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It wasn’t until I was well into my 30’s that I really understood the cycles of the moon…

… which is a little scary considering I grew up in a place where I could actually see the night sky.

I loved learning the constellations’ shapes and stories but Mama Luna didn’t draw me much as a kid. I was much more taken with The Seven Sisters and Cassiopeia in her chair. The moon remained a mystery.

When I lived in Ireland, we gardened by the moon so I developed a new intimacy and understanding not only of how she moves through the night sky, but of how she pulls the tides and the ground water, affecting everything that grows.

For those who are as moon-less as I was, the cycle is pretty simple:

When the moon is New, she is dark. Over 14 days she grows, sliver by sliver, becoming Full. From Full she shrinks, a slice at a time, waning back to New. Her entire cycle is 28 days, a moon-th (you can blame Pope Gregory for our current calendar, with its months that have little to do with the cycle of the moon).

What I loved about living by the moon during my time in Ireland was that everything had proper timing: there were times for gardening and times for weeding, times to make herbal medicines, and times to rest. It was actually a relief to know that certain activities were out of sync with the current moon: you could leave those off your to-do list, guilt-free.

One of my favorite ways to work with the moon in my current and less rural life is to set intentions for the month at the new moon and, when the moon is full, to think about what needs to be released emotionally or physically so I can do that work as the moon wanes.

I think of it as an inhale and an exhale that happens each month.

I’ve been working this way for many years, but I am always game to change it up! Here’s the new image I’m working with this month as the moon wanes:

Picture the ocean. The tide is ebbing, pulling back toward the horizon. As the water recedes, it reveals shells and sea treasures, bits of ourselves that have been hidden under life’s waves.

The moon was full on Friday.

For the next 12 days–until the New Moon–let’s see what is revealed! Keep a journal and see if you can notice one new thing about yourself or your life each day.

And don’t forget to share in the comments below.