My future husband and I lay in the tall African grass silently, holding hands and staring up at the extraordinary moon. It lit the ground around us with a dim, warm glow, just enough so that we could see where we were walking, even in the dark Ugandan night. A guide, if you will. It felt like we could reach up and touch it, so close, so powerful. Everything felt closer in Africa, the moon, the sun, the stars, even the rain.
We were at a rhino sanctuary a few hours from the town of Gulu, where we were teaching for 6 weeks. It had been a long, hot day, traipsing through the bush to spot the rhinos. Luckily for us, a new baby was there, they had named him “Obama”. Andy and I had known each other, in person, for about a week now. I already knew in my gut that I loved him, and something about laying under the giant golden moon really amplified that energy for me.
As I start my moon exploration more deeply, searching for guidance and symbolism, I decided that the face in the moon is a feminine one, one that is gentle and full of grace. I choose to use her wisdom during this Harvest Moon to practice releasing, truly allowing the negative emotions to fall away. For me, those come in the form of worry and not enoughness. Fear. Scarcity.
Here are 3 simple steps that I will use to begin my full moon ritual:
1. Light a candle and burn some Palo Santo.
The act of engaging all of your senses when releasing or manifesting is so important. For me, candles hold space and symbolize ritual. The flicker of the flame gives me something to focus on as I set my intentions. Palo Santo is an ancient wood used in South America for cleansing spaces and releasing negative energy. It’s sweet, earthy smoke soothes me and reminds me to stay grounded in my intention. I adore the way the scent hangs in the air throughout the whole house hours after I've burned it, as if to bring me back into the comfort of the smell.
2. Set an intention to release.
What isn’t serving you right now? What is holding you back, creating a block in your energy?
This is what needs to be let go. It may be a negative thought, a relationship, or simply a shift that you need to make in order to move forward in peace. Tonight I plan on writing down all of my “what ifs”. Every single one that sneaks it’s way into my mind. All of the questions that do nothing for me except perpetuate my fear and hold me in a space of anxiety. After I get them all down on paper I am going to burn them outside as a symbolic farewell. This is a beautiful planner to help you identify the phases of the moon cycle and how to use them in your own lunar planning.
3. Send up the praise.
I try to infuse gratitude into everything I do these days. The simple act of “counting my blessings”, especially during a time of stress, has the ability to shift my energy from lack to luck, from aching to abundant. Since writing things down seems to really intensify the energy of gratitude for me I bought some cute Thank You cards to write for my loved ones on this evening. I will also take time to give thanks for the amazing opportunity I have to teach four classes this quarter, for the upcoming opportunity to lead my first Desire Map Workshop, and simply to be on this journey. I am grateful that I am finding a spiritual practice that feels like home to me, one that I look forward to and gain strength from.
What are the things in your life that you are grateful for? Who do you need to say “thank you” to? What gifts has the universe given to you lately?
The first time I went to visit Andy in Seattle he had a care package waiting for me, included was a painting of our African moon from one of the many pictures we snapped that evening in Uganda. When I was counting down the 5 long months before I would make my life’s biggest decision to move from Chicago to Seattle there were days that lasted forever. He would always remind me that we have the moon, that we are looking at the same moon. There was comfort in that for me.
And finally, the night he proposed to me, he recreated the moon painting yet again, this time larger, and with such depth that I felt like I was laying in the grass looking up at it again. On the back of the picture he simply painted the words, “will you marry me”. By the time I read the back of the canvas he was already down on his knee in front of me, carefully holding out a ring.
It makes perfect sense that the moon and her spirit have made their way into my studies.