As humans, we are naturally connected to the Moon and its cycles. Her 28 day rotation around the Earth has been closely connected to the tides, nature and emotional changes. Throughout ancient history, the Moon has been observed as a guiding light, map and tool for self development. However, the spiritual meaning of the Lunar phases and how their energy can be used as tools for planning and self development seems to have been lost in Western society.
The Moon is a fast moving celestial body who ‘changes’ approximately every 2.5 days between each of its phases. However, it isn’t actually the Moon itself that changes, but our perceptions of it due to shadows and reflections of Sunlight. The Moon’s 28 day cycle can be broken into eight distinctive Moon phases which we’ve all observed without necessarily knowing what they symbolised. These phases all hold unique, astrological and spiritual meanings that indicate how our behaviour and emotions will be influenced throughout the month.
The two Lunar phases that are most identifiable are the Full Moon (when the Moon is at its brightest) and the New Moon (when the Moon disappears from the sky). As the Moon waxes (grows fuller and brighter, into a Full Moon) and wanes (diminishes into a New Moon), we are taken on a cosmic journey of outer growth and inner reflection. By understanding the Lunar cycle and phases, you can gain a better understanding of when you are most productive in a month, why you may be losing motivation and how to work alongside this energy to enhance your success.
Artwork: Camille Chew’s ‘Lunar Phases’
The New Moon marks the beginning of a new Lunar cycle. During this time, the Moon is positioned directly between the Earth and the Sun. Its visible side is facing away from Earth, therefore we cannot see it (but it’s still very much there). The New Moon is a widely recognised symbol of new beginnings. The New Moon energy can usher in new opportunities and trigger internal changes that shape our external reality. This is the ideal time to set intentions for the upcoming month. Reboot, regain strength and plan any future endeavours. What would you like to achieve this month? What aspects of yourself are you hoping to develop?
As the Moon shifts into visibility again, it enters the Waxing Crescent phase. The crescent Moon is a popular imagery that symbolises the steady growth of intentions and ideas. This energy is a reminder to stick to the plans that you are putting in motion. During the Waxing Crescent Moon phase, we should be planting the seeds from our New Moon intentions and setting up the stage for action. This is not yet the time for impulsivity and action, but rather planning and preparation.
The First Quarter Moon signifies the Moon reaching a quarter of the way through her cycle. During the first quarter, half of the Moon is illuminated while the other half remains in the shadows. The first quarter Moon symbolises obstacles, resistance, and upcoming challenges. Astrologically speaking, this is due to her making a harsh relationship (square) with the Sun during this time, creating an imbalance between emotions and personality. It’s important to be resilient and flexible during this two day period. You may have to push yourself to get things done, try harder to focus and follow your gut instincts.
During the Waxing Gibbous Moon phase, the Moon is in her final stage before becoming full. This Lunar phase should be used to focus, edit and refine your goals, tasks and projects. After the challenges that may have arose during the first quarter, the Waxing Gibbous Moon offers the chance to evaluate the direction in which things are going for you. Are you on the right track? How can you edit or change your plans to strengthen them? We’re often closer to our goals than we think during the Waxing Gibbous phase, so we’re called to instil greater faith and confidence in ourselves and our projects.
The Full Moon is the most recognisable Moon Phase and occurs when the Sun and Moon are on opposite sides of the Earth. During a Full Moon, external changes in our lives impact our internal world. Emotions tend to run high as a result of this, meaning it’s important to not make any drastic decisions as they may not be as well thought out as you’d think. The Full Moon is an ancient symbol of celebration and reaping the rewards of your hard work. This is a time for endings, closure and things naturally coming together (or to some sort of finishing point). Letting go and releasing all that we’ve done up until now will allow us to wind down as the Moon enters her waning phases.
After a Full Moon, the Waning Gibbous symbolises the Moon’s illumination beginning to diminish. This is the first of the waning phases where we are coming down from the high of the Full Moon. The themes surrounding the Waning Gibbous Moon are love, gratitude and sharing. We’re encouraged during this time to treat ourselves and the people we care about with gifts and attention. This is also a time to reflect on any recently closed chapters and any setbacks we may have faced. What went wrong? What would you have done differently?
The Last Quarter phase symbolises the Moon being three quarters of the way through her cycle. It’s at this point that the Moon makes another square to the Sun, creating internal changes that may be difficult to navigate. This Lunar phase is all about self-reflection, honesty and breaking habits. What’s holding you back? What bad habits are you struggling to let go of? The Moon is slowly transitioning back into her New Moon phase which will bring new beginnings for us. However, we cannot start fresh if we are still holding onto the past. Think of this as a major cleanse.
The Waning Crescent is the final Lunar phase before the New Moon and symbolises a time for restoration. Do you need to catch up on sleep? Have you set aside time to have fun? How can you recover from this Lunar cycle in order to move onto the next? Restoring your natural energy and frequency can look different for everyone. It’s here that we’re called to seek out whatever was noticeably missing from the past month for us— whether that’s rest, fun or self care. At this point, we may be feeling low in energy and are encouraged to embrace rather than resist the laidback flow.
Artwork: Camille Chew’s ‘Lunar Phases’