Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
New Year New You
It’s the New Year. Time for resolutions, fix yourself quick gimmicks, and all things fitness and health. “21 days to a new you! Click here to find out how.” “Beach body in just 5 easy minutes a day!” These are powerful marketing slogans aimed at helping us fix all of our problems because they tell us what we want to hear. Maximum self improvement will result in minimal amounts of work. Unfortunately, that is not the way it works. It is hard to break habits, establish new ones, and juggle everything else we already have going on.
Each new year we are encouraged to set resolutions. I have never, nor will I ever be a fan of New Year’s resolutions. There is nothing particularly special about 1/1. It’s just another day. It’s as good as any other to create change in your life. It just so happens that 1/1 is the first day of our solar calendar. For some people attempting change works for them. For others, like me, it just doesn’t. Viewing change as something to put on a checklist just doesn’t ring true. I get discouraged and lose motivation. Once I started manifesting change in a more cyclical nature things really started picking up for me. As you may have seen from the Living with the Seasons article, I am a fan of tuning in to what nature is calling us to do. This gives our intentions more energy, aligning our energy levels with what we have evolved with. Focusing on the seasons is one cycle you can attune to. Another cycle you can boost your energy with is lunar cycles. Let’s explore both.
How to Manifest Change, the Importance of Setting Intentions
Now that we know where we’re going, how do we get there?
Some of us are lucky enough to be in a place where we have one, maybe two things we want to work on. Many of us, however, have multiple things we want to improve on. It’s easy to get excited about the New Year and take on all of our goals all at once. This usually leads us to biting off more than we can chew, resulting in failure, leading to future discouragement. I’m going to pick three large goals I want to achieve this year, and focus on those. You can always add in smaller goals throughout the year, but 2-3 large goals is about all I can handle during a year, and there’s nothing wrong with that. To make 2-3 large goals doable I’m not even going to start them all at the top of the year. I’m just going to focus on one at a time. Prioritize those bad boys. Pick which goal you want to focus on first. When you work on manifesting is just as important as how you manifest them.
This is where playing off of nature comes into play. There are a few options, depending on the time frame you are looking at to choose from and what you want to achieve.
Working with the Sun- Annual Cycles
Each trip we take around the Sun is a year in our solar based calendar. The cute little tilt we have is what causes our seasons. We have two equinoxes and two solstices. For a more in depth look check out this article.
The two equinoxes mark the times when the sun passes directly above the equator. This is our spring and fall seasons. The two solstices fall on either extreme. The summer solstice is the longest day we experience, while the winter solstice is the longest night. The Neo-Pagan calendar has added abbats in the middle of each of these astrological events creating, in total eight sabbats. You can use these to set your annual goal markers.
Let’s use a SMART fitness goal as an example in illustrating the energies in the solar calendar sabbats:
Intention is I want to boost both my confidence and health.
To lose twenty pounds in one year, I will focus on strength exercises to boost my resting metabolism. I will do strength workouts twice per week, cardio (one being HIIT) twice a week, and stretch once a week. I will also reduce my sugar sugar and increase protein and fiber intake.
Yule- December 21- Winter Solstice - New beginnings
This is the time you reflect on what you want, set your goals, and define your intentions. The winter solstice is when you lay out everything you want for the coming year. Put those goal markers on your calendar. Really think and reflect on what you want your year to be. This is also the time to have a soft opening to your goal, if you will. Do some trial and error on your plan to test its true achievability.
In our fitness example, this is where you map out what you are going to do. Look up recipes and do your research to understand your dietary goals. Look up gyms to join, equipment to purchase, or apps to use to help you work out and eat well. Try out a workout or two along with some recipes to double check your plan's sustainability.
Imbolc- February 1 Call to action
This is when your plan comes off the page and into reality. You take real, physical steps to manifest your goal. During January you could have put a piece or two of your plan into play, but now is the time to really put your tested plan into action. Don’t let go of all of the ease though. You don’t need to go from 0-100 in a day. This is the time to amp up.
In our example, working out six days a week is a lot. This is a good time to start with 3 workouts a week. You can also focus on just increasing fiber if the whole dietary plan is too much to take on at once.
Ostara- March 21, Spring Equinox
Now is the time to have your full plan blossom. Honestly, this is the time shit gets real. Your plan is going full swing, and some things are not working out according to plan. This is where our plan to change is stressed and the cracks begin to show. Don’t get discouraged, get creative. Change, any kind of change, is uncomfortable. Use the energy of Spring to find a renewal. Spring is a time the Earth starts putting out her energy. Use it. Find what will work for you and, if you need to, change your plan accordingly.
In our example this is when you upped your workouts and have been eating more protein and fiber. You also start feeling exhausted, everything hurts, and you just want some goddamn french fries. This is the time you start not meeting your weekly workout goals. Remember, get creative. Instead of a boring cardio gym class, ride your bike outdoors. If you never make that dreaded HIIT class. Just drop it and choose something you will do instead. Cut what isn’t serving you and add more to what is.
Beltane- May 1- Growth
Beltane is a time to reflect on growth. It’s the perfect time to look at how far you’ve come. Maybe you didn’t push through all the obstacles that have come up, and that’s OK. Take the time to reflect on, and celebrate how far you have come. Assess what’s working for you and take note of the things that are not.
In our example this is just before the halfway mark. The actions you are taking have formed into habit by now. It’s becoming second nature to meal prep high fiber and protein meals. The people at the gym know your name. Keep the tide rolling and push on!
Litha- June 21- Summer Solstice Full Moon- Half Way- Activity
Six months in. It’s time to gauge your progress. This is our halfway mark, and the most active time of the season. Come summer our plan has been perfected and honed. It is full on. If your goals are falling short, assess what’s going on and how you can make it up, or move the goal post. If you’re ahead in your plan, congratulations, and keep it up. This is a perfect time to celebrate what progress and achievements you have made.
In our example this is a wonderful time to really check your weigh ins. You should be about halfway to your goal. Weight wise, by the end of summer you may even be ahead of your goal. Celebrate how far you’ve come. This is a good time to treat yourself to something special. Make a point to schedule something fun and active, like a hiking trip. Buy yourself something that makes you feel great in your changing body.
Lughnasadh/ Lammas- August 1st- Beginning of Harvest
Lammas is the time we start harvesting our hard work. Our desires should really be manifesting and starting to pay off. The steps you are taking to manifest change are now solid habits and things should be getting a little easier.
If fitness is your goal this is when you should start noticing real change. You have lost quite a bit of fat and gained quite a bit of muscle. You feel wonderful and look great. Your workouts are something you look forward to, and they make you feel fabulous.
Mabon-September 21-Autumn Equinox
Now we are seeing the finish line approaching. Three-quarters of the way through the year we are seeing real change. We have sown the seed of change and we are reaping the desired results. This is the time to start wrapping things up in your goal.
If fitness was your goal this is the time you’ve lost most of the weight you will lose. Your body is going to start finding its balance. Muscle has been built and now is the time we’re starting to just maintain what we have, instead of losing or gaining anything else.
Samhain- November 1st- Reset and Recovery
This is our final stage in the year. Now is the time to rest. Reflect on how far you have come and celebrate yourself. Maybe you hit your goal, and your intention has manifested. Maybe you didn’t. Either way, celebrate all you have achieved and learned. Take the time to meditate on what you’ve done. If you reached your goal, ask yourself if the rewards were what you expected. If you did not, ask yourself why. Some may find that keeping a journal, or track of their progress can help them fine tune what works for them and what doesn’t. Wrapping up loose ends on a project or goal is a very important part of the process. This opens us up for the incoming Yule, to reflect on where we have come and set goals for the following year.
In our fitness example this is when we rest and reflect on if we’re happy where we are, or want to go further. This is when we pat ourselves on the back and post the before and after photos.
Working with the Moon
You can set your watch by the sun. For real, our reference for time is based on the sun. The moon, however, is a whole nother animal. The moon does not fit into the box we use to measure time. A true lunar cycle is 29.5 days long. Think of the moon as a wild child, spinning and circling to the beat of their own drum. It’s charming, exciting, and yes, a little romantic. Working with the moon to measure our goals and intentions can breathe new life into a project. It puts us in a more cyclical mindset, removing the idea that self improvement can be measured in a series of finish lines that need to be crossed. For some of us the moon's natural ebb and flow falls in sync closer to our own natural rhythms. This synchronicity can provide the boost we need to get through the changes we want to make. You can work with the moon for either short or long term intentions. Let’s start with the short term to get some terminology out of the way.
Short term- 29ish days long Phases of the Moon
In total, there are eight phases of the moon. The New Moon, Waxing Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning gibbous, Third Quarter, and Waning Crescent (also called the Balsamic). Each moon has its own unique energies, intuitively calling us into different actions. These eight moon phases also pass through the twelve zodiac signs during the year. In total, each lunar year we have 96 unique moons. Now you can choose to harness the particular energy each zodiac sign adds to a moon phase, or pass and just work with the phase of the moon. I like using moon phases for short term goals for a few reasons. One, it appeals to my rebellious nature to not set goals based on the first of the week, or month. Secondly, any time I look at the sky I see a reminder of what I set my intention to work on, and roughly the amount of progress I should be making on it.
The New Moon
During the New Moon the Sun is directly behind the Moon. This is why the moon is dark. There is no solar energy illuminating this moon. This is one of the most powerful moons to work with. It is the moon that has the strongest effects on Earth's tides. This is the time for sowing seeds. This is the time for new beginnings and ideas to percolate in the dark spaces of our minds. The new moon initiates a new cycle. The New Moon phase is when we “start fresh”. This is when you ask yourself, “What do I want to work on this month?” This phase technically lasts 12 hours, but some channel that energy for three days surrounding the New Moon.
Once we exit the dark New Moon phase, we enter the building phase. The Waxing Crescent moon is the slender sliver that appears on the right hand side of the moon. The moon, once again, emerges with new energy. This is the time to specify your intentions, make a plan, and move forward with it. Start bringing that puppy out of the ether and into reality. This stage lasts about seven days.
The First Quarter Moon phase is often a period where obstacles tend to raise their head. This is when you figure out all of the flaws in your “perfectly laid out plan”. All the inconveniences, heartaches, doubts, fatigue, and naysayers come out to play. This is a great moon to go out and howl all your frustrations out. Look at the moon, remind yourself that you’re a bad ass and that there are no obstacles you will not overcome. Luckily this moon only stays around for about twelve hours, almost immediately turning into the Waxing Gibbous Moon.
Now that we’ve had our moment of frustration and doubt, got angry or hopeless and let that all out, the Waxing Gibbous Moon phase calls for reflection. Look at what you have learned and how you have grown in this short time. If you need to adjust your current goals and life path, do so accordingly. This is another phase that gives us about a week to sort out. Really look at where you intended to be and where you are. Take the time you need to recheck and balance your path. This is the phase that accounts for the fact that plans go awry. This is the phase that grants us the ease we need in our planning to avoid frustration and failure.
The Full Moon is one of the most powerful moons to work with. The moon is fully illuminated, and brings with it our own illumination, focus and clarity. This is where you begin to harvest the benefits of your intentions. This is a good time to dive deep and do dream or shadow work. You’ve been striving for something for two weeks. By now you can clearly see what is working and what is not. This is a powerful time to let go of what is not serving you and channel that energy into something that does. The full moon is a powerful time for cutting cords, burning or candle rituals. This phase lasts only a day, although many people work with the full moon on the three days surrounding the day.
The Waning Gibbous Moon
The Waning Gibbous Moon moon is when you start wrapping up the loose ends of your goal, or project. This is the time to re-evaluate your deeper intentions on why you originally set these goals and ask yourself if it was worth it. Did your goal serve your intention? If so, treat yourself with some gratitude, if not just re-adjust your goals moving forward. By now the lion's share of your project or goal should be completed. This is the time for polishing and refining. This phase lasts about a week.
Almost a full month after the New Moon you will encounter the Third Quarter. This moon is about transition and letting go. If you’ve achieved a goal, or manifested an intention, your life has changed. It may be in a small way, it may be in a profound way. The Third Quarter moon calls for us to reflect on where we are now, letting go of the person we were at the start of the cycle. This cycle lasts about twelve hours.
Waning Crescent (also Balsamic)
The Waning Crescent Moon is the time to rest and regenerate. This is the phase we in the West have chosen to ignore. We constantly bounce from one thing to the next. Nature’s cycle calls for us to take a time of respite. Take the time to honor the work you have put in and how far you have come. Rest and regenerate. This is a period of self-care. Reconnect with yourself and find your new point of balance. This is the time to do a final clean up on your project or goal. You have about a week to rest and reset before the next New Moon dances by.
New to Full Moon- Medium Term Goals- 6 months
While each moon phase is powerful in its own right, the New and Full Moons are considered the MOST powerful of the lunar phases. In this section we’re going to focus on only those two, however, we will be adding in the signs of the zodiac. There are a few ways you can set intentions and goals using the zodiac and the lunar phases. One is to set intentions in 6 month goal frames from the new moon in a zodiac to the corresponding full moon. For example, set your intention on the New Moon in Capricorn on January 6th 2023, and reap the reward by the Full Moon in Capricorn on July 3, 2023. You could also set annual plans, going from New Moon, to Full Moon, Back around to New Moon.
If there is more than one area you need to work on, that is totally doable. For larger intentions and life changing goals I would not choose more than three to four to focus on in any given year. If you don’t have any major construction to do, looking at the new and full moons in relation to the zodiac they are passing through also provides a good all round checklist to verify you’re happy with all of these areas in your life.
Capricorn- Planning the Road Ahead
New Moon End of December to Beginning of January
Full Moon End of June to Beginning of July.
The closest New Moon we encounter to the New Year falls in Capricorn. Capricorn asks us to reflect on our strengths and see how they contribute to our overall sense of purpose. This is the sign that calls for you to bring your goals into reality. This is the sign that focuses us on our life’s purpose. Maybe this is why we all feel the need to reevaluate our lives, come the end of December. It will also illuminate all that is holding you back. Once your path is illuminated, the shadows are much easier to spot. If you feel you are aimlessly sleeping through your life, this could be a wonderful cycle to work with. When you are looking to set intentions and goals regarding your career this is a good sign to work under.
Aquarius- Finding Your Tribe
New Moon End of January to Beginning of February
Full Moon End of July to Beginning of August
Aquarius is a wonderful energy to work with creativity and community. Aquarius is a good sign to use in thinking outside of the box. If you’re looking for the next big idea, or creative solutions to some of your problems this is the sign to work with. Aquarius asks a lot of why questions, and doesn’t accept anything at face value. If you’re looking to challenge authority, and create a new community this is the sign to work in. Aquarius is also a good time to take a look at networking possibilities. This is a time to come together creatively for a purpose. If you want to start an acting troupe, or a band this is definitely the time to focus on that. A new think tank at work, or a new hiking or book club would be the things that go well with Aquarian energy.
Pisces- Creative Spirituality
New Moon End of February to Beginning of March
Full Moon End of August to Beginning of September
Pisces is an extremely creative sign. This is a time to let your dreams run wild. If you are trying to get in touch with your dreams Pisces is a good sign to work with. It is also a time to tune into a higher calling. This is time to set goals on adopting or learning about a specific religion or spiritual practice that is calling to you. Piscean energy is not one that can be bound by rationality. If you have a long neglected passion or dream you have been too afraid to pursue, this is the moon for you.
Aries- New Beginnings
New Moon End of March to Beginning of April
Full Moon End of September to Beginning of October
Aries is the beginning of the zodiac calendar. Aries is the energy that is most like a little baby, wanting only love, experience, and happiness. This moon brings on a whole new burst of energy. If you have a goal or intention that has been stagnating, work on it during the Aries moon and watch it grow. This moon calls for us to take initiative. Stop restricting yourself and be expansive. Aries is the energy of leaders, being brave, and taking risks. If you are in the market for a new job this is an excellent time to set intentions around that.
Taurus- Diet and Fitness New Moon End of April to Beginning of May Full Moon End of October to Beginning of November
Just in time for the nice springtime weather, the Taurus moon rolls in and demands that we reconnect with nature. This is the time to re-landscape your yard, take up a new hiking hobby or study botany. Get to know your plant and animal friends closer, and really own your place in nature. This is also the time to reflect on our own earthly needs. If fitness is a goal of yours this is a great energy to get you into your body. Taurus can help you get motivated to get out and exercise. It is also a good time to focus on the foods you are eating. Goals surrounding diet and nutrition are a wonderful task to take during the Taurus cycle.
Gemini- Inspiration New Moon End of May to Beginning of June Full Moon End of November to Beginning of December
Gemini is like your bratty little brother. It’s constantly bouncing around, exploring, and spouting off random facts about dinosaurs you never knew. This is a sign high in both energy and curiosity. This is a time to take on anything you’ve been wanting to learn. Continuing education, self improvement, and professional development are all excellent things to undertake during the Gemini phase.
Cancer- Relationships New Moon End of June to Beginning of July Full Moon End of December to Beginning of January
As a Cancer by sun sign, I can attest that Cancer is the sign of the feels. Cancers feel very deeply and are extremely loyal to those they love. The end of summer to the end of winter is the time to focus on any relationship issues you want to work on. This is all encompassing. Relationships can be with your partner, family, friends, co-workers, and even yourself. If there are relationships you are either struggling with, or would like to expand on, set your intentions and work towards your goals during the Cancer phase.
Leo- Creative Expression and Confidence New Moon End of July to Beginning of August Full Moon End of January to Beginning of February
Leo is no cowardly lion. Leos purr with confidence and creativity. Leo is a time for unabashed self expression. This is the time to set your goals surrounding creativity and expression. Take on new artistic endeavors. Take a public speaking, or improv comedy class. If you’re having trouble getting our of your shell and want to get out, work with the Leo energy. Set goals and intentions surrounding self confidence and build up your authentic self. Leo just wants you to take up the space you deserve and reach your highest potential. Live from your heart and never apologize for being you. Leo’s live from their hearts and want the same for you.
Virgo- Self Care New Moon End of August to Beginning of September Full Moon End of February to Beginning of March
Ah, the Maiden. Virgo is a sign that centers around self care. This is the time for intentions that take us inward. If you are concerned about your own health and wellness, put out your intentions at the end of the year. This is a wonderful time to adopt a meditation practice or take up a hobby that you have been wanting to do. Virgo is a solitary character, full of her own identity and independence. This is the time to focus on you. Virgo is also a Type A personality. If one of your intentions is to get your household in order and get organized this is when you wanna take that on.
Libra- The Balancing Act New Moon End of September to Beginning of October Full Moon End of March to Beginning of April
Scales balance and this is the time to focus on intentions centered around balance. If you struggle with things such as work- life balance, or codependency this is a powerful time for you. Now is when you align yourself. Learn not to give too much of yourself away, and do not rely too much on others. Libra is also a sign for justice. If you have legal matters to attend to, set your intentions with that now. You will churn through the court system on their clock, but you can do your energy work regarding legal matters with the Libra phase. This is also a time to work with discovering or developing what you truly believe in.
Scorpio- Shadows and Sexuality New Moon End of October to Beginning of November Full Moon End of April to Beginning of May
Oh Scorpio. Scary, dark, and subversive. Scorpio is deep, but strong and has some serious emotional perseverance. This is the energy you need for things such as shadow work. If you have some stinky baggage buried deep down in yourself Scorpio is the ride or die that will go there with you and dig it out. Dive deep and know that Scorpio is there to protect you. If you’ve been struggling to release past trauma this is the time to set those intentions and take serious action. This is also a good time to set intentions around sex and sexuality. Scorpio will assist with exploring new things, learning what you want, or getting comfortable with what you have. Scorpio’s not picky, it’s up for anything.
Sagittarius- Explore the Universe New Moon End of November to Beginning of December Full Moon End of May to Beginning of June
Sagittarius is the world explorer of the Universe. There is nowhere Sagittarius wouldn’t go and nothing he wouldn’t do. If you are stuck in a rut and want to get out more, plan it with Sagittarius. If you intend to try new things and see new places, this is the time to set those intentions and line out those goals. Be brave and step out of your own routines. Sagittarius calls for us to actually travel as well. Plan your adventures in the light of Sagittarius. He won’t lead you astray, but he will take you for a ride.
Rituals are a powerful way to mark an occasion. They can be anything you want them to be. Make your ritual as involved or as easy as you need. You can sit with a cup of tea and write in your planner. You can make it an evening or weekend self care extravaganza. Candle rituals, baths, outdoor ceremonies are all wonderful choices. What you do is really only limited to your imagination. The only must is that it be meaningful and purposeful for you. There are a ton of resources online on what kinds of rituals you can do to manifest change with the new and full moons. Honestly, you just need to do whatever will focus your energy best.
" You always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself " -Glinda the good witch.
Working with nature, the seasons, lunar phases, and zodiacs, provides a different way to work towards goals. If you find you’ve always struggled to get your house in order, work with Virgo for that added boost you need. If you find you’re always harried to get out a monthly newsletter, try working on a lunar schedule instead.
Whether you choose to work with the seasons, or the moon, there is a time to think, a time to plan, and time to build, a time to reap, a time to wrap up, and a time to rest. To me, we have severely cut out the beginning of an intention and the end where we rest and recoup after our goals are achieved. We go from 0-100, cross the finish line, and move on to the next thing. We have lost our cyclical, ebbing and flowing rhythms.
It may seem a little strange to have an article that talks about manifesting change and sending energy to the Universe married with SMART goals and New Year’s resolutions. Manifesting the life you want is magic. The Universe is always there to listen and provide. The trick is focusing your energy properly, and yes putting in the work. 15 minutes of yoga a day is not going to drastically change your body. Buying a specific planner isn’t going to change your life. Just because you work for something doesn’t mean the change it brings isn’t magickal. The power to change your own life is the magick. Everything else is just a tool to help you manifest the energy required for change. The magick to manifest change is always within you.