Western Astrology

More On Moon Phases & Eclipses

More On Moon Phases & Eclipses

The Moon has always been a mystery to us. We watch it change shape and appear in the sky in a different position each night.

"Looked at naively, you can say that the Sun is reliable. It rises regularly, whereas the Moon is moody. It comes up every evening an hour later and fades and wanes and disappears. In Egypt, the Moon is the male god Min. In most civilizations, however, the Moon is feminine."
--Maria von Franz, The Feminine in Fairytales

Our language carries reminders that the Moon has affected us since childhood. We speak of the man in the Moon and the cow that jumped over the Moon. Indigenous peoples all over the globe have stories about the image that we see in the face of the full Moon. Most of those are feminine images. The first person on the Moon is now part of the iconography of the contemporary world.

In an Eskimo story reported by Knut Rasmussen, the man in the Moon falls out of the sky, "made harmless" by a young woman's magic. "The Moon spirit is incalculable and can become dangerous; he takes, but he also gives, and man must sacrifice to him or order to share in the things over which he rules."

The Moon doesn't have its own light -- it reflects the light of the Sun. It is associated with the receptive feminine qualities. Some traditions assign it the "passive" feminine nature, that which receives and is fertilized.

How do the phases of the Moon affect women?
As the Moon moves through its phases, it affects our emotions and moods. Our own physical cycles are connected to those phases, though they may not exactly coincide.

In ancient times, the Moon was the major light in the night. With no electricity, the changing phases of the Moon had a much more direct effect on people. Like a child's night light, the Moon was a comfort. At the beginning of the cycle, the new Moon disappears and we have a black sky for as long as three days.

We carry such information in our ancestral memories, even if we now live in the middle of a city with every street lit and night lights in every room. On some level, we still feel the Moon cycles. The dark of the Moon, for instance, may be associated with deeper mysteries and secrets, because without light, things can be hidden.

In each of the phases, the Moon's influence represents different life situations. Wouldn't it be great if we could predict what we have to deal with just by following the cycles of the Moon? It doesn't work that way, but we can use our awareness of the Moon's influence, and work with the energy that's traveling to our planet to help with whatever we're going through.

"Women seem especially sensitive to the cycles of life: there are those who've gone before and prepared the way for present life; in turn, present life will give way to new … and it is for us to take the best of what we have been given and carry it forward into the future for our children and our children's children."
-- Marilyn Sewell, Cries of the Spirit

Waxing and Waning
The first portion of the cycle, from new Moon to the full Moon, is the waxing period. It is the build up, the beginning of the cycle from creation to consciousness.

The second part of the cycle, from the full to the Balsamic Moon, is the waning period. Now the cycle returns from consciousness to creation.

Synodic and Siderial Moon Periods
The 29-day Synodic period is the time from new Moon to new Moon. This is called the "lunation cycle" and it signifies the relationship between Sun and Moon as they work together. The myth associated with the Synodic period is that of Apollo, god of the Sun and of wisdom, and his sister Artemis, also known as Diana, goddess of the moon and of wilderness. The Siderial period is 27 days. This is the Moon's own cycle, the relationship of the Moon to itself.


Eclipses have been powerful mysteries since ancient times. We average four eclipses during a year. Two of those are solar and they coincide with the New Moon. Two are lunar, when the Earth is directly between the Sun and the Moon and its shadow obscures the Moon. The eclipses work together -- two weeks pass between a solar and a lunar eclipse and they occur about six months apart.

"During an eclipse of the Moon, some tribes of the Orinoco used to bury lighted brands in the ground; because, said they, if the Moon were to be extinguished, all fire on earth would be extinguished with her, except such as was hidden from her sight."

-- Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough

We are affected on a global level by eclipses. Astrologically, not much is known about the effects of eclipses. Strangely, few people are born during eclipses. But the date of an eclipse that precedes your birth can be significant throughout your life -- you may even notice an annual influence. It's called a pre-natal eclipse and it tends to portend a subtle, not a major event. These may be external events or reflective internal ones, like decisions that signal life changes to follow.