Full Moon rising, yellow hue, evergreen tree silhouetted at the base of the moon

A Guide to Moon Phase Meanings

The Moon. We all know and cherish her. Ever a shapeshifter, the Moon is constantly traveling and always changing her form. We recognize her shifting cycle as being made up of phases that denote the amount of lunar light visible at any given time from Earth. While half the Moon is illuminated by the Sun at all times, her orbit around our planet dictates how much of this illumination we can actually see.

As Witches, the Moon is often one of our greatest power sources. Many of us resonate with the tides of the Moon and choose to center our magical practices around her phases. There are also many correlations between the lunar cycle and the menstrual cycle. Both lasting about 28 or 29 days with similar tidal shifts in energy throughout, these cycles can inform the entirety of a person’s magical practice. We’ll explore these similarities in the guide below.

Note that your menstrual cycle does not have to be in sync with the Moon in order for you to practice with it. Think of your cycle as your own inner dial. No matter the phase of the Moon outside of you, you can practice with the Moon of your own body by working to the beat of your own cycle. This may be the most effective way to harness the synchronicity between lunar and menstrual energies. That being said, you do not need to have a menstrual cycle in order to work with the lunar cycle. All bodies can experience connection with the Moon and benefit from integrating lunar alignment into their practices.

Herein find a guide to the Moon’s magical energies, what powers they supply, and what kinds of workings may be most effective during each lunar phase.

Cover photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash.

The Meaning of the Dark Moon

New moon, dark moon, dark circle with a ring of light, dark background

The Dark Moon rises the day the Moon conjuncts the Sun, meaning their journeys through our sky are perfectly in sync. As the Moon travels alongside the brightest object in our sky for a day or two, she becomes completely invisible to our eyes, since the side of her that’s reflecting light is facing away from the Earth. At this time, energy is at its lowest. Take a day to rest, lay low, and ground your body.

Practices to align your energy with the Dark Moon: nervous system regulating (we recommend forest bathing or walking near a body of water); a grounding bath or meditation; nourishing the body, heart, and mind.

The Meaning of the New Moon

Crescent at the sky, new moon, dark background

The New Moon blinks open its eye when the very first sliver of reflected light can be seen. It is at this moment that the new Moon cycle begins.*

This lunar phase lasts from one to three days, and corresponds with the season of winter, the theme of initiation, and the menstruation phase of the menstrual cycle.

A New Moon is a period of renewal. Much like the light of dawn on the winter solstice that emanates a promise of longer days to come, the New Moon offers hope, inspiration, and levity as she breathes new life into our worlds.

During menstruation, the uterus sheds its lining. The body prioritizes rest as estrogen and energy levels are at their lowest point, reflecting the minimal visibility of moonlight during a New Moon.

This is the time for planting and planning. What seeds do you wish to sow? What practices, mindsets, or magick would you like to take root in your life? Channel this lunar energy into cleansings and workings for new growth.

Practices to align your energy with the New Moon: cleansing; divination (we recommend reading cards); journaling; beginning a new project or study.

*Note: Many folks consider the Moon to be New when it is still Dark, while others consider these to be two separate phases. We’ve separated them here to offer insight into their particularities, but what you believe and how you practice with the Moon is entirely up to you.

The Meaning of the Waxing Moon

Waxing Gibbous Moon on black background

The Waxing Moon is the period of time when the Moon’s light is growing. This comes in three phases: the Waxing Crescent, when the Moon is sickle-shaped; the First Quarter, when the Moon appears to be half-full; and the Waxing Gibbous, the convex stage when the half-Moon grows a round belly.

This lunar phase lasts between 11 and 13 days. It corresponds with the season of spring, the theme of expansion, and the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle.

A Waxing Moon is a period of growth. Imagine the unfolding of spring, when seemingly every corner of the Earth is crawling with life. Snow thaws. Birdsong swells. Light, food, and energy become more ample and accessible.

Similarly, hormone and energy levels rise during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. During this phase, the body, like the spring-swathed Earth, gathers its power to enter a season of fertility and production.

As such, the Waxing Moon brings a rush of momentum and vitality to the seeds she nurtures. Channel this lunar energy into workings for growth, attraction, prosperity, and vision-realizing.

Practices to align your energy with the Waxing Moon: intentional body movement (try walking, dancing, climbing, swimming, or yoga); creative projects; experiences that bring you joy.

The Meaning of the Full Moon

Details of full moon seen with a telescope, dark background

Two weeks into her cycle, the Full Moon rises slowly and swollen with light. At the height of her power, she stations directly opposite the Sun, driving the subconscious to the surface while shining like a magical beacon for abundance.

This lunar phase lasts about three days. It corresponds with the season of summer, the theme of fruition, and the ovulation phase of the menstrual cycle.

A Full Moon is a period of harvest and plenty. She hangs in the sky heavy as a blueberry bush drooping with the weight of hundreds of berries grown ripe with summer’s Sun. At this time we are reaping the bounty grown from the seeds sown when the Moon was New.

During ovulation, estrogen and energy in the body are at their highest. As the body releases its egg, the senses are heightened and sexuality is strongest.

The Full Moon supplies a wealth of energy that can be channeled into many different workings. Use this time to perform denser, more energy-heavy magick. Consider spells or rituals surrounding the themes of fertility, success, accomplishment, and culmination.

Practices to align your energy with the Full Moon: cook a robust and nourishing meal; take a spontaneous adventure; practice spellwork or divination; make moonwater for teas, baths, or future spellwork.

The Meaning of the Waning Moon

Waning Crescent moon on dark background

The Waning Moon is the period of time when the Moon’s light is shrinking. The three phases repeat in reverse: the Waning Gibbous, when the Moon is bulbous yet not full; the Last Quarter, when the Moon appears half-full; and the Waning Crescent, when the Moon is sickle-shaped again.

This lunar phase lasts between 11 and13 days. It corresponds with the season of autumn, the theme of contraction, and the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.

A Waning Moon is a period of decrease. Think to the season of autumn, when trees release their leaves as the Sun’s light diminishes. Where foliage has grown lush and green in summer, it now transforms in color and dies back.

When no pregnancy has taken form after ovulation, hormone and energy levels drop again in the body during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. During this time, menstruating bodies may experience premenstrual symptoms of all kinds.

As the Moon’s visible light ebbs away, it is an opportune time to drive something out. Channel this lunar energy into workings for releasing, banishing, warding, cleansing, and purifying.

Practices to align your energy with the Waning Moon: a cleansing ritual (try using our plant-infused candles and incense sticks); swimming; a meditation for letting go.

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