Moon Circles: Your Guide To Harnessing Potent Lunar Energy

Contributing Wellness & Beauty Editor By Lindsay Kellner
Contributing Wellness & Beauty Editor
Lindsay is a freelance writer and certified yoga instructor based in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a journalism and psychology degree from New York University. Kellner is the co-author of “The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide to Ancient Self Care,” with mbg Sustainability Editor Emma Loewe.
Woman with moon cycle

Image by mbg Creative x Diane Villadsen / Stocksy

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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. We consulted Desiree Pais, a Kundalini teacher and moon circle host; Dages Juvelier Keates, a modern urban witch; and our resident astrologers, The AstoTwins to get the download on these mystical circles.

What happens at a moon circle?

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.

People come to moon circles to set intentions, clear energy, work 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 discussions, whereas moon circles are largely based in communal ritual and personal reflection.

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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 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 effects 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.

Elements of a moon circle

With a baseline understanding of what moon circles are all about, let's go over the elements that they typically incorporate.

1. Altar

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.

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. Keates says the positioning of these objects matters:

  • 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.

2. Intention setting

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.

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3. Chanting

Whenever I've done a moon ceremony, we've sung and chanted kriyas from Kundalini yoga. Typically we chant mantras for a certain amount of time (anywhere from five to 30 minutes), which grounds us in the present moment and also helps bring us closer together as a community.

4. Guided meditation

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, in this step, people will have and share revelations, unexpected visions, or finally will process something that's been stuck.

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5. Candle ceremony

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. Here, the AstroTwins break down the nature of each moon phase and what kind of moon ceremony can best correspond with it.

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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 intentions 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 complete 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 the 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, full moons are also a great time to assess your agendas and goals. Keep in mind, though, that full moons are ultimately about 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."

Here's our complete guide to hosting a virtual full moon circle.

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."

What materials do you need to do a moon circle?

While the "essentials" really are just a pen and a notebook, these things can add to the experince:

  • Burning Papers, a helium balloon, or something to release
  • A journal and pen
  • Candles
  • Crystals
  • 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!"

Summary

Gathering in a moon circle is a fun way to connect with like-minded souls and conduct rituals tailored to the phase of the moon. Really, there are no hard and fast rules when hosting a moon circle (it's all about bringing people together with intention) but these suggestions can help you get started crafting one of your own.

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