Where & When
The Total Solar Eclipse coming this Monday, August 21st, 2017, will cast a shadow over the Sun, obscuring it from view from coast to coast across the United States. The map below (from timeanddate.com where you can see a video visual of the eclipse path) shows the path of the eclipse, where the red line in the middle are the areas where the Sun will appear 100% obscured. The full eclipse will occur from 9:48am PDT to 1:02pm PDT, with the maximum eclipse at 11:25 am (partial eclipse visibility is from 8:46 am to 2:04 pm).
This will be the first time since 1918 that a total solar eclipse has fully crossed the geography of the United States, and it’s been since 1979 that a total solar eclipse was visible here. You may remember the eclipses of 1994 or 2012 — these were annular solar eclipses, during which a thin ring of the Sun remained visible behind the Moon’s shadow. In the direct path of a total eclipse of the Sun, the Moon will obscure the Sun entirely, leaving only the glowing corona (like the atmosphere) of the Sun visible. Jupiter, Mars and Venus will become visible in the sky, to the east (Jupiter) and west of the eclipse. The next annular solar eclipse across the US comes in 2023, the next total solar eclipse visible from parts of the US will be in 2024, and the next total solar eclipse to cross from coast to coast next comes in 2045.
The Vedic Mythology of Eclipses
If you’re paying attention to Vedic astrologers (or many other traditions), you’ve probably heard by now that eclipses are inauspicious. Imagine living in ancient times and experiencing this phenomenon of the Sun quickly disappearing, midday, when you didn’t know it was coming. Even though astronomical understanding has advanced, the energetics of this abnormal and ominous occurrence are still present, and even modern Hindu tradition (and others) advise against being outside during the eclipse. It is thought that the atmosphere is tainted by the negative energy of the nodes, and so it is best not to eat, drink, or even breathe the air outside during the hours surrounding this celestial event.
Eclipses occur when the north and south nodes of the Moon (astronomical points on the ecliptic, known as Rahu and Ketu in Vedic thought), align with the Sun, Moon, and Earth. The shadow that we see is related to demonic energy in Vedic mythology, portrayed by the origin story of Rahu and Ketu. This ancient tale depicts the gods and demons working together to churn the ocean of milk (similar to our pursuits under the milky way), to obtain the nectar of immortality. When it finally arose, Vishnu, a god, began passing it out to all the other gods, but cleverly skipped over the demons, lest they attain immortality as well.
One shrewd demon disguised himself and slipped into the line, and imbibed one drop of the immortal nectar, before the Sun and the Moon ratted him out and Vishnu cut the demon’s head off with his discus. That one drop allowed the demon to obtain immortality, however, and he took his place in the heavens alongside the other gods (the other planets are also deified). The head became Rahu, and the tail became Ketu, and now they are forever pursuing the Sun and the Moon to take their revenge. They conquer the bright, sattvic orbs occasionally, and this is when we see eclipses.
Astrological Energy of this Eclipse
The solar eclipse coincides with the New Moon, where the Sun and the Moon are exactly aligned from the perspective of earth (which actually occurs at 11:30 am to be exact). They come together in sidereal Leo, in the Vedic nakshatra known as Magha, “the mighty.” Magha is symbolized by a throne and relates to positions of power, government and authority. In this case they are closely accompanied by Rahu, who will be right on the cusp of Leo and Cancer during the eclipse.
The nodes don’t just embody “demonic” energy in terms of terrible, external, magical ghouls that are out to get us. The idea of demons in Vedic thought is really a metaphor for our inner demons—the shadows, challenges, and vasanas that we carry as living human beings. They represent the parts of us that are most subconscious, and the least understood. They show the things that we are most trying to learn from and integrate in our lives. We all have Rahu and Ketu placed somewhere in our natal charts (the map of the planets and constellations at the time of your birth), and this tells us about some of our biggest challenges, where we will seek growth throughout life.
We also all have had Rahu and Ketu transiting Leo and Aquarius since January 2016, compelling us to grow and look at our shadows in those particular areas of our lives. This axis in the zodiac teaches us to integrate personal power, and how we use it for greed or leadership (Leo), with universal service, and how we can act for the long-term benefit of many, without extinguishing our own light (Aquarius). It has been a quest for us to better reflect on how we wield power, and when we think of others, and to learn to harmonize and balance our self-love with universal love. Neither can be of service without the other. (We’ve also been working on balancing these two within the specific areas of our lives governed by Rahu and Ketu in our personal charts — Free Forecast Here).
This eclipse is bringing us towards a huge culmination of the lessons that have arisen in the last year-and-a-half. When the shadows of Rahu and Ketu become visible during eclipses, our inner shadows become visible and we are better able to do the personal work on ourselves with the tools we have acquired to do so. Although it is a great growth opportunity, the malefic and demonic nature of the nodes can still be quite tumultuous, and eclipse periods (the month surrounding a pair of eclipses, such as this month), can feel quite stressful and intense, especially if we are not ready to see or experience the areas that need shifting in our inner and outer worlds. Whether we are ready or not, there will often be major shifts.
This Eclipse and the USA
With this total solar eclipse hitting the entirety of the US harder than anywhere else, it’s possible that there will be some major shifts here compared to anywhere else in the world. We have already seen the intense, tumultuous energy stirring up the atmosphere and causing widespread uprising and violence in the country this month. Leo in general is the sign of government, and Magha nakshatra has to do with the seat of the one in power, and we can see that the POTUS’s power is being shaken and is facing intense aggravation right now. The last year-and-half has had the country in an uproar over its government, more so than usual, due to Rahu’s transit of Leo, which was also accompanied by Jupiter throughout most of 2016, further amplifying the extremism. With this major eclipse over the US right now, we are being called to see the darkest elements of power and the way it can be wielded. Rahu’s position in the difficult gandanta zone at the end of Cancer adds even more potency to his influence and more potential for serious impact.
Furthermore, this eclipse is also directly affecting the lagna (the first house, or the rising sign), of the current POTUS. Whenever an eclipse affects your lagna, you will experience its effects most directly and intensely. The transit of Rahu here over the last year-and-a-half intensely amplified his already aggrandized sense of self. Having Leo lagna in general will give someone a strong sense of their own power. His ruling planet, the Sun, is joined with Rahu in the 10th house, giving him a strong presence in the public eye, but also a confused or distorted sense of self, because Rahu brings confusion wherever he joins. It is a placement for achieving a degree of power or leadership, through business or government, but also shows that the way other people see him is characterized by the darkness of Rahu.
With this eclipse coming within one degree of his Mars, the planet of strength and courage, he may be doubting this power a bit at the moment. Saturn is still in Scorpio, transiting his natal Moon, putting a lot of pressure on the mind and emotions. It’s also aspecting his Rahu and Sun in the 10th, and his Mars and lagna, putting intense pressure on his personal and public personas as well. It is quite possible with this eclipse that we could see some major identity breakdown or shift as he tries to handle all the negativity and shadows revealed by the nodes. The authority that was amplified by Rahu’s transit since last year may be coming to an end. The shadow planet is now transiting into Cancer, which is his 12th house, the place of loss. Rahu’s transit of someone’s 12th can be incredibly difficult, bringing the energy of solitude and isolation, which can result in such things as institutionalization or being outcast.
If you have planets in the 12th house in your natal chart, or are also experiencing a transit there, the best thing to do is to try to activate the higher manifestations of the 12th; these include meditation, going inward, taking retreats, spiritual practice, self-inquiry, investigating the dream state, and practicing devotion and surrender to a higher power.
A Wave of Compassion on the Horizon
Just as the Rahu transit of Leo has amplified the quest for personal power over the last two years, the Rahu transit of Cancer that is beginning now will increase the sensitivity of our emotions and bring more focus to the heart center. This gives the potential for motherly compassion to take a more central role in our lives on the broad scale as well as the individual. Rahu intensifies the energy wherever he transits and also drives our focus there. As he goes through Cancer for the next year-and-a-half, emotions will be magnified, especially around the time of the eclipses.
Though this could help to open the floodgate of the heart, the shadow planet also represents confusion, so there will be a lot for us to work out here, and some possible missteps along the way. As Ketu transits the opposite sign of Capricorn, we will learn to harmonize the part of ourselves that is emotional and intuitive, with the part that is practical and responsible. This will be the collective lesson we approach as a society on the whole. Individually, we will be integrating this type of balance into our personal lives, in the specific areas of your life indicated by Cancer and Capricorn in your individual Vedic natal chart. Free forecast on what this means for your sign are coming soon to the free mailing list, so be sure to sign up if you aren’t on it already!
Retrograde Mercury and Planets Surrounding the Eclipse
Mercury is currently in retrograde motion and is closely joining this eclipse, at 14° of sidereal Leo and leaning towards the eclipse point. Whenever Mercury is retrograde, we tend to backtrack a lot around details and communication, as well as look more closely at these things for what we may have missed before. Joining this power- and government-oriented eclipse, we are seeing a lot of backtracking and close scrutinization of the words and language of the “leader.” There is a lot of revisionist history going on as well.
Magha, the nakshatra where this eclipse falls, is associated with the deities called the “Pitras,” referring to our ancestors and forefathers. There is a close look at these figures accompanying the tumult of the moment. With retrograde Mercury so close at hand, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some close examination and perhaps revision or modification to some laws and documents of old stimulated by this eclipse. Now is also a time to speak up about what power and leadership mean to you, especially if you missed any chance to do so before.
Saturn’s serious and discerning gaze is also falling on the Sun and Moon during this eclipse, from his still-retrograde position near the end of Scorpio. Saturn in Scorpio makes us look at our willingness to transform internally, and when directed towards the Sun and Moon in Leo, this can also add the pressure to transform our power structures. We have already seen a lot of changes in the governmental administration this month, and that could be stimulated further by this eclipse.
Finally, the look of this eclipse’s chart may remind you of the many one-sided charts we saw last year while the planets were in kala sarpa alignment. The current chart is not technically kala sarpa since Venus and Mars remain west of the Rahu-Ketu axis, but it comes pretty close. This time of alignment brings forth even more nodal energies, adding a third (fourth, fifth, sixth…?) level of intensity to this eclipse’s lineup.
What may come out of this eclipse is more inspiration. With Jupiter in Virgo, the second sign from the eclipse in Leo, our philosophies and higher beliefs will be what help us to process the outcome of current events. Turning towards something higher, that really offers some purpose in our lives, will be the medicine for any wounds incurred during and around the eclipse. We are gearing up for a few years of widespread activism, stimulated by Saturn’s return into Sagittarius in October (he began this journey earlier this year, from January through April). His presence here will compel us to work hard for what we see as our highest beliefs. It will turn our gaze towards a more universal vision, where our commitments are for our world and society at large, rather than our personal gain only or those of our close relations.
During the eclipse, the best things to do are meditate and go inward, and contemplate your own path towards opening the heart, speaking your truth, and discovering what a truly inspiring display of power and leadership looks like. The year-and-a-half to come will take us in a new direction of inner and outer growth and change. May all beings be happy and at peace.Save
You can book a personal reading to see how else this eclipse is affecting you personally and hitting the planets and houses in your natal chart.
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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!
Full Moon in Leo, Holi & Retrograde Venus
Sunday’s full Moon in sidereal Leo illuminates a more independent part of the sky, contrasting to the Aquarian New Moon and solar eclipse we experienced two weeks ago. The full Moon peaks at 7:53 a.m. PST on Sunday, so the brightest waxing Moon night is Saturday, the 11th. Sunday also brings the Hindu holiday Holi, the “festival of colors.”
The energy of Aquarius that began this lunar cycle compels us to think about the bigger picture, the greater good, and how we may offer our service into society at large. Through the healing nakshatra of Shatabisha, the solar eclipse energy of February 26th helped us to realize the potential of our personal healing journey contributing to our offering of service. The full Moon in Leo this weekend reminds us of our individual strength and power. Before we are able to serve others well, we need to feel strong in our own light.
Leo is the sign that reminds us of our own strength in a sattvic way, as he is ruled by the Sun, the sattvic planet of purity and illumination. Our highest potential through Leo is to connect with our own divine strength and use it for good and generous ends (rather than selfish). Benevolent leadership is a positive manifestation of this potential. Leo gets a bad rap sometimes as being bossy and overbearing, but this happens when we try to possess the divine strength of the Sun rather than let it shine forth. When we allow the source light to pass through us, purify us, and illuminate outwardly, we find a peaceful sense of self-establishment by which we can support others into their power as well, rather than feel threatened by it.
The nakshatra of this full Moon is Uttara Phalguni, a radiant constellation that bridges Leo and Virgo. The energy of this star-sign signifies the relaxation and rejuvenation (found once we establish our own power in Leo), but reminds us of returning to work and the details of life, as it crosses into Virgo. The deity who rules here is Aryaman, an emblem of friendship, nobility, and generosity. The austere mood of the Shivaratri and the previous new Moon is contrasted by this full Moon of rejuvenation.
Venus is holding a strong influence in the sky right now, as he continues his journey of exaltation through the sign of Pisces. He entered Pisces at the end of January, and is receiving a powerful aspect from his ruler, Jupiter, who is directly across the sky in sidereal Virgo. This relationships gives us the opportunity to bring our desires (coming from Venus) into alignment with our principles and beliefs (influenced by Jupiter).
Since March 4th Venus has been retrograde, appearing to move backwards through Pisces from our perspective here on earth. Venus retrograde only occurs once every 18 months, so this is a rare opportunity to go inward and become more introspective about our desires, which usually follow an outward, seeking direction. We may be doing a lot of re-thinking of relationships at this time, or may find past acquaintances popping back up into our lives to complete some unfinished business.
Be especially careful of allowing arguments to go too far, as breaking relationships is also a potential during this Venus retrograde. Mars, the planet of war and fire, is currently in his own firey sign of Aries. This can add some extra heat to arguments, and makes us feel particularly headstrong and independent (especially in addition to the full Moon in Leo). With Venus retrograde in Pisces, there’s opportunity to surrender our desires and allow our values to take the upper hand, but there’s also the potential that we will choose to break from relationships, as Pisces carries a strong energy of releasing and letting go.
Rahu, Ketu & Saturn
Though we have passed the eclipses for this cycle, Sun and Moon are still in the same signs as Rahu and Ketu, separated by about 20 degrees, so there is still some shadow energy working through our fields. Saturn’s influence on the Sun during this time continues to pressure us into aligning ourselves with a higher purpose, however, so don’t pass up any opportunities for service. It will prove to be very purifying during this time.
This full Moon also commemorates the Hindu festival of “Holi,” as the last full Moon coming before the Spring Equinox. This is a joyful festival of renewal, best-known for its colorful celebration in which people throw bright powders at each other. The playful combat is a way to let go of any past aggression held over the past year and start anew with forgiveness and friendship.
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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)
Personal chart readings are available to delve deeper into the meaning of this eclipse cycle in your life.
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