Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Moon Families

I haven’t written anything for a week, nor have I had any ideas to do so, which is quite interesting as Mercury has just changed direction, and Mercury (along with Uranus) is the patron saint of blogging. So that’s worth paying attention to if you write, because you are likely to enter a new mini-phase every time Mercury changes direction, which is six times a year, and don’t be surprised if it sometimes takes a while to get a flow going. Mercury Retrograde stops after 3 weeks, but the whole process of repeating the places he’s been over and starting afresh takes about 2 months. If you look at the recent period, he retrograded to 20 Sag on 29 Dec, where he’d previously been on 23rd Nov. When he started going backwards on 10th Dec, he was at 6 Capricorn, which he won’t reach again till 18th Jan. That’s 2 months. So that’s about half the year that changeable Mercury spends shapeshifting!


The transits to your chart from the outer planets describe the bigger transformations that are going on/have gone on in your life. And the progressions describe the phases, often lasting years, that you are living through.

Specific events within these transits/progressions can often be timed by the New Moons that form a conjunction with a major point in your chart. If for example you have say natal Sun or Ascendant at 15 Aries, and there is a New Moon within a couple of degrees of that, then that is likely to be a significant time for you. In the same way that a New Moon is a beginning, so too can something new begin in your life. (At a New Moon, incidentally, the Sun and Moon in the sky are in the same place, in this case 15 Aries, sitting on your natal Sun or Ascendant.)

I was at the Exeter Astrology group the other night, and Ed Gillam gave a presentation on Dietrech Pessin’s work on ‘Moon Families’, which expands on this idea of New Moons timing significant events. I found the basic idea very interesting.

New Moons occur in 3 year cycles, so that both 3 years before and after our New Moon at 15 Aries (ish), there will also have been a New Moon around 15 Aries. You'll often find that one of these 3 year periods - or sometimes both - was pretty pivotal in your life, probably the one where the 2 New Moons have the tightest orbs to (in this case) your Sun or Asc. These New Moons gradually drift backwards by a few degrees every 3 years, so that quite quickly they are too far off to be significant.

It’s sounding complicated already, so I’ll give an example. My Asc is at 29 Leo. There was a New Moon at 29 Leo in August 1979. And then one at 26 Leo in August 1982. This was a period in which I moved from one life to another, from being at University, and not quite sure why I was there (like many students!) to getting involved with a Buddhist lifestyle and friends and values that constituted an entirely different life for me.

Interestingly, the immediately preceding cycle, from August 1976 to August 1979, was also close to my Ascendant, with the 1976 New Moon at 2 Virgo being just 2 degrees away. And this was also a period in which I moved from one life to another: in August 1976, I was just finishing 10 years at boarding school, which had effectively become my life. 3 years later I was a different person, having rejected all the main values surrounding my upbringing and searching for an entirely different direction.

With natal Pluto conjunct Asc, and natal Sun opposite Pluto, and nodal Scorpio, this sort of death and rebirth is inevitably part of my life from time to time, and the New Moon-Ascendant cycle has proved very good at timing this.

There is plenty more to unpack about these cycles. I have so far just mentioned the 3 year cycle as the New Moon repeats itself at significant points in your chart (though occurring a few degrees earlier at the end of the cycle than at the beginning.)

There is also a 19 year cycle which is exact to within a day or so. So my New Moon at 29.01 Leo on 22nd Aug 1979 was repeated 19 years later on 22nd August 1998 at 28.48 Leo. And guess what? August 1998 found me beginning another new life, the Buddhist one having come apart at the seams, and it took 3 years to establish, almost exactly. (The immediately preceding cycle, from 1995-8, also had this quality of fundamental shift, but less obviously so.)

So for me, the pattern has been of 2 of these 3 year cycles happening consecutively on my Asc, with the emphasis of the first cycle being an inner transformation of values and outlook, and the emphasis of the second cycle being on the complete transformation of my life in accordance with that inner revolution. And this has happened twice, 19 years apart.

The 3 year cycle itself is divided into 4 phases, and in a way I should have started with this, because it is basic to the whole idea. But then you can get confused before you’ve even started! These 4 phases occur at 9 month intervals (which is why Dietrech Pessin calls this pattern the ‘Lunar Gestation Cycle’). And they can time remarkably accurately the unfoldment of a theme, from seed idea or impulse through to completion.

This is how it works. If there is a New Moon at 15 Aries, then 9 months later there will be a quarter Moon, remarkably at the same degree: Moon at 15 Aries (ish) square to the Sun at 15 Capricorn (1/4 of the way round the zodiac from the initial Sun at 15 Aries). 9 months after that, there will be a Full Moon, again at the same degree: Moon at 15 Aries opposite the Sun at 15 Libra. And then 9 months after that, we have another quarter Moon, with the Moon at 15 Aries square the Sun at 15 Cancer. The cycle is completed 9 months later with a New Moon at 15 Aries (all give or take a degree or two.)

Time for an example. I’ll choose someone we all know, who is not quite as popular as he used to be, Barack Obama. His Ascendant is at 18 Aquarius, and I’m going to look at the period from Feb 2008 to Feb 2011. The degrees aren’t quite as tight as I’d like (the earlier 3 year cycle was a bit tighter), but we have good info in this one, and it began quite remarkably with an eclipse at 18 Aquarius in Feb 2008, heightening the significance of the cycle.

Obama’s decision to run for the Presidency was part of the previous cycle, and the eclipse was the culmination of that cycle, as well as the beginning of the new one. One month earlier he had won his first primary in Iowa in his campaign to be the Democratic candidate. So the first practical step, the first necessary achievement in becoming President was there, which is that you start actually winning primaries. This is the New Moon phase, the first step.

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Fast forward 9 months to the 1st quarter, the opening square, of the cycle, with Sun at 14 Scorpio square Moon at 14 Aquarius on 6th Nov 2008. 2 days earlier he had won the Presidency. The opening square of a cycle is always dynamic, as the initial idea/theme bursts into action.

9 months later in August 2009 we have the Full Moon phase, with the Sun opposite the Moon at 14 Leo/Aquarius. It is the Summer to the opening square’s Spring, when you are at a peak. Healthcare Reform had always been Obama’s top domestic priority, and 3 weeks before this Full Moon his 1000 page plan was first introduced to Congress. Then in early May 2010 there was the closing square of the 3 year cycle with the Sun at 16 Taurus and the Moon at 16 Aquarius. This is the autumn, a time of fruition, of harvesting what you have sown and fought for. A month earlier, at the end of March, Obama’s Healthcare Bill was signed into law.

We have not had the next New Moon yet, which will be on Feb 3 2011, but we have already had its signifying event, which was the installation of a new Congress on 4th Jan, one which will be against Obama rather than for him, and most likely making the legislative victories of his first 2 years unrepeatable. This New Moon signifies the end of that period. It does not open up a new cycle, for the Aquarian New Moon in 3 years time will be at 11 degrees, too far off his Asc to be a significant cycle. Well, a lot of astrologers would say that, and I’ve probably already offended them with my 4 degrees off for Obama’s 2008-11 cycle, but when it comes to orbs I’m a bit of a wide boy! Let’s see if the next 3 years works as a cycle or not.

As I said, there is also the 19 year cycle at the end of which the 3 year cycle is repeated at the same New Moon degree. And you would expect a common theme. So for Obama, there would have been a 3 year New Moon cycle from Feb 1989 to Feb 1992 that also conjoined his Asc. It is hard to get exact info on this period, but during it he was elected as first black President of the Harvard Law Review, just as 19 years later he was elected first black President of the USA.

Natally, Barack Obama has Uranus conjunct North Node in Leo, so being a mould-breaker, being highly individual, is essential to who he is. The North Node describes the deeper patterns, our destiny if you like, if we are up for change and progress. And in Obama’s case, the New Moon/Ascendant cycles both activated his North Node. Just as they activated my own North Node in Scorpio. Which you’d kind of expect, because the North Node is a combination of Lunar and Solar principles.

Along with the MC, the Ascendant is one of the 2 main points in the chart through which we connect with the world. The planets themselves have more of an inner emphasis. So in many cases the Ascendant is going to be what is most visible in someone and most obviously connected with the events in their lives. The New Moon cycles undoubtedly affect e.g. the natal Sun and Moon just as much as they affect the Ascendant, but I suspect that on average the cycle to the Ascendant is more easily discernible. The Ascendant, of course, brings its own problems as it is so closely tied to ascertaining an accurate time of birth.

On the other hand, the New Moon cycles could well be used as a means of rectification. For myself, my own Ascendant is rectified from an original placement in Virgo, and the fact that the New Moon/Ascendant cycle worked so brilliantly has strengthened the case for my Asc at 29 Leo – within a couple of degrees, of course.
I want to re-emphasise at this point the 9 month intervals, the phases of the Moon, that occur within the 3 year cycle, because they can time events so well, and help us understand the particular process we are undergoing. In the case of Obama, the timing of the phases shows that his ascent to the Presidency had a strong element of wanting to transform America. And that the earlier cycle, from 89 to 92, when he was president of the Harvard Law Review, therefore probably also had a similar element: getting himself in a position where he could actually change something in a mould-breaking sort of way.

The idea for these Moon Familes (what I seem to be calling New Moon Cycles) came from an American telephone astrologer, Dietrech Pessin, who noticed that there were often 9-month intervals between people ringing her, and that they often started a cycle of consultations around a New Moon. The issue would then unfold over the next 2 and ½ years, through to the fruition of the closing square. But don’t quote me on that, because I haven’t read her book Lunar Shadows III ~ The Predictive Power of Moon Phases and Eclipses .

It is remarkable that the human gestation period is 9 months, that the Moon has these 9 month phases of unfoldment, and that bigger patterns in human life should unfold according to the same timing. It suggests that for humans, at any rate, pregnancy is even more intimately tied to the Moon than we might have thought. And it suggests that, astrology apart, we are hard-wired to live and unfold according to the ebb and flow of the gravitational influence of the Moon: it’s not just about lunatics and women’s mysteries!

Astrology included, the Moon becomes a profound cyclical principle that describes our lives on a monthly basis in its complete circuit of the zodiac, particularly through the lunar return; and on a 3 yearly basis, shifting forward every 9 months, when we apply it to the points in our chart which have been affected by New Moons over the previous 3 years (and there may be several.) Furthermore, each of these 3 year cycles (of which there would be up to 11: 7 personal planets and 4 Angles) will recur every 19 years, creating repeated patterns of development that build during the course of our lives.

NB 19 years looks rather like 18.6 years, which is the period that the North Node takes to circle the zodiac. They are different numbers, however. It wouldn't surprise me if there is a relationship, but I for one can't get my head around it!

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Karen said...

My Sun is 29 degrees 22/8/1969 must admit to looking forward to a life change especially in the wacky UK at the moment. Very inspiring article, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Does Saturn run in a 19 year cycle? I don't know too much astrology but I feel the 19 years(or a bit less, like say 18.6 years)seems like a pattern in my life. It fits in with my own personnal disaster at 18-19 years old until trying to be redeemed at the next 19 year cycle. I feel my life has moved in this 19yr. cycle so maybe I need to investigate this 3 year one. Thanks for illuminating this for me. Jenni-OMG

kishore ghildiyal said...

good article

Kenna J said...

What is your method for finding when the New Moon occurred at a particular degree? Do you just thumb through your ephemeris?

Barry Goddard said...

Yes, at the appropriate month. So New Moon in Cancer is always in June or July depending on the degree.

Kenna J said...

Ah! Thank you. That simplifies it.

Ilse said...

Very interesting article! Thanks for sharing this with us. - Ilse -

Anonymous said...

I stumbled into this website through a link from an astrology forum and I would like to express how impressive this body of work is. You are quite talented.

Anonymous said...

Mystery solved: I wondered why the larger themes of my life seemed to be in 3-year cycles! I could not associate it with a planet, and asteroids are too irregular. Thanks for the clarification!!

Kenna J said...

I agree with Anonymous. You're really something.

Mata Mel said...

fascinating! I've just looked at new moons to my sun, so far (sun in Libra squaring the mid-point of 5th house saturn/jupiter conjunction in Cap). Not, surprising, I guess, I'm finding lots of references to my pets during the phase events. (I keep date books/calendars & use them as reference). Turns out, I'm in the middle of a 3yr cycle that began Oct, 2009. My wise old cat died just a few days before the new moon. The cycles have tightly corresponded with other significant events, and several themes are emerging. Now, on to an examination of the cycle to my asc! Thanks for sharing this.

Mata Mel said...

BTW - I was born about 75 days after Pres Obama, and I share the Uranus/North Node conjunction he has. Moon is in opposition at 24Aqu02 in my case (trine to sun at 25Lib43). My Uranus at 29Leo31 is in the 12th. So, we all have that bit in common, and as a consequence your article was particularly meaningful to me. Deep stuff. Thank you, again.

Mata Mel said...

Not to dribble on, but one strong insight has come to me about this that might be useful to others. I think its common to notice a correlation, or repetition in the birthdays of significant people in our lives. So, is it no suprise that the significant events of these lunar cycles often involve some of those very same peeps. And, its not just my everyday peeps, but the ones that come & go away for a long time & then come back. They leave/return on these dates.