From myths to evidence of scientific influence, the moon is deeply rooted in many cultures and beliefs. Ashtanga yoga practitioners do not practice on the days of the new or full moon, as they are considered days of rest. Other yogis and non practitioners utilize the moon for intention setting, letting go of stagnant energy, and more.

While there is definitely debate regarding the actual affect the moon and its phases have on people, there are certainly symbolic relationships between the moon and Earth.

Moon Phases

8 Phases from New Moon to Full Moon

Every 29 days the moon transitions through 8 phases to go from the dark moon (new 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 different phases of illumination. Each phase has a symbolic energy that can influence ritual or magic when it comes to invoking intentions.

1. New Moon

While many call this stage the new moon, technically the “new moon” is when the first sliver of moon is visible again after the dark moon phase. When it is completely invisible it is considered the dark Moon. During the new moon phase, ritual can revolve around setting your intentions or “planting the seed” of your intention.

2. Waxing Crescent

As the moon becomes more visible within the first 4 days of the new moon, this phase is called the waxing crescent. Waxing phases are when the moon’s illumination is increasing and crescent is when more of the moon’s face is dark. This phase is less about ritual and more about taking the actions to create your intention. Remember, performing rituals cannot produce your dreams if you take no action to make them happen. This is when the “seed begins to sprout.”

3. First Quarter

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 thus far. This is when the intentions begin to “take root.”

4. Waxing Gibbous

As the light becomes more prominent than the dark, it begins the waxing gibbous phase — waxing meaning growth of light and gibbous meaning more light than darkness. This phase will last for 4 days until reaching the Full moon. After your first quarter check in this is a phase for new actions. Adjust your plans accordingly based on what has already transpired and allow momentum to build. This is your last big push to move your goals forward.

5. Full Moon

The full moon is when the moon is fully illuminated in the sky. 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 phase is energizing and it’s a great time to charge your crystals and tools. The “plant” is blooming and open. The “meaning” is revealed and now it can be infused into the structure built during the waxing phases.

6. Waning Gibbous

As the moon transitions from fully illuminated back to darkness, it enters the waning gibbous phase. Waning means getting smaller and gibbous means more light than dark. This phase will last about 4 days. We deal with the aftermath of the full moon’s revelation. We should ask what was revealed and what can we do about it now, then take what we’ve learned and apply it to our intentions. This is a great time to reflect through journaling. This is when the plant begins to wither and offers nutrients back to the earth, to begin the cycle again.

7. Last Quarter

The light and dark portions are now equal in the last quarter but reversed sides from before. Now is the time to work on clearing out what no longer serves you. Rituals should focus on binding, banishing, and clearing. Like the first quarter, focus on balance again, asking what needs to be brought into balance to give you the space needed.

8. Waning Crescent

The waning crescent is the 4 day phase of decreasing light and increasing darkness. Here we continue to focus on the last quarter check in of winding down, clearing space, and finding balance before the cycle begins again.

Dark Moon

In the dark moon phase, the moon’s light has completely disappeared from view. This is the fertile void and a time for rest and restore. It is very potent for rituals.

Rituals for Moon Phases

Before beginning any ritual, be sure to clean and organize the space you are performing it in. Having a dedicated space in your home for this is helpful, and placing an altar to hold sacred items throughout the month is ideal. Clear away clutter, burn sage or incense, light a candle, you 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.

How To Make Moon Water

You can create your own moon water to use throughout the month for rituals by incorporating all the elements.

Start with a glass of water (Water element)
Add natural salt (Earth Element)
Burn a piece of incense (Fire Element)
Blow the incense out (Air Element) and place it in the water

Now you have sacred moon water that embodies all of the elements to utilize throughout each ritual. You may use this water to anoint things, during “checking in” rituals, or even to drink and bathe in.

The Use of Candles

You may incorporate candles into your rituals 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 into representing your intentions. 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 put it out, try using a snuffer.

New Moon Ritual

A month-long intention setting usually starts with the new moon. This is the beginning of the cycle and the seed of intention is planted. During this time, work with the 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 them. You may find it can take several months of focusing on one intention and as the work unfolds, you can shift & evolve the 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?”

Begin by writing your intentions — focus on what you want to attract in life, such as a relationship, new job, abundance, or more adventure — along with anything you want to get rid of or release — like feelings, barriers, or fears.
Say these intentions out loud, proclaim them into the universe. Voicing your intentions creates a powerful energetic vibration.
Symbolically rid yourself of what no longer serves you by writing it out and burning the paper.
You may want to “clear” your crystals or tools at this time, leaving them in the moonlight on a windowsill.

Full Moon Ritual

As you approach the full moon, you should start to see the fruits of your efforts. This is an energizing time that’s great for doing readings or divination. This is also a wonderful time to get in touch with your spirits / guides/ ancestors, as the veil is thin and makes it easier to connect with them during this phase. You may notice your senses are heightened and you have more energy and need less sleep. During this time, it is preferable to do rituals outside. Energize yourself and your intention in the full moon light and energy.

Begin by getting comfortable in a space that has the moon in full view.
Stare intently at the moon until everything else fades away. Let the moon be the focus of your vision.

While in this state of deep focus, listen for the messages you are receiving about your intention. Meditate on your intentions, what you desire, and if your expectations have been met or have changed. Focus on the gratitude of what you have received.
You may also use this powerful energy to charge your crystals, tools, and moon water.

Morgan Gertler received her 200HR RYT certification in 2014 from highly esteemed Kripalu teachers and then continued her learning in 2017 by completing her 300HR RYT certification with teachers from Yogamaya and the Iyengar Institute in NYC. Morgan also completed her Yin Level 1 & 2 trainings and loves being able to teach both sides, the yin & yang, of the yoga practice. Morgan views yoga as a vehicle to get back to yourself – through movement and breath-work, we learn how to live a more authentically happy & content life and meet all situations with confidence. When not teaching or practicing yoga, Morgan can be found writing, walking around town with her two dogs, Jagger and Bowie or browsing Sephora for more make up she doesn’t need. Morgan is also a regular content contributor for YogaRenew.

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