phases of the moon

Cycle Magick: Phases of the Moon

Timeless lunar cycles were observed by the ancients and continue to be utilized today by many modern spiritual practitioners. Recurring thirteen times each solar year, we experience a complete lunar cycle even more frequently than we do the passing of months on our solar calendar. Unlike our months however, lunar cycles occur at regular intervals of 28 days.

The lunar regularity, when paired with the odd groupings of our solar months, can create what appears to be irregularity. This is especially true when we experience two New Moons (the second being known as a Dark Moon) or two Full Moons (the second known as a Blue Moon) in the same calendar month. Despite appearances, using both the solar calendar and the lunar cycles allows these variant correlations to work together and inform one another, giving us a more accurate interpretation of the resonances at play on any given day.

Each of the 28 different slices of the complete Lunar cycle carries its own unique vibration, however there are two phases in particular that are most well known: the New Moon and the Full Moon. For the general purposes of spiritual practice, two other phases may also be considered: the First Quarter Moon and the Last Quarter Moon.

New Moons

silhouette photo of man throw paper plane

A New Moon is the zero day of the moon cycle. Earth’s shadow, as cast by the sun, completely obscures the moon and makes it seemingly disappear from view in the night sky. The best night for star gazing, this phase carries a resonance of setting intentions or planting seeds. When a New Moon occurs, we are given the opportunity to begin again; much like the energy of renewal and hope we experience mid-winter, we are often unable to manifest tangible results from our visions but we still begin to create a plan for how we will utilize the upcoming new cycle.

During this time, we are called to ponder the big picture, possibilities and goals. As it is with the stars in the sky during this hidden lunation, from within the dark and quiet we are actually better able to see what is usually missed. The action of this time is more cerebral and ethereal: we are not achieving our goals yet, but we are envisioning and planning them with great detail and heightened sensitivities. Setting intentions for the upcoming 28 day lunar cycle is best done during this phase.


When two New Moons occur in the same solar month, the second is called a Dark Moon. These rare phases can be observed the same way traditional New Moons are, however they tend to carry an even denser energy of possibilities and new beginnings. Any month with a Dark Moon can been viewed as significant for change or starting new projects.

Potentially, so much initiating energy can be difficult, especially if you are the type of person who is stuck in their ways or resistant to change. These times of potent reflection and intention are not the time for personal action however, and if you are already working with the moon cycle you will experience these events with more ease and grace. It’s helpful to note that the pressure felt during this phase will be internal and personal rather than external or social – this feeling of being under a microscope is for your own benefit rather than to expose you to the world.

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First Quarter Moons

half moon on dark sky

From the New Moon, Luna begins to grow in light as a Waxing Crescent. Gradually coming out from beneath the Earth’s shadow, the moon will reach the First Quarter in seven days when it is at 50% lumination. After this point, the moon continues to gain luminosity but it is now called a Waxing Gibbous.

This phase is akin to the energy of spring; the intentions and goals (or lack thereof) planted in our minds and hearts during the New Moon will have taken root in our material reality and we will start to see the sprouts of our ambitions and subsequent actions. This point of the cycle gives us the opportunity to check in with our intentions and assess our current trajectory, as well as make course corrections if we find ourselves off-track.

Full Moons

illustration of moon showing during sunset

Known for the “lunacy” that commonly runs rampant during this point on the cycle, the Full Moon is the most recognizable moon phase and carries an intense and illuminating energy. Much like the harvests of our warm and vibrant summers on Earth, we are now fully reaping what we have sown in the previous lunations (or forced to reckon with our lack of foresight and planning). The moon is halfway through the cycle and at 100% illumination. We may experience exposure of what usually remains hidden during this phase.

This phase often sees the extremes of human behavior because of its amplifying and revealing nature. On the one hand, people may feel extra vitality and excitement, especially when celebrating achievements or progress because of well set intentions and actualized goals. Conversely, a Full Moon may cause others to act out as “lunatics,” or otherwise express the chaos and disorder within them.

Finding ourselves negatively affected by Full Moons is actually an indicator that we need to be more focused and intentional during New Moons. At this point in the cycle we can not go back and plant the seeds we neglected previously, we must simply observe the consequences or disappointments we have manifested in order to allow them to better inform our goals for the next cycle. During this time, we are given eyes to see “the Devil in the details” and will be served well by these insights if we take them with us into the “big picture” visualizations of our next New Moon phase.


When two Full Moons occur in the same solar month the second is called a Blue Moon. This rare moon phase can be understood as an amplification of the Full Moon’s illuminating resonance and often allows for the uncovering of secrets or other types of harsh exposure. However, this phase can also bring much blessing and abundance if what exists to be exposed is authentic and valuable.

The work done during the other phases of the lunar cycle will directly prepare you for any Blue Moons to come. It is a remarkable enchantment to find yourself illuminated beneath a Blue Moon and find that what is revealed is the very radiance and splendor you have been intending and working towards for months! In this way, Blue Moons act as a occasional check-point that we can use to assess our personal progress towards our goals and are not to be feared as trouble or punishment. Juxtaposing the energy of Dark Moons, Blue Moons do promote external and social amplification – expect your private world to be magnified beyond its usual boundaries.

Last Quarter Moons

half moon

Similar to the First Quarter, a Last Quarter Moon expresses at 50% lumination. After the Full Moon we enter into the Waning Gibbous period until reaching this point in the cycle. From the Last Quarter the Earth’s shadow continues to grow and cover the moon, which progresses as a Waning Crescent towards the next New Moon.

At this phase of the cycle we are either experiencing the continued benefits of our careful planning or the extended consequences of our failure to set intentions and take action. Nature is a loving mother but she is not an enabler. In all cosmic wisdom, we are left to feel the repercussions of our actions, whether progressive or frustrating, so that we may better prepare for and act on future opportunities.

The Last Quarter prepares us for the powerful reconstitution of our next New Moon phase, similar to the preparations made for winter during the fall. Energy dwindles and we become more careful and conservative; this is a time of reflection and integration. Planting, growth and harvest of the current cycle are behind us, now we must simply store away the lessons we’ve learned to better greet the upcoming new cycle.