“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (i)
Since my recent popular post about the Jupiter Cycle, I have had a few requests to write about other planetary cycles. My blogging friend, Linda Leinen, is interested in hearing about the effects of the planets on plant growth. I aim to track down a former student, Janice Sharkey (are you reading this, Janice?!) who is a specialist in astrological gardening, to contribute a Guest post on this fascinating topic.
In the meantime, I thought it might be useful to introduce the fundamental regulating cycle of life on Earth – the cycle of the Sun and Moon. I’ve included a light-hearted ‘guide’ on how best to use the upcoming energies of the autumn new moons in Virgo, Libra and Scorpio.
The Sun/Moon Cycle
Sun and Moon – heavenly partners
Astronomically, we know that the Moon is a small satellite of the Earth, and the Sun is the great cosmic life-giver, much, much farther out in space. By a planetary quirk, the Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun, but 400 times nearer the Earth, so we see them as the same size.This is why eclipses can occur, since at the time of a solar eclipse the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, blocking out its light totally if the angle of observation is exact.
Astrologers distill symbolic meaning from the astronomical facts of our solar system. They see the Sun and Moon as of equal but complementary importance in the quest to understand the ever-shifting dance of cosmic energy, and where we fit in.
The Sun is rather like the Greek hero Jason, setting out on his quest for the Golden Fleece; the Moon, the unfolding pattern of the quest and the experiences which arise from it. The Sun is cerebral, seeking to create meaning from experience. The Moon is the body, receiving and interacting with that experience of everyday life from which meaning can be distilled.
The monthly weaving
The movements of all nine planets plus the Moon are plotted throughout the year against a 360 degree imaginary circular band in the sky called the Zodiac, which is divided into twelve thirty degree sectors called Aries, Taurus, Gemini and so on.
The Sun and the Moon have a 29.5 day cycle of relationship with each other, beginning with a conjunction at the New Moon, when the Sun and Moon occupy the same part of the sky. On 25 August 2014, for example, the New Moon takes place in the Virgo sector, which the Sun will occupy for most of September. After about three days the beautiful, fragile waxing crescent moon appears, indicating that the energy of a new cycle of earthly life has begun to take shape.
The Moon moves much faster than the Sun. Within a week, it has moved on to Sagittarius. The Sun and Moon are now at an angle of 90 degrees to each other.The Moon has become fatter, more substantial. Equally, the energy of the cycle has established itself in concrete action. Two weeks into the cycle, we have the Full Moon, with the Moon now in Pisces, opposite the Sun.
The energy of the cycle at this point is at its most potent and visible. In ancient times, the full moon point was an important one, eg in the timing of rituals. Symbolically, the energy of that point had a charging-up effect on whatever was being enacted. The contrast between the forces of light and darkness, birth and death, masculine and feminine, was at its most amplified and potent. Even in this era of electric light and rational analysis, many people can detect a heightening of their energy and emotions at the time of the full moon.
By the last quarter, a week before the next New Moon, the Moon is visible in Gemini, 90 degrees apart from the Sun again, returning this time to meet it.The energy of the month’s cycle is fading. The splendidly full moon has diminished markedly in girth. Like the autumn of the year, the efforts of the earlier phase of the cycle have produced results which are now being harvested, for good or ill.
The next New Moon falls on 24 September, in Libra. 21-24 September represents the very end of the cycle which began in Virgo. This period was known to the Ancients as Moondark – a time of ending, as the old cycle dies, and the new one prepares to be born from the dark womb of the night.
Personal timing – some practical tips
Farmers do not plant their corn in the autumn. That is the time for reaping, just as sowing should occur in the spring, when new life is beginning to surge up from the earth refreshed by its long winter rest.
Thus we can use the Sun/Moon cycle in a very practical way, to help us set our own activity in the context of the natural waxing and waning of the energy of life through space and time.The guidelines which follow can only be general; for specific detail we each have our individual life blueprint or horoscope.
The horoscope or birth chart shows, in symbolic form, the characters who enact the play of our lives as the script, ie the ever-changing movement of the planets, unfolds the action of the drama. Nevertheless, the Sun/Moon cycle offers a useful structure in broad terms. Let’s explore how this can offer an aid to planning over the next few months.
If you are intending to initiate something, eg a business, a marriage, a new project in the home, try to wait if you can until there is a New Moon which reflects the nature of the enterprise.The new moons over the autumn of 2014 are in Virgo on 25 August, Libra on 24 September, and Scorpio on 23 October.
Virgo is an earth sign, its energies strongly service oriented, practical, and good at managing detail. It is also extremely hard working, and analytical.So – the Virgo new moon would be an ideal time to start that blitz on your admin system which you’ve been putting off all year, or for putting special effort into re-organising and cleaning up the garden.
Libra, another air sign, is connected to the arts, the aesthetic side of life, and to relationship. Thus the Libran new moon would be ideal for re-decorating your home, taking up an arts-related hobby like painting or theatre-going – or setting that wedding date…
Scorpio is a water sign, very much connected to emotional intensity and passion.It also has strong links to all those aspects of life which carry a powerful charge: sex, death, psychotherapy and money being just a few. So if you want to embark on a passionate affair, make your will, sort out a deep-rooted emotional problem which has been left to fester, or persuade your bank manager to give you that big loan, this is the month to do it!
At the New Moon point, life’s energies are still fluid, unformed, and the Moon itself is invisible. Initiatives are best taken between three and seven days later – from the first waxing crescent to the first quarter.
Moondark is the last three days of the cycle.The Moon disappears then, as the energy of the month wanes. It is wise to avoid initiating something important during this time; it is best used for winding down, withdrawal, contemplation and reflection, stock-taking, preparing for the new.
Many readers will know some of the stories of King Arthur, the legendary king of ancient times. He ruled just as the old pagan beliefs were being superceded by the rise of Christianity. When he married Guinevere, he did so in a Christian ceremony at Moondark. The pagan priests were appalled at this. “No good will come of it ” was their view.They were right. The marriage of Arthur and Guinevere was barren, and she spent most of it in love with another man, the knight Sir Launcelot.
Applying the cycle to the Big Picture
The metaphor of the monthly Sun/Moon cycle can be used as a template for helping to understand the much longer cycles of human life. The biggest cycle astrologers work with is the Neptune Pluto cycle: those two planets meet only once every 492 years, and this New Moon point symbolises the start of a whole epoch of human development.
The most recent one took place in 1891/2 in Gemini, ushering in the communications revolution which in a hundred years has radically altered the way we conduct life on earth. The previous one, also in Gemini, occurred in 1398/9, prefacing the Renaissance and the Reformation, two major shaping processes in European and world history.
But whether the cycle is huge, like the Neptune Pluto one, or small, like the monthly Sun/Moon one, the same basic stages apply: seeding, germinating, sprouting, flowering, ripening, harvesting, dying back in preparation for the new.
At a deep unconscious level, we all live out the unfolding energies of our era, sensing inner timings without the help of any astrologer. But astrology is valuable in its ability to offer a symbolic framework from which individuals can gain greater clarity, conscious awareness, and confirmation of their personal connection with the Big Picture.
Good astrological practice should support people in their courage to be themselves, help them to see that “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”.
(i) The Bible : Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 Verse 1
1600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
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