Updated: Dec 18, 2021
The Moon continued to move after your birth. In fact, each planet did, but it was the Moon who most quickly returned to its position. In slightly over 27 days, the Moon made it back to where it was when you emerged. This cycle repeats again and again, endlessly through our lives. While astrology has various timing techniques to cover a lifetime, the Moon is still one of the most powerful for the day to day. In fact, Ptolemy explicitly says this when he speaks about timing.
The casual influence of the daily lunar activity can be noted by looking into Electional and Horary astrology. In both of these, the Moon is used as a primary significator. In simpler terms, the astrology of both picking times and answering questions relies on the action of the Moon. What it is doing, where it is, and who it is in relationship with defines much of the goodness or badness in any temporary situation. Goodness and badness here could rephrased as ease and difficulty, flow and resistance, or potentials and obstacles.
When the Moon is well-situated, looked after by a caring ruling planet, and connected to some planetary “friends”, it’s usually to get things done and make things happen. Life tends to fall into place, lightbulbs ding in our heads, and opportunities abound. When the Moon is poorly-situated, hurt or ignored by its ruling planet, and connected to adversarial or incapable planets, there is more to overcome, account for, and take care of before accomplishment can occur. This doesn’t mean nothing good or helpful will happen, just like the former situation doesn’t guarantee success. Instead, they speak of the emotional and physical concerns around us and how much they interfere or aid in our desired path forward.
With this principle in hand, we return to the birth chart and the cyclical motion of the Moon. The action of the Moon in relation to our chart will say a lot about how we are living in the day to day. This essay and the next one will be focused on the techniques used to interpret the Moon through your chart. The final one will look at integrating astrological knowledge with the tracking of physical and emotional experiences alongside the Moon.
A planet returning to its natal position is an important moment. Solar returns (usually within a day of your birthday) are extensively used in prediction and the timing of years of life. Today, astrologers pay attention to the returns of all planets, with the less frequent Jupiter and Saturn returns being especially noteworthy. Some astrologers even draw up charts for each return as one would for a Solar Revolution. This is the basic principle behind watching the Moon in its monthly motion through your chart.
While I think that drawing up charts for every return goes a bit far, there is a certain value in analyzing a planetary return. Each one denotes a renewal in a certain cycle of our life. Some are yearly like the Sun, Venus, and Mercury. Others are longer or never complete at all in a lifetime. But it is the Moon that renews itself each month. Subtle ups and downs, the flow of our health and moods, these can be found at least partially through lunar motion.
The lunar return is a renewal of our inherent lunar energies. It repeats and reiterates the physical and emotional tendencies that we possess. It is also a time of enhanced lunar influence, when what we do in the lunar realm is more impactful. Noting the days when the Moon is in your natal sign (especially the day of the return by degree) is a great starting practice. To do thus, pull out your chart and find the sign and degree of your Moon. Then, head to an ephemeris (like this one or this one) and check each month for when the Moon is in that same sign.
This period can be useful for reflection, introspection, and nurture. You may feel more tender or vulnerable, especially if the Moon is powerful in your chart. Really, whatever your natal lunar indications are, they will come out more strongly at this time. Meeting its needs and seeking fulfillment is important in caring for this part of yourself. Because this is a time of renewal, leaning into the nature of your Moon is always a good practice.
Watching the Moon move away from and toward this return is also beneficial. Generally, the impacts of the Moon in relation to your natal tendencies will be strongest in the signs square and opposite your natal Moon. So if your Moon is in a cardinal sign, the Moon traveling through the other cardinal signs will be a more noticeable experience. These are areas tied into lunar experience and can possess challenges to it. In these signs, the Moon can make room for more care or create additional obstacles and challenges.
It might be helpful to imagine a small phase story playing out, where the Moon in your natal sign is a New Moon, the initial square is a First Quarter Moon, the opposition a Full Moon, and the final square a Last Quarter Moon. While this is not exactly correct, the model does work for the general pattern of personal lunar unfolding. A topic, focus, or potential is introduced at the lunar return. It heads off into the world by the First Quarter, meets its downfall or total potential in the Full Moon and is integrated or released during the Last Quarter. Having this as a topical layout can help you to interpret lessons and narratives from your lunar cycles.
However, not everything has to have evolving meaning. The hard angles to your natal Moon can also represent places of vulnerability for your emotional and physical self. The Moon in these signs highlights their interaction. Natal or transiting planets there are further integrated with your natal lunar energy when the traveling Moon passes by. This can bring experiences relating to your feelings, health, resources, parents, or forms of care/support. Helpful planets here improve conditions while difficult ones can bring challenges that must be accepted and faced.
In other words, the general pattern of your 27 day lunar cycle is helpful for finding a base pattern within yourself. If you just beginning a practice of reflection and lunar tracking, consider starting here and just watching the Moon through the signs, in relation to your natal Moon. I would suggest marking off your lunar return on your calendar and paying careful attention to both your physical health and emotional state during those 2.5 days. To go further, watch for the weekly turnings of the hard angles to your natal Moon. Choose something to begin on a lunar return and watch it unfold through this cycle. As you get more comfortable, begin to integrate further techniques, like the ones mentioned above (fully covered in the next essay).
One final note is that there is a different way to calculate the lunar return according to the repetition of phase instead of the repetition of sign/degree. In this method, you would calculate the distance between your Sun and Moon in degrees (starting with the Sun and counting to the Moon). Each month, that exact phase separation would repeat, this time following the 29.5 day cycle of the soli-lunar cycle instead of the 27.3 sidereal cycle.
This version is interesting and is attested to in some parts of the tradition as well as by a few modern astrologers. Really, it isn’t so much of a lunar return as a soli-lunar return. Instead of focusing on a renewal of pure lunar energy, it highlights a renewal of the relationship between the Sun and Moon in your chart, but with different signs involved. While this poses intriguing questions, I have not noticed it as powerfully as I notice true lunar returns.
For example, my Sun is at 29º Sagittarius and my Moon is at 12º Taurus. This puts them 133º apart (sometimes called the “solar-lunar arc”). Each lunar month, there is a moment when the Moon is 133º ahead of the Sun. This can also be found in an ephemeris and will be different each year. The arc is not consistently 133º when the Sun is at 29º Sagittarius. In fact, in 2021 this occurs a few days earlier, with the Sun at 23º Sagittarius and the Moon at 8º Taurus. Other years the Moon as still be in Aries when the arc completes in Sagittarius season.
If you’re interested, try playing around with this return as well. Instead of seeing this as a renewal of your lunar energy, picture as a chance to reimagine your solar/lunar blend in a new setting. This is a chance to feel out the process of making things happen, but with a different set of substances and resources (the different signs involved each month). Your process of acting your energies and desires is in focus here. You may feel a bit more in tune with yourself or perhaps you’ll need to intentionally focus on integration and internal collaboration.