The Forgotten Wisdom of The Phases of The Moon

The Moon has been associated with the cycles of life since time immemorial. Ancient cultures adopted its rhythmic patterns to track the passing of time, the changing of the seasons, and the evolution of life on Earth. The timing of day-to-day activities stemmed from the Moon’s changing shape and the simple belief that it governs moisture. Pliny the Elder, the first-century Roman naturalist, stated in his Natural History that the Moon “replenishes the earth; when she approaches it, she fills all bodies, while, when she recedes, she empties them.”

The lunar cycle is made up of several distinct phases, all of which have associations with different states of being, with waxing and waning phases being reverse mirrors of each other. The period between the New and Full Moon is considered the most fertile, and ideal for any new activity that requires strong growth, full impact, and high yields. On the other hand, the waning cycle following the Full Moon is more suited for introspection, consciousness, and gradual sunsetting. Much like the phases of human life, the Moon also traces the arc of birth, growth, culmination, maturity, and death.

Working With Moon Phases

Each phase of the Moon has its own special energy and meaning. Take the time to observe the Moon and pay attention to its changing cycles. Consider how the Moon may be affecting your life. Are you in sync with its natural rhythms? Learning to honour, work with, and even exploit the Moon’s energies is a great tool for manifesting and grounding yourself. Following these rhythms can teach us to live and act with intention and awareness, in harmony with the universe. If you’re interested in following Moon cycles in your life, download my free Moon Calendar to track suitable attitudes and activities for each phase. You can also find out what Moon phase you were born under on this page.

New Moon

The New Moon represents a lunar rebirth and encapsulates pure potential. It occurs when the Sun and the Moon are powerfully conjoined in the same sign, each offering a different flavour of energy and focus for the month ahead. When the Moon is invisible, it signals that all that came before has been cleared, and it’s time for a new beginning and a new awareness. Full of energy and zeal, new ideas abound, inner desires surface, the vision is vivid, yet not quite defined. Not a time for action yet, this is a time of instincts, dreams, and spontaneity. We are forming goals and intentions, not cohesive plans and rational ideas. We are in tune with what we want and what we need. Lunar energy is extremely powerful now, yet steeped in darkness, hidden, shapeless, still only a spark, the stirring of a dream or an idea. When the light begins to move in in a few days, we get a glimpse of how our plans are taking shape in the visible world. Only then should we begin to put into action what was formed in the shadow. We’re now ready to start a project that needs a lot of momentum, or has a long way to go. Track the position of the New Moon in your chart, and any aspects to other planets and angles, to gauge which area of your life is being rebooted, and how significantly.

Waxing Crescent Moon

The energy is now beginning to build in strength and intensity, signifying the sprouting growth of the seed. We can begin to see things, as the Moon is partly illuminated. A burst of expansive energy moves our ideas forward powerfully, giving them solidity and shape. Our visions and intentions are becoming clearer goals and plans, and we start to take positive action on what was sparked in the previous phase. We are becoming aware of what resources are needed to translate our dreams into reality. We gather strength and focus, work on the details, and begin to face the challenges ahead of us. We discover how the vision must evolve, what is possible or to be discarded, what the reality we need to work with is. Perhaps we find our discoveries daunting, and we have second thoughts. Do we draw on our inner strength, stand up to criticism, trust ourselves, choose to see it through? Despite the uncertainty, this is an auspicious time to start something new, take a step forward, sign contracts or make purchases. Although with less enthusiasm than at a New Moon, our projects do nonetheless exude more grounding and credibility.

First Quarter Moon

Brilliantly lit, growing rapidly, and visible even in daytime, the Moon is now strong and prominent. The phase of uncertainty is over, and strength and confidence abound.  The First Quarter Phase is the time to start dynamic, fast-paced and highly active projects. We take charge, get unstuck, and fight for what we want. Plans are becoming solid and real, excitement and enthusiasm are returning, things are happening, the vision is manifesting. Challenges are real in the world around us, and yet they tend to excite and stimulate rather than daunt us, because we are beginning to see concrete results for our efforts. Any fears or doubts that might get in our way get pushed to the side by our creative impulse to see things through. We enjoy a sense of accomplishment, yet the goal has not been reached. We overcome challenges through great dynamism and sheer determination. Confrontation is possible, but our energy level is high, as is our level of activity. Quick on our feet, we push for progress, make decisions, and take action.

Waxing Gibbous Moon

The Waxing Gibbous Moon is when we are so close to our goals we can almost touch them, yet we need to tweak them further and re-assess their viability. This phase is about evaluating, fine-tuning, strengthening, and perfecting our results. It’s a time to solidify our plans and double-check the minute details. We do precision work, in our determination to achieve the best possible outcome. We are fully immersed in what we’re doing, and are not afraid to question the status quo in order to achieve more. Yet, we are impatient. The buds are preparing to bloom, and our plans can be fine-tuned on the brink of manifestation. This is our last chance to launch something new in this cycle, before the waning phase starts. Great for detailed, analytical projects.

Full Moon

Entirely illuminated by full sunlight, with the Sun in opposition, the Full Moon represents a time of culmination, maximum yield, pivoting, and abundance. The light of the Moon, along with her power, has reached a peak. We see it, we feel it, we sense it. The level of energy and emotion is higher on Full Moon than any other time of the month. It’s a time for reaping the fruits of our past intentions and actions. The seed is now in full bloom, and dramatically on display. The vague visions of New Moon, if nurtured, are now illuminated, clearly visible, and manifested. This is a powerful time, of excess and extremes, which can manifest in a positive or negative way. Express your creativity. Take a closer look at things, see hidden potential, look for mistakes, and find opportunities. You can also get a clear insight into yourself, as your emotions are much stronger than usual. Everything comes out into the open in this bright light — including the parts of human nature known as the “shadow”. Tension, polarity, intensity, instinctual reactions, and emotional outbursts are likely, and hospitals and the Police are indeed on high alert at full moons. As energy and emotions run high, arguments and conflicts are more likely at Full Moon. Relationships come under the spotlight. From this period, the Moon begins to wane, signalling our journey to look inward instead of out. The period of growth and time for beginnings is past. Bring things to an end, where needed. Great for completing a project or a phase. This can be a good time for public displays, drawing attention, or presentations, for putting on a show, and getting a dramatic response.

Waning Gibbous or Disseminating Moon

As the moon is getting ready to complete its cycle, there is a frenetic impulse to disseminate all of the lessons cultivated from the previous phases, a yearning to spread our accumulated wisdom with others. It’s still a very active Moon phase, with great enthusiasm, a strong commitment to act on bright visions, and full confidence in our purpose. The truth having been revealed in the lucidity of the earlier phase, vitality is high, our fervour contagious to others, our capacity to transform ourselves and the world around us untameable. This is an integrative phase, with a strong focus on information, optimal for getting a message out, spreading the word, or acquire new insights. Our awareness of others, of their needs and goals, increases. We begin to perceive where our knowledge may be useful to others, and their knowledge to us. Wisdom and understanding compel us to act. There is a sense of urgency, perhaps of awareness that time is running out. While our actions and their reactions at peak are still clear in our memory, a growing consciousness invites us to reflect and look inwardly. This is a good time for breaking habits, changing routines, and weeding out ideas which are no longer useful. Be open to change, as this phase is the beginning of a transformation. Ask yourself what you need to transform.

Last Quarter Moon

Half illuminated and waning, the Moon is now fading into darkness, having reached a perfect balance of light and shadow. This is a time of taking stock, making hard decisions, and evaluating the change. Restlessness abounds, and we feel uneasy thinking of all we’ve done and is yet to be done. Perhaps we need a final push, perhaps we find ourselves at a fork in the road, with decisions for the future while the past is still fresh in our memories.  We feel the burden of responsibility, and find ourselves having to deal with past mistakes, just when our achievements cannot be denied. We sense the end getting nearer, and we begin to take stock of what we have or haven’t achieved. Whether we’re wrapping up a project, or contemplating a new beginning, we assess whether something is worth pursuing or not, or whether a new approach is needed.

Waning Crescent or Balsamic Moon

Also called the Dark of the Moon, there is only a sliver of light left. This is a time of quiet introspection, of acceptance and letting go. This is not a time for dramatic changes and bold action. There is a sense of void, while we sense all that’s come before, and all that is yet to come. The subconscious, spiritual realms, daydreaming, imagination, and our own inner life stir us. Our energy levels are low. We must gather our strength before the next phase starts, so rest and recuperation are key. While not a time for pushing hard, it is excellent for endings and for what we want to slow down.

Moon Calendar

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