Full Moon in Scorpio

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Configuration No. 16 by Max Ernst

Full Moon in Scorpio

Soon after our Sun enters Taurus this year, the stabilizing home of Venus, we experience its polarity through the darkly desirous sign of Scorpio becoming illuminated at the Full Moon on April 21/22, 2016.  While the Sun in Taurus facilitates centering within the body, patiently cultivating security from inner values, and luxuriating within whatever one finds beautiful, the Full Moon in Scorpio reveals the shadow of yearnings in its light, unearthing the deeper source of what we need to feel secure.  Within the reflection of this Scorpio Full Moon, feelings overflow from everything that has been denied or controlled as suppressed memories and passions arise to surface awareness.  Perception opens to the surrounding emotions of whatever has not been previously expressed, lending a keener, penetrating capacity to peer into the source behind or at the root of surrounding relationships, people, and myriad other forms.

Taurus and Scorpio are a Fixed polarity, signs that anchor the seasons as well as anchor consciousness in our material world.  Both Taurus and Scorpio hold the potential, however, for their capacity to anchor to lead one to becoming stuck through over fixation upon a desire or a way of being.  The range of extremity can be found in stubborn refusal to merge and open oneself to other perspectives and people, to becoming so compulsively drawn to merging with another person or source that covert manipulation is utilized in an attempt to sustain the connection and guard against the threat of loss.  The polarity between Taurus and Scorpio also bears the potential to discover one’s essentialness within the osmosis of uniting with others emotionally, sexually, mentally, or spiritually, making it possible to participate in committed relationships focused on authentic growth without compulsive dependencies being present.

The Scorpio Full Moon itself is not making any major aspects to planets, but is applying to a conjunction with the asteroid Juno retrograde in Scorpio.  Juno being with the Full Moon activates a focus on partnership via Scorpio, and fittingly in Asteroid Goddesses Demetra George described the Juno archetype as embodying issues that align with Scorpio such as  (1) fear of abandonment, (2) fear of betrayal, (3) fear of sexuality, (4) the giving away of power, (5) subtle manipulation, and (6) projection and repression (p. 161-163).  With Juno retrograde conjoining the Full Moon in Scorpio, and both Mars and Pluto having stationed retrograde the week prior to the lunation, the bright Moon will bring a pull into the inner vastness where we find the source of the relational dynamics we create.

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Birds Swooping Down and Arrows (1919) by Paul Klee

The Full Moon is ruled by Mars retrograde in Sagittarius and illuminates our entry into the long retrograde journey ahead with the red planet.  Mars is moving backward along with Saturn in Sagittarius, about seven degrees apart at the time of the lunation, but the movement of Mars is barely beyond a standstill.  It is too early to know what catalyzing and cathartic experiences will be coming during the Mars retrograde, but the Scorpio Full Moon will deliver a visceral sense of the major issues coming to the forefront at its initiation.  With Mars in range of a square to Neptune, there are elements of disillusionment happening that in the end will fuel a fiery rebirth of primal purpose, but at this moment feels disorienting and upsetting.

The modern viewpoint of Pluto ruling this Full Moon further emphasizes eruptive shifts in our world, as Pluto also recently stationed retrograde.  The Scorpio Full Moon heavily highlights Pluto in Capricorn, as it is not only standing still but involved in numerous potent astrological aspects.  Pluto has been direct since September 2015, and as it begins to recede so will our minds descend into the ineffable fabric of our Soul and unconscious where dormant memories and meaning will be regenerated.  Pluto is also known to initiate a death process or letting go of whatever we have been resisting releasing. The overall synthesis of surrounding aspects to Pluto indicate that the material being dredged up for digestion, no matter how painful and no matter how much grieving it necessitates, ultimately is feeding growth and essential self-realization that will bring rewards in the future.  At this moment, however, it will be difficult to fully understand what is being stirred up by Pluto.

While the stationary influences of Mars and Pluto brings an underworld awakening focus to the Scorpio Full Moon, Mercury in Taurus is shining bright in stark contrast, a role the star of Hermes delights in playing.  Mercury in Taurus is sharing the home of Venus along with our vivifying Solar Light, continuing to increase in light as an Evening Star.  Mercury in Taurus is also in range of a Grand Earth Trine at the Full Moon with Pluto in Capricorn and the conjunction of Jupiter with the North Node of the Moon in Virgo.  Moreover, Mercury is conjoining the asteroid Vesta in Taurus, adding an emphasis of focused devotion to the Winged Messenger.  Mercury here in Taurus is in prime position to assist with the discovery of personal resources carried at a core level that foster self-sufficiency.  With both the Sun as well as Mercury in the home of Venus, this emphasis of Taurus bolsters capacity to harmonize elements of life based upon inner values as a remedy to the obsessive extremities of Scorpio as well as the accentuated influence of stationing Mars and Pluto.  In addition, since Mercury is also now in the shadow zone of its retrograde phase coming at the end of April, the Scorpio Full Moon will illuminate some of the issues that will demand attention during the forthcoming Mercury retrograde.

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by Pablo Picasso (1922)

Venus in Aries is separating from a square with Pluto in Capricorn at the time of the Scorpio Full Moon and carrying this catalytic tension into a union with the unsettling force of Uranus.  These explosive aspects of Venus are paramount to consider since both the Sun and Mercury are in the home of Venus, and the closely applying conjunction between Venus and Uranus is occurring in the home of Mars, with Mars at the beginning of its long retrograde journey.  Although only a temporary transit this week, the square between Pluto and Venus can ramp up the compulsive relational dynamics signified by the Scorpio Full Moon, such as addiction to sex or obsession with the presence of another, and can also bring up hard feelings from the loss of a relationship.  The square between Venus and Pluto is in its first quarter phase, and so on a deeper level the Venus-Pluto dynamic is about making deep structural changes in the aspects of life that will ultimately enable greater fulfillment.

Venus uniting with Uranus can correlate with electrifying experiences that destabilize and open up freeing, higher frequency opportunities.  The overwhelming emotional desires that can come up with Pluto and Venus can lead to expectations in relationship that the freedom-oriented Uranus rebels against.  The conjunction between Venus and Uranus culminating at the Full Moon can reveal the projections we make in relationship and the underlying dynamics of the relationships being created.  There is a quality of objectifying ourselves and our relationships that can be accessed through Uranus, and so with Venus uniting with Uranus the intense feelings around relationship have the potential to transmute from obsessive compulsions into objective self-realization.  Shocks in relationship can rip us apart and bring feelings of complete dismantling, and yet ultimately there can be found in the experience vital insight into how to rebuild our life and surrounding relationships so that liberation from past restrictive patterns is realized.

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5 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Scorpio 1 Decan

The first face of Scorpio holding the Full Moon is associated with the Five of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  The image appears desolate at first glance, with a figure full of despair staring with fixation upon three spilled, empty chalices on the ground.  However, upon closer look we notice that there are still two upright chalices behind the figure, suggesting that all is not lost.  In fact, the two remaining cups could be deeply fulfilling despite the grief over losing the other three cups.  We can also notice a river flowing underneath a bridge behind the figure, bringing in the ancient flux philosophy of Heraclitus that no one ever steps in the same river twice since the river is always changing as well as the person.  As a result, this card is a fitting image to associate with the first decan of Scorpio as it captures the fundamental nature of having desires within our constantly shifting world in which we must deal with death and the loss of what we desire most in the world.

Mars rules the first face of Scorpio, further deepening the relationship between the Full Moon and Mars retrograde in Sagittarius.  Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces synthesized the images associated with this face around the repeating cycle of desire, including consuming hunger, the satiation of desire, the loss of what one desires, and the competition and violence that surrounds pursuing the desired.  Coppock concluded:

In this decan we are brought to confront the cycle of hungers which are the price and pleasure of incarnate being. The object of desire always skirts the edges of this face while its inhabitants give chase. Some gain the object of their desire, some fail. All come to know hunger again. Though this may seem a particularly tortured decan, it is merely one which exposes a hard truth. Confronting the cycle, we are less bound to it, and less blind, than if we ignore it.

— Austin Coppock, 36 Faces, p. 176

The timeless stories that have moved people across centuries involve tragedy, perhaps, because it is through loss of what we want most in life that we often discover our most profound lessons of wisdom and enact the greatest periods of individuating growth.  Or perhaps it is the loss that necessitates grief or putting a desire to rest that can most readily open our hearts fully to the tragedy and trauma inflicting innumerable humans across time and space.  After one cycle of desire concludes, another one arises and again brings the potential for ecstatic fulfillment or painful loss.  Through facing our desires fully without denial, we develop awareness for which desires to continue pursuing with resilience and which desires are not in our best interest to regenerate.  With Mars, the ruler of this face as well as this Scorpio Full Moon, now beginning to awaken in its rupturing retrograde movement, we are presented with a period in which to discover the deepest levels of our desires.

References

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

George, Demetra with Bloch, Douglas. (1986). Asteroid Goddesses. ACS.

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Mercury Retrograde Talk in Portland, OR – May 12, 2016

Mercury-Alchemical Symbol green

Mercury Retrograde Guidance

Thursday, May 12, 2016

7:00 – 8:30 pm

I am excited to announce that I will be presenting a talk at New Renaissance Bookshop in Portland, Oregon on May 12 about the meaning and experience of Mercury Retrograde in astrology. The cost will be $15. New Renaissance Bookshop is located at 1338 NW 23rd Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97210.  If you live in the Portland area or can journey to the City of Roses at this time, I hope you will join me.

Mercury Retrograde is not a time to fear, but instead presents unique opportunities for growth.  This talk will dispel popular misconceptions regarding Mercury Retrograde and illuminate how to effectively navigate the liminal space opened within it.  The changeable, protean nature of Mercury will be explored, revealing how Mercury mutates symbolically into its chthonic role of a Guide of Souls during its retrograde.  Correspondingly, Mercury Retrograde offers an alternate realm of perception that can facilitate the uncovering of essential aspects of Self.  

Time will also be spent investigating the astrological significance of the three Mercury retrogrades during 2016 all occurring in Earth signs with significant aspects in transit to Mars, and what this can mean personally for you.

 

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New Moon & Uranus in Aries

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Birth of a Galaxy (1969) by Max Ernst

The New Moon on April 7 is aligned with Uranus in Aries and animates the creative field within, inciting feelings and visions of the extraordinary life we wish to manifest.   This is the first lunar cycle to follow the deep dark purging and regeneration of the previous lunar month that began with an incredibly potent Total Solar Eclipse in Pisces and peaked with  a Lunar Eclipse in Libra.  One theme of the previous lunar cycle was dredging up old wounds, patterns, attachments, and karmic complexes in need of awareness and decomposition, creating a fertile matrix through which to reveal a brighter, more essential presence.  In contrast to the blackest black sourcing of the previous lunar cycle that held the cosmic seed of potential, this New Moon in Aries gives birth to a new lunar cycle awash in flames of fiery rhapsody.  Though there are fireworks embedded in this Aries New Moon, however, the lunar cycle that commences is filled with chthonic and constrictive forces in the form of both a Mars retrograde and Mercury retrograde that will initiate during the waxing and waning of our lunar sphere.

Uranus is known as a planet that corresponds with the great revolutions of humanity, a maverick transpersonal force correlating to electrifying, liberating, shocking, and traumatic experiences.  Uranus is an awakener, a force that goes beyond human sensitivities of what feels good and nurturing versus what feels scary and troubling.  In the end when working with Uranus, it is a matter of how much you feel alive and able to radiate your being into your surroundings more so than whether or not you have the material comforts and ideal relationships in your life.  It is possible to direct the vivifying, creative matrix of Uranus toward the matter and relationships you want to develop in your life, however, and this New Moon brings an ideal opportunity to set intentions for a radical vision of what can be manifested in life.

Uranus can be a liberating force, yet in the transpersonal, unconscious realm it activates we can also find ourselves acting in scenes and faced with choices that mirror past repetitive patterns.  The liberating potential Uranus brings is the possibility that we have broken free of our old mindset and can now make a radically different and supremely empowering choice.  With this in mind, consider that Uranus in Aries is now three degrees away from its square with Pluto in Capricorn as Pluto is beginning to station retrograde.  This New Moon conjoining Uranus as a result marks a turning point in the square between Uranus and Pluto that has dominated astrology for the past several years, as Uranus will now begin to slowly separate.  While the Pluto and Uranus square is still in orb and still in effect, this New Moon offers the opportunity to embrace the Uranian side of the equation and break free from Plutonic resistance to working toward a liberated vision of what life could be.

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Elective Affinities (1933) by Rene Magritte

Mars is the ruler of this New Moon in Aries, yet the primal yang nature of Mars is full of constriction and constraint since Mars is stationing retrograde in range of a conjunction with Saturn retrograde in Sagittarius.  Mars is going to barely move during the upcoming lunar cycle, and by the time the Moon waxes full Mars will be retrograde.  There is no way to fully know at this Aries New Moon what is to come in the upcoming Mars retrograde, and though it may lead to separation or loss from some current desires, this New Moon is a perfect time to gain clarity within the structure and pressure of Saturn for the core desires to forge in the fires of the pending Mars retrograde.

Mars is also in range of a square to Neptune in Pisces, while the Aries New Moon is in square with Pluto in Capricorn.  Furthermore, the Aries New Moon is in trine to Saturn in Sagittarius as Saturn’s retrograde movement is leading it backward toward squares with both Jupiter in Virgo and Neptune in Pisces.  Mars direct yet deeply constrained in forward momentum lights an inner fire increasing in magnitude yet lacking a full release.  There is enormous potency felt, an intuition of incredible change on the horizon, yet it is a slowly simmering sense of something cooking and incubating rather than full ripeness ready for birth.

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The Cardinals are Dying (1962) by Max Ernst

Venus is in early Aries, the home of Mars, at the New Moon following a Dark Moon in Aries that occults Venus at the first degree of Aries.  Venus is applying to a first quarter trine with Mars in the blackness of the new lunation, further activating a fiery sense of purposeful potential to initiate.  Venus in Aries is a strong signifier for self-empowerment and interdependent empowerment of those we are in relationship with.  In the morning sky, Venus is still visible at the time of the Aries New Moon but on the brink of making a disappearance under the beams of the Sun.  During the upcoming lunar cycle Venus will become invisible within our solar rays, entering into a purification process that will last until the end of July 2016 when Venus reappears as an Evening Star.  This New Moon is ideal for opening to receive a message concerning expression and embodiment of your Venusian nature.

Mercury is now in Taurus, the home of Venus, where the winged messenger will reside for the next two months.  Mercury is now increasing in light as an Evening Star and in a phase that will facilitate integration of all of the old karmic material stirred up by the past lunar cycle of eclipses.  Mercury in Taurus can assist in developing grounded processes that can cultivate growth from a perspective focused upon long-term rewards rather than immediate gratification, yet Hermes in the home of Venus will also delight in sensual, hedonistic pleasure when given the opportunity.  Mercury will station retrograde at the end of April resulting in Mercury remaining in Taurus through June 12, yet the Evening Star phase occurring now is a unique part of the journey to savor.

In addition to Mercury gracing our sunset as an Evening Star, a magnificent omen appearing as the Sun falls below the horizon is Jupiter rising in the east in the tropical sign of Virgo and the constellation of the Lion.  Jupiter can now be watched in the sky all night long and offers himself as a wishing star for your grandest dreams and ambitions.

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3 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

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

The Sun as ruler of the second face of Aries is further strengthened by the Aries New Moon conjoining the exact degree of the Sun’s exaltation, enlivening the solar symbolism of this face and one’s capacity to vigorously initiate purposeful enterprises.  Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces described the focus of this face as being “the world which emanates from an individual” and “the qualities which they choose to embody” (p. 59).  Coppock wrote that the ability to create one’s own world found in this face leads to not only the attraction and magnetism of others of like-mind, but also to “the key to creating pocket realities which do not obey the laws of the collective reality field in which they exist” (p. 60).

With the New Moon conjoining Uranus, as well as in range of a conjunction with the paradigm bursting dwarf planet Eris, the opportunity found within the fiery electric aspects of this New Moon to manifest radical vision should be seized and not taken lightly.  Glory may fade, but in the fearless splendor of striving for our deepest desires despite the perpetual possibility of heartbreak we discover the sacred.  The ability to integrate the transpersonal, liberating, and shocking realm of Uranus into the creation of artistic worlds was described by Virginia Woolf in Moments of Being:

And so I go on to suppose that the shock-receiving capacity is what makes me a writer. I hazard the explanation that a shock is at once in my case followed by the desire to explain it. I feel that I have had a blow; but it is not, as I thought as a child, simply a blow from an enemy hidden behind the cotton wool of daily life; it is or will become a revelation of some order; it is a token of some real thing behind appearances; and I make it real by putting it into words.  It is only by putting it into words that I make it whole; this wholeness means that it has lost its power to hurt me; it gives me, perhaps because by doing so I take away the pain, a great delight to put the severed parts together.  Perhaps this is the strongest pleasure known to me.  It is the rapture I get when in writing I seem to be discovering what belongs to what; making a scene come right; making a character come together. From this I reach what I might call a philosophy; at any rate it is a constant idea of mine; that behind the cotton wool is hidden a pattern; that we-  I mean all human beings-  are connected with this; that the whole world is a work of art; that we are parts of the work of art.  Hamlet or a Beethoven quartet is the truth about this vast mass that we call the world. But there is no Shakespeare, there is no Beethoven; certainly and emphatically there is no God; we are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself.  And I see this when I have a shock.

— Virginia Woolf

References

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

Woolf, Virginia. (1976). Moments of Being. Harcourt Brace & Company.

Mars Retrograde 2016

Hilma af Klint

by Hilma af Klint

Mars Retrograde in Sagittarius & Scorpio

The Mars retrograde that begins April 17 at 8°54′ Sagittarius and ends June 29 at 23°4′ Scorpio promises to generate intense, life altering events.  Mars retrograde periods correspond symbolically with extreme inner heat that amplifies the potential for complete transformation of life circumstances, and this particular Mars retrograde coincides with last quarter squares between Jupiter and Saturn as well as Saturn and Neptune, in addition to a Mercury retrograde phase and the superior conjunction of Venus with the Sun.  Mars goes retrograde the least often, only once every 26 months or so, for about a period of three months.  Mars is closest in its orbit to Earth when it is retrograde, signifying an intensification of all things Mars, while its apparent retrograde motion signifies an inward turn to the normally outwardly directed force of Mars.  In collective events, the ramping up of Mars through the constraint of its stationing will correspond with explosions of conflict and martial forces in need of mediating.

Traditionally, Mars has been associated for millennia with separating and dividing, catalyzing movement, conflict, and eruptions of symbolic and literal heat.  Mars also has a tradition of corresponding with courage and those who will protect, guard, defend, and serve others unconditionally, embodying the highest ideals of a warrior protector.  In the alchemical process of separation and union, Mars can be associated with the power and strength of the flame that effects change through separating and purifying component parts in its fiery heat.  During Mars retrograde our inner fire combusts and from a centered place of alchemical fire we melt the chains of our past and regenerate our sense of willful purpose in life. With the Mars retrograde turning the separating and dividing function of Mars inward, a core process ensues of realigning ourselves toward our most deeply felt desire and purpose in the moment. By embracing the corresponding constriction upon external martial flow and the magnification of inner fire, during Mars retrograde we enter a period of dramatic shifts, changes, endings, and beginnings occurring in our myriad relationships with the world around us.

Some people seem to be more profoundly impacted by Mars retrograde periods than others, and some people also seem to be more strongly impacted by Mars retrograde in certain signs than in other signs.  As a general rule, Mars retrograde periods can be one of those magical astrological vortexes in which significant encounters and experiences carry a destined feeling of gravity.  A great way to get a feel for how Mars retrograde periods impact you is to reflect upon your experiences during the past Mars retrograde periods.  Below is a list of the Mars retrogrades periods that have happened since 1999- note that from May through June of 2001 there was a Mars retrograde that also occurred in Sagittarius, though a completely different section of Sagittarius than the current one:

  • March 1 – May 19, 2014: stationed retrograde at 28 Libra, stationed direct at 10 Libra.
  • January 24 – April 14, 2012: stationed retrograde at 24 Virgo, stationed direct at 4 Virgo.
  • December 20, 2009 – March 10, 2010: stationed retrograde at 20 Leo, stationed direct at 1 Leo.
  • November 15, 2007 – January 30, 2008: stationed retrograde at 13 Cancer, stationed direct at 25 Gemini.
  • October 1 – December 10, 2005: stationed retrograde at 24 Taurus, stationed direct at 9 Taurus.
  • July 29 – September 27, 2003: stationed retrograde at 11 Pisces, stationed direct at 1 Pisces.
  • May 11 – July 19, 2001: stationed retrograde at 30 Sagittarius, stationed direct at 16 Sagittarius.
  • March 18 – June 4, 1999: stationed retrograde at 13 Scorpio, stationed direct at 25 Libra.
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Mundus est Fabula (1959) by Max Ernst

Astrology like other meaning we discover in life is rooted in the personal story of our experiences.  In the interface between one’s personal narrative and the collective narrative, the complex web of interrelationships shifts and mutates across time.  The meaning of our past experiences and how it impacts our choices in the moment can change radically in the split second of an epiphany.  We tell our life story to others, and the narrative telling of our life changes:  how we describe our life story today is vastly different from how we would have told it in the past, or how we will tell it in the future.  Sagittarius where Mars is stationing is the home of outwardly directed Jupiter and an archetypal place of discovering personal truth in life experiences, a knowledge that goes beyond belief.  With Mars stationing in range of a square to Neptune in Pisces, as Pluto stations retrograde the following day, and Saturn is co-present with Mars in Sagittarius, a restructuring and regeneration of our meaning and purpose in life is underway.

In times of strife, demanding tasks and difficulties, we come to a deeper understanding of our personal truth as well as discover new sources of strength inside.  Since Pluto stations retrograde in Capricorn, the home of Saturn, a day after Mars stations retrograde, and since Mars is stationing for the entirety of April while being co-present with Saturn in Sagittarius, there is a strong element of Saturn bringing karmic tests or challenges requiring disciplined perseverance during this Mars retrograde.  In experiences of melancholy corresponding with Saturn, we can also tap into the vast suffering of the collective.  Most vitally, the binding of Saturn combined with the catalyzing of Mars can be put to the creation of great works if the necessary focused effort and determination is applied. While contemplating Mars retrograde recently, the theme of “the wand chooses the wizard” from the Harry Potter stories came to me.  By this I mean that a destined calling could arise in this period deeply bound to the fabric of one’s nature.  It will work best not to willfully demand certain choices but rather to accept and align with the mission, project, relationships, or journey that has chosen us to be a vital player in.

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Bird with Void by Morris Graves

Mars and Pluto

The simultaneous stationing retrograde of both Mars and Pluto is fascinating from the perspective of the Evolutionary Astrology system developed by Jeff Green, as here the relationship between Mars and Pluto reveals the leading edge of desires emanating from the Soul.  In Evolutionary Astrology, Mars moving direct corresponds with desire for unrestricted freedom that can be both impulsive and instinctual.  When Mars moves retrograde, however, the inward direction of Mars ignites our inner energy field and we become drawn into taking greater consideration of our Soul.  Astrologers view Mars retrograde periods as times in which Mars is untethered from conditioned constraints and more of a maverick force, yet Evolutionary Astrology points to the possibility of using Mars retrograde to access greater consideration in action and less impulsiveness.

There is an interesting connection between the meaning of Mars retrograde in Evolutionary Astrology and the heliocentric nodes of Mars, with the South Node of Mars being Scorpio and the North Node  of Mars being Taurus.  The South Node of Mars being Scorpio connects perfectly with Scorpio being the home of Mars, a sign where Mars is most comfortable and natural.  In Evolutionary Astrology, the South Node of Mars being Scorpio also connects with Pluto sourcing the desires set in motion through Mars.  The Scorpio South Node reveals the evolutionary arc of Mars coming from a desire to merge with external sources, whether that be sexual merging with a lover, spiritual merging with a belief system, or any other act of merging with any external source.  The North Node of Mars being Taurus reveals an evolution of Mars into the inner, self-reliant realm of Taurus that is centered within an inner source that is not dependent upon, or conditioned by external sources.

Though Mars retrograde is a completely different concept than the heliocentric nodes of Mars, the opportunity to utilize the Mars retrograde  for centering does have some resonance with the Taurus North Node meaning.  Since Pluto stations retrograde in Capricorn the day after Mars stations retrograde, in correspondence there is an opportunity to go deep within our inner recesses and explore what from within is informing our external action. As a result, the period of Mars retrograde can help our personality align to a greater extent with our Soul’s intention and purpose. To achieve this requires listening inwardly and reflecting before launching into impulsively egocentric action.

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Chiron from Greek vase

Sagittarius Symbolism

The mutable, yang, and fiery nature of Sagittarius is paramount to take into account regarding this Mars retrograde.  Mars will spend all of April stationing in Sagittarius, and will continue to be retrograde in Sagittarius for all of May save about four days.  Sagittarius is a double-bodied sign symbolized in the image of the centaur, half human and half horse.  The half horse aspect of the centaur is connected to the instinctual, survival based realm of the lower torso, while the half human part contains the chest, heart, throat, mind, dexterous hands, and other instruments of human consciousness.  Sagittarius is a sign of creative manifestation, of mediating spiritual forces in the body through the mindful focus of an archer locked on a target.  Sagittarius feels the inexorable magnetism of the eternal horizon and the undiscovered, full of desire to experience adventure and the fullness of life.

With Mars stationing at a standstill in Sagittarius for so long, while we will no doubt feel a call to adventure of one sort or another, the astrological fact Mars is basically not moving for over a month creates great astrological constriction.  While we can experience expansion within this containment and associated experiences, the expansion is likely to come from inner pressure creating bursts of expression or release.   For example, I recently participated in a stimulating webinar entitled The Alchemy of Colour by Dr. Aaron Cheak, in which Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s color theory that a boundary is necessary to produce colors was explored.  Though creation does come from chaos, the co-presence of Saturn with Mars retrograde in Sagittarius will reveal how structure and containment leads to expansion of wisdom and creativity.  As Sagittarius is the home of Jupiter, this Mars retrograde will bring opportunities to discover a deepening of philosophical awareness and associated ethics to live from, rooted in visceral understanding through experience.

The intuitive knowing and self confidence of Sagittarius can also lead to dogmatism and a crusading mentality that creates violence and terrorism based around belief systems such as religion, politics, and philosophy.  Unfortunately in world events, as there are already innumerable conflicts rooted in these Sagittarius themes, greater violence, warfare, and human suffering is likely to occur during this Mars retrograde.  Activists also become crusaders around desire to end oppression and uphold principles of social justice, and so the timeless debate of how direct and violent this sort of actions needs to be to effect change will once again dominate.  There can also be a crusading mentality rooted in peace and nonviolence, that utilizes the creative visioning of Sagittarius to manifest complex acts of direct action and protest aimed at shutting down oppressive power structures without creating collateral casualties in the process.  With Uranus in Aries, the home of Mars, there is likely to be a great resurgence of protest movements arising with reinvigorated force.

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Antares in the heart of the Scorpion from Uranometria by Johannes Bayer

Antares

A crucial, unique aspect of this Mars retrograde is that Mars stations while conjoining the fixed star Antares.  Antares is named for being the “rival of Mars” because it is a giant binary star that glows red in our night sky.  Antares is one of the four ancient royal stars of Persia that were utilized in the past by sky watchers to anchor the seasons, with Antares holding down the season of Fall in the heart of the Scorpion constellation.  Though the four royal stars no longer line up with the seasons in the tropical zodiac utilized in western astrology, they still carry ancient symbolic significance: Aldebaran (opposite to Antares in Gemini now, and connected with Spring Equinox), Fomalhaut (located at about four degrees Pisces now and connected with Winter Solstice), and Regulus (located at the beginning of Virgo now and connected with Summer Solstice). If you remember, the Venus retrograde that occurred last July and August 2015 began with Venus stationing retrograde while conjoining Regulus, and so this further deepens the meaning of us now experiencing Mars stationing retrograde while conjoining Antares.

Ptolemy famously linked Antares with Mars and Jupiter, and Vivian Robson portrayed Antares as causing “malevolence, destructiveness, liberality” and making “natives rash, ravenous, headstrong, and destructive to themselves by their own obstinacy” (p. 137).  Reinhold Ebertin deduced “Antares makes people tough, belligerent and pugnacious” and though could be connected with “mental alertness, strategic ability, and courage . . . If associated with Mars, courage is said to become foolhardiness, leading to increased dangers” (p. 70-1).  There is a long tradition of warning about the dangers of hubris yoked to headstrong martial force in connection to Antares, yet the clearly forceful and determined correspondences of Antares could also be put to thoughtful use.  It seems the positive interpretation of Antares bound to the beginning of this Mars retrograde is to strengthen the resolve of one’s inner warrior and resiliency, as long as consideration is taken to not be overly self righteous, stubborn, and egotistical. An aspect of Sagittarius that leads to difficulties comes from impulsive action lacking foresight, and so finding disciplined practices to utilize for centering and mindfulness will be especially helpful.

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8 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Sagittarius 1 Decan

The first face of Sagittarius where Mars stations retrograde is ruled by Mercury and associated with speed of movement, as the image of the corresponding Eight of Wands card in tarot displays.  Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces wrote this face “entails the swift emergence of a motivating vision and the attainment of a vehicle to move one toward the pictured goal” (p. 194).  Mercury connecting to this Mars retrograde bridges the swiftness of our mind and imagination to the martial transformation at hand. At the time Mars stations retrograde, Mercury will be in the middle of Taurus in its Evening Star phase.  Mars stationing in a face ruled by Mercury brings up interesting connections, as similar to Sagittarius, Mercury also is a lover of the road, finding its home in the “in between place” between the beginning of the journey and the destination.  As Mars is known for conflict, so is Mercury known for contrariness, and so this resonance further amplifies the level of heated exchanges that will commence.   From the flames of conflict the inessential will be burned off to reveal primal, authentic passion and purpose.

Mars entered Sagittarius on March 5, and will be retrograde in the first face of Sagittarius from April 17 – May 27, 2016.  After stationing direct in Scorpio at the end of June, Mars will return to the first decan of Sagittarius at the time of a New Moon in Leo on 2 August 2016, eventually entering the second decan of Sagittarius around August 22 when the Sun enters Virgo.  Mars will not leave Sagittarius and enter Capricorn until 27 September 2016, a day after Pluto stations direct in Capricorn.

As a result, from April through May we are introduced to the vision and goals that will be signified by Mars retrograde, yet associated challenges will limit the ability to fully accelerate to the finish line.  Vitally, the heart of the Mars retrograde phase when Mars becomes exactly opposite the Sun will occur on May 22 with Mars at two degrees of Sagittarius and the Sun at two degrees of Gemini- this binds the visionary meaning of the first face of Sagittarius even more strongly to this Mars retrograde phase.  Then later in August, during a crucial period in which Mars will be conjoining Saturn in Sagittarius, Mars will return to the first face of Sagittarius and we will have uncovered a deeper sense of purpose and emboldened will-force with which to act from and respond.  In between, Mars will retrograde and then station direct in its home of Scorpio where we will be dipped into a boiling cauldron of transformation.

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7 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Scorpio 3 Decan

Mars will retrograde back into the third face of Scorpio on May 27, station direct on June 29, and eventually leave Scorpio to return to Sagittarius on August 2 during the darkest of a Dark Moon.  The 7 of Cups illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith is associated with the third decan of Scorpio, and inside the image are seven chalices holding visions of human desires such as fame, wealth, and power. Yet the cynosure of this assembly is a veiled figure with open arms emerging from the center cup. The meaning includes being overcome by the illusions of our desires, with the possibility of discerning the one choice that will bring clarity and increased opportunities for true desires.  Austin Coppock in 36 Faces analyzed this decan as being “ultimately a face of wrestling with one’s own desire nature, for it leads one inevitably back to confrontation with the nature of desire itself” (p. 187).  Coppock suggested that the illusions surrounding our desires and the loss of being separated from the object of our desire takes us into a destruction and regeneration process that liberates us through “laying our desires to rest, returning them to pure energy” so that new desires can grow from their putrefaction (p. 188).

Venus is a fitting ruler of this decan as she could be interpreted as our inner source of desired visions emanating above our horizon.  Potently, Venus will be purified within the rays of the Sun at her superior conjunction while Mars is retrograde in Scorpio, creating a direct confrontation with one’s desire nature.  Mars is at home in Scorpio, and so this period of the retrograde from the end of May through the end of June will be full-on Mars, with the flames of surrounding conflicts and drama rising.  On personal levels, there is potential for some to lose control in a frenzy of fixation on desires on the one hand, while on the other hand there is also potential to purify and regenerate one’s  desire nature, shedding and then intensifying purposeful will-force.

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Emblem 33 of Atalanta Fugiens by Michael Maier

Mercury Retrograde in Taurus

There is incredible synchronicity in the timing of this Mars retrograde and the Mercury retrograde in Taurus in April and May.  To begin with, on 28 April 2016 Mercury will station retrograde at 24 degrees of Taurus, which is exactly opposite the degree of Scorpio where Mars will eventually station direct on June 29, 2016.  Additionally, on 22 May 2016 when Mercury stations direct, Mars will be exactly opposite the Sun at the heart of its retrograde phase on the same day.  Mercury when retrograde corresponds with the Hermes Psychopomp of myth who guided Souls and had the ability to descend into the underworld and reascend into the upper world.  This means that our Mercurial functions and perceptions will be regenerated and reborn in the buildup to Mars reaching full opposition with our Solar Light.  While Mercury will be in between Earth and the Sun in orbit, Mars will be as close to Earth as it gets on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun and Mercury.  Fascinatingly, the degree at which Mercury stations direct is fairly close to the degree in Taurus of the heliocentric North Node of Mars.  There is a clear omen here of our Mercurial perception, discernment, and expression being recalibrated in synchronous timing with our Mars will-force and desire nature.

With Mercury still and stationing as Mars reaches the heart of its retrograde cycle, there is a clear message from the universe to create space and structure in life to quiet and center the mind during this Mars retrograde period.  Mercury stationing direct midway through Taurus also points toward cultivating patient and grounded processes as well as being self-reliant in terms of sourcing our motivation and action, instead of losing our sense of self in external relationship or trying to force issues that simply are not happening.  If you have significant astrological placements in the third decan of Fixed, Earth, or Water signs, it will be worth the time to contemplate the fact that Mercury will station retrograde at the end of April at 24 degrees of Taurus, and Mars will station direct at the end of June at 24 degrees of Scorpio.

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Emblem 34 of Atalanta Fugiens by Michael Maier

Mars and Venus

Mars retrograde periods often coincide with ruptures and new beginnings in relationship, and this particular Mars retrograde promises to be especially potent in the realm of relationship as Venus and Mars have compelling aspects in their cycle to consider.  As astrological tradition ascribes separation to Mars and union to Venus, the changing state of becoming that will coincide with this Mars retrograde will bring realization of the ancient idea of Heraclitus that separation is union, and that union is separation.  Venus will be under the beams of the Sun (using the orb of 15°) for the entirety of the time Mars is  retrograde, meaning that as we experience the inner heat of Mars retrograde we will also experience Venus in a process of being purified in the regenerative rays of the Sun.  As arguments and strife in relationship are likely to occur repeatedly during this Mars retrograde, patience will be required as well as focus on mediating and resolving conflict.

On June 6 Venus will merge into the heart of the Sun as enflamed passions seek effusion and emanation.  Leading up to this pivotal moment in the synodic cycle of Venus, Mars retrograde will form an exact opposition with Venus at the first degree of Sagittarius and Gemini on May 24, 2016.  Oppositions in astrology are known to create conflict and difficulties, but in the polarization of energies can also spark expansive growth.  In the case of Venus and Mars being opposite, there will be a fiery force within their polarity that can be expressed through artistic creation, sexuality, determined work, and innumerable other outlets that allow for an outpouring of passionate desire.  After Venus separates from her face-off with Mars, she will turn to chase after and unite with the Sun.  Mars retrograde will stoke the flames burning off Venusian dross, and as the old patterns of Venus combust we will simultaneously experience a rebirth of Venus on inner as well as outer levels.  While some relationships will end at this time, the relationships created or deepened will catalyze and nurture the essential elements of our nature being revealed.

The following quotes are all from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters on Life translated by Ulrich Baer and touch on some of the pertinent themes of this Mars retrograde:

Freedom should be recommended only to someone who knows what boundless responsibility is.

It is possible in art to stay always with “what one already knows,” and by staying within that sphere of knowledge and experience, it expands and always again leads beyond the self. The “ultimate premonitions and insights” become reachable only for the individual who resides in and remains at work, and whoever contemplates from a distance will not gain control over them.

To be close to another person who holds opposing views while being a deep, committed friend can be a wonderful, shaping influence. For as long as one remains forced to consider (as one is primarily in one’s relation to one’s parents and other older people) anything other as something false, bad, hostile instead of plainly other, one will not enter into an unforced and just relation with the world where all things are meant to have a place: part and counterpart; I and the one who is most different from me. And only when such a complete world is admitted to and considered possible will one succeed in arranging one’s own interiority with its internal contrasts and contradictions generously, spaciously, and with sufficient air to breathe.

For love is the actual climate of fate: no matter how far it stretches its path through the heavens along its milky way composed of millions of stars of blood, the land beneath those heavens lies pregnant with disaster. Not even the gods in the metamorphoses of their passion were sufficiently powerful to liberate from the entanglements of this fertile soil the startled, fleeing beloved on our earth.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Life translated by Ulrich Baer

References

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

Ebertin, Reinhold. (1971). Fixed Stars and their Interpretation. Ebertin-Verlag.

Robson, Vivian. (1969).  The Fixed Stars & Constellations in Astrology. The Aquarian Press.

Pisces Solar Eclipse 2016

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courtesy of The New York Public Library

O you tender ones, step now and then
into the breath that takes no heed of you:
it will part as it brushes your cheeks
and then tremble behind you, united again.

O you who are blissful, you who are whole,
you who seem the beginnings of hearts.
Bows for arrows and arrows’ aim, through tears
your smile will glow more eternal.

Don’t be afraid to suffer- take your heaviness
and give it back to the earth’s own weight;
the mountains are heavy, the oceans are heavy.

Even the trees you planted as children
have long grown too heavy; you couldn’t bear them.
But the breezes . . . and the spaces . . .

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Sonnets to Orpheus

In the darkness of change and loss, the shadow of what we consciously envision in the light of day, lies the void that sources our suffering and liberation.  When forces beyond our control overturn every aspect of our life, when what formerly held grounded security becomes flooded and dissolved in unconscious waves, we arrive in the moment.  In the morning waking up with a heart broken in the pang of death, grieving what has been sacrificed in the arising change, there remains the crisp scent of morning air tingling the skin with the sound of multitudinous birdsong heralding the dawn.  Some fall free fall into literal death, some resist and deny in delusion and addiction, while some fully aware of the suffering suffocating this world step bravely forward into the chaos with a heart open though overwhelmed by pain.  In the cavernous shifting that comes in March 2016 there is a necessary letting go.  In the release, in the ceaseless change of river currents, looms Saraswati riding her swan of the essential, communing with her peacock who devours venomous serpents and transmutes the poison into wisdom and art.

The Total Solar Eclipse in Pisces on March 8 has been deeply felt this past couple weeks, and as it arrives we will begin to sense its meaning that will reverberate far into the future.  Eclipses vary in intensity, normally happening four times a year, every six months, and though they are always more powerful than the regular New Moon or Full Moon, some are more potent than others.  This Pisces Solar Eclipse is of epic proportion, and the change that arises in its shadow can not be resisted.  The Solar Eclipse is total, less than three degrees away from the South Node of the Moon in Pisces, less than two degrees away from Chiron in Pisces.  Jupiter, the ruler of the eclipse, is conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo and is opposite the Solar Eclipse by less than one degree.   There is tremendous loss and letting go associated with these aspects, going into the gone beyond of the Heart Sutra, and yet if we enter fully into this darkness there is a realignment of personal truth and vision to be uncovered.

This Total Solar Eclipse is part of the saros series 130, with the last eclipses in the series being 26 February 1998,  16 February 1980, 5 February 1962, and 25 January 1944 (the series originated in the year 1096).  If you were alive for these previous Eclipses, it is worth the time to ponder the related events and if there are any links to the current moment.  Most importantly, investigate the location of 19 degrees of Pisces in your birth chart to discern the house location as well as the aspects made.  Whatever house the Eclipse is located in will be a place of release that creates an opening for a new beginning, and whatever aspects are made (focus on conjunctions, squares, oppositions, but also take in sextile and trines) will bring sweeping change to the associated meaning of the planet or chart calculation impacted.

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Michael Maier’s Emblem #14 from the Atalanta Fugiens

Solar Eclipses have been feared for millennia because of our great solar light becoming consumed by darkness.  Ancient sky watchers who interpreted celestial phenomenon as omens noted time and time again the tumultuous chaos and change that would erupt in accordance with the blackening of the Sun.  As astrologer Bernadette Brady has taught, astrologers across ancient cultures connected dragons with eclipses, viewing the solar or lunar light as becoming consumed by a monstrous serpent.  In ancient Babylon, it was Tiamat the sea dragon of chaos who inundated the world with disorder as she turned the Sun black.  Marduk, associated with the planet Jupiter in Babylon, helped restore order by severing the great sea serpent, an archetypal theme reiterated innumerably in myths cross-culturally.

Ancient astrologers also attempted to bring greater order by learning how to predict eclipses in order to communicate forewarning, and this is how the lunar nodes were originally discovered.  However, just because one can predict an eclipse, and further know how it will impact one’s birth chart, does not bring control and order to the energies that emerge at eclipses.  Some may fight against, resist, or attempt to control the confusing drama that dawns with a Total Solar Eclipse, yet even when extremely painful it is necessary to flow with the changes in order to realign with the actual developing reality. The modern hero adventure Harry Potter contained an apt metaphor as Harry, Hermione, and Ron did not slay the dragon, but instead freed the dragon and rode the dragon into their destiny.

The word eclipse is connected to the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun from our perspective on Earth.  Eclipses occur when a New Moon or Full Moon falls within range of the South Node or North Node of the Moon, as the nodes are the points of intersection in which the Moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic.  The South Node of the Moon marks the descending arc of the Moon across the ecliptic, and as a result is associated with past karma, the unconscious, and release, whereas the North Node of the Moon marks the ascending arc of the Moon across the ecliptic and symbolizes an arising point of conscious intake and evolution.  In a Total Solar Eclipse, the Moon crosses between our Earth and the Sun by zodiac degree and aligned with one of it’s own nodes, magically from our perspective appears as the same size as the Sun and blackens all light.  In keeping with the dragon symbolism of eclipses, the ascending North Node of the Moon became associated with the Head of the Dragon in astrology, while the descending South Node of the Moon became associated with the Tail of the Dragon.

Total Solar Eclipses are essentially the most powerful possible New Moons, yet there is clearly a significant difference between whether the Eclipse is aligned with the South Node of the Moon or the North Node of the Moon.  This Pisces Solar Eclipse is aligned with the South Node of the Moon, making its impact even more confusing in terms of making important decisions and holding previous plans together.  Solar Eclipses still carry the intention setting of the traditional New Moon, but a potent one like this Pisces Solar Eclipse has a strong pull toward clearing out the past in order to make space for the new. With Chiron and Ceres also conjoining the Solar Eclipse, it is likely something we had been securely holding that now needs to be released.

The lunar nodes and their symbolism as being the head and tail of a dragon are karmic significators in astrology, as what is consumed at the head is released at the tail, and what is carried in the tail fuels the desire of the head.  The Pisces Solar Eclipse being at the Tail of the Dragon magnetizes a release of built up energy, yet there is also a karmic element of doing so with compassion, giving rather than taking.  If the changes arising now feel hurtful and wounding, it is vital to compassionately nurture yourself and transmute the pain through selfless purification rather than egoic greed or anger.  With Ceres and Chiron connected to this Pisces Solar Eclipse, there is likely a huge, ancient wound of the psyche being triggered that could lead to unhealthy self destruction if not handled with care and love.

Though the South Node of the Moon in Pisces is linked to this Solar Eclipse, the North Node of the Moon is also activated because this Total Solar Eclipse is in the home of Jupiter, and Jupiter is tightly opposite the eclipse and conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo.  This brings Jupiter’s focus on stabilizing vision to the Dragon’s Head of the Solar Eclipse, a point of inrushing gain and desire in the material realm that can feel amplified and stormy.  In Evolutionary Astrology, Jupiter conjoining the North Node of the Moon at this eclipse also signifies new choices to make on our path leading into the future unknown.  With Ceres, Chiron, and the Solar Eclipse in opposition to Jupiter, however, there is a wound that needs nurturing and it may be difficult to have faith and believe we can receive the help and healing we need.  This Solar Eclipse is almost exactly opposite the Virgo Solar Eclipse on September 13, 2015 that was aligned with the North Node of the Moon at the beginning of Libra.  Although not a total Solar Eclipse, since this September 2015 Eclipse was aligned with the North Node of the Moon you may find that elements of the desires you were pursuing forward at that time now need to be let go, as well as that the issues arising in September 2015 now shift directions or deepen in meaning.

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from Robert Fludd’s Ultriusque Cosmi (1617)

Since Jupiter is conjoining the North Node of the Moon and is also the traditional ruler of the Solar Eclipse, it is significant that Jupiter is in the home of Mercury and that transiting Mercury is conjoining Neptune in Pisces, the modern ruler of Pisces and this Solar Eclipse.  Mercury also being in Pisces while conjoining Neptune means that there is a throbbing oceanic wave of unconscious forces and extrasensory perception contained in this Total Solar Eclipse.  This can go along with a blissful plunge into the deep of the void, where there is blurry fogginess more so than clarity.  While the square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces has been ongoing these past several months, the Solar Eclipse tips the scales in favor of Neptune as the Sun in Pisces is in square to Saturn and Mercury is applying to a conjunction with Neptune.  It may seem as if everything is dissolving, but it is also worth realizing if you can that this is only one point of a process that will be bringing far greater change than what is happening now.  Mercury in Pisces is attuned to inner Soul and the symbolic poetry of life, and so flowing into the shifting occurring now is favored more so than resisting the currents.

The Pisces Solar Eclipse also marks the entry of Mars into Sagittarius, where it will station retrograde a month from now.  Mercury in Pisces is separating from a square to Mars in Sagittarius at this Solar Eclipse, and though wide in orb the tension of its aspect is still in effect.  While Mars in Sagittarius may want to lustfully rush forward in self-centered vision, there are far deeper realizations signified by Mercury and Neptune in Pisces that will be needed to take into account.  As a result there is likely to be a lot of confusion centered around this Total Solar Eclipse, as the changes that seem to be overwhelming now most likely are not even the changes that are actually on the way and only one shift amongst a series of unexpected shifts.  If there is a goal or target you desire to focus on going forward, it will be necessary to remain open to the need to make adjustments to additional changes that will be on the way as Mars shifts into retrograde.  As Pisces is the home of Jupiter and the exaltation of Venus, the best we can do at this Solar Eclipse is to attune to our inner feelings and be open to the unknown.

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Kazimir Malevich (1915) Black Square

Saturn, the giant ringed planet of structure and boundaries, death and transcendence, is occupying a pivotal place as it is in square to the Pisces Solar Eclipse, in square to Jupiter in Virgo, in square to the lunar nodes, and in trine to Uranus in Aries.  This placement of Saturn significantly ramps up the karmic significance of this Solar Eclipse and the symbolism that whatever we need to let go of and pass away as the Sun turns black will become fecund fuel for our future.  The last quarter square between Saturn and Jupiter will be building in intensity in the liminal space between this Pisces Solar Eclipse and the Libra Lunar Eclipse coming on March 23, as Saturn and Jupiter will reach their exact square on the same day as the Lunar Eclipse.  This is the second of three initiations into the last quarter square between Saturn and Jupiter, the first having occurred at the beginning of August 2015 in alignment with the Venus retrograde.  The last quarter square brings about a crisis, and as it is occurring between Jupiter and Saturn it is about the very meaning we bring to our lives and discover about ourselves.  Dane Rudhyar called the last quarter square a “crisis in consciousness” because it forces a clearing out of beliefs that no longer serve us in order to bring about reorientation of meaning.  The third and final exact square between Saturn and Jupiter will be in May of 2016, and so there are more changes to come and it will be at least until then that we will be able to gain clarity for the coinciding shifts.

Since Saturn is in square to the lunar nodes and in trine to Uranus in Aries, there can be a sense of standing at a crossroads while receiving intimations of a liberated future path.  The Pisces Total Solar Eclipse is fully capable of overwhelming the dogmatic vision that can be linked to Saturn in Sagittarius, creating space for an entirely new way of approaching our life and trajectory going forward.  The shadow side of these aspects is on the side of Sagittarius crusaders and ideologues who will react defensively and narcissistically in the face of contention and change, provoking conflict over contesting beliefs.  The mix of hard aspects between Saturn with Jupiter, Neptune, and the Solar Eclipse in combination with the trine to Uranus in Aries can feel incredibly disruptive, yet can also force us to make the necessary change now that helps us to reorient most effectively to the shifting tides of our reality.

Profoundly, while Saturn is in trine to Uranus, Jupiter in Virgo is moving retrograde toward a trine with Pluto in Capricorn.  This means that the Pisces Solar Eclipse also connects to the massive Uranus and Pluto square that has been dominating astrology for the past several years and changing the underlying structures of our lives.  Furthermore, the Pisces Solar Eclipse, as well as Chiron and Ceres in Pisces, are all in sextile to Pluto in Capricorn.  For those who are suffering with the changes arising now, the harmonious aspects to both Pluto and Uranus present at this Eclipse signifies that things are beginning to change in ways that we cannot control and do not fully understand, but in the end will connect us to a more authentic, individuated, and liberated path.

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from Robert Fludd’s Ultriusque Cosmi (1617)

Chiron and Ceres are not taken into account by many in astrology, but both are intimately linked to this Total Solar Eclipse.  The myths of both Chiron and Ceres time and time again reveal themselves to be resonant with the impact made by the astrological Chiron and Ceres, and this again seems to be the case at this Total Solar Eclipse.  Both Chiron and Ceres had to make sacrifices neither felt prepared for, and yet by opening to the release they each birthed monumental change.  In the story of Chiron, it is his willing sacrifice that leads to the liberation of Prometheus.  In the story of Ceres, it is her loss of Persephone as her constant companion that leads to Persephone assuming her vital role as Queen of the Underworld.

While outrage may overcome us with the changes occurring at this eclipse, and though we may feel we deserve to be angry, it will be most important to regenerate ourselves as Ceres did in river currents so we can regain our capacity to be productive and effect change in our surroundings. Ceres is an activator between the personal planets of Mars, Venus, and Mercury with the large gaseous planets of expansion and contraction, Jupiter and Saturn.  Ceres conjoining the Pisces Solar Eclipse thus brings up the importance of nurturing all of the wild passions and perceptions being stirred up by Mercury, Venus, and Mars.  Ceres can signify both abandonment and attachment issues, wounds at our core that can make it difficult to ground and make the choices that will bring opportunities for greater happiness, as well as have the capacity to receive the love and care being offered. As the realm of Jupiter and Saturn is entering into the crisis of their last quarter square, Ceres signifies the visceral importance of nurturing our body, mind, and desires.

Chiron is an activator from the realm of Jupiter and Saturn to the far beyond of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, and so the Pisces Solar Eclipse will include experiences that propel us into the transpersonal realm, creating the need to return to the mundane world while integrating our far out realizations. Chiron’s story in myth begins with abandonment and rejection, as the half human, half horse Chiron was seen as an abomination by his divine parents and left to raise himself in mountainous caves.  For many in the collective at this Total Solar Eclipse, issues of being rejected, of not being wanted, of not feeling seen or respected for our inherent value and intelligence could come up.  Chiron teaches the lesson of resiliently following our path no matter how unorthodox it may seem to others in the materialistic mainstream of society.  Chiron not only learned from the wisdom of the stars shining above and the green growth of nature below, but gave his teachings to others and nurtured the unique, undervalued gifts of his students.  This lesson of the Solar Eclipse can be found in the dialogue of the film Brother Sun Sister Moon about Saint Francis, when Clare calls out to Francis: “I am not seeking to be understood, I want to understand! I am not asking to be loved, I want to love!”

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9 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Pisces II Decan

The second face of Pisces holds this Total Solar Eclipse, a decan associated with the 9 of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image we see a rather smug and opulent man seemingly gloating in front of his carefully exhibited nine golden cups.  The 9 of Cups is often associated with wish fulfillment, enjoying pleasure, luxury, and satisfaction, and getting what we think we want.  Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Net” to the Pisces second decan, a face in which “the central conflict is how to reconcile one’s understanding of the true nature of reality with the world-as-it-is,” a “phase in which we are challenged to reconcile beliefs, ideals and the way things are” (p. 251).  Since Mercury is conjoining Neptune at the Solar Eclipse, the perception into underlying reality signified by their union is fitting for the meaning Coppock gave to the second decan of Pisces, as the Solar Eclipse will call us to integrate this depth of awareness into our daily life.

Jupiter rules the second face of Pisces, notable at this eclipse as Jupiter is receiving the eclipse through an opposition, is conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo, and is square to Saturn in Sagittarius.  Coppock illuminated in 36 Faces that the crux of this decan is that fulfillment can come from harmonizing one’s inner perceptions with one’s outer life, yet torment and grief will overcome those unable to harmonize their outer and inner worlds.  In the last quarter square between Jupiter and Saturn, Jupiter is in the superior position and receiving the karmic lessons of Saturn. Jupiter’s potent placement at the Solar Eclipse reveals that to access the fortune contained in the blackening of the Sun, we must flow like water in line with the cosmos above and the soul of the material world in the moment.  Attuning to where we are inwardly directed in the now, we can act with integrity and bridge our inner feelings and realizations with our external actions.

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References

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

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

Eclipses and the U.S. Presidential election of 2016

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Observed July 29, 1878 courtesy of the New York Public Library

The political race for the Presidency of the United States of America in 2016 has shocked many for how much success Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders have had so far given their polarizing political views.  Typically, candidates for the U.S. Presidency are conservatively centrist, yet suddenly a Republican candidate with Nationalist policy ideas and a Democrat with Socialist policy ideas have been winning primaries and doing much better than anyone expected.  In the case of Donald Trump, whose candidacy at first was viewed as a joke to many, the fact that he has been dominating the Republican race has been straight up bewildering.  The primary season now approaches Super Tuesday on March 1, followed by a second Super Tuesday on March 15.  In between these two Super Tuesdays, there will be a very powerful Total Solar Eclipse in Pisces on Tuesday, March 8, 2016:

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Total Solar Eclipses have longterm impacts, and the influence of this one will extend into the time period of the actual U.S. election in November 2016.  Since the early days of omen astrology in ancient Babylon, Eclipses have a far reaching tradition of being associated with transfer of power from one ruler to another.  Eclipses also have a long history of stirring up collective fear, and there is enormous collective fear and anger that both Trump and Sanders have drawn on for their success.  Sanders has inspired many with his message aimed at the gross inequities in the U.S. economy in which a minuscule minority controls the vast majority of wealth.  Trump seems to inspire those looking for a blustering, overconfident leader and has drawn on fear of foreigners and terrorism as well as anger over the Presidency of Barack Obama.

The two greatest political families of the past half century in the U.S.A. have been represented in this race by Jeb Bush and Hilary Clinton, yet Jeb Bush is already finished and Hilary Clinton has struggled more than expected.  In the case of the Bush family, it is as if their political legacy has been eclipsed.  If we consider some of the aspects of this Total Eclipse, we can see that Saturn in Sagittarius is in square to the lunar nodes, with Jupiter conjoining the North Node of the Moon and forming a last quarter square to Saturn.  This aspect reveals the collective crisis in thought both Trump and Sanders have been drawing on.  In addition, the Solar Eclipse conjoining the South Node of the Moon as well as Chiron and Ceres reveals the massive collective wounds feeding the fears and outrage of the electorate.

It is further quite amazing that both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were born at the time of eclipses that are directly linked to the upcoming Total Pisces Solar Eclipse.  The chart below for Donald Trump is sourced from a certificate that was posted online, supposedly by Donald Trump.  If the time is accurate for his birth, it reveals that Trump was born at an exact Lunar Eclipse in Sagittarius:

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As we can see, Trump’s chart will be severely triggered by the Total Solar Eclipse on March 8, as it will be in square to his Moon, lunar nodes, Sun, and Uranus.  In the quadrant house system shown above, the Solar Eclipse will fall in Trump’s seventh house, whereas in the whole sign house system the Eclipse will fall in his eighth house.  As this Pisces Eclipse conjoining the South Node of the Moon will activate past forces needing to be released, it likely that the shadowy past of Trump full of myriad scandals will come out in the open more so than it has up to this point.  Donald Trump has more secrets and sordid past associated with the relationships of the seventh house and the shared resources of the eighth house than most.  Up until now he has somehow mostly escaped being damaged by his past, but this Eclipse indicates he will have to directly address allegations made about his past business relationships.

However, as Trump so far has demonstrated an amazing ability to step into and create political chaos and manipulate situations to his political advantage, it will be interesting to see how he responds to his chart becoming so stirred up by this Eclipse.  Having a Sagittarius Moon conjoining its own South Node, opposite the Sun and Uranus, Trump is a narcissistic visionary and the type of Sagittarius who can be convincing with people even when they do not really know what they are talking about or have anything solid to back it up besides their confidence.  With transiting Jupiter in square to his lunar nodes, Uranus, Sun, and Moon there is a lot of activation but he will begin to be forced to present actual details and specifics to back up the vision he has been spouting.  In addition, there will be a Lunar Eclipse in Libra on March 23, 2016 that will conjoin his natal Neptune and be in square to his Mercury in Cancer.  While this can again play up the glamor side to his candidacy, it will also draw more attention to his need to present concrete details.

Bernie Sanders in contrast has vastly different planetary aspects in his chart, though there has yet to be a clearly confirmed birth time for him.  What we do know is that Sanders was born three days after a Lunar Eclipse in Pisces, and a couple of weeks before a Solar Eclipse in Virgo.  In other words, Sanders was born between eclipses that line up exactly with the Total Solar Eclipse in Pisces coming on March 8:

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While we do not know for sure the houses that will be impacted for Sanders, we do know that the Solar Eclipse, Chiron, and the South Node of the Moon will be conjoining his natal South Node of the Moon, and that transiting Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon will be conjoining his natal Sun and North Node of the Moon.  Moreover, the Total Solar Eclipse, Jupiter, and Chiron will be in square to the natal Jupiter of Sanders.  His natal Jupiter in Gemini is one of the most important pieces of his chart, as it is in square to his lunar nodes and therefore signifies issues he must confront and address.  While we do not know what house to put his Jupiter in Gemini in, we can surmise that part of the related issue revolves around the ability of Sanders to collect a wide array of information and integrate it into a meaningful vision that will be useful to others.  Sanders has a Jupiter in the home of Mercury, and a Sun conjoining the North Node of the Moon in the home and exaltation of Mercury.  Part of this old Soul pattern for Sanders involves his vision stirring up debate and contention, and at this time Sanders has finally been given the platform to have his voice loudly heard.

Similar to Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders will also be strongly activated by the upcoming Lunar Eclipse in Libra on March 23 as the Lunar Eclipse will conjoin his natal Mercury.  Unlike Donald Trump, Sanders has less of a shadowy past that can haunt him and instead the Solar Eclipse conjoining his own South Node of the Moon could highlight his lifetime of work dedicated to social justice issues that has been inspiring to many during the primaries.  Unlike other candidates who have flip flopped and changed positions, Sanders has been remarkably consistent and forthright going back a half century.  Additionally, the Gemini Jupiter and Virgo Sun of Sanders being triggered by the Pisces Solar Eclipse, while his natal Libra Mercury will be activated by the Libra Lunar Eclipse, means that even if Sanders is not able to defeat Hilary Clinton in the primaries, the message he has been communicating and the movement he has garnered around him will have influence and impact long past this Presidential election.

To speak of Hilary Clinton, it is worth mentioning that although Hilary Clinton was not born at the time of an Eclipse, she was born with a Pisces Moon that will be activated by the Total Solar Eclipse, Chiron, and Ceres:

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As a result of her Pisces Moon being aligned with the Total Solar Eclipse, we can expect more of the controversial past of Hilary to be revealed.  However, we can also note that the Solar Eclipse will be in trine to her Ascendant, South Node of the Moon, Mercury, and Venus, and in sextile to her Descendant and North Node of the Moon.  This suggests she can stabilize the associated damage, and her Pisces Moon becoming so activated by the Eclipse could have an energizing impact she can use to her advantage.  An interesting additional point to make that is not related to eclipses, is that Mars will ultimately retrograde and then station direct on Hilary’s ascendant.  If Hilary becomes the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Presidency, her link to the upcoming Mars retrograde cycle will be a compelling aspect of the election for those interested in astrology.

 

Full Moon in Leo

Lion by Rousseau

The Repast of the Lion (1907) by Henri Rousseau

The Full Moon in Leo on January 23, 2016 illuminates the meaning we have received from Mercury retrograde in Capricorn and Aquarius, as Mercury will be stationing while conjoining Pluto. This further means that Mercury retrograde is stationing in range of a square with Uranus in Aries, and so there is something to unearth that speaks of where you sit within the great changes that have swept across our planet in the past five years or so of the Uranus and Pluto square.  In this present moment, with a Full Moon ripening in the sign of the Lion, it is the beast within that clamors for beauty and the creation of a life that brings passion and a sense of validation.  This is a Full Moon in the home of the Sun, with the Sun in Aquarius connecting to the human ability to detach from the dominant narratives running through the mainstream in order to liberate and enable the mind to conceive thoughts free of the systemic static of the status quo. The old constellation image of the Water Bearer associated with Aquarius brings to mind its purifying potential impact when activated, and when the Moon waxes full in its polarity sign of Leo it is the essential force of our burning heart within and all we desire to create that can revivify one’s being.

Mercury is always active and mentally stimulating when retrograde, but since this current Mercury retrograde began in Aquarius in square to Mars in Scorpio, and ends now in Capricorn conjoining Pluto and in square to Uranus, the effect has brought waves of overwhelming forces to mediate.  Many of you reading this no doubt have had to face some of your deepest fears over the past weeks of this Mercury retrograde, as the landscape of our lives has been in process of being fundamentally altered.  The intensity continues as the Full Moon in Leo is also occurring in range of a square to Mars in Scorpio, and as the Moon begins to wane while still in its full phase it will apply to an exact square with Mars.  These aspects will catalyze desire and bring to mind and body what we want at a core level but have been resisting or felt blocked from manifesting.  If the desire does not seem to be available now, or great obstacles appear to be in the way, it will be far more fruitful to utilize the will force of Mars to work toward the desire rather than erupting with anger or disintegrating with futility.

While Mars is in square to the Full Moon, it is coming into range of a sextile with the conjunction between Pluto and Mercury retrograde in Capricorn and is also closely conjoining Juno in Scorpio.  In the light of this Full Moon one’s relationship needs can be more fully felt, a vision of what one wants in partnership formed in the mind with passionate force.  This does not mean that our current circumstances  hold the possibility of uniting now with the ideal partner, only that the vision brings the potential to ultimately experience the union.  If you are in relationship at this time, this Full Moon will illuminate the unspoken as much as the spoken and whatever has not yet been revealed during this Mercury retrograde will now come into sharp awareness for processing.  While conflict could erupt if communication comes from a place of wounding, there is at the same time potential for healing and deep processing of the underlying forces that have been operating between partners.

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Crater of Volcano, Quetzaltenango-Guatemala by Eadweard Muybridge (1875)

The Mercury and Pluto conjunction will be simmering through the rest of January, erupting at times through the surface facades of daily interactions.  Mercury will remain within a degree or two of Pluto into the first week of February, and around the time of the waning last quarter Moon of this lunar cycle Mercury will move direct into another conjunction with Pluto and square with Uranus. There is also an added component that Vesta is conjoining Uranus in Aries at the time of the Full Moon, and so also in square to the conjunction of Pluto with Mercury retrograde.  With these aspects the mind can now penetrate to the bottom line dynamics of every situation encountered, and feelings previously buried within will emerge.  This is not a time to fear, however, as whatever thoughts and feelings arrive will be absolutely essential to process, heal, and work with in the unknown future to come.  As this Full Moon illuminates what we want to create, use this time with Pluto united with Mercury to explore the depths of the desires emerging to gain greater clarity of the specific aspects and details to center plans around.

The Full Moon in Leo also illuminates the recent ingress of Venus into Capricorn.  As the Moon wanes into the forthcoming New Moon in Aquarius in early February, Venus will move across Capricorn into a conjunction with Mercury and Pluto.  This further re-emphasizes whatever feelings and needs we have resisted expressing due to fear of judgment or rejection- if this has been going on so long that these needs have taken on a monstrous proportion, these aspects support gaining awareness and uncovering the underlying reasons these needs became distorted across time.  For example, we may gain new insight into the imprinting we received from our parents and early development in the society we were born into, leading to the development of our current self-image.  In the waning lunar cycle following this Full Moon in Leo, we can restructure our inner and outer relationships to be in greater alignment with our true emotions and needs.

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Johann Heinrich Lambert’s adaptation of Tobias Mayer’s triangle (17772) courtesy of The Public Domain Review

While Mercury is conjoining Pluto over the next week or two, Mercury is also receiving Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon in Virgo through a trine.  The more we do the deep Mercury-Pluto work of digging into our depths and avoiding denial and escapist pursuits, the more we access the Jupiter-North Node capacity to fully enter the present moment of our material realm and shift life events into a new trajectory in greater alignment with core values and needs.  This is a potent aspect for visioning not only the extraordinary life we dream of living, but discerning the choices available to us now that will take us in this direction.  This is a time to get out of your habitual mind as much as possible and be truly present, embracing every opportunity to look at things differently than ever before.

Further supporting finding new solutions and approaches is a trine between Saturn in Sagittarius and Uranus in Aries that is now closer in orb than the square between Saturn with Neptune in Pisces.  However, in reality these two very different aspects to transiting Saturn are happening simultaneously, and so radical thoughts and insights will be arising in an atmosphere that will also find us facing disillusionment and skepticism over what aspects of our dreams can manifest in reality.  The unifying principle to connect with the highest potential of both of these transits to Saturn is to not hold back and instead to allow yourself to envision the life you want to live free of the ways you have restricted or repressed yourself previously.  These aspects to Saturn in Sagittarius will be occurring throughout this next year, and so this Leo Full Moon is an opportune time to allow yourself to unleash your imagination and create grand goals to work toward.

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5 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Leo I Decan

The Full Moon falls in the first face of Leo, ruled by Saturn and associated with the 5 of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  In tarot the 5 of Wands card is typically associated with entering into conflict and strife, being confronted and needing to  fight to assert oneself, stand one’s ground, or achieve a desired, prominent position.  Astrologer Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Spotlight” to the first face of Leo which can be connected to the imagery of the 5 of Wands through the five youth battling for dominance, attention, or the spotlight, the starring role.  Coppock wrote that the “power of this decan is to focus a mass of attention on one point or person” (p. 122), and analyzed that the decan’s rulership by Saturn signifies the ability to direct the spotlight in order to both reveal as well as conceal, binding the attention, and projection, of an audience to one’s performing image.  In addition to “The Spotlight,” Coppock also described the significance of the “magical weapon” of the “Mask” to the power found in the first face of Leo:

 The mask focuses the wearer’s attention on those aspects of their being which are in harmony with the mask’s appearances and enhances one’s ability to express them. The mask serves a similar function with onlookers- it focuses their attention on certain qualities.  The mask is thus the mystical nexus between all of the streams of attention in place . . .

It is interesting to note that the word for mask in Latin is “Persona.”  “Persona” is used in modern English to denote a portion of the psyche, and is the root of the more common term “personality.”  The “persona” does not describe the entire geography of the soul, instead, it describes the social role played by the person . . .

Thus the material of the psyche coalesces and then concretizes into the pattern necessary to function in a given role- the mask. An effective mask creates a nexus point which mediates inside and outside, self and other . . . Masks, like the spotlight which they are created to survive, are perilous tools, for as they are fed by attention they grow stronger, consuming more of the wearer’s energy.  The mask/persona can thus go from being a useful tool to a powerful parasite, feeding off of and devouring their host.

–Austin Coppock, 36 Faces (p. 123)

The current lunar cycle waxing full in the first face of Leo began with a New Moon in Capricorn that brought news of the death of David Bowie.  Bowie was born with a Moon in the first face of Leo at the same degree as this Full Moon, as well as a Saturn conjoining his Moon also in the first decan of Leo.  Furthermore, David’s Moon is conjunct his descendant, meaning that his ascendant is aligned with the position of the Sun in Aquarius at the time of this Full Moon.  While Bowie’s Moon conjoining Saturn and his descendant is fitting considering how much he thrived upon collaboration with other artists and worked hard to manifest his creativity until the very end of his life, his Moon is also exemplary of the meaning Austin Coppock brought to the first face of Leo in 36 Faces.  As has been celebrated extensively this past week, Bowie was a master of creating masks through which to project his work, taking on a different public identity with each new creative departure.  However, while David Bowie achieved great public acclaim through his talent for mask making, he also became a victim entrapped by the projections of his audience.  As a result, he put his masked identities to death in the process of creating his new identities through which to manifest his art.  It has been said by those who stood close to Bowie on stage that no one else possessed his talent for controlling and directing the attention of a massive audience from stage, and many who met him in person were overwhelmed with the charisma they felt in the meeting place of his gaze.

As David Bowie has been extensively celebrated in the time leading up to this Full Moon, he serves now as a marvelous model for this Full Moon in Leo through his capacity to imagine as well as embody an extraordinary life, vision as well as manifest radical artistic creations that break free from mainstream patterns and conditioning, and direct public attention to his work through the shaping of his public masks.  With Saturn in Sagittarius in square to Neptune and in trine to Uranus, with Mercury retrograde conjoining Pluto while in square to Uranus, and with the square from Mars in Scorpio to this Full Moon in Leo, it is also important to realize the process Bowie went through in destroying each vehicle he created for himself once it no longer aligned with what he authentically desired to create.  Similarly, this Full Moon will guide you to release any mask or persona you have developed to navigate the public sphere that no longer matches how you truly want to be.   Within the catalytic atmosphere of the aspects surrounding this Leo Full Moon, there is a fertile matrix from which to embark in a direction more attuned with the passion arising from within.

References

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

New Moon in Capricorn

MK Ciurlionis Capricorn

Capricorn (1907) by Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis

New Moon in Capricorn

The New Moon in Capricorn on January 9, 2016 is fecund with the dark matter of Saturn.  Capricorn is an inwardly directed sign of initiating in the multitudinous manifestations of the earth element, the home of Saturn and its significations of structure, boundaries, determination, and transcendence.  This particular Capricorn New Moon draws us into internal depths with greater magnetism than normal, as the New Moon is conjunct Pluto in Capricorn at the same time Mercury retrograde is conjunct Pallas Athene in Capricorn.  We have the opportunity to sift through the desires behind our ambitions at this time, discerning where our motivations are coming from.  Are we attempting to control a situation or manipulate a circumstance in order to avoid taking responsibility for our own internal issues?  Or are we securely being accountable for our genuine feelings and past behavior that has led to our current moment- if so we can seize the darkness of this New Moon in order to clear out what is no longer serving us and envision empowering goals that lead toward a natural sense of power.

Saturn in Sagittarius, lord of this New Moon, is watching Venus separate by a degree at the time of the lunation.  As Venus is separating from Saturn, she is simultaneously applying to a trine with Uranus in Aries.  Uranus is further hooked into the New Moon by being in range of a square to both the New Moon and Pluto in Capricorn.  The past week of the waning Moon held numerous intense, confrontational astrological aspects that could have led to harsh judgment from others as well as self criticism.  By owning our part in the drama, and detaching from projected diatribes we are not responsible for, there is a fiery force found here that can liberate us out of past patterns of victimization.  In the shifting commerce of our collective, as old economic paradigms are falling apart, this New Moon activates awareness of how to find our place within the new business, political, and other societal models arising.

Though Saturn has begun to separate from its last quarter square to Neptune in Pisces (to return again months from now), this is our first New Moon since their square in which one of them is running the show. Since Saturn at center stage has been in the middle of great intensity, the Saturnine side of the square associated with boundaries, limits, structures, separation, and release is emphasized over the boundlessness of Neptune.  In combination with the fact that this New Moon is also activating the first quarter square between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries, we could feel overwhelmed with conceptions around change, from worry that we will not be able to manifest the unknown future of our desires, to fear that circumstances are changing in undesirable ways that feel out of control.   As Saturn in Sagittarius is visionary, it is imperative to focus on what we want and formulate plans with awareness that determined effort is now required.  With Venus and Saturn in the domicile of Jupiter, and Jupiter closely conjoining the North Node of the Moon and in trine to the New Moon, despite difficulties there is underlying support for working hard with trust in the twists of fate to come.

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Ascesa by Gustave Dore, from The Divine Comedy

In the Face of Mountains

In spite of warnings from many astrologers not to initiate things during Mercury retrograde, this Capricorn New Moon contains an opening to an expansive new direction fraught with challenges requiring focused resilience.  Again, since the New Moon is separating from a square to Uranus in Aries and applying to a trine with Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon in Virgo, the signs point toward breakthrough events, encounters, and corresponding insights that open us to new possibilities.  In addition, there is a stabilizing sextile present between the New Moon and Chiron in Pisces.  There is no doubt a looming mountain on our horizon to climb, yet the force we must generate to surmount forthcoming barriers will elevate our entire being to heightened ability to accomplish the tasks at hand.

Stirring things up further is Eris, as the dwarf planet named for the goddess of discord stations direct on January 10, 2016 at 22º18′ Aries, in range of a square to the Capricorn New Moon.   Eris is new to astrology and her meaning has not yet been fully established, so as she stations in square to this New Moon we can notice any correlations in our lives that seem connected. Up until now, most astrologers are applying the meaning of Eris in myth to her significance in astrology, with some such as Henry Seltzer adding in meaning of shattering paradigms and standing up for oneself with radical, harsh assertiveness.  Eris has been retrograde since July 20, 2015 when she stationed retrograde at 23º24′ Aries.  This is significant because the astrological atmosphere at the end of July was full of strife, with both Venus and Uranus also stationing retrograde then.  Eris stationing now will push us to stand up for ourselves and express our needs free of the past restrictions we have been discarding over the past five months.

Furthermore, with Mars at home in Scorpio there is amplified encouragement for expressing the full force of our desires, leading to potential conflict.  Mars is coming into a trine with Neptune in Pisces at the time of the New Moon, bringing an idealistic crusader element to the mix.  As Mars is also applying to a conjunction with Juno, this could enflame passions for better or worse in relationship.  The astrological aspects at this New Moon do not have much in the way of conflict mediation, so it will be vital to actively bear in mind the likelihood of discord breaking out.  The positive side of all of this can lead to an activation of our will force to be tenacious in pursuit of what we and our greater community need not only for survival but for enhancement of life.

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc (1879) by Jules Basiten-Lepage

Visioning by the Dark of the Moon

This Capricorn New Moon plays up the visioning side of Capricorn through Mercury being retrograde in Capricorn, in conjunction with Pallas Athene in Capricorn.  This upcoming lunar cycle takes us through the Mercury retrograde, as the forthcoming Full Moon in Leo will occur shortly before Mercury stations direct.  When we apply the old imagery of a sea goat to standard significations of Capricorn being associated with cardinal initiation, matters of earth, and Saturn, the image of a goat that has a mermaid tail dipped in the water goes well with the internal, divining quality also found in Capricorn.  The New Moon supports getting down at the root level of our surrounding structures, discerning the patterns at work in the various systems operating in our life.  Since Mercury is retrograde there may be omens found in unexpected places, and so an open mind willing to take creative leaps of thought can better receive messages associated with where to focus, what to modify, and which path to take forward.

There is also a connection between Mercury retrograde, this Capricorn New Moon, and Black Moon Lilith.  Astrologers enamored with Black Moon Lilith have been consumed by the mean calculation of Black Moon Lilith being in the middle of a square to Pluto in Capricorn and an opposition to Uranus in Aries.  However, this New Moon also carries a significant location of the true calculation of Black Moon Lilith to mind-  the true Black Moon Lilith is conjunct Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon in Virgo, and in trine to Mercury retrograde in Capricorn. Simultaneously, the aspects made by these two locations of Black Moon Lilith suggest parts of ourselves with a history of feeling judged and ostracized have an opportunity to come out of exile and into the full scope of our personality.  This may feel awkward and even painful, and these exiled parts could be so deeply embedded within our soul that it feels as if they haven’t come out for lifetimes.  Mercury retrograde in Capricorn can help us peel off the layers of conditioning that have made us feel judged, with self acceptance being the balm.

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3 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

Capricorn II Decan

The second face of Capricorn where the New Moon emerges is ruled by Mars and associated with the 3 of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  In the image of the 3 of Pentacles we see a highly skilled sculptor in process of creating a divinely inspired masterwork in a monastery.  There is a consultation taking place between the artisan and authorities associated with the institution, with carefully drawn plans for the masterpiece on display.  This is a fitting image for the Capricorn II decan as it is a face in which great works can be created through collaboration, careful planning, and incredible effort.

Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Pyramid” to the second decan of Capricorn, as it is a face in which the magnum opus is completed, sublime works of material manifestation whose perfect form almost appears inconceivable to create in hindsight.  Coppock wrote that as the focus of this face is on “structuring the territory itself,” there is a necessity for blueprints as well as hard work in collaboration with numerous resources:

For this phase of creation to proceed according to plan, laws must be carved and discipline enforced. The project, the vision, thus creates laws of action necessary for its proper realization. It is thus a face of discipline, for cathedrals, like the one pictured in the Three of Pentacles, are works whose construction spans entire decades …

This face is both a spur to action and a binding. While many bindings take the form of a forbiddance, the one which takes place here is instead a compulsion to act in accordance with the blueprint. This decan binds one, or many, to the accomplishment of a daunting task. Yet one must be careful tying oneself to great works, for such decisions have enduring consequences …

Yet ambition and hubris are not easily separated. The two often appear together, and without ambition there is no grand blueprint nor energy to execute it. Ambition must be distilled from hubris over and over again to achieve purity of purpose.  (p. 217)

Not only is Mars the ruler of this face, but the New Moon in Capricorn is also occurring in the exaltation of Mars.  Mars at the time of the New Moon is further strengthened by being at home in Scorpio and so in possession of its full arsenal.  As previously mentioned, now that Mars has separated from its square with Mercury stationing retrograde earlier this past week, Mars is now applying to a trine with Neptune in Pisces and a conjunction with Juno.  With the forthcoming waxing lunar cycle occurring with Mercury retrograde, this New Moon period is opportune for embarking on long term projects that will require sustaining effort and overcoming obstacles over an extended period of time, rather than work that needs to be rushed to completion.  The trine between the New Moon in Capricorn with Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon in Virgo suggests a door is opening to reveal a work objective worthy of our sustained effort and commitment.

References

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