In just about every ancient culture — even imaginary ones, like the Dothraki in Game of Thrones — men are associated with the sun and women are associated with the moon. This is no accident. There’s poetry in this symbolism.
The sun is bright, strong, warm, stable, and fairly consistent. It rises and sets at the same time, in the same place, day after day. It is necessary reliable for human’s survival on earth, and for our success in earthly matters.
Over time, we’ve come to associate these qualities with masculinity. We see much of this earthly strength and stability reflected in the male sex, and we cherish these gifts as being indispensable to the survival of our species on this planet.
The moon is an entirely different entity. The moon is always changing, waxing and waning, bursting into the sky with complete fullness and sometimes disappearing entirely, leaving us in utter darkness. The moon repeats these changes on a roughly 28-day cycle, just like the menstrual cycle. The moon speaks to the deeper mysteries of human life on this planet: creation of new life, growth and change, our spiritual, emotional, and psychological journeys.
And over time, we’ve come to associate these qualities with femininity. Not only because of the 28-day cycle shared by women and the moon, but also because of the power of the changing tides, the necessity of spiritual, emotional, and psychological health and growth, and the symbolic connection between full moons and pregnancy.
SO — WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME?
In Patriarchal societies, we begin to overvalue masculine traits and undervalue feminine ones. It’s especially easy to do this because traditional masculinity is very practical, earth-based, and logical. It involves tangible goals and earthly success, and so it is easily approached, acquired, and measured.
Traditionally feminine qualities and intangible things — such as emotion, spirit, and psyche — are elusive and ever-changing. They are deep, complex, and intimidating to approach. They’re cyclical, not linear, and they’re probably impossible to measure. There is no beginning and no ending.
I don’t think I need to make an argument to prove that these traditionally feminine traits have not been highly valued for the majority of Western Civilization. But today, it is exciting to see a resurgence of “the old ways.” The energy of our culture is definitely shifting. We can see it in the rise of feminism, spirituality, and ever-growing care and reverence for the Earth.
COOL. SO WHAT’S THE POINT?
It’s cool to talk about the symbolism and ancient ways of associating women with the moon, but we’re human animals, which means we need more than just a stimulating cognitive discussion to feel satisfied. We crave ritual — it is at the heart of humanity — and engaging in spiritual rituals can be deeply healing for our bodies and our psyches. Whether you believe in moon magic or not.
I want to talk to you a bit about the two most prominent phases of the moon, and how you can use them to connect with nature, to face your inner needs and desires, and to focus on healing, gratitude, and growth.
Again, you do not have to believe in moon magic to benefit from its spiritual practices.
Alright, let’s do this.
THE FULL MOON
The full moon represents completion and fulfillment. And in this fullness, we too are pregnant with possibility. It offers us the opportunity to reflect on what we’ve achieved and how we’ve grown over the past month. It’s also an awesome time to delve into some serious gratitude, and genuinely take time to observe our blessings — however small they may seem — and give thanks for them.
A nice journal exercise — or simply having a conversation with yourself out loud (personally one of my favorite things to do) — is a fantastic way to mindfully investigate these things. Any almost meditative exercise that allows you to slip into your inner world and spend some time positively reflecting on yourself and your life helps you become a more centered, aware, and mindful person.
Along with this beautiful imagery of a full term pregnancy comes the necessity of release. The baby must be born, after all. And then a new cycle begins. With this, you can also use your mindful full moon exercise to the things in your life (patterns, relationships, etc.) that you need to release. It is important to keep things positive and release them with forgiveness and gratitude.
It can be helpful to consider that holding onto anger only hurts yourself. And in its deepest sense, it is just another excuse for refusing to let go.
THE NEW MOON
The New Moon is possibly a thing that you’ve never really heard about or even noticed. Unless you’re already investigating divine feminine / nature-based spirituality, or you like to read Farmer’s Almanacs. In our modern world, we don’t have much occasion to learn about or even notice New Moons. And it certainly doesn’t help that you can’t see them.
The New Moon is often represented as a black circle. It occurs when the sun, earth, and moon are perfectly aligned (with Earth in the middle). The result is that we can’t see the moon, because it’s in our own shadow. Now if that’s not poetic, I don’t know what is.
Some people believe that women’s menstrual cycles used to align with the moon, and the roughly three days of darkness surrounding the New Moon was the time for menstruation. It was considered to be a very deep, magical, and mysterious time. The New Moon represents the beginning of the new moon cycle. And as most women know, the first day of their menses signifies the first day of their next cycle.
Human hormones are affected by numerous factors, including light, and apparently — before electricity, of course — our hormones were regulated by the light of the moon (and lack thereof). There’s even some interesting research on this that involves women “moonbathing” and controlling the artificial lights in their environment so they can regulate their cycles with the moon. But I digress.
New Moons are a time for beginnings. For deep magic, mystery, and manifestation. It is the perfect time to delve deep into your inner world and face your fears, accept your boundless potential, focus on what you want in your life, and think about how you can manifest these things.
It’s also a great time to explore your creativity. New Moons celebrate female menstruation and our mysterious potential to create new life. You can harness this energy and explore your own creative potential. It doesn’t have to be about babies: that’s just symbolic.
The Most important thing to remember is that: the moon is magical and so are you.
Happy moon gazing, you beautiful human.