A Guide to Tonight’s Moon’s Spiritual Meaning: How to Align With the Lunar Phases

Eva Hagan - Author

Jan. 15 2024, Published 10:57 a.m. ET

A photo of seven of the moon phases in front of a black sky.
Source: iStock

The moon changes shape every night, cycling through eight different phases, which are called the lunar phases. At any given time, the moon will either be increasing in brightness, on its way to a full moon, or decreasing in brightness, becoming a new moon.

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There is a scientific explanation for this, which is that as the Earth and moon spin, sunlight hits a different part of the moon depending on what part of the orbit. Aside from this, there are also spiritual meanings of the moon phases, which can allow you to tune in to Earth’s cycles in a different way, much like people did centuries ago.

Read on to learn a bit about the spiritual meaning of each of the eight lunar phases, so you can better understand tonight's moon.

A person stands on a rock facing the sky with a full moon.
Source: iStock

New Moon

A photo of a new moon, where the moon is not lit by the sun.
Source: iStock

During a new moon, the moon is invisible or entirely dark, because there is no sunlight hitting the surface, per NASA. According to Goop, the new moon represents a time of introspection and new beginnings and an opportunity to figure out what you really want in the month ahead. Fun fact: Counting between each new moon was how many Native Americans kept time, per Synonym's The Classroom.

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Waxing Crescent

A close up photo of a waxing crescent moon.
Source: iStock

During a waxing crescent, a small sliver of the moon is illuminated by the Sun. According to Slow North, a waxing crescent moon is when you want to put the goals you set during the new moon in action. This is a time to work on affirming yourself and prioritize growth through new habits.

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First Quarter

A photo of a first quarter moon, where the moon is halfway lit up.

In the time of a first quarter moon, half of the moon's face is lit up as it grows in size towards a full moon. This period is still a time of growth, like the waxing crescent phase, but is also a time to refer back to any intentions you made and make any adjustments, per Slow North.

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Waxing Gibbous

A photo of a waxing gibbous moon.
Source: iStock

This is the last phase before a full moon, where a small sliver of the moon is all that is dark. It is a time to get motivated and refine any goals and actions you want to take leading up to the full moon, per Goop. According to Slow North, although this is a time of anticipation, it’s also a time to be patient and practice mindfulness.

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Full Moon

A close up photo of a bright full moon.
Source: iStock

The full moon is when the moon is fully illuminated and can have many different meanings. According to Rituals, the full moon is a time for energy release and a time to rid yourself of negativity. The full moon can also be seen as a time of celebration and harvest, possibly of any intentions you set during the new moon, per Goop.

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Waning Gibbous

A blue-tinted photo of a waning gibbous moon.

Now, the moon is gradually making its way back to a new moon. A waning gibbous is when the moon is still mostly illuminated, with just a crescent of darkness on the side. According to Well + Good, this is seen as a time to reflect and recharge.

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Third Quarter

A photo of a third quarter moon in front of a black background.
Source: iStock

The third quarter moon, also known as the last quarter moon, is when the moon's face is half-lit. According to Slow North, this can be seen as a time of forgiveness and letting go before setting new intentions during the new moon.

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Waning Crescent

A photo of a waning crescent moon.
Source: iStock

The waning crescent is the last phase before the new moon, where most of the moon is dark except for a small crescent. According to Spirituality + Health, this phase can be a time of gratitude, to sit with all the thoughts and feelings from the whole moon cycle.

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