This week, as we are under the energy of a full moon, I want to talk about lunar cycles. February’s full moon known as the Ice Moon, this is a time for soul searching, for taking an inner journey.
Lunar Phases – Our beautiful Moon
Night after night we gaze up at the moon’s beauty and marvel as it works through the different phases from new, to crescent, to full and back again. The moon deeply affects life on Earth. In fact, scientists agree that if it were not for the gravitational pull of the moon on Earth’s tidal waters, then life may not have evolved on Earth. It not only influences the oceans but our emotions, health and even the weather!
In this episode we will look at the phases of the moon so that you get a better understanding of each one. When we tune into the natural rhythms of the moon we can work with the energies rather than against them.
Despite talking about the moon, thinking about it and looking at it, the moon remains a mystery to us. It has been this way for billions of years. The moon holds a fascination for many of us – because of its mystery. Who can help being captivated by the beauty of a full moon and what it reveals? The silvery light of the moon seems to contain a certain magic all of its own. Something we have an inherent desire to share. The allure of the moon. It has a place in our hearts just as it did with our ancestral kin.
Lunar Calendars & Influences
Historically the moon gave rise to some of the earliest calendars. Because of the regularity of its cycle, ancient civilisations used it for time keeping and farming. Farmers used the moon phases to know when to plant and to harvest. It helped the ancient Egyptians work out when the Nile would flood. Whilst a solar calendar gave a more accurate measure of time and seasons, the moon was still useful to early humans. Even some religions base their celebrations and festivals around the moon. Easter for example moves depending on when the first full moon occurs after the Spring Equinox. The word moon comes from Greek, meaning ‘measure’.
The correlation of the moon’s connections to the oceans and tides has been known for some time. The moon not only affects the tides due to its gravitational pull but it also connects to cycles of nature. Many sea creatures spawn and mate during particular lunar cycles. Animals tend to be more active during the full moon. And in ancient times the moon was used to predict weather patterns – thought to be magic! Today we recognise that tornadoes and hurricanes tend to occur during the phases of the new and the full moon, more than any other time. And there is a tendency for more rainfall during the first quarter of the waning moon. The human pregnancy gestation period is calculated by lunar cycles too.
The moon’s rotation is tidally locked, meaning that the same lunar surface always faces earth. The sun illuminates this face of the moon. The moon orbits or moves around the earth, and the earth moves around the sun. Because of this movement, the illumination of the face of the moon changes. And that is why it appears different to us on Earth at different times of the month and year. When the moon is 100% illuminated we see it as a full moon and when we can’t see it at all it is a new moon.
In Western culture, the four principal lunar phases are new moon, first quarter, full moon, and third quarter (also known as last quarter).
During the intervals between principal phases, the moon appears crescent-shaped or gibbous. The word ‘waxing’ is used when the moon’s apparent size is increasing, from new moon toward full moon, and ‘waning’ when the size is decreasing.
When the sun and moon are aligned on the same side of the Earth, the moon is “new”. The side of the moon facing Earth is not illuminated by the Sun. As the moon waxes, (the amount of illuminated surface as seen from Earth is increasing), the lunar phases progress. Through new moon, crescent moon, first-quarter moon, gibbous moon, and full moon. The moon is then said to wane as it passes through the gibbous moon, third-quarter moon, and crescent moon and back to new moon. The terms “old moon” and “new moon” are not interchangeable. The “old moon” is a waning sliver (which eventually becomes undetectable to the naked eye) until the moment it aligns with the sun and begins to wax, at which point it becomes new again. Half moon is often used to mean the first- and third-quarter moons, while the term ‘quarter’ refers to the extent of the moon’s cycle around the Earth, not its shape.
Waxing & Waning
In the northern hemisphere, if the left side of the moon is dark then the light part is growing. At this point, the moon is waxing (moving toward a full moon). If the right side of the moon is dark then the light part is shrinking. The moon is waning (past full and moving toward a new moon). Assuming that the viewer is in the northern hemisphere, the right portion of the moon is the part that is always growing (i.e., if the right side is dark, the moon is growing darker; if the right side is lit, the moon is growing lighter). In the southern hemisphere the moon is observed from a perspective inverted to that of the northern hemisphere, so the opposite sides appear to grow (wax) and shrink (wane).
If you flatten your right hand with all your fingers together and hold it out at arm’s length, it makes a curve, like a backwards letter “C.” (If it looks like an “L” tilt your thumb toward the ground. See it?) This is the way that the Waxing moon looks. It would fit into the curve between your thumb and fingers.
You might find this easy to remember, when you consider that for most people the right hand is the active, doing, giving hand. This is the energy of the Waxing moon. And this is the hand that looks like a waxing “)” shape.
If you do the same with your left hand, you get the direction of the Waning moon.
Bear in mind that this description assumes you are at a relatively high latitude. The closer you get to the Equator the more the moon appears horizontal, with the crescent opening up or down depending on which hemisphere you are in.
There is the legend of the Moon Maiden. She collects the wishes and dreams of all living creatures on earth. She drops them into a goblet and swirls them together before they sprinkling them back on Earth as dew. Myths state that the German goddess Frigg lives on the moon spinning the lives of mankind. While the Chinese goddess Ch’ang O stole the potion of immortality from her husband. She drank every drop and flew to the moon to escape. She now happily lives there. The hare who lives on the moon gave her refuge!
To assure an auspicious marriage, marry twenty-four to forty-eight hours after the full moon, and the Scottish believe that a wedding should take place when the moon is full, thus ensuring a long and happy marriage.
The moon plays a very profound role when it comes to spell casting. Remember that the moon rules the subconscious mind. Bear that in mind when you cast spells.. Those interested in magic and spell casting can enhance the power of their spells by becoming acquainted with all the phases of the moon.
Before performing spells it is a good idea to meditate to help you to reach an altered state of consciousness. If you believe in higher powers and higher energies, you will naturally respond to the waxing and waning of the moon’s energies. When casting spells you are working with the subconscious mind, the elements, and with energy. You tap into the power of the moon. Spells require you to ignite the magic that you will be invoking, and then working with the universal life force, you become as one with the energy flow of the unseen. If you are patient, waiting for the correct phase of the moon to make your magic will enhance the ultimate results of your spell casting.
Working with the Moon Phases for Cosmic Energy Flow
Each phase of the moon has its own energy, and its own Power. When meditating, performing rituals or spells, the more you can align with the flow of Universal Energy, the more powerful your ritual will be.
The first peak of light after the dark moon. A small crescent in the sky. This is a time of newness, the beginning of relationships. The beginning of a new venture – the energy of this phase promotes new beginnings on any level. This is the time for change and for being open to, and looking for new opportunities, tilling the soil and planting seeds actually, and the seeds of ideas.
The moon is beginning to gain strength as it grows in size, and goes from a new to a full moon. This is a perfect time for growth and increasing things. For example, growth within a relationship, financial growth, a time for learning and gaining knowledge. If someone is thinking about pregnancy, this is a time of fertility. And it is an exceptional time for communication, in a business matter, or within a relationship. This is also an auspicious time for any legal matters, especially those where finances are concerned. This is the best time for healing.
During the phase of the gibbous waxing moon anything to do with increase is compatible; this is a good time for minor magic as the lunar energy is slightly weaker now before the power of the full moon.
The full moon is the most powerful phase. This is when we see the moon in all its glory. This is a time of enlightenment and heightened psychic awareness. It is a time when everything comes together. A time of ideas, also a time of commitment, to a person, idea or project. It is also a time of family, and or friends coming together. The full moon is great time for any spell work.
The Waning Gibbous moon is suitable for rituals associated with letting go, and banishing. If it is time to clear out the old and prepare for the new, this is the moon phase to use.
As the moon decreases in size, it goes from full to dark, and this is a time of letting go. It is also a time of completion. If you have wanted to change something in your life, this is the perfect time. It is also a time of ending anything that doesn’t work in your life. This may be a habit, a relationship, or paying attention to issues associated with legal matters. It is a time to pay attention to anything that you have been procrastinating about.
This is a time when the moon is not visible in the sky. This phase lasts for approximately two or three days. If there is something in your life that is unnecessary, this is the time to release it. It is also a time of recognising what you have accomplished in your life, and a time to plan for what you want to attain in the future. If you have been in a quandary and are unsure how to progress, this is the time for you to go within. Time to be honest with yourself about what is right for you at this point in your life. If you enjoy meditation this is a perfect time for that, if you have never meditated, there is no better time to begin.
Final thoughts on the moon
Keep a diary of the phases of the moon and notice how the moon influences you. Particularly notice the ebb and flow of your energy. Notice your moods, your behaviour, and document if your psychic awareness changes.
You can create an altar in your home dedicated to the moon. Use a small table and cover it with a piece of silver fabric. Silver represents the moon, so decorate your table with silver objects. Place candles on your altar, use white for a full moon, black for a dark moon, blue for the waning moon, and silver for the new moon. Place figurines of mythical gods and goddesses. Use incense, for example, burn lavender for a dark moon or jasmine for a full moon. You can use anything that feels right for you.
The moon represents the three phases of womanhood. The waxing moon is the maiden, the full moon is the mother, the waning moon is the crone.
It is very healing to meditate by the light of the moon. Imbue the mystical and magical properties of the moon, think of yourself bathing in moonlight. Since ancient times people have celebrated the moon and the magic of it. Divine Feminine energy is associated with the moon.
Each night we see one of the many faces of the moon, and the moon evokes a sense of mystery and magic in all of us. It is like a familiar friend who is there every night, stirring different emotions within all of us. Learn to understand the moon and work with it, allow it to enhance your life.