Astrology: Moon Phases and Eclipses

Moon Phases diagram courtesy of University of Iowa

Working with the Moon puts us in harmony with our world, and awakens in us deep understanding of our innate connection with life.  The Moon governs our emotions, our need for nurturing and our capacity to nurture others, psychological habits, body consciousness and habits of personal care, psychic connectivity, dreams, the Unconscious, women in general and how we relate to them, food, anything to do with water from baths to the oceans, our idea of home and home life, our inherited habits and proclivities, menses, the public and how we relate to the public, our digestive and reproductive systems, one’s wife, tides, and how we protect what we care about. Important stuff that bears careful attention!

The Moon changes sign within 48 – 60 hours, making it the fastest moving factor in our charts. Watch as people’s moods fluctuate: a grumpy, touchy Moon in Scorpio on Monday gives way to gregarious and philosophical Moon in Sagittarius on Wednesday, and all is well again with the world. Working with the Moon can ease our passage as we learn to go with the flow, and give up futile attempts to push the river where it’s not going. Particularly keep an eye on the major phases detailed below to allow deep personal work and development to occur more effectively, bringing greater success, peace and satisfaction.


New Moon: The moon stands between the Sun and the Earth, and the face that we normally see is almost invisible while the dark side that faces away from us is fully illuminated, so we rightly call this the Dark Moon. The Sun and the Moon are conjoined and will appear at the same zodiacal degree, creating a powerful one-note vibe. Ego and Emotion are aligned as we experience the most subjective time of the month, and we feel a sense of invigoration and spontaneity, ready to go on any new adventure that arises. However, this time can also reflect the idea of something being too close to see – we cannot separate Ego from Emotion, and this can lead to believing that what we feel must be who we are. This is a time to consolidate our energy and focus on positive visions. Strive for objectivity if possible, and consider your habitual blind spots. Listen to what feels out of balance, for it is now that sticking points can arise. Set pure intentions as the combined force of Sun and Moon allows us to access personal power at this time, but understand that patience and deliberation are required before fruition occurs. What is planted in the dark will grow with the light of the waxing moon, so do be careful what you wish for. Don’t wallow in darkness, but rather protect what needs nurturing. Plant your seeds.

First Quarter: Also known as the Half Moon, as the Moon appears as a half-circle in the sky. (Sometimes also erroneously called the Second Quarter Moon). The Moon is waxing towards Full, and is 90º into its monthly cycle, placing it at a square aspect to the Sun. Ego and Emotion are at odds with each other. This is a time for action, as tension spurs us to change, but do not expect culmination now. A good time for hard work, motivated intentions, building up and adding substance to existing foundations, but beware workaholic or obsessive tendencies, as well as impetuosity or callousness in our striving. People get pushy, but don’t necessarily have details that back up their direction. Watch plans take nascent form and nurture their development.

Full Moon: The Moon is at its greatest visibility, and is directly opposed to the Sun at 180º, standing behind the Earth as we face the Sun together.  The Sun illuminates the entire visible hemisphere of the Moon amplifying light, shining a spotlight in normally dark, unconscious places. This phase allows us objectivity and insight into things which usually remain hidden, as the power of Ego reveals the recesses of the Heart, showing clearly what needs to be understood.  A time of fulfillment, we are empowered in our ability to see more details of our situation than usual, though the Full Moon can also bring disillusionment if we are not following our heart’s path.  Poorly executed motivations can be fully viewed now, and adjusted.  Anything which has been a source of distress can rear its ugly head, driving many to escapism as they seek to dive deeper into unconsciousness and avoidance to get away from things we may not wish to see (think lunacy).  A good time to harvest what is working well, or to cull what is unnecessary or unhealthy, allowing dissemination and release of the energy back to earth. Intentions blossom now, whether they were consciously seeded and beautiful, or unconsciously strewn and self-negating.

Last Quarter: Also variously called Third Quarter or Fourth Quarter Moon. The Moon is waning, and has moved 270º away from the Sun.  This is also a square aspect, full of dynamism.  We have the impetus to clear up what we haven’t dealt with and address things that tripped us up with the recent Full Moon.  The insights gained with the Full Moon’s brightness give us a checklist allowing further refinement of our goals. If we haven’t followed our best interests, high tension and compulsion to change can occur at this phase; beware anxiety and spinning out in high stress. This is a good time for working with details, and outlining what needs to be addressed at the next New Moon. As we define our situation, we find ourselves descending, drawing back into a state of concentration which can become tunnel vision if we don’t come up for air occasionally.  Release negativity and think ahead to the next Moon cycle, considering what worked and what did not with previous intentions.


Eclipses:  Eclipses occur in repetitive cycles, which take approximately 18 years (or 223 synodic months) to recur. Solar and Lunar Eclipses occur consecutively, with a Lunar Eclipse always occurring fourteen days before or after a Solar Eclipse, with the complete eclipse cycle taking approximately 37.5 days.   On June 10 2021, we saw the last of the eclipse of the Gemini/Sagittarius cycle, and on December 19, 2021 we saw the beginning of a Taurus/Scorpio cycle.  The Aries/Libra cycle will begin on April 20, 2023, which will coincide with the ingress of the Sun into Aries, quite a potent day for early Aries natives.  Eclipses can be either total, partial or annular.  Total solar eclipses in particular are quite rare as the window of opportunity for the Moon to obfuscate the Sun is very short; most eclipses that we experience are either partial or annular.  Total lunar eclipses can last up to 2 hours, whereas total solar eclipses are only last for about 2 minutes. The next total Solar Eclipse will be April 8, 2023 and the next total Lunar Eclipse will occur on May 15/16, 2022.

Solar Eclipse: Also known as a New Moon Eclipse. Solar eclipses are conjunction of the Sun and Moon which occur on the axis of the Lunar Nodes.  The Sun and Moon are in the same sign as the North Node (within 15-18º)   and in opposition to the South Lunar Node.  Indicates an alignment of the Earth, Sun and Moon, with the Moon blocking visibility of the Sun from our perspective here on Earth. Traditionally considered malefic, as the Sun, source of power and life, is obscured and eliminated, however briefly. Significant in that issues of Destiny, Ego and Emotion are aligned, a Solar Eclipse is a powerful time to set intention for major change, altering life course, beginning new paths in directions previously untrodden.

Lunar Eclipse:  Also known as a Full Moon Eclipse. Lunar eclipses occur when the Sun and Moon are in opposition from one another and aligned with the axis of the Lunar Nodes (within 15-18º)  .  The Moon falls in the same sign as the Earth and the South Node, in opposition to the North Node and Sun, which fall in the same sign. The shadow of the Earth falls on the lunar surface and creates an impression that the Moon is being eaten up, either partially or entirely. Lunar Eclipses are powerful times for realization and manifestation.  Clarity of vision is profound, and many can experience watershed moments around these times if their natal placements are activated. If the process of change has been conscious, then Lunar Eclipses can provide a significant boost in direction, pushing one up to the next level. If change has been resisted, Lunar Eclipses can often provoke crisis that initiates one onto seeking a healthier, truer path. 


The effects of eclipses are most significant if the transiting Moon aspects natal points – particularly the natal Sun, Moon, or personal points like the Ascendant, Midheaven, Descendant, Imum Coeli or the Nodal Axis.  These points are usually sufficient to provoke a response, however, you can also look to Arabian Parts, Black Moon Lilith or asteroids for interest.  Such factors will usually only be of importance if aspect to personal planets or points anyway, so keep that in mind and spare yourself unnecessary digging. The Vertex is another point which some astrologers use as a marker of fate, destiny, or wish fulfillment as well as being an indicator of relationship matters.  It is always housed in the western half of the chart, usually near the Descendant, and if touched closely by an Eclipse could herald significant changes in relationship – either status of existing, or initiation into a new love relationship.  Also consider the house in which an eclipse falls, and look to the rulership of the house, the position of the house ruler and if it is aspected by the Eclipsing Moon.  The chart ruler, in particular, if aspected by an eclipse should be considered as significant, indicating an invigoration of approach to the core personality. 

If a Solar or Lunar Eclipse aspects a personal planet or point within an 8º orb, you may feel the effects anywhere from one to three months prior to the actual event.  Consider this as rumblings in the deep soul trying to be heard.  All change that we experience has deep roots, created by seed thoughts which may be conscious or unconscious.  As our soul ripens to the impetus for growth, we will find that events align around us to facilitate our development.  Oftentimes, we cannot consciously admit what we want, but the soul knows how to sort the wheat from the chaff, and will subtly steer us in the direction which is best for our personal development.  A person may offhandedly say something, we see an image or an article that resonates with something deep within us, and the path of change is initiated, however quietly at first. If we choose not to listen to these happenchance messages then often after enough chances have passed by, something jarring and overt occurs which snaps us to attention, forcing issues of change that we have been avoiding.  It’s best not to let things go that far, needless to say, so take the time to meditate and listen to your Soul’s yearnings.

Eclipses can be the tipping points that we require to grow into personal well being. As they occur in cycles, we have multiple opportunities for spurring growth, and each passing eclipse will build on the progress made with the last. The effects of eclipses can be permanent, resulting in changed paths, the opening of new doors and a deeper knowledge of self. This does not happen for everyone, every time, so don’t be expecting every eclipse to be a profound cataclysm. However, if you watch the cycles and see how they line up with the particularities of your own chart, you can work with the energy in a focused, concentrated way – opening yourself up to growth and greater self-fulfillment. For most eclipses you can expect to see culmination of change within six months to one year. It’s good to remember that sometimes even little changes, bit by bit, can result in positive shifts in direction, so be patient and be kind to yourself, always.

For dates of this year’s major lunations see here: LUNAR EVENTS 2022 – FULL MOONS, NEW MOONS AND ECLIPSES

For more information on the science of eclipses, see these references:

Wikipedia: Solar Eclipses

Wikipedia: Lunar Eclipses

Short video: PBS Solar Eclipses Explained

Short video: PBS Lunar Eclipses Explained

And for a good online Moon Phase calendar that you can customize to your choice of year and location see here:

Time and Date Moon Phase Calendar

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