The lunation cycle, broadly speaking, is that from the New Moon, to the Full Moon - and back again - though the term commonly refers to the specific times of the new and full moons each month. This is when the moon is conjunct the sun by degree and minute; and when it is opposite. What follows is a guide to this cycle and how any particular lunation might apply to your birth chart. Plotting ordinary lunar transits (the daily passage of the moon across your chart) generally reveals little more than shifting moods; Lunations are something else!
Many of us find our everyday lives to be humdrum and boring. On the one hand, we do need the sense of security that our everyday routines give us; on the other hand, we too easily become the slaves of our customary moods and habits, allowing our lives to degenerate into a zombie-like existence. In astrology, all habits – memory, everything in our lives that is familiar and routine – are ruled by the moon. When our moons don’t function properly, we become “lunatics” – lost in a world where nothing is familiar any longer, where we can't recognize anything, because we can't systematically access a memory inventory to determine whether anything like what is happening to us right now has ever happened to us before. Newborns perforce deal with the world in this fashion, although even they are born with biological and racial memory (e.g., the urges to suck, cry, and be cuddled).
The aspect of everyday life ruled by the moon is the total of our customary moods (habitual feelings about ourselves and the world around us). For example, we might customarily walk around all day long feeling angry, or worried, or flighty, or grumpy and complainy, or serious, or devil-may-care, or whatever. The way we habitually feel about ourselves and the world is the glue that holds everything together for us; it is the source of our sense of security and stability in life. However, our customary moods are also the source of all our hidebound resistance to change: our laziness, inertia, and impulse to turn aside from anything new. They screen the true joyous impulses of our hearts and impair our sense of freedom.
The lunations are the points in time when the solar principle of decision can be brought to bear upon the lunar principle of memory. They are the epochs when we can most easily make a conscious decision to shake off stodgy habits and ways of feeling, and reach out to grasp a little joy. Although the times of new and full moons are significant for all beings on the earth, they have a particular importance for those people who have planets in their natal horoscopes located within a degree of conjunction or opposition to the point of the lunation.
In this analysis it doesn't make that much difference whether the lunation is a new or a full moon, nor whether it contacts a natal planet by conjunction or opposition. In a general sort of way, new moons symbolize new beginnings, whereas full moons symbolize a coming to completion or fruition. Similarly, oppositions may have more of a flavor of apparent conflict or estrangement to be overcome than do conjunctions. These effects, however, are not usually that important.
Nor does it matter that much whether the lunation happens to be an eclipse (eclipses are generally more important in mundane astrology than in natal astrology).
What is important, however, is the condition of the natal planet contacted by sign and aspect. The effect of a lunation is an impulse towards joy, so when the natal planet contacted is in an unfavorable sign or afflicted by other planets, the tendency will be to resist joy, to reject the opportunity outright, or else not to notice it when it occurs. If you list the events produced by lunations in your own life according to the natal planet contacted, you'll find that some natal planets work better than others: some produce uniformly important events, and others don't have much effect at all.
Because of the peculiar nature of the lunation cycle (as we shall see in connection with presidential elections later on), the distribution of points in the zodiac where lunations fall is not random, but tends to hit the same spots over and over. In other words, in a typical horoscope, some planets will be activated by lunations many times in the course of a life, whereas others may never be activated at all.
And when the same planet is activated by lunations, the same types of events tend to recur. In the horoscope of Prince Charles, for example, the natal Descendant was activated by the lunations preceding the birth of Princess Anne, the death of King George VI and accession of Queen Elizabeth, and the birth of Prince Andrew. In the horoscope of Queen Elizabeth II, the natal Mars-Jupiter conjunction opposite Neptune was activated by lunations preceding the births of Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward.
Lunations which conjoin or oppose planets in your natal chart point to events which will occur sometime in the month following the date of the lunation; I.e., they don't signify vague themes or colorations of the time, but rather specific events whose nature is symbolized by the planet contacted in the natal horoscope.
Whether these events are major turning points in your life, or whether they are merely minor occurrences, depends largely on you and the state of your own psyche at the time. The more fluid you can be, the greater the importance of the events. If you cling obsessively to your accustomed moods and habits and are unable to open yourself to the feeling of the time, then the events will still occur, but without much noticeable effect. A stone dropped into a pond creates more ripples than a stone dropped onto ice.
If you go through the month following a lunation contacting your chart burdened down with your customary mindset, then nothing out of the ordinary will happen. If you try to protect yourself from feeling new feelings, then the lunation will have very little impact. But if you can lighten up a little and cultivate a hopeful, expectant attitude, then you will find that hardened situations and relationships open up for a moment, like clouds shifting briefly to let the sun shine through. If you don't fight against the time by screwing yourself down tighter, then you'll be able to pull yourself out of a rut, break through habitual moods that have been holding you back, and make a new start in a new direction.
The natal planets contacted often symbolize the types of people with whom you'll have to deal during the month following the lunation; e.g., lunations contacting the Sun may involve you with your father, husband, superiors, or authorities; lunations contacting the Moon symbolize relationships with your mother or employees; Mercury symbolizes children, siblings, co-workers; Venus symbolizes women; Mars symbolizes men; Jupiter symbolizes advisors; Saturn symbolizes older or difficult people.
In the next Raphael’s Newsletter we’ll delve even further into the interpretative schema for Lunations and what happens when they aspect your natal planets.