lunar astrology

A Beginner’s Guide To The Phases of The Moon

A beginner's guide


At first, understanding the different phases of The Moon can seem overwhelming.

There are two things that it’s important to bear in mind as you begin to get to grips with this knowledge.

  1. It’s unlikely that this will seem new to you, even if you’ve never read about it before. Humans on Earth have looked up to the skies for guidance for as long as they have had eyes with which to gaze, and you are a tiny little speck on a long line of ancestral heritage – most of which, will have been heavily influenced by the moon and her cycles. This knowledge lays deep within most of us, waiting to be unlocked and reclaimed (even more so if you identify as female), and as such, you may feel a sense of familiarity as you learn more. Try to treat this education as a remembering, rather than a learning of brand new information, and you’ll be surprised how much of this you intuitively already knew.
  2. The Moon’s cycles are constant and predictable – actually, a lot like us. She constantly moves from the New Moon phase (when our night sky is dark and she can not be seen) through the waxing stages as she grows ever bigger each night, to the Full Moon. Once she reaches the climax of her cycle at the Full Moon, she begins the waning stages of her cycle, getting ever smaller until she is no longer visible at the next New Moon, and so begins the growth again. Once you’ve got to the grips with this basic cycle-structure, you’re already half way to harnessing the energy of the moon’s cycles.

So most of us can confidently identify a New Moon and a Full Moon, if we imagine a clock, with the New Moon in place of the 12, and the Full Moon in place of the 6, then let’s replace with 3 and 9 with our Quarter Moons. For those not used to astrology terminology, these are probably what you, and Jaffa Cake adverts, have been referring to as “half moons”. You’re not wrong: when we look up into the night sky at a Quarter Moon, it is half of the moon that is visible, hence the term “half moon”, but we aren’t talking about what we can see, we’re talking about where the moon is in her cycle. When she’s at the 3 position on our clock style cycle, she’s a quarter of the way around her full cycle, and at the 9 position, she’s three quarters of the way around – no halves involved. So whilst what we might see is a “half moon”, these are referred to in astrology as the first and third (or last) Quarter Moons.

With me so far?

If we divide our clock face even further, then numbers 1 and 2 are what we refer to as the Waxing Crescent, waxing because she is gradually returning to our sky after being invisible to us, crescent because only a crescent shaped slither of moon can be seen.

After the First Quarter Moon in place of the 3 on our clock, we then have the Gibbous Moon at 4 and 5. This is a moon which is almost full, there is more moon visible than dark.

Remember the Full Moon is then at the 6 position, and when we move around our clock face to 7 and 8, we enter the Disseminating Moon. When the moon is in her disseminating phase there is still more moon visible than invisible, so she still looks pretty impressive – but she’s getting gradually smaller as she approaches that half way point between full and new, at the 9 position on our clock, the Last Quarter.

Once you move past the 9, and into the 10 and 11 positions in the run up to the New Moon, there is only a small slither of moon visible once again, and this is referred to as a Balsamic Moon, which eventually disappears as we enter the dark moon phase to begin again.

Ok? So the cycle goes New Moon to Waxing Crescent to First Quarter to Gibbous Moon to Full Moon to Disseminating Moon to Last Quarter to Balsamic Moon and back to New.

beginners guide 2

But you’re here because you want to know what these moon phases mean for you, right? So, if you’re prepared to accept that human beings are heavily influenced in their behaviour and the way that the respond to their experiences – by the cycle of the moon, then you’ll need to get to know the different energies at work through each of the moon’s phases.

I’m going to keep this brief for the sake of this post, as I only want to give you a very broad overview of these moons at this newby beginner’s stage.

New Moon: All about new beginnings, clean slates, trying again, and setting goals. You’ll hear a lot of talk about “New Moon Manifesting”, quite simply, that means making intentions for the coming moon cycles, making promises to yourself about what you’ll accomplish, and putting it out there to the Universe. This energy is deep, feminine, and mysterious – and also super powerful.

Waxing Crescent: This is about giving your dreams that first little push in to reality. It’s about exploring the territory. If you’re looking to start a new business, this is the market research phase. If you’re looking for love, this is the installing Tinder phase. Whatever you decided to manifest under the New Moon, during the Waxing Crescent phase, you’re beginning to nurture those ideas and flesh out a plan, as well as making the small movements that will give you the chance to actually follow them through.

The First Quarter: You put the plan in place at the New Moon, and you laid the foundations with the Waxing Crescent – next step, say “Yes!”. This is the YES moon and she’s all kinds of busy. Book a table (or a bowling alley, whatever) for the first date, book the plane tickets, accept the job offer, buy the shoes.

Gibbous Moon: Weather that storm! Things are starting to ramp up a gear as you approach the supposed chaos of the Full Moon and you’ve committed to making your dreams an actual real life thing with the First Quarter Moon. So now, keep up momentum, don’t think you’re done yet. You’ve got to the keep on rowing to keep your boat afloat! Meet up with him (what’s the worst that can happen? Ok that. Just make sure a friend knows who you’re meeting and where), keep writing the book, buy everything that you need for this trip of a lifetime – life is full of potential at this point but you’re also probably feeling pretty exhausted – keep at it!

Full Moon: This is the climax of the moon’s cycle, and the climax of your manifestation journey too. If you put the work in whilst the moon was growing, then you should be sitting pretty as things fall in to place. Some intentions take a lot longer than half a moon cycle to be realised though – but if you look around you at the Full Moon, she should be telling you that you’re well on your way. This is also the time to take time for gratitude. Put your positive hat on, and take a moment to acknowledge everything you’re grateful for under the Full moon. If you’re a particularly moon-sensitive individual (first of all, Hi! Me too!) then this is probably the time you’ll feel most anxious, uncomfortable or just plain weird. But if things are going well you might feel more giddy, excited and manic than usual too.

Disseminating Moon: Breathe, be still, and let it go. If things didn’t go to plan in the first half of the cycle, now is a good time to acknowledge that the cycle starts again in a few weeks and you always get another shot. If the Full Moon brought with it all sorts of intensity, now is the time to enjoy some self care, be quiet, be alone, and be gentle with your body and mind. Now isn’t the time to start a new venture, but take stock of what’s been happening lately, meditate, and recognise what you need to do differently.

Last Quarter: This energy is the soul’s deep clean. You’re half way between the glory of the Full Moon and the fresh, rebirth of the New Moon. You can’t go into a new beginning with a shed load of baggage weighing you down. Now is the time to clear out your house, your desktop, your inbox, your loft, your car, the bottom of your handbag, your friend list and your mind.

Balsamic Moon: I think of this as the healing moon. Now that you’ve made space in your life by getting rid of whatever wasn’t working with the Last Quarter, you can start to think about what you need. What will it be important for you to manifest with the next New Moon? Are you OK? Really? If not, why not? Find your medicine. Connect with the divine for inspiration – this might mean going to Church, if that’s your jam, but equally it could mean getting outdoors and surrounding yourself with nature, having a tarot reading, a reiki treatment, or a crystal bath.

And you know what happens next? You’re back to the New Moon and you’re manifesting the shit out of life all over again.

Refer back to this breakdown as often as you need to, it may take a while before you’re intuitively capable of adopting the moon’s energy, but it will come to you with practice. You can use my Today’s Moon calendar too, to check in with the moon and see what she’s up to right now, and adjust yourself accordingly to feel more harmonious and connected to her.


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