Truly understanding the full moon and other moon phases can seem a bit complex, especially if you’re newly seeking to invoke moon magic. It is important to first comprehend the astronomy and movement behind these celestial bodies before you can truly grasp their mystical significance. A base knowledge will make your next full moon ritual feel much more complete and meaningful.
Once you’ve read this article, you can learn how to set up your own full moon ritual.
The moon phases involve three astral masses in our solar system: planet Earth, the sun, and the moon.
Let’s begin with us, here on Earth. While we spin on our axis, making a complete 360-degree rotation every 24 hours (thus distinguishing night and day), we also orbit the sun in a yearly transit. Next, there’s the moon. The moon orbits Earth on its own path, making a full cycle every 29.5 days (as seen from Earth). And of course, the sun is the stationary center of our solar system, emitting its golden energy 24/7. The radiant fire of this massive star is what gives us daylight and moonlight.
The above diagram may look confusing at first glance. The waxing crescent, first quarter, and waxing gibbous display a shadow facing the sunlight. Logically, that doesn’t make sense, right? To interpret this diagram, you have to turn yourself around as if you are on planet Earth, viewing each moon phase from that vantage point. Of course, the moon is always half illuminated on the side that faces the sun, but if you imagine looking at the first quarter moon from Earth, you will realize that the moon phases pictured above are what we would see when gazing up at the night sky. The right half of the first quarter moon is what we see illuminated.
And, in case you didn’t know, each of these phases resonates with specific energy and metaphysical intention. So you can practice moon magic at every phase.
The full moon always occurs when on the far side of the Earth, and the new moon always occurs when closest to the sun. How does the Earth not block the sun’s light on a full moon? And how does the moon not block the sun’s light on a new moon? It’s because (and the above diagram does not show this) these three astral bodies do not perfectly align. They are generally “off” by about a 5% margin. When the Earth, sun, and moon do precisely line up, this alignment is responsible for the phenomena known as solar and lunar eclipses.
This is why a solar eclipse can only happen during a new moon, and a lunar eclipse can only occur at a full moon! Which further explains why solar and lunar eclipses carry that specific moon magic, amplified.
We generally think of astrology in terms of the sun. There are 12 houses of the zodiac, and your dominant house, or “sign,” is determined by your sun sign at birth. But every full moon you see in the heavens is also transiting through one of these 12 constellations. In the year 2016, we had our January full moon in Leo, February’s was in Virgo, March’s in Libra, and so forth. Mystic Mama has an excellent portion of its site dedicated to moon magic and the zodiac, if you want to learn more.
Full moon energy is all about the cycle of setting intentions and bringing them to realization. While metaphysical practitioners use new moon energy to draw down the power of fresh beginnings and the world of possibility at their fingertips, the full moon is a time for completing what intentions you set forth at the start of the moon cycle. Although the moon is precisely full for about one minute only, you have 24 hours before and after this moment to harness the energy of that fullness. This gives you a 48 hour window for full moon magic and ritual.
Working with your metaphysical tools, aligning the chakras, and expressing gratitude for the fulfillment of what has come to fruition are all a part of the process. You want to make sure the tools you incorporate (whether they’re gems, perfumes, candles, incense, or otherwise) all possess a vibrational correspondence to this fullest phase of the moon. Learn more about how to work with full moon energy here.
Now that you have a basic knowledge of the full moon and other moon phases, feel free to explore what magic awaits!