Full Moon in Sagittarius: honing the spiritual teachings and avoiding spiritual bypass

full moon sagittarius


A Full Moon in Sagittarius: honing the spiritual teachings and avoiding spiritual bypass

I’m sitting in swealtry heat, listening to a thunderstorm coming on. It rumbles. The air quivers, it’s so thick with humid. The sky is turning purple with tall clouds that roil and bulge like muscle, are veined with gold threads of lighting, it’s all very electric and portent and yet promising of some kind of rinse and release. Nothing feels more like a cleanse than the moments after a really powerful summer storm.

full moon in sagittarius

It’s Memorial Day, and so everyone is either out of town, sitting at a lake cabin somewhere, or if they’ve stuck around they are hiding in air conditioned depths. Or wilting in the yard with an odd long weekend, a rare Monday off.

In a few hours, I’ll be leading my regular class at Tula. I intend to make it moony, and cool, and balmy.

We need a little balm.

Seasonal Moons

This full moon is the last of the season. Generally, seasons have three full moons, occasionally four, but then one of them is called a Blue Moon. Next year that will happen in the spring season, between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice. But not this year. For now, this is the finality and fullness of Spring.

And it hasn’t been easy. The last few lunations have been a little like ripping off a band-aid. On the one hand, there has been a deep and primal stirring and shakedown. Personal truths, conflicted realities, and a deep longing for justice have been stirred up. I mean, voices have been found. Old wounds have been opened. The pain of the world has created genuine longing. Structures have been proved to be unstable.

On the other hand, simply opening wounds is not a healing of them. Big feelings, old and generational questions, deep systemic turmoil and personal responsibility are never going to be an easy things to sit with. There will always be resistance to change. There will be resistance when we speak our truth. And there will be resistance to systemic change. I mean this, socially. I mean this, personally. People get mean and triggers are triggered. Bullies will bully, hard. Discomfort looms. When we’re uncomfortable we’re conservative, reactive, prone toward duck and cover moves into what feels familiar even if we know it won’t solve things in the long run.

The trappings of spirituality, hand me down values, or merely doing what feels good in the moment might be fine if we're just trying to cope. But there's more to life than coping with it. Click To Tweet

Sagittarius vs Scorpio

This full moon opens in Sagittarius, if you’re looking at the tropical zodiac, Scorpio if you’re using the Vedic or sidereal calendar (more on that, some other day. Later). Both interpretations point to a similar psychological and anthropological truth: answering soul and social questions requires depth. It requires something that has a tinge of the sacred to it. Answering calls up and rarefies personal beliefs and values. The questions are poorly served by the merely ornamental. The trappings of spirituality, hand me down values, or merely doing what feels good in the moment might be fine if we’re just trying to cope. But there’s more to life than coping with it. Generally speaking, coping skills and healing strategies are altogether different things.

A Re-Examining

full moon sagittarius water swellThis full moon is about rooting around in our beliefs, re-examining our spiritual teachings and prejudices, finding healing in communion through things that serve the soul – and humanity – rather than the ego or the imagination. There’s a tinge of courageously burning through inhibition and doubt. Most of that comes through the tough work of personal growth, acting out of deeper values and unwavering principals, communal alliances and emergent connections. There’s a whole lot of boundaries, questioning. But, this full moon is actually rather quieting and soothing, full and lush like, compared to the astrological riot that has been happening. It’s like the charged hush of an odd Monday off, or the power of a summer thunderstorm.

The planet Jupiter looms large (everything about Jupiter is large. Swollen. Growth. Support. Jupiter is about teachers and gurus and guidance, spiritual and principled truths, the more-than-personal) as does a grand trine in water for Venus, Jupiter, and Neptune. Jupiter is all about support, wisdom, and expansion. Water brings a sense of swelling, heaviness, flooding, and flow…water is also a connective element, a cohesive and communicative element, related to moon and to emotions. So much of the pain of aforementioned ripping off of band-aids and showing up of conflict might have a chance to resolve through support, love, interconnectivity and coming to greater honesty and integrity with ourselves. Financially, relationally, socially. Personally.

Life lessons are best solved not with palliatives, but with sincerity. Click To Tweet

A Reckoning

I’ve mentioned in the last post that this summer is going to have some serious reckoning, some life and love lessons, some willed or unwilled looking at our own stories, beliefs, behaviors and histories. This full moon here is a chance to sooth and rinse and nourish those pangs with a reminder that life lessons are best solved not with palliatives, but with sincerity. I repeat: life lessons are best solved not with palliatives, but with sincerity.

You can’t plug a broken heart with a jerry-rigged solution. Nor can you fix deeper social problems with simple, single, or propagandist answers. We know that, right about now. Our egos and hearts and social worlds are all a little tender. And this full moon is less about howling wild or losing sleep or losing control than it is a sweetness of realizing it’s okay, actually. It’s okay.

Have you ever taken a walk under the full moon on the cusp of summer and felt, somehow, loved? That’s what I mean. That’s where we are. Emotionally exhausted but okay, right here in this moment in time.

If you can, spend time today and in the next few weeks with loved ones, in simple but appreciated sweetness. Allow creativity. Let some of the routine or dogmatic or simply stubborn, go. Notice where in your own life things have become swollen and charged, and look for that increased communication, that flow. Seriously: look for, notice, and initiate communication.

Somewhere, something is giving in great rushes. Somewhere, something is cut to the bone sacred and meaningful and loving. Even if it is radically unlike what we’ve come to expect love or meaning to be.

Look for connection and intersectional touchstones. There are relationships and pathways. Often times untraditional, unexpected, seemingly foreign. But they are absolutely true.


full moon in sagirrarius

Sagittarius is deeply spiritual, representative of the soul’s journey from blind faith to wisdom. He’s a dual sign, half man and half horse, evocative of the evolution of spiritual principals from the merely pretty, or the merely perfunctory or rote, to the real. That duality reflects back into the conflict that lies in our own private experience, the duality that simply is in the subconscious working of things. It both creates a sense of wanderlust and horizon gazing, quest taking, longing for meaning, and it can veer off into the simply dogmatic, ritualized, overly religious, or looking for wisdom in others.

It can backslide into spiritual bypass, is what I’m saying.

Core values don’t change easily. They can be trenchant. Sagittarius tends to feel the pressure between ego, career, family and social roles and deep underlying truth or principals. There is a kind of friction, and there’s a kind of passion. There is a driving force to stay committed, to uphold ideals and be upright in a world that is often low down and dirty. Or just mundane. Sagittarius feels torn between going forth boldly and not wanting to rock the boat. There is a kind of constant inner re-calibration, a testing, a veering between settling and a refusal to settle because they know, something, deep inside. There is an inner light, and inner call, and an inner truth. But there is also reality.

And this is all good. Unless we can look at our personal beliefs and practices from a perspective of questioning, they become hollow. It is good to really revisit what is most true in our heart, what we’ve learned, what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

Sagittarius teaches the difficulty of facing our own conservative nature, examining our dogmatism, and honing our way to real.

Full moon in sagittarius_Jupiter

Ruled by Jupiter

Masculine Jupiter rules Sagittarius. Jupiter is a tremendous planet, protective, ponderous, pulling. It’s said to be responsible for growth, wisdom, evolution, self-development, faith, higher purpose, and sanctuary in a life. It’s related to spiritual teachings, teachers, mentors. Out of balance, Jupiter veers toward a sense of hopelessness, loss of faith, or simply ignorance of the role of such things in our lives. Jupiter teaches enlightened psychology, wisdom, higher vision, hope. Whereas Pisces aspects the interior, emotional questions of personal growth, teachings and teachers, ideals and soul, Sagittarius expresses the outward exploration and expression of those same questions. Faith, hope, optimism surge through Jupiter’s signs, lending a deeply spiritual and religious flavor. Once we land on a true and authentic course, Sagittarian devotion is unshakeable. Devotion is soothing in and of itself. It is the infusion of meaning. It’s enlighten, ing. It is luminous.

But the longing for belief or attachment to beliefs brings up a sense of vulnerability around our beliefs. People who were raised Catholic, for example, tend to struggle with the faith even after they’ve left the church. Others who crave spirituality cling to the forms and identifiers of spirituality without really testing it out in real life. Those who feel themselves seeking are prone to mistake the role of Guru, project spirituality or learning or truth onto others rather than landing responsibility in their own practices. Spiritual practices themselves become a kind of mask or escapism.


full moon sagittarius faithThe testing of faith, the honing of questions subjects our beliefs to transformation.

This is a scary prospect, for sure. But it’s also where transformation and actual expansion is. It’s where we find and reclaim the beauty and truths of our childhood Catholicism, for example, and realize how deeply personal some of the ethics or sacraments are aside from the parts we’ve decided to reframe. Or, it’s where our yoga practices come off of the mat and into the heart.

Sagittarius is a moving, flexible, questing sign that urges us to find personal and lived expressions of truth rather than accepting dogma or retreating into what feels good in the moment.

Again, what that looks like right now is a need to look into our principals, clarify and communicate our values, resolve what has become muddy or unsustainable with something that resounds with deeper meaning.


full moon astral insights

Mars reflecting upon himself rules Scorpio. The nature of Mars is to bring strength, just as the nature of Jupiter is to bring wisdom. Uniquely this summer and into fall, Mars is going to be stomping around, reforming boundaries, shifting foundations and god knows what all. In Scorpio, Mars strengthens the emotional.

Boon and blasting, both. Scorpio is a water sign, which again brings in emotionality, mooniness and subconscious elements (as opposed to what seems purely material and obvious and outward and ‘real life’, like). Strong emotions can be turbulent, just as much as fire can be. Think of monsoon, of hurricane, think of drowning or sinking. Scorpio questions are about learning to float, not drown.

Scorpio is a fixed sign, which means it is trying to stabilize something, but Scorpio is generally struggling to do that because water is so fluid. Not only are our emotions fluid and constantly changing, but so too are all the things we’ve emotionally invested in. So Scorpio tends to worry about the things they’ve emotionally attached to and often tries to control those things.  Self. Others Things.

They are notorious for being able to penetrate deeply into the emotions of others. They know exactly how to reach in and touch a nerve or a need, but of course this only lasts for so long.

Serenity in the strife

Eventually others may tire of the emotional power struggle and Scorpio can lose the battle. When this happens, the dreaded emotional loss feels like a loss of self entirely, since Scorpio has so over invested. Scorpio needs to learn how to navigate and flow with emotions rather than try to control them or the emotions of others. Emotional strength means not being afraid of emotional change and fluidity. Through the nature of Scorpio, we learn to concentrate our emotional power on something more than just feeling good. We tend to see the depth of our emotional fears and insecurities. Of course that’s the great teaching and genius, as well as the challenge.

Once Scorpio makes an emotional commitment to something, they are tenacious and will not let go until they feel they’ve exhausted it. Scorpio needs to realize that growth isn’t always dramatic, and drama isn’t necessarily truthful or more purposive than serenity. Growth can be organic, rather than violent, and it’s often a lesson of gratitude and confidence in what has already happened. It is not necessarily something that’s full of upheaval and drama leaving everyone’s guts on the floor or hearts on their sleeves; even big or hard emotions can resolve to love. Growth can have serenity in it.


full moon in sagittarius

Radha waiting for Krishna. Radha is sometimes depicted as a milkmaid, sometimes as an incarnation of Lakshmi or the goddess of prosperity

This full moon peels the sky with Anuradha Nakshatra, a star in the constellation of Scorpio. Anuradha is symbolized both as a spear – or a staff used as a weapon – and in later evolution of that spear, a lotus flower. It’s born in the aggressive, passive aggressive, or turbulent wounded depths of Scorpio but blossoms into friendship, alliance, and devotion.

Anuradha translates to following, or succeeding, the goddess Radha, one of the companions of Krishna. The translation following or succeeding is split and intentional: it implies both devotion, and actual success based on that devotedness to the divine. But this requires a little more parsing.

A friendship

Radha was unique among Krishna’s companions in that she was not his lover. She was his friend. The concept of god-as-the-divine-friend is important in this area of life: success comes from friendship, whereas romantic involvement, emotional involvement, and Scorpio’s revelation of fears and insecurities, tends to lack the objective and devotional. It mistakes devotion for obsession. The lesson of Anuradha is the wisdom of friendliness. The deity of this place in the sky is Mitra (friend, friendly, or friendliness). Mitra’s gift or blessing is an ability to befriend enemies and unify allies, tending to open hearts and minds to common goals.

We can confess to peers or friends what we couldn't say to a husband, a boss, or a judge like god or spiritual advisor. Click To Tweet

Krishna’s most devoted companion was not his wife (wives), but his friend. True enough, isn’t it, that we can often share our problems with good friends more openly than we can with partners or family? This devotion is available through friendship simply because a friendship is not as needy or vulnerable as is, say, a sexual relationship, a job relationship, or a familial one. We can confess to peers or friends what we couldn’t say to a husband, a boss, or a judge like god or spiritual advisor. A friend is a really good place for our intentions, our insecurities, or our questions to land. Anuradha is about anchoring the heart and stabilizing emotions on solid structures, commonality and inter-connectivity, friendship, rather than on things that reflect our own needs.


Reflecting on Full

This full moon is really thick, and sweet like water is sweet. Think about it: from now until the Summer Solstice we’re going to have some of the sweetest and freshest and most nakedly delicious fruits of the season, days of the year, weather of the summer. It’s like cream – the sweetest stuff that rises to the top. We’re in the midst of things that don’t need embellishment, things that are perfect in themselves. Shoulders can be bare. Food doesn’t need salt. Skies don’t need telescopes. Days don’t need to-do lists, all the time.

Looking for rituals or to the moon is really just a way to reflect on our own cyclical nature, and these coming days in particular are demonstrably full. Our lives are full.

What, in your life right now, gives or lends or juices your life with fullness? Notice that I don’t say this has to be a positive thing. But there is something in our lives, right at this moment, lighting it up and keeping us going. We so often reflect on what we don’t have or what we want. Even our spiritual or yoga practices veer that way. It’s important that we sometimes reflect on what we already have, right here and now. What is that thing in this moment or at this stage? Even loss is holy. Even work is sacred. If we don’t realize where we’re finding meaning, we’ll never be able to wonder if it’s workable, discover more meaning, let go or discover. There is no yoga with out vi-yoga. Neti, neti.

What, in your life right now, gives or lends or juices your life with fullness? Click To Tweet

Honing the spiritual practices

It is a really good time to re-open your spiritual teachers, principals, and practices to question. Who or what are your teachers and teachings? Do they still feel legitimate? What are you practicing and why? Part of the truth here is that we grow, and sometimes we out-grow. Does what you do actually line up with what you believe or want, or are you projecting somewhere?

Part of that process is celebrating, gratitude, connecting or reconnecting. Revisit a favorite book or make contact with an important teacher from your path. Recall a practice that was meaningful to you and spend some time with it from this new vantage point.

And/or, realize there’s a hole and fill it with wonder. There are so many resources, so many options, so many opportunities. Sometimes getting out of your dogma or rote is the best way to remember what it is to love. Go to someone else’s yoga class or sacred space. Join a family member or friend in their rituals. No one ever said you were supposed to stay in your yoga class or belief set, forever. This full moon, ask what other people are doing that feels meaningful, purposive, healing.

Don’t waste your summer working

Nuff said.

Use your Scents

This Full Moon, encourage your sense of adventure, open heartedness, and exploration with things like eucalyptus, yang-ylang, and geranium. Lavender, neroli, jasmine and frankincense can all help with stress and tension. Or, cool addictive nature with basil, juniper, or bergamot.

My favorite in the last week or so has been carrier oil + sandalwood (relax fire and pitta and hyper-analysis into spirit) + bergamot (don’t be so self righteous).  It feels so dead on that I’m guessing I’ll use it for a month or more, great for this full moon cycle.

Looking for high quality essential oils?

Karin CarlsonKarin was an anthropologist, a barmaid, and a journalist before she bottomed out. Yoga saved her; she figures it might help others.  Karin’s teaching in jails, crisis centers, and church basements became a non-profit in 2007. Based in Minneapolis, MN, discover and practice with Karin online in her Collections for Gather Yoga or at returnyoga.org

Feature images by Karin Carlson, NASA,Lesly Juarez, Aziz Acharki, Johannes PlenioBrittany GriffinJoshua FullerJosh ApplegateGift Habeshaw on Unsplash

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