Each year, the full Moon in the Hindu month of Ashadha is dedicated to celebrating our gurus. This year’s Guru Purnima falls on the night of July 8th in North America and India, with the Moon reaching peak fullness at 9:07 pm PDT on Saturday. This year, Guru Purnima’s full Moon falls in Purvashada nakshatra (Vedic constellation), in the middle of sidereal Sagittarius, close to the galactic center. The Moon will be opposite the Sun in sidereal Gemini, where we began this lunar cycle.
The Sanskrit word guru is most commonly translated as “teacher.” It refers not only to the mighty spiritual teachers that are often associated with this word, but can indicate teachers in many fields of study or practice. One might have a spiritual guru, a yoga guru, an astrology guru, or even a knitting, cooking, or physics guru. “Gu” is often translated as darkness or ignorance while “ru” implies dispelling, disseminating, or removing. Guru as an adjective often implies grandeur or weight, frequently translated as “heavy,” which is a way that one might describe our most influential teachers. Students of jyotish will also recognize Guru as the name for Jupiter, who even the ancients knew as a large and profoundly influential planet. His influence in our lives is often in the realms of higher teachings and philosophy, and his position in someone’s natal chart can tell us about their path of learning and relationships with teachers. (For more rumination on the concept of guru in general, check out previous years’ articles.)
Each month, as the Moon waxes and wanes his way through the ecliptic, he undergoes 30 phases known as tithis in Vedic astrology. Although the transition is smooth, the tithis are delineated distinctly, and each one carries a certain supportive energy. The purnima phase, roughly a day long, is the fullest phase of the Moon, with the peak of fullness happening at the last moment of the phase (given as Full Moon time), before the light on the Moon begins to recede again as we enter the waning phase.
Purnima is generally thought of as the most auspicious phase of the month, and is positive for most activities, especially spiritual activities. There is a harmony of lunar and solar energy at this time. The Moon influences the ebb and flow of our watery emotions and our state of mind. We are most able to perceive this subtle body within when the outer Moon is fully illuminated. It is also a time where opposite poles within us (and in the external solar system), are both illuminated at the same time. Wherever the Full Moon occurs, it is on the exact opposite side of the zodiac from the Sun. On this Full Moon, the Sun is illuminating the Gemini part of the sky while the Moon’s light brightens Sagittarius for us. We are better able to integrate the two opposite poles within us when this occurs.
Sagittarius Full Moon
The Sagittarius section of the sky carries an energy of optimism and idealism, under Jupiter’s idealistic rulership. With the Moon here we are inspired to act on our beliefs, and share our purpose with the world. There is a great charitable nature here. Sagittarius is opposite from Gemini, where Sun and Moon began this lunar cycle, which is a place of much more practicality and impartiality, ruled by Mercury. On this full Moon we are able to see a better path towards balancing our flexible, curious, intellectual side (airy Gemini) with our passionate and idealistic side (firey Sagittarius).
The Vedic sky is divided into 27 sections or nakshatras, along the same band of the ecliptic as we see the twelve major zodiac signs. These smaller sections give us much more information about the energy coming from that part of the cosmos, and the mood that the planets will take on as they pass there. This Full Moon falls in Purva Ashadha nakshatra, known as “the invincible one.” There is a great deal of optimism and power here, so this could be a great time to face some fears and challenges that require confrontation. The water deity Apas presides here, strengthening our connection to the water element and our inner sensitivity.
As you tune into your own heart under the Guru Purnima full Moon, acknowledge the teachers and gurus who have and continued to support you along your journey. This is a particularly auspicious day for honoring them, upholding tradition, and even setting intentions for new paths of learning or teaching that you plan to follow.
Jupiter, Venus & Saturn
The Guru planet himself is in Hasta nakshatra at the moment, the sign of “the hand,” which adds even more expansion to our opportunities for learning and strengthening our skills. He is also aspecting Venus, who is now in Taurus, his own sign. Venus in Taurus (most of this month), elevates the artistry in our life, bringing more beauty and amplifying our connection with all sensual pleasures — nature, art, music, food, and our surroundings in general.
With this aspect it could be a good month to improve your material situation … but be aware that retrograde Saturn is also aspecting Venus now, having just transited back into sidereal Scorpio. While Jupiter’s aspect helps us to expand in Venusian endeavors, Saturn’s disciplinarian mood may bring up feelings of restriction. Take this as a lesson to broaden your vision and look at the long-term results of your decisions. Indulging in your pleasures now may require a bit of hard-work and commitment because of Saturn’s influence, but that is a reminder of the effort we will need to put forth over time to support our actions.
Next Tuesday brings Guru Purnima on the Full Moon in Capricorn. The peak of the full Moon will occur on July 19, 2016 at 3:57 pm PDT. Purnima is the full Moon phase of the month, and guru means remover of darkness, but is commonly translated as teacher. Guru Purnima is an auspicious time for celebrating our teachers. Under the light of the full Moon, we give thanks for the illumination and wisdom that they have brought into our lives. Guru is also the planetary name for Jupiter (in Sanskrit and Vedic astrology), who represents the principles of expansion and inspiration in our lives.
This full Moon falls at 3 degrees of sidereal Capricorn, highlighting our quest for structure to support to our feminine, yin essence. Capricorn is a feminine earth sign and is ruled by Saturn, the planet that drives our focus towards the bigger picture. Saturn makes us remember the eternal nature of our soul, and through Capricorn, he inspires practical action in the earth realm to help us to protect and support our soul’s evolution. This full Moon will help us to remember to rise to meet our responsibilities and persevere through any difficulties we are facing.
This Capricorn energy offers a great time to tap into your spiritual practices. It’s time to bring them into the earthly realm, rather than just thinking about them. Capricorn is practical, and that means it’s time to practice. Sit down on the ground and connect with your crystals, cards, malas, or instruments. Practice also includes doing your duty as well as selfless service. Service that upholds the teachings of your gurus can be a special offering you make on this day.
In the Vedic calendar this full Moon and Guru Purnima fall on the nakshatra of Uttara Ashadha. This star-sign is ruled by the Vishvadevas, the 10 lords of dharma. Dharma refers to our duty in life, both earthly and spiritual. These will both be illuminated for us on this full Moon. Uttara Ashadha constellation bridges Sagittarius and Capricorn, signs ruled by Jupiter and Saturn. Its energy supports holding high ideals, and the commitment needed to support them. In remembering our teachers we will also remember our highest values and our purpose. It is said that in addition to each individual’s unique purpose in this life, we all share the higher purpose of attaining self-realization.
At the time of the full Moon, the Sun will be opposite Capricorn, in sidereal Cancer. We are at the point in the cycle where we need to harmonize the energy of these two signs, balancing our watery emotional nature with our practical earthy side. With the Sun in Cancer, we find our strength through the heart and our intuition. The Moon in Capricorn balances this by bringing our focus towards the earth realm and the bigger picture, while our emotional sensitivity and intuition is heightened.
The bigger picture and our long-term goals and commitments are definitely on our minds right now because of Saturn’s influence. This Full Moon is receiving an aspect from retrograde Saturn in sidereal Scorpio. Since March, Saturn has appeared to move backwards in retrograde motion, causing us to backtrack and reconsider our long-term commitments in a few specific areas of life. (The areas of life indicated by Scorpio, Capricorn and Aquarius in your Vedic chart have been under scrutinization, or may have just felt stuck.)
There is one month left during Saturn retrograde. This is our time to really go inward, finding our truth, facing our fears, and determining the long-term direction we want to pursue. We feel a lot of pressure here now because Mars is once again joining Saturn in Scorpio, and will be for the next two months. The two will come head-to-head in late August (within one degree of each other), and we will need to really stay centered to maintain balance amidst this energy.
Jupiter is also getting ready to move signs in about one month, transiting fully from sidereal Leo to Virgo. For the last year he has been in sidereal Leo, and personal beliefs and self-empowerment have been getting a lot of attention. Since January, the shadow planet Rahu has also been joining him there, inciting some very radical ideas and power-struggles. When Jupiter transits into Virgo in mid-August, we will feel a shift towards more grounded philosophies, at large, and more trends towards practical thinking. This transit will also have profound effects for each individual based on where Virgo lies in your chart. You will feel a boost of energy for the next year in this area of life. (Be sure to sign up for free updates at my site to receive your personal Jupiter in Virgo forecast, coming soon to your inbox).
As my guru says, “May we all become lamps spreading light to the world, and may grace help us to achieve this.” This Guru Purnima on the full Moon in Capricorn, connect with your teachers and that which inspires you most.
With the upcoming shifts of Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter, now is a great time to book a personal reading to see what will be changing for you. Be sure to sign up here to receive your free personal forecasts and Vedic Astrology news.
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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.
The new lunar cycle begins tonight at 7:31 pm PDT. This dark Moon night finds four planets in the Vedic nakshatra called Ardra, located within the Gemini section of the sky. This nakshatra is actually located at the star Betelguese (also known as Alpha Orionis), a red supergiant star within the constellation of Orion. The Sun and Moon converge here tonight at 8° of sidereal Gemini, with Mercury close by at 11° and Mars at 18°. Aligned with the outermost edges of our galaxy, there is a powerful yet stormy energy to this nakshatra, and the month ahead may bring some intense changes, followed by a sense of renewal.
Rudra is the deity for this nakshatra, and he is a fierce form of Lord Shiva associated with storms and destruction. In Vedic thought, however, we recognize that the destructive aspect of creation is actually what allows change, transformation, and rebirth (sometimes I think of it as the cosmic composting process). Ardra nakshatra is often represented by a teardrop, which symbolizes the letting go that comes before new chapters begin. It is associated with the spring rains as well, which denotes the energy of renewal. After an intense storm the grounds are always moist and rich, and it is then that they are most fertile for new life to begin.
Nevertheless, when planets are in this part of the sky we often see rather intense and disruptive events worldwide. Since this alignment occurs on a new Moon, the energy is more inwardly directed, however, which could imply more inner work and processing, rather than outward turmoil … but some purification through disruptive cleansing or turbulence is still a possibility.
As this nakshatra aligns with the middle of Gemini, there is also a strongly intellectual and research-oriented quality to this new Moon, and the coming month. Gemini is the most flexible and quick-thinking of all the signs, as a mutable air-sign ruled by Mercury. Mercury is currently in his own sign, which opens up our curiosity, intellect, and analytical nature. Since he is so close to the Sun, however, he is combust at the moment, which can add a bit too much heat to our minds, and may cause our communication efforts to fail before completion. Mars is also nearby, adding even more heat (and aggression) to Mercury, so be careful not to allow your speech to become too intense, angry, or argumentative.
We can channel the power of this alignment by calling in discipline (from Mars), purification (from the Sun), and a heart-alignment (from the Moon), as we pursue research, communication, and learning this month. Travel is also a strong possibility, given so much mobile energy behind the planets. Gemini also gives us a strong ability to see both sides of a situation or argument. Represented by a pair of twins (or partners), Gemini represents both sides of a mirror at once, and really allows us to be more impartial and step into another’s shoes while reasoning. As of yesterday, Saturn is no longer aspecting Gemini, which frees us up from the pressure that he was putting on all the planets here for the last few weeks. He is still in a tight spot known as gandanta, however, and stronger feelings of constriction may persist for a few more weeks.
Saturn is now in Scorpio, and will continue there through late October. He is still in retrograde motion until the end of August, during which time we are feeling more introspective about our work and commitments. This is the last stretch of a roughly three-year transit of Saturn through Scorpio, which has brought some deep evaluation of our commitment to facing our fears and vulnerabilities, and putting in the hard work necessary for our personal path to transformation. There was also a lot of pressure and consideration of goals in the area of life indicated by Scorpio in each individual’s natal chart, and we the next for months are a time to re-affirm our insights and commitments here.*
The full Moon coming on July 8th is the one known as Guru Purnima, an auspicious day for giving thanks for all our teachers and gurus. This is a great time to acknowledge all those who have served your learning and evolution, including spiritual, theoretical, and vocational teachers. It is also a great chance to call forth the teacher within yourself, and recognize your potential to share what you have learned with others to whom your knowledge or experience may be of service. Guru is the name for Jupiter in Sanskrit, so it is also an auspicious time to connect with this planet.
*If you are already on my mailing list, you should have received the Saturn Retrograde Guide with Saturn-in-Scorpio forecast for your sign, either in April 2016 or when you joined the list, whichever is more recent. (Search your inbox for it if you’re already on the list!) If you’ve not yet joined the list, you can get the Saturn Retrograde Guide by signing up here, for free!
We enter the eye of the storm on the Gemini New Moon this July 4th. With Sun and Moon in Ardra nakshatra, the Dark Moon night of July 3rd offers an opportunity for cleansing and renewal. Ardra nakshatra is a stormy and transformational place in the zodiac. The new lunar cycle begins on July 4th at 4:01am PDT. Ardra (also called Arudra) is a Vedic star-sign known as “the moist one.”
Ardra is related to the deity Rudra, the fierce and destructive form of Shiva. Rudra is often depicted in a violent storm. When the clouds part, the time after intense rains is a period of renewal. The storm washes away the old and makes the ground fertile for something new to sprout.
A teardrop is another symbol related to Ardra nakshatra, signifying sorrow, but also the process of emotional purification. Tears can be very cleansing. Rudrakshas are the sacred seeds seen in malas (prayer beads) worn by Shiva. They are translated as “the tears of Rudra.” On this Dark Moon night, what calls you to shed your tears in order to clear a path and nourish the grounds for something new to grow?
Amidst the sorrow and destruction brought forth by this transformative deity, there remains a stillness at the center of the storm. Shiva is well known as the greatest of yogis, because of his ability to abide in peaceful meditation despite any chaos happening around him. He remains still in the midst of the ongoing destruction and renewal happening throughout the cosmos. By tuning into our own center, we can awaken pure consciousness, which helps us to weather any storm.
A third image relating to Ardra is the diamond, a clear and luminous gemstone formed after enduring intense heat and pressure. Like the diamond, Ardra reminds us that we are warriors who can withstand any austerity and challenge and come out clearer and more brilliant. This is definitely a warrior nakshatra. Ardra is related to Rahu, the planet who connects us to our deepest psychological shadows. By facing these, he helps us to grow and mature.
This New Moon initiates a lunar cycle abundant with Gemini energy. It begins on Monday with the Sun, Moon, Venus and Mercury all in sidereal Gemini. Gemini, ruled by Mercury, brings a playful and versatile energy to our lives. We begin this month in a collective energy of curiosity and flexibility. This is a great time to explore some new interests or skills. With Mercury in Gemini we are feeling very open-minded. We are ready to explore many different possibilities and look at life from a new angle. With Venus in Gemini, our desires are diverse as well, and we may seek satisfaction through many avenues.
One caveat to all this Gemini energy: be conscious of the elevated air element and vata dosha in the atmosphere. This can lead us to can easily feel overstimulated, in the mind, body, and nervous system. You may notice you have been hyperactive lately, which can quickly lead to exhaustion. Take time this month to connect with the earth and water elements. This will help to create balance with the prevalent air and fire elements. Six out of nine planets are in air signs at the time that this new lunar cycle begins, and Rahu and Jupiter remain in firey Leo. Also be aware that Mars turned direct on June 29th, and is now moving forward, giving us more fire-power, strength and courage.
The upcoming Full Moon of this cycle, on July 19th, is Guru Purnima. This is the traditional day for honoring our teachers, or gurus. The guru is literally the dispeller of darkness, and darkness is the cloak of ignorance. If we have been blessed to find someone who has helped to remove darkness or ignorance from our lives, today is a great day to offer our thanks to them.
Definitely take some time to sit on the ground and connect with the earth on this airy New Moon in Gemini. Find your heart center and call on the water element, letting the rains (or tears) wash over you in order to help you to purify and make fertile grounds for a new chapter of growth in your life. Gemini relates to the arms, shoulders and chest, so doing some heart- and shoulder-opening exercises or asanas will be helpful in this time. You can connect with Ardra’s deity, Rudra, and call in the consciousness and peace of Lord Shiva by chanting “Om Namah Shivaya.”
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