchcraft, Paganism, mythology, ancient religions and magic - and all kinds of things in between since 2003. 


I live on a hill in Glastonbury, overlooking the marshes of Somerset,  a place of myth and legend, and a crossroad for many different religions. Here I am frequently found digging and growing, serving my fluffy rescue cat and navigating the unknown with my teenage son.  

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