Meteorologists can now try to predict the weather, but as we all know—you can't count on anyone to tell you for sure what the weather is going to be like for the next week. It is usually hit or miss, especially in South Florida where I live.
But the Moon is our natural satellite for predicting weather, and merely viewing its changes can help you to know if it is going to rain or be sunny the next day. When the Moon is visible, take the time to go out and look at it. It changes constantly. It is awe-inspiring when you begin to understand that the Moon's phases, for us, are simply its relationship to the Sun. The New Moon is the receiver of the light, and the Full Moon reflects it.
Farmers know that all green vegetation is influenced by the Moon, and that it is most powerful during its New and Full phases. Here are some short lessons about its cycle of 29.5 days (that's the average time it takes from one New Moon to the next). After you have learned this, bring it back into your mind as you practice The Moon Salutation.
This section is here to help you understand why it is important to revere the Moon.
According to The Old Farmer's Almanac (2005)
, the Moon Phases are “the changing appearance of the Moon, caused by the different angles at which it is illuminated by the Sun.”
PHASE 1 - NEW MOON
The Dark Phase - Emergence and Projection - New Beginnings
The New Moon is not visible because the side of it that is facing us is not being lit by the sun. It is aligned between the earth and the sun, so it is between 0-45 degrees ahead of the Sun. It will not be visible except when there is a solar eclipse. The Moon is now receiving and absorbing the energy and light of the Sun. As you begin The Moon Salutation, think of your body as a conduit, just like the Moon, receiving and absorbing the energy and light of the Sun and Moon. The energy of pure light fills every Chakra, nerve, organ, cell. You are filled with the energy of the Moon, even if you cannot see it in the sky.
PHASE 2 - WAXING CRESCENT
Crescent Phase - Struggle and Assertion
Less then half of the Moon is illuminated in this phase. The part that is lit up is slowly getting larger. A crescent Moon is part way between a Half Moon and a new Moon, or between a new Moon and a Half Moon. It is now 45-90 degrees ahead of the Sun, 3.5 to 7 days after the New Moon. As you stretch your body back into a half-moon pose, imagine that you are expanding in consciousness, in light. Assert yourself to maintain this sense of flow with the Moon.
Crescent moons are overhead during the day, but they are generally only visible near sunrise/sunset (both because of their small illumination and the brighter light from the Sun).
PHASE 3 - FIRST QUARTER
First Quarter Phase, Waxing Moon - Crisis in Action
Building New Structures - Things Come to a Head
One half of the Moon is illuminated by sunlight and looks like half of a circle. The part that is lit up is slowly increasing in visibility. This Moon has completed one quarter of an orbit around the Earth from either the Full or New position and one quarter of the Moon's surface is visible from Earth. It is now 90 to 135 degrees ahead of the Sun, 7 to 10.5 days after the New Moon. As you move forward and down, you feel the image of the Moon as being split in half, and this brings you flowing forward and down with ease. Feel the increase in light, the expansion of pure light streaming through you.
PHASE 4 - WAXING GIBBOUS MOON
Gibbous Phase - Perfection and Analysis
Now more than half of the Moon is illuminated and visible. The part that is lit is slowly getting larger. In this phase, the Moon is 135 to 180 degrees ahead of the Sun, 10.5 to 14 days after the New Moon. Waxing means to slowly get larger. A Gibbous Moon is between a Full Moon and a Half Moon, or between a Half Moon and a Full Moon (see below for Waning Gibbous). By now you are beginning to feel that you are expanding more and more in every way. Soon the light will be so bright, you will feel that you are just like the Moon, absorbing the Sun completely into your mind, body and soul.
PHASE 5 - FULL MOON
Full Phase, Culmination - Illumination and Objectivity
The Divine Mother - Moon Shadow
Now the side of the Moon that is illuminated by sunlight is facing the Earth. It is reflecting the Sun for us. The visible side of the Moon is lit up and fully visible now. She is round. It is 180 to 135 degrees behind the Sun, 2 weeks after the New Moon. Just as the New Moon is a good time for planting, so is the Full Moon. The Harvest Moon—which is the Full Moon around March 21, the Autumnal Equinox— brings a few more days of a rising Moon soon after sunset. This helps the farmers with extra light to harvest before winter. And now you are as bright as the Sun, but not blinded by the energy. You are full. You are complete.
PHASE 6 - WANING GIBBOUS
Disseminating Phase, 3rd Quarter Phase - Distribution of Ideas
The Moon is more than half illuminated by sunlight. The part of the Moon lit is slowly getting smaller. Waning means to slowly decrease. It is 135 to 90 degrees behind the Sun, 3.5 to 7 days after the Full Moon. And now you return to bringing it all back to the beginning the other way around. The more you do, the better it feels.
PHASE 7 - LAST QUARTER
Third Quarter Phase, Waning Moon - Crisis in Consciousness - Reorientation - Prepare for Rebirth
Now half of the moon is illuminated by sunlight. The part we see is slowly decreasing in size. It is 90 to 45 degrees behind the Sun, 7 to 10 days after the Full moon.
PHASE 8 - WANING CRESCENT
Balsamic Phase, Ending Phase
Distillation of Wisdom and Commitment
It's only a crescent Moon ... A small part of the Moon is illuminated by sunlight in this phase. It is getting smaller by the minute. Soon it will not be visible and will once again be a New Moon. It is 45 to 0 degrees behind the sun, 10 to 14 days after the Full Moon. You are returning to the New Moon soon, and will once again become a receiver and absorber of the light of the Sun on the Moon—within you.
Moons have been given names throughout the centuries, but Native Americans kept track of the Moon by giving each recurring Full Moon a specific name. When Europeans came to America, they copied this practice. Obviously, these names are translated into English from the original languages of the Algonquians and other tribes. It's fun to know these. It makes it easier to remember the Moon when it's full. I have included the names here
in the right column of this page. The names become obvious when you think of the month.
The Native American names appear first. Other names include what I learned when I lived in Sweden—where they pay more attention to the Moon and celebrate its light—and from books that I have read . Obviously, Swedes need as much light as they can get during the winter months!