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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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!