Libra New Moon

butterfly-by-yasui

Butterfly (1950) by Chuji Yasui

A silver quivering cocoon that shakes
from within, trying to break.
What psyche
is wrestling with its shroud?
Blunt diamonds
scrape at its casing,
urging it out.
But there is too much grief. The world
is made of days, and is itself
a shrouded day.
It stifles. It’s our world, and we
its dreams, its creased
compacted wings.

— Denise Levertov, Emblem (II)

New Moon in Libra

The New Moon in Libra on September 30 is the first lunation to follow the Equinox, and within the shifting of the seasons supports momentum borne with reawakened focus.  The New Moon conjoins the expansive and visionary Jupiter in Libra, while in range of a square to the cathartic depths of Mars and Pluto in Capricorn.  The blackness of this New Moon has a different mixture within its matrix than we’ve experienced this year, as Mars has finally left Sagittarius for its exaltation in Capricorn, Jupiter has finally left Virgo for greater dignity in Libra, and Venus has entered the deep waters of Scorpio.  Mars in Capricorn is applying intensely to a square with Jupiter as our lights unite in darkness, demanding we be accountable for enacting our will force in pursuit of our most prioritized goals.  While the past year has involved immense tumult of mutable changes, the Libra New Moon in sextile with Saturn in Sagittarius fortunately supports  building structures to develop and express the soulful desires that have been dislodged by the catalyzing, cascading currents.

The Libra New Moon follows a dynamic month of eclipses, Mercury retrograde, and the final square between Saturn and Neptune.  If we have been able to clear out the dead weight of our lives in the past month, there is vigorous force within the Libra New Moon for launching enterprises bound to the authentic ardor welling up from within.   The eclipses of the past month combined with Mercury retrograde in Virgo forming trines with Pluto were a perfect storm for releasing the heaviness of past grievances and awakening to an enlivening lightness of spirited presence.  As the Libra New Moon is in square to the midpoint of Mars and Pluto in Capricorn, it facilitates bold embodiment of the presence liberated from previous hangups. If overwhelming loss arose during the past month of eclipses, the Libra New Moon further supports reorienting to the resulting ramifications as needed.

It is worth noting that this New Moon that is aspecting both Pluto and Mars arrives at the balsamic close of the cycle between Mars and Pluto that began on November 10, 2014.  From the standpoint that Mars and Pluto have an octave relationship in which the leading edge desires of Mars emanate from the deep well of Pluto, there can be a distillation available of all our circulating desires from the past two years that have not yet manifested.  In the coming lunation cycle Mars and Pluto will conjoin and begin a new cycle- this will happen on October 18 in the waning Moon that follows the upcoming Aries Full Moon.  Vision can be found in the blackness of the Libra Moon that lets go of what was not meant to manifest in the past two years, while opening to intimations of the potential that can be realized in the forthcoming cycle.

Venus in Scorpio

Venus rules the New Moon in Scorpio, the home of Mars, with Mars freshly in the sign of its exaltation, Capricorn.  Though Venus is separating from Mars, they are in a sextile relationship in which the subterranean sensations of Venus in Scorpio can be injected into the persevering drive of Mars in Capricorn.  Though Venus in Scorpio is in a sign opposite her home of Taurus, it pleases Venus to be in a water sign as her full feeling nature is available.  Venus in Scorpio can acclimate with an astrological climate that follows the storms of September, as Venus in Scorpio wants to dig up the roots of whatever circumstance it finds itself in order to feel how the unseen underworld has been informing what is on the surface.

The eclipses of the past month combined with a Mercury retrograde phase in Virgo that stationed direct in a trine with Pluto could have led to the uncovering of secrets or hidden material in need of being known in our relationships.  The Libra New Moon ruled by Venus in Scorpio further supports opening to the depth of mystery within the Self, being willing to embrace shadow and unconscious forces.  If there has been a lot of disorientation due to recent revelations, there can now be healing readjustment as long as we avoid the negative side of Scorpio that manipulates and controls the emotions of others due to fear of being hurt.  The virtue of Scorpio is not its fixated ability to influence the feelings of others to do its own bidding, but rather in its transformational potential to shed old skin and merge with radical presence.

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Leonora Carrington (1967) Spider

In addition to forming a sign based sextile with Mars in Capricorn, Venus in Scorpio also forms a sign based sextile with Mercury in Virgo.  Mercury direct in Virgo as a Morning Star is one of the most potent forces within the Libra New Moon enabling us to discern the most direct route toward manifestation of our goals.  Mercury has now separated from a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon, a square with Saturn, and a trine with Pluto, and is now applying to an opposition with Chiron in Pisces that has been a key player in the eclipses of 2016.  Mercury is at home and in exaltation in Virgo, a discriminating and rational abode for Mercury that accentuates its ability to bridge soulful spirit to the earthly matters at hand in the moment.  Mercury arises at dawn as the rays of the Sun pierce the tranquility of night, weaving the golden light into a consciousness able to awake and start the day mindful of the choices in greatest alignment with our solar purpose.  Mercury in Virgo and Mars in Capricorn, both places of their exaltation, are capable of building containers in our life that allow for a descent within that regenerates passion that can then be projected into our worldly endeavors.

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2 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Libra 1 Decan

The New Moon falls in the first face of Libra associated with the Two of Swords tarot card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  In the image we see a blindfolded woman crossing two swords in front of her, while sitting before an oceanic expanse. The blindfold and ocean suggest contact with the instinctual inner realm and unconscious, the Crescent Moon the waxing cycle of the Moon’s orbit we enter at this Libra New Moon that calls us to persist on our path forward despite the regressive pull of the past. Commonly, this card in tarot has a meaning of mediating between opposing forces to discover mindfulness and courageous equipoise, resolving previous conflicts within a protected space of exploring internal balance.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Blind Fold and a Sword” to this face, suggesting it awakens us to surrounding injustice and disequilibrium on a societal level as well as in our daily personal interactions. Coppock further noted that the fragmentary Hellenistic text The 36 Airs ascribed the Erinyes (also known as the Furies) to the first face of Libra, linking the chthonic goddesses who punish transgressors of divine law to the element of this face that is concerned with natural law and justice and the revelation of hidden evidence of inequities.  Coppock captured the essence of this face in the following passage:

While fair trade and social justice are prime concerns in this face, its true object is relationships. Legal proceedings and commerce are essentially about the balance between two entities. Indeed peace or strife between individuals is what determines social order, and consensus is the very root of the law. Fairness and reciprocity must underlie all friendships and romances if they are to last. This face shines a light on these dynamics, bringing what is troublesome to the light of conscious recognition. The core principles of ethical interaction with other beings are thus revealed in this face.

— Austin Coppock, 36 Faces, p. 158

The Moon is the ruler of the first decan of Libra, making this New Moon that conjoins Jupiter particularly fertile in terms of bringing expansive alertness to whatever has been out of balance, opening awareness to how to recalibrate the necessary elements.  Embracing our individual wholeness without denial and being willing to communicate honestly with integrity is of course always wise counsel, but the Libra New Moon is particularly responsive to those asserting their needs with healthy and respectful boundaries.  Just as the recent Libra Equinox demarcated a new season of changing winds, so does the Libra New Moon herald a new period of astrological transits that are more conducive to bringing about ample feelings of success more so than the transits that have dominated the majority of 2016 so far. We are clear of eclipses, Mercury retrograde, Mars retrograde and within the aftershocks of the squares between Saturn and Neptune, Pluto and Uranus.  The blackness of night holding the union of Sun and Moon in Libra is fecund with reception for making tangible what has previously been deeply felt and yearned for.

References:

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.

Levertov, Denise. (2013). Collected Poems. New Directions.

Pisces Lunar Eclipse

Vasily Kafanov fish landscape gray

Vasily Kafanov (2013) Landscape with Fishtower on gray

The fisherman draws fish that he never saw from many fathoms beneath the water, the miner brings gold from the depths out of the earth, through which his sight cannot pierce. In this wise has God taught it.

As there is nothing so occult that it shall not become manifest, so the same must be made known. Be it in the celestial firmament, in the sea, in the earth, all things must become manifest; but through man who discovers all things.

— Paracelsus, from his preface to Magia Emblemata et Prognostici

Penumbral Pisces Lunar Eclipse

Within change and strife resides freedom and release, for every heart breaks within love that returns and gives birth.  Beyond every flower found in radiant color, ripened fruit savored, or prismatic crystal unearthed and polished, lies an infinitely more vast and invisible realm of dark fertility surrounding and shaping this and all other universes.  In fathomless oceanic depth, under waves inexorably dissolving and bringing forth life, glimmers the slippery, silvery sheen of soul we find in Pisces.

Light as dramatic as can be sensed during the Pisces Lunar Eclipse on September 16 begins to fade as soon as it has brought forth its fullness.  We stand like a willow on the banks of its vortex, trunk strong and branches unfurled toward the constant disintegration of earthly matter into water.   This week’s lunar eclipse at the end of the zodiac culminates many stories embedded in the intense mutable shifting of the past year.  Within red shadows projected upon the Moon, one’s presence of being may become lightened from the accumulated heaviness of past failures and regrets.

In contrast to a solar eclipse in which the Sun is overwhelmed by the shadow of the Moon, symbolically the meaning of a Lunar Eclipse is rooted in the phenomenon of our Sun casting the shadow of our Earth onto the face of our Moon. Linking the Moon to what we carry from the past within our body and mind, the past transmutes in the shadowy face of the Moon to allow for new emergence and presence.  Dane Rudhyar in The Astrology of Transformation wrote that at a lunar eclipse “the traditional perspective born of past experiences of adjusting to life and society is blotted out by an eagerness to meet experience in a new, original manner.”  This emphasis on new choices and vision is amplified by the Sun being on the side of the North Node of the Moon in Virgo.

The eclipse is classified as penumbral because although the lunation is fairly close to the nodes of the Moon, the eclipse is at 24º20′ Pisces while the south node of the Moon is at twelve degrees of Pisces.  Though the shadow cast will not completely cover the Moon’s face in rosy glow, it remains a lunar eclipse that irrevocably alters the stories internally streamed from the past year of life.  Aligned with Chiron just as the Total Solar Eclipse in Pisces on 8 March 2016 was also conjoining Chiron, there is a cathartic release into the ever emptying ocean of Pisces that washes away remnants of disappointing burden that have been sticking to the flesh and circulating repeatedly in the mind.

Radha and Krishna

The Lovers Radha and Krishna (circa 1775 -1780)

Pisces is the exaltation of Venus, and the lunar eclipse occurs close to the specific degree Venus exalts in (27° Pisces).  Venus looms over the eclipse as Jupiter in Libra rules the eclipse and Venus is co-present in her home of Libra alongside Jupiter.  Pisces is the inwardly directed home of Jupiter, a place of inner expansion and vision, a faculty of intuitive gnosis merging heart with mind.  Relationships, our current relations as well as all manner of past relational patterns that inform our meeting with others, rise from the waters of Pisces at this week’s eclipse with a message of vital importance, whether found in the form of verbal language or nonverbal image.   In the twilight preceding the full illumination of the Pisces Moon, one may behold a brilliant Venus on the horizon that is continuing to brighten as an Evening Star.

Though as mentioned the shadow of this week’s eclipse is fainter than that of a total lunar eclipse, nonetheless the redness of the eclipsed shadow on the Moon evokes Pisces through its correspondences with eros that vitalizes blood flow and inspirit. The red shadow covering the Moon also has symbolic overtones with the renewal of the rubedo stage in alchemy, as it portends responding to life from a new presence free of past conditioning.  Red is also fitting for Mars being in square to the lunar eclipse, making this Pisces Lunar Eclipse a tumultuous affair.  In fact, there is little balanced about the Libra influence of Venus and Jupiter, as Venus will be applying closely to an opposition with Uranus in Aries and a sextile with Mars in Sagittarius, with Mars further in trine to Uranus.  Yet in the stillness of a Pisces pool within the surrounding bedlam, insight may be discovered.

Scylla 1938 by Ithell Colquhoun 1906-1988

Scylla (1938) by Ithell Colquhoun

“The true duty of the artist is to know what she is doing and transmit her knowledge with precision. The artist must always lift up the skirts of Venus or her twin-sister Medusa; if she is incapable of that, she should consider changing professions.
Let’s thus seek out the possibility of having subtle organs that will allow us to spread a beneficial magic or receive it while cultivating the protections against the multiple venoms of the invisible world. It is only in the strange magic ocean that we can find salvation for ourselves and our sick planet.”
– Leonora Carrington, response to a questionnaire for L’Art magique, 1957

The above quote from Leonora Carrington and painting by Ithell Colquhoun were both shared by Jon Eric Graham in a presentation he gave entitled “A Stunning Revenge on All Things: Surrealism, Alchemy, and Magic” at the recent 2016 Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle I attended.  In a subsequent presentation Pam Grossman also shared the same Scylla image by Ithell Colquhoun in her talk “Witch Pictures: Female Magic and Transgression in Western Art.”  As Pam Grossman traced the history of the depiction of witches in art, highlighting the obvious shift of meaning once women had platforms to create their own witchy images, I was struck by the full archetype of the witch held within any modern manifestation of image, no matter how corporate or commercial.  Namely, that the indescribable trauma and travesty of the collective history of witches is held and honored within the same image of witchcraft a modern teenager will embrace as part of claiming her own sense of the sacred feminine.  This is not to suggest oppression will go away or that its wounds will disintegrate, only that in the dissolution of the Pisces Lunar Eclipse an empowering liberty may be discovered within our identities that have been hurt the most.

The square between Saturn and Neptune that finally culminated in the week before the lunar eclipse involves the transfiguration of collective images in meaning.  Indeed, the most intense aspect to the lunar nodes at this week’s eclipse is not the actual Full Moon Eclipse, but rather the square between Neptune and Saturn, with Saturn applying closely to a square with the lunar nodes and Neptune conjoining the South Node of the Moon.  Whatever sacrifice has had to be made in this past year of the square between Saturn and Neptune, like Odysseus passing through Scylla and Charybdis we now must resolutely with responsibility press forward on the path we have realigned with.  Any fixations on past dreams that did not manifest must now be dropped into the receding tide, with focus and accountability bound to the work needing to be done in the present moment that meets one’s own needs as well as creates valuable resources or inspiration for others.

alchemy image red robe

Colored etching of alchemical stage (18th Century). Source

The numerous catalytic aspects involved in the Pisces Lunar Eclipse unfortunately make it likely that the disasters, acts of violence, and traumatic events that have dominated current events recently will continue.  On a personal level, however, if you are somewhere securely away from overwhelming conflict the incredibly active nature of this week’s eclipse can be an enlivening impetus toward tangible realization of goals and vision worked on across time.  Mercury remains retrograde, separating from its union with the Sun earlier in the week and applying to a trine with Pluto in Capricorn.  Though Mercury has shifted toward its Morning Star phase in which goals and plans can be focused on with greater clarity, it is not yet visible and so there is still a chthonic fertility to all things Mercurial.

Particularly compelling to me is that the true node of Black Moon Lilith will be conjoined with Venus in Libra at the time of the lunar eclipse.  This means that Venus combined with Black Moon Lilith will be opposite Uranus in Aries and sextile to Mars in Sagittarius.  Black Moon Lilith is the oscillating shadow point that balances the Moon’s orbit, bringing the liberating quality of Uranus contacting Venus and Mars more directly into the experience of the Pisces Lunar Eclipse.  Where we have been abandoned, betrayed, felt exiled or placed at a distance on the outside, becomes in the shadowed light of the lunar eclipse a strength fortified by lack and solitude and ready to burst forth with meaning to express and share during the dissemination of the eclipsed light.

cups10

10 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Pisces 3 Decan

The Lunar Eclipse is in the third face of Pisces, associated with the 10 of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  An image of joy, fulfillment, rainbows and giddy children, the 10 of Cups is interpreted as the quality of blissful happiness and manifestation that those who reside within the third face of Pisces not only yearn to bring about but possess the internal resources to do so.  The final decan of the zodiac from the perspective that Aries is the beginning, the third decan of Pisces is a place of magical manifestation where seeming miracles can be brought about against all odds.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Cup of Blood” to this face, describing it as a “mad quest for an ideal” and “being willing to sacrifice everything” for “the attainment of one’s greatest desire, no matter the cost.”  While Three Books of Occult Philosophy described an image of a naked man with a beautiful woman whose head is decorated with flowers, other ancient texts describe terror of loss bringing screams and cries.  Austin Coppock linked the third face of Pisces with such “heights of agony and ecstasy,” writing that “Though there can be no greater pleasure than the union with the beloved, no pain is greater than its frustration, or worse yet, the betrayal of the person or ideal whom one has sacrificed so much for.”   As a result Coppock noted the importance of applying discernment and discrimination to acts brought forth in this face.

Coppock made a brilliant connection with the fragmentary Hellenistic text The 36 Airs ascribing the daimon of hope Elpis to the third decan of Pisces.  This is the hope left at the bottom of Pandora’s box, the answer to doom pointing to “beauty, love and the real possibility of happy endings.  The last decan [of Pisces] is thus a miniature of all incarnation, asking the most important questions and offering the most impassioned answers” (p. 260).

The third face of Pisces is ruled by Mars, and as Mars in Sagittarius is in square to the lunar eclipse, the meaning of this passionate decan of Pisces must be faced.  The warnings of losing one’s beloved or cherished ideal in no way means to hold back from pursuing what enlivens the heart during the eclipse.  With Saturn in square to the lunar nodes and Neptune conjoining the south node, however, it is vital to plant seeds and develop growth in places clearly able to receive and bolster one’s ideal intentions.  There is co-creative magic found in the face of this week’s Pisces Lunar Eclipse to align with the work, path, and collaborators most resonant with one’s deepest desires.

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References

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.

Paracelsus. (2014 edition). Magia Emblemata et Prognostici. Ouroboros Press.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1980). The Astrology of Transformation. Quest Books.

Portland School of Astrology Class

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Opening to the Other: Relationships in Progression

I am excited to announce I will be teaching at the Portland School of Astrology in November 2016.  If you are in the Portland region I hope to see you there!

When:       Saturday 12 November 2016

Time:         2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Where:      Portland School of Astrology (PSA)

3939 NE Hancock St #212 / Portland, Oregon 97212

Cost:           $25  (work trade also available- contact PSA for information)

Class description:

Opening to the Other: Relationships in Progression

The secondary progressed chart is a powerful astrology technique that penetrates into the evolving quality of the natal chart across time. We know that as time passes so do our desires for relationship transform. The secondary progressed chart is one way to explore the correlations between the changes of our astrology with the changes of our relationships. For example, while one may be born with the Sun in Pisces and Venus in Aries, through the changes of the progressed chart you will become a Taurus Sun and Gemini Venus and open to a different realm of relationship as a result.

In this class Gray Crawford will teach students how to interpret the secondary progressed chart in terms of relationship, not only romantic relationships but collaborative relationships of all sorts. We will investigate what aspects of the secondary progressed chart can bring insight into our evolving desires for relationship and who or what we are attracting. We will also explore how the changes in the interpersonal dynamics within a relationship that lasts for many years can be seen in the interplay between the changes in the progressed charts of each partner.

Click on the link below for complete information about this class:

http://portlandastrology.org/quarterly-term/progressed

Jupiter in Libra

HeartoftheRosetapestry

The Pilgrim and the Heart of the Rose by Edward Burne-Jones

Jupiter in Libra

Jupiter enters Libra on 9 September 2016 where it will remain until 11 October 2017.  Since this shift occurs at the same time as the last exact square between Saturn and Neptune, there could very well be extreme tensions in one’s life in need of balancing which Jupiter entering the sign of the Scales can facilitate.  Furthermore, Jupiter enters Libra in a period in between eclipses, with Mercury retrograde forming a hard aspect with Mars, and Jupiter itself invisible and becoming purified under the beams of the Sun.   As a result, it will take some time before the full spectrum of Jupiter’s benefits will be felt in the Libra area of your life, yet Jupiter’s entrance into Libra will still bring some welcomed positivity immediately.

Jupiter is more comfortable in Libra than in Virgo because it has triplicity dignity in Libra, meaning that Jupiter is “in its element” as it prefers to be in Air signs more so than Earth signs.  This accord comes from the Air signs of astrology being connected to the jovial sanguine temperament which is harmonious with the nature of Jupiter.  In fact, Jupiter has been said to rule the sanguine temperament.  Sanguine is uplifting and seeks cohesion in social connections, a quality of moistness becoming hot which in personality comes across as desire to be successful while also being optimistic and lighthearted, supportive and forgiving of others socially.

Jupiter’s time in Libra can direct vision toward what is pleasurable and harmonizing, as it will be in the domicile of Venus.  Libra is the diurnal, outwardly directed home of Venus where the significations of Venus occur at a swifter pace than her other home of Taurus.  Libra is also a Cardinal sign, adding a quality of initiation and gathering the impetus to strike out on new endeavors that will make this an opportune period to find ways to be more collaborative in community.

While Libra is a Cardinal sign ultimately about initiating one’s own, selfish pursuits, its place as the Cardinal Air sign ruled by Venus means it supports acting in accordance with the needs of relationships rather than being instinctually direct like its polarity Aries.  There results a mix of a rational, reflective side with the feelings and associated values of Venus pursuits, leading to a greater capacity for thought and strategizing to inform action more so than impulsive, overwhelming feelings.  However, it is also a mistake to think that everything associated with Libra is in balance, for in reality there is a constant fluctuating of things becoming unbalanced as part of its balancing act.  If balance is achieved it is only momentary, as any equilibrium gained instantly becomes vulnerable to coming out of balance again or falling into disarray.

johfra bosschart libra

Libra by Johfra Bosschart

The Scales

Libra as the sign of the scales is about the perpetual balancing experienced in all of our relationships in the world.  As a symbol the scales conjure the Egyptian imagery of Maat and the weighing of the Soul after death, at which time the heart would ideally be as light as a feather instead of heavy with the gravitas of unresolved issues.  Maat is also the balancing of natural, terrestrial, and cosmic order arising from the field of chaos and its constant flux.  From this comes a sense of social justice felt by a heart aligned with natural order, as well as the social conventions of how a society ascribes judgment to what is appropriate or inappropriate behavior.  Jupiter is a planet of philosophical understanding that brings knowledge through the experience of natural law and order.  In our modern world, however, the societal conventions and laws created by humanity are often at odds with natural order.  In the constant balancing act of an individual moving through the injustices of this world, the transit of Jupiter in Libra will exacerbate tensions around injustice while seeking to stabilize efforts on behalf of social justice.

When looking upon an image of scales, even if they appear in stillness their form suggests the ceaseless, endless recalibrating going on within everyone, everything, in every moment.  Franz Kafka in his novel The Trial revealed the struggles of the individual faced with the injustices of the modern world, including ethnic tensions, class differences, and the abuse of women.  In one of many brilliant scenes, Kafka portrayed a meeting between his protagonist Josef K. and the painter Titorelli that unveiled the shadow of law and order, in that law systems claiming to be on the side of justice are in reality always on the hunt to be victorious:

There was a large figure shown in middle of the throne’s back rest which K. could not understand and asked the painter about it. That’ll need some more work done on it, the painter told him, and taking a pastel crayon from a small table he added a few strokes to the edges of the figure but without making it any clearer as far as K. could make out. “That’s the figure of justice,” said the painter, finally. “Now I see,” said K., “here’s the blindfold and here are the scales. But aren’t those wings on her heels, and isn’t she moving?” “Yes,” said the painter, “I had to paint it like that according to the contract. It’s actually the figure of justice and the goddess of victory all in one.” “That is not a good combination,” said K. with a smile. “Justice needs to remain still, otherwise the scales will move about and it won’t be possible to make a just verdict.” “I’m just doing what the client wanted,” said the painter . . .

. . . “Only it’s a pity that you can’t make out the details of his costume and pose in this picture, pastel colours aren’t really suitable for showing people like this.” “Yes,” said K., “it does seem odd that it’s in pastel colours.” “That’s what the judge wanted,” said the painter, “it’s meant to be for a woman.” The sight of the picture seemed to make him feel like working, he rolled up his shirtsleeves, picked up a few of the crayons, and K. watched as a reddish shadow built up around the head of the judge under their quivering tips and radiated out the to edges of the picture. This shadow play slowly surrounded the head like a decoration or lofty distinction. But around the figure of Justice, apart from some coloration that was barely noticeable, it remained light, and in this brightness the figure seemed to shine forward so that it now looked like neither the God of Justice nor the God of Victory, it seemed now, rather, to be a perfect depiction of the God of the Hunt.

— Franz Kafka, The Trial, Chapter 7

The Goddess of Justice in the painting is running with winged feet causing her scales to be out of balance, creating a likeness to a Goddess of the Hunt rather than Lady Justice.  Thus within the societal construct of a court system in which the individual purportedly is innocent until proven guilty, the court ostensibly concerned with justice is in actuality focused on hunting down the accused and triumphing over them.  When Lady Justice is claimed by those in seats of power who manipulate their hierarchical power structures to increase and sustain their grasp on power, the societal conventions and structures of law and order fall out of balance with Her natural law.

Enantiodromia is a term from ancient Greek meaning “to run counter to,” that was unearthed in the work of Carl Jung (who had Jupiter in Libra in the third decan that it rules) to demonstrate his understanding that anything at an extreme state will turn into its opposite quality. The concept of a unity found in oppositions goes at least as far back as the time of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, whose famous statement that no one steps in the same river twice was embedded within a philosophy of flux that saw that everything in existence contains and turns into its opposite state. Jung brought this concept into his theories about the interplay between our conscious and unconscious, and how what we repress in our subconscious can erupt in polarity through our shadow. There is an inherent restoration of balance to our system that results that is not unlike the astrological meaning we can find in Libra, the sign of the Scales.  Though we may want to strike out against the injustices of the surrounding world during the transit of Jupiter in Libra, to be most effective we will first need to face our own shadow that comes out in relationship with others.

As Libra places importance on dialogue in relationship, expressing one’s own needs while listening to the needs of others, an additional fitting concept emphasized by Carl Jung is Auseinandersetzung, German for “taking something to pieces.”  This refers to confrontation in dialogue in which two people verbally engage without running away from the conflict.  By staying engaged in the dialogue, the differences inherent to the disagreement become clarified and distinct, making an agreement or compromise possible.  Jung believed it was also possible to engage in such a dialogue with one’s anima/us, clarifying the unconscious being projected into relationships and keeping us perpetuating past relational patterns.  To Jung we gain “mettle” when facing the conflicts between our ego and anima/us, and out of the confrontation between the conscious and unconscious arises awareness of our wholeness, what he called individuation. This sort of inner integration that supports healthy growth is the domain of Jupiter.

divine pleasure indian art I

Gujari Ragini: A Lady with a Vina Seated on a Bed of Lotus Flowers (17th Century) by Ruknuddin

Jupiter in the Home of Venus

When Jupiter enters Libra, Venus will be at home to welcome its visionary expansiveness into her dwelling place.  While Jupiter in Libra may signify moderation and temperance in pursuit of desire and pleasure, it can also signify the excess of Venus that pull one into wild extremities of imbalance.  Falling in love during expansive Jupiter’s journey through Libra brings to mind the ravenous rapture of the ancient poet Sappho, whose fragment 47 has been translated by Anne Carson as declaring, “Eros shook my mind like a mountain wind falling on oak trees.”  Previous inner equilibrium unravels when opening to love, as it simultaneously opens one to the torment and grief of losing love.  The negative aspects of relationships will be just as much a potential under Jupiter in Libra as they are at any other time, yet since Jupiter tends to stabilize it will support rebalancing any difficult feelings such as jealousy or the bittersweet absence of love.  If the excesses of Jupiter are kept in check, the likelihood is for Jupiter in Libra to be a balm for improved communication and relations with others.

Jupiter in Libra can expand efforts in everything associated with Venus, whether that be arts, creativity, or the pleasure found in the body as well as the aesthetics of the senses.  Taking on mundane projects such as redesigning an environment can become magical with Jupiter in Libra, and the cohesive nature of Jupiter can also be utilized to connect one’s own work of passion to the efforts of others of like mind in our global community.  New combinations of abstract and aesthetic forms can come together into new movements that draw from the past yet display a fresh assemblage of influences that match the arising zeitgeist.  Jupiter in Libra is a time to activate your creativity in your wider community.

Venus will be increasing in light as an Evening Star for the first period of Jupiter’s time in Libra, moving from Libra to Scorpio to Capricorn to Aquarius and through Pisces before stationing retrograde in Aries in March 2017.  Venus will then move retrograde back into the final degrees of Pisces, the home of Jupiter.  As Jupiter’s time in Libra is bound to the movement of Venus, the Venus retrograde of March through April 2017 (February through May 2017 if you count the “shadow zone”) will be a significant recalibration in the experience of Jupiter in Libra.

Justice Lorenzetti_Amb._good_government_det.

Justice in The Allegory of Good Government (1339) by Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Jupiter in the Exaltation of Saturn

Libra is the exaltation of Saturn, and since Saturn in Sagittarius is lingering in the home of Jupiter, the entrance of Jupiter into Libra dramatically alters the relationship between Jupiter and Saturn from one of tension (the square from Virgo to Sagittarius) to one of harmony.  After a year of deconstructing change, Jupiter in Libra forming a sextile with Saturn in Sagittarius is opportune for constructive building of new structures.  As Jupiter approaches a sextile with Saturn at the end of 2016, opportunities will present themselves and obstacles will be removed in order to tend to the fracturing that came about from the last quarter square between Jupiter and Saturn that dominated the second half of 2015 and the first half of 2016.

Austin Coppock has talked about Saturn’s exaltation in Libra being about the ideal of forming contracts, laws, and other binding agreements out of consensus, an interpretation I agree with.   Saturn and Jupiter are both diurnal planets that favor Air signs, and Libra also forms a trine to Aquarius, the diurnal and airy home of Saturn.  With Saturn in Sagittarius, there is increased potential through Jupiter in Libra to organize efforts on behalf of social justice that make a direct impact in local communities, as well as for legislative bodies in governments to come together into compromised agreement around issues of civil rights.  Jupiter in Libra will support building social movements that address injustice.

In my nation and government of birth, the Statue of Liberty is the Goddess of Justice, our Colossus overlooking the sea bringing tides from other lands. Though a symbol of liberty and welcoming, the Statue of Liberty’s symbolism has also been manipulated by power structures to exert control. Currently, there is a fierce debate within the United States of America over immigration, including proposed policies that seek to restrict the very issue the Statue of Liberty evokes. The astrology chart often used for the Statue of Liberty features a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in Libra, fitting as the giant goddess is made from the Venusian metal copper. With the Statue of Liberty aligned so strongly with Jupiter in Libra, it makes sense that the national elections of 2016 with Jupiter in Libra will set the agenda for how the nation deals with immigration in coming years.  In countries all around the globe, Jupiter’s presence in Libra will hopefully facilitate greater compromise that can do something positive about the immigration and refugee crises that have erupted.

ganesha bronze

Bronze Ganesha (15th Century) Thailand

Key Transits of Jupiter in Libra 2016-2017

As Jupiter moves across Libra, it will gain additional dignity when it enters its own bounds at fifteen degrees and then again when it crosses twenty degrees into the third decan of Libra it rules.  Jupiter in the third face of Libra could be especially potent, as Jupiter’s rulership of the third decan signifies that there is a special quality of Jupiter to access here.  Jupiter will enter the third face of Libra at the end of December 2016 and then leave it retrograde in March 2017 during the Venus retrograde in Aries.  Jupiter will return to the third face of Libra in August 2017 just in time for a Total Solar Eclipse in Leo that will be visible and especially potent in the United States of America.  Jupiter will remain in the third face of Libra until it enters Scorpio in mid October 2017.

Toward the end of 2016 we will enter the full phase of the Jupiter and Uranus cycle, as Jupiter will form an exact opposition on 26 December 2016 with Uranus. While the full phase is always about managing opposing desires for external relationships versus internal independence, this conflict will be further exacerbated by Jupiter being in the relationally oriented sign of Libra and Uranus being in the independently oriented sign of Aries. During this phase we will explore the full meaning of the Jupiter and Uranus cycle that began in 2010, with support from a waning sextile formed within the Jupiter and Saturn cycle, and a disseminating trine formed between Saturn in Sagittarius with Uranus.   The combination of Saturn in trine to Uranus, as Jupiter opposes Uranus and forms a sextile with Saturn, brings the potential to liberate our personal vision from the restraints of our past framework, restructuring essential elements of life in support.

However, in the dark far reaches of outer space awaits Pluto in Capricorn holding a significant challenge for Jupiter in Libra.  Pluto in Capricorn will form a last quarter square with Jupiter for much of Jupiter’s time in Libra beginning in November 2016.  As a result,  Jupiter will re-connect the square between Uranus and Pluto in its aftermath, providing opportunities for social relationships and contracts to arise that remedy some of the fracturing that came about within the tectonic shifting of the square between Pluto and Uranus that was most strong from 2011 – 2015.  Though Jupiter in Libra ideally signifies peace, there will no doubt be many great conflicts and disruptions that arise during this period that resonate with the issues which erupted in the global collective during the years of the square between Pluto and Uranus.  At its best, Jupiter can inject its collaborative focus on social justice into the Plutonic power structures and systems during this period.

As previously mentioned, the Venus retrograde from March through April of 2017 will be one of the most disruptive periods of Jupiter’s time in Libra, as Jupiter will be under the influence of a rebellious Venus.  As Jupiter’s time in Libra will be significant for the generations of people born with Pluto in Libra, Neptune in Libra, Uranus in Libra, Saturn in Libra, and Jupiter in Libra, the Venus retrograde in Aries will be extremely catalytic for those born with these planets in between zero and fourteen degrees of Libra, since Venus will move back and forth across these degrees in opposition through her retrograde movement.  As a member of the Pluto in Libra generation, I am particularly curious about the impact of Jupiter’s transit through Libra on our generation, as we have come of age into greater access of power and responsibility, with greater capacity to make an impact with Jupiter conjoining our Pluto placements.

Carpe diem can be an overused motto, but truly Jupiter in Libra signifies a period in which to seize the day.  Jupiter in the home of Venus can amplify and accentuate all of the elements of our life that bring pleasure, beauty, harmony, and joy.  If you have been holding back in any way from attempting to make your life as extraordinary as possible, the ingress of Jupiter into Libra signals a time to expand the parameters of what you believe you can achieve and act accordingly.

References

BBC Radio. (2014). In Our Time: Culture. Kafka’s The Trial.

Kafka, Franz. (1925). The Trial. Translated from the German by David Wyllie.

Stein, Murray. (1998). Jung’s Map of the Soul. Open Court.

 

Virgo Solar Eclipse

Scott Young Virgo Eclipse

original artwork by Scott Young for graycrawford.net

Annular Solar Eclipse in Virgo

The Annular Solar Eclipse in Virgo on 1 September 2016 has ties with the Total Pisces Solar Eclipse that happened earlier in the year on March 8, but is most deeply bound to release into the Pisces Lunar Eclipse which will arrive on September 16.  Whereas the Pisces Solar Eclipse was an initiation into the dramatic changes of the year, the Virgo Solar Eclipse mediates events of the past six months at the same time it launches us into a new cycle of growth that will intensely flow into the Lunar Eclipse in Pisces that follows.  The ruler of the eclipse is Mercury at home and in exaltation in Virgo, but this is not your typically swift Mercury.  The Mercury ruling the Solar Eclipse is barely moving, having stationed retrograde two days prior.  Motionless in contemplation and analysis, Mercury retrograde is closely receiving Jupiter in a conjunction while also conjoining Venus in Libra, fortunate aspects that counterbalance the Solar Eclipse being opposite Neptune and closely square to the conjunction of Mars and Saturn.  Though the path may be labyrinthine in twists and turns, the Virgo Solar Eclipse will bring about discernment into grounded steps to take forward into the coming season, while letting go of old dreams we now realize were more illusory than practical.

With the Solar Eclipse conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo, and its ruler Mercury also in Virgo, there is clear intent to attune to the natural enfoldment of cycles in our life, accepting and shedding what is passing away while being open to what is beginning to take form.  Liz Greene in The Astrology of Fate connected the winged goddess Astraea to the Winged Maiden of Virgo, a daughter of Zeus who walked the Earth during a Golden Age of prosperity in order to foster harmony amongst humanity with the natural world and its inherent order.  Astraea like Virgo honors the creation and destruction of the natural order, the waning and waxing of the Moon, the cycles of seasons and their connection to growth and decay.  There is Mercurial pleasure Virgo takes in following the order of natural cycles, displeasure when creating disorder from forcing things to happen that go against the appropriate timing of the moment.  If we can let go of whatever attachments are getting in the way of opening to the naturally occurring change happening at the Virgo Solar Eclipse, with the willingness to trust the flow of life will come keen awareness of choices that will lead to essential development.

Annular_solar_eclipse_1976

Annular Solar Eclipse image by Hans Bernhard from 29 April 1976

Since the Solar Eclipse is Annular, it means the fertile void of its blackness will have a ring of light around it.  Annular eclipses occur as a result of the Moon being far enough away in orbit from the Earth that its shadow does not completely cover the Sun.  One of my favorite interpretations of solar eclipses is by Dane Rudhyar, who said the symbolism of the Moon’s shadow covering the face of the Sun suggests that forces from our past, as well as unconscious influences, veil the present with their fecund darkness.  Eclipses can feel like an uncontrollable tidal force taking us into an unknown we do not always feel ready for.  In combination with their unworldly visual element when seen, people have feared eclipses for ages, in ancient times portraying them as a great dragon of chaos and creation consuming our Sun and Moon.  Yet eclipses do not need to be feared.  Dragons are symbols of instinct and chaotic destruction that bring together the spiritually elevated with the chthonic, similar to eclipses in that greater wholeness can be found through the dissolution they bring about.  When stepping into the streams of eclipse season its best to remember the old fragmentary wisdom of Heraclitus:  unless you expect the unexpected, you will not find it, for it is hidden and pathless.

The lunar nodes are wholly metaphysical, as they do not physically exist but are instead calculations originally discovered to predict eclipses. The lunar nodes are points in space found through the intersection of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun with the Moon’s orbit around Earth: the South Node of the Moon being the descending arc of the Moon’s orbit (associated with the tail of the dragon, the past, release, the unconscious), while the North Node of the Moon is the ascending arc of the Moon’s orbit across the ecliptic (associated with the head of the dragon) and therefore has become associated with the conscious ascension of desire for incarnation and manifestation in our material realm.   Vitally, the Virgo Solar Eclipse is conjoining the North Node of the Moon.  As a result, the eclipse will awaken intimations of future growth and activate new methods.  The intersection of the past into the eclipse portal brings a Dragon’s Pearl that has been born from the darkness of the beast’s belly, a natural gem purified across time that now opens awareness to future potential and evolutionary growth.

sara taft merciful tear

Merciful Tear by Sara Taft

There are diverse interpretations of the lunar nodes in astrology, but one unifying concept is that meaning coming from the South Node of the Moon is released in a way that amplifies the meaning of the North Node of the Moon.  What we can all agree on is that Neptune is conjoining the South Node of the Moon, and the Solar Eclipse is conjoining the North Node.  This results in a release valve on Neptune feeding into the eclipse.   Neptune here dissolves old illusions that have been limiting your perspective, washing away fantasies and dreams that are not congruent with the bare bones of your circumstances and achievable in practical, concrete steps.   This does not mean to limit your thinking or keep yourself boxed into a restrictive place, only to fully accept your surrounding environment and what is actually happening, who or what are actually in reach as resources.

Adding incredible intensity to the eclipse is the conjunction of Mars and Saturn in Sagittarius that forms a square to the lunar nodes.  Positively, this alignment can point to what structures need to be torn down, rebuilt or further strengthened, as well as support creation of a blueprint for an entirely new structure that will bolster one’s essential meaning being developed.  For those grieving a loss,  within the hard feelings healing can come from retrieving irreplaceable elements of what has passed away that will continue to bring value going forward.  As awareness focuses on the true change occurring that contrasts with what had been expected or hoped for, the Mercurial element of the Virgo Solar Eclipse can facilitate attuning to the underlying fabric of what is really going on.

The Sabian symbol for the Solar Eclipse is “Two heads looking out and beyond the shadows,” which Dane Rudhyar described as unveiling “the growth of true understanding, born out of the transcendence of duality even while immersed in the world of duality.”  Essentially, Rudhyar meant the tenth degree of Virgo points to our mind operating within the conflicts and oppositions of duality, with potential realization revealing that the opposite sides of duality “are complementary aspects of the one Reality which sustains and encompasses all dualistic modes of existence.”  Rudhyar emphasized this broader awareness facilitates moving beyond the shadows generated by internal conflicts.  This sounds a lot like the transcendent function of Carl Jung,  in which holding the tension of oppositions within the psyche mediates between the ego and unconscious, leading to new awareness that unites the internal opposition creatively.

An ancient fragment of Heraclitus comments on this idea of two opposite things coinciding within one thing utilizing the Sagittarius imagery of the bow and arrow:  the name of the bow (βιός) is life (βιός), but it’s work is death (the word that means “life” and “bow” have the same letters but there is a stress on a different syllable when spoken).  Another fragment of Heraclitus also draws upon this same concept of harmony underlying the asymmetrical through the imagery of the strings of a bow being pulled backwards in two directions at the same time:  they do not understand that what differs agrees with itself; it is an attunement of opposite tension, like that of the bow and the lyre.  Since Mars and Saturn in Sagittarius being in hard aspect to the opposition between the Virgo Solar Eclipse and Neptune in Pisces signifies conflict, if we want to avoid becoming lost in the whirlwind we need to loosen the dogmatic side of Sagittarius and fortify the shifting quality of Sagittarius that synthesizes and coalesces understanding out of change and strife.

eclipse From Compendiolum de praeparatione auri potabilis veri, attributed to M[arcus] E[ugenius] Bonacina, ca. 1790

From Compendiolum de preparation auri potabilis veri, attributed to Marcus Eugenius Bonacina (1790)

Relationship issues will receive care and attention as a result of Venus being at home in Libra at the eclipse, increasing in light as an Evening Star.  As the Moon waxes toward its Lunar Eclipse on September 16, Venus will work on healing the fracturing of Mars and Saturn through forming a sextile to each, and then applying to an opposition with Uranus in Aries.  The building opposition between Venus and Uranus in between the eclipses stokes the intensity and electricity of the eclipse season, with startling insights that jolt us out of previously restrictive relational patterns striking unexpectedly.  Most importantly considering the waves of change occurring that will feel unsettling to many, Venus in Libra supports listening to the needs of others in relationship as well as not only listening to our own needs but expressing them to others in direct communication.

A few days after the solar eclipse, after the waning moon in Virgo passes over Jupiter and enters Libra to conjunct Venus, Jupiter will descend at sunset from being an Evening Star into its invisible chthonic phase in which it will be purified and regenerated under the beams of the Sun.  When Jupiter ingresses into Libra in the following week, it will enter its new sign only a couple of days before the last exact square between Saturn and Neptune.   Jupiter during the upcoming eclipse cycle will illuminate an old vision of who we are in relationship so we can release and let go of how we have been holding ourselves back in our interactions with others.  Additional support for embodying a new presence that may feel unfamiliar, yet allows us to ignore external judgment and express greater genuineness can be found in the conjunction between Juno and the mean node of Black Moon Lilith in Scorpio that forms a sextile with the Virgo Solar Eclipse.

pents08

8 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

Virgo 1 Decan

The first face of Virgo where the Annular Solar Eclipse occurs is associated with the Eight of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  In the image we see an artist and craftsman fully engrossed in the moment with his art, concentrating with full attention to one direct focus in the moment. This image evokes the importance of taking things step by step, one task at a time, completing each aspect of the process with loving care and attention.  Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Tree Bearing Fruit” to this face, noting the prevalence of images associated with “fruitful works” developed through “humble observation of, and careful tending to, the created world” in ancient texts:

The first decan of an earth sign, this face provides initiation into the mysteries of incarnation. It teaches the difference between the touched and the untouched, and the prudence of postponing delight until the fruit is ripe. It makes for careful craftsman, thoughtful merchants and wise farmers, though many other transformers of the prima materia are here as well. Though the formulae of this face is one of humility, it results in works of surprising glory. Creation ripens for those who can hear and heed its voice.

— Austin Coppock, 36 Faces, p. 139-140

The Sun rules the first face of Virgo, giving the Sun enhanced ability to bring about its solar significations than it otherwise would by being in the home of Mercury.   Mercury retrograde receiving its conjunction with Jupiter in Virgo highlights a visionary potential to be found in the smallest of tasks performed with integrity and absorbed focus.  To embody our solar potential available at the Virgo Solar Eclipse, however, we need to turn this magical focus within in order to fully embrace and accept everything about ourselves.  With the additional activation of Libra that comes through the eclipse, it is vital not to project inner issues into our relationships but instead listen clearly to what our relationships are communicating to us, not how we are interpreting their message in relation to our own issues.  With full embrace of our current reality within its streams of change, the Virgo Solar Eclipse becomes a powerful stepping stone on the path of creating deeper sustenance and fulfillment out of the shifting tides coming through this September.

VirgoSolarEclipseWRIGC4

References

BBC Radio 4, In Our Time. (7 December 2011). Heraclitus.

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.

Greene, Liz. (1984). The Astrology of Fate. Weiser Books.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1973). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases. Vintage Books.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1980). The Astrology of Transformation. Quest Books.

Mercury Retrograde in Virgo

Splendor Solis Mercury flask

Mercury Flask from the Splendor Solis

We know where [ Hermes ] comes from and what type of consciousness he exemplifies.  He is most likely the same dark depth of being from which we all originate.  Perhaps for this reason Hermes can so convincingly hover before us, lead us on our ways, show us golden treasures in everyone through the split-second timing which is the spirit of finding and thieving- all of this because he creates his reality out of us, or more properly through us, just as one fetches water not so much out of a well as through the well from the much deeper regions of the earth . . .  Despite the thievery and deceit and shamelessness- and this is probably the most wonderful thing about it- a divine innocence is properly suited to and inherent in it.  Hermes has nothing to do with sins and atonement.  What he brings with him from the springs of creation is precisely the “innocence of becoming.”

— Karl Kerenyi, from Hermes: Guide of Souls

Mercury Retrograde in Virgo

It’s in twilight when it comes.  The shift of hue and space arrives, transmuting sunlight into variegated shadow, enveloping life in a polychromatic caress of sensuous mood and mysterious measure.  With a flash of light Mercury descends retrograde into the darkening brilliance of sunset, disappearing into its invisible, underworld phase with a message to receive.  The sign of Virgo where Mercury stations in stillness is the nocturnal home of Hermes, the quicksilver messenger and companion of black night whose serpentine staff enchants and lulls, whose fluttering wings break open any static sleepiness of mind.  As Mercury slows down, comes to a standstill, and then turns backward in retrograde motion through the zodiac, we cross a liminal threshold that invites alterations of mental fixations and openings to manifold perspectives.

In the realm of popular culture, periods of Mercury retrograde are known as disastrous aberrations in which Mercury becomes a scapegoat for all misfortunes and mishaps.  Yet the Mercury retrograde period is a regular cyclical phenomenon that happens at least three times every year, an essential aspect of Mercury’s orbit just like the consistent blackening of the Moon in its orbit.  Unlike the astrological stereotypes, important actions can be initiated during Mercury retrograde as well as successful contracts signed.  However, during Mercury retrograde it is advisable to sustain mental alertness and be open to signs, symbols, and information in your environment that can help guide your intuition toward which actions to take or commitments to make.

Mercury retrograde is intrinsic to Mercury in astrology, a planetary archetype of contesting and contrasting.  While Mercury signifies insight and smooth communication, the lessons of Mercury do not always come from stability, as experience shows that chaos and disorientation lead to illumination and realization.  Once Mercury moves retrograde it descends from being a visible Evening Star into an invisible, subterranean guide of soul catalyzing change and growth in situations that range widely from the frustrating to the enlivening.  Flowing with Mercury retrograde involves letting go of strict control and order, opening to the wisdom coming from unexpected sources.   As the changeable nature of Mercury is found in its extremely variable speed, when Mercury slows dow to station it is important to pay attention to its aspects in the natal chart as well as to other planets by transit.  The Mercury retrograde in Virgo begins with the strange brew of Mercury stationing in a beneficial conjunction with Jupiter and Venus, at the entrance into a dramatic portal of eclipses.

Mercury stations retrograde in Virgo on 30 August 2016 at a Dark Moon two days before an annular Solar Eclipse.  In the blackness of the Balsamic Moon, Mercury will be surrounded by Venus and Jupiter with all three planets visible during the changing colors of sunset.  Since Mercury is both at home and exalted in Virgo, and surrounded on both sides by the visionary Jupiter and the pleasing Venus, Fortuna smiles upon this alignment.  Furthering fortune, at the same time Mercury stations retrograde Venus enters her own sign of Libra where she will luxuriate for the entirety of the backward motion of Mercury, increasing in brightness as an Evening Star.  However, these signs of expansive harmony coexist with Mercury stationing at the time of a potent Solar Eclipse in hard aspect to Mars, Saturn, and Neptune.  Mercury retrograde in Virgo will be the psychopomp guiding us through an eclipse season that will call for the release of old attachments and beliefs, but in the letting go a space will open for nurturing innovation.

MercuryStationRxWRIGC3

Magritte-the-cultivation-of-ideas

The Cultivation of Ideas (1928) by Renee Magritte

In ‘nature’ there’s no choice-
flowers
swing their heads in the wind, sun & moon
are as they are. But we seem
almost to have it ( not just
available death )

It’s energy; a spider’s thread: not to
‘go on living’ but to quicken, to activate: extend:
Some have it, they force it-

with work or laughter or even
the act of buying, if that’s
all they can lay hands on-

the girls crowding the stores, where light,
colour, sold dreams are- what gay
desire! It’s their festival,
ring game, wassail, mystery.

It has no grace like that of
the grass, the humble rhythms, the
falling & rising of leaf and star;
it’s barely
a constant. Like salt:
take it or leave it

The ‘hewers of wood’ & so on; every damn
craftsman has it while he’s working
but it’s not
a question of work: some
shine with it, in repose. Maybe it is
response, the will to respond- (‘reason
can give nothing at all / like
the response to desire’) maybe
a gritting of the teeth, to go
just that much further, beyond the end
beyond whatever ends to begin, to be, to defy.

–Denise Levertov, Beyond the End

Virgo is a mutable earth sign in which Mercury is exalted and comfortably at home, with all of its resources and tools at its disposal.  As a result, the tricks and wayward paths Mercury guides us through during its retrograde promise to make essential aspects of our reality illuminated even when reinforcing the obscurity of our world and the impossibility of knowing everything clearly.  Virgo is an inwardly directed and receptive place for Mercury to burrow into fertile sources of research, devise practical solutions to current predicaments, discern dietary and physical routines to fortify the body, and purify the mind from whatever heavy issues have been accumulating and weighing one down.

The year of 2016 has had the theme of Mercury being retrograde in earth signs (Mercury retrograde in Aquarius and Capricorn in January;  Mercury retrograde in Taurus in April and May),  a sequence of retrogrades that has called for us to reorient to the surrounding material world and the way we create meaning out of our senses.  Our relationship with finances and the flow of resources in our life has also been highlighted by Mercury being  retrograde in earth signs this year, and will again be significant with the God of Commerce being in its home of Virgo.  Since Mercury stations retrograde in sync with a Solar Eclipse in Virgo, and a Lunar Eclipse in Pisces follows, this retrograde in Virgo promises to be most pivotal in terms of adjusting our resources and livelihood in connection with the momentous changes of the current year.

Another theme of the three Mercury retrogrades so far this year is that each of them has had significant aspects with Mars, Jupiter, and Pluto, resulting in cathartic change in our vision of life and the manner in which we use our will-force to manifest fulfillment.  As a result of the surrounding astrological climate, Mercury’s retrograde in Virgo will bring increased emphasis to reorienting personal beliefs, opening awareness more acutely to how perception and knowledge are bound to one’s own sense of culture and existence.  Mercury retrograde in Virgo can be used to uncover how one’s beliefs have to do with whatever one is used to or not used to experiencing.  While Mercury is retrograde in Virgo situations will present themselves in a way that facilitates rearranging or releasing old conceptual thought patterns rooted in belief systems Mercury will be able to loosen.

The pull of Mercury retrograde within to know thyself on deeper levels is amplified by the inner focus of Virgo.  Since Mars and Saturn both signify separation, the beginning of the retrograde involves dealing with whatever difficult losses or challenges have come into our life in correspondence with Mars and Saturn aligning at the Heart of the Scorpion (the fixed star Antares).  Mercury stationing retrograde while surrounded by Jupiter and Venus points toward healing oneself from the vast well within, eventually coalescing what has been fragmented to return to a sense of wholeness.  The Virgo retrograde of Mercury can open newfound self knowledge from within that catalyzes defiant strength in overcoming adversity and going beyond previous limitations.

René-Magritte-The-Castle-of-the-Pyrenees-1959-The-Israel-Museum

Rene’ Magritte (1959) The Castle of the Pyrenees

Swing of the scythe
illuminated, displaced
into my book of hours, the falling
grass, gold leafed
on the uneven
left upper windowpane-

But way up on the hill
the drift of field-air around you,
the scythe singing,
and what birds you may hear.

— Denise Levertov, Down Here and up There

The final last quarter square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces  that has dominated the astrological atmosphere in the past year is a core aspect of Mercury being retrograde in Virgo.  Additionally, the overarching influence that Mars has possessed in 2016 is also mediated by Mercury, as its Virgo retrograde begins with Mars having finally moved beyond the shadow zone of the red planet’s retrograde, and finally having activated its new phase with Saturn and its last quarter square phase with Neptune.  Making these themes of Mars, Saturn, and Neptune even more extreme is that Mars and Saturn are in square to the transiting lunar nodes, Neptune is conjoining the transiting South Node of the Moon, and at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde there is a dramatic Solar Eclipse that is opposite Neptune, square to Saturn and Mars, and conjunct the transiting North Node of the Moon.  Since the Mercury retrograde begins with a Solar Eclipse, there is a deeply mysterious element to the underworld journey Hermes will guide us through that will defy full understanding until a later time of reflection.

In part the square between Saturn and Neptune is about the boundaries and structures in every dimension of life.  While Saturn and Neptune in square can reveal ironic insight and the underlying meaning in the bones of any matter, with Mercury retrograde in Virgo we will also sense how the very idea of being able to penetrate with analysis to core understanding and rationally solve all problems through ordering is a fantasy in itself.  Neptune signifies an immaterial dimension that goes beyond intellectual understanding, and so Mercury in its retrograde role will play the part of Socrates, revealing the ignorance of mental frameworks in order to initiate deeper searches for how to live a life of genuine happiness.  At the same time, the limitations and boundaries of Saturn are necessary to effectively integrate Neptune in a manner that keeps one grounded.  The Virgo retrograde of Mercury in tandem with Mars in Sagittarius can focus awareness on the details needed to keep ourselves healthy and operating at an optimal level of energy in our environment.

The sign of Virgo forms a superior square to Sagittarius, a concept that points to the purification of Virgo taking precedence during the retrograde over the hardened, heavy realities of Mars and Saturn in Sagittarius.  The tension between Mars, Saturn, and Neptune at the beginning of Mercury’s retrograde reveal us to be at the tentative beginning of a new cycle, with an old cycle that has already culminated being in its last remnants of disintegration. There has also been a Mars catalyst of activating serious determination to set targets for long range goals.  As a result, Mercury retrograde in Virgo can aid us in purifying the past through weaving elements of what has been lost together with the opening for the unknown future they have created.  Mercury in its underworld journey can guide us to places that will recover and repair wounds of the past cycle, refortifying our capacity to fully embody the present moment.

Chagall the-deer-looking-itself-in-the-water

The Deer Looking Itself in the Water by Marc Chagall

Under the harvest sun the heart
ripens on its wall;
under the heat of noon the mind
like a leaf is cool.
The angelus and the goat bell
sway across the grass;
butterflies in blue mid-air
touch and spin apart.
Any attempted dream must fall
to ruin in this light, must pass
before the mocking glance
of idle animals.
There is no need to escape
from the motionless mountain
there is no need to escape
when here the indifferent lake
accepts a nervous image,
demands no affirmation
of innocence or faith.

— Denise Levertov, Sarnen

Mercury in the Heart

When Mercury is retrograde it is passing in between the orbits of Earth and the Sun, which is what creates the illusion that it is moving backward through the zodiac from our perspective on Earth.  As a result, when Mercury retrograde conjoins the Sun during its retrograde it is in alignment with our planet as close at it ever gets.  This is the Inferior Conjunction of Mercury when Mercury is said to be cazimi, at the heart of the Sun.  This window of time in which Mercury passes within a degree of the Sun (some say it is really within 17 minutes of the Sun) is a magical moment in the synodic cycle of Mercury in which all of its significations are strengthened by the Solar Light.  It is a rebirth of the Mercury archetype in our life, as Mercury has been undergoing a purifying regeneration in the beams of the Sun while approaching the conjunction.   Mercury enters the heart of the Sun on September 12 while also being square to Mars in Sagittarius.  It comes two days after the final exact square between Saturn and Neptune and so has a lot to do with the aftermath of their upheaval.

Though the square between Mars in Sagittarius and the Mercury-Sun union is most exact, it is also significant considering the Saturn-Neptune influence that Chiron in Pisces is in range of a square to Mars and an opposition to Mercury cazimi.  Chiron functions as a bridge between the realm of Saturn and the realm of Neptune that stretches far beyond the rings of Saturn.  As a result of its retrograde movement, Mercury will also end up passing back and forth across an opposition with Chiron three different times.  Chiron’s influence fosters the purification of Virgo and the healing of wounds that can ultimately lead one to embody a higher frequency in which heavy accumulations of the psyche have been burned off.

However, with Mars forming an exact square to Mercury’s union with the Sun it means that there will be a lot of intensity, if not external conflict than internal conflict to face in any rebirth process.  Mercury at the heart of the Sun in this retrograde cycle is incredibly active and martial in force, capable of propelling oneself dramatically forward.  If instead the Mars influence on Mercury’s Inferior Conjunction leads to more of a wounding crash, than the remaining Mercury retrograde period can be utilized to begin readjusting and reorienting as needed.

MercuryCazimiVirgoWRIGC2

Vasily Kafanov mystery of fishtower

Vasily Kafanov (1998) Mystery of the Fishtower

When the white fog burns off,
the abyss of everlasting light
is revealed. The last cobwebs
of fog in the
black firtrees are flakes
of white ash in the world’s hearth.

Cold of the sea is counterpart
to this great fire. Plunging
out of the burning cold of ocean
we enter an ocean of intense
noon. Sacred salt
sparkles on our bodies.

After mist has wrapped us again
in fine wool, may the taste of salt
recall to us the great depths about us.

–Denise Levertov, The Depths

Four days after Mercury unites with the Sun, a Lunar Eclipse in Pisces will illuminate the heart of the Mercury retrograde cycle.  Once again Mars in Sagittarius holds extraordinary influence, as it forms a close square to the Lunar Eclipse.  Chiron is also highlighted once again as it will conjoin the Lunar Eclipse, echoing the extremely powerful Total Solar Eclipse in March 2016 that was also conjoining Chiron.  Mercury retrograde at this point will be moving toward a trine to Pluto and away from its square to Mars.  The Pisces Lunar Eclipse lights up the full polarity of the sign of Virgo with martial ferociousness.  In collective events, it is an ominous configuration in terms of increased violence coming from crusaders, martyrs, terrorists, and persecutors fixated on dogmatic belief systems.  The shadow side of Virgo that can involve responding to chaotic change through overexerting control or obsessing over perfectionistic ideals could come out if we are not careful.  If we can enter the flow of this eclipse, we can instead let go of control and enter the pure space of whatever the moment is asking from us.

Sekhmet temple bw

Fascinatingly, the Sekhmet archetype will be involved in this section of Mercury’s underworld journey as the Sekhmet asteroid #5381 will be conjunct both the Virgo Sun at the time of the Lunar Eclipse (at 24º Virgo) as well as conjunct Mercury’s Inferior Conjunction (at 23º Virgo).  Though some may scoff at the significance of an obscure asteroid placement in this overall astrological arrangement, I had been feeling a strong intuition connected with Sekhmet which is what led me to notice its alignment with the Mercury retrograde.  Sekhmet is an ancient lion headed goddess, primordial and fierce, whose fiery rage brings purification.  Sekhmet, Great One of Magic, Lady of Transformations, At Whose Wish the Arts were Born, Self-Contained, Opener of Ways, Satisfier of Desires, Destroyer by Fire, Devouring One, The One Who Holds Back Darkness, Lady of the Waters of Life, Great One of Healing . . . her epithets are multitudinous, her nature impossible to fully encompass in language.

Sekhmet’s presence during Mercury retrograde makes the virginal maiden of Virgo a lion headed goddess on the prowl through the desert landscapes of our dreams and inner psychic life, destroying old, obsolete, and decaying attachments with her ferocious form.  Since Mars the red planet is so emphasized at this point of the Mercury retrograde, and in fact Mars forms a square to the Sekhmet asteroid at this time, it is further compelling that red is a sacred color to Sekhmet just as red is the shade the Moon turns during a Lunar Eclipse.  Sekhmet has a message that any anger that arises in association with Mars in Sagittarius during the Mercury retrograde can be utilized to purify and burn off whatever needs to be let go and released.

Frida Roots II

Frida Kahlo (1943) Roots

The gleam of thy drenched
floors of leaf-layers! Fragrance
of death and change!
If there is only
now to live, I’ll live
the hour till doom stroke
crouched with the russet toad,
my huge human size
no more account than a bough fallen:

not upward,
searching for branch-hidden sky:
I’ll look
down into paradise.

Thy moss gardens, the deep
constellations of green, the striate
rock furred with emerald,
inscribed with gold lichen,
with scarlet!
Thy smooth
acorns in roughsurfaced
precise cups!
Thy black
horns of plenty!

–Denise Levertov: Forest Altar, September

Equinox Stationing

Mercury will station direct at the time of the Autumn Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, the Spring Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere.  Mercury also stations in range of some powerful aspects:  a trine to Pluto in Capricorn, a square to Saturn in Sagittarius, an opposition to Neptune in Pisces, and a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon.  However, the most exact and catalytic aspect formed by Mercury as it stations is a square with the Moon, as the Moon will be in Gemini creating a Mutable Grand Cross between the Moon, Mercury, Saturn, Neptune, and the lunar nodes.  Mercury will be receiving the Moon as a result, and so this moment of Mercury stationing direct portends a bigger shift in mental framework than is typically the case when Mercury stations direct.  The aspects surrounding Mercury stationing direct in Virgo suggest it is a significant moment of mediation not only for the past Mercury retrograde cycle, but for the events of the entire year so far.

As Mercury stations direct, it shifts from being invisible to once again making an appearance during the fiery rise of the Sun as a Morning Star, a condition that to Hellenistic astrologers signified a transmission of an oracular message.  It is beautiful symbolism that Mercury stations direct at the time of the Equinox, a time of rebalancing between night and day, a season in the Northern Hemisphere in which cool dry winds begin to blow as green leaves shift to shades of auburn and gold.   My personal view of astrology is that all Mercury retrograde phases signify vital regeneration, however, this particular Mercury retrograde in Virgo appears to signify cathartic rebirth that goes beyond the norm for Mercury retrograde.  It may not feel easy at times, but as John Lennon sang “Living is easy with eyes closed / misunderstanding all you see.”  As the Sun enters the sign of the Scales as Mercury begins to move forward again as a Morning Star, our mind will recalibrate to focus with revivified heart on the desires that will bring us greater happiness and fulfillment in the season ahead.

MercuryStationDirectWRIGC1C

References

Kerenyi, Karl. (1976). Hermes: Guide of Souls. Spring.

Levertov, Denise. (2013). Collected Poems. New Directions.

Aquarius Full Moon

DP231962

The Moon in the house of Saturn (the water carrier, or Aquarius) from Mu’nis al-ahrar fi daqa’iq al-ash’ar (The Free Man’s Companion to the Subtleties of Poems) of Jajarmi

Full Moon in Aquarius

The Full Moon on 18 August 2016 is close to being a visible eclipse, and if you are a reader of astrological literature you have probably seen this lunation noted as an eclipse.  Eclipses cannot be more than eighteen degrees away from the transiting lunar nodes, and so the Full Moon technically fits into this parameter as it is seventeen degrees away from the lunar nodes. However, in actuality the shadow of the Earth will not cover the Moon and so it will not be a visible eclipse anywhere in the world. Nonetheless, this still remains a loaded Full Moon within many intense astrological aspects.  The Sun at home in the burning immediacy of Leo is off-set by the airy objectification of Aquarius, a sign that can set itself apart and gain reflective insight into the underlying dynamics of any process.  The Full Moon in Aquarius illuminates a longview backwards into the fateful events of the past year, bearing in the waters of its Aquarian vessel awareness of the nutritive elements to nourish and cultivate in the forthcoming cycle.

Saturn in Sagittarius rules the Full Moon less than a week after stationing direct, while in balsamic conjunction with Mars. This has been a long, long, long balsamic phase between Mars and Saturn since the Mars retrograde period of past months extended its length beyond normal timing.  Similar to the dark phase of the Moon, the balsamic phase of cycles between planets is a time of re-visioning in which elements of our past arise to be released or re-seeded within an atmosphere that can feel disorienting and confusing.  In the week following the Full Moon the cycle will complete with an exact conjunction between Mars and Saturn, and so the Full Moon enlightens its finale with foundational understanding into what has transpired and what needs to be now taken responsibility for going forward. This is the close of the cycle between Mars and Saturn that began August 25, 2014 at eighteen degrees of Scorpio (the cycle previous to this began August 15, 2012 at twenty-five degrees of Libra), and is amplified by it also being conjunct the royal star Antares and the aforementioned Mars retrograde that occurred in the build up.

When Mars and Saturn close their cycle, feelings of needing to finish old unfinished projects can arise along with the impulse to initiate action in an area of life that has been neglected or put off for one reason or another.  There can also be feelings of overwhelm over the responsibilities and work involved in soulful desires that vivify expansive vision yet have such an unknown quality that they do not yet seem practical or possible to manifest.  It is important to now separate fears of futility from the relationships and goals that are well worth committing to with sustained effort in the coming cycle.  What we start now in the disintegration of the previous cycle between Mars and Saturn will not produce our ideal outcome immediately and will require patient cultivation in coming months, but by gaining clarity of what we want we can begin to rearrange our life in support.  There is tremendous shifting coming in a month of September filled with eclipses and Mercury retrograde, and so many unknown factors will soon come into play with influences impossible to clearly know at this time.

James Hillman’s classic essay “On Senex Consciousness” explores the archetype of Saturn as ruling the fertile decay that comes at the end of a cycle, among numerous other significations:

Putrefaction belongs to Saturn as god of agriculture, dung and dying. Putrefaction in alchemy was natural disintegration necessary for change. Such putrefaction is ferment, decomposition into elements through the release of “sulphuric” aggressive fumes which assault and insult one’s sensibilities.  Its purpose is a re-ordering of “matters” . . . Senex growth is inward and downward, or backward; its force can come through shrinkage, his power manifest in the last stage of processes, in their decay. He rules over the spoiled, the filth and the refuse of society not only owing to sordid anality and repression, but because senex consciousness finds its awareness in the underside of the complex and as it decays.  So accustomed are we to growth and to what T.S. Eliot calls “superficial notions of evolution /Which becomes, in the popular mind, a means of disowning the past” (“The Dry Salvages”) and to the Positive Great Mother doctrines of milky-way philosophy, onward and upward with Teilhard de Chardin, that we miss Lua, the spoiler, the consciousness that is possible through the natural process of decomposition.  “Decay is inherent in all composite things,” says the last dictum of the Buddha, so what we work at is not our growth, but the modes of our rot.”

–James Hillman, from his essay On Senex Consciousness

Adding to the potency, Mars and Saturn are coming into conjunction in range of a square to Neptune and the transiting lunar nodes.  The square between Saturn and Neptune has been pitting the division lines of Saturn against the amorphous influences of Neptune that dissolve Saturn’s crystallizations to reveal awareness and meaning that the walls of Saturn had been attempting to block.  In combination with Mars now joining Saturn in square to the transiting lunar nodes, attempts to seal off one’s hermetic vessel will be put to the test over what needs to be let in versus what can continue to be blocked with a boundary.  With Neptune conjoining the transiting south node of the Moon, there are certainly illusions and toxic collective influences we do not want to contaminate the union of Mars and Saturn with.  Yet the imaginal field of Neptune in tandem with the purifying aspect of the transiting South Node of the Moon means erecting firm boundaries could be keeping out nourishing elements that can replenish and facilitate important re-visioning.  There is a balance to strike between creating healthy boundaries and erecting walls that lead ultimately to isolation.  The Aquarius Full Moon points toward listening to one’s inner self and heart rather than subscribing to external doctrines dictating behavior.

William Blake from Henry IV

William Blake (1809) illustration from Shakespeare’s Henry IV: “Rise from the ground like feathered Mercury /  And vaulted with such was into his seat / As if an angel dropped down from the clouds / To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus / And witch the world with noble horsemanship.”

The rebellious, shocking, and liberating Uranus is activated at the Full Moon, being in sextile to the Aquarius Moon and in trine to the Leo Sun.   The added intensity of Uranus to the hard aspects present between Mars, Saturn, and Neptune means that collective events could spin out of control wherever conflicting crusaders of dogmatism cross paths.  On a personal level, the dying off of the old cycle between Saturn and Mars activates the aspect of Saturn that strips issues to their bones and penetrates to the core matter at hand.  In combination with Uranus being activated so strongly by the Full Moon, there is potential to access potent vision and creative imagination that is simultaneously expansive, liberating, and grounded in the pragmatic reality of one’s circumstances.  The fertile visioning quality of the Full Moon is further amplified by the asteroid Pallas Athena being conjunct the Aquarius Moon.  All together, the Aquarius Full Moon has numerous aspects accentuating the higher mind of the Water Bearer, the unique capacity of Aquarius to disengage from dominant cultural influences and generate breakthrough thought from within that addresses wider humanitarian concerns.  There is much greater power to be found in the Aquarius Full Moon through collaborating in creativity with others of shared passions rather than engaging in destructive combat with those of opposing viewpoints.

Salomon Trismosin - Splendor Solis - 13  b

From the Splendor Solis

The natural vistas of Virgo are highlighted at the Full Moon, as Mercury is receiving Jupiter in a conjunction in Virgo, and Venus is separating from a conjunction with the transiting North Node of the Moon, a trine with Pluto, and an opposition with Neptune.  The conjunction between Mercury and Jupiter is especially powerful as Mercury being at home and in its exaltation is providing Jupiter with everything it needs to make its final pass through Virgo memorable.  Because Mercury will be stationing retrograde in Virgo at the end of August, Mercury and Jupiter will remain in conjunction until Jupiter finally leaves Virgo and enters the sign of Libra on September 9.  In addition, in the week following the Full Moon, at the same time Mars and Saturn conjoin, Venus will enter into a conjunction with both Mercury and Jupiter in Virgo.  The triple conjunction between Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter will be closest between August 26 and 29.

Mercury has already entered its retrograde shadow zone and is close to the degree of its eventual Inferior Conjunction with the Sun when retrograde in September.  As a result, the Aquarius Full Moon is illuminating important events, relationships, and issues whose significance will become more apparent as we enter September’s period of eclipses and Mercury retrograde.  As Virgo is a place in which thorough and detailed research can be performed, this Full Moon is powerful not only for current research ventures but also to launch into deep investigation into a subject matter that will give the upcoming Mercury retrograde plenty to digest.  The added influence of Venus means the week ahead is ideal for purification and weaving harmony into one’s daily choices and environment.  In response to any difficult experiences, Venus combined with Mercury and Jupiter in Virgo will facilitate attuning to the changes of the moment for a solution and healing.

Finally, there is an opposition between the conjunction of Mercury and Jupiter with Chiron in Pisces that in addition forms a yod with the sextile between Uranus in Aries and the Aquarius Full Moon.  There is a lot of tension in these aspects, with Chiron at the trigger point.  As a result, whatever wounds, learning, teaching, healing, or mastery you have been working with in relation to Chiron in Pisces in the past six months will be deeply felt.  For those who have been doing the deep work of Chiron in these past months, this Full Moon has aspects that can reward the dedicated effort with a significant breakthrough or insight.  There is more to come in relation to Chiron in September, as the Pisces Lunar Eclipse on September 16 is conjunct Chiron and the Mercury retrograde will be in opposition.  Chiron being activated by hard aspect is usually not easy, but also can generate extraordinary growth when one is willing to open oneself fully to experience and face whatever issues arise without denial, receiving the wisdom of what one encounters.

swords07

7 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Aquarius 3 Decan

The Aquarius Full Moon falls in the third decan of Aquarius associated with the 7 of Swords card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  The image of a figure stealthily removing five swords from an encampment while leaving two behind is often interpreted as signifying deception and betrayal, trying to get away with something in secret, or utilizing mental strategizing with a willingness to deceive.  Known as “Futility” in the Thoth deck, it is also interpreted as becoming overcome with doubts regarding liberating thoughts due to fear over whether or not they can materialize successfully.  As a result it can be recommended to cultivate patience and give the vision more time to develop before giving up on it as being fruitless.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Knot” to the third face of Aquarius, artfully weaving both interpretations of the 7 of Swords card through feelings of becoming frustrated or unhappy with a circumstance we have bound ourselves to with karmic knots. Coppock adds depth to Pamela Colman Smith’s image of the 7 of Swords as a result, pointing out that the stealthy figure has already undergone a long process of consideration and has decided to separate from the situation while discerning what to take of value and what to leave behind.  As the final decan of Aquarius, Coppock concluded that it brings up the difficult decision of whether or not to leave the known for the unknown, and “illuminates karmic entanglements and oversees liberation from them,” including the need to pay off debts and salvage the valuable before known attachments can be left behind.

The Moon is the ruler of the third face of Aquarius, giving this Full Moon greater strength than it would otherwise have in Aquarius.  The surrounding astrological aspects have elements of uncertainty and being at the crossroads between the familiar and unfamiliar, being at the end of an old cycle while sensing the threshold of rebirth.  The Full Moon in the sign of the Water Bearer can facilitate purification and replenishment, fostering strength to trod the unknown path, by turning to the waters within for nourishment and reflective guidance rather than the turbulent currents flooding the collective.  In the brilliant silvery light of the Full Moon, allow the guidance and personal truth you are seeking to arise from within rather than grasping for it in external entanglements.

References

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.

Hillman, James. (1970).  On Senex Consciousness.  Spring:  An Annual of Archetypal Psychology and Jungian Thought.

Perseus and the Perseids

perseid over mt rainier

2015 Perseid meteor shower at Mt. Rainier National Park by Matt Dietrich

Do you still remember: falling stars,
how they leapt slantwise through the sky
like horses over suddenly held-out hurdles
of our wishes—did we have so many?—
for stars, innumerable, leapt everywhere;
almost every gaze upward became
wedded to the swift hazard of their play,
and our heart felt like a single thing
beneath that vast disintegration of their brilliance—
and was whole, as if it would survive them!

— Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Edward Snow

The Perseid meteor showers are most vivid this time of year, available tonight for viewing.   The Perseid meteors radiate from the constellation of Perseus, part of what Bernadette Brady called “The Royal Family” of stars that sit below Draco and the two bears:  Cepheus the king, Cassiopeia the queen, Andromeda their daughter, and Perseus the conquering hero who marries Andromeda after rescuing her from bondage and torment by a sea monster.  This depiction is not limited to Greek culture and is found in numerous cultures including Japan,  as there is an associated Japanese myth involving a goddess rescued from an eight-headed monster by a watery hero who then marries her.  From one perspective, this is the typical “hero’s journey” story we hear about so much, embedded in so many tired stereotypes surrounding gender, we can feel like giving the story little thought.  As Bernadette Brady described:

Andromeda is a princess, daughter of the king and queen of the sky. She is therefore part of the sky stories showing the natural balance of the human tribe or civilization.  She is the young, fertile virgin, the marriageable daughter waiting for suitors.  She is in a passive, surrendering position, showing her readiness.  Her legs are apart.  However, this symbol of willing receptiveness of the fertile virgin ready to take a suitor, ready to receive, could have been altered by the Greeks to a symbol of a chained, helpless, powerless, and dependent position, a woman weak and needing the masculine to free her- at the time the collective stripped power from women. She probably received her chains at the same time as her mother, the queen, was chained to her throne, indicating the loss of female sovereignty.

–Bernadette Brady, Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars, p. 49

I began thinking more about Perseus and Andromeda recently for self-centered reasons in addition to the Perseid meteors, as I realized that I was born with Mirfak, the alpha star of Perseus, being the closest star by the minute to my natal Gemini Moon.  I’ve also been giving more and more thought to how stories such as the one in the stars of Perseus and Andromeda have a meaning that goes beyond the genders assigned to each character, similar to how I find an underlying meaning in the concept of the anima/animus developed by Carl Jung despite the traditional gender stereotyping he ascribed to them as a person of his time.  What I mean is there is a significant meaning in these stars that goes well beyond the idea of a male desiring a female, or a female chained to a rock that is rescued by a male hero, though it certainly does involve the type of burning, passionate, tormented desire that poets across time such as Sappho have invested into their verse.  The stars of the Perseus constellation stretch from the third decan of Taurus through the first decan of Gemini in the tropical zodiac at this point in time.  In their story, Andromeda represents the fertile magnetism of Taurus, Perseus the active, surging quality of Gemini.

Perseus and andromeda

Edward Burne-Jones (1884-5) The Rock of Doom

Instead of thinking of these characters as separate individuals, I’ve been thinking of how all of them reflect parts of ourselves.  In particular, the chained Andromeda awaiting a torturous death by the sea monster Cetus is a striking symbol of the vital potency within us we allow to be latent, hidden, repressed, or enchained by one reason or another.  Andromeda’s parents thought they had to expose their daughter to the sea monster after they were punished by Poseidon for boasting that Andromeda’s beauty rivaled that of the Nereids- an oracle led them to believe her sacrifice was necessary in order to stop the monster from wreaking havoc within their civilization.  Andromeda is not helpless or weak, but rather is full of force and power.  This is similar to the gifts and strength we have within but sometimes hold back from accessing until we are confronted with challenges.  In fact, her name is the Latinized form of the Greek Ἀνδρομέδα (Androméda) or Ἀνδρομέδη (Andromédē) that can be translated as “ruler of men.”

Perseus in contrast symbolizes the fiery activation of soulful spirit from within that penetrates into the world of matter and generates creative growth.  Magic envelopes Perseus from the beginning, as his improbable birth occurred despite his grandfather sealing his mother Danae in a bronzed chamber due to fear over a prophecy that his grandson would cause his death. Once again there is an act of oppression toward a daughter due to fear over a divined fate.  Yet there was no stopping the birth of Perseus, as meteor-like Zeus descended through the bronze ceiling in a rain of gold and impregnated Danae with Perseus.  Magic followed Perseus on his journey, as he later received the winged sandals of Hermes, the cloak of invisibility of Hades, the adamantine sword of Zeus, and a knapsack from the Hesperides, the evening nymphs of golden sunset.

Perseus and the sea nymphs

Edward Burne-Jones (1877) Perseus and the Sea Nymphs

Also contained within the constellation of Perseus through which the glorious Perseid meteor showers beguile our imagination is the blinking, binary star Algol, known as the severed head of Medusa.  There is probably no other fixed star in astrology that has had so much negativity projected upon it as Algol, also known by Arab astrologers as the Head of the Demon.  The negative descriptions of Algol as an omen of certain disaster is similar to the negative labels given to Lilith and other demonized feminine figures of myth.  As Bernadette Brady wrote, “Algol thus embodied everything that men feared in the feminine.”  Going beyond gender, I feel Brady’s most insightful description of Algol is as follows:

Algol represents a strong consuming passion that may devour you with anger and rage. If one can contain an unconscious compulsion to take revenge, and focus that passion into a more productive outcome, Algol is one of the most powerful stars in the sky.

–Bernadette Brady, Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars, p. 190

When Perseus decapitated Medusa, the winged Pegasus, the font of inspired poetry and artistry, was born and released.  In the Andromeda constellation, the alpha star Alpheratz is also believed to be a former member of the Pegasus constellation, linking the figures of Andromeda, Medusa, and Pegasus together.  Many have written previously of the compelling symbolism of the catalytic and traumatic birth of Pegasus and how it reveals the depth of torment, conflict, loss, courage, and passion at the heart of poetic inspiration.  When Bernadette Brady writes about Mirfak, the alpha star of the Perseus constellation, she describes it as signifying the pride of the warrior over their strength and skills that can gain them a trophy or treasure, yet whose overzealous nature may lead them to overestimate their abilities and disregard caution.  Even when our actions coming from the purest forms of desire and passion lead to feelings of tragic loss, however, it is the very fire of the vivifying spirit within that has been catalyzed that brings us alive and makes us feel that life in this world is worth living.  In the story of Perseus and Andromeda, Perseus slays the sea monster and frees Andromeda, symbolizing our capacity to unlock and liberate our strength and ability to create our own destiny from within.

Perseus (1875-1888)

Edward Burne-Jones (1888) The Doom Fulfilled

When we watch meteors and shooting, falling stars, we can’t help but make a wish for delights of imagination that transcend our current circumstances.   The story of Perseus and Andromeda contains the seeds of our own liberation we can create from within without needing to be dependent upon a romantic partner or rescuer, or any other external relationship or belief system.  As the meteors radiate from within Perseus, allow yourself to envision a life that goes beyond everything you feel currently restricts and limits yourself.

perseus baleful head

Edward Burne-Jones (1885) The Baleful Head

References

Brady, Bernadette. (1998). Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars. Weiser.

Leo New Moon

Anselm Kiefer midsummer

Midsummer Night (1980) Anselm Kiefer

The Leo New Moon on August 2 is as black as all new moons go, but the dark night sky will be bejeweled with more glimmering objects than normal as all five visible planets will be on display following the setting of the Sun.  Mercury is more briefly aglow at sunset while Venus sustains her brilliance through twilight, with Jupiter also shining above as Mars inches toward Saturn in the depth of each night.  This is also the pagan holiday time of Lughnasadh, one of the eight sabbats that in the Northern Hemisphere is our Mid-Summer, a traditional celebration of harvest and communal festivities.  There is a harvest to reap and share with others in the coming lunar month, and in the twilight hour when cobalt shadows nourish imaginative vision the visibility of all five planets likewise beckon visions of love and creativity.

Leo signifies the radiance of the Sun, the radiance of the heart that expresses an audacious glow in the face of the unknown future.  The Leo New Moon is separating from a trine with Saturn in Sagittarius and marks the return of Mars to the fiery sign of Sagittarius, with Venus co-present in Leo.  This New Moon is an opportune time to figure out what you want and then set your life in motion to go after it through heart-centered expression that unites mind, body, and soul.  Saturn continues to be square to the transiting lunar nodes and Neptune, and is slowing to a standstill as it will station direct on August 13.  As a result, Saturn is at the crossroads similar to Hekate, serving as the guardian of the threshold holding the wisdom of what needs to be both released and given birth to.  The creative actualization of the Leo New Moon needs us to access Saturn through being honest about our essential needs and taking the responsibility to seize the moment with flair and immediacy.  The emphasized element of fire in this New Moon is a torch held by Hekate to illuminate a karmic path forward, while disintegrating the fogginess of former illusions.

It is important to realize that there is absolutely nothing in the air element at this New Moon, and that in contrast there is a great deal of fire with the Sun, Moon, and Venus in Leo, Saturn and Mars in Sagittarius, and Uranus in Aries.  Fire signs are passionate, inspirational, and direct in ardor, and this is great as long as our relationships are aligned with similar goals and needs.  Fire signs are not as adept in patience and empathy, or being able to listen to not only the words but the emotions of others and communicate with compassion.  Since there is nothing transiting in air signs to help facilitate communication, it will be vital to focus on listening with active presence to the underlying message from others without taking personally the language form or undertones that trigger sensitivities.  This is even more the case considering that Mars is in range of a square to both Mercury (separating) and Venus (applying).

Magritte,_The_Palace_of_Memories,_Le_palais_des_souvenirs,_1939

The Palace of Memories (1939) by Rene Magritte

Uranus stationed retrograde in Aries a few days before the New Moon and so is saturating the lunation in shattering Uranian impulses and insights that bring liberating clarity.  Venus in Leo is separating from, but still in range of a trine with retrograde Uranus and so whatever the immediate impact was of Uranus stationing in trine to Venus has already been felt.  Oftentimes Uranus stationing can bring an unexpected shock or an upsetting event, yet the catharsis of released emotion and thought can break us free from a past repetitive pattern we realize was underlying the troubling issue.  As a result the Leo New Moon has an amplified charge of facilitating a fresh start in an area of life that had become stagnant or limiting.  Uranus in its early stages of slowly creeping backwards is potent for opening to unconscious forces as best we can, surrendering to the messages from dreams or the stillness of a moment that gives access to whatever is arising from within.  Uranus here can bring sudden revelations that feel more like remembering rather than striving to learn something new.

In recent years Uranus has been stationing retrograde toward the end of July, last year stationing retrograde simultaneously with Venus stationing retrograde.  In contrast, this time Uranus is stationing retrograde in trine to Venus increasing in light as an Evening Star.  Uranus stationing with so much in Leo surrounding it can spark playful rebelliousness and wild abandon, taking whatever opportunities present themselves for claiming the freedom to act from the heart without consideration of societal constructs and conditioning.  In the drama of life, the stage is set at this Leo New Moon to imbue your role in life with self-assured panache.  Uranus will be retrograde until December 29, 2016 when it will station direct at 20º33′ of Aries.  The astrological landscape will be completely different then, with Jupiter in Libra opposing Uranus, and Saturn in Sagittarius in trine to Uranus and sextile to Jupiter.  Thus the curtain lifts at the Leo New Moon to unveil the storylines that will coincide with these next five months of Uranus retrograde, and so there is no time like the present to courageously initiate the actions you want to take without reservation.

At the same time that Uranus stationed retrograde in the days leading up to the New Moon, Mercury at the end of Leo formed an exact last quarter square with Mars at the end of Scorpio.  The square between Mars and Mercury has been a pivotal theme of 2016, as the year began with Mercury forming a square at the beginning of Aquarius to Mars at the beginning of Scorpio.   In addition, because Mercury will be retrograde in September there will be two more squares between Mars and Mercury in coming months that could tie back to this time:  in September with Mercury retrograde in Virgo and Mars in Sagittarius, and in October with Mercury in Libra and Mars in Capricorn.  Mars and Mercury forming a square can correspond with intense arguments, conflicts or anger, yet the volatile nature of these planets are also intrinsic to forcing change.  In combination with the stationing of Uranus, the Leo New Moon follows significant catalysts for growth that may have felt uncomfortable but forced an issue needing to be revealed in order to create a necessary shift.

titan's goblet

The Titan’s Goblet (1833) Thomas Cole

The re-entrance of Mars into Sagittarius at the same time as the Leo New Moon seems to be one of those cosmic messages of a vital initiation into a new level of our journey.  Mars being in Sagittarius will start to make the movement of Mars moving forward again since being retrograde feel faster and like events in life are picking up again with everything set in motion.  Unlike the time period of March through May in which Mars entered Sagittarius only to then stand still and slowly move backwards into Scorpio, this time Mars is on a quest straight through the sign of the Centaur that leads to a conjunction with Saturn and the fixed star Antares at the end of August.  Bernadette Brady in her book on fixed stars said that Antares being a Royal Star “offers great success” but “also indicates that the person may well cause their own undoing,” stating that the essentiality of Antares “to generate success by going through a cleansing life-and-death experience can cause a person to seek this intensity even when it is not required” (p. 287).  Since Saturn is also involved in this triple conjunction, the trine of Saturn to the Leo New Moon is opportune for responsibly getting a handle on desires as the month begins in order to creatively manifest whatever is in the highest good rather than set things up for a fall into destruction.

At the 2016 Northwest Astrological Conference (NORWAC), Jason Holley gave an insightful talk about Leo entitled Leo and the Solar Field: Creative and Destructive Forces of Narcissism.   Holley illuminated both the creative potency and pitfalls associated with Leo through exploration of Herakles wrestling with the Nemean Lion and gaining its impenetrable skin to wear as armor in his following labors. Holley compared the wrestling of Herakles to wrestling with the archetypal field, as the Nemean Lion was an archetypal force that fell from the Moon at the bidding of Hera to destroy Herakles.  Holley also focused on the rejection felt by Herakles after returning to King Eurystheus to proudly show off the lion skin he was wearing, only to have Eurystheus become so frightened he hid in a subterranean wine jar.

Archetypes are forces that move through us, yet in the myth Herakles merged with the Nemean Lion through wearing its skin, akin to over identifying with an archetypal force in order to inflate the self.  Holley linked the narcissism that can come from Leo to prior rejection of the self in childhood or relationships, leading to the compensation of putting on the lion skin and becoming an archetype to generate a field of magnetism for others to orbit around and mirror.  Feelings of failure in the ordinary world lead to withdrawal into the extraordinary world in order to preserve a feeling of specialness through charismatic channeling of the archetype.  Yet the resulting disconnect with the ordinary brings relational isolation, as becoming a performer adored by an audience also means people are not necessarily connecting with the real person underneath the persona.  Holley said while this can be a soul saving gesture in terms of protecting a sense of specialness, the act of making oneself into a performer possessed by an archetype can lead to pressure to perform and no identity outside of achieving ambitions and acclaim.

One of the antidotes for destructive narcissism Holley brought up is the need for relational mediation, in which the relational field created with another helps step the archetypal force down into metabolizable parts so that both one’s specialness and ordinariness are embraced, and the individual can feel gifted while also an interdependent part of the group, a star amongst a vast field of stars.  This is an important point that can be further connected to the month ahead that also features Mars and Saturn coming together in Sagittarius in addition to the Sun in Leo and Uranus in Aries.  Finding and valuing the relationships in which both our ordinary and extraordinary sides are accepted will help us embrace being ordinary, instead of becoming so upset or impatient that we are not achieving our extraordinary ambitions that we sabotage or neglect important areas of our mundane reality and responsibilities.

Fire by Kircher

Diagram showing the interconnectedness of fire within the earth by Athanasius Kircher from Mundus Subterraneus

Mercury will play the role of mediator with great aplomb in the coming lunar month, as the planet of Hermes has returned to Virgo, both its home and exaltation.  Because Mercury will station retrograde at the end of August, Mercury will continue to be in Virgo through October 7, an excessively long time for Mercury to inhabit one sign.  Currently Mercury is both dignified and increasing in light as an Evening Star, a herald of the twilight hour who can help reflect upon and digest the essential learning of each day’s experience.  Mercury has also been making pivotal aspects by transit, having moved from conjoining Venus to being square to Mars in the recent past, and in the week following the New Moon will move forward to engage the square between Saturn and Neptune.  Mercury opposite to Neptune and in a superior square to Saturn will help clarify any disorientation that has been occurring in sync with the ongoing square between Saturn and Neptune.  As Mercury will then cross over the North Node of the Moon, Mercury is not only mediating but guiding awareness toward new opportunities for growth.

Returning to Jason Holley’s talk Leo and the Solar Field:  Creative and Destructive Forces of Narcissism, Holley made a brilliant point about Virgo and Mercury rooted in the concept of the natural zodiac utilized in Evolutionary Astrology.  Holley stated that when there has been too much narcissistic Leo identification with archetypal forces, then the Virgo Mercury role will become overly perfectionist due to the pressure of needing to perform at a high level, feeling both stress and inner judgment in relation to achieving ambitions.  Furthermore, just as Herakles performed his labors as an act of atonement so can Virgo Mercury succumb to overworking from a place of guilt more so than intrinsic desire.  In contrast, if the mediation of Virgo Mercury can help bring down the narcissism of Leo to being special while also grounded, then the Virgo Mercury can have genuine humility (instead of self punishing humility) and the sort of magical attention to detail and the moment that imbibes the mundane with all of the enchanting Leo magnetism and wonder.

wands06

6 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Leo 2 Decan

The New Moon falls in the second face of Leo associated with the 6 of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith, in which we see a victorious champion riding a triumphant steed and hailed by a wreath of laurel and an adoring crowd.  Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Crown of Laurels” to this face, analyzing the second decan of Leo as holding the triumph of great acts performed by those who have created an authentic persona and ego-structure through which to project their spirit.  This is fitting as Jupiter rules the second face of Leo.  Coppock emphasized that the victory signified by this face “comes through authenticity, not the perfection of character or moral virtue,” and that it is “the temptations of selfishness and cruelty which stain the triumphal nature of this decan, for nothing tests the character so much as victory” (p. 128).  While Coppock wrote that few can rejoice in the light of a lavishly fed ego without becoming blinded, he concluded that the potential of the decan necessitates the alchemy of mediating an authentic connection between the persona one projects into life and the spirit fire within.

Jupiter in Virgo at the time of the New Moon is within a degree of where it stationed retrograde in January 2016, and as it has been moving away from its conjunction with the North Node of the Moon and its square with Saturn, it is applying toward an opposition with Chiron and a quincunx with Uranus.  There is an essential adjustment to be made in tandem with Jupiter to fully engage with life in all of its mundane details, projecting soulful spirit into the world through our heart-centered essence instead of projecting everything into a relationship or other external dependencies.  The bold, passionate immediacy of Leo is a thing of beauty, paraphrasing John Keats, that is a joy of increasing loveliness forever.  Find this place of joy within at this fiery Leo New Moon and share its love and beauty with life.

References

Brady, Bernadette. (1998). Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars. Weiser.

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.

Synchrony of Mars and Saturn

L'Enigme_de_Gustave_Doré

L’Enigme (1870) by Gustave Dore

L’Enigme by Gustave Dore is a famous representation of profound despair over the destruction wrought by humanity, an apocalyptic atmosphere brought on by the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.  Dore has been said to have been inspired by the Victor Hugo verse, “What a spectacle! Thus dies everything that man creates! A past such as this is a deep abyss for the soul!”  When the war in 1870 between France and Prussia began, there was an opposition between Mars in Gemini and Saturn in Sagittarius.  In 2016 we have been experiencing an extended period of time heavily influenced by Mars and Saturn that has coincided with numerous collective events inducing fear and terror.

Every night in recent months  we have been able to watch the red planet Mars aglow in a triangular formation with Saturn and the fixed star Antares.  Ever since Mars stationed retrograde in mid-April at nine degrees of Sagittarius conjoining the fixed star Antares, with Saturn co-present at sixteen degrees of Sagittarius, Mars has been destined to return to Sagittarius in August 2016 and come into conjunction with both Saturn and Antares.  Mars and Saturn will exactly conjoin on August 24 at ten degrees of Sagittarius, but for most of August and September they will be co-present in Sagittarius and especially close between the middle of August and beginning of September.  What has made this period of Mars and Saturn even more difficult is the simultaneous square formed between Neptune in Pisces and Saturn, a square that will become activated to new levels in August when Mars joins with Saturn in tension to Neptune.

Mars and Saturn are categorized as malefic planets in traditional astrology because they are said to cause trouble and signify difficult experiences.  Yet, it is also not true that Mars and Saturn always signify negative experiences by transit, no more than do the benefic planets Venus and Jupiter always signify positive experiences by transit.  The crucial aspect is what condition these planets find themselves in the natal chart when analyzing one’s individual experience.  There are also of course positive ways to work with both Saturn and Mars.

An excellent source for the origins of these views on Mars and Saturn is Vettius Valens, a second century Hellenistic astrologer from modern day Turkey who traveled extensively, including through Egypt, in search of astrological knowledge.  A working astrologer, Valens in his Anthologies gave lists for the significations of Saturn and Mars which reveal their malefic nature.  For Saturn, Valens noted it is the “Star of Nemesis” and included such descriptions as malignant, petty, self-deprecating, solitary, deceitful, strict, miserable, humblings, sluggishness, obstacles and subversions in business, griefs, tears, and bereavement, yet also “puts into one’s hands great ranks and distinguished positions.”  For Mars, Valens wrote it “controls the hard and abrupt” and gave descriptions including force, wars, violence, banishment, exile, lies, vain hopes, looting, anger, fighting, lawsuits, wandering, quarrels, yet also both love affairs and marriages, craftwork, masonry, campaigns and leadership, and actions involving fire or iron.

Across time in astrology there has been developed ways of working with Mars and Saturn that focus on positive outcomes that can come from their union, such as welding the passionate, burning energy of Mars to the disciplined, determined focus of Saturn.  Yet even when put into positive terminology, Mars and Saturn correlate with overcoming challenges, working hard, and persisting with commitment rather than anything to do with luxuriating in soft comforts of pleasure.  And indeed, Mars and Saturn can correlate with incredibly difficult, traumatic situations of loss and suffering that lay souls bare.  In combination with the square between Neptune and Saturn, the difficult experiences of this time can provoke profound disillusionment and despair.  In such circumstances in which external sources of stability are shaken, one must turn within in order to nurture one’s ability to find meaning and security or risk falling into despondency.  In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the brooding prince suffering from the murder of his father famously gave the following speech that voices disenchantment with the world of humanity:

“I have of late, -but wherefore I know not,- lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and, indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire,- why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving, how express and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor woman neither . . . “

Though Hamlet has been interpreted as struggling with inaction in his story, and Saturn can be a constrictive influence on Mars, typically Mars and Saturn correspond with the types of challenges that necessitate action in order to stabilize or survive.  Interestingly, in late September 1604 Shakespeare would have experienced a transit of Mars conjoining Saturn at ten degrees of Sagittarius- this would have been a couple of years after Hamlet had been written and performed, and may have coincided with his writing of Othello which was performed in November 1604.

Unlike Hamlet in the above quote, recent experiences may have brought one to find greater sustenance in the radiance of the natural world as mediation for personal difficulties, or solace in relationships involving deep, loyal bonds- yet disillusionment and catharsis regarding past desires or beliefs is likely.  The influence of Neptune in square to Saturn during this period of Mars-Saturn challenges was described brilliantly by Richard Tarnas in his essay The Ideal and the Real about hard aspects between Saturn and Neptune:  archetypes which bring up issues of “matter versus spirit, the concretely empirical and literal versus the imaginative and the ideal, the finite and temporal versus the infinite and eternal.”  Analyzing the work of William Blake, Oscar Wilde, and James Hillman (individuals who were all born with Saturn and Neptune in hard aspect), Tarnas wrote “in all three of these individuals, one can also recognize a definite impulse towards deconstructive skepticism, a passion to strip away illusions and hypocrisies, as well as emphatically critical attitudes toward conventional philosophical and religious beliefs expressed in work after work.”  As Hamlet remarked to his good friend Horatio, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Adding Mars into the mix of the square between Saturn and Neptune influences the revelation of illusions and hypocrisies that will come about in August and September to involve archetypal themes of Mars such as strife, separation, conflict, and burning passions.  Neptune and Saturn will form their third and final exact square in this series on 10 September 2016 at ten degrees of Sagittarius and Pisces, with Mars occupying twenty degrees of Sagittarius at that time.  Previously, when Saturn and Neptune formed a square on 17 June 2016, Mars was retrograde in Scorpio.  At the first square between Saturn and Neptune on 26 November 2015 at seven degrees of Pisces and Sagittarius, Mars was at eight degrees of Libra and so forming a sextile to Saturn but not creating a catalytic influence as it will in the month ahead.

Bonatti-Saturn

from Guido Bonatti’s Decem Tractatus Astronomiae (1491)

This year’s conjunction between Mars and Saturn stands out for a few reasons:  the extended period of time due to Mars retrograde that Saturn and Mars engage with one another, the square with Neptune in Pisces, and the additional conjunction of Mars and Saturn with the fixed star Antares. Antares is named for being the “rival of Mars” because it is a giant binary star that glows red in our night sky. Considered to be the heart of the Scorpion constellation, Antares is one of the four ancient royal stars of Persia that were utilized in the past by sky watchers to anchor the seasons, with Antares holding down the season of Fall.  Ptolemy linked Antares with Mars and Jupiter, Vivian Robson portrayed Antares as destructive and obstinate, and while Reinhold Ebertin deduced Antares can give mental sharpness and courage, if combined with Mars Ebertin believed the bravery of Antares would become reckless and dangerous.  There is a long tradition of warning about the dangers of hubris combined with headstrong martial force in connection to Antares, yet the clearly forceful and determined correspondences of Antares could also be put to thoughtful use.

The current presidential election in the United States of America fits well with these traditional themes of Mars, Saturn, and Antares as the two candidates are despised by the majority of the population in part for their hubris, dishonesty, and corruption.  It is a unique election in which neither candidate is seen as being likable, and as a result both campaigns will likely be even more aggressive in attacks against one another than normal.  Furthermore, the recent Republican Convention was dominated by chaos and conflict, with political rival Ted Cruz becoming booed off stage for refusing to endorse Donald Trump, and numerous speakers calling for opponent Hilary Clinton to be locked up in prison, Ben Carson going as far as to link her with Lucifer. Then, there was the acceptance speech given by Donald Trump that not only was the longest in recorded convention history but also had the unique presentation of having almost every word shouted with anger.  Continuing the trend of disastrous conflict, as the Democratic Convention prepared to open a political scandal erupted confirming that the Democratic National Committee had been conspiring against the candidacy of Bernie Sanders during the primary elections.

In Europe and the Middle East, the refugee crisis has been a longstanding issue that links more with the timing of the square between Saturn and Neptune than the influence of Mars and Saturn.  However, the use of fear over refugees helped fuel the shocking Brexit vote in which the United Kingdom separated from the European Union, a Mars shockwave of strife that will have far reaching influence and now needs to be dealt with in Saturn-like fashion.  There has also been a string of mass murders that have caused terror in recent months in both the United States and Europe, as well as increases in violence in the wars that were already waging.  In addition, the protests by Black Lives Matter and other activists in the United States against the killing of African Americans by law enforcement have risen to amplified levels of conflict in the past month following the killing of law enforcement officers by lone renegade gunmen.  These are just some of the collective conflicts that will be feeding into the challenges being worked out in correspondence with the conjunction between Mars, Saturn, and Antares in the next month.

Bonatti-Mars

From Guido Bonatti’s Decem Tractatus Astronomiae (1491) 

Typically when Mars and Saturn conjoin it is a short-term transit.  Mars conjoined Saturn in Sagittarius the last time in February 1986 at nine degrees, and by the end of the following March the red planet had already left Sagittarius.  The last time there was extended interplay between Mars and Saturn was in 1984, when Mars conjoined Saturn in Scorpio in February 1984 at seventeen degrees.  In April 1984, Mars stationed retrograde at the end of Scorpio and moved back to come very close to conjoining Saturn again in June 1984 when it stationed direct at 12 degrees with Saturn retrograde at 11 degrees.  During this time period in 1984 there were numerous collective conflicts such as Iran accusing Iraq of using chemical weapons in their war.  It was also the period of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, and it was at this time that the Soviet Union announced it would boycott the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles, California.

Athletics and other arenas of competition will be appropriate outlets to unleash the force of Mars and Saturn, and so the 2016 Summer Olympics that will occur during the conjunction of Mars and Saturn will no doubt feature incredible drama.    In one’s personal life during August as Mars and Saturn come into conjunction, it will be an opportune time to diligently prepare and work hard.  It will be enlivening to have a meaningful personal project to invest energy into, as well as maintain physical exercise and spiritual practices that release stress and foster balance.  While Mars and Saturn can coincide with conflicts and difficulties, they are also vital catalyzers in the creation of great works, the building of supportive life structures, and the taking of ambitious initiative.  As Saturn can have a restrictive influence on Mars, their union in Sagittarius (home of Jupiter) will reveal in personal experience how structure and containment can lead to expansion of wisdom and creativity in the end.

bookred.54

Image 54 by Carl Jung from The Red Book

Currently Mars is finishing its pass through the sign of Scorpio that has dominated 2016 so far, as Mars will re-enter Sagittarius on 2 August 2016.  Mars entered Scorpio on 3 January 2016 where it remained until March 5 when Mars entered Sagittarius.  Mars re-entered Scorpio on 27 May 2016 while retrograde where it has remained since, meaning that for the vast majority of the year so far Mars has been in Scorpio.  Mars dug up deep material in need of purging while retrograde in Scorpio, and although Mars stationed direct in Scorpio on June 29, the slow forward momentum of Mars through Scorpio has continued to be cathartic.  The transit of Mars through Scorpio is additionally karmic due to the previous pass of Saturn through Scorpio from 6 October 2012 until 23 December 2014, and then again from June 14 until September 17, 2015.  In the third decan of Scorpio where Mars has moved backward and forward in the past few months, Saturn in Scorpio previously transited from 29 December 2013 through 12 May 2014, 26 September through 23 December 2014, and from 14 June through 17 September 2015.  The karma of events that occurred during these previous transits of Saturn through the third face of Scorpio likely have resurfaced to be processed and dealt with during the retrograde and stationing direct of Mars in the past couple of months.

From a traditional astrological standpoint, Mars in Scorpio and Saturn in Sagittarius have not been able to see each other by aspect during this time since the end of May, and so through their aversion have been operating independently of one another.  Yet since Mars originally stationed retrograde in range of a very wide conjunction to Saturn, there is a way in which they have remained bound, especially visibly in the night sky.  Scorpio is the home of Mars and yet Mars has been moving incredibly slow, leading to the past few months being potent in frustrating ways that have required patience.  As Mars moved retrograde in Scorpio it kept peeling and then peeling even further deeper into the core of internal desires and complexes, bringing up agonizing experiences for those dealing with grief and loss, and shaking the foundations of identity for others.  As Mars stood still and began moving direct again, the pain for many continued without the old desires and attachments fully burning off, or the new developing presence embodied.  Now as Mars nears the end of its pass through Scorpio, I have been getting the sense that those who have been engaged actively with internal work will begin to feel a palpable shift in releasing the past and embracing the new.

Once Mars re-enters Sagittarius in August, the combined influence of Mars and Saturn working together will become more apparent.  The last time that Mars and Saturn conjoined was in August 2014 in the sign of Scorpio, a month that was notable for upsetting events.  This was the period of ISIL capturing cities while creating terror in global media, and the launching of air strikes by the USA in response.  It was also the time of the suicide of Robin Williams, an event that evoked widespread collective mourning.  Important with regard to recent current events in the USA, the shooting of Michael Brown on 9 August 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement and led to widespread protests.  Again, despite distressing collective events on a personal level it is entirely possible that productive actions and developments can occur as Mars and Saturn come together this next month in August.  One thing I have noticed in my work is that projects initiated during a conjunction between Mars and Saturn can be long lasting and have tremendous staying power, but often are very slow to develop and may not manifest desired results until much later.

Finally, it is worth noting that during the calamitous square between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries that has dominated astrology since 2011, Pluto has been in the home of Saturn and Uranus has been in the home of Mars.  It has been so easy to become caught up in the dynamics between Pluto and Uranus and their wrecking ball impact, we can forget that both have been under the influence of Mars and Saturn the entire time. Recently there has been a quincunx formed between Uranus with Mars as it stationed direct that added to the atmosphere of frustration (the quincunx was most exact from mid June through mid July).  Issues that have come up with the quincunx between Uranus and Mars will shift dramatically once Mars enters Sagittarius and both Saturn and Mars will be in a sign that forms a trine to Aries where Uranus is residing.  Ideally, out of the difficulties corresponding with Mars and Saturn will arise some liberation from past restraints via Uranus.  Mars will form a trine with Uranus in mid September.

14 Temperance (Art)

XIV Art by Lady Frieda Harris

The XIV Art arcanum in tarot, traditionally known as Temperance, is associated with the alchemical mixture of Fire and Water and the astrological sign of Sagittarius. My brilliant friend  Pamela Coeur Norris who is an ingenious practitioner of tarot, recently made a comment on my Full Moon in Capricorn article on social media that the XIV Art card is the arcanum that truly addresses the intent to blend the powers of Fire and Water, in addition to being associated with Sagittarius.  I asked her if she would share any insights she has about XIV Art in relation to Mars finishing up its time in Scorpio in order to enter Sagittarius and a union with Saturn.  I’ve paraphrased her response in the following paragraph, with a minor inclusion of my own.

The Alchemist, XIV, is the mediator between XIII Death (Scorpio ruled by Mars) and XV Devil (Capricorn ruled by Saturn). This is a tumultuous meeting, and an arbitrator might be necessary. Sagittarius is the perfect spot—particularly since Jupiter’s “not home” and is instead in the mediating, Mercurial sign of Virgo.  Who will dominate this meeting? Mars certainly has the fire power, yet Saturn has the staying power, and most likely the last word. The Alchemist must ascertain just how much Martian gunpowder to load into the Saturnian cannon. We must take into account that Mars is XVI Tower energy—the eye of Shiva (let’s destroy the world) and Saturn is XXI Universe energy—Karma king (let’s use our fire wisely to burn off only whats dead and complete).  Sagittarius is the liberator here, the focus that creates the path for Mars and Saturn to aim toward freedom.  When Mars and Saturn work together in the right measure we can let go of our drama and loosen the bondages of attachment.

The overt alchemical image of XIV Art in the Thoth deck is a modification of the traditional XIV Temperance card that also involves alchemical imagery and concepts.  As the etymology of the word Temperance involves roots of “restraint” and “moderation,” there is a further compelling link with the fact that Saturn can have a restraining, moderating impact upon Mars.  On a psychological level, this can relate to being accountable and responsible, with Saturn bringing integrity to the will-force of Mars in Sagittarius, a sign comfortable with living from an ethical philosophy.  In alchemy, the work we could link to the XIV Temperance arcanum is about freeing the being of Light contained within our earthy, fleshy, incarnate form.  This is why Carl Jung found resonance between the symbols of alchemy with his concept of individuation and the symbols produced by those he helped individuate.  Even within surrounding external conflicts, it is possible to use the structure of Saturn to seal oneself from outside toxicity, containing and guiding the volatile Mars to bring about essential growth that will ultimately have a positive impact in the greater collective.

Temperance arcanum

XIV Temperance by Pamela Colman smith

 

References

Tarnas, Richard. (2009). The Ideal and the Real: Saturn-Neptune. Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology. Vol. 1, No. 1.

Valens, Vettius.   Anthologies, Book One.  Translated by Mark Riley.

Capricorn Full Moon

Edward Steichen-primary-sunflower

The Sunflower (1920) by Edward Steichen

Full Moon in Capricorn

The Full Moon on July 19 being in Capricorn binds the lunation with Saturn.  Saturn rewards those who take responsibility for everything occurring and honors those who are accountable.  Saturn calls us to put in work and persevere through dark times, knowing that the suffering of today will become the soil from which future fulfillment will flower.  As current events have been unraveling in chaotic waves since the Cancer New Moon on July 4, it is worth paying attention to how the current lunation cycle is intimately bound with the first quarter square between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries.  While the New Moon on July 4 was opposite Pluto, the Full Moon on July 19 is in square to Uranus.  In between the longstanding issue in the USA of police officers killing African Americans exploded with the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile, followed by the killing of law enforcement officers and heated debate.  As the Moon continued to wax brighter as the Sun approached a square with Uranus, the traumatic terror of Nice, France was followed swiftly by an attempted coup in Turkey, a land that for ages has stood at the intersection of crusading conflicts among world powers.  With collective events spinning so wildly out of control, the Full Moon in Capricorn is a call to claim full responsibility for your own thought forms and your every action that impacts the world. On a personal level, issues have arisen to face that stem from the sweeping changes that came with the square between Uranus and Pluto that was most exact between 2011 and 2015.

The square between Uranus and the Full Moon illuminates not only the grief and pain felt over the losses and tragedies of the past,  but where in one’s life greater diligence is needed to build support to foster stability and security for oneself and others.  Many will become mobilized to organize direct action to increase awareness of personal and collective causes,  whereas others will find it necessary to attend to more personal wounds that need mending before worldly action can be taken successfully.  With Mars in Scorpio slowly beginning to generate forward momentum and also strongly aspected by the Full Moon, taking small steps that are saturated in mindful intent is favored more so than launching quickly into big plans that are truly in need of further refinement.  When dealing with heavy feelings or grief, like Psyche in her story of Eros all we can do is embrace the soul of our surroundings for sustenance and move forward on our journey step by step with full presence.  By claiming the inner integrity of acting from authentic desires that are not being corrupted by external influences, we begin to build support while also discovering elements of our environment that will bolster strength.

With numerous collective issues reaching a critical boiling point, there is a need for open communication and listening to other perspectives.  Yet the element missing from the Capricorn Full Moon is the Air element (with nothing significant in Air signs except Vesta and the true, oscillating position of Black Moon Lilith), and so the Full Moon does not foster mediation through objectifying issues or using clear communication to increase awareness.  There will be a flooding of emotions and heat from enflamed passions, but this Full Moon supports earthy solutions that come from self-absorbed perspectives.  Steam will be rising from the interplay of so much Fire and Water, and so there is potential for compassionately feeling the emotions and experiences of others to gain understanding.  Extra effort will need to be made at this Full Moon for greater clarity in communicating and listening.  The Full Moon being in the home of Saturn while in square to Uranus is a catalyst for moving beyond personal hangups to taking responsibility for one’s place within the global collective.  This includes the places we hold privileges as well as the places we face oppression and the way we respond.  It is also imperative to vigilantly witness attempts by those entrenched in power to take advantage of chaotic events to further increase their own interests out of greed.

klee temple of thither

Paul Klee (1922) Mural from the Temple of Longing

Saturn retrograde in Sagittarius rules the Full Moon while being in square to both the transiting lunar nodes as well as Neptune in Pisces.  In fact, the Full Moon is fairly close to the midpoint between the Saturn and Neptune square.  The slow retrograde pull of Saturn brings gravity to the act of fully being responsible for one’s personal karma and past actions.  Saturn demands this accountability in order to create healthy relationships in the present and to be able to effectively impact the collective.  This is not a time to escape into privileged isolation, but to find the areas of the world in which you can take direct action to help others.  Yet,  we must at the same time attend to our own needs while using the boundaries of Saturn to seal one’s inner vessel from toxic contamination.  Not easy work, but Saturn in square to Neptune and the lunar nodes has nothing to do with ease.

The Full Moon occurs in Capricorn at the same degree that Mars is exalted, and Mars in Scorpio also forms a sextile with the Full Moon.  In addition, Mars in Scorpio is in a Grand Water Trine with Chiron in Pisces and the Sun in Cancer.  While Mars has at least finally gotten beyond the degree it stationed direct at, it is still moving very slowly on its destined path of aligning again with Saturn and the fixed star Antares in August.  The exaltation of Mars in Capricorn, binding the force of Mars with the discipline of Saturn, is the magical access point to these aspects.  Mars in Scorpio is dredging up deep cathartic material that can be so overwhelmingly painful that those out of balance can become overcome by hateful anger and violence.  To make use of these powerful aspects surrounding Mars, there is a need to accept the pain of loss and transmute the voracious emotions through tears and sweat, through appropriate outlets such as exercise and creative action.  There is so much Fire and Water interacting in this Full Moon that healing can come from going into feelings intensely in order to release them into transfigured form, similar to the alchemical steam that arises from water catalyzed by fire into air.

Rodin Sphinx

Figure of a Woman “The Sphinx” by Auguste Rodin

Fittingly, Venus is the glamorous star of the Full Moon, deftly supported by her co-star Mercury in order to amplify her dramatic and comedic effect.  Those looking for a positive omen need only gaze at the western horizon during twilight, as both Venus and Mercury have finally emerged as Evening Stars.  We have not been able to see Venus since April when she was a Morning Star, and we have not been able to see her as an Evening Star since last August 2015 when Venus was retrograde in Leo.  Venus in Leo conjoining Mercury in Leo as they have emerged from under the beams of the Sun together is a burning symbol of hope for living from deeper levels of embodied passion.

Mercury is separating from a trine with Saturn at the time of the Full Moon, while Venus is applying closely to a trine with Saturn.  On the one hand, the fire from Venus and Mercury could be used for greed and avarice by those consumed with their own narcissistic self-interest.  On the other hand, the radiance of Venus and Mercury beautifying twilight is an apt symbol for the potential available to replenish our personal system and structures with more creativity, harmony, joy, and pleasure.  The trine from Venus and Mercury to Saturn is a powerful aspect for making strong commitments.  There is also a quincunx formed between Venus and Mercury with the Neptune conjunction to the South Node of the Moon in Pisces, suggesting old illusions and beliefs could be getting in the way of opening to the creative actualization of Mercury and Venus joined together in Leo.  Being alone in solitude out of romantic partnership is not something to curse for missing out on enjoying this aspect with a lover, but instead a situation to seize for the individuating flowering that becomes available when out of relationship in a place to know oneself more deeply.

pents04

4 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

Capricorn 3 Dean

The third face of Capricorn is associated with the Four of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  In the image we see a crowned figure seated on a throne that places him above two Pentacles placed under each of his feet, as well as below a Pentacle placed on top of his crown.  The fourth Pentacle is cradled at heart level, with the arms wrapped around the Pentacle in a manner suggesting the potential to spin the Pentacle like a Wheel of Fortune.  While this could be interpreted as being in flow with abundance, the Pentacle also appears to be tightly gripped suggesting an attitude of needing to control or be possessive of material resources.  The figure towers in the foreground, overshadowing castles and towers in the background, suggesting someone in charge of their surroundings, perhaps at the expense of being a co-participant who is fully aware of their environment outside of how it impacts their goals.  The Four of Pentacles signifies taking control and structuring boundaries so as to bring a sense of greater security within the chaotic world, including gaining greater material security.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Throne” to the third face of Capricorn, a fitting image given that the Sun rules the decan.  Coppock interpreted this face of Capricorn as being about governing and administering from a seat of power, “the struggle for control between an individual and their world” and “the struggle to attain great position in the created world” (p. 221-222).  Coppock cautioned that hubris can tempt those grasping for power in this face, and that each step toward achieving ambition requires tantamount levels of responsibility to meet the obligations found in the acquired position of power.  If not, Coppock warned that their accumulated material wealth “may end up crushing them,” and the glittering palace could become instead a restrictive prison.

Since the Sun rules the third decan of Capricorn, there is added emphasis to the square between the Sun and Uranus as well as the trine between the Sun, Mars, and Chiron.   While Venus and Mercury are already united in the home of the Sun, in the days following the Full Moon the Sun will join Venus and Mercury in Leo.  As a result, in the waning phase of this lunar cycle the astrological atmosphere will shift toward an emphasis on Fire and spirited action and expression, as Mars completes its final pass through the tumultuous waters of Scorpio.  There is no doubt that the numerous conflicts and crises circulating in the collective will continue to intensify, yet in the sphere one invests their inner energy into with responsible, dedicated effort there will be greater astrological support to bring matters into manifestation.

We play with dark forces that cannot be captured with the names we give them, like children playing with fire, and it seems for a moment as if all energy had rested dormant in all objects until now, until we arrived to apply it to our fleeting life and its requirements.  But, again and again throughout millennia, those forces shake off their names and rise like an oppressed class against their little masters, or not even against them- they simply rise and the various cultures slide off the shoulders of the earth, which is once again great and expansive and alone with its oceans, trees, and stars.

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters on Life translated by Ulrich Baer

 

References

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.

 

Cancer New Moon

Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Der_Mönch_am_Meer_-_Google_Art_Project

Caspar David Friedrich (1810) The Monk by the Sea

New Moon in Cancer

Memories envelope the New Moon in Cancer on 4 July 2016, memories which nourish as well as memories which torment with the pang of loss.  The Moon is home in Cancer, and the blackness of the New Moon lacking solar light signifies the pure, raw emotions of the lunar realm.  The Moon’s constant waxing and waning, reflecting and holding the light of the Sun, illustrates why we associate Cancer and the Moon with the ebb and flow of our moods and the ever present influence of our memories.  We hold memories of past loves and peak emotions in Cancer and the Moon, as well as remembrances of family, cultural, and ancestral origins.  While memories bring sustenance and source our flights of imaginative vision, the reminiscences of our most blissful times can also become torturous in the pain of losing their source.  Attachments to memory can overburden us when grieving what we have lost, and can also be sources of disruptive illusions in those attached to sentimental nostalgia rather than the arising change of the moment.  In collective events there has been a Nationalistic, xenophobic, homophobic, and bigoted monstrosity raging that has its roots in a nostalgia for cultural illusions of the past. The positive message found in the Cancer New Moon is resolution through reconciling the past with the present, and in the stillness of a reflective moment experiencing the flowering of grace.

The New Moon in Cancer brings a cathartic release through its opposition to Pluto.   Instead of a soft and supple lunar goddess we will feel more in the protective presence of a hard and skeletal Santa Muerte.  Pluto has been associated with Shiva and his fierce destructive aspects by many astrologers, as the experience of a hard aspect from Pluto can not only feel like a complete destruction of one’s personality, but also be experienced through devastating losses of structures and relationships we had been attached to.  When we stop resisting, denying, or being overly defensive,  allowing our ego to be destroyed in the quakes of Pluto, in the resulting dismemberment we are given the opportunity to reassemble ourselves into a more authentic presence, remembering our essentiality through the dismembering.

Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche associated Pluto with Dionysus because it shatters and brings forth new forms in transit, and dismemberment also circulates through the stories involving Dionysus.  James Hillman in Mythic Figures wrote that the dismemberment of Dionysus is “necessary for awakening the consciousness of the body,” because the loss of central control resurrects the light of each separate organ making up the whole.  Hillman saw this alchemical dismemberment as an awareness that can cut through the “habitual ways we have ‘grown up’ and ‘grown together,’” by making us aware of the light found within each distinct part of our body- so it is not really a process, and “not a movement from integration to dis-integration to re-integration.”  It is more of a loosening that “results in the activation of the psychic life of the organs.”  Similarly, within the chaos of recent collective events that has caused fear and destruction in multitudes, the Cancer New Moon brings an opportunity to reawaken from within, impacting the external world through healing and vivifying internal fractures.

JMWTurner_Sunrise_with_Sea_Monsters

J.M.W. Turner (1844) Sunrise with Sea Monsters

Modern astrology associates Cancer with mothers, the womb, and birth, and in ancient astrology Cancer was noted as the rising sign and first house of the thema mundi, the birth of the universe.  The New Moon occurs in the second decan of Cancer, and Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces noted that the fragmentary Hellenistic text 36 Airs ascribed the figure of Heracles to this decan, the legendary hero who was tormented from birth by his stepmother Hera.  My good friend Jason Holley gave a brilliant talk linking Cancer and the Moon with Heracles at the recent Northwest Astrological Conference (NORWAC) of 2016.  In the Greek myth connected with the constellation of Cancer, a crab was sent by Hera to attack Heracles as he was engaged in battle with the Hydra.  After the armored crustacean emerged from the watery depths and charged, sideways, toward Heracles as its claws protruded into the ankles of the hero, Heracles obliterated the crab with his foot.  From the shattering of the crab, Hera thus placed it into the sky as a constellation rewarding its service to her.

In his talk “Exquisite Attunement: the Moon and Empathy,” Jason Holley described lunar material as being emotional openings to the fertile void, a realm of memories that is nonlinear, somatic, and implicitly pulls things into its own rhythm.  Hera’s wrath stems from her being betrayed and abandoned, similar to a devaluing of the lunar realm that sees the fertile void as valueless.  Hera nurtured the Hydra to destroy Heracles, and the Nemean Lion has been said to have fallen from the Moon, sprung from Selene and brought forth at the bidding of Hera.  Holley interpreted Hera’s desire to attack Heracles as an undermining of the solar self that seeks to bring the self back down into the unconscious and the emotional body.  The crab emerging from the lake has come ashore from the undifferentiated unconscious, yet as Heracles shows is vulnerable to attack.  Holley noted that when our internal world lacks a sense of structure and order it leads to reliance on external sources for a sense of stability and safety.  If one’s capacity to contain emotional experience internally is not developed, it will be delegated to others rather than claimed from one’s own sense of inner authority.

The Cancer New Moon is fruitful in terms of regaining inner security and authority following a period of loss and disillusionment that has caused deep questioning of one’s value and how it is accepted and nurtured by others.  The New Moon is separating from a trine with Neptune and therefore pulling away from the square between Saturn and Neptune, applying toward harmonious aspects with its own lunar nodes.  Following its opposition to Pluto, the waning Moon will form an exact sextile with Jupiter and conjunction with Venus.  The embrace of loved ones will be a balm that calms, but the true potency of this New Moon is found through genuine self love and discovering security that is not dependent upon approval or admiration from others.

georgia black abstraction

Georgia O’Keefe (1927) Black Abstraction

The New Moon is also notable for intention setting related to all things Mars, as Mars is finally direct in Scorpio and beginning to slowly generate momentum in the black of the Moon. The opposition between Pluto and the New Moon reinforces the slow metamorphic feeling, akin to the tension of a butterfly wing struggling against the confines of the releasing chrysalis.  Mars moving forward again in the final decan of Scorpio is a slow inferno burning off desires needed to be laid to rest, a funeral pyre releasing and transfiguring what has passed away.

Those who have felt confused or thwarted in action during the Mars retrograde, or hung up on past pain that continued to poison rather than purify, will now be able to feel greater capacity to navigate into favorable currents of change and forward momentum.  Laying desires to rest is never easy, and when dealing with heartbreak or mourning the pain may never be fully released. With Mars beginning to move direct again, however, there is powerful support to commit to a path and the practical actions and steps in need of the zealous force of Mars.  The quincunx from Uranus and trine to Chiron are further indications of the depth of material being purged and purified in the forward crawl of Mars.

klee rhine at duisburg

Paul Klee (1937) The Rhine at Duisburg

my way is in the sand flowing
between the shingle and the dune
the summer rain rains on my life
on me my life harrying fleeing
to its beginning to its end

my peace is there in the receding mist
when I may cease from treading these long shifting
thresholds
and live the space of a door
that opens and shuts

— Samuel Beckett

Mercury is applying to a conjunction with the New Moon, approaching its superior conjunction with the Sun in which it is on the far side of the Sun in orbit from Earth.  Mercury reaches its Superior Conjunction a couple days after the New Moon on July 6, where Mercury rules from the throne at the heart of the Sun and is strengthened in all of its significations.  At the time of the New Moon, Mercury is combust meaning it is undergoing a period of purification and regeneration in the flames of the Sun.  With Mercury in Cancer it is possible moods, memories, emotions, or fears circulating could overwhelm capacity to maintain centered focus, especially within a tumultuous environment of chaotic collective events stirring up hysteria.

Although this phase of Mercury can feel overwhelming,  the surrounding potent aspects to Mercury suggest epiphanies can be unveiled.  The Mercurial atmosphere will contain moments to soak within the elements of our past whose memories will nourish us going forward, while simultaneously opening to a regenerated presence. Insights into one’s family or ancestral karma and influences can be found, as well as greater awareness of relational patterns and emotional dynamics we have been constellating.  As a result, the New Moon supports intention setting for a strengthened sense of inner security less needful of external attachments to feel stable.

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3 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Cancer 2 Decan

The second face of Cancer where the New Moon occurs is associated with the 3 of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  The mirthful image of merriment radiates mellifluous metaphors, a tarot card that signifies harmonious collaborations of inspired thought and creativity.  Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “a walled garden in which something precious is kept” to this face, adding an element not obvious from the above image:  the need of protection and nurturing to allow for an incubating space that can bring forth joy, beauty, and abundance.  A glance through images of this face from ancient texts reveal a profusion of beautiful women of melodious voice, some “seated on a snake-throne” (Yavanajataka) and all adorned with flowers or wreathed in myrtle (Picatrix, The Beginning of Wisdom, 777).  A man appears in Three Books of Occult Philosophy in this decan, dressed elegantly in style and engrossed in play.

The second decan of Cancer is ruled by Mercury.  Mercury at the moment of the New Moon is applying to a trine with Neptune as well as a conjunction with the Sun and Moon.  After Mercury separates from its conjunction with the Sun, it will be opposing Pluto and then receiving a sextile from Jupiter in Virgo.  Mercury is in position to mediate the fracturing and ruptures created by the last quarter squares between Saturn and Neptune, and Saturn and Jupiter.  Though current events are rife with destruction, murder, and desperation, though many are wrestling with struggles and fears over poverty, if one can enter into a protected space of nourishment the astrological aspects of this New Moon can also foster enlivening creativity and collaboration.  Joining with others to create structured and protective spaces that filter out the mayhem of the surrounding world can help to circulate and amplify the potential for shared fulfillment and beauty.  This can be a beautiful time to share your own precious gifts with others while being emotionally present to receive the inspiriting blessings of what others have to share.

Fig-tree, for such a long time now, there has been meaning for me,
in the way you almost wholly omit to flower
and urge your pure secret, unheralded,
into the early, resolute fruit.
Like the jet of a fountain, your arched bough
drives the sap downward, then up: and it leaps from its sleep
barely waking, into the bliss of its sweetest achievement.
See: like the god into the swan
……….We, though, linger,
ah, our pride is in flowering, and, already betrayed,
we reach the late core of our final fruit.
In a few the urge to action rises so powerfully,
that they are already waiting and glowing with their heart’s fullness
when the temptation to flower, like the mild night air,
touches their tender mouths, touches their eyelids:
heroes perhaps, and those chosen to vanish prematurely,
in whom Death the gardener wove different veins.
These plunge ahead: they go before their own smile,
like the team of horses in the slightly
hollowed-out relief of Karnak’s victorious pharaoh.

The hero is strangely close to those who died young. Lasting
doesn’t contain him. Being is his ascent: he moves on,
time and again, to enter the changed constellation
his risk entails. Few could find him there. But
Destiny, that darkly hides us, suddenly inspired,
sings him into the tempest of his onrushing world.
I hear no one like him. All at once I am pierced
by his darkened sound carried on streaming air.

Then, how gladly I would hide from the yearning: O if I,
if I were a boy, and might come to it still, and sit,
propped on the future’s arms, and reading about Samson,
how his mother first bore nothing, and then all.

Was he not a hero already, O mother, in you, did not
his imperious choice begin inside you?
Thousands seethed in the womb and willed to be him,
but see: he grasped and let go, chose and achieved.
And if he shattered pillars, it was when he burst
out of the world of your flesh into the narrower world,
where he went on choosing, achieving. O mothers of heroes,
O sources of ravening rivers! Ravines into which
weeping girls have plunged
from the high heart’s edge, future offerings to the son.
Because, whenever the hero stormed through the stations of love,
each heartbeat, meant for him, lifting him onward,
he turned away, stood at the end of the smiles, someone other.

–Rainer Maria Rilke, The Sixth Elegy, Duino Elegies

References

Beckett, Samuel. (1977). Collected Poems in English and French. Grove Press.

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.

Hillman, James. (2007). Mythic Figures. Spring Publications, Inc.

Full Moon Solstice

Joan Miro joy of a girl

Joy of a Girl in the Sun (1960) by Joan Miro

All colors come from the sun. And it does not have
Any particular color, for it contains them all.
And the whole Earth is like a poem
While the sun above represents the artist.

–Czeslaw Milosz

Which yet joined not scent to hue,
Crown the pale year weak and new;
When the night is left behind
In the deep east, dun and blind,
And the blue noon is over us,
And the multitudinous
Billows murmur at our feet,
Where the earth and ocean meet,
And all things seem only one
In the universal sun.

–Percy Bysshe Shelley

Awed by her brightness
Stars near the beautiful moon
Cover their own shining faces
When she lights earth
With her silver brilliance
Of love ….

–Sappho

Cancer Solstice

The Sagittarius Full Moon on June 19 arrives on the day of the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere and the Winter Solstice in the southern hemisphere.  At the solstice the Sun reaches its zenith, a time ancient cultures celebrated as the New Year.  The solstice is a peak moment, in the northern hemisphere the peak height of the Sun, in the southern hemisphere the peak descent into darkness.  To have a Full Moon precede the Cancer Solstice by less than twelve hours adds to the climactic energy, as Full Moons are also a moment of the peak amount of solar light received by Luna.  Yet nothing expands inexorably forever, and all must return to source, must spiral back.  The serpent circles back to bite its own tail in its eternal ouroboros. At the height of the apex, there is the bliss of the high and the knowing of a coming fall.  We fall at this Solstice Full Moon into the revivifying rays of Sol, our Solar Light that stimulates growth in our receptive Earth, our Sun that brings its clarifying heat illuminating what was previously darkly hidden.

The dragon, or serpent, represents the initial state of unconsciousness, for this animal loves, as the alchemists say, two dwell in “caverns and dark places.” Unconsciousness has to be sacrificed; only then can one find the entrance into the head, and the way to conscious knowledge and understanding. Once again the universal struggle of the hero with the dragon is enacted, and each time at its victorious conclusion the sun rises: consciousness dawns, and it is perceived that the transformation process is taking place inside the temple, that is, in the head.

— Carl Jung, “The Visions of Zosimos” para. 118

The polarity between Gemini and Sagittarius lit by the Full Moon carries the concept of sacrifice, as all of the Mutable signs in astrology mark the transition between the death of the previous season, and the birth of the coming season.  When our conscious personality sacrifices its grip on keeping out the whole multitude circulating in the unconscious, we can experience our own rebirth, sometimes slowly, sometimes suddenly, in the process.  In current events recently there have been many chaotic crises tearing open barriers to raw, primal emotions. There is anger, there is outrage, there is grief and fear, as across the globe innumerable streams of strife have people on edge within a palpable field of destruction.  Within the folds of the places that mainstream awareness ignores, there is the cry of desperation in what feels like a cruel, unconcerning world.  Though this has been a difficult time for many, the Solstice celebrates the Sun’s ascension from its descent, that the solar rays will return with their warmth as surely as flowers will continue to bloom and fruit ripen.  The Solstice can be seized for sensing within the radiant living force of our world that orbits within multiverses, that even when feeling alienated there is a loving embrace to be found between the Earth below and the Sun above.

Joan Miro the-gold-of-the-azure

The Gold of the Azure (1967) by Joan Mira

Jupiter in Virgo rules the Full Moon and is within five minutes of an exact conjunction with the North Node of the Moon.  This alone would bring a catalytic force to a Full Moon on a Solstice, yet there is much, much more.  Jupiter is received by Mercury in Gemini applying to a square with Jupiter, while Mercury is in opposition to Saturn in Sagittarius.  Saturn in Sagittarius is exactly square to Neptune in Pisces, as Neptune is conjoining the South Node of the Moon while in opposition to Jupiter and in square to Mercury.  The New Moon in Gemini that began this lunar cycle featured a Mutable Grand Cross between Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and a conjunction between Venus and the Sun.  At the Full Moon, we once again have a Mutable Grand Cross, with Mercury in Gemini filling the space previously occupied by the Sun and Venus.  The larger context of this configuration highlights the importance of the squares between Saturn and Neptune, and Saturn and Jupiter, as these aspects are the sort that demarcate eras of human history and notable shifts within the collective.  On a personal level, Mercury at home in Gemini as a Morning Star is the trigger point to pay attention to, as Hermes is transferring the light between the other three giants of astrology.

So, what the hell does this all mean you may be asking.  There is no way to encapsulate the full meaning of these aspects within an astrology article, nor is it possible to realize the meaning on a personal level without reflection that roots these aspects into your birth chart and your present experience.  However, there is some general guidance to keep in mind.  Mercury in Gemini is a worthy point of focus as it is in position to bring all of the reflections that have been stirred up in the past couple of months into the rushing currents of change found within the Mutable Grand Cross.  Mercury is often described as correlating with reason and logic, though that is only one aspect of Mercury’s mental potency.  The reason available to Mercury now connects with more than what is observable and measurable in visible consensus reality, as the boundaries of Saturn are being blown open. This is not your everyday transit of Mercury opposing Saturn, which typically correlates with rigorous and disciplined mental focus.  Maintaining mental focus through Mercury is still possible and in fact important, but there is a far vaster realm of reality and research than normal accessible through these catalytic aspects.

The Full Moon occurring at the final degrees of Gemini and Sagittarius means the entire arc of both signs are activated, signs that are ruled by Mercury and Jupiter.  In fact, all four places of the Mutable Grand Square are home to Mercury and Jupiter.  As Jupiter helps us create meaning out of our experiences and stabilize a vision or philosophy of life to live from, Mercury can destabilize preexisting beliefs through new information, arguments, and connections.  The Full Moon activating this Solstice is a perfect time to open your mind to the potential beyond whatever you had previously been limiting yourself to within your mind. A writing, research, or artistic project can be taken to a new level, or a passing conversation or experience can stimulate a completely different way of looking at your life.  Though instability can be felt within these aspects, there also remains extraordinary inspiration and a huge potential for ingenious insight.

Joan Miro rainbow

Toward the Rainbow (1941) by Joan Miro

Ceres, Uranus and Eris are conjoining in Aries at the Solstice, an aspect that some choose to ignore while others proclaim to be an Earth shattering amalgamation.  In fact, the widely divergent opinions astrologers have regarding the conjunction of Ceres, Uranus, and Eris is absolutely perfect with regards to the simultaneous Mutable Grand Square that is occurring.  Furthermore, Ceres, Uranus, and Eris are uniting in Aries, the home of Mars, in an exact quincunx to Mars retrograde in Scorpio.   Since all four of these celestial bodies are at the 23-24 degree range of their respective signs, the quincunx is full on.  To me, associating the shattering of previous paradigms with this aspect is fitting, and it furthermore reflects the many terrifying, traumatizing recent current events that are forcing people to reexamine their beliefs at fundamental levels.  Everything has been thrown up into the air in fractured splinters, and in their falling they reform, they coalesce, they commingle in ways never dreamt of before.

Ceres in Aries nurtures as Ceres always does, yet in Aries she fosters self-reliance and independence more so than co-dependence.  Ceres here is not a nurturer who wants you to become dependent upon her nurturing, but rather is a caring presence who nurtures creative actualization and the ability to get yourself back on your feet and moving again after a period of dormancy.  Ceres combined with Uranus and Eris is able to apply her creative force into collective mobilizations for change.  Ceres combined with Uranus and Eris will be most effective when transmuting the anger and outrage felt over systematic oppression into direct, creative action that makes a difference for others.  The quincunx to Mars retrograde in Scorpio demands integration with the needs of the greater society and collective.  This is not just about having a brilliant idea, but mobilizing thoughts into plans of action to manifest in your community.  Ceres, Uranus, Eris, and Mars retrograde can thus facilitate the creative impulse of Aries yoked to the investigative depth of Scorpio in order to express your gifts within a interconnected network of collaborators and co-conspirators.

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10 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Sagittarius 3 Decan

The third face of Sagittarius is associated with the 10 of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  The image has a resonance with the Titan Atlas bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders, as we sense the plowing drive necessary to take on and carry the weight of massive responsibilities.  Being the final decan of Sagittarius, this image illustrates how the mind, body, and spirit can become unified through dedicated work and effort applied to a goal.  In tarot this card has been associated with oppressive dynamics and limitations, and in fact is called Oppression in the Thoth deck.  Tarot writer Kelsey Lynore analyzed the dilemma of this card as having “taken on far too many responsibilities” that “are not strictly yours,” resulting in the creative potency of the fire element becoming “extinguished by the heaviness of an earthy reality.”  Lynore advised sifting through the burdens and responsibilities in order to discern which “are truly your own” so you can refrain from overextending yourself and instead sustain the energy needed to be accountable for the issues truly belonging to you.

Fittingly, Saturn is the ruler of this face and so this decan has a strong resonance with the current transit of Saturn in Sagittarius within the Mutable Grand Cross.  As the Sagittarius Full Moon is occurring at the final degree of Sagittarius, the associated imagery of the 10 of Wands card is a fitting symbol for making a sacrifice of hard work to prepare for the darkest time of the year at the Winter Solstice, currently occurring in the southern hemisphere.  In relation to the Summer Solstice occurring in the northern hemisphere, it is akin to a rush of activity and preparation commiserate with the peak of solar light.

 Austin Coppock ascribed the image of “A Horse’s Skull” to this face in his book 36 Faces, as it “points toward those circumstances in which the vehicle must be sacrificed in order to achieve the will,” as it involves “those circumstances where the body and the spirit are at odds” as “the spirit, the will, must press the body beyond comfort’s boundaries” to achieve the aim (p. 204-5).  Some ancient texts attribute acts of evil to this face in the context of those who will do whatever is necessary to achieve a goal.  Coppock concluded:

The subject of this decan is what one is willing to sacrifice in order to achieve what one wills. It is thus the formula for the perfection of the will and subjugation of all to it, granting power for both good and evil. Yet those who would apply it must consider the cost of the sacrifice required, for some offerings can be made only once. Those who walk this face must choose which burdens they will bear to the bitter end, and which are not worthy of such feats of will and endurance. The formula of this face is of greatest value to those who know their true will, and the true works which proceed from it.

–Austin Coppock, 36 Faces

Saturn in Sagittarius is retrograde applying closely to an opposition with Mercury in Gemini at the time of the Full Moon.  At the Sun’s ingress into Cancer at the Solstice, Saturn will only be a few days past an exact square with Neptune, in a time period that has also seen it complete its final last quarter square with Jupiter.  This is a pivotal moment in the transit of Saturn through Sagittarius, and so it is important to consider what the stimulating transits are asking from Saturn.  Neptune demands awareness of whatever is outside the lines of what you define with your beliefs, recognizing the impact of your own perceptual force and judgment in co-creating reality and importance of exploring your inner imaginal space.  Mercury demands opening to other perspectives, being curious how other viewpoints experience existence and bridging your current understanding with those who express a contrasting point of view.  Jupiter conjoining the North Node of the Moon, the ruler of the Full Moon, calls us to distill the essence of what we most deeply value and aspire to achieve, modifying plans in accordance with changes in the arising moment, and most of all taking the risk to make new choices free of the restrictions of our past.  The Sun burns bright at the Solstice indiscriminately:  bask in its radiance and open your heart to delight and euphoria.

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References

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.

Jung, Carl. (1967). Alchemical Studies. Bollingen.

Interview on Mercury & Gemini

hermaphrodite from rosarium philosophorum

from Rosarium Philosophorum

I am excited to share an interview I did with astrologer Mary Jo Wevers about the sign of Gemini and its ruler Mercury on her radio show “Astrology: The Theory of Everything.”  We spend a lot of time speaking about Mercury retrograde, and this show was in fact recorded right before Mercury stationed retrograde in Taurus this past April.

During the show I mentioned that when Mercury transited the Sun at its Inferior Conjunction it was conjoining its Heliocentric North Node.  I learned this information from Dane Rudhyar and other astrologers, and astrologer Gary Caton corrected me (after this interview was recorded) by pointing out that if you actually look at the orbit of Mercury you can see that its Heliocentric South Node is actually Taurus.  So, point being that when Mercury conjoined the Sun in May it was conjunct its Heliocentric South Node in Taurus, not its North Node.

Click the link below to listen to the show on the official site:

http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/91928/gemini-bridging-connections-and-navigating-changes-with-retrograde-mercury#.V2H311duLzI

Click the player below just to play the show: