What is a lunar calendar, and why should I use one?
Have you ever wondered why our calendar has 12 months, our year 365 days, and our months 28-31 days? For many of us, calendars play a central role in our everyday lives – tracking important events, holidays, and birthdays. We use digital calendars to remind us to go to the doctor and schedule our vacation, yet we rarely stop to think about how our calendar was formed or what other calendars may be able to offer us.
Our calendar – the Gregorian calendar – is based on the solar year – the time is takes Earth to complete one lap around the sun. One year is 365.24 days long, and we use the leap year system to account for the partial day. Yet, many people rely on another calendar – the lunar calendar – to track time. The lunar calendar utilizes lunar months (lunations), each lasting 29.53 days. This makes the lunar year 11 days shorter than the solar year and causes the lunar months to cycle through the seasons.
The decision to use a solar or lunar calendar is often a product of a culture’s history. Yet, it is also dependent on the purpose of the calendar. The solar calendar is focused on the sun, which represents the outside world. Distant from our planet, the sun shines light on the universe. It is responsible for our horoscopes and is deeply connected to our identities. People use a solar calendar because it has a high degree of accuracy. It connects our months to seasons and thus allows our years to remain grounded in the movement of our planet.
The lunar calendar relies on the moon, which reflects the sun’s light. A reflection of our inner world, the moon represents our emotions, desires, and beliefs, allowing us to freely express ourselves. A lunar calendar is crucial for those engaging in spiritual activities (and religious holidays such as the Chinese New Year, Ramadan, Easter, and Rosh Hashanah). A lunar calendar allows users to track the lunar phases and time spiritual practices accordingly. A lunar calendar can aid you in achieving your spiritual goals, as awareness of the lunar phases will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of your experiences and connection to the universe.
What are the lunar phases?
The lunar phases are similar to the lifecycle of a seed. A seed is planted (New Moon) and slowly matures into a plant (Waxing Moon). At the peak of its lifecycle, it blooms (Full Moon). After achieving its purpose, the flower slowly dies (Waning Moon), returning to the earth. The powerful energy of the moon takes different forms as it cycles through these stages. We can use the unique and profound energy of each phase to help guide us in our intentions.
Each new moon represents the beginning of a lunar cycle. Signifying new beginnings, it is the perfect time to revisit your intentions and set new goals for yourself. During this time, the moon is positioned between the sun and the earth, allowing us to meditate on our desires and plant new seeds in the dark, fertile ground.
During the waxing phase, the moon offers creative energy to help bring our intentions into form. As the illuminated portion of the moon gradually begins to grow, we can put our desires into action and watch the seeds sprout and grow. Using this time to release any fears or doubts will allow us to free ourselves of negative energy and revel in the beauty of these new changes.
The full moon represents balance, as the sun and moon (yin and yang) are in harmony. The energy of the moon at this time is heightened, amplifying our emotions and strengthening our possibilities. Focusing on gratitude and acknowledging the beauty of life itself will allow us to honor our place in the universe. During this time, it is important to let go, as our desires bloom in the most wondrous colors, offering us creative energies we can use to freely express ourselves.
As the majesty of the full moon passes into the waning phase, we enter a time of reflection. Grounding ourselves in non-judgmental spaces will allow us to contemplate every aspect of our lives, helping us to see the parts of ourselves that are harmonious and those that may have become unbalanced or diseased. As the plant slowly dies and returns to the earth, take time to rest. Release yourself from any negativity through forgiveness and surrender, and focus your gaze on the next new moon as the cycle begins again.
How can I attune myself to the lunar phases?
The phases of the moon remind us of the ebb and flow of existence. By paying attention to the lunar cycles, we open ourselves to the powerful energy of the moon in each phase. By establishing clear intentions and releasing control, we can activate the moon’s energies and use them to create harmonious cycles in our own lives.