The moon governs many magical workings. Even if you are not doing work specifically with lunar energies or entities, the moon does provide a guideline for the type of work being performed. Of course, there are also other factors that you should consider, such as the planetary day and hour of the work.
If you picture the movement of the moon in terms of a clock whose hands are moving backward. The moon rests on the clock's hour hand, Earth sits at the clock's center, while the sun shines far off in the direction of 12 o'clock. As the moon orbits counterclockwise around Earth, its position relative to the sun and Earth changes, giving us the varied phases of the moon. Each phase of the moon lasts approximately 5 days.
The New Moon:
The first phase in the lunar cycle is the new moon. The moon is positioned between the sun and Earth at 12 o'clock. From Earth, the sun and moon appear to be in the same part of the sky and will rise and set together. The side of the moon that receives the sun's light is facing away from Earth, so no moon is visible to us on Earth's surface. On a very clear night, you might be able to make out a faint gray outlined view of the moon. This comes from the light of the sun being refracted off the Earth and back out to the moon.
The New Moon phase is best used for personal growth, healing and blessing of new projects or ventures. It's also a good time to cleanse and consecrate new tools and objects you wish to use during rituals, ceremonies or an upcoming festival.
One day after the new moon, a faint sliver outline can be seen low on the western horizon at sunset. The moon has moved from new to a waxing crescent phase. As the moon continues in its counterclockwise orbit, the crescent grows larger, or waxes. One week later, the moon reaches its second primary phase, the first quarter moon. Accordingly, the moon has moved one quarter of the way around Earth.
The First Quarter:
At the first quarter, the moon sits at 9 o'clock. The sun, Earth, and moon form a right triangle on the left side of the clock. Here only half of the moon's disk is illuminated. At first quarter, the moon rises 6 hours after the sun – at about noon. It reaches its highest point at sundown and sets around midnight. That means the moon can be seen during daylight hours in the afternoon.
The Waxing moon is best used for attraction magic, inner love spells, protection for couples and healing energy for couples. What you want to attract to yourself and your path can be enhanced during this phase of the moon.
For several days after first quarter, the moon continues to wax but it is in a waxing gibbous phase instead of a waxing crescent. A gibbous moon is more than a quarter moon but less than a full moon. During this phase, the moon moves from 9 o'clock to 6 o'clock on the dial, and the sun-Earth-moon angle is getting larger – just like the moon's phase.
The Full Moon:
When the moon reaches its 6 o'clock position, the phase is full. The side of the moon that faces Earth is fully illuminated – that large circle of light a certain two-year-old child (my son) called the moon ball. On the clock, the sun, Earth, and moon form a straight line. From Earth, the sun and moon appear to be at opposite ends of the sky. So as the sun sets, the moon rises. The full moon is now visible all night.
The Full Moon is best used for banishing unwanted influences in your life. Think of it as 'shining a light' on issues or challenges. It can also be a good time for creating protection magic and performing divination. You can use this time for releasing old patterns or issues, and open the door for healing by giving energy to positive patterns you'll put in place. Full Moon magic can be conjured during the 3 days prior to the rise of the Full Moon, the night of the Full Moon and during the 3 days after.
Once it is past full, the moon moves from 6 o'clock to 3 o'clock and the sun-Earth-moon angle begins to shrink. The moon's phase is also getting smaller. It's moving from waning gibbous to its third- or last-quarter phase.
The Last Quarter Moon:
This third-quarter moon sits at 3 o'clock on the phase dial, where the sun-Earth-moon angle is once again 90°, but this time it's on the right side of the clock. From Earth, we see half of the moon's disk illuminated – the side opposite as the one illuminated at first quarter. A third-quarter moon rises about six hours after the sun sets, reaches its highest point in the southern sky at dawn, and sets at about noon.
The Waning moon is used for banishing and rejecting those things that influence us in a negative way. Negative emotions, diseases, ailments, and bad habits can all be let go and special spells for clearing negative energies from the self, home, ritual circle, tools and so on can be performed at this time. Simply remember that when you remove an energy, you want to fill the void with a more positive energy. So this is also a good time to consecrate the future with what you want it to be as you move forward.
As the moon orbits Earth (the inner circle) its position relative to the sun and Earth changes. This causes the lunar phases we see in our sky (the outer circle). In the week after the third quarter, the moon moves through its waning crescent phase to it's dark phase.
The Dark Moon:
About 3 to 5 days before the eventual return to the new moon phase, where the cycle begins again, the moon enters a dark phase. The moon sits at about 2:30 on the dial. Here the moon is neither illuminated by the sun (in a crescent phase), nor is it able to reflect the light of the sun providing an outline of it's surface (as in the new moon phase). It is truly dark and seemingly has disappeared from the sky.
Typically no magic is performed during this time. This is the time to give yourself a break, to turn to self and pamper or replenish your own energies. Vision quests and deep meditations are called for at this time to focus on personal matters, questions and answers. The Void of Course moon is not recognized through astronomical means, it's purely a nature based observance or astrological phase.
A Lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes into the Earth's shadow. This type of eclipse does not occur every year. But when it does, it's a wonderful and magical night. It lasts for only a few hours, so you need to plan your rituals well in advance. A lunar eclipse on a full moon is perfect for all purposes. Simply plan your spells to coordinate with the passing shadow. When the moon is in full eclipse, treat those few moments as if the moon were in its Dark phase. Some practitioners forgo magic work all together and use this time to honor lunar deities in a special ritual.
The Penumbral moon occurs when the moon passes into the outer shadow of the earth. This type of eclipse is hard to spot unless the moon is 70% into that shadow. These type of eclipses are more common and generally occur at least once a year. When you can see it, the lower part of the moon becomes distorted. During a waning phase for instance, the lower half of the moon will look blurred or smudged. Once again it's a special night. This is the perfect night to honor the magic of the lunar deities. No work or casting, just thankfulness and gratitude.
Moons of the Months, from Thomas's Old Farmers Almanac- circa 1792
January ~ Hunger moon: During this month the wolves once roamed the countryside, thus suggesting the name wolf moon. In cold and temperate climates of the Northern Hemisphere, it was difficult to find food during January, thus the name hunger moon. This is a good time for planning your year from a spiritual perspective. What do you want to accomplish this year. What do you "hunger" for? Set some goals and plan how to achieve them.
February ~ Snow moon: In certain parts of the world, snow is usually the deepest in this month, thus the name snow moon. This is a good time to focus your magik on home, hearth and family.
March ~ Sap or worm moon: Because sap rises in March, this full moon is called the sap moon. The ground softens during this month, and worms begin to burrow out of the ground, thus the name worm moon. This is a good time for healing magic. Think of the sap as the blood running through your veins carrying health and healing.
April ~ Pink moon: Many flowers turn pink and bloom in April, thus the name pink moon. This is a good time for working on potential relationships, or heading off problems in an existing one.
May ~ Flower moon: Because many flowers bloom in May, after the April downpours, May's moon is called the flower moon. This is a good time for working on commitments, both in spirit and love.
June ~ Rose moon: Because strawberries bloom in June, this month's moon is the strawberry moon. Also, the French call this moon la lune rose, which translates into English as "the rose moon." This is a good time for taking stock of the year. It's the mid-way point, so review what you've accomplished and what's left to do. Hopefully you'll find reasons for a celebration and put those strawberries and roses to good use.
July ~ Buck moon: Bucks (moose & deer) grow their first antlers during this month, thus the name buck moon. This is a very masculine moon, so it's a good time to work on the physical things in your life. Either physical in body, or things that some physical attention, like fixing the loose handle on the kitchen drawer.
August ~ Sturgeon moon: Because it is sturgeon season in certain parts of the world in August, its moon is called the sturgeon moon. This is the month to give thanks. Not only to the Great Spirit, but to yourself too. So set this moon aside for pampering yourself and your family. Your magikal night can begin with a relaxing meditation and a personal reading for yourself.
September ~ Corn moon: Native Americans began to harvest their crops during this month every year (this full moon occurs late in August and is called the harvest moon). If the full moon occurs earlier in September, it is called the corn moon because the corn crop is ready for picking at that time. A good time clean and clear up the issues of life. A ritual for healing old wounds, emotional and physical, forgiving transgressors and yourself. A "letting go" time. Your harvesting the abundance of your soul and your growth, so get rid of that old stuff and make room for the new enlightened you!
October ~ Hunter's moon: The hunting season begins in October, thus the name hunter's moon. This is a good time to align yourself with nature and conducting magikal rituals concerning animal issues, such as finding your personal animal guide, totem or relating to your birth totem.
November ~ Beaver moon: Beaver traps were once set in this month to catch enough beaver to make warm clothing for the upcoming winter. A wonderful time for setting protection and protecting yourself from those 'cold' winds that try to interfere with your personal spiritual evolution.
December ~ Cold moon: The approach of cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere gives this month's full moon its name. Once again a wonderful moon for turning your attention to home, especially ritual space.
Moons in the Zodiac
The zodiac sign that the moon is in has a great deal to do with the type of work that you can do when focusing with lunar energies. A brief overview of these is listed below.
· Moon in Aries: Spells involving authority, willpower and rebirth.
· Moon in Taurus: Spells involving love, real estate, and money.
· Moon in Gemini: Spells involving communication, public relations and travel.
· Moon in Cancer: Spells involving domestic life and honoring lunar deities.
· Moon in Leo: Spells involving power over others, courage, child birth.
· Moon in Virgo: Spells involving employment matters, health and intellectual matters.
· Moon in Libra: Spells involving court cases, partnerships and artistic matters.
· Moon in Scorpio: Spells involving secrets, power and psychic growth.
· Moon in Sagittarius: Spells involving publications, sports and the truth.
· Moon in Capricorn: Spells involving career, political matters and ambition.
· Moon in Aquarius: Spells involving science, freedom, personal expression, problem solving, friendship.
· Moon in Pisces: Spells involving music, telepathy and clairvoyance.
When The Moon Rises
Moon rises occur about 50 minutes later each day than the day before. Moon rises can occur at night as well as during the day. But the best way to put it into memory is a good ole time folk tale:
The new Moon always rises at sunrise
And the first quarter at noon.
The full Moon always rises at sunset
And the last quarter at midnight.