Full Moon in Sagittarius
While Luna ablaze in light will take center stage the night of the Full Moon on May 21, the driving force of the cosmic theatre is Mars. Mars arises at sunset along with the Full Moon, as resplendent in brightness as is possible for the red planet to appear. Mars will be at its most vivid glimmer in our night sky because it is at the heart of its retrograde, exactly opposite our Sun with full reception of solar light. With Mercury simultaneously stationing direct, the Sagittarius Full Moon is a crossroads at which Mars Retrograde, Mercury Retrograde, and the Lunar Cycle intersect. Whatever has already sprung forth or been faced during the Mars retrograde in the last month, whatever realizations have been unearthed during Mercury’s retrograde, at the crossroads Hekate delivers a message of paramount importance. With the Sun in Gemini while its ruler Mercury is stationing direct, there is integral guidance available regarding the path we have been following during the backward march of Mars.
Betwixt Gemini and Sagittarius lies the polarity of Mercury and Jupiter. Perhaps no other axis in astrology has as much to do with exploring the innumerable, ineffable levels of meaning found within our experience of reality. While Gemini is a place of inexhaustible curiosity following as many connections and contrasts of meaning between cultures and perspectives as possible, Sagittarius is a place through which all of our learning and perceptions can be synthesized through fiery vision aimed at a target. Sagittarius polarizes in Gemini the leap of desire, thought, and action needed to coalesce the meaning gathered from life into focused manifestation. While Gemini as the home of Mercury is comfortable teasing out the depth found in between different viewpoints, Sagittarius as the home of Jupiter facilitates thought and action sourced from intuitive faculties found within. Finding a center of inner guidance at the Sagittarius Full Moon is both vital and tricky, however, as there is a larger astrological context of tension between Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune, astrological factors which call us to question the nature of our reality.
The real trouble is this: every single idea we have about what truth is, is itself a deception.
All our attempts to discriminate between reality and deception or between truth and illusion are exactly what keeps on tricking us, because the things we take for reality happen to be the greatest illusion.
–Peter Kingsley, Reality, p. 211
There will be many examples in which the Full Moon aligned with Mars retrograde will manifest as overzealous righteousness in those convinced their perspective on a situation is the only way to be. Challenging the amplified Sagittarius fire contained in the Full Moon are the often overlooked Vesta and Pallas Athena, with Vesta in Gemini opposite Mars retrograde and Pallas Athena in Pisces forming a square to Mars retrograde and the Full Moon. Pallas Athena is holding the wisdom of everything being dismissed by a know-it-all perspective, acknowledging the consequences of actions taken in personal relationships as well as within the vast collective. Vesta aligned with the Sun in opposition to Mars retrograde can foster focused devotion toward desires that deserve being one’s top priority, separating from the elements of life that create meddlesome distractions to the vision becoming clarified in the light of the Moon. There is a tremendous catalytic charge in the Full Moon to provoke movement, and while no doubt there will be numerous surrounding conflicts to traverse as a result, with mindfulness one can center upon the most fruitful path to follow forward.
Jupiter in Virgo
Jupiter in Virgo rules the Full Moon and is in the middle of potent, complex aspects. Crucially, Neptune is opposite Jupiter while Saturn is locked into a square with Jupiter, aspects which bring disorienting, disillusioning experiences and require total presence in the moment in order to optimally navigate. Simultaneously, Jupiter has been sustaining a Grand Earth Trine with Pluto in Capricorn and Mercury in Taurus over the past week, an arrangement of ease which encourages presence in one’s body and surroundings, yet can also lead to stagnation. Since Jupiter is in the home of Mercury, their trine with Pluto in Capricorn has the potential to facilitate a release of resistance to the fundamental changes that have been signaling for acceptance through subtle and discordant experiences. At the same time, the harmonious aspects between Mercury, Jupiter, and Pluto promote attachment to comforts that soothe anxiety yet keep us from breaking free into the potential growth available. There is a threshold to cross between holding on to whatever we feel we must possess for security, and following the path that leads in a direction that feels enlivening yet also frightening due to the usual security needs not being guaranteed.
We love taking things easy- will even spend the greater part of our available time working ourselves into the ground just so that we can sit around in a little comfort and security right at the end. But this is a fool’s game. We will have the shock of our lives when, sooner or later, we realize that what had seemed so perfectly safe is in fact the perfect illusion.
Everything we look to for safety or comfort: this is Love’s trick. And by refusing to take any true risks we end up ironically taking the most dangerous course there is, of placing all our trust in our deceiver.
–Peter Kingsley, Reality, p. 409
Neptune in Pisces and Saturn in Sagittarius from a traditional perspective are both in homes of Jupiter, and so the catalytic energy of the Sagittarius Full Moon is ripe with potency to revivify visions of what can bring joy and fulfillment into one’s life. While seizing the Full Moon in order to take hold of your life in the direction you feel compelled to follow is important, there also needs to be a willingness for patience and acceptance regarding whatever is not manifesting as one had hoped. The tumultuous astrology contained in the Sagittarius Full Moon can readily erupt into personal conflicts, and so being impatient and frustrated will only add fuel to the fire.
It is essential to remember that Jupiter in Virgo is further aligned with the transiting North Node of the Moon, while Neptune in Pisces is aligned with the transiting South Node of the Moon. This means that the ruler of the Full Moon is aligned with the North Node of the Moon, dramatically tilting the balance toward the direction and choices in life that feel fresh and unfamiliar and require the use of one’s skill set in new ways. The North Node side of the Moon holds gifts accessed through letting go of habitual thoughts and reliance upon using our strengths and talents in the same way we always have because of the success it has brought in the past. There is strong astrological support to shed the old identity or persona we created for ourselves and have become accustomed to, and to discover in the changing moment dynamic new ways to express our talents and gifts.
Hermes is here to help guide us through the crossroads before us, as Mercury in Taurus is the ruler of both Jupiter as well as the North Node of the Moon. Mercury at the time of the Full Moon is stationing direct as a Morning Star, sharing its light with us during the shifting colors of sunrise. As Mercury arises in the flames of Dawn, it shifts to a role focused upon goals, objectives, and connections that are found in the light of day. All of the deep, ruminating realizations we have sensed during the retrograde of Mercury over the past several weeks will now begin to be able to be clarified with greater objectivity. However, Mercury stationing direct can feel disruptive since the fleet footed messenger is standing still and sustaining focus on a degree of the zodiac- in this case the midpoint (15°) of Taurus and the midpoint of all the Fixed signs are especially impacted. While Mercury’s stationing is a significant component of the jarring feel of this Full Moon, ultimately it is also a key component of the extraordinary change that can be manifested as the Moon enters the waning half of its cycle.
Venus Sun opposite Mars
Though the opposition between the Gemini Sun with the Moon and Mars retrograde in Sagittarius is the most exact aspect of this Full Moon, there is also an opposition between Venus and Mars that is building to a climax and will culminate a few days later on May 24 at the first degree of Gemini and Sagittarius. At the time of the Full Moon, however, Venus remains in her own sign of Taurus at 27 degrees, roughly four degrees away from opposing Mars and the Full Moon. While Mars at the heart of its retrograde is now as close in orbit to Earth as it ever gets, Venus is far away on the other side of the Sun from Earth en route to its Superior Conjunction with the Sun which will occur in the first week of June. Venus is now at the most intense phase of her purifying process of going into the flames of the Sun, and so her opposition with Mars occurring now is made all the more volatile. There is incredible energy found within Venus and the Sun opposing Mars retrograde that could play out in many directions: in relationship it could be released through ecstatic merging, heart-to-heart conversations, as well as disastrous conflict. If out of relationship, it could be felt through tremendous suffering over not being in relationship, or could be utilized through embracing the freedom and independence gained through not being in relationship in order to break free to a higher level of personal development and potential.
In astrology, it is easy to link the polarity between Mars and Venus with the ancient philosophy of Empedocles that placed the waxing and waning of Love and Strife at the center of creation, since astrologers connect Mars with separation and Venus with union. Peter Kingsley’s book Reality explored the life and work of Empedocles as well as fellow presocratic philosopher Parmenides from the perspective that these historical lions of rationalism were in fact engaged in the direct experience of reality found in mystical traditions. Kingsley noted in his book how there is a dominant perspective that idealizes Love and fears Strife, and how this makes sense to us without question. In contrast to this viewpoint, Kingsley interpreted Empedocles to reveal that Love can lead one into a realm of great illusion and deception, while Strife can lead one toward ultimate freedom despite all of its associated difficulties:
So the one choice we are left with is to let Strife do its work either with our cooperation or without: either with our deliberate trust and awareness or in spite of us, dragging us along by the heels. But the more we try to run away from it and hide, the more trouble we will be creating for ourselves in future.
The situation is starkly simple. If we let it have its way without cooperating, then Strife will manifest as violence and destruction all around us. But if we are willing to cooperate, we can consciously channel its energy instead into destroying ourselves- our beliefs and illusion, our attachments, our clinging to the ways things are. For what can be so difficult to realize is that the very act of becoming conscious is, itself, a process of destruction; of separation; of learning to die before we die.
–Peter Kingsley, Reality, p. 435
In the week ahead we will have a lot of issues centered around associated themes of Venus and Mars to contend with. The timing will result in the big boom of the Full Moon, Mars retrograde opposite the Sun, and Mercury stationing direct happening first, followed by Venus and Mars applying to an opposition in the following three days. The gift found within all of these tumultuous aspects is Self-realization and clarification regarding the balance between our inner desires, needs, and values and the way in which they are being expressed, received, and fulfilled in our external relationships.
Sagittarius 1 Decan
The first face of Sagittarius is ruled by Mercury, signifying its rapid pace. However, Mercury in Taurus is stationing direct at the time of the Full Moon and so the protean nature of Mercury is shifted toward a standstill rather than a rush of movement. The 8 of Wands card illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith that is associated with the first face of Sagittarius contains a rather abstract image of velocity found in angularly jutting wands, and the associated meaning of the card involves the speed of thought and imagination applied to a passionate goal. With Mercury stationing direct at the Full Moon, the effect is more akin to the incredible potency of a master still in contemplative meditation, rather than the speed and dexterity of a master engaged in a martial art. Whenever a planet stations it takes on greater prominence by transit, and this is especially the case with Mercury not only because it rules the first face of Sagittarius but also because Jupiter, the ruler of the Sagittarius Full Moon is also in the home of Mercury.
Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Poisoned Arrow” to the first face of Sagittarius, writing that “the essence of this decan entails the swift emergence of a motivating vision and the attainment of a vehicle to move one toward the pictured goal” (p. 194). Images linked to this decan found in ancient texts support this description as an armored man holding a sword appears in Three Books of Occult Philosophy, signifying “boldness, militancy and freedom,” while Ibn Ezra described the image of a shouting centaur holding a bow and arrows. Similarly, the Yavanajataka described a man with drawn bow who “has a knowledge of chariots and weapons,” and is in possession of “speed as violent as a horse’s.” In contrast, the Birhat Jakarta included an image of a centaur who is “residing in a hermitage, protecting sacred articles and Maharishis.” In all of the images we find both the velocity and strength to get the desired job done, as well as the potential to create violence in the process.
As Mercury retrograde completes itself as the Moon is fully lit in our night sky, there is a corresponding illumination to be found in reflection of what has transpired during the past month of Mars and Mercury being simultaneously retrograde. This is one Full Moon in which all of the astrological indicators point toward it carrying a tremendously important message to receive. Allow whatever inspiration arises to help propel you forward, while aware that the propulsive force of this Full Moon can also coincide with conflicts erupting in need of mediation. There is an inner fire to be found within to be consciously cultivated and directed.
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.
Kingsley, Peter. (2003). Reality. The Golden Sufi Center.