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A new Moon occurs when the Moon’s orbit falls directly between the Sun and the Earth. In astrological terms, this means the Moon is conjunct, or joined with, the Sun. Because the Moon reflects light from the Sun, it seems to have disappeared from our vantage at this phase of the lunar cycle.
A full Moon, conversely, occurs when the Sun and Moon are in opposition, or straight across from one another with the Earth in between, which creates the visual effect of it being fully illuminated. Due to the obvious external expression of its energy, the full Moon receives vastly more attention than the new Moon, although it would be wise to cultivate a relationship with the latter as well.
See also: What the Full Moon Means in Astrology
The symbolism of the new Moon
The new Moon is commonly known as a time to initiate beginnings. Something to also be mindful of is that when the new Moon occurs, it not only begins a new cycle, but also ends the phase that came before. We are reminded to reflect on the cyclical nature of reality, how every beginning is an end, and how we are in a constant relationship with the filling up and pouring out that life asks of us.
In astrology, the Sun represents spirit whereas the Moon represents the physical and emotional body. What does it mean when these two conjunct? One of my teachers speaks of the new Moon as a gestation period. When we are in the darkness, there is a deep and felt sense of connection, an experience of the two being one. It is the time when the physical and emotional body can rest and reset in the womb of one’s spirit. No separation exists during this phase.
There is significance in any sort of conjunction, which is when separate elements join one another in order to continue on their path of perfection. Alchemy and the melding of separate metals is one type of conjunction. The new Moon is another. The Sun and the Moon, which were recently in union during the full phase of the lunar cycle and then separated, join one another in order to continue on their path of perfection. Knowing that the Sun and Moon combine and separate only to recombine in the continued process of perfecting has always brought me peace. Theirs is an everlasting cycle.
This is the relationship—the alchemy—between spirit and matter that can be consciously attuned to if we take heed of the magic of the new and full Moon cycles.
From a psychological perspective, the Sun represents awareness and consciousness, which is the expression of light that emanates from Source. The Moon represents our emotions that reflect our experience of that light. The new Moon can bring us into a careful investigation of how our emotions continue to ebb and flow within the steady 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 relationship with the darkness will we move forward. During the new Moon, allow your awareness to cleanse and reset your emotional body.
See also: A Yin Yoga Practice for the New Moon
Why every next new Moon is different
It can be easy to get caught up in the idea that every new (and full) Moon brings the same insights. This is not true. Every Moon cycle is in a different sign of the zodiac, which means not only will 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 life and a place in your psyche. Allow yourself to feel into the empty vastness of the dark Moon. (Getting familiar with your personal natal chart can bring much more clarity to each new Moon and help you know how to plant seeds in a more precise way, even while doing so in the vast potentiality of the darkness.)
How it affects you
Many of us understand the effect the full Moon has on high tides, but how does this gravitational pull play out during the new Moon? Although the new Moon falls at the opposite point in its orbit as the full Moon, it, too, creates waves. Think of the energy of the moon as a pendulum swinging back and forth. Imagine holding a pendulum in front of you and swinging it outward and then back toward you. These are like the high tides experienced during the new and full Moons. The full Moon is externally focused and swinging away from you while the new Moon is directed internally and swinging toward you.
Although the new Moon is sometimes perceived as being in a state of emptiness, it still is in a heightened state. I come to meditation during the new Moon to understand this state of being more and more. Being in the darkness is really a beautiful thing—not darkness in terms of evil, but darkness as spaciousness, like the void and womb in which we all originated.
What to do during the new Moon
For centuries, the new Moon has been considered an ideal time for seeding things. As such, it is often talked about as the time to set intentions for the lunar cycle that is being birthed. Lesser known is the fact that in many cultures, the Moon wasn’t considered to be “new” until her light returned from the phase of observable darkness.
This by no means implies that we should discontinue setting intentions during the new Moon. However, this knowledge enables us to experience the dark phase as an invitation to feel into the cycle from a more embodied perspective.
During the precise time of the new Moon, there is absolute darkness. My experience with meditating during this time has brought me to a nuanced relationship with setting intentions. I consider the cycle that has come before, what I have let go of, and I ask in the darkness of meditation to be shown what is to come next. When I practice this, I receive so much more insight into the natural process that is unfolding—and with less need to cling to fleeting ideas, which then allows me to connect with what is more in alignment with the cosmic order of things. This is not to say I do not seek my wants and desires. However, in times of darkness, I become more silent, still, and allowing of myself to receive the seed that I then plant as the light of the Moon reappears. I experience life from a place of curiosity as opposed to coming at it with an expectation of 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 arguably the most important time of a child’s life as there is no will independent of the mother’s. 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 more than myself in order to go on the journey of actualizing at the next full Moon.
About our contributor
Cameron Allen began his path to understanding mind-body awareness with a degree in health and sports science and psychology. Beyond the colonized education system, he began seeking understanding through direct experience with nature, Astrology, herbalism, rootwork, yoga, and other indigenous technologies. Cameron is a 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.