The one thing we found when researching this topic was that, truthfully, there are no hard and fast rules about hosting a moon circle. It's all about bringing people together with intention. We consulted Desiree Pais, a Kundalini teacher, Traditional Chinese Medicine expert, and moon circle host, our resident astrologers, The AstoTwins, and relevant research to get the download on moon circles.
What is a moon circle and why would I host one?
A moon circle is exactly what it sounds like: a group of people—typically women, but moon circles are all-inclusive—gathering in the evening to harness the potent energy of the moon. If it sounds a little witchy, it is! Typically, new moons and full moons have the most poignant energy, and moon energy can be harnessed three days before or after it passes through the full or new phase.
"I think people resonate with the moon because of the themes. It highlights something particular in their lives that they want to work through and people are realizing more and more that meditation is the key to unlocking our potential and clearing blocks," says Desiree.
People come to moon circles to set intentions, clear energy, work through through something, gain clarity, and connect with themselves through communal energy. The main difference between a moon circle and a women's circle is that a women's circle is primarily sharing stories and discussion, where as moon circles are largely based in communal ritual and personal reflection.
Fact vs. fiction: how does the moon affect people?
As you can probably imagine, there is no comprehensive body of research to show the effectiveness of moon circles (...yet). But if you piece together a what's known about our physical bodies and the subtle but powerful effects our moon has on the Earth, it's logical to conclude that we aren't immune to the moon. As beings living on this Earth, we're just as affected by the lunar forces as everything else. In fact, it's illogical to think that we'd somehow escape them.
Of course, lunar forces are invisible and subconscious so they're tough to measure, but a few studies have shown how the moon affects water. Consider that our bodies are mostly made of water, at least 70 percent just like the Earth. If you live near a body of water, you know that the tides are very exaggerated during a full or new moon. Another study found that lunar forces affect rainfall due to air pressure changes based on the moon's positioning.
When it comes to showing concrete and significant affects that the moon has on human beings, one study found that people have a harder time sleeping during a full moon, suggesting once again that we're affected by lunar energy.
Female menstrual cycles are often referred to as "moon cycles" for good reason. Research has shown that more women menstruate during a new moon than any other phase, suggesting that normal cycles do sync to a lunar pattern. And even if you you're on birth control or don't naturally sync with the moon, there are things you can do to make the most your feminine and lunar nature during each phase of the moon.
Elements of a moon circle
Based on your intention, you and anyone else attending the circle will bring at least one material item to add to the altar. It's common to charge jewelry and crystals (especially on new and full moons), but bring anything you'd like to imbue with positive energy. We spoke to Dages Juvelier Keates, a modern urban witch, about how to pick what to bring to the altar and where to place it. First, you'll set up your altar and then tell your guests about the orientation. Afterward, invite them to come up and place their objects on the altar, one at a time, without speaking.
- North is earth. Bring stone, bone, crystals, dried herbs, anything earthly in nature.
- South is fire. Bring matches, candles, anything orange, yellow, or red, or anything that evokes your passion, piques your curiosity, or otherwise causes a spark.
- East is wind or air. Bring feathers, essential oils, blades, glass, pens, or anything that symbolizes a new beginning.
- West is water. Bring anything that reminds you of your grandmother, anything oceanic, or any containers like chalices.
Bring a journal—one that you're not afraid to write in. You'll be asked to reflect, envision, and express during the ceremony and writing on the "notes" app in your phone just takes out the zen.
Whenever I've done a moon ceremony, we've sung and chanted kriyas from Kundaini yoga. Typically we chant mantras for a certain amount of time (anywhere from five to 30 mintutes), which grounds us in the present moment and also helps bring us closer together as a community.
Whether it's before or after chanting, there is a guided meditation or visualization that will direct your unconscious to show itself to you. Often, people will have and share revelations, unexpected visions, or finally will process something that's been stuck.
Lighting a candle for someone or something is a great way to begin to bring the circle to a close. Candles (unscented—otherwise there are too many competing scents!) are pragmatic because participants can bring their freshly charged candles home and use them to keep the lunar vibes going.
The astrological nature of each moon phase
In theory, you can host a moon circle at any time in the lunar calendar, but the type of ceremony you have will depend on the current phase of the moon. I spoke to our resident astrologers, the AstroTwins, to better understand the nature of each moon and what kind of moon ceremony to host.
New moon: set intentions
New moons are a time to create, reset, regenerate. The sky is dark on a new moon, resembling a blank canvas and a time of potential. During a new moon ceremony, you'll want to spend time pondering and refining intention you want to manifest in the new lunar cycle. When we asked her about new moon intentions, Ophi of the AstroTwins says, "[w]e set them on an altar or under a crystal, allowing them to slowly manifest—either for the two weeks leading up to the next full moon, or for six months, until the full moon blossoms in the corresponding zodiac sign." She also shared that it's helpful to note the astrological sign the moon is in when you do the ceremony, as it can help guide your intentions and provide a mark, six months later, of when the intentions should progress or how they will ripen. Here's our guide to hosting a new moon circle.
Waxing moon: take action
On the waxing moon, Ophi shares, "Ideas and excitement are building up at this point. We see more than just the glimmer of possibility because tangible developments are starting to unfold. Rituals for the waxing quarter moon should be more practical and action oriented."
Waxing moons are a good time to take action—big or small—toward your dream. And as mentioned before, use moon's current zodiac sign for guidance on your actionable area.
Full moon: manifest
If a new moon is a time for setting goals, then the full moon is a time to manifest. Those goals are ripening.
"There’s a seal-the-deal energy during full moons, which help us draw attention to all our hard work. Collect what is owed to you, from outstanding work to money you loaned," says Ophi.
With moonlight illuminating everything, it's also a great time to asses your agendas and goals, but keep in mind that full moons are about harvest and ultimately, letting the lunacy take over. Ophi says, "Full moon rituals are about celebration—treat yourself to a beautiful dinner, go dancing with friends, buy new equipment that will make your life easier."
Waning moon: release
A waning moon is a time for clearing and letting go to prepare for the new moon once again.
"[a]re you dragging any outmoded emotions, toxic relationships or unfulfilling situations along for the ride? Letting go is rarely easy, but this is the time to make the transition," Ophi recommends.
This is a time to get personal and go deep. Ophi suggests lighting a candle, brewing a pot of tea and pouring your heart out in your journal. "You might even write a goodbye letter—but instead of dropping it in the mailbox (or hitting send), do a ceremonial release by burning it safely in a fire. If you lost someone important, create a special altar to honor their memory and leave it up until the new moon."
The waning moon is also a time to help toxins move from your body through body work, acupuncture or a try a cleanse, so that you can move into the new moon with lightness and ease.
What do you need to do a moon circle?
While the "essentials" really are just a pen and a notebook,
- Burning Papers, a helium balloon, or something to release
- A journal and pen
- Sage / Palo Santo
- Blue, black, silver or white clothing
- Offerings for the altar
Pais reminds us that at the end of the day, we should shake it out and focus on being in the present moment! "Just have FUN. people take spirituality so seriously. I always have tea and treats at mine. Talk, share, build community. Enjoy each other's company!"
Check out this article for more on tonight's full moon and meteor shower.