The changing faces of the moon represent the Goddess as she cycles between her aspects as Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Each phase of the moon offers powerful energy for use in ritual work and witchcraft. Rituals known as esbats traditionally happen on the full moon, and sometimes the new moon, but you can also do them on the first quarter moon and last quarter moon. This article will acquaint you with what the moon cycles look like, when they occur, and what types of witchcraft (summoning or banishing) they support. For more information, see the article What Are Wiccan Esbats? in Related Links below.
The new moon is dark because the earth has passed between moon and the sun, blocking the sun’s radiance. It looks like a dark disk with a thin rim of light, and it moves together with the sun, rising at sunrise and setting at sunset. The night of the new moon is a threshold between waxing and waning phases, and so you can practice witchcraft that summons or banishes on this night.
Waxing Crescent Moon
During the week of the waxing (increasing) crescent moon, the Goddess is present in her Maiden aspect, and the moon curves to the right in a D-shape. The first sliver of moon visible in the sky after the new moon is known as Diana’s Bow after the virgin Goddess of the Hunt, and some witches do ritual to honor her.
First Quarter Moon
The first quarter moon shows its right half in a perfect semi-circle, but its left half is lost to darkness. It rises at noon and sets at midnight and is more potent at night, so a good time for witchcraft is between sunset and midnight. Tonight the moon gets a boost of energy that pushes it toward the full moon, and you can use this to fuel ritual and witchcraft dedicated to summoning.
Waxing Gibbous Moon
Here, the term “gibbous” means that the moon looks more than half-full, but is not yet full. During this week, you can practice summoning magic, visualize the summoning happening, and take practical steps to include new energies in your life.
The full moon moves opposite to the sun, rising at sunset and setting at sunrise. This can be a time of celebration, witchcraft, or both. You can give thanks for the completion of the previous month’s spells, or you can use the extra power burst of the full moon to fuel your current spells to completion. The night of the full moon is also a threshold between waxing and waning phases, and so you can practice witchcraft that summons or banishes on this night.
Waning Gibbous Moon
Here, the term “gibbous” means that the moon looks less than full, but still more than half-full. During this week, you can practice banishing magic, visualize the banishing happening, and take practical steps to clear away unwanted things and influences.
The last quarter moon shows its left half in a perfect semi-circle, but its right half is lost to darkness. It rises at midnight and sets at noon and is more potent at night, so a good time for witchcraft is between midnight and dawn. Tonight the moon gets a boost of energy that pushes it toward the new moon, and you can use this to fuel ritual and witchcraft dedicated to banishing.
Waning Balsamic Moon
This moon represents the Goddess in her Crone phase, and curves to the left in a C-shape. It looks less than half full, but it has not yet reached the dark of the moon. This week is a time of emptiness, cleansing, and protection spells. If you have not worked any banishing magic, you may treat this last week as a time of rest and contemplation while you approach the new beginning of the new moon.