Bill Jarosin Presents: Moon-Phase Astrology at Tree of Life

The Snow Moon
  February 2 – March 4, 2011

The second full moon after the winter solstice is called the Snow Moon or, depending on the tradition involved, any number of other names: Storm Moon, Mourning Moon, Hunger Moon, Lenten Moon (when Lent falls within its scope, which it does not this year), or Ice Moon (which can refer to the moon before this one). Annette Hinshaw in Earthtime Moontime calls it the Fasting, or Weaning, Moon. The Snow Moon is so named because in many northern-hemisphere cultures it is the time of greatest snowfall. But the meaning is as much metaphoric as literal, and draws upon a common thread in the various names for this moon: Snow, Storm, Mourning, Hunger, Lenten. This is a time, historically in these northern cultures, when the last stores of winter food are consumed; a time to ration, scrimp, and fast. Symbolically, this is a time of challenge, when one sees that despite the growing length of days, winter is not yet through with us. The heart of winter (under the preceding Wolf Moon) is past, but we’re still in the woods. We are challenged to endure; it is a time of initiation into hidden knowledge, into our deeper selves (as if still buried under the snow); a time for reflecting on life and yet making hopeful plans for the coming spring. Wherever one is on the globe, however, this is a time when the body and soul are tested. (Again, I thank Annette Hinshaw for the seed of this idea.) One is pressed to define survival, to draw conclusions from experience. In harsh winter weather, it can indeed be about the body’s ability to cope, but when we remain warm in our homes, this phase of the moon asks us to consider how our protection from the elements—this home we live in—depends upon so many other people to have made it happen. We see how our needs are intertwined with others in facing not just physical, but emotional and spiritual survival as well. Below the equator, or in warmer northern latitudes, one is tested under the Snow Moon (Hinshaw’s Fasting Moon) in a further way: given a more forgiving climate, one is asked to “ration” self-protective behavior and physically move outward into the world to build community, a kind of “fasting” in that we let go of a narrow definition of self to acknowledge in others the reflection of our own needs.

The Phases

As mentioned in the introduction, the four quarter phases are discussed here. They are 1. new (in the heart of the dark moon, though some argue that “new” should refer to the first sign of the crescent sliver), 2. first quarter, 3. full, 4. last quarter, and 5. the dark moon. The crescent phases are incorporated, where noteworthy, into the quarter information. (Complete information about the phases and this column as a whole is in the Introduction.)

Dates given below are for the “height” of each phase, based on angle to the sun. Exact times on the 24-hour clock are given for GMT (Greenwich Mean Time: London), EST (Eastern Standard Time: New York), and PST (Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles). In practical terms, though, there is no precise delineation from one phase to the next. Expect about one day either side of the date for a “coming into” that phase and a “passing onto” the next. Allow two days either side for the full moon.

February 2/3
New Moon in Aquarius (14°)
02:31 GMT Feb 3, 21:31 EST Feb 2, 18:31 PST Feb 2
(Feb 2: Imbolc, Candlemas, Groundhog Day. Feb 3: Chinese New Year)

New moons cannot be seen; they are “held inside” the sun—conjunct, in astrological jargon. From the Earth’s viewpoint, the sun and moon are aligned (though usually not precisely with the Earth; that would be a solar eclipse). The day before and for about a day afterwards here (February 2–4), a New Moon is more specifically called the Dark Moon, a time to retrench, rest, re-imagine, and get ready. This is not primarily physical, except as our spirit and emotions are carried in energetic patterns within the body. It is a time for introspection, a retrospective upon the previous cycle. Should you actually stop the day and withdraw? No. This phase is a time or remembrance, a time to include reflection in (and on) one’s daily activities.

This year, however, the Snow Moon begins on an auspicious day, the holiday (“holy day”) of Imbolc, which is, in many old European traditions, the celebration of light following upon the noticeable lengthening of days as spring approaches. This is also the origin of Groundhog Day, an allusion to animals possibly awakening from hibernation and in doing so, predicting winter’s end. Candlemas is the same day as well, the Christian response to the coming spring (and advent of Easter); many folk rhymes hint at the ancient origin of winter-watching amidst longer days:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

The darkness of new beginnings, the New Moon, is appropriate for Imbolc, which means “in the belly,” when gestation is about to give birth, though not quite yet. Hold a candle to a fertilized egg in which the embryo is well along in development, and you will see the chick inside. This is the nature of this year’s Aquarian New Moon: everywhere spring is heralded; though nothing is formed, all is potential.

This New Moon also begins with the Chinese New Year. Aquarius signifies energy and light, swift action and quick thought. This admirably suits the Year of the Hare, which is not least among animals, incidentally, to suggest spring.

The moon will move out of Aquarius through Pisces and Aries on its way to First Quarter. This suggests a time of energy, reflection, exploration. The moon is beginning to grow, and all responses to this Snow Moon time-of-challenge, and within the gestational New Moon, should reflect a willingness to reach out with hope and anticipation beyond current circumstances to the inception of a new vision and a wish to explore its ramifications (so to speak, in Aries). What have you nurtured through winter? What has lain fallow? Now is the time to make initial steps in manifesting some project that, while not ready for the blossoming of spring, requires that materials be collected and foundations laid.

February 10/11
First Quarter Moon in Taurus (22°)
07:18 GMT Feb 11, 02:18 EST Feb 11, 23:18 PST Feb 10

What tangible form can you give a dream at a time of deep symbolic snow? A freeze is upon the world, but a light has shown the way. Taurus is earthy, tangible—but full of desire for beauty. The quarter moon is growing to full; expectation rises. The sun in late Aquarius inspires. Everything says “yes.” Find the reason, make it shine, know that success is imminent. It is this “knowing” that now responds to the Snow Moon’s test that you define a strategy of survival. Down-to-earth hope—one based in facts and experience—may be your greatest strength of all; it should show in your creation. What form will hope take? What part beauty? Make hope and beauty one and bring it into the new, small light of a promised spring.

February 18
Full Moon in Leo (29°)
08:36 GMT, 03:36 EST, 00:36 PST
(Sun enters Pisces on February 19 at 00:25 GMT)

Put on your sunglasses; that’s a Snow Moon in Leo. It’s called snow blindness. Can you stand the glare? Ask yourself: have you made something beautiful? Does it serve not only survival, but also beauty, hope—and the community? If so, you have succeeded in the test for light in the dark, sun on snow.

And we move with this into Virgo, Libra and Scorpio—all of whom will put your project to the further scrutiny of utility, balance and depth. Utility means it serves your needs and those of others around you; balance means it fits the job it’s intended for (including that of inner peace); and depth means it resounds as something true and valid, likely to give meaning on more than one level.

That’s a lot to encompass in so short a time (about one week)! But the most long-lasting of ripples can result from the slightest of movements in a clam sea. What intention have you held? What quietude have you created within yourself? As small as a hand helping others or a balanced schedule of work and play; a kind word, a new poem, a walk on the beach. Survival of the heart, in hope, shared.

February 24
Last Quarter Moon in Sagittarius (6°)
23:26 GMT, 18:26 EST, 15:26 PST

Sagittarian Moon and Piscean Sun—a combo meant for the farthest reaches of mind and soul. You should be feeling returns on the ripples you’ve made—the faintest of echoes perhaps, of a life beyond spring; what the year holds, in intimations, whispers, nudges, and hints. Take a break; rest, dream. Then get off the bed and give yourself a pinch; the moon moves through Capricorn—check that you’re still here, that fingers are still on your hand, toes on the feet; everything’s waiting to bloom, to take hold, to walk and skip and run.

March 2–4
Dark Moon in Aquarius and Pisces
(New Moon on March 4)

Time to draw in; the snow-melting fervor of your survival challenge has been met. Time to approach the end of winter with foundations laid in productivity-within-sacrifice. This is fortuitous, as spring is soon upon us, and growth will require nutrition. For now, consider the implications of a new year, of life in a new lane, of the winds of winter braced against and ground held. The dream of sweet life is renewed in the slender rays of a lengthening day, and from the dark of this moon, a glow of a new season can be felt approaching.