The term "lunar phase" or "phase of the moon" refers to the illuminated portion of the moon as viewed from Earth.

The illumination of the moon is determined by the angle at which the sun hits its surface and reflects off. As the moon travels through its orbit around the Earth, this angle changes cyclically with the illuminated portion of the moon increasing as the motion of the moon puts the Earth between the moon and the sun and decreasing as the orbit of the moon puts the moon between the Sun and the Earth.

The New Moon and the Dark Moon

The phase of the moon with the least illumination renders the moon virtually invisible to the naked eye is referred to as the new moon in modern calendars but many Pagan traditions reference the new moon as the waxing crescent moon that first becomes visible after the period of invisibility. These folks generally refer to the dark period as the dark moon rather than the new moon.

The moon goes dark during this phase because the Sun is behind the moon and does not illuminate the side of the moon that faces the Earth, though the moon may still be faintly visible due to Earthshine. About twice a year, this period of conjunction is close enough that the moon blocks all or a portion of the sun, resulting in a solar eclipse. In the Western Hemisphere, the waxing crescent appears on the right side of the moon with the horns pointing to the left (from the point of view of the viewer). In the Southern Hemisphere, this is reversed. The moon is visible during the day during the waxing crescent period and sets shortly after dusk.

Magick During the New Moon and the Dark Moon

This period is generally considered to be the best time to work drawing magick or magick intended to encourage increase. Some traditions suggest that the time of the dark moon is suitable only for harmful magick and encourage magic-users to wait for the first sliver of the waning crescent to appear for all other magick. Some reserve the dark moon phase for worship of the Gods, especially chthonic Gods, and/or ancestors and some use this time for introspection, meditation, dream work and cleansing or the home, altars and the self via fasting, ritual baths and other methods.

Generally, the period from the new moon to the first quarter is considered a good time to start new things and work for growth in all areas. Many spells that are worked over several days begin during this period to take advantage of the perceived increase of energy that takes place as the illumination of the moon increases.

The First Quarter Moon and Waxing Gibbous

The first quarter moon is marked on modern calendars at the halfway point between no illumination and full illumination of the moon. The waxing gibbous moon refers to the period when the majority of the moon is illuminated, but it is not quite full yet. During the waxing period, the right side of the moon is illuminated in the Northern Hemisphere, in the Southern Hemisphere, the illuminated portion is on the left.

Magick during the First Quarter Moon and Waxing Gibbous

Many people use this time for spells for increase and those multi-day spells meant to peak at the full moon.

The Full Moon

The full moon phase refers to the period of greatest illumination of the moon and occurs when the moon's orbit has positioned the Earth between the moon and the sun. About twice a year, the position of the Earth, Moon and Sun is such that a portion or all of the moon is obscured by the shadow of the Earth in a lunar eclipse.

The Full Moon phase occurs about two weeks after the start of the New Moon phase/ the Dark Moon.

Magick During the Full Moon

The full moon period is considered the phase of greatest lunar energy and this phase is the most important moon phase for some magickal traditions. Many use this period for worship of their Gods and some believe this is the only really appropriate time for magick, and some reserve this time for their most important magical work.

Some magick done during this time involves channeling the energy of the moon or invoking a God/dess associated with it (See lunar deities) to be utilized for spiritual work. The full moon is also used to charge items, especially moon water and crystals, with magical energy.

There is some variation among traditions as to what "counts" as the Full Moon. Some strictly observe the moment of the full moon while others consider the full moon period to include the three three day period when the moon appears to be full to the naked eye, encompassing the official peak of fullness, the day before and the day after. Others consider the three days before and after the full moon just as effective, expanding the full moon period to a full week.

The Waning Gibbous

The waning gibbous phase refers to the time between the full moon and the last quarter, when the majority of the moon is illuminated, but not all of it. The left side of the disk is illuminated during this period in the Western Hemisphere.

Magick During the Waning Gibbous

This period is generally used for spells aimed at decrease.

The Last Quarter Moon

On modern calendars, the last quarter phase of the moon marks the halfway point between the point of least illumination (dark moon) and the point of the greatest illumination (full moon). Following this period the moon wanes to a crescent on the left side of the disk with the horns pointing to the right in the Western Hemisphere (this is reversed in the Southern Hemisphere).

Magick During the Last Quarter of the Moon

This period is generally advised for magical operations related to banishing and binding and any sort of decrease.

See Also

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