RIDING THE WAVE
The Progressed Lunation Cycle
by Frédérique Boele

 

Introduction

This article was first published in the Feb/Mar 2006 issue of The Mountain Astrologer. We would like to thank Ms. Boele and the TMA for the right to publish it here.

Every month an invisible New Moon signals we can make a fresh start and, as the cycle progresses and the Moon waxes, we can learn, grow and invest. At the second half of the cycle, after the Full Moon, we may reap what we have sown, reflect on and eventually bring to a close that which was conceived at that beginning. In her excellent Moon Watching series[1] Dana Gerhardt introduced readers of the TMA to this monthly cycle.

The progressed Sun and Moon perform the same dance every thirty years, its timing entirely dependent on our personal birth chart [2]. When the progressed Moon (moving at approximately 13 degrees a year) joins the progressed Sun (travelling at 1 degree a year) we, individually, experience a progressed New Moon for a period of three and a half years. For people born during a Last Quarter or Balsamic phase, that is towards the end of the monthly cycle, this could happen very early in life; for those born at a New Moon or Crescent phase on the other hand, it could be in their mid- to late twenties. The progressed lunation cycle thus beats a slow but deeply meaningful rhythm to our lives, one that we may easily overlook but that can actually put even slow moving Pluto transits into a larger context. It is worthwhile, therefore, to pay attention to whatever progressed Moon phase we are currently at so we can attune ourselves to it.

About this article

When reading this article the reader will realize that, although many of my observations are not vastly different from those who have written on this subject before me, I use a different framework when relating the phases to the houses or signs [3]. Whereas most astrologers assume that the conjunction (and therefore the New Moon) equals 0° Aries and derive all other aspects and lunar phases from that point (i.e. First Quarter is like Cancer, the opening inconjunct is like Virgo), I firmly believe the conjunction and start of the cycle should be compared to the IC, the start of the fourth house. Aries and the Ascendant represent the dawn, the beginning of spring (at least on the Northern Hemisphere), a radical break with the past and, of course the moment of birth. But birth, however momentous a beginning, is only the continuation of life that was set in motion at conception. Likewise, midnight is the time when the old day dies and the new day is born. The IC is often thought of as representing the end of life; it makes sense to conclude that in a cycle this implies it is the beginning of new life as well. I am therefore convinced that the ‘conjunction = 0° Aries’ theory is in need of revision. If my conclusions do not seem to contradict other authors too much, it is in my opinion because very few have applied this theory consistently. Most have instead relied on their own observations and experience and I will do the same, as I do not think that the meaning of the lunar phases can be entirely reduced to the traditional interpretations of the houses. However, I do believe that linking the start of the cycle to the IC will shed new light on the lunar cycle and this I hope to explore in this article.

The Progressed New Moon

(Angular Separation of Sun and Moon: 0°-44°)

New MoonThe progressed Sun – Moon conjunction is one of the most pivotal times in our lives, as it signals both the beginning and the end of the cycle.

Our New Moon phase may therefore start with an overriding sense that something is finally over. Paradoxically, the conjunction, as it closes the circle, can represent the most definite separation from the past of all the other aspects of the lunation cycle and we may be confronted with losses and terminations. Often, a period of mourning and reorientation is called for. This may be a low point in someone’s career, a time of obscurity, unemployment and confusion. After ten years as the British Prime-minister, Margaret Thatcher was forced to resign and Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney experienced the break-up of the Beatles. The end represented by this phase of the lunar cycle may even take the form of a major achievement to which there is no obvious sequel. Buzz Aldrin became the second man on the Moon but suffered subsequently from a severe depression, which, we may speculate, may have had something to do with a feeling of “What next?” [4]

However, as one cycle ends, another begins. We can compare the New Moon to the mid-winter point, or transits to the Nadir, the IC, the lowest, most private and obscure point of the chart. The image is that of a seed, which is germinating but is still hidden in the ground, or that of a human egg cell, fertilized by a sperm, growing and separating whilst the mother does not know yet that she is pregnant. As these images show, beginnings at the New Moon phase may be small and hardly visible to the naked eye. We may be in the dark during the progressed New Moon as plans, projects or, in fact our new identity, have not crystallized yet. Especially with young people therefore, the progressed New Moon can mean there is confusion about which direction to take. It is a kind of dreamtime, when many things may occur to you, only one or two of which will eventually take root. It is wise to allow the young New Moon types their dreamtime and not to pressure them into committing themselves prematurely into this direction or that.

At the New Moon we are all rather like young children. In myths and stories the young hero often starts his life in obscurity and in what we may call a 4th house situation. He (or she) may be vulnerable, hidden, isolated from the world or merely innocent and comfortable in a restricted, womb-like environment.Frodo Baggins We can think of Siegfried, being raised below the ground by gnomes that nourish the roots of the tree of life (which we can associate with the IC/MC axis); Frodo Baggins in his hobbit hole; or Harry Potter in his cupboard under the stairs. During the New Moon phase therefore, we may find ourselves in a similar situation and it may be helpful to think of ourselves as experiencing a hero’s childhood, whatever age we really are.

Since the Progressed New Moon is like a transit over the IC, this phase often means we have to move and establish new roots somewhere else. More often however, there is a distinct movement towards home. As we retreat from the world, we seek a safe place to hibernate or weather the crisis. We may find we must reconnect to our roots. This often happens quite literally. One client of mine had to move back in with her mother after having suffered a crushing career disappointment; another had spent most of her childhood abroad, when at her progressed New Moon her parents repatriated and even moved into the ancestral home. The Progressed New Moon may therefore mean that, after having travelled far, explored many things, we finally come home, to do as our fathers did, and their mothers before them. There may be a new appreciation of our parent’s values, or we may find out things about our personal background of which we had previously been unaware. On another level, and perhaps more to the point, the progressed New Moon and its ‘homecoming’ theme,i may be about finding our point of gravity, that which lies at the root of our personality and our being, the core of our existence. We come home to ourselves. Doing so, we may find that pursuits we had given up on, or shelved indefinitely during the last cycle, are given a new lease on life. We may pick up, once more, that musical instrument that has been gathering dust for the last ten years or decide to finish that college education we had to interrupt for unforeseen reasons.

If we have stuck to our dreams all along, the Progressed New Moon may mean we move on to a higher level and find reaffirmation of who we are and what we are about. The old theme acquires a new dimension, often in the form of a new career challenge. I have been comparing the New Moon to a transit over the IC, and when that happens, the MC is activated as well. The Progressed New Moon can therefore mean that our station in life is changed. Neil Armstrong, an enthusiastic amateur pilot, joined the Navy to fly missions in Korea; John Paul II became Pope. The Beatles met Brian Epstein and signed their first recording contract during John Lennon’s New Moon. We may continue what we were doing before, but instead of playing for the local amateurs we are now playing major league and all of a sudden it is a very different ball game.

The Progressed Crescent Moon

(45°-89°)

Crescent MoonIf the cycle starts at the IC, it follows that at the start of the Crescent phase, we find ourselves halfway through that part of the cycle that corresponds to 5th house. The 5th house is the house of the Sun, and in this house we express ourselves so we can feel and become a unique individuals. In myths this is the moment that the son of a virgin feels compelled to search for his father, while fairytale heroes may go in search of golden apples or life-giving elixirs, all symbols of solar energy. And so the hero decides to leave home to seek his fame and fortune, thus embarking on a quest of self-discovery. In the same way, when we are at the Crescent phase, we must take a risk in order to create our own story and set the ball rolling. We must leave the house, go to school, start dating or bring a child into the world.. Sometimes circumstances may force us to take action when we had rather stayed passive but the new cycle must start and we must make it our own.

So if a Crescent phase follows a New Moon period of dreams, disorientation and lazing about, the half-square urges us to do something. The challenge here is to start moving, even if the direction and goal are not very clear. We may decide at this stage to get a job, whatever job, to get some work experience under our belt. We must set out on the journey, even if we are not perfectly sure where the journey is going to take us, we must get out of the house.

If during the Progressed New Moon we suffered depression, unemployment, obscurity or hospitalisation, now could be the time to (re-)emerge. If at our progressed New Moon we rediscovered an old dream we must now take the first steps to make that dream come true and perhaps start taking music lessons or business administration classes. After the Progressed sextile we find ourselves in that part of the cycle that corresponds to the 6th house and we may discover that to realize our dreams we have to do some hard and boring work. Since we are almost inevitably new at what we are doing in the Crescent phase, it is characterized by a steep learning curve; we have to learn how to live with that new partner, how to parent those newborn children or how to cope at that new job.

In stories and folktales this part of the Crescent phase corresponds with the moment the hero or heroine is asked to render a service, perhaps by freeing a trapped animal or helping and old woman. Sometimes our protagonists must serve an apprenticeship. We are in the 6th house; we must work and learn and adapt and prove ourselves worthy. Some heroes now meet the mentors who will prepare them for their heroic career: this is when Arthur meets Merlin, or when Jason and Achilles spend time with Chiron [6]. The moral of the stories in all their diversity is the same. If the hero is helpful, diligent or attentive enough, their efforts will not go un-rewarded, and they themselves will receive help, advice or maybe a magical amulet or sword that will protect them in the adventures that await them. We would be wise if at this stage we accept help and guidance for thus we may acquire skills and experience that will stand us in good stead later on.

And we need support, because at the Crescent phase, we are young and inexperienced at the world of this cycle. We may prefer at this stage to be part of a collective, people with roughly the same ideas and aspirations. Maybe we need to depend on a teacher, tradition or senior colleague to teach us the rudiments of what we are trying to learn, or hold on to our parents’ values while we are trying to raise our own children. At this stage we must be open-minded, eager to experiment, learn and adapt and willing to defer judgement. It would be wise to honour our need for structure and security to protect the new. In fact, we have to create a kind of safe, learning environment for ourselves. The BeatlesAt this time it is not such a good idea to stop, reflect, evaluate or analyse our inner doubts as we don’t as yet have sufficient perspective to realize how valid our experiences are or where they will take us. If circumstances are ideal however, we can make amazing progress in these years and be very successful. John Lennon was going through his Progressed Crescent phase at the height of the Beatles’ popularity. We can see, however, that he was still in the typical Crescent situation of operating within a group of childhood friends under the strict management of Brian Epstein. His entering the next phase – Progressed First Quarter – would not go unnoticed.

The Progressed First Quarter Moon

(90°-134°)

First QuarterDuring the Crescent phase we have crawled out of the egg and – supported by our parents – we have experienced rapid growth and acquired feathers. For a while now we have been practicing flapping our wings, flexing our flight muscles and preparing for take off. Now, at First Quarter it is time to fly. So regardless of our age and circumstances, First Quarter usually brings a clean break from the past, a cutting of the umbilical cord and greater independence. When this phase arrives we may want to turn our back on what was a familiar but too restricting environment and so we will quite likely undergo tests of strength, courage and judgement. If we look at diagram we can see why this is so and what other themes may be playing out at First Quarter.

Progressed Lunation Wave

If the Progressed New Moon can be compared to transits or progressions to the IC, it follows that Progressed First Quarter is similar to planets crossing the Descendant. All cycles can be represented by the pattern of a wave and diagram shows how I think the lunation cycle -and indeed all other planetary cycles- relate to the four angles of a chart. The lowest and most amorphous point of the wave and also of the chart is the IC; the point of midnight; the proverbial seed, invisible, hidden in the ground or the womb. Next, from New Moon to Full Moon, comes the waxing half of the cycle; the wave goes up and reaches its zenith or apotheosis at the point of noon; the MC; the highest point in the chart. Then follows the waning part of the cycle: the wave goes down. Between New Moon and Full, half way up, we reach a critical juncture as we cross the Ascendant-Descendant axis. At this point we leave the private realm of the lower and enter the public arena of the upper hemisphere.

If we have been taking instructions while adhering to certain traditions, we may now feel ready to make our own choices, formulate our own philosophies, or decide on our own methods. We may feel we are now ready to start our own business, or, if we are already self-employed, to take on a bigger challenge and enter a new market or launch a new product. If we have been writing a book the First Quarter is an appropriate time to send the manuscript to the publishers.

Whatever happens it is clear that at First Quarter we may have to face competition and the judgement of others and there is no doubt that to many of us this is a Lord of the Ringsfrightening prospect. On the eve of the publication of The Lord of the Rings, at his progressed First Quarter, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote in a letter to a friend: "I am dreading the publication, for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at." [7] Under these circumstances it is natural to turn to friends and allies so we do not have to face the enemy alone. When we try to manage without the support of parents of parental figures our peers become more important. At First Quarter we may therefore need to associate ourselves with kindred spirits, join clubs of find partners to help us through this rite of passage. From this perspective we can also see how throughout the ages leaving home has – especially for women- been almost synonymous with getting married; the spouse in many ways replaces the parent of the opposite gender. Weddings are therefore quite a common event at First Quarter. Princess Diana is a prime example as her wedding at her Progressed First Quarter also heralded the beginning of her life as a public figure and her rivalry with Camilla Parker. However, because of the First Quarter tendencies to break away from the past to gain independence, divorces are as common as weddings at this phase. The one, of course, does not necessarily exclude the other. When John Lennon reached his Progressed First Quarter he divorced his first wife, married Yoko Ono and started his solo-career, all typical First Quarter actions.
If we are too young to get married we may, of course, meet a very significant other in the form of another sibling whose birth could mean companionship as well as new responsibilities and competition for mother’s attention. And since the 7th house rules enemies as well as partners, our progressed First Quarter could also mean having to face the school or office bully.

Having left home to start our heroic journey, we cross the boundaries of what is safe and familiar and enter a strange and dangerous topsy-turvy land where we are faced with ‘the other’ on which many hopes and fears can be projected. The First Quarter phase therefore means we have to deal with 7th and 8th house issues. Little Red Riding Hood ventures into the forest and meets a wolf. Is this a charming creature or is she in mortal danger? Heroes now find themselves abandoned by their guides or companions and must now face many dangers alone. Princesses marry a Beast or a Bluebeard or find themselves making promises to a frog. Their parents gone, these characters must now make their own judgments in their dealings with these creatures.

As previous examples have shown, not all progressed First Quarters are so dramatic. For many children it may quite simply be the next step towards independence, taken with confidence and encouraged by the parents. Some of us may even choose not to take the plunge, at least not at this stage. Though the young bird on the edge of the nest is either going to fly or die, we humans may decide that we are not quite ready yet. In that case the Full Moon and Last Quarter phases will definitely remind us of what we failed to do. However, for most of us who are approaching the Progressed First Quarter, it is time to take a deep breath and put trust in our wings.

The Progressed Gibbous Moon

(135°-179°)

Gibbous MoonIn the years preceding the Progressed Full Moon our world widens up, opening new vistas. We may find ourselves visiting a big city or travelling to the mountains for the first time, or maybe we are introduced to world literature or a higher form of education; we are meeting life at a scale that teaches us about the vastness of the universe and we realize it is a big world out there.

In the thirty degrees leading up to the Progressed Sun –Moon opposition we are in the 9th house and so naturally we are expanding our horizons. In stories and folktales we find the hero flying a magic carpet or mythical bird to some far away land in order to fulfil his quest and so, with the Full Moon approaching we may feel the same kind of exhilaration. However, in these foreign parts, the hero may well encounter hulking giants with voracious appetites. Everything grows big during the Gibbous Moon, including problems and powerful emotions.

The Gibbous phase starts in fact where the First Quarter phase ended: in the 8th house. Ideally the confrontation with ‘the other’ during the First Quarter has transformed us. We may have bonded with our significant other in such a way that we are now stronger and more complete than previously. Having faced the challenge and discovered our hidden strengths, we may now set our sights higher than before and feel the future beckon. Many new possibilities present themselves and we may feel we can reach for the stars. We may, literally or symbolically have conceived and feel our child growing inside us; a woman heavy with child is an apt image for the Gibbous Moon.

On the other hand the confrontations at the First Quarter may not have gone so well. We may have suffered defeat or betrayal with the result that now we feel traumatized, frustrated and powerless. Like Bluebeard’s wife we may have discovered the bloody heads in the secret chamber. In this case our emotional tension, anxiety and dissatisfaction are rising as we look for a way out. As the Moon waxes, our feelings will be increasingly difficult to contain or conceal.

Protests against RushdieIn our enthusiasm or growing discomfort we may easily overdo things during this phase. Since we can sense we are approaching the crest of a wave we are very willing to invest our time, money and efforts. We may sacrifice sleep, eat too much fast food, smoke too many cigarettes, or get ourselves into ever greater debt. We may take on an ever growing work load as we climb the corporate ladder and children may become excessive in their demands for freedom. For some of us it may all become too much to deal with. At his progressed Gibbous phase Salman Rushdie had to go into hiding as religious outrage over his Satanic Verses reached fever pitch.

There may be initial successes at this period, usually promising even bigger things in the future. However, there may also be outbursts of impatience, anger or frustration, the warning shots of a working volcano. Towards the end of the Gibbous phase we are in labour. Whether we are expecting a child, an emotional breakdown or a scientific breakthrough, the Full Moon will reveal.

The Progressed Full Moon

(180°-224°)

Full MoonAt the progressed Full Moon we reach the zenith of the lunation cycle and we must therefore compare it to the highest point of the horoscope, the MC and the 10th house. Simply stated: at the Full Moon we experience either a climax or an anti-climax. Having reached Saturn’s house we may expect either a concrete achievement or a disappointment. Both our hopes and fears may now materialize. At the Gibbous phase we were pregnant; now we are delivered of our baby, be this a real child, a theatre production or a new idea. So for some of us the Full Moon means a high point in our life or career; the fulfilment of a dream. In stories we reach the apotheosis as quests are fulfilled and fiery dragons are slain. The story of the sacking of Troy is probably the best example of such a denouement. The giant horse statue laden with warriors (Jupiter, 9th house, Gibbous) gives birth to the ultimate victory to the Greeks, but death and destruction to the Trojans. (Saturn,10th house). Greek poets, in fact, relate that the event took place during a Full Moon. [8]

We are at the MC and therefore we may be very much out there on the world stage and in the public eye. This does not necessarily spell good fortune or success, however. A scandal may break bringing us much unwanted attention. We may also have to face the inevitable consequences of our excesses during the Gibbous phase and suffer burn-out or a heart attack. Our recklessness may result in a crash or an accident, bringing us to a dead stop. We may feel that we have reached the limit of our endurance and run away from an untenable situation or we may simply not get the prize of promotion we had been looking forward to, not necessarily because we are undeserving but because there is little room at the top and so often there can only be one winner. At his Full Moon Al Gore suffered defeat at the 2000 elections which he had probably expected to win and John Kerry suffered the same fate in 2004.

Failure or success, the Full Moon always brings a release of energy as we experience the relief of a definite result. We have run into our limitations and must now resign ourselves to the situation or we have scaled our mountain and can now spend a few moments enjoying the view. Ideally, therefore, the Full Moon brings a sense of liberation. Our goals achieved we can now treat ourselves to a holiday. Subsequently, the later part of the Full Moon is often more quiet that the exciting but hectic Gibbous phase. For the time being our struggles are over, and we can begin to look at our situation and achievements more dispassionately and set ourselves new objectives. Sometimes, however, an emotional crisis is needed to clear the air first.

Detachment and separation are in fact major themes during the progressed Full Moon. The distance between the Sun and Moon is now at its maximum and this may lead to polarization in our lives at this stage. We may think in black and white and wish to shed that part of us we feel is evil, heinous or destructive. We want to rid ourselves of our demons and to leave our old life as far behind us as we possibly can. I know several people who decided to emigrate at this phase, others who felt they should at least take a trip round the world. At the MC, we are opposite the 4th house and so the Full Moon may find us very far from home. For children it is not uncommon to experience their parents’ divorce at this stage: their father and mother are now worlds apart.

This ultimate separation also occurs during the shamanic quest for a healing or revitalising vision. After mortification or even (apparent) death of the body, the spirit is released and able to travel to other spheres; it may ascend to the heavens or descend into the underworld of the ancestors; in astrological terms: to travel up or down the world axis of the MC/IC. In fact, the crest of the wave as seen in the diagram represents the point of greatest enlightenment. At the Full Moon both solar and lunar forces are at their peak. The Moon is at its most visible and dramatic as it reflects the Sun’s light with maximum effect, while the MC is the Sun’s province, the point of noon where the Moses receives the ten commandmentsSun reaches its highest position in the sky. With all this light, we must see clearly. It is for this reason that the Full Moon is often quoted as being a time for visions and revelations. We are on top of the world, talking to the gods. The religious quest and spiritual fervour of the ninth house and Gibbous phase now crystallize into a concrete vision, conversion or articles of faith. Clearly this is the moment when Moses receives the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinaï or when Christ is crucified on Mount Golgotha. According to legend it was also during a Full Moon that Siddharta liberated himself from all worldly illusions and became the realized Buddha.

For some of us the awe we experience during the late Gibbous and early Full Moon phase can be such an inspiration that we find our vocation and a career direction. At his first progressed Full Moon a six year old Neil Armstrong was taken up in a small aircraft and fell in love with space and flying. His second, thirty years later, found him in outer space on the Gemini 8 mission, very far away from home indeed.

The Progressed Disseminating Moon

(225°-269°)

Disseminating MoonAt the Disseminating phase we often see the beginning of the ‘going home’ theme that characterizes the second half of the cycle. Whereas in the first half we were busy leaving home and breaking free from the past, after the Full Moon we have to return, bringing with us, however, our experience and insights to change and improve the situation or place we came from. In this way we revisit the past and change it at the same time.

We are now in the 11th and 12th house and so the result of the Full Moon must somehow be assimilated by the collective. We must share our illuminations or success with others. This is when Moses comes down the mountain with the stone tablets to give them to his people. Similarly, if we have just spent a year in India with our Guru, now we may have to come home and use our changed attitude in a new job. Our sabbatical year or our pregnancy leave may be over and we return to a familiar routine. We may also build on our achievement of the Full Moon: Neill Armstrong steps on the Moonwe can now take our diploma to the job market or use our prize to get funding for the next project. Neil Armstrong continued his space flights to become the First Man on the Moon. His comment that the small step he was taking would be a giant leap for mankind expressed a very Disseminating (or 11th house) sentiment.

If the Full Moon brought disappointment or downfall this phase often means we are trying to come to terms with the facts. The sense of detachment and crystallization of the later part of the Full Moon continues into the Disseminating phase and we may spend time reflecting on what happened, evaluate our actions, lick our wounds and draw our conclusions. If we have found a vocation, we must take subsequent action. This means that now we find our niche or place in society. We may join a movement or political party or otherwise seek out kindred spirits. A fifteen-year-old McCartney, for instance, joined the Beatles at this phase. We may start to build networks to further our newfound cause.

For some the return after the heroic deeds and high drama of the Full Moon is an even greater challenge than the outward journey. Odysseus’ adventures really begin after the successful sacking of Troy and he has to overcome many dangers while sailing through a dreamlike seascape of many wonders. (12th house) And today war veterans may experience the same frustrations and difficulties as they feel lost and alienated when coming home after having lived through extreme circumstances and battle in faraway lands. They may feel, in fact, like they have not really come home at all but are still far away in spirit.

Those who at the Full Moon fled from what seemed insurmountable problems may find themselves on the run or hiding, incapable or unwilling to face the problems they left behind. Others may feel quite comfortable in the service of their chosen causes. Our jobs or institutions may provide us with a collective identity that protects us like a warm blanket. During the reintegration process which is typical of the Disseminating phase, we may add more and more water to the wine of our Full Moon convictions and may in fact be in danger of forgetting what we knew then with such absolute clarity.

In stories we may recognize these 12th house themes when we read the hero is in exile, maybe imprisoned, maybe wandering the wilds, maybe quite comfortable and happy like enchanted sleepers or like Odysseus’ men who visited the lotus eaters and, drugged by the honey tasting flowers, forgot they had a home to go to. Similarly, those spirits who have transcended their worldly existence and reached Nirvana, may decide never to reincarnate anymore.

The Disseminating phase may therefore be a rather quiet time in which we may find ourselves hiding, underachieving and forgetting to some degree. In that case, however, the Last Quarter will sound an unforgiving wake up call.

The Progressed Last Quarter

(270°-314°)

Last QuarterThe progressed Last Quarter can be compared to transits or progressions to the Ascendant (see diagram). This means that we move from the collective and public 12th house to the extremely personal 1st house. The Last Quarter can therefore be as painful as birth; we have to leave the womb, wake up form a long sleep and face who we are, alone and separate. This crisis can also be compared to the sobering experience of having to retire, when we all of a sudden find we are no longer part of a collective and have lost our public, social or corporate identity. We now have to return to our essential self. The last quarter of the cycle corresponds to the first three houses; the main building blocks of our personality.

The progressed Last Quarter therefore raises urgent questions about who we are, what we want and how we see our destiny. Examples of these questions are:
-“I really want to have a baby before I am too old, but will I be strong enough to raise it on my own?”
-“What do we really want to do and experience before, in a few years time, we marry, settle down and start a family?”
-“I have been putting it off but I do want to start my own business. But should I now that the economy is about to go into recession?”

At Last Quarter we should shake free from many distractions, focus and return to ourselves. In stories we are told of the hero’s return. For those who have been adrift, in hiding or in exile it is time to come home, dispose of the tyrants and usurpers and claim their inheritance.

When, after having wandered the seas for many years Odysseus arrives back in his native Attica he is alone, destitute and goes unrecognised. Now he must prove himself to be the rightful king and by feats of strength reclaim his wife and his throne. Nelson MandelaA modern equivalent of this well-known theme would be Nelson Mandela, who, after nearly thirty years in prison was released at his progressed Last Quarter, now facing the challenge of becoming South Africa’s first black president.

Like First Quarter therefore, Last Quarter may bring tests of strength and courage and especially for young people the Last Quarter phase may be very similar to a First Quarter experience: both can mean a step towards greater independence and self-realization. (In fact, at each phase of the cycle we may be confronted with issues related to the house opposite to the one we are currently at.) However, there are differences. As we have seen from the examples quoted above, our concerns at Last Quarter are more about the future than about the past. At First Quarter we may worry about being ready; at Last Quarter we tend to be afraid we have left things too late. We may feel we have to set out on journey with winter or old age approaching. Another difference we can sometimes observe is that at Last Quarter the rebellious spirit , characteristic of both Quarter phases, is not so much directed against our personal background, parents, mentors etc. (houses 4-6) but against a collective; history or society in general (houses 10-12). At his progressed Last Quarter Mohammed Ali changed his name and his religion in defiance of the history of blacks in America, and so forged a new identity for himself.

At Last Quarter we are forcefully reminded of the fact that the cycle is nearing its end. We may feel we have to steel ourselves in anticipation of a crisis, or that we are offered one last opportunity to make a dream come true; in most cases, therefore, the Last Quarter will spur us into action.

The Progressed Balsamic Moon

(315°-359°)

Balsamic MoonAs the Progressed Moon approaches the conjunction with the Progressed Sun, our world shrinks. People who supported us or structures that provided us with a sense of security and identity may fall away, leaving us lonely and vulnerable. Dreams that sustained us may have to be abandoned or postponed indefinitely. Our plans may be thwarted; our efforts may fail. Our physical health may deteriorate and need extra care and attention. And so we must go inward, retreat, regroup and recover before we are ready to move back out and into the world again after the conjunction, during the New Moon and Crescent phases. The approaching Progressed New Moon may be the winter of our discontent, when we have to lie low, go into hibernation until light and life return again. The progressed Balsamic Moon, leading up to that time, may therefore test us severely; Vincent van Gogh succumbed to physical weakness, mental illness and despair during this phase. Muhammad Ali was stripped of his world title and barred from boxing because he refused the draft for religious reasons. However, the progressed Balsamic Moon need not always be so dire.

Though some of these losses and endings may be forced upon us, there are other scenarios. During the cycle that is coming to an end, we have been confronted with many challenges, some of which we may have shied away from. Now, at the eleventh hour, we may feel ‘it’s now or never’ and say good-bye to emotional crutches, illusions, fears and frustrations. It is a perfect time to get rid of negative attitudes and inhibitions that are holding us back. In fact, since we are feeling less robust we may lack the energy to sustain our inhibitions and defences and find we can free ourselves from them. Quite often in this case, there is a regret in retrospect for not having done so sooner. This phase may therefore be the time when we finally admit to our true feelings or problems. We may after many years declare our love and commit ourselves to a relationship or face our inner scars and seek counsel and healing.

At this stage in our lives we should find closure to clear the decks for the next cycle. In doing so it is important we find the right words to say that which has remained, perhaps too long, unsaid, or words that to us will encapsulate the essence of our past experiences. This last part of the cycle corresponds after all to the 3rd house. Our last words, to anyone or on any issue take on tremendous importance. We may find we want to write our memoirs or feel the need to describe our emotions to an analyst. The Beatles Anthology, a ten hour TV documentary from 1995 in which the Beatles told their own story, was made when both McCartney and Ringo Starr were experiencing their Balsamic phase. It may also be deeply felt intentions or beliefs we need to express. It is interesting to note that Winston Churchill’s famous war speeches (like: ‘We shall fight on the beaches’ or ‘Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few’) were made at his progressed Balsamic Moon. Especially the second time round we may feel we have a lot to say during this phase. Demetra George and Dana Gerhardt associate the ‘Dark Moon’ with the old crone or the wise woman. And old women may be past hard labour or childbearing tasks, but they tell children the stories and fairytales that contain the seeds of wisdom to be passed on through generations. At the Balsamic Moon, we may want to take on that role.

One of the images used to for the Balsamic Moon is that of the ripe and rotten fruit which releases the seed. Since we are stripped away of everything superfluous, we are reduced to our essence. Blockages are removed, issues are resolved, and everything falls into place. This means that at the Balsamic phase we may find ourselves doing exactly the right things and meeting exactly the right people, those things and people, in fact, that are essential to us. At this stage in our lives, therefore, we may feel like conserving our energies so we can focus on a few core activities.Vincent VanGogh We may, however, lack the strength, conviction or resources to carry through. Van Gogh had come into his unique expressive style, and reached the height of his artistic powers, but penniless, isolated and physically weakened, he could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. The seed is small and vulnerable, and we must protect it against the oncoming upheaval of the New Moon. Projects and relationships started during the Balsamic phase may experience an early crisis therefore. Once our relationship or project has survived this test, it will be all the stronger for it and can endure for the next cycle.

The above examples may still not sound too hope inspiring, but sometimes we experience also the most gratifying aspect of this phase. The second, waning half of the Lunation cycle is, after all, associated with ‘reaping what you’ve sown’, and at the Balsamic phase the harvest may well be ripe. The rewards and recognition that we have been hoping for may now, perhaps rather late in the day, finally be ours. Long held dreams may be fulfilled as we cash in our savings and long-term projects may be completed. Eleanor Roosevelt saw The Declaration of Human Rights accepted by the UN at her Balsamic Moon. This may be the time when we really come into our own. Nelson Mandela became president of an apartheid free South Africa. Winston Churchill became Britain’s wartime leader, a job he felt he had been preparing for all his life. Five years later, at his progressed New Moon, he could celebrate victory over Hitler and the job of a lifetime was done. For even as the Balsamic Moon hands us our final reward, the future and the changes of the New Moon are never far away.

New Moon revisited

During the Progressed New Moon we must become whole within ourselves.
The Sun and Moon, the two lights and most powerful entities in our chart are joined. And where before spirit and soul, mind and body, masculine and feminine, identity and roots may have been separate, they now become one. Going through the Balsamic and New Moon phases we are forced to take back those parts of ourselves that we have projected upon the world so we can reintegrate them within our personality. For some this may mean having to delve deeply within our subconscious to salvage parts of ourselves we had forgotten. Some may have to go through a mourning process to internalise those we lost. The progressed Sun-Moon conjunction may represent a death-rebirth experience not unlike a heavy Pluto transit. For some, the conjunction is less dramatic; it simply allows us to touch base, return to the source and venture forth again, sometimes with increased vigour. Others, however, may find they have now cast off all encumbrances and reached their and destiny and the culmination of their ambitions. They may experience their finest hour in the Balsamic and New Moon phases, even if their swansong announces the not too distant, inexorable end.

* * *

Chart (and Biographical) Data and Sources:
(in alphabethical order)

Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, January 20, 1930; 2:17 p.m. EST; Glen Ridge, NJ, USA (40°N48, 74°W12); AA: quoted birth certificate/birth record; birth certificate in hand from Lynne Koiner. The Moon landing occurred on July 20, 1969. Aldrin was hospitalised for depression in Oct. 1971 (biography from AstroDatabank by Lois Rodden).

Muhammad Ali, January 17, 1942; 6:35 p.m. CST; Louisville, KY, USA (38°N15, 85°W46); AA: birth certificate in hand from Steinbrecher. Ali announced that he had become a Black Muslim shortly after winning the heavyweight title on Feb. 25, 1964. His title was revoked in 1967 WWW.AFRICANAMERICANS.COM/MUHAMMADALI.HTM

Neil Armstrong, August 5, 1930, 12:31 a.m. EST; Washington, OH, USA (40°N34, 84°W12); AA: Lois Rodden quotes birth certificate in hand that gives Washington township in Auglaize County. Armstrong got his private pilot’s licence on Aug. 5, 1946 (his 16th birthday). He was a Navy aviator from 1949 to 1952 (biography from AstroDatabank). The Gemini 8 mission took place on March 16, 1966; the Moon landing, on July 20, 1969 (news media).

Winston Churchill, November 30, 1874; 1:30 a.m. GMT; Woodstock, England (51°N52, 01°W21); B: John Addey quotes his father’s letter for 1:30 a.m. Churchill’s famous war speeches were made in 1940 and 1941: "We shall fight them on the beaches" on June 4, 1940; "Never … was so much owed" on August 20, 1940 (www.winstonchurchill.org).

Bill Clinton, August 19, 1946: 8:51 a.m. CST: Hope, AR, USA (33°N40, 93°W36); A: from memory; note in hand from Mrs. Virginia Kelly, Clinton’s mother, to Shelley Ackerman with time handwritten. The Monica Lewinsky scandal broke in January 1998 (news media).

Diana, Princess of Wales, July 1, 1961; 7:45 p.m. GDT; Sandringham, England (52°N50, 00°W30'); A: Charles Harvey quotes data from her mother. Diana married Prince Charles on July 29, 1981 (news media).

John Lennon, October 9, 1940; 6:30 p.m. GDT; Liverpool, England (53°N25, 02°W55); A: Lois Rodden quotes his stepmother, Pauline Stone, by correspondence "from Lennon’s aunt who was present at the birth." Brian Epstein met the band in Nov. 1961 and signed them two months later. Lennon divorced Cynthia Powell on Nov. 8, 1968 and married Yoko Ono on March 20, 1969. His first solo album Imagine was released in 1970 (Frank C. Clifford, British Entertainers, 3rd edition, Flare Publications, MPG Books, 2003, pp. 31, 32).

Nelson Mandela, July 18, 1918; 2:54 p.m. EET; Umtata, South Africa (31°S35, 28°E47); DD: conflicting data, rectified by Noel Tyl. Mandela was released from jail on Feb. 11, 1990 and sworn in as president on May 10, 1994 (news media). Although Mandela's birth data are suspect, the progressed lunations allow for a wide margin of error — in this case, more than 24 hours on either side of the quoted time.

Paul McCartney, June 18, 1942; 2:00 p.m. GDWT; Liverpool, England (53°N25, 02°W55); A: Nalini Kanta Das (Tom Hopke) quotes Linda McCartney for the data. McCartney debuted in Lennon’s band on Oct. 18, 1957 and left the Beatles on April 9, 1970 (Clifford, British Entertainers, pp. 31, 32).
Pope John Paul II, May 18, 1920; 5:30 p.m. EET; Wadowice, Poland (49°N53, 19°E30); A: Grazia Bordoni quotes him on Italian TV. Cardinal Wojtyla was elected Pope on Oct. 16, 1978 (news media).

Eleanor Roosevelt, October 11, 1884; 11:00 a.m. EST; New York, NY, USA (40°N42, 74°W00); AA: birth record in hand from Joan Negus. The U.N. adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948 (www.un.org/Overview/rights.html).

Salman Rushdie, June 19, 1947; 2:30 a.m. IST; Bombay, India (18°N58, 72°E50); A: Catriona Mundle quotes him for "approximately 2:30 a.m., maybe a bit earlier" (AstroDatabank). The fatwa was declared on Feb. 14, 1989 (news media).

Ringo Starr, July 7, 1940; 12:05 a.m. GDT; Liverpool, England (53°N25, 02°W55); A: Lynne Palmer quotes him; same data by H. Davies in The Beatles, "just after midnight."

Margaret Thatcher, October 13, 1925; 9:00 a.m. GMT; Grantham, England (52°N55, 00°W29); A: Charles Harvey quotes Thatcher's private secretary. Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister on Nov. 22, 1990 (news media).

J. R. R. Tolkien, January 3, 1892; between 8:00 p.m. and midnight LMT; Bloemfontein, South Africa (29°S12, 26°E07); DD: Humphrey Carpenter quotes letter from father with the approximate time in J. R. R. Tolkien, A Biography, 1977, p. 12. Other sources quote other times. The first volume of The Fellowship of the Ring was published on July 29, 1954 (The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, ed. H. Carpenter, HarperCollins, 1995, p. 183).

Vincent van Gogh, March 30, 1853; 11:00 a.m. LMT; Zundert, Netherlands (51°N28, 04°E40); AA: birth certificate in hand from Steinbrecher. Van Gogh shot himself on July 27, 1890 and died on July 29 (www.vangoghgallery.com/misc/bio.htm).

Bibliography:
Busteed, Marilyn and Dorothy Wergin. Phases of the Moon. American Federation of Astrologers, 1996.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Fontana Press, 1993.
Costello, Darby. The Astrological Moon. CPA Press, 1996.
George, Demetra. Mysteries of the Dark Moon. HarperCollins Publishers, 1992.
George, Demetra. Finding Our Way through the Dark. ACS Publications, 1994.
Propp, Vladimir. Morphology of the Folktale. University of Texas Press, 1988.
Rudhyar, Dane. The Lunation Cycle. Shambhala, 1975.


Notes:
  1. The Mountain Astrologer, Oct/Nov 2001 – Feb. March 2003.
  2. Progressed by a day for a year. These progressions show for a 40-year old, the positions of Sun, Moon and planets, 40 days after his or her birth.
  3. I prefer to compare the lunar phases to the astrological houses rather than to the signs. The mid-winter sign is Capricorn on the Northern , but Cancer on the Southern Hemisphere, whereas the IC is always the midnight point, whatever sign occupies it.
  4. Reading the following examples of what actually happened at these phases, it is important to bear in mind that these progressed Moon phases are not exact timers; transits and progressions over the angles and other natal positions are far more reliable triggers. Nor can you tell with certainty from one event what phase a person is going through. Learning experiences may happen at any stage of the cycle, and the same holds for weddings and deaths. All the examples cited must therefore be seen in the larger context of the cycle.
  5. This homecoming theme is present throughout the second half of the Lunation cycle but is most pronounced around the progressed conjunction.
  6. The 6th house refers to aunts, uncles and mentors. See Steve Forest, “The Case of the Disappearing 6th house” in The Mountain Astrologer, June/July 2002, p. 9-16.
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited By Humphrey Carpenter, HarperCollins, London, 1995, p.172.
  8. Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, Combined Edition, Penguin, London, 1992, p.696

© 2005 Frédérique Boele – all rights reserved

Frédérique Boele was born on April 13, 1961 in The Hague, Netherlands. She studied English and American literature at Leiden University and later studied at the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London between 1989 and 1992. Since that time, she has been teaching English to the Dutch, Dutch to immigrants and refugees, and astrology to anyone who is interested. She can be contacted by e-mail at: fabaries@excite.com

For those who would like to find out where their current progressed new moon is, we have integrated it in the Extended Chart Selection as chart type "Natal and progressed New Moon". The current phase can be seen in the progressed chart.
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