The Personal Lunar Return with James Moran {interview}

James Moran is a writer and an artist, as well as a practitioner and teacher of yoga and astrology. A fellow Capricorn (our birthdays are one day and one year apart), James has artfully helped to expand my awareness of different facets of astrology through our conversations over the years. Since the magical days in the redwoods at UC Santa Cruz, our friendship has lead to many ‘far out’ conversations about the meaning of life and beyond. I wanted to share this exchange as a way to introduce some concepts about the moon in Western (Tropical) Astrology.


April: Can you tell us about your initial experience with astrology that sparked you on a path of deeper inquiry?

James: I had always felt something special when I looked up at the stars on a clear night. I never, though, gave much thought or credence to astrology. To attribute some relationship between our most intimate selves and extremely distant heavenly bodies seemed far fetched to me. The only time I paused to give astrology some passing thought was when I read Risa D’angeles horoscope section of the Good Times weekly newspaper in Santa Cruz in the late 90’s. Then in 2008 a childhood friend, the modern philosopher Timothy Desmond, unpacked the basics of astrology for me. What I had thought to be an archaic system turned out to be easy to understand. He recommended I read a book called “Cosmos and Psyche.” I started it and didn’t put it down until I’d read all 500 pages. I felt as if I was rediscovering a language of symbols that was somehow very familiar to me. After that I viewed my decade and a half of yoga and meditation practice as preparation for that discovery of astrology.

Risa D’angeles

Risa D’angeles


A: Right on, I loved reading Risa's Stars too! So when each of us were born the sun was in a certain constellation in the sky and that gives us our ‘sun sign’ … now how do we know what was happening with the moon? Can you paint a picture for us of what the variables of the moon are.

J: Yes. The first thing to do is to go to your google browser and type in free astrological chart. A number of internet sites will come up that offer free birth charts. Click on birth chart or natal chart and type in your birth date, place, and time. The site will automatically draw up a chart for you. It will look like a wheel divided into twelve pie slices. Those pie slices are the signs of the zodiac. Within them will be planetary glyphs. The easiest glyphs to figure out are the glyphs for the Sun and Moon, since they look like a Sun and a Moon. The sign that the Sun is in is your sun sign. The sign that the Moon is in is your moon sign. In astrology we also look at the phase the Moon is in and the angles of the planets to the Moon. If you know the exact time you were born then you can also look at the house that the Moon is in.


A: When I became familiar with my moon sign it helped to explain a lot of things that just seeing myself as a Capricorn didn’t include. Why do you think most people is the US are just familiar with their sun sign?

J: The Sun sign is more familiar to the general public because it is more obvious. In astrology the archetypal symbolism of the Sun is the central identity. It is associated with our name and our sense that we are an individual who stands out by “shining” in a unique way. The Moon is associated with our emotional identity. The sign, position, phase, house, etc. of the Moon tells us a lot about who we are in relationship. I am the son/daughter of so and so, brother/sister of so and so, spouse of so and so; I grew up in this community, on this land, etc. The Moon sign may be less obvious to others because it entails a more interior feeling side to ourselves.


A: What does the moon symbolize in Western/ Tropical astrology? We have talked about the United States being a more solar society – can you explain?

J: In most astrological systems the archetype of the Moon is linked with the archetype of the mother. The Moon archetype is associated with nurturing, nourishment, and emotional bonding. The particulars of the Moon in an individual’s chart show us the style in which an individual nurtures others and receives nurturing from others. The Moon in a chart also describes our emotional conditioning and our emotional comfort zone. For instance, the Moon is associated with the home and emotional bonding. In this way we can see the time at the end of the day, when one returns home from their work out in the world, as lunar. It involves returning home to one’s comfort zone to enjoy relating with close intimates, possibly over a nourishing meal.

One of the reasons not only the U.S., but all Western cultures, can be seen as more solar societies involves the emphasis in those cultures with the individual and how they shine through the work they do out in the world. These characteristics are solar. There are other cultures in the world that emphasize the family and community over the individual. In this way these cultures are demonstrating lunar characteristics. There is no right or wrong culture, only differences. An ideal would be to strike a dynamic balance between the lunar and solar principles. My understanding is that too much emphasis on the solar can burn the lunar. And too much emphasis on the lunar can smother the solar.

moon and sun face #themoonismycalendar


A: I am interested in the Personal Lunar Return and want to help my readers understand how it can help them gain insight into their experience. Could you explain what a “return” is?

J: In astrology the word “return” refers to a planet returning to the place it occupied in the sky the moment that you were born. The Sun takes 365 days to return to the place it occupied in the sky when you were born. When the Sun does return to that place it is known as the “solar return.” It is also known as your birthday. Every planet takes a different amount of time to move through all twelve signs of the Zodiac and return to where it was when you were born. Mars takes roughly two years while Jupiter takes roughly twelve years.

The Moon only takes roughly 28 days to “return.” When the Moon does come back to the place it occupied in the sky the moment you were born, it is called your lunar return. Since the Moon moves through the signs of the Zodiac so quickly the lunar return only lasts a matter of hours. Yet those handful of hours every month can prove very insightful in understanding your own personal emotional style and needs. Just watch the movement of the Moon and when it comes back to your natal Moon position you will see exactly what I mean.

For instance, if you were born with your natal Moon at 24 degrees of Virgo, watch when the Moon enters Virgo and comes within a few degrees of the 24 degree mark. The way in which you behave and the instincts you follow regarding your needs during those hours when the Moon travels within a few degrees on either side of that 24 degree mark will help you understand your lunar identity.


A: How might it benefit us to introduce more lunar energy into our lives? What are some ways we can do this?

J: One way we can introduce more lunar energy into our lives involves understanding the archetype of the Moon and becoming mindful of those moments in our lives that are lunar, so that we can honor those moments. For instance, we can develop an appreciation for the quiet moments in our lives where we are not necessarily “getting something done,” yet we are experiencing something of deep emotional relevance, such as to sharing a snack with someone you are close to, reading to your child, supporting someone through emotional hardship. One of the amazing aspects of the lunar side to ourselves is that it can feel like an emotional reservoir that we fill not by doing, but by relating. Another way you can introduce more lunar energy into your life involves looking up your own chart and beginning to understand the particulars of your personal natal Moon. Through this process one can gain important insights into one’s own emotional needs. A third way we can support the lunar in our lives involves staying in touch with the Moon itself in the sky by watching it move through its phases. There is something magical about this process that cannot be captured in words, yet can be intuitively felt.


A: And finally – what does the phrase “As above so below” mean to you? I hear it all the time and am interested in your interpretation.

J: “As above so below” comes from Hermes Trismegistus, an astrological and alchemical religious text dating from about the beginning of the Christian era. In my understanding that statement informs us that whatever is in the microcosm is reflected in the macrocosm, and vice versa. For instance, the DNA, the smallest physically characteristic part of ourselves, can be seen reflected in every part of the larger manifestation of ourselves as a physical body.

In astrology “as above so below” refers to our lives here on this planet being reflected in the larger picture, i.e. the movements of the heavenly bodies, and the movement of the heavenly bodies being reflected in our lives here on this planet. This approach to astrology does not see the planets as exerting an “influence” on us via gravitation, rays, etc. This approach sees the relationship between the movement of the planets and the events in our lives on Earth merely as reflecting each other. One does not cause the other.


A: Thank you so much for sharing your lunar insights with us. You can find James's astrology and art website online at



James Moran has studied astrology principally under Richard Tarnas since 2008. A yoga instructor trained by the Iyengar family in Pune, India, James received his teaching certification from Rodney Yee and has led yoga classes for Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Cisco and Yahoo. His astrology practice is informed by his two decades of experience in yoga and meditation. James is also an artist and a writer who regularly publishes fiction, poetry, and material on yoga and astrology. His writing has been published in Archai, The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology, as well as other journals. A native of the Washington, D.C. area, he studied at the University of California at Santa Cruz and has lived in many parts of the globe since.

Calendar Journal 2020.jpg

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