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  • Writer's pictureLori Barnes

The 8 Lunar Phase Types

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

The Lunar Phase Cycle

When talking about astrology we usually start with saying what our sun sign is. But there is so much more to Astrology than your Sun Sign. Our Moon is also expressing through a sign, as are all the other Planets and important Points, like your ascendant (rising sign). They each occupy a sign of the Zodiac, and therefore express their energy through that sign.

There are other personality signatures in the chart that reflect personality and character traits, like the Lunar Phase you were born under. Your Moon or Lunar Phase is an important personality signature from your chart. The Lunar Phase you were born under vibrates through you, it colors your personality, you resonate with it over the flow of your life.

We see the Moon traveling through all eight of these Lunar Phases every month in the night sky. The Moon waxes by gaining light as she grows through her active phases. She wanes as she is losing light returning to darkness in her releasing phases. This visible increasing and decreasing of light is the basis for the descriptive symbolism of each of the eight phases that make up a monthly Lunar Cycle. You were born under one of these phases of the monthly Lunar Cycle.

The New Moon Phase is considered the first of eight phases of the Lunar Cycle. But saying that there is a beginning is misleading. The Lunar Cycles flow from one to the next. There is not a stop and start. It’s not a circle either. It’s more of a spiral, think of a spiral staircase and you get the idea. Each cycle builds on the previous one in a continuous flow. We have broken this flow into phases to help teach and understand the symbolism.

The Lunar Phases as a Timing Technique

Your birth chart is a snapshot of the sky at the moment of your birth, it captures the exact location by sign and degree of the planets and points. The Lunar Cycle, or the Sun and Moon that forms the different phases, keeps moving, just like the Planets do.

It’s like when you take a picture, the people and things don’t remain frozen like the picture. When Astrologers look at timing or prediction in an astrology reading, they are looking at how Planets and Points continue to move over time and make changing relationships to your birth chart.

Astrologers have a toolbox of techniques they can use to discuss the timing and quality of life. These techniques can look backwards, at the current period of time, and into the future.

The Lunar Phases are one of these techniques and tools. It is a great tool to use when looking at a lifetime, to look at the flow of life, and to better understand the quality of the current time in relationship to the long term. While most astrologers won’t say they can predict exact events or details in a persons life, we can describe the quality and characteristics of those energies at play.

The technical name for this technique is the Secondary Lunar Progression, which tracks the phases in your chart at a different speed than the monthly Moon phases. It takes almost 30 years for a full Secondary Lunar Progression Cycle to complete. One full cycle contains all eight phases as Sun and Moon to transition from one New Moon to the Next New Moon.

The one you were born under will vibrate most closely with you. All the phases represent important growth stages in life. The Lunar Phases paint a backdrop of the flow of life. You will progress through each of the 8 Lunar Phases as your life unfolds in increments of around 2 and 1/2 years for each phase.

By learning the Lunar Phase you were born under, you can peel back a layer of self-understanding for your approach to life. By finding the current Lunar Phase you are transiting through, you will get a better understanding of where you are in terms of a cycle that has a beginning, middle and end.

The cycle you were born under will help you in your quest for self-understanding. The cycle you are currently under will help you understand this current period in time. The last New Moon Cycle you experienced in your life will help you understand the meaning of the entire 30 year cycle you are in.

You can look at the Lunar Phase Cycles for 100 years to get a sense of how the cycles evolve and spiral through your lifetime.

The 8 Phases of the Lunar Cycle

8 Lunar Phase Types

You are probably familiar with the Full and New Moons we have monthly. You may also be familiar with the 1st and last quarter Moon. Yep those are the phases we are talking about here. If we divide up the monthly Moon phase by eight, we get the eight Lunar Phases. You were born under one of them, and the description for each phase is below.

The Lunar Phase, or Moon Phase, is determined by the relationship between the Moon and the Sun. The amount of light the Moon is reflecting to us on earth is coming from the Sun.

When we have a Full Moon, the Moon is receiving the full amount of light she can receive. We can only see one side of the Moon from earth. That’s why it’s a quarter moon not a half moon, even though it looks like half a circle. We are seeing half of the visible side of the Moon, or a quarter of the Moon.

Read on to discover the meaning of each phase. If you don’t know the Lunar/Moon Phase you were born under, you can get it using this free online calculator.

New Moon

New Moon

The astrology aspect between the Sun and Moon during a New Moon phase is a conjunction. This means they are in the same sign and degree of the zodiac. The illuminated side of the Moon is facing the Sun while the dark side is facing Earth. It represents the start of the active waxing half of the cycle.

The New Moon phase is symbolically the beginning of the phase because it represents the spark of something new. It may even be unconscious. Like a feeling of excitement that something new is developing, coming into being. A little voice of an idea coming through where you are inspired by a feeling or intuition that something new and exciting is on the horizon. You can sense it.

This energy is like a planted seed in the ground that has not yet pushed through the dirt to grow in the light of the sun. It is growing though, and it is active. All waxing cycles are actively working toward culmination. This is the tiny seed that starts the action.

New Moon babies have that youthful essence of excitement, innocence, naivety, and enthusiasm. New Moon types are attracted to beginning new things. They get excited and can try to start too many things resulting in not following through on projects. They love adventure, and spontaneity, and are focused on the present more than the past and future.

They carry this youthful innocence throughout life and can be surprised when their idealistic vision hits the reality of the material world. This phase is waxing, meaning active, but they are still in darkness, like in the womb, or planted in the ground like a seed. They rely on their intuition and instincts and can be somewhat self-involved. They can linger in the safety of home while they develop their confidence in approaching the outer world.

New Moon Waning to Waxing

Like the Full Moon, the New Moon is at the point which represents the change between waning and waxing. Or when the dark is the darkest (New Moon) and the light is the brightest (Full Moon). Keep in mind that waxing is a gradual moving flow of increasing light and waning is a gradual moving flow of decreasing light.

It is not an on/off switch type of transition. You know this because it is what you see every month with the New and Full Moon. Every month you see the Moon growing towards Full, or fading into the New Moon. You know when it’s a Full Moon, because you can see it. You know it is a New Moon because you can’t see it.

What isn’t clear to our eyes is that exact moment it becomes as dark as it can, it has lost all of the light, and then it starts increasing again. The moment it starts increasing, you still can’t see any light. It’s like the seed in the ground. It’s there, but not yet visible. While we can’t easily see this in the sky, we can easily determine when waxing moves to waning, or waning moves to waxing by using the astronomical location of the Sun and Moon by degree.

It is important for rituals or symbolic New Moon beginnings to time it when the Moon really is new. If not, you may inadvertently start something under the Balsamic Moon, the last phase of the cycle representing endings. If you are unsure, you can do an online search and easily find the time of a New or Fulll Moon phase in your time zone.

Though it might seem like the New Moon contains both waning and waxing energy, it doesn’t. Waxing energy begins when the New Moon phase starts, the symbolic beginning.

Think about how different that invisible waxing energy of the New Moon phase is compared to the last waxing phase when it looks Full even though it is still increasing in light. It’s quite different. That’s why it’s important to understand the Waxing and Waning cycles in addition to the 8 Lunar Phases of the Lunar Cycle.

Waxing Crescent

Waxing Crescent Moon

The astrological aspect between the Sun and Moon is a Semisquare. The Moon moves ahead of the Sun 45 – 90 degrees. The sliver of the waxing crescent becomes visible in the sky.

The idea has sprouted, like a seed. There is excitement, a youthful curiosity, and energy to grow this new idea. It is full of hope for the new cycle that was started in the previous New Moon phase.

During this phase, the seed that was in the ground pushes its way through the soil. This is part of the active waxing cycle that is about growth. If you were born under this phase, you are ready to step out into the world. But maybe not too far from home.

This phase is still young and youth-like, but with the growing light, there is growing awareness of what is ‘out there.’ There is a curiosity that is a bit more mature than the spontaneity of the former phase. There is a sense of building and knowing that this adventure of life is growing.

During this phase directed energy is required to actively build or wax ideas to fruition. Focus is needed. Information is gathered. Research is conducted. The end results may not be entirely clear, as during this stage things are still developing, but you are starting to get more clear.

There is some imbalance during this phase as manifestation requires focused energy. Those born under this phase have drive and the burning desire for success.

First Quarter Moon

First Quarter Moon

The astrological aspect between the Sun and Moon in the 1st Quarter phase is a waxing Square. This phase is halfway through the waxing half of the cycle, or a quarter of the way through an entire Lunar Cycle. The Moon is ahead of the Sun 90 – 135 degrees during this phase.

This is a highly active period, a time of movement and action. Those born under this phase find themselves doing busy work, growing ideas, defining them, and taking action needed to manifest goals. In this phase, the growing seed has not only burst through the ground but is now living and growing out there in the material world.

Those born under this phase often have to make compromises with others in order to move the idea in the world. They are maturing into understanding that there are opposing viewpoints in the world and they are learning how to navigate through these experiences.

First Quarter phase people take on the qualities of leadership, determination, and ambition. These qualities are needed when working with teams and multiple viewpoints. Being one of the most active of the eight phases, and still of a building and youthful quality, this group of people must learn how to deal with their own stuff through teamwork.

This phase is about experience building, self-motivating action, and determination.

Waxing Gibbous Moon

Waxing Gibbous Moon

The astrological aspect between the Sun and Moon in a Waxing Gibbous phase is the sesquisquare or sesquiquadrate. The Moon moves ahead of the Sun 135 – 180 degrees. This is the last of the growing or waxing phases moving toward culmination.

Those born under this phase of the Moon resonate with maturing the development and growth process. This is the active and final stage of the growth process. This group of people is active, organized, and engaging in self-development and improvement.

The metaphor we have been using describes a seed growing, pushing through the ground, developing, and organizing through trial and teamwork. In this phase the idea is almost formed, things are perfected and finalized. This group is about making edits, tweaks, and adding final touches.

Waxing Gibbous folks can be analytical and need to understand the why behind how something works. By understanding the why, it is much easier to implement the how.

Full Moon

Full Moon

The astrological aspect between the Sun and Moon during a Full Moon is the Opposition. The Moon has moved ahead of the sun 180 – 225 degrees. She has taken as much light as she can. She cannot grow any fuller. The Full Moon signifies the end of the growth cycle and the beginning of the releasing cycle.

The exact moment of the Full Moon is the end of the waxing cycle and the beginning of the waning cycle. The exact moment of the opposition is when the Sun and Moon are in opposite signs and to the same degree, minute, and second.

It is symbolically like when a flower has fully bloomed and the fruit has fully ripened. There is no more growth potential. The energy has burst outwards into life. The idea has been manifested. The seed has reached maturity.

Those born under the Full Moon seek completeness and are often attracted to seeking a fulfilling relationship. These Lunar folks are full of light and in direct opposition to the Moon, the other. Relationships are so important because you see yourself in others, your reflection, and/or your projection.

Though this is the first part of the Waning half of the cycle, these folks are still full of energy and light. The growth cycle is over, but in the Full Moon cycle, you can bask in your light.

With this awareness comes realization and experience which needs to be shared with others.

You may have manifested goals and brought things to completion, but there is still work to do. There can be a need to bring together opposing ideas.

Full Moon Waning to Waxing

Like the New Moon, the Full Moon contains the midpoint which represents the change between waxing and waning. Keep in mind that waxing is a gradual moving flow of increasing light. It is not an on/off switch type of transition. You know this because it is what you see every month with the New and Full Moon.

Every month you see the Moon growing. You know when it’s a Full Moon because you can see it. What isn’t so clear is that exact moment it becomes as full of light as it can, and it starts decreasing.

The Full Moon may seem like it contains both waxing and waning energy, but it doesn’t. The waning energy begins after the Full Moon opposition is exact, but it is still full of light and energy. Call it maturity, experience, or fulfillment.

Think about how different that waning energy of the Full Moon phase is compared to the last waning phase just before the New Moon when there is just a liver of light fading into darkness. It’s quite different energy. That’s why it’s important to understand the Waxing and Waning cycles in addition to the eight Lunar Phases of the Lunar Cycle.

Waning Gibbous | Disseminating Moon

Waning Gibbous | Disseminating Moon

The astrological aspect between the Sun and Moon in the Waning Gibbous phase is the Sesquisquare. The Moon has traveled 225 – 270 degrees ahead of the Sun. The light is decreasing, but there is still more light than dark reflected by the Moon.

The Waning Gibbous cycle continues to decrease in light, releasing its wisdom and experience. This phase is also called the Disseminating Phase. I like to think of the Rose releasing her beautiful fragrance after her full bloom.

The matured idea must be shared. The ripe garden is ready to be harvested. The fruits are falling off the trees. There is a sense of achievement.

People born under this phase disseminate information. They make great teachers, mentors, gurus, and shamans. They are no longer in the active growth cycle but have matured into the knowing ones. Finding one’s own way can lead you to many experiences. Disseminating and releasing information in society is an overarching energy for this Moon Phase group.

Third Quarter | Last Quarter Moon

Third Quarter

The astrological aspect between the Sun and Moon during the Third Quarter phase in the Square. The Moon has traveled 270 – 315 degrees. The light has decreased halfway between the New and Full Moon. A square indicates a challenge, a catalyst for change. A time of movement and action to squeeze the last bits of life. A time of matured wisdom and knowledge.

If you were born under the Third Quarter, you may feel like you walk between the two worlds. The one full of experience and wisdom grounded in your community, and your internal spiritual world. You feel called to honor your core belief system.

In this phase, the light is decreasing and the focus starts turning to the spiritual side. The Third Quarter Moon folks may find their spirituality takes precedence in life, which can be confusing for others to understand.

This group is great at evaluating things in preparation for the upcoming ending of the cycle. The changes that are taking place during this waning and ending half of the cycle utilize the wisdom and experience gained in the first half of the cycle to make preparations. This group is skilled at wrapping up loose ends, reworking details, and integrating the remaining activities.

Waning Crescent | Balsamic Moon

Waning Crescent Balsamic Moon

The astrological aspect of the Sun and Moon during the Balsamic Phase is the Semisquare. The Moon has moved 315 – 360 degrees ahead of the Sun. The light of the Moon is decreasing and goes dark at the end of this phase.

A time of reflection and solitude. The ending and withering of the idea. A time of release and the focus turns inward. The releasing of this phase has a finality to it. The end of the idea, or a particular part of the idea, and full of wisdom.

This cycle takes you right up to the new cycle. So there is a clearing away of sorts. Making space for the new, while seated in the present processing through the immense cycle that is completing. There is an understanding of the cycle of life, the impermanency, and an internal focus.

Balsamic Phase people tend to be introverted. Of course, this will depend on the other planets in the chart. This phase ends the Lunar Cycle through the waning dark to the waxing dark at the New Moon. There is a sense of discarding what is no longer needed and focusing on the spiritual purpose of life.

With the darkening light of the Moon, the internal world calls more loudly than the external one of the past cycles. Those born under this cycle may require extra solitude in life and benefit from meditation and quiet time.

Find Your Moon Phase

The quickest way is to use this free online calculator.

If you have your chart and want to figure out your birth phase by hand, here are instructions. If you are an astrology student, you should do this as it’s important to understand how this relationship is determined and learn how to add and subtract in degrees.

Find your Sun and Moon in your chart and calculate the number of degrees the Moon is ahead of the Sun. The Moon can be catching up with the Sun from behind, so be sure you don’t accidentally count in the wrong direction. The Moon can be up to 359 degrees ahead.

Their orbit is circular, so the Moon passes the Sun, like as if you were running on a track and lapping someone.

The Moon will circle around and meet the Sun every month because she is faster. For example, if the Sun is in Virgo, and the Moon is in Aquarius, you count from the degree of the Sun in Virgo through Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn to the Moon’s degree in Aquarius. That is how far the Moon has traveled from the Sun.

Another example, if you are starting at Sun in Pisces counting to Moon in Leo, you count starting from the Pisces Sun degree through Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer up to the degree in Leo. Not Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and so on. If you are unsure of the direction of the signs, I listed them below.

If your degree is on a cusp, it’s best to have your Lunar Phases calculated by computer for accuracy. You can do this through the links provided on this page or with a professional astrologer, or astrology software.

Degrees the Moon is Ahead of the Sun

0 – 45 degree = New Moon 45 – 90 degree = Waxing Crescent 90 – 135 degree = 1st Quarter 135 – 180 = Waxing Gibbous 180 – 225 = Full Moon 225 – 270 = Waning Gibbous / Disseminating 270 – 315 = 3rd Quarter 315 – 359 = Waning Crescent / Balsamic

Zodiac Signs, Count in this Direction

Aries Taurus Gemini Cancer Leo Virgo Libra Scorpio Sagittarius Capricorn Aquarius Pisces Aries – starts over


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