The cycle from new moon to new moon lasts 29.5 days but because the Moon has an irregular orbit, the time of its rising and setting will vary each day. For this reason, phases can vary in length by a day or so each month. The best way to understand the Moon is as our ancestors did, by studying in the sky. Use an almanac or a diary that contains Moon phases or consult your daily paper to identify the phases to start you off on the right day. The weather section of your paper also gives you precise timings and there is usually a chart so you can adjust for time zones and summer time differences.
Each day, look to see whether the Moon is in the sky or, if it is cloudy, calculate where it ought to be. On clear nights you will see how it rises diagonally. You can use a tree in your garden or the roof of a house or even a tall fence to note the position at a specific time of the night and month. Each month it will be slightly different, because of that irregular orbit. Don’t be fooled in the waning phase – in the later part, you may see in the early morning yesterday’s Moon that has not yet set.
Children love keeping a ‘Moon watch’, and you may like to buy a sky globe or map or lunar software for your computer so that you can all track its progress.
Most importantly, note what effect the Moon has on your emotions. Does it make you feel like lighting a candle, making love, dancing in the garden, cleaning out a cupboard, having an argument – or doing absolutely nothing? If you monitor these feelings for three or four months or so, you will find your own Moon pattern emerging. Soon you will be able to understand why you feel the way you do .Most importantly, you will be able to maximise your best moon times for action. Make full moon water by catching the full moonlight in a silver-coloured bowl; drink it or add it to your bath.
In addition, if you want to understand the mechanics as opposed to the workings of the Moon, read a book on astronomy rather than astrology to learn about orbits and the eight phases.
You might also, even if you do not read horoscopes, keep an eye for when the Moon enters your birth sign – this happens for about two and a half days each month – and monitor the effects over a period of several months. Does it make you more jittery, less cautious (which may or may not be a good thing), more intuitive, more family-orientated, reverting to out-moded patterns of reaction? Again, you can maximise positive effects if you are aware of them, like anticipating a wave and riding it, rather than being submerged by the surge of power.