When I began studying astrology, I imagined that sexy Venus and passionate Mars held the secrets to understanding love. After all, most youthful dreams of future soul mates feature torrid tangos of passion and enthrallment. The notion of ending up in a relationship like Mom and Dad's—so little kissing, so much bill-paying!—tends to fill idealistic young hearts with horror. And yet, more often than not, when we finally settle down into a committed partnership, we find ourselves reenacting much of what we saw our parents doing in their relationship.
Decades later, a career spent studying the astrology of relationships (not to mention seventeen years of marriage) has taught me that there are really two different narratives that underscore every romantic partnership. One, driven by the passionate eroticism of sexual chemistry, certainly does seem to be reflected in the astrology of Venus and Mars. But the other, a quieter tale of compatible temperaments and united purpose, seems better illustrated by the astrological connection between the Sun and Moon.
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all definition of an ideal partnership. Some couples thrive on friction, while others crave ease. Some like to flirt, others prefer to fight. The lunar phase at your birth, representing the relationship between the Sun (masculine) and the Moon (feminine), describes the partnership style that comes naturally to you. The rapport between the Sun and Moon in your birth chart is a dance of the lights, illuminating the personal relationship fairy tale that lives in your subconscious, a story drawn from observing your parents, reading books, and absorbing messages from television shows and movies. Understanding your natal lunar phase can help you understand why you keep having the same kind of relationships again and again—and how to make relationship choices that are truly satisfying.
How to Find the Lunar Phase at Your Birth
Finding the Moon's current phase is easy: just look up in the sky! Locating your natal lunar phase, however, is a little more complicated. Fortunately, many computerized birth charts include your natal lunar phase.
If you have a copy of your birth chart but it doesn't show your natal lunar phase, here's a relatively easy way to find it. First, find the sign opposite your Sun sign. Now, move around the circle counterclockwise until you reach your natal Moon. If the Moon lies between the opposition point and the Sun, then you were born between the Full Moon and New Moon. If your finger has to pass over your Sun (moving counterclockwise) before it reaches the Moon, you were born between the New Moon and the Full Moon. Combine this information with the natal aspect (if any) between your Sun and Moon to find your natal Lunar Phase in the table below. For example, if you were born between the New and Full Moons and there is a trine aspect between the Sun and Moon in your birth chart, you were born during the first quarter Moon. Remember that the movement around the chart is counterclockwise.
|Phase||Begins When the Moon Is…||Sun-Moon Aspects (Degrees)|
|New Moon||0° ahead of Sun||conjunction (0), semisextile (30)|
|Crescent Moon||45° ahead of Sun||semisquare (45), sextile (60)|
|Second Quarter Moon||90° ahead of Sun||square (90), trine (120)|
|Gibbous Moon||135° ahead of Sun||sesqui-square (135), quincunx (150)|
|Full Moon||180° ahead of Sun||opposition (180)|
|Disseminating Moon||225° ahead of Sun (135° behind Sun)||quincunx (150), sesqui-square (135), trine (120)|
|Fourth Quarter Moon||270° ahead of Sun (90° behind Sun)||square (90), sextile (60)|
|Balsamic Moon||315° ahead of Sun (45° behind Sun)||semisquare (45), semisextile (30)|
New Moon (Moon 0 degrees ahead of Sun)
Born at the New Moon, your ideal relationship is one in which each partner is completely in the other's corner—in which each supports the other's goals unconditionally and will move heaven and Earth to see that they are reached. If the Sun and Moon are 30–45 degrees apart or in different signs, your interests and temperaments will probably be quite different, but you still need to feel that you and your partner are one another's greatest boosters.
Boasting one of Hollywood's most enduring marriages (to actress Joanne Woodward), actor Paul Newman was born at the New Moon. "Joanne has always given me unconditional support in all my choices and endeavors," Newman was quoted as saying, "and that includes my race car driving, which she deplores. To me, that's love." Likewise, First Lady Nancy Reagan, born just after a New Moon in Cancer, was fiercely protective of her husband, President Ronald Reagan, both during his political career and during his long illness from Alzheimer's disease.
If you were born at the New Moon, you will need to guard against the extremes of codependency in relationships, or avoiding relationships altogether! What you seek is the elusive, happy medium: a relationship in which each person is whole and independent, yet completely devoted to (and respectful of) the other.
Crescent Moon (Moon 45 degrees ahead of Sun)
Born at the Crescent Moon, relationships feel most natural to you when they're challenging and stimulating. If your Sun and Moon are close to the 45 degree semisquare that begins this phase, the friction of living alongside another person—like the irritant that stimulates a mollusk to produce a pearl—forces you to strive for achievement and self-improvement. If you were born near the waxing sextile (60 degrees), you like relationships with those who are enough like you in temperament for you to feel comfortable, but just different enough to keep you interested.
Both types of Crescent Moon phase people seem to thrive on togetherness. Chef Julia Child, born at the waxing semisquare, was described as being determined to maintain, "that lovely intertwining of life, mind, and soul that a good marriage is." "We are a team," she often said of her husband. "We do everything together."
Paul McCartney, born at the waxing sextile, had a long and famously close relationship with his wife, Linda. As McCartney told People magazine, "The only eleven days we ever did not spend the night together was when I got put in jail in Japan for pot. That's quite amazing."
Second Quarter Moon (Moon 90 degrees ahead of Sun)
Born at the second quarter Moon, you're direct, action-oriented, and at your best with a partner who approaches life in the same way. If you were born close to the waxing Sun/Moon square (90 degree), you gravitate toward partners who are temperamentally quite different from you, or who move at a different pace. The resulting friction provides a powerful catalyst for achievement (and sometimes for arguments).
Elizabeth Edwards, late estranged wife of former U.S. vice presidential hopeful John Edwards, was born at the waxing square. A woman of formidable intellect and determination, she was a trusted political advisor to her husband, perhaps because she was known to disagree with her husband publicly if she felt strongly on an issue.
If you were born near the waxing Sun/Moon trine (120 degrees), you prefer a partner who is as dynamic as you are and who moves at your speed. You'll dash through life together as though it were a relay race, passing the baton back and forth and spurring each other on to great achievement. Bandleader and television pioneer Desi Arnaz was born with a waxing Sun/Moon trine, and while their marriage had its problems, his business partnership with wife Lucille Ball changed the face of television.
Gibbous Moon (Moon 135 degrees ahead of Sun)
Those born during the Gibbous Moon phase don't expect relationships to be easy. If your Sun and Moon are close to the 135 degree sesquisquadrate aspect, one of the most important relationship lessons you'll learn is how to recognize the moment when persisting with a difficult relationship has become the equivalent of flogging a dead horse.
If you're born with the Sun and Moon close to the 150 degree quincunx, compromise and adjustment present critical challenges in your relationships. Prince Charles, born at the waxing Sun/Moon quincunx, reportedly married Princess Diana as a compromise. He had reached "marrying age," and her background and appearance made her an appropriate choice. But the temperaments of a middle-aged man and a bride just out of her teens were ultimately too different to make the marriage a success.
Eventually Prince Charles was free to marry his old flame, Camilla Parker-Bowles. Even then, however, compromises and adjustments had to be made. Upon the death of Pope John Paul II, their ceremony had to be rescheduled to avoid a conflict with the funeral. The groom's parents did not attend the civil ceremony, possibly because of the sensitivity of the Queen's position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. And the bride has chosen to be addressed as Duchess of Cornwall rather than Princess of Wales, a title closely associated with Charles' first wife.
Full Moon (Moon 180 ahead of Sun)
If you were born during the Full Moon phase, relationships are more than important to you—they're an essential part of how you learn about yourself. Your desire to find balance in all relationships can propel you—with varying degrees of success—into partnerships with those of opposite temperament, or who seem like surprising choices of the "odd couple" variety. Opposites attract and can certainly be complementary; but because you're extremely sensitive to the moods of others and often unconsciously adopt them, it's important that you surround yourself with close partners whose best traits reinforce your own.
For some Full Moon phase people, there may be a sense of being "on stage" in your relationships, of playing a role; in the case of entertainers, this is sometimes literally the case. Roseanne Barr, born during the Full Moon phase, parlayed her real life as a housewife into a stand-up comedy routine and enormously popular television series. That marriage didn't last, but her role as a "Domestic Goddess" certainly did!
Full Moon people may also serve as a sort of mirror that reflects the true nature or condition of their partner, or even of their partner's family. Diana, Princess of Wales was also born at the Full Moon. In her marriage to Prince Charles, Diana performed the role of princess to near perfection, looking the part at state occasions and producing two sons—"an heir and a spare"—to the throne. But she claimed she was hurt by her husband's infidelity, and when neglected, a Full Moon person can turn rebellious. Diana's modern expecations and defiant nature turned into a public-relations nightmare for the royal family. Even her untimely death compelled Buckingham Palace to defend itself against public disapproval over its handling of the situation.
Disseminating (Moon 225 degrees ahead of Sun)
The Disseminating phase is similar to the Gibbous: both include the sesquiquadrate and quincunx aspects between the Sun and Moon, but the Disseminating phase also includes a waning trine. If you're born with the Sun/Moon quincunx during this phase, you may feel wary of or even trapped in relationships, especially when you're young. The Disseminating phase symbolizes the urge to spread one's words and ideas far and wide, and that can cause problems in conventional relationships. In fact, for some—like many-partnered Warren Beatty, born at the waning sesqui-square—this can be a Goldilocks and the Three Bears lunar phase, as you cycle through a succession of partners who seem promising but end up being not quite right. Of course, the flaws or weaknesses we perceive in our partners usually reveal more about us than about them.
If you're born close to the waning trine, you may find it easier to eventually settle down in a contented, comfortable partnership—sometimes (like much-married actress Elizabeth Taylor) more than one! For some born with this aspect, simply finding a partner can feel a bit like the relief of putting salve on an itchy rash. But if you've come to terms with your own questing nature and chosen wisely, it can also be the relief of discovering the right partner—one who finds the world as fascinating as you do, and wants to spend life exploring it with you.
Fourth Quarter Moon (Moon 270 degrees ahead of Sun)
Born at the fourth quarter phase, you need a partner who supports your enormous ambition and can offer understanding, patience, and practical skills to help you. Yours is a restless, driven soul, and it takes the right kind of person to live comfortably with someone who is always somewhat dissatisfied with the status quo. Eleanor Roosevelt, born at the waning square (90 degrees), is best remembered as the formidable wife of one of America's greatest presidents. In her own right, however, she was an independent and politically adept author, speaker, and crusader for human and civil rights.
If you were born closer to the Sun/Moon sextile (60 degrees), there is a greater emphasis on conversation, ideas, and friendship with your partner. You seek, above all, a partner who can make you laugh—and who "gets" you. Oscar-winner Meryl Streep, born close to a waning sextile, has been happily married to sculptor Don Gummer since 1978. Of her marriage, she has said, "My husband understands the compulsion to create things. With somebody who had a regular job, I think it might have been harder to translate those creative impulses and the need to satisfy them..."
Balsamic Phase (Moon 315 degrees ahead of Sun)
The Balsamic lunar phase is the Moon's dark time. It is symbolic of our need for rest and our connection to the psychic and spiritual realms. For those born during the Balsamic phase, relationships may feel karmically charged; a series of relationships, or even just one that is characterized by emotional drama and artistic expression, may be a way of tying up karmic loose ends. And because the Balsamic phase can be connected to illness, health issues may also play an important role in your relationships.
Painter Frida Kahlo was born during the Balsamic phase. Chronic pain and other health problems were a motif that ran throughout her life and art. She married painter Diego Rivera—twice—in passionate but tumultuous unions marked by both partners' infedility. Yet Kahlo and Rivera also inspired and supported one another, producing some of their most acclaimed works while together.
Born at the waning semisextile, Betty Ford enjoyed a long and generally happy marriage to President Gerald Ford. Along the way, however, she suffered a nervous breakdown, an addiction to pills and alcohol, and a highly public struggle with breast cancer. She's perhaps best remembered for her frank public revelations, supported by her husband, about her recovery from addiction, which prompted her to co-found the famous Betty Ford Center for alcohol and drug rehabilitation.
The lunar phases are a dance of light, the Sun and Moon's elaborate pas de deux of anima and animus. Each of us is an amalgam of both proactive (Sun) and reactive (Moon) energy, and our closest relationships reflect both sides of our natures. The soli-lunar ballet calls us to the barre from the moment of birth, outlining the steps we need to learn and suggesting the shape and movements of our ideal dance partner.
Your lunar phase relationship style may be an easy waltz, a complicated reel, or a jubilant fox-trot. Whatever style is right for you, I wish you joy and fortune in finding a partner who can match your steps and, above all, help you enjoy the dance.
From Llewellyn's 2012 Moon Sign Book. Click here for current-year calendars, almanacs, and datebooks.