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Understanding The Moon's Phases


The Moon is our nearest neighbor in space.  Her movements and changes, through the passage of a month, are impossible to miss, and her effect on life, in the surge of the tides, is undeniable.  There is evidence that the phases of the Moon cause other shifts, other rhythms too, in the lives of animals and plants.  The Moon has inspired poets and lovers and given rise to stories of spirits and enchantment.  People who work magic also say the force of the Moon is crucial to their rituals.  But how well do you understand the behaviour of the Moon?  Learning about the phases is the first step to tuning in to our good friend the Moon.


The Moon takes approximately 29 ½ days to go from full, through waning, new and waxing, to full moon again.  The cycle is divided into four phases.

•    NEW MOON 

This is when the Moon appears in the western evening sky as a thin, silver sickle.  In the Northern hemisphere we see the semi-circle as facing left, so if you raise your right hand and curve your palm, looking at it edgeways, you can ‘cup’ the moon.  The curve points the opposite way in the Southern Hemisphere and at the Equator may look like a bowl.  In the sky, what is actually happening is that the Moon is moving away from the Sun, reflecting its light on one side.  Those who believe the Moon’s cycle is important feel that this is a time for new beginnings.


The Moon is now growing.  In the sky she is moving away from the Sun, rising later in the night and appearing like a ‘D’.  During this part of the cycle, growth of all kinds is believed to be stimulated, and activities connected with growth are highlighted.

•    FULL MOON. 

The Moon is now a perfect globe, and if the weather is clear she lights up the night with a cool brightness.  In days of yore this would have been very helpful for travellers and people who wished to meet secretly.  Full Moon is a time of culmination and fruition, when things come to a head.  There is evidence to support the idea that Full Moon can be disturbing to people who are sensitive – hence the term ‘lunatic’.  Animal and plant activity are stimulated.  Astronomically, the Sun and Moon are opposite each other, so the entire face of the Moon reflects the light of the Sun.


The Moon begins to appear wan and shrunken, rising later and later until you can only see her if you’re up at the small hours.  Her shape diminishes, through a back-to-front ‘D’ until it becomes a crescent that you cup in your raised left palm.  During this phase things slow down and often become more peaceful, if less dynamic.

•    DARK MOON. 

This isn’t really a ‘fifth phase’ but the very beginnings of New Moon, before the thin sliver is visible in the western evening sky.  The Moon is now invisible.  She is too close to the Sun to reflect any light, but only a day or so goes by before she is revealed again.  There are some people, however, who believe this is a mysterious time, when the hidden can be explored and states of meditation are favoured.

That is just a taster, explaining the basics about the Moon’s movements.  There is so much more to explore, about the lunar cycle, and what it could mean to you, your life and your spiritual awareness.  Meanwhile, if you are curious about the effects of the heavens on you, why not contact one of our expert astrologers at The Circle, for explanation and advice.

PUBLISHED: 04 February 2014

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