‘At the still point’: awaiting the Aries New Moon…

We tend to think of the annual 20th March equinox, the day the Sun enters Aries, as the symbolic beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere. But you could argue that its true beginning takes place with the New Moon in Aries: this year, that does not happen until the 24th March 2020, when the Sun and Moon meet at 4 degrees 12 minutes of Aries.

Image of Moondark

You could further argue that the period from the Pisces New Moon, this year having fallen just three days ago on 23rd February at 4 degrees 29 minutes of Pisces, represents the Moondark, or balsamic period, or end phase of the whole astrological year – which began with the 15 degrees  17 minutes Aries New Moon on the 5th of April 2019.

Today thus finds us at the new crescent phase beginning the whole zodiacal year’s Moondark. It also finds us on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar, a six week period of contemplation leading to Easter Sunday which falls each year close to the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox.

So – how does that profound, doubly symbolic invitation to withdraw and reflect on the year that’s gone, sit with you?

For a very long time, I have been happy and grateful to draw spiritual inspiration from writers of all religious and spiritual traditions – or none. What I seek is grounded wisdom and perspective, wherever it comes from, to guide my life. I also love the comforting, ancient power of ritual. One of my personal Ash Wednesday rituals is to read to myself sections of T S Eliot’s great poem sequence Ash Wednesday. Here is the quote which on this Ash Wednesday has most moved me,:

‘…this is the time of tension between dying and birth/ The place of solitude where three dreams cross…’ (i)

I am in a deeply withdrawn, sensitive, pensive state in this year’s Moondark just beginning, feeling very open to our collective vulnerability and suffering as fragile creatures on a tiny planet.

Having been born in Moondark in the very last hours of the monthly Sun/Moon cycle, I am very aware of the need periodically to retreat, contemplate, take stock – a fundamental aspect of human experience which is being squeezed out by the 24/7 freneticism of contemporary living, to the increasing detriment of our collective mental and physical wellbeing.

Will this new year soon arising bring more brutality towards the vulnerable and the innocent, orchestrated by those currently in power whose humanity has in many cases become increasingly debased? Or will it signify a new generation arising, whose values are not rooted in accumulation of wealth and power at the expense of our Mother planet, ready to challenge the structures of  old order?

Thankfully, we are seeing strong evidence of the latter option arising already, as the new Saturn/Pluto cycle slowly begins and we move towards a new Jupiter/Saturn cycle at 0 degrees Aquarius, beginning at the winter solstice 2020. We need radical change, and we are going to have it over the next few years, one way or another…

The Big Why?

In contemplative moments such as this, poised in the stillness of a whole year’s Moondark, being temperamentally inclined to brood on questions most sensible folk prefer to avoid much of the time, I tend to return to The Big Why, and its attendant questions: Why are we here at all? What does it all mean? What am I to do with my small life?

It would appear from numerous surveys one tends to come across both in print and social media, that despite conventional religions losing ground, most people are just as inclined as they have ever been toward some sort of faith, some belief that despite its painful, turbulent dimensions life has meaning.

In times of suffering and turbulence, one of the great offerings of astrological knowledge, despite its being a double-edged gift with just as much capacity to scare us as to offer enlightenment, is a pointing through its symbols to something both collectively and personally meaningful going on. Looking through an astrological lens reveals patterns, not randomness.

Astrology is not a religion or a belief system – but it offers a clear lens through which to look out at the vastness of Mystery in which we exist, inviting us toward some form of belief that there is a bigger picture of  which we are all part, however small.

Personally, I have found that lens to have been a vitally important tool on my own journey toward a deep faith that we are all part of the One; even the dreadful things in life which afflict us both collectively and individually are woven into a tapestry of meaning, at some level which we are too ill-equipped to comprehend.

I find it supportive and comforting to centre myself in that faith when times are tough for the world – as they certainly are right now – and for those to whom I am personally connected with bonds of friendship and of love.

And for myself. My dear Aquarian husband Ian died peacefully on 13th January, having been felled with shocking suddenness by a cerebral haemorrhage on 12th January 2020: the very day of the ending of the most recent Saturn/Pluto cycle in Libra under which we were married in 1982, and the beginning of this new one now taking shape. Apart from the shock and grief of his dying, I am awestruck by the fated power for us of that brutal timing.

For those of you who have been wondering why I have not posted here since 10th January, that is the explanation.

The uses of Moondark

Moondark at its best is a contemplative time: time to take stock both collectively and personally.

Humans have always benefited from times of quiet contemplation, in whatever way suits them best: listening to music, doing yoga/meditation, praying to whatever Higher Power sustains them, making or contemplating art, walking in Nature –especially by the sea, that great universal symbol of dissolution and emergence.

Even half an hour a day of retreat time on a regular basis is nourishing for the spirit. In ancient times, women used to retreat together monthly during menstruation time which was seen as a period of potency, and hidden power – a liminal time to link through dreams and ritual to worlds unseen.

It would be good if individually we could get into the habit of using the time from the Pisces New Moon each year to find some retreat space in whatever way suited us: to take stock of the year that was coming to an end, ponder our successes and our failures, our joys and our sorrows,  and set some realistic intentions to pursue for the zodiacal year ahead.

Will you be taking stock? I certainly shall…


i)  from ‘The Complete Poems and Plays of T S Eliot’, Faber and Faber Ltd 1969, p 98

Image of Moondark

1,150 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2020

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see About Page 

36 thoughts on “‘At the still point’: awaiting the Aries New Moon…

  1. Dear Anne…first, my deepest and most heartfelt condolences for the sudden loss of your beloved Ian.

    Secondly, I appreciate the reminder that your post offers us on the importance of the natural cycles, and in particular, the new year. Taking stock, reflecting and contemplating seems to fill much of my days recently and I appreciate the added context for what I’m up to while being in this liminal space (which I feel I have been in for months and months).

    Finally, I send you blessings and love and peace as you take steps each day into a new way of living…creating a new normal.

  2. How quickly things can change. I’m so sorry to hear of Ian’s death; it’s a reminder to us all that what ‘is’ never is guaranteed to continue. I’m glad to see you again, and glad you shared the news with us; know that some of us out here in the far world grieve with you.

    I just was looking at the crescent moon last night. It was the first clear night we’ve had in some time, and the moon was so beautiful I stopped to watch it. I’ll look for it again tonight, and think of you.

    1. Hello Linda, indeed…the only thing we are guaranteed is that nothing ever lasts, everything changes…and I was fortunate to have had Ian as my soulmate for a very long time. So I must now pay the price for his loss. Thank you for your empathy.

      Yes, I absolutely love the new crescent moon…thanks for joining me in moonwatching across continents!

  3. Oh, my dear Anne. I’m so sorry for your tragic loss, the timing of which is absolutely shocking. Thank you for your beautiful thoughts of MoonDark, the need for retreats (I’m on one), and deep examination of The Big Why. Blessings on this Ash Wednesday, your fellow 12th house person, Pam

      1. Your post was so lovely, and I respect how well you bridged what is happening in the world with what was happening in your own private one. Yes, a few days before your post, I looked at the tiny sliver of the waxing moon and thought of you – noting you’d been very quiet… My dear Anne, and that his death was at such a precise moment/date.

        Am thinking of you often and with you in loving spirit.

  4. Anne – wishing you peace and healing, in its time, and may all your faith become knowing.

    Thanks for a lovely post – it helped push me into the pause I needed. After reading it, I stepped outside at twilight this evening and saw the crescent Moon and Venus above the pines, and felt the promise of renewal.

    1. Many thanks for your empathy, Denise. So glad the post prompted you to take time to gaze at the beautiful crescent Moon with Venus. We may depart, but the world’s beauty continues…

  5. So sorry to hear about your Husband’s passing Anne. My thoughts are with you at this sad time.
    Love and blessings
    Tricia x

  6. Sending love your way Anne 🙏🏻 may you find peace and solace in the life you had with your husband until you meet again love and light


  7. Via Facebook:

    Simona De Serdici Dear Anne, Just to offer you my deep condolences for the loss of your dear husband.How traumatic that must have been for you both. May he rest in peace. It is a new phase of life for you now. May you take each step at the time towards healing from grief, and find a level of peace in your life through all that you love of life..I always enjoy your posts… I particularly remember you describing how you found your way back to astrology after years of leaving it behind..And having lost all your notes, if I am right?? I learn a lot from your posts. Thank you. Keep at it please.. Posts like yours from Astrologers who really have gone through the dark night of the Soul is so needed. Thinking of you with much affection.Love, XXX❤️🌈🌹

  8. Via Facebook:
    Mara Owens:
    Condolences to you as you move through the mystery contained within Moondark after Ian’s passing on to another level. The last several months have brought sudden losses of loved ones, sons, fathers, mates to significant numbers of my friends, varying between suicides, tragic accidents and medical issues, as if one part of the energetics of the PL Sat conjunction.
    In my own life, the period just before and after the Pisces New Moon has indeed been potent in the MoonDark manner you’ve described, potent with lives beginning and ending, the Yin / Yang light within dark, dark within light.

  9. Thanks, Mara, for this feedback regarding recent months and their attendant Saturn/Pluto type losses which mirrors what I, too, have heard. And for your comments on .’..light within dark, dark within light…’ I have experienced much Grace attendant on the darkness in my own life at this powerful time …

  10. Via Facebook:
    Anne Sweeney :
    Oh Anne…I am so sorry to learn the sad news about your husband. I recently remarked to a fellow astrologer that you had not posted for a while and now we know why. I too was widowed a few years ago and, as a person with lots of 12th House stuff like you, I have had a deep need for retreat and have been asking questions of the universe recently. The answers are not always apparent but I feel time and patience will reveal a lot before too long.

  11. Via Facebook:
    Lindel Barker-Revell:
    Dear Anne, such a profound and awful loss with incredible timing. So sorry. The idea of Moondark as a yearly event moves me greatly. I too have had a period of intense loss. Three deaths of people so dear to me early in January and on the 12th as well. I know of several friends and clients who are also feeling much pain and withdrawal. Here in Australia it felt like we’d entered into hell for at least 6 weeks. So much destruction and so much loss of our beautiful wildlife and habitat. I’m still reeling. I’d been worried about the impending great conjunction in Capricorn, but had neglected to “see” it for myself. Of course it was all there to see. In hindsight, I couldn’t have prepared for it. I send you heartfelt blessings from our scorched and gently renewing land. Lindel 🙏🐨🌲

  12. What a beautiful, heartfelt message, Lindel. I so appreciate it. Sending you my warm thoughts and support too for your own losses. Yes, I feel I’m going to be using this year’s Moondark in a deeper and more profound way than I have ever done before – mourning, reflecting, clearing – preparing the way for this new life phase which has come upon me. Blessings, Anne 🙏🏼

  13. Dear Anne,
    I am a quiet follower of your wonderful astrology writings and your long pause caused a stir of concern in me (pisces). Now I know why, I want to send you my heartfelt condolences with the sudden death of your beloved husband.
    Like you, I found some comfort in the astrological explanations I discovered after the sudden death of our 22 year old daughter to sepsis in 2012.
    Years of practising meditation and philosophy, there are for me, in essence, no answers to the Why – everything just Is. However in order to cope with life’s adversities the mind seeks for answers and explanations before we can move on to a state of acceptance and being. Astrology can be a great help but we have to watch out for it’s pitfalls, like trying to look for the next dooms in our life.
    I wish you plenty of time to grief, reflect and treasure all those precious moments with your husband and slowly finding your way to a new beginning. Sending you love and hugs, Catherina

    1. Dear Catherina,
      one of the heartwarming things about deciding to talk briefly about my husband’s death has been that good folks like you who have been quietly reading my posts have reached out to me. Thank you so much for doing so, and for sharing your hard-won wisdom drawn from walking the burning ground following your daughter’s sudden death. I can only begin to imagine how awful that must have been…
      …and you are right. Everything just IS. We have to do the best we can with whatever comes our way. Thanks again for your love and kindness.
      Blessings, Anne

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