Full Moon Energy and Practices FAQ – Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Lunar Work

The moon was my portal into witchcraft. Back in the early 90s, when my body began to obviously wax and wane with the monthly cycles, I knew I was syncing with something much bigger than my individual human consciousness. I felt that New Agey sentiment – that I am (and we all are) made of the same stuff as the entire universe – we are stardust. And the moon with it’s seemingly changing faces and moods is our kin.

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We are related to everything in the universe, of course, but the moon is our closest companion and affects life on Earth more tangibly and immediately than the other planets and stars. This makes it (you can use she/he if you like, but it’s the 21st century so we know how problematic pronouns can be) a well-placed partner (not tool) to work with for manifesting the changes we want to see in our lives, and banishing the things we don’t want.

In this post I’m going to answer some of the most common questions I get asked about working with the full moon (and framing it as “working with” can itself be problematic, which I’ll get to) along with the reasoning behind my answers.

I’ve been in conscious relationship with the moon for almost 30 years at this point, so I am confident in the veracity of what I share here, but, as always, your personal relationship and experiences may be different, and that is fine. I will try and get around to addressing questions about the other phases in a separate post – if you have questions please leave them in the comments – but much of it can be extrapolated out from what I share here. It’s more about the way we approach our relationship with the moon than a list of dos and don’ts.

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Q. How long does a full moon last?

A. Technically the moon is full when it is directly opposite the sun. The exact opposition is timed to the second (and will vary depending on your location on Earth). Unless you’re a professional astronomer you’re unlikely to be able to work this out by yourself (there’s complicated math involved) so most people use a moon calendar/ almanac/ phone app to get the exact time.

Q. But why is the exact time important? And, a related query that I see cropping up on witchy facebook groups, the full moon was last night have I left it too late to charge my crystals/ make moon water/ do a ritual? etc.

The answer I often see given is that the full moon phase lasts over three days, so it’s still fine to do those things then. And it is fine. No one is going to die because you charged your crystals under a technically waning moon that still looks full to the naked eye. But the energy has a different quality, and so the charged crystals will have a different tuning/ resonance, than if you had charged them the night before when the moon was still waxing. Which brings us to the next, and most asked question.

Q. How do I work with the energy of the full moon?

A. And, oh my goddess, I could write a whole book in answer to this question (and I might one day). But I will try and keep this blogpost scale.

Setting aside the “work with” for now, what people usually mean when they ask this question is what should I do at the full moon? I get it, witching, especially if you’re solitary, has no definitive set of activities to do at certain times, which for the newcomer is disorientating and sometimes worrying. If you do join a coven this is mitigated somewhat through mentorship, but personally I think that the disorientation and lack of an established set of practices is the perfect (only?) starting point. It forces you to examine your worldview and preconceptions, you have to really dig deep into what you know are truths about the universe and your place in it, you have to decolonise your thinking, hell, you have to think for yourself, and trust yourself and the information you receive from non-mainstream acceptable sources, and you have to do it well because you know it has huge consequences for you and for everyone/thing you love. With power comes responsibility. This is why this path is not for everyone.

All that to say that there is no one answer to how do I work with the energy for the full moon because that depends on who you are and what you are hoping to do. But there are some guidelines (phew) which can help you as you’re figuring it out.

[inserting an apology here in case you came to this post looking for a definitive set of practices and are cross because that’s not what’s here. If it’s any consolation I do have something more akin to that here]

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If you’re witchy by nature then you’ll already be familiar with the moon phases having different energetics. The most commonly known phases are the full and new moon (personally I find the squares/ quarters under-loved, but hey). The new moon and full moon are opposites, the former dark with potential, the latter gloriously in your face. Obviously working with the natural energy of these phases makes more sense than working against it. But what does that mean?

At full moon the energy is hot and outward pushing. It helps to compare it with the same point in the solar cycle – the summer solstice. Everything is awake and pulsing with energy, flowers in full bloom, but not fruiting yet (generally, some fruit comes early like Lady Strawberry), the air is heavy with floral scent. This is why the general advice given for what to do at this time is not to start new things/ cycles (that’s new moon energy) but to give a burst of energy to those projects (fruit) already in motion (flowering). And that is good advice. But you can see how the exact timing of your working/ ritual/ crystal charging adds an important nuance.

If you choose the time leading up to the full moon you get more of that midsummer vibe, if you go afterwards then you’re heading into the waning autumn energy (and have less power to influence the fruit). You choose your timing according to what you want to achieve.

As well as the moon phases there is a system of lunar days, which is far less widely known. Basically, the moon rises and sets at a slightly different time each day throughout the lunar month (new moon to new moon), and each moon rise marks the start of a new lunar day. These lunar days have different energies and potentials, with some being good for some things and bad for others. If you’re into high levels of detail this system may appeal to you (hello Virgo). You can find out more about lunar days here.

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Adding another layer, if you’re into astrology you will be familiar with the zodiac signs. The sign that the full moon is in will (should?) also have a bearing on what you do at this time. The full moon always falls in the sign opposite the sign that the sun currently moves in, which I find charges up that axis across the zodiacal circle, so it adds an extra solar dimension to the energy too. The full moon does have the potential to allow switches to be flipped, directions to be changed, outcomes to be impacted in seemingly incredible ways. This potential is magnified when you can go with the flow of the astrological moment. This can be at a simple level of matching your magic to the “theme” of the zodiac sign e.g. Moon in Pisces, Sun in Virgo, could be a good time to work on fears around your health. If you’re more proficient in astrology you can bring your own birth chart into the picture and use the houses where the moon and sun fall, as well as the signs, to inform your plans. (If you’d like to be more proficient in astrology I have a YouTube series Astrology for Witches).

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Taking things even more niche, the moon also moves through its own circle of lunar mansions each lunation/ moonth/ month (if I’ve lost you, don’t worry – magic still works without impeccable timing – but if you’re still with me yay! this will supercharge your efforts). Similarly to the lunar days (though, sometimes confusingly in contradiction to them) each lunar mansion has its own recommended actions and taboos. For a more comprehensive explanation of this I like Ann Moura’s Mansions of the Moon, but this internet article is good for a shorter take.

Warning – this is a massive rabbit hole, not helped by the fact that there are different astrological systems with their own lunar mansions, which also sometimes correlate, but often don’t. Feel free to dive down there if you have the time and the inclination.

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Q. How do I work with the energy of the full moon?

Yeah, so I realised I’m still answering this question and I’ve already written a post so long not many will get to the end, and has perhaps raised more questions than its answered, so I’ll wrap up with a short consideration of “working with“. It’s a common phrase in the magical community and one that I’ve used a lot myself, but our words are important and their meaning(s) affect our thinking, being and doing.

When we are working with something what is our relationship to that thing? Does it depend on what that thing looks like? Does it depend on whether we see that thing as alive?

I sometimes hear/ read people talking about working with the moon as if it is a tool, something humans can manipulate to accomplish a desired task. This is pretty much the opposite of what is happening when we “work with” the moon (or any other planetary force).

Think of it instead as working with a colleague, a senior colleague, or a well-loved and wise elderly relative (which is the truth of it).

Be appropriately respectful.

Full Aquarius Moon – Connect

The Full Aquarius Moon (August 3rd, 16:59 BST) brings a window of opportunity to connect with like-minded and interesting people. If you’ve been feeling a bit stale in your relationships (and I suspect that is the case for many of us during global restrictions of freedom of movement) what can you do to breathe some fresh air into this part of your life?

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It’s not so much the super deep and meaningful relationships I’m talking about here, it’s more friends/ acquaintances.
I read an interesting article yesterday on the (excellent) Mooncircles.com site by April Elliot Kent entitled “Aquarius Full Moon: Alone, Together” where she talked about this, which really resonated.

“You know when you begin to feel a lack of balance in your life, a paucity of happy, uncomplicated places where you can simply show up, be yourself, and have the sense that you belong there.”

April Elliot Kent

Divination/ Journaling Prompts

*What is the current state of my friendships?
*What do I need to to fulfil my needs in this area?
*How can I protect my need for space?
*How can I foster “happy, uncomplicated places”?

Ritual/ EveryDayMagic/ Spellwork Suggestions

*It’s Full Moon Ritual time!
*Release what is holding you back, perhaps through burning a list of those things and blowing the embers away with the breeze
*Invite what you need, perhaps through creating a charm bag with representations of what you’re looking for and some herbs/ stones to bolster your intent

First Quarter Moon in Scorpio – SWEAT

As the month draws to a close, the moon reaches its first quarter in Scorpio (July 27th, 13:32 BST). With Mars energy already holding sway, I feel like this first quarter, in Mars’s (traditional) home sign, will further fan the fire.

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They say that what we put our attention on grows, well, it is also (more) true that what we put our effort into flourishes. What do you want that you aren’t currently giving enough effort? Put your back into it, at whatever level you can manage. Not all effort is physical.

“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.”
― Helen Keller

Divination/ Journaling Prompts

*What area of my life requires more effort right now?
*How can I best spend my energy?
*How can I work smarter, not harder?
*What is possible for me in this area?

Ritual/ EveryDayMagic/ Spellwork Suggestions

*Effort is not confined to physical work, magical work counts too. Where can you throw some extra magic at a goal?
*Sigil shoaling for tangible short term goals will be effective now
*Support your increased effort by extra care for your physical body, a footbath, an early night. What replenishes you? Do that.

Cancer New Moon – LEAN IN

The new moon in Cancer (July 20th, 18:33 BST) is opposite Saturn in its home sign of Capricorn. It feels like the two grandparents, stern, but ultimately invested in our wellbeing, are watching over us. 

In a year already filled with weirdness, what happens next? Is it possible to bring elements from the past (ours, and from our ancestors) forward, in a healthy way, into the present? Not everything is obsolete, and equally, not everything traditional is useful. Lean in to what works, discriminate wisely. Ask the elders, incarnate or in spirit, for help. 

“The songs of our ancestors are also the songs of our children”
― Philip Carr-Gomm

 

Divination/ Journaling Prompts

*Whose child am I? 
*What are my ancestral blessings?
*What are my ancestral burdens?
*What is the song of my ancestors that I should sing today?

Ritual/ EveryDayMagic/ Spellwork Suggestions

*Spend time with your ancestors, whatever that looks like for you
*Spend time with your ancestors of place, the tree/ mountain/ city/ river spirits who you cohabit with
*Write your epitaph, what is your legacy? This doesn’t need to be morbid. I would love for mine to say “was kind”. 

Third Quarter Aries Moon – INCITE

The Third Quarter Moon (July 13th, 00:29 BST) joins Mars in Aries, squaring off against the sun. The mood is explosive. Something has to move. Stasis is anathema now. 

young woman standing near fire and sea

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Where in your life do you need to take action? What sparks need to fly? Dare to light the match. Begin. 

“These are burning times. And they call for Burning Women. Women embodied in their passion. Woman feeling in their bodies. Creative women. Courageous women. Women who have learned to run on a different power source to the world which is falling into flames around her. She has already disentangled herself from the wreckage of the patriarchal culture, so she will not be dazed, confused and disorientated by the systemic changes happening around her. Centred within herself, receptive to the Earth beyond her, she knows how to cultivate from the ashes, she knows how to find the embers to fuel the new fire.

Burning Women arise.
Our time is now.
Our time has come.”
― Lucy H. Pearce, Burning Woman

 

Divination/ Journaling Prompts

*What fuels my fire?
*What has burned out?
*Show me ways to burn that support my growth (take 3 cards)

Ritual/ EveryDayMagic/ Spellwork Suggestions

*Candle magic
*Fire ritual, burn off old habits, create space for new
*Drink hot and spicy tea, I love a blend of cinnamon and turmeric

 

Full Capricorn Moon & Eclipse – RELEASE

The full Capricorn moon (July 5th, 5:44 BST) is eclipsed, though only a faint shadow of the sun will be visible from the UK. This is a more subtle eclipse, rounding off the Cancer/ Capricorn eclipse cycle of the last 18 months or so.

afterglow art backlit birds

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Eclipse energy is unstable. Better to rest and release expectation than to make and carry out grand plans. Take some time to look within and beneath.

“If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?”
― Jodi Picoult

Divination/ Journaling Prompts

*What do I see in the mirror?
*What don’t I see?
*What lies beneath?

Ritual/ EveryDayMagic/ Spellwork Suggestions

*mirror scrying
*offerings to local spirits, the sun and the moon
*ritual bath – include bay and rosemary for cleansing and protection

First Quarter Moon in Virgo – CORONATION

Venus is invisible, and it may feel right now that all the beauty and goodness is being sucked out of the world. The enormity of the changes ahead has started to sink in. What do we do?

beach wave

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Well, for one, we can focus on our own wellness. What does it mean to be healthy? What does it mean to be strong?

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Divination/ Journaling Prompts

Separate the minors in your deck into the four suits. Ask “how can I best support myself now?” then draw one card for each aspect/ element – mental, spiritual, emotional, physical.
Repeat asking “how can I best support others/ be of service now?”.

Ritual/ EveryDayMagic/ Spellwork Suggestions

*Good old fashioned healthy diet and exercise (whatever that means to you, try not to get snagged in the details/ minutae of diet religion)
*sigil like a mad thing for all kinds of wellness goals: “full health and wellbeing”, “immunity to all disease” that kind of thing

 

Gemini New Moon – CROSSROADS

The big guns (Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto) are all retrograde, but I am hopeful that this Gemini New Moon (May 22nd, 18:39 BST) is the point where in-person communication and interactions become decriminalised. The road ahead is full of twists and turns, but then it always is, we just like to think it’s a linear path with clearly marked junctions where we make choices.

top view photo of roadway

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What is your succour for the (necessarily unknown) path ahead? Gather your resources now.

“Everybody has that point in their life where you hit a crossroads and you’ve had a bunch of bad days and there’s different ways you can deal with it and the way I dealt with it was I just turned completely to music.”
― Taylor Swift

Divination/ Journaling Prompts

*What is behind me?
*What lies close ahead?
*Show me something helpful for the choices I will face

Ritual/ EveryDayMagic/ Spellwork Suggestions

*If you work with a crossroad deity like Hecate, or the devil, go HAM – road openers are also a good shout
*If you have a strong Venus connection you might want to join her on her underworld back and fore journey and find new and old ways to cast off all the trappings to get to the essence of who and what you are
*lean in to those hobbies and creative acts that reveal/ remind you that you have a bright and beautiful soul

 

Third Quarter Moon in Aquarius – MIRROR BUBBLE

Quarter moon energy can be tricky. The moon and sun are squaring off against each other, there is tension, but that also means there is impetus. Given that the moon is in fixed Aquarius (May 14th, 15:03 BST) I think it’s likely that this means some kind of pressure on our worldview. And that is not usually fun.

ball black bubble colorful

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It is easier to believe what we have always believed and seek out sources which confirm those viewpoints, than to confront ourselves with opinions that counter our own. With so much of our lives now online it becomes easier and easier to stay within a mirrored bubble where our version of reality is reflected back to us strengthening our conviction that what we believe is the one and only truth.

“It was a good answer that was made by one who when they showed him hanging in a temple a picture of those who had paid their vows as having escaped shipwreck, and would have him say whether he did not now acknowledge the power of the gods, — ‘Aye,’ asked he again, ‘but where are they painted that were drowned after their vows?’ And such is the way of all superstition, whether in astrology, dreams, omens, divine judgments, or the like; wherein men, having a delight in such vanities, mark the events where they are fulfilled, but where they fail, though this happens much oftener, neglect and pass them by.”
― Francis Bacon

Divination/ Journaling Prompts

*What does the truth of the world look like to me?
*What am I not seeing?

Ritual/ EveryDayMagic/ Spellwork Suggestions

*Personally, I would stay away from spellwork at this time, especially for anything generative. I think it’s likely results will be skewed and there’s a possibility of backfiring.
*Exercises to strengthen and support your middle eye/third eye/ astral vision would be on point and fun. Maybe start here.

 

Scorpio Full Moon – Dreamworks

I always find that when the moon is in Scorpio my dreaming is more lucid and tends to look and feel more like direct messaging/ spirit communication than usual, so I am expecting this Scorpio Full Moon (May 7th, 11:45 BST) to be a powerful one for dreams and receiving messages from beyond the veil. I hope it’s good news.

animal cat face close up feline

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If you’d like to enhance your dreamtime, people have had good results using mugwort tea or sleeping with it under their pillow (I put it in those pretty little bags that jewellery and crystals often come in and tie it tight so it doesn’t go everywhere).

If you’re finding the energy and the situation all a bit much, then regular grounding (bare feet on earth works great) and carrying a stone that feels calming and protective may be helpful. Tourmaline, and other dark stones, are my favourite for this purpose, but you may have something else which works best for you.

These suggestions are mutually inclusive.

“Blessings be on this house,” Granny said, perfunctorily. It was always a good opening remark for a witch. It concentrated people’s minds on what other things might be on this house.”
― Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad

Divination/ Journaling Prompts

I have made a card spread for this full moon based on the imagery of a castle. It felt appropriate with the sun in earthy Taurus and with many of us being confined to our homes and perhaps seeing them in new ways as a safe haven/ fortress or perhaps a prison – or both.

The prompts could also be used for journalling if you do not use cards/ runes etc. Just say/ write :”what is my … ” and put the keyword(s) for each card in the … part of the sentence.

Foundation.jpg

*What is my foundation? This may be what is supporting and sustaining you, or perhaps what is causing you to feel shaky and vulnerable.
*What are my walls? Are they useful fortifying boundaries or seemingly unscalable barriers, or both? What does that mean?
*What is my entrance? Do you have a door that lets you freely come and go (metaphorically and perhaps physically) or is it more of a portcullis that you are not able to open? How does that feel?
*What are my windows? Slits for shooting arrows through or large openings that let the light and world in? How does that feel?
*What is my flag? What message am I sending to others?

I realise that this is a somewhat complex spread that is going to take some nuanced reading of the cards. If you’re a newbie don’t be disheartened if you need to draw a clarifier or two, perhaps with the question “what would help me now?”

Ritual/ EveryDayMagic/ Spellwork Suggestions

*It’s hands dirty time. Plant stuff if you can. Touch and share space with other living things.
*Do you make your own skincare? A cleansing full moon bath soak with essential oils plus a clay-based face mask would be totes approps.
*If you don’t have an ancestor practice, start one. They want to hear from you.