Full Moon Symbolism & Meaning
Exploring the Full Moon’s symbolic meaning is a journey full of intrigue, mystery, and wonder. Cultural views play a significant role in shaping the Full Moon’s symbolism. The meaning of the Moon has become richer over time. There’s great irony in the fact that the Moon reflects sunlight; so too, the Moon’s symbols are reflective of societal beliefs, traditions, and people’s observations of the lunar body’s transit in the nighttime sky throughout history.
Full Moon’s Symbolism, Meaning, & Correspondences Table of Contents
- Full Moon Symbolism & Meaning
- The Full Moon & Femininity
- The Full Moon & The Medicine Wheel
- Cultural & Religious Full Moon Symbolism
- Moon Symbolism & Numerology
- Western Astrology & The Full Moon
- Full Moon & The Tarot
- Animals & Full Moon Symbolism
Full Moon Symbolism & Meaning
“The Full Moon – The Mandala of the Sky.”
***Note*** The symbolism of the Full Moon is extensive and difficult to cover within the body of this work; this article offers substantial samplings of different Moon correspondences but is in no way all-inclusive. Please use this information as a starting point for your Moon Symbolism exploration.
The Moon’s visible light appears in phases, with the Full Moon representing the culmination of growth. The waxing and waning moons signify the increase and decrease of the same energy. Like the oceanic tides, the Moon’s vibrations ebb and flow. The waxing Moon is a crescendo of energy, reaching a zenith at Full Moon: A time when the lunar body is “full or pregnant with power.” Then, the lessening of the Moon’s energy becomes a gentle decrescendo into the Waning Moon phase, only to renew the cycle again all over again when the New Moon appears, which is also full but invisible to the naked eye.
It is the light of The Moon linking the natural satellite to the symbols of illusion, mystery, wonder, and sometimes deception and trickery. Viewing the celestial body in the nighttime sky makes it seem like the lunar body emits light while emanating none. Instead, the light one sees beaming from the lighter half of the lunar mass is simply an echo of the ever-radiant rays of the Sun. Then, when the Moon enters the New Moon phase, it seems to disappear from the sky altogether. The Moon’s invisibility is also deceptive, as it never truly vanishes, nor does half of the lunar body ever stop reflecting sunlight.
Having a light and dark side, The Moon represents naivety and wisdom, consciousness and the unconscious, the Persona, Psyche, and Shadow Self, as well as self-exploration and spiritual enlightenment. As the Sun serves as a symbol of knowledge and wisdom, so does the Moon, only such knowledge relates to the arcane, occult, and hidden understandings. Because it influences water movement, the Moon corresponds with the Water Element, emotions, dreams, visions, intuition, and psychism.
The Moon’s movement around the earth causes the celestial body to symbolize time, cycles, and the infinite. The gravitational pull of the Moon influences the rains, the body and ocean tides, and seasons. During the New and Full Moon phases, it is not the Moon alone affecting tidal waters. Instead, both planetary bodies work in unison, with gravity combining, to pull waters in one direction; the action results in “King Tides” or “Spring Tides.”
Full Moon & Femininity
The cyclical movement of the Moon corresponds with the stages of birth, life, death, and rebirth. In the stages of a person’s development, the Full Moon symbolizes adulthood. There’s even a strong link between women and the moon. The words “mense” and “menstruation” have roots in the Greek and Latin terms “mene” meaning “moon,” and “mensis” meaning “month.”
Both the menstrual cycle and lunar month last nearly the same amount of time; a regular menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days, while a lunar month is approximately 29.5 days. While conflicting research exists, some studies suggest New and Full Moon phases hold sway over ovulation and menstruation. Additional studies find females ovulating three days before the Full Moon are more likely to have a girl after conceiving. If they conceive right on the Full Moon, they are more likely to have a boy; such events occur due to bodily changes in women brought on by the Moon’s transit.
In some Pagan circles, a woman is seen as closer to the Goddess during her menstrual cycle than at any other time in the month. Whether a woman’s period begins on the New or Full Moon, both times are when the Moon is at the peak of its power and influence. Likewise, the Moon symbolically represents pregnancy, motherhood, nurturing, and compassion.
The Feminine Divine is often described as a Triple Goddess, which is a triune made of three aspects of the same deity: The Maiden (youth), the Mother (adulthood), and the Crone (eldership). It is the same aspects that align with the waxing, full, and waning moon phases, with the Mother Aspect aligning with the Full Moon. Sometimes the Goddess is described as having a fourth, darker or hidden aspect, relating to the New Moon.
The Full Moon & The Medicine Wheel
Native American Tribes have unique names for every Full Moon of the Month, with many such titles based on their observations of the natural world. For example, in January, The Full Wolf Moon is so named because, in the quiet of the winter, the howling of the wolf was something Natives could detect more readily, and there was the belief, at the time, the creature’s howling was due to scarcity and their hunger. As another example, some tribes might reference the Full Moon in April as the Full Pink Moon because of the sprouting of ground phlox: Dainty white wildflowers with bright pink centers. Other tribes might call April’s Full Moon the Sprouting Moon, because of the fresh grass pushing its way up through the earth.
Many of the Native American Full Moons align with the four quadrants in the Medicine Wheel. The “Sacred Hoop” or Native American Medicine Wheel is a circle with four equal sections aligning with the Cardinal Directions: East, South, West, and North. If you were to draw a Medicine Wheel, it begins with the earth symbol: A circle with an equal-armed cross in its center. Wakan-Tanka, the Great Spirit or Divine, is depicted in the center of the Wheel. The purpose of the sacred circle is for self-exploration, insight, spiritual growth, and healing.
The circle itself embodies the earth and sky, so the Moon plays an important role as one takes the journey around the Wheel in a clockwise or “sunrise” rotation. The Medicine Wheel is pervasive in Native American cultures, but traditions and correspondences tend to vary from one tribe to another. It’s common to see variations in symbolic associations, but the Wheel often represents life stages, the elements, specific animals, ceremonial plants, and different aspects of everyday life.
There are different types of Medicine Wheels and methods for working with Moon energetic influences. Some people align each of the twelve moon phases (sometimes thirteen when there’s a Blue Moon event) with the four quadrants, having three moon phases align with each cardinal direction and the appropriate season. Others choose to correspond the Moon with the Western Quadrant, where the Water Element rules, with Moon vibrations. There’s no “right” or wrong” method here, and choosing the method that resonates with you proves ideal.
Cultural & Religious Full Moon Symbolism
Since time immemorial, humankind has tried to understand the Universe and its workings, including the abstract Divine. Observation of natural forces, like the disappearance and reappearance of the Moon as it transitions through the phases, and the daily return of the Sun were great mysteries and, therefore, thought to be supernatural in origin.
In ancient and modern-day cultures, the Full Moon and Sun are opposing but unifying forces, signifying the Masculine (Sun) and (Feminine) Divine or Yin and Yang energetic influences. The two celestial bodies represent perfection and imperfection and, ultimately, the paradoxical nature of the Universe and the Godhead. Stories around the world reveal the relation between the Moon and Sun, serving to further enrich the symbolic meaning of both celestial bodies.
Babylonian Moon Deities
For the Ancient Akkadians, Sumerians, and Babylonians, the Moon represents a Masculine Deity. For the Akkadians, the Moon God is Sīn. For the Sumerians, the Moon Deity is Nanna. “The Lord of Wisdom” is one of Nanna’s titles, who is the “Chief of the Gods.” His consort is sometimes noted as Ishtar or Inanna, the Goddess of Venus, or Shamash or Utu, a Sun Goddess.
Welsh, Celtic, Gaelic, & Irish Moon Goddesses
Arianrhod, a fertility Goddess of Time, Karma, Reincarnation, Beauty, and the Moon, is the Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess. Her name originates from “Arganto-rotā,” meaning “silver wheel.” Worshippers would honor Arianrhod during the Full Moon. Aine, another Full Moon Goddess, originates from Irish Lore: She rules over Love, Healing, and Fertility. Cerridwen, the Goddess of Arcane Knowledge, the Cauldron, and the Moon, corresponds with the New Moon phase.
Egyptian Moon Deities
One of the earliest Moon Gods for the Ancient Egyptians is the deity “Iah,” a name meaning “Moon.” The deity lost predominance by the eleventh century BCE, when worship of “Khonu” proved more favorable. “Khonu,” also a God of the Moon, has a name meaning “traveler,” alluding to the Moon’s movement through the nighttime sky and the lunar body serving as a navigational tool for the ancients.
Eventually, “Iah” evolves into the “God of the New Moon,” or “Djehuty;” He rules writing and knowledge, making him identical to the Ibis-headed God of Wisdom, Writing, and Scribes, “Thoth.” “Bast” or “Bastet” is a cat-headed Goddess of love, fertility, sensuality, and both sunrise and the Moon.
West African Moon Goddess
The Fon people revere “Gleti”: A Goddess originating in ancient Dahomey, now modern-day Benin, in West Africa. “Gleti” holds dominion over both light and love. Tales tell of “Gleti” being the mother to the stars, the “Gletivi” in all the heavens. Some stories tell of Her consort, “Lisa,” or “Whi.” The Sun God, eclipsing “Gleti” when His shadow passes before her face, while other lore suggests lunar eclipses are the result of the mating of the Moon and Sun deities.
Greco-Roman Moon Deities
In Ancient Greece, people associated The Moon with several deities, many of which were later adopted by the Romans. Artemis is the Huntress Moon Goddess in Greece. For Ancient Romans, there is Diana, the Virgin Goddess of Animals, the Hunt, and Magic.
Far Eastern Moon Deities
In Japan, Chup Kamui is a Chasity Goddess of Innocence, Purity, Modesty, and Humility. As the Moon, she watched over the Ainu people. After seeing their terrible behavior, She asks to switch places with the Sun, Her Brother. In China, the Goddess of the Twelve Moons of the Year is Changxi: Each moon is one of Her daughters, which the Goddess nurtures by bathing them in water, thereby drawing the symbolic link between the Moon and the Water Element.
Aztec Moon Goddess
The Aztecs revered Coyolxauhqui, Coaticue’s daughter as a Goddess of the Moon. She appears with bells on her face, and Her name translates as “Golden Bells.” . Coyolxauhqui earns Her Moon Goddess status following Her decapitation when Her head is set among the starry heavens; the story draws a link between the Divine Feminine, the Moon, and Wisdom.
Moon Symbolism & Numerology
The Full Moon’s symbolism deepens further when examining numerology. Every number corresponding with the Moon resonates with a distinct frequency. The vibrations, ever-so-subtle, shape and change the full Moon’s symbolic meaning and its impact on what it governs. The numbers two, three, four, and twelve all have symbolic ties to the earth’s natural satellite.
Two: Second only to the Sun as the most influential, but no less significant celestial body affecting the earth and all living things, the Moon resonates with the number two. Positive vibrations associated with the number two include balance, companionship, unity, and duality. Two’s energies are often harmonious: Think Yin/Yang forces. So too, the figure represents opposition and diversity. Negatively, two signifies codependence, discontent, or discord. Note: Monday gets its name from the Moon, which is considered the second day of the week in many cultures. For more information on Monday’s symbolism and how the moon influence’s the day’s meaning, read “Monday’s Symbolism & Meaning” on Whatismyspiritanimal.com.
Three: The Blue Moon appears as the second full Moon in a lunar cycle, so it means there are at least three appearances of the Full and New Moon within 29 days. So, the Blue Moon corresponds to the numbers two, being the second full Moon, and the number three, as it’s the third “full” appearance of the satellite in the night sky. The Moon also resonates with the number three, considering there’s at least one full Moon each month during the year (12 = 1 + 2 = 3).
Three symbolizes optimism, completion, femininity, Divine guidance, and creativity. It also carries vibrations of enlightenment and vision. The Blue Moon is an uncommon occurrence, so a Full Blue Moon signifies rare opportunities, the unexpected, and is considered a more potent time for manifesting one’s desires. Increases in psychic experiences and meaningful dreams are frequent. Negatively, the Blue Moon’s relation to the number three means the lunar body’s influence may cause poor concentration, confusion, and befuddled feelings.
Four: When there’s thirteen full moon events in a given year, it causes the Moon to align with the number four (13 = 1 + 3 = 4 ). Four corresponds with strength, stability, balance, and dependability. Negatively, four relates to an increase in anxiety, the fear of bad luck, tetraphobia (the fear of the number four’s influence or meaning), and insecurity.
Eight: While it’s easy to think of the Moon having three phases, waxing, full, and waning, there’s eight phases of the Moon as it transits through the sky. The aspects include New, Waxing, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full, Waning Gibbous, Third Quarter, and Waning. Eight’s vibration corresponds with interconnectedness, reincarnation, life lessons, karma, and Divine connection or intervention. Negatively, eight resonates with weakness, stubbornness, egotism, withdrawal, and the inability to trust your intuition.
Western Astrology & The Full Moon
In Western Astrology, The Moon rules the Water-ruled sign of Cancer and those born between June 21st and July 22nd. Cancerians are pleasant, insightful, tenacious, and moody, while sometimes proving fickle. Cancer-ruled people are also tender and nurturing. Home, comfort, and safety are of importance to those ruled by the sign of the Crab. Cancerians are also sentimental and dislike conflict or criticism.
The Full Moon is not just influential over those born under Cancer’s rule; its energies impact the mood, thoughts, feelings, and choices of others when it enters their zodiac sign on the celestial Wheel. The Moon’s transit forms specific aspects with other planetary bodies and the Sun as well, establishing powerful and distinct vibrations of influence. See how the Moon’s pull changes as it transitions through each of the twelve zodiac signs below:
Full Moon in Aries: The Moon’s energy triggers capriciousness and enthusiasm, but it also triggers potential conflict and arrogance. When the Full Moon enters Aries, it’s a period of self-assurance, self-expression, and self-discipline. Emotional well-being, boundary setting, artistic pursuits, and new projects are central.
Full Moon in Taurus: The energetic influence is loving, desirous, and earthy. The Moon triggers the need for emotional grounding, centering, and greater stability. A love of all things creative and enjoying beauty is the core focus.
Full Moon in Gemini: The Full Moon energies add to the unpredictable and sometimes volatile nature of this period. Fickleness, restlessness, and excessive energy come into play. There’s a heightened desire for intellectual stimulation and learning pursuits.
Full Moon in Cancer: The planetary vibrations highlight family bonds, friendships, and love affairs, with an additional focus on home. Compassion, nurturing, and enriching existing connections become central now. But the period also results in moodiness, emotional confusion, and uncertainty.
Full Moon in Leo: Attention-seeking, adoration, and lime-lighting are key highlights when the Moon enters Leo. Friendships thrive, and the energies highlight rewards for work well-done or acknowledgment for your unique talents.
Full Moon in Virgo: All conditions involving concrete facts, logic, analysis, and business are central with the Moon in Virgo. The period resonates with purity, clarity, and simplicity. The energies are less supportive of emotional expression or exploration now.
Full Moon in Libra: Harmony, peace-of-mind, and finding balance in all areas of your life is central. Libra is Air-ruled, however, so it can prove a constant struggle to keep things harmonious. Chattiness, intellectual stimulation, and socialization are highlights.
Full Moon in Scorpio: Ecstasy, elation, envy, love, and hate: All things are more potent when the Moon moves into Scorpio. Because of the intensity of emotion, neurosis, and fixation become real possibilities. Cynicism, misgivings, reluctance, indecisiveness, and extreme caution in emotional matters rule now.
Full Moon in Sagittarius: This period is marked by positivity, hope, risk-taking, and adventure. Enlightenment, whether spiritual or intellectual, are highlights now. The Moon in Sagittarius triggers a desire to experience all things new or to see the old through new eyes.
Full Moon in Capricorn: Orderliness, levelheadedness, strength, and consistency rule when the Moon is in Capricorn. Tradition trumps unconventionality now unless non-conformity contributes to better order. Patience and perseverance are highlights; all business-related endeavors become the central focus.
Full Moon in Aquarius: Liberation from convention, the bold and eccentric; that is the energy when the Moon enters Aquarius. Novelty, originality, independence, and rebellion are highlights. Shifts in perception, sudden changes, and the unexpected are part of this period’s influence.
Full Moon in Pisces: Greater focus on spiritual pursuits, focus on inner journey work and self-exploration: This is the energy that comes with the Moon in Pisces. Reflection and deep contemplation are highlights, focusing on dreamwork, visions, spiritual quests, meditation, and achieving altered states of awareness. Flights of the imagination and fantasy and nostalgia mark the period.
Full Moon & the Tarot
The Tarot is a divinatory tool consisting of 78 cards; the deck is something people use to explore the past, present, and future, or for self-exploration, spiritual pursuits, and life enhancement. Two cards relate to the Full Moon and its impact on events, conditions, and relationships: The Moon and The High Priestess.
The Moon: The nineteenth card in the Major Arcana, when upright The Moon symbolizes the beginning of the summer season, from June 21-July 22nd: The time of Cancer. Two dogs on the card appear at a crossroads, representing lasting loyalties, future planning, and the pursuit of happiness. The Moon and Sun appear together in the sky, demonstrating the unified energy of the planetary bodies and perfect harmony. The card symbolizes the mysteries, a spiritual path leading to a greater connection to the Divine Feminine, womanhood, nurturing, compassion, and romantic pursuits. The card’s reversal represents a lack of ambiguity, things “written in stone,” the world of concrete logic or rationale, and intellectual pursuits trumping spiritual progress.
The High Priestess: The archetype of the High Priestess’s connection to moon symbolism is less obvious than that presented in The Moon Card. The second card in the Major Arcana, The High Priestess wears a robe that looks like water, features an equal-armed cross over her heart, and on her head is a triple moon diadem: A waxing, full, and waning moon crown. She signifies feminine mysteries, the knowledge of all worlds, intuition, and psychic experiences. Reversed, The High Priestess represents the misalignment of mind, body, and spirit or the focus on materialism over the emotional and spiritual worlds.
Animals & Full Moon Symbolism
As noted earlier, the Moon’s gravitational pull has a powerful effect on tidal waters, the weather, the world, and all living things. But some animals have stronger symbolic ties to the earth’s satellite. Since the Moon affects water and corresponds with the same element, it’s safe to say all aquatic creatures have powerful Moon associations.
Crab: The Crab, aptly a symbol for Water and Cancer in the Zodiac, is a moon symbol. People make many animal-moon associations after observing a creature’s physical characteristics or behaviors during and around the full or new moon phase. The Horseshoe Crab, for example, increases its spawning activity when the tides are at their height during both moon phases; the Crab is, for the most part, a nocturnal breeder, and will breed more during the Full and New Moon.
Owls: Some species of Owl, like the Eagle Owl, are more active and active when the Moon is full. Eagle Owls communicate with other Birds at night by using the white feathers around their throat, with the Moon’s illumination making the feather’s easier to see. On the flip side, some Owls, to avoid would-be attacks from predators, remain inactive during the full moon phase. Symbolically, Owls represent wisdom, secrecy, and the mysterious.
Turtle: Some creatures, capable of roaming both land and sea, align their activities with the Full Moon’s appearance. At least some Turtle species will lay eggs when the Moon reaches its zenith; it makes it easier to access distant parts of the sandy seashore when riding into land on the waves the high tide creates. Turtles symbolically represent the earth, protection, stability, and steadfastness.
Dolphins: Dolphins are both nocturnal and aquatic, immediately making them an ideal Animal-Moon connection. The creature also forages for food at night during the Full Moon when it illuminates the sky. At the same time, Dolphins minimize their use of echolocation, indicating their behaviors are attuned to the lunar cycle. Dolphins are symbols of compassion, illumination, wisdom, and the inner child.
Like Dolphins, all nocturnal animals have symbolic ties to the Feminine Moon. Some of the most common animal-moon associations include creatures like the Wolf, Bat, and Black Cat, all of which are, indeed, more active at night, and symbolically associated with the mysterious, the occult, and all things hidden. Rabbits also have Moon-ties; the Hare is a universal fertility symbol; some people also claim it appears as an optical illusion on the Moon’s surface.
People from every culture in history have gazed up at the lunar body in wonder, and have further shaped what the Full Moon means as a symbol today. While it’s true, the Moon is at its most powerful during its brightest illumination and greatest darkness, all phases of the Moon have distinct energy signatures. Whether viewing the Moon through a religious, cultural, or purely scientific lens, the Moon remains an exquisite and visually inspiring celestial body cascading down its powerful and lovely light on all living things.
Want to learn more about the Moon in all of its phases? Tap into all of the articles about Moon Phases Symbolism & Meaning on Whatismyspiritanimal.com! Don’t forget to read up on Animal-Moon associations too; you can discover the meaning of a wide range of Animals when they appear in dreams or as your Spirit, Totem, & Power Animal!