Art by Louise Benton

PictureCristina McAllister

The first New Moon of 2016, which falls on Jan. 9th at 5:30 PST, will kick off a cycle of renewal and rejuvenation, cleansing our minds and hearts, and readying us to meet the year’s coming challenges. The invigorating nature of this new moon cycle will arm us with a warrior-like spirit and a fierce determination to realize our dreams.
This new moon falls in the area of the sky known as Purva Ashadha, which contains the stars that represent the bow of Sagittarius (the archer), as he aims his arrow into the galactic center. In Vedic Astrology, Purva Ashadha is symbolized by an elephant tusk, and connected to the Hindu elephant god, Ganesha, who is revered as the “Remover of Obstacles.” It is said that under the influence of these stars, one can never accept defeat.
This area of the sky, known as a nakshatra, also has a deep and primordial connection to the powers of water, as it is ruled by the ancient water goddesses known as Apas. These are the goddesses of the rainstorms and the spring waters that flow down in rivers, purifying and nourishing the earth on their way towards the sea.  
This flow of water is the sustenance of life here on earth, nourishing the plants and animals and bringing endless rejuvenation.  Rivers are sacred channels of purification, carrying away what is no longer needed and freeing us to step into the future.  The goddesses of the waters also nourish our hearts in relationships and wet our eyes with compassion, binding us to our communities and families. It is the ever-renewing spirit of Apas that empowers this new moon cycle to carry us forward towards grace.
These primordial water deities were first mentioned well over 3,000 years ago in the ancient collection of Sanskrit hymns known as the Rig Veda.

From the sea comes the waters (Apas) of the flowing rivers;
Never sleeping, always cleansing. 
Their path dug by Indra the thunderous bull. 

Goddesses, protect me! 

Waters from Heaven 
Waters from Earth 
Waters from below the surface. 
Bright, purifying speeding towards the ocean. 

Goddesses, protect me!…  
(Rg Veda 7:49) 

PictureAiming towards the center of the galaxy, Kaus Borealis and Kaus Australis in Sagittarius’s bow also make up PURVA ASHADHA.

If we are doubting or feeling disconnected from our dreams, this is a crucial point in the year to reflect on our choices and forge new, more fulfilling pathways. This particular new moon is supported by an expansive aspect from the planet Jupiter, whose magnitude is increasing with its retrograde motion. The altruistic planet of expansion may burst open the dams that have been holding us back, offering a renewed sense of devotion to following our hearts and living our truth.
Take heed, however, as the planet Venus, which rules relationships, beauty and art, among other things, is separating from a tight conjunction with restrictive Saturn. This conjunction may have us working a little too hard to look good for others, leaving us feeling under-appreciated.  Interpersonal relationships may also feel particularly heavy around this time. On the positive side, our creativity may benefit from the renewed sense of discipline and determination offered by the Venus-Saturn conjunction.
It is also important to note that Mercury is in retrograde until Jan. 25, which could further complicate matters and hinder communication. Purva Ashadha, however, has the ability to face obstacles with patience and composure, so if things are not lining up well under Mercury’s clogged course, take this new moon day to relax your efforts and allow things to just flow. A traffic delay or detour, both literally and metaphorically, is sometimes just the medicine we need to gain new insight and receive crucial information that could change the game.
Also, towards the end of the month, the lunar nodes Rahu and Ketu, which are represented by the head and tail of a serpent, will be officially changing signs. 18 months of solar and lunar eclipses have ignited waves of transformation in the sidereal signs of Virgo and Pisces. This past year has seen major shifts in our environment, upheavals around religious beliefs and freedom, and a revision of old world expectations.
In the coming year, Rahu and Ketu’s transit in Aquarius and Leo will most likely stir up the status quo and propel scientific advancement into groundbreaking territory. Jupiter will be along for the ride throughout this month, with Rahu, the head of the serpent, rearing its head come March, when the first of the eclipses take place. This should be a transformative time for teachers, as well as political and spiritual leaders. If you are under the influence of Jupiter, either by dasha or transit, you may be up for some life-changing events.
The nakshatra of Purva Ashadha motivates us toward moksha, or spiritual enlightenment, and this new moon can offer great insight through meditation and spiritual practice. On the occasion of this new moon, take some quiet time to sift through old feelings and separate what is not useful from what is really making you feel fulfilled. If possible, visit a river, or any body of water, and imagine what is no longer serving you dissolving into the waves.
As the moon waxes this month, we may step closer than ever to embodying our desires and beliefs, especially if we are willing to let go of our fears and take the plunge.

**To really understand how these planetary influences affect you on a personal level, book a one-on-one Vedic Astrology Reading with me here.