Mercury Retrograde in Leo & Cancer

Chagall BetweenDarknessandLight.jpg

Marc Chagall (1938-43) Between Darkness and Light

Mercury Retrograde in Leo & Cancer

It’s the main highway leading in, / the sun soon down. / Traffic backs up, creeps along, / it’s a torpid glittering dragon. / I am a scale on that dragon. / The red sun all at once / blazes in my windshield, / pouring in, / and makes me transparent. / Some writing shows / up inside me- words / written with invisible ink / appearing when the paper / is held over a fire. / I know that I have to go far away, / straight through the city, out / the other side, then step out / and walk a long time in the woods. / Walk in the tracks of the badger. / Growing hard to see, nearly dark. / Stones lie about on the moss. / One of those stones is precious. / It can change everything. / It can make the darkness shine. / It’s the light switch for the whole country. / Everything depends on it. / Look at it . . . touch it . . .

— Further In by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robert Bly

The stillness of Mercury when it stations retrograde demands attention. The fleet-footed Star of Hermes which is capable of questioning and curating with quicksilver speed, ever cunning in its capacity to incite changes in perspective, stands still in contemplative pause. In the liminal transition of twilight, Mercury shares the final light of its cycle before descending into its invisible phase of rebirth. It is always advisable to pay closer attention than normal when Mercury stations, as well as making space for reflection regarding inner shifts beginning to take shape. When Mercury stations retrograde on July 7 at 4º27′ Leo, however, it will be even more important than normal due to it stationing in range of a conjunction with Mars in Leo and a catalytic square aspect with Uranus in Taurus. These aspects indicate more than the usual amount of unexpected twists and turns in storylines suddenly appearing, even more so since it is also happening within the mysterious vortex of change that comes in between eclipses.

It’s common to hear warnings from astrologers to not sign any contracts or make major purchases during periods of Mercury retrograde, due to it being associated with delays and erratic volatility, but the fact remains that life for most cannot go on hold for the rest of July while Mercury is retrograde. It is possible to successfully initiate new enterprises, sign contracts, and make purchases during Mercury retrograde periods, but it is important to recognize it possesses a different quality of time than when Mercury is moving at its usual speed while direct. The slow, churning, backward motion of Mercury calls for introspection and paying close attention to inner guidance and intuition in relation to whatever is undertaken. While Mercury is retrograde we can become aware of numerous signs indicating it’s not the right time to do something we have been consciously fixated on making happen. However, if  everything is lining up well to embark on a new initiative, there is no reason to refrain from acting just because of fear over the fact that Mercury is retrograde.

We are often called to revisit an old issue or pattern while Mercury is retrograde, but rather than becoming angry and frustrated over having to rework or re-engage with something from the past, it’s better to utilize the opportunity for resolving old issues, making reparations and repairs where needed, and coming to terms with whatever needs completion in order to more effectively welcome an influx of new developments.  In the week following Mercury stationing retrograde on July 7, take time for reflection regarding whatever you have outgrown and feel that the time has arrived to release. Mercury retrograde periods are always powerful in terms of purging and breaking free from old habits, but this particular Mercury retrograde will be even more powerful than normal due to Mercury stationing in strong aspect with both Mars and Uranus, while also happening in between a solar and lunar eclipse. There is an old way of expressing ourselves in the world that is ready to be shed, while at the same time a potent new form or source of creativity is ready to be embraced.

Dragon ouroboros Hermetic Sun and Moon

From The Hermetic Child of Sun and Moon (1752)

The Fixed & Volatile Fire of Leo

The dwarf pine on marsh grounds holds its head up: a dark rag. / But what you see is nothing compared to the roots, / the widening, secretly groping, deathless or half-deathless root system.

I you she he also put roots out. / Outside our common will. / Outside the City.

Rain drifts from the summer sky that’s pale as milk. / It is as if my five senses were hooked up to some other creature / that moves with the same stubborn flow / as the runners in white circling the track as the night comes misting in.

A Few Moments by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robert Bly

As Mercury stations on July 7 to begin slowly shifting retrograde on July 8, we will experience the unusual occurrence of Mars applying toward a conjunction with Mercury that completes on July 8. While Mars will continue to charge forward into a volatile aspect with Uranus in Taurus that will complete on July 11, Mercury will turn around and head backwards before completing an exact square aspect with Uranus. As Mars completes its catalyzing aspect with Uranus, Mercury will be disappearing from view in twilight and entering its invisible, psychopomp role of pulling awareness into subconscious depths. In combination these aspects portend extreme volatility with mental unrest and overwhelm at times overcoming us, as well as sudden conflicts arising that could provoke frustration and anger. There may also be a connection of events back to the period of June 18 when Mercury previously formed a conjunction with Mars for the first time in this series.

Yet the volatile, destructive quality of time signified by Mercury stationing retrograde while engaging both Mars and Uranus can be utilized in breaking free from situations that have been limiting or stagnating us. There is a highly charged dosage of liberating creativity and courageous determination within these aspects that can spur us to act on desires for new growth and dynamic exploration. However, it will be vital to keep in mind the tendency of Mercury retrograde periods to bring delays, so be patient and do your best to not add fuel to fires of frustration when events do not move as quickly as you had expected. Positively, Mercury retrograde periods can help cultivate incredible focus directed toward research, writing, and other mental pursuits when we are able to make time and space free from distractions. As long as we don’t insist on making fast progress, Mercury in its retrograde path through Leo can facilitate work on creative projects that can eventually manifest powerful results in the months ahead. Rather than cursing Mercury retrograde when we lose track of something or are surprised by a sudden twist of fate, see where the unexpected turns take you and discover whatever revelations your mind becomes opened to receive.

Mercury will remain retrograde in the first decan of Leo until July 19 when it will return to the watery sign of Cancer. Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Spotlight” to the first face of Leo, describing its power to focus massive attention through the role, mask, or persona we bear in public performance for an audience. Since Mercury retrograde will be stoking the flames of the first face of Leo as the Sun forms a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon on July 10 and then eclipses the Capricorn Moon on July 16, take time to contemplate whatever has been feeling inauthentic regarding the persona you have been engaging the wider world through. What aspects of soul and psyche have you been neglecting in your pursuit of worldly ambition or insistence on doing things a certain way to conform with external expectations?

Mercury retrograde in the fire of the first face of Leo can be utilized to burn off and purge however we have allowed ourselves to stray from our essential purpose, or however we have been restricting ourselves from pursuing and achieving what we want to create.  In particular, whatever fears and blockages have arisen as barriers during the recent months of Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon aligning in Capricorn will become triggered during the Lunar Eclipse in Capricorn on July 16. While we will need to face and deal with issues of necessity during this time, the sleight of hand offered by Mercury retrograde can help open a new awareness for how to handle responsibilities while also nurturing the life we desire to cultivate. After Mercury moves backward into the lunar-ruled sign of Cancer on July 19, a few days after the lunar eclipse, we will need to sift through irrational feelings and messages from our depths that will be able to ultimately help guide us forward into a more fulfilling direction.

Remedios Varo-Personaje-En-Lancha-1957

Remedios Varos (1957) Personaje En Lancha

From Flames to Waves

“We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, an effort which no one can spare us.”

— Marcel Proust from Within a Budding Grove volume two of In Search of Lost Time 

Mercury will return to Cancer on July 19, making the incongruous transition from the hot and dry fire sign of Leo into the cold and moist water sign of Cancer. Whereas the scorching, fiery light of the Sun rules Leo, Mercury will submit to rulership from the cool, receptive light of the Moon within the waters of Cancer. Mercury slowly moving retrograde under rulership of the Moon brings it under the influence of the constantly changing lunar phases, meaning our perception will be pulled even more so than normal into a realm of changing feelings and thoughts, emotional needs and desires. It will be necessary to make an effort to gain objective clarity, yet the sway of our subjective senses will be able to make meaning from an inner turn toward intuition, impressions, empathy, and imagination. With Mercury at the very end of its cycle within the lunar waters of Cancer, our thoughts will be sensitized to the unconscious depths of memories, dreams, and nonlinear sensations.

While Mercury will station direct and return to visibility as a Morning Star at the end of July, it will remain in the third decan of Cancer from July 19 through August 11 when it will finally return to Leo. Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces gave the image of “The Overflowing Cup” to the third face of Cancer, linking it with both the endless energy of the natural world as well as the danger of facing scarcity within societal systems in which people compete for limited material resources. The importance Coppock noted for being a “conduit for luxury, not its endpoint” through investing any excess of luxury one accumulates into additional good works relates well to the societal upheaval which will likely correspond with eclipses volatilizing the combination of Saturn and Pluto with the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn. As Mercury moves retrograde and stations direct within the third face of Cancer, consider how its regenerative process may reshape your work to not only be more personally fulfilling but to also provide resources to benefit others.

Mercury retrograde will reenter the third face of Cancer only a couple of days before it becomes regenerated through its conjunction with the Sun on July 21, placing it at the end of a cycle similar to a Dark Moon. Fittingly, the Hellenistic text 36 Airs named the lunar goddess Hecate as presiding in the third face of Cancer. Hecate has always been honored at the crossroads during the dark phase of the Moon as well as when facing the darkness of the unknown. The wise crone and dark goddess who rules over all lunar phases and all realms of the upper and underworld, Hecate for ages has been available to call for regenerative guidance and assistance during dark nights of the soul. With Mercury going through a death and rebirth process in the inner, watery home of the Moon, we will need to discern inner guidance from the deep stirring of our emotions. Old memories that bear a soulful message will likely demand attention and call us to re-integrate them into the way our regenerating perspective is reshaping our life narrative.

“When from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”

— Marcel Proust from Swann’s Way volume one of In Search of Lost Time

Mercury Retrograde in Cancer

Remedios Varo (1945) Icono

Chthonic Cazimi in Cancer

“On the way there a couple of startled wings fluttered, and that was all. One goes there alone. It is a lofty building made entirely of open spaces, a building which sways all the time, but is never able to fall. The sun, changed into a thousand suns, drifts in through the open slivers. And an inverse law of gravity takes hold in the play of light: this house floats anchored in the sky, and what falls falls upward. It makes you turn around. In the woods it is all right to grieve. It’s all right to see the old truths, which we usually keep packed away in the luggage. My roles down there in the deep places fly up, hang like dried skulls in an ancestor hut on a remote Melanesian island. A childlike light around the terrifying trophies. Woods are mild that way.”

– A Place in the Woods by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robert Bly

On July 21, Mercury will unite with the Sun at 28º28′ Cancer during its inferior conjunction in which Mercury aligns in between our orbit with the Sun, as close to us in orbit as it is possible for Mercury to be. Astrological texts named this time of rebirth cazimi, or being in the heart of the Sun, when Mercury is seated upon the throne of the solar ruler and revitalized with the creative potency of our solar light. This is a moment of solar re-seeding in which Mercury is regenerated and purified within a place Demetra George has described as the “protected space at the heart of the Sun . . . the innermost holy chamber of the mystery initiations.” As a result, July 21 will be especially potent in terms of turning within for reflection and contemplation regarding all of the material stirred up by the eclipses of July. We may not only set intention for release and to manage whatever is demanding our attention, we may also plant the seeds of whatever we wish to cultivate during the coming cycle of Mercury.

At the same time that Mercury is being reborn in the heart of the Sun, the disseminating Moon in Pisces will be conjoining Neptune. The Moon’s union with Neptune supports setting time and space aside to luxuriate within your senses and imagination, to meditate away from the monotony of daily responsibilities when possible. It will also be a potent time to pay attention to dreams or actively work with any recent dream images, as well as contemplate messages received from signs and synchronicities in your environment.

There is a compelling connection between the conjunction of Neptune and the Moon with the Sabian symbol for the degree where the chthonic cazimi of Mercury occurs. The Sabian symbol for Cancer 29° is “a greek muse weighing new-born twins in golden scales,” a symbol which Dane Rudhyar described as involving “the intuitive weighing of alternatives.” Rudhyar wrote that since it’s “the Muse that is doing the weighing, it is apparent that forces deeper or higher than the intellect are actually at work- the intuitive mind, or what Jung calls the anima, i.e. the psychic function which relates ego-consciousness to the collective Unconscious.” Rudhyar further noted this symbol can also imply that we need to sort through what “may be more a dream or ideal than a practical reality” within choices needing to be made, an important warning to keep in mind when the Moon is under the sway of Neptune.

In addition to the Moon conjoining Neptune at the time of Mercury’s union with the Sun, Venus in Cancer will be forming an opposition with Pluto. The presence of Venus less than six degrees away from the rebirth of Mercury is pivotal, for Mercury has turned backward in order to complete an additional union with Venus on July 24. The mutual application of Mercury retrograde with Venus signifies a sudden insight or turn of events. Both Venus and Mercury are in the middle of a regenerative process of purification, with the opposition from Venus with Pluto dredging up unconscious patterns that have been impacting relationships from hidden realms within. There is incredible depth within these aspects that will be worth the time made for reflection and sifting through the intensification of desire that will be stirred. Though both Mercury and Venus are not at full strength during their union, their meeting can bring healing and nurturance to whatever needs tending.

Remedios Varo-Trasmundo-1955

Remedios Varo (1955) Transmundo

Morning Star of Lunar Tides

One March day I walked down to the lake shore to listen. / The ice was blue as the sky. And breaking up in the sun. /  The sun whispers into a microphone under the ice. / There’s a seething and burbling. Far out it sounds like a sheet / being snapped. / The whole thing is like History: our present. We are lowered / into it, we listen . . .

Radical and Reactionary live together as in a miserable marriage, / diminished by each other, leaning on each other. / But we, their children, have to find our own road. / Each problem cries out in a private language! / Walk down any path where there is a trace of truth.

In a field not far from the subdivisions / a newspaper has been lying for months, full of news. / It is aging because of days and nights, rain and sun. / It’s on its way to becoming a plant, a cabbage head. It’s starting / to join the field, / like an old memory gradually changing into you.

– from About History by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robert Bly

From July 22 through the end of July, Mercury will remain invisible until it returns to visibility as a Morning Star around the same time that it stations direct on July 31. The return of Mercury’s light will bring important messages to receive and integrate, highlighting the importance of making time and space for reflection and paying close attention to the signs we receive in our daily travel. The date of July 31 signals a major transition from the eclipse season of July, as a New Moon in Leo will occur within the same hour in which Mercury will station direct. This will be a potent date to deepen the understanding gained during Mercury’s movement retrograde, as well as setting intentions for the forthcoming lunar cycle, yet the stationary presence of Mercury suggests we will remain in a liminal state of recovery for a time before moving stridently forward with progress in August.

While Mercury will station direct at 23º56′ Cancer, Pluto will be moving retrograde away from an opposition with Mercury at 21º28′ Capricorn. Although Mercury will not reach an exact opposition with Pluto, its intensity will be deeply felt as the transiting Moon in Cancer will pass through an opposition with Pluto and a conjunction with Mercury on July 30. As Mercury stations in the final days of July in opposition with Pluto, we can expect a final upsurge of information to enter our awareness from subconscious depths and unexpected sources, one more installment of whatever material was stirred up by the Lunar Eclipse in Capricorn on July 16. The tension between Mercury and Pluto can facilitate penetrating underneath the surface of conventions, probing beyond societal boundaries to understand the essence of whatever you have been exploring.

Significantly, Mercury will be stationing direct in range of a conjunction with the North Nodes of Saturn and Pluto. This is of vital importance due to the fact that the alignment of Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon in recent months has ben occurring in alignment with the South Nodes of Saturn and Pluto, a configuration that has been dredging up intense societal issues that have roots within the oppressive cycles of civilized history. With Mercury activating the North Node side of Cancer, it may feel like peeling off the dead skin of perception you have been attached to using when interpreting meaning, especially those aspects heavily conditioned by external influences within your surrounding civilization. While you may initially feel vulnerable due to releasing perspectives that have brought security to your identity, you can simultaneously begin to feel revitalized by embracing a more authentic way of understanding.

Mercury will reach maximum elongation as a Morning Star on August 9 at 29º Cancer, marking its entrance into what Gary Caton named the rubedo phase of its alchemical, retrograde process in his book Hermetica Tryptycha. As we work to integrate the insights and changes in perspective realized during Mercury’s retrograde journey, Caton noted that we should expect to endure a phase of chaotic volatility as we make the shift into a new way of being as Mercury picks up speed and moves through its Morning Star phase. After Jupiter in Sagittarius stations direct on August 11, Mercury will return to Leo and begin applying toward a harmonious trine aspect that will facilitate taking ownership over creating what you want to bring into the world free from the weight of however you have held yourself back in the past.

By the time of the Aquarius Full Moon on August 15, Mercury will be crossing the threshold of the degree in Leo in which it stationed retrograde at the beginning of July, finally completing its catalyzing square aspect with Uranus on August 16. The month of August holds dramatically different astrological meaning than the month of July, with a strong focus on fiery inspiration and creativity. The more we can utilize July for clearing and reshaping our perspective, the more we will be able to manifest powerful changes and productive results in August and September.

References

Caton, Gary. (2017). Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year. Rubedo Press.

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

George, Demetra. (2019). Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice: a Manual of Traditional Techniques. Rubedo Press.

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

Tranströmer, Tomas. (2001). The Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Tranströmer. Selected and translated by Robert Bly. Graywolf Press.

Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer

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Scarab (ca 1550 – 1479 BC)

Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer

The Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer on July 2 is full of change-inducing force, corresponding with an influx of events which can rapidly shift narratives. The solar eclipse will be visible mostly in Chile and Argentina, and so while its impact will be most potent in South America you do not need to be living in the direct path of the eclipse to experience the vortex of change that arrives with eclipse season. Those with natal placements near 11º of Cancer, Capricorn, Aries, and Libra will especially feel the effect in their lives immediately, but whatever areas of life are connected with Cancer and Capricorn in your natal chart will be undergo accelerated developments between the Cancer Solar Eclipse on July 2 and the Capricorn Lunar Eclipse on July 16. During a total solar eclipse the light of our Sun is extinguished by the eclipsing Moon, temporarily turning day into night. Those who have witnessed a total solar eclipse know the indescribable Mystery of its apparition, and similarly our experiences surrounding the syzygy can feel mysterious in the way they pull us into transitions. While turning inward is advisable during the window of an eclipse, life events tend to become more dramatic and unexpected in the week surrounding an eclipse and demand response and assertion.

Cardinal signs such as Cancer initiate the seasons, and so the Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer will make an immediate, noticeable impact and will coincide with quickly changing circumstances. Since Cancer is a water sign we can expect a flooding of emotions and feelings to come with the changes, with our sensitivities heightened making us feel more vulnerable than normal. Since Cancer is ruled by the Moon, and the Moon is eclipsing the Sun, irrational feelings as well as memories and sentiments from the past may emerge from hidden places in our psyche. Even if some of the feelings that come up feel uncomfortable at first, allow yourself sit with, process, and contemplate whatever emerges. While there will be some impressions arising that need to be released, there will also be nuggets of insight to discover within the sifting that will help open new opportunities for growth in the season ahead. There is a gravity of dark matter that comes with total solar eclipses that pull our soul inexorably towards things whether we consciously intend to or not.

It’s often helpful to focus on emptying as we enter eclipse season and getting in touch with the type of cosmic void that has been described by ancient mystics as well as modern thinkers such as Stanislav Grof as a fertile emptiness which underlies and gives birth to everything. Just as the solar light of the Sun becomes enveloped in darkness during an eclipse, so may old matters and patterns become dissolved in the weeks surrounding an eclipse. The potential to liberate oneself from old patterns is particularly emphasized during the coming eclipse season, as the Sun in Cancer will be conjoining the North Node of the Moon while Mercury in Leo will be stationing retrograde in the week following the solar eclipse, while forming a catalytic square aspect with Uranus in Taurus and a conjunction with Mars in Leo. Take time in the week following the eclipse to contemplate whatever needs clearing in order to create space for an influx of vivifying growth. It will not be a time to attempt to push forward and force change but rather to find a way to flow with the currents.

In fact, the pending Mercury retrograde in Leo and Cancer will be a key catalyst within the process of change underway.  As eclipse season is typically defined as the period in which the Sun transits within 18º of the lunar nodes (since that is the window within which a new moon can be an eclipse), it is notable that the Leo Sun will finally exit the eclipse season threshold around July 28 at 5º Leo in a square aspect with Uranus, the same degree that Mercury stations retrograde on July 7. In addition, just as the Leo Sun leaves eclipse season Mercury retrograde will become visible again as a Morning Star while simultaneously beginning to station direct. As a result, it is likely that the numerous storylines stirred up by the eclipses will be continuing to develop significantly all the way to the end of July. While Mercury going retrograde at the same time can increase feelings of volatility, it can also help dislodge us from stuck places and help us discover inspiration and motivation to embark in a dynamic creative direction we had not previously considered undertaking.

lambspring dragon

From the Book of Lambspring (1599)

The color black that overcomes the golden light of the sun during an eclipse has ancient associations with death and the underworld, an experience for those believing in reincarnation that also holds the promise of rebirth. Black also resonates with the fecundity found underground in our living earth, and indeed the term alchemy finds its root in the dark fertility of soil along the Nile River. In Egyptian cosmology, the sun faces death in the regenerative underworld of Night at midnight, before being reborn at daybreak. Aaron Cheak wrote an essay included in The Celestial Art which described the primordial waters of Nun as hosting the rebirth of our solar light, a sphere that is also associated with the primeval chaos serpent and “constitutes the very matrix in which reality and existence gestates.” Serpents of chaos and dragons also have ancient associations with the lunar nodes, as both the sun and the moon become devoured in shadow whenever a new or full moon aligns with the lunar nodes.

The Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer on July 2 is aligned with the North Node of the Moon, also known as Rahu or the Head of the Dragon. As a result we may notice new hungers for growth in the weeks ahead, new desires emerging which call us to pursue new opportunities and ambitions. Just as something about our old solar identity, the way we have been cohering our personality, will become eclipsed, there can also be an activation of previously hidden feelings, sentiments, and intuition that once awakened begin to drive us toward to making new choices and following new directions. However, since Mercury will be stationing retrograde on July 7 while forming catalyzing aspects with Uranus and Mars, while there will likely be impulses to follow breakthrough insights we will need to keep constant awareness for the tricks and sleights of hand that Mercury retrograde will be providing that can serve as important guidance for how we need to adjust and respond.

Just as eclipses are associated with dragons, so are eclipses also grouped in families according to the Saros cycle, which we can also think about as a sort of family of dragons. The Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer is part of a Saros cycle which began with a partial solar eclipse in 991 and only has included eclipses aligned with the North Node of the Moon, with the previous one in the series occurring on 21 June 2001. Bernadette Brady described it as an “over-excessive eclipse family” which can bring information that transforms circumstances and can spark anxiety as well as obsession. Brady wrote that while this eclipse family can be positive in correlating with desire to take on a large enterprise, we need to be careful to not get carried away heedlessly.

In addition to considering the eclipse family the Total Solar Eclipse belongs to, it can also be helpful to reflect upon the previous times that the lunar nodes were in Cancer and Capricorn and hosting eclipses. From August 2009 through March 2011 the transiting South Node of the Moon was in Cancer with the North Node of the Moon in Capricorn; from April 2000 through October 2001 the transiting South Node of the Moon was in Capricorn while the North Node of the Moon was in Cancer. If you can notice a pattern of changes that took place during these times of previous eclipses in Cancer and Capricorn, see if there are aspects that relate to the way you can tell your present life story is beginning to shift. In particular, the previous Cancer Solar Eclipse and Capricorn Lunar Eclipse that occurred in June and July of 2001 have an additional connection to the end of the Saturn and Pluto cycle we are experiencing now, as in 2001 it was the midpoint of the cycle with Saturn forming an opposition to Pluto.

Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams I 1961-5 by Ibrahim El-Salahi born 1930

Ibrahim El-Salahi, Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams I

“What our age thinks of as the ‘shadow’ and inferior part of the psyche contains more than something merely negative. The very fact that through self-knowledge, that is, by exploring our own souls, we come upon the instincts and their world of imagery should throw some light on the powers slumbering in the psyche, of which we are seldom aware so long as all goes well. They are potentialities of the greatest dynamism, and it depends entirely on the preparedness and attitude of the conscious mind whether the irruption of these forces, and the images and ideas associated with them, will tend towards construction or catastrophe.”

— C. G. Jung, from The Undiscovered Self

The component making the upcoming eclipse season especially intense involves the intersection of the planetary nodes with the alignment of Saturn and Pluto with the South Node of the Moon.  Saturn is in range of a conjunction with the South Node of Saturn while Pluto is also conjoining the South Node of Pluto, meaning the orbital arcs of both celestial bodies are descending downward across the ecliptic and the path of our orbit around the Sun. This has been creating an intensification of the difficult gravity that always comes when Saturn and Pluto come to the end of their cycle, bringing a deeply karmic feeling of having to face issues of civilization and systematic oppression with deep roots in the ancient past. The Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer begins an eclipse cycle that will peak with a Lunar Eclipse on July 16 in which the Moon will be eclipsed in Capricorn while also occulting Saturn and Pluto.

Dane Rudhyar wrote that when planets conjoin their own south node, we experience the entire history of their orbital arc being released: thus we have been overwhelmed and saturated with all things signified by Saturn and Pluto in recent months. Vitally, Rudhyar theorized that when this happens we can experience a seeding of new values related to positive aspects of the planets conjoining their south node, as well as the toxicity and “negative existential results” of their cycle. Thus during the coming eclipse season we will be simultaneously facing issues in which to utilize the empowerment and tenacious, disciplined determination of Saturn and Pluto while also witnessing the horrific impact from oppressively organized political, military, economic, and social forces.

As Richard Tarnas described in Cosmos and Psyche, “the widespread sense of victimization and suffering under the impact of cataclysmic and oppressive forces of history” that correlate with the Saturn and Pluto cycle can lead to many people feeling anxiously constrained as if their life is out of their control and being determined by historical, political, economic, and other impersonal societal forces. Tarnas made the key insight that within the same individual, group, or nation there can be a deeply felt wounding from violation or defeat that simultaneously can also constellate desire to prove one’s capacity to violently fight back if necessary.  As the eclipses further will be triggering Saturn and Pluto, we will be facing questions of what we need to cultivate within civilization in order to meet the needs of people, while also recognizing that numerous aspects of the old order must now break down and decay in order to clear space for the needed new structures to take shape.

“Even today people are largely unconscious of the fact that every individual is a cell in the structure of various international organisms and is therefore causally implicated in their conflicts. He knows that as an individual being he is more or less meaningless and feels himself the victim of uncontrollable forces, but, on the other hand, he harbors within himself a dangerous shadow and adversary who is involved as an invisible helper in the dark machinations of the political monster. It is in the nature of political bodies always to see the evil in the opposite group, just as the individual has an ineradicable tendency to get rid of everything he does not know and does not want to know by foisting it off on somebody else.

Nothing has a more divisive and alienating effect upon society than this moral complacency and lack of responsibility, and nothing promotes understanding and rapprochement more than the mutual withdrawal of projections.”

— C.G. Jung, from The Undiscovered Self

Neptune in Pisces is in a place of being able to mediate the polarity of the eclipses, as it is forming a trine to the North Node of the Moon and the Cancer Solar Eclipse, while also forming a sextile to the South Node of the Moon, Saturn, and Pluto. Furthermore, during the time of the upcoming Capricorn Lunar Eclipse on July 16, Neptune will also be forming a trine with Venus in Cancer as it conjoins the North Node of the Moon. In reference to the negative potentialities described by Tarnas and Jung above, Neptune can correlate in many with shadowy projections and being consumed by illusive conditioning from societal structures.  However, there is a profound potential for Neptune in Pisces to be an imaginal ally in not only sustaining belief in the potential to find solutions and mediate discord, but to also envision ways to creatively respond to difficulties without denial and escapism. Neptune’s role in the eclipse supports showing compassion to others who are struggling as well as make time to nurture and calm your own anxieties enough so that you can respond to events from a place of creativity rather than fear.

Dorothea Tanning Dream of Luxury

Dorothea Tanning (1944) Dream of Luxury

Venus is at the very end of Gemini at the time of the Total Solar Eclipse and enters Cancer the next day. In between eclipses, Venus will be approaching a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon and an opposition with Saturn which it will complete at the same time as the Capricorn Lunar Eclipse on July 16. Simultaneously, Mercury will station retrograde on July 7 as a visible Evening Star and then will begin descending under the beams of the Sun into its invisible phase a few days later. This means that in between eclipses, both Venus and Mercury will be undergoing the regenerative purification and stripping away of their underworld phases.  Thus the irrational feelings, potent dream images, and reawakened passions that arise during the coming eclipse season can be utilized as part of a process of revisioning our values and the ways in which we make meaning in our life.

A particularly challenging period in between eclipses will be July 8 and 9, as Mars will conjoin Mercury retrograde in Leo in range of a square with Uranus in Taurus at the same time that the First Quarter Moon in Libra forms a square aspect with the Sun, lunar nodes, Saturn, and Pluto. However, the coming eclipse season in general has numerous transits intersecting which have the potential of corresponding with frustrating experiences which will make us question why we are doing things. It will be best to make an effort to set aside time as often as possible for reflection and anything that helps you calm down, ground, and process. For example, we may be able to realize ways we have been acting due to trying to fit in with our conception of how to be successful within the system we are working that are actually at odds with our authentic approach and expression. There has been so much emphasis in recent months on Saturn and Pluto impacting the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn that the solar eclipse setting off the Cancer side of the North Node of the Moon can help open awareness to new ways of doing things that will be in greater alignment with what we feel inspired by rather than being preoccupied by the opinions and judgment of others.

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3 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Cancer 2 Decan

The second face of Cancer where the Total Solar Eclipse occurs is associated with the Three of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  The merry image of dancing women evokes the three graces and 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 nurturance in order to create an incubating space that can bring forth joy, beauty, and abundance.  With a Total Solar Eclipse impacting this decan, we will want to consider whatever we have been letting in as well as keeping out from our life with the barriers we have erected to protect whatever is most important to us. It’s likely we will need to restructure and renegotiate boundaries in order to cultivate the inner process of creativity and intimacy we desire. It will also be helpful to find ways of finding joy with others similar to the image of the Three of Cups as a way of navigating through the difficult astrological terrain on the horizon.

As the second decan of Cancer is ruled by Mercury, it further highlights the fact that Mercury will be stationing retrograde less than a week after the eclipse and then shifting into its underworld, psychopomp role of guiding us through a regenerative and liminal process of death and rebirth. Interestingly, the Liber Hermetis described the image of the second face of Cancer as having the body of a vulture with the face of the great goddess Isis wearing a crown. In part we can imagine how this image connects with the brilliantly bright fixed star Sirius which was associated with Isis and heralded the flooding of the Nile, as well as the significance of vulture goddesses within Egyptian cosmology. Vultures connect the upper wold with the underworld through the eating of the dead, and in the story of Isis searching for her dismembered lover and twin Osiris she also transformed into a Kite, a raptor which is also known to feed on the dead. Similarly, with Mercury shifting retrograde in between eclipses it will be necessary to undergo a cathartic, underworld experience in July that may feel difficult at times but also holds the potential to break us free from ways in which we have become stagnant.

In addition, the Hellenistic text 36 Airs ascribed the figure of Heracles to the second face of Cancer, a legendary solar hero who connects with the constellation myth of Cancer. The great goddess Hera sent the crab to attack Heracles as he was engaged in battle with the Hydra, and after Heracles destroyed the crab Hera placed it into the sky as a constellation for its service to her. During a Total Solar Eclipse just as the solar light of our Sun is consumed by darkness from the fertile void, so may the way we have been identifying as a solar hero in our life become pulled down into nonlinear depths to be stripped away and regenerated. Allow the death of however you have been cohering a persona to navigate the world of external ambitions so that a more authentic one may be reformed in the coming month.

Within the polarity of Cancer and Capricorn becoming so intensely activated, it will be necessary to focus on finding ways to contain and process the emotional flooding and intense feelings that may arise during the coming eclipse season. Rather than seeking stability within external sources and giving our power away to others in order to grasp at security, it will be essential to act from a place of one’s own sense of inner security and authority. As C.G. Jung famously wrote in The Undiscovered Self, “A million zeros joined together do not, unfortunately, add up to one. Ultimately everything depends on the quality of the individual, but our fatally short-sighted age thinks only in terms of large numbers and mass organizations, though one would thing that the world had seen more than enough of what a well-disciplined mob can do in the hands of a single madman.”

References

Brady, Bernadette. (1999). Predictive Astrology: the Eagle and the Lark. Weiser Books.

The Celestial Art. (2018). Edited by Austin Coppock and Daniel Schulke. Three Hands Press.

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

Jung, C.G. (1990). The Undiscovered Self. Princeton University Press.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1971). The Planetary and Lunar Nodes. CSA Press.

Tarnas, Richard. (2007). Cosmos and Psyche. Plume.

July 2019 Eclipses with Cassandra Tyndall

July Eclipse titlecard

July 2019 Eclipse Video

We are on the threshold of a particularly potent eclipse season. Unlike our last eclipse season in January, these eclipses hone in on a specific area of your birth chart due to the solar eclipse on July 2 being in Cancer, and the lunar eclipse on July 16 being in Capricorn. This leads to the eclipses activating opposing houses in your birth chart, such as your 1st and 7th houses or your 11th and 5th houses.

In this video, my good friend Cassandra and I explore the themes of the eclipses and what to expect over the coming weeks, as well as some of the other major transits occurring in the month of  July.

If you like this video, please feel free to subscribe to follow my site with your email address, subscribe to Cassandra’s youtube channel,  or discover more about Cassandra’s stellar work at her website.

Full Moon in Sagittarius: Tides of Jupiter & Neptune

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Rufino Tamayo Landscape with Moon

Sagittarius Full Moon

The Full Moon in Sagittarius on June 17, 2019 illuminates the intersection between our beliefs and ideals with the reality of our current experience. It’s a perfect time to take a contemplative look at oneself and one’s behavior in the world to note however we can make changes to be more aligned with the values that are most important to us. If we are undergoing any disillusioning experiences, the lunation can also bring light to how our personal vision and perception needs to be readjusted in order to flow in greater harmony with the life around us. The Sagittarius Full Moon can also help open a wider view of anything we have been struggling with in our day to day efforts at survival and managing the difficulties of life. Rather than denying the suffering happening around us, the lunation can facilitate acknowledgment of present struggles within a larger perspective of the greater cycles of time we are traversing. Let your mind wander beyond the short term goals of the moment in order to envision ideas of what you want to create and where you wish life to lead you in the next few years.

The Sagittarius Full Moon is at a pivotal point within the Jupiter and Neptune cycle, as Jupiter retrograde will form its second exact last quarter square aspect with Neptune on June 16. Previously, Jupiter and Neptune formed the first of three square aspects in the sequence on January 13,  2019 at 15° with both direct; Jupiter and Neptune will do so again a third and final time on September 21 at 17° with Neptune retrograde. Jupiter and Neptune form a conjunction once every thirteen years within their cycle, typically in a successive sign of the zodiac, with their last conjunction occurring in 2009 between 24º – 27º Aquarius. Viewing the 2009 alignment as a seed of the new vision being birthed by Neptune and Jupiter, we are now at the point of harvesting the meaning of their cycle and utilizing the knowledge gained from our experience to reorient and reorder our vision for the future. Dane Rudhyar believed that the Jupiter and Neptune cycle is one of the most important cycles to pay attention to, as it reveals the ripple effect that comes from changes in individual perception and meaning-making impacting the wider collective.

While the Jupiter and Neptune cycle is being amplified by the Sagittarius Full Moon, it is taking place within a wider context of Saturn and Pluto coming together at the end of their cycle while forming an opposition with Mercury and Mars in Cancer alongside the transiting lunar nodes.  Following the Full Moon, the moon will begin waning toward the Total Solar Eclipse in Cancer that will occur on July 2, bringing us into the strange quality of time found in eclipse season and a further intensification of the polarity between Cancer and Capricorn. The divisiveness and acrimony in global politics, the decay of old societal structures, the obsessive attempts to consolidate greater power by those in power, the heartfelt anger and outrage over the myriad forms of oppression and injustice occurring, are all outer signs of deep internal changes beginning to take shape.  Allow the light of the Sagittarius Full Moon to show you what elements of life need your full engagement, what needs to be protected and nurtured, and where you need to share and be more giving.

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Nike of Samothrace (2nd Century BC)

Jupiter in Sagittarius rules the Full Moon while forming its catalytic square aspect with a stationing Neptune in Pisces. Neptune will station retrograde about four days after the full moon on June 21, which means that the archetypal influence of Neptune will be saturating the astrological landscape in the days surrounding the Sagittarius Full Moon. Moreover, while the Full Moon is separating from a conjunction with Jupiter, the true node of Black Moon Lilith is within five degrees of Neptune in Pisces. Altogether this points to the necessity of contemplating the bedrock of our thoughts, the oftentimes hidden beliefs that source the way we imagine and perceive the possibilities available. It’s clear in current events that many people around the world are clinging to old, outdated beliefs about the past they have distorted in their minds such as those consumed with nationalistic and racial pride and hubris. At the same time, there are traditional elements of our past and ancestry that can help us mediate strife and create a healthier and more fruitful lifestyle.

Allow the light of the Sagittarius Full Moon to shine upon your inner convictions, those ideas and ideals you are usually unwilling to question and tend to self-righteously act from. Do you wish to harness the power of creation for your own benefit or instead attempt to flow with natural forces in a way that can help others as well as yourself negotiate challenges? In the season ahead, with the intensity of the coming eclipses aligning with Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn, there is no doubt that there will be tumult to contend with. In many situations it will be necessary to fight with resistance in order to protect what is held most dear. Let the Sagittarius Full Moon illuminate what will be worth fighting for and whatever can be let go and released.

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Dorothea Tanning (1947) Maternity

Following the peak of the Full Moon on June 17, the waning Moon will occult Saturn in Capricorn on June 18 and then occult Pluto in Capricorn on June 19. This is due to the Moon aligning with its own south node while Saturn and Pluto are also aligning with their own south nodes. Simultaneously, Mercury will form an exact conjunction with Mars in Cancer on June 18, with both Mercury and Mars forming an exact opposition with Pluto on June 19. The volatility of this configuration will be amplified due to the fullness of the Moon, as the silvery Moon is the ruler of Mercury, Mars, and the North Node of the Moon. Thoughts can be irrational, dreams more intense, emotions more unhinged and exacerbated when the Moon is at its peak light, even more so when the Moon is ruling Mars and Mercury as they conjoin the North Node and oppose Saturn and Pluto. The loosening of passions can become difficult due to the widespread destruction signified by the rancorous configuration assembled around the lunar nodes.

The gift of having Mercury as an Evening Star aligning with Mars in Cancer is the wry wink and smile of the trickster Hermes. Moreover, the union of Mercury and Mars with the North Node of the Moon is also forming a flowing trine with Neptune stationing in Pisces. The more we can have a sense of humor about what’s happening, the more we can be willing to put our ego and pride aside when it is drawing us into petty conflict, the more smoothly we will be able to navigate the swirling tides that will be following in the wake of the full moon. In fact, the volatility of these aspects also makes this an incredibly creative time in which breakthrough ideas can be dislodged from stuck and stagnant places. If possible, find a creative outlet through which to transfigure fraught or explosive emotions into transmission of artistic expression, or take on a challenging physical expedition. There has been so much emphasis on the Capricorn side of the lunar nodes for so long with Saturn and Pluto camped out there, the dynamic onrush of Mercury and Mars across the North Node of the Moon can bring a productive jolt forward.

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Kehinde Wiley, An Economy of Grace, Princess Victoire of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

Around the time of the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere and the Winter Solstice in the southern hemisphere on June 21, Venus in Gemini will descend under the beams of the sun into its invisible phase. As a result Venus is on the precipice of descending into the Mysteries of its upcoming underworld phase at the time of the Full Moon. Venus will eventually be re-seeded in the sacred heart of the Leo Sun on August 13 at 21º07′ Leo, and then will re-emerge in visibility as an Evening Star around the end of September. At the same time as the solstice, Neptune will station retrograde in Pisces while Venus in Gemini simultaneously forms an opposition with Jupiter in Sagittarius and a first quarter square with Neptune in Pisces. Adding to the mystery being nurtured by Venus, Venus in Gemini is forming a shadowy antiscia aspect with the Mercury and Mars conjunction as well as a contra-antiscia aspect with Saturn in Capricorn in the days surrounding the Sagittarius Full Moon.

Drink in the final light that Venus has to offer as a Morning Star in the days following the Sagittarius Full Moon. In Gemini, Venus promotes holding a multiplicity of perspectives and a willingness to question and contest dogmatic diatribes and stubborn viewpoints. Venus in Gemini finds depth in the connections found between what appear to be differences on the surface. Listen as closely as possible to your inner voice, the nudges of your intuition, the signs and omens of nature that cross your path, for the current phase of Venus signals a shedding of the values that have been prioritized and an expansive revisioning. Ask yourself what you can do differently, what potential path is available that up until now you have believed to be impossible due to your old conception of circumstances. Venus entering its invisible phase brings us into a long period of regeneration in which we can reconceptualize how we have been engaging in our relationships and work. Rather than seeking rapid success in the season ahead, focus instead on sustaining effort that will rebuild and reconfigure the foundation you launch yourself from.

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10 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

The third face of Sagittarius where the Full Moon in Sagittarius culminates is associated with the Ten of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. Human toil, endurance and perseverance are some of the immediate associations evoked by the image of determination, and so there is strong alignment between the 10 of Wands with the astrological atmosphere of Mars and Mercury opposing Saturn and Pluto during the Sagittarius Full Moon. In tarot this card has been associated with oppressive dynamics and limitations, and in fact is called Oppression in the Thoth deck.  Fittingly, the third decan of Sagittarius is ruled by Saturn, a planet that involves the type of difficult circumstances that force us to cultivate endurance and new structures of support.

Austin Coppock ascribed the image of “A Horse’s Skull” to the third face of Sagittarius in his book 36 Faces, describing how it reveals the unification of mind, body, and spirit through committed work and effort yoked to a goal.  Coppock also wrote that the final face of Sagittarius brings a reckoning regarding whatever needs to be sacrificed in pursuit of desires, noting that “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.” Both the Picatrix and Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy warn of the “evil inclinations” that can be harbored within this decan for those overly desperate to achieve objectives. Coppock described the intoxicating pursuit of victory that is found in this face, noting a need to realize when the “desperate fervor” of this decan’s power is appropriate and when it is inappropriate and will exact “a heavy toll.”

The Hellenistic text The 36 Airs of the Zodiac placed Ananke, the primordial goddess of Necessity, within the third face of Sagittarius. Ananke is the mother of the Fates and the overseer of souls incarnating in Plato’s Myth of Er and is the primordial mother of creation in some strands of Orphic cosmology who governs the cyclic nature of the cosmos. Ananke’s presence in the third face of Sagittarius which holds the full light of the Moon further amplifies the fateful feelings incited by Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn aligning with the lunar nodes and the season of eclipses on the horizon. It will not be possible to hide from the watchful eye of Ananke, meaning that whatever life dictates needs our attention we must do and follow through with full consciousness. Though there are things to do we simply must do, issues to face we simply must face, there can also be revelation and insight discovered through the effort of will applied diligently to the task at hand. As the traditional Irish blessing goes, “May the road rise up to meet you.”

References

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

 

 

 

Mercury Cycles podcast interview on Holes to Heaven

Holes to Heaven title card - Mercury Cycles

I was interviewed by Adam Sommer on May 23, 2019 for his Holes to Heaven podcast about Mercury cycles. We talk about Mercury’s synodic cycle and how to begin applying its phases to the secondary progressed chart.

If you become more interested in Mercury in the secondary progressed chart, I have a recording available to purchase from my site in the “store” section from UAC 2018. It’s called “The Light and Shadow of Mercury in the Secondary Progressed Chart,” and I will send you a copy of the slides as well. It’s much more clear how to use it with more details and examples than we were able to provide in this podcast.

I’m also available to give you a consultation about Mercury in your secondary progressed chart if you would like to get deeper with its meaning in your life.

Click below to listen:

 

New Moon in Taurus: Plowing Fields

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Robin of Modern Times (1860) by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

Taurus New Moon

The New Moon in Taurus on May 4 initiates a new lunar cycle from the middle of Taurus, the cross quarter point of Spring in the northern hemisphere otherwise known as Beltane. Pollination, burgeoning blooming, and the steady patience and diligent tending needed for cultivating gardens intersect with magical notions of veils being thinned between our usual reality with that of fairy spirits and intermediary daimons. Whether you live in the northern or southern hemisphere, the fertility focus of Taurus and its plodding pace that savors every second of sensual satisfaction is the ground in which to plant the seeds for what you wish to cultivate in the month ahead. However, we can hear in the wind forewarnings of challenging weather and changing fortune on the horizon that demand necessary preparation. Indeed, both traditionally benefic planets, Venus and Jupiter, are involved in challenging aspects with both traditionally malefic planets, Saturn and Mars, as Sun and Moon conjoin in the sign of the Bull. Fortunately, the Taurus New Moon is making aspects that support devising a successful strategy for making sure the seeds you are planting will eventually produce a worthy harvest.

The Taurus New Moon is in range of harmonious aspects with the intense union of Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn, as well as with the imaginal potency of Neptune in Pisces. Since Saturn stationed retrograde within the week prior to the New Moon less than three degrees away from Pluto, their combined influence along with the South Node of the Moon has been forcing awareness to contend with whatever is necessary for us to confront, rather than whatever we wish we could be focusing on. This can include shadowy aspects of our subconscious or issues involving external relationships we had previously been ignoring, denying, or have been simply unaware of. Unions between Saturn and Pluto have a long historical track record of corresponding with global crisis and instability, and though Saturn and Pluto do not exactly align until January 2020, we are presently being initiated into an intensification of the tension that will be corresponding with the ending and beginning of their cycle.

As the Taurus New Moon is in a stabilizing trine aspect with the Capricorn trio, it brings the gift of making the necessary adjustments and modifications and being able to implement strategies for enduring present challenges. Since the New Moon is also in a creative sextile aspect with Neptune in Pisces, there is even something magical to be found in using common sense to address practical issues with grounded presence open to possibilities found in the moment. It will be necessary in the coming lunar cycle to actively cultivate the fertility of whatever ground we are working on and then follow through with sustained effort toward completing needed tasks. In order to access the full potential of the Taurus New Moon, however, we need to enrich our process with the full range of our imagination and creative visioning.

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Thoughts of the Past (1859) by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

Venus in Aries rules the New Moon and is applying toward a square aspect with Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn as well as the transiting lunar nodes. The tension between Venus and Saturn will be building until their aspect completes on May 7, bringing Venus into a complex relationship with both Pluto as well as Jupiter in Sagittarius.  On May 9 within hours Venus will move from a flowing trine aspect with Jupiter into a catalytic square aspect with Pluto, making the week following the New Moon pivotal as the Moon increases in light. Indeed, on May 9 the Crescent Moon will be in Cancer applying toward a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon opening awareness to important future-oriented choices to make. During this time there may be difficulties and stress to handle, but these aspects also suggest we can utilize the tension for our own benefit. Keep the larger vision of what you wish to manifest in mind as you work under the pressure of these aspects, sustaining belief in being able to achieve aspirations as you simultaneously apply effort and discipline to get the job done.

Yet, focusing too much on work and what we wish to build into the structures of our life can also distract us from another important side to these crucial aspects that Venus in Aries is passing through. Part of the story involves Mercury, as in the week before the New Moon the star of Hermes crossed the same terrain and teased open our psyche to the necessary issues that Venus needs to now mediate. There will likely be a lot of unconscious material stirred up, including vital memories from our past, that need to be reflected upon and sifted through in order to glean and integrate the needed lesson. As a result we will also need to make time and space for contemplation and allowing ourselves to set aside the demands of work so we may arrive at a deeper understanding of the present dynamics at play in our life. Venus in Aries engaging the intensity of Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn suggests that while we will need to be shedding and clearing certain issues, there is also something essential and vibrant to uncover, protect and nurture within ourselves, something with a life force that will endure whatever obstacles are in the way now.

Mercury will be a key figure within the astrology of the coming month to track, as it can serve as a liminal guide through the transitions on the way. During the Taurus New Moon, Mercury in Aries is separating from a square with Pluto, a trine with Jupiter, and a mutually receptive sextile with Mars in Gemini, giving the star of Hermes a significant message to carry forward into the coming lunar cycle.  A couple of days after the New Moon on May 6, Mercury will enter Taurus and immediately begin applying toward a conjunction with Uranus in Taurus. May 6 through May 9 will be important days to pay close attention for signs of larger shifts opening up on the horizon. Mercury combined with Uranus can facilitate a liberated perspective able to receive insights that change our relationship with and understanding of our developing life narrative.  This is the first time Mercury will form an exact conjunction with Uranus in Taurus and so will likely bring additional clarity to whatever life events have been volatized by Uranus in Taurus.

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Knight in Armor (1943) by Kurt Seligmann

Yet another dramatic aspect central to the dynamics of the Taurus New Moon is an applying opposition between Mars in Gemini with Jupiter in Sagittarius that will complete on the day after the lunation. The opposition between Mars and Jupiter is dynamic, propulsive and carries a double edge sword of inciting action while demanding caution toward pride that comes before a fall. The flames of ideological warfare and conflict will be stoked underneath the friction of Mars polarizing Jupiter, and so in personal realms be aware of when it is better to walk away and de-escalate conflict before it becomes more amplified. There may be arrogant accusers and cocky crusaders to contend with, and in the end the tension of this opposition can help clarify what beliefs we hold are worth fighting for and rising to defend and protect.

The opposition between Mars and Jupiter can also incite breakthrough decisions to move beyond previous boundaries, barriers or restraints. The liberating potential of their tension will be increased on May 6 once Mercury enters Taurus and initiates an emancipatory conjunction with Uranus that will complete on May 8.  While we will need to be careful of excessive actions and hubris, there will also be important lessons to learn from the experience of taking a leap to go after what we want during this time. Rather than passively surrendering to the intensity of the other astrological aspects previously mentioned, the opposition between Mars and Jupiter will encourage being an active co-creator with the catalyzed dynamics.

The Taurus New Moon is building toward a passionate and emotional Full Moon in Scorpio on May 18 that will have a Dionysian impact of loosening and dislodging.  Before the waxing light of the Moon becomes full, Mars in Gemini will receive Venus in Aries through a creatively dynamic sextile aspect on May 14. This is one day before Venus will enter its home of Taurus and Mars will enter is fall of Cancer on May 15, and so the sextile aspect between Venus and Mars will form at the final degrees of Aries and Gemini. There will be stress and tension present to manage within the surrounding astrology, but the receptive sextile between Mars and Venus holds the potential of using the friction for innovative creative manifestation. Work initiated during the Taurus New Moon may receive a propulsive jolt of development as Venus and Mars come into relationship in the middle of the month.

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6 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

Taurus 2 Decan

The New Moon in Taurus will be seeded in the fertile darkness of the second decan of Taurus, associated with the Six of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image we witness a mercantile figure carrying scales of balance in his left hand, while dispensing gold coins with his right hand to figures kneeling on the ground with tattered blankets begging for money.  The Six of Pentacles card is typically associated with giving and receiving on the material plane, whether that be through monetary sources or tactile, healing touch.  The unifying theme is that there is receiving found in the giving, and giving found in the receiving; the image of the scales could further be interpreted as signifying a sense of internal balance and authenticity in the process.  Through inner harmony transmitted through collaborative exchanges with others, great success and productivity can be achieved in the material realm. This is a key concept to bring into the meaning found with the New Moon in Taurus, as reaching out for support from others, as well as reaching out to support others, can bring us exactly what we need to endure present challenges.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Linga-Yoni” to the second face of Taurus, bridging images of “procreative unions” and “wanton fertilization” with the practice of virtuous action. Notably, Coppock advised that the matters generated in this face “must be attended to carefully and consistently,” as “dedication must join fecundity and passions to complete the picture this face provides” (p. 75).  Indeed, the fertile potential of the darkened Moon in Taurus is evident as the Moon rules the second face of Taurus, giving the Moon essential dignity through face, exaltation, and triplicity.

The Hellenistic text 36 Airs ascribed the Horai to the second decan of Taurus, a trinity of goddesses of the seasons and natural cycles of time who are the daughters of Zeus and Themis, goddess of divine law and order. Diodorus of Sicily wrote in the 1st century BC that each of the “Horai was given a responsibility named after her for the ordering and arranging of life for the greatest benefit of mankind” and “furnishing a prosperous life” through “lawfulness {eunomia}, justice {dike}, and peace {eirene}.” In keeping with the Taurean metaphor of cultivating crops, the Horai were worshipped by those planting and tending their field of harvest in alignment with the rising and setting of stars. The presence of the Horai with the New Moon in Taurus suggests the wisdom of knowing the right time and season for action. Within the darkness of the New Moon, let yourself let go of the plans whose time is not now, while mobilizing the force of your conviction and integrity behind those goals whose time have arrived.

References

Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation. (2004). Edited and translated by S.M. trzaskoma, R.S. Smith, and S. Brunet. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

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

 

 

May 9 Lecture for Washington State Astrological Association

WSAA Mercury lecture image

The Light and Shadow of Mercury in the Secondary Progressed Chart

Thursday 9 May 2019

7:30 pm

For those in the Seattle area, I’ll be giving a talk for the Washington State Astrological Association (WSAA) about the meaning of Mercury in the Secondary Progressed Chart on Thursday, May 9. The talk begins at 7:30 pm and will end at 9 pm. Click here for more information about how to order tickets as well as become a member of the WSAA.

The main focus of the talk is illustrating how to break down Mercury’s movement within the secondary progressed chart into different phases of its synodic cycle, similar to how Dane Rudhyar developed his lunation phase model using secondary progressions. For example, we will be exploring the meaning of having Mercury by secondary progressions direct as a Morning Star, invisible under the beams of the Sun, or stationing retrograde as an Evening Star.

I gave this talk at the United Astrology Conference (UAC) in 2018 and it was well received. I heard from many people afterward that it changed the way they work with the secondary progressed chart for the better and gave them a powerful new tool to use in consultations. For those who do not live in the Seattle area, I have a recording of my UAC lecture available to purchase from my site under the “Store” category above for $14. I will also send you a copy of the slideshow presentation if you order the talk.

Lecture Description:

The changeable nature of Mercury is found in its synodic cycle and its shifts between being direct and retrograde.  The meaning of Mercury’s cycles will be applied to the secondary progressed chart, where Mercury’s movement across a lifetime demarcates vital periods of personal development.

Gray will explain how to interpret the shift of progressed Mercury from being direct to retrograde and vice versa, and what to pay attention to in relation to the natal chart.

Meetings for the Washington State Astrological Association are held at the Puget Sound Yacht Club located at 2321 N Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98103.

In addition, the NORWAC conference in Seattle is coming at the end of May in the Seattle area. I will be speaking at NORWAC this year, and so if you are coming to the conference I  hope to see you there!

Libra Full Moon: Balance in the Bending

Notre Dame North Rose Window

North Rose Window, Notre Dame Cathedral

Full Moon in Libra

The Full Moon in Libra on April 19, 2019 brings illumination as we arrive at a crossroads. We have a choice of which direction to follow, a choice of whose guidance to follow, a choice to push forward with ambitious initiative or to pause in contemplation, incubating recent insights before taking new action. The Libra Full Moon culminates at the final degree of the Scales, resulting in its waxing light building across the entirety of Libra as it forms a volatile square aspect with the lunar nodes as well as the shadowy conjunction of Saturn and Pluto. The Libra Full Moon will dramatically amplify chaotic forces of change already set in motion during the past week in which the fiery Sun in Aries also formed a disruptive square aspect with Saturn, Pluto, and the lunar nodes. Libra is a cardinal air sign of dynamic change oscillating between extremes that calls us to find balance in the center of its vortex, arranging elements of space and time as needed to find a sense of harmony within forces of discord. Fortunately, Jupiter in Sagittarius is in a harmonious sextile aspect with the lunation, with the retrograde motion of Jupiter prodding us to go within to cohere understanding.

Once the Full Moon peaks at the final degree of Libra, its lunar light will illuminate the  beginning of Scorpio and then apply immediately to an opposition with Uranus in Taurus. In addition, the day after the lunation on April 20 after the Sun enters Taurus it will immediately begin applying toward a conjunction with Uranus. The impact of the lunar opposition and solar union with Uranus can coincide with rapid acceleration of developments or propulsive inner forces making it feel like there is no choice but to take a certain action or approach to situations. As a result the more we can take time and space to center and find as much inner balance as possible, the better we can adjust to whatever becomes activated by Uranus in Taurus in the days following the peak of the lunation’s full light. Uranus in Taurus opposing the Moon and then conjoining the Sun can also correlate with innovative insights that suddenly lead to a solution to difficulties or to an ingenious idea to improve whatever we have been working on.

The Libra Moon forming a square to the North Node of the Moon in Cancer and South Node of the Moon in Capricorn means that it is at its northern bending, its maximum peak of northern latitude within its orbital cycle. This is a dynamic point of volatile change in the Moon’s orbit in which it reaches its greatest height to then descend back toward the ecliptic where its orbit intersects with Earth’s orbit. Demetra George in her tome Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice wrote that “the Moon at the bending suggests both a state of objective awareness between the lunar body and solar soul, but can also indicate the potential for disassociation and lack of connection” (p. 354). Dane Rudhyar in The Planetary and Lunar Nodes wrote that when the Moon forms a square with its own nodes its “lunar function operates with a minimum degree of focalization in earth-nature and in all bio-psychic organisms.” Rudhyar continued that since the Moon at its northern bending “is as far withdrawn from the Earth as she can be,” that the Moon is also “most active in her own sphere” (p. 23).

The astrological volatility stirred up by the Libra Full Moon is interesting considering that it is occurring in the fourteenth Lunar Mansion known as Al Simak (“The Unarmed”) which centers around the fixed star Spica. Donna Woodwell has ascribed the image of “The Harvest” to this mansion, writing that it is about “separating the wheat from the chaff,” overcoming fear in order to end, leave, or move on from relationships and circumstances that are not fulfilling or delivering what we need. Chris Warnock in Mansions of the Moon described the Al Simak mansion as being about breaking apart “restrictive or inappropriate bonds,” and that while we need to be “wary of the impulse to fight with those whose temperament is opposite to our own,” this mansion of Spica “might also indicate that we need to remove ourselves from an uncomfortable situation that goes against our nature.”

Thus rather than impulsively rushing ahead with plans during the time around the Libra Full Moon, it can be best used to create protected personal space for reflecting upon one’s place within changing material circumstances. Listen to messages from the environment and the inner guidance you receive in moments of grace in order to adjust and make modifications as needed. Since Libra is the outwardly directed, airy home of Venus, it can also be a powerful time for creative brainstorming and experimenting with ways to further develop projects especially since Uranus in Taurus is involved in catalyzing the lunation’s force. Be open to looking at things from a completely different perspective, liberated from previous conceptions.

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Earliest Rose Window of Notre Dame Cathedral, west facade

Venus in Pisces rules the Libra Full Moon only a degree past her exact exaltation degree. Thus Venus in Pisces is on her throne of exaltation and capable of facilitating soothing self care and imaginative, inventive creativity in any art. Venus in Pisces is forming a quincunx aspect with the Libra Full Moon, suggesting the importance of finding ways to connect our creative ideas with the actual needs of our community. Rather than self centeredly focusing on whatever we think is the most interesting way to do things, instead bring the exalted status of Venus in Pisces into devising ways to make ideas helpful to others in practical ways that can make a difference. As we are also at the beginning of a new Venus and Neptune cycle, there could otherwise be a tendency for Venus in Pisces under a Libra Moon to put imagination into abstract conceptions that never fully materialize in reality.

Venus leaves her exaltation of Pisces to enter Aries, the fiery home of Mars, the day after the Full Moon on April 20. Venus in Aries will be ruled by Mars in the swift air sign of Gemini, promoting creativity in arts and following wherever curiosity guides us.  Unlike Pisces where Venus exalts, Aries is not comfortable zodiacal terrain for Venus to traverse in terms of indulging in the pleasures of Venus. Instead, the fire of Aries pushes Venus to claim and assert independence, take bold action in pursuit of desires, and find ways to bring people together over inspirational ideas that speak truth to power. Under the influence of Mars in Gemini, Venus in Aries will excel at multi-tasking and can wield its fire to cut through the multiple perspectives stirred up by Mars in Gemini in order to coalesce a direct creative expression.

Notre Dame cathedral rose window dageurreotype

Notre Dame Cathedral Rose Window daguerreotype (1841) by Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey

Casting an imposing shadow across the Libra Full Moon is the intensifying union between Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn. Both Pluto and Saturn will station retrograde by the end of April, with Pluto stationing retrograde on April 24 and Saturn stationing retrograde on April 29. The south node of the Moon has already passed over Pluto and will be forming a conjunction with Saturn as it stations retrograde at the end of April. When planets station, their significations saturate the astrological landscape: thus Pluto in particular is looming large over the Libra Full Moon. Rick Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche linked the archetypal impact of Pluto in mundane events with the mythic archetype of Dionysus, as it carries an eruptive life force that cannot be resisted, shattering and loosening structures and beliefs that had been bringing a sense of security.

When Pluto erupts from the depths, transmutation is in process and as new forms arise and old forms break apart, we need to allow ourselves to also let go of the way things have been in order to reorient with the changing forces taking shape. The union of Pluto, Saturn, and the South Node of Capricorn is particularly challenging due to the emphasis Capricorn has on the ancient, the traditional, the structures and beliefs that have endured across time and the figures who have gathered strength and skill through a wealth of experience. On the one hand we need to recover and cultivate the aspects of our myriad civilizations that bring stability and order in ways that meet the needs of people, yet on the other hand numerous aspects of the old order also must now break down or decay in order to begin clearing space for new forms and structures to take shape. The tragedy of the Notre Dame cathedral catching fire in Paris reveals how gut wrenching the structural regeneration underway will be for those emotionally and spiritually invested in forms now breaking apart.

Saturn and Pluto will not form their exact conjunction until January 12, 2020 but with both of them stationing at the end of April only three degrees apart, while simultaneously conjoining the transiting South Node of the Moon in Capricorn, the end of April and beginning of May will bring an amplified initiation into the meaning of their new cycle. Making it more intense is that the heliocentric south nodes of Saturn and Pluto are in the same area of Capricorn, meaning that the movement of Saturn and Pluto around their entire orbital arc is now descending to intersect with the orbit of our Earth around the Sun. Dane Rudhyar likened this type of archetypal process we are experiencing with Saturn and Pluto to both the death and decay of the Autumn season, as well as the importance of incubating and gestating the seed that will bring forth new life. There is a sacrifice necessary, a release of what must die in order to bring forth what needs to be born. We simultaneously will be experiencing the extremes of Saturn and Pluto, the putrefaction of their poisonous toxicity as well as the empowering discipline and reordering of their more ideal significations.

Notre Dame allegory of alchemy

Allegory of Alchemy from central portal of Notre Dame Cathedral

The Libra Full Moon also brings illumination to the recent ingress of Mercury into Aries. Mercury had been in Pisces since February 10 before finally entering Aries on April 17. At the time of the Full Moon, Mercury is applying to a close conjunction with Chiron in Aries and is applying toward a mutually receptive sextile aspect with Mars in Gemini. In the past month we have had a lot happening in the signs of Pisces and Capricorn, inwardly directed signs that tend to work receptively with material at a patient pace more so than with frenetic speed. Mercury in Aries combined with Mars in Gemini will speed up events and facilitate taking direct, impactful action to shape matters that have become volatilized and ready to change.

Mercury in Aries is firmly within its Morning Star phase in which it heralds the rising Sun at dawn with its light. Mercury’s Morning Star phase resonates with being curious and explorative, reaching out for new connections and weaving new meaning and ideas together. Dane Rudhyar called this phase Promethean due to its strong capacity for foresight, and I also think of it in relation to the Magician arcanum in tarot due to its capacity for helping us reshape matters in line with our developing vision. Whatever shifts occurred for you during the long Mercury retrograde in Pisces transit that lasted through March, it is now time to integrate the lessons into your daily communication and movement through your community.  Mercury will form its exact sextile with Mars in Gemini on April 30, and so their mutually receptive relationship bears gifts to infuse into research, communication, promotion, and mercantile activities for the rest of April.

As the Moon continues to wane in light for the rest of April, Mercury will get closer each day to forming a volatile square aspect with Saturn, Pluto, and the transiting lunar nodes at the same time that Saturn and Pluto are stationing retrograde. Simultaneously, Mars in Gemini will be getting closer each day to forming a catalytic square aspect with Neptune in Pisces, becoming exact on April 27. This brings a much deeper, ineffable influence into the receptive relationship between Mercury and Mars. Mercury in Aries forming a square with Saturn, Pluto, and the lunar nodes will penetrate awareness into unconscious material  and patterns, as well as insight into the larger structural changes occurring in society. Though Mars and Mercury will want to incite action and swiftness, it will be important to make time and space to recenter in reflection, listening within to unconscious messages that can bring guidance. The influence of Mars forming a square with Neptune can bring inflation and fixation on dogmatic perspectives in some people, while for others this same influence could help unveil illusions that have been operating under the surface of perception.

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4 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Libra 3 Decan

The Full Moon in Libra culminates in the third decan of Libra associated with the Four of Swords card illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image above we see what looks to be a knight in prayer, or perhaps a sarcophagus, under a stained glass window of “PAX” or “peace.”  This image also evokes a pilgrim in meditative silence within a protected, sacred space, and likewise it can help us find our own balance at this time if we can manage to create our own space for solace in silence.  Johannes Fiebig and Evelin Burger in their book on the tarot noted symbols in the image that contrast “inner and outer issues, the abstract world and daily life, perfect ideals and limited reality.”  Within the balance of these dualities, we can sense how the figure’s positioning is like a re-balancing of our body and mind, the sword below the figure a tool to cut away the false in order to reveal our essential and genuine presence that can emerge now.

Jupiter rules the third face of Libra in the descending rulership scheme, a decan that Austin Coppock ascribed the image of “A Gyroscope” to in 36 Faces.  Coppock equated the third face of Libra with “equilibrating movement through a chaotic universe,” linking its meaning to the Four of Swords image with facing that “justice must reconcile itself to an injust world, and peace to a world riven with conflict.”  Coppock notably pointed out that earlier images associated with the third decan of Libra as found in such text as the Picatrix and Three Books of Occult Philosophy featured images of “furious indulgence” and “extremes of revelry” such as “violence, gluttony, deviant sexuality, and boisterous joy.”  If we can find balance within the wild forces moving through this decan, Coppock suggested it “allows one to see through the eye of the storm” to learn that “equipoise may be maintained in any circumstance- shelter in any storm” (p. 168-70).

The Hellenistic text the 36 Airs linked Nemesis to the third face of Libra. Austin Coppock in 36 Faces linked the presence of Nemesis in this decan to her role as “a force which restored balance to life’s chaotic wheel,” acting “to consciously correct the injustices whirl of blind forces” by “restoring right proportion.” One way Nemesis restores balance is through bringing retribution against those carried away by hubris who arrogantly act out of balance with natural forces of change. Her presence with the Libra Full Moon emphasizes the need to rebalance whatever has become out of proportion in our life. We may recognize aspects of our shadow we have been denying, or realize we have been suppressing desires that need to be accepted and cultivated. There are many crises coinciding in collective events calling for action, but in addition to playing a role in creating the change we wish to see in external events, we likewise need to bring attention to tend to the changes occurring internally.

References

Burger, Evelin & Fiebig, Johannes. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to the Rider Waite Tarot. Llewellyn Publications.

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

George, Demetra. (2019). Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice: a Manual of Traditional Techniques. Rubedo Press.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1971). The Planetary and Lunar Nodes. CSA Press.

Tarnas, Richard. (2007). Cosmos and Psyche. Plume.

On Venus and Neptune in Pisces

Psyche disobeys by William Blake

Eros and Psyche by William Blake

“The lover carves into his soul the model of the beloved. In that way, the soul of the lover becomes the mirror in which the image of the loved one is reflected”

— Marsilio Ficino from De amore

Neptune was not known to Marsilio Ficino during the Renaissance in which he was translating ancient texts and formulating his magical astrology, except perhaps in his imagination. During 20th century astrology a concept of higher octave planets was invented in which Neptune became known as a higher octave of Venus (with Uranus as higher octave of Mercury and Pluto as higher octave of Mars). In part this has to do with Neptune signifying unconditional love as well as relating with the living soul of our greater world, feeling the interconnectedness underlying our shared field of reality. Whereas Venus places us in the pleasure of sensual reception in taste, touch, smell, colors, music, and aesthetics, her focus is centered in unifying the material of our present reality. In contrast Neptune has been linked with vaster realities such as the collective unconscious and dimensions beyond our senses and normal perceptions of time and space.

In 20th century astrology Neptune also became celebrated as a ruler of Pisces by many astrologers, to such an extent that by the end of the century it was the favored ruler among popular forms of astrology. Just as Neptune has an affinity for Pisces, Venus has been said to have her exaltation in Pisces since the most ancient days of astrology. Dorotheus of Sidon, one of the most influential Hellenistic astrologers who lived in the first century AD, wrote that planets in their exaltations “make them very illustrious and remarkable,” becoming an “authoritative figure” who can be entrusted with noble works as well as dwell with and enjoy the profits of regal endeavors. During the transit of Venus in Pisces its exalted status brings enhanced opportunities for luxuriating in sensual pleasures, soothing inner needs, and enjoying arts of all forms. When Venus and Neptune unite in Pisces, desires and reception of pleasures become amplified and otherworldly.

Since April 2011 when Neptune entered Pisces, we have been living in an interesting time period hosting unions between Venus and Neptune in Pisces. Currently they are applying toward a conjunction that will complete on April 10, 2019. Previously since Neptune entered Pisces in 2011, Venus formed a conjunction with Neptune in Pisces on 28 February 2013, 11 April 2014, 1 February 2015, 20 March 2016, 12 January 2017, and 21 February 2018. They will continue forming unions in Pisces until the final one on 27 March 2025. Amazingly, they will form their final conjunction at the very very end of Pisces at 29º53′ with Venus retrograde in 2025. Now that we have been through six of their conjunctions and are approaching the seventh, it’s worthwhile to think back upon each of these past periods of Venus and Neptune forming unions in Pisces to note what changes and realizations occurred for you within your relationships with others as well as your relationship with yourself.

The combination of Venus and Neptune in Pisces is incredibly dreamy, imaginative, and numinous. Its combination corresponds with romantic love being exalted in popular culture as the most magical of experiences. I once heard Rick Tarnas give a talk on the connections between astrology and romance in which he commented that since astrology and synchronicity are not openly acknowledged in consensus society, we end up with a heightened desire for romantic love in mainstream culture. In the materialistic consensus worldview, romantic love carries the entire magical sense of a communion between souls opening up a new universe, an opening that goes beyond the compressed isolation of the Cartesian ego toward awareness of the world soul.  Notably, Tarnas pointed out that astrology, synchronicity and romantic love all (1) have great potential for profound significance, (2) are extremely susceptible to a skeptical negation, and (3) are also susceptible to both projection and illusion.  The potential for illusion in love we find in the union between Venus and Neptune also veils the truth that if one is carrying the divine inside, it is possible for a communion of divinities to occur through romantic love in which reciprocal recognition of divinity occurs.

Tarnas noted we can further find these ideas within Carl Jung’s conception of the Self due to it being constellated by a profound romantic love involving the marriage of opposites, the cosmic marriage of the inner and the outer, the conscious and unconscious. Jung’s ideas also connect to another phenomenon associated with the combination of Venus and Neptune in astrology: projecting unconscious content into our relationships so that both relational partners become enmeshed within exchanging projections.  The book Eros and Magic in the Renaissance by Ioan Couliano described how Jung’s idea that we fall in love with our own unconscious image projected into relationships has similarities to ideas developed by Marsilio Ficino.

According to Couliano, Ficino believed in the necessity of spirit grasping external images in order for the soul to contemplate them, like bodies reflected in a mirror. The love inducing arrows shot by Eros to Ficino are like internal fire emitted through the eyes at its object of interest with a force of fascination. Ficino saw this fiery fascination as penetrating and transfiguring the object of affection, while also creating a phantasm of the beloved that takes on its own existence in the eye of the beholder, potentially leading to possession and obsession. Couliano wrote:

“Interestingly, the love object plays a secondary role in the process of establishing the phantasm: it is only a pretext, not a real presence. The true object, omnipresent, of Eros is the phantasm, which has taken permanent possession of the spiritual mirror. Now, this phantasm represents a perceived image that has gone beyond the threshold of consciousness, but the reason it has assumed such obsessional dimensions lies in the deepest part of the individual unconscious. We do not love another object, a stranger to ourselves, Ficino thinks (Amore, VI, 6) thus anticipating the analystic psychology of Carl Jung. We are enamored of an unconscious image.

Eros and Magic in the Renaissance by Ioan Couliano

Complexly, Couliano commented that the subject can graft itself onto the phantasmic image of the beloved so that the subject becomes changed into the object of their love while the object of their affection is simultaneously impacted by their projection.  When both relational partners are engaged in this process, they each end up transfigured by their reflection in the mirror of the other.  Dramatically, Couliano noted that when the object of love removes themselves from the relationship, when they remove their mirror the loss of reflection feels like a death to the subject. Couliano concluded, “after knocking hopelessly at the door of the other’s eyes, this Narcissus will die through lack of access to the glossy surface of a spirit on which (or on whom) he can be reflected.” This of course links with the long lineage of romantic tragedies that have captivated popular imagination for ages.

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Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian

These ideas connect to the transformative feelings of love that come with transits of Neptune and Venus, as well as destructive feelings of disillusionment that can awaken self realization. Projections in relationships can be most harmful when they do not have authentic resonance with one’s soul but instead have been conditioned by societal forces. These external conditioning influences are often wrapped up in systematic oppression, necessitating a need to shed the way they impact our gender, sexual, and other personal identities. The more we are able to take responsibility for this work, similar to Jung’s concept of individuation, the better we can gain self acceptance for the authentic desires of our soul. As we do so, we can attract partners who genuinely resonate with our inner life, drawing us into a deepening of the lessons we need on a soul level. We also can gain a healthier relationship with ourselves so that we can foster recovery and restoration when a relationship ends.

It’s not really possible to prevent our unconscious from shaping the relational dynamics we form with others, and this is a gift in terms of the creativity and growth cultivated by the commingling of unconscious fields. We can at least gain awareness that the phenomenon is happening and open to the actual presence and needs of a partner instead of confining them to our own projection. The numinous, intermingling perceptions and projections between lovers is so full of magical potency that it has given birth to countless epics of artistry that have endured the tests of time and will continue to do so. Most importantly, it can enrich our life when not causing damaging delusion. As Venus and Neptune begin a new cycle together, as well as during subsequent aspects between them (especially when forming a square or opposition), we can claim the opportunity to reflect upon our unconscious projections. It’s essential that once becoming aware we do not bury the realization in denial but instead sustain contemplation so that it’s pattern may mutate and we may receive insight.

Neptune brings longing for the ideal and sustaining divine connection, yet can also bring debilitating pain once a shattering experience breaks us free from an illusion. After we suffer the agony of betrayal or abandonment, the ensuing underworld process of descending to our solitary depths ultimately gives rise to essential rebirth and expansion of consciousness. Like Persephone arising from her hidden kingdom into our upper world of blooming flowers, like Aphrodite arising from the depths of the ocean to fertilize new ground, we can restore our capacity for sharing and receiving love. When relationships dissolve in disappointing disillusionment, in reflection we can realize the vital, irreplaceable experiences and realizations we received through its reciprocal projections. In fact, we can realize that all of it was necessary in order to become who we are meant to become.

So as Venus and Neptune come together once more in the mutable, watery sign of Pisces, be mindful of living in a time in which you are navigating their waves of communion within the most oceanic sign of the zodiac. Their unions in Pisces can enhance awareness for how our projections are disconnecting us from reality, can lead us to love based upon resonant bonds of connectivity, and can facilitate the nurturance of self love and acceptance. Like Maya spinning a constantly changing stream of illusions, the cycle of Venus and Neptune flows through our reality with the mystical, seductive melodies of its watery stream. While musing within its current, we can enjoy its imaginal activation while maintaining practices of staying grounded and focused within earthly matters and responsibilities. As a result we may retrieve glistening jewels of wisdom from its tides rather than becoming lost at sea.

References

Couliano, Ion. (1987). Eros and Magic in the Renaissance. The University of Chicago Press.

Dykes, Benjamin (2017 translation). Dorotheus of Sidon: Carmen Astrologicum, the Umar al-Tabari Translation. The Cazimi Press.

New Moon in Aries

New Moon in Aries

Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (1907)

New Moon in Aries

The New Moon in Aries on April 5 kindles the star fire of inner soul force and determination in the face of collective events that feel overwhelming with their historical weight. Aries takes its name from the constellation of the charging ram, zodiacal terrain ruled by red hot Mars where our life and light giving Sun is exalted. Aries burns with impulsive heat that invigorates our passions and motivates us to take direct action. There is cosmic synchronicity of this propulsive force initiating a new lunar month during the same time that the combined impact of Saturn and Pluto with the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn is intensifying. Wielding the fire of Aries will not move mountains, suddenly change world politics,  or be able to cut through every obstacle we face at this time. Yet we still need to claim the courage to use our force of will to shape the aspects of life we are able to create and guide, surrendering to the need to mediate the barriers and limitations out of our control.

The Aries New Moon comes at the turning point of the astrological year. This is usually the case as in the northern hemisphere the season of Aries occurs during the rebirthing of Spring and the daily increase of light. However, in 2019 with the transiting lunar nodes and eclipses occurring in the signs of Cancer and Capricorn, the New Moon in Aries is occurring at the midpoint between eclipses while forming a change inducing square aspect with the Capricorn Solar Eclipse that happened on January 6, 2019 as well as the Cancer Solar Eclipse that is coming on July 2, 2019. This makes it an ideal time to recenter and regroup regarding whatever shifts have been taking shape in your life, summoning inner strength to respond to whatever needs repair or restoration. It’s also ideal for initiating and generating forward momentum and decisive action regarding whatever goals you want to achieve in the next six months.

Hours after the Moon unites with the Sun, the waxing Aries Moon will move through a catalyzing square aspect with Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn. Since the Aries New Moon is applying to a square with the transiting lunar nodes it means it is at its bending, in this case the southern bending in which the Moon dips as far south in latitude as it will reach during its lunar cycle. This is a maximum peak of volatility, and in a southern direction indicates a higher charge of unconscious impulses motivating behavior. A day after the lunation, just after the Moon has reappeared in light in its slender waxing crescent shape, the Moon will form a conjunction with Uranus in Taurus on April 6. There likely will be some explosive collective events during this time, yet on personal levels we will also need to be ready for rapid developments to erupt. The Moon is carrying an emancipatory charge that is facing the friction and resistance of large, oppressive societal forces. We can receive liberating, breakthrough insights during this time and by working hard to bring ideas into form we can cultivate greater strength in the process. At the same time, it will be necessary to be aware of the best use of energy in terms of what we can change and what we cannot.

A day before the New Moon, the asteroid Vesta will ingress into Aries and begin applying to a conjunction with Chiron in Aries. The co-presence of the fiery communion between Vesta and Chiron with the New Moon in Aries draws awareness inward toward the most essential and rarified desires and values to focus attention on. What aspects of your life, what elements of your goals and dreams are irreplaceable and bring forth all of your strength and vitality to protect and nourish? During hard and difficult times when faith is tested, when natural disasters or collective calamities and crises strike, the gift offered is complete clarity regarding what matters most, where are attention needs full unequivocal engagement. Chiron and Vesta are inviting you to join them around their fire, a place of inclusivity, listening, sharing, and empowerment, a protective circle in which you can plant the seed of the vision you most wish to create and cultivate in the season ahead.

Mars in Gemini

Woodblock print of Miyamoto Musashi by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Mars in Gemini

Mars in Gemini rules the Aries New Moon, separating from a sextile aspect with Chiron in Aries and applying toward a square aspect with Neptune in Pisces that will not complete until April 25. Mars leaving Taurus and entering Gemini brings increased speed, electricity, and curiosity toward the striving will force signified by the red planet. With Mars in Gemini forming a whole sign sextile aspect with the New Moon in Aries, there is increased potential for taking action and making gains on whatever plans and visions have been taking shape during the Mercury retrograde in Pisces period that dominated the month of March. Mars in Gemini brings increased capacity to handle multiple tasks at a time and decipher connections between diverse interests, with the building tension between Mars and Neptune in April capable of severing awareness from an illusion. A main challenge will be keeping Mars from becoming detrimentally distracted in the airy home of Mercury.

Mercury in Pisces is now moving direct as a Morning Star and finally beginning to separate from its extended conjunction with Neptune in Pisces that expanded visions yet restrained our capacity for quickly and clearly making needed connections and communication. Mercury at the time of the Aries New Moon is a week away from reaching maximum elongation as a Morning Star, meaning that we are entering the phase of Mercury in which we must gather the bravery, faith, and resources needed to embody whatever changes of mind and vision emerged into awareness during the past month. Mars in Gemini has the necessary flexibility to shift and mutate as needed as we figure out how to reshape and rebuild life structures. Yet Mars under the influence of Mercury combined with Neptune also brings risk of becoming inflated, self-righteous, and ungrounded, characteristics we will need to guard against especially if conflict erupts.

Odilon Redon flower-clouds

Odilon Redon (1903) Flower Clouds

Feeling the Fishes

There is a potent pulse of Pisces underlying the Aries New Moon. Just as Mercury is beginning to separate away from a conjunction with Neptune, Venus in Pisces is applying toward a union with Neptune that will complete on April 10. The combined influence of Venus, Neptune, and Mercury in Pisces has a multivalent impact which can range from the sublime to the delusional. The influence of Venus exalted in Pisces increases capacity for us to not only envision a reality in which we may behold soulful desires, but to also alter reality to bring about manifestation of deeply felt values and connections. Hopefully the long phase of Mercury retrograde in March helped clear minds of cobwebs and illusory conceptions, but as Mercury is finally separating from Neptune it will still be worthwhile to claim space for inner reflection and meditation to help enhance clarity. Jupiter in Sagittarius is ruling all of the Pisces planets and can facilitate inner knowing that supports their potential for inner vision as long as we center within authentic inner values rather than being swayed by external conditioning influences.

As Venus forms its conjunction with Neptune on April 10, Mercury will simultaneously be applying to its third and final square aspect with Jupiter in Sagittarius.  All of this is happening at the same time that Jupiter is stationing retrograde on April 10 at 24º21′ Sagittarius. When planets station their archetypal influence saturates the landscape, and so with Jupiter ruling Venus, Neptune, and Mercury it will intensify experience and meaning. The period of April 10 and 11 notably brings a higher degree of resolution to the wild journey Mercury has been on since February, as Mercury previously formed a square aspect with Jupiter on February 22 and March 24. There will be an opportunity for deepening into clearing or clarification of misleading beliefs while simultaneously receiving intimations of the course to follow into the future. Venus and Neptune will be playing the part of pulling awareness into the pleasures and wisdom of the senses and can be best utilized for soothing stress and creating an atmosphere of recovery, restoration and healing.

The mystical influences of Venus uniting with Neptune and Mercury contesting Jupiter goes well with the added meaning of Jupiter stationing retrograde. Jupiter shifting into retrograde motion pulls the outward expansion and quest for freedom of Jupiter in Sagittarius into inner horizons, helping one to cohere inner meaning from the free ranging experiences of Jupiter’s time in Sagittarius. Jupiter will remain retrograde until stationing direct on August 11 at 14°30′ Sagittarius

Gustave_Courbet_(French_-_Grotto_of_Sarrazine_near_Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne_-_Google_Art_Project

Gustave Courbet (1875) Grotto of Sarrazine near Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne

Saturn – Pluto – South Node

The month of April initiates us into an intensification of the complex gravitas constellated by Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon coming together in Capricorn. By the end of April, both Pluto and Saturn will have stationed retrograde with Saturn coming within three degrees of Pluto (Saturn and Pluto will not complete their conjunction until January 12, 2020). The deepening we experience in April into what to expect from the beginning of new cycle between Pluto and Saturn is amplified due to the transiting South Node of the Moon being in the same place, with Pluto conjoining the South Node of the Moon during the Aries New Moon and Saturn conjoining it by the end of April.

These aspects alone would signify immense karmic issues erupting across societies, but the added influence taking things to an even more extreme degree is that the alignment of Pluto, Saturn, and the South Node of the Moon is also happening in the same area as the South Nodes of Pluto and Saturn. This means that the archetypal meaning of the entire orbital arcs of Saturn and Pluto are crashing down across the ecliptic, flooding events with their significations. We tend to imagine the lunar nodes as a dragon in astrology, yet what we have in this alignment is a three headed (or headless) dragon involving not only the lunar archetype but Saturn and Pluto as well. The shadow of the Self described in the work of C.G. Jung can thus be applied to all of global civilization, with numerous issues sweeping across global societies representing the accumulated toxicities and oppression built up from ages past.

At its highest potential, this massive alignment offers opportunities for confronting societal issues and attempting to purify their intersection with us as individuals. Fundamentally, the New Moon in Aries points to the importance for each of us as an individual to claim responsibility for our behavior and intention, becoming accountable for the wider collective impact of our individual actions. While Pluto and Saturn have numerous negative and difficult significations, they also both connect with the empowerment found within our unconscious depths and our capacity to apply hard work and discipline toward manifesting and protecting what is most important to us, building or tearing down structures as needed.

Aries 2 Decan

3 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Aries 2 Decan

The New Moon is in the second decan of Aries associated with the Three of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. As the second face of Aries holds the degrees of the exaltation of the Sun, we fittingly find a very solar image in this card of a heroic figuring overlooking a numinous landscape from a mountainous peak.  There are ships heading off into the vast expanse beyond into other worlds for communication and commerce.  Similarly, Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy ascribed an image made for nobility, loftiness of kingdom, and a great dominion to the second face of Aries, and ancient texts are filled with the attribution of images linked to wealth and rulership to this decan.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Crown” to the second face of Aries.  Coppock described the focus of this face as being “the world which emanates from an individual” and “the qualities which they choose to embody” (p. 59).  Coppock wrote that the ability to create one’s own world found in this face leads to not only the attraction and magnetism of others of like-mind, but also to “the key to creating pocket realities which do not obey the laws of the collective reality field in which they exist” (p. 60).  These associations with the second face of Aries work well with the New Moon in Aries having so much potent fertility for vision being offered by Venus, Neptune, and Mercury aligned in Pisces and being received by Jupiter in Sagittarius.

The Hellenistic text the 36 Airs attributed Persephone to the second decan of Aries, an interesting association as she is also a noble figure who bridges the world of the visible and invisible, the goddess who rules the otherworld of soul, death, release, and resurrection. Additionally, the Persephone asteroid #399 is at 16º Capricorn and forming an almost exact square aspect with the Aries New Moon. Persephone’s presence with the New Moon calls us to honor being an eternal soul fully embodied within a material realm of continual life and death.  While we must reconcile ourselves to living in a world of great suffering and death, grieving those who have passed on, Persephone also signifies our capacity for discovering newfound power and strength within ourselves in spite of the wounds we must bear.

There is a further link with Persephone’s presence in this face with the sabian symbol for sixteen degrees of Aries where the union between Sun and Moon takes place: “Nature spirits are seen at work in the light of sunset.” Dane Rudhyar connected this symbol with “attunement to the potency of invisible forces, of nature,” commenting that these “nature forces act as guiding and balancing-harmonizing factors.”  As one of the gifts astrology offers us is coming to terms with natural cycles so that we can flow and harmonize with them, we will need to keep in mind during April the necessity of both surrendering to natural processes of death and rebirth while claiming responsibility for doing what we can to shape matters and offer our own resources for support.

Youth of delight, come hither / And see the opening morn, / Image of truth new born. / Doubt is fled & clouds of reason, / Dark disputes & artful teazing. / Folly is an endless maze, / Tangled roots perplex her ways, / How many have fallen there! / They stumble all night over bones of the dead, / And feel they know not what but care, / And wish to lead others when they should be led.

— The Voice of the Ancient Bard by William Blake, from Songs of Innocence

Songs_of_Innocence_and_of_Experience_copy_AA_The_Voice_of_the_Ancient_Bard

References

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: the history, astrology, and magic of the decans. Three Hands Press.

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

 

Mercury Retrograde in Pisces

rene magrite fair captive

The Fair Captive by Rene Magritte

Mercury Retrograde in Pisces

“All I have is a voice / To undo the folded lie, / The romantic lie in the brain / Of the sensual man-in-the-street / And the lie of Authority / Whose buildings grope the sky: / There is no such thing as the State / And no one exists alone; / Hunger allows no choice / To the citizen or the police; / We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night / Our world in stupor lies; / Yet, dotted everywhere, / Ironic points of light / Flash out wherever the Just / Exchange their messages: / May I, composed like them / Of Eros and of dust, / Beleaguered by the same / Negation and despair, / Show an affirming flame.”

—from September 1, 1939 by W.H. Auden (born with Mercury in Pisces conjoining Saturn in Pisces)

The twinkling light of Mercury initiates us into the regenerative, retrograde phase of its cycle in sunset.  In Greek mythology sunset is the realm of the Hesperides, divine daughters of primordial Night and Darkness who tend a garden and grove bearing the golden apples of Gaia. Charming nymphs who delight in singing songs of the numinous, the Hesperides have granted the gifts necessary for heroes to complete their quests, such as lending Perseus the winged sandals of Hermes. Yet in their company resides an ever wakeful dragon symbolizing the potent fertility of chthonic chaos pulsating under our perceptions of reality. The otherworldly sunset realm of the Hesperides is located in the farthest reaches of the West, at the outermost reaches of the encircling Oceanus from which the fixed stars and Helios rise and set each day.

As Mercury stations retrograde at the final degree of Pisces on 5 March 2019, its Evening Star light will still be visible as the sun sets, transfiguring the sky in changing colors. Whenever planets station in astrology, their archetype dominates the astrological landscape in the surrounding week. Many astrologers focus upon rational analysis and linear logic amongst the many significations of Mercury, yet there is a type of excessively linear Mercury that is more of a dominant cultural construct than the reality of magical and shamanic processes that Mercury also tends. The work of Peter Kingsley is interesting in this context, as he has argued against what he calls a misguided academic approach to the history of logic in Western civilization, since the figures who gave birth to logic such as Parmenides and Empedocles were actually involved in deeply mystical and irrational processes.

In the case of Mercury stationing retrograde, it’s the influence of the underworld, psychopomp side of Mercury that claims prominence due to it disappearing at sunset into its invisible phase in the days following its stationing. Though periods of Mercury retrograde provoke alarm amongst astrologers, it is in fact an essential aspect of Mercury necessary for the natural expression of the Star of Hermes. While breakdowns and disintegration of all things mercurial can happen during Mercury retrograde, it simultaneously brings the opportunity for necessary shedding, cleansing, purification, and reorientation.

The numinous realm of the Hesperides bearing otherworldly gifts as well as a dangerous dragon to face connects well with the particular Mercury retrograde phase occurring in March 2019 as it begins on the same day as the ingress of Uranus in Taurus. The Sun is setting in conjunction with ethereal Neptune as Mercury stations, and its retrograde phase will be taking us into the disillusionment and revelations at the heart of the square aspect between Neptune and Jupiter in Sagittarius that is another one of the most important astrological aspects of 2019. The other major astrological aspect of 2019, the coming together of Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn (while also conjoining the South Nodes of Saturn and Pluto), will also be interfacing closely with Mercury’s retrograde phase in Pisces through a harmonizing sextile aspect. We will be pulled to release and rebirth deeply personal patterns as well as disentangle ourselves from the dominant constructs of power enforced through societal institutions and hierarchies.

Here are some key dates:

  • February 19: Mercury conjunct Neptune at 15°35′ Pisces first time
  • February 22: Mercury in Pisces square Jupiter in Sagittarius (21°06′) first time
  • February 26: Mercury at maximum elongation as Evening Star
  • March 5: Mercury stations retrograde at 29°38′ Pisces
  • March 6: New Moon in Pisces as Mercury descends at sunset into invisible phase and Uranus enters Taurus
  • March 14: Mercury conjunct Sun in Pisces at 24°11′
  • March 15: Mercury square Jupiter (23°19′) second time
  • March 20: Full Moon in Libra on Aries Equinox
  • March 23: Mercury retrograde reemerges as Morning Star
  • March 24: Mercury conjunct Neptune at 16°49′ Pisces second time
  • March 26: Venus enters Pisces
  • March 28: Mercury stations direct at 16°05′ Pisces
  • April 2: Mercury conjunct Neptune at 17°08′ third time
  • April 5: New Moon in Aries
  • April 10: Jupiter stations retrograde in Sagittarius
  • April 11: Mercury square Jupiter (24°20′) third time with Mercury at maximum elongation as Morning Star
rosmerta and mercury

Rosmerta and Mercury

Pisces is the fall of Mercury and the exaltation of Venus, and as this is given great prominence within Indian astrology its interesting that Mercury is stationing retrograde in both tropical as well as sidereal Pisces. On the other side of Mercury’s retrograde when it is stationing direct, Venus will enter her exaltation of Pisces. Thus we can imagine Mercury clearing, cleaning, and preparing the watery, nocturnal temple of Jupiter for the arrival of the goddess, Venus, at the end of its retrograde. In fact, Mercury will be stationing retrograde near the exaltation degree of Venus (27º) and then stationing direct near the fall degree of Mercury (15º).

Moreover, the date of March 5 when Mercury stations retrograde is the traditional date of Navigium Isidis, an ancient Roman festival honoring the great goddess Isis and involving an elaborate procession.  Fittingly for the meaning of Mercury retrograde in Pisces, the procession of Isis also served as a prayer for the protection and safety of seafarers. Whether or not you have an oceanic voyage planned during March, we will all be embarking one way or another on a metaphorical sea crossing into realms of imagination and fantasy that will make clarified objectivity difficult to sustain. Yet within the tidal forces of Mercury we can dislodge ourselves from stuck, fixated perspectives into a more enlivening perceptual presence.

While there is mystery involving a definitive answer to the question of why Mercury has its fall in Pisces, there are many reasons that have been deduced that would take up too much space to explore here. One aspect to remember is that the categories of exaltation and fall are status symbols in a way, something one receives from others. There is often something of the unconventional found with Mercury in Pisces that goes against the established, favored doctrines of society. For example, the brilliantly unorthodox writers Maya Angelou, Stephane Mallarme, Langston Hughes, Charles Baudelaire, and James Joyce were born with Mercury in Pisces, as well as empirical scientists who shattered dogmatic worldview such as Nicolas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Charles Darwin. There is also a quality of having to not only fall into the suffering of the material world with Mercury in Pisces, but furthermore needing to traverse underworld experiences as part of retrieving soulful insight to share with others.

Vitally, Mercury in Pisces is ruled by the uplifting influence of Jupiter, and thus during the forthcoming Mercury retrograde its extremely significant that Jupiter is in its fiery home of Sagittarius and receiving Mercury through a catalyzing square aspect.  These connections bring the potential to uncover a deeper realization of personal truth within whatever difficult, disorientating, disintegrative, and disillusioning experiences may occur during the month of March.  The more we can let go of dogmatic beliefs we have been clinging to for whatever reason, the more we can open ourselves to the dissolution needed for essential rebirth that Mercury retrograde in Pisces can bring.

Magritte__Le_Baiser-3

Le Baiser by Rene Magritte

“We move up a spine of earth / That bridges the river and the canal. / And where a dying white log, finger-like, / Floating off the bank, claws at the slope, / We stumble, and we laugh. / We slow beneath the moon’s eye; / Near the shine of the river’s blood face, / The canal’s veil of underbrush sweats frost, / And this ancient watery scar retains / The motionless tears of men with troubled spirits. / For like the whole earth, / This land of mine is soaked….”

— from Take this River  by Henry Dumas

The day after Mercury stations retrograde we will experience both the ingress of Uranus into Taurus as well as a New Moon in Pisces conjoining Neptune. While the Pisces New Moon seeds meaning for the coming month, the entrance of Uranus into Taurus is seeding meaning for the next eight years. There is in addition the compelling symbolism that just as the waxing sliver of crescent lunar light emerges the following day, the Pisces Moon will be uniting with Mercury retrograde at the same time Mercury is descending into the darkness of its invisible phase at sunset. Thus we will be experiencing the waxing, increasing light of the lunar cycle at the exact time the light of Mercury wanes and descends into the darkness of its underworld phase.

Marsilio Ficino in Three Books on Life wrote that as the Moon “receives a life-giving power” from the Sun each time it forms a union, “she receives from Mercury in the same place [Mercury is always near the Sun] a force which blends her moistures,” since Mercury has “the virtue of his own transformation into all other planets and by virtue of his many revolutions.” On March 6 and 7, we will have a syzygy seeding of the Pisces Moon with potent imaginal influences from Neptune, followed by an alchemical mixing by a psychopomp Mercury. There is incredible imagination and fantasy within these aspects that will be able to be utilized in any field involving creativity. It also means that we will need to apply extra attention to detail, such as repeatedly reviewing steps in any process for miscues. While intuitive capacities will be heightened with Mercury retrograde in Pisces, we can also overlook a small detail that leads us astray.

It will be worth being willing to wander in March, bringing the possibility of becoming temporarily lost. Sometimes we have to become lost or pursue the wrong direction at first in order to ultimately arrive at the place we need to be. With Uranus entering Taurus, there will be dramatic developments within personal narratives, with some people having to cope with unexpected shocks shattering their former reality. Moreover, with all of this happening at the same time that Pluto, Saturn, and the South Node of the Moon will be getting closer together, there will be immense breakdowns and power struggles erupting within societal structures to contend with.  The influence of these Capricorn placements also means new ideas and remedies may be found amongst old traditions and ancient lineages. The tricks and subterfuges that come with Mercury retrograde can tease us into bending perception enough to receive the necessary guidance or change in direction.

Georgia O'Keefe music - pink and blue

Georgia O’Keeffe (1918) Music – Pink and Blue No. 1

The week of March 6 through March 13 beckons us into a cavernous depth of disintegration, a period that Gary Caton likened to the Nigredo phase of alchemy in his book Hermetica Tryptycha. During this week we may feel forced to release attachments to connections that previously brought security, or we may choose to consciously breakdown old material. The underlying meaning is to align ourselves with a process of separating elements in order to ultimately synthesize a new understanding by the end of the retrograde period. Interestingly, during the first week of Mercury retrograde it will form an exact sextile aspect with the transiting South Node of the Moon in Capricorn, and a trine aspect with the transiting North Node of the Moon in Cancer. The interface with the lunar nodes increases the likelihood that the circumstances we will be facing and needing to alter will guide us into a vital change of heart or shift in what we feel is most important to focus on going forward.

Making it all more disorienting is the strong influence from outer, transpersonal planets. On the one hand there is the serious gravity of Pluto with Saturn and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn that is demanding a stripping away of the inessential and honoring the honing of what endures across time. While the Capricorn emphasis prods us to persevere with dedication toward developing goals, there is also a heavy karmic aspect of having to face the shadow side of ambition and its effects. In addition, there is also the earth shaking volatility of Uranus entering Taurus that can dramatically amplify feelings of disruption, destruction, and revelation, requiring a rearranging of beliefs and expectations in order to accept and receive whatever rapid developments are unleashed.

Yet on a core level Mercury’s retrograde is most of all centered around the last quarter square phase between Jupiter in Sagittarius with Neptune in Pisces. The current stage of the Jupiter and Neptune cycle is about clearing or clarifying outdated, misleading beliefs while simultaneously receiving intimations of the course to follow into the future. As part of this process we will have to withstand external emotional dynamics at times, as Mercury retrograde in the mutable and watery Pisces can correlate with amorphous personal boundaries that are more susceptible to emotional influences. Yet the sensitivity of Mercury in Pisces to surrounding emotions can be utilized as a gift for discerning the underlying feelings behind what is spoken, as well as the meaning behind what is unspoken.

During the first week of Mercury retrograde make sure to pay attention to the symbolism of dream images, the oracular appearances of animals and other signs within daily travels, and any other omens giving guidance into the regenerative change underway. This is a period to listen to the voice of your inner senses and unconscious messages with a willingness to begin aligning external changes with internal promptings. Whenever awareness brings realization of illusions that have been influencing you, instead of being upset over uprooting a delusive pattern, embrace the opportunity to clear out or compost whatever you have outgrown in order to help fertilize the new vision to come.

pegasus and bellerophon

Odilon Redon (1888) Pegasus and Bellerophon

Chthonic Cazimi

The heliacal setting of a star corresponds to its death and its passage into the underworld. Remember, the word synodic, or “union,” is derived from sunodos, and also means “sexual union.” The protected space at the heart of the Sun is the sanctum sanctorum, the innermost holy chamber of the mystery initiations. Here, the union of a planet or star with the Sun represents the seminal impregnation and regeneration. The rebirth occurs at the heliacal rise, as the planet emerges from the womb of the solar rays.

— Demetra George, Ancient Astrology, Vol 1

A new cycle of Mercury will be seeded by its conjunction with the Pisces Sun on March 14. This is the inferior conjunction of Mercury when the Star of Hermes is purified and regenerated while aligned in orbit between Earth and the Sun by zodiacal degree. Though the full meaning of the coming cycle of Mercury remains unclear at this point, one can experience clarifying reflection and reception of key insight on the day Mercury is within one degree of conjunction with the Sun. This particular inferior conjunction of Mercury retrograde in Pisces is especially potent as Mercury is applying closely to a square aspect with Jupiter in Sagittarius. As a result, Jupiter is receiving Mercury in the sacred heart of the Pisces Sun into its fiery home of Sagittarius, inciting a vision of future meaning to manifest. Thus Mercury will be seated upon the throne of the Sun with all of the resources of inspirational and expansive Jupiter at its disposal.

There is also a stellar influence to the inferior conjunction, as the solar seeding of Mercury will occur at 24°11′ Pisces near the fixed star Markab in the Pegasus constellation. Markab is the alpha star of Pegasus located in the wings of the horse, also known as being the saddle of the Winged Horse. Bernadette Brady described Markab as representing solidity and reliability,  “a point of steadiness or the power to maintain stability under pressure,” something we need if we wish to ride a soaring Pegasus. Brady noted the symbolism of Markab can be positive in the sense of having the leadership skills to handle crises, as well as negative when becoming overly stubborn and refusing to consider alternative perspectives. It’s a fitting star to be aligned with this moment of Mercury’s retrograde when we can recenter in the seat of the sun, riding the inspirational forces of Jupiter.

The Pegasus constellation has also been connected with inspirational intellect and strident, groundbreaking initiative.  The ambitious striving of Pegasus and the potential of both insightful breakthroughs as well as falls from lofty heights is found within the mythology of the Winged Horse. There is a duality of light and shadow with Pegasus:  on the one hand Pegasus is felt as a fount of inspiration and the seat of heroes, while on the other hand Pegasus was born from violence and betrayal and tied not only to the slaying of monsters but the monstrous egotistical hubris that could overcome those who rode Pegasus.  We find here the binding in which there is no good without evil, no heroes without monsters, and the concept that the path forward for our growth necessitates encountering the darker elements of self.

The link between the inferior conjunction of Mercury with Pegasus suggests the flights of vision and invention we wish to launch must simultaneously involve a purification and purging of excessive pride and the corruption that can come with ambitious striving. Interestingly, the sabian symbol for the degree of the inferior conjunction compellingly aligns with all of its surrounding astrological aspects: a religious organization succeeds in overcoming the corrupting influence of perverted practices and materialized ideals. Dane Rudhyar gave the following elaboration that fits extremely well for the solar seeding and purification of Mercury:

(PISCES 25°) KEYNOTE: The power of the Soul to intervene in the personal life and to induce necessary catharses.

Every man is a Church that has the Soul as its god, but most men forget the Soul and live according to dogmatic rules and habits which not only have become empty of inner meaning, but very often have been perverted by the demands of the senses and the emotional nature, and by the ego with its rationalizing intellect. A purging or catharsis is needed to restore not only fresh and creative spontaneity, but even more the contact with the Soul and the God-ordained dharma.

— Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases.

Astro-Errante-1961 Remedios Varo

Astro Errante by Remedios Varo

Full Moon Equinox

In the week of March 15 through March 22, while Mercury retrograde has been purified and reseeded by its union with the Sun, it remains invisible and so we will still be immersed in a process of discovering and exploring the new forms of meaning and understanding taking shape. An incredibly illuminating part of this process will occur on March 20, the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere, when the Sun will ingress into Aries and a Full Moon in Libra will culminate. Considered to be the astrological new year, the Aries ingress this year is extra potent due to the moon waxing full on the same day.  With Mercury simultaneously retrograde and on the cusp of reemerging into visibility as a Morning Star, we will feel like new shoots of green are ready to burst forth from within, cracking open whatever has previously been constraining. Let yourself receive whatever vision of potential dreams and goals arise without restriction or repression.

The challenge during this phase of the Mercury retrograde is that we may sense new vision and meaning without having everything fully in place in order to successfully manifest and embody the change within the reality of our current circumstances. It’s also likely that we may not have all the information we need to make a final decision at this time, in part due to Mercury still being retrograde but also due to it applying closely to another conjunction with Neptune. If major decisions have to be made this week, do your best to repeatedly review the details and listen closely to your intuition regarding whether or not it feels like the direction to pursue. If major decisions can be put off for another week, let things settle and reformulate before you make a final judgment. This week can be best used for brainstorming and creative exploration and experimentation.

Magritte_Wonders-of-Nature

Wonders of Nature by Rene Magritte

The Trident and the Caduceus

All truths wait in all things, / They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it, / They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon, / The insignificant is as big to me as any, / What is less or more than a touch?

Logic and sermons never convince, / The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.

Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so, / Only what nobody denies is so.

A minute and a drop of me settle my brain; / I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and lamps, / And a compend of compends is the meat of a man or woman, / And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have for each other, / And they are to branch boundlessly out of that lesson until it becomes omnific, / And until every one shall delight us, and we them.

— from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (published with Uranus in Taurus)

After Mercury retrograde reemerges in light as a Morning Star in the liminal moistness of dawn, heralding the return of sunrise, it will form its second conjunction with Neptune in Pisces on March 24.  At this point Mercury will be visible again, and in correspondence we should gain greater clarity regarding whatever changes have been taking shape over the past month. However, Mercury will be enveloped with the fogginess of being in close proximity with the otherworldly Neptune for an extended period of time: after it finally stations direct on March 28 at 16°05′ Pisces, it will not be until April 2 that Mercury will complete its final conjunction with Neptune at 17°08′ Pisces.

As a result, with Mercury stationing direct in conjunction with Neptune the feeling of waking up from the dream of Mercury retrograde may feel more like a waking dream. Whenever Mercury stations, we need to be as fully alert as possible to the details of our daily work and responsibility. With Mercury united with Neptune, there is an added feature of extrasensory perception and symbolic awareness that will be capable of picking up additional messages in unexpected places. It will be helpful to engage in whatever sorts of reflective practices can help you ground in the reality of your circumstances so as to not become swept too far away by fantasy. This can be a dreamy time of poetic inspiration, artistic expression, and fertile creativity, just don’t let feelings of blissful revelry distract you from taking care of a necessary responsibility.

Indeed, Mercury is stationing not only in union with Neptune, but also in range of a harmonizing sextile with Saturn in Capricorn. While we will need to handle our daily responsibilities, there is also potential playfulness within these aspects that can be a soothing remedy for any overworking from Saturn. Saturn is in its nocturnal, earthy home of the Sea Goat, and so this is an ideal time for the Mer-goat to dip its tail into the water to dissolve the stress of old expectations. As Mercury begins to move forward again while engaging both Neptune and Saturn, we can reorder our priorities so that our dedication and work is being guided more towards whatever brings intrinsic happiness and joy.

At the same time Mercury is stationing direct, Venus will enter her exaltation of Pisces on March 26. Venus will then pursue a union with Neptune that will culminate on April 10, the same day that Jupiter stations retrograde in Sagittarius. Amazingly, this is also the same time that Mercury will be reaching maximum elongation as a Morning Star and completing its final square aspect with Jupiter on April 11. As outlined by Gary Caton in Hermetica Triptycha, this is the rubedo alchemical stage of Mercury’s cycle in which we are challenged to fully bring the meaning we retrieved during the retrograde phase into our daily life. With the interplay between Venus and Neptune as well as Mercury and Jupiter, there is enormous potential at this time for heart opening and expanding beyond previous constraints. However, breaking out of old shells and embracing a more enlivened presence is not always easy, and we will likely need to navigate volatility as we engage in our own inner process of volatile change.

Ultimately, it will be worthwhile to persist in following the new vision rather than retreating back to the comfort of the previous status quo. In the legendary words of Devo, “Twist away the gates of steel / Unlock the secret voice / Give in to ancient noise / Take a chance on a brand new dance / Twist away the gates of steel.”

the black pegasus

Odilon Redon

References

Brady, Bernadette. (2008). Star and Planet Combinations. Wessex Astrologer.

Caton, Gary. (2017). Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year. Rubedo Press.

Ficino, Marsilio. (1998). Three Books on Life: A Critical Edition and Translation with Introduction and Notes by Carol V. Kaske and John R. Clark. Tempe: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies.

George, Demetra. (2019). Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice: a Manual of Traditional Techniques. Rubedo Press.

Rudhyar, Dane.  (1958).  The Jupiter-Neptune Cycle.  Horoscope Magazine.

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

 

Virgo Full Moon: Torch of Regulus

Astraea

Astraea

Full Moon in Virgo

Around the hollow of her right flank a great stream of the primordially-generated Soul gushes forth in abundance, totally ensouling light, fire, ether, worlds.

In the left flank of Hekate exists the source of virtue, which remains entirely within and does not give up its virginity.

The Chaldean Oracles translated by Ruth Majercik, fragments 51 & 52

The Full Moon in Virgo on February 19 dramatically illuminates the ingress of the Sun into Pisces and is conjoining the fixed star Regulus, the heart of the lion, at zero degrees of Virgo. Due to precession of the equinoxes with the tropical zodiac, the fixed star Regulus entered tropical Virgo at the end of 2011, seen by many as ushering humanity into a new era in 2012 and beyond. Known as the heart of the lion in the Leo constellation, Regulus is one of the four royal stars of Persia that has anchored the zodiac and seasons for ages. In ancient Egypt when the Leo constellation rose at summer solstice with the flooding of the Nile, Regulus as the heart of the lion  served as the fierce protector and guardian of the revivifying water essential to civilization. Across astrological traditions, Regulus has been associated with leadership and power, the type of fiery strength that can achieve success and victory against all odds. According to Bernadette Brady, the nemesis of Regulus is revenge, meaning its ambitious qualities need to be balanced by restraining from seeking retribution and vengeance if we wish to secure the success it can bring.

In Indian astrology, the nakshatra of Regulus where the full moon will ripen is Magha, the seat or throne of the king that has been linked with splendor, regality, prosperity, power, and the will force needed to achieve important endeavors and victories. Dennis Harness described the shadow side of Magha in connection with the extreme ambition that resides here, such as “arrogance” and “prejudice,” over attachment to “material prosperity” and “identification with class status,” as well as “divine restlessness or chronic discontent” for falling short of high aspirations and perfectionist standards. Harness further described the danger of constant courting of external approval at expense of the essential self.

Magha’s ruling deities are the ancestor spirits Pitris, making the nakshatra associated with gifts and benefits brought by ancestors, as well as loyalty to spiritual lineages. Harness described Pitris as “the great Fathers of Humanity, who function as guardian angels giving protection in the event of major calamities on earth.” Interestingly Ketu is the ruler of Magha, since transiting Venus, Saturn, and Pluto are near the South Node of the Moon at the time of the Virgo Full Moon. Thus the Virgo Full Moon can amplify our capacity to receive support from lineages, a potential also signified by the grouping of Venus, Saturn, Pluto and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn.

Regulus is also central to the tenth lunar mansion Al-Jabhah, or “The Brow,” described in the Picatrix as the head of a lion. It is considered a starry place of recovery, healing, aid, improvement, strength, power, and success according to Christopher Warnock in his book on the mansions of the moon. Warnock described the sound of a mighty lion roar reverberating throughout this lunar mansion, signifying a return to power and strength following a period of sadness or depression.

In light of these connections between the Virgo Full Moon and Regulus, it is significant that the moon reaching peak light is separating from a trine with Uranus in Aries and applying to a trine with Mars in Taurus. There is incredible empowerment and assertion within these aspects which are further intriguing to consider with the shift of Regulus into the more humble, service oriented sign of Virgo. The starry power of Regulus may be applied to our discernment and choices, fueling desire for the strength of our authentic integrity to serve the greater good rather than feeding the flames of glamor, fame, and self recognition. In spite of the flooding of social media in recent years with selfies and self promotion, perhaps part of the meaning to be found with Regulus in tropical Virgo is to be a powerful support for others, to take leadership on behalf of one’s community, and to achieve goals without the need for proclamations or receiving external praise.

The Sea of Time and Space (Vision of the Circle of the Life of Man) by William Blake (London 1757 - London 1827)

The Sea of Time and Space by William Blake

Mercury in Pisces rules the Full Moon while conjoining Neptune in Pisces, making it the most imaginative, otherworldly, nebulous, and abstractly poetic lunation in Virgo imaginable.  Mercury is in its new Evening Star phase following its celestial cazimi in Aquarius, revitalized and freshened, visible in the twilight of sunset to help us digest and discern meaning from our daily experiences. Since Mercury is beginning to separate from its conjunction with Neptune at the time of the Full Moon, our ruminating thoughts will be more far ranging within imaginal spaces than normal, making our fantasies more potentially fruitful for new visions and ideas to cultivate.

Yet while Mercury in Pisces is separating from a conjunction with fantastical Neptune in Pisces, it is applying toward a sextile aspect with the hard reality and consolidating nature of Saturn in Capricorn. Part of this meaning can be applied to the reality that while Mercury is at the beginning of a strong phase within its synodic cycle, its recent union with Neptune also means that it has entered into the shadow of its upcoming Mercury retrograde phase in Pisces that will dominate the month of March. In fact, Mercury will remain in Pisces until April 17 and since Mercury will ultimately station direct at the end of March in a conjunction with Neptune, we will be returning for an extended period of Mercury conjoining Neptune again from March 20 through April 7.

Knowing a Mercury retrograde in Pisces will be starting on March 5, keep in mind that the imaginative visions and ideas you may receive at the Virgo Full Moon are likely to undergo many changes and shifts from now through April. Mercury’s applying sextile toward Saturn in Capricorn means we need to ground developing plans in the light of the full moon into secure structures that will both protect developing ideas as well as provide the needed flexibility for mutation in form over the next month. Mercury will also be in range of a sextile aspect with Venus in Capricorn for the rest of February which will never perfect due to the ultimate stationing of Mercury. We can have a rich exploration of aesthetics, playing around with different forms of style with regarding to developing plans, keeping in mind that some of the ideas we experiment with will not turn out to be fruitful.

Significantly, as Mercury in Pisces moves away from its union with Neptune it begins to move toward being received by a square aspect from Jupiter in Sagittarius. Just as the union of Mercury and Neptune in Pisces is the first of three that Mercury will experience due to its impending retrograde, so is the square aspect between Mercury and Jupiter the first of three. Mercury as a result will be artfully weaving us into the heart of the dynamic square aspect between Neptune in Pisces and Jupiter in Sagittarius from now through the middle of April. Thus begins a time to open awareness to how your dreams and fantasies inform your perceptions, how the state of your beliefs impact what you receive as well as achieve in the world. The Full Moon in Virgo is illuminating an initial glimpse into the depths of your inner world, bringing the possibility of self realization and reordering how we use our inner visions to manifest what we truly wish to create and manifest. There may be some disillusionment and waking up to self defeating patterns as part of this process, yet the upcoming Mercury retrograde may then be used to shed those same patterns.

darkness

Darkness by Thomas Danaher

Venus in Capricorn is separating from a conjunction with Saturn and is applying toward a union with Pluto and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn in the following week. Venus will conjoin Pluto on February 22 and the South Node of the Moon on February 25. Continuing to herald the sun as a Morning Star, Venus will be bringing us into fully feeling the ramifications of however the triple lineup of Saturn, Pluto, and Ketu in Capricorn is impacting us. On collective levels we can clearly see these effects in global power struggles and uprisings of conservative, nationalistic, and totalitarian politics, yet on an individual levels the type of intensified honing and consolidation demanded by these transits may feel exhausting.

As Venus moves through Saturn, Pluto, and Ketu, she is not calling for excess or the grandiose, but instead to strip away the inessential, find wisdom in elders and ancestral lineages, and to diligently and thoroughly build sturdy, substantial foundational elements of life with patient discipline open to the fluctuations of fortune. Moreover, after moving across Pluto and the South Node of the Moon, Venus will then move on to square Uranus at the final degree of Aries at the end of February. This occurs just before Uranus enters Taurus on March 6 and comes under the rulership of Venus. Altogether, Venus is leading us through an important process for the rest of February in which we will have to face restraining elements within our life, yet by embracing the necessity and making modifications as needed, we will begin preparing personal space for the disruptive and liberating impact of Uranus in Taurus coming in March.

Chiron, Themis and Hebe

Chiron in Aries

The Virgo Full Moon also heralds the arrival of Chiron into Aries, where it will remain until 2027. Chiron is not only at the “Aries point” of zero degrees, it is also forming a quincunx aspect with the Virgo Full Moon. There’s something perfect about the quincunx between the lunation and Chiron, as the Full Moon’s union with Regulus points toward Chiron’s capacity for cultivating heroic qualities. Yet the quincunx aspect brings up the uncomfortable feelings that can come up when the gentle gaze of Chiron prods us to break out of comfortable routines in order to embrace a more courageous, essential expression.

The Full Moon is illuminating our first impressions of what Chiron has in store for us in Aries, the zodiacal terrain in which Chiron orbits as far away from us as it gets toward the orbit of Uranus. As Chiron’s orbit bridges the realms of Saturn and Uranus, in Aries his medicine incites us to follow the emancipatory influence of Uranus and its corresponding breakthrough experiences and reception of revelatory insight. Chiron in Aries wants you to be engaged and active, willing to assert your own integrity rather than succumb to conditioning influences which corrupt your authenticity. This is easier said than done, but fittingly for Chiron’s return to Aries our global society now has an abundance of teaching available on holistic medicine and healing practices to be accessed at our fingertips, as well as to be utilized on the heroic path Chiron is calling us to follow. It is no coincidence that Carl Jung, who promoted the concept of individuation, was born with Chiron in Aries.

 

Virgo 1 Decan

The Full Moon in Virgo arises in the first decan of Virgo associated with the Eight of Pentacles card illustrated above on the left by Pamela Colman Smith. The Virgo Full Moon will peak in light just after the ingress of the Sun into the first decan of Pisces, associated with the Eight of Cups card illustrated above on the right by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image of the Eight of Pentacles 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. In contrast, within the image of the Eight of Cups we find a figure retreating into a watery, island realm of caves and seclusion ideal for contemplation. Their staff planted in earth, their red cape and boots signify the flowing vitality they may contact within a cultivated space of sacred meditation and ritual.

In the confluence of these images, we may also discover the power the Virgo Full Moon may harvest from its proximity to Regulus: strength in cultivating protected space to focus with loving attention on our sacred arts.  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. Coppock wrote that the first face of Virgo inmates us “into the mysteries of incarnation . . . the prudence of postponing delight until the fruit is ripe.” While Coppock noted the first decan of Virgo involves “humility” at a core level, “it results in works of surprising glory.”

The Sun in the first face of Pisces is the ruler of the first face of Virgo, opening us to a Pisces season which will be extremely memorable due the retrograde movement of Mercury that will strike to the heart of the square aspect between Jupiter and Neptune. The vision of a potential “great work” received within the Virgo Full Moon conjoining Regulus is to be remembered, but expectations for the path toward manifestation to be smooth and easy need to be released. With Uranus on the cusp of entering Taurus, with the coming Mercury retrograde mixing up the depths of Jupiter and Neptune, there will be an ample abundance of imagination and creativity to draw from in any work. Let the creative process flow through you and allow its currents to guide you, letting go of attachment for needing to control things to happen in a certain way at a certain time. Nature and Spirit have their own plan in mind.

References

Brady, Bernadette. (2008). Star and Planet Combinations. Wessex Astrologer.

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

de Fouw, Hart & Svoboda, Robert. (1996). Light on Life: Introduction to the Astrology of  India. Lotus Press.

Harness, Dennis. (1999). The Nakshatras: the Lunar Mansions of Vedic Astrology. Lotus Press.

Majercik, Ruth. (1989). The Chaldean Oracles. Brill Academic Pub.

Warnock, Christopher. (2010). The Mansions of the Moon: a Lunar Zodiac for Astrology & Magic. Renaissance Astrology.

 

Aquarian mythos on the Hermetic Astrology Podcast

 

Hapi

Hapi, Egyptian deity of the inundation of the Nile

Myths of the Aquarius Constellation

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Gary Caton on the Hermetic Astrology Podcast exploring various myths associated with the Aquarius constellation. For the most part we focused upon Ganymede in Greek culture, Enki in Mesopotamian culture, and Hapi in Egyptian culture, as well as the ancient association of a cataclysmic Great Flood with Aquarius. We also talk about some of the ideas linked to C.G. Jung’s conception of the Age of Aquarius, and how his idea of the union of opposites can also be connected to the mythology of Aquarius.  I experienced a greater opening in understanding Aquarius through researching these myths and my conversation with Gary, and hope that you do too! If you haven’t listened to Gary’s Hermetic Astrology Podcast before, I recommend checking it out. Click here to listen.

Ea_(Babilonian)_-_EnKi_(Sumerian)

Enki, second on the right with water flowing from shoulders, has ancient associations with the Aquarius constellation and its watery section of the night sky

In the podcast I referenced my friend Jason Holley and his talk about the Ganymede myth in relation to the Aquarius archetype. If interested you can order his talk on Aquarius from Astrology University by clicking here.

Ganymede_Waters_Zeus_as_an_Eagle_by_Thorvaldsen

Ganymede Waters Zeus as an Eagle by Bertel Thorvaldsen

 

Aquarius New Moon & Mercury

Clavis Artis mercury snake woman

from the Clavis Artis

New Moon in Aquarius

The Aquarius New Moon on February 4, 2019 lifts us out of the strange vortex of eclipse season for a breath of fresh air that can help us reorient our life in accordance with whatever material has been stirred up since the Capricorn Solar Eclipse on January 5.  The New Moon is at 15º43′ degrees of Aquarius, placing it at the cross quarter point midway between the solstice and equinox. This period is associated with the goddess Brigid in Celtic mythology who signifies the returning healing light of spring, fertility, poetry, and the arts forged through smithcraft. Fittingly, the New Moon is applying to a harmonizing sextile aspect with Jupiter in Sagittarius, ideal for  finding a new form of stability to manage following the changes of the past month, forging art out of our experiences, as well as integrating the important lessons that have been revealed about ourselves.

Vitally, Mercury in Aquarius is separating from a sextile with Jupiter in Sagittarius and applying tightly toward a conjunction with Black Moon Lilith in Aquarius at the time of the Aquarius New Moon. Mercury was recently reborn at its celestial cazimi in Aquarius, and similar to the darkened moon that we cannot see at the lunation, Mercury also remains within its invisible phase of forging new meaning for us to interpret and express. We truly are in the dark at the Aquarius New Moon, but as the night gives birth to Mercury a week or so after the lunation, with Mercury emerging in light again as an Evening Star in twilight, we will gain greater clarity. Mercury has been working within hidden places during the entire eclipse season, as it first disappeared under the beams of the sun as the solar rays were partially eclipsed on January 5. Applying to Black Moon Lilith, Mercury is highlighting parts of ourselves we had previously cast off that the recent eclipse season have indicated we now need to integrate and express.

In 20th century astrology Uranus became the dominant ruler of Aquarius, and it thus fascinating that Uranus is carrying perhaps the biggest story of the forthcoming lunation cycle. Just before the moon emerges into visible crescent form it will pass through a sextile with Uranus in Aries, highlighting that we have entered the final month of Uranus being in Aries. Uranus first entered Aries in 2010, immediately intensifying a catalytic square aspect with Pluto in Capricorn that dominated astrology through 2016. Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche described the Uranus and Pluto cycle as inciting “radical social and political change and often destructive upheaval, massive empowerment of revolutionary and rebellious impulses . . . intensified artistic and intellectual creativity . . . unusually rapid technological advance, an underlying spirit of restless experiment, drive for innovation, urge for freedom in many realms, revolt against oppression, embrace of radical political philosophies, and intensified collective will to bring forth a new world.” We will still be within the influence of the Uranus-Pluto square, but after Uranus enters Taurus and is no longer in a sign-based square with Pluto its edge will be less sharp.

Yet, since Uranus is separating away from Pluto while Saturn is applying to Pluto, the influence of the Saturn and Pluto cycle has been more viscerally felt. Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche described the Saturn and Pluto cycle as being about “conservative empowerment,” as its cycle aligns with “eras of international crisis and conflict, empowerment of reactionary forces and totalitarian impulses, organized violence and oppression . . . An atmosphere of gravity and tension.” Significantly, Mars in Aries has moved through a square aspect with both Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn and is now applying toward a conjunction with Uranus, bringing both cycles together on personal and societal levels.

Mars will complete is union with Uranus in Aries on February 12, and so there will be a great amount of tension building from the Aquarius New Moon to be released at that time. While collective events will reverberate with the changes that have been in process since 2010, on personal levels we will also be coming to terms with our own process of growth. The union of Mars with Uranus in Aries is impulsive and headstrong, and while difficult to restrain we will want to do our best to align the forceful fire of their conjunction with our inner values and integrity.  It will be best to not incite conflict where it is not necessary, but in any circumstance in which we need to stand up for ourselves it will bring an assertive, liberating, propulsive push.

The forthcoming lunation cycle also brings the end of Chiron’s time in Pisces, as Chiron will enter Aries as the moon is waxing into fullness on February 18. Chiron will then remain in the fiery home of Mars until 2027. Chiron first entered Pisces in April 2010 during the time period that the Uranus-Pluto square was beginning to intensify, and so has been with us in the watery home of Jupiter the entire time we have been dealing with the epochal eruptions of Uranus and Pluto throughout our global collective. Considering whatever house in your natal chart belongs to Pisces, in particular if the final degree of Pisces is significant by aspect in your natal chart, you can expect a final lesson of resolution relating to Chiron in the sign of Fishes as the light of the moon grows each day toward fullness.

In Pisces, Chiron has oftentimes needed to lead us into the innermost depths of his cave in order to nurture wounds, integrate lessons, and intuitively attune ourselves to changing currents through his vast array of hermetic medicines. We are now at the final weeks of receiving healing from the inner waters of Chiron before we will need to strike out on a fiery quest as Chiron enters Aries on February 18. Just as Chiron brought us resources from Pisces during the square between Uranus and Pluto, Chiron will now be bringing resources from Aries to assert ourselves during the coming union of Saturn and Pluto. Since the Saturn and Pluto cycle is oftentimes associated with oppressive, reactionary forces, we can link the square formed to Capricorn from Chiron in Aries with freedom fighters and social justice activists, as well as consequences of conflict brought by protest and revolutionary movements.

atalanta fugiens saturn emblem 12

Michael Maier, Emblem 12 from Atalanta Fugiens

The way we work with and become impacted by Jupiter is often tied to the familial, cultural, and societal traditions that have been surrounding and influencing us. There is currently a strong influence of Neptune in Pisces on all of this, as Neptune is in a change inducing square aspect with Jupiter, and Neptune is also in a harmonious sextile aspect with Saturn in Capricorn, the ruler of the Aquarius New Moon. Jupiter will expand within the skeletal structures we have erected with Saturn, and so for many Jupiter could be expanding self centered and overly materialistic tendencies, or a nationalistic emphasis that neglects alternative viewpoints as well as more far reaching, global consequences of putting one’s own interests above others. The influence of Neptune is multivalent, in some cases keeping people wrapped up in illusions of belief, in other cases dissolving old belief structures through disillusioning experiences that reveal new awareness of personal truth.  Aquarius is zodiacal terrain ruled by Saturn that promotes the heretic willing to cut ties with corrosive cultural patterns, contemplating a new path to follow aligned in greater accord with inner integrity.

The work of C.G. Jung is interesting in connection with Saturn’s rulership of Aquarius, not only because Jung had both his ascendant and Saturn in Aquarius, but also due to many of his ideas in late 20th century astrology becoming associated with the Uranus rulership of Aquarius. It has been fascinating for me to read the two volumes written by Liz Greene thoroughly researching Jung’s work with astrology, as she revealed that Jung in fact not only emphasized the Saturn rulership of Aquarius, but also that he connected Saturn with “the unconscious darkness within the human being: that which is most despised and ‘inferior’ .  . .”  Saturn to Jung leads us to confront “the darkness of the unconscious,” a necessity for “any integration of the personality to occur.”

Jung also noted the important alchemical link between Mercury and Saturn, synthesizing it into his astrological interpretation of them- meaning which connects to the proximity of Mercury in Aquarius to the new moon. Greene described his interpretation as revealing that the “shadowy, potentially destructive prima materia of the unconscious, represented by Saturn, bears a secret unity with the mysterious mediating agency in the psyche, represented by Mercury, that fosters the conscious recognition of meaning and teleology.” In a similar way, all of the unconscious material that emerged into awareness during the past month of eclipses now needs to be sifted, mediated, and mixed into our actual daily presence, rather than splitting it off or dissociating.

C.G. Jung’s work is also resonant with our historical era of Saturn and Pluto coming together in Capricorn because Jung was born with an almost exact square aspect between his natal Saturn in Aquarius and Pluto in Taurus. Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche brilliantly summarized the connection between Jung’s work with the meaning of the Saturn-Pluto cycle:

Throughout his life, Jung stressed the critical need for the modern self to become aware of its shadow, which he named, recognized as an archetypal principle, and examined in the traumas of twentieth-century history: the shadow of European civilization, the shadow of modern man, the shadow of modern technology, the shadow of patriarchy and masculine one-sidedness, the shadow of Christianity, the shadow of the conscious ego, the shadow within each individual. “It is indeed no small matter to know of one’s own guilt and one’s own evil, and there is certainly nothing to be gained by losing sight of one’s shadow . . . Without guilt, unfortunately there can be no psychic maturation and no widening of the spiritual horizon.”

. . . The very notion of the shadow as Jung conceived it represents an intricate synthesis of the two planetary principles: from Saturn, the motifs of judgment, guilt and shame, suppression and repression, splitting and separation, denial, the inferior, that which is regretted and negated; and from Pluto, those aspects of the self that constitute its “underworld,” the instincts, the dark depths of the personality, the animal-like, the often ruthless and ugly, serving impulses for power, domination, lust, and other drives yet also representing that healthy instinctuality from which healing, wholeness, and a higher consciousness can ultimately emerge.

— Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche

meret-oppenheim-stone-woman-steinfrau-1938

Meret Oppenheim Stone Woman

Venus enters Capricorn the day before the Aquarius New Moon, and then moves toward a conjunction with Saturn as the moon waxes full in the forthcoming lunar cycle. By the end of the lunar cycle, Venus will have moved through unions with Pluto and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn, as well as a catalytic square aspect with Uranus in the final degree of Aries. There are a couple of ways to view this journey of Venus in her bright Morning Star phase: on one hand, it can be seen as a rough, restraining passage for Venus necessitating focused hard work. This time period is in stark contrast to last month when Venus was uniting with Jupiter in Sagittarius while aspecting Neptune in Pisces, as it brings Venus back to earth in a way that will force us to mediate the limitations of current circumstances as well as the underlying, unconscious depths of our shadow.

On the other hand, an important viewpoint is that Venus is bringing her unifying significations to mediate the building tension between Saturn and Pluto. Capricorn is a sensual and tactile placement for Venus, and her movement through aspects with Saturn, Pluto, the South Node of the Moon, and Uranus means that we will be deeply feeling all of the associated material within ourselves and within our relational dynamics. Though difficult feelings may come during this transit, the passage of Venus during the forthcoming lunar cycle will help us to orient ourselves toward however the myriad aspects of our lives are taking shape in accordance with the coming union of Saturn and Pluto. As Capricorn is a cardinal sign of initiation, Venus can help guide us toward places we need to make adjustments within our relationships.

As the Moon waxes toward fullness, there will be a major astrological shift away from externally directed signs toward receptive, internally directed signs. Mars will shift from Aries into the inner, earthy sign of Taurus on February 14 where the red planet will look to Venus for guidance. Mercury will enter the inner, watery sign of Pisces a week after the Aquarius New Moon, as it also reemerges into visibility as an Evening Star with a significant Neptunian message for us to receive.  As a result the week following the Aquarius New Moon will feel active with an accelerated pace that will begin to slow down in the days leading into the Full Moon in Virgo on February 19.

swords06

6 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Aquarius 2 Decan

The New Moon in Aquarius falls in the second decan of Aquarius associated with the Six of Swords card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The Swords in the image are anchored, suggesting firm resolve and grounding, yet staked into a boat journeying through watery, liminal space. There is a vision behind the image, a bold determination to follow foresight into foreign territory, with the ferryman in a role of guidance not unlike the psychopomp Mercury.  The destination on the far shore is not capable of being reached by the passengers without the utility of the boat and the labor of the ferryman, and so there is a letting go in needing to be along for the ride. The image also reveals three of the swords staked into the dark void at the front of the boat, while the other three are placed in protection around the mother and child.

The second face of Aquarius is ruled by Mercury, found in the image of the Six of Swords as the ferryman creating a network between shores.  Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “Heaven and Earth” to this face, writing that it connects multiple territories with a sense of “principled but fierce wisdom” that utilizes the independence of Aquarius to stabilize “commerce between heaven and earth.”  Coppock described it as a place to “connect worlds without becoming beholden to them,” acting in accordance with “one’s principles” in a way that allows for the mediation and forging of “the orthodox and unorthodox, the known and the unknown.” Coppock also noted the link of Phobos to this face in the Hellenistic text 36 Airs, signifying the terror and fear many feel when encountering the unknown and alien.

Interestingly, Mercury is barely present within the second face of Aquarius it rules at the exact moment the New Moon aligns, on the threshold of leaving the second decan of Aquarius to cross into the third decan of Aquarius. In the month of February, all of the planets are direct and after Mercury becomes visible again in the week after the lunation, all of the planets will also be visible. If you are being compelled to take a risk of entering unknown territory, leaving a familiar situation for the unfamiliar, there is plenty of planetary impetus to support getting the work done. Moreover, since the month of March will be dominated by Mercury retrograde in Pisces, the month ahead is opportune for taking strides to make progress and solidify structures in preparation for the mercurial shifting that will be coming in March. Since we can expect the unexpected manifestations of Uranus, the more we embrace change and coming up with new solutions, the better. Heed the ancient words of Heraclitus: “Whoever cannot seek / the unforeseen sees nothing, / for the known way / is an impasse.”

References

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

Greene, Liz. (2018). Jung’s Studies in Astrology: Prophecy, Magic, and the Qualities of Time. Routledge.

Greene, Liz. (2018). The Astrological World of Jung’s Liber Novus: Daimons, Gods, and the Planetary Journey. Routledge.

Haxton, Brooks. (2001). Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus. Viking.

Tarnas, Richard. (2007). Cosmos and Psyche. Plume.