On the evening of Saturday, November 18, the moon will hide in the shadows, too aligned with the sun to be visible. In modern astrology, this monthly event is called the new moon; but in ancient practices, the new moon was observed two or three nights later, when the first sliver of the moon’s shape could be seen once more in the sky. This evening of the moon’s concealment was referred to instead as the dark moon.
In ancient Greece in particular, the people worshipped a goddess known as Hecate who was the deity of magic and necromancy. Though you did not find her presence looming over marble halls of great temples, she was a highly revered household goddess, and her reach was especially persuasive on the nights of the dark moon.
Learning to observe and honor this potent event and all of its mysticism can bring peace and clarity in modern times, too. Though the glowing luster of the full moon seemingly wins the majority of our adoration, the potency of the dark moon should not be neglected.
The dark moon brings closure to the last lunar cycle, providing an opportunity to reflect and ritually cleanse ourselves of the past month. In this moment, the ancient Greeks practiced ritual sweeping – they believed that by physically removing not only the dust and dirt from their homes, but also any negative or oppressive energy, they could begin the new lunar cycle physically and emotionally refreshed.
Many other cultures have practiced ritual sweeping, too, and it can truly transform the energy within your personal space (not to mention mind and body). With this in mind, what do you want to banish from your life right now? Perhaps you’re harboring negative thoughts about someone, unhealthy habits or behaviors, or a relationship that has become toxic and one-sided? The dark moon is the ideal time to cast these struggles into the universe.
Below are a few ways to conduct your own acts of ritual sweeping. Each of these, or whatever version you might create yourself, is a way to honor the sacred feminine as represented in the lunar cycles and to work towards emotional balance.
1. On small pieces of paper, write down what you want to remove from your thoughts. Light a candle in a dark room or settle in front of a fireplace, and relax, coming into an even, controlled pattern of breath. Focus on your intention, allowing your written words to dance in your mind, and then, very carefully, burn each paper slip. Take a deep exhale.
2. I love moon elixirs and gemstone shields. I wear or carry a black tourmilated crystal everyday as an energy shield, and previously, I had always charged them under a full moon. But recently, I’ve found their power to be much stronger if charged under the blanket of the dark moon.
Nearly all black gemstones can be used as protection talismans. Find one that speaks to you, cleanse it under clear water, hold it close to your heart and set your intentions for protection. Place it out under the dark moon every month.
3. In your bathroom, light your favorite candles and turn off the lights. Run a hot shower, and once you’ve warmed your body, visualize any toxic energy you’ve been carrying as dark, thick tar running down and off your limbs. The visualization here is key. Allow the water to cleanse you physically and spiritually, and then anoint yourself with your favorite bath oil. (This ritual was introduced to me by a friend from yoga teacher training and is ideal for the dark moon.)