It’s a dilemma: How to find a spiritual community if you’re not attending religious services.
In many traditional cultures, each month had (and still has) a full moon with a symbolic name. These names generally align with seasonal happenings and what people once needed to do for survival during that particular time of year. The name for January’s lunation is the Wolf Moon, according to Wiccan, English Medieval, and many Native American traditions. The Wolf Moon refers to the wolves that would howl in the long dark nights during this time of the year. The Cree people refer to it as the Cold Moon, and for the Dakota it is the Severe Moon.
As all these names indicate, there is something cold, hard, and a little scary about January’s full moon time. From the perspective of people who lived off the land, this would have been the time when food stores from the harvest were running out, and the abundance of the spring was still very far away. It would have been easy to go hungry during this time.
Though many of us in the present day live in urban environments where food is plentiful, there is still something severe about January. The holidays are over, and we’re in a bit of a spiritual hangover. The fun and connection that took place throughout December is now over; alternatively, if the holidays were stressful for you, you may still be in recovery mode in January. The nights are still long, dark, and cold, and the promise of spring feels so far away. This can be a dark time, literally and figuratively.
Our vital energy is very low in January. We have moved past the energetic nadir of the winter solstice, which means the light of the sun is beginning to wax again, but just barely. If we set New Year’s resolutions, they do best in the realm of dreams and intentions right now—new things are much easier to start in the spring, especially when our intentions involve changing ingrained habits that give us comfort and a sense of safety. It’s easy to get depressed in January—classically, the third Monday in January is known as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year.
When our spirits are not fed appropriately in January, we can feel like wolves howling desperately at the moon, our deepest hungers gnawing at our souls. This is exacerbated when we try to ignore that hunger, push through our physical and emotional needs, and then get down on ourselves for failing.
There are ways to balance the dark energies of January’s Wolf Moon. Here are some things you can do to get through Blue Monday and beyond.
Meet yourself as you are. Remove any expectation that you should feel cheerful or full of energy, and honor what’s happening for you right now.
Remove any shame or guilt for wanting or needing more rest or alone time. This is natural and should be encouraged during the darker half of the year.
Nourish your spirit with meditation, reflection, and whatever practices help you connect with your higher self or whatever your conception of spirituality may be.
Nourish your body with warm, cooked, feel-good seasonal foods.
Beware of New Year’s resolutions that involve restricting calories or forcing exercise that does not feel right to you.
Engage in movement practices that you genuinely enjoy, acknowledging that you will not have as much energy to push toward certain fitness goals now and that you may have an easier time doing that in the spring.
Spend time outside during daylight hours. Breathe the fresh air. Try to find beauty in the natural world.
If and when necessary, get support from counselors, healers, or trusted friends. Holding your emotions inside can make you sick; make sure you are sharing them safely.
Happy Full Wolf Moon!
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