Moon Magic: A Guide To Living In Alignment With The Moon's Phases

The moon has long been a source of fascination and inspiration for humans. I mean, a big, shiny rock dutifully following us across the night sky? What’s not to love?

Traditionally, the moon represents feminine energy and the cyclical nature of life. People across continents have charted its phases for centuries, finding ways to sync their own lifestyles and cultures with the waxing and waning of the moon. The lunar new year, for example, is a joyous, weeks-long celebration to welcome a new lunar cycle and the hope of new beginnings that it represents. (Learn more about moon phase length and the moon cycle calendar of 2023 here.)

woman holds her hands out at dusk with the moon in the sky behind herPhoto by Javier Allegue Barros

But you don’t have to be a part of a certain culture to live by the phases of the moon; individuals can develop deep, personal relationships with the moon, too. Just as it influences the push and pull of the tides, the moon can impact our own energies and emotions. Following the moon's cycles can help us feel like we’re in better alignment with the natural world as well as with our own intuition and inner tides.

That’s why we’ve put together this beginner's guide for how to live in alignment with the phases of the moon: which crystals to use, which phase is best for what activities, and how to make the most of each cycle.

The Phases Of The Moon

Before we dive into our rituals, let’s talk about the different moon phase names. I’m sure you’re familiar with some of the shapes — half moon, full moon, and so on — but there’s more to moon phases that meet the eye (quite literally!)

the moon in different phases across the night sky

The phases of the moon are defined as the different appearances of the illuminated portion of the moon as seen from Earth. There are eight main phases of the moon:

New Moon: The moon is not visible from Earth.

Waxing Crescent: A small sliver of the moon is visible and is increasing in size.

First Quarter: Half of the moon is illuminated, and appears as its familiar half moon shape.

Waxing Gibbous: More than half of the moon is illuminated, but less than a full moon.

Full Moon: The entire illuminated side of the moon is visible from Earth.

Waning Gibbous: More than half of the moon is illuminated, but less than a full moon, and is decreasing in size.

Third Quarter: Half of the moon is illuminated, and appears as a half moon shape.

Waning Crescent: A small sliver of the moon is visible and is decreasing in size.

It takes about 29.5 days to complete an entire moon cycle, which is known as a lunar month.

How To Live By The Moon’s Phases

In this guide, we’ll outline some of the phases of the moon and how you can channel their energy to build rituals for your own spiritual practice.

New Moon

The new moon symbolizes new beginnings and pure potential. This is a great time to look within and clarify your intentions for the upcoming lunar cycle. To set the scene, try a cozy blanket, your favorite PJs, a cleansing incense wafting through the air and a quiet night in journaling about your goals and intentions.

new moon ritual: palo santo incense and a candle burning

Best for: Resetting and internal reflection

How to practice self care: Journaling, listening to yourself and others

Crystal: Labradorite, which will help you regain energy, as well as heal physically and spiritually

Ritual: Pull a tarot or oracle card for your upcoming cycle to help you clarify your intentions – or, try building a vision board for your specific intentions and manifestations this cycle

Waxing Crescent

The waxing crescent encourages you to invite small actions into your life. This is a time to start making some moves, like signing up for that pottery/acro yoga/climbing class you’ve always dreamt of, taking fashion risks, reaching out to friends, and refining your plans. Clarify your intentions and manifestations as you start laying out the foundations for them.

two women meditation on the beach

Best for: Experimenting, nurturing creativity, self-discovery

How to practice self care: Wearing a new style or color, reaching out to people who care about you, writing down manifestations, HIIT workouts

Crystal: Rose quartz is the gem of love, and that includes self love – keep this positive gem nearby during the waxing crescent

Ritual: Pull 2 tarot cards – the first will help you clarify the intention you set during the new moon, and the second will identify which actions are needed to nurture this intention

Full Moon

Throughout the full moon, your plans are coming to fruition. It's time to bask in the glory of it all. Your manifestations are coming into play exactly how you envisioned them... or it's all going haywire. Either way, everything is in motion, and you’re along for the ride!

women dancing under the full moon

Best for: Manifesting your wildest dreams

How to practice self care: Making big moves, engaging in positive risk-taking, and just having fun

Crystal: Moonstone, which will balance out the wildness of the full moon

Rituals: Charge up your crystals by putting them out in the moonlight and letting them soak in the gorgeous energy of the full moon for up to 72 hours

Waning Gibbous

As the moon wanes once again, it invites us to focus on decluttering our lives. Clean out your home or office, remove all negative energy from the past cycle, reflect on how your intentions manifested and what adjustments may need to be made for next time. This also gives us plenty of time to reflect as we slip back into the cozy cocoon of a new moon.

candles around a tub with a shelf, tea, and an open book

Best for: Making connections, removing stale or negative energy, cleaning

How to practice self care: Detoxing, drinking lots of water, decluttering, lighting candles

Crystal: Clear quartz, which is a master healer and aids in clear thinking

Rituals: Take a soothing bath and let your mind unwind to enter the new moon cycle with a clear head

Cecilia Seiter
Cecilia is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She writes largely about sustainability, especially as it applies to beauty, wellness, and the future of technology. She is a graduate of the journalism department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is based in Oakland , CA.