In some of those old farmers’ almanacs, the Full Moon in August was known as the Sturgeon Moon. That’s because sturgeon fish are native to both Europe and the Americas, and they were plentiful in the Great Lakes region at this time of year. Other names for the August Full Moon include the Grain Moon, the Green Corn Moon and the Barley Moon. This is a time of harvest, coming between the traditional pagan holiday, Lammas (August 1 or thereabouts) and the coming Fall Equinox.
When the Moon is Full in Aquarius, as it will be on August 11, at 6:36 p.m. on the West Coast, that means the Sun is in Aquarius’ opposite sign, Leo.
In our 12-sign zodiac, opposite signs are just that: they are six signs away and facing each other on a wheel. They share no element – Leo is fire and Aquarius is air. But they share polarity – both Leo and Aquarius are yang or “male” signs. And, crucially for how they operate as a dyad, they are both of the same mode, and with Leo and Aquarius, that means they are two of the four fixed signs.
Leo is the sign of individual creative expression. Aquarius is more about societies. Its energy can be detached, aloof, analytical. Imagine a scene in which Leo wants to be recognized, loves having an audience. Aquarius wants to reconstruct the stage wiring for the benefit of all, and maybe write a more futuristic, innovative script. In a sense, both Leo and Aquarius are outwardly drawn, looking to others.
At a time of the Aquarius Full Moon each year, one might focus in on how one’s unique, creative talents are an offering to a broader collective.
Each lunation has its own peculiarities, so that every year when the Sun and Moon face each other in Leo and Aquarius, there’s a whole lot else going on in the sky. This year, the Full Moon will be approaching a conjunction with Saturn, also in Aquarius from 2020 to 2023.
A conjunction between the Moon and Saturn is seen unfavorably – especially if one has that aspect in one’s natal chart – by traditional astrologers. That’s because the Moon’s energy is seen as soft and motherly whereas Saturn is more like a stern father. (Yes, this is patriarchal language.) As someone with natal Moon conjunct Saturn in my own chart (in upbeat Sagittarius) I’ve been told by many astrologers that this is a downer, and in some respects, it can be. I have found that my Moon/Saturn conjunction has given me a certain emotional seriousness and stoicism, like a structure (Saturn) for the containment (Saturn) of difficult emotional experiences (Moon).
At the August 11 Full Moon, you might take some time to consider what sustains you when emotions are heavy. How do you internalize and process the harsh lessons that life inevitably presents?
The keynote for the August 11 Full Moon is the mode of fixity. As I said, Leo and Aquarius are fixed fire and fixed air, respectively. This year, the August Full Moon occurs while the Moon’s own nodes – the invisible points in the sky where the Moon’s orbit intersects with the path of the Sun, called the ecliptic – are also in fixed signs, Scorpio and Taurus. The nodes are so close by degree to where the Moon and Sun will be, that the opposing lunar nodes will form what is called a fixed grand cross with the Sun and Moon.
Squares, which are approximately 90-degree angles between planets or points like the nodes, are pretty common, as are 180-degree oppositions. Rare, though, is when two oppositions and four squares make a cross in the sky. It happens rarely at the time of a lunation, and rarer still with all four signs involved in fixed signs.
Key words for a fixed grand cross include stuckness and immovability. Imagine being at a four-way intersection, the stoplights have gone out, and one or more of the cars has stalled. No one is going anywhere, at least for a while.
When someone has a fixed grand cross in their natal chart, they adjust and may become creative in using the stability of a grand cross for focus and achievement. By transit, though, a fixed grand cross, for the time it’s in operation, can be annoying and frustrating. You might feel that way in the days leading up to the Full Moon. A fixed grand cross is an aspect of extreme tension.
Astrologer Sue Tompkins, in her book Aspects in Astrology, writes that the “problem” of fixity is attachment. Taurus is attachment to possessions and security. Scorpio is attachment to feelings and desires. Leo is attached to its own individuality and pride. Aquarius is attached to ideals.
Our culture, with its focus on action, youth, and perpetual newness, promotes attachments that are profitable, for someone, as with consumerism. But our culture of late is not so good about certain other types of attachments, such as those that would bind people together collectively in Aquarian-esque communities. “The unyielding quality of fixity is both its greatest virtue and its greatest failing,” Tompkins writes.
What can be done at a time with so much symbolic fixity in the sky? To be glib, one might say something like “let it go” or “go with the flow.” These are, at best, platitudes and at worst, a type of spiritual bypassing.
I’ve been thinking instead about hunkering down and reveling, at this Full Moon time, in the quality of fixity. There are things and circumstances that I am attached to and stuck on: my home, my values, my 40-year meditation practice, to name a few.
Yes, it is good to relax and ease up on yourself at this Full Moon, or any time. What about also acknowledging that much of what you’re fixated on is also quite wholesome and endearing?
Blessings for the fixed grand cross Full Moon!