The Moon is the fastest moving planetary body that we study in Astrology. It takes roughly 29 days for Her to complete one revolution around the zodiac, spending about 2 1/2 days in each sign. Each month, Her journey tells the story of Her ever-changing relationship with the Sun – a story that we can connect to, and resonate with, to more deeply understand ourselves and the power we hold within.
Several people have developed ways of working with the Moon, and,in my opinion, lunar work is a deeply personal practice that each person must feel their way into… but, here’s a few thoughts on the Lunation Cycle that resonate for me.
Working With the Moon
I’m big on intention setting . I think it’s one of the most magical ways to participate in our journey and to actively co-create with our Universe/Goddess/God/Source.
In a nutshell, I think of intentions as our prayers or “heart-vectors” that we strategically plant during the New Moon and actively and collaboratively groom to manifestation throughout the different phases of the Lunar Cycle. (Check out my latest post on intention setting, if you’d like to read more on setting intentions this season).
But, even if intention-setting isn’t your thing, just knowing what phase the Moon is in and what that means for you energetically is key to attuning to your natural rhythms of activity and rest… pushing against resistance and easing up with the flow. The best way to do this is to pay attention to how you feel during each phase – perhaps journal or send yourself voice notes. In this way, you’ll build up your own databank of feeling tones and experiences that are deeply meaningful and specific for you.
The Waxing and Waning Moon
During the first half of the cycle, from New Moon to Full Moon, the Moon is waxing and growing in light. This period typically feels like a building of energy, as events and emotions culminate around the time of the Full Moon.
During the second half of the cycle, from Full Moon to New Moon, the Moon is waning and decreasing in light. This period typically feels like a continuous release of energy, as circumstances and emotions wind down, in preparation to begin again.
Within the waxing (building) period, and the waning (releasing) period, you will feel relative fluctuations in your energy, as you are called to push a little and ease up a little… push a little and ease up a little… The most important thing is to listen to your body and, as much as possible, tailor the activities of your life to the natural rhythm that you are feeling.
The New Moon
The New Moon marks the beginning of the cycle, when the Moon reaches the same sign and degree of the Sun. In Astro-speak, we say that the Moon conjuncts (or joins) the Sun. This is “seed-planting” time – the time to feel into your intentions for the month and to attune to your emerging growth vectors. This is the time to feel them, speak them, and affirm them – through writing, speaking, and any creative ways that speak to your heart.
During this period, the Moon is barely visible in the sky, since it is too close to the Sun to reflect any light. Metaphorically, the Moon is being “seeded” with the life that will bloom and blossom over the course of the coming month.
For me, the New Moon phase lasts for roughly 2 1/2 days after the conjunction. Energetically, this time can be the most exciting part of the cycle, when it feels like anything is possible and dreams can, and do, come true. I don’t experience this phase as a particularly high energy time… but it does feel like a time of expectancy – even anticipation, like things are warming up and getting into gear.
To get a sense of the current themes that are unfolding for you with the New Moon, look to the placement of the New Moon in your chart by sign, house and aspect. For example, if the New Moon is kicking off in Taurus, the coming month is sure to resonate with themes of calling in abundance, grooming your wealth, celebrating your sensuality and laying claim to your self worth.
The Waxing Crescent
The Waxing Crescent phase follows the New Moon phase – beginning roughly 2 1/2 days after the New Moon and lasting for roughly 4 1/2 days. During this phase, the Moon is growing in light, and we are being led progressively further into our calling for the month.
I think of this as the time to “lean into” my intentions – taking small steps of faith and keeping my eyes open for the unveiling of the Universe… because, when you set a heart-felt intention, it’s like sending up a prayer to your God/ Goddess/ Source… and, I truly believe that during the Waxing Crescent phase, our Source answers us, pulling us onward in love.
First Quarter Moon
During the First Quarter phase, the Moon appears as a half-Moon in the sky. This phase begins roughly 7 days after the New Moon and lasts for about 2 1/2 days.
This is a turning point in the cycle – a time when we are confronted with some kind of decision, circumstance, or event that asks us to “dig in” – dig in and “double down” or dig in and change course.
This is typically a period of intensity, where the Moon is roughly 90 degrees away from the Sun, in a sign that creates a natural line of tension with the Sun’s current sign.
To attune more deeply to the nature of the First Quarter challenge for you, take a look at the signs of both the Sun and the Moon and the houses that they occupy in your chart by transit.
Waxing Gibbous Moon
The Gibbous phase follows the First Quarter phase, lasting for roughly 4 1/2 days – and, for me, typically feels like a time of both ease and adjustment. The Universe has a way of continually self-regulating… and, I have found that periods of intensity are followed by periods of ease.
Here, we are given a chance to experience a kind of “first-fruits” of our cycle. The first part of the gibbous phase is marked by the Moon entering into a “trine” aspect with the Sun. That means that both the Sun and the Moon are in signs of the same element and create a line of energy that feels more supportive than challenging.
The later part of the Gibbous phase is marked by the Moon entering into a quincunx relationship with the Sun – an angle difference of roughly 150 degrees. Here, the Moon is in a sign that has both a different mode and a different element than the sign of the Sun – creating a line of energy that often urges us to make some adjustments in our attitude or course of action.
In general, energy is really building during this phase, as the Moon approaches its fullness. Pay attention to the ease the Universe May be offering you now, and any opportunities to learn and to adjust your course.
The Full Moon occurs roughly 15 days after the New Moon and marks the culmination of the Lunar Cycle. Here, energy is at its highest, and the Moon is fully illuminated – bringing to light our major challenges and our major achievements for the lunar month. It’s time to open in celebration, gratitude and acceptance. Whether you have set intentions or not, something has happened over the last two weeks… Something has shown up.
Honestly, for me, the Full Moon phase sometimes feels like the most difficult to consciously work with because it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the drama of the moment and lose sight of the meaning behind the culmination of events.
I have found it incredibly useful to carve out time during the Full Moon phase to intentionally remember – remember how far I’ve come and remember what I set out to learn. I find this time to be ripe for divination work – and, when working with the Tarot, I typically ask these three basic questions to attune me to the truth that is being revealed:
What is being illuminated in my life right now?
What am I being called to celebrate?
What am I being called to release?
Astrologically, the Full Moon occurs when the Moon is directly opposite (or 180 degrees away from) the Sun. In essence, it is illuminating the shadow side of the Sun’s current sign – highlighting where we need to bring our attention to restore balance in our lives. Determine where the Full Moon falls in your natal chart to see what areas of your life are being most affected by this phase.
Disseminating Moon (Waning Gibbous)
The Disseminating Moon begins roughly 2 1/2 days after the Full Moon and lasts for roughly 4 1/2 days. Here, the Moon is waning in light, calling us to begin what I call the “great exhale” of the Lunation Cycle.
Having been awakened by the challenges and achievements of the Full Moon, we are now in a better position to accept where we may need to let go of certain mindsets, certain habits, and certain ways of responding to our life circumstances.
Fort me, this phase often feels like the calm after the storm… where I am given the space that I need to breathe, adjust, forgive, and receive. This is typically a period of relative rest for me, where I continue to open in gratitude and I begin to integrate the lessons of the Full Moon.
Third Quarter Moon
The Third Quarter Moon occurs roughly 7 days after the Full Moon and lasts for another 2 1/2 days. This is another period of tension and testing where the Moon hits the “closing square” of the cycle. Here, the Moon is in a sign that is roughly 90 degrees away from the Sun’s sign, appearing again as a half-Moon in the sky. It’s decision time again – a period where circumstances seem to demand that we dig in, pivot, and re-orient ourselves to the call of the closing cycle.
Often, this means an intense “letting go” or release of our old way. It’s like the final test of what we’ve been striving for, where we are given the opportunity to put the wisdom we’ve learned over the last several weeks to good use, and then move on.
To attune to the nature of the challenge for you, pay attention to the sign of the transiting Sun and the transiting Moon and where they fall in your natal chart by House and by aspect.
Balsamic Moon (Waning Crescent)
The Balsamic Moon is the last phase of the Lunar Cycle, lasting roughly 3 – 4 days. Here, the Moon is closing out Her month-long journey and surrendering Her last remnants of who She was, to who She is becoming under the light of the Sun once again. This is a time of rest, reflection, and release.
I notice that during this phase, I am called to slow down and integrate all that I have learned. It is not that the events of my life stop. It is more that my attitude towards them shifts. I surrender all of the striving and all of the pushing, and I move into a place of sacred acceptance and reverence for all that has happened and for my own space of becoming.
During the latter half of this phase, the Moon ceases to be visible in the sky, having drawn so close to the Sun that once again, it cannot be seen. This, I call the Dark Moon. If you rest at no other time during the cycle, rest here. Take this day or two to let your body, your mind, and your soul replenish. This is the best thing you can do in preparation for the new lunar cycle, which will begin when the Moon joins the Sun once again.