Get Well

I Track the Moon Phases As a Form of Self-Care—And Here’s Why You Should Too

by Isabella Gomez

I noticed my connection to the moon for the first time two years ago, on the night of the summer solstice. The sun had disappeared by the time my flight landed in Panama City Beach, and while my boyfriend and his brother-in-law drove me from the airport back to their family’s hotel, I stared at the full moon in the sky. I didn’t think about how beautiful it was or how close it seemed; I was pissed because I’d just gotten my period. But, as it turns out, my period was exactly what I needed. 

I sat out on a lounge chair in the sand that night, staring out at the darkened beach in front of me. Slowly, I felt myself let go of everything taking up space in my head. Instead, I watched the moon and the way it pulled the water back and forth over the shadowy sand. I realized what was happening in my body mimicked the motion of the waves crashing, and that it’s not a coincidence that my period, like the moon, follows a month-long cycle. That night, I meditated until the sun came back up, and I made peace with both my cramps and the cosmos that control them.

My period came every single full moon for the next six months (it unsynced the night of the winter solstice, magically enough, and linked up with a different phase). Around this time, a family friend of mine introduced me to a journaling project started by her sister, a Mexico City-based artist, as a way to keep track of our lunar rhythms. She provided me with a calendar that tracked the moon phases. Every night, I was encouraged to write down my feelings, thoughts, intentions for the day. Slowly, she told me, I would see a pattern in the way the moon influenced not just my menstrual cycle, but my emotions, too. 

She was right. I felt full of ideas for new projects during the days leading up to the full moon, excited to hang out with friends and visit everyone in my family. Once the moon began to wane, my demeanor did too. I was more introspective, less willing to be around a lot of people; I gave myself more space to be alone and reflect on what I wanted. Tracking these changes helped me understand that I’m tied to something much bigger outside of myself. Once I understood this connection, I began manifesting my energy to make the most out of each phase: starting a new workout routine during the new moon, making plans with loved ones the following week, finding a concert or fun outing during the peak of the month, then clearing up my calendar and making time to turn inwards and spend some time by myself as the light disappeared from the night sky. 

Although journaling provided the perfect outlet for me to explore my lunar rhythm, it’s not the only way to tap into your connection (trust me, it’s already there! You just have to tune in). To get a better sense of how we can best channel the moon’s energy and take care of ourselves throughout its phases, I spoke to the ever-so-glamorous witch of the West Coast, Gabriela Herstik, about her personal magick practice of more than a decade and how la luna affects it. Amongst her many writing and styling ventures, Gabriela writes a column called “Ask A Witch” for Nylon Magazine, and her second book, Inner Witch: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Craft, comes out through Penguin Random House in September.

She explained that while the sun represents the conscious, passionate, and  structured sides of ourselves, the moon is more intuitive, mystical, feminine and receptive. Working with the moon, she said, is a form of sympathetic magic in which we imitate our desired outcomes. “From the time it’s new until the time it’s full, as the light grows, we focus on what we want to manifest,” she told me. “As the light wanes, we focus on what we want to vanish.” 

New Moon

“The new moon is a time when we can really focus on our subconscious, our shadows, really getting clear on where we are emotionally.” – Gabriela Herstik

The new moon is like a new slate: the beginning of the cycle. It’s a great time to let go of anything that’s been dragging you down and set your needs and intentions for the month. Gabriela said she likes to take this time to do tarot, journal, and perhaps set a spell for the month. She suggests finding something you want to grow and practice magick related to it each day up until the full moon. For example, if this month you’re looking to focus on your finances, maybe create an altar somewhere in your home and light a money candle each day to harness that energy.

Waxing Quarter Moon

“If you’re on a train from the new moon to the full moon, this is where you get off to see your surroundings and take a look at where you are. It’s a time to check in with yourself.” – Gabriela Herstik

The waxing quarter moon is where you should be implementing the seeds you planted during the new moon. It’s the perfect time to be acting on new projects and ideas and reassessing how that money candle has been going since you started lighting it. Readjust as needed, and also take advantage of the boost in creativity—if inspiration strikes, run with it by all means.

Full Moon

“The full moon is the climax–the most energetically pumped time of the month. Senses are high, connected to the energies around us and the earth.” – Gabriela Herstik

The full moon is the time to pop off. It’s a great time for celebration and hanging out with your friends, as long as you still feel up for it. The most important thing about magick, Gabriela clarified, is honoring yourself and where you are. If it’s been a busy month, maybe channel your full moon energy in a different way–take a special bath, light some candles, play your favorite records, let your new vibrator make a special appearance–whatever feels like the best way for you to enjoy that full moon energy. However, it might not be the best time to go out on a first date or try something new.


“The eclipse opens doors for the next 6-12 months. It’s a perfect time to do any kind of self-care ritual and really honor yourself, while also thinking about the big future.” – Gabriela Herstik

🌕ECLIPSE ENERGY🌕 . We’re cutting through the veil, slithering through the other side and shedding our skin along the way. Do you feel it? Heavy, like a fog or shadow, slowly transforming what lies beneath. Glamours are shifting and we’re being called to see what’s real and what’s not. The Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius is a day away. It’s asking us step back and see from a new perspective. What can we bring with us through this portal? What can we leave behind? This eclipse is major, the longest of this century, and that means whether we like it or not we’re going to transform. Eclipses open doors for the next 6 to 12 months, and while it feels intimidating, all we have to do is step forward✨ . This is a time for introspection and self-care. The perfect chance to reevaluate and see how as individuals (sun in Leo) we fit into the whole (moon in Aquarius.) Take a salt bath, meditate, journal, pray, chant, dance, make love, be self-compassionate, allow yourself to integrate and process🔥 . Tomorrow- tomorrow is when the magick happens. Tomorrow I’ll be posting simple rituals and practices to own this sacred day and energy. Love to you all💥💋💥

A post shared by Gabriela Herstik🗡 (@gabyherstik) on

Surprise, babes! Tonight is both a full moon and a lunar eclipse in Aquarius, which means it’s jam-packed with powerful energy. It’s a great time to make some longer-term plans for yourself and the world around you, since it signifies a new cycle for the next 6-12 months. Gabriela explained that since Aquarius is “the sign of the humanitarian,” a social justice focus is perfect for tonight. Carve out a sacred space yourself with herbs and music, practice deep breathing, and write out actions you can take to improve your life as well as others.

Gabriela suggests “lighting a white candle and putting a ring of salt (for protection) around it and speaking names like Nia Wilson into the flame, or the families being affected by Trump’s separations…etc. Taking time to focus on something bigger is really potent. When you’re done, let the candle burn, breathe, ground your energy, and know it is done.”

Waning Moon

“The waning moon is more for me to see where I stand, reflect where I’ve been since the new moon, and let go of anything hindering me from my intentions.” – Gabriela Herstik

This introspective phase is a great time to release, release, release anything that hasn’t been favoring you. Take the time to meditate and really assess what’s working and what isn’t. Gabriela suggests writing out what you want to let go and burning it, or practicing a banishing spell to get rid of that negative force. This is the time to get back in touch with yourself as you gear up for the new moon and the start of the cycle once again.

Feature image via Vanessa Granda



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