Happy New Moon!
This is the first new moon of the year and, as a time for beginnings, marks the true beginning of the new year, for me. The first eight days, those were just practice; a last minute, get-your-shit-together, procrastinator’s grace period before getting down to the business of 2016.
<long suffering sigh> Yes, I’m a procrastinator, but that’s all going to change, soon….later….after my nap. “Procrastination” is such a dirty word. I choose to view it as more of a stop-and-smell-the-roses lifestyle; philosophical dawdling, the meditative mosey, pleasantly sauntering through life instead of an all out sprint that would inevitably result in sweat stains and shin splints.
I do, however, have to keep myself on track in order to avoid moving back in with my folks, going too long without a pedicure, or running out of wine, which I think we can all agree is a likely harbinger of the apocalypse. Also the cats get a little cranky when I don’t feed them. Cranky, as in, watching me sleep with cold, calculating stares while they telepathically plot my demise so they can feast on my rotting corpse. Of course, they haven’t followed through yet, but there have been warnings. If a smelly surprise in my house slippers doesn’t effectively communicate feline displeasure, then I don’t know what does.
So, in order to thrive and afford tasty canned placations for my two, fuzzy, semi-domesticated, house demons, I set quarterly goals. It’s been my experience that these goals are much easier to accomplish than resolutions that require an entire year. I’m more motivated with looming deadlines, specific objectives, and a detailed plan of action. The target dates for these quarterly resolutions are typically the first of every third month. As a Wicca, however, I find it beneficial to align my secular and spiritual pursuits with natural rhythms, such as the seasons or lunar phases. This year I’ve chosen lunar phases. There are 13 new moons in 2016, the first of which on January 9, 2016. The first three quarters will encompass three new moons, and the final quarter will encompass four. I figure this is only fair as the end of the year tends to be more chaotic and demanding.
First quarter: January 9-April 6, 2016
Second quarter: April 7-July 3, 2016
Third quarter: July 4-September 29, 2016
Fourth quarter: September 30-December 28, 2016
Last night was my new moon ritual, during which I performed three exercises. 1) Honoring the new moon 2) Releasing 2015 and setting my intent for 2016 and 3) Dedicating my quarterly goals. Step one was casting a circle. Rituals work better outside, under the open sky, out in nature….but nature was frigid last night and I had planned on plenty of time meditating, relaxing, and resting in the dark of the new moon. I covered my general dislike of cold and lack of arctic survival gear in the last post, so it should come as no surprise that I elected to do an indoor ritual, as I will likely continue to do with lengthy rituals till Spring.
Circle cast in the comfort of my home, I sat in a comfortable half lotus before the altar in thin cotton pajamas. I chose a single white candle for the altar, to honor the moon. I lit it and asked the Lord and Lady to observe my rite, lend me their protection and guidance, and to bless my workings. I then spoke a brief, impromptu prayer thanking the moon for her light when she is full and for her darkness when she is new; for allowing me to rest in the spiritual womb of darkness before time to begin anew. I asked that she lend me respite in the circle, grant me gentle relaxation as I allow inspiration to flow freely through my mind in order reach affirmation.
Then I meditated, drawing slowly into myself, feeling safe to pull completely inward with the protection of the elements and the deities. I pulled deep into my inner dark space, feeling the rush of my natural energies quiet and subside to a gentle current. I rested there for a while. Meditation can be as short or as long as you want, depending upon your needs and level of experience. I’ve been meditating for over a decade, so it’s easy to lose track of time for an hour or two. What’s important is that you meditate as long or as briefly as feels natural for you. Don’t force it, don’t cut it short, the new moon is a time of rest and of unhurried centering.
Meditation accomplished, I set about releasing the previous year. I wrote out aspects about my mentality and behavior in the past year I regretted and have no wish to carry with me any further. I took these words one by one, lit them, and let them burn to ash in a fire-safe, lidded bowl. I cannot stress enough that this bowl must be fire-safe with some depth. Small, flaming pieces of paper have a tendency to fly and roll. If you set it on a flat stone or metal surface, you WILL burn a hole in your altar cloth, which is both costly and undignified if you’re prone to cussing while patting our errant flames with your bare hands. Tweezers are also a good idea here to avoid singeing your fingertips. While the words burn, one by one, visualize yourself free of their influence. Affirm the positive, opposing traits. (e.g., If you wrote “fear,” affirm courage in your life.) Do as many or as few as you want. There are no requirements and no need to limit yourself. When you’ve finished and the ashes have cooled, collect them and bury them as you speak….
Fears and flaws you go to ground,
From you I’ll no more flee;
Released to Earth, full and round,
Reclaimed with love. So mote it be.
I used one of my potted plants. The moon was in Capricorn, which is an Earth sign, so these workings are most effective when they go to ground.
Next is intent for the coming year. I chose to pull out my sketchpad, color pencils, and doodle while allowing my mind to flow, newly freed from the burdens of the past year. I had a glass of warm, spiced wine, and a few pieces of chocolate to enjoy while I did this. I poured a sip of wine and pressed a piece of chocolate into the soil as an offering while I spoke a brief prayer to the earth and moon, asking and thanking them for inspiration. Then I doodled. It’s not necessary to create a work of art, just allow yourself to enjoy the process. If you’re not inclined to draw, it’s alright to jot notes as ideas come to you, hum, lay in the candlelight and stare at the shadows, whatever you want as long as it’s restful to you. Write as many or as few affirmations as you feel led to make. When you’ve finished, jot them down on a separate piece of paper, keep the original to display, and go over the list, one by one, imagining yourself manifesting these changes in yourself and your life. Then bury it deep and speak….
Blessing words, you are a seed
Go to ground, carry my need.
Take root and grow strong in me,
Blossom as truth. So mote it be.
Finally, I pulled out my pre-prepared list of specific, quarterly goals, read them out, and said a prayer of blessing and dedication over them, then of gratitude to the energies that had lent themselves to the workings and dedications.
During these final minutes of prayer, one of my snarky little felines had decided she’d had enough of this closed-door nonsense and very cleverly popped the door open. She sauntered in, hopping right over my circle marked in salt, claimed my lap with a huff, and began grooming herself. I had frozen when she leapt through the protective barrier, afraid she had broken it. I tried to sense any tears or gaps that may have been left in her wake, but found none, and concluded, that barriers simply don’t apply to cats, which is probably what makes them such ideal witches’ companions….and what prompts them to linger irritatingly in doorways. I removed her from my lap and set her next to the altar, tail twitching and a scowl on her face that clearly said I would not be excluding her in the future. A wary eye on her feather duster of a tail (she’s set it on fire before….more than once) I bid farewell to the Lord and Lady, then the elements one by one, thanking each in turn.
Hope y’all have a restful, inspirational new moon. Try not to catch anything on fire, and don’t even bother closing the door on your cat. It’s possible she can walk through walls