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.
The new lunar cycle begins tonight at 7:31 pm PDT. This dark Moon night finds four planets in the Vedic nakshatra called Ardra, located within the Gemini section of the sky. This nakshatra is actually located at the star Betelguese (also known as Alpha Orionis), a red supergiant star within the constellation of Orion. The Sun and Moon converge here tonight at 8° of sidereal Gemini, with Mercury close by at 11° and Mars at 18°. Aligned with the outermost edges of our galaxy, there is a powerful yet stormy energy to this nakshatra, and the month ahead may bring some intense changes, followed by a sense of renewal.
Rudra is the deity for this nakshatra, and he is a fierce form of Lord Shiva associated with storms and destruction. In Vedic thought, however, we recognize that the destructive aspect of creation is actually what allows change, transformation, and rebirth (sometimes I think of it as the cosmic composting process). Ardra nakshatra is often represented by a teardrop, which symbolizes the letting go that comes before new chapters begin. It is associated with the spring rains as well, which denotes the energy of renewal. After an intense storm the grounds are always moist and rich, and it is then that they are most fertile for new life to begin.
Nevertheless, when planets are in this part of the sky we often see rather intense and disruptive events worldwide. Since this alignment occurs on a new Moon, the energy is more inwardly directed, however, which could imply more inner work and processing, rather than outward turmoil … but some purification through disruptive cleansing or turbulence is still a possibility.
As this nakshatra aligns with the middle of Gemini, there is also a strongly intellectual and research-oriented quality to this new Moon, and the coming month. Gemini is the most flexible and quick-thinking of all the signs, as a mutable air-sign ruled by Mercury. Mercury is currently in his own sign, which opens up our curiosity, intellect, and analytical nature. Since he is so close to the Sun, however, he is combust at the moment, which can add a bit too much heat to our minds, and may cause our communication efforts to fail before completion. Mars is also nearby, adding even more heat (and aggression) to Mercury, so be careful not to allow your speech to become too intense, angry, or argumentative.
We can channel the power of this alignment by calling in discipline (from Mars), purification (from the Sun), and a heart-alignment (from the Moon), as we pursue research, communication, and learning this month. Travel is also a strong possibility, given so much mobile energy behind the planets. Gemini also gives us a strong ability to see both sides of a situation or argument. Represented by a pair of twins (or partners), Gemini represents both sides of a mirror at once, and really allows us to be more impartial and step into another’s shoes while reasoning. As of yesterday, Saturn is no longer aspecting Gemini, which frees us up from the pressure that he was putting on all the planets here for the last few weeks. He is still in a tight spot known as gandanta, however, and stronger feelings of constriction may persist for a few more weeks.
Saturn is now in Scorpio, and will continue there through late October. He is still in retrograde motion until the end of August, during which time we are feeling more introspective about our work and commitments. This is the last stretch of a roughly three-year transit of Saturn through Scorpio, which has brought some deep evaluation of our commitment to facing our fears and vulnerabilities, and putting in the hard work necessary for our personal path to transformation. There was also a lot of pressure and consideration of goals in the area of life indicated by Scorpio in each individual’s natal chart, and we the next for months are a time to re-affirm our insights and commitments here.*
The full Moon coming on July 8th is the one known as Guru Purnima, an auspicious day for giving thanks for all our teachers and gurus. This is a great time to acknowledge all those who have served your learning and evolution, including spiritual, theoretical, and vocational teachers. It is also a great chance to call forth the teacher within yourself, and recognize your potential to share what you have learned with others to whom your knowledge or experience may be of service. Guru is the name for Jupiter in Sanskrit, so it is also an auspicious time to connect with this planet.
*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!
It’s no surprise that Rohini is known as the Moon’s favorite nakshatra, it’s one of mine as well. This Thursday, May 25th, at 12:45 pm PDT, the exalted Moon will join the Sun in the middle of Taurus, in Rohini nakshatra. We can give thanks for a warmer and cheerier month ahead, as we begin the cycle with a more peaceful disposition in the mind and heart.
The Moon is the planet that affects our emotions, and sets the tone of our mental thought patterns. Moon is exalted in Taurus because of the stable (fixed) nature of this grounded earth sign, which is ruled by Venus, the planet of pleasure, beauty, and harmony. We all know what it feels like to have turmoil and too many waves of change in the mind and heart, and we feel happier when the Moon has a happy and solid place to rest, such as Taurus.
Within Taurus, this New Moon falls within the Vedic nakshatra (star-sign) called Rohini, “the reddish one” or “the growing one.” Of all the twenty-seven nakshatras visited by the Moon each month, he was said to linger longer here, treating Rohini as his favorite. (In Vedic lore, the nakshatras were said to be the wives of the Moon. Though we do think of the Moon and Venus as planets with feminine qualities, the deities of the planets are thought of as gods while the nakshatras are goddesses.)
Rohini image from Trivedi click for link
Rohini correlates with the star Aldebaran, one of the brightest stars in the 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 with Lakshmi here, the goddess of prosperity. Rohini is also associated with Brahma, the creative force in existence, adding to the sensation of infinite possibilities here. Venus’s rulership over Taurus also adds a quality of luxury, enjoyment, and a strong presence of Mother Nature.
The shakti (power) of Rohini is the power to grow, and this is a great month to focus on growing your material projects this year. The potency to bring dreams into material existence is strong under the new Moon in Rohini, especially with Taurus’ ruler, Venus, still exalted in Pisces. Venus in Pisces helps us connect our desires with our highest potential, and in the 11th house from this New Moon, the potential of fulfilling our dreams and greatest ambitions is added.
The New Moon in Taurus is also joined by Mars, but Mars is past 29 degrees of Taurus at the moment, so not having too fiery of an influence on our minds. The warrior planet lacks some intensity when on the cusp of two signs. He is within Mrigashira nakshatra, however, his own star-sign, which adds some potency and should help to keep our energy balanced. He transits into Gemini on Friday where we’ll need to put more energy into communication and intellectual pursuits, through mid-July.
Venus is finishing his four-month exalted transit through Pisces on May 30th, when he moves into Aries. After sorting through our desires and deeply reflecting on our relationships through this time, we’ll now work on taking action around them. Passions could be elevated for the next month. The 9th of June will bring both the full Moon and the full stop of Jupiter, before he turns direct and begins finishing his transit of Virgo through the summer.
Enjoy the dark Moon night on May 24th, leading into a new cycle on the 25th, and plant the seeds of what you want to grow in the incredibly fertile grounds of the heart and mind this month!
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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’s full Moon in sidereal Leo illuminates a more independent part of the sky, contrasting to the Aquarian New Moon and solar eclipse we experienced two weeks ago. The full Moon peaks at 7:53 a.m. PST on Sunday, so the brightest waxing Moon night is Saturday, the 11th. Sunday also brings the Hindu holiday Holi, the “festival of colors.”
The energy of Aquarius that began this lunar cycle compels us to think about the bigger picture, the greater good, and how we may offer our service into society at large. Through the healing nakshatra of Shatabisha, the solar eclipse energy of February 26th helped us to realize the potential of our personal healing journey contributing to our offering of service. The full Moon in Leo this weekend reminds us of our individual strength and power. Before we are able to serve others well, we need to feel strong in our own light.
Leo is the sign that reminds us of our own strength in a sattvic way, as he is ruled by the Sun, the sattvic planet of purity and illumination. Our highest potential through Leo is to connect with our own divine strength and use it for good and generous ends (rather than selfish). Benevolent leadership is a positive manifestation of this potential. Leo gets a bad rap sometimes as being bossy and overbearing, but this happens when we try to possess the divine strength of the Sun rather than let it shine forth. When we allow the source light to pass through us, purify us, and illuminate outwardly, we find a peaceful sense of self-establishment by which we can support others into their power as well, rather than feel threatened by it.
The nakshatra of this full Moon is Uttara Phalguni, a radiant constellation that bridges Leo and Virgo. The energy of this star-sign signifies the relaxation and rejuvenation (found once we establish our own power in Leo), but reminds us of returning to work and the details of life, as it crosses into Virgo. The deity who rules here is Aryaman, an emblem of friendship, nobility, and generosity. The austere mood of the Shivaratri and the previous new Moon is contrasted by this full Moon of rejuvenation.
Venus is holding a strong influence in the sky right now, as he continues his journey of exaltation through the sign of Pisces. He entered Pisces at the end of January, and is receiving a powerful aspect from his ruler, Jupiter, who is directly across the sky in sidereal Virgo. This relationships gives us the opportunity to bring our desires (coming from Venus) into alignment with our principles and beliefs (influenced by Jupiter).
Since March 4th Venus has been retrograde, appearing to move backwards through Pisces from our perspective here on earth. Venus retrograde only occurs once every 18 months, so this is a rare opportunity to go inward and become more introspective about our desires, which usually follow an outward, seeking direction. We may be doing a lot of re-thinking of relationships at this time, or may find past acquaintances popping back up into our lives to complete some unfinished business.
Be especially careful of allowing arguments to go too far, as breaking relationships is also a potential during this Venus retrograde. Mars, the planet of war and fire, is currently in his own firey sign of Aries. This can add some extra heat to arguments, and makes us feel particularly headstrong and independent (especially in addition to the full Moon in Leo). With Venus retrograde in Pisces, there’s opportunity to surrender our desires and allow our values to take the upper hand, but there’s also the potential that we will choose to break from relationships, as Pisces carries a strong energy of releasing and letting go.
Rahu, Ketu & Saturn
Though we have passed the eclipses for this cycle, Sun and Moon are still in the same signs as Rahu and Ketu, separated by about 20 degrees, so there is still some shadow energy working through our fields. Saturn’s influence on the Sun during this time continues to pressure us into aligning ourselves with a higher purpose, however, so don’t pass up any opportunities for service. It will prove to be very purifying during this time.
This full Moon also commemorates the Hindu festival of “Holi,” as the last full Moon coming before the Spring Equinox. This is a joyful festival of renewal, best-known for its colorful celebration in which people throw bright powders at each other. The playful combat is a way to let go of any past aggression held over the past year and start anew with forgiveness and friendship.
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