I created this guide for subscribers of my newsletter to explain the manifesting and magical potential of working with the moon phases. It was going to be a short guide, but… well, now it’s the ultimate guide to everything you need to know!
The moon makes an orbit around the Earth every 28 days or so. The appearance of the moon’s illumination comes from the sun’s light rays hitting it and reflecting back the brightness back to Earth. The appearance of the moon growing and shrinking depends on where the moon is in its rotation around earth. Sometimes it’s in front of, behind, or adjacent to Earth and the sun – causing us to only see some of the sun’s rays illuminating it.
In astrology, the moon rules emotions. It’s associated with witches, magic, women, and cycles.
From our view on earth, the moon is continually renewing itself. It disappears from the sky, to reappear as a tiny sliver of light. As the days pass, it grows from a sliver into a brightly shining moon. After the moon is full, it shrinks and disappears, starting the cycle over again.
Working through a goal issue is often not a linear process. Yes, sometimes we get a breakthrough moment with a habit or belief that’s holding us back. Those “aha” moments are great. But more often, change happens through multiple cycles of taking action and reflecting on the results (or lack thereof).
In other words, don’t be discouraged that you didn’t let go of all of your limiting beliefs and manifested $5000 dollars by following the moon cycle for a month. I like to look at these techniques as a process that can help facilitate growth and change towards goals. It gives your intentions a magical boost. It’s a way to work in harmony with subtle bodies of energy.
And if you get off track, you always have another chance to jump back into the moon’s cycle. The moon is always there in the sky waiting for you, even when it appears to be missing.
The new moon marks the beginning of the waxing phase of the moon cycle. During the waxing phase, the moon appears to grow in size until it is full. After the full moon, the waning phase begins in which the moon appears to shrink until it’s no longer seen. Then the cycle starts again at the new moon.
Eight Phases of the Moon
New Moon – 1-3 ½ days after the balsamic moon
This is the start of the moon’s cycle. During this phase, the moon is dark and appears to be missing from the sky.
The New moon has a quiet, instinctual energy. During this phase, listen to your hunches. Subtle realizations will often bubble up to the surface during this time. The new moon energy facilities creative thinking, brainstorming, and creation. Take some time to yourself to be alone. Dream, meditate, and plan. This is the time to commit to an intention or project for the moon cycle.
Crescent moon / Waxing Crescent – 3 ½ to 7 days after the new moon
The moon has moved from dark to a sliver of light. It’s time to put into action the intentions you set during the new moon phase. This is the best time to initiate action on a project. Right off the bat, you might hit some snags in this phase. Avoid getting knocked down by these early setbacks. Refine your ideas, if needed.
First Quarter Moon – 7-10 ½ days after the new moon
In the sky, the moon will appear split in half and illuminated on the right-hand side. Buckle down and take action during this phase. Watch out for stumbling blocks thrown your way. We’re already halfway to the full moon, so use the energy boost that starts to occur during this phase to push yourself to focus on your intention. This phase calls for assertiveness and action.
Waxing Gibbous Moon – 10 ½ – 15 days after the new moon
The moon is not quite full, it seems like a little bit of it has been shaved off on the left-hand side. When we’re in the gibbous phase, remember; eye on the prize! This can be another time in the moon cycle where wrenches are thrown in the gears of your plan. If that’s the case, persist. There’s a tension during this time that your goals aren’t fully realized. Don’t get discouraged. Be patient and keep going.
Full moon – 15-18 ½ days after the new moon
The moon is a bright, glowing orb in the sky. The moon is now at its full manifesting power. Use this time for charging crystals, tarot decks, and magical objects. Magical workings are amplified during the full moon. Full moons tend to get everyone a little emotional.
The full moon supports both emotional revelations and release. The full moon also reveals – be prepared for surprising truths to come out during this phase.
The first signs of manifestation may occur during the full moon. If you don’t see any signs or synchronicities, don’t worry, more can come later.
This is the culmination of the action-oriented, waxing energy of the lunar cycle. After this, we’ll be moving into a reflective period called the waning moon.
Disseminating moon / Waning Gibbous – 3 ½ -7 days after the full moon
The moon will look like the gibbous moon, but with its dark, shrinking side on the right. Give yourself a chance to rest after the intense emotions a full moon can bring up.
This is another period to focus on the refinement of your intention and goals, particularly around any breakthroughs and revelations that occurred during the full moon. Like this phase’s name suggests, astrologers encourage us to share with others what we’ve learned during the waxing phase. Reach out to close friends and family members. Engage with your community. If you are creating something consider receiving sharing it to receive feedback (remember, not all advice has to be taken). This is a potent time to shed more of the limitations that may have hindered your success along the way.
Third quarter moon / Last Quarter – 7-10 days after the full moon
The moon will appear split again, but with its dark half on the right-hand side. Continue to reevaluate what didn’t work in this lunar cycle. Smaller projects and intentions will be manifested during this phase. Reflect on what can be done differently next time.
Most importantly, if you’re tired, find the time for some self-care and rest. Go easy on yourself. Of course, life and deadlines can get in the way. Sometimes we need to push through a project to meet a deadline during this phase. Still, block out some time for rejuvenating activities. Let go and continue the shedding process.
Balsamic moon / Waxing Crescent – 10 ½ days after the full moon
This is a time of healing in preparation for the new cycle to begin. Get inspired! The balsamic moon is a great time for planning and dreaming. Engage in ritual, tarot divination, to detriment what you need for this next moon cycle (if you’re not already aware of what to change next time). Catch up on sleep!
This is a time for banishing – both energetically and with physical decluttering. Clean your space, make it conducive to inspiration and calm.
About the Dark Moon
The dark moon typically refers to a day or two before the exact day of a new moon. Some astrologers say you should not start something during the dark moon, instead, wait to take action when a sliver of the moon can be seen. Others instigate action during the new moon phase, after planning in the dark moon phase. Experiment and see what feels right for you.
Simplifying the Cycle and Examples
Here’s the simplest way to remember these phases: action and growth should take place during the waxing phase, as the moon grows. Reflection and release should occur during the waning phase, as the moon shrinks.
For example, if you were writing a book, conceptualize the outline of the next chapter during the new moon. As the moon grows, keep to your writing goals, despite the distractions that come up. Persevere until the chapter is complete (or near complete). Afterward, look at editing and refining the chapter. What worked? Get feedback from trusted colleagues. Spell check, refine and review.
For spellwork and magick, the waxing phase would focus on rituals, spells, and intentions that attract something to you (from the new to full moons). To banish something from your life, work during the waning moon (disseminating moon to dark moon).
The moon is in its closest elliptical orbit to earth, resulting in a larger appearance. Potentially 4-6 of them occur a year. Both new moons and full moons can be supermoons. These are moons and with a little extra umph. Be prepared for emotions to run a little bit higher than usual during a supermoon.
Blue moons are an extra full moon either during a calendar month (popular conception and definition) or during a season/equinox (the traditional definition used by astronomers). Most astrologers don’t ascribe any meaning to blue moons. But, many (myself included) take note of them anyway. They’re important enough for us to have coined the phrase “one in a blue moon” acknowledging the rarity of the event.
An eclipse occurs when one celestial body obscures another. The most significant ones we experience on earth are the solar and lunar eclipses. A lunar eclipse occurs when a full moon is eclipsed by the earth’s shadow. A solar eclipse occurs when a new moon passes between the earth and sun, blocking the sun’s light.
There’s a theory in the astrology community that an eclipse, particularly solar ones, create an energic opening, or portal, to a future life. In other words, there’s a window of time that, with intention, you can rapidly accelerate toward goals or manifesting a future vision of your life. Lunar eclipses can be incredibly intense for emotional breakthroughs and transformations.
The moon moves through a zodiac sign around every two days. During the transition between two signs, the moon will make aspects to planets and will not be in a sign. When this happens, the moon is said to be “void-of-course”. Astrologers don’t consider this a good time for starting anything new or taking action on a project. Actions and activities started during this time may never manifest anything. The good news is that void-of-course moons often don’t last long. In fact, they’re just as likely to occur during the hours you’re asleep. During a void-of-course moon, rest and indulge in relatively passive activities- it’s a good time for catching up on reading and tv! A more lenient interruption of this phase by astrologers prescribes just sticking to your usual routine.
The Moon Through the Zodiac Signs
The moon moves through the twelve zodiac signs around every 2 ½ days. The attributes of the sign that the moon is inhabiting will color the energy of the moon phase. For example, a full moon in Capricorn would be an auspicious time to launch a business project or examine your career. Sign up for my free weekly Moon Medicine newsletter to keep track of these.
Moon in Aries
Aries is an energetic and action-oriented sign. An Aries moon is excellent for initiating projects. Be bold and take action. Don’t be afraid to take up more space and claim your power. Do be careful of being too impulsive during this moon. This moon can also make folks short on patience. This is a great time for intentions and magic that need fast results.
Moon in Taurus
Taurus is a sign of sensuality, security, and stability. Enjoy creature comforts, art, and beauty. Use the time during a Taurus moon to get on top of any money concerns – both personal and business finances. There can be some stubbornness in the air during this moon. Don’t be surprised if others suddenly show some inflexibility in their plans. Taurus is a sturdy, grounded sign that resists change. This is a great time to look at your career as a well.
Moon in Gemini
The mercurial Gemini moon loves communication! Calling someone, blogging, writing: whatever form it takes, get your voice out there. Indulge in brain games, puzzles, and riddles. This is an incredibility fruitful time for writing. The downside to this energy is the potential to get distracted. But Gemini excels at list making, so buckle down with your to-dos and take advantage of the energy.
Moon in Cancer
Cancer rules the home, family, motherhood, and nurturing. Spend time connecting with others. Nurture your relationship with family and friends. Moodiness can be an issue during a Cancer moon. Don’t get too stuck in your feels. You might find yourself more prone to tears during this time. The moon is at home in the sign of Cancer, so channel that extra emotion into a passion project.
Moon in Leo
The regal sign of Leo enjoys recognition, confidence, and the spotlight. During a Leo moon, don’t shy away from attention. Put yourself out there and shine. This is a great time to entertain and host a party. Watch out for underhanded upstaging from others who are feeling the effects of this moon. Arrogant attitudes can run amok during the Leo moon. Resist getting into any drama with others.
Moon in Virgo
Virgo is detail-oriented, hardworking, and practical. Do a deep clean (of your space, your mind, body, or anything else that needs it!). Organize and get on top of everything and anything that’s fallen by the wayside. Be careful of being too critical during a Virgo moon. Virgo energy is very analytical. This is a great time to fine-tune the details of projects or your space.
Moon in Libra
Libra rules art, culture, and harmonious relationships. Consider partnering up on a project. Negotiations tend to run smoother during this time. Folks are more willing to compromise for a mutually beneficial outcome. Watch out for indecisiveness during this time. Resist the urge to leave decisions unmade. Enjoy elegant surroundings.
Moon in Scorpio
Scorpio rules passion, transformation, and the hidden. Scorpio moons are intense. This energy is conducive to deep self-reflection. Scorpio energy is intensely protective– if you need to fight on behalf of something or someone, this is a time to do it. This moon can bring out secretive and manipulative behaviors. But, it also brings out our inner investigator. Stay aware, dig deep, and you’ll uncover what you need.
Moon in Sagittarius
Sagittarius rules learning, travel, and philosophy. Sagittarius energy brings with it a refreshing honesty, but be careful to not take it too far. Don’t be the victim of foot-in-mouth disease. While this is a great time to enjoy participating in philosophical debates, resist the urge to lecture others. Sagittarius energy loves traveling: explore a new locale. Shake up your usual route to discover new places.
Moon in Capricorn
Capricorn energy is organized, business-oriented, and practical. This is a great time to reexamine your long-term goals and career. Watch out for authoritarian impulses from yourself and others. If you get caught breaking the rules, people can be less forgiving during this time. Capricorn favors tradition. During this time, it’s wise to take a tried-and-true approach to challenges.
Moon in Aquarius
Aquarius loves a rebel, the unusual, freedom, and humanity (the better parts of it, at least!). The Aquarius moon is often seen as cold and detached. But innovation and invention need a certain level of detachment from the status quo to push the limits of what’s understood to be possible. This moon is a great time to push the limits of your self-expression. Embrace your inner weirdo! Find ways to shake up your routines.
Moon in Pisces
Pisces loves sleep, daydreaming, and creativity. It’s a sensitive energy with strong psychic and intuitive abilities. Be prepared for intuitive insights to come through during this moon. This is a time where compassion is much more abundant: great for connecting with loved ones. Take time to indulge in the dreamy energy of Pisces. Sleep in, listen to music, and make art. The Pisces moon can bring with it emotional upset. Resist the urge to soothe yourself with alcohol, drugs or food. Channel excess emotion into a creative project.
For all my witches and magical folk, here’s a breakdown of how to use the moon in spellwork.
New moon – Use this time for spells related to creating a new beginning or to bring something into your life. Magical workings and divinations meant to reveal something hidden are potent during this time.
Waxing Moon (from New Moon to Full Moon)– Like the new moon, use this time for magick that draws something towards you. The waxing moon phase supports the growth of positive forces in your life: good health, success, love, money, etc. This is a good time to start a multiday spell or ritual to culminate at the full moon.
Full Moon – This is the fullest manifesting, magical phase of the moon. A great time to cleanse and charge up sacred tools, talismans, crystals, and tarot decks. Another excellent time for divination.
Waning Moon (from Full Moon to New Moon)– The shrinking moon facilitates banishing and releasing magick. This is a time for cord-cutting to lessen the negative influences and situations in your life: bad luck, money issues, negative influences. Meditation comes easier during this time.
Dark moon (time right before the exact New moon) – Generally considered to be the most potent time for banishing and releasing. One caveat: some practitioners don’t work during the dark moon, considering it the least fruitful phase. Try and see what works for you. Divination is strong during this time as well as any protective spells.
Keeping It Realistic
There’s a lot of traditional, and sometimes restrictive, astrological advice for working with the moon. Specifically, things like not starting things during a void-of-course moon or dark moon.
Most of us don’t have a work environment where we can pause during an inauspicious time. Even if you work for yourself, it can be difficult. Keep it positive and use this information to empower yourself when you have the choice, or flexibility, of planning an activity.
If you’re feeling inspired and energetic, don’t be afraid to start something at a less than ideal time if you’re inspired and motivated. Don’t use moon phases as a way to procrastinate. Many things factor into whether something comes to fruition or not. These are subtle bodies of energy that work in tandem with a multitude of known and unknown forces – including good old fashioned willpower.
How to Track all of This?
Recommended Apps, Planners, and Services that I use (contains affiliate links):
On the fly, I use Deluxe Moon Pro on the iPhone. I can swipe left on my phone to get the moon phase and its zodiac position at a glance.
I also use Hobonichi planners which have moon phases for each day. The days are a little off since it reflects times in Japan. Also, Danielle LaPorte has moon info from Theresa Reed in her Desire Map Planner. I’m sure there are plenty more moon tracking planners coming out, let me know if you’ve used one in the past.
Briana Saussy also has a handy free Astro calendar you can add to your phone. And if all of that isn’t enough, I usually pick up multiple almanacs (I love the articles!) and I subscribe to Theresa Reed’s weekly Astro-Biz Digest.
Learn More about Moon Magic and Manifestation
Recommended books for learning more about moon manifesting and moon magic (contains affiliate links)
Ezie Spencer’s Lunar Abundance book is unbelievably detailed. She explores each phase of the moon and how it can be worked with the improve your life. It’s so comprehensive and easy to read with practical exercises for each phase.
Moonology is a great resource written by astrologer Yasmin Boland. One of my favorite parts of the book is the easy to understand breakdown of using your own personal Moon sign and astrological house positions with the changing moon.
The Many Moons Workbook is an awesome indie book of moon magic by artist and tarot reader Sarah Faith Gottesdiener. She publishes two volumes a year, and they sell out fast!
I love this almanac; I buy it every year. One big caveat for moon magic enthusiasts -this almanac is pretty old school. It mostly contains information on when to get a haircut, garden, hunt, etc. There are great charts of auspicious days for business, making large purchases, negotiating, and the like. It’s a quiant moon almanac for the mundane world!
Moon Trivia and Folklore
Moon viewing parties
Moon viewing parties need to be a thing here in the States. Tsukimi is a moon viewing festival in Japan. It takes place at the first full moon around the 15th day of the eighth month in the traditional lunisolar Japanese calendar (around September in a Gregorian calendar). Friends gather at night with foods decorated to look like the moon, such as tsukimi dango (moon dumplings), plus copious amounts of alcohol, to view the full moon. During the Heian period of Japan, moon viewing parties were held nightly during the fall.
The word lunacy and lunatic are archaic terms, and at one time legal terms, referring to madness and mental illness. It’s derived from the Latin word lunaticus, meaning “of the moon”. If you want to go down a rabbit hole, check out the list of scientific studies on the lunar effect on Wikipedia.
Ring around the moon
Growing up in Texas, I’ve heard the saying that a ring (a foggy halo) around the moon signals rain.
The Moon Gathers Water
I’ve also heard growing up that a crescent moon that’s tilted up like a bowl, will “catch water”. When the crescent move turns back sideways, or “tips over” again, it will rain.
The New Moon Night Watchers
In Hawaiian folklore, a ghostly procession of warriors called the Night Marchers sometimes appear during the new moon near historical battle sites near Oahu.
The Rabbit in the Moon
In parts of Asian, moon viewers see a rabbit on the moon. In Japan and Korea, the rabbit is making mochi. In China, it’s medicine being prepared.
The words month and Monday evolved from Old English and Proto-Germanic word for moon.
Do you can any thoughts on living a life by the moon? Any good moon folklore? Please share it in the comments!