Lunar Sabbaths: The Practice of Moon Mindfulness
The Moon Temples and rites of initiation that once flourished across the ancient world have long since vanished. Still, it is possible to cultivate a unique spiritual practice based around the ancient Moon mysteries. In Greece, the earliest divisions of time, for instance, corresponded to the three phases of the Moon's cycle. In Babylon, and later the Semitic system, the weekly division of the "moon month" grew out of the observance of the quarterly Sabbaths - the New and Full Moons, and the Quarter Moons in between (Woman's Mysteries, Ancient and Modern by Esther Harding).
PRACTICE: Thus it is possible, by following the phases of the Moon, to cultivate a practice of "Moon Mindfulness." To do this, you may want to start a Moon journal in which you can note down your responses to each of the quarterly lunar phases. (Here is a link to an online Moon Phase Calendar to help you track the monthly lunar phases.) Beginning at the New Moon note the time and date of the month's quarterly phases. The foundation of Moon practice is to simply become aware of the lunar phases.
Before writing in your journal, you may want to attune to the lineage of Moon Priestesses and Priests who, in centuries past, kept sacred the Mysteries around time, growth, and fertility. Then, using "beginner's mind," note down your personal observations without judgment. Because the Moon embodies time and cycles, pay attention to the rhythms of your daily life: the Moon waxes and wanes - but does your life run at only one speed? The Moon reveals herself fully, then veils her face from sight - but are your moments of sunny extroversion balanced by periods of cool introversion? Each month the Moon starts over, initiating a process of renewal - but do you give yourself permission to let go of despair and begin again? More than anything, it seems, working with the Moon in this way cultivates a feeling for the rhythmic harmonies playing its music throughout the Universe.
NATURE: TEMPLE OF THE MOON
Whether sitting in contemplation or going about the regular business of the day, one way to mark the moment of the Moon's Phases is by heightening your awareness of the natural world. Take note of the season, and of the weather - is it warm or cold; sunny or overcast; or windy or calm. What stage of growth are the plants and trees - are they barren, or rich with leaves, blossoms, and fruit? Orient yourself to the Moon Phase you are honoring by noting the hour of the day or night during which it occurs - is it the still of midnight, the bright dawn of a new day, or a busy mid-afternoon?
If you can, you may wish to celebrate your ritual or meditation outside in nature. Sit amidst the companionable, intimate presence of the forest, or retreat to a quiet spot alone in your own backyard. As you sit surrounded by Nature, feel as if you are an integral member of this family, like a flower, a rock, or a mountain. Then experience the natural world responding to the Moon. At the New Moon, experience all of nature rejoicing; at the First Quarter, feel the energy rising; at the Full Moon, feel the sacred stillness that settles over the world; at the Last Quarter, feel as if Nature is exhaling, letting down before beginning over again.
NEW MOON INVOCATION
With this ritual I attune my outer life and inner soul
to the waxing rhythm of the Moon, who each day grows more full.
Oh Great Goddess, who tills the garden of the Earth
Oh Wise Weaver of Time
Oh Star of Life
Oh Mother of the World
Bestow upon us the generosity of your life and light
at this hour of the New Moon
© Pythia Peay
All rights reserved
Pythia Peay is the author of Soul Sisters: The Five Sacred Qualities of a Woman's Soul, and Mercury Retrograde: Its Myth and Meaning (Tarcher). She is at work on a memoir, American Icarus.