Almost everyone has observed the moon’s many faces. Some nights, the moon appears whole and rotund, a great glowing orb that lights up the night sky. Others, it’s a mere sliver and barely discernable.
The moon’s phases have never been without significance. Throughout early civilization, they were a vital means of tracking time, and whole calendar systems were created based on the moon’s appearance. In fact, several Asian and a number of Middle Eastern cultures still celebrate important holidays that align with specific phases of the moon.
Today, we rarely rely on the moon as practical time-keeping tool. Yet the moon and its phases still wield tremendous influence. Many of us feel spiritually and emotionally drawn to the moon’s phases, as each boasts a unique beauty and magnetism. Fluctuating between inner calmness and heightened productivity, you might even notice yourself experiencing certain emotions during certain phases of the moon. This is hardly coincidental, as each phase is said to represent and exert a distinct energy, offering us direction and inspiring reflection as we move through the unique phases of our own lives.
Though the moon is constantly changing, there are eight scientifically recognized phases of the moon:
- New moon
- Waxing crescent
- First quarter
- Waxing gibbous
- Full moon
- Waning gibbous
- Last quarter
- Waning crescent
Hardly random, the phases fall in a set pattern, which takes about 29.5 days to complete. Read on to learn what the various phases of the moon represent.
During a New Moon, the moon sits between the Earth and the Sun, and consequently isn’t visible to the human eye. The New Moon is considered “new” because it marks the start of the lunar cycle. It represents new beginnings, rebirth, potential, and stillness. It’s an excellent time to take stock of where you are, set new intentions, and even create a to do list for the following month. You can even perform a special New Moon ritual, setting aside time to reflect on this unique period.
A waxing moon is the period of time when the moon appears to slowly grow fuller and bigger. This period includes the phases of waxing crescent, first quarter and waxing gibbous. The waxing moon represents growth, personal development, decision-making, and progress. When the moon is waxing, you might find yourself concentrating more fully on your goals or taking more careful yet deliberate actions.
Also known as the harvest moon, the full moon holds much power. During this time, the moon and the sun sit on opposite sides of the earth, lending the moon its bright, circular appearance.
The full moon represents illumination, clarity and completion. When the moon is full, you might experience heightened emotions, increased energy and a profound sense of creativity. Some even report receiving vital messages during the full moon. When a full moon hits, pay attention to your thoughts and the world around you, as the universe might be telling you something important.
When the moon is waning, it appears to fade gradually from the sky (though of course, it’s always there). A waning moon includes the phases of waning gibbous, last quarter, and waning crescent. It symbolizes letting go, release, retreat, and surrender. This is a great time for cleansing and removing clutter, both literal and personal. You can also look back on the previous month and consider what worked for you and what didn’t, giving yourself a quiet moment for reflection.
This next moon cycle, take time during each phase to notice the moon and how it makes you feel. Consider how you might use the energy of each period to focus on your life.