First off, a little science lesson: both the moon and the Earth rotate around the sun, and the moon orbits Earth. Half of the moon is always lit by the sun; the part facing it appears bright to us because of reflected sunlight, while the other half appears dark (the sun is the only celestial body that creates its own light, which is reflected by the moon). During the month or so period of the moon’s orbit, it experiences different lunar phases where more or less of it is visible and illuminated to us as it goes along its path—like the gibbus, waxing, and waning phases. The start of this cycle is the new moon, a time associated in astrology with manifestation and wishes, and the full moon is its culmination, which is why it’s so key to enact some full moon rituals to harness its celestial power (more on that below).
- Carla Marie Manly, PhD, clinical psychologist, life fulfillment expert, and author of Date Smart, Joy From Fear, and Aging Joyfully
- Jasmin Alejandrez-Prasad, Los Angeles-based astrologer
- Megan Skinner, clairvoyant, astrologer, tarot card reader, and co-host of the So Divine! podcast
- Stephanie Gailing, astrologer, wellness consultant, dream interpreter, and author of The Complete Guide to Astrological Self-Care and The Complete Book of Dreams
Spiritually, each of the phases of the moon connects with specific intel for how to act in alignment with our highest selves during the respective phase. The full moon is the phase where the moon looks fully lit from our perspective here on Earth; it’s a time of ending, not beginning, and we should act accordingly. But knowing what not to do on a full moon is just as key as knowing what to do.
“All lunar phases offer equal opportunity for manifestation and intentional ritual work,” says astrologer and numerologist Jasmin Alejandrez-Prasad, also known as Estoteric Esa. “However, full moon phases tend to receive a lot of importance because it is a time of culmination.” This makes full moon phases a great time for subtly implementing powerful, positive change in our lives, particularly as it relates to letting go of negative energy. Certain other factors, like whether you’re having a period or if your birthday falls on a full moon, can play a role in how you experience and perceive a full moon, too.
But, it's not a powerful time for all possible activities. Just as full moons mark a powerful time for certain practices and habits, they're not the right time for others. Ahead, find five suggestions from Alejandrez-Prasad and Stephanie Gailing, astrologer and author of The Complete Guide to Living by the Moon, about what not to do on a full moon.
What not to do on a full moon, according to astrologers
1. Seek new beginnings
Full moons aren't the time to set something new in motion. Rather, “this is a time of releasing, welcoming closure, and allowing things to complete,” says Alejandrez-Prasad. “Creating new beginnings will backfire and won't gain the momentum deserved.”
If you’re itching to launch any given project, you can be mindfully productive during full moon phases by considering what habits, people, or beliefs you might need to let go of in order for that venture to be successful. Be as honest with yourself as possible, because, again, full moons are a perfect time for release.
"This is a time of releasing, welcoming closure, and allowing things to complete."—Jasmin Alejandrez-Prasad, astrologer
2. Initiate intense discussions
The illumination the full moon brings has the potential to kick up conflicts, so arguments may be more likely to ensue during full moons. With this in mind, it's best to avoid heated discussions during this lunar event, so you can avoid getting yourself into hot water. “With that heightened emotionality, there's just a sense of there could be an escalation for some people in terms of conflict,” says Gailing.
Since the energy of the full moon encourages you to let go (not have intense discussions with someone in your life), table the urge for now, and if you still feel strongly to bring it up at a later time, go forth. If you observe that you’re significantly less upset after a few days, channel the full moon energy to let your grievance go.
3. Consume mind-altering substances
While even the world’s longest-living people have a favorite wine and folks have various reasons for partaking in other recreational substances, this tip's aim is to protect you from diminishing your intuitive powers, says Alejandrez-Prasad.
“Try to avoid alcohol or drugs [during] full moon phases, as you'll miss messages from your third eye,” she adds. You want to be fully aware during full moon phases to truly identify what would serve you best to release.
4. Overextend your schedule
During full moon phases, Alejandrez-Prasad recommends staying home and relaxing as much as possible. “Full moon phases tend to cause more accidents and chaos,” she says, perhaps because release often comes with grief. Gailing adds that you want to be emotionally present for all the revelations you’re bound to have on a full moon and to have space to work through your feelings—packing your day full of errands and tasks won’t allow you to do that.
To circumvent the havoc that’s associated with full moon energy, she recommends turning your focus introspectively to yourself. Consider it a welcome opportunity to do an at-home facial.
5. Rush the process
According to Alejandrez-Prasad, full moon energy typically lasts two weeks—which means it’s important to exercise patience as you allow your full moon intentions to materialize. She recommends using the days after the full moon event “to keep working through intentions in order to bring them into fruition.” As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day, and manifestation via moon energy works similarly.
What you should do on a full moon for manifestation
Rather than using the full moon to initiate something, use it as a chance to do an internal check in or reset to deal with the intense feelings that may arise. According to Gailing and astrologer and tarot reader Megan Skinner, co-host of the So Divine! podcast, the best way to spend a full moon is in an almost downshifting mode; Skinner says full moons are "an excellent time to be quiet, go within, and reflect." Use the full moon period as a chance to take a beat, and take a deep breath. "It's kind of a time to slow down and watch out for triggers," adds Skinner. How exactly might you do this? Here are three lunar rituals that will provide some calm and can also help with manifestation.
1. Prioritize your sleep
For ages, people have made connections between their behavior and lunar phases, and Gailing says that traditionally full moons are associated with issues sleeping, like getting less sleep in general and having more restless nights.
There is some scientific evidence that moon phases have an effect on our sleep, but many of the studies are small and the findings varied. However, one 2013 study published in the journal Current Biology found that participants reported sleeping less, taking longer to both fall asleep at all and reaching REM sleep during the full moon. They reported that the sleep they did get wasn’t as good quality, either. Another study from 2014 published in the same journal found that participants slept 25 minutes less during a full moon and that they woke up more.
In any case, it’s never a bad idea to make getting enough restful sleep a priority, so why not rededicate yourself to the pursuit now? Gailing recommends going to bed a little earlier and really prioritizing your nighttime wind down routine. Need ideas? Read a book, do a quick meditation like progressive muscle relaxation, or light a soothing aromatherapy candle to help you drift off to dreamland.
2. Shadow work
One thing you should be sure to do on a full moon if you’re up for it? Shadow work, says Gailing. Because the full moon is a time of heightened clarity and perception, it’s a great time to turn this higher sight inward toward the pieces of your psyche and personality that you typically bury deep. “During the full moon, you can do exceptional work about excavating your shadow, which brings incredible amounts of healing because you're embracing all sides of yourself,” she says.
Indeed, as clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD, PhD, author of Joy From Fear previously told Well+Good, the shadow self is the self beneath the surface. “The shadow aspect tends to be the part we are not familiar with that we tend to repress," she says. "It often holds the pieces of the self that are filled with shame, guilt, inferiority, and unlovability—all of those critical pieces that we like to keep away from the persona that is very ego-driven.”
To start this practice, you can begin to ask yourself if certain people or circumstances in your life are serving you. Consider whether any of your traits or behaviors contribute to this dynamic, and try to keep reflecting on this. Journaling is a helpful method of introspection that can aid this work, too.
Keep in mind that shadow work is by design deeply emotional and affecting—you are looking at the parts of yourself that you’re less proud of, after all. Remember how full moons are times of heightened emotion? Give yourself some extra support before you start your shadow work by keeping lines of communication open with your friends, loved ones, and therapist (if you have one).
3. Moon bathing
Doing a moon bath ritual can be a particularly centering and abundant way to spend a full moon night. The moon and water are closely linked in astrology and both are associated with emotions (that's why the moon is cardinal water sign Cancer's ruling planet), so accessing the peace and clarity a bath provides is a particularly appropriate way to spend the night of a full moon.
To make moon water, fill a bowl or other vessel with water and set it out for several hours in the moonlight. “ “You're basically taking the energetics of the moon that are infused in that water, and you're using that to continue this ritual connection with the moon,” says Gailing.
Fill your bathtub with your favorite bath salts, essential oils, and a bit of moon water. If you don’t have a tub, you can do a little foot bath or even bottle the moon water in a spray bottle to use as facial mist or toner.
Frequently asked questions about full moons
Are full moons considered lucky?
According to Gailing, full moons historically have been considered auspicious because they allowed people to be out at night because of the illumination the moon provided. Because the full moon provided extra light, she says people may have felt more confident, comfortable, and safe during these days, and so they began to associate full moons with luck and wonder. “They were an emblem of fruition, good fortune, abundance because you have a lot more freedom and safety at night during a full moon,” she says.
"They were an emblem of fruition, good fortune, abundance because you have a lot more freedom and safety at night during a full moon."—Stephanie Gailing, astrologer and author
Indeed, some cultures associate the full moon with luck and abundance. For example, if you’re ever had the pleasure of tasting a mooncake, you might know that the Mid-Autumn Festival is a tradition that dates back nearly 3,000 years with major cultural and spiritual significance in Chinese culture. Based on the legend of the moon goddess Chang’e, it’s a time of harmony and unity.
As for whether a full moon is lucky or not, she says there’s no definitive answer and it depends upon your cultural beliefs. Astrologically, though, what a full moon does is bring something to light—this something isn’t necessarily lucky or unlucky. Full moon revelations can be lucky and great, or they can be harsher truths that you needed to hear. “It's not always that everything that's brought to light during a full moon is necessarily wonderful and delicious and terrific; what could be brought to light was that you missed a piece or it didn’t work out as you thought, or you need to do a little bit more work” she says.
What foods should you avoid during a full moon?
If you find that your sleep is worse during full moons, you should consider avoiding food that’ll hinder your shut-eye, suggests Gailing. Caffeine’s effects on sleep are well documented, and alcohol can also hinder the quality of sleep, too; limit these drinks to earlier in the day when they're likely to have less of an impact. Eating heavy meals, which may include high fat or spicy foods, close to bedtime can also negatively impact your sleep.
Instead, opt for foods and drinks that will invite sleep. Try drinks for sleep like the sleepy girl mocktail, which contains sleep-inducing tart cherry juice and magnesium. Need a midnight snack? Try cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, or a banana with peanut butter—all of which contain various sleep supporting nutrients.
- Cajochen, Christian et al. “Evidence that the lunar cycle influences human sleep.” Current biology : CB vol. 23,15 (2013): 1485-8. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.029
- Smith, Michael et al. “Human sleep and cortical reactivity are influenced by lunar phase.” Current biology : CB vol. 24,12 (2014): R551-R552. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.05.018
- Clark, Ian, and Hans Peter Landolt. “Coffee, caffeine, and sleep: A systematic review of epidemiological studies and randomized controlled trials.” Sleep medicine reviews vol. 31 (2017): 70-78. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2016.01.006
- Crispim, Cibele Aparecida et al. “Relationship between food intake and sleep pattern in healthy individuals.” Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine vol. 7,6 (2011): 659-64. doi:10.5664/jcsm.1476
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