People haven’t always relied on the 365-day calendar to keep track of time.
Centuries ago, early Native American tribes christened each full moon of the month based on the activities of the tribe and/or the flora or fauna active during the season the full moon takes place.
This article explores the symbolism and spiritual meaning of the Wolf Moon, as well as why it earned that name, how to honor the January full moon, tips to decorate your altar with appropriate colors and crystals, and a list of simple ritual ideas.
The Wolf Moon is also sometimes referred to as the Old Moon or Spirit Moon.
When Is the Wolf Moon?
The Wolf Moon falls in January and is welcomed as the first full moon of the new year. It comes after the Cold Moon, which falls near the winter solstice, and the Snow Moon, which occurs in the harshest period of the season.
This year, the full Wolf Moon will reach its peak on Friday, January 6, 2023 at 6:08 p.m. ET.
Wolf Moon Meaning: Why Is It Called a Wolf Moon?
The Wolf Moon’s name isn’t a mystery; during this time of year when food is scarce and the weather is bitter cold, the howls of the wolf packs would carry far across the bare, frozen landscape.
Although people believed for a long time that wolves howl due to hunger, howling is actually a way for the pack to communicate across long distances and may convey warnings of other predators in the vicinity, positions of potential prey, or the location of a lone wolf that’s been separated from the pack.
But the chilling calls of the wild wolves on a cold, clear January night were memorable enough to warrant naming the full moon after the eerie symphony.
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Wolf Moon Spiritual Meaning
As the first moon of the new year, the Wolf Moon is generally seen as a positive symbol of hope and renewal despite arriving in the dead of winter. It represents the light that persists even in the bitter cold darkness.
Spiritually, the full Wolf Moon is a call for deep self-reflection and the unseen connection to our own “packs.” Humans, like wolves, are social creatures (even if some of us are introverts who enjoy solitude). We exist within communities and therefore must sometimes put social responsibility above personal desires, agendas, and individual freedoms.
This is a time for perseverance, endurance, patience, and survival. The Wolf Moon reminds us that we don’t have to fight our battles alone. We have friends, family, and loved ones to help us. Wolves communicate by howling, so to honor the Wolf Moon, you might consider reaching out to someone you care about in your own human version of howling at the full moon.
How to Honor the Wolf Moon
Whether you’re setting New Year resolutions or simply starting to focus on the intentions and goals you hope to achieve this year, now is a good time to start looking forward. Success doesn’t come haphazardly; it takes planning and commitment.
The days are slowly starting to get longer. We enjoy a little more sunlight each day. Even though the plant and animal life is still in hibernation all around us, we’re starting to stir with ambition as we dream about the upcoming potential. Now is your time to start planning the garden (perhaps literally as well as metaphorically) and deciding which seeds you want to plant and nurture to have a successful year and fruitful harvest in the months to come.
What do you hope to accomplish this year? What do you need to do to make that happen? You don’t need to act on those thoughts yet… but be mindful of them and start to plan. Focus on your goals and start pondering how you intend to reach them.
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Wolf Moon Altar Tips, Colors, Crystals, & Ritual Ideas
Appropriate colors for the Wolf Moon altar include white to represent purity, snow, and a blank slate; and silver to represent the moonlight bathing a serene landscape.
White candles work well on the Wolf Moon altar, especially if you have crystal or wood candleholders. If you would like to incorporate colored candles with your altar display, check out my guide to choose the right candle color(s) to match your intentions.
Clear/white crystals such as clear quartz and selenite are best for your Wolf Moon altar. I also recommend labradorite, which possesses an “inner light” when tilted at just the right angle and represents our own inner potential. Rose quartz is a crystal of love for friends, family, partners, loved ones, pets, and ourselves, making it a powerful symbolic partner that matches the spiritual energy of the Wolf Moon. I also recommend amethyst, the crystal of spiritual protection.
Try not to make your Wolf Moon altar too crowded. It should represent the calm emptiness of winter and the brimming potential that is yet to come. This is a time of renewal; choose only the tools that serve you best.
Ritual ideas for the January Wolf Moon:
- Write in your journal. Reflect on your accomplishments from the past year and record your aspirations for the new year. Consider the negative aspects of your life that you’d like to remove, and jot down ways to clear that negativity away so you can start fresh.
- Make moon water.
- Purify and charge your crystals. (Tip: here are five crystals that are particularly powerful for depression and anxiety.)
- Call a loved one, especially if you haven’t spoken for a while. Or arrange an in-person meeting to catch up over lunch or some other activity.
- Explore protection magic as we enter the new year and brace for the harshest stretch of winter.
- Consult runes, tarot cards, or an oracle deck to guide your energy and priorities.
- Do something creative that you enjoy. Make music, dance, draw, write, etc. It doesn’t have to be beautiful. It doesn’t have to be well done. It just has to make you happy, even if you’re not very good at it.
- Take some time to breathe and de-stress. Try meditation or a ritualistic bath to help your mind, body, and soul unwind.
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A monthly subscription box is a fantastic way to celebrate the full moon! See my top witchy/spiritual box recommendations.
For more information on full moons, see the 2023 full moon calendar with names, dates, and meanings here.
Award-winning fantasy author, freelance writer, spiritual explorer, and sole founder of Green Witch Lunar Witch. She created her first website in 2016 and published her first novel two years later. Sara spends most of her time writing, creating, and daydreaming.