Super Moon, Blood Moon, Wolf Moon: January’s Leo Eclipse and the Lunar Perigee

You’ve probably heard about Sunday’s Blood Wolf Super Moon. Or the Super Wolf Blood Moon. Even if you don’t follow astrology, you’ve probably heard some mildly terrifying words strung together ominously to describe the weekend’s lunar phenomenon. But what does it actually mean? What are we really looking at when you brush away the buzz words?

A Blood Moon is a relatively new term for an old phenomenon. During a lunar eclipse, light refracts in the Earth’s atmosphere causing the moon to appear coppery to crimson for several hours—an effect known as Rayleigh Scattering. While philosophers and astrologers have pointed at this lunar phenomenon during times of war, unrest, and tragedy, it’s less the phenomenon and more the placement they should blame. 

Super Moon is also a relatively new term, coined in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle. Prior to this, astrologers only called it what it is: “perigee syzygy.” (You can see why Nolle’s term stuck.) Lunar perigee is the point in which the moon’s orbit is closest to Earth. Most astrologers don’t calculate perigee on natal charts, though it is thought to increase the moon’s effect during transits. Syzygy is a strange-sounding, stranger-looking word for alignment, or near alignment, with the Sun and Earth.

What do wolves have to do with the eclipse? Nothing, really. January’s full moon is often referred to in various traditions as the Wolf Moon. According to legend, wolves became particularly vocal during this lunar phase calling not only to their own pack mates but also neighboring packs, staking claim on territory and depleting food supplies (which likely has a lot to do with why February’s moon is called the Hunger Moon). Other cultures have called it the Ice Moon or the Old Moon, but the Wolf Moon conjures a much more striking image—which is important as it often falls in the sign of Leo. 

So we’ve learned that this full moon falls during a total eclipse, during its closest point of orbit, and will appear red for several hours. On Saturday, the Sun moves from grounded, practical Capricorn into Aquarius, the zodiac’s alien eccentric. Despite its humanitarian inclinations, it’s more of a loner, analyzing others from a distance both physical and mental. Aquarius is like a satellite, existing in the vacuum of space, observing signals and collecting data from afar, projecting it back to Earth in radically helpful new ways.

Just hours later, we experience this solar eclipse with the Moon at 0 Leo. The Full Moon is always a battle of energies, a tug-of-war between the signs at play which always oppose. The Leo Moon commands attention, demands all eyes forward. It is ego and desire where the Aquarius Sun is lovingly detached. Interestingly, the degrees at which this eclipse occurs only enhances this duality. Elias Lonsdale, author of “Inside Degrees,” describes 0 Aquarius as follows:

A two-headed calf.  Taking a good look at things with an eager eye brings you right into the middle of the dilemma of polarities. As you stand there faced with the different sides, you are impartial; neither side pulls you more sharply than the other. Immense opportunity. Huge challenge. You have vital potential for brilliant synthesis, but a subtle temptation to think too long. A schooling in alchemy in every moment–do you find what is ready to emerge or do you think about it? Progressive evolution draws you through all your mistakes into all that can be.”

Elias Lonsdale, “Inside Degrees”

But this objective outlook may be hard to achieve. The fact that this occurs during Lunar Perigee means the Moon is closest to Earth. We are closer to the Moon, and the Moon will likely have more sway. It could be hard to divorce ourselves from the emotions that arise. This eclipse is the last in a series of Leo-Aquarius phenomena in the last two years, rounding out feelings and events that have been in the works for just as long. Unsurprisingly, Lonsdale says in his description of 0 Leo, “even the most unconscious patterns reveal their redemptive glory.” We’re about to answer a lot of questions about what we want, what we need, and why those things don’t always align. 

In astrology, the Lunar Perigee doesn’t really have a name. Some refer to it as the “White Moon,” or “Selena,” and assign it qualities of grace and harmony, where we bring and find light and love. Many more astrologers regularly chart its opposite, however—the Lunar Apogee, Lilith. If the Perigee is where the moon’s orbit is closest to Earth, the Apogee is where it is farthest. A web search for astrological Lilith will lead you down something of a rabbit hole as the name has been used for several different, unrelated aspects including an asteroid and a fictional second moon, but the Lunar Apogee is often referred to as “True Lilith” and shown on charts as a black crescent moon with a cross, an amalgam of the glyphs for the moon and Venus. To say that Lilith represents the Divine Feminine is misleading—more accurately, it represents the Sublime Feminine: all the qualities of feminine power and sexuality that we’re often too afraid to acknowledge. On the natal chart, Lilith represents repression and denial, latent and subconscious power and desire, and wounds surrounding sexuality. It’s a complicated point and information about its role is scattered and vague, but it’s not a point to be ignored. 

Mika, Leo Sun with a 9th House Aquarian Lilith

During this weekend’s Leo Full Moon Eclipse, Lilith is in Aquarius. In this placement, Lilith represents rebellion, bucking the status quo and seeking the new and radical. It conjures visions of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, non-conforming LGBTQ+ warriors, and iconic individuals cooly separate from their sexuality. James Dean, Amber Rose, Willow Smith, and Cara Delevingne are among those with Aquarian Lilith in their natal chart, but the full list includes so many who truly revolutionized public attitudes towards sex and gender in their time. 

This Eclipse highlights the lessons we’ve learned about our needs and desires in the last two years. While prior eclipses have swept some of these delusions from our lives, this eclipse brings a distinctly Uranian energy with its aspects to the Sun and Lilith. We’re asked to look into ourselves and balance the bright, glamorous sparkle of our personality with the humbling process of evolution. How do we balance our ego-based wants with the greater good of our communities, our world, and most of all, ourselves? In this way, the wolf might be an appropriate mascot for this moon after all: how do we, as individuals, serve the pack? Have we struck out alone, or have we found our way back to the whole? According to where Leo and Aquarius fall in your chart, this will affect different areas of your life. Ask yourself how these themes have changed and developed since 2017. Eclipses begin and complete transition and rebalance dynamics of power. They punctuate periods of growth and learning. We began this year with the first in a series of Capricorn-Cancer eclipses which open a new chapter for each of us surrounding productivity, family, achievement, and home, but this Leo eclipse gives us a chance to put a cap on a multi-year journey. Now’s our chance to leave the past in the past and move into the future better and more balanced than before. 

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