I feel like I’ve been gifted so many opportunities to start fresh so far this year!
Not that I should need a symbolic occasion for a fresh start, every moment can offer me that, if I choose. Even from one breath to the next.
But knowing that natural cycles of energy and certain belief systems support times of significant shift sometimes helps with the gentle shove I need to really take initiative and put some new habits in place!
Today is the day!
This wasn’t consciously planned but I could not have chosen a more auspicious day to begin the Samadhi Sri Lanka Yoga Retreat! Today marks the first new moon of the astrological year (for some) and new moons are always a positive omen for new beginnings!
Earlier this week Hindu and Buddhist cultures across the world marked the shift into a new astrological year as the sun passed from the final sign of the zodiac, Pisces into the first, Aries. The moon now follows suit with a refresh and renewal in the first sign of the zodiac, Aries.
Why is there another New Year?
Well mainly because time is a tricky thing and there are lots of different ways to measure and calculate it’s passing and different cultures do it differently!
Historically the transition from the sign of Pisces to Aries happened around the vernal equinox (the start of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere) – a seasonal and symbolic celebration of renewal for many belief systems – and was therefore chosen as the point to end one astrological cycle and begin the astrological year anew.
Cultures throughout time have used the heavens to measure and predict the passing of time and calculate their location in space. Unfortunately, due to the earth busting a few funky but predictable moves in space over the centuries, the vernal equinox was found to be variable, not fixed to a specific day. Cue the evolution of time calculation in the west, so the first party planners of all could properly prepare for their main event each year! The significance of the vernal equinox was so strong that time was changed for it!
Whose time wins?
After it was discovered that the pesky Earth shifted in space, it kind of messed up some western religious festivals that were associated with the vernal equinox, such as Easter. As it no longer occurred on the same date anymore, those inclined towards order and control were thoroughly inconvenienced. Not to be deterred by anything so insignificant as the movement of the earth in space, the Catholic Church decided that they would re-design time so that they could celebrate their beloved festivus when it suited them best. Welcome the Gregorian Calendar, named after the man who introduced it in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII.
We now know it as the calendar year, and it is a relatively modern calculation of time based on how long it takes for the Earth to revolve around the Sun, measured from one vernal equinox to the next. Because of this it’s sometimes known as a solar year. Despite some challenges in its application (hello leap year!) it is widely adopted as the standard calendar across the world and designates 1 January as the first day of the New Year. Western astrology uses the solar (or tropical) year to calculate the zodiac.
The Chinese developed their own calendar for calculating when to party (seems like there’s a theme here) based on seasonal events and astrological happenings. The Chinese use a way of calculating time is called a lunisolar calendar, as it indicates both the moon phase and the time of year. The date of the New Year changes each year but is corrected to stay tied to the date of new moon before the vernal equinox (generally somewhere between January 21 and February 20 in the Gregorian system). In 2015 Chinese New Year was celebrated on 19 February.
Hindus and Buddhists in South and South East Asia also use a lunisolar year. This calendar calculates the how long it takes for the earth return to the point where certain constellations in space appear in the sky. Due to a slight difference in how day lengths are calculated between this system (known as sidereal) and tropical time, the sidereal year is slightly longer than a solar year (like 24 minutes!). This particular calculation of time is not corrected to the tropical calendar and therefore has moved out of sync with the tropical calendar by about one day every 60 years!
That’s why while western astrologers calculate the movement of the Sun into Aries as 20 March in 2015 using the solar calendar, this past week many countries and cultures celebrated the astrological New Year on 14 April 2015.
What’s the significance of Aries?
Aries translates as ‘Ram’ in Latin. In western astrology, Aries is the sign of the Ram. The image of the Ram in astrology comes from Greek mythology and the story of the winged Ram with the Golden Fleece (Chrysomallus, son of Zeus and Nephele) who, after rescuing some children from certain death, was sacrificed and was given a permanent place in the heavens due to his service as the constellation Aries.
What do you visualise when you imagine a Ram? Aires is often depicted with a confident, physically powerful demeanour, standing his ground. Some of this mythological energy of the Ram is related to the characteristics of those born under the sign of Aries. Aries people are often action-oriented and passionate about standing up for what they believe in.
How do I work with the energy of the new moon in Aries?
Because Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, the energy of new beginnings is especially ripe or palpable right now. When the moon is in Aries, we have a strong desire to start fresh. This might be felt at a deeply visceral level – your gut instinct working overdrive. Listen in and don’t be afraid – there may be a call to take immediate action in redefining your boundaries, self worth and authentic voice based on a hunch or your intuition. These times favour taking calculated risks to back yourself and making ambitious plans for your prosperity. Start taking daring actions to create an authentic future that you truly want to live!
Authenticity is important to Rams – this is a great time to truly be you, rely on your own resourcefulness and remind yourself that everything that you need is inside of you. You can experiment with exploring these qualities by doing something that’s outside the box of your daily routine. Fancy a little adventurous yoga retreat perhaps?! It doesn’t have to be epic, it might be as small as driving a new route to work one day or signing up for the salsa class that scares you shirtless!
There is a strong focus on personal power with Aries, leading to feelings of both enthusiasm, and spontaneity. Follow your instincts and channel your energy into strongly physical pursuits if you feel like there’s a danger you might cause trouble with your newfound courage. There’s always a risk when you have these urges of a little foot in mouth – when chutzpah gets the better of tact and patience! The ultimate lesson is learning to balance the power of expressing ourselves authentically and honestly without being overbearing or aggressive. Healthy boundaries for the win!It’s a great time to courageously reinvigorate your relationship with yourself, and remember just how awesome you are!
A Moonstone Blessing…
Whilst I was wandering the streets of Galle, Sri Lanka this week I came across an old man polishing gem stones by hand, the old school way. I stopped to take some pictures and he stopped his work to have a chat with me. As I left he offered me a tiny piece of White Moonstone, which I initially refused, but he insisted. He wrapped it up in a little packet for me and I continued with my exploring, my gift tucked away in my pocket.
Later when I found the packet at the end of my day, I decided to research the qualities and symbolism of Moonstone and was amazed at how perfect this little jewel is for the current astrological timing and as a metaphor of the journey everyone will take on this retreat! Here are just a few of Moonstone’s magic qualities…
Moonstone is a talisman of the inward journey, taking one deep into the self to retrieve what is missing, the parts of the soul left behind or forgotten, so that then can be once again be brought to light. Since ancient times Moonstone has been a tangible connection to the magic of the moon – an amulet of protection of travellers, a channel for prophecy, and a path to wisdom. Moonstone opens the mind to flashes of insight, inspiration and impulse, serendipity and synchronicity.
White Moonstone carries the energy of the new moon at the height of its power, stimulating psychic perception, vision and dream work. Moonstone has a soothing quality and helps connect to the natural rhythms of life. Associated with the feminine, it enhances the intuitive side of the mind. To women, Moonstone reveals their feminine power, even activating the kundalini energy – Boom Shakti! Moonstone cleanses and dispels negativity from all the chakras and the Mantra of Monstone is: ‘now is the time to speak what is in your heart’. How apt!
So happy new moon in Aries, have a fun, honest and powerful weekend and I will see you on the flipside of Samadhi Sri Lanka!