New Years Full Moon
Many blessings for the new year, astrology lovers! This lunar cycle will peak with a full Moon at 17° sidereal Gemini, on January 1st at 6:24 pm PST. On both December 31st and January 1st the Moon will wax into fullness, fully reflecting the light of the Sagittarian Sun onto Earth, as we step into 2018.
New Years Challenge: Look at the Sky!
Now I know that some of you are already very familiar with Vedic astrology (jyotish, the science of light) and the sidereal zodiac, but each month I get at least one person commenting or questioning why I would say the full Moon is in Gemini (for example, now), when they’ve heard it is in Cancer.
Well, one can begin to understand this by engaging in the first limb of jyotish, referred to as gola (observational astronomy). The study of astrology began as a love of astronomy, when people would actually go out and look at the sky, watching the way that light bounced off of and around the stars and planets. It wasn’t just about looking at a calendar or computer program to know where the planets are.
We can still engage in this practice when using the sidereal zodiac with Vedic astrology, because this “star-based” zodiac correlates with what we see in the sky.* Here are some screenshots for January 1st from the astronomy app called SkyView Lite, showing the Moon in sidereal Gemini, and Mars and Jupiter in sidereal Libra, Mercury in sidereal Scorpio, and Saturn, Venus, and the Sun closely joined in sidereal Sagittarius. Gemini is where you will be able to locate the full Moon on January 1st, and these photos show where one would see the other planets if not for the fact that they are currently “up” during the day (early birds might catch Jupiter and Mars).
Western astrology, following the tropical zodiac (which says this full Moon is in Cancer, and that Saturn is in Capricorn), is a system that is based more on the seasons, than how we see the stars and planets. It has its own applications and relevance, but my articles are written from the Vedic perspective, using the sidereal zodiac, hence… Full Moon in Gemini! Read the full article on the two zodiacs HERE.
Full Moon in Gemini
So then! What does the full Moon in Gemini mean, as we hurtle through space and into the next calendar year? We began this lunar cycle with the Sun, and Saturn, in Sagittarius. That type of energy compells us to be vigilant with our beliefs and opinions, and to make sure that all of our actions are in close alignment with them. It’s a very passionate and opinionated time of year, as the Sun crosses the Jupiter-ruled sign of righteous action, with stern and serious Saturn casting a strong influence. Saturn’s presence here forces us to look hard at our beliefs, and sort through the dogma to get to the most authentic core.
The full Moon in Gemini, on the other hand, offers a reflection point to all this serious philosophical digging. Gemini is a sign that is much more flexible, impartial, and willing to see both sides of the situation. This doesn’t mean that we cast our guiding principles aside, but it means that we take a moment to stand in the other person’s shoes, play the devil’s advocate, and imagine a world where there’s a synthesis between what we believe is right and the opposite of that, and are willing to engage in conversation around it.
Within Gemini, this full Moon falls in the Vedic nakshatra known as Ardra, “the moist one.” This constellation is one of the most violent and stormy places in the zodiac. Its ruled by the deity Rudra, a fierce form of Lord Shiva, and has to do with the destruction and dissolution brought on by storms. After the deluge, however, the earth is moist and fresh and ready for new life to begin. As we reflect on the practicality of our beliefs and the ways we might engage our intellect to relate with and understand our opposites, we can look for ways to break down parts of our rigidity that don’t serve the situation, and let dogma dissolve so that truer sensation may arise.
On the external level, we often see major upheaval or violent events occur in society when Ardra energy is strong. All the more reason to use this New Year celebration to pray, meditate, and envision more light, peace, and positivity spreading across the globe.
In addition to the full Moon in Ardra, we’re about to enter the last major Kala Sarpa (“black snake”) period for a while, as all the planets traverse one side of the Rahu-Ketu nodal axis (from January 2nd – 19th). There will be one more partial cycle after that, from January 31st through February 5th, when Venus finally passes out of Capricorn (where Ketu lies), breaking the potential for any more Kala Sarpa cycles til August. During these periods, life can feel extra intense, and whatever karma is already stimulated in your life by the transits (in relation to your natal chart), will be magnified.
On top of that, we’re entering another eclipse cycle, as we approach two eclipses to occur on January 31st and February 15th. The total lunar eclipse on the 31st will be visible from Asia, Australia, India, the Pacific, and western North America. The partial solar eclipse on the 15th will only be visible from Antarctica and southern South America. Though there may be slightly less intensity in places where the eclipses aren’t visible, they nevertheless tend to stir up shadow work we are doing in a particular area of life (read your forecast in the free e-book available here).
Finally, we’ll be underneath a planetary war between Jupiter and Mars from the 4th through the 8th, so be aware of your animal instinct fighting with your higher beliefs. There may also be conflict between some specific areas of life, relative to your natal chart.
May you start the new year full of planetary inspiration, gazing upon the full Moon in Gemini!
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*Save for a few cases when the observable constellation spans more or less than its 30° attributed “portion” of the ecliptic.
In this Kali Yuga, it almost always feels like we could use a little more light in the world, but especially around this time of year when the days are getting shorter and darker (northern hemisphere bias). The last few months seem to have piled on more natural disasters than usual, although sometimes it feels like this may be becoming the norm. This New Moon brings the Hindu festival of Diwali, which is a celebratory time to invite more light into our lives and into the world.
The darkest Moon time, which begins our next lunar cycle, occurs at 12:12 pm PDT this Thursday, October 19th. The new cycle begins with Sun and Moon joined in sidereal Libra, with Mercury and Jupiter there as well. Libra is a sign about creating more balance (which presents a bit of a challenge with the imbalanced appearance of the chart for this New Moon). It falls in the Vedic nakshatra of Chitra, a star-sign that enhances our opportunity to bring beauty and harmony in the world.
Libra is an air sign where we bring the principles of Venus into active expression. Venus is the planet of beauty, desire, nature, and human love, so the Libra cycle will encourage us to be more creative, connect with nature, and nurture our relationships. As an air sign (a bit intellectual, and inspiring movement), we will seek ways to balance or re-balance relationships throughout this cycle. Both Jupiter and Mercury are also positioned in Libra, close to the Sun and Moon at this time, which adds the influences of our higher beliefs as well as our analytical minds to our creative endeavors this month.
Venus itself, the ruler of Libra, is currently transiting Virgo, his sign of debilitation. Debilitated Venus doesn’t necessarily translate as “relationships will be bad,” but it adds a highly intellectual, analytical, and practical motivation to the planet of pleasure and beauty. This is the opposite position to exalted Venus in Pisces, which we experienced for four months earlier this year (February through May), when we felt inspired to align our desires and relationships with our highest beliefs, principles, and purpose. Now, with Venus in Virgo, we are prompted to scrutinize all the little details of our relationships and pleasurable pursuits, and make sure that they are serving some practical need for us on the earth plane. We may also be scrutinizing our partners, or others around us, and getting caught up around the nuances of language or ideas. With Venus ruling this upcoming lunar cycle, and Mercury joining closely to the Sun and Moon at its start, desire for practicality will be strong this month.
The Vedic nakshatra where this lunar cycle begins is Chitra, “the brilliant.” This bright star in Virgo (Chitra bridges Virgo and Libra) is ruled by Vishvakarma, the deity known as the celestial architect. Imagine that energy of one who has the ability to place all the stars in the sky and set them in perfect motion … that type of both precise and artistic energy is what we are able to call in this month. There is a powerful creative potency here, and a great potential for improving relationships. It is also an supportive energy for organizing, repairing, or redesigning your home space.
On the new Moon of the Hindu month of Ashwin (this month), we celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. The festival actually began on Monday, the 16th (North America), the 13th waning Moon phase of the previous cycle. This day is known as Dhanteras, or Dhanvantari Tryodashi. Buying gold or silver (or any metals) on Dhanteras is widely practiced in Hindu culture. It is also the celebration of the appearance of Lord Dhanvantari, the father of Ayurvedic medicine. This day, and Diwali in general, is an excellent time for nurturing and calling in blessings for any type of healing or healing practice.
Diwali is a time to invite more light into our lives, our hearts, and our world. This festival celebrates the victory of light over darkness, which is something to rejoice in and have faith in, even if we can’t outwardly observe it sometimes. The positive vibrations we create internally are the only place to start for growing and spreading them externally. It is a powerful time to connect to the Goddess Lakshmi, calling in her blessings for both material and spiritual prosperity.
This holiday also commemorates Lord Ram’s and Sita’s return from exile after fourteen years (story from the Ramayana). Lord Ram embodies the highest qualities of dharma, devotion, compassion, courage, and leadership. Diwali is also the start of a new lunar cycle, so it’s a great time to go within and summon these qualities to awaken and live through you.
Diwali (also seen as Divali, Deepawali or Deepavali) comes from the sanskrit words deepa (light) and avali (row). It is traditional to light candles throughout Diwali, inviting the highest light into our homes and hearts … but in consideration of the destructive wildfires raging in California right now, I’m using electronic tea lights this year.
The candles are lit to remind us of the inner divine light in us all. Though one flame can be used to light many others, it is not diminished by sharing its power of illumination. We can pray for the peace and happiness of all beings, and each one’s awareness of their inner light.
Sun in Libra
It is pertinent to remember and to celebrate and call forth our inner light during this particular Dark Moon time, because the Sun, the planet of our inner power, strength, and divine light, is also in his sign of “debilitation,” in Libra.
Since Libra is the sign of balance and relationships, we often give a lot of our personal power to our relationships with others when Sun is in Libra. We may try too hard to care for others, forgetting to nourish the divine spark in ourselves, or we may simply feel depleted by trying to balance too much in life, losing touch with our personal strength and vitality.
At the beginning of this cycle, set an intention for a mindful self-care routine this month. Light some candles (or turn them on) for Diwali on the Dark Moon night, and if possible, take some time each day to offer yourself some time to nourish and honor your personal light. Self-care practices can include yoga, meditation, chanting, art, or self-abhyangha (oil massage). You can also make some herbal tea to nourish yourself during this vata (cold and dry) season.
The imbalance of the chart that I was talking about is referring to the ongoing Kala Saarpa yoga we see, wherein all seven physical planets are on one side of the nodal Rahu-Ketu axis. With these planets to one side of the nodes, the subconscious shadow energy (similar to eclipse energy) becomes more present, and a lot of unresolved business may arise. There is more agitation of the environment in general. This chart is particularly imbalanced, with the Sun, Moon, Jupiter and Mercury halfway between the nodes, and the other planets joining them on either side. As we enter this darker time of year, it is especially important to keep up our consciousness development and self-improvement practices, so as not to be ruled by the unconscious forces within.
Diwali is a potent opportunity to set this conscious intention, and to call forth more light and love into our hearts, and then to spread it out into the world! With so much trauma and disaster occurring all over the planet, our light, love, and service are needed now more than ever. No matter how small a part we can play, let us do what we can to increase harmony on and with the planet.
You can click here to discover your specific strengths and challenges through a personal Vedic astrology chart reading with me.
New Moon in Swati
Be careful not to become scattered this New Moon in Swati, on the dark night of Saturday, October 29th (*Times given for North America).
The Sun and Moon will coincide in this Vedic star-sign ruled by Vayu, the Lord of Wind, to kick off the next lunar cycle. The exact conjunction will be Sunday morning (at 10:38 a.m. PDT), with the darkest Moon phase on Saturday night. It will also coincide with a Venus-Saturn planetary war (exact conjunction), so we may feel a conflict between temporary pleasures and long-term goals (October 28-30). Thankfully, this dark Moon night also marks the time for celebrating Diwali (or Deepawali), the festival of light, wherein we celebrate prosperity and light prevailing over darkness! So it’s a great time to shine some light and turn our minds and hearts toward devotional practice.
There are a few factors creating the potential to feel scattered at this time, but there’s also a great opportunity to ground ourselves and steady our minds through focus and worship. In addition to Vayu’s influence, we in the Northern Hemisphere have been experiencing the cold winds increasing in the external atmosphere. As we go deeper into autumn, the vata dosha (comprised of air and ether elements) is increasing all around us. With the leaves falling and the weather changing, the process of decrease and sparsity in nature becomes evident. This results in an increase of vata energy, which can cause us to feel restless, anxious, spacey, dry, or depleted. It is extra important to do grounding and nourishing practices during this season, and to eat warm, moist, and heavier foods.***
What’s more, this lunar cycle begins with the Sun and Moon in Libra, where Sun is considered debilitated (not able to express strongly). Sun represents our vitality, energy, physical strength, and also our feeling of spiritual strength and connection with universal source. Not surprisingly, the time of year when he becomes “debilitated,” passing through Libra, is the same time we experience increased vata in the atmosphere and lessened immunity in our systems. It’s the time when we are most likely to catch a cold and begin to feel “spread thin” or “dried out.” While the Sun is in Libra, self-care is extra important. Take some time on this New Moon night to set intentions for how you will care for yourself during the coming cycle.
Another reason Sun is considered debilitated in Libra is because Libra is a sign that is very much about relationships. Sun represents our individual strength, so with Sun in Libra, we are more likely to put more of our attention on others, and on relationships, than towards our own physical health. We may be relating to our own personal power through our relationships during this time, rather than approaching it as individuals. While you are offering your love and compassion to others, don’t forget to nourish the divine within yourself as well, or you may end up feeling depleted. It is also easy to become drained when we try too hard to balance everything, another temptation of Sun in Libra.
Thankfully, the divine universe always seems to offer just the right opportunities for solving the same challenges it presents. We just need to be willing to do the work on ourselves. This new Moon is in the part of Libra known as Swati, “the independent one,” which reminds us of our independent nature, despite the strong emphasis we may be putting on relationships at the moment. This star-sign helps remind us to look for our own inherent power, shining forth like the inner Sun.
Vayu, the wind god, is the ruler of Swati, and can bring in a restless and scattered energy to this star. He is also the father of Lord Hanuman, who is known as the greatest devotee. One lesson we learn from Hanuman is that through loving devotion, even a restless monkey mind can be tamed. He had endless devotion for Lord Rama, which gave him invincible powers to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. Though we all have restless monkey minds at times, if we direct our attention toward love, light, or our chosen deity, we will be able to steady the mind and find immense strength within.
Some ways to still your mind through one-pointed focus include:
- Mantra recitation
- Asana practice
- Scriptural study
- Meditation on candlelight, a statue, or an image
Though a young sprout blowing in the wind (a symbol of Swati) may seem perilous, it is actually growing stronger so as to withstand the intense force of the outer circumstances. Eventually, it could grow into a tall redwood, cutting through the wind like a sword (another symbol of Swati). Swati is also related to the symbolism of a priest, which shows us the possibility for reclaiming both power and balance through devotional or spiritual practice.
Kala Saarpa Yoga
We may feel extra intensity seemingly out of nowhere, for the next two weeks during which the planets align in a Kala Saarpa yoga. This means that the seven major planets are all in between Rahu and Ketu, the two lunar nodes. This heavy alignment can bring up a lot of shadow work, so it is a good time to engage your toolbox for self-development. With Ketu in Shatabisha, the sign of the “hundred medicines,” alternative medicines and healing modalities can be useful towards this end.
With all this energy in the atmosphere, enjoy the opportunity for worship offered by the advent of Diwali! This Hindu festival of light is celebrated for 6 or 7 days, with the main Diwali festival on the night of October 29th. Diwali, or Deepawali, comes from Deepa + avali, “a row of lights.”
Thursday (North America) is both Dhanvantari Tryodashi (or Dhanvantari Jayanti, the birth of Lord Dhanvantari), and Dhanteras (a part of the Diwali festival). It is the thirteenth day of the waning Moon in the Vedic month of Ashwayuja. Lord Dhanvantari is known as the “father of Ayurveda” and the “physician of the Gods.” (Ayurveda is the system of natural medicine from India that is a sister science to yoga and Jyotish.) If you practice any healing tradition, especially Ayurveda, this is a good day to give thanks and call in auspicious blessings to your healing path or practice.
Thursday also marks Dhanteras, the first day of the Diwali festival (the Hindu festival of light). It commemorates the day that Lakshmi emerged from the milk ocean. In India, it is customary to purchase metals on this day — anything from jewelry to new statues to kitchenware (excluding iron), as a part of celebrating Lakshmi and calling in more prosperity. The metals can then be offered to your altar and will absorb and amplify the benefits of worship performed over the few days of Diwali.
It is customary to perform a puja to Lakshmi on the third night of Diwali (this Saturday in North America). Goddess Lakshmi represents wealth and prosperity (spiritual and material), as well as devotion, love, beauty, and happiness. Celebrating her on Diwali is a way to call these qualities into our lives.
It is also traditional to light candles throughout Diwali, to remind us of the divine light within. Diwali is also related to the story from the Ramayana about Lord Rama’s return from exile after fourteen years. It thus symbolizes light and goodness emerging from times of darkness. Lord Rama represents dharma, or doing our duty, as well as devotion, compassion, courage, and righteous leadership. Diwali celebrations often commemorate his and Sita’s return to the kingdom of Ayodhya after their exile.
On Saturday night as we prepare to enter the next lunar cycle, light a candle! Turn your mind toward the divine so as to focus and ground, through the practices that work best for you. Set some intentions as to how you will practice self-care during this cycle (and be sure to find me on Facebook for a live chat with tips for how to do this!).
Ram Ram, Namaste
***Be sure to Follow me on Facebook so you can tune in for my upcoming Facebook Live talks about the New Moon AND Ayurvedic tips for how to stay balanced during the high vata season!
**Limited requests for personal Vedic Astrology readings before the New Year are now available Here.
Mars, the planet of our courage and will, is coming to a stop in his reverse motion today (as viewed from earth), and then will slowly begin moving forward again through the zodiac. Mars has been retrograde since mid-April, and since that time we may have been feeling confused about our strength and courage, or may not have been feeling as much vitality as usual (especially if you are a Mars-ruled person). Mars moving forward again will help us to regain some willpower and self-discipline, but could also put a bit of pressure on our relationships for the next couple of weeks while he remains in Libra. You’ll also feel some energy returning to whatever house Libra is in your chart, and whatever themes Mars rules for you.
In a couple of weeks the forward-moving Mars will re-enter sidereal Scorpio, joining retrograde Saturn once again. If you haven’t read your Saturn Retrograde Forecast yet, now is a good time to do it. The Mars-Saturn conjunction will up the pressure on the commitments you’ve been working on figuring out since March. You will have about one month left in Saturn retrograde when Mars, who governs our force and will, joins Saturn, who relates to our long-term goals and commitments. This will be the time to really decide what direction you are moving (especially in regards to Scorpio’s house in your chart), and take a firm stand before the Mars-Saturn war in late August.
Now is still a great time for a reading if you want to explore how the Mars and Saturn are triggering you around long-term goals and decisions.
It’s an auspicious full Moon and Hanuman Jayanti this week! This full Moon falls at 8 degrees of sidereal Libra, opposite the exalted sun in Aries, and brings the celebration of Hanuman Jayanti (the birth of Lord Hanuman!). In Vedic astrology, the sky is divided into 27 sections. These are constellations or stars called nakshatras, and there is one for each night of the moon’s transit in a lunar cycle (they were said to be the 27 wives of the Moon). The nakshatras are even more specific than the 12 major constellations we know from Western astrology. Each nakshatra has a special significance and brings a powerful energy that is related to both a Vedic deity and a planet.
This full Moon will occur at 10:24 p.m. PDT this Thursday, April 21st, in the nakshatra called Swati, “the independent one.” The symbol of Swati is a young plant blowing in the wind. The energy of this star evokes our sense of independence, but also represents the struggle that we can feel while trying to assert our place in the world. Its deity is Vayu (wind personified), who is the father of Lord Hanuman, also associated with this star. Swati is related to the shadow planet Rahu, adding a deep psychological quality and offering the chance to tap into our hidden power (Rahu is often related to kundalini energy).
There is a large vata quality to this star, which can cause a restless mind. With the full Moon here, we may have a sense of our great internal potency, but feel a good deal of nervousness about it at the same time. We can ease our sense of agitation by channeling that energy into worship, and contemplating the qualities of Lord Hanuman. He demonstrates that even our restless monkey minds can be tamed through one-pointed focus on devotional service, such as he has. Swati is also the nakshatra where Saturn, the planet of service, reaches exaltation.
How fitting that this full Moon also brings the Hindu holiday Hanuman Jayanti! This is a time for celebrating Lord Hanuman’s divine qualities. Hanuman is the greatest devotee of Lord Ram, and exemplifies loving selfless service. He embodies many virtues, including service, strength, devotion, courage, humility, and morality. In some places, the celebration of Lord Hanuman’s birth will be even greater than that of Lord Rama’s (last week). This is because of the value we see in the qualities that arise in a devotee’s heart and mind through practicing love for one’s deity. These lead us into actions of love and service, and spread peace and happiness throughout the world.
How can we celebrate Hanuman Jayanti? Begin at sunrise, if possible, because that is when Hanuman was born. It is customary to fast from sunrise until sunset on Hanuman’s birthday. You can offer him sweets, bananas, flowers, prasad, puja, or mantra. The Hanuman Chalisa is the supreme Hanuman mantra. Chant a few or many of these throughout the day. For times when you can’t do that, simply chanting the name Ram (aloud or silently) will also be a potent offering into the collective consciousness of prayer on this day. The power of prayer increases exponentially with more people joining in unison. You can also read passages from the Ramayana.
Many temples will be celebrating Hanuman Jayanti on the 21st (in North America), the actual Chaitra Purnima (the 15th moon phase of this lunar month, Chaitra), but some are hosting gatherings on the weekend to offer more devotees the chance to commune. (Note: In India, this year’s full Moon and Hanuman Jayanti falls on April 22nd.)
Other influences to be aware of this full Moon:
Moon is being lit from across the earth by an exalted Sun, who is now transiting Aries’ part of the sky. With sun in the powerful sign of Aries, ruled by Mars, we have the courage to share our light and our power, and to purify ourselves with the discipline of Mars and the inspiring energy of Sun. Purification can definitely include turning your attention onto your physical health this month. Now is a great time to reignite your exercise routine and do some dietary cleansing to strengthen your physical body. As yoginis know, the body is the vessel for the soul, so taking care of your temple will also create a purification of mind and heart, and a vibrancy of spirit. This placement also strongly supports cultivating some yogic discipline. The energy of the full Moon falling in Libra reminds us to find balance while pursuing energetic purification.
Expect some potential intensity, as well, because Aries’ ruler Mars has just turned retrograde, and is now headed back towards an also-retrograde Saturn (from our vantage point on Earth). Both are in sidereal Scorpio. This could create some conflicts, both internally and externally. Saturn puts on the pressure and tries to make us slow down, proceed with caution, and re-evaluate our commitment to long-term goals, especially around how we approach internal transformation. He urges us to seek enduring structure to support our deep-seated vulnerability. Mars, on the other hand, wants us to take courageous, warrior-like action, and immediately destroy anything that is standing in the way of overcoming our fears. The combination of these two is like pressing the gas and the brakes at the same time, creating a potentially explosive situation.
Rahu and retrograde Jupiter are still joined in Leo (you can see Jupiter there every night), and continue to foster a period of extremist beliefs on both personal and societal levels. Watch out for self-righteousness. For some good news, on the other hand, Venus is in his nakshatra of exaltation at the moment (Revati). This gives us the chance to elevate some of our earthly sensual desires into desires for spiritual upliftment and liberation from material focus. At the same time, if you have a tendency to escape reality or go overboard into dreamland, you may find yourself taking that to the extreme right now.
Vedic Astrology chart for Full Moon on April 21st/22nd 2016