A lot of fuss is made about the full moon. It’s the high point of the lunar cycle, the energetic zenith, the showpiece. And yet, when you’re working with the lunar cycle, it all starts a fortnight or so before, with the dark*/ new moon.
This new moon time is the equivalent to the seed being planted. Nothing can be seen, and yet, there is a lot going on beneath the surface. This is the time to focus on what it is we want to grow and blossom in our lives.
Here, I share an outline for a simple new moon intention setting ceremony (though it may not look particularly ceremonial – it depends on your personal taste) that you can adapt and make your own. I’m using a somewhat over-extended metaphor of planting a seed, because it makes me happy, and also because I hope it will resonate and create new thoughtful connections for you, if you haven’t thought about it in this way before.
Often, it’s not immediately clear which intention you want to set. There might be nothing you can pinpoint that you need right now, you may feel awkward giving yourself and your desires this kind of luscious playtime, and/or, there may be so many things that need to change that you don’t know where to start.
If this is the case, you can find inspiration by digging deeper into your current pain points, hopes, and dreams (literally). This is the general digging stage. You may like to do this through:
*Journalling; either free-writing (see below) or using prompts, such as, which part of my life feels out of balance right now? How can I bring more joy into my life? What do I need to focus on this month? Where am I limited? What do I need? Ezzie Spencer also has a Dream Life Exercise in her book Lunar Abundance, which can be helpful for figuring out what to focus on. (If you’re interested in Lunar Abundance, I made a review over on my YouTube channel)
*Free-writing (a fancy way of saying, writing without consciously thinking about what you’re going to write, there’s a good definition here). It can be surprising the insights that bubble up to the surface when you allow yourself to write without any expectations. About 3 sides of A4 usually does the trick.
*Doodling; similar to free-writing but with doodles/ collage instead. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, this is a great way to connect with your deep self.
*Divination; using your preferred method, cards/ runes/ bones. Ethony has an excellent library of free, moon specific, tarot spreads here.
*Pay attention to your dreams. Keep a notebook by your bed and jot down any motifs or characters that pop up in your dreams. You may spot a pattern, you may not, but keeping this kind of record is always valuable. If you’d like to make this practice more focused you can state, before you go to sleep, that you would like to dream about an intention that it would be helpful for you to work on – and then see what pops up.
*Meditation; guided journeys/ visualisations can be especially helpful.
*Contemplation; good old fashioned, getting still and quiet (or going for a walk/ doing the ironing – anything that gets you out of that left-brain thinking space) and creating space for some new thinking about your intention to come in.
Preparing the Soil
*Know when the moon is New. You can do this by checking any decent witchy planner, or use the online calculator here.
*Use this information to schedule your new moon intention setting ceremony (you don’t have to get up for it if it’s in the middle of the night, just choose the time that works for you that falls closest after the new moon).
*Prepare the space you will be using for your ceremony. Think about each of the senses when you do this, how can you make it feel nurturing for yourself and your intention seed? e.g. you may want to have some music playing, a blanket to cosy up in, a special scent in the diffuser etc.
*You may also want to prepare yourself in a similar fashion. Choose clothes that help you feel a certain way, use scent, have a bath (getting into your gardening clothes is the metaphor here, but you probably won’t want to wear wellies and your scruffs, but each to their own).
Selecting the Seed
If you’ve already worked on preparing your soil, then it’s likely you already know which seed (intention) to plant this moon cycle.
Now it’s time to really focus in on that intention seed. Some things to bear in mind as you do this:
*It is better to frame your intention in a positive way, rather than as something you want to get rid of e.g. “I want to lose 10lb and be healthy” is about what you want to lose – it would be better to state, “I am a healthy 145lb”.
*Frame your intention in the present tense, as if it is already true. (You’ll notice I did that with the example I gave in the last point). So, I am in a loving relationship, instead of, I want a loving relationship.
*You may want to play around with how you write/ state your intention. If you want to write it down (I find I have better results this way, than if I hold it only in my mind/ heart) you may want to do this using the circular, don’t-take-your-pen-off-the-paper method. Which is exactly as it sounds. You write your intention in a clockwise circle, joining each letter and word, until the last letter of the last word meets up with the first letter of the first. It sounds more complicated than it is 😀 just make sure you keep your pen on the paper and do not lift it up until all the letters are joined as one.
If you use sigils, you may want to use that method for writing/ sigilising your intention.
At the allotted time, in your already prepared self and space, with your ready-to-be-planted seed, it’s time to start the planting/ ceremony itself:
*First, sprinkle in some bone meal and/ or fertiliser; you may want to light some candles, cast a circle (if you do that), call on your ancestors, spirits, or deities (if that feels right).
*Plant the seed; read/ state your intention out loud. You may want to do this a number of times, 3 works well I’ve found. If you’re using sigils then activate them now.
*Cover over the hole; you may want to burn your intention (if it’s on paper or a safely burnable item such as a leaf), meditate, chant, drum.
*Water the seed; in tarot and magic water is the emotions. To water your seed to focus on how your intention makes you FEEL. Remember, not how it WILL make you feel, but how you feel as it is real in the present moment. eg. visualise yourself in that loving relationship as if it is real right now (it is already real, just only on the astral plane at the moment – that’s the first step to making it real on the material plan). Don’t skip this step, the seed will wither and die if it’s not sufficiently watered in.
A lot of the work is now done, but most seeds can use a little TLC while they get established. And what’s the point of planting if you don’t enjoy the flowers when they bloom (hopefully by the full moon, though some intentions are slower growers and take longer before they blossom) so:
*Throughout the waxing cycle you can tend your seed by watering, as in the planting section above, and making sure it gets lots of sun (happy, loving, and grateful, thoughts).
*At the first quarter moon, you may need to thin out the seedlings, if you planted more than one, or if you realise you placed them too close together.
*At the full moon appreciate the flowers, or if there are no flowers yet, check that you have been caring for the plant properly and that it has the environment it needs (it could be this isn’t the right seed for you right now, and/ or your current environment needs some changes made).
*Throughout the waning cycle you can make any changes that are needed. Weeding out anything that’s unhelpful for your seed e.g. releasing toxic friendships/ relationships, clearing out physical items, shadow work so that the sun can come through and warm your growing seed etc. You can also harvest the plant if the fruit/ intention is ready. Always with gratitude and appreciation.
*At the next dark moon your attention turns to the new seed to be planted (but keep an eye on the slow-growers that may still need your care), and so the cycle continues.
*I use the Dark Moon to refer to that period of time when the moon is invisible to the naked eye, as it is rising and setting in the same place and at the same time as the sun. The New Moon refers to the specific time and date of the new lunar cycle, which is given by astrologers. It refers to that point in time when the moon is most “dark”/ closest to the sun. For intention setting you want to be working with this NEW energy, so after this given timestamp.