The moon has long been a symbol of power and grace. Throughout history and across countless ancient cultures, the moon has captivated the human imagination. And in astrology, it’s believed that the moon speaks to who you are under the surface. It’s the part of yourself that other people don’t see – and understanding your connection to the moon can be one of the best ways to practice self-care, nurture your emotional needs, and make magic out of the mundane.
If you've ever read your horoscope or cast your birth chart or stared up at the stars set against a clear evening sky–you know that the moon holds a lot of power. ‘Moon mapping' is a practice that allows you to directly access the power of the moon and use it as a guide for your life. The magic of doing magic is that you can do it whenever you want with the tools you have on hand. Sometimes though, it’s nice to have a little bit of a boost of luck.
MEET THE EXPERT:
Sarah Faith Gottesdiener is the author of The Moon Book, host of Moonbeaming Podcast, and spiritual guide who has worked with several A-list celebrities to help them integrate spirituality into their lives and live more intentionally. She has a decade of experience teaching courses in lunar living, tarot, astrology, and more.
Read on to learn what each of the phases of the moon means spiritually in this detailed guide to 'moon mapping' from a professional astrologer.
What Do Moon Phases Mean In Astrology?
The moon is a powerful force of change in astrology. Astrologers track the moon’s phases and its position in the zodiac to learn how the collective will experience and express our feelings and fears and dreams during any given time. “The moon represents the seasons and cycles of nature; linked to the tides and gravity, it is also our closest cosmic body. That means it is often thought of as a filter of the cosmos, a translator to whatever is going on in our universe,” says Gottesdiener.
Because the moon takes less than a month to move through all eight phases of the lunar cycle, it can significantly change our entire view of the world in just a short few weeks. Using the energy of the moon to map out your life path can help you embrace a more cosmically aligned way of living. Look to the moon for insight into how in tune you are with your emotions, intuition, unconscious thoughts, and desires.
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What Are The Eight Phases Of The Moon?
The lunar cycle lasts 28 days from start to finish. These eight phases are the new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, third quarter, and waning crescent. Like a well-designed celestial clock, the moon cycles help us track not only time and our position in the stars but also our connection to the cosmos. “Moon mapping reminds us to tend to the inside as much as the outside, to release emotions and energy, and that we are meant to be fluid, evolving humans that need to collaborate with nature,” says Gottesdiener. Here’s what each phase of the moon represents.
The new moon phase begins the start of the month-long lunar cycle. The new moon sets the stage for important developments that will unfold during the following moon phases. These changes can come from internal or external forces of change. Embrace this time to let go of old limiting beliefs and step into a more expressive and raw version of yourself. During this phase of the moon, you’re likely to feel a boost of energy behind new projects or ideas. The key to making the most of the new moon phase is to cultivate a sense of openness and curiosity in life.
Waxing Crescent Moon
The next phase of the lunar cycle is the waxing crescent moon, a time when the moon is growing in brightness and symbolizes a time of taking action to manifest new ideas. There is still an air of mystery and possibility, making this a great time for setting intentions and taking the first steps toward a new venture. During this phase, the new direction of your unfolding lunar cycle will begin to reveal itself. The key to making the most of the waxing crescent phase is to let go of the need for control.
First Quarter Moon
When the moon reaches the first quarter phase, also known as a half moon, it’s time to check in on the progress of your plans. This phase occurs about a week after the new moon phase–and marks a major checkpoint of the moon mapping cycle. There’s no going back once you’ve hit this stage of the cycle. Your plans are firmly taking root–and it’s time to make some brave and bold decisions that will help put you ahead. The key to making the most of the first quarter moon phase is to express yourself with courage and confidence.
Waxing Gibbous Moon
The waxing gibbous phase of the lunar cycle can be a bit tricky to navigate. This phase of the moon tests your ability to make a commitment and do the hard work it takes to succeed. Waxing gibbous moons are intense periods of activity, productivity, communication, navigation, compromising, and hustling. You’re not going to get much sleep during this period of time. The key to making the most of the waxing gibbous phase is to be flexible and open-minded in the face of unforeseen challenges.
The full moon phase is the peak of the lunar cycle’s energy. This is the time to bask in the fruits of all your hard work: and celebrate everything you had to overcome to get here. Full moon cycles can feel restless due to their electric energy. However, it’s best to use this time to rest and recharge. This might be a good time to light a meditation candle or use journal prompts or practice your favorite full moon ritual. The key to making the most of the full moon phase is to detach from the outcome and fully embrace the message the universe is trying to send you.
Waning Gibbous Moon
After the full moon, we watch as the moon begins to wane and get smaller and less visible to the naked eye from Earth. The waning gibbous moon allows you to shift gears and pick up speed toward your plans. You can expect to feel your energy working in stronger alignment with your vision for the future. Accomplishing your goals feels effortless. Waning gibbous moons allow you to shift into stronger alignment with the new you. The key to making the most of the waning gibbous moon is to release expectations, expand your mind, and challenge yourself.
Last Quarter Moon
During this time, the moon is beginning to lose its illumination and begins turning toward the start of another lunar phase. This is a time of internal focus and cleansing and planning and releasing and intense awareness. Last quarter moon phases encourage you to make a list of what’s weighing you down and find a way to leave those things behind. It’s also a time to celebrate your progress and embrace the power of transformation. The key to making the most of the last quarter moon phase is to make space for new blessings and gifts in your life.
Waning Crescent Moon
The waning crescent moon is the final lunar phase before the new moon returns and resets the cycle. Surrender yourself to the power of the universe. Your journey of personal growth will continue as the moon cycle begins again. This final phase of the moon is often seen as the most mature or wisest of the lunar phases–which makes it an ideal time to reflect on your spiritual growth and progress. The key to making the most of the waning crescent moon phase is to listen for whispers of wisdom from the stars.
How to Use the Moon's Phases for Manifestation
Working with the moon's phases can be a powerful tool in your spiritual wellness routine. And luckily, manifesting with the lunar cycle isn’t as intimidating as it sounds at first. Think of moon mapping the same way you would check the weather. You can’t help what the sky is doing, but knowing what’s in store for you day-to-day can help you make better decisions. “The moon is a mirror. If we work with the moon consistently it can help us connect to our interior more clearly, and explain more why we might be feeling the way that we do,” explains Gottesdiener.
You can use moon mapping and tracking the lunar phases to align your intentions and goals with the natural cycles of the moon. Before you begin working with the moon's phases or making moon water or meditating under la luna, it’s important to clarify your intentions and be clear about what you want to manifest. Don’t be afraid to get specific with your plans. The energy of the moon can serve as a powerful catalyst for change, but only if you’re willing to do the work. Here's how to do it.
Keep Track Of The Lunar Cycles
There are plenty of free apps and tools available for your phone. Moonly or the Moon Calendar or SkyView® Lite are all great options, but there are countless options to choose from. Or if you prefer journaling, a specially designed moon phase journal can help you track your moon mapping journey. “The moon helps us live more intuitively and consciously,” explains Gottesdiener. “Knowing what phase the moon is in and having a lunar practice can gently help bring us back to ourselves and the phase of life we’re in.”
Set Intentions Based On The Lunar Phases
Each lunar phase has its unique qualities and energetic symbolism. In addition to the phase of the moon, you’ll want to take into consideration what zodiac sign the moon is in, as well as what aspects the moon is making to other planets in the sky. By aligning your actions with the lunar phases, you can stop working against your best interest and move in sync with the ebb and flow of the universe. Spiritual practices are very personal and unique to each individual, so feel free to adapt anything you see to suit your beliefs.
Embrace Wellness And Radical Self Love
Because the moon represents emotions and hidden feelings, it’s believed that the phases of the moon can impact human emotions and your overall well-being. “The moon represents what we need in order to feel loved, cared for, and safe. Inner child work and reparenting, as well as intimate relationships, are all under this domain,” Gottesdiener says. The moon has the power to transform our perspective of the world and bring the subconscious mind to the surface. Embrace whatever comes your way during these lunar phases and use moon mapping to guide the way.