Secret #5: Know when to be a quitter.
Sometimes my workshop students tell me they’re disappointed in themselves. They haven’t kept up with their Moon work as much as they’d wanted to. The issue of “quitting” is rich and complicated and quite relevant to the moon’s teachings. While I love those students who are enthusiastic and earnest about their practice, I also love those who let it slide. For Moon work involves both: coming and going, focusing and falling away. The Sun is always the same, a bright orb, rising in the morning and setting at night. But the Moon changes… sleeping in, staying out all night, disappearing altogether. To practice Moon work with a steady discipline would be to approach it with a solar attitude. This will eventually burn you out. Moon work waxes and wanes just like the Moon. When you lose your connection to the moon, the moment you realize this is just a signal that you’re now ready to return—rather than an opportunity to beat yourself up.
That said, awareness is always better than going numb. Know when you’re deciding to fall away from the moon and why. I encourage my students to keep a record of these times. This is important information. If you skip out during the same Moon phase each cycle, likely there is something in the work of that phase which is challenging to you. The moon’s cycle is oriented towards growth. You can use its phases to support positive changes in your life. But if you habitually numb out during one of its phases, chances are your Moon work isn’t the only thing you’re letting slide. If you’re not creating the life you want, your Moon work can show where you’re missing opportunities for growth.
Quitting Bad Habits
Of course quitting isn’t always a bad thing. There are some things we’re dying to quit—like our crummy old habits. Moon work can be quite an ally in this endeavor. Traditional lunar wisdom says it’s easier to quit bad habits on a dark or “Balsamic” Moon (which occurs at the end of the cycle—in the three to four days before the New Moon). Try this and see for yourself. I’ve found that the Dark Moon can often be a sleepy time, when it’s hard to motivate myself to make bold new changes. Breaking free of bad habits may require an act of will that is better fueled by the New Moon. So if the “quit on a Dark Moon” principle doesn’t work for you, do the following during the Balsamic moon.
Mourn whatever habit or attachment you want to release. Jump into bed for at least one irrational nap and let all of your feelings come up. Consider how you love this habit. And why you hate it. Imagine life without it. Feel the fear. Imagine yourself beyond the fear, happy, strong and free. Wander through the dark forest of all your feelings, without repressing them or getting stuck. Once you’ve explored them all, conclude with a simple clearing ritual. Write what you want to release on a piece of paper and then tear or burn it up. Or empty an old drawer or clean a corner of your closet and throw away what you no longer need. The energy in this area will be sparkling. Breathe it in as an encouragement for the new you.
Significant changes are often better accomplished during the New Moon, Crescent or First Quarter phases. But you have to prepare yourself first. And that’s what the end of each cycle is for. As the moon wanes, awareness of what you no longer need waxes. You can see what’s standing in your way. You will probably have to slow down in order to receive this insight. The Dark Moon is like one of those mountain ramps for rescuing runaway trucks that have lost their brakes. Veer onto this Dark Moon ramp and let your careening momentum run itself out. After come to stillness, new visions will come. This is the blessing when you release your baggage. Use the cycle’s end to prepare your beginning. Commit to resting—and releasing something old—at the end of every Moon cycle. Do this for one year and I guarantee that your life will come closer to the one you’ve always dreamed about.