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.

Why I don’t care about “Blue Moons”

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A Full Moon is considered “blue” when it’s the second Full Moon in a month, a phenomenon occurring approximately once every two to three years, which may or may not be rare enough to deserve its cliche, “once in a blue Moon.”  You won’t find much lore about Blue Moons in ceremonial history. That’s because they’re man-made, not Moon made. Luna has never given us two Full Moons in one cycle and never will.  Blue Moons are simply a gift (or curse) of the Western calendar, which is alas, disconnected from the natural cycles of the Sun and Moon.

It’s a modern Moon holiday that actually arose out of a misunderstanding. One of the first to write about Blue Moons was James Hugh Pruett, who defined them in a 1946 article in Sky & Telescope as the second Full Moon in a month. The trouble is, his source was the Maine Farmers’ Almanac, which when fact-checked by Phillip Hiscock for a 1999 Sky & Telescope piece, revealed that Pruett had gotten it wrong. The Maine Farmers’ Almanac used the term to describe the fourth Full Moon in a season.  This is a different celestial event.  At least this definition is based on the natural calendar. Although I’m still not sure what we should make of having four Full Moons in a season instead of the usual three.

Honestly, the only reason I think the culture still cares about Blue Moons is that hauntingly beautiful Elvis song.  If there’s a sacred ceremony that’s appropriate for this lunar holiday, it should definitely include sitting in moonlight while playing that Elvis song. (And now, with so many digital resources, you have no reason not to.)

So, of this confused modern thing called a Blue Moon, you can make whatever you want. It’s a great excuse for a Moon watching party.  Just remember–the best way to make this or any Full Moon special is really quite simple. Just give yourself and the Moon some time and honest attention. If you missed the first Full Moon of this month, you get another chance to nourish yourself tonight. And that may be an especially good idea with Venus retrograde. Passions and confusion are easily roused these days.

The Moon is Full and Venus is retrograde—the perfect time to connect with your inner goddess. Try my “Your Venus Unleashed” report!  I’m running a retrograde special for $10 off 50+ pages about your Venus.  To get the discount, after you submit your name and birth data, you’ll reach the payment page. Select the $35 “Venus report for a friend” payment button on checkout.   Click here!

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It’s Leo time!

FridasCourage

Last week the royal Sun entered 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: 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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Venus is Retrograde!

Painting by Johanna Uribes.

Venus goes retrograde every eighteen months. During these six weeks everything that Venus rules-love, money, fertility, and creativity–is vulnerable to wild, ingenious, or deluded thinking.  Perhaps you need to shake things up a little.  Venus retrogrades can do just that. However, do be cautious with your investments. Consider big purchases with care. And don’t take relationships for granted.

Maybe you remember Bibi and Poldi, the tortoise couple who’d gotten along amicably for over a hundred years. People say that Bibi started it. Maybe she just wanted more out of her long life–but during the Venus retrograde of 2012, the two couldn’t stop bickering. Then  Bibi lunged at Poldi, taking a bite out of his shell. The experts at the Austrian Zoo were horrified. Supposedly such things rarely happen to long-term couples in the animal world. Zoo people counseled the turtles, fed them good mood aphrodisiacs, and tried to encourage more playfulness. But Bibi was determined to get away–and it seems from the Google search I just did that she succeeded.

Venus retrogrades can break up bickering relationships, start exciting new ones, and/or return former lovers to your life. These events may or may not be good things. The best defense is to know your Venus! Consider the needs in her natal sign and house. Venus is retrograde from July 25 through September 6 (0 Virgo to 14 Leo). If you know where her retro zone falls in your birth chart, you’ll find another clue about what this time means for you. Venus will  test the quality of your past decisions here.  And your happiness in this area acquires a new urgency. Your moods may swing–from sorrow to bliss to indignant fury. Visions of better things may dance in your head. But the point is always this one: you need more joy.

Venus is retrograde—the perfect time to get seriously playful with your inner goddess. Try Dana’s “Your Venus Unleashed” report.  From now until the next New Moon,  you can have 50+ pages of Venus inspiration for $10 off.  After you submit your name and birth data, you’ll reach the payment page. Select the $35 “Venus report for a friend” payment button. If you’d like to add a Moonprints to your Venus order, you can enjoy the “second report” discount ($35) for that one too.   Click here!

 

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Cancer New Moon: Call and Response

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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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Happy Birthday, Mooncircles!

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On the 15th day of July 2015,  we celebrate Mooncircles’ 15th birthday.  That means, on our little piece of the cloud, we’ve celebrated over 375 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, joy, and intuitive understanding to the world.

We launched on a Mercury retrograde near a solar eclipse.  I mention this to offer courage to anyone who finds they’re beginning something at a notoriously bad time.  Such a birth chart might have spelled our doom.  But the momentum for launching that summer was strong, so we embraced it consciously. We knew it would encourage us to keep making changes and keep growing beyond our vision, and, without losing our central theme, this is what we’ve done.

One ambitious plan that failed was hosting real-time Full Moon ceremonies–at the Full Moon moment–with participants around the world.  I don’t know if anyone ever did join us–but after a few months of these virtual ceremonies, even we lost interest in them. What worked was to offer bi-monthly space for wonderful voices, studying, cheering, and wondering about the Moon.

We continue to move in that direction. For the past year, I’ve been working on yet another “wing” for the site, a playground for calculating charts and learning astrology in an easy, intuitive way.   As always, taking such an idea into reality goes more slowly than I’d wish, but I’ll be delighted if in the meantime, you keep spending your Moons with us.

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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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Benefic Sky Show

astronomy,com

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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