Title Photo: “Howling at the Moon,” by Paree.
The Moon will reach peak fullness for this cycle in sidereal Capricorn on August 7th, at 11:11 am PDT, shortly before the partial lunar eclipse reaches fullness at 11:20 am. The eclipse will be visible from Europe, Africa, Asia, India, and Australia, and will appear as only a partial shadow going over the full Moon. Nevertheless, we will experience the eclipse’s effects, brought on by the proximity of the lunar nodes to the Sun and Moon, from all sides of the globe.
Though the lunar nodes, Rahu and Ketu, are still technically at zero degrees of sidereal Leo and Aquarius, this eclipse falls with the Sun and Moon on the Cancer-Capricorn axis. It could be a major wake-up call, stirring the pot around this axis, and giving a preview of the nodal influence that is to come for the next year-and-a-half. Rahu and Ketu will transit into Cancer and Capricorn, respectively, on August 17th, 2017, and continue their journey there until March 7th, 2019.
The Cancer-Capricorn axis is where we learn to balance and integrate two sides of ourselves: the part of us that is driven by the emotions and is sensitive and compassionate (Cancer), and the part of us that is motivated by grounded practicality and consideration of long-term consequences (Capricorn). Cancer is ruled by the motherly yet sometimes fickle Moon, while Capricorn is ruled by the serious, mature and discerning Saturn. Cancer is a water sign — sensitive and fluid —while Capricorn is an earth sign — seeking stability.
Under a Cancerian influence we want to open our hearts, get in touch with our feelings, and allow these perceptual sensations to guide us. Though we can find and develop our nurturing and caring nature here, there is also the danger of widening our boundaries too far, or becoming too emotional, in ways that will not ultimately serve us or others.
Under Capricorn’s influence, we look for the long-term outcomes and seek to create structures and stability that will help us to reach our goals and meet our responsibilities over time. Without checking in with the heart, however, we may become too vigilant in our quest to make the “wisest” decisions.
This lunar cycle began with the Sun and Moon together in Cancer, launching us into a watery, heart-oriented, sensitive homebody kind of month. Emotions are running high — and hot, with both Sun and Mars together in Cancer now. The Full Moon in Capricorn illuminates the contrast to this emotional approach to life. It shows us ways of being more rational and structured, of entering into maturity mode and examining things for the weight of their consequences. It helps us to ground a bit more and tap into our “inner elder,” listening to the wise voice within. We are learning to create a harmony between balancing responsibilities and honoring our emotions.
This full Moon, however, is being partially eclipsed, due to the Moon’s proximity with Ketu, the lunar node (a point in the sky whose alignment with Sun, Moon and Earth creates eclipses), which may obscure the voices of wisdom and reason a bit. Ketu is a shadow planet, and can bring up a lot of confusion and darkness, keeping the Capricorn full Moon energy from being fully illuminated (and illuminating). You may be feeling a lot of uncertainty, self-doubt or self-criticism around your attempts to be more rational and responsible right now, and may also feel like you’re falling short in handling your emotions. With Rahu’s influence near the Sun, still in Cancer, our feelings can be extra intense and prominent.
The full Moon falls in the Vedic nakshatra known as Shravana, a star of listening and learning, symbolized by the ear. With a full Moon and eclipse here, it’s time to open the inner ear and listen deeply to what the universe has been trying to tell you. There is a potential for great knowledge to be gained around this time, but it definitely requires effort, self-reflection, and, as always, grace.
Eclipses are considered inauspicious in Vedic thought (and many other cultures), because of the shadowy and distorting nature that they bring forward. The actual day of an eclipse is best saved for contemplation and spiritual practice, and it is best not to initiate any important activities at this time. The influence of the eclipses can be felt for many weeks before the first eclipse (August 7th), through the last of the particular cycle (August 21st in this case), after which the energies begin to settle down. It is best not to eat, drink, or be in the direct light of an eclipse, lest you absorb more of the negative energy created in the atmosphere.
Nodal Turning Point – Finalizing & Beginning
It is likely that we may be making some major shifts in life around the time of this eclipse cycle (referring to the pair of eclipses during the month of August). It’s not the time to rush into any new ventures or decisions blindly, but, if you’ve been doing some personal work around one particular shadow or fear throughout this last nodal transit, and feel on the verge of breaking through it and making a change in your life, this eclipse cycle may help to give you the impetus.
The lunar eclipse on August 7th is the last eclipse of the 1.5-year transit of Rahu and Ketu through Leo and Aquarius, where they have been since January of 2016. Around each of the eclipse cycles to occur during this time (March 2016, September 2016, and February 2017), we have struggled through facing some tough truths related to Leo and Aquarius — where we learn to balance personal empowerment and self-love with universal service and self-sacrifice. We specifically struggled to learn how to better balance these energies in two particular areas of our lives— which are indicated for each individual depending on your Vedic rising sign (LAST CHANCE to receive the Free E-Book here with your sign’s forecast for this transit).
Wherever we have been doing the work this last year-and-a-half, this eclipse cycle may be our final chance to face the difficult truths about ourselves that have surfaced, and to make (or allow) a change in our minds and lives that will help us to grow through these challenges.
The nodes will actually be changing signs, transiting onto the next axis of Cancer-Capricorn, on August 17th, just before the major Great American Eclipse on August 21st. This total solar eclipse will be visible from all of North America, and will fully launch us into the upcoming nodal transit that will last through March of 2019. The solar eclipse will occur with Sun and Moon in sidereal Leo, however, simultaneously helping us to complete and finalize the lessons of the previous Rahu-Ketu transit.
The next transit, that we are beginning during this eclipse cycle, will compel us to work on facing our challenges around the Cancer-Capricorn axis for the next year-and-a-half. We will look at where we go too far to one extreme, whether it is the emotional end or the practical end, in some areas of life, and too far to the other extreme in other areas. We will face specific challenges in the areas of life indicated by the houses aligned with Cancer and Capricorn in our natal charts. (If you haven’t signed up yet, members of the free mailing list will get the NEXT Rahu-Ketu Transit forecast in their inboxes in the coming weeks.)
Mars – The Frustrated Warrior
“Woman Warrior” by pan.li75
In addition to the challenges brought on by the eclipses, we may be feeling especially hot and bothered this month due to the positions of Mars and the Sun. Mars is the planet that gives us strength, courage, self-discipline, and the will to fight (hopefully over the right things). He has been transiting sidereal Cancer, his sign of debilitation, since July 11th, and will continue here through August 26th. With Mars in soft and squishy Cancer we feel challenged to express our warrior nature, or may just feel a lack of energy in general. We’re also connecting with our higher power through our emotions, while Sun is in Cancer, and this sensitivity is not the most comfortable environment for the gut-centered go-getter Mars.
On top of that, Mars is traveling closely alongside the Sun right now, adding combustion to his state of debilitation. This means we can feel doubly frustrated in our desire to exert effort or express our will; the combust nature of Mars makes us want to fight (maybe even explode), but the soft and watery nature of Cancer pours a cool liquid over our kindling. In some scenarios this doubling effect could help us towards a state of balance, but for most of us we are probably feeling unable to properly express the power of Mars this month. You will feel particularly affected by Mars’ current challenged position if you are ruled by him—Aries or Scorpio Vedic rising sign—or if you have a prominent Mars in your natal chart.
Final heads up! Mercury goes into retrograde motion on August 12th, and will continue in apparent backwards motion through September 5th. This is a time to double-check the details and pay extra attention to our communications, as messages sometimes tend not to get fully across during Mercury retrograde. Don’t freak out though, it’s really not the end of the world. 🙂 The divine universe offers us the challenges that we are equipped to handle (though sometimes it feels like “just barely”), pushing us just to our edge so that we may continue to grow and rise as we meet them.
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Cancer Moon Cycle
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!
Guru Purnima – Full Moon in Sagittarius
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.
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.
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Healing Eclipse on the New Moon + Maha Shivaratri
Sunday begins the New Moon cycle and brings with it a powerful eclipse whose alignment offers some deep healing opportunities. The annular solar eclipse will be visible from much of Africa, South America, and Antarctica, and will coincide with the exact time of the darkest Moon phase at 6:58 a.m PST (14:58 UTC) on Sunday, February 26th. This eclipse occurs with the Sun, Moon, Mercury, and Ketu all in sidereal Aquarius within the Vedic nakshatra of Shatabisha.
Aquarius is a sign ruled by Saturn, and it is where we remember something greater than ourselves. It is where we become inspired towards universal service, and to offering effort into society and for the greater good. Saturn, the planet of pressure and time, is aspecting the planets of this eclipse from his recent seat in sidereal Sagittarius, compelling us even more deeply to stand up for our principles and beliefs, and commit ourselves to these through hard work.
Shatabisha is the Vedic nakshatra that most elicits the concept of healing. It is the star of the “100 physicians” or the “100 medicines,” and is ruled by Varuna, the deity of the cosmic waters. With many planets under the influence of this star, we are strongly called towards our journey of self-healing, trying many different medicines and healing techniques to get there. Having Ketu here, eclipsing the Sun and the Moon, presents the opportunity to go deeply into our subconscious blockages and find release from past karma and trauma.
The Greater Eclipse Cycle
This is the third solar eclipse that has occurred since Rahu and Ketu transited into the Leo-Aquarius axis in January of 2016 (download the Free E-Book and Forecast by Sign for this transit if you haven’t yet!). Throughout this time, we have experienced shadows and blockages coming up around the themes of the Leo-Aquarius axis. On a broad scale, this relates to the balance of personal power and universal service that we play out through society. On an individual level, it has raised questions around the house-themes of Leo and Aquarius in the personal Vedic birth chart.
We have been uncovering layers of our own karma through this time, and discovering where change is needed in our lives–either through a change in our actions or a change in our thoughts. Our personal challenges become most apparent during the eclipse windows, which have occurred this month, as well as during August and March of 2016. Though these windows can be difficult times, the power of the lunar nodes helps us to see where we are stuck. With self-awareness and observation it becomes less difficult, but when we are not paying attention or are clinging to our own attachments, the eclipses can feel like they are wreaking havoc on our lives.
Since this is the third and final pair of eclipses during this transit of Rahu and Ketu, it is a time for really reaching some clarity around the lessons being brought up over the last year-and-a-half. Eclipses do cause confusion and are inauspicious in general, but as we do the work of self-inquiry and practice astute awareness, we can gain insight and more light after going into the darkness of their shadows. The healing power behind Shatabisha nakshatra may present us with some different medicines, or practices, to assist in our evolutionary process, assisting us in learning how to flow better with the cosmic waters.
In addition to the healing energy of this nakshatra, we are receiving the powerful gift of deep meditation offered by the Shivaratri holiday. Maha Shivaratri (or Sivaratri) is “the great night of Lord Shiva,” celebrated in India and around the world each year on the 14th night of the waning Moon this month. This year it falls on the night of Friday, February 24th into Saturday the 25th, around the world (except for mid-Australia/Japan and Eastward, where it falls on the 25th/26th).
On Shivaratri, it is a common practice to stay up the whole night in meditation, fasting and praying. This commemorates the sacrifice made by Lord Shiva when he kept the poison that arose from the milk ocean in his throat in order to protect the entire creation. In this story, his wife Parvati held his throat to keep him from consuming the poison, and thus this holiday also commemorates the union of masculine and feminine forces, Shakti and Shiva, yin and yang. In many places this is represented by a celebration of Shiva and Parvati’s wedding, and one may see large statues of the two paraded about town and worshiped.
Shiva and Parvati represent the path towards awakening consciousness through the ascetic side of yoga, and the practices of tapas and renunciation. By renouncing food and sleep for one night, particularly on the night of Shivaratri, we can gain some of the benefit of the austerities that these two performed for aeons. Tapas, or austerities, are yogic practices of undergoing difficult situations in order to gain more patience, as well as deeper understanding that we are in fact the eternal soul and not the body-mind with which we normally identify.
On this Shivaratri, as we approach the transformative energy of the eclipse in Shatabisha, the opportunity for overcoming the challenges and shadows of our minds is great. The power of group meditation occurring all over the world also contributes to this. With the energy of Aquarius behind us, let us offer the fruits of our practice towards the peace and happiness of all beings on earth, and spread the benefit for the greater good.
Mantras for Maha Shivaratri:
Om Namah Shivaya (the panchakshari mantra – “I bow down to infinite consciousness”)
Tyagenaike Amrtatvamanashuhu (by renunciation alone, immortality is gained)
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