Moon Phases: Quarter Moons, Eclipses, New and Full Moons Decoded

There’s no doubt in our minds: if the moon has the power to pull the tides, surely it must affect us humans, whose bodies are made mostly of H2O. And just as the moon phases affect the seas, they can also set the wave patterns on our own emotion oceans.

Here, we break down the monthlong moon phases (or cycles) so you can use it to manifest—New Moons, Quarter Moons, Full Moons and more. Happy Moondancing!

What are the moon phases?

New Moons in Astrology

Let’s get it started in here!

New Moons occur when la luna is perfectly positioned between the Earth and the Sun. As such, the “backside” of the Moon is lit and she becomes invisible from our view down here.

In astrology, New Moon phases always occurs in the same sign as the Sun—for example, when the Sun is in Libra from September 23-October 22, the New Moon that takes place during those 30 days will also be in Libra.

New Moons are thought of as starting points, moments to plant seeds that we’ll harvest six months later, under the light of the Full Moon in the same sign. For example, the New Moon in Gemini always takes place in late May/early June. The Full Moon in Gemini comes half a year later in late November/early December.

Because everything goes dark, it’s as if we have a blank canvas on which to create. In “nothingness” there is a sense of limitless possibilities. That is the gift of the New Moon, a great time for setting intentions, making wishes, and taking the first bold step towards a new goal.

We may actually start to see the first signs of these wishes two weeks later,  when the next Full Moon on the calendar lights up the night skies.

Read about our New Moon Rituals>

First Quarter Moons (Waxing)

Pick up the pace!

The First Quarter Moon comes about a week after each New Moon. It essentially marks the halfway point between the New Moon and the forthcoming Full Moon. Since this Moon is waxing (growing fuller), it brings a reminder to pick up the pace and make sure that our actions match our words. After all, what’s the point of making those New Moon wishes if we don’t actually do something about them?

Grab the baton…but no need to burst into a full-on sprint! Quarter Moon phases are balancers, so measured, thoughtful action is key (and haste makes waste.) The First Quarter Moon is a stellar time to map out a plan of action and take the first few steps.

Full Moons

Ready, set, manifest!

It’s harvest time, baby! The Full Moon is the culmination point of six months of effort. During Full Moon phases, the Moon is on the exact opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. That explains why it’s such a brightly lit spectacle for us to enjoy—and why the Full Moon is always in the opposite sign as the Sun each month. For example, the Virgo Full Moon always happens between February 19 and March 19, while the Sun is in its opposite sign of Pisces. 

As such, contradictions tend to stand out in stark reality during Full Moons and can stir up some intense passion or head butting. Living in New York City, we always notice more barroom scuffles and annoying “pick up artists” on the streets when there’s a Full Moon in the skies.

We’ll reap what we’ve sown since the corresponding New Moon (which happened half a year beforehand). For better or for worse, these moon phases create cosmic manifestation moments that will be eye-openers. Maybe that’s why people get so emotional during Full Moon phases. If they aren’t celebrating, they’re ruminating—and we think it’s important to celebrate either way. Our new word is “mustakes,” the mistakes you must make in order to get ahead. So if you’re not counting your gold coins during a Full Moon, take stock of what’s going on. This is quality information to help you make the necessary course corrections in life.

At Full Moons, we’ll reap what we’ve sown since the corresponding New Moon (which happened half a year beforehand).

The two weeks following a Full Moon (the time leading up to the next New Moon) are the manifestation period. If you love what la luna broughtcha, revel in it and enjoy! If not, dive in and make the sweeping changes necessary to get your life back on track.

Read about Full Moon Rituals>

Third Quarter Moons (Waning)

Results or bust.

The Third Quarter Moon comes approximately a week after the Full Moon, as we are reaping and harvesting, but also winding down to the next New Moon. These moon phases are a time for sorting the crops, if you will. Not every pick is a keeper, so we might be shedding some things that we thought were the bees knees a week before. The good news is, without this “dead weight” in the mix, the true gems can shine.

Yep, you’ve gotta be discerning during the Third Quarter Moon. Fantasy or reality? IRL or URL (unreal life)? Strike a happy medium between creativity and pragmatism. Think: practical magic. With a good dose of both, you can enjoy another week of reveling in the Full Moon’s bounty.

Balsamic Moon

Sweep and sleep.

Feeling worn out, fed up, and pushed to the edge? Check your calendar because there might just be a Balsamic Moon at the wheel. Three to four days before the New Moon, la luna goes “Balsamic,” which is the very last little sliver of waning moon before it “disappears” altogether.  And like the vinegar that shares its name, these moon phases can bring an acidic sting.

As we gear up for the fresh starts that the New Moon brings (which comes right after the Balsamic), we need to do a monthly inventory. Enter the Balsamic moon which might make us feel cranky, exhausted and pushed to the edge. Hey, how else are we going to know where our limits lie? As we wind down and complete a monthlong lunar cycle, the Balsamic Moon reminds us to clean house. Let go of draining obligations, toxic emotional ties, and anything else that’s gotten more complicated than it’s worth. Or just go take a nap. You probably need one. The New Moon will hit the reset button shortly, and productivity will return.


Hey there, shadow dancer.

Eclipses are extra special moon phases that occur on average four times each year when the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow or the Moon’s shadow crosses the Earth. Because the Moon’s orbit around the Earth is tilted at 5 degrees to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, it usually misses the shadow.

As such, eclipses only happen during specific New Moons (Solar Eclipses) and Full Moons (Lunar Eclipses)—and pack an extra punch. It’s interesting to note that eclipses also always happen in the same signs that the Moon’s North and South Nodes—the cosmic destiny points—are currently (or recently/soon to be) transiting.

Read more about eclipses>

Solar Eclipses

During Solar Eclipses the Moon is directly between the Earth and Sun (known as a conjunction between the Sun and the Moon, so they are in the same zodiac sign). During this brief time the Moon can “block out” the Sun, temporarily turning off the lights, if you will. During a Solar Eclipse, the Moon’s shadow crosses the Earth and we can see it as that “little black spot on the Sun” when it’s visible.

We have a finite focus as human beings, and it’s natural to concentrate on what’s in front of us. At times, this can limit our perspectives on the world, and even cause us to miss out on opportunities. Solar Eclipses might snatch away the familiar temporarily, forcing us to consider options we would never otherwise explore. Although this can cause temporary upheaval, eclipses are “cruel to be kind.” Major growth can happen during these cosmic power outages. This is when we should leap into new (and generally improved) terrain, even if we feel forced there by circumstance.

Read more about eclipses here>

Lunar Eclipses

During a Lunar Eclipse, the Earth is exactly between the Sun and the Moon (known as an opposition between the Sun and the Moon). For a brief spell during these moon phases, we can see the Earth’s shadow turning the luminous Full Moon intense shades of reds, browns and grays.

According to astrology, Lunar Eclipses give us a glimpse into what Carl Jung referred to as the “shadow self.” We all want to think of ourselves as good, kind people, but c’mon—we’re also human! What we discover about ourselves and others during Lunar Eclipses can be tough to swallow, even shocking. Still, this gives us the opportunity to embrace our wholeness, and see where we have room to grow in new directions.

Owning the fact that we have emotions like fear, anger, jealousy and rage is the way to get a handle on them. Trying to pretend we’re Polly Pure or Sam Straight-laced? That’s when our feelings creep up and overwhelm us. If we’re willing to accept the good along with the bad, Lunar eclipses can be magical moments of discovery.

Read more about eclipses here>


The AstroTwins

Identical twin sisters Ophira and Tali Edut, known as The AstroTwins, are the founders of and the authors of multiple bestselling astrology books. Their horoscopes reach millions here and through their resident astrologer column at ELLE Magazine.