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Western Astrology Articles by Julene Packer-Louis
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The Sol - Luna Dance
The phases of the moon do not relate solely to the moon. They represent the cyclic relationship between both Sun and Moon. The moon shines due to the reflection of the light of the Sun upon her surface based on their angular relationship.
The Moon represents our emotional inner nature; it contains the memories of our soul. The Sun represents our outer creative ego-conscious nature; it exhibits the will of our spirit. The dance between the two represents the dance between our inner and outer self. The Moon Phase you were born under tells a lot about your personality.
The Moon is the faster mover, so it is she that determines the aspect to the Sun and the phase of their relationship. The major phases, the new moon, 1st quarter moon, full moon, and 3rd quarter moon represent the conjunction, waxing square, opposition and waning square. These occur at 90 degree intervals. The intermediate phases occur at the 8th harmonic aspects. The crescent, gibbous, disseminating, and balsamic phases are the waxing semi-square, waxing sesquiquadrate, waning sesquiquadrate, and waning semi-square respectively. Thus each phase lasts for 45 degrees.
Because the Sun is also moving, the phases do not occur at the same degree of a different sign. The Moon must move ahead a few degrees from her original conjunction degree to catch the Sun and form the next aspect. The phase relationship between the two is called the synodic cycle, and 29.5 days pass between one New Moon and the next. It takes the moon 27.32 days to make a complete 360 degree trek around the zodiac and return to her original position. The lunar return is called the sidereal cycle. The synodic cycle (the phases) is longer because the Moon has to catch the Sun, after she returns to her original position of the previous new Moon. (The image below is from Keppler software by Cosmic Patterns.)
The Symbolic Meaning of the Moon Phases
The New Moon begins when the Moon conjuncts the Sun. The Moon is dark, which is symbolic of subjectivity. This is the beginning of the cycle, there is a stirring of new life and the energy is primordial. If we use the analogy of a seed, it would be fertilized at this state, symbolic of a birthing and initiating creative potential. If you are born under a New Moon, you project your ideas on to the world in an impulsive and creative way. You are strongly subjective, emotionally responsive and tend to behave instinctively.
The Crescent Moon begins when the moon is 45 degrees ahead of the sun in waxing semi-square. This is symbolic of the struggle for action to expand what was begun at the New Moon and overcome the obstacles necessary to do so. Continuing with the analogy of a seed, this would be where the little seedling breaks out of its casing and begins to materialize and take root. If you are born under a Crescent Moon, you have a need to break free of the traditions of the past conditioning and commit to your own agenda. You are still subjective, but not as subjective as the New Moon. The light of consciousness is dawning. You are likely to be aware of how conditioning has a hold on you and struggle to break away from that and assert and expand your subjective sense of self in new directions.
The First Quarter Moon begins when the moon is 90 degrees ahead of the sun in waxing square. Now the Moon is half lit. Subjectivity and Objectivity are at a balance, yet this is coming from the subjective realm into the objective realm of consciousness. This is a struggle to commit to the cycle and is often referred to as a "crisis in action" because of the demand for forceful activity. Our seed analogy now takes us to breaking through the barrier of the ground above. Action is taken to ensure the growth of the cycle, the challenges that were discovered in the Crescent Phase, are now demanding action be taken to clear away the boundaries of the past that would prevent the success of the new cycle. If you are born under this phase, you have a strong need to replace old structures and build new frameworks. You are active, self expressive and strong willed.
The Gibbous Moon begins when the moon is 135 degrees ahead of the sun in waxing sesquiquadrate. The Moon is bulging now and objectivity outweighs subjectivity. The Full Moon is just around the corner and the culmination of the cycle can be felt though it can't yet be reached. In our seed analogy our plant is now showing the buds that will soon blossom. There is an evaluation process that goes on during this phase as you begin to discover the potential of the cycle from an objective state of consciousness. If you are born under this phase, you spend a lot of time on self-discovery, evaluating your personal growth. You have a need to do something for society or others because the objective awareness extends beyond yourself.
The Full Moon begins when the moon is 180 degrees ahead of the sun in opposition. The lunar surface is completely lit, basking in the total light of illumination from the sun. This phase is entirely objective. This is the realization, the culmination of the cycle. In our seed analogy, the seed is no longer a seed but rather a fully blossomed plant that bears the ripened fruit of the seed we had sewn at the New Moon. Due to the total objectivity, this cycle needs others to feel fulfilled. The opposition factor also alludes to relationship issues this phase represents. If you are born under the Full Moon, your need for fulfillment is so strong, that you are likely shy away from all but the ideal relationship. You find your self constantly involved in relationship issues as long as you hold onto this idea for fulfillment coming from the other. The key here is the fulfillment of Self realization that comes through the objectivity of others.
The Disseminating Moon begins when the moon is 225 degrees ahead of the sun (or 135 behind) in waning sesquiquadrate. Now the full light of illumination is waning, subjectivity is beginning to return. The fruits of our labor in our analogy are now ready to be reaped as we harvest them and share them with others. Here we demonstrate and share our experiences and what we learned at the Full Moon and are continuing to gather ideas from others because the bulging moon is still more objective. If you are born under the Disseminating Moon, you have a knack for teaching and inspiring others. You like to communicate and share your ideas with others.
The Last Quarter Moon begins when the moon is 270 degrees ahead of the sun (or 90 degrees behind) in waning square. Again, the moon is half lit indicating a balance between objectivity and subjectivity. However, this time it is a return to subjectivity having already reached full objectivity, so the energy is turning inward mentally instead of acting outward physically as in the First Quarter phase. This is often referred to as a "crisis in consciousness" because it is a time of reflection rather than action. After sharing ideas and experiences with others in the previous phase, it becomes time to re-evaluate and revise the way we did things before, so we can make them even better the next time around. In our seed analogy, the plant is bare, the fruit is gone yet the stalks are left to remind us of what was and the next seedlings are preparing to drop for the next cycle to remind us of what is to come. If you are born under the Third Quarter Moon you tend to direct your energies inward and can be inflexible in your opinions and beliefs of what works and what doesn't. Yet at the same time, you have our eye on the future and feel frustrated by the change it will bring.
The Balsamic Moon begins when the moon is 315 degrees ahead of the sun (or 45 degrees behind) in waning semi-square. There is waning sliver of a moon in the sky. The return to total subjective darkness is just around the corner. The feeling is that a return to a new beginning lies just ahead. There is a sense of releasing the past and moving toward the future. Our plant is now releasing the past by dropping its seeds for the future cycle. If you are born under this phase you are visionary and aware of the future. You may seem to be ahead of your time. You may feel you are supposed to do or be something even though you aren't quite sure what it is. However you have a hope in the future and respond to its calling.
The Progressed Lunation Cycle
As we grow in life our chart progresses at the rate of a day for a year in secondary progressions. Therefore as we evolve in our own natal cycle, our moon phase is not stagnant. It waxes and wanes with the progressed Sun-Moon relationship. By looking in the ephemeris and noting when the next moon phase is after your birth, you can determine how your lunation cycle is evolving. It's not my intent of this article to explain how to determine this mathematically by hand. Roughly you can count a day in the ephemeris for a year of life to get close and then play with secondary progressed dates on your computer to find out exactly when your progressed Sun and progressed Moon move into the next phase relationship.
The location of the progressed Sun & Moon in your chart points to the areas of your life that are currently working on the inner self to outer self relationship. The house of the progressed Sun tells the area of life that is most important for your creative self expression and the house of the progressed Moon tells the area of life where you are emotionally focused. The phase tells where you are in your personal growth cycle and the state of the relationship between the two. Because the progressed synodic cycle is roughly 29.5 years long (from birth phase to its recurrence in progressions) you get 3 of these progressed synodic returns in your life time. Often we come into life in the middle of the cycle. We grow to finish it up and begin a new one at our progressed New Moon. The Sabian Symbol of your progressed New Moon is helpful in determining what your new cycle is about.
You also get 3 sidereal lunar returns, which is the return of your progressed Moon to its natal position by zodiac degree. This is different than the synodic return, because this one has nothing to do with the sun. The phase of the relationship is not indicated here, only the Moon is referenced. Between ages 27 & 28 you get a progressed lunar return to its natal position, right around the time of a transit Saturn return. The 3 progressed lunar returns display the Moon/Mother/Emotional principal in the triplicity of maiden/mother/crone-sage stages of life. Likewise the 3 stages of the Saturn/Father/Responsibility stages of life are felt at very close intervals. Separately these tell us of our emotional and material evolvement. Here one is not reflecting the other (as in the Sun-Moon relationship of the progressed synodic lunar cycle), they are 2 separate things occurring at the same time as we reach the various levels of emotional security and material security.
Julene's suggested Reading List
The Lunation Cycle by Dane Rudhyar
Predictive Astrology: The Eagle and the Lark by Bernadette Brady
The Luminaries by Liz Green & Howard Sasportas
© Julene Packer-Louis, 2004