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Moon Rituals: Tending Your Internal Garden

Beautiful new moon at sunset in Madagascar


“New moons are related to water and fertility. Metaphorically, in the dark of the new moon, we pause to consider our desires, set intentions, and think about what we might want to put our energy into as the moon waxes towards full.”

When you were a kid, did you ever have the experience of looking up at the moon some night out a car window as you raced down the road, the moon almost seeming to follow you? Have you ever felt like the moon was watching you?

One of my favorite things about moon practices is that we all share that same moon. Everyone sees the same phases, but we can have such incredibly intimate and personal moments when we look up from our daily lives to gaze at her. Even after a lifetime of watching the moon, she still stuns me with her spectacular beauty from time to time, hanging low and golden over the mountains, blushed pink in the early evenings or cool blue at dawn. The moon does not belong to any particular religion or spirituality or cult. The moon belongs to all of us and none of us at the same time.

In traditional farming practices, new moons represented the time to plant seeds, while the full moons were harvest time. New moons are related to water and fertility. Metaphorically, in the dark of the new moon, we pause to consider our desires, set intentions, and think about what we might want to put our energy into as the moon waxes towards full. During the full moon, we look at what we have been doing, where we have been putting our energy. We consider what we might want to let go of in our lives and allow it to ebb away with the waning moon, which is considered a drier time, better for weeding and pruning.

Every month, we have an opportunity to check in with our intentions and weed our metaphorical gardens. Sometimes I get into a rhythm where I follow each cycle of the moon and create a small ritual with each moon phase. But I can also leave it for weeks or months, then pick it up whenever I feel like I need that in my life. The moon is always and forever changing, but also always and forever there for me, reminding me of how things will keep cycling whether I’m paying attention or not.

New moon cycles remind me that there are times in my life when I need to slow down and get quiet. I teach a weekly yoga class based on practicing around the moon cycles, and inevitably my students do tend to feel a little quieter and more introverted around the new moon. During this time, we move slowly and focus on hip opening. During full moons, we can feel like our emotions are a little closer to the surface—as if a light were shining in a place that’s normally dark. Here we need to move dynamically, breathe out, twist, get the blood flowing. During the mid-moons, we are all a little more balanced. If the moon is waxing, we can learn something new, practicing more challenging poses like inversions. If the moon is waning, we can review what we’ve already learned and work on stability and refinement. Most of all, we work with the deeply comforting knowledge that our bodies have cycles and we feel better when we honor those, trusting that, inevitably, next week will feel a little different.

The simplest way to work with the new moons is to take a little time out for quiet reflection and ask, “what do I desire?” On the full moons, we also need a little pause, but here, the question is: “what do I want to let go of?” This practice can be as unique and personal as the human being doing that ritual, but if you’d like to follow along with me, try the guided meditations on my blog for the upcoming new and full moons whenever you need to feel connected to the constant cycling practice of life.

Also read Julie’s “Full Moon Meditation for Clearing and Letting Go.”

About the Author

Julie Peters

Julie Peters is a staff writer for Spirituality & Health. She is also a yoga teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) and co-owner of Ocean and Crow Yoga studio in Vancouver, BC, with her mom, Jane. She is the author of Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationships, and the Art of Being Broken (SkyLight Paths 2016) and WANT: 8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault (Mango Media 2019). Learn more at Follow her at @juliejcp.

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