Lunar Lovin'
Young woman during 1 of the 8 moon phases, such as waning gibbous, waxing gibbous, and waxing cresce...

How To Use Each Phase Of The Moon To Lead A Smarter, More Creative Life

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by Lauren Martin, Roya Backlund and Valerie Mesa
Originally Published: 

There’s so much to love about the moon, which makes it easy to crave la luna’s attention, guidance, and mystical properties. All you have to do is stand in awe of the moon and let its glowing rays of light wash over you to know that you feel powerful in the moon’s presence. If you learn how to live your life according to each phase of the moon, you’ll not only be one step ahead in harnessing its potential, but also more empowered in your everyday life.

In astrology, the moon rules over your inner world; the part of you that no one else sees. As the moon lives and breathes in the shadow of night, it protects your secrets, your emotions, and your imaginary world. The moon is also the caretaker of astrology, sometimes known as the “mother,” so rest assured that, no matter what, the moon is always protecting you. However, as the moon travels through the ups and downs of the lunar cycle, the moon radiates different energies, impacting your life on a constant basis.

Whenever you look up at the moon, I bet you’ve noticed that it doesn’t always look the same. Sometimes the moon is bright and plump; a full sphere of celestial light. At other times, the moon is nowhere to be seen, as though it’s hiding behind the cloak of night. There are moments where it may appear like a delicate curl in the sky. There are also instances in which it looks like it’s been sliced in half. Believe it or not, each of these phases of the moon contains their own particular meanings. Here’s everything you need to know about the spiritual symbolism behind each phase of the lunar cycle:

1. New Moon (Beginning Again)

Scientifically: A new moon is when the sun and the moon are on the same side of the Earth. Because the sun is not facing the moon, from our perspective on Earth, it looks like the dark side of the moon is facing us. In astrological terms, this would be the moment the sun and moon form a conjunction.

Spiritually: Think of the new moon as not only your fresh start, but your time of retreat — a time when you can regain your strength to begin again. The themes surrounding the new moon are new beginnings, fresh starts, and clean slates. You should be using this time for an intense reboot. Try to envision yourself recharging under the energy of a new moon. Mentally throw all unwanted thoughts and excess junk into the trash. As you release yourself from the grip of the past, plant the seed of something new. Make a wish, set an intention, or make the decision to begin a new project. All a new moon wants you to do is start again.

2. Waxing Crescent (Embracing Desire)

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Scientifically: As the sun starts moving closer to the new moon, it becomes illuminated again. A crescent appears, revealing a thin sliver of light just before it waxes into a first quarter moon.

Spiritually: The waxing crescent moon meaning represents intention, hopes, and wishes. After recharging under the new moon, you may start to feel more motivated and ready to embrace your desires. This is when you should spend time breathing life into your intentions, taking the first steps toward your goals, and getting excited about the journey that lies ahead.

3. First Quarter Moon (Action)

Scientifically: The first quarter moon meaning is often called the first-quarter phase, which occurs a week after the new moon phase. It is the first half-moon after the new moon and therefore, referred to as the first-quarter phase, which is when the moon has completed a quarter of its monthly cycle of lunar phases.

Spiritually: Because the first quarter moon occurs a week after the new moon, this is when you may start to feel some resistance in the form of obstacles. If your intentions were planted during the new moon, your first hurdles at achieving these goals are experienced here. The themes surrounding this moon are challenges, decisions, and action. Your week of rest and intention-setting is over, and now you may feel inspired to work harder. No matter how hard it gets, remember the intention you set during the last new moon and make decisions with it in mind.

4. Waxing Gibbous (Redirecting Course)

Scientifically: A waxing moon is one phase away from becoming a full moon. This moon is easily seen during the day because a large portion of it is illuminated.

Spiritually: The themes surrounding this moon involve adjustment, review, and taking control. You may begin to notice some of the mistakes you’ve been making and this phase of the moon will help you realize whether you need to reevaluate what you’re doing and redirect course. Things are heating up thanks to the fact that the full moon is just around the corner, encouraging you to take your goals more seriously than ever.

5. Full Moon (Harvest)

Scientifically: A full moon occurs when the sun and the moon are on opposite sides of the Earth. Because the sun is directly across from the moon, the light completely illuminates it, making the moon appear completely full on Earth.

Spiritually: Because the sun and the moon are opposing each other, they are also in opposite zodiac signs. This brings heightened tension as you fight to find balance between two extremes. Emotions can definitely run high during this period as you struggle to come to terms with everything you’re feeling. However, the full moon is also a moment of revelation, reward, and of course, change. This is when the results of all your hard work are revealed. The seed you planted on the new moon has blossomed and bloomed, making itself ready to be harvested. A powerful climax to a story that began on the new moon takes place.

6. Waning Gibbous (Gratefulness)

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Scientifically: After a full moon, the moon starts becoming less illuminated again, waning toward the last quarter moon.

Spiritually: The waning gibbous moon effects speak to themes surrounding gratitude, generosity, and enthusiasm. You should be feeling the benefits of your hard work for the last two weeks. Your metaphorical crops are in abundance and you should be seeing some (albeit small) outcome from your previously set goals and intentions. You may feel like giving back to those around you, especially those who helped you along the way. You may even feel like imparting some of the wisdom you learned over the course of this lunar journey to someone else.

7. Last Quarter (Release)

Scientifically: The last quarter moon is the reverse process of the first quarter. After a full moon, the moon wanes and becomes smaller. Now, the moon appears like a half-slice of lemon.

Spiritually: The themes surrounding this moon are release, letting go, and forgiveness. Like the moon gradually letting go of its size, you may be ready to let go of all the baggage you’ve been carrying. Throughout the month, you may have experienced many challenges. It's under this moon that you will let go of things like grudges, anger, and regret. Set down anything that feels too heavy and pointless to continue carrying.

8. Waning Crescent (Surrender)

Scientifically: The moon appears like a toenail in the sky. This phase of the lunar cycle (aka the balsamic moon) reveals the final bit of light just before the darkness of the new moon.

Spiritually: This is your chance to surrender, rest, and recuperate. You may feel somewhat empty during this time. You’ve gone through an entire moon cycle and things have come and gone — willingly or not. You are now getting ready to prepare for a new cycle. There’s not much to do but come to terms with what’s taken place and surrender to what’s no longer in your control. In other words, let fate take the wheel.

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If all of this moon magic feels like a lot to process, you’re not wrong. Ideally, it’d be best for you to become familiarized with the new and full moon phases first, given that the new moon kicks off a brand-new lunar cycle, while the full moon represents the point of culmination, and emotional climax.

The new moon occurs when the sun joins forces with the moon via the exact same degree of a particular zodiac sign. And though the moon is invisible from our view here on earth, the combination of energies stemming from both of these ever-glowing luminaries is enough to initiate a brand-new chapter of life, which is why we are encouraged to plant our seeds of intention.

As for the full moon, it is often notorious for evoking emotional intensity, but there’s a reason behind this lunacy. For instance, the sun (a representation of the ego, soul purpose and one’s physical reality) sits directly across from the moon (symbolic of one’s emotions, innermost feelings and shadow side) during the full moon phase.

During this time, the opposition and gravitational pull grabs a hold of the ocean tides, both within us and around us, at least geographically speaking. This brings light to energies that were hidden from our conscious minds, as well as what may lack balance in our current reality.

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