The Full Moon in sidereal Capricorn occurs tonight, in the early hours of July 31st, at 3:43 am PDT. It is called a “blue moon” in the West since it is the second full moon within a Gregorian calendar month (July). In Hindu culture this full Moon is celebrated as Guru Purnima. Purnima refers to the fullest-Moon lunar day each month, and in the lunar month of Ashadha (around June or July each year), it is called Guru Purnima. This is a day for celebrating our teachers (like Teachers’ Appreciation Day!), academic, artisanal, and especially the spiritual teacher or sat guru.
Guru is often translated as “remover of darkness,” and sometimes as “one who is devoid of form or qualities.” By imparting knowledge that we did not already possess, a teacher removes ignorance or darkness from our minds. An enlightened master or sat guru is one who has gone beyond all qualities where he or she perceives themselves as separate from the rest of creation. One who fully identifies with oneness is beyond the ego, and therefore fit to help guide others along the path to freedom from it. The goal of freedom from the ego is one way of describing the quest for happiness that is shared amongst all humans. When we become free from the grips of the small ego that separates everything into good and bad, my and mine, that leaves space to experience creation as the miracle of unity and love that it is. This ultimately fosters more bliss, peace, compassion and service, spreading happiness across the world like a bright beaming light.
We all have teachers that have helped illuminate the way to bliss, and tonight under the full Moon we celebrate them! Often, when we look up to someone as a spiritual teacher or sat guru, it is because we see in them the unity consciousness that we would like to feel within ourselves. They are a reflection of our own heart in its most open state. Last year on Guru Purnima, my teacher Amma put it beautifully: “Our inner relationship or bond of love with the guru is actually the unity we feel towards our own True Self—the Atman. So, we should not mistake the love or closeness we have towards our guru as mere external closeness. We are turning inwards and getting closer to our True Self because the guru is not the mere body. The guru is also the pure God consciousness that is beyond all names and forms. This is why attraction to the guru leads us to freedom” (Mata Amritanandamayi, July 12, 2014, Toronto).
This Guru Purnima falls in the Vedic nakshatra of Shravana. The symbolism of this star-sign is very fitting for Guru Purnima. One symbol of the star is the ear, which represents hearing, listening (especially for wisdom), and learning. Under the brightness of the Full Moon in this sign we can listen closely for the knowledge that is being offered from the universe and our teachers, both external and internal. Take some time in meditation this evening to see what you hear from the ethers.
The deity for Shravana is Lord Vishnu, and its other symbol is a set of three footprints, referring to Vishnu’s footprints. In one particular story, Vishnu took the form of a small boy called Vamana and went to visit Bali, a demon (asura) king who had taken over the three worlds. Bali was still devoted to the Lord and traditions, however, and so during a festival he upheld the rule that he would grant the wishes of any Brahmin who came to him. Vishnu appeared as Vamana and requested three paces of land from Bali. When his wish was granted, he transformed from his small size to his true enormity that could cover the three worlds. With his first step he paced off earth and the underworld, with his second he covered heaven, and with his third he stepped on Bali’s head, who offered it in humility at that point. For this humility Vishnu offered him immortality. Shravana helps remind us, on Guru Purnima, the importance of humility to God and the grace that can be achieved through it. When we remember the power of the supreme divinity behind everything, and do our best to uphold dharma, only then can we be freed from the small self and gain immortality.
This full Moon is also the midpoint of a Cancer cycle which began with the New Moon on the cusp of Gemini and Cancer earlier this month. Watery, moon-ruled Cancer compels us to look into our nurturing, motherly sides, and may bring to our attention themes of the home and where we find our comfort emotionally. With the full Moon in Capricorn, on the opposite side of the zodiac, we feel the contrast of this energy with the Saturn-ruled earth sign, which compels us to be practical. Both signs are feminine and concerned with family. The Capricorn full Moon helps us to remember our responsibilities and how to go about them in a practical way, compelling us to seek a balance between earthy sensibility and our watery emotional body.
Mars moved into his debilitated placement in Cancer today, so we may feel a bit of the fire taken out of our guts while he transits this relaxed, tender sign. Venus is making his retrograde course back towards Jupiter in early Leo, where we’ll see the two meet again on August 3rd, bringing up a contrast between our values and desires. Saturn, who has been retrograde in sidereal Scorpio since mid-March, is stationing now and will slowly start moving forward again tomorrow, August 1st. His retrograde course gave us a chance to really look at and re-evaluate our commitment to transformation, and see what possible changes we needed to make in order to achieve our long-term goals within that realm. It’s likely that we have seen where we need more discipline, or detachment, in order to achieve the goals of our inner spiritual warrior (Scorpio). This is another great reason to celebrate our teachers right now, as we begin moving forward with the knowledge we have gained through retrograde Saturn.
Cancer and Capricorn represent a certain house axis for each Vedic rising sign, and the themes of this axis will be particularly potent in your own self-reflection this Full Moon. As well, it’s a good time to re-examine what houses Saturn rules for you, as well as what house Scorpio is in your chart. You’ll likely feel stronger clarity with the themes of these houses now, and they may feel “unstuck” compared to how they have been the last few months. Career energy as well as spiritual commitment may feel like they are back in forward-motion for many of us now. Take this time to give thanks for all your teachers, tune in with your inner ear for wisdom, and bask in the lovely moonlight of the Cancer-Capricorn axis tonight.