Sunday morning, February 26, brings the Piscean new moon and last lunar month of winter. The sun is eclipsed by the moon in an annular eclipse with a ring of fire that peaks near 10 am EST. Only visible in a remote area of the Southern Hemisphere, the solar eclipse will be live streamed, starting at 7 am.
Look west for the waxing crescent moon and Venus at sunset on Tuesday-Wednesday, February 28-March 1. It will be years before the moon again conjuncts brilliant Venus as the “evening star” with dimmer Mars nearby. Mars is paired with Uranus, which requires at least strong binoculars and clear skies to see (see the astrology of their conjunction below). After shining through the winter, Venus soon will disappear from the night sky, reappearing in mid-spring as the “morning star.”
Also on February 28, Fat Tuesday of Mardi Gras is observed, and Lent begins the next day. Lenten means “to lengthen.” Day length unequally increases between the winter solstice and vernal equinox. In February, we rapidly gain daylight, as if the sun yawns, stretches awake and rushes to meet its promise of an equal day and night on March 20, the first day of spring.
Depending on your location, daylight currently may lengthen by more than two minutes per day. The sunlight surge maxes out around the time that DST returns on March 12. Then sunrise and sunset arrive close to 7:30. Nature is lightening up!
Astrological Influences + Considerations
This new moon is potent. It’s an eclipse with a six-month influence, and it’s a triple conjunction of sun, moon, and Neptune in the sign it rules, Pisces. The influence is emotional, imaginative, dreamy, compassionate – and given to delusions, hypochondria, and phobias due to tremendous vulnerability. The challenge is to enjoy Neptunian magic while not getting seduced into confusion.
The new moon is accompanied by an explosive conjunction of Mars and Uranus in the energetic sign that Mars rules, Aries. Their combination is ticked-off and unpredictable, and makes stubborn harsh angles with Jupiter and Pluto.
The sweet, gentle, impressionable lagoon of the Piscean-Neptunian new moon has to hold its own against abrupt, fiery antagonism. Watch out for a geyser of angry steam! Patience, mindfulness, and significant impulse control will be required for the next week or so, or perhaps through this lunar month (a lunation). Try not to pounce or get pounced on.
This eclipse mirrors the new moon in Virgo and annular solar eclipse of September 1, 2016, and concludes a two-year mutable eclipse cycle. If you were born near the beginning of Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius or Pisces, it might directly affect you. But it’s also significant if your moon, ascendant, or another key placement is at 7-10 degrees of those signs (cast your chart for free to check it out).
We’ll all feel the tug of heightened emotion. Like Virgo the zodiacal opposite of Pisces, we’ll feel thin skinned and apprehensive around the moon phase. We’ll be empathetic and maybe more easily fatigued than usual, or prone to minor colds and allergies. Tempers and nerves may be easily frayed.
Take good care of yourself. Try to get eight hours of sleep, avoid controlled substances, and go outside for fresh air and sunshine. Recharge your batteries with nourishing food, meditation, and wellness activities.
Feeling + Moving with the Moon
In Ashtanga yoga, “moon days” are yoga holidays. The new and full moons are thought to correspond with times that our prana, or life force, rises and falls like the tides. We’re largely made of water. The circulating fluids, muscles and brain (which is why you can’t think straight when dehydrated), are the wettest parts of our bodies. Though known for its vigor and discipline, Ashtanga yoga recommends resting at the beginning and midpoint of lunations, quietly observing the moon’s influence.
However, most Western yogis practice without paying conscious attention to moon phases, or their correspondence with hormonal cycles and flows. Flowing works well with this deeply Neptunian moon phase. Pisces, the sign of the fishes, is of the water element, and the moon causes tides. Neptune is the god of the sea, which is essential for life on this planet. Metaphorical water splashes around during February’s new moon-eclipse.
When you combine the watery flow with the tense, combustible Mars-Uranus conjunction, there is good reason to keep it moving while the moon is dark. Keep it flowing, keep flushing out the tight, stuck areas. But take it easy, slow and juicy. Observe the rise and fall of your breath, meditate, find calm. And magic – always leave room for elusive magic to enter your yoga.
The new moon is a fabulous time for a slow flow practice, such as associated with Tara Stiles, who offers many mellow classes on YouTube and DVD, as well as at her studio in New York City. Check out Strala Relax (free preview), and her recent Super Duper Gentle Prenatal Stretch that she shared while expecting (she gave birth to a girl earlier this month). I’ve been following Stiles’s routines to practice with ease at home and to prepare to teach gentle, hormonally sensitive yoga.
Even if you’re a power yogi, or fitness activity for you means sweaty exertion, try taking a lunar break. Practice restorative or yin yoga. Listen to your tidal rhythms, and explore your watery nature. Let the vinyasa slowly flow with your body swaying, fluidly moving through poses. Let the yoga seep deep into protected nooks and crannies, bringing tranquility, softness, and universal prana.
The parasympathetic nervous system benefits from slowing down. By hitting pause and resting your mind, heart and lungs, muscles and adrenals (those hormones again!), you help the body de-stress. Letting go may reduce cortisol levels linked to metabolism and weight gain. Slowing the flow may do wonders for your mood and facial expression, and decelerate aging.
Chillaxing vinyasa with a nice long savasana – maybe followed by a warm bath, fragrant with soothing lavender, with cool water or fresh juice to drink – then drift off to your private Neptunian nirvana with renewed vitality. That’s rejuvenating bliss inspired by the new moon and last lunar cycle of winter.
On Wonderful Moon
A longer, more detailed version of this post appears in this week’s Moonday. Yoga and emotion for the Piscean new moon are reinterpreted in the Sphinx Yoga section, drawing on my current therapeutic yoga teacher training (with hatha-vinyasa, breath and mindful meditation practices rooted in the work of masters Sri Dharma Mittra and Thich Nhat Hanh) at MindBody Centering Yoga with Nina Be at the Global Breath Studio in Durham, NC.
For the next Wonderful Moon that posts in approximately two weeks, the full moon in Virgo, the worm or sap moon, will be discussed. It’s the last full moon of winter, arriving a week before the spring equinox.
Wonderful Moon is published bimonthly before the new and full moons. The focus is on viewing and experiencing the moon with lore, advice, and yoga-oriented body awareness that meshes with the phase, season, and astrological influences.
Photography: “Solar Eclipse at Sunrise” (Nov. 3, 2013) is by noted lunar and landscape photographer Greg Diesel Walck, from his Facebook album Eclipses. The photo of the sun, moon, sea and sky at daybreak is of a rare hybrid eclipse that brushed the eastern shore of the United States. As it began near 6:45 am, it’s seen as a partial eclipse rising over marshland on the NC Outer Banks. The solar eclipse continued across the Atlantic and was total mostly near and across Africa, ending as a partial eclipse nearly five hours later.