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.
Saturn is transiting back into sidereal Scorpio tomorrow, June 22nd. The coming months will be Saturn’s last visit to Scorpio for the next 27 years. The last three years, during his transit here, have been a pivotal junction for many, and have helped us to orient ourselves towards new goals and commitments. We are now more clear where we are willing to put our effort, which parts of our life deserve our perseverance, and where we are willing to face the fear, pressures, and challenges that come along the path. We have particularly resolved to take responsibility for our own internal development, as Saturn in Scorpio compelled us to face our deepest emotional vulnerability.
Saturn (Lord Shani) has been doing his dance around the edges of Scorpio and Sagittarius throughout this year. He first entered sidereal Sagittarius on January 26th. He slowed to a stop and began retrograde motion on April 5th. For some time now, he has been at the cusp of these two signs, which is known as a gandanta zone — a knot — representing a place in the zodiac that brings up a lot of our most tightly-wound karma and inner struggles. As the planet of career, commitment, pressure, and maturity, Saturn’s visit to this part of the sky causes us to look at some of our most resistant blockages around these concepts.
On June 22nd Shani officially crosses from Sagittarius back into Scorpio, but we will continue to feel the pressure of his gandanta position for a few more weeks. Astrologers calculate the breadth of the gandanta zone differently; some would say that Saturn’s gandanta transit is lasting for roughly the month of June, while others would mark it as lasting from May through November of this year.
Shani will continue his retrograde motion until August 25th, when he’ll turn direct and continue through Scorpio until late October. The retrograde motion of Saturn in general helps us to slow down and become more introspective about our commitments, our long-term goals, and how we handle pressure and hard work. It also helps us to look at some of our deeper fears, and areas where we hold back because of an innate inner feeling of restriction.
As Saturn passes through Scorpio, we are re-evaluating our goals most specifically in the areas of life indicated by Scorpio’s house in our natal chart. This retrograde trip through Scorpio lasts from now through October, and is the last portion of Saturn’s 3-year transit here, during which time we adjusted our goals and commitments in one particular area of life.*
Those with natal Saturn in Scorpio are just finishing their Saturn’s return, while those with natal Saturn in Sagittarius have just begun it. Those with natal Moon in Libra are just finishing the Sade Sati period (7.5 year influence of Saturn), while those with natal Moon in Capricorn have just begun. Those with natal Moon in Scorpio or Sagittarius are well into the middle of Sade Sati.
Now is a good time to reflect on the work you’ve been doing over the last three years, in terms of your work and your commitments, particularly in the “house” marked by Scorpio in your natal chart. Saturn’s transit of Scorpio has forced us to step up and face our fears, especially in regards to our internal transformation. He has helped us to commit to our own self-development and become more gracious in accepting the challenging work of acknowledging our own inner vulnerability. During the next few months, reflects on the lessons you have been learning along this line, and take one last chance to affirm your commitment to developing strength from within your sensitive internal waters.
*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!
The full Moon occurs in sidereal Gemini tonight! The exact full Moon time is 6:34 am EST on January 12th. This full Moon falls in the Vedic nakshatra of Punarvasu, a constellation of renewal. Meaning “good again,” or “more light,” this is a great nakshatra to connect with as we begin the new year. This star-sign comes after the stormy and turbulent nakshatra of Ardra, and represents the calm after the storm. Many people experienced 2016 as especially turbulent (and many astrological alignments contributed to that!). Now is is an excellent time to be reminded of the rebirth that can come after chaotic times.
Punarvasu can be identified in sidereal Gemini, around the stars Castor and Pollux. The preceding constellation, Ardra, is ruled by Rudra, a fierce form of Shiva. He reminds us of the destructive powers of nature, and challenges us to find peace and consciousness amidst turmoil. Punarvasu comes after Ardra, and signifies the return of light. During this time of year we begin to feel the light of the Sun returning after the December solstice, as the seasons begin to wax in the northern hemisphere. The deity for this nakshatra is Aditi, a fertile mother-goddess. After the rains, the ground becomes moist, lush and ready for new life to begin its journey upward.
What have the intense rains of winter watered in your life? What has been destroyed by them, creating space for something new to be planted? Where have you nourished the grounds thus far, and what do you desire to grow this year? Now is a time to rise up and connect with your intentions, offering your vision forward and finding the light after the wreckage. The Gemini full Moon offers a fresh start. This is fitting as it coincides with the start of the New Year, and also with Makara Sankranti (January 14th), a Hindu holiday celebrating the return of the light when the Sun enters sidereal Capricorn.
Both Gemini and Punarvasu are strongly dual in nature, enabling us to see both sides of a situation. In Western lore, the twins, Castor and Pollux are found here. In Vedic mythology, Gemini is called Mithuna, “the pair.” The two figures were seen in Vedic times as a male and a female, representing the yin and yang aspects of existence, and the dance between the two.
Gemini reminds us to be open, curious, and playful. The full Moon here offers a contrast to the strongly opinionated and purposeful energy of Sagittarius, where we began this cycle. Under a Sagittarian influence, we move and act closely in alignment with our beliefs. This can sometimes lead us in the right direction, but sometimes can lead us into dogmatism or over-zealousness. Gemini reminds us to remain flexible, and allows us to change directions if we want. The light of the full Moon here illuminates the amenable and resilient side of ourselves, and aids us in going with the flow and adapting to life’s circumstance. This lunar cycle teaches us to move with purpose, while at the same time reminds us of the need to stay open.
The energy of this month may be very tough on relationships, as we’ve had Venus, Mars, and Ketu joining together in Aquarius for the last couple of weeks. All three remain here for another week more to come, and Venus and Ketu stay joined through the 27th. Ketu with Venus brings up doubts and shadows around relationships, while Mars adds a level of passion and intensity that can result in arguing or fighting. Ketu also has the potential to break things and set us free from the past. If you’ve been trying to move forward from something or someone, this could be the time. If you’re trying to hold something together, be aware of the added challenge that is coming from this alignment. With these planets in Aquarius, work on aligning your relationships, pursuit of happiness, and actions with your highest goals. Service to society or a greater cause will help you to work with these energies now.
We’re nearing another eclipse cycle, with the nodes eclipsing the Moon and Sun (partially) on February 10th and 26th. This is the last full eclipse cycle with the nodes on the Leo-Aquarius axis. If you never read the report for your sign about this, download the free e-book now. The coming eclipse cycle is a final time to get a really good glimpse of our shadows around power and service, and particularly in relation to the house-axis aligned with Leo and Aquarius in your Vedic chart. If there are lessons you’ve been trying to ignore for the past year, don’t pass up this opportunity to pay attention to them and make some changes in your life, whether internal or external.
At the end of the month, on January 26th, Saturn will enter Sagittarius for the first time, after a 2.5-year transit through Scorpio. This will bring big changes in where and how we approach our long-term goals, and where we feel acute pressures in life. Then on the 27th, Venus will transit into Pisces, where he’ll remain exalted for four full months, including a 6-week period in retrograde motion. This has major impact potential for relationships and how we approach happiness in general. Stay updated to get the upcoming forecasts for your sign on both of these major transits!
On Monday night the Moon and Sun will coincide in the heart of the scorpion, leading us into a New Moon in Scorpio in the early morning. The exact conjunction will be at 4:18 am PST on the morning of November 29th. The dark Moon night is always a time to go inward, and this new Moon in particular offers the chance to go really deep. Not only are the Moon and Sun coinciding in Scorpio, a sign of depth and intensity, but they are right in the middle of a kala sarpa yoga between Rahu and Ketu.
At this new Moon time, Rahu and Ketu fall at 13° of sidereal Leo and Aquarius, respectively, and Sun and Moon at 13° of Scorpio, exactly in between. A kala sarpa yoga is formed when all of the planets are on one side of the Rahu-Ketu axis, with none in the planets on the other side (see picture). This refers to the seven major planets recognized in Vedic astrology–Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn.
Kala Sarpa can be translated as either the “black snake” or the “serpent of time.” As you can imagine, whenever this alignment occurs we experience some intense or dark energy at large. One of the best words to describe the kala sarpa circumstance is heavy. The nodes, also called the shadow planets, relate to some of our deepest subconscious drives and karma. When the other planets fall on one side of their axis, a lot of the subconscious buildup can surface all of a sudden and we can feel overwhelmed with the amount that life is putting on our plate. It can also appear as the actual occurrence of intense karmic events. If we stay dedicated in practice, meditation, and focus, however, we can find clearer vision and discrimination on how we can use these circumstances for our growth.
We’ve experienced the kala sarpa yoga many times in the last year. When this alignment occurs, it lasts for two weeks at a time, from when the Moon passes Rahu until it passes Ketu, after passing all the other planets in between. This incidence will end in about a week, and then two weeks later we’ll begin the last kala sarpa cycle until late next year. Between now and then there will always be some planets on both sides of the Rahu-Ketu axis. In the late part of 2017, they will all pass Rahu and it will begin again, for two weeks at a time over a few months.
There’s even more pressure surfacing to begin this lunar cycle, because Saturn is also situated in Scorpio, joining the new Moon. It is said that when Saturn visits you, he sits on your head, like a great weight. Adding his weight to this new Moon in Scorpio, we can expect to feel some heaviness and pressure through this lunar cycle, particularly when it comes to our own inner emotions and transformational power. Saturn’s goal is to teach us how to slow down, be patient, make commitments, and persevere through hard work to reach our desired long-term goals. When we apply his energy this way in Scorpio, we can make great strides in spiritual and emotional development.
Scorpio is a feminine water sign, which brings up our inner emotions, and is ruled by Mars, the warrior planet. It is here that we face our deepest emotions and become aware of our vulnerable nature. We face the fears that are hidden deep within, and the temporary nature of all we hold dear. I think of Scorpio as the sign of the spiritual warrior, because once we become aware of these things, we can turn on Mars’ strength and courage in order to defeat these inner challenges.
Following the new Moon in Scorpio, it will be a month to get in touch with your inner warrior. Allow the passion and the tears, and use them to fortify yourself. It’s time to call upon the courage to look at our own dark sides. See the shadows in your mind that are holding you up–your fears–and strike your warrior’s sword against them.
The nakshatra (Vedic constellation) where this New Moon falls is Anuradha. Anuradha makes up the middle of Scorpio, including the bright star Antares, called the heart of the scorpion. Anuradha is an incredibly devotional nakshatra. It translates as “after Radha,” Krishna’s greatest devotee. Radha is widely recognized as the paramount example of devotion, so the one who chases after her surely wishes to embody and demonstrate devotion. Saturn’s association with Anuradha will help us to persevere in our quest to strengthen ourselves and our emotions.
Despite the difficulty that often accompanies Scorpio, the natural eighth sign, Anuradha is a place where great blossoming is possible. It is thus associated with the symbol of the lotus, whose pure beauty springs from the depths of mud and muck. The ruling deity of Anuradha is Mitra, a god of light and friendship. This reminds us that collaboration can be useful (sometimes even necessary), despite the fiercely introverted quality that the Moon in Scorpio compels. Through devotion and effort, as well as cooperation, the lunar cycle beginning around this star can lead to great successes.
This cycle offers awesome potential for growth and achievement, especially in the realm of overcoming inner fears and strengthening our emotions. An awareness of our fragility may be surfacing acutely, but the warrior spirit of Mars and the committed potential of Saturn offer tools to forge through the fears and move closer towards our goals. Mars and Saturn are considered malefic planets, but they are actually the ones who present challenges and opportunities that will make us stronger and wiser. Take some time to sit quietly on this dark Moon night, looking inward to see where you can wield your warrior’s sword and pressure yourself aptly, in order to transform and allow your inner lotus to blossom.
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Be careful not to become scattered this New Moon in Swati, on the dark night of Saturday, October 29th (*Times given for North America).
The Sun and Moon will coincide in this Vedic star-sign ruled by Vayu, the Lord of Wind, to kick off the next lunar cycle. The exact conjunction will be Sunday morning (at 10:38 a.m. PDT), with the darkest Moon phase on Saturday night. It will also coincide with a Venus-Saturn planetary war (exact conjunction), so we may feel a conflict between temporary pleasures and long-term goals (October 28-30). Thankfully, this dark Moon night also marks the time for celebrating Diwali (or Deepawali), the festival of light, wherein we celebrate prosperity and light prevailing over darkness! So it’s a great time to shine some light and turn our minds and hearts toward devotional practice.
There are a few factors creating the potential to feel scattered at this time, but there’s also a great opportunity to ground ourselves and steady our minds through focus and worship. In addition to Vayu’s influence, we in the Northern Hemisphere have been experiencing the cold winds increasing in the external atmosphere. As we go deeper into autumn, the vata dosha (comprised of air and ether elements) is increasing all around us. With the leaves falling and the weather changing, the process of decrease and sparsity in nature becomes evident. This results in an increase of vata energy, which can cause us to feel restless, anxious, spacey, dry, or depleted. It is extra important to do grounding and nourishing practices during this season, and to eat warm, moist, and heavier foods.***
What’s more, this lunar cycle begins with the Sun and Moon in Libra, where Sun is considered debilitated (not able to express strongly). Sun represents our vitality, energy, physical strength, and also our feeling of spiritual strength and connection with universal source. Not surprisingly, the time of year when he becomes “debilitated,” passing through Libra, is the same time we experience increased vata in the atmosphere and lessened immunity in our systems. It’s the time when we are most likely to catch a cold and begin to feel “spread thin” or “dried out.” While the Sun is in Libra, self-care is extra important. Take some time on this New Moon night to set intentions for how you will care for yourself during the coming cycle.
Another reason Sun is considered debilitated in Libra is because Libra is a sign that is very much about relationships. Sun represents our individual strength, so with Sun in Libra, we are more likely to put more of our attention on others, and on relationships, than towards our own physical health. We may be relating to our own personal power through our relationships during this time, rather than approaching it as individuals. While you are offering your love and compassion to others, don’t forget to nourish the divine within yourself as well, or you may end up feeling depleted. It is also easy to become drained when we try too hard to balance everything, another temptation of Sun in Libra.
Thankfully, the divine universe always seems to offer just the right opportunities for solving the same challenges it presents. We just need to be willing to do the work on ourselves. This new Moon is in the part of Libra known as Swati, “the independent one,” which reminds us of our independent nature, despite the strong emphasis we may be putting on relationships at the moment. This star-sign helps remind us to look for our own inherent power, shining forth like the inner Sun.
Vayu, the wind god, is the ruler of Swati, and can bring in a restless and scattered energy to this star. He is also the father of Lord Hanuman, who is known as the greatest devotee. One lesson we learn from Hanuman is that through loving devotion, even a restless monkey mind can be tamed. He had endless devotion for Lord Rama, which gave him invincible powers to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. Though we all have restless monkey minds at times, if we direct our attention toward love, light, or our chosen deity, we will be able to steady the mind and find immense strength within.
Some ways to still your mind through one-pointed focus include:
Meditation on candlelight, a statue, or an image
Though a young sprout blowing in the wind (a symbol of Swati) may seem perilous, it is actually growing stronger so as to withstand the intense force of the outer circumstances. Eventually, it could grow into a tall redwood, cutting through the wind like a sword (another symbol of Swati). Swati is also related to the symbolism of a priest, which shows us the possibility for reclaiming both power and balance through devotional or spiritual practice.
Kala Saarpa Yoga
We may feel extra intensity seemingly out of nowhere, for the next two weeks during which the planets align in a Kala Saarpa yoga. This means that the seven major planets are all in between Rahu and Ketu, the two lunar nodes. This heavy alignment can bring up a lot of shadow work, so it is a good time to engage your toolbox for self-development. With Ketu in Shatabisha, the sign of the “hundred medicines,” alternative medicines and healing modalities can be useful towards this end.
With all this energy in the atmosphere, enjoy the opportunity for worship offered by the advent of Diwali! This Hindu festival of light is celebrated for 6 or 7 days, with the main Diwali festival on the night of October 29th. Diwali, or Deepawali, comes from Deepa + avali, “a row of lights.”
Thursday (North America) is both Dhanvantari Tryodashi (or Dhanvantari Jayanti, the birth of Lord Dhanvantari), and Dhanteras (a part of the Diwali festival). It is the thirteenth day of the waning Moon in the Vedic month of Ashwayuja. Lord Dhanvantari is known as the “father of Ayurveda” and the “physician of the Gods.” (Ayurveda is the system of natural medicine from India that is a sister science to yoga and Jyotish.) If you practice any healing tradition, especially Ayurveda, this is a good day to give thanks and call in auspicious blessings to your healing path or practice.
Thursday also marks Dhanteras, the first day of the Diwali festival (the Hindu festival of light). It commemorates the day that Lakshmi emerged from the milk ocean. In India, it is customary to purchase metals on this day — anything from jewelry to new statues to kitchenware (excluding iron), as a part of celebrating Lakshmi and calling in more prosperity. The metals can then be offered to your altar and will absorb and amplify the benefits of worship performed over the few days of Diwali.
It is customary to perform a puja to Lakshmi on the third night of Diwali (this Saturday in North America). Goddess Lakshmi represents wealth and prosperity (spiritual and material), as well as devotion, love, beauty, and happiness. Celebrating her on Diwali is a way to call these qualities into our lives.
It is also traditional to light candles throughout Diwali, to remind us of the divine light within. Diwali is also related to the story from the Ramayana about Lord Rama’s return from exile after fourteen years. It thus symbolizes light and goodness emerging from times of darkness. Lord Rama represents dharma, or doing our duty, as well as devotion, compassion, courage, and righteous leadership. Diwali celebrations often commemorate his and Sita’s return to the kingdom of Ayodhya after their exile.
On Saturday night as we prepare to enter the next lunar cycle, light a candle! Turn your mind toward the divine so as to focus and ground, through the practices that work best for you. Set some intentions as to how you will practice self-care during this cycle (and be sure to find me on Facebook for a live chat with tips for how to do this!).
Ram Ram, Namaste
***Be sure to Follow me on Facebook so you can tune in for my upcoming Facebook Live talks about the New Moon AND Ayurvedic tips for how to stay balanced during the high vata season!
**Limited requests for personal Vedic Astrology readings before the New Year are now available Here.