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Part One: Lunar Intimacy

People often ask why I have devoted so much study to Moon phases. Initially it was an act of insecurity. I figured Moon phases were something every astrologer
knew about, except me. As a child I had been told if I saw the Crescent Moon, it was wise to make a wish. A neighbor who gardened told me that the Moon guided
her planting and pruning. Television taught me that when the Moon was Full people could go crazy. But my astrology classes hadn't taught me much beyond that.
I reviewed my collection of astrology texts. Across six shelves, I couldn't find more than a dozen pages about the phases of the Moon. I visited my favorite
metaphysical bookstore. There was an entire aisle of astrology books, but not one was about the Moon. After four trips to other bookstores, I finally discovered The
Lunation Cycle by Dane Rudhyar. I later learned this is the modern bible of lunar phases. Just about any astrologer working with the phases today draws heavily from
this book.
But at the time, I found it a tough read. Three chapters into it, I was just turning pages, not digesting a single word. Rudhyar had an elegant conceptual understanding
of the Moon, but his ideas seemed as remote from my personal experience as that tight-lipped, distant orb herself. Enter serendipity. A friend invited me to a Full
Moon ceremony with a group of spiritual women. At last I would be initiated into the lunar mysteries!
On the night of the Full Moon, we drove to a small apartment behind a gas station and above a used rug shop. We entered to find a medicine wheel of stones and
crystals on the floor of a windowless room. So much for my fantasy of dancing naked in a shaft of moonlight! Instead we smudged with sage and sweet grass and
positioned ourselves around the wheel. We chanted, meditated, took personal visionary journeys and shared. It was a lovely evening. But later that night, looking up
at the glowing round Moon overhead, I felt no closer to her than before.

"I learned that earthworms, oysters, carrots, salamanders and other organisms move in rhythm to the Moon. But what about people?"

Maybe it would take time. I was eager for the next Moon ceremony until I learned there wouldn't be one. What I had assumed was a monthly ritual had been a novel
event. Over the past year, the women in the circle had tried keeping up with the Moon, but life kept getting in their way. Kids got sick, somebody had a class, it was
the holidays, cars broke down, relatives came from out of town. The Full Moon emerged as an ever lower priority.
It was another dead end in my quest for Moon knowledge. Disappointed, I began to question whether my goal had any real value. Given the paucity of written
material, and the difficulty of real-time commitment to the lunar rhythms, perhaps the Moon's phases signified nothing at all!
It was time for science, where we eventually turn to verify if something is real or not. I checked Gauquelin's The Cosmic Clocks and other books, looking for
statistical proof of Moon phase influence. I learned that earthworms, oysters, carrots, salamanders and other organisms move in rhythm to the Moon. But what about
people? Folklore has it that the number of births, suicides, homicides, arsons, and incidents of domestic violence rise at certain phases of the Moon. Yet scientific
evidence of this is remarkably hard to come by. Given the persistent popularity of beliefs about the Moon, you'd think the empiricists would have resolved this issue
long ago. But formal scientific inquiries are few. And for every study claiming human behavior is Luna linked, another swears that it's not.
Statistics are tricky (or, science isn't always scientific). An example is a study which seemed to prove that traffic accidents increase during New and Full Moons. It
was later observed that during the course of this study the lunar events fell on weekends, a time also correlated with greater accidents. When statistical controls for
holidays and weekends were added by the researchers, the relationship between Moon phase and car wrecks disappeared. Another study showed that homicides were
disproportionately high during the 24 hours before and after Full Moons. However, to get to this finding the data was run through such a myriad of statistical tests,
discarding all negative results until the desired positive one was achieved, that the conclusion was virtually meaningless.[1]

"This fact never ceases to amaze me. People believe in the Moon's power enough to say so, but not enough to actually look up and keep track."

Most Moon lovers believe the studies that prove their faith and most scientists believe the ones that disprove it. Beyond that, I'm not sure what I learned from
empirical investigations. Actually, one of my favorite studies is an informal one I've conducted myself over the years. I'll ask people, singly or in groups, whether
they believe Moon phases have an influence. The majority will usually say yes. Yet when I ask the same people if they can tell me what phase the Moon is in now,
remarkably few have any idea.
This fact never ceases to amaze me. People believe in the Moon's power enough to say so, but not enough to actually look up and keep track. By now it was my
fascination with the whole Moon problem that glued me to it more than anything else. I was perpetually edgy about the Moon, trying to narrow the gap between
folklore and fact, between lunar legends and my own experience, between my desire to touch the Moon's secrets and my fear that maybe there weren't any.

About this time Dane Rudhyar started looking really good to me. And so I pursued Moon phase knowledge within his conceptual framework. I was as rewarded by
his perspective as I've been by any good astrological technique. Rudhyar likens the eight phases of the Moon cycle to an unfolding organic process. In Rudhyar's
model, there's a gestation at the New Moon, a gradual growth and laying down of roots at the Crescent, a crisis of commitment at the First Quarter, adjustments and
struggle for survival at the Gibbous phase. An illumination or flowering comes at the Full Moon; a pollinating or dispersal of knowledge is facilitated at the
Disseminating phase. During the Last Quarter Moon, there's a crisis in belief as the fruit, or seed capsule for the next cycle, is prepared. The Balsamic Moon brings
decay and letting go, releasing the seed for the wheel's next turn.
Rudhyar's framework is sound and remarkably versatile. It works for understanding the monthly lunation cycle (from one New Moon to the next). It works for
describing life purpose and personality types based on the Moon phase one was born under. It works remarkably well with more advanced techniques like secondary
progressions; in fact, charting the progressing Moon phases over a 30-year period reveals a powerful life blueprint. Looking first at this technique in my own chart
brought one of those spine-tingling moments as an astrologer: "My god, this really works!"

"Charting the progressing Moon phases over a 30-year period reveals a powerful life blueprint. Looking first at this technique in my own chart brought one of those
spine-tingling moments as an astrologer: 'My god, this really works!'."

What Rudhyar teaches about the Moon also works for planets in aspect. A good grasp of the First Quarter phase, for example, can bring new understanding to any
pair of natal planets in waxing square; or, from a transiting planet in opening square to a natal. Rudhyar's framework makes new sense not just of the Moon, it opens
the whole chart, giving new meaning to Buddhist Shunryu Suzuki's sentiment, "When you understand one thing through and through, you can understand
everything."
At last I knew more about the Moon than I did as a girl. As an astrologer I'd grown using Rudhyar's insights. I brought them into my readings. I gave talks about the
lunation cycle at conferences. I was inspired to start designing my Moonprints report from this foundation. And I continued to explore Rudhyar's framework in the
first version of this Moon Watching series, published in TMA nine years ago. You'd think then, I would have finally found happiness in my quest for Moon
knowledge.

But it wasn't so. Many nights, the Moon still seemed like a stranger to me. And, like the grit of sand-in-the-shoes after a walk on the beach, discomforting thoughts
persisted. Rudhyar was good, but why did most astrologers, myself included, tend to simply parrot Rudhyar's phrases, rather than build upon, evolve them? And why
did the expectations for certain Moon phases fall flat at times? Some Quarter Moons, for example, were just as Rudhyar said, remarkably crisis-ridden; others were
calm.
Sometimes we have to live with a question for years, which is what happened with my wondering about the Moon. Sometimes it can't be answered it's the wrong
question. Such was the case with my Moon puzzle. As with most of my astrology studies, I had been looking for information, the kind of knowledge that would make
me expert in the ways of the sky. Yet information alone does not make a good astrologer. Over time I've learned there's a big difference between acquiring concepts
about charts and developing an active relationship with a living cosmos.

"In all my wanderings I'd come back to where I began, with the Moon as mystery, although I had stripped away a significant veil. It wasn't the Moon's veil. It was my
own. My approach had been wrong, as an astrologer, as a goddess-worshiper dancing in a ceremonial circle, as an empiricist, a historian, as a would-be crone looking
for herbal Moon secrets and cures. I had forgotten the most critical element of lunar expertise: the aspect of relationship. It had to be personal."

I've often pondered what Thomas Moore said in The Living Planets. He suggested that with the arrival of science and astronomy came something less fortunate: the
steady loss of intimacy with the sky. Our analytical and mathematical intelligence resulted in a kind of technological wipeout of the Moon, culminating on July 20,
1969, when, says Moore, "through the omniscient eye of television we could all see the dust of Luna, the imprint of a human foot, wellheeled of course, and later a
golf club teeing off on the body of what once was a daimon, a god, a celestial governor or archon." It was then, Moore argues, that "deeply felt ties with the planets
were severed."[2]
To measure how much we've lost in our relationship with the Moon, we might imagine what it was like before written records, when the Moon was our calendar,
making agriculture and migration, and ultimately, civilization, possible. Timing then was serious business. Fail to plant at the right time and the food supply would be
destroyed by frost. Success could come, however, from counting five Moons after the winter solstice, an easier measure than 148 days. The Moon also helped in the
business of tracking game, providing a measure of distance traveled, timing when a tribe should start moving again. She was a partner, intimately bound up in life's
course.

Before electricity, our friend Moon helped to differentiate the weeks, with certain activities emerging as more phase-appropriate than others. During the waxing
Moon, for example, each night brought an increase of evening light. We don't have to be too mystical to see why the waxing Moon was associated with a building
time, for bringing projects to fruition during its greater bounty of useful hours. It's perfectly logical why the Full Moon was associated with lively times. Under its
light communities could gather and celebrate after sundown, lovers could sneak into the forest for Moonlit trysts. Women's hormones may actually entrain to other
women's more than they do to the Moon, but it makes sense that a village of women would ovulate together when the Moon was made for lovers.
Even as the practical need for moonlight diminished, poets and musicians and artists were still fascinated with her mystery. When the Eagle landed and Neil
Armstrong took his one giant leap for mankind, the intimacy of this relationship may have reached its final limit. Mysterious Luna was undressed. That delicious
enticement to the imaginations of lovers, sailors and gardeners, and the poet within us all, was literalized into gray rock and dust. So rudely exposed as that airless
orb, that soundless satellite, the Moon fell off our imaginative landscape.
What happens when a revered body is grounded? Perhaps its divinity splinters in our psyches, hanging on as superstition or a kind of nostalgic fascination. Fanciful
pictures of the Moon appear everywhere, in advertisements, on note cards, necklaces, earrings, wrapping paper, bed sheets, kitchen towels. We haven't fully let go of
her. Yet our reverence and longing have been consumerized, intimate imaginings relinquished to borrowed imagery that we know is not exactly "real".
Lunar folklore and superstitions also rely on borrowed imagination. Belief may persist, but genuine awareness is lost. When things get crazy and someone wonders
whether the Moon is Full, many will nod, but few will turn a confirming glance skyward. Game four of the 1993 World Series, for example, was so wild and
unpredictable, the television commentator exclaimed "It must be a Full Moon!" The Moon was in her First Quarter phase, something anyone could have seen. Of
course this didn't go into the annals of television history as much of a gaff.[3]
We might be forgiven. No one needs to know whether the Moon is full or not. And cognitive laziness is a fact of our species. We tend only to notice what confirms
our beliefs; refuting evidence often escapes our attention. This is not, however, a good practice for astrologers in the details of their profession. Observing life events
against the phases of the Moon, I found that many Moon beliefs and astrology interpretations simply didn't hold. Was the information nonsense? Or did it mean that
lunar influence just doesn't work with the mechanical regularity of a clock? Or was something further implied?
I think back to Moore's comment on intimacy. What if, as so many spiritual traditions affirm, the cosmos is indeed alive? If we take this as true, then our way is
obvious: we need to approach the Moon as a living being. This is certainly easier said than done, given the modern tendency to see everything (including ourselves)
as a machine, composed of parts that either work, require fixing, or discarding. The alternative is to read Luna as an influence that is neither controlling nor
controllable, rather, predictable and capricious, alternately speaking and demurring, reaching toward us and turning away, knowable, but never completely, a being
capable, in fact, of change. To relate this way requires a willingness to go beyond astrological information into the skill sets of receptivity and intuition, emptiness
and imagination. It means renewed respect for her mystery, a word Moore defined as not an unsolvable puzzle, but "in the religious sense: unfathomable, beyond
manipulation, showing traces of the finger of God at work."[4]

"Moon watching means loving mystery and being sensitive to the aliveness all around, on earth and in the sky. As the phases unfold each Moon cycle, there will be
moments when we can indeed be the sage, like Rudhyar and others, working from our intellects. Other times we may need to be the lover, feeling the time's moods
with our hearts."

In all my wanderings I'd come back to where I began, with the Moon as mystery, although I had stripped away a significant veil. It wasn't the Moon's veil. It was my
own. My approach had been wrong, as an astrologer, as a goddess-worshiper dancing in a ceremonial circle, as an empiricist, a historian, as a would-be crone looking
for herbal Moon secrets and cures. I had forgotten the most critical element of lunar expertise: the aspect of relationship. It had to be personal. And it had to be
something much more dynamic than acquiring concepts. To be in relationship with the Moon suggests something as challenging and rewarding as any relationship,
full of passion, gradual learning and delights, increasing comfort and frustrations, friction, boredom and surprise.
Relationship has never been my strong suit. It's fitting, however, that I should come to this aspect of the Moon now. I've recently moved, from California to Oregon.
For the third time in my life, I'm embarking on the adventure of a committed relationship. I've sold the house I loved, quit the job I had for 16 years, uprooted my son
- to marry a man I've known and cherished for 31 years. Most days I feel blessed beyond measure. Some days I wonder what I've done. I wonder if I'm any readier to
have a relationship with a man, than I am to have one with the Moon.

Intimacy, whether with a person or the sky, requires acceptance of many mysteries, including, perhaps especially, our own. It requires an alertness to the interactive
dance that draws us all. In the end we may have to acknowledge that the Moon, or our lover, is less the cause of things and rather more our collaborator. We may
have to accept a greater unpredictability in our endeavors and that we are as much implicated in our outcomes as any human or celestial "other". Such a perspective
may seem at first to make us less secure. But it also brings new energy into the situation, opens up more room. It is a way to update our beliefs over time, a gift that
can keep any relationship, including our astrological ones, fresh.
Yesterday was the Cancer New Moon. Days before I printed out and studied the chart. I considered the Cancer themes of nurture and mothering, of security and
holding on, of this sign's element base, miraculous, life-giving water. I wondered about the oppositions of Pluto/Mars and Venus/Saturn, and on the day of the New
Moon, I headed into the mystery of it all. At sundown I went out to the front yard. I started to gather stones into a ceremonial circle above our underground well,
which along with others in the valley may be running dry. From nowhere my son appeared and we completed it together. We thought about the small dead frog we'd
found that morning and placed it in the wheel. I was deeply moved by our impromptu ritual, though I was less an expert astrologer or ceremonial artist than I was
simply the New Moon's playmate. Perhaps all that occurred was that the day was now a position against which the coming weeks' unfolding could be measured. And
perhaps something unfathomable, beyond manipulation, full of divinity was also at play.
Moon watching means loving mystery and being sensitive to the aliveness all around, on earth and in the sky. As the phases unfold each Moon cycle, there will be
moments when we can indeed be the sage, like Rudhyar and others, working from our intellects. Other times we may need to be the lover, feeling the time's moods
with our hearts. And there may be moments in between when we are the hunter, hungry for nourishment, in pursuit of lunar secrets.
I look forward to writing this Moon Watching series again, endeavoring more consciously to take the ways of hunter, lover and sage, sharing astrology knowledge
and a certain romantic imagination. In the coming eight installments, one for each Moon phase, we can collect the old concepts and deconstruct them when
necessary. Let's listen to the cycle's rhythm. Let's take ourselves all the way to the Moon.
Part Two: The New Moon

I've been doing New Moon rituals for years.There's always a voice inside that wonders: "What good is this anyway?" Another voice usually replies, "Shut up, this is
magic. You want magic, don't you?" The skeptical voice persists: "So what. You do a ritual or you skip it. It doesn't change the world." Cries the magic-loving
voice: "Skip the New Moon and the gods will be angry.Better do it." When all else fails, guilt wins. I do it. And because I've kept the commitment, I've received a
teaching over the years that goes beyond the intelligence of either the skeptic or the magic-lover. This knowledge is deeply lunar. And that it came gradually, across
many New Moon rituals, is precisely the point.
Rituals can be a means for joining with the natural order. In ancient traditions, ceremonies timed to the Sun, Moon and seasons were genuinely collaborative, a way
to ensure that the natural rhythms were sustained. Fail to keep the rhythms and the world would sicken. Today we're hampered by knowing the Sun and Moon will
rise without our help.We cannot be as convinced, however, that the world hasn't sickened without our ritual attentions.
This is not my reason for keeping New Moon ceremonies.It's more personal. It's about the developmental value of repetition, returning to the same moment, with a
similar intent, over time. This is what the Moon does, always bringing the Full Moon to the eastern horizon at sunset, without fail returning the waxing Crescent to
the western sky two weeks later. I return too. At times I'll simply mouth words or mime gestures without much feeling or connection, until at one New Moon, I get
such a deep "aha!" it resonates backwards and forward, charging both past and future ceremonies.Over the next New Moon something else is building. Nourished by
the subtle weave of change, reflection and return, transformations come.

"The princess ventures out one day into the cool forest to play with her golden ball (symbolically, to find wholeness). By accident she drops the ball into a spring.
Alas! Then a frog appears (he's really an enchanted prince). He retrieves the ball for her, and after one thing and another, the princess marries him (wholeness
achieved). Who would have predicted where that innocent walk would lead?"

We get what anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson calls "longitudinal epiphanies," discoveries that can only be made by walking the same path again and again.[1]
It's a natural mode of learning well suited to ritual.Bates worries that we are losing our capacity for it. Our desires for freedom, novelty, entertainment, and speed
make a stronger call. We hate being boxed in. Repeating traditional words and forms feels artificial. We worry that our ritualized spiritual experience lacks
sincerity. We get bored. Especially if the ritual doesn't bring instant results, we may feel like we've been conned.
Perhaps we could learn from children, who can watch, with remarkably little restlessness, the same video, play the same game, listen to the same story, again and
again. Not only can they do it, they love to do it. To the observing parent what the child gets from such repetition is often a mystery. But it might draw from the same
reassuring secret the Moon tells every month: "You're back!Stay awhile. Let's go deeper. Who are you now? What do you see?" With each New Moon return, the
particulars of our lives may have altered, but there is both continuity and opportunity in reaching the same temporal crossroads again.
A child watching Land Before Time over and over can seem possessed, as though the video had captured her, not the other way around.

But what if no ritual form ever captures us? Can we borrow a ritual from some foreign tradition?Without its heritage or training, will it have meaning for us?Or if
we decide to invent our own, will it lack the secret substance and power of forms created by ones spiritually wiser? What if we regularly show up for the New Moon,
but improvise our ceremony every time? Does that count?
I wish I knew the answers. We live in chaotic times. My sense is that in the coming years, especially as Pluto moves through Capricorn, our desire to find stable
forms and build stable structures will increase.(Editor's note: Pluto entered Capricorn 2008 and stays there till 2024.) In the meantime I think of one of my favorite B
movies, "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome." In the movie, a group of post-apocalyptic children are stranded after an airplane crash. They learn how to survive in the
deserted landscape. But they also develop rituals honoring their presumed past world, based on objects they find in the airplane debris - a broken videocassette, a
girlie photo, a post card of the New York skyline. Their assumptions about the past are wildly inaccurate, but their rituals are creative and inspired.Reciting their
stories, returning to their ritual container, is what binds the spirit of these stranded innocents together.
We might profit from their intelligence, despite its fictional source. In the end, it may matter less which ritual we choose, but that we choose one at all. It may not
matter when we do our rituals either. At the Full Moon.On the fifteenth of every month. When a favorite flower blooms.I happen to like the New Moon. A nature-
inspired time of renewal, it returns us, again and again, to the energy of beginning. Truth is, we begin many times, astrologically and otherwise. Every progressed or
transiting conjunction or every move and job change represents another new start, just like the New Moon. When you keep a New Moon practice, you get wiser and
wiser about what beginning means.
A good way to enter into the feeling quality of the New Moon is to recall a childhood "first time".Childhood beginnings are more pure, less burdened by experience's
drag of expectations.I remember the first time I fed ducks. I was three and nobody had bothered to tell me what we were doing. We were in a car, then a parking lot,
then somebody handed me a bag full of torn-up bread pieces. Uncomprehending, I started eating them. The adults laughed, the bag was pulled from my hands, I
cried.

"Truth is, we begin many times, astrologically and otherwise. Every progressed or transiting conjunction or every move and job change represents another new start,
just like the New Moon.When you keep a New Moon practice, you get wiser and wiser about what beginning means."

A not too auspicious beginning. And not unlike many a New Moon. We don't yet know about the duck-filled lake beyond the parking lot.The sky is dark then, the
Moon having dipped below the horizon with the setting Sun. The visual announcement of a new cycle's start won't show until a day or two later, when a slim
Crescent appears in the west.
At first the subtlety of this eluded me. From my early studies I'd somehow gotten it into my head that the New Moon is like the cymbal crash at the beginning of a
parade, a loud, frenetic time when everybody runs around, full of energy, enthusiastically starting new projects. During New Moons I watched the news and people
around me, expecting to see major events and activity.Sometimes this happened, just as often it didn't. I wondered, was astrology wrong?
The Sun and Moon are conjunct at the New Moon. This does signal a tremendous concentration of energy, but it occurs outside our view.This suggests energy but
little awareness, a common feature of beginnings. We like to think we direct ourselves into desired new directions, but more typically, we start our new cycles like
the New Moon, in the dark. It's much like conception, another divine conjunction outside our view. We don't really know what we've begun until well after it's
started.
Acting in darkness, we're feeling our way, not sure where it will all lead. This fits the special energy of conjunctions - whether a New Moon, or a progressed or
transiting planet comes into conjunction with a natal, even when there are conjunctions in the natal chart.There is a fusion of energy, a blurring of forces that brings a
new opportunity, and some confusion. An urge is stirred, but toward what end? Which planet leads?Do the energies struggle against each other or blend to create
something fresh?
Though the end isn't certain at the New Moon, go we must. We're headed for our first New Moon test.Stirred by energy without conscious intent, we can create anew
or fall back on instinct.Most often we do what we already know, veering away from beckoning change.I ate the bread because, at three years of age, that's what I did
with bread. Who knew you were supposed to feed it to ducks? Who even knew there were ducks?
What I've learned from keeping a regular New Moon practice is that without a lunar calendar, this moment is easy to miss.One busy work-week after another, we're
rushed forward at the machine-like pace of modern life. Unwittingly we send our New Moon steps into old footprints.Despite twelve to thirteen New Moons every
year, each one a celestial chance to build anew, people commonly land in the same situations month after month.

Astrology can help, but it can also make us cocky.We know when it's a New Moon. What's more, we have New Moon charts that can tell us what's coming. We can
energize new goals by coordinating them with the house in our chart where the New Moon falls.I used to especially favor the goal approach.Then one Aquarian
cycle I got my come-uppance and my paradigm changed.
The degree of that Aquarius New Moon fell into my 6th house.I considered 6th house things, my work, my health, my daily routines, and made the bright resolution
to get newly organized in all these areas. As the lunar month advanced, I was caught completely off guard. My astrology business suddenly doubled, capricious
computers at the office constantly came down with problems, storms strangled the traffic and abruptly changed schedules.Instead of making progress on my goals, I
was stressed out of my mind. Then, in an Aquarian flash, I got it. The point of the cycle was to learn something new - to develop more Aquarian ingenuity.
Aquarius has always been in my 6th house and I've approached it as any Virgo Rising would. I'm forever trying to organize my work, health, and daily routines.
That's what my goals were about, year after year at the Aquarius New Moon. I thought this was drawing down change! That cycle I finally tuned into the exquisite
play of chaos and invention in my Aquarian 6th house. I learned to loosen up some of my Virgo rigidity, embrace the unexpected, and refine my astrological
technique to include greater spontaneity and intuition.These gifts were not the result of conscious seed planting. They came from receptivity to the energy of the
time.

"The Sun and Moon are conjunct at the New Moon. This does signal a tremendous concentration of energy, but it occurs outside our view.This suggests energy but
little awareness, a common feature of beginnings. We like to think we direct ourselves into desired new directions, but more typically, we start our new cycles like
the New Moon, in the dark."

It all made new sense to me. Because the New Moon is a Sun/Moon conjunction, we could be both solar (conscious) and lunar (receptive). We could set goals. We
could strike out for some new adventure. But we should also remain alert for signs of a different adventure the gods might have planned. Some would say this is
exactly what New Moon charts can reveal.
Yesterday I got an email from my friend Gloria who's been studying prediction and New Moon charts. The text she's been reading says when a 6th house New Moon
squares a 3rd house natal planet, dire events can result. The Virgo New Moon was squaring Gloria's 3rd house Venus from the 6th.She was submitting her second
novel to her publisher that week.She was worried: "Is something awful going to happen with my book?"
Though it's possible to see futures in New Moon charts, it runs so counter to the requirements of the time, I like it less and less. As an astrologer friend recently said,
"Predictions rarely inspire us". In this case, the prediction had contracted Gloria to a worried point, hardly the best frame of mind to submit her project, let alone
launch a new cycle.
If she withdrew her book because the chart said it was the wrong time, she would curtail the dance of the book's unfolding and whatever learning awaited her.She
might also plant seed thoughts of insecurity for its next submission. Anyone working with predictions knows that a coming hard aspect holds many possibilities.It
may be that the square wouldn't touch Gloria's book at all, but would bring yet another event.
Whatever a New Moon chart might promise, going at it with an open readiness appears more optimal. I read New Moon charts more lightly now, preferring to
"discover" their manifestations as a cycle progresses. Even goal-setting has begun to feel too aggressive, too hard-pointed, too premature for the nature of the
time.That activity feels better at the next phase, the Crescent Moon. At New Moons I now fill with a soft aspiration towards the energized house in my chart.I don't
paint the symbols in so much as open to them. The New Moon is a call to mindfulness in that part of my life.
This includes a readiness to raze what's old as much as to build something new. There's something slightly apocalyptic about each New Moon, that wants our old
world, our old selves, to die.

The deity most appropriate for this phase may be the Hindu god Shiva, dancing in an awesome fire that builds as it destroys. Shiva would say "Lose that tense and
studied gaze. New Moons require an opening of body and soul.Raise your arms to the sky.Step your feet on the earth. Empty! Wonder! Dance!"
Each month the New Moon phase lasts from three to four days. It goes from the Sun/Moon conjunction, through their semi-sextile (30 degrees apart), to their semi-
square, when the Moon is 45 degrees ahead of the Sun. Whenever I can, I like to take a brief "walkabout" during this period, heading out on foot or by car, with no
other aim than to go somewhere and see what will happen.I go in the spirit of the princess in "The Frog King."
The princess embodies the maiden Moon.She's young and so beautiful that even the Sun, who's seen so many things, fills with wonder when he shines on her face.
The princess ventures out one day into the cool forest to play with her golden ball (symbolically, to find wholeness). By accident she drops the ball into a spring.
Alas! Then a frog appears (he's really an enchanted prince). He retrieves the ball for her, and after one thing and another, the princess marries him (wholeness
achieved). Who would have predicted where that innocent walk would lead?

"The princess playing catch with her golden ball evokes the feel of a New Moon conjunction. Remember what it was like to play catch with just yourself?To soar
with the ball as you thrust it and your spirit skyward? How you lost all sense of time and the outer world as you positioned yourself beneath the ball watching it fall
towards you? We're infused with energy and a natural self-absorption."

My New Moon walkabouts are rarely so dramatic. (Though I'll admit there's been three lunations where I've indeed found a prince!) Mostly I go out each New Moon
just to break my routine. Sometimes new inspirations dawn. Sometimes, as with the princess, an irritation or seeming misfortune leads to something new. The point
is, I don't plan. As "The Frog King" suggests, during New Moon beginnings, even encounters with small common things, like forest frogs, can be auspicious.
The princess playing catch with her golden ball evokes the feel of a New Moon conjunction. Remember what it was like to play catch with just yourself?To soar
with the ball as you thrust it and your spirit skyward? How you lost all sense of time and the outer world as you positioned yourself beneath the ball watching it fall
towards you? We're infused with energy and a natural self-absorption. We're more into ourselves and less aware of the outer environment.Oppositions and squares
remind us that the world is full of others, but at conjunctions, we aren't so provoked. It's as though all the world were self.
This strong subjectivity carries over to those born at the New Moon, gracing them with desires the rest of us wouldn't dare pursue. Blissfully unaware of our points-
of-view, they don't know that what they're reaching for is so unheard of or impossible. New Moon types are pioneers, the great initiators and mavericks of our
culture.They're here to say "yes" to their own special bundle of interests and abilities, taking that package as far as they can.
Find a few New Moon individuals and ask about their lives. These are interesting, eclectic people, like a successful businessman I know, who's president of a multi-
million dollar research corporation and writes poetry, often sharing with his secretaries and clients CD's of the songs he's composed and performed.
Sometimes this unique collection of talents is more curse than blessing. With so many possibilities to choose from, New Moon types can find themselves stalled at
the beginning again and again. These are the founders who haven't yet discovered what they'll found. There are no ready-made role models - they've got to blaze their
own trail. But declaring one and sticking to it is hard.True to the nature of this phase, these New Moon babies tend to act instinctively without a clear sense of where
it will lead.

"As with characters in our favorite books and movies, what we discover in the end is usually different from what we originally sought. The most important thing is to
get moving. The next most important thing is to be alert for the moment when, like the princess, our golden ball drops in the pond.This is the semi-sextile, an aspect
that's half of a sextile, or half an opportunity. It's one of those "castor oil" aspects. In the end it's good for us, but at the time it makes us grimace."

Astrology can help. Look to other planets in their chart to bring their potentials to fruition; in particular seek out placements in fixed signs.With a scattered chart or
many mutable and cardinal planets or placements in the zero degree, focusing their aims may be especially hard. For these people Saturn or Pluto can help, by natal
position or transit.Guide them towards transforming their Pluto obsession into a power to commit.Encourage them to reposition Saturn's limitations and fears into an
application of diligence.
I remember a reading with a bright and talented New Moon woman nearing her 40th birthday. A painful metaphor for her persistent New Moon confusion was that
she'd had several miscarriages and abortions over the years, but no children. She also had nearly a dozen careers and half as many relationships. She'd worked on an
oil rig, trained horses, had been a carpenter, groomed lamas, sold vitamins, was an accountant, worked in a law office, on a farm, and designed stained-glass
windows. Ahead of her were transits most don't look forward to: Pluto was squaring natal Pluto, Saturn was crossing her North Node. But for her they worked well.
What happened was she got pregnant and finally carried the birth to full term.Now she's a unique and happy mom.

We all become New Moon babies at one time or another. When our progressed Sun and Moon conjoin, an average two to three times in a lifetime, we enter a New
Moon period that lasts from three to four years.Transiting outer planet conjunctions and inner planet returns can also have this character; understanding their "New-
Moonness" may be an important way to read them. If we embrace new possibilities, we can certainly be forgiven our self absorption at these times.Our subjective
self will be altered by coming events. Now it's the petrie dish that starts growing our quest.
As with characters in our favorite books and movies, what we discover in the end is usually different from what we originally sought. The most important thing is to
get moving. The next most important thing is to be alert for the moment when, like the princess, our golden ball drops in the pond.This is the semi-sextile, an aspect
that's half of a sextile, or half an opportunity. It's one of those "castor oil" aspects. In the end it's good for us, but at the time it makes us grimace.
Something occurs to interrupt our reverie. We don't like it, even though it's the uncomfortable moments that get us down to the business of change. We envy our
friends' successes. Our spouse is mean to us.Our house is too small. Whatever it is, we're ready to deal with the frog, who says if we agree to his terms, we'll feel
better again.The frog says if he retrieves the princess' ball, she must take him into her bed and share her meals with him forever after. Without any thought she says
yes.
At some point during this phase, we make a New Moon promise. Perhaps we have such an unbearable encounter with our boss that we rise up with renewed
determination: "That's it, I'm getting a new career!"We feel good again, we get our wholeness back. We head back to the castle in our happy little dream, and, like
the princess, suddenly discover this wart-filled frog hopping alongside. "But you promised!" he cries.
"What?! I didn't really mean it." We make a nasty face.The frog is pissed. It's the semi-square. What happens now? You'll have to wait until the next issue when we
discuss the Crescent Moon!
The Moon Watching series by Dana Gerhardt
Part Three: The Crescent Moon

At the Crescent Moon, "I'm so-o-o bored" is a popular phrase in our house. The eight-year-old says it to his page of math problems, the nine-year-old to the piano he
should be practicing. Denied Nintendo and the Internet, the fourteen-year-old drops on the couch with ennui. Robert yawns as I discuss too much Buddhism. I do
likewise when he's praising John Wayne. Even the four-year-old succumbs, hissing "This is stupid, boring!" when made to pick up her toys.
I used to think boredom signaled a crushing absence of stimulation - to be impaled on an empty world.Yet, as my awareness of the dense aliveness of the universe
grows, the less precise this definition appears. The world is too full of stimuli. This is especially so at the Crescent Moon, a Moon phase surging with fresh energy.
Why should we be bored?
Anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson argues that boredom is a learned attitude. She thinks we'd do better, that our lives might be profoundly reshaped, if we
learned other responses instead. [1]Curiously, we don't; being bored seems to work for us. Viewing our bored selves with another's eyes, we might even conclude
our boredom is a great friend and co-conspirator. It arrives the moment we find ourselves stuck, wags a finger of blame at the outer world and wraps us in a haughty
inertia.

"Things have settled down since the New Moon's excitement. It may even seem that not much goes on. Nonetheless, our Crescent choices will have a deep effect.
Ultimately they drive the subtle mystery of why our lives don't change, even though we swear we want them to."
In his suicide note, the British actor George Sanders declared he was bored by it all. We usually think of boredom as entering this way, at the end of experience, as a
wearied "been there, done that", the numbing result of too much repetition and familiarity. The problem with this view is that it gives us nowhere to go, which may in
fact be boredom's self-fulfilling strategy. However, if we turn boredom upside-down and see it coming instead at the beginning of experience, we discover what its
weary exterior hides.
It begins with a world that's not empty at all. In fact this world is brimming with information and requests - though not the sort we're looking for. We get asked to do
something that scares us or makes us angry. We want ice cream and rice cakes are being served. We want to roller blade and someone hands us kite string. We're
disappointed or surprised.Even familiar activities demand we take new ground. However it comes, we get a kind of toothache from all this stimuli; so we reach for a
mental anesthetic to dull our consciousness. We go numb. And now our world is empty - because we've made it that way.
Boredom is our secret weapon against change. When my son is wearied by his math problems or I can't stand to hear about John Wayne, we've shut the door on
something unwanted or new, preserving our same old, utterly familiar selves.Understanding this is especially important at the Crescent Moon, where our psychic
energy may draw quietly forward or back, without our conscious note. Things have settled down since the New Moon's excitement. It may even seem that not much
goes on. Nonetheless, our Crescent choices will have a deep effect. Ultimately they drive the subtle mystery of why our lives don't change, even though we swear we
want them to.

The Crescent Moon appears approximately three and a half days after the New Moon, when the Moon goes forty-five degrees ahead of the Sun.[2]Visible in the
western sky after sunset, this slender, shimmering Crescent has an exquisite luminescence, as though inked with the radiance of angel wings. Its image universally
inspires optimism and hope. Even the word "Crescent" seems to draw us forward, deriving from the Latin "crescere", meaning to increase or grow. At this phase we
can lasso a dream so bold, we'll pattern a great leap in succeeding phases.
We're like Dorothy on the yellow brick road, with the sparkling Emerald City just in our view.Our adventure began at the New Moon, where getting lost in a strange
territory ensured a good beginning. This meant we opened ourselves to new experiences. We broke down the solid sense of who we are, so that, like Dorothy, we
could assemble a new crew of possibilities within. But as the city of our dreams comes into view, there's always a wicked witch nearby, making the poppy field
bloom. We lose consciousness before reaching our destination.
The most eager New Moon devotee often falls away from the lunation cycle here. What we need is a good witch Glenda to throw snow on the poppy field and pinch
our cheeks awake.After all, fertility is promised; we need only discover what to cultivate. Setting the right goal for the cycle can keep us moving along the path. If
we've fixed our objective prematurely at the New Moon, we may have propped up an old goal with little power to carry us forward. But at the Crescent it's not only
right to focus ourselves, it's important.

"Setting the right goal for the cycle can keep us moving along the path. If we've fixed our objective prematurely at the New Moon, we may have propped up an old
goal with little power to carry us forward. But at the Crescent it's not only right to focus ourselves, it's important."

Our good witch Glenda offers some advice: "Remember, not all dreams are energetically supported at all times."She wants us to stay awake to the world, to retain
some of that New Moon openness. This means our goal should respect the messages in our environment as well as the desires in our heart. We need to both direct
effort and listen. This is especially true when the world is telling us something we don't expect to hear, something that makes yawn or drives us nuts.
As a collaboration between Sun and Moon, the lunation cycle requires we also partner our (solar) will with our (lunar) receptivity. With too much will and not
enough reflection, we'll reject the messages from our environment as stupid or irrelevant. The opposite will make us slack. Too much receptivity and we'll forget
what the time is for, its creative potential slipping through our fingers. At best, the Crescent phase should bring a gradual focusing, a steady sharpening of our
intention.
Studying the house and sign of the New Moon's seed can help. The energized house in our chart suggests where development is favored. The New Moon's sign hints
at our optimum energetic approach.But holding even these concepts too tightly can dull our awareness to the stimulating present.Better perhaps to eventually shift
our concepts to the background and keep ourselves trained on the liveliness all around.

If we did just this, we'd never be bored again. And as Bates implies, we would reshape our lives with this attitude. At the least we could keep it in mind during the
days of the Crescent every month.Given our desires, the chart's seed, and the momentum of events, we can select the right target and aim.If we committed to this
practice during the three to four years of our progressed Crescent phase, we might amaze ourselves with achievements by the progressed Full Moon. And if we were
born at the Crescent phase, this should become the work of our lives: to raise the dream that is speaking in and around us and not stop until it's realized.
For those born at the New Moon, when possibility is so wide, clarifying a single goal is often difficult. But those born at the Crescent usually know what they want to
achieve. They're inspired to better themselves, to surpass any ethnic, cultural, socio-economic or physical limits they may have been born into. They want to go
beyond their origins, becoming the first in the family to get a college degree, move to an exclusive part of town, succeed at a prestigious career, join a club that
previously barred their kind. I know a number of Crescents whose immigrant parents successfully assimilated into the dominant culture; now these Crescents are
determined to reclaim their ethnic roots, in a sense, bettering themselves through reverse assimilation.
Crescents in our political, judicial, health and educational institutions are often working hard for social change. They're instinctive reformers, but function quite
comfortably within existing systems.Crescents get promotions, climb corporate ladders.They have a gift for innovating without alienating or tearing down. They add
to the prevailing culture. Through them, "the establishment" evolves.
Crescent aspirations are keen, but when pressed, many will take a cynical downshift, admitting that maybe their dreams won't come true after all, like the fox
stepping away from the cluster of grapes he can't reach. Their stories often reveal curious turns of bad luck, opportunities that dissolved, big deals that got away. I
think of a Crescent entrepreneur I know.Carrie is talented and ambitious, yet over the years, has found herself in the same struggles again and again. Despite the
intelligent and diligent approach she brings to her work, her business doesn't grow.Year in, year out, her life stays the same.

"The semi-square is considered by some to be a minor or 'nuisance' aspect.Yet to label it this way misunderstands the subtleties of beginnings, where little moves can
have big effects. So many things are possible at the Crescent, so little is fixed into place.Slight shifts can change the world."

What holds her back?Dane Rudhyar, the lunation cycle's master philosopher, would argue that it's the ghosts of her past: the fears, the insecurities, the resistance, the
aggressions, the inertia, all the crystallized emotional habits from her previous incarnations; too it's the powerful influence of her ancestors, still commanding from
the pool of cultural and family attitudes and traditions. These ghosts are raised by the very dreams that draw her forward. She wants a different life from her parents,
she wants to break through childhood patterns.The ghosts aren't so sure. Her life becomes the field where her past struggles against her future, bringing plenty of
activity, but often frustrating real progress. There's a sweetness and naivete to Carrie that I often see in Crescents. Though she's nearly forty years old, she still wears
the freshness and emotional sensitivity of youth, which is fitting for a Moon phase characterized by early growth. The Crescent mode is often imaged as a fragile
seedling pushing upward against the soil, reaching downward for support with its roots.Carrie's vulnerability is as keen as her idealism.She's endured bad partners
because she wanted them to like her and because was afraid to go it alone. She's taken risks when the collective enthusiasm was high, but lost her nerve when others
began dropping out.
Crescents aren't so different from the rest of us. They show us what it's like to be at the beginning of things. Big dreams often raise big hesitations. Whether we're in
the monthly Crescent, or at our progressed Crescent phase, security is often an issue. Being nestled in a cozy family structure can feel reassuring, even though it goes
in a direction opposite from our dreams. Crescent birth or not, we all have ghosts that hold us back. And the biggest problem with ghosts is they're invisible. So
familiar and pervasive, they're like water to the goldfish swimming in his bowl. How do we confront what we can't see?
Enter the mixed blessing of the waxing semi-square. This is the forty-five-degree angle between Sun and Moon that starts the Crescent phase. The semi-square is
considered by some to be a minor or "nuisance" aspect.Yet to label it this way misunderstands the subtleties of beginnings, where little moves can have big effects.
So many things are possible at the Crescent, so little is fixed into place.Slight shifts can change the world. We're in the realm of aspirations, intentions and mental
imprints. Our thoughts are potent, scripting what will later unfold. Yet we might altogether miss their arc if it weren't for the irritations the semi-square brings.

Irritations bring us face to face with our ghosts. The ghosts are around whenever we're annoyed, easily deterred, peeved that things don't go right the first time. Small
matters will bug us inordinately.We'll act picky, impatient, judgmental, inconvenienced. Our friends might wonder at the strong reactions provoked by such small
setbacks, but this initial collision between reality and our desires has huge psychological importance. These setbacks re-start an old argument we have with the world.
Like the uninvited guest who knows just how to push our buttons, what has halted us before shows up again.
As astrologer Bil Tierney writes, "(The semi-square) may reveal willful attitudes that tend to keep us rut-bound, unadaptable, and uncompromisingly resistant to
needed changes taking place in the environment."[3] Whether by transit or natal aspect, what doesn't go right at the semi-square is vital feedback. We're seeing
where our thoughts are weak, our expectations inappropriate. It's an opportunity to fine-tune our efforts. Obviously we need to see ourselves clearly and read the
world properly to realize our dreams. But if we simply project our blame onto the world, we'll likely abandon our goal after stumbling across one or two pebbles.
Being willful and rut-bound isn't just a modern problem. It's the central issue in many old tales about dreamers, including an American Indian story of a turtle and his
bride.[4]The turtle is a nice fellow, but a little lonely. He builds himself a comfortable hut filled with skins.Sitting there alone one night, a dream overtakes him, the
kind of far-reaching dream one might imagine at the Crescent Moon (or from semi-squared planets in one's natal chart). The turtle wants to do something no turtle
has ever done. He wants to take a beautiful young woman for his bride.

"Whether by transit or natal aspect, what doesn't go right at the semi-square is vital feedback. We're seeing where our thoughts are weak, our expectations
inappropriate. It's an opportunity to fine-tune our efforts.Obviously we need to see ourselves clearly and read the world properly to realize our dreams."

He studies the human tribe around him and approaches the prettiest, most industrious girl. "Marry you?!!"She drops the beaded slipper she's making and tries to hide
her laughter.The turtle is hurt, but persistent.He pleads so earnestly that she grudgingly consents. "Okay, but you'll have to wait until spring, I have to make so many
slippers and dresses."The turtle doesn't like this either. He raises himself as tall and proud as a turtle can and says "Then I will go to war and take some captives.
When I return you'll marry me."
Sensitivity and bravado often travel together at the beginning of big aspirations. It's how ego gets mixed up with our goal. Especially when challenged, ego raises the
ghosts, who spin us around; when we're done, our objective has shifted. We're protecting and justifying ourselves, our self-respect more important now than our
vision.The turtle gathers all his relations and announces they'll make war on a neighboring village. As the turtles march slowly out of camp, the girl stands at her hut
and laughs. "In four days", he says, "you'll be weeping instead of laughing, as there will be hundreds of miles between us." "In four days you'll hardly be out of
sight!" she replies. "Well not four days..." he mumbles, "I mean four years."

What we dream at the Crescent won't come true immediately. How do we bear the time?The turtle army marches for what seems like forever.It feels as though
they've gone half way round the earth, though it's only been four little miles. They come to a great tree lying across the road. "It will take us years to get over that!"
They consider how they might get caught in its branches if they try to climb over it or stuck in its roots if they dig underneath. They determine to burn a hole through
the trunk. But the fire doesn't burn far before it fizzles.
For a dream to become reality, the two need to merge. This doesn't happen easily: one is airy, the other rock hard. Inspiration and activity must draw them together.
But when the tree doesn't burn (inspiration too weak), the army gives up (no action). The turtle leads his troops homeward, figuring nobody needs to know what
really happened.He can always make up a story about some great adventure.The turtle warrior has journeyed long but never left the realm of dreams. His self-
protective shell has not only slowed him down, it's kept him out of the actual world. We can't help asking: how could this turtle manage marriage to a spirited young
woman if he couldn't even manage a tree?
Crescent difficulties, the sort a semi-square brings, are best approached as a kind of boot camp. They're meant to condition us for the greater challenges we'll surely
meet ahead.On the way to the Full Moon's illumination, the First Quarter and Gibbous phases will require even more action and stamina. That is why the Crescent
arrives as a very personal obstacle course, which if successfully navigated, can increase our competence and confidence. Like plebes in basic training, we might get
yelled at, humiliated, stripped of our defenses, but as in all those military movies, we'll love our drill sergeant in the end, for what he helped us to become.
The would-be warrior turtle returns to camp where his reluctant bride offers to bathe him. She gets him to jump in her pot of boiling water.There he sinks to the
bottom. One by one, the turtle army follows their leader, all except for one young turtle. Noticing that none of his friends leaves the pot, he goes as fast as he can to
the river. He wants to escape from that awful hut, so he lets the river carry him as far as it flows, until at last he finds himself in the warm sea.
The observant and adaptable young turtle introduces us to the next aspect of the Crescent phase: the waxing sextile, which occurs when the transiting Moon goes
sixty degrees ahead of the Sun.Like the semi-square, the sextile is a predominantly mental aspect, but it carries a greater awareness of the outer world. Says Tierney,
it's an "explorative aspect, eager for new learning experiences. Under its influence, we are encouraged to reach out towards the greater social environment in many
directions whereby we can grasp external benefits."[5]

"If we genuinely want our lives to change, there are probably things we need to learn. The sextile is a flowing aspect that draws us towards learning opportunities.
But it acts quietly. Because it offers none of the irritations of the semi-square, we may be content to remain in the realm of ideas and let tangible opportunities slip
away."

We are loosed from our ruts and resistance. We are stimulated to observe the world and see how to make our dream happen. We're ready to gather information and
allies at the sextile. We move forward. It's good to remember this energetic window is also available to us during the Crescent phase. Like the semi-square, it's an
optimal fit with our still young growth. If at the semi-square we're a fragile seedling pushing against the soil that bears down on us, at the sextile we're gathering
support through fresh roots, manifesting the intelligence to seek proper nourishment.
If we genuinely want our lives to change, there are probably things we need to learn. The sextile is a flowing aspect that draws us towards learning opportunities. But
it acts quietly. Because it offers none of the irritations of the semi-square, we may be content to remain in the realm of ideas and let tangible opportunities slip
away.Or we might be so stimulated by the outer world, we jump from one activity to another, losing the thread of our dream. Ideally, the waxing semi-square and
waxing sextile are fine complements. The sextile relieves us of our haunted past. And if we were harrowed by the semi-square and kept our developmental nerve, the
greater focus and stamina we can bring to our sextile opportunities.
As for the young turtle who escaped his ignorant fellows, I don't know what happened to him. I can only hope he made some wonderful dream come true - and that at
the next Moon cycle, so will you!

1 Mary Catherine Bateson, Peripheral Visions, (NY: HarperCollins, 1994),


p. 111
2 The lunation cycle is a cycle of dynamic relationship-between the transiting Sun and transiting Moon.When I've taught this cycle to beginners, there has
sometimes been confusion on this point.The New Moon occurs when the Sun and Moon are conjunct in the same degree, 15 degrees Aries, for example, or 8 degrees
Gemini.But the two lights don't stand still; both continue moving forward through the zodiac, with the Moon going at a faster rate than the Sun.When the Moon
pulls 45 degrees ahead of the traveling Sun, that's when the Crescent phase begins. When she pulls 90 degrees ahead of the transiting Sun, that's when the Crescent
phase ends and the First Quarter begins.Instead of calculating the phases from the fixed point of the New Moon (as might be done in a sidereal cycle), we calculate
the aspects in terms of their evolving relationship (what's called a "synodic" cycle).
The First Quarter Moon

At the Quarter Moons, I'm not surprised when the plaintive wail of a siren breaks the silence of my otherwise sleepy town. Or when the nightly news features a
sudden eruption of bomb threats, shootings, deadly traffic accidents, domestic quarrels exploding into murderous rage. Full Moons may have the greater reputation
for inspiring wild or erratic behavior, but at the quarter Moons, there may be even greater tension in the air. Dane Rudhyar called the first and Last Quarter Moons
"crisis" times.
Crisis isn't a particularly happy word. It suggests a heart-pounding moment when change is inevitable, and likely perilous. At such times, it's nice to recall how the
Chinese language carries crisis and opportunity in the same ideogram. This dualism also holds at the quarter Moons: outcomes can go either way.Tragedies simply
draw more reporters and crisis management teams, even sell more astrology books. But a wise astrologer keeps her perspective. She knows that on the quarter Moon,
when one man is trampled by a wild horse, another digs a new well; another may break his mother's heart and finally leave home, striking out for a brave new
adventure.

"We decide our futures at the quarter Moons. 'Caught,' as Rudhyar said, 'in the wheel of change,' we turn ourselves towards fulfillment or failure, as an incoming tide
of possibilities slams against the momentum of what we've already known."

When a crisis subsides, we can more clearly see how it brought a turning point in our fortunes. This hints at the quarter Moon's significance, and it brings us closer to
the origins of the word crisis in our own language. Deriving from the Greek krinenin, "to decide or determin," crisis is what Hippocrates called that stage when a
patient's bodily humours, ebbing and flowing like the tides of the sea, shifted their direction. It was then a physician could determine whether the disease was taking a
good or bad turn.[1]
We decide our futures at the quarter Moons. "Caught," as Rudhyar said, "in the wheel of change,"[2] we turn ourselves towards fulfillment or failure, as an incoming
tide of possibilities slams against the momentum of what we've already known. This collision is imaged astrologically as a square, the relationship between Sun and
Moon that defines the quarters. A square is the felt tension, whether in the birth chart, by transit, or the lunation cycle, of two bodies ninety degrees apart on the
zodiacal wheel.
Squares bring two forces into conflict. Each planet works to block the expression of the other, a tension that promotes action.Remarkable growth can happen with
squares, though it's not guaranteed. During the Sun/Moon square at the First Quarter, for example, we can bolster ourselves for forward movement, drawn by the
promise of new revelations at the Full Moon. Or we can drown under the weight of our cluttered pasts, finding ourselves at the Full Moon not too far from the cycle's
beginning.
Planets in square function much like the archetype of the disappointed king and his "stupid" son. The expectations, capabilities and desires of these two are so
different, that resistance between them is inevitable. Typically one planet bullies the other. It's often the slower moving planet who initially sets the agenda, like the
king who demands his slow-witted son shape up. He sends the boy on quests-to gain wisdom, slay a dragon, retrieve a magic pear-none of which the boy cares about
or feels at all capable of doing. "Idiot!" growls the irritated king. "Yes... I must be an idiot!" mutters the rejected son.
Feeling so trapped, inhibited, and resentful, the boy (or faster-moving planet) struggles against his lot. His frustration mounts. The square's momentum for change is
building. The faster-moving planet needs to somehow reorient itself. It doesn't know it yet, but it will find its success only on discovering a brand new castle (or
paradigm). But first the pressure of the square must release: in a highly charged confrontation, the king disowns his son. This is the square's crisis or turning point.

The boy wanders in the forest (the realm of new possibilities) and magic helpers (intuitive voices) gather round.Free now (the slower moving planet has given up),
the faster moving planet follows its fresh instincts, even though it doesn't yet completely understand them. Of course soon it arrives at a kingdom where a princess
needs marrying (a new developmental situation); of course there's a test to pass. Where countless other suitors have failed (recalling the square's previous
unsuccessful attempts and its mounting frustrations), the boy's instincts have been refined and are now uniquely suited. He succeeds.He makes the princess laugh,
captures the magic bird, discovers the sorcerer's secret. The faster moving planet has come into its power. The "stupid" son can now marry the princess (integration)
and the kingdom (the whole birth chart perhaps!) is regenerated.
As for the happily ever after, squares have a very long life. Whether they live as natal aspects, or surface by transit, or at the bi-monthly quarter Moons, their struggle
and snap will enact again and again. That's good news really, for squares are phenomenal teachers. Their conflicts can build our stamina, develop our powers of
discrimination, and increase our confidence. Again and again they take us to significant turning points. Squares give us the directional push to keep growing
throughout our lives.
In practice, however, most astrologers discuss transiting squares as events, speculating on the particular crisis they may bring. When transiting Saturn squares natal
Mars, for example, there might be accidents or injuries or confrontations with authority figures.Transiting Neptune square the Moon can bring gullibility, depression
or disillusionment; it can reveal breast cancer, your mother might become hospitalized, swindlers could enter your home. Squares in the birth chart are likewise often
discussed as their forms, as psychological constructs and personality features. Natal Saturn squaring Mars might mean your father was dictatorial or somehow failed
to encourage your efforts; the result is you may inhibit your desires, have difficulty handling anger, your timing is off, or you feel defeated before you begin. A natal
Moon/Neptune square might mean problems with addictions, a dreamy personality, or an inclination towards poetry or spirituality.

"Squares (and all aspects for that matter) are more properly understood as moments in the dynamic flow of time, as forces rather than forms, as a dance within the
whole rather than a collection of parts. When we freeze aspects into 'static space-events,' said Rudhyar, we're no different than the scientist with his dissections and
sterile lab experiments: we analyze death and let life escape."

When transiting squares loom in our future, we're eager to know what will happen. With squares in our birth chart, we want to know what personality traits they
imply. This is an astrological shorthand that Rudhyar abhorred. Squares (and all aspects for that matter) are more properly understood as moments in the dynamic
flow of time, as forces rather than forms, as a dance within the whole rather than a collection of parts. When we freeze aspects into "static space-events,"[3] said
Rudhyar, we're no different than the scientist with his dissections and sterile lab experiments: we analyze death and let life escape.
One of the best astrological cures for this syndrome is Moon watching. Attuning ourselves to Moon phases returns us to a living experience of the sky. It brings a
greater appreciation for aspects as temporal forces. We become more aware of their special roles in the full cyclic motion between two celestial bodies, any two
bodies, not just Sun and Moon.We understand that the proper interpretation of any astrological aspect - whether sextile, square, trine or inconjunct, whether in the
birth chart or transiting sky - requires that we also reckon what has come before, and, what can come after.
This leads to an obvious but rarely mentioned truth: some Moon phases (and transits) seem to bring nothing at all.If what has been seeded is timid, if no back and
forth struggle has occurred, if little pressure has built, then the First Quarter's opportunity for crisis can come and go. We err if we think, for example, that all new or
Full Moons should be meaningful to us, as though we ride on the gears of a cuckoo clock that sings without fail every quarter hour. Most of us travel currents of time
far more mysterious. What's significant may take many Moon cycles to ripen.
Endeavoring to predict such moments, some astrologers will analyze upcoming Moon phase degrees against placements in the natal chart. This technique can bring
startling results. And it can yield nothing. This sporadic proof for astrology doesn't deter me, as I've learned not to expect scientific certainty from this intuitive art.
That life wants to guard at least some secrets is less troublesome to intuition. With an alert and receptive patience, intuition looks only for what it needs to know at
the time. It joins chart symbols to "something in the air," an odd sequence of events, a dream, a fleeting thought, or an off-hand remark that brings a convergence of
messages.
Working from intuition in cycle after Moon cycle, our sensitivity grows, even as our expectation for certainty declines.Our own rhythm comes into greater harmony
with the Moon's. We sense the temporal difference between an aspect that waxes or wanes. We recognize, for example, that there's a different kind of tension at the
First Quarter Moon than at the Last Quarter. Like a beachcomber who stands eyes shut in the waves, we can feel whether the tide is coming in or going away. We
intuit when

it's time to build our sandcastle... or pack a message in a bottle and fling it seaward.
We start making sandcastles at the First Quarter Moon. This is the midpoint of the Moon's waxing hemi-cycle, a building time. Its crisis brings both the excitement
and threat of taking new action. To succeed, we need to prod ourselves forward, yet be nurturing too.Our project is yet young. It's not the time for completing; rather,
we now lay a foundation, establishing a base of operations that can support our future efforts. Without this work, our revelation at the Full Moon will be
disappointing; many Full Moon misfires can be traced to inaction back here.
The First Quarter can inspire in us the vitality of a child. And it can ignite a child's immaturity. Our insecurities might flare, as can our defenses. Bil Tierney describes
a common First Quarter blunder: "Our typical manner of confronting stress patterns here is through the building of protective blockages, barriers, shells, and shields
(all involving introspective focus) which in themselves, only further jeopardize our attempts to establish lasting inner security."[4]
We talk ourselves out of taking action. We blame someone or something out there. We barricade ourselves against the future, preferring the illusory safety of
familiar cubbies. Opponents may appear in the outer world, but the greater enemy is often our own timidity. Because it draws from so deeply within our psyches, our
First Quarter anxiety is elusive and tough to confront.
I have a policy at the First Quarter Moon: I try to take at least one consciously courageous act. I do something that scares me. As I summon the courage to go
forward, I imagine the lady in the Moon applauding my positive attitude, my instincts for timing, my First Quarter skill. I am cooking the alchemical intention to step
out of my cocoon.Give it a try at the next quarter Moon and see how it feels. Don't stop calling the personnel department until you hear an honest review of your
resume.Be openly vulnerable... confess your love to someone. Write the first sentence of the novel you've been musing about.
Of course this is more of a ritual, a practice; it's like doing finger exercises instead of actually playing Carnegie Hall. In truth, few of us choose the First Quarter
action that's genuinely required for our development. No matter how much we dare ourselves, what we consciously select is often more self-protective than what the
fates serve up. A good rule of thumb: If it feels easy or comfortable, it's probably not much of a forward step.

"At the New Moon and Crescent phases, we might be overwhelmed by the ghosts (habits, thought patterns, family expectations) of our past. At the First Quarter
we're challenged to actively overthrow them and stand on our own two feet."

More likely our challenge will be a surprise. If it's a subtle invitation, or even one more exciting, we may choose not to move, surrendering to the inertia of habit. We
can be luckier sometimes if it arrives as a fight. I remember at one First Quarter Moon watching an interview with tv personality, Joan Lunden. That week she was in
a major battle with the tabloids. She took a quintessentially First Quarter Moon stance: She was furious: "I'm not by nature a fighter," she said. "But there are times in
your life when you have to come out swinging!"
If you find your back against the wall at the First Quarter Moon, bless the wall and whatever put you there. Resistance is critical to the creative process. It's like a
cake pan; without it, our batter runs all over the oven and we don't get much of a cake. Resistance helps to shape our desire, that gooey stuff we've been gathering
from New Moon to Crescent. The more we stir our desire in the prior two phases, the more we seem to magnetize the necessary crisis at the quarter. And if it lands us
in a fight, then our passion for forward movement may finally cook us toward breakthrough.
At the New Moon and Crescent phases, we might be overwhelmed by the ghosts (habits, thought patterns, family expectations) of our past. At the First Quarter we're
challenged to actively overthrow them and stand on our own two feet. This is not a single event that repeats each quarter Moon; it's a process through time. All First
Quarters might draw our past and future needs into conflict, but over time, this meeting will wear many faces. Resistance, controlling our creative agenda, can be one
of them.
In the Grimms' story "The Three Languages," a Swiss count plays the important "cake pan" to his son's developing gifts. Fearing his son is a simpleton, the count
sends the boy to a famous master for a year. At the end of the year, the count asks the boy what he learned. "I know what dogs mean when they bark." The count is
furious! He tries a second renowned teacher in another city, but after another year, the boy has only learned what the birds say.

The language of birds and dogs is more significant to the boy's future than anything his father wants him to learn. Yet if his father didn't arrange for the schooling, the
boy might have never developed his strange and seemingly useless skills. When resistance has its say, when we try to satisfy whatever seems to oppose our growth,
this too is a legitimate First Quarter experience. The unbearability of it can strengthen our powers of discrimination. We become more focused about what we don't
want, as some new competence quietly grows within. Down the road it can repudiate what we're still unhappily trying to please, but not yet.
As the faster moving planet, the Moon at the First Quarter, through its sign and house position in our charts, may signal what new change wants to emerge. The sign
and house position of the Sun may indicate where the weight of the past, our creative resistance, is operating. But if we're reading intuitively, we will always put the
messages emerging from our lives ahead of astrological concepts; it's only when life confuses that it's wise (and great fun!) to consult the chart.
After a third year with a third master teacher, the count's son returns. He's now learned what frogs say when they croak. His desire to develop his gifts and his father's
resistance have strengthened side by side:it is time for the square's release. The furious count orders his son put to death.
At the more powerful First Quarter crises, it may seem our very lives are at stake. The moment comes when it comes: we are challenged to grow or die. We don't
always feel strong or heroic enough to meet it; frequently, we have to surprise ourselves. In the story, the count's servants take pity on the boy and abandon him in the
forest. The boy is unprepared, lost, and confused. These are often the feelings that precede our reorientation.
Of course, as in any good fairy tale, the boy next arrives at a kingdom under the spell of a wicked sorcerer; only someone knowing the language of dogs, birds and
frogs can release it. This is the fruition of all the hard work of the square. Astrologically, this is represented by the second major aspect of the First Quarter: the
waxing trine, when the Moon is 120 degrees ahead of the Sun on the zodiacal wheel. It's the moment when all our skill comes together. Our cake is baked, so to
speak. What might be difficult for others now flows easily for us. The trine is astrology's reward for all our suffering and struggling. It's the triumph of our
development: a fully cooked creative expression.

"At the more powerful First Quarter crises, it may seem our very lives are at stake. The moment comes when it comes: we are challenged to grow or die. We don't
always feel strong or heroic enough to meet it; frequently, we have to surprise ourselves."
If we keep to our discipline of reading aspects as temporal forces, we might conclude that waxing trines in the birth chart have been earned from struggles in a
previous life. Given the difficulties suggested by the aspect following the trine (the waxing sesquiquadrate of the Gibbous Moon phase), we might also conclude that
this gift has its drawbacks. Lovely as it is, a trine has none of the motivation or urgency of the square. Once the struggle to achieve the trine recedes, we're less
inclined to express it in the outer world. We might know exactly what it means when frogs croak, in ten different dialects, but (yawn) who wants to go to the pond
today.
Trines are comfort-loving and prefer the path of least resistance. In the course of a monthly quarter phase, this time brings a wonderful ease and encouragement. We
won't necessarily redeem it every cycle.The First Quarter trine is a temporal window. Whether the curtain is drawn and the window is raised, has everything to do
with the work we've done before.

Passion and action are critical to one's success at the First Quarter. These are Mars words. And if we're consistently having trouble with the First Quarter, we might
look to an afflicted Mars as a possible source. Especially in the charts of those born at the First Quarter Moon, Mars is important. Doers, builders and fighters, First
Quarter Moons need the energy of Mars to help them cleave with whatever conspires to hold them back. This is a lifetime to develop greater discrimination and
strength of will. From their failures they learn more and more about the power of the subconscious and how to defeat it.
Many of the First Quarters in my files have launched their own companies, and of that group, many have started more than one company. It's as though they keep
seeking the experience of beginning, because that's where their real fight takes place. It's the challenge of getting something off the ground. Once an enterprise is
successful and running smoothly, they seem to get bored, and are on the lookout for new territories in which to find their old demons.
If a First Quarter's Mars is poorly placed, however, the struggle to get things off the ground may be a particularly difficult and central theme. A friend of mine, born
at the First Quarter Moon, has such an afflicted Mars: in Scorpio, it's retrograde (turned inward rather than outward), in the twelfth house (difficult to access), and in
an inconjunct aspect with his Sun (implying constant adjustments in fulfilling his will). His dream life is overwhelmed with angry, violent scenes, but in his daily
life, he is gentle and acquiescent, finding it hard to ask for or go after what he wants. He started his own software company and has developed two unique products,
but has had a frustrating time getting these products into users' hands. True to the condition of his Mars, he's felt powerless and victimized many times.
Years ago on a First Quarter Moon, he called me breathless with excitement. The monthly return of one's natal lunation phase, what Rhudyar calls the lunation
birthday, often provokes one's Moon phase issues. "I just took aggressive political action!" he told me. Under the cover of night (twelfth house Mars in Scorpio), he
had torn down a political sign opposing a slow growth measure in a local election. Angry at the overweening power of the developers in his area, he was buoyed by
his bold (albeit illegal) action; he even went out a second time that night to take down more signs.
The next day all of the signs he'd torn down had been replaced (the frustration of a retrograde Mars).He confessed a nearly uncontrollable anger, as though he'd been
erased by the return of the signs. He went out again that night. The irony is that he really was powerless, because he had neglected to register to vote, and so had no
real voice in the election.
The slow growth measure lost, but I am happy to report that at the next First Quarter Moon, he took a positive step. He registered to vote. And in the years since, his
expression of political power has been progressively strengthened and refined. He has published many passionate editorials in the papers. He has joined a political
action group that is making a difference in the world. As I listen to him discuss his new accomplishments, he appears the happiest he's ever been. His First Quarter
square has found its new kingdom.
The Gibbous Moon

The Moon had just entered its Gibbous phase. I started my drive home and tuned in the all news station on the radio. The breaking story was of two horses stranded
in the local foothills. A slow news day perhaps, but it was tense all the same. Walking the horses down the ridge was judged too risky, so plans for a helicopter rescue
had been put into motion. As I reached my turnoff, the helicopter arrived. Minutes later there was another report. The horses were too skittish. Before the helicopter
could pluck them up, it could send rescuers and horses plunging down steep canyon walls.
It was an impossible situation - which is typically Gibbous. This is one of just two Moon phases lacking a nice Sun/Moon aspect, like a sextile or trine.[1] Gibbous
takes us from the tension of the Sun/Moon's waxing sesqui-square (135 degrees) to the discord of their quincunx (150 degrees). Not surprisingly, we often find
ourselves pitched between a rock and a hard place in Gibbous. It's tough to go forward and hard to go back.
Likewise, those born on a Gibbous Moon may have an intimate knowledge of difficulty. They may remember childhood as a particularly troubled time. The tendency
towards a tense Sun/Moon aspect in their charts may say something about a discordant parental relationship, or less tangibly, about their own difficulty in marshaling
emotion and will together. Understandably, some Gibbous Moon individuals become worriers, glass-half-empty people, always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

"'Gibbous' is an astronomical term describing a planetary body that's almost fully lit up. And indeed on Gibbous nights, glancing at the Moon, you'll find a Moon
that's almost full. 'Almost' suggests a transitional time: we're close but not quite there."

Yet the Gibbous phase does have its victories. The stranded horses, for example, did make it down the mountain. Their rescue team, going inch by slippery inch in a
gathering darkness, eventually led them to safety. This hints at why many of those born at the Gibbous Moon develop into gifted problem-solvers, with a gritty
tenacity to see things through. A terrain of difficulty, however it arrives in literal experience, has a tendency to slow things down and focus one's awareness. In tight
spots one learns to see the less obvious solutions. The mind analytically sharpens. Confidence and optimism can build.
"Gibbous" is an astronomical term describing a planetary body that's almost fully lit up. And indeed on Gibbous nights, glancing at the Moon, you'll find a Moon
that's almost full. "Almost" suggests a transitional time: we're close but not quite there. The next phase is the Full Moon, bringing culmination, the revelation of what
we've been building in the waxing cycle. But passing through 3 or 4 days of Gibbous first can test our patience. And it can test the soundness of our creative work. It
may ask us to refine, revise, solve last-minute or impossible problems. It might even seem to block our efforts, so that nothing positive happens until the Full Moon's
moment of unveiling arrives.
The Moon looks lopsided in Gibbous. With a shred of darkness at its uppermost edge, it's what we can't see now that generally gives us most of our trouble. That's
the challenge of the 135 degree sesqui-square launching this phase. This aspect measures our awareness. And it's sneaky. It likes to take small, seemingly

insignificant things to big effect. Whatever mess we find ourselves can seem like an ambush.
This is true whether the aspect falls between Sun and Moon, between planets in the birth chart, or arrives by transit or progression. We are caught unawares. It's like
the Cat in the Hat showing up on our doorstep while mom is away for the day. He looks benign and a little bit fun, says he's got some good games, some new tricks to
show too, and he claims "Your mother won't mind at all if I do." Who could resist? How much trouble could one cat be?
Likely it was one or two such miscalculations that landed those horses onto their slippery ridge. Gibbous Moon and sesqui-square problems usually result from
missteps made earlier in the creative process, from actions taken, decisions made, while innocent of the inevitable consequences. They come to light just so we can
fix them. But tough as sesqui-square situations can feel, we are also free to ignore them. Life usually does go on. This might be why astrologers tend to think of the
sesqui-square as a "minor" aspect.
Sesqui-squares also work to turn our notions of "major" and "minor" inside-out. It's all in how we react to their friction. The strategies we choose, like those of the
three characters in Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat [2], will determine whether the aspect works for us in a big or little way. We can be like the mischievous Cat who creates
his calamities but then makes new games of them. Then there's the overwhelmed boy, helpless against the momentum of a crazy cat in his house. And finally there's
the mother, who's gone into town for the day. How does each handle the story's central tight spot?

"Gibbous Moon and sesqui-square problems usually result from missteps made earlier in the creative process, from actions taken, decisions made, while innocent of
the inevitable consequences. They come to light just so we can fix them."

Mom is completely unaware of the problem. The boy is alternately alarmed and intrigued, but ultimately powerless as his house is trashed by the striped-hat-wearing
Cat. The Cat is nonplussed, yet accepts his culpability. He meets the situation he's wrought with the most creativity. After Thing One and Thing Two run amok
through the halls, tossing cakes, rakes, books and ships, fish and strings, he produces a special vacuum contraption that can pick up all these things. He's inventive.
Ingenuity is a significant result that can emerge from this so-called minor aspect.
But if we're unaware of the sesqui-square, we may not recognize the creative opportunities it brings. For an astrologer, this minor aspect is certainly harder to see than
the so-called majors-conjunctions, squares, oppositions, sextiles and trines. To a moderately experienced astrologer these fairly jump out on the wheel. But the
sesqui-square is more elusive, like a wobble in experience we might want to ignore or pin on something else.
Whether the sesqui-square flares at the Gibbous Moon phase, or flares as a natal aspect or transit in our chart, if we are like mom arriving home and seeing the fish
bowl isn't where it used to be, but we just shake our heads and move on, then it remains a minor event. If we are like the child, observing the chaos swirling around
us, we'll in some way register the energetic potential of the time, though its intensity and our feelings of helplessness might be paralyzing at first. I'll never forget
what my astrology teacher used to say of the sesqui-square, in her impassioned tone of voice: "135 degrees-that's a semi-square on top of a square! Do you think that
feels minor?!"[3]
How does it feel? At the risk of seeming to trivialize this aspect even further, I'll share how 135 degrees feels to me: I stop at the grocery store after work. It's busy. I
size up the registers and make my move. I dart through the crowd, like a thread, easing through the eye of a needle in the hands of an experienced seamstress. I make
it to the shortest line. The customer whose groceries have already been bagged slowly takes out her checkbook. Her pen runs out of ink. The next customer disputes
the price on a package of microwave popcorn and the box boy runs all the way back to the popcorn aisle to check. Then the manager arrives. He instructs the cashier
to temporarily close her register in order to count her twenties. "It'll take just a minute," they smile.
The other check-out lines are now filled with new shoppers. The ones I'd expected to beat, who'd picked the slow lines, are already home, happily enjoying their
dinners. Agitated beyond belief, I ask the gods: "Why is it that whatever line I choose, it's always, I mean always, the longest one!" I consider taking the gun I don't
own and shooting out every light in the store. Crazy? Well... yes!!

"I'll never forget what my astrology teacher used to say of the sesqui-square, in her impassioned tone of voice: '135 degrees-that's a semi-square on top of a square!
Do you think that feels minor?!'"

With sesqui-squares, writes Bil Tierney, "we are apt to react to minor conflicts in an overly forceful manner, which tends to throw situations off-balance or blow them
out of proportion. Here we are easily ruffled, emotionally in flux, and often at odds with an unprecedented turn-about of events out of our control. ... Situations under
this aspect tend to break down or fall apart at the last minute, which leaves us feeling momentarily scattered and disorganized."[4]
This throws new light on our sesqui-square difficulties: perhaps the tough situations it brings feel more calamitous than they really are. We experience a negative
event (recalling the square inside this aspect); it seems unexpected, beyond our control. But it might also be of our own making somehow, seeded by some oversight,
wrong view, or prior miscalculation. This may be harder to recognize, as a big dust cloud of emotion (the semi-square on top of the square) can rise up and obscure
the true cause and real size of our problem. Instead we shake a big frustrated fist at the world.

Tierney correlates the sesqui-square with the fire sign Leo. Its association with fire is unmistakable: we can feel it in our anger! Also Leo-like, our emotional display
is often childish, egotistical. We act from the center of our own little world, refusing to cooperate with things as they are. We're obnoxious and bratty. Forget an
astrologer: maybe we just need a nap!
It's tempting to look the other way when childishness pokes through our adult veneer. Especially when the trigger seems so trivial. We'll let our anger blaze until it
burns itself out. Especially if it's a natal aspect, we'll likely do this again and again, until we finally recognize what is happening. When irritations come during the
monthly Gibbous Moon, or during the three to four years of our progressed Gibbous phase, or when a transiting planet is in a sesqui-square aspect to our chart, we
should take special note and pinch ourselves awake. At these times, whenever a problem pops out of the closet, we have a fresh opportunity to fix something deep.
Like that little edge of Gibbous Moon you just can't see, hiding beneath my checkout-line irritation was a deeper problem with time. This was the darkness that stood
between me and my fullness. An innocent trip to the store could draw out my demons: my impatience, my need to win, to always be on time and ahead of time, even
when I had no particular place to go. How could I learn to go with the flow? I needed some new tricks, new games, some more creativity. I had to shop in a sillier
mood. The day I finally got comfy with being in the slow line was a great one. As the Cat in the Hat might have winked, "Now you will see something new!"
Whatever seems to thwart us with the sesqui-square reveals a major secret we've been keeping from ourselves: a blindspot of confusion and helplessness, lying just
underneath our surface awareness. We get to see how we're yet unschooled, unable to accept life on life's terms. We can use its energy to burn through our
immaturity. We can be more like the Cat in the Hat: wildly creative (Leo). We can laugh at how seriously we've taken ourselves. We can transform our minor event
into a major self-development (also Leo). Big irritations shrink to minor status again.
Perhaps it's not surprising that the bookshelves of people born at the Gibbous Moon are often crammed with self-help and self-development books. The second Sun/
Moon aspect of this phase, the quincunx, also points us toward self-development. Though its energetic style is different from the sesqui-square, it works by way of
tension too. It's frustrating. No matter what we try, desired outcomes seem just out of our reach - until we learn that we ourselves have been sending them away.

"When irritations come during the monthly Gibbous Moon, or during the three to four years of our progressed Gibbous phase, or when a transiting planet is in a
sesqui-square aspect to our chart, we should take special note and pinch ourselves awake. At these times, whenever a problem pops out of the closet, we have a fresh
opportunity to fix something deep."

In the chart of a Gibbous client, the Sun (representing father) and Moon (representing mother) were in a quincunx aspect. She told me that her father used to beat her
mother, which made her hate him. Yet when she and her mother finally ran away, changing their identities so he couldn't track them down, my client re-invented her
father and began to idolize him. Now her mother was to blame. Either way she was miserable. What she wanted, of course, was a safe and happy home, but getting
there took many adjustments and a lot of inner work.
An aspect of 150 degrees, the quincunx brings into relationship planetary energies of incompatible elements and modes. A fire sign is paired with a water sign; earth
is paired with air. A fixed planet must relate to a cardinal one; a mutable planet has to work with a fixed one. The quincunx shows where energies aren't easily
coordinated. There's effort, but it doesn't seem to get us anywhere. We act from one end of the aspect and it creates a wobble at the other end. Situations keep feeling
out of balance. It's like we're being asked to reconcile the irreconcilable. We feel hopeless and drained.
A quincunx generally won't force the crisis a square does, nor bring the confrontation of an opposition. It's more like a hair-pulling puzzle. In a natal chart the
quincunx often points to a nagging problem that runs throughout our life, the one we're never quite able to solve. When a quincunx arrives by transit or progression, it
can start as a small annoyance, then it builds; or everything seems to go wrong at once. It's as though the time had a negative momentum all its own and chasing the
solution only increases our frustrations.

It's like the Cat in the Hat sequel, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. The cat takes a bath in the little boy's house and it leaves a pink ring round the bathtub. Oh no! The
cat wipes the ring with mother's white dress and now the stain has jumped to the dress. Oh no! The cat flicks the stain on the wall. That won't do! Then he wipes the
wall clean with dad's new $10 shoes. On it goes, until the pink stain jumps from the rug, to the bed, to the television, until outside the window, the snowy landscape is
covered with pink spots.
But the cat is a keen problem-solver. He takes off his hat and, one-by-one, reveals a team of allies, 26 progressively smaller cats-in-hats, each named for a letter of
the alphabet. Together they clean up the mess. It's a good description of how we can also respond to our quincunx situations: with the intelligence beneath our own
hats. We must parse our instincts into finer and finer points. We must discriminate among them, becoming more selective in which to use when. Through analysis we
reassemble our discordant energies into a brilliantly coordinated, more productive response.

"With its sesqui-square and quincunx, the Gibbous phase asks a lot from us. But it also promises a lot. If we wonder 'what's going to happen' at this Moon phase, we
may need to brace ourselves for irritations and difficulties. Yet if we approach it as an opportune time for creative action, if we ask 'what can I do,' we'll likely
accomplish great things."

The last and brightest of the Cat's little cats is Cat Z. So small, yet so powerful, he's impossible to see. That may be a good description for the quincunx solution. It's
the intricate answer we never could have reached without all our preceding hard work. Cat Z has something called VOOM-"Voom is so hard to get, you never saw
anything like it, I bet."[5] Voom is ingenuity, what the quincunx wants us to achieve. It's the magic potion mixed by struggling with what doesn't work until we reach
the fine mystical blend that does.
With its sesqui-square and quincunx, the Gibbous phase asks a lot from us. But it also promises a lot. If we wonder "what's going to happen" at this Moon phase, we
may need to brace ourselves for irritations and difficulties. Yet if we approach it as an opportune time for creative action, if we ask "what can I do," we'll likely
accomplish great things. The Gibbous phase presents an exquisite transitional window for strengthening our rickety foundations and smoothing our rough edges.
This is the view in Tibetan astrology. The Tibetans cut the lunation cycle differently, with thirty Moon days of 12 degrees each, instead of our eight phases. The two
Moon days that carry the sesqui-square and the quincunx are both auspicious. On the day of the sesqui-square, writes Philippe Cornu, "This is a day for wisdom." On
the day of the quincunx, "This is a day of speed, clarity, skill and intelligence. Skillful actions are successful."[6]

I remember a Gibbous Moon a few years ago, when three astronauts from the space shuttle Endeavor executed a bold and untried last-minute plan to rescue a satellite
with their gloved hands. It was invention on the fly; in NASA's 31-year history, never had three astronauts been outside a spaceship at one time. Though the operation
required extraordinary delicacy, as the slightest motion might send the fuel in the satellite rocking, they did it admirably. The crew portrayed Gibbous tenacity and
ingenuity at its best.
The best advice with Gibbous is to be ready for the unexpected. And this includes shifting our ideas about what's astrologically major and minor. The truth is that
major transits can bring minor events and vice-versa. When Neptune squared my Mars (a so-called major aspect), the most notable event was that one of my shoe-
straps mysteriously lost its ability to hold its snap. For days I shuffled with halting steps in a broken sandal (Neptune ruling and "dissolving" my shoes, squaring my
Mars' forward motion).
Yet when Saturn transited in a Gibbous relationship to the Sun of one of my clients, moving from the (so-called minor) waxing sesqui-square to the quincunx, she
entered a major period of difficulty. Unhappy where she was working, she had been looking, unsuccessfully, for a new position for months. Then she was laid off.
Interviewing doggedly, and working hard to maintain a positive attitude, she had several promising leads, but still received no offers. She reviewed her resume, she
polished her look, she practiced interviewing techniques. Still nothing. When she came to see me, she was desperate to know what she was doing wrong.
"Gibbous teaches not to push, but to persevere."

It's hard not to personalize such moments. Saturn transits always promote realism. Yet especially in its Gibbous aspects, it can ask that we get realistic about the
rhythms of time. It's not always our moment. I don't think my client was doing anything wrong. It just wasn't time yet. The great flow of unfolding has its temporal
traffic lights. Red lights hold some of us up, while the greens get to go. When things aren't happening for us, maybe it's time for somebody else to have their moment
in the Sun. Or perhaps we need to wait while the rest of the world catches up to us. Or maybe there's no reason at all.
Gibbous teaches not to push, but to persevere. As Saturn pulled away from the quincunx, my client was indeed offered a job-at a higher salary, and with a better title
than she'd originally dreamed of. What's more, during her Gibbous waiting window, she matured. Her capacity for dealing with life on life's terms got eminently
stronger. May it be the same for you!
The Full Moon

I'd been too busy for any metaphysical life, but it was the night of the Full Moon, so I forced myself onto the balcony for a brief ceremony. It was the first time in
days I'd sat quietly with myself. I was surprised to discover how peaceful the night was. A veil of blue-white moonlight fell gently over the patio. A faint odor of
lemon blossoms played somewhat coyly with my senses. I locked my gaze onto the Moon and breathed in deeply. I felt my barriers dissolve. My etheric body
seemed to merge with the night, as though I'd been drawn into an invisible current of Full Moon tide... until... Until I could push it away no longer. Three balconies
away, a dog was yapping. Nonstop.
It was one of those tiny dogs, the kind with a bark so piercing, it goes straight to the center of your forehead like a small, well-placed hatchet. Possessing the stamina
of long distance runners, dogs like this can go on for hours. My mood swung precariously... watching the Moon... trying to ignore the yips and yaps...when my desire
for peace suddenly jumped off its end of the teeter totter and I fell headlong into a whine of persecution, "All I wanted was to honor the Moon, my life is so harried,
can't I have just these few brief moments in peace... poor me, poor..."
And then I got it. The message was as clear as the great round Moon above: Nothing was in my way. The dog was not my opponent, but an ally, bringing
enlightenment. He was a mirror, reflecting the jittering, complaining, insecure, lonely state I'd been denying in myself for weeks. That night I was illuminated: There
could be no outer peace in my life until first there was an inner one.

"Part of insights' mystique is their seemingly sudden and random appearance.Why do insights come when they do?We might be stumbling in the dark for days,
desperate for illumination, yet nothing comes. According to Eastern traditions, the explanation may lie with the Moon."

Likely I saw this once on a bumper sticker. Or read it in one of those daily meditation books. But on this Full Moon it arrived as an insight, meaning I no longer heard
the barking dog once I got it. That sound dissolved. Insights have a power that ideas do not. Ideas are cheap, easy to find. They swirl around us like dust devils.
Insights, however, are sharp and penetrating. They go to the center of situations, illumine our stuck places, propel us toward new actions and perspectives. Insights
pop. They're liberating. And their intensity can nourish us long after the moment they show up.
Part of insights' mystique is their seemingly sudden and random appearance.Why do insights come when they do?We might be stumbling in the dark for days,
desperate for illumination, yet nothing comes. According to Eastern traditions, the explanation may lie with the Moon. My barking-dog insight appeared on the night
of the Full Moon. The Full Moon period itself straddles both day and night - it's not necessary to make reference to the night here. Tibetan lamas and Hindu sages
believe that at certain moments in the lunar cycle, especially at New and Full Moons, energetic doorways can open and receiving insights is easier.
"Lunar gaps" is, what astrologer Michael Erlewine calls them, "regular opportunities, joints in the nick of time, when insights are somehow more possible than at
other times."[1] Lest we start imagining a dramatic tear in the fabric of space/time, where insights rain down like a special effect in some sci fi movie, Erlewine is
quick to point out that the gap he describes is actually a gap "in our particular set of obscurations, our own cloudiness."[2]
The gap opens in our own (normally muddled) mind. It's the Eastern belief that insights appear at certain Moon times because there's a greater likelihood for mental
clarity then. This is why many Eastern religions routinely set these days aside for fasting, meditation, and worship. One of the most auspicious of these lunar times is
the Full Moon.

Years ago when I got the notion to start honoring the Full Moon, I went searching for a vaguely imagined pagan something-or-other, like dancing naked around a
purple lunar maypole.Not surprisingly I never found (even in Southern California!) anywhere this was done. I settled for arranging my crystals in a medicine wheel
in my backyard, lighting incense, sage or candles, and circumambulating it all, maybe holding a positive visualization, something lofty like world peace.But over the
years my rituals acquired a greater and greater simplicity. I now honor the Full Moon with a quiet sit. I head out after sundown and wait for the Moon to come
peeking over the mountains. I sit there watching till the Moon is fully above the mountains.
This slows me down nicely. I head back into the house with a calmer mind, but I don't always bring enlightenment back inside. When I need an insight at the Full
Moon, however, I do what Erlewine advises: I observe. Writes Erlewine, "The word 'observe' is a lot closer to what happens during these lunar gaps.OBSERVE the
nature of the day. OBSERVE your mind at that time.(...) It is while being present - observing these seed times - that the so-called lunar gap can show itself."[3]
This is a fine formula for making the most of the Full Moon: Tune into whatever is happening. By devoting quiet attention to the outer and inner worlds, your mind
can settle and clear. A gap will open in the chatter of conditioned thinking.An insight pops. You see into your situation with new and greater precision. Just as the
Moon is made full with the opposing Sun's light, so you will be illuminated too.
Mist covers the landscape.A Full Moon peers ominously through the clouds. In the distance, a wolf howls. Alone in his room, a man grabs his face in horror. Wolf
hair sprouts from his hands and face, and quickly covers his whole body. His agonized screams convert to throaty growls. Racing into the night on all fours, teeth
bared, he's ready to kill. This was a familiar scene in the horror films I grew up on. Of course I never met a real werewolf. But I often heard it said: the Full Moon
drives people crazy.

Why is it that the Full Moon brings greater clarity to the East, but in the West on Full Moon nights, nurses and cocktail waitresses steel themselves for a wild and
challenging time? In the West it's widely reported that murders, arson, and suicides increase at the Full Moon; also, traffic accidents, domestic violence, fights at
hockey games and prisons; calls to poison centers and admissions to psychiatric hospitals soar. At least that's what people say, although most scientific research has
failed to prove them right. That doesn't deter the believers, who chalk it up to a conspiracy among scientists to deny the obvious, that the Full Moon makes us nuts.
There are a few empirical studies that have successfully proven this belief. They're widely quoted. They're also criticized for lacking proper research controls (one
covered a period where a high percentage of Full Moons fell on weekends, days that also show a high correlation with the reported behaviors). Bottom line, the Full-
Moon-makes-us-crazy statistics can't be replicated. What's more, they often contradict each other, with some studies confirming that Quarter Moons bring the greater
tension. Nonetheless, in a study among students at universities in Florida, Canada, and Hawaii, when queried about the Moon, half agreed that people are strange
when the Moon is full.[4]
Why does the belief in full-Moon crazies persist? Scientists point to the believers. The human mind is irrational and easy to fool, they say.It likes solutions, but
rarely wants to work at them. When something odd occurs it's easy enough to look up and finger the giant lone culprit in the sky. Who can miss the Full Moon -
although when wild, wacky events occur at other times, few seem to notice its absence.
Cognition studies have shown the mind typically seeks to confirm its beliefs and conveniently ignores or discredits contrary evidence. In other words, we believe
what we want to believe. "People don't realize how much trouble they invoke by their own expectations," says psychiatrist Melvin G. Goldzband. "When people take
something like Friday the thirteenth or a Full Moon seriously, and they begin to dread what will happen on those days, trouble results. If you expect trouble to come,
it'll come."[5]

"What's empirically true shows up in research reports.Imaginative truth comes out in rumors, myths and stories.Scientific truths happen to a statistically significant
portion of us. Imaginative truths can capture an equally significant percentage, even though the literal event happened to just a handful of people, or never even
happened at all. Imagination responds more to image than literal incident. And its force can shudder through millions at once."

After years of watching Full Moons, I'm inclined to side with the scientists. Blaming the Moon for bad behavior seems generally unfair. Many Full Moons are
positively lovely. Nor have I killed anyone, gone into a hospital, or even gotten into an accident when the Moon was full. But I'm intrigued by the persistence of the
lunacy rumor. Unlike a scientist, I can allow there are two different kinds of truth: the empirical and the imaginative.
What's empirically true shows up in research reports.Imaginative truth comes out in rumors, myths and stories.Scientific truths happen to a statistically significant
portion of us. Imaginative truths can capture an equally significant percentage, even though the literal event happened to just a handful of people, or never even
happened at all. Imagination responds more to image than literal incident. And its force can shudder through millions at once. Empirical facts we can count, but of
imaginative ones, we need to ask:What does this story serve? What is it trying to tell us?
According to folklore, if you sleep outdoors under a Full Moon, you'll either be attacked by a werewolf or become one.Werewolf stories have appeared everywhere,
in cultures diverse as England, Bavaria, Navajo, and Babylon. Why? A common thread seems to be the human one.As image, werewolves do describe an essential
human conflict - from wild nature we emerged, but into societies we go. What do we do with our wild instincts? How do we quell them to abide peacefully with our
fellows? How do we cope with those who don't?Like the opposing forces of Sun and Moon at Full Moon time, the werewolf evokes at once our desire for the wild
and its repression.
Today this dilemma is as difficult as ever.Cemented, corralled and cowed into our cubicles, or racing hither and yon, it's a wonder we don't hear more breakout
werewolf rumors. But then maybe we do. With our connection to the wild so thinned, we may have simply upgraded the werewolf story, calling it "Full Moon
crazies" rather than a literal turn back to the beast. The Full Moon may evoke strange behaviors when our natural spirit goes too long unrecognized - or when we're
around someone else like that.The more pent up and disconnected we are, the greater our need to erupt from civilized codes.
If my theory is true, then reckless driving, domestic violence and suicide attempts can happen at anytime - not just when the Moon is full (which seems to agree with
the statistics). But perhaps these events hit us more deeply when we see the Full Moon rise, evoking memories of all that we've lost, provoking our yearning to
connect with the wholeness of nature again.

"So here's another formula for honoring the Full Moon: Instead of running from werewolves, become one. Mark your calendar and plan a Full Moon dropout from
your regular routine.Make it a date between just you, your spirit, and the Moon. Surrender fully to your ancient wild self."

So here's another formula for honoring the Full Moon: Instead of running from werewolves, become one. Mark your calendar and plan a Full Moon dropout from
your regular routine.Make it a date between just you, your spirit, and the Moon. Surrender fully to your ancient wild self. I doubt you'll really go crazy.You just
might feel more sane. And if you've got the urge, know that it's quite all right to howl.
A peaceful monk or a howling werewolf: the Full Moon makes sense of them both. There may be no greater emblem for reconciliation and wholeness than the Full
Moon, rising at sunset and setting at dawn, filtering the dark with light. It's the only Moon phase that shines the whole night through. That one side of the planet finds
clarity in the Full Moon and the other sees lunacy simply sings of the moment's astronomy: there is an opposition between Sun and Moon.
The East, with its dharma of contemplation and greater identification with lunar impermanence, does what the Moon does: it reflects. It stills and offers itself to
receive the light of awareness. Insights illumine the inner world.The West, with its dharma of action and greater identification with solar will, does what the Sun
does: it projects. It finds its reflection in the outer world, staring back from a lunar mirror. Western Full Moon insights often come by way of conflict, via a
meaningful meeting with someone other. Either approach might bring enlightenment. Both are routes to resolving the opposition and achieving a wider perspective
on life.

"Resistance to the opposition brings conflicts, instability, resentment, blame, bad timing, stalemates, and a feeling of being pulled in two directions at once. Criticism
or judgements suggest we've become overly identified with one side of the opposition. In a natal chart, one planet's expression may be easier for us than another's, so
we make that other planet (or person who seems to embody it) wrong.And at the Full Moon, we may be standing too much in the Sun, full of ego, unable to relax
into the necessary and more lunar dynamics of give-and-take."

If we meet an "other" on Full Moon nights (or by way of transit or opposition in our natal chart through planets separated by 180 degrees), the encounter will
frequently mirror a neglected or unconscious aspect of ourselves. What we repress or deny in our personalities, what we shove into our own personal darkness, will
often attract its expression in the outer world. The man who thinks he has no anger will meet someone who does. The woman who thinks she is supremely
compassionate will keep finding people who aren't. An astrologer who thinks she's in tune with the lunar vibrations will suddenly hear her own nervous mind in a
yapping dog three balconies away.
Against the sometimes chaotic, sometimes endlessly routine experience of life, oppositions remind us of the need for balance. Whether by natal aspect or transit,
oppositions challenge us to reach compromises between our expectations and reality, to embrace our inner contradictions, to move beyond our experience of a
separate self into an acknowledgement of our unity with the world.They challenge us to realize that sometimes there are two valid and distinctly opposite points of
view. Because life accommodates them, we can and should learn to as well.
Resistance to the opposition brings conflicts, instability, resentment, blame, bad timing, stalemates, and a feeling of being pulled in two directions at once. Criticism
or judgements suggest we've become overly identified with one side of the opposition. In a natal chart, one planet's expression may be easier for us than another's, so
we make that other planet (or person who seems to embody it) wrong.And at the Full Moon, we may be standing too much in the Sun, full of ego, unable to relax
into the necessary and more lunar dynamics of give-and-take. Until we allow ourselves to embrace multiple sides of an issue, there can be no experience of
wholeness. Nothing resolves an opposition like acceptance.

This is a hard truth for me sometimes. Having no planetary oppositions in my chart, it's not natural for me to think this way.Ask the partners I've been with!They'll
tell you that according to Dana, there is only one way to meditate, load a dishwasher or train a dog. I've got the bottom line on raising children, and if I need to do
laundry, the washing machine is suddenly, quite exclusively mine.Those without oppositions tend more towards self-containment than compromise.
Where there's a void in the chart, we attract those who have what we lack.Typically I've been with men whose charts are laced with oppositions. The draw between
us is powerful.Yet on the surface we can both appear pretty uncompromising. My opposition-rich partners are trying to work out a balance between opposing inner
urges.They want things to be fair, but are also afraid of being swept into acquiescence or paralyzed by feelings of dependency.I take a stand, they resist it; we
switch and do it the other way around. Straining and stumbling, we're trying to learn what healthy compromise really is. Perhaps the only real difference between us
is that I end arguments with "I'd be fine by myself," while they conclude "I'd be fine with somebody else"!
Oppositions offer a tantalizing gift of wholeness.But like a wise teacher using skillful means, they lead us first to what stands in our way. So strong has the pressure
of Saturn-and-Pluto's opposition been this past year (in 2001/2002; editor's note), few among us have escaped its confrontation of our limits and obstinacy. Where
this pair of planets has straddled our charts is where our cherished beliefs, like so many World Trade Centers, have been toppled, however traumatically, so that we
might more seriously begin the work toward inner and outer peace. Whatever your politics, the stalemate between the Palestinians and the Israelis, stands as a kind of
global Sabian image of an opposition not worked through.

"The Full Moon can bring achievements, awards and honors too. Particularly at the progressed Full Moon. This is a three-to-four-year period occurring once every
twenty-eight years, when we reap the rewards of our efforts during the preceding fourteen.Luna presides with neutrality over the following axiom:Whatever seeds
we sow at the New Moon, and consciously or unconsciously tend during the waxing hemi-cycle, at the Full Moon we will see what comes of the plant."

Oppositions reveal. Just as Luna on Full Moon nights fully accepts the light of the Sun, so must we accept whatever truths shine toward us. These won't always be
negative. The Full Moon can bring achievements, awards and honors too. Particularly at the progressed Full Moon. This is a three-to-four-year period occurring once
every twenty-eight years, when we reap the rewards of our efforts during the preceding fourteen.Luna presides with neutrality over the following axiom:Whatever
seeds we sow at the New Moon, and consciously or unconsciously tend during the waxing hemi-cycle, at the Full Moon we will see what comes of the plant.
The lunation cycle's climax can bring fulfillment or failure.Either way, life goes on. The Full Moon is also a turning point. It begins the waning hemi-cycle. After the
Sun/Moon opposition, comes the Full Moon period's inconjunct - an aspect of disequilibrium. The waxing inconjunct at the Gibbous phase asks us to make last
minute adjustments and refinements. The Full Moon's inconjunct reminds us that no matter what pinnacles or valleys we've reached, life doesn't stop. Perhaps it's this
awareness that inspires a more philosophical tone during the waning hemi-cycle. We're drawn to build and achieve during the waxing days, but in the waning days
we're moved to review, discard, and perhaps reorient ourselves. It's a more thoughtful,internal time.
Those born at the Full Moon are often pulled between these two orientations. And typically their stress is worked out through relationships.For virtually every Full
Mooner I've known, relationships are a central theme in their lives. Whether it's one key relationship that seems to supply their center of gravity, or a series of
traumatic relationships that gradually matures their understanding, or even a repudiation of relationships to keep themselves sane - negotiating a balance via the
"other" is an important way to reconcile the special lunar energy in their chart.

Achieving wholeness is a weighty birthright.Full Moon babies may instinctively (and perhaps overwhelmingly) feel, to paraphrase Walt Whitman, that they "contain
multitudes."They often have high expectations of themselves, an urge towards greatness, a desire to achieve something significant this lifetime. It's said that Buddha
was born on the Full Moon. His influence has endured for thousands of years. And at the core of his teachings lies an incredible reconciliation of life's myriad
oppositions: all selves, says Buddha, are one. That's a nice thing to contemplate during the next Full Moon.
The Disseminating Moon
I'm convinced that no matter how cynical and world-weary the countenance, a childlike innocence still gambols in our psyche. Each morning it wonders if this is the
day we've been waiting for, when a miracle might buzz our cell phone. As our transits and progressions, then our solar and lunar returns, roll out the printer, it
snatches them up, eager for fantastic news: Oh, a good-looking Venus! Finally, our soul mate arrives! Or maybe a bag of ten-thousand-dollar bills will be left in a
dumpster and a fated breeze will flutter one of the bills into our astonished hand! This innocent self still believes in the reality and democracy of fairy tales. It
imagines that one day Disney just might animate and score our own.
Perhaps nothing inspires its magical thinking more than the Moon. Our innocent thrills to learn how burning a purple skull candle on a waxing Moon can inspire our
grandmother to send a little surprise check. Or how on a waning Moon, with a silver cord, a piece of parchment and some rose oil, we might raise departed spirits,
neutralize our enemies, or relieve ourselves of warts. I cannot testify whether such Moon-timed rituals truly work. But I have learned there is magic in the lunation
cycle. Sadly, its genuine mechanics lie beyond our inner innocent, and initially may seem more like formulas from a high school chemistry text, remote from our
experience, even dull. But their power is real.
Consider the Disseminating Moon, which appears three to four days after the Moon is full. Says lunation expert Dane Rudhyar of this phase, "Form, revealed in a
moment of lucid perception at the 'Full Moon' ... gradually releases its meaning (or significance) as the Moon decreases in light. The waning period of the lunation is
thus a period of growth for the active power of consciousness. Consciousness, once it is formulated, can be shared with others, and thus can actively affect and
transform others."[1]
In the Disseminating phase we work our magic with consciousness, with the power of meaning. After receiving our Full Moon revelation, we absorb its significance
and send it out at this phase, affecting the world, transforming ourselves. Like magic! But maybe this explanation isn't sparkly enough for the inner innocent...

"In the Disseminating phase we work our magic with consciousness, with the power of meaning. After receiving our Full Moon revelation, we absorb its significance
and send it out at this phase, affecting the world, transforming ourselves. Like magic!"

...let me try it another way. The weeks of the waxing Moon, going from New Moon to Full, are like an excited climb up a roller coaster. Anticipatory, sky-facing, we
feel we're heading towards something big. Reaching the Full Moon brings us to that exquisite pause on the highest peak. We see the whole park as we've never seen it
before. The people wandering below are tiny, oblivious; it's like we know something they don't. The car tips downward, sending our heart into our throat. We're
momentarily breathless, our vision blurs. We scream! And the whole park is transformed with our Disseminating call.
Of course the ride we get at the waning Moon depends on our climb during the waxing weeks. We built the track then. Suppose our solar consciousness was strong,
that we knew what we wanted and our efforts were successful. Then we're charged with enthusiasm at the Disseminating phase. We're ready to take our message to a
waiting world, like a preacher infused with the power of her religion.
But what if we didn't use the waxing weeks well? Magic appears nonetheless. We discover the eye of newt and tongue of toad our unconscious was quietly
assembling in the back room. This brew is more lunar, reflective of our habits and hidden choices. And it's potent. Its thrust into consciousness can be quite
energizing, revolutionizing even, driving our waning weeks into greater productivity than an industrious waxing climb.
Because this type of Full Moon insight arrives unexpectedly, there's always a danger that we'll miss or want to turn away from it, like the fungus discovered by
Tamsin, heroine of a contemporary fairy tale by Nicholas Stuart Gray.[2]
Tamsin is picking mushrooms after a particularly wet Full Moon. Thirty snow-white beauties are already in her basket, when she discovers an unusual fungus right at
her feet. Nearly a foot across, it has wavy green edges, a surface dappled with silver rings, an orange spike in its center, and a bright yellow underside. It is throbbing,
like it might be breathing. Incredibly, Tamsin stoops to pick it up.
What grows unrecognized in our psyches can seem interesting at first... until it reveals its sticky familiarity. Tamsin's mushroom is alive, with a nasty personality. He
accuses the girl of trying to steal his beauty and magic by rubbing it off. "But you're ugly!" she cries. "You're a liar!" he retorts. She grabs her basket and marches
across the field. Like a revelation we try to ignore, the fungus won't be stopped. Shrieking and laughing behind her, he warns, "Handle magic, even briefly, you'll
never be the same. From the darkness, from the shadows, somebody will call your name!"
The ugly mushroom is right. A wind from nowhere blows. Day turns suddenly to night. The Moon's face startles Tamsin from a reflecting pool. Then somebody does
call her name. It's a broom, urging her to jump on quickly, to escape the evil witch who's in hot pursuit. Tamsin doesn't believe in witches and wants no part of this.
"Not a chance," the broom replies. "You touched magic you did. And now you're in it, up to your pretty little ears."
When we grab our Full Moon mushroom, the Disseminating phase brings a reckoning. Like Tamsin, we can deny it. We can say that nothing special ever happens to
us and after two weeks we're just the same. But no matter how much our forward-and-backward thinking mind might pretend otherwise, we had power in the
preceding days. We used it somehow, and after two waxing weeks, we're in it up to our ears. At the Disseminating phase, we're gonna get called.
That we're responsible for what shows up is an obvious point. But for the sake of our inner innocent, it's worth belaboring. Whatever happens, it's not the Moon's
fault. Astrology doesn't supply us with a new cast of characters on which to blame our fates. It's like John Frawley's response to the cosmic worry-wart, fearful that
Saturn going across her Ascendant means she's going to have a really tough time.
"No you're not," he counsels. "You're going to have a really tough time because you didn't do your homework/pay your rent/clean your teeth. You can't blame all this
on poor Saturn, who has been plodding around the cosmos minding his own business. His passage over some sensitive point in your natal chart may well mark the
moment when these various unwelcome pigeons come home to roost, but the problems are of your making, not his. Astrology is not a way for abdicating
responsibility for your life."[3]
We might bring this same good sense to our understanding of aspects. When we reach a difficult aspect by transit, it can seem like we're hitting a sudden bad patch,
as though our space-ship had just entered a corridor of asteroids. We're liable to think this way because we study aspects on computer screens and printouts. We see
them as static spots on a map, as places we run into that have good or bad cosmic feng shui.

"Meet somebody born on a Disseminating Moon, hang with them long enough, and at some point, you'll hear them preaching. Their eyes fired with enthusiasm, their
hands gesturing emphatically, their words flowing as though they were god's own Dictaphone."

This view is different from the one we'd get by watching the sky - where the sense of ongoing planetary movement becomes more real, and transits as unfoldings in a
larger cycle - our cycle - makes more sense. Our reading of them improves, not only when we understand they bring what we have sown, but when we increase our
sensitivity to each aspect's position in the cyclic order.
This is particularly clear with the lunation cycle. We can observe its unfolding without turning on a computer. It's also compact enough that we can follow its organic
development without much complication. The New Moon and Full Moon are natural pivots, shifting the momentum from outer orientation and building in the
waxing cycle, to a more inward orientation, a growing consciousness, in the waning cycle. This background changes our experience of the aspects. Though their
geometry is the same, a waxing square will carry a different energy than a waning square.
Launching the Disseminating phase is a waning sesqui-quadrate; the Moon is 135 degrees behind the Sun. This is an uncomfortable aspect, but it's not as tense as the
waxing sesqui-quadrate from the Gibbous Moon days. Consider their respective positions in the cycle. Gibbous comes just before the Full Moon. The waxing
momentum is still building to its Full Moon climax. The frustration of meeting obstacles here often inspires an exaggerated emotional reaction to difficulty-either
overwhelming us into defeat or impelling us to victory. We have to do something in Gibbous, no matter how impatient we feel, no matter how tight the-spot-we're-in
seems.
But it's different after the Full Moon. We had an insight, a "lucid perception." Something like the truth is sitting in our lap. The agitation at the waning sesquiquadrate
is about what to do with our insight. We're moved to say something in the Disseminating phase, even though our message may still be green, not fully cooked. We're
like an initiate walking down the mountain after a peak experience. What was so lucid at the summit, begins to dissolve, lose its clarity. In our very grasping to get it
back, it starts to mutate, so that what we end up saying may not be what the gods intended for us at all.

"Disseminators are the culture's natural-born storytellers and teachers. The thoughtful re-telling of their experience helps the collective to reorganize itself, to re-
inspire its mission. To some degree this is desired from all of us at this Moon phase."

Both the waxing and waning sesqui-quadrates can inspire an exaggerated emotional response. This often manifests in the waning aspect as "the preacher's zeal." Meet
somebody born on a Disseminating Moon, hang with them long enough, and at some point, you'll hear them preaching. Their eyes fired with enthusiasm, their hands
gesturing emphatically, their words flowing as though they were god's own Dictaphone. A Disseminator speaking, writing, painting or photographing a subject about
which they have some knowledge and passion is a treat to behold.
Disseminators are the culture's natural-born storytellers and teachers. The thoughtful re-telling of their experience helps the collective to reorganize itself, to re-
inspire its mission. To some degree this is desired from all of us at this Moon phase. The personal intersects the tribal-social on the Disseminating days. Like the
broom pulling Tamsin into adventure, the world calls. It wants our participation. It wants the magic of cyclic renewal through fresh meaning.
Then there's the shadow expression of this Moon phase (there's always a shadow expression). Sometimes all we get is noise. I remember one Disseminating Moon
when I first saw what is now a familiar scene: In front of an abortion clinic, a car with a pregnant passenger was moving slowly through a strident crowd. People on
both sides of the abortion debate were shouting their slogans, as they thrust fliers and pamphlets through small cracks in the windows on either side of the car. The
pregnant passenger was in tears.
Whether we're born at the Disseminating phase, or just passing through it by transit or progression, we may at times feel the urge to foist our thoughts on an
unsuspecting world. But it's wise to remember that the real work of this phase is to bring ourselves to greater consciousness. In Disseminating, we're adjusting from
the outer orientation of the waxing Moon and turning ourselves progressively inward. Like the Full Moon opposition which precedes it, the waning sesqui-quadrate
can misfire into conflict and projection. If we find our message falls on deaf ears, if we hear ourselves complaining that people are too stupid or too defensive to
listen, we may be projecting our own inability to absorb the truth. If we're feeling overly pushy, likely we're Disseminating too soon.

The waning sesqui-quadrate is an aspect of reckoning, less with others, than with ourselves. We're asked to think about our condition; why we are where we are
instead of where we want to be; what we stand for; what we've learned; how we might to contribute to the world. That's what all the tension is for - it can bring a
cleansing. When viewed introspectively, our Disseminating struggles can help clear away obscurations that might otherwise inhibit our consciousness from greater
expansion in the coming phases.
After the sesquiquadrate comes the waning trine, with the Moon 120 degrees behind the Sun. Trines bring ease. They're stress releasing. As Bil Tierney writes, "The
trine is an aspect of relaxation, peace, harmonious reception, and pleasurable response."[4]
We get to reap the beneficial conditions that we've worked for. The waning trine suggests an easy flow of inspiration and idealism as we share our blessings with
others. It inclines toward collective channels of expression.
This is different in quality from the waxing trine, which follows the Sun-Moon square in the First Quarter phase. The waxing trine is more "creatively self-
expressive, pleasure-oriented, and somewhat exhibitionistic" writes Tierney.[5] Following the challenge and fight of the square, at the waxing trine we may feel
confident and full of ourselves, momentarily buoyed that our battle is over. Of course, things will change, as the cycle continues, and the waxing sesquiquadrate kicks
in.
Keeping the aspects straight may seem complicated at first. And that's the trouble with trying to reach for the Moon with theories. So many people are fascinated by
the Moon and eager to learn more about it - instinctively they recognize its importance. When they hear the theory of the lunation cycle there's a momentary
satisfaction - yes it does mean something! But typically this understanding falls away, and the Moon becomes no more part of their lives than before.

"Whether we're born at the Disseminating phase, or just passing through it by transit or progression, we may at times feel the urge to foist our thoughts on an
unsuspecting world. But it's wise to remember that the real work of this phase is to bring ourselves to greater consciousness. In Disseminating, we're adjusting from
the outer orientation of the waxing Moon and turning ourselves progressively inward."

Working with students in my monthly Twelve Moon workshops, I've been privileged to see a different thing happening. Our emphasis is on observation, on sensing,
on recording the natural flow of our own experience. Lunar theory is kept secondary, like a dog that must be kept on its leash. Sensing the Moon leads to an exciting
discovery: the lunation cycle is real! Our lives flow with it. This happens, and has always been happening, without our mental participation. It's organic. In cycle after
cycle, our desires, frustrations, meetings, revelations, move in rhythm with the Moon.
That we haven't noticed this before is understandable. The events and feelings that synchronize to the Moon are mostly familiar, ordinary ones. The Moon governs
daily life. Unhappily for our inner innocent, fantastic turns of luck or misfortune occur as often with the Moon as they do in daily life: rarely. Yet if we are to believe
most spiritual traditions, it's the day-to-day decisions and reactions that are most critical, not our once-in-a-lifetime promotions or lottery wins. It is from daily acts
and thoughts that our fates are engineered. From them, we take the spiritual measure of our life. A cycle that keeps us trained on this daily business - goading us into
small forward steps or holding us back for reflection - is precious.
Much in contemporary life works against this lunar rhythm. In order to catch its subtlety in action, we must be willing to slow down and bring awareness to it. Here
Moon theories can help to gently train our attention, though ultimately the Moon is more accessible by feeling, intuition, or bodily sensation than by concept. I've
heard from lunar gardeners that chemically treated plants don't profit from Moon signs and phases as well as organic ones do. It may be the same for us, confused as
we are by so many influences and distractions. Yet the Moon is in our nature. Working closely with it assures that we'll draw closer to a natural way of being.
But there are problems with the Moon. Precision of timing is one of them. As my friend, natural time expert Samten Williams says, "The impulse often precedes the
Moon." Sometimes we can sense ourselves to be in a particular Moon phase before it actually arrives.
History provides a fine example. Paul Revere's ride is a marvelous image for the Disseminating Moon - when a silversmith, in just a few hours, with a just few words
("The British are coming!") mustered a whole countryside to arms. Disseminating power was strong that night: drums were beating, church bells ringing. By
morning, unsuspecting British troops marched straight into a savage, well-organized fight. Revere started his ride just before midnight on April 18, 1775. The Moon
did not shift into the Disseminating phase until five am on the 19th, when Revere was reaching his last few towns.
Technically Revere's ride was a Full Moon event, not a Disseminating one. News of a British invasion certainly fits our expectation of a Full Moon revelation. On the
afternoon of the 18th, a stable boy overheard a British officer and took this story to Revere. But Revere clearly disseminated it, as did those who heard him. Their
news spread like wildfire. So which Moon phase should we use to characterize this famous ride?
Observing the pear orchards around my house this year, I noticed a smattering of trees began their blooming in advance of the rest. Was their blossoming any less an
impulse of Spring than that of their fellows who waited more properly for the calendar? As G. K. Chesterton wrote, "The real trouble with this world of ours is not
that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite. Life is not an
illogicality; yet it is a trap for logicians. It looks a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness
lies in wait." [6]
I've often encountered this wildness with the Moon. But this is not a license to get fuzzy with cusps and orbs. It doesn't give us permission to say "The computer
indicates you were born on a Full Moon, but you feel more like a Disseminator to me, so that's what we'll call you." When we perform the ritual of reading a chart,
we're working with precise information and definite astrology rules. We need to stick with proper aspects and traditions. But in the flow of our daily life, moving in
tune with the Moon, we need to act when the impulse is strong. We shouldn't wait for a lunar calendar to decide our moment.
The Revere story gives us another problem. In The Tipping Point[7], a study in the dynamics of bright ideas and why some spread to epidemic proportions, author
Malcolm Gladwell points out a little known fact: Revere had a partner. A tanner named William Dawes rode that night too, under the same Moon, through as many
towns, across as many miles as Revere. But he didn't set the countryside on fire. One of the larger towns he rode through organized such a meager resistance, for
years historians mistakenly thought it was pro-British when it wasn't. The truth is that although Dawes carried the same message, presumably had the same passion,
to an audience that was just as interested, he simply wasn't as successful as Revere in Disseminating the news.

"When we perform the ritual of reading a chart, we're working with precise information and definite astrology rules. We need to stick with proper aspects and
traditions. But in the flow of our daily life, moving in tune with the Moon, we need to act when the impulse is strong. We shouldn't wait for a lunar calendar to decide
our moment."

Gladwell's point is that for an idea to spread like an epidemic, it must have several elements going for it, including someone personable and socially connected
enough to spread it. Revere was a much better salesman. We use similar logic in astrology, that natal charts describe our differing potentials, and that significant
events never come from just one factor. Picking the right Moon phase alone won't make us successful. (I would tell you to cover your inner innocent's ears, but I
doubt she's listening anyway.)
A sound astrology principle is that transits and progressions (Moon phases too) won't bring what's not promised in a natal chart. I have birth dates but not times for
Revere and Dawes.[8] Neither was born on a Disseminating Moon, but we can get an approximate sense of where they were in the progressed lunation cycle by
giving each a noon birth time. We might think we're on to something when we discover that Revere was in or approaching his progressed Disseminating phase, while
Dawes was in his progressed New Moon. And it is interesting. One's progressed lunation phase can favor a heightened performance during the monthly transit of that
phase.
Still it wouldn't explain everything. Progressed lunation phases are an exciting influence, but someone with a debilitated Mercury or an introverted temperament will
likely never become a Paul Revere, no matter how many Disseminating Moons they ride out on during their progressed Disseminating phase. Yet something
appropriate to the individual and to the phase will happen. This person will disseminate, but the mystery, the wildness, is specifically how that will occur. This is
what keeps me continually excited and fascinated by the phases of the Moon, eager to write and talk about them with a preacher's zeal.
All right, I can confess it now: I was born on a Disseminating Moon!
Moon Watching series (8) by Dana Gerhardt
The Last Quarter Moon

The Quarter Moons remind me of how clumsy I was as a girl. I skinned my knees at roller skating. I had a hard time keeping my balance while learning to ride a bike.
I could fall just by walking on a sidewalk, when for no reason at all, my ankles would suddenly give way. My body, it seemed, often misread the situation, moving
out of rhythm with the surrounding world. Even now, at the Quarter Moons, when situations are inherently wobbly, I am often that girl again, misreading the
moment, gawky and out of step with the surrounding whirl.
Quarters neither buoy us with the fresh-start feel of a New Moon, nor do they dazzle us with Full-Moon-style illuminations. At the First and Last Quarter Moons,
we're at a half-way point in the waxing and waning hemi-cycles. The Moon is half-lit, which means the Sun and Moon are at right angles, in the astrological
relationship known as a "square". This is no resting place. Squares mean change - or you'll fall out of rhythm with a turning world.
You can see why I might feel wobbly. Like most people, I like the idea of gowth. But my nerve falters at the reality of change. And that's what the Quarter Moons
have taken as their territory. They shift tempo on us, marking the moment for more challenging steps. Stumbling at the new beat, we can find ourselves suddenly
down on the path, our psychic knees skinned.
I do my fair share of this. Over the past year, I've gone from an urban corporate world to a self-employed country life. I moved from my California dream home into
my partner's Oregon house, the one with questionable feng shui, the one he bought with his ex. Yes, it's surrounded by pear orchards, has gorgeous views, and my
dog can now chase cows, but it's different. Shopping, cooking, cleaning and sleeping with a man is different. And having three sudden children to step-parent, along
with my son, is definitely alien. Everywhere I turn, there's new ground; especially at the Quarters, the ground is shaking. Dane Rudhyar calls Quarter Moons "crisis"
times.

"Moon phases help us decide our wise next steps. Whatever occurs at the Quarter Moons, we're invited to see it as two forces in conflict. Something wants to move;
something else resists. This tension seeks its release in change, involving struggle, or assertive and decisive action."

When I first began Moon watching, it seemed more logical to look for lunar influence in the outer world instead of the inner. I made a study of it. During the cycles I
observed, Last Quarter Moons fell on weekends. On the following Mondays there were reports of near-record weekend murder tolls in my county, close to the
numbers reached during the LA riots.
I found similarly disturbing events at First Quarter Moons - violent fights, high-speed chases, bomb threats, crashing cars, trains or planes. I wasn't surprised by what
I observed. I expected to see traumatic events when the Sun and Moon were square. Squares bring conflict, tension and collision. And there it was, right on TV.
I lost my enthusiasm for correlating Moon phases with world and local events when I noticed the nightly news was happy to report murders, bomb threats and car
chases at any and all Moon phases. I now consider my early research specious. I found what I was expecting to see. To prove that Quarter Moons bring a more
volatile, dangerous world, one must don the neutral hat of a statistician, record a fixed set of traumatic events across all Moon phases, then observe whether they
indeed spike at the Quarter Moons.
In the world of statistics, what doesn't happen is just as significant as what does. Therefore, a well-designed study would also account for all the quiet citizens who
refrain from violence at the Quarter Moons. If the Moon's influence is really there, why doesn't it inspire all of us to grab a hammer and start breaking windows?
I'm not a statistician by nature. And it seems that many of my fellow astrologers are in the same boat. A few scientific souls have attempted Moon phase correlations,
but none of the results have proven conclusive.[1] Until they are, we should move cautiously before pronouncing which events each Moon phase will bring.

So what do we make of Sun-Moon squares? Increasingly, I've found it more realistic, and valuable, to see the lunation cycle not as cause for events but as context for
understanding them. Here astrology takes us into the invisible world, a place where most astrologers feel quite at home. We're invited to understand process and
motivation rather than calibrate outer results. We're also free to apply this information to anyone who needs it, not just those who react in the expected ways. It offers
a perspective that can make otherwise inscrutable or seemingly random twists of fate more meaningful. Moon phases help us decide our wise next steps.
Whatever occurs at the Quarter Moons, we're invited to see it as two forces in conflict. Something wants to move; something else resists. This tension seeks its
release in change, involving struggle, or assertive and decisive action. Forces in square don't work together easily. One blocks or thwarts the other; the other must
reorient its direction to get what it wants. Squares bring stress-and a potent thrust of energy that makes necessary changes possible.
What changes are favored is indicated by whether the square waxes or wanes. During the waxing square of the First Quarter we're motivated to build, to achieve a
new structure. We're attuned to problems in the outer world, something that requires us to take new action. During the Last Quarter's waning square, we're prompted
to find a new direction. The "something wrong" is generally inside, the change required a mental adjustment, some shift in our thinking, our intentions, or beliefs.
Rudhyar called the waxing square a "crisis in action" and the waning square a "crisis in consciousness".
If we don't like the sound of the word "crisis," we might be soothed by what astrologer Sylvia Carroll says about squares: "The square does not feel unpleasant unless
the energy backs up on you. Tension here can feel exhilarating as long as it is flowing in action and not dammed up. It is only frustrating when you have no outlets to
apply the tension."[2]
Finding proper outlets is particularly tricky with the Last Quarter phase. Case in point: an inner city shooting during one Last Quarter Moon was against a 19-year-
old woman in a wheelchair. The reason? Her assailant was lost-an apt enough metaphor for a crisis in consciousness. He stopped her for directions, yet when she
couldn't help him, he shot her. We tend to drag the outer world into our inner quagmires all the time, particularly at the Last Quarter.

"Our perception needs cleansing at the Last Quarter. Our field is clogged with residue from our growth cycle. A less inward and thoughtful period, the waxing Moon
drags in its wake immoderate desires, faulty judgements, misguided ambitions. Having been so attuned to the outer world, we may have behaved in ways that won us
social approval, but took us away from our innermost selves. 'Is that all there is?' we may find ourselves asking. The underlying desire is to reconnect with our
essence."

My favorite image for the Last Quarter Moon is the "solo spinout". You know, the lone car discovered upside-down or flipped on its side by the edge of the road with
no evidence of collision. The crushed car bleeds with mystery. What happened, we wonder... What threw the driver onto his brakes, what wrenched the steering
wheel out of his hands? There is a recognition, rising against our naive hope that the roads we drive will always be safe, straight and smooth: the soul drives an
invisible road, that can, when you least expect it, suddenly diverge from the public one. And so it is with the Last Quarter, out of nowhere we can find ourselves
unhappy, even desperate, turned upside-down, with no clear reason why.
Something inside wants to redirect us, to change our course at the Last Quarter Moon. That's the tension. We can move willingly in the new direction or pull back.
During a spinout, most people instinctively slam on the brakes and steer against the spin. But experts advise the opposite: Don't brake. Turn into the spin. So it is with
the momentum of the waning cycle. Things are changing. Go with it.
At the Last Quarter we're closer to the coming New Moon than we are to the New Moon that launched the current cycle. Whatever it was we were trying to build in
the waxing weeks, we've either already accomplished or gotten new information that can alter our future course. But the future isn't here yet. This is a transitional
time. There is something more to do before the new cycle arrives. Often the work is about letting go. Letting go of unhelpful people, places or things, misguided
dreams, attitudes or behaviors-whatever it is that holds us back.
Few people like being advised to let go. As a counseling astrologer, this is the moment I feel as if I'm offering a spoonful of castor oil, "C'mon, this is good for you! It
will make you feel lighter, less encumbered, more alert and awake! Release that thing and you'll be stronger!" This isn't undreamed-of news, but nobody likes it
much. After all, we only hear it when we're still holding on.

"Your spirit needs to follow the changes happening / in the spacious place it knows about," writes Rumi.[3] "There, the scene is always new, a clairvoyant river of
picturing, more beautiful than any on earth." We're between worlds at the Last Quarter. There's the earthy one that's falling away-and the possible one that's
beckoning, brighter and more beautiful, if only we'd make room for it. When we don't, cautions Rumi, the world grows full of people who display our problems, "As
one thinks the room is spinning/ when he's whirling around." Thieves see only thieves, hopelessness finds more hopelessness, truth keeps evading liars.
Our perception needs cleansing at the Last Quarter. Our field is clogged with residue from our growth cycle. A less inward and thoughtful period, the waxing Moon
drags in its wake immoderate desires, faulty judgements, misguided ambitions. Having been so attuned to the outer world, we may have behaved in ways that won us
social approval, but took us away from our innermost selves. "Is that all there is?" we may find ourselves asking. The underlying desire is to reconnect with our
essence. In burning away the unfortunate by-products of the waxing period, we create an earth-bound version of that spacious place our spirit knows. We gift
ourselves with the required room to start over at the next New Moon.
We must "essentialize" in the Last Quarter, drawing closer to our core. This is, as Sylvia Carroll recommended, a positive outlet for the square's stress. Cleaving to
our spirit is a more exhilarating project than just letting go. Scrubbing away what doesn't suit us feels good. This approach is particularly comforting during the long
three-to-four years of a progressed Last Quarter period. We're moving on. Of course this psychic renewal is also worth doing monthly at every Last Quarter phase,
whatever longer progression we're in.

"Last Quarter Moons are society's pivot team, helping us see the dead cultural structures that need to be torn down, while pointing to the brave new worlds that lie
just around the corner. They're born revolutionaries, at odds with any empty authority. Last Quarters enter their progressed New Moon before the age of fifteen. And
so, younger than those born in all phases but Balsamic, they see the world with perhaps fresher eyes, are inspired to abandon social norms, and know their own minds
before many of their peers know theirs. They're ahead of the curve."

Doing this requires trust. And so the Moon patiently models for us how cycles work. She acquires light and form, then she relinquishes it. She builds, she lets go, and,
renewed, she builds again. Cycles are fluid, ever-changing and natural - unlike the standard date-boxes on our calendars. When we follow the Moon, we eventually
sense each cycle as an animal in the wild senses time, as circumstances that favor - or block - this or that activity. When we surrender to this flow, we may seem
particularly content or even lucky to others, but all we're doing is harmonizing with the nature of time. Whenever we find ourselves in a situation that has grown past
benefit, we can apply the lessons of the Last Quarter Moon. Caught in an economy on the downturn, for example, we can nonetheless feel ready and purposeful,
given what the Moon has taught us to do: We can simplify our lives to what matters. We can scrub off the excess. We can let our spirit go less encumbered to that
beautiful picture ahead of us.
During one Last Quarter Moon, Linn called. She'd just had a terrible argument with her mother. With Pluto in her (maternal) 10th house and ruling her Ascendant,
Linn has had many power struggles with her mom - over her appearance, over her sexual preference (Linn is gay), over what she's doing with her life, over whether
she loves her mother enough. Linn was sexually abused as a child and had recently revealed this. At first Linn's mom was sympathetic, but during their recent
argument, she did exactly what Linn had always feared: she blamed Linn, not the perpetrators, for the abuse.
Issues tend to erupt at the appropriate lunar phase. Even before looking for transits or progressions in a natal chart, considering the phase in the lunation cycle when a
client calls can help plot our way through the event. Given this crisis came at the Last Quarter, was it time for Linn to be assertive, to press through the conflict and
try to get her mother to understand her, like she'd been trying to do for years?
My advice, it turned out, was the same as her therapist's. The Last Quarter is a time for letting go, for bringing your life in line with what you deeply know to be true.
Linn needed to acknowledge that although she deserved better from her mother, she was probably never going to get it. It was time to release that fantasy and admit
the truth of their relationship. It was painful, but doing so freed up psychic energy, made space for renewal and empowerment. The ghost of her mother's disapproval
had been haunting Linn for most of her life. This Last Quarter Moon brought a powerful opportunity to exorcise it.
Linn was born in the Last Quarter phase. Last Quarter Moons are society's pivot team, helping us see the dead cultural structures that need to be torn down, while
pointing to the brave new worlds that lie just around the corner. They're born revolutionaries, at odds with any empty authority. Last Quarters enter their progressed
New Moon before the age of fifteen. And so, younger than those born in all phases but Balsamic, they see the world with perhaps fresher eyes, are inspired to
abandon social norms, and know their own minds before many of their peers know theirs. They're ahead of the curve. Little wonder that alienation also runs strong in
them.
Inflexibility is the blessing and curse of Last Quarter births. Rudhyar calls them "seeds" of the future order. "Seeds are very tough on the surface, and their main
external attribute is unalterability. They are built on the principle of bare necessity and uncompromising self-perpetuating strength."[4] This steely determination is
useful when you see a green future while the world is still painted brown, but it may not make you popular. As mythologist Joseph Campbell suggested, sometimes
"'What will they think of me?' must be put aside for bliss."[5]
This is a tricky point. Whether we're born at the Last Quarter, or find ourselves in this phase by progression or transit, it's wise to submit our inflexibility to a healthy
self-interrogation. Are we holding on to a compelling truth - or to a habit that no longer serves? Are we responding to a visionary call, firm as seeds, or merely
resisting change?

"Cycles keep returning us to familiar ground, so we might be newly creative there. We're given plenty chances to change. Particularly during life periods when we
might make great leaps forward, it's wise to mark the Quarter Moons. These are the turnstiles to changes we claim we want to make."

You may have heard the story of the devout believer caught in a flood. She was convinced God would save her. She ignored the state trooper advising evacuation,
waved away a rowboat and a helicopter, sure of God's aid. She eventually died, and was more than a little peeved when she arrived in heaven. "Why didn't you save
me?" God replied, "I sent you a trooper, a rowboat and a helicopter!" It was a solo spinout. Her belief in God needed reorientation and expansion. Resisting that, she
drove towards death instead of her next New Moon.
Cycles keep returning us to familiar ground, so we might be newly creative there. We're given plenty chances to change. Particularly during life periods when we
might make great leaps forward, it's wise to mark the Quarter Moons. These are the turnstiles to changes we claim we want to make. I've watched the Quarters plenty
in the past year, noting each time how the struggle between my resistance and future-leaning is going. It hasn't been easy. But I've discovered some guiding principles
that seem to help (though I suspect in the coming year I'll have to find a few more). In the meantime, as one pilgrim to another, I'll leave what I've found so far with
you.
Quarter Moon changes are almost never what you think they'll be. Forget whatever bright changes you planned to make. They're likely a thinly disguised version of
what you've already been doing. And if you thought the Moon wanted to change somebody else instead, discard that expectation too. Rather, when you're facing
something extremely uncomfortable, that's not at all what the you-that-you-thought-you-knew would ever have done, then: Surprise! That's the step you need to take.

Quarter Moon changes rarely arrive as dramatic events. They're sly that way. They don't show up with a marching band, blowing horns and beating drums. They slip
soft as moonlight into our lives, changing the tempo through more subtle means. Look for their new rhythm in uncooperative or critical people, things not working
out, things that make you feel lonely, angry or sad. It's easy to miss these moments as personal change timers. That's why most of us just feel itchy at the Quarters and
wonder why the same problems keep happening to us again and again.
Quarter Moons bring two choices: act or refrain. It's simple. You've either got to do something you've never done before or stop doing something you've always done.
The general lunar rule is that you should take new action at the First Quarter and you should stop and rethink your moves at the Last Quarter. But since we're
discussing change, don't get too comfortable with general rules.
Make friends with your resistance and fear. Maurice Sendak has a wonderful story about a boy with a monster in his bedroom closet. At night the boy drags his
dresser in front of the closet door, gathers up his army men, his guns, his stuffed animals and his flashlights. Then he quakes in his vigil, night after night, until
exhausted, he finally opens the closet door. The monster roars weakly, then whimpers. Trembling, he crawls into the boy's bed; after that, everyone gets a good
night's sleep. Whenever we need to change, there are monsters of resistance and fear in our closets too. Say hello. Get to know them. Bring them into bed with you
until they fall asleep. Their power to halt your growth will disappear. And your Quarter Moons will be gloriously productive
Moon Watching series (9) by Dana Gerhardt
The Balsamic Moon

Remember having a particularly exhausting day, and that night, how good it felt to turn off the lights and drop your weary body into bed, sloughing off the chattering
thoughts? Remember how good it felt next morning, waking up refreshed and renewed, your problems shrunk to their rightful size, your optimism and hope grown
larger? As the final phase in the lunation cycle, the Balsamic Moon is the monthly "sleep time". During the three to four days of this phase, vitality and spirit are
replenished, fueling your start at the next New Moon. Few neglect their nightly sleep, though most take no advantage of this cyclic rest. Yet, if you could observe just
one Moon phase per cycle, this should be the one.
Balsamic begins with the waning Sun/Moon semi-square. The Moon is a slim Crescent, forty-five degrees behind the Sun. Moonrise comes in the pre-dawn hours,
when most of us are sound asleep, in the theater of our most vivid dreams. Right brain processes are at their peak this phase, having gathered momentum since the
Full Moon. Instinct and intuition are high. Rest is imperative. Even during waking hours, we work in Balsamic much as we do in dreamtime, when the subconscious
sorts and catalogues our experience, when it struggles against or integrates conflicting impulses, clearing our residue of feelings, receiving messages of guidance.
Our physical energy is necessarily as low as our psychic energy is high. We're at a threshold, ending one cycle while anticipating a new one round the corner. We
might want to get into motion, but our bodies are tired. Our clarity and focus wane, like the Balsamic Moon herself, rising thinner and fainter each morning until she
eventually disappears altogether, lost in the Sun's glare. This is the Dark Moon. Much of the time we won't know whether we're finishing up or leaning toward the
future, whether we're being truly psychic or simply dreaming - which is why this is a better period for introspection than for action. Without the dormancy of winter,
spring's (or the New Moon's) seeds cannot mature.
If this liminal stage sounds disconcerting, imagine what it means to be born during a Balsamic Moon, poised for a lifetime between endings and beginnings.
According to my Balsamic-born friend, astrologer Maria Maggi, "It's hard for us Balsamic types to see the details of manifestation, since we're so busy helping
everyone through the deep tremors of letting go. My whole life I have always arrived at the party, the job, the relationship, the neighborhood, the Ph.D. program,
whatever, just as it was on the brink of some irreversible transition. I used to think "Why me?" But now I just dig in and help other people who are freaking out to see
the big picture. Or sometimes I just ride the wave, always curious to see what it'll feel like to land on the beach."

"Balsamic begins with the waning Sun/Moon semi-square. The Moon is a slim Crescent, forty-five degrees behind the Sun. Moonrise comes in the pre-dawn hours,
when most of us are sound asleep, in the theater of our most vivid dreams. Right brain processes are at their peak this phase, having gathered momentum since the
Full Moon. Instinct and intuition are high. Rest is imperative. Even during waking hours, we work in Balsamic much as we do in dreamtime, when the subconscious
sorts and catalogues our experience, when it struggles against or integrates conflicting impulses, clearing our residue of feelings, receiving messages of guidance."

Some astrologers suggest that Balsamic births are a karmic "finishing up" lifetime, for bringing to a close unfinished business from prior incarnations. Whatever
Moon phase we're born under, we share an imperative to deal with past karma, to right wrong imprints left by a string of past lives. But I'm intrigued by what lunation
expert Demetra George has said about Balsamics in this regard. She suggests they frequently go through a series of intense, short-lived relationships. These are
rendezvous with past life partners, with whom the karmic scales need balancing. Once this occurs, however neatly or mysteriously, the relationship can dissolve, as
suddenly as it began.
I've quizzed my Balsamic friends and clients, and many have indeed experienced this pattern. Of course their next (usually plaintive) question is "Does that mean I
can't have any long-term relationships?" I assure them I know Balsamics in long-term relationships, too. It would seem the lessons of releasing, hollowing out and
making one's peace with the past can come from many contexts - as can the power to create new and better futures, after the letting go is done.
Balsamics have a strong future-orientation. They're often ahead of the curve, like the kid doing slick skateboard tricks long before Tony Hawk made it popular. This
doesn't mean Balsamics know what's going to happen. In fact they're usually more confused than the rest about where they're headed. Well-meaning astrologers
might want to help with inspiring crystal-ball work. But this in effect subverts the mysterious process of Dark Moon births.
Balsamic instincts are likely better than any astrologer's. But instead of naming the future, these individuals need to live it, feeling their way as they go. Ask a
Balsamic how they accomplished their life's greatest changes, and they'll usually say "It just happened" or "I fell into it." They ride the wave until they land on the
beach. There's nothing passive to this approach. Rather it's a deeper form of intelligence, about which reason doesn't know much.
How does this intelligence work? We might get a clue from a recent research study.[1] Participants were asked to predict the weather in a computer-simulated world,
based on a combination of cues. After 50 attempts with feedback on their accuracy, subjects were to determine whether a particular trio of signs predicted rain or
shine. Researchers designed it so the predictions were lawful, but by probability functions so complex, even the smartest individual couldn't deduce it by logic alone.
Nonetheless, most subjects were able to get it right 70 percent of the time. None could explain how they did it. They "just knew", developing a sense or feel for the
scenarios, and solving a puzzle beyond the limits of ordinary thought.
Balsamic intelligence may work likewise. If Balsamics are indeed "old souls", wrapping up loose ends from many lives, they may hold such an impressive databank
of past-life experience in subconscious memory, that it guides them well, though in ways they cannot name. Or harder to rationalize, but perhaps no less plausible, is
how their proximity to the future gives them a keener sense of it, so they instinctively make decisions or attract opportunities that lead in the right direction. Whether
it's a past intelligence or a future one, or both, Balsamics have a gift for working in the dark.
Artists can work this way, too. As Justin Spring writes about the art of painting, "...I think it's impossible not to get some sort of form if you don't think about it. If
you do think about it, you can get chaos. But if you don't think about it, you get form."[2] This is the secret formula for Balsamic days. To bring form to the next
Moon cycle, one must not think - or do - too much during the Dark Moon. Rather: rest and dream. Let intuition lead. The reward is a renewal of creativity, as sure as
Sunrise.
"When will it end?" is everybody's first question on learning they've entered a progressed Balsamic phase. No matter how colorfully I paint its virtues, they peer
beyond to a bleaker landscape, to a three-to-four-year sentence of all loss and no gain. I can see it in their eyes: I'm suddenly the witch, abducting their Rapunzel
dreams to a door-less, ladder-less tower where they can grow nothing but hair. I tell them this is the richest spiritual time. I tell them when my own progressed
Balsamic phase was over, I had nostalgia for it. I cheer: "You will too!" But it's a tough sell.
Doing Balsamic goes against the cultural grain. We're afraid of loss. Anything but endless upward growth appears unfortunate. The downward arc of cycles is
difficult. Yet fearing Balsamic means shunning the medicine that can make us well. This Moon phase brings a profound initiation into cyclic intelligence, like the
menstrual huts or Moon lodges of long ago, when women would bleed on the dark of the Moon and withdraw from the tribe's daily business. In the womb of the
lodge they surrendered to visions, renewing their powers, returning to their tribe inspired, with a renewed capacity to inspire others. Of course in our day,
menstruation is often called "the curse". And so it seems for the Balsamic phase.
Both the menstrual and Moon cycles regulate creativity. A menstruating girl is being initiated into her feminine creative power, the capacity to give birth. Likewise,
the Dark Moon makes possible our future creating. If we return to hapless Rapunzel, isolated in her tower at the menstruating age of twelve, we'll find her story offers
insights into both these cyclic mysteries. Whenever a fairy tale begins, as this one does, with a barren couple, we're sure to learn some secrets about how to make
things grow.

In the story, a childless couple lives next door to a powerful witch, who's very much feared. Her garden, however, is unimaginably lush, with sweet peas, sunflowers,
string beans and rapunzel, a delicate white lettuce that tastes like walnuts. The wife develops such a craving for this lettuce, her husband steals a handful, then some
more. The witch is waiting for him. "One theft begets another. Take all the rapunzel you want. But I'll take the child your wife doesn't know is growing, even now, in
her womb."
The first rule is obvious: stay in your own garden, no matter how barren it seems. When creativity goes underground, but desire still flourishes, we may want to steal
away, into a more enticing, exciting world. People in a progressed Balsamic phase are often plagued by listlessness. They have no juicy plans to work on. They claim
they've lost interest in everything. They may hunger for a sweet taste from somebody else's garden. But to turn away from their own ground compromises a deeper
desire - for the birth that's not yet seen, but is mysteriously on its way.
Recently I took a train trip along the Pacific coast. I was struck by the vivid difference in houses along the tracks. Many were neat, freshly painted, with lush gardens
in full bloom. Many had yards full of junk, rusted wheelbarrows, broken window screens. Others were abandoned altogether. Looking out my sleeper car window, I
saw the Balsamic Moon, a luminescent sickle in the pre-dawn sky. Maybe it was her influence that led to my next thought: what made the abundant homes so lush
was not their caretakers' relentless drive towards growth. Rather it was a more rounded wisdom, which included knowing when to slow down and let go, when to
cease acquiring and nourish what is there.

"Doing Balsamic goes against the cultural grain. We're afraid of loss. Anything but endless upward growth appears unfortunate. The downward arc of cycles is
difficult. Yet fearing Balsamic means shunning the medicine that can make us well. This Moon phase brings a profound initiation into cyclic intelligence, like the
menstrual huts or Moon lodges of long ago, when women would bleed on the dark of the Moon and withdraw from the tribe's daily business."

Without this knowledge, life exhausts itself and can't go on. Leading to things abandoned, overgrown, beyond use, falling apart. Far from lacking ambition, I
supposed the owners of the wrecked, deserted homes had had too much. They tired themselves out. They didn't know, as the witch does, the secret of the Dark Moon.
To desire all the time is unnatural.
The witch simply makes things right. The mother must clean up her past; Rapunzel is renewal held in waiting. Monthly, a menstruating woman sheds the uterine
lining meant to nourish the egg released at last ovulation. A parallel practice for the monthly Dark Moon is to likewise go through drawers and closets and throw
away what's no longer needed, challenging one's attachments, making room for a new self to grow. Grief can arise - from discarding an old pair of shoes, a sweater
bought on sale and never worn. Harder still is reckoning with past mistakes, lost hopes, love that never materialized. We need to feel the pain. Frozen grief is energy
the body will keep locked up, to manifest as disease, accelerating death. The ground may seem bleak, but we're making a newly fertile field. We're growing our
patience. Courage too.
However difficult, there's something attractive in this work. Ideas and new enthusiasms often rush in, like the prince who can't keep his hands off Rapunzel, so
delicious in her forest tower. They secretly meet, again and again. The witch finds out: "It's a dreamy time - but you've gone too far!" She chops off Rapunzel's hair
and banishes the pregnant girl to the desert. The prince leaps from Rapunzel's tower in grief, blinding himself on a patch of brambles. They'll meet again - only after
they've done much mournful wandering.
Their fate carries an admonition: ignore cycles at your peril. Do things at the wrong time and everything takes longer. I've known friends and clients who refused to
honor their progressed Balsamic phase. "Slow down? I have too much to do!" Then quite unexpectedly, they contracted a serious illness, or got into a car accident,
which forced them to halt and do nothing for awhile. This is just the witch, making things right.
Witches are typically hated in fairy tales. This is how people with magical powers are often regarded, like the tribal sorcerers, petitioned for treatments during the
day, and rumored to undo their healing spells by night. Wise ones often live away from the people they cure, in the heart of the forest. They live close to nature's
rhythms, at a necessary distance from the social world. Their mystique says more about our ignorance. In modern parlance, the wise old woman has been stigmatized
as a withered "old bag", but it's the same old fear of the witch. "The hardest thing about growing old," my post-menopausal friend tells me, "is that no one looks at me
anymore. When I walk through Wal-Mart, it's like I've disappeared."

The phases of the Moon are often linked to phases in a woman's life. The waning Moons, especially the Balsamic period, belong to the Old Woman, or Crone. We
should revere rather than disappear her. She no longer sheds her blood, but contains her power within. She has more time for herself, something to treasure. Free from
all the responsibilities of her child-bearing years, she can now choose who, and when, she wants to nurture. Her wisdom and experience are gifts, if only we'd listen.
What does the Crone want to teach? What did she tell Rapunzel every day, after climbing up the tower on her hair? No version of the tale I've ever read reveals much
about that scene. I suspect it's for the same reason many spiritual traditions don't publish all their esoterica. The highest teachings must be delivered one-to-one, from
master to student in a secret place. We must be properly initiated. And what is told to one student might be different than what is told to another. Part of every
wisdom journey is necessarily personal.
After going through my own progressed Balsamic phase I can see the logic in keeping its teachings a mystery. It was a profound experience, but it sounds strange to
speak it, almost trivial. It's like those stories of initiates seeking out enlightened masters, climbing up mountains, enduring incredible hardships, only to reach the
master's cave and hear "Life is about washing your socks every night."
What did I learn during my own Balsamic phase? I learned the deep value of staying in bed with the covers drawn over my head. I learned to conduct my errands in
inefficient ways, taking ridiculous routes that somehow made everything flow more smoothly. I learned by moving at a slower pace my old self unraveled more
quickly. I can see why a good storyteller might leave out what Rapunzel learned from the Crone!
It's some years later; I'm now in my progressed First Quarter phase. Like Rapunzel who's done with her wandering, now raising her children and cooking for her
prince, what I once understood has gotten out of focus. Perhaps I'll get it back when I'm a Crone myself. But during my progressed Balsamic phase it was somehow
easier to be present in the moment, to perceive the sacred in little things. I never learned this from my own grandmothers. Both of them died before I was five. Like
many others, I must find my Crones where I can, and such occasions are rare. Maybe that's why the following brief encounter, on a Balsamic Moon, still lingers in
my memory.

"I've often wished I had a Crone to teach me about the phases of the Moon. I've found a few facts in books, but it's taken years for my senses to catch up with their
sentences. I'll share some of what I've read, though it may seem trivial, like that Zen saying, "Chop wood, carry water." According to the old Zen parable, this is what
we do before enlightenment. And it's what we do after."

I was at a large, open-air fruit stand, at the cherry bin, picking my cherries in a Virgo rising way, discriminating between them one by one, when I became aware of a
grandmother with her granddaughter. The old woman had wild white hair that had perhaps been combed with a broom. She wore a dress with giant flowers across her
ample hips and belly. She had taken her granddaughter's hand in her own and was saying, "This way. Grab a bunch, but loosely, then shake your hand back and forth
- you see, only the ripe ones stay in your hand." I tried it. It worked. Only the most luscious, ripest cherries remained. Not only did I want to follow this pair all over
the fruit stand to learn more, but tears welled in my eyes.
I've often wished I had a Crone to teach me about the phases of the Moon. I've found a few facts in books, but it's taken years for my senses to catch up with their
sentences. I'll share some of what I've read, though it may seem trivial, like that Zen saying, "Chop wood, carry water." According to the old Zen parable, this is what
we do before enlightenment. And it's what we do after. In other words: enlightenment is no big deal. The Moon might likewise wink down at us.
At the waning Moon: Chop wood. Literally. Logs that won't burn are filled with sap - and have been cut at the wrong Moontime. When the Moon wanes, life force
goes underground, into the roots, into the earth. Sap descends. The wood in trees is drier then, good for burning. Fruits are less juicy, not as tasty to eat, but good for
canning (they won't spoil as quickly). Your body is also dry, retaining less fluid. It's a good time for detoxing. So: Carry water. And drink it!
According to gardening wisdom, during the waning Moon the earth withdraws, taking energy into herself, away from above ground things. After the New Moon
she'll begin her long exhale, sending energy outward, to strengthen all growing things. But now she goes inward, balancing out-breath with in-breath. To follow her
rhythm, we should bring our projects to completion after the Full Moon and avoid starting new ones until the next cycle begins.
I've already said we should rest on the Dark Moon. But generally we don't. Which is why an astrologer friend has dubbed this the "whining" Moon. When isn't there a
project that calls to us? What are we supposed to do with ourselves when it's not the time to build and grow? How do we cease our restless striving?
We could start by recognizing there are some things we don't want to grow. Mow your lawn on a Balsamic Moon and it won't grow back so fast. The same applies to
weeds and fingernails. If you want your haircut to last, schedule your appointments at the waning Moon; your hair will grow back more slowly. Also trim your trees
and bushes. Because their sap is low, the plants will lose less energy. Surgeries will be less traumatic too, less blood loss; healing will accelerate once the New Moon
arrives.
I think the waning Moon chose the morning sky for good reason. From there she can watch over how we start our day - when we most need the encouragement to
mind what's going on. Chop wood, she says, carry water. Clean out a junk drawer, a corner of your garage. Find yourself in the quiet details. Go inward. And take
care.
Moon Watching series (10) by Dana Gerhardt
Odds and Ends

I was a literature major in college, which meant reading more books than I could handle. I had a boyfriend. Hanging out with Steve and his buddies, smoking pot,
playing pinball, listening to Pink Floyd, quarrelling and making up - this consumed a lot of my time. Luckily I solved my reading problem - with a strategy so
successful, I graduated phi beta kappa and magna cum laude with departmental honors. My secret? I learned that studying one page well was smarter than struggling
through an entire book. Whether a novel was 250 or 500 pages, if I read a single chapter, page, or even paragraph with great sensitivity, I could tease out the relevant
themes of the full text - and write a pretty decent paper at two am on the day it was due.
Taking the easy way out isn't exactly why, early on, I concentrated my astrology studies on the Moon. It's just that the more I looked at Luna, the more I recalled my
college discovery, how within a single facet of any creative work, whether War and Peace, an impressionist painting, our solar system, or the galaxy, the whole
cosmos might be read. Nature is economical. Or, like us, she gets a tune in her head and can't let go of it, singing its notes into new venues again and again. This is
the testimony of fractals - the way geometric structures repeat themselves on any scale they're examined. Holograms too reveal how everything is enfolded into
everything else, how throughout any system, the whole is captured in its smallest parts.
Look deeply at the Moon and you'll find more than the Moon. You'll find yourself and all the planets. You'll discover a rhythm that has permeated earth's life forms
since the earliest cells washed ashore in the primordial high tides twice a day, or since the earliest animals fit their activities to the monthly round between Full Moon
light and New Moon dark. You'll discover patterns of birth, growth and decay, patterns that spiral throughout your chart, past, present and future. Know the Moon
and you'll know a lot. In this final installment of the Moon Watching series, we'll look at a few more secrets Moon phases can tell.

"Whether we move instinctively to the lunar rhythm, or must choose to synchronize ourselves with free will, if we want a broader support for our activities, it makes
sense to keep Luna in mind. She offers temporal windows for beginnings and endings, and for everything in between. She is the consummate teacher of process."

There's a worm in the coral reefs of the South Pacific, called the palolo worm, considered a delicacy by Samoan natives. From October through November, palolo
worms swarm and swim to the surface on the nights of the Last Quarter Moon, a happy fact for natives who know the worms' lunar regularity. Countless species -
both animal and plant, in the oceans, in the sky, on land - respond to the Moon.[1] A nocturnal bird, the European nightjar, also favors the Last Quarter, regularly
laying its eggs at this phase. Its babies then hatch at the waxing Moon, when all growing things are strengthened, and feeding is easier in the increasing moonlight.
Would that all life were so predictable as the palolo worm or that our own activities could be so neatly timed as the nightjar's. It's widely believed that human
behavior also responds to the Moon, but so far, statistical verification lags behind this belief. We're left to debate and wonder if the Moon really lies in our blood.
Whether we move instinctively to the lunar rhythm, or must choose to synchronize ourselves with free will, if we want a broader support for our activities, it makes
sense to keep Luna in mind. She offers temporal windows for beginnings and endings, and for everything in between. She is the consummate teacher of process.
During the two weeks of the waxing Moon, Luna's light is increasing. She's building form. This is the time to start projects. From New Moon to Full Moon, outer-
directed activity is favored. Bring ideas into form. Give them a tangible presence in the outer world. From Full Moon to New Moon, the Moon's light is decreasing.
She's losing form. This is the time to let go. Review, release, retire, prepare for the next new cycle. Introspection is favored. Conflicts and challenges are largely
internal.
This is the lunar rhythm understood by gardeners. Growth-promoting activities - planting and fertilizing - are scheduled for the waxing Moon. Cutting, weeding, and
pruning are reserved for the waning Moon. Gardeners know that the waxing Moon energizes flowers and leaves, what appears above ground, while the waning Moon
nourishes roots. But who has time to garden these days? We're too busy dropping the kids off at daycare, writing emails, holding meetings, flying to Portland, buying
new cars. How can the Moon help our lives?

Knowing the eight different phases of the Moon can help fine-tune the waxing/waning rhythm. Posting an item for sale on Ebay? This may be better launched at the
waning cycle, especially in the Disseminating phase. Planning a party or an important business meeting? Choose one of the four more social phases: New, Crescent,
Full or Disseminating. Going to the dentist for a root canal? Schedule this for the Balsamic Moon if you can; there will be less blood loss and recuperation will be
supported by the waxing Moon. Dying your hair? Choose the Full Moon when your hair will better absorb the new tint.
Each of the eight Moon phases has its qualities. But before we get carried away planning our lives to the Moon, we should remember that phases aren't identical from
month to month. The New Moon is a good time for beginnings. But each New Moon is in a different sign - and in a different aspect relationship to the other planets.
A friend once launched her job search at the New Moon. She sent out dozens of resumes and was disappointed when she didn't get a single reply. That particular New
Moon (i.e., the Sun-Moon conjunction) was squared by Neptune. Likely her resumes "disappeared" in various secretarial hands. They never got to the people who
needed to see them. Or perhaps she'd been unclear about who she was sending them to. It may have been more fruitful to wait until the First Quarter to take action,
using the New Moon to instead clarify her intent, or perhaps make her initial contacts metaphysically, on the astral plane.
Chronobiologists Endres & Schad make an important point about natural rhythms: they're not nearly so predictable as the relentless beat of the mechanical world.[2]
Because machines are designed to produce standard products, their rhythms are repetitive, repeating the same actions in the same way every time. Natural rhythms,
like the recurring phases of the Moon, take place in a living context. Their repeated appearances are similar, but never the same - they're a live performance, not a
recording. And in live performances, there's always the potential for missed notes, shifts in tempo, interruptions, surprise. First Quarter Moons may be generally
auspicious for flexing our warrior strength. This doesn't mean all our punches will land whenever this phase arrives.

"Have you noticed how people are often depressed before their birthday? The pre-birthday blues is a common complaint which cycles make new sense of. A month
and a half before your birthday, the transiting Sun is in a Balsamic relationship to your natal Sun. Your vitality goes underground. It may feel like a 'mini-death', and
what's appropriate is to retreat from the world and rest - the same advice given for the monthly Dark Moon phase."

Moon phases can't protect us from the vicissitudes of life. We could perhaps hedge our bets by poring over dozens of charts, evaluating the appropriateness of a
Moon phase against our personal context of transits, progressions, the solar return - or the global context offered by mundane charts. Of course this is something
neither the nightjar nor the palolo worm needs to do. Nor, I think, do we. The most important thing I ever learned about Moon phases - and it took me years to learn -
was that it's better to intuit them than to plan or think too much.
The Moon rules instinct and intuition, not our intellect. She transfers her rhythm to us through our bodies. We sense what's right to do when. People with a gift for
timing show up in the right place at the right time intuitively. If we don't have this natural gift, working with Moon phases can strengthen our instincts, as long as
we're also willing to improvise. The Moon is cyclic and changeable. She's more a teacher of process and presence than a mechanical clock. Each time we cycle back
to a certain Moon phase, we should ask: How do I feel? What's the same this time? What's different? What's right to do now? This is the best way to time our lives to
the Moon - with a willingness to fall in love with every moment, discerning the opportunity in every phase of our lives.
Rarely are big accomplishments achieved in a single month. They usually take more time. Yet the Moon's monthly practice in creativity is highly transferable
knowledge. The monthly cycle can prepare you to meet all kinds of astrological weather. If, for example, you have a good understanding of the Gibbous between-a-
rock-and-a-hard-place Moon phase, you'll recognize the conditions of this time - and know what to do with it - whenever it's served up. If you tend to have trouble
with each Gibbous Moon phase, at least you'll know what you're personally up against.
Your chart might indicate a transiting planet is sesquiquadrate or inconjunct a natal planet, or your progressed Sun and Moon may be in Gibbous phase. But if your
senses are alert, you won't need to look at the chart. You'll feel the frustration in your body, as unforeseen troubles conspire to halt your forward movement. What
should you do? Analyze the situation, incorporate outer feedback, compromise and adjust, while patiently holding your focus. Remember this stalemate won't last
forever; the Full Moon's turning point will eventually arrive. But what you learn during Gibbous may be priceless and necessary, making your Full Moon realization
grander than you initially dreamed.
Knowing Moon phases is particularly useful for navigating planetary cycles - when Jupiter transits your natal Jupiter, for example, or the transiting Sun aspects your
birth Sun. Have you noticed how people are often depressed before their birthday? The pre-birthday blues is a common complaint which cycles make new sense of. A
month and a half before your birthday, the transiting Sun is in a Balsamic relationship to your natal Sun. Your vitality goes underground. It may feel like a "mini-
death", and what's appropriate is to retreat from the world and rest - the same advice given for the monthly Dark Moon phase. After your birthday, when the Sun
conjuncts your natal Sun, your life force returns. Your outlook is more expansive as you enter your Sun's New Moon phase, or the start of your personal new year.
Particularly productive is working with phases in the Mars cycle. Mars represents our desire nature and the internal fire to accomplish what we want. It's the go-getter
in our chart. Mars circles the zodiac every two to two-and-a-half years - a decent timeframe for achieving worthwhile ambitions. Directing this cycle towards goals
works well. If you're reading charts, the Mars cycle is a quick and easy indicator for the types of actions your clients
may be, or may need to be, taking, whatever the situation slower-moving planets bring by transit. The Mars phase often shows what someone is capable of doing
about a particular issue at the time.
So how does this work? When transiting Mars conjuncts your natal Mars, you've entered your Mars "New Moon" period. It's time to explore new possibilities.
Venture out and experiment with self-expanding activities. When transiting Mars semi-squares your natal Mars, or moves 45 degrees ahead of the conjunction,
you've entered your Mars "Crescent" period. It's time to anchor your ambitions. Focus your energy on what you can realistically accomplish and gather support for
your plans. Beware of lethargy during this phase. A goal is most vulnerable the moment after it's declared. That's when habit and conditioned thinking take over.
When transiting Mars squares natal Mars, you're at the Mars "First Quarter" phase. Opponents may appear. Meet your obstacles head-on and take active steps to
carve your new reality. Anger can be a motivating force.
You've entered the Mars "Gibbous" phase when transiting Mars moves 135 degrees ahead of your natal Mars, the waxing sesquiquadrate aspect. Expect to make
adjustments or endure a wait, but hang in there, because this is the phase just prior to fulfillment. When Mars opposes your natal Mars, you're at the Full Moon of the
Mars cycle. It's the time of illumination. The fruits of your first year's efforts are revealed. Watch the tendency to project - that is to hang your failure or fulfillment on
somebody else. You'll do best if you take responsibility for what you see.
At Mars' waning sesquiquadrate to natal Mars, you're at the "Disseminating" phase. Start actively promoting yourself or sharing what you've learned. Begin
converting activity into the wisdom of experience. At transiting Mars' waning square, you're in the "Last Quarter" phase. Actively cut from your life what no longer
suits you. Bring your deeds in line with your basic values. You're in the Mars "Balsamic" phase when transiting Mars is 45 degrees behind your natal Mars, the
waning semi-square. The activity in this phase is mostly non-activity. Behave as the Buddha advises: "Don't just do something, stand there!" Release, rest, and
prepare for your next Mars cycle to begin.
The same phase intelligence can be brought to transits. Consider an opposition from transiting Saturn to natal Venus as a Full Moon phase.[3] What you see is the
fruition of a seed planted 14 years earlier when Saturn conjoined your Venus, this pair's New Moon, launching a new cycle of pleasure and responsibility. And if
you're old enough, this Saturn opposition may reprise the themes from your last Saturn/Venus Full Moon, occurring about twenty-eight years earlier. Time always
moves forward. It doesn't just return. But the same energy that gave birth to you and me also moves the stars, the planets, and the Moon. There are similarities
therefore in every cycle, all transits, each moment. This is what I mean when I say "know the Moon and you'll know much more than the Moon." You'll understand
the varied layers of time.

"Dane Rudhyar believed that as an integration of Sun and Moon, the natal lunation phase could tell far more about an individual than either of those lights alone.
Instead of trading Sun signs at cocktail parties or Starbucks, we might do better to share natal Moon phases. The birth Moon phase describes a fundamental
orientation."

Dane Rudhyar believed that as an integration of Sun and Moon, the natal lunation phase could tell far more about an individual than either of those lights alone.
Instead of trading Sun signs at cocktail parties or Starbucks, we might do better to share natal Moon phases.[4] The birth Moon phase describes a fundamental
orientation. It surprises me that astrologers rarely consider the lunation phase in synastry (evaluating the potential success or failure of a relationship through birth
chart affinities). In both business and romantic partnerships, people are basically working towards a common goal. Compatible Moon phases can go a long way
towards sustaining a good marriage or keeping business partners together through tough times.
Throughout this series we've looked at personality characteristics of the eight lunation types. I won't repeat those characterizations here. But perhaps the simplest test
for Moon phase affinity is whether someone was born during the waxing or waning half of the cycle. The waxing hemi-cycle favors action. Its urge is to build - to
have a visible impact in the outer world. The waning hemi-cycle favors introspection. Its urge is to ponder the meaning of actions or to re-think existing structures.
Moon phases divide the world into two types: those who act and those who think.
Of course this is a simplistic distinction. Any human has to both think and do. What we're really getting at is someone's primary motivation, what yanks them out of
bed each morning and drives them forward year after year. Waxing births are here to create forms. Waning births are here to question and transform what already
exists. Understanding this can help you penetrate to the heart of the matter with anyone, whatever else is going on in their chart.
Consider two architects - one born at the waxing Moon, the other at the waning. Both will design buildings. But the one born at the waxing Moon will take the
greatest delight in seeing her architectural plans realized, bringing something into existence that didn't exist before, leaving behind a tangible legacy of structures.
That's the spark that will keep her going. The waning Moon architect will more likely be enthralled with the concepts of architecture, perhaps challenging old ideas of
design, coming up with new visions. Both will have to meet with clients, sit at a drafting table and visit onsite contractors, but the parts of this work each enjoys will
be different.
I once worked with five astrology aficionados who had started a computer consulting firm together. The chart for their business launch was shaky - and before the
first year was up, three of the original partners had quit. The split occurred along natal Moon phase lines. The three who abandoned the firm were waning births, all
Disseminators. The two who remained were waxing births, both First Quarters. The Disseminators had left over philosophical differences, taking their abundant
enthusiasms elsewhere. The First Quarters were the ones who'd actually made the business happen. They'd gotten the space, the equipment, printed up the business
cards. The First Quarters kept the consulting firm going for awhile, but as is the way of First Quarters, they needed to keep building. They folded the first business
and started another soon after.
Notice how often cliques in your workplace or among friends collect along Moon phase lines. Of course sharing a natal lunation phase creates a certain affinity, but
it's not the only ingredient for a successful relationship. It can also mean that the weaknesses of a particular lunation type are doubled. If two individuals born on
opposite halves of the lunation cycle have respect for each other's strengths and differences, they can complement each other well. I love the progressed lunation
cycle.[5] I wouldn't do an astrology reading without it. In ten years of selling Moonprints reports, many of the "Wow's" I've received have come from people whose
personal mysteries were explained by this cycle. I've discussed progressed Moon phases in previous installments of this series. Many astrologers work with them -
but rarely do astrologers discuss their value in understanding the Saturn return. Saturn and the progressed Sun-Moon cycle go around the chart at the same rate,
returning to their natal positions every 28 years. When unmet desires rear up at the Saturn return, they will often have their roots in the natal Moon phase.
Brian came to me on his first Saturn return. With his natal Saturn in his second house, we talked of course about money and career. He'd recently gotten a promotion
with a good-sized raise. It seemed like he was experiencing a happy Saturn return, reaping professional rewards for past efforts. But people don't usually come for
readings because life is going well. Something else was going on.
Brian's crisis was that he desperately wanted to get married - certainly a reflection of Saturn's urge toward greater maturity and commitment. But his girlfriend was
pulling back. He told me that his relationship life had always been more important than his work life and now he was miserable. Curiously, his chart had an
abundance of "freedom" signatures: a Sagittarius Ascendant and a stellium in Aquarius opposing a 9th House Moon conjunct Uranus. Does that sound like someone
desperate for a commitment? No way. In fact there was only one thing in his chart that indicated this desperation about relationships. He was a Full Moon baby. His
progressed Full Moon return held the astrological key to his dilemma.
Full Moon types often attract partners to play out their shadow selves. When Brian and I looked at how there was a part of him that still craved freedom, it took some
of the sting out of his girlfriend's rejection. As a Full Moon baby, learning lessons through relationships would be a constant theme in Brian's life. Through the lens of
his progressed Full Moon return, he was able to momentarily, at least, achieve the balanced perspective that Full Moon births so deeply desire.

And I, of course, was grateful for the Moon - which provided the strongest clue to his needs at the time. Once again, that old strategy paid off: Read one page - or
planet - well and tease out the meanings of the full text. This is the last article in my Moon Watching series, but my love for the Moon - and I hope yours now too -
will go on and on.
1 To determine the phase relationship between transiting planets and natal planets, consider your birth planet as stationary, and the transiting planet as
initiating the cycle from their conjunction. If your natal planet is at 15 Scorpio, a transiting planet between 15 Scorpio and 14 Taurus would be in a waxing phase
relationship (New, Crescent, First Quarter, or Gibbous). From 15 Taurus to 14 Scorpio, it would be in a waning phase relationship (Full, Disseminating, Last Quarter,
or Balsamic). To determine the precise phase, purchasing an "Aspect Finder" from your local metaphysical bookstore can be quite helpful in the beginning.
2 To find out which Moon phase someone was born under, look at the aspect relationship between their Sun and Moon. Again, if you're confused, plotting
this out with an Aspect Finder is quite helpful. Always consider the slower-moving body as your starting point - in this case, the Sun - and then see how far ahead the
faster moving body lies - in this case, the Moon.
3 Secondary progressions take the planetary movements of each day after your birth and project that out to a year of your life. What the planets looked like
30 days after your birth will be the same picture the secondary progressed planets will make in your thirtieth year of life. So considering the formula that a day is
equal to a year, if each Moon phases is approximately three to four days in duration, each progressed Moon phase will be in effect for approximately three to four
years. To calculate the progressed lunation phase, be sure you look at the aspect relationship between the progressed Sun and the progressed Moon.