We’ve all heard the terms “lunacy” and “lunatic” before, but have you ever wondered what the real connection is?
The root of the words, clearly, comes from the Latin term for the silvery satellite that so deeply affects us here on earth. Those of us who pay attention to astrology know that the moon is the ruler of our emotions but few of us really know exactly how the lunar phases affect us emotionally. And, even though we know that people who menstruate can often sync up with lunar phases, we are still somewhat surprised to learn that the moon cycle can affect us physically, too.
But the truth is, the moon’s eight regular phases have distinct ramifications for us here on earth, and it can be very empowering to get to know them more deeply.
In simple terms, the moon has eight phases that it cycles through on endless, glorious repeat: new moon, waxing crescent, waxing quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, waning quarter, and waning crescent.
Note: It is super helpful to know your own natal moon sign, and it is also wise to know which phase the moon was in at the time of your birth. Knowing these details can bring greater understanding to your observations about how the moon’s phase is affecting your life.
The new moon, or dark moon, occurs when the moon is aligned exactly between the sun and the earth, leaving the side of the moon that faces earth in complete darkness.
This phase of the lunar calendar can tend to have you feeling like you’re under your own microscope, as the dark moon is often associated with soul-searching and can bring up hard truths about the self.
While this moon phase can prompt feelings of loneliness or the famed “dark nights of the soul,” it can also enhance the power of divination and prophetic dreams. You may feel introspective or want additional rest during the dark moon period.
Practicing witches hold that the new moon is the time when the most powerful destructive magick can be performed.
New Moon Tip: Be careful and cautious with intentions during these times.
This phase of the lunar calendar occurs immediately after the new moon phase, as the sun begins to illuminate a sliver of the moon.
The waxing crescent moon phase is a time of hunger, new beginnings, curiosity, vibrancy, and eagerness. Watch for your energy to blossom during this part of the moon cycle, and you might notice that bringing in anything new during this time feels exceptionally juicy and ripe with potential.
Waxing Crescent Tip: This is a great time for brainstorming a new project or meeting new people.
During this lunar phase, about one-fourth of the moon’s surface is illuminated, growing from the right side to the left. This is what some people colloquially call a “half moon,” because it looks like a halved circle, but it is called a quarter moon by astronomers because the moon is an orb and only a quarter of the moon is illuminated during this moon phase.
Waxing quarter moons often bring with them a sense of growing accomplishment, pride, integrity and honor.
This is traditionally the time for attraction magick, as it can give our ego a robustness and vigor. Many relationships, both personal and professional, begin under this moon phase. Carry the energy of the first quarter moon all the way through with affirmations and intentions set during this time. Toast yourself and revel in your accomplishments.
Waxing Quarter Moon Tip: Take joy where you can find it.
The surface of the moon is around 75% illuminated now, and looks egg-shaped, with only a bit of shadow remaining on the left edge.
As the rich and luminous moonlight burnishes the edges of our lives, this lunar phase sometimes brings a sense of scatteredness and burden as all things rise in their potential.
You may notice that you become exceptionally overbooked during waxing gibbous periods – a fortnight worth of building energy can easily lead to a bit of frenzy and overwhelm.
Consider this a time to weed the garden. Remind yourself to slow down and focus on what is working, not what is broken.
Naturally, this moon gives us an opportunity to enjoy life more fully, so we might as well take advantage.
Waxing Gibbous Tip: Cut back on the caffeine.
No trace of the earth’s shadow falls across the moon, and it is fully illuminated by the sun.
Generally the fan favorite, full moons are carefully observed by most astrologers and always exemplify something about the sign they are occupying (always the opposite of the sign that the sun is stationed in). Because of this lively, dynamic opposition with the sun, full moons are potent and vibrant. There’s often talk of people acting a little crazier under a full moon (that’s why they call it lunacy) and while it does depend on the specific arrangement of your own natal chart, there is definitely much to be said for the luminous, heady quality of a good full moon. Magic is afoot and anything is possible!
Full Moon Tip: Stay up late and revel in the glory of being alive.
Now in reverse, around 75% of the moon is illuminated but the shadow is moving from right to left now.
After the peak of the full moon, we enter the waning half of the lunar cycle. Often we are in a come-down phase after whatever mysteries the full moon wanted to teach us about and we can get a little cranky. It is a time when we might feel the need to pare down and let go of anything which is not serving us. You may wish to refresh altars, clear energies from tools and tarot decks, and give magickal items (and yourself) a well-deserved rest.
Waning Gibbous Tip: Put your phone on Do Not Disturb.
The “half moon” appears again, illuminated only on the left side. The left side is commonly associated with our feminine aspects, with intuition, and with instinct. We can see this energy expand into our lives during a waning cycle.
Temptations abound during the waning quarter moon (also called last quarter) as our energies become more and more intuitive, introspective and irrational. During waning quarter moons, we are more likely to make mistakes, errors in judgment, or become confused.
Go slowly and carefully, and guard against your own self-sabotage.
Waning Quarter Moon Tip: Don’t text your ex.
The waning crescent is the last of the visible moon in each lunar cycle. Appearing as a tiny sliver, curving from the left with points toward the right, this is the sickle moon, reaping everything we can harvest from each lunar transit before it vanishes from the sun’s light entirely, overshadowed completely by the earth.
Sometimes, this moon phase brings up grief or sorrow, especially about the past. A reflective and somewhat melancholy time, this is also a powerful time to let go and surrender. Try to give yourself some unscheduled, abstract time for spiritual reflection and contemplation, and allow yourself to be guided by your intuition.
Waning Crescent Tip: Wear waterproof mascara.
Each time the moon enters a new sign, it makes a few aspects with other planets in the solar system. After the moon has made its last major aspect to the sun or planets and is still within the sign, the moon is considered void of course until it enters the next sign.
Because of the intricate workings of the solar system, the moon goes void-of-course every two and a half days. This typically lasts anywhere from a few minutes to half a day. Sometimes, the moon can be void of course for multiple days, but this is rare.
During void of course moons, group dynamics often break down, judgment and decision-making are impaired, and vital energy is often depleted or misdirected. Not a great time for a staff meeting! Void of course moons contribute to a sense that nothing is as it seems, so it is wise to approach new ventures with caution.
Also, we might feel spacy, vague, or out of touch with ourselves when the moon is void of course. It can be strangely good time for constructive solitude, artwork or mystical explorations, but trying to nail down details or run a very tight-ship schedule will most often lead to frustration during the moon void of course. Go ahead and give yourself a break during void-of-course periods.
Moon Void of Course Tip: Take naps!