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 (because of the way the lunar phases correlate with the solar days, this year the celebration will span ten nights! 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:
“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.
“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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The Full Moon in Aquarius in Shatabisha nakshatra is happening tonight! The Moon reaches peak fullness at 12:03 am (just after midnight) Pacific time on September 6th, in the middle of sidereal Aquarius, in the nakshatra known as Shatabisha.
Aquarius and Leo
The Aquarian full Moon draws our mind more towards the collective good, and how we can be of service to society, in contrast to the Sun, Mars, and Mercury in Leo, who draw the emphasis to personal power. The Full Moon is a time to harmonize the energy of the two sides of this zodiacal axis, and utilize our Aquarian side to reflect upon service. How we can achieve this while actually standing in our own power and using it for good at the same time?
Full Moon Medicine
Shatabisha, the Vedic star-sign where this full Moon peaks, is a powerful nakshatra for healing of all kinds. Known as the “hundred medicines” or the “hundred physicians,” the energy here drives us to explore alternative forms of healing. This includes our quest for self-healing and also the tools that we might use to help to heal others. The deity for this nakshatra is Lord Varuna, the god of the cosmic waters. Let us pray for healing waters as opposed to those that have been so destructive of late!
After the intense solar eclipse that began this cycle on August 21st, we have seen a continued onslaught of natural disasters across the globe, and this is a potent time to reach into your apothecary for whatever medicines can help. This might mean different herbs or foods as medicine, or it could also include a practice such as dance or meditation. With the pleasure-loving Venus joining Rahu, be careful of over-indulging, especially if you have a tendency to abuse medicines or drugs.
Rahu, Ketu, & Eclipse Aftermath
The nodes are now on the cusp of Leo-Cancer and Aquarius-Capricorn, respectively. You may have seen some discrepancy among Vedic astrologers in citing the date of Rahu and Ketu’s transition from the Leo-Aquarius axis and into Cancer-Capricorn. This has to do with subtleties in the astronomical calculation methods and software settings involved. It may appear as if the nodes crossed the imaginary zero-degree mark on August 17th (as I’ve cited previously) according to some calculation methods, while other astrologers are still awaiting that change to occur, later in September.
Whether the nodes have technically crossed that imaginary line or not, they are still near the “cusp” of both sign-axes either way. Whenever planets are on the cusp of two signs, they are not strongly established in the energy of either sign, but might actually behave with influences from both of the two signs. Similarly, if someone was born with the ascendant close to the cusp of two signs, they may resonate with the energies of both signs to a degree, rather than one distinctly. Thus, Rahu is now exerting his harsh force (more powerfully because of the recent eclipse) with some energy of Cancer and some energy of Leo.
Fire vs. Water by FelipeS4rg
With all of the recent flooding across the world, I believe we’re strongly seeing the energy of Rahu in Cancer coming through. I predicted the “floodgate of the heart” would open during this transit, with perhaps some overwhelming emotions arising. With this recent bout of flooding surrounding the Great American Eclipse on August 21st, there is a strong presence of Rahu-in-Cancer energy visible. Simultaneously, with the multitude of forest fires raging, and the continued intensity of the political arena, we are also still experiencing the Leonian influence on Rahu. Rahu, the demon planet of intensity, appears to be rearing his (detached) head with both the water-power of Cancer and the fire-power of Leo. This influence is acutely felt across the US, where he showed his shadow in full power to begin this Moon cycle.
Mercury, Venus, Saturn & Jupiter
Mercury turns direct today! It will take him a few days to pick up forward-momentum, however, so be aware of potential stagnancy in communication, and the ironing out of details and logistics.
Venus, in my calculations, is now joining Rahu in the open-hearted sign of Cancer. This is a tough position for the planet of pleasure and compromise. Proximity to Rahu could cause us to over-indulge in sensory pleasures, while Venus is already feeling a bit challenged in the sign of the Moon. The Moon and Cancer compel us to open our hearts and bestow loving compassion on everyone. An intelligent Venus helps us to find a balance in the give-and-take of relationships, so with Venus in Cancer we have a tendency to open our boundaries too far, and present the possibility of being (or feeling) taken advantage of. Watch your boundaries in relationships over the next few weeks while Venus transits Cancer, approaching and passing Rahu.
Saturn stationed and turned direct on August 25th, and is now making his final traverse of Scorpio for the next 27 years. This is the home stretch of Saturn’s return and Sade Sati for some people, and for everyone it is the time to really reflect on how we have re-committed to our personal transformation over the past three years.
Jupiter is getting ready for another major transit as well, beginning on September 11th when he will cross the imaginary line between Virgo and Libra. For the past thirteen months we have experienced the influence of Jupiterian expansion, luck, and grace in the style of Virgo, in the house indicated by Virgo in our charts. Once Jupiter settles fully into Libra, we will experience this effect in that area of our lives. This could add to some more collective balance and harmony in the world, as we begin to think about applying our principles in a more fair and balanced way. It will also have positive expansive influences on Libra-, Aquarius-, and Gemini-rising people in general. Each sign will gain Jupiter’s positive effects in a specific area of life, so look out for the Jupiter-in-Libra forecast coming this month! (Sign up for the free mailing list here if you aren’t already on it…you’ll also get last year’s free Jupiter-in-Virgo e-book if you want to take a look at where this transit already affected you).
The last two weeks since the eclipse had us in a quasi-Kala Sarpa yoga alignment, with all the planets joining or on one side of the Rahu-Ketu axis. (This is using the calculation that puts Rahu in Cancer.) This intensifies everything, including those water-fire effects of the recent eclipse over the US. I’m hoping that the next few weeks will have a lessening of intensity around these themes, especially as the Moon begins his waning journey tomorrow .
The Total Solar Eclipse coming this Monday, August 21st, 2017, will cast a shadow over the Sun, obscuring it from view from coast to coast across the United States. The map below (from timeanddate.com where you can see a video visual of the eclipse path) shows the path of the eclipse, where the red line in the middle are the areas where the Sun will appear 100% obscured. The full eclipse will occur from 9:48am PDT to 1:02pm PDT, with the maximum eclipse at 11:25 am (partial eclipse visibility is from 8:46 am to 2:04 pm).
This will be the first time since 1918 that a total solar eclipse has fully crossed the geography of the United States, and it’s been since 1979 that a total solar eclipse was visible here. You may remember the eclipses of 1994 or 2012 — these were annular solar eclipses, during which a thin ring of the Sun remained visible behind the Moon’s shadow. In the direct path of a total eclipse of the Sun, the Moon will obscure the Sun entirely, leaving only the glowing corona (like the atmosphere) of the Sun visible. Jupiter, Mars and Venus will become visible in the sky, to the east (Jupiter) and west of the eclipse. The next annular solar eclipse across the US comes in 2023, the next total solar eclipse visible from parts of the US will be in 2024, and the next total solar eclipse to cross from coast to coast next comes in 2045.
The Vedic Mythology of Eclipses
If you’re paying attention to Vedic astrologers (or many other traditions), you’ve probably heard by now that eclipses are inauspicious. Imagine living in ancient times and experiencing this phenomenon of the Sun quickly disappearing, midday, when you didn’t know it was coming. Even though astronomical understanding has advanced, the energetics of this abnormal and ominous occurrence are still present, and even modern Hindu tradition (and others) advise against being outside during the eclipse. It is thought that the atmosphere is tainted by the negative energy of the nodes, and so it is best not to eat, drink, or even breathe the air outside during the hours surrounding this celestial event.
Eclipses occur when the north and south nodes of the Moon (astronomical points on the ecliptic, known as Rahu and Ketu in Vedic thought), align with the Sun, Moon, and Earth. The shadow that we see is related to demonic energy in Vedic mythology, portrayed by the origin story of Rahu and Ketu. This ancient tale depicts the gods and demons working together to churn the ocean of milk (similar to our pursuits under the milky way), to obtain the nectar of immortality. When it finally arose, Vishnu, a god, began passing it out to all the other gods, but cleverly skipped over the demons, lest they attain immortality as well.
One shrewd demon disguised himself and slipped into the line, and imbibed one drop of the immortal nectar, before the Sun and the Moon ratted him out and Vishnu cut the demon’s head off with his discus. That one drop allowed the demon to obtain immortality, however, and he took his place in the heavens alongside the other gods (the other planets are also deified). The head became Rahu, and the tail became Ketu, and now they are forever pursuing the Sun and the Moon to take their revenge. They conquer the bright, sattvic orbs occasionally, and this is when we see eclipses.
Astrological Energy of this Eclipse
The solar eclipse coincides with the New Moon, where the Sun and the Moon are exactly aligned from the perspective of earth (which actually occurs at 11:30 am to be exact). They come together in sidereal Leo, in the Vedic nakshatra known as Magha, “the mighty.” Magha is symbolized by a throne and relates to positions of power, government and authority. In this case they are closely accompanied by Rahu, who will be right on the cusp of Leo and Cancer during the eclipse.
The nodes don’t just embody “demonic” energy in terms of terrible, external, magical ghouls that are out to get us. The idea of demons in Vedic thought is really a metaphor for our inner demons—the shadows, challenges, and vasanas that we carry as living human beings. They represent the parts of us that are most subconscious, and the least understood. They show the things that we are most trying to learn from and integrate in our lives. We all have Rahu and Ketu placed somewhere in our natal charts (the map of the planets and constellations at the time of your birth), and this tells us about some of our biggest challenges, where we will seek growth throughout life.
We also all have had Rahu and Ketu transiting Leo and Aquarius since January 2016, compelling us to grow and look at our shadows in those particular areas of our lives. This axis in the zodiac teaches us to integrate personal power, and how we use it for greed or leadership (Leo), with universal service, and how we can act for the long-term benefit of many, without extinguishing our own light (Aquarius). It has been a quest for us to better reflect on how we wield power, and when we think of others, and to learn to harmonize and balance our self-love with universal love. Neither can be of service without the other. (We’ve also been working on balancing these two within the specific areas of our lives governed by Rahu and Ketu in our personal charts — Free Forecast Here).
This eclipse is bringing us towards a huge culmination of the lessons that have arisen in the last year-and-a-half. When the shadows of Rahu and Ketu become visible during eclipses, our inner shadows become visible and we are better able to do the personal work on ourselves with the tools we have acquired to do so. Although it is a great growth opportunity, the malefic and demonic nature of the nodes can still be quite tumultuous, and eclipse periods (the month surrounding a pair of eclipses, such as this month), can feel quite stressful and intense, especially if we are not ready to see or experience the areas that need shifting in our inner and outer worlds. Whether we are ready or not, there will often be major shifts.
This Eclipse and the USA
With this total solar eclipse hitting the entirety of the US harder than anywhere else, it’s possible that there will be some major shifts here compared to anywhere else in the world. We have already seen the intense, tumultuous energy stirring up the atmosphere and causing widespread uprising and violence in the country this month. Leo in general is the sign of government, and Magha nakshatra has to do with the seat of the one in power, and we can see that the POTUS’s power is being shaken and is facing intense aggravation right now. The last year-and-half has had the country in an uproar over its government, more so than usual, due to Rahu’s transit of Leo, which was also accompanied by Jupiter throughout most of 2016, further amplifying the extremism. With this major eclipse over the US right now, we are being called to see the darkest elements of power and the way it can be wielded. Rahu’s position in the difficult gandanta zone at the end of Cancer adds even more potency to his influence and more potential for serious impact.
Furthermore, this eclipse is also directly affecting the lagna (the first house, or the rising sign), of the current POTUS. Whenever an eclipse affects your lagna, you will experience its effects most directly and intensely. The transit of Rahu here over the last year-and-a-half intensely amplified his already aggrandized sense of self. Having Leo lagna in general will give someone a strong sense of their own power. His ruling planet, the Sun, is joined with Rahu in the 10th house, giving him a strong presence in the public eye, but also a confused or distorted sense of self, because Rahu brings confusion wherever he joins. It is a placement for achieving a degree of power or leadership, through business or government, but also shows that the way other people see him is characterized by the darkness of Rahu.
With this eclipse coming within one degree of his Mars, the planet of strength and courage, he may be doubting this power a bit at the moment. Saturn is still in Scorpio, transiting his natal Moon, putting a lot of pressure on the mind and emotions. It’s also aspecting his Rahu and Sun in the 10th, and his Mars and lagna, putting intense pressure on his personal and public personas as well. It is quite possible with this eclipse that we could see some major identity breakdown or shift as he tries to handle all the negativity and shadows revealed by the nodes. The authority that was amplified by Rahu’s transit since last year may be coming to an end. The shadow planet is now transiting into Cancer, which is his 12th house, the place of loss. Rahu’s transit of someone’s 12th can be incredibly difficult, bringing the energy of solitude and isolation, which can result in such things as institutionalization or being outcast.
If you have planets in the 12th house in your natal chart, or are also experiencing a transit there, the best thing to do is to try to activate the higher manifestations of the 12th; these include meditation, going inward, taking retreats, spiritual practice, self-inquiry, investigating the dream state, and practicing devotion and surrender to a higher power.
A Wave of Compassion on the Horizon
Just as the Rahu transit of Leo has amplified the quest for personal power over the last two years, the Rahu transit of Cancer that is beginning now will increase the sensitivity of our emotions and bring more focus to the heart center. This gives the potential for motherly compassion to take a more central role in our lives on the broad scale as well as the individual. Rahu intensifies the energy wherever he transits and also drives our focus there. As he goes through Cancer for the next year-and-a-half, emotions will be magnified, especially around the time of the eclipses.
Though this could help to open the floodgate of the heart, the shadow planet also represents confusion, so there will be a lot for us to work out here, and some possible missteps along the way. As Ketu transits the opposite sign of Capricorn, we will learn to harmonize the part of ourselves that is emotional and intuitive, with the part that is practical and responsible. This will be the collective lesson we approach as a society on the whole. Individually, we will be integrating this type of balance into our personal lives, in the specific areas of your life indicated by Cancer and Capricorn in your individual Vedic natal chart. Free forecast on what this means for your sign are coming soon to the free mailing list, so be sure to sign up if you aren’t on it already!
Retrograde Mercury and Planets Surrounding the Eclipse
Mercury is currently in retrograde motion and is closely joining this eclipse, at 14° of sidereal Leo and leaning towards the eclipse point. Whenever Mercury is retrograde, we tend to backtrack a lot around details and communication, as well as look more closely at these things for what we may have missed before. Joining this power- and government-oriented eclipse, we are seeing a lot of backtracking and close scrutinization of the words and language of the “leader.” There is a lot of revisionist history going on as well.
Magha, the nakshatra where this eclipse falls, is associated with the deities called the “Pitras,” referring to our ancestors and forefathers. There is a close look at these figures accompanying the tumult of the moment. With retrograde Mercury so close at hand, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some close examination and perhaps revision or modification to some laws and documents of old stimulated by this eclipse. Now is also a time to speak up about what power and leadership mean to you, especially if you missed any chance to do so before.
Saturn’s serious and discerning gaze is also falling on the Sun and Moon during this eclipse, from his still-retrograde position near the end of Scorpio. Saturn in Scorpio makes us look at our willingness to transform internally, and when directed towards the Sun and Moon in Leo, this can also add the pressure to transform our power structures. We have already seen a lot of changes in the governmental administration this month, and that could be stimulated further by this eclipse.
Finally, the look of this eclipse’s chart may remind you of the many one-sided charts we saw last year while the planets were in kala sarpa alignment. The current chart is not technically kala sarpa since Venus and Mars remain west of the Rahu-Ketu axis, but it comes pretty close. This time of alignment brings forth even more nodal energies, adding a third (fourth, fifth, sixth…?) level of intensity to this eclipse’s lineup.
What may come out of this eclipse is more inspiration. With Jupiter in Virgo, the second sign from the eclipse in Leo, our philosophies and higher beliefs will be what help us to process the outcome of current events. Turning towards something higher, that really offers some purpose in our lives, will be the medicine for any wounds incurred during and around the eclipse. We are gearing up for a few years of widespread activism, stimulated by Saturn’s return into Sagittarius in October (he began this journey earlier this year, from January through April). His presence here will compel us to work hard for what we see as our highest beliefs. It will turn our gaze towards a more universal vision, where our commitments are for our world and society at large, rather than our personal gain only or those of our close relations.
During the eclipse, the best things to do are meditate and go inward, and contemplate your own path towards opening the heart, speaking your truth, and discovering what a truly inspiring display of power and leadership looks like. The year-and-a-half to come will take us in a new direction of inner and outer growth and change. May all beings be happy and at peace.Save
You can book a personal reading to see how else this eclipse is affecting you personally and hitting the planets and houses in your natal chart.
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The Moon will reach peak fullness for this cycle in sidereal Capricorn on August 7th, at 11:11 am PDT, shortly before the partial lunar eclipse reaches fullness at 11:20 am. The eclipse will be visible from Europe, Africa, Asia, India, and Australia, and will appear as only a partial shadow going over the full Moon. Nevertheless, we will experience the eclipse’s effects, brought on by the proximity of the lunar nodes to the Sun and Moon, from all sides of the globe.
Though the lunar nodes, Rahu and Ketu, are still technically at zero degrees of sidereal Leo and Aquarius, this eclipse falls with the Sun and Moon on the Cancer-Capricorn axis. It could be a major wake-up call, stirring the pot around this axis, and giving a preview of the nodal influence that is to come for the next year-and-a-half. Rahu and Ketu will transit into Cancer and Capricorn, respectively, on August 17th, 2017, and continue their journey there until March 7th, 2019.
The Cancer-Capricorn axis is where we learn to balance and integrate two sides of ourselves: the part of us that is driven by the emotions and is sensitive and compassionate (Cancer), and the part of us that is motivated by grounded practicality and consideration of long-term consequences (Capricorn). Cancer is ruled by the motherly yet sometimes fickle Moon, while Capricorn is ruled by the serious, mature and discerning Saturn. Cancer is a water sign — sensitive and fluid —while Capricorn is an earth sign — seeking stability.
Under a Cancerian influence we want to open our hearts, get in touch with our feelings, and allow these perceptual sensations to guide us. Though we can find and develop our nurturing and caring nature here, there is also the danger of widening our boundaries too far, or becoming too emotional, in ways that will not ultimately serve us or others.
Under Capricorn’s influence, we look for the long-term outcomes and seek to create structures and stability that will help us to reach our goals and meet our responsibilities over time. Without checking in with the heart, however, we may become too vigilant in our quest to make the “wisest” decisions.
This lunar cycle began with the Sun and Moon together in Cancer, launching us into a watery, heart-oriented, sensitive homebody kind of month. Emotions are running high — and hot, with both Sun and Mars together in Cancer now. The Full Moon in Capricorn illuminates the contrast to this emotional approach to life. It shows us ways of being more rational and structured, of entering into maturity mode and examining things for the weight of their consequences. It helps us to ground a bit more and tap into our “inner elder,” listening to the wise voice within. We are learning to create a harmony between balancing responsibilities and honoring our emotions.
This full Moon, however, is being partially eclipsed, due to the Moon’s proximity with Ketu, the lunar node (a point in the sky whose alignment with Sun, Moon and Earth creates eclipses), which may obscure the voices of wisdom and reason a bit. Ketu is a shadow planet, and can bring up a lot of confusion and darkness, keeping the Capricorn full Moon energy from being fully illuminated (and illuminating). You may be feeling a lot of uncertainty, self-doubt or self-criticism around your attempts to be more rational and responsible right now, and may also feel like you’re falling short in handling your emotions. With Rahu’s influence near the Sun, still in Cancer, our feelings can be extra intense and prominent.
The full Moon falls in the Vedic nakshatra known as Shravana, a star of listening and learning, symbolized by the ear. With a full Moon and eclipse here, it’s time to open the inner ear and listen deeply to what the universe has been trying to tell you. There is a potential for great knowledge to be gained around this time, but it definitely requires effort, self-reflection, and, as always, grace.
Eclipses are considered inauspicious in Vedic thought (and many other cultures), because of the shadowy and distorting nature that they bring forward. The actual day of an eclipse is best saved for contemplation and spiritual practice, and it is best not to initiate any important activities at this time. The influence of the eclipses can be felt for many weeks before the first eclipse (August 7th), through the last of the particular cycle (August 21st in this case), after which the energies begin to settle down. It is best not to eat, drink, or be in the direct light of an eclipse, lest you absorb more of the negative energy created in the atmosphere.
Nodal Turning Point – Finalizing & Beginning
It is likely that we may be making some major shifts in life around the time of this eclipse cycle (referring to the pair of eclipses during the month of August). It’s not the time to rush into any new ventures or decisions blindly, but, if you’ve been doing some personal work around one particular shadow or fear throughout this last nodal transit, and feel on the verge of breaking through it and making a change in your life, this eclipse cycle may help to give you the impetus.
The lunar eclipse on August 7th is the last eclipse of the 1.5-year transit of Rahu and Ketu through Leo and Aquarius, where they have been since January of 2016. Around each of the eclipse cycles to occur during this time (March 2016, September 2016, and February 2017), we have struggled through facing some tough truths related to Leo and Aquarius — where we learn to balance personal empowerment and self-love with universal service and self-sacrifice. We specifically struggled to learn how to better balance these energies in two particular areas of our lives— which are indicated for each individual depending on your Vedic rising sign (LAST CHANCE to receive the Free E-Book here with your sign’s forecast for this transit).
Wherever we have been doing the work this last year-and-a-half, this eclipse cycle may be our final chance to face the difficult truths about ourselves that have surfaced, and to make (or allow) a change in our minds and lives that will help us to grow through these challenges.
The nodes will actually be changing signs, transiting onto the next axis of Cancer-Capricorn, on August 17th, just before the major Great American Eclipse on August 21st. This total solar eclipse will be visible from all of North America, and will fully launch us into the upcoming nodal transit that will last through March of 2019. The solar eclipse will occur with Sun and Moon in sidereal Leo, however, simultaneously helping us to complete and finalize the lessons of the previous Rahu-Ketu transit.
The next transit, that we are beginning during this eclipse cycle, will compel us to work on facing our challenges around the Cancer-Capricorn axis for the next year-and-a-half. We will look at where we go too far to one extreme, whether it is the emotional end or the practical end, in some areas of life, and too far to the other extreme in other areas. We will face specific challenges in the areas of life indicated by the houses aligned with Cancer and Capricorn in our natal charts. (If you haven’t signed up yet, members of the free mailing list will get the NEXT Rahu-Ketu Transit forecast in their inboxes in the coming weeks.)
Mars – The Frustrated Warrior
“Woman Warrior” by pan.li75
In addition to the challenges brought on by the eclipses, we may be feeling especially hot and bothered this month due to the positions of Mars and the Sun. Mars is the planet that gives us strength, courage, self-discipline, and the will to fight (hopefully over the right things). He has been transiting sidereal Cancer, his sign of debilitation, since July 11th, and will continue here through August 26th. With Mars in soft and squishy Cancer we feel challenged to express our warrior nature, or may just feel a lack of energy in general. We’re also connecting with our higher power through our emotions, while Sun is in Cancer, and this sensitivity is not the most comfortable environment for the gut-centered go-getter Mars.
On top of that, Mars is traveling closely alongside the Sun right now, adding combustion to his state of debilitation. This means we can feel doubly frustrated in our desire to exert effort or express our will; the combust nature of Mars makes us want to fight (maybe even explode), but the soft and watery nature of Cancer pours a cool liquid over our kindling. In some scenarios this doubling effect could help us towards a state of balance, but for most of us we are probably feeling unable to properly express the power of Mars this month. You will feel particularly affected by Mars’ current challenged position if you are ruled by him—Aries or Scorpio Vedic rising sign—or if you have a prominent Mars in your natal chart.
Final heads up! Mercury goes into retrograde motion on August 12th, and will continue in apparent backwards motion through September 5th. This is a time to double-check the details and pay extra attention to our communications, as messages sometimes tend not to get fully across during Mercury retrograde. Don’t freak out though, it’s really not the end of the world. 🙂 The divine universe offers us the challenges that we are equipped to handle (though sometimes it feels like “just barely”), pushing us just to our edge so that we may continue to grow and rise as we meet them.
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.
This Wednesday brings a new Moon cycle, starting us off with the energy of Aries and the Vedic nakshatra of Ashwini. The Sun and Moon coincide on the dark night of Tuesday, April 25th, with the waxing lunar cycle beginning at 5:16 am PDT on April 26th. Both Aries and Ashwini bring on the energy of new beginnings, as the first major and minor signs of the zodiac.
Ashwini is a Vedic constellation found within the first 13°30′ of sidereal Aries. Known as the “horsewoman” or the “twin horses,” this nakshatra is ruled by the Vedic deities called the Ashwin Kumars. These horse-headed twins are known as the physicians of the Gods, and thus the new Moon here leads us into a month of healing and exploring new types of medicine (especially herbal), as well as starting new ventures.
What kind of healing do you need to cultivate in your life right now? What medicines or holistic arts have been calling to you that you are ready to explore more deeply?
One caveat of the horse-power energy offered by Ashwini, and the headstrong, Mars-fueled strength of Aries, the ram, is that we sometimes tend to rush into things that we do not have the endurance to finish. Of course, we’re still experiencing the slowed-down energy of having three planets retrograde — Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter — so that may curb our enthusiasm a bit and allow for more foresight to meld into our springtime fervor.
The Sun, in particular, is exalted right now during his transit of Aries. This gives us an immense sense of physical vitality. It’s a great time to re-start our exercise regimes (yes, even if they already started and fizzled out around the Gregorian new year in January), and other projects that are fueled by our inspiration and gut “yes!” The direction that we wield the horse’s (or ram’s) head right now will be the one where we find the most momentum as we bound into our goals and ventures through the summer. The Sun’s energy, as well as our own, are strongest during the summer months.
What direction do you want to steer your energy for the coming year? Where do you feel the most inspiration, and want to plant seeds whose potential will grow throughout the lightening season? What projects have you had in mind for a while that you feel some extra gusto for right now?
Three Planets Retrograde
With Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury all retrograde right now, we have the potential for some deep introspection along with our high inspiration.
Saturn retrograde helps us to dive deep into our long-term goals and commitments, especially around our work. Saturn also rules over two specific areas of life for each individual, and those areas may be under serious question right now, as you begin to align them with your values over the next two years of his Sagittarius transit.
Jupiter is also retrograde, giving us the opportunity to re-evaluate our goals as far as education and higher learning are concerned. Many people may be reconsidering going back to school, or alternatively taking a break from it. It’s also a good time to take a second look at what teachers and higher values we follow closely, and seeing if these internal relationships are changing for us at all right now. Jupiter also rules two areas of your life that could feel like they’re at a stand-still or going backwards right now.
Mercury retrograde comes more frequently and lasts for only three weeks (as opposed to many months for Jupiter and Saturn). Through his motion, Budha (Mercury) gives us a constant reminder not to plummet ahead too fast with what we think we know. The intellect, our impartial observer, needs times to reset itself, slow down, and look with fresh eyes, so that we don’t become overpowered by the passion of Mars, the opinions of Jupiter, or the desires of Venus (to name a few other influences). Mercury retrograde is a good time to check ourselves, become more curious and observant, and slow down our communication.
This could be a bit more difficult while Mercury transits Aries and Ashwini, who add more fire and head-strong certainty to our analytical mind, so it’s a really good time for a conscious practice of active listening and breathing before speaking. Mercury turns direct again on May 3rd.
Thursday/Friday this week brings the third day of the waxing Moon cycle this month, and both the Sun and Moon will be in their signs of exaltation at that time. This day known as Akshaya Tritiya occurs each year, three days after the new Moon in Aries. With Sun exalted in Aries and Moon exalted in Taurus, we feel optimum strength and inspiration as well as maximum peace of heart and mind. The divine masculine and divine feminine are both most readily available to express themselves through us.
It is hence known as the day of “never diminishing,” and tradition states that any investments made on this day will yield positive returns. This includes physical and monetary investments as well as spiritual and energetic investments … i.e., starting new ventures or setting new intentions in your life. The dark moon night of the 26th is a great time to be still and sit with your intentions, becoming clear on your goals, and putting them into action on the 28th carries the likelihood of an auspicious outcome. (Of course, with the three planets still retrograde it can help to consult an astrologer for the specific timing of any launches … but connecting with your heart and divine guidance are naturally more open pathways on this day as well.)