How the Waxing and Waning Moon Affects Your Mindset and Mood

Photo: Getty Images / Dmitriydanilov
While astrological energy tends to prioritize the full moon and new moon, those are just two of the moon's monthly phases. The full moon is connected to a feeling of abundance, celebration, and, occasionally, restlessness; while the new moon is for setting intentions and starting a new cycle fresh. But since most of our time unfolds amid waning and waxing moon cycles, understanding how to best harness their energy is crucial.

According to transformational astrologer Corina Crysler, a key component of working with the moon is knowing patterns in the moon's cycles. "Knowing the patterns creates awareness and a deep understanding of what you want, and how to get it," she says. "When we know how we want to feel, we can apply that to our dreams and create soulful manifestations."

Experts In This Article

For some basic background lunar intel, the moon's cycle is 29.5 days. The first half of the cycle builds light (waxing phase) and the second half loses light from the sun (waning phase). Below, learn how to most effectively embrace the energy of each.

What is a waning moon?

The waning moon follows the full moon and marks the part of the moon's cycle when it loses light—think "waning," and getting smaller, day by day. Once the light starts to retreat in the moon's waning phase, you may notice its impact on your energy and emotions.

What happens during the waning phase of the moon?

"During the first part of the waning phase, it's important to look at what you've accomplished and harvest the rewards for your work," says Crysler. "It begins the process of going inward and tapping into your intuition. It's a time to be more gentle with your energy and adjust your routine to honor the opportunity of transformation. So instead of a bootcamp, try yoga or a long walk; eat foods that are warming and grounding, and conserve your energy."

According to astrology, lunar energy is passive, gentle, and connected to retreating inward, and the darker moon phases ask us not to act, but to listen to our intuition and be within our bodies. When the emotional body is suppressed, stagnation happens, which creates blockages and pain points. That's part of why the waning phase of the moon asks us to look inside and realize what needs to be released.

This can culminate toward the end of that cycle, when the waning moon becomes the dark moon. Any water moon signs will love this energy, which makes sense—moon signs reflect our deep emotional worlds, and water signs have deep emotional worlds. That said, the dark moon's intensity impacts all other moon signs as well.

"The darkness, however, is not evil or bad—it's concentrated energy where no light is reflected," says Crysler. "It's the unknown but holds the answers you are seeking. This is when we ask the questions we are seeking to help us rejuvenate, and set out intentions to begin a new cycle on the new moon."

Waning Moon FAQs

Why is it called a waning moon?

A waning moon means that the moon’s illuminated area is decreasing.

Which side of the moon is waning?

If the shadow of the moon is on the right side, it’s waning.

What are the phases of a waning moon?

The waning phases of the moon are categorized as gibbous and crescent. In order, a full moon transitions to a waning gibbous, then to a third quarter moon, then to a waning crescent, which is the last phase of the moon, before re-entering into the New Moon. During this process, the moon is losing light.

What is a waxing moon?

The waxing moon is the opposite of the waning phase of the moon; it begins after the new moon and lasts until the full moon phase. The waxing moon's energy is noted as overt, outward, and expanding; it wants you to spring forth and finish what needs to be done in order to make your dreams a reality.

What happens during the waxing phase of the moon?

"Our energy builds during this moon phase for us to achieve our goals by creating action around our intentions," says Crysler. "During this phase, it’s important to expend your energy to honor the cycle of movement and expansion. As the moon becomes illuminated, so do areas of life that need to be addressed that are challenging us in our personal expansion."

So during the waxing moon phase, pay attention to what physical worldly obstacles are in your way, and creative ways to get around them. Look for new solutions to old problems and hustle, hustle, hustle.

"The work during the waxing phase is to get things done and to find the motivation to create change for growth," Crysler says. "This is typically associated with the feelings that make you feel motivated and have a lot of strength and creative expression."

Waxing Moon FAQs

Why is it called a waxing moon?

A waxing moon means that the moon’s illuminated area is increasing.

Which side of the moon is waxing?

If the shadow of the moon is on the left side, then it’s waxing.

What are the phases of a waxing moon?

The waxing phases of the moon are categorized as gibbous and crescent. In order, a New Moon transitions to a waxing crescent, then to a first quarter moon, then to a waxing gibbous. During this process, the moon is gaining light.

Waxing vs. Waning: What To Keep in Mind

How do you remember waning and waxing?

As with all things, you have to find a method that works best for you. Think of waxing as expanding and waning as shrinking, both in terms of the visible area of the moon. Another way to keep track of whether the moon is waxing or waning is to download an app, like My Moon Phase, that tracks the current lunar cycle and makes moon mapping and manifestation easier than ever.

What is the relationship between wax and wane?

The waning and waxing lunar cycles are opposites. “They mirror each other with the waxing cycle moving from the major phases: New Moon of potential to the First Quarter of purpose to the Full Moon of power,” explains Kim Woods, MBA and Evolutionary Astrology Master. “The waning cycle moves into the Last Quarter of prosperity and back into the New Moon of potential.”

Beyond just waxing and waning, she shares that the cycles of the moon relate directly to the seasons of the year. “The New and Full Moon phases relate to the solstices and the quarter moons to the equinoxes; the solstices are the farthest points and the equinox are the rebalancing ones,” she explains, noting that the lunar phases act in the same manner.

Other Lunar FAQs

What does the moon symbolize?

The moon has been around forever (well, for at least 4.53 billion years), and as such, it’s gained meaning beyond what meets the eye throughout its existence.

“The moon has meaning, both astronomically and astrologically,” Woods says. “Astronomically, the moon orbits around the Earth pulling at the oceans to create the tides while she reflects the sunlight on her face as the Earth orbits around the Sun. The sunlight reflected on the Moon’s surface is always in relation to what you can see from the Earth’s perspective. The far side reflection can’t be seen from Earth, so is known as the New Moon and the near side reflection, which can be seen completely, is known as the Full Moon. The other phases involve the day side of the Moon.”

Meanwhile, astrologically, a person’s moon sign signifies where the moon was within the sky at the time of their birth. Generally speaking, your moon sign is said to reflect your subconscious. “The Moon represents the feminine, intuition, and emotional realm of feelings,” Woods says. “She symbolizes the heart, remembrance, nurturance, and motherly energy.” So if you’ve ever wondered how or why the moon affects your love life, now you know.

Why does the moon go through phases throughout the month?

“The angled axis of the Earth in combination with the elliptic pattern around the Sun creates an almost 30-day cycle for the Moon to travel completely around the Earth,” Woods explains. “Astronomers have broken down this 30-day cycle into 4 major phases occurring at specific times, no matter where you are on Earth and 4 secondary phases reflecting a span of time, not a specific moment.” The four primary phases of the moon are the New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, and Last Quarter. The four secondary phases of the moon are Waxing Crescent, Waxing Gibbous, Waning Gibbous, and Waning Crescent. “The reason for eight phases relates to the earthly directions with the four cardinal ones: north, east, south, west, and the four ordinal ones: northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest,” Woods adds.

What is a gibbous moon?

A gibbous moon is one that is rounded, with more than half of the moon being illuminated.

What is the waxing gibbous moon?

A waxing gibbous moon means that the moon’s illuminated area is increasing.

Why is it called waning gibbous?

A waning gibbous moon means that the moon’s illuminated area is above 50%, but is shrinking.

What is a crescent moon?

A crescent moon is one that is concave, with less than half of the moon being illuminated.

What is the waxing crescent?

A waxing crescent moon means that the moon’s illuminated area is increasing, but it’s still under 50%.

Why is it called waning crescent?

A waning crescent moon means that the moon’s illuminated area is below 50%, but is decreasing.

Which moon is best for manifesting?

It all depends on what you’re manifesting. “The waxing or manifestation cycle begins with the waxing crescent, which is great for setting intention,” Woods says. “The first quarter moon is good for making adjustments and the waxing gibbous is good for making connections with others to either seek opportunities or gather support.” Still, the full moon is often thought to be the primary moon for manifesting. “The Full Moon is both a combination of the manifestation you've achieved during that waxing cycle and it’s a celebration of what you've created,” Woods says. “It’s a time to stand still and survey your surroundings to determine what it is that you want to let go of and reprioritize during that waning cycle.”

How does the moon affect mood?

Since the moon is heavily related to feminine energy and feelings, the phases of the moon can alter mood greatly. “The Moon affects your mood because she loves to deal with the mysteries of the heart,” Woods says. “The Moon involves the unseen, unheard, and unknown. She longs to connect and engage while respecting the need for solitude and silence. She’s the softer side of life.”

Which signs does the moon affect the most?

Astrologically, Woods says that water signs are most affected by the moon, with cancer being most affiliated with her. “Water signs are foundationally emotional, reflective, and inward,” Woods points out. That said, water signs aren’t the only signs to react with the moon. “The Moon is not linear, she’s creative,” Woods continues. “She’s part of the creative cycle and as such gets along with the fiery signs of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.” In comparison, she says that the watery signs relate to the waning cycle while the fire signs click with the waxing one.

Meanwhile, Earth signs don’t jive quite as much with the moon. “The Earth signs of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn have trouble getting along with the Moon, because these signs tend not to understand the emotional realm,” Woods admits. “The air signs, Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius like to go with the flow as does the Moon, so can create a connection between the mind (air) and the heart (Moon).” With this in mind, Woods says that Earth signs understand the waxing cycle, while air signs like both the waning and the waxing phases.

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