Title Photo: “Howling at the Moon,” by Paree.
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.
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Guru Purnima – Full Moon in Sagittarius
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.
Healing New Moon in Aries + Akshaya Tritiya
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.)
Wishing you a blessed new astrological year!
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Virgo Full Moon, Hanuman Jayanti, and Retrograde Slowdown
Title Photo Credit: “01 The Solar System PIA10231, mod02” by Image Editor, C.C. 2.0.
This Monday, April 10th brings the purnima full moon phase under a mass of retrograde planets. The Moon reaches peak fullness in sidereal Virgo at 11:08 pm PDT. In contrast to the sensitive and dreamy nature of Pisces that led us into this lunar cycle, the Virgo full moon illuminates for us some more grounded and practical ways of looking at the flood of emotions we have experienced lately.
Venus and Pisces
You probably remember my emphasis on Venus this Moon cycle, since the planet of desire and relationships has been having a heavy influence lately. Venus joined the Sun and Moon in Pisces at the start of this Moon cycle, setting the tone for (another) month of really focusing on relationships and how we go about achieving pleasure in this world. Venus has been transiting Pisces since late January, where he’s considered exalted.” This time frame has compelled us to realign our desire with the cosmic desire, taking a look at what our truest desires really are, and seeing how that relates to our most cherished values. Pisces is a place where we can learn to surrender into the divine flow, and also come into much deeper contact with our emotions. It’s also a sign that brings up the possibility of escapism, so if you have that tendency it’s a good time to watch out for it.
Since March 4th, Venus has been on his retrograde course. This semi-rare occurrence (happening once every 18 months), is a time where we seriously back up and reflect on our relationships as well as our pleasures. I have seen a LOT of people experiencing a degree of retreat in relationships as well, feeling more aversion to partners and feeling much more inwardly drawn. We seem to notice everything that’s wrong with the relationship, or the partner, or better yet in our own approach to human harmony. It can certainly feel a bit painful at times, but this is an opportunity for us to become more self-aware, and elevate the way that we approach and behave in our relationships.
- What recent revelations have you had about your personal relationship style?
- When you check in with yourself and allow yourself to feel your true desires, what do you find?
- How do your desires relate with your highest values, philosophy, and beliefs?
Virgo Full Moon
This Virgo full moon is a great time to actually seek and find some tangible methods of implementing that elevated approach to pleasure. Virgo is an earth sign ruled by Mercury (the intellect), so this full moon guides us towards practical and implementable tools to improve our modes of relating, and reaching our desires. Jupiter joins the full moon here, so our belief structures and higher guidance is a strong support right now. We have the chance to take tools from our highest teachings and create daily practices and specific methods that take us towards our goals and desires.
- What small daily practice can you add to your life that harmonizes both your desires and your beliefs?
- What conscious plan of action can you implement, either on your own or with a partner, to better support your relationships?
This full moon falls within the section of Virgo known as Chitra, “the brilliant.” This is a very potent nakshatra (Vedic constellation) for taking the beauty that we perceive through Venus and birthing it into form in the world. The deity of this star is Vishvakarma, the celestial architect, who reminds us of the cosmic harmonic perfection that is truly an amalgam of beauty and order (think sacred geometry). This concept elicits the understanding that desire and beauty are not exclusive from sensibility and logic.
- As your own architect, what steps can you take towards weaving more beauty and harmony into structured practices your life?
So Much Retrograde!
Though the full moon phase usually has us feeling a little bit more active and outward, this time around might really be better served with some personal retreat time. There is a lot to reflect on due to Venus retrograde alone, but on top of that, this purnima also finds Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Rahu and Ketu retrograde (the nodes always move in apparent retrograde direction). That’s six out of nine Vedic grahas appearing to move “backwards” through the zodiac. This mass of retrograde planets lasts through the week, from April 9th through the 15th.
This could mean that we will experience a major slowdown in almost all areas of life next week. Don’t worry, this just means that it’s a time to schedule some downtime and go inward. It’s not the best time to plan on starting new ventures or important milestones in life. In the area where I live, this week is spring break for a lot of the schools. A little vacation or retreat could definitely be appropriate right now, as things aren’t really moving forward anyway in terms of work, relationships, education, and communication. But be prepared for a few possible hiccups in travel logistics or scheduling of events.
On the following Friday, the 15th, Venus will turn direct. We will have hopefully found more clarity around our relationships and desires by then, and can begin to better implement our plan of action the between then and the end of May, as Venus continues his journey forward through Pisces.
Shani or Saturn is one of the planets whose retrograde motion recently began. He is the planet governing our commitments, perseverance, and work ethic, so with this motion we may be feeling ourselves slow down, and beginning to reconsider our long-term goals, particularly around career. This retrograde transit lasts from now through August 25th, during which time he will transit back into Scorpio (having only recently begun his journey through sidereal Sagittarius). This will give us the chance to take another last look at the commitments we were working through during his Scorpio transit over the last two years, which are very particular for each individual sign. (Email me for the free Saturn Retrograde in Scorpio e-book if you didn’t get it yet.)
Remember, above all, Saturn is here to teach us patience. With Mars in Aries while Saturn is slowing down, you might feel like a fireball wanting to speed ahead but frustrated at your ability to do so. This week’s mass of retrograde planets is giving you the opportunity to slow things down and turn inward for a minute, reflecting on what is really important.
Retrograde dates to remember:
- Jupiter Retrograde: February 5th – June 9th
- Venus Retrograde: March 4th – April 15th
- Saturn Retrograde: April 5th – August 25th
- Mercury Retrograde: April 9th – May 3rd
The purnima full moon phase this month also indicates Hanuman Jayanti, the celebration of the birth of Lord Hanuman. This Vedic deity represents the penultimate devotee, and shows us the immense strength that great faith, humility, and service can bring forth from within us. With all of this retrograde motion, and the powerful influence of the “Venus in Pisces” Moon cycle we are traversing, devotional practice is probably the best medicine. Chant, sing, meditate, and especially, find some ways to be of service, in order to honor Hanuman this Monday.
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*I know some Western astrologers cringe to hear Venus called “he,” but Shukra is seen as a male deity in traditional Vedic thought … though his attributes are feminine.
Emotional New Moon with Venus, and the Month Ahead
This Sunday to Monday brings in a dark Moon phase that leads into a new lunar cycle on March 27th (7:57 pm PDT). This powerful cycle will begin with the Sun, Moon, and a retrograde and exalted Venus in Uttara Bhadrapada, a Vedic nakshatra in the middle of sidereal Pisces. This cycle really helps us to navigate life through our feeling nature, coming into close contact with our emotions and desires. The effects of Venus’s motion have been tangible lately, and he will continue to have a strong influence over us in the month to come. This New Moon also leads us into the springtime Navaratri festival, a nine-night festival for celebrating the goddess energy.
Venus’s Powerful Position
Since I’ve been feeling it strongly myself, and have heard strong results from a lot of clients as well, I’ve been dying to ask… How has the exalted and retrograde Venus transit been treating you? The planet of pleasure and relationships moved into his sign of exaltation (Pisces) at the end of January, then took a backwards turn on March 4th and has been making his retrograde transit throughout the month.
His initial entry into Pisces may have made us feel extra romantic (about everything), and perhaps a little over-indulgent in pleasures of all sorts. Did you allow some last few binge-snacking sessions in the rainy season, before getting ready for that spring cleanse you’re planning? Let yourself fall hard for someone a little too quickly? Watch out for following this alignment too far into the depths of your fantasy, as it can also bring up our escapist tendencies.
There’s also a lot of potential growth within this alignment, as we have the opportunity to bring our pleasures and relationships into alignment with our values and highest beliefs. Maybe you dove into the nectarous ocean of devotion instead, one of the higher possibilities of Venus transiting the sign of surrender. It’s also a great time for becoming more aware of your feelings, and your greatest desires, as the planet ruling our happiness swims through the emotional waters of Pisces.
But amidst all this… Venus turned retrograde. While we were feeling so enthused and really enjoying getting carried away a bit by our pleasures, he slowed down, came to a stop, and started moving backwards (from our viewpoint here on earth). All of a sudden we can really see all the problems in our relationships, our indulgent tendencies, and other avenues we use to escape. People from the past may be popping up, and so are the unresolved karmic patterns we carry within us, things that just aren’t working for us in the way we relate with people and pleasure.
Please remember: there is actually a lot of grace here! We can’t move forward towards love, partnership, or other desires without learning to align with and surrender to our hearts and higher power. What is your heart’s deepest desire? You may be able to connect with it while Venus is in Pisces. Jupiter (“Guru”) is the ruler of Pisces, and is shining his bright light onto Venus from sidereal Virgo, directly opposite. The potential for wisdom is here.
Many people are feeling some degree of “retreat” in their relationships, and that’s okay as well. When Venus is retrograde, his power is turned inward. We’re looking inward at the source of our desires, rather than outward for objects of them. It’s okay to take some time to yourself right now. In fact, it might be a really healthy choice if you’re going to use that space constructively to do work on yourself. Self-reflect, self-inquire, feel your feelings, and honor the divine power within you.
The Vedic nakshatra where this New Moon begins with Venus also offers incredible power towards this end. Uttara Bhadrapada is represented by the back half of a bed or a funeral pyre, signifying the potential for us to completely let go and surrender to the divine unknown (ultimately, death). It’s also ruled by the deity called Ahirbudhnya, the celestial serpent. He brings us into closer contact with our deepest emotions and the hidden Kundalini energy. We experienced powerful transformative eclipses aligned with this nakshatra in March and September of 2015, so this may be bringing up some familiar themes from those times.
I’ve noticed that this is an especially potent time for those with natal Venus in Virgo. With natal Venus in Virgo, one’s regular style of approaching happiness and relationships is rather practical and analytical. With Venus transiting Pisces and Uttara Bhadrapada, we are better able to tap into our watery nature, our feelings, and follow those as a pathway to our desires, rather than attempt to follow only rational thinking.
Saturn, Mars, and Mercury
Since Saturn peeked his head into Sagittarius and Moola nakshatra in the end of January, he’s also been compelling us to go deep, and look at what pressures drive us most strongly. We’re examining the source of what makes us want to stand up, work hard, and make commitments. In particular we’re looking what values inform our long-term decision-making process. Saturn’s motion is already slowing down, however, and in the first week of April he’ll be coming to a full stop and beginning retrograde motion on April 5th. This begins a 5-month period of slowing down and internally examining how and why we approach hard work and commitment.
Mars is currently strong in his own sign of Aries, but this can lead to more heated arguments as we try to improve our relationships dynamics — especially with Mercury, the planet of communication, now joining Mars there. With Mercury in Aries we can easily get feisty in conversation, and can tend to jump to quick conclusions in general. With Mars in Bharani nakshatra, however, our actions can assist in the rebirthing process we may be experiencing.
A Heads up for April
The middle of April is a particularly great time to take things slow and schedule in some time for yourself. Between April 9th and 15th, we will have four planets retrograde — Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and Mercury (retrograde from April 9th through May 3rd). During this time a lot in your life may feel like it’s really slowing down, going backwards, or just not moving forward in the way you want it to. We’ll be rethinking or second-guessing our values, teachings, relationships, work, commitments, and plans. This is a time for inner reflection! Consider scheduling yourself some down time or even a retreat during this week, and avoid planning to start any new ventures.
Later in the month there is a great day coming for new beginnings, on Akshaya Tritiya which falls on April 28th. On this third day of the waxing Moon, both the Sun and the Moon will be in their signs of exaltation — Aries and Taurus, respectively. This is known as the day of “never diminishing,” and any investments or ventures made on this day are likely to lead to successful returns. We’ll still have three planets retrograde, but Venus will have turned direct on the 15th, so we’ll be starting to move forward again with more clarity on how to achieve happiness and harmony.
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Healing Eclipse on the New Moon + Maha Shivaratri
Sunday begins the New Moon cycle and brings with it a powerful eclipse whose alignment offers some deep healing opportunities. The annular solar eclipse will be visible from much of Africa, South America, and Antarctica, and will coincide with the exact time of the darkest Moon phase at 6:58 a.m PST (14:58 UTC) on Sunday, February 26th. This eclipse occurs with the Sun, Moon, Mercury, and Ketu all in sidereal Aquarius within the Vedic nakshatra of Shatabisha.
Aquarius is a sign ruled by Saturn, and it is where we remember something greater than ourselves. It is where we become inspired towards universal service, and to offering effort into society and for the greater good. Saturn, the planet of pressure and time, is aspecting the planets of this eclipse from his recent seat in sidereal Sagittarius, compelling us even more deeply to stand up for our principles and beliefs, and commit ourselves to these through hard work.
Shatabisha is the Vedic nakshatra that most elicits the concept of healing. It is the star of the “100 physicians” or the “100 medicines,” and is ruled by Varuna, the deity of the cosmic waters. With many planets under the influence of this star, we are strongly called towards our journey of self-healing, trying many different medicines and healing techniques to get there. Having Ketu here, eclipsing the Sun and the Moon, presents the opportunity to go deeply into our subconscious blockages and find release from past karma and trauma.
The Greater Eclipse Cycle
This is the third solar eclipse that has occurred since Rahu and Ketu transited into the Leo-Aquarius axis in January of 2016 (download the Free E-Book and Forecast by Sign for this transit if you haven’t yet!). Throughout this time, we have experienced shadows and blockages coming up around the themes of the Leo-Aquarius axis. On a broad scale, this relates to the balance of personal power and universal service that we play out through society. On an individual level, it has raised questions around the house-themes of Leo and Aquarius in the personal Vedic birth chart.
We have been uncovering layers of our own karma through this time, and discovering where change is needed in our lives–either through a change in our actions or a change in our thoughts. Our personal challenges become most apparent during the eclipse windows, which have occurred this month, as well as during August and March of 2016. Though these windows can be difficult times, the power of the lunar nodes helps us to see where we are stuck. With self-awareness and observation it becomes less difficult, but when we are not paying attention or are clinging to our own attachments, the eclipses can feel like they are wreaking havoc on our lives.
Since this is the third and final pair of eclipses during this transit of Rahu and Ketu, it is a time for really reaching some clarity around the lessons being brought up over the last year-and-a-half. Eclipses do cause confusion and are inauspicious in general, but as we do the work of self-inquiry and practice astute awareness, we can gain insight and more light after going into the darkness of their shadows. The healing power behind Shatabisha nakshatra may present us with some different medicines, or practices, to assist in our evolutionary process, assisting us in learning how to flow better with the cosmic waters.
In addition to the healing energy of this nakshatra, we are receiving the powerful gift of deep meditation offered by the Shivaratri holiday. Maha Shivaratri (or Sivaratri) is “the great night of Lord Shiva,” celebrated in India and around the world each year on the 14th night of the waning Moon this month. This year it falls on the night of Friday, February 24th into Saturday the 25th, around the world (except for mid-Australia/Japan and Eastward, where it falls on the 25th/26th).
On Shivaratri, it is a common practice to stay up the whole night in meditation, fasting and praying. This commemorates the sacrifice made by Lord Shiva when he kept the poison that arose from the milk ocean in his throat in order to protect the entire creation. In this story, his wife Parvati held his throat to keep him from consuming the poison, and thus this holiday also commemorates the union of masculine and feminine forces, Shakti and Shiva, yin and yang. In many places this is represented by a celebration of Shiva and Parvati’s wedding, and one may see large statues of the two paraded about town and worshiped.
Shiva and Parvati represent the path towards awakening consciousness through the ascetic side of yoga, and the practices of tapas and renunciation. By renouncing food and sleep for one night, particularly on the night of Shivaratri, we can gain some of the benefit of the austerities that these two performed for aeons. Tapas, or austerities, are yogic practices of undergoing difficult situations in order to gain more patience, as well as deeper understanding that we are in fact the eternal soul and not the body-mind with which we normally identify.
On this Shivaratri, as we approach the transformative energy of the eclipse in Shatabisha, the opportunity for overcoming the challenges and shadows of our minds is great. The power of group meditation occurring all over the world also contributes to this. With the energy of Aquarius behind us, let us offer the fruits of our practice towards the peace and happiness of all beings on earth, and spread the benefit for the greater good.
Mantras for Maha Shivaratri:
Om Namah Shivaya (the panchakshari mantra – “I bow down to infinite consciousness”)
Tyagenaike Amrtatvamanashuhu (by renunciation alone, immortality is gained)
Personal chart readings are available to delve deeper into the meaning of this eclipse cycle in your life.
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