Waning Moon Dessert and a Ritual for Clearing Space
When it comes to rituals, the new moon and the full moon get all the glory. The moon cycle is a process, with different stages asking different questions and inspiring different actions. The beginning of this cycle is the new moon, or a night sky devoid of any sign of the moon. This represents a time of setting intentions and dreaming. As the moon grows through its waxing crescent stage, you wish, plan, and take steps towards your goal. When the cycle reaches its height at the full moon, you’ll reflect on your intention and see if it has come to realization. You offer gratitude and thanks for what you have. As the moon starts to wane, it’s time to reflect, cleanse, and break old habits. It’s a time to release whatever you need to release so that once again you are ready for the new start of the next new moon.
The cycles of the moon are also tied to the wheel of the year and the cycle of life. The new moon in its darkness represents death and new beginnings; it’s associated with the Winter Solstice and the dark of winter. Springtime and youth are associated with the waxing moon, while the full moon’s glory is associated with the height of fertility of adulthood and the Summer Solstice. That brings us around the cycle to the waning (or balsamic) crescent, the darkening days of fall and the elder years of life. This time of year has the sophistication that age and wisdom bring to us, unlike the carefree youth of springtime. The older we become, the more we learn to appreciate bitterness, darkness, complexity. This time of year, indeed, we are faced with increasing nights and dropping temperatures; it is the beginning of bitter roots seasons, the beginning of long nights and longer stories. It’s a time to let go and make room for the new. (Whether that is cleaning out your closet to make space for warmer clothes or cleaning out your list of responsibilities to leave space for winter’s dreaming and introspective time.)
How better to mark this energy than to hold a meaningful ritual with some friends to make some room in your lives for the new dreams and aspirations that come with the new year? The time between now and the Winter Solstice is a time of reflection and rest; it’s a chance to shed off a few stressors and responsibilities to cleanse yourself in preparation for the new beginnings that are coming soon. Below I’m sharing just such a ceremony, plus a delicious recipe for Night Sky Sorbet and Crescent Moon Cookies, flavored appropriately with the complex and bitter flavors of early fall: black walnuts and chicory roots. Whip up a batch of each and get ready for a meaningful evening of ceremony.
Waning Moon Ritual for Clearing Space:
1. Invite a few of your friends over for an evening of space-clearing. Ask each person to bring 10 items they want to get rid of. You can set a theme like clothes, cookware, or tools, or just leave it up to them. Ask them also to keep in mind some things that they would personally like to clear out of their lives as well. (Burdens, obligations, emotions, etc.)
2. Before guests arrive, set up a space to complete your ceremony. I find it’s easiest to all sit in a big circle, but you may be more comfortable sitting around a table. Light some candles, crack a few windows to let in the night breeze, and clear any clutter from the area. Have some little bottles, small pieces of black paper, silver or white gel pens, and black candle wax nearby.
3. As guests arrive, greet them and lead them to the ceremony space. Have them arrange their items in the middle of the circle. When all of the guests have arrived, start the ceremony by talking about your intention to honor the waning crescent moon by clearing space in your lives, both physically and metaphorically. Then, explain that you’ll be going around the circle and selecting items, one at a time, that you’d like to keep. Each person, on their turn, may select one item or “steal” an item from another person (who will then be allowed to select a new item.) Each item may be “stolen” only twice, then it is safe. Continue to go around the circle until everyone has chosen three items or is satisfied with what they’ve got. Together, box up the rest of the items to donate to a charity or second hand shop. (Remember, you’re trying to clear space in your lives, not come home with a bunch of new things! Moderation is key.)
4. Once all of the extra items are boxed up and set aside, have everyone pack up their new items and remove them from the area as well. At this point, you may want to transition to a table for ease of writing.
5. Using an herb stick, cleansing spray, or other means, cleanse each person in the circle one at a time. This helps to set the intention for the more somber part of the evening. (If you aren’t familiar with the practice of smudging, check out this post.)
6. Pass out the pieces of black paper and gel pens and give everyone a few minutes to write down what they would like to release. Remember, this can be tangible things like commitments or projects, or less tangible things like emotions, illness, or relationships.
7. Light the tapered black candle. Once again go around the circle and give each person the option to share what they’ve written down. (If they don’t want to share, they can just say “pass.”) After they’ve shared, have them place the piece of black paper into their small jar, then top it with the cork or lid. Finally, have them drizzle a bit of black wax to seal the jar (be sure to do this over a protective surface like a piece of parchment paper!) Once they’ve finished, have them pass the candle on to the next person so that it can burn in front of them as they share theirs as well. Continue the process around the circle until everyone has had the chance to speak aloud what they’re getting rid of and has sealed their jars.
8. When the candle comes back to the first person, speak aloud your intention once again: “We’re clearing space and creating peace, what’s in our jars we now release.” Then blow out the candle.
9. Instruct each guest to take their bottle home with them and place it somewhere special like an altar or bedside table. They should re-open it again either on the next new moon or on the Winter Solstice and revisit what they’ve written. If they still want to let it go, have them burn the paper in a fire-proof container at that time.
10. Now it’s time to celebrate! Serve the night sky sorbet and moon cookies to all of the guests, explaining that the bitterness of the sorbet represents the complexity and sophistication of this stage in the moon cycle. Enjoy each other’s company and reflect on the ceremony you just shared together.
Night Sky Sorbet:
This silky sorbet is as black as the night sky, thanks to black cocoa powder.* It is rich, complex, and a little bit bitter thanks to the roasted caramel flavor of chicory roots. If chocolate ice cream is the twitter of birdsong, this is the thrumming that comes from deep within the earth itself. A little goes a long way, but don’t let that frighten you: this sorbet is as delicious as it is rich. An added bonus is that it is vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar free as well.
3 1/2 c. water
1 Tbs. roasted chicory root powder
1 c. maple syrup
1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (black if possible.)
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
White star sprinkles* and crescent moon cookies, to serve
1. Place the chicory root powder in a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil. Shut off the heat and let sit for 15 minutes, then strain through a fine sieve or coffee filter.
2. Combine the maple syrup and chicory tea in a medium saucepan. Stir until the maple is dissolved. Sift in the cocoa powder, stirring continually. Add the salt and vanilla. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes.
3. Pour the mixture into another container and cool. Refrigerate to chill, then pour into an ice cream machine and churn until it’s smooth. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for a couple of hours to harden completely.
4. To serve, top with a crescent moon cookie and a sprinkling of white star sprinkles.
Crescent Moon Cookies:
These buttery and nutty delights are a perfect counterbalance to the richness of the bitter chocolate sorbet. They are called Vanillekipferl and are traditionally eaten throughout central and eastern Europe. Legend says that they were created in the shape of the Turkish crescent moon during a victory over the Turkish army by either the Hungarians or Austrians (depending on who you ask.) Today, they’re a common holiday cookie and it’s no wonder why - a delicate coating of vanilla-infused sugar gives a lot of flavor to the melt-in-your-mouth shortbread base. To make this recipe, you’ll need to make or buy some vanilla sugar. To do so, tuck a few vanilla beans into a jar of granulated sugar and leave them there for about a month, then pull them out. This recipe calls for black walnuts. They are similar to their English Walnut cousins but are far more flavorful; intensely funky and earthy. You can use regular walnuts if you can’t get your hands on the black ones.
2 c. flour
1 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. ground black walnuts
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
Dusting: 1/2 c. powdered sugar plus 1 Tbs. vanilla sugar
1. Mix all of the ingredients together to form a smooth dough. Roll it into a log and wrap in waxed paper. Chill the log in the fridge for an hour or two.
2. Preheat the oven to 350F and prepare a couple of cookie sheets with non-stick silicone mats or parchment paper. Cut off small pieces of dough and gently shape them into a crescent moon shapes on the baking tray. It’ll be a little tricky, since the dough is pretty dry - but be patient because the flaky texture of the cookies will be worth it!
3. Once you’ve shaped all of your crescent moons, stick them in the freezer for 20 minutes, then bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes or until the edges just start to turn golden.
4. Meanwhile, grind the vanilla sugar in a spice grinder until it’s fine and fluffy. It should only take a few pulses. Mix it with the remaining powdered sugar.
5. Let the cookies cool on their pan for five minutes, then sift the powdered vanilla sugar over the top and turn to coat evenly. Let the cookies cool completely, then dust them again. Gently brush off any extra powdered sugar.
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I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! I’d love to hear if you tried these recipes or ritual and what you thought of them. Feel free to comment your thoughts below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime! Happy Waning Crescent Moon!
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