Waxing & Waning - Moon Phases & Their Meanings

Posted by Wednesday Addams |

Understanding the moon's lunar phases and their celestial, spiritual, astrological and symbolic meanings and affects

Celestial bodies have always captivated us terrestrial beings. But what are the different phases of the moon and why are they important to people?

You can put away your telescope and astrolabe for this one. This post touches upon everything from the cosmologic to the astrologic so you can have a well-rounded idea of lunar cycles and their significance.

Lunar Cycles 101

Let's get well-grounded on what’s going on up in the sky with that orb.

According to the smart folks at NASA, the lunar cycle consists of eight phases. Each month (29.5 days to be exact) the moon passes through all these phases to complete one cycle. And, one cycle equals one trip around Earth.

Moon & Man

Us humans have always revered the moon. Ancient cultures to modern-day societies view the moon as something that interacts or impacts daily life.

The moon has been associated with everything from timekeeping to women's monthly cycles to tides and agricultural patterns. And — even today — several cultures and religions use lunar calendars. Now, let’s take a closer look at each phase of the moon...

Phase 1: New Moon

The new moon phase is the start of the lunar cycle. In this stage, the moon is invisible because it’s positioned between the Earth and the Sun - blocking light from reflecting off the lunar surface so it appears black to us.

What It Means

It probably won't surprise you that the new moon often symbolizes new beginnings and fresh starts. It's like a monthly reset. Yes, please!

Phase 2: Waxing Crescent

The first sliver of the moon becomes visible during the waxing crescent phase. This stage lasts until the moon is half full.

What It Means

This phase is all about initiation and energy after chilling and cleaning your slate during the new moon phase. It's time to move forward with vibrancy and clarity.

Phase 3: First Quarter

Despite having the word quarter in its name, a first quarter moon is when the moon is half full. You'll be able to see half the moon. At this point, the moon's completed 25% of its monthly journey around the planet.

The first quarter stage only lasts for a few days.

What It Means

The first quarter moon is often associated with strength and coming into your own. Some people think of this phase as a point to pause and assess progress to ensure that their path ahead is actually going in the right direction.

Phase 4: Waxing Gibbous

Next comes the waxing gibbous moon. In this stage, the moon is more than 50% illuminated and kind of an ovalish-round shape. The moon'll keep waxing — getting "bigger" — until it hits full-on full moon.

What It Means

This is the last stage before the moon is full. So, it can be linked to that final push needed to accomplish a goal or task. It can also represent challenge to overcome or opportunity for personal development.

Phase 5: Full Moon

A bright, round beacon in the sky — that's your full moon. The moon is halfway through its cycle, meaning it's on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun.

What It Means

This phase signifies release, as in letting go of things that don't serve you so that you can move forward in a more healthful way. It can be about recognizing and honoring intentions. Some people find that relationships are more intense during the full moon period.

Phase 6: Waning Gibbous

Waning means "getting smaller." The moon is still more than half full but is becoming less visible.

What It Means

This is a time for shedding the sh*t from your life and having a gratitude mindset. Ditching bad habits, destressing, and purging sources of negativity are all in order. The idea here is that you'll be able to reveal your truest self and be happier or more productive.

Phase 7: Third Quarter

This is the same as the first quarter moon — but flipped. So, if the right side of the moon was lit up in the first quarter, now the left side will be illuminated.

What It Means

Understanding, responsibility, and activation. By now, you've journeyed quite a distance from the new or first quarter moon — you want to keep making progress and owning up to (and learning from) mistakes.

Phase 8: Waning Crescent

This is the mirror image of the waxing crescent moon.

What It Means

This is seen as a moment for closure and introspection. You're completing tasks and honoring agreements, then looking back to assess and acknowledge your growth as a person.

Coming Full Circle with Lunar Cycles & Symbology

Each month, the moon passes through eight phases. The moon and each stage of its cycle have held meaning to different cultures and communities around the world...forever.

Overall, just like the moon completes a monthly circuit, we too can go through regular periods of internal and external renewal. We can observe, plan, act, learn, reflect, and accomplish — and then begin again. That’s life baby!


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