Fall is the perfect season to release that which no longer serves us. Try this moon ritual to help you let go and move on.
I love the fall—but it’s a complicated sort of love.
I welcome sweater season and nights that are dark and cool enough for hot baths, but it’s also a season of death. The trees die spectacularly, colorfully, wilting with a promise of later rebirth. The days get shorter and we enter a time when night rules the day. We say goodbye to sun season and begin to welcome the moon.
The mood shifts during this transitional time. We let go of the playful, relaxed dog days of summer, and we turn more serious, even studious, especially if you’re an eternal nerd like me who always loved school. The energy moves us inward, toward self-reflection.
Sun-worshiping has its place. The sun literally gives us light, and we should celebrate that in the blossoming spring and the ripeness of summer. But there’s also something about the season of death—a death that is cyclic, of course, a death that won’t last—that is nourishing and medicinal.
The moon becomes much more prominent when the nights get longer. We can feel the moon’s light more easily, see her growing from the darkness, shining in her fullness, and then slowly disappearing again into a nothingness that prepares itself to be born all over again. (For ideas on yoga tied to the lunar cycle, check out “Yoga for the Moon Cycles.”)
We watch the moon move and cycle and shift and change just as we do, different every day, but always cycling through the same pattern, growth and death, brightness and darkness.
Here’s a ritual you can do to help access the medicine of moon season.
1. Take a walk outside. Find a leaf that has already fallen off a tree (or is about to). Don’t pull anything off a living being that doesn’t easily fall into your hand.
2. Wait for nightfall. In a dark place of your choosing (ideally with some ventilation), collect the leaf along with a burn-proof bowl of water, a candle and lighter or match, and two small pieces of paper and a pen. You could also have a covering for your eyes like an eye mask or a scarf. Sit comfortably (or lie down) with your items in front of you.
3. With your eyes closed, eye mask on if you choose, with all the lights off, in as much darkness and quiet as is possible in your space, hold the fallen leaf in your hands. Sit quietly in the dark for five or ten minutes. Consider the last season, perhaps the last year, the last chapter in your life. Think about what you are saying goodbye to, what you are ready to allow to die with the season of death.
4. When this feels complete for you, light the candle. On one piece of paper, write down the words “I release” and list as many or as few things as you’d like that you are letting go of now.
5. Carefully light the paper on fire and allow it to burn over the bowl of water. You don’t have to burn up the whole thing, do not burn yourself! Drop the paper before you hurt yourself. Place the leaf on the ashy water.
6. Sit quietly for another five or ten minutes, eyes open, contemplating the candlelit water, and think about what you want to transform into. What will this water and ash nourish in your future? What do you hope to grow into in this moon season?
7. When this contemplation feels complete for you, write down the words “I draw in” on the second piece of paper and list as many or as few hopes, dreams, desires, and plans for the coming season as you’d like. This paper can stay somewhere close, like in your wallet or bedside table.
8. When the ritual is complete, take a little bit of the water and nourish a houseplant, a favorite tree, or garden with it (just a little—don’t drown the plant!) and discard the rest. The act of releasing the past helps us draw in the hope of the future.
Happy moon season!