As the largest and brightest object in the night sky, the moon has often been a source of curiosity and intrigue. However, once a month, the moon takes a back seat and lets the stars do the shining.
New moons are an incredibly fascinating lunar phase. They occur when the moon is positioned between the earth and the sun in perfect alignment. The sun shines on the side of the moon that is facing away from the earth, which creates the effect of a “dark moon” making the moon almost completely invisible to us. The darkness of the night has been known to symbolise new beginnings and therefore is a time where we can think about our wants and desires that we wish to work towards and achieve during the next month.
Historically, the lunar cycle has been an important aspect of daily life. Before the modern-day calendar was invented ancient civilisations used the moon’s phases to mark the passage of time. New moons marked the beginning of the month, and this was known as a time for celebration. The ancient Greeks had a large festival that lasted around three days during the time of a new moon. The festival would begin just before the dark moon so that they could prepare for the new month and take the time to put forward offerings to different deities on the days to come. It was also a time for purification, for the cleansing of the soul and of their houses. They were encouraged to pay back debts and basically start fresh before the new month. The Romans wouldn’t commence the celebratory aspect of the festival until the first crescent would appear in the sky once more, which usually occurred two days after what we now know to be the astronomical new moon.
The ancient Egyptians also relied heavily on the lunar cycle. The moon’s passage throughout the month was incredibly important to their day-to-day lives and due to its cyclical nature, became a symbol of renewal. The ancient Egyptians also greatly feared any disruptions to the normal cycle, so events such as lunar or solar eclipses were believed to be bad omens. They also believed that the lunar cycle only lasted around 16 days. For them, it began at the new moon and finished at the following full moon.
Science has come a long way since ancient times, but even now, thousands of years later, astronomers still assert that the beginning of the lunar cycle occurs at the time of the new moon. However, it is now known that the cycle ends with the next new moon, with the full moon sitting in the middle as the climax of the four week period, making it around 29 days long.
Most of us would be more familiar with the myths and folk tales surrounding full moons. Stories of lunacy, werewolves, sleepless nights and unsettled energy are all associated with this phase. New moons are just as significant, but the energy during this time is much calmer and therefore evokes less concern.
There are some similarities between the two as both phases hold great significance and are the most defining aspects of the lunar cycle. For example, during both of these lunar phases, the tides are at their highest and lowest points. Water is regarded as an important part of the moon’s significance due to its control of the tides, it can also be beneficial to consider for us as human beings as well. Water is widely believed by astrologers to be the element that governs our emotions, and since human beings are made up of about 50-60% water, it is plausible that the moon could have a slight effect on our moods and emotions.
New moons have always represented new beginnings and rebirth and therefore is a great time to reflect on the month that has just past. With the opportunity of a symbolic new beginning being presented to us every 29 days, we can set new intentions and take action to make changes to our lives. The new moon can be a great tool for motivation to take the next steps towards achieving your goals, or completely resetting them.
On the night of a new moon, many people utilise this lunar phase by creating their own new moon routine. This can include activities like meditation, organisation, planning, goal setting and intention setting. For some it is important to remain positive when planning forward, instead of journaling about what they don’t want to happen, it is better to use positive language and focus on the good that they want to pursue.
Journaling prompts can be a useful tool to help reflect and reset during a new moon. They can be a great way of setting intentions because putting pen to paper can make our goals a lot more meaningful.
Some journaling prompts that can be used during this time are:
1. What are five things you are grateful for?
2. What has come to an end in the past month that has opened up space for new opportunities and goals?
3. What are your intentions for the next month?
4. What have you felt inspired by recently?
5. What do you really want to happen this next month?
The practice of re-reading can help to solidify intentions and give you a sense of purpose and finality after completing these prompts. Journal entries such as these can be returned to at anytime and can be a continual motivation throughout the entire rest of the month.
Gabrielle Downes is a recent Arts graduate from the University of Melbourne. She is an avid reader and writer and is currently working on starting her own personal lifestyle blog. Gabrielle is passionate about history and travel and hopes to continue seeing different parts of the world.
This article was written and produced as part of the CREATE Media Arts Internship Program.
Laneway Learning has partnered with The Mentorship to deliver this exciting new program to support young people aspiring to work within the creative media and arts sectors.