Blood Red Moon in Aquarius
(if you are interested)
leads to discovery
— William Carlos Williams
Total Lunar Eclipses are one of the most dramatic visual phenomenons in astrology, as the full light of the Moon becomes enveloped in blood red shadow. Within the space of the shadow’s sojourn, we sense the dragons of ancient lore awaken, wings rustling and eyes beaming. We feel red, the redness of pungent vitality penetrating whatever has felt stagnant, smelling of decay. We’ll feel the full strength of Mars during the Total Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius, moved by the red planet of indomitable courage and resilient creativity pulsating within. The shadow will nourish us through its martial heat to emerge from the shedding of old forms and identity into fuller embodiment of our nature.
Marsilio Ficino in his books on life described spirit as a subtle, hot vapor of the blood, writing that “blood serves the spirit, the spirit the senses, and finally the senses reason.” Spirits will be stirred as there is a wild, unrestrained quality to the eclipse that will burn off the usual conscious attempts to keep deep rooted desires buried underneath the conditioned patterns we’ve felt bound by. It will not feel so reasonable to suppress passions in order to fit in with status quo expectations, but rather unreasonable to hold back heartfelt expression. Yes, anger and conflict can get amplified at a scorching syzygy such as this, but so can feelings of liberation that prod us to finally take the actions necessary to reshape our role and rewrite our story.
Mars is opposite the Sun at the full phase of its synodic cycle, the heart of its retrograde journey in which it is closest to us in orbit and brightest red in the night sky. The glowing Mars will appear below the eclipsed Moon against the canopy of fixed stars, both aligned with the South Node of the Moon; meanwhile the Sun will be at home in Leo and united with the North Node of the Moon. We are called to make a sacrifice, to make sacred through releasing an old identity, fear, wound, pattern, ambition, or obsession into the flames of the Aquarius South Node. Growth will be found through being receptive to unconscious messages and guidance, while sustaining sharp discernment and clarifying awareness so that we do not become entangled in unnecessary conflict. Yet confrontation and mettle will be a necessity to engage with the potency of the eclipse. At times we will need to withdraw into protected contemplative space for reflection, at other times we will be required to act quickly and directly, bravely confronting whatever obstacles or dilemmas arise.
Uranus in Taurus is rocking the eclipse, making a direct strike that excessively accelerates the volatility: many collective crises will erupt, many will feel on edge or hyped up on strong stimulants. It’s not an eclipse for maintaining tight order and control. Things will be messy, hot and sweaty, dirty and fecund with germinating seeds signaling a future harvest or the falling apart of past security. If you feel passionate about working on a particular project, there is power available for engaging fully with the process while letting go of worrying about unreadiness. There’s also strong potency in the spaces of stillness where we can envision while focusing more on the release of old aspects of ourselves we are ready to lay to rest.
Within all the tumultuous, rushing currents of the Aquarius eclipse within collective events, Hermes is sitting in stillness, consumed with penetrating thought. Less than two days before the exact alignment of the Lunar Eclipse, Mercury is stationing retrograde at 24 degrees of Leo. Mercury remains a visible Evening Star during the time of the eclipse, having not yet descended into its invisible, underworld phase in which it plays the role of psychopomp. Mercury will be stationary as it emerges from the shifting hues of twilight for those in position to glimpse its fleeting presence, and similarly Mercury will be available to help decipher and digest the events and insights that align with the eclipse. When Mercury is stationing retrograde, it becomes even more important than normal to sustain keen awareness and sharp perception not only to the usual mundane affairs, but also to passing signs that may serve as omens of guidance.
Mercury in its retrograde phase in Leo will reach its illuminating rebirth moment of aligning with the Sun only a few days before a Partial Solar Eclipse in Leo on August 11. The gift of this Mercury retrograde in Leo will be in helping to guide perception toward what needs greater awareness, whether that be an image in a dream or a detail in a work project. With regard to the retrograde loop pattern traced in the sky by the path of Mercury, there is a fascinating element in which it is happening in southern latitude relative to the ecliptic, similarly to how the Mars retrograde is also occurring in southern latitude. The reason for this is that both the present Mercury and Mars retrograde phases are occurring in signs that form a square to their own planetary nodes.
I was lucky to see a wonderful talk by Michelle Gould at UAC entitled Planets at the Bending in which she theorized that planets at the southern bending may have gained a more fearful interpretation compared to the north in Mesopotamian astrology because Mesopotamian civilizations were often protected by mountains to the north and vulnerable to invasion from the south. In astrology there is a lineage of thought linking planets in southern latitude to our conscious personality becoming vulnerable to greater influence from the unconscious. Mercury retrograde periods are ideal for mediating the intersection between conscious and unconscious dynamics, and will be an important point of focus in coming weeks.
The influence of subconscious, irrational lunar forces are further amplified by the eclipsed Moon being out toward the far point of its orbit relative to Earth, and so not far from Black Moon Lilith. There’s an aspect of our nature we’ve been in denial of or have suppressed to uncover here. Sometimes we project this material and identity on to others we end up becoming triggered by, but normally once we begin the process of accepting and integrating this aspect of ourselves we are able to not only feel more whole, but our life trajectory also tends to shift into greater flow with opportunities in life appearing to embody the new found presence.
Venus in Virgo is separating from an opposition with Neptune and applying toward a close trine with Pluto in Capricorn during the eclipse. As a result Venus is playing an important mediating role behind the scenes of the eclipse in placing us in deeper contact with soulful feelings through our inner senses. Venus in Virgo has been stirring up a lot of material for us through relationships, and with all of the retrograde action some of this material could relate to the realm of memory and the stories held within of past relationships in addition to current. Venus moving from Neptune to Pluto can reveal how we have given our power away in the past through relationship, how we have felt abandoned or betrayed by those we have trusted, and how we can come to acceptance with how all of this has impacted our present state and the way we interact with others.
Though some material arising within may feel uncomfortable and difficult to face, ultimately Venus is in a position of empowerment. The trine from Pluto in Capricorn to Venus in Virgo within the dissolution of Neptune can foster the softening of old, stubborn patterns that have weighed us down like heavy rocks of burden. Venus is in the home of Mercury which is the reason it is considered to be in “fall” in Virgo, yet with Mercury stationing retrograde at the eclipse there is potent analytical force available for Venus to bring to our inner depths.
Mars being opposite the Sun within a day before the exact alignment of the Total Lunar Eclipse means the red planet is entering the most “hot and dry” phase of its synodic cycle. As Mars is already considered to be at an extreme of heat and dryness, in the aftermath of the eclipse we will need to focus on how to most effectively separate ourselves from the situations that no longer feel tolerable for us. Some may feel like “burning the house down,” so keep in mind how to best make changes in ways that will not unnecessarily exacerbate conflicts.
The above image from Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens shows a woman cleansing clothes soiled by the dirt of earth through the other elements: the soaking in water raised to high heat from fire, with the ensuing exposure to air and the heat of the Sun completing the purification. She is a worthy image of the Water Bearer holding the space of Mars retrograde, the South Node of the Moon, and the Total Lunar Eclipse. As the text of the Atalanta Fugiens states, “whatever faeces or Crudities are in [the Philosophick Subject] will be purged and taken away by the infusion of its proper Waters, and the whole body will be brought to a great perfection and cleanness.” We are working here with what the Rosarium Philosophorum called the “Philosophic Fire” and “Philosophic Water.” We can also see in the image the woman is wielding a variety of materials in order to stoke a variety of heat for the process.
It may be helpful to work with a similar image of cleansing and purification with whatever material comes up in correspondence with the Total Lunar Eclipse. Allow yourself to work with the material, to heat and soak it, and expose it to air and solar heat for further treatment. Astrological events such as this Aquarius Lunar Eclipse signify change and a greater capacity to rewrite our life narratives and change the course of our coming life in a more authentic direction. It doesn’t mean the process will be easy and pleasant, but it does mean a great reward may be found in the end through doing the work.
Aquarius 1 Decan
The blood red shadow arises across the face of the full Moon in the first decan of Aquarius, associated with the Five of Swords card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image of the 5 of Swords card illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith, we see a swordsman pridefully watching his conquered rivals walk away, leaving him solitary in a freshly cleared domain. Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces noted that Aquarius I “is a face of exclusion and intentional exile,” and that a lot of images in older texts “depict the difficulties of living on the margins, on the outside” (p. 226). Coppock linked the meaning of this card to the independence, liberation, and “wider and deeper understanding of reality” to be found through breaking free from the orthodox of one’s time and accepting “the mark of the heretic” if necessary (p. 227). In this way, the image of the 5 of Swords card above shows how many relationships become sacrificed when one goes into exile away from societal norms, though also bringing the potential that new relationships will arise in alignment with the liberated sense of Self.
The Hellenistic text the 36 Airs described the goddess of justice Dike as inhabiting the first face of Aquarius. Coppock in 36 Faces linked Dike appearing here with “the abandonment of relationships which do not live up to Lady Justice’s high standards,” an idea which makes sense. Fittingly, the two rulers of the first decan of Aquarius are Venus (descending order) and Saturn (triplicity order), signifying the boundaries of relationship. While we may feel like severing certain relationships as we pass through the shadow of the eclipsed Moon, the real gift offered here is awareness of what ideals, ethics, and values are important for us to embody with integrity as well as have present in the bonds of relationship we form with others. The more we gain awareness of these qualities and most importantly hold ourselves accountable to living from them, the more likely we will also experience a deeper resonance with these values within our relationships. It will be important to not waste energy projecting judgment toward “scape goats” we judge as being out of alignment with our values, but instead draw upon our full reservoir of energy to create with integrity a life more resonant with the discovered essentiality.
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.