As we know, the moon causes the ebbs and flows of huge oceans (high tide/low tide) and maybe you’ve felt its effects on your body— which is comprised of 80% water. Did you know the growth of new cells and the death of old ones are also in its power? There are a bunch of reasons to take the moon phases seriously, including that human cultures from our oldest records have used the moon phases to record time and observe the moon phases to understand its influence on their lives.
In honor of the annual delivery of Paris Miller’s Circle & Crescent Moon Calendar, we share some reasons, and ways, to utilize it’s wisdom.
A Brief History
The Gregorian Calendar is the most commonly used around the world. It’s a solar calendar that was adapted from an earlier Lunisolar version by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. He designed it to fix the problems in the Julian Calendar. (In its time of use, the Julian Calendar was found to drift considerably from the solar years. 1 day every 128 years.)
The Egyptians appear to have been the first to develop a solar calendar, using as a fixed point the annual sunrise reappearance of the Dog Star— Sirius, or Sothis— in the eastern sky, which coincided with the annual flooding of the Nile River. They constructed a calendar of 365 days, consisting of 12 months of 30 days each, with 5 days added at the year’s end. The Egyptians’ failure to account for the extra fraction of a day, however, caused their calendar to drift gradually into error [source]
The Gregorian Calendar introduced leap years to make the average year 365.2425 days long. The spacing is made to prevent the drift from the seasons. It counts days chronologically, with the day, month, and the years counted from the birth of Christ.
Today our months don’t sync with the moon’s orbit.
Humans didn’t always live out of harmony with the moon. Evidence of the Lunar Calendar is found all over the world. Some are still in use today. The Jewish and Islamic calendars are purely based on the moon cycle. The Chinese calendar is a Lunisolar calendar, which tracks both the sun and moon.
Some consider the Lunar Calendar may even be more accurate than the purely solar calendar that we use. There may be an argument to change the system we use.
At 1/6 the size of earth, the moon’s gravity is a powerful influence on the planet. As we mentioned, it causes the rise and fall in sea levels known as tides. Tides even occur in lakes, the atmosphere, and within Earth’s crust. High tides are when water bulges upward, and low tides are when water drops down.
The eight moon phases are defined by sunlight in relation to the earth and the moon:
- New Moon The moon starts as it sits between the sun and earth. Its sunlit surface faces directly away from our view. The surface of the moon we view from earth is in full darkness. In this phase, the moon and sun, rise and set at about the same time.
- Waxing Crescent Moon As the moon orbits the sun begins to light the surface facing earth. It is called the waxing moon phase. It starts with a sliver of light in view shaped like a crescent. During the waxing period, the crescent gradually grows.
- First Quarter Moon One week after the new moon, the Moon has completed a quarter of its orbit around the Earth. At this stage, we can view half of the surface lit by sunlight. Its shape is a perfect half circle, called the first quarter moon phase.
- Waxing Gibbous Moon Over the next week, the sunlit surface of the Moon grows. The period after the first quarter moon is called waxing gibbous. Gibbous means “humped”.
- Full Moon Two weeks after the new moon, the moon reaches halfway of its orbit. The half that is facing the earth is now fully lit by the sun’s light. From earth, it appears as a round disk or full moon. Like the new moon phase, it rises at the time the sun sets. The full moon also sets when the sun rises.
- Waning Gibbous Moon In the waning moon periods, the sunlit moon surface we can see decreases. The first week after the full moon, it is called waning gibbous.
- Last Quarter Moon Three weeks after the new moon, half of the illuminated part of the moon can be seen. This is usually called last quarter moon or third quarter moon.
- Waning Crescent Moon By the fourth week of the cycle, the Moon is reduced to a thin sliver. It’s sometimes called the waning crescent moon
After the waning crescent phase finishes the new moon begins again.
How to use a Moon Calendar
Each lunar phase offers a different energy or opportunity. For example: the new moon gives a push toward goals and the full moon, two weeks later, is a time for rest and release. Essentially, each of the eight major phases are their own opportunities.
- New Moon This lunar phase marks the beginning of the lunar cycle. It’s a time for setting intentions or goals that. Each new moon is a reminder that you have an opportunity to start over— and it’s never too late to begin.
- Waxing Crescent Moon Now that we know what we are yearning to bring to life, we can start planning out how to move towards our visions. However you like to map your ideas and intentions, this lunar phase in an occasion to become comfortable with voicing what you want.
- First Quarter Moon This lunar phase is when action towards your goals are supported. Activate the decisive attitude needed to move forward. The momentum is also there to make tweaks, decisions, or anything else that’s needed.
- Waxing Gibbous Moon If a project started under the new moon is going well, then this lunar phase is a boost. And, if there are problems, this lunar phase supports your working it out. Taking a step back, reassess, meditate, or reach out for assistance.
- Full Moon This lunar phase is a time of truth. When fully lit up, symbolically, the moon reveals things that we were blind to before. It’s a time for gaining a clearer understanding, allowing us to make decisions based on our intuition, feelings, and what we are seeing IRL. Being that this is the culmination of everything that we’ve started since the new moon, it’s advisable to take the day to rest. Take a relaxing bath, surrender to the wild (howl at the moon?), and/or connect with your people.
- Waning Gibbous Moon The moon is dimmer, but our hearts are still in it. This lunar phase is a time to take note of changes that have been made since the new moon. Literally write it down! This will guide you towards (re)acknowledging your efforts. Voicing progress allows gives us a dose of pride— plus, seeing progress helps us keep going.
- Last Quarter Moon This lunar phase marks a time in which the vision has been created, and we can get a glimpse at what is coming next. It’s also an opportunity to disconnect from any bad habits (or people) through energetic cord cutting and move forward with your life. Everything is coming full circle now and making sense— our bodies, minds, and spirits are evolving and transforming while releasing the past.
- Waning Crescent Moon This is the culmination of events from the past month and end of the lunar cycle, this lunar phase is a time of reflection and introspection. What have we learned, gained, and seen since the new moon? How can we use these insights and perspectives to make our lives better? This may be the end of the current journey— but another one is coming soon under the upcoming new moon which will spark different visions and dreams.
Common sense caveat: The above is not based in science. These posts are not intended to act as a prescription to well-being or living well. It's a tool to use, and that has been used for millennia.