The waning moon occurs immediately after the full moon and lasts for 14 days. This is the time when the face of the moon is growing smaller. Moving from the large, round face of the full moon toward the crescent moon and eventually again returning to the darkness of new moon.

This part of the lunar cycle holds an energy of release and diminishing.

During this moon phase, focus on clearing negative energies, breaking bad habits, releasing fears, removing negative influences from your life, and breaking spells. If you’ve been cursed, need to perform a banishing spell, or need to clear out some seriously nasty energy from your life or home, this is the time to do it. The energies at this point in the lunar cycle are perfect for siphoning away all that which you do not want, leaving you with a blank, clean slate to begin anew with on the new moon.

Rituals focused on this phase, as with waxing moons, are unusual. Instead, most witches use this time to focus on spellwork and practical matters. If you wish to undertake rituals focused on the waning moon, be aware that this is a time when the shadow self is very likely to appear.

During the waning moon, we are prone to unpacking our baggage so to speak. Buried problems, addictions that have been ignored, habits that are undermining you, unspoken problems in friendships, and so much more can all bubble to the surface seeking to be released. This is not a bad thing! While this work can be painful, saddening, emotional, or even infuriating, it is an incredible healing process if you can learn to lean into the love that underscores these experiences. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Let go. Move on.

Remember that this process of confronting the shadow self may not resolve quickly or even resolve in a way you are anticipating. Leaning into love here does not mean allowing others to continue hurting you, and it does not mean keeping those people and things that are hurting you around. Instead, this process often involves loving YOURSELF enough to prioritize your wellbeing over other peoples feelings and doing what is right for YOU. Even if they won’t like it, or it cuts some people, habits, or situations from your life entirely.

This process can crop up in many ways, and ritualizing the experience can make it all the more potent. You may want to journal, speak aloud into a recording device, astral travel, do dream work, scry, read tarot cards, or any other myriad techniques for searching deep within yourself. Consider the methods that you think would allow you to dig deeper, perhaps consider combining methods, and ritualize the process.

This ritualized self-exposure can come in many varieties. I suggest combining a few elements. The first is your environment. Create an environment that makes you feel safe. If you do not feel safe you will not be able to expose those parts of yourself that are raw and vulnerable. Whether that’s a locked bedroom, a pillow fort, a campsite in the middle of nowhere, or on the couch next to your favorite supportive friend, just find an environment that makes you feel safe, comfortable, and at home. I recommend the gratuitous use of blankets, candles, and maybe a cup of tea.

The next thing you need is one or more ways to dig into your shadow self. Personally, I like to start with an external element such as tarot, runes, throwing bones, etc. and then move on to journaling to really dig into the answers that my divination illuminated. How you go about it is up to you though. Maybe you start with doing some meditation or yoga and then use tarot. Maybe you only use journaling. Maybe you do some astral traveling or work with your familiar and then journal. Just find some way that works for you to get deeply into that self-reflective space.

Finally, adding a ritual element can help you to release those things that perhaps you hide from yourself in the reality of your normal world. Casting a protective circle, inviting in your gods, familiars, or spirit companions, and setting an intention for your ritual can all add depth and seriousness that will help to keep you from wheedling out of the hard work of actually dealing with your shadow.

Keep in mind, even though the waning moon is a time of release, cleansing, removal, and confronting those things that are no longer serving you, that does not mean that it isn’t a time for self-care!

Be kind to yourself, be forgiving when the parts of yourself that are hard to love rear their heads, and give yourself space to let go and heal.