Aegis of Isis (Copper alloy ca. 900 – 600 B.C., Egypt)
On April 28, 2015 the Isis and Osiris asteroids conjunct at 6° Leo
Previously on March 2, 2013, Isis and Osiris were conjunct at 11° Aquarius
In June 2011, Isis and Osiris were conjunct at 12° Leo
In April 2009, Isis and Osiris were conjunct at 13° Aquarius
In August 2007, Isis and Osiris were conjunct at 21° Leo
In August 2005, Isis and Osiris were conjunct at 23° Capricorn
In October 2003, Isis and Osiris were conjunct at 0° Virgo
In October 2001, Isis and Osiris were conjunct at 14° Capricorn
In December 1999, Isis and Osiris were conjunct at 7° Virgo
In December 1997, Isis and Osiris were conjunct at 18° Capricorn
In May 1996, Isis and Osiris were conjunct at 16° Leo
In January 1994, Isis and Osiris were conjunct at 22° Capricorn
The next conjunction of the Osiris and Isis asteroids will be on January 27, 2017 at 8° Aquarius
On April 28, 2015 we experienced a union of the asteroids named Isis (#42) and Osiris (#1923). Since their last conjunction at the beginning of March 2013, I have been working with a theory that each time the Isis and Osiris asteroids join we experience a resurrection of their archetypal themes in our lives. In particular, I have been theorizing that their conjunction could connect on an archetypal level with the moment of myth in which Isis melds the dismembered body of Osiris back together, fashioning him a new phallus she thereby inserts inside herself in an act of sexual magic that leads to the birth of Horus. Along these lines, there could theoretically be an impact of re-animating the Osiris archetype in our collective at the time of their conjunction.
Following their previous conjunction in March 2013, I wrote articles about the Osiris and Isis asteroids you can read here: (1) Osiris: Alchemic Archetype, and (2) Isis: Archetype of Love and Devotion. My aim in this article is to return to these archetypes and explore how this new phase between the Isis and Osiris asteroids fits within our current astrological transits and chaotic current events.
Isis with her wings around Osiris, from Temple of Isis, Philae, Egypt
Some say Osiris and Isis fell in love in the womb of Nut, the Egyptian Night Sky Goddess, twin lovers who were born from the mating of Sky (Nut) and Earth (Geb). Nut and Geb also gave birth to two other siblings, Set and Nephtys, and these four siblings grew up within epic drama. Osiris was a fertile Nile River god who ruled as pharaoh with Isis (whose name meant “throne”) as his mate, a goddess of magic and nature. There are different versions of their story, but common to the plots is the characterization of Set as being jealous of Osiris and hungry for his seat of power. In some versions Set’s anger is intensified when his wife Nephtys seduces Osiris by disguising herself as Isis, giving birth to the jackal-headed Anubis from their mating.
The pivotal turn of the plot comes when Set tricks Osiris into climbing into a coffin which he then seals and sends down the Nile River in order to claim the rulership of Osiris for himself. After Isis searches for and finds the coffin holding Osiris in a journey that contains parallels to the myth of Demeter searching for her daughter Persephone, Set steals it and cuts the body of Osiris into fourteen pieces. Isis responds by transforming herself into a winged kite and flying to retrieve all of the missing fragments of her lover’s body except for his phallus. While there are different versions describing how Isis restores her husband’s sex organ, including one in which Thoth retrieves it for her from a fish, in all versions Isis manages to completely reassemble and reanimate Osiris long enough to make love to him and become impregnated with their offspring Horus. Ultimately, Osiris descends to the underworld and resurrects himself as the ruler and healer of souls of the dead.
There are themes of Taurus and Scorpio in the story of Osiris and Isis, as the Venusian love of Isis (Taurus) brings her lover Osiris back from death (Scorpio), transforming his fertile earth rulership (Taurus) into the realm of Soul and Spirit (Scorpio). Fittingly, this new conjunction between Isis and Osiris fell within the lunar cycle of a waxing Moon ripening toward a Full Moon in Scorpio in the coming days ahead. In the polarity between the fixed, potent signs of Taurus and Scorpio we feel the full spectrum of what it means to be Soul incarnated in the flesh of our human bodies and mind. In the week leading up to the recent conjunction between Osiris and Isis and in the week since, current events such as the devastating earthquake in Nepal and the riotous protests in Baltimore have been collective points of focus that have been both gut wrenching and heart opening. In moments of collective trauma, especially now with the widespread access to images and information through social media, the hearts of humanity can become united to a greater extent. This is true even in polarizing events such as the riots in Baltimore that provoke intense arguments between divergent perspectives. The story of Isis and Osiris holds the intensity of their love that can weave together the most disparate of parts, and heal the dismembered and fractured parts of our being. In the astrological wake of the seventh square between Pluto and Uranus, and the Libra Lunar Eclipse on April 4 that re-activated it, we have all had core emotions and issues stirred up to work through with love.
Isis (2013) by Yaroslav Gerzhedovich
Isis is a synthesizer of love and wisdom from our experiences, and by transit and aspect in our natal chart the Isis asteroid (#42) signifies unity, loyalty, devotion, sustaining, reassembling, resurrection, soul retrieval, healing of fragmentation, and finding wholeness of Self in relation with the Other. Unlike her son Horus who wanted to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Set, Isis did not attempt to destroy Set but rather through love transcended their conflict, reuniting with her lover Osiris and propelling him into a deeper realm of power as the judge of the dead in the underworld.
There are many authors who have interpreted the story of Isis and Osiris through a depth psychology perspective, and in the alchemical work of Carl Jung the goddess Isis has been linked with the Prima Materia of alchemy. As the Prima Materia is a primal, formless Source of all matter containing All, in a similar way through time Isis became a goddess who unified many goddesses from diverse cultures into herself. At one point, she was depicted as the wife of the pharaoh with the hieroglyph for a throne on her head, but eventually became merged with the goddess Hathor as she also became a mother depicted with the cow horns and solar disk of Hathor on her head. As the figure of Osiris gained prominence, her mythic story also shifted to incorporate him, and their story became an important mystery ritual for ages. Moreover, following the traumatic invasion of Alexander the Great through the region, a figure whose conquests linked ancient teachings from Greece through Egypt, Babylonia, and India, Isis continued to synthesize and merge with other cultures, becoming associated with Aphrodite, Demeter, and many other goddesses and known as the Queen of Heaven.
The daughter of Night (Nut) and Earth (Geb), Isis has been commonly connected to the sign of Virgo in astrology. The Virgo rulership of Mercury is interesting to ponder in association with Isis, as Mercury can move between the upper world and underworld and weave a web of connections between seemingly disparate points of focus. Virgo also has an archetypal link with Isis through it’s polarity with Pisces, as Isis is a mythic figure who embodies the ability to integrate the detailed practical magic of Virgo with the expansive love and compassion of Pisces that flows in search of ultimate understanding. We can also find themes of Virgo and Pisces in the form of the winged kite that Isis transforms into when searching for her dismembered beloved:
Kites have symbolic association with the underworld and psychic regeneration similar to Isis, as red kites often feed on dead animals in addition to the smaller mammals that they hunt. In this way they provide a service to humans and their environment by helping to dispose of the dead that could otherwise rot, and they do so with a graceful flight that is an apt image for the times we can flow within the polarity between Virgo and Pisces. Transformed into a winged kite in search of the fragmented pieces of Osiris, Isis draws upon the detailed discernment of Virgo to not only find all of him but to also magically reanimate him through a Piscean act of love. For these reasons Isis has also been linked to both the Virgin Mary as well as Mary Magdalene and their love for Jesus, another story with strong Virgo-Pisces themes.
With the recent conjunction of Isis with Osiris occurring in Leo, we receive guidance that courage and loyalty will be of vital importance in our journey ahead, loyalty to the pursuit of our own creative actualization in the face of societal limitations and oppressive conditions. Isis does not call for us to be perfect, but rather to embrace our flawed humanity and live from as authentic a place as possible, full of love for the life we are living and the beloved we hold dear to our hearts.
The Osiris archetype involves themes of becoming, fertility, regeneration, individuation, destruction, death, and rebirth. Aspects by transit or in the natal chart with the Osiris asteroid (#1923) can also connect to places we have been wounded by societal conditioning and where we need to explore and transform ourselves. Approaching the archetype of Osiris brings us into our vast collective unconscious, as he has served as a nature god of fertility, a ruler of kingdoms, and the lord of the underworld who judges and heals the soul of the dead. As Neptune is an astrological signifier of our collective unconscious, it is fascinating to note that the recent conjunctions of the Isis and Osiris asteroids have fallen conjunct either side of the nodes of Neptune. The South Node of Neptune is around 11° of Aquarius, and the Osiris-Isis conjunction was at or near this degree in March 2013, April 2009, and will be again in January 2017. The North Node of Neptune is around 11° Leo, and the Osiris-Isis conjunction was near this degree in June 2011 and the current conjunction this past week was about five degrees away. In addition, with the upcoming Full Moon in Scorpio being in trine to transiting Neptune in Pisces, there is a significant Neptunian potential within the recently past and freshly begun cycles between the Isis and Osiris asteroids.
A clue to what this could mean exactly is found in the book Embodying Osiris: The Secrets of Alchemical Transformation, in which Dr. Thom Cavalli interpreted the Osiris story through an alchemical Jungian lens and connected Osiris to the Prima Materia just as other authors have connected Isis:
Osiris is a model of submission. He allows all the terrors that befall him to occur, just as the prima materia endures the tortures of the laboratory. Such deliberate sacrifice is meant to serve as a model for personal individuation. It justifies all the pain we daily suffer in order to transcend this world and leave it wiser and more enlightened. Submission and trust in this process allow love to enter the vessel. We are then embraced by the Mother and taken into her arms. Her only aim is that we bring something new and unique into the world. (p. 205)
Osiris has strong association with Scorpio and Taurus through gaining mastery of unconscious forces (Scorpio) that can be utilized as an inner resource (Taurus). As Dr. Cavalli wrote, “Osiris, then, is the archetypal energy activating the unconscious so that it is not only a repository of memory, but also an incredible resource in everyday life” (p.41). With the upcoming Full Moon in Scorpio being in square to Jupiter in Leo, and the new cycle between Isis and Osiris also beginning in Leo in range of a wide square to the Scorpio Full Moon, we can viscerally feel the difficulty of our path at this time and how we can feel dismembered at times by experiences of trauma and oppressive aspects of society that can condition us if we do not consciously resist them.
Yet there is Light to lead us courageously forward on our path within our conscious ego and unconscious, if only we keep faith to find and receive it. This golden navigating ability is found within our own darkness and shadow. As Dr. Cavalli wrote in Embodying Osiris, “From time immemorial there have been taboos to keep one from discovering this divine inner light, for unless we are ready to receive it we will either misuse this sacred light or destroy ourselves” (p. 101). This brings up the archetype of Scorpio the Full Moon will be illuminating in a few days, and how we can find our true authenticity through the testing of taboos and boundaries of our surrounding culture no matter the temporary shaming by others it may bring. When our passionate Leo desires help us breakthrough the rigidity of Taurus to change and merging, we can develop our inner Scorpio capacity of how to use and merge resources with other for the greater collective benefit. Through the Pisces surrender of transiting Neptune and the Capricorn responsibility of transiting Pluto, we can flow with the changes occurring around us while standing firm within our sense of essential nature. We can then liberate ourselves from the aspects of societal condition that go against our authenticity, not out of action that breaks cultural taboos for the sake of rebellion only, but rather for the sake of making clear choices that align with our personal truth.
Horus in relief block from building of Amenemhat I (ca. 1981 – 1952 B.C.) in Egypt
When we additionally bring in the figure of Horus who was born from the love between Isis and Osiris, we integrate another elemental theme: justice. Among other significations, justice will be an essential theme of Saturn’s transit through Sagittarius, and the complex ripples of effect that are created from choices to seek vengeance out of a sense of personal or collective justice. As Sherman Alexie wrote in his novel Flight, “Is revenge a circle inside of a circle inside of a circle?” The more we look into the conflicts surrounding us in our collective, the more we can see perpetuating cycles of wrongs being attempted to be made right. Horus is the child of Isis and Osiris and the restorer of justice for Osiris, focused on avenging his father through removing Set from power. In Embodying Osiris: The Secrets of Alchemical Transformation, Dr. Thom Cavalli portrayed Horus as a liberator of humankind’s individuality in the face of collective conditioning, “representing the incorporation of inner values and with it, an individuation process that perfects the uncivilized shadow that dwells within each of us” (p. 185). As Osiris ultimately judged the souls of the dead in balance with the feather of Ma’at, Dr. Cavalli wrote that this desired quality of ma’a-kheru that can be translated as “true of voice” can also be applied to individuals such as Horus who come to terms with “their own heart rather than merely giving blind obedience to the state” (p. 185).
Fascinatingly, the Horus asteroid (#1924) has been transiting conjunct Venus in Gemini this week during the initiation of a new phase between the Isis and Osiris asteroids. As transiting Venus is the ruler of the transiting North Node of the Moon in Libra, and Pluto retrograde in Capricorn is still within range of a square to the lunar nodes, there is an evolutionary potential for each of us to gain a greater sense of our true heart and voice within the societal dynamics surrounding us. In this way whatever has been frustrating as an obstacle or limitation, or even as an oppressive source of suffering, can be seen in another way as a force demanding that we speak and embody our truth.
Cavalli, Thom. (2010). Embodying Osiris: the Secrets of Alchemical Transformation. Quest Books.
In February 2015 the asteroids Psyche (#16) and Eros (#433) will be conjunct Venus and Mars.
From February 6 through February 20, 2015, Psyche and Eros will be conjunct Venus and Mars in Pisces.
February 17, 2015: Psyche and Eros are conjunct at 23 degrees of Pisces. Venus will be at 26° Pisces and Mars will be at 28° Pisces at this time.
February 18, 2015: in between the beginning of new cycles between first Psyche and Eros and then Venus and Mars, there will be a New Moon at the final degree of Aquarius with Mercury in Aquarius sextile Saturn in Sagittarius.
On February 20, 2015 by the light of a sliver moon, Venus and Mars will be together in the Sunset sky near the crescent light
February 21, 2015: Venus and Mars will be conjunct and beginning a new cycle at 1° Aries. Psyche will be at 25° Pisces and Eros will be at 26° Pisces.
When in love, when under waves of desire whether erotic or otherwise, when struck with the pang of separation and unfulfilled desire, experience intensifies and we can feel the full fabric of soul within and surrounding us. It can be easy to cynically dismiss the true love of fairy tales or scoff at the romantic excess of Valentine’s Day, yet there truly is nothing like Love and the full spectrum of associated emotions that can make us feel alive, one with the stars above and earth below, and Whole. Currently there is an intense Dark Moon in Capricorn and Aquarius that leads to a New Moon at the final degree of Aquarius on February 18. This lunar clearing to prepare for a new cycle mirrors current balsamic cycles between Venus and Mars and the asteroids Psyche and Eros that are occurring at the same time in the final decan of Pisces. Psyche and Eros being conjunct simultaneously in the same section of the zodiac as Venus and Mars amplifies a time of re-seeding our relational desires and the vision we each hold for the relationships we wish to exist within.
In the story of Eros and Psyche we explore their sacred union and the path to becoming whole through love, as well as the journey of Psyche from mortality to divinity. Just as we associate Eros with desire and Psyche with soul in modern language, the tale of Psyche’s merging with Eros reveals how pursuit of our desires can ultimately bring us to a union with our soul. According to Demetra George, a pioneer in the use of asteroids in astrology, Psyche is a higher octave of Venus and Eros is a higher octave of Mars. As a result it is incredible synchronicity that as Venus and Mars are now closing their cycle that began in April of 2013, Psyche and Eros are also closing and beginning a new cycle in the same sign of Pisces. The connection with Pisces is further augmented by the mythic connection between Venus and Cupid, also known as Eros, and the constellation of Pisces. The Greeks and Romans saw the two fish of Pisces as representing the escape of Venus and her son Cupid from the monster Typhon by transforming themselves into fish that could swim safely away. Both Greek and Roman tradition eventually saw Venus/Aphrodite as the mother of Eros/Cupid by way of her lover Mars. Yet in older Greek tradition, Eros was seen as one of the primordial manifestations of form in the story of Creation who was beyond gender divisions. In this way Eros has always been seen as an actively direct, progenitive force that is at the root of creation, and eventually as a result was connected with the masculine energy that seeds new birth in the receiving feminine.
Cupid and Psyche (1794) by Antonio Canova
Within the ascending Psyche, rooted in human matter, merging with the descending Eros, connected to heavenly light, we find a true soul communion. According to Demetra George, the Psyche asteroid illuminates our capacity to be sensitive on a psychic level to an Other and is about our desire for a soul mate, a union with a lover under the guidance of divine energy through the path of conscious relationship. Yet Psyche is not only about a spiritual and sexual union with an Other, but also can be about a union within the Self. Through Psyche, erotic energy is akin to the procreative life force when we are swept away in our body by bonding with a lover or other desire. In this way Eros is the primal, procreative force of our passion that underlies our vision and desires, as well as indicates our sexual attractions and vitality.
I do not want to take up the space here going into the plot of Psyche and Eros in detail, but I did previously write about their story last year during the Venus retrograde in Capricorn. If you want to know their story, I recommend reading the distilled summary and deep analysis of the Psyche and Eros myth found on the Symbol Reader blog, lovingly told in three parts: beginning, middle, and end. The essential information is that Psyche was born as a beautiful princess who received so much admiration that she aroused the jealousy of Aphrodite/Venus. Determined to remove this threat to her status as the goddess of love and beauty, Venus ordered her son Eros/Cupid to prick Psyche with one of his arrows to make her fall in love with an abominable monster. However, Eros instead fell in love with Psyche and intervened so that Psyche ultimately found her way into his secure, secretive, and sensually luxurious palace where he lustfully merged with her in dark abandon. A plot detail that echoes the current balsamic conjunction of Venus and Mars in Pisces is that after Psyche’s father consulted an oracle and was told that she was destined to marry a monster who aroused fear in even Zeus himself, Psyche’s father coordinated a ritual sacrifice for her that was at the same time like a funerary rite and a giving away to marriage. This intersection between death and burial, marriage and a new beginning, is resonant with the current close of the past two year cycle of Venus and Mars that will give way to a new cycle between these archetypes of love and desire.
Psyche with the Lamp by Max Klinger
There are those who analyze a lack of perspicacity in Psyche through intellectual interpretation of the myth, yet who has not been under the throes of cloistered, secretive passions felt in the dark of night where clarity is not even a potential. Psyche in the end brings the full light of conscious awareness to her union with Eros after her sisters warn her that she could be sleeping with a serpentine monster. Once Psyche brings fire to light her vision of Eros, falling even further in love with him in the process, her story suddenly shifts in a radical direction not unlike a Uranus transit or the impact of the current square between Pluto and Uranus we are experiencing in astrology. This shift begins by the wound caused by burning lamp oil on Eros that provokes him to flee from his lover, in part because of his secret being unveiled.
As we have been experiencing the close of the cycle between Venus and Mars in Pisces, similar to Psyche in the palace of Eros we may have felt burning desire more so than clarified realization. The balsamic phase is a time of re-visioning in which premonitions of our coming vision enter our field of awareness without full consciousness of how or when it will manifest. Simultaneously the balsamic phase is a period of releasing past patterns and relationships, a letting go to make space for the new. Our attractions can be on a more primal and unconscious level, and as we had a Mercury retrograde ending less than a week ago, numerous images of past relationships we now wish to release could have been circulating within the same space as images of the new relationships we now want from our current presence. The upcoming New Moon on February 18 features a Mercury moving direct that is in sextile to a Saturn that is still direct, and so we will have greater capacity to clarify with the light of consciousness the passions we have felt in the dark.
In the story of Psyche and Eros, once Psyche has lit her perception of the truth that she has fallen in love with the divine Eros, his ensuing separation from her pulls her into a Heroine’s Journey of numerous trials and tribulations that take her to the extremity of the Underworld and back. Through her yearning for love’s embrace and the pain of separation in space from it, Psyche opens her psychic field to the soul of the world around her and the potential to unite her personality with her own soul.
Pan comforting Psyche by Max Klinger
In the wake of her separation from Eros, Psyche leapt with desperation into a river, ready to surrender her suffering and release herself from control of her life. Yet in a foreshadowing of natural intervention, the flowing water protects her from ending her life and delivers her to the shore and the goat hooves of the wild nature god Pan. Pan lends Psyche his full sympathy, inspiring her to follow her love toward Eros instead of giving up her life in defeat. So begins the solitary quest of Psyche that has served as an allegory for the necessity of finding and uniting with our Self before we are able to fully enjoy and sustain a soulful union with our beloved. Pan is a different mythic figure than Chiron, yet shares the similarity of integrating human and animal parts in his unified form. As a result I feel this crossroad of the story resonates with the astrology we began February 2015 with, when there was a conjunction between Chiron in Pisces with Psyche, Eros, and Mars, and by the end of the first week of February, Venus had also entered into a conjunction with Chiron.
After realizing that Psyche is determined to reunite with Eros, Aphrodite begins giving her a series of seemingly impossible tasks to complete. However, in each one Psyche succeeds through her openness to nature and her ability to communicate and listen to the soul of her environment. Ants, reeds, an eagle, and a man-made tower all communicate with Psyche and come to her aid at pivotal points in her tests. Psyche’s psychic empathy is her heroic strength, and similarly we can utilize the recent transits of Venus and Mars with Chiron in Pisces to draw from our own unique gifts in pursuit of our desire, while listening intently to messages from our surrounding environment to help us find the the unique solution to each dilemma we face. The recent transits to Chiron may have intensified our experience, yet this heightened magnification has demanded an enhancement in our ability to respond with the focus necessary to ultimately manifest our desired outcome.
Psyche on the Cliff by Max Klinger
Although Psyche manages to succeed in her initial tests, Psyche feels the full force of a dark night of her soul while literally peering over a perilous cliff into the deathly water of the River Styx. The great strength of Psyche is that she bravely feels all of her emotions and does not shirk from her suffering or attempt to deny it, distract herself from it, or numb it. She feels all of the torment of being separated from her Eros, and the magnetism of her emotive vibration time after time inspires the sympathy of elements in her environment that come to her aid and ensure her survival and success.
Indeed, each hardship and challenge faced by Psyche ennobles her character to such an extent that she is able to follow the pathless path into the Underworld in order to appease Aphrodite’s demand of a sampling of Persephone’s beauty ointment. Psyche wins the favor of the Queen of the spirit world, as Persephone presents Psyche with a share of her restorative beauty balm. Miraculously, Psyche manages to re-ascend to the upper world and it is at this point that she decides she will no longer surrender to the directive demands of Aphrodite. Although Psyche had been warned that applying Persephone’s beauty ointment to herself will result in death, Psyche chooses to apply the magical medicine anyway. Whether this was an act attempting to make herself more attractive to Eros, or a consequence of an emboldened sense of Self, the beauty ointment of Persephone leads to the resurrection of her union with Eros and transformation into divine presence. This is because after the application of the ointment causes Psyche to fall into a death-like sleep, Eros becomes incapable of restraining himself any longer and soars to embrace Psyche in his arms, pressing his lips against her lips and in the mingling of his breath within her awakens her with his true love’s kiss. Their marriage and ascension of Psyche from mortal to goddess follows, and from their union a beautiful daughter is born from the womb of Psyche, in Greek known as Hedone and in Roman known as Voluptas, both words meaning “Pleasure.”
Eros finds Psyche by Max Klinger
The sign of Pisces is an appropriate place to hold all of the archetypal drama of Psyche and Eros, Venus and Mars. In Pisces we find a yearning for eternal, ultimate meaning and a surrendering to the ineffable bliss of love. The deep waters of Pisces reflect images imbibed with symbolism connected to the world of myth and the source of the collective unconscious. Notice and be present for what has been arising within your deepest recesses, and what aspects of your past patterns and relationships no longer link with your personal truth. It is helpful to realize the current cycle of Venus and Mars closing now began on April 6, 2013 at twenty degrees of Aries, and so relationship issues since that time are especially poignant to reflect upon and release what feels pertinent to clear. We are at a time to both let go of the past and to set intentions and invitations in place to welcome our new presence in relationship. If it feels deeply connected to us on a soul level, it is time to focus on it moving forward with full presence. If it seems more like a pattern we have picked up through collective conditioning in one way or another, whether it be from media exposure, family influence, or consensus societal beliefs, if it is not rooted to our deep nature then it is time to release it. There is more than enough pain and suffering going around and around our planet these days for all of us: like a determined Psyche, stay centered on the desires that will bring you joy, fulfillment, and affirmation.
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
— W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939
Psyche and Eros by Max Klinger
George, Demetra with Bloch, Douglas. (1986). Asteroid Goddesses. ACS.
The Inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun on October 16, 2014 is in the sign of Libra and conjunct Venus, evoking Maat through the added atmosphere of the Goddess (Venus) and the Scales (Libra) of Balance, Law, and Justice. In Egyptian mythology, the god Thoth is associated with Mercury, and Maat is the goddess corresponding to Thoth, the beloved daughter of the sun god Ra who undertook the work of creation along with Thoth. There were only two deities who stood on either side of the boat of Ra: Thoth and Maat, and Maat’s presence was intrinsic to the daily regeneration of Ra, the Sun. Maat wore an ostrich feather in her hair, the feather a symbol of “maat,” an ineffable word that had associations with genuineness, authenticity, truth, and being “real.” This being a time of Mercury retrograde, and Mercury being the trickster transgressor of boundaries, we also want to be aware of how the additional link between Maat and concepts like righteousness and unalterable morality can trick us at times into thinking that we are in the right, when in actuality we have not deeply explored ourselves to the necessary extent to truly understand our truth.
The inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun is a magic moment of soul, and the center of the Mercury retrograde cycle we are experiencing from Scorpio to Libra and back to Scorpio again. This “inferior” conjunction of Mercury is like an “interior” alignment of Mercury with the Sun from our perspective on Earth, as Mercury appears to move in reverse into the Sun in between our orbit and the great light of our solar system. This is a moment in which Hermes transmits a message from Spirit to us, as Mercury’s orbit is much closer to the Sun than our orbit on Earth. We can center at this time as we release old thought patterns, making space for the arising new vision of our life. This can be a disorienting time, so the symbol of Mercury being in Libra at this time is an apt guide, as we will want to find our focal point of balance in the flow around us. This is a point of conception to generate what we will birth from our minds in the forthcoming cycle, and we want to keep in mind that Mercury at this point in its retrograde cycle is inwardly directed and more subjectively susceptible to sensing the symbols surrounding us than at other times. As Venus in Libra and Mercury in Libra are moving toward one another, only a couple degrees apart at the time of the inferior conjunction, reaching their own conjunction a day later, this is also an opportune time to center within our authentic values, releasing what is false in order to embrace our burgeoning truth.
Maat was involved in the judgment of souls, the weighing of hearts at the time of death, as the hearts of the dead were placed on a scale to be balanced with the feather of Maat. The goal was to have Maat in your heart, to balance the scales and reveal that your voice was true, genuine, and justified. Now is the time to go within our unconscious, our dream time, our place of centering, so that we can re-emerge into the bustling world from a more authentic place, acting from and speaking our truth.
IV of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith
The inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun will be in the Libra III decan, a decan associated with the 4 of Swords in tarot. In the image above created by Pamela Colman Smith for the A.E. Waite deck, we can see what looks to be a tomb with a statue of a knight in prayer, under a stained glass window of “PAX” or “peace.” This image also evokes a pilgrim in meditative silence within a protected, sacred space, and likewise it can help us find our own balance at this time if we can manage to create our own space, or journey somewhere we can find solace in silence. Since we are in a time of Mercury retrograde, we also can integrate the duality within this image, the concept of peace that necessitates the concept of conflict, the pilgrim/knight in prayer surrounded by swords. Within the balance of these dualities, we can sense how his positioning is like a re-balancing of the chakras and re-integration of our body and mind, and the sword below him is a tool to be used to cut away the false and inessential in order to reveal our essential and genuine presence that can emerge now. It also connects to the judgment of Maat at our time of death, the weighing of our heart to reveal if we lived a life in accordance with our soul or not.
In 36 Faces Austin Coppock described Libra III as a decan that “allows one to see through the eye of the storm” through equilibration of movement:
Its secret resides in the eye of the storm, calm and clear as the chaos of desire and fear whirl all about . . . The principle of justice or balance is thus applied constantly to a lop-sided world, one interaction at a time. Those who enact this formula successfully emanate an aura of order and are themselves a walking corrective . . . The power of this face is to equilibrate unbalanced forces as they are encountered, and to maintain connection to the unmoved center. It offers the formulae by which equipoise may be maintained in any circumstance- shelter in any storm. (p. 168-70)
Scarab inscribed Daughter of Re, with Winged Maat; 1479 – 1458 BC; Upper Egypt; Dynasty 18, early; Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Hatshepsut; Metropolitan Museum of Art
Lastly, as we remember the connection between Libra and relationships, the Moon in Leo being conjunct Juno in Leo at the time of the inferior conjunction gives added weight to our relationships being a primal source of lessons for us now. It may be through our intimate relationships as well as our more ephemeral interactions that we come to important realizations that will help us to release old thought forms in preparation for the new. I am reminded of this passage I admire from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, in which the main character realizes the gap of understanding between him and his wife of over six years:
Is it possible, finally, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?
We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close are we able to come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?
I started thinking seriously about such things a week after I quit my job at the law firm. Never until then- never in the whole course of my life- had I grappled with questions like this. And why not? Probably because my hands had been full just living. I had simply been too busy to think about myself. (p. 24)
No matter how busy we are, this is a time necessitating deep reflection in order to reap the reward of realization available. This does not mean it will be easy- going into the underworld realm never is, but it has always been the mythic figures consumed with great love and desire for their beloved, like Psyche, Isis, Dionysus, Orpheus, and Persephone, who survive and give birth to new vision from a new sense of self. We can make a sacred oath and contract with ourselves at this time, to clear what needs clearing and to courageously embody our deepest desires. By doing this work within and nurturing our own needs, we will be able to listen with greater clarity to the needs of others. There may be hard truths to recognize about ourselves, attachments we have clung to for years that must be let go, but in the end our lives and the lives of the people we are in relationship will be richer for our participation in this time of internal transition guided by Mercury.
Thoth as the ibis with a Maat feather, 4th Century B.C., Hermopolis, Egypt, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces: The History, Astrology, and Magic of the Decans. Three Hands Press.
Murakami, Haruki. (1997). The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Vintage.
Pinch, Geraldine. (2002). Egyptian Mythology: a guide to the gods, goddesses, and traditions of ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press.
Wallis Budge, E.A. (1960). The Book of the Dead. University Books, Inc.
The Dionysus asteroid #3671 recently moved through Pisces in the last month, leading me to explore the connection between Dionysus and Pisces that has been previously established by numerous astrologers. Writing about a connection between Dionysus and Pisces seems to be prevalent among astrologers influenced by Carl Jung and Depth Psychology, such as Liz Greene in her book The Astrology of Fate, and Kathleen Burt in Archetypes of the Zodiac. Other astrologers have connected Dionysus to the archetype of Neptune, such as Ariel Guttman and Kenneth Johnson in their book Mythic Astrology. As the Sun has now entered Pisces, with both Neptune and Chiron in Pisces as we experience a Mercury retrograde cycle initiated by a conjunction between Mercury and Neptune in Pisces, Dionysus is an interesting guide to the Mystery of life for us to consider.
Dionysus is the sub-terranean Zeus and to me he is an interesting lens to focus on how Jupiter ruling Pisces differs from Jupiter ruling Sagittarius. I do not find fault with astrologers using Neptune as the ruler of Pisces, however, as I have seen skilled astrologers use Neptune with precision in this way. My personal philosophy regarding astrology rulers is that thoroughly learning a specific school of astrology can reveal significant insight into the connection between the above and the below, but that the subject matter of astrology is so vast that any one frame of astrological reference is unlikely to reveal the complete, ultimate understanding. Along these lines, I feel Dionysus is a marvelous window into Pisces because his archetype connects with the Pisces traditional ruler of Jupiter, the modern ruler of Neptune, the esoteric ruler of Pluto, and the consideration that Venus is exalted in the sign of Pisces. In The Marriage of Cadmus andHarmony, Roberto Calassodescribed Dionysus with an air of similarity to Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac that contains all other signs and is the source of all twelve signs:
Dionysus’s line is more obscure . . . only rarely does it emerge from the shadow. Since he is both snake and bull, all history before Zeus is recalled in him and begins again in him.
–Roberto Calasso, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, p. 208
In Dionysus we find the mystical and material participation of Pisces with nature, a full engagement and presence with the soul of the world. In his destruction of form, we see the dissolving and death of Pisces necessary to prepare for the equinox birth of the cardinal sign Aries, the first of the zodiac. As Joseph Campbell has said, “Dionysus represents sudden inspiration, the energy of life pouring through time and throwing off old forms to make new life . . . the thrust of time that destroys all things and brings forth all things . . . the generative power, thrust out of darkness” (Goddesses,p. 215-216). Planets in Pisces in a chart can be similar receivers of impulsive and intuitive illumination, and people with ample Pisces energy in their chart can often seem hell-bent on their own self-destruction. As a Pisces I am used to hearing a polarity of labels from astrologers analyzing my Sun sign, ranging from the profane to the sacred, from critical barbs to accolades. We are told that Pisces is a sign of genius and madness, and when we aren’t being told we are divine visionaries we are told we are crazy, obsessive, narcissistic, possessed, irrational, deranged, and self-proclaimed martyrs who self-sabotage themselves. Dionysus embodies all of this and more.
Liz Greene in The Astrology of Fate gave one of the most lucid analyses of the connection between Pisces and Dionysus. She began by tracing the line of the Great Mother to her Divine Son that connects to the sign of Pisces across cultures. Most of us are familiar with the story of Aphrodite and her son Eros escaping from Typhon to become the fish that became the constellation of Pisces, but Greene goes farther back to Phoenicia and the fish cult of the Great Goddess Atargatis who had a fish son Ichtys, who later evolved into the Babylonian fish god Ea. We can connect these stories of the great mother and her ritually sacrificed divine son to the sign of Pisces through the silvery cord of the Pisces symbol that forever bounds the personality and the soul, the material fish and the spiritual fish. The soul born out of chaos and the great mother is bound to its source in Pisces, and through the image of the sacrificed divine son we can sense how Pisces is more of a fertilizer of the zodiac than the end of the zodiac, a fecund source embodying aspects of all twelve signs within.
As the son of Zeus it is clear that Dionysus is of divine origins, but his lineage through Zeus is the only constant in the multiple versions of his birth found in myth. In the most popular version of his story he was the divine son of the mortal Semele by Zeus, others have him as Demeter’s offspring, while many accounts also reveal him as the son of Persephone with her father Zeus. In The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, Roberto Calasso reveals a spiral conception of Dionysus in which Zeus mates with Persephone and Semele at different times to birth Dionysus, both times in the form of a snake, the form of Goddess. Calasso wrote that as Zeus, transformed into a snake, pressed his lips against Semele’s, intoxicating her with nectar, that “vine leaves were sprouting up on the bed and there was a sound of drums beating in the darkness” as the “earth laughed” at the moment of his conception (p. 47). Semele, however, is not your ordinary mortal: she is the daughter of Cadmus, the hero who brought the alphabet to Greece, and of Harmony, a goddess of concord who some say was the daughter of Aphrodite and Ares.
This lineage between Semele and Cadmus, the source of the Greek alphabet, is of great importance to the thesis behind The Alphabet Versus the Goddess by Leonard Shlain. Shlain theorized that Dionysus arose in prominence in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. in Greece in response to the impact of the alphabet on the collective psyche, as rational thought and intellectual theory became elevated in eminence along with the rise of patriarchal gods into positions formerly held by matriarchal goddesses. A need arose for an irrational god of dance, drunkenness, sex, ecstasy, revelry, madness, tragedy, and dismemberment according to Shlain, who further revealed a connection between Dionysus and another divine son of a mortal woman, Jesus Christ:
For five thousand years following the advent of agriculture, people ardently believed that the Great Mother revitalized the earth, just as she resurrected her beloved son/ lover/ brother each spring. It is the story of Inanna and Dumuzi, Isis and Osiris, Ishtar and Tammuz, and Aphrodite and Adonis. In the most sacred ancient rite of the hiero gamos- the sacred marriage- the man was a mortal and the woman was a goddess. But in Classical Greece, a god arose who had the power to resurrect himself and the earth without the agency of the all-important mother. The son- a god- resurrected his mother who was merely mortal. A thousand years after Dionysus, this elemental myth was once again revised. Mary, the mortal mother of Christ, helplessly witnessed the death of her son in springtime. Now, only the Father could resurrect His Son. Dionysus is the crucial link between the myth of Osiris and the story of Christ.
— Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, p. 144
Although the message of Jesus and his portrayal in the Bible differs from some of the images of Dionysus found in myth, Shlain noted that “both Christ and Dionysus were outcast charismatic leaders accompanied by scruffy followers,” that they each “represented the mystic side of human nature,” and that both of them “triumphed over conventional rationality and pragmatism” (p. 147). Astrologers have also connected both Dionysus and Jesus Christ to the sign of Pisces, some believing that Dionysus was a significant precursor to the Age of Pisces ushered in by Jesus Christ, who some also believe was a Pisces Sun sign with a lot of additional Pisces energy. For example, there is all of the fish symbolism associated with Jesus and his disciples, and his last meal in which Jesus has his followers drink his blood as wine, and eat his body as bread, is ripe with Dionysian overtones. In Archetypes of the Zodiac, Kathleen Burt found that both Dionysus and Jesus Christ traveled through the same geographic region and “preached many of the same lessons- humility, resignation, surrender to grace and God’s will, receptivity, honoring the Divine” and that the “issue of dualism which developed during the Age of Pisces with the Dionysius cult is even more strongly apparent in Christianity” (p. 498). Liz Greene in The Astrology of Fate wrote that “Dionsysos is a sort of shadow-Christ, a Christ with a phallus, for he himself, like Christ, is both victim and redeemer.” In addition, just as Jesus Christ’s birth became an event celebrated through widespread religious ritual, so was Dionysus the divine son revealed and honored in widespread ancient rituals, including the Eleusis Mystery ritual. Indeed, in these sacred mysteries Dionysus was a genuine epiphany, a divine revelation initiating participants into “the grounds of existence, that source of consciousness and energy of which we are all manifestations” (Campbell, p. 191).
To me, the story of Dionysus being born from his father, Zeus, connects with the dominant theme of “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost” that arose in the Age of Pisces. This strange birth occurred after a jealous Hera tricked a pregnant Semele into becoming burned to ashes by Zeus, resulting in the fetus of Dionysus becoming salvaged and sewn into the thigh of Zeus. Since Dionysus was born from both his mother’s womb and his father’s thigh, he became known as the “twice-born” and a symbol of male spiritual initiation. Joseph Campbell has described the male initiation associated with Zeus birthing Dionysus as “that you get your physical life from your mother, while you get your spiritual culture life, your life as it shall be lived in your society, from your father” (Goddesses, p. 214). This description by Joseph Campbell of a societal role of spirit and culture aligns with the astrological meaning of the planet Jupiter, and when we focus on the meaning behind Jupiter ruling the sign of Pisces through the lens of Dionysus, we gain a sense of a heart rendering initiation as part of this process. In ancient times, the Dionysian Mysteries such as at Eleusis were known as an initiation onto the philosophic path, as Plato recorded that Socrates took part in the rituals at Eleusis and found them to be “one of the most illuminating experiences of his career” (Campbell, p. 197; wikipedia).
Many writers have also theorized that there is an initiation lineage going from Jesus back to Dionysus and then to Osiris, as all three figures experience resurrection following dismemberment or crucifixion. The mystical rebirth from death of Dionysus is central to his role in the mystery traditions that brought an immanent sense of epiphany to participants in the ritual. This initiation through dismemberment, like the crucifixion of Christ, links Dionysus to the meaning in esoteric astrology behind Pluto as the ruler of Pisces. In esoteric astrology, Pluto is a first ray planet of destruction like Shiva, bringing freedom to us through a death of form. Pisces as a sign of duality, a sign in which the personality and soul are separated while bound together, can burn through the flames of Pluto into a soul-centered sense of unity. Alan Oken through esoteric astrology has taught about the personality of Pisces trying to separate from its deep sense of connection to soul through hedonism, drugs, addictions, and fantasies to no avail, as no more can the Pisces personality escape its soul than can the soul of Pisces break free from its incarnation in human flesh. There can be a premonition of fear in Pisces of an impending dismemberment or destruction of a cherished hope or ideal that can coincide with cycles of self-destruction and self-sabotage that baffle others. And yet it can be through the burning ground of these experiences that Pisces experiences a heart opening through the Plutonic destruction of old forms that create a regenerated sense of self.
The many layers of duality found in Pisces can also be found in Dionysus, as Liz Greene and others have noted how he embodies concepts such as redeemer/victim, savior/devourer, yin/yang, intuition/reason, sacred/profane, creative genius/madness, and passionate love/passionate anger. Yet instead of trying to rationalize this duality, separate the concepts into a bi-polar analysis, we can remember that Dionysus is whole and embodies these concepts integrated together within his holistic self, not separated. To Liz Greene, the idea that Dionysus embodies an “ecstatic unity with natural, undying life” and a “seeking of union with the divine” that paradoxically mixes “the holy with the vicious and sadistic,” can be explained through his connection to Pisces because in the sign of the fish “these two opposites live side by side” and “each generates the other,” much like the interplay between good and evil. Joseph Campbell, in noting how the spiritual initiation of Dionysus links him with the divine feminine and leads the initiate into a dissolving of duality, said “this is the condition of the dreamer, and roundabout we see the way of initiation, the way to get past it, to realize your androgyny in the metaphysical sense, and your immortality along with your mortality” (Goddesses, p. 223).
This notion of a metaphysical androgyny connects with Pisces, whose natives often have an integrated sense of their “masculine” and “feminine” sides, and also with Dionysus, who was an androgynous god. In order to protect the young Dionysus from another dismembering attack from Titans orchestrated by Hera, Dionysus was dressed in female attire and raised as a woman by nymphs. He grew into a figure that brought women, groups of women, into rapturous states of spiritual ecstasy, and many of his sacred rituals were only open to participation from women. In an age of gods in which patriarchal figures overtook roles previously given to goddesses, Dionysus emerged as a bearer of the divine feminine and so by connecting him into the sign of Pisces we can add an extra layer of meaning into the exaltation of Venus in Pisces. The orgiastic sexual release and drunken debauchery that have been associated with some of these rites also connect to the lustful hedonism of Venus and delight in the carnal sense of the body that houses the soul, and the ability of Venus to harmonize euphoria from discord. The more malificent image of frenzied women ripping apart flesh and limbs into dismemberment aligns with the more destructive side of Venus and the divine feminine, often called a “Dark Goddess” energy like Kali of cutting away, a death in preparation for a birth, a shattering of structure giving space to generate a new form.
However, the connection between Dionysus and Pisces, and the exaltation of Venus in Pisces, has significance beyond the link between the divine feminine and Dionysus: art, in particular the dramatic arts. Dionysus was a god of the theater at at time when the theater was a sacred space of religious significance. Those who still feel this divine passion for the theater in our modern times can be said to be swept up in the spirit of Dionysus, for both the tragic and the comedic masks were sacred to him, and he was associated with a cathartic theater experience:
Drama, the art form combining poetry, music, gesture, and spectacle, arose from Dionysian ritual and is best appreciated by the right brain. The art of tragedy expresses the irrational nature of Dionysus. Plays like “Antigone” and “Hamlet” end with the stage littered with corpses, yet tragedy is a most exhilarating form of entertainment. Why do audiences feel ennobled after witnessing the anguished destinies of “Medea,” “Oedipus,” or “King Lear?” Why does the hero’s or heroine’s despair transmute into the audience’s exultation? This paradox is at the heart of the Dionysian enigma.
–Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet versus the Goddess, p. 138
Kathleen Burt in Archetypes of the Zodiac made an insightful allusion to Pisces through the shape-shifting nature of Dionysus that took on forms beyond human such as the bull, the lion, and the serpent in the way in which Pisces “is the sign of the actor or the chameleon who can play any role in any stage setting or environment of life” (p. 492). Burt also noted that her Pisces clients often would appear to her as if they were wearing a tragic mask they would perform through during her sessions with them, with their soul energy present in an underworld beyond the time and space of the meeting place. Pisces is more apt to reveal and express their soul energy in a safe and sacred space of artistic creation where they will face the darkest depth of their being, for as Liz Greene wrote in The Astrology of Fate “even in artistic creation the experience of death and dismemberment, for Pisces, is an integral part.” Through art and music a Pisces, or planets in Pisces, can merge the personality with the soul into a channeled release that can imbibe the manifested form with tremendous life force that can inspire an audience into ecstatic depths of joy and agony, into a Dionysian experience.
The Dionysus Asteroid #3671
The asteroid Dionysus #3671 was in Pisces from January 10 – February 14, 2014. Dionysus is in Aries from February 15 – April 1, 2014.
Dionysus was conjunct Neptune in Pisces from January 11 – 16, 2014
Dionysus was conjunct Chiron in Pisces from January 19-24, 2014
Dionysus is conjunct Uranus in Aries from February 23 – March 7, 2014.
Dionysus will be square both Jupiter in Cancer and Pluto in Capricorn from February 23 – March 12, 2014.
The Dionysus asteroid is an “Amor asteroid,” most of which orbit between the Earth and Mars. Other well known Amor asteroids are Eros #433, Amor #1221, and Nyx #3908.
Dionysus asteroid #3671 was discovered on May 27, 1984 by Carolyn and Gene Shoemaker at Palomar observatory. The Sun was tightly conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Gemini on this day of discovery, and also conjunct Venus at the beginning of Gemini. Uranus was conjunct the South Node of the Moon in Sagittarius. Dionysus was retrograde in Scorpio at 2°39′ on its day of discovery.
The meaning of the Dionysus asteroid carries the full archetypal meaning of the mythic Dionysus, so is not limited by an association with Pisces. However, as Dionysus is a regenerating figure, the fertilizing sign of Pisces which transitions the end of the zodiac to the beginning is a fitting guide into the astrological meaning of the Dionysus asteroid. Yet the astrological impact of the Dionysus asteroid will shape-shift just like the Dionysus of myth depending upon the astrological sign it transits (for example, Aries at the moment) and aspects it makes (for example, currently becoming conjunct with Uranus and in square to Jupiter and Pluto). The fact that the Dionysus asteroid was discovered at a time of a Gemini Sun and Venus conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Gemini, with a Sagitarius Uranus conjunct the South Node of the Moon, is certainly another factor to prioritize in analysis, along with Dionysus being retrograde at the beginning of Scorpio when discovered.
There is also an archetypal association between Pluto and Dionysus found in the seminal work Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas, with a different implication than the connection of Dionysus with Pluto through its esoteric rulership of Pisces. Tarnas in this work tracked outer planet cycles across centuries, and so interpreted mundane events and themes from history through a Dionysian influence during periods of Pluto being conjunct, square, or in opposition to Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, and/or Jupiter. Tarnas discerned a clear “Plutonic-Dionysian archetype” that mixes with other archetypes such as the “Prometheus archetype of rebellion and freedom, creativity, innovation, and sudden radical change” he associated with the Uranus archetype during periods like today with our Pluto and Uranus square, or at other times of a conjunction between Pluto and Uranus like in the 1960s. Tarnas through extensive historical research across time found that “the Plutonic-Dionysian principle appears to act by compelling, empowering, and intensifying what it touches, with profoundly transformative and sometimes overwhelming destructive consequences” (p. 166). While I do not mean to suggest we should apply the entire meaning of large Pluto cycles to the Dionysus asteroid, I do think this description of a Dionysus archetype developed by Tarnas can be applied to the transit of the Dionysus asteroid- since the Dionysus asteroid moves fairly quickly, only taking about a month or so to move through a sign, it will have much more frequent and brief movement and aspects through our natal chart than the plodding Pluto.
Since the interplay of Pluto and Uranus in esoteric astrology has to do with the destruction of old archetypes and the birth of new archetypes, it is interesting to me that the transit of Uranus in Pisces (remember, esoterically ruled by Pluto) that was followed by the current square between Uranus and Pluto has coincided with widespread attention given to trans-gender, gender questioning, and other identities beyond binary definitions of male and female. While Dionysus is not the most fitting archetype to be the “face” so to speak for such a shift, he is an androgynous and effeminate god whose thrusting, generative impact on collective events does connect with an eruption of intense events unraveling around a shattering of antiquated definitions concerning gender identity. Since the Dionysus asteroid is moving through Aries this month and will soon be conjunct Uranus and in square to Pluto as well as Jupiter, it will interesting to see what events develop. One clearly developing story at this time around these issues is Pussy Riot, who have been attempting to stage protests near the Olympic Games in Russia in part to protest homophobic laws and have been on the receiving end of arrests and sadistic beatings by Cossacks while refusing to back down from their protests. The name Pussy Riot certainly conjures Dionysian images, and their assertive, initiating activism goes well with the application of the Dionysus asteroid to the sign of Aries and a transit to Uranus.
Of course, when writing any article on Dionysus it seems a necessity to at least mention the enormously influential work The Birth of Tragedy in which Friedrich Nietzshce created a compelling contrast between Apollonian and Dionysian impulses and principles in part through an exploration of the dramatic art of tragedy that was sacred to ancient Greek culture. In contrast to viewing Apollo as a representation of order, harmony, clarity, and reason, Nietzsche described Dionysus as representing chaos, passion, ecstasy, and intoxication. Along these lines Dionysus is a liberator and a loosener of instinct who dissolves boundaries: a necessary counterbalance to the Apollo impulse in order to create great art like the Greek tragedy. Finding the middle way between Dionysus and Apollo is the path toward great art, according to Nietzsche- in the great tragedies the hero attempts to create an Apollonian order out of the Dionysian chaos, gaining a Dionysian sense that it is impossible to make choices that will change the ultimate balance of the world. In this way the character of Hamlet, who ultimately chooses non-action in response to his realization of the futility of changing the tragic nature of his scenario, is a Dionysus character to Nietzsche, and it is the great art of such tragedies that gives the audience greater realization into the Dionysian nature of the world (wikipedia).
In lectures Joseph Campbell has analyzed this dichotomy of Nietzsche’s in the sense that while the “Apollonian represents the fascination with that which is in the poignant, passing moment . . . the Dionysian represents identification with the energy that is shattering and bringing forth new forms” (p. 127). In this way Campbell explained art can take us to a Dionysian state beyond duality, “filled with awe and terror and fascination,” with both “the fear of god” and “the love of god,” because you will not catch “the sense of the mystery, how shattering it is to your whole system and your ideas and everything else, unless you get both senses” (p. 128).
Ever up for a good argument, James Hillman in Mythic Figures asserted that this influential work by Nietschze actually led many astray to a degree, because Hillman believed that Nietzsche was too much under the influence of the Germanic Wotan in his analysis and evocation of Dionysus. Hillman believed that in both psychiatry and scholarship the Apollonian concepts of “light, order and distance” had been favored over the “emotional involvement” of Dionysus. Hillman thought that as a result there had been a repression of the Dionysian, and a distorted sense of regarding Dionysus as “inferior, hysterical, effeminate, unbridled, and dangerous,” instead of viewing Dionysus as the “lord of souls,” a status Hillman saw as more fitting for this mythic figure. Hillman significantly cited Heraclitus as back-up:
Heraclitus pointed out in regard to the obscene Lenean rites of the Dionysian cult that they must be understood in the light of the unity of Hades and Dionysus. They may not be taken on the literal level of concrete enactment, but have an invisible meaning for the soul in terms of its underworld psychic life. –James Hillman, Mythic Figures
Hillman linked Jung’s exploration of alchemy to the dismemberment of Dionysus, that through a process of “beheading or dissolving the central control of the old king” we enter a state of “activating the pneuma that is distributed throughout the materializations of our complexes,” meaning that this “dismemberment of central control is at the same time the resurrection of the natural light of archetypal consciousness distributed in each of the organs.” Thus along these lines it can be possible to add an alchemical dimension to the Dionysus archetype, that according to Hillman is “an initiation into the archetypal consciousness of the body” that makes dismemberment “necessary for awakening the consciousness of the body.” Hillman saw this alchemical dismemberment as an awareness that can cut through the “habitual ways we have ‘grown up’ and ‘grown together,'” by making us aware of the light found within each distinct part of our body- so it is not really a process, and “not a movement from integreation to dis-integration to re-integration.” It is more of a loosening that “results in the activation of the psychic life of the organs.”
Centuries before Nietzsche analyzed the dichotomy of Apollo and Dionysus, the 15th Century Renaissance astrologer and philosopher Marsilio Ficino saw Bacchus (Dionysus) and Apollo as the two elements of soul, with Bacchus associated with “Wine” and the “Aroma of Wine,” and Apollo associated with “Music” and “Light” (Moore, p. 77). In The Planets Within Thomas Moore analyzed Ficino’s elements of psyche through Dionysus:
Dionysos is the god of being-torn-apart; or, put in another way, to be torn apart is to experience the god Dionysos. Dionysos is the grape crushed and fermented to resurrect as wine, and wine is the god taken into the body, affecting the soul. Profound paradox can be found in the nature of most deities, but in Dionysos paradox is of the essence . . . Touched by a Dionysian spirit, ego feels the stupor of drunkenness and the pain of dismemberment, but these are only phases in the process of the reestablishment of life . . . Wine, therefore, as an image, is the answer to the hard defensiveness of the narcissistic ego . . . in the psychic realm, one’s base has to be fluid like wine, and it has to support, not stability and security, but multiplicity and movement . . . Ficino makes it clear that Bacchic insanity and illogic are fundamental to the psyche. — Thomas Moore, The Planets Within, p. 80
Drawing from the Platonic tradition, Ficino believed that there is a necessary madness involved in awakening the soul, a certain level of insanity and instability in comparison to what is considered to be normal and sane. According to Thomas Moore, Ficino saw that “in order to transcend ego concerns and materialistic unconsciousness,” we require “inner figures” that represent specific types of irrational consciousness: “poet, priest, prophet, and lover” (p. 97). For example with regards to poetic madness in the Platonic tradition, Moore quoted Ficino as writing that, “many poets compose in madness and afterwards do not know what they have said, as if God had used them as musical instruments” (p. 98). Dionysus is specifically associated with priestly madness to Ficino, representing the necessity of departing from “logical, literal, normal, reasonable, and linear patterns of thought” in order “to gain entry to the mysteries of the soul” (p. 103). Since the soul and psyche does not work through a logic aligned with our “rational” and “reasoning mind,” in order to come to an understanding of the true mysteries of the soul, according to Ficino “it is necessary to move away from ordinary activities and patterns of thought” (p. 104).
According to Moore, Ficino and his friends were fascinated by the secretive nature of the Mystery initiations and the knowledge known only to initiates, and so a necessary priestly madness to Ficino aligned with the concept that the “mysteries revealed through Dionysian, priestly consciousness are the eternal patterns of the psyche, the side of the soul that is godlike rather than human, though through ritual a connection is established between personal consciousness and a cyclic pattern” (p. 105). In all, to wrap up this summary of various approaches to the Dionysus archetype, all of these concepts can potentially be applied to the meaning of the Dionysus asteroid in transit or the application of Dionysus to the Pisces archetype. If we notice a time of intensity is aligning with these themes, either through a transit of the Dionysus asteroid or a significant Pisces transit, such as the current transit of the Sun across the placements of both Neptune and Chiron in Pisces, we can gain a realization that the experience is necessary if we wish to increase awareness of our soul.
From out of the Underworld
An earthy, fertilizing, regenerative sort of god, Dionysus has the ability to descend and ascend from the underworld like only a few other mythic figures (Persephone, Hermes/Mercury, Psyche, Orpheus, Venus as Ishtar/Inanna), in both the role of guiding his mother Semele out of the underworld as well as in a constant role of a god united with the presence of Hades. This is interesting at this time because on February 15, 2014 the Dionysus asteroid crossed the cardinal axis and Aries point on a significant day of Hermes being in the underworld, as the inferior conjunction of Mercury retrograde and the Sun occurred. In addition, during the time that Venus went into the underworld at the time of her inferior conjunction with the Sun on January 11, 2014, the Dionysus asteroid was significantly conjunct Neptune in Pisces. After Venus arose from the underworld as the Morning Star around January 17, the Dionysus asteroid entered a conjunction with Chiron in Pisces. I believe we can also gain insight into the transit of Neptune and Chiron in Pisces through considering how the Dionysus archetype could be involved in our experiences, especially since Chiron in Pisces will be coming into another grand water trine with Jupiter in Cancer and Saturn in Scorpio. With each of the personal planets taking turns going into an underworld retrograde journey, first Venus and now Mercury, and very soon Mars will take its turn- this plays up the theme of Dionysus being a guide to our soul and an archetypal figure who can take us into the underworld and guide us back out regenerated.
In order to give some natal chart examples using the Dionysus asteroid, I am going to begin by focusing on the link between Pisces and Dionysus through two Pisces Sun sign musical figures who I have thought for a long time embody the link between Dionysus and Pisces: Lou Reed (who I previously wrote about here) and Kurt Cobain (who I previously wrote about here). There is an androgynous side to each in how they projected themselves into our culture, and each had a shattering impact on popular culture in a Dionysian manner. Although Lou did not have an immediate impact as far as huge amounts of financial success goes, he influenced countless individuals who eventually created the Punk Rock movement of the 1970s that correspondingly influenced the musical development of Kurt Cobain. Kurt Cobain, however, had a true Dionysian impact on popular culture in an immediate, immanent manner, completely dismantling the structure and form of commercial, popular music at the beginning of the 1990s during a conjunction between, of course, Uranus and Neptune. Does the Dionysus asteroid show up as significant in their birth charts? Yes:
Kurt Cobain had Dionysus retrograde in Cancer at 24 degrees conjunct Jupiter retrograde in Cancer at 26 degrees, in trine to his Venus, Saturn, and Chiron in Pisces and also in trine to his Neptune in Scorpio, creating a Grand Water Trine.
Lou Reed had Dionysus in Pisces at 27 degrees opposite his Neptune retrograde in Virgo at 29 degrees. His Dionysus was sextile his Taurus stellium of Saturn, Uranus, Mars, and the true node of Black Moon Lilith.
Kurt Cobain had a meteoric rise to fame after experiencing many challenging experiences in the first twenty or so years of his life, at times surrounded by madness and required to survive on his own just like Dionysus. His Dionysian love of art and excesses with intoxication at times has been well-documented, as well as his tragic ending in dismemberment. The Dionysus asteroid was active in Kurt’s chart at the time of his passing, as on the day of his death it was transiting the end of Aquarius conjunct his Sun- this means that in the aftermath of his death with the extraordinary public outcry that followed, the Dionysus asteroid would have been conjunct his Pisces Sun. There is a thrusting, generative power to Kurt’s voice and guitar playing, an immanent presence of power that magnetized youth not only across the United States of Amercia, but around the world. He was difficult for some to understand, a seeming paradox of personality traits that make perfect sense through the lens of Dionysus. He was also deeply understood by many, including many youth still to this day, not unlike a Dionysian cult he could incite to heights of ecstasy through his music. There was also a Dionysian element in his tradition of destroying the material elements of his performances:
Lou Reed had his own shocking experiences associated with gender and sexual identity, as he was given electroshock treatment to “cure” his homosexual longings as a teenager, and he later had a relationship with a trans-sexual woman that was shocking to mainstream American culture. Everything about the way in which Lou thrust himself into the national music scene of the 1960s was shattering, from the abrasive sound of his guitar and feedback, to his lyrics detailing the lives of inner city inhabitants defined as “sordid” by the mainstream perspective. Moreover, through his initially strong association with Andy Warhol, he found himself writing beautiful lyrics for the Germanic chanteuse Nico and performing on stage in a Dionysian production of throbbing lights, projected cinema, and dancers jumping and prancing around in revelry, some cracking whips. There was also a paradoxical duality to Lou’s music that he transcended into the unity of his own personal style, that could veer between screeching blasts of guitar with a soul dance beat, to melodious harmonies of tender and intimate lyricism. During the time of the Dionysus-themed events documented by Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche in the late 1960s when Pluto was conjunct Uranus in Virgo and Lou Reed’s music and presence was gaining greater notoriety on the national stage, Pluto and Uranus would have been opposite his Dionysus asteroid in Pisces and conjunct his Neptune in Virgo. A true Dionysian activation, indeed.
Two other figures that came to my mind in connection with making a Dionysian impact on popular culture during the 1960s who are not Pisces Sun signs, are Bob Dylan and John Lennon. In the time leading up to the conjunction between Pluto and Uranus in the 1960s, Bob Dylan and John Lennon developed a rivalry of sorts as to who was the voice of their generation, as each had a shattering impact on the collective psyche in a different way, but in a manner in each case that was Dionysian. Neither was the most skilled musician or in possession of the most melodious voice- instead there was a primal power that each channeled through their voice and guitar, along with a lyrical sense that struck audiences around the world on a soul level. Is the Dionysus asteroid significant in the charts of Bob Dylan and John Lennon? Of course. They also have a connection of both having Dionysus conjunct Pluto, the esoteric ruler of Pisces:
Bob Dylan, or Robert Zimmerman as he was born, has his Dionysus asteroid closely conjunct his Chiron at 28 degrees of Cancer, also conjunct his Pluto at 3 degrees of Leo.
John Lennon had a 3-4 degree Leo Dionysus that is conjunct his Pluto at 4-5 degrees in Leo, and exactly opposite his Aquarius Moon at 3-4 degrees (all square to his Scorpio Mercury at 8-9 degrees).
Again, the idea that Dylan was not the most talented musician in the world but was able to channel extraordinary energy and power into his performances, combined with lyrics that connected with a generation on a deep soul level, aligns him with the Dionysus archetype, doubly so since he had a conjunction between his Dionysus asteroid and his Pluto. After his rise to stardom as a folk star, Dylan shape-shifted in a Dionysian manner into a new electric persona that brought him even greater fame and an intense touring schedule that led him into excessive drug use and an exhausted mind-frame that seemed to be focused at times on his own self-destruction. In the video below, I’ve included footage from the movie I’m Not There, because the director Todd Oldham made the brilliant choice to cast actress Cate Blanchett as the Dylan of this electric, drug-infused time period, giving an air of androgyny to the character that re-inforces the Dionysian quality. After an excerpt from the movie, the video below then shifts into actual footage of the real Dylan being interviewed in December of 1965 at the heart of the conjunction between Uranus and Pluto in Virgo, a time of Dionysus. A number of Dionysian themes reveal themselves in these exchanges:
This “incarnation” of Dylan ended in a motorcycle accident in which he ultimately re-birthed himself again into pop culture with a different identity and presence. On the day of the crash, July 29, 1966, the transiting Dionysus asteroid was closely conjunct transiting Jupiter in Cancer (Dionysus at 17º31′ and Jupiter at 18º20′ Cancer), both widely conjunct his natal Dionysus and Chiron conjunct in Cancer at 28 degrees. Interestingly, this also happened to be the time of an inferior conjunction of Mercury retrograde and the Sun that was also conjunct Dylan’s Pluto- this transit of course sticks out more so to astrologers, but it is still nonetheless fascinating that the Dionysus asteroid was also part of this. It also means that Hermes, the more “rational” guide of souls in the underworld was working with Dionysus, the more “irrational” guide of souls in the underworld at this time, archetypally. In the aftermath of this accident, Dylan would have had his Dionysus return through asteroid transit. Ultimately, in pop culture he also had a Dionysus return into a new form, first appearing with the more Biblical inspired John Wesley Harding and then a few years later as practically a country music star doing duets with Johnny Cash. The song “All Along the Watchtower” was recorded on the first album he released following his motorcycle crash- it contains the lyrics, “Businessman, he drinks my wine / ploughman digs my earth” that evokes a sense of Dionysus.
In contrast to the solitary figure of Bob Dylan, John Lennon was seen as the leader of The Beatles when they first came to America. Recently American pop culture was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the night The Beatles played live on The Ed Sullivan Show, an event that to everyone who was alive at the time seems indescribable in the excitement and impact created by John Lennon and his mates. In these early days of their impact upon American culture, The Beatles embodied Dionysian themes in part through driving women into a frenzy, practically needing security protection at points to keep mobs of women from devouring them. In American public performances they were usually not even able to hear one another on stage because of the loud female screaming. In his natal chart, the opposition between John’s natal Pluto in Leo and Moon in Aquarius usually generates attention from astrologers, but adding in the fact that the Dionysus asteroid is so tightly opposite his Moon and conjunct his Pluto adds an interesting dimension to this aspect. Like Bob Dylan, the fact Lennon came into prominence during a Dionysian time of a Pluto and Uranus conjunction reinforces the Dionysian theme of him having the Dionysus asteroid conjunct his Pluto. Being opposite his Aquarius Moon, I feel the Dionysus asteroid also adds in some meaning to how Lennon’s physical appearance shape-shifted over time, beginning with him becoming a star whose hair was judged as “too long” and “effeminate” to a star who truly grew his hair long in the end, by the end of the 1960s appearing with a look evoking traditional images of Jesus Christ, another Dionysian figure. In addition, John Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono at this time was also categorized by some as a sort of Great Mother/Divine Son dynamic.
In conclusion, whether you have the Dionysus asteroid in a prominent place in your natal chart or not, exploring the Dionysus archetype can still shed illuminating light on current experiences, particularly from the perspective of Richard Tarnas that aligns Dionysus with Pluto- we are in a square between Pluto and Uranus, an opposition between Pluto and Jupiter, and in another month we will have a cardinal grand cross involving Pluto, Uranus, Jupiter, and Mars. In addition, through the link between Dionysus and Pisces we can consider how his themes could be informing the current transits of Neptune and Chiron through Pisces. On an even grander scale, although there is a lot of talk of the Age of Aquarius, we are still in the Age of Pisces, and the archetype of Dionysus is deeply connected to this age, in fact in many ways it could be called an Age of Dionysus. Exploring Dionysus to a deeper level, as he is a deeply complex archetype I have barely begun to address through this post, will help all of us gain greater insight into the Age of Pisces we are living through in these intense times.
Burt, Kathleen. (1996). Archetypes of the Zodiac. Llewellyn.
Calasso, Roberto. (1993). The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony. Knopf.
Campbell, Joseph. (2013). Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine. Edited by Safron Rossi, PhD. New World Library.
Greene, Liz. (1984). The Astrology of Fate. Weiser Books.
Guttman, A. & Johnson, K. (1993). Mythic Astrology: Archetypal Powers in the Horoscope.
Hillman, James. (2007). Mythic Figures. Spring Publications, Inc.
Shlain, Leonard. (1998). The Alphabet versus the Goddess: the conflict between Word and Image. Viking.
Tarnas, Richard. (2007). Cosmos and Psyche. Plume.
As 2013 comes to a close with a powerful Dark Moon in Sagitarius, and 2014 begins with a potent New Moon aligned with Mercury and Pluto, we are now over a week inside the portal of our current Venus retrograde cycle in Capricorn. Venus retrograde cycles are magical portals that take us out of our linear constructs of time, working through the Golden Mean of five cycles every eight years, connecting us back to past Venus retrograde cycles as it simultaneously regenerates profound growth for our future. In the sign of Capricorn the structure of form is a significant archetypal construct, and the structure of Venus retrograde resembles not only the Golden Mean found throughout nature, but also the five fold form of the Rose and the Star Pentacle. The magic imbibed into the Golden Mean, Rose, and Pentacle has been well documented in countless esoteric symbols and stories across cultures, but the way this structure plays out in our experience of the Venus retrograde cycle to me goes something like this: that just as when we look at the glimmering stars at night we are seeing light emanating from different time periods, like time traveling, so can Venus retrograde cycles resurrect patterns and stories of our past we experience from our present moment. Those of us into astrology are aware of the repeating patterns and stories found within our birth chart, and this same phenomenon of influence can be found in the myths and stories of our world that repeat themselves. While some judge myths as only relating to the culture from which they originate, I feel the myths of Great Mystery transcend cultural boundaries and take us to a realm of perception that connects to our Soul that is beyond the culture our human form was born into at the beginning of our lifetime. A myth of Great Mystery arising of profound significance to me at this time is the story of Eros and Psyche.
We’ll get to the astrology details later, but the synchronicity of astrology asteroid transits is what validated my feeling of Psyche’s story connecting to this current Venus retrograde, as at the time of Venus stationing retrograde the Sun and Mercury were conjunct the Psyche asteroid and the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio was conjunct the Eros asteroid, and at the time of Venus stationing direct at the end of January 2014, Venus will not only be conjunct Pluto as has been widely discussed, Venus will be almost exactly conjunct the Psyche asteroid. Eros at the time of Venus stationing direct does not have a major aspect with Venus, but will have moved into Sagitarius and will be in a square to Neptune in Pisces. However, at the time of the inferior conjunction of Venus and the Sun on January 11, Eros will be closely conjunct Saturn in Scorpio and in sextile to the Venus and Sun conjunction in Capricorn. Even without such asteroid synchronicity, however, the story of Psyche and Eros resonates with Venus retrograde cycles as one of the classic interpretations of the story aligns with the astrological meaning of Venus retrograde cycles: to promote reflection, going within to change our inner Venus relationship with our self in order to change our outer Venus relationship with the world and what we manifest for ourselves in relationships.
Eros and Psyche is a story that has captured popular imagination for ages, such as being integral to some ancient Mystery rituals, and whose themes still today run rampant through popular romance novels, films, and television. For example, we can feel the presence of Psyche’s agonizing desire in the vampire romance “Twilight” series and the feeling of the heroine Bella that her love and desire for her “monstrous immortal” lover has taken on life or death proportions. This is the classic romance theme we all know from Romeo and Juliet and many other examples, in which the characters become suicidal when their passionate desire for a lover is taken away, compromised, or seems in danger of ending. These stories remain popular because so many can relate to having these sorts of feelings at least at some point in their lives- desiring someone to such an extent that it seems as if the world would end if they no longer remain as a being we merge with in passion. Some of us have even had this obsessive desire arise like a fantasy for someone we have never even been with physically, and never will- and yet something in them sparks a feeling in us that we desperately want to merge with them in passion. If we are not judgmental about ourselves for having such feelings, others around us normally are, and characters in such stories are routinely judged harshly by many. Keep in mind, however, that the story of Psyche and Eros is a Great Mystery with meaning that gets more complex the more you sit with it. Before going further I would like to state my intention that it is important to avoid judging Psyche in order to open ourselves to the deeper meaning of her story, and yet of course I must acknowledge that by writing about this myth and analyzing how it fits into the current moment I am of course judging and projecting my own meaning into the story. So be it, as these ideas are the exact topics I wish to address.
This Venus retrograde cycle in Capricorn carries some important themes we can explore through the story of Eros and Psyche: JUDGMENT, INNER AUTHORITY, DESIRE, and PROJECTION, among others. These themes are present in the story at its beginning, when we meet Psyche, the youngest daughter of a King whose beauty is considered by the people to be so unsurpassed that some begin to worship her as if she were the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite. Yet Psyche remains a solitary figure in reception of this tremendous romantic projection from her father’s people, as no one has enough self-confidence to move beyond their romantic fantasy of her into an actual relationship with her. Even more ominous for Psyche, she ultimately finds herself on the receiving end of the wrath of Aphrodite, as the Goddess of Love erupts with jealousy and indignation over losing the attention of her worshipers for a mere mortal like Psyche. Aphrodite orders that her son, Eros (also known in versions as Cupid) pierce Psyche with the tip of one of his arrows in order to make her fall in love with some sort of disgusting creature that will bring societal shame to Psyche. However, Eros instead falls in love with Psyche upon seeing her and devises his own plan to express his passion for her in secret.
As time passes and potential suitors continue to be too fearful to approach Psyche because of her overwhelming beauty, her father the King consults an oracle and is told to abandon his daughter to a high cliff in order to meet her destiny of marrying a monstrous creature- it is at this point that Eros enacts his secret plan as Psyche is carried off by the wind to an idyllic palace in which she is told she will have her every need attended to. Once inside the palace, Psyche finds herself treated to elaborate banquets, luxurious baths, and other sensual delights. At night, and every following night, a stranger comes to Psyche in her bedroom and passionately makes love to her- yet Psyche is never allowed to see her lover, let alone get to know on any sort of deep level beyond hedonistic sexual pleasure.
At this point in the story it is important to remember that the version of Eros and Psyche we know finds Eros relegated to his mythic interpretation more common to his Roman version as Cupid, the son of Venus (earlier versions have different fathers, later versions focus on Cupid as being the son of Mars and Venus). However, in some ancient Greek traditions, Eros is a primordial God who was at the beginning of time along with Chaos and Gaia (such as in Hesiod) and in some versions is even the original Godly form. In these myths Eros is not even portrayed as masculine, but instead is in a form beyond duality definitions of gender. In the Orphic and Eleusinian Mystery traditions, Eros is seen not so much as primordial, but instead as the progenitor of the human race. In this version of his story, Eros is the offspring of Night, or Nyx, who mates with the winged Chaos in a dark void to produce the human race.
Together through these myths, we can sense how the Eros we eventually find portrayed as a mischievous Cupid who slings arrows of love to create great drama in human affairs was originally a primordial, chaotic creature of extraordinary power. At the beginning of our Psyche and Eros story, however, Eros has lost this sense of his own inner authority and instead gives his power away to his mother Aphrodite, allowing her to dictate the terms of his life and boss him around. However, the passion Eros projects upon seeing the beauty of Psyche calls him to attempt to defy his mother, but only in secret. Influenced by the negative parental judgment of his mother against Psyche, or perhaps as well his divine societal judgment that Gods are not allowed to enter committed romantic partnerships with mortals, Eros does not claim his inner authority to openly expose and express himself to the object of his desire, Psyche, but instead chooses to worship her body with lustful desire in secret, not allowing her to see or know him.
Judgment continues to influence events in this story as Psyche soon falls prey to the judgments of her sisters who come to visit her in her palace “paradise.” No doubt jealous of the luxurious palatial lifestyle their sister is living, Psyche’s sisters convince her that she must take a knife and a lamp to bed with her so that she can see the monstrous creature that was prophesied to marry her and kill it. Psyche gives her own authority away to her sisters and does what they tell her to do, only to find with the light of her lamp that her lover is not a hideous monster but is instead the most beautiful creature she has ever seen. Startled awake by the hot oil of Psyche’s lamp, however, Eros flees the palace in fear and Psyche abandons her secluded palace life to chase after him into the night. This takes her on a journey away from the palace of Eros, a structure of romantic ideals not unlike a structure of Capricorn, into an arduous journey that opens her up to her authentic emotions and the ultimate ability to freely express her emotional needs in her own authority, not unlike the sign of Cancer, the polarity to the current Venus retrograde in Capricorn.
While Psyche’s desire to finally see her lover Eros with her own eyes, the catalyst for her journey of finding her Self and her True Love, was in some ways influenced by the judgments of her family, I also feel it came from an authentic desire of hers to actually see and know her lover as a real person instead of a fantasy. After choosing to see the real instead of the fantasy, Psyche finds herself abandoned by a river with a suicidal urge to kill herself. It is here that she meets the Nature deity Pan who comes to her assistance and is a harbinger of many other beings of Psyche’s surroundings that begin to come to her aid, everything from plants to ants to eagles. An excellent summary of this part of the story along with depth psychology analysis of meaning can be found here on the Symbol Reader blog (this post would become incredibly long if I go into all the details of the story, so hopefully you can pick up my general intent of meaning by what I include here). As the story continues, Psyche continually summons the necessary courage to persist while forming a true communion with nature and a psychic openness that can even communicate with the energy of inanimate objects, expressing her needs to her environment and finding that everything from a reed by water below her to a tall tower above her has helpful advice to give her. These instructions become vital, because on her journey to find Eros, Psyche instead crosses paths with Aphrodite who gives her a series of near impossible tasks to complete before giving the ultimate challenge: descend to the underworld where no mortal can survive and bring back a beauty ointment belonging to Persephone to give to Aphrodite.
Somehow Psyche succeeds in not only descending to the underworld, but ascending back to the upper-world having successfully received the desired beauty ointment from Persephone. However, overcome by desire to make herself beautiful for Eros, Psyche decides to open the box of beauty ointment even though she has been told it will put her into a state of perpetual sleep- which it does- but her fall into this dangerous state is what awakens Eros finally to come and revive her with a kiss. Some judge Psyche for opening the box of Persephone to claim Persephone’s beauty potion for herself, to try to make herself look pretty and pleasing for her man, but again once judgment is removed there are many levels of meaning to this action. Remember that Persephone is the Queen of the Underworld, and the Guide of Souls, and so is guiding Psyche on her journey of Soul, not guiding Aphrodite. It is also significant that Persephone gave her gift of beauty ointment to Psyche, and not to Aphrodite. Psyche takes her own authority to anoint herself with the beauty of Persephone, to meet her own need to feel beautiful, sparked by her passion for Eros. Likewise instead of judging Psyche as being “saved” by Eros like the Disney version of Snow White saved by Prince Charming, we can instead perceive that it is Psyche who helps save Eros. By claiming her own inner authority to defy Aphrodite and claim the gift that Persephone gave to her, for herself, perhaps this is the inspiration Eros needed to finally openly defy Aphrodite and claim his own inner authority to become the open lover of Psyche. And True Love’s kiss- we have all heard the fairy tales of how this can destroy any curse and create miraculous events in the lives of lovers- is this not the very breath of life (the word “psyche” means “breath” as well as “soul” and “self”) merged with passion (“eros” as a chaotic, primordial, passionate progenitor of form) so that our personality and soul can finally merge through the act of love? Is there really something to judge about this in any sort of negative way? At this point in the story of Eros and Psyche there is not, as each is finally truly seeing the other for who they are and are merging their beings in a soulful embrace that ignites the deepest embers of the soul inside each.
It is here at the end, at True Love’s kiss, that Eros and Psyche finally open themselves to the real reality of the true self of one another, instead of seeing one another through a lens of romantic fantasy- their deep merging of passion and Soul Mate relationship follows. At this point I would like to share insights I heard in a lecture by Richard Tarnas on romance, astrology, and synchronicity in March of 2012 at the Washington State Astrological Association, as he beautifully summarized a vital lesson we can take from the story of Psyche and Eros.
In his lecture Tarnas explained how synchronicity, astrology, and romantic love all have the underlying structure in common of an archetypal, synchronistic field, and that Carl Jung’s “self archetype” is constellated by a profound romantic love involving the marriage of opposites, the cosmic marriage of the inner and the outer. However, since astrology and synchronicity are not openly acknowledged in consensus society, we end up with a heightened desire for romantic love in mainstream culture as romantic love in this consensus worldview carries the entire magical, anima mundi sense of a communion between souls opening up a new universe, an opening that goes beyond the compressed isolation of the Cartesian Ego. Tarnas pointed out that astrology, synchronicity, and romantic love all (1) have great potential for profound significance, (2) are extremely susceptible to a skeptical negation, and (3) are also susceptible to both projection and illusion. The theme of judgment I have begun to address through the Psyche and Eros story is important in connection to the danger of negating a divine communion with the other, as Tarnas made the point that Jung and his followers tend to judge romantic love as a projection of the ideal, and there is a tendency among therapists to ask their clients to “own” their projection of romantic desire, saying it’s really something coming from inside their self. While projection is extremely important to reflect upon as I will continue to discuss in connection to the astrology of this time, it also leads to the potential of negating our connection with a numinous quality through romantic love. Indeed, in his lecture Tarnas made the argument that if I am carrying the divine inside me, then it is not impossible for a communion of divinities to occur through romantic love in that I am recognizing the divinity of the other as they are recognizing it in me.
How did Tarnas explain how to discern if our romantic desire for the other is a projection? He said such discernment requires an “I-thou” relationship with the other instead of an “I-it” connection. This means that projection comes from an “I-it” perception in which we are projecting our own romantic ideals despite who the other really is- in other words, we are looking at the other as an instrument of our own emotional or sexual satisfaction rather than their actual person-hood. This is how we end up with an illusionary projection of our own ideal or needs upon the other in spite of who the other actually is, instead of each person actually disclosing their real reality to the other. In contrast, instead of seeing the other as an “it” who meets our needs or ideals, we connect with their true “self” and as a result open to the potential for a communion of soul or inner divinity to occur through romantic love.
Being open to this sort of communion in my opinion means that we work with the astrological polarity of Capricorn to Cancer brought by the current Venus retrograde, and learn to fulfill and nurture our own emotional needs when possible, but also importantly to learn to express and communicate our emotional needs to others without blocking ourselves for fear of being judged or shamed. The importance of having compassion for our psyche and feelings of fantasy that can arise has been illuminated by James Hillman, who actually used the story of Eros and Psyche as the core myth behind his contrast of the traditional development of Depth Psychology with his own conception of Archetypal Psychology. Instrinsic to Hillman’s idea of Archetypal Psychology is compassion and acceptance of Psyche, the Psyche of myth as well as the feelings and sensations of our own Psyche:
“Psyche into life” can be put in many ways. Most simply I mean the freeing of psychic phenomenon from the curse of the analytical mind. This involves reflection upon the analytical mind, realizing its predilections for psychopathology and the fact that psychology has become a massive yet subtle system for distorting the psyche into a belief that there is something “wrong” with it and, accordingly, for analyzing its imagination into diagnostic categories. Moving the psyche into life means moving it, not from its sickness, but from its sick view of itself . . . The helping professions- education, social work, pastoral counseling, psychotherapy- all must envision suffering and illness as something “wrong.” They have a vested interest in psychology as it is now conceived. They must see sickness in the soul so they can get in there and do their job. But suppose the fantasies, feelings, and behavior arising from the imaginal part of ourselves are archetypal in their sickness and thus natural. Suppose they are authentic, belonging to the nature of man; suppose even that their odd irrationalities are required for life, else we wither into rigid stalks of reason. –James Hillman, The Myth of Analysis: Three Essays on Archetypal Psychology, pages 3 – 4
Hillman highlights in this work that “we discover a sense of soul in the sufferings of psychopathology” (p. 4-5), and so we can move with our psyche into life with its “sickness,” so to speak, instead of giving our power over to a therapist in analysis or trying to repress feelings in order to fit into the “real world” of society. I don’t mean to suggest by any means that one should avoid entering therapy with a therapist- however, the current Venus retrograde in Capricorn is a further sign of the danger we can cause for ourselves by judging our feelings and fantasies through a lens of shame and guilt. The story of Psyche and Eros carries the potential of us connecting with our inner divinity, our soul, and even true love by learning to express our authentic emotions without shame and guilt, as Psyche and Eros each learn to do.
In Evolutionary Astrology as taught by Jeff Green, the Capricorn archetype that connects with our current Venus retrograde in part involves the structure of form, the phenomenon of time and space which connects with our sense of mortality and the limitations of form and structure. This sense of structure in the Capricorn archetype leads to the collective organization of people into societies with consensus laws that lead to social expectations, bringing us to the concepts of conformity and resulting guilt or shame one can feel from breaking free of consensus conformity. Venus in the sign of Capricorn as a result can become controlled or cautious in expressing their emotional needs not because of lacking deep feelings- instead it is actually the opposite, Venus in Capricorn underneath carries enormous magnetism and passion- but there can be trepidation to share feelings and needs because of a fear of rejection or false judgment. When we have not had our emotional needs met in childhood, or experienced either rejection or wrong judgment from our parents or other early authority figures, we can end up with emotional needs as adults that have become incredibly distorted and exaggerated because of being displaced from a childhood in which our sense of having an inner authority was suppressed or broken in some manner.
As a result as adults we can develop a tendency to then have a fear of expressing our true emotional needs for fear of being judged, and our own internal conflicts with our own sense of inner authority can lead us to attract partners into our lives who play out the role of a controlling, dominating, judgmental, or hypocritical authority over us. Venus retrograde in Capricorn will give us the opportunity to utilize the Capricorn gift of structure to reflect upon the nature of imprinting we received from our parents and early development in the society we were born into, in order to gain awareness for how we have developed our current self-image so that we can now re-structure our inner relationship with our self in greater alignment with our authentic emotions and needs. With this Venus retrograde in Capricorn happening inside the context of an intense Cardinal Grand Cross (Libra Mars opposite Uranus in Aries, both in square to Jupiter in Cancer opposite Pluto in Capricorn along with Mercury, the Sun, and the Moon at the moment) we may gain a visceral sense of a vast emptiness we have inside of us from not having our emotional needs met in the past, an inner void we attempt to fill with obsessions or addictions of one sort or another- this is the same source a lot of our romantic projections can come from that are more about a fantasy of having our emotional needs met more so than intimacy with the actual reality of the person we desire, or a projection that is more about having someone else meet our needs instead of doing the hard inner work to nurture the needs inside of us that we are actually responsible for. Of course, this dynamic can also play out in other ways, such as an overcompensation in which we attempt to control others or events in a role of an external authority, leading to a tendency to attract relationships that are dependent upon us, mirroring our own actual need to have someone take care of our own needs. Whatever internal dynamics are at play inside of us at this time, with inner attention it will be possible to reach profound realizations of how our inner world is impacting the external world we are experiencing.
It is notable that Jeff Green was born with a Scorpio Venus retrograde on his Ascendant, and so his perspective of how the Venus retrograde cycle connects with the evolution of our connection with our soul comes from his own unique experience:
[Venus retrograde] is a very significant time for all individuals on Earth because it will correlate to a time frame in which we must reexamine and reflect on the overall nature of our reality. The intention in this is to become aware of what we no longer need in our lives- the dynamics or circumstances that are now counterproductive to our need to grow and move forward. At the same time, it creates an awareness of what we do need in order to move forward . . . [it can also] correlate to a time in which we re-experience old issues or dynamics that we may have felt that we have already worked through or left behind.
–Jeff Green, Pluto Vol. II: The Soul’s Evolution through Relationship, pp. 202-3
With Venus retrograde in Capricorn, this will utilize the Cardinal sign archetype of moving backwards in order to move forwards, in part through possibly having old wounds, memories, and issues dredged up for us to reflect upon. Since Venus is in Capricorn, we can utilize the self-determination of Capricorn to not drown in past emotional wounding but instead use the awareness for how we have developed our current self-image to de-condition ourselves from this past process so that we can then re-create a new self-image that aligns with our true self-empowerment. With the recent trine between Jupiter in Cancer and Saturn in Scorpio, and a Cancer Jupiter that is widely opposite Capricorn Venus, we will have greater capacity to re-create a new self-image that will facilitate us integrating into society in a new way that aligns with our actualized self or intrinsic individuality. Important in this Capricorn process of Venus will be the removal of guilt associations from our past conditioning, so that we can freely express our emotional needs without restriction or fear of rejection or judgment.
In the story of Psyche and Eros, I feel that Psyche’s time in the castle of Eros was like a time spent in a Capricorn structure of her conditioned societal needs- having great wealth, overflowing food and luxury, and erotic sex every night. When she leaves the structure Eros secretly created to express his desire for her without claiming his own inner authority to defy his mother Aphrodite, Psyche is thrown into trials and tribulations that open her to her deepest emotions and vulnerability, not unlike a journey into the Cancer polarity of Capricorn. More than once Psyche overflows with emotion and vulnerability near water, and learns to express her needs to her environment while also surrendering herself to an allowing of what life is bringing to her. To me, there is an emotional integrity and emotional authenticity she gains that is not unlike the Queen of Cups in the tarot. In fact, while contemplating this article I have had a few images come to mind of a Queen of Cups tarot card integrating the image of Psyche overcoming her trials and tribulations through psychic sensitivity and emotional authenticity.
This brings us to the astrological meaning of the Psyche asteroid, which Demetra George has viewed as “a higher octave of Venus, expressing a refinement of personal love and psychic attunement to another” (George, p. 188). According to Demetra, when we follow the path of Psyche we find that “conscious relationship provides a path to spiritual illumination,” and in our birth charts the Psyche asteroid symbolizes our “capacity for psychic sensitivity to the mind and feelings of another person” (George, p. 188). In contrast, Demetra has viewed the Eros asteroid as representing “passionate desire” and the “masculine sexual force . . . and generative masculine power which brought the world into creation” (George, p. 189). If you do not like ascribing the term masculine to Eros, in remembrance of the original multi-gender nature of this deity, I do feel it is important to associate Eros much more with an active yang energy in interpretation more so than the receptive yin energy embodied by Psyche. Demetra also has described Eros as a “higher octave of Mars,” and that he symbolizes “one’s passion, sexual attraction, sexual preference, and vital energy . . . the need to continuously recreate the excitement of falling in and being in love” (George, p. 189).
This idea of Psyche being a higher octave of Venus and Eros a higher octave of Mars makes them even more significant to the current astrological climate with regards to the transit of the lunar nodes. Currently we are finishing the transit of the South Node of the Moon in Taurus, ruled by the transiting Venus in Capricorn that has now gone retrograde. At the same time we are concluding the transit of the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio, ruled in traditional astrology by transiting Mars that is currently in Libra. In February of 2014 we will have a transition of lunar nodes to the South Node of the Moon entering the sign of Aries, meaning that the transiting Mars in Libra will become the ruler of the transiting South Node, as the North Node of the Moon enters the sign of Libra (it will even do this conjunct Mars in Libra) meaning that Venus will become the ruler of the transiting North Node. Not long after this transition, Mars will station retrograde, so we end up with a phenomenon with this transition of lunar nodes with the ruler of the South Node, first Venus and then Mars, being retrograde. If that did not completely confuse you, it means in part a heightened intensity of processing past patterns in all of our relationships, including our inner relationship with our Self and how this is projected outward in our relationships.
Finally, I want to include a few astrology charts to point out where exactly the Psyche and Eros asteroids have been in the context of the greater whole. Below is a chart for the December Solstice of 2013, the same day that Venus stationed retrograde, the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. When looking at this chart, you can place Eros at roughly six degrees of Scorpio and Psyche at twenty-eight degrees of Capricorn:
As you can see, therefore, exactly when Venus stationed retrograde on the Winter Solstice of 2013 in full-expression of the Sea-Goat, at the very end of Capricorn, she did so with Psyche conjunct the Sun and Mercury at their mid-point, with Eros conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio. Electrifying the intensity of Venus at this time was the catalyst planet Uranus stationing direct a few days earlier at the height of a Full Moon aligned with the Galactic Center. At this time of the December 17 Full Moon, the Psyche asteroid was conjunct the Sun by one degree at 26 Sagitarius, at the same time also conjunct the Galactic Center. At this Full Moon the asteroid Eros was conjunct the North Node of the Moon by four degrees, at 3 degrees of Scorpio. And so began the forty day journey of Venus carrying the sacred fool energy of Uranus into the underworld, an expedition that will take us from the Solstice all the way to our next cross-quarter holy day of Candlemas on January 31 when Venus will station direct conjunct Psyche and Pluto and in opposition to Jupiter. At this time of Venus stationing direct, it is fascinating that the Eros asteroid will have entered the sign of Sagitarius and will be in a significant square to Neptune in Pisces- this aspect relates to experiences or reflections that ultimately will help us liberate ourselves from conditioned romantic patterns of our personal and collective past.
Finally, I will end with the chart of the potent New Moon occurring on January 1, 2014 that ushers in the year of 2014 with a Cardinal Grand Cross that will have a huge influence on events of the next year. You can place the Psyche asteroid into this chart at roughly three degrees of Capricorn, widely conjunct the New Moon and widely square to Uranus, and more closely in trine to the South Node of the Moon in Taurus. You can place Eros into this chart at roughly fifteen degrees of Scorpio, in trine to Jupiter and the true node of Black Moon Lilith in Cancer, and more widely in trine to Chiron in Pisces. Eros at this time is entering into a conjunction with Saturn in Scorpio that significantly will become exact around the time of the inferior conjunction of Venus and the Sun around January 11, 2014:
This New Moon is all the more powerful because another figure who has more experience descending to the underworld and ascending back to the upper-world, Mercury, will be conjunct both the New Moon and Pluto, widely also conjunct Psyche. Mercury at this time is still combust the Sun having just experienced his superior conjunction with the Sun- he is moving so fast, so close to the Sun from our perspective, that we may be flooded with so much information it may be difficult to process the insights occurring at this time. However, powerful insight into the deep nature of our Self is available at this time. This is an incredibly opportune moment to clear what needs clearing from our past, and to set intentions for our future to step onto our authentic path like Psyche. Eros awaits us.
George, Demetra with Bloch, Douglas. (1986). Asteroid Goddesses. ACS.
Green, Jeff. (2009). Pluto Volume II: The Soul’s Evolution through Relationships. The Wessex Astrologer.
Hillman, James. (1960). The Myth of Analysis: Three Essays in Archetypal Psychology. Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd.
Tarnas, Richard. (March 2012). Lecture on Astrology, Synchronicity and Romantic Love. Washington State Astrological Association.
Chiron stationed retrograde at 14 degrees Pisces on June 17, 2013.
Chiron and Neptune have been widely conjunct during the first half of 2013 in Pisces, and will remain together within a wider orb of nine degrees for the next year. Chiron and Neptune began their current cycle in 2009 when they were exactly conjunct at 27 degrees of Aquarius.
Neptune in Pisces is trine Saturn in Scorpio and both are retrograde. Saturn will be the first to station direct on July 7, 2013.
Mercury will station retrograde on June 26 conjunct Venus in Cancer. Mercury will station direct on July 19 at 14 degrees Cancer in trine to Chiron in Pisces.
Chiron is the teacher and the healer of our inner Hero, the guide to our Hero’s journey. It is common to limit discussion of Chiron in astrological circles as “the wounded healer,” and while there is truth to that statement, there is also more to Chiron than a healer with a wound. The Chiron archetype will be an important guide for us during the Summer of 2013 in between the Pluto-Uranus square of May 2013 and the upcoming square of November 2013. There is a fascinating connection between Chiron and the current Pluto-Uranus cycle because in the mid-1960s when Pluto and Uranus were conjunct in Virgo, Chiron was not only in Pisces, it was in the same vicinity of Pisces as it is now.
Just as the square between Pluto and Uranus connects the current time period with events of the 1960s when Pluto and Uranus were conjunct, so does the transit of Chiron in Pisces. There was even a grand water trine in 1966 when Pluto and Uranus were in range of being conjunct and Chiron was in Pisces, with Jupiter in Cancer, Saturn in Pisces, and Neptune in Scorpio. Although this 1966 trine had seven degrees separating Scorpio Neptune from Pisces Saturn and Cancer Jupiter, and so not nearly as significant as the grand water trine happening this Summer with the Pluto-Uranus square happening, it is still a fascinating parallel of the same planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune) being in the three water signs, with Chiron strongly in Pisces amid an intense aspect between Pluto and Uranus. In the Autumn of 1966 Chiron was conjunct Saturn in Pisces: it’s interesting to ponder how differences between the mid to late 1960s and our current time period could correspond to the differences between Saturn in Pisces with Neptune in Scorpio from Saturn in Scorpio with Neptune in Pisces. Although there is more and more talk of the Age of Aquarius, we really are still in the Age of Pisces today. The idea of an approaching Age of Aquarius first took hold of mass consciousness in a big way in the 1960s when Pluto and Uranus were conjunct in Virgo, and during this time period in which they were in range of a conjunction in Virgo, Chiron at times was in range of an opposition to their alignment in the sign of Pisces. Now that Chiron has returned to this same area of Pisces as the first quarter square between Pluto and Uranus is occurring from that alignment, it makes me think of Chiron in Pisces being a very important archetype in the shift of the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius.
Chiron in Pisces today is holding more harmonious aspects to the Pluto-Uranus intensity, forming a sextile to Pluto in Capricorn and a semi-sextile to Uranus in Aries. This time period of collective upheaval can be viewed in large extent through the socially liberating energy of Uranus in Aries being in conflict with the energy of Pluto in Capricorn, which has a shadow side of control and manipulation from the dominating power structure. With Neptune, the planet of illusion, being in the sign of Pisces that can also connect with illusion, it brings the potential for the dominating power structure to attempt to use Neptunian illusions in order to ward off the force of collective liberation that could come with the Uranus in Aries energy. In the recent news cycle in the USA for example, we can see the veil of our national media removed and that our major news services are commiserate with the power structure as they attempt to spin the coverage of the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden away from an investigation into the actual issue into more of a criminality case against Snowden. In general, all one has to do is turn on cable television or pick up a copy of a product of the national corporate “journalism” services to find a gluttony of superficial coverage of celebrity scandals, arguments between political “adversaries” that are not even offering solutions to argue about, and other gossip more than investigative coverage of any of the actually important news events occurring. It is further interesting that in the USA we have a Pisces Chiron in the White House, as President Obama has a Chiron in Pisces and experienced his Chiron return during his re-election to his second term in office. It doesn’t take of course an astrology analysis of Chiron to realize President Obama is facing and incredibly complex, intense, wounding, and karmic situation at the moment as being the figurehead leader of the USA during current events, but it is a further interesting astrological layer of the current situation to observe.
On a personal level, the societal upheaval on an economic, political, and structural level has the potential to increase fear and anxiety within individuals, making each person more open to being manipulated on an unconscious level by power players in control of media and mass distribution of information. This has been especially the case during the last year with Chiron and Neptune conjunct in Pisces, because these archetypes combined magnetise the issues of duality connected with the Pisces archetype that has been such a strong influence during the Age of Pisces. This duality is connected to the symbolism of the two fish connected by a silvery cord, one fish standing for the “lower nature” of our ego personalities, the other fish standing for the “higher nature” of our Soul that incarnated into our current form.
One reason Pisces have the stereotype applied to them of being addicts and escapists is that it can be even harder for Pisceans than others to escape awareness of their Soul, no matter how much they try to hide from it through drugs and other various escapist activities. Pisces is also often the target of the “victim” and “martyr” labels, and again this can come from a sense of their timeless Soul nature that can lead to an illusory perception of being trapped in their physical form on the planet, with so many difficult and destructive forces surrounding them in three dimensional consensus reality. And so while Pisces energy can go along with feeling a sense of connection to Soul, it also has the duality of a sense of separation from Soul and Source, which further increases Piscean tendencies for illusionary pursuits that further contribute to a sense of separation from Source, Spirit, God, . . . This is one area in which Chiron, a half human and half animal grounded in the physical earth plane, can help us shift our perspective toward seeing the magic around us in our physical form and environment, and that everything we are experiencing and seeing also is connected with the same divine Source.
The previous conjunction cycle between Chiron and Neptune in the 20th Century occurred during great world calamity, toward the end of World War II after the United States of America dropped atomic bombs on Japan to force a surrender (September of 1945 at 6 degrees of Libra). Chiron and Neptune’s latest cycle began in 2009 when they were conjunct at 27 degrees of Aquarius, another period of global conflict that had some connections to the global power status the United States of America claimed during the previous conjunction between Chiron and Neptune. Many astrologers connected the conjunction between Chiron and Neptune toward the end of Aquarius with the Age of Aquarius that could be felt approaching at a distance, but a further interesting connection with this section of the zodiac and Neptune is that Neptune was discovered in 1846 when it was at 25 degrees of Aquarius, and Saturn was also at 25 degrees of Aquarius at the same time. Neptune being discovered when it was conjunct Saturn points to the importance of bridging the two archetypes in order to gain a stronger grasp of Neptunian energies, and Chiron is one of our strongest guides and mediators between the energy of our personal and collective Saturn and Neptune archetypes.
The connection between Chiron, Saturn, and Neptune has been handed down to us through myth, long before the technology of astronomers were able to locate the outer celestial bodies. Chiron is the son of Kronus in Greek myth, so he is literally the son of Saturn just like Neptune, Jupiter, and Pluto. Chiron’s link to Neptune, however, goes much farther back than merely sharing the same father. Chiron is literally a matriarchal descendant of an ocean deity even more primordial than Neptune: Oceanus. Chiron’s mother was a sea nymph named Philyra who was not only the daughter of Oceanus, according to some accounts she was the second oldest of all the sea nymphs that were borne from Oceanus. Saturn/Kronus became consumed with desire for Philyra, and in some versions transformed himself into a stallion in order to chase her, and in other accounts after forcing himself upon her sexually, he transformed himself into a stallion in order to disguise himself when he was discovered ravaging her body by his wife, Rhea.
In all mythic versions, this coupling of Saturn as a stallion with the sea nymph Philyra is how the birth of Chiron, half man and half horse, occurred on Mount Pelion. One of the first wounds of Chiron occurred by him being spurned by his parents for his unorthodox, animalistic form, and he stayed on Mt. Pelion as somewhat of a recluse, one of the original wise hermits in the cave. Furthermore, there is an even deeper link between Chiron and the ocean realm, because Chiron eventually took another sea nymph as his lover and partner, Chariclo, who was the grand-daughter of Neptune. Thus Chiron is both the son and the lover of water goddesses, and has as a result a stronger feel for Piscean energy than may be expected without exploring his myth.
The special sense Chiron embodies for the water element and in being a skilled mediator between the energies of Neptune and Saturn is of supreme importance in this moment, as Saturn in Scorpio is moving retrograde in trine to Neptune in Pisces, Jupiter is entering the sign of Cancer, and Mercury and Venus remain conjunct in Cancer. We can draw upon the Chiron archetype to help us activate the harmonious potential of the developing water trine aspect, as trines in astrology do not guarantee harmonious events and can in fact coincide with lethargy if we do not consciously activate them. There will be a lot of retrograde energy in water signs before Saturn stations direct in a couple of weeks on July 7, since Chiron and Neptune are retrograde in Pisces, Saturn is retrograde in Scorpio, and Mercury is stationing retrograde in Cancer.
With all of the watery energy and a powerful water trine to Neptune in its own sign of Pisces, we will have to be especially careful of escapist pursuits or illusions leading us to separate from our higher self or our connection to Source/Spirit. Chiron in Pisces carries this wound of connection to Spirit within it’s archetypes, and so at this time Chiron can help guide us to finding ways to connect with Spirit through healing techniques that can help us consciously move our higher self down through our body. With Saturn in Scorpio, we will have to be willing to face some deep aspects of ourselves, including shadow sides we may previously have been in denial of, if we want to authentically make our beings more whole in this way- but remember how Pisces Chiron is a perfect mediator between Scorpio Saturn, Pisces Neptune, and Cancer Jupiter. If we can ground in this manner, we will have an opportunity to evolve ourselves and our growth forward by following our own unique path and our special gifts and talents that may not typically fit in with the dominant culture. Chiron was the trainer of heroes and the guide in their hero’s journey, and so by developing and following through with practices at this time, such as creating time and a schedule for a daily journal practice, creative art practice, meditative practice, yoga practice, physical exercise practice of any sort . . . we can create structures to express the deep desires and emotions that could arise at this time.
The retrograde connection between Chiron and Mercury will remain of great significance in the next month, as Mercury will station retrograde on June 26 and then station on July 19 at 14 degrees of Cancer in trine to Chiron. After the upcoming retrograde movement of Mercury finishes when it stations in trine to Chiron next month, we may gain a greater ability to manifest tangible results of visions we planted back in February of 2013 when Mercury was in Pisces and conjunct Mars, Neptune, and Chiron. Aspects of the vision brewing inside us have been triggered in this recent time period, as Mars in Gemini has been in square to Chiron at the same time Chiron stationed retrograde. The full dates are as follows:
Around February 8, 2013 Mercury was conjunct Mars at 5 degrees Pisces and also conjunct Chiron at 7 degrees and Neptune at 3 degrees of Pisces. In the following days, first Mercury and then Mars became exactly conjunct Chiron in Pisces.
Around May 21, 2013 Mercury was conjunct Venus in Gemini and square to Chiron at 14 degrees of Pisces. This square happened immediately following an exact square between Capricorn Pluto and Aries Uranus.
Around June 10, 2013 Mercury was conjunct Venus in Cancer and in trine to Chiron in Pisces.
Around June 19, 2013 Mars in Gemini formed a square with Chiron in Pisces as Chiron stationed retrograde at 14 degrees of Pisces.
These aspects between Mercury, Mars, and Chiron have been significant for everyone but especially anyone with planets or key chart aspects in mutable signs from zero to fifteen degrees or so (Gemini, Sagitarius, Virgo, Pisces). We may have had trouble recently finding a way to rationally understand our perceptions or sense of phenomenon in our dreams or waking states that do not fit into the neat categories of linear and rational thought aspired to by the dominant culture. We also may have been having difficulty communicating our experiences in a way that can be understood clearly by others, and with Mercury about to move retrograde we may need to let go of attachment to being understood and instead focus on understanding for ourselves what is happening inside of us.
The flood of emotions and extrasensory perception we could have been experiencing connected with Chiron and Neptune in Pisces could be better understood by withdrawing from external influences into the metaphorical cave of Chiron, but if we have been tapped into media sources of the dominant culture during this time or a participant in social media sites and sources, we instead would have been overwhelmed by a deluge of information thrown at us by authorities of all sorts, from genuine experts, to culturally appointed experts, to self-proclaimed experts utilizing the Internet to self-publish their thoughts. There have also been revolutions breaking out on the global stage in places as diverse as Turkey and Brazil during this time period, and while in the larger context these events correlate more with the square between Uranus and Pluto than personal planet aspects to Chiron, it is still important to consider Chiron was being aspected at the same time. In these revolutionary events the liberating force of individuals using social media to cover the news has been helpful as these events have had relatively small amounts of coverage by major news services. For example, I am fortunate to have a friend in Turkey through which I was able to gain access to a lot of images and news coverage of events there through his social media profile.
However we have been triggered by this flood of feelings and information recently, though, most likely is connected to important Soul work or issues for us to face. A perfect example of how to use the heroic gift of Pisces Chiron at this time is Texas state Senator Wendy Davis, who is going through a Chiron return at the moment with a natal Chiron at fourteen degrees of Pisces, and is engaging in an attempt to pull off an all-day filibuster in the Texas state Senate to single-handedly prevent a passage of a controversial abortion bill that the Governor had to call a special session to attempt to pull-off in the first place. Her North Node of the Moon is also conjunct the current placement of Mercury in Cancer, and Mars in Gemini is square her natal Chiron, so her chart is being strongly aspected by the Chiron-Mars-Mercury cycle as she takes her heroic stand. Chiron does provide the sort of gift we can pull up from deep within ourselves at a time of crisis, and achieve success and rewards against all odds.
Similarly, the grand water trine we will experience this Summer between Neptune in Pisces, Saturn in Scorpio, and Jupiter in Cancer has the potential for euphoric and magical experiences, as well as the potential to coincide with watery chaos and emotional crises- however, if we can access our source of Chiron strength we can make heroic strides forward no matter what happens. Paying attention to the Chiron archetype and how his retrograde movement through Pisces can correlate to opportunities for us to take charge of our own heroic journey will be helpful.
Guru of Plants, Planets, and Spirit
Chiron in myth held the role of a guru of the heavens and the earth, as he was a teacher, trainer, and healer who was skilled in hunting, martial arts, gymnastics, music, medicine, herbalism, astrology, and the arts of prophecy, to name but a few of his talents. He was a master of channeling divine energy through these outlets, similar to a yogic or qi gong master, shaman, or a musician on the highest level of divine expression through their art. Chiron is a guide to the connection of our mind, body, and spirit because he understood the divine source of everything on our planet. He was an herbalist who was well-versed in medicinal uses and applications of plant beings, and he was also an astrologer who was well-versed in the medicine of the stars and their movements and interactions. Chiron lived from a sense of everything being connected to Source and Spirit, so stands as a teacher for us that our conflicts with life are often connected to our struggles with the external forms of matter in our environment, but that if we open our perception to the awareness that all of these forms we may struggle with also have the same divine Source as we do, we can persist in merging with love through all of our difficulties and help others in their own struggles as well.
The celestial body of Chiron was discovered on November 1, 1977 and it has been theorized by many astrologers that since that time we have had a greater capacity to connect our mind, body, and spirit as a collective species. The Saturn connection to Chiron is interesting because Saturn was at the very end of Leo when Chiron was discovered, so brings an energy of the culmination of the Leo hero’s journey to the Chiron birth chart. In Evolutionary Astrology, astrologer Rose Marcus has connected the significance of Chiron to “peak experiences” in our lifetime as well as the deep past life history of our Soul that are connected to our special destiny, legacy, and path. I saw her lecture on Chiron at the 2012 Evolutionary Astrology Conference, in which she described how Chiron carries a dense magnetic frequency that correlates with our most significant and lucid memories, how the Chiron archetype will be involved in our own peak experiences, and how we can also be a catalyst for activating other people’s key issues when we step into our own Chiron archetype. Rose explained that Chiron can connect with our wounding issues that have been repeating and devastating across lifetimes, but at the same time Chiron can also correlate with extraordinary resources we can find within ourselves to face the tests and challenges of our journey. In this way, Rose connected Chiron to the Virgo and Sixth house archetypes in the Evolutionary Astrology paradigm because of Chiron guiding us to use our crises as vehicles for our own growth.
Barbara Hand Clow, who wrote the pioneering and definitive classic text on Chiron, Chiron: Rainbow Bridge Between the Inner and Outer Planets, also connected Chiron with the Sixth House and the Virgo archetype. There is also an interesting connection between Saturn and Chiron with the Virgo archetype in the time period that Chiron entered astrological awareness as a distinct celestial body, because although Chiron was discovered when Saturn was at the very end of Leo, after a couple of weeks following the discovery Saturn shifted into Virgo. As a result, most people born in the period following the discovery of Chiron, meaning the first people born who have a higher potential ability to integrate the lessons of the Chiron archetype, were born with Saturn in Virgo. Fittingly enough, this group of Souls went through their first Saturn return just in time for these cataclysmic times of the Pluto-Uranus square, again giving them a better chance to access the gifts of Chiron to help all of us on the planet at this time.
Virgo is the polarity to Pisces, and an important archetype to help understand how to access the gifts of the Chiron archetype at any time, but especially now with Chiron and Neptune in Pisces. One way Chiron can help everyone better understand their own connection to the Pisces archetype through Virgo is by making the famous “silvery cord” connecting the two fish of Pisces more tangible and conscious. One fish of Pisces of course represents the personality side of ourselves, while the other fish represents our Soul nature- they are connected in Pisces irrevocably through a silver cord, which is why Pisceans can never escape the challenges of our personality connection to our Souls and Source discussed earlier. Alan Oken gave a concise description of the deep esoteric significance Virgo brings to this aspect of the Pisces archetype in his book Soul Centered Astrology: A Key to Your Expanding Self:
The string is the symbol of the Antahkarana- the silvery cord linking the personality and the Soul, the darkness and the Light. It is formulated out of the substance of the mental plane, thus requiring the discriminating focus of Virgo and Mercury in its construction. Once the Antahkarana/Rainbow Bridge is forged, one can then traverse the various planes and fields of consciousness and not lose one’s way. This is the Thread of the Warrior/Disciple, who goes forth in the act of self-sacrifice, in order to do battle for the unfolding purpose of the Plan.
–Alan Oken, Soul Centered Astrology (p. 243)
The Mercurial functions of discrimination and discernment can be developed into sharper focus for us at this time, even with Mercury stationing retrograde, through practice and daily ritual. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and other forms of spiritual practice are Virgo techniques similar to spiritual practices of the Chiron of myth, and can be helpful tools for us in this flooded time of Piscean emotional currents. Since there have been a series of squares to Chiron in Pisces from the sign of Gemini, with Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, and Mars all moving through Gemini in square to Chiron this past Spring, we may have been distracted with a busy and hectic schedule or a mass of information to process in some way. However, even closing our eyes and meditating or just breathing with intention for ten or fifteen minutes, whatever we can manage, can be extremely helpful in this upcoming time period.
The vast expanse of knowledge held by Chiron is interesting considering how in this upcoming Summer, Jupiter will move into a trine apect through Cancer with Chiron (especially toward the end of July through August of 2013) giving us an opportunity to draw upon knowledge and resources found in recent challenges to propel us forward. This aspect is in stark contrast to what had been happening this past year, as from July 0f 2012 through April of 2013, Jupiter was in Gemini and in a square aspect to Chiron in Pisces. This square could have been felt in part by how our psychic sensitivities are impacted by the flood of information we can be bombarded with when connected to modern technology and social media platforms. On the one hand the social media outlets are liberating because anyone can start writing and publishing their thoughts on a blog, but on the other hand this liberation can be overwhelming when trying to sift through the sheer volume of information for what to focus on with the time available.
With Mercury about to station into a retrograde motion, developing and practicing techniques that will help guide us toward greater discernment with our intuition will be helpful for us finding our unique path to follow at this time. Most likely significant opportunities will present themselves, so it will be up to us to make choices aligned with our highest intention for the highest good for ourselves and other beings. If we have experienced crises or wounding during this past year of Jupiter in Gemini squaring Chiron in Pisces, or simply confusion over which direction to follow, through our own self-care, healing, and giving and receiving of love with others we will be entering a time in which we can find a gift or special skill to take from past turmoil.
The conflict between Jupiter in Gemini and Chiron in Pisces that happened this past year has its own divine source in the ancient myths of Greece. Jupiter and Chiron have had their issues before our day:
Entering the Cave of Chiron
Thetis was a sea nymph of great importance in ancient times. In some versions she is not given greater importance than her description of being a sea nymph, but other mythic researchers have found evidence that in ancient times she was much more important and an integral manifestation of the Great Goddess. She is widely known as the mother of Achilles, who gave her son to Chiron to raise and draw out his special skills and capacities. There was a prophecy regarding the greatness of the son of Thetis that made Zeus afraid that her offspring could dethrone him as he had dethroned his own father. Zeus helped arrange a marriage between Thetis and a mortal, Peleus, and their wedding happened outside the cave of Chiron on Mt. Pelion and was attended by most of the deities. However, one was not invited who goes by the name of Eris, and so this wedding outside the cave of Chiron is the scene upon which Eris threw her golden apple out of vengeance, an action that ultimately led to the decision of Paris and the Trojan War.
The cave of Chiron being the scene of the source of the vengeful desire of Eris is a core wound of our collective culture. I remember being in an 8th Grade English class near Atlanta, Georgia in the USA in which we analyzed this mythic scene, and it seems to still be a widespread mythic scene in our collective educational backgrounds if you are from a “Western” influenced or culturally dominated background. It’s also a wound we as astrology students and teachers need to figure out in a Chiron manner, as Eris is the a recent addition to our astrological paradigm and her full meaning is still being worked out by astrologers.
The cave of Chiron is an apt symbol for the training ground of our hero’s journey, as Chiron was famous for training the most praised heroes of ancient myth, having the ability to draw attention to their unique talents and help them develop their natural gifts into extraordinary strengths that would help them persist through unfathomable difficulties that became the stuff of legend. Chiron was not only the trainer of warrior heroes, however, but also medicinal ones. Asclepius, considered to be the mythic master of medicine, was his most famous pupil in the healing arts, and so Chiron in this way is also considered to be a father of medicine and surgical practices. The mind-body-spirit connection of Chiron is evident in the holistic healing practices associated with Asclepius, which included patients going to sleep in special chambers in which the act of dreaming itself healed their wounds, or at other times the healing could be helped through dream interpretation made by healers trained in the methodology of Asclepius.
We enter the cave of Chiron whenever we enter a space in which we have the opportunity for self-transformation, healing, and gaining greater awareness and access to special skills and resources we have to offer the world. If we have ever been in a classroom with a powerful teacher who struck us on a deep level to our core, we have been in the cave of Chiron. Being a teacher is one of the most obvious outlets for Chiron energy, and this connection was illuminated in literature by John Updike in his novel The Centaur, in which he used myth in the way of James Joyce by re-telling the story of Chiron through a novel about a public school teacher in a mid-twentieth century small rural town in the USA. In this novel Updike also integrates the mythic connection between Chiron and Prometheus, and as I haven’t mentioned this widely commented upon connection yet in this article, allow me to remind you that another time Chiron mediated a conflict involving Jupter was when he gave of his own immortality in order to release Prometheus from the bondage of being punished by Jupiter for giving fire to humanity. As there are some versions of myth in which Prometheus is actually the creator of humanity, Chiron giving of himself to release a deity who in some myths is responsible for the creation of humanity and in others is the source of our knowledge of fire and all of the creativity that followed, is profound and is not unlike an action of a Christ figure. The fact that Chiron was drawn to do this in part because of being tormented by the pain of being an immortal who was struck by a poisoned arrow of Hercules, is one of the main reasons why the Chiron archetype has become associated with being a wounded healer for our humanity.
As is often the case, when an archetype like Chiron is prominent, other archetypes that connect with similar themes will also become prominent, and that is certainly the case right now. Lilith is another popular symbol of our wounding and in the larger context something Chiron could be holding space for us. The triple goddess aspects of Lilith in astrology are all going through significant transits right now:
Original Lilith (asteroid #1181) is currently at 13 degrees Gemini and so is square to Chiron as well as recently conjunct Mars.
Dark Moon Lilith (hypothetical celestial body) is moving through Cancer in range of being conjunct Mercury, Venus, and Vesta at the moment. At the time of the Summer Solstice it was opposite Pluto in Capricorn and in square to Uranus in Aries.
Black Moon Lilith, the Resolution Lilith (an energy vortex that is the “other” focal point of the Moon’s ellipitical orbit besides Earth) is at 6 degrees of Cancer and so is also in range of being in a T-Square with Pluto and Uranus, and was also strongly aspected by the Full Moon on June 23.
Demetra George in Finding Our Way Through the Dark gave a widely used description of these three phases of Lilith, in which the asteroid Lilith “describes the first stage of Lilith’s mythical journey where she is suppressed, humiliated, and flees in a fiery rage to the desolate wilderness,” the Dark Moon Lilith “depicts the pain of her exile where she plots and executes her revenge,” and the Black Moon Lilith “shows how she transmutes her distorted image back into its natural healthy expression” (p. 92). The fact the original Lilith has been squaring Chiron and was recently conjunct Mars could correlate with a core wound being activated in our psyche, and yet the healer side of the Chiron archetype is also present with Lilith at this time as the resolution aspect, the Black Moon Lilith, is also being strongly activated now.
And as if these intense aspects involving Lilith isn’t enough, there are also some fascinating transits occurring now that involve asteroid Goddesses associated with the Soul, working with the Soul, healing and retrieval of our Soul:
Isisis conjunct Uranus in Aries and so is square to Pluto in Capricorn.
Persephone is conjunct Saturn in Scorpio and in trine to Neptune in Pisces. Persephone has now stationed direct after moving retrograde conjunct the North Node of the Moon and Saturn in Scorpio this past Spring.
Psyche is also in Scorpio and moving retrograde conjunct the North Node of the Moon.
my friends, I have not written an article about Psyche . . . yet. However, there are a lot of resources available regarding her story to investigate.
In totality all of these transits involving such powerful feminine archetypes of the Soul mean that this is an incredibly deep time period of huge feelings and experiences. To me, one of the greatest tools we can use at this time, again keeping the archetype of Chiron in mind as a guide, is to create a practice of Art to move the energy.
Chiron holds the Art of our wounds
One of the connections between the Chiron archetype and the archetype of the artist can be seen in the following quote from an art review I found in The Chicago Reader about the above watercolor by Gustave Moreau from 1890, Dead Poet Borne by a Centaur:
The centaur often symbolizes Dionysian violence and intoxication, and here he bears the dead poet in his arms. Some have interpreted this image not as the union of warring opposites, however, but as a pessimistic reflection on the artist’s lot in modern times. As turn-of-the-century writer Ary Renan said about this work: “How many have perished without funerals at the bottom of solitary streams? To be sure, sometimes a charitable centaur gathers up the victim.
Chiron as a wounded healer archetype certainly connects him with all of the great artists throughout time who put all of their heart and soul into their art, posthumously inspiring a large audience drawn to the specific quality of their art, and facilitating healing for many people who could draw strength and compassion for themselves through experiencing their creative work. And yet the wound for these artists was that in the actual time-frame of their existence they often lived through pain and torment, lacking an audience or material rewards for their work. However, no matter what difficulty some of these artists could have experienced in their material life, through the act of creating their art they could reach a blissful state that would be it’s own reward. Moreover, the gift of healing and inspiration such artists leave for those with similar sensibilities to find and gain strength to continue on their own unique path is incalculable and has deep resonance with the quality of wounded healing associated with Chiron.
During these intense karmic times, we can work with our Chiron wounding through expressing our feelings through art and releasing the energy in the process. Unfortunately, for many of us the actual creation of art can be one of our Chironic wounds, and so we tend to hold ourselves back from creating. A beautiful book to work with during this time if you have not already is Julie Cameron’s The Artist’s Way in which she provides activities and questions to help the reader break out of any restrictive writer’s or artist’s blocks limiting their ability to express themselves. One of the basic techniques of the book is a daily journaling activity in which after waking up in the morning you write three pages of writing as quickly as possible, thinking about it as little as possible. It is amazing what can start to open up for you as you engage in this practice. I also like this book because Cameron connects the creation of Art with it being a spiritual practice: “We are, ourselves, creations,” she writes, “And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.” Her central theme in the book is that by opening ourselves up to our own creativity, we open ourselves to a greater connection with Spirit and the capacity to develop our unique gifts and live the full potential of our lives some of us merely dream of instead of actually actualizing. This lesson that making the creation of art a daily practice, habit, and ritual in our lives will open up a greater spiritual dimension and holistic feeling of healing in our lives is a very Chironic lesson to me. Any practice you can develop for yourself at this time that will provide an outlet for your sense of Spirit and expression of creativity will bring a smile to the face of Chiron and will be good medicine for your Soul.
Whenever Mercury enters the sign of Gemini as it did on 5/15/13, it is thought of as Mercury returning “home,” since Mercury rules Gemini. Yet this is even more true according to myth, as Hermes is the son of the Pleiadian sister Maia (the Pleiades are seven sisters in Greek Myth), and the Pleiades star constellation is located at the end of Taurus and the beginning of Gemini in the zodiac. Thus, every time Mercury heads into Gemini, he is coming home to his mother and aunts, as the Pleiades bridge Taurus and Gemini, and the main star of the Pleiades, Alcyone, is located at 0-1 degrees Gemini. However, there is even more reason to honor the Pleiades right now than the fact that Mercury has come home to them in the zodiac, as the Pleiades star constellation is being hit with a lot of major transits connected with eclipses. During the recent Solar Eclipse on May 9, Venus was moving across the Pleiades star constellation, with the Moon soon to be conjunct Venus and the Pleiades on May 10, 2013. Furthermore, on May 15 today Mercury is currently conjunct the Pleiades and in range of a conjunction with Venus, en route to being exactly conjunct Venus at 19 degrees Gemini on May 24 (Mercury-Venus will also be four degrees away from Jupiter at this time). When Mercury and Venus are conjunct on May 24, there will also be a Lunar Eclipse occurring in which the Sun will be conjunct the Pleiades by four degrees, and the Moon will be opposite the Pleiades. If that isn’t enough intense Pleiadian energy for you, the Sun will be conjunct the Pleiades on May 20 when we will have another exact square between Pluto and Uranus. So much Pleiadian energy being stirred up in between two eclipses is fitting, because in between these eclipses we have entered a vortex of time and space out of which deep change can manifest in our life, and the visual of the mesmerizing star constellation of the Pleiades in the night sky looks like a spiral vortex we could transport ourselves through. When the Pleiades came in with the recent Solar Eclipse through Venus transiting it at the same time as the eclipse, my astrology teacher Rosie Finn wrote the following interpretation for 5/10/13 in her monthly newsletter, Plants and Planets:
The Pleiades are so good at teaching us how to live a beautiful life on this planet, how to love and enjoy life, how to get the most out of our trip here and how to evolve just enough to stay and just enough to not feel stuck here. The world is full of possibility and there is abundance- in this world at this time and it is accessible to us, when we vibrate with abundance possibility, open our inner eyes to see, and can recognize the resonance of our true longing in alignment with that which matches that longing in the world.
–Rosie Finn, Plants and Planets, May 2013
I still remember the first time I was struck by the beauty of the Pleiades, in a starry night sky above the Appalachian aka Blue Ridge mountains of Georgia in the Southeast USA. There is something alluring and magical about the shape of this spiral constellation to the human eye, and it does have a strong resonance with human beings as the Pleiades have been channelled into books by a number of authors, including the Pleiadian Agenda by astrologer Barbara Hand Clow. Clow in this book describes the bond and connection between the Pleiades and Earth as resulting from a karmic obligation initiated by Pleiadian entities in ancient times on Earth, and this is similar to other channelled work in the sense of the Pleiades being able to have a direct connection with human beings. In many interpretations of Pleiades energy, as in the passage above by Rosie Finn, the Pleiades are described as having an energy that resonates with life on earth for humans and has wise beneficial guidance for how humans can survive and thrive on a higher level on this planet. As in the quote above, this resonance is often described in terms of aligning the desires of Taurus with the thoughts and expressions of Gemini, aligning our minds and bodies so that we are more truly in alignment with what we want to truly manifest in our lives, and being mindful of the vibration we are emanating with our being. According to many authors, the Pleiades hold the belief that we can manifest abundance in our lives through our intention and vibration, as well as communicate with one another instantly and telepathically without the use of cell phones or instant messaging (cell phones and instant messaging serving as signs revealing our actual potential in this case). The Pleiades are also here to help spark and facilitate human evolution according to many of the channelling authors, and so to me this connects them with the Esoteric Astrology development of the sign of Gemini from a subjective mind relating others to self, through a more objective mind that is able to relate the self to others, and ultimately to a wholistic mind that is able to relate the One (Spirit/Source/God) to self and to others, synthesizing “lower” mind issues to serve the “higher” mind (Oken, p. 177).
It would be wise to keep in mind that the Pleiades will be associated with one of the most intense and significant astrological events of this time period on May 20, 2013 when the Sun will be conjunct the Pleiades at the same time that Pluto and Uranus will be in an exact square aspect. This will be the third of seven squares between Pluto and Uranus (from June 24, 2012 until April 4, 2015), and so has been associated with third chakra issues by many astrologers, including my astrology teacher Rosie Finn who believes it will connect with us aligning our personal Will with divine Will. Some Third Chakra issues from Anodea Judith’s book Eastern Body Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self that could be helpful to keep in mind at this time are as follows (p. 166-7):
Balanced Characteristics: Responsible, Reliable, Balanced effective will, Warmth in personality, Playfulness, Confidence, Appropriate self-discipline, Able to meet challenges, Sense of one’s personal power.
Traumas and Abuses: Shaming, Authoritarianism, Volatile situations, Domination of will, Physical abuse, Enmeshment, Inherited shame from parent, Age inappropriate responsibilities (parentified child)
Excess: Overly aggressive, Need to be right, Manipulative, Temper tantrums, Stubborness, Driving ambition, Competitive, Arrogant, Hyperactive
Healing Practices: Risk taking (deficiency), Grounding and emotional contact, Deep relaxation and stress control (excess), Vigorous exercise, Psychotherapy or other methods to build ego strength, release or contain anger, work on shame issues, strengthen the will, and encourage autonomy
How exactly could the Pleiades help us at this time? To me, that is part of the mystery of it all, and part of the great mystery I associate with the Pleiades. No matter how many different interpretations, stories, and analyses I read regarding the Pleiades, I always feel that there is much more involved with them than is being communicated through language. However, since they are located at a bridge juncture in the zodiac between Taurus and Gemini, it makes sense that they would integrate lessons that can come from the connection between Taurus and Gemini: issues we have with our Mind-Body connection, since Taurus is the sign of human form, and Gemini is the the sign of human mind. One interesting mind-body connection was described by herbalist Carol Trasatto in the May 2013 issue of Plants and Planets (she is the “plants” to Rosie’s “planets”), in which she references how scientists have now discovered a vast network of 500 neurons line our guts, so that our stomach is really like a “second brain” for us. Carol wisely notes that similar to how we can be misled by the misperceptions of our minds, so can our guts mislead us at times due to previous issues, wounding, and trauma. She writes:
Our perception- even somatic, gut-level perception- has been overlaid with imprints of previous experience, messaging, and sensation. Our physical and energy bodies are repositories of impressions; we are dealing with layers of information when we tune into our body wisdom. To most benefit from what our body can tell us, our work is to sensitize our awareness, refine our recognition of sensations, and then also to cultivate discernment regarding whether the messages reflect something true about the present moment or are an echo of habituated protection, now keeping us from experiencing the next level of intimacy with ourselves . . . For instance, physical intimacy with a new beloved may trigger gut sensations felt as fear, anger, shame, discomfort, anxiety, even panic in someone who was violated by touch in the past . . . Rather than rejecting the current lover, the person with such body memories could choose to use the safety of the present dynamic to first recognize and then explore these stored sensations- and work to heal them with the love energy presenting itself as medicine. “Trusting the gut” in such an instance requires self-awareness, courage, and the willingness to understand one’s experience . . . and allow it to transform.
— Carol Trasatto, Plants and Planets, May 2013
The sort of wisdom cultivated by people who work closely with our Earth, such as the herbalist Carol Trasatto, is the type of wisdom I associate with the Pleiades, a star constellation that has had a large and diverse cultural following across our planet since ancient times, well beyond the confines of Greek or Mediterranean culture- especially among indigenous people of the “Americas.” In the same edition of her monthly newsletter, Carol gave an illuminating description of Third Chakra issues that I feel is very timely in connection with the approaching Pluto-Uranus square and intense issues we could become potentially influenced by in the collective culture and collective consciousness, and its connection to the alchemy of plants on our planet connects it for me to wisdom offered through the Pleiades:
The Third Chakra, the solar plexus, is about fire and transformation. In herbal alchemy, when we yield the plant body to fire after extracting its magic with fluids, the resulting salts in the ash- when returned to the liquid- make the remedy more potent. The fire energy available to us via the solar plexus first of all can serve to illuminate and then incinerate those fears, habits, and beliefs that limit our potential. The chakra’s energy can enhance our ability to skillfully exercise will and personal power- especially in the realm of cultivating our intuitive voice and our ability to stand in our own center, free from the influence of collective trance. This freedom allows our actions and our voice to be guided from our inner authority, our relationship with spirit, our life purpose. It is through the right use of will that we may heal the past and bring vision into form.
–Carol Trasatto, Plants and Planets, May 2013
One thing for certain, however, is that the Pleiades are associated with guidance for humans, as they were used in ancient times for agricultural cycles and for navigation. In fact, although there is some debate upon the origins of the name Pleiades, it very likely came from the word meaning “to sail” because the Pleiades are visible in the Mediterranean night sky from the middle of May until the beginning of November, coinciding with ancient sailing season¹. Furthermore, through myth the Pleiades are associated with navigation and guidance through being the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas, who held the celestial spheres on his shoulders and was the God of Astronomy and navigation. Being the daughters of a Titan links the Pleiades with Uranus in myth at this time of the Pluto-Uranus square- in fact, Uranus is their great-grandfather! In case you don’t remember, Uranus was the Sky God mate of Gaia, the primordial Earth Goddess, who through her fathered the new archetypes of the Titans into the world: six sets of twins. Iapetus was one of the sons of Uranus who later became the father of Atlas, who then became the father of the seven sisters of the Pleiades.
Interestingly, Iapetus is also the father of Prometheus- so Prometheus is like the uncle of the Pleiadian sisters. This further mythic connection to another liberating Titan like Prometheus, the archetype of the trickster who brought fire to humans, makes me feel the Pleiades will be more on the side of the shocking yet ultimately liberating and individuating energy of Uranus in Aries during this time of the third Pluto-Uranus square. Since the Pleiades seem to be connected with practices to help humans navigate at a higher level on planet Earth, whatever third chakra healing is required at this time would be wise to put into practice- this could range from needing to ground inside the body and performing relaxation exercises to needing to take greater risks from a warm and heart-centered will-force. There will most likely be deeply destructive and shocking events occurring- I feel the connection of these times with the Pleiades is our need to ride the wave of energy occurring in the moment and focus on the fact we can still manifest abundance and prosperity in our lives through responsible responses to any intense experiences occurring.
The Pleiades are the daughters of the sea nymph Pleione, which also connects the Pleiades through myth to the other significant outer planet energy occuring now besides the Uranus-Pluto square, which is Neptune being in Pisces and in trine to Saturn in Scorpio. The trine between Pisces Neptune and Scorpio Saturn is the silver lining to remember amidst the chaos of the approaching Uranus-Pluto square, and it’s harmonious aspects should be activated by the cacophony from Uranus and Pluto. This trine in water signs between Neptune and Saturn connects with the Pleiades because it goes along with the idea of developing a discipline or practice to help focus and release energies. Our bodies are mostly made of water, and in many ways we are liquid beings possessing a high level of responsiveness to the vibration of our environments, but more importantly by the vibration of our own thoughts, emotions, and being. As the research of Dr. Emoto has shown the transformative and purifying effect of human prayer and intention on water, so can we transform and purify our own being through the power of our mind, intentions, and the vibrations we radiate internally and externally. According to Barbara Hand Clow and others who have “worked” with Pleiadian entities, this knowledge that we can transform our own beings as well as what we are co-creating in our life is part of what the Pleiadians are revealing to us. The Pleiades are also connected with Neptune because two of the seven sisters had children with Poseidon. The mating of the Pleiades with Gods is not uncommon- in fact, six out of the seven sisters did so:
Maia, the eldest, was the mother of Hermes by Zeus.
Electra was the mother of Dardanus and Iasion by Zeus
Taygete was the mother of Lacedaemon by Zeus
Alcyone was the mother of Hyrieus, Hyperenor, and Aethusa by Poseidon
Celaeno was the mother of Lycus and Eurypylus by Poseidon
Sterope was the mother of Oenomaus by Ares.
Merope, the youngest,gained the admiration and attention of Orion. In some myths she marries Sisyphus, becomes mortal, and gives birth to several sons. As a result she is sometimes referred to as the “lost Pleiades,” and is associated with the least bright star in the constellation.
There are many versions in Greek myth of how the seven sisters became stars, but in most of them it is associated with some sort of trauma they experienced as a repercussion of the wars for power amongst ancient deities. To review, Uranus was castrated by his Titan son Cronus (Saturn) who seized power; then Cronus was later taken down by Zeus (Jupiter) who likewise seized the power from his father, and assigned rulerships to his brothers and sisters, including the eldest brother Hades (Pluto), the one currently in a “fight” with Uranus above us today. As a result of the war between the Titans and the Olympians, Zeus took action to ensure that Uranus would not be able to birth more threatening archetypes, so he made the Titan Atlas stand on Earth, or Gaia, and hold aloft the celestial spheres, or Uranus, so that Uranus and Gaia would remain separated. The Pleiades, being the daughters of Atlas, would obviously have been saddened to see their father trapped into this role.
In one story, Orion began to chase the Pleiades after their father Atlas was forced to carry the celestial spheres, and so Zeus transformed the sisters into doves, and then into stars in order to appease Atlas. This version has the interesting aspect of Zeus trying to do something nice for Atlas, when Zeus was the one who forced Atlas to carry the weight of the celestial spheres in the first place. This to me is like a political figurehead making overtures to honor the dead or wounded, knowing full well that they were intricately involved in the complicated karmic stew of events that wounded or killed the person in the first place. We certainly are seeing quite a bit of that these days here in the United States of America. And speaking of the United States of America and our governmental “leaders,” Zeus or Jupiter being in the sign of Gemini during this time reminds me of how the U.S. government is not being very subtle recently about it’s shifting into a totalitarian police state in control of all media forms of communication, able to seize the cell phone records or email history of any individual it wants, at any time. Up until now, many of us have been complicit with this- just look around at the vast number of people obsessively plugged into smart phones, tablets, and mobile devices they are literally carrying with them everywhere, all ultimately connected to the same funding sources that are controlling the media and the government. This also goes along with the Gemini Jupiter use of the media by corporate powers hoping to force as much distracting crap on the American populace as possible on television and through all news outlets, hoping people do not realize what is actually happening right now. Although this has been true for a very long time, the rate of this media deception is becoming extraordinarily alarming to me recently. There will most likely be some significant events occurring in this upcoming time period of the Uranus-Pluto square, so hopefully we the people will start taking the responsibility to wake the hell up. Hopefully, the trine between Saturn in Scorpio and Neptune in Pisces will help dissolve the illusions underlying the perceptions and reality we are living, and align us more with the actual truth of our lives, giving us the courage to face the truth of our lives in the process and take accountability for being the change we wish to see in the world around us.
But I am getting off my point about how the Pleiades went from being sisters to stars in myth. In the most tragic version I know of, the seven sisters decide to commit suicide because of the deep sadness they were carrying because of the fate forced upon their father Atlas to carry the celestial spheres, or in other variations because of losing their other sisters the Hyades. In this version of the myth, Zeus again decides to honor them by immortalizing them as stars in the sky. I feel this suicide story may be why you will traditionally see some astrologers link the Pleiades with sorrows, misfortunes, and tragedies. However, I do not believe there needs to be such dark energy associated with the meaning of the Pleiades; at most I feel the connection has to do with how we can recover from sorrowful events and cope with our emotions. Because the Greek myths have a clear link between the sorrow of the Pleiades with their father’s involvement in the war between the Titans and Olympians, I feel in particular the Pleiades can help us cope with the trauma of the collective oppression and trauma people around our planet have been subjugated to as a result of world leaders focused upon war, destruction, and manipulating events for gains of global power. When we are facing intense and traumatic times in our collective, if we hope to facilitate and manifest the positive change we want to see happen, we need to be able to keep our own emotions and responses in balance so that we can effectively respond in way that is truly aligned with our inner integrity and authority. These issues are vital to our ability to develop a healthy and balanced use of our Third Chakra, again a chakra likely to be stirred up at this time.
Indeed, the Pleiades have a positive life affirming meaning, and have been a significant star focus, for many groups of people around the Earth in addition to the Greeks, in particular with many indigenous cultures. I know I often explore Greek myth in writing since their myths are the basis of the names we commonly associate with planetary archetypes in Western Astrology, but it is at least as fascinating to explore the mythic meaning of the star constellation labeled the Pleiades by the Greeks, through the mythic lens of other cultures (hopefully I will make the time to do so in a subsequent post). The rising of the Pleiades before sunrise was used by many ancient people to mark their calendars, and by many indigenous people as a time telling device. In the Americas, the Aztecs used the Pleiades as a basis for their calendar, and the Hopi built ceremonial spaces in which a hole in the ceiling would reveal the glow of the Pleiades at a specific time to begin a ritual. Interestingly, in many diverse cultures the seven stars have been seen as seven sisters for ages, such as with the aboriginal people of Australia and the Nez Perce of the Northwest USA. I sense such mystery about the Pleiades that I am hoping to center and sense what types of signs, symbols, and events end up being associated with this time period containing so many astrological connections to them.
Last year at this time, on May 20, 2012 there was a Solar Eclipse conjunct the Pleiades. And as I have already mentioned, this year on May 20 when the Sun is conjunct the star Alcyone of the Pleiades, there is going to be an exact square between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries. So to honor the date of May 20 and it’s solar connection to the Pleiades, I am going to share some musical work of two geniuses who have birthdays near May 20. Perhaps it is because my natal moon is conjunct the Pleiades at 2 degrees Gemini, as well as the birthday of both of these musicians, but I feel that each of their energies incorporates some of the synthesizing skills of the Pleiades in weaving together musical styles. And music is also a perfect example of the transformation offered through intentional vibration that the Pleiades are here to offer us. The first is a genius of the popular music format, Fats Waller, who was born on May 21, 1904 and below can be heard singing one of his romantic jingles in the unique style that only Fats could deliver:
And Sun Ra, born May 22, 1914. Sun Ra has his own resonance with being in contact with the energy of outer space, having a vision as a young man in which he was taken to a planet he identified as Saturn, where he was told he could respond to the chaos that was coming to his planet Earth through communicating through music. Taking the name Sun Ra, he said he was from Saturn, and his music has an energy to it I associate with the Pleiades, for whatever reason:
graphic and glyph by Bradley Naragon (copyright 2015 all rights reserved)
Osiris was discovered on September 24, 1960 by Cornelis Johannes van Houten and Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld at Palomar Observatory near Pauma Valley, California.
At this time, Pluto was conjunct the North Node of the Moon in the sign of Virgo. The Virgo Pluto and North Node was also trine Saturn in Capricorn and sextile Neptune in Scorpio. Uranus was in Leo in a balsamic phase with Pluto in Virgo- within five years they would be conjunct.
I took part in a book club discussion group with Dr. Thom Cavalli, the author of Embodying Osiris: The Secrets of Alchemical Transformation, in May 2012 on the Depth Psychology Alliance network. In our discussions Dr. Cavalli made the point that creating an archetype for Osiris is extremely difficult because of the vast array of dissonant qualities he embodies. Nonetheless, I found that his teaching regarding Osiris resonated with astrological archetypes, and even though Osiris embodies a huge diversity of archetypal meaning, it is a fact astrological archetypes such as Pisces are incredibly vast and beyond our abilities to confine their meaning to singular categorizations. I do want to make the point, however, that I am merely exploring the idea of an Osiris archetype at an early stage of development here, and I am hoping to receive comments from anyone reading this about the possible meaning of Osiris in their own life.
The “birth” signature for the discovery of the Osiris asteroid in 1960 brings up some of the major themes I feel that the Osiris archetype embodies: Virgo, Pisces (by polarity), Scorpio, Taurus (by polarity), Capricorn, Cancer (by polarity), Leo, Aquarius, Uranus, Saturn, Neptune, Pluto, and the modern astrological interpretation of the North Node of the Moon being about an evolutionary development of Soul purpose. I have also been interested in exploring the archetype of Isis associated with the Isis asteroid, and will do so to a greater extent in a subsequent article. For now, I want to draw attention to the cyclic conjunctions of the Isis and Osiris asteroids, which happened again last week. In connection with the myth of Isis and Osiris, I feel like this conjunction cycle could have the effect of “re-animating” the Osiris archetype in collective consciousness, and I am curious if anyone reading this can sense any correlations to this idea in their life.
On March 2, 2013 the asteroids Isis and Osiris were conjunct at 11 degrees of Aquarius. From what I can tell, both the Osiris and Isis asteroids have orbits of around four years and have a cycle of conjunction about every two years (August 2007 at 21 degrees Leo; April 2009 at 13 degrees Aquarius; June 2011 at 12 degrees Leo; March 2013 at 11 degrees Aquarius; and the next one will be April 29, 2015 at 6 degrees Leo). The fact that these recent conjunction points have all been along the Aquarius-Leo axis also goes along with the importance of both archetypes in relation to the Osiris myth. The Aquarius archetype and it’s relationship to consensus culture, the Saturn and Capricorn archetypes, in particular feels resonate to me with Osiris, so it is fitting that this recent conjunction happened in the strong 10-11 degree range of Aquarius.
Even more fitting to the Osiris archetype, this latest conjunction and new cycle between Isis and Osiris also happened to be within a degree of a square to Saturn retrograde in Scorpio. The degree of the Isis-Osiris conjunction in Aquarius has the following Sabian Symbol in Dane Rudhyar’s Astrological Mandala (p. 255):
Aquarius 11 : During a silent hour, a man receives a new inspiration which may change his life.
Keynote: The need to rely upon inner inspiration and guidance at the start of new developments.
What is implied here is the essential value of keeping open to the descent of spiritual or Soul forces, especially when a new period of individual activity is about to begin. The individual should not depend mainly on outer circumstances and on traditional- and in a sense external, because collectively formulated- incentives. There is a creative power within, a power that can be tapped, or rather that should be allowed to flow into the brain-consciousness or the hands which write or fashion materials into original forms . . . It refers to the OVERSHADOWING of the individual consciousness by an inner, yet transcendant, Power.
This symbolism from the point of the Isis-Osiris conjunction, in square to Saturn retrograde in Scorpio, reflects the deep cathartic potential of these intense times as we get closer to the next Uranus-Pluto square in May. Saturn in Scorpio at this time, in square to Osiris-Isis reflects intense tests and challenges from our environment requiring us to go deep within ourselves to confront the core issues interfering with our ability to merge our true sense of Self into the greater world. In my opinion, this symbolism also integrates some of the meaning of the Osiris archetype: regeneration from within, transformation of collective conditioning through a process of artistic manifestation, and an inner “gold” we have inside of ourselves that we can access to transcend the limitations of our conditioning.
Recent significant Osiris transits:
March 2, 2013: conjunction with Isis at 11 degrees of Aquarius
December 20, 2012 (Winter Solstice 2012): conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn at 9 degrees of Capricorn
September 12, 2012: conjunction with Juno and the North Node of the Moon at 29 degrees Scorpio
Look to the House and Sign position of the Osiris asteroid (#1923) in your chart to find a place where you have been wounded by consensus societal conditioning, and where you have a need for self-exploration, self-transformation, and regeneration.
Osiris involves many diverse qualities, but especially involves archetypal themes of Taurus, ruled by Venus, and Scorpio, ruled by Mars in traditional astrology and Pluto in modern astrology.
In Cosmos and Psyche, Richard Tarnas linked Isis and Osiris with Pluto, as well as Shiva, Kali, Shakti, Pele, and other deities of “destruction and regeneration, death and rebirth” (p. 99)
Themes of individuating, themes of becoming, themes of regeneration.
According to Cavalli, “Osiris is best understood as a complex consisting of a cosmic deity, an earthly deity, and an underwold deity that still exists within the realm of psyche.” Osiris is a “personal archetypal figure” who intermediates between the divine Ra, “the archetype of wholeness that includes everything conscious and unconscious,” and Horus, “the defender of the Earth” (Embodying Osiris, p. 40).
Some of the possible meanings of an Osiris archetype involve individuation, Self transformation, and alchemy. Dr. Thom Cavalli’s book Embodying Osiris: The Secrets of Alchemical Transformation connects the etymological meaning of “alchemy” with the mythic figure Osiris. While “al” means “the,” and “chemy” means “black,” it does not mean that alchemy is “black magic” or some other dark or evil form of witchcraft- this perspective comes from uninformed bias. Dr. Cavalli makes the point that “the black” has a clear link to the black, dark, moist, and regenerative soil of the Nile River in Egypt, a historically significant area of agricultural development that led to one of the world’s first dominant and extensive civilizations in the Age of Taurus (roughly 4,420 – 2,260 B.C.). Osiris was a major deity of this civilization, the fertile River God of the Nile, and he has his roots as a God of Agriculture and Fertility in a similar manner to the Great Goddesses of this time period. Thus, there is not only the link to Taurus through the historical astrological age (a time of Bull worship around the region), there is also connection to the Goddess energy of Venus fertility. In addition, after undergoing symbolic and literal death in the myth, Osiris transforms into a Plutonic deity who rules the underworld and heals the souls of the dead, linking him to the Scorpio archetype and Pluto and Mars (Nergal, the Babylonian Mars in astrology and myth, was an underworld ruler). Finally, the 8th house (Scorpio) mastery of unconscious forces Osiris achieves can be utilized ultimately as a 2nd House (Taurus) resource: “Osiris, then, is the archetypal energy activating the unconscious so that it is not only a repository of memory, but also an incredible resource in everyday life” (p.41).
Moreover, in Embodying Osiris, Cavalli wrote that the myth of Osiris “represents an evolution of the human species from the wiles of nature into a new, civil dimension of reality . . . The ‘rising up’ of Osiris represents a new alignment of the spinal cord, a new spatial orientation, and the seminal emergence of individual identity” (p. 118). Since the Egypt of this time period is one of the earliest dynasties of civilization in our recorded history, the Osiris archetype also connects with the dogmatic cultural beliefs and conditioning that come from the impact of societal development, the creation of civilizations with consensus rules for behavior, on personal consciousness. In addition, the impact of societal oppression on individual consciousness can be seen in the Egyptian dynasty use of slaves, including targeting a specific social identity as slaves, such as the Jewish people. Osiris is an archetype going to the root of our deepest unconscious memories as a collective of souls, and so when we are in contact with him, we can feel the oppressive conditioning of our historical and modern cultural context more intensely:
[Osiris is] the personification of the collective unconscious, all that existed in the collective unconscious psyche, but which was not included in the conscious religious forms of that time.
–Marie-Louise von Franz, from The Golden Ass of Apuleius: The Liberation of the Feminine in Man
This connection of the Osiris to consensus cultural conditioning involves the archetype of Saturn. In our book group discussions, Dr. Cavalli illustrated the significance of Saturn in the alchemical process, and it’s connection to lead in the alchemical process and our ability to regenerate “gold” from within ourselves. He said that Carl Jung described a spectrum of development with instinct at the bottom and archetypes at the top, and that individuation involves an evolution of consciousness from its dark, Saturnian base to higher spiritual levels. He said that the alchemists believed that no such evolution could ever happen if there was not at least a spark of gold already latent in the lead (in alchemy Saturn is associated with lead)- this his how the germination of gold can happen. In his book, Cavalli wrote that “lead does not respond to light, yet contains it’s own light” and that it became a metaphor amongst alchemists for human beings because “in the midst of our very darkness we contain the light and fire of consciousness” (p. 92-3). This goes with the following Jung quote:
One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but making the darkness conscious
–Carl Jung, Archetypal Studies
In Embodying Osiris, Dr. Cavalli wrote that the value Carl Jung placed on alchemy, to which he obsessivly dedicated the last thirty years of his life to study, had “less to do with recipes for transmuting metals than with demonstrating psychophysical methods of transforming consciousness” (p. 49). Jung felt that alchemy was not a replacement for nature, but instead was a method to speed up the evolutionary individuation process: “We might conjecture that instead of having to live many lifetimes, a person could accomplish the goal of individuation in a single lifetime by applying alchemical methods” (p. 49). In our Book Club, Dr. Cavalli said that the often quoted concept of “confronting one’s shadow” has been used to describe the alchemical process of applying operations to the Lead (I’d like to insert here our “Saturn” archetype) in order to heat up the inner spark to manifest Gold. In his book Cavalli included this apt quote from astrologer Liz Greene:
In many ways, the ancient art of alchemy was dedicated to this end: for the base material of alchemy, in which lay the possibility of gold, was called Saturn, and this base material, as well as having a concrete existence, was also considered to be the alchemist himself. Modern psychology, which is paralleling more and more the path of the alchemists, also seeks to make a friend of Saturn although here he is called by other names. —Liz Greene, Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil
In our book club, Dr. Cavalli also commented that another method in this alchemical process could be to exhaust the instincts, which goes very well with the Evolutionary Astrology process described by Jeff Green in which we work toward evolutionary development through exhausting our deep soul desires, the resonate soul desires related to our current lifetime being symbolized by the house, sign, and aspects of Pluto in the birth chart. The “gold” we can reach through this process is like a potential we could reach that would be so whole and balanced it would need no more transformation. Cavalli described this “Divine Self” as “the conscious union of ego and Self, instincts and archetypes, feminity and masculinity, psyche and soma- having an active relationship with the unconscious; mastering the technique of active imagination; integrating shadow; recognizing projections; and, finally, achieving ‘object love’ with individuals, the collective, nature, and God” (p. 49) .
In the Osiris myth, the archetype of lead enters the story through the manipulative and power hungry Seth character, who tricks Osiris into becoming sealed inside a coffin, and sends him down the Nile. Seth was angry with Osiris because of his infidelity with Nephthys, who was the wife of Seth, a mating that produced the offspring Anubis. As a result of his rage, jealousy, and desire for power, Seth not only murders Osiris but cuts his body up into various fragmented pieces. After a long journey, that in some scenes has thematic parallels to the myth of Demeter/Ceres searching for her daughter Persephone, Isis finds Osiris, puts his body back together, makes love to him, and reanimates him long enough to produce their offspring Horus. Ultimately, Osiris descends to the underworld and resurrects himself as the ruler and healer of souls of the dead. In the myth, Seth represents an archetype that seeks power within societal hierarchies; he is Machiavellian and by the mere fact of having this political nature necessitates the existence of a “civilized” power structure to climb and conquer. This symbolism is why I feel the Osiris archetype also involves the Aquarius-Leo archetypal need of liberating from dominant societal conditioning in order to find and self-actualize one’s true heroic journey, the special purpose one has incarnated into this lifetime to achieve. Fascinating to me is that there is a mirror of the Osiris myth in the story of Moses in the Bible, who liberated the Jewish people from their Egyptian oppression in the Age of Aries. Moses was also sent down the Nile River, but in this version he is a baby who had been born into a Jewish slave family, only to be rescued by a member of the House of the Pharaoh and taken into the inner circle of the Pharaoh. Moses grows up surrounded by Osiris and Isis and sees firsthand how the role of the Pharaoh had become distorted through oppressive use of power. Moses eventually becomes the liberator, and is one of many heroes in humanity’s history whose life has echoes of Osiris running through it.
Part of the trigger that led to this mythic journey of Osiris was his mating with the wife of his brother, Nephtys. In some versions Osiris seduces her, in other versions Nephthys tricks Osiris by disguising herself as his wife Isis, but in all the versions there is the cultural taboo of infidelity explored. This part of the myth connects with the archetypal axis of development from Taurus to Scorpio, and how sometimes it takes us exploring a cultural taboo in order to find our true value system. In Embodying Osiris Dr. Cavalli wrote that “the world soul, Anima Mundi, and the transcendent Self envision this light that is trapped within our decaying body, a self-serving ego, and, more generally, the unconscious. From time immemorial there have been taboos to keep one from discovering this divine inner light, for unless we are ready to receive it we will either misuse this sacred light or destroy ourselves” (p. 101). Scorpio has multiple levels of symbols, the scorpion being the lower, the phoenix and the eagle a Scorpio who has moved on to a higher level of consciousness. One key aspect of Scorpio as part of an individuation process ultimately leading to higher levels of consciousness, can at times be exploring cultural taboos and ultimately finding more of one’s true self by the end of the process. In healing work, confronting and becoming aware of the shadow side can often involve experiencing taboos of a culture or testing taboos in different ways- often leading to a lot of shame and guilt and depression, but in the end an awareness of the shadow that can propel one through a spiral process into higher states of awareness and consciousness. In this way, the location of Osiris in your chart could indicate a place where you go into an underworld journey of shame or depression as a result of testing certain cultural taboos that society conditions us to believe makes us a “bad” person, but that in the end through confronting and facing these deep issues we can ultimately regenerate a truer version of ourselves. This is because the “true gold” of our soul journey has been inside us all along.
Isis epitomizes love and loyalty; Seth, antagonism, opposition, and limits; . . . But when it comes to Osiris we encounter a psychological complex far more difficult to comprehend than that of most Egyptian deities. His relationship to life and death cannot be easily assigned certain fixed values. Rather than a state of being, his nature has more to do with the process of becoming (Cavalli, p. 63).
Furthermore, another interesting connection with Saturn, Capricorn, and collective responsibility is that this individuating process is not meant to serve our selfish ego needs, but is an act of opening ourselves to what the universe or Spirit wants from us. Cavalli wrote that if we wish to embody the Osiris archetype, “we must take into account his ‘individuation’ as he matures into a cosmic archetype. What he does is not for self-gain but for the benefit of all. Ultimately, the spirit of the dead arrives in the duat, the fitting place for him to reign as god of the dead and master of unconscious forces” (p.1 75). In this way the Osiris archetype can reflect the Aquarian liberation from Capricorn conditioning to ultimately make a Piscean surrender to having Capricorn responsibility for an inner power that is for the good of all, an inner power that can have a Scorpio knowledge of how to merge and use resources for the greater collective interest.
This is not easy work- the myth of Osiris symbolizes how we can become dismembered and put through death experiences in society, how our psyche can become fragmented through the experience of trauma and harsh societal conditioning. At times it seems like it would take an act of divine intervention from a Goddess like Isis to reanimate our psyche and make us whole again. However, as the alchemical symbolism suggest, we have this spark of golden being inside of ourselves, awaiting our self-activation and actualization.
From the book Embodying Osiris by Dr. Thom Cavalli:
Osiris is a model of submission. He allows all the terrors that befall him to occur, just as the prima materia endures the tortures of the laboratory. such deliberate sacrifice is meant to serve as a model for personal individuation. It justifies all the pain we daily suffer in order to transcend this world and leave it wiser and more enlightened. Submission and trust in this process allow love to enter the vessel. We are then embraced by the Mother and taken into her arms. Her only aim is that we bring something new and unique into the world. The dead ask no less of us. In the Red Book Carl Jung reveals that the dead want us to take up their unresolved burdens. We are left to reassemble our lives by submitting to our ancestral destiny. In this way, individuation is shaped by the Mother (Anima Mundi) and the souls of the departed who want us to bring their purpose to its rightful conclusion. And so, in similar fashion, we die, but our relationships live on for a time equal to the contribution we’ve made while living.
Just as Osiris dies but is not nonexistant, we too live beyond physical death. Having an active relationship with the unconscious, we are not surprised by death nor, as Jung suggests, are we ever alone! We have prepared ourselves for this transition- another point of constriction that we have faced before in so many different ways. With Osiris in the underworld, the unconscious becomes a safe place for death during our lifetime. Here it is a powerful resource and teacher. Death serves to remind us that physical life is limited and that we must enjoy every finite moment before entering a timeless place. This realization casts a special beauty over everything that occurs in life. Darkness enhances life’s treasures; death tinges the light with softness. The melancholy of an Indian flute, the sound of a foghorn in the mist, tears at the cinema- these are subtle pleasures that emanate from the deepest places in our soul. Darkness adds mystery to the soul; it colors the personality. Even sad and depressing events are welcomed because they remind us that life oscillates between joy and sadness; each limits and expands the other. This is the dynamic order of life, what the Egyptians recognized in the rule of Ma’at- the constant rhythms found everywhere in the universe (p. 205-206).
Comments, questions, and correlations about possible meanings for an Osiris archetype are not only welcome, but sought.
Venus is conjunct Neptune in Pisces at 2 – 4 degrees.
Sun is conjunct Chiron in Pisces at 9 – 10 degrees.
Mercury retrograde is conjunct Mars in Pisces at 19 -20 degrees.
Pisces is always on our minds at this time of year, the end of Winter in our northern hemisphere, with green shoots soon to be Narcissus poking through the dark earth. This February and March, however, has more Piscean energy than normal. The Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Chiron, and Neptune are all in Pisces, with Mercury retrograde combined with Mars, Venus combined with Neptune, and the Sun combined with Chiron now at the end of February. The Pisces-Virgo full moon that just occurred on February 25 was within a couple degrees of Chiron in Pisces.
Pisces is an archetype of the infinite and timeless, of the higher Spirit, God, or Goddess interconnecting all of life, in all dimensions and realms. Moving in time with Pisces means moving in rhythm more with kairos time, the opportune or intuitively correct time to do something, more so than chronos time, the chronological time we “should” do something. In Pluto: An Evolutionary Journey of the Soul, Jeff Green links the Taoist concept of Wu Wei with the Pisces and the 12th House archetype. Green explained that wu wei is an important Piscean development of awareness to act in accordance with the needs of the eternal now, more so than the needs of our egocentric point of view. Therefore, if decisive action is required, we act directly; if it is a harmonious time to become more internal and self-reflective, we can enter a more contemplative state of being. My cousin, who has been studying the Tao through acupuncture and qi gong, told me that wu wei is “actionless action,” “action without action,” or “doing without doing” because if you are in line with the Cosmos, “then all of your actions are completely in integrity and you influence the world without trying. The political idea (from ancient China) would be a ‘sage king’ who is so attuned with the Universe that the kingdom and all the subjects benefit without him doing anything. The simplest image . . . is to flow like water.”
Now that Mercury is moving retrograde in Pisces, it will take extra effort for us to keep up with chronos time and the deadline-bound demands, expectations, and responsibilities of our daily work and life. It will be harder to make it to work on time or have an expected project completed by a specific deadline unless we place a lot of conscious focus there to make it happen. In contrast, it could be easier to drift off into a more creative, artistic, and reflective pursuit that may on the surface appear to be escapist and not make much sense to the expectations of others around us. We must be careful, however, of escapist desires that are masking deeper wounds in our psyche we do not want to face; the Mercury retrograde and Mars conjunction in Pisces right now is in square to Ceres in Gemini, which could reflect addictions and compulsions we fixate on such as over-eating, drug use, or co-dependent relationships in order to provide for our nurturing needs in a grasping manner, instead of finding ways to nurture ourselves that keep us on a healthier path. Also, remember that Mercury and Mars were traveling together direct in Pisces for most of the month of February before only recently coming into a square with Gemini Ceres; earlier in February Pisces Mercury and Mars were conjunct Chiron in Pisces and squaring Jupiter in Gemini. Thus, throughout February the Mercury and Mars conjunction in Pisces could have reflected us stridently acting and perceiving events from an emotional perspective that could be either distorted by limiting beliefs or past unhealed wounds. In contrast, if we have been working on facing past patterns and issues with intention of transformation, we could make choices from a more intuitively feeling place we have helped cultivate through a mindful practice of some sort that helps us heal and purify our inner psyche to create a healthier root foundation for our actions. Now that Mercury has shifted into a retrograde phase, there could arise more discrepancy between our internal desires for what we want to do with our time and energy versus the external demands of our environment for our time and energy. The strong squares from Gemini Jupiter and Gemini Ceres, the ultimate divine sister and brother team, to all of the intense Pisces energy of the moment could place us in fast moving and shifting situations full of turmoil and chaos.
From my personal experience during this time period, the universe has been asking me to embrace a higher level of frequency and speed in my daily life, a need to attune to quickly shifting needs relating to my daily work responsibilities. My Mercury and Midheaven are at 4 degrees of Pisces and have been especially struck with Pisces transits recently, as well as my Pallas Athena at 9 degrees, and Sun at 28 degrees of Pisces conjunct Jupiter, all in my 10th House. The difficulty has been balancing the myriad needs of my work environment with my own needs for personal time and the needs of loved ones in personal relationship with me. I have felt, however, that the Universe has been asking me to think, process, make choices, and act at a faster rate and a higher frequency, not so much as multi-task as being able to focus on one thing and then shift focus to another. It has felt like an important time of preparation to be ready to face greater responsibilities and challenges in the near future.
The Venus-Neptune conjunction just coming into manifestation at this time can help with a greater heart opening and awareness of where we need to direct our love and energy moment to moment. Venus and Neptune combined in Pisces can certainly lead us down illusionary paths, make us more prone to be lost in a fantasy world. However, if we have been on a path of intention recently to connect more with our true Soul path in life, then this current conjunction of Venus and Neptune can help our heart pierce the shell of crystallized patterns, habits, and emotions we protect our true vulnerability with, for us to open to the potential of expressing unconditional love and faith in our daily life.
In the greater cosmic context of the ripening Pluto-Uranus square, with Saturn in Scorpio moving retrograde, the potential heart opening of Venus and Neptune together in Pisces could even feel shattering. In current events, it is symbolically fitting that the Pope resigned earlier in February with the intense Pisces conjunctions of Mercury, Mars, Neptune, and Chiron, as the structure of the Catholic church is being shaken in a Uranian way for a potential Plutonic transformation. Pisces, an archetype in line with the true message of Jesus, fittingly has intense energy being expressed at the same time a bright light is being shone upon the “viper’s nest” of political intrigue amongst Cardinals and other catholic power structure elite who have been covering up sexual abuse and other corrupt practices within the Church. Whether or not Catholic officials choose to take this moment of “divine intervention” to truly attempt to reform and remake their structure,the opportunity has presented itself.
In our personal lives, the Sun currently being conjunct Chiron in Pisces, the recent conjunctions of Mars and Mercury with Chiron, as well as the conjunction of Venus and Chiron in Pisces in the near future, point to the combined archetypes of Chiron with Pisces being important in this time. The Chiron archetype is often described as a wounded healer ability we have to heal and transform others as a gift from having done the hard work of facing our own wounds. However, Chiron is also the trainer of heroes, and we are being asked to step more deeply into our special heroic identity and destiny at this time. The call of our heroic journey has been more piercing recently because Chiron in Pisces has been in the process of being tested by a square from Jupiter in Gemini. Integral to this process of stepping into our “Hero’s Journey,” as Joseph Campbell so famously illuminated, is the archetype and function of Mercury. Mercury first moved direct conjunct Chiron while being conjunct Mars in Pisces at the same time at the beginning of February. This was a time to begin to harmonize our force of Will (Mars) with how our sense of perception (Mercury) is shaped in relation to our Chiron issues: our wounded past, our special gifts and talents buried in our psyche, and the tremendous strength we can mine from going deep inside to confront our personal demons and fears, gaining the ability to re-emerge with gifts we can share with the people we attract into our life. Recently Mercury stationed retrograde and became conjunct with Mars once again in Pisces, and now Mercury has embarked on his retrograde journey into our personal underworld, eventually becoming conjunct Chiron again moving retrograde, stationing direct around the Spring Equinox, and then moving direct to conjunct Chiron a third time in the Spring of 2013.
To put it all in a mystorical perspective, Mercury moving retrograde in Pisces at this time is like Hermes journeying into the underworld in order to negotiate a release of Persephone from Hades so that she can return to her mother Demeter. The Gemini Ceres squaring the Pisces Mercury-Mars conjunction is like the anger and rage of Demeter over losing her daughter Persephone to the underworld and Hades. She is furious at her brother Zeus for allowing it to happen, and so Zeus convinces Hermes to brave the underworld in order to guide Persephone back to the arms of her mother. Taking my own creative license with the myth, I feel that Demeter as the Great Goddess of Earth and fertility would clearly have had strong opinions about exactly how Hermes should proceed and attend to the safety of her daughter; Hermes, being slippery and intelligent enough to negotiate not only the underworld but also the power of Hades, likewise would have had the ability to hold his own with Demeter in an intense debate about how he would have to negotiate with Hades. Ultimately, Hermes is able to retrieve Persephone from the underworld, but it came at a price that Demeter would have to compromise in a Piscean manner of surrender: Persephone would spend half of the year above ground with her mother Demeter, and the other half of the year presiding over the dead and guiding Souls in the afterlife in the underworld with her partner Hades. The fact that this tragedy that befell Demeter ultimately resulted in our seasons of the year, the glorious fertility of Spring, and our corresponding conscious awareness of the rebirth from death element inherent to creation, means that her letting go of attachment to possessing Persephone has a fated quality linked to the guidance of the angelic realm. This theme can be mirrored in our personal lives today anywhere that we are overly attached to based upon our nurturing needs, needs that often have to do with unresolved wounds from our childhood and later personality development. If we are creating suffering for ourselves because of grasping to control or possess an object of desire, we may be forced to surrender and let go of it in order to find the Piscean faith that our lives will ultimately work out in a manner that will help us heal and rebirth ourselves in a manner for the greatest good. Ceres and the Demeter myth have a lot to teach us about grief: our reactive ego parts of personality may feel like bitterly reacting with vengeance like Demeter, refusing to express our fertile love in our environment, metaphorically refusing to let flowers, life, and the harvest bloom around us. If we keep in mind the wisdom that is often symbolized by the concept of Angelic guides, however, we can keep in mind that new life and creation will come out of the death and grief process, we can realize that new exciting endeavors await us. Reflecting the recent transits of Chiron, Neptune, Mars, Mercury, the Sun, and Venus over the fixed star Fomalhaut, the Archangel available to guide us on our hero’s quest at this time is Gabriel.
The Archangel Gabriel
Fomalhaut is a fixed star at 3°52′ of Pisces, a reddish star in the mouth of the Southern Fish, Piscis Austrinus.
Neptune in Pisces is conjunct Fomalhaut from May 1, 2012 until February 22, 2014.
Neptune will be especially close to Fomalhaut from March 16 until March 31, 2013 (also August 20 until September 7, 2013, and from January 15 until February 1, 2014).
Pisces Mars conjunct Neptune on February 4, 2013 was conjunct Fomalhaut
Pisces Mercury conjunct Neptune on February 6 was conjunct Fomalhaut
Pisces Mercury conjunct Mars on February 8 was conjunct Fomalhaut
Pisces Sun conjunct Neptune on February 20 was conjunct Fomalhaut
Pisces Venus conjunct Neptune on February 28 is conjunct Fomalhaut
Dark Moon in Pisces conjunct Neptune on March 10 is conjunct Fomalhaut
Fomalhaut is a fixed star at four degrees of Pisces, also known as the Archangel Gabriel star. In the 3rd Century B.C., Fomalhaut marked zero degrees of Capricorn, the Winter Solstice. It became associated with the archangel Gabriel as one of the four key archangel stars and the watcher of the South, along with Aldebaran (Michael, watcher of the East), Regulus (Raphael, watcher of the North), and Antares (Oriel, watcher of the West). The temple of Demeter at Eleusis held daily sunrise worship of Fomalhaut around 500 B.C.¹ Thus, there is a herstorical and historical connection between the Angel Gabriel and the Goddess Demeter.
Gabriel is an angel who has made appearances in some of the most famous scenes of the dominant world religions of today: in the Bible, he appeared to Daniel to aid in explaining the significance of his visions, he is the angel who appeared to the Virgin Mary in order to explain about the birth of Jesus, and he also appeared to Zechariah to foretell the birth of John the Baptist. In the Qu’ran, Gabrielle is the angel who delivers the message of the Qu’ran to the prophet Muhammad³. Thus, there is an otherworldly quality to Fomalhaut and Gabrielle that go well with the energy of Pisces: an ability to perceive beyond the limitations we often put upon our reality, to feel the meaning of visions and dreams, and to also have the ability to communicate the significance of these visions in a message that others can understand.
Fomalhaut seems to be a misunderstood star that is similar to the archetype of Pisces, known to reflect poetic, artistic, and spiritual gifts as well as propensity toward illusion and delusion². Those who have the ability to perceive more of the phenomenal world than others who are more limited by consensus reality, run the risk of being labeled crazy by authorities of consensus reality. Apparently, Ptolemy viewed Fomalhaut as having the nature of Venus and Mercury, and many astrologers today see it as combining the archetype of Neptune as well¹. With Neptune currently being conjunct Fomalhaut as well as Venus, we can be guided at this time to write or create art, transform whatever difficulties or stress we are dealing with into poetry and art. Gabriel is the most poetic, artistic, and magical of the four archangels, and the most peaceful as well². The otherworldly quality of this star being transited by Neptune and Venus now could reflect a propensity of ours to become more spaced out, less grounded, and more inwardly focused upon ourselves and our spiritual or artistic interests– ideal for a time period in which Mercury is retrograde in Pisces.
Similar to warnings about the Pisces archetype, we must be careful to not perceive ourselves, our reality, and others around us in relationship through the lens of being a victim when we are dealing with the Fomalhaut archetype. Instead of using our perceptual abilities to see beyond reality in order to express spiritual visions or artistic depths, we distortedly filter everything through a victimizing perspective that sees or feels things that are not truly there. We can become victim of our own thoughts and beliefs that lead us to our own suffering. Put those hard feelings into some form of art instead! Through the process of art and creativity, we can express a larger spectrum of our feelings and emotions, integrating greater meaning into the complex archetypal symbolism of a fairy tale or artwork than we could by trying to more logically explain what has been difficult about our experiences.
A famous example is the late Olympia singer songwriter Kurt Cobain, born with his Sun, his soul purpose, conjunct Fomalhaut. Kurt put his difficulties as a homeless youth with mental health issues into his art, his guitar playing, and channeled his heart through his voice into songs, lyrics, and a primal scream that connected with millions of youth crossing through their individuation process while expressing the message of the punk lifestyle deep into mainstream and consensus consciousness, temporarily taking over the corporate media outlets even. He was able to attract widespread fame and a massive generational audience to his work, able to pierce through mass consciousness to a core feeling of Piscean empathy that crossed over many diverse audience backgrounds. Fomalhaut is a Piscean and angelic archetype that knows how to navigate the avenues of fame and fortune, following illusion after illusion at times.
In our retelling of the Persephone myth, I can imagine the Archangel Gabriel watching over and helping a hurt and grieving Ceres come to a greater understanding of the great prophecy and mystery she is becoming a part of, a story that did indeed become embedded in the Eleusian Mysteries. According to Demetra George in Asteroid Goddesses, the Eleusinian Mysteries were enacted for two thousand years (1600 BC to 400 AD) and were the major initiation rites in the ancient world. George described “the esoteric level taught by the initiates of the Eleusinian Mysteries…[was] the great transformation mystery- the cycle of birth, death, and renewal” (p.44). Integrating esoteric knowledge into initiation rituals in which participants re-enact characters and events of ancient myths seems like a perfect use of the poetic Fomalhaut archetype. From the mythic perspective, by releasing her daughter to become the Queen of the underworld who can help guide the Souls of the dead to their eventual rebirth, Ceres is able to contribute to greater collective spiritual understanding as well as gain the ability to spend quality time on Earth with her daughter in the Spring and Summer.
Ceres stationed direct on February 10, 2013 in Gemini at 20 degrees. Gemini Ceres was inconjunct the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio at this time.
The Heliocentric North Node of Ceres is 20 degrees Gemini
Pisces Mercury stationed retrograde in square to Gemini Ceres on February 23, 2013
Gemini Ceres squared the conjunction of Mercury retrograde and Mars in Pisces on February 26, 2013
Venus in Pisces will square Ceres in Gemini on March 18, 2013
The North Node of the Moon in Scorpio has been inconjunct Ceres in Gemini from Ferbruary 7 until March 1, 2013.
The asteroid Persephone is currently conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio and widely conjunct Saturn retrograde in Scorpio
The asteroid Persephone will station retrograde conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio at 18 degrees on March 14, 2013
The asteroid Persephone will be closely conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio at 18 degrees from March 24 until March 26, 2013
The asteroid Persephone will eventually be conjunct Saturn retrograde in Scorpio on May 28, 2013 at 7 degrees.
Ceres, also known as Demeter in Greek myth, recently stationed direct at 20 degrees of Gemini on February 10, 2013. This zodiacal degree is especially significant because it is the heliocentric north node of Ceres: meaning the north node from the perspective of the Sun (in contrast to the geocentric nodes, from the perspective of Earth, commonly used by astrologers). At the 2011 Evolutionary Astrology conference, Demetra George gave a brilliant lecture on Ceres in which she illuminated the meaning of this heliocentric Gemini north node: the development of the rational or logical mind in Femininity and Matriarchal consciousness. When Demetra was speaking (in November 2011) I tried to write down as much of her message as possible, the fruits of which follow in the passages below.
Developing our rational or logical minds may seem unnecessary in this time period we find ourselves in, dominated by a cultural worldview that is overly rational and negates the feelings of the Anima Mundi that runs through all of life. Instead of feeling the energy and messages in the trees, animals, water, and life around us, many in the dominant culture choose to view human beings and the narrow pursuits of humans as being the only viable life force to take account of. However, while paying attention to our intuition is important, there can be something to be said for developing our logic when we fall victim to our emotions and feelings overwhelming us to such an extent that we begin to perceive things in distorted ways unconnected from reality and what the universe is providing for us to act upon in a moment of grounded presence. We can also use our rational mind to analyze past patterns of behavior to see where we have been stuck or distorted with our thought patterns and work to begin to shift our perspective through mindful practices of gratitude, creative affirmations, or other techniques.
Thus, if the heliocentric North Node of Ceres is Gemini, it draws attention to an evolutionary development of the archetype away from the dogmatic beliefs of it’s heliocentric South Node in Sagitarius. Sagitarius can be helpful at times through development of a strong value and belief system we can act from through intuition at any moment. However, when we become stuck or fixated in a certain belief system, believe that others should also have the same belief system perspective that we do, attempt to convince or manipulate others to develop the same belief system as ourselves, or become stuck on a certain belief that is ultimately creating a limited perspective of reality for us, that is when we are heading into the dogmatic danger zone of Sagitarius. There is a reason we humans developed the scientific method, after all, and there is good use the Goddess Ceres can make of it. The logic and rational elements of the scientific method, the mutable nature of it that can shift perspective according to evidence manifesting in reality, is after all how humans such as Kepler and Copernicus were able to prove that our planet is revolving around a Sun in a greater universe, as opposed to the universe revolving around our planet.
Along these lines, in the myth Ceres is so devastated by the loss of her daughter Persephone that she loses connection with her passion and purpose to bring fertility to the Earth, and the Earth goes barren as a result. Ceres uses opiates to escape from her pain and clearly views herself to be a victim in the scenario. Unfortunately, events take an even greater tragic turn when she becomes raped by Poseidon, aka Neptune. This event not only symbolizes the oppression we are at risk of undergoing from the Patriarchy, especially women, it also symbolizes the indescribably tragic horrors that can happen to us when we become overwhelmed by our emotions to such an extent that we lose connection with our passions and purpose in life. Lots of Pisces energy does not mean everyone is going to be mellow and meditative; instead, there is the potential for lots of anger, escapism, addictions, and rage, especially with Mars and Mercury conjunct in Pisces.
However, the healing of Ceres from the rape of Poseidon reveals another Piscean avenue of healing: purification from water. Ceres releases and heals her anger and rage at Poseidon while taking a bath in a river. Although she may have become angry or argumentative with Mercury for not being able to retrieve Persephone so that they could spend the entire year together, in the end, through many trials and tribulations, Ceres is able to gain the logical perception that being able to have her daughter back with her for at least half of the year is better than nothing, and finally that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few in this case because of the multitudes of Souls her daughter will be able to help and heal through returning to the underworld to rule over the kingdom of the Dead.
Synchronistically, the asteroid Persephone at this moment in time is moving with the evolutionary journey of everyone on this planet, currently moving toward a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio. This will become even more intense in mid-March when Persephone will station retrograde conjunct the Scorpio North Node, and then move backwards along with the retrograde motion of the North Node. Eventually in late May of 2013, Persephone will have moved far enough back in Scorpio to be conjunct Saturn in Scorpio. The amazing symbolism of these cosmic events clearly highlights the Scorpio power that Persephone ultimately claims for herself in the myth by owning her relationship with Pluto and becoming the Queen of the underworld who is able to help guide and heal the Souls of the dead. In our own lives, we can step into this power no matter how difficult, tragic, oppressive, or cataclysmic our experiences feel: if we face the situation courageously we will activate a deep well of ability we may not normally utilize inside of our self. Persephone does not end up being a victim: she becomes the Queen of Spirit.
Therefore, Persephone is connected with our evolutionary journey forward at this time. According to Demetra George in Finding Our Way Through the Dark, the Persephone archetype in our birth charts involve issues surrounding our separation from our mother and “how and where, either physically or psychologically, we may be abducted and plunged into an underworld experience (sometimes at an early age) where we encounter terror, loss, and confusion, and feelings of abandonment” (p. 101). Persephone in Scorpio is making this underworld feeling described by Demetra George even more intense:
This descent can enable us to develop a relationship with the hidden forces in our unconscious, activate our psychic abilities, release the past, discover a new sense of our adult self and strengths, and emerge transformed and renewed. Some individuals who experience Persephone as a tragedy from which they have never recovered may react by developing patterns of distrust, withdrawal, fear of sexuality and intimacy, fantasy life, depression, chemical addictions, separation anxieties, victimization, passivity and powerlessness, and being acted upon by the strong will of others (p. 101).
Persephone in Scorpio also reflects our potential to step into the eagle aspect of the archetype, taking responsibility and power in our own daily lives and being an effective guide for the transformation of others. Scorpio Persephone could reflect a latent psychic gift inside our psyche awaiting our cultivation and development.
In contrast, Ceres in Gemini will be showing up in our lives as themes, issues, events, and people in which or with which we have a nurturing role or relationship. Certainly anything that has to do with the birth or raising of our own biological children or issues with our parents, but also anywhere in our lives in which we are taking on a nurturing role with more of a collective family. For example, anyone who is a teacher knows the caring vibration you develop for your students, and anyone who works in the social services, mental health field, or medical field, also is well aware of the caring vibration you develop for the people coming to you looking for healing. Challenges with the people we are working with to help may be triggered at this time, calling us to devise more effective methods at meeting their needs, but more importantly helping them meet their own needs. Our work with Ceres in Gemini at this time will involve the use of our Mercurial functions of perception, analysis, and communication in order to help nurture ourselves so that we can be come strong nurturers and advocates for others. In Asteroid Goddesses Demetra George described another Mercurial Ceres issue we may be dealing with now, as she explained that stressful aspects between Ceres and Mercury “indicate difficulties in communicating one’s nurturance needs to others, especially the family. A common example is the person who expects others to know what he or she needs without having to say so, and becomes angry when the other person doesn’t ‘come through'” (p. 72). George also described stressful aspects between Mars and Ceres as reflecting feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, or powerlessness and that the resolution is to balance “self-will with the desire to nurture and be nurtured” (p. 73). We can use Mercurial functions to help with this such as creative affirmations or visualization- in any case, George suggests that we remember we have the opportunity to transform our “subconscious self-image and replace thoughts of fear and inadequacy with those of confidence, courage, and self-reliance” (p. 73).
Interestingly, this pairing of Ceres with Mercurial functions goes very nicely with the elevation of Ceres to dwarf planet status, the same planetary classification as her nemesis Pluto. In the December/January issue of The Mountain Astrologer, Maria Kay Simms elucidated a logical argument for making Ceres the modern day ruler of Virgo. Not only is the Goddess Ceres the actual constellation used with the Virgo archetype, going step-by-step through the assignment of modern day planetary rulership would make Virgo the next in line to receive a modern day ruler, which in synchronicity happens to be Ceres (Ceres was elevated to current planetary status in 2006; since Eris was elevated in 2003, Simms in the same article argues that Eris should be the modern day ruler of Libra).
Mercury is retrograde in Pisces from February 23 until March 17, 2013
Mercury in Pisces moves direct beyond the “retrograde shadow” stationing point on April 6, 2013
Mercury and Neptune conjunct in Pisces on February 6, 2013 at 3 degrees.
Mercury and Mars conjunct in Pisces on February 8 at 6 degrees, in square to Jupiter in Gemini.
Mercury retrograde and Mars conjunct in Pisces on February 26 at 20 degrees, in square to Ceres in Gemini.
Venus conjunct Mercury retrograde in Pisces on March 6 at 12 degrees, in square to Jupiter in Gemini.
Mercury will have final square with Ceres in this cycle on April 16, 2013 with Mercury in Aries and Ceres in Cancer at 4 degrees. The Mercury-Ceres square of this time will be within 5-7 degrees of the Uranus-Pluto square.
Mercury will have final conjunction with Mars in this cycle in Taurus at 14 degrees on May 7, 2013.
Pisces in Mercury may make some think of a poet, or an overly sensitive dreamer who lacks assertion, but during this time in which Mercury and Mars are traveling together in Pisces the energy will be more like a strident Pegasus stubbornly breaking free of any attempt to reign the energy in. As I wrote about in one of my first blog posts in August 2012, I love the heroic quality of the Mercury archetype, who appears in myths as Hermes or Mercury over and over again to make truly miraculous acts of heroic rescue. Mercury is the one God who is repeatedly able to travel down to the depths of the underworld and handle himself enough to rescue a Soul in order for a return to the upperworld. In the myth of Demeter and Persephone, Zeus knows that the only being capable of negotiating a return of Persephone from Pluto back to her mother Demeter, is Hermes.
On an archetypal psychology level, we are able to use our Mercurial functions of perception to explore our dreams, visions, and unconscious patterns that can have great impact on how we are perceiving reality on a conscious level. When Mercury travels retrograde, it is like the same symbolic movement of Hermes traveling into the underworld to communicate with Persephone. Before Persephone was abducted by Pluto, or chose to go with Pluto as the more ancient versions before the invasion of the Patriarchy tell it, she was a young maiden who had not yet explored the dark depths of her psyche or come to an understanding of the unconscious elements of her psyche that influence her daily conscious choices. For example, if she really chose to be taken by Pluto at that time, was she really aware of why she would have been attracting that situation to herself? In the end, whether or not she chose to be taken by Pluto does not really matter because Persephone ultimately faced the reality of her situation of being trapped in the underworld and stepped fully into her power as the Queen of the Spirit world. When Mercury finally reaches her, he is not able to negotiate a complete release of Persephone back to her mother Demeter and the lush green world of the Earth’s surface. As a result, Persephone becomes a bridge between the upperworld and the underworld, between the unconscious and the conscious, and a powerful symbol of the human ability to explore archetypal patterns of our collective and individual consciousness, and to guide others toward a healing and holistic rebirth of their fractured and fragmented unconscious.
The heroic ability of Mercury in myth to travel back and forth from the underworld to the upperworld, from the unconscious to the conscious, mirrors the human ability to use our minds and perceptions to explore what can appear like otherworldy phenomenon that can be at the root of our perceptual nature. When Carl Jung wrote and illustrated his Red Book, for example, he may on the surface have appeared to be lost and crazy to others. However, the legacy of the work he was able to take from his Red Book explorations, his ability to also use his Mercury function to then logically structure writing and communication that could express some of the unexpressable knowledge he had received to a mass audience, ultimately caused a collective revolution in psyche that is being used today by countless healers to help others find and heal themselves.
This ability of Mercury to bring logical written form and structure to otherworldly perceptions and visions, to encode the meaning of the message in the form of a myth, story, or fairy tale, or more analytically organize the message into a more academic psychological or scientific theory, is the power of Mercury in Pisces combined with Fomalhaut, the archangel Gabriel. In Asteroid Goddesses, Demetra George described how the myth of Ceres versus Pluto was used to transmit esoteric knowledge and healing to participants, and how this transformative process is reflected today in Mercurial explorations of our inner psyche:
Within the framework of this archetypal drama, the Eleusinian Mysteries led their initiates through the drama of Ceres and Persephone, of loss and return. First, the story was retold; then, in the Lesser Mysteries, the participants identified with the story’s action; finally, in the Greater Mysteries, they received a vision and revelation that the great mythic drama took place within themselves. These rites are still taking place today, as reported by psychotherapists who have observed the symbols of the ancient initiatory process emerging in their patients’dreams and fantasies. Thus, Ceres’ rites of passage are now being lived out on the inner planes as stages of psychic transformation (p. 45).
Just as the angel Gabriel brought the message of the Qu’ran to the prophet Muhammad, the message of the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary, so can we make sense and order out of perceptions we have during this time that may seem wild and illogical at first. At the beginning of February, Mercury was moving direct conjunct Fomalhaut at the same time it was conjunct Neptune and Mars; days before the Spring Equinox when Mercury stations direct it will be in range of a conjunction to Fomalhaut once again. And then Mercury will move direct and eventually be conjunct Mars for the final time in this cycle on May 7, at the height of Spring in full bloom, a potentially peak time to fully manifest the visions currently simmering inside. At this Spring Equinox, as Persephone returns from the underworld to her mother Demeter, as flowers rise out of the earth, and birdsong returns to the trees, we will likewise have the opportunity to bring form, order, and manifestation to new visions arising from within.
Ah, that Hermes, a crafty fellow who causes much mischief, but at the same time often shows up to save the day in myths, such as braving the underworld to rescue Persephone. During much of this past Summer, the planet Mercury has gone through a long strange trip through the sign of Leo, an odyssey that will be culminating with the Full Moon and Blue Moon in Pisces this upcoming Friday: as Mercury reaches the final degrees of Leo during the Full Moon, it will be in range of opposing Neptune and will exactly oppose Pisces Neptune the next day.
I believe myths reflect the wisdom in the stars and can bring to life a lot of the complex interplanetary dynamics we astrologers love to discuss. With Mercury moving into an opposition with Neptune in Pisces this week, it brings to mind many of the Neptunian myths, the journey of Odysseus among them. In The Odyssey Odysseus primarily has the path of guiding his men back to their home, and himself back to the arms of his wife, Penelope, waiting at home for him. Odysseus and Poseidon (Neptune) square off at many points, but some of the greatest dangers Odysseus gets himself and his men into stems from his Neptunian trysts with the Goddesses Calypso and Circe. Each of these goddesses keeps Oddysseus in their arms as their lover for great lengths of time, Calypso keeping him as her lover for seven years on her island according to Homer! With each Odysseus seems incapable of breaking himself free, reveling in his ecstatic union with each Goddess, while temporarily neglecting his mission to guide himself and his men to their homeland. It is Hermes, or Mercury, who in each instance is able to appear and offer a solution for Odysseus to separate from his Goddess lover. Not that loving a Goddess is wrong in itself, it’s just Odysseus had a clear mission that was put in jeopardy of coming to fruition due to his choice of focusing on the fruits of his Goddess affairs.
In The Odyssey Hermes is able to talk Calypso into letting go of Odysseus through direct language. Calypso is portrayed as a lovely Goddess who plays enchanting music and wants to keep Odysseus as her lover, hoping to make him immortal in his love with her. Hermes negotiates with her to release Odysseus, and seems a little heavy handed with telling her that Zeus (Jupiter) will send repercussions otherwise, but this is sort of what can happen to us when we drift off our path into delights of our senses that begin to pull us away from the path that will lead us to the highest good for ourselves and all other beings- sooner or later something, at times even a crisis, makes us realize we are off-track. And Odysseus does realize he misses Penelope even though she isn’t a beautiful Goddess like Calypso, and he wants to leave to return home. In contrast, Circe is portrayed as more of a manipulating Goddess who casts spells and turns Odysseus’ men into pigs! Again, Hermes comes to the rescue by showing Odysseus the herb Moly that will protect him from the spells of Circe, and gives him clear directions with how to deal with Circe, at the same time warning him that she will become attracted to him as a result. Although Odysseus protects himself from her spell through the use of the herb, he still remains with Circe for a long time as her lover in her deep wooded setting. To me, this example symbolizes the Mercury function of being able to research and categorize healing protections as well as come up with strategies or disciplines to get out of difficulties. But at the same time, in the end we have to make the hard decisions for ourselves to break out of pleasant situations pulling ourselves off our path and get ourselves moving forward again on our path. Recently we have been experiencing astrological transits reflecting a lot of illusions and confusing experiences baffling many, pulling many off the track of their true path. Like Odysseus, many of us could use the help and skill of clear-headed Mercury at this time.
In the past month or so, in the midst of the intense Pluto-Uranus square, the new era of Neptune in Pisces has been ushered in more intensely with a square aspect between Pisces Neptune, Sagitarius North Node of the Moon, and Gemini South Node of the Moon. In times ripe with illusion, when many are feeling confused and disoriented about what is illusionary and what is true insight, while others are living an illusion in complete denial of it, one of the most helpful skills to hold is discernment. The planetary function of Mercury is involved with discernment, as it not only has to do with the way we communicate, it also has to do with the way we perceive phenomenal reality as part of our thinking, reflecting, and communicating process. Recently Mercury went through a retrograde phase and is now moving forward again and picking up speed, having moved out of it’s “shadow” period of retrograde motion last week.
The Sabian symbols can offer us some insight into how Leo Mercury can help us. On July 14, 2012 Mercury stationed retrograde at 13 degrees Leo:
Leo 13: An old sea captain rocking
This is a symbol of man’s great love for reliving his experiences in memory, and of his gift for achieving a mastery in advance of whatever new situations he may face by bringing all the ramifying relationships to a focus in a personal and competent grasp of their more pertinent potentialities.
—Marc Edmond Jones, The Sabian Symbols
So just as the “old sea captain” makes me think of Odysseus, more important is the emphasis on retrospect and reflection, reliving experiences from memory- a perfect symbol for any Mercury retrograde period, and a clue that part of our task has been to sort through Neptunian confusion, and to make an honest reflection about all of our relationships. Events may have been disorienting, and Mercury has asked us to confront our responsibility in the difficulties we have experienced, as well as our responsibility in bringing ourselves self-fulfillment.
On August 7, 2012 Mercury stationed direct at 2 degrees of Leo, while making a quincunx aspect with Pisces Neptune, trining the Sagitarius North Node and sextiling the Gemini South Node, while Pisces Neptune was intensely squaring these same nodes at the same time. Again the Sabian symbol described by Marc Edmund Jones in his book The Sabian Symbols is illuminating:
Leo 2: An epidemic of mumps
This is a symbol of personal capacities wholly out of hand, and of the momentary appeal of escapist ideas whenever the self fails to remain alive to its own immediate needs or ultimate interests. The reversed symbolism emphasizes the absolute necessity laid on every living spirit, that somehow it retain a passionate sensitiveness to the practical import or organic usefulness of everything it encounters in its everyday situation.
So, to help propel us forward toward our collective soul direction at this time (and the Sabian symbol for the North Node at this time fittingly was “The ocean covered with whitecaps”) we need to pay more attention than normal to our practical needs on a daily basis, what is truly feeding us in our day-to-day life— but to be clear this means what is practical in helping us live our highest good, in a way that will help bring light and love for the highest good of all beings in our world— what is feeding our Soul life our true soul development. Sometimes escapism can be more obvious like going out to a bar and getting drunk, or sitting around watching superficial television or movies, but other times we may think we are doing what we are called for, when what is calling us is truly an illusion. Take Paul Ryan, for example. During this time period Paul Ryan became the Vice Presidential nominee for the Republican Party- he wholeheartedly believes what he believes, and it is portrayed as good home common sense. But in reality his philosophy is deeply rooted in the novelist Ayn Rand, who at the end of the day is more of an escapist read at the beach than a fully spiritually realized soul imparting deep wisdom on our planet.
Likewise many of us may have been wrapped up in a belief during this time period we felt was serving out highest good, only to experience the disillusionment of the universal truth of that belief falling apart. We are constantly being bombarded by images from our friends and strangers via social media networks, as well as manipulative images from the media aimed at manipulating our desires. As upsetting as periods of disillusionment can be, however, what is helpful about them is that they let us know we have gotten off track and that we need to re-center and find our true path again. How do we discern when we are following our true soul path, versus when we are thinking that we are but are actually following an illusion that is separating us from our true path? Today as I was contemplating the best words to choose to answer this question, I bought the new astrology report written by my astrology teacher, Rosie Finn, and I had to laugh, as Rosie answered this question very well in her own writing!
Also, desires are spread. We want something because our senses have been accosted, influencing us to want it and we lose track of our soul longing. When we are tuned into our soul longing we feel it on every level. A ringing vibration moves through us. Our hair stands up. We get a chill. We feel it all over. When a desire co-opts our longing, we feel agitated, like we are missing something. When we feel a true soul longing, the feeling itself satisfies us. It is our own unique journey that is being high lighted. We know our next step. We may feel loss but not agitation, not anxiety, not distress. We feel a direction when we feel our soul longing.
–Rosie Finn, from the September 2012 Plants and Planets
As the Pisces Full Moon this Friday approaches, Pisces Neptune is still in range of squaring the lunar nodes, and the disorientation of this could get all the more confusing once Mercury gets to the end of Leo and in range of opposing Neptune. To make things even more intense, this upcoming Full Moon will be conjunct Chiron in Pisces, meaning that some of our deepest emotional wounds could be triggered. While getting emotionally triggerred can make us even more disorientated than normal, if we have been clearing and letting go during this recent time, moving with the changes reflected by the Uranus-Pluto square, and doing or moving toward our soul work, this week could instead be a moment to connect with inner divinity, illumination, God, Goddess, Great Spirit, what you want to call it. If we can have the courage to face our deepest emotional wounds and not look for ways to escape our reality and our true path, it may not be easy, it may be extremely emotional, but at least the energy can ultimately be cathartic and propel us forward, instead of further into confusion and away from the path calling to us.