Each year, the full Moon in the Hindu month of Ashadha is dedicated to celebrating our gurus. This year’s Guru Purnima falls on the night of July 8th in North America and India, with the Moon reaching peak fullness at 9:07 pm PDT on Saturday. This year, Guru Purnima’s full Moon falls in Purvashada nakshatra (Vedic constellation), in the middle of sidereal Sagittarius, close to the galactic center. The Moon will be opposite the Sun in sidereal Gemini, where we began this lunar cycle.
The Sanskrit word guru is most commonly translated as “teacher.” It refers not only to the mighty spiritual teachers that are often associated with this word, but can indicate teachers in many fields of study or practice. One might have a spiritual guru, a yoga guru, an astrology guru, or even a knitting, cooking, or physics guru. “Gu” is often translated as darkness or ignorance while “ru” implies dispelling, disseminating, or removing. Guru as an adjective often implies grandeur or weight, frequently translated as “heavy,” which is a way that one might describe our most influential teachers. Students of jyotish will also recognize Guru as the name for Jupiter, who even the ancients knew as a large and profoundly influential planet. His influence in our lives is often in the realms of higher teachings and philosophy, and his position in someone’s natal chart can tell us about their path of learning and relationships with teachers. (For more rumination on the concept of guru in general, check out previous years’ articles.)
Each month, as the Moon waxes and wanes his way through the ecliptic, he undergoes 30 phases known as tithis in Vedic astrology. Although the transition is smooth, the tithis are delineated distinctly, and each one carries a certain supportive energy. The purnima phase, roughly a day long, is the fullest phase of the Moon, with the peak of fullness happening at the last moment of the phase (given as Full Moon time), before the light on the Moon begins to recede again as we enter the waning phase.
Purnima is generally thought of as the most auspicious phase of the month, and is positive for most activities, especially spiritual activities. There is a harmony of lunar and solar energy at this time. The Moon influences the ebb and flow of our watery emotions and our state of mind. We are most able to perceive this subtle body within when the outer Moon is fully illuminated. It is also a time where opposite poles within us (and in the external solar system), are both illuminated at the same time. Wherever the Full Moon occurs, it is on the exact opposite side of the zodiac from the Sun. On this Full Moon, the Sun is illuminating the Gemini part of the sky while the Moon’s light brightens Sagittarius for us. We are better able to integrate the two opposite poles within us when this occurs.
Sagittarius Full Moon
The Sagittarius section of the sky carries an energy of optimism and idealism, under Jupiter’s idealistic rulership. With the Moon here we are inspired to act on our beliefs, and share our purpose with the world. There is a great charitable nature here. Sagittarius is opposite from Gemini, where Sun and Moon began this lunar cycle, which is a place of much more practicality and impartiality, ruled by Mercury. On this full Moon we are able to see a better path towards balancing our flexible, curious, intellectual side (airy Gemini) with our passionate and idealistic side (firey Sagittarius).
The Vedic sky is divided into 27 sections or nakshatras, along the same band of the ecliptic as we see the twelve major zodiac signs. These smaller sections give us much more information about the energy coming from that part of the cosmos, and the mood that the planets will take on as they pass there. This Full Moon falls in Purva Ashadha nakshatra, known as “the invincible one.” There is a great deal of optimism and power here, so this could be a great time to face some fears and challenges that require confrontation. The water deity Apas presides here, strengthening our connection to the water element and our inner sensitivity.
As you tune into your own heart under the Guru Purnima full Moon, acknowledge the teachers and gurus who have and continued to support you along your journey. This is a particularly auspicious day for honoring them, upholding tradition, and even setting intentions for new paths of learning or teaching that you plan to follow.
Jupiter, Venus & Saturn
The Guru planet himself is in Hasta nakshatra at the moment, the sign of “the hand,” which adds even more expansion to our opportunities for learning and strengthening our skills. He is also aspecting Venus, who is now in Taurus, his own sign. Venus in Taurus (most of this month), elevates the artistry in our life, bringing more beauty and amplifying our connection with all sensual pleasures — nature, art, music, food, and our surroundings in general.
With this aspect it could be a good month to improve your material situation … but be aware that retrograde Saturn is also aspecting Venus now, having just transited back into sidereal Scorpio. While Jupiter’s aspect helps us to expand in Venusian endeavors, Saturn’s disciplinarian mood may bring up feelings of restriction. Take this as a lesson to broaden your vision and look at the long-term results of your decisions. Indulging in your pleasures now may require a bit of hard-work and commitment because of Saturn’s influence, but that is a reminder of the effort we will need to put forth over time to support our actions.
This Monday, April 10th brings the purnima full moon phase under a mass of retrograde planets. The Moon reaches peak fullness in sidereal Virgo at 11:08 pm PDT. In contrast to the sensitive and dreamy nature of Pisces that led us into this lunar cycle, the Virgo full moon illuminates for us some more grounded and practical ways of looking at the flood of emotions we have experienced lately.
Venus and Pisces
You probably remember my emphasis on Venus this Moon cycle, since the planet of desire and relationships has been having a heavy influence lately. Venus joined the Sun and Moon in Pisces at the start of this Moon cycle, setting the tone for (another) month of really focusing on relationships and how we go about achieving pleasure in this world. Venus has been transiting Pisces since late January, where he’s considered exalted.” This time frame has compelled us to realign our desire with the cosmic desire, taking a look at what our truest desires really are, and seeing how that relates to our most cherished values. Pisces is a place where we can learn to surrender into the divine flow, and also come into much deeper contact with our emotions. It’s also a sign that brings up the possibility of escapism, so if you have that tendency it’s a good time to watch out for it.
Since March 4th, Venus has been on his retrograde course. This semi-rare occurrence (happening once every 18 months), is a time where we seriously back up and reflect on our relationships as well as our pleasures. I have seen a LOT of people experiencing a degree of retreat in relationships as well, feeling more aversion to partners and feeling much more inwardly drawn. We seem to notice everything that’s wrong with the relationship, or the partner, or better yet in our own approach to human harmony. It can certainly feel a bit painful at times, but this is an opportunity for us to become more self-aware, and elevate the way that we approach and behave in our relationships.
What recent revelations have you had about your personal relationship style?
When you check in with yourself and allow yourself to feel your true desires, what do you find?
How do your desires relate with your highest values, philosophy, and beliefs?
Virgo Full Moon
This Virgo full moon is a great time to actually seek and find some tangible methods of implementing that elevated approach to pleasure. Virgo is an earth sign ruled by Mercury (the intellect), so this full moon guides us towards practical and implementable tools to improve our modes of relating, and reaching our desires. Jupiter joins the full moon here, so our belief structures and higher guidance is a strong support right now. We have the chance to take tools from our highest teachings and create daily practices and specific methods that take us towards our goals and desires.
What small daily practice can you add to your life that harmonizes both your desires and your beliefs?
What conscious plan of action can you implement, either on your own or with a partner, to better support your relationships?
This full moon falls within the section of Virgo known as Chitra, “the brilliant.” This is a very potent nakshatra (Vedic constellation) for taking the beauty that we perceive through Venus and birthing it into form in the world. The deity of this star is Vishvakarma, the celestial architect, who reminds us of the cosmic harmonic perfection that is truly an amalgam of beauty and order (think sacred geometry). This concept elicits the understanding that desire and beauty are not exclusive from sensibility and logic.
As your own architect, what steps can you take towards weaving more beauty and harmony into structured practices your life?
So Much Retrograde!
Though the full moon phase usually has us feeling a little bit more active and outward, this time around might really be better served with some personal retreat time. There is a lot to reflect on due to Venus retrograde alone, but on top of that, this purnima also finds Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Rahu and Ketu retrograde (the nodes always move in apparent retrograde direction). That’s six out of nine Vedic grahas appearing to move “backwards” through the zodiac. This mass of retrograde planets lasts through the week, from April 9th through the 15th.
This could mean that we will experience a major slowdown in almost all areas of life next week. Don’t worry, this just means that it’s a time to schedule some downtime and go inward. It’s not the best time to plan on starting new ventures or important milestones in life. In the area where I live, this week is spring break for a lot of the schools. A little vacation or retreat could definitely be appropriate right now, as things aren’t really moving forward anyway in terms of work, relationships, education, and communication. But be prepared for a few possible hiccups in travel logistics or scheduling of events.
On the following Friday, the 15th, Venus will turn direct. We will have hopefully found more clarity around our relationships and desires by then, and can begin to better implement our plan of action the between then and the end of May, as Venus continues his journey forward through Pisces.
Shani or Saturn is one of the planets whose retrograde motion recently began. He is the planet governing our commitments, perseverance, and work ethic, so with this motion we may be feeling ourselves slow down, and beginning to reconsider our long-term goals, particularly around career. This retrograde transit lasts from now through August 25th, during which time he will transit back into Scorpio (having only recently begun his journey through sidereal Sagittarius). This will give us the chance to take another last look at the commitments we were working through during his Scorpio transit over the last two years, which are very particular for each individual sign. (Email me for the free Saturn Retrograde in Scorpio e-book if you didn’t get it yet.)
Remember, above all, Saturn is here to teach us patience. With Mars in Aries while Saturn is slowing down, you might feel like a fireball wanting to speed ahead but frustrated at your ability to do so. This week’s mass of retrograde planets is giving you the opportunity to slow things down and turn inward for a minute, reflecting on what is really important.
Retrograde dates to remember:
Jupiter Retrograde: February 5th – June 9th
Venus Retrograde: March 4th – April 15th
Saturn Retrograde: April 5th – August 25th
Mercury Retrograde: April 9th – May 3rd
The purnima full moon phase this month also indicates Hanuman Jayanti, the celebration of the birth of Lord Hanuman. This Vedic deity represents the penultimate devotee, and shows us the immense strength that great faith, humility, and service can bring forth from within us. With all of this retrograde motion, and the powerful influence of the “Venus in Pisces” Moon cycle we are traversing, devotional practice is probably the best medicine. Chant, sing, meditate, and especially, find some ways to be of service, in order to honor Hanuman this Monday.
Emotional New Moon with Venus, and the Month Ahead
This Sunday to Monday brings in a dark Moon phase that leads into a new lunar cycle on March 27th (7:57 pm PDT). This powerful cycle will begin with the Sun, Moon, and a retrograde and exalted Venus in Uttara Bhadrapada, a Vedic nakshatra in the middle of sidereal Pisces. This cycle really helps us to navigate life through our feeling nature, coming into close contact with our emotions and desires. The effects of Venus’s motion have been tangible lately, and he will continue to have a strong influence over us in the month to come. This New Moon also leads us into the springtime Navaratri festival, a nine-night festival for celebrating the goddess energy.
Venus’s Powerful Position
Since I’ve been feeling it strongly myself, and have heard strong results from a lot of clients as well, I’ve been dying to ask… How has the exalted and retrograde Venus transit been treating you? The planet of pleasure and relationships moved into his sign of exaltation (Pisces) at the end of January, then took a backwards turn on March 4th and has been making his retrograde transit throughout the month.
His initial entry into Pisces may have made us feel extra romantic (about everything), and perhaps a little over-indulgent in pleasures of all sorts. Did you allow some last few binge-snacking sessions in the rainy season, before getting ready for that spring cleanse you’re planning? Let yourself fall hard for someone a little too quickly? Watch out for following this alignment too far into the depths of your fantasy, as it can also bring up our escapist tendencies.
There’s also a lot of potential growth within this alignment, as we have the opportunity to bring our pleasures and relationships into alignment with our values and highest beliefs. Maybe you dove into the nectarous ocean of devotion instead, one of the higher possibilities of Venus transiting the sign of surrender. It’s also a great time for becoming more aware of your feelings, and your greatest desires, as the planet ruling our happiness swims through the emotional waters of Pisces.
But amidst all this… Venus turned retrograde. While we were feeling so enthused and really enjoying getting carried away a bit by our pleasures, he slowed down, came to a stop, and started moving backwards (from our viewpoint here on earth). All of a sudden we can really see all the problems in our relationships, our indulgent tendencies, and other avenues we use to escape. People from the past may be popping up, and so are the unresolved karmic patterns we carry within us, things that just aren’t working for us in the way we relate with people and pleasure.
Please remember: there is actually a lot of grace here! We can’t move forward towards love, partnership, or other desires without learning to align with and surrender to our hearts and higher power. What is your heart’s deepest desire? You may be able to connect with it while Venus is in Pisces. Jupiter (“Guru”) is the ruler of Pisces, and is shining his bright light onto Venus from sidereal Virgo, directly opposite. The potential for wisdom is here.
Many people are feeling some degree of “retreat” in their relationships, and that’s okay as well. When Venus is retrograde, his power is turned inward. We’re looking inward at the source of our desires, rather than outward for objects of them. It’s okay to take some time to yourself right now. In fact, it might be a really healthy choice if you’re going to use that space constructively to do work on yourself. Self-reflect, self-inquire, feel your feelings, and honor the divine power within you.
The Vedic nakshatra where this New Moon begins with Venus also offers incredible power towards this end. Uttara Bhadrapada is represented by the back half of a bed or a funeral pyre, signifying the potential for us to completely let go and surrender to the divine unknown (ultimately, death). It’s also ruled by the deity called Ahirbudhnya, the celestial serpent. He brings us into closer contact with our deepest emotions and the hidden Kundalini energy. We experienced powerful transformative eclipses aligned with this nakshatra in March and September of 2015, so this may be bringing up some familiar themes from those times.
I’ve noticed that this is an especially potent time for those with natal Venus in Virgo. With natal Venus in Virgo, one’s regular style of approaching happiness and relationships is rather practical and analytical. With Venus transiting Pisces and Uttara Bhadrapada, we are better able to tap into our watery nature, our feelings, and follow those as a pathway to our desires, rather than attempt to follow only rational thinking.
Saturn, Mars, and Mercury
Since Saturn peeked his head into Sagittarius and Moola nakshatra in the end of January, he’s also been compelling us to go deep, and look at what pressures drive us most strongly. We’re examining the source of what makes us want to stand up, work hard, and make commitments. In particular we’re looking what values inform our long-term decision-making process. Saturn’s motion is already slowing down, however, and in the first week of April he’ll be coming to a full stop and beginning retrograde motion on April 5th. This begins a 5-month period of slowing down and internally examining how and why we approach hard work and commitment.
Mars is currently strong in his own sign of Aries, but this can lead to more heated arguments as we try to improve our relationships dynamics — especially with Mercury, the planet of communication, now joining Mars there. With Mercury in Aries we can easily get feisty in conversation, and can tend to jump to quick conclusions in general. With Mars in Bharani nakshatra, however, our actions can assist in the rebirthing process we may be experiencing.
A Heads up for April
The middle of April is a particularly great time to take things slow and schedule in some time for yourself. Between April 9th and 15th, we will have four planets retrograde — Jupiter, Venus, Saturn and Mercury (retrograde from April 9th through May 3rd). During this time a lot in your life may feel like it’s really slowing down, going backwards, or just not moving forward in the way you want it to. We’ll be rethinking or second-guessing our values, teachings, relationships, work, commitments, and plans. This is a time for inner reflection! Consider scheduling yourself some down time or even a retreat during this week, and avoid planning to start any new ventures.
Later in the month there is a great day coming for new beginnings, on Akshaya Tritiya which falls on April 28th. On this third day of the waxing Moon, both the Sun and the Moon will be in their signs of exaltation — Aries and Taurus, respectively. This is known as the day of “never diminishing,” and any investments or ventures made on this day are likely to lead to successful returns. We’ll still have three planets retrograde, but Venus will have turned direct on the 15th, so we’ll be starting to move forward again with more clarity on how to achieve happiness and harmony.
Sign up for a personal coaching session looking at your Vedic chart to learn about your unique relationship with the planets and how the current alignments are affecting you.
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Sunday begins the New Moon cycle and brings with it a powerful eclipse whose alignment offers some deep healing opportunities. The annular solar eclipse will be visible from much of Africa, South America, and Antarctica, and will coincide with the exact time of the darkest Moon phase at 6:58 a.m PST (14:58 UTC) on Sunday, February 26th. This eclipse occurs with the Sun, Moon, Mercury, and Ketu all in sidereal Aquarius within the Vedic nakshatra of Shatabisha.
Aquarius is a sign ruled by Saturn, and it is where we remember something greater than ourselves. It is where we become inspired towards universal service, and to offering effort into society and for the greater good. Saturn, the planet of pressure and time, is aspecting the planets of this eclipse from his recent seat in sidereal Sagittarius, compelling us even more deeply to stand up for our principles and beliefs, and commit ourselves to these through hard work.
Shatabisha is the Vedic nakshatra that most elicits the concept of healing. It is the star of the “100 physicians” or the “100 medicines,” and is ruled by Varuna, the deity of the cosmic waters. With many planets under the influence of this star, we are strongly called towards our journey of self-healing, trying many different medicines and healing techniques to get there. Having Ketu here, eclipsing the Sun and the Moon, presents the opportunity to go deeply into our subconscious blockages and find release from past karma and trauma.
The Greater Eclipse Cycle
This is the third solar eclipse that has occurred since Rahu and Ketu transited into the Leo-Aquarius axis in January of 2016 (download the Free E-Book and Forecast by Sign for this transit if you haven’t yet!). Throughout this time, we have experienced shadows and blockages coming up around the themes of the Leo-Aquarius axis. On a broad scale, this relates to the balance of personal power and universal service that we play out through society. On an individual level, it has raised questions around the house-themes of Leo and Aquarius in the personal Vedic birth chart.
We have been uncovering layers of our own karma through this time, and discovering where change is needed in our lives–either through a change in our actions or a change in our thoughts. Our personal challenges become most apparent during the eclipse windows, which have occurred this month, as well as during August and March of 2016. Though these windows can be difficult times, the power of the lunar nodes helps us to see where we are stuck. With self-awareness and observation it becomes less difficult, but when we are not paying attention or are clinging to our own attachments, the eclipses can feel like they are wreaking havoc on our lives.
Since this is the third and final pair of eclipses during this transit of Rahu and Ketu, it is a time for really reaching some clarity around the lessons being brought up over the last year-and-a-half. Eclipses do cause confusion and are inauspicious in general, but as we do the work of self-inquiry and practice astute awareness, we can gain insight and more light after going into the darkness of their shadows. The healing power behind Shatabisha nakshatra may present us with some different medicines, or practices, to assist in our evolutionary process, assisting us in learning how to flow better with the cosmic waters.
In addition to the healing energy of this nakshatra, we are receiving the powerful gift of deep meditation offered by the Shivaratri holiday. Maha Shivaratri (or Sivaratri) is “the great night of Lord Shiva,” celebrated in India and around the world each year on the 14th night of the waning Moon this month. This year it falls on the night of Friday, February 24th into Saturday the 25th, around the world (except for mid-Australia/Japan and Eastward, where it falls on the 25th/26th).
On Shivaratri, it is a common practice to stay up the whole night in meditation, fasting and praying. This commemorates the sacrifice made by Lord Shiva when he kept the poison that arose from the milk ocean in his throat in order to protect the entire creation. In this story, his wife Parvati held his throat to keep him from consuming the poison, and thus this holiday also commemorates the union of masculine and feminine forces, Shakti and Shiva, yin and yang. In many places this is represented by a celebration of Shiva and Parvati’s wedding, and one may see large statues of the two paraded about town and worshiped.
Shiva and Parvati represent the path towards awakening consciousness through the ascetic side of yoga, and the practices of tapas and renunciation. By renouncing food and sleep for one night, particularly on the night of Shivaratri, we can gain some of the benefit of the austerities that these two performed for aeons. Tapas, or austerities, are yogic practices of undergoing difficult situations in order to gain more patience, as well as deeper understanding that we are in fact the eternal soul and not the body-mind with which we normally identify.
On this Shivaratri, as we approach the transformative energy of the eclipse in Shatabisha, the opportunity for overcoming the challenges and shadows of our minds is great. The power of group meditation occurring all over the world also contributes to this. With the energy of Aquarius behind us, let us offer the fruits of our practice towards the peace and happiness of all beings on earth, and spread the benefit for the greater good.
Mantras for Maha Shivaratri:
Om Namah Shivaya (the panchakshari mantra – “I bow down to infinite consciousness”)
Tyagenaike Amrtatvamanashuhu (by renunciation alone, immortality is gained)
Transformation Portal: Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse Friday
The Full Moon in sidereal Cancer on Friday brings with it a penumbral lunar eclipse (February 10/11) that will be visible from most places on earth, except for Australia and the south Pacific. The Moon reaches maximum fullness at 4:33 p.m. PST, with the eclipse peaking at 4:43. This eclipse is part of a longer series of eclipses that we’ve been experiencing for the last year. Rahu and Ketu, the lunar nodes, have been transiting the Leo-Aquarius axis through this time, bringing pairs of lunar/solar eclipses last March and September, and this month. Download my Free E-Book about this eclipse series if you haven’t yet!
The nodes on the Leo-Aquarius axis raise questions about personal power versus universal service. Last year through the US election cycle we saw an intense play for personal power on the large scale, with extremist viewpoints (Rahu) rising into the place of authority (Leo). With Ketu’s shadow energy casting doubt in the sign of Aquarius, ideas of oneness and service to society at large have faced heavy criticism. On a personal level, we experience the controversy of this duality in our own lives, and question where and how we seek power and offer service.
Last year, Rahu’s lust for power in Leo was highly dogmatized due to Jupiter’s conjunction with him there (through September). This brought beliefs and values under the influence of the radical, obsessive and insecure shadow planet. In August Jupiter moved on into Virgo, however, putting our values and attention under a slightly more practical perspective. Most recently, on February 5th, Jupiter’s motion turned retrograde, which gives us the opportunity to back up and rethink some of the ways that we approach our beliefs and apply them in our lives. We may be second-guessing our relationships with our teachers at this time, or considering going back to school for some more education.
Saturn also made a major transit recently, moving into sidereal Sagittarius in the end of January. This puts the planet of commitment in the sign of inspired action, and will compel us to persevere and stand up for what we believe in. This transit will span the next three years, save for a brief period later this year when Saturn’s retrograde motion takes him back into Scorpio. The influence of Saturn in our personal lives during this time can be immense (this begins Saturn’s return and/or Sade Sati for many). He will bring pressure as he helps us figure out how to really stand behind and take action for our beliefs, particularly in the area indicated by Sagittarius in your chart.
This Full Moon falls in the end of the water sign of Cancer, adding a heavy emotional component to our experience this month. The eclipse energy here can help us to see some of our deepest shadows, particularly in how we handle ourselves emotionally. Cancer is the Moon’s own sign, and the capacity for receptivity here is great. We may feel our hearts wide open during this Full Moon, but with this also comes a sensitivity and vulnerability that can throw us off balance under the shadow influence of the eclipse.
In particular, the Moon will be in the Vedic constellation (nakshatra) of Ashlesha, the sign of the water serpent. This nakshatra has to do with deeply coiled energies and hidden potential (kundalini specifically). It is ruled by the Nagas, the serpents of wisdom. There is a potential for great awakening as the Moon is eclipsed in this sign. We momentarily feel cut off from the light of emotional intelligence during a lunar eclipse, and are forced to become aware of the dark shadows that obscure peace in our hearts. Bringing awareness to these can help us to break free from them, uncoiling our own inner mess and helping us blossom into wisdom.
Connecting with the heart and the water element is important during this Full Moon. What’s more, Venus is currently exalted, having moved into Pisces at the end of January. He will transit here for the next four months, giving us the potential to elevate our relationships and the ways we pursue our desires. In Pisces, Venus is under Jupiter’s rule, which can inspire the planet of pleasure to get in line with our values. It’s also another water sign, the last of the 12 major signs, and a place that compels us to surrender to the divine flow. With Saturn pushing our commitment onto our principles, from Sagittarius, and Jupiter helping us with the earthly details, from Virgo, this all adds up to a huge growth opportunity around this eclipse.
The solar eclipse of this eclipse-pair will come on February 26th. Eclipses come in pairs, and we feel the intense energy of the cycle from a few weeks before the first until soon after the second. This is the third pair of eclipses in the larger cycle, since last January when Rahu and Ketu moved into Leo and Aquarius. During the next pair of eclipses, in August, they will be right on the cusp of Cancer and Capricorn. Between now and then we will really finalize implementing the lessons and changes brought up throughout their Leo-Aquarius transit, and we will begin exploring our shadows along the Cancer-Capricorn axis.
To help you make sense of these major astrological events, I am offering individual readings to look at Saturn, Venus, and the Eclipses, or you can request a 2017 Reading to talk about the effects of all three.
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