Full Moon in Leo, Holi & Retrograde Venus
Sunday’s full Moon in sidereal Leo illuminates a more independent part of the sky, contrasting to the Aquarian New Moon and solar eclipse we experienced two weeks ago. The full Moon peaks at 7:53 a.m. PST on Sunday, so the brightest waxing Moon night is Saturday, the 11th. Sunday also brings the Hindu holiday Holi, the “festival of colors.”
The energy of Aquarius that began this lunar cycle compels us to think about the bigger picture, the greater good, and how we may offer our service into society at large. Through the healing nakshatra of Shatabisha, the solar eclipse energy of February 26th helped us to realize the potential of our personal healing journey contributing to our offering of service. The full Moon in Leo this weekend reminds us of our individual strength and power. Before we are able to serve others well, we need to feel strong in our own light.
Leo is the sign that reminds us of our own strength in a sattvic way, as he is ruled by the Sun, the sattvic planet of purity and illumination. Our highest potential through Leo is to connect with our own divine strength and use it for good and generous ends (rather than selfish). Benevolent leadership is a positive manifestation of this potential. Leo gets a bad rap sometimes as being bossy and overbearing, but this happens when we try to possess the divine strength of the Sun rather than let it shine forth. When we allow the source light to pass through us, purify us, and illuminate outwardly, we find a peaceful sense of self-establishment by which we can support others into their power as well, rather than feel threatened by it.
The nakshatra of this full Moon is Uttara Phalguni, a radiant constellation that bridges Leo and Virgo. The energy of this star-sign signifies the relaxation and rejuvenation (found once we establish our own power in Leo), but reminds us of returning to work and the details of life, as it crosses into Virgo. The deity who rules here is Aryaman, an emblem of friendship, nobility, and generosity. The austere mood of the Shivaratri and the previous new Moon is contrasted by this full Moon of rejuvenation.
Venus is holding a strong influence in the sky right now, as he continues his journey of exaltation through the sign of Pisces. He entered Pisces at the end of January, and is receiving a powerful aspect from his ruler, Jupiter, who is directly across the sky in sidereal Virgo. This relationships gives us the opportunity to bring our desires (coming from Venus) into alignment with our principles and beliefs (influenced by Jupiter).
Since March 4th Venus has been retrograde, appearing to move backwards through Pisces from our perspective here on earth. Venus retrograde only occurs once every 18 months, so this is a rare opportunity to go inward and become more introspective about our desires, which usually follow an outward, seeking direction. We may be doing a lot of re-thinking of relationships at this time, or may find past acquaintances popping back up into our lives to complete some unfinished business.
Be especially careful of allowing arguments to go too far, as breaking relationships is also a potential during this Venus retrograde. Mars, the planet of war and fire, is currently in his own firey sign of Aries. This can add some extra heat to arguments, and makes us feel particularly headstrong and independent (especially in addition to the full Moon in Leo). With Venus retrograde in Pisces, there’s opportunity to surrender our desires and allow our values to take the upper hand, but there’s also the potential that we will choose to break from relationships, as Pisces carries a strong energy of releasing and letting go.
Rahu, Ketu & Saturn
Though we have passed the eclipses for this cycle, Sun and Moon are still in the same signs as Rahu and Ketu, separated by about 20 degrees, so there is still some shadow energy working through our fields. Saturn’s influence on the Sun during this time continues to pressure us into aligning ourselves with a higher purpose, however, so don’t pass up any opportunities for service. It will prove to be very purifying during this time.
This full Moon also commemorates the Hindu festival of “Holi,” as the last full Moon coming before the Spring Equinox. This is a joyful festival of renewal, best-known for its colorful celebration in which people throw bright powders at each other. The playful combat is a way to let go of any past aggression held over the past year and start anew with forgiveness and friendship.
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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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Transformation Portal: Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse Friday
The Full Moon in sidereal Cancer on Friday brings with it a penumbral lunar eclipse (February 10/11) that will be visible from most places on earth, except for Australia and the south Pacific. The Moon reaches maximum fullness at 4:33 p.m. PST, with the eclipse peaking at 4:43. This eclipse is part of a longer series of eclipses that we’ve been experiencing for the last year. Rahu and Ketu, the lunar nodes, have been transiting the Leo-Aquarius axis through this time, bringing pairs of lunar/solar eclipses last March and September, and this month. Download my Free E-Book about this eclipse series if you haven’t yet!
The nodes on the Leo-Aquarius axis raise questions about personal power versus universal service. Last year through the US election cycle we saw an intense play for personal power on the large scale, with extremist viewpoints (Rahu) rising into the place of authority (Leo). With Ketu’s shadow energy casting doubt in the sign of Aquarius, ideas of oneness and service to society at large have faced heavy criticism. On a personal level, we experience the controversy of this duality in our own lives, and question where and how we seek power and offer service.
Last year, Rahu’s lust for power in Leo was highly dogmatized due to Jupiter’s conjunction with him there (through September). This brought beliefs and values under the influence of the radical, obsessive and insecure shadow planet. In August Jupiter moved on into Virgo, however, putting our values and attention under a slightly more practical perspective. Most recently, on February 5th, Jupiter’s motion turned retrograde, which gives us the opportunity to back up and rethink some of the ways that we approach our beliefs and apply them in our lives. We may be second-guessing our relationships with our teachers at this time, or considering going back to school for some more education.
Saturn also made a major transit recently, moving into sidereal Sagittarius in the end of January. This puts the planet of commitment in the sign of inspired action, and will compel us to persevere and stand up for what we believe in. This transit will span the next three years, save for a brief period later this year when Saturn’s retrograde motion takes him back into Scorpio. The influence of Saturn in our personal lives during this time can be immense (this begins Saturn’s return and/or Sade Sati for many). He will bring pressure as he helps us figure out how to really stand behind and take action for our beliefs, particularly in the area indicated by Sagittarius in your chart.
This Full Moon falls in the end of the water sign of Cancer, adding a heavy emotional component to our experience this month. The eclipse energy here can help us to see some of our deepest shadows, particularly in how we handle ourselves emotionally. Cancer is the Moon’s own sign, and the capacity for receptivity here is great. We may feel our hearts wide open during this Full Moon, but with this also comes a sensitivity and vulnerability that can throw us off balance under the shadow influence of the eclipse.
In particular, the Moon will be in the Vedic constellation (nakshatra) of Ashlesha, the sign of the water serpent. This nakshatra has to do with deeply coiled energies and hidden potential (kundalini specifically). It is ruled by the Nagas, the serpents of wisdom. There is a potential for great awakening as the Moon is eclipsed in this sign. We momentarily feel cut off from the light of emotional intelligence during a lunar eclipse, and are forced to become aware of the dark shadows that obscure peace in our hearts. Bringing awareness to these can help us to break free from them, uncoiling our own inner mess and helping us blossom into wisdom.
Connecting with the heart and the water element is important during this Full Moon. What’s more, Venus is currently exalted, having moved into Pisces at the end of January. He will transit here for the next four months, giving us the potential to elevate our relationships and the ways we pursue our desires. In Pisces, Venus is under Jupiter’s rule, which can inspire the planet of pleasure to get in line with our values. It’s also another water sign, the last of the 12 major signs, and a place that compels us to surrender to the divine flow. With Saturn pushing our commitment onto our principles, from Sagittarius, and Jupiter helping us with the earthly details, from Virgo, this all adds up to a huge growth opportunity around this eclipse.
The solar eclipse of this eclipse-pair will come on February 26th. Eclipses come in pairs, and we feel the intense energy of the cycle from a few weeks before the first until soon after the second. This is the third pair of eclipses in the larger cycle, since last January when Rahu and Ketu moved into Leo and Aquarius. During the next pair of eclipses, in August, they will be right on the cusp of Cancer and Capricorn. Between now and then we will really finalize implementing the lessons and changes brought up throughout their Leo-Aquarius transit, and we will begin exploring our shadows along the Cancer-Capricorn axis.
To help you make sense of these major astrological events, I am offering individual readings to look at Saturn, Venus, and the Eclipses, or you can request a 2017 Reading to talk about the effects of all three.
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It feels like just yesterday that I was writing last year’s article on the Harvest Moon, reflecting on the contracting sensation beginning to feel tangible in nature, as we slowly move from summer into fall and towards winter. For the last week or so, I’ve been pleasantly aware of the slight briskness in the air and the energetic shifts taking place as we move from the multi-directional activity of summer to the more focused and quiet happenings of autumn and winter. (As a natural introvert, I am actually loving the change and excited to feel the atmosphere settling down around me!) I’m definitely feeling ready for the Harvest Moon and lunar eclipse of September 16th.
The Harvest Moon is the Full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox (September 22nd), and brings with it a few nights of very bright moonlight under which farmers are able to harvest their crops. (The Moon normally rises about one hour later each night, but for this week he will rise only half-an-hour later per day, giving much brighter evenings.) This is also a time where we energetically begin to harvest that which has come from our efforts put forth throughout the year, as we move into a more inward period for the darker months (in the northern hemisphere). It is also a potent moment to offer our prayers and to harvest the bounty of growth that comes with our own self-effort in shadow work.
What is particularly unique is that this Harvest Moon, like last year’s, is also accompanied by a lunar eclipse. The Moon reaches its peak fullness at 12:05pm PDT on Friday, September 16th, and the penumbral lunar eclipse will also occur around this time (at 18:54 UT), but will only be visible from the other side of the world. This eclipse won’t be as spectacular as last year’s Blood Moon, but folks in that area of the world will get to see a slight shadow as the Moon passes through the outer edge of the earth’s shadow.
Lunar Eclipse in Pisces in Purva Bhadrapada
The Sun and the Moon will be at just 0°14′ of Virgo and Pisces, respectively. With the nodes still in Leo and Aquarius, and the Moon not fully established in either Aquarius or Pisces, this is a great time to examine the energy of the Full Moon’s nakshatra, Purva Bhadrapada, as an indicator of this eclipse’s energy. Purva Bhadrapada is a nakshatra (star-group) that bridges the two major constellations, from 20°00′ of Aquarius to 3°20′ of Pisces. This star-sign brings a strong energy of purification, which will help us to harness the already transformative power of the eclipse.
As we move with the Moon from the end of Aquarius to the beginning of Pisces in Purva Bhadrapada, we are in the place where we must let go of worldly activity, service, and socializing and into a place of solitude (meditation, sleep, and, ultimately, death and liberation). Pisces is the last stop on the train of this life, and this nakshatra represents the point in time where we must begin to face the fact that there is a last stop. It is a place where we can begin to embrace detachment, from all our worldly gains, relations, and activities, and connect with the subtler realms of being and spirit.
Accompanied by the energy of Ketu, this Full Moon Lunar Eclipse offers us a powerful chance to cut cords and free ourselves from unnecessary attachments… especially attachments to our own desires and illusions of control. This lunar cycle began with a Solar Eclipse in Leo. With the lustful Rahu in Leo since January, we have been ravenously driven to find and harness a sense of power and control in this uncontrollable world (especially in the area of life shown by Leo in your chart). The Solar Eclipse on September 1st revealed our shadows around this effort, and the illusory nature of power and control. This Full Moon helps us to reflect on and balance that energy, and offers the capacities for transformation and purification towards this process.
Since the Moon is technically just over the boundary into Pisces, this is an 8th-house Full Moon (8th house from where the New Moon occurred), which always adds a reshaping and mystical quality to the energy at hand. Purva Bhadrapada itself brings on energies for purification and transformation, as it leads us from the material world into the ethereal. Furthermore, the deity for this nakshatra is Aja Ekapada, “the one-footed goat,” who is related to Rudra, a destructive form of Shiva. The destructive nature of Shiva is that which allows us to destroy one thing in order for that energy to transform, rise again, and grow into its new phase of evolution. He also offers us the power to destroy illusion and attachment, which is a good tool to have at hand at the time of an eclipse.
We have been doing a lot of inner work this year around the themes of Leo and Aquarius, finding and embracing personal power and self-love, and balancing that with universal service and love for all beings. This eclipse gives us a chance to step back and feel a little more detachment on both sides of that axis, diving back into the deep well of Pisces where all energy flows together back into source. This may be a much-needed perspective given the zealous fervor brought on by the Jupiter-Rahu conjunction this year (January through August), and the heated pressure brought on by the Saturn-Mars conjunction (March through next week).
If you need a break from all of the astrological intensity being handed out this year, I think this is your chance. Shadows do arise during the eclipses, but the more dedicated we are to looking at them and being willing to make and allow change in ourselves, the better off we are after they pass. As the the Full Moon heads into Pisces on this lunar eclipse, allow yourself to surrender to the flow and trust in source. This is the lesson being offered that will help free you from any feelings of chaos or confusion. Your higher power and meditation are of great support now (as always!). You can also connect with the water, study your dreams, and offer your power to your perceived divinity.
More to Come this Month
Venus moves out of debilitation (in Virgo) and into Libra on September 18th, bringing more energy for compromise rather than nit-picking in the realm of relationships. Mars parts ways with Saturn a few days later, as he moves into Sagittarius on the 21st. This should take some of the heat out of the pressure-cooker we’ve been feeling in Scorpio, as we reconsider our long-term goals in that area of our life. On the 22nd Mercury goes direct, but will still be joined with Rahu for two more weeks, so remain mindful of potential stress or confusion in communication lines.
The next New Moon on September 30th will lead us into the Navaratri Festival, a ten-day period for celebrating the Goddess and all her Shakti. Also coming in with the New Moon is a Kala Sarpa yoga (alignment), as all planets cross to one side of the Rahu-Ketu axis. This will affect us for two weeks of each month until January (for the other two weeks, Moon will be on the other side of the axis). This can add a level of heaviness to our general experience, but also ability to see into the psychic depths, as we continue our inner exploration around the Leo-Aquarius nodal axis until the final eclipses of this transit in February.
If you’re still not sure how this Rahu-Ketu transit is affecting you, be sure to get your free gift, the Free e-Book on Rahu, Ketu, and the Eclipses, which includes a forecast for your personal sign. There are also still a few spots available for eclipse readings prior to this eclipse, and in the weeks after, in order to help you integrate the lessons of this period.
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On September 1st at 2:03 am (P.D.T.) we will have a New Moon and Solar Eclipse in Leo. The Sun and the Moon converge in the middle of sidereal Leo, in close conjunction with the shadow planet Rahu. This will cause a solar eclipse, visible from most of Africa, Madagascar, and the southern Indian Ocean (maximum eclipse at 9:06 U.T.).
Rahu is known as the “north node” of the Moon in western astrology (and the ascending node in astronomical terms). There is no actual planetary body here. Rather, Rahu is located at the point where the path of the Sun and the path of the Moon (as viewed from earth) intersect. He is not a visible planet, but when the Sun and the Moon align with one of the nodes, we do see a shadow that becomes visible for a short period of time. The lunar nodes are therefore known as shadow planets.
They are designated grahas (“grabbers”) in Vedic Astrology, just like the other planets, because their energy grabs us and drives our karma in a similar way (or even more strongly). Rahu and Ketu indicate where we have some of our most deep-seated psychological karma, where we are least mature and where we have done a lot of work already. Because of their shadowy nature, we are often confused about the areas of life that they affect, but it is here that we can do a lot of inner work. Rahu is dark, meddling, and childish, but also deeply psychic, radically original, and hungry for spiritual growth.
Wherever Rahu and Ketu are when we have eclipses (e.g. sidereal Leo and Aquarius at the moment), these areas of your life will be particularly affected. Since their transit into these signs at the beginning of this year, we have been working on examining our shadows around how we relate to personal power and service to others. If we tend to go to extremes in either of these areas, or have any hang-ups that need work, the eclipses of this year are giving us a great opportunity to view these subconscious patterns, when the shadows literally become visible. Download the Free 2016 Rahu-Ketu Forecast for Your Sign To See How you Are Affected
Whichever area of your life is indicated by Leo in your Vedic birth-chart, this is where you will be feeling the most profound influence of the eclipse this week. It will be an interesting contrast to the general mood of this year, wherein we felt more power and drive than usual in this area of life. Rahu’s presence in Leo (who also joined with Jupiter there all year, until recently) exaggerated our quest for personal empowerment, especially around the karma indicated by Leo in your chart (e.g. relationships for Aquarius rising, home-life for Taurus rising, career for Scorpio rising). You may have come up against some confusing bumps in the road here this year.
At the time of the eclipse, however, as the shadow obscures the Sun, we may feel cut off from our power momentarily. The Sun is the graha that helps us to feel our power most fully. As the source of all life, he illuminates things so that we can feel our own inherent divinity and our connection to source. He is the ruler of Leo, and the planet that gives us the confidence to take charge in our lives, follow our dharma, and take responsibility.
With Rahu in Leo, this drive to purify and be responsible may have become somewhat distorted this year. Maybe our quest for power became aimed at selfish motives, whereas the Sun’s power is truly best used selflessly. Maybe we faced perplexing challenges that appeared to come out of nowhere, as the shadow energy hindered our path towards purification and illumination. Rahu’s presence here may have darkened our feeling of inherent potency and our ability to feel self-love.
This week, don’t be discouraged if you suddenly feel your inner fire diminish. It is possible to feel a bit fatigued around a solar eclipse. It is likely that this eclipse will give you the opportunity to see how you can better support your internal strength and your connection to source. Health and vitality are indicated by the Sun, so this is a good opportunity to see where you can improve on self-care and self-love. It is also a good time to examine how you are using your power–whether you are being responsible and selfless, and doing the work to purify your own being, or just acting like a little bossy-pants.
Meditation, introspection, and journal-writing are some of the best ways to help you truly explore the shadows that are arising for you. In thinking about these themes, write about whatever comes up for you. Then examine it to see if it is true, and something that needs work, or a limiting belief that you are ready to discard. The lunar eclipse in a few weeks is a great time to cut cords with what is no longer needed.
To assist in reconnecting with the dharmic and illuminating power of the Sun (Surya), make an effort to practice some Sun salutations at the beginning of each day. You can augment this practice by reciting mantras for the Sun, either silently along with your breath throughout your practice, or in a sitting posture. You can even make an altar to the Sun, or make some sun tea with rejuvenative herbs. We can directly invoke the Sun through repeating the mantra “Om Suryaya Namaha,” or through the powerful Gayatri Mantra, “Om bhur, bhuvah, svaha, tat savitur varenyam, bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.”
Like all New Moon times, September 1st also commences a new month-long lunar cycle, where we will be really exploring the energy of Leo. This is a time to examine what inner power means, and how we express it in our lives. This Leo cycle will be especially potent and transformative because of the added effects of the eclipses. At the time of the full Moon and lunar eclipse on the 16th, we will deeply explore the apparent contrast between personal power (Leo) and universal service (Aquarius). Seeing our shadows here and cutting off any negative attachments, we will work on harmonizing these two aspects of our lives.
The Sun and Moon are also receiving added pressure at the time of this eclipse, as Saturn casts his glance (aspect) at them from Scorpio, still joined with Mars there. With three planets in Virgo (Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus), we will be feeling a strong drive to become more practical and organized this month. Watch out for retrograde Mercury, however, and debilitated Venus this month. Be sure to follow my page to get more updates on how this will affect you!
*You will feel this eclipse very deeply if you are Leo or Aquarius rising, or have any planets in Leo in your Vedic Astrology chart. For each planet that you have in Leo, this eclipse will affect up to three major areas of your life. *Book a personal eclipse reading here to find out how.*
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