There are a few reasons the moon phase is important—some of which is practical and some spiritual. The moon has been worshipped by civilizations all over the world and in every era. Even today, there are religions whose practice centers around the phases of the moon. This is because the moon has an effect on our lives all the time, even when we can’t see it.
So, what moon phase are we in?
To understand how to read a lunar or moon phase calendar, there are a few things to know about the moon, its relation to the sun and Earth, and why it is important to know the moon phase.
What is a Moon Phase?
As the moon orbits the Earth, sunlight reflects from its surface, giving it the moon its gorgeous glow. When the moon is between us and the sun, we can’t see it at all because the sunlight is reflected from the side of the moon facing away from the Earth. When the Earth is between the moon and the sun, we see all of the reflected light.
The moon phases represent the amount of light that is reflected back to Earth. The moon is new when the light is reflected away from the Earth, waxing as more light is reflected, full when we can see all of it, and waning as it works its way back to new.
Reading the Moon Phase Calendar
Knowing the phases of the moon is the key to reading a moon phase calendar. The months are usually listed at one end, and the days are marked by images of the moon in the phase corresponding to the date. Most lunar calendars consider each day individually. Because there are 28-31 days each month, the lunar calendar is usually printed on longer paper than the solar one.
Full, new or half moons are the ones that are the most important to religions. Some professions or hobbies rely on weather or tidal patterns. In both cases, knowing the phase of the moon can make a huge difference in your plans.
Religions That Use a Moon Phase Calendar
Some modern religions use the moon phase, or lunar, calendar to determine holidays and observances. The most well-known example is Islam, but they are not alone. Orthodox Christianity also uses a lunar calendar, which tells the clergy when Easter should be celebrated and plans the holidays that lead up to Easter. Even the Jewish calendar takes the moon into account, beginning their months as soon as the new moon ends.
Natural Effects of Moon Phases
The most significant effect the moon has on the Earth is the tide. Since the moon is so close to the Earth, it creates a gravitational pull on whichever side it is closest to. This causes the water on the Earth to also be pulled toward the moon, resulting in high and low tide (if the moon were closer to the Earth, our gravity would pulverize it and we’d end up with a ring, like Saturn!).
The intensity of the tide also depends on the moon lining up with the Sun, which occurs during the new and full phases. Knowing when the tides are at their peak, flowing, or receding is important to anyone who lives near or works with the sea.The tides can affect everything from whether a day at the beach to the shipping and trade of nations, and knowing what phase the Moon is in can help make predictions that affect these activities.
Moon phase calendars may seem a bit confusing at first. However, now that you have a better understanding of the moon’s phases (and can even figure out today’s moon phase in a pinch!), it’s easier than ever to predict the next moon phase. No matter the moon phase’s impact , knowing how to read a moon phase calendar will deepen your connection to the lunar cycle!