New moon hanging in a blue and pink sky, representing the time to perform a new moon ritual and set intentions for the next lunar cycle.
Self-Care

New Moon Ritual to Set Intentions

The new moon refers to the start of the lunar phase when the first tiny sliver of a crescent that can be seen after the Moon and the Sun are in conjunction. New moons are perfect times for reflection and introspection, taking stock of the last lunar cycle and setting intentions for the new one.

New moons represent new beginnings. As the moon blocks the sun from view in the night sky, the dark, shadow side of the moon signifies the uncertain yet fertile opportunities that await us over the next 29 days of the lunar cycle. It’s a perfect time for a ritual to let go of what no longer serves us and look forward to a fresh start.

While the moon has particular spiritual significance for me, you don’t need to have any spiritual connection with this astronomical occurrence to engage in a little self-care.

I like to do my new moon rituals in the evenings, but you can do it whenever it suits your schedule. Early mornings can also be incredible times to find a little peace and tranquility.

If you’re feeling in need of a little more healing, you might want to consider taking the day off so that you can complete this ritual as a part of a full self-care day. I have a whole post about why you should take self-care days, what to prepare for them, and how to design one that best suits your needs.

Phases of the moon chart
The phases of the moon from Freepik

Create Sacred Space

Evoke the feeling of new beginnings that the new moon represents by intentionally cultivating a sacred space before your ritual.

Do this in any way that feels good to you. Some examples could be:

  • Clean and tidy your home so you can engage in this caring practice for yourself without worrying about the dirty pile of clothes on the floor or the dishes piled up in the kitchen sink.
  • Light a candle in your room or take one in a jar out to the garden. Keeping it dim for the new moon is best. It’s not the best time to recreate that scene from The Phantom of the Opera.
An animated gif showing a hundred burning candles.
A bit extra
  • Put on some calming, atmospheric music. A playlist for meditation or calm would be perfect or just any artist you like whose music soothes you.
  • Burn some incense. Although white sage and palo santo are popular choices for ritual smoke cleansing, please make sure you’re buying them from Native American and Indigenous sellers. Smudging is considered sacred medicine to many Native American nations and had been outlawed in the United States up until 1978. Commercially produced ‘smudging kits’ popular in Neopagan and New Age cultures have also led to the over-harvesting of wild sage in the United States. In 2018, Sephora had to withdraw a “Starter Witch Kit” from sale after attracting criticisms for including a bundle of sage along with tarot cards, crystals, and perfume.
  • A smoke-free alternative to incense and other forms of smoke cleansing is to spray an Agua de Florida cologne. Again, this is an Indigenous shamanic medicine that should be purchased from an Indigenous seller.
  • Set up your altar or just bring together some items with symbolic significance to you, like a picture of a loved one, souvenirs or trinkets that recall happy memories, or just lay down some cozy cushions and blankets.
  • Bring paper, pens, your journal, and a heat-proof bowl, if you’d like to burn anything.
  • Prepare something to eat or drink after the ritual. It’s normal to feel in need of a little grounding after a ritual and something like a small bowl of fruit, nuts, or a cup of tea can be very soothing.

Prepare Your Body and Mind

Take a shower or bath before the ritual.

To elevate the experience, put around 10 drops of an essential oil of your choice into your bathwater. (Some essential oils are very strong so adjust accordingly). Lavender, frankincense, eucalyptus, and chamomile are all good choices for calming and purifying. Dried lavender and chamomile flowers also work beautifully.

Woman with long dark hair having a ritual bath before her new moon ritual to set intentions.
Photograph by Craig Adderley

It’s absolutely fine if you don’t have any special bath and body products. Just focus on intentionally treating your body and your space with gentleness and kindness. Visualize the negativity caught on your body (your worries, frustrations, stress, and pain) being washed away down the drain.

Enter the space you have set aside for your new moon ritual.

Get comfortable and spend as much time as you’d like to go inwards and cultivate a sense of inner peace.

Maybe you’d like to meditate or just spend a few minutes journaling. Free-form journalling is often a great technique to enter an altered state.

Reflect on What to Let Go

Reflecting on the last 29 days of the lunar cycle, consider what has weighed most heavily upon you. What has held you back? What doesn’t feel aligned with your values? What is no longer serving you and your purpose?

If one clear idea or image comes to mind, visualize it for a moment, recognizing how it feels to have carried it.

Then imagine throwing it behind you, falling into an abyss, or perhaps it just fades away, loosening its hold on you.

If many little things are holding you back, write them all down on a small sheet of paper. When you’ve filled the paper, fold the paper in half away from you, turn the paper, and fold away from you again two more times. While holding the folded sheet, take a moment to recognize the strain of all these burdens, then when you’re ready, light it on fire and leave it to burn out in your heat-proof bowl.

new moon writing intentions
Photograph by Emma Dau

Set New Intentions

Take a moment to breathe deeply and recenter.

With the negativities cast away, allow yourself to enjoy the sensations of lightness, peace, and calm.

To harness the power of the new moon, set intentions for the next lunar cycle. The best intentions are those that are simple and sincere.

While your mind is serene, conjure one vivid image or word. I like to keep my intentions open, using words like “kindness”, “affection”, “love”, “generosity”, “strength”, and “truth”.

If there are many things you would like to invite into your life, write them down on a fresh sheet of paper. Fold the paper when you’re done towards you, turning and repeating two more times. Keep this note somewhere safe. (You’d want to be able to find it at the next full moon.)

How to Write Intentions

Intentions are best expressed as positive statements, in other words, saying “I am brave” can be more powerful than “I won’t be afraid”.

Examples of new moon intentions include:

  • I am calm
  • I am present
  • I am courageous
  • I am kind
  • I forgive others and myself
  • I love freely
  • I stand for justice

When you’re done visualizing or writing down your intentions, give thanks to the higher powers you hold dear, or if you’re not spiritual, just give thanks for all that you’re grateful for in your life.

Feel safe and held by the universe in this moment.

If tarot is a part of your practice, the energies of the new moon are perfect for divination. I like to do a simple spread to guide where I should focus my attention for the next lunar cycle.

new moon tarot
Photograph by Jen Theodore

When you’re ready to get back to ‘the real world’, ground yourself by eating and drinking what you prepared earlier.

Invoke More Magic

If the ritual felt nourishing and restorative, you might want to consider making it a regular practice as part of your self-care.

Although I hold astrological beliefs lightly, I can sometimes feel spiritually starved unless I habitually take the time to intentionally connect with the natural world and appreciate something larger than myself. Observing the moon’s cycles is a meaningful and rewarding way for me to put my troubles into perspective and mark the milestones of my life.

In the next section, I have listed the dates for the new moon for 2021. You can mark these in your calendar and come back to this ritual (or any variation of it that feels good for you) whenever you’re in need of a mental and emotional reset.

To keep a little feeling of the sacred in your every day, consider setting up a table, shelf, or mantlepiece in your home as an altar. It can be as elaborate or simple as you’d like. Please see my post walking you through the steps to build your own altar.

When Are the New Moons for 2021?

There are 12 new moons in 2021. Their dates are:

  • January 13
  • February 11
  • March 13
  • April 12
  • May 11
  • June 10
  • July 10
  • August 8
  • September 7
  • October 6
  • November 4
  • December 4

You can visit Moon Info to check the current phase of the moon.

Conclusion

Whether or not the moon holds any spiritual significance for you, there are many benefits to being more attuned with the natural world and taking opportunities to slow down and care for yourself.

New moons are perfect moments to reset, cultivating a sacred moment of introspection and tranquility. They are times to take stock of what has come to pass in the last lunar cycle and set new intentions for the next. We can slow down and imbue our lives with greater awareness, intention, and magic.

Let me know if you try out this ritual and how it goes for you.

See you at the full moon.

new moon ritual intuition
Photograph by Jen Theodore

Learn More

Kyrah Malika Daniels (2016) The coolness of cleansing: Sacred waters, medicinal plants and ritual baths of Haiti and Peru. ReVista.

Camille Williams (2017) When spiritual bypassing meets racism meets gaslighting. Wake Up, Mama!

Layla F. Saad (2018) A love letter to Black, Indigenous & People of Colour: On freeing ourselves from racist priestesses, fake gurus & white supremacist spiritual teachers.

To read more about white cultural appropriation of First Nations cultures in New Age practices, see these two amazing journal articles:

Lisa Aldred (2000). Plastic shamans and astroturf sundances: New Age commercialization of Native American spirituality. American Indian Quarterly, 24(3), 329–352.

Linda E. Donaldson (1999). On medicine women and white shame-ans: New Age Native Americanism and commodity fetishism as pop culture feminism. Signs, 24(3), 677–696.

Featured image by Gavin Spear

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