Secret #3: Honor the four turnings.
Working in a corporate setting for many years, I would move through my weeks like a hamster on a treadmill: Mondays through Fridays were pledged to my boss, Saturdays were given to errands, perhaps a little pleasure in the evening, while Sundays were for cleaning house and washing clothes. Then it was back to work on Monday, when the grind started all over again. This rhythm was functional, but immensely dissatisfying. Thank goodness that moon work saved me by reorienting me to an ancient (and ultimately more satisfying) sense of time.
Our treadmill weeks were initially a sacred gift from the Moon. The Moon’s cycle is divided into four quarters, with each lasting approximately seven days. The lunar weeks are marked by four pivots: the New Moon, the First Quarter, the Full Moon, and the Last Quarter. These turnings, our first “Sabbaths,” signaled a time for rest, renewal, and reorientation. When our calendars veered away from the natural lunar rhythm, these precious Moon days became “Sundays” (often a day for worshipping the patriarchal gods), and we lost the special quality of each lunar week.
To reclaim these weeks is a radical and rewarding practice. And not all that difficult. All you need is a calendar that still marks these lunar Sabbaths with the four phases of the Moon—and a personal way to honor the different quality of each lunar week. Your Sabbath rituals can be quite simple: find ten minutes of alone time, breathe deeply, relax and contemplate the proper aspiration for the time. On the New Moon, invite spontaneity, adventure, and an exciting new view of yourself. At the First Quarter Moon, observe what in your life is challenging you to take new action. Wonder what brave thing your warrior self will do in the coming week. On the Full Moon, open the gates of your mind to illumination. Be on the lookout for significant new understandings in the coming week. At the Last Quarter Moon, aspire to trim and weed yourself of old growth, both inner and outer. Be alert for intimations of the future.
To strengthen your rituals, schedule supportive activities during the following lunar week. I like to take at least one brief “walkabout” during the week of the New Moon. I set out by car or by foot with no other intent than to see what will happen. During the First Quarter Moon week I do at least one thing that scares me. And I make sure to congratulate myself on my courage. I have at least one contemplative sit at moonrise during the week of the Full Moon. In the Last Quarter week I throw away something I no longer need. I do restorative yoga postures too. You can borrow any of my weekly rituals; even better, come up with your own (and share them with us on the Talking Circle!).