Moon Rituals for Guiding Intentions

Humans have always had a powerful and mysterious relationship with the moon, from myths to evidence of scientific influence like the impact it has on the tides. While there is much debate on the actual affect the moon and its phases may have on people, there is certainly symbolic correlations between the rhythmic relationship between the moon and Earth.

Black and white graphic of the moon phases and it's size in each phase
The moon goes through 8 phases every 29 days from dark (new) moon to Full moon and back again. Each phase can inspire a different ritual to invoke your intentions.

Moon Phases

8 Phases from New Moon to Full Moon

Every 29 days the moon transitions through 8 phases to go from the dark moon to the full moon. The phases are influenced by the rotation of the moon around the Earth, as the Earth blocks the sunlight from illuminating some or all of the moon’s face to us.

Most people are aware of the Full and New Moon phases. As it grows from a dark moon to a full moon (waxing phases) and back to a dark moon again (waning phases) it hits 8 pivotal phases of illumination. Each phase has a symbolic energy that can influence your ritual or magic in invoking your intentions.

New Moon

In the image above you will see in the right center the “Dark Moon”, while many call this the new moon, technically the “new moon” is when the first sliver of moon is visible again. When it is completely invisible it is considered the dark Moon. During the new moon phase ritual can revolve around setting and proclaiming your intentions, or when you “plant the seed” of your intention.

Waxing Crescent

As the moon slowly becomes more visible within the first 4 days of the new moon, this phase is called the Waxing crescent. Waxing phases are phases where the moon’s illumination is growing and crescent is when more of the moon’s face is dark that illuminated. This phase is less about ritual and more about taking the actions to actualize your intention. Remember performing ritual cannot produce your dreams if you take no action to make them come to be. This is when the “seed begins to sprout.”

First Quarter

After the Waxing crescent, the moon enters the First Quarter. In this phase the lightness and darkness is equal. This phase is a good time to “check in” on your progress so far. This is when the intentions begin to “take root.”

Waxing Gibbous

As the light becomes greater than the dark, it begins the waxing gibbous phase, again waxing meaning growth of light, and gibbous meaning more light than darkness. This phase will also last 4 days until we reach the Full moon. After your first quarter check in this is a phase for new actions to reach your goals. Adjust your plans accordingly based one what has already transpired, allow momentum to build. This is your last push to bring things to fruition, what is needed to wrap things up?

Full Moon

The Full moon is when the moon is fully illuminated to our eye. There is a great deal of speculation on the full moon’s influence on humans- from initiating the menstrual cycle (another 28 day cycle) to impacting people’s mood and mindset. This is an energizing phase, a time to charge your crystals and tools. The “plant” is blooming and open. The “meaning” is revealed and now must be infused into the structure built during the waxing phases.

Waning Gibbous

As the moon transitions from fully illuminated to darkness again, it enters the waning gibbous phase. Waning meaning getting smaller, and again gibbous meaning more light than dark. This phase will last about 4 days before entering the next phase. Now the darkness is creeping in. We deal with the aftermath of the full moon’s revelation. We should ask what was revealed and what do we do about it now, then take what we’ve learned so far and apply it to our intentions. If things did not turn out as planned, do we need to accept a different outcome? Use this time to reflect through journaling. This is when the plant begins to wither and gives it nutrients back to the earth, to soon begin the cycle again.

Last Quarter

Once again the light and dark portions are equal in the last quarter but reversed sides from before. Now is the time to clear out what no longer serves you. Rituals will focus on binding, banishing, and clearing. Like the first quarter we focus on balance again, asking what needs brought to balance to give yourself the space you need.

Waning Crescent

The opposite of the Waxing Crescent, the waning crescent is the 4 day phase of decreasing light  and growing darkness. Here we continue the focus on the last quarter check in of winding down, clearing space and finding balance before the cycle begins again.

Dark Moon

In the Dark moon, the moon’s light has completely disappeared from our view. This is the fertile void and a time for rest and to restore ourselves, it can be very potent for ritual.

Altar in the dark with candle, vases with herbs and plants, talisman, shells, fruit, small broom and bowl of water with flower petals.
During moon rituals it is helpful to have an altar to place various crystals, candles, and herbs to utilize throughout the month to honor the intention you are focusing on.

Rituals for Each Moon Phase

Each Phase Symbolizes a Different Energy to Work With in Ritual

When practicing Moon Magic or Moon rituals, you will invoke the different energy each moon phase symbolizes.

Before any ritual be sure to clean and organize the space you will perform it in. Having a dedicated space in your home for this would be helpful, and placing an altar to hold sacred items there throughout the month is ideal. Clear away clutter, burn sage or incense, light a candle (see below for specific candle incorporations), you could even play some soothing music. You’ll want to gather the materials you need, paper and a writing utensil, divinity cards,  “potions”, oils, specific crystals, salt to draw a sacred circle, and you may also want to make note of the four directions.

Illustration of woman at top of circle of stones with four candles burning at each of the four directions with altar in the center
Casting a circle before a ritual creates a sacred protected space to practice.

Casting a Circle

Some prefer to cast a circle before beginning any ritual. This ancient practice has its origins in creating a protective barrier for yourself from what you are “summoning” but like all elements of a ritual, it may simply focus your attention on your intention of holding for sacred space and honoring gratitude for the elements.

  1. Begin in a flat open space
  2. Note the four directions
  3. Place a simple representation of each of the four elements at each corresponding point around an imagined circle, about 5 or 6 feet in diameter: Earth/north, Air/east, Fire/south, Water/west. Ideas for representations include:
  1. Earth: rock, crystal, potted plant, ceramic dish
  2. Air: feather, incense with holder, sage bundle
  3. Fire: candle, essential oil burner with tea light
  4. Water: sea shell, chalice with water in it
  5. You will then call the “spirits” of each direction, starting with East/ Air, then South/ Fire, then West/ Water, and finally North / Earth. For each direction you may summon elemental energy, or spirits of that direction, for example, “ Spirits of the Air, I call you.” As you call each element, visualize and focus your thoughts on feeling that element, wind in your hair for air, to feeling the bare Earth under your feet for Earth.
  6. Still facing north, become aware of your feet and send a column or roots of light deep into the core of the Earth. Bring golden white light up from the center of the earth and into your body. Say, “Mother Earth, I call on you.”
  7. Next, send branches or a column of light up from the crown of your head, out of the earth’s atmosphere and into the Infinite Cosmos. Bring golden white light down from the Cosmos and down into your body. Say, “Father Sky, I call on you.”
  8. Feel protected and contained on all sides, as well as from above and below. Feel gratitude for this Divine support and say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. The circle is cast. Blessed be.”
  9. After completing the ritual you’ll want to close the circle by thanking each direction and element as you face its direction and acknowledging it like, ““Water, you were here, and I thank you.” Be sure to include Mother Earth and Father Sky”
  10. Finally state, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. Blessed be/ And so it is/ So mote it be.”And after a moment, say, “The circle is open, but never broken. The love of the Goddess is forever in my heart. Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again.”

Sacred / Moon Water

You can create your own sacred water to use throughout the month’s rituals, by incorporating all the elements. If you feel inclined you may cast a circle before creating your water.

  1. Start with a glass of spring water (Water element)
  2. Add natural salt (Earth Element)
  3. Burn a piece of incense (Fire Element)
  4. Blow the incense out (Air Element) and place it in the water

Now you have sacred water that embodies all of the elements to utilize throughout each ritual.  You may use this as “holy” water to anoint things, during “checking in” rituals, or even to drink and bathe in.  

Altar with 2 candles burning with spell book, journal, large crystal and sage in between them.
Candle magic can be used during ritual to incorporates the element of fire to ignite or release your energy.

Candle Magic

You may incorporate candle magic especially during the new and full moon, by lighting a candle with your intention and focusing on the energy you are invoking. For the new moon you can use a black candle, for the full, a white candle, that you scratch words or symbols representing your intentions onto it. You can anoint the candle with oils, pushing the oil up the candle to attract energy, or down the candle to banish energy. Ideally you let this candle burn out in one sitting but if you must extinguish it try doing so with wet fingers.

New Moon Ritual

Most begin a month long intention setting ritual at the new moon. This is the birth of the cycle and where you will plant the seed of your intention. During this time you will work with the newness and possibilities by establishing what you desire. If you are practicing moon magic this is a great time to perform abundance or prosperity spells. But if you simply want to begin a mindful practice of nurturing your intentions, a simple ritual through the moon phases can help you materialize your intentions. You may find it may take several months of focusing on one intention and as the work unfolds you can shift and evolve your focus around the intention. Generally though you’ll want to aim to focus on one intention at a time.  If you’re having trouble finding an intention to focus on ask yourself, “If nothing could fail, what would I ask for?”

  1. Begin by writing your intentions out of what you want to attract in your life, like a relationship, a new job, abundance, or more adventure-- along with anything you want to get rid of or release- like feelings, barriers or fears.
  2. Say these intentions out loud, proclaim them energetically into the universe. Voicing your intentions creates a powerful energetic vibration
  3. Disseminate your intentions through the four elements, you may choose one if it seems fitting or incorporate all of them using the Moon water.
  4. Symbolically rid yourself of what no longer serves you- you can write these out and burn them, or rid yourself of them with one or all of the elements.
  5. You may want to “clear” your crystals or tools at this time leaving them in the “moon light” or lack thereof to clean their energy.
Silhouette of women sitting in front of a full moon
The energy of the full moon is energizing and a time to be grateful for what you have received.

Full Moon Ritual

As you approach the full moon your should be seeing the fruits of your efforts. This is an energizing time great for doing readings or divination. This is also a wonderful time to commune with your spirits / guides/ ancestors as the veil is thin now to connect with them best during this phase. You may notice your senses are heightened and you have more energy/ need less sleep. Ask yourself, what am I open to seeing at this time? What am I ready to receive? During this time it is preferable to do ritual outside. Energize yourself and your intention in the full moon light and energy.

  1. Begin by getting comfortable in a space with the moon in full view.
  2. Stare intently at the moon until everything else fades away. Let the moon dominate your vision- be open to its energy
  3. While in this state of deep focus listen for the messages you are receiving about your intention. Meditate on your intentions, what you desire, if your expectations have been met or have evolved. Focus on the gratitude of what you have received.
  4. It’s important when complete, you slowly ground yourself, one good way is to eat something heavy.
  5. You may also use this powerful energy to charge your crystals, tools, and moon water.

First/ Last Quarter Check In Ritual

As you check in on your intentions and how they have progressed, and what still needs done, use your sacred moon water in ritual. Using 2 glasses pour the sacred water back and forth until it feels even and balanced. Then place these glasses on your alter. During the last quarter you may also want to burn herbs or incense and take a ritual bath, releasing and cleansing what you need to let go of.

Embracing the Moon Cycles

This process of transitioning through the phases is constant, and the more aware you are of it, the more you can harness this every present energy and notice its impact on the cycles of your life. Do only what works for you and serves you, make the rituals personal and customized for what works for you. Once you harness the energy of the phases the power to manifest what you desire will only grow!

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Lani Redinger
Lani Redinger is a professional writer, editor, and bibliophile from Pittsburgh, PA.
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