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, and is marked by shukla navami, the ninth tithi (lunar phase) of the waxing Moon this month. 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.
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Shukla ashtami, the eighth tithi (lunar phase) of the waxing Moon this month, marks the eighth day of Navaratri during which we honor Goddess as Mahagauri, the “great white” goddess. This incarnation of Durga is fair, shining and radiant like pure light, representing her purifying shakti. She rides a bull and carries a damaru (a hand-drum) and a trisul in two hands, keeping the other two in mudras for blessing and protecting. She represents compassion, truth, and purity and bestows these on her devotees. Mahagauri is often thought of as the young form of Parvati, and thus worshipers often feed young girls sweets on this day of celebration, to honor the great white goddess.
The story is often told that while Parvati was doing penance to win Lord Shiva, her body became black and dirty. When Shiva accepted her he washed her with the water of the Ganga which made her shine resplendently and become Mahagauri. This represents her power to free us from all pain and suffering and to bless us with auspiciousness and virtues, as those who bathe in the waters of the holy river Ganga are said to be blessed and purified. This includes freeing us from the painful attachments to the material world. As we worship Mahagauri after the night of worship dedicated to Kalaratri, we can see that this detachment and reemergence into the light can come only after facing death and darkness.
This goddess relates to the planetary deity Rahu (the north node of the Moon), who is actually a shadow point in the cosmos and has no physical body. Thus Mahagauri relates to parts of our soul and psyche that are beyond the physical body or chakra system. In our worship, making offerings to her and meditating upon her, we can begin to go beyond our attachments to the mundane details of life and brighten our awareness of spirit.
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Shukla sapthami, the seventh tithi (lunar phase) of the waxing Moon this month, marks the seventh day of Navaratri wherein we honor Goddess as Kalaratri, a dark and fierce form of Durga. She has wild black hair, dark complexion, three red eyes, and flaming nostrils. She rides a donkey, and carries a sword and a cleaver in two hands, while her two other hands are in mudras offering blessings and protection.
“Kala” refers to time, darkness, and therefore death. “Ratri” is night, and the presence of this goddess signifies a night of facing death and darkness. She reminds us that these are parts of the experience of life. By facing these aspects, and by worshiping Kalaratri, we can be freed from the pain and suffering associated with them. She is by our side bravely and compassionately as we face the morbid and terrifying aspects of existence, and helps to destroy our fears and weaknesses, giving us great strength.
She is an expression of Kali, whose fearful form was birthed from Durga’s third eye when Durga needed more strength and ferocity to fight the demon Raktabija. She is also called Shubhankari, she who does auspicious deeds, and reminds us that we have nothing to fear from her, and nothing to fear, ever. The compassionate energy of the Divine Mother is always working through all parts of creation, even in the processes of destruction. Kalaratri rules Saturn (Shani), who also represents time and ultimate death, and offers us the opportunity for expanded consciousness through meditation on this inevitability. By worshiping Kalaratri on the seventh day of Navaratri and meditating on her deeply, we connect with the sahasrara (crown) chakra, and the barriers between mind, body, and spirit begin to dissolve. She blesses us with happiness and courage, helping to remove sadness, pain, and fear.
In some areas, the seventh day of Navaratri begins the worship of Sarasvati. Having worshiped Durga and Lakshmi for three days and nights each, to remove obstacles and obtain spiritual wealth. Now the devotee is ready to receive knowledge, which comes from Sarasvati, the goddess of learning. In other schools of worship, such as Kalikula in Nepal, Sarasvati is celebrated for the first three nights, followed by Lakshmi, and the last three nights are dedicated to Kali.
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Shukla shashthi, the sixth tithi (lunar phase) of the waxing Moon this month, marks the sixth day of Navaratri wherein we celebrate Goddess in the form of Katyayani, the warrioress who destroyed Mahishasura (the buffalo demon). Mahishasura had been granted a boon (unbreakable wish) from Lord Brahma that determined that no man could kill him. Thus, when he was terrorizing the earth and heavens, the Gods summoned Goddess Durga to come and save them. This form of Durga is named Katyayani, for her father Katya, a devoted sage who did rigorous penance in order to have Durga take birth as his daughter.
Katyayani takes a fierce form of the Divine Mother when we call upon her to destroy our demons, including both internal negativities and external obstacles to material and spiritual success. She relates to the ajna (the third-eye) chakra, where we draw our concentration during worship today.Katyayani relates to fervent devotion, and it is told that she was also worshipped by the Gopis of Vrindavan, who called on her to help them win Lord Krishna as their husband.
It is said that worshiping Katyayani will help in bringing a good relationship and marriage, as she bestows the strength to remove obstacles. She also rules Jupiter (Guru), who represents husband in a woman’s astrological chart. Jupiter brings grace, expansion, and optimism, just as Katyayani helps us to fight sorrow and fear. Katyayani is related to fragrances, and offering her incense and other aromatics is a good practice to include in worship today. Through healing scents she helps us to fight disease and improve health. She holds both a lotus and a sword in two of her hands, and holds the other two in mudras offering protection and blessings.
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