Scorpio New Moon: Fire from the Depths

William Blake blasted tree and moon

Blasted Trees and Flattened Crops, from Thornton’s Pastorals of Virgil (1821) by William Blake

New Moon in Scorpio

Scorpio is known as a place of depths, deep feelings and desire to penetrate through superficial exteriors into the hidden core of matters.  Scorpio is also the zodiac sign perhaps most commonly associated with death and rebirth processes, those experiences called regenerative or transformative.  Yet Scorpio is also known to resist becoming vulnerable to the loss that comes with change, using any tactics imaginable to manipulate and control changing dynamics. The New Moon in Scorpio on November 7 comes at a time of tremendous changes within the cycles of astrology that indicate a necessity of surrendering to the elements of flowing flux outside our control. Jupiter, Uranus, and the lunar nodes are all changing signs in the days surrounding the Scorpio New Moon, while  about a week later Mars will also change signs at the same time both Venus and Mercury station and change directions. The sensitive, probing gifts of the Scorpion may be used within the darkness of the lunation to reorient plans within the shifts of both outer and inner landscapes.

For over a month we have been experiencing the liminal space of Venus retrograde, a time when our innermost values and desires mutate and bring about external alterations from transfiguration of inner roots. Within the darkness before the Scorpio Sun rises on the day of the New Moon, as the Dark Moon in Scorpio approaches its union with our hidden solar light, Venus will bring light into predawn skies as a Morning Star. Venus retrograde has returned not only to its heralding role as a Morning Star, but also has firmly established itself back into its home of Libra.

Thus the New Moon arrives in time to set intentions for the final week of Venus retrograde, a period in which Venus will only be moving about one degree before stationing in stillness. Due to Venus occupying its outwardly directed, airy domicile of the Scales, as well as stationing in close proximity with the beneficial fixed star Spica, the week of the waxing Moon following the New Moon can be used to actively gather whatever brilliant insights, ideas, and talents have been brewing and developing during the space of the Venus retrograde transit that began October 5.

At the same time Uranus maintaining its opposition with Venus retrograde will be amplifying the pace of developments and making everything more exciting, surprising, and ultimately liberating. Uranus retrograde returns to Aries the day before the Scorpio New Moon, bringing a torch of Promethean fire to the revelations arising in the final phase of Venus retrograde. Uranus has been in Taurus since May of 2018, and so its return to Aries will wrap up with finality the arc of narratives that developed across the seven year stretch of Uranus being in Aries that began in 2011 after an initial ingress in 2010 from the end of May through mid August. No longer under the rulership of Venus in Taurus, Uranus has now returned to being ruled by Mars in the fiery, independent, and impulsive sign of Aries. Uranian fires will bring the heat to needed to volatilize matters to a level that pushes us to take action to rebalance elements of life ready to shift in the final phase of Venus retrograde in Libra.

Scorpio New Moon

Shepherd chases away a wolf, from Thornton’s Pastorals of Virgil (1931) by William Blake

Mars in Aquarius rules the Scorpio New Moon while forming a flowing trine with Venus retrograde in Libra and receiving Uranus in Aries through a harmonizing sextile.  There has been an embattled dynamic involving Venus and Mars at times this year, with Mars in Aquarius previously stationing retrograde in range of square to the degree that Venus later stationed retrograde at in Scorpio, and Mars in Aquarius forming a square to Venus at the beginning of its retrograde in Scorpio.  Mars is now in a mediating position between the opposition of Venus and Uranus, which means the significations of Mars such as vitality, courage, protection, defense, assertion, and separating from undesirable circumstances are all strongly available to be used in negotiating the final phase of Venus retrograde.

Mars has been in Aquarius since May 17 (with a return to Capricorn in August and the beginning of September); we have had a long time to work with whatever aspects Mars in Aquarius has been making in our astrology charts, and we are now in the final week of experiencing Mars in the sign of the Water Bearer. Mars in Aquarius is able to use the airy placement to forge supportive connections and pinpoint areas of growth to focus on that can bring far ranging benefit.  Allow yourself to be surprised if necessary by whatever arises to demand your attention in the week following the New Moon.

Scorpio New Moon

Moonscape (1959) Kurt Seligmann

The Scorpio New Moon forms a flowing trine with Neptune in Pisces and a creatively harmonious sextile with Pluto in Capricorn.  These are deep aspects that promote our capacity to align with the larger changes happening across our global collective. Since its likely we may not agree or like what’s happening in many areas, we need to cultivate how to nurture ourselves and loved ones in personal spheres while at the same time not becoming overwhelmed by how the tides of mass change in the greater collective are swirling outside our control. The Scorpio New Moon supports the popular mantra of being the change you want to see in the world, taking the responsibility available to participate fully in the world in line with inner integrity.

The Scorpio New Moon also arrives at the same time that the nodes of the Moon ingress into new signs, with the North Node of the Moon leaving Leo to enter Cancer, and the South Node of the Moon leaving Aquarius to enter Capricorn. As a result while Saturn in Capricorn remains the ruler of the South Node of the Moon, the Moon itself becomes the ruler of the North Node of the Moon. We will be experiencing the lunar nodes as well as eclipses in Cancer and Capricorn for the next year and a half, an alignment that supports taking the responsibility to temper and structure whatever is needed to nurture and cultivate desired growth. Yet with the fast moving Moon as the ruler of the North Node in Cancer, we will be constantly navigating a waxing and waning of tidal forces rather than being led by the steady course of the Sun that had been ruling the North Node in Leo for the past year and a half.

It is notable that as the lunar nodes switch into Cancer and Capricorn, they immediately form a catalytic square aspect with the opposition between Uranus in Aries with Venus and Ceres in Libra. Ceres in Libra was waiting to embrace Venus as she returned from the underworld with her light as a Morning Star, and the involvement of Ceres in this dynamic nodal configuration amplifies the importance of nurturing the new growth ready to emerge from the past month of shedding and release. Yet the volatility of the cardinal square formed by the lunar nodes with Venus retrograde, Uranus retrograde, and Ceres suggests it’s not a time to force things to happen but instead make assertive choices aligned with the changing currents.

In contrast to Venus which recently re-emerged into visibility after a period of invisibility, Jupiter is on the threshold of going under the beams of the Sun into an invisible phase at the time of the Scorpio New Moon. Jupiter is co-present with the New Moon in Scorpio, at the final degree of Scorpio on the cusp of entering Sagittarius the day after the lunation. The co-presence of Jupiter with the New Moon in Scorpio brings a lift to the lunation, but most importantly the ingress of Jupiter into its fiery home of Sagittarius the next day brings a major boost of inspiration and hope.

Jupiter will be joining Mercury in Sagittarius, with Mercury shining brightly at maximum elongation as an Evening Star. Though Jupiter will be undergoing its own period of purification and rebirth and will not re-emerge in light as a Morning Star until approximately December 14, the return of Jupiter to its expansive home of Sagittarius serves as a fire kindled in the darkness bringing hope of victory where fear had previously clouded vision of possibility.

Scorpio New Moon

In Engelshut (1931) Paul Klee

Mercury in Sagittarius being at maximum elongation as an Evening Star in the darkness of the Scorpio New Moon signals that Mercury is crossing the threshold of its alchemical retrograde process as outlined by Gary Caton in his book Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year. Indeed, in the following week on November 16 we will experience Mercury stationing retrograde in Sagittarius on the same day that Venus stations direct in Libra.  Mercury is at about eight degrees of Sagittarius at the time of the Scorpio New Moon and will return to this same area of Sagittarius while retrograde on November 27 when it will enter the heart of the Sun and be reborn at six degrees of Sagittarius. Thus just as we are wrapping up an alchemical, retrograde process of Venus we are entering another one focused upon Mercury. With Jupiter ruling Mercury in its own sign of Sagittarius, it promises to be a powerful Mercury retrograde for revisioning your life.

Mercury in Sagittarius is a quick learner, communicating with a rapid, adventurous spirit that asks the big questions and is willing to search long and hard for the answers. Mercury in Sagittarius is the polarity of its airy home of Gemini, and looks to Jupiter for guidance. Since Jupiter is also co-present in its own home of Sagittarius while also undergoing a purifying rebirth with the Sun, the upcoming Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius will be a time to shed outdated beliefs and regenerate an inspirational vision of how to find meaning in life.

Vitally, Mercury will be stationing in range of forming a square to Neptune in Pisces, so an important part of the process will be uncovering and facing illusions that have been operating under the surface of our perceptions. Though corresponding disillusionment may be difficult, the eventual reorientation towards the actual truth of circumstances will be beneficial in the longterm.  Interestingly, Mars will finally leave Aquarius and enter Pisces at the same time that Mercury stations retrograde in Sagittarius. This means that Jupiter in Sagittarius will be ruling both Mercury and Mars, with Mercury stationing in square to Neptune as Mars begins moving toward a conjunction with Neptune. There can be a corresponding dissolution of previous beliefs as well as powerful potential in imaginal realms to tap into.

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Scorpio 2 Decan

The second face of Scorpio is associated with the 6 of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image of the 6 of Cups, we find the child-like innocence of purely giving for the pleasure of giving and receiving the joy of witnessing gratitude upon the face of the recipient.  Fittingly, both the Sun and Jupiter are considered rulers of this face, revealing the restoration of expansive vision that may be found within the darkness of the Scorpio New Moon. Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “An Apparatus for Mutual Distillation” to the Scorpio II decan, as it is a face in which the desires of Scorpio interchange in relationship:

The parties here [in the 6 of Cups image] are children and their affection for one another is natural and unconditioned . . . It is a vision of ideal exchange between two parties, poignant and perfect.

The dynamic suggested by the children is identical to the alchemical process of mutual distillation, wherein the matter passes back and forth between on alembic and another, growing increasingly rarefied and potent . . . Though it is easy to imagine these dynamics between romantic partners, all relationships which rely on trust and continuous exchange generate such circuits (p. 180-1).

As the Scorpio New Moon falls in the final phase of Venus retrograde in Libra, with Venus united with Ceres in opposition to Uranus in Aries and in square to the lunar nodes, attention to the dynamics within our myriad relationships will be of the utmost importance. This is the time to make use of whatever inner revelations you have uncovered about your relational patterns during the past month of Venus retrograde. The involvement of Uranus demands taking the risk to be authentic and honest in expression of true inner feelings. Moreover, by insisting on genuine interaction while being open to inner vulnerability, it will become possible to reshape relationships with regard to increased intimacy or increased boundaries, depending upon the dynamics involved.

The Hellenistic text 36 Airs ascribed the Titan goddess Leto to the second face of Scorpio. Sister to the starry, divinatory goddess Asteria and mother to the twin lights of Artemis and Apollo, Leto’s presence in the space of the Scorpio New Moon is a further symbol of the need for protective nurturance to whatever we hold most dear and is need of cultivation. Leto had to flee and take refuge on an isolated island unattached to the ocean floor in order to escape the wrath of Hera, who had made all lands exclude Leto from entry due to her anger over the affair between Leto and Zeus.  It was said that the twin offspring of Leto would stabilize the new order of Olympian deities, and so her persistence in nurturing the birth of Apollo and Artemis was additionally a birth of a new collective age.  Similarly, today we can also witness a war of ideologies spanning around our planet, as we can simultaneously sense the birth of a new era on the cusp of manifestation. Like Leto, take whatever steps are necessary to give birth to the world you wish yourself and the generations to follow to inhabit.

References

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

Taurus Full Moon: Uranus and the Rebirth of Venus

cezanne rocks in forest

Paul Cezanne (1890s) Rocks in the Forest

Full Moon in Taurus

The Full Moon in Taurus on October 24 illuminates our shift toward the depth of the season, and as foliage falls into rebirth during the increasing darkness in the northern hemisphere, so does the Full Moon draw us within internal regeneration to discover the seeds of new life to nurture in the season ahead. The Taurus Full Moon has an extreme emphasis on water and earth, zodiacal signs that are considered nocturnal, yin, and receptive with an energy drawn within to source action rather than an emphasis on external projection. Listening closely to the surrounding soul of our environment and the unspoken underlying the spoken within relationships will support the reshaping of elements within life, allowing the material we are working with to help guide the path we follow.  The Full Moon in Taurus is united with Uranus in the stabilizing earthy home of Venus, while forming a flowing trine with Saturn in the initiating earth sign of Capricorn. While the planets in water elements (Sun, Venus retrograde, Mercury, Jupiter in Scorpio; Neptune in Pisces) are supporting a dissolution of old forms and boundaries, the planets in earth elements (Moon and Uranus in Taurus; Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn) will foster capacity to discriminate and discern choices through separating and making distinct the elements of life we are ready to reorganize and renew.

The Taurus Full Moon peaks within one degree of  Uranus in Taurus and is also forming a square to the lunar nodes, while the Sun in Scorpio is approaching a conjunction with Venus retrograde in Scorpio. It’s a Full Moon more likely than normal to dredge up previously hidden desires, feelings, fears, as well as inspiration from subconscious sources. It may not be perfectly clear within the silvery light of the lunation which step to take next or which felt emotions are fleeting or substantial, but there’s strong likelihood the Taurus Full Moon will be coinciding with changes in mind and/or circumstance.  As a result if action is not being demanded regarding a situation, it may be best to let yourself exist within a regenerative state of flux in the week following the Full Moon rather than forcing decisions. There’s an intensified process of shedding at work, and so we may need to more fully experience the release of old identities, values, or feelings before being able to gain crystal clear clarity.

The Full Moon in Taurus is at the southern bending of the Moon, meaning the Moon is forming a square to its own nodes while being at its lowest point of southern latitude. This means that as the Moon begins to wane following the lunation it will change direction and begin to rise in latitude until eventually intersecting the ecliptic when it forms a conjunction with the North Node in Leo on October 30. As a result the Taurus Full Moon is at a dynamic point of change within its monthly orbit, an activating quality quickened and heightened by its additional union with Uranus. Additionally, the Full Moon comes at the midway point in between eclipse seasons, forming a square to both the eclipses that came in July –  August 2018 as well as the eclipses coming in January 2019. It’s also the final Full Moon to occur with the North Node in Leo and South Node in Aquarius, as the true nodes will switch into Cancer and Capricorn on November 6 during the Dark Moon of the waning half of the lunar cycle. Within this trajectory of eclipses and astrological change, the Taurus Full Moon has a volatilizing impact as it will deeply stir material mixtures, move emotions to the surface to be released,  and accelerate development.

Notably, the Taurus Full Moon combines the monthly polarity of the Sun and Moon with the yearly opposition between the Sun and Uranus retrograde, the heart of the retrograde cycle of Uranus when it is closest to Earth and as illuminated as it ever gets by the Sun. Furthermore, Venus retrograde in Scorpio is also only a couple of days from reaching the heart of its retrograde cycle in which it is also as close as it ever gets to our planet in orbit, though in contrast it is cloaked in darkness as it becomes consumed by the rays of the Scorpio Sun. The lunation’s alignment with Uranus can bring the electrified spark needed to finally change a deep seated pattern or habit, as well as incite a far ranging vision of larger goals to stretch our smaller daily targets toward. Yet due to also occurring in the heart of the Venus retrograde transit in Scorpio, it may be necessary to first work through heavy emotions before contacting the liberating lightness of Uranus.

hilmaafklint_treeofknowledgeno-5

Hilma af Klint (1915) Tree of Knowledge

Turning aside, she led them toward the southern slopes of the hill of Caras Galadhon, and passing through a high green hedge they came into an enclosed garden. No trees grew there, and it lay open to the sky. The evening star had risen and was shining with white fire above the western woods. Down a long flight of steps the Lady went into the deep green hollow, through which ran murmuring the silver stream that issued from the fountain on the hill. At the bottom, upon a low pedestal carved like a branching tree, stood a basin of silver, wide and shallow, and beside it stood a silver ewer.

With water from the stream Galadriel filled the basin to the brim, and breathed on it, and when the water was still again she spoke. “Here is the Mirror of Galadriel,” she said, “I have brought you here that you may look into it, if you will.”

The air was very still, and the dell was dark, and the Elf -lady beside him was tall and pale.

— J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Mirror of Galadriel” from The Fellowship of the Ring

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s cosmology underlying The Lord of the Rings, Venus as a bright Evening Star is a legendary ancestor dear to the elves and their Lady Galadriel.  I thought of the above passage from The Fellowship of the Ring when contemplating the intense combination of the Taurus Full Moon being united with Uranus while also being ruled by Venus at the heart of its retrograde, only a couple of days away from being reborn in the golden fire of our Sun. In the scene the brightness of Venus shining above is brought by Galadriel down into the earth, and within the waters of her silver mirror she offers visions of what may come to pass, as well as what is passing and has passed already.  Venus is not visible at the Taurus Full Moon, but while she is invisibly passing in between the orbit of our home planet with our Sun, the full light of the Moon combined with Uranus can illuminate the previously hidden depths of dreams and visions, while also bringing luminosity to reflections regarding the past and present.

Galadriel’s advice regarding the visions seen in her mirror is worth considering with regard to what we may sense at the Full Moon: “Remember that the Mirror shows many things, and not all have yet come to pass. Some never come to be, unless those that behold the visions turn aside from their path to prevent them. The Mirror is dangerous as a guide of deeds.” With Uranus so strongly involved with the Full Moon, it will be best to focus on embodying whatever feels authentic in spite of any fears arising from awareness of the potential consequences that could come from following a genuinely enlivening path rather than external expectations. We may gain deeper realization of what we simply must do, and deciding to commit to our intrinsic purpose in the end will be more important due to helping us find our true path, rather than holding back because of whatever setbacks we fear we will have to overcome on the journey ahead.

Venus retrograde in Scorpio will finally form an exact opposition with Uranus on October 31, and so the tension between them will be continuing to build in the week following the Full Moon. Since they are both moving retrograde with the stationing direct of Venus coming in mid-November, it means that Venus and Uranus will essentially remain in close opposition from now through the beginning of December, as Venus will form its final exact opposition with Uranus on November 30. Remarkably, Venus and Uranus are forming their opposition while simultaneously being in square to the transiting lunar nodes, and this amazingly animating grand square will also persist into December as the lunar nodes will move into Cancer and Capricorn in the beginning of November around the same time that Venus moves back into Libra and Uranus moves back into Aries. This long persisting, change inducing transit will force the opposition of Venus and Uranus even more strongly to the surface than normal; it will be an unavoidable dynamic to face in personal and collective events.

The opposition between Venus and Uranus in collective events will be felt in both the unexpected events and crises that dramatically and quickly reshape storylines as well as protest movements that become catalyzed in reaction to threats against ideal values. On personal levels, the opposition between Venus and Uranus will amplify the process of  intensified change normally associated with Venus peeling back in retrograde motion and then stationing direct in stillness. If you are used to attaching the security of comfort and stable routine to the pleasure principles of Venus, be ready to shift and learn to embrace a Uranian flavor that may feel jarring to those unaccustomed to the unorthodox, raw, wilder, emancipatory and rebellious side of Venus. Commitment within relationships may be maintained and sustained, but it will be important for the bonds to allow for individual liberty and freedom of expression. Attempting to hold on too tightly or force control of situations will invite a lightning strike of Uranian fire in response.

Edward Steichen woods twilight

Woods Twilight (1899) Edward Steichen

The Full Moon is ruled by Venus retrograde applying to a conjunction with the Sun. The return of Venus uniting with the Sun while retrograde is called the inferior conjunction as Venus aligns with the Sun on our interior side, in between the orbit of Earth with the Sun. The union of Venus retrograde with the Sun signals a fiery rebirth of Venus, seeding a new cycle of Venus in its Morning Star phase which will come in November. As the inferior conjunction of Venus occurs two days after the Full Moon on October 26, it means that Venus is being purified and cleansed at the end of its cycle as the Moon peaks in light, a phase we can also liken to finishing a process of putrefaction that ultimately brings fertility and new blooms of growth.

The last time Venus was reborn in union with the Sun was on 9 January 2018 at its superior conjunction when Venus was direct and on the other side of the Sun in orbit. The last time there was an inferior conjunction of Venus retrograde, however, was 25 March 2017 at five degrees of Aries.  Some may note a deepening of the personal narrative being developed at those previous dates as Venus now re-enters the heart of the Sun, whereas others may realize how vastly different their relationships are now from those past dates of the previous Venus cycle; the common ground is that the current transit of Venus can bring deeper reflection upon the arc of storylines developed since then, and intimations of new growth coming.

When Venus forms its conjunction with the Sun on October 26, within its solar regeneration its Venusian significations can be strengthened during the time of the union. Since Venus will continue to be retrograde until November 16, however, the fiery rebirth of Venus serves best as a time of internal illumination at the dead center of the Venus retrograde transit that began October 5. Venus will still be invisible until the beginning of November when she will emerge again as a Morning Star heralding dawn, and similarly its more likely Venus will only then bring light to our own awareness of the Venusian shifts presently brewing. Since Venus simultaneously will be returning to her home sign of Libra at the beginning of November, it’s likely that increasing Venusian movement and change will come after we cross the traditional threshold of Samhain, All Saints Day, and the Day of the Dead. As this is a time of working with Spirit, the spirits of relationships no longer with us as well as ancestors will be an additional source of guidance.

Amplifying perceptions, Mercury and Jupiter are co-present with the Sun and Venus in Scorpio with Mercury applying toward a conjunction with Jupiter that will become exact on October 29. Moreover, on October 26 when Venus retrograde unites with the Sun there is also an opposition formed by the Moon in Taurus in polarity to the conjoining of Mercury and Jupiter in Scorpio. Our experience of Jupiter in Scorpio is almost complete, and the week following the Full Moon ramps up the penetrative intensity needed for a final lesson. Mercury during its union with Jupiter is twinkling as an Evening Star in twilight, in Scorpio in a place to foster curious questioning and deep digestion of whatever emotional and relational experiences coincide with a dive into Scorpio during the final days of October. Mercury and Jupiter together in Scorpio bring extrasensory perception beyond words, and we may need to wait until the beginning of November when Venus has moved into Libra and Mercury has moved into Sagittarius in order to communicate clearer about our changing state. The presence of Mercury and Jupiter in Scorpio as Venus is reborn signifies that even amidst difficult experiences of strife that growth and wisdom can be eventually cultivated.

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Picture of the Starting Point (1920) Hilma af Klint

An immense shift in astrological atmosphere comes in November as the Moon wanes in light, including a remedy of the lack of fire signs being occupied at the Taurus Full Moon.  The first change comes on October 31 when Mercury enters Sagittarius and Venus moves back into Libra.  Next Uranus will move back into Aries on November 6 on the same day that the true nodes of the Moon leave Aquarius and Leo and enter Capricorn and Cancer. A day later comes the New Moon in Scorpio on November 7, followed by a major driver of change: the entrance of Jupiter into its fiery home of Sagittarius on November 8.  With so many changes happening we can predict this will be a period of accelerated shifts, with some elements breaking down to be released completely while other parts of our life experience rapid growth. In particular Mercury and Jupiter entering Sagittarius will be a welcome warming of inspiration to respond as needed.

As a result, it will be best to keep in mind that the events and insights experienced during the full light of the Taurus Moon are a precursor to greater change coming in November.  It’s by no means the end of the story, but rather only the beginning.

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5 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

Taurus 1 Decan

The first face of Taurus where the Full Moon in Taurus culminates is connected with the Five of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The Five of Pentacles is often associated with worry and fear over not having enough money or resources, or experiencing bodily or material hardship.  Yet the poverty stricken figures in front of the stained glass window of a cathedral suggest that resources can be found in even the most dire of circumstances, as charitable sources of sustenance can be found in communities.  Mercury rules the first face of Taurus, linking the commerce of Mercury with the fertile, earthy nature of the sign of the Bull.  Mercury makes the connections we need for our livelihood, and in the first decan of Taurus we discover our capacity not only to gain enough resources for our own survival but to also contribute assistance to those in greater need.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Plow” to the first face of Taurus, noting the “face is traditionally connected to all of the sciences necessary to draw forth fruit from the land,” adding that we must also realize that “the mind, heart and body are all ripe fields, which offer abundance when cultivated” (p. 69). Coppock noted that though the first decan of Taurus “reveals the ways one may work with whatever one has to gain more,” that the images and interpretations associated with the Five of Pentacles card bring up the shadow of fear that we will not have enough money, food, or material resources and that bleak times may arise if we disengage from our constant planning around cultivating resources. Thus the threat of not having enough in the future inspires us to work hard and plan for how to not only gain enough resources for the moment but also to save for later times of need.

The Hellenistic text 36 Airs ascribed Charis to the first decan of Taurus, linking the Charites of mythology to the charity we can find in the image of the Five of Pentacles card as well as the meaning of the first face of Taurus. The Charites are the same as the three Graces you are most likely familiar with, commonly known as Splendor, Mirth, and Good Cheer, though various traditions have additional names as well as numbers for these charming, fertile beings. As Venus is reborn in the days following the Taurus Full Moon, focusing on cultivating your inner agriculture of soul will align you with the good graces. While a cold wind blows across collective events as darkness increases, the inner light we nurture within our own darkness will become available to share with and inspire others.

 

References

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

Libra New Moon: Deepening of Venus Retrograde

autumn thoughts arnold bocklin

Autumn Thoughts by Arnold Bocklin

Libra New Moon

The Libra New Moon on October 8 brings us into the deepening of Fall in the northern hemisphere as the days darken and multicolored leaves descend from branches, and seeds buried under the earth pulsate with the promise of new life. The New Moon is in the home of Venus, and also takes us into an intensification of the forty day Venus retrograde period which began on October 5. There is a Plutonic quality to the lunation, as the New Moon is applying to a catalytic square with Pluto in Capricorn. Initiatory, death bringing, regenerative themes of Pluto have been strong in the week before the New Moon as Pluto stationed direct on September 30 and now begins to slowly crawl forward on course to eventually enter new zodiacal terrain. As Venus stationed retrograde on October 5 less than a week after Pluto, it is as if Pluto cleared a path underground for Venus to dig into during her retrograde through Scorpio.

Since Venus retrograde in Scorpio rules the Libra New Moon, and Venus retrograde is also being received by Mars in Aquarius in a change inducing square aspect, the New Moon in Libra is a calling to re-center within whatever changes and strong feelings have been triggered in the past week with the stationing of Venus. Venus retrograde has a different way of working towards Venusian themes of harmony, value, and attraction than when Venus is direct. One way to think about the difference is that Venus becomes more intolerant of whatever is oppressive or working against harmony rather than being accepting or attempting to mediate compromise. Especially with Venus retrograde in the fixed, deep waters of Scorpio, previously hidden or denied emotions and issues within relationships will rise to the surface and demand awareness and renegotiation. The Libra quality of the New Moon can hopefully help with listening within as well as to others so we may begin to rebalance and shift in whatever way needed.

There is also a shedding of Venus that occurs, a process that will become more intense in a couple of weeks as Venus begins to approach its conjunction with the Sun on October 26 and experiences a purifying burning away of accumulated material. Since Venus is retrograde in the home of Mars, and Venus is applying to a square aspect with Mars in Aquarius, the shedding process at the New Moon becomes accelerated and in the week following the New Moon it will become obvious whatever issues are being brought to the surface in correspondence with Venus retrograde. We can set intentions at the New Moon, but due to the square between Mars and Venus we will also be forced to deal with and respond to circumstances and themes that will be deepening in meaning as the Venus retrograde process develops through the next month.

Notably, Mars in Aquarius has finally returned to the degree it previously stationed retrograde at the end of June, and so just as it has now completed its own retrograde journey it is simultaneously an integral part of the initiation of Venus retrograde in Scorpio. The airy quality of Mars in Aquarius that is capable of detaching at times from feelings in order to catalyze needed growth can be helpful in grasping a larger vision of the bigger picture within which we are feeling difficult emotions in the moment. The deep emotions of Venus retrograde in Scorpio can be overwhelming, yet ultimately regenerative through bringing forth a cleansing purge. In the wake of what we release, the visionary capacity of Mars in Aquarius can help us push forward into new areas of growth and development.

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Persephone opening the Liknon Mystikon, found in the shrine of Persephone at Locri

Persephone

Venus retrograde has a tradition of being associated with an underworld journey for the Star of Aphrodite, and with Pluto having stationed in the same week as Venus, it brings to mind the story of Persephone who was pulled into the underworld by Hades in order to become a Queen mediating between realms of the living and dead. Moreover, the Sun in Libra was conjoining Ceres at the time Venus stationed retrograde, and Ceres in Libra is also conjoining the Libra New Moon. All of these aspects connect with the Persephone myth, including the fact that Mercury is at the final degree of Libra at the New Moon on the threshold of entering Scorpio and uniting with Venus retrograde in the following week (Hermes was sent by Zeus to bring Persephone back to her mother Demeter aka Ceres). Moreover, the Persephone asteroid #399 is exactly conjoining Venus retrograde in Scorpio at the time of the New Moon and was applying to a close conjunction with Venus at the time Venus stationed a few days before the lunation.

Tim Addey in Seven Myths of the Soul analyzed that while Persephone’s name can be translated as “death bringer,” and she does indeed step into the role of ruling over the realm of the dead, she equally signifies our incarnation of being an eternal soul fully embodied within a material realm of continual life and death. Addey focused upon the 6th century Platonic philosopher Damascius who linked Persephone with the soul’s descent into generation, interpreting how Persephone is drawn toward the narcissus flower, a bloom whose name has mythic associations with the soul falling in love with its reflection in matter. Her innocent, purely spiritual state is shattered by her violent pull into the underworld of death, yet ultimately on the other side Persephone discovers a powerful underworld role of mediation and rulership to embody. We all must reconcile ourselves to living in a world of great suffering and death, and with Venus retrograde in Scorpio will be feeling things intensely, yet on the other side of Venus retrograde we may discover newfound power and strength within ourselves in spite of the wounds we must bear.

“Persephone has reached out with both hands…committed to the embrace of the wondrous flower. This…is the key to the true artist, who seeks to manifest the infinite beauty of spirit in finite matter . . . Most human beings have arrived at some kind of stasis in their relationship with the world which could, and often does for awhile, pacify the deep-seated urge to rediscover their spiritual nature. To start out on the mystical path of initiation is to put at risk our mundane contentment for the sake of something unknown, and possibly frightening.”

— Tim Addey, Seven Myths of the Soul

The New Moon in Libra conjoining Ceres also draws attention to the immense grief and trauma experienced by the Earth Mother in losing her daughter to the invisible underworld, and Ceres in Libra will be continuing to play a pivotal role in the enfoldment of Venus retrograde. Ceres in part symbolizes the need for grief and expressing rage against the injustices and oppression of our world, releasing the emotions felt when experiencing death or loss. For nine days Ceres aka Demeter refused to eat and mourned; Addey in Seven Myths of the Soul interpreted the fasting of Demeter as representing “the need to purge the concerns of matter from our perception if we are to rediscover the soul lost in hyle (matter).” Likewise the purging and putrefaction we experience and emote in the next couple of weeks of the opening stage of Venus retrograde will ultimately open deeper levels of self realization.

Ultimately after securing the return of her daughter for part of the year, Ceres brought the gifts of corn and the mystery rites to humanity. Though she endured traumatic wounds she would have to continue to bear and nurture, Ceres managed to bring a source of physical nourishment and profound spiritual understanding to the greater collective. The Libra New Moon conjoining Ceres similarly signals a month of needing to nurture past wounds, hurts, and vulnerabilities, while at the same time reaching out to others in need with warmth, support, and heartfelt action. There are numerous astrological transits coming at the end of October through November signifying immense change that could dramatically change current narratives, beginning with the coming Full Moon in Taurus on October 24.

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Pinax of Eros, Aphrodite, and Hermes found in shrine of Persephone at Locri

Mercury is co-present with the lunation at the final degree of Libra and then enters Scorpio the next day on October 9, with the newly waxing Moon joining Mercury later the same night.  The Moon and Mercury upon entering Scorpio immediately begin applying to an opposition with Uranus in Taurus, while also becoming co-present in the sign of the Scorpion along with Jupiter and Venus retrograde. Simultaneously the Moon and Mercury begin moving toward a catalytic square aspect received by Mars in Aquarius. Mercury is still invisible under the beams of the Sun these days and in Scorpio is able to penetrate and investigate previously hidden areas. The opposition between Venus retrograde in Scorpio with Uranus in Taurus is the dominant astrological theme of October, and so the contact between Mercury and Uranus can help us adjust to whatever is beginning to come into our life in correspondence. With Uranus involved not only can this be something unexpected, but something that changes everything quickly.

A week after the Libra New Moon around October 15, Mercury in Scorpio will unite with Venus retrograde and further deepen our perception into whatever is brewing and arising from underworld realms. This union between Mercury and Venus retrograde is particularly notable because it happens just after Mercury has ascended again into visibility as an Evening Star, and just as Venus is descending into no longer being visible as an Evening Star. During Venus retrograde periods we always experience Venus descending from being an Evening Star into an invisible underworld phase that ultimately leads into it arising again as a visible Morning Star heralding dawn.  As a result Mercury is playing an instrumental role in transitioning us into this more secretive, subconscious, underworld period of the Venus retrograde transit.

Furthermore, as the Moon waxes toward fullness in the next couple of weeks Mercury will also be moving toward an eventual union with Jupiter in Scorpio that will occur just after the Full Moon in Taurus on October 24 and the inferior conjunction of Venus with the Sun on October 26.  The co-presence of Jupiter in Scorpio with Mercury and Venus retrograde isn’t going to make things easier or more pleasant, but it does signify a greater potential for wisdom and growth to be harvested from the corresponding experiences. These are the final lessons for us to learn from the time of Jupiter in Scorpio that began 10 October 2017.

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3 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Libra 2 Decan

The New Moon is in the second decan of Libra associated with the Three of Swords card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. Saturn rules the second face of Libra, and in the piercing heartbreak and cold atmosphere of the image we can observe the transcendence through pain that can be brought by Saturn. In times of heartbreak we can access a newfound strength that can then increase our capacity to return to our love, as well as opens us to greater levels of empathy, compassion, and awareness of those around us. The piercing of the heart by swords is also resonant with the current Venus retrograde occurring in Scorpio, the nocturnal home of Mars, with Venus also applying to a hard aspect with Mars at the time of the New Moon.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces linked Saturn’s exaltation in Libra to the binding of “happy marriages and fruitful alliances” found in the second decan of Libra, as well as the breaking apart of such agreements.  Coppock described it as “a face of lasting unions and blended karma” in which “the power of obligation fixes volatile passions,” creating “a firm foundation for the good life.” The importance Coppock placed on being faithful to commitments within relationships as well as to oneself is vital to bear in mind as we deepen into the transit of Venus retrograde in Scorpio. Venus retrograde periods can coincide with new attractions and desires for change within relationship, or feelings of needing to change the balance of a relational dynamic. The influence of the second decan of Libra focuses attention on the importance of taking responsibility for clear communication and acting from integrity so as not to destroy the bonds of current relationships should desire for change occur.

The Hellenistic text 36 Airs ascribed Kairos to the second face of Libra, a curious repetition as it also connected Kairos to the third face of Scorpio. Kairos in Greek myth was the youngest son of Zeus as well as the lover of Fortuna, an embodiment of luck and favorable opportunities. Kairos was portrayed as moving with winged feet, carrying a razor or scales that represent the fleeting moment in which opportunity comes and goes, the moment we need to seize and not neglect. In modern culture the term kairos refers to the opportune moment for something to occur that is not confined to the demands of chronological time. While its comforting to believe we can always use our free will to create the reality we wish to live within, it usually takes an opportune moment of kairos arising that we may then seize to make the desired change. The next two months are full of change inducing astrological transits, and while difficult feelings may emerge in correspondence, so may opportunities arise to fundamentally alter our life. It will be a deep sea change, so keep an eye alert for favorable winds to catch sail with.

References

Addey, Tim. (2000). The Seven Myths of the Soul. The Prometheus Trust.

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

NORWAC 2019: Psyche & Eros

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Psyche & Eros: the Fall of Venus & Mercury

I’m excited to announce I will be speaking at the 2019 Northwest Astrological Conference to be held May 24 – 27, 2019 in Seattle, WA (well, technically at the Southcenter Doubletree Suites).

NORWAC always has a welcoming atmosphere and features many fantastic speakers at the 2019 gathering. Check the full schedule here.

I will be speaking Saturday, May 25 at 3:45 pm on “Psyche and Eros: the Fall of Venus and Mercury.” I will be using the “Psyche and Eros” story contained in the Hellenistic novel The Golden Ass by Apuleius to bring a more poetic, imaginative understanding to the meaning of “fall” placements. Venus and Mercury form a polarity of exaltation and fall along the Pisces and Virgo axis, with Venus being exalted in Pisces and in fall in Virgo, and Mercury being exalted in Virgo and in fall in Pisces. Since Aphrodite and Eros are the mythic fish in the Pisces constellation, and the two main co-stars of Psyche in the “Psyche and Eros” story, the ancient tale will serve as a medium to deepen our understanding of what having Venus or Mercury in their “fall” can mean. I’ve felt for years that people can have a difficult time understanding what it means to have a planet in “fall,” and the rather dry traditional style of citing text giving extremely negative examples doesn’t help. As a result I’ll be taking a more symbolic route that remains connected to the astrological tradition of “fall” placements.

Description:

What meaning can be found in the fall of Venus in Virgo and Mercury in Pisces? This talk will imaginally explore the nuances of Venus and Mercury in their fall through the telling of the tale Psyche and Eros. Eros and Aphrodite are the fish in the Pisces constellation and Psyche’s co-stars in her underworld journey into wholeness through the daimon of love. We’ll dive into the challenges and gifts found in the “fallen” polarity of Virgo and Pisces.

I hope to see you there! To register and book a room at the hotel where the conference will be held, go to norwac.net

Aries Full Moon: Saturn’s Harvest

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Georgia O’Keefe (1938) Ram’s Head, Blue Morning Glory

Full Moon in Aries

The Aries Full Moon occurs two days after the Libra Equinox, the turn toward the deepening darkness of Fall in the northern hemisphere, while the southern hemisphere experiences the fecund flowering of Spring. A time of balance in light and darkness, the Libra Equinox offers the gift of clarity reflecting upon experiences of the past season and envisioning what’s to come in the season ahead. In the northern hemisphere, the colorful changes in Autumnal leaves correlate with crisp awareness into our changing circumstances and distilling the resources we may cultivate to endure the darkness which will increase with each subsequent dawn. In myth we associate this time with Persephone returning to her role ruling the underworld, mythic symbolism that is an apt metaphor for the shedding and intensification supported by the astrology the Full Moon is embedded within.

The Full Moon in Aries on September 24 is the traditional Harvest Moon, the Full Moon occurring closest to the Fall Equinox in the northern hemisphere. It’s a perfect fit with the astrology surrounding the lunation, as the Full Moon is applying to a square aspect with Saturn in Capricorn. The scythe of Saturn glows in the silvery luminescence of the Harvest Moon, its blade severing us from whatever is ready to be shed, its cut cleanly delivering a harvest of resources ripened for gathering. The past season was full of volatile, catalytic astrology transits, the type of transits that often correlate with monumental changes in relationships and the roles we embody in the world. Saturn in Capricorn can be a severe taskmaster, yet will bring reward and approval for hard work and consistent effort. Saturn has been in Capricorn now for three quarters of a year, with the Aries Full Moon illuminating whatever has been working well or is need of new strategies and modification.

The Full Moon is also united with Chiron in Aries, further revealing whatever has been developing in correspondence with Chiron’s time in Aries which began on 17 April 2018. Chiron re-enters Pisces a day after the Full Moon where it will stay until it returns to Aries for good on 18 February 2019. Within the dark caverns of our innermost recesses, Chiron is holding a lantern spotlighting a strength and talent we may resiliently rely upon in the season ahead. Ultimately, Chiron in Aries calls us to courageously fight for our ideals within not only personal spheres but within the wider collective, being willing to resist forces of oppression and totalitarian influence. Yet the dominant role played by Saturn in Capricorn in relation to Chiron and the Full Moon means containment is a necessary element. The influence of Chiron and Saturn calls for disciplined effort focused with precision upon the realistic confines of our circumstances; this does not mean restraining oneself from expansive, freedom-oriented goals but rather pinpointing whatever most needs attention in the moment.

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Georgia O’Keefe (1937) Horn and Feathers

Mars rules the Full Moon in Aries while applying to a conjunction with the South Node of the Moon in Aquarius. Mars in Aquarius first applied toward a conjunction with the South Node of the Moon in the first week of June, coming into contact a second time during the catalytic time period of the Total Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius that occurred on July 27. As a result the Aries Full Moon brings closure to narratives that have been developing during the past four months and an opportunity for decisive action and choices in correspondence. Mars in Aquarius uniting with the South Node of the Moon purifies and hones our idealistic concerns for our greater global collective, as well as efforts we desire to initiate within local community. Aquarius is a visionary placement for Mars that can be future-oriented, yet its unbound desires for greater freedom have had to be tempered through the numerous martial tests we have had to face during the past few months of Mars shifting between retrograde and direct motion. Mars completing its final conjunction with the South Node takes on a sobering presence, and in correspondence we can make difficult choices we held back from enacting previously.

In addition to uniting with the South Node of the Moon, Mars is also in range of a conjunction with Black Moon Lilith in Aquarius. In combination with the additional influences of Saturn and Chiron upon the lunation, a wholistic awareness that takes account of subconscious influences will be a necessity for effective action and results. This is not a lunation for dreamy, overidealistic envisioning of potential but rather a stark assessment of circumstances combined with willingness to do whatever we must do to find solutions and initiate needed change. The trials and difficulties we need to work through will bring unconscious motivations to the surface.

Mars in Aquarius is also in a harmonious, airy trine with the Sun, Mercury and Ceres which are co-present in Libra, with Mercury applying to a conjunction with Ceres. Altogether these aspects point to support found in community, to the importance of reaching out to others who may bring support and needed insight. Deep, mutually introspective communication can be supported as long as those engaged in dialogue are willing to claim responsibility and sustain willingness to listen even when in disagreement. Unfortunately, due to the influence of Saturn and Chiron upon the Full Moon there is also potential for harsh and wounding communication. Certain relationships may emerge that can be particularly supportive in the changes coming in the next month with Venus stationing retrograde.

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Cernunnos on the Pillar of the Boatmen, from the Musée national du Moyen Âge in Paris, France

Pluto is one of the strongest influences upon the Aries Full Moon, as Pluto will station direct in Capricorn on September 30, less than a week after the Full Moon. Furthermore, as the Moon in full phase begins to separate from its square aspect with Saturn, it will begin to form a square with the stationing Pluto, further dredging up the deep desires of Pluto. Pluto has been retrograde since 22 April 2018 when it was at 21°17′ Capricorn, now stationing at 18°45′ Capricorn. Thus those with cardinal placements (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) between 16 – 22 degrees will feel the plutonic shift most intensely. Pluto’s stillness brings an initiatory quality to the Aries Full Moon that incites impetus to penetrate into the heart of any matter we are engaged with. As strong, compulsive feelings are likely to emerge that were previously hidden or inaccessible, the week following the Aries Full Moon has the potential to facilitate an integration of powerful self realization.

During the waning half of the lunar cycle, Venus will station retrograde in Scorpio on October 5 a few days before a New Moon in Libra on October 8. With the Sun, Mercury, Ceres, and Uranus all in the domiciles of Venus, the stationing of Venus holds wide influence over the surrounding astrology. At the time of the Aries Full Moon, however, Venus remains a bright Evening Star and in combination with Mars in Aquarius and Saturn in Capricorn can be supportive in beginning to make adjustments and reorientation to the changes we can sense are on the horizon with the impending forty day period of Venus retrograde.

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2 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Aries 1 Decan

The Full Moon arises in the first face of Aries associated with the Two of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The image involves a conquering figure holding a globe in one hand as he gazes from a protective castle into an expansive terrain. It is the body of water that appears to have secured his focus in this moment, and the presence of the globe seems to imply a moment of reflection regarding expanding his influence or dominion. The grandiose ambition and confident assertion present in the image is fitting considering that Mars rules the first decan of Aries, giving Mars both domicile and face rulership over the Aries Full Moon.

Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the symbol of “The Axe” to the first decan of Aries, which has a long association with furiously martial figures who dominate enemies and assure victory in battle. For example, the Liber Hermetis ascribed an image of a man “standing on feet like claws,” while “holding above his head a double-sided axe with both hands.” Coppock deepened the symbolism of the axe through linking it to the splitting and separation from “the One” of ancient wisdom traditions, a severing necessary for creation and growth. Coppock linked this separation to “building a distinct and individual life . . . the individual yang struggling out of the collective yin” which he compared to both the cutting of the umbilical cord between child and mother and the cutting of trees to build homes in the wilderness.

In contrast to the emphasis on personal power within the first face of Aries, the sabian symbol for the degree of the Aries Full Moon is “a comedian reveals human nature,” highlighting a sense of humor accepting our vulnerabilities and dilemmas. Dane Rudhyar described it as involving “the triumph of objective consciousness over subjective feeling or moods,” a capacity “to laugh at the inadequacy of the form one sees” in the mirror. Humor and the release of tension that comes from laughter is always needed medicine during pivotal times, and as we know it is often the one playing the part of the fool who can claim a platform to speak truth to power. As Austin Coppock wrote regarding the first face of Aries, those wielding its raw power are not always successful as “some trials require the wits of tricksters rather than the sword-arms of warriors.” The Aries Full Moon is extremely powerful in terms of gaining clarity regarding our current circumstances, with a sense of humor and playfulness being as important to bear as dry analysis and assertive willpower.

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. Random House.

New Moon in Virgo

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Winged Sphinx from Petra, Jordan

New Moon in Virgo

Virgo is a mutable sign of seasonal transition, as in the northern hemisphere we shift from Summer into Fall, while in the southern hemisphere we complete Winter in turn for Spring. The New Moon in Virgo on September 9 similarly serves as a bridge between distinct astrological seasons. Previously, we experienced a volatile series of eclipses with numerous planets in retrograde, most notably Mars and Mercury. Now within the darkness of the Virgo New Moon we are experiencing the gravitas of Saturn having stationed direct a few days before the syzygy, bringing us into a lunar cycle ideal for generating forward momentum and taking care of whatever responsibilities need our attention following a season of volatility.  Within a month, however, Venus will station retrograde and by the time the star of Aphrodite has completed her backward motion in November we will also have experienced the lunar nodes moving into Cancer and Capricorn, Uranus moving back into Aries, and Jupiter entering its domicile of Sagittarius. The Virgo New Moon thus connects two distinct periods of change inducing astrological influences.

The recent stationing of Saturn makes the ringed planet’s significations take precedence, and with Saturn in Capricorn in range of creating an earthy triangle with Mercury in Virgo and Uranus in Taurus, there is great potential for clarifying goals and the priorities and tasks necessary for effective manifestation. Yet the Virgo New Moon is separating from an opposition with Neptune in Pisces, an aspect which lends itself more so to simply enjoying the presence of being rather than diligently taking care of work details. As I wrote about recently, the planetary nodes of Neptune were strongly activated in recent months, and transiting Neptune in Pisces has likewise been an important influence.  If we have been able to take time for imaginal exploration of whatever we most want to bring into the world, the Virgo New Moon is perfect for discerning choices and following through on action for development.

The Virgo New Moon is full of resilient, visionary aspects as it is applying to a harmonious sextile with Jupiter in Scorpio and an empowering trine with Pluto in Capricorn. Rather than being lost in a cloud of Neptunian fog, the Virgo New Moon can aid in recovering from disillusionment with the state of the world in order to invest energy in our own personal projects or in helping others in collective efforts toward the greater needs of our surrounding community. Jupiter in Scorpio has completed its final exact trine with Neptune in Pisces and is applying tightly toward its final exact sextile with Pluto in Capricorn.  We’ve been experiencing Jupiter in Scorpio since 10 October 2017, and the Virgo New Moon signals the time to make a final push to complete or make significant progress in realizing whatever growth opportunities have coincided with Jupiter’s time in the fixed sign of the Scorpion.

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Arnold Bocklin The Sacred Wood

Mercury rules the New Moon from its home and exaltation of Virgo, separating from an earth triangle with Saturn in Capricorn and Uranus in Taurus. Mercury is experiencing a phase change during the New Moon, heading under the beams of the Sun and disappearing from view on its way toward a union with the Sun in Virgo on September 20. This means we have come to the end of the synodic cycle of Mercury that began with its superior conjunction on June 5, which was interestingly in square to Neptune in Pisces. With the ruler of the New Moon at home in Virgo, it amplifies the potential of the New Moon to help us recover and move forward from all of the change that has occurred since the beginning of June. Mercury in Virgo is ideal for analysis, organization, and clarifying decision making.

As Mercury moves toward its rebirth with the Sun on September 20 at 28º02′ Virgo, it will recreate the same aspects with Neptune, Pluto, and Jupiter that the New Moon possesses. On September 13 Mercury will form an opposition to Neptune in Pisces, then on September 15 Mercury will form a trine with Pluto in Capricorn, and then on September 16 Mercury will form a sextile with Jupiter in Scorpio. All of this will occur in the build-up not only to the superior conjunction of Mercury on September 20, but also to the Aries Full Moon on September 24. Thus during the week of September 13 through the 20 we can experience a manifestation or significant development toward whatever we set in motion at the Virgo New Moon.

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Arnold Bocklin Schwanengrotte

One of the most significant elements of the Virgo New Moon is the entrance of Venus into Scorpio that coincides with the lunation.  One reason is that as soon as Venus enters Scorpio, it instantly begins to tightly form an opposition with Uranus in Taurus. The tension of the polarity between Uranus and Venus is somewhat mitigated due to Venus receiving Uranus, but it is likely to coincide with sudden and rapid developments in associated areas of life (for example whatever places in your natal chart are occupied by Scorpio and Taurus). Most importantly, this is the first of three oppositions that will be formed by Venus and Uranus in the coming months. This is due to the fact that after Venus completes the opposition with Uranus on September 12, it will be slowing down as it approaches its retrograde station on October 5 which will lead it to forming two more oppositions with Uranus on October 31 and November 30. Thus more so than a temporary activation of Venus and Uranus, the Virgo New Moon launches us into an extended process of change we will not fully have understood until December. For now, it will be helpful to begin taking note of whatever changes arise in storylines while also realizing we are only at the beginning of navigating the corresponding developments.

Venus remains a bright evening star during the night of the Virgo New Moon, so enjoy her luminescence as each subsequent evening she will be descending lower and lower during twilight as she approaches her retrograde in October when she will disappear from visibility.  Venus is also forming harmonious, pivotal aspects as not only is she opposing Uranus in Taurus, but also forming harmonious sextile aspects with both Saturn in Capricorn and Mercury in Virgo. In addition, Venus completed a catalytic square aspect with Mars the day before the New Moon on September 8, an aspect which stirred up all of the material that has been in a process of change over the course of the past few months. Due to Venus stationing retrograde at the beginning of October, it means that Venus and Mars will form another exact square on October 10. Therefore, similar to the opposition formed by Venus with Uranus, its square aspect with Mars also takes us into an extended process of change rather than a temporary impetus.

Mars returns to Aquarius on September 10, a day after the Virgo New Moon, meaning that it will basically be sustaining tension with Venus over the course of the next month.  Mars will be approaching its final conjunction with the South Node of the Moon in Aquarius during the waxing cycle of the Moon, forming its exact conjunction with the South Node on September 25, a day after the Aries Full Moon. Taking all of this into account, it means the lunar cycle we begin with the Virgo New Moon will not only bring significant developments, but also deeper understanding regarding whatever changes we have been experiencing, or however we have been feeling stuck or obstructed.  The forthcoming lunar cycle demands clear thinking bound with decisive action and a willingness to confront whatever is not working, devising solutions as needed.  We will need the resilient desire of Venus in Scorpio that will penetrate to the depths of dilemmas, and with Jupiter co-present in Scorpio there is strength to be found in taking a stand and persisting in the face of opposition.

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9 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

Virgo 2 Decan

The New Moon in Virgo falls in the third face of Virgo associated with the Nine of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The image is resplendent with a golden aura surrounding a Venusian figure, and fittingly Venus is the ruler of the second face of Virgo.  On her hand sits a bird of prey ready to strike out for resources, while ripening grapevines surround her.  This tarot card is traditionally associated with gains in wealth, and Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces analyzed how the hooded falcon (a symbol of spirit enclosed in matter) is a protector of the grapevine resources linked to her wealth since it feeds on the creatures who would damage the growth of the grapes.  Coppock found a theme of continual reshaping and refinement of matter in this decan that unveils the diverse extremes of experiences that unite within the final form of a created work that contains spirit:  “Alchemically, this face provides understanding of the many beautiful and repulsive states the matter attains throughout the Magnum Opus . . . . [and] brings one to inspect material processes and note the efficiency or lack thereof” (p. 146).

Interestingly, the fragmentary Hellenistic text the 36 Airs linked the Moirai to the second face of Virgo.  These are the daughters of Necessity, the goddesses of fate: Clotho the spinner of the threads of life, Lachesis the measurer of fateful threads, and Atropos who cuts the threads.  These goddesses of fate appearing in this decan remind us to center within the actual currents of life so that choices can be discerned that will allow one to navigate accordingly.  In Plato’s Myth of Er, the Moriai not only ascribe ones destiny but also the guardian daimon who can bring guidance in accordance with virtue and authentic character. While there are many upsetting events occurring in collective events we cannot change, we do possess the inherent character to respond with responsible virtue rather than in a way that goes against the nature of our higher self.  The current shift toward a time of Venus retrograde will bring tests and events saturated with the feel of destiny, bringing forth deeper aspects of our Self and realizations of purpose and potential. To paraphrase Carl Jung, free will is doing that which one must do.

References

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

 

Venus Retrograde Webinar

Dorothea Tanning 1st Peril

Dorothea Tanning (1950) First Peril

Venus Retrograde: Persephone’s Seed

Venus Retrograde: Persephone’s Seed

Webinar exploring the Venus retrograde in Libra and Scorpio that will occur between October 5 and November 16, 2018.

$25.00

Date:     Sunday 30 September

Time:    2:30 pm, Pacific Standard Time

Cost:      $25

You’re invited to join me for a webinar exploring the upcoming Venus retrograde in Scorpio and Libra that will occur between October 5 and November 16. We will explore the meaning of Venus retrograde in general as well as the specific aspects and details concerning the 2018 retrograde of Venus. Time will also be spent looking back at past Venus retrograde in Scorpio periods, as well as the background of the present synodic cycle of Venus we are experiencing. I will also provide a horoscope for how the Venus retrograde will impact all twelve signs of the zodiac.

This Venus retrograde is notable for involving multiple oppositions between Venus with Uranus, and in fact ends with Venus stationing direct in Libra in opposition to Uranus in Aries.  I’ll delve into different ways the polarity between Venus and Uranus can manifest, and there will be time and space for questions and sharing. I’ll also talk about other aspects involving Venus, as well as additional transits such as Jupiter transitioning from Scorpio into Sagittarius that will occur within the Venus retrograde space. Overall it looks like a Venus retrograde that will more intense than normal in terms of deepening purpose in life, while also requiring us to navigate some disruptive changes.

The webinar will last about two and a half hours and will take place through Zoom meetings. You do not need to pay for an account with Zoom meetings to participate, but do need to download the free version on your device.

The cost of the webinar is $25 and can be paid through PayPal in the link above at the top of this post, or you may send me an email at consultation@graycrawford.net and I will send you a payment request. Once I receive your payment I will email you a link to attend the webinar. A video recording of the webinar will be sent to you afterwards so it is not necessary to attend live. If you do attend live there will be space provided for comments and questions.

Communion of Venus & Spica

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from Urania’s Mirror (1824)

Venus conjunct Spica

104 A

Evening, / you gather back / all that dazzling dawn has put asunder: / you gather a lamb / gather a kid / gather a child to its mother

104 B

of all stars the most beautiful

— Sappho fragments translated by Anne Carson

Venus has been glowing in the twilight of cooling Virgo sunsets recently with Spica, commonly known as one of the most beneficent fixed stars in astrology. On August 31 and September 1 the star of Aphrodite aligned by zodiacal degree as well as visually in the sky with Spica, the ear of wheat in the left hand of the Winged Goddess in the Virgo constellation (for a visual look at this Earthsky article). Spica has also been connected with images of lamps, pearls and other symbols of bringing knowledge like the wheat cultivating Ceres.

Venus was recently at maximum elongation as an Evening Star and is now in process of descending each evening as she approaches stationing retrograde at 10º50′ Scorpio on October 5. After being retrograde for forty days and nights, on November 16 Venus will station direct at 25º14′ Libra, coming into close contact once again with Spica. In fact, Venus enters the “shadow zone” of her upcoming retrograde on September 2, meaning that Venus will begin moving through the zodiacal degrees she will eventually return to in November as part of her underworld, retrograde journey. Thus the communion of Venus with Spica is an initiation that takes us into the space of the regenerative Venus retrograde that will open October. Spica will hold its steady course in the meantime, awaiting the return of Venus at the end of her retrograde when they will unite at dawn as Morning Stars.

What meaning can we find with Spica marking the beginning and the end of the zodiacal terrain in which Venus will experience her 2018 retrograde journey? Known as Sunbala, Sunbale, Sumbela, Sumbalet, as well as Spica, the Spike of the Virgin, it has been said that the light of Spica which symbolizes the wheat held by the Winged Goddess is a source of cultivating knowledge and bountiful gifts. Bernadette Brady wrote that Spica brings “a gift of brilliance, an innate talent, skill or ability which is out of the ordinary,” a “symbol of knowledge and insight.”  Brady wrote that the wheat sheaf symbolism of Spica “can be considered a symbol of her [the Goddess] gifts to humankind.”

Spica has the nature of Venus and Mars so is an ideal starry source of nourishment for Venus as we transition from a period of Mars retrograde into Venus retrograde. Periods of Mars and Venus being retrograde can be difficult due to increased levels of volatility and change, yet also can help put us in touch with core talents and gifts that demand engagement and expression. As Venus unites with Spica at sunset, we may sense the gift of a skill that wants to emerge from within us to be refined, developed, and honed over the next few months. Spica at the gateway of the upcoming Venus retrograde speaks to essential insight and knowledge available to be uncovered and integrated from now through November.

bodes uranographia virgo libra

Uranographia (1801) by Johann Bode

Venus conjoining Spica also marks the entry of Venus into her sidereal home of Libra, as Spica demarcates zero degrees of Libra in the sidereal zodiac favored by Indian astrologers. This means visually against the backdrop of the constellations, Venus is also now entering the space of the Libra constellation she calls home. In contrast to the perspective of the tropical zodiac which views Venus as moving from Scorpio back into Libra during the upcoming retrograde, in the sidereal zodiac Venus will spend the entirety of the retrograde within her home of Libra.

The Coptic people of Egypt named Spica as “Solitary,” likely due to it being relatively isolated from nearby stars [Constellation of Words]. Similarly, Spica is the star at the heart of the 14th Lunar Mansion known as Al Simak, “The Unarmed.” 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 his 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.” The connection of both Venus and Mars to Spica is evident in these words, and this lunar mansion theme also resonates with the general meaning of Venus moving retrograde from Scorpio back into Libra.

prudence pendant

Pearl and gemstone pendant of Prudence (ca 1550-60) gazing into mirror while holding a snake, symbolizing self-knowledge and wisdom (from The Met)

Indian astrology for ages has placed Spica (“Star of Opportunity”) as the defining star of Chitra (“The Bright and Brilliant”), the 14th nakshatra which has been associated with a Bright Jewel or Pearl, making Spica a pearl of divine spirit within the heavens we have within. Dennis Harness in The Nakshatras explained Chitra also translates as a “painting or work of art” and “reflects the many, variegated colors seen in the radiance of a white star.” Chitra possesses Tvashtar, the Artificer, or Shaper, as its presiding divinity, he who is “the master of maya and magic.” Harness wrote that not only is Chitra “one of the most mystical nakshatras,” with “a deep spiritual depth,” it also also brings “sudden flashes of inspiration and the urge to realize one’s true self.”

Mars is the ruler of Spica’s nakshatra, and as Chitra has correspondences with serpents and female tigers, it signifies passion, seduction, charisma, and righteousness. Mars at the final degree of Capricorn will form a square aspect with Venus at the final degree of Libra on September 8, a day before a New Moon in Virgo. The square aspect has the nature of Mars, bringing about volatile change and opportunities for courageously rising to work at whatever needs to be done in a difficult situation. The gifts of Spica to be accessed from now through November as part of the Venus retrograde process will be hard won, penetrating self realizations that will guide strong effort bringing forth new talents.

Sidney_Hall_-_Urania's_Mirror_-_Libra

from Urania’s Mirror (1824); Zuben Elgenubi is the alpha star of the Libra constellation and can be seen in the image on the right side of the scales

Jupiter in the Scales

Experience shows us

Wealth unchaperoned / by Virtue is never / an innocuous neighbor

— Sappho fragment translated by Mary Barnard

Jupiter will be co-present in tropical Scorpio when Venus stations retrograde in tropical Scorpio in October, bringing its expansive, visionary influence to Venus moving retrograde in Scorpio through the rest of October. Visually in the night sky, Jupiter has been passing through the scales of the Libra constellation near Zuben Elegnubi, the alpha star of the constellation. In fact, Jupiter earlier in the year moved retrograde back through the scales and stationed direct in July near Zuben Elegnubi, and Jupiter is only now beginning to move away from the alpha star of the Scales. From an Egyptian cosmological view we could interpret this as Jupiter being weighed on the scales of Maat. With so many environmental and political crises occurring in global events, we’ve all been called to face a difficult reality and question how we are contributing and what we are capable of changing.

Bernadette Brady wrote that Zuben Elgenubi “symbolizes higher ideals . . . for in its meaning the prime motive is not personal gain but rather to benefit the group” and involvement in “social reform or social justice.” One of the two scales along with its twin Zuben Eschamali, in more ancient times Zuben Elgenubi was known as one of the two Claws of the Scorpion constellation. Jason Holley has spoken about Libra nature embodying both the Scales and the Claws, with Libra’s intrinsic spatial awareness of tension systems enabling the triggering of conflicts as well as effectively negotiating interpersonal dynamics. The rebellious nature of Venus retrograde combined with Jupiter in tropical Scorpio will be powerful allies for any movements centered around social justice.

Sonata_No._6_(Sonata_of_the_Stars)._Allegro

Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1908) Sonata of the Stars

References

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

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

Carson, Anne. (2002). If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho. Vintage Books.

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

Sappho a New Translation by Mary Barnard. (1958). University of California Press.

Spica. Constellation of Words.

Warnock, Christopher. (2010). Mansions of the Moon: A Lunar Zodiac for Astrology and Magic. Renaissance Astrology.

The Planetary Nodes of Neptune

Neptune Node cross

astrology glyphs designed by Bradley Naragon

Nodes of Neptune

Those who study and practice astrology are very familiar with the nodes of the Moon, yet across traditions of astrology there are diverse, sometimes conflicting, ways of interpreting and using them. One thing astrologers agree on is that exploring the nodes of the Moon in natal charts and transits unlocks significant information. Not as many people pay attention to the nodes of the other planets, but once you begin contemplating them you will discover there is rich meaning to be found in their placements that also has a mysterious quality difficult to capture in keywords and tidy definitions. It as if the archetypal force of the associated planet ascends and descends like waves from the oceanic world soul or collective unconscious when its planetary nodes are active. This strange, significant influence is especially ineffable when contemplating Neptune and its planetary nodes. There have been a series of astrological transits unveiling Neptune’s collective influence through the activation of its planetary nodes recently, and so it’s worth considering your personal as well as our collective relationship with Neptune in these present times.

Dane Rudhyar published The Planetary and Lunar Nodes in 1971, a short text loaded with insight into the nodes of the Moon as well as all of the other planets. Rudhyar was clearly impressed with the significance of the planetary nodes, writing that having the nodes of Uranus (or any planet) conjoining the ascendant or midheaven is more significant than having Uranus (or the nodal planet) conjoining the ascendant or midheaven because the planetary nodes illuminate an essential “quality of being related to the space of its entire orbit.” Notably, Rudhyar did not root his analysis of planetary nodes in only new age, modern astrology concepts but also in ancient astrological understanding. He wrote:

Indeed, in philosophical traditions concerning the meaning of astrology it was stated that the fundamental reality of what we call a planet is not its material mass but rather the space which its movements define.

— Dane Rudhyar, The Planetary and Lunar Nodes

Moreover, the method utilized by Rudhyar in The Planetary and Lunar Nodes has a strong connection to the same techniques utilized by ancient Mesopotamian astrologers who placed great significance on dynamic points of change in lunar latitude, information found through paying attention to when the Moon conjoins or forms a square to its own nodes. The nodes of the Moon demarcate the places of eclipses whenever a New Moon or Full Moon forms in close proximity to their placement. This is due to the lunar nodes marking the intersection of the ecliptic (the apparent path of our Sun that forms the zodiac) with the arc of the Moon’s orbit. The lunar nodes also mark when the Moon transitions from southern into northern latitude or vice versa.

line-of-nodes-e1500029637840

from Earthsky.org

When the Moon approaches and then moves through a conjunction with its North Node of the Moon, in the northern hemisphere this means the Moon is moving from southern latitude into being on the ecliptic when it forms its union with the North Node. This means essentially the Moon is now on the orbital plane of our planet, and Rudhyar therefore interpreted this as meaning the Moon (or any planet conjoining its North Node) more readily saturating and flooding our earth-based consciousness with its influence. Ancient sky watchers noted this as a point of dynamic change, as the Moon was in transition of moving from southern into northern latitude.

As the Moon moves past the North Node by zodiacal degree it continues to elevate in northern latitude until it forms a square to the lunar nodes, at which point it has reached another dynamic point of change also called the northern bending. At this peak point the Moon is at maximum northern latitude (about five degrees for the Moon) and thus begins to descend in latitude until it forms a conjunction with the South Node of the Moon, moving from northern into southern latitude. To Rudhyar, when the Moon is conjoining its own South Node it means it is once again strongly impacting our consciousness by being aligned with our orbital plane around the Sun.  This is a third dynamic point of change in latitude.

When the Moon once again forms a square to the nodes following its conjunction with its South Node it is at its southern bending, its maximum point of southern latitude before beginning to head back toward the ecliptic and the North Node of the Moon. This is the fourth and final dynamic point of change in latitude. Rudhyar stressed the importance of paying attention to when the Moon forms a conjunction with its North Node, then northern bending, then South Node, then southern bending and around again to another union with the North Node, as this taps us into a dynamic process of lunar change. Interestingly, ancient Hellenistic astrologers such as Vettius Valens were aware of the unstable, volatile nature of these points in the Moon’s orbit and advised against electing charts for events whenever the Moon was conjoining or forming a square to one of its own nodes.

Nodes on lunar planisphere

Lunar Planisphere by John Russell (1806); Astrology glyphs by Bradley Naragon

“The two nodes are not separate points each with its individual meaning; they are the two polar aspects of one single process. What should be studied and understood is, first of all, the process.

In the case of planetary nodes, I repeat, what is at stake is the fundamental relationship of a planet and of our Earth as two related members of the solar system. More specifically, in terms of individual birth-charts, it is the manner in which the essential quality of a planet affects the very structure and the roots of our individuality as a member of the human species.”

— Dane Rudhyar, The Planetary and Lunar Nodes

The North Node to Rudhyar is a point of intake he associated with a metabolic process of building personality through the absorption of new material. Rudhyar stressed the importance of properly metabolizing, digesting, and integrating the new material assimilated by consciousness, otherwise it will lead to challenging, negative issues when the Moon (or planet) reaches its South Node. The South Node to Rudhyar is not only a release in the manner of decay or disintegration, but also a seed-like re-channeling into mental, creative, and spiritual development. Rudhyar wrote at the South Node there can be both the putrefaction of poisonous, toxic material as well as positive, creative expression.

In particular, Rudhyar connected the South Node points as being about an expansion of personality rather than building, and that it positively involves dedication to an ideal or community focus. Similar to how the South Node can be a place of sacrificial fires of purification in Indian astrology, Rudhyar also described the South Node as a place of sacrifice as in “making sacred” rather than egoic sacrifice in which we expect something in return.  When the Moon (or other planet) comes around in its orbit to descend across the South Node from northern into southern latitude, it is as if the entire arc of material being assimilated since the most recent union with the North Node becomes focused in consciousness and must be processed and released:

“When a planet is at its north node, its essential function and quality in the solar system is focused upon our Earth-space which is then most able to absorb and assimilate it. When the planet is at its south node what is released as ‘substantial’ factors are the results of the relationship between the characteristic nature of the planet and whatever in the Earth-space has absorbed its power.

If the relationship has been positive, then what has been absorbed has also been ‘assimiliated’ and integrated to the Earth-consciousness and has produced a new ‘seed,’ i.e., new experiences and values. If the relationship has proven negative, what is being released or exteriorized are disintegrating materials, or negative existential results.”

–Dane Rudhyar, The Planetary and Lunar Nodes

neptune node vallotton print

Background by Felix Vallotton; astrology glyphs by Bradley Naragon

When the Moon or planet is in square to the nodes, at either the northern or southern bending, Rudhyar stated it  “operates with a minimum degree of focalization in earth-nature… The Moon [or planet] is as far withdrawn from the Earth…yet…is most active in her own sphere. What happens in that sphere during… maximum latitude becomes focused and exteriorized” when the Moon [or planet] conjoins its nodes. These are times in “which all that the Moon [or planet] represents in the fields of… organic psychological and social activity is brought to focus in… consciousness.”

Rudhyar distinguished between the impact of a planet crossing its north node, which he saw as involving a greater degree of cooperation between the archetypal force of the planet and the Earth, with the impact of a planet crossing its own south node, which he saw as being challenging in terms of an outpouring of the archetypal force descending across the ecliptic. He wrote, “At its south node the characteristic quality of a planet is almost forcibly thrown upon the Earth.” Currently we are experiencing Pluto in Capricorn conjoining its own South Node in Capricorn, and so the Plutonic archetype is being forcibly unleashed throughout our collective consciousness. Pluto was last at its North Node in Cancer in 1930, a topic I will return to explore in a future article.

It is important to note that Rudhyar worked with the heliocentric nodes of the planets when analyzing the dynamic process of latitude change, rather than the geocentric nodes of the planets. Since the Moon actually orbits the Earth, the fact we use the geocentric nodes of the Moon is accurate and results in the North Node and South Node of the Moon always being opposite one another in polarity. However, since the other planets do not orbit around the Earth, although their geocentric nodal placements are interesting to consider in astrology (for example, Jeff Green used the geocentric nodal placements in his work), it is only when we consider the heliocentric placements that we find the planetary nodes to be at opposite points of polarity. Rudhyar also felt the heliocentric planetary nodes tap us more strongly into the relationship between our orbit around the Sun and the orbits of the other planets around the Sun.

With regard to Neptune and its planetary nodes, we last experienced a conjunction of Neptune with its South Node in Aquarius in 2002 through 2004, with the current movement of Neptune across Pisces taking us into deeper Neptunian southern latitude. Since the North Node of Neptune is in Leo between 11 and 12 degrees, and the South Node of Neptune is in Aquarius between 11 and 12 degrees, this means that the northern bending of Neptune when it forms a square to its own nodes at maximum northern latitude is in Scorpio between 11 and 12 degrees. This then means that when Neptune is in Taurus between 11 and 12 degrees that it is at its southern bending, its maximum southern latitude before it begins to ascend back toward the ecliptic. The graphic below has dates for when Neptune has been at each of these points in its orbital cycle:
Neptune Node cycle with datesThere are numerous historical lines of development across time from diverse cultural perspectives that can be correlated with Neptune at each of these four dynamic points of its orbital cycle. It is interesting that Neptune was discovered in 1846 not long after it had descended into southern latitude across the ecliptic. Furthermore, one of the traditional definitions of historical eras in Europe, the Victorian Era, began as Neptune conjoined its South Node in Aquarius in 1838 to 1840. One aspect of the Victorian Era relevant to an activation of the Neptunian archetype was a wave of Spiritualism such as mesmerism and seances. In fact, if we move forward to when Neptune was in Taurus at its southern bending, we can note this is the period of Madame Blavatsky and her Theosophist movement, including the publishing of Isis Unveiled in 1877.

The Victorian era also involved societal repercussions from the Industrial Revolution, and as Neptune moved toward its southern bending there were not only numerous political revolutions across Europe but also the development of socialism and communism.  In the United States of America, Neptune’s movement towards its southern bending in 1877 involved expansion of territory through warfare with indigenous civilizations, as well as the atrocities of slavery that led into underground railroads and abolitionist movements, as well as ultimately the U.S Civil War that freed slaves yet led into a  reconstruction period that continued to enforce institutional racism. Neptune at its southern bending in 1877 saw Crazy Horse fighting his final battles, a railroad strike and riots by railroad workers, and Thomas Edison announcing his discovery of the phonograph which made the recording of sound possible.

Of course, its easy to see that as Neptune drew closer to aligning with its North Node in Leo in 1919 that not only did the first world war erupt, but also monumental political revolutions such as both the Mexican and Russian revolutions. By the time Neptune conjoined its North Node the first world war had ended, and there was an attempt to broker a new peace through the creation of the League of Nations in 1920. Through these eruptions of violent conflict, we can witness the extraordinary power struggles that correlate with Neptune’s orbital cycle- across history we can observe wars erupting that involve conflicts between the religious and idealistic dogma of those pitted against one another.

Jacob Lawrence the migration series

from The Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence, born with Neptune near its North Node in Leo

One element of Neptune having its North Node in Leo is creative actualization of the Neptune archetype, and in Europe during the first world war we can witness this with the development of the avant garde Dada art movement as Neptune approached and crossed over its North Node. In the United States of America, although African Americans continued to face severe racism, they also made an immense cultural impact through the arts with the development of jazz within black communities. In fact, the decade of the 1920s heralded by Neptune conjoining its North Node in Leo became known as the Jazz Age. In addition, there was also an African American artistic and literary movement proclaimed the Harlem Renaissance that developed as Neptune ascended across its North Node in Leo.

There are many events that can be connected with Neptune reaching its northern bending in Scorpio (1961 – 1964), one of the biggest being the powerful drive of the Civil Rights activism in the United States of America. These years witnessed the rallying of action by  Malcolm X, the grandeur of the “I Have a Dream” speech and the profound resistance of the Birmingham campaign that led to a flooding of local jails by protesters, including Martin Luther King, Jr. who composed his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” with Neptune at 14°47 Scorpio, only a couple of degrees past the northern bending of Scorpio. The utopian idealism and psychedelic waves in culture that erupted across the 1960s can also be connected with Neptune in Scorpio being at the peak of northern latitude and bending into descent.

As Neptune descended toward the ecliptic both personal computers and the Internet were created that led to an economic bubble of immense Internet profit as Neptune in Aquarius approached a conjunction with the South Node of Neptune in 2002 – 2004. The Internet bubble had burst by the time Neptune conjoined its own South Node in these years, but during the same period Neptune was crossing the ecliptic from northern into southern latitude, Facebook was created and Google went public. Facebook, Google, and other Internet giants have gained massive influence over the imaginal space of multitudes of people as Neptune has continued to deepen into southern latitude in the years since.

The years of Neptune conjoining its South Node in Aquarius also coincided with the United States of America going to war with Afghanistan and Iraq. The War with Iraq will always be remembered for being initiated by an illusion of weapons of mass destruction. As these wars involved a strongly Christian civilization going to war with dominant Islamic civilizations, it has a link to the crusades of the Middle Ages involving Christian armies invading Islamic lands. The period of the crusades in the Middle Ages is the same time that the Nodes of Neptune moved from being in Cancer and Capricorn into Leo and Aquarius.

It’s also possible to find patterns of development within literature and the arts, such as The Lord of the Rings stories by J.R.R. Tolkien.  In 2004 as Neptune was crossing its South Node in Aquarius into southern latitude, the final story in the series, The Return of the King won an Oscar for Best Picture. Reportedly, J.R.R. Tollkien began writing the story that would eventually develop into the final narrative of The Lord of the Rings in 1917 when Neptune was beginning to cross its North Node from southern into northern latitude. It makes sense to me that some of the themes of The Lord of the Rings could be applied to the meaning of Neptune’s South Node being in Aquarius and it’s North Node in Leo. It’s possible to find links with many other diverse stories and art that align with Neptune’s nodal axis.

Thus if you have a natal chart placement close to 11 degrees of Aquarius, you have it aligned with the South Node of Neptune. If you have it at 11 degrees of Leo, you have it aligned with the North Node of Neptune. If you have it at 11 degrees of Scorpio, you have it at the northern bending of Neptune. If you have it at 11 degrees of Taurus, you have it at the southern bending of Neptune. We can also work in the transit of other planets into this. For example, Mars stationed retrograde a couple degrees away from the South Node of Neptune on 26 June 2018, and Mercury stationed direct on the North Node of Neptune on 19 August 2018. Both of these transits therefore activated the orbital arc of Neptune, essentially stirring up Neptunian material from the collective unconscious into our interconnected collective field.

jung red book 131

Image 131 from Liber Novus by C.G. Jung, born with Neptune in Taurus approaching southern bending of Neptune

The tension of the future is unbearable in us. It must break through narrow cracks, it must force new ways. You want to cast off the burden, you want to escape the inescapable. Running away is deception and detour. Shut your eyes so that you do not see the manifold, the outwardly plural, the tearing away and the tempting. There is only one way and that is your way; there is only one salvation and that is your salvation. Why are you looking around for help? Do you believe that help will come from outside? What is to come is created in you and from you. Hence look into yourself. Do not compare, do not measure. No other way is like yours. All other ways deceive and tempt you. You must fulfill the way that is in you.

— C.G. Jung, Liber Novus, 130

C.G. Jung is an example of someone born with Neptune approaching its southern bending in Taurus, as he was born in 1875 with Neptune at 3°02′ Taurus (about eight degrees away). This means that as Jung grew up, Neptune was moving from its deepest point of southern latitude up toward the ecliptic and its own North Node. As Neptune became closer to its North Node and the first world war erupted, Jung went into his theurgic descent of Red Book visions and creative, spiritual explorations. Interestingly, Dr. Liz Greene in Jung’s Studies in Astrology (Volume 1) included two passages related to Jung’s writing that link well with meanings we can find for the North Node of Neptune being Leo, and the South Node of Neptune being Aquarius:

  • In 1920, Jung wrote the word “prayer” derives from Hindu barh, meaning “to swell” and therefore “the upward-striving will of man towards the holy, the divine . . . Hence, in common speech, one frequently uses images like ‘overflowing with emotion,’ ‘unable to restrain onself,’ ‘bursting’ when referring to such a state . . . This accounts for all those sun, fire, flame, wind, breath similes from time immemorial have been symbols of the procreative and creative power that moves the world.”
  • In 1936 Jung wrote about “the differences between the often ‘heretical’ visions that contain the raw archetypal dominants behind religious ideas, and the more conventional visions which ‘agree with the dogma’ and are ‘visualizations of conscious contents, evoked through prayer, autosuggestion’… Prayer, in this latter context, is merely a form of autosuggestion that follows collectively acceptable formulae and produces collectively acceptable religious ‘experiences’ . . . “ 

These two passages curated by Dr. Greene in her exploration of Jung’s work with the personal daimon display some of the meaning of the polarity at play between Neptune’s nodes of Leo and Aquarius. In addition to the bursting, upswelling spiritual experiences, the North Node of Leo can also be associated with the spiritual glamor that occurs within spiritual communities. Though there are noble qualities of Leo to embody with the North Node of Neptune in Leo, its shadow is clearly when power becomes abused by those placed into the roles of guru or spiritual authority. With regard to Aquarius, we can find both the conformity of modifying behavior and appearances to a spiritual community’s standard as well as the revelations and direct spiritual transmissions received by hermits, heretics, wanderers, and others who are set apart from consensus culture and religion.

ace of cups by pamela colman smith

Ace of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

The South Node of Neptune moved from Capricorn into Aquarius, with the North Node of Neptune moving from Cancer into Leo by the 10th Century, but took until the 12th Century for the nodes to have stabilized in only Leo and Aquarius for good. The time of the nodal transition into Leo and Aquarius occurred during a golden age of Islamic civilization, while in Europe it was the era of the troubadour. Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth described the monumental shift during the age of the troubadour as creating a human ideal for pursuing an authentic life rather than one dictated by the dogmatic authority of church, family, and culture. With the troubadours came the ideal of person to person love that continues into the modern era; there’s also a resonance here with the North Node of Neptune moving into Leo. Instead of conforming to the dictates of arranged marriage, the sway of the troubadours inspired the ideal of being seized by the soul’s counterpart in a romantic other. People became willing to risk burning in the fires of hell, as they were told they would do by religious authorities, in order to be with their beloved.

In 1095 the Pope called for the first crusade with the nodes of Neptune in the beginning of Aquarius and Leo. The crusades link to how Jeff Green in evolutionary astrology connects trauma with the South Node of Neptune being Aquarius. Green wrote that the religions and cosmologies created from humans projecting meaning onto the cosmos has been a main cause of wars in which one religion attempts to dominate any group it feels threatened by. Green wrote that genocide and terrorism becomes rationalized because each religion believes it has the right to control and eliminate due to being the right religion acting in the name of God. Green wrote that the North Node of Leo not only involves using religion for justification of one being right and others being wrong, but also connects with the desire of human souls for inner gnosis.

I recently gave a talk for EA Zoom Meetings! on the planetary nodes of Neptune you can watch below. Jeff Green deserves a lot of credit for being one of the few astrologers to continue to promote the significance of the planetary nodes and to actively utilize them in his interpretations. When I was younger I was drawn to learn evolutionary astrology from Jeff Green in large part because of the significance he gave to the planetary nodes, as they were an aspect of astrology I was eager to learn. More recently astrologers such as Mark Jones and Gary Caton have brought additional attention to the planetary nodes, with Jones giving numerous talks on the subject at astrology conferences such as UAC and NORWAC.

Instead of focusing on describing the meaning of the sign placements of the planetary nodes, Rudhyar in The Planetary and Lunar Nodes focuses more on interpreting the dynamic points of the planet forming conjunctions and squares to its nodes. This is the main point I focused on explaining in this talk:

 

This talk primarily draws from the work of Dane Rudhyar, while also mentioning some of the interpretive meaning brought by Jeff Green to Neptune having its south node in Aquarius and north node in Leo. I also talk briefly about the current significance of Neptune being in Pisces and the fact that recently the transiting lunar nodes have been aligned with Neptune’s nodes, eclipses have been conjoining the nodes of Neptune, and both the recent Mars and Mercury retrograde phases have been connected to Neptune’s nodes. Mars stationed retrograde in Aquarius close to the South Node of Neptune on 26 June 2018, and Mercury stationed direct in Leo directly on the North Node of Neptune on 19 August 2018.

References

Greene, Liz. (2018). Jung’s Studies in Astrology: Prophecy, Magic, and the Qualities of Time (Volume 1).

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

Full Moon in Pisces: Flow into Fomalhaut

Pisces fish with ship hermetic

from the book of Lamspring (1607) kept in the library of Salzburg

Full Moon in Pisces

The Full Moon in Pisces on August 26 illuminates the lunar cycle that began with the partial Solar Eclipse in Leo on August 11, facilitating the finding of one’s place within all of the volatile changes that have been stirred up since June by Mars retrograde, Mercury retrograde, and a series of three eclipses in a row. Eclipse season has now ended, Mercury retrograde is over with Mercury firmly direct, and Mars is finally stationing direct as the Full Moon forms. The changes stirred up by the eclipses and Mars retrograde will be continuing to take shape in the next couple of months, but the Pisces Full Moon contains many supportive aspects that makes it an ideal time to recenter and revision plans in accord with recent shifts in storylines.

There is a stabilizing, flowing earth triangle formed at the Full Moon by the Sun in Virgo,  Uranus in Taurus, and Saturn in Capricorn. The Full Moon forms what some astrologers call a “kite” with the earth triangle, with the Pisces Full Moon at the midpoint of Saturn and Uranus, forming a harmonious sextile to each. Making this alignment even more potent, Saturn in Capricorn is slowing down to station direct on September 6, making the influence of Saturn especially strong in the week following the Full Moon. Altogether these aspects support breakthrough plans, taking new initiative cut free from inhibitions or restrictions from the past. Most importantly these aspects provide tangible, practical grounding into discerning how to structure and manifest innovative ideas and make real progress toward overarching goals that weave together diverse elements of core values.

The Full Moon is ruled by Jupiter in Scorpio separating from a trine with Neptune in Pisces, and applying toward a sextile with Pluto in Capricorn. As a result Jupiter in Scorpio brings a deepening and intensification to all manner of visionary projects and creative expression worked on in the light of the Full Moon.  These aspects with Neptune and Pluto form part of the central promise of Jupiter’s time in Scorpio that began in October 2017, and so the Pisces Full Moon highlights how we can find treasures within the underworld domain Jupiter has been inhabiting while in Scorpio. The gifts Jupiter brings while in Scorpio are not found within easy experiences so much as they are discovered when bravely confronting difficult questions and dynamics. Jupiter remains bright in night skies and is moving direct through its final passage in Scorpio that will end November 8 when Jupiter enters Sagittarius.

As there have been numerous difficult collective experiences occurring with regard to environmental and political toxicity, the Pisces Full Moon points to what positive growth we can cultivate for ourselves and surrounding communities. If things have been falling apart around you and you have been burdened by grief or anger over upsetting events, the Pisces Full Moon also offers a climate supportive for an outpouring of emotion that can bring cleansing through the release. In particular the Pisces Full Moon is well suited for transmuting difficult feelings through expression and creation in any of the arts, whether that process involves tactile building or more intellective, abstract processing.

piscis notius

Pisces Notius aka Piscis Austrinus “the Southern Fish” with Fomalhaut in the mouth drinking the water poured by Aquarius, from Uranographia (1801) by Johann Bode

Fomalhaut

The Pisces Full Moon is aligned closely by zodiacal degree with the great fixed star Fomalhaut, one of the four royal stars of Persia considered since ancient times to be one of the four watchers of the year. Due to precession, around 3,000 BC in Persia it became known as the “Watcher in the South” due to marking the Winter Solstice, according to Bernadette Brady in her book on fixed stars. Its heliacal rising was also aligned with Greek temples devoted to Demeter around 500 BC. Fomalhaut is a star in the mouth of the Southern Fish, a constellation distinct from the fish of the Pisces constellation. Fomalhaut is at the point of intake where the Southern Fish is drinking from the celestial water poured by the constellation of Aquarius, the Water Bearer. Bernadette Brady wrote that Fomalhaut and the Southern Fish can be associated with the fish in Celtic mythology holding great wisdom to be discovered by those willing to venture into its watery depths. Ptolemy linked Fomalhaut with Venus and Mercury and there has been a long tradition by various astrologers of describing it as an angelic, poetic, guiding star of mystics.

Bernadette Brady additionally wrote that Fomalhaut is not only associated with “charisma,” “beauty or perfect harmony,” but also “high ideals or lofty visions” that force individuals under its influence “to clash with mainstream thought in order to achieve these ideals.” Brady also noted the warning that comes with all of the Royal Stars, that while Fomalhaut can signify true success it can also lead to a total downfall “if the ideals or dreams are corrupt in any way.” Oftentimes Mars retrograde periods call us to do things differently, taking action in areas we have previously held back from engaging with. When our ideals clash with the status quo, unless we are rebellious by nature it can take time to cultivate the inner fortitude needed to buck convention. With Mars now stationing direct, Fomalhaut’s co-presence with the Full Moon will strengthen resolve to follow through with unconventional visions.

There is interesting symbolism with Fomalhaut drinking the water of the Aquarius constellation, since Mars stationed retrograde in tropical Aquarius and is stationing direct as the Full Moon aligns with Fomalhaut. Fomalhaut’s influence will aid in creatively actualizing whatever has been stirred up by the Mars retrograde, fueling achievement of idealistic visions. Interestingly, the Pisces Full Moon is the most auspicious full Moon we have experienced since the Sagittarius Full Moon on May 29 that was aligned with two of the other royal stars, Antares and Aldebaran (Sun was conjoining Aldebaran; Moon was conjoining Antares). The Sagittarius Full Moon occurred before the Mars retrograde, and so with Mars stationing direct now there can be significant movement on whatever has been developing since that time. The Pisces Full Moon signals a time to take action on developing vision.

lamspring unicorn and deer

from the book of Lamspring (1607) kept in the library of Salzburg

Venus & Mercury: Creative Visualization

The Full Moon is in the bounds of Venus, with Venus at her brightest phase during twilight as an Evening Star. Venus is also at home in Libra and so strongly sovereign in both phase and place: she is embodying her role as Queen of Heaven. Yet she has an important challenge to face and integrate from Pluto in Capricorn, as Venus is in a square aspect with Pluto. This aspect can dredge up deep, previously buried desires to process, as well as catalyze empowering ambition that will benefit from the spacial and relational perception of Libra that can discern how to take action without causing damaging disruption within relationships. Venus in Libra is on the superior side of the square with Pluto, suggesting that social justice conflicts involving plutocratic power structures will have the scales tipped in favor of those fighting for equity and possessing ethical concern for oppression caused by systematic bias. As the fullness in lunar light amplifies feelings, so will the tension between Venus and Pluto lead to an outpouring of emotional expression and catharsis.

After Venus completes her square with Pluto, she will begin moving toward a square aspect with Mars in Capricorn during the waning cycle of the Moon that will finally complete on September 8 during a Dark Moon in Virgo. Venus will also begin to descend lower and lower each night in elevation as an Evening Star as she approaches her retrograde phase in Scorpio that will begin on October 5. Venus will enter the zodiacal degree shadow zone of her upcoming retrograde phase on September 2 at 25°14 Libra, the degree at which she will eventually station direct at the end of her retrograde in November. Since we know a Venus retrograde period is coming in October, we can begin to gain awareness for shifting narratives and changes we can sense are beginning to take shape in relationships.

Fascinatingly, just before entering her shadow zone Venus will form a conjunction with the benefic fixed star Spica on August 31, a conjunction that will not only happen by zodiacal degree but also visually in the sky. Around August 31 we will be able to see Venus as an Evening Star in the same space as Spica, the fixed star that forms the wheat held by the winged goddess of the Virgo constellation. Spica is associated with Venus and has a long tradition of being connected with bountiful gifts, talents, and reception of important knowledge. As a result it as if Spica is initiating Venus into her upcoming underworld journey, giving us a gift of insight to take with us into our experience with Venus retrograde in Scorpio and Libra in October and November.

A day after Venus enters her shadow zone she will form an exact sextile with Mercury in Leo on September 3. At the time of the Full Moon Mercury is already within four degrees of a sextile with Venus and so will be in an extended harmonious relationship with Venus in the week and a half following the Pisces Full Moon. Mercury is also applying to a square with Jupiter in Scorpio at the Full Moon, the third and final time that Mercury has formed a square with Jupiter recently due to its retrograde (previously Mercury was square to Jupiter on August 11 and July 9). This is yet another element of the Pisces Full Moon supporting taking a leap forward toward visions we have previously not felt ready to devote ourselves fully toward.

At the time of the Pisces lunation Mercury will also be at maximum elongation as a Morning Star after having previously gone through its retrograde phase, which is in contrast to Venus being at the maximum elongation that precedes her upcoming retrograde phase.  Altogether this means there is an exchange of insight occurring between Mercury and Venus as we transition from a period of Mercury and Mars being retrograde into a period of Venus being retrograde. We now have the potential to embody increased levels of creativity sourced by the regenerative process of Mercury being retrograde in July and August during a series of eclipses. The week following the Full Moon will support taking risks and initiating change in alignment with whatever wants to emerge from the recent period of volatility.

Mercury will enter its home and exaltation in Virgo as the Moon wanes in light on September 5, forming a trine with Saturn as it stations direct in Capricorn on September 6. Immediately upon entering Virgo, Mercury will re-activate the earth triangle formed by Uranus in Taurus, Saturn in Capricorn, and Mercury in Virgo. Mercury is extremely effective with discerning analysis while in Virgo, and will prove to be a valuable ally in figuring out how to most effectively implement plans and problem solve whatever difficulties arise.

lamspring raptors in tree

from the book of Lamspring (1607) kept in the library of Salzburg

Mars Stationing Direct

An immense influence over the Pisces Full Moon comes from the fiery red planet Mars that is finally stationing direct. Mars will station direct on August 28 at 28°36′ Capricorn, dominating the astrological atmosphere with its assertive, separative, and martial influence in the surrounding week. Mars has been retrograde since it stationed at 9°13′ Aquarius on June 26, and with it finally beginning to slowly shift forward again in the week following the Full Moon, those who have felt frustrated by their experience and expression with Mars retrograde may get the sense of their full will force returning to them. The Pisces Full Moon will also serve as a final illumination of whatever inner transformation has coincided with Mars being retrograde and is now informing outer expression.

Although Mars stations direct a couple of days after the Full Moon, it essentially is not moving  and will remain between 28 and 29 degrees of Capricorn through September 3. Mars will eventually return to Aquarius on September 11, form its final conjunction with the South Node of the Moon in Aquarius on September 25, and will finally exits its retrograde shadow zone on October 8. This means that we are going to continue dealing with all of the changes brought by Mars retrograde over the course of the next month and into October. Keeping this in mind, the stationing of Mars will bring revitalized desire to strike out in a new direction or go deeper in current direction. It’s also a good time to watch for triggers to conflict and avoid fights that are not necessary and drain energy levels. If you have been dealing with a lot of strife recently involving separations of some kind, there is likely a reborn presence you have recovered in the process to now embody more fully.

8_cups_rws_lg

8 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Pisces 1 Decan

The Pisces Full Moon falls in the first face of Pisces, associated with the 8 of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image the Sun appears to be becoming partially eclipsed, an interesting connection with the Pisces Full Moon illuminating a lunar cycle that began with a partial Solar Eclipse in Leo. The image contains 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. The first face of Pisces is ruled by Saturn, which aligns perfectly with the image of a hermit turning away from the accepted and familiar in order to receive new visions of depth and penetrating insight.

Austin Coppick ascribed the image of “The Labyrinth” to the first face of Pisces, noting it signifies “a quest to map invisible walls of reality,” “the subtle structures which guide human life,” as well as the realization that our own unconscious is a primal progenitor of our current reality. Coppock wrote that in the first decan of Pisces we “recognize our imprisonment in our own reality construct” as well as “the possibility of liberation” from moving beyond our former boundaries into “a world as yet uncorrupted by our assumptions.”  Coppock concluded the “liberation is achieved through insight alone,” meaning not only that our soul can re-create our maze-like circumstances, but also that through acceptance of our present labyrinth we may discover what we felt to be a prison can instead be experienced as a palace.

The link between the primal, fertile potency of the unconscious with the first face of Pisces is interesting considering that the ancient Hellenistic text The 36 Airs linked the first face of Pisces with the titanic sea divinity Okeanos. More of a primal sea divinity than Poseidon, Okeanos was also known as the oceanic field surrounding the world where the Sun rises from at dawn and returns to at sunset. Tim Addey in The Seven Myths of the Soul stated that Okeanos was considered the “God of Separative Intellect” in Orphic theology. The following Orphic Hymn to Okeanos was translated by Thomas Taylor:

Ocean I call, whose nature ever flows, from whom at first both Gods and men arose; / Sire incorruptible, whose waves surround, and earth’s concluding mighty circle bound: / Hence every river, hence the spreading sea, and earth’s pure bubbling fountains spring from thee: / Hear, mighty fire, for boundless bliss is thine, whose waters purify the pow’rs divine: / Earth’s friendly limit, fountain of the pole, whose waves wide spreading and circumfluent roll. / Approach benevolent, with placid mind, and be for ever to thy mystics kind.

There is a sense of the fertile void that gives birth to all we can feel when staring into the ocean and smelling its scent, when drifting within its waves and aquatic life. Open to communion with soul at the Pisces Full Moon, and allow yourself to be guided from what emerges from within. The Pisces Full Moon signals a period of recovery from the stormy astrological weather of recent months, a time to nurture newfound strength and take initiative in helping to create the world we wish to live in. As Rainer Maria Rilke once wrote:

Whoever you are: in the evening step out / of your room, where you know everything; / yours is the last house before the far-off: / whoever you are. / With your eyes, which in their weariness / barely free themselves from the worn-out threshold, / you lift very slowly one black tree / and place it against the sky: slender, alone. / And you have made the world. And it is huge / and like a word which grows ripe in silence. / And as your will seizes on its meaning, / tenderly your eyes let it go . . .

“Entrance” by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Edward Snow

 

References

Addey, Tim. (2000). The Seven Myths of the Soul. The Prometheus Trust.

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

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

Rilke, Rainer Maria. (1991). The Book of Images. Translated by Edward Snow. North Point Press.

Partial Solar Eclipse in Leo

Lion Hermetic Child of Sun and Moon

from The Hermetic Child of the Sun and Moon (1752)

Partial Solar Eclipse in Leo

On 11 August 2018 we experience a Partial Solar Eclipse in Leo, the final solar eclipse in the series of eclipses in Leo and Aquarius we have been experiencing since 2017. Although it is not a “total” eclipse as we experienced a year ago, meaning that the Moon will not completely cover the face of the shining Sun in total blackness, the impact of the partially eclipsed Sun is more than enough to open gates to hidden, unconscious, or otherworldly visitation. Dane Rudhyar in The Planetary and Lunar Nodes wrote that “the past tends to obscure the present” during a solar eclipse, rooting interpretation in the living symbolism of the Moon obscuring the illuminating rays of our great solar star. This also means that all lunar content, which can relate to not only memories but also irrational thoughts and feelings, as well as previously unrecognized subconscious desires, will invade conscious attempts to keep them at bay.

Due to the Leo eclipse occurring on the side of the North Node of the Moon, these emerging desires and feelings may be linked to hunger for growth and development, as well as all sides of ambition including needs for recognition. As this is the final solar eclipse in Leo of the series, it will be wise to use the messages received through contemplation to reflect back upon one’s trajectory of development over the past year and a half. We may not only learn more about our path of development, but also discern a deeper underlying level of motivation behind why we have been doing what we have been doing.

The last time we experienced a solar eclipse in the saros series of this eclipse path was on 31 July 2000 at 8º Leo. Bernadette Brady in Predictive Astrology: The Eagle and the Lark analyzed this series as bringing difficult information in relationships, including ideas of separation, but that it also brings the capacity to respond effectively in a way that “can bring good results.” Her interpretation in part is due to the original eclipse in the series (24 June 792) occurring in conjunction with Jupiter while being on the midpoint of Mars and Uranus. Interestingly, the 11 August 2018 eclipse has a lot of meaning connected with Jupiter, Uranus, and Mars.

Vitally, the Leo Eclipse happens a few days after the inferior conjunction of Mercury retrograde in Leo. Thus a newly reborn Mercury retrograde is close by the eclipse, only four degrees away. This influence of Mercury amplifies our capacity to pick up, interpret, and transmit unconscious awareness and messages that are normally out of range without deliberate attempts to penetrate inner depths. On a practical level this means that many people in our environment who are not used to working with their shadow or rarely attempt to clarify unconscious feelings will be projecting and acting from their shadow without realization they are doing so. Again, because all of this is occurring on the side of the North Node of the Moon in Leo, there are many growth opportunities to be found in the awareness that can be gained from hidden material coming out to be processed in relationships. It doesn’t make the experience necessarily easier to deal with in the moment, but keeping in mind the larger picture and the passing nature of this time can help keep things in a larger perspective.

The other element of the eclipse significantly amplifying subconscious dynamics is that Uranus in Taurus stationed retrograde four days before the eclipse. Whenever a planet stations it saturates the astrological atmosphere with its influence in the surrounding week, and since this is the first time that Uranus has stationed while being in the sign of Taurus, it means that impactful events and messages will be arriving in our life that demonstrate what the transit of Uranus in Taurus is initially meaning for us. The saving grace of this stationing is that Uranus in Taurus is in a stabilizing, flowing trine with Saturn in Capricorn. As a result no matter how difficult the associated experiences are, the harmonious interaction with Saturn in Capricorn will facilitate responding and adjusting effectively as needed. Moreover, if the stationing of Uranus is coinciding with breakthrough thoughts and innovative ideas, the trine with Saturn in Capricorn will help bring visionary ideas into eventual manifestation.

Jack Whitten broken plane

Jack Whitten (1972) Broken Plane #3

Another major factor in the Leo eclipse is that it is in range of a catalytic square with Jupiter in Scorpio, while applying toward an uncomfortable quincunx with Pluto in Capricorn. There is strong visionary capacity to be found within these aspects coupled with the difficulty of bringing the full vision into reality due to current responsibilities and limitations of time, space, and currently available resources. There is also a shadow of ambition to look out for here, and so it will be wise to reflect upon and investigate one’s underlying motives for whatever one becomes called to create and work on. If one’s ambitions are for the greater good, such as helping to empower others rather than have power over others, it will further be worth the time to reflect upon how to best go about achieving one’s goals, again keeping in mind the greater good of the collective and our relationship dynamics. Though there is a lot of emphasis on the North Node of Leo at the eclipse, we still must work with the South Node of the Moon in Aquarius as part of the process.

An additional star within the eclipse drama we must pay attention to is Venus in Libra.  At the time of the eclipse, Venus in Libra is separating from a square with Saturn in Capricorn (after recently completing a trine with Mars retrograde), and is applying toward a sextile with the North Node of the Moon in Leo and a trine with the South Node in Aquarius. Venus then heads toward a sextile with Mercury that will occur at the same time that Mercury stations direct on August 19. Venus is at home in Libra, yet she had her work cut out for her in the week leading into the eclipse as she engaged with first a wild Mars and then an overbearing and resolute Saturn. However, Venus in Libra can bring what we need to mediate relationship conflicts and harmonize whatever has been coming out of balance. In particular Venus in Libra will be able to facilitate creative actualization of whatever insights are gained as Mercury finally stations direct in Leo a week from now.

Jack whitten black monolith II

Jack WhittenBlack Monolith II: Homage to Ralph Ellison The Invisible Man

The Partial Solar Eclipse in Leo is the beginning of a new lunation cycle, and in particular demarcates a significant shift in the astrological atmosphere due to Mars leaving Aquarius and entering Capricorn a day after the eclipse on August 12. Mars entering its exaltation of Capricorn will lower levels of volatility somewhat due to Mars no longer occupying Aquarius, the sign opposite Leo that contains the transiting Mercury retrograde and the Sun. Mars is cooler and more effectively calculating in Capricorn, and as it settles into the same place that Pluto and Saturn are also occupying, Capricorn becomes an incredibly potent section of the zodiac for the rest of the month. There is incredible power in the place of Capricorn to reshape matter from the realizations of inner guidance we have been gaining over the course of Mars being retrograde since June.

Mars left Capricorn on May 15, the same day that Uranus entered Taurus. Previously, Mars had been in Capricorn from March 17 through May 15, and so the return of Mars to Capricorn brings added desire and willpower to return to any work we began to formulate then that for one reason or another we had been experiencing setbacks or difficulties in completing or further developing. Ideally, after sifting through all of the realizations coming into our awareness from the recent series of eclipses as well as Mercury being retrograde in Leo, we can then direct our clarified perception into productive work and effort worthy of the empowering strength Mars, Pluto, and Saturn bring to any endeavor.

6wands

Six of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Leo 2 Decan

The partial solar eclipse is in the second face of Leo, associated with the Six of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. We find here an image of triumphant victory, a strident champion riding a white horse and hailed by a wreath of laurel and an adoring crowd.  Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Crown of Laurels” to this face, proclaiming it “holds within it the magical power of authenticity- here defined as a harmonious connection between the external sphere in which one acts and the spirit fire within each individual.”  The pride and glory of victory in the Six of Wands image also reflects its shadow of hubris, a complex that deserves attention since the Leo Sun will be partially covered in lunar shadow.

Jupiter rules the second face of Leo in both the Chaldean as well as the triplicity rulership schemes. Jupiter in Scorpio is forming a square to the eclipse and calls us to look at the hidden elements under the surface of the prideful hero in the Six of Wands image. For example, we can observe that the very horse being ridden is concealed, as well as elements of the triumphant crowd bearing three of the six wands. As Austin Coppock wrote in 36 Faces, the spirit of this decan can help guide us toward realizing any elements of our public persona that are out of alignment with our inner integrity, or instead how we may need to embody more humility within experiences of recent praise or glory. Coppock astutely made the point that “recognition of one’s virtues does not dispel the reality of one’s vices,” since many images of the decan in ancient text show it is “the temptations of selfishness and cruelty which stain the triumphal nature of this decan.” Coppock declared that the promise and power of victory is so strong in this decan we must guard against becoming blinded by the solar light of success.

Thus it is imperative to search within during the shadowy time of the Leo eclipse, using insight gained to help refine the manner in which we project the indomitable light of our inner soul into the world around us. Fascinatingly, it is none other than the great goddess Isis who resides in the second face of Leo according to the Hellenistic text the 36 Airs. Isis became syncretized as the goddess containing all goddesses in the Hellenistic era, and just as she weaves many spiritual traditions together in her history, so does she weave a web of love through times of trauma to bring about an eventual healing and retrieval of our Self. Isis brings the courage needed to resiliently persist on inner journeys to reanimate whatever aspects of our essential self have become fragmented. As we regain communion with the eternal, indestructible nature of our soul within, so can we more effectively find ways to align our action and work in the world with our inner authenticity.

References

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

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

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

 

Daimon: Guiding Star of Soul

 

Daimon: Guiding Star of Soul

September 14 & 15

Santa Fe, New Mexico

I’m excited to announce I will be presenting a workshop on the Guardian Daimon along with June Rose Trimbach for the NCGR chapter in Santa Fe, New Mexico on the weekend of  September 14 and 15, 2018. For a link to the event page for the Santa Fe NCGR chapter, click here

Description:

In this two-day workshop we will be learning about the ancient spiritual concept of the guardian daimon, also known as the guardian angel or guiding star. The guardian daimon watches over a life and guides us to fulfill our life purpose. In the Friday night lecture we will learn about the rich background of the daimon from antiquity to modern times, and consider why it is meaningful in astrology.

The Saturday workshop will begin with an in-depth look at some of our favorite techniques for exploring the daimon in a natal chart, drawing upon an ancient lineage of astrological thought. We will also discuss how you can encounter the guardian daimon directly through theurgy, which can be translated as ‘gods working through you’. We will open ourselves to the experience of theurgy through a ceremony of guided visualization with intention to commune with one’s daimon. There will be plenty of time to share, reflect and explore these ideas within your own chart. Please bring a copy of your natal chart, a notebook, non-messy art supplies. It is also optional to bring bio-degradable offerings for the spirits (flowers, grains, stones, natural beads, simple food without strong odor, etc).

daimon workshop

Regarding the images included at the top, both are included in Dorian Greenbaum’s book The Daimon in Hellenistic Astrology which is one of our main sources of research.  On the right is a limestone relief depicting Agathos Daimon and Isis/Thermouthis from the Graeco-Roman Museum, Alexandria. On the left is a Roman coin, ca. 76 CE, depicting the Agathos Daimon wearing the double crown of Egypt, with caduceus (left) and wheat ear (right).

Mercury Retrograde in Leo

Mercury from Hermetic child of Sun and Moon

from Hermetic Child of Sun and Moon (1752)

Mercury Retrograde in Leo

Flower-muscle, slowly pulling open / the anemone’s vast meadow morning, / until the loud sky’s polyphonic light / comes pouring down into its womb,

muscle of infinite reception / flexed in the quiet flower star, / sometimes so overwhelmed by fullness / that the sunset’s call to rest

is scarcely able to give you back / the wide-sprung petal edges: you, / resolve and strength of how many worlds!

We violent ones, we last longer. / But when, in which of all these lives, / are we finally open and receivers?

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

When Mercury stations retrograde its best to honor the stillness of the quicksilver messenger, bringing focused presence to our day and open receptivity to the multiplicity of night. Being ever watchful as Mercury stations helps direct awareness toward opportunities appearing on the horizon as well as previously unnoticed matters on the edge of disarray that need remediation. Mercury is always powerful when stationing and typically dominates the astrological discourse when it does; however, when Mercury stationed retrograde on July 26 it was overshadowed by Mars  being opposite the Sun at the heart of its retrograde phase, as well as the anticipation of a Total Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius climaxing the next day. Being in the middle of eclipses, with a partial solar eclipse in Leo coming on August 11, we can expect more than the usual amount of change in coming weeks. Mercury twinkling in the cooling of sunset, standing still by zodiacal degree, offers us the gift of potent awareness.

Of course, Mercury shifting retrograde really means that Mercury is passing in between our Earth and its orbit with the Sun. Since Mercury becomes closest to us in orbit when retrograde, the star of Hermes becomes a more dominant force to contend with amongst the daily transits. Though Mercury retrograde has taken on overly negative projections in popular culture that are false exagerrations, it is true that there is a cunning, elusive quality of Mercury that can be difficult for many to negotiate with. The star of Hermes becomes a crafty, artful leader in life when retrograde, with a wily and procreative quality that was deftly teased by Karl Kerenyi in the following passage:

With Hermes as leader in life- so the classical tradition teaches us- the world receives a special nuance, the Hermetic accent as we have become acquainted with it. This Hermetic aspect is thoroughly empirical, and it remains within the realm of a natural experience of the world. The sum total of pathways as Hermes’ playground; the accidental “falling into your lap” as the Hermetic material; its transformation through finding-thieving- the Hermetic event- into a Hermetic work of art, which is also always something of a tricky optical illusion, into wealth, love, poetry, and every sort of evasion from the restrictions and confinement imposed by laws, circumstances, destinies- how could these be mere psychic realities? They are the world and they are one world, namely, that world which Hermes opens to us.

The reality of the Hermes world proves at least the presence of a standpoint from which it is revealed; more than that, it testifies to something active that is not merely revealing itself from that standpoint, but that is ever again suddenly present and drives the world to give concrete expression to the Hermetic works of art and illusion. The source of this experience and configuration of the world … is Hermes himself. It must possess the complete Hermetic breadth, from the phallic to …  the guidance of souls, an activity that stretches even beyond life.

— Karl Kerenyi, Hermes: Guide of Souls

Though people often curse blunders, mistakes, and the falling apart of possessions linked in the mind with Mercury retrograde, its worth considering the realm opened by Mercury retrograde is not an anomaly but rather something already there, awaiting activation. Indeed, Mercury stations retrograde at least three times a year for three weeks or so, and so the guidance it offers when retrograde is intrinsic to its nature. It’s what makes Mercury, Mercury.  In fact when retrograde Mercury brings an amplified, penetrating focus to research, inner exploration, and the changing of habitual patterns.

Visually, Mercury transitions from being an Evening Star visible at sunset into an invisible phase in which it descends below the horizon, too close to the Sun to be seen. This oracular disappearance from light is called the heliacal setting of Mercury, and will occur on July 30. From this day until Mercury eventually reemerges again into visibility on August 19 as a Morning Star at dawn, Mercury will be taking on its underworld role as a guide of souls, or psychopomp. Mercury is less the fleet footed, super curious social networker in this phase, becoming more plodding, penetrative, intuitive, and facile with symbolic interpretation of the signs we encounter in life. As Marsilio Ficino wrote in Opera:

Mercury has the power to put souls to sleep or waken them with his staff; that is, in some way or another by putting himself into a certain shape, he can dull or sharpen the mind, or weaken or strengthen it, or upset or calm it.

The tricks of changing mind we can feel while Mercury is retrograde may feel frustrating, but if we can stand back and contemplate the bigger picture we will begin to sense an insight we actually needed to bring into our awareness. Dane Rudhyar in The Astrology of Transformation wrote that Mercury “gives mental formulation to the solar will,” seeking “to impersonalize and provide a conceptual foundation- a raison d’etre – for the often unclear (because emotional) urge the would-be individual experiences to live his or her own life.” With Mercury retrograde in the home of the Sun, during a time in which the Leo Sun will become partially eclipsed (August 11), and Mars retrograde will continue to deeply stir desires, the capacity of Mercury to help us discover a purpose within the tumult will be needed medicine.

crowning-39-calcinatio

from The Crowning of Nature

Though the world change swiftly / as the forms in clouds, / all perfected things fall back / to age-old ground.

Over what changes and passes, / wider and freer, / your deep song still hovers, / O god with the lyre.

Pain has not been understood, / love has not been learned,  / and what in death removes us

remains undisclosed. / Alone over the land / song hallows and heals.

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury retrograde in Leo is the second of three retrograde phases in fire signs we will experience in 2018. Previously we experienced Mercury retrograde in Aries from March 22 through April 15, and later in the year Mercury will station retrograde in Sagittarius on November 16. Within a year of regenerating our relationship with the fire signs (consider what houses the fire signs occupy in your chart and related topics), the retrograde of Mercury in Leo is not only at the dead center of the process, but occurs during the most volatile period in astrology this year.  As a result, Mercury retrograde can facilitate breaking down and releasing whatever aspects of our life need clearing to create more space for new growth to take root. The purgation that can come with this Mercury retrograde is amplified due to it occurring in Leo, the sign of the upcoming eclipse as well as the sign forming a polarity to Aquarius, the sign of the recent Lunar Eclipse and the place Mars is currently retrograde in.

One of the advantages Mercury retrograde periods bring is increased capacity to look at things from a new perspective, helping us gain insight toward old issues and realize what aspects of life need support and attention.  The combined influences of Mars retrograde with eclipses makes it more likely than normal that storylines are changing dramatically, and so the extra stirring provided by Mercury retrograde brings to mind the delight Mercury takes in the twist that moves the plot in a surprising direction and creates needed change. Thomas Moore in his book about the Italian Renaissance astrologer Marsilio Ficino brilliantly summarized Ficino’s perspective toward the protean imagination intermixed by Mercury:

Mercury reveals an inner realm of things without depriving them of their concreteness… The most common mode of interpretation, in some circles the only way, is to dissect and analyze, freezing the components of an insight into brittle pieces which are then easy to manipulate. But the crafty sleight-of-hand of Mercury interprets without killing, transforming our view of one image through another…  Since interpretation consists chiefly in discovering new images among the old, the surprise Mercury brings is a new image or a new idea, a gift from the cunning god who knows how to stir the soul…

In Mercury, words are like crystals whose facets are revealed in their turning, in the various perspectives brought upon them. Whatever keeps our ideas and fantasies turning and shifting, eluding our rational grasp and defying conclusive definition, is Mercurial. When we are the deft, interpretive, eloquent secretaries of our own actions and ideas, then we are Mercury; for then we interpret our own minds.

— Thomas Moore, Planets Within: the Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino

With Mercury retrograde in the fixed fire sign of Leo, opposite the sign of Aquarius where Mars is retrograde, we are journeying into the subconscious shadow of however we have been creatively self actualizing. Have we been holding back on going after what we want, or have we been taking on too much? What lies at the heart of our ambition, is it a need for attention or power? Or are we passionately in service to an ideal or message we wish to share with others, without need of extrinsic reward or recognition? What sacrifices on behalf of our ideals and community are we willing to make, and how will this impact our personal relationships? How much attention needs to be directed into our intimate relationships, personal space, and private creativity, rather than expressed through mediums into the collective?

In the end all of the challenges faced during Mercury retrograde in Leo will help us not only refine the vision we have of a healthy and fulfilling life, but begin enacting the modifications needed to rebalance whatever has been imbalanced. Whatever inauthentic patterns we have been engaging in will become obvious, opening the opportunity to separate from what we no longer want to engage, realigning in a direction resonant with our core values.

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Transfiguration of Thoth [Squaring the Circle] by Marlene Seven Bremner (2018)

Into the Heart

Here, among the vanishing, be, in the realm of decline  ⁄  be a ringing glass that shatters even as it rings.  ⁄  Be—and know as well the terms of nonbeing,  ⁄  the infinite ground of your inmost vibration,  ⁄  so that, this once, you may wholly fulfill them.

–Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury will be reborn through its union with the Sun on August 8 at 16º27′ Leo. At this moment of regeneration within Mercury’s synodic cycle, efforts made in contemplation can be rewarded with clarifying insight. Mercury within a degree of the Sun was described by the ancient astrologer Rhetorius the Egyptian as being in the heart of the Sun, and this became known as moment in which Mercury is seated upon the solar throne, strengthened in all things mercurial. Typically we get can get a boost with our Mercury work at this time, or powerful realizations through inner reflection, but overall this is a time to emerge with a purified perspective from all the putrefaction of mind we’ve been experiencing since Mercury stationed retrograde on July 26. This particular inferior conjunction of Mercury is especially powerful and volatile, due to it occurring in between eclipses with Uranus in Taurus stationing retrograde a day before on August 7, and Mercury applying to a square with Jupiter in Scorpio that will perfect a couple days later on August 10.

As Mercury is a mutable planet that takes on the qualities of its aspects in astrology, Mercury near the Sun in Leo likewise takes on the potent heating, drying, clarifying, and inspiring qualities of the Leo Sun. Yet the current Mercury retrograde finds it in the strange climate of eclipses occurring during the Sun’s time in Leo. More significantly, Mercury will unite with the Sun for its fiery rebirth only three days before the Sun is partially eclipsed by the Moon. The shadow that will partially fall across our great solar light is therefore transmitted directly by the quicksilver messenger, just as Mercury is at a “newborn” phase of its cycle more susceptible than normal to other influences.

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.” At the time of the inferior conjunction of Mercury, the Moon will be at home in Cancer within the closing, balsamic phase of its synodic cycle.  On August 10/11 the Moon will conjoin Mercury only six hours before the Moon then partially eclipses the Sun on August 11. This brings the regenerated Mercury into deep, stirring contact with whatever hidden material is emerging from the opening and closing of the eclipse gates, including the Total Lunar Eclipse of July 27.

As Mercury moves from 17º Leo where it unites with the Sun back to 12º Leo where it stations direct on August 18, Hermes will be playing its role of alchemical mystic with pleasure, diverting and then refocusing perception on a multiplicity of images and messages to help us sort through the insights revealed by the eclipses. An extra shift coming in the wake of the Leo Eclipse on August 11 will occur when Mars retrograde transitions from Aquarius into Capricorn on August 12. Mars retrograde leaving a whole sign opposition with Mercury retrograde will not make things easy all of a sudden, but it will lower the levels of volatility to a degree. With Mars retrograde in Capricorn while Mercury finishes the final week of its retrograde, we can begin taking action in accordance with whatever insights arose with the rebirth of Mercury.

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El Trovador by Remedios Varo

Mercury Stations Direct

And their feet move  /  Rhythmically, as tender  /  feet of Cretan girls  /  danced once around an  /  altar of love, crushing  /  a circle in the soft  /  smooth flowering grass

— Sappho, translated by Mary Barnard

Mercury stations direct on August 18 or 19, depending upon your time zone, at 11º32′ Leo. Not long after Mercury stations direct, we will also experience the heliacal rising of Mercury on August 19 when it becomes visible again at dawn as a Morning Star. Since ancient times in astrology this has been seen as an oracular moment of Mercury transmitting a message for us to receive. Fittingly for such an ancient spiritual context, Mercury will be stationing direct in Leo closely conjoining the North Node of Neptune.

The planetary nodes of Neptune began shifting back and forth from Cancer (North) and Capricorn (South) into Leo (North) and Aquarius (South) by the 10th century, but by the time of the 1100s they began stabilizing in Leo and Aquarius where they remain today. I was recently watching Joseph Campbell interviewed in The Power of Myth television series, and realized when he waxed poetic about the significance of the shift to the age of the troubadour that he was also speaking about the shift of the North Node of Neptune moving into Leo. Campbell said that the shift that came about in the age of the troubadour was monumental in terms of creating a human ideal for pursuing an authentic life rather than one dictated by the dogmatic authority of church, family, and culture. With the troubadours came the ideal of person to person love that continues into the modern era. Instead of conforming to the dictates of arranged marriage, the sway of the troubadours inspired the ideal of being seized by the soul’s counterpart in a romantic other. People became willing to risk literally burning in the fires of hell, as they were told they would do by authorities, in order to be with their beloved.

With Mercury stationing direct on the North Node of Neptune, the message we receive will involve an essence to embody in our creative actualization. We may feel inspired to sing a new song of heart centered inspiration. We will need to begin finding ways to work with the fecund creative potency emerging from within, integrating it into our identity and relationships. Sweetly, Venus will be at home in Libra and passing through a sextile with Mercury as our valiant messenger finally completes its underworld voyage. Moreover, not only Venus by sextile, but the Moon in Sagittarius by trine will be there to bolster reception of a new creative spirit as Mercury stations direct.

As Mercury resumes forward motion through zodiacal degrees again, Mars will begin stationing direct in Capricorn. Mercury reaches maximum elongation as a Morning Star on August 26 at 16 degrees of Leo, a point in its synodic cycle that Gary Caton in his book Hermetica Triptycha demarcated as an ending to the alchemical retrograde process of Mercury that began on July 11 when Mercury was at maximum elongation as an Evening Star at 17 degrees of Leo. Mars then stations direct two days later on August 28, and as Mars begins to generate some forward momentum, Mercury will leave the “shadow zone” of the degrees it formed its retrograde within on September 2 when it crosses over 24 degrees of Leo.

This means at the end of August we will be wrapping up both the Mercury and Mars retrograde periods, with awareness needed that we will still be dealing with the aftermath of Mars retrograde into October as it makes its way back toward the degree it originally stationed at. When we look back at these months in future years and decades, we are likely to remember it as a time of significant turning. Bear this in mind if things become overheated and rough, for you will have found new strength and realization on the other side of these transits. As a fragment of Sappho, who wrote in the 6th century B.C., still sings:

You may forget but

Let me tell you / that someone in / some future time / will think of us

-Sappho, translated by Mary Barnard

References

Barnard, Mary. (1958). Sappho: A New Translation. U of California 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.

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

Moore, Thomas. (1990). The Planets Within: the Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino. Lindisfarne Press.

Rilke, Rainer Maria. (2004). Sonnets to Orpheus translated by Edward Snow. North Point Press.

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

Total Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius

max ernst seen through a disposition

Max Ernst, Seen Through a Disposition

Blood Red Moon in Aquarius

Dissonance

(if you are interested)

leads to discovery

— William Carlos Williams

Total Lunar Eclipses are one of the most dramatic visual phenomenons in astrology, as the full light of the Moon becomes enveloped in blood red shadow. Within the space of the shadow’s sojourn, we sense the dragons of ancient lore awaken, wings rustling and eyes beaming. We feel red, the redness of pungent vitality penetrating whatever has felt stagnant, smelling of decay. We’ll feel the full strength of Mars during the Total Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius, moved by the red planet of indomitable courage and resilient creativity pulsating within. The shadow will nourish us through its martial heat to emerge from the shedding of old forms and identity into fuller embodiment of our nature.

Marsilio Ficino in his books on life described spirit as a subtle, hot vapor of the blood, writing that “blood serves the spirit, the spirit the senses, and finally the senses reason.” Spirits will be stirred as there is a wild, unrestrained quality to the eclipse that will burn off  the usual conscious attempts to keep deep rooted desires buried underneath the conditioned patterns we’ve felt bound by.  It will not feel so reasonable to suppress passions in order to fit in with status quo expectations, but rather unreasonable to hold back heartfelt expression. Yes, anger and conflict can get amplified at a scorching syzygy such as this, but so can feelings of liberation that prod us to finally take the actions necessary to reshape our role and rewrite our story.

Mars is opposite the Sun at the full phase of its synodic cycle, the heart of its retrograde journey in which it is closest to us in orbit and brightest red in the night sky. The glowing Mars will appear below the eclipsed Moon against the canopy of fixed stars, both aligned with the South Node of the Moon; meanwhile the Sun will be at home in Leo and united with the North Node of the Moon. We are called to make a sacrifice, to make sacred through releasing an old identity, fear, wound, pattern, ambition, or obsession into the flames of the Aquarius South Node. Growth will be found through being receptive to unconscious messages and guidance, while sustaining sharp discernment and clarifying awareness so that we do not become entangled in unnecessary conflict. Yet confrontation and mettle will be a necessity to engage with the potency of the eclipse. At times we will need to withdraw into protected contemplative space for reflection, at other times we will be required to act quickly and directly, bravely confronting whatever obstacles or dilemmas arise.

Uranus in Taurus is rocking the eclipse, making a direct strike that excessively accelerates the volatility: many collective crises will erupt, many will feel on edge or hyped up on strong stimulants. It’s not an eclipse for maintaining tight order and control. Things will be messy, hot and sweaty, dirty and fecund with germinating seeds signaling a future harvest or the falling apart of past security. If you feel passionate about working on a particular project, there is power available for engaging fully with the process while letting go of worrying about unreadiness. There’s also strong potency in the spaces of stillness where we can envision while focusing more on the release of old aspects of ourselves we are ready to lay to rest.

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Marlene Seven Bremner (2018) Fructus Mortis

Within all the tumultuous, rushing currents of the Aquarius eclipse within collective events, Hermes is sitting in stillness, consumed with penetrating thought.  Less than two days before the exact alignment of the Lunar Eclipse, Mercury is stationing retrograde at 24 degrees of Leo. Mercury remains a visible Evening Star during the time of the eclipse, having not yet descended into its invisible, underworld phase in which it plays the role of psychopomp. Mercury will be stationary as it emerges from the shifting hues of twilight for those in position to glimpse its fleeting presence, and similarly Mercury will be available to help decipher and digest the events and insights that align with the eclipse. When Mercury is stationing retrograde, it becomes even more important than normal to sustain keen awareness and sharp perception not only to the usual mundane affairs, but also to passing signs that may serve as omens of guidance.

Mercury in its retrograde phase in Leo will reach its illuminating rebirth moment of aligning with the Sun only a few days before a Partial Solar Eclipse in Leo on August 11.  The gift of this Mercury retrograde in Leo will be in helping to guide perception toward what needs greater awareness, whether that be an image in a dream or a detail in a work project. With regard to the retrograde loop pattern traced in the sky by the path of Mercury, there is a fascinating element in which it is happening in southern latitude relative to the ecliptic, similarly to how the Mars retrograde is also occurring in southern latitude.  The reason for this is that both the present Mercury and Mars retrograde phases are occurring in signs that form a square to their own planetary nodes.

I was lucky to see a wonderful talk by Michelle Gould at UAC entitled Planets at the Bending in which she theorized that planets at the southern bending may have gained a more fearful interpretation compared to the north in Mesopotamian astrology because Mesopotamian civilizations were often protected by mountains to the north and vulnerable to invasion from the south. In astrology there is a lineage of thought linking planets in southern latitude to our conscious personality becoming vulnerable to greater influence from the unconscious. Mercury retrograde periods are ideal for mediating the intersection between conscious and unconscious dynamics, and will be an important point of focus in coming weeks.

The influence of subconscious, irrational lunar forces are further amplified by the eclipsed Moon being out toward the far point of its orbit relative to Earth, and so not far from Black Moon Lilith. There’s an aspect of our nature we’ve been in denial of or have suppressed to uncover here. Sometimes we project this material and identity on to others we end up becoming triggered by, but normally once we begin the process of accepting and integrating this aspect of ourselves we are able to not only feel more whole, but our life trajectory also tends to shift into greater flow with opportunities in life appearing to embody the new found presence.

Paul Klee gaze of silence

Paul Klee, Gaze of Silence

Venus in Virgo is separating from an opposition with Neptune and applying toward a close trine with Pluto in Capricorn during the eclipse. As a result Venus is playing an important mediating role behind the scenes of the eclipse in placing us in deeper contact with soulful feelings through our inner senses. Venus in Virgo has been stirring up a lot of material for us through relationships, and with all of the retrograde action some of this material could relate to the realm of memory and the stories held within of past relationships in addition to current. Venus moving from Neptune to Pluto can reveal how we have given our power away in the past through relationship, how we have felt abandoned or betrayed by those we have trusted, and how we can come to acceptance with how all of this has impacted our present state and the way we interact with others.

Though some material arising within may feel uncomfortable and difficult to face, ultimately Venus is in a position of empowerment. The trine from Pluto in Capricorn to Venus in Virgo within the dissolution of Neptune can foster the softening of old, stubborn patterns that have weighed us down like heavy rocks of burden. Venus is in the home of Mercury which is the reason it is considered to be in “fall” in Virgo, yet with Mercury stationing retrograde at the eclipse there is potent analytical force available for Venus to bring to our inner depths.

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Emblem 3 from Atalanta Fugiens by Michael Maier

Mars being opposite the Sun within a day before the exact alignment of the Total Lunar Eclipse means the red planet is entering the most “hot and dry” phase of its synodic cycle. As Mars is already considered to be at an extreme of heat and dryness, in the aftermath of the eclipse we will need to focus on how to most effectively separate ourselves from the situations that no longer feel tolerable for us. Some may feel like “burning the house down,” so keep in mind how to best make changes in ways that will not unnecessarily exacerbate conflicts.

The above image from Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens shows a woman cleansing clothes soiled by the dirt of earth through the other elements: the soaking in water raised to high heat from fire, with the ensuing exposure to air and the heat of the Sun completing the purification. She is a worthy image of the Water Bearer holding the space of Mars retrograde, the South Node of the Moon, and the Total Lunar Eclipse. As the text of the Atalanta Fugiens states, “whatever faeces or Crudities are in [the Philosophick Subject] will be purged and taken away by the infusion of its proper Waters, and the whole body will be brought to a great perfection and cleanness.” We are working here with what the Rosarium Philosophorum called the “Philosophic Fire” and “Philosophic Water.” We can also see in the image the woman is wielding a variety of materials in order to stoke a variety of heat for the process.

It may be helpful to work with a similar image of cleansing and purification with whatever material comes up in correspondence with the Total Lunar Eclipse. Allow yourself to work with the material, to heat and soak it, and expose it to air and solar heat for further treatment. Astrological events such as this Aquarius Lunar Eclipse signify change and a greater capacity to rewrite our life narratives and change the course of our coming life in a more authentic direction. It doesn’t mean the process will be easy and pleasant, but it does mean a great reward may be found in the end through doing the work.

5 of Swords

5 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Aquarius 1 Decan

The blood red shadow arises across the face of the full Moon in the first decan of Aquarius, associated with the Five of Swords card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image of the 5 of Swords card illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith, we see a swordsman pridefully watching his conquered rivals walk away, leaving him solitary in a freshly cleared domain. Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces noted that Aquarius I “is a face of exclusion and intentional exile,” and that a lot of images in older texts “depict the difficulties of living on the margins, on the outside” (p. 226).  Coppock linked the meaning of this card to the independence, liberation, and “wider and deeper understanding of reality” to be found through breaking free from the orthodox of one’s time and accepting “the mark of the heretic” if necessary (p. 227). In this way, the image of the 5 of Swords card above shows how many relationships become sacrificed when one goes into exile away from societal norms, though also bringing the potential that new relationships will arise in alignment with the liberated sense of Self.

The Hellenistic text the 36 Airs described the goddess of justice Dike as inhabiting the first face of Aquarius. Coppock in 36 Faces linked Dike appearing here with “the abandonment of relationships which do not live up to Lady Justice’s high standards,” an idea which makes sense. Fittingly, the two rulers of the first decan of Aquarius are Venus (descending order) and Saturn (triplicity order), signifying the boundaries of relationship. While we may feel like severing certain relationships as we pass through the shadow of the eclipsed Moon, the real gift offered here is awareness of what ideals, ethics, and values are important for us to embody with integrity as well as have present in the bonds of relationship we form with others. The more we gain awareness of these qualities and most importantly hold ourselves accountable to living from them, the more likely we will also experience a deeper resonance with these values within our relationships. It will be important to not waste energy projecting judgment toward “scape goats” we judge as being out of alignment with our values, but instead draw upon our full reservoir of energy to create with integrity a life more resonant with the discovered essentiality.

References

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