The new and full moon phases tend to receive all the hype, but the waxing and waning phases have their unique energy and meaning and are just as special. So, how can you work with all four of these phases, celebrate them with ritual, and live and lead in flow with grandmamma moon?
If you’re like me, the moon might be your first foray into witchcraft. She embodies the divine feminine, her cycle mirrors ours, and working with her feels simple and accessible. For years, I have been tuned into the lunar cycle and celebrating with moon rituals, and I love the sense of magic, connection, and sacredness that this has brought to my life. I can’t wait for you to experience it too.
This post will dive deep into the waning moon phase (and its three smaller phases), its spiritual meaning, and some waning moon rituals to try at home.
The 8 phases of the moon
There are eight moon phases over 29ish days, which make up the lunar cycle. The full moon and new moon occur roughly every 14 days and act as anchor points in the cycle.
- New moon
- Waxing crescent
- First quarter
- Waxing gibbous
- Full moon
- Waning gibbous
- Last quarter
- Waning crescent
The 3 main phases of the waning moon are the waning gibbous moon phase, the last quarter moon phase, and the waning crescent moon phase.
Click here to find out when the next waning moon phase is where you live.
What is the symbolic meaning of the waning moon?
The moon cycle (and our menstrual cycle) mirror the life cycle of a plant. There is a time to plant new seeds, for those seeds to sprout and bloom into flowers, a time to prune, and a time when the plant sheds its leaves and maybe even dies. We let the soil rest and replenish before we sow new seeds again.
This is what the waning moon phase is all about—giving yourself that time and space to rest and rejuvenate before you “plant new seeds” again on the new moon. This can be challenging, especially when we’re encouraged to be more in our masculine energy and keep doing and achieving more.
But if we constantly plant new seeds or strive to be in a permanent state of summer where we’re blooming, we will eventually burn out. This is the natural cycle of life. We cannot have summer all year round. All the seasons play their part, and the four main moon phases (new moon, waxing moon, full moon, and waning moon) represent these seasons. The waning moon phase is autumn or fall.
The word “wane” literally means to shrink or get smaller. This refers to the moon’s light gradually fading in the night sky.
Between the full moon and the next new moon, we are invited to slow down, reflect, relax, and move our energy inward again. This is not the right time to start something new but a time to tie up loose ends and begin to recharge. Practice self-care, carve out more alone time, journal, surrender, take a breath, and focus on being rather than doing.
Waning gibbous moon phase meaning
Also known as: The disseminating moon phase
Keywords: Release, receive, appreciate, abundance
Related sabbat: Lughnasadh
Now is the time for deep soul work and to address anything holding you back from manifesting your moon intentions. A limiting belief, a toxic relationship, negative thoughts, fear, self-sabotage, or something else.
Take some time during the waning gibbous moon phase to pause and bring awareness to your unique challenges. Practice radical candidness with yourself. In time, you will uncover your roadblocks. Only once we know what’s holding us back can we work through it, release it, and move forward.
Last quarter moon phase meaning
Also known as: The third quarter or waning half-moon phase
Keywords: Make space, set boundaries, breathe
Related sabbat: Mabon
The moon wanes a little more, and this is when you’ll really start to feel the nudge to conserve your energy and return inwards. Create space in your days to sit in stillness and seek intuition, higher wisdom, and soul messages from within.
Whatever you released during the previous phase has made space in your life for the new to flow in. Now is the time to open yourself to the possibility of that newness ahead of the new moon cycle.
Waning crescent moon phase meaning
Also known as: The balsamic moon phase
Keywords: Recuperate, self-care, recharge, surrender, reflect
Related sabbat: Samhain
The waning crescent moon is the final phase of the moon cycle, which will be followed in a couple of days by the dark moon, then a new moon.
Your physical energy will be at an all-time low right now, so honor this. Slow down wherever you can, carve out moments of rest, and practice plenty of self-care.
Now is also the perfect time to reflect on this moon cycle. What have you learned, how have you grown, what are you grateful for, and where can you show up for yourself more in the coming moons?
9 Waning moon rituals to try at home
You can do all of these things or just one of these things in your waning moon ritual. Cherry-pick what you like, what you’re drawn to, or perhaps what you feel the most resistance to, and leave the rest.
The last thing you want during the waning moon phase is to try and do too much and feel overwhelmed! Space things out over the waning moon phase to make it more accessible and easier to fit into your schedule.
At the start of any ritual (moon ritual or not), take some time to create a sacred space. Gather your tools (your wand, crystals, herbs, essential oils, tarot cards, magical objects, etc.), set them up on your altar (if you have one), and light a candle.
Cleanse your space by burning some herbs or putting a diffuser on (we’ll go into this in more detail later). Find some stillness, drop in, take a few breaths, and now you’re ready to begin.
Waning moon ritual #1: Tie up loose ends
Check in with the intentions you set on the new moon, and acknowledge how far you’ve come. What do you want to complete before the next new moon? What is calling for your attention?
Remember, we cannot do it all, so choose wisely, and don’t over-exert yourself.
Some intentions and projects will take many moons to complete, so don’t try and pull a series of all-nighters just so you can squeeze something into this moon. Be realistic and honor the call to slow down and surrender during the waning moon phase.
Block some time in your calendar to complete whatever feels most important before the new moon.
Waning moon ritual #2: Cleanse your space
I like to cleanse my space as part of any ritual or before I do any spellwork. But the waning moon phase is a time to release and cleanse what we no longer need or want. So you can make cleansing a bigger part of your waning moon ritual. Think of it like a Spring clean, except in terms of the moon cycle, we’re in autumn!
When I talk about cleansing, I mean physically and energetically.
Whether deep cleaning your home, donating old clothes, or re-jigging your workspace, get rid of anything you don’t need or want so that new energy can flow in.
If you have a special witch’s broom, spread salt (for hard floors) or baking soda (for carpet) around your house and give the floors a good sweep.
Cleanse the energy in your home by burning your favorite herbs, adding a few drops of essential oils to a diffuser, or using a room spray. Remember to open your windows and doors to let the negative energy out!
Waning moon ritual #3: Reflect
The waning moon phase is a wonderful time to reflect on all that has happened since the new moon, as well as anything lingering in your subconscious or on your mind for a while.
Light a white candle (to symbolize peace and truth). Close your eyes and drop into your heart and womb space.
Here are some questions to ponder on:
- What have I manifested since the new moon?
- What is working, and what feels good in my life?
- What challenges arose, and what did I learn?
- What feels out of alignment with my highest self?
- What do I want to keep or grow into the next cycle?
- Did any messages flow to me, or did I notice any synchronicities?
Waning moon ritual #4: Meet your inner wild woman
You might notice you’re more emotional during the waning moon phase because the waning moon is linked to the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (when many of us experience PMS) and the wild woman archetype.
She stirs up all our shit and challenges us to confront everything that lies dormant in our subconscious. Do not fear whatever lurks in your shadows. Face it, sit with it, and accept it—this is the only way to heal and move forward.
Waning moon ritual #5: Release
After reflection comes release. Now that you’re clear on what you want to let go of, it’s time to let go.
Light a black candle (to absorb negative or stagnant energy, thoughts, or emotions and offer protection). You might want to write down whatever it is you wish to release on a piece of paper and then burn it using the candle flame to symbolize letting go.
Humans tend to cling to what’s familiar and comfortable, even if it’s not making us happy. But when we find the courage to release what no longer serves the highest evolution of our soul, it’s wildly liberating. It can feel like a true weight has been lifted off you.
You may find a storm of emotions stirring and rising within you as you go through the process of releasing. This is natural. Let the tears flow—this is how our bodies release.
Waning moon ritual #6: Enjoy a releasing waning moon bath ritual
I love running myself a blissful bath on the new moon, full moon, or anytime I want to relax or indulge in some self-care. Baths are good any time of the moon cycle, and the waning moon is the perfect time to up your self-care game, so why not enjoy a bath ritual?
It’s easy to ritualize a regular bath. Clean your tub and the space around it. Choose from simple additions like a candle (or as many as you like—the more, the better IMO!), a couple of drops of essential oils, a DIY bath tea, some herbs or flowers (fresh or dried), and maybe even some sliced fruits (citrus work really well), salts, coconut oil or milk powder, ground oats, honey, and a crystal of your choice.
I like to pop on a spa-like playlist on Spotify, have it playing softly in the background, and have my robe and slippers ready to pop into afterward.
Remember, you don’t need any of these things, so don’t feel you have to rush out and drop a ton of cash.
Sit and relax in the tub for as long as it feels good. You could even do your reflection and release ritual while in the water. The element of water is perfect for washing things away, rejuvenating, and preparing ourselves for the new. Plus, it always feels incredibly nourishing and healing.
Waning moon ritual #7: Set boundaries and honor them
Because the waning moon is a time to journey inward, practice more self-care, and slow down, you may find your desire to do this creates friction with certain people in your world. Sometimes we end up in friendships and relationships and even have family who takes more than they give and only love us if we do what they want us to do. And the people-pleaser within us will bend and break to cater to their whims.
One of the most beautiful things you can do for yourself is to set boundaries with people in your life. Make yourself a priority, and don’t be afraid to say “no,” even if it means disappointing someone. True friends will understand and stick around.
Waning moon ritual #8: Immerse yourself in dreamwork
Just like the divine feminine, the moon is a bridge between the seen and unseen world and shines her light on our shadows, our subconscious, and our dreams. Because the waning moon phase nudges us to turn inward and reflect, it’s also a wonderful time to tap into your womb wisdom through the messages and symbols that come to you in your dreams.
If you don’t have one, now is an opportune time to start a dream journal. Keep it on your bedside table so you can jot anything down when you wake up in the middle of the night or the following morning. I quickly forget my dreams, so I have to instantly write them down; otherwise, they’re usually lost forever!
You can then research what particular themes and images represent and see if any recurring patterns are emerging.
Waning moon ritual #9: Create space
The final waning moon ritual I’d like to offer you is a simple one. Create space in your days (physically and emotionally), so your body and mind can rest. The more you relax during this moon phase, the more prepared and energized you’ll be once the waxing moon rolls around.
That could mean blocking an hour of “me time” into your day, breaking up your routine with a tea ritual, or listening to a sound bath meditation before you drift off to sleep.
How will you celebrate the waning moon phase with ritual?
What else do you love to do during the waxing moon phase? Are there any special rituals that you swear by each moon? Share them with us in the comments below!