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!
It’s no surprise that Rohini is known as the Moon’s favorite nakshatra, it’s one of mine as well. This Thursday, May 25th, at 12:45 pm PDT, the exalted Moon will join the Sun in the middle of Taurus, in Rohini nakshatra. We can give thanks for a warmer and cheerier month ahead, as we begin the cycle with a more peaceful disposition in the mind and heart.
The Moon is the planet that affects our emotions, and sets the tone of our mental thought patterns. Moon is exalted in Taurus because of the stable (fixed) nature of this grounded earth sign, which is ruled by Venus, the planet of pleasure, beauty, and harmony. We all know what it feels like to have turmoil and too many waves of change in the mind and heart, and we feel happier when the Moon has a happy and solid place to rest, such as Taurus.
Within Taurus, this New Moon falls within the Vedic nakshatra (star-sign) called Rohini, “the reddish one” or “the growing one.” Of all the twenty-seven nakshatras visited by the Moon each month, he was said to linger longer here, treating Rohini as his favorite. (In Vedic lore, the nakshatras were said to be the wives of the Moon. Though we do think of the Moon and Venus as planets with feminine qualities, the deities of the planets are thought of as gods while the nakshatras are goddesses.)
Rohini image from Trivedi click for link
Rohini correlates with the star Aldebaran, one of the brightest stars in the sky. The warm and glowing nature of this star elicits a sense of abundance and feminine fertility, and it is no surprise that there is a strong association with agriculture here. The common symbol for Rohini is the ox-cart, representing an abundant harvest, commerce, and in general, a fulfilling material existence. There are strong associations with Lakshmi here, the goddess of prosperity. Rohini is also associated with Brahma, the creative force in existence, adding to the sensation of infinite possibilities here. Venus’s rulership over Taurus also adds a quality of luxury, enjoyment, and a strong presence of Mother Nature.
The shakti (power) of Rohini is the power to grow, and this is a great month to focus on growing your material projects this year. The potency to bring dreams into material existence is strong under the new Moon in Rohini, especially with Taurus’ ruler, Venus, still exalted in Pisces. Venus in Pisces helps us connect our desires with our highest potential, and in the 11th house from this New Moon, the potential of fulfilling our dreams and greatest ambitions is added.
The New Moon in Taurus is also joined by Mars, but Mars is past 29 degrees of Taurus at the moment, so not having too fiery of an influence on our minds. The warrior planet lacks some intensity when on the cusp of two signs. He is within Mrigashira nakshatra, however, his own star-sign, which adds some potency and should help to keep our energy balanced. He transits into Gemini on Friday where we’ll need to put more energy into communication and intellectual pursuits, through mid-July.
Venus is finishing his four-month exalted transit through Pisces on May 30th, when he moves into Aries. After sorting through our desires and deeply reflecting on our relationships through this time, we’ll now work on taking action around them. Passions could be elevated for the next month. The 9th of June will bring both the full Moon and the full stop of Jupiter, before he turns direct and begins finishing his transit of Virgo through the summer.
Enjoy the dark Moon night on May 24th, leading into a new cycle on the 25th, and plant the seeds of what you want to grow in the incredibly fertile grounds of the heart and mind this month!
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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)
The New Moon cycle begins on the night of December 28th, at 10:53 p.m. PST. Sun and Moon coincide in sidereal Sagittarius in Purva Ashada nakshatra, joining a retrograde Mercury. Purva Ashada is a Vedic constellation that translates as the “invincible one” or the “undefeated.” There is a powerful energy of victory associated with this star-sign, which falls in the middle of the powerful sign of Sagittarius.
The Sagittarius cycle brings an energy of optimism, as this sign is the outward expression of the planet Jupiter. Jupiter guides our philosophy and beliefs, as well as hope and optimism, so in Sagittarius we feel inspired to put our values into actions. This can inspire a lot of charitable work and humanitarian efforts. Sagittarius is also a fire sign, so we can get incredibly passionate about working for our beliefs here.
Purva Ashada nakshatra represents the middle of the Sagittarius constellation, and is associated with both power and fluidity. The deity for this star is Apas, the deification of water. The energy of this New Moon of the cosmic waters begins the new year for us a few days later.
In 2016 we experienced a wide-scale rising of struggles for water rights even here in the “first-world” United States. Scientists and spiritual leaders alike have told us that wars will be waged over this vital natural resource, and sadly we have reached the point where that is a reality. On the Dark Moon night of December 28th may we go inward and deeply contemplate our relationship with this elemental life-giver. Connect with Apas as the living embodiment of water if this helps you to strengthen your connection and prayers.
This could be a tough month for relationships as well as societal power struggles, because Venus, Mars, and Ketu now all join in Aquarius, opposite from Rahu in Leo. Ketu brings forth a lot of shadow energy and the combination of Ketu and Mars can be explosive. The affect of these two together with Venus could take a toll on our relationships, bringing up a lot of latent unspoken grievances and arguments about them. This is a time for self-scrutiny, as we are now approaching the last set of eclipses with Rahu and Ketu on the Leo-Aquarius axis. These eclipses will be coming in February.
Personal shadow work may be arising now, especially as we are in the middle of the last kala sarpa yoga cycle that we will experience until late next year. A kala sarpa alignment is indicated when all of the planets are on one side of the nodal axis (Rahu and Ketu are always opposite each other, forming this axis). This alignment usually brings a lot of intensity and upheaval, especially on the inner scale.
There is a range of interpretation as to whether a kala sarpa yoga occurs only when the planets are in between the nodes and not in the same sign as them, or also when they are in between the nodes and joining them within the same sign. That is to say, the current alignment may be considered a looser kala sarpa by some, or not at all by others, because Venus and Mars are in the same sign as Ketu, and Mars will soon be passing Ketu. Nevertheless, the strong proximity and association with the nodes still make for the “heavy times” energy that a kala sarpa yoga tends to bring.
This New Moon joins the Sun along with a retrograde Mercury in Sagittarius. Mercury will be retrograde until January 8th. If you’re making any travel arrangements or other plans during this period, leave yourself extra time for unexpected delays and schedule changes. It’s also a good time to go back and finish conversations that were previously unresolved.
All in all, this is a time where self-awareness is very important, largely because of the strong influence of Ketu. Ketu is one of the planets of the subconscious, so a lot of the energy arising now, in our actions, arguments, and relationships, is from a place that we do not completely understand. There is much wisdom to be gained here, however. The dark Moon time is a great time to meditate and listen to your own inner voice.Remember also to honor the water element, within and without.
*Personal 2017 Readings are available now and are being scheduled throughout the month of January. Be sure to join my mailing list to stay up-to-date with the latest 2017 forecasts
Mercury retrograde has begun again as we approach the darkest day of the year on the winter solstice tomorrow (northern hemisphere bias). It’s natural to feel more inwardly drawn than usual during these days, so take it easy on yourself if you feel like hanging back from the party or social atmosphere. We’re getting the smallest dose of the Sun’s energy right now, who is responsible for our feelings of connection with divine strength, power, and inspiration. We’re in the most yin time of year, so the sensitive receptivity of the divine feminine is highly perceptible.
Take some time to be quiet and sit in the stillness, reveling in the amazing potency of the moment between the exhale and the inhale (on a solar scale). It’s a moment to feel our roots reaching deep into the earth, into the depths of the inner abyss. (Incidentally, the Sun is in Moola nakshatra at the moment, “the root” constellation in the center of the galaxy. The goddess Nirriti presides here, a fierce version of Kali who wields her powers of death and destruction.)
The winter solstice represents death on many levels, as we have reached the end of the annual solar life cycle. Now is a time for letting go. Release all that has happened in the last year and let the candle blow out where need be. It’s also a time to give thanks for all that’s come and gone, to celebrate it with gratitude, and acknowledge its place in the eternal timeline. We can then allow our vessel to empty in preparation for the new energy that is to come.
Following some days of darkness, the return of the light of Surya (the Sun) is coming soon. He will once again infuse the world with his solar breath. The new solar cycle gives us the opportunity for another year of growth, and recession, expansion, and contraction.
If you’re in the southern hemisphere, jump for joy and celebrate the peak of Surya’s cycle towards you! Revel in the ecstatic moment between the inhale and the exhale. Give thanks for the energy that has filled your cup thus far this year, and prepare for the germination process now that your seeds have been planted. The wheel of time is the only constant backdrop to our existence here.
Om Namah Shivaya Om Kali Ma Om Suryaya Namaha
Personal 2017 Readings are available now, scheduling throughout January.