New Moon April 2021
The Moon and Sun join to make a New Moon at the very end of sidereal Pisces at 10:31 pm ET on the dark night of Sunday, April 11th. This will begin a lunar cycle in which the Sun spends most of his time in Aries, his sign of exaltation. Jupiter, one of the outer, slower-moving planets, has transited into sidereal Aquarius, breaking rank with Saturn who remains in Capricorn.
We enter another lunar cycle during which the Sun begins in one sign just two days before entering another, where he will spend most of the lunar cycle. Pisces is the last sign of the natural zodiac, the end, a place where we connect with the unseen world including the underworld itself. Aries, on the other hand, is a place of beginnings, the true springtime energy where the literal sunlight gives life to the world once again and things begin to grow outwardly. This cycle will connect these two worlds for us, bringing much of the subconscious into light as we begin to take on more activity during this season.
The Sun and Moon begin joined with a debilitated Mercury, which can make us pass up practicality in favor of hopes and dreams. Jupiter rules this femenine (inward-looking) water sign.
The Sun, Moon and Mercury are all in Revati nakshatra as we begin this Moon cycle. The final of the 27 Vedic nakshatras, this sign has to do with journeys, and is ruled by the deity Pushan, the protector of journeys, flocks and herds. We can imagine in particular the journey from life to death as this is the final journey that we all make. Revati means “the wealthy” and is also related to Mercury, Vishnu and Lakshmi. There is a strong association with animals and this nakshatra, and many people with planets here have a strong love of pets or animals.
Jupiter has moved from sidereal Capricorn into Aquarius, lightening his load as he is no longer in his sign of debilitation and joining the heavy presence of Saturn. Jupiter in Aquarius could stimulate some expansion in social programs, scientific innovations, and forward-thinking across society. This new position could stimulate some movement in your life depending on natal planetary positions and the current dasha (planetary period) and bhukti (sub-period) you are running according to your chart.
Mars will leave Taurus just hours after the New Moon, finally parting ways with Rahu, lessening some of the intensity that has built up around their conjunction the past couple of months. His movement will also break the Kala Sarpa cycles, although with only one outlier the nodal alignment can still bring some intensity to current events or those born with these placements in the birth chart.
This New Moon is followed by nine nights that are the springtime celebration of the goddess known as Chaitra Navaratri. These nights are celebrated in homage to the divine mother in her many forms, particularly Durga. This is not as largely celebrated as the fall-time Navaratri (Sharad or Maha Navaratri), but is also significant. This leads us up to Hanuman Jayanti which will be celebrated around the time of the next full Moon.
New Moon and Maha Shivaratri, March 2021
The Sun and Moon join near the end of sidereal Aquarius on the dark night of March 12th, with an exact alignment under the New Moon at 5:21 am ET on Saturday, March 13th. Mercury and Venus also join the Moon and Sun in Aquarius, while Saturn (with Jupiter in sidereal Capricorn) once again rules over 6 grahas at the time of the New Moon. Mars and Rahu continue their conjunction in sidereal Taurus, opposite Ketu in Sagittarius, forming a Kala Sarpa Yoga in the sky. Thursday night, the fourteenth night of the waning Moon, marks the Maha Shivaratri celebration this month. Sun and Moon begin this cycle in the Vedic nakshatra Purva Bhadrapada, an auspicious sign for spiritual advancement.
With the new lunar cycle beginning in Aquarius, the coming month may have a quirky and forward-thinking tone, and we may see some scientific advances this month. The Mars Rover landing actually occurred just days after the Sun had entered its Aquarius cycle. Aquarius is in fact very much about service to the greater good. With Saturn strong in his own sign, we could see many significant advances in social support structures right now.
Aquarius is known as Kumbha in Sanskrit, a word for “pitcher” or “vessel.” According to the Vedic texts, the sign Kumbha can be imagined as a man holding a pot, with deep-brown skin, standing in the water. We can see this Aquarian imagery in the sadhus of India (and its biggest ritual pilgrimage day, the Kumbha Mela), who make their lives an offering of service to society through their prayers and Saturnian austerities, while renouncing the individual self. In the Aquarius cycle, we think about how we can serve the whole.
Thursday night, March 11th in North America, the night prior to the Dark Moon night, is the fourteenth waning phase of the lunar cycle. During this month this night is celebrated as Maha Shivaratri. This is 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, as we recall two stories of great sacrifices that he made protect the entire creation.
One of these is the story of the gods and demons churning of the milk ocean 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, as a great and noble sacrifice. His wife, Parvati, however, held his throat so that he could not ingest it, thus saving him from being harmed by the poison.
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 foretold 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 to produce this heir. Shiva was not easily swayed, however, and it was only after Parvati became an ascetic and underwent great penance that he agreed to marry. They eventually produced their son Kartikkeya, who went on to slay the demon.
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 the 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.
Kala Sarpa Yoga
This year’s Kala Sarpa yoga cycles continue, as Rahu and Ketu appear to cut the sky in half with all planets to one side of the nodal axis. Kala Sarpa can be translated as “black snake” or the “serpent of time,” and intensifies subtle forces on all levels, including inner challenges as well as strengths and yogic combinations in a chart. Mars joins Rahu in Taurus, and tho he will transit out of Taurus and into Gemini in one month, technically breaking the cycle, the intensity brought on by the alignment can sometimes continue when only one planet has crossed to the other side of the sky.
The former “lucky-footed one” is the Vedic nakshatra (star-sign) where Sun and Moon begin this lunar cycle. This nakshatra bridges Aquarius and Pisces and is often represented by a funeral cot, symbolizing the transition from life into death, or ultimate liberation. It is ruled by Aja Epakada, the one-footed goat who is often associated with the image of Lord Shiva as Nataraj dancing on one foot, a fitting image for Maha Shivaratri.
Om Namah Shivaya!
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Full Moon January 2021
The full Moon peaks in sidereal Cancer at 2:16 pm EST on January 28th, opposite the Sun, Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus, all in sidereal Capricorn. This bright Moon illuminates the sign of the heart and the mother, while standing alone in the sky and receiving the aspects of three malefics (Sun, Saturn and Mars), as well as Jupiter and Venus. This alignment challenges us to let the heart shine with pure, unconditional love, while under the influences of stern authoritarianism, the fires of purification and courage, the conditional love of Venus, and the weakened inspiration of Jupiter. This quest is emphasized by Moon’s position in the Vedic nakshatra of Pushya, the nourisher. Read on for more explanation!
Full Moon in Cancer
The Sun traverses Capricorn this cycle, an earth sign ruled by Saturn that brings us into our power by instilling a sense of responsibility, hard work, and structure. It can feel like a lot of pressure sometimes, especially with Saturn transiting there as well, adding a strong, somber tone of maturity to our mental dialogue while he is here (all of last year and this). The opposite, Cancer, is where we find comfort, ease and an open heart, as if nuzzling into the arms of the mother. It is this sensation that is illuminated with the full Moon in Cancer, but, there is a lot of pressure coming from the other influencing planets that may make it feel difficult to stretch open those arms and receive the purity of heart that Cancer has to offer, at least without dismantling some of the entanglements that surround.
In Cancer, this full Moon stands alone, without any planets nearby. Though it is in its own home sign here and gains strength from that, there is a certain loneliness when Moon does not have any planets nearby. Furthermore, the Moon receives direct aspects from Jupiter (combust and debilitated, though neecha bangha), Saturn (sva, in his own sign), Sun, Venus, and Mars (also sva in his own sign of Aries).
The aspect from Mars in Aries can add fire, courage, and a sense of fight to our minds and hearts, that would prefer to be gentle with Moon in watery Cancer. The influence of Sun in direct aspect is what makes the Moon full, in fact, but is still a malefic that challenges us to purify ourselves, often through fire and heat, in order to reveal our pure essence and inner strength. Saturn’s direct aspect is strong because he is in his own sign… a position which has been wreaking havoc on the world through restriction and contraction over the last year. Saturn’s influence on the Moon limits the heart from expanding to its fullest, adding a weight of heaviness, a even a looming sense of doom, keeping us tethered to outward pressures and responsibilities when we wish to go inward, expanding into our inner sanctuary instead.
Jupiter’s presence and aspect does give some inspiration and hope, but even this is dampened by his debilitated position in Capricorn (though somewhat modified and elevated by the presence of Saturn… keeping us grounded to a healthy degree in our inspiration), and by his highly combust position only a fraction of a degree from the Sun (behind the Sun, from our perspective here on earth). That increases the Sun’s power of purification and asks us to burn away what does not serve in helping the heart achieve full openness and connection with the inner sanctity.
Venus’s aspect onto the Moon also influences the heart and mind slightly away from Cancer’s optimal goal of unconditional love, and brings in preferences, pleasures, and the sense of “deserving” something from those we love. Since the outside world often falters in fulfilling our sense of entitlement, Venus aspecting the Moon in Cancer can cloud that unconditional heart with a set of expectations that will create some guarding.
The Moon’s position in Pushya nakshatra continues this theme, asking us to examine unconditional parental love and seeking to find it despite difficult circumstances. Pushya literally means “the nourisher,” and is represented by the nourishing udder of a cow that offers so much sustenance.
It is ruled by the deity Brihaspati (Jupiter), and relates with the story of him adopting Budha (Mercury), the love-child born of Jupiter’s wife Tara and Chandra (the Moon). Despite circumstances, the sattvic Brihaspati loved the child as his own, setting an example of divine parentage without conditions. We must remember, however, that the human relationships of our limited selves, opening the heart without conditions can often result in feelings of disparate give and take—feeling one has been taken advantage of, had boundaries violated, or abuses of kindness and openness.
Our work on this full Moon is to dive as deeply into the heart as we can, and opening it within a safe place. We must strive to connect with the energy of the Divine Mother while examining all aspects of complication that surround our relationship with her (or with our own personal mothers, or fathers).
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New Moon and Solar Eclipse in Scorpio
The Sun and Moon come together on this Dark Moon night, joining near the end of sidereal Scorpio as they come towards a full conjunction at 11:17 am ET on December 14th for a New Moon in Scorpio. Their conjunction is also aligned closely enough with the south node, Ketu, that it will cause a total Solar Eclipse from 8:33 am through 1:53 pm ET, with the maximum eclipse at 11:13 am ET. The eclipse will only be visible from South America and small portions of Africa and Antarctica.
Total Solar Eclipse
In a total solar eclipse the Moon passes between the earth and the Sun, causing a shadow to appear over the Sun. This only occurs when Earth, Sun, and Moon are also closely aligned with the nodes, Rahu and Ketu, who are thought of as the shadow planets for this reason. These planets represent our deepest subconscious drivers. They are like our blind spots because we are not able to see them. During “eclipse season,” however, the shadows begin to become visible. This is a very important time of year to pay attention to any shadow work / inner demons / red flags that are arising for you. Great transformation is possible if we pay attention and do the work to honor what is being revealed.
This is the first set of eclipses to occur with the nodes in their new positions. Rahu and Ketu entered Taurus and Scorpio, respectively, in September, and will transit here for a year-and-a-half, creating three eclipse cycles on this axis along their way. Whatever house-axis sidereal Scorpio-Taurus is in your natal chart, and whatever planets you have there, will be affected greatly by this eclipse cycles and the ones coming over the next year. This is where you have the most work to do and may be facing the most challenges currently.
On a global level, we experience this eclipse elevating the apparent tension between our desire for material stability (Taurus) and overhauling change, surprises, and even loss (Scorpio). We may find ourselves more dependent upon or obsessed with one of these areas, while not allowing enough room for the other in our lives. In a personal chart analysis we can apply these ideas to whatever is affected in the natal chart.
New Moon in Scorpio, Sun cycle in Sagittarius
The total Solar Eclipse naturally coincides with the alignment of Sun and Moon, thus begins a new lunar cycle with Sun and Moon in Scorpio. As they are currently at the very end of sidereal Scorpio, the Sun will spend most of this cycle in Sagittarius, so we will experience a Sagittarian cycle with some Scorpion flavor. In the Sagittarius cycle we feel the radiant power of the Sun, and our inner power, fulfilled by acts of service and charity aligned with our highest beliefs. Sagittarius is a fire sign (a sign for action) ruled by Jupiter (principles, beliefs, and higher teachings). The Scorpio flavor will remind us that all actions and principles are also vulnerable to change, and this could allow us to find some growth around our inner-most core beliefs.
Jupiter-Saturn War & Total Conjunction
On December 21st, the winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will have an exact conjunction at 6 degrees 21 minutes of sidereal Capricorn, owned by Saturn himself. Though they align in the same sign every 20 years, this is the closest visible conjunction of the two in nearly 800 years. The last alignment was in May of 2000, a powerful transition point that ushered us into a new century, a new age of technology with the boom of the internet, and soon after a major change in the tone of society and world politics with the events of September 2001, including a major economic downturn.
The position of Saturn here in his home sign has put a lot of pressure on society already, and is largely related to the global pandemic and the continued constraint that we feel across the world and in our individual homes as well. With Jupiter entering Saturn’s sign, he attempts to bring some understanding, some learning, and some principles for us to work with as we navigate the stern imposition of Saturn in our lives. Can we learn anything from this? Can we check in with our beliefs and make sure that we are acting in accordance with them? Can we act in favor of these and in ways that are responsible towards our long-term goals, rather than frivolous?
The challenge is that, in Vedic thought, when two planets come very closely together, within one degree, it is considered a graha yuddha or planetary war. Who wins? Well, Jupiter is in fact much brighter in the sky, giving him a strong advantage at claiming our attention. But Saturn has proved incredibly strong right now being in his home sign of Capricorn. When two planets are at war, both will suffer to some degree, and their power in our lives may temporarily wane.
We may find that our principles, beliefs, and ideas don’t even feel like they are inspiring us or filling us with the faith we are seeking at the moment. And our efforts to stay strong, determined, and persevering through the shut down—and the other challenges in our lives— may feel depleted. Hold tight! The planetary war between these two runs from December 12th through December 30th.
Since this war is occurring in the 10th sign, hence the 10th house for a world chart, it relates strongly to government. The outright war for power between political figures in the U.S. may not subside until after December 30th, though we can admit it is hurting both sides and the governmental authority itself.
In our own lives, we may find things ruled by Jupiter and Saturn, the associated people, and the houses aligned with Scorpio, Taurus, and Capricorn may all be facing challenges during this month. Within all this there are learning opportunities offered by the planets, if we work to get to know them better and the highest purposes that they have to offer us.
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New Moon in Libra and Diwali 2020
The Sun and Moon will join at 29° sidereal Libra tonight, with exact alignment for a New Moon at 12:07 am EST. This Dark Moon night commemorates the Hindu holiday of Diwali, the festival of lights. Tonight will actually be the third but main night of the Diwali celebrations, which began on Dhanteras on November 12th. Be sure to light some candles tonight to celebrate light itself, as we move into the darkest part of the year in the north.
The Sun and Moon again join at the very end of one sign, sidereal Libra, before both moving into Scorpio later the same day. Hence we are beginning the cycle of the Sun in Scorpio, but flavored with a certain Libran energy. The Scorpio Sun cycle is a time that compels us to look deeply into our own deep well of emotion, as Scorpio is both a water and insect sign, driving us towards the flow of emotions that is trapped within our external protective shell. Ruled by Mars, the warrior planet, we can see Scorpio as a spiritual warrior, and this time of year is an important one for exploring our personal vulnerabilities and sensitive places that may need more strength, courage, and healing.
Flavored by the Libra position of Sun and Moon as we begin this cycle, this investigation may lean heavily towards studying how we behave in relationships, what drives us to find balance and compromise, what wounds we are protecting that are keeping us from enjoying the happiness and balance that Venus wants to offer us.
Remembering that while Sun is debilitated in Libra, our sense of strength or our literal health may be weak this month. We continue to contemplate what it takes to maintain our personal strength and not become depleted while also relating with others and seeking outer balance. This is a very important time of year to nourish ourselves, and our inner light, as the outer light is descending. You can also make some herbal tea to nourish yourself during this vata (cold and dry) season. The nature of the Scorpio cycle will show us where we carry inner imbalance that requires some more harmonizing and lightening.
The Sun and Moon join in Vishaka nakshatra, a sign that bridges the end of Libra and the beginning of Scorpio. The “two-branched” sign is ruled by two deities, Lord Indra, the chief of the Gods, and Lord Agni, fire personified. This sign can harness a lot of power and leadership ability, but only once we choose the proper direction. You may find yourself at a crossroads this month and need to call in your guides to help you to choose the right direction, after which a lot of success is possible. The animal symbol for Vishaka is the male tiger.
On the new Moon of the Hindu month of Ashwin (this month), we celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. The festival began this year on November 12th (North America), on the 13th waning Moon phase of the previous cycle. This day is known as Dhanteras, or Dhanvantari Tryodashi, the celebration of the birth of Lord Dhanvantari, the father of Ayurvedic medicine. If you practice any healing tradition, especially Ayurveda, it is a good day to give thanks and call in auspicious blessings to your healing path or practice. Diwali is strongly associated with the Goddess Laxmi, and is a powerful time to connect with her, calling in her blessings for both material and spiritual prosperity.
We celebrate Diwali while the days are getting noticeably shorter and darker, and it 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. Creating positive vibrations internally is the best way to begin growing and spreading them externally.
Diwali also commemorates Lord Ram’s and Sita’s return from exile after fourteen years (a 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 (opt for electronic tea lights if you’re in a fire danger zone!), inviting the highest light into our homes and lives. 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.
We are now entering the “eclipse season,” as we approach two eclipses that will occur November 30th and December 14th. With the nodes having recently moved onto their new axis—Rahu in Taurus and Ketu in Scorpio—this could activate some latent energy that has been lurking, unresolved in the shadows, in the areas of life that align with these two signs in your Vedic natal chart.
Be sure to watch for any disruptions, and any red flags, over the next month, and be sure not to make hasty decisions out of stress. Sadhana is very important, especially during the eclipses themselves, and doing inner work to investigate what is arising can serve in helping us to make important changes. This is the first eclipse cycle of three that will occur over the next year-and-a-half while the nodes transit this axis, so it is a jumping off point in seeing what work we need to do in these areas of our lives.
To see how the current transits affect and interplay with your chart and karma, you can request a personal reading here.