Moon Phases
as Defined by We'moon

(from We'moon '96: Earth Matters)

graphic of moon phases

The Eight Lunar Phases

As above, so below. Look into the sky and observe which phase the moon is in. Then you will know where you are in the growth cycle of each lunar month.

  1. The new moon is like a SEED planted in the earth. We cannot see her but she is ready to grow, full of potential and energy for her new journey.
  2. The crescent moon is the SPROUT. The seed has broken through the earth and reaches upward as she ventures from the dark, moist earth she has known.
  3. The first quarter moon (waxing half moon) is the GROWTH phase. Roots go deeper, the stem shoots up, and leaves form as she creates a new strong body.
  4. The gibbous moon is the BUD of the plant, the pulse of life tightly wrapped, wanting to expand.
  5. She opens and blossoms during the full moon into the FLOWER, with the desire to share her beauty with others.
  6. As we go into the darkening phase of the disseminating moon, we get FRUIT of the plant's life cycle, the fruits of wisdom and experience.
  7. The last quarter moon (waning half moon) is the HARVEST phase, when the plant gives her life so that others may continue theirs.
  8. The balsamic moon is the COMPOST phase, when the nutrients remain in the soil, providing nourishment for the next new seed. (pp. 25-26)

Where's that Moon?

Why is the moon sometimes visible during the day? And why does the moon sometimes rise very late at night? The answers lie in what phase the moon is in, which reflects the angle between the sun and moon as seen from earth. For each of the eight moon phases, the angle between the sun and moon progresses in 45 degree increments. Each phase lasts approximately 3-4 days of the moon's entire 29 1/2 day cycle.

The new moon (or dark moon) rises at sunrise and sets at sunset. Astrologically, the sun and the moon are in conjunction. Because the sun's light overpowers the nearby moon in the day, and the moon is on the other side of the earth with the sun at night, she is not visible in the sky at all.

The crescent moon (or waxing crescent moon) rises midmorning and sets after sunset. She is the first visible sliver of moon, seen in the western sky in the late afternoon and early evening.

The first quarter moon (or waxing half moon) rises around noon and sets around midnight. Astrologically, the moon is square to the sun. She is visible from afternoon, when she is high in the eastern sky, until she sets in the west.

The gibbous moon rises midafternoon and sets before dawn. She is the bulging moon getting ready to be full, visible soon after she rises until she sets.

The full moon rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. Astrologically, the sun and moon are in opposition (i.e., opposite each other in the sky and in opposite signs of the zodiac). She is visible all night long, from moonrise to moonset.

The disseminating moon is the waning full moon getting visibly smaller. She rises midevening and sets midmorning. She is visible from the time she rises almost until she sets.

The last quarter moon or waning half moon) rises around midnight and sets around noon. Astrologically, the moon is square to the sun. She is visible from the time she rises until midmorning, when she is high in the western sky.

The balsamic moon (or waning crescent moon) rises before dawn and sets midafternoon. She is the last sliver of moon, seen in the eastern sky in the very early morning and late dawn.(p. 27)


We'moon '96: Earth Matters (Estacada, OR: Mother Tongue Ink, 1995) [material quoted credited to Susan Levitt, Musawa, and Beth Freewoman].

For more about We'moon and its publications, visit the We'moon Web.

See also The Wheel of the Year: Holy Days.


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Last modified on April 13, 2005 by Kay Keys (kay@kaykeys.net)