Women’s Lunar Retreat
Our Women’s Lunar Retreat was inspired by the lunar Hebrew calendar and the ancient Jewish tradition of gathering women for bonding and intention setting around the time of a new moon.
We connected with each other, reflected and relaxed with meditation, yoga, arts & crafts, and card reading, and made plans for the month ahead.
Our surroundings were serene. We gathered at Planta Baja, a petite carriage house in a secret alley. There were elements of nature and history throughout, from the original wood beams on the ceiling to the wreaths and flowers decorating the space. Warm, natural light streams through the skylight and windows. The moment you walk through the doors, you feel safe and calm.
We sat on folded blankets in a circle, everyone at the same level and able to see each other equally. We began the day with a ritual called The Fire of Rosh Chodesh.
In ancient times, two witnesses had to confirm the appearance of the new moon to determine when the month began and when that year’s festivals would fall. In order to quickly transmit this knowledge to the far-flung Jewish community, bonfires were lit on hilltops around Jerusalem. Each community that saw the fires burning would light its own bonfire, passing the news from mountain to mountain and town to town, until all the Jews knew it was Rosh Chodesh, the new moon. We took turns lighting each other’s candles to recall the ancient bonfires of the Jewish people and the light of hope and warmth that we passed from one woman to another.
To help soften and calm the mind before we went deeper, Miriam Eisenberger, a teacher of meditation and mindfulness and a student of Buddhist and Jewish wisdom, led us through a grounding meditation.
To prepare for reflection and intention setting, we explored the themes of the upcoming Hebrew month, Nisan. Nisan marks the start of Spring, when nature reawakens and something new begins. The most widely celebrated Jewish holiday, Passover, is also in Nisan. We considered the personal Pharoahs that enslave us and we acknowledged that freedom and happiness come when you have the courage to be your own Moses, your own advocate. We give ourselves permission to enjoy and be happy in the present moment, with exactly what we have, exactly as we are. We decide what is enough.
Each woman in the group had the opportunity to share what had brought her to the room that day. When every person had spoken and been singularly heard, we turned to journaling and asked ourselves: What do I want to learn or pursue? What do I want to let go of or leave behind? Finally, when called to share, each woman shared the commitment or intention she had made for the month ahead.
Understanding that everyone processes differently, we offered a variety of creative activities for everyone to participate in – or not! Ladies who needed to move their bodies participated in yoga with Verred Hamenachem, those who think best while getting their hands dirty did some indigo dyeing with Barrie Cohen of Beezie Textiles, and women who were looking for a little bit of extra insight sat with Lauren Cucinotta and had their cards read. There was plenty of time for mingling and bonding, too!
To seal our intentions and close the day, we each declared one word that represented the future we wanted to manifest for the month ahead. On the count of three, we blew out our candles in unison. The room erupted into applause and hugs. Slowly, the space emptied out, but, according to Paula, the caring owner of our venue, the beautiful energy from our retreat remained.
If you couldn’t attend our Women’s Lunar Retreat but like what you see, we encourage you to check out our New Moon Readings each month, to host your own new moon circle with help from At The Well, and to get your own set of Rebekah Erev’s Moon Angel Cards for daily inspiration and insight.
All photos by Elena Mudd.