The Sun and Moon will coincide on Tuesday morning at 0°30’ sidereal Taurus, less than an hour after the Moon leaves Aries to join the Sun here. The exact time for the New Moon is 4:48 am PDT on May 15th. This begins a lunar cycle under the energy of Taurus, in the Vedic nakshatra of Krittika, “the cutter.” Following the Aries cycle of initiation, this month will help us to bring ourselves and our goals into fuller embodiment, as the Sun traverses the Venus-ruled earth sign of the bull.
Taurus, or Vrishabha in Sanskrit (“the bull” or “mighty”), is a strong and steady sign that guides our attention towards the beauty of the natural world. Taurus, a four-footed sign, is good at moving forward with strength and fortitude, but finds it more difficult to change direction quickly. The fertility of the earth is lush during this lunar cycle, and our minds and hearts are focusing on what pleasures bring us the most happiness.
Of course, happiness is not a given, but this month is a time to seriously look at our desires, and what lights up and fulfills our hearts. The flip-side of this examination will come on the full Moon in Scorpio, when we come in touch with the fragility and impermanence of all we hold dear. The overall tone for the month, however, is to really pay attention to our surroundings, and make sure that what we keep around us, both in terms of company and possessions, are truly making us happy.
This new Moon also aligns with the Vedic nakshatra Krittika, located by the seven stars known as the Pleiades in the west. This nakshatra bridges the 30° portions of the sky attributed to Aries and Taurus. Though mostly within the Venusian sign of Taurus, Krittika begins in Mars-ruled Aries and is itself under the influence of the Sun.
It is ruled by the Vedic deity Agni, the lord of fire personified. Represented by an axe, flame, or razor, Krittika brings forth sharp and purifying qualities, which can be used to help us to cut or burn away what is not needed. There is also a motherly and nurturing quality to this star, from the association with Venus, as well as with Kartikeya, the warrior son of divine Mother Parvati. The satguru Amma (Amritanandamayi Devi) was born under a Moon in Krittika, and emits this sharp and penetrating yet loving light of purification.
Ketu and Mars in Capricorn
This purifying potential may be especially useful this month, as there is some challenging energy emanating from sidereal Capricorn, as both Ketu (the south node) and exalted Mars are now aligning there. Ketu’s presence can lead to misdirection of energy, accidents, confusion, or unexpected loss. Mars, the warrior, brings a cutting fire-power, and when placed in earth-sign Capricorn, his sign of exaltation, helps us to turn courage into discipline and structure.
The combination of Mars and Ketu, however, could lead to some unexpected acts of violence or intensity. The Kilauea volcano’s violent eruption began on May 3rd, the first full day after this conjunction began. The higher potential of this combination is the possibility for strengthening our psychic powers and wisdom, so sadhana will be incredibly important during this time.
This Mars-Ketu conjunction is going to last for nearly six months, as Mars will transit Capricorn from now through November 5th, and Ketu is taking up residence there for the entire year. Mars’ stint here is so long because he will be in retrograde motion for part of that time, from June 26th through August 27th. During that time, you may find Mars-ruled themes in your life slowing down, and may encounter some deep insights over these. The potential for some upheaval prior to these revelations is definitely strong, especially during the eclipse window from early July through mid-August, as we pass under two partial solar and one total lunar eclipse.
The Moon and the Sun align again this Sunday, April 15th at 6:57 pm PDT, in the early degrees of sidereal Aries. They join in the Vedic nakshatra called Ashwini to begin this lunar cycle, the first of the 27 Vedic signs just as Aries is the first of the 12 major zodiac constellations. This new Moon night is the perfect time for planting the seeds of what you want to grow in the coming months.
Aries is naturally a place of beginnings, a fire sign ruled by the energetic Mars, who helps us to move towards what we need to survive. With Venus also in Aries this week, this new Moon will compel us to really go for our desires, using Mars’ strength to bring what we want into being. We are likely to feel more physically strong this month, as Sun transits Aries, his sign of exaltation. As the Sun relates to purification, this is also a great time to purify ourselves, physically, mentally and spiritually. Starting a new exercise regime, sadhana (spiritual practice), or cleanse is likely to have more traction if you begin it this week. Choose your actions wisely, as the direction we move under the new Moon of the Ram has a powerful momentum and can be difficult to change.
The new activities we begin have an added power due to the Sun and Moon’s positions within Aries, as they align with the nakshatra Ashwini at the beginning of this cycle. Three Vedic nakshatras (star-signs) bridge the larger sign of Aries: Ashwini, Bharani, and part of Krittika. Ashwini being the first of all 27 nakshatras, there is the most momentum here for new ventures. Furthermore, Ashwini is known as “the horsewoman,” is ruled by the Ashwini Kumaras, the horse-headed twins of Vedic mythology. They bring a strong horsepower to any planets or activities influenced by this nakshatra. They are known as the physicians of the gods, and carry a potent healing energy as well.
Akshaya Tritiya – Day of Abundance
Three days after the new Moon in Aries, we come upon a special day of the year known as Akshaya Tritiya, on April 18th. On the third waxing lunar day (the tritiya phase) of the Aries cycle, the Moon transits Rohini, within Taurus, his placement of exaltation. With both the Sun and the Moon exalted at the same time, a portal of abundance is opened. Across India and the Hindu world this is seen as an auspicious day for new beginnings, marriages, and investments of all kinds, especially in gold or golden items. Akshaya refers to the idea of never-diminishing prosperity, so investments made on this day are expected to have great returns.
Jupiter adds some grace to activities we begin on or around this new Moon, as he gazes at the Sun-Moon-Venus conjunction from nearly directly across the sky, in sidereal Libra. Jupiter is powerful at this time, and could be considered a “full Jupiter.” He is in retrograde motion, nearly as close to the earth as he gets, and he is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun, so is incredibly bright in the sky (just as the Moon is brightest and “full” when he is directly opposite the Sun from earth). Jupiter brings the power of inspiration, grace, luck, and expansion, so even though he is retrograde, his proximity to earth and his brightness will add these qualities to the endeavors we undertake at this time.
Mercury, Mars & Saturn
Mercury appears more-or-less stationary at the time of this new Moon, having just turned from retrograde to stationary direct in the early morning of April 15th. He also continues to transit Pisces, his sign of debilitation, but without the elevating presence of Venus that was there some weeks ago, so issues of communication and mental acuity could be a bit murky at the moment.
Mars and Saturn continue their conjunction in the sign of sidereal Sagittarius, but as Mars is now moving away from Saturn there is less hostility than in their war of two weeks ago. You may still feel immediate urges at-odds with your long-term goals, or a conflict between the things ruled by Mars and Saturn in your natal chart. The two will no longer be sharing a sign once Mars moves on into Capricorn (his sign of exaltation) on May 2nd, where he’ll transit for a whopping six months. Look for my Mars-in-Capricorn forecast to see how this could affect you (you can join my free mailing list here).
In honor of Akshaya Tritiya, I’m offering 20% off natal chart readings from now through the 19th! Use coupon code AKSHAYA at checkout.
New Moon in Pisces
This Saturday the Sun and Moon join in Pisces to begin a new lunar cycle, at exactly 6:12 a.m. PDT on March 17th. They coincide in Purva Bhadrapada nakshatra, the Vedic star-sign that bridges Aquarius and Pisces. This is truly a turning point in the zodiac, and in the year, as we really start to feel the ices of winter melting away, and the rains of spring washing out the old and nourishing the earth for a new cycle of life to begin.
Pisces is the natural twelfth sign, a place where we complete a cycle, having gone through all the stages of it from beginning to end. Pisces is a sattvic (pure) sign ruled by Jupiter, which guides us towards the highest form of letting go and facing an ending — surrender to a higher power or purpose. It is also a water sign, which brings forward our emotional intuition. It has to do with the most ethereal planes of our existence, awakening the dream world and the subconscious.
This month could really help you to tap into your subconscious landscape and creative potential. The atmosphere is ripe for deepening our intuition and cleansing energetic impurities. Though it is a place of endings, the twelfth sign also relates to the pre-natal state, coming before the first sign of Aries where physical manifestation takes place. Through a practice of meditation, a trance state, or conscious inward investigation, now is a time to discover what lies below the surface and is ready to be birthed during the coming season.
The new lunar cycle begins under the nakshatra Purva Bhadrapada, a sign that bridges Aquarius and Pisces and has to do with the fires of purification (specifically, the funeral cot, where our physical body is burnt away and we truly merge back into spirit). As we approach the spring and summer, the times for heightened activity where we put our goals and dreams into action, we may first need to burn away the last remnants of the previous cycle. As we approach the Aries cycle, which comes next, this new Moon is a great time to cleanse and purify ourselves, especially energetically or spiritually, and let go of what we no longer need so we have our full strength available for the next journey.
Venus & Mercury
Venus and Mercury are both joining the Sun and Moon in Pisces as we begin this lunar cycle. We will experience their influences as the tone is set for the coming month. With Venus exalted in Pisces, we have an opportunity to purify our desires, and bring them into alignment with our higher principles and purpose. With Mercury neecha bhanga (debilitated, but modified by its conjunction with exalted Venus), our intellect and reasoning ability can also help us towards this goal.
Mercury is slowing down at the moment, however, and Mercury and Venus will enter into another planetary war on Sunday the 18th, through the 20th, while they travel within one degree of each other. Both the intellect and the pleasure-center can feel a bit fatigued during this occurrence, though Venus and the desire body are likely to come out stronger due to Venus’ brightness. Mercury will reverse course and go into retrograde motion on March 22nd, through April 15th.
Saturn & Mars
Saturn and Mars are currently in conjunction, transiting the same sign of Sagittarius. There can be an internal discomfort when this happens, as Mars, the planet of impulse and action, approaches Saturn, the slow giant who gives us patience and commitment. It can feel like the gas and the breaks are going at the same time (especially if you are Vedic Sagittarius rising or have prominent planets here). Moreover, the four areas of your life ruled by Saturn and Mars in the natal chart could be in noticeable conflict this month, especially when the two enter a planetary war on March 31st that will last through April 4th.
Jupiter has appeared to be at a near stand-still the last few weeks, stationing completely in early 29° sidereal Libra, and entering retrograde motion on March 8th. Since Jupiter entered the sign of balance and relationships in September of last year, we have seen wide-spread philosophical attention on gender equality. The full stop coincided with International Women’s Day, when many women made a stand by stepping out of the workforce temporarily.
These weeks have also had a lot of slowing-down and renegotiating the balance of power in the education field, as teachers and students alike have walked out in protests for justice. Jupiter is the ruler of this field, and coming to a stop in the sign of balance, then turning around, could lead us to see some major changes here.
In your personal life, Jupiter retrograde may lead to things slowing down or reversing in the areas of life ruled by Jupiter in your personal natal chart. Full forecast and personal readings available here.
The vernal equinox will fall on March 20th this year, when we will have equal hours of night and day all over the world. The northern hemisphere enters the warmer half of the year, while the southern hemisphere enters the colder. The life cycle is waxing in the north and waning in the south, yet at the time there is an evenness that spreads across the globe.
This equinox occurs during the Pisces Sun cycle, calling upon us to really rise and embrace a higher principle, to awaken to spirit and universal equality, and detach from mundane details and differences. Many people think of the spring equinox as Aries time, which it is the marker of in Western astrology and the tropical zodiac. In the astronomical/sidereal zodiac, however, the Sun is still at 5° Pisces during the equinox (see screenshot from Cosmic Watch app). This is due to what is called the precession of the equinoxes, whereby the wobble of the earth has caused our perspective of the zodiac to shift ever so slightly over thousands of years, and thus the spring equinox now occurs with Sun in Pisces.
On this New Moon in Pisces, embrace the opportunity to let go, cleanse, and purify, before the oncoming season of action is upon us.
The planetary energy is all focused around Aquarius right now, as Sun and Moon join both Venus and Mercury there on Wednesday night, a dark Moon night that will bring in a new lunar cycle as well as a partial solar eclipse. The three outer planets, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, all cast their gazes on this eclipse through their respective aspects onto Aquarius. The nodes, Rahu and Ketu, influence this New Moon via their eclipsing affect (though they are still transiting the Cancer-Capricorn axis).
The exact time of the New Moon in Aquarius will be at 1:05 pm PST, on Thursday, February 15th. The Moon and Sun will converge in Dhanishta nakshatra at this time, which is the sign of “the wealthy,” showing us our potential to thrive in life, and also associated with music and the steady beat of the cosmic drum. A partial solar eclipse occurs simultaneously, though mostly visible only from Antarctica, from 10:55 am to 2:47 pm PST (18:55 to 22:47 UT), peaking at 12:51 pm PST (20:51 UT).
With so much energy converging around Aquarius, this eclipse and the coming month will draw our focus towards something larger than ourselves—the greater good, and our potential to create thriving communities around us. Aquarius is ruled by the planet Saturn, who makes us think about the long-term, the bigger picture, and the commitments and hard work that are needed to take us to our goals. As the active, yang, or masculine expression of Saturn, Aquarius is where we are willing to move our efforts outwards, towards long-term goals that affect the world around us. Under an Aquarian mindset we become willing to work for social equality, planetary and even universal harmony. Community values become more important than the individual, and we find ourselves happy to become part of and of service to a greater cause.
Under Dhanishta nakshatra, the Vedic constellation within Aquarius where this New Moon occurs, we strive to step into beat with the cosmic rhythm. The symbol for this nakshatra, “the wealthiest,” is the drum, often associated with the damaru (hand-drum) of Nataraj, Shiva in the form of the cosmic dancer. There is a universal rhythm that plays through, behind, and around our existence, that goes beyond our individual desire to forge our own path and dance to the beat of our own drum, as they say. When we desire to come into alignment with the cosmic rhythm, and surrender to the greater divine pulse that calls from within, we may actually find ourselves happier than when we were attempting to harness power through a more narrow vision.
Five Planets Influencing
With Venus and Mercury joining in Aquarius, our desires and intellect may also more easily align with this broader vision. Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are also all casting their drishti (“glance,” or aspect) on Aquarius, and the Sun, Moon, Mercury and Venus. This is due to the special aspects that these planets cast according to Jyotish, different from those in Western astrology. Saturn aspects the third house from himself (and the tenth), Mars the fourth (and the eighth), and Jupiter the fifth (and the ninth). With their influence, our actions, principles, and committed nature are also all aimed at the Aquarian concepts of universal duty, connection, and service.
Although the nodes are aligned with Cancer and Capricorn, and this New Moon occurs in Aquarius, Ketu is close enough to the Sun and Moon now that it will cause a partial solar eclipse on Thursday. Although this eclipse may not seem as dramatic as the recent ones that were visible in their totality, it will nevertheless stir the shadow energy of the nodes, and compel us to do some work on ourselves and our lives, or else feel the disturbing effects that eclipses can bring.
With the Sun being eclipsed in Aquarius and Dhanishta, we may feel extremely cut off from our individual power, which can really highlight our human need for community support, and service. When we realize that “I” the individual is not able to solve all our problems, or that personal gain means little without friends to share it with, our place as part of a larger network begins to seem more important. You may also feel cut off from whatever in life is represented by Aquarius in your individual natal chart (or by any planets there), or may have some difficulty (urging you towards transformation) in that area of life. (Free Eclipse Forecast for those on my free mailing list).
This eclipse may show us where we have been neglecting community engagement, public service, or social networking, and if we aren’t willing to look at that, the lessons of the eclipse could be painful. Whether this is a new realization, or even if social involvement is already a large part of your life, this eclipse could be revelatory and transformational, showing you (and your friends) some innovative ways to take your community vision to the next level.
Tuesday night, the night before the Dark Moon night, is a prime time to dig deep and lay the groundwork for some deep insights and personal growth following Thursday’s eclipse. Tuesday brings Maha Shivaratri, the “great night of Lord Shiva,” in Hindu tradition. It falls on the 14th phase of the waning Moon this month (check here for your local time), and is perhaps the most auspicious night of the year for doing sadhana (spiritual practice). It is traditional on this night to stay up all night fasting, chanting, praying, and meditating.
This holiday honors Lord Shiva, the great ascetic, and particularly two stories of great sacrifices that were made protect the entire creation. One of these comes from the story of the churning of the milk ocean, which the gods and demons were doing in order to release the nectar of immortality. Before the nectar came up, however, a poison came up first. (This is similar to when we do spiritual practice and begin our path of self-inquiry, and negative tendencies often come to light first, which can be a painful experience. Similarly, during a physical fast or cleanse, toxins can be shaken loose and released first, causing a healing crisis before we continue healing into a freer, happier state of being.) When the poison came up from the milk ocean, Lord Shiva consumed it so that it would not engulf humanity, the first story of great sacrifice. His wife, Parvati, held his throat however, so that he could not ingest it, thus saving him in turn.
Maha Shivaratri also commemorates the wedding of Shiva and Parvati, which also stemmed from great sacrifice made for the benefit of all humanity. It was said that after his first wife, Sati, perished, Shiva was fully devoted only to his sadhana, meditating for aeons in isolation and renouncing the world. Then the demon Tarakasura began running amock on earth, threatening all of humanity. Brahma fortold that only Shiva’s child could defeat Tarakasura, so the gods devised a plan for Sati to reincarnate as Parvati, and win over her Lord to marriage once again. He was not easily swayed, however, and it was only after Parvati became an ascetic and underwent great penance that he agreed to marry.
Thus, this holiday is celebrated through the penance of fasting, forgoing food, water, and sleep, for one night, and simultaneously celebrating the union of Lord Shiva and Parvati, or the masculine and feminine energies of creation, that allows this dance of life to continue. It is an apt time to feel the forces of Aquarius upon us, which compel us to consider our role in society, and in the universe, and what personal sacrifices we can make for the greater good. Even if you’re not able to stay up the whole night, any amount of devotional practice, serviceful sacrifice, or chanting of Om Namah Shivaya on this night can have beneficial affects that are magnified greater than on any other night.
Personal readings and Eclipse readings available here.
The new lunar cycle begins with a new Moon in Capricorn on the dark night of January 16th. The Sun and Moon join at 6:17 pm PT, at 2° sidereal Capricorn, closely joining Venus at 4°, and in the same sign as Ketu, the south node, signaling the approach of an oncoming eclipse. This is yet another cycle beginning under an inauspicious kala sarpa alignment, though thankfully the last for a while (until August of this year).
Saturn continues to be a powerful force throughout the beginning of this new year. The previous lunar cycle began with Sun and Moon joining Saturn, and the full Moon on January 1st was opposite the austere planet, pressuring us to be aware of the consequences of our actions. This cycle begins in a Saturn-ruled sign, Capricorn, as will the next, which will start with an eclipse in Aquarius.
Capricorn is perhaps the most practical and responsible sign. With the combination of earth sign-energy, Saturn’s long-term gaze, and a tamasic (heavy) quality, Capricorn’s energy compels us to create stable structures and routines that support our long-term goals and responsibilities. This month we may take inventory of how we are doing along these lines, and implement some practical and physical routines that take effort and perseverance, and help us to align with our broader vision. A new diet or exercise regime and a re-examination of financial planning are well-supported by Saturn’s influence right now.
Ketu & Upcoming Eclipses
The close conjunction with Ketu, however, can cast a shadow of confusion over these plans, as we approach a total lunar eclipse on January 31st. The eclipse (at 13:31 UT) will occur on the full Moon, and will be visible from Asia, Australia, India, the Pacific, and western North America. Deep introspection and self-observation is necessary to see through the muck that arises with the conjunction of the nodes on the lunar cycle.
This is the first of 3 major eclipse cycles to occur with the nodes transiting the Cancer-Capricorn axis. With Rahu’s eager, obsessive, and childish head running amok in Cancer, and Ketu’s resistant, critical pall obscuring Capricorn, these eclipses may cause us to allow overwhelming emotions to get the best of us, while disregarding the practical voice of reason. The nodal transit reveals our personal shadows, the inner struggles we face in creating an equilibrium between emotional, heart-centered living and the meeting of life’s goals on the earth-plane. This transit, and these eclipses, also bring up specific shadow work for each individual depending on the natal chart (download the free 2018-2019 Rahu-Ketu Forecast for your Sign here.)
The Sun and Moon, along with Venus, are joined in the Vedic nakshatra called Uttara Ashada, “the latter invincible one,” as we begin this lunar cycle. This star is ruled by the Vishvadevas, the lords of dharma, which will compel us towards doing our duty as we get our ducks in a row this month. The closeness of Ketu and the eclipse cycle, however, could bring up some confusion as to what this duty is. As always, the new Moon in particular is an optimal time for meditation and introspection, especially important for the next month as we forge through the eclipse energy.
With Venus combust at the beginning of this cycle (within 2° of the Sun), we might struggle within relationships. Under this placement, it is more difficult to feel that our desires are being met, and that we are feeling appreciated and valued by our loved ones. Venus’ proximity to Ketu may also bring up a lot of criticism around partnerships, and can challenge happiness in general.
Mars in Scorpio
With Mars moving into his own sign of Scorpio on the 16th, look for Mars’ influence to be stronger in your life this month. If he is a helpful planet in your chart, then your energy, courage, and discipline may grow more acute. If he is a challenging influence for you personally, however, be wary of getting into arguments and losing your cool.
Though we begin this lunar cycle under a kala sarpa yoga, with all planets on one side of the nodal axis (or joining it), we are nearing the end of these difficult alignments for a while. The Moon’s movement will break the cycle on January 18th, until January 30th, when we enter one last kala sarpa cycle through February 5th. At that time, Venus will leave Capricorn and enter Aquarius, making these cycles impossible until August. From February through August, there will be slightly more balance in the planetary energies. The kala sarpa cycle is a type of imbalance, wherein the clustering of the planets on one side of the sky tends to bring heavier and more turbulent experiences in general.
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