New Moon in (sidereal) Aquarius…Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 5:34:34 PM EST. Time to celebrate Fat Tuesday, AKA Mardi Gras (Carnival), the day before Ash Wednesday which begins the Lenten season of fasting in the Christian Church. Mardi Gras is also known as Shrove Tuesday, the day of confession, yes, but also a day for eating sweet pancakes and other sinfully delectable foods before the fast of Lent begins.
The New Moon occurs when the Moon in its monthly orbital motion around Earth lies between the Earth and the Sun, and is therefore in conjunction with the Sun as seen from the Earth. At this time, the dark part of the Moon faces toward the Earth, so that the Moon is not visible to the naked eye, and so the light of the Moon is blocked from the Earth. The New Moon is felt like a bioenergetic reboot; thus, according to astrology, New Moon indicates a phase of endings and new beginnings. As the lunar energy is withdrawn from us, it is natural to turn inward for healing, rest and retreat.
Each month of the year, yogis celebrate the night before New Moon as Shiva’s Night (Shivratri), a time for deep contemplation and inner quiet, a time to journey within and bask in the true inner light that exists beyond the world of form. Shiva is many things to many people. For me, Shiva represents a peaceful spiritual awareness of inner freedom and oneness through my personal relationship with God.
Shiva’s greatest New Moon night of the year is called Maha Shivratri, which occurs each year in either February or March on the 13th or the 14th night of the Moon’s waning cycle, in the month of Phalguna, when the New Moon is in (sidereal) Aquarius. The Great Night of Shiva takes place in (sidereal) Aquarius because Lord Shiva presides over this astrological sign, which is symbolized by the Water Bearer who pours forth the “water of life,” known as kundalini shakti, the essence of spiritual power, wisdom, purity and peace. In 2012 in India, this auspicious celebration takes place on Monday, Feb. 20.
The ancient rishis of India understood that the days around the New Moon in Aquarius are a special time for connecting with the inner light of Shiva. Physiological and bio-energetic processes can become activated through spiritual practices like chanting and meditation. This is related to the Sun and the Moon alignment that takes place not only “up there” in the heavens but also “down here” via the chakras of our bioenergetic system. During Maha Shivratri, the alignment is most profound as it takes place in Aquarius, the sign of higher wisdom through which kundalini shakti streams so powerfully. The next few days especially can be a wonderful time for contemplation and reflection, to tap into deep recesses of spiritual power, clear out outmoded notions and patterns and recharge body-mind-spirit with new intentions.
The late great Siddha yogi Baba Muktananda said, “This universe is Shiva’s own garden…Meant for a joyous stroll.” Lord Shiva is always dancing the whole of creation into existence, but on his Great Night, the possibilities for connecting with the Supreme Reality of the Divine Self within are greater than ever. Whether you are celebrating Shivratri or Mardi Gras (or both as I recommend), I wish you the most joyous stroll.