There have been a number of articles on this site regarding the relation between the Moon and the Sun and how they work in tandem to grow consciousness through experience, and you can find them by looking through either ‘Moon’ or ‘Sun’ in the category sections below, or searching the archives.
However, a surprising number of you have emailed me with questions about the phasal relationship between the Sun and the Moon, which we talked about in our discussion of the Nodes. What is it, and how does it play out in the chart?
The phasal relationship between the Sun and the Moon is crucial to any chart interpretation, because it gives an overall view of how we experience life and how we process that life experience. When analyzing the Nodes, the phasal relationship between the Sun and the Moon in the natal chart can be a shorthand to understanding how the nodal dynamic will apply to the chart in general. The Soli/Lunar progressed cycle, which stems from the natal phasal relationship, is also highly influential. Dane Rudhyar’s book on the progressed cycle is recommended for further details on the long term developmental interaction between the Sun and Moon.
But I’m going to do a quick little recap here of the qualities associated with the major natal phases.
The phasal relationship of the Sun and Moon is as follows:
Moon conjunct Sun exact, 0 degrees (new Moon), Moon moving away from Sun to first square
Moon square Sun exact, 90 degrees (first quarter, waxing),
Moon opposite Sun, 180 degrees (full Moon),
Moon moving past full Moon to second square, 270 degrees (third quarter, waning, 90 degrees past full Moon, towards a new conjunction).
Crises points come at the middle of each quarter, the moment where the Moon reaches 45 degrees past exact. This indicates the shift from one quarter to another, towards next phase orientation. When the Moon is less than 45 degrees behind the Sun, it is called a Balsamic Moon, and is highly significant to the interpretation of the entire chart.
New Moon through first quarter: Moon conjunct Sun, separating, to the first square
A new moon phase has the same connotation as zero Aries, no matter where it falls in the chart. True New Moon individuals are self-oriented. In order for experience to enter the consciousness, they need to experience it first hand. These are not the types to learn from other’s advice or experience. There is a strong tendency to make the same mistakes over and over again until change is inevitable. Perceptions and conclusions about the world are highly personal, with the occasional tendency towards solipsism. The South Node is usually stronger in these individuals, with the pull to past behaviours more extreme. The impulse to the North Node, if it is addressed at all, may seem vague and unimportant.
Shift to second half of the first quarter: A slow but increasing awareness of a need for change. Any attempt to reach even the smallest understanding of the North Node should be recognized and encouraged. The further away the Moon is from the conjunction/New Moon, the less the independent and isolated the orientation, but individuals with the Moon/Sun first quarter will attract repeat experiences. However, the orientation will remain independent, self-initiating, with others having little influence. Willfulness, some might say stubbornness, is an issue, yet they must come to their own truths through their own actions. There will be many direct opportunities for growth, as lessons tend to be experienced as coming from ‘outside’. Orientation may move from utter independence and lack of awareness to a hunger for experience, and ultimately moves to the crises of change initiated at the first quarter. Advantages to this Sun/Moon phase are that South Node gifts are completely instinctive and uninhibited, and available for use.
First square (Moon at 90 degrees from Sun, waxing) through second quarter: moving towards the opposition.
The exact square relates to zero Cancer and marks the beginning of a phase of initiation related to an awareness of purpose, though it may still be primarily unconscious. The nodal development may progress more quickly than with first quarter individuals, but there are more setbacks due to unforeseen crisis periods. Progress might be two steps forward, one step back, as past behaviour tends to dominate. There is a tendency to ignore, rather than confront issues that arise through conflict, delaying progress. A head in the sand policy may be in effect. In this quarter, there is greater awareness of the need for other’s consciousness and other’s help in creating one’s own destiny, and one begins to reach out for new experience.
Moon in second half of this quarter: The sense of having a purpose is stronger. An awareness of the need for change develops through crisis, but there is a naivete about putting changes into effect. An awareness of our manner of relating with the external world increases as we move towards the Full Moon phase. An awareness dawns that experiences outside our own must also be taken into consideration.
Full Moon: Moon in opposition through third quarter; Moon at 180 from the Sun, separating to 270
While the position is the equivalent to zero degrees in peaceful Libra, this phase is one of extremes. The past can fight the present. There may be see sawing back and forth between old and new ways of being. There is full awareness of others, which can sometimes lead to lack of inner development. Experience of and participation in the ‘outside world’ is at its fullest, with a full need to engage. There can be extreme retreats into old patterns counterbalanced with charges forward. In this phase we really begin to understand that our consciousness is not separate from the outside world and that our relationships with others are reflected in our relationship with ourselves.
Moon in second half of this quarter: Our orientation to our own relationship with the world changes, and we may be torn from our original comfort zones of relating and forced to make breaks with the past. As the Moon moves forward towards the last quarter phase, the consciousness becomes more and more integrated with experience and is aware of the new life intention and instinctively moves towards it. There is the increasing feeling that changes need to be made.
Moon at 270 from the Sun, second square, separating, through fourth quarter
Third quarter Moons are placed to meet major changes in life that will fulfill the soul’s intention, and life can often be eventful. The new orientation begins to be integrated into the life circumstances and here we are asked to now use what we have learned and put it into practical experience in a conscious manner. And though there are still some setbacks we begin to be more familiar with what the Soul is asking of us. The third quarter Moon can experience yet another crisis of the new orientation and there is much temptation to retreat into familiar behaviours. However, the nagging of the Soul’s intention becomes so uncomfortable at this point that it is less uncomfortable to simply plunge in and experiment with the new ways of being. Less adventurous individuals will feel that this is a very uncomfortable place indeed. Crises come when they get clear messages about what they must do and still have no clue as to how to go about it.
Balsamic Moons (less than 45 degrees behind the Sun, the closer to the Sun the more extreme) are in a category of their own. There are often last chance, extreme circumstances to arrange Soul awareness and balance, and to fulfill the Soul’s intention. The Nodes are often highly emphasized in those with Balsamic Moons. Emphasis may be on North Node at the expense of losing or sacrificing the gifts of the South Node, though more than likely constructive awareness of the South Node will be made and the new phase of relationship with the world will be engaged. If negative South Node tendencies have not been adjusted, they may be extreme. The attitude towards life may be completely changed; there is often great awareness of the need to jettison an old way of being. This phase is different from the Full Moon extremes in that there is less tug between past and present; life circumstances arrange themselves to light up and emphasize North Node activities (though aspects to the Nodes will alter this). Balsamic Moons often have a 12th house feeling, with endings and sacrifices dominant.
The Soul here is near the end of this particular journey–the closer to the Sun, the more the extremes and endings are emphasized. Its bags are packed and it’s ready to go home. At this point, nothing much is going to get in the way of what it needs to learn. Balsamic Moons are often acutely aware that their consciousness is not separate from the world, and they often feel a great responsibility to improve it, knowing that inner development and social development go hand in hand. There can be an intense desire to create something new and lasting.
It is very important to remember that there is no way to measure conscious awareness in a birth chart. Emphasis on outer planets bring extreme circumstances, but there is no way to know what lessons are carried away from those circumstances. The New Moon individual who is an experienced soul will be different from New Moon individual who is not. Both will filter their experience through their independent awareness, but the results will not be the same. Jeffrey Wolf Green in his Pluto books discusses levels of conscious awareness, as does Ken Wilber (see the recommended reading list). It’s important to remember that the soli-lunar phasal relationship is about how we process experience, and is not an indication of consciousness in and of itself (i.e., Balsamic Moons are intrinsically more conscious than New Moons).