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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Full Moon May 2020
The full Moon peaks tonight at 3:45 am PT (early on Thursday, May 7th) in the nakshatra Vishaka near the end of sidereal Libra. This star is known as “the forked” branches which represent our finding ourselves at a crossroads where we must choose from two directions. In sidereal Libra, we are thinking strongly about balance and compromise, amidst an Aries Sun cycle that highlights individuality. In the coming week, we will see three planets head into Retrograde motion.
Libra Full Moon
Libra or Tula is the sign of the scales, representing the need to weigh and balance things to achieve an equilibrium in our lives. It is ruled by Venus, who is currently strong from his sva position, transiting his own sign of Taurus. Venus compels us to lead with the heart’s desires, to find beauty and happiness over all else. This could be a welcomed influence this week as we have been so heavily under the influence of a strong Saturn and Mars for the last several weeks.
The Full Moon in Libra is opposite a strong, exalted Sun in Aries. This position began an Aries cycle for us on April 22nd. The Aries cycle highlights strength and individuality, but with its ruler Mars in conjunction with Saturn (in Capricorn) for the last six weeks, that individuality took on a much more disciplinarian (and literally isolated) tone. There has been a tight grip of discipline over society through this time (since March 22nd), which may be easing up somewhat now that Mars has moved out of Capricorn (May 4th). Saturn will continue to reign there for the next two years, however, which could keep an air of restriction over society through that time.
Vishaka nakshatra bridges the end of Libra and the very beginning of Scorpio. Known as “the forked one” it is often depicted by forked branches, showing the opportunity for growth by choosing one of two directions. Its rulers are Indra and Agni, the chief of the gods and fire personified, showing the great strength that comes once one of those directions is chosen. We can find a strong devotion under this Vishaka full Moon, if we choose to channel our energy towards our higher purpose.
Upcoming Retrogrades: Saturn, Venus, Jupiter
Over the next week three planets will appear to slow down and reverse direction, entering retrograde motion from our perspective here on earth: Saturn on May 10th (through September 28th), Venus on May 12th (through June 24th), and Jupiter on May 14th (through September 12th). Saturn and Jupiter are actually coming closer to the earth as they enter retrograde motion, and will be approaching their brightest in the sky when they are fully opposite the Sun in a couple of months (mid-way through their retrograde cycles). Retrogression actually lends a certain strength to planets because of this proximity and brightness, so it’s not all to be feared!
The qualities of these planets may become even more intense while we will experience their influence in a more inward manner during retrogression. Saturn, for example, has been teaching us about structure and discipline, and making tough decisions in favor of long term goals. This will continue as he goes through this period of retrogression in Capricorn, but we may begin to look more to ourselves for that discipline, rather than simply feeling burdened to it by the outside forces. With Mars moving out of Capricorn and rules loosening, for example, it is now on us to consider deeply what are the best decisions for our futures. Some sacrifices may be needed as Saturn teaches us about endurance, patience, and personal restriction.
With Jupiter brightening and approaching through his retrograde cycle, our ideas and ideals come under personal scrutiny. It can be an opportunity for our faith to brighten, while also giving us a chance to check in with our worldview in general. As the outside world is changing, is there room for our inner convictions to adapt?
Venus’s retrogression from May 12th through June 24th will cause him to remain in his own sign of Taurus for over four months, spanning from March 28th through July 31st. Under retrograde Venus we slow down and take a deep look at our most significant relationships, especially familial relationships as Venus transits the sign of Taurus. It’s often a time when we get a “blast from the past” and check in with or hear from people with whom we have not spoken for a long time. It’s also an important time to take a look at your intake, and how you relate with luxury and material things. Though these things can be favorable with Venus in Taurus, during retrogression you may notice that you have amassed more than you really need.
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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.
Tonight brings a dark Moon as the Moon joins the Sun in sidereal Virgo. Exact New Moon in Virgo will be at 11:26 am PT on Saturday, September 28th. This begins a Virgo cycle that will help us to connect with the earth, the feminine, and draw ourselves more inward as we enter the season of the Sun’s decent in the northern hemisphere.
We’ve just passed the equinox on September 23rd, the time where night and day are of equal lengths, and we are now entering the yin season where the hours of darkness will exceed the hours of light. This first full lunar cycle begins in Virgo, a feminine earth sign, that encourages us to ground out some of the activity of summer and turn inwards as we come upon this darker season.
Virgo is also ruled by Mercury, the planet of the intellect, which will get us thinking about practicality and logistics this month. Have you planned your store for winter, getting together everything you need and tying up loose ends in the world before your period of inward attention and maybe even hybernation? Mercury is still technically joining the Sun and Moon in Virgo as we begin this cycle, but will be passing into Libra the next day. Venus and Mars also join in Virgo now, making our nights especially dark as these three stay close to the sun and only Jupiter and Saturn are visible. Venus remains debilitated in Virgo for just a few more days, until October 3rd.
This New Moon occurs with Sun and Moon in Hasta nakshatra, the sign of the hand. Hasta is a place that allows us to hone our skills, both manual and intellectual. It offers us a “craftiness,” whether literal, or of mind. This is a good time for getting into any hands-on work that requires dexterity, as well as for business dealings or other organization that requires tact and skill. Hasta is ruled by Savitar, the Sun God, while also linked to the Moon’s influence, and its animal is the female buffalo.
The New Moon this month brings one of the largest Hindu festivals of the year, Maha Navaratri. Navaratri means “the nine nights,” and beginning with the first Moon phase after the dark Moon, the Goddess Devi is celebrated through many forms for the following nine nights and ten days. In North America Navaratri will be celebrated from September 29th through October 8th, with October 8th being the 10th day of Victory (an auspicious time for starting new endeavors, after 9 nights of worship). In some places Navaratri celebrates the goddess Durga in nine of her forms, while in other parts of India the festival commemorates Durga/Kali, Lakshmi, and Sarasvati for three nights each.
Devi is the creatrix, the warrioress, the nurturer, the purifyer, the protector. She can be found in the innocent and fertile maiden as well as the wise and learned crone. She is both the nurturing mother, and the one who gives “tough love.” The impassioned lover, the devoted bhakta, the disciplined yogini. We see Devi appear through us in innumerable manifestations. Through her many forms, she teaches us and offers us countless blessings–love, compassion, courage, learning, discipline, surrender, success, enlightenment, and bliss.
This festival is a time for honoring and celebrating the supreme feminine power in all her glory, and the many blessings she bestows upon us. Read more about Maha Navaratri 2019 here, and stay tuned for daily updates on how to connect with the many forms of the Goddess.
Kala Sarpa & Nodal Influences
This year’s festival could churn up even more internal difficulties than usual … offer them to the Goddess! We are currently under a Kala Sarpa cycle, with all planets to one side of the Rahu-Ketu axis, and will be in this alignment until October 6th. This can bring up more shadow energy and sticky spots than usual, especially if you are running a Rahu-Ketu dasha or have these planets prominently in your chart. It’s all the more reason to join the festivities and offer worship or some kind of spiritual practice during these days.
The good news on the nodal front — Saturn and Ketu will finally be separating a bit, and will leave their 1-degree proximity on October 1st! With Mean Node calculations, Ketu and Saturn have been joined within one degree of each other since April 25th! This will begin to slowly take some pressure off in the area of your life shown by Sagittarius, or those ruled by Saturn.