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.

3 Minute Full Moon Ritual

Ritual: Virgo Pisces 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 energies of Virgo and Pisces, signs devoted to magic, service and healing, although they approach their spiritual work from opposite directions. Virgo is that aspect of the goddess who knows the right herb or the proper incantation to fix any problem; she is observant, discerning and analytical. Pisces is your blissful goddess nature. Compassionate, intuitive, and holistic, she sees into the heart of the world. Out of balance, Virgo is constipated, judgmental and perfectionistic. Pisces is helpless and disorganized; she escapes into an unhealthy world of addictions. When these shadow expressions run amok, we feel like our world is imperfect and falling apart. We feel like victims without any protectors. We feel like the diseases of the world will win. Imagine 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…
    fear of wild forces beyond our control.
  • Breathing out…
    the power to endure with strength and grace.
  • Breathing in…
    the world’s sickness, its worries and blame.
  • Breathing out…
    a world that is radiant, healthy and harmonious.
  • Breathing in…
    whole cities torn asunder by disaster and war.
  • Breathing out…
    the power of the angels to set everything right.

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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Detoxifying on Water Moons

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There is nothing more nourishing than a Full Moon in a water sign—as is the case this month, with the Full Moon in Pisces. It’s great for gardening, deep cleansing (the skin or kitchen floors), dying hair or fabric (the color soaks in more deeply), and healing (the cells of the body absorb healing potions more readily).

But if you’re tired and feeling a bit off balance, a water Full Moon can sometimes increase your emotional or energetic confusion. Bodies can bloat with water retention. Retained water or energy can make us feel stuffed and lethargic. If you find yourself in this condition, the best remedy may be more water—in this case, the gift of water mixed with Epsom salts.  A natural anti-inflammatory, Epsom salts have a seemingly magical ability to draw toxins, cellular waste, and excess water out of the body. This can actually reduce your thighs, arms and waist!

Earlier this year, Dr. Oz demonstrated this with a willing audience member. Her measurements were taken before and after the bath. She lost inches! The bath water should be just below body temperature—between 97 and 98 degrees. Use two cups of the salt. Ten minutes in the bath is all you need. A perfect amount of time to close your eyes and contemplate the inner Full Moon.

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New Moon Call and Response: Virgo

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It’s another New Moon: when wishes can be super-charged with sparkling fresh energy. Yet if you don’t have a strong relationship with the archetypes, don’t expect buckets of fairy dust. New Moons are potent times to forge alliances with the gods. But you must be willing to meet 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 Virgo

Call Virgo and she’ll appear with the fresh grace of a virgin. This goddess wants nothing, is attached to nothing, and fears nothing. She walks the ripening fields, knowing that when the Harvest Moon rises, round as a pumpkin above the waiting barns, it’s harvest time. Her eyes are honest and appraising. The smallest details can’t escape her. Call her in at this New Moon and she’ll help you scrub your floors, organize the family photos, alphabetize your spices, and empty the medicine cabinet of old prescriptions. She likes to plan for the future and knows the most efficient method for everything.

People sometimes feel worried or guilty when Virgo is around. In small doses such feelings can have a purifying effect. But one year, guilt had me hiding in the closet. “That won’t do,” she frowned. “Take a salt bath and clean your room, discard whatever feels too dark, then pick one or two useful objects to give away.” Her magic worked. Next year, when I was overwhelmed with worry, she handed me a small black bag. “Fill it with sticks and stones from your backyard, one for everything you fear. Pass it through a cleansing smoke, then bury it in your front yard, where it will transform.” A week later, above the buried bag, a dozen pure white moonflowers suddenly appeared.

Usually I call in the signs, but this year Virgo calls me. She asks me to join her on an Oregon back road, where the blackberries thrive like weeds; just now, they’re ripening. You should join us too. Five geese are squawking overhead, speeding somewhere… but let’s just amble, past the occasional picker with her Tupperware bowl, so absorbed in her task she doesn’t notice us. Berry picking requires concentration. If you don’t move carefully, the thorns will harvest you, grabbing your clothes and dragging you into the bush. To do it right, you have to work the Virgo way: With discrimination. Unhurried. Absorbed yet industrious. Reverent. With a quiet mind. You’re tuned to perfection: finding gifts from Nature that are perfectly ready to eat.

Your eyes will tell you a lot. Leave the red ones alone. Scan for those whose purple is so intense it’s almost black (hence the name “blackberries”). If the berry looks like it’s about to burst, it’s a good candidate. If it has the sad look of a deflated tire, it’s too late. Study the finish. The ripe ones aren’t too shiny or too dull; their sheen is a vibrant cream. Out of the fifty berries you scan, you spot a likely candidate. Now here’s the real test. Tug on it. If it instantly releases into your hand, it will be delicious. If you have to tug a second or third time, if you yank it off the stem, when you pop it into your mouth, it will repay you with a tart explosion. “Ha!” It says, as your mouth endures a sour rush: “You can’t fool Mother Nature.”

I wish I could tell you that I only pick the ones that are ready to eat. But I am impatient by nature. And more often than I can count, I’ve yanked the ones my eyes have determined should be ready. I eat them and get the appropriate reward for my impatience. Virgo has blessed me with a new resolution this year—to harvest more wisely in my life. I want to tug only on those things that are truly ripe. I want to let everything else take its sweet time.

Virgo’s Response

Virgo brings a precise, analytical, and useful energy to our September New Moons. We’re invited to survey our lives and sort what is useful from what is not—like the Virgin, separating the wheat from the chaff. If you call Virgo in, she may gift you with the humble willingness to work or an impulse to get newly organized.

I have Virgo rising—which means she rules my basic personality and approach to life. As a schoolgirl, every year when the Sun entered Virgo, I’d take out a clean sheet of paper. With a bold, optimistic hand, I’d write at the top: “The New Me.” Below it I would list all the wonderful qualities I was determined to adopt in the coming school year. (“Smile,” “Be helpful,” “Always say something nice.”) One year I read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People and following a suggestion in the book, made note cards of its winning slogans and strategies. Each time I conjured my New Self, I felt like this act of conjuring was itself new. It wasn’t until I became an astrologer that I realized I did this every year at Virgo’s insistence! Which house does she activate in your chart? What important message does the Virgin have for you this cycle?

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.

© 2010 Dana Gerhardt

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The Sun enters Virgo: August 22/23

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Virgo’s Prudent Heart is well knownShe can walk into chaos, facing tasks of overwhelming difficulty, and make them quietly doable, organizing them into simple steps.  She knows that anything is easy to do if you break it down, piece-by-piece.  That’s why one of my client always pays her bills on a Virgo Moon.  What seems daunting on any other day, becomes in Virgo a kind of meditation.  The numbers become orderly, compliant, like a line of ants, each one carrying its bit to the proper destination.

A few years ago, on the day the Sun entered Virgo, I finally succeeding in backing up my computer.  I know… you’re thinking, “You hadn’t backed up your computer before that?!!”  For years, this had been my guilty unmet obligation.  Maybe there’s one like it on your “To Do” list too.  Mine required purchasing a writable CD drive for my aging computer. I tried doing this a couple times before.  The specs on ports and system requirements had always swirled before my eyes; none of the boxes at the computer store seemed to match.  The sales clerks always shrugged, “Umm, gee, I don’t know.”  But finally in that Virgo season, with crisp efficiency, a bright-eyed clerk led me straight to the only hardware that would work.  At home, it plugged in easily, and within thirty minutes, the thing that had nagged at me for years was done.

I danced.  I soared.  I sat on my porch and enjoyed the vastness of what hours before had been a crowded world.  I felt a new freedom.  And gradually I realized that this was Virgo too.  It’s the less publicized Virgo, the ancient mystery Virgo, the Virgin Virgo, harassed by no one, pure and unafraid.  Known as Diana to the Romans, Brigid to the Celts, Artemis to the Greeks, she’s both hard-working and free.  She roams with elemental forces, knows the secrets of roots and herbs, keeps the rhythms of earth and Moon, heals animals, assists in childbirth, climbs mountains, keeps hearths warm, and is entangled by nothing.  This is Virgo with the Wild Heart.

Even as she works with diligence, she is amazingly free.  If you hold a pencil just so this month, through sensitive fingers, the wild-hearted Virgin will let you hear the forest whispering inside.  She’ll walk you barefoot through the house, and point out the earth breathing beneath the floor.  In An Unspoken Hunger, Terry Tempest Williams gives voice to this side of Virgo:  “I felt innocent and wild, privy to secrets and gifts exchanged only in nature… Hands on the earth, I closed my eyes and remembered where the source of my power lies.  My connection to the natural world is my connection to self—erotic, mysterious, and whole.”  Be sure to enjoy both of Virgo’s hearts this season—the prudent one and the wild.

Your Personal Season

Last month in Leo you were creative, self-expressive… this month you’ll be inspired to scrutinize your world.  At the year’s half-way point, in Virgo, you discern what is useful and valuable from what is not–like the Virgin, separating the wheat from the chaff.  Virgo’s spirit is a collective one, but where you’re most moved to apply it will be personal, based on Virgo’s placement in your chart.  Here’s where the Virgin’s spirit is released.  In Virgo’s house, you’re reaching towards perfection—you’re called to refine something, reorganize something, dedicate yourself to meaningful work.  This is not a bondage, but a joy!  The sign on your sixth house cusp may suggest the style you prefer to use while roaming freely with the goddess.  (For more information about both the personal and collective cycles, check out my monthly Moon Workshop.)

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Mutable New Moons

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Astrologers classify signs as cardinal, fixed, and mutable. If you have a lot of cardinal signs in your chart  (Aries, Cancer, Libra, or Capricorn), you like action.  With a lot of fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, or Aquarius), you prefer to keep things as you want them to be. With planets in mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, or Pisces), you like to keep your options open; you’re versatile and changeable.

These same three qualities describe New Moons too.   New Moons in cardinal signs are the best times of the year to initiate new projects. (Such a time arrives next month with the Libra New Moon.)  Fixed sign New Moons bring us to the peak of each season. These are great cycles to support or stabilize whatever you’re been tending. Mutable New Moons–which is what we’re enjoying this month in Virgo–signal that a change of season is on its way. The weather will be capricious and surprising. One day it’s summer, the next day it suddenly feels like autumn, then it’s summer again.  To be in tune with Nature, we need to likewise become more versatile and changeable.  It helps if you enliven your senses. Stay awake to the weather. Stay awake to your own shifting needs. This is the way to avoid change-of-season illnesses. With nimble feet, start dancing to life’s new tempo and tune.

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3 Minute New Moon Ritual

Ritual: Virgo 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 Virgo is gathering in your circle. It is discriminating, organized, and productive. Unafraid of work, Virgo breaks down big tasks into smaller more manageable steps. She is a healer. With a quiet dignity, she brings order out of chaos. Virgo is the archetypal Maiden, grounded in earth’s power, running free with elemental forces. Continue absorbing her energy as you read Virgo’s affirmations.

  • I bring healing to wounded places.
  • I am the Goddess of details.
  • I move mountains, one step at a time.
  • I joy in the perfection of this moment.
  • I know my strength. I serve.
  • My body is my sacred temple.
  • I am organized. All clutter is gone!
  • I am the Virgin, self-possessed and free.

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 Virgo New Moon message on your altar.


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3 Minute Full Moon Ritual

Ritual: Leo Aquarius 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 energies of Leo and Aquarius, signs devoted to individual creativity and collective responsibility. They represent the forces of “me” and “we.” When the radiance of me joins hands with the reality of we, our world recognizes its interdependence, how what happens to one of us touches all of us. Imagine what a future we’d create if everyone brought me and we into balance. Out of balance, Leo promotes the toxic worship of celebrity, Aquarius the dangerous rule of technology.

When these shadow expressions run amok, we feel like our world is being run by children or mad scientists. Imagine 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…
    self-centered egos, cold hearts.
  • Breathing out…
    warm smiles, loving hands joined round the globe.
  • Breathing in…
    global warming, the extinction of species.
  • Breathing out…
    ingenious solutions, saving the world.
  • Breathing in…
    The warrior raising his club,
    the goddess calling him names.
  • Breathing out…
    the knowing that all are divine.

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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The Ultimate Pleasure Weekend

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I’m giving you fair warning. The two benefics–Venus and Jupiter–are conjunct next weekend (August 17/18). Both are in the playful, royal sign of Leo. It would be a shame not to join in. August is the quintessential holiday month in the Northern Hemisphere–and what a perfect pair of planets to bless us in the vacation practices of pleasure and self-indulgence. If you’re not there already, energetically,  set yourself to “party mood.” That’s your party mood specifically. Even though there is this cultural celebration in the air, the truth of your pleasure is very intimate.   What specifically brings you joyful ease may be very different from what delights your neighbor or your partner or your child. And that’s what sometimes spoils party moods–these differences!

So, plan some retreat time next week–in whatever passes for your celestial temple–a quiet moment under the apple tree or a hike to the top of the hill.  Open your heart to the good feelings in the air.  Offer all your troubles up to Venus and Jupiter.  Tune into the capacity for pleasure in your body: it may feel like a quickening, an excitement, a tingling sort of energy. Sit and play with this sensation for awhile. Notice how when you surrender to it, it builds. Notice too how this energy can build inside you without any outer conditions having to change. Give thanks for this. Then close the moment properly and leave your celestial temple.  Returning to the world, let yourself walk in celebration mode–loud or quiet–your style.  You’ll know that you’ve done this right if in the next few hours or days you find yourself suddenly overwhelmed with love or gratitude.

Many of you have written me wondering if the Osun Santeria Ritual I recommend each spring can be performed at other times in the year.  And the answer is yes.  In fact, the Friday before the Venus/Jupiter conjunction is a highly auspicious day to perform it.  That’s August 15, but wait until the Moon has entered Taurus (11:58 am EDT).  If you’re not familiar with the ritual, read here.

It’s also a great weekend to delight in your own Venus.  If you don’t know a lot about her, check out my Venus Unleashed report!

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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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