Release & Relinquish: Rituals for the Dark Moon

The dark moon phase occurs in the days just prior to the new moon. This is the time when the waning crescent moon rises after midnight and shrinks daily until there is nothing left but a sliver of light around a dark-faced moon. Ritually this is a time for letting go. A time for releasing attachment and relinquishing control. Because of this, it is the perfect time for stepping back from the pressure of goals and deadlines so that we may cultivate a deeper sense of listening, without expectation. This is a practice that can be done on our yoga mats or meditation cushions, through journal work or through simple ritual and divination practices. It does not require us to take the whole day off or be negligent about our responsibilities, all it requires is creating a small amount silent space within our day, a brief moment or two where we can let our breath out and allow ourselves to simply be.
My favourite ritual practices for this phase of the moon are-

  • ritual baths taken in silence
  • restorative yoga practice
  • yoga nidra practice
  • meditation
  • tarot & journal work
  • long walks
  • altar creation

In this post, I will share with you a recipe for ritual bath salts to support purification,  a tarot spread and some inquiry questions along with some suggestions for a dark moon altar.

Dark Moon Bath Salts

These dark moon baths salts are made with dried herbs and essential oils known for their magical powers of purification and protection, perfect for the dark moon. The addition of black lava salt, which gets its colour from activated charcoal will add extra drawing power to the blend and darken your bath water beautifully!

  • 2 cups Epsom salts
  • ¾ cup black lava salt
  • 3 TBS dried rosemary leaves, crumbled
  • 3 TBS dried yarrow flowers, crumbled
  • 3-4 TBS dried or fresh cedar leaves finely chopped
  • 3 TBS sage or sagebrush leaves, crumbled
  • 40 drops black spruce essential oil
  • 40 drops mugwort essential oil
  • 32 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 32 angelica root essential oil

Crumble the herbs into the bath salts and stir well. Drop the essential oils in and stir well with a fork to break up any clumps. Store in a glass jar and use generously during the dark moon.

  • Substitutions: any evergreen you have in your area can be substituted for the fresh cedar, and cedarwood can be substituted for angelica root
  • Pro Tip: create a bath “tea bag” by putting your salts into an organza or muslin bag for the tub, this will keep the botanicals from clogging up your drain while still allowing the scent of them to steep in the warm water

Dark Moon Tarot Spread

Use this tarot spread as an opportunity to do some inner reflection and journal work. The key to tarot is to give yourself time and not try to rush the practice. Start with a few minutes of meditation or conscious relaxation before asking these questions while shuffling your deck. Lay your cards out and take your time reading each one in your own way. Write your insights down in your journal before closing your practice.

  • Position 1 Release: what is passing away at this time and how can I relax into or trust this process of release?
  • Position 2 Relinquish: what am I being asked to relinquish my hold or claim on? where in my life do I need to more actively practice letting go?
  • Position 3 Recieve: what is the core message for me at this time? what is the teaching I am being asked to receive?

Dark Moon Altar

Creating altars is so much fun and a really simple way to tune into the current moon phase. For the dark moon I always like to do a burning ritual of some kind and so often include my copper cauldron on my altar. Burning rituals are great for supporting practices of release and helping you to let go. My suggestions below are only that, suggestions, as always make your altar your own and let it express what feels true to you at this time.

  • symbols of the waning or dark moon
  • archetypes, deities or symbols of letting go or release ( I have chosen Dhumavati here)
  • symbols of death from the natural world (dried flowers, leaves, bones etc)
  • crystal & stones such as black tourmaline, smoky quartz, black moonstone, or clear quartz
  • symbols of anything you want to let go of or release
  • a heatproof vessel for rituals that include burning or the use of sacred smoke/smudging
  • beeswax or votive candles

I hope that you find these simple practices or rituals inspiring and they encourage you to take some time to tune into how you are feeling at this time of the dark moon.