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Astronomy News
Astronomy News


by Juan Antonio Revilla

I. The True or Osculating Black Moon.

   The true or osculating Black Moon is "a new arrival" into the pile of astrological "bodies" or sensitive points. It arrived in the early 90's, when it began to appear in published tables, at the same time than the centaurs. Like the centaurs, it requires research, hard work, and time.  However, it is often neglected in place of the "mean" value, either because a lack of understanding of how fictitious the mean Black Moon is, or from the empirical evidence that validates it.

   The Mean Apogee or Black Moon is an artifice, like the "fictitious Mean Sun" used by astronomers for the measurement of time. It moves very regularly, describing a perfect circle around the earth/moon barycenter (not the earth).  Its movement is actually as round and regular as the hands of a clock and it is very easy to calculate. This roundness of its motion is not a good representative of the nocturnal and magic demoness Lilith;  roundness and steady motion belongs to the Sun; it is alien to the world of the Moon.

   The Osculating Apogee, on the other hand, represents the shape of the lunar orbit at one specific instant of time.  It is not averaged as the mean apogee, and it is already geocentric, unlike the mean apogee.  Some people reject it because it doesn't make any sense to them to have it swing as much as 30 degrees from the mean position and have abrupt and irregular changes of velocity and direction, but I think it is precisely this erratic behavior what makes it the best representative of the irrational, instinctive, and primal symbolism of Lilith.

   This True Black Moon does not have the decades of astrological and interpretative elaboration that the Mean Black Moon has.  It has been available only after 1992.  You won't find simplistic formulas to make its interpretation easy.  It requires research and willingness to try the new.  It needs not receive the conventional meanings given to the round and astronomically featureless Mean Black Moon; but, as far as I am concerned, is the best symbolical representative of the demonical, nocturnal, and primal Lilith.

NOTE: for a long and detailed discussion of the astronomical difficulties and alternatives involved in the definition of the Black Moon, see my old compilation "An Astronomical Discussion of the Black Moon Lilith". For an answer to the common objections to the use of the osculating apogee, see my latest essay " Variants of the Apogee".

II. Astronomical Symbolism.

   One important distinction is that the apogee/perigee axis is very different from the ascending/descending nodes axis, because at the nodes there is an intersection of 2 planes, like a meeting, or a door from one level to another, or a confluence of 2 worlds (the lunar and the earth realms).

   But the apogee or the empty focus of the lunar orbit is a purely lunar realm.  It is not in contact with anything.  It is only the Moon per se, in isolation from everything else... therefore they are different concepts or orbital symbols.  The apogee/empty focus (="kenofocus") is really like a womb, a receptacle, an accumulator, a point of emptiness...

   As part of the "emptiness", this empty focus is also the place of dreams, the garden of desires, the pot at the end of the rainbow, the "impossible dream", the "primal mate", the twin-soul, etc... but this place is very, very dangerous... it can devour you like a whirlpool!

[NOTE: everything here refers to the osculating lunar apogee, not the mean apogee]

   Astronomically, the Black Moon is an isolated point, a point of neglect, repression, fermentation, and "magical" transformations that belong to a phantasmal, nocturnal, and instinctive/erotic world. It contains all the more instinctual energies (including the atavistic wisdom and clairvoyance, which is dependent on bodily functions) deep within the psyche, of which sexuality is of course paramount, and which manifest themselves in fairy tales and in primitive lunar symbolism: the night, the mystery, the magic, the danger, the secret, the fear, that which is forbidden...

   There is a dynamics between the 2 foci, they are seeing each other, like 2 twins, although one is physical and has weight while the other is absent and ghostly.  It represents an absence, a ghost, an emptiness, like the emptiness of the womb or an unattainable ideal. Seen dynamically, there will be important differences between men and women... which is part of the dynamics of the 2 foci seen each other and getting polarized, fighting against a ghost and against emptiness, or trying to attain its invisible and ideal part.

   One way of seeing its more negative manifestations, thinking on the "neglect" and "emptiness" of the empty focus of the Moon's orbit, is that the Black Moon is a reaction against the "reproductive" and mothering role which "chains" women and leaves them "empty" as individuals. Lilith can be seen as the polar opposite of this kind of woman, which, in turn, is a reaction against all sorts of forces that try to castrate a person.

III. The Psychological Realm of the Great Mother.

   Pshychologically, the symbolism of Lilith belongs to the Mother Archetype, especially in its manifestations of the Terrible Mother. Let me make a few short quotes from Jung in "Psychological aspects of the Mother Archetype":

<<Evil symbols are the witch, the dragon (or any devouring and entwining animal, such as a large fish or a serpent), the grave, the sarcophagus, deep water, death, nightmares and bogies (Empusa, Lilith, etc.)...>>

<<On the negative side the mother archetype may connote anything secret, hidden, dark; the abyss, the world of the dead, anything that devours, seduces, and poisons, that is terrifying and inescapable like fate.>>

<<The effects of the mother complex on the son may be seen in the ideology of the Cybele and Attis type: self-castration, madness, and early death.>>

   The following quote by another Jungian (Eric Neumann, in "The Origins and History of Consciousness") can almost be read as some modern astrological descriptions of Lilith:

<<Thus the Great Mother is uroboric: terrible and devouring, beneficent and creative; a helper, but also alluring and destructive; a maddening enchantress, yet a bringer of wisdom; bestial and divine, voluptuous harlot and inviolable virgin, immemorially old and eternally young...>>

   Jung divided the "mother complex" as it manifests in women in 4 different types (which I always related to the 4 "big four" traditional asteroids).  Lilith incarnates several aspects of what Jung calls "the overdeveloped eros", which can manifest like, for example, a tendency toward "the unscrupulous wrecking of marriages".  It often is the reaction against the purely instinctive and all-devouring "thrall of nature" mother:

<<The reactive intensification of the daughter's eros is aimed at some man who ought to be rescued from the preponderance of the female-maternal element in his life...>> (id.)

  NOTE: for an illustration of the "terrible/castrating mother" astrological role of the Black Moon, read the material on "Tchaikovsky and the Black Moon".

   The Black Moon takes hold of our emotions.  It is a reactive point, never a point of integration.  As such, it can cause strong identifications or very powerful projections of unconscious emotions which may not be recognized as such.  My feeling is that the Black Moon always works at this reactive level.

   Many of the characteristics of the Black Moon --and of the character of the legendary Lilith-- can be explained with the principle of "reaction formation ", defined as "an internal defense mechanism in which a no longer gratifiable motive (or one gratifiable only under threat of punishment) is replaced by a motive at the other end of the existing continuum" [ref.: "Dictionary of Psychology", Vol. 2, p.907, ed. Eysenck, Arnold and Meili, Fontana/Collins, 1975]

   [The authors give the following explanation: <<Primitive manipulation wishes (e.g. daubing) no longer satisfiable as formerly are released through violent desire for contact (which occurs much more often because of its minimal satisfaction value), prodigality through thrift, obscenity through extreme politeness, disappointed love through malevolent pursuit of the beloved. Characteristics of reaction formation  are the lack of ordinary, average forms of motive satisfaction and the inability to take advantage of the many possibilities of satisfaction as circumstances change, except by rigid adherence to extreme forms of gratification.>>]

IV. Atavistic wisdom and clairvoyance.

  The astronomical counterpart of the earth is the Sun, not the empty focus of the lunar orbit.  Integration is always in the direction of the Sun. The astrological Moon is where the unconscious emotions may become conscious, but the Black Moon, isolated and hot/cold, fire and ice, Unicorn-like, is like a place where there is never light, where it is always dreamy, like the dark side of the Moon. For this reason it may be a point where "consciousness" and energy may concentrate, but it is a slumber type of consciousness, an "entrance" into a world where knowledge is acquired by dreaming, not by thinking...

   The way I'm using "magic" regarding the Black Moon is in the more traditional sense, related to occultism and "ancient" magicians like the legendary Merlin.  This is to me the realm of the Black Moon, which we can see full-blown in legends, myths, and fairy tales.  They all talk of things that are very "real" but not physical, or belonging to a time when the Earth itself was not as physical as today, and when people lived more in the astral than in the physical plane.  In a nutshell, it is the "astral" or imaginative world, where things do indeed change shape constantly.

   I believe that, today, we misinterpret many of the ancient --even medieval-- traditions and legends because we expect them to refer to a world like ours, while the truth --to me-- is that pre-enlightenment people had an atavistic clairvoyance and wisdom, which in occultism is related to the dark Moon and dark Sun forces-- that allowed them to perceive many things that people today do not perceive any more.  The Dark or Black Moon, because of its astronomical symbolism, is for me the best tool there is to represent this "occult" level of reality, the world that is at the other side of the mirror, or, if you want it, the "Twilight Zone".

   They had access to levels of perception that we don't have today, or only few people have what was common for them: atavistic wisdom and clairvoyance.  Becuase of this, we "explain out" what looks as fantasy for us, ignoring that it was real experience for them.  For example, succubi and incubi ("evil" Lilithian spirits) do exist today as they did back then, but because we do not normally perceive or "see" them (they can be perceived and seen in action under abnormal circumstances), we *believe* they are just "childish" explanations of their fears or lack of psychological and medical knowledge.  There is a fashion today of "angels", which looks quite shallow when we realize how much the dark side of the spirit world is ignored, making it more powerful.

   Bats represent this very well, for example, or gargoyles, among many other things The demoness Lilith and her different guises --putting aside the modern feminist approach which pretends to wipe the "demon" part-- is to me a very good mythological figure for this.

   Like Hekate, the Black Moon is a "Queen of the Night", and negatively it is demonic (black magic) and vampiresque, while positively it is related to sexual initiation and transformational magic, a symbolic and oniric/artistic/imaginative world of primal wisdom that resists rationalization.

V. Lilith and the demon world.

   Often, regarding Lilith, the traditional negative or "demonic" associations are rejected as being the result of the judeo-christian "male superiority" and "ego" ideologies.  But this doesn't change to me the fact that there are still many demons inside of both men and women, and that the world of the night with all its mystery and magic still exists, although in areas and in ways different from those of the past.

   Neither "castration" nor "sexuality" are limited to genitality. Especially from the mythical Lilith point of view, associated with the Genesis story, where sexuality marks the beginning of consciousness. I still feel that Lilith is strongly related to a woman's man inside, and man's woman inside, and how one deals with that.  "Demons" are treated differently today, seen more as social and psychological projections, but they are still at work in man and in woman, and are strongly related to sexuality, like consciousness.  We all have our nights, our night-world. I would personally never loose sight of the symbolism of the night regarding the Black Moon.  In my book, Lilith is never fully alive and awake.  That is the Sun. A Lilithan person can become solar, but Lilith must remain Lilith.

   "Demons", "castration", "darkness", psychological "vampirism", "succubi" and "incubi", and all the other "terrible mother" manifestations associated with the demonic "evil" aspect of Lilith are all part of the psyche of men and women, appearing today in different guises, and the "Black"/"Dark" Moon are excellent astrological and astronomical symbols for them. To me, the Black Moon belongs to the world of the dark and the womb, in both its terrible and its more positive transformational magic aspects.

   I am not saying that the Black Moon is *only* this. All the modern psychological interpretations of ancient demonical and magical lore, are another face of the same thing, which can be both very "good" and very "evil". By ignoring our shadows we make them more powerful. 

   Powerlessness and abuse suffered in early life can create very strong reaction formations that make people "hate" their own vulnerability and feelings, and this can manifest outward as feelings against those that show these traits. All this can be very complicated, "twisted", and dark. Sexuality is often the playground of unconscious reactions of this type, and the more negative or demonic traits of the Lilith legend can be (and are often in the literature) explained this way.

VI. The Emancipation of Women

   I feel the Black Moon is also related to the emancipation of women from their "womb" destiny, their sexual liberation.  But the Black Moon is a reactive point astronomically, a point where a lot of energy can concentrate but which cannot "integrate" or "bring liberation" by itself.  It is more like a pot, or a pit... it cannot be "an integrated woman".  That is why I think the modern "redemptive" transformations of the Lilith figure are probably better seen in other bodies capable of transcendence (unlike the Black Moon), such as the centaurs

   A girl may have a reactive defense mechanism against the mother, and refuse to submit to "nature", especially if she doesn't feel loved by his father.  A loving and strong father will make her use her masculinity to fight integratively in a harmonious assertion of her womanhood.  Then probably other feminine asteroids take over, those that deal with a woman's creative role in the community (the main belt), or with transcendent excursions into the prohibited or illicit regions of the centaurs (and to a larger extent, of the Damocloids).  These are the ones that break the rules and jump fences and tabus.

   The Black Moon is not a dynamic point.  It is only reactive, an accumulator or attractor.  If it becomes too strong, or if the woman identifies with the Lilith archetype too much, then it becomes a point of rejection and negation, like a no-Moon, an anti-Moon. Perhaps it could be seen as the point where a woman's "destiny in chains" consequence of her "womb" or of her enslaved sexuality is trying to engulf her, and the result may be either the acceptance of her own and ancestral past and its creative transcendence by "jumping" into the more dynamic world of the (also dark) asteroids and centaurs, or the surrender to the neurotic identification with an archetype (in this case, Lilith).

   The Lilith archetype, then, can be found in several different astronomical bodies or points, each expressing a different aspect of the archetype according to its astronomical and orbital symbolism.  I have often expressed my opinion that there are Lilithian overtones in the centaur Chariklo, for example.  Recall my keywords for Chariklo:

matriarchate, the Queen of spades, mature passions sadness, widowhood, illicit love caring for the sick, the dying, the weak sober celebration, moral emancipation and freedom .

   There are probably many Lilith associations of the Black Moon that belong more properly to the asteroid 1181 Lilith or to centaurs like Chariklo.  Astronomically speaking, 1181 is a social asteroid, but the Black Moon is not a social point.  I think a separation is useful, and perhaps sexual equality issues are better measured by the asteroid or by the female centaurs, since it has to do with the (changing) values and costumes in a society.

   The Damocloids (1999RG33, 1999LD31, etc) for example, not yet named and more assertive (and with better calculated orbits) than the centaurs, look as very good candidates to incarnate the more tabu and prejudice-breaking aspects of Lilith's modern (good and evil) transformations.

    The level in which the Black Moon (not necessarily Lilith!) works is very primal and stemming from sexuality and body-energies --which is not the same as genitality-- while the asteroid 1181 Lilith is (or should be from its astronomical characteristics) more concerned with community or more social issues.  The Black Moon is more related to the past, to the origins, to the "uroboric mother".

VII. Conclusions.

   When I first started to visualize the centaurs, because of their orbits which can be associated with jetsam, chaos, and fragmentation (also, mythologically, with what is "raw" and wild), I felt that the "shadow" aspect of our personality, memory, history, etc., could be related to them. I still feel that way, but as my mind began to settle about what of the alternative "Black Moons" to use, I am beginning to incorporate its symbolism, which, obviously, works at a different level than the centaurs, the level of the Lunar world in the "occult" way, i.e., more a function of the womb-mother-body energies, including atavistic wisdom and dream-like spiritual perception.

   With the centaurs, as with the Black Moon, something similar happens when dealing with the idea of "fragmentation" which they --among many other things-- represent.  Their action CAN result in a further and higher integration of the individual, but this integration, at least in my opinion, is no longer them, but other planets, especially Jupiter and the Sun. It is the Sun what represents the spiritual individuality. Lilith --the empty focus of the Moon-- could never represent that.

  I have always argued for a differentiation or separation of levels when one is interpreting, i.e., an asteroid cannot be interpreted in the same level than the empty focus of the Moon's orbit (the true osculating Black Moon), in the same way than a centaur or trans-neptunian cannot be interpreted like a main-belt asteroid.

   Perhaps it is here where the role of the Lilithian asteroids becomes important.  They represent higher levels of the Lilith function, from the Hekates and Lilith-likes of the main belt working on the social-community level to the feminine centaurs breaking all the rules and transgressing the established moralities, giving the archetype Lilith the opportunity to be free from the emptiness of the lunar womb, and become really cosmic, a "citizen of the galaxy".

Juan Antonio Revilla
San Josť, Costa Rica,  June 27, 2000
revised June 2003.


1-) The lunar apogee or "Black Moon" and the archetype "Lilith" are not the same thing. Lilith extends beyond the lunar realm and transcends it, it can manifest in different asteroids/planets or astrological factors. Especially the more redemptive aspects of Lilith (the emancipation of women) cannot belong to the lunar apogee (NOTE: this is developed at length here)

2-) The symbolism of the Black Moon cannot go beyond what the Moon represents, and it is not the Moon but a "ghost", a point of its orbit that is isolated. It is not a planet in its orbit, but a reflection of it "that is not there", a point that is empty, a no-Moon.

3-) Psychologically, it is a point that represents how we react to its emptiness, isolation, and unapproachability. But we don't react with it, we react with what we are equipped with (planets, the Sun especially). The reaction can "make us free" from it or redeem us, or it can drag us towards it like a whirlpool.

4-) The Black Moon is totally lunar, it is the dark/oniric aspect of the lunar realm. Each astrological factor has its own scope, it belongs to its own sphere or realm. The "emancipation" of Lilith, symbolically, is Lilith being liberated from the Black Moon, which is its cage.

NOTE: see my recent essay "Variants of the Apogee".


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