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.

Saturn-in-Sag Success Strategy #1

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Saturn energizes success, and when he’s in Sagittarius, he especially supports those who act and think in Sagittarian ways.  Since Saturn calls us to “focus” and optimistic Sag delights in what’s “positive,” one fine and simple strategy for 2015 is to “Focus on the positive.”  Such an attitude can open us up. It can lead to new opportunities and life-changing adventures. If we can keep our spirits up for the duration of Saturn-in-Sag (roughly now through December 2017), our lives may take some wonderful turns.

And nothing focuses our eyes on what’s positive better than a Gratitude List.

Ugh. Not that! If you’re like me, you’ve done a zillion gratitude lists. Maybe you’ve even signed up for one of those “gratitude” email campaigns that somebody somewhere is always offering.  Two things about gratitude lists: 1) They work. 2) They’re easy to stop doing.  Perhaps you write your first list reluctantly. Your mind is blank. You force yourself to think of something–maybe it’s just sunshine or the blue sky that you’re grateful for. You have a roof over your head. Your Aunt Charlie is still cancer-free. You still have all your fingers and toes. It doesn’t take too long before something happens. After listing a few things you’re thankful for (it doesn’t matter what they are), your mood starts to shift. You begin feeling good about things!  And the better you feel, the less inclined you are to continue making gratitude lists.  Then the inevitable happens: you fall back into your usual self-movie, with its muttering soundtrack of complaints.

You’re not a bad person. You’re just equipped with a human brain. It’s designed to look for trouble. Its generally negative focus is an evolutionary advantage.  We look for what’s out of place. If the pot isn’t sitting properly on the window sill, its contents will spill.  It’s good that we notice such things.  But if the sky is sunny, there’s little new to learn, which is why our brains generally tilt us towards the negative.  That’s why Gratitude Lists are a such fine tool. They help to reboot our thinking. We don’t have to promise to become perpetually happy and grateful, but we do need to clean out the negativity from time to time. So use Gratitude Lists whenever you need them–when life gets too tight or hopeless, when you lose confidence or your zest for life. You don’t have to make a big deal about it. You don’t have to write a GL daily for forty-two days without fail.  You’re an adult, says Saturn.  And a free one at that, says Sag. List what you’re grateful for whenever you decide you need that balance. And know that whenever you do over the next three years, Saturn will be watching with a smile.

What else does Saturn (and the other planets) want from you this year? Find out by checking your transits and progressions with a Skylog report!

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Saturn in Sagittarius: Your Growth Coach for 2015

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Does Saturn ever smile? That old grump just might in Sagittarius. After his passage through deep and serious Scorpio,  he’s ready to lighten up.  We all are. Since late 2012 we’ve all been slogging through Scorpio, for as Saturn goes, so goes the culture.  This is important news, because if you want to succeed in any year, you need to practice the virtues of whatever sign Saturn is transiting.  For the past two years, success meant going to the underworld. We’ve had to look at truths not easily discussed in “polite” society: the realities of racism, rape, inequality, brutality, entitlement, and greed.  We’ve seen the videos (an unconscious female being raped, an unarmed man beaten to death, another shot just for showing his driver’s license to the cops). We’ve heard the testimonies of women and children brutalized by violence and war.

If you haven’t been deeply outraged about something in the past two years, likely you haven’t been paying attention. We’ve had to accept new losses in privacy, call good people on bad behavior, and grieve when innocence is once more abducted and nothing seems to change. We’ve had to grapple with our shadow and face futures that scare us. Maneuvering through Scorpio is like going through a long dark tunnel. We can only hope there’s some light at the end.

There is. It’s the light that comes from Sagittarius—the expansive and optimistic fire sign that follows Scorpio—for good reason. After swimming through so much darkness, we need to lift our spirits. We need to rediscover our ideals. We need to start aspiring again. Otherwise, we’ll never build that better world we’ve so clearly seen we need. When a planet shifts from Scorpio to Sag, the collective mood brightens. The world grows bigger, more inviting. Adventures beckon. We’re willing to sign up for new subjects. It feels like we can breathe again.

“Don’t worry, be happy” sang Bobby McFerrin the last time Saturn was in Sagittarius (beginning Nov. 1985, ending Nov. 1988). Future culture guru and publisher, Oprah, debuted on national TV. Saturn-in-Scorpio introduced us to DNA fingerprinting (of course). But in the sign of the gypsy wanderer, Saturn oversaw our first disposable cameras, pocket calculators, Game Boys and laptops–ideal toys for “doing our thing” on the road. Of course there were disasters (the Challenger explosion and Chernobyl) and scandals (religious gurus Swaggart and Bakker fell). During his Sag transit, Saturn tests all areas that Sagittarius rules: religion, higher education, the law, politics, marketing, travel and publishing. Where there is weakness or hypocrisy, Saturn will call it out.  That’s already happening.

When religious extremists massacred the staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo earlier this month, the world was shocked and galvanized. Old debates reignited: Does religion lead to violence? Should writers provoke and publish whatever they want? Such questions have Saturn-in-Sagittarius’ fingerprints, er, pencil, all over them.  The pencil is an odd symbol to act as lightning rod–but it’s made of Saturn materials, wood and lead, and it signifies a most important Sagittarian virtue: freedom of expression. Of course, Saturn is testing for “truth” in Sag.  Hypocrisy won’t fly. Many of those quick to say “Je suis Charlie Hebdo” are being called on their intolerance–defending some people’s freedom to speak even as they still deny it to others.

Saturn brings trouble wherever he goes. It’s really our trouble, but he likes to rub our noses in it. He’s a “tough love” guy, but he does love us. He wants us to learn from our mistakes. Even so, I’ve noticed that he does seem to be at his most benevolent when wearing Sagittarian robes. Astrology tradition says he’s neither “ruling” nor “exalted”in this sign, which means he doesn’t possess any special powers. Still, I think he kind of does. His seriousness adds ballast to our Sag enthusiasms. If we respect Saturn’s virtues, like patience, accountability, and hard work, we’ll find it’s easier to direct the centaur’s hooves and focus the archer’s arrow. With Saturn’s help we can actually accomplish our wild Sagittarian dreams.

So if something is stirring in you… some sense of a near-future adventure, pay attention. Success will come from stretching yourself now in Sagittarian directions. Take Saturn as your growth coach. You will see a great reward!

Throughout 2015 I’ll be offering Saturn-in-Sag tips on my blog. Here’s my Sag-in-Saturn Success Strategy #1!

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3 Minute New Moon Ritual

Ritual: Aquarius 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 Aquarius is gathering in your circle. It is inventive and unconventional. It can be detached and rational as a scientist and as passionately involved as a revolutionary. It works for the good of all even as it honors the unique gifts of the self. Inspired by its ruling planet Uranus, Aquarius is interested in shaking up whatever has grown stale or too traditional. Let yourself feel its electric energy tremoring at the core of your being. Let it shake you up and turn you toward inspired new directions.

  • I treasure what’s unique about me.
  • I regularly nourish myself with
    new and unusual ideas.
  • I’ve got the courage to revolutionize my life.
  • I delight in the whole human race.
  • I attract people and situations that
    take me to exciting frontiers.
  • I know how to appreciate my special genius.
  • I love opportunities that come
    in unexpected ways.
  • I appreciate my wide community of friends.

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 Aquarius New Moon message on your altar.


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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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Become a Moon sign virtuoso in 2015

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When one of my yoga mates learned I was an astrologer, she said “I used to plant by the Moon and I got great results. Then I stopped paying attention. I fell out of sync until my friend Judy shared an exciting secret.  For years Judy used Moon signs to guide her plantings, but now, she plants on any day she wants and swears she gets the same results.” Her secret? She just calls in the energy of the moist and fertile water Moons (the best days for planting) no matter what the day’s Moon sign actually is.

Judy is right! This is one of the gifts of working with the Moon over time: like a musician who’s practiced notes and scales, you eventually get to improvise.  You’re training yourself to become a virtuoso in the instruments of energy and time. This necessarily begins as an observational practice. You must study the changes each Moon sign brings. And this can’t be dull book study: it must be lively, fun, receptive, compassionate, and changeable as the Moon herself. With gentle or diligent practice–your choice–you will eventually improve and refine your sensitivities, until you discover this simple trick: You can “summon” the vibrational changes you need.

I imagine what Judy did is similar to what I do when summoning a planting Moon: I attune myself to the common vibration in Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces (it’s something liquid, dark, and rich); then, in imagination I mingle this with the plant’s roots, stem, and leaves.  In other words, I can evoke the benefits of a good planting Moon on a bad one. Adepts who work with the energetics of food use a similar practice: by holding a wilted carrot and then drawing in the highest potential of a fresh carrot, you can convert the tired carrot into one that’s more vital. The point is that at each moment the world is always alive with possibilities.

The Moon helps us to recognize that we live in a sea of shifting vital energy. She also gives us a means for working with these vibrations. That’s the point of her apprenticeship program. Through her, we learn to recognize the changing nature of energy in time, a nuance that clocks and calendars can’t indicate. Moon signs are like decoder rings or the Rosetta Stone. They help us to translate our nonverbal inklings of the day’s energy into something more specific, tangible, and predictable. As we grow more familiar with the frequencies, we get to play. The reward for Moon adepts is a gift for “flow,” for knowing when to pause, leap, or draw down a little magic. It’s a wonderful skill that’s fun to learn.

Want to start your virtuoso training? Just visit our “Today’s Moon” link and at least once or twice a week, make the connection between our Moon sign pointers and your actual experience that day.  If you’d like to go deeper, do try my Moon-nourishing workshop.  Make 2015 your year with the Moon!

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Water Moon Detoxifier

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Here’s a nice New Year’s tip: give something in your home or in your life a deep cleanse during this Full Moon. Nothing is more nourishing than a Full Moon in a water sign—as is the case this week, with the Full Moon in Cancer. It’s awesome for planting (those in the Southern Hemisphere can take advantage) and deep cleansing (cupboards, clothes, the skin, or the kitchen floor). It’s great for healing (the cells of the body absorb nourishing potions more readily now).  You can also run it through your thoughts–especially if these have become stale with boredom, anger or fear.

If you are feeling tired and a bit off balance this week, a water Full Moon can sometimes increase your emotional or energetic confusion. Bodies can bloat. 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 the measurement of your thighs, arms and waist.  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. This is a perfect amount of time to close your eyes and contemplate the inner Full Moon.

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3 Minute New Moon Ritual

Ritual: Capricorn 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 Capricorn is gathering in your circle. It is organized, responsible, and productive. The sign of leadership, Capricorn is decisive. It takes initiative and boldly gets down to work. This is the best sign for accomplishing your goals. Capricorn is the archetypal King, grounded in earth’s power and fulfilling the destiny written in the sky. Continue absorbing its energy as you read Capricorn’s affirmations.

  • My decisions are sensible
    and for the greater good.
  • I am disciplined and highly competent.
  • I climb mountains, one step at a time.
  • I always use time wisely.
  • I am well-respected and successful.
  • I’m not getting older-I’m getting better
    and having more fun!
  • I am disciplined. I know how to bring order
    to any messy situation.
  • I am the King people love to follow.

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 Capricorn New Moon message on your altar.


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It’s a Solstice New Moon

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Last night I ate a heavier meal than usual. This morning I slept in. Later I won’t go to the gym as I usually do. It’s Solstice time. The Sun appears to be standing still as it slowly turns to go back along the horizon line (moving north or south, depending on your hemisphere). We should stand still too–or at least pause in our usual busyness. We are shifting into a new season and it’s the Capricorn New Moon, a perfect time to reflect on the end of 2014 and the beginning of a new year.

Many people tend to get sick during Solstice week, but we don’t need to pause that way. Rather, we can follow the body’s subtle or insistent promptings to slow, tune inward, and when ready, reach out to reconnect with the wheeling planet. Freshly centered within ourselves, we can enjoy the profound delights of sensing the air, listening to the wind through the trees, and watching for new flight patterns among the birds. Something in the body wants to do this; it’s ancient, powerful, and pleasurable. Some people like to sit in meditation on Solstice. Others perform ceremony and ritual. Some buy new journals, others select goals for the season, some light candles, others take walks in the park. It doesn’t particularly matter what you do on Solstice. It’s the spirit with which you do it that brings the magic.

The Solstice is a bright jewel on the year’s necklace. Wear it with joy this week.

Let the Moon guide you in 2015!   Join my monthly Moon workshop this month and discover your personal number for 2015 along with many other goodies.

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Call in Capricorn

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It’s another New Moon: when the magically minded make wishes. The seeds you plant 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 visit your cranky Uncle Gerald, he’s got little motivation to put you in his will. New Moons are potent times to forge alliances with the gods. Humans have been rendezvousing with these archetypes for thousands of years. When you call out to the gods, they do respond!

Calling Capricorn

Think of a solitary mountain goat, deftly leaping from stone to stone, in the high altitudes, while below, lies the vast snowy theater of the world. This New Moon become the goat. And let your life be the breath-taking, intricate, and treacherous mountain. Your focus? Keeping your balance, of course!

According to the Austrian philosopher-clairvoyant Rudolf Steiner, balance is the psycho-physical sense we must develop in Capricorn. When we steady ourselves, we steady the world. If we slip and free fall, the world goes spinning. The alliance you forge with Capricorn now can strengthen your footing for the entire year. Capricorn is a climber, inspired by high goals. But nothing is gained without first achieving balance on the terrain immediately beneath your feet. Tune into the earth. Let your balance be a conversation between you and the benevolent forces whispering, “Step here next!’”

Capricorn may be the archetypal impetus behind New Year’s resolutions too—though it’s easy to hate this tradition. Too often our annual resolutions are driven by a quick slurp of Capricorn’s draught. Made hastily, emotionally, preposterously, they’re often the set-up for failure and disappointment. I’ve heard the most successful resolutions are not made on New Year’s Eve. Rather they evolve over time, developing from a commitment that’s strong on the inside and well-planned on the outside. That’s the formula for good Capricorn structures!

Years ago I had an astrology reading in which the astrologer forecast my personal month-by-month agenda.  “In January,” she said, “get organized and get down to business.”  Later I realized she’d done nothing more complicated than describe the essence of Capricorn. Simple as it was, her advice worked well—and this month I offer it to you. Perhaps a plan is already taking shape in your mind. After all, you’ve had to roll up your sleeves and get to work many times. And based on your Ascendant (how you begin activities) or the house where Capricorn falls in your chart (where you’re prone to direct effort), your plan may sound a lot like plans you’ve hatched before. Funny how that works. Unfortunately this misses the fun of each Capricorn New Moon, when each new line-up of planets suggests new and unexpected ways of playing the Capricorn game.  Surprise yourself by getting down to business creatively. Follow the cues on your mountain, like an agile goat, sensing where to leap next.

Capricorn rules bones too. Where would you be without your skeleton! Could you get out of bed or pick up a glass of water without it? Honor Capricorn structures this cycle. Thank the framework of the buildings you enter. Bow to the decision-makers who hold together the details of your world. Honor your parents. Leave gifts for your mentors and ancestors.

Capricorn’s Response

Waiting for the response is the fun part. No way can I predict it for you. One year, on a walk during the Capricorn cycle, a real goat came out of nowhere. Nipping at my dog, the lively goat followed us back to our house! Then, also from nowhere, a smiling white-haired woman appeared and said, “I know where this fellow belongs.” And she took him away, thank goodness. Pay special attention to encounters with old wise ones now—in the forest, at the grocery store, in your dreams. Notice the earth spirits. If you’re sensitive, you may hear a message in a rock. Most of all, be alert for that moment when Capricorn’s spirit enters you—like an alpine wind driving off the mountain—and you feel yourself freshly motivated to take charge of your life!

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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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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