Every year, from approximately July 22 to August 22, Leo season stirs up cravings for drama, sets the stage for you to fulfill your most heartfelt, fiery desires, and makes it possible to pinpoint luxury-loving ways to share what's in your heart. This steamy time of year is generally a buoyant, confidence-boosting one, in which we've finally gotten into the groove of summertime and are well-prepared to let loose and get after what we want and need the most. But this year, the day after the sun moves into the fixed fire sign, a full moon in Aquarius offers up a tense reality check.
On Friday, July 23 at 10:36 p.m. ET/7:36 p.m. PT, the full moon, nicknamed the "buck moon," falls at 1 degree of the future-minded, eccentric fixed air sign Aquarius. Here's what it means and how you can survive any discomfort that July 2021's full moon could deliver.
What Full Moons Mean
As far as astrology is concerned, the moon is your emotional compass, ruling over your intuition and sense of security. Monthly, the point at which it reaches its most full, shimmery, and luminous tends to put extra emphasis on those lunar themes.
Full moons are also notorious for being wildly intense moments in time. You run an errand and can't help but get sucked into congested traffic and road rage at every turn, your neighbors are partying on a weeknight, or a client calls you with irrational demands. That said, it's worth investigating what's really going on at the root of these OMG moments. Full moons amplify emotions — especially those that are often ignored so that you can carry on day to day without having to deal with anything uncomfortable. But this lunar phase tends to bring any pent-up feels to a boiling point so that you have to deal with it once and for all. That's why full moon drama tends to be the result of people reaching that point and projecting — or preferably, communicating about — any previously brushed-aside pain, trauma, or stress.
A full moon also serves as a culmination point of a regular astrological cycle. Everyone has narratives that kick off around a new moon and then come to a natural conclusion at a full moon six months later. (Reminder: New moons are the opposite of full moons, when the celestial body isn't illuminated by the sun from our vantage point and it appears completely dark.) This July 23 full moon in Aquarius is linked to the new moon that happened on February 11, 2021. You might remember how, in the midst of a COVID winter and a Mercury retrograde, there were glimmers of hope — and moments in which you were able to connect with your closest network, even if only on Zoom. Now, anything you started around that time could be reaching its organic conclusion.
This July 2021 full moon may also present the initial result of what you started manifesting around the last new moon on July 9, which occurred in Cancer. Two weeks ago, the cardinal water sign played host to a deeply emotional, change-bringing lunar event that set off lots of cleansing but taxing waterworks and heart-to-hearts. Now, as you navigate the very different, intellectual, even stoic terrain of this Aquarius full moon, you could be thinking more rationally about whatever came up for you earlier this month.
No matter how a lunar event interacts with your natal chart, you could notice its intensity, but if it is hitting your chart in a significant way (more on that below), you could feel particularly antsy, emotional, or sensitive. But it can help to bear in mind that no matter how you're feeling it, full moons serve as valuable checkpoints for examining deep-rooted feelings and completing one chapter before forging ahead into another.
Themes of the July 2021 Aquarius Full Moon
Air sign Aquarius, symbolized by the Water Bearer, is ruled by the game-changing, electrifying, planet of rebellion Uranus and rules the eleventh house of networking, groups, and long-term wishes. Those born under the sign of the Water Bearer — or with other personal planet placements (the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, or Mars) in the air sign — tend to be progressive, future-minded, humanitarian, social, quirky, free-spirited, and drawn to forging platonic bonds. But they can also be contrarian and, as the fixed air sign, obstinate and susceptible to black-and-white thinking. Aquarians are hard-wired to strike out on their own, railing against convention, but when they get so entrenched in their ideals, they risk losing some of that free-spiritedness they're so well known for.
And that's actually one of the reasons it makes perfect sense that Saturn, the planet of restrictions, boundaries, discipline, and hard work, was the original ruler of Aquarius. Today, we associate Saturn's energy with Capricorn, but the Water Bearer has its Saturnian moments, and this full moon will bring that front and center.
One of the reasons: The moon forms a wide orb (meaning it's not super cozy and close, but it's still in neighboring territory) to Saturn on the day of the full moon, and the confident sun, which will have just gone into Leo the day prior, is moving toward its annual opposition to Saturn, which will be exact on August 1. We tend to feel the vibes of a transit the most as we're moving toward it. So, on July 23, the restrictive, biking-through-mud, lonely tone of the Sun-Saturn opposition features prominently during this full moon moment.
On the day of the full moon especially, you may feel like you've been putting your nose to the grindstone solo without much, if any, recognition or support. With restrictive Saturn at the wheel, you could feel stuck in neutral.
At the same time, the moon forms a teeth-clenching, awkward quincunx to Venus — the planet of relationships — in Virgo, throwing a spotlight on tensions and irritants within our closest bonds. (Also read: How to Decode Zodiac Sign Compatibility)
For better or worse, Venus, which oversees pleasure, is also opposing Jupiter, the planet of abundance and excess, so you might lean into overindulgent behavior (ahem, staying in bed with your vibrator all day) to cope with any antsy, anxious vibes that are coming up for you.
And messenger Mercury, the planet of communication, in Cancer will form a harmonizing trine to spiritual Neptune in Pisces, which can make for spacey — but potentially creative and imaginative — interactions and thinking. But even this aspect gets a bit gloomified by the fact that power struggles are more possible with Mercury heading into its annual face-off with "burn-it-all-down" Pluto. (See: Pluto Retrograde 2021 Is Here to Illuminate Your Darkest Truths)
All that said, as a result of Venus' involvement, this full moon is setting up to bring up plenty of crunchy, cringe-y, headache-inducing relationship and social issues. And because Saturn is a key player, you'll likely be reminded of work that needs to be done to maintain any bonds worth preserving.
Who the Aquarius Full Moon Will Affect the Most
If you were born under the sign of the Water Bearer — approximately January 20 to February 18 — or with your personal planets (reminder: that's the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, or Mars) in Aquarius (something you can learn from your natal chart), you'll feel this full moon more than most. More specifically, if you have a personal planet that falls within five degrees of the full moon (01 degrees Aquarius), you could feel weighed down by the heavy-duty emotional messages of the event.
Similarly, if you were born in a fellow fixed sign — Leo (fixed fire), Scorpio (fixed water), Taurus (fixed earth) — you'll feel the intensity of this full moon, which serves a call to take responsibility, set boundaries, and confront simmering tensions.
The Reassuring Takeaway
Monthly, no matter what sign a full moon falls in, they're opportunities to hit the finish line, get in our feelings, and unearth the truth of matters that have been bubbling under the surface for weeks or months. Under the bright light of the moon at her peak, we can see — or at least feel — more clearly, for better or worse.
With the rational Water Bearer and taskmaster Saturn running the show this month, you can't avoid the fact that it's time for a reality check. Although the full moon day itself might feel like an uphill battle, relief comes quickly. By July 24, you could be feeling less stuck, and once the sun moves past its opposition to Saturn, on August 2, you'll be empowered to hit the gas, now more prepared to navigate whatever lies ahead as a result of the hard work you put in around Aquarius' full moon.
Maressa Brown is a writer and astrologer with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to being Shape's resident astrologer, she contributes to InStyle, Parents, Astrology.com, and more. Follow her Instagram and Twitter at @MaressaSylvie.