If there was one thing I could teach to every woman I know, it would be moon journaling. I rarely use the words “life-changing,” because I think that’s more than a little cliché, but I can’t help myself here, because IT IS LIFE-CHANGING! It’s a practice that I wish I had started the day I got my first moon cycle. I came across the idea in my late 20s, and since then, I have learned so much about myself that I’m afraid to even think about who I would be if all those magical insights were still buried deep of inside me, and not poured out on my journal pages for me to see.
What is moon journaling? It’s the practice of tracking the subtle (or not so subtle) daily changes in your body, mind, and spirit throughout the course of your moon cycle (menstrual cycle). There are a lot of different ways to moon journal, and you can be as creative as you want with it! After you journal for a couple months is when it starts to get really fun (or freaky sometimes!). As you look back through your journals, you’re looking for patterns in your moods, behavior, thoughts, emotions, physical body, and anything else you happen to notice. Be prepared to be surprised – I definitely was!
(Side note – I cover the ins and outs of moon journaling in my free Guide to Moon Journaling that you can get by signing up for my email newsletter. I go over different styles, what to write about, and how to journal if you don’t have a menstrual cycle for any reason. I’m not going to go over all that here, because the guide is quite comprehensive, so check it out!)
When I started journaling, I discovered patterns that were hiding in plain view that I couldn’t believe I had never noticed. For example, I started to tune into how I felt physically during rock climbing sessions at the gym. In the days leading up to my period, I noticed a pattern of feeling like I’d lost all my strength. I’d get into negative thought spirals, telling myself, “I’m not training hard enough,” or “Something must be wrong with my body,” or “Why can’t I do that route when I just did it last week!? How am I getting weaker?” It would sometimes even turn into obsessive planning about how to fix this “concerning dip in my performance,” as I would think of it. But then the next week, after I’d had my period, I saw that feeling of weakness and failure shift to feelings of invincibility. That same route that I couldn’t climb last week would suddenly feel easy as pie. A few days after my period ended, I noticed I regularly had days where I had so much energy I would go climbing, then go for a run, take a yoga class, and still have energy to burn, so I would go out of my way to walk around town for my errands. When I saw this pattern, it helped me let go of that negative self-talk during my pre-menstrual phase. I could be gentler on myself because I knew it wasn’t something wrong with me – it was a natural rhythm to be respected. And I knew I could look forward to next week when I’d be in a high energy cycle. It also helped me enjoy the high energy part of my cycle even more. Instead of worrying that I was going to “burn myself out” by doing too much, I started opening up to the full experience of joy that came with having that much energy. Through the simple recognition and honoring of this pattern, I became more aligned with myself and was able to achieve a new level of self-care and self-solidarity. To this day, I reap the benefits of that shift in my relationship with myself.
Another life-changing realization I had was that there is a “notorious” day in my cycle. A day where everything falls apart. A day where my most irrational self comes out to play – or throw a fit, more like. A day where things that would normally make me laugh, make me cry. For me, this is usually around day 21 of my cycle. In the past, I had no idea this was even happening. Now, I know when that day is coming, and I watch myself throughout the day for that breakdown that I know could be lurking. And when it comes, I have to laugh (or at least smile…at least, most of the time) through the tears, because it’s so predictable. It’s the Wild Woman/Enchantress energy, and I love her despite her thorns. She carries an energy from me that needs to be expressed and so when I see her, I embrace her, because I know she deserves love, thorns and all. And I can use this insight to take care of myself even better. For example, I can now plan to avoid unpleasant tasks on this day, like choosing to wait a couple more days to call my insurance company and be on hold for an hour.
Here are stories from 4 women in the Wild Moon community who have gained their own insights through this practice of moon journaling and cycle awareness. Don’t expect yourself to feel or learn any of the same things that are written here. This is a perfectly unique journey, and these stories are just for inspiration, not comparison!
Physical Therapist – Eugene, OR
I was completely unaware of my cycle in any context prior to my introduction to moon journaling. I took an estrogen-based birth control pill for nearly 8 years and was almost proud of the lack of connection with my cycle - no cramps, no mood swings, light bleeding, etc. Nothing can stop me, right? Well, thanks to a growing friendship with Bri and delving into Wild Moon, I began to completely question this paradigm. What I was doing was far removed from nature. I decided to get off of birth control pills and see what this whole cycle thing was all about. It was quite the ride at first. My physical, mental, and emotional state fluctuated significantly during the first few months which I was not used to. It wasn’t bad, though. It intuitively felt so right. Thanks to Wild Moon guidance, I felt validation and reassurance with these changes I was experiencing throughout my cycle. It’s okay to feel withdrawn and want to sit quietly and reflect. It’s okay to not force the workout but instead focus on breathing and stretching. And to know you’ll feel that burst of energy again. You can plan for the span of time when you’ll feel more social and want to push yourself physically. It’s now been 2 years with no birth control pills and my cycle has normalized. I no longer experience the intense fluctuations but I respect and appreciate the subtle nuances of my cycle. I trust my intuition and don’t fight what I’m feeling based on societal expectations. Moon journaling and cycle awareness have been life changing!
Artist - St. Louis, MO
I am relatively new to moon journaling. However, in recent years I have become increasingly conscious of my cycle and how it influences me throughout the month (not just during the foggy and intense premenstrual days). As I begin to understand it more and recognize patterns in the way I operate, I perceive it to be somewhat of a collaborator in my behavior and perception. In other words, before I took the time to observe the whole cycle, I felt like it was a force to blindly battle against. For the last few years, my cycle has been very regular, and each stage is a dependable facet to my otherwise chaotic life. Sometimes my observations provide answers to whether I have the bandwidth to take on more or less and I can plan accordingly. In the days following menstruation, I typically have a lot of energy, feel more certain, and experience the sensation of clarity. I have recently learned that this is an ideal opportunity to take larger steps in my creative practice and set aside time for high levels of productivity.
Parks Communications Specialist - Mt. Vernon, WA
At first, I was unsure about moon journaling. I thought things like, “I don’t have time for that,” or “I don’t think this is for me.” I’m so glad that I allowed myself to be more open and to try it, because it has truly changed my life.
I first started with some research on top of what Bri had told me and read the book Wild Power. I was blown away by the things I didn’t know about my own body! Hormones drastically change and correspond to the swing in moods and energy I’ve felt but mainly ignored my whole life? Before moon journaling, I generally would try to plow through each day expecting the same level of energy and thinking negatively of myself when I couldn’t maintain that during certain weeks of my cycle. So now armed with a little more external knowledge, I decided to try moon journaling for a few months to see what I would learn. That few months has now turned into 4 years of regular journaling.
For me, moon journaling has so many benefits. I often share these enthusiastically with other women, and for some I can see the familiar reluctance in their eyes. I think that every woman needs to find the right time to dive in, and I truly hope that every woman takes the chance.
I moon journal in a notebook. At the start of each cycle, I take some spiritual time to slow down and set myself up for the month. I light a candle, might meditate and write out days 1-28 with dates and days of the week. I color code the weeks with the season. That way, I can quickly glance and see what phase it is. Then, throughout the month, I can take quick narrative entries. I can flip back through and see if there were similarities on certain days pretty easily. It is wild that sometimes I will write seemingly unrelated things like “Really thirsty all day” and then looking back I wrote the same thing on the same day multiple times! Super interesting. I also write the days of my cycle in my agenda so when I am planning my schedule I can see what type of energy I can expect. This way I can mentally prepare ahead of social events or plan time for destressing.
Overall, the greatest benefit for me has been for my mental health. Instead of thinking I am crazy or feeling guilty for feeling down or tired, I can use the power of my observations of my body and mind to build myself up. I am tired because of hormones - try to go to bed early and say no to things that are too much. I am feeling guilty, but I always feel guilty this week - this too shall pass and I know I’m not really a bad person. I am craving carbs so bad - You always crave carbs this week so plan ahead and allow yourself a tasty treat with no hard feelings.
Speaking with my partner about my experiences and observations has been a benefit I didn’t expect. He can now help me through tough times and understands that women do not have steady sun energy like men do - we are cyclical beings. He knows that when I am angry or sad, it is not anything to do with him - but he can support me a little extra to get through.
Patterns I’ve noticed:
I tend to not have the energy to prepare elaborate meals during my inner autumn. I used to get down on myself and think it was a bad thing that I was not eating as healthy. Now I try to just accept and plan very simple meals, or buy some frozen or dry options in the pantry ahead of time, or lean on my partner to cook more during this time.
I can get pretty self-deprecating during my inner autumn too. I question decisions, feel guilty, feel like a bad employee or person and can focus on only negative things. I express these thoughts to my partner, and he is able to comfort me and remind me that this is a pattern. This helps me mentally recognize that these negative thoughts might not be true. Journaling about them is a good way to get them out, and I try to plan extra time for rest, and destressing during this week (like a hot bath, early bedtime, or a movie night with a treat).
I tend to not journal as much during spring/summer. I have too much social energy and tend to be busy socializing, working on projects, exercising, adventuring or cleaning! I would feel bad that I could never find the time for this, but after noticing the monthly pattern, I now accept it and realize that it’s ok. Journaling helps me cope during inner autumn and winter more - so that is when I need it most.
Usually on day 6 I feel a lot of anxiety. I was blown away when I noticed the pattern. I think the transition from taking it easy and slow during inner winter into starting to feel the expansive and busy energy of inner spring can leave me feeling drained. I try not to be too aggressive day 6/7 now and be forgiving if I am not as productive at work that day.
For me, I can usually feel a stark shift in energy day 18/19. It was so cool to learn that that corresponds scientifically with a shift in hormones! Moon journaling helped me feel more confident and to trust my observations.
Basket Weaver - Eugene, OR
Bri introduced me to moon journaling a few years ago, after I came off hormonal birth control (Mirena IUD and Nexplanon arm implant). I had felt disconnected from my body’s natural rhythms for so many years, but that feeling quickly dissipated as I began my nightly journal practice. After a few cycles, I started noticing interesting patterns; each season within my cycle brought unique strengths and challenges. For example, my inner autumn (luteal phase) usually brought intensely heightened intuition and creativity, and my inner summer (ovulatory phase) was the best time to begin weaving a new basket. Observing these patterns inspired me to plan my schedule - when possible - to better align with the energy of each season. This has been an absolute game-changer for my wellness, relationships, and career. (Since I’m not currently menstruating, my journal has been anchored solely by the moon’s cycle. This has brought me so much comfort and clarity amidst the many uncertainties of this time.) Moon journaling has become such a potent and cherished ritual in my life, and has introduced me to the most empowered version of myself that I’ve ever met.
Inspired to see what you can learn about yourself? Or have you already learned something amazing about yourself from moon journaling? Let us know down below!