The Sun and Moon will coincide on Tuesday morning at 0°30’ sidereal Taurus, less than an hour after the Moon leaves Aries to join the Sun here. The exact time for the New Moon is 4:48 am PDT on May 15th. This begins a lunar cycle under the energy of Taurus, in the Vedic nakshatra of Krittika, “the cutter.” Following the Aries cycle of initiation, this month will help us to bring ourselves and our goals into fuller embodiment, as the Sun traverses the Venus-ruled earth sign of the bull.
Taurus, or Vrishabha in Sanskrit (“the bull” or “mighty”), is a strong and steady sign that guides our attention towards the beauty of the natural world. Taurus, a four-footed sign, is good at moving forward with strength and fortitude, but finds it more difficult to change direction quickly. The fertility of the earth is lush during this lunar cycle, and our minds and hearts are focusing on what pleasures bring us the most happiness.
Of course, happiness is not a given, but this month is a time to seriously look at our desires, and what lights up and fulfills our hearts. The flip-side of this examination will come on the full Moon in Scorpio, when we come in touch with the fragility and impermanence of all we hold dear. The overall tone for the month, however, is to really pay attention to our surroundings, and make sure that what we keep around us, both in terms of company and possessions, are truly making us happy.
This new Moon also aligns with the Vedic nakshatra Krittika, located by the seven stars known as the Pleiades in the west. This nakshatra bridges the 30° portions of the sky attributed to Aries and Taurus. Though mostly within the Venusian sign of Taurus, Krittika begins in Mars-ruled Aries and is itself under the influence of the Sun.
It is ruled by the Vedic deity Agni, the lord of fire personified. Represented by an axe, flame, or razor, Krittika brings forth sharp and purifying qualities, which can be used to help us to cut or burn away what is not needed. There is also a motherly and nurturing quality to this star, from the association with Venus, as well as with Kartikeya, the warrior son of divine Mother Parvati. The satguru Amma (Amritanandamayi Devi) was born under a Moon in Krittika, and emits this sharp and penetrating yet loving light of purification.
Ketu and Mars in Capricorn
This purifying potential may be especially useful this month, as there is some challenging energy emanating from sidereal Capricorn, as both Ketu (the south node) and exalted Mars are now aligning there. Ketu’s presence can lead to misdirection of energy, accidents, confusion, or unexpected loss. Mars, the warrior, brings a cutting fire-power, and when placed in earth-sign Capricorn, his sign of exaltation, helps us to turn courage into discipline and structure.
The combination of Mars and Ketu, however, could lead to some unexpected acts of violence or intensity. The Kilauea volcano’s violent eruption began on May 3rd, the first full day after this conjunction began. The higher potential of this combination is the possibility for strengthening our psychic powers and wisdom, so sadhana will be incredibly important during this time.
This Mars-Ketu conjunction is going to last for nearly six months, as Mars will transit Capricorn from now through November 5th, and Ketu is taking up residence there for the entire year. Mars’ stint here is so long because he will be in retrograde motion for part of that time, from June 26th through August 27th. During that time, you may find Mars-ruled themes in your life slowing down, and may encounter some deep insights over these. The potential for some upheaval prior to these revelations is definitely strong, especially during the eclipse window from early July through mid-August, as we pass under two partial solar and one total lunar eclipse.
The full Moon peaks on Sunday, April 29th at 5:58 pm PDT in sidereal Libra, directly opposite the Sun in Aries. This is the turning point in the Aries lunar cycle, which began two weeks ago as the Sun and Moon came together in the Mars-ruled sign of individual strength and courage. Now, with the full Moon in Venus-ruled Libra, our relationships are illuminated and we examine the compromises and reflections that help us to truly integrate our individuality into a happy existence. This full Moon is also aligned with Swati nakshatra, the Vedic star-sign related to the wind element, and also a place of great independence.
Libra Full Moon
As we began the Aries cycle our attention was on our individual strength, power, and will, as we felt the cosmic encouragement to move ahead into new endeavors. Sun in Aries gives us a great sense of our connection to source, and the courage to translate that into actions. It was an auspicious time for new beginnings, augmented by Akshaya Tritiya, just after the new Moon of April 15th.
As the Moon now becomes fully illuminated directly opposite from the Sun in Aries, our emotional body resonates strongly with the Libran concepts of beauty and harmony. Relationships come to the forefront, and we become aware of the need to incorporate those we care for into our new ventures, and to compromise where appropriate, realizing that our individual happiness can only be as good as the state of our closest relationships. Venus and Libra illuminate our human experience and the need we have for intimacy and closeness. Close social bonds actually support the evolutionary imperative to survive which Mars stimulates in us.
The Libra full Moon also connects our minds and hearts to Venusian concepts such as art, music, and the beauty of the natural world around us. This is a good weekend to spend time in nature, around the arts, or with those we love, recognizing that the pleasurable side of life is integral to our other endeavors.
Within Libra, this full Moon falls at around 15°, aligning with the Vedic constellation known as Swati, “the independent one.” As a Rahuvian nakshatra, this part of the sky does elicit a degree of independence, and we strive to balance that with our relational nature. This nakshatra is ruled by Vayu, the lord of wind, and as the Moon transits here we must watch that our mind does not become too scattered, flitting quickly from one idea to the next. Connecting with earth and water elements would be helpful this weekend to ground these energies.
Jupiter is joining this full Moon in Libra, adding a helpful optimism and an expansive feeling to the heart. Jupiter is also directly opposite the Sun right now, and in retrograde motion, so we will see an incredibly bright “full” Jupiter very close to the Moon tonight, and incredibly close to the Moon on Monday night. Jupiter is generally a benefic planet, who adds grace, inspiration, and good luck, but can also bring forth some difficulty if he is a more difficult influence in your natal chart.
Mars & Saturn
Mars is moving into sidereal Capricorn on May 2nd, ending his conjunction with Saturn but beginning one with Ketu. Mars will transit Capricorn for 6 months, moving in retrograde motion for part of that time. Being in his sign of exaltation, Mars in Capricorn can bring great strength and discipline, and more courage and conviction for us, especially in those areas of life he rules in your natal chart. His conjunction with Ketu during this time, however, will also bring up shadows in those areas of life, and possibly force us to undergo some major changes and processes of detachment with those things. You can receive a deeper examination of this transit as part of a personal natal chart reading.
Mercury remains in Pisces, his sign of debilitation, until May 9th. Continue to watch for emotion overwhelming your sense of practicality. Our emotions are also highlighted and heightened by the Moon’s conjunction with Jupiter this weekend, and by Rahu’s continuing transit of Cancer throughout this year.
The planetary energy is all focused around Aquarius right now, as Sun and Moon join both Venus and Mercury there on Wednesday night, a dark Moon night that will bring in a new lunar cycle as well as a partial solar eclipse. The three outer planets, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, all cast their gazes on this eclipse through their respective aspects onto Aquarius. The nodes, Rahu and Ketu, influence this New Moon via their eclipsing affect (though they are still transiting the Cancer-Capricorn axis).
The exact time of the New Moon in Aquarius will be at 1:05 pm PST, on Thursday, February 15th. The Moon and Sun will converge in Dhanishta nakshatra at this time, which is the sign of “the wealthy,” showing us our potential to thrive in life, and also associated with music and the steady beat of the cosmic drum. A partial solar eclipse occurs simultaneously, though mostly visible only from Antarctica, from 10:55 am to 2:47 pm PST (18:55 to 22:47 UT), peaking at 12:51 pm PST (20:51 UT).
With so much energy converging around Aquarius, this eclipse and the coming month will draw our focus towards something larger than ourselves—the greater good, and our potential to create thriving communities around us. Aquarius is ruled by the planet Saturn, who makes us think about the long-term, the bigger picture, and the commitments and hard work that are needed to take us to our goals. As the active, yang, or masculine expression of Saturn, Aquarius is where we are willing to move our efforts outwards, towards long-term goals that affect the world around us. Under an Aquarian mindset we become willing to work for social equality, planetary and even universal harmony. Community values become more important than the individual, and we find ourselves happy to become part of and of service to a greater cause.
Under Dhanishta nakshatra, the Vedic constellation within Aquarius where this New Moon occurs, we strive to step into beat with the cosmic rhythm. The symbol for this nakshatra, “the wealthiest,” is the drum, often associated with the damaru (hand-drum) of Nataraj, Shiva in the form of the cosmic dancer. There is a universal rhythm that plays through, behind, and around our existence, that goes beyond our individual desire to forge our own path and dance to the beat of our own drum, as they say. When we desire to come into alignment with the cosmic rhythm, and surrender to the greater divine pulse that calls from within, we may actually find ourselves happier than when we were attempting to harness power through a more narrow vision.
Five Planets Influencing
With Venus and Mercury joining in Aquarius, our desires and intellect may also more easily align with this broader vision. Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are also all casting their drishti (“glance,” or aspect) on Aquarius, and the Sun, Moon, Mercury and Venus. This is due to the special aspects that these planets cast according to Jyotish, different from those in Western astrology. Saturn aspects the third house from himself (and the tenth), Mars the fourth (and the eighth), and Jupiter the fifth (and the ninth). With their influence, our actions, principles, and committed nature are also all aimed at the Aquarian concepts of universal duty, connection, and service.
Although the nodes are aligned with Cancer and Capricorn, and this New Moon occurs in Aquarius, Ketu is close enough to the Sun and Moon now that it will cause a partial solar eclipse on Thursday. Although this eclipse may not seem as dramatic as the recent ones that were visible in their totality, it will nevertheless stir the shadow energy of the nodes, and compel us to do some work on ourselves and our lives, or else feel the disturbing effects that eclipses can bring.
With the Sun being eclipsed in Aquarius and Dhanishta, we may feel extremely cut off from our individual power, which can really highlight our human need for community support, and service. When we realize that “I” the individual is not able to solve all our problems, or that personal gain means little without friends to share it with, our place as part of a larger network begins to seem more important. You may also feel cut off from whatever in life is represented by Aquarius in your individual natal chart (or by any planets there), or may have some difficulty (urging you towards transformation) in that area of life. (Free Eclipse Forecast for those on my free mailing list).
This eclipse may show us where we have been neglecting community engagement, public service, or social networking, and if we aren’t willing to look at that, the lessons of the eclipse could be painful. Whether this is a new realization, or even if social involvement is already a large part of your life, this eclipse could be revelatory and transformational, showing you (and your friends) some innovative ways to take your community vision to the next level.
Tuesday night, the night before the Dark Moon night, is a prime time to dig deep and lay the groundwork for some deep insights and personal growth following Thursday’s eclipse. Tuesday brings Maha Shivaratri, the “great night of Lord Shiva,” in Hindu tradition. It falls on the 14th phase of the waning Moon this month (check here for your local time), and is perhaps the most auspicious night of the year for doing sadhana (spiritual practice). It is traditional on this night to stay up all night fasting, chanting, praying, and meditating.
This holiday honors Lord Shiva, the great ascetic, and particularly two stories of great sacrifices that were made protect the entire creation. One of these comes from the story of the churning of the milk ocean, which the gods and demons were doing in order to release the nectar of immortality. Before the nectar came up, however, a poison came up first. (This is similar to when we do spiritual practice and begin our path of self-inquiry, and negative tendencies often come to light first, which can be a painful experience. Similarly, during a physical fast or cleanse, toxins can be shaken loose and released first, causing a healing crisis before we continue healing into a freer, happier state of being.) When the poison came up from the milk ocean, Lord Shiva consumed it so that it would not engulf humanity, the first story of great sacrifice. His wife, Parvati, held his throat however, so that he could not ingest it, thus saving him in turn.
Maha Shivaratri also commemorates the wedding of Shiva and Parvati, which also stemmed from great sacrifice made for the benefit of all humanity. It was said that after his first wife, Sati, perished, Shiva was fully devoted only to his sadhana, meditating for aeons in isolation and renouncing the world. Then the demon Tarakasura began running amock on earth, threatening all of humanity. Brahma fortold that only Shiva’s child could defeat Tarakasura, so the gods devised a plan for Sati to reincarnate as Parvati, and win over her Lord to marriage once again. He was not easily swayed, however, and it was only after Parvati became an ascetic and underwent great penance that he agreed to marry.
Thus, this holiday is celebrated through the penance of fasting, forgoing food, water, and sleep, for one night, and simultaneously celebrating the union of Lord Shiva and Parvati, or the masculine and feminine energies of creation, that allows this dance of life to continue. It is an apt time to feel the forces of Aquarius upon us, which compel us to consider our role in society, and in the universe, and what personal sacrifices we can make for the greater good. Even if you’re not able to stay up the whole night, any amount of devotional practice, serviceful sacrifice, or chanting of Om Namah Shivaya on this night can have beneficial affects that are magnified greater than on any other night.
Personal readings and Eclipse readings available here.
Has anyone else been feeling the tension mounting for the last week or two? My life generally feels pretty smooth, and thanks to my practice I am able to cope with the little waves and bumps that add more stress to life. But for some reason, when the eclipse seasons come around, I feel more distraught and like the challenges seem to come all at once and pile up. This is when daily meditation becomes extra important, and if I miss it I feel even more out of whack.
We’re in an eclipse window now, approaching a Total Lunar Eclipse on January 31st. The maximum eclipse is at 5:29 am PST (13:29 UT), with the full eclipse from 4:51 to 6:07 am. Check out time-and-date.com for a full visual of the eclipse path, and enter your local city to see what time it is happening there. This eclipse will be at least partially visible from all of North America, Australia, Asia, and the middle East, and parts of South America, Africa and Europe.
This eclipse is bringing added intensity due to the weighted alignment of planets in a kala saarpa yoga, with four planets joining the nodes, and the three others to one side of the nodal axis (see chart below). When the planets are aligned like this, more shadow work arises due to a prominence of the nodes. Eclipses have a similar affect, so right now we are having a double-dose of heavy nodal energy affecting the atmosphere.
This full Moon and nodal alignment is happening along the Capricorn-Cancer axis, with the full Moon peaking at 17 degrees sidereal Cancer, at 5:27 am PST, just before the maximum point of the eclipse. A full Moon in Cancer normally illuminates our emotional side, bringing our attention to the heart, and its open, compassionate potential. This is in contrast to the practical approach to life brought on by the Sun-in-Capricorn cycle, which began on January 16th.
During an lunar eclipse, however, the Earth passes directly in between the Sun and the Moon, and the Sun’s light is blocked from illuminating the Moon as it normally does at this phase of the lunar cycle. The Moon doesn’t go totally black, because some of the Sun’s rays bounce around the earth through the atmosphere, so the Moon instead takes on a greyish-to-reddish hue. Energetically, the Moon relates to our heart, emotions, and peace of mind. There can be an eerie feeling of disconnection to these around a lunar eclipse and during the time leading up to it.
This month, the intensified awareness of our emotional body may take on a slightly darker tone. The nodes are the shadow planets, the subconscious parts of ourselves that our usually invisible, but during an eclipse these shadows rise to the surface and show themselves. So with the full Moon in Cancer eclipsed, it’s likely that we will see the ways in which our emotional nature can lead us astray, where we open our boundaries too wide, or may simply experience emotions that we normally avoid facing. For those who have a strong connection to their Cancerian nature already, this could be a difficult time, where the floodgates are opened and feel overwhelming, yet a lot of confusion is present until the eclipse passes.
To cope with whatever challenges are arising, it’s best to lay low during the eclipse. It’s a great time for sadhana, calling forth your higher power, and being introspective and reflective. Whatever is coming up for you during (and before) this eclipse is like an Easter egg to point you towards something deeper in your being that requires your attention and work.
Within Cancer, this total lunar eclipse will occur in the Vedic nakshatra called Ashlesha, “the entwiner.” This nakshatra can be located in a ring of stars within the western constellation Hydra, the water-serpent. Ashlesha is represented by a coiled snake, and is ruled by the Nagas, the serpent deities of wisdom. This nakshatra has a lot to do with discovering what is coiled deep within, so an eclipse here has the potential to churn up some deep-seated emotions that have not been felt for a while. It also has the ability to stir kundalini, so if you are doing spiritual practices, be prepared for some possible strong waves of energy.
At the same time, the snake also contains a poisonous venom. Because of the intensity of this eclipse and the surrounding alignment, it is quite possible for some of what gets stirred up to have a toxic quality. Like other detoxification processes, however, it is sometimes necessary for the toxins to filter through the body after they are dislodged, before being released back to the earth. Drink lots of water following this eclipse, but Indian tradition says that it is best not to eat, drink, or be outside during the eclipse, lest we absorb more of its negative affects. With any difficulties that arise, offer them back to the divine Mother, and call upon the cleansing power of water to help you through.
The effects of the eclipse may continue through mid-February, when we have the second eclipse of this cycle, a partial solar eclipse, happening on February 15th. These eclipses will bring up challenges specifically in the areas of life indicated by Cancer and Capricorn in your Vedic natal chart. There is a Free Forecast for your Rising Sign available here. (If you are new to the mailing list, you will be directed to the link. If you are already on the mailing list, please check your inbox as you would have received this forecast a while ago.)
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The new lunar cycle begins with a new Moon in Capricorn on the dark night of January 16th. The Sun and Moon join at 6:17 pm PT, at 2° sidereal Capricorn, closely joining Venus at 4°, and in the same sign as Ketu, the south node, signaling the approach of an oncoming eclipse. This is yet another cycle beginning under an inauspicious kala sarpa alignment, though thankfully the last for a while (until August of this year).
Saturn continues to be a powerful force throughout the beginning of this new year. The previous lunar cycle began with Sun and Moon joining Saturn, and the full Moon on January 1st was opposite the austere planet, pressuring us to be aware of the consequences of our actions. This cycle begins in a Saturn-ruled sign, Capricorn, as will the next, which will start with an eclipse in Aquarius.
Capricorn is perhaps the most practical and responsible sign. With the combination of earth sign-energy, Saturn’s long-term gaze, and a tamasic (heavy) quality, Capricorn’s energy compels us to create stable structures and routines that support our long-term goals and responsibilities. This month we may take inventory of how we are doing along these lines, and implement some practical and physical routines that take effort and perseverance, and help us to align with our broader vision. A new diet or exercise regime and a re-examination of financial planning are well-supported by Saturn’s influence right now.
Ketu & Upcoming Eclipses
The close conjunction with Ketu, however, can cast a shadow of confusion over these plans, as we approach a total lunar eclipse on January 31st. The eclipse (at 13:31 UT) will occur on the full Moon, and will be visible from Asia, Australia, India, the Pacific, and western North America. Deep introspection and self-observation is necessary to see through the muck that arises with the conjunction of the nodes on the lunar cycle.
This is the first of 3 major eclipse cycles to occur with the nodes transiting the Cancer-Capricorn axis. With Rahu’s eager, obsessive, and childish head running amok in Cancer, and Ketu’s resistant, critical pall obscuring Capricorn, these eclipses may cause us to allow overwhelming emotions to get the best of us, while disregarding the practical voice of reason. The nodal transit reveals our personal shadows, the inner struggles we face in creating an equilibrium between emotional, heart-centered living and the meeting of life’s goals on the earth-plane. This transit, and these eclipses, also bring up specific shadow work for each individual depending on the natal chart (download the free 2018-2019 Rahu-Ketu Forecast for your Sign here.)
The Sun and Moon, along with Venus, are joined in the Vedic nakshatra called Uttara Ashada, “the latter invincible one,” as we begin this lunar cycle. This star is ruled by the Vishvadevas, the lords of dharma, which will compel us towards doing our duty as we get our ducks in a row this month. The closeness of Ketu and the eclipse cycle, however, could bring up some confusion as to what this duty is. As always, the new Moon in particular is an optimal time for meditation and introspection, especially important for the next month as we forge through the eclipse energy.
With Venus combust at the beginning of this cycle (within 2° of the Sun), we might struggle within relationships. Under this placement, it is more difficult to feel that our desires are being met, and that we are feeling appreciated and valued by our loved ones. Venus’ proximity to Ketu may also bring up a lot of criticism around partnerships, and can challenge happiness in general.
Mars in Scorpio
With Mars moving into his own sign of Scorpio on the 16th, look for Mars’ influence to be stronger in your life this month. If he is a helpful planet in your chart, then your energy, courage, and discipline may grow more acute. If he is a challenging influence for you personally, however, be wary of getting into arguments and losing your cool.
Though we begin this lunar cycle under a kala sarpa yoga, with all planets on one side of the nodal axis (or joining it), we are nearing the end of these difficult alignments for a while. The Moon’s movement will break the cycle on January 18th, until January 30th, when we enter one last kala sarpa cycle through February 5th. At that time, Venus will leave Capricorn and enter Aquarius, making these cycles impossible until August. From February through August, there will be slightly more balance in the planetary energies. The kala sarpa cycle is a type of imbalance, wherein the clustering of the planets on one side of the sky tends to bring heavier and more turbulent experiences in general.
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