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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New Years Full Moon
Many blessings for the new year, astrology lovers! This lunar cycle will peak with a full Moon at 17° sidereal Gemini, on January 1st at 6:24 pm PST. On both December 31st and January 1st the Moon will wax into fullness, fully reflecting the light of the Sagittarian Sun onto Earth, as we step into 2018.
New Years Challenge: Look at the Sky!
Now I know that some of you are already very familiar with Vedic astrology (jyotish, the science of light) and the sidereal zodiac, but each month I get at least one person commenting or questioning why I would say the full Moon is in Gemini (for example, now), when they’ve heard it is in Cancer.
Well, one can begin to understand this by engaging in the first limb of jyotish, referred to as gola (observational astronomy). The study of astrology began as a love of astronomy, when people would actually go out and look at the sky, watching the way that light bounced off of and around the stars and planets. It wasn’t just about looking at a calendar or computer program to know where the planets are.
We can still engage in this practice when using the sidereal zodiac with Vedic astrology, because this “star-based” zodiac correlates with what we see in the sky.* Here are some screenshots for January 1st from the astronomy app called SkyView Lite, showing the Moon in sidereal Gemini, and Mars and Jupiter in sidereal Libra, Mercury in sidereal Scorpio, and Saturn, Venus, and the Sun closely joined in sidereal Sagittarius. Gemini is where you will be able to locate the full Moon on January 1st, and these photos show where one would see the other planets if not for the fact that they are currently “up” during the day (early birds might catch Jupiter and Mars).
Western astrology, following the tropical zodiac (which says this full Moon is in Cancer, and that Saturn is in Capricorn), is a system that is based more on the seasons, than how we see the stars and planets. It has its own applications and relevance, but my articles are written from the Vedic perspective, using the sidereal zodiac, hence… Full Moon in Gemini! Read the full article on the two zodiacs HERE.
Full Moon in Gemini
So then! What does the full Moon in Gemini mean, as we hurtle through space and into the next calendar year? We began this lunar cycle with the Sun, and Saturn, in Sagittarius. That type of energy compells us to be vigilant with our beliefs and opinions, and to make sure that all of our actions are in close alignment with them. It’s a very passionate and opinionated time of year, as the Sun crosses the Jupiter-ruled sign of righteous action, with stern and serious Saturn casting a strong influence. Saturn’s presence here forces us to look hard at our beliefs, and sort through the dogma to get to the most authentic core.
The full Moon in Gemini, on the other hand, offers a reflection point to all this serious philosophical digging. Gemini is a sign that is much more flexible, impartial, and willing to see both sides of the situation. This doesn’t mean that we cast our guiding principles aside, but it means that we take a moment to stand in the other person’s shoes, play the devil’s advocate, and imagine a world where there’s a synthesis between what we believe is right and the opposite of that, and are willing to engage in conversation around it.
Within Gemini, this full Moon falls in the Vedic nakshatra known as Ardra, “the moist one.” This constellation is one of the most violent and stormy places in the zodiac. Its ruled by the deity Rudra, a fierce form of Lord Shiva, and has to do with the destruction and dissolution brought on by storms. After the deluge, however, the earth is moist and fresh and ready for new life to begin. As we reflect on the practicality of our beliefs and the ways we might engage our intellect to relate with and understand our opposites, we can look for ways to break down parts of our rigidity that don’t serve the situation, and let dogma dissolve so that truer sensation may arise.
On the external level, we often see major upheaval or violent events occur in society when Ardra energy is strong. All the more reason to use this New Year celebration to pray, meditate, and envision more light, peace, and positivity spreading across the globe.
In addition to the full Moon in Ardra, we’re about to enter the last major Kala Sarpa (“black snake”) period for a while, as all the planets traverse one side of the Rahu-Ketu nodal axis (from January 2nd – 19th). There will be one more partial cycle after that, from January 31st through February 5th, when Venus finally passes out of Capricorn (where Ketu lies), breaking the potential for any more Kala Sarpa cycles til August. During these periods, life can feel extra intense, and whatever karma is already stimulated in your life by the transits (in relation to your natal chart), will be magnified.
On top of that, we’re entering another eclipse cycle, as we approach two eclipses to occur on January 31st and February 15th. The total lunar eclipse on the 31st will be visible from Asia, Australia, India, the Pacific, and western North America. The partial solar eclipse on the 15th will only be visible from Antarctica and southern South America. Though there may be slightly less intensity in places where the eclipses aren’t visible, they nevertheless tend to stir up shadow work we are doing in a particular area of life (read your forecast in the free e-book available here).
Finally, we’ll be underneath a planetary war between Jupiter and Mars from the 4th through the 8th, so be aware of your animal instinct fighting with your higher beliefs. There may also be conflict between some specific areas of life, relative to your natal chart.
May you start the new year full of planetary inspiration, gazing upon the full Moon in Gemini!
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*Save for a few cases when the observable constellation spans more or less than its 30° attributed “portion” of the ecliptic.
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.
Full Moon in Taurus December 2017 Rohini
The Moon reaches peak fullness this Sunday, December 3rd, at 1:13 pm PST. This full Moon falls in Rohini nakshatra, in the middle of sidereal Taurus, opposite the Sun and Venus in sidereal Scorpio. The full Moon in Taurus illuminates our potential for being grounded at heart and full of peace of mind.
Taurus vs. Scorpio
We began this lunar cycle on November 18th, with the Sun and Moon joined in Scorpio, bracing us for a month of exploring the depths of our most vulnerable and intense emotions. Under Scorpio’s influence, we face what we know is inevitable — change. This can take a toll on the heart, when we allow ourselves to let go of preconceived notions and attachments, permitting what we hold most dear to evolve and transform, even if that means letting go.
This is a screenshot from the SkyView Free app for Sunday at 8pm. Here you can see the Full Moon in Taurus. Click on the picture to read more about the sidereal zodiac (if you heard the Full Moon was in Gemini this month).
Scorpio is the natural point of “debilitation” for the Moon, the place where our emotions feel most aggravated, unstable, and uncertain. Scorpio is a water sign ruled by fiery Mars, adding passion and a sense of struggle to our emotive nature here. We often go through both inner and outer transformations when Scorpio energy is high. Sensing this potential during the Scorpio lunar cycle, we tend to be more self-protective, knowing that the boat of our hearts may be rocked intensely.
Taurus, where the full Moon is illuminated this weekend, helps us to contact the opposite sensations of those brought on by Scorpio. Taurus is where the Moon is considered “exalted,” where the mind and the heart are elevated, and at peace. Taurus is an earth sign ruled by Venus, helping us to ground the heart and find a sense of stability, while taking a loving approach towards life and allowing pleasure and beauty to permeate our fields of vision. This weekend, tap into the side of yourself that can remain calm and cool, bowing to Mother Earth even in times of intense change.
Within Taurus, Rohini is the specific Vedic nakshatra where the Moon is considered exalted, and where the Moon is full this Sunday. Rohini, “the reddish one” or “the growing one,” was said to be the favorite wife of the Moon. In Vedic mythology, the 27 nakshatras are considered the wives of the Moon, and he was often seen to linger here the longest. The Moon is also the planetary lord for this nakshatra.
Rohini correlates with the star Aldebaran, one of the brightest stars in the night sky. The warm and glowing nature of this star elicits a sense of abundance and feminine fertility, and it is no surprise that there is a strong association with agriculture here. The common symbol for Rohini is the ox-cart, representing an abundant harvest, commerce, and in general, a fulfilling material existence. There are strong associations of Rohini with Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, and with Lord Brahma, the creative force in existence, adding a sensation of infinite possibilities here.
Jupiter and Mars are now joining in sidereal Libra, creating what is known as a Guru-Mangala yoga (alignment) in the sky. This brings together our powers of purpose (Jupiter) with our power to take action (Mars). Under this alignment, we have more ability to direct our energy towards righteous causes, and actions that support our highest beliefs. Though this alignment will last until mid-January, watch out for a planetary war between the two from January 4th-8th, when Mars passes Jupiter and they are within one degree of each other. The energies can be less harmonic when they are so close and “competing” for dominance.
The planet of war and the planet of beauty are now exchanging signs, with Venus in Mars’ sign of Scorpio, and Mars in Venus’ sign of Libra, creating a parivartana yoga. This can help us to harmonize the energies of the two planets, and specifically the areas of life that these two rule in your personal natal chart. This alignment will last through December 20th.
Mercury: Retrograde and Planetary Wars
Mercury begins his retrogression on December 2nd, beginning to creep back towards Saturn, both in early sidereal Sagittarius. This could be positive for some endeavors, as Mercurial and Saturnian energies within us are able to work together towards a common goal (specifically around what these two rule in your natal chart). Less harmony is present from December 4th-7th, when Mercury passes Saturn, creating a planetary war (an internal conflict between our intellectual side and our long-term goals). He’ll continue in retrograde motion all the way back into Scorpio, where he’ll have a planetary war with Venus as he passes the planet of pleasure on December 14th-15th, creating conflict between our sensual and intellectual sides.
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.
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