Lunar Aspects and Practices: How to Best Bathe in the Moonlight
Planetary transits signify shifts in our energy, awareness, and life circumstance. So, obviously, it can be helpful to have tools with which to navigate the cosmic weather. There is a lot we can do daily to work consciously and holistically with planetary themes and energies, inviting these into our embodiment for growth, discovery, and self-care. The first step is knowing the nature of the transiting planet and how it is activating our chart—the better to discover how to support ourselves during these times.
[Note: This series is for entertainment and inspirational purposes only, and not intended to replace licensed medical care.]
At a Glance
Lunar Transits: 2 ½ days in each sign
Keywords: emotion, nurturance, reflection
Movement: restorative yoga, hydro-therapy, take care not to overextend in exercise on new + full moons (low/high energy), purifying salt bath on eclipses
Meditation: balancing emotional highs + lows, reflection, internal awareness, dream journaling to develop intuition and discover deep psychic patterns that need to be healed, sleep with mugwort satchel or drink its tea for visionary dreaming
Medicine: hydrating, nourishing comfort food, valerian tea to sleep, melatonin to reset sleep cycle (insomnia)
The moon reflects the sun’s life-giving light to us during the night, and so is another area of focus in our charts when understanding our vitality, energy, and health. Its traditional signifiers are connected to mothering and the nurturing principle in life. Physically, it rules over our bodies capacity to restore and heal, and in medical astrology the Moon it is connected to our brain tissue, stomach, and bladder. Psychologically, it rules over how we experience and process emotion, and can even point to our attachment styles in relationship according to our moon sign. Where the sun can be seen as connected to our conscious active awareness, the moon’s domain is over our unconscious mind, which holds the mysteries of our deepest impulses. Our dream life and meditation practices help to explore our lunar subconscious inner world, bringing what is in the dark of our psyche to light for personal growth.
Monthly Lunar Transits: Rhythm of the Month
The moon activates our entire chart while traveling through each zodiac sign in one month, and spends about 2 ½ days in each house in our chart. These few days are an opportunity to nurture the area of life this house/sign signifies. The moon’s exact transits to planets and points can be somewhat fleeting, lasting only a few hours, but because the moon rules over our emotional states and how they impact our ability to recharge, they can potentially have a profound subjective effect. Tuning in to the ebb and flow of the moon’s activity each month can help us examine cyclical themes that arise, and teach us when to lean into our activities, or when to honor a need for downtime.
Lunar Phases: Riding the wave of Lunar Energy
Dark Moon: The dark moon phase is the phase that precedes the new moon. It is the time when the moon is truly invisible, and traditionally it was seen as the lowest point of energy in the month. The dark moon phase is the still point at the end of a lunar cycle, a time to meditate, receive, and restore. Yogis avoided physical practice on this day so as not to overextend their bodies when their energy was low. It is the time to plant our seed of intention for the upcoming month.
New Moon: The new moon phase is when the moon is a small waxing crescent, the first light emerging after the dark moon. It’s a time of carefully coming out of the deep restorative state of the dark moon, to begin visualizing the intent of the new lunar cycle. Energy may still be a little low, but some gentle movement is good for this time. The seed of our intention is germinating.
First Quarter: This is when lunar energy is beginning to pick up. We may be starting to get a clearer sense of how to implement the visualizations of our dark moon meditations. We also may find we are feeling more ready to start exercising a little more actively and have the energy to take on more tasks. It is the time of the first signs of growth emerging from the seed of our intention.
Full Moon: This is when our wave of emotional and physical energy crests, and we feel the culmination of the intentions of our lunar cycle. It can be an empowering time, or a little challenging to navigate as what we experience now can be subjective and strong. We may want to do more, but since our energy is running very high it can be good to take some care, as we are vulnerable to overextending ourselves physically and emotionally now. It is for these reasons Yogis also avoided physical practice at this time. Our intentions are now in full bloom for us to feed and tend.
Last Quarter: This final phase sees the lunar energy wave starting to come down. We have experienced the culmination of our monthly goals and intentions and are finishing up what we started. Energy is starting to come down, and our awareness is becoming more reflective and internally focused. It is time to harvest the fruit of our intentions that have come to fruition.
Special consideration for physical and emotional health must be paid to lunar eclipses. Because the moon is so intrinsically linked to our embodiment, the ancients observed the moon being “devoured” by darkness as a time to protect ourselves. We may want to eat simple, wholesome, unprocessed foods, perhaps avoid alcohol and focus on detoxifying. Eclipses are optimal for some alone time when we can honor any unexpressed grief, meditate on unhealthy emotional patterns and burdens that we need to release, and cleanse ourselves of physical toxins that are bogging down our bodies. Deep breathing, meditating, and taking a purifying salt bath on the night of the eclipse can be calming and deeply cleansing, on a physical and psychic level.
Lunar Aspects: Focusing the beam of Lunar Awareness
While the moon is transiting, it makes key geometric aspects with every planet and point in our chart, cyclically reactivating the core themes of our entire lives each month. These aspects last for a few hours, so when they occur it is an important opportunity for insight, breakthroughs, and emotional growth.
Conjunctions are the most direct and potent, infusing the personal planet or point with full lunar awareness. A critical emotional issue must be tended to, and deep feelings may need to be expressed. Traditionally it can also signify a meeting with a feminine person, or a hidden matter coming to light.
Squares and Oppositions tend to catalyze an emotional issue. Because oppositions and squares are challenging, this issue may be an outburst or confrontation where emotional expression needs to be navigated with care. These aspects can also trigger erratic waves of energy or times of stress. It can be good to take a pause and care for oneself during these few hours and examine objectively what is occurring.
Trines and Sextiles tend to be more supportive and conduct lunar energy in a balanced harmonious way. We may have strong intuitive breakthroughs at this time and feel inspired as to where we can conduct these. Our physical and emotional energy feel synchronized, and cooperation in relationships may feel easier.
Movement: Embodying Lunar Energy
With the moon connected to water and our healing energies, hydrotherapy of all kinds can be explored to help reset our equilibrium. This could be a swim in a local pool, lake, or ocean, or even a bath with calming herbal oils like lavender and chamomile. Physical practices that are appropriate for active lunar times are anything that is relaxing, fluid, and meditative. Seated and reclining poses are the lunar phase of a yoga sequence, so marinating in these asanas can help us strengthen and embody lunar qualities. Restorative yoga, which supports our healing parasympathetic state, is excellent for dark moon, full moon, eclipse times, or when we are receiving challenging lunar transits. Sometimes, just being still and doing nothing at all is the best way to recharge!
Lunar transits often coincide with a theme of bringing what was in the dark to light. They are optimal times for meditation, for tuning in and developing our capacity to receive and to balance our emotional highs and lows. Turning our awareness inward can reveal hidden wisdom, insights, and illuminate deeply embedded psychic patterns that we can rework with conscious awareness. We can explore the yogic practice of pratyahara, or sensory deprivation, by gently wrapping our eyes and ears with a comfortable scarf to muffle out sound and light. Breathing deeply and meditating this way can help us to develop our inner sight—visualizing intuition emanating from our own inner moon—and can put us in a calmer state at night before bed. We may find our dream world becomes more active during potent lunar transits, so dream journaling can help us keep track of important symbols or themes emerging from within. Sleeping with a mugwort satchel tucked under our pillow or drinking mugwort tea can encourage vivid dream journeying.
With the moon connected to water and nourishment, it is important to stay hydrated, as challenging transits or phases can tax our body’s water reserves. Warm, nourishing, comforting foods can help us feel grounded. Including lunar vegetables in our diet like cabbage, onions, mushrooms, and watercress feed our bodies, brain tissue, and help our digestion run smoothly. Active lunar transits and phases, especially the full moon, can keep us up at night, analyzing emotional topics or reviewing the past, so calming herbal allies like chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, and valerian root can make a helpful anti-anxiety and sleep-inducing tea blend. If insomnia is persistent, it is important to try and re-establish a consistent sleep cycle, since our bodies and brains heal and restore in our deep sleep state, so using melatonin until we are back on track can be a helpful supplement. Potent lunar phases or transits can affect women’s menstrual cycles, so try a mugwort, motherwort, white willow, and yarrow tea if cramps become overwhelming, or try the sleep tea blend to help calm anxious moods.
Art by Debbie Stapleton