Follow the Moon: Astrology of intention and mindfulness

y Teri Parsley Starnes

Teri’s interest with astrology lies with helping people see how following a practice of intention and self-awareness leads to a fuller relationship with Mystery. Astrology is a wonderful tool for this. Her weekly column orients readers to the seasonal energy of
each month’s Sun sign in order to set magical/mindful intention for the lunar month beginning at the New Moon.

Each week Teri will write about the unfolding energies that support and challenge our intentions. The ebb and flow of the lunar cycle resides deep in our souls. Through following the phases of the Moon, we remember the natural cycles that guide us.

Astrologers divide the lunar month into eight phases. These are:
New Moon: Dreaming
Crescent Moon: Beginning
First Quarter Moon: Manifesting
Gibbous Moon: Perfecting
Full Moon: Illuminating
Disseminating Moon: Sharing
Last Quarter Moon: Evaluating
Balsamic Moon: Surrendering

Come follow the Moon as we practice intentional awareness together.

Forecast for October 19, 2014 – October 25

Astrologers have a curious name for the last phase of the lunar cycle—the Balsamic phase. From what I’ve read, no one knows who first chose this term for the waning days of the Moon’s cycle. If you look up the word in a dictionary, no mention is made of the Moon or astrology. Balsamic, rather, is defined as being like an aromatic ointment, a healing balm, something distilled over time to achieve a concentrated essence or perfume. Is this why the word was chosen for this phase? I like to think so. If it is true that a lunar cycle, which begins at the New Moon, is a journey through intention and awareness, then the last phase should be a distillation of that experience, the juicy goodness left over when all is said and done. This week during the Balsamic phase we contemplate this question, What is the perfumed essence of the Libra lunar cycle?* What will we bottle up like an aged and precious vinegar to be used for healing and savoring as needed?

Libra naturally draws our attention to Balance. During this cycle I’ve been paying attention to how my choices are affected by balance as it naturally occurs in nature. I’ve been wondering about how to bring my choices into better alignment with this force so that the things I hold precious in this life may thrive. As events in our world ask us to wake up to our choices, it is easy to be overwhelmed. I recognize that equilibrium—a state of calm and responsiveness—helps me make better choices. An essence I wish to distill from this lunar cycle is a better sense of how to achieve this state of equilibrium and awareness.

The last few days of this Libra lunar cycle just happen to correspond with the last few days of the Libra season (the Sun’s journey through Libra). The next New Moon begins on the same day that the Sun enters Scorpio. This rarely happens and it seems important that this quirk of timing is further made rare by being an eclipse of the Sun at zero degrees of Scorpio. I keep thinking about sliding down a slope into the dark time of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere), from the dark of the Moon into the dark of Scorpio, with the darkening of the Sun to mark the transition. A notable quality of balsamic vinegar is its dark, syrupy appearance. Something about the taste evokes the fall season as we cherish ripened and aged flavors. Again I wonder, What is the taste of this Libra cycle; what is the taste of the half-year before it from Aries to now? What is the taste of darkness?

The Scorpio season holds Samhain, the witch’s new year and, more importantly, the season when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead thins to allow potent connection. This is not a romantic fantasy but can be physically felt in these waning days of the year as leaves fall to the ground, as sap returns to the root, and as plants wither away to become compost for next year’s growing season. The Earth broadcasts the thinning veil by receiving the gifts of these deaths, taking them underground into another world—the world of the dead. Where I live, the ground will eventually freeze, cutting off connection to this hidden world. But until then, we honor our selves, the growing and dying cycles of life, and we honor those who have come before us. Due to its connection to death, Scorpio is an intense sign that can be off putting at times, but for these four weeks every one of us gets to appreciate the sweet flavor of darkness

Forecast for October 19, 2014 – October 25

Moon in Virgo

October 19—Balsamic Moon: Surrendering. What are you distilling about the Libra lunar cycle? This last phase of the Moon begins a process of moving into the darkness where we notice the impact of balance on the hidden places within. This dark phase of the Moon segues right into a New Moon in Scorpio, which is also a Solar Eclipse. The veils between the worlds separating life above ground and death below ground are thinning. This is not only a time to pay honor to the beloved dead but to listen for their wisdom. The challenges we face collectively and individually are more than we can solve alone. We need to gather our allies. With Mercury moving retrograde, we are encouraged to listen differently, to notice the states of consciousness that encourage this listening. Keep an ear open.

The Moon in grounded Virgo opposes the oceanic god of expansive connection—Neptune—while we slept (CDT). What did your dreams tell you about balancing between transcendence and pragmatism? This balance is important to making our insights and messages from intuitive realms more useful to our real lives. We are likely to opt out for the realistic choice with a trine between the Moon and Pluto also influencing us. The bright, sparkly hues of the day come from an encouraging aspect between Venus in Libra and Mars in Sagittarius that we’ll feel tomorrow too. If Mars is our yang and Venus our yin, the easy flow between these two signals a day of knowing when to move forward and when to wait.

Moon In Virgo

Monday, October 20. What does being really organized and being really open to serendipity at the same time feel like? Is it the best of all worlds? The Virgo Moon provides the impetus to create something useful with our day. The Moon is encouraged by Saturn to give this desire a little more time and focus. Venus in Libra (beauty) and Mars in Sagittarius (adventure) pair up to encourage pleasant journeys. Discover something! You may be surprised by its usefulness. This isn’t all. Another connection between retrograding Mercury in Libra and Jupiter in Leo encourages us take a leap into creativity or risk being the center of attention. It could be bumpy, after all Mercury is retrograde, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it.

Moon enters Libra 6:12 am CDT

Tuesday, October 21. A quietness settles over the day. The only celestial event is that the old Moon moves back into Libra, the sign that began this lunar cycle on September 24. What balsamic wisdom can you find in this day? Balance, equanimity, choices. Beauty, partnership, dialog. These qualities hold gifts.

Moon in Libra

Wednesday, October 22. What challenges your inner harmony most? We get to notice what that is today. The Moon triggers the Uranus/Pluto square, dragging into the mix retrograding Mercury just to make sure we are good and annoyed. So that happens. This last day of Sun in Libra and Moon in the Libra lunar cycle is a great day to let go of the petty things so we know where to focus our dedications and desires. Tomorrow is the New Moon in Scorpio/Solar Eclipse. Everything feels significant.

Moon enters Scorpio 4:10 pm CDT

October 23—New Moon: Dreaming. Solar Eclipse. As you begin to steep your dreams of possibilities for the Scorpio lunar cycle, add these stories to your tea kettle: Inanna visits her sister—Queen of the underworld, Erishkegal—to learn from her the secrets of the dead; a dragon eats the Sun in an effort to attain the elixir of immortality; the guide of souls delivers the newly departed to the underworld and stops to listen before turning back to the land of the living. The sky is always full of stories. The stories activated by this New Moon are rich and mysterious. The veil between the worlds thins and we become attuned to the shift in focus. A solar eclipse creates uncertainty but not everything that happens under an eclipse is bad. Sudden realignments can get us on the right track. It is important to pay attention to the state of fear right now. Stories about Ebola are just one manifestation of pervasive fear that limits our real ability to think and solve. Scorpio’s natural gaze is upon the shadows. With the eclipse, these shadows take on a mythic importance. We have allies in the darkness. The Moon represents our deepest desires for connection. The Moon joins the Sun in the darkness helping us to realize we are all in the same boat. Rather than fear the unknown, can we develop compassion for our collective state of uncertainty? Venus is here as well, creating power through acts of beauty, transformation through erotic longing, and balance through acknowledging death. Another important guide through the dark is our trickster friend, Mercury, stationing direct in two days. The door is open as we move back and forth across the threshold. This is a kairos moment. What will you do with it?

Moon in Scorpio

Friday, October 24. The sole aspect today is a sextile between the Moon and Pluto. We are encouraged to look below the surface, to acknowledge all our parts, and reclaim our power. Perhaps this is the mindful intent to follow for a month: Supported by your ancestors and the mysterious allies of the sky, will you dare to love yourself beyond all reason? This could change the worlds.

Moon enters Sagittarius 11:40 pm

Saturday, October 25. Most of the day (CDT) the Moon is in Scorpio, so don’t shake off your introspection too quickly. There is more to contact in the dark. Venus joins the Sun. In the first half of September, Venus disappeared from the morning sky, mythically to journey into the underworld. Today is the culmination of that journey. Perhaps you’ve noticed yourself turning away from the world a bit too. It’s good to give ourselves time to recharge, go deeper into the core. This fits so well with the Scorpio season, which encourages the downward and inward journey. The theme of underworld journeys continues: Mercury stations direct today. On October 4th, Mercury stationed retrograde at two degrees Scorpio, later to move back into Libra. Now, Mercury looks back toward the Scorpio terrain with more wisdom about Libra’s realm of balance. The Moon squares Jupiter and conjoins Saturn also tweaking the near square between these two giants of the solar system. Jupiter wants to expand; Saturn wants to contract. I wonder if the Earth will mirror these forces by contracting and expanding too. Although a square between Jupiter and Saturn can feel oppressive, it can also be a good time to bring reality to our dreams.


* Read about the beginning of the Libra lunar cycle (September 24) on my blog 

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