Cycle Magick: Phases of the Moon

phases of the moon

The timeless lunar cycles were observed by the ancients and are still utilized by modern spiritual practitioners. Recurring thirteen times each solar year, we experience a complete lunar cycle even more frequently than the passing of months. Unlike our months however, lunar cycles occur at regular intervals of 29.5 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 is called a Black 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 variants to work together and inform one another, giving us a more accurate interpretation of the resonances at play on any given day.

Each different slice of a 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 in the night sky. The best night for stargazing, 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 restful energy of renewal and hope that we experience mid-winter, we are often unable to manifest tangible results from our visions yet – but we can still begin to create a plan for how we want to utilize the upcoming cycle.

During this time, we can ponder the big picture, possibilities and our goals. Like the light of the stars becoming amplified by this hidden lunation, we find that darkness can allow us to see what is usually missed. Actions to take at this time are cerebral and ethereal – we are not achieving our goals yet, but we are envisioning and planning them with heightened sensitivities. Setting intentions for the upcoming lunar cycle is best done during this phase.


When two New Moons occur in the same solar month, the second is called a Black Moon. These rare phases can be observed the same way New Moons are, though they have an even more resonance of possibility and new beginnings. Any month with a Black Moon can been viewed as significant for planning big changes or strategizing for new projects.

Potentially, so much initiating energy can be difficult, especially if you are the type of person who is resistant to change. Like New Moons, these times of intention setting are not prime for taking action, which might cause frustrations as well. However, if you are already working with the moon cycles, you can experience these events with more ease by appreciating the opportunity to reset and revive your goals.

The pressure felt during this phase will be internal and personal rather than external or social. The potential feeling of being under a microscope is for your own benefit. Challenge yourself to learn and grow from the experience.

Subtle Magick Journal

Embark on a spiritual development journey, guided by the phases of the moon!

First Quarter Moons

half moon on dark sky

After the New Moon, Luna begins to grow in light as a Waxing Crescent. Gradually coming out from behind the Earth’s shadow, the moon will reach the First Quarter in just over seven days when it is at 50% lunation. 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. Intentions and goals (or lack thereof) that were planted in our hearts and souls during the New Moon will begin taking root in our material reality. We will soon start to see the sprouts of our ambitions and the subsequent actions they inspired.

This point on the cycle gives us the opportunity to check-in and assess our current trajectory. It is time to commit to an action plan and start taking steps towards our goals.

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. Full Moons have intense and enlightening energy.

The moon is halfway through its cycle and at 100% illumination. Much like the harvest of summertime, we are now reaping what we have sown in the previous lunations (or may be forced to reckon with our lack of foresight and planning).

Exposure of what usually remains hidden happens during this phase. This is probably why we often see extremes in human behavior during these phases. A Full Moon’s amplifying and revealing nature can be confronting or confirming.

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 us to act out as “lunatics,” or otherwise express the chaos and disorder within.

Paradoxically, finding ourselves negatively affected by Full Moons is 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 to previously. Now is the time to observe any consequences or disappointments we have manifested, allow these experiences 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 is an amplification of the Full Moon’s illuminating resonance and may even allow for the uncovering of secrets. This phase can also bring heightened blessings 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. Few things are more enchanting than being illuminated beneath a Blue Moon to find the very splendor you have been working towards is being revealed! In this way, Blue Moons act as a occasional check-point to assess the progress we are (or aren’t) making towards our goals.

Juxtaposing the energy of Dark Moons, Blue Moons promote external and social amplification. Expect your private world to be magnified beyond its usual boundaries. This will mean discovery and promotion for some, while others will have to deal with revelations and their consequences. Accept whatever arises now as a learning opportunity that will help you refine your intentions, ultimately bringing you closer to success.

Last Quarter Moons

half moon

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

At this phase of the lunar 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 the next New Moon, similar to the preparations made for winter during the fall. There are final harvests as energy dwindles and we become more careful and conservative. This is a time of reflection and integration. The planting, growth and abundance of the current cycle are behind us, now we must store away the lessons we’ve learned to better greet the upcoming new cycle.

Subtle Magick Journal

Embark on a spiritual development journey, guided by the phases of the moon!