Introduction to Lunar Phases
– Written by Philip Graves – 19 Jan 2004
– Reformatted for WordPress, June 8th, 2016
The cycle of the aspects formed by the Moon to the Sun from a geocentric perspective is known as the lunation cycle. It lasts on average 29 days, 12 hours, 44½ minutes, a unit of time called the synodic month or lunar month, which because the Sun is also moving in direct motion through the tropical zodiac takes over two days longer than the sidereal month, which is the measure of the time the Moon takes to orbit the earth.
The lunation cycle is divided into eight units called ‘phases’, each covering 45º of the geocentrically viewed cycle of the Moon’s application to and separation from the Sun. Astrologers have studied the effects of the natal and progressed lunar phases. In the natal figure, for every Sun sign there are three possible Moon signs for each lunar phase.
The lessons of each phase and the soli-lunar aspects within apply equally to natal phases and to those of the progressed Moon to radical Sun, and radical Moon to progressed Sun.
The New Moon phase lasts from the Moon’s exact conjunction with the Sun until its separation by 45º from the Sun, forming a separating semisquare. It emphasises instinct and oblivion of the past.
Individuals born under the New Moon phase are impulsive, instinctive, and inclined to self-dramatise and self-project, rendering them very noticeable to others. They are more inclined to follow their instincts than analyse their behaviour or apply forethought; and have a strong inclination to impose their personal vision on the world.
Under the progressed New Moon, individuals reorientate themselves inwardly and experience a major change in life that may be more apparent with hindisght but that is typified by a free, open response to a new guiding power.
In this phase, a conjunction of Sun and Moon is characterised by intensity, concord between the emotions and ego needs, and a highly subjective outlook, with little awareness of the results of their actions. A semisextile can indicate a latent, raw talent that is frustratingly imperfect, leaving the personal ego dissatisfied, but with potential through persistent endeavour to render the talent effective. A semisquare brings slight difficulties and mental irritations that frustratingly restrict the individual from full self-projection.
The Crescent phase lasts from 45º until the separating square at 90º from the Sun. It is characterised by exertion and breaking away.
Those born under the Crescent phase are likely to be closely emotionally connected to their families, but inwardly moved to break with their family values or tradition, both materially and philosophically, struggling to establish their own values and criteria and means for self-worth, and to self-assertively challenge the established order and influence the collective direction. The focal point of their restlessness or avenue for expression of this drive will be shown by the placement of the Moon and by the house on whose cusp Cancer is found in the nativity.
Under the progressed Crescent Moon, the new direction adopted subjectively under the New Moon is at first exposed to resistance by the external world, followed later by opportunities to develop it in more substantial form.
In this phase, a semisquare causes irritation and discomfort, often relating to personal communication or educational objectives, motivating the individual to seek to self-develop to a more contented, tranquil condition. A sextile brings opportunities for advancement from restrictive situations into more productive ones, through their own choices taken. A quintile shows a perfected talent whose activation transforms the individual’s situation, as though helped by a higher force. A square shows an energetic struggle to take action to achieve a step forward toward some goal.
The First Quarter phase lasts from 90º to the separating sesquisquare at 135º separation. It is characterised by energy and forward motion with courage and action.
Those born under the First Quarter phase are good at learning to relate to others objectively, responding to crises and concretising new ideas that represent their own beliefs. They have a a pressing will to act; eagerness to experience life; executive and organisational abilities; and an attraction to liberating change. They are inclined to enlarge and expand their scope in the world and philosophy of life.
Under the progressed First Quarter, the capacity for the establishment of the new life direction in reality and renouncement of the past becomes the driving force over which the individual must take control, especially after the turning point of the square, committing courageously and confidently to the challenges of integrating the new life direction.
In this phase, a square between Sun and Moon produces an energetic urge to take action that will lead to the manifestation of their beliefs in the outside world, but a risk of conflict with others arising from insufficient objectivity, and sometimes a requirement for higher education. A trine motivates to growth through education, philosophy or religion, and brings expansion in these areas relatively easily at the possible expense of it being far-reaching, while showing easily outwardly expressed earned talent, which may require disciplined application to overcome its inherent laziness. A sesquisquare shows well-developed self-awareness that is difficult to express outwardly, leading to feelings of solitude in belief, but bringing identification with those of similar beliefs, and aptitude for teaching objective awareness of higher truths.
The Gibbous phase lasts from 135º separation to the opposition at 180º. It is characterised by discrimination, and learning to perceive and contribute to value.
Those born under the Gibbous phase are accepting duty and responsibility; seeking areas of value in the outside world in which to involve themselves; rendering their behaviour answerable to a specific purpose or reason; and eliminating from their lives whatever does nothing to support this system of values. The placement of Saturn and the house on whose cusp Capricorn falls will indicate the focus of their value and sense of responsibility. They are relatively introspective and questioning, and concerned with expressing their intellectual talents
Under the progressed Gibbous Moon, productivity is great, and the individual struggles to persevere commitedly to the commitments established in the previous phase, while retaining flexibility in the face of everyday realities.
In this phase, a sesquisquare shows lonely self-awareness and earned power requiring disciplined application if it is to be harnessed constructively as opposed to destructively. A biquintile indicates a unique talent requiring self-discipline to be expressed productively, rather than simply being held within introvertedly, leading to disillusion. A quincunx shows the need to take an important decision, make adjustments, and dedicate oneself to the realisation of a seemingly karmic personal or social goal which otherwise tends to seem always to be elusive. An opposition indicates the attainment of success through acting responsibly (in an area of life indicated by the house placement of Saturn) on awareness of others (the nature of the work for whom will be shown by the house on whose cusp Capricorn is found); but with the requirement for dedication and compromise in order to resolve opposing influences and attain fulfilment as opposed to separation.
The Full Moon phase lasts from the opposition to the applying sesquisquare at 225º. It is characterised by fulfilment and the perception of opposite poles.
Those born under the Full Moon phase have open, clear minds, seeking personal fulfilment mediated by inner illumination, and demanding of themselves thought and understanding prior to action. They are considerate of others and learning self-expression to a partner or to a greater cause than themselves, seeking the perfection of an ideal relationship and an existence integrated with the colllective and defined through what lies outside themselves.
Under the progressed Full Moon, the efforts made to establish the new direction begun at the progressed New Moon are reflected in a clear light, which may manifest as deep fulfilment or disturbance and defeat, depending on the success or failure of meeting the challenges along the way; and objective consciousness of the progress of the cycle so far should be cultivated in order to prepare the way for the ensuing search for meaning.
In this phase, an opposition between Sun and Moon brings a requirement for applied awareness of the needs of whoever or whatever is being related to, in order to reconcile opposing views, using the mind to consider all options before acting and to communicate. A quincunx requires mental adjustment to a spiritual attitude in order to attain fulfilment or concord that appears otherwise to be karmically elusive. A biquintile brings creative potential whose expression is impeded by its obsessive or potentially hallucinatory quality. A sesquisquare brings a talent or mental awareness that is difficult to communicate, requiring effort to be presented into a form readily understood by others on a verbal and emotional level.
The Disseminating phase lasts from 225º to the applying square at 270º. It is characterised by love, and giving something of value.
Those born under the Disseminating phase have a need to share and an aptitude for the dissemination of a cause or the distribution of information, whether through writing, broadcasting, or any other means. These people assimilate and evaluate their ideas, perceptions and insights then promote the conclusions to others. The placement of the Moon will indicate what has to be disseminated; and the houses on whose cusps Taurus and Libra are found will hold clues to the outcome.
Under the progressed Disseminating phase, there is a need to connect with others and demonstrate one’s recently developed capabilities and awarenesses to wider society, which may include reforming drives, and the development of a practicable life philosophy and ideology in the light of understandings integrated from what has been observed previously within the cycle.
In this phase, a sesquisquare between Sun and Moon brings mental awareness that is strongly and deeply felt, as though its origins lie in an unearthly source or past time, yet whose ease of verbal expression is relatively limited until the individual is motivated by the love of an activity pursued to develop that awareness further. A trine brings easy, seemingly perfected talent for the expression of a duty, love or value, something learned as though from a past incarnation. A square shows the expenditure of great effort in a particular direction to attain success that requires the surmounting of obstacles.
The Last Quarter phase proceeds from 270º to the applying semisquare at 315º. It is characterised by rebellion, and breaking free from external expectations into individuality.
Those born under the Last Quarter phase experience a crisis characterised by mental awareness of their due destiny of difference, in their desire to forge a socially unusual individuality and liberate themselves from the expectations of others. They are motivated by integrity and commitment to a progressive ideal they feel responsible for embodying and demonstrating publicly.
Under the progressed Last Quarter, meaning is gathered from the consciousness developed over the cycle; and the individual is inclined to dispose of obsolete areas of life and thinking that do not harmonise with this awareness.
In this phase, a square between Sun and Moon brings conflicts requiring a new kind of action in response; as though in a newly enlightened state the individual, dissatisfied with bygone ways, suddenly and unexpectedly seems finally to initiate new paths that respond to the stored up internal need for changes and depart completely with the modes of the past. A quintile brings a special new talent that requires to be combined with the roots of the old, and may manifest in artistic areas and in the handling of people and society, the attracting of their assistance, and their awakening to new modes of thought. A sextile shows a relatively easy opportunity for change and reorientation of the ways of old, often mediated by other individuals encountered. A semisquare brings slight, irritating problems in everyday affairs, requiring control guided by the individual’s awareness of them, since the smooth functioning of such matters is needed for the achievement of longer-term and more far-reaching goals.
The Balsamic phase completes the cycle, from 315º back to the conjunction at 360º. It is characterised by commitment and the development of a new level of consciousness.
Those born under the Balsamic phase are complex, pioneering in their involvements, and poorly integrated into mainstream reality, needing to make a major adjustment to their lives, and perceiving a different meaning of life from that perceived by most people. They experience deep, intense relationships, but are inclined to forget whatever lies in the past once it is over, training their eyes on the future, into which they have the capacity for exceptional insight, if they are open to channeling intuitions from higher sources. They bring to the world something that lives beyond their death, and feel compulsively drawn to social action and the communication of visions.
Under the progressed Balsamic phase, individuals are inclined to withdraw into relative introspection and separate from their followers, tuning into new needs arising from the summation of the consciousness brought by the outgoing cycle, needs whose fulfilment will be sought in the cycle to follow.
In this phase, a semisquare between Sun and Moon brings minor frustrations and irritations, often projected onto others but arising from within, that build up, stifle the individual, and block major achievement until they are wilfully forced aside or employed constructively. A semisextile brings co-operation between ego and emotions that can give rise to a latent workable talent, often exposed only after a process of internal transformation, and requiring channeling in a productive direction, which may depend on more energising aspects or transits being tied into the configuration. A conjunction brings complete concord between the ego and emotions, with a unified direction to efforts that favours the attainment of prominence in fields indicated by the sign placement.
References: Bernice Grebner, Leyla Rael Rudhyar, Haydn Paul.