Last month, I mentioned that I’d started to learn about the moon cycle, the impact it can have on mind and body and how we can work with the energy of the moon to make positive changes to ourselves and our lives. I’ve now finished reading my book, the bestselling Lunar Living by Kirsty Gallagher and feel ready to share a basic introduction to this spiritual practice which makes use of some of my favourite transformative strategies such as making vision boards, setting goals and intentions, creating affirmations, shadow work, reflecting on what you are grateful for and journalling your thoughts, feelings and ideas for self-improvement.
The basic premise
Rather than setting new year’s resolutions at the beginning of the year and forgetting about them by the end of January, working with the power of the moon and her phases involves practices such as regularly reflecting on what you want, setting intentions and working on creating an action plan that helps you to manifest your desires each month. It also includes regularly assessing your progress, thinking about things that are standing in your way and what you can do about these barriers. By doing this, you become clearer about what you see as important to you and what you want to prioritise in your life (based on your values, wants and needs), whilst having a framework of guidance which teaches you what, specifically, to focus on during each phase of the moon to fully utilise her lunar magic. And, of course, by spending time thinking about and visualising your goals along with using supportive and encouraging affirmations, research has shown that these desired results are more likely to come into fruition.
Although I’ve only recently begun to use the moon and her phases as a guide, I’ve always recognised the importance of setting aside time to slow down and reflect on my life including the aspects I want to work on and changes and improvements I would like to make. I’ve regularly made vision boards for my personal life and also one for my business which I have on display in my craft room / office. I’ve also done plenty of journaling about my progress towards goals and any difficulties I’ve faced, plus written my own affirmations to repeat each day. What I found particularly interesting was how, according to ‘moon magic’, our energy levels change throughout the cycle, meaning that there are optimum times for self-care, resting and recharging, periods of great wisdom and clarity which enable us to set our intentions and make plans for working on them, higher energy times when we can celebrate our achievements and show gratitude for what we have in our lives whilst also evaluating our position with a view to recognising what is holding us back and then finally, opportunities for releasing and letting go ready to start the new cycle.
The quote below, which I’ve taken from Kirsty’s book, also emphasizes the control we have over our lives if we tune in to the cyclic and flowing nature of life.
Lunar Living brings us home to ourselves, our dreams and visions and goals, month after month. Working with the magic of the moon is a tool of immense self-awareness, self-care, nourishment, empowerment, manifestation and purpose.Kirsty Gallagher, Lunar Living
Waxing and waning moon – the science bit
The moon is always whole in the sky but the part that we can see changes throughout each month according to the position of The Sun. When the moon is waxing, the illuminated part is getting bigger in the sky. The moon appears to grow until it becomes full – when the whole of its shape can be seen clearly. Following a full moon, the moon begins to wane, which means the visible surface area gets smaller and smaller until it can no longer been seen in the sky. When the moon is completely invisible it is referred to as a new moon.
The eight phases of the lunar cycle
The new moon marks the beginning of the lunar cycle and is often referred to as the first phase. Throughout the month, our view of the moon changes and we describe this using eight phases or shapes as follows:
- new moon
- waxing crescent
- first quarter
- waxing gibbous
- full moon
- waning gibbous
- last quarter (also known as third quarter)
- waning crescent
The New Moon
As I said earlier, this is generally considered to be the first moon phase and is a time for new beginnings and starting afresh. Energy levels will be low right now so it’s important to take time to rest and do self-care activities (I like to write a list of these in my bullet journal that I can choose from). Tune in to your inner world with some quiet meditation and reflective journalling. Set goals and intentions for the weeks ahead, visualising and imagining your inner desires, hopes and dreams. You might also like to spend a few hours creating a vision board of images and words which represent the direction you wish to take as inspiration and motivation. Another good activity is to create a small number of affirmations (3 is ideal) which are based on your intentions and use them daily during the waxing moon. Some examples could be:
- I release what no longer serves me to make space for new beginnings
- I am successful and fill my potential
- I am grateful for everything I have in my life right now
The waxing crescent moon
Spend time looking at your vision board, visualising and contemplating what life will feel like when your hopes and dreams become a reality. Depending on how much work is involved in reaching your goals, you might just choose one or two of your intentions to focus on, writing them down clearly and succinctly. Start to make plans and points of action to work towards your intention(s) – try identifying and writing down small and achievable steps to help you on your way. Gather the necessary resources and gain the knowledge you need to enable you to make a start. Water your seeds of intention and repeat your affirmations daily.
The first quarter
Pause and take stock – are you moving in the right direction towards the intention(s) that you are currently focusing on? Do you need to tweak your plans? Recommit to your visions and dreams and continue with the strength and determination that this moon phase brings. Be open to whatever comes your way. Face adversity with a resolute mind – you can do this! Think about any challenges you are facing – what are they teaching you? Remember, the moon doesn’t do the work for you, it merely guides you on your way and gives you the energy you need to get to where you want to be.
Waxing gibbous moon
The moon is now almost full and becoming more so each night. This is a time of high energy which helps you give that final push towards your goal(s), making the last steps needed to get there. Meditate and reflect on the process so far – what is working? what isn’t? what last minute changes might you need to make? Continue documenting the process in your journal. Practice patience and trust in your ability to succeed.
The moon is completely full in the sky once again – if it’s a clear night go outside and bathe in her light. This is the time of the month where your energy levels are at their peak. If you’ve been working hard towards your goal(s) you should feel a huge sense of achievement. Remember to celebrate every single one of your successes no matter how small. If some things have stood in your way and held you back, make a list of them and think about what you want to let go of or release as the moon wanes. Remember, some new moon intentions take time and lots of work, but as long as you’re heading in the right direction and are trying to increase your awareness of what needs to change then this is a huge positive. Use the full moon creative energy and vibes combined with your intuition to reflect, evaluate progress and maybe come up with new ideas and ways of working.
There are some interesting full-moon rituals in Kirty’s book which sound like they could be really helpful and I’m definitely going to try them at this point in the next cycle.
Waning gibbous moon
This is the start of the second half of the cycle, when the moon loses a little of her fullness each night. Continue to develop your understanding of what holds you back and begin the process of releasing them. Consider your experiences so far and think about what you can learn from them. Are there any difficult conversations that you need to have with particular individuals to discuss what you have learnt, how you feel about something or any changes you intend to make and why.
The last quarter moon falls exactly one week after the full moon. This is the time to work on things you want to release to make way for new beginnings. Think about what or who is holding you back such as illness, negative people or situations, bad habits, self-doubts, fears, procrastination, people pleasing or unclear boundaries etc. Currently, your energy levels will be getting lower so your attention should be directed inwardly so you can rest and quietly reflect on everything that has happened in the process so far.
The waning crescent is considered to be the last phase of the moon. This is when a small slither of moon is visible in the sky and it is nearly time for a new moon. During this phase, you should consider if there is anything else that does not serve you which you need to release in preparation to start anew. This is a time to slow down, rest and refresh. You might also begin to contemplate what you would like to focus on next.
And then it’s back round to the new moon to continue the cycle.
This is just a small part of what I learnt from reading Kirsty’s book. I also developed my knowledge of the 12 signs of the zodiac and their impact on the moon. According to Kirsty,
Each zodiac sign brings different influences, lessons, opportunities, challenges, positive and testing aspects, traits and a different focus and life area into the moonlight. This helps us to keep flowing with the rhythm of life as we use the different energies, characteristics and symbols of each sign to help us explore, heal and delve deeper into the relevant areas in our own lives.Kirsty Gallagher, Lunar Living, 2020.
I must admit that life has kind of got in the way of some aspects of using the magic of the moon this month as my husband and I went away for a short holiday and I’ve had lots going on in my life. However, I have been working towards my goals and I have made progress, I just haven’t documented it or reflected on how I’m doing. I think it might be time to create a new vision board which includes the spiritual practices I hope to develop so that following the lunar cycle becomes part of my focus every day. I think I might also benefit from setting aside a small amount of time each evening to check in with myself and consider how things are going – creating a dedicated space in my bullet journal would aid this and adding the activity to my running task list for each day of the week will help to cement the habit. Kirsty includes some questions to reflect on during each phase and these would be really useful to answer as part of my journalling. I definitely think if you’re interested in learning more than the very basics of moon magic, then her book is well worth a read and a good one to regularly refer to as you develop your practice.
Previously I’ve been rather skeptical about the information contain in horoscopes and the idea of The Zodiac but I’m trying to be more open-minded with this too. I would love to hear from anyone who is involved in using the lunar cycle to good effect and also anyone who has doubts or reservations about the ideas contained in today’s post.