You do not need to be a professional astrologer or study for years to use astrology to your advantage. You can easily learn some basics that will greatly benefit your daily decisions. You only need a calendar and some awareness of the happenings in the sky.
Astrology is the study of the energies of the planets and their cycles. There are better times to do certain things or not. In ancient times, astrologers and astronomers were one in the same. The ancient civilizations used astrology with great reverence and were in tune with the cycles of life, watching the motion of the sun and the moon in particular.
Many of us can probably remember our parents and grandparents using The Farmer’s Almanac to make decisions such as when to plant or harvest. My paternal grandfather even consulted it before he got a haircut. Little did he know that he was using astrology! The Farmer’s Almanac, a widely popular reference chronicle, has served as a guide to our ancestors for many years.
I suspect that one of the original uses of astrology was to know when to do things such as plant and harvest. Another way that it was used is the selection of auspicious dates and times to perform specific activities such as marriage ceremonies or baptisms. This is based on the cycles of the sun and moon. It is important to be aware of these cycles each month as this is the most practical way to use astrology. The sun cycle creates the seasons and the moon is the “fast hand” as it triggers events.
Retrograde planets are also important to know about as they affect us personally and the overall social climate. In particular, I always note Mercury retrograde. Thirdly, it is essential to be aware of eclipse seasons as they affect the whole of humanity and can impact us powerfully on a personal level depending on the sign and degree of the eclipse.
New Moon (Amavasya)
This is when the sun and moon come together. This is the beginning of the actual month and cycle. This is the time for new beginnings and fresh starts. Set your intentions and put them out in the Universe to manifest. I like to do a Spring and Fall ayurvedic cleanse and I try to correspond it closely with the new moon in these seasons. This position corresponds to the sign of Aries in the natural zodiac. Aries is a pioneer and all about starting new endeavors or giving life to ideas.
Waxing Crescent Moon
The moon is starting to gain strength as it is three signs away from the sun. The strength of the moon gets wiped out by the sun and has to wax (grow in light) to gain back its strength. This is a good time to write and do creative projects. This phase corresponds to the sign of Gemini, which is very much about creativity and writing.
First Quarter Moon
The moon is now at a 90 degree angle with respect to the Earth and the sun so it will be half lit. This is definitely a time for going after what you want and to work especially hard towards your goals and desires.
Waxing Gibbous Moon
Right before the full moon there remains just a hint of darkness. People tend to feel more anxious at this time. Correct mistakes and fine tune a project or endeavor. This phase corresponds to the sign of Virgo. Virgo gets a bad rap for being nitpicky but this can be good for discrimination and finding out what is or is not working.
Full Moon (Also commonly referred to as Purnima)
This occurs two weeks after the new moon. The sun and the moon are opposite each other in the sky and the moon is fully lit. This is a time to make important decisions. It is very auspicious to launch a project that you have been planning right before the full moon. Putting a house on the market just before a full moon can ensure a quick sale. This is a good time for having or attending a party as this phase corresponds to the sign of Libra, an extremely social sign.
Waning Gibbous Moon (Also known as a Disseminating Moon)
This is the phase right after the full moon when the moon starts to decrease in size. Teach and share with others knowledge and wisdom that you have gained.
Third Quarter Moon
Once again the moon is half lit. Finish up old projects at this time. In general, bring things to completion.
Waning Crescent Moon (Also known as a Balsamic Moon)
This is the phase just before the moon and the sun will come together again and thus create a new cycle. Reflect and get clear on your goals. I like to deep clean my home and clear out clutter to make way for new energy and happenings in my life. This phase corresponds to the sign Pisces, the twelfth and final sign of the natural zodiac. The twelfth house is a house of deep inner reflection and meditation.
All planets except for the sun and moon go retrograde. Mercury goes retrograde the most amount of time and Venus the least. It is important to know these dates as they relate to the meanings of the planets going retrograde. When a planet is about to turn retrograde, it is moving slowly and marks a time when affairs ruled by the planet will seem to slow down.
The period right before it comes to a halt and appears to move backwards is called the shadow period. This means that the motion of the planet seems to slow way down. This is why you may feel the effects a week or so before. From the perspective of the earth, the planet appears to move backwards during a retrograde period. It does not really move backwards but is actually just closer to the Earth than usual. This is a time to pull back and review that area of life that the planet represents. The personal planets, Mercury, Venus and Mars travel faster and are the most important to note for retrograde motion as they will make the most impact in our day to day life and society. I will focus on these in particular.
Mercury rules over the matters of travel, communication, computers and technology. Mercury goes retrograde three to four times in a year and will retrograde mostly in the same element (Fire, Earth, Air and Water) for the entire year for about three weeks each time. In general, Mercury retrograde periods are not favorable times to start new projects but rather times to go back and fix mistakes or complete projects. If you have been putting something on the back burner that needs attention or have failed to fix something that needs repair then you can bet that you can no longer ignore the issue.
I strongly suggest backing up your computer or getting your car serviced just before Mercury turns retrograde. Make sure that you are being very clear in your communication with others as there is a greater potential for misunderstandings. It is generally best to delay signing contracts or important papers. If you cannot avoid this then make sure that you read and understand the fine print. After many years I finally learned not to make important purchases during this time. Even if the item seems perfect in the store it’s like you get home and it is the wrong size, color or model, etc. Also be sure to leave earlier than usual to go to work or a meeting as you can expect more delays related to travel. You may hear from a friend that you have not talked to in a while or you may feel strongly compelled to reach out to someone from the past.
Cleaning out closets or the garage is a great use of your time during Mercury retrograde periods. Once you learn how to harness and direct the energy of this period then you will greatly benefit from it in your life. The key word here is flexibility. To push an agenda or something that is not working will only lead to more turmoil. Instead, dig in and find out the source of the problem. Do the research for later action. This advice has saved me so much frustration. Just know that when a planet goes direct and starts to “move forward” again then things will start falling back into place. I actually look forward to this time as I find that I get closure and tie up many loose ends. Done done done done!
Venus rules over relationships, marriage, luxury items and creative endeavors. Venus retrogrades every 18 months and stays retrograde for 42 days. During Venus retrograde cycles old loves may come back into our lives and we will review the relationship. You may have thoughts of an old relationship and unresolved feelings will come up. It is a time to work on resolving any issues from the past that may have caused you hurt or resentment. There will be confusion around relationships but just know that this will pass. Be careful about getting married during this time. Venus signifies marriage and you want for Venus to be in top shape for nuptials. Don’t panic if you did get married during this period. I know people that did and are still married after many years. They did have their fair share of ups and downs though. Venus also rules luxury items such as cars so do delay such purchases if you possibly can. Venus also indicates our values so it is a good period to revisit our value system and review whether we are applying it to our lives.
Mars rules over matters such as our energy, courage, athletic ability, surgery and blood, brothers, war, anger and real estate. Mars retrogrades every 24 to 26 months and stays retrograde for 60 to 80 days. It is harder to work things out that require compromise as Mars is a planet that represents aggression in general. As a retrograde planet is not as stable as a direct motion planet then you can see why people can tend to be more argumentative and more angry than usual. It is best not to initiate a lawsuit or a fight during this time as you will be less likely to win. Also, I advise to not schedule surgery at this time. On the other hand, if you have been putting off a necessary surgery then you may not have a choice. Remember, this cycle is happening so that we can correct and make adjustments in an area of life. People are frustrated more than usual. Knowing this you can have more patience and try harder to cooperate with others. If you have unresolved anger then this is a fantastic time to learn how to deal with it and channel it in healthy ways. Overall, it is a time to review your goals and what you truly want and desire.
There are two eclipses or eclipse seasons per year. This is caused by the nodes of the moon Rahu and Ketu lining up with the new moon and/or full moon. Rahu and Ketu are referred to as shadow planets as they are not actually celestial bodies but mathematically calculated points. By an eclipse season I am referring to the weeks prior to or following a solar or lunar eclipse. The opinions vary on how many weeks but I think that it is safe to say two weeks is a definite window of time to observe the effects.
An eclipse season is not a good time to start new activities but it is an excellent time for doing inner work such as meditation or introspection. I suggest that one avoid important new activities about two weeks before and after the eclipse. Also, eclipses tend to bring things that have been hidden to light. Pay attention to the news and you will see this in action. People tend to be on edge during eclipse periods and behave strangely you will notice so exercise more patience with others and yourself. You can get great insight from your dreams during this time as well. Be diligent about writing down your dreams for you will get answers to things that you have been pondering.
This may sound like a lot of rules but it is the basic outline for how to use astrology. Of course, this is general as it can affect each person a little differently due to the fact that we all are unique sparks of the Divine. There are many more ways that you can use astrology in your daily life but as my teacher sometimes says, “This is enough for now!” Get acquainted with the basics and you can add to your knowledge as you go. I invite you to take note of how you feel during these periods and phases of the moon that I have discussed. With this process you will get an idea of how you can make your own adjustments. I have included some dates for you to mark on your calendar so you can get started!
Retrograde Dates and Eclipses for 2016
January 5 to January 25
April 28 to May 22
August 30 to September 22
December 19 to January 8, 2017
None in 2016.
April 17 to June 29
March 9 – Solar Eclipse in Aquarius
September 1 – Solar eclipse in Leo