Beneath the glowing light of the moon, I could almost hear whispers of my ancestors. What secrets did they impart?
As soon as I see that beautiful glowing orb in the night sky, I know it’s time to go outside.
It’s time to observe the moon—not just with my eyes, but with my body.
I step outside, barefoot to feel the earth beneath me. I look up and allow myself to be flooded with the moonlight.
Then, closing my eyes, I feel its rays on my skin. It illuminates me like a spotlight, only far softer and gentler.
I welcome the feeling of this light warming my face and can almost imagine that it is not streaming from the sky above but rather from some source within me.
I am connected to something larger than myself in these moments. My ancestors were soothed by these same stars and bathed in this same light; they looked up at this same full moon with wonder and hope in their hearts. And yet our lives are so different now: They could never have imagined what life would be like for us today, and we can only dream about that which is yet to come for future generations.
And here we are — existing together at this moment in time and space, under a moonlit sky.
Living By the Moon
The moon is a cycle of magic, an eternal divine presence that creates untold changes in response to cycles and seasons on Earth. While we are aware enough to live comfortably by the sun’s positioning, living by the moon, even more, intensifies our connection with nature and life. There are endless benefits to aligning your life with the moon. In this article, you’ll discover how living by the moon can help you live in rhythm with nature, understand its effect on your health and well-being, and help in your spiritual growth.
Understanding the Lunar Cycles
The lunar month begins with a new moon and ends with the full moon. The first two weeks are called the waxing moon (which gets bigger each night), while the last two weeks are called the waning moon when it gets smaller each night.
Some traditions say that the first two weeks are best for creative work like planting seeds (physical or metaphorical) and making art; while the last two weeks are better for letting go of things that no longer serve you.
The term “moon cycle”, or “lunar cycle”, refers to the moon’s continuous orbit around Earth. As the moon orbits Earth, its appearance changes, known as “phases”.
Aligning With The Moon & Harnessing Its Energy
The practice of moon alignment—the process of deliberately acting in accordance with the moon cycle—can guide our daily decision-making. Each lunar phase is thought to give off a different energy, and we can harness that energy through daily life.
The 8 phases (in order) are:
1) New moon – This is the beginning portion of the moon’s phases. A new moon happens when the moon is located between the sun and the Earth. We typically cannot see a new moon since the dark side of the moon is facing the Earth.
How do I harness its energy? – New Moons are a great time to set intentions for what you want to bring into your life and achieve during the upcoming month.
2) Waxing Crescent – The waxing crescent phase of the moon begins once we can see a tiny sliver of the moon a few days after a new moon. There may be times when you can see the whole moon outlined even when it’s dark. This is a phenomenon called “earthshine” in which Earth reflects sunlight to the moon.
How do I harness its energy? – We’ve decided which intentions to add to our lives, and now it’s time to move toward those goals. The Waxing Crescent Moon offers a boost of positivity as we embark on our goals for the cycle. Embrace the dreams you imagined for yourself during the Waxing Crescent Moon. During this phase, meditate on your desires.
3) First Quarter – During this phase you can see half of the moon illuminated. At this stage, the lunar cycle is 1/4 of the way completed, hence the name.
How do I harness its energy? – The first quarter moon is a time for taking stock, being critical of your approach up to this point, and then setting out to finish your goals. Please note that while the first quarter moon is a time of energy and action, there will be opportunities to rest in the future. However, that time is not now.
4) Waxing Gibbous – Waxing gibbous translates into “growing shape”. This phase covers the time between the first quarter and full moon phases. The moon will get more illuminated until the moon is fully illuminated, which starts the next phase.
How do I harness its energy? – As the Full Moon approaches, we are focusing on our internal lives, and figuring out how we can make needed changes. Reciting positive affirmations will help us gain confidence so that we can evolve and grow into something stronger.
5) Full moon – Two weeks after the new moon, it becomes wholly illuminated by the sun. Hence, we have a full moon, and its orbit is halfway completed.
How do I harness its energy? – The light of the full moon illuminates our world, allowing us to see the situations in our lives and in our relationships with other people more clearly. It allows us to see things we have ignored or repressed, but also allows us to let go of things or people we have outgrown. Full Moons are a good time to start a new ritual or project.
6) Waning Gibbous – If waxing means increasing, then waning stands for decreasing. A week after a full moon, it appears smaller since the amount of the moon that is visible decreases.
How do I harness its energy? –The Waning Gibbous Moon is a time to take stock—including revisiting those earlier intentions. Expressing gratitude is essential now. Try writing a list of all the things you are grateful for or starting a gratitude journal.
7) Third Quarter – During this phase the lunar cycle is ¾ completed. This is when the moon is half-lit up in the sky.
How do I harness its energy? – During this last quarter moon, it’s time to clean out that which no longer serves us. Make a list of what you want to purge from your life. Are there old projects? Toxic relationships? Unused clothing? During this time period, we come to realize that we must let go in order to move forward. As you clean your home, cut cords to bad habits that need to be left behind.
8) Waning Crescent – This signals the final lunar phase where the moon appears to be just a tiny sliver in the sky. This phase starts when the sun illuminates less than half of the moon and continues on until the New Moon phase. During this phase, we can also see the effect of “Earthshine”, just like during the new moon phase. It occurs four weeks after a new moon and concludes when the sun and moonrise at the same time.
How do I harness its energy? –The last lunar phase before a new cycle begins is a time to rest. We shouldn’t push ourselves. Instead, we should be still, to focus and reflect. We can find peace by resting before the next phase begins.
The starting point for any type of connection with the moon is to simply begin tracking it yourself. Keeping a journal and taking notes of the phases and how you feel at each stage is the best introduction.
Monthly Moon Names
In addition to the eight phases of the moon, the full moons of each month of the year have their own unique name. These come from Native American, Colonial American, or other traditional North American sources passed down through generations. These names were usually related to agriculture or the weather. For example, the Harvest Moon occurs when the moon is closest to the autumnal equinox — this is usually in September when the full moon’s brightness allowed farmers to work late that month, harvesting crops planted earlier in the year.
Here is a list of the common names used in North America although these varied :
- January — Wolf Moon
- February — Snow Moon
- March — Sap Moon
- April — Grass Moon
- May — Planting Moon
- June — Honey Moon
- July — Thunder Moon
- August — Grain Moon
- September — Fruit Moon (or Harvest Moon)
- October — Hunter’s Moon (or Harvest Moon)
- November — Frosty Moon
- December — Moon before Yule
The Moon's Affect on Health
The moon’s gravitational pull has long been considered among the most powerful forces in our universe. The moon’s gravitational pull creates tides, but there is also a theory that we feel the moon’s gravitational pull inside our bodies, dictating our moods and energy. The moon’s influence on human behavior is recognized in folklore, myths, and superstitions around the world and across time. But can the moon really affect our health and mental wellbeing? Some experts believe it can.
Here are a few ways the moon may affect health:
- Heart health -As it turns out, the Moon’s cycles could have an effect on your heart. A study in the Indian Journal of Basic and Applied Medical Research found that when exercising, your heart is at its peak performance during a full and new Moon.
Brain – The moon’s gravitational pull may have an effect on our bodies and brains since both are composed of mostly water. It makes sense that this pull could cause our minds to act erratically.
Other studies by British scientists reveal that a full Moon may help to decrease seizure activity in epileptics. When the Moon was bright, participants had fewer epileptic seizures which suggest it may be due to the brightness of the Moon rather than its phases. They attribute this to the hormone melatonin, which is naturally secreted in your brain when the Sun goes down, hence signaling time to sleep. It is believed that the brightness of the full Moon counters this release, thus decreasing seizures.
Kidneys – A 2011 study published in the Journal of Urology found that kidney stone pain increased significantly during a full Moon.
Sleep – Studies have found that in the days close to a full moon, people take longer to doze off, sleep less deeply, and sleep for a shorter time, even if the moon isn’t shining in their windows.
Menstrual Cycles – The moon has been gazed upon and revered for centuries by women who recognize it as a mystical force that connects our spiritual feminine selves. For many people Indigenous to North America, the moon represents divine feminine energy and is known as Grandmother moon. The moon cycle—which is roughly the same length of time as a woman’s menstrual cycle—is seen as a sacred gift to women, often referred to as their moontime. Chinese researchers believe that this may be more than a coincidence. They discovered that almost 30% of all the women monitored ovulated at the full Moon, and menstruated during the new Moon.
Injuries – In 2011, doctors and nurses were surveyed about the “Full Moon Effect.” They reported that over 40% believe in it; emergency calls were studied and found to increase by 3% whenever there was a full moon, and then drop by 6% during a new Moon.
- Birthrates -Japanese researchers have discovered that there is a relationship between the strength of the gravitational pull of the Moon and the number of births in any given month. The scientists are unsure how or why this connection exists, but its existence could lead to advances in healthcare for pregnant women.
Moon Rituals & Spiritual Growth
Each month as I observe another lunar cycle I am reminded of the importance of remembering that we are not separate from these celestial wonders, but a part of them. Many people find that using the energy of the Moon to enhance their spiritual practices can be a great way to tap into their emotions and intuition. A monthly Moon ritual can help you disconnect from daily life and spend time thinking about what is important to you and how you can live better in tune with nature. Below are a few ideas that I like to help me connect with nature through the moon.
4 Moon Rituals to Try
1. Take a moon bath
One of the easiest full moon rituals you could do is to take a moon bath.
- Creating a sacred space for full moon rituals. I recommend harvesting herbs locally for use in bath rituals. I find that the potency of the herbs is elevated if they are harvested within your region and especially by yourself.
- Prepare your bath. I have a favorite bath tea that I prepare ahead of time. It is a heady combination of lavender, calendula, pink sea salt, Epsom salt, dead sea salt, and essential oils. Use 3 to 4 ounces of herb per bath. I like to make my herbal tea in unbleached muslin bags and tie it directly onto the tub nozzle. I run hot water through it until the tub is half-filled. Then I toss the bag directly into the water until the bath is filled. You can find the exact recipe here.
- Write down that which you are releasing. During the full moon phase, we are focused on letting go. Write down all that you wish to release into the ether.
- Enter the bath. As you lower yourself into the warm water, reflect on the past month.
- End your bath and release or let go of all that is no longer serving you. Whatever regrets you have or feelings of negativity…let them go and set your positive intentions for the coming month.
2. Moon Wishes Manifestation Ritual
Tools: Paper, pen or pencil, matches, glass jar or bowl
This is one of the most rewarding full moon rituals you could perform. It’s highly symbolic and lends itself to lasting feelings of accomplishment since it lasts all month long.
What to do: List your desires and what you would like to manifest in your life. Feel the possibilities swirl around you. Believe in the outcome and think of ways in the coming month that you can help your desires to become reality. Think of ways you can take action.
Start by lighting a candle, focus on getting present and letting go of everything spinning through your mind.
Spend a few moments thinking about what no longer serves you and what you want to release,
Take the paper and one by one jot down the things you’d like to have show up into your life over the next month – these are your full moon wishes.
Place the wish list someplace special: in a special box or jar, for example – and then set it outside to soak up the moonlight.
In the morning bring the wishes back inside and place them somewhere you will see it daily. It’s a great idea to create a sacred space for keeping your wishes, but make sure it’s somewhere that you can gaze on it daily. Each evening before you go to sleep, take a look at your list and think about those desires.
3. Write a Letter of Release and then Burn It
If you love working outside under the full moon, you can create an altar in your backyard. You can bring various candles, stones, feathers… whatever calls to be part of the experience. There are no wrong answers here. If it’s not practical to this, simply set up near a window where the moon is visible.
- Gather your focus and write down your intentions and all that you wish to release from your life, what limiting beliefs do you want to be free from, what no longer serves you or what you want to let go of?
- When you have finished your list, sign and date the page.
- If a letter to the universe feels more you, then write out your list in prose (or poem!). Just be sure to be honest, open and sincere with what you’re releasing.
- When your list has been created, it’s time to burn it. As you do this, be sure to send your intention out to the universe.
- Breathe deep into your heart and declare “I now let this go. And it is so.”
4. Count Your Blessings
This is one of the simplest full moon rituals you could do and does not require any special tools other than paper and pen.
For this ritual, you simply write down all your blessings and that for which you are grateful.
There is something deeply magical and more permanent about recording your blessings in a ceremony on a full moon’s night.
But for the time being, the real power lies in our connection to nature and its rhythms. Living With The Moon is based on thousand-year-old observations and folkloric practices. Throughout time, different cultures have been impacted by the seasons, which caused them to make vast observations about the effects of the moon on people, animals, and plants. It is a sign of balance and deep fulfillment when we live in harmony with our natural environment and all of its elements.