The Moon is waning towards total darkness as he approaches the Sun in late sidereal Libra. The dark Moon night of November 6th will precede the “new Moon” moment at 9:02 am PST on Wednesday, November 7th, when Sun and Moon align exactly in late Libra, in Vishakha nakshatra. This will begin a lunar cycle in the mood of Libra, and also bring in Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. With Venus already powerful in the sky right now, this lunar cycle will cause us to focus even deeper on relationships, harmony, and happiness in our lives, and examine closely how we seek to fulfill our desires and find love on the human plane.
Libra is called Tula in Sanskrit meaning “scale” and is depicted as such in both eastern and western astrology. The natural seventh sign, opposite Aries, Libra is where we recognize our reflections, seeing the other who is opposite to us, and learning how to travel through life balancing our individual instincts with our need to create harmonize with those around us, often people with opposite will or nature.
Venus is the ruler of Libra, and Venus governs the human nature within us that seeks pleasure and happiness. While Mars gives us an instinct to assert ourselves strongly and survive, Venus brings in awareness of our pleasure centers and what is sensually pleasing in our field or bodies. A large part of the happiness we seek comes in the form of other people, coinciding with Libra’s “seventh sign” placement.
The problem with other people, however, is that they don’t always want exactly what we want. If it is a loved one, family member, or someone with whom we need to deal on a regular basis, we begin to notice that if we meet our individual desires completely at the expense of their happiness, we won’t actually be happy in the end. We need to learn how to compromise some so that both parties will be happy enough with a situation (and this is easier said than done). The flip-side is when we over-compromise, putting another’s desires entirely before our own, and ending up just as miserable as if we had completely ignored theirs.
During this Libra cycle, Libra’s lord, Venus, is joining the Sun and Moon from the onset. He is strong as he travels through his own sign (sva), and even stronger due to his retrograde position (albeit only visible for a short time in the morning currently, since he is traveling so closely to the Sun). This position will give us extra support as we try to navigate the waters of compromise, and insight to be able to reflect back on what we are doing to try to attain happiness. It will help us to see what isn’t working, and gives us the opportunity to try to forge a new path moving forward.
It’s important to look at our own part in conflict and disharmony, and adopt a new attitude or method towards finding happiness and harmony. Venus comes to a halt and turns direct on the 15th, so be sure to take notice of all the insights being offered now and make your plan for how you will move forward.
The Sun and Moon are coming together at 21° sidereal Libra for this New Moon, which aligns with the Vedic star-sign known as Vishakha, “the forked branches.” This star is sometimes represented by a set of forked branches, but often as a triumphal archway, indicating that success is possible after doing the difficult work of deciding between two paths. This is even often interpreted as a marriage archway. This star is ruled by the deities Indra and Agni, the chief of the gods and the fire deity, respectively, and can give us quite a bit of power and determination. Under Jupiter’s influence, this nakshatra can be helpful in learning to overcome conflicts and refining our method of compromise and success. Be aware, however, there can be some self-righteousness here due to Jupiter’s and Indra’s influences.
The Sun is considered neecha or naturally debilitated as he travels through Libra. Since the Sun relates to our sense of strength and vitality, and Libra is the sign of compromising (or over-compromising) with others, it is natural that our individual power can sometimes feel lessened while we elevate the level of energy and attention we give to those around us. Caring for others doesn’t necessarily translate to depleted health, but it can when we overemphasize the outer world and others to the point of neglecting our own self-care. This is a very important time of year to nourish ourselves, and our inner light, as the outer light is descending. Venus’ coincidence in Libra can help us to navigate this balancing act.
Hindu culture recognizes this descending light outside, and it is on this New Moon (in the Hindu month of Ashwin) that we celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. It is a time to invite more light into our lives, our hearts, and our world. This festival celebrates the symbolic victory of light over darkness. At this time we commemorate 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. It is also a powerful time to connect to the Goddess Lakshmi, calling in her blessings for both material and spiritual prosperity.
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. 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.
Monday, November 5th precedes Diwali with the holiday known as Dhanteras or Dhanvantari Tryodashi (commemorating the birth of Lord Dhanvantari). It is the thirteenth day of the waning Moon in the Vedic month of Ashwin. Lord Dhanvantari is known as the “father of Ayurveda” and the “physician of the Gods.” (Ayurveda is the system of natural medicine from India that is a sister science to yoga and Jyotish.) If you practice any healing tradition, especially Ayurveda, this is a good day to give thanks and call in auspicious blessings to your healing path or practice.
This day also marks Dhanteras, the first day of the Diwali festival. It commemorates the day that Lakshmi emerged from the milk ocean in Vedic lore. In India, it is customary to purchase metals on this day — anything from jewelry to new statues to kitchenware (excluding iron), especially silver and gold — as a part of celebrating Lakshmi and calling in more prosperity. The metals can then be offered to your altar and will absorb and amplify the benefits of worship performed over the few days of Diwali.
After six long months of conjunction in sidereal Capricorn, Mars and Ketu are finally separating. On November 5th Mars leaves Capricorn and crosses over into Aquarius. This has been a complicated transit, as Mars journeyed through his sign of exaltation, strengthening our courage and will, but was simultaneously plagued by Ketu’s fear and confusion.
With a retrograde stint topped with a set of three eclipses in the summer, we had a lot of time to try to understand our deepest fears and how they influence our courage and will (especially in areas of your life ruled by Mars or aligned with Capricorn). Moving forward, we will feel some of the pressure lift from these areas, and hopefully we were able to glean a lot of learning from the visible shadows presented throughout this transit.
Personal readings are available here to help you to better understand your relationship with each planet and how the current transits may affect you.
The Moon and the Sun align again this Sunday, April 15th at 6:57 pm PDT, in the early degrees of sidereal Aries. They join in the Vedic nakshatra called Ashwini to begin this lunar cycle, the first of the 27 Vedic signs just as Aries is the first of the 12 major zodiac constellations. This new Moon night is the perfect time for planting the seeds of what you want to grow in the coming months.
Aries is naturally a place of beginnings, a fire sign ruled by the energetic Mars, who helps us to move towards what we need to survive. With Venus also in Aries this week, this new Moon will compel us to really go for our desires, using Mars’ strength to bring what we want into being. We are likely to feel more physically strong this month, as Sun transits Aries, his sign of exaltation. As the Sun relates to purification, this is also a great time to purify ourselves, physically, mentally and spiritually. Starting a new exercise regime, sadhana (spiritual practice), or cleanse is likely to have more traction if you begin it this week. Choose your actions wisely, as the direction we move under the new Moon of the Ram has a powerful momentum and can be difficult to change.
The new activities we begin have an added power due to the Sun and Moon’s positions within Aries, as they align with the nakshatra Ashwini at the beginning of this cycle. Three Vedic nakshatras (star-signs) bridge the larger sign of Aries: Ashwini, Bharani, and part of Krittika. Ashwini being the first of all 27 nakshatras, there is the most momentum here for new ventures. Furthermore, Ashwini is known as “the horsewoman,” is ruled by the Ashwini Kumaras, the horse-headed twins of Vedic mythology. They bring a strong horsepower to any planets or activities influenced by this nakshatra. They are known as the physicians of the gods, and carry a potent healing energy as well.
Akshaya Tritiya – Day of Abundance
Three days after the new Moon in Aries, we come upon a special day of the year known as Akshaya Tritiya, on April 18th. On the third waxing lunar day (the tritiya phase) of the Aries cycle, the Moon transits Rohini, within Taurus, his placement of exaltation. With both the Sun and the Moon exalted at the same time, a portal of abundance is opened. Across India and the Hindu world this is seen as an auspicious day for new beginnings, marriages, and investments of all kinds, especially in gold or golden items. Akshaya refers to the idea of never-diminishing prosperity, so investments made on this day are expected to have great returns.
Jupiter adds some grace to activities we begin on or around this new Moon, as he gazes at the Sun-Moon-Venus conjunction from nearly directly across the sky, in sidereal Libra. Jupiter is powerful at this time, and could be considered a “full Jupiter.” He is in retrograde motion, nearly as close to the earth as he gets, and he is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun, so is incredibly bright in the sky (just as the Moon is brightest and “full” when he is directly opposite the Sun from earth). Jupiter brings the power of inspiration, grace, luck, and expansion, so even though he is retrograde, his proximity to earth and his brightness will add these qualities to the endeavors we undertake at this time.
Mercury, Mars & Saturn
Mercury appears more-or-less stationary at the time of this new Moon, having just turned from retrograde to stationary direct in the early morning of April 15th. He also continues to transit Pisces, his sign of debilitation, but without the elevating presence of Venus that was there some weeks ago, so issues of communication and mental acuity could be a bit murky at the moment.
Mars and Saturn continue their conjunction in the sign of sidereal Sagittarius, but as Mars is now moving away from Saturn there is less hostility than in their war of two weeks ago. You may still feel immediate urges at-odds with your long-term goals, or a conflict between the things ruled by Mars and Saturn in your natal chart. The two will no longer be sharing a sign once Mars moves on into Capricorn (his sign of exaltation) on May 2nd, where he’ll transit for a whopping six months. Look for my Mars-in-Capricorn forecast to see how this could affect you (you can join my free mailing list here).
In honor of Akshaya Tritiya, I’m offering 20% off natal chart readings from now through the 19th! Use coupon code AKSHAYA at checkout.
The Moon waxes toward fullness with the Full Moon in Virgo this Friday night, with the Moon coming fully opposite the Sun on March 31st, at 5:37 am PST. The full Moon culminates at 16° sidereal Virgo. There’s a screenshot below from an astronomy app to show you where you can identify the Moon this Friday night into Saturday morning. This part of the ecliptic is associated with the Vedic nakshatra called Hasta, the hand, which can be identified around the constellation Corvus, just below Virgo.
Full Moon in Virgo
We began this lunar cycle with Sun and Moon together in Pisces, driving our consciousness towards its deep waters, fishing out the dreams that lay buried, as we vision what is most important to us in the coming months. With the Moon now opposite Pisces, in Virgo, we can bring our consciousness out of the ethers and more fully into our bodies, as the Moon is illuminated in this grounded earth sign. Both Virgo and Pisces are dual-nature signs, providing the flexibility for us to shift things around when necessary, and to root down and stay put when there is work to be done.
The fertile, feminine earth sign of Virgo is a perfect place to plant the seeds of our lives for the coming season. Virgo draws our focus and attention to what work we can do in the material plane, helping us to look at the details that we will need to manage in order to fulfill the hopes and dreams that have arisen. Ruled by Mercury, the planet of the intellect, Virgo’s full Moon assists in analyzing what it will take to bring our inspiration into manifested form.
The Vedic nakshatra where this Full Moon lies is especially handy in guiding us on how to craft our dreams into realities. Hasta, known as “the hand,” correlates with the middle degrees of Virgo, and symbolizes all that we do with our hands, or our handiness. There is a power here for creating, and any skill that takes a certain amount of dexterity, whether physical or mental. Under this full Moon, call on the power of the divine hands to enter you and help you to mold your creations into being.
Just hours after this full Moon, Mars approaches Saturn so closely that the two will be within one degree, and in a planetary war, through April 4th. As this happens, the areas of life ruled by both Mars and Saturn in your chart could be under duress this week. Their exact conjunction is around 8:28 am PST on April 2nd. In general, our impulsive instincts could feel at war with our patience and ability to stand strong in our commitments, with Mars coming through slightly brighter in his appearance.
Mercury Retrograde, Debilitated, and Combust
Our Mercurial nature (and those ruled by Mercury) could also be feeling challenged this weekend, with Mercury highly combust (within 3° of the Sun) from Saturday through Monday. This is while he is already in apparent retrograde motion, and traveling through his sign of debilitation, Pisces. In this scenario, our pragmatic nature, sense of humor, and ability to communicate may all seem a little bit lost in the current. Remember this when you’re going over your facts and details, and don’t let hopes and desires skew your analytical ability (watch those generous tax deductions you may be taking). Mercury will be retrograde all the way through April 15th, so after this weekend there’s a good chance to check over some of your numbers again… though he won’t move out of the optimistic Pisces until May 9th.
Hanuman Jayanti (and other holidays)
The purnima Full Moon phase this month indicates Hanuman Jayanti in the Hindu festival calendar, the celebration of the birth of Lord Hanuman. Hanuman embodies the highest form of devotion, and shows us the incredible strength that emerges from within when we practice great faith, humility, and service. In addition to traditional pujas (prayer ceremony), you can chant, sing, meditate, and especially, find some way to be of service, in order to honor Hanuman on this full Moon. The most fitting mantra/song is the Hanuman Chaleesa.
Marked by the first full Moon after the spring Equinox, this full moon marks the weekend for Easter and Passover as well, which are also determined by the lunar calendar.
Jai Jai Jai Hanuman!
And in case you missed it, Jupiter is now retrograde, and your sign’s free forecast is available HERE.
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The planetary energy is all focused around Aquarius right now, as Sun and Moon join both Venus and Mercury there on Wednesday night, a dark Moon night that will bring in a new lunar cycle as well as a partial solar eclipse. The three outer planets, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, all cast their gazes on this eclipse through their respective aspects onto Aquarius. The nodes, Rahu and Ketu, influence this New Moon via their eclipsing affect (though they are still transiting the Cancer-Capricorn axis).
The exact time of the New Moon in Aquarius will be at 1:05 pm PST, on Thursday, February 15th. The Moon and Sun will converge in Dhanishta nakshatra at this time, which is the sign of “the wealthy,” showing us our potential to thrive in life, and also associated with music and the steady beat of the cosmic drum. A partial solar eclipse occurs simultaneously, though mostly visible only from Antarctica, from 10:55 am to 2:47 pm PST (18:55 to 22:47 UT), peaking at 12:51 pm PST (20:51 UT).
With so much energy converging around Aquarius, this eclipse and the coming month will draw our focus towards something larger than ourselves—the greater good, and our potential to create thriving communities around us. Aquarius is ruled by the planet Saturn, who makes us think about the long-term, the bigger picture, and the commitments and hard work that are needed to take us to our goals. As the active, yang, or masculine expression of Saturn, Aquarius is where we are willing to move our efforts outwards, towards long-term goals that affect the world around us. Under an Aquarian mindset we become willing to work for social equality, planetary and even universal harmony. Community values become more important than the individual, and we find ourselves happy to become part of and of service to a greater cause.
Under Dhanishta nakshatra, the Vedic constellation within Aquarius where this New Moon occurs, we strive to step into beat with the cosmic rhythm. The symbol for this nakshatra, “the wealthiest,” is the drum, often associated with the damaru (hand-drum) of Nataraj, Shiva in the form of the cosmic dancer. There is a universal rhythm that plays through, behind, and around our existence, that goes beyond our individual desire to forge our own path and dance to the beat of our own drum, as they say. When we desire to come into alignment with the cosmic rhythm, and surrender to the greater divine pulse that calls from within, we may actually find ourselves happier than when we were attempting to harness power through a more narrow vision.
Five Planets Influencing
With Venus and Mercury joining in Aquarius, our desires and intellect may also more easily align with this broader vision. Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are also all casting their drishti (“glance,” or aspect) on Aquarius, and the Sun, Moon, Mercury and Venus. This is due to the special aspects that these planets cast according to Jyotish, different from those in Western astrology. Saturn aspects the third house from himself (and the tenth), Mars the fourth (and the eighth), and Jupiter the fifth (and the ninth). With their influence, our actions, principles, and committed nature are also all aimed at the Aquarian concepts of universal duty, connection, and service.
Although the nodes are aligned with Cancer and Capricorn, and this New Moon occurs in Aquarius, Ketu is close enough to the Sun and Moon now that it will cause a partial solar eclipse on Thursday. Although this eclipse may not seem as dramatic as the recent ones that were visible in their totality, it will nevertheless stir the shadow energy of the nodes, and compel us to do some work on ourselves and our lives, or else feel the disturbing effects that eclipses can bring.
With the Sun being eclipsed in Aquarius and Dhanishta, we may feel extremely cut off from our individual power, which can really highlight our human need for community support, and service. When we realize that “I” the individual is not able to solve all our problems, or that personal gain means little without friends to share it with, our place as part of a larger network begins to seem more important. You may also feel cut off from whatever in life is represented by Aquarius in your individual natal chart (or by any planets there), or may have some difficulty (urging you towards transformation) in that area of life. (Free Eclipse Forecast for those on my free mailing list).
This eclipse may show us where we have been neglecting community engagement, public service, or social networking, and if we aren’t willing to look at that, the lessons of the eclipse could be painful. Whether this is a new realization, or even if social involvement is already a large part of your life, this eclipse could be revelatory and transformational, showing you (and your friends) some innovative ways to take your community vision to the next level.
Tuesday night, the night before the Dark Moon night, is a prime time to dig deep and lay the groundwork for some deep insights and personal growth following Thursday’s eclipse. Tuesday brings Maha Shivaratri, the “great night of Lord Shiva,” in Hindu tradition. It falls on the 14th phase of the waning Moon this month (check here for your local time), and is perhaps the most auspicious night of the year for doing sadhana (spiritual practice). It is traditional on this night to stay up all night fasting, chanting, praying, and meditating.
This holiday honors Lord Shiva, the great ascetic, and particularly two stories of great sacrifices that were made protect the entire creation. One of these comes from the story of the churning of the milk ocean, which the gods and demons were doing in order to release the nectar of immortality. Before the nectar came up, however, a poison came up first. (This is similar to when we do spiritual practice and begin our path of self-inquiry, and negative tendencies often come to light first, which can be a painful experience. Similarly, during a physical fast or cleanse, toxins can be shaken loose and released first, causing a healing crisis before we continue healing into a freer, happier state of being.) When the poison came up from the milk ocean, Lord Shiva consumed it so that it would not engulf humanity, the first story of great sacrifice. His wife, Parvati, held his throat however, so that he could not ingest it, thus saving him in turn.
Maha Shivaratri also commemorates the wedding of Shiva and Parvati, which also stemmed from great sacrifice made for the benefit of all humanity. It was said that after his first wife, Sati, perished, Shiva was fully devoted only to his sadhana, meditating for aeons in isolation and renouncing the world. Then the demon Tarakasura began running amock on earth, threatening all of humanity. Brahma fortold that only Shiva’s child could defeat Tarakasura, so the gods devised a plan for Sati to reincarnate as Parvati, and win over her Lord to marriage once again. He was not easily swayed, however, and it was only after Parvati became an ascetic and underwent great penance that he agreed to marry.
Thus, this holiday is celebrated through the penance of fasting, forgoing food, water, and sleep, for one night, and simultaneously celebrating the union of Lord Shiva and Parvati, or the masculine and feminine energies of creation, that allows this dance of life to continue. It is an apt time to feel the forces of Aquarius upon us, which compel us to consider our role in society, and in the universe, and what personal sacrifices we can make for the greater good. Even if you’re not able to stay up the whole night, any amount of devotional practice, serviceful sacrifice, or chanting of Om Namah Shivaya on this night can have beneficial affects that are magnified greater than on any other night.
Personal readings and Eclipse readings available here.
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.
Maha Navaratri 2017 begins today! In this important Hindu holiday, we celebrate the Goddess through “the great nine nights” (nav = nine, ratri = night). This festival will run through September 30th, the first ten days of this new lunar cycle. Goddess, Devi, Shakti, Durga, Divine Mother—the many names and forms all represent the dynamic and fluid feminine power that enlivens all of existence.
She is the creatrix, the warrioress, the nurturer, the purifyer, the protector. While she’s in the innocent and fertile maiden so is she the wise and learned crone. Both the nurturing mother, and the one who gives “tough love.” The impassioned lover, the devoted bhakta, the disciplined yogini. We see Goddess appear through us in innumerable manifestations. Through her many forms she teaches us and offers us countless blessings–love, compassion, courage, learning, discipline, surrender, success, enlightenment, and bliss. This festival is a time for celebrating the supreme feminine power in all her glory, and the many blessings she bestows upon us.
As with most Hindu celebrations, this festival correlates with the lunar calendar, and thus begins on the first day of the waxing Moon after the New Moon of September 19th. The celebration is through the “nine nights” of 21st through 29th, and into the eleventh morning known as Vijayadashami, “the day of victory,” on September 30th in some places (because of the way the lunar phases correlate with the solar days… Check the Vedic panchanga for your city to see the exact dates for Navaratri where you are.). Worship during Navaratri is most generally dedicated to Goddess in the form of Durga, the demon-slayer, but there is much nuance and variation to practice and forms of celebration throughout India. Above all, Navaratri is a community celebration of the Divine Mother, and the love, abundance and protection she gives.
There are many Navaratri celebrations throughout the year, but the fall-time Navaratri is the most widely celebrated, and is thus called Maha Navaratri – “the great nine nights”. It correlates with the time of the harvest, a time to give thanks for the abundance of the year’s work. Grains and crops are often offered to Devi as part of the celebrations. Ritualistic worship (puja) typically occurs in homes and temples throughout the nine nights and into the tenth morning of celebration.
The Many Forms of Goddess
In Kerala and other places in India, the first three nights of worship are dedicated to Durga (the invincible), the next three to Lakshmi (Goddess of prosperity), and the final three to Sarasvati (Goddess of learning). Durga, also celebrated as her incarnation of Kali, helps us to destroy and remove the negative tendencies in our minds and hearts, freeing us from the obstructions to our spiritual and material pursuits. Lakshmi helps us to cultivate positive qualities like compassion and devotion, and leads us towards both spiritual and material prosperity. Sarasvati assists us in attaining knowledge and wisdom, through the illumination of our consciousness. She aids in awakening sattva, the quality of purity, and the flow of prana, the vital breath. After removing inner and outer obstacles and cultivating prosperity through virtuous qualities, our devotion, service, and practice help us to attain a state of peace, bliss, and oneness.
In the Kali Kula (Kali school of worship) in northeastern India, Sarasvati is worshiped on the first three nights, followed by Lakshmi on the next and then Kali/Durga on the last three. Sarasvati, Lakshmi, and Kali/Durga (Kali emerged from Durga) are also known as the consorts of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The Goddesses, therefore, provide the shakti to the cosmic processes of creation, preservation, and death (transformation), similar to their male counterparts. Consequently, worship in this manner is dedicated to the cycles of life and Mother nature, through birth, then sustenance, then death. Death is not a complete stop, but allows for the regeneration of energy into a new cycle once again.
9 Forms of Durga
Throughout India, the nine nights of Navaratri are often dedicated to 9 different incarnations of Durga, allowing the worship of many different aspects of Shakti in a gradual evolution. You can read the stories and significance of these 9 goddesses here (or click on Goddess name below), or a more a brief introduction, here:
“Daughter of the mountain”; creative energy, muladhara (root chakra), awakening; Awaken your connection with Goddess today or initiate a new venture, calling on Shailputri for new beginnings.
The ascetic; tapas, discipline, devotion, strength, wisdom, creative abundance; Good day for fasting and meditation, connection with svadhistana (sacral chakra).
Warrioress; protection, courage, grace, manipura (solar plexus); Destroy your internal obstacles by offering them to Chandraghanta.
4. Kushmanda (September 23rd)
Creatrix of the “cosmic egg”; strength, health, happiness, success, relationships; Connect with the vital Sun energy and the anahata (heart chakra) today.
“Mother of Skanda/Kartikeya”; motherly love, nourishment, protection, purity; Call on divine truth through the vishuddha (throat chakra), invoking Skandamata to lead you towards victory.
6. Katyayani (September 25th)
Warrioress who destroyed Mahishasura (the buffalo demon); victory, devotion, strength, removing obstacles; Meditate on these qualities of Goddess through the ajna chakra (third-eye) today.
7. Kalaratri (September 26th)
“Dark/black night,” representing a fierce form of Durga/Kali; darkness, death, surrender, dissolution of pain; Connecting with the sahasrara (crown chakra), remember that Divine Mother offers love, compassion, and many blessings even in hard times. Even in the midst of apparent darkness, and helps us to go beyond the boundaries of the material body-mind and connect with spirit.
8. Mahagauri (September 27th-28th)
“Great white goddess”; detachment, purification, renewal, protection, virtue; Through detachment and devotion, we emerge purified, shining and radiant after surrendering in the dark night. Rejuvenative herbs and foods are good today.
Goddess of “siddhis”; magical, spiritual or mystic powers and blessings, fulfillment of desires, devotion, divine union; Invite Goddess to reveal her presence to you everywhere and in every moment.
Personal Practice Ideas for Navaratri
If possible, it is great to reduce our workload and gather with community at local temples or places of worship. We can also create a little time and space at home and conduct some personal practices to celebrate Goddess energy. Dive into your own heart to connect with the inner Goddess in the ways that resonate most with you! Here are some ideas to do at home or with a group throughout the nine nights of Navaratri:
Create a sacred space, a Durga altar, or a Goddess altar. Even if you already have one, you can refresh it in some way or rearrange it specifically for Navaratri. Include images or statues of the Goddess(es) you have a relationship with. This could be according to one of the groups of forms above.
Even if you don’t have much time, dedicate at least a few minutes each day to connecting with the Divine Mother in front of your altar, calling her energy into your life and being.
Write in your journal about what qualities of Goddess you perceive and connect with. What aspects would you like to strengthen or to cultivate more deeply? Write any and all prayers and offer them to the form of Goddess that appeals to you.
Offer light to illuminate Goddess’s power, helping her to shine more brightly into the world and your life. You can light a candle by the altar and keep it burning when you’re at home. You can even keep an electronic tealight on symbolically when you are away.
Offer flowers or grains (even a small dish of dried rice) to celebrate Devi in the form of mother nature, fertility, the abundance of the harvest, and the cycle of life.
Offer incense, bells, water, or food if you feel called, by placing it on the altar, or mentally offering it to Goddess throughout the day. You can also offer something symbolic of your own work or practice, whatever you have been cultivating for harvest through the year. In offering this you surrender the fruits of your efforts to the Divine Mother.
Some people choose to fast in some variation, if this is something you have practiced before. This might include fasting during the day, fasting with only milk or fruit, or abstaining from alcohol and non-vegetarian foods during Navaratri.
Chanting the Devi Mahatmyam, a verse to the Goddess, is a common practice during the nine-night festival. You can also chant another Goddess mantra or songs that are special to you and your relationship with Devi.
Jai Ma Durga!
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