An energetic determination. Mind over matter.
It’s something I’ve been meaning to cultivate more of in my life for quite some time now. For too long I’ve let myself live under the illusion that certain areas of my life were simply out of my control; that I would just have to live with things the way they were, that I’d have to make do. My addictive personality and short temper? They’re hereditary, end of story. The often debilitating menstrual cramps I get every month? Just my lot in life.
While it’s true that some things do, in fact, just happen to us without our influence – I certainly didn’t ask that driver to zoom past me during a recent downpour and leave me soaking wet from dirty road puddle water – the truth is that most of the time, life is happening for us, not to us. All it took was a small shift in perspective for me to realize that fact, and to start taking the steps towards living a more empowered life. The shift wasn’t something that happened overnight or even a few days. It stemmed from a gut feeling, a deep knowing, that’s been brewing inside of me for months now, and only recently have I had the guts to actually take action on it.
Learning Tarot – which I only started in November of 2018 – was what really kick-started this whole empowered living thing. It’s been a critical tool for helping me manage depression and find new reasons to be excited about life. It’s opened up my eyes to a completely new point of view that I’ll be forever grateful for. And, indirectly, (or, perhaps quite directly depending on what you believe,) Tarot led me to an interest in astrology, but mostly the Moon and her phases.
Lunar cycles are something I’d had a passing curiosity in before; ever since I started tracking my own cycle I’d wondered what impact, if any, the moon had on it, and the general rhythms of life. After a bit of cursory research and the addition of a few handy apps to my phone, I was hooked. (I am hooked.) When this past December’s New Moon arrived, I lit a candle, set an intention, and patted myself on the back for a job well done. The only (massive) problem was, there was no follow-through on that intention. I was reverting to old habits of inaction and not bothering to take charge of my own fate.
I knew I wanted to try again (for real) and I figured a bit of extra guidance could be valuable. So, before the January New Moon – it’s seriously great that with every month comes a new opportunity to work with this practice – I purchased the book Lunar Abundance by Dr. Ezzie Spencer. While I need to reserve my final verdict on the book until I’ve read it through and experienced all 8 moon phases explored inside, I can honestly say Spencer’s approach has already resonated with me through just a few chapters. The framework she provides understands the limitations of our modern world and offers concrete action to take beyond just lighting candles and speaking an intention into the ether.
On the 5th of January, 2019, I conducted my first New Moon Ritual and was so stoked by the experience, I was inspired to share it.
The New Moon was set to hit at 8:28pm, so I carved out some Me Time between 8:20 and 10pm. Before the time came, though, I wanted to have a couple of things ready. First, I downloaded a few guided meditations – this one from Lunar Abundance is great, but I’m sure there are loads of options if you just search for New Moon Visualization or New Moon Meditation. Everyone has different preferences for this stuff – for example, I loathe being told to breathe more than once or twice – so it’s best to find something that works for your style. Second, and more importantly, I knew the intention I wanted to set for the month ahead.
“I feel clear and light as I invite willpower into my heart and mind.”
Your intention could be anything, but what I’m learning through Lunar Abundance, is that it works best if it’s feelings-based. Working with the moon cycles has a lot to do with tapping back into our bodies and the way we feel, so, setting an intention that pushes you to consider how you really want your body to feel is ideal. Your intention could come with a corresponding goal – mine does; more on that another time – but it certainly doesn’t have to.
Ok, now for the actual ceremony…
The first thing I did was choose a space where I’d be comfortable for the hour and more. I’m lucky enough to have a little nook in my basement, complete with a comfy couch, and some string lights for setting a calming mood. This was a great spot for my first time, away from the distractions of my main floor, but I am looking forward to the warmer months where I can sit outside and feel a deeper connection with the more earthly surroundings.
I brought an extra blanket – because I’m always cold – my Tarot deck, a notebook and pen, as well as my phone and headphones. With two chairs I created a makeshift table for my Tarot reading and then chose a few items from my altar – candles, sage bundle, ash bowl, pentacle, matches – to bring closer to my setup.
After getting thoroughly comfortable and lighting my favourite candles – one for each element – I lit one of my sage bundles and moved it through the space around me. I’m still unsure of how this practice affects external energies, but I do know it makes me feel rather relaxed; I love watching the smoke as it dances through the air, and I quite enjoy the aroma it leaves behind. I repeated this a few times throughout the ceremony, whenever I needed to boost the soothing vibes.
My plan was to then sit quietly and check-in with different parts of my body to see how they felt, but I’m not very good at this exercise – yet. I basically just sit there, waiting for magic to happen, and then get frustrated when my toe just feels like a toe. So, instead, I put on the New Moon Meditation from Lunar Abundance and allowed myself to get even more relaxed. I tried the check-in exercise again – not too much progress, but practice makes perfect – and then I attempted to envision (and feel, enfeeling…) what sensations would be present when putting my intention into practice. It felt great, and while I’m guessing most of it was in my head, it was still inspiring.
The next step was to get out my notebook and brainstorm how I could bring my intention into everyday life. In the end, I decided on a few simple but effective ideas: say the words aloud everyday in the shower; write the words down and display them in both my home office and on my altar; take a few minutes everyday to practice checking-in with my body, first to see how I feel now, then to envision my intention. Hopefully, the gap between those two states of being will become narrower and narrower until I achieve my intention.
Once I felt satisfied with my plan of action, I shifted into the Tarot portion of my ceremony. Again, I need help calming down and getting focused, so I listened to a guided visualization (one I received with the purchase of this book on Tarot) to get in touch with my intuition. It was super encouraging and I was pumped for a good reading.
And then, just at that very moment, my fiancé arrived home from a walk with our dog, who came barreling down the stairs to announce her presence, leaving muddy pawprints everywhere. Now, 99.9% of the time, those Hellos (minus the pawprints) bring me such joy but at that moment in time, it was incredibly frustrating. I had a choice: get aggravated and give up, or try to get back to center and keep going.
Obviously, I kept going; my intention was to cultivate more willpower, after all.
The Tarot spread I chose, a New Moon Manifestation spread – which you can find here – offered, well, a mixed bag, to be honest. It’s not the best spread I’ve ever done but certainly not the worst, either. I think I was a bit off my game after the abrupt interruption, and I plan on giving the spread another go at the next New Moon to see if my opinion changes. At any rate, the parts of it that were good, were really good; very illuminating.
Once I finished jotting down my overall thoughts on the reading, I sat quietly in the space for a few moments to take it all in. I let the calm of my surroundings wash over me once more, soaked up a few more hints of sage, and felt a sense of success in completing my first New Moon ceremony. Also, I remember wishing I had some dark chocolate with me, so that’s definitely on my list for next time!
For the rest of the night – and the weekend in general – I felt super chill and content. It was like a switch had been flipped inside me; one marked “willpower.” I feel more in control than I have in, well, ever. And whenever I need a little encouragement, saying my intention out loud really helps.
Here’s the honest truth: I NEVER, EVER, THOUGHT I WOULD CARE ABOUT OR BELIEVE IN ANY OF THIS “WOO WOO” SPIRITUAL STUFF – sorry for yelling, but it needed emphasis – but I DO, and it’s working for me, and I’m happier than I’ve been in a long, long time.
So, maybe you should give it a go? It might be just what’s missing from your life, too.
I’ll catch up with you lovelies in a few weeks; I’ll update you on my progress with the willpower intention, and share the details of my first Full Moon ritual.