What is the Dark Moon? (Meaning + Rituals for 2024)

Hand reaching up holding the dark Moon with meaning and mystery text

The dark moon is an often neglected (but OH SO important) phase of the lunar cycle. Sitting between the waning crescent Moon phase, and the new Moon, the Dark Moon phase isn’t quite either of these, despite often being bundled in together with them.

Astrologers sometimes refer to the dark Moon as the “balsamic phase”, which is actually just another name for the waning crescent phase – so she’s not that either.

Are you beginning to see how the dark Moon defies easy categorization?!

This is the first clue we have to her nature. Because at this very last phase, the dark Mistress of the Moon holds a quality different from any other. One that’s unique, mysterious, and exceptionally powerful…

woman holding a dark Moon

What is the dark Moon phase?

The dark moon phase is when the Moon is not visible in the night sky. It occurs between the new Moon and first quarter Moon phases, when the side of the Moon facing Earth is completely in shadow.

During this phase, la Luna is traveling in her orbit on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun, meaning sunlight is not reaching the lunar surface.

It lasts for about 2-3 days each lunar cycle.

You may have read that the dark moon is the same as the waning crescent Moon or even the new Moon. But this isn’t quite true, as they’re actually separate phases entirely.

The Ancient Greeks knew this, as did the Babylonians. They had a system of dividing the lunar cycle into not only 3, 4 or 8 phases like we do, but into 30 segments!

For these ancient cultures, the dark Moon phase was the very last segment, the last moment when the Moon was invisible – when she had moved beyond her waning crescent, but had not yet become a new Moon. This way of thinking about it makes a lot of sense.

How often does a dark Moon happen?

The dark moon phase occurs approximately every 29.5 days, which is the average length of a lunar month. Since there are between 12 and 13 lunar cycles in a calendar year, the dark moon phase happens 12 or 13 times per year.

Dark Moons happen 2-3 days before the new Moon phase, which is when the Moon rises with the Sun. She is present in the sky during the day, which is why you can’t see her.

So a dark Moon rises just minutes before sunrise.

You can keep track with a lunar calendar, and I’d recommend this as because she is invisible to the naked eye, she’s easy to miss and therefore forget about. 

What is a black Moon?

A Black Moon is the second new moon that occurs in a single calendar month. Due to the fact that the lunar cycle isn’t exactly 30 days, most calendar months only have one new Moon.

However, around every 2.5 years, we have two new Moons falling in in the same month, making it quite a rare occurrence. The second new moon of the month is then referred to as a black Moon.

Another use of the term Black Moon refers to the third new Moon in a season that ordinarily has four new Moons. A season lasts approximately three months, so usually has three new Moons.

A black Moon is the conterpart to a blue Moon, which refers to the second full Moon in a calendar Month. This colourful description originates from the Farmer’s almanac.

When is the next black Moon?

The next back moon will occur on Tuesday, August 31, 2027, at 17:40 UTC

This black Moon will occur at 8º of Virgo.

What is Dark Moon vs New Moon energy?

The difference between dark Moon energy and new Moon energy is subtle, but important. Dark Moons are associated with deep introspection and connecting to the depths of the void. It’s a time for inner work and self-inquiry without external distractions. New moon energy is about fresh starts, intentions, and setting goals. It’s when we set seeds for what we want to cultivate over the coming lunar cycle.

Both phases offer opportunities for reflection, but the dark moon focuses more inward, and has no directional influence.

woman embodying the witch archetype

What is the meaning of the dark Moon?

The dark moon offers a portal into the void space that sits between all things. With no lunar light illuminating the night sky, it mirrors the profound depth that exists within all of us, the empty space of potential, from which creativity and rebirth emerge.

Think for a moment about the nature of a cycle.

There is movement from creation (or birth) to growth, to some kind of peak. Then dissemination and decay come next, leading to death (actual, metaphorical or ego death). Then the cycle begins again, as the ending time leads to re-birth, and the flow continues.

BUT what happens in those moments between death and re-birth?

What is the mysterious process occurring there?

What IS that space?

That space is the Dark Moon phase.

It’s a place of mysterious, transformational, and regenerative energy. It’s beyond death… and before birth. The dark Moon phase is liminal, other, unknown, and unknowable. But it’s there. We know it’s there because the cycle continues….

By sitting with the dark Moon, we are able to access deeper levels of intuition, unconscious material, and potential. This potent lunar phase acts as a gateway to explore the unknown depths of our psyche and soul, and potentially encounter aspects that need acknowledgment and integration before the next cycle of growth.

Facing the darkness of this liminal phase readies us for future illumination.

Death leads to rebirth. 

Dark feminine woman with black paint on her fingers

What’s the spiritual meaning of the dark Moon?

Spiritually the dark Moon represents the void and transformation. It’s the space between death and birth, but it’s neither. It’s the unknown and the unknowable.

The spiritual meaning of the dark Moon phase is closely related to the energy of the dark Feminine.

This raw feminine force lives inside the dark Moon phase, and the dark Moon phase lives in her. YET it’s something we can’t grasp. This phase, and the energy of the dark feminine are mysteries beyond mental understanding. And trying to figure this out isn’t the point.

Spiritually aligned to the mysterious and chaotic process of transformation, the Moon’s dark energy is the only part of the cycle of nature, that man cannot control.

We can speed up growth cycles…
We can remove, compost and decay…

But we can’t harness the unknowable, transformational, regenerative power of that liminal phase. The dark Moon phase remains wild, out of bounds and untamed.

Like the bleeding times of women, the dark Moon phase has been rejected because of it’s strange, still, chaotic and unfathomable nature…

How does the dark Moon affect us?

During the dark moon phase, the lack of lunar light and invisibility of the moon in the night sky can leave you feeling more inwardly focused and contemplative. Emotions may feel closer to the surface as you’re drawn to introspection.

Dark Moons affect our energy levels, which tend to be lower under this phase so focusing on rest and inner work rather than outward action is generally more productive.

Dreams may be more vivid or symbolic as the unconscious becomes more active. For many, the dark moon is a period of quiet reflection that allows shadow aspects to surface for awareness and integration.

Yet realise that this powerful phase can affect us all differently depending on the specific lunar cycle, zodiac sign, season of the year, your own blood cycle, and of course for a myriad more reasons. But you’ll tend to notice patterns.

Things to do at the dark Moon phase

During the dark Moon, the most important thing is to tune in deeply to your own needs.

But bear in mind the potential for BIG spiritual and personal transformation that this lunar phase holds. That transformation is occurring on the internal planes – in your inner world – so be gentle and kind to yourself.

Here are a few suggestions for what to do to participate in the dark Moon

  • Rest
  • Journal
  • Turn off the media – tune into your inner world
  • Also, TRUST what the world beyond is showing you – in the liminal (which is what the dark Moon is) signs, symbols and synchronicities take on extra meaning. So be in wonder and reverence of these.
  • Tap into your intuition for guidance
  • Let emotions flow – if you’re angry, go there. Let yourself feel what’s real.
  • Commune with trusted spirit guides
  • Invite in the dark Goddess
  • Do crafts or make art with repetitive actions – weaving, knitting, drumming. Not to be “creative” but to lull yourself into liminal, trance states to receive insights.

But most of all the Dark Moon is about YOUR experience of this energy, and what it’s bringing to your life at this time.

A Dark Moon warning:

Information about the dark Moon is rising again in pop culture. People are gathering up threads of knowledge. BUT this isn’t always accurate.

You may hear that this is a brooding time full of shadow and pain. 

But this isn’t dark Moon energy!

It’s more likely that this is how modern people are responding to ancient lunar energy that’s unfamiliar to them. It’s how they are unable to hold space for the dark Feminine that tends to emerge at the Dark Moon…

The dark or black Moon maybe one phase of the lunar cycle, but her energy lives within all of us.

We are all perpetually moving through personal cycles of ebb and flow, growth and decay. The Moon brings us her medicine, but it’s up to you to see how it moves through your own body of work (which is your life, your art, and your experience).

Dark Moon wild woman

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