Rob Tillett, astrologer and publisher of Astrology on the Web, opens up a short description of the astrological meaning of the Moon, the great governor of our emotional responses and the preset patterns we fall so easily into. He also outlines and discusses some interesting lunar phenomena, including the Moon's Phases, Nodes, the Lunar Return and the influence of the Progressed Moon.
The Moon reflects the power of the inner light, channelling and moulding it into the shape of our personality. While the Sun in astrology stands for the character, or ego-self, the Moon displays our nature in a way that can be grasped by the outer world. Ruling desire as opposed to self, or need as opposed to reason, she indicates our feelings about ourselves; how we handle relationships and our emotional responses to situations and experiences.
The Moon manages the flow of our daily functions: physical, emotional and mental. The Moon symbolises the home base and domestic environment, representing babies and young children, the mother and other important women in our lives. In a man's horoscope the Moon also symbolises the wife, or significant other. On a less personal level the Moon rules the general public, the masses.
Speaking more esoterically, the Moon rules the older, deeply set patterns of behaviour, the habits we so naturally fall into. The Moon governs the emotional personality and gives a good picture of the way our thoughts are influenced by our emotions.
The Moon's Phases
The Moon is the Earth's only natural satellite, even though in astrology we still call the Moon a planet ("wanderer"). The Moon travels around the Earth once every month—the word "month" derives from "moon". This monthly orbit creates the phases of the Moon, as she travels from "New", when the Moon is aligned with the Sun, to "Full" when the Moon opposes the Sun and back again. The phases of the Moon are well-known in scientific circles for generating the ocean's tides, governing mating behaviour in certain species, and particularly at the Full Moon for bumping up the rates of crime, especially violent crime, and irrational behaviour. The terms "Lunacy" and "Lunatic" are the (now unfashionable) words for insanity and the insane, drawn from the widespread observation of the way the Moon affects mental and emotional states. Every serious gardener also knows that the phases of the Moon with relation to the Sun in its seasons affect suitable times for planting, fertilising, husbandry and harvesting.
At certain times the alignment of Sun, Moon and Earth brings the Lunar and Solar Eclipses, which can be predicted by the movement of the Moon's Nodes. The Nodes themselves have a very important astrological influence. This zone of power, also known as the Dragon's Head and Tail, is an axis of energy, comprising opposing sensitive points in the horoscope that hold deep pools of karmic intensity. The Moon is particularly debilitated by conjunction to the either of the Nodes.
Many of the most serious and traumatic catastrophes involving fire, bad weather and loss of life occur in association with eclipses, when the Sun and Moon are conjunct the Moon's Nodes, especially when other unfortunate planetary aspects coincide. However, not all of these evils are exclusively linked with eclipses, for many are associated with the Sun forming a T-square to the nodal axis, i.e. when the Sun is in a 90° aspect to the nodes. This is called a Moon Wobble, because in fact it is when the Moon is "wobbling" in its path by declination around our blue planet.
The Lunar Month, or Lunation
When we measure from one place in the zodiac until the Moon returns to it, usually the period from one New Moon to the next (averaging 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes), this is known as a lunar month, or lunation. The time taken by the Moon from one conjunction with the Sun until the next, 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds, is called a Synodical Lunation. There are a number of types of month, but these lie beyond the scope of this article.
The term Lunation is also loosely used to describe different aspects of the Moon to the Sun, thus accounting for her phases. The New Moon is also often called a Lunation, and a chart made for the moment the Moon conjoins the Sun is called a Lunation Chart.
The Progressed Moon
Astrologically speaking, the Moon in the natal chart reveals our emotional character—what we came here with as a consequence of karmic fruition. The progressed Moon, a mathematically calculated progression of the Moon's position at the rate of approximately one degree per month of life, marks our inner development (how we have developed and used our potential), while the transiting Moon triggers the conditions in the external environment and how they affect us at a given time.
The progressed Moon is like the "Big Hand" of the cosmic clock, marking off the developments in life according to our emotional flowering, or otherwise... The progressed Sun by comparison moves much more slowly (about one degree per year of life) so that marks the truly major movements, like the "Small Hand" of the cosmic clock.
The progressed Moon forms aspects with planets in our natal chart which are very important in terms of revealing the nature and timing of significant events in life. The movement of the progressed Moon also marks significant turning points in life every seven years or so, when the progressed Moon forms hard aspects with its natal place, and at other less regular times, when it forms major aspects with the natal Sun, planets and significant points like the Angles, the Nodes and the Part of Fortune.
The Lunar Return
Approximately every 28 days, the Moon returns by transit to occupy the degree in which she was placed at birth. This is known as the Lunar Return, marking a good time to begin afresh and to move things forward. What is of considerably greater importance, however, is the Progressed Lunar Return, when the Moon by progression reaches this position, at around age 28, then again at 56, and eventually at 84, if we survive long enough! This is because the progressed Moon moves at approximately one degree per month, or one Sign every thirty months, so it takes around 28 years for her to reach the conjunction with her natal place.
The first progressed Lunar Return marks the beginning of the difficult transition from the Phase of Youth to the Phase of Maturity. The pace of our lives seems to accelerate, as we hurry to clear the decks of karmic debris, in preparation for the next grand stage of the great journey of life. This transitional phase lasts until the Saturn Return, which usually occurs within a year or two. The process is repeated at a higher level at age 56, the transition from the Phase of Maturity to the Phase of Wisdom.
The Lunar Standstill
Approximately every eighteen and a half years, the Moon reaches a major turning point, analogous to the Solar Solstices. The interval between Full Moons rising is called a month, as most people know well. However, there is a significant longer cycle that lasts 18.61 years, called the Lunar Standstill. The most northerly of the monthly moonrises allow the 18.61 year standstill cycle to be perceived by naked eye astronomers. Over 9.3 years these northerly moonrises shift from rising south of the summer solstice sunrise location to north of the summer solstice sunrise location. Each end of this 18.61 year journey is called a Lunar Standstill. It is considered extremely powerful and is marked by many ancient stone circles.
The Most Potent Cosmic Factor
Known as the traditional ruler of Cancer (nurture; creativity), the Moon is exalted in Taurus (security; material pleasures). People with these signs prominent in their charts are said to be ruled by the Moon. The colours of the Moon are blue, white and yellow (some say green too); her metal is silver, and her gems are the pearl and the moonstone.
The Moon is the most potent and powerful cosmic factor affecting our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing on Planet Earth. The Moon's aspects by transit and by progression, as well as her position in the chart by sign and house have an immense influence. This power has been clouded in recent times in the West by the growth of "Sun Sign" astrology, but can only be ignored to our detriment, even our peril!
The gleaming stars all about the shining Moon
Hide their bright faces, when full-orbed and splendid
In the sky she floats, flooding the shadowed earth
With clear silver light...
Now read about the Moon's Nodes, the "shadow planets" of destiny!