I’ve never been keen on astrology. I never knew what a moon sign was before people started asking me about mine on tumblr. Ironically, my Catholic parents are more into it than I am and they often send me horoscopes.
Even so, I incorporate the moon phases into my practice. New moons and full moons are common spell days for me. Even if people don’t practice magic, many like to do something to honor these days, such as taking a bath during the full moon.
When I journal about the moon phases, I often run into blogs that go incredibly in-depth into astrology. Not just what sign we’re in, but where Pluto is, and how close Saturn has come, and which constellation is influencing the season. There is nothing wrong with this practice; plenty of magicians adore complex astrology. It’s just not my cup of tea.
So this post is for people who are not super interested in astrology. You can use the moon phases to your advantage without memorizing the correspondences of each planet. Even if you only work with full moons once in a while, you might benefit from these tips. And since the October full moon lands on the 20th, this is the perfect time to start planning.
What Do People Do during Each Moon Phase?
Before we dive into the tips, let’s discuss what each moon phase means. To be clear, the moon isn’t physically changing; its position to the sun changes, which is what makes it look different from Earth. Most of astrology is based on how planets and natural satellites appear to us. For example, retrogrades occur when a planet appears to move backwards, due to an illusion.
The moon is associated with the subconscious and magic almost universally across folklore. It illuminates aspects of ourselves that we might not otherwise pay attention to. Like the tide, energies ebb and wane with the moon, which is why many people cast spells during certain phases.
I have a moon phase mini-zine with bullet point correspondences for each phase. But here is a more in-depth version of that.
DISCLAIMER: Since this is directed toward people who are not super into astrology, I will not be going into crescent, quarter, and gibbous phases. I don’t personally follow those, and they can get a little too complicated for some people. However, I will discuss waxing and waning phases.
The new moon occurs when the moon looks black or invisible. Many consider this to be the start of the moon phase.
Because of this, new moons are associated with beginnings. If you want to change an aspect of your life, such as wake up earlier or eat healthier, the new moon might be a great time to start.
Magic-wise, new moons will amplify any spell that puts projects in motion. Money and job spells fit well here. So do rituals that will enhance your psychic abilities. For spirit workers, this is the ideal time for banishings and divination.
If you have a long-term spell that you cast over time--for example, one where you have to light a candle every day for a week--perform it on the new moon. It will grow in power with the moon phases.
Remember what I said about the moon and our subconscious? Despite having little light, the new moon illuminates the “darker” aspects of our subconscious, such as emotions and biases that we otherwise do not face. You might want to practice shadow work or journal.
The waxing moon looks like the moon is “growing.” It develops from a new moon into a full moon. When the moon looks like a crescent, it’s called waxing crescent; when it passes the halfway point, it’s waxing gibbous.
The waxing moon expands whatever you started during the new moon. During this stage, many people work on self-improvement, whether that be a work project or a personal goal or passion.
If you casted a long-term spell on the new moon, it will usually finish during the waxing or full moon. Otherwise, money and attraction spells will gain power here.
For spirit workers, you might want to practice your psychic abilities during this period.
The full moon is famous for helping any spell. Why? Because the moon is at full power, which means that many other energies get amplified. Spirits become more active during this period, and your intuition might sharpen.
Full moons are perfect for single-night spells. You can do anything from protection to love spells to cleansing. Personally, I tend to get a lot of success in spirit work and divination during a full moon.
Another aspect of the full moon that many people forget about is self-care. Because the moon is sending you power, this is the perfect time to recharge. Bath and shower spells are especially popular during full moons, or you can relax with an old-fashioned Netflix binge.
If the waxing moon is “growing,” then the waning moon is “shrinking.’ The moon’s power is ebbing during a waning moon, especially the last quarter moon (when it’s half full).
This is the time to cool down from all the magic you might have done during the new and full moons. Waning moons usually occur at the end of the moon, when many students and employees feel exhausted.
I view the waning moon as a spiritual cleaning time. Cleansing, meditating, and other stress-lowering practices can recharge you. Work on removing anything that isn’t helping you, whether it’s an emotion, a habit, or even clutter around your home.
If you have long-term spells that are still going during this period, bring them to a close before the new moon.
Tips to Make the Moon Phases Simpler
This might seem like a lot of information because it is. But I have some tips to make the moon phases feel a lot less overwhelming.
Plan what to do beforehand. For the new and full moons, try to research them beforehand. I usually write about them in my prayer journal a few days before. This time, I started a week before to provide an example for this blog post.
Use this as a brainstorming period. What kind of spells work best during this period? Do you want to cast a spell here, or would you rather practice self-care or do something simpler like make moon water?
Remember that you have wiggle room. Because moon phases change slowly, the full and new moons continue for two to three days. If you forgot about the full moon until the last minute (we’ve all been there), relax--you have time.
Don’t feel pressured to perform rituals at night. Many people cast their spells at night when they can see the moon phase. While this does feel magical, you do not have to practice at 10 p.m. The moon will still be full even if you cast a spell during the day. Personally, I tend to practice magic in the mornings because I’m not a night person.
Look up the full moon’s name. Every month, the full moon has a different name and meaning. Most have multiple names. This October, the upcoming full moon on October 20th is called the Hunter’s Moon, Blue Moon, Dying Grass Moon, and Sanguine Moon.
All of these names came from somewhere. If you understand the meaning behind the name, then you’ll get a better idea of what to do on the day.
If you want to, look up the current astrological season. The current astrological season (for example, we’re in Libra right now) can supply some information about the full moon. You do not have to be an astrology expert to gain information from what is currently happening in the stars.
Are there any retrogrades going on? Any planets you like to focus on? If you want to dive a bit deeper, do so. Everyone approaches astrology differently.
You do not need to work during every moon phase. Did you miss this month’s new moon? Don’t worry about it. You are not a failure if you miss a moon phase or choose not to practice magic on these days. Everyone needs a break, and sometimes life gets in the way.
Although moon phases play a significant role in peoples’ crafts, they are not a requirement. You do not need to follow the moon phases to practice magic. You also do not need to be an astrology expert.
Everyone’s craft is different. If you’re not interested in casting a spell during the day of Mars in the hour of Saturn, don’t. Your spiritual practice should be fun and rewarding. Work to make it that way!
“Types of Witchcraft” lists are one of the most popular witchy articles online. I can see why; many magicians who are just starting out want to learn what to study. Many more benefit from having some type of label.
My issue with these lists is not that they exist--it’s that they are always incomplete. In this post, I’ll explain the most popular controversies with these lists, and how new practitioners can approach them.
This might seem like a long list, but read between the lines. Why is sea witch mentioned but fire and other elements are not? Why is spirit work not mentioned? Hedge magic and divination are methods of spirit work, but spirit work overall seems to have been ignored.
There are also a lot of vague terms on these lists that I don’t understand. Hereditary witch makes sense I guess, but it does not clarify what they practice. It only says that they were taught by a family member, so it’s strange that that is on most lists. I’ve also seen vapid terms like “basic witch” (what does that even mean?)
The most comprehensive list I’ve found is this one on tumblr, which includes 99 types of witchcraft. And I’m sure that some magicians still didn’t find their practice on the list.
So why are these lists so popular, and how did so many types of witchcraft come to be? That’s what I want to explore in this blog post.
The Origin of Witchcraft “Types”
Later, these two words split and began to mean different things. Witchcraft became a secular (albeit still spiritual) practice that many people in Europe and America used to describe any type of magic. This is not true, by the way; magical practices like alchemy, chaos magic, and Hoodoo are not witchcraft. My own magic teacher absolutely refused to call herself a witch!
Despite this, practitioners wanted a way to distinguish their crafts from one another. The earliest form of this I could find is the division between white and black witchcraft/magic. Although these terms have been thrown around for centuries, they skyrocketed in popularity during the ‘80s and ‘90s. Witchcraft authors pushed the term “white witch” to prove that they weren’t evil.
Many people in the community, including myself, do not like these terms because of the obvious racial implications and inherent “we’re better than other practitioners” mentality. So we got more specific. Kitchen and green witchcraft quickly became mainstream. These focused on herbs and plants and had a lot of historical backing due to folk magic and ancient herbal medicine.
With the rise of the internet, people have had an easier time coining terms for their crafts. If they didn’t find a label they liked, they made one themselves. Urban witchcraft, tech witchcraft, pop culture witchcraft, and so on. Personally, I didn’t find the phrase death witchcraft until 2015, and few people were using it.
Controversies with Witchcraft Types
As you might imagine, not everyone in the occult community likes these terms. Specifically, most people in traditional and ceremonial magic communities will not use these labels. Many have brought up valid arguments against these terms that I want to discuss.
Their main argument is that people don’t need a label to practice magic. More accurately, opposers say that new practitioners waste too much time looking for a label when they could just start studying.
This I agree with. Nobody needs a label to practice magic, and newbies should not feel pressured to pick a witchcraft type just to start. However, many people benefit from a label. We want to clarify what we focus on in our craft, and plenty of people feel proud of their witchcraft type.
The other argument is one I’m less keen on. Many claim that witchcraft types “put people in a box.” In other words, if someone pursues sea witchcraft, then they will automatically miss out on other types of magic (like spirit work, divination, etc.) in the process.
This argument makes sense on paper, but not in practice. In my 13 years of practicing, I have never met anyone who clings to one type of magic. Studying magic automatically leads you to different fields. Green witches often end up researching animism and spirit work. Cosmic witches frequently encounter alchemy, which also relies heavily on planetary associations. Crystal magic has deep roots in divination, which guides crystal witches to spirit or deity work.
When I meet someone who says that they’re a water witch, I assume that water magic is their main focus. I do not assume that they only work with water and also, fuck candles.
That said, I believe peoples’ main concern is for beginners. Many worry that beginners will feel limited or pressured to research only one type of witchcraft. This is what I want to address next.
So What Is the Solution?
Do magicians need to be a “type of witch?”
That said, if they want a label to describe their craft, they can use one. You can even use multiple. I’ve met people who practice multiple types.
Are these terms inherently negative?
No. But people can approach these terms in a self-sabotaging way, specifically by limiting their Craft through labels.
How should new practitioners approach these terms?
View them as options. Read them as inspiration. Remember that you do not have to be a “type” of witch. In fact, you don’t have to be a witch at all.
If you want to practice magic, write down a list of topics you want to explore. Are you interested in spirit work? Ancestors? Which element fascinates you the most? Have you always been fascinated in herbal remedies, crystals, or tarot? Do you want to research magic associated with your culture or heritage?
The more you research, the more you’ll learn what you enjoy. After a while, you can take on a label if you want to.
What do you think about witchcraft type lists? Do you like or dislike these terms? Let me know in the comments below!