Astrology is one of those studies that is never-ending. Just as you think you’ve mastered it, something new (at least to you) crops up to study. I felt that way many years ago when I first heard Jeffrey Green lecture about the phases of the Sun and Moon. Then I found out those phases could be applied to ANY pair of planets, explained beautifully by Marc Robertson in his book, “The Engine of Destiny.” THEN, most recently, I bought a book by Raven Kaldera entitled “Moon Phase Astrology” in which he takes it a step farther and interprets these combining the phase with the Moon in each SIGN.
This short article is just an overview of the eight phases to get people started in pursuing it further. The eight phases each comprise 45 degrees and are: New, Crescent, First Quarter, Gibbous, Full, Disseminating, Third Quarter, and Balsamic. One way to remember *generally* what they mean is to equate them with signs…in order. New phase for thirty degrees is similar to Aries, but the last 15 degrees of that phase takes on a Taurus quality also present in the first 15 degrees of the Crescent phase. The last 30 degrees of that phase is similar to Gemini….and so on around the wheel...but just *generally;* the phase overrides the generic meaning of the sign we equate with a phase; however, a planet will be occupying a sign—usually different—within a phase, and that will be equally important.
Within each phase there are aspects between the two planets in phase relationship that are possible, which is also the source of a shift in behavior. For instance, the conjunction at the beginning of the New Phase gives way to a semi-sextile after 30 degrees of separation, and then a semi-square at the point where it enters the next phase. The interpretation of the phase then takes on the quality of the aspect.
The First Phase is called “New” and it starts with the conjunction of two planets, or for our purposes here, the Sun and Moon—a New Moon. The faster body then pulls away from the slower one (in this case, the Moon pulls away from the Sun) and moves to form a semi-square to the Sun as it enters the Crescent Phase. New is about energy, new life, impulsiveness, action. No matter what signs they are in, the planets (or lights in this case) will behave to some degree in that manner. The rest of the chart has to be taken into consideration.
The Crescent Phase I like to think of as a large oak tree staying in one place but observing all around it. However, the function of this should be “breaking away” to be on one’s own. Too often, the difficulty of this is getting momentum. It’s rather harmonious. The sextile and quintile are within this phase.
First Quarter Phase comes at the waxing square between the two bodies. This is the most rebellious of all and no matter what signs the planets (or lights) are in, the person usually has an urge to disagree before agreeing. It’s a kind of adolescent energy (“Don’t tell ME what to do!”) But, within it is a trine, and once the degrees of separation reach that, it is usually more “talk” of rebellion rather than “action.”
The Gibbous Phase is comprised of late Leo and Virgo energies. There is a love of analysis, usefulness, and duty—but frustration when falling short of the “ideal.” [btw, my natal Moon IS in Virgo AND the Gibbous Phase, so I’ve had to work on a SUPER critical streak and desire for perfection all my life. However, I also have Venus and Jupiter in Pisces and THEY are in Balsamic Phase….more Pisces. So you can see the conflict.] Within this phase is the sesquiquadrate (135 degrees), the bi-quintile (144 degrees, and if the two bodies in question actually are making this aspect, there is great talent) and the Quincunx (150 degrees).
The Full Phase has qualities of Libra and part of Scorpio which gives us the clue that it is about partnership. Two planets, no matter what signs they’re in, that are in Full Phase, will have an undercurrent “people pleasing” quality. After the opposition aspect at its beginning, the aspects begin to repeat in reverse order in waning phase, but there is more maturity in expressing them.
The Disseminating Phase could be called “the teacher.” The soul has a desire to share what it has learned and wants to “disseminate” its knowledge. Even though it ends at the waning square, that is really the beginning of the next phase; it is not an aggressive phase. The entire cycle is one of maturation. We are constantly moving in experience from one phase to the other by way of the Progressed Moon and other progressions/solar arcs/transits, so at this point, one feels that s/he can put into action all that has been accumulated in experience.
The Third Quarter Phase brings in internal challenges to use what one has learned. Rebellion might flare up, but it’s handled maturely with an eye on further enlightenment.
The Balsamic Phase is the last one and equates to the second half of Aquarius and all of Pisces. There is reflection and assimilation of all one has learned through the cycle. Many people withdraw to reflect and prepare for the new cycle ahead. People born with planets in this phase have many Piscean qualities regardless of the signs the planets occupy.
This is the briefest of overviews. Buz Myers held an annual conference (still going on although he passed on over a decade ago) that emphasized this cycle. He wrote a book about it and so did Dane Rudhyar (“The Lunation Cycle” I think is the title). Buz had some interesting twists on this topic.