Have you ever looked up into the morning sky to see a half Moon gently dropping down over the western horizon? This lunar phase is called the last quarter, and it holds a particular energy that’s as powerful as it is gentle.
Of all the lunar phases, the third, or last quarter Moon occurs close to the end of the cycle, and represents a time of release and letting go. It is a time to reflect on the past and release any negative emotions or patterns that may be holding you back, as you prepare for the new beginnings of the upcoming new moon.
What is the last quarter Moon phase?
As the moon orbits Earth, the Sun illuminates different parts of the moon’s surface. During the last quarter phase, the Moon is 270º from the Sun, all the way around on the opposite side of Earth.
So the Moon is three-quarters of the way through her lunar month and from Earth, appears half-lit. It sits between the waning gibbous and the waning crescent Moon, making the midway point in the waning half of the Moon’s cycle.
During this phase in the northern hemisphere, the left side is illuminated. And in the southern hemisphere it’s the right side that is lit up.
Just like with the first quarter Moon, this phase symbolises a kind of duality. Light and dark are equally balanced across the Moon’s surface, yet this balance is fleeting.
Astrologically, the last quarter Moon forms a square. This aspect is known to bring the energy of tension, and the need for something to change.
To see where this Moon phase fits into the whole cycle, let’s have a quick re-cap…
What are the 8 phases of the Moon?
There are 8 (well actually 9!) phases that make up the lunar cycle. Here's a breakdown -
The new Moon phase arrives when old Grandmother Moon has just become visible. She is a sliver of light, emerging into the daytime sky.
Waxing Crescent Moon
The waxing crescent Moon has a more obvious crescent shape, rising during the daytime and setting in the western evening sky.
The first quarter Moon forms an astrological square with the Sun, this phase is revealed as a clear “half Moon” shape. Light will expand, overtaking the dark quarter.
Read more: Spiritual Meaning of the First Quarter Moon
Waxing gibbous Moon
The waxing gibbous Moon is closer to the full Moon phase than to the new. This appears as a blossoming disc of light, illuminated from the right in the northern hemisphere, and the left in the south.
Read more: Spiritual Meaning of the Waxing Gibbous Moon
At the Full Moon phase, la Luna rises with the Sunset, and sets when the Sun rises. She’s fully illuminated and present in the sky all night long.
Waning gibbous Moon
Past the cycle’s climax, the waning gibbous Moon phase is almost a mirror image of the waxing gibbous – a swollen round disc ebbing away from one edge.
Read more: Spiritual Meaning of the Waning Gibbous Moon
The last quarter Moon (also known as the third quarter) forms another astrological square with the Sun and appears as a clear “half Moon” shape. This time, though, dark will overtake the light.
Read more: Spiritual Meaning of the Last Quarter Moon
Waning crescent Moon (or balsamic Moon)
The waning crescent Moon is closer to the next new Moon, than to this cycle’s full Moon phase. It appears as an ebbing, almost disappearing arc in the daytime sky.
The dark Moon appears between one and three days before the new Moon, and is invisible. During the dark Moon, la Luna rises with the Sun, but is bleached out by sunlight, and absent completely from the night sky.
Read more: What's the Meaning of the Dark Moon Phase?
The Spiritual Meaning of the Last Quarter Moon Phase
The last quarter moon phase is a powerful time for reflection and release. It’s an opportunity to let go of anything that no longer serves you and to prepare for the new beginnings that come with the imminent new Moon, and the next new cycle.
During this phase, you may feel a sense of completion or closure, as you reflect on the lessons and experiences of the past month. It is also a time to take stock of your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your goals and plans.
But to really understand and harness the spiritual meaning of the third quarter phase, it’s important to touch on the astrology we’re looking at.
As with the first quarter phase, at this time the Sun and Moon are forming an astrological square. Light and dark are cast equally over opposite sides of the Moon, and so it is with us.
As light ebbs away, from the waning gibbous to the waning crescent Moon, your own light also diminishes, and the welcoming embrace of the darkness rises. But there’s tension in this – remember at this point, both forces of light and dark are vying for position.
Yet unlike the waxing half of the Moon’s phases, at the third quarter, the Moon’s influence is inviting to go inward. To turn around and face the darkness of our inner worlds, and make necessary changes from this place.
At this phase of the Moon, a challenge will usually show up. It’s likely to be felt as a trigger, or an emotional activation. And with it, the urge to react.
Here at the third quarter, the angle between Moon and Sun is going to become more acute – our twin luminaries are moving closer together.
The invitation to us is to do the same, and move in closer to ourselves. Instead of reacting to this Moon’s challenge, as you always have, it’s time to dig deep and choose a different way of being.
The last quarter Moon meaning and meeting your shadow
Spiritually, the third quarter phase can call you into your shadow.
The shadow self is the dark and unseen part of the psyche. It contains all the aspects of ourselves that we’ve rejected, banished into the unconscious. YET these unloved, unwanted parts often form the basis of our thought patterns, impulses, and most unhealthy habits. They’re the root of our judgements of others, and sabotage of ourselves.
This last quarter phase is exactly when you could find yourself falling into these behaviours and expressing these unconscious aspects. Lashing out, judging, blaming… Or retreating into shame, or self-criticism.
But instead of allowing them to take over, re-frame them as doorways into shadow work.
If you want to find out more about shadow work, head here and read about the Honeyed Shadow 13 day guided journey
Remember, this phase is also a time of choice, and much like the waxing quarter Moon – brings an opportunity to look within for insight and wisdom. Spiritually, you can use this Moon phase to evaluate your life and make decisions that will lead you towards your desired path.
How to Harness the Energy of the Last Quarter Moon
Here’s where you learn what to do during the last quarter Moon.
Yes, the exact astrological moment of this phase may throw up a challenge or obstacle, but it may not. Here’s a list of 5 things to do, to maximise the gifts of this phase, before the dark Moon, and then a brand new cycle begins…
Overall this is a powerful time to harness the energy of completion and release. During this phase, you may feel a strong urge to let go of unhelpful people, situations, or habits in your life. It is important to honor this instinctive body and release what no longer serves you.
Take time to reflect on the lessons learned during the previous cycle. It’s been three weeks since the New Moon rose, making this an ideal time to look back and ponder what came to pass.
Maybe you still have a lot to get done before the next cycle begins? That’s ok – you don’t need to abandon it all. But do try to take some time to rest and recharge. You’ll be glad yo did.
Practice release rituals
Any time from the Full Moon is the time for practicing release rituals.
With just a few days until the crescent phase, this primary phase of the moon carries a powerful punch. Commit to letting something go through ritual, and you’ll be harnessing the disseminating energy of retreat and release.
Prepare for the new Moon
It may feel too early for you, but some Moon mavens like to use the last quarter to think ahead and plan for the next lunar cycle.
This phase sits on the edge – equidistant from the full climax of the current cycle, and the new Moon of the next. So it IS possible to energetically reach forward, stretching into the realm of possibility and what the next new beginning will bring.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ever asked yourself one of these…?
What is the spiritual significance of the last quarter Moon?
The last quarter moon is a time for reflection and release. It marks the tipping point where we are closer to the start of the next lunar cycle, than the beginning of the current one. During this phase, you can take stock of your life and let go of anything that no longer serves you. It’s a time to release old patterns, habits, and beliefs that are holding you back.
Can you harness the energy of the last quarter Moon for manifestation?
The last quarter can be used for manifestation. However, the energy of the last quarter Moon is much better suited to releasing blocks and tracking the parts of your shadow that are preventing you from manifesting what you desire.
What symbolism is associated with the last quarter?
The Moon is also a symbol of the feminine, intuition, and emotions. The third quarter Moon is sometimes associated with the crone, as this archetype aligns with waning energy.
During this phase you may feel more in tune with your emotions and intuition, and less likely to be sociable, and spend time with people.
What are some rituals to perform during the last quarter Moon?
There are many rituals you can perform during the last quarter phase. You can journal, meditate, do a tarot reading, or perform a releasing ceremony. Take some time to reflect on what you want to release and set your intentions for the new lunar cycle.
What personality traits are associated with those born under the last quarter Moon?
Those born under the last quarter are often reflective and introspective. They may be drawn to spiritual practices and have a strong intuition. They may also be prone to mood swings and emotional ups and downs.
What spiritual meaning can be found in the phases of the Moon?
The phases of the Moon represent the cycle of life and death, growth and decay. They are a reminder that everything in life is cyclical and that change is inevitable. Each phase has its own spiritual significance and can be used to connect with the divine and manifest your desires.