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.

Calling Leo

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It’s another new moon: when the magically minded make wishes and astrologers attempt to divine this cycle’s intentions. The wishes you make now may indeed be super-powered, but if you don’t have a strong relationship with the archetypes, don’t expect special favors. If you rarely play your cello, don’t expect a starring role in the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. New Moons are potent times to forge new alliances with the gods. Visit the invisible world. Bow and open yourself to their touch. Make an offering. Humans have been rendezvousing with these archetypes for thousands of years. When you call out to the gods, they do respond!

Calling Leo

Leo carries finger paints and a portable sandbox wherever he goes. He plays at everything, having never learned that life’s no fun. When he buys his groceries, he wheels his shopping cart with the passion of a diva singing to a sold-out crowd. He invites me to lunch and serves summer fruits in vibrant colors, arranging them thoughtfully on the plate, like a painter. His salad looks like the Eiffel Tower. Everything he does is worthy of applause.

Some say that admiration is all he lives for. But I know this isn’t true. He has known fame. He’s lived in grand houses with opulent gardens, but he’s also stayed in one-room dirt-floor cabins and been just as happy. “Love is everywhere,” he explains. He means the kind you give—which more than makes up for the love we’re all dying to receive. Leo’s heart is as wide as the Grand Canyon. His joy knows no bounds. His smile is constantly radiant. “What’s your secret to happiness?” I once asked him. He thought for a moment, “That’s hard… because I keep discovering new ones. But here’s a current favorite: Let everything you do be as carefree—and important—as a rose blooming in the weeds.”

Leo is star power. That we hunger for this gift explains our fascination with celebrities. Onto their canvas, we paint Leo qualities that are missing from our lives: importance, playfulness, childlike joy. We love to see people richly rewarded just for expressing themselves. They’re living the dream: playing big, being special, andhaving fun! But Leo is a little grumpy these days. He says our obsession with fame has gone too far. “Why appreciate just a few, when everyone has the special stuff? Doesn’t everyone have my Lion in their charts? Feel the love and roar!”

One summer years ago, on Leo’s dare I put fuschia and purple streaks in my hair. “A desperate attempt to look young,” quipped my partner. I understand why he’d say this to a woman nearly sixty years old. But the truth is, I liked these colors and didn’t care much what people thought of them. I felt a need.

I was surprised by what came next. People got friendlier. Their eyes were a little brighter when they looked at me, their smiles more genuine. Handing me change, the cashier at the health food store enthused “I love your hair!” Outside the movie theater an eight-year-old skated by and shouted “Excellent hair!” Women my age confided “Your hair looks great… wish I could do that.”

Every day I see people whose choices inspire me too—like the local bank teller who always wears an amazing array of rings, one on every finger, including her thumbs. This little creative detail gives me a boost every time I see her. She also wears a radiant smile and really seems to enjoy her work. That lifts my day too. Then there’s the opposite experience, when the pizza boy glumly drops off the pizza and how that stains the whole meal.

When we love ourselves, and love what we’re doing, we make the whole world happier. The entire field is energized by the vitality of many individuals joyously being themselves. Though we’re often warned against thinking too much of ourselves, our hearts get stronger when we do. When we know we’re good at something, when we express our passions and our joys without apology or fear, when we put crazy colored streaks in our hair just because we feel like it, we’re calling Leo into our field.

Leo’s Response

Waiting for the response is the fun part. No way can I predict it for you. But in the next few days and weeks, keep your eye out for lions, bright colors, a burst of courage, or the simple delight of feeling the Sun on your skin. You may be praised at work—or get a surprise invitation to a party. A child might run up and hug your knees. Maybe you’ll find yourself singing at full volume in the shower. Leo could arrive as a belly laugh, an artful salad, or maybe it just hits you in a quiet moment—that you’re falling in love with your life all over again.

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3 Minute New Moon Ritual

Ritual: Leo 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 Leo is gathering in your circle, warm and radiant. Leo is the archetypal King-a strong, generous, and good-hearted king. Leo rules the kind of leadership that comes from the heart. It honors others as it honors itself. Leo is dignified and playful, creative and romantic. It carries the enthusiasm of a happy child. Continue absorbing its energy as you read Leo’s affirmations.

  • I play like a child.
  • I lead like a king.
  • I shine.
  • I encourage others to be their best.
  • I feel appreciated.
  • The world wants what I have to give.
  • My heart is joyful.
  • I give love with ease.

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 Leo New Moon message on your altar.


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Mid-Year Lammas Break

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Coming soon, about a week after the Leo New Moon, is the agricultural “first fruits” holiday, Lammas. It’s traditionally celebrated on August 1 and is astrologically exact on August 6/7 (when the Sun reaches 15 degrees Leo).  It is energetically exact whenever you become aware of the spiritual truth that you are an expression of the Sun.

One way to evaluate your current “sunniness” and creative harvest, is to check into the condition of your solar plexus. Are you feeling strong or weak there? A vital Sun feels confident and potent; a tired Sun feels inadequate and powerless. On the scale between feeling “special” and “lackluster/ordinary,” where do you fall this year? Every year’s harvest is different. Wise farmers don’t beat themselves up for poor harvests; they learn from them. Whether you’re in the midst of a creative high or  low, Lammas is an auspicious time to evaluate your own laboring.  How is this your harvest?  Honor this cross-quarter moment with a small ceremony, nothing  fancy, just something sincere. But do give it a little time and attention: take a Lammas break!

If you have an altar, light a candle; observe its flame for a few minutes. Beside the candle place the “first fruits” of whatever work it is you have been involved in over the past six months: the page of a book, an article of clothing representing a child, a flower from a garden, a business ledger, musical instrument, or even a tool representing a computer.  Consider the journey you’ve taken so far through 2014.  What labors have you endured? Was there stormy weather in the form of dark days of doubt or disbelief that you had to suffer through? As you contemplate your labors, you may begin to see the ways in which your efforts are beginning to bear fruit. If you are a parent, you may see a subtle maturing in your child; as a writer, you may see how an abstract idea took root to become a fully-formed project; or, if you are a businessperson you may notice how your company is beginning to prosper.  However big or small, honor and acknowledge what is coming to fruition through your efforts as an expression of the Sun.

 

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It’s Leo time!

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Today the Sun moves into his own sign—ripening his favorite qualities! The Leo season celebrates love, self-confidence, generosity, romance, dignity, joy, enthusiasm, pride, courage, and passion.  This is the month to see life through the eyes of a child.  Children live in the moment; having fun is their primary goal. Especially when they’re feeling safe and seen, their hearts are wide open—to the joy of being an energetic being in a magical world. During Leo’s month you can discover magical powers, if only you’d surrender to its spirit of playfulness. Let yourself flow with the fresh, quick spirit of a child, ready for anything. Let worry and duty fall aside. Leo is the month to be creative, to stand in your own spotlight, to celebrate your life force.

I wasn’t always such a cheerleader for Leo.  In fact, before I knew much about astrology, I knew one thing: I didn’t like Leos. My ex-husband had a Leo Sun, and so did many of the creative types we hung out with—dancers, musicians, and performance artists—energetic show-offs, always grabbing center stage. Leos, I decided, were just tap-dancing toddlers disguised as adults, forever crying “Look at me, look at me!” And throughout my childhood, I hated Leo’s month. It seemed an incredible waste of time—the dreariest stretch of my summer vacation, spent watching Divorce Court and reruns of Father Knows Best, when all I really wanted was to get back to school.

Imagine my surprise when years later when I discovered I had a Leo Moon. It was hidden in my chart’s Twelfth House closet, where what the psyche rejects is held. My dislike of Leo was my own deficiency:  I was blocked in expressing its spirit. Perhaps I paid a steep price for being too kingly in a past life. As a child, whenever I won a school election or an award, I wanted to crawl out of my skin when my mother (the stand-in for my Leo Moon) dramatically ooohed and ahhed, calling me “The Big Cheese.” I wanted attention, but when I got it, I squirmed. And so in later years, when I saw others soaking up the spotlight, I considered their exhibitions shameful.

I have a friend who believes the answer to all life problems is a night on the town, full of drinking and dancing. That’s not how I have fun. But having fun—however one does it—is indeed Leo’s secret. When you can enjoy life, and enjoy yourself in the midst of life, your problems shrink and your confidence grows. I’ve since learned how to tap into the gifts of Leo’s season. I now relish the opportunity each Leo month brings—to be more fully alive, doing what comes naturally, when I enjoy being me. May you enjoy what’s special about you this month too!

If you haven’t been feeling appreciated lately, perhaps the outer world is offering a reflection of your inner world.  Perhaps you haven’t been in much of a mood to appreciate anything, let alone what’s special about you. One way to reverse this trend is to start noticing all the gifts in your outer world–the people, places, and conditions that support you.  The more you recognize what’s wonderful around you, the easier it is to start thinking about your own fine qualities.  Appreciation is good heart medicine all the way around.

© Dana Gerhardt

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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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Meeting the Moon Tonight

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The Moon temples and rites of initiation that once flourished across the ancient world have long since vanished. Even so, it’s still possible to cultivate a sincere spiritual practice based in the Moon’s mysteries—and you can begin tonight. Start by heightening your awareness of the natural world. Let nature be your temple. Sit amidst the companionable intimate presence of the forest. Or retreat to a quiet spot in your own backyard. Take note of the season and the weather—is it warm or cold; sunny or overcast; windy or calm? In what growth stage are the surrounding plants and trees—are they barren–or rich with leaves, blossoms, and fruit? As you relax into this great womb of living energies, notice how you too belong to this family, along with the flowers, rocks, insects, and birds.

How is the natural world responding to the Moon this night? Get quiet. Notice. Start with the mystical quality of  light that is permeating everything. You may even hear a chorus of voices, insects buzzing, cars on the road, a mother calling to her child.  A word may start murmuring inside you, an ancient “Hrim,” “Ohm” or “Haiyeeee.” Or perhaps it’s just a feeling, a certain mood you’re sensing in the landscape. Let nature’s response to the Moon penetrate you. When the time feels right, join in with this simple prayer:

I attune my outer life and inner soul
to the rhythm of the Moon, she who monthly empties and grows full.
Oh Great Goddess, who tills the garden of the Earth
Oh Wise Weaver of Time
Oh Star of Life
Oh Mother of the World
Bestow upon us the generosity of your life and light
Make us loving, juicy, calm, and bright.

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Call and Response: Cancer New Moon

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New Moons are potent times to forge alliances with the gods. Visit the invisible world. Bow and open yourself to their touch. Make an offering. Humans have been rendezvousing with these archetypes for thousands of years. When you call out to the zodiac, the gods do respond!

Water was Cancer’s first language. As a child, she babbled like a brook, thundered like a waterfall, and sank deep into thought like a well. Speaking this way, she learned how to feel all of her feelings completely. When somebody vulnerable is in danger, her heart can storm like the ocean. But most days she flows like a cool mountain stream, soothing harsh edges, blessing the roots, and finding out everyone’s secrets. She’s the Moon’s own daughter. When Cancer smiles her Moon-face smile, you can’t help but feel loved and safe. Into summer’s landscape, she carries safety pins, a damp cloth for soothing brows, colorful band-aids, and a miracle tea that makes you feel like you’ve enjoyed a peaceful sleep with happy dreams.

Visit Cancer and she’ll watch you like a pot that might boil over. “Here, you look like you need this,” she’ll say, handing you something home-baked and delicious. She knows what the birds are thinking. She can cry at the drop of a hat. Her sensitivity used to make me wonder about the durability of her blessings. But over time I learned that she’s nobody’s fool. She has a genuine talent for making things grow. Just look at her garden!  When she sits so calmly next to you, she’s steady as a mother watching a sleeping infant. She’ll feed you with quiet spoons of strength, protection, and the knowledge that wherever you are is your home. If you accept what she offers this cycle, her blessings can nurture you for months to come.

It’s easy to call in Cancer. Just find a safe place and come to stillness. Let your weary mind go, as if you were dropping into a cool bath on a hot summer day. Sink into the good that sustains you. Cancer is a water sign—its energy is fluid, cleansing, and receptive. Water sign cycles are particularly sweet for making tender connections with loved ones. They’re auspicious for spiritual practice too; whatever you sit with now can be more deeply absorbed. Listen to your intuition. Follow the intricate paths of your imagination. Commit to your creativity.

Each Moon cycle brings new energy for growth. But what specifically should you grow now? Astrology typically answers “what” questions by looking at houses. Look to the house of your birth chart with Cancer on the cusp: here’s your personal seed bed this month. This is the place where you usually “do” this sign, where the Moon is most at home, and the dance of her phases is most relevant. The New Moon may bring a unique opportunity here… but you must tune in.

Cancer’s Response

Waiting for Cancer to show up is the fun part. No way can I predict it for you. You may get a brilliant new idea for a creative project—or a sudden urge to really clean your house. It’s amazing what clearing and organizing your space can do. It’s like birds building the nest before the eggs appear. Or perhaps you’ll be asked to act as Cancer’s agent. You might bake a cake for a friend who’s in the doldrums. A child or lost cat might need your help. Cancer’s message? Notice how much you receive whenever you selflessly give.

But what if nothing wonderful happens? What if you simply feel stuck? That’s a sign that you’re under the spell of the Dark Mother, the one who resists your growth. She’s the one who always keeps you from the party because something bad could happen. On the first day of your diet, she likes to surprise you with your favorite dessert. According to Jungian analyst Marion Woodman, the Dark Mother is like “a great lizard lounging in the depths of the unconscious.” She is threatened by change. She wants you mired in inertia, feeling so incapable, that you can’t aspire to anything new. In the old days, knights took swords to the dark-mother dragons hiding in their caves. But now, with an open heart and courageous awareness, you can simply relax and coax your inner dragon into the light. There you can see how fearful she is. Speak softly, stroke her brow, and tell her everything is going to be all right. Once you gain her trust, the old dragon will change before your eyes into a willing and magical partner.

If you’d like to explore the archetypes in even greater depth, if you like to journal and/or muse on the positions of the Sun and Moon, you may enjoy my enrolling in my Moon Workshop (by snail-mail or email). It’s designed to deepen your relationship with the guardians of natural time, the Sun, the Moon, and the zodiac.

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3 Minute New Moon Ritual

Ritual: Cancer 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 Cancer is gathering in your circle. It is comforting, compassionate, and nurturing. It knows how to create safe spaces—the womb, the sanctuary, home. It communicates through emotions. It is intuitive, creative, and sensitive to the child within. Cancer is the archetypal Mother. Continue absorbing her energy as you read Cancer’s affirmations.

  • I honor my gut feelings.
  • I nourish myself in healthy ways.
  • I can feel another’s pain without losing my boundaries.
  • I know how to protect myself and others.
  • My intuition tells me all I need to know.
  • Like water, I flow easily with my changing moods.
  • My vulnerability softens my heart.
  • I create beautiful and sustaining spaces.

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 Cancer New Moon message on your altar.


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Happy Birthday, Mooncircles!

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This month Mooncircles turns 14 years old.  That means, on our little piece of the cloud, we’ve celebrated over 350 New and Full Moons.  We appreciate all who have joined us over the years in celebrating the Divine Feminine.  We hope our ever widening circles of Moon lovers continue to bring more wisdom, compassion, and intuitive understanding to the world.

The fourteenth year of anything coincides with an astrological milestone:  a turning point in the Saturn cycle of growth and manifestation, when transiting Saturn opposes the 14-year-old’s natal Saturn. For a teenager, this can initiate conflict with (and/or rebellion against) authority figures, as the 14-year-old starts testing the limits of parents and teachers, while on the way toward discovering new authority in herself.

Mooncircles isn’t that kind of teenager–but she is stretching in new ways.  Behind the scenes, we’ve been in the process of updating the website to offer lots of new goodies for our fellow Moon lovers.  The first six months of retrogrades in 2014 have made progress slow, but we’re looking forward to speeding ahead once Mercury goes direct next week.  Look for our relaunch at the next big turn of the wheel, near the Equinox in September.

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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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