The New Moon is on Thursday, September 17 at 6:00 a.m. in 25° Virgo. This is a natural time to analyze, to look at the details of your life and set them in order. One example is applying organizational skills to a project. Have fun reading organizing books like "Getting Things Done" by David Allen or "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo.
The Sun and Moon in the New Moon chart are in a wide opposition to Neptune at 19° Pisces. As you pay attention to the details, don't lose sight of the bigger picture. This is one of the themes that goes with a Virgo/Pisces polarity. Another is service (Virgo) vs. sacrifice (Pisces). Virgo is a very service oriented sign, often very helpful to others. With Pisces in polarity, the person doing service may feel like a they're being taken advantage of. In yoga we talk about the path of Karma Yoga, unselfish service, doing the work because it needs to be done, with joy in service to the Divine, and without looking for an earth plane reward. Just something to contemplate about over the next few days.
The Autumnal Equinox is September 22 at 8:30 a.m. , when the Sun moves to 0° Libra. This is a point of balance, time to pause and contemplate where you want to go, what you want to do or accomplish in the next few months.
In the future:
Saturn goes direct on September 29 in 25° Capricorn. This puts it close to Pluto at 22° Capricorn. Pluto will make its station direct on October 4th. So this period of time (last half of September through first half of October) will have similarity to the Saturn/Pluto conjunction that took place on January 12, 2020. Most people on the planet didn't know that Covid-19 was already starting to spread around the world at that time. I believe the pandemic is one of the symbols of this conjunction. There are social/political situations in the news that also embody the constraints of Saturn mixed with the urge to revolt of Pluto. I wrote about the Saturn/Pluto conjunction as a volcano aspect, simmering tension and frustration with the potential to explode. It's certainly been a metaphor for this year so far.
For each one of us: can we find a way to be constructive with our frustrations, anger and anguish? Alternately, can we get these emotions out of our mind/body complex in a way that doesn't harm others? Back in January I wrote, "Think of how a volcano vents steam to prevent a mountain from blowing its top. We can vent by taking a walk, doing yoga or other balancing movement practices, chanting or singing, or just pulling back from a bad situation. A genuine gentle or caring word to another person may help them vent or defuse."
After the middle of October, Saturn will travel away from Pluto and the difficult situations will slowly begin to ease.
Coming up this Sunday:
September 20 - The Path of Wisdom
Noon Meditation for the Temple of Kriya Yoga by Marcia Sacks, Swami K. Adinadananda
On our journey through life, we strive to stay on the path of wisdom. This meditation will give encouragement to detach from distractions and make wise choices. The astrological significance of the Autumnal Equinox will be included plus a guided meditation to reflect on the equinox and our spiritual goals for the months ahead.
This noon meditation will be published on this page on Sunday at noon.
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The new moon is on July 20 at 12:32 pm in 28° Cancer. With both the Sun and Moon in Cancer, people will have a stronger sensitivity to their environment, especially the home environment. It can be very helpful to have things clean and in order at this time. The idea is to have the home environment as pleasant as possible. Create harmony in your home with beauty, art, music - whatever speaks to peace and tranquility to you.
The challenge at the new moon is the opposition from Saturn at 28° Capricorn. Saturn brings limitations and restrictions. Because many of us are social distancing, even the most pleasant of home environments can feel a bit constricting. Pluto in Capricorn is still in close proximity to Saturn and therefore also opposed to this new moon. Pluto brings an urge to rebel. Find a wise way to work through those defiant thoughts in a way that isn't dangerous to your health or safety. When Pluto and Saturn energies work together, they can manifest tremendous will power to use toward your highest goals.
More about this new moon in my article Dreams and Dreaming in the current issue of Yoga Chicago Magazine.
More about the new moon aspects and a song from astrologer and Kriya yogi Eric Klein from Wisdom Heart.
On July 27th, Jupiter in Capricorn sextiles Neptune in Pisces. This harmonious aspect is particularly good for combining study with meditation and reflection. Watch for books or recommendations of books that come into your life for several days surrounding this aspect as these books (or movies or blogs) may be particularly meaningful.
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The Full Moon takes place on April 7, 2020 at 9:34 p.m. CDT in 18° Libra. Libra is a very social sign, so it's a good time to embrace 21st century technology and have video calls and get-togethers with your friends. Obviously, phone, texting and social media are other ways to stay in touch.
The Jupiter/Pluto conjunction is prominent in the Full Moon chart. At the new moon I wrote "This conjunction could be seen then as a time when a lightning bolt of insight strikes the earth and illuminates some treasure in our unconscious mind, something that has been hidden very deep but is now revealed."
The exact date of the conjunction is April 5th, the day I'm writing this. I came across an article today which has symbols that relate to the Jupiter/Pluto conjunction and also the social expression of Full Moon in Libra:
The History of the Paris Salon (and the Radical Artists Who Subverted It)
This is a story of a revolution in art as traditional standards were overthrown by the Impressionists. In mythology, Jupiter (Zeus) ruled over laws and social order. Jupiter in astrology is also seen as a planet of expansion or freedom. Pluto is often thought of as a planet of revolution. Plus Pluto symbolizes the cycle of life, death and rebirth. This is an important cycles whether seen through the lens of art or technology.
It's important to take the symbols we see in life or read about in the media and see if they mirror the planetary patterns occurring at the same time. So take some time to think about the ways in which your life or consciousness is expanding. Or in what way your life needs to let go of a pattern from the past in order to be more creative. And how you can do that as wisely and harmoniously as possible.
I like this story because traditional art didn't die - people continue to paint realistic portraits and landscapes. But the field of visual art has continued to expand and incorporate more and more styles and techniques.
The Power in Your Solar Returns
A talk for the Northern Illinois Chapter of NCGR with Marcia Sacks
April 14, 2020 via Zoom
If you are not on the NI-NCGR email list, contact Janet Berres email@example.com for information on how to attend this talk
Every year the Sun returns to the location of your natal sun and a new year begins for you. The solar return chart gives a snapshot of your year ahead that can be used to plan and achieve your annual goals and resolutions. We'll start with the fundamentals of interpreting solar return charts and how changing the location where you celebrate your birthday can strengthen the positive elements of your solar return chart. Then, we'll "treasure map" your solar return with affirmations and images. Be sure to have a printout or drawing of your next solar return handy. You can Google "solar return calculator" to find a number of sites to run off your solar return chart.
This Sunday noon meditation with Sharon Steffenson was presented for the Temple of Kriya Yoga last week and has a lot of helpful techniques for healing and relaxation. Sharon is a swami of the Temple and the editor of Yoga Chicago Magazine.
The New Moon takes place on Tuesday, March 24 @ 4:28 a.m. CDT in 4° Aries. Coming right after the Vernal Equinox on March 19, it's a perfect time for new beginnings. Are you thinking, "I'm stuck here in my house. How can I start something new?"
As motivational speakers say, "Where your mind goes, energy flows and results show!" Start internally, first deciding on your most important goal or new project. Then spend time using your imagination to visualize your successful results. Take some small first steps: Write it down, look up resources online, read a related book. It's the perfect time for phone calls or online meetings. Talk to people in your field or area of interest.
Or if you're a yogi, follow Goswami Kriyananda's advice and "seek out your own illumination with great diligence."
The chart of the New Moon holds a major planetary configuration. Jupiter is close to Pluto at this time, making an exact conjunction on April 5. Jupiter is the great teacher and Pluto rules our unconscious mind. As we have less activity externally, we may be turning inward, getting better acquainted with ourselves.
In mythology Jupiter was the god of the sky and lightning. In ancient times, Pluto was seen as the god of wealth because gold, jewels and minerals were mined from underground. This conjunction could be seen then as a time when a lightning bolt of insight strikes deep into the earth and illuminates some treasure in our unconscious mind, something that has been hidden but is now revealed.
Saturn has just entered the sign of Aquarius where it will transit for the next 2 1/2 years. People with Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius sun signs may have heavier responsibilities for the next few years. They can also accomplish great things with persistence and determination.
Saturn into an air sign like Aquarius can be a benefit to critical thinking. Situations and projects will require very thorough scientific thought and related proofs, policies and procedures.
Saturn relates to confinement and Aquarius is associated with fellowship, the feeling of interconnectedness. It's an interesting symbol that just as Saturn is going into Aquarius, we are "social distancing." It suggests that even as our concern with Covid-19 subsides, the trend toward working from home and meeting on conferencing apps may persist.
Because we're "sheltering in place", my noon meditation talk for the Temple of Kriya Yoga was created virtually. Here is the link to the pre-recorded "The Spring Equinox and Your Journey to Freedom." This noon meditation includes mantra, chanting, some thoughts about the Vernal Equinox and the Jupiter/Pluto conjunction, plus a guided meditation with healing imagery (the guided meditation starts around minute 38:30 if you want to go directly to that).
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The Full Moon is Saturday, May 18 at 4:11 p.m. CDT in 27° Scorpio. New moons are new beginnings. Full moons often bring things to a completion or contain the results of whatever occurred at the new moon. Rather than begin something new, it is best to take some time out over the next few days to contemplate what resources (personal, financial, emotional or spiritual) you need to finish projects already started. Scorpio energy is excellent for this type of reflection.
Venus and Uranus are conjunct in the Full Moon chart. New and unusual friends can pop into your life. Inventive and creative energy will spark new ideas.
The hardest but most valuable work you can do at a Scorpio full moon is letting go of old hurts, angers and resentments. It's a type of emotional house-cleaning. One of the things I learned from Marie Kondo's system of getting rid of old physical stuff in your home is to start discarding the easiest things first, the ones with the least emotional content. I think you can do that with forgiveness work, too. If you inventory your angers and discover you're still angry at Amazon for delivering a package in three days instead of two, that might be something you can practice forgiveness on to begin with.
Find something or someone on your list that's easy to forgive and visualize yourself saying "I forgive you" to that person or situation. Imagine sending them light or other type of blessing. When you get good at that, try it with whatever is a little bit harder. And so on. When we call something a spiritual practice, it means you need to practice it to get good at it. Practice forgiveness.
What I've been thinking about the most since Sunday is a scene in Game of Thrones that was an unfortunately perfect visual of the Saturn/Pluto near conjunction which we experienced at the end of April. I'll describe it generally so that it's spoiler free - but if you saw it you'll know what I'm talking about. In the scene, a battle seems to have come to its conclusion. However, the leader of the battle pauses for a moment. In that terrible moment all the angers, pain and resentments the leader experienced in the past flares up and overtakes logic and reason. The leader re-mobilizes the forces and horrific destruction ensues. The viewer sees that the character's dreams for the future are destroyed in that moment.
If you don't use spiritual or psychological practices and techniques for dealing with the negative emotions of the past, these emotions will rise up at some point with destructive force. For the average person, it's not a big battle with thousands of enemies. It's often something simple like an argument with someone you love and have no intention of hurting. A pattern from your past arises and suddenly you put a lot more heat into the 'discussion'. In the blink of an eye, the argument has escalated.
In Kriya Yoga we learn to recognize the patterns through personal reflection and the use of astrology. Through meditation, we choose peace as a preferred state. Through forgiveness we 'de-magnetize' ourselves to negative patterns. When the karma arises with the urge to escalate a quarrel, we can select a different way to respond.
Do your emotional house-cleaning now, before Saturn and Pluto are exactly conjunct in January 2020.
My article Getting to Know Yourself Deeply is in the May/June issue of Yoga Chicago Magazine.
If you're interested in learning more about karma, I recommend this book:
The Laws of Karma by Goswami Kriyananda
The Full Moon is on Friday, April 19, 2019 at 6:12 a.m. CDT at 29° Libra. The 29° Aries Sun is conjunct Uranus at 2° Taurus. When Uranus is the "flavor" of the Full Moon there are often unexpected events, unforeseen issues causing changes in plan and a general feeling of restlessness.
The position of the Moon at the very end of Libra, gives it a type of indecisiveness. Sometimes astrologers say that a sign is in transition to the next sign when it's located at 29°. Libra is a sign that is naturally indecisive as it weighs all judgements in the balance. You may find yourself saying, "Well, on this hand … but on the other hand …". The Saturn and Pluto station points in the following days will force a judgement or decision. It can be very helpful to have all available information plus the advice of experts in whatever field you are analyzing.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. When there is a major event in the news like this, I try to pick it apart symbolically and astrologically for its message for me. I first reflected on the Saturn/Pluto conjunction which is in the Full Moon chart. Saturn represents things that are old and haven't changed in a long time. Pluto symbolizes the transformations like death and rebirth. So I've been reflecting on the old established structures in my own life. Is it the building itself that has value? Or is it our relationship to the Divine which awe inspiring churches, temples, synagogues and mosques represent? What happens when material structures in our lives are burned or destroyed? Is our relationship with the Divine destroyed? Or is it some thing that we just need to let go of? Or rebuild in an even more beautiful and awe-inspiring way? Maybe there's a way to look at this on the more personal level, symbolically thinking about structures of ideas that I have, ideas that I need to let go of, transform, or reconstruct.
Be compassionate and flexible as you encounter challenges in the next two weeks.
April 24: Pluto Station Retrograde 23° Capricorn
April 29: Saturn Station Retrograde 20° Capricorn
I wrote about these planetary retrogrades occurring together in my article in Yoga Chicago magazine: Astrology, Yoga and Balance.
I don't always talk about the asteroid Chiron in relationship to a lunation chart but I see that Mercury in the chart is conjunct Chiron. One of Chiron's symbols is "the wounded healer." It suggests that you can be helpful to people by sharing your own difficult situations and how you solved them. So rather than giving advice like "you should do this", frame it as "when I found myself in a similar situation this is what helped me."
In the News:
Ray Grasse's book Urban Mystic: Recollections of Goswami Kriyananda has been published this month and is available on Amazon both in paperback and Kindle format. As many of you know, Goswami Kriyananda was my guru. He was a light on my path and the spiritual preceptor of the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago.
April 28, 2019: The Babaji Festival, usually held at the Temple of Kriya Yoga, is being held at the Moksha Yoga Center this year. It starts at 11:30 a.m. with chanting followed by inspirational talks. I will be giving a talk on "Planetary Cycles: Messages, Lessons and Gratitude”. Contact the Temple for more info at: 773-342-4600 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you happy holidays and a blessed winter solstice!
December 21 is the Winter Solstice, the official first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Solstices, like equinoxes, mark a new quarter of the year. This is a good time to envision your highest goal, what you want to incorporate into your life for the next few months.
I was at the Temple of Kriya Yoga this past Sunday for the Winter Solstice Celebration. The theme of the celebration was "compassion." Looking at the astrological chart for the solstice, I feel this captures the essence of the aspects Jupiter conjunct Mercury square Neptune and Venus trine Neptune. Neptune at its best is the ability to be empathic, to feel a communion with others, a loving connection with the Divine in all of us.
The Fourteenth Dalai Lama often speaks or writes about compassion:
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.”
Some of the above quotes are from his book "The Art of Happiness." I am currently reading the book "My Spiritual Journey" which is free right now for Amazon Prime members.
More about the winter solstice in my article in Yoga Chicago Magazine.
The Full Moon is on December 22, 2018 at 11:48 p.m. in 0° Cancer. The sign Cancer relates strongly to home and family. So it's the perfect time to share the holidays with family. It can also be a time to gently redecorate your home environment with items, colors or arrangements that bring you a feeling of joy or peacefulness.
The same Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Neptune alignment is in the chart of the Full Moon that is in the chart of the solstice. Along with all the good feelings I described, Jupiter is also the planet of overindulgence and Neptune rules alcohol and drugs. Since the next two weeks are often filled with parties and socializing, keep in mind that with Neptune strongly placed in the Full Moon chart, we may all be more powerfully affected than usual by the brain influencers and mood amplifiers that are offered to us.
In the future:
The January 5th solar eclipse is conjunct both Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn. This lineup of planets is likely to bring difficult and frustrating responsibilities combined with a strong desire to break free from old patterns. I often talk about the Saturn/Pluto conjunction as a 'volcano' aspect - pressure from within ourselves in conflict with pressure outside ourselves. Practice ways to release stress in advance of this aspect such as meditation, hatha yoga, singing/chanting, walking or dancing in order to have them as part of your skill set in early January.
There's more about Saturn, Pluto and the January 5th Solar Eclipse on the audio recording of my talk "Astrology and Kriya Yoga: Planetary Patterns 2019". And more in the January-February issue of Yoga Chicago magazine which you'll find at your local yoga studio, fitness or health center in the new year.
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Blessings to you as we celebrate the Autumnal Equinox tonight, September 22 at 8:54 pm CDT, the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere and first day of spring in the southern hemisphere. The Autumnal Equinox occurs when the sun enters Libra, the sign of balance. For many people on earth, it’s seen as a balance point in the length of the days between day and night.
In balance, we pause for a moment to assess our progress in our personal and spiritual goals and determine what we need to do to get where we want to go.
I led a guided imagery for the equinox last Sunday at the Temple of Kriya Yoga as part of the noon meditation. It uses the colors of fall leaves to inspire and heal plus time to visualize your goals for the next few months. Here is the audio recording:
The Full Moon is on Monday, September 24, 2018 at 9:52 pm CDT in 1° Aries. This takes place just two days following the Autumnal Equinox so both those charts share many of the same aspects.
The most prominent is the powerful T-square from the Moon in Aries and the Sun in Libra to Saturn in Capricorn. Success can be found by facing into your responsibilities. Projects will be challenging in the beginning of the quarter but build momentum with time if you stick with them.
However Sun and Moon in Libra are harmonious (sextile and trine) to Mars in Aquarius: this means that friends and relationships will be helpful to us with our goals. Hanging around positive people will give us energy and motivation.
With Mars in a square aspect to Uranus, though, you might find some of the people around you to be a bit eccentric and volatile. Caution is advised at this Full Moon with driving, watching out for drivers making sudden, erratic moves. There will be plenty creative and inventive energy - be sure to write down all your wild and wonderful ideas. Wisdom asks you to wait a few days before taking action on any of them.
Saturn trines Uranus in the full moon chart. Focus on the idea of tradition and creative new ideas working harmoniously together regarding your goals and projects.
Pluto goes direct at 18° Capricorn. This station direct has an effect at least a week on either side of that date. The keyword for Pluto for spiritual seekers is transformation. It's possible to break free from old destructive patterns under Pluto aspects. Can you do this gracefully and skillfully without destroying the good things in your life? Remember the serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference
Pluto, Neptune and Jupiter are in harmonious aspect to each other at this time meaning that both the study of philosophy and the practice of meditation will give you deep insights into the nature of reality.
It's eclipse season. "An eclipse season is one of only two periods during a year when eclipses can occur, due to the orbital inclination of the Moon." -Wikipedia Many times just two eclipses occur - one solar and one lunar - but there can be more, like this season, with two solar and one lunar eclipse across July and August. Here are the dates:
Solar Eclipse: July 12, 2018 9:47 p.m. CDT 20° Cancer
Lunar Eclipse: July 27, 2018 3:30 p.m. CDT 4° Aquarius
Solar Eclipse: August 11, 2018 4:57 a.m. CDT 18° Leo
If you want a clearer understanding from the science side about solar and lunar eclipses, try this video.
If you want a brief description of each eclipse from a spiritual/karmic perspective, check out my article in the July/August issue of Yoga Chicago magazine.
Let's focus on the July 12th eclipse for now. The key aspect is the opposition to Pluto at 20° Capricorn. In my article I point out briefly that "life transformations and letting go of the past are the symbols for this eclipse." Do you have a transformation or change that needs to be made in your life? A well thought out plan for change could be very powerful when enacted right now. If you don't have a plan, use the energy of the eclipse to formulate one (don't just think about it, write it down!). Take some steps forward. Create momentum. If it seems like the changes are slow to implement, persist and the results will begin to show when Mars goes direct at the end of August.
With the Pluto in such a strong position, add a touch of gentleness to all you do. Changes you're trying to implement under Pluto can feel intimidating or threatening to others.
There are two grand trines within the eclipse chart. The first harmonizes the energy between Venus, Saturn and Uranus. This symbolizes the ability to take your creative plus practical skills and make something beautiful and long-lasting.
The other grand trine harmonizes the Sun, Moon, Jupiter and Neptune. Strong intuition and depth of meditation are possible for a few days before and after the eclipse. If your plan is to further a goal that is in the field of music, poetry or religion this is a beneficial aspect.
The primary energy of the eclipse is strongest 3 days before and after the eclipse. However, the changes made at an eclipse can affect your life for years into the future.
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There's a lot going on astrologically over the next couple of weeks:
With the New Moon conjunct Uranus, for several days on either side of April 15, the energy is volatile and high voltage. Situations change quickly. As Mercury makes its station direct in Aries, once again the key to handling extreme people and uncertain situations is what you say and how you say it. Stay awake and aware of your environment.
Being mindful in general is always a good practice. Here's a Zen story that I meditate on frequently. Like the author of the blog, I am rarely successful in maintaining more than a few moments of real mindfulness at a time. And like the author, I recommend the book Zen Flesh, Zen Bones by Paul Reps. The same lightning strike energy of the new moon that can be so difficult to control may be the same energy that gives us those flashes of insight from Zen stories and koans.
The combination of the Saturn and Pluto station retrogrades both in Capricorn (with Mars contained between them) reminds me of two symbols from nature. The earthquake and the volcano. The ground shakes and trembles in an earthquake - the foundations of life and faith are called into question. With the volcano, emotions that seethe below the surface are ready to erupt. Self-control puts a temporary cap on the volcano but it creates a pressure that can explode for miles like Mount St. Helens or Eyjafjallajökull.
Plan ahead: if you experience the symbolic earthquake, what resources do you have that can sustain you through a challenging time? If you are prone to being a volcano, what can you do to constructively to let off steam? At the same time, perhaps it's best to avoid others that remind you of a volcano.
Used wisely the energy of Saturn and Pluto together can bring focus, concentration, self-discipline, and steadiness of purpose to build something that can transform your world.
On Sunday April 29th, I will be giving a talk on "Astrology and Kriya Yoga: Predictions for Your Spiritual Path" as part of the Babaji Festival at The Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago. There will be music and chanting, talks by the temple swamis, and more.
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Marcia Sacks is an astrologer in the Kriya Yoga tradition.