The Moon: The Nocturnal Luminary

As the luminary that rules the night, the Moon represents change, travel, the emotional or irrational soul and feminine energy, but its significations depend on its condition in the sky and its proximity to the earthly sphere.

Published Categorized as Fundamentals
Diana rides the chariot of the moon across the heavens. On earth we see sea and maritime activities.
Diana (Artemis) riding the chariot of the moon across the heavens.

Planet  Summary

  • Temperament: Cold and Moist – Phlegmatic
  • Color: White or pale yellowish-white, pale green, or silver
  • Quality: Nocturnal
  • Names: Lucina, Cynthia, Diana, Phoebe
  • Rulership: Cancer
  • Metal: Silver
  • Keywords: Travel, temporary or changeable matters, the emotional/sensitive soul, the unconscious, women and mothers

In the same way that the Sun shines and defines the day by its presence, the Moon is associated with the night. The Sun is the king of the heavens; the Moon, the queen. The two are the luminaries, clearly of a distinct category when compared to the remaining classical planets due to their brightness and size.

In general, classical astrologers considered the Moon to be either equal in power to the Sun or just slightly below it. Since astrology is the study of the lights of the sky, the intense clarity of the Moon is relevant.

In the Ptolemaic understanding of the cosmos, the celestial sphere of the Moon was the closest to our world. For this reason, the Earth was commonly called the sublunar sphere. In this sphere, according to Aristotelian philosophy, things are subject to change and decay, which is a vivid contrast with the skies, where everything moves in a predictable and orderly way. Being the closest planet to Earth, the Moon was considered responsible for receiving all the emanations of the other planets and transmitting them to Earth. In this sense, Aristotle, Ptolemy, and their followers considered the Moon one of the most evident producers of change in our daily lives.

Since the Moon is the closest astronomical object to Earth, its cycles are remarkably different from the other planets. While the Moon takes approximately 28 days to make a complete revolution across the zodiac, the second, third, and fourth fastest planets (in the classical sense of the word) take approximately a year to travel the same trajectory. The speed of the Moon is relevant to a lot of astrological delineations. After a matter of hours, a natal chart can change considerably with the change of the Moon sign, which can affect many different areas of the native’s life. In horary astrology, used to answer general questions, the passage of a few hours could be sufficient to change the Moon’s sign, greatly affecting the answer to a question since the Moon is considered a general significator for all kinds of questions.

Another astronomical characteristic of the Moon is, of course, its phases. In a regular cycle, the Moon increases and decreases in light. This process led to many astrological interpretations by diverse cultures, including the astrology that began in Hellenistic Egypt. There are various interpretations for the Moon, depending on the amount of light it emits: a full Moon is generally more adequate to themes of visibility than the New Moon, which is considered a good moment for hidden actions. Some astrologers would consider the Full Moon especially beneficial in a diurnal chart, since it is full of light, while the New Moon would be the best for a nocturnal chart: a hidden Moon for a dark moment.

The cycles of the Moon derive not only from its motion around the Earth but especially from its synodic cycle. Synodos means encounter, referring to the celestial encounters between the Sun and the Moon. That means that when the Moon is completely opposed to the Sun from an earthly point of view, there is a Full Moon. If they are aligned, there is the New Moon. This means that the Moon takes less time to complete a revolution around the zodiac (around 28 days) than to get to the same phase (around 29.5 days). Its speed and cycles point to classical themes of the Moon: it is not steady but oscillates. It is a signifier of voyages since it does not stay long in one place. The 2nd-century astrologer Vettius Valens even said that the Moon rules travel and wanderings but does not provide straight pathways. This is related to the sign that the Moon rules: Cancer, the crab, a constellation that moves sideways in the sky.

The moon represents woman in general.
A young woman with a moon-shaped head-band (Diana).

Classical Themes of the Moon

Besides travel, another theme of the Moon in ancient astrology is the body and its vitality. An afflicted Moon could indicate diseases, while a strong Moon is a good sign of health. This is related to the proximity of the Moon to the Earth, making it the planet that most affects earthly themes like our physical body.

The Moon is also one of the classical signifiers of the mother and women in general. Most of the planets in classical astrology were considered masculine: the Sun, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. Mercury is considered changeable, while only Venus and the Moon were considered feminine planets.

As a significator of the mother and the body, the Moon is associated with conception. It is essential to consider the situation of the Moon in a pregnancy. It is also the star that represents the mother of the native in most cases, though some astrologers considered that the Moon would signify the mother only in night charts. In daytime charts, Venus would serve as her signifier.

Ptolemy considered the Moon one of the rulers of the mind. It represents the sensitive soul, related to our emotions and our unconscious. Like the tides, our emotions come and go in cycles.

The Moon and the Zodiac

The Moon rules Cancer, is exalted in Taurus, is in detriment in Capricorn, and is in its fall in Scorpio.

The Moon is considered phlegmatic; that is, cold and moist, of the nature of water. Cancer is a sign that agrees with this nature, providing an environment where the Moon can nourish and grow freely. We can think of the abundance of life in the oceans.

Another reason the Moon is well-placed in Cancer is its season: when the Sun is in Cancer, we have the beginning of the summer in the northern hemisphere. At this moment, the days are long, and the nights are short. Since the luminaries are the most brilliant objects in the sky, they have a clear connection with the brightest period of the year, connecting the Moon with Cancer and the Sun with Leo. Besides that, the summer is also a period of abundant life.

Taurus season is the peak of spring, another time of abundant life and ease. The Moon, both nourishing and caring, acts according to its nature in this Venus-ruled sign. It is a place of pleasure, relaxation, abundance, and growing.

Capricorn is contrary to the Moon’s nature: as a Saturn-ruled sign representing the peak of winter, it involves hardships that demand one to be strong and fight discomfort. Even emotionality has no space here, meaning the Moon must manifest in dark territory.

Mars rules Scorpio, a territory of dispute, intrigue, and tension. The Moon feels under attack here—how could it nourish anything? How could it take care of other beings when the air is so thick? For this reason, some classical astrologers considered Scorpio an especially difficult place for the Moon. In elective astrology, the art of selecting the best moment to begin something, the Moon in Scorpio is usually considered as a bad moment. Of course, this does not necessarily apply to natal charts.

The Moon in a Natal Chart

The Moon, as a ruler of the mind, is a key planet for understanding the personality of any person. Its position will influence how the person deals with their unconscious and passion-driven nature, affecting what they like or dislike and their interests.

A dignified Moon acts according to its nature: it will represent people capable of taking care of others, bringing comfort. This is also true for their personal lives, as the native will frequently find themselves in situations of ease. There might be some tendency to wander; that is, to change objectives and even go to new places, whether merely traveling or relocating for the long term. The 9th-century astrologer Abu Mashar described such natives as “forgetting, timid, a flawless heart, cheerful to people, revered by them, flattered by them”.

Diana in her chariot drawn by a pair of women.
The moon goddess (Diana), in her chariot drawn by a pair of women.

Externally, the classical signification indicates a good relationship with the mother or other women, who are the source of various benefits. It can also signify a life of travel that brings good results, a healthy body, and a sane mind.

When poorly positioned, the Moon can indicate difficulties related to its signification. For example, it could indicate a person with a complicated emotional life or one who has difficulty understanding their own emotions and often feels attacked. Another possibility is that the person acts in a very sober way, not showing their emotions, which could be a source of discomfort: this shows an inability to open oneself to others and accept one’s own vulnerability. The sixteenth-century astrologer William Lilly would describe such a native as an “idle person”, one who would just be carried by life, not making efforts to change anything.

Externally, this Moon could indicate that the mother or other women act like enemies of the native or are sources of discomfort. There could be frequent travels that were not desired by the native and that bring about misfortune. Finally, it could indicate that the native’s body is prone to diseases.

Besides all that, the Moon is greatly influenced by the sign it is in and its relationship with other planets, especially the ruler of the sign. This and other factors will modify the expression of the Moon, making the judgment of what is a good and what is a bad Moon something much more complex than just its sign. For example, the Moon in a mercurial place will bring the emotions of the native to a changing, experimental, and study-driven place; if it is in a Sun-ruled sign, there is an urge for truth and expressing themselves. A lot of other factors modify this. Astrology is always an art that considers the totality of the visible sky, with all its symbols and complex relationships: the planets cannot be detached from their context.


  • ABU MA’SHAR. The Significations of the Moon.
  • GUTTMAN, Ariel; JOHNSON, Ken. Mythic Astrology.
  • HOULDING, Deborah. The Moon in Folklore & Science.
  • LILLY, William. Christian Astrology.
  • PLANT, David. The sublunar sphere.
  • TOMPKINS, Sue. Aspects in Astrology. A comprehensive guide to interpretation.
  • TOMPKINS, Sue. The Contemporary Astrologer’s Handbook. An in-depth guide to interpreting your horoscope.
  • VALENS, Vettius. Anthologies.

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