Ah, that Hermes, a crafty fellow who causes much mischief, but at the same time often shows up to save the day in myths, such as braving the underworld to rescue Persephone. During much of this past Summer, the planet Mercury has gone through a long strange trip through the sign of Leo, an odyssey that will be culminating with the Full Moon and Blue Moon in Pisces this upcoming Friday: as Mercury reaches the final degrees of Leo during the Full Moon, it will be in range of opposing Neptune and will exactly oppose Pisces Neptune the next day.
I believe myths reflect the wisdom in the stars and can bring to life a lot of the complex interplanetary dynamics we astrologers love to discuss. With Mercury moving into an opposition with Neptune in Pisces this week, it brings to mind many of the Neptunian myths, the journey of Odysseus among them. In The Odyssey Odysseus primarily has the path of guiding his men back to their home, and himself back to the arms of his wife, Penelope, waiting at home for him. Odysseus and Poseidon (Neptune) square off at many points, but some of the greatest dangers Odysseus gets himself and his men into stems from his Neptunian trysts with the Goddesses Calypso and Circe. Each of these goddesses keeps Oddysseus in their arms as their lover for great lengths of time, Calypso keeping him as her lover for seven years on her island according to Homer! With each Odysseus seems incapable of breaking himself free, reveling in his ecstatic union with each Goddess, while temporarily neglecting his mission to guide himself and his men to their homeland. It is Hermes, or Mercury, who in each instance is able to appear and offer a solution for Odysseus to separate from his Goddess lover. Not that loving a Goddess is wrong in itself, it’s just Odysseus had a clear mission that was put in jeopardy of coming to fruition due to his choice of focusing on the fruits of his Goddess affairs.
In The Odyssey Hermes is able to talk Calypso into letting go of Odysseus through direct language. Calypso is portrayed as a lovely Goddess who plays enchanting music and wants to keep Odysseus as her lover, hoping to make him immortal in his love with her. Hermes negotiates with her to release Odysseus, and seems a little heavy handed with telling her that Zeus (Jupiter) will send repercussions otherwise, but this is sort of what can happen to us when we drift off our path into delights of our senses that begin to pull us away from the path that will lead us to the highest good for ourselves and all other beings- sooner or later something, at times even a crisis, makes us realize we are off-track. And Odysseus does realize he misses Penelope even though she isn’t a beautiful Goddess like Calypso, and he wants to leave to return home. In contrast, Circe is portrayed as more of a manipulating Goddess who casts spells and turns Odysseus’ men into pigs! Again, Hermes comes to the rescue by showing Odysseus the herb Moly that will protect him from the spells of Circe, and gives him clear directions with how to deal with Circe, at the same time warning him that she will become attracted to him as a result. Although Odysseus protects himself from her spell through the use of the herb, he still remains with Circe for a long time as her lover in her deep wooded setting. To me, this example symbolizes the Mercury function of being able to research and categorize healing protections as well as come up with strategies or disciplines to get out of difficulties. But at the same time, in the end we have to make the hard decisions for ourselves to break out of pleasant situations pulling ourselves off our path and get ourselves moving forward again on our path. Recently we have been experiencing astrological transits reflecting a lot of illusions and confusing experiences baffling many, pulling many off the track of their true path. Like Odysseus, many of us could use the help and skill of clear-headed Mercury at this time.
In the past month or so, in the midst of the intense Pluto-Uranus square, the new era of Neptune in Pisces has been ushered in more intensely with a square aspect between Pisces Neptune, Sagitarius North Node of the Moon, and Gemini South Node of the Moon. In times ripe with illusion, when many are feeling confused and disoriented about what is illusionary and what is true insight, while others are living an illusion in complete denial of it, one of the most helpful skills to hold is discernment. The planetary function of Mercury is involved with discernment, as it not only has to do with the way we communicate, it also has to do with the way we perceive phenomenal reality as part of our thinking, reflecting, and communicating process. Recently Mercury went through a retrograde phase and is now moving forward again and picking up speed, having moved out of it’s “shadow” period of retrograde motion last week.
The Sabian symbols can offer us some insight into how Leo Mercury can help us. On July 14, 2012 Mercury stationed retrograde at 13 degrees Leo:
Leo 13: An old sea captain rocking
This is a symbol of man’s great love for reliving his experiences in memory, and of his gift for achieving a mastery in advance of whatever new situations he may face by bringing all the ramifying relationships to a focus in a personal and competent grasp of their more pertinent potentialities.
—Marc Edmond Jones, The Sabian Symbols
So just as the “old sea captain” makes me think of Odysseus, more important is the emphasis on retrospect and reflection, reliving experiences from memory- a perfect symbol for any Mercury retrograde period, and a clue that part of our task has been to sort through Neptunian confusion, and to make an honest reflection about all of our relationships. Events may have been disorienting, and Mercury has asked us to confront our responsibility in the difficulties we have experienced, as well as our responsibility in bringing ourselves self-fulfillment.
On August 7, 2012 Mercury stationed direct at 2 degrees of Leo, while making a quincunx aspect with Pisces Neptune, trining the Sagitarius North Node and sextiling the Gemini South Node, while Pisces Neptune was intensely squaring these same nodes at the same time. Again the Sabian symbol described by Marc Edmund Jones in his book The Sabian Symbols is illuminating:
Leo 2: An epidemic of mumps
This is a symbol of personal capacities wholly out of hand, and of the momentary appeal of escapist ideas whenever the self fails to remain alive to its own immediate needs or ultimate interests. The reversed symbolism emphasizes the absolute necessity laid on every living spirit, that somehow it retain a passionate sensitiveness to the practical import or organic usefulness of everything it encounters in its everyday situation.
So, to help propel us forward toward our collective soul direction at this time (and the Sabian symbol for the North Node at this time fittingly was “The ocean covered with whitecaps”) we need to pay more attention than normal to our practical needs on a daily basis, what is truly feeding us in our day-to-day life— but to be clear this means what is practical in helping us live our highest good, in a way that will help bring light and love for the highest good of all beings in our world— what is feeding our Soul life our true soul development. Sometimes escapism can be more obvious like going out to a bar and getting drunk, or sitting around watching superficial television or movies, but other times we may think we are doing what we are called for, when what is calling us is truly an illusion. Take Paul Ryan, for example. During this time period Paul Ryan became the Vice Presidential nominee for the Republican Party- he wholeheartedly believes what he believes, and it is portrayed as good home common sense. But in reality his philosophy is deeply rooted in the novelist Ayn Rand, who at the end of the day is more of an escapist read at the beach than a fully spiritually realized soul imparting deep wisdom on our planet.
Likewise many of us may have been wrapped up in a belief during this time period we felt was serving out highest good, only to experience the disillusionment of the universal truth of that belief falling apart. We are constantly being bombarded by images from our friends and strangers via social media networks, as well as manipulative images from the media aimed at manipulating our desires. As upsetting as periods of disillusionment can be, however, what is helpful about them is that they let us know we have gotten off track and that we need to re-center and find our true path again. How do we discern when we are following our true soul path, versus when we are thinking that we are but are actually following an illusion that is separating us from our true path? Today as I was contemplating the best words to choose to answer this question, I bought the new astrology report written by my astrology teacher, Rosie Finn, and I had to laugh, as Rosie answered this question very well in her own writing!
Also, desires are spread. We want something because our senses have been accosted, influencing us to want it and we lose track of our soul longing. When we are tuned into our soul longing we feel it on every level. A ringing vibration moves through us. Our hair stands up. We get a chill. We feel it all over. When a desire co-opts our longing, we feel agitated, like we are missing something. When we feel a true soul longing, the feeling itself satisfies us. It is our own unique journey that is being high lighted. We know our next step. We may feel loss but not agitation, not anxiety, not distress. We feel a direction when we feel our soul longing.
–Rosie Finn, from the September 2012 Plants and Planets
As the Pisces Full Moon this Friday approaches, Pisces Neptune is still in range of squaring the lunar nodes, and the disorientation of this could get all the more confusing once Mercury gets to the end of Leo and in range of opposing Neptune. To make things even more intense, this upcoming Full Moon will be conjunct Chiron in Pisces, meaning that some of our deepest emotional wounds could be triggered. While getting emotionally triggerred can make us even more disorientated than normal, if we have been clearing and letting go during this recent time, moving with the changes reflected by the Uranus-Pluto square, and doing or moving toward our soul work, this week could instead be a moment to connect with inner divinity, illumination, God, Goddess, Great Spirit, what you want to call it. If we can have the courage to face our deepest emotional wounds and not look for ways to escape our reality and our true path, it may not be easy, it may be extremely emotional, but at least the energy can ultimately be cathartic and propel us forward, instead of further into confusion and away from the path calling to us.