Whether it’s a bright, luminous glow on a clear, crisp morning, or a tiny sliver of a crescent just after a new moon, something stirs within me when I see the moon.
I have always tried to pay attention to moon phases as I do the cyclical changes that each season brings.
Doing this gives me a sense of connection with the Earth that puts my daily challenges and stresses into perspective, reduces anxiety, and fills me with a sense of peace and wonderment.
For ancient peoples, the moon was used as a calendar. Because the moon transforms as it shifts through its eight key phases every 29-and-a-half days, it was used to mark the changing of the seasons, and even the best time to plant or harvest crops.
The moon was seen as more than just a ball of rock in the sky reflecting the sun’s light back to Earth at night. The moon was mysterious and inspired the worship of countless moon deities.
The moon factors prominently into some modern spiritualities as well.
While modern society no longer relies on the moon as much as our ancestors did, following moon phases can give you a deep sense of connection to the cycles of nature, boost mindfulness, and keep you working toward your life goals.
Working With Moon Phases
What does it mean to “work with the phases of the moon”?
I am pretty new to this myself, but basically, I attach meaning to certain moon phases, and structure self-care rituals and daily actions to line up with the changes in the moon as it progresses through its 29-day cycle.
When working with moon phases, you commit to working on different areas of your life through each lunar cycle.
In a way, I use the moon as a spiritual calendar.
A simple way of working with the moon for spiritual or personal growth is to:
- Use the New Moon as a time to set goals and intentions that you want to fulfill by the next Full Moon, and
- Use the Full Moon to release something from your life so you can make space for something new and better by the next New Moon.
8 Moon Phases & Sample Rituals
During each lunar month, there are eight key moon phases that help keep you on track.
I see each phase as a checkpoint or mile marker though my self-growth journey.
1) New Moon
The New Moon is the perfect time to start a new habit, or project. This is the perfect time to launch a business, or a new diet, or even a 14-30-day personal development challenge.
The New Moon is like a blank slate, and as it progresses to the Full Moon, we can work on areas of your life that need more abundance – health, finances, relationships, creativity.
Keywords: Fresh starts, taking time for yourself, soul-searching, manifesting, setting goals and intentions, reboot.
Ritual: Light a candle, crack open a journal, and get really specific about what you want to manifest in your life over the next 30 days.
I like to use my mini cauldron (<– Amazon affiliate link), but you can also use a small, decorative box, in ritual as well. I will write my goal or intention on a piece of paper and place it in the cauldron. Then I will place an appropriate crystal on top (citrine for finances, rose quartz for relationships, orange calcite for creativity and joy, etc…). Then I cover with a lid until the Full Moon.
2) Waxing Crescent
The Waxing Crescent Moon is a welcome sight as the moon begins to fill in after disappearing during the New Moon.
This is a time to put in the work to manifest the goal or intention that you set during the New Moon.
Keywords: Manifesting, hustle.
Ritual: Each evening, take 5 minutes and celebrate your wins. It doesn’t matter how small, or if you have veered off course. Celebrate that you can start again tomorrow.
Celebrate that you made a green smoothie instead of eating a donut.
Celebrate that you completed day 3 of your 30-day challenge.
Always, always, celebrate your wins – every single day!
3) First Quarter
The First Quarter Moon shows up just when things start to get challenging. You may find yourself battling your willpower. The excitement about starting a new project or habit fades as the real, hard work sets in.
Keywords: Work hard toward your goals, resistance, obstacles that need to be overcome (usually the obstacle is YOU).
Ritual: Light a white candle and hold a piece of clear quartz in your hand. This is a time to get clarity. Reconnect to your vision of what you want in your life. It’s also a time to forgive.
Forgive yourself for falling back into old patterns. Don’t judge yourself or beat yourself up. Simply acknowledge where you are, and then commit to re-commit!
Read over your journal entry from the New Moon and reconnect to your vision. Fill in any gaps where you weren’t ultra-specific about what you wanted. Create a vision board. Create a schedule. Read a personal development book. Watch a motivational video.
Do this daily!
4) Waxing Gibbous Moon
The Waxing Gibbous Moon is a time to make refinements to your goals, and your strategy.
It’s a time to check-in with yourself and see what’s working, and what’s not.
Is your timeline realistic?
What are the major obstacles getting in your way?
What kind of support do you need to keep going?
Where can you find that support?
Keywords: Refinement, celebrating your accomplishments, endurance.
Ritual: Three rituals that help me overcome challenges, and obstacles, is to 1) Practice daily gratitude, 2) celebrate my wins – small or large, and 3) read my affirmations daily.
5) Full Moon
The Full Moon is a time to celebrate and reap the benefits of what you set in motion during the New Moon.
Now, you might not have achieved your goal in just two weeks. Perhaps you’re only half-way through a 30-day challenge. That’s fine.
It’s time to celebrate your wins over the last two weeks. Express your gratitude for where you are in life right now, and how far you have come since the New Moon.
Keywords: Celebrate, harvest, gratitude.
Ritual: While I highly recommend taking a few minutes each day to think of five things that you are grateful for, the Full Moon is a great time to fully celebrate the blessings in life.
Light a candle, diffuse your favorite essential oil (or burn your favorite incense), and treat yourself to some small luxury.
Then take a few minutes to celebrate your wins over the past two weeks.
Visualize the fulfillment of your goal that you set during the New Moon and be grateful that that goal/dream is becoming steadily fulfilled.
Write this down in your journal. You can even write a letter to the Moon and thank her for her support and encouragement.
6) Waning Gibbous Moon
The Waning Gibbous Moon is a time of releasing and letting go.
As you work toward any goal in life, there is always something that needs to be given up to facilitate the fulfillment of that goal.
Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and dive into some spiritual/self-growth work. It’s time to identify at least one area of your life that is getting in the way of fulfilling your goal/intention, and work toward releasing that in your life.
It could be negative self-talk, self-sabotaging behaviors, or procrastination. Perhaps it’s a toxic relationship, or fear, or relying too much on others for your own happiness.
Whatever it is, take this time to reflect, and identify one area in your life that is keeping you stuck.
The Waning Gibbous Moon reminds us that while we have made progress, there is still work to be done.
Keywords: Release, letting go.
Ritual: A couple weeks ago, Tracy and I shared a burning ritual that we did for releasing negative influences in our lives. It was a powerful experience.
The Waning Gibbous Moon is the perfect time to ritualistically release what doesn’t serve you. But don’t just do the ritual, be prepared to do the actual work involved, too!
7) Last Quarter
The Last Quarter Moon is a time to make space to receive.
During the Waning Gibbous Moon, you identified one area of your life that you want to release.
When you release something from your life, something else must take its place. This week, you are going to clear that space, and hold it for something better.
For example, if you ended a toxic relationship, then clear space to welcome a positive, motivating friend.
If your goal is to lose weight, then go through your kitchen and toss any and all unhealthy, junk foods.
If your goal is to be more creative, then eliminate an hour of TV-watching (or Facebook, etc…) and hold that space for creativity time.
Keywords: Make space, set boundaries.
Ritual: The act of de-cluttering, or even creating a schedule or budget, IS a ritual. It can be overwhelming, though, so take it easy.
Just do one small thing each day (ie: declutter 1 square foot of desk space, or block off 15 minutes to make art.)
8) Waning Crescent
You’ve done a LOT over the past three weeks or so. Self-growth is hard work.
The Waning Crescent Moon reminds us to take time for self-care so we don’t burn out completely.
Keywords: Recuperate, self-care, recharge.
Ritual: Pick one of the self-care activities from this list and do it today.
There is nothing ominous about a Full Blood Moon. The reddish color that the moon takes on during a total lunar eclipse is a result of sunlight reflecting off of the Earth.
Lunar eclipses do not happen very often, so when they do, I take them as a sign to shake things up and leap out of my comfort zone.
Eclipses are a time to finally make a decision that you have put off for too long.
It’s a time to take bold, decisive action.
It’s a time to put yourself out there, to breathe through the fear and hesitation, and rock the boat a bit.
Moon & Astrological Meanings
As the Moon orbits around the Earth, it appears in different areas of the sky. Because of this, the Moon is constantly moving through the different constellations of the Zodiac – changing signs every 2-and-a-half days.
While I am not well-versed in astrology, I find that incorporating astrological associations greatly enhances my work with the phases of the Moon – even though I don’t personally follow or necessarily believe in astrology.
Below is a list and quick profiles of the 12 moon signs with associated keywords/phrases that you can incorporate into your Moon workings.
Once again, the Full Moon is typically a time for celebrating, gratitude, and releasing, while the New Moon is for manifesting, and working toward dreams.
Aries: Taking initiative, starting new projects, putting yourself out there.
Taurus: Security, pleasure, getting things done.
Cancer: Connect with feelings, home and domestic life.
Leo: Leadership, confidence.
Virgo: Service, well-being, self-care.
Libra: Balance, harmony, compromise.
Scorpio: Healing, rebirth. Fresh start.
Sagittarius: Adventure, take a risk, try something new, get out of your comfort zone.
Capricorn: Structure, long-term goals.
Aquarius: Passion/love, unconventional ideas & approaches.
Pisces: Creativity, passion, reflection.
Moonology Oracle Cards
I use the Moonology Oracle Cards by Yasmin Boland for moon work.
The artwork in the deck (illustrated by Nyx Rowan) is absolutely stunning, and all of the major moon phases, as well as astrological moon signs (for both full and new moons) are depicted on the cards.
There is a little book included that has affirmations, key words, and some info about how the energy of each moon’s sign.
Yasmin Boland also has a book, Moonology: Working With The Magic of Lunar Cycles, that goes into further detail on how to work with moon cycles.
How To Track Moon Phases
Tracking moon phases is pretty easy. Here’s how you can do it:
Look Up! Sounds easy, I know, but it can be surprisingly difficult to get outside and look at the moon every night. We get busy and before we know it, we realized the Full Moon was five days ago!
Every evening, make it a point to find the moon. It only takes a moment or two to look out your windows, or better yet, step outside and look up.
Find the moon, note the phase, and turn it into a mindfulness exercise (say 5 things that you are grateful for, for example.)
Smartphone Apps. The second-easiest way to track moon cycles (and phases) is to get a moon phase app on your phone. There are many apps to choose from for both Android and IOS, and if you’re on an Android phone, you can get a moon widget that displays the current phase right on your home screen.
I use My Moon Phase – Lunar Calendar app (by JRustonApps B.V.) on my iPhone, which tells me a bunch of information about the moon, including which zodiac sign it is in.
I can also set up alerts to remind myself when the moon is about to be full, or new, or any phase I want to track.
Create A Moon Calendar. Most wall calendars have the four key moon phases for each month. You can also buy dedicated moon calendars, or simply make your own. Be sure to hang it where you will see it every day!
Online Moon Phase Trackers. The Old Farmers Almanac has a moon phase calendar on their website.
Additional Tips For Moon/Lunar Cycle Work
The top two crystals I use when doing any sort of Moon ritual are selenite (satin spar), and rainbow moonstone.
My favorite essential oils to use during Moon phase work are wintergreen (helps with letting go/releasing), frankincense, lavender, and cedar wood.
Do YOU Work With Moon Phases?
If so, please leave a comment below and share. What rituals do you perform? How does staying connected to moon phases and lunar cycles enhance your self-care/personal development practice?