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.

“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word “love” here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.”
― James BaldwinThe Fire Next Time

What is the love we need now? James Baldwin was born in the season of Leo, fixed fire. He brought this fire into the discourse about race and sexual orientation. His brilliant book, The Fire Next Time, continues to inspire those who work to end racism. Baldwin’s notion of love was radical and transformative. I believe it is an instruction for living through our current challenges. The U.S. has not yet truly embraced the kind of love Baldwin wrote about. Perhaps now we may. Perhaps now we choose to try.

Leo plays the counterpoint role in the Aquarius lunar cycle that begins on January 27. Leo expression peaks on February 10 when the eclipsed Full Moon occurs in Leo. An eclipse is an opportunity sometimes chosen, sometimes forced on us, to re-pattern our stories. The light goes out and comes back. What new story about love and fire will come through this opening?

Baldwin speaks about masks. Aquarius represents the drive to be authentic and transparent. Our masks become intolerable and confining under the influence of Aquarius and especially under the influence of Uranus, the co-ruler of Aquarius. Uranus represents the desire to blast away falsehoods and blow apart façades. At its best, Uranus encourages love that is tough and true. The planets provide the energy and opportunity but it is up to each of us to choose the ways we will use that energy and move forward through this opportunity. Uranus is a perfect example. Uranus in Aries has provided the spark for the Tea Party’s revolution as well as the fierce commitment behind the Black Lives Matter movement. Astrology helps to clarify our choices. The Aquarius lunar cycle asks us to get clear about the “masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” Love itself, even the fierce love of “questing and daring and growth” helps us know how to choose.

This is why my lunar intention for the Aquarius cycle will be “to lead with love.” The world is too complex and dangerous to use any other guidance. As the Aquarius lunar cycle incites further change in our world, love reminds me to respect—“to look again” at the person I am relegating to otherness. Aquarius as an air sign, can be quite open-minded, but as a fixed sign, can also be closed to contradictory points of view. Love that reveals and liberates reminds me to look again at my own fixed ideas. In a lunar cycle that promises to be very passionate and heady, due to a preponderance of fire and air influences, a commitment to leading with love is a counterbalance to the abstraction that creates distance and misunderstanding.

What kind of love encourages us to take off our masks? How might this love bridge the gulf that seems to separate us? How might the world change if we dared to love in this way? Aquarius is a daring sign. It is willing to push past previous boundaries. Other transits encourage this sense of daring this month. Mars enters Aries on January 28, followed by Venus’ entrance into Aries on February 3. For the first week of the new lunar cycle, Mercury in Capricorn will agitate the cardinal planets that are in tense relationship to each other: Uranus in Aries, Pluto in Capricorn, and Jupiter in Libra. No one is happy with the status quo and ideas are flying. I suspect the intention to be led by love may help us communicate better. In the midst of the Mercury transits, Jupiter stations retrograde. This may feel like the brakes being applied to self-gratifying feelings of righteousness. If the thrust of Jupiter’s transit is about justice, we might need to turn our focus inward to see patterns of injustice in ourselves. Around the Full Moon, the Sun in Aquarius makes encouraging aspects to Uranus, Jupiter, and Saturn. The Full Moon eclipse could bring breakthroughs that give hope and direction. These planets are in air and fire signs. Remember, even when things seem to be going your way, to lead with love brings in our hearts.

Forecast for January 23, 2017 – February 5.

Moon in Sagittarius
January 23—Balsamic Moon: Surrendering. A strong lineup of planets in Pisces reinforces the feeling of needing time to yourself as the Capricorn lunar cycle wanes into darkness. Mercury in Capricorn starts off the introspection by making a sextile aspect to Neptune in Pisces. This connection encourages insight and self-reflection. Be gentle with yourself. The past weekend was a big one and as a good friend of mine reminded me, the next four years will be a marathon not a speed race. It is a good idea, today, to honor your emotions as much as your desire to better the world. The work we do in the Capricorn season to assess our lives and set intention will help us as we prepare for the next lunar cycle seeded by Aquarius’ desire to join with others to envision the seeds of possibility for the year ahead. The expansive Moon in Sagittarius might make it hard to listen to the need for quiet reflection today. Notice the push and pull in both directions.

Moon enters Capricorn 4:23 pm CST
Tuesday, January 24.
Don’t take the bait. Some are looking for a fight. The Moon in Sagittarius makes a square to Mars in Pisces today. Philosophies don’t jibe with our emotional experiences. We might want to fall into the trap of making everything about logic and forgetting the part about heart.

Moon in Capricorn
Wednesday, January 25.
The Moon returns to Capricorn at the end of the Capricorn lunar cycle. We come full circle to see our patterns around self-expectation. Yes, we want to keep working, but have you found a way to be easier on yourself during this lunar cycle? (It began way back in 2016 on December 29.) Venus in Pisces conjoins Chiron. We are meant to open our hearts and feel the world’s suffering during this transit. Empathy could be painful, but it also increases our capacity to connect. The Moon conjoins Mercury in Capricorn later in the day. Make a plan—a simple plan—to bring more compassion to the world. When we act together, it doesn’t take much effort.

Moon in Capricorn
Thursday, January 26.
It could feel like we’re making one missed connection after another today. Venus in Pisces makes a puzzling quincunx to Jupiter in Libra. These planets are in mutual reception (in each other’s signs) so we assume we are being understood by others on a deep, intuitive level. But we could very well be wrong about that. Something is obstructing the flow. Take time to check in on the important relationships and don’t take it personally if someone just doesn’t get you. Caution in communication could be a good strategy with the Moon setting off the tense t-square of Uranus in Aries opposing Jupiter in Libra (both square to Pluto in Capricorn). This t-square eggs on the fight response and a desire to expose abusive power.

Moon enters Aquarius 2:36 am CST
January 27—New Moon: Seeding. The New Moon in Aquarius gives the opportunity to plant seeds of openness and authenticity. This fixed air sign is good at conceptualization, is willing to break rules and patterns, and is happy to tinker with social organizations to ensure the freedom of each individual in the group. The sign can be a little cold and clinical. But not always, sometimes it can be charmingly radical and hopeful. Fixed signs anchor a season. In this case, in the northern hemisphere, Aquarius anchors deep winter. The fertile darkness inspires vision and dreams for the unfolding year. In this soil of possibility, we can plant the dreams for a more just and awake world. Aquarius also desires authenticity and transparency. These qualities, combined with love, are a powerful force for transformation.

“To know love we have to tell the truth to ourselves and to others. Creating a false self to mask fears and insecurities, has become so common that many of us forget who we are and what we feel underneath the pretense.”
– bell hooks in All About Love.

We are too used to hearing and telling our own lies and it is obvious that we will be hearing many more of them during the Trump Presidency. The price of accepting these lies is too high. James Baldwin tells us that “love takes off the masks … [and is] quest and daring and growth.” Perhaps love is the revolutionary force that turns this world around. The tough love that insists on truth.

For the seeds of this Aquarian lunar cycle I offer this intention: “to lead with love.” I am envisioning the radical and transformative love that dares me to remove my masks and insists on telling myself the truth. Recently, Saturn in Sagittarius made an important square with Neptune in Pisces. This particular transit (waning square) only happens every 36 years and asked us to look at the stories and truths that govern our choices. Out of this period of time, we’ve ended up with a lying president and fake news. So, now it is time to turn that around. This year we are in another planetary cycle—the one between Saturn and Uranus. These planets, co-rulers of Aquarius, are trine one another. This flowing aspect encourages us to be smarter and braver about our truths. The act of removing our masks holds even more potential this year because of this transit.

A defining feature of the New Moon chart is the exact square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Venus in Pisces. Sometimes, Venus represents women and this association surely resonates with the call to action that millions of women across the world are sending out. Venus in Pisces is breaking down the barriers. Saturn is challenging a tendency to blur too many lines. Women are learning about our common oppressions, at the same time needing to hear the truth of those who bear greater burdens. This aspect, though challenging, represents a will to work it out. Our relationships feel like the core of our work right now. How do we lead with love as we face uncomfortable truths?

Jupiter in Libra (the relationship sign) is stationing retrograde soon. In the chart, this Jupiter is in a t-square aspect with Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn. This aspect pattern continues to fuel revolt, demands for justice, and exposure of lies and secrets. Mercury approaches conjunction with Pluto (exact on January 29). Mercury should force a confrontation with power. The press will play a role in exposing lies. The people must demand it.

Notably, later on this day, Mars moves from Pisces to Aries. Action and anger are directed outward. What a perfect opportunity to remember that love is the transformer. Violence isn’t nearly as effective as the love that liberates.

Moon in Aquarius
Saturday, January 28
. Remember that a growing preponderance of air and fire influence can make us reactive and removed from our emotions. This will be an ongoing concern this lunar cycle. The Moon in airy Aquarius makes favorable contact with Uranus in Aries (fire), Jupiter in Libra (air), and Saturn in Sagittarius (fire). Try not to listen only to voices you agree with or speak only to those who agree with you. Broaden the signals. Remember love sends a strong signal too.

Moon enters Pisces 10:10 am CST
Sunday, January 29.
Ahh, the Moon moves into a water sign. Notice how this feels on your nervous system. What do you need for self-care? Mercury in Capricorn conjoins Pluto. Perhaps you notice the stress of all the lies. Mercury desires to speak truth but will have to fight against power to do so. Don’t cave to your own lies. If that seems like the only option, remember to hold yourself tenderly. Wonder about the power of love to unmask the lies.

Moon in Pisces
Monday, January 30.
Venus influence is strong this lunar cycle. At the New Moon, Venus made a square to Saturn, setting the tone of working hard on relationships. Soon Venus will move into Aries (February 3) and will take on an even more militant energy of assertion. This may be hard on relationship too. With a lunar intention to “lead with love,” we learn how to be on that tough quest for the love that unmasks. On March 4 Venus will station retrograde in Aries and station direct on April 15 at the same degree in Pisces it reaches today. Prelude to this journey begins today. Love is way more complex than the common ideas of harmony and pleasure. Perhaps we attain a more realistic vision of love during this cycle. The Moon contacts Neptune, Pluto, and Mercury today. That’s a lot going on. Monitor how much you interact with others if you are feeling overwhelmed by the emotional atmosphere around you.

Moon enters Aries 3:46 pm CST
January 31—Crescent Moon: Germinating. The seeds of possibility sown at the New Moon begin to germinate in this phase of the lunar cycle. All the action is still below the surface, however. Aquarius is a season of imminent change. We naturally feel this time of year as a quickening that leads to the rebirth of Spring. Things are brewing. When the Moon enters Aries, that sense of needing to act will really kick in. This is an excellent time to refer back to the intention you set for this lunar cycle. What is seeking expression? I have chosen the intention to be led by transformative love, the kind of love that demands I tell myself the truth. As Mercury in Capricorn makes a square to Uranus in Aries today, truth telling is high on the list of ways we want to instigate change in the world. At the same time as this agitating energy is happening, the Moon conjoins Mars in Aries. We could feel like we are ready to blast off. I recently attended a concert/community sing-a-long led by Melanie DeMore. In fact, one of her songs  inspired this month’s intention. At this event she described herself as a weapon of mass connection. That is a just about perfect way to think of Mars in Aries moving us towards liberating love.

Moon in Aries
Wednesday, February 1.
February, the month of love, is here. If you’ve been following along, I am pursuing a lunar intention of being led by love, but not in the sweet, sickly way love is portrayed in Valentine’s Day cards. The love I seek to be led by is inspired by James Baldwin and bell hooks, two authors who write about the transformative power of love that removes masks and demands truth. The Moon in Aries is fiery and bold. You might want to step clear of the lies you tell yourself and the lies you hear from corrupt power and dare to love openly. Mercury’s sextile to Chiron in Pisces is a heart opener, especially in the realm of communication.

Moon enters Taurus 7:50 pm CST
Thursday, February 2.
Traditional Imbolc. Today is the traditional date of Imbolc, the cross-quarter holy day celebrating the quickening year and our intentions for that year. Tomorrow, the Sun reaches the midpoint of Aquarius, and that is celebrated as astronomical Imbolc. The meaning for both dates is the same. The association of this sabbath with the goddess Brigid invites us to ceklebrate poetry, art, and justice. Some Pagans honor the day by making pledges for the year. The square between Mercury in Capricorn and Jupiter in Libra could create a desire to be very expansive in our pledges. The desire for justice and honorable power is strong. Before the Moon moves into stable Taurus this evening (central time zone), the Moon in Aries touches off a cascade of agitation by conjoining Uranus, squaring Mercury, and opposing Jupiter. Our souls sense this is not a year to be tame. How do you claim your wildness?

Moon in Taurus
February 3—First Quarter Moon: Sprouting. Astronomical Imbolc. See yesterday’s entry for more information about astronomical Imbolc. The midpoint of Aquarius anchors air as one of the elements of life. (Aquarius is the fixed air sign.) What qualities of air do you value? Which qualities do you need? Which are problematic? Air represents our ability to see clearly, to voice our truth, and to envision new possibilities. At this phase of the Moon, new Moon seeds are sprouting asking us to tend to our intentional gardens. How can air be an ally for your lunar intention? My intention is to be led by love to tell the truth of myself and to hear the truth of others. Air brings clarity. May you feel that clarity too. Venus enters Aries today. Venus spends an extra long time in Aries due to an upcoming retrograde journey through the sign (also moving back into Pisces for a while.) The kind of love that Venus values is courageous and a bit reckless. Under this influence we may be tempted to burn away the lies that keep us from truly loving each other. The caution is to temper the flame with compassion. Taurus Moon values solid grounding. That helps too.

Moon enters Gemini 10:44 pm CST
Saturday, February 4.
Most of this day gives solid relief to all the air and fire influences recently. The Moon trines both Pluto and Mercury in Capricorn. We’ve been pushing through the lies and fighting for love. Today, perhaps we hear a truth we can trust. Notice how this feels in your body. This is important information.

Moon in Gemini
Sunday, February 5.
The jumpy, jittery Gemini Moon may very well put us over the edge if we aren’t careful. This energy is great for social connectivity, discovery, and learning. It is hard on the nervous system if we are already taking in too much information. The Moon makes a very energetic contact with Mars in Aries and that doesn’t much help us settle. Later, the Moon makes a square to Neptune in Pisces. The oceanic feelings of Neptune may be more than we can handle. It is OK to go against the grain and spend quiet time alone, if you can.

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