Less than a century ago the moon’s perpetual cycle shaped the rhythmic way of life. Living and following the lunar calendar and honouring its cycles provided a constant momentum, and daily rituals planned around these times maintained a healthy mind, body and spirit. In our busy modern world, with so much external stimulation from technology and society as a whole, we’ve lost our connection to nature and its cycles of reaping and sowing, waxing and waning.
The lunar calendar offers us a deeper connection with our intuition and seasonal nature. It provides us an opportunity to regularly check in with ourselves, set new intentions, validate our thoughts, and plan what’s next with greater ease and flow. Essentially, we can use each phase of the moon to harness more of what we need in our lives; self care, productivity, outward connection, or inner contemplation. By understanding the four main moon phases we can begin to recognise our own changing cycles so that we can plan more effectively. The moon invites us to align more closely to the natural world and attune to its cyclical nature so that we can consciously tap into the energy and wisdom of each phase.
You’ve heard me say it before; I believe that if we want to live more optimally we must learn to become more sensitive to the rhythmic patterns of the seasons and how these fluctuations affect the way we feel towards ourselves and to our environment. How we respond to the pattern of each day, and each season, has much to do with our vital interconnection with nature’s rhythms and cycles, whilst paying attention to our own.
Following the moon
The moon’s transition from one phase to the next is known as the lunation cycle. The moon has eight phases – the most commonly known being; the new moon, waxing moon, full moon, and waning moon.
The new moon is the first phase of the moon, when the moon is at its darkest and from here it gradually builds in strength toward the full moon over the following two weeks. In farming traditions the new moon is the time when the soil is most fertile and wet. Many farmers plant seeds on the new moon as the moon’s lunar gravity pulls water up. The modern version “biodynamics” was redefined by Rudolph Steiner less than a century ago, and builds on the concept of organic farming by combining it with the ancient lunar planting method and the use of natural remedies. The biodynamic standpoint is that all living beings are interconnected and part of a large macro-organism. We can learn a lot from this wisdom alone.
The new moon is a growth phase; a more introspective time that represents new beginnings as we plant seeds in our hearts for the future. The new moon is an invitation to start afresh, call forth new intentions, clarify goals, and start new projects for the next cycle. It’s also a good time to let go of what is no longer serving us, so that we can welcome in the new. It’s a time to forgive and let go, to renew our inner vibrational energy and meditate on who we are and who we would like to become, and establish strategies to reach our higher potential.
The waxing moon is when the light of the moon gradually begins to expand and grow in its fullness. During the waxing moon, the lunar cycle moves from new moon to full moon, bringing with it the energy of potency, regeneration, and rejuvenation. It offers rest, reprieve, strength, and a natural period for us to absorb and retain our health and creativity. The waxing moon is a time for transformation, new ideas, fresh energy, nurturing dreams, overcoming obstacles and perhaps some breakthroughs. It’s the time to refocus energy, to nourish the self, and to reach goals and embrace dreams.
The full moon is the phase when the sun illuminates the entire moon, making it as full, round and bright as can be. It’s the state of glorious fullness, a time of heightened intuitive awareness, allowing us to overcome emotional blockages. Whatever is going on in our inner and external lives will likely be amplified. This phase represents completion, fertility and abundance, when the seeds of the new moon come into bloom. However, because the moon is directly opposite the sun during this phase, it can also be a time of friction and more intense emotional energy. Everything is in full illumination, which also means it’s a good time to look honestly at the full spectrum of what is or isn’t working for us, listening closely to what we intuitively want to shed, let go of, and release.
During the waning cycle of the moon, when the moon is in transit from full to new, there is a dominant force of cleansing and reorientation, offering us the opportunity to expend energy, complete tasks, strengthen our breath power and life force, and bring the fruits of our labour to completion. The waning moon represents the decreasing of the moon’s light, inviting us to surrender and soften. It’s a period of renewal and rest. You may find that you can lean into this phase intuitively, or you may have to consciously carve out the time to pause and reflect.
After the active glow of the full moon, the waning moon begins to darken, inviting us to shed and release. This is a good phase to reflect and contemplate what is coming to a close so that we can prepare new seeds or tend to those that need nurturing. The waning moon is also a time to declutter, decrease, cleanse, heal, and allow your intuition to flow fully. When in-sync with these lunar rhythms, the body can detoxify and purify, breaking down fat cells and eliminating the toxins stored therein. Gentle cleanses undertaken during this phase are often more effective and act on a deeper level.
The moons influence and mindfulness
The moon’s influence is wide-ranging. In numerous traditions around the world, health is a state of balance within nature, when the body is in tune with the pulse of the planet and the rhythms of the moon.
Each lunar phase corresponds with a concept or action that can help bring an intention to life. At the physical level we can tune into the phases when we are nourishing ourselves, developing a movement practice, or mind body practice. Tuning into the lunar cycle can complement and empower these daily rituals and choices. Being in tune with the moon’s phases is powerful and can bring awareness and help us understand our emotions. We can embrace the lunar cycle as a map for mindfulness and rituals that offer us a grounding perspective and helps us to face our days with resilience. By understanding our emotional patterns, we can support our nervous system and our hormonal responses, reduce stress, and find inner harmony.
Moon rituals as a form of self-care
Working with the phases of the moon is a great way to delve deeper into our emotions and intuition, or as a useful tool for better understanding the feminine cycle.
I make a special note of every new moon and full moon in my calendar, to help me tap into my own ebb and flow of my natural body rhythms and how to harness the power of each of the distinct seasons of my own cycle. Check the moon phases calendar or app to mark all the new moons and full moons for 2021 in your calendar, so that you have them noted down.
Creating rituals around the moon cycles is a powerful way to connect and set aside some space for a self-care practice each month. I’ve been paying attention to the moon phases for a while in relation to my monthly cycle and my emotions, but as I started to research more about the lunar cycles, I discovered that each cycle offered a powerful time to set simple rituals to reconnect and tune into my body’s needs.
A new moon practice
As we begin the new moon phase and today marks the Chinese Lunar New Year, it seemed fitting to share a simple new moon practice to cleanse, clear and illuminate space. It is best to carry out the practice 48 hours once the new moon begins, but don’t worry if you miss it this time – the new moon occurs every 29.5 days, making it easy to create a monthly intention setting practice.
Take your seat
Find a comfortable place to sit, using cushions or a bolster to support your hips and/or knees. Create a corner in your home that is meaningful and reserved for your practices – a corner that makes you feel inspired, grounded, and connected. Light a candle and burn some palo santo incense or white sage to clear space in preparation for your practice.
Regulate your breathing
Place one hand on your belly and the other on your heart. Start by taking some slow, long breaths, starting with a count of two as you breathe in and a count of two as you breathe out, releasing any tension in your body. Increase to four counts if this feels comfortable. Long and smooth inhales and exhales. Focus on the rhythmic pattern of your breath. If thoughts come into your head, just simply acknowledge them, bringing the focus back to your breath. Continue for as long as feels good to you, but around 10-15 minutes is a good place to start.
Finish the practice by slowly bringing your awareness back to the room, giving gratitude for yourself for the time you’ve taken to slow down and be present.
Write it down
I recommend designating a special notebook for your moon practices. Open your notebook and write the date. Next write down 2 or 3 intentions you’d like to usher in to the next cycle. Keep statements in the positive, such as “I am,” rather than “I need” or “I want.” Spend a few minutes focusing on each intention that you’ve written down. Read it out loud and note how you feel. Does it resonate? If not, take it off. If you can really feel and sense how the intention feels in your body, then it’s more likely to come into reality.
As you go through the next cycle, be grateful as your intentions come to life and note them down. Some intentions take longer to evolve and may need to be evaluated again at the next new moon cycle.
Setting aside some time each month to carry out a simple moon practice can be meaningful, nourishing, and healing. I like to see it as another tool in my toolkit to help me stay connected to myself, my intuition, and the natural cycles of the moon.
“Just like the Moon, your greatest magic will come in times of darkness when you have no choice but to trust your own power.” – spirit daughter