Today brings the exact New Moon moment when the Sun and Moon align at 10:33 AM PDT, on Monday July 20th. This begins a new lunar cycle in sidereal Cancer, with Sun and Moon around 4 degrees and in Pushya nakshatra. This nakshatra is all about nourishment while Cancer brings forward the watery energy of the divine mother.
Cancer is ruled by the Moon, the planet that governs our minds and hearts. Both the Moon and Cancer are watery so we can expect to get more in touch with our emotions this month while our sensitive and perceptive sides become more prominent. If you already feel like a very watery person, expect those sensitivities to be even more acute during this cycle. This is a good month (especially this Dark Moon night) to tap into your intuition and felt sense perceptions in order to help guide yourself through life and any important decisions at hand.
If you do have a somewhat “overactive” water element within you, be careful not to let yourself become bogged down by emotions. Do something active and connect with the air and fire elements to help get your energy moving. Cancer, ruled by the Moon, brings forward divine mother energy in its highest expression, meaning we can find a compassionate, unconditional loving acceptance here. As limited humans, however, we could find ourselves struggling with boundaries as we attempt to embody this welcoming mood.
Pushya is the Vedic star-sign known as “the nourisher” and spans from 3°20′ to 16°40′ Cancer. Symbolized by the udder of a cow, this nakshatra embodies the nourishment that we receive from food as well as caring providers. Its deity is Brihaspati, Jupiter in the form of a divine father. This New Moon therefore brings forward the energy of both divine mother and father. We can look within ourselves on the dark Moon night to find the aspects of ourselves that can be more caring and nourishing, both to ourselves and to those around us, including towards Mother Nature.
Five Planets in Own Signs
As this new lunar cycle begins we find five planets traveling through their own signs: Moon in Cancer, Jupiter in Sagittarius, Saturn in Capricorn, Venus in Taurus, and Mercury in Gemini. This creates a very auspicious energy that can be supportive in beginning many endeavors. Keep in mind that the rising sign changes throughout the day to create many different charts each day, and muhurta (auspicious moments) will occur at different times in different locations. Also be aware that Mercury still joins Rahu and Jupiter joins Ketu, creating some challenges at times ruled by these two. Jupiter and Saturn are still retrograde, giving them added strength and a more inward, reflective energy.
Saturn and Covid
Much of the restriction seen in the world this year can be associated with Saturn, having returned to his home sign of Capricorn in January. Though many alignments in the sky can be seen to have improved since the beginning of the Covid crisis, Saturn is the slowest moving planet and takes time teaching his lessons. He will remain in Capricorn, bringing some restriction while teaching us about creating more secure and responsible structures, for roughly two more years. He is now retrograde and we can expect to see some things moving forward more when he begins his direct course again in October, but we can definitely anticipate more lessons in endurance and austerity, and some major societal change over the coming four years while he travels through both Capricorn and Aquarius.
Though it feels difficult in many ways, none of the planets are here to hurt us, they are here to teach us lessons in different ways, on a continual process of evolution as we come closer to alignment with source and our true nature. Saturn ultimately wants to help us to mature, both individually and as a collective, and is bringing lessons through the earth-sign Capricorn right now that are very much changing the ways in which we move through the world. Government, commerce, and income are all affected. If we keep in mind the larger goal of supporting our spirits and the divine quality of nature itself, we have the opportunity to make progress during these times. Spiritual practices and meditation are absolutely methods that can support this process, while our material world may feel more restricted.
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New Moon May 2020
The new moon cycle begins in Taurus on May 22nd at 10:38 AM PDT, in the Vedic nakshatra of Krittika, “the cutter.” Taurus is a feminine earth sign ruled by Venus, and Venus joins the Sun and Moon in Taurus on this dark moon tonight along with Mercury. Both Mars and Jupiter cast their aspects here, while Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus are all in retrograde motion.
A Taurus cycle compels us to get into our physical bodies, focus on things close at hand, and find the simple beauty that comes from nature, foods, and pleasurable activities. Amidst the pandemic, the stars are supportive this month to help us focus on family and the simple pleasures around the home. Fitting with the season, this is a good cycle to work on gardening and to beautify your indoor and outdoor as well as inner landscapes.
On a spiritual level, Taurus helps us to forge ahead (sometimes with a stubborn, “bull-headedness”) in our chosen direction … it can sometimes be hard to change directions, however, so it is important to set some intentions and orient yourself properly on this dark moon night before the cycle begins. Mars’ aspect onto the new Moon adds some firepower to the mix, while Jupiter’s glance adds a breeze of wisdom and grace.
Krittika means “the cutter,” and this star helps us to cut away that which we do not need. It is ruled by Agni, fire personified, which also helps us to cut and burn away the excesses that we may have been carrying. On this new Moon night it’s a great time to cut or clear away anything that is weighing you down or getting in your way. Literally cutting plants, hedges, foods, or hair are good activities we perform that also symbolize some of the inner cutting we must do on our vasanas (negative tendencies) and unnecessary attachments.
This star is symbolized by a razor, axe, or flame. There is also a feminine nurturing quality to this star, as it relates with Lord Kartikeyya who was suckled by six pleiades (this nakshatra is the cluster of seven stars known as the pleiades). This is the birthstar of Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (“Amma”), a great saint who is known for her power to cut through negativities and also nurture endlessly as the divine Mother.
Three Retrograde Planets: Venus, Jupiter and Saturn
Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter are all traveling in apparent retrograde motion at the moment, giving them strength and an inward-oriented power. When Venus is retrograde we have an enhanced ability to reflect upon our relationships. This can include doing some work on your patterns (and creating better ones), as well as re-examining old relationships or reconnecting with people from your past. It also lends us the ability to examine our relationships with sensory pleasures in general, perhaps redefining our relationships with food, drink, or substance, or unearthing some of our creative energy that has been left dormant.
With Jupiter retrograde we must look deeply at the philosophies, creeds, and spiritual beliefs that guide us. It is a good time to reconnect with scripture or teachers, and really examine yourself inwardly for how your belief structures are working and supporting you. It can be a great time to re-commit to spiritual practice, as Jupiter is getting closer to earth and brighter in the sky during the first half of this retrograde cycle (the whole cycle is from May 14th through September 12th).
Under retrograde Saturn we examine our long-term goals, our work and the ways we commit to support ourselves, and the very structures under which we live. You may find this period is an opportunity to restructure or redefine the work you do in the world, or your understanding of what are the most important things that you are working for. Saturn retrograde can also teach us more about self-control and self-discipline, but also the need to let go of external attachments and rely more on our inner strength. Meditation is one of the greatest remedies for Saturn.
Saturn and Covid
Saturn is currently strong in his own sign as well as strong due to his retrograde transit, and, in Capricorn, is a large part of the force that is restructuring the outside world during this Covid crisis. He brings restriction and contraction, and in Capricorn, forces us to examine the structures that support us, particularly as a society. This retrograde transit could bring some relief but it asks us to choose new directions when he begins to move forward again, surrendering more to the greater good, rather than trying to hold onto systems of power that have been failing.
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The full Moon in sidereal Leo is on March 9th at 10:47 am PDT. This is the height of an Aquarius cycle that began with the New Moon on February 22nd.
Full Moon in Leo
The Leo full Moon highlights our individual power center, amidst a cycle of Aquarius wherein we’ve been drawn to really consider the whole, and what is best for the world at large. Though Aquarius energy can be very beneficial in this way, promoting universal good acts and attitudes of service, it can also sometimes cause us to sublimate some individual qualities and yield personal power for “the greater good.”
Under the full Moon in Leo, we are reminded that the two are not exclusive. Under this Moon, the heart is illuminated on Leo’s throne, the place of unlimited personal power, where we can feel our individuality and autonomy and simultaneously know that we can do great service from this place of personal strength. If you’re in the midst of an election decision, this is a great time to feel into your heart for what is right, while already contemplating what is best for the whole.
The Full Moon’s nakshatra is Purva Phalguni, spanning the late middle of Leo, and known as the “former red one.” It is a star of recreation and relaxation, symbolized by a swinging hammock or the front legs of the bed, reminding us that leisure is a necessary part of life even amidst service and leadership. Ruled by the planet Venus and by Bhaga, the god of delight, this star carries a sexual energy and in general draws us towards beauty and luxury.
Mercury is at the end of his retrograde cycle, stationary-retrograde during the full Moon, turning stationary-direct some hours later. This brings a lot of intellectual focus to this full Moon, and you may find you are able to work something out — or communicate something through with someone — that you have been wanting to finalize the details around for a while.
Mars and Saturn
On March 22nd, Mars will join Saturn in Capricorn. Mars is exalted here while Saturn is sva, in his own sign. The combination of these two planets here could help us to channel great focus and discipline, especially around hard work that needs to be done. On the other hand, if you have certain planets here such as the Moon, the transit of the two malefics could bring a lot of psychological stress and pressure. Mars will travel here through May 4th. The two will be in a planetary war from March 29th through April 4th, weakening one or both, likely Mars being that it is Saturn’s own sign.
This full Moon is also Holi in India, the “festival of colors.” It is 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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There will be a full Moon in Bharani nakshatra in sidereal Aries on Monday night, reaching full waxing brightness at 5:35 am PST on Tuesday, November 12th. This is a powerful Full Moon for new beginnings as the Moon transits Aries, the first cardinal sign, and receives an aspect from its ruler Mars as well as the full brightness of the Sun.
Full Moon in Aries
The Aries full Moon is the integration point of the Libra cycle we began on Diwali in late October. The Sun in Libra is debilitated and compels us to put a lot of energy into balancing things, and people, outside of ourselves. As the Moon transits Aries and is fully illuminated by the Sun, we may be able to tune in more with our individual strengths and stop emphasizing other people so much.
Both Mars and the Sun will be in Libra, opposite this full Moon, directing a lot of strength back at it. This alignment will brighten our hearts and minds, bringing courage, strength, and determination. Mars is strengthened by the fact that he will be exchanging signs with Venus, in Parivartana Yoga. As Mars rules Scorpio (where Venus currently transits) and Venus rules Libra (where Mars will be as of Sunday morning), the two will lend a harmonizing and supportive energy to each other as they “visit each other’s houses.”
The Moon will be fully brightened in Bharani nakshatra, the one known as “the bearer.” This can imply both the creative act of bearing, i.e. a child, and also gestures towards the spiritual austerity type of bearing, i.e. difficulties. This nakshatra is a portal of birth and death, as it is ruled by the deity Yama, the Lord of Death, but symbolized by the female reproductive organs. Related to both Venus (as nakshatra graha) and Mars (as rashi ruler), it further emphasizes the cooperation of the two — allow the masculine warrior energy within us and the feminine happiness principles to harmonize.
Jupiter Has Entered Sagittarius
Jupiter made a major transit last week, finally passing into sidereal Sagittarius for good after a quick visit earlier this year, having spent most of the last 13 months transiting sidereal Scorpio. Jupiter has now returned to his own sign of Sagittarius and will hold a natural strength here for this new 13-month transit. This will strengthen our idealism, and our commitment to explore and act upon our highest beliefs. It may encourage many people to pursue learning and education, as well as more wisdom and spiritual depth.
Jupiter joins Saturn and Ketu, already here, who have been stirring the pot in terms of idealism and philosophy on the world stage. We will continue to see tensions around firmly engrained belief systems, but also the energy and movement to break down old patterns of operating through systems that have been in place for a long time. Look for some major shifts in the dominant philosophical voices that may occur around the eclipse cycle at the end of this year.
Mercury Retrograde and Rare Transit
Mercury also joins the Sun and Mars in Libra during this full Moon, aspecting the Moon fairly closely and adding an intellectual perspective to our felt experience this week. Having been traveling in retrograde motion since November 7th, Mercury will be passing directly between the earth and the Sun on November 11th. This somewhat rare occurrence is known astronomically as a Mercury Transit. It last happened in 2016, and will not come again until 2032. Those with special protective telescopes or binoculars equipped with protective solar filters will be able to see a black dot passing across the Sun during this time.
What can you bear in the name of happiness that requires more strength than you thought you had right now?
The Sun and Moon will join at 10° sidereal Libra this Sunday night, October 24th, at 8:39 pm PDT. This Dark Moon night commemorates the Hindu holiday of Diwali, the festival of lights. October 27th will actually be the third but main night of celebration of this festival, which begins on Dhanteras on October 25th.
The New Moon in Libra will begin a Libra cycle, compelling us to find balance, harmony, beauty, and compromise. Venus will have just left his own sign of Libra, a couple of hours before the New Moon, but has been strong there the last several weeks and during most of the Amavasya dark Moon phase leading up to the exact New Moon moment.
One thing to note about the Libra cycle is that the Sun is considered neecha or naturally debilitated there, so self-care becomes especially important during a Libra cycle. 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 possible that our own strength becomes diminished as 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. At the beginning of this cycle, set an intention for a mindful self-care routine this month. Light some candles (or turn on your electronic ones) 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.
This New Moon joins the Sun in Swati nakshatra, a nakshatra that is also known to add to vata conditions, as it gives the power to scatter like the wind, so be aware of restlessness this Dark Moon night. It is ruled by Lord Vayu, wind embodied, and is symbolized by a young plant blowing in the wind, both flexible and strong amidst it. It can be translated as the “priest” or the “sword” and carries hidden spiritual potential from its association with Rahu. The male buffalo is the animal symbol for Swati nakshatra.
Venus, Jupiter and Mercury
These three benefic planets will be traveling together in sidereal Scorpio from October 26th through November 4th, when Jupiter transits into Sagittarius. The conjunction of these three planets creates a Sarasvati yoga during certain times of day, which could offer auspicious muhurtas (moments) for initiating artistic, educational or spiritual activities. If you were born with a Sarasvati yoga in your natal chart, you may find it more activated during these times.
Jupiter in Sagittarius
On November 4th, we will experience a major movement in the cosmos, as Jupiter transits from Scorpio into Sagittarius. Because the outer planets move slower, they spend longer in each sign, so this transit is important because it will take effect for over a year while Jupiter travels through his own sign. Generally that brings strength to a planet, but with the current conjunction with Saturn and Ketu, also in Sagittarius, we could see an intensification of strange and radical ideologies vying for their place on the world stage.
Dhanteras and Diwali
On the new Moon of the Hindu month of Ashwin (this month), we celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. The festival begins this year on Friday, October 25th (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, this 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. Dhanteras 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.
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.