The moon appears to wax and wane, or increase and decrease, through four distinct phases as it orbits around the earth. The cycle from new moon to new moon takes approximately twenty-nine days. Because the moon is our closest neighbor, its movement has significant impact on the earth and its inhabitants. In addition to the obvious changes in ocean tide, the phases of the moon have been shown to affect planting, weight loss, growth, epilepsy, and bleeding, to name a few.
The first phase or quarter, known as the new moon, occurs when the moon’s orbit aligns exactly between the earth and the sun. The two are conjunct with one another. Because we only see the moon as it reflects light from the sun, when the sun’s light strikes the moon from behind no part of the face of the moon is visible to earth. The moon is dark for approximately the first day of this phase. The dark of the moon is a time for reflection, not beginnings. Because the moon orbits the earth at a faster rate than the earth orbits around the sun, within a day or two the moon will have moved slightly out of the exact alignment and we can see the beginnings of a crescent. This is technically referred to as the new moon. It is a time for beginnings of all kinds. The sun and the moon are in the same sign and can work together to accomplish a task with ease.
As the moon continues to move counter-clockwise around the earth, it will wax to a point where a quarter of the moon’s face can reflect the sun’s light. This is known as the second quarter or second phase of the moon. At this point, the moon has passed the sun and has moved into a sign three signs ahead of the current sun sign. This creates a ninety degree angle, or square, between the sun and the moon. There is tension between the two most important heavenly bodies. The tension can be harnessed to complete whatever was started during the first phase.
If you are observing the moon and do not know whether the moon is waxing or waning, an easy way to tell is to determine which side of the moon is lit. If the light is on the right hand side of the moon and the dark is on the left, the moon is waxing. If the light is on the left hand side of the moon and the dark is on the right, it is waning.
The next phase, known as the third quarter, occurs when the moon has reached a point where the earth is between it and the sun. The sun and moon are on opposite sides of the earth and are said to be in opposition. This is the full moon because the entire face of the moon is lit by the sun’s light. The sun and moon will be in signs that are one hundred and eighty degrees apart. There is great tension between the two and the time for completion has come. Studies have shown that blood loss is greatest during the the week before and after the full moon.
The final phase, before the process begins anew, is the fourth quarter. The moon has now moved past the opposition and is waning toward the upcoming dark moon. The final ninety degree square occurs between the sun and the moon and there is a need to reflect, draw back and restore energy before the moon loses its light completely.
As the moon makes its way around the earth, it passes through each of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.
During its monthly trek, the moon also forms geometric angles (known as aspects) to the sun and planets in our solar system. Traditional astrology teaches that the aspects work to intensify the energy of the moon by combining its energy with the energy of the sun or planet in question.
The moon connects with the sun or planets, forming aspects, while both moon, sun, and planets move through the signs. Approximately every two days, the moon will make a last major aspect with a heavenly body before moving into the next sign. While the moon is moving toward a point where the aspect will be exact, it is said to be “applying”. This is the most powerful period for the influence to be felt.
The period of time after the aspect is exact but before the moon enters the next sign is said to be “void-of-course”. The moon has no applying energy to the sun or any planet. Moon void periods can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. After the moon enters the next sign, the process begins again.
The period of time the moon is void-of-course is not a good time to make new decisions or unplanned purchases.
Waxing” means growing and “waning” means shrinking. One appropriate definition of “gibbous” is “swollen on one side.”
Moon Phases and Keywords: (a typical 1 month cycle)
New Moon – New beginnings, initiation, birth, bring forth, time to start projects, Start of a new cycle for a month. Begin the time of increase and expansion that lasts until the next Full Moon. Time to start relationships, plant gardens, renew. A feeling of energy, impulsivity, spontaneous planning. Fresh possibilities.
2nd Quarter Moon – A time showing what change is needed to take advantage of the seeds sown in the new moon. A time of “things come to a head.” Movement toward solutions. A time to set apart and go with your ideas. Begin to bring whatever you start at New Moon to fruition. Building, creating, planning.
Last or Fourth Quarter Moon – Begin now to tie up loose ends and resolve old issues, before the next new moon. Create the final outcome. Dynamic, conscious movement. Clearing, releasing, a time of reaping, harvest, pruning away the old to make room for the new. Prepare for birth – the next New Moon.
Full Moon – a time of culmination, time for things to reach fullness, bring plans and a project together. Emotions run high during this time. “Howl at the moon.” A time of romance, fertilization, relationships, emotions, feelings. Full bloom.
Coming in 2016