Basic Moon Phases for Tarot Reading
Keys to support your readings and where to learn more
Firstly, I’m a trained Tarot advisor, and simply a student of astrology (read: not an astrologer), so please check out my references and resources at the bottom of this page. Moon phases are an important component of why we feel the emotions we do at certain times. They add depth to our Tarot readings by unlocking our understanding of ourselves in the natural cycles of life.
Do you ever feel anxious about time rushing past you? Worried that there aren’t enough days in the week? Following the moon phases is the perfect meaningful way to mark the passage of time. As in all things, I recommend starting small and keeping it simple–if you only track one lunar phase, consider following the dates of the full moon. The full moon is a time of high energy and high emotions, so while you may get a lot done, it’s also helpful to be aware that you may feel more strongly than at other times of the month.
Following the moon phases, many of us notice that we feel more energetic with more intense emotions around the time of the full moon. Then around the new moon, we may feel less energetic and want to spend more time staying in and catching up on sleep. Read on for an easy moon phase primer and an introduction to moon signs. Be sure to use the links included for more detailed, accurate explanations of each topic.
Understanding the (Very) Basics of the Moon Phases
As you see in the image below, there are 8 to 9 recognized moon phases, as some astrologers add the dark moon phase just before the new moon. Don’t fret over needing to learn all of them, though. Below, I’ll break it down into the two main phases, the new moon and full moon, and share the two words we use to describe the moon’s appearance in between. Notice that in the bottom half, from left to right the moon appears larger. Then from right to left across the top, the moon appears smaller gradually.
Waxing and Waning
Here’s how we simplify the moon phases. After the new moon, the waxing moon will gradually appear larger for 2 weeks until the full moon (bottom half of the image above). Following the full moon, the waning moon will gradually appear smaller for approximately 2 more weeks until the next new moon (top half of the Moon Phases image above).
This is a dorky Victorian-ish example, but it helps me remember the meanings: As he waxed poetic about his affections, her interested waned till she could hardly keep herself from yawning.
New moon –> waxes larger for 2 weeks –> full moon –> wanes smaller for 2 weeks –> next new moon.
Find Tarot spreads for the new and full moons in the resources below.
Many people are familiar with their sun sign, also known as their astrological sign. It’s the sign the sun was on the day of their birth. In astrology, the sun is considered to “be in” or “go through” each sign for about a month (sometimes called “seasons”, ex. Leo season is July 23rd to August 22nd in Western astrology).
Just like the sun goes through each sign for about a month, the moon goes through the signs a few days at a time. (And yes, this means we each have a moon sign.) So, the moon changes signs much more often than the sun does. Layering the astrological sign the moon is currently in provides you with even more insight than just knowing the current sun sign. Naturally, Tarot readings based on the full moon’s current sign are perfect for learning which challenges and opportunities you may face in the next few weeks.
This information initially appeared in the blog posts Eclipsing the Burnout and Full Moon in Gemini Tarot Spreads. I’ve compiled it here for Tarot readers and the Tarot-curious to grasp some of the basic concepts of lunar phases as applied to the Tarot.
Top Free Resources for Working with the Moon
“A Baker’s Dozen of Full Moons ~ 2020 – 2021 ~ Adjustable Full Moon Dates & Information”. Moon Tracks Astrology Calendars. Full Moon dates, times adjustable by time zone, names, and signs in which each occurs.
Check your local current moon phase and the next New and Full Moon dates at timeanddate.com.
Keep it simple with Biddy Tarot’s New and Full Moon Spreads and Visualizations you can reuse every month – A 6-card spread and guided audio meditation for each phase in a fillable PDF.
2021 Tarot by the Moon by Ethony* – Free guide to 24 New and Full Moon Tarot spreads organized by date.