As April turned to May (and the pandemic continued to rage), my anxiety (about all the things) intensified. While summer is a joyful time for many, it has always been a difficult season for me. Because I work part-time in academia, summer means reduced income (and socializing with beloved colleagues), and living in south Texas during summer translates to living inside for the most part—the heat, humidity, and mosquitos usually make being outside for more than a few minutes less than refreshing. Since I can remember, summer has felt like a formless limbo period, and although I discourage myself from wishing away time, I find myself wishing to speed through the hottest months and wash up, once again, on the shores of the fall season.
Given that I’ll probably be in my home even more than usual this summer, I knew I needed to create my own structure and nourish my own meanings for the season. I decided to do something different (but super accessible) to find a way to find a way during the summer months.
So I started paying more attention to the phases of the moon.
Doing so has helped put me in closer touch with the natural world while providing me with a helpful sense of structure. Moon phase awareness reminds us that many aspects of life are cyclical—and even darker times (including when the night sky is at its darkest) can be times of growth. Moreover, tracking the phases of the moon can further our awareness that although the cycles of life—from seasons to menstrual cycles—repeat themselves, that repetition occurs with a difference each time: we evolve with each cycle, meaning no phase is exactly the same as the last time it occurred.
Who were you this time last year? Someone slightly different, I imagine. I bet you grow between moon cycles, too.
The especially magical thing about moon phase awareness is its emphasis on your active participation in that evolution—and your recurring, intentional self-reflection. Depending on the current phase of the moon, the tradition of moon phase awareness asks you to consider your goals or what you’d like to release. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Basic Phases of the Moon
A lunar cycle lasts about 29.5 days—pretty close to a month!—a span of time we’re already comfortable using to structure our lives. While there are technically eight phases of the moon, the following four basic phases are a great place to begin familiarizing yourself with the general themes in moon phase awareness. (If we’re getting technical, the moon is always “changing,” but there’s no need to make things prohibitively complicated!)
A moon cycle begins with the New Moon. When the moon is completely dark in the sky, it’s the perfect time to think about your intentions and goal for manifesting. Are there any projects you’d like to start (or revise), any states of being you’d like to move closer toward? What will blossom for you this cycle?
(Note: Your goals can be ongoing and renewed/revised each moon cycle. If you’re renewing a goal, consider the small, actionable steps you can take toward achieving it.)
Suggested activities: getting centered and thinking about what you want to achieve, journaling, creating a vision collage, planting seeds (literal or metaphorical!), sketching out plans, getting organized.
Next, the First Quarter Moon occurs. The energy of this phase is all about enhancing your efforts, making connections, or watering the seeds of a spiritual quest.
Suggested activities: putting your plans into action, asking for help from others, collaborating with your friends and colleagues, devoting time to growing your spiritual practices.
The climax of a lunar cycle is, of course, the Full Moon. The full moon is super special. Not only is it simply stunning, it also marks a time of metaphorical harvest: Take stock of what you’ve manifested thus far and celebrate! The full moon is also associated with magic.
Suggested activities: practicing gratitude, charging crystals, water, or oil blends under the full moon, casting spells, holding a full moon ceremony.
Finally, the cycle concludes with the Last Quarter Moon. The final quarter of the moon is a time for turning inward and reflecting. What is working in your life right now? What do you need to let go of? If you plan to continue working on certain goals, what will you do differently next cycle? The energy of this phase is also appropriate for between-the-worlds communication (if that’s your thing).
Suggested activities: practicing extra self-care, reading tarot, treating yourself to a restorative and cleansing salt bath, practicing a burning or purging ritual, journaling, engaging in shadow work, decluttering and making space for the blossoming of the next cycle.
Keeping Track of It All
If you need help staying focused on lunar energy, pick up a moon journal, or create one yourself using an online lunar calendar and a blank journal.
Moon Lists: Questions and Rituals for Self-Reflection: A Guided Journal—Unlike many lunar journals, this one isn’t structured around a specific year, so you can start whenever you’d like.
More of a digital person? I’m also in love with The Moon Calendar App. It’s beautifully designed and provides spaces to journal and set intentions. For each phase, the app suggests multiple appropriate activities (with accompanying articles to explain how to do them). It also gets pretty specific with its info, such as which House the moon is in and stuff about conjuncts—huh? 😉
However you choose to follow the moon–whether it’s as a simple yet poetic way to structure your goals or as a tool for enhancing your personal magic and connection to the spirit world—it’s likely to be highly personalized, which is what makes moon phase awareness so special!
Do you follow the phases of the moon?
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Photo: Siim Lukka on Unsplash, Amazon