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

The Moon and the Rhythms of Life

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Cancer is a water sign and old as the Moon is the ocean, earth’s watery womb and source of life. The Moon measures out the ebb and flow of the ocean’s tides. To move instinctively with the rise and fall—the emptiness and fullness—of life’s cycles is the basis of Feminine wisdom. The inner knowledge of nature’s rhythms is the key to life.  Of course, the ocean’s tides are not observed in her depths—but at the coastal edge where land meets sea. Our own moods often rise and fall at the edge between our body’s experience and our psyche’s. Where these two meet we can observe the inner tides, also called forth by the pull of the Moon.

Seascape Meditation

To experience the rhythms of the sea as they are shaped by the Moon, imagine that you are lying on a remote, sandy beach. It is dawn, and a silvery moon is descending into the horizon. The hushed roar of the ocean permeates the air, filling your ears with the sound of creation. The air is pungent with the smell of seaweed and saltwater. It is the gentle hour of the ebb tide, and as it seeps in beneath your body, you feel cradled in the loving arms of the ocean. Lifted up off the sand, your body rises and falls with the waves. Your breath becomes synchronized with the waves; you inhale and exhale in tune to the motion of the sea.

As the ebb tide recedes further and further from the periphery of land, you, too, are drawn away with it. Carried away from the coastline, you find that you have floated far into the trackless vastness of the ocean. Here, in contrast to the waves crashing on the beach, all is calm, still, and endlessly peaceful. For awhile, you float peacefully on the silver mirror of the sea. Imagine next that you are pulled down into the watery depths, where you become immersed in the ocean of life – the Mother of the Earthly world. Creatures teem about you in this aquamarine universe; fish of all shapes and sizes, plants and underwater mountain ranges. After your underwater sojourn, the ocean returns you to its surface, where the waves, pulled by an immense force, begin the long journey of returning you to land.

Now you find yourself riding the high tide towards the horizon. Above you, dusk has fallen, and the moon has risen above the horizon. On the fullness of the high tide, you are carried on the foamy, moonlit waves toward the beach. Thrown up on the sand like a shell or a piece of driftwood, you feel shaped smooth by the moon and ocean: made whole by the rhythms of the sea, and made wise by the knowledge that beneath the chaos and flux of everyday life, lies a deep, invisible intelligence.

Gemini Meditation: Your Wisdom Voice

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Our spirit guide for Gemini’s New Moon journey is Mercury. This trickster god of small talk, idle speculation, and airy fantasies has another, deeper side. Known to the Greeks as Hermes, and to the Egyptians as Thoth, he is the god of wisdom, the inventor of writing and commerce, also the primary guide for travelers, including the dead who journey to the underworld. In the Tarot, he is pictured as the Magician. Mercury is the divine designer of alchemy, symbolized by his staff, the cadeucus, which transforms everything it touches into gold.

Mercury is also the son of the Moon, indicated by the crescent Moon atop his astrological glyph. His sacred task is taking us to the depths, so that we might return with a life-giving message of truth and wisdom. Soul talk, not small talk, is his real passion and that’s where he’ll lead you this month, should you care to follow.

To tune into the voice of wisdom at this Gemini New Moon, begin by filtering out the static that fills the air waves of our digital age. Imagine that you have returned to a time when the only sounds are those of nature-the wind blowing, water splashing, crickets chirping, and the deep solitude of a forest glen. Creating such a space is like stepping into a sunlit clearing in the midst of the overgrown forest of your life.

Hidden within this sacred chamber of nature, you find that your ability to hear grows keener. As you listen, scattered bird calls begin to sound like a musical arrangement. Rustling tree branches seem to be whispering words in your ear. The wind sighing sends signals that penetrate to your deepest layers. All of nature is like a holy being seeking to impart meaning. The universe, it seems, is trying to communicate with you.

Then, imagine that you hear a voice speaking directly to your soul. Like the voice who spoke to Job through the whirlwind, or the Greek oracle who, possessed by the spirit of Apollo, uttered parables of wisdom, the voice that speaks is the intelligence of the universe seeking to give you a message. You are the question; the voice is the answer. Whether in words, or an implicit sense of wordless knowing, this voice articulates truths to a question you have long pondered. Suddenly, you understand; understanding, your mind becomes transformed-clear as a light dawning, a sun rising.

As you sit within this chamber, continue to savor the wisdom imparted to you by the universe. Immerse yourself in the echoed reverberations emanating from the voice that has spoken. Like a precious keepsake, you vow to keep its imprint within your heart—a holy text to contemplate when life makes no sense or you are lost at a crossroads. Then, you will know to grow still and listen to the voice of wisdom that speaks both within and without to the listening ears of your soul.

Taurus Meditation: A Ceremonial Ritual of Sacrifice

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No astrological sign is more grounded than sensual and security-loving Taurus. But these obvious traits obscure a more esoteric dimension to Taurus. In the pre-Christian world, for instance, religious ceremonies often revolved around rituals of sacrifice. Bulls, the animal associated with Taurus, were commonly used in these ancient rites.  Consecrated to the moon-goddess, the bull’s blood was sprinkled on stone altars and used in rituals of baptism and purification.

Few modern-day seekers would find meaning in the literal sacrifice of a living animal. But reflecting on the archetypal symbolism of ceremonial sacrifice yields rich insights. The archetype of sacrifice teaches that there is wisdom in giving something up in order to make room for the creative spirit of the new. It teaches that we cannot do or be all things at once.  This esoteric principle is fundamental to being “grounded”—the essence of Taurus. Paring down and stripping away limits us-but at the same time gives structure and shape to our free-form spirits.

Thus this Taurus new moon is a cosmically ordained time to create a ceremonial ritual of sacrifice. To begin your ritual, assess your life and determine what part of your inner character or outer life simply “needs to go.” Unlike banishing something unwanted, the ritual of sacrifice involves relinquishing something that is meaningful or important to us. You may find, for instance, that giving up your extroverted social life is necessary in order to bring forth some creative project. Or, it may be that you need to forswear your love of seclusion in order to allow a relationship to blossom. You may truly appreciate spending money on books, but need to sacrifice that in favor of an acupuncture treatment.  Making a sacrifice is a form of emotional ecology. By practicing principles of conservation in how we live our lives, we cultivate a healthier inner ecosystem.

After you have determined that part of your life that needs sacrificing, choose a spirit animal that symbolizes your choice. Our inner, human nature, the ancients realized, reflects the living realm of outer nature. A bird, for example, might stand for that part of you that loves getting together with friends. A  bull might signify the side of you that is assertive to the point of dominating the more sensitive, empathic side of yourself or others. A dove may embody the peaceloving part of you that prevents confrontation.  A cow may signify the part of you that is overly nurturing to the detriment of your professional life. A fox might symbolize your wily street smarts that has obscured the more innocent part of your soul.

Next, imagine that you are facing your spirit animal. Pay tribute to the creature before you, honoring its positive gifts. Then explain your reasons why it must leave and give voice to the new dimension it is being sacrificed for. After you have blessed your spirit animal, imagine that you have released it into freedom, whether through opening a gate, letting it fly into the air, or seeing it rejoin its wild peers. This may not be forever, but for a portion of time, until you are ready to welcome that part of your nature back into your life.

At first, you may feel grief at letting go of a cherished part of yourself. You may also feel touched by the love of the animal that has sacrificed itself for your sake. Gradually, however, you begin to feel the spacious opening that has been created through making this spirit sacrifice. There is room now within your soul for the birth of the new and the uprising of an  unexpected and unexplored part of yourself.  Finally, give thanks to the moon, give thanks to the realm of nature and all living creatures, and last, acknowledge the sacred principle of sacrifice and its usefulness in our everyday lives.

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 Dana’s Moon workshop (by snail-mail or email). It’s designed to deepen your relationship with the guardians of natural time, the Sun, the Moon, the zodiac… and you!

Aries Energy Meditation

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Energy: Where to find it, how to grow it, how to conserve it, and how to channel it: that is the spiritual task for this month’s New Moon in the sign of impulsive and life-loving Aries. As all true magicians know, the secret of magic lies in the skillful use of one’s life energy-for where we choose to put our energy is a powerful force that shapes our lives.

To begin your meditation on energy, settle yourself into a reflective meditative pose. Allow your breath to become still and even. Let your mind follow the rhythm of your breathing, becoming calm and detached from everyday worries and concerns. From this perspective, observe your energy level. Are you tired and drained, or brimming with enthusiasm? Or, are you somewhere in between, enjoying a stable and consistent level of energy?

After you have ascertained your individual energy level, examine where and how you use your energy. To do this, imagine that you are sitting beside a river, watching your life flow past you. Reflect upon the events that fill your days. Take note of how you spend your time. Where is your physical energy going? Cleaning house, taking care of kids, dancing, sitting in front of a computer or driving long hours in a car? Observe your emotional energy-is it directed toward a negative relationship, a child you are raising, or drawn down by a deep-seated psychological issue? In the same way, take note of what gets the lion’s share of your mental energy, whether a demanding job, money worries, or a creative project. Likewise, examine where your spiritual energy is absorbed-do you have time in your life to pray, dream, or reflect, or do your soul needs take a back seat to the daily stresses of everyday life?

Now that you have reviewed your life with an eye to where your energy goes, consciously decide what in your life is either a negative or positive use of your energy. You may be tired, but for a good, creative cause. Or, you may have high energy levels that are being funneled into meeting someone else’s demands. Next, determine whether your energy is funelled into fulfilling the kind of destiny you have imagined for yourself, or whether it is being diverted into activities or relationships that are leeching you of precious life force. Discriminate between the healthy use of energy that opens up new paths to adventure, or the negative use of energy that leads down a dead end road.

Now, consciously and masterfully direct your energy toward your life vision for yourself. First, as you breathe in, inhale the life force that pervades the universe. Feel filled with energy; let your cells dance with animation and vitality. At the same time, experience the new life stirring beneath the surface of the earth-the green shoots thrusting up through the cold ground, and the insects hatching from sleep. Let the joy of springtime and new beginnings fill your heart with the energy of creation. Then, as you exhale, breathe this energy into those areas of your life that you have chosen. See a child growing to maturity; imagine the book that is finally written. Watch a garden blossom, a job expand, understanding deepen, or a relationship flourish.

Whatever it is, remember-you are the magician of your own life. Wherever you choose to put your precious energy, there magic-black or white, positive or negative-will happen. With the Aries New Moon, life begins anew all over again.

Aquarius Meditation: The Lightning Bolt

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The Aquarius New Moon is a cosmically ordered moment to shake loose the restrictions that limit us from fulfilling our potentials.  It is a time to set the world on fire, symbolically speaking — to take risks, rather than remain safe. Look to your individual astrological chart to the house with Uranus in it, or that is ruled by the sign of Aquarius, to see where the trickster god might be hurtling lightning bolts and overturning entrenched convictions. With Uranus, it is out with the old — and in with the new.

CHANNELLING THE LIGHTNING BOLT OF TRANSFORMATIONAL ENERGY

In order to channel Uranus’ lightning-like energy in a way that creatively reconfigures, rather than negatively destroys, imagine yourself in a place where you have felt most stuck. Maybe you are limited by lack of financial resources; perhaps you are blocked in love. It might be that you are restricted by a job you have outgrown. Or, your creativity might be stifled by doubt, or your relationship with a loved one might be at a dead end. Whatever it is, picture that situation as a darkened room that you can’t see your way out of.

Now, imagine that this room is suddenly illuminated by a flash of lightning-crackling with energy, sizzling the airwaves with heat, this bolt from the skies lights up every corner and crevice. Suddenly, the narrow perspectives that have limited you are revealed.  Another crack of lightning, and doors, windows, and archways appear. Through the openings they provide you glimpse large rooms filled with beautiful and unusual furniture and art. Outside the open windows, endless vistas roll toward distant horizons.

Catapulted into a visionary landscape teeming with colors, shapes, and structures, your mind feels electrified with insight and clarity; you are flooded with creative ideas. Your whole body tingles with light; your very cells are luminous with awareness. What had been dark, now melts in the glow of understanding. New patterns and possibilities that you had never considered before emerge into the light of your newly expanded consciousness. Brilliant solutions to your problems arise.

As you sit in this state of awakened intelligence, savor the miracle of creation. Receive into your soul the magnetic life force permeating the universe. And wake up to your true, limitless nature as a divine creature of the infinite cosmos.