This New Moon lunar cycle starts with the fireworks of our first eclipse of 2023. Yes, we’re heading into eclipse season, which means the Full Moon in this cycle is also an eclipse.
Let’s talk about navigating eclipse seasons.
Eclipses have captured the attention of all beings since earth began. Perhaps the creatures of ancient oceans didn’t notice eclipses in their shadowy depths, but birds and animals of all kinds, and peoples all over the globe, certainly do.
In the eerie darkness of a solar eclipse, or the spectacle of a Full Moon turning slowly red, what is usually seen is obscured. We sometimes catch sight of what is hidden.
Last year’s eclipses were on the Taurus–Scorpio axis. This year’s are transitional. Our first pair will be in Aries and Scorpio. The pair later this year will be in Libra and Taurus. The nodes of the Moon have reached the earliest degrees of Taurus (North) and Scorpio (South). They will shift into Aries (North) and Libra (South) on July 17.
Eclipses are times out of ordinary time when we can expect the unexpected. They are always significant in world events, but vary in their personal impact.
This lunar cycle is a great time to keep an eye on your birth chart. Will either eclipse aspect your chart? If not, you may not notice much. If yes, pay attention to what comes up. Whatever emerges offers clues about the influence of the eclipse in your life. Changes will unfold over the next six months, or more.
Another note: Eclipses are not good times for setting intentions, manifestation work, or most other rituals you might do during a New or Full Moon.
This is because the forces at play during an eclipse are strong and unusual. Any actions we take will have unpredictable consequences. It would be like trying to catch a fish in a whirlpool, or find one particular leaf in a windstorm.
Our best move is to pay attention. What draws your eye? What do you find yourself thinking about? Feeling? Noticing? Consider these as potential oracles without diving into interpretation too quickly.
The energy of an eclipse feels unpredictable, chaotic, and fast. This will be especially true of the first eclipse at the New Moon in Aries on April 20. Yet this lunar cycle also includes events that will slow us down.
During this cycle, we’ll experience 2023’s first Mercury retrograde. Mercury has already entered the retrograde shadow, moving more slowly than its average speed.
Mercury stations retrograde on April 21 at 15º37’ Taurus while conjunct the Moon. Mercury reaches cazimi on May 1 and station direct on May 12. Our minds will move more slowly than usual. This could be grounding, a good thing in a chaotic time, or we might feel we’re struggling to keep up. Plan accordingly.
Pluto’s entry into Aquarius can also slow down our energy as planets enter fixed signs or air signs. Pluto draws us into the depths, where perceptions are shadowy. Life can feel intense.
The Sun enters Taurus soon after the April 20 New Moon to square Pluto. On May 1, the same day Mercury reaches the Sun, Pluto stations retrograde at 0º21’ Aquarius, intensifying its focus in the first degree of Aquarius.
New Moon in Aries to Full Moon in Scorpio: Paired Eclipses
The New Moon solar eclipse in Aries on April 20 is a rare hybrid eclipse. It will appear as a total solar eclipse in some regions, a partial eclipse in others, or at the edges of its range, an annular solar eclipse. Hybrid eclipses happen about once every ten years.
Visible in regions in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, people in western Australia, East Timor, and eastern Indonesia will see some version of this eclipse.
The New Moon occurs at 29º50’ Aries, the final, intense degree of the sign.
There is a belief in some circles that planets close to the end of one sign or the beginning of another are “cuspy,” that is, they blend together characteristics of both signs. It’s actually the opposite.
Look at any adjacent signs. You will see their characteristics are not similar at all. It’s as if each sign addresses the blind spots and deficiencies of the one before it. So the final degree of a sign acts more as the edge of a steep cliff than a mushy blend.
This is a North Node eclipse, increasing its desirous nature and quick movement. Other intensifiers include separating conjunctions with Jupiter and Eris, and an applying square to Pluto.
This eclipse will feel like looking into the Sun (metaphorically — doing this for real can damage your eyesight). We’ll gaze into the heart of our own desires, the molten core of what we want. The applying square to Pluto might also offer clues to what Pluto’s time in Aquarius will mean for us personally.
Four hours after the New Moon, the Sun enters Taurus. Most years, this shift from fiery Aries into calm Taurus invites us to relax into the wonders of spring. This year, the square to Pluto opens a chasm under our feet. On the heels of the eclipse, we may wonder where to find solid ground.
On April 21, 24 hours after the Sun’s ingress, Mercury stations retrograde at 15º37’ Taurus, tightly conjunct the Moon at 15º53’. Uranus is nearby, potentially influencing the character of this retrograde, although Mercury is turning away and will not reach Uranus until June 4.
On April 23, we reach the Crescent Moon. The Moon at 18º26’ Gemini separates from a conjunction with Venus at 14º36’. These two had much to talk about. Mercury (15º19’ Taurus) forms a sextile to Mars (15º06’ Cancer). We think about how to take care of others, and ourselves, in grounded ways.
April 23 is Mercury’s evening set. The planet of mind and communication will not be visible again in the sky until they rise, after the cazimi.
April 25 sees Jupiter’s morning rise. The Great Benefic is now far enough from the Sun to be seen again. This increases Jupiter’s capacity to act, bringing expansion and good fortune.
On April 27 the First Quarter brings the Moon at 07º21’ Leo to square the Sun at 07º21’ Taurus. At the same time, Mars at 17º17’ Cancer squares Chiron at 17º08’ Aries. We may feel impatient with the pace of change. We’re emotionally tuned in to what needs to be healed and want more action.
On May 1 Pluto stations retrograde at 0º21’ Aquarius. Pluto has been sitting in this first degree of Aquarius since entering the sign on March 23. This has been a deep, intense introduction to Pluto’s time in the sign of fixed air. What have we noticed so far?
The Gibbous Moon arrives on May 1 less than 30 minutes before Mercury’s cazimi. The Moon at 26º18’ Virgo is ruled by Mercury. All three — Sun, Moon, Mercury — are in earth signs. We may feel this Mercury–Sun conjunction in our bodies, without being able to find the words to express what we sense.
Full Moon in Scorpio to New Moon in Taurus: Slowing Down
The Full Moon in Scorpio on May 5 is the second eclipse of 2023. The Sun and Moon at 14º58’ Taurus and Scorpio are 10º away from the nodes at 04º03’, making this a penumbral rather than full eclipse of the Moon.
The eclipse will be visible throughout Europe and Asia and south all the way to Antarctica, although the shadow crossing the Moon may be so faint in some places that it will be difficult to notice.
Astrologically, this eclipse will be intense and significant, not faint at all.
The Sun is separating from Mercury (8º57’ retrograde) but still within orb, while moving into conjunction with Uranus (18º41’), involving both planets in this eclipse Full Moon. The Sun and Moon also move towards a sextile and trine with Mars at 21º36’ Cancer.
Mars may not be at its best in the Moon’s home, but still rules this eclipse as it did the last one. Aries is Mars’s bright daytime home, while Scorpio is his shadowy nighttime abode. Mars in Scorpio is associated with secrets and taking action under the cover of darkness.
Pluto also plays a role. As the modern ruler of Scorpio, it adds an extra layer of intensity from the first degree of Aquarius. Jupiter, the next planet to enter Taurus, is within 3º of a square to Pluto, another signal that this Full Moon has secrets.
The Moon aligns with the South Node, the place of letting go. As we approach the end of the Taurus–Scorpio eclipses, what are we done with? What can we finally, once and for all, let go of?
On May 7, still within the Full Moon phase, Venus enters the sign of Cancer. Our relationships, creativity, and finances shift focus from Gemini cleverness into Cancerian caring. Emotions are centered.
On May 9 we enter the Disseminating phase with the Moon at 3º20’ Capricorn. This Moon forms tight aspects to the nodes, trining the North Node at 3º59’ Taurus and sextiling the South at 3º59’ Scorpio. There’s also a developing trine with Mercury retrograde at 7º09’ Taurus.
The Sun and Uranus are conjunct at 18º20’ and 18º54’ Taurus. Change is happening under our feet. We reflect on what the eclipse season might mean for us over the long term, while realizing all the data are not yet available.
On May 12 the Last Quarter Moon in Aquarius squares the Taurus Sun at 21º36’. The Sun separates from Uranus. The Moon is well past the conjunction with Pluto. This Aquarian Moon wants a plan. This is an intellectual Moon, ready to put words on paper.
On May 14 Mercury stations direct at 5º50’ Taurus. Direct motion will allow our minds to focus outward and become more active again, although this will take time. Mercury will clear the retrograde shadow on May 31 and enter Gemini June 11.
We reach the Balsamic Moon on May 15 at 9º56’ Aries. Balsamic Moons are usually quiet times, creating an introspective mood as we prepare for the New Moon. The Moon in Aries creates a sense of urgency around our release work. As this first eclipse season comes to a close, we want to let go of as much as possible.
Jupiter enters Taurus during this phase, on May 16. This ushers in a slower, more contemplative time for Jupiter, in part because it will square Pluto on May 17. Jupiter’s Taurean journey begins with an invitation to the underworld.
The New Moon in Taurus on May 19 moves us out of eclipse season. The effects of the two eclipses are still unfolding, yet at this New Moon we’re back on solid ground.
The New Moon at 28º25’ Taurus is sextile Mars (29º26’ Cancer) and Neptune (27º12’ Pisces), and forms an out-of-sign square to Pluto (0º17’ Aquarius).
The connections to active caring (Mars in Cancer), spiritual exploration (Neptune in Pisces), and a deep examination of principles (Pluto in Aquarius) all signal the festival associated with this New Moon: This is Wesak, the celebration of the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. In Buddhist tradition, this is a time of spiritual insight and grace.
Jupiter, the North Node, Mercury, and Uranus all in Taurus invite us to connect our spirituality to the earth beneath our feet and transform our convictions into positive change.
Mary Pat Lynch is a consulting astrologer based in the mountains of western North Carolina. Her background includes psychological astrology, as well as mythic, magical, and archetypal perspectives. She publishes a blog focused on the lunar cycle, with podcast episodes for each New and Full Moon.