About Dana Gerhardt

A popular columnist with The Mountain Astrologer since 1991, Dana Gerhardt is an internationally respected astrologer. She has lectured extensively and written for astrology publications on several continents. Her ongoing passions are the moon and living the intuitive life. Dana worked for many years in the corporate sector, where she observed the undeniable influence of natural cycles. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude from Occidental College in Los Angeles and did graduate work in literature at Columbia University and CSULA. Dana can be contacted by email.

Benefic Sky Show

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If you’re lucky enough to have a view of the Western sky at sunset, no doubt over the past week you’ve been inspired by a most beautiful display.  Venus and Jupiter–the two brightest planets–have been growing closer and closer.  They will be at their closest on Tuesday night, when the Moon will be almost full.  Make a wish!  Venus and Jupiter are the gift givers of the zodiac.  Both remain close through August, which means we can keep watching and wishing for awhile.

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3 Minute Full Moon Ritual

Ritual: Cancer Capricorn Full Moon

Drawing down the moon…

Imagine above you the round glowing disc of the moon, bathing you in a protective circle of light. Vibrant with energy, your space is transformed, filled with the purity of spirit. Stand and raise your arms above your head. Let your palms face each other and curve slightly toward the moon. Feel as though you’re a sacred chalice, drawing the power of the Great Mother into every cell of your being—from your toes, to your womb, to your breasts, to your jaw, and your eyes. Feel the pleasure of this energy. It is vibrant with the power to give, to receive, to nurture life, and manifest what is possible.

Sending your blessings…

Draw your hands to your heart. Massage this area. Feel that you have become the goddess, capable of balancing the earth and harmonizing its opposing forces. In particular you are tuned to the forces of Capricorn and Cancer, signs devoted to responsibility and nurture. They represent the forces of “father” and “mother,” protecting, securing, holding, and stabilizing, each in their way. Out of balance, they raise the shadows of authoritarianism and helplessness. When we confront their shadow expressions, we feel lonely and unsafe; we feel un-fathered and un-mothered. This negativity circles the globe like a dark smoke. Know that if you breathe in this smoke you have the power to transform it in your heart-breathing it out as the pure white light of the goddess. Read the affirmations and visualize the world’s darkness dissolving with your breath. Find a comfortable rhythm and repeat the statements until your light has transformed the world.

  • Breathing in…
    The homeless, hungry, and abandoned ones.
  • Breathing out…
    protection, nurture, and love.
  • Breathing in…
    childhood nightmares and traumas.
  • Breathing out…
    warm lights, safe laps, comforting hands.
  • Breathing in…
    fearful and ignorant leaders.
  • Breathing out…
    wise and compassionate elders, guiding the world.

Grounding the energy…

See the world bathed in the purifying light of your offering: the sleeping babies, the politicians arguing, the starving children, liars and thieves. See the world transforming with this light, growing peaceful and calm. When you are ready, bring your hands to your sides, palms facing the earth. Send your divine light deep into the earth. See this energy take shape as a round moon, gathering below you in the center of the earth. Feel yourself slowly coming back into your body. Rest in this peace until you are ready to return to your life. Blessed be.


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Sky Events Worth Noting

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Linking the heavens to your earth-bound life is beneficial. Your inner rhythms become more confident as you harmonize with the outer symphony and your life acquires a more beautiful soundtrack. The two sky events most worth paying attention to this cycle occur on June 21, when it’s solstice and Venus enters the shadow of her retrograde.

Solstice signals a change of seasons.  In the weeks before and after a new season begins, our bodies are adjusting—and they’re quite vulnerable as they shift into new rhythms and temperatures. These are the weeks when people are most susceptible to overload, fatigue, and infection. Pay attention and support your body’s needs! If you’re in the northern hemisphere, shift your diet towards cooling foods like fruits and raw veggie salads. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, nourish yourself with foods that have cooked awhile (like hearty stews or soups) as this will bring supportive warmth into your body. Rest or exercise in the way that’s appropriate for you. You may have more energy: take advantage!  Or you may want to pause. Whichever is true for you, your body will appreciate this loving attention.  The solstice tells us that the length of the day is changing. This brings opportunities for new activity and routines. It’s an auspicious time to redesign your day. Whatever changes you make at the solstice tend to stick.

Venus will be going retrograde next month (on July 25).  On June 21, she enters the “pre-shadow” of this backward (or “retrograde”) period. The pre-shadow weeks are sneaky and critical. This is when you plant the seeds for your future retrograde experience. If you’re not paying attention to Venus things (love, money, pleasure and/or creativity), the unconscious decisions you make now can cause you trouble during the retrograde weeks (from July 25 to September 6). You might change your mind about a current choice once the retrograde is underway.  People from your past may suddenly show up and become major players in the drama of these weeks. But you don’t need to buy a ticket to that play again if you don’t want to. The planet Venus is slowing down as she readies for her retrograde station.  Let yourself do likewise.  If you’re in a hurry about anything Venus-themed, let that be a signal to examine your deeper motives. It’s smart to slow down.

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Solstice: The Wheel Turns

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On June 21, summer–and the longest day of the year–will arrive in the Northern Hemisphere. During the past few months, the Sun has been marching toward its northernmost limit on the horizon. It now lingers there awhile. That’s what “solstice” means—to stand still. It’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere; the days are short, as the Sun stands at the southernmost limit of the horizon. North or South, it’s a significant turning point in the wheel of the year.

Recognition of the solstice is in our genetic code. Deep in our cells we know what to do. In the North, all that is nurtured by the Sun is energized. It’s time to bang the pots and celebrate the King, our Sun. Our bodies want to dance. Our arms want to open and receive its power. In the South, we’re turning inward, preparing to conserve faith and spirit for the cold days ahead.

North or South,  during the days before, after, or on the solstice, we need to connect with the Sun. Let a part of yourself drift out of your routine and into the archetypal realm. You don’t have to be at Stonehenge to have a mystical experience. You may be surprised; at a random hour, while sitting at your desk, walking on the street, or sipping an espresso, the Sun will find you. It will wink at you from a knothole on the fence. Or beam through a window and touch your arm. Like an old friend. Stay awhile. Just let the Sun touch you and give thanks. Expressing your gratitude for the Sun is not a fancy solstice ritual—but it’s potent nonetheless.

At solstice, Father Sun enters Cancer, the Mother’s sign. We become more motivated to secure our foundations, to root ourselves, to connect with intuition, our deeper way of knowing. What are you nurturing now? Perhaps there’s an acorn in your hand that’s hoping you’ll commit to the oak it can become. Cancer is the season to commit more deeply to yourself and important projects!

At this time, I often think of P.D. Eastman’s children’s book Are You My Mother?  In the story, while a mother is hunting worms, her baby bird hatches—alone. It falls from its nest and wanders through the town confused, asking every creature it meets—a dog, a cow, an airplane, even a steam shovel—“Are you my mother?” Something like that happens with us now too. What’s confused and needy cracks out of its shell and goes looking (quite naturally) for comfort and safety.

Just when we want to commit to something, we notice a rising insecurity, a certain clinginess, fear of rejection, or timidity about acting on our goals.  This happens because whatever part of us is growing—whether we’re launching a new habit or an ambitious project—always begins as something soft and vulnerable. It can’t feed itself. It needs a mommy. We search—sometimes in the wrong places—looking in the snack section of the grocery store or to our mates. But what we really need, we can only find within.

In Eastman’s story, the baby bird finds its mother and his happy childhood begins. Our projects will also start their happy childhood when we make Cancer’s necessary discovery: We are the baby and the mother we’ve been seeking. New strength pours in during Cancer’s season whenever we approach ourselves as a mother would her child: tenderly, cautiously, protectively, full of sensitivity and commitment. How we treat our feelings can become the model for how we treat our goals. Cancer’s journey from insecurity to strength is something we do every year. We go from lost child to confident mother again and again.  In summer or winter, it’s how we grow.

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3 Minute New Moon Ritual

Ritual: Gemini New Moon

Ground your body, clear your mind…

Become aware of your body. Notice how gravity holds and connects you to earth. It’s as though your body is an ancient stone temple—solid, strong, secure. Sanctify this temple. Imagine a priestess is pouring sacred water and scattering rose petals, all the way down, from your head to your toes. Any anxiety or negativity washes away. Notice the thoughts and feelings leaving the temple—your judgments, your distracted mind, your worried heart. Be sure to honor them. Give each a smile and a piece of cake as it departs.

Draw a circle of protection, call in blessings…

Visualize a ring of fragrant flowers surrounding you, protecting you. Know that you are safe and relaxed. Breathe deeply. Feel the power of the Sun and Moon pouring into your circle. The energy of Gemini is gathering in your circle. It is intelligent, curious, and quick. It breathes through your lungs and expresses through your hands. It is skillful and clever, versatile and articulate. Gemini loves a good laugh. Continue absorbing this energy as you read Gemini’s affirmations.

  • I have multiple talents.
  • When I am still, I understand more.
  • I am interested in everything.
  • I love a good question.
  • I adjust quickly when I need to.
  • I am always learning.
  • I attract the information I need.
  • The world loves to hear what I’m thinking.

Allow seed intentions to form…

Your intentions for this cycle are gathering. You may already know what you wish to accomplish. Or you may not. Trust that all will unfold perfectly in time. Know that this brief ritual has aligned you with spirit. Now ask your heart if it has a closing message for you. This may come in words or as a picture, perhaps as a body sensation or sound. Give yourself time to receive this message. Digest it. Write it down. Then, in gratitude to yourself and spirit, return to normal awareness. Place a symbol of your Gemini New Moon message on your altar.


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3 Minute Full Moon Ritual

Ritual: Gemini Sagittarius Full Moon

Drawing down the moon…

Imagine above you the round glowing disc of the moon, bathing you in a protective circle of light. Vibrant with energy, your space is transformed, filled with the purity of spirit. Stand and raise your arms above your head. Let your palms face each other and curve slightly toward the moon. Feel as though you’re a sacred chalice, drawing the power of the Great Mother into every cell of your being—from your toes, to your womb, to your breasts, to your jaw, and your eyes. Feel the pleasure of this energy. It is vibrant with the power to give, to receive, to nurture life, and manifest what is possible.

Sending your blessings…

Draw your hands to your heart. Massage this area. Feel that you have become the goddess, capable of balancing the earth and harmonizing its opposing forces. In particular you are tuned to the forces of Sagittarius and Gemini, signs devoted to knowledge, truth, understanding, and communication. Out of balance, they bring righteousness, gossip, judgment, confusion, and lies. This negativity circles the globe like a dark smoke. Know that if you breathe in this smoke you have the power to transform it in your heart and breathe it out as the pure white light of the goddess. Read the affirmations and visualize the world’s darkness dissolving with your breath. Find a comfortable rhythm and repeat the statements until your light has transformed the world.

  • Breathing in…
    gossip and lies.
  • Breathing out…
    truth.
  • Breathing in…
    righteous judgement.
  • Breathing out…
    knowledge and understanding.
  • Breathing in…
    confusion and hatred.
  • Breathing out…
    insight and love.

Grounding the energy…

See the world bathed in the purifying light of your offering: the sleeping babies, the politicians arguing, the starving children, liars and thieves. See the world transforming with this light, growing peaceful and calm. When you are ready, bring your hands to your sides, palms facing the earth. Send your divine light deep into the earth. See this energy take shape as a round moon, gathering below you in the center of the earth. Feel yourself slowly coming back into your body. Rest in this peace until you are ready to return to your life. Blessed


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Drink the Moon

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If somebody sold Moon Water in my town, sales would be brisk. Ashland Oregon is abundant with individuals who genuinely revere the Divine Feminine and believe in the powers of subtle energies. And while quite a few of us actually dance under the Full Moon, many more of us, unfortunately, simply dance with the idea of doing it, and most months, we’re even too busy for that. Hence: the attractiveness of purchasing Moon Water. Imagine, having Moon Water in an elegant yet handy spray bottle, so that throughout the day, we could mist our feet, hands, face, and heart with the healing touch of the Moon. At night we could mist our pillows to draw soothing or illuminating dreams. With Moon Water we could charge our crystals. We could brew psychic teas. We could revive ailing pets and house plants.

But alas, Moon Water has not yet hit our shelves. So it is only during those months when we are so fully in tune with the Feminine that we’re able to use this exquisite opportunity each Full Moon brings, not only to charge a jar of spring water, but also to enchant ourselves. While making time to do this is difficult, the procedure itself is simple.

Pour purified water into a glass jar. Place it outside in the moonlight. Stand there awhile. Feel into the moonlight. Close your eyes. Imagine that the Moon is descending and has become a glowing orb just inches above the crown of your head. Feel how the Moon’s light now enters your body, nourishing each of your chakras, filling your cells.

Once you’re filled with the sense of the Moon, open your eyes. Slowly and lovingly circle your right hand in a clockwise direction over the water, nine times. Then do the same with your left hand, counter-clockwise, nine times. After that, over the jar, form a triangle with the index fingers and thumbs of both hands. Into the center of the triangle, pour your gratitude for the gift the Moon is bringing you.

Then wait a minute or two. You may or may not receive a message, perhaps an image, a word, or a sensation. After you feel complete, rub your hands together and shake them out. Leave the bottled water out all night, but retrieve it early in the morning, before it’s touched by the Sun’s rays.

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Taurus New Moon Darshan

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I live in a town where famous gurus often visit. I remember one particularly famous one who offered darshan — a sacred event in which one sees and is seen by a genuine divine being. Several hundred of us descended on the church, then knelt and crawled to the little rug where we offered our bent heads to her transformative touch.

I’ll admit it: I felt nothing.

But I did feel something a couple weeks later in the YMCA parking lot. As I opened my car door, a toddler appeared (his mother was standing nearby). He had the biggest bluest eyes I’d ever seen. “Washoonaym” he said. After a confused moment, I realized his meaning. “It’s Dana,” I replied, “And what’s your name?” He didn’t answer, but turned again with great enthusiasm to his mother, “It’s Dana!” He clapped his hands with glee. His mother and I smiled at each other and as I walked away, I heard him say again, “Her name is Dana!” His mother softly instructed, “You should have told her your name.”

But I was already gone… in the bliss of being touched so deeply by this little guru whose teaching was just what I needed. His giddy un-self-consciousness was like a Zen stick on my head, rousing me from the usual self-concern. It said: Forget yourself and savor life! Feel the joy of meeting everything fresh!

Now as I consider my vows for this Taurus New Moon, I wonder what it would be like to greet each stranger, everyone and everything, with the same un-self-conscious enthusiasm as that little boy had shown me. To step out my door and shout “It’s a blue sky!” Or in the afternoon at Starbucks “It’s the guy making coffee and his name is Aaron!” And if I could see you reading this, I’d want to say “It’s you! It’s you! I’m so glad you’re here!”

 

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Soon the Sun enters Gemini

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                             When we are going toward someone we say
                             you are just like me
                             your thoughts are my brothers and sisters
                             word matches word
                             how easy to be together.

                             When we are leaving someone we say
                             how strange you are
                             we cannot communicate
                             we can never agree
                             how hard, hard and weary to be together. 

                             –from “Simple-song” by Marge Piercy

Just four days after the Taurus New Moon, the Sun enters Gemini (May 21). Our minds will turn towards Gemini things… books, words, chatter, curiosity, whimsy, and evil twins. Every year at this time, the Sun turns your attention to the Gemini house(s) of your chart, when it’s useful to pause and ponder which half of Piercy’s poem you’re experiencing this year.  Are you going towards a world that seems easy and like-minded?  Or does your world, your companions, your familiar routes seem weary and hard?  If you’re living in the second stanza, this Gemini season may be especially important for you.

Gemini is your annual opportunity to update your world.  You may know exactly what needs updating. If not, you can start with your language.  Freshen up your vocabulary with a few new and enlivening words.  Listen to somebody younger, older, or with a different color skin, and steal a new term; use it for at least a week.  If you have a meditation practice, let your thoughts run a little before you go to silence.  Are inspiring–or self-defeating–mantras are running through your mind?  Take your journal to a coffee house and see where the pen or keyboard takes you. Feeling uninspired? Write a letter to an earlier version of yourself:  the third grader you, the college freshman you, the night-before-getting-married you.  Share something you recently discovered about yourself and what you hope to learn in the year to come.

Remind yourself of all the times that you were actively going toward life.  Remember what you saw in your mate when your eyes were fresh and open?  Remember how your workplace looked the first day you walked in?  Are there any experiences evoking the same beginner’s mind in you today?  Consult a dictionary of names and let your finger randomly fall on one of them, maybe “Barbara,” “Chester,” or “Maxie.”  Promise the gods that you’ll meet somebody new this month with just that name, maybe at the grocery store, the museum, the library.  But be on the lookout, for winged Mercury will make sure this person has a message for you.

With all the scandals and legitimate horrors, with everything moving at such inflated speed these days, my next piece of advice may seem strange.  But especially if your world feels heavier this year, if you’ve lost your ability to communicate with your dear ones, this is the month to lighten your spirit.  The secret to Gemini’s month is not to take your quest for knowledge too seriously.  At least once this season abandon your obligations and honor your mischievous child.  Let your gurus be the Cat in the Hat and Curious George.  Pick one day, one afternoon, one morning, when your inner adult takes a snooze.  Then follow that itchy little spirit within.  This creates a vacuum into which Gemini’s magic can rush like a giddy wind.

And don’t forget your evil twin.  Find a long-necked bottle.  Let your evil twin whisper into it every shocking thing on his/her mind.  Everything.  Without any judgment from the “good you.”  If your twin needs more than one bottle, that’s fine.  Then fill your bottle(s) with water and drive to a wild place.  While you dance in a wide dervish circle, sprinkle your evil twin’s water joyfully all over the ground.  Be sure to laugh.  Talk to whatever animal comes to watch as though it were your brother or sister.

This is also a great time to learn more about yourself through your chart. Check out my personalized Moonprints and Venus reports. Lots of great reading!  And the subject couldn’t be lovelier… they’re all about you!

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3 Minute New Moon Ritual

Ritual: Taurus New Moon

Ground your body, clear your mind…

Become aware of your body. Notice how gravity holds and connects you to earth. It’s as though your body is an ancient stone temple—solid, strong, secure. Sanctify this temple. Imagine a priestess is pouring sacred water and scattering rose petals, all the way down, from your head to your toes. Any anxiety or negativity washes away. Notice the thoughts and feelings leaving the temple—your judgments, your distracted mind, your worried heart. Be sure to honor them. Give each a smile and a piece of cake as it departs.

Draw a circle of protection, call in blessings…

Visualize a ring of fragrant flowers surrounding you, protecting you. Know that you are safe and relaxed. Breathe deeply. Feel the power of the Sun and Moon pouring into your circle. The energy of Taurus is gathering in your circle. It is patient and sensual. It is loyal and artistic. It is capable and strong. Continue absorbing this energy as you read the Taurus affirmations.

  • Earth sustains me.
  • I am creative.
  • I am rich with abundance.
  • I slow down and savor each moment.
  • I delight in my senses.
  • I am productive.
  • I love pleasure.
  • I am secure.

Allow seed intentions to form…

Your intentions for this cycle are gathering. You may already know what you wish to accomplish. Or you may not. Trust that all will unfold perfectly in time. Know that this brief ritual has aligned you with spirit. Now ask your heart if it has a closing message for you. This may come in words or as a picture, perhaps as a body sensation or sound. Give yourself time to receive this message. Digest it. Write it down. Then, in gratitude to yourself and spirit, return to normal awareness. Place a symbol of your Taurus New Moon message on your altar.


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