Photograph of Sarah by Sisilia Piring
I do believe spirituality requires some component of discipline, but it mustn’t feel like a chore.
LA-based Sarah Gottesdiener describes herself as a “artist, designer, art director, tarot reader, rescue dog haver, tee-shirt slinger, micro business owner, teacher and writer”. She’s also the creator of the phenomenally popular Many Moons workbook. You may also have come across Sarah via her fantastic feminist web store, Modern Women, spotted her in my Autostraddle column, Follow Your Arrow, or enjoyed her monthly Many Moons column on the Little Red Tarot blog. (So yeah. One hard-working woman!)
If you’ve ever used the Many Moons workbook, you’ll be familiar with the quality of the writing, the diversity of the contributors, the range of perspectives and practices shared within. The book follows the moon’s movements faithfully through six months of every year, bringing together astrology, mythology, personal spirituality, self-care, magic, ritual and more, along with handy tools like a basic lunar calendar.
Every six months, Sarah brings together a selection of brilliant writers – Missy Rhysing, Esmé Weijun Wang, Jessica Lanyadoo, Diego Basdeo and many more have added their wisdom to the current edition – creating a book that offers multiple and diverse perspectives on the ever-shifting energies of the moon, stars and planets. I’ve seen other lunar journals, calendars and guidance tools on offer, but for me, Sarah’s creation really meets a specific need.
Both the Moon and the Tarot feel similar to me as we are dealing with phases, cycles of being, feeling, and evolution. There are peaks and there are valleys, both are never ending.
Sarah took some time out to chat with us about the calling that led to the creation of Many Moons, and her hopes, dreams and intentions that lie behind the book. I hope you’ll enjoy and be inspired by the insights Sarah shares here!
Hi Sarah! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. I wonder if you could introduce Many Moons in terms of your intentions for it? How do you envisage folks using it, and what do you feel people might gain from working with it?
The purpose of the book is many. First, I want to empower others. To take notice of their own practices, processes, and power. To start and continue living and manifesting the life of their dreams. To give them permission to do whatever they want that is in service to their highest selves and the intimacies of their souls’ songs. I wish for this book to offer solace and cheerleading to those who might be going through a hard time. I wish for this book to provide insight and aid to those wanting to bolster their intuition and their will. I want all humans, particularly those who have been marginalized, abused, or othered, to feel free, to know their beautiful value, and to continue healing. I envision this book being another tool in their toolkit of living.
People can use this book in a follow-along fashion or not. There are many, many suggestions for spell work, rituals, Tarot spreads, journalling and self-inquiry, and practical life tips thrown in as well. You can go back the entries at a later date and try a spell or technique if it calls to you. You can read a passage and see if it sparks your own ideas about ritual or your own spells or Tarot spreads. It is all up to the reader! Ideally, if you are truly interested in working through blocks and creating positive change in your life, the suggestion is to work through at least one Full Moon Phase Cycle. (If not two or three.) I do believe spirituality requires some component of discipline, but it mustn’t feel like a chore.
A very small, but potent way to use the workbook is to take note of what you are feeling – physically, mentally, emotionally – during a particular Moon Phase. You then might begin to notice patterns: you feel drained during a New Moon, or very excited or creative during a Full Moon. You can use and utilize this energy practically in your own life. Maybe you don’t want to schedule a huge work trip during times of the Moon Cycle when you are exhausted: or if you absolutely must, then maybe you double-down on your rest or sleep or self-care during this time. The workbook is meant to be used in conjunction in your own processes, slipped in however it feels natural and nourishing.
How about you personally – do you use the book, or is putting it together enough for you?
I absolutely use the book. After the first version ever came out, I was going through a very hard time for about six months. In particular, reading the affirmations gave me so much solace. It was almost as if my future self knew I needed this book!
Every spell type or ritual I’ve written in the book I have done. Some spells in the books are some of my favorite, and ones that I go back to. There’s mirror magic and money magic and candle magic and recipes and meditations and different spreads and affirmations and lots of other stuff to get you excited about co-creating with the universe!
Can you tell us a bit about how tarot specifically comes in to all of this?
My metaphysical background is as a Tarot reader. I’ve been reading and studying cards for 12 years and reading professionally for four. I’m a total Tarot nerd, probably because I’m fascinated by human psychology.
Throughout much of the workbook I reference Tarot Cards, ways to interpret them, and how we might use these archetypes in our Moon magic. Both the Moon and the Tarot feel similar to me as we are dealing with phases, cycles of being, feeling, and evolution. There are peaks and there are valleys, both are never ending. Both the Tarot and the Moon work on the interior and exterior. Both can be used as mirrors, both can be used for methods of going deeper. They remind us that time is a spiral. And there’s so much about the Tarot and the Moon that is so wildly magical and mysterious.
You’ve described making the Many Moons Workbook as a ‘calling’. What does that mean, for you?
A calling, to me, is something you don’t necessarily want to do, but feel like you must. I heard the message to write these workbooks and I followed it. (Kind of like the Judgement Card in the traditional Rider-Waite-Colman-Smith Major Arcana.) The message to write these workbooks did not make any kind of logical sense in my life in terms of how it links up with any career path or goals. Meaning: I didn’t set out to have a career as a self-help and spirituality writer.
This workbook does follow in line with my life’s projects of helping others and being of service. I’ve gotten many, many messages about how these workbooks have changed people’s lives, and that feels really amazing and just what spirit had in mind when she gave me the instructions to create this project.
I write this book nights and weekends, after I do my “day job” as a small business owner/graphic designer and Tarot reader. It is a very time-consuming project; I’ve had to sacrifice a large portion of my free time to do so. The message was to write these for three years, and that is what I am doing. Ending the project will bring both sadness and relief: there are so many other books I want to write and projects I want to bring out into the world, I don’t have the time to do them AND write these books at the same time.
What is the most important lesson your moon work has taught you?
To love myself, no matter what, and that we are all infinitely capable and powerful beings.
Photograph of Sarah by Sisilia Piring
Do you have a ‘favourite’ or most helpful phase or cycle?
It changes. My all-time favorite time is the Waning Moon phase. That is the time I feel the most at home, as this was the phase the Moon was in when I was born. But I “feel” the best and have the most energy during the Waxing Moon Phase, and I’m trying to experiment with the New Moon phase more.
In general, utilizing the basic principles from this cyclical work helps me out when I am stuck or stagnant. I ask myself: what needs to get cleared away or dealt with so that I must bring in new or different energies? Where must I appreciate and sink into my life with gentle mindfulness? What are my truths now? Where is my energy flowing? Where must I follow my intuition?, and so forth.
What is your hope for the future of the workbook?
My hope is that it continues to help people remain empowered and connected to their own cycles, the cycles of nature and the earth, and the connections between all those on it. Most likely in the next year or two, as this project is wrapping up, I will create a book one can use at any time, as well as on-line courses around this subject matter. In general, I wish for everyone to acknowledge and work with their vast strength and their unique voice. I want the spiritual community to embrace more inclusion, and I’m interested in the intersections between queer theory, feminism, and spirituality.
Want more from Sarah? Her musings on tonight’s full moon in Sagittarius offer an astrological and mythological take on current lunar energy, along with ideas for celebration and self-reflection prompts. Or check out the entire Many Moons archive, in which every full moon she shares an extract from the current workbook.
Vol 2 covers the second part of 2017: July-December
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