The new moon in Pisces and Hindu New Year will fall on the early morning of April 7th, 2016 (at 4:24 a.m. PDT), initiating a lunar cycle that will connect us deeply with our emotion and intuition, and allow us to choose where and how we will direct our energy through the coming year.
This new Moon begins the first month of the Hindu calendar year (called Chaitra), during which the Sun makes his transition into Aries sign (or Meesha rashi, in sanskrit). Sun enters sidereal Aries on April 13th, a good three weeks after the equinox. (The western, Tropical zodiac aligns the spring equinox with zero degrees Aries. The sidereal zodiac, used by most Vedic Astrologers, marks the position of the planets as they align with the constellations as viewed from Earth.) From our vantage point, this lunar cycle begins with the Sun, Moon and Venus in the Piscean section of the sky.
We will feel a surge of emotions stirring this month, because of the strong watery nature of Pisces, which is the only purely water-going rashi (sign) in the Vedic zodiac. Your intuition will be strong, as your heart and mind (Moon), soul (Sun), and desire-nature (Venus) align in the “self-abiding” sign of the twin fishes. Jupiter’s rulership over Pisces helps us to connect these with our higher purpose and most optimistic beliefs. Venus is the planet that drives us to seek happiness and pleasure (usually sensual). With Venus in Pisces, it’s possible for our desire-nature to expand, so watch out for over-indulging. At the same time, the sattvic nature of Pisces gives us the opportunity to elevate our desires into things that support our values and our path to spiritual liberation.
In the environment, our bodies are engulfed in the watery flow of winter’s melting ice and spring’s rushing rivers. Internally, our minds and emotional bodies have begun to thaw out of the static quietude of winter, as the nourishing rains create fertile beds for our hopes and dreams to grow. Pisces’ energy will draw us deeply into our imaginations and our mystical power of psychic awareness. Through these, we can discover our most purposeful visions for the coming year, and Pisces’ flexibility will give us the power to change directions if necessary. This is a prime time to orient ourselves in the direction we want to go this year, so that when Sun transits into Aries and we speed ahead into activity, we will be facing the direction that we want to go.
Where do you want to steer your precious life-force this year? The dark Moon time (mostly on Wednesday, April 6th, before the new cycle begins on the 7th) is a potent night to go inward and reflect on what you learned during the last lunar cycle (and the last yearly cycle through the seasons). The most recent moon cycle brought two eclipses, which revealed a lot of our subconscious patterning, whatever was holding us back or calling for our attention. After the illumination of these shadows, we saw where we need to make some changes in our lives, either by throwing out limiting beliefs, or by realigning ourselves towards our highest potential with more clarity and purpose.
The new Moon in Pisces offers us the chance to enter deeper states of meditation, and brings forth our sattvic nature (the part of us that is most aligned with universal spirit). This new Moon is in the Vedic nakshatra (constellation) called Revati, “the wealthy.” This star relates to Goddess Lakshmi’s abundance (both material and spiritual wealth). Though we often think first of her material blessings, this star actually has a great deal to do with unlocking spiritual wealth and wisdom. It is the last of the 27 nakshatras, symbolizing the spiritual maturity that can be achieved as one nears the end of life (or a cycle) in the material realm. It is a place of letting go of earthly attachment, and preparing to enter the mystery of the next unknown chapter.
The ruling deity of Revati is Pushan, who ensures safe journeys (including those into the next realm), and the care of livestock and pastures (also symbolic of wealth). As you follow your intuition and psychic awareness, you may feel called to embark upon a new venture this year. This dark Moon time is a good night to gather your energy and your prayers, and call in divine support for a prosperous journey. Pisces, like the small fish in the vast ocean, evokes the energy of surrender and faith. After we have chosen our direction (with cues from the intuitive silence of meditation), and offered our prayers to the universe for guidance, we must also surrender to the flow and have faith that it will carry us where we are meant to go.
Rahu and Jupiter remain joined in sidereal Leo, exaggerating the general sense of the importance of one’s own beliefs right now. At the time of this new Moon, these planets will be in the sixth house of task-oriented hard work, selfless service, and dealings with enemies and opponents. If you’re feeling political, this month’s energy may inspire you to get involved and do some 6th-house “chores” of service to support your beliefs and challenge your opponents (like fundraising and sharing information about your favorite candidate, or getting on the phone bank to encourage supporters to go out and vote on caucus days). Be aware of the potential to face some serious clashes with those who disagree with you philosophically.
The new Moon joins Venus in Pisces as well, aligning our heart and soul with our desires and relationships. We may really bond with people over dreams and visions this month, especially when Venus enters Revati (on the 14th), his nakshatra of exaltation. Here our normally sensory-bound desire bodies reach for a more emotionally and spiritually based satisfaction. There could be some strong psychic connections. In partnerships we could be feeling especially romantic and optimistic right now, and may be coming together around shared principles, hopes, and dreams. Be mindful of overindulging, however, or going too far into the dream-world, especially if you have a tendency to try to escape from reality.
Saturn has recently turned retrograde, where he appears to move backwards through the sky from our viewpoint on earth. This will last through the summer, and will give us all a good look at our long-term goals, especially in the area of life where Saturn is currently transiting (sidereal Scorpio) over our personal chart. If you have planets in sidereal Scorpio, you may feel like the pressure is on to do some serious reflection in that area of your life. He may also disrupt things in the two houses that he rules for us individually. For a deeper look at how Saturn Retrograde is affecting you, be sure to sign up for my mailing list so you’ll be the first to get the free Saturn Retrograde Forecast for Your Sign.
The first nine days of this lunar month, Chaitra, comprise Vasanta Navaratri, a springtime festival for honoring the many forms of the Goddess (the Maha, or “Great,” Navaratri is observed in the fall)–Jai Ma Durga!. The ninth day of Chaitra is Ram Navami, the celebration of the birth of Lord Ram. Chant the name of Ram! Then the birth of Hanuman, Ram’s greatest devotee, is celebrated on purnima tithi, the full Moon phase of the month. This is called Hanuman Jayanti, and falls on April 21st in North America. It is a powerful holy day to offer prayers to Lord Hanuman, to summon personal devotion and strength, and invoke the grace to calm and tame our restless minds so that we may live in blissful awareness of divine presence. Jai Hanuman!
Today the Sun entered sidereal Aries, meaning it is now between the earth and the stars making up the constellation of the Ram. Vedic astrology follows the sidereal (or star-based) zodiac. You may be thinking “didn’t the Sun enter Aries on March 21st, the spring Equinox?” According to the tropical zodiac used in Western astrology, yes, because in the tropical zodiac Aries’ start is defined by the vernal equinox, or the time when the ecliptic (the sun’s perceived path around earth, from our point of view), intersects with the celestial equator (basically, a circle in space aligned with the equator). Below is a good visual from wikipedia. Basically, we think of the equinoxes as the times when the Sun is directly “above” the equator, giving equal light to the northern and southern hemispheres. Because of the tilt of the earth, this happens only twice a year. From our perspective on earth, the Sun was still aligned with the constellation of Pisces over the last few weeks, and has just crossed into the beginning of Aries’ section of the sky today. We will begin to really feel that springtime burst of energy now and through the next month.
Aries, a fire sign ruled by Mars, is where the Sun is exalted, or able to make the most of its energy. Sun, or Surya, relates to our life-force, health, and physical energy, so we may feel a rush of strength, empowerment, and inspiration coming on during this time. Especially because we have passed the heavy energy of the eclipses, this is a good time to get moving forward with projects and plans for the year (…starting after tomorrow! The very day of transition the Sun is not yet fully established in its new sign). With this forward-moving Ram energy behind the Sun, it’s a good time to check in with your health, do a springtime cleanse, or start a new exercise regime. Sun also represents the Atman, or the higher self. It is a sattvic planet aimed at purification and truth, and offers generously its life-giving energy that sustains everything. When it is in this strong position, we feel the abundance of strength within that lets us not only move forward in individual pursuits but also in ways that help others. Give back to the earth by offering your (Sun’s) energy into her as you start your garden. A strong Sun compels us to align with truth on all levels, so it may be a good time to review your own accountability and responsibilities.
Sun is now joined Mars, the planet of strength and courage, which adds even more vigor to our energy this month. He is also joining Mercury in Aries now, which may feel a bit overwhelming to our sense for reasoning and communicating. Mercury is combust at the moment and approaching Mars as well, so all that heat can add fire to our speech and intellect. Do your best to slow down when communicating and avoid arguing or blurting things out too fast. The intellect is sharp now, so if you haven’t finished your taxes yet, give it a try! Sun is a planet of hard work and responsibility, and Aries brings a power to this pursuit, so it is a good time to check in with yours. We’ll fully engage the Ram energy when the New Moon in Aries occurs on Saturday, April 18th.
Happy Navaratri! Today begins the Hindu holiday of the “Nine Nights” that celebrate Devi, the Divine Mother Goddess, in her many forms. Two major Navaratri celebrations happen each year with the change of seasons, in March/April, bringing in the spring, and in September/October, celebrating the harvest and preparing for winter. This Navaratri begins on the first day of the lunar month Chaitra, the first month of the Vedic calendar year. The goddess represents the “Shakti” or divine energy that is the vehicle through which we experience life in order to know “Shiva,” representing the divine consciousness behind it all, and so we celebrate her. For three nights each we worship the goddess in the forms of Durga, Laxmi, and Sarasvati. These goddesses represent the stages we must go through on our spiritual journey to reach the state of pure consciousness bliss. Durga is often known as the “demon-slayer.” This symbolizes the demons or negative tendencies of our minds that we must destroy in order to move forward in life with peace in the heart and mind, as well as the external obstacles we must overcome. Laxmi is known as the goddess of wealth or prosperity. This represents not just material wealth, but a spiritual wealth we seek to acquire in the form of virtues, or positive qualities, like compassion and devotion. Sarasvati, riding a swan, the highest-flying bird and vehicle for prana (the breath and life force that sustains us), represents the higher knowledge that can be attained after we purify ourselves, as well as all kinds of knowledge that we study and practice in our service. The divine truth realized through these three (through different forms of spiritual practice) is indeed the peace and oneness of pure consciousness bliss. Navaratri is a good time to practice yoga, meditation, and rituals to bring about divine-mother qualities in ourselves and in the world. Especially with the chaotic energies that are accompanying the solar eclipse of today, focusing on spiritual practices and mindfulness is especially important in the coming days. Allow the demons to be destroyed, and call upon your higher qualities to attain peace and lightness within yourself, and then let it spread to others so all of creation can be uplifted in harmony.
Friday brings the convergence of Sun, Moon, Ketu (the South Node), and Mars in Pisces for a full Solar Eclipse, and hosts a potent batch of astrological beginnings. It is the vernal equinox, when daylight equals nighttime hours, and all life starts a growth spurt under the increasing sunlight and warmth as springtime blossoms. It is also a New Moon, and each new moon is also the beginning of a cycle where we will process the energies related to a certain zodiac sign (Vedic Rashi). This particular new Moon also initiates the first month of the Vedic lunar calendar, Chaitra, hence it is like the first day of the new year in this calendar. Eclipses are powerful times for transformation, and yoked with this assemblage of transformative energies, we can anticipate some major upheavals (especially in northern Africa, Europe, and northeast Russia, where the eclipse will occur) . As we are approaching the eclipse it is likely that we’ve been feeling these forces already.
This eclipse and New Moon are occurring in early sidereal Pisces, in the nakshatra Uttara Bhadrapada, at 2:36 am Pacific time on March 20th. Pisces is a dual or mutable water sign, ruled by Jupiter. Emotions run deep in Pisces, and even deeper under the star Uttara Bhadrapada, which is ruled by the celestial serpent, Ahirbudhnya. Serpent energy is related to Kundalini and other deeply hidden emotional waters. We can expect some of these to rise to the surface around this Eclipse. Uttara Bhadrapada relates to the funeral cot and the process we go through after dying, so it is possible to experience a reawakening through this eclipse, if we allow the death of what no longer serves.
Eclipses in general are able to reveal a lot of energies that are otherwise subconscious or buried. Ketu, the South Node, relates to karma that we have done a lot of work with in the past (in past lives and childhood), and have gained some wisdom with, but are still finishing the process. Whichever themes Ketu represents in your chart, you may be experiencing these potently at this time. You will also be working with the house energies of whichever house Pisces is in your chart.
During the solar eclipse, the Sun’s light is literally being blocked out by the shadow graha Ketu, so it can feel very disconcerting. (Though it is the Moon that crosses in front of the Sun, it is actually passing over the spot in the sky where Ketu is located, thus the shadow graha emerges.) Subconscious fears arise and seem to swallow our brilliant life-force. Your inner disapproving parent may be coming out now, and perhaps explosively, with Mars conjoining this eclipse. The Pisces energy may compel us to try to hide from these forces, by escapism into drugs, alcohol, or television. If this need for isolation is felt, offer yourself the chance to grow through it constructively by practicing meditation, journaling, or examining your dreams. Take special care to be gentle in your interactions with others, as latent grievances may be coming up with a lot of charge.
If we apply ourselves to the opportunity of inner work around this eclipse, great transformation is possible. Ketu may have harnessed certain convictions into our being that may no longer be serving us, and this is a good time to uproot them (we may not have a choice). Take time with a journal and write down your values and goals, and what things are holding you back that you need to let go of. Now is a very powerful time for kundalini awakening and movement. Saturn rules both Anuradha, where it began its retrograde course on Saturday, and Uttara Bhadrapada. Both nakshatras are related to kundalini, and Saturn’s retrograde motion in Scorpio is giving us the opportunity to dive deeper into our commitment to transformation.
The benefic planets are also influencing this eclipse, so there may be a certain grace aiding us along even amidst the disturbance. Pisces’ ruler Jupiter is aspecting this eclipse from its retrograde position in Cancer, shining its bounty of wisdom towards the shadowed cluster. It is also aspecting retrograde Saturn, offering a grounding philosophy towards the eclipse nakshatra’s ruler. Look to your teachers and philosophies to help anchor yourself in a supportive cradle through this process. Mercury and Venus are surrounding the eclipse on either side, in Aquarius and Aries, respectively. You may begin to process the emotional churning with the intellect, and finish it with a stronger desire to compromise and see everyone’s happiness improved.
Take good care of your nervous system during this time. The high emotional intensity of Pisces and Uttara Bhadrapada, coupled with the added heat and potential aggravation of Mars, could lead to an overload of stress as limiting beliefs are being broken down. Honor yourself with alone time to work with everything that is coming to the surface. Apply soothing oils and bathe frequently during this time if possible. As we begin this Pisces moon cycle and the new lunar year, with the added force of the Uttara Bhadrapada eclipse, set your intentions for what type of emotional cleansing and rebirthing you need, and how you want to see yourself emerge into this new cycle. The hours surrounding the peak of the eclipse are a powerful time for spiritual practice, especially if you are on the side of the planet where the eclipse’s shadow is visible.