Maha Navaratri 2017 begins today! In this important Hindu holiday, we celebrate the Goddess through “the great nine nights” (nav = nine, ratri = night). This festival will run through September 30th, the first ten days of this new lunar cycle. 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 19th. The celebration is through the “nine nights” of 21st through 29th, and into the eleventh morning known as Vijayadashami, “the day of victory,” on September 30th (because of the way the lunar phases correlate with the solar days, this year the celebration will span ten nights! Check the Vedic panchanga for your city to see the exact dates for Navaratri where you are.). 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, also celebrated as her incarnation of Kali, 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 on the next 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 Durga
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 click on Goddess name below), or a more a brief introduction, here:
“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. Dive into your own heart to connect with the inner Goddess in the ways that resonate most with you! 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, calling her energy into your life and being.
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!
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The new lunar cycle begins Tuesday, September 19th, at 10:30 pm PDT, with Sun and Moon in sidereal Virgo. After a couple of months full of a lot of emotion and fire with many planets (and eclipses!) in Cancer and Leo, we have a chance to ground out a little bit more under the influence of earth-sign Virgo. Virgo is ruled by Mercury, the planet of the intellect, which brings a more practical and impartial nature to our energies this month. There is opportunity for curiosity and learning. The cycle begins in the Vedic nakshatra called Uttara Phalguni, which reminds us to take time in relaxation in order to re-kindle our productive energy.
The placement of Mercury and the nodes at the time of the Dark Moon, however, continue to make for a strong amount of “shadow” and subconscious energy to be present. Mercury, the lord of Virgo, will be in the 12th house from the Sun and Moon, and joining closely with Mars, showing a lot of intensity in the subconscious and potential for feeling disconnected. This New Moon also occurs under a full kala sarpa yoga, an alignment in which all seven planets are in between the two nodes of the Moon, Rahu and Ketu, in the cosmic circle.
The kala sarpa yoga can be translated as “black snake” or “serpent of time.” The Moon transits the entire zodiac each month, so for two weeks of each month Moon will be on the other side of this axis, breaking the kala sarpa yoga, but for half of the month all planets will fall on one side of the “black serpent.” This will occur frequently over the next several months, when all seven planets will be situated to one side of the nodal axis (see photo) for half the month. The Moon transits the entire zodiac each month, so for two weeks of each month Moon will be on the other side of this axis, breaking the kala sarpa yoga, but for half of the month all planets will fall on one side of the “black serpent.”
When this alignment occurs, more of the shadowy and subconscious energy represented by the nodes is present. We may expect to be more introverted during this time, but it is also possible that more disruptive events can occur. People who are born under this alignment tend to have many “heavy” experiences throughout life. There can still be many positive and auspicious events during this time as well (or for those born under a kala sarpa yoga), but they tend to come after or despite some hardships or challenges.
Look for this yoga to occur for half the month from now through January of 2018. We experienced a similar occurrence last year (2016) from roughly September through January. This doesn’t happen every year, but we happen to be in a time where both Jupiter and Saturn, the slower-moving planets, are both to one side of the nodal axis. Thus this alignment occurs when the faster-moving planets, Sun, Mars, Mercury, and Venus, (plus Moon for half of each month) are also on one side of the axis.
Thankfully, there is a wonderful opportunity at hand to get in touch with the shadowy, subconscious energy of the nodes, through ritual worship and practice offered by Navaratri, the “nine-night” festival of the Goddess, which begins on the first day of this lunar cycle. This is a Hindu festival dedicated to worshiping the Goddess, Devi, in her many forms, for nine days and nights. As the night represents darkness and ignorance, we pray to her to help reveal and remove our shortcomings, bestow blessings, and confer wealth and knowledge. We face the darkness and call on the Divine Mother to remove it and let the atman, or the pure divinity within each of us, shine forth.
Navaratri worship can include creating a special altar to the Goddess, and making daily offerings including flowers, food, incense, light (a flame), ghee, as well as prayer, meditation, mantras and bhajans (devotional songs). The Devi Mahatmya (a.k.a. Chandi Path), the story of Durga, is a traditional text to read throughout this festival. Occurring in the fall-time in India and the northern hemisphere, this Navaratri also coincides with the harvest season, and is a time to give thanks for the abundance of the harvest and pray that it carries us through the winter season.
In many places, the first three nights of Navaratri are dedicated to Goddess in the form of Durga or Kali, warrior goddesses who help us to cleanse our impurities, the next three to Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity and devotion, and the last three to Sarasvati, goddess of wisdom. In other traditions, there are nine different forms of the Goddess honored on each of the nine days and nights. Be sure to follow me to receive daily updates throughout the festival!
Nodes Have Changed Signs
Since the onset of the eclipse cycle in early September, the nodes, Rahu and Ketu, have fully transitioned from the Leo-Aquarius axis to the Cancer-Capricorn axis. This completes one year-and-a-half transit as it begins another. From now through March of 2019, we will experience Rahu in Cancer and Ketu in Capricorn. The obsessive, insatiable Rahu in Cancer will cause us to experience a heightened state of emotionality throughout this time, with perhaps overwhelming sensitivity at times. The confusion of the nodes impels us to take time to get a better understanding of our hearts, and much will be revealed around the eclipse cycles that come in January-February 2018, July-August 2018, and January-February 2019.
With Ketu now transiting sidereal Capricorn, we will have to observe our shadows in the way that we balance our emotional nature with our practicality. Ketu in Capricorn could make us resistant to taking responsibility and practical steps for the future, but he will eventually raise self-awareness around any challenges we have here. We can be very self-critical in the area of Ketu’s transit, which will also affect each individual where Capricorn falls in the natal chart. Conversely, we may encounter impatience, restlessness, and even lust in the area of life indicated by Cancer in our natal chart, while Rahu transits there. I am happy to offer this Full Report and Forecast for Your Sign Here. (If you’re already on the free mailing list, you’ll be getting it in your inbox later today!)
Jupiter in Virgo/Libra
Jupiter has technically transitioned zodiac signs recently, moving from sidereal Virgo’s into sidereal Libra’s designated slice of the pie-in-the-sky. Virgo is a much larger constellation than Libra, however, and in areas where abundant stars are visible just after sunset, one can see that Jupiter is still traversing the constellation of Virgo. The two do not each take up 30° of the 360° ring of the zodiac, in real observational terms, but rather Virgo takes up more than that portion while Libra covers less. Thus, we may be beginning to feel some energy of Jupiter in Libra (more inspiration for harmony, compromise, and the arts), I believe we are still experiencing a strong quality of Jupiter in Virgo (elevating our desire for organization of life’s details).
Also remember, most Western astrologers will say that Jupiter has been in Libra for the last year already, which can cause some confusion. That is based on the tropical zodiac, based on the seasons. Now is a great example of how the tropical zodiac does not correlate with the observable position of the planets and constellations as we see them from earth.
In the Vedic zodiac, Jupiter is still considered to be in the constellation of Chitra, which bridges the designations of Virgo and Libra. This nakshatra correlates with the star called Spica within Virgo (which Jupiter is closely conjunct at the moment), and translates as “the brilliant,” as it is one of the brightest stars in the sky. It is the sign of the celestial architect, and does bring forth a strong artistic quality. This is, therefore, a good time to allow your artistic inspiration to shine through, especially through both skillful and intelligent endeavors.
Mercury, Mars and Venus in Leo
Mercury, Mars, and Venus are all transiting sidereal Leo now. Venus in Leo can cause us to bring forth a lot of “me-first” in relationships, while the proximity of Mars and Mercury in this fire sign can lead to arguing, so be especially aware of these tendencies this month. The three are all catching an aspect from Saturn, now moving forward in direct motion in Scorpio, so that could help to add some mature caution to our impulses.
The Total Solar Eclipse coming this Monday, August 21st, 2017, will cast a shadow over the Sun, obscuring it from view from coast to coast across the United States. The map below (from timeanddate.com where you can see a video visual of the eclipse path) shows the path of the eclipse, where the red line in the middle are the areas where the Sun will appear 100% obscured. The full eclipse will occur from 9:48am PDT to 1:02pm PDT, with the maximum eclipse at 11:25 am (partial eclipse visibility is from 8:46 am to 2:04 pm).
This will be the first time since 1918 that a total solar eclipse has fully crossed the geography of the United States, and it’s been since 1979 that a total solar eclipse was visible here. You may remember the eclipses of 1994 or 2012 — these were annular solar eclipses, during which a thin ring of the Sun remained visible behind the Moon’s shadow. In the direct path of a total eclipse of the Sun, the Moon will obscure the Sun entirely, leaving only the glowing corona (like the atmosphere) of the Sun visible. Jupiter, Mars and Venus will become visible in the sky, to the east (Jupiter) and west of the eclipse. The next annular solar eclipse across the US comes in 2023, the next total solar eclipse visible from parts of the US will be in 2024, and the next total solar eclipse to cross from coast to coast next comes in 2045.
The Vedic Mythology of Eclipses
If you’re paying attention to Vedic astrologers (or many other traditions), you’ve probably heard by now that eclipses are inauspicious. Imagine living in ancient times and experiencing this phenomenon of the Sun quickly disappearing, midday, when you didn’t know it was coming. Even though astronomical understanding has advanced, the energetics of this abnormal and ominous occurrence are still present, and even modern Hindu tradition (and others) advise against being outside during the eclipse. It is thought that the atmosphere is tainted by the negative energy of the nodes, and so it is best not to eat, drink, or even breathe the air outside during the hours surrounding this celestial event.
Eclipses occur when the north and south nodes of the Moon (astronomical points on the ecliptic, known as Rahu and Ketu in Vedic thought), align with the Sun, Moon, and Earth. The shadow that we see is related to demonic energy in Vedic mythology, portrayed by the origin story of Rahu and Ketu. This ancient tale depicts the gods and demons working together to churn the ocean of milk (similar to our pursuits under the milky way), to obtain the nectar of immortality. When it finally arose, Vishnu, a god, began passing it out to all the other gods, but cleverly skipped over the demons, lest they attain immortality as well.
One shrewd demon disguised himself and slipped into the line, and imbibed one drop of the immortal nectar, before the Sun and the Moon ratted him out and Vishnu cut the demon’s head off with his discus. That one drop allowed the demon to obtain immortality, however, and he took his place in the heavens alongside the other gods (the other planets are also deified). The head became Rahu, and the tail became Ketu, and now they are forever pursuing the Sun and the Moon to take their revenge. They conquer the bright, sattvic orbs occasionally, and this is when we see eclipses.
Astrological Energy of this Eclipse
The solar eclipse coincides with the New Moon, where the Sun and the Moon are exactly aligned from the perspective of earth (which actually occurs at 11:30 am to be exact). They come together in sidereal Leo, in the Vedic nakshatra known as Magha, “the mighty.” Magha is symbolized by a throne and relates to positions of power, government and authority. In this case they are closely accompanied by Rahu, who will be right on the cusp of Leo and Cancer during the eclipse.
The nodes don’t just embody “demonic” energy in terms of terrible, external, magical ghouls that are out to get us. The idea of demons in Vedic thought is really a metaphor for our inner demons—the shadows, challenges, and vasanas that we carry as living human beings. They represent the parts of us that are most subconscious, and the least understood. They show the things that we are most trying to learn from and integrate in our lives. We all have Rahu and Ketu placed somewhere in our natal charts (the map of the planets and constellations at the time of your birth), and this tells us about some of our biggest challenges, where we will seek growth throughout life.
We also all have had Rahu and Ketu transiting Leo and Aquarius since January 2016, compelling us to grow and look at our shadows in those particular areas of our lives. This axis in the zodiac teaches us to integrate personal power, and how we use it for greed or leadership (Leo), with universal service, and how we can act for the long-term benefit of many, without extinguishing our own light (Aquarius). It has been a quest for us to better reflect on how we wield power, and when we think of others, and to learn to harmonize and balance our self-love with universal love. Neither can be of service without the other. (We’ve also been working on balancing these two within the specific areas of our lives governed by Rahu and Ketu in our personal charts — Free Forecast Here).
This eclipse is bringing us towards a huge culmination of the lessons that have arisen in the last year-and-a-half. When the shadows of Rahu and Ketu become visible during eclipses, our inner shadows become visible and we are better able to do the personal work on ourselves with the tools we have acquired to do so. Although it is a great growth opportunity, the malefic and demonic nature of the nodes can still be quite tumultuous, and eclipse periods (the month surrounding a pair of eclipses, such as this month), can feel quite stressful and intense, especially if we are not ready to see or experience the areas that need shifting in our inner and outer worlds. Whether we are ready or not, there will often be major shifts.
This Eclipse and the USA
With this total solar eclipse hitting the entirety of the US harder than anywhere else, it’s possible that there will be some major shifts here compared to anywhere else in the world. We have already seen the intense, tumultuous energy stirring up the atmosphere and causing widespread uprising and violence in the country this month. Leo in general is the sign of government, and Magha nakshatra has to do with the seat of the one in power, and we can see that the POTUS’s power is being shaken and is facing intense aggravation right now. The last year-and-half has had the country in an uproar over its government, more so than usual, due to Rahu’s transit of Leo, which was also accompanied by Jupiter throughout most of 2016, further amplifying the extremism. With this major eclipse over the US right now, we are being called to see the darkest elements of power and the way it can be wielded. Rahu’s position in the difficult gandanta zone at the end of Cancer adds even more potency to his influence and more potential for serious impact.
Furthermore, this eclipse is also directly affecting the lagna (the first house, or the rising sign), of the current POTUS. Whenever an eclipse affects your lagna, you will experience its effects most directly and intensely. The transit of Rahu here over the last year-and-a-half intensely amplified his already aggrandized sense of self. Having Leo lagna in general will give someone a strong sense of their own power. His ruling planet, the Sun, is joined with Rahu in the 10th house, giving him a strong presence in the public eye, but also a confused or distorted sense of self, because Rahu brings confusion wherever he joins. It is a placement for achieving a degree of power or leadership, through business or government, but also shows that the way other people see him is characterized by the darkness of Rahu.
With this eclipse coming within one degree of his Mars, the planet of strength and courage, he may be doubting this power a bit at the moment. Saturn is still in Scorpio, transiting his natal Moon, putting a lot of pressure on the mind and emotions. It’s also aspecting his Rahu and Sun in the 10th, and his Mars and lagna, putting intense pressure on his personal and public personas as well. It is quite possible with this eclipse that we could see some major identity breakdown or shift as he tries to handle all the negativity and shadows revealed by the nodes. The authority that was amplified by Rahu’s transit since last year may be coming to an end. The shadow planet is now transiting into Cancer, which is his 12th house, the place of loss. Rahu’s transit of someone’s 12th can be incredibly difficult, bringing the energy of solitude and isolation, which can result in such things as institutionalization or being outcast.
If you have planets in the 12th house in your natal chart, or are also experiencing a transit there, the best thing to do is to try to activate the higher manifestations of the 12th; these include meditation, going inward, taking retreats, spiritual practice, self-inquiry, investigating the dream state, and practicing devotion and surrender to a higher power.
A Wave of Compassion on the Horizon
Just as the Rahu transit of Leo has amplified the quest for personal power over the last two years, the Rahu transit of Cancer that is beginning now will increase the sensitivity of our emotions and bring more focus to the heart center. This gives the potential for motherly compassion to take a more central role in our lives on the broad scale as well as the individual. Rahu intensifies the energy wherever he transits and also drives our focus there. As he goes through Cancer for the next year-and-a-half, emotions will be magnified, especially around the time of the eclipses.
Though this could help to open the floodgate of the heart, the shadow planet also represents confusion, so there will be a lot for us to work out here, and some possible missteps along the way. As Ketu transits the opposite sign of Capricorn, we will learn to harmonize the part of ourselves that is emotional and intuitive, with the part that is practical and responsible. This will be the collective lesson we approach as a society on the whole. Individually, we will be integrating this type of balance into our personal lives, in the specific areas of your life indicated by Cancer and Capricorn in your individual Vedic natal chart. Free forecast on what this means for your sign are coming soon to the free mailing list, so be sure to sign up if you aren’t on it already!
Retrograde Mercury and Planets Surrounding the Eclipse
Mercury is currently in retrograde motion and is closely joining this eclipse, at 14° of sidereal Leo and leaning towards the eclipse point. Whenever Mercury is retrograde, we tend to backtrack a lot around details and communication, as well as look more closely at these things for what we may have missed before. Joining this power- and government-oriented eclipse, we are seeing a lot of backtracking and close scrutinization of the words and language of the “leader.” There is a lot of revisionist history going on as well.
Magha, the nakshatra where this eclipse falls, is associated with the deities called the “Pitras,” referring to our ancestors and forefathers. There is a close look at these figures accompanying the tumult of the moment. With retrograde Mercury so close at hand, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some close examination and perhaps revision or modification to some laws and documents of old stimulated by this eclipse. Now is also a time to speak up about what power and leadership mean to you, especially if you missed any chance to do so before.
Saturn’s serious and discerning gaze is also falling on the Sun and Moon during this eclipse, from his still-retrograde position near the end of Scorpio. Saturn in Scorpio makes us look at our willingness to transform internally, and when directed towards the Sun and Moon in Leo, this can also add the pressure to transform our power structures. We have already seen a lot of changes in the governmental administration this month, and that could be stimulated further by this eclipse.
Finally, the look of this eclipse’s chart may remind you of the many one-sided charts we saw last year while the planets were in kala sarpa alignment. The current chart is not technically kala sarpa since Venus and Mars remain west of the Rahu-Ketu axis, but it comes pretty close. This time of alignment brings forth even more nodal energies, adding a third (fourth, fifth, sixth…?) level of intensity to this eclipse’s lineup.
What may come out of this eclipse is more inspiration. With Jupiter in Virgo, the second sign from the eclipse in Leo, our philosophies and higher beliefs will be what help us to process the outcome of current events. Turning towards something higher, that really offers some purpose in our lives, will be the medicine for any wounds incurred during and around the eclipse. We are gearing up for a few years of widespread activism, stimulated by Saturn’s return into Sagittarius in October (he began this journey earlier this year, from January through April). His presence here will compel us to work hard for what we see as our highest beliefs. It will turn our gaze towards a more universal vision, where our commitments are for our world and society at large, rather than our personal gain only or those of our close relations.
During the eclipse, the best things to do are meditate and go inward, and contemplate your own path towards opening the heart, speaking your truth, and discovering what a truly inspiring display of power and leadership looks like. The year-and-a-half to come will take us in a new direction of inner and outer growth and change. May all beings be happy and at peace.Save
You can book a personal reading to see how else this eclipse is affecting you personally and hitting the planets and houses in your natal chart.
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The New Moon cycle in Cancer begins at 2:46 am PDT on Sunday, July 23rd. The Moon, Sun, and Mars will all come together near 7 degrees of sidereal Cancer, in the Vedic nakshatra known as Pushya, “the nourisher.” This month will be a time to allow yourself to both give and receive, and give thanks for divine love offered to us abundantly. We are all only children of this vast and generous universe, and the Cancer Moon cycle reminds us of that. Cancer, ruled by the Moon, is the sign of the divine Mother, and it is here that we encounter universal compassion, acceptance, and nourishment (related to the breasts and the heart).
Just as Cancer is related to the heart and the breasts, the source of emotional and literal nourishment for humans, Pushya is represented by the udder of a cow. This symbol elicits the sensation of abundance, as we picture the cow heavy with milk, ready to be offered to her eager calves. There can be so much there that the cow will literally hurt with immense pain if not relieved by nursing or milking, just as human mothers do as well.
Pushya nakshatra governed by the deity Brihaspati, a divine priest and form of Jupiter. There is a Vedic myth that tells the tale of Brihaspati’s wife, Tara, once becoming infatuated with Chandra, the Moon God. She ran away with him and even became pregnant. She eventually returned to Brihaspati and bore a child, who was Budha (Mercury). Although he had some emotions about it at first, Brihaspati eventually took the child in and raised him as his own. The generous nature of this story shows the powerfully compassionate and nurturing quality of this star, which brings both maternal and paternal love and care. This month is a good time to look at where you can open your heart and find more compassion, especially in relation to your parents or parental figures (or in your role as a parental figure).
Eclipses and What to Do
Despite the nourishing sensation that will help to guide us into this month, we should prepare for some serious intensity, as we are simultaneously entering into a powerful eclipse cycle. There will be a partial lunar eclipse on Monday, August 7th (at 11:20 am PDT), and a total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st (maximum eclipse at 10:15 am PDT; check your local time zone for maximum eclipse where you are). The lunar eclipse will be visible from most of India, Asia, Australia, Africa, and Europe, while the solar eclipse will be most visible from North America, and slightly from South America and Western Europe.
Partial Lunar Eclipse visibility, August 7th, timeanddate.com
Total Solar Eclipse Visibility, August 21st, timeanddate.com
Contrary to the popular idea of going out and partying underneath the rays of the eclipse, Vedic tradition advises against looking at the eclipse or even being outside at all during it. (The full window of the August 21st eclipse is from 9:01 to 11:37 am PDT.) Why? Well, you have probably noticed from reading my blog or free eclipse book… eclipses are inauspicious!
Astrologically, eclipses occur when the lunar nodes, known as the demonic Rahu and Ketu, actually swallow the Sun and the Moon (our soul and heart) temporarily. (Astronomically, they are the times when Sun, Moon, and earth align with the measurable ascending and descending nodes, which are explicit points in the sky.) Although we have A LOT to learn from the “shadow planets,” Rahu and Ketu, their influence is usually disruptive in our lives.
Think about it … do you want all of your dark shadows to become visible within a number of hours? If they did, what would be the ideal circumstance for observing them? Astute self-awareness, reflection, and conscious actions or practice will help you to navigate murky waters. This is what my satguru recommends for the eclipse times … She says it is best not to eat or drink during these windows, because the energy of the atmosphere is contaminated, and the best thing we can do is to be indoors and doing some kind of spiritual practice (chanting, meditation, connecting with what inspires you most).
Of course, many people will be outside, checking out the eclipse, celebrating in festival style (here on the West coast). But it’s definitely a time to maintain consciousness and be equipped with your spiritual warriorress weapons, so you are ready to combat the demons that might arise from within.
Entering a New 1.5-Year Nodal Transit
Since January of 2016, the nodes Rahu and Ketu have been transiting the parts of the sky known as Leo and Aquarius, respectively. For the last year-and-a-half, we have each been doing personal shadow work that involves re-calibrating a balance between how we perceive, pursue, and attain personal power and leadership ability, with how we engage in universal service to society and the earth. The shadows of the nodal cycle arise most acutely during the two “eclipse cycles” that occur each year.
The eclipse cycles of this last nodal transit occurred in March and September of 2016, and February of this year. Not only were we working on balancing the universal themes of Leo and Aquarius, but for each of us individually, we were working on balancing the two sides of life indicated by the houses that fall on Leo and Aquarius in our natal charts. If you never downloaded your Free Rahu/Ketu in Leo/Aquarius Forecast for Your Sign, get it for free now and see how it helps illuminate the last year-and-a-half of your life! I’ll be sending out the next free forecast for your sign very soon (Rahu/Ketu in Cancer/Capricorn Forecast), so be sure to stay on the free mailing list! The lunar eclipse on August 7th will be the last with the nodes on the Leo-Aquarius axis, and may really finalize for us some of the lessons we have been learning through this time.
The nodes are getting ready to transit from Leo/Aquarius into Cancer/Capricorn on August 17th. This means that the second eclipse of this cycle, the massive solar eclipse on August 21st, will actually be launching us head-first into a new 1.5 year cycle brought on by the nodes’ position here. With Rahu and Ketu now in Cancer and Capricorn, we will begin to unravel the dynamics within us that contrast our heart space and most sensitive side with our outer resourcefulness and most practical side. Are you all open heart, or all practicality? Too much of either one can cause problems to arise. The eclipse of August 21st may highlight for you in a big way some ways in which you need to look at this inner dichotomy. Utilize your most powerful tools and teachings to engage with what is coming up in a positive way!
The new cycle will also have profound affects on your life in the “house” axis that is Cancer-Capricorn in your Vedic natal chart. Again, be sure to sign up for my free mailing list to get the forecast for your sign, and check out offerings on the Readings page that can help you navigate through the upcoming cycle.
Venus and Saturn
Also remember that Venus is in his own sign of Taurus right now, and is being aspected by the expansive Jupiter. Desires and sensuality could be very high right now! With that wide open heart of the Cancer cycle, be aware of where your boundaries are, lest they get washed away in the watery shadows of the Cancer cycle eclipses. Saturn is making his final transit through Scorpio, which for this eclipse cycle may actually add some much-needed discipline and long-term vision towards what will aid in our transformation the most.
May you have a powerful eclipse cycle, and embrace the potential for positive change as we see and begin to clear the shadows that arise!
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!