Updated: Sep 21, 2020
The New Moon of Thursday, September 17 marks the start of Adhika Masa — an extra lunar month that occurs once every 32.5 months.
The Sanskrit word Adhika indicates “more” or “extra,”, and Masa means month. This is considered an extremely sacred time in which no traditional festivals are held.
It is a time for personal prayer, devotional activities such as fasting, puja, recitation of holy texts and to gain back lost health and wealth or otherwise atone for squandered time.
This “extra month” is the calendrical representation of a complete reset of the soli-lunar cycle after about 2.5 years of gradual slippage.
Why does this happen?
A solar month equals one-twelfth of a solar year (the time it takes the Earth to return to the same point in its orbit relative to the Sun) and lasts 30 days, 10 hours, 29 minutes, 3.8 seconds.
A lunar month (also known as a synodic month) is measured by the time it takes the Moon to complete one orbit around the Earth with respect to the imaginary line drawn between Earth and Sun. This month lasts approximately 29.5 days, which means a lunar year consists of 354 days.
The difference between a solar month and a lunar month (about half a day) gradually adds up. Each year the difference is 11 days, and after approximately two years and eight months, enough time has slipped through the cracks to compose a whole month of its own.
This is Adhika Masa.
Another Way to Think About It
Usually, the New Moon occurs in the subsequent sign from the previous New Moon. For example, if last month it was in Aries, this month it will be in Taurus, and next month it will be in Gemini, and so on.
New Moons occur about 30 degrees from one another, marking a one-twelfth rotation through the zodiac (12 signs x 30 degrees = 360 degrees encircling the Earth).
However, the slight slippage in time described above means that once every 32 months or so, there are two consecutive New Moons in the same sign.
For example: on September 16, 2020, the Moon aligns precisely between the Earth and Sun at slightly less than 1 degree of Virgo. This means it has only just crossed over from Leo and barely nudged its way into Virgo.
Then, one synodic month later, on October 17, 2020, the New Moon alignment occurs at 29.75 (out of 30) degrees of Virgo. The Moon is just 24 minutes away from entering Libra when it attains total newness.
Thus we have two consecutive New Moons in Virgo — an extra month. Here are the charts for the two New Moons, side-by-side for comparison:
Please enjoy these two videos from experienced experts offering enhanced explanations about the significance of this time-outside-of-time.
Please refer to the New Moon Newsletter from September 2020 for my analysis and suggestions for how to make the most of this moment.