The full Moon in Aries will reach peak fullness for this cycle on Friday, November 3rd at 10:22 pm PDT. This full Moon falls in sidereal Aries, opposite the Sun, Jupiter and Venus (all in sidereal Libra). It will be in the Vedic nakshatra called Bharani, a portal of birth, death, and rebirth. Quite a fitting coincidence for the week of Halloween and the Day of the Dead. The veil between realms is thin while the Moon traverses this sign, especially during peak fullness.
Full Moon in Aries
The Aries full Moon illuminates our innate animal instinct and power, as well as our individual strength. Aries is naturally the first sign of the zodiac, and is the masculine (active) expression of its ruler, Mars. Aries energy directs us to find and express our individual strength. It brings out our warrior side, which needs to move through the world in a certain way to survive. With the Moon full in Aries, we are reminded of our most basic drives, and may feel compelled to express our individual strength and courage.
This is especially important this lunar cycle, which began with the Sun and Moon in Libra. The Sun is still in Libra, where he is considered debilitated. That is because during this transit we tend to spend a lot of our energy caring for others and balancing external situations. Self-care is often neglected under this placement, and it is easy to become depleted, physically and spiritually, as we try to balance too much and manage others more than ourselves.
When the Moon waxes to fullness in Aries, we will find more remembrance of what it feels like to be a strong and healthy individual. There is some danger of exerting too much strength here, by getting into arguments, but there is a benefic influence shining on this Moon from the presence of both Jupiter and Venus, opposite, in Libra.
The full Moon within Aries is also in the Vedic star-sign called Bharani, “the bearer. This adds more auspiciousness to the Western associations of All Hallow’s Eve and Day of the Dead. Bharani’s symbol is the yoni (the female reproductive organ), and its deity is Lord Yama, the god of death. This imagery elicits the idea of a portal between the realms of life and death, which will be fully illuminated on Friday under this full Moon.
Whether you are celebrating the Christian or Mexican holidays mentioned, now is an excellent time to contemplate these things, and offer prayers for those who are on a journey between these realms. It is also a potent day to consider what in your life is ready for its death, or composting, and what seeds you are ready to nurture with your energetic womb medicine. Creative energy will be high during this full Moon, especially with the expansive influence of Jupiter and artistic influence of Venus in Libra, giving direct aspects to this Full Moon.
Saturn in Sagittarius
On October 26th, Saturn finally completed his 2.5-year transit of Scorpio and entered sidereal Sagittarius, where he will now remain until January 23, 2020. Throughout this time, Shani (Saturn) will compel us to reexamine our fears and responsibilities, especially where they relate to social service and taking action for our higher principles and beliefs. It’s likely that we’ll see a lot of people getting much more serious about these things, and taking a stand through committed actions that support a social cause or principle.
We will re-evaluate our approach to hard work and commitment to our beliefs, as well as in the specific area of life indicated by Sagittarius in our personal Vedic natal chart. By grace, this will be a period where we are really able to sort through our philosophies and commit only to the highest, and the corresponding actions that support them. It will be a three-year process of re-evaluating our long term goals and values, and reconsidering how we approach hard work and responsibility (in regards to our beliefs, and to the area of life indicated by Sagittarius in our natal chart). For some folks, this is the beginning (or end) of some intense saturnine influences, like Saturn’s “return”, and Sade Sati. (See full article to find out if you are affected.)
During this full Moon we will have an exchange between Mercury and Mars. Mercury moves into sidereal Scorpio (ruled by Mars) on November 1st, and Mars is still transiting sidereal Virgo (ruled by Mercury). The exchange of rulership here adds a harmony between the two planets, mitigating that potential for arguing mentioned earlier. With the planet of courage and strength (Mars) working amiably with the planet of intellect and communication (Mercury), there’s a likelihood that we will be able to express our power with more grace and impartiality.
Jupiter and Venus
Venus will move into his own sign of Libra on November 2nd. This will definitely boost our creative drive. It also adds to the desire to bring more harmony into our relationships, but again, remember that the Sun also in Libra can cause us to make ourselves a little too dependent on them. Be sure you aren’t identifying with your personal power only through interpersonal reflections and interactions.
Look out for a planetary war between Venus and Jupiter on November 12-13. When these two come within one degree of each other in the sky, their purposes tend to fight for dominance within us. Jupiter compels us to stand up for beliefs and higher principles, while Venus drives us towards pleasure and compromise. It’s a time to watch out for compromising on your beliefs, or, on the opposite pole, throwing out a relationship altogether because of a certain principle (at least not on these days of extremity).
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In this Kali Yuga, it almost always feels like we could use a little more light in the world, but especially around this time of year when the days are getting shorter and darker (northern hemisphere bias). The last few months seem to have piled on more natural disasters than usual, although sometimes it feels like this may be becoming the norm. This New Moon brings the Hindu festival of Diwali, which is a celebratory time to invite more light into our lives and into the world.
The darkest Moon time, which begins our next lunar cycle, occurs at 12:12 pm PDT this Thursday, October 19th. The new cycle begins with Sun and Moon joined in sidereal Libra, with Mercury and Jupiter there as well. Libra is a sign about creating more balance (which presents a bit of a challenge with the imbalanced appearance of the chart for this New Moon). It falls in the Vedic nakshatra of Chitra, a star-sign that enhances our opportunity to bring beauty and harmony in the world.
Libra is an air sign where we bring the principles of Venus into active expression. Venus is the planet of beauty, desire, nature, and human love, so the Libra cycle will encourage us to be more creative, connect with nature, and nurture our relationships. As an air sign (a bit intellectual, and inspiring movement), we will seek ways to balance or re-balance relationships throughout this cycle. Both Jupiter and Mercury are also positioned in Libra, close to the Sun and Moon at this time, which adds the influences of our higher beliefs as well as our analytical minds to our creative endeavors this month.
Venus itself, the ruler of Libra, is currently transiting Virgo, his sign of debilitation. Debilitated Venus doesn’t necessarily translate as “relationships will be bad,” but it adds a highly intellectual, analytical, and practical motivation to the planet of pleasure and beauty. This is the opposite position to exalted Venus in Pisces, which we experienced for four months earlier this year (February through May), when we felt inspired to align our desires and relationships with our highest beliefs, principles, and purpose. Now, with Venus in Virgo, we are prompted to scrutinize all the little details of our relationships and pleasurable pursuits, and make sure that they are serving some practical need for us on the earth plane. We may also be scrutinizing our partners, or others around us, and getting caught up around the nuances of language or ideas. With Venus ruling this upcoming lunar cycle, and Mercury joining closely to the Sun and Moon at its start, desire for practicality will be strong this month.
The Vedic nakshatra where this lunar cycle begins is Chitra, “the brilliant.” This bright star in Virgo (Chitra bridges Virgo and Libra) is ruled by Vishvakarma, the deity known as the celestial architect. Imagine that energy of one who has the ability to place all the stars in the sky and set them in perfect motion … that type of both precise and artistic energy is what we are able to call in this month. There is a powerful creative potency here, and a great potential for improving relationships. It is also an supportive energy for organizing, repairing, or redesigning your home space.
On the new Moon of the Hindu month of Ashwin (this month), we celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. The festival actually began on Monday, the 16th (North America), the 13th waning Moon phase of the previous cycle. This day is known as Dhanteras, or Dhanvantari Tryodashi. Buying gold or silver (or any metals) on Dhanteras is widely practiced in Hindu culture. It is also the celebration of the appearance of Lord Dhanvantari, the father of Ayurvedic medicine. This day, and Diwali in general, is an excellent time for nurturing and calling in blessings for any type of healing or healing practice.
Diwali is a time to invite more light into our lives, our hearts, and our world. This festival celebrates the victory of light over darkness, which is something to rejoice in and have faith in, even if we can’t outwardly observe it sometimes. The positive vibrations we create internally are the only place to start for growing and spreading them externally. It is a powerful time to connect to the Goddess Lakshmi, calling in her blessings for both material and spiritual prosperity.
This holiday also commemorates Lord Ram’s and Sita’s return from exile after fourteen years (story from the Ramayana). Lord Ram embodies the highest qualities of dharma, devotion, compassion, courage, and leadership. Diwali is also the start of a new lunar cycle, so it’s a great time to go within and summon these qualities to awaken and live through you.
Diwali (also seen as Divali, Deepawali or Deepavali) comes from the sanskrit words deepa (light) and avali (row). It is traditional to light candles throughout Diwali, inviting the highest light into our homes and hearts … but in consideration of the destructive wildfires raging in California right now, I’m using electronic tea lights this year.
The candles are lit to remind us of the inner divine light in us all. Though one flame can be used to light many others, it is not diminished by sharing its power of illumination. We can pray for the peace and happiness of all beings, and each one’s awareness of their inner light.
Sun in Libra
It is pertinent to remember and to celebrate and call forth our inner light during this particular Dark Moon time, because the Sun, the planet of our inner power, strength, and divine light, is also in his sign of “debilitation,” in Libra.
Since Libra is the sign of balance and relationships, we often give a lot of our personal power to our relationships with others when Sun is in Libra. We may try too hard to care for others, forgetting to nourish the divine spark in ourselves, or we may simply feel depleted by trying to balance too much in life, losing touch with our personal strength and vitality.
At the beginning of this cycle, set an intention for a mindful self-care routine this month. Light some candles (or turn them on) for Diwali on the Dark Moon night, and if possible, take some time each day to offer yourself some time to nourish and honor your personal light. Self-care practices can include yoga, meditation, chanting, art, or self-abhyangha (oil massage). You can also make some herbal tea to nourish yourself during this vata (cold and dry) season.
The imbalance of the chart that I was talking about is referring to the ongoing Kala Saarpa yoga we see, wherein all seven physical planets are on one side of the nodal Rahu-Ketu axis. With these planets to one side of the nodes, the subconscious shadow energy (similar to eclipse energy) becomes more present, and a lot of unresolved business may arise. There is more agitation of the environment in general. This chart is particularly imbalanced, with the Sun, Moon, Jupiter and Mercury halfway between the nodes, and the other planets joining them on either side. As we enter this darker time of year, it is especially important to keep up our consciousness development and self-improvement practices, so as not to be ruled by the unconscious forces within.
Diwali is a potent opportunity to set this conscious intention, and to call forth more light and love into our hearts, and then to spread it out into the world! With so much trauma and disaster occurring all over the planet, our light, love, and service are needed now more than ever. No matter how small a part we can play, let us do what we can to increase harmony on and with the planet.
You can click here to discover your specific strengths and challenges through a personal Vedic astrology chart reading with me.
Two Zodiacs by Somya Devi
Almost every month I get a few responses to my blog or newsletter with people telling me I have gotten it wrong stating where the full Moon is. “It’s not in Pisces, it’s in Aries! That’s what my moon calendar says and that’s what all the other astrologers say.” What people don’t realize is that I am approaching astrology from the Vedic tradition, called Jyotish, “the science of light,” commonly called Vedic or Hindu astrology.
Most Vedic astrologers, myself included, use the sidereal, “star-based” zodiac, for calculating where the planets are. A zodiac is a system, or set of reference points, for locating where things are in the sky. It’s not simply the twelve constellations as we see them. The sidereal zodiac is the zodiac that correlates most closely with how we actually see the stars and planets in the sky from Earth. Western astrologers, who get a lot more press, generally use the tropical zodiac as a reference system. This is a different celestial measurement system, with reference points based on the seasons, not on how we see the planets and constellations from Earth.
For example, when I wrote that we’re experiencing a full Moon in Pisces today (Oct. 5, 2017), some people write to me and say “no, it’s in Aries!” That is what Western astrologers (and many popular calendars), will tell you, basing their calculations for the Moon on the tropical zodiac. But you can look at this astronomy-app screenshot from right now (or look at the sky, tonight) and see that the Moon is actually still aligned with Pisces, from our perspective here on Earth. You can compare this astronomical image to the Vedic and Western charts for today, below.
SkyView Free app, Screenshot from October 5, 2017
Sidereal Vedic chart 10/5/17
Tropical Zodiac chart for 10/5/17
If you live in a place where you can see the stars against the backdrop of the full Moon, I encourage you to go outside and look at the sky and identify the constellations tonight, and on each full Moon, and you will see what Vedic astrologers are talking about.
So, what happened? A few thousand years ago, the two zodiacs lined up. All astrologers and astronomers could identify that the Sun entered Aries’ part of the sky around March 21st, the spring equinox (hence this became the common zero-degree starting point of the zodiac).
Because of the wobble of the earth, however, over time the perspective from earth has shifted. The location of the fixed stars behind Sun on the equinox (or any other day), actually shifts eastward about one whole zodiac degree every 72 years. That is to say, if you could see the Sun and the stars simultaneously on March 21st of this year (or if you study a modern astronomical calculation), you would see that the Sun is near the beginning (approx. 7°) of sidereal Pisces on the spring equinox:
SkyView Free app, Screenshot from March 21, 2017 (bright white orb represents the Sun, Pisces and Aries constellations to the east)
The Western school of astrology at some point decided to “fix” the tropical zodiac, so that what they call “Aries (the zodiac sign)” is the first 30° longitude of the sky that the Sun traverses, beginning on the spring equinox, regardless of its relationship to the fixed stars of the constellation Aries that we see in the sky. Hence, wherever the Sun aligns on the spring equinox, that part of the sky will be designated as 0° Aries, even though it is not the visible constellation of Aries. Because the fixed stars have been slowly shifting over thousands of years (often called the “precession of the equinoxes”, the Sun does not align with the constellation of Aries until mid-April in modern times.
To simplify the difference between the zodiacs, the sidereal zodiac and the tropical zodiac are currently around 23° of a sign apart. Planets in a sidereal chart will be around 23° of a sign behind where they are in a tropical chart (so about ¾ of the time they will be in the previous sign). Most Vedic astrologers use the sidereal zodiac while most Western astrologers use the tropical.
Because the fixed-stars zodiac is shifting “backwards” each year, and the Sun on the vernal equinox is now at 7° Pisces, and all of the planets in a Vedic chart are measured as being about 23° behind where they are in a Western chart (about ¾ of a sign behind). As a result of this, about ¾ of the time, Vedic astrologers will cite a Full Moon or a planet in your birth chart as being in a different sign than what you have commonly heard from the more mainstream Western/tropical perspective.
This is very interesting when you look at your natal chart, because about ¾ of your planets will be in different signs in your Vedic chart than they were in your Western. The Sun does not transit through sidereal Aries from March 21st to April 20th, but from April 13th through May 14th. The Vedic sidereal natal chart is a representation of the astronomical map at the time of your birth. It shows where one could have identified the planets and stars through observation of the night sky. For example, your Western tropical chart may indicate that you are “Libra rising,” but your Vedic chart may show Virgo rising, meaning that if you were born at night and had looked out on the eastern horizon at the time of your birth, you could have actually identified the constellation Virgo rising in the sky.
These are the dates that the Sun aligns with the 30° segments of the sidereal zodiac, which is closely aligned with the measurable/observable astronomical alignment of the Sun and these constellations in the sky (save for the varying breadth of the constellations, see end of article):
Aries: April 13th – May 14th
Taurus: May 14th – June 14th
Gemini: June 14th – July 16th
Cancer: July 16th – August 15th
Leo: August 15th – September 16th
Virgo: September 16th – October 15th
Libra: October 15th – November 15th
Scorpio: November 15th – December 15th
Sagittarius: December 15th – January 13th
Capricorn: January 13th – February 12th
Aquarius: February 12th – March 13th
Pisces: March 13th – April 13th
Dates may vary by a day or two from year to year. You can also see that I have listed the signs with overlapping dates. That is because the Sun does not pass the imaginary 0° mark of a sign at exactly midnight each month. If you were born on one of these cusp days, you would want to review your Vedic astrological chart to see which sign the Sun was technically transiting during your birth. You will also want to discuss with your astrologer what it means for you to have your Sun so closely on the cusp of two signs.
It is also very important to note that in a Vedic astrology natal chart reading, most Vedic astrologers would not identify you as a “[your Vedic Sun sign, above].” Rather, we generally look at your Vedic rising sign, the constellation that was coming up on the eastern horizon at your birth time, as your most prominent energy. This is the one that most influences your personality, physical body, and everyday experience. The rising sign changes every couple of hours each day, so this helps us to get much more specific about your individual makeup, rather than grouping everyone born during the same month of the year together. The rising sign also determines where all twelve houses in your chart align with the twelve major constellations, telling us more about your style in each area of life. Of course, understanding the placement of all the planets in the birth chart will give us the best understanding of your make-up, as there are many factors that can add a lot of influence to your life.
Another notable point that you can see in the screenshot above, is that some of the constellations take up far more space in the sky than others (see Aries vs. Pisces, above). The twelve major zodiacal constellations are the ones in the same band of the sky where we see the Sun and Moon rise and set each day, called the ecliptic. (Each of these major constellations also rises and sets each day). Hence, the “circle” of the ecliptic is mathematically divided into 360°. At some point, there were designated twelve equal 30° sections for ease of identification, each attributed to one of the twelve major signs, even though the constellations themselves do not take up equal portions of the sky or of the ecliptic.
So, please don’t be surprised or think that an astrologer has made an error if you see them writing about a Full Moon that is one sign off from what you have heard others say. Take note of which astrologers are using the sidereal vs. the tropical zodiac (some Western astrologers also use the sidereal zodiac, and a few Vedic astrologers use the tropical).
Get to know both your Vedic and Western charts to see the differences, and what resonates more for you. Usually both do to some degree, but many people breathe a sigh of relief when they finally learn about their Vedic chart, because it often makes a lot more sense, resonates on a deeper level, and reveals more about their being. Above all, don’t just take the word of any astrologer, but go out in the night sky and observe the stars and planets for yourself! Feel into them and begin to interpret your own astrology, because astrology is inherently an observation of astronomy, and how the movement of the stars and planets affects us, physically, energetically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I hope that helps! Thank you for your interest. I love educating people about the two different zodiacs and the wisdom of Vedic astrology … I would love to work with you through a personal Vedic astrology chart reading to share insights on your sidereal natal chart, and what it illuminates about your personality, karma, and life course.
I have tried to simplify this topic to give readers a basic understanding of the difference between these two zodiacs and astrological perspectives. One can go into much deeper research about the origins and subtleties of these and their use/preference by astrologers (there is much debate on the topic, and I am a perpetual student myself). Here are a few articles from colleagues and public sources that begin to dive deeper into this topic. Please feel free to send me other links you think would be useful here:
Wikipedia article on Zodiacs
Wikipedia article on Axial Precession
Story of the Zodiac Vedic Astrology by Sam Geppi
Vedic Astrology and the Sidereal Zodiac in the Age of Misinformation by Sam Geppi
The Tale of Two Zodiacs by Freedom Cole
The full Moon in sidereal Pisces peaks tomorrow morning at 11:40 am (PDT), and aligns with the very last of the 27 Vedic nakshatras, Revati. This energy brings forth a wave of open-hearted surrender and ushers us to let go of everything from the past season, as we enter the dark and inward months of the year.
The full Moon falling closest to the autumnal equinox (September 22nd), is known as the Harvest Moon. For farmers this has traditionally been an optimal time to harvest the crops of the season, not only because of their readiness, but because of the bright and glowing Moon that appears in the evenings at this time. During this time of year, close to the equinox, the time of the moonrise is very close to the time of the sunset (moonrise today is at 6:36 pm PDT, and tomorrow at 7:11, while sunset is at 6:47 today and 6:46 tomorrow). The Moon looks the largest around its rising and setting times, because of the way light refracts through the lower portions of the atmosphere, and when it occurs near to sunset, the Moon will catch the bright orange sunset rays and take on a hearty glow.
Pisces Full Moon
It is apt that at this time of year the full Moon is also in Pisces, the last of the twelve major zodiac signs, and Revati, the last of the 27 Vedic signs, both of which elicit imagery of closing a chapter. Pisces, an introverted water-sign ruled by Jupiter, opens the depths of our emotional bodies and calls us to connect them with our higher belief systems. It is a sign of surrender, where we let go of material attachments, and even the material world at times, and allow ourselves to give in totally to spirit and divine flow. It is a powerful sign for meditation, dreamwork, and inward journeys. It can also invoke an energy of escapism, so be careful not to go down any rabbit holes unconsciously.
The Pisces full Moon illuminates the contrasting energy to Virgo, where we began this lunar cycle on the New Moon of September 19th. Virgo is a grounded and practical earth-sign, ruled by Mercury, the planet of the intellect. Virgo energy compelled us to get our ducks in a row, do the final accounting of the season and make sure we have things neatly squirreled away before the change of seasons. Pisces’ energy reminds us that we can’t account for or control everything, and at the final moments of our outward effort, we can only surrender to divine will to carry us the rest of the way.
Revati, the nakshatra where this full Moon falls, is a star of journeys. We can see this ultimately as the journey to the other side, if the progression of energy through the signs is symbolic of our progression through life. The last and final nakshatra begs us to let go of all efforts and worldly attachments as we merge into the infinite, ultimately giving up even this waking life. We can still apply this metaphor while embodied, however, by loosening our grip on the striving to be in control, and dissolving into the sea of divine light.
Revati is translated as “the wealthy” and is ruled by Pushan, the deity of nourishment as well as journeys. He is often depicted standing at the beginning (or end) of a path and can be seen as a celestial shepherd, ushering us safely along the many roads through life, and beyond. People born under Revati nakshatra tend to have a very kind and loving disposition, and a distinct affection for animals. Though it is a star of wealth, there is an incredibly generous nature here, reflecting abundant spiritual wealth as well as material is possible.
Venus and Mars
Venus and Mars remain tightly aligned, around 25 degrees of sidereal Leo, engaging in a planetary war this week (from Tuesday through Saturday). It is as if the forces of Mars and Venus are fighting for dominance within us. Our desires and relationships may feel at odds with our ability to exert strength an a strong will at the moment. Venus’ energy is probably winning out (more giving in to desires, less willingness to fight), both because of his brightness over Mars and because the full Moon is in Venus’ sign of exaltation (Revati). Desires can seem heightened with Venus in Leo, as they take their seat on the throne and their importance is temporarily amplified.
Venus will soon transit into Virgo, however, his sign of debilitation, where we’ll become much more analytical over our desires as well as relationships. With Venus currently in Leo, we can tend to relate our power with these things, but once he transits into Virgo, we’re likely to become much more grounded and practical. It will be an interesting experience, after Venus was exalted in Pisces, the opposite sign, for four months earlier during this year. The high that we may have experienced then will finally come down to a place we will be looking at our relationships and desires through a very intellectual lens.
Enjoy the powerful medicine of this Pisces full Moon, which has the potential to open our hearts and deepen our surrender. Magic, mysticism, and meditation are easily accessible, so be sure to spend some time going inward and feel what arises.
Om Namah Sivaya
Maha Navaratri 2017 begins today! In this important Hindu holiday, we celebrate the Goddess through “the great nine nights” (nav = nine, ratri = night). This festival will run through September 30th, the first ten days of this new lunar cycle. Goddess, Devi, Shakti, Durga, Divine Mother—the many names and forms all represent the dynamic and fluid feminine power that enlivens all of existence.
She is the creatrix, the warrioress, the nurturer, the purifyer, the protector. While she’s in the innocent and fertile maiden so is she the wise and learned crone. Both the nurturing mother, and the one who gives “tough love.” The impassioned lover, the devoted bhakta, the disciplined yogini. We see Goddess appear through us in innumerable manifestations. Through her many forms she teaches us and offers us countless blessings–love, compassion, courage, learning, discipline, surrender, success, enlightenment, and bliss. This festival is a time for celebrating the supreme feminine power in all her glory, and the many blessings she bestows upon us.
As with most Hindu celebrations, this festival correlates with the lunar calendar, and thus begins on the first day of the waxing Moon after the New Moon of September 19th. The celebration is through the “nine nights” of 21st through 29th, and into the eleventh morning known as Vijayadashami, “the day of victory,” on September 30th in some places (because of the way the lunar phases correlate with the solar days… Check the Vedic panchanga for your city to see the exact dates for Navaratri where you are.). Worship during Navaratri is most generally dedicated to Goddess in the form of Durga, the demon-slayer, but there is much nuance and variation to practice and forms of celebration throughout India. Above all, Navaratri is a community celebration of the Divine Mother, and the love, abundance and protection she gives.
There are many Navaratri celebrations throughout the year, but the fall-time Navaratri is the most widely celebrated, and is thus called Maha Navaratri – “the great nine nights”. It correlates with the time of the harvest, a time to give thanks for the abundance of the year’s work. Grains and crops are often offered to Devi as part of the celebrations. Ritualistic worship (puja) typically occurs in homes and temples throughout the nine nights and into the tenth morning of celebration.
The Many Forms of Goddess
In Kerala and other places in India, the first three nights of worship are dedicated to Durga (the invincible), the next three to Lakshmi (Goddess of prosperity), and the final three to Sarasvati (Goddess of learning). Durga, also celebrated as her incarnation of Kali, helps us to destroy and remove the negative tendencies in our minds and hearts, freeing us from the obstructions to our spiritual and material pursuits. Lakshmi helps us to cultivate positive qualities like compassion and devotion, and leads us towards both spiritual and material prosperity. Sarasvati assists us in attaining knowledge and wisdom, through the illumination of our consciousness. She aids in awakening sattva, the quality of purity, and the flow of prana, the vital breath. After removing inner and outer obstacles and cultivating prosperity through virtuous qualities, our devotion, service, and practice help us to attain a state of peace, bliss, and oneness.
In the Kali Kula (Kali school of worship) in northeastern India, Sarasvati is worshiped on the first three nights, followed by Lakshmi on the next and then Kali/Durga on the last three. Sarasvati, Lakshmi, and Kali/Durga (Kali emerged from Durga) are also known as the consorts of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The Goddesses, therefore, provide the shakti to the cosmic processes of creation, preservation, and death (transformation), similar to their male counterparts. Consequently, worship in this manner is dedicated to the cycles of life and Mother nature, through birth, then sustenance, then death. Death is not a complete stop, but allows for the regeneration of energy into a new cycle once again.
9 Forms of Durga
Throughout India, the nine nights of Navaratri are often dedicated to 9 different incarnations of Durga, allowing the worship of many different aspects of Shakti in a gradual evolution. You can read the stories and significance of these 9 goddesses here (or click on Goddess name below), or a more a brief introduction, here:
“Daughter of the mountain”; creative energy, muladhara (root chakra), awakening; Awaken your connection with Goddess today or initiate a new venture, calling on Shailputri for new beginnings.
The ascetic; tapas, discipline, devotion, strength, wisdom, creative abundance; Good day for fasting and meditation, connection with svadhistana (sacral chakra).
Warrioress; protection, courage, grace, manipura (solar plexus); Destroy your internal obstacles by offering them to Chandraghanta.
4. Kushmanda (September 23rd)
Creatrix of the “cosmic egg”; strength, health, happiness, success, relationships; Connect with the vital Sun energy and the anahata (heart chakra) today.
“Mother of Skanda/Kartikeya”; motherly love, nourishment, protection, purity; Call on divine truth through the vishuddha (throat chakra), invoking Skandamata to lead you towards victory.
6. Katyayani (September 25th)
Warrioress who destroyed Mahishasura (the buffalo demon); victory, devotion, strength, removing obstacles; Meditate on these qualities of Goddess through the ajna chakra (third-eye) today.
7. Kalaratri (September 26th)
“Dark/black night,” representing a fierce form of Durga/Kali; darkness, death, surrender, dissolution of pain; Connecting with the sahasrara (crown chakra), remember that Divine Mother offers love, compassion, and many blessings even in hard times. Even in the midst of apparent darkness, and helps us to go beyond the boundaries of the material body-mind and connect with spirit.
8. Mahagauri (September 27th-28th)
“Great white goddess”; detachment, purification, renewal, protection, virtue; Through detachment and devotion, we emerge purified, shining and radiant after surrendering in the dark night. Rejuvenative herbs and foods are good today.
Goddess of “siddhis”; magical, spiritual or mystic powers and blessings, fulfillment of desires, devotion, divine union; Invite Goddess to reveal her presence to you everywhere and in every moment.
Personal Practice Ideas for Navaratri
If possible, it is great to reduce our workload and gather with community at local temples or places of worship. We can also create a little time and space at home and conduct some personal practices to celebrate Goddess energy. Dive into your own heart to connect with the inner Goddess in the ways that resonate most with you! Here are some ideas to do at home or with a group throughout the nine nights of Navaratri:
Create a sacred space, a Durga altar, or a Goddess altar. Even if you already have one, you can refresh it in some way or rearrange it specifically for Navaratri. Include images or statues of the Goddess(es) you have a relationship with. This could be according to one of the groups of forms above.
Even if you don’t have much time, dedicate at least a few minutes each day to connecting with the Divine Mother in front of your altar, calling her energy into your life and being.
Write in your journal about what qualities of Goddess you perceive and connect with. What aspects would you like to strengthen or to cultivate more deeply? Write any and all prayers and offer them to the form of Goddess that appeals to you.
Offer light to illuminate Goddess’s power, helping her to shine more brightly into the world and your life. You can light a candle by the altar and keep it burning when you’re at home. You can even keep an electronic tealight on symbolically when you are away.
Offer flowers or grains (even a small dish of dried rice) to celebrate Devi in the form of mother nature, fertility, the abundance of the harvest, and the cycle of life.
Offer incense, bells, water, or food if you feel called, by placing it on the altar, or mentally offering it to Goddess throughout the day. You can also offer something symbolic of your own work or practice, whatever you have been cultivating for harvest through the year. In offering this you surrender the fruits of your efforts to the Divine Mother.
Some people choose to fast in some variation, if this is something you have practiced before. This might include fasting during the day, fasting with only milk or fruit, or abstaining from alcohol and non-vegetarian foods during Navaratri.
Chanting the Devi Mahatmyam, a verse to the Goddess, is a common practice during the nine-night festival. You can also chant another Goddess mantra or songs that are special to you and your relationship with Devi.
Jai Ma Durga!
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New Moon in Virgo
The new lunar cycle begins Tuesday, September 19th, at 10:30 pm PDT, with Sun and Moon in sidereal Virgo. After a couple of months full of a lot of emotion and fire with many planets (and eclipses!) in Cancer and Leo, we have a chance to ground out a little bit more under the influence of earth-sign Virgo. Virgo is ruled by Mercury, the planet of the intellect, which brings a more practical and impartial nature to our energies this month. There is opportunity for curiosity and learning. The cycle begins in the Vedic nakshatra called Uttara Phalguni, which reminds us to take time in relaxation in order to re-kindle our productive energy.
The placement of Mercury and the nodes at the time of the Dark Moon, however, continue to make for a strong amount of “shadow” and subconscious energy to be present. Mercury, the lord of Virgo, will be in the 12th house from the Sun and Moon, and joining closely with Mars, showing a lot of intensity in the subconscious and potential for feeling disconnected. This New Moon also occurs under a full kala sarpa yoga, an alignment in which all seven planets are in between the two nodes of the Moon, Rahu and Ketu, in the cosmic circle.
The kala sarpa yoga can be translated as “black snake” or “serpent of time.” The Moon transits the entire zodiac each month, so for two weeks of each month Moon will be on the other side of this axis, breaking the kala sarpa yoga, but for half of the month all planets will fall on one side of the “black serpent.” This will occur frequently over the next several months, when all seven planets will be situated to one side of the nodal axis (see photo) for half the month. The Moon transits the entire zodiac each month, so for two weeks of each month Moon will be on the other side of this axis, breaking the kala sarpa yoga, but for half of the month all planets will fall on one side of the “black serpent.”
When this alignment occurs, more of the shadowy and subconscious energy represented by the nodes is present. We may expect to be more introverted during this time, but it is also possible that more disruptive events can occur. People who are born under this alignment tend to have many “heavy” experiences throughout life. There can still be many positive and auspicious events during this time as well (or for those born under a kala sarpa yoga), but they tend to come after or despite some hardships or challenges.
Look for this yoga to occur for half the month from now through January of 2018. We experienced a similar occurrence last year (2016) from roughly September through January. This doesn’t happen every year, but we happen to be in a time where both Jupiter and Saturn, the slower-moving planets, are both to one side of the nodal axis. Thus this alignment occurs when the faster-moving planets, Sun, Mars, Mercury, and Venus, (plus Moon for half of each month) are also on one side of the axis.
Thankfully, there is a wonderful opportunity at hand to get in touch with the shadowy, subconscious energy of the nodes, through ritual worship and practice offered by Navaratri, the “nine-night” festival of the Goddess, which begins on the first day of this lunar cycle. This is a Hindu festival dedicated to worshiping the Goddess, Devi, in her many forms, for nine days and nights. As the night represents darkness and ignorance, we pray to her to help reveal and remove our shortcomings, bestow blessings, and confer wealth and knowledge. We face the darkness and call on the Divine Mother to remove it and let the atman, or the pure divinity within each of us, shine forth.
Navaratri worship can include creating a special altar to the Goddess, and making daily offerings including flowers, food, incense, light (a flame), ghee, as well as prayer, meditation, mantras and bhajans (devotional songs). The Devi Mahatmya (a.k.a. Chandi Path), the story of Durga, is a traditional text to read throughout this festival. Occurring in the fall-time in India and the northern hemisphere, this Navaratri also coincides with the harvest season, and is a time to give thanks for the abundance of the harvest and pray that it carries us through the winter season.
In many places, the first three nights of Navaratri are dedicated to Goddess in the form of Durga or Kali, warrior goddesses who help us to cleanse our impurities, the next three to Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity and devotion, and the last three to Sarasvati, goddess of wisdom. In other traditions, there are nine different forms of the Goddess honored on each of the nine days and nights. Be sure to follow me to receive daily updates throughout the festival!
Nodes Have Changed Signs
Since the onset of the eclipse cycle in early September, the nodes, Rahu and Ketu, have fully transitioned from the Leo-Aquarius axis to the Cancer-Capricorn axis. This completes one year-and-a-half transit as it begins another. From now through March of 2019, we will experience Rahu in Cancer and Ketu in Capricorn. The obsessive, insatiable Rahu in Cancer will cause us to experience a heightened state of emotionality throughout this time, with perhaps overwhelming sensitivity at times. The confusion of the nodes impels us to take time to get a better understanding of our hearts, and much will be revealed around the eclipse cycles that come in January-February 2018, July-August 2018, and January-February 2019.
With Ketu now transiting sidereal Capricorn, we will have to observe our shadows in the way that we balance our emotional nature with our practicality. Ketu in Capricorn could make us resistant to taking responsibility and practical steps for the future, but he will eventually raise self-awareness around any challenges we have here. We can be very self-critical in the area of Ketu’s transit, which will also affect each individual where Capricorn falls in the natal chart. Conversely, we may encounter impatience, restlessness, and even lust in the area of life indicated by Cancer in our natal chart, while Rahu transits there. I am happy to offer this Full Report and Forecast for Your Sign Here. (If you’re already on the free mailing list, you’ll be getting it in your inbox later today!)
Jupiter in Virgo/Libra
Jupiter has technically transitioned zodiac signs recently, moving from sidereal Virgo’s into sidereal Libra’s designated slice of the pie-in-the-sky. Virgo is a much larger constellation than Libra, however, and in areas where abundant stars are visible just after sunset, one can see that Jupiter is still traversing the constellation of Virgo. The two do not each take up 30° of the 360° ring of the zodiac, in real observational terms, but rather Virgo takes up more than that portion while Libra covers less. Thus, we may be beginning to feel some energy of Jupiter in Libra (more inspiration for harmony, compromise, and the arts), I believe we are still experiencing a strong quality of Jupiter in Virgo (elevating our desire for organization of life’s details).
Also remember, most Western astrologers will say that Jupiter has been in Libra for the last year already, which can cause some confusion. That is based on the tropical zodiac, based on the seasons. Now is a great example of how the tropical zodiac does not correlate with the observable position of the planets and constellations as we see them from earth.
In the Vedic zodiac, Jupiter is still considered to be in the constellation of Chitra, which bridges the designations of Virgo and Libra. This nakshatra correlates with the star called Spica within Virgo (which Jupiter is closely conjunct at the moment), and translates as “the brilliant,” as it is one of the brightest stars in the sky. It is the sign of the celestial architect, and does bring forth a strong artistic quality. This is, therefore, a good time to allow your artistic inspiration to shine through, especially through both skillful and intelligent endeavors.
Mercury, Mars and Venus in Leo
Mercury, Mars, and Venus are all transiting sidereal Leo now. Venus in Leo can cause us to bring forth a lot of “me-first” in relationships, while the proximity of Mars and Mercury in this fire sign can lead to arguing, so be especially aware of these tendencies this month. The three are all catching an aspect from Saturn, now moving forward in direct motion in Scorpio, so that could help to add some mature caution to our impulses.