I was a literature major in college, which meant reading more books than I could handle. I had a boyfriend. Hanging out with Steve and his buddies, smoking pot, playing pinball, listening to Pink Floyd, quarrelling and making up - this consumed a lot of my time. Luckily I solved my reading problem - with a strategy so successful, I graduated phi beta kappa and magna cum laude with departmental honors. My secret? I learned that studying one page well was smarter than struggling through an entire book. Whether a novel was 250 or 500 pages, if I read a single chapter, page, or even paragraph with great sensitivity, I could tease out the relevant themes of the full text - and write a pretty decent paper at two am on the day it was due.
Taking the easy way out isn't exactly why, early on, I concentrated my astrology studies on the Moon. It's just that the more I looked at Luna, the more I recalled my college discovery, how within a single facet of any creative work, whether War and Peace, an impressionist painting, our solar system, or the galaxy, the whole cosmos might be read. Nature is economical. Or, like us, she gets a tune in her head and can't let go of it, singing its notes into new venues again and again. This is the testimony of fractals - the way geometric structures repeat themselves on any scale they're examined. Holograms too reveal how everything is enfolded into everything else, how throughout any system, the whole is captured in its smallest parts.
Look deeply at the Moon and you'll find more than the Moon. You'll find yourself and all the planets. You'll discover a rhythm that has permeated earth's life forms since the earliest cells washed ashore in the primordial high tides twice a day, or since the earliest animals fit their activities to the monthly round between Full Moon light and New Moon dark. You'll discover patterns of birth, growth and decay, patterns that spiral throughout your chart, past, present and future. Know the Moon and you'll know a lot. In this final installment of the Moon Watching series, we'll look at a few more secrets Moon phases can tell.
"Whether we move instinctively to the lunar rhythm, or must choose to synchronize ourselves with free will, if we want a broader support for our activities, it makes sense to keep Luna in mind. She offers temporal windows for beginnings and endings, and for everything in between. She is the consummate teacher of process."
There's a worm in the coral reefs of the South Pacific, called the palolo worm, considered a delicacy by Samoan natives. From October through November, palolo worms swarm and swim to the surface on the nights of the Last Quarter Moon, a happy fact for natives who know the worms' lunar regularity. Countless species - both animal and plant, in the oceans, in the sky, on land - respond to the Moon. A nocturnal bird, the European nightjar, also favors the Last Quarter, regularly laying its eggs at this phase. Its babies then hatch at the waxing Moon, when all growing things are strengthened, and feeding is easier in the increasing moonlight.
Would that all life were so predictable as the palolo worm or that our own activities could be so neatly timed as the nightjar's. It's widely believed that human behavior also responds to the Moon, but so far, statistical verification lags behind this belief. We're left to debate and wonder if the Moon really lies in our blood. Whether we move instinctively to the lunar rhythm, or must choose to synchronize ourselves with free will, if we want a broader support for our activities, it makes sense to keep Luna in mind. She offers temporal windows for beginnings and endings, and for everything in between. She is the consummate teacher of process.
During the two weeks of the waxing Moon, Luna's light is increasing. She's building form. This is the time to start projects. From New Moon to Full Moon, outer-directed activity is favored. Bring ideas into form. Give them a tangible presence in the outer world. From Full Moon to New Moon, the Moon's light is decreasing. She's losing form. This is the time to let go. Review, release, retire, prepare for the next new cycle. Introspection is favored. Conflicts and challenges are largely internal.
This is the lunar rhythm understood by gardeners. Growth-promoting activities - planting and fertilizing - are scheduled for the waxing Moon. Cutting, weeding, and pruning are reserved for the waning Moon. Gardeners know that the waxing Moon energizes flowers and leaves, what appears above ground, while the waning Moon nourishes roots. But who has time to garden these days? We're too busy dropping the kids off at daycare, writing emails, holding meetings, flying to Portland, buying new cars. How can the Moon help our lives?
Knowing the eight different phases of the Moon can help fine-tune the waxing/waning rhythm. Posting an item for sale on Ebay? This may be better launched at the waning cycle, especially in the Disseminating phase. Planning a party or an important business meeting? Choose one of the four more social phases: New, Crescent, Full or Disseminating. Going to the dentist for a root canal? Schedule this for the Balsamic Moon if you can; there will be less blood loss and recuperation will be supported by the waxing Moon. Dying your hair? Choose the Full Moon when your hair will better absorb the new tint.
Each of the eight Moon phases has its qualities. But before we get carried away planning our lives to the Moon, we should remember that phases aren't identical from month to month. The New Moon is a good time for beginnings. But each New Moon is in a different sign - and in a different aspect relationship to the other planets. A friend once launched her job search at the New Moon. She sent out dozens of resumes and was disappointed when she didn't get a single reply. That particular New Moon (i.e., the Sun-Moon conjunction) was squared by Neptune. Likely her resumes "disappeared" in various secretarial hands. They never got to the people who needed to see them. Or perhaps she'd been unclear about who she was sending them to. It may have been more fruitful to wait until the First Quarter to take action, using the New Moon to instead clarify her intent, or perhaps make her initial contacts metaphysically, on the astral plane.
Chronobiologists Endres & Schad make an important point about natural rhythms: they're not nearly so predictable as the relentless beat of the mechanical world. Because machines are designed to produce standard products, their rhythms are repetitive, repeating the same actions in the same way every time. Natural rhythms, like the recurring phases of the Moon, take place in a living context. Their repeated appearances are similar, but never the same - they're a live performance, not a recording. And in live performances, there's always the potential for missed notes, shifts in tempo, interruptions, surprise. First Quarter Moons may be generally auspicious for flexing our warrior strength. This doesn't mean all our punches will land whenever this phase arrives.
"Have you noticed how people are often depressed before their birthday? The pre-birthday blues is a common complaint which cycles make new sense of. A month and a half before your birthday, the transiting Sun is in a Balsamic relationship to your natal Sun. Your vitality goes underground. It may feel like a 'mini-death', and what's appropriate is to retreat from the world and rest - the same advice given for the monthly Dark Moon phase."
Moon phases can't protect us from the vicissitudes of life. We could perhaps hedge our bets by poring over dozens of charts, evaluating the appropriateness of a Moon phase against our personal context of transits, progressions, the solar return - or the global context offered by mundane charts. Of course this is something neither the nightjar nor the palolo worm needs to do. Nor, I think, do we. The most important thing I ever learned about Moon phases - and it took me years to learn - was that it's better to intuit them than to plan or think too much.
The Moon rules instinct and intuition, not our intellect. She transfers her rhythm to us through our bodies. We sense what's right to do when. People with a gift for timing show up in the right place at the right time intuitively. If we don't have this natural gift, working with Moon phases can strengthen our instincts, as long as we're also willing to improvise. The Moon is cyclic and changeable. She's more a teacher of process and presence than a mechanical clock. Each time we cycle back to a certain Moon phase, we should ask: How do I feel? What's the same this time? What's different? What's right to do now? This is the best way to time our lives to the Moon - with a willingness to fall in love with every moment, discerning the opportunity in every phase of our lives.
Rarely are big accomplishments achieved in a single month. They usually take more time. Yet the Moon's monthly practice in creativity is highly transferable knowledge. The monthly cycle can prepare you to meet all kinds of astrological weather. If, for example, you have a good understanding of the Gibbous between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place Moon phase, you'll recognize the conditions of this time - and know what to do with it - whenever it's served up. If you tend to have trouble with each Gibbous Moon phase, at least you'll know what you're personally up against.
Your chart might indicate a transiting planet is sesquiquadrate or inconjunct a natal planet, or your progressed Sun and Moon may be in Gibbous phase. But if your senses are alert, you won't need to look at the chart. You'll feel the frustration in your body, as unforeseen troubles conspire to halt your forward movement. What should you do? Analyze the situation, incorporate outer feedback, compromise and adjust, while patiently holding your focus. Remember this stalemate won't last forever; the Full Moon's turning point will eventually arrive. But what you learn during Gibbous may be priceless and necessary, making your Full Moon realization grander than you initially dreamed.
Knowing Moon phases is particularly useful for navigating planetary cycles - when Jupiter transits your natal Jupiter, for example, or the transiting Sun aspects your birth Sun. Have you noticed how people are often depressed before their birthday? The pre-birthday blues is a common complaint which cycles make new sense of. A month and a half before your birthday, the transiting Sun is in a Balsamic relationship to your natal Sun. Your vitality goes underground. It may feel like a "mini-death", and what's appropriate is to retreat from the world and rest - the same advice given for the monthly Dark Moon phase. After your birthday, when the Sun conjuncts your natal Sun, your life force returns. Your outlook is more expansive as you enter your Sun's New Moon phase, or the start of your personal new year.
Particularly productive is working with phases in the Mars cycle. Mars represents our desire nature and the internal fire to accomplish what we want. It's the go-getter in our chart. Mars circles the zodiac every two to two-and-a-half years - a decent timeframe for achieving worthwhile ambitions. Directing this cycle towards goals works well. If you're reading charts, the Mars cycle is a quick and easy indicator for the types of actions your clients may be, or may need to be, taking, whatever the situation slower-moving planets bring by transit. The Mars phase often shows what someone is capable of doing about a particular issue at the time.
So how does this work? When transiting Mars conjuncts your natal Mars, you've entered your Mars "New Moon" period. It's time to explore new possibilities. Venture out and experiment with self-expanding activities. When transiting Mars semi-squares your natal Mars, or moves 45 degrees ahead of the conjunction, you've entered your Mars "Crescent" period. It's time to anchor your ambitions. Focus your energy on what you can realistically accomplish and gather support for your plans. Beware of lethargy during this phase. A goal is most vulnerable the moment after it's declared. That's when habit and conditioned thinking take over. When transiting Mars squares natal Mars, you're at the Mars "First Quarter" phase. Opponents may appear. Meet your obstacles head-on and take active steps to carve your new reality. Anger can be a motivating force.
You've entered the Mars "Gibbous" phase when transiting Mars moves 135 degrees ahead of your natal Mars, the waxing sesquiquadrate aspect. Expect to make adjustments or endure a wait, but hang in there, because this is the phase just prior to fulfillment. When Mars opposes your natal Mars, you're at the Full Moon of the Mars cycle. It's the time of illumination. The fruits of your first year's efforts are revealed. Watch the tendency to project - that is to hang your failure or fulfillment on somebody else. You'll do best if you take responsibility for what you see.
At Mars' waning sesquiquadrate to natal Mars, you're at the "Disseminating" phase. Start actively promoting yourself or sharing what you've learned. Begin converting activity into the wisdom of experience. At transiting Mars' waning square, you're in the "Last Quarter" phase. Actively cut from your life what no longer suits you. Bring your deeds in line with your basic values. You're in the Mars "Balsamic" phase when transiting Mars is 45 degrees behind your natal Mars, the waning semi-square. The activity in this phase is mostly non-activity. Behave as the Buddha advises: "Don't just do something, stand there!" Release, rest, and prepare for your next Mars cycle to begin.
The same phase intelligence can be brought to transits. Consider an opposition from transiting Saturn to natal Venus as a Full Moon phase. What you see is the fruition of a seed planted 14 years earlier when Saturn conjoined your Venus, this pair's New Moon, launching a new cycle of pleasure and responsibility. And if you're old enough, this Saturn opposition may reprise the themes from your last Saturn/Venus Full Moon, occurring about twenty-eight years earlier. Time always moves forward. It doesn't just return. But the same energy that gave birth to you and me also moves the stars, the planets, and the Moon. There are similarities therefore in every cycle, all transits, each moment. This is what I mean when I say "know the Moon and you'll know much more than the Moon." You'll understand the varied layers of time.
"Dane Rudhyar believed that as an integration of Sun and Moon, the natal lunation phase could tell far more about an individual than either of those lights alone. Instead of trading Sun signs at cocktail parties or Starbucks, we might do better to share natal Moon phases. The birth Moon phase describes a fundamental orientation."
Dane Rudhyar believed that as an integration of Sun and Moon, the natal lunation phase could tell far more about an individual than either of those lights alone. Instead of trading Sun signs at cocktail parties or Starbucks, we might do better to share natal Moon phases. The birth Moon phase describes a fundamental orientation. It surprises me that astrologers rarely consider the lunation phase in synastry (evaluating the potential success or failure of a relationship through birth chart affinities). In both business and romantic partnerships, people are basically working towards a common goal. Compatible Moon phases can go a long way towards sustaining a good marriage or keeping business partners together through tough times.
Throughout this series we've looked at personality characteristics of the eight lunation types. I won't repeat those characterizations here. But perhaps the simplest test for Moon phase affinity is whether someone was born during the waxing or waning half of the cycle. The waxing hemi-cycle favors action. Its urge is to build - to have a visible impact in the outer world. The waning hemi-cycle favors introspection. Its urge is to ponder the meaning of actions or to re-think existing structures. Moon phases divide the world into two types: those who act and those who think.
Of course this is a simplistic distinction. Any human has to both think and do. What we're really getting at is someone's primary motivation, what yanks them out of bed each morning and drives them forward year after year. Waxing births are here to create forms. Waning births are here to question and transform what already exists. Understanding this can help you penetrate to the heart of the matter with anyone, whatever else is going on in their chart.
Consider two architects - one born at the waxing Moon, the other at the waning. Both will design buildings. But the one born at the waxing Moon will take the greatest delight in seeing her architectural plans realized, bringing something into existence that didn't exist before, leaving behind a tangible legacy of structures. That's the spark that will keep her going. The waning Moon architect will more likely be enthralled with the concepts of architecture, perhaps challenging old ideas of design, coming up with new visions. Both will have to meet with clients, sit at a drafting table and visit onsite contractors, but the parts of this work each enjoys will be different.
I once worked with five astrology aficionados who had started a computer consulting firm together. The chart for their business launch was shaky - and before the first year was up, three of the original partners had quit. The split occurred along natal Moon phase lines. The three who abandoned the firm were waning births, all Disseminators. The two who remained were waxing births, both First Quarters. The Disseminators had left over philosophical differences, taking their abundant enthusiasms elsewhere. The First Quarters were the ones who'd actually made the business happen. They'd gotten the space, the equipment, printed up the business cards. The First Quarters kept the consulting firm going for awhile, but as is the way of First Quarters, they needed to keep building. They folded the first business and started another soon after.
Notice how often cliques in your workplace or among friends collect along Moon phase lines. Of course sharing a natal lunation phase creates a certain affinity, but it's not the only ingredient for a successful relationship. It can also mean that the weaknesses of a particular lunation type are doubled. If two individuals born on opposite halves of the lunation cycle have respect for each other's strengths and differences, they can complement each other well. I love the progressed lunation cycle. I wouldn't do an astrology reading without it. In ten years of selling Moonprints reports, many of the "Wow's" I've received have come from people whose personal mysteries were explained by this cycle. I've discussed progressed Moon phases in previous installments of this series. Many astrologers work with them - but rarely do astrologers discuss their value in understanding the Saturn return. Saturn and the progressed Sun-Moon cycle go around the chart at the same rate, returning to their natal positions every 28 years. When unmet desires rear up at the Saturn return, they will often have their roots in the natal Moon phase.
Brian came to me on his first Saturn return. With his natal Saturn in his second house, we talked of course about money and career. He'd recently gotten a promotion with a good-sized raise. It seemed like he was experiencing a happy Saturn return, reaping professional rewards for past efforts. But people don't usually come for readings because life is going well. Something else was going on.
Brian's crisis was that he desperately wanted to get married - certainly a reflection of Saturn's urge toward greater maturity and commitment. But his girlfriend was pulling back. He told me that his relationship life had always been more important than his work life and now he was miserable. Curiously, his chart had an abundance of "freedom" signatures: a Sagittarius Ascendant and a stellium in Aquarius opposing a 9th House Moon conjunct Uranus. Does that sound like someone desperate for a commitment? No way. In fact there was only one thing in his chart that indicated this desperation about relationships. He was a Full Moon baby. His progressed Full Moon return held the astrological key to his dilemma.
Full Moon types often attract partners to play out their shadow selves. When Brian and I looked at how there was a part of him that still craved freedom, it took some of the sting out of his girlfriend's rejection. As a Full Moon baby, learning lessons through relationships would be a constant theme in Brian's life. Through the lens of his progressed Full Moon return, he was able to momentarily, at least, achieve the balanced perspective that Full Moon births so deeply desire.
And I, of course, was grateful for the Moon - which provided the strongest clue to his needs at the time. Once again, that old strategy paid off: Read one page - or planet - well and tease out the meanings of the full text. This is the last article in my Moon Watching series, but my love for the Moon - and I hope yours now too - will go on and on.
TWELVE 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|
23-May-2018, 15:37 UT/GMT
|Explanations of the symbols|
|Chart of the moment|