This coming full Moon night also falls on the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice! The solstice, December 21st, is the day when the Sun is at its farthest course south of the equator, making for the longest day in the southern hemisphere and the longest night in the northern. The Moon will be bright and waxing in its fullest Moon phase, purnima tithi, on this night, approaching maximum fullness in sidereal Gemini at 9:49 am PST on Saturday, December 22nd. Moon lovers, take this chance to enjoy the most moonlight you can get in one night, until this coincidence next occurs in 2094!
Full Moon in Gemini
The full Moon will reach maximum illumination at 6° sidereal Gemini, opposite the Sun at 6° sidereal Sagittarius. Also in Ardra nakshatra, this Full Moon is aligned with the outer reaches of our galaxy, stretching towards far distant space. This energy is appropriate for the winter solstice, which is a deeply yin time of year as we become more still in the lengthy hours of darkness, allowing more space in our beings, and in between our bouts of activity.
Ardra, also Arudra, is a turbulent place, however, ruled by Lord Shiva in the form of Rudra, the fierce bringer of storms. Though there is a certain energy of renewal here, it is the type of renewal that comes after difficult or destructive situations. The full Moon here can help us to truly let go of some of the things from the past year that we no longer need, but for some it could be a chaotic-feeling process.
The winter solstice is when the Sun is farthest from its northern course, allowing the night hours to exceed the day, the further you go north. It is also a turning point in the cycle of light, and after this point in time the light will slowly begin to return and the days lengthen. The solstice and the days surrounding are like a still point, however, like the powerful moment between exhalation and inhalation. Consider incorporating an awareness of this moment in the breath cycle into your meditation practice during this time of year.
It is somewhat paradoxical that we will experience the solstice and the full Moon together, as the winter solstice is a time to be very inward, and full Moon energy usually draws us out into a more extroverted state. Gemini is a dual sign that helps us to look at both sides of life, however, so it is also appropriate. With all things, there is a lesson coming forth to teach us about balance, and how to balance these energies, nourishing our inward nature while likely participating in some kind of gatherings or celebrations that draw our energy outward.
From the 22nd through the end of the year will be a waning phase for the Moon, and during this lunar cycle in particular, it is a potent time to allow yourself to let go of all the baggage from the past year, allowing it to compost and creating fertile ground for the next year to come (just as Shiva, the cosmic composter, brings this energy through the stormy rains).
Though the holidays are a time to celebrate, it’s important to be careful right now of overexerting your yang or active energy, and to recognize the real gift of cultivating yin during these dark months. It is a time to create more inward space for your body, mind and spirit. The dormant season of winter is a time to nourish and rejuvenate, and it’s important not to let these celebrations become depleting.
Jupiter and Mercury will be engaged in a planetary war (graha yuddha) from midday on December 20th through early morning on the 22nd. During this time the two planets will be traveling within one degree of each other, in sidereal Scorpio. This can bring up an internal conflict between what we strongly believe (philosophically, spiritually, or politically), and what makes sense in a practical, earthly way. This war can also create a paradox between two or more areas of your life, those ruled by Jupiter and Mercury in your individual natal chart. Check out your chart and pay attention to the interaction of what these planets rule for you over the next few days.
Venus is nearing the end of his four-month transit through sidereal Libra. Strong and powerful in his own sign, the ideals of beauty, pleasure and harmony have been forefront for many of us over the last few months. This transit began on August 31st, and Venus then appeared to slow to a halt and then travel in retrograde motion through Libra from October 5th through November 15th. This retrograde stint gave us a chance to really closely examine our relationships, as well as our approaches to happiness in general.
As we move forward through these last weeks of Venus in Libra, we should be integrating some of the lessons we have learned through this transit. What have the past few months taught you, and how can you proceed with more wholeness? What are your methods for seeking pleasure, and are these working for you? If not, what needs to change? When you get what you think you want, are you truly happy?
Venus is the planet that reminds us that we aren’t usually truly happy if our pleasure comes at the expense of someone else’s whom we care about. How are you at compromising in your relationship? Is it too little, or too much, costing one of you (and thus both) the happiness you deserve? What kind of boundaries do you have with others in general, and are those working for you (or them)?
This transit may also have gotten you in touch with the way you handle sensual indulgences, be it food, drink, shopping, sex, or intoxicants. The drive may have been turned on high during this period, with a chance to slow down and scrutinize your methods during the weeks of Venus Retrograde. Moving into the new year, as Venus transits into sidereal Scorpio on January 1st, take the opportunity to harvest and integrate the lessons you have learned about yourself, and your own Venusian nature.
As we come into the New Year I will be adding more updates on what to expect, as well as co-hosting a Webinar on 2019 Transits with a number of my Jyotish colleagues. Be sure to tune into the webinar, stay on the free mailing list, and consider getting an individual reading to see how the coming year’s transits will affect you personally.
Many blessings and Happy Solstice!
Full Moon in Taurus
The Moon is waxing towards its brightest point, to align fully opposite the Sun for a full Moon in Taurus at 9:39 pm PST on Thanksgiving night, Thursday, November 22nd. The Moon will be in its sign of exaltation in early sidereal Taurus, in the Vedic nakshatra of Krittika, opposite the Sun in Scorpio. Mars, Jupiter and a retrograde Mercury all aspect this full Moon, while Venus rules over it in Taurus. With the Moon and the mind happy and grounded in this fertile earth sign, this is truly a fitting time to let the heart settle and give thanks for what is.
Exaltation in Taurus
We began this lunar cycle with the Moon dark and approaching debilitation, on November 7th. The Moon is fully “debilitated” in the third degree of Scorpio (although Sun & Moon conjoined to begin this cycle near the end of Libra). In the passionate water sign of Scorpio, the mind becomes aware of its most sensitive points, and can go through turbulent emotions as it rides the waves under Mars’ rulership.
Moon is considered “exalted” in the opposite sign of Taurus, where we find this week’s full Moon. Taurus is an earth sign ruled by Venus. The earth element helps our minds and hearts to find more stability and become grounded, and our emotions are less likely to be tossed about by external forces. Taurus is ruled by Venus, the planet that ultimately helps us to find ways to be happy, so there is a natural inclination towards seeing the beauty and harmony of life when the Moon is here.
Venus is still transiting his own sign of Libra, and getting gradually stronger as he picks up speed after six weeks in retrograde motion. (Though feminine in nature, Venus, like all planets in Jyotish, gains a masculine pronoun when personified.) Venus helps the mind to be happy when the Moon is under his rule, because Venus drives us towards pleasure and happiness, and helps us to look for and see beauty. This is a great outlook for approaching the Thanksgiving holiday, especially when difficult family dynamics may be present. On this holiday where there is a tendency to overindulge in consumable pleasures, however, be especially mindful this year, as Venus (and Jupiter) could help to push that to extremes.
Within the Vedic system, Krittika nakshatra spans from 26°40′ Aries to 10° Taurus. This star-sign is known as “the cutter” and is represented by an axe, a razor blade, or a flame. Agni, the Lord of Fire, rules here, and his sharp and transforming nature drive the energy of this nakshatra. Though we are experiencing the beauty-seeking nature of Venus, we are also receiving the purifying and sattvic influence of the Sun, who rules this nakshatra, while the Moon transits here.
This nakshatra can be located in the sky as the cluster of seven stars also known as the Pleiades. In Vedic mythology, these correlate with the wives of the seven sages who found and nursed the baby Kartikeya, the son that Shiva and Parvati birthed through the vehicle of the river Ganga. There is a maternal and nurturing quality to this star, in addition to its power to help us to cut through the unnecessary in our processes of purification. Fittingly, the Indian saint “Amma” (Amritanandamayi) was born under Krittika nakshatra, and demonstrates these qualities of being a nurturing mother to all as well as a powerful sattvic purifier.
Aspects: Mars, Jupiter & Retrograde Mercury
In addition to full illumination from the Sun, this full Moon is also receiving light and energy from Mars, Jupiter, and Mercury (though Jupiter is quite combust, within three degrees of the Sun). Mars’ influence can stimulate the mind into a more rajasic state, and can add a bit of heat and tension. With Mercury also in retrograde motion, be very aware around getting into arguments or trying to explain (or re-explain) your point of view to others. Though Jupiter sends some benefic and inspiring influence, the loftiness of your ideas may be burned up and lost as you attempt to communicate from a philosophical or idealistic place. Mercury will continue in retrograde motion through the next New Moon, on December 6th.
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.
New Years Full Moon
Many blessings for the new year, astrology lovers! This lunar cycle will peak with a full Moon at 17° sidereal Gemini, on January 1st at 6:24 pm PST. On both December 31st and January 1st the Moon will wax into fullness, fully reflecting the light of the Sagittarian Sun onto Earth, as we step into 2018.
New Years Challenge: Look at the Sky!
Now I know that some of you are already very familiar with Vedic astrology (jyotish, the science of light) and the sidereal zodiac, but each month I get at least one person commenting or questioning why I would say the full Moon is in Gemini (for example, now), when they’ve heard it is in Cancer.
Well, one can begin to understand this by engaging in the first limb of jyotish, referred to as gola (observational astronomy). The study of astrology began as a love of astronomy, when people would actually go out and look at the sky, watching the way that light bounced off of and around the stars and planets. It wasn’t just about looking at a calendar or computer program to know where the planets are.
We can still engage in this practice when using the sidereal zodiac with Vedic astrology, because this “star-based” zodiac correlates with what we see in the sky.* Here are some screenshots for January 1st from the astronomy app called SkyView Lite, showing the Moon in sidereal Gemini, and Mars and Jupiter in sidereal Libra, Mercury in sidereal Scorpio, and Saturn, Venus, and the Sun closely joined in sidereal Sagittarius. Gemini is where you will be able to locate the full Moon on January 1st, and these photos show where one would see the other planets if not for the fact that they are currently “up” during the day (early birds might catch Jupiter and Mars).
Western astrology, following the tropical zodiac (which says this full Moon is in Cancer, and that Saturn is in Capricorn), is a system that is based more on the seasons, than how we see the stars and planets. It has its own applications and relevance, but my articles are written from the Vedic perspective, using the sidereal zodiac, hence… Full Moon in Gemini! Read the full article on the two zodiacs HERE.
Full Moon in Gemini
So then! What does the full Moon in Gemini mean, as we hurtle through space and into the next calendar year? We began this lunar cycle with the Sun, and Saturn, in Sagittarius. That type of energy compells us to be vigilant with our beliefs and opinions, and to make sure that all of our actions are in close alignment with them. It’s a very passionate and opinionated time of year, as the Sun crosses the Jupiter-ruled sign of righteous action, with stern and serious Saturn casting a strong influence. Saturn’s presence here forces us to look hard at our beliefs, and sort through the dogma to get to the most authentic core.
The full Moon in Gemini, on the other hand, offers a reflection point to all this serious philosophical digging. Gemini is a sign that is much more flexible, impartial, and willing to see both sides of the situation. This doesn’t mean that we cast our guiding principles aside, but it means that we take a moment to stand in the other person’s shoes, play the devil’s advocate, and imagine a world where there’s a synthesis between what we believe is right and the opposite of that, and are willing to engage in conversation around it.
Within Gemini, this full Moon falls in the Vedic nakshatra known as Ardra, “the moist one.” This constellation is one of the most violent and stormy places in the zodiac. Its ruled by the deity Rudra, a fierce form of Lord Shiva, and has to do with the destruction and dissolution brought on by storms. After the deluge, however, the earth is moist and fresh and ready for new life to begin. As we reflect on the practicality of our beliefs and the ways we might engage our intellect to relate with and understand our opposites, we can look for ways to break down parts of our rigidity that don’t serve the situation, and let dogma dissolve so that truer sensation may arise.
On the external level, we often see major upheaval or violent events occur in society when Ardra energy is strong. All the more reason to use this New Year celebration to pray, meditate, and envision more light, peace, and positivity spreading across the globe.
In addition to the full Moon in Ardra, we’re about to enter the last major Kala Sarpa (“black snake”) period for a while, as all the planets traverse one side of the Rahu-Ketu nodal axis (from January 2nd – 19th). There will be one more partial cycle after that, from January 31st through February 5th, when Venus finally passes out of Capricorn (where Ketu lies), breaking the potential for any more Kala Sarpa cycles til August. During these periods, life can feel extra intense, and whatever karma is already stimulated in your life by the transits (in relation to your natal chart), will be magnified.
On top of that, we’re entering another eclipse cycle, as we approach two eclipses to occur on January 31st and February 15th. The total lunar eclipse on the 31st will be visible from Asia, Australia, India, the Pacific, and western North America. The partial solar eclipse on the 15th will only be visible from Antarctica and southern South America. Though there may be slightly less intensity in places where the eclipses aren’t visible, they nevertheless tend to stir up shadow work we are doing in a particular area of life (read your forecast in the free e-book available here).
Finally, we’ll be underneath a planetary war between Jupiter and Mars from the 4th through the 8th, so be aware of your animal instinct fighting with your higher beliefs. There may also be conflict between some specific areas of life, relative to your natal chart.
May you start the new year full of planetary inspiration, gazing upon the full Moon in Gemini!
Book a personal 2018 Vedic Astrology Reading with me now! Sessions done by phone or Skype.
*Save for a few cases when the observable constellation spans more or less than its 30° attributed “portion” of the ecliptic.
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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