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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Penn chapter.

It’s easy to pay little attention to the moon in our daily lives. Oftentimes, the average person pays no mind to the moon unless it’s full and somebody says, “Look at the moon tonight!” Even then, the moon is nothing but a beautiful sight for a minute or two, and we don’t typically think deeper about the significance of its phases.

Interestingly, the moon phases are actually associated with different spiritual energies with which we can align as a form of self-care. In fact, the moon cycle provides us with a monthly energy routine that we can use to ground ourselves and remind ourselves to live with intention. The lunar cycle is ultimately broken down into four phases.

New Moon

The new moon is the first phase in the moon cycle, and in many ways represents a fresh start. It’s a time for self–reflection and determining your priorities for the month ahead. For this reason, new moons are a powerful time to set intentions and manifest your goals. 

During the 24–hour period of the new moon, self–care activities like journaling or meditating with crystals are extremely helpful in aiding you to visualize your goals and inspiring you to work toward them throughout the month.

Waxing moon

The waxing moon phase takes place after the new moon and leads up to the full moon. It’s a time of action and a time to put energy toward the intentions you set for yourself during the new moon. This is the time of the month when the moon is “growing,” and it’s a reminder for us to tend to our goals and work on our own self–growth. 

Keep in mind that this isn’t meant to become a source of stress, where you should feel obligated to meet your goals within a set period of time. Instead, this phase of the moon cycle should inspire you to set your plans into motion, even if you don’t meet them until far into the future.

full moon

Just as the new moon represents the beginning of a cycle, the full moon represents the end. It’s a time of release and closure. In particular, the full moon provides the chance to reflect on the things in our lives that are no longer serving us—whether it be unhealthy relationships or negative thinking patterns and habits.

During the 24–hour period of the full moon, it’s important to prioritize self–care routines that promote cleansing, such as burning candles or incense, or taking a cleansing bath with flowers, herbs, or body–safe essential oils.

Waning moon

The waning moon phase takes place after the full moon and leads up to the next new moon. It’s ultimately a time to rest and recharge. It’s a great time to celebrate the progress you’ve made during the lunar month and focus on your favorite self–care activities to boost your energy and prepare for the cycle to begin all over again.

Aligning our own lives with the moon phases can help us not only stay attuned to our spiritual energies and their ebbs and flows, but also inspire us to consistently set goals for ourselves and ensure that we follow through. 

If you wish to align yourself with the moon even more strongly, you can create your own personal lunar rituals, such as making moon water on the new and full moons. Moon water is made by setting a (sealed) jar of water outside or in a window on the nights of new and full moons in order to absorb their energies. You can then use the moon water in cleansing baths, to make tea or coffee, or mixed with essential oils to make cleansing home sprays. This creates a tangible way to connect with the moon and bring its energy into your life in more powerful ways.

The next full moon is on November 19th. In addition to the general spiritual meaning of the full moon, each month’s full moon also has its own name and significance. November’s is known as the Beaver Moon, named for the fact that it occurs during the time when beavers begin to take shelter and prepare for the winter. For us, the Beaver Moon can “illuminate the things we need to feel warm, safe, and secure,” and remind us to release anything that prevents us from feeling this way. This year’s Beaver Moon is especially significant, because the longest lunar eclipse of the century will also occur.

November 19th is the perfect time to start aligning your life with the lunar cycle. It may seem counterintuitive to begin doing so with the full moon—which represents the end of a cycle—rather than with the next full moon. However, this will actually allow you to release any negative energy during the full moon and spiritually recharge during the waning moon phase, before preparing for the next new moon. In this way, you will be able to start your first entire moon cycle with a clean slate.

As with anything related to spirituality, connecting with the moon’s energy is meant to be an individualized practice, and this article is meant only to provide you with the background on how to create your own personal rituals. I hope it inspires you to do further research and find what else works for you! Happy full moon!

Emily is currently a Senior at the University of Pennsylvania. She's majoring in Sociology and minoring in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. She loves concerts and crystals, and spends most of her time listening to music or rewatching the same 5 movies she's loved since high school.