New Moon Journaling
How To Use Journaling to Realign in the Beginning of a New Cycle.
Tell me more about the Moon cycles.
In the last few years, I keep aligning more parts of my life with the Natural cycles. The Gregorian Calendar is a nice, widespread, and certainly useful story, but still - just a story. In other words, if we ditch our agreement that it’s March (or whatever other, month, year or day), the whole story will simply stop existing. On the other hand, planetary cycles won’t stop, even if the Highest Court issues an order to cease their activities within 14 days or face prosecution.
But I digress.
In astronomy, the New Moon is the first lunar phase and a moment of cosmic alignment when the Moon positions itself in between the Earth and the Sun, allowing us to see only it’s shadow side.
Symbolically, The New Moon is the time of new beginnings. You can surely recreate the fresh start effect on any other day that’s meaningful to you, but perhaps there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. The Moon played a significant role in shaping the perception of time flow in different cultures spread around the globe for centuries. And it’s certainly a cycle that resonates for me.
During a recent Relational Weekly Review (a co-journaling session that I’m hosting) I was asked to share more about the Moon Cycles, and how I use them in my life (and my journal). Here’s the long answer.
Why Moon Cycles?
I find it pretty much impossible to make effective long term plans.
That’s partially because I struggle with getting distracted with exciting things to do, but also because I have learned over the years that the Greek saying I’ve heard during one of my travels is very true:
“When humans make plans, gods laugh.”
Sudden emergencies aside, the whole point of self-development is to change, hopefully in a positive way. It follows, that what is relevant for me right now, might not be in a few months. That makes it incredibly hard to make any kind of long-term predictions. On the other hand, I did experience tremendous benefits from keeping a long-lasting commitment, such as 235 consecutive days of 1-hour yoga or 60-days of eating raw food only.
How to navigate this tension?
Instead of making plans, I set intentions, and shorten the time horizon by aligning them with the Moon cycles.
Etymologically speaking, intention can be traced back to Old French word intendre meaning “to direct one’s attention” and Old English entencioun meaning “purpose, design, aim or object; will, wish, desire, that which is intended”. That sounds much better to me that “to scheme, to devise ways and means for (the doing of something)” that planning originates from. In other words, intention is about bringing attention to what is important to you, rather than thinking of how to go about it.
The Moon completes the formula by providing a perfect time horizon of 29 ½ days (on average), which feels both short enough to be encouraging (rather than overwhelming), and long enough to allow for tangible results to become visible. And it’s always possible to roll an intention over to the following cycle, if it still fully resonates.
Here’s how I turn all this from theory into practice.
New Moon Journaling
I stay aware of the Moon cycle by actually looking at the Moon every night 🌓..
I’m happily living in the middle of a forest with zero light pollution so that’s not a difficult task, but the Moon is strong enough to cut through even the brightest cityscapes. Trust me, it will do you good to spend some time looking at Her every night.
I also use this app, which displays the current moon phase as a widget on my phone’s wallpaper.
I also created a “manual” Lunar Calendar, which is now hanging in a central part of my tiny house:
My journal is another reminder.
Every New Moon I draw a page of Infinity Squares which will last until the Full Moon, and then on the Full Moon I draw another page, which will last until the New Moon. So two pages of squares per Moon cycle.
I then use the blank page in the spread to write down the intention(s) for that part of the cycle.
Here’s how my November 2021 New Moon spread looks like:
Infinity Squares (empty at the beginning of the cycle) on the left, and intention page on the right.
The intention page is a conclusion of a New Moon Ceremony.
What I do changes every time. Ideally, I love taking some time for a proper ritual. Light a fire, create a magical space, meditate, draw a tarot card, or do whatever I feel like that would help me realign and make it feel like a special moment. That’s the power of ritual: it doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you do it with intention of making it a ritual. The result is that when I arrive to the moment of setting intentions I feel deeply grounded and connected with myself, so I can choose my intentions wisely.
There are days however, when I don’t have the time or energy to take a lot of time for a proper ceremony. In that case, I simply draw the squares and either write whatever feels right in the moment or wait for the morning after.
Now, for all of you perfectionists (or recovering perfectionist) out there, here’s my “pro tip”, which I wish someone would have told me a long time ago, although my perfectionist past self probably wouldn’t listen to it anyway… I wish it did though:
If throughout the Moon cycle you realise that some (or all) of your intention page doesn’t resonate with you, then hereby I give you my permission (which you don’t need anyway) to cross out whatever you don’t like and make corrections.
Yes, I know that it will make your special page look imperfect (the horror!), but let me be frank (and nsfw): fuck perfectionism. It’s almost as paralyzing as fear.
The purpose of the intention page is to reconnect you to yourself and what matters deeply to you, and not to look pretty on insta. Reconnecting is a constant process, and, in fact, a moment of realisation that something you have written doesn’t resonate is a precious insight that could be celebrated rather than repressed.
Cross it out. Make corrections. Realign. It’s not only “fine” – it’s wonderful.
To give you some encouragement, I’ll show you two examples from my journal. During the Moon cycle below, I realised that the some words don’t resonate with me, so I shamelessly crossed them out and replaced with others.
On the spread below, I’ve been putting a lot of energy every day to making my squares look like a work of art. And then, as the New Moon was approaching, I realised that this particular cycle was one day longer and I’m missing a square. Instead of ripping my hair out in despair, I just drew the missing square on my intention page. It really doesn’t matter that it isn’t “perfect”.
Cross it out. Start again. Don’t care. It’s fine.
How to Use The Intention Page
Every evening I open my journal to fill my Infinity Square. It’s my daily self-connecting ritual, which I haven’t skipped for over 1400 days (because it’s a lot of fun and so easy that I have no excuse not to do it). This is not only the perfect gateway into my journal, but also it brings me back to the intention page every day, which is a perfect opportunity to reconnect with what I want to direct my attention towards.
As I see the squares filling up, I’m constantly aware of the flow of time. This puts a bit of positive pressure on me – am I embodying my intention or is it just written there? The point is not to punish myself for not doing enough, but to pause and honestly check-in with myself: is there something I can do to bring more attention to my intentions? Why are they important to me?
Occasionally, I change something on the page, or cross something out (remember the pro tip). It’s my journal and I can do whatever I feel like with it.
I also have two extra digital journaling practices that are aligned with the Moon.
The Moonly Review, which is a personal heartfelt letter sent on the New Moon and Full Moon, where I write about what’s alive in me right now. I’ve started writing it in December 2020 as an experiment, and the practice is still with me.
I also create a Moonly Video Diary, compiling a few seconds of video from every day into a Moonly video. I’ve started this practice back in 2017, stopped after 3 times, and then came back to it in 2021. I have a feeling that this time it will stick for a while. Let’s see 👁.
Ready to Align 🌑🌕?
I invite you to draw your Infinity Squares.