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Today, and for the next few days, we’re in the last phase of the lunar cycle, known as the balsamic — when the Moon is 45 degrees behind the Sun, or less. I just spent some time looking for how the word ‘balsamic’ got associated with this phase of the Moon.
There were no references that I could find in astrology dictionaries. I checked Culpeper’s Herbal, to no avail. The best information I could find was from the old reliable Etymology Online Dictionary, which defines balsam as “aromatic resin used for healing wounds and soothing pains.”
I don’t know if the mysterious name of this somewhat mysterious Moon phase relates to that, though let’s consider the balsamic phase one of resolution, of healing, of closure and of preparing to come together.
It will be a few days before the Moon and Sun form their once-only this year conjunction in Cancer. That’s exact Wednesday, July 15, at 9:24 pm EDT (July 16 at 01:24 UTC). Even though it’s in the future, we can align with the energy of this aspect pattern as soon as we’re aware of it.
We will have more to say over the coming days about this lunation, but I will offer you a short preview now. This is a potent event for a few reasons, one of them being that the Moon-Sun conjunction will be exactly square Eris; that in effect brings Eris fully into the scenario, and that in turn is urging introspection.
Be mindful of the ways you experience being divided against yourself. Be mindful of any effort to deceive by compartmentalization or fragmentation. Be aware of subversive agendas, yours or those of anyone else.
Such a close square from the New Moon to Eris qualifies as a proving moment for Eris, and we will be getting it in the form of a square aspect. The themes in the paragraph above are specifically related to Eris; there will be others we don’t know about yet.
At the same time as that pattern happens, Mercury is conjunct Mars, and both are opposite Pluto. Note that this is a significant, unusual Pluto aspect, timed for within hours of when the New Horizons spacecraft makes its closest approach to Pluto after traveling three billion miles to get there (that will happen on Tuesday, July 14).
That will be as palpable as Moon-Sun square Eris, though it feels different. That is the seeming outer engagement or confrontation. The sides in this are not equally balanced and most people will not pick up on where the power really is — consider if that describes a situation in your life.
In essence, the party who is direct and real about what they are feeling is going to prevail. This is a situation where sincerity, clarity and the ability to articulate one’s viewpoint actually matter. So be cool, clear-headed and focus your words.
The New Moon is arranging itself around this kind of situation, or describes the inner politics of something. And remember, there is a purpose, which is authentic resolution. It will help to want it. You may not notice what’s happening if you don’t. But if you’re interested, this is a rich moment to set your intentions and carefully guide the craft of your mind.
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Wonderful piece, Eric, as always! I don’t know about the “balsamic moon” on any authority, but botanical instinct tells me that it’s about cycles, seasons. Summer’s the time when the balsam or resin of a plant/tree is at its most productive and detectable. The fir family exudes one kind of balsam but it may be a clue to other kinds. I just consulted the Great Goog for balsam fir and the “Maine Cooperative Extension” says to gather the tips — for wreaths and other products — in November when the balsam has “sealed” itself off with some kind of waxy substance. Before the autumn and the self-waxing, the fir is very sticky and afterward it goes dormant again till spring/summer.
xxx oooo Ra
And, yes, so right about the healing. The balsam from fir (and maybe other trees) is still used to heal. As well as a salve, The Native Americans used/use it to ward off colds and such, too, as a tea or diluted in some way to drink. I once chewed on piñon sap from a tree I hung out with in New Mexico and the energy shot right down to my toes, wonderful!
Cannot find a reference for this but perhaps the “balsamic” refers to the timing within the phase – as in cooked this much but not more, like al dente spaghetti. I am thinking about tea. Green tea is fresh from the tree. Darjeeling is slightly roasted. Oolong is more roasted and black tea is fully roasted. Perhaps balsamic is a partial process comparable to a fermentation process.
Just a thought…
From Lilline Dugan, via email:
I have studied Astrology for many years and
I have learned that the balsamic phase of the Moon refers to the day before the New Moon.
Balsamic Vinegar is harvested on this day because it has its most potent bitter, but sweet taste.
During the waning cycle of the Moon, energy is gradually pulled away from the Earth by the Moon, as contrasted by waxing cycle when the Moon’s energy is increasing given to the Earth building to its most abundant day of energy, the Full Moon.
Gardening practices reflect taking advantage of this distinction by planting in waxing periods and weeding in waning periods.
This translates to human endeavor:
– Starting projects, exploring new ventures and engaging in inter-personal activities in waxing periods.
– Finalizing projects, tying loose ends and relaxing to recuperate in waning periods.
I hope this is helpful to the discussion today.
Thank you for your Astrological teaching and your articles which astutely offer news events interpreted through the lens of Astrology through Planet Waves.
From Jennifer Cobb, via email:
I think Dane Rudhyar coined the term ‘balsamic’.
Here’s a link to his article: http://www.khaldea.com/rudhyar/astroarticles/planetssymbols_1.shtml
In the second paragraph, third section, he says: “In astrology this phase has been called the “Balsamic Moon,” a term whose origin is not too clear, but is probably alchemical.”
The synchronciity continues. Just last evening I looked at the Moon and thought “Why is this phase called balsamic? What does that word mean?”
After a quick trip through some vinegar references, I added an astro-word or two to my search and came up with a fairly comprehensive and informative piece from what I would normally consider a reliable source.
One quotation highlighted by the editor stood out for me:
“Doing Balsamic goes against the cultural grain. We’re afraid of loss. Anything but endless upward growth appears unfortunate. The downward arc of cycles is difficult. Yet fearing Balsamic means shunning the medicine that can make us well. This Moon phase brings a profound initiation into cyclic intelligence, like the menstrual huts or Moon lodges of long ago, when women would bleed on the dark of the Moon and withdraw from the tribe’s daily business.”
Wonderful article Eric, as usual.
My unqualified take on a Balsamic Moon is similar to both Lilline & Geoff.
For my gardening I have been using a Moon Calendar as a planting guide for all things gardening, available @ http://astrovision.co.nz/. In addition, I also recall from a previous publication matters in relation to surgery and what the best days were in terms of types of surgery needed, and that I will have to go looking for, will shout when I find it!
Similar to Geoff, I went straight to http://www.astro.com/astrology/in_dg_balsamic_e.htm, a site that I visit from time to time. Reading this interesting article, I am beginning to ask myself a few more questions.
Seems to speak to me of rest, renewal, letting go of the old (women & menstruation) as the moon is feminine, allowing something to ferment and allowing that process the time that this ritual presents, (pregnancy) in other words Alchemy (transformation). Alchemy is a natural part of Mother Nature and working with her cycles.
Interesting to read Eric’s comments on the effects on Eris of its square to the New Moon and the concurrent Mercury-Mars conjunction to Pluto.
The New Horizons flyby has revealed this week that Pluto is slightly larger than Eris after all, the reverse conjecture having been a major contributor to Pluto’s demotion to dwarf planet. One might expect discord – it is Eris after all – but scientifically it looks like resolution, healing and closure.
For greater clarity and accuracy, the first sentence of my previous post should read:
Interesting to read Eric’s comments on the effects on Eris of its square to the New Moon and the concurrent Mercury-Mars conjunction in opposition to Pluto.