The time before the New Moon is a time to empty out, to let go and create space to be filled by new life.
Most of the exercises I’m writing here are expansions of basic recollection, banishing, or letting go rituals. Although I’m suggesting that they be done just before the New Moon, it can really be done at the beginning or end of any period of time or season of your life—a day, a year, after the end of a relationship or job, or moving into a new home.
These rituals are focused ways to get you in a broader mood of reflection and release. Generally, the time around the New Moon is a very inward and low-energy few days. This is a reset-phase, a time of connecting to the essence of whatever is present in your life and working with it in the more subtle layers of reality. It’s a great time to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, connect to something darker and dreamier, and s p a c e o u t.
(‘It’s God’s thumbnail!’ Photo of the Waning Moon by Rob Pettengill)
Lunar Recollection and Distillation.
Go back over the last month in as much detail as possible. Typically, this is done internally, in meditation. See if you can visualize what happened each day, and re-experience the thoughts and feelings that lay beneath them, like topographical contours on a map.
This might be difficult to do just in your memory, so you’re also encouraged to go back through your calendars, notebooks, and messages you sent. Do your best to re-experience all of it.
This is an extrapolation of an exercise suggested by the German Esotericist Rudolf Steiner. One of the cornerstones of his spiritual training is the nightly review, a process by which we go back through our day in as much detail as possible. When I do this exercise, I find myself coming to clear insights as to how I felt and acted throughout my day. ‘Wow, I was really anxious there.’ Or, ‘That felt great.’ The tone of my inner voice becomes very sturdy and kind, and I feel myself coming to a stronger authority as to what is beneficial or detrimental for me.
Write down the insights and conclusions that come to you. If you can, make them beautiful and put them in a place that you’ll remember. Think of these as little seeds to be planted for the next lunar cycle. They aren’t necessarily goals or intentions, just trustworthy distillations of your experience, the lessons you’ve been learning recently. Savor them!
(Rudolf Steiner’s Planetary Seal for the Moon.)
This is also a microcosm of another exercise suggested by Steiner, which encourages you to just deeply reflect back—all the way to your birth and to inquire as to why you would have wanted things to happen the way they did. Regardless of whether it was awful or awesome, see if you can see it from the perspective of someone (yourself) who would have wanted that type of experience. Reflect upon all of this to think about your incarnation in this life. What are the core themes that you’re here to work on?
Banishing and Invoking in the Bathtub
This exercise is an extrapolation of a love magick ritual suggested by Christopher Penczak, who prescribes it for chronically wonky romantic lives. He states that if it’s done 5 Lunar Cycles in a row, we’ll notice substantial changes in the core patterns of our relationships. We are here taking the same principle and apply it to our life as a whole. You can follow these recipes, or even better, invent your own mixtures with the ingredients that really activate you.
First, we prepare two mixtures—one to cleanse and clear, and the other to bless and bring harmony. Mix three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) and one tablespoon of sea salt with at least three cups of hot water. Make a second liquid of one tablespoon of honey and one tablespoon of orange juice with three cups of hot water. Also obtain a small rounded stone, such as a white river stone, a tumbled quartz, or something else that has an energy and correspondence that you are drawn to.
Add the vinegar potion to a hot bath. Soak in it and think about what issues you need to transform and reconcile. Let the water drain while still sitting in the tub. Then fill the tub again with hot water and add the second potion to the bath. While in the bath, hold your stone, and think about how you would be most alive, healthy, and happy. Carry the stone with you through the next lunar cycle.
Jason Miller and Matthew Brownlee’s Seal for Luna
Fasting, Cleansing, and Cleaning House
The previous rituals are ways to kind of psychically digest your experience. Of course, this is also necessary for our physical bodies. I often find that the two go hand in hand—when I’m doing serious cleansing, I’ll often experience shifts in my mental and emotional worlds. A big burp might feel like a cathartic release. Once upon a time, after a 10-Day silent Vipassana retreat, I had a poop that felt orgasmic. I’m not shitting you.
Fasting and purification processes are a part of many different spiritual, shamanic, and magical traditions. Vision quests often involve prolonged fasting in order to help induce a transformative experience. Certain Tantric Buddhist traditions famously prescribe thousands of Purifying Vajrasattva mantras as a preliminary before starting to engage with more energetically activating, sexual or diety-driven practice. Many love doctors suggest going on a ‘sexual fast’ before invoking a deep and lasting relationship. There’s nothing wrong with eating a big bag of potato chips unless you’re trying to live healthier or lose weight.
If you have a hard time fasting or are hindered by some physical restraint, even going without food for a morning, or proactively eating less food can be helpful. So many of our hungers are just bacteria in our stomachs asking for food that the rest of you doesn’t actually need, or just plain old emotional conditioning. Speeding up digestion with cleansing teas and fermented foods is a great idea. Enemas are also incredible if you’ve never given yourself one.
Clearing ourselves out prepares us to appreciate more deeply what we truly desire and need. As you explore this, you might find that certain physical impediments are keeping you from a finer taste of life. This unity between body and mind is applicable to far more than just food. Rudolf Steiner suggests actively identifying with everything around you. In a sense, you are your material world.
If you want, pull out a piece of paper and start a list:
‘I am this overflowing trash bin.
I am this casually stacked pile of books.
I am this well-made bed.’
This exercise might spin you off in another interesting direction. Follow where the insight leads!
‘To stop without knowing how one stops—that is Tao.’
-Chuang-Tzu, ‘On Leveling All Things’
Imagine the dark of the moon as a big exhale. For the last four weeks, you’ve been moving, doing, acting, engaging. Now, just be. Take time to rest, recover, and be idle. If you have favorite ways you like to do this, go for it. Sleep. Read something nourishing. Do formless meditations and Yin or Restorative Yoga. Get lost. Forget yourself.
Through this exhale, you may come to a new vision of what wants to be born in the next lunar cycle. According to Caroline Casey, the dark of the moon was when the Mavens of the tribe would come together to decide the course of culture.
Towards this end, lean into any inspired dreaming or fantasizing that arises during this time. If you’re up for it, it’s a good time for entheogenic work, although you likely don’t want to disrupt your nervous system too substantially, or at least be able to clear out whatever arises if it tastes yucky.
As the New Moon ramps up, it will be a time of preparation and simple steps. Oftentimes, astrologers suggest setting an intention at the beginning of a New Moon, but I’m more drawn to the idea that the intelligence of the moon will take us where we need. We should also be wary of goal-setting and getting busy too quickly.
Think of the start of the New Moon like a time waking up. Think of it like warming up for your day, or for a contest of some sort. Don’t take things too seriously, but start exploring your abilities. Get pumped. Lift your spirits. Enjoy the sunrise and the simplicity of your morning rituals. Have fun.
This ritual is great for those whose minds are naturally drawn towards the collective. If you’ve still got a fire burning during the dark of the moon, this is a great way to focus it.
Although this Ritual is aimed at Donald Trump, it’s a part of a broader tradition that we might call Subtle Activism, and you’re encouraged to play with that initiative as you see fit. Sri Aurobindo and The Mother claimed that their efforts on the Astral Plane during World War II were instrumental in defeating the forces of evil. The Global Consciousness project has found evidence that during major world events (like huge sporting events, natural disasters, and worldwide peace meditations), random number generators across the world synchronize in conclusively nonrandom manners.
We’re all connected in subtle ways, and proactively joining together for certain projects amplifies the effectiveness of our aims. The Bind Trump / #MagicalResistance movement has come together during the dark of every moon since Trump took office, with the aim of Binding Trump and all those who aid and abet him. You’re encouraged to check out the procedure and the specific time/dates here.
In this ritual, we’re calling upon the spirits of the earth to restrict and take justice upon Donald Trump. If we don’t actively resist, we’re are tacitly allowing this mind-virus to take root in our culture, in our courts, and enabling it to rape our democracy and our land. You can also do it your way, performing ritual in whatever manner you can and actively visualizing Trump’s downfall. This will contribute to the energy surrounding the event. This ritual also works on the inner life—by doing this, you are also binding your own complicity in this collective energy. Expect some changes.
Amidst all this, the Dark of the Moon is a great time to lean into one of the core lessons taught to us by the moon—everything is in flux. Everything changes. This is a microcosm of the wisdom of Astrology in general—no two moments are exactly alike. Some moments feel more potent with meaning than others. One dark moon will feel different than another. Seasons change. Recognizing this and responding creatively takes us out of an unconscious, one-size-fits-all approach to life and into a more fluid, imaginative and engaged spirit.
Knowing what’s going on in your own chart helps a lot. If you know how to calculate your personal transits, check them out when you feel the timing is ripe! If you don’t, feel free to check out my ‘Sweet Astrology Resources’ page. Please reach out if you try any of these rituals and have an experience to share! And as always, I’d love to sit with you if you’re interested in a reading.