Through gossamer threads of billowing clouds, moon bathing in reflected light can penetrate your soul.
In fact, sometimes the moon’s power seems stronger when its light is dimmed by such veils. The veils of clouds create mystery and sensations of movement and possibilities. The reflected light of the moon in combination with the clouds has a richness and context that sometimes we don’t notice as much when the moon is just a white dot in the sky. Sometimes it takes a little moon bathing to realize that life too, is like that. When things are obvious, we sometimes notice them less, but when there is added mystery, there is a sense of not knowing and of possibilities; our awareness is heightened and on alert, and we become more conscious with this alertness to observation.
Moon Bathing – Special Time with the Moon
A very popular idea of late is the concept of forest bathing or Shinrin-Yoku – a term created by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. The idea is that spending time in nature can bring healthful benefits, for both body and mind. It is a very fine idea, if you have a forest nearby, or are fit enough to go traipsing through the woods.
The other night, however, I remembered a different type of bathing that can have tremendous benefits as well, for the body and mind. I’m calling it moon bathing. And no, you do not have to get wet to do it. You can simply find a comfortable chair outside on a moonlit night.
Moon bathing is for me, the ultimate luxury because it means I’m actually giving time to myself. Time to allow the creative, intuitive, parts of me to come to the fore, while my body rests. By the light of the moon, I am washed clean of stress, anxiety, and concern, while I watch the drifting clouds slide past, around, and over the moon in a mesmerizing dance. Each time the clouds clear and the moon’s brightness touches my upturned face, I feel a giddiness inside like a child being gently tickled. Then I watch the rainbow colors of the gossamer tendrils dance and change as the wind takes them off and away from the light of the moon.
All manner of emotions arise as memories of many different times in my life I have felt the comfort of the moon when nothing else seemed right in the world. Yet, in the light of the moon, nothing is jarring or uncomfortable. The softness of moonlight is like a balm that heals and soothes. Such is the strength of reflected light. And such is the mystical quality of the moon.
Many feel good when sunbathing, but I have often found it to be a harsh light, not merely for my easily burned pale Irish skin, but for the fact that I cannot look at the sun directly to allow its light to penetrate into my soul the way that I can with moonlight. Moonlight bathing can cleanse me from the inside, bathing deeply my soul.
I find the moon to be as powerful an influencer on this planet as any other outside force. Look at the effect it has on the tides?
What would happen if we didn’t have a moon?
Most likely we would not have any seasons, because the moon helps the earth to tilt slightly on its axis and it also prevents the earth from tilting wildly, preventing extreme heat and frequent ice ages. In other words, it keeps the earth balanced.
If we take some time to be mindful of the moon, we too can benefit from its balancing effects. For example, in many traditions and cultures, the moon’s phases have different significance. Some indications are that if you set an intention on the night of the new moon, there is a good possibility for your intention to come to fruition by the time of the full moon.
For some, this might seem like hocus pocus, but what is the harm and why not mark a special time to start a new habit, or make a goal for yourself and pay attention to the steps you are taking to fulfill that mission? Why not make a commitment to achieve something in 28 days and then celebrate in the light of the moon?
How to set an intention using the power of moon bathing
There are lots of different experts who will tell you each step depending on a specific tradition or location in culture. I recommend you keep it simple.
Here are some suggestions given for New Moon intentions.
- Meditate for a time on what you want to manifest.
- Seek inner guidance about its benefits to you.
- Write in your journal about the answers you find (perhaps you will discover that what you are asking for is not in your best interest – perhaps you will get insight about next steps)
- On the night of the New Moon, be clear about your intention.
- Pay attention to the things you need to let go of before you can bring in what you seek.
- It is a wonderful time for cleansing old habits and patterns
- Drink lots of water and eat healthy light meals
After you have set your intentions, the next most important part is to let go. Let go of expectations, let go of how you wish things to manifest. This is the key to your true freedom. Free yourself from attachment to outcomes and you can then rejoice in the manifestation of a new way of being.
Certainly, you can focus on your intention with positivity, but it is also a time to ask the power of the moon to shed light on what steps you need to take to prepare yourself to receive what is new. Moon bathing is an excellent way to really meditate and become clear about your intentions
The Mystical Force of the Moon is even more powerful when we meditate on its gifts.
What more can we learn from the Moon? We can learn from its gentle light how to be a reflection of light ourselves. Sometimes gentle reflected light can achieve more than the powerful light of the sun. Please don’t get me wrong, we need the sun, but sometimes a gentler approach is better.
When someone is inspired by their spiritual life, to share their insights with others, their joy and exuberance can lead them to try to convince others that their way is best. But that is like taking a man who has been living in a cave and dragging them into the sunlight. The poor man will be blinded by the light and shut his eyes tight against the light. So too can souls shut tight their hearts if they feel they are accosted by too bright a light or too strong a force that immediately exposes all their vulnerabilities.
If you are aware of the brightness of spiritual light, be like the moon, and shine it gently, bit by bit and softly until the person next to you can feel comfortable enough to accompany you out of the cave, so to speak.
I’m thinking of the gentleness of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (especially the 1st movement); it is so gentle, yet so powerful, and how it moves slowly to deeper tones bringing the listener along. This is how reflected light can draw the soul of another. Slowly, gently and with much love. The history of this piece is sad and unclear but the emotions it evokes reflect what some say the poet and critic, Ludwig Rellstab, who named it, was feeling when he heard it – he said it was like moonlight on Lake Lucerne.
Moonlight inspires so many stories, poems, and traditions.
One of my favorites poems is by Edward Lear – The Owl and the Pussycat
I’ve always loved the last part in particular. . .
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
The Chinese tradition of eating mooncakes happens during the autumn full moon. The mooncake is made round like the moon and symbolizes completion and reunion. The reunion of families celebrating the completion of the harvest.
Other moon festivals happen at different times of the year and have different significance. For example, The Wesak Festival is a traditional Buddhist festival that takes place during the Full Moon of May. This festival celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha.
The ordained members of the spiritual group that I belong to also have a gathering each year on the full moon of May – the timing is to harmonize with the energy of this special full moon, to enhance their work throughout the year.
Making your own traditions with the Moon
My mother and my two sisters and I live very far from each other. Between us we live in four countries – thousands of miles from each other. But by some unspoken decision, we have found a way to connect that is outside of our weekly, or daily phone calls. We have a special moment when we see the full moon. By some miracle, in spite of our being thousands of miles away from each other, we can sometimes see the moon at the same time. And, instead of saying “I’m thinking of you” our statement is: “can you see the moon?”
In that moment we are connected beyond space and time, we are looking at the same moon, on the same evening. Sometimes we take photos of the moon rising and send them to each other. It is an intimacy that we don’t often talk about, but it is there, between us, through our collective love for the moon and our love for each other. It has become our tradition, our sharing of the love of mystery and the love of connectedness with each other.
Other traditions have very strict rules about planting crops based on the timing of the moon. It is sometimes called moon-phase gardening. The idea is that one should plant crops that fruit above ground during the waxing moon, and plant crops that fruit below ground during the waning moon.
The new moon is the beginning of a lunar cycle. Astronomically it suggests there is no moon because we cannot actually see the moon due to its position relative to the sun and the earth. But it is still there, still affecting our oceans, and even the seasons due to its influence on the tilt of the earth.
By the time we see the first sliver of the moon, the lunar cycle is already a few days old. During the time from invisible until full, we call it a waxing moon. And, from full moon to new moon, we call it waning. Of course, there are, depending on how detailed you wish to be, 4, 8 or 12 phases listed, but I’ll leave that to the astronomers.
And what exactly is a gibbous moon?
From the Latin word meaning hump – the moon is becoming full. Traditionally, people would work on completing projects. Just as with the intentions we set at the onset of the new moon, we can work to complete them before the setting of the full moon. This is the time of the gibbous moon.
Mysticism and the moon
So, what is it that draws us to the moon? Why do we feel such an affinity for this mysterious object in the sky? Is it because we are made of the same stuff? Some scientists state that the moon is actually a part of the earth that was gouged out during the early days of the earth’s existence. Or is it the gravitational pull that we feel? The yearning of the soul to be part of something greater than ourselves; something “not of this earth.” Does the moon’s magical light ignite in us a sense of the deeper mystery of the universe?
Have you ever wondered about just what it is that touches us when we see the moon? Do you feel the mystery?
And so, we come full circle. . .
How will you use the time of the next lunar cycle? What intentions will you work on to begin the new phase of your life? As you reflect on these ideas, can you work on harnessing the power of the moon to inspire new projects, and new phases of learning and growth? What seeds do you want to plant in your life, that you want to grow to fruition?
Here in the Northeast, the evenings are growing cold, but the moon is shining even brighter in the crisp night air. I invite you to take your journal, grab some cozy blankets and go moon bathing. See what its gentle light can uncover for you. See how its ebbing energy can help you let go of that which no longer serves you. Allow its cool gentleness to soothe and calm your soul.
About the Author(s)
When Olive is not writing or editing, she is Director of Leasing for a local Real Estate company. And, when she is not in Argentina or Ireland visiting family with her husband, Olive enjoys gardening, re-purposing old furniture, and embodying the principle of “Anam Cara” (soul friend) to many in her community.