Date: June 7, 2019
My first awakening to natal Moon phases was in a conversation with a fellow astrologer. I found her to be a ray of sunshine (generally speaking). She was easy to laugh, open and lovely to be around. Her overall positivity was contagious. When I discovered that she had the same Sun and Moon as a close friend who had a very similar chart, I was surprised. The friend leaned more towards dour than sunshiny, took very little risk, preferred her own company – in general didn’t really like other people much- they were so different from each other. The biggest astrological difference was in their Moon phases. The ray of sunshine was born during a New Moon phase, while the friend was born during the balsamic or waning crescent phase.
Shortly after meeting my new astrologer buddy I was out for a meal with friends of my husbands, none of whom know me very well. Our relationships involve a bi-annual outing involving consumption of some sort. We catch up on the basics of the goings on in our lives and eventually get to politics and social issues. These are intellectual relationships, there’s no talk of real feelings or confiding in one another- it’s all light and comfortable. So when asked what was new with me, I launched in to the changes I’d made in my career and that these changes were made to challenge myself and my comfort levels, explaining that I’d felt the pull to really put myself out there and take on new challenges. When the friend who asked responded with “well that’s how you’ve always been right? You never let yourself get too comfortable and you always seem to take on the challenge by saying yes. I was shocked. I had never noticed this about myself at all, but he was right. And trust me- it ain’t my little Virgo Sun driving that boat down the river of life choices.
Two days later I opened up The Book of the Moon by Steven Forrest. Of course I flip right to Full Moon, which I am, (because who starts an astrology book at the beginning?) and I’m shocked by his opening thoughts. But, it’s when I get to this line I stop dead- “There is nothing that gets us into more trouble in this world then that fatal single word “yes”. And you said it. You agreed. And here you are. What can you do? You jump. Yes.” It echoed so clearly what my friend had said about me. I couldn’t deny the timing either. I had had all these signs pointing me towards looking deeper into natal Moon phases to enhance my consultations with clients and just general understanding of what overriding energy is guiding the chart.
I will lay my biases on the table at this point. I feel strongly that the Moon is as important in the chart as the Sun, if not more important- especially when addressing issues of well-being and general emotional and mental health. But, I was born during a full Moon with the Moon in the first house in Placidus house system. I don’t think the Moon is less important for someone with a less prominent Moon, I just think some people are less conscious of their Moons and may diminish its priority.
My sense of lunar phases is like a light cast on the entire chart affecting the overall mood, or vibe. Working to really understand the differences in a bright Moon versus a dark Moon, a waxing Moon versus a waning Moon can markedly shift how you perceive a general personality and nature of a Sun/Moon combination and the chart as a whole.
A waxing Moon phase is when the Moon is moving away from the Sun and increasing in light while a waning Moon is when the Moon is decreasing in light and moving back towards the Sun. The farther away from the Sun the Moon is, the brighter it is: the closer it is to the sun the dimmer it is. A phase does not start until the exact degree of the aspect affiliated with it. The New Moon starts at zero degrees of conjunction while the full Moon starts at 180 degrees of opposition. So, if you have a Sun in at 22’55 of Gemini and a Moon at 21’12 of Sagittarius this is considered a Gibbous Moon- the full Moon does not start until the Moon hits 22’55 of Sagittarius. The best way I can illustrate how/why is to compare the Moon phases to a deep, full breath.
When enacting a full intake of breath there is an exact point at the top of the breath where we stop inhaling and begin exhaling. The same can be said at the bottom of the breath; there is an exact point when we stop exhaling and begin to inhale again. These two points do not overlap. The top of the breath- the transition between inhaling to exhaling illustrates the Gibbous to Full shift in Moon phases, and the shift from exhaling to inhaling illustrates the transition from the balsamic (waning crescent) phase and the new Moon phase. There is no overlap- when one ends the other begins. This is to say I do not use orbs when distinguishing the Sun/Moon phase
There are other similarities to be drawn between breath and the phases of the Moon. Inhaling or waxing breath holds all of the anticipation, forward looking, positivity, and faith in our self and the future. When you’re on the inhale you’re thinking of where you’re going and what it will take to get there. When you exhale, or are in the waning breath phase, there’s a sense of relief, of looking back, release, and slowing down- even our heart rate increases and decreases with our breath, indicative of the excitement of a waxing Moon versus a more subdued energy of a waning Moon. You can overlay these impressions on the Moon phases to feel them and what they may be like to live with. Just like breathing, the lunar phase operates just as unconsciously.
We can do the same with the light versus dark Moon phases. At the brightest points – the Gibbous to Full phases- at the top of our breath -we can see clearly where we’ve come from and where we’re going and make adjustments. If we’re consciously breathing we can adjust posture and position to better breathe (live) and there’s clarity to our abilities and short comings. When I am in a position of being seen, for example before I begin to speak publicly- I have to consciously exhale. My instinct when I’m very visible is to hold my breath in that place of conspicuousness and brightness.
In the dark phases or in the bottom of the breath there’s a need for faith- at its most morose there’s the question of “will I take another breath”, so we have to trust the next step. There’s a sense of relief here too, but it’s a relief based on thankfulness that you were given the opportunity to breathe again, whereas the relief of the exhale during the brightest phase of the Moon is based on yourself and your own accomplishments. While in the bright phases we can see where we’re going, in the dark phases there’s a need for strong instinct and intuition. We can experience the differences between the light and dark phases simply by the physicality of a breath in that inhaling brings our body up and exhaling releases our bodies and sets them down.
Astrologically the bright phases want attention and get attention in some way and on some level, but the energy is quite different. The waxing bright phase- the Gibbous phase- is more provocative about it and may even get their attention through controversy. Their tendency is to keep trucking through it, always moving forward. Whereas the full Moon native will be more inclined to look back and learn from the past or their past to move forward, hoping that the best is yet to come, where the Gibbous Moon phase will assume the best is yet to come. When we look at the person with the Sun in Gemini and Moon in Sagittarius opposition I mentioned earlier, (which belongs to the current American President) we get a strong sense of the absence of looking back or reflecting on any past or history at all. I try not to make this statement with judgement – he places no importance on history. When I looked for a contrast to him in an opposition that had past the perfection, I was struck by how many of the very visible celebrities were born in a gibbous phase rather than the full Moon phase. Someone who grabbed my attention in contrast to the President is rock star Lenny Kravitz. He’s born with the same Sun and Moon signs as D.T., but during the waning phase-the full Moon. What struck me right away was that not only does Kravitz look back, his whole image is retro. From his style of clothing, hair and music- it’s all paying homage to days gone by.
By contrast, the Dark phases are more subdued. There’s a mystery to them which can be alluring and/or repelling. Dark phases need to go inward, before putting themselves out for others to see and interact with. The dark phases need to learn trust because they can’t see- the waxing phases learn trust by trying and doing and the waning dark phases learn trust by looking to the past. Where you usually find optimism in the new Moon phase there’s usually a touch of sadness in the balsamic phase. When speaking about Balsamic Moon types I like to say they have a touch of Eeyore (the beloved character from the Winnie the Pooh stories) in them. Everything ends in a slight yet audible sigh. I was describing this to a client once who was born in this Moon phase and as I likened the phase to Eeyore, I panicked slightly that she may get offended, but after I said it, she burst out laughing and said loudly “I collect Eeyore’s”.
I realize that Moon phase does not give us the whole story of a person. There are so many other factors at play in a chart, and we must factor in life choices, up-bringing, culture and so on. But ignoring the Moon phase in a natal chart is leaving out a very important piece of how a person operates. The beautiful thing about approaching lunar phases by the use of conscious breath is it bridges gender, socio-economics, and culture. It’s a universal idea we can all work with. It’s an idea that can be explained to students and clients that is visceral and opens us up to approaching astrology from a more empathic perspective.
To learn more about Moon phases I recommend Steven Forrest’s Book of the Moon, The Cycle by Dane Rudyar, and to breathe.