Written by Alex Myles
In Buddhism, the full moon in May is called the Wesak Moon. The Wesak Moon is known as the celebration of Vesak (Buddha Day) in Buddhist traditions, and it is one of the most significant and auspicious festivals of the Buddhist year. It takes place on the fourth full moon of the Chinese lunar calendar, and this year it falls on May 10th.
Vesak is a celebration of Buddha’s journey, which encompasses his birth, nirvana (attainment of enlightenment), and parinirvana (ascent/death). Theravadan Buddhists believe that all three of these events occurred on the same day.
In Buddhism, this full moon is believed to be the most powerful one of the year, as according to metaphysical tradition the Buddha returns to the Wesak Valley in the Himalayas once a year to bring spiritual energy and a new wave of awakening light that glows the next 12 months.
Buddhists all over the world hold the moon in high regard, as they believe it is a symbol of pure consciousness, and also that it controls the water that circulates through Earth, sustaining all living creatures. In many Buddhist countries, full moon and new moon days are public holidays, which gives Buddhists the opportunity to observe the eight precepts, focus on spiritual development, and to practice meditation. On these holidays, many of the lay people spend their time at the beach to appreciate the water, or they gather at a monastery to hear the story of the Buddha’s life and wash sacred Buddha images.
The moon corresponds with the element water and its gravitational push and pull encourages fluidity, balance, and harmony. Full moons gift us time to connect with the Earth’s oceans, as well as the powerful inner ocean of water that is contained within our own human bodies.
Water represents movement, as it is in constant flow. It is soothing, calming, and cleansing, and when used in healing ceremonies it promotes tranquility, clarity, reflection, assists with a transformational awakening, and also allows the dissipation of emotional and mental resistance and tension.
Vesak is the perfect opportunity to take time out from our busy schedules and devote consideration to how we are interconnected to everything that exists on Earth, to try to diligently seek truth, and to pay attention to what is currently occurring in our lives, as the meaning of the word “Buddha” is “one who is awake.”
In doing so we can cleanse and clear the residue of old negative energies and plant new metaphorical seeds to manifest the emotional, mental, and spiritual intentions that we can then nurture and reap throughout the year.
A full moon can feel like the end of a chapter or the completion of a significant phase in our lives, as it brings closure, change, rebirth, as well as being a great manifestation of something new. It is a time where we can reflect on what no longer serves us so that, with gratitude, we can release old energy and create clean space to begin anew.
The moon also represents creativity, emotions, intuition, the mind, sensitivity, and our divine feminine energy. Full moons are empowering opportunities that help us calm our senses and achieve spiritual clarity, peace, and freedom.
Each full moon has a different energetic feel to it, and any ritual we do will draw on the essence of the vibration sensed in the atmosphere. Therefore it is important to slow ourselves down so that we can feel at one with the universe.
Observing and attuning to nature’s cycles and the rhythms of the universe stirs the energy within us and keeps us moving along with the momentum of the universe’s harmonic ebb and flow.
Energy builds during a full moon phase, and the surging energy we feel from it can be used as a catalyst to help our intentions be planted, affirmed, grow, and manifest.
On full moon, as well as the two days before and two days after, the illumination of the moon causes everything to feel magnified. Therefore, as many Buddhists believe, the Wesak Moon is the most potent moon of the year, and we can tune in to the high, spiritual energy and start a fresh ritual to shed what no longer serves us, declare our intentions, and honor our connection with the moon and the universe we exist within.
Rituals are ceremonies that show symbolic action by marking the transformational moment that we consciously choose peace and make the decision to release and purge any behaviors, circumstances, or attitudes that have caused us difficulties. They are also powerful acts that support us in gathering the strength required to let go of relationships or situations that we have become entangled in that are causing harm or dysfunction.
To perform a ritual you will need:
- A cushion or yoga mat.
- A cloth or blanket to place your items upon.
- Candles, matches, sage, incense, or Palo Santo wood.
- Crystals, rocks, stones, or totems.
- Photos or mementos that relate to the situation you would like to cleanse and release the energy of.
After a cleansing bath (preferably a salt bath), head outdoors—if possible somewhere near water, after dark on the evening of the full moon. When you arrive at a spot that you feel sacredly at ease in, gently shake your limbs or perform an energy clearing dance to release any negative energy and built up tension. Lay the cloth out in front of you and place your symbolic items on it. Light the sage, candles, incense or Palo Santo, ensuring they are placed on a fireproof dish. The burning of any of these items is a ceremonial way of clearing negative energies, so that the ritual is purified. Either stand or sit cross-legged, whichever feels more comfortable. Ground and center yourself by taking deep, cleansing breaths and then, gazing at the enchanting moon to absorb and embrace the energy radiating from it, lift both arms toward the sky.
When you feel ready, softly and calmly chant an affirmation of your choice that directly relates to the circumstances you want to cleanse, clear, heal, and release. (One example is: “On this powerful full moon, I release everything that no longer serves me.”) If preferred, add a name or a word that has something to do with your situation to the mantra, depending on what feels most comfortable. For example: “I compassionately release my connection to…” or, “Under the light of the moon I lovingly sever energetic ties to…”Keep repeating the mantra for as long as you feel necessary.
When finished, sit down, or lie on the earth below you, feeling thoroughly supported by it, and allow the moon’s glow to infuse your mind, body, and spirit. Close the ceremony by offering out gratitude to the moon, while giving thanks to all universal energy. Practicing rituals allows us to meaningfully affirm intentions so that they become accepted in our hearts and minds, along with acknowledging and honoring our connection to all living things, and appreciating our place in the magnificent web of life.