The mid-August Full Moon is in the air sign of Aquarius, opposite the Sun in the fire sign of Leo, offering the elemental interplay of fire and air. Both elements can be used in rituals of purification: fire flames up and out, burning to ashes what obstructs. Air refreshes, blowing away what is old and stagnant. Purification rituals are especially powerful during the waning cycle, which begins with the Full Moon. Now is the time to banish useless habits. With the Sun still in Leo, you might especially want to banish any fixed and outworn notions of yourself — those mental attitudes that prevent you from living out of the authentic core of your being. Think of this core as being like a flame, passionate, mysterious, forever changing its shape, as it dances and plays with the surrounding world.
Sometime before sunset, gather a small candle, a large plate to put underneath it, several small pieces of paper, and a pen. Bring them to a quiet place where you can protect yourself from distractions and interruptions (or a wind that might whip or extinguish your candle). Ideal would be a spot that allows you a good view of the eastern horizon, where the Moon will rise just after sundown. As this is a ritual celebrating the elements of fire and air, you may wish to bring some sage or a stick of incense to place on your altar. Reciting a prayer or sacred phrase from your particular tradition will help to calm your spirit and call in divine energy. Watching the breath—inhaling in, exhaling out—will further deepen this sacred space.
RAISING THE ENERGY
In this gently focused state, wait for the first sign of the Moon. When you spot her brilliant light at the horizon, attune your heart to her presence, and light your candle. Then tune into those reverent ones scattered around the world who, like you, are also lighting a candle to celebrate the full moon. How many hundreds of thousands of candles, flickering on hundreds of thousands of altars must the Moon be seeing tonight! With this image, join in the interplay of Leo and Aquarius: feel yourself as one creative being united with the collective energy of others, in a spirit of reverence for earth, humanity, and the starry cosmos. As you light your incense or sage, inhale the sacred energy in the atmosphere, wafting on the smoky perfume.
THE HEART OF THE RITUAL
Personal Ritual: Now survey your life with an eye to what is obstructing your true self from flaming out in all its radical brilliance and beauty. Perhaps you are plagued with doubts about the value of your work. Maybe you are filled with unreasonable fears, or persistent feelings of anxiety. It could be that you have held onto anger over an unfair situation, or a person who has slighted you. Often, negative habits persist that block us from accomplishing what we most desire: we procrastinate on fulfilling what we sense is our soul’s purpose, ignore our friendships, or, swamped by the minutia of life, forget the deeper side of life. Choose one or more of the traits you want to banish, then write them down on a piece of paper. Folding it up in the palm of your right hand, place your left hand over it and say “Begone in the fire! Begone in the air!” Then burn your piece of paper in the candle flame (making sure that your holder catches the pieces of burnt ash).
Collective Ritual: Now survey the world with an eye to those problems that cause suffering in the world. Of all the difficulties that riddle the human condition, what are the ones that stir you most deeply? Perhaps it is the environment, now suffering from raging wildfires and erratic weather patterns. It could be human rights, and the lack of fair treatment for prisoners of conscience around the world. Maybe it is the AIDS epidemic in Africa, the problem of homelessness, or violence. Choose what you feel most strongly about, write it on a piece of paper, fold it up in the palm of your right hand, then place your left hand over it. Taking the energy that you have freed up from your personal “banishing” ritual, vow to consecrate it to healing this particular issue. Then burn your piece of paper in the candle flame (making sure again that your holder catches the pieces of burnt ash), saying “Begone in the fire! Begone in the air!”
CLOSING THE CIRCLE
Bringing your hands together in a gesture of prayer, close your ritual with a prayer of thanks. Ask that your Full Moon “banishings” be in accord with the Divine Plan. Then extend your blessings to yourself, your close friends and loved ones, and the rest of the world. Extinguish your candle. And bow to the moon!