On a whim I taught one of my meditation classes about new moon intentions. It was because the first day of the class happened to fall on the new moon. I happened to record this session of classes and it is now part of my introductory webinar. This was just an intro exercise while we waited for people to arrive. I love doing new moon intentions and so I thought, why not? It’s good to write intentions once a month. And I knew the new moon was a powerful time to plant seeds (farmers have known this for centuries) so why not plant seeds in the subconscious mind on that day, too. Other than that, I had no other reason for mentioning this. I am not an astrologer, although I find celestial movement fascinating and love to hear what astrologers think about it. (Astrology is, after all just an attempt to make some spiritual sense of astronomy—as the 3 wise men were doing back in that day—Before the Christian Era.) But I recognize that most orthodox religions think too much star-gazing (astrology) is heresy. So let’s just say that while I like it, I don’t arrange my life by the stars.
You can imagine my surprise to find an entry in the LDS Bible Dictionary under “New Moon.”
The law appointed that at the new moon special sacrifices should be offered (; see also ; ; ).The prophets often speak of “new moons” along with “Sabbaths.” As the days for all Jewish feasts were reckoned by the moon, the exact time of the appearance of the new moon was of great importance. Watchers were placed on the hills around Jerusalem, and watchfires on the hilltops told the news to distant cities. It is said that the Samaritans, in order to cause confusion, lighted fires on their hills at wrong times.Fascinating!
[By the way, if you don't know, the new moon is the phase when the moon is dark and the first crescent starts to show. It is the time when your energy is the lowest (full moon is highest) and therefore a good time to go inward and evaluate, etc.]
After I accidentally found that entry in the Bible dictionary, I read all the scriptures I could find on this and and even did some searching on-line, which I almost never do because there are so many crazy things on line, but here are some of the gems from my research:
Backgroud: Before the 4th century, the Jewish calendar was not fixed, but rather, was based on the cycles of the moon, which happen every 29 to 30 days. The new month was determined by observation. When a new moon had been reported by enough reliable witnesses, the court would declare a new month and fires would be lit on the mountains that surrounded Jerusalem. These signal fires would been seen by neighboring cities, where more fires would be lit, until news of the new moon spread "like wildfire" from Israel to the Diaspora. Rosh Chodesh is the celebration of the new moon and a time of renewal, commemorated 11 times throughout the year. Witnessing the new moon was replaced in the time of Hillel II (358-9 CE) with astronomical calculations and the present Jewish calendar. Rosh Hodesh Study Group in Columbia, MD)
A thousand years after its revelation, observance of Rosh Chodesh was forbidden during the Syrian-Greek persecution along with the Sabbath and circumcision. The grouping of Rosh Chodesh with these essential commandments indicates its importance. Since Jewish festivals were entirely calendar based and the calendar required witnessing and proclaiming the new moon, without the calendar there would be no festivals.
The new moon seems to have been a time to present burnt offerings:
"At the beginning of your months you shall present a burnt offering to the LORD...at the beginning of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices" (Numbers 28:11;10:10). See also I Chronicles 23:31;II Chronicles 2:4;8:12-13;31:3;Ezra 3:5;Nehemiah 10:33).
As Christians, we no longer offer burnt sacrifices, but offer our selves as living sacrifices. (Romans 12:1).
Although there is no command to cease from work on a new moon day, some scriptures allude to the fact that the Jews could not sell on those days (Amos 8:4-5)
The apocraphal book of Judith (chapter 8, verse 6) indicates that fasting occurred on new moons. And other scriptures refer to feasting on a new moon. (I Samuel 20:24).
Isaiah (66:23) mentions that the new moons will be observed in the future, after Christ comes. Ezekial 46:1-3 mentions this too:
of the inner court that it shall be opened, and in the day of the new it shall be opened. And the prince shall enter by the way of the porch of gate without, and shall stand by the of the gate, and the priests shall prepare his burnt and his peace offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate: then he shall go forth; but the gate shall not be shut until the evening.
Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the in the sabbaths and in the new moons.
All of this gets me thinking that there is something more special about the new moon as well as the Sabbath/s that we don’t totally understand. It seems to me that if we are seeking Him, there is special opportunity on the Sabbath and the New Moon, when He "opens the gates to the inner court."
As Latter-day Saints, we do not officially observe the new moon, but if you want to experiment with writing new moon intentions, or fasting, meditating, or observing this day in your own way each month, I think it might have exponential power of awesomeness. It would be another way to remember God each month. And hey, it doesn’t involve getting your children dressed in their Sunday best by 9 am.
Above are somebody's fancy looking new moon intentions that I stole off of Google images. In reality, I don't think you need to make them pretty (it's funny that one of her intentions was to SIMPLIFY. Ha!) or even look at them often after you write them. Just write them and the seeds are planted. I usually encourage people to start their sentence with "I am easily finding myself......" and finish the sentence 10 different ways. These intentions/wishes can be specific or general.
I usually find that by the next time I go to write my intentions, everything I wrote has come to pass or was replaced by something better or if it is a longer term project/thing, it is going along well and progressing.
Feel free to share your comments or experiences with new moon intentions or anything new moon related. Oh and by the way, the next new moon is in just a few days (Dec 2) and the one after that just happens to fall on New Years Day. Sat nam.
Post Script: If you are interested in reading a really cool, deep article from the Ensign about some astrological and calandering specificites related to the time of the restoration of priesthood keys, here are links.
The Restoration of Priesthood Keys on Easter 1836, Part 1: Dating the First Easter
The Restoration of Priesthood Keys on Easter 1836, Part 2: Symbolism of Passover and of Elijah's Return