A new moon occurs when the moon’s orbit falls directly between the sun and the earth. In astrological terms, this means that the moon is conjunct or united with the sun. Because the moon reflects light from the sun, it appears to have disappeared from view at this stage of the lunar cycle.
A full moon, on the other hand, occurs when the sun and moon are in opposition, or facing each other with the earth in between, creating the visual effect that it is fully illuminated. Due to the obvious outward expression of its energy, the full moon receives much more attention than the new moon, although it would be wise to cultivate a relationship with the new moon as well.
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the symbolism of the new moon
The new moon is commonly known as a time to initiate beginnings. Something to keep in mind is also that when the new moon occurs, not only does a new cycle begin, but the previous phase also ends. we are reminded to reflect on the cyclical nature of reality, how every beginning is an end, and how we are in constant relationship with the filling and pouring that life asks of us.
In astrology, the sun represents the spirit while the moon represents the physical and emotional body. what does it mean when these two are in conjunction? one of my teachers speaks of the new moon as a period of gestation. when we are in the dark, there is a deep, felt sense of connection, an experience that the two are one. it is the moment when the physical and emotional body can rest and reestablish itself in the womb of the spirit. there is no separation during this phase.
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There is meaning in any kind of conjunction, which is when separate elements come together to continue on their path of perfection. alchemy and the fusion of separate metals is a type of conjunction. the new moon is another. the sun and the moon, who recently came together during the full phase of the lunar cycle and then separated, come together to continue their path of perfection. Knowing that the sun and moon combine and separate only to recombine in the continuous process of perfection has always brought me peace. theirs is an eternal cycle.
This is the relationship, the alchemy, between spirit and matter that can be consciously tuned in if we pay attention to the magic of the new moon and full moon cycles.
From a psychological perspective, the sun represents awareness and consciousness, which is the expression of light emanating from the source. the moon represents our emotions that reflect our experience of that light. the new moon can lead us to a careful investigation of how our emotions continue to ebb and flow within the constant light of awareness. highlighted by darkness, the new moon is when we lose our ability to see the reflected light that illuminates what needs to be seen. Only if we build a relationship with the dark will we get ahead. during the new moon, allow your consciousness to cleanse and reset your emotional body.
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why every next new moon is different
It can be easy to get caught up in the idea that every new moon (and full moon) brings the same ideas. this is not true. each lunar cycle is in a different sign of the zodiac, meaning not only will it have its own particular flavor, but it will exist somewhere different within your personal birth chart. each iteration of the new moon brings a specific invitation for you. it will ask you to highlight an area of your life and a place in your psyche. allow yourself to feel the empty immensity of the dark moon. (Becoming familiar with your personal birth chart can bring much more clarity to each new moon and help you know how to plant seeds more accurately, even while doing so in the great potentiality of darkness.)
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how it affects you
Many of us understand the effect a full moon has on high tides, but how does this gravitational pull play out during a new moon? Although the new moon falls at the opposite point of its orbit as the full moon, it also creates ripples. think of the moon’s energy as a pendulum swinging back and forth. imagine holding a pendulum in front of you and swinging it out and then back at you. they are like the high tides experienced during new and full moons. the full moon is focused externally and away from you, while the new moon is directed internally and swings towards you.
Although the new moon is sometimes perceived to be in a void state, it is still in an elevated state. I come to meditation during the new moon to understand this state of being more and more. being in the dark is really a beautiful thing, not darkness in terms of evil, but darkness as spaciousness, like the void and the womb from which we all originate.
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what to do during the new moon
For centuries, the new moon has been considered an ideal time to plant things. as such, it is often spoken of as the time to set intentions for the coming lunar cycle. Less well known is the fact that in many cultures, the moon was not considered “new” until its light returned from the phase of observable darkness.
This in no way implies that we should stop setting intentions during the new moon. however, this knowledge allows us to experience the dark phase as an invitation to feel the cycle from a more embodied perspective.
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During the precise time of the new moon, there is absolute darkness. my experience with meditation during this time has led me to a nuanced relationship with intention setting. I consider the cycle that has come before, what I have let go of, and ask in the darkness of meditation to show me what will come after. when I practice this, I receive much more information about the natural process that is unfolding, and with less need to hold on to fleeting ideas, allowing me to connect with what is more aligned with the cosmic order of things. this does not mean that I do not seek my needs and desires. however, in times of darkness, I become more silent, still, and allow myself to receive the seed that I then sow when the light of the moon reappears. I experience life from a place of curiosity rather than coming into it expecting what I think is supposed to happen.
I return to this orientation with the new moon every month. this time is like being in the womb, which is possibly the most important time in a child’s life, as there is no independent will of the mother. I gladly allow myself to be in the womb, the place of gestation, receiving the nourishment of being in the dark and connecting with something other than myself to embark on the journey of actualization at the next full moon.
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about our partner
cameron allen began her journey to understanding mind-body awareness with a bachelor’s degree in health and sports sciences and psychology. Beyond the colonized educational system, he began to seek understanding through direct experience with nature, astrology, herbalism, root work, yoga, and other indigenous technologies. Cameron is an herbalist, astrologer, and writer. Cameron is a student of life and continues to deepen his studies of ancient wisdom and apply it to modern life.
see also: more information on astrology and related practices