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.

If the signs did not have elemental associations attached to them, I probably would not have become an astrologer. The elements drew me into astrology in the first place back in the 80s and the elements have kept me engaged and curious about astrology ever since. The elements are teachers and allies. Fire, earth, air, and water are the sacred elements that inform us about everything, including a deeper understanding of who we are. Astrology is a map-making craft. We use it to find our places and plan our next steps. Elemental wisdom is a key component of astrology’s ability to do this. Funny, that the elements found around us on Earth tell us about the sky and help us make sense of what the sky tells us about ourselves. That is one of those strange and delightful mysteries of this craft.

I’m thinking about the elements because I want to pay attention to earth’s wisdoms this year. Mercury has been moving retrograde during the current lunar cycle, which began in cardinal earth sign, Capricorn, on January 9. Although Mercury stationed retrograde at 1 degree Aquarius (an air sign), it has spent most of this period in Capricorn. Mercury moves retrograde three times in a given 12-month period and cycles through the three signs of the same element in that same period of time. This year, Mercury retrogrades through the earth signs. Next up will be Taurus this spring, followed by Virgo at the end of summer. Mercury is the communicator planet. What is being communicated about earth this year?

This lunar cycle is a good opportunity to learn more about earth from the perspective of Capricorn. The mountain goat loves a good challenge, a mountain worth climbing, no matter how long it takes. Mercury has helped us settle into the nuances of ambition. The mountain represents our goals and the legacy of our ancestors, who have made this new goal possible. Capricorn values both the edge and the center as represented by the attention to the past and the focus on the evolving future. The mountain can seem formidable. Setbacks can be very discouraging. Earth helps us find the sure path through setbacks and doubts about our goals. This lunar cycle is now waning. We can look back over the last few weeks to see the path behind us. What did you experience about earth? What wisdom will you take from this into your next journey?

No element stands alone. They all dance and interact with each other. Capricorn earth ambitions are now dancing with Aquarian air visions. The recent ingress of the Sun into Aquarius followed by a Full Moon in Leo (opposite Aquarius) is challenging the steady and sure approach of earth signs. Theoretical, abstract, and craving more speed (like air does), we may be having a hard time with the remnants of Capricorn influence at the end of this cycle. When Mercury stations to move direct on January 25 (in Capricorn), this craving for progress will gather momentum. Other planets anchoring earth are pulling against any rash or ill-considered plans we may suddenly be inspired to embark upon. Venus in Capricorn reminds us that success and abundance come through sure and determined steps. Pluto has been in Capricorn since 2008 but the influence of this planet in this sign is strong this week as Mercury stations direct while in conjunction with Pluto. Pluto’s job in Capricorn has been to expose toxic influence in our structures. We are seeing a mountain of assumptions and systems that reinforce the status quo. This includes things like white supremacy, oligarchies, and unjust economic systems. It might feel easier to just ignore what needs changing. Mercury’s short mission to Pluto has rekindled awareness and perhaps resolve. Determination is an earth quality that helps us. Jupiter in mutable earth, Virgo, is playing a constant refrain of: pay attention to your well-being, give your body what it needs, be discerning about the revolutions you are staging, and small acts of devotion and service can be powerful.

Forecast for January 25, 2016 — January 31

Moon enters Virgo 9:46 pm CST
Monday, January 25.
Mercury turns direct today conjunct Pluto in Capricorn (cardinal earth). Mercury retrogrades invite internal experience. It is a great time to reconsider strategies and patterns in our lives as they become clearer. The addition of Pluto to this turning point increases the intensity. You could be feeling that the stakes are higher. Capricorn takes things seriously enough, add Pluto to the mix, and we feel more pressure but more possibility too. Pluto is the lord of the underworld. Held in the unseen depths are treasures giving life purpose and vitality. As Mercury changes direction, we can change this pressure into affirmation. Listen to your soul this week as if the messenger is speaking just to you.

Moon in Virgo
Tuesday, January 26.
Mutable antennas are activated over the next two days with the Moon in mutable earth sign, Virgo. Friend and fellow astrologer, Heather Roan Robbins recently passed along an article about sentinel intelligence that describes the ultra awareness of mutable signs. Sentinel intelligence is alert and aware of energy and information and can be prone to information overload and anxiety. Mutable signs are the sentinels. We may feel this influence as we try to manage too many details. The inner critic can surface. The Moon will contact Neptune in Pisces (mutable water) and Saturn in Sagittarius (mutable fire) over the next two days tweaking the sentinel energy in us. The contrast between Neptune and Saturn is noticed more deeply. Part of us may want to escape into dream while another part of us takes on more responsibility. Virgo is figuring it out, learning to discern between these desires. The favorable aspects between the Moon and Venus in Capricorn and Mars in Scorpio take the edge off of awareness. We have the passion and the grace to handle it better.

Moon in Virgo
January 27 — Disseminating Moon: Sharing. A key unlocks a piece of the puzzle you’ve been working on lately. This phase of the Moon is about the harvest of the cycle’s experiences. Slowly, deliberately, with setbacks and challenges, we’ve been moving up the Capricorn mountain. Now that Mercury is direct and the Sun has moved into Aquarius, momentum picks up. Suddenly, the things that were ponderous and hard become clearer. There is still work to do, because that is what Capricorn inspires in us, but it may not feel as daunting. The Moon in Virgo makes a favorable trine to Mercury and Pluto in Capricorn. What may have looked dark and bleak before, becomes rich and deep instead. What have you learned about yourself, your goals and ambitions and your reactions to setbacks and failures? The Moon makes a conjunction with Jupiter in Virgo, which is also where the North Node of the Moon has been hovering for the month of January. The North Node is about our growing edges. We are learning and evolving in significant ways right now. The sign of Virgo is a guide to what we need to meet our growing edges. Virgo is a pragmatic idealist. The work can serve others too.

Moon enters Libra 8:59 am CST
Thursday, January 28.
The Moon in Venus’ sign, Libra, makes a challenging square to Venus in Capricorn. The tension of this transit is subtle. Venus can’t quarrel with the Moon in her own sign, can she? We may be dissatisfied with subtle things today. It might feel like we are on the cusp of success only to find out that another task needs doing. Likely, relationship will be a part of the work. The guide to moving through conflict is to see both sides. Venus loves a balanced and fair approach to any problem.

Moon in Libra
Friday, January 29.
The Moon moves into a cardinal sign and here comes the push. Once a week, the Moon is in one of the cardinal signs—Aries, Cancer, Libra, or Capricorn. Once a week for the last three years, this ingress of the Moon tweaks and triggers the ongoing, paradigm-changing square between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn. We can’t, and shouldn’t, get away from the need to wake up and be part of the change we want to see in the world. Mercury joins in as it makes the third exact conjunction with Pluto today. Mercury is finishing up his agenda for the recent retrograde cycle with this transit. Mercury will square Uranus on January 31. These signatures call for giving voice to the cause of justice, making connections and forming relationships to further the work of transformation. We bristle at conflict and challenge, but we also learn something valuable.

Moon enters Scorpio 9:50 pm CST
Saturday, January 30.
The good news about today comes from a lovely sextile between Venus in Capricorn and Neptune in Pisces. Tension is still present with Mercury’s final transit of the square between Uranus and Pluto influencing our perceptions and experiences. Can transformation happen fast enough? Is it is happening too fast? What adjustments do you need to make to create sustainability and centeredness? The Venus/Neptune connection opens the door for insight and inspiration. Allies and co-conspirators come forward. Notice ways we are connected. Dismantle difference. Those edges will come back, don’t worry.

Moon in Scorpio
January 31 — Last Quarter Moon: Evaluating. What have you learned about your mountaintop? What have you learned about slow, sure and determined steps towards that summit? This Capricorn lunar cycle gives us the long-view of our lives—we look behind where we’ve come from and look ahead to where we want to go. This cardinal earth sign helps us form and stick to our intentions. Ruled by Saturn, Capricorn can be a heavy teacher. We feel the weight of responsibility and the toxic voices of shame. An article from author and priestess, Thorn Coyle, about living an intention-based life resonates with what I am learning about Capricorn this cycle. Thorn offers these three pieces of wisdom:

  1. The arcs of our lives must be contiguous.
  2. Our smallest actions affect our largest intention.
  3. We can start again today.

We’ve been taking slow, sure, and determined steps on a path up a mountain, that when we look back, we can see as a contiguous arc. The mountain has been the anchor, the thing that keeps the steps in our lives connected to a greater whole. That mountain is intention. What have you learned about your mountain and your journey?

The Moon in Scorpio encourages deeper self-reflection. We may not be fit company for those who want to keep things superficial. Mercury makes the third exact square to Uranus due to retrograde motion. Mercury is now moving direct and this connection to Uranus is pushing us rapidly to the next thing. What is the edge of discovery for you? Incorporate your soul’s messages into that next thing.

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


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