The Work of Love
Barn’s burnt down —
I can see the moon.
– Mizuta Masahide
Our first Full Moon arrives in a wonderfully divinely-timed fashion: on the very first day of the New Year, this bright new year of 2018, and on a Monday, ruled by the Moon herself! (In many countries, this moon arrives on the 2nd January. Find your exact time here.)
This Moon is also a Super Moon: the Moon is closer to us, and so appears much brighter than usual. This January Moon is also called the Old Moon, the Cold Moon, the Cooking Moon, the Snowdrop Moon, and the Pine Moon, depending on who you are asking. This Full Moon is in Cancer, and the Sun is in Capricorn.
This Full Moon is also opportune as it is the first Full Moon of two in this month – the second being a Full Blue Moon Lunar Eclipse! To make these first few months even more exciting, this is the first of four Full Moons in the next three months, as we have two Full Moons in March as well. This is also a gentle warning: emotions and illuminations alike will be coming up in a crescendo for the first part of the year. If we’ve been doing our internal work, there may be the possibility for swift changes in our lives. If we haven’t been as conscious, the next three months may be rocky. Let’s all use this beautiful, reflective energy for our own highest self’s power and benefit.
Full Moons are favorable for deep, transformative, huge magic.
There is really no wrong kind of spell to do here. Abundance work, protection work, ancestor work, love spells: anything is fair game here, especially our most dear desires. The Full Moon is the top of a wave. Momentum and energy have been building, and a few days after, the energy begins to subside. We can either work with the complete, ripe, whole energy, which is what I almost always do. Or, we can focus on release work: the Moon will take away our sadness and fears as she begins losing light and turning inward in three or four days.
The Full Moon can be a time of illumination. Sometimes plot lines are finally revealed. Messages and truths, sometimes gaining clarity on long-buried matters, come up, up, up. This gives us an opportunity to make peace and move on. Sometimes it is our inner truths that are revealed to us and us alone. We can pray to the Moon for more messages.
Our emotions may be quite close to the surface at this time, and we can use them as raw energy as well as a compass pointing us to more profound pieces of information about our lives. This is a time of downloads, of access to loads of information that comes from ourselves, our guides, the animal companions around us, or other spirits. We may feel wired—the excitement of the New Year might also be adding to this particular Full Moon. The key to successful Moon work is to Do What Feels Good and Right for You. No judgement, no shoulds. So if you feel like gathering with friends, do it! If you feel like eating up all your holiday leftovers and cozying into your covers, do it! If you feel like creating a megaspell and ritual that lasts for 6 hours and includes multiple ingredients, go for it!
At the very least, have a moment to count all that you currently have, and all that you currently are: the Moon is a mirror holding our reflection up to us, high over our heads. She wants us to see and accept ourselves exactly as we are, whether our glow is bright or momentarily obstructed.
Full Moons are a great time to practice embodiment, and to draw the energy and power of Mother Moon, Sister Moon, Sibling Moon, Grandmother Moon into your body. Witches call this “drawing down the Moon.” The Moon is made of slightly magnetic matter and controls our tides, the gravity of all the water on our planet, including the H2O in our soil, and possibly, maybe, even the water that resides in us. Why wouldn’t you want to use that energy to aid you in your magic? If you are doing manifestation and spell work, timing-wise, you may see results as early as the next Full Moon, and up to six months from now, in June.
The Moon is a story about time.
A haiku of our reflections, allegories of our perceptions, repositories as to how they undulate and shift. In Moon Time, we bow to ourselves, to our true nature. We bow to the nature that we are a part of. Moon Time is timeless, and so are the different ways we experience our selves as her, within her, her within us. We revel in the stark branches of the trees laid flat against the grey sky. They still stay barren with such grace. The nights are freezing, bitter cold stinging against our skin as we strain to see the Moon through the wintertime clouds. Yet we get to see the gift of our own breath, our own pure air, unraveling and etheric— the sparkling traces of our own precious life.
When the Moon is Full, the Earth is right in between the Sun and the Moon. This is always the time they are in direct opposition to one another. The Sun controls our life, our energy, our sight. The Moon affects the tides, our water. Hard to say which one is chasing the other? It’s a reminder of dark and light coexisting all at the same time. A tangible way for us to be reminded that we are always afforded access to the various parts of our psyche, our matter, our energy, our power.
In the Tarot, the Moon card comes first.
Before widened consciousness comes subconscious exploration and experience. Traditionally, the Moon card carries fear and anxiety around it—but that is probably because traditionally, the people who invented the Tarot were men, and traditionally, men were afraid around women. Let us not forget that the Moon was a primary symbol of the Great Goddess. And so our society developed selenophobia, and set up structures and systems to keep this terror at bay. Lunacy. Mania. Both of these terms stem from words that mean “Moon.” Over thousands of years, the women who developed their power by working with the Moon—those who harvested plants and made medicines with it, those who timed their periods with it, and those who worked magic with it—were systematically wiped out. We are currently in a wave of remembering and reconnecting. We can create new definitions for the new world we are creating.
For me, when the Moon card comes up, it can offer us a message about deep inner change. It’s about reckoning with the most potent reality: the one that exists in your mind and in the emotional cells of your body. A card that tells you it is now the moment to plunge into your own water. It is a card around our natural cycles, about trusting the timing, and trusting one’s intuition. The Moon card is also a card about the beauty and enlightenment that occurs when we make our old subconscious patterns evident to shed them. It is a card about hurtling headfirst into the blue, into the mysteries of one’s self. A deep sea diver in the middle of the night finding the haul she held her breath for so long was filled with pearls. She counts them after coming up for air through the tops of obsidian waves.
In the Tarot, the court cards that correspond to Cancer, the sign the Moon is in, and Capricorn, the sign the Sun is in, are the Queen of Cups and the Queen of Pentacles. We can look to these Queens for important guidance in fostering an interdependent relationship with our visioning, our desires, and goals and ambitions. Both of these Queens correlate with Yin, or receptive energy. Both of these Queens are deeply in tune with their natural state and their commitment to their purpose.
Often with manifestation work and goal setting, we neglect to have an interdependent attitude. In general, in current mainstream culture we are taught to have a “subject/object” view of everything around us. This means we look to things and other people for what they can give us: status, security, attention, opportunities. We seek only to benefit from external stimuli outside of ourselves. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, yet when it is at an extreme—and it is frequently at an extreme in our culture—we are in dangerous territory. We are in a hit and run mentality. We neglect to see how we affect others, how we can hurt or help environments, other people, and communities. This extends to natural resources and our planet. We have seen where the accumulation of short-term greed has gotten us, collectively.
When there is a balance, we are manifesting interdependently. Before we set intentions and goals there is a period of examination. We can tune in and ask our desires what they need from us. What sacrifices will be involved, what are the best choices to make for our hearts. Where is the change a knee jerk reaction, and how is it a careful shift in the direction of our intuition? We make offerings and enter into agreements with our future selves. We ask ourselves how much of our goals are ego and how much is the fulfillment of our unique gift. We listen to our dreams. They tell us what they need. At this time, you could ask your dreams and desires: Are there many different ways you could experience that desire? How does that desire wish to be made manifest? Are there sacrifices or actions that must be made?
Both the Queen of Cups and the Queen of Pentacles are at one with their environments. They’ve done the work of love to figure out just what they need. Their energy is not wasted chasing dreams that aren’t theirs. They receive as much as they give. When we act like these Queens, we can go deeper into our desires. We can obtain more meaningful results. We can take a moment to be in dialogue with what we are desiring. We ask of it: What do you need from me? How do you need me to honor you?
Not only does that give us the option of receiving more information to aid us with our work, it creates a strong relationship with our dreams. The tether is made of sturdy silk, a magnetic lasso keeping us accountable. Our desires become a tangible entity, traceable touchstones.
At this Full Moon, at the start of this New Year, be open to change. When we don’t change, we become stagnant. When we don’t allow others around us to change, we become toxic. Change the ways in which you’ve been holding on to fears that have been hiding in that shoebox in the corner of your spare closet for far too long. Shine a flashlight on it and see that by now, it’s just turned to dust. You can blow it away and sneeze it out. It doesn’t have to exist in the same way it did before. Turn the knob up on the dial of your own love. Map out new ways of widening out your love, so that it sits sturdy at the base of your throne. We can change, just as we’ve seen the way we interact with the Moon change. It wasn’t so long ago it was a harbinger of hysteria and terror: another way for men to dehumanize and control women. Now we are beginning to bask in her luminescence with more compassion and wonder. Now we see her more clearly, as we experience her in all her complexities.
You are a dream, Queen. May you embody yourself more fully this year than ever before. May the love you give yourself this year surpass all other love you’ve ever been seeking. May you birth everything you must in the form it is ready to be in. May the stars high above your head be a reminder to yourself that no matter what, your power resides inside of you. As natural as diving into your own ocean. As natural as Moon time.
What do I wish to focus on changing during this next Lunar cycle?
This next season?
How do I want to focus on the work of love?
What will that look like?
“As my self-love grows, so does my intuition. The work of love brings me priceless gifts.”
Full Moon Tarot Spread & Pull
This suggested Tarot spread uses the archetypes of the cards discussed above: the Moon Card, the Queen of Pentacles, and the Queen of Cups.
Get comfortable and cozy. You may wish to do this on or by your altar, and light incense and a candle beforehand.
Take out the Moon card, and put it in the center.
Take out the Queen of Cups card, and put it slightly below and to the left of the Moon card.
Take out the Queen of Pentacles card, and put it slightly below and to the right of the Moon card.
Shuffle the cards and breathe deeply into yourself.
Ask: What is this Full Moon bringing to me that I can work with; what are the gifts?
Pull a card and place it below the Moon card.
Shuffle the cards again and ask: What does my heart need, what does it wish to tell me?
Pull another card and it place below the Queen of Cups.
Shuffle the cards again and ask: What do my desires wish to tell me about the work involved?
Pull another card and place it below the Queen of Pentacles.
Shuffle the cards again and ask: What must I release in the next few weeks in order to gain more intimacy with my goals?
Place this card at the bottom center of the spread.
Take time to notice any symbols that pop out at you, and any cards that create a reaction from you. Pay attention to any patterns: numbers, suits.
Happy Full Moon!
— Excerpt from Many Moons, 2018, Vol 1.
Sarah Faith Gottesdiener is a designer, art director, artist and intuitive living in Los Angeles.
She got her undergraduate from Smith College and her MFA in Design from CalArts. She has worked for brands like Sephora, Nickelodeon, Ace Hotel, Wieden + Kennedy, and Nike.
Sarah’s teaching experience includes art, design, visual literacy, and more at Otis College, Scripps College, and (FIDM). Her Many Moons workbooks share insights in how to work with the main phases of the Moon. She teaches tarot and moon beaming workshops at various spaces, and gives intuitive Tarot readings to interested parties.