A beginner's guide to Moon Magic: Understanding Lunar Cycles

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 How many times have you checked your horoscope since the new year began?

If you’re like me, you’ve always been intrigued by the potential of what astrology can tell you — about life, relationships and your energy. But, also skeptical…very skeptical.

On this week’s podcast episode, I spoke with Sherene Shostak, the woman behind the Astrology section at Elle Magazine — among many other magical aspects of her life. She gave me (and you!) the download on what the heck Mercury Retrograde really is, how we can channel the lunar energy to enhance our own, and why our Saturn Return is the most confusing part of our life (for all of us 20-somethings, pay attention!). 

My conversation with Sherene also convinced me that Astrology isn’t some hookie thing that your grandma reads in the Sunday paper. It’s a really interest approach to making sense of our world, and the people in it. 

Out of that conversation, and further research on the topic, I put together a simple little guide for all of use astrology newbies. So, how can we all begin to harness some good vibes, and use the lunar cycle in our favor?


What is Astrology anyway?

Regular people like us only associate astrology with our short little horoscopes or people reading your palm on those weird side-streets in Chinatown (mind you — these are two very different things). 

But, astrology is a practice that has been around essentially since humans began roaming the Earth. We all had a tendency to Look Up, trying to make sense of our world and our place in it.

To be more specific, Astrology is the study of patterns, mostly the positions of the sun, moon, stars, and even planets to understand their impact on us humans. It’s a metascience — something like yoga, or reiki — that uses the energy of the earth and space to come to conclusions.

So, essentially it’s really a path of self-discovery in a magical, mystical way.

Your Sun Sign

If you’re first delving into the world of astrology, you should know your sun sign. 

Your astrological sun sign is based on the date of your birth. There are many different ways of knowing about your life path via Astrology, but the most popular way to start is with your sun sign (e.g. Gemini, Pieces, etc). Your sun sign is determined by which zodiac constellation is behind the sun on the date of your birth. If you don’t know yours yet, here’s a list of sun signs based on birth dates.

Your sun sign is probably the main aspect of Astrology that you know about, because it’s the most commonly reported. Your sun sign, or the location of the sun when we were born, gives insight into certain personality traits. It’s all about your ego, your actions, your will.

But, our sun sign is only one aspect of our astrological background. 

Your Moon Sign

After learning about your sun sign, there are many other ways to begin understanding your life path based on astrology.

An Astrologist, like Sherene, can sit down with you and do a complete analysis of your birth date, time, and other information — so you can understand your birth chart. 

And, one of the other most important aspect of astrology is your moon sign. This is a predictor of your inner self: who you are when you’re alone. Your moon sign is determined by a lot of different factors, but mostly relates to where the moon was at the time you were born.

Your moon sign is extremely important in knowing what you need to be fully satisfied in your inner life. 

There are many other aspects of astrology that one can use to determine your life path (The House Charts, Your Rising Sign, Inner and Outer Planets…the list goes on). 

For now, we’ll leave those to a real Astrologist like Sherene — but know that this practice is one that reveals much more than what you’re going to eat for dinner next week.

Tying it all together: The Lunar Cycle

There are many other forces at play that affect all signs — no matter where or when you were born. The energy of our Earth is constantly shifting and so does our place in it. 

If you’ve been on social media ever, you’ve probably seen one or two Astrologist newbies talking about how much they “hate Mercury in Retrograde” (FYI — it’s Mercury Retrograde, sans In). Since Mercury is a planet that rules our communications, typically it is said that when it is “in retrograde” our communications will get disrupted. This isn’t always the case, but if you notice yourself sending out the wrong emails, or saying weird things — this energy shift explains it. 

This specific planetary motion happens about 4 times per year, and is an example of how a larger force of energy can disrupt or shift our actions or thoughts. 

There are other planetary shifts that happen often, like New Moons and Full Moons. These impact our energy flows and goalsetting. During a New Moon, you might feel like looking inwards by setting goals and reflecting. During a Full Moon (two weeks later) you are at the peak of your creativity, and energy — often seen as a “creative spotlight.”


There are so much depth here, we could talk about how our planet’s movements affect our beings forever! But, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t need to fight against these natural Earth cycles — but can actually use them to your benefit.

So, next time you’re aware of a Full Moon, or Mercury Retrograde — embrace it. Find out what is best for your energy, and lean into it. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling super tired and introverted or extremely energetic. Go with the flow, and the energy will follow. 

soulKatina Mountanos