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!
Maha Navaratri 2016 will be from October 1st-10th, the first ten days of this new lunar cycle. In this important Hindu holiday, we celebrate the Goddess through “the great nine nights.” Goddess, Devi, Shakti, Durga, Divine Mother, the many names and forms all represent the dynamic and fluid feminine power that enlivens all of existence.
She is the creatrix, the warrioress, the nurturer, the purifyer, the protector. While she’s in the innocent and fertile maiden so is she the wise and learned crone. Both the nurturing mother, and the one who gives “tough love.” The impassioned lover, the devoted bhakta, the disciplined yogini. We see Goddess appear through us in innumerable manifestations. Through her many forms she teaches us and offers us countless blessings–love, compassion, courage, learning, discipline, surrender, success, enlightenment, and bliss. This festival is a time for celebrating the supreme feminine power in all her glory, and the many blessings she bestows upon us.
As with most Hindu celebrations, this festival correlates with the lunar calendar, and thus begins on the first day of the waxing Moon after the New Moon of September 30th. The celebration is through the “nine nights” of October 1-9, 2016, and into the tenth morning known as Vijayadashami, “the day of victory,” on October 10th. Worship during Navaratri is most generally dedicated to Goddess in the form of Durga, the demon-slayer, but there is much nuance and variation to practice and forms of celebration throughout India. Above all, Navaratri is a community celebration of the Divine Mother, and the love, abundance and protection she gives.
There are many Navaratri celebrations throughout the year, but the fall-time Navaratri is the most widely celebrated, and is thus called Maha Navaratri – “the great nine nights”. It correlates with the time of the harvest, a time to give thanks for the abundance of the year’s work. Grains and crops are often offered to Devi as part of the celebrations. Ritualistic worship (puja) typically occurs in homes and temples throughout the nine nights and into the tenth morning of celebration.
The Many Forms of Goddess
In Kerala and other places in India, the first three nights of worship are dedicated to Durga (the invincible), the next three to Lakshmi (Goddess of prosperity), and the final three to Sarasvati (Goddess of learning). Durga helps us to destroy and remove the negative tendencies in our minds and hearts, freeing us from the obstructions to our spiritual and material pursuits. Lakshmi helps us to cultivate positive qualities like compassion and devotion, and leads us towards both spiritual and material prosperity. Sarasvati assists us in attaining knowledge and wisdom, through the illumination of our consciousness. She aids in awakening sattva, the quality of purity, and the flow of prana, the vital breath. After removing inner and outer obstacles and cultivating prosperity through virtuous qualities, our devotion, service, and practice help us to attain a state of peace, bliss, and oneness.
In the Kali Kula (Kali school of worship) in northeastern India, Sarasvati is worshiped on the first three nights, followed by Lakshmi and then Kali/Durga on the last three. Sarasvati, Lakshmi, and Kali/Durga (Kali emerged from Durga) are also known as the consorts of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The Goddesses, therefore, provide the shakti to the cosmic processes of creation, preservation, and death/transformation, similar to their male counterparts. Consequently, worship in this manner is dedicated to the cycles of life and Mother nature, through birth, then sustenance, then death. Death is not a complete stop, but allows for the regeneration of energy into a new cycle once again.
9 Forms of Goddess
Throughout India, the nine nights of Navaratri are often dedicated to 9 different incarnations of Durga, allowing the worship of many different aspects of Shakti in a gradual evolution. You can read the stories and significance of these 9 goddesses here, or a more a brief introduction, here:
“Daughter of the mountain”; creative energy, muladhara (root chakra), awakening; Awaken your connection with Goddess today or initiate a new venture, calling on Shailputri for new beginnings.
The ascetic; tapas, discipline, devotion, strength, wisdom, creative abundance; Good day for fasting and meditation, connection with svadhistana (sacral chakra).
Warrioress; protection, courage, grace, manipura (solar plexus); Destroy your internal obstacles by offering them to Chandraghanta.
Creatrix of the “cosmic egg”; strength, health, happiness, success, relationships; Connect with the vital Sun energy and the anahata (heart chakra) today.
“Mother of Skanda/Kartikeya”; motherly love, nourishment, protection, purity; Call on divine truth through the vishuddha (throat chakra), invoking Skandamata to lead you towards victory.
Warrioress who destroyed Mahishasura (the buffalo demon); victory, devotion, strength, removing obstacles; Meditate on these qualities of Goddess through the ajna chakra (third-eye) today.
“Dark/black night,” representing a fierce form of Durga/Kali; darkness, death, surrender, dissolution of pain; Connecting with the sahasrara (crown chakra), remember that Divine Mother offers love, compassion, and many blessings even in hard times. Even in the midst of apparent darkness, and helps us to go beyond the boundaries of the material body-mind and connect with spirit.
“Great white goddess”; detachment, purification, renewal, protection, virtue; Through detachment and devotion, we emerge purified, shining and radiant after surrendering in the dark night. Rejuvenative herbs and foods are good today.
Goddess of “siddhis”; magical, spiritual or mystic powers and blessings, fulfillment of desires, devotion, divine union; Invite Goddess to reveal her presence to you everywhere and in every moment.
Personal Practice Ideas for Navaratri
If possible, it is great to reduce our workload and gather with community at local temples or places of worship. We can also create a little time and space at home and conduct some personal practices to celebrate Goddess energy. Here are some ideas to do at home or with a group throughout the nine nights of Navaratri:
Create a sacred space, a Durga altar, or a Goddess altar. Even if you already have one, you can refresh it in some way or rearrange it specifically for Navaratri. Include images or statues of the Goddess(es) you have a relationship with. This could be according to one of the groups of forms above.
Even if you don’t have much time, dedicate at least a few minutes each day to connecting with the Divine Mother in front of your altar.
Write in your journal about what qualities of Goddess you perceive and connect with. What aspects would you like to strengthen or to cultivate more deeply? Write any and all prayers and offer them to the form of Goddess that appeals to you.
Offer light to illuminate Goddess’s power, helping her to shine more brightly into the world and your life. You can light a candle by the altar and keep it burning when you’re at home. You can even keep an electronic tealight on symbolically when you are away.
Offer flowers or grains (even a small dish of dried rice) to celebrate Devi in the form of mother nature, fertility, the abundance of the harvest, and the cycle of life.
Offer incense, bells, water, or food if you feel called, by placing it on the altar, or mentally offering it to Goddess throughout the day. You can also offer something symbolic of your own work or practice, whatever you have been cultivating for harvest through the year. In offering this you surrender the fruits of your efforts to the Divine Mother.
Some people choose to fast in some variation, if this is something you have practiced before. This might include fasting during the day, fasting with only milk or fruit, or abstaining from alcohol and non-vegetarian foods during Navaratri.
Chanting the Devi Mahatmyam, a verse to the Goddess, is a common practice during the nine-night festival. You can also chant another Goddess mantra or songs that are special to you and your relationship with Devi.
JAI MA DURGA!
Personal Vedic Astrology chart readings and forecasts are available Here.
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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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The new moon in Pisces and Hindu New Year will fall on the early morning of April 7th, 2016 (at 4:24 a.m. PDT), initiating a lunar cycle that will connect us deeply with our emotion and intuition, and allow us to choose where and how we will direct our energy through the coming year.
This new Moon begins the first month of the Hindu calendar year (called Chaitra), during which the Sun makes his transition into Aries sign (or Meesha rashi, in sanskrit). Sun enters sidereal Aries on April 13th, a good three weeks after the equinox. (The western, Tropical zodiac aligns the spring equinox with zero degrees Aries. The sidereal zodiac, used by most Vedic Astrologers, marks the position of the planets as they align with the constellations as viewed from Earth.) From our vantage point, this lunar cycle begins with the Sun, Moon and Venus in the Piscean section of the sky.
We will feel a surge of emotions stirring this month, because of the strong watery nature of Pisces, which is the only purely water-going rashi (sign) in the Vedic zodiac. Your intuition will be strong, as your heart and mind (Moon), soul (Sun), and desire-nature (Venus) align in the “self-abiding” sign of the twin fishes. Jupiter’s rulership over Pisces helps us to connect these with our higher purpose and most optimistic beliefs. Venus is the planet that drives us to seek happiness and pleasure (usually sensual). With Venus in Pisces, it’s possible for our desire-nature to expand, so watch out for over-indulging. At the same time, the sattvic nature of Pisces gives us the opportunity to elevate our desires into things that support our values and our path to spiritual liberation.
In the environment, our bodies are engulfed in the watery flow of winter’s melting ice and spring’s rushing rivers. Internally, our minds and emotional bodies have begun to thaw out of the static quietude of winter, as the nourishing rains create fertile beds for our hopes and dreams to grow. Pisces’ energy will draw us deeply into our imaginations and our mystical power of psychic awareness. Through these, we can discover our most purposeful visions for the coming year, and Pisces’ flexibility will give us the power to change directions if necessary. This is a prime time to orient ourselves in the direction we want to go this year, so that when Sun transits into Aries and we speed ahead into activity, we will be facing the direction that we want to go.
Where do you want to steer your precious life-force this year? The dark Moon time (mostly on Wednesday, April 6th, before the new cycle begins on the 7th) is a potent night to go inward and reflect on what you learned during the last lunar cycle (and the last yearly cycle through the seasons). The most recent moon cycle brought two eclipses, which revealed a lot of our subconscious patterning, whatever was holding us back or calling for our attention. After the illumination of these shadows, we saw where we need to make some changes in our lives, either by throwing out limiting beliefs, or by realigning ourselves towards our highest potential with more clarity and purpose.
The new Moon in Pisces offers us the chance to enter deeper states of meditation, and brings forth our sattvic nature (the part of us that is most aligned with universal spirit). This new Moon is in the Vedic nakshatra (constellation) called Revati, “the wealthy.” This star relates to Goddess Lakshmi’s abundance (both material and spiritual wealth). Though we often think first of her material blessings, this star actually has a great deal to do with unlocking spiritual wealth and wisdom. It is the last of the 27 nakshatras, symbolizing the spiritual maturity that can be achieved as one nears the end of life (or a cycle) in the material realm. It is a place of letting go of earthly attachment, and preparing to enter the mystery of the next unknown chapter.
The ruling deity of Revati is Pushan, who ensures safe journeys (including those into the next realm), and the care of livestock and pastures (also symbolic of wealth). As you follow your intuition and psychic awareness, you may feel called to embark upon a new venture this year. This dark Moon time is a good night to gather your energy and your prayers, and call in divine support for a prosperous journey. Pisces, like the small fish in the vast ocean, evokes the energy of surrender and faith. After we have chosen our direction (with cues from the intuitive silence of meditation), and offered our prayers to the universe for guidance, we must also surrender to the flow and have faith that it will carry us where we are meant to go.
Rahu and Jupiter remain joined in sidereal Leo, exaggerating the general sense of the importance of one’s own beliefs right now. At the time of this new Moon, these planets will be in the sixth house of task-oriented hard work, selfless service, and dealings with enemies and opponents. If you’re feeling political, this month’s energy may inspire you to get involved and do some 6th-house “chores” of service to support your beliefs and challenge your opponents (like fundraising and sharing information about your favorite candidate, or getting on the phone bank to encourage supporters to go out and vote on caucus days). Be aware of the potential to face some serious clashes with those who disagree with you philosophically.
The new Moon joins Venus in Pisces as well, aligning our heart and soul with our desires and relationships. We may really bond with people over dreams and visions this month, especially when Venus enters Revati (on the 14th), his nakshatra of exaltation. Here our normally sensory-bound desire bodies reach for a more emotionally and spiritually based satisfaction. There could be some strong psychic connections. In partnerships we could be feeling especially romantic and optimistic right now, and may be coming together around shared principles, hopes, and dreams. Be mindful of overindulging, however, or going too far into the dream-world, especially if you have a tendency to try to escape from reality.
Saturn has recently turned retrograde, where he appears to move backwards through the sky from our viewpoint on earth. This will last through the summer, and will give us all a good look at our long-term goals, especially in the area of life where Saturn is currently transiting (sidereal Scorpio) over our personal chart. If you have planets in sidereal Scorpio, you may feel like the pressure is on to do some serious reflection in that area of your life. He may also disrupt things in the two houses that he rules for us individually. For a deeper look at how Saturn Retrograde is affecting you, be sure to sign up for my mailing list so you’ll be the first to get the free Saturn Retrograde Forecast for Your Sign.
The first nine days of this lunar month, Chaitra, comprise Vasanta Navaratri, a springtime festival for honoring the many forms of the Goddess (the Maha, or “Great,” Navaratri is observed in the fall)–Jai Ma Durga!. The ninth day of Chaitra is Ram Navami, the celebration of the birth of Lord Ram. Chant the name of Ram! Then the birth of Hanuman, Ram’s greatest devotee, is celebrated on purnima tithi, the full Moon phase of the month. This is called Hanuman Jayanti, and falls on April 21st in North America. It is a powerful holy day to offer prayers to Lord Hanuman, to summon personal devotion and strength, and invoke the grace to calm and tame our restless minds so that we may live in blissful awareness of divine presence. Jai Hanuman!
The ninth day of Navaratri is of utmost importance. On this day we honor Goddess as Siddhidatri, the giver of all siddhis, special powers or perfect attainments. Siddhis are magical, spiritual, or psychic powers, attained through dedication and devoted practice. Through worship and meditation upon all the forms of Durga, culminating with that of Siddhidatri, we can attain perfection and infinite blessings from her. Through the siddhis, all desires can be fulfilled. It is often said that the greatest blessing one can receive is to transcend all desires, or to have one’s only desire be to know Goddess/God. With the blessing of devotion, through her grace, we can remain peaceful and happy in all circumstances, blissfully experiencing the Divine Mother’s presence in and throughout all of creation, in every moment. In this way the ninth day of Navaratri also relates to the illuminating wisdom of Sarasvati, who is often worshiped over the last three days of this festival.
In her depiction, Siddhidatri sits on a lotus or a lion and holds a discus (representative of the chakras), a lotus, a mace, and conch shell, which she will use to sound the victory we attain through her worship. She is surrounded by and worshiped by all forms of divine beings–Gods, demons, spiritual masters and nature-spirits. It is said that even Lord Shiva received his powers from Siddhidatri. In the divine form that is half Shiva and half Shakti, he is merged with Siddhidatri and known as Ardhanarishvara. Siddhidatri relates to Ketu (the south node of the Moon), and thus she governs our deep and ancient psychic wisdom. She is a powerful goddess to worship for enhancing spiritual, psychic and energetic healing powers. It is common to wear sky blue on this day of Navaratri.