The New Moon Worship Day: Which One?
You may be surprised to know that there are actually quite a few different methods currently being used by various groups around the world for determining the time of the new moon worship day. If you are interested in keeping this day chances are you are using one of these methods. And if you are using a different method not listed here we would definitely like to hear from you.
I started this page with about 4 or 5 different methods. The number now stands at about 8! And there may still be a few others out there. So this will most likely be a work in progress with no doubt some numerical errors. But it should make for a most interesting read.
So just what are all these different methods currently being used? With some simplification the different approaches can probably fit one of the following methods:
Method 1. The first sliver of the waxing crescent. This approach appears to be the most common. Well, at least in print. Stated to be
the Jewish approach on most of their websites. And the moslems also use this one even to the point of having people flying around in planes
at the time of their new moon seeking a visual sighting. And apparently Wiccans??
Curiously this page shows a new moon and dark moon pic. And the new moon pic is clearly a waxing crescent.
Exceptionally clear on this page. Ignore the moon phases chart. Scroll down to the new moon pic.
Method 2. The Jewish calender. Slightly different to the first sliver of the waxing crescent as their calendar construction uses a fixed length for the lunar month whereas the moon tends to wander a bit through the year giving varying lengths for the lunar synodic month. As such, the new moon worship days occurring in the Jewish calendar do not strictly fall on the time of the waxing crescent. For example, 2013 showed half the Jewish new moon days falling on the same day as the astronomical new moon and a few of them even fell BEFORE the day of the astronomical new moon.
Note: just in case you are not getting the point here, the waxing crescent always occurs AFTER the astronomical new moon.
Method 3. Conjunction—The conjunction gives the exact time of the astronomical new moon; the exact point in time when the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun. Probably a logical point to start the month as this is as dark as the Moon is supposed to get. Possibly a few different views on this and one group extrapolates the conjunction to get the following morning. See Method 5.
Method 4. Day of astronomical new moon OR Conjunction 2? Again following the conjunction approach but here just using the day on your wall calendar for when the astronomical new moon occurs.
Users: Those interested in astrology. Pagans, Wiccans? For Yoga see Method 8. No for Pagans see Method 6. Also for Wiccans see Method 1.
Well this is weird. Does this mean Method 4 is being abandoned with Yoga going to 8, Pagans to 6 and Wiccans to 1??
Actually not completely with Yoga going by the Hindu calendar with new moon days occurring on or one day before the Astronomical new moon. So it's close but see 8 for Yoga.
Still good. It's Astrology groups.
Note: Methods 3 and 4 are very similar but there are some subtle differences and these are more noticable in the following comparisons section.
Method 5. Day after astronomical new moon OR Conjunction 3? One group uses the morning after the conjunction at dawn. And apparently this is different to sunrise? We probably can consider this to be the same. This is curious as this bunch go by the sunset to sunset day construction. Also they support the lunar sabbath approach.
Method 6. The beginning of the dark phase of the Moon. Or the beginning of the astronomical new moon phase. Similar to conjunction approach but at the beginning of the phase whereas the conjunction would occur at the very middle of the phase.
And apparently Pagans as they take the whole phase for the new moon, "Span: Day of, to three and a half days later."
Similarly for the full moon, "Span: Fourteen days to seventeen and a half days after the New Moon.
Method 7. The full moon. Yes, I have actually run across a group that believe the full moon is the new moon of the Bible. Interesting. And they seem to have a list of reasons for their belief. They also have some link with the Creation Calendar bunch.
Further investigation of this site shows that they are supporting the lunar sabbath approach.
but see my thoughts below in the Further information... section.
Method 8. Hindu new moon: "the period of time prior to the point the moon becomes exactly new/full is considered as the ‘moon day’ (called a tithi in Indian Astrology)." Uses "an Indian astrology system of calculation (rather than a simple astronomy calculation)." Some Yoga groups and obviously all Hindus. Actually maybe all yoga groups! See Day Types points 5 and 6.
Note comparison with a Hindu calendar for 2017 showed their new moon days consistently on or one day before the Astronomical new moon date.
Jan 28 27
Feb 26 26
Mar 28 27
Apr 26 26
May 25 25
Jun 24 23
Jul 23 23
Aug 21 21
Sep 20 20
Oct 19 19
Nov 18 18
Dec 18 17
I am aware of basically two day constructs but there could be others. And we have to mention these before looking at any numerical comparisons.
1. The general common day around the world: from midnight to midnight.
2. Bible construct: from sunset to sunset. Jews and some Christian groups. And Muslims apparently.
Well there appears to be a third we could add. And this one bounces out of Method 5 above...
3. Sunrise to sunrise. [or dawn?]. Anyway the group taking this approach consider the new moon day to start at dawn [or just before sunrise?] the following day. In other words they are using a construct of sunrise to sunrise for the day [or dawn to dawn?]. And if anyone wants to split hairs on this we can just add a new construct: dawn to dawn.
And apparently some [or all?] Yoga groups. And the Hindu calendar and astrology, which the Yoga groups are following. This one's a new addition. See Day Types, points 5 and 6.
I am aware of basically four day types but there could be more.
1. Just an ordinary day. No different to any other. Anything can be done, work etc.
2. A worship day. This can probably mean different things to different people. We mean a day you may set aside for worship but anything else can intrude on the day if you had to do work or something else etc.
3. Pseudo-sabbath day. Not sure of the correct name for this but some work activities are allowed but not all. Probably related to some Jewish festivals.
4. Sabbath day. Complete rest from work or business activities. No work or business activities are to be undertaken during the period of 24 hours.
Outside Christianity/Judaism these sorts of days may have different names but the activity allowances outlined are probably pretty similar.
5. A rest day from certain activities but not necessarily work. This one's a late comer and is from outside Christianity—actually yoga. Yoga is not to be done on the day of the New Moon. I ran across this one completely by accident but the reasons given show a very fascinating dimension to yoga that many people may not be aware of. Christians who practice yoga should find this interesting. Covered in more detail in our Reason section below.
6. Yoga again. But while one or more groups treat the day as to avoid yoga activities, the rest don't. Looks like the rest believe in celebrating the new moon day with special yoga poses!
For this section we have to be aware that two day constructs are used. Most Jewish and some Christian groups will use the sunset to sunset construct. Also some others like muslims perhaps. Everyone else will probably go by the common midnight to midnight construct. And these two constructs lead to differing results in the day chosen.
Jewish and Christian groups using the sunset construct may choose two new moon days when the centre of the day falls near a sunset. Also Jewish and some Christian groups will use Jerusalem as the central point for worship day determination. It's possible various groups adjusting for UTC/GMT times around the globe may come to different results. Just keep all this in mind as we proceed.
These are our assumptions and there is no guarantee that any group will follow these approaches. But they are the most common.
So using these constructs lets try some days and see how all these different methods line up.
8 July 2013, 6 August 2013, and 26 July 2014 look interesting. These are astronomical new moon UTC dates.
Some groups may work these a little differently so consider the following table values as an approximate guide. And there are more groups than methods. So here we go...
Note: the headings/subheadings Midnight/Sunset/Sunrise refer to the day construct being used.
6 August 2013 21:51 UTC/GMT, 7 August 00:51am Jerusalem
26 July 2014 22:42 UTC/GMT, 27 July 1:42am Jerusalem
* depends which Islamic calendar you look at. These can vary by one day quite easily.
2013 was a weird year for the Jewish calendar. Half the Jewish Rosh Chodesh [New Moon] days fell on the same day as the astronomical new moon. Ordinarily you would expect the Jewish new moon day to be approximately 1.5 days past the time of the astronomical new moon.
But the Jewish calendar is constructed using a fixed length for the lunar month whereas the true lunar synodic month wanders a bit through the year with varying lengths. As a result the Jewish calendar will some years get a bit out of sync with the actual lunar months. And as you can see from the above dates the Jewish calendar is not strictly following the waxing crescent at all. Nor strictly after the astronomical new moon either.
Well we really couldn't finish this page without mentioning some of the different reasons or uses of the day. These are the ones I am aware of and
there are probably some others. This is very similar to day types but just goes a bit deeper. Just what the day is for.
1. A general holiday and specifically for women and they would get together on this day and sing songs etc. May not be treated like a sabbath rest but could be.
2. A worship day and kept strictly as a sabbath rest: no business or work activities of any type to be undertaken.
3. A worship day for giving thanks to the Lord for all the joy and happiness that He is giving us each lunar month. Not a sabbath rest but you could certainly rest on the day if you wanted to.
4. A worship day for the new moon festival of humility. OK so what is it? The ordinance of humility is kept by some church groups as the ceremony of footwashing. This is usually done before partaking of the Lord's supper. So this group believes these should be undertaken on a monthly basis on the new moon worship day. The day is also probably kept strictly as a sabbath rest. There is nothing wrong with these activities on this day but there is no clear command in the Bible as to the frequency and exact day these are to be undertaken.
5. A rest day from certain activities but not necessarily work. For example, some Yoga practitioners and students:
Why we don't practice on Moon Days
It’s part of the traditional approach to take time off during the new and full moons. This is partly due to the Indian astrological belief that it is not auspicious to do certain things on moon days. Because we are part of this lineage, we have chosen to honor the moon days in this way.
Ashtanga Yoga Library
Through practising Ashtanga Yoga we become aware of our own tendencies and the natural cycles that occur within and around us. Hopefully, over time we are able to function more harmoniously with ourselves and with the environment we live in.
Observing moon days connects us with the functioning of the universe and makes us aware of the effect the universal energy can have on us individually.
The phases of the moon are felt throughout the natural world and humans, being 70% water are subject to the moon's gravitational pull at different times of the month, giving rise to different energetic experiences.
The full moon is a time of heightened energy, of strength and abundance. It is likened to the end of the inhale when the upward force of prana is at its fullest. Whilst the new moon is a time of calmness, of introspection, the small pause before growth and expansion. It is likened to the end of the exhale, when the downward force of apana is greatest.
Practicing Ashtanga Yoga over time makes us more attuned to natural cycles. Observing moon days is one way to recognize and honour the rhythms of nature so we can live in greater harmony with it.
Because of these differences in energies it is advised to take rest from your yoga practice. It is also said that practitioners are more likely to injure themselves on moon days...therefore best to rest!
So a belief in Indian astrology is necessary for support of these views. And having another look at the last page I found an extremely curious comment. The restraint mentioned is not engaging in yoga activities on moon days—new or full moons. Here's the quote:
Observing this restraint to practice can be helpful in not becoming too attached to practice and routine. It also provides time for the body to rest and recuperate.
So the Yoga view is that the day is for rest and recuperation. In contrast, the Christian weekly worship day is for this [apart from worship]. Rest from work and business activities.
Note our other pages investigate this dimension of the Bible new moon worship day and conclude the day is not a sabbath rest day. It is for something completely different. Something to think about.
And this just gets more interesting. Note the above quote mentioning the forces of prana and apana:
Whilst the new moon is a time of calmness, of introspection, the small pause before growth and expansion. It is likened to the end of the exhale, when the downward force of apana is greatest.
A Yoga page gives some information about these forces:
Through their exploration of the body and breath, the ancient yogis discovered that prana (life force energy) could be further subdivided into energetic components they called Vayus (winds). ...
The two most important Vayus are Prana-Vayu and Apana-Vayu. Prana–Vayu is situated in the head, centered in the third-eye, and its energy pervades the chest region.
The 5 Vayus
The third eye?
The third eye (also called the mind's eye or inner eye) is a mystical and esoteric concept of a speculative invisible eye, usually depicted as located on the forehead, which provides perception beyond ordinary sight.
In Indian spiritual traditions, the third eye refers to the ajna (or brow) chakra. The third eye refers to the gate that leads to the inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness. In spirituality, the third eye often symbolizes a state of enlightenment. The third eye is often associated with religious visions, clairvoyance, the ability to observe chakras and auras, precognition, and out-of-body experiences. People who are said to have the capacity to utilize their third eyes are sometimes known as seers. In Hinduism and Buddhism, the third eye is said to be located around the middle of the forehead, slightly above the junction of the eyebrows ...
A Cambodian Shiva head showing a third eye.
A Cambodian Shiva head showing a third eye.
A Cambodian Shiva head showing a third eye.
According to the gnostic teachings of Samael Aun Weor, the third eye is referenced symbolically and functionally several times in the Book of Revelation, which as a whole is seen as a work describing Kundalini and its progression upwards through three and a half turns and seven chakras. This interpretation equates the third eye with the sixth of the seven churches of Asia detailed therein, the Church of Philadelphia.
In Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, a chakra is thought to be an energy point or node in the subtle body. Chakras are believed to be part of the subtle body, not the physical body, and as such, are the meeting points of the subtle (non-physical) energy channels called nadi. Nadi are believed to be channels in the subtle body through which the life force (prana) (non-physical) or vital energy (non-physical) moves. Various scriptural texts* and teachings present a different number of chakras. It's believed that there are many chakras in the subtle human body, according to the tantric texts, but there are seven chakras that are considered to be the most important ones.
* Not from the Bible.
And some more...
Metabolism Boosting Yoga.
Elena Brower, co-owner of Virayoga, one of the best yoga studios in NYC, shows us a simple metabolism boosting series.
This sequence combines Kundalini yoga with some Hatha postures to warm us up and boost our metabolism.
Bring your prayer hands up to your forehead, and place your thumbs on your third eye point, in the middle of your forehead.
One way to bring the third eye chakra back into alignment is through physically moving the body in ways that target the third eye region. For one thing, yoga asanas like fish pose, shoulder stand, and child’s pose can be conducive to moving energy through this area.
Even consider a sound meditation: by slowly verbalizing the seed syllable, "aum," the vibrational energy targets the third eye region to open energy flow there. (Note that this syllable is pronounced with an "oh" vowel sound, not an "ow" vowel sound.)
Mispronounced, misunderstood, and misconstrued, the sacred Om, or Aum, is the root of all mantras and contains all the sounds in the world. Yogis believe the Aum is one and the same as Brahman, or the ultimate reality underlying the phenomenal world.
According to yogis, the sound and form of Aum is the same as God. The Rig Veda says, "In the beginning was Brahman, with whom was the Word, and the Word was truly the supreme Brahman."
Gyan Mudra is the mudra for the Third eye chakra. It is the most common mudra used in yoga.
Inhale and on your exhale, chant AUM.
Practice Gyan mudra for 15 to 45 minutes per day.
Another mudra for the Ajna chakra is the Nirvana mudra.
Bow and touch your third eye point with your index fingers.
Inhale and on your exhale, chant AUM.
Hold for 1 to 2 minutes.
Practice every day.
For Christians, there are some pretty serious problems here.
And considering that gnostic writings from the early centuries were rejected by the growing Christian church and not accepted as part of the Bible canon and hence are not in the collection of writings that we now have as the New Testament, it would be a reasonable conclusion for Christians engaging in yoga activities to give all of this some thought.
I have found a good answer to the new or full moon at site:
see their heading "Does ‘New’ Mean ‘Full’?"
this site supports the waxing crescent view.
For my thoughts on the Creation Calendar and lunar sabbath theory see my page.
And the above Yoga material has now been recompiled and amended and expanded with a lot more information to form its own stand alone page. Enjoy.
E-mail: stephen [at] chodesh.info
Last revised: 5 Oct 2021.
Construction: Jan 2014.
Page design/construction Stephen Buckley 2014.