Follow the Moon: Astrology of intention and mindfulness

by 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.

The week ahead culminates in a somewhat tense, possibly dramatic Full Moon on January 23. This will be an important moment in the Capricorn lunar cycle, which I have been envisioning as a slow, sure, and determined climb up a mountain. As chance would have it, culminate is exactly the right word for the peak moment of this cycle. I just looked it up. Culminate comes from the Latin word culmen meaning summit. Over the last two weeks, we’ve had the opportunity to apply the values and visions of Capricorn determination to our goals. Certainly, there have been challenges. Mercury retrograding through the sign of Capricorn, has invited us to rethink our methods and our values surrounding Capricorn concerns. Capricorn, as cardinal earth, is serious about creating long-lasting structures that ensure survival through the dark time of the year. If we aren’t prepared for the disruption that Mercury retrograde can bring, then deeper fears and anxieties can creep in. Congratulate yourself on the aplomb you’ve shown with any setbacks you’ve experienced this cycle. This is training for using our Capricorn muscles of the long-view and contributes to the capacity to remain sure and determined in our work.

Just as I am congratulating myself about aplomb and determination and keeping it together under challenging Capricorn transits, everything is about to change again. A culmination is a shift. Am I ready for the summit? What will happen when I get there? What comes next? Here are the steps and stages along the way to the summit.

Mars in Scorpio trines Neptune in Pisces at the beginning of the week. Trines can be slippery, especially watery ones like this. We are primed to act on assumptions and partial information. Intuition is enhanced, but so is the likelihood that we will assume the wrong thing when relying on intuition alone.

The Sun enters Aquarius (fixed air) on January 20. After the summit comes the vision from the mountaintop. The visionary sign of Aquarius may be impatient with the slow climb but is happy to map out the next steps after all that hard work is accomplished. Aquarius season is when we begin to push down the walls that keep our vistas limited and narrow. The key to helping Aquarius stay grounded in reality is to remember the recent slow climb toward a concrete goal we just completed.

Things get interesting when Mercury in Capricorn squares Uranus in Aries (cardinal fire) and conjoins Pluto in Capricorn on January 20 and 22. Mercury makes these aspects to Uranus and Pluto a total of three times due to retrograde motion. This is the second time and perhaps the most unpredictable since Mercury is moving backwards. What do you need to voice? What do you need to hear? The phrase, speaking truth to power, applies to the impulse of this transit. The question may be, whose power?

We reach the summit on January 23 at the Full Moon in Leo. Full Moons often feel like a release of pressure. Through the determined steps of the last two weeks we reach a climax. Mercury will turn direct in two days. How will you move forward into this new year that begins to roll along with a force of its own as they always seem to do at some point after the New Year. Perhaps that point is now.

Forecast for January 18, 2016 — January 24

Moon in Taurus
Monday, January 18.
A grand earth trine aspect pattern involving the Moon in Taurus, Jupiter in Virgo, and a trio of Capricorn planets (Sun, Pluto, and Mercury) sets the tone for stability and determination. Let your body talk to you about pleasures and wellbeing. Completing tasks that help us move on to loftier goals feels just right. Don’t be surprised if you encounter a stubborn person in your life (it might be you) who won’t give an inch. What creates flexibility? The fluid influence on the day is a trine between Mars in Scorpio (fixed water) and Neptune in Pisces (mutable water). Water has a way of moving past obstacles. Mars encourages a deeper trajectory into hidden emotion and Neptune a more diffuse point of view where boundaries blur. Watch out for making the wrong assumptions under this transit. Use the solid container of the day to get the facts straight.

Moon enters Gemini 3:13 am CST
Tuesday, January 19.
What a difference a day makes. The Moon in Gemini (mutable air) blows fresh air into any stodgy energy leftover from yesterday’s grand earth trine aspect pattern. Don’t get me wrong, a stable earth container is very helpful. Remember that as we experience more unevenness in today’s transits. We’ll notice the contrasts between people and ideas today. Inspired by the curious Gemini Moon, we want to learn more and connect more with others, perhaps even to the extreme of not being able to settle or maintain focus for very long. The Moon makes a challenging aspect pattern with Saturn in Sagittarius (mutable fire) and Neptune in Pisces(mutable water), which may have us spinning with opinions and emotions.

Moon in Gemini
January 20 — Gibbous Moon: Perfecting. Sun enters Aquarius. I began this lunar cycle with the intention of making a slow, sure, and determined climb up the Capricorn mountain. At the turn of the year, in the Capricorn (cardinal earth) season, we look behind and forward to know what matters most to us. With so many distractions and challenges currently, the commitment to slow and steady effort seemed like a good strategy. But nothing lasts forever. Our strategies need to change too, and we notice with the Sun’s ingress into Aquarius (fixed air) that earthy methods need to give way to those of air. We are still determined to achieve our goals but might not value the slow and steady approach to getting there.

Aquarius is the next stage after we reach the summit of a Capricorn mountain. The sky opens up on the mountaintop, inviting vision. As a visionary sign, Aquarian inspiration and impatience feed the desire to push past the solid structures set up by Capricorn. Tension is created by the contrast between conserving form and dismantling form. As this lunar cycle waxes into fullness, we notice this tension more strongly and it will influence our choices.

Today’s square between Mercury retrograding in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries is a perfect signature for the tension between conserving structures and breaking free of them. How do you work with this tension? What are your strategies for holding the paradox? What are your breakthroughs?

Moon enters Cancer 7:28 am CST
Thursday, January 21.
The Moon in Cancer contacts other planets in water (Neptune and Mars) to form a grand water trine aspect pattern. The pattern goes in and out during the day creating an effect of scattered sun with periods of emotional shadow throughout. Mercury retrograde will come into exact conjunction with Pluto tomorrow, but the influence is strong today. We are meant to seek the deeper experience. This may be grief or anger. It could be the deep experience of grace, joy, and beauty as well. These emotional touchstones remind us that all our parts, the light and shadow, are essential.

Moon in Cancer
Friday, January 22.
Although the Full Moon is tomorrow, we already feel the build up to release and illumination today. Capricorn structures—those things we began to tend and nurture at the beginning of this lunar cycle—are stressed by the pressure to break free of confinement. This may be a quaint cliché, but it applies: Try not to throw the baby out with the bath water. There is value in structure. Discernment, supported by Jupiter’s transit of Virgo this year, helps us to know what to keep and what to leave behind. Mercury (retrograde in Capricorn) conjoins Pluto. This is the second of three conjunctions of these two during this retrograde period. It feels like this meeting is the real purpose behind Mercury’s journey this time. Mythically, Hermes (Mercury) and Pluto (Hades) had a unique relationship. Hermes was the guide of souls. He was the only god in Greek mythology who could travel freely between the realms of the living and the dead. Hermes once stole Pluto’s helmet of invisibility in order to make this journey. Things that have been invisible may be revealed today and tomorrow. We are able to learn a deep truth about ourselves if we can avoid projecting that truth onto others. The Moon in Cancer plays along with this intention by challenging our emotional responses. The tendency to release anxiety by taking care of others is strong. This is OK, of course, but notice if you are giving too much. Claiming personal power and responsibility is the gift of this day.

Moon enters Leo 1:21 pm CST
January 23 — Full Moon: Illuminating. Yesterday’s transits are strongly influencing the power of this Full Moon. To recap: This lunar cycle began with a Capricorn focus on structure, slow progress, and the pressure of responsibility. Mercury retrograding through Capricorn has created a bit of extra stress on that intention. The ingress of the Sun into boundary-breaking Aquarius further challenged what we thought this lunar cycle was about for us. If we really needed that Capricorn structure to feel more secure, then the stress is even greater as those structures are challenged. Mercury’s retrograde has stimulated the impulse to revolt against structure through a square to Uranus this week, and Mercury’s conjunction with Pluto has brought about connection to deeper emotions like fear, anger, and grief. Into this cauldron of tension infused with paradox and possibility comes a Full Moon in Leo squared by Mars in Scorpio. The square between Mars and the Sun and Moon has a wide orb (not exact in other words), but still applies, given the cracks in our façades of security.

The Sun and Moon are near the beginnings their signs—fixed air Aquarius for the Sun and fixed fire Leo for the Moon. This creates a feeling of just emerging into the visionary season of Aquarius. We don’t have our feet under us yet. Already the desires to bring our visions to the world are challenged by the Leo desire to make an impact and know our personal significance in the world. In other words, ego plays a part in the inner and outer conflicts we are experiencing right now. That is why Mars in Scorpio (fixed water) could be the problem or the cure facing us. I recently was given a wonderful article about anger to read. The author, Amiee Falchuk, a Core Energetics practitioner, wrote: “In my practice I welcome anger. I often insist upon its expression. Why? Expression implies movement. Movement implies the opening of closed or blocked spaces. The opening of space brings us into consciousness. Consciousness allows us to act more in line with who we are. When we act in alignment with who we are we can bring all we are to all we do.” If we look at the emotions coming to the surface right now with this intention, then a lot of movement and healing is possible.

In case I still need to convince you that this is a tense Full Moon, other factors include that Mercury is stationary and will turn direct on January 25 conjunct Pluto. Can’t get away from the shadows. Venus has just entered Capricorn reminding us that those structures are valuable, so we can’t just blow them apart. We need the discernment to tinker with the details. Here comes Jupiter in Virgo conjunct the North Node of the Moon, telling us that discernment is an essential skill for our times. Three years ago, Uranus and Pluto began a long process of coming into squares with each other, signaling a time of great change. This Full Moon marks the closest those two will be to that exact square aspect until their opposition in 2046. We are still aware that we are in revolutionary times. The question is not whether revolution is happening but who gets to control it?

Moon in Leo
Sunday, January 24.
Two influences ask us to be more courageous today. Mercury is stationing direct conjunct Pluto in Capricorn and the Moon in Leo makes a testy square with Mars in Scorpio this morning (CST). The more we try to push away our shadows, the stronger their effect on our choices. This day marks an excellent opportunity to sense into our shadows. For me, this often looks like noticing how I am just like those people I most dislike. Pluto takes away the comfort of projecting onto others what we don’t like about ourselves. However, as uncomfortable as this is, reclaiming our shadow side can be transforming and healing. There is a brief grand fire trine giving off light and support for peering deep within. The Moon in Leo, Saturn in Sagittarius, and Uranus in Aries boost confidence that we will survive the illumination.

* Read about the beginning of the Capricorn lunar cycle on my website



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