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.

It is a bit of a leap. It does, at times, take faith, this believing that I have magic to share with the world. Even when there is reason I might have this down by now. I’ve called myself a Witch since the mid-80s. Witches believe in magic. We spend a lot of time cultivating our magic. I’m an astrologer. The sky if FULL of delightful magic. I know magic. Yet, at times I still wonder if I have any magic to share with the world. Perhaps the dominant culture crushes belief in magic. Perhaps I let self-doubt creep in and take over in spite of knowing better. I don’t really know completely why the struggle exists, but I know it does. Do I really believe in my magic?

It is my contention that the season of Leo is when we ask ourselves such questions. This fixed fire sign is ruled by the Sun. The golden season of mid-summer (in the Northern Hemisphere) gives a graphic reminder of the Sun’s influence: abundant life, flowing through with everything that is touched by its heat and radiance. The Sun is the center of the solar system. It is the center of the birth chart. It represents the Self, and our magic. Astrologically, the Sun invites us to share our gifts, to be a source of creativity and life force.

The Leo lunar cycle that began on August 2 has been an opportunity to investigate a core piece of Self. What are my gifts? How do I nurture them, honor them into brilliance? How do I stay right-sized as I express my self’s brilliance? By “right-sizedness” I mean being neither too small nor too large as I risk sharing myself with the world. Have you expanded with the light of the Moon into more creative expression? Do you know your own magic? As the lunar cycle wanes to darkness again, that creeping self-doubt may reappear. Notice your patterns around self-doubt. The next sign to take center stage is Virgo. Doubt can lead to shame and self-criticism for the ways we aren’t perfect. However, when Leo and Virgo work well together, we know our gifts are well-placed. We see summer’s harvest in simple acts of service. There is work to do. Our magic is needed.

The Sun enters Virgo this week (August 22). The Virgo lunar cycle that begins on September 1 presents the opportunity to set mindful intention around Virgo’s devotion to wholeness. Venus and Mercury in Virgo make important transits to other mutable planets—Saturn, Neptune, and Chiron. An overall productive focus this week helps us anchor our magic in reality. As an earth sign, Virgo reveals concrete examples of intangible gifts. Virgo prepares the way for the next season. Leo is the glowing heart that will fuel the journey.

Forecast for August 22, 2016 – August 28.

Moon enters Taurus 4:19 pm CDT
Monday, August 22.
Sun enters Virgo. On the day that the Sun enters Virgo, the ruler of Virgo (Mercury) conjoins Jupiter. This is auspicious. Jupiter will be exiting Virgo on September 9 after giving this humble hard-working sign a boost of Jovian expansion for the last year. I like to think that the sign Jupiter transits suddenly becomes the cool way to be. Virgo isn’t used to being cool, but we’ve learned a lot this year about wellness, devotion, and steady efforts to create a well-balanced life. Pay attention to Virgo themes today. Virgo is both industrious and highly intellectual. You may notice that your ideas for organizing and improvement are in overdrive. The carefree aspects of the Leo season are coming to an end. We feel like tidying up the loose ends. You may literally or metaphorically be putting up gifts from your garden. Harvest and store the bounty of Leo’s light. Virgo anticipates a shift of season and realizes we must work to prepare ourselves. Early in the day, the Moon is in Aries. Still impatient, not fully enveloped in productivity, notice a restless urge to act. It may be hard to sit still; there is so much to get in order. Later in the day, when the Moon enters Taurus, another earth sign, we settle into a rhythm.

Moon in Taurus
Tuesday, August 23.
Watch out for stubborn streaks or outright stalemates. The Moon in Taurus is bull-headed about things. We could encounter intolerance or find that intolerance in ourselves. As this Moon triggers the Mars/Saturn conjunction in Sagittarius, the conflict in belief could actually erupt in anger or violence. Saturn usually has a stifling effect on Mars, however Mars may act as a catalyst for pent up fundamentalism or discomfort about truth and values. It may be more difficult to cross over the divides separating us from others. However, with the earth sign emphasis, if we take our time and listen more than speak, we may be able to hear new truths across those divides. 

Moon enters Gemini 6:40 pm CDT.
August 24—Last Quarter Moon: Evaluating. Having an impact creates consequences. We may be noticing the relationship between stepping into our magic and the consequences of that magic under this phase of the Moon. This may feel like a big ouch if the consequences weren’t what we planned. Wisdom and maturity can come from taking responsibility and trying again. Mars conjoins Saturn in Sagittarius today. Saturn’s influence turns our attention to responsibility. Mars’ influence turns our attention to action. Sagittarius is about belief. Philosophy is important. What we believe creates impact. Taking responsible action based on our beliefs gives us authority and impact. This may be the essential piece to honoring our personal creative gifts, what I am calling magic. The Moon in Taurus early in the day makes supportive aspects to Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury in Virgo. This influence yields a pragmatic approach to our philosophical inquiries.

Moon in Gemini
Thursday, August 25.
The Moon in mutable air sign, Gemini, triggers complex aspects involving planets in other mutable signs. Saturn and Mars are conjoined in Sagittarius (mutable fire). Both are square to Neptune in Pisces (mutable water). The Sun in Virgo (mutable earth) is in a wide-orb opposition to Neptune and squaring Mars/Saturn and the Moon to create a grand mutable cross. You may remember this configuration from June when world events increased awareness of collective trauma and grief. Mutable signs affect our nervous systems. We seem to be absorbing more information than we have in the past. Once again, we are asked to integrate complexity while staying open and compassionate, especially to ourselves. The temptation to escape is strong. Don’t judge yourself harshly if you need to take in a summer action movie to compensate. Under the surface we are still evolving.

Moon enters Cancer 10:06 pm CDT
Friday, August 26.
(See yesterday’s forecast for more about mutable signs.) The Moon remains in Gemini for most of the day (CDT) and the mutable signs emphasis is strong and possibly triggering a sense of overwhelm, stress, or information overload. What is your default when these things happen? If possible, pay attention to sensations in the body. Let thoughts come and go. Find the still spot for you to restore and relax. The last square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces is forming (September 10). The co-action of these planets influences how we think, what we consider to be truth and reality. The formula for creating paradigm goes something like this: Perception informs belief; belief informs story; story informs perception. It is time to notice how we think and the stories we are telling ourselves. This practice is core to changing our paradigms. Mars in Sagittarius makes a square to Neptune in Pisces. It may be hard to get clear on our stories but another lesson comes today as we notice where passions lead us.

Moon in Cancer
Saturday, August 27.
Earlier in the week, Mercury conjoined Jupiter in Virgo to say a fond farewell to the “greater benefic’s” journey through this sign. Today Venus, “the lesser benefic,” joins Jupiter in Virgo. Good fortune in the Virgo realms! As with all things Jupiter, however, too much of a good thing can turn into a less fortunate thing. Discernment is the key. Good thing that discernment is a Virgo superpower. Practice some of you own. We are feeling industrious and eager to straighten up some important areas of life. The Virgo season takes the raw flame of Leo and gives it a stronger purpose. There are times to shine personally and there are times to give that energy to the group. Dedicate yourself to service today. The Moon in Cancer encourages nesting and nurturing. We see others’ needs more clearly and want to do something about it. The quincunx aspect between the Moon and Saturn/Mars in Sagittarius gives us perspective that not every problem is solved the same way. Even when we want to take control to fix something, we might have to let go so it can fix itself.

Moon in Cancer
August 28—Balsamic Moon: Surrendering. Every sign, every season must give over to the next one. Leo’s season is coming to an end. The Sun has already left this sign. The lunar cycle, seeded in Leo, enters the last phase today. Since I live in the Northern Hemisphere, my lived experience of the Leo season is about the sweetness of summer. The end of Leo is a little bittersweet. Right now, the image of a great campfire burning down to the ember stage comes to my mind. That was a great fire, wasn’t it? But now the growing chill in the air says it would be a good thing to go home to my bed and snuggle in for a while (six months or so). But before we truly get to snuggle in, we’ve got to get our houses in order. The Virgo season and the Cancer Moon today really help us focus on prparing for the coming dark. We still get to take the lingering warmth of the Leo fire with us into this nesting time. What inspirations and insights are warming you right now? How will you feed them with your industry? The Cancer Moon today will oppose Pluto in Capricorn and square Uranus in Aries. The stakes feel higher. Pluto and Uranus have been reminding us for the last few years that not all is well in this world of ours. Challenging aspects between the Moon and these planets are opportunities to re-engage with being part of the change.

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