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.
The new lunar cycle begins tonight at 7:31 pm PDT. This dark Moon night finds four planets in the Vedic nakshatra called Ardra, located within the Gemini section of the sky. This nakshatra is actually located at the star Betelguese (also known as Alpha Orionis), a red supergiant star within the constellation of Orion. The Sun and Moon converge here tonight at 8° of sidereal Gemini, with Mercury close by at 11° and Mars at 18°. Aligned with the outermost edges of our galaxy, there is a powerful yet stormy energy to this nakshatra, and the month ahead may bring some intense changes, followed by a sense of renewal.
Rudra is the deity for this nakshatra, and he is a fierce form of Lord Shiva associated with storms and destruction. In Vedic thought, however, we recognize that the destructive aspect of creation is actually what allows change, transformation, and rebirth (sometimes I think of it as the cosmic composting process). Ardra nakshatra is often represented by a teardrop, which symbolizes the letting go that comes before new chapters begin. It is associated with the spring rains as well, which denotes the energy of renewal. After an intense storm the grounds are always moist and rich, and it is then that they are most fertile for new life to begin.
Nevertheless, when planets are in this part of the sky we often see rather intense and disruptive events worldwide. Since this alignment occurs on a new Moon, the energy is more inwardly directed, however, which could imply more inner work and processing, rather than outward turmoil … but some purification through disruptive cleansing or turbulence is still a possibility.
As this nakshatra aligns with the middle of Gemini, there is also a strongly intellectual and research-oriented quality to this new Moon, and the coming month. Gemini is the most flexible and quick-thinking of all the signs, as a mutable air-sign ruled by Mercury. Mercury is currently in his own sign, which opens up our curiosity, intellect, and analytical nature. Since he is so close to the Sun, however, he is combust at the moment, which can add a bit too much heat to our minds, and may cause our communication efforts to fail before completion. Mars is also nearby, adding even more heat (and aggression) to Mercury, so be careful not to allow your speech to become too intense, angry, or argumentative.
We can channel the power of this alignment by calling in discipline (from Mars), purification (from the Sun), and a heart-alignment (from the Moon), as we pursue research, communication, and learning this month. Travel is also a strong possibility, given so much mobile energy behind the planets. Gemini also gives us a strong ability to see both sides of a situation or argument. Represented by a pair of twins (or partners), Gemini represents both sides of a mirror at once, and really allows us to be more impartial and step into another’s shoes while reasoning. As of yesterday, Saturn is no longer aspecting Gemini, which frees us up from the pressure that he was putting on all the planets here for the last few weeks. He is still in a tight spot known as gandanta, however, and stronger feelings of constriction may persist for a few more weeks.
Saturn is now in Scorpio, and will continue there through late October. He is still in retrograde motion until the end of August, during which time we are feeling more introspective about our work and commitments. This is the last stretch of a roughly three-year transit of Saturn through Scorpio, which has brought some deep evaluation of our commitment to facing our fears and vulnerabilities, and putting in the hard work necessary for our personal path to transformation. There was also a lot of pressure and consideration of goals in the area of life indicated by Scorpio in each individual’s natal chart, and we the next for months are a time to re-affirm our insights and commitments here.*
The full Moon coming on July 8th is the one known as Guru Purnima, an auspicious day for giving thanks for all our teachers and gurus. This is a great time to acknowledge all those who have served your learning and evolution, including spiritual, theoretical, and vocational teachers. It is also a great chance to call forth the teacher within yourself, and recognize your potential to share what you have learned with others to whom your knowledge or experience may be of service. Guru is the name for Jupiter in Sanskrit, so it is also an auspicious time to connect with this planet.
*If you are already on my mailing list, you should have received the Saturn Retrograde Guide with Saturn-in-Scorpio forecast for your sign, either in April 2016 or when you joined the list, whichever is more recent. (Search your inbox for it if you’re already on the list!) If you’ve not yet joined the list, you can get the Saturn Retrograde Guide by signing up here, for free!
The full Moon occurs in sidereal Gemini tonight! The exact full Moon time is 6:34 am EST on January 12th. This full Moon falls in the Vedic nakshatra of Punarvasu, a constellation of renewal. Meaning “good again,” or “more light,” this is a great nakshatra to connect with as we begin the new year. This star-sign comes after the stormy and turbulent nakshatra of Ardra, and represents the calm after the storm. Many people experienced 2016 as especially turbulent (and many astrological alignments contributed to that!). Now is is an excellent time to be reminded of the rebirth that can come after chaotic times.
Punarvasu can be identified in sidereal Gemini, around the stars Castor and Pollux. The preceding constellation, Ardra, is ruled by Rudra, a fierce form of Shiva. He reminds us of the destructive powers of nature, and challenges us to find peace and consciousness amidst turmoil. Punarvasu comes after Ardra, and signifies the return of light. During this time of year we begin to feel the light of the Sun returning after the December solstice, as the seasons begin to wax in the northern hemisphere. The deity for this nakshatra is Aditi, a fertile mother-goddess. After the rains, the ground becomes moist, lush and ready for new life to begin its journey upward.
What have the intense rains of winter watered in your life? What has been destroyed by them, creating space for something new to be planted? Where have you nourished the grounds thus far, and what do you desire to grow this year? Now is a time to rise up and connect with your intentions, offering your vision forward and finding the light after the wreckage. The Gemini full Moon offers a fresh start. This is fitting as it coincides with the start of the New Year, and also with Makara Sankranti (January 14th), a Hindu holiday celebrating the return of the light when the Sun enters sidereal Capricorn.
Both Gemini and Punarvasu are strongly dual in nature, enabling us to see both sides of a situation. In Western lore, the twins, Castor and Pollux are found here. In Vedic mythology, Gemini is called Mithuna, “the pair.” The two figures were seen in Vedic times as a male and a female, representing the yin and yang aspects of existence, and the dance between the two.
Gemini reminds us to be open, curious, and playful. The full Moon here offers a contrast to the strongly opinionated and purposeful energy of Sagittarius, where we began this cycle. Under a Sagittarian influence, we move and act closely in alignment with our beliefs. This can sometimes lead us in the right direction, but sometimes can lead us into dogmatism or over-zealousness. Gemini reminds us to remain flexible, and allows us to change directions if we want. The light of the full Moon here illuminates the amenable and resilient side of ourselves, and aids us in going with the flow and adapting to life’s circumstance. This lunar cycle teaches us to move with purpose, while at the same time reminds us of the need to stay open.
The energy of this month may be very tough on relationships, as we’ve had Venus, Mars, and Ketu joining together in Aquarius for the last couple of weeks. All three remain here for another week more to come, and Venus and Ketu stay joined through the 27th. Ketu with Venus brings up doubts and shadows around relationships, while Mars adds a level of passion and intensity that can result in arguing or fighting. Ketu also has the potential to break things and set us free from the past. If you’ve been trying to move forward from something or someone, this could be the time. If you’re trying to hold something together, be aware of the added challenge that is coming from this alignment. With these planets in Aquarius, work on aligning your relationships, pursuit of happiness, and actions with your highest goals. Service to society or a greater cause will help you to work with these energies now.
We’re nearing another eclipse cycle, with the nodes eclipsing the Moon and Sun (partially) on February 10th and 26th. This is the last full eclipse cycle with the nodes on the Leo-Aquarius axis. If you never read the report for your sign about this, download the free e-book now. The coming eclipse cycle is a final time to get a really good glimpse of our shadows around power and service, and particularly in relation to the house-axis aligned with Leo and Aquarius in your Vedic chart. If there are lessons you’ve been trying to ignore for the past year, don’t pass up this opportunity to pay attention to them and make some changes in your life, whether internal or external.
At the end of the month, on January 26th, Saturn will enter Sagittarius for the first time, after a 2.5-year transit through Scorpio. This will bring big changes in where and how we approach our long-term goals, and where we feel acute pressures in life. Then on the 27th, Venus will transit into Pisces, where he’ll remain exalted for four full months, including a 6-week period in retrograde motion. This has major impact potential for relationships and how we approach happiness in general. Stay updated to get the upcoming forecasts for your sign on both of these major transits!
We enter the eye of the storm on the Gemini New Moon this July 4th. With Sun and Moon in Ardra nakshatra, the Dark Moon night of July 3rd offers an opportunity for cleansing and renewal. Ardra nakshatra is a stormy and transformational place in the zodiac. The new lunar cycle begins on July 4th at 4:01am PDT. Ardra (also called Arudra) is a Vedic star-sign known as “the moist one.”
Ardra is related to the deity Rudra, the fierce and destructive form of Shiva. Rudra is often depicted in a violent storm. When the clouds part, the time after intense rains is a period of renewal. The storm washes away the old and makes the ground fertile for something new to sprout.
A teardrop is another symbol related to Ardra nakshatra, signifying sorrow, but also the process of emotional purification. Tears can be very cleansing. Rudrakshas are the sacred seeds seen in malas (prayer beads) worn by Shiva. They are translated as “the tears of Rudra.” On this Dark Moon night, what calls you to shed your tears in order to clear a path and nourish the grounds for something new to grow?
Amidst the sorrow and destruction brought forth by this transformative deity, there remains a stillness at the center of the storm. Shiva is well known as the greatest of yogis, because of his ability to abide in peaceful meditation despite any chaos happening around him. He remains still in the midst of the ongoing destruction and renewal happening throughout the cosmos. By tuning into our own center, we can awaken pure consciousness, which helps us to weather any storm.
A third image relating to Ardra is the diamond, a clear and luminous gemstone formed after enduring intense heat and pressure. Like the diamond, Ardra reminds us that we are warriors who can withstand any austerity and challenge and come out clearer and more brilliant. This is definitely a warrior nakshatra. Ardra is related to Rahu, the planet who connects us to our deepest psychological shadows. By facing these, he helps us to grow and mature.
This New Moon initiates a lunar cycle abundant with Gemini energy. It begins on Monday with the Sun, Moon, Venus and Mercury all in sidereal Gemini. Gemini, ruled by Mercury, brings a playful and versatile energy to our lives. We begin this month in a collective energy of curiosity and flexibility. This is a great time to explore some new interests or skills. With Mercury in Gemini we are feeling very open-minded. We are ready to explore many different possibilities and look at life from a new angle. With Venus in Gemini, our desires are diverse as well, and we may seek satisfaction through many avenues.
One caveat to all this Gemini energy: be conscious of the elevated air element and vata dosha in the atmosphere. This can lead us to can easily feel overstimulated, in the mind, body, and nervous system. You may notice you have been hyperactive lately, which can quickly lead to exhaustion. Take time this month to connect with the earth and water elements. This will help to create balance with the prevalent air and fire elements. Six out of nine planets are in air signs at the time that this new lunar cycle begins, and Rahu and Jupiter remain in firey Leo. Also be aware that Mars turned direct on June 29th, and is now moving forward, giving us more fire-power, strength and courage.
The upcoming Full Moon of this cycle, on July 19th, is Guru Purnima. This is the traditional day for honoring our teachers, or gurus. The guru is literally the dispeller of darkness, and darkness is the cloak of ignorance. If we have been blessed to find someone who has helped to remove darkness or ignorance from our lives, today is a great day to offer our thanks to them.
Definitely take some time to sit on the ground and connect with the earth on this airy New Moon in Gemini. Find your heart center and call on the water element, letting the rains (or tears) wash over you in order to help you to purify and make fertile grounds for a new chapter of growth in your life. Gemini relates to the arms, shoulders and chest, so doing some heart- and shoulder-opening exercises or asanas will be helpful in this time. You can connect with Ardra’s deity, Rudra, and call in the consciousness and peace of Lord Shiva by chanting “Om Namah Shivaya.”
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Feeling a bit overstimulated? We now have Mercury, Sun and Venus in Gemini. This makes for an active mind and body, looking in many directions at once to satisfy curiosity and desire. This abundance of vata can lead to physical or mental fatigue. Consider connecting with the earth and water elements to create some balance, while we have 7 out of 9 planets in air & fire signs. This will feel especially soothing to the heart today as Moon transits Pisces and is aspected by Jupiter (joined Rahu in Leo).