In this Kali Yuga, it almost always feels like we could use a little more light in the world, but especially around this time of year when the days are getting shorter and darker (northern hemisphere bias). The last few months seem to have piled on more natural disasters than usual, although sometimes it feels like this may be becoming the norm. This New Moon brings the Hindu festival of Diwali, which is a celebratory time to invite more light into our lives and into the world.
The darkest Moon time, which begins our next lunar cycle, occurs at 12:12 pm PDT this Thursday, October 19th. The new cycle begins with Sun and Moon joined in sidereal Libra, with Mercury and Jupiter there as well. Libra is a sign about creating more balance (which presents a bit of a challenge with the imbalanced appearance of the chart for this New Moon). It falls in the Vedic nakshatra of Chitra, a star-sign that enhances our opportunity to bring beauty and harmony in the world.
Libra is an air sign where we bring the principles of Venus into active expression. Venus is the planet of beauty, desire, nature, and human love, so the Libra cycle will encourage us to be more creative, connect with nature, and nurture our relationships. As an air sign (a bit intellectual, and inspiring movement), we will seek ways to balance or re-balance relationships throughout this cycle. Both Jupiter and Mercury are also positioned in Libra, close to the Sun and Moon at this time, which adds the influences of our higher beliefs as well as our analytical minds to our creative endeavors this month.
Venus itself, the ruler of Libra, is currently transiting Virgo, his sign of debilitation. Debilitated Venus doesn’t necessarily translate as “relationships will be bad,” but it adds a highly intellectual, analytical, and practical motivation to the planet of pleasure and beauty. This is the opposite position to exalted Venus in Pisces, which we experienced for four months earlier this year (February through May), when we felt inspired to align our desires and relationships with our highest beliefs, principles, and purpose. Now, with Venus in Virgo, we are prompted to scrutinize all the little details of our relationships and pleasurable pursuits, and make sure that they are serving some practical need for us on the earth plane. We may also be scrutinizing our partners, or others around us, and getting caught up around the nuances of language or ideas. With Venus ruling this upcoming lunar cycle, and Mercury joining closely to the Sun and Moon at its start, desire for practicality will be strong this month.
The Vedic nakshatra where this lunar cycle begins is Chitra, “the brilliant.” This bright star in Virgo (Chitra bridges Virgo and Libra) is ruled by Vishvakarma, the deity known as the celestial architect. Imagine that energy of one who has the ability to place all the stars in the sky and set them in perfect motion … that type of both precise and artistic energy is what we are able to call in this month. There is a powerful creative potency here, and a great potential for improving relationships. It is also an supportive energy for organizing, repairing, or redesigning your home space.
On the new Moon of the Hindu month of Ashwin (this month), we celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. The festival actually began on Monday, the 16th (North America), the 13th waning Moon phase of the previous cycle. This day is known as Dhanteras, or Dhanvantari Tryodashi. Buying gold or silver (or any metals) on Dhanteras is widely practiced in Hindu culture. It is also the celebration of the appearance of Lord Dhanvantari, the father of Ayurvedic medicine. This day, and Diwali in general, is an excellent time for nurturing and calling in blessings for any type of healing or healing practice.
Diwali is a time to invite more light into our lives, our hearts, and our world. This festival celebrates the victory of light over darkness, which is something to rejoice in and have faith in, even if we can’t outwardly observe it sometimes. The positive vibrations we create internally are the only place to start for growing and spreading them externally. It is a powerful time to connect to the Goddess Lakshmi, calling in her blessings for both material and spiritual prosperity.
This holiday also commemorates Lord Ram’s and Sita’s return from exile after fourteen years (story from the Ramayana). Lord Ram embodies the highest qualities of dharma, devotion, compassion, courage, and leadership. Diwali is also the start of a new lunar cycle, so it’s a great time to go within and summon these qualities to awaken and live through you.
Diwali (also seen as Divali, Deepawali or Deepavali) comes from the sanskrit words deepa (light) and avali (row). It is traditional to light candles throughout Diwali, inviting the highest light into our homes and hearts … but in consideration of the destructive wildfires raging in California right now, I’m using electronic tea lights this year.
The candles are lit to remind us of the inner divine light in us all. Though one flame can be used to light many others, it is not diminished by sharing its power of illumination. We can pray for the peace and happiness of all beings, and each one’s awareness of their inner light.
Sun in Libra
It is pertinent to remember and to celebrate and call forth our inner light during this particular Dark Moon time, because the Sun, the planet of our inner power, strength, and divine light, is also in his sign of “debilitation,” in Libra.
Since Libra is the sign of balance and relationships, we often give a lot of our personal power to our relationships with others when Sun is in Libra. We may try too hard to care for others, forgetting to nourish the divine spark in ourselves, or we may simply feel depleted by trying to balance too much in life, losing touch with our personal strength and vitality.
At the beginning of this cycle, set an intention for a mindful self-care routine this month. Light some candles (or turn them on) for Diwali on the Dark Moon night, and if possible, take some time each day to offer yourself some time to nourish and honor your personal light. Self-care practices can include yoga, meditation, chanting, art, or self-abhyangha (oil massage). You can also make some herbal tea to nourish yourself during this vata (cold and dry) season.
The imbalance of the chart that I was talking about is referring to the ongoing Kala Saarpa yoga we see, wherein all seven physical planets are on one side of the nodal Rahu-Ketu axis. With these planets to one side of the nodes, the subconscious shadow energy (similar to eclipse energy) becomes more present, and a lot of unresolved business may arise. There is more agitation of the environment in general. This chart is particularly imbalanced, with the Sun, Moon, Jupiter and Mercury halfway between the nodes, and the other planets joining them on either side. As we enter this darker time of year, it is especially important to keep up our consciousness development and self-improvement practices, so as not to be ruled by the unconscious forces within.
Diwali is a potent opportunity to set this conscious intention, and to call forth more light and love into our hearts, and then to spread it out into the world! With so much trauma and disaster occurring all over the planet, our light, love, and service are needed now more than ever. No matter how small a part we can play, let us do what we can to increase harmony on and with the planet.
You can click here to discover your specific strengths and challenges through a personal Vedic astrology chart reading with me.
The full Moon in sidereal Pisces peaks tomorrow morning at 11:40 am (PDT), and aligns with the very last of the 27 Vedic nakshatras, Revati. This energy brings forth a wave of open-hearted surrender and ushers us to let go of everything from the past season, as we enter the dark and inward months of the year.
The full Moon falling closest to the autumnal equinox (September 22nd), is known as the Harvest Moon. For farmers this has traditionally been an optimal time to harvest the crops of the season, not only because of their readiness, but because of the bright and glowing Moon that appears in the evenings at this time. During this time of year, close to the equinox, the time of the moonrise is very close to the time of the sunset (moonrise today is at 6:36 pm PDT, and tomorrow at 7:11, while sunset is at 6:47 today and 6:46 tomorrow). The Moon looks the largest around its rising and setting times, because of the way light refracts through the lower portions of the atmosphere, and when it occurs near to sunset, the Moon will catch the bright orange sunset rays and take on a hearty glow.
Pisces Full Moon
It is apt that at this time of year the full Moon is also in Pisces, the last of the twelve major zodiac signs, and Revati, the last of the 27 Vedic signs, both of which elicit imagery of closing a chapter. Pisces, an introverted water-sign ruled by Jupiter, opens the depths of our emotional bodies and calls us to connect them with our higher belief systems. It is a sign of surrender, where we let go of material attachments, and even the material world at times, and allow ourselves to give in totally to spirit and divine flow. It is a powerful sign for meditation, dreamwork, and inward journeys. It can also invoke an energy of escapism, so be careful not to go down any rabbit holes unconsciously.
The Pisces full Moon illuminates the contrasting energy to Virgo, where we began this lunar cycle on the New Moon of September 19th. Virgo is a grounded and practical earth-sign, ruled by Mercury, the planet of the intellect. Virgo energy compelled us to get our ducks in a row, do the final accounting of the season and make sure we have things neatly squirreled away before the change of seasons. Pisces’ energy reminds us that we can’t account for or control everything, and at the final moments of our outward effort, we can only surrender to divine will to carry us the rest of the way.
Revati, the nakshatra where this full Moon falls, is a star of journeys. We can see this ultimately as the journey to the other side, if the progression of energy through the signs is symbolic of our progression through life. The last and final nakshatra begs us to let go of all efforts and worldly attachments as we merge into the infinite, ultimately giving up even this waking life. We can still apply this metaphor while embodied, however, by loosening our grip on the striving to be in control, and dissolving into the sea of divine light.
Revati is translated as “the wealthy” and is ruled by Pushan, the deity of nourishment as well as journeys. He is often depicted standing at the beginning (or end) of a path and can be seen as a celestial shepherd, ushering us safely along the many roads through life, and beyond. People born under Revati nakshatra tend to have a very kind and loving disposition, and a distinct affection for animals. Though it is a star of wealth, there is an incredibly generous nature here, reflecting abundant spiritual wealth as well as material is possible.
Venus and Mars
Venus and Mars remain tightly aligned, around 25 degrees of sidereal Leo, engaging in a planetary war this week (from Tuesday through Saturday). It is as if the forces of Mars and Venus are fighting for dominance within us. Our desires and relationships may feel at odds with our ability to exert strength an a strong will at the moment. Venus’ energy is probably winning out (more giving in to desires, less willingness to fight), both because of his brightness over Mars and because the full Moon is in Venus’ sign of exaltation (Revati). Desires can seem heightened with Venus in Leo, as they take their seat on the throne and their importance is temporarily amplified.
Venus will soon transit into Virgo, however, his sign of debilitation, where we’ll become much more analytical over our desires as well as relationships. With Venus currently in Leo, we can tend to relate our power with these things, but once he transits into Virgo, we’re likely to become much more grounded and practical. It will be an interesting experience, after Venus was exalted in Pisces, the opposite sign, for four months earlier during this year. The high that we may have experienced then will finally come down to a place we will be looking at our relationships and desires through a very intellectual lens.
Enjoy the powerful medicine of this Pisces full Moon, which has the potential to open our hearts and deepen our surrender. Magic, mysticism, and meditation are easily accessible, so be sure to spend some time going inward and feel what arises.
The New Moon cycle in Cancer begins at 2:46 am PDT on Sunday, July 23rd. The Moon, Sun, and Mars will all come together near 7 degrees of sidereal Cancer, in the Vedic nakshatra known as Pushya, “the nourisher.” This month will be a time to allow yourself to both give and receive, and give thanks for divine love offered to us abundantly. We are all only children of this vast and generous universe, and the Cancer Moon cycle reminds us of that. Cancer, ruled by the Moon, is the sign of the divine Mother, and it is here that we encounter universal compassion, acceptance, and nourishment (related to the breasts and the heart).
Just as Cancer is related to the heart and the breasts, the source of emotional and literal nourishment for humans, Pushya is represented by the udder of a cow. This symbol elicits the sensation of abundance, as we picture the cow heavy with milk, ready to be offered to her eager calves. There can be so much there that the cow will literally hurt with immense pain if not relieved by nursing or milking, just as human mothers do as well.
Pushya nakshatra governed by the deity Brihaspati, a divine priest and form of Jupiter. There is a Vedic myth that tells the tale of Brihaspati’s wife, Tara, once becoming infatuated with Chandra, the Moon God. She ran away with him and even became pregnant. She eventually returned to Brihaspati and bore a child, who was Budha (Mercury). Although he had some emotions about it at first, Brihaspati eventually took the child in and raised him as his own. The generous nature of this story shows the powerfully compassionate and nurturing quality of this star, which brings both maternal and paternal love and care. This month is a good time to look at where you can open your heart and find more compassion, especially in relation to your parents or parental figures (or in your role as a parental figure).
Eclipses and What to Do
Despite the nourishing sensation that will help to guide us into this month, we should prepare for some serious intensity, as we are simultaneously entering into a powerful eclipse cycle. There will be a partial lunar eclipse on Monday, August 7th (at 11:20 am PDT), and a total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st (maximum eclipse at 10:15 am PDT; check your local time zone for maximum eclipse where you are). The lunar eclipse will be visible from most of India, Asia, Australia, Africa, and Europe, while the solar eclipse will be most visible from North America, and slightly from South America and Western Europe.
Partial Lunar Eclipse visibility, August 7th, timeanddate.com
Total Solar Eclipse Visibility, August 21st, timeanddate.com
Contrary to the popular idea of going out and partying underneath the rays of the eclipse, Vedic tradition advises against looking at the eclipse or even being outside at all during it. (The full window of the August 21st eclipse is from 9:01 to 11:37 am PDT.) Why? Well, you have probably noticed from reading my blog or free eclipse book… eclipses are inauspicious!
Astrologically, eclipses occur when the lunar nodes, known as the demonic Rahu and Ketu, actually swallow the Sun and the Moon (our soul and heart) temporarily. (Astronomically, they are the times when Sun, Moon, and earth align with the measurable ascending and descending nodes, which are explicit points in the sky.) Although we have A LOT to learn from the “shadow planets,” Rahu and Ketu, their influence is usually disruptive in our lives.
Think about it … do you want all of your dark shadows to become visible within a number of hours? If they did, what would be the ideal circumstance for observing them? Astute self-awareness, reflection, and conscious actions or practice will help you to navigate murky waters. This is what my satguru recommends for the eclipse times … She says it is best not to eat or drink during these windows, because the energy of the atmosphere is contaminated, and the best thing we can do is to be indoors and doing some kind of spiritual practice (chanting, meditation, connecting with what inspires you most).
Of course, many people will be outside, checking out the eclipse, celebrating in festival style (here on the West coast). But it’s definitely a time to maintain consciousness and be equipped with your spiritual warriorress weapons, so you are ready to combat the demons that might arise from within.
Entering a New 1.5-Year Nodal Transit
Since January of 2016, the nodes Rahu and Ketu have been transiting the parts of the sky known as Leo and Aquarius, respectively. For the last year-and-a-half, we have each been doing personal shadow work that involves re-calibrating a balance between how we perceive, pursue, and attain personal power and leadership ability, with how we engage in universal service to society and the earth. The shadows of the nodal cycle arise most acutely during the two “eclipse cycles” that occur each year.
The eclipse cycles of this last nodal transit occurred in March and September of 2016, and February of this year. Not only were we working on balancing the universal themes of Leo and Aquarius, but for each of us individually, we were working on balancing the two sides of life indicated by the houses that fall on Leo and Aquarius in our natal charts. If you never downloaded your Free Rahu/Ketu in Leo/Aquarius Forecast for Your Sign, get it for free now and see how it helps illuminate the last year-and-a-half of your life! I’ll be sending out the next free forecast for your sign very soon (Rahu/Ketu in Cancer/Capricorn Forecast), so be sure to stay on the free mailing list! The lunar eclipse on August 7th will be the last with the nodes on the Leo-Aquarius axis, and may really finalize for us some of the lessons we have been learning through this time.
The nodes are getting ready to transit from Leo/Aquarius into Cancer/Capricorn on August 17th. This means that the second eclipse of this cycle, the massive solar eclipse on August 21st, will actually be launching us head-first into a new 1.5 year cycle brought on by the nodes’ position here. With Rahu and Ketu now in Cancer and Capricorn, we will begin to unravel the dynamics within us that contrast our heart space and most sensitive side with our outer resourcefulness and most practical side. Are you all open heart, or all practicality? Too much of either one can cause problems to arise. The eclipse of August 21st may highlight for you in a big way some ways in which you need to look at this inner dichotomy. Utilize your most powerful tools and teachings to engage with what is coming up in a positive way!
The new cycle will also have profound affects on your life in the “house” axis that is Cancer-Capricorn in your Vedic natal chart. Again, be sure to sign up for my free mailing list to get the forecast for your sign, and check out offerings on the Readings page that can help you navigate through the upcoming cycle.
Venus and Saturn
Also remember that Venus is in his own sign of Taurus right now, and is being aspected by the expansive Jupiter. Desires and sensuality could be very high right now! With that wide open heart of the Cancer cycle, be aware of where your boundaries are, lest they get washed away in the watery shadows of the Cancer cycle eclipses. Saturn is making his final transit through Scorpio, which for this eclipse cycle may actually add some much-needed discipline and long-term vision towards what will aid in our transformation the most.
May you have a powerful eclipse cycle, and embrace the potential for positive change as we see and begin to clear the shadows that arise!
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 Full Moon in Scorpio is coming on Friday! Fullest waxing Moon is tonight, as the purnima Moon phase culminates at 6:10am P.D.T. tomorrow, June 9th. I spent the week on retreat at my satguru’s ashram in northern California, and many of the lessons reflected the energy of this Scorpio full Moon. The Moon has been in Scorpio since early Wednesday, and the atmosphere has been ripe for transformation.
The Scorpio full Moon teaches us to embrace change, to be ready for anything, to be fearless in facing the things that scare us the most. This has been a big part of the message from my guru this week as well. Life will throw us curveballs and challenges that we never asked for and really don’t want … but this is unavoidable. The only thing we can do about it is adjust our own attitude. By thanking the universe for the lessons it offers, and looking at them as opportunities for self-growth, we can find happiness and peace in any situation. This idea is reflected strongly by the energy of Scorpio, a sign I like to think of as the spiritual warrior.
We need to be able to adapt and go with the flow of external changes, and we can do this by fortifying our inner strength through spiritual practices. The Scorpio full Moon comes in the middle of the Taurus cycle, as a reflective point that helps us to integrate two poles. The Taurus energy has inspired us to root down and connect with Mother Earth. It is where the beauty of life becomes reflected inwardly, allowing us a greater sense of internal peace and happiness.
Scorpio, the sign opposite from Taurus, is a sign where we more often encounter a lot of anxiety and instability. As the natural eighth sign, it ilicits the energy of change, loss, and transformation. As a deep and passionately inward sign, Scorpio shows us our most vulnerable sensitive areas that we keep hidden within. As these concepts are illuminated by the Scorpio full Moon, we learn to face the transient nature of things, and integrate this reality into our lives even as we are pursuing a Taurean sense of stability. Life calls on us both to create structures on the earthly plane, and at the same time to remain detached and ready to let go when changes arise. This is the harmonizing energy of the Scorpio full Moon.
Venus has now finished his four-month course through Pisces, and we are beginning to move forward with a lot of new perspectives on our relationships and our avenues towards happiness. He’s now transiting Aries, and Ashwini nakshatra, a location that primes us for new beginnings. Venus can be both passionate and headstrong in this position, so be aware of rushing into relationships over the next couple of weeks.
The full Moon falls in the nakshatra called Jyeshta, the star of seniority. This asterism is governed by Indra, the chief of the Gods, and carries the power to overcome obstacles. There is a sense of responsibility found here. Within Scorpio, and on this full Moon, we rise up and take responsibility for overcoming our own inner challenges, facing our vulnerability and fears, and stepping into a more “senior” role thereby. As with any position of authority, however, Indra reminds us of the potential for abuse of power, or self-aggrandizement, and it is important not to get carried away by one’s position. There is a particular temptation here to put too much emphasis on one’s appearance and recognition.
Jupiter turns direct just after the full Moon, so we can look forward to things picking up again in terms of education, inspiration, and those areas of life ruled by Jupiter in your chart. Saturn remains retrograde, so be aware of this especially if you are ruled by him. You may feel a bit more withdrawn and inward as things in your life have slowed down a bit externally. Saturn is backing up and will soon be in Scorpio again, from late June through October. This may be the last stretch of Sade Sati or Saturn’s return for some (depending on the position of your natal Moon and Saturn).