The Moon as Shadow Work // How Aligning with the Moon Invites Shadow Work and Tips to Make Lunar Work a Daily Practice
The moon comes after walking through the tower and the renewed spark of inspiration from the star in the tarot. The moon serves as a portal between worlds, sitting in between the star and the sun. The star is the inspiring rebirth and the sun is the ego-self, shining bright. But in between them, the moon shows up to call you inward. It’s an invitation to explore everything that’s come to pass at the subconscious level.
It’s within this portal that shadow work comes in, which could go by so many other names: soul work, subconscious work, “dark night of the soul,” or emotional exploration, etc. Shadow work calls you in to peel away the surface and explore the parts of yourself that you often ignore, hide, or push away.
Listen to this post on my podcast, Rooting into Wholeness, below.
The moon’s light is not her own. Its light is reflected by the sun. The moon is the mirror. What shadowy areas within your soul need to have a mirror held up to them?
Shadow work, like the moon, is a portal to wholeness. One cannot exist without the other. Your shadow work is still there even if you are not addressing it. It does not just go away. It remains untouched and undiscovered. A powerful healing tool waiting to be utilized and waiting to bring you to wholeness.
So many want to skip over this important portal. Here’s the thing, though. You can’t. The opportunity will keep repeating itself until you decide to walk through the shadowing realms of your subconscious. In my experience, I’ve learned that if you ignore your shadow long enough, it will come crashing down and force you to examine what needs to be learned and seen. No amount of love and light can keep you from knowing all facets of life. We’re human. It’s why we’re here.
How to work with the moon to honor your shadow
How can you embody the energy of the moon, her wisdom, to approach this inner shadow work? It starts as noticing the moon in her phases and turns into allowing these phases to influence your rituals. The shifts will be subtle, but eventually, shadow work will become a regular part of your life. Here are three ways to start weaving more lunar energy into your daily practice.
Much of this work is observational and feeling work that needs to happen within the mind and body. All other tools (crystals, herbs, cards, etc.) and are ancillary allies. Use them if you feel called, but do not let them be prohibitive to your growth if you do not have them handy.
1. Become more aware of the moon. Let’s first start by connecting with lunar energy regularly. Track her, notice her, and notice how you feel in her different phases. If working with the moon is new to you, start by solely noticing when the moon is in her waxing phase vs. waning phase (I find this more helpful than tracking the new/full moon.) Learn more about waxing vs. waning lunar energy in a past post here.
When you begin to adopt the moon’s cycles into your daily life, you will begin to understand the necessity of living more cyclically. Rather than shaming yourself for needing to go within, you will appreciate it as a natural phase. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some ways that I connect with lunar energy regularly.
- Look for the moon anytime you are outside at night or consciously decide to go outside and seek her out regularly. You will soon learn where the moon lives in the sky during different parts of her cycle.
- Track her with an app. I like to keep a pulse on when the moon shifts from waxing to waning phase and vice versa. Using an app is an easy way to know when these shifts happen. I also like to know what astrological sign the moon is living in as this also affects her energy. My favorite app is The Moon App. The free version is great, but I prefer the paid version.
- Wear a specific piece of jewelry is a reminder of whether the moon is waxing or waning. I have a moon-shaped ring that I flip, so the moon is facing inwards or outwards according to whether the moon is waxing or waning. However, there are many ways to do this. You could wear a specific necklace, ring, or bracelet for waxing vs. waning energy. Doing this brings the energy of the moon into the physical and offers you a daily reminder.
2. Bring the moon into your rituals. If your ritual practices only include rituals to make you feel good or to manifest, you’re missing out on some big growth opportunities and magick-making. When you invite lunar energy into your rituals, you open the door to more profound transformations through shadow work. The moon does not stay stuck in her growth, waxing, manifesting phase, and neither should you.
Everyone’s ritual practice varies, but there are ways to bring lunar energy into just about any ritual. Bringing lunar energy into your rituals will require you to be more mindful about your ritual practices. Here are a few ways to work lunar energy into common ritual practices.
- Burn candles and herbs in line with lunar energy. If candle magick, incense, or herbs are a part of your ritual practice, this is an easy place to honor the moon. How can you be more mindful about what candle colors or herbs you’re working with? For example, I would avoid more energizing plants and colors like peppermint, citrus, and candle colors like red, orange, and yellow during a waning moon phase. I will often burn a simple white candle during a new moon, and during a dark moon, phase black.
- Invite lunar energy into your meditation practice. Honoring the moon in your meditation practice can be done for each phase or just waxing and waning energy. If you already have a meditation practice, this will be a simple way to begin engaging with the moon’s energy on a deeper level. In my meditation practice, this looks like doing more energy clearing at the end of the waning moon phase, being more open to guidance from Spirit at the start of the waxing phase and around the new moon, and focusing on gratitude during the full moon. I wrote a full post about it here and offer a meditation package with meditations for each moon phase here.
- Place specific items on your altar or sacred space for certain moon phases, or consider an altar refresh for specific moons. If an altar is a part of your ritual practice, be open to how you can weave lunar energy into your sacred space. I usually update my altar based on the seasons. However, some lunar events warrant a full altar refresh. I invite you to trust when you feel called to do this. Even if you don’t want to refresh your altar completely, placing specific herbs, candles, or tarot/oracle cards on your altar for specific phases can also be a powerful way to connect with the moon.
Simple changes like these begin to make working with the moon a part of life and a way of living. You can find many blog posts here about working with the specific energy of each moon phase. However, I do find some of these basic things just as impactful as they make honoring and connecting with the moon more of a daily practice rather than something you only do on new and full moons.
3. Study the moon card in the tarot (any deck.) While studying the moon card, notice what comes up for you? Each deck will bring a different kind of flavor, but the energy of the moon card will remain consistent from deck to deck, as will the placement of the card amongst the Major Arcana. This may not be true if working with moon card in an oracle card deck (learn more about the difference between tarot and oracle cards here.)
Notice the cards around the moon in the tarot and the story they tell. Where does the moon sit in the Major Arcana? What cards are nearest to it? I discussed this a bit in the introduction. But one way to view its placement is as a portal between the star and the sun. Like all wisdom from the tarot, allow yourself to be open to different teachings and ideas. This is just one viewpoint. The wisdom in this step will come from finding your own meaning from the moon card in the tarot. Here are some ways to work with this card.
- Place the card on your altar or somewhere else where you’ll see it regularly.
- Journal or meditate on the moon card. What comes up for you when you look at it? What stands out? What does it mean to you at this moment?
- Read about the meaning of the card from different perspectives. Some of my favorites are Rachel Pollock’s book 78 Degrees of Wisdom and teachings from Lindsay Mack on her podcast Tarot for the Wild Soul.
- Draw your own version of the card. What comes to your mind when you think about creating your own version of the moon card? Allow yourself to be a channel for its wisdom.
If you find these offerings overwhelming, begin implementing what feels the most aligned and appealing to you. Or, if you feel up for a fun shift in perspective, select the one that feels the scariest to you!
Working with the moon as a spiritual practice is an invitation to honor all phases of life, including death, shadow, and transformation. These are necessary phases of all life, even yours. When you open yourself up to being in alignment with all of these phases, you open yourself up to being whole, flawed, and simultaneously perfect. The shifts and changes to living alongside the moon will happen slowly over time. Until one day, you realize you allow and honor all of your phases.
This shift is the magick of embodying shadow work, living cyclically, and aligning with the moon.
For more on shadow work, check out these past posts.
Categorised in: Dark moon, Full moon, How-to, Moon phases, New moon, Rituals, Shadow work, Tarot, Waning moon, Waxing moon
Cassie Uhl is the author of five books and two card decks, an artist, intuitive energy healer, and death doula. Her lineage and practices are rooted in pagan earth-based spiritual practices of Northern Europe. She approaches her work and clients with trauma-informed support through all phases of life. She currently resides on the land of the Myaamia people in so-called Indiana of the US.