Phases of the Moon
The phases of the Moon once seemed very mysterious to me. How did people know what phase the Moon was in? I poured through all of my astrology books trying to find the answer. All anyone would talk about is what they mean (and I’ll get to that too) but I wanted to know where the borders were.
The Four Phases of the Moon
It turns out, the phase of the Moon is based on aspect. Specifically, aspects the Moon is making to the Sun. Most people know that when the Moon and Sun are together (conjunct / ☌ / 0°) there is a New Moon or that when they are on opposite sides of the zodiac from one another (opposition / ☍ / 180°) there is a Full Moon. It’s even easy to figure out that the First and Last Quarter of the Moon is when they are at a right angle from each other (square / □ / 90°).
I think that’s why most people focus on those four phases of the Moon. They are easy to identify and find with basic astrological software or by looking at the Moon. But that leaves out the nuances of what working with the Moon can provide and it’s why I include all eight phases of the Moon in the Digital Astrology Calendar and this journal.
Wax On Wane Off
But what about the Waxing and Waning phases of the Moon and what do the words waxing and waning have to do with the Moon anyway?
Waxing means to increase and Waning means a gradual decrease.
A Waxing Moon is one that is increasing in light - the period between the New Moon and the Full Moon.
A Waning Moon is one that is decreasing in light - the period between the Full and New Moon.
The Nuance of Phases
Buckle in because this is where we lose most people. All four of the other phases of the Moon are either Crescent or Gibbous.
The meaning of Crescent gets a little technical but for the purposes of all things related to the Moon, it means less than half full. If it is a Waxing Crescent Moon, it is on it’s way to becoming a great big Full Moon but hasn’t even made it to the halfway point yet. A Waning Crescent Moon is moving towards being a brand new New Moon (and it’s allllllllmost there!).
Since this wouldn’t be any fun at all if it were easy, some people call the Waning Crescent Moon the Balsamic or Dark Moon. But this isn’t just about language, it’s also about math.
A Crescent Moon occurs when the Sun and Moon are semi-square ( ∠ / 45°) each other.
During a Waning Crescent the Moon is approaching the Sun and gets within 45° of a conjunction (remember that just means New Moon). Her light is dimming slowly.
A Waxing Crescent occurs as the Moon sashays away from the Sun and moves 45° away as she works toward becoming a Full Moon. Her light is just starting to shine again.
Gibbous is an interesting word. The primary definition according to Merriam-Webster is “marked by swelling or convexity especially on one side.” The secondary definition is “humpbacked.” Interesting, right?
Essentially, a Gibbous Moon occurs when the Moon is almost full. It occurs when the Moon and Sun are 135° apart ( sesquiquadrate).
A Waxing Gibbous Moon occurs as the Moon approaches her opposition to the Sun. She’s almost Full and becoming more luminous each night.
During a Waning Gibbous Moon (sometimes called a Disseminating Moon) the Moon has just left her opposition to the Sun (a Full Moon). Her light is slowly starting to decrease but she still looks pretty spectacular.
But what does it MEAN?!
Now that you know how they are calculated let’s talk about the easiest way to work with the Moon. It all comes down to the way it looks in the sky.
When the Moon is growing brighter, it’s a great time to be thinking big and putting yourself out there and letting your light grow right along with her. This is especially true as the Moon approaches fullness. If you want to do releasing work, do so after the opposition.
For example, let’s say there is a Full Moon on Thursday night at 10pm local time (local to wherever you happen to be in the world). You wouldn’t want to spend the whole day before that Full Moon trying to decrease something because it would be prime time to work on fully showing up and increasing some part of your life as the Moon moves towards fullness.
When the Moon is dimming or completely dark, it’s a great time to become more reflective and turn inwards. That means as soon as the Moon reaches fullness until her light becomes visible again near the Waxing Crescent Moon.
That sounds like a lot of reflection and processing time, right? But think of how powerful you are when you do take action from a place of reflection and deliberation. It can be life changing.
The key to working with the Moon is found in the process of reflection, which was the impetus behind the Digital Astrology Calendar. You'll be able to tell at a glance of your digital calendar where you are in the lunar cycle and begin to tune in naturally to what that means for you personally and professionally.
It's a tool I use *all* the time when planning personal and business meetings, launches, and all kinds of other activities.
You can view all of the lunar cycles for free and learn more about the calendar here.