Everyone knows that things get a little messy during a full moon. How many times have you been at work or out on a grocery run, and the overall vibes of the space have you saying, what the heck is going on... is there a full moon or something? But hey, it's not all bad. If you’re into astrology, or in tune with your inner witch, you may feel extremely powerful when the moon is high and bright in the sky.

But with a cycle of 29.5 days, and eight unique phases, have you ever stopped to think about how the other phases of the moon may affect you? Like the gorgeously gothic sister and antithesis to the full moon, perhaps? Yeah, I’m talking about the new moon. There’s a lot more to her than you might think.

While the full moon tends to be associated with chaos, the new moon is all about reset, rest, and relaxation. During a full moon, you might want to focus on dispelling negative, stagnant energy in your life. But when a new moon rolls around, you may instead concentrate on manifestation, or bringing all things positive your way. So light a candle, grab your notebook, and throw together your favorite refreshing beverage–it's time to unpack the meaning behind the new moon, and how you can use its energy to live your best life.

Meet the Experts:
Julia Halina Hadas is a witch, cocktail mixologist, and author of The Modern Witchcraft Book of Astrology: Your Complete Guide to Empowering Your Magick With the Energy of the Planets.

Jessica Lanyadoo
is a humanistic astrologer and author of Astrology for Real Relationships: Understanding You, Me, and How We All Get Along.

What is a new moon?

Scientifically speaking, the new moon is when the moon is at a zero-degree alignment with the sun. During this precise timeframe, the moon is not reflecting sunlight and is therefore invisible here on Earth–typically, for a period of three or so days.

From an astrological perspective, the new moon rises and sets with the sun, and therefore “is in the same [zodiac] sign that the sun is in,”explains Julia Halina Hadas, a witch, cocktail mixologist, and author of The Modern Witchcraft Book of Astrology: Your Complete Guide to Empowering Your Magick With the Energy of the Planets.

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This is an exact contrast to the full moon–when the moon finds itself in the opposite sign of the sun.

What happens during a new moon?

“It is the start of a cycle,” explains Jessica Lanyadoo, humanistic astrologer and author of Astrology for Real Relationships: Understanding You, Me, and How We All Get Along. “It is when our feelings (the moon) and our will (the sun) are aligned.”

To make a long story short, the new moon is generally considered a time of reset—a period to both realign and start fresh. And, because the new moon will always be in the same sign as the sun, the general energy in the air will line up with the characteristics of that specific sign.

“It's a great time for manifestation, planting seeds, starting something new, clarifying something for yourself or in a relationship,” Lanyadoo notes.

She stresses, however, that not all new moons are created equal, and not every new moon will impact you in the same wayS. “At the moment that the moon is new, we cast a chart,” she says. “We look not only at the new moon, but all the planets, and what they’re doing with each other and to the moon.”

These conjunctions can drastically change a new moon’s effects. If you want to find out how a specific new moon will impact your life in particular, you’ll want to speak to an astrologer, but you can get a general sense based on the astrological sign a moon is in. Say the new moon is in dreamy, romantic Pisces, for example? Honing in on that sign may impact what you decide to do—or not do during this time. “It becomes a great way to tune into that energy and tune into certain themes in your life,” says Hadas.

How can I harness the power of the new moon?

“Witches will worship the moon in a variety of ways. Some people will focus on rest and relaxation as a reset because from the new moon to the full moon, the moon’s light is going to grow in the sky,” Hadas explains. “People use that growth cycle to bring their intentions and desires into the world—to grow things alongside the growth of the moon.”

How you utilize this reset, however, is up to you. “A lot of people will plant the seeds of intention, using the new moon as a time of inception,” says Hadas. The magic words when it comes to the new moon are meditation and manifestation.

How might you practice meditation and manifestation during this time, exactly? Well, there are more than a few methods. You might choose to take a ritual bath with herbs that represent the zodiac sign that the new moon is in, anoint a candle with oil and light it while envisioning your goals, cleanse your energy or the energy of your space with incense or crystals, make moon water, or practice divination with tarot cards or an oracle deck. You can make this special time as involved or as simple as you’d like.

“I personally will sit down and set my monthly goals,” says Hadas. Try repeating specific affirmations to yourself throughout the day, or sitting down to journal and letting the light of the moon (or rather, lack thereof) pour through your pen and onto the page.

What are the other lunar phases?

Although the new moon and full moon are often considered the most important, powerful phases in the moon cycle, each phase of the moon has its own meaning and energy. The entire cycle lasts about 29.5 days, meaning each phase of the moon is visible for approximately three nights.

moon phases with text
The phases of the moon
Delpixart//Getty Images

Waxing crescent

Visually, the waxing crescent looks like a tiny sliver in the sky just after a new moon. This is a time for growth, setting intentions, and asking yourself what it is you want to bring into your life, says Hadas—it represents “those first steps [of a cycle], a sense of limitless possibility.”

Because the things you wished to reset during the new moon have yet to manifest to their full potential, you might look to the waxing crescent as “a mixing pot where you can still stir things in the direction you want to go–whatever you want to put in your cosmic cauldron,” says Hadas.

First quarter

The first quarter phase is when the moon is 50 percent illuminated. Because of this, the phase is generally looked at as a period of stasis. “[The first quarter moon] can represent a crossroads or a reality check, because it's a halfway point,” says Hadas. “It brings your goals into a point of balance.”

Waxing gibbous

The waxing gibbous is when the results of your manifestation endeavors will begin to appear. Hadas notes, however, that although this phase falls just before the full moon, there is still an opportunity to further refine your goals and put the finishing touches on the plans you've been making throughout the waxing cycle.

Full moon

While the new moon is a time for manifesting, the full moon is a period to focus on releasing what is no longer serving you. That being said, the full moon is also when you may feel the strongest connection to the moon. Therefore, this phase does not only have to be for expelling negative energy but rather, bringing in the positive, explains Hadas. “If you feel powerful because the moon is in her culmination, use it for manifestation,” she says.

Generally speaking, because the waning part of the lunar cycle is when the moon is lessening in light, this is a great time for forgiveness and letting go. “In order to allow things into your life, you have to have space,” says Hadas. “If you don't release, there is no way to achieve your goals.”

Waning gibbous

This phase is all about gratitude. During the waning gibbous, you may choose to share appreciation for the results you've noticed from the previous lunar cycle, says Hadas.

Third quarter

Here, the moon is once again at 50 percent illumination. The third quarter “is where we’re really letting go,” Hadas explains. In contrast to the themes of balance in the first quarter moon, the third quarter is about detaching yourself from the negative to prepare for transformation.

Waning crescent

This is the final phase before the new moon, when the last little sliver of light can be seen in the sky. This phase is about ending and surrendering, says Hadas. “It's like snuffing out a candle. What do you want to release?”

Are there any other important lunar events to know?

Although there are only eight phases of the moon, there are other lunar phenomena—specifically pertaining to the new moon—to keep an eye on. For example, there's the dark moon, notes Hadas. Although this is not a phase all witches, astrologers, or spiritual folks will observe, it is the period when you can't necessarily see the moon in the sky anymore, but it is not yet at that zero-degree alignment associated with the new moon. “Because it's dark and it's that period of being in limbo, it’s great for transformation and shadow work before we rebirth our energy with the new moon,” says Hadas.

A solar eclipse, which occurs around twice a year, can also only take place during a new moon. Both solar and lunar eclipses are incredibly powerful, and often linked to chaos. A new moon during a solar eclipse can therefore create the most dramatic changes in your lunar life throughout the year, notes Hadas.

All in all, the new moon is just another way to connect or reconnect to yourself and discover what it really is you want in life. “Every astrological myth, body, idea has something to offer us either on a magical level or a spiritual and healing level,” Hadas says. “Astrology helps bring in more balance. Wherever you’re at in your life, take a moment to reflect on what themes the energy of a sign offers you that you can tap into.”

When are the new moons of 2023?

January: New Moon in Aquarius – Saturday, January 21

February: New Moon in Pisces – Monday, February 20

March: New Moon in Aries – Tuesday, March 21

April: Total Solar Eclipse in Aries – Wednesday, April 19

May: New Moon in Taurus – Friday, May 19

June: New Moon in Gemini – Saturday, June 17

July: New Moon in Cancer – Monday, July 17

August: New Moon in Leo – Wednesday, August 16

September: New Moon in Virgo – Tuesday, September 14

October: Total Solar Eclipse in Libra – Saturday, October 14

November: New Moon in Scorpio – Monday, November 13

December: New Moon in Sagittarius – Tuesday, December 12

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Aliza Pelto

Aliza Pelto (she/her) is a rurally raised, NYC-based writer, Gemini, and iced coffee enthusiast. Her work has appeared with The National Organization for Women, Alma, and both in print and online at BUST Magazine. When she’s not reading, recording her podcast (Little Sleep//Much Reading), or doing something witchy, you can find her dissociating via TikTok for hours on end.