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.
Personal life course and 2018 readings are available by phone or Skype.
New Moon in Sagittarius in Mula Nakshatra
This Sunday, December 17th, we begin a new lunar cycle at 10:31 pm PST with the Sun, Moon, and Saturn aligning in early sidereal Sagittarius. This Sagittarius cycle will lead us into the new year, with the Moon reaching fullness on January 1st. The Sun and the Moon will come together at 2° of sidereal Sagittarius, aligned closely with Saturn at 5° and oriented towards the galactic center, and Mula nakshatra.
Sagittarius carries the energy of its ruling planet, Jupiter into action. It is a fire sign, and a masculine, or yang, sign, both qualities that help us to transform our inspiration, ideas, and beliefs into real actions in the world. Whatever principles, philosophies, or beliefs you hold, this month is a time to propel them forward and spread your inspiration to others. Jupiter is also joining with Mars at this time, adding a potency of power to our ability to move with righteous purpose.
Of course, a caveat to this is to watch against acting with blind faith, but to really dive into yourself and let your authentic personal faith shine through. Sun’s and Moon’s position in Mula nakshatra, and close to Saturn, will help with this.
Mula (or Moola) nakshatra is the Vedic constellation which translates as “the root.” As the literal center of the galaxy (when we look past Mula, we are looking into the galactic center), planetary energy here compels us to find the deepest truth within ourselves, our beliefs, and everything. Planets here encourage us to be investigators, researching and probing until the deepest layers of truth are revealed. Though technically in the early degrees of Sagittarius, Mula aligns with the tail of the Scorpion, and brings up imagery of both poison and medicine, and the idea that poison can be medicine as it shocks us into transformation. The deity for this star is Nirritti, a dark form of Goddess Kali who relates to destruction and death.
As the Sun goes down on the night of the solstice (December 21st), we experience a little death, as the solar year ends and we await the new one to arise. This completes the cycle of the Sun from its northernmost course to its southernmost, and will be the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, and the longest in the southern. This is a powerful night for going inward, being still, and practicing rituals for letting go of the past and what no longer serves.
Saturn’s conjunction with Sun and Moon adds a level of seriousness and fortitude to this powerful transitional cycle. Saturn, or Lord Shani, is the slowest-moving planet, and stimulates us to find more maturity and wisdom. He adds a weight of seriousness that reminds us that actions have consequences, and helps us to call forth our inner old wise person. We want this inner sage to weigh in as we probe our depths to see which our beliefs are worth supporting through effort and actions as we enter the new year.
We enter our final lunar cycle of the year under a Kala Saarpa yoga, with all planets on one side of the nodal Rahu-Ketu axis in the sky. This increases the level of intensity in everything in our lives, especially around deep inner work that we are doing. Though we may not be comfortable with letting go of our accustomed mindset, the alignment of the planets now is primed for some big changes to take place, especially around philosophy, beliefs and ideas.
The final Kala Saarpa for this season will run from January 2nd through January 19th, after which time the Sun will have passed Ketu, and we’ll have another 6 months free from this bi-monthly cycle. These cycles will continue for roughly half the month during roughly half the year, until December 2019.
Planetary Wars & Upcoming Eclipses
With so many planets so close together, we continue to have planetary wars this month as a number of planets cross within one degree of each other. Venus and Saturn come head to head from December 24th through 27th, bringing up some possible conflict between relationships and work, short-term desires and long-term goals. Mercury goes direct on December 23rd. January 4th through 8th, Jupiter and Mars engage in a planetary war, during which our animal instincts may seem to feel in conflict with our mentally held belief system.
The conflict among these planets will take form specifically in your life around the specific things each planet rules in your individual natal chart. We’ll also be entering a new eclipse cycle in January, with eclipses occurring in parts of the world on January 31st and February 15th (free forecast download at somyadevi.com if you haven’t received it yet!).
Be sure to stay on the list and watch for a new years’ cheat sheet with important dates for 2018!
Many blessings as we head into the New Year.
In this Kali Yuga, it almost always feels like we could use a little more light in the world, but especially around this time of year when the days are getting shorter and darker (northern hemisphere bias). The last few months seem to have piled on more natural disasters than usual, although sometimes it feels like this may be becoming the norm. This New Moon brings the Hindu festival of Diwali, which is a celebratory time to invite more light into our lives and into the world.
The darkest Moon time, which begins our next lunar cycle, occurs at 12:12 pm PDT this Thursday, October 19th. The new cycle begins with Sun and Moon joined in sidereal Libra, with Mercury and Jupiter there as well. Libra is a sign about creating more balance (which presents a bit of a challenge with the imbalanced appearance of the chart for this New Moon). It falls in the Vedic nakshatra of Chitra, a star-sign that enhances our opportunity to bring beauty and harmony in the world.
Libra is an air sign where we bring the principles of Venus into active expression. Venus is the planet of beauty, desire, nature, and human love, so the Libra cycle will encourage us to be more creative, connect with nature, and nurture our relationships. As an air sign (a bit intellectual, and inspiring movement), we will seek ways to balance or re-balance relationships throughout this cycle. Both Jupiter and Mercury are also positioned in Libra, close to the Sun and Moon at this time, which adds the influences of our higher beliefs as well as our analytical minds to our creative endeavors this month.
Venus itself, the ruler of Libra, is currently transiting Virgo, his sign of debilitation. Debilitated Venus doesn’t necessarily translate as “relationships will be bad,” but it adds a highly intellectual, analytical, and practical motivation to the planet of pleasure and beauty. This is the opposite position to exalted Venus in Pisces, which we experienced for four months earlier this year (February through May), when we felt inspired to align our desires and relationships with our highest beliefs, principles, and purpose. Now, with Venus in Virgo, we are prompted to scrutinize all the little details of our relationships and pleasurable pursuits, and make sure that they are serving some practical need for us on the earth plane. We may also be scrutinizing our partners, or others around us, and getting caught up around the nuances of language or ideas. With Venus ruling this upcoming lunar cycle, and Mercury joining closely to the Sun and Moon at its start, desire for practicality will be strong this month.
The Vedic nakshatra where this lunar cycle begins is Chitra, “the brilliant.” This bright star in Virgo (Chitra bridges Virgo and Libra) is ruled by Vishvakarma, the deity known as the celestial architect. Imagine that energy of one who has the ability to place all the stars in the sky and set them in perfect motion … that type of both precise and artistic energy is what we are able to call in this month. There is a powerful creative potency here, and a great potential for improving relationships. It is also an supportive energy for organizing, repairing, or redesigning your home space.
On the new Moon of the Hindu month of Ashwin (this month), we celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. The festival actually began on Monday, the 16th (North America), the 13th waning Moon phase of the previous cycle. This day is known as Dhanteras, or Dhanvantari Tryodashi. Buying gold or silver (or any metals) on Dhanteras is widely practiced in Hindu culture. It is also the celebration of the appearance of Lord Dhanvantari, the father of Ayurvedic medicine. This day, and Diwali in general, is an excellent time for nurturing and calling in blessings for any type of healing or healing practice.
Diwali is a time to invite more light into our lives, our hearts, and our world. This festival celebrates the victory of light over darkness, which is something to rejoice in and have faith in, even if we can’t outwardly observe it sometimes. The positive vibrations we create internally are the only place to start for growing and spreading them externally. It is a powerful time to connect to the Goddess Lakshmi, calling in her blessings for both material and spiritual prosperity.
This holiday also commemorates Lord Ram’s and Sita’s return from exile after fourteen years (story from the Ramayana). Lord Ram embodies the highest qualities of dharma, devotion, compassion, courage, and leadership. Diwali is also the start of a new lunar cycle, so it’s a great time to go within and summon these qualities to awaken and live through you.
Diwali (also seen as Divali, Deepawali or Deepavali) comes from the sanskrit words deepa (light) and avali (row). It is traditional to light candles throughout Diwali, inviting the highest light into our homes and hearts … but in consideration of the destructive wildfires raging in California right now, I’m using electronic tea lights this year.
The candles are lit to remind us of the inner divine light in us all. Though one flame can be used to light many others, it is not diminished by sharing its power of illumination. We can pray for the peace and happiness of all beings, and each one’s awareness of their inner light.
Sun in Libra
It is pertinent to remember and to celebrate and call forth our inner light during this particular Dark Moon time, because the Sun, the planet of our inner power, strength, and divine light, is also in his sign of “debilitation,” in Libra.
Since Libra is the sign of balance and relationships, we often give a lot of our personal power to our relationships with others when Sun is in Libra. We may try too hard to care for others, forgetting to nourish the divine spark in ourselves, or we may simply feel depleted by trying to balance too much in life, losing touch with our personal strength and vitality.
At the beginning of this cycle, set an intention for a mindful self-care routine this month. Light some candles (or turn them on) for Diwali on the Dark Moon night, and if possible, take some time each day to offer yourself some time to nourish and honor your personal light. Self-care practices can include yoga, meditation, chanting, art, or self-abhyangha (oil massage). You can also make some herbal tea to nourish yourself during this vata (cold and dry) season.
The imbalance of the chart that I was talking about is referring to the ongoing Kala Saarpa yoga we see, wherein all seven physical planets are on one side of the nodal Rahu-Ketu axis. With these planets to one side of the nodes, the subconscious shadow energy (similar to eclipse energy) becomes more present, and a lot of unresolved business may arise. There is more agitation of the environment in general. This chart is particularly imbalanced, with the Sun, Moon, Jupiter and Mercury halfway between the nodes, and the other planets joining them on either side. As we enter this darker time of year, it is especially important to keep up our consciousness development and self-improvement practices, so as not to be ruled by the unconscious forces within.
Diwali is a potent opportunity to set this conscious intention, and to call forth more light and love into our hearts, and then to spread it out into the world! With so much trauma and disaster occurring all over the planet, our light, love, and service are needed now more than ever. No matter how small a part we can play, let us do what we can to increase harmony on and with the planet.
You can click here to discover your specific strengths and challenges through a personal Vedic astrology chart reading with me.