“There was just one moon. That familiar, yellow, solitary moon. The same moon that silently floated over fields of pampas grass, the moon that rose—a gleaming, round saucer—over the calm surface of lakes, that tranquilly beamed down on the rooftops of fast-asleep houses. The same moon that brought the high tide to shore, that softly shone on the fur of animals and enveloped and protected travelers at night. The moon that, as a crescent, shaved slivers from the soul—or, as a new moon, silently bathed the earth in its own loneliness. THAT moon.”
MOONLIGHT, IN THE scientific definition, is the light that reaches us here on Earth from the moon, composed of mostly sunlight with some earthlight and starlight, reflected off of the moon’s surface. Since its birth from its mama (our very own Earth) approximately (and debatably) 4.5 billion years ago, the moon and its light have fascinated, guided, and inspired every civilization on our precious blue planet. From folklore and science to art, literature, and language, the moon and its influence are undeniable and have left a permanent mark on the history of humankind. It has also made our closest celestial neighbor a continuous, beaming inspiration across human cultures, spiritual practices, traditions, and more.
For the indigenous Taíno people of my ancestral homeland of Kiskeya (presently the Dominican Republic and Haiti), the moon was said to rise from the cave Mautiatbuel at dusk and return at sunrise. It was, and remains, the illuminating equal and pair to the sun in our cosmos, a light that reflects the luminance that is already nascent inside of us.
This ritual offering for harnessing moonlight brings us into closer proximity with the light within. You can perform this ritual during any phase of the moon, at times when you are needing to invite more radiance and glow into your heart, mind, body, and spirit. However, the ritual is ideally performed when the moon is at its highest illumination, also known as the full moon phase. Depending on the clarity of the night sky, the moon may not be visible during the full moon. I ask that you do not let this deter you from your ritual practice. The light of the moon is always present, even when not visible to the human eyes. The energy and light of the full moon are also available to us in the three days leading up to the full moon and in the three days after.
Harnessing Moonlight Ritual
I welcome you to take what serves you and to also add your own unique and personal modifications over time.
If you are able to perform this ritual outdoors in the open air, under the light of the moon, I encourage you to do so. If you do not have access to an outdoor space or are unable to perform this ritual outdoors, a spot inside of your home or space, nearest to a window will be just as suitable.
Making Lemon Balm Tea
Brew some lemon balm tea to drink throughout the ritual. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a medicinal plant in the mint (Lamiaceae) family with several herbal actions, including those of a nervine. Nervines, such as lemon balm, support and nourish the body’s central nervous system, providing relief from nervous exhaustion, tension, and restlessness. Spiritually, lemon balm also holds the wisdom of the moon, and even more specifically, evokes the visual of the full moon suspended over the ocean. It is my favorite plant to work with when the moon is in its full moon phase and also my daughter’s namesake: Luna Kai translated as Moon Ocean.
To make the tea, pour eight ounces (8 oz) of boiling hot water over one tablespoon of dried lemon balm or two tablespoons of fresh lemon balm. (Organic and/or ethically harvested or sourced lemon balm is best, whenever possible.) Cover the cup and let the herbs steep for about 5-7 minutes. Strain and sweeten to your liking. You will sip on this tea throughout the ritual, as desired.
Preparing Your Workspace or Altar
Fill a glass vessel with drinking water. A vessel can be a mason jar, a drinking glass, or a repurposed honey/sauce jar from which you are comfortable drinking. Ensure you are able to see through the glass. (For anyone who is blind or partially sighted, it is not necessary for you to view inside of the glass, but instead for the water to be contained in a transparent glass, where light can move through the water molecules freely and with no obstructions.)
Surround your workspace or altar with tools that bring forth and carry lunar energy. This can include moon crystals such as moonstone, opal, or selenite; a Goddess of the Moon statuette or a moon figure from your own culture; an image of the moon or the moon tarot card; or any other personal item that evokes the spirit and energy of the moon for you. For example, for me, this is a statue of Diosa Luna from the Dominican Republic.
Wear white clothing, if possible. The color white reflects light in the same way that the moon reflects the light of the sun. It allows us to absorb only what we choose and refract all the rest.
Anoint yourself with an oil of your choice, rubbing a few drops onto each wrist, then pressing your anointed wrists gently onto your third eye, and finally onto the back of your neck.
This anointing oil can be any oil that is grounding and calming for you and offers you peace. This should not be a pure essential oil, as essential oils are very strong and must be safely diluted before using directly on the skin. Instead, if you are using essential oils, they should be infused in a carrier oil such as olive, sunflower, or jojoba oil, as long as these oils do not irritate your skin.
Light a white candle. Place the lit candle near your water glass, at least 6” away so that the heat does not shatter the glass. Allow the light from the candle to bounce off of the water glass, mirroring the way the sun’s light reflects off the surface of the moon. The glass is the moon. The flame is the sun. Watch the flame dance against the glass and give thanks. Reflect on your full moon harvest and all that you have brought forward during this particular moon cycle. All that is in motion, and not yet complete, will carry over into the next moon phase.
Read the following moonlight meditation aloud, or record your voice while reading this meditation aloud. With a recording, you will be able to play it aloud for yourself anytime you’re doing this particular moonlight ritual. Accompanying background sounds for this meditation might also include ocean waves or gentle rainfall, as the moon is also ruled by the element of water.
Full Moon, Luna Llena Meditation
Sit or lie in a comfortable position with the palms of your hands facing up in a gesture to receive. If you feel comfortable, close your eyes. Bring your awareness to your breath and take a deep inhale in through your nose and an extended exhale out through your mouth. Do this four more times (for a total of five deep breaths) before returning to your normal breath and breathing. Focus on your breath and breathing. Tune in to the sounds around you. Notice them and allow them to be. It is now time to travel.
It is a dark night, and you are feeling safe and protected as you begin your journey towards the beach. As you begin your journey in the darkness of the night, your path becomes illuminated, and the floor beneath you begins to shine with a silvery glow, leading you down a winding path, the ground beneath your feet slowly turning from moist, dewy grass to warm sand.
With every intentional step on your illuminated path, you become lighter. You are letting go of all that no longer serves you. You are releasing old beliefs, habits, people, things, myths, narratives, that have been weighing you down.
You arrive at the beach and now see that your path is illuminated by the fullness of the moon. You continue to follow the beacon of light in the night sky, leading you closer and closer, with each step, towards the sounds of the ocean waves crashing against the shore. Imagine that this glowing path of silver light was put before you to illuminate all that you have been hiding, perhaps from others, but even from yourself. Tonight, the mystery, the secrets, the things hiding in your personal cave are brought to life. As you walk, with each step you take, you feel yourself shed a layer, like clothing. With every intentional step on your illuminated path, you become lighter. You are letting go of all that no longer serves you. You are releasing old beliefs, habits, people, things, myths, narratives, that have been weighing you down. Every step offers you levity, peace, and clarity. With every step you take on your path, you and the light begin to merge until you, too, are glowing while walking on the illuminated path.
You hold up your arms to receive the moonlight, and as you do, you see the goddess of the moon float down towards you from the moon’s surface on the beam of light.
What becomes illuminated is what we can see clearly. Now, you find yourself standing naked at the shore of the ocean, the waves crashing at your feet, cleansing your toes with saltwater, your feet sinking gently into the sand beneath you. As you look onto the horizon, you see the full, round, bountiful moon breaking through from behind the clouds, shining a beam of light onto the ocean’s surface. You hold up your arms to receive the moonlight, and as you do, you see the goddess of the moon float down towards you from the moon’s surface on the beam of light. When the moon goddess reaches you, she offers you a message and a basket, containing three gifts that represent your full moon harvest. You accept these gifts and thank her, as she floats back onto the beam of light and up onto the moon’s surface. You take one final look at the full moon, reflecting on its gifts, and walk back on your illuminated path, through the warm sand, up through the winding path of dewy grass, and back to your starting point.
Bring your awareness back to your breath and take a deep inhale in through your nose and an extended exhale out through your mouth. Do this four more times (for a total of five deep breaths) before returning to your normal breath and breathing. Focus on your breath and breathing. Tune in to the sounds around you. Notice them and allow them to be. It is now time to return. Open your eyes, slowly and gently.
ONCE YOU ARE back from your meditative state, take your water glass and speak one to three (no more than three) full moon intentions into your drinking glass. Make sure your breath hits the water when you speak, causing ripples on the top layer of the water. Once your intentions have been spoken, drink from your water glass, and continue drinking throughout the full moon until your glass is empty. You can consume it in one sitting or over time, for up to three days.
Take a few minutes to write and reflect on the gifts that the moon goddess offered you during your meditation. Consider what layers you shed on your journey to the moonlight, what you received or harvested, and what is left to bring forward into the next moon cycle. If this is the start of your moon journal, be sure to return to it during each full moon ritual to take note of the richness of your journey.
May we find the blessings and opportunities for transformation as we work together with the magic of the moon, and may we always know that the light lives within us.
SUHALY BAUTISTA-CAROLINA, aka Moon Mother, is an AfroDominican herbalist, artist, educator, and community organizer whose work lives intentionally at the intersection of plant power and people power. In 2018, Suhaly founded Moon Mother Apothecary, a practice, portal, and offering of heart-centered, moon-powered medicines created in the traditional wisdom and knowledge of her ancestors. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, Bustle, and Nylon Magazine, among others.
Ofrenda Magazine™ is a publication exploring Xicanx and Latinx spirituality, earth-centered wisdom traditions, and healing arts. Our mission is to inspire holistic wellness, ancestral connection, social and ecological justice, and spiritual creativity.