The Pisces New Moon is the last moon of winter, and one that I call the Winter Wind Moon as the winds of winter still continue to blow even as the fire of Spring stirs below the surface of the snow. This Pisces New Moon of Feb 2017 also bring with it a solar eclipse, which from an astrological perspective tend to offer us a greater opportunity to experience a shift in awareness, astrologer and Tarot reader Tegan says of this moon that “the Pisces new moon proceeded by the solar eclipse is stimulating a re-birth in all of us. This movement stirs us from hibernation, arising to stretch oneself beyond logic (the mental realms) and dive into the path that is becoming revealed.”
Personally, this last New Moon of winter has always represented an opportunity to re-dedicate myself to my sadhana in preparation for the creative surge of Spring which is about to come. My personal practice provides the foundation of support and insight that allows me to offer my creativity forward in a way that feels both valuable and true, knowing this I savor these last still days of winter and enjoy the support they offer me in going inwards.
Yoga teacher and astrologer Lila Rasa Brown also reminds us that the Pisces New Moon falls in alignment with the Hindu festival of Maha Shivaratri or The Great Night of Shiva, an important festival for those on a spiritual path in this lifetime. Lila says that “palpable Piscean time that the meditating Shiva represents is an invitation to the realm that is beyond the rational mind and thoughts, as he rules the domain of imagination and intuition.” You can read Lila’s full article here to hear more about this New Moon and it’s resonance with Shiva.
I have always felt that this last New Moon cycle of winter has much to offer us in the way of inner vision and personal insight. It is akin to the pre-dawn period of the day, a time when we tend to dream our most vivid dreams and a gentle wind begins to stir, hearkening the rising of the sun. For this reason, I have often included dream recall as part of my February New Moon sadhana and love to pay attention to the symbolic language of my waking and dreaming life.
While both the New & Full Moons can be considered the high points of the lunar cycle, it is the New Moon that I have always found to be the most potent time in which to set intentions, tune into the subtle energy of the current season, and make intentional choices regarding my personal practice. Working with cycles of sadhana that run from one New Moon to the next allows me to continually refine and adjust my personal practice based on what is arising and what I feel wants my attention. This is why I offer my 30 Day Illumination program in alignment with a New Moon cycle, and now for the first time I will take a group of women around the full wheel of the year with my Thirteen Moons Sadhana Circle which begins with the Aries New Moon of March 27th. With this post I will share with you a bit of my personal sadhana focus for the Winter Wind Moon cycle.
My Personal Winter Wind Moon Sadhana: Feb 26th – March 27th 2017
Mantra & Meditation: while mantra and meditation are a daily practice for me, I often work with a different focus for each month. For this cycle I will work with 108 rounds of Japa Mantra prior to seated meditation and will use the bija mantra of Om Namah Shivaya, in honor of Lord Shiva and the great cycles of creation and transformation. To me this practice is a type of purification, ensuring that I am able to release all that is not necessary to the next cycle of creativity we are about to enter, and leave the winter season behind. I will then practice silent meditation for 9-23 minutes, working with the internal mantra I have been working with for many years now.
Pranayama: this is not necessarily a daily practice for me, especially when I am working with Japa Mantra, however I often include Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breath in my sadhana, especially when practicing in the afternoon, as a way of regulating the winds of Prana.
Asana: my daily asana practice is short and sweet, while I may indulge in longer practices more intermittently. For this lunar cycle I will focus on grounding standing poses and side stretches with an emphasis on rhythmic and steady Ujjayi breath. If I practice asana prior to morning meditation it is rarely more than 10 minutes long. I also like to practice a few seated poses prior to an afternoon meditation session – when I am able to fit it in- and for this month I will focus on longer held seated postures, again with an emphasis on deep breathing within the shapes.
Dream Recall & Symbology: I always have vivid and powerful dreams during this particular moon cycle of the year and so am more able to recall them, something I find harder to do during the deeper sleeps of the dark season. I like to keep a dream journal by my bed and try to jot down a few images, feelings, or messages offered up to me while I slept. It is a powerful practice and the more you do it the more you begin to know and understand your own inner symbolic language. I have always loved the power of symbolism and so also like to work with Tarot, not reading for others and not trying to see the future, but more as a tool for inspiration. I usually do a morning 3 card spread, in which I ask for three symbols to offer me wisdom for my day. On the day of the New Moon I do this spread to offer me insight on my focus for the month- this month my cards were The High Priestess, the Queen of Cups, and the Waxing Crescent (Pagan Otherworlds Tarot), which were incredibly fitting for this Pisces New Moon cycle which will take us over the threshold of the Spring Equinox.
Kitchen Sadhana: as we shift into the Kapha season of the year we become very susceptible to colds and flus once again, particularly boggy chest colds, and so at this time my hands are almost permanently stained purple from the endless batches of spicy elderberry syrup I am making. I make a strong decoction out of elderberries, ginger, orange peel, cloves, cinnamon and all spice and them mix it with a touch of raw honey and drink it almost daily, in larger amounts if I feel a cold coming on. So far I’ve been able to stay healthy all winter but as the wet months of early Spring come along I will need to remain vigilant. I also make large batches of herbal bitters with ingredients such as Grapefruit, Hibiscus, Orange Peel, Dandelion Root, Gentian Root and warming spices, these I take in water throughout the day to help cleanse my blood and reduce excess Kapha (congestion) as it arises. Food sadhana focuses on a continuation of warming winter stews and tagines, along with the addition of spring green salads when it feels warm enough.
Creativity: this is a rich time for sparking creativity and for myself that means I will be doing more freewriting practices this month. For those who like to paint and draw I think this practice would be amazing during this cycle, for myself though I am not a visual artist, I tend to work with words and handicrafts instead, so along with writing I’ll be reading stories aloud at bedtime, listening to more poetry, and finishing off my winter knitting projects.
Creating Your Own Moon Cycle Sadhana
Hopefully some of this has inspired thoughts of how you might structure your own sadhana for the next month. Some questions you can ask yourself are –
- what is arising at this time in my life?
- what is passing away and is ready to be released?
- what needs to be nourished/supported?
- what energies are at play in the natural world that I can tune into?
The key thing is to find practices that support you in tuning in to both the subtle currents of your own inner life as well as the larger rhythms of the natural world around you. Thirteen Moons Sadhana CircleIf you want to learn more about this please do join me for the Thirteen Moons Sadhana Circle for Women, starting in March 2017.