As spiritual practitioners, our goal is to utilize our practices to create a constant internal connection. Even when we do enough practice to make this possible, it is a wise idea to keep up with practices that help us to maintain this connection on a regular basis.
This is akin to keeping a well-running vehicle clean with a trip to the car wash. All the little things you do daily in your practice help to keep your psychospiritual container clean and running well.
A great way to stay attuned to your bliss as well as participate with the cycles of the outer world is through full and new moon ceremonies.
These rituals are powerful to share with a partner or with friends, so encourage your significant other or a satsang (spiritual community) to join you in your new and full moon rituals.
The full and new moon have been occasions of ritual and introspection since time immemorial, and the fluctuations of the moon have a profound effect on our psyches. The moon, along with the sun, is the ruler of the third eye center. Attention to the moon helps us retain clear vision and an ability to consistently reflect our blissful nature out into the world. As we watch the cycles of the moon, we participate in the world around us and come into accord with nature and the wisdom the lunar cycle reveals.
Ancient peoples charted life through the cycles of the moon, using its rhythms to determine when to plant and harvest crops. We use the cycles of the moon to determine when to plant new things in our lives, when to harvest that which has ripened, or cull that which needs to be released. The process of spiritual practice is just that—a process. As it is never ending, using the cycles of the moon continuously renews our commitment to psychospiritual health and bliss.
New Moon Ritual
The new moon is a time of darkness and introspection during which we prepare ourselves for the coming light. As such, it is a time for planting the seeds that we want to grow in the coming months. The new moon is a good time to take stock of our life, actions, practice, relationship, and spiritual endeavors to see what needs fortification, renewal, or regeneration. It is a time of quiet darkness, so reflect upon any shadowy aspects of the psyche that have as yet been left untended. If you have a calling that you have not yet heeded, or an adventure that you have not yet embarked upon, the new moon is a great time to plan your next moves.
To do your new moon ritual, recruit your whole body into the process by bathing (if possible) beforehand. This cleanses yourself of any residual karmic dirt from the past moon cycle so that you start anew. If this isn’t possible, anoint yourself with florida water, or circle your body three times with sage, sweetgrass, or palo santo to get the same effect. Once your physical form is ready for the ritual, light a candle and some incense, and sit quietly with pen and paper. At the top of the page, write the date and, if known, the astrological sign of this new moon. At the bottom of the page write “…to the extent that it serves the highest good.” This frees ourselves of any negative karma we overlooked in our consideration of what we write. We definitely don’t want our ritual to bind us further, so we add in this clause.
In the body of the page, write all that you would like to plant and grow during this new moon cycle. Attention to the astrological sign gives you information as to what categories of things are useful to include in the body of your writing (list is included below). For example, if you’re performing this ritual in an Aries new moon, write about cultivating personal power, creating greater physical health or tending to your sexual vitality. Generally, what you plant in a given new moon will ripen and be ready for harvest approximately six months later when the full moon of that same sign appears. Regardless, write what your heart and soul inspire you to call forth from within, remembering that this ritual is for you—you cannot affect anyone else’s life in this process. Take this time to consider what is most beneficial for the continued growth of your own soul.
Once you write your intentions, place a selection of your favorite sacred symbols within your ritual space and light a candle. Sit in a comfortable position and close the eyes. Call in the spirit of the new moon to aid you in this ritual process:
New moon, please plant within me the seeds of what I wish to grow at this time. Nourish my harvest, make it fruitful and abundant, so that I may express myself fully through these intentions.
After invoking the new moon, read aloud the intentions you set for this process. If you share this ceremony with a partner or friends, ask everyone to read their intentions aloud. Voicing intentions makes them more powerful and brings what is inside of you out to be manifest in the world as your growing reality. Once you state your intentions, sit in quiet contemplation or meditation. You may do other invocations at this time, and use the energy of the new moon to plant within you the seeds of healing, awakening, clarifying your light (energetic) body or maintaining your blissful connection.
When you complete your meditation, snuff the candle and close the ritual with a mantra or a chant. Om is appropriate here because the moon rules the third eye center, whose bija mantra is Om. Place your written intentions somewhere that you see them and remind yourself of them daily.
Full Moon Ritual
The full moon is a time of brightness, where the moon reflects fully the light of the sun—metaphorically speaking, the light of total conscious awareness. The full moon is symbolically is a time where consciousness and unconsciousness are in accord and in perfect reflection of one another. As such, it is a time of fulfillment that, like all things, has an end. We enjoy about three days in the light of the full moon before it begins to wane again. We embrace the fulfillment of the full moon as a moment to honor and cherish that which we’ve grown, and to let fall away that which we no longer need for the new journey ahead.
The full moon is our chance to let go. Just as we did with the new moon ritual, we prepare for this ceremony by bathing, if possible. This loosens anything that we need to wash away or burn up as a part of this ritual. Anointing yourself with florida water or cleansing with sage, sweetgrass, or palo santo is an alternative. When you are ready, light a candle (or several) and a stick of incense and prepare your space for the ritual. Just as you did in the new moon ceremony, write the date and the astrological sign the moon is in at the top of a piece of paper. At the bottom of the page, write, “…to the extent that it serves the highest good” to ensure a karma-free ritual.
In the body of the page, write all the things that you are ready to let go. Write down things that no longer serve you, any blockages to success and happiness, or any grudges you carry. Let go of the things you have no control over and anything that addresses the astrological realm that the full moon is highlighting (a list is provided below). When you finish writing your intentions, it is time to burn them. Fire, as the most transformative element we have inside and out, turns what we are ready to let go into fuel for new possibilities.
Use a metal bowl or ceramic pot to safely burn your piece of paper, or burn the paper in your sink to contain the flame. Have water immediately available, just in case. If this feels unsafe in any way, skip this part, or take the ritual outdoors so as not to burn things in your home. If you skip this part, tear the paper into small pieces, or submerge it into water so that it dissolves. The key here is transformation, both inner and outer, and fire is the greatest resource for this purpose. When you are ready to burn your paper or transform it in the way you’ve chosen, read what you have written out loud three times. Saying it aloud (or to the company present) allows you to consciously embody the process of letting go. Once you finish reading, burn your paper and watch as the flames consume and transform your words into ash.
Ash is a sacred element, and for the yogi, ash is the gift we receive when our spiritual efforts burn off what prevents us from being free. Covering oneself in ash is an age-old tradition in India and is still witnessed today. When your sacred ash is cool, use the first finger of your right hand to anoint yourself by placing a dot of ash at your third eye so that you see how this transformation further opens your eyes to a new way of being.
To close this ceremony, snuff your candle, bring your hands to prayer, and chant Om three times. Exit the space with care, and leave the ash on your forehead for as long as you are able.
(Excerpted from Yoga Beyond the Mat, Llewellyn Worldwide, Oct 2016)