- 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
First off, a little science lesson: As the moon orbits Earth, it moves through different lunar phases, including waxing and waning. The cycle begins with the new moon, which is when the moon's face is fully darkened by Earth's shadow, and as it moves out of that shadow, it waxes or appears to grow until it becomes a full moon, which is when it's fully illuminated by the sun, marking the end of the cycle. From there, the moon wanes or appears to shrink until it's a new moon once more.
“All lunar phases offer equal opportunity for manifestation and intentional ritual work,” says astrologer and numerologist Jasmin Alejandrez-Prasad, also known as Esoteric Esa. “However, full moon phases tend to receive a lot of importance because it is a time of culmination.” Indeed, the full moon is considered the end of the lunar cycle and is connected in astrology to release and letting go, making this phase a prime time for full moon rituals involving reflection. It's the new moon, by contrast, that starts the lunar cycle and is more directly aligned for setting new intentions or making wishes.
This energetic distinction means that full moons are better suited for certain practices and behaviors than others. Ahead, find suggestions from astrologers on what not to do during full moons, plus what to do instead to align your actions with the cosmic vibe.
What not to do on a full moon, according to astrologers
1. Seek new beginnings
A full moon isn't the time to set something new in motion. Rather, “this is a time of releasing, welcoming closure, and allowing things to be completed,” says Alejandrez-Prasad. “Creating new beginnings will backfire and won't gain the momentum deserved.”
"This is a time of releasing, welcoming closure, and allowing things to be completed."—Jasmin Alejandrez-Prasad, astrologer
If you are itching to launch a new project around a full moon, you can still be mindfully productive by considering what habits, people, or beliefs you might need to let go of in order for that venture to be successful. After all, embarking on any new chapter requires closing the previous one.
That applies all the more if a full moon falls on your birthday, which signifies that you may need to disentangle yourself from certain unsupportive habits or behaviors in order to meet the full potential of your next trip around the sun.
2. Initiate intense discussions
The illumination of the full moon can bring previously hidden or obscured information to light, meaning that conflicts once brushed under the rug can resurface. With this in mind, it's best to avoid leaning into discussions that could spark debate or tension during this lunar event. “With that heightened emotionality at play, there could be an undue escalation for some people in terms of conflict,” says astrologer Stephanie Gailing, author of The Complete Guide to Living by the Moon.
Since the energy of the full moon encourages letting go, table the urge for confrontation during this lunar phase, and if you still feel strongly about bringing up the topic at a later time, go forth. But if you observe that you’re significantly less worked up about the issue at hand once a few days pass, channel the full moon energy once more 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 mind-altering substances, it's best to avoid ingesting any kind of alcohol or recreational drug that can skew your perspective during such an intuitive time as a full moon phase, says Alejandrez-Prasad, “as you could miss messages from your third eye.” You want to be fully aware and fully yourself during full moon phases to truly identify what you need to release.
4. Overextend yourself
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.
According to astrologer and tarot reader Megan Skinner, co-host of the So Divine! podcast, the best way to spend a full moon is to put yourself in downshifting mode. "A full moon is an excellent time to be quiet, go within, and reflect," she says. "It's a time to slow down and watch out for triggers."
Indeed, Gailing recommends turning your focus introspectively to yourself. The energy at stake could allow you certain emotional, creative, or healing breakthroughs if you channel it inward, particularly if you are on a "red moon cycle" or have your period on a full moon.
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 endings to come to light and intentions you set around the new moon to materialize. She recommends using the days after the full moon event “to keep working through intentions in order to bring them to fruition.” As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day, and manifestation via moon energy works similarly.
What to do on a full moon for good luck
1. Prioritize your sleep
Gailing says that traditionally, full moons are associated with sleep issues, including getting less sleep and struggling to get restorative, high-quality sleep. And there's some scientific evidence to that effect—though the studies are small and brief. One 2013 study found that participants reported sleeping less during a full moon phase as compared to during other moon phases, taking longer to both fall asleep and reach REM sleep during the full moon. And another study from 2014 found that participants slept 25 minutes less during a full moon and woke up more often in response to environmental stimuli.
Regardless, it’s never a bad idea to make getting enough restful sleep a priority, so why not take a full moon as an opportunity to rededicate yourself to the pursuit? Gailing recommends going to bed a little earlier and 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. Practice shadow work
Because the full moon is a time of heightened clarity and perception, it’s an optimal moment for embracing shadow work, or turning toward the pieces of your psyche that are typically buried deep—the qualities you may not want to accept about yourself. “During the full moon, you can do exceptional work toward excavating your shadow, which can bring immense healing because you're embracing all sides of yourself,” says Gailing.
As clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD, previously told Well+Good, “the shadow aspect 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.” It's only in bringing these pieces into the light (via shadow work) that you can effectively reconcile with them and prevent them from causing damage.
To start this practice, consider journaling about the qualities or traits that you've deemed undesirable or unlovable within yourself, and then dig deeper by considering the core wounds underlying these beliefs (aka the experiences or interactions that initially caused you to see each of these shadow traits as negative). From there, find the silver lining of each shadow by reframing the trait into a positive. For example, if being bossy or arrogant is one of your shadow traits, you might reconsider how the same quality might allow you to be a powerful and effective leader.
Keep in mind that shadow work is, by design, deeply emotional—you're looking at the parts of yourself that you’re less proud of, after all. 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. Take a moon bath
Doing a moon bath ritual can be a particularly centering, abundant way to spend a full moon evening. The moon and water are closely linked in astrology, and both are associated with emotions; after all, the moon is the ruling planet of water sign Cancer, whose most significant qualities are emotional depth and empathy. In turn, accessing the peace and clarity a bath can provide is a particularly aligned way to embrace full moon energy.
While a regular bath can work just fine here, you can also dial up the celestial powers of your bath by adding a few rose petals or illuminating crystals like quartz or moonstone to help you connect to your intuition. Another potential addition? A splash of cosmically charged moon water, which you can make by filling a bowl with water the night before the full moon and setting it outside overnight. “[By adding this moon water to your bath], you're basically taking the energetics of the moon itself, and you're using that to deepen your ritual connection with the moon,” says Gailing.
Don't have a tub? Use a big bowl to do a full moon foot bath in the same way, or bottle some moon water in a spray bottle to spritz on your face.
Frequently Asked Questions About What To Do on Full Moons
Are full moons considered lucky?
According to Gailing, full moons have historically been considered auspicious because, in times before artificial lighting, the extra illumination they provided uniquely allowed people to be outside at night. “[Full moons] were an emblem of good fortune and abundance because people once had a lot more freedom and safety at night during a full moon,” she says.
In Chinese culture, in particular, the full moon has long been associated with prosperity and abundance. Indeed, on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar (which brings the full harvest moon), Chinese people celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival (aka Moon Festival), worshipping and gazing upon the moon and enjoying round mooncakes with family and friends.
Astrologically, the full moon is also thought to bring once-hidden things to light—which can be lucky in nature, or turn out to be lucky down the line. “It's not that everything brought to light during a full moon is necessarily wonderful in the moment,” says Gailing. “It could be something that you missed or that didn't work out as well as you thought, and the full moon is calling upon you to do a little bit more work.” But eventually, that additional effort could bring something lucky to fruition.
What foods should you avoid during a full moon?
If you find that your sleep is worse during full moons, consider avoiding foods and drinks that’ll hinder your shut-eye, suggests Gailing. That means keeping your consumption of caffeinated beverages like coffees and certain teas to earlier in the day, when they're less likely to impede your ability to fall asleep, and avoiding alcohol, too, which can hinder the quality of your sleep. It's also a good idea to avoid eating a big meal close to your bedtime, which can slow your body's natural production of melatonin, making it harder to drift off.
By contrast, you can also load up on foods and drinks that support good sleep around a full moon, like the sleepy girl mocktail (which contains sleep-inducing tart cherry juice and magnesium), melatonin-rich pistachios and walnuts, and tryptophan-packed turkey, chicken, and chia seeds. 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
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