How to Live by the Moon’s Phases

As an astrologer, people are often asking me how they can incorporate astrology into their daily life. My answer is always to start paying attention to the moon! The benefits of syncing your life to the moon’s cycle is something that’s been talked about more recently due to the rising popularity of astrology and holistic wellness. But this isn’t anything new. People have been setting spiritual ceremonies, planning agricultural seasons and even figuring out the best time to get a haircut based on the moon’s phases for as long as there’s been human civilization. So much of what we now consider “woo-woo” was a given in times when we lived more in tune with the earth.

The moon has an undeniable pull on our mental and physical energies throughout its cycle. Even if you don’t “believe” in the moon’s effect, why not experiment with setting your life to the moon’s rhythm?

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So What Are The Phases Of The Moon?

The moon takes approximately 28.5 days to orbit Earth. Throughout that 28.5 day cycle, the moon appears to wax and wane based on its proximity to the sun. Every lunar cycle begins with a new moon, which is when the sun and moon are on the same side of the Earth, and peaks at the full moon when the two luminaries are on opposite sides of the Earth.

These are eight distinct phases of the moon:

  • New
  • Crescent
  • First Quarter
  • Waxing Gibbous
  • Full
  • Waning Gibbous (or Disseminating)
  • Last Quarter
  • Waning Crescent (or Balsamic)

How do I get started living my life by the moon’s phases?

Though it might seem overwhelming to incorporate eight lunar phases into your life, like anything cyclical, these build upon each other. It’s not random, but a natural energetic rise and fall. As you build your practice, you might want to begin with acknowledging just the new and full moon. Slowly, you can start working in the other phases.

To keep track of the moon’s cycle, I highly recommend downloading this simple app which gives you a visual of the moon’s illumination along with its phase each day. I also recommend keeping a journal (in a notebook or Notes App) to track how your body, mind and emotions change from day to day, or phase to phase.

The optimal time to start this practice is at the new moon. As the moon gains light, you might notice that you’re also gaining energy, and that more social invitations come in around the full moon. You might also notice that things slow down and your energy lulls as the moon wanes.

What are the best things to do during each phase of the moon?

how to live by the phases of the moon new moon
Sofia Kraushaar

1. New: The Beginning Of The Cycle

Best for: Waiting, journaling, meditating, reading, listening

A new moon is when the sun and moon are on the same side of the Earth, astrologically occupying the same sign of the zodiac. The moon is completely dark during this phase. Though the popular advice is to “set intentions!” or “manifest!” with a new moon, it’s actually best to wait until the moon is showing some light to move forward with anything. Using the metaphor of the life of a plant, this phase is the seed of pure potential that hasn’t yet broken ground. The new moon is a great time to journal, meditate and wait to see what comes to you. Once you spot a crescent moon in the sky around sunset (usually 2-3 days after the new moon), you can declare your intentions, whether that’s through writing them down, telling a friend or performing a small new moon ritual.

how to live by the phases of the moon crescent
Sofia Kraushaar

2. Crescent: 3 To 4 Days After The New Moon

Best for: Setting intentions, reaching out, taking risks, experimenting with activities or style

Continuing with the metaphor of the life of a plant, the crescent moon is when the seedling first breaks ground and is exposed to the elements. This is an exciting but also a tender and vulnerable time. Action picks up but nothing is certain yet. Crescent moon days are great for initiating conversations, setting up appointments and experimenting with your style. You won’t know how things are going to turn out unless you try.

how to live by the phases of the moon first quarter
Sofia Kraushaar

3. First Quarter: 7 To 8 Days After The New Moon

Best for: Making decisions, organizing, finalizing a team or to-do list

The first quarter moon brings the first challenge in the lunar cycle. There’s no turning back at this point: The light is here to stay, and the plant is setting down roots. This is when you may face some resistance to your plans as everyone around you is gaining their own energy and confidence. This is why it’s so important to make decisions, devise action plans and clarify goals at this time. The clearer your vision, the more likely you’ll make it happen.

how to live by the phases of the moon waxing gibbous
Sofia Kraushaar

4. Waxing Gibbous: 11 To 12 Days After The New Moon

Best for: Working out (high impact), editing, preparing party snacks, refining a pitch

It’s almost showtime when we hit the waxing gibbous phase. I often liken this phase to “tech rehearsals” (for the theater nerds out there) or “finals week” (for the regular nerds out there). During this phase, you’ve made your choices and are now tasked with putting the finishing touches on the project: editing, refining and making sure every little thing is in its right place. Energy builds rapidly at this time, and you start to receive invitations as things come together, just don’t let others distract you from the work you need to do on your own projects at this time! Social time is coming soon!

how to live by the phases of the moon full
Sofia Kraushaar

5. Full: 14 Days After The New Moon

Best for: Presenting, partying, impressing a date, showing off

It’s the day of the show! The full moon is when all the energy we’ve put into our intentions over the previous two weeks reaches a climax. This is when the plant reaches its full bloom and begins to bear fruit. If possible, plan parties or celebrations for full moons as most people are high energy and hungry to connect. Just be mindful that this time can also bring out high emotion and sensitivity, especially if whatever was initiated at the new moon doesn’t go as planned.

how to live by the phases of the moon disseminating or waning gibbous
Sofia Kraushaar

6. Waning Gibbous: 3 To 4 Days After The Full Moon

Best for: Networking, socializing, collecting feedback

If the full moon is the show, then the disseminating moon is the after party, when we harvest the fruits of our labor. When the full moon show has gone well, this is a time for spreading joy, networking and making connections. When the show hasn’t gone well though, it’s necessary to collect feedback and course correct. This is the busiest and most socially engaged part of the cycle: a great time for sharing ideas, following up and seeking out inspiration.

how to live by the phases of the moon last quarter
Sofia Kraushaar

7. Last Quarter: 7 To 8 Days After The Full Moon

Best for: Pivoting, regrouping, reflective journaling

Like the first quarter moon that comes before it, the last quarter moon is another point of challenge. The adrenaline of the full moon has fully worn off at this point, and it’s time to regroup. Again, if things didn’t go well during the full moon phase, this period could be emotionally difficult. The cycle is coming to an end and the plant is beginning to wilt and die. If possible, keep social obligations light at this time so you can use the extra time to reflect on everything that’s happened over the last few weeks through reflective journaling and conversations with close friends.

how to live by the phases of the moon balsamic or waning crescent
Sofia Kraushaar

8. Waning Crescent: 11 To 12 Days After The Full Moon

Best for: Cleaning, resting, leaving, quitting

The Waning Crescent (aka the Balsamic) phase is the end of the cycle. At this point, the moon wanes to complete darkness, and we are left once again to sit in stillness. This is a great time to rest, clean and let go of regrets from the last 28 days. You might feel exhausted or depleted so plan for restorative activities and hearty meals. Try not to push when the energy just isn’t there. You may also want to plan to do some tarot pulls or other divination to confirm the lessons of the last few weeks. The more you can release at this time, the more clarity you’ll have about what you want to initiate at the upcoming new moon.

Upcoming New Moons in 2022:

  • June 28
  • July 28
  • August 27
  • September 25
  • October 25 (though this new moon is an eclipse, so I recommend not starting your tracking here as things might be irregular)
  • November 23
  • December 23



Jaime Wright is an astrologer and writer based in NYC. She has been writing PureWow’s weekly and monthly horoscope columns since 2019, and also authors the cult favorite...