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New Moon Rituals & Reflections on Religion

A few nights ago it was a new moon, and I found myself somewhat serendipitously among friends new and old. A dinner was hosted to bring people together on the day of the new moon. We shared homemade food around an oval-shaped table, and conversations were lively and varied. One of my friends had gathered leaves earlier in the day, deep red and curled on the edges, for us to write intentions on. Another had a unique tarot deck and read our cards throughout the night.

Before people started heading home for the evening, we walked outside together and stood in a circle in the grassy lawn, with tall shadowy trees above and their recently-dropped leaves scattered around our feet. Streetlights cut warm-toned beams of light through the darkness. One by one we shared our intentions for the month ahead, and then released them. Some burned their leaves, others tossed them to the wind, a few kept them as reminders or keepsakes. All were patient in listening to others speak about their reflections and desires. We ended with a sweet group hug, and said goodbye to most of the party.

Those who remained returned inside for a little bit of dessert and more discussions. Then I asked if the person who had the tarot deck would explain it to me. I’d heard of tarot and have many friends who practice it, but it’s not something I know much about. I kneeled on the floor as she explained how to shuffle the cards and reflect on questions I might have, then lay them out before me: past, present, future, and overall. The cards are round which adds another layer of interpretation. As she read from the guidebook and offered her own analysis, she asked if any of it was resonating with me. I smiled and said “yes”.

The next morning I had some time between appointments and decided to stop by a coffee shop, and brought my journal in with me. I felt energized to write about the evening and put some of what we talked about down on paper. I wrote about my intentions for the next phase of my life, and reflected on the previous chapter and how it’s influencing my present and future. I also sketched my tarot spread so I could spend time researching the cards later. The energy that I felt awakened in my body came before the coffee so I know it wasn’t just a caffeine buzz. Being in community with people and sharing a spiritual practice with them reawakened something in me.

Over the years my relationship to spirituality has shifted dramatically. I grew up in a Christian household, and for many years we went to baptist churches regularly. In high school I began to question my faith, and took a hard turn against religion. I declared myself an atheist, and in line with the cynicism I felt at the time, I believed that there was nothing out there. I held onto that identity for several years, and coupled it with my anger toward the organized religious systems that cause so much harm in our world.

The confidence that I had in atheism did not last long though. I’m not sure if I ever truly believed that either, or if it was more of a convenient label for what I was feeling and experiencing at the time. My thoughts on the subject began to unravel as I considered more and more how I really felt: that the world is sacred, the universe is vast and full of mystery, and there are some things that are just unexplainable. I don’t believe that any religion has it right, but that doesn’t mean that it is wrong to practice faith. As long as your faith is not harming others. (That topic is far too large to get into today but I want that piece to be clear. In respecting others’ beliefs, we cannot ignore the injustices done in the name of religion).

In recent years I have felt a craving, a curiosity about spiritual practice. I often find myself in nature feeling absolute reverence for the beauty and the strangeness around us. I’ve seen friends share their witch practices or astrology or meditation or tarot, and wondered about incorporating something into my own life. I’m not sure what I believe to be true about communing with spirits or predicting the future, but I don’t think that really matters. What I do know is that taking time for introspection and reflecting on where you’re at and where you want to be is important. I know that for me, consciously setting intentions helps me live in line with my values. I know that in this busy digital world, most of us could do well to set aside quiet time to be still and practice gratitude for the natural world around us and our delicate place within it.

I am very grateful that I found myself at that new moon dinner, and for the wonderful friends who made a welcoming space for the evening. It reignited my curiosity, and encouraged healthy reflection during an important transition period in my life. I look forward to continuing to explore these topics and experiment with what I want a spiritual practice to look like in my own life. I’ve got a few ideas already and I’m excited to see what comes from this renewed energy.

All things with love,


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