Last Friday, I made the spontaneous decision to go to a moon ceremony. I had never been to one before and probably never would have gone had it not been for my good friend Dee. She called me up to invite me, and when I asked her what a moon ceremony was, she said, “I don’t know, but it sounds fun and we might go in a hot tub!” Energized by Dee’s enthusiasm and intrigued by the possibility of a hot tub dip in the middle of March, I decided to go. Through the snow and wind, Dee and I ventured over the Newport bridge to the home of Shaelyn Cataldo—the moon mama herself.
Shaelyn is an author and a holistic health coach with training in reiki, JourneyDance, along with many other types of energy healing tools. She is a loving mother and a consciously healing child, spreading her maternal love not only to her family and herself, but also to every person she welcomes into her home. She believes in the power of the sacral chakra—the womb space— and she believes every woman deserves the right to reconnect with this space, which is why every month, on the Friday before the full moon, she graciously opens up her home in North Kingstown, Rhode Island to invite women of all backgrounds to come together and celebrate the moon’s divine feminine energy.
Upon entering Shaelyn’s house, I found myself standing in a dimly lit, octangular room, surrounded by potted plants and large windows that nearly reached the floor. Along the perimeter of the room, twenty or so meditation chairs guided guests in to cozy up with blankets, pillows, and a candle-lit center rich with tarot cards and astrology books. I smiled, but quickly looked around the room for another door. As tempting as the ceremony space was, I first needed to empty my nervous-from-the-treacherous-drive bladder before I could do any sort of womb healing. I followed Shaelyn’s kind directions as she showed me to the bathroom and invited me to grab snacks and tea on my way back through the kitchen. After cleansing and healing my bladder space, I joined Dee in the kitchen to eat a couple pieces of cacao fudge and make a cup of rose tea before joining the rest of the women in the meditation circle.
Shaelyn started out the ceremony with a little background on the “worm moon” and what this month’s full moon represents. The “worm moon” signifies the softening of the hard winter soil and the emergence of life wiggling up (worms!), as well as warmer weather rolling in. Despite the ironically wintry weather Friday evening, we were all asked to summon in the moon’s energy and express what we all personally wanted to warm or soften in our lives. In what ways were we being too critical on ourselves? Hard on others? What areas in our lives could benefit from more flexibility and give? Less rigidity and harshness? We went around the room, taking turns introducing ourselves and what it was we wanted to soften in our lives. Although our answers differed greatly, we all related on some sort of level to each other. The vibration of the room started to rise.
After introductions, Shaelyn had everyone close their eyes and begin breathing into the womb space. She had us picture our breath coming up from the ground and filling our pelvic region in a figure eight shape, nourishing the space with the sign of infinity. As we breathed in and out, reconnecting our energy with our bodies and aligning our minds with our breath, Shaelyn explained the power of the womb space. This sacral chakra region is the main energy source for women. It is where we gain our creative energy, our sexuality, our intuition, our spirituality, and our wisdom. It is also where many women hold and store pain and trauma. For centuries, women have been shamed, controlled, and cut off from accessing their divine feminine source of power. Shaelyn considers it her calling to help women reconnect with this power source and heal the pain. She urged us beyond breath work to relax our jaws and release sound. At first, feeling timid, I let out barely audible sounds, but as the room began to fill with moans, sighs, melodic tones, and screams, I let myself go too. Soon, the voices began to merge and form one beautiful angelic sound—a symphony of female expression and liberation. I lost track of time within this highly spiritual moment. As the voices gradually came back down and faded away, I was surprised to find tears in my eyes—happy tears. I felt high. I felt closer to unconditional love for myself and for a room full of women than I have ever felt before.
While I could have spent the entire evening singing out the pain and beauty from the room’s connected womb space, I was excited to discover what other activities Shaelyn had in store for us. Going along with the theme of the “worm moon”, Shaelyn let go of any kind of schedule or plan and simply allowed the women in the room to share their gifts, wisdom, pain, and creativity with each other. One girl shared a poem. Another girl shared her healing wisdom from her private counseling practice. Dee expressed her anger out into a pillow, while another girl thanked her for her vulnerability and proceeded to share her current personal struggles as well.
As we grew closer to each other, letting our walls down, the group began to transition back into song. A girl named Jess pulled out her guitar at one point and began to play a few songs while a couple others taught everyone else the lyrics. We also sang a song circle chant called “Wise in the Ways” with nothing but a drum to keep the beat. I found this chant particularly powerful because it summoned up a tribal sort of energy that immediately grounded me to a series of ancient, collective roots. I didn’t tear up this time, but I did feel something old and powerful stir inside. I desperately wanted to move outside and dance underneath the stars. That is, until I looked out the window and noticed that the snow was still coming down.
By the end of the moon ceremony, Shaelyn did not disappoint and did indeed have a hot tub bubbling and ready for anyone who wanted to take a dip, but I already felt happily flooded with warmth and love. As the rest of the group dispersed either toward the hot tub or out toward the cars to head home, Dee and I hung around with Shaelyn for a little while longer to get to know her on a deeper level. It turns out the reason why Shaelyn is so passionately devoted to female love and empowerment is because she did not receive this kind of support as a child. Her mother didn't provide the unconditional sort of love she needed--the kind of love we all deserve--and so she has made it her mission to be the open-arms, open-hearted sort of mom she believes every woman needs. She wants to spread this kind of sisterly love to all women, which is why she calls her moon ceremony group "Moon Mamas Monthly Sacred Circle." She believes we all have the power to become moon mamas: loving mothers to ourselves, our planet, and each other.
After returning home and allowing the divine energy to flood over the weekend, I ventured out to third beach in Middletown, Rhode Island Monday night to witness the full "worm moon" in all its brilliance. As I stood there along the shore, feeling the bizarrely warm breeze off the water and gazing into the mesmerizing beam of light across the waves, I realized something strange--I hadn't been to the beach to check out the moon in over a year. It comes up every night, not always visibly, but still, somewhere behind a cloud or shrouded in shadow, it's always there. I stared into the mysterious glow of the moon, thinking about myself--my heart, my womb, my creativity, love, and power. There have been moments in my life where I have felt void of each, but I think in truth, they have all always been there. Sometimes all it takes is a step outside yourself to remember who you truly are. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call from a friend and the possibility of a hot tub to remember the moon.
For more information on Shaelyn Cataldo and her moon ceremonies, check out her website.