It’s a new moon today. For those of us who tend toward the more “woo” end of the spiritual spectrum, new moons are often seen as a good time to set intentions for the next month (until the next new moon).

Now, I’ll be honest: while I’ve been aware of this practice for a while, I haven’t really participated. I think I’ve generally felt about new moon intentions like I feel about New Year’s resolutions, which is to say they seem like a lovely idea, but I don’t like setting myself up for failure. However, about a month ago, when the last new moon happened, I was invited to join some folks for tea and intention-setting, and I decided to go. I’d been feeling rather fragmented, and while I wasn’t sure how I felt about my chances of seeing an intention through to fruition, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.

And you know what? It was a lovely evening, and I set my intention (to be fully present in myself), and went home and did a little new moon tarot spread, and I felt a little more at peace. And as the month went on, I found myself coming back to that intention, using it as motivation. And yesterday, as I looked back on the month, I realized that yes, I had made substantial progress in feeling more at home in my skin. And that had more to do with choices I made and actions I took than anything. However, I do think that if I hadn’t taken the time out to think about what I wanted to accomplish, I probably wouldn’t have done as well.

So for now, I think I’m going to keep up this practice of setting myself a bigger-picture goal each month. Because I think that’s really the takeaway here: it’s easy for me to just sit back passively and let life happen. There was a long time when I was dealing with some pretty substantial mental health stuff, and thinking beyond the next week (or day, or hour) was more than I could handle. I got out of the habit of planning long-term. A lunar cycle might not be particularly long-term, but it’s a bigger chunk of time than I’ve been working with in a long time, so it seems like a good place to start.

Old Words, New Thoughts

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. Four years ago, I went to an Ash Wednesday service at the church I was attending in Minnesota, and it sparked some interesting thoughts, which I wrote about at my old blog, here. Looking back, I think that service and the thoughts that followed marked a pretty major turning point in my spiritual journey. It was the moment when I realized that I no longer needed to believe in a higher power for my life to feel like it had meaning, that I was far more concerned with living my life well and leaving the world a little better for my presence than I was about any sort of afterlife.

Remember that dust you are, and to dust you will return. I sort of feel, as I ponder these words while finding myself called to a more earth-centered spiritual path, like I’m coming full-circle, returning to familiar words and rituals with new eyes. We are born of the earth, we return to the earth…we should treat the earth well during the time in between. And beyond that, the idea that we’re all made of the same stuff. Yesterday, I registered for the correspondence course from The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids in an effort to lend more structure to my exploration of earth-centered spirituality. I have found lately that while I have no interest in returning to organized religion, I’ve been missing spiritual practice. I’ve slowly been trying to integrate some spiritual practice back into my life, but I tend to do better with things like that when I have some sort of externally-imposed structure. This course feels like it strikes the right balance: structure, but no dogma.

I’m excited to see where this year takes me. It’s a fight, sometimes, to remain present in the present moment and not to obsess over the future, but I think if I can do it, there will be a lot to learn along the way.