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Moon Watching series (7) by Dana Gerhardt

The Disseminating Moon

volcano cloudI'm convinced that no matter how cynical and world-weary the countenance, a childlike innocence still gambols in our psyche. Each morning it wonders if this is the day we've been waiting for, when a miracle might buzz our cell phone. As our transits and progressions, then our solar and lunar returns, roll out the printer, it snatches them up, eager for fantastic news: Oh, a good-looking Venus! Finally, our soul mate arrives! Or maybe a bag of ten-thousand-dollar bills will be left in a dumpster and a fated breeze will flutter one of the bills into our astonished hand! This innocent self still believes in the reality and democracy of fairy tales. It imagines that one day Disney just might animate and score our own.

Perhaps nothing inspires its magical thinking more than the Moon. Our innocent thrills to learn how burning a purple skull candle on a waxing Moon can inspire our grandmother to send a little surprise check. Or how on a waning Moon, with a silver cord, a piece of parchment and some rose oil, we might raise departed spirits, neutralize our enemies, or relieve ourselves of warts. I cannot testify whether such Moon-timed rituals truly work. But I have learned there is magic in the lunation cycle. Sadly, its genuine mechanics lie beyond our inner innocent, and initially may seem more like formulas from a high school chemistry text, remote from our experience, even dull. But their power is real.

Consider the Disseminating Moon, which appears three to four days after the Moon is full. Says lunation expert Dane Rudhyar of this phase, "Form, revealed in a moment of lucid perception at the 'Full Moon' ... gradually releases its meaning (or significance) as the Moon decreases in light. The waning period of the lunation is thus a period of growth for the active power of consciousness. Consciousness, once it is formulated, can be shared with others, and thus can actively affect and transform others."[1]

In the Disseminating phase we work our magic with consciousness, with the power of meaning. After receiving our Full Moon revelation, we absorb its significance and send it out at this phase, affecting the world, transforming ourselves. Like magic! But maybe this explanation isn't sparkly enough for the inner innocent...


"In the Disseminating phase we work our magic with consciousness, with the power of meaning. After receiving our Full Moon revelation, we absorb its significance and send it out at this phase, affecting the world, transforming ourselves. Like magic!"


...let me try it another way. The weeks of the waxing Moon, going from New Moon to Full, are like an excited climb up a roller coaster. Anticipatory, sky-facing, we feel we're heading towards something big. Reaching the Full Moon brings us to that exquisite pause on the highest peak. We see the whole park as we've never seen it before. The people wandering below are tiny, oblivious; it's like we know something they don't. The car tips downward, sending our heart into our throat. We're momentarily breathless, our vision blurs. We scream! And the whole park is transformed with our Disseminating call.

Of course the ride we get at the waning Moon depends on our climb during the waxing weeks. We built the track then. Suppose our solar consciousness was strong, that we knew what we wanted and our efforts were successful. Then we're charged with enthusiasm at the Disseminating phase. We're ready to take our message to a waiting world, like a preacher infused with the power of her religion.

But what if we didn't use the waxing weeks well? Magic appears nonetheless. We discover the eye of newt and tongue of toad our unconscious was quietly assembling in the back room. This brew is more lunar, reflective of our habits and hidden choices. And it's potent. Its thrust into consciousness can be quite energizing, revolutionizing even, driving our waning weeks into greater productivity than an industrious waxing climb.

Because this type of Full Moon insight arrives unexpectedly, there's always a danger that we'll miss or want to turn away from it, like the fungus discovered by Tamsin, heroine of a contemporary fairy tale by Nicholas Stuart Gray.[2]

Tamsin is picking mushrooms after a particularly wet Full Moon. Thirty snow-white beauties are already in her basket, when she discovers an unusual fungus right at her feet. Nearly a foot across, it has wavy green edges, a surface dappled with silver rings, an orange spike in its center, and a bright yellow underside. It is throbbing, like it might be breathing. Incredibly, Tamsin stoops to pick it up.

What grows unrecognized in our psyches can seem interesting at first... until it reveals its sticky familiarity. Tamsin's mushroom is alive, with a nasty personality. He accuses the girl of trying to steal his beauty and magic by rubbing it off. "But you're ugly!" she cries. "You're a liar!" he retorts. She grabs her basket and marches across the field. Like a revelation we try to ignore, the fungus won't be stopped. Shrieking and laughing behind her, he warns, "Handle magic, even briefly, you'll never be the same. From the darkness, from the shadows, somebody will call your name!"

The ugly mushroom is right. A wind from nowhere blows. Day turns suddenly to night. The Moon's face startles Tamsin from a reflecting pool. Then somebody does call her name. It's a broom, urging her to jump on quickly, to escape the evil witch who's in hot pursuit. Tamsin doesn't believe in witches and wants no part of this. "Not a chance," the broom replies. "You touched magic you did. And now you're in it, up to your pretty little ears."

Jesus ChristWhen we grab our Full Moon mushroom, the Disseminating phase brings a reckoning. Like Tamsin, we can deny it. We can say that nothing special ever happens to us and after two weeks we're just the same. But no matter how much our forward-and-backward thinking mind might pretend otherwise, we had power in the preceding days. We used it somehow, and after two waxing weeks, we're in it up to our ears. At the Disseminating phase, we're gonna get called.

That we're responsible for what shows up is an obvious point. But for the sake of our inner innocent, it's worth belaboring. Whatever happens, it's not the Moon's fault. Astrology doesn't supply us with a new cast of characters on which to blame our fates. It's like John Frawley's response to the cosmic worry-wart, fearful that Saturn going across her Ascendant means she's going to have a really tough time.

"No you're not," he counsels. "You're going to have a really tough time because you didn't do your homework/pay your rent/clean your teeth. You can't blame all this on poor Saturn, who has been plodding around the cosmos minding his own business. His passage over some sensitive point in your natal chart may well mark the moment when these various unwelcome pigeons come home to roost, but the problems are of your making, not his. Astrology is not a way for abdicating responsibility for your life."[3]

We might bring this same good sense to our understanding of aspects. When we reach a difficult aspect by transit, it can seem like we're hitting a sudden bad patch, as though our space-ship had just entered a corridor of asteroids. We're liable to think this way because we study aspects on computer screens and printouts. We see them as static spots on a map, as places we run into that have good or bad cosmic feng shui.


"Meet somebody born on a Disseminating Moon, hang with them long enough, and at some point, you'll hear them preaching. Their eyes fired with enthusiasm, their hands gesturing emphatically, their words flowing as though they were god's own Dictaphone."


This view is different from the one we'd get by watching the sky - where the sense of ongoing planetary movement becomes more real, and transits as unfoldings in a larger cycle - our cycle - makes more sense. Our reading of them improves, not only when we understand they bring what we have sown, but when we increase our sensitivity to each aspect's position in the cyclic order.

This is particularly clear with the lunation cycle. We can observe its unfolding without turning on a computer. It's also compact enough that we can follow its organic development without much complication. The New Moon and Full Moon are natural pivots, shifting the momentum from outer orientation and building in the waxing cycle, to a more inward orientation, a growing consciousness, in the waning cycle. This background changes our experience of the aspects. Though their geometry is the same, a waxing square will carry a different energy than a waning square.

Launching the Disseminating phase is a waning sesqui-quadrate; the Moon is 135 degrees behind the Sun. This is an uncomfortable aspect, but it's not as tense as the waxing sesqui-quadrate from the Gibbous Moon days. Consider their respective positions in the cycle. Gibbous comes just before the Full Moon. The waxing momentum is still building to its Full Moon climax. The frustration of meeting obstacles here often inspires an exaggerated emotional reaction to difficulty-either overwhelming us into defeat or impelling us to victory. We have to do something in Gibbous, no matter how impatient we feel, no matter how tight the-spot-we're-in seems.

But it's different after the Full Moon. We had an insight, a "lucid perception." Something like the truth is sitting in our lap. The agitation at the waning sesquiquadrate is about what to do with our insight. We're moved to say something in the Disseminating phase, even though our message may still be green, not fully cooked. We're like an initiate walking down the mountain after a peak experience. What was so lucid at the summit, begins to dissolve, lose its clarity. In our very grasping to get it back, it starts to mutate, so that what we end up saying may not be what the gods intended for us at all.


"Disseminators are the culture's natural-born storytellers and teachers. The thoughtful re-telling of their experience helps the collective to reorganize itself, to re-inspire its mission. To some degree this is desired from all of us at this Moon phase."


Both the waxing and waning sesqui-quadrates can inspire an exaggerated emotional response. This often manifests in the waning aspect as "the preacher's zeal." Meet somebody born on a Disseminating Moon, hang with them long enough, and at some point, you'll hear them preaching. Their eyes fired with enthusiasm, their hands gesturing emphatically, their words flowing as though they were god's own Dictaphone. A Disseminator speaking, writing, painting or photographing a subject about which they have some knowledge and passion is a treat to behold.

Disseminators are the culture's natural-born storytellers and teachers. The thoughtful re-telling of their experience helps the collective to reorganize itself, to re-inspire its mission. To some degree this is desired from all of us at this Moon phase. The personal intersects the tribal-social on the Disseminating days. Like the broom pulling Tamsin into adventure, the world calls. It wants our participation. It wants the magic of cyclic renewal through fresh meaning.

Then there's the shadow expression of this Moon phase (there's always a shadow expression). Sometimes all we get is noise. I remember one Disseminating Moon when I first saw what is now a familiar scene: In front of an abortion clinic, a car with a pregnant passenger was moving slowly through a strident crowd. People on both sides of the abortion debate were shouting their slogans, as they thrust fliers and pamphlets through small cracks in the windows on either side of the car. The pregnant passenger was in tears.

Whether we're born at the Disseminating phase, or just passing through it by transit or progression, we may at times feel the urge to foist our thoughts on an unsuspecting world. But it's wise to remember that the real work of this phase is to bring ourselves to greater consciousness. In Disseminating, we're adjusting from the outer orientation of the waxing Moon and turning ourselves progressively inward. Like the Full Moon opposition which precedes it, the waning sesqui-quadrate can misfire into conflict and projection. If we find our message falls on deaf ears, if we hear ourselves complaining that people are too stupid or too defensive to listen, we may be projecting our own inability to absorb the truth. If we're feeling overly pushy, likely we're Disseminating too soon.

JesusThe waning sesqui-quadrate is an aspect of reckoning, less with others, than with ourselves. We're asked to think about our condition; why we are where we are instead of where we want to be; what we stand for; what we've learned; how we might to contribute to the world. That's what all the tension is for - it can bring a cleansing. When viewed introspectively, our Disseminating struggles can help clear away obscurations that might otherwise inhibit our consciousness from greater expansion in the coming phases.

After the sesquiquadrate comes the waning trine, with the Moon 120 degrees behind the Sun. Trines bring ease. They're stress releasing. As Bil Tierney writes, "The trine is an aspect of relaxation, peace, harmonious reception, and pleasurable response."[4]

We get to reap the beneficial conditions that we've worked for. The waning trine suggests an easy flow of inspiration and idealism as we share our blessings with others. It inclines toward collective channels of expression.

This is different in quality from the waxing trine, which follows the Sun-Moon square in the First Quarter phase. The waxing trine is more "creatively self-expressive, pleasure-oriented, and somewhat exhibitionistic" writes Tierney.[5] Following the challenge and fight of the square, at the waxing trine we may feel confident and full of ourselves, momentarily buoyed that our battle is over. Of course, things will change, as the cycle continues, and the waxing sesquiquadrate kicks in.

Keeping the aspects straight may seem complicated at first. And that's the trouble with trying to reach for the Moon with theories. So many people are fascinated by the Moon and eager to learn more about it - instinctively they recognize its importance. When they hear the theory of the lunation cycle there's a momentary satisfaction - yes it does mean something! But typically this understanding falls away, and the Moon becomes no more part of their lives than before.


"Whether we're born at the Disseminating phase, or just passing through it by transit or progression, we may at times feel the urge to foist our thoughts on an unsuspecting world. But it's wise to remember that the real work of this phase is to bring ourselves to greater consciousness. In Disseminating, we're adjusting from the outer orientation of the waxing Moon and turning ourselves progressively inward."


Working with students in my monthly Twelve Moon workshops, I've been privileged to see a different thing happening. Our emphasis is on observation, on sensing, on recording the natural flow of our own experience. Lunar theory is kept secondary, like a dog that must be kept on its leash. Sensing the Moon leads to an exciting discovery: the lunation cycle is real! Our lives flow with it. This happens, and has always been happening, without our mental participation. It's organic. In cycle after cycle, our desires, frustrations, meetings, revelations, move in rhythm with the Moon.

That we haven't noticed this before is understandable. The events and feelings that synchronize to the Moon are mostly familiar, ordinary ones. The Moon governs daily life. Unhappily for our inner innocent, fantastic turns of luck or misfortune occur as often with the Moon as they do in daily life: rarely. Yet if we are to believe most spiritual traditions, it's the day-to-day decisions and reactions that are most critical, not our once-in-a-lifetime promotions or lottery wins. It is from daily acts and thoughts that our fates are engineered. From them, we take the spiritual measure of our life. A cycle that keeps us trained on this daily business - goading us into small forward steps or holding us back for reflection - is precious.

Much in contemporary life works against this lunar rhythm. In order to catch its subtlety in action, we must be willing to slow down and bring awareness to it. Here Moon theories can help to gently train our attention, though ultimately the Moon is more accessible by feeling, intuition, or bodily sensation than by concept. I've heard from lunar gardeners that chemically treated plants don't profit from Moon signs and phases as well as organic ones do. It may be the same for us, confused as we are by so many influences and distractions. Yet the Moon is in our nature. Working closely with it assures that we'll draw closer to a natural way of being.

But there are problems with the Moon. Precision of timing is one of them. As my friend, natural time expert Samten Williams says, "The impulse often precedes the Moon." Sometimes we can sense ourselves to be in a particular Moon phase before it actually arrives.

Revere's RideHistory provides a fine example. Paul Revere's ride is a marvelous image for the Disseminating Moon - when a silversmith, in just a few hours, with a just few words ("The British are coming!") mustered a whole countryside to arms. Disseminating power was strong that night: drums were beating, church bells ringing. By morning, unsuspecting British troops marched straight into a savage, well-organized fight. Revere started his ride just before midnight on April 18, 1775. The Moon did not shift into the Disseminating phase until five am on the 19th, when Revere was reaching his last few towns.

Technically Revere's ride was a Full Moon event, not a Disseminating one. News of a British invasion certainly fits our expectation of a Full Moon revelation. On the afternoon of the 18th, a stable boy overheard a British officer and took this story to Revere. But Revere clearly disseminated it, as did those who heard him. Their news spread like wildfire. So which Moon phase should we use to characterize this famous ride?

Observing the pear orchards around my house this year, I noticed a smattering of trees began their blooming in advance of the rest. Was their blossoming any less an impulse of Spring than that of their fellows who waited more properly for the calendar? As G. K. Chesterton wrote, "The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite. Life is not an illogicality; yet it is a trap for logicians. It looks a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait." [6]

I've often encountered this wildness with the Moon. But this is not a license to get fuzzy with cusps and orbs. It doesn't give us permission to say "The computer indicates you were born on a Full Moon, but you feel more like a Disseminator to me, so that's what we'll call you." When we perform the ritual of reading a chart, we're working with precise information and definite astrology rules. We need to stick with proper aspects and traditions. But in the flow of our daily life, moving in tune with the Moon, we need to act when the impulse is strong. We shouldn't wait for a lunar calendar to decide our moment.

The Revere story gives us another problem. In The Tipping Point[7], a study in the dynamics of bright ideas and why some spread to epidemic proportions, author Malcolm Gladwell points out a little known fact: Revere had a partner. A tanner named William Dawes rode that night too, under the same Moon, through as many towns, across as many miles as Revere. But he didn't set the countryside on fire. One of the larger towns he rode through organized such a meager resistance, for years historians mistakenly thought it was pro-British when it wasn't. The truth is that although Dawes carried the same message, presumably had the same passion, to an audience that was just as interested, he simply wasn't as successful as Revere in Disseminating the news.


"When we perform the ritual of reading a chart, we're working with precise information and definite astrology rules. We need to stick with proper aspects and traditions. But in the flow of our daily life, moving in tune with the Moon, we need to act when the impulse is strong. We shouldn't wait for a lunar calendar to decide our moment."


Gladwell's point is that for an idea to spread like an epidemic, it must have several elements going for it, including someone personable and socially connected enough to spread it. Revere was a much better salesman. We use similar logic in astrology, that natal charts describe our differing potentials, and that significant events never come from just one factor. Picking the right Moon phase alone won't make us successful. (I would tell you to cover your inner innocent's ears, but I doubt she's listening anyway.)

A sound astrology principle is that transits and progressions (Moon phases too) won't bring what's not promised in a natal chart. I have birth dates but not times for Revere and Dawes.[8] Neither was born on a Disseminating Moon, but we can get an approximate sense of where they were in the progressed lunation cycle by giving each a noon birth time. We might think we're on to something when we discover that Revere was in or approaching his progressed Disseminating phase, while Dawes was in his progressed New Moon. And it is interesting. One's progressed lunation phase can favor a heightened performance during the monthly transit of that phase.

Still it wouldn't explain everything. Progressed lunation phases are an exciting influence, but someone with a debilitated Mercury or an introverted temperament will likely never become a Paul Revere, no matter how many Disseminating Moons they ride out on during their progressed Disseminating phase. Yet something appropriate to the individual and to the phase will happen. This person will disseminate, but the mystery, the wildness, is specifically how that will occur. This is what keeps me continually excited and fascinated by the phases of the Moon, eager to write and talk about them with a preacher's zeal.

All right, I can confess it now: I was born on a Disseminating Moon!


  1. Dane Rudhyar, The Lunation Cycle: A Key to the Understanding of Personality, Santa Fe, New Mexico: Aurora Press, 1967, p. 44.
  2. Nicholas Stuart Gray, "A Wind from Nowhere Blows," in The Faber Book of Modern Fairy Tales, Sara & Stephen Corrin, editors, London: Faber and Faber, 1981, pp. 201-219.
  3. John Frawley, The Real Astrology, London: Apprentice Books, 2001, p. 1851 Dane Rudhyar, The Lunation Cycle: A Key to the Understanding of Personality, Santa Fe, New Mexico: Aurora Press, 1967, p. 44.
  4. Bil Tierney, Dynamics of Aspect Analysis, Reno, Nevada: CRCS Publications, 1983, p. 27.
  5. Ibid, p. 28.
  6. I quote this from Dr. J Lee Lehman's book, Classical Astrology for Modern Living, Atglen, PA: Whitford Press, p.112
  7. Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point, Boston, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2000.
  8. From American National Biography, General Editors, John A. Garrity and Mark C. Caines, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999), Paul Revere 1/1/1735 and William Dawes 4/6/1745.

TWELVE MOONS WORKSHOP

12 Moons Workshop As earth's closest celestial ally, the moon has a powerful influence on daily life, but few are tuned in. If you want to increase your sensitivity to the lunar rhythm, this is the workshop for you. Every month before the New Moon, you'll receive a 26-page workbook, personalized to your birth chart and current location. You'll learn about the astrology particulars — the new moon and solar ingress, how these influence your chart, along with moon phases, moon voids, moon signs and house transits. Throughout the cycle, you'll be guided into an ever more intimate appreciation for the moon's workings in your life
Twelve Moons Workshop at mooncircles.com

Current Planets
28-Dec-2014, 14:53 UT/GMT
Sun6Capricorn47'11"23s16
Moon4Aries49'51"2n47
Mercury18Capricorn15'55"24s21
Venus22Capricorn29'10"22s49
Mars18Aquarius24'19"16s25
Jupiter21Leo59'26"r14n58
Saturn0Sagittarius31'13"18s22
Uranus12Aries35'20"4n22
Neptune5Pisces18'14"10s15
Pluto13Capricorn2'50"20s38
TrueNode15Libra31'31"r6s07
Chiron13Pisces39'41"2s08
Explanations of the symbols
Chart of the moment
Astrologer watching the sky through a telescope, by Eugene Ivanov
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