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Tracing the origins of full moon rituals

Now more than ever I have noticed a lot of full moon ritual guides floating around on instagram, which is awesome. I have however observed that there is a lack of information on how to accurately store moon water so that it does not become mouldy. Additionally there aren’t many posts explaining the origins of these rituals and other basics therefore I will dive into these areas.

Full moon rituals have been practiced long before colonial times among various cultures, due to the moon representing a new phase of life. For example the full moon is commonly associated with the phase of letting go of everything in your life that no longer serves you. Wilkinson (2003) explores how Ancient Egyptians believed that the moon phases determined what kind of deities could be manifested in ‘The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt’. In Hinduism the full moon celebration day is called ‘Purnima’ and it is a day to express gratitude for the happiness and prosperity that is to come. Pagans also celebrate full moon rituals as they believe that it is a great time to let go of everything that they have outgrown mentally, physically and emotionally. 

The new moon however is renowned for manifesting and setting new intentions. These beliefs were most commonly practiced in ancient Egypt, Mexico, Babylonia, India and China. These regions believed that lunar cycles impacted “menstrual cycles, sleep patterns, mental health, physical health, the growth of plants, the behaviour of animals and the tides” as highlighted by Deibe (2020). 

According to Rosen (2000) over the last 25 years “a set of striking new Jewish rituals have developed” all of which revolve around women-centred celebrations of the moon. They highlight that European, Israelian and Jewish women have “sought to symbolically link themselves to the cycles of the moon”. For example each new moon is considered to be a woman’s holiday, referred to as “Rosh Chodesh”. These new practices derive from a “recasting of traditional myths about the moon found in the Bible, the Talmud and other forms of traditional Jewish religious literature to reinforce a special connection between contemporary women and the moon.” Rosen continues on to emphasise that the new moon ceremony for women is “said to be the first commandment given by God to the Jewish nation prior to the exodus from Egypt (Scherman 1993:348).” 

Shamans also use the energy of the full moon to “move beyond ordinary thinking into unseen realms to receive guidance on how to restore harmonious energies from the natural world, helping spirits and their own inner wisdom” as brought to light by Ingerman and Berkeley in ‘Full Moon Rising’ (2018). 

Author Lulu Garcia-Navarro who wrote the book ‘The Moon Within’ stated in an interview with Aida Salazar (2019) that Mexican women used to take part in moon ceremonies right after their first menstruation cycle. She continues on to add that in 1440, prior to the European colonisation of Mexico a poem was made about this moon ceremony tradition and this is what inspired her to write her book, so that young women can practice empowering traditions that connect them to their roots whilst harnessing the power of the full moon. In biblical times this practice was referred to as a “red tent ceremony” and Anita Diamant wrote a book exploring this in further depth if you are interested in finding out more.

The Northern College Indigenous Council on Education (2020) states that Indigenous individuals also believed that there was a strong correlation between a woman’s menstrual cycle and the full moon. They believe that the full moon is the best time to recharge, seek guidance through meditation, manifest dreams, release old energy and ask for blessings. It is clear that there are many other cultures too who place high importance on new moon and full moon practices and despite the differences in customs, traditions or beliefs all of them put a lot of effort into harnessing the energy of the moon.

 Women in Indigenous cultures were known to perform full moon rituals by drumming and singing while placing tobacco in the fire and asking for cleansing of the Earth. In some regions individuals brought offerings of water for the full moon and after the ceremony they would bottle it and then use it for medicinal purposes during the month. This is known as ‘moon water’. They too believed that there was a strong correlation between lunar cycles and women’s menstrual cycles. 

Many people today still use moon water however not all know how to store it safely. First and foremost the most important thing to remember is that drink bottles can grow mould within as little as 48 hours especially in hot climates. This is due to “the backwash from your cheeks and from sinus cavities”, which will “provide an ample amount of food for bacteria and fungi to grow” states Jason Tetro, renowned germ specialist. This is why it’s important to wash the inside of your drink bottle prior to storing moon water in it. Jason recommends doing this with a regular brush and soapy hot water. 

Then he suggests filling the drink bottle with boiling water and letting it sit for a while. Additionally he states that you can also add vinegar if you would like as the acid will aid in killing the bacteria. After this is done it is best to fill your drink bottle with filtered water so that it can stay fresher for longer. This is only important if you plan on drinking the moon water, if you plan on using it in say a spray to cleanse your crystals or space then it doesn’t matter whether the water is filtered or not. There are some people who like to add vodka to their moon water to preserve it and there are others who use boiled tap water in their bottle so the choice is yours. It depends entirely on your purpose behind the water too.

Once you have collected your water you are able to use it for whatever you desire whether it be cleansing, meditation, manifestation, gardening, painting, cleaning, baths and more. I prefer to store my moon water in a glass decanter as opposed to a plastic bottle (due to the BPA and other toxins). 

Please note, you should never drink water that has been placed in a bottle without a lid due to the high amount of bacteria that it will have nor should you consume rainwater (for the same reason). Additionally if you are planning on putting herbs or crystals in your moon water you should always check to ensure that they are both safe to be in water as there are certain crystals that are fine within their natural form however become extremely toxic when placed in water. To find out which crystals are safe within water check out my “healing crystals” post. 

Ancient societies in general placed a high value upon ritualistic practices to create meaning behind their actions, so it comes as no surprise to me that many people today still practice ancient rituals. A book called ‘

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