Shifting Shapes + Changing Phases
While the Moon changes shape every night, there are eight distinct phases of the Moon:
- New Moon :The Sun and Moon are conjunct. It is 0 - 15% waxing and 0 - 4 days from the New Moon.
- Crescent Moon : The Moon is 45 degrees ahead of the Sun. It is 15 - 50% waxing and 4 - 7 days from the New Moon.
- Waxing (or First) Quarter Moon : The Moon is 90 degrees from the Sun or square the Sun. It is 50 - 85% waxing and 7 - 11 days from the New Moon.
- Gibbous Moon : The Moon is 135 degrees from the Sun or a waxing sesqui-square. It is 85% - 100% waxing and 11 - 15 days from the New Moon.
- Full Moon : The Moon is 180 degrees from the Sun or opposite the Sun. It is 85% - 100% waning and 15 - 19 days from the New Moon.
- Disseminating Moon : The Moon is 135 degrees from the Sun or a waning sesqui-square. 50 - 85% waning and 19 - 21 days from the New Moon.
- Waning (or Third) Quarter Moon : The Moon is 90 degrees from the Sun or square the Sun. 50 - 15% waning and 21 - 26 days from the New Moon.
- Dark (or Balsamic) Moon : The Moon is forty-five degrees behind the Sun or semi-square with the Sun. It is 0 - 15% waning and 26 - 29 days from the New Moon.
Most folks work with two phases: the Full Moon and the New Moon. I work predominantly with five phases of the Moon (the Full Moon, the Waning Quarter Moon, the Dark Moon, the New Moon, and the Waxing Quarter Moon), but do work with all eight distinct phases at one point or another throughout the solar year. Each phase of the Moon carries it’s own unique energetic signature and it is worth going out each night during these phases for a complete cycle of the Moon to appreciate the different feel each phase gives off. When I am making remedies, I work with the phases of the Moon to enhance their healing qualities. I might make a remedy that is about pulling toxicity from the body and thinning out build-up of waste during the Waning Quarter Moon. Or an energizing blend for enhancing psychic ability at the Full Moon. I rarely make remedies at the Dark of the Moon, a period of rest for me, but on occasion there is a charm that requires the depth that only the darkest of nights can provide.
The following is a short list of correspondences for each phase, including references for when to make remedies to strengthen or diffuse the energies of the six tissue states of Traditional Western Herbalism.
New Moon + Crescent Moon : Excellent for most any remedy-making endeavor as the power of the brew will grow with the Moon’s waxing. Stimulating brews, warming bitters, energizing nervines, restoratives, alteratives, remedies for new beginnings, for children, and to jumpstart vitality. Traditionally, a time of hot and moist herbs. Strengthens the Hot/Excitation and Damp/Relaxation tissue states. Alleviates the Cold/Depression and Dry/Atrophy tissue states. Read the full Herbs of the New Moon post.
Waxing (or First) Quarter Moon + Gibbous Moon : A good time for brewing daily tonics that are building and nutritive in nature. Traditionally, a time of hot and dry herbs. Strengthens the Hot / Excitation and Dry/Atrophy tissue states. Alleviates the Cold/Depression and Damp/Stagnation tissue states.
Full Moon : The Full Moon is an excellent time all-around for making any kind of remedy. The Moon is at the peak of its maturation and power, offering a well-rounded (ha!) energy for your remedy. Traditionally, herbs are cold and dry. Strengthens the Cold/Depression, Dry/Atrophy, and Tense/Constriction tissue states. Alleviates the Hot/Excitation and Damp/Relaxation tissue states.
Disseminating + Waning (or Third) Quarter Moon : Grounding and relaxing remedies do well when made during the Disseminating + Waning Quarter Moon. Relaxing nervines, sleep aides, cooling bitters, mucilaginous brews, and remedies that disperse excess energy. Traditionally, a time of cold and moist herbs. Strengthens the Cold/Depression and Damp/Stagnation tissue states. Alleviates the Dry/Atrophy tissue state.
Dark Moon : The time for shadow work and going to the depths. As I already mentioned, I rarely make remedies during the dark of the Moon because it is a time of deep rest for me. On rare occasion I make remedies for calling the soul back home to the body when there has been profound loss. The Dark of the Moon embodies herbs of all temperaments: the cold of the grave, the heat of a compost heap, the dryness of old bones, and the moistness of the deepest depths of earth.