~ INTRODUCTION ~
The Moon has as much sway over our Earth’s life as the Sun. If the Sun represents the center of consciousness, the Moon symbolizes the unconscious, what is instinctive, natural, organic in us. The Moon is considered in Astrology to be the giver of form, as the Sun is the giver of life. The Moon provides the form for the expression and embodiment of Spirit.
The Lunar Cycle: at the beginning of the lunation cycle the New Moon is transiting close to the Sun, from our viewpoint. She is there but all together invisible to us, rising and setting with the Sun. This ’dark’ phase of the Moon lasts about three days, one and half days before New Moon and one and half days after.
The New Moon has been considered from time immemorial a mysterious and magical time, dark but, like a womb, full of the promise of new life. The New Moon was equated to a marriage of Sun and Moon, Yang and Yin, Day and Night, a time when conscious (Sun) and unconscious (Moon) merge.
Then, slowly separating from the Sun, the young Moon begins to reflect its light back to us, at first just a slither of light (the Maiden Moon), until, at the Full Moon, she will reflect the Sun light completely, transforming the solar energy into creative energy. The Full Moon was often compared to a fully pregnant woman, ready to give birth, having reached the peak of her creative potential.
The Full Moon is considered in Astrology a time of fuller consciousness and realization, the culmination or peak experience of the whole cycle. The unconscious (Moon) is now fully illumined by the light of the conscious (Sun), so what was secret is revealed and what was not manifested becomes manifested. It is a time of fulfillment and fruition.
The fortnight from the New Moon to the Full Moon is known as the waxing period. The middle or critical point in this period is the First Quarter, occurring about a week into the cycle. At this time the Moon has traveled 90 degrees (or 3 zodiacal Signs) from her new Moon position. The First and last Quarters are the only times, during the whole cycle, in which the Moon appears divided evenly in two halves, a black and a light, with a straight line in the middle. This is considered a symbol of division and duality, so that the Quarters are said to be critical and sometimes difficult times, when we face outer and inner difficulties.
After the Full Moon the light reflected by the Moon slowly decreases, until she reaches the place of the Sun again at the next New Moon. The time from Full Moon to New Moon is known as the waning period. The middle or critical point in this period is the Last Quarter, occurring about a week after the Full Moon.
The waning period is, first of all, a fit time to harvest the fruit we have sown in the light fortnight, then also a time to share this harvest with others and so contribute to the life of our community.
Continuing the simile with woman, the waning Moon was seen traditionally as a wise old crone, what in some societies would be called Elder or Medicine Woman.
The most dynamic angles between Sun and Moon, throughout the cycle, occur at 45 degrees interval (approximately every three and half days). This gives raise to the Minor, not so well known Moon Phases: Crescent, Gibbous, Disseminating and Balsamic, occurring half way between the major phases.