Seven top tips for a fruitful autumn. Mercury retrograde in Pisces – honour your feelings. The origins & symbolism of Easter. Care for your body according to the lunar cycle. Lunar project planner.
On March 21st the sun moved into Aries, heralding the golden season of autumn. On this day, all over the world, there are exactly twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of darkness and we call this the autumn equinox (equi = equal and nox = night). For the next six months, in the southern hemisphere, nights will be longer than days, meaning it’s time to start withdrawing energy from the outer world and prepare for the cooler months ahead.
Each season reveals something of the divine genius of nature, autumn being the crown jewel of the seasons with its harvest of grain and ripened fruit. The autumn time of day is dusk, as the sun gives way to the moon and stars, and energy turns inwards towards rest, reflection, and dreaming. In our own lives, autumn is a time to reflect on the challenges, achievements, and harvest of the past year. In the life cycle, the ‘autumn years’ are often the richest and most rewarding as non-essential activities, beliefs, and relationships drop off like falling leaves, leaving behind the ripeness of wisdom and experience.
Ode to autumn
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
[John Keats (1819)]
Seven top tips for a fruitful autumn
- Adjust your sleeping habits to follow the sun. As the days grow shorter, do less in the evenings, enjoy a relaxing bath or foot massage and go to bed earlier.
- Write down all the wonderful things that have happened over the twelve months. You are a year older and a year wiser and you’ve survived! Celebrate your achievements.
- Stock up your kitchen and freezer with all the delicious autumn produce available at markets, orchards, and, if you’re lucky, your own garden.
- As the weather cools down, get plenty of fresh air, but dress warmly. Give your wardrobe an overhaul making sure you have plenty of warm clothes you feel good in.
- Enjoy ten minutes of stretching and deep breathing each day when the work day is over. Lie on your bed, on the couch, or on the floor and pull air into all parts of your lungs and chest. Then release it slowly along with all the tensions of the day.
- Make a large pot of warming soup or stew to share with friends in front of a cosy fire.
- Declutter your home one room at a time.Ask yourself: “Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Is it sentimental?” If it’s none of these, sell it or give it away and make space for something new.
Mercury retrograde in Pisces – honour your feelings
Communication planet Mercury travels backwards from 6th to 28th March in the sensitive, psychic, and creative water sign Pisces. Mercury retrograde occurs every three to four months and is known as a time when everything can go haywire. Delays, computer problems, broken promises and relationship meltdowns are typical manifestations. Problems with transportation and crucial bits of information that prevent us from achieving understanding or moving forward are also common. Our unconscious and intuitive sides are particularly active and the best laid plans often grind to a sudden halt.
When Mercury is retrograde in a water sign we tend to revert to old habit patterns and emotional responses. Some will experience moodiness or free-floating anxiety as emotions come to the surface, while others will discover a split between logic and feelings. The best advice is to avoid starting new projects, but rather to focus on completing or revising existing ones. And if you can’t work out how to move forward or solve a problem, spend time daydreaming, reflecting, and meditating, and the answers will come.
Did you know that Easter Sunday always falls on the Sunday after the first full moon following the autumn equinox? In the northern hemisphere, this full moon is known as the paschal moon and marks Pesach, the Hebrew name for Passover. Good Friday this year falls on 19th April and Easter Sunday on 21st. The 2019 paschal moon is on Good Friday in Libra, sign of balance.
The origins & symbolism of Easter
For many of us, festivals such as Easter have lost their original meaning and become simply holidays or an opportunity to consume vast quantities of chocolate. According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, Easter is named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess, Eostre or Ostara, goddess of the dawn – but the real origins of Easter go back much further. In celebrating Easter, we are participating in an age-old ritual celebrating the return of the light after a period of darkness and death.
5000 years ago, the goddess Ishtar (cf. Easter) was worshipped throughout the Mesopotamian world, now modern-day Iraq. Ishtar was the Queen of Heaven and her symbols were the moon and Venus, the morning and evening star. Her sacred number was eight – the number of years it took the planet Venus to return to the exact same point in the heavens on the exact same date – and she was often depicted as an eight-pointed star.
One of the most important myths of Ishtar is the story of her descent to the underworld to visit her dark sister and alter ego Ereshkigal. Dressed in jewellery and fine clothing, she begins her journey and is met by Ereshkigal’s servant, who at each of the seven gates of the underworld removes one of her garments. When she finally arrives, Ishtar is naked and feels completely humiliated. But worse is to come! Her angry sister orders she be killed and hangs her body on a stake to rot. After three days Ishtar’s servant becomes worried by her absence and fashions little creatures who descend unseen to the underworld with materials to breathe life back into the goddess. They resurrect her and she reascends to heaven.
There are many variations on this myth, but its importance lies in the theme of death and rebirth and its connection to the monthly cycle of the moon and the annual cycle of Venus.
At the time of the dark moon, the moon (Ishtar) disappears from sight for three days as she meets up with the sun and is then revealed again at the new moon. Similarly, every year the planet Venus (Ishtar) disappears from sight when moving from being the morning star to the evening star. On the earthly plane, Ishtar’s rebirth heralds the coming of spring after winter. On a psychological level, her descent to meet her dark sister represents the encounter with our shadow side or unconscious. When we return to the light after experiencing a period of darkness, we have the opportunity to become whole.
Note the similarities between the Ishtar myth and the story of Jesus and Easter. As Ishtar descended, she was stripped and humiliated; Jesus was stripped, beaten and humbled. Ishtar was killed and hung on a stake; Jesus was hung on a cross. Ishtar was resurrected after three days; Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. Both achieved eternal life.
Lunar body care
The monthly cycle of the moon and planet Earth has always had a profound effect on the weather, tides, birds, fish, animals, plant growth, and of course on human beings. Humans, like plants, are composed mainly of water, meaning the waxing and waning moon affects our growth and behaviour patterns. You can use the monthly moon cycle to plan your body and beauty routine – here are some useful tips for looking great AND saving money!
Lush locks and smooth legs
If you’d like to make your hair grow faster or have lusher, thicker locks, visit the hairdresser during the first half of the lunar cycle when the moon is waxing or growing bigger (between new moon and full moon).
If you want your hair to grow back more slowly to save on visits to the salon, cut your hair in the second half of the lunar cycle when the moon is waning or growing smaller (after the full moon but before the new moon). This is also the best time for leg waxing or removal of other unwanted hair, as regrowth will be much slower.
Health and beauty timetable
|From new moon to full moon (waxing)||Massage with essential oils|
Cut hair for lusher, thicker growth
Cut nails for stronger, faster growth
Develop/plant new positive habits
|From full moon to new moon (waning)||Weight loss & detoxification|
Body scrub & exfoliation
Deep cleansing treatments/facials
Removal of unwanted hair
Kicking bad habits
Chiron in Aries – seeing more kinds of beauty
We live in interesting times… Every generation has its own struggles and triumphs and these are often reflected by the so-called outer planets which move slowly, allowing us to absorb and understand their lessons as they pass through each sign of the zodiac.
One of the biggies this year is the Chiron in Aries transit which began tentatively in 2018 and will be in full swing from March onwards until 2027. Astrologers often refer to Chiron as ‘the wounded healer’: a being who has learned to heal others through his own experience of pain. He shows where we feel ashamed, broken, or inadequate.
So, what are the wounds faced by the current generation? Mental illness, depression, loneliness and anxiety? Eating disorders, substance abuse and body shaming? Feelings of being ugly, inadequate and undesirable? Fear of missing out? Expensive housing, student debt, lack of job security and unstable future? Environmental devastation, pollution and climate change? Take your pick!
There’s no doubt that the technology that has helped connect and inform us over the past half century has also weakened and divided us.No matter how desirable the trappings of beauty, fame and perfection seem, we can’t all be superheroes, superstars, and supermodels, and no amount of wealth, achievement, and glory can heal the wounds of depression, inadequacy, and anxiety. Enter Chiron in fire sign Aries which is all about acknowledging and celebrating individual flaws and differences; healing collective wounds by transforming the way we see ourselves and others; maintaining a sense of personal identity; but accepting and embracing others who look, think, feel, believe, and live in a different way – and truly understanding they are just as important as we are.
Not fitting in?
If you feel as though you don’t fit in, Chiron in Aries could be a truly healing period where you finally accept you are fine just the way you are and that everyone has some kind of wound, disability, shame or hang-up.Feeling flawed is normal! Over the next few years we will see people become increasingly assertive about defending their individual competency, behaviour, background, sexual preference, body shape, and lifestyle choice, rather than trying to conform to some autocratic ideal.
At a recent MTV Video Music Awards, the artist Pink told the story of how her six-year-old daughter came home from school saying, “I’m the ugliest girl I know – I look like a boy with long hair.”
Pink replied, “When people make fun of me, that’s what they use. They say I look like a boy or I’m too masculine or I have too many opinions, my body is too strong. And I said to her, “Do you see me growing my hair? Do you see me changing my body? Do you see me changing the way I present myself to the world?… We don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. And we help other people to change so they can see more kinds of beauty.”
Expanding our view of what is beautiful, acceptable and normal in ourselves and others is a major theme of Chiron in Aries.
Launch projects two to three days after the new moon; bring them to completion in the period from just before the full moon to a few days after the full moon and then wind down projects and reflect on developments in the week before the next new moon.
Each lunar cycle has a slightly different theme. I’ve listed these in the table to help you make the most of the lunar energies.
|March new moon||7th||Pisces||water||Spirituality, creativity, dreaming, meditation, music, poetry… or maybe a bottle of wine?|
|March full moon||21st||Libra||air||An excellent time to resolve conflicts and arguments. Deep healing is possible.|
|April new moon||5th||Aries||fire||A clash between making an exciting new start vs attending to existing responsibilities.|
|April full moon||19th||Libra||air||The ability to see all sides of a situation, paving the way for empathy and forgiveness.|
|May new moon||5th||Taurus||earth||Character is destiny – act with integrity for you will reap what you sow. No shortcuts!|
|May full moon||19th||Scorpio||water||Speak your truth, take a chance, and follow your heart wherever it leads you.|
|June new moon||3rd||Gemini||air||Exciting ideas and plans abound, but check the small print before spending money or time.|
|June full moon||17th||Sagittarius||fire||Tempers are running hot; even if you feel you’re right, be prepared to compromise!|
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