The Difference Between a Dark Moon & New Moon

September 30, 2019 4:31 am Published by

There are two different schools of thought when it comes to differentiating between a new moon and a dark moon. Spoiler alert, there’s not a right or wrong answer. The difference of opinion is between astronomers and Pagans. I’m going to share both schools of thought with you so you can decide what works better for you.

Here’s the short answer to this query. A new moon can be a dark moon, a dark moon can be a new moon, a waxing crescent can be a new moon, but a waxing crescent can’t be a dark moon. Make sense? I know, not really. Allow me to explain!


Cards featured from The Ritual Deck. 

The Astronomer’s New Moon

First, let’s take a look at the astronomer’s viewpoint. For astronomers, the new moon happens when the moon is in between, or in conjunction, with the Earth and Sun. When the moon is in between the Earth and the Sun, it appears entirely dark for us.

I know what you’re probably thinking, sounds like a dark moon, right? No. For astronomers, this point of the moon cycle is considered the new moon because it marks the beginning of a new moon cycle. Most astronomers do not use the term “dark moon,” there’s only the new moon. This is why most moon phase calendars don’t recognize a dark moon phase.

The Pagan’s New Moon

For many Pagans, practicing witches, and moon followers, the dark moon happens when the moon is dark and in conjunction with the Earth and the Sun (the astronomer’s new moon). The new moon follows after the dark moon phase when the moon begins to show the tiniest illumination of its waxing or growth phase.


Cards featured from The Ritual Deck. 

The Importance of The Dark Moon

For Pagan’s and the like, the dark moon phase marks an important phase in the cycle of the moon. The dark moon phase represents a time of rest, integration, and observance. If you’re using the moon for spellwork and manifesting it only makes sense that you would work in a night or two of reflection, especially before the busy energy of the new moon.

The cosmic glow of the Carina Nebula as seen in a stunning 3D reconstruction in Hidden Universe, released in IMAX® theatres and giant-screen cinemas around the globe and produced by the Australian production company December Media in association with Film Victoria, Swinburne University of Technology, MacGillivray Freeman Films and ESO. The Carina Nebula contains two of the most massive and luminous stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way. The original image was taken by ESO's Very Large Telescope.

Astronomers and Pagans obviously use the moon cycles for entirely different purposes, so it’s not surprising that they recognize the phases a little differently. As I said, there’s not a wrong answer here, simply different opinions for different purposes.

Your manifesting won’t be thrown askew if you skip the dark moon phase, but the dark moon will offer you a sweet moment of rest.

Would you like to explore rituals for the new moon and dark moon? Click here for rituals for the new moon and here for rituals for the dark moon.

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About Cassie

Cassie Uhl is a published author, artist, intuitive, and founder of Zenned Out. She created Zenned Out in 2012 with the mission to build a brand that normalizes spirituality. In 2018 she self-published her popular and interactive Goddess Discovery Book series. In 2020 her writing and art became more mainstream with Understanding Auras, Understanding Crystals, and Understanding Chakras, published by The Quarto Group. Her writing style and art combine to help marry accessibility with deep spiritual topics. It is her goal to help others understand and live spiritual practices that can change the world. Inspired by her open-minded grandmother, Cassie has been meditating and working with her energy since her teenage years. She received her 200hr YTT in 2012 with a focus on breathwork. Now, her work focuses on energy work, journeying, mediumship, death midwifery, and healing through traditional Celtic shamanic practices.