Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius: Age of Air

Jupiter Saturn Aquarius Bradley

Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius by Bradley Naragon

Grand Conjunction

The world has lifted its gaze to the heavens to drink in the union of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius. Fittingly, Aquarius bears ample symbolism involving the relationship between humans and the divine. Saturn as the ruler of Aquarius tends the boundary between the incarnate and the numinous, as Saturn is the most distant visible planet guarding the threshold between the wandering planets with the celestial fire of the fixed stars. Perhaps the most common constellational myth associated with Aquarius is Ganymedes, the princely shepherd who was snatched away from earth by the eagle of Zeus to serve the nectar of immortality to the deities above. Other ancient attributions include Cecrops, an earthly king who poured watery libations to the gods and was said to have taught literary and burial arts; as well as Aristaios, who was similarly shown making libations to Zeus and was known for not only introducing a multitude of arts and crafts to humanity, but also rites summoning winds that would temper the heat brought by the rising of Sirius. As the sign of the new cycle between Jupiter and Saturn, Aquarius points towards the importance of tending to your relationship with sources of spirit, gathering useful arts and innovative ideas to mediate the myriad issues in need of addressing between humans within the world they are part of.

The great conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius on December 21, 2020 has announced a new chapter in the story of our world. Befitting its dazzling visual appearance following sunset on the solstice, the astrological implications of Jupiter and Saturn uniting at 00°29′ Aquarius are extraordinary. The tight unity between Jupiter and Saturn in the sky reflects how in astrology it is binding us to an era of air.  The synodic cycle between Jupiter and Saturn lasts for twenty years, yet sits within larger triplicity cycles of forming conjunctions in the same element (fire, earth, air, water) that last for over two centuries each. After their 2020 solstice union, there will only be conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn in tropical air signs until December 21, 2159 when they will unite in Scorpio, followed by two more grand conjunctions in tropical air signs in 2179 and 2199 (resulting in 2219 marking full entrance into the next era of water).

Astrologers from the eighth/ninth century such as Masha’allah and Abu Ma’shar made famous the theory that while each twenty year cycle between Jupiter and Saturn signified important changes in political rulership, larger shifts in dynasties and other cultural orders such as religious movements occurred during the transmutation between triplicity elements. Just like the war between Zeus and the Olympians against Cronus and the Titans in myth tells the story of a new order overcoming an old order, so have the conjunctions between the star of Zeus and the star of Cronus signaled the toppling of old ruling orders by the ascension of new powers. Since the world today is no longer arranged into the same kind of royal dynasties as it was in the courts of empire that ancient astrologers served, the changes wrought by Jupiter and Saturn initiating us into an era of air needs to be applied to our current cultures and power dynamics. 

The brilliant union of Jupiter and Saturn upon the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere, the darkest night of the year that kindles the return of the Sun, and on the Summer Solstice in the southern hemisphere when the Sun reaches the zenith of its light, could not have had a more dramatic setting. As it also came at the end of a year that brought a global pandemic and shutdowns of economies and travel around the world, the striking solstice star of Jupiter and Saturn has served as a sign of hope for many. Yet it doesn’t mean that everything will be changing overnight, nor that everything is going to get much better nor much worse. It does mean that traversing a period known as a “great mutation” will be taking us into an extended period of collective volatility and reshaping. It also means the strategies sourced in understanding from the previous era of earth will no longer be as effective, that things will not be returning to the way they were before, and that we must reorient and adjust in alignment with the radical reordering brought by the era of air. 

Jupiter Saturn by Bradley Naragon

When Saturn and Jupiter meet, we experience a mixing of the darkness, death, and decomposition of Saturn with the fertile growth, generous abundance, and expansive visioning of Jupiter. We can feel our skin ready to shed as we move into molting a new identity from our inner multiplicity. There can be a great release of our past, grieving what can no longer be and welcoming what is ready to emerge. On the larger and slower scale of cyclical time governed by Saturn, there will also be a need to let go of the old era of earth that is passing away. The first conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter in the past cycle of earth was in 1802 in Virgo, and after a final conjunction in a fire sign in 1821, the Saturn and Jupiter cycle fully moved into the era of earth during three conjunctions in Taurus that stretched from August 1840 until February 1841. 

During the past era of earth, colonizing empires fueled by the industrial revolution created vast economic systems that brought stability for some and oppression for others. Immense technological achievements were made out of resources from the earth, and monstrous wars were fought over land that brought the world to the brink of destruction. Nuclear weaponry was developed that could wipe humanity off the face of the earth. We have much to grieve related to losses on our earth today, from the extinction of animal species to the eradication of forests and wilderness. As we have been ending the earth era and transitioning toward the air era, the impact of air pollution on troubling climatic changes on earth has gained increasing amounts of attention. 

In astrology the earth element is the most dense, the most stable, and the most resistant to change. For those fortunate to live in places where they could develop into their full potential, the past earth era contained the possibility of achieving stable lifestyles and legacies that could be passed on to future generations. In contrast, the element of air in astrology brings volatile change, dispersal and redistribution of resources, and accelerated exchanges of communication. Flexibility rather than stability is essential to air as it is always changing, spreading and elevating. The winds of change brought by the air era are only beginning to blow, as Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius signifies a gathering of clouds on the horizon whose storms will reshape our cultural landscape in ways we can hardly imagine. The winds of the air era will erode the structures built up across the earth era, transporting seeds of new ideas across vast distances to take root in new locations.

During the past era of earth the meaning of  “horse power” shifted from being purely about the ancient skills of horsemanship that helped cultivate human civilization, to referring to the speed of motorized inventions fueled by earthy resources. In the era of air, the gravity of earth will be exchanged for the boundless nature of air that connects all of us within the encircling atmosphere we breathe, opening awareness to vaster realms of inner and outer space to explore. While human skills like horsemanship have been utilized in the past for ploughing fields, in the new era of airy terrain we will be cultivating the realm of thought and lightning quick communication. New relational skills will be needed as wings spring from the sides of our earthbound horses like the divine Pegasus, who in myth created springs of watery inspiration wherever it struck its hoof upon earth. As Aquarius is the living image of the Water Bearer, by tending our relationship with revelatory muses and the diverse sources of inspiration within the interconnected fields of nature, we may gather ideas to cultivate and share from flowing springs of imagination.

Yet as we deepen into relationship with the winged horses we may ride into flights of soaring thought and ingenuity, the material concerns of living upon earth, the crises of people lacking food and shelter, and the need to collectively change our relationships within Nature will not be disappearing into thin air. Aquarius and the other signs of air are the human signs of the zodiac, and so humanitarian concerns and the impacts of human civilizations will take precedence as Jupiter and Saturn continue to unite within them during the next two centuries.

Fragment of a terracotta volute-krater (bowl for mixing wine and water), mid-4th century B.C.

Our conception of four elemental roots goes back to the ancient writing of Empedocles, commonly believed to have lived from 494 BC to 434 BC. Interestingly, the span of Empedocles’ lifetime involved a previous transition of an earth era slowly shifting into an era of air over time, as the first apparent conjunction in a tropical air sign was in 462 BC, breaking up a sequence of conjunctions in earth signs that began in 581 BC (following the 462 BC conjunction in Libra there were two more conjunctions in earth, followed by two more air conjunctions in 402 BC and 383 BC, followed by a final earth conjunction in 363 BC).

In the famous fragment that introduced the elements as personified divinities, Empedocles wrote:

Hear first the four roots of all things:
Dazzling Zeus, life-bearing Hera, Aidoneus, and
Nestis who moistens the springs of mortals with her tears.

If unfamiliar, Aidoneus is another name for Hades while Nestis is another name for Persephone. While there have been arguments for ages over which deity should be connected with which element, Peter Kingsley in Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic declared Zeus to be connected with the element called aither by Empedocles, Hera with earth, Hades with fire, and Persephone with water. While there have also been debates over possible differences between aither and the Greek aer we connect with air in English, Kingsley also emphatically argued that aither was used by 6th and 5th century BC writers to describe both the upper and lower regions of air, “a continuum extending from the earth’s surface to the stars or beyond.” In contrast, Kingsley revealed that aer was used to describe an aspect of aither through the forms of clouds or obscure mists. In fact, Kingsley noted the significance of the Homeric epithet for Zeus: cloud-gatherer.

The way our perception can become clouded, obscured by the mists of our illusions about reality is a key aspect of the era of air that needs our awareness. The union of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius is especially important due to it being the airy home of Saturn, lending reception to their conjunction and giving it the direct expression of Saturn. Saturn has long been known as a guardian at the border between time and the timeless, the most distant visible planet from earth at the boundary between the wandering planets and the realm of fixed stars and the heavenly divine. In Aquarius, Saturn’s role of defining boundaries will be applied to matters of thought, highlighting the importance of how we utilize our perception and cultivate critical thinking skills. There is great personal potential available through the use of the Internet and other technological innovations, yet the control tactics of Saturn can also be utilized to manipulate information and persuasively influence the mindsets of people through control of the information presented to them. As information and messages circulate freely, it will be up to each of us to discern the differences between conspiracy theories, false propaganda, and true insight.

There are significant differences in meaning between Jupiter and Saturn but they do find common ground when seeking higher status in society, claiming greater authority and power, and accumulating greater wealth.  While the era of earth could be said to be more suited for hierarchical power structures, and a conjunction in Aquarius could correlate with formations of communities that are rooted in interdependent alliances between members, the shift in triplicity eras will not bring an immediate downfall of present power structures nor resolve the myriad issues of societal oppression that gained increased exposure during the past year. Some power structures ill suited for the collective changes will collapse, but others will be seeking to accumulate even greater amounts of power and control especially through airy technological innovations. As a result, there will be an increasing need to find and create alternative platforms and communal spaces to mutually support one another outside the parameters of the power structures that have been stockpiling personal information from social media and search engines for profit and persuasion.

Gaining clarity for what you do not value, and forming community centered around what you do identify with are processes associated with Aquarius as it involves both the rejection and limits of Saturn as well as the design of new forms that can harbor community. Yet when forming alternative communities set against mainstream doctrine, the fixed nature of Aquarius can lead to the crystallization of new dogma that becomes righteously projected on others. The same groups forming as a counter to consensus culture can then insist on conformity to group codes amongst members, threatening to outcast those who refuse to conform to the conditioning of the group. Aquarius involves fragmentation and fracturing amongst other significations, and so as many people continue to splinter off into groups engaged in polarized conflicts with other groups, it will be up to each of us as individuals to hold the tension of differing perspectives with a willingness to question as well as listen to others. Conversations can involve debate while respecting the dignity of the other, and in fact fixated opinions obscured by bias are more likely to shift within spaces that continue to circulate communication rather than shut it down with self righteousness.

Aquarius has strong associations with not only those who become exiled due to nonconformity with consensus values, but also those who willingly separate themselves from the conditioning of dominant cultures so that they can live more freely on their own terms, cultivating ideas and creative expressions in spaces removed from the contamination of groupthink and cultural bias. Saturn’s rulership of Aquarius places it in opposition to the Sun’s rulership of Leo, pointing toward increased attention being given to those on the margins or outskirts from centers of ruling power. Decentralization of power will be an important Aquarian theme during the new cycle, as well as shedding and decomposing ways you have been conditioned to think that are out of alignment with your essential self. The perspective and insight of the outsider will be necessary, with important figures likely emerging from seclusion or exile at important times to deliver pivotal messages.

Air is expansive and has a sense of freedom. It delights in curiosity and storytelling, finding pleasure when listening to revelatory new perspectives and the latest gossip. It can feel coldly rational and objective sometimes, at other times playful and jovial. It’s abstract and uplifts when blowing through our world with ideals and inspiration. Yet the circulating quality of air that tends towards instability must be reconciled with the fixed nature of Aquarius that endures with obstinacy and creates change that has a long lasting impact. With Saturn in its home of Aquarius from now until 7 March 2023, we need to work with the side of Saturn that draws from its deep powers of contemplation as we will need to be continually adapting to foundational reshaping taking place around the world. Fortunately, the co-presence of Jupiter in Aquarius for much of 2021 can help in envisioning strategies to stabilize our course as we navigate through the collective volatility that will be rippling through the year. 

by CG Jung from Liber Novus

Jupiter in Aquarius

The movement of Jupiter from its fall in Capricorn into Aquarius pleases the star of Zeus, yet it’s co-presence with Saturn means it will need to remain in dialogue with Saturn. Due to the great conjunction occurring within the airy home of Saturn, Jupiter will be lending its cohering support to all things signified by Saturn. Jupiter in Aquarius will add its expansive vision to the construction, deconstruction, and maintenance of boundaries and structures governed by Saturn. The legendary 15th century philosopher, priest, and astrologer Marsilio Ficino noted that Jupiter can be utilized in remediating the melancholic impact of Saturn, writing in Three Books on Life that when ancient sages “feared that Saturn would oppress them on account of their sedulous zeal for philosophizing,” they would make daily use of Jovial sounds, songs of Jupiter, while living in the open air. Jupiter will temper the austere side of Saturn and amplify our potential for finding inventive solutions and embracing expansive visions in the face of the tumultuous collective change we will experience in 2021.

Jupiter will move all the way through Aquarius by the middle of May 2021, entering its sea faring home of Pisces on May 13. After Jupiter stations retrograde in Pisces on June 20, it will return to Aquarius on July 28, 2021. Jupiter will make its final trek through Aquarius from the end of July until returning to Pisces on December 28, 2021. The airy climate of Aquarius thus serves as a transitional space wherein Jupiter moves away from its fall in Capricorn, where it experiences challenging zodiacal terrain, en route to returning to its empowered home of Pisces. We can envision Jupiter as gathering clouds of concepts and insights while in Aquarius that will bring forth an outpouring of imaginative results once in Pisces, where the star of Zeus expresses itself with its full strength. With the slow and steady support of Saturn in Aquarius, we may discover that the ideas and work we develop while Jupiter is in Aquarius will deepen in growth once Jupiter enters Pisces.

Jupiter is comfortable in Aquarius as both Jupiter and Aquarius are diurnal in nature and Jupiter also has triplicity dignity in all of the air signs. As a participating ruler of the air triplicity, Jupiter will have the wind at its back as it sets sail through Aquarius. Air signs in astrology are further associated with the jovial sanguine temperament which is harmonious with the nature of Jupiter.  The warming and moistening nature of air in astrology is in accord with the fertile and uplifting nature of Jupiter, giving Jupiter in Aquarius support when seeking cohesion in social connections and synthesizing insight. The flexible, unifying, and mobile qualities of air will amplify Jupiter’s potential for gathering information and developing lines of thought; since Jupiter will be in Aquarius along with Saturn, it’s co-presence with Saturn will accentuate our capacity for concentrated focus, reflecting upon and redefining our mental frameworks, and conceiving ideas and forms that will have longterm consequences. Fitting for the innumerable aspects of global societies in need of repair in 2021, the combination of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius will be helpful for diagnosing the emerging issues and finding solutions.

The first century Roman poet Marcus Manilius in Astronomica described Aquarius with images evoking the ancient Mesopotamian divinity Enki or Ea, the divine artisan and lord of freshwaters within the earth who helped cultivate the growth of human civilization through teaching irrigation that controls rivers through the formation of canals. Manilius described a Waterman pouring forth streams from his urn, bestowing skills such as “how to divine springs under the ground and conduct them above, to transform the flow of water so as to spray the very stars, to mock the sea with man-made shores at the bidding of luxury, to construct different types of artificial lakes and rivers, and to support aloft for domestic use streams that come from afar . . .” With Jupiter in Aquarius, nourishment and expansive growth will come through irrigating channels of communication to allow for refreshened perspectives from unorthodox sources on the periphery of the usual cultural authorities. Across global societies, the combination of Jupiter with Saturn in Aquarius can be helpful in restructuring information systems and designing innovations across disciplines so that resources can be disseminated more widely, bringing benevolent attention to communities that have been marginalized by dominant cultures.

Yet we must be cautious that the channels of communication we construct and maintain with Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius do not keep us rigidly stuck in one perspective and cut off from diverse viewpoints. Joy Usher in Tiny Universe wrote that “Saturn’s ownership of Aquarius [indoctrinates] by repeatedly telling someone that something is true (creating its own reality), whilst at the same time blocking out or preventing any ‘counter truth’ which might destabilize the original information.” By sustaining an open mind and holding the tension of multiple perspectives, we can utilize the capacity Jupiter possesses in Aquarius for taking in a broad perspective with the objectivity needed to see issues from multiple sides. Other times we will need to draw upon the skill of Jupiter in Aquarius for going it alone, detaching or exiting from the influence of those with viewpoints clearly misaligned with what we need to create and develop. With Jupiter in Aquarius we can help pierce through the obscuring mists of misinformation through dialectic dialogue and scrutinizing questions that expose false beliefs and allow for new questions to emerge that will deepen inquiry.

Like an eagle of Zeus, Jupiter in Aquarius can encircle targets of focus from far above in a realm of contemplation removed from the turbulence of overly subjective emotions. With a degree of detachment its eagle eye can penetrate into the underlying dynamics of issues, clarifying what needs support, alteration, or generating. It’s not that Jupiter in Aquarius is cut off from emotional involvement, however. In fact, Jupiter in Aquarius can become deeply emotional and passionate when engaged with the people, community, issues, and concepts it cares about, so much so it will make sacrifices for causes it believes in. The fixed nature of Aquarius provides Jupiter with ample supplies of persistence that will allow Jupiter to persevere through challenges and sustain its capacity for fostering stability and visioning next steps over long periods of time. As a result, not only is Jupiter in Aquarius well suited for helping us endure the extended period of dealing with the repercussions from the global pandemic that will be coming, it can also support us in cultivating mutually supportive communities that will help us navigate through the unknown difficulties on the horizon.

Due to the pleasure Jupiter in Aquarius finds when breaking free from the status quo, we will be able to utilize the transit of Jupiter through Aquarius for discovering inspiration and resolution from unusual sources and philosophies existing beyond the boundaries of mainstream thought and belief. As a bridge between the known and the unknown, Jupiter in Aquarius will facilitate deep dives into the unexplored aspects of your interests. The nonlinear side of Jupiter in Aquarius can attune to resonant frequencies across barriers of time and space, synthesizing insight together from diverse time periods and cultures.  Jupiter in Aquarius will support movements within the arts and humanities that appear leading-edge yet also have roots in lineages from the past, supplying a solid foundation from which groundbreaking inventions may spring. We can expect an invigorating influx of innovative ideas and trends across the diverse fields of the humanities, arts and sciences as Jupiter makes its passage through Aquarius.

A small sampling of well known figures born with Jupiter in Aquarius includes Malala Yousafzai, Michelangelo, Albert Einstein, Immanuel Kant, Alan Watts, Allen Ginsburg, Jean Jacque Rousseau, Michel Foucault, Thomas Paine, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, William Burroughs, Walt Whitman, Richard Tarnas, Gustave Dore, Wassily Kandinsky, Madame Blavatsky, Marie Curie, Agatha Christie, Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana, Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Alex Jones, Ann Coulter, Jeremy Corbin, Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Ted Turner, Rachel Maddow, Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Meryl Streep, Marilyn Monroe, Bill Murray, Ricky Gervais, Jerry Lewis, Groucho Marx, Dave Chappelle, Eddie Murphy, Mel Brooks, Martin Short, John Steinbeck, David Foster Wallace, HP Lovecraft, Chuck Berry, Etta James, Tom Verlaine, and Tom Waits. 

by CG Jung from Liber Novus

Lightning in the Mist

The meaning of the great conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius needs to also take account of the fact that Jupiter and Saturn are applying toward a waning square aspect with Uranus in Taurus. Although Jupiter will only form one exact square aspect with Uranus on January 17, there will be a drawn out sequence of three square aspects between Saturn and Uranus that will be exact on February 17 at 7º14′ Aquarius and Taurus, for a second time at 13º07′ on June 14, and for a final time on December 24, 2021 at 11º06′ Aquarius and Taurus. The last quarter square aspects between Saturn and Jupiter with Uranus means that both Saturn and Jupiter have made it three-fourths of the way through their synodic cycles with Uranus (Saturn and Uranus have a cycle that lasts about forty five and a half years, while Jupiter and Uranus have a cycle that lasts between thirteen and fourteen years). The tension between them will demand reorientation through questioning the direction we have been following on personal and societal levels. While the implications of these catalyzing aspects are massive on a global scale and will involve conflicts between those seeking world power, they will also be decisively important in our individual lives.

As I previously wrote in March 2020 in my article on Saturn in Aquarius, although I had long wondered what the depth of discord signified by Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto coming together during 2020 would be like, the aspect that gave me the most pause was that we would be transitioning from a conjunction of Saturn and Pluto into a waning square between Saturn and Uranus, with Jupiter moving through conjunctions with Pluto and Saturn into a waning square with Uranus. This tumultuous sequence suggests that the exposure of societal toxicity and shadowy material during the alignments between Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto could lead to explosive conflicts and the shattering collapses of societal structures once the alignment between Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus becomes activated. Like any period of breakdown involving Uranus, however, the increased volatility also means that important breakthroughs will also be possible.

I’ve long found meaning in the way Dane Rudhyar described the relationships between Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus. Rudhyar viewed Jupiter as the soulful function of our purpose within the form of our Saturn structure, as Jupiter receives, manages, and initiates within the boundaries of Saturn. Rudhyar described Jupiter as helping us to integrate what the external world has to offer that will contribute to our inner structure, just as Jupiter needs the protective structure of Saturn in order to operate from within. As a result, while Jupiter expands us, the contraction of Saturn in response tends to keep our growth confined to the current framework that for most has been heavily conditioned by surrounding culture.

In Uranus – Master of Transformations Dane Rudhyar described how Uranus can radically change the structures of Saturn, unlike Jupiter which modifies within the structures of Saturn. Rudhyar wrote that Uranus “pierces through” the walls of Saturn, allowing our consciousness within the shells of Saturn to “behold vistas of the beyond,” creating “channels through which the ‘flashes of intuition,’ the ‘inspiration of genius,’ may suddenly reveal themselves.” As a result, the shattering impact of Uranus can give Jupiter space to expand our sense of meaning and vision beyond the former constraints of Saturn. As Rudhyar imagined, “where the walls of consciousness are strong, the Jupiterian urge opens the gates, that caravans loaded with Uranian gifts from the farther lands may enter.” Yet the influence of Saturn is still needed to structure and manifest these far-flung insights into forms that can be understood and utilized by those surrounding us in our collective cultures.

Thus the sudden leaps of illumination and inspiration that Jupiter and Uranus constellate can break us free from the conditioning of culture that have repressed or limited our capacity to embody our essential purpose and potential. Yet the breakthroughs of Jupiter and Uranus can be extremely disruptive to the ways we have formed our security and identity around the attachments that their lightning strikes dislodge. There can be potential to dissociate or split off our awakened potential rather than find ways to begin integrating it into our life, risking the volatility to present forms of stability that integration will incite. If we choose to accept the awakening, we must realize and embrace a more expansive whole that holds within it our radically shifting perceptions, experimenting with how to live from our fresh emergence rather than remain in the old status quo. Rather than live from the side of Saturn that conforms to group dynamics for security, we need to work with Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus in ways that allow us to shed whatever we have built up over time that no longer authentically aligns with us.

However, the integration possible on personal levels will much more difficult to achieve on societal levels. Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche described periods of Saturn and Uranus as involving “the exacerbation of tensions between authority and rebellion, order and freedom, structure and change” as well as “repressive revolution,” “erratically unpredictable authority,” “sudden collapse of structures,” and “grim awakenings.” André Barbault in Planetary Cycles: Mundane Astrology described the Saturn Uranus cycle as inciting “a thirst for conquest, extremist aspirations, ventures that go to the limits, authoritarian power” among other themes when they conjoin and initiate a new cycle. Breaking down their forty-five or so year cycle, Barbault defined their 1805-52 cycle as being about territorialism and the United States, their 1852-97 cycle involving the movement “from capitalism to imperialism,” their 1897-1942 cycle involving the movement “from imperialism to fascism,” their 1942-88 cycle involving “the Americanization of the world,” and their present cycle from 1988 to 2032 involving “globalization.”

The current Saturn Uranus cycle began in 1988 at the end of Sagittarius, with Saturn and Uranus forming conjunctions on February 13 at 29º55′, June 26 at 28º47′, and October 18 at 27º49′ Sagittarius. At the beginning of the new cycle between Saturn and Uranus the Cold War came to an end, the Soviet Union was torn apart, and the Berlin Wall came down, with the demolition of the Berlin Wall completed in November 1991 with Saturn in Aquarius. The meaning of the United States emerging as the world superpower at the beginning of the present Saturn Uranus cycle was clear to Barbault:

“The US became the only world superpower. Its authority was omnipresent and it had a decisive weight in international life until this unilateralism is contested. There is no doubt that American imperialism has reached the summit of its historic superiority with this present cycle 1988 – 2032. Neo-capitalism, hand in hand with the technological revolution, brought about by computer science and crowned by the advent of the Internet.”

— André Barbault in Planetary Cycles: Mundane Astrology

Notably, there were significant economic crises and disruptions during the waning square aspect between Saturn and Uranus in their previous two cycles. The years 1930 to 1931 brought the Great Depression and economic instability around the world, while the years that Saturn formed a waning square with Uranus from 1975 to 1976 brought inflation and stalled economic growth. Oftentimes the waning square between Saturn and Uranus brings challenges and tests emanating from the tension of their opposition- in the present cycle, this involved a long sequence of four oppositions from November 2008 into the beginning of 2010, a time period often described as the Great Recession. 

The years surrounding 2010 are especially important to consider, as there was not only an opposition between Saturn and Uranus but also an opposition between Saturn and Jupiter as well as a conjunction between Jupiter and Uranus.  Relative to the environmental and economic issues related to the era of earth we are leaving, both the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico occurred during this time. Within these years the present cycle between Jupiter and Uranus began, with the first conjunction at 0°18′ Aries on 8 June 2010, the second conjunction at 28°43′ Pisces on 19 September 2010, and their third conjunction at 27°02′ Pisces on 4 January 2011.

The waning square phases between Jupiter and Saturn with Uranus we are entering in 2021 involves the beginning of the decomposition of the previous cycles, a time in which we must question and confront the societal beliefs and structures we have developed, reorienting toward what needs to be released and what needs to be built to address whatever the present collective crises expose as no longer working. There will be a need for courage, for drawing from the depths of inner reservoirs in order to mediate the numerous polarized conflicts erupting that involve large collective forces careening seemingly out of control. When focusing on our personal lives and those we can impact on an individual level, however, the immense shifts signified by the alignments between Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus stress the importance of claiming your inner authority to productively change the elements of your life you are able to manage. Community and nurturing mutually supportive relationships will be vital, as will be the need to construct flexible networks of support that can reach out to those in need.

The study of past triplicity cycles reveals that empires tend to fall during the transition from earth to air, with an influx of new communication networks that redistribute resources arriving in a climate of instability during which empires of consolidated material security are broken up (the conquests of Alexander the Great, the fall of the Roman empire, and the conquests of Genghis Khan are some past examples of the transition to the air era). As a result, the volatile aspects between Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus that will shape 2021 will be part of a much larger sweep of change around the world. If interested in researching past triplicity eras, it’s important to realize that there is a major difference in defining triplicity eras depending upon whether or not you are using the apparent conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the visible sky that I have been writing about in this article, versus whether you are using their “mean” conjunction cycle based upon the average length of each planetary cycle (click here for an article by Benjamin Dykes on this). Tracking the mean cycle is what gives an orderly succession of eras, whereas tracking the visible conjunctions gives a disordered succession. 

Thus although the first visible conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn in tropical air signs occurred in 1980 and 1981, the first mean conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn was in Gemini on November 4, 2000. As a result, in 1980 and 1981 there was a foreshadowing of the new air era that also involved Jupiter and Saturn ending cycles with Pluto similar to how they did so again in 2020. The difference is that Jupiter and Saturn formed their conjunction first in the beginning of the 1980s, with Jupiter then beginning a new cycle with Pluto in Libra in 1981 followed by Saturn beginning a new cycle with Pluto in Libra in 1982. There is therefore a compelling link between the transition to the air era with Pluto, as in 2020 we experienced the beginning of the new cycle between Saturn and Pluto in January followed by Jupiter beginning a new cycle with Pluto before finally coming together with Saturn.  Moreover, the first mean conjunction in Gemini in 2000 aligned with the true locations of Jupiter opposing Pluto and Saturn being within fifteen degrees of its opposition with Pluto.

There are horrific aspects of death and oppression that constellate when Saturn and Pluto align, yet the constructive side of their unions bring opportunities to explore one’s shadow amidst the exposure of societal toxicity. Within the decomposition brought by Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto coming together during 2020 we have had opportunities to discover vital aspects of ourselves to resurrect that had been buried. Though the union of Jupiter and Saturn does not mean we are entering the Age of Aquarius as defined by the precession of the equinoxes, there is a Plutonic link between the period we are in with the ideas that C.G. Jung developed about navigating the transition between the Age of Pisces and the Age of Aquarius. In The Astrological World of Jung’s Liber Novus: Daimons, Gods, and the Planetary Journey, Liz Greene wrote that Jung felt that “the Saturn-ruled Aion of Aquarius . . . would initially be a true nigredo within the collective psyche as human beings faced the profound and necessary confrontation with the problem of their own evil.”

We can use astrological symbolism to conjecture that the era of air will open a multitude of new perspectives, ideals, and worlds, and that the collective movement will be more flexible, elevated, and expansive than the era of earth rooted in more solid, heavy, durable, and stable matters. Yet the gravity of the moment, the collective burden of resources being so unequally distributed, the excessive wealth and power controlled by a scant minority, the overconsumption of natural resources by humans, and many other earthly concerns will all be more important than ever. From the vastly larger perspective of time opened by considering triplicity eras, it’s even more clear that everything we do this year matters. Our actions now are not only about what this transition means for us, but also for what it will mean for our ancestors who follow us and will look back upon us as their ancestral source.

As we are the ones responsible for what happens at the beginning of this massive transition, we will not be able to know the full implications of how our actions will reverberate across the next two centuries. We can know that the way we form relationship with the soul of the world around us matters, as will the way we form community with the humans and other-than-humans in our interconnected environments.

XVII THE STAR by Pamela Colman Smith

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References

Barbault, André. (2014). Planetary Cycles: Mundane Astrology. The Astrological Association.

Eratosthenes and Hyginus Constellation Myths with Aratus’s Phaenomena. A new translation by Robin Hand. (2015). Oxford University Press.

Ficino, Marsilio. Three Books on Life. A critical edition and translation by Carol Kaske and John Clark. (1998). Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies.

George, Demetra. (2019). Ancient Astrology: In Theory and Practice. Rubedo Press.

Greenbaum, Dorian Gieseler. (2005). Temperament: Astrology’s Forgotten Key. The Wessex Astrologer.

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

Jung, Carl. (1981, 5th printing).  Aion: Researches into the Phenomenlogy of the Self. Routledge.

Kingsley, Peter. (1995). Ancient Philosophy, Mystery, and Magic: Empedocles and Pythagorean Tradition. Oxford University Press.

Noelle, Richard. (1999). The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction.  http://www.astropro.com/features/tables/geo/ju-sa/ju000sa.html

Rudhyar, Dane. Jupiter: Organizer of Functions.

Rudhyar, Dane. Uranus:  Master of Transformations.

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

Usher, Joy. (2018). A Tiny Universe: Astrology and the Thema Mundi Chart. Joy Usher.

Saturn in Aquarius

Saturn in Aquarius

Cloud Study by JMW Turner; Astrology glyphs by Bradley Naragon

“The fisherman draws fish that he never saw from many fathoms beneath the water, the miner brings gold from the depths out of the earth, through which his sight cannot pierce. In this wise has God taught it.

As there is nothing so occult that it shall not become manifest, so the same must be made known. Be it in the celestial firmament, in the sea, in the earth, all things must become manifest; but through man who discovers all things.”

— Paracelsus (born with Saturn in Aquarius) from his preface to Magia Emblemata et Prognostici

“The likelihood that your acts of resistance cannot stop the injustice does not exempt you from acting in what you sincerely and reflectively hold to be the best interests of your community.”

— Susan Sontag (born with Saturn in Aquarius) from At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches

Saturn in Aquarius

Saturn enters Aquarius on March 21 or 22 (depending upon your time zone) where it will remain until shifting retrograde back into Capricorn on July 1, 2020. Saturn will return to Aquarius on December 16, 2020 where it will transit until March 7, 2023.

On 21 March 2020, Saturn will return to its airy, outwardly directed home of Aquarius for the first time since 1994. With a western wind at its back, Saturn in Aquarius will slowly turn its steady gaze and cunning thoughts outward into the farthest reaches of society so that it may reorder structures, reform connections, and develop innovations. In Aquarius, Saturn will swing its scythe into unknown terrain, harvesting knowledge that is removed from mainstream paths and beyond the norm. Whether the vision of Saturn extends beyond the known boundaries of outer space, such as in the work of Carl Sagan who was born with Saturn in Aquarius, or into the vast unknown realms of inner space, such as in the work of Carl Jung who was born with Saturn in Aquarius, Saturn contemplating within its own temple of Aquarius unlocks potential for mining knowledge from the outermost frontiers and borderlines of thought.

Saturn in Aquarius is comfortable removing itself from the busyness of civilized culture to contemplate matters and incubate wisdom within the protected space of a hermit. Whether in the hermetic writing and magical art of William Blake and Marsilio Ficino, the groundbreaking prose of Gertrude Stein and Anaïs Nin, the music of Leonard Cohen and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the poetry of Robert Frost, Rainer Maria Rilke and Pablo Neruda, or the pioneering primatology and anthropology of Jane Goodall, human history has displayed a long list of people born with Saturn in Aquarius who were willing to follow their inner genius for guidance rather than conform to the consensus boundaries, barriers, and judgment of civilization. Although we have already experienced twenty-seven months of Saturn securely expressing itself in its nocturnal, cardinal, earthen home of Capricorn, there will be a noticeable difference in the way Saturn directly expresses itself in its diurnal, fixed, airy home of Aquarius.

When looking back from the future at the ingress of Saturn into Aquarius in 2020, it will be impossible to separate it from the global outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic. In many ways, we couldn’t ask for a more helpful ingress at this time for the ringed planet, as Saturn leaving Capricorn to enter Aquarius brings a change in significations that will promote scientific responses to find cures and restrain the spread of the coronavirus, distribution of effective information for protection and containment, and a vast reordering of societal structures and institutions to deal with the devastating impact the corresponding economic fallout will have on individual lives. However, Saturn does not bring swift solutions and tends to deliver its blessings after enduring periods of time that feel bleak and burdensome as we deal with the heavy weight and pressure of whatever issue Saturn has focused attention upon.

In fact, more so than COVID 19 being linked to the entrance of Saturn into Aquarius, it will forever be known as a defining event stemming from the conjunction between Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn on January 12, 2020. Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche masterfully described periods of Saturn Pluto as bringing an “irrevocable termination of an established order of existence” and “a widespread sense of victimization and suffering under the impact of cataclysmic and oppressive forces of history” that make previous periods in hindsight appear naive and full of indulgent denial. Yet Tarnas also described “the Saturn-Pluto complex” as “press[ing] the psyche, individual or collective, towards the forging of a deeper and stronger structure of moral consciousness” that calls forth “personal and collective determination,” “intensely focused, silent, strenuous effort in the face of danger and death,” and “a deepening capacity for moral discernment born from experience and suffering.”  While some think that bats, animals of Saturn in traditional astrology, are the source of COVID 19, it’s also clear that humanity bears responsibility for its spread and will need to be resolutely accountable to the defensive, restraining, containing counsel of Saturn for the greater good.

Saturn will remain within the fifteen degree orb that Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche used to define archetypal eras of outer planet conjunctions for the rest of 2020 and most of 2021, with Saturn beginning to leave the orb in April of 2021 before returning with its retrograde and not leaving the orb for good until December of 2021. While this means we still have an extended period of time ahead of us to deal with the fallout from the Saturn Pluto conjunction, there will be a noticeable degree of difference once Saturn is no longer co-present with Pluto in Capricorn. Saturn will initially spend a few months in Aquarius, from March 22 through July 1, until returning to Capricorn to deliver a final lesson with Pluto and Jupiter in the sign of the Sea Goat from the beginning of July until December 16 when Saturn returns to the terrain of the Water Bearer.

Thus from March 21 through July 1, we can benefit from Saturn being separated by sign from Pluto and put into place new structural supports to address whatever has buckled under the weight of Capricorn pressure, as well as gain foresight regarding the larger issues and changes we will face at the end of 2020 when Saturn and Jupiter form their great conjunction in the first degree of Aquarius. Major difficulties corresponding with Saturn in Aquarius will be obvious immediately, as there will be only a week before Saturn will welcome the raging red star of Ares into its Aquarian home. Mars will enter Aquarius on March 30, form a conjunction with Saturn on March 31, and then move into a disruptive square with Uranus in Taurus on April 7 that will trigger the waning square aspect between Saturn and Uranus that will be a dominant astrological theme of 2021 (see below for more details on the Saturn Uranus cycle). As a result, the dramatic discord we will need to endure at the end of March and beginning of April will deliver a preview of the larger ideological conflicts and changes that will be taking shape across global societies in the years ahead.

Saturn in Aquarius

Aquarius by Salvador Dali (born with Saturn in Aquarius)

Water Bearer

If, Ocean, you could grant, out of your gifts and dooms, /  some measure, fruit or ferment for my hands, / I’d choose your distant rest, your brinks of steel, / your furthest reaches watched by air and night, / the energy of your white dialect / downing and shattering its columns / in its own demolished purity.

Not the last wave with its weight of salt / crumbles the coastline and produces / a truce of sand encircling the world: / but tugging gravity, the pull of force, / the far-flung potency of waters / and the still solitude replete with lives. / Time, no doubt, or brimming crucible / of movement, primal unity / that death has left unsealed, green viscerae / of all-consuming oneness.

Of the drowned arm which lifts the water drop / only a kiss of salt remains. A humid fragrance / of drifting flowers clings where humans / bathed along your shores. Your energy / appears to glide away unspent, / seems to return to its original rest.

The wave you part with, / bow of identity, starry feather, / was only foam when it fell to pieces / and returned to be born, unconsumed, / Your whole strength clambers back to its origins. / You surrender nothing but mangled spoils, / husks your carriage swept aside, / the rejects of your abundant labor, / the shreds of afterbirth.

Your statue throws its shadow beyond the furthest wave

Living and co-related like breast and garment / of a single being and the breaths he draws, / in the matter of light haled from the deep / meadows uplifted by the waves / create the naked membrane of the planet. / You fill your own being with your substance.

And fulfill the curvature of silence.

The cup trembles with your salt and honey, / the universal womb of waters, / and nothing is wanting in you, as in the flayed / Crater, the unpolished pit: / desolate summits, scars, adhesions, / protecting the mutilated air.

Your petals throb against the world, / your submarine crops tremble, / the smooth algae brood like a menace, / the schools navigate and propagate / and only the dead lightning of scales / rises to the thread of the fishing nets / a wounded market in the distance / of your crystalline totalities.

The Great Ocean by Pablo Neruda (born with Saturn in Aquarius)

Both of Saturn’s constellational homes of Capricorn the Sea Goat and Aquarius the Water Bearer are found within the great ocean of the heavens that also includes Pisces the fish, Cetus the whale, Delphinus the dolphin, Eridanus the river, Pisces Australis the southern fish, and Hydra the water serpent. The second century CE, Hellenistic astrologer Vettius Valens described Saturn as “given to seafaring” and “practicing waterside trades,” and just as ancient cosmology perceived the Titan river god Oceanus as encircling the known world, so was Saturn known to contain the limits of human thought within its rings. Mythic figures associated with Aquarius have a connection with bearing water sourced from the divine, such as Ganymede the cup bearer in Greek mythology, or Hapi who measured and tended the ever enlivening waters of the Nile River in Egyptian mythology.

Saturn can be held responsible for bearing the divine waters of Aquarius due to governing the sphere of the heavens at the threshold between the planets and the sphere of the fixed stars beyond which resides the immortal, divine realm of the archetypal zodiac. While the 12th century astrologer Abraham ibn Ezra gave “the power of thought” to Saturn, the 17th century astrologer William Lilly described Saturn as “profound in Imagination,” as Saturn has long been viewed in astrology as being the most potent for deep contemplation that tests the limits of known boundaries. The 10th or 11th century author of The Picatrix wrote that Saturn further rules “profound sciences” and the “science of laws” that seek “the causes and roots of things and their effects.”

Yet there are many differences in how Saturn operates within Aquarius in contrast to Capricorn, including that while Capricorn is known as a bestial and semi-vocal sign, Aquarius is known as a humane and vocal sign. This means that Saturn’s significations are more focused within issues concerning humanity in Aquarius, including in the use of scientific thought to address humanitarian concerns and communicate findings.  For example, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring when Saturn was in Aquarius in 1962, calling for an end to the devastating environmental impact of humans using pesticides. We can expect significant scientific and technological developments during the passage of Saturn through Aquarius, as well as imaginative innovations in all fields of the arts and humanities.

Aquarius is also a fixed sign in contrast to Capricorn being a cardinal sign. Thus while Saturn tends to be more of an initiator of enterprises in Capricorn, it becomes more of a sustainer and solidifier of stability within Aquarius. Due to the long co-presence of Saturn, Pluto, the South Node of the Moon, and eclipses in Capricorn in the past year and a half, we have had to strike a balance between releasing and shedding the aspects of our lives in states of decay and decomposition, while initiating new visions of growth as our sense of purpose became honed within the Saturnine tests of what will endure. Saturn in Aquarius will be an ally in building upon the gains we have already made, as long as we work on what is necessary to achieve longterm goals rather than short-term rewards.  However, the fixed quality of Saturn in Aquarius is not only more resolute, thorough and steady than in Capricorn, it can also be more stubborn and slower moving. It will be important to realize when we need to let go of the perspectives, dreams and plans we have been overly attached to so that we can refocus on new directions to follow that will lead to needed innovations and reforms.

The_Lord_Answering_Job_Out_of_the_Whirlwind_Butts_set

The Lord Answering Job in the Whirlwind by William Blake (born with Saturn in Aquarius)

“Behold, I raise myself up also to you, aged Saturn . . . Powerful of sickle, aged, ripe, slow, cautious, inspiring, sickle-bearing, sorrowful, wise and judicious, deep, the one who enters, who examines, who scrutinizes, ye whose head is full of thoughts, ye who contemplate. Lord of the Ages, cultivator of the fields, inventor of the scythe, ruler of the helmsman of the aeons, instructor in Eternity’s course, measurer of the intervals of the months, leveling impassable eternity with the length of time, father of the parent of the gods, bestowing and removing all things under the devouring maw of time, he who orders all things which come into being, preserver of those things which endure, remover of all things which perish.”

— Giordano Bruno, Cantus Circaeus: The Incantations of Circe (1582) translated by Darius Klein

Air Triplicity

One of the most important differences between Saturn’s expression within its two homes is that Capricorn is part of the earth triplicity, whereas Aquarius is part of the air triplicity. This is hugely significant because Saturn rejoices in air signs and is the diurnal ruler of the air triplicity, meaning that Saturn is the primary ruler of placements in air signs in astrology charts cast during daytime hours. As Saturn is also considered to be a diurnal planet, it further resonates with Aquarius being a diurnal and outwardly directed zodiac sign like all air signs are considered to be. Demetra George in Ancient Astrology wrote that Robert Schmidt of Project Hindsight speculated “that since the triplicities were originally associated with the winds from the four directions, a planet in its own triplicity, especially if it was its own triplicity lord, indicated that this planet had powerful winds at its back spurring it on to the completion of successful enterprises.”

It’s worth considering the place the sphere of air holds within the sequence of the spheres of the elements utilized in traditional astrology. Earth is the most dense and solid element that is the most resistant to change, while fire is the most subtle and elevated element that is closest to spirit. Similar to how Saturn rules the planetary sphere at the threshold with the celestial fire of the sphere of the fixed stars, the element of air is in an intermediary place in between the celestial heights of fire and the condensing descent of the water and earth elements. Likewise, Saturn in Aquarius is a threshold guardian between the numinous and the incarnate.

Since Capricorn is an inwardly directed sign of dense stone and heavy, earthy matters, we will notice an increased capacity for flights of imagination to escape the confinement of our circumstances while Saturn is in Aquarius. Helena Avelar and Luis Ribeiro in their text On the Heavenly Spheres described the air element as possessing “lightness and the capacity to penetrate,” “great mobility,” “a unifying role,” and characterizing things that display “great agility and flexibility.” The capacity of air to unify and flexibly respond has a tempering effect on the rigid significations of Saturn that can reject and create separation. In combination, Saturn can utilize the unifying nature of air to coalesce new material forms from far reaching vision and articulate its meaning so that others gain understanding. Within society, Saturn in Aquarius can correlate with the creation of binding laws and theoretical structures that hold together and sustain vast material realms, such as the United States Constitution that was created in 1787 when Saturn and Pluto were close together in Aquarius.

Most importantly with regard to how astrology measures historical eras, the entrance of Saturn into Aquarius signals that we will ultimately experience a great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the first degree of Aquarius on December 21, 2020. The cycle between Jupiter and Saturn that regenerates every twenty years has been the paramount astrological cycle to pay attention to when analyzing changes in historical eras since at least the 3rd century CE within Persian astrology. The ending and beginning of cycles between Jupiter and Saturn have long corresponded with the death of old kings and the emergence of new orders in governance as well as revelations within fields of thought and belief. While there is a smaller cycle of Jupiter and Saturn forming conjunctions every twenty years, there is a larger cycle of Jupiter and Saturn forming conjunctions every two hundred years within the same triplicity that correspondingly demarcates larger changes in dynasty and thought on vast collective levels.

For example, there were conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn occurring in air signs from the beginning of the thirteenth century until the beginning of the fifteenth century, in water signs from the beginning of the fifteenth century until the beginning of the seventeenth century, and in fire signs from the beginning of the seventeenth century until the beginning of the nineteenth century. Since 1802 the Saturn and Jupiter conjunctions have been occurring in earth signs, with the final true conjunction in a tropical earth sign occurring on May 28, 2000 in Taurus. After the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius in 2020, there will continue to only be true conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn in tropical air signs until 2159. Yet when based upon the “mean” conjunction utilized in Ptolemaic astronomy that is based upon the average length of each planetary cycle (click here for an article by Benjamin Dykes on this) we will not shift from the air triplicity era into the next era of the water triplicity until the year 2219.

Looking back upon previous transitions from the eras of Jupiter and Saturn uniting in earth signs into air signs, we can see how previous eras and empires of consolidated material security became disrupted leading to dramatic changes in distribution of resources as well as in collective ideas and communication. The previous air triplicity era that began in 1206 involved the mongol invasions of Genghis Khan that created the Mongol Empire as well as the Black Plague that decimated Europe in particular. Going further back to the previous air triplicity era before this from 412 – 610 CE, history reveals the fall of the Roman empire. The previous air triplicity era before this from 383 – 185 BC involved the conquests of Alexander the Great which brought the empires of Egypt, Greece, and Persia together under common languages and trade networks.

While there was a true conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in tropical Libra at the end of 1980, the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius in 2020 is the first one that permanently locks their cycle into an era of conjunctions in the air triplicity. From now until December, we will be experiencing the last gasps of the earth era that began in 1802 with a conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter in Virgo, a historical era that has coincided with the acceleration of the industrial revolution and human consumption of natural resources to create our modern civilization. From considering past cycles we would expect that as we exit the earth era and enter the air era, we will experience a great disruption of the past earth cycle that will eventually create new networks through which information and resources will be widely dispersed as part of an air triplicity era. One major player in this way has been the Internet, and so it is further interesting that the World Wide Web was first publicly released in August 1991 when Saturn was previously in Aquarius.

However, it has now become clear that COVID 19 is bringing about an incredibly rapid reckoning with the global economic structures that have been established during the past earth era. In particular, the United States of America with its present economic and healthcare structures is completely unprepared for the present crisis and will need to make unprecedented changes in systematic structure to address the fracturing of public health and finance that will result from the pandemic. Despite the national border closings and general social distancing, COVID 19 is an increasingly global crisis that will be uniting people from diverse cultures together under a common cause of how to survive the widespread calamity. With Saturn operating in peak strength in Aquarius, there is vast potential for a drastic reordering of systematic structures to eventually emerge from the dissolution of the status quo and the increasing amount of collective pressure that will be placed on those in power to respond appropriately.

Saturn in Aquarius

Mandala 97 from Liber Novus by Carl Jung (born with Saturn in Aquarius)

Saturn square Uranus

“The divine appears to me as irrational craziness”

— Carl Jung (born with Saturn in Aquarius) from Liber Novus

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

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

— Carl Jung (born with Saturn in Aquarius) from The Undiscovered Self

Last year when I was looking ahead to the sweep of astrological transits taking us through 2020 into 2021, the feature that gave me the most pause was the fact that we would be transitioning from a conjunction of Saturn and Pluto into a waning square between Saturn and Uranus, with Jupiter moving through conjunctions with Pluto and Saturn into a waning square with Uranus. Altogether this means that Saturn and Jupiter will be bringing the cathartic intensity of their union with Pluto into a volatile mixture with Uranus. Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche described the Saturn and Pluto cycle as aligning with “conservative empowerment” and “eras of international crisis and conflict, empowerment of reactionary forces and totalitarian impulses, organized violence and oppression.” In contrast, Tarnas described the periods of Saturn and Uranus in hard aspect we are entering now as involving “the exacerbation of tensions between authority and rebellion, order and freedom, structure and change” as well as “repressive revolution,” “erratically unpredictable authority,” “sudden collapse of structures,” and “grim awakenings.”

Saturn entering Aquarius on March 21, 2020 will trigger its waning square with Uranus in Taurus, but it will not become exact in 2020 as Saturn will station retrograde on May 10 at two degrees of Aquarius in order to retreat back into Capricorn. The waning square between Saturn and Uranus will become exact on February 17, 2021 at 7º14′ of Aquarius and Taurus, then again on June 14, 2021 at 13º07′, and for a final time on December 24, 2021 at 11º06′ of Aquarius and Taurus. Our first sense of what will be coming with this volatile transit will be felt from now until Saturn returns to Capricorn on July 1, with greater clarity coming once Saturn and Jupiter form their conjunction in Aquarius on December 21, 2020 that will be in range of a catalyzing square aspect with Uranus.

Since we are entering the waning square between Saturn and Uranus, it is important to consider when the seeds of their current cycle were planted. The current Saturn Uranus cycle began in 1988 at the end of Sagittarius, with Saturn and Uranus forming conjunctions on February 13 at 29º55′, June 26 at 28º47′, and October 18 at 27º49′ Sagittarius. At the beginning of the new cycle between Saturn and Uranus the Cold War came to an end, the Soviet Union was torn apart, and the Berlin Wall came down, with the demolition of the Berlin Wall completed in November 1991 with Saturn in Aquarius. In relation to the new meaning between Saturn and Uranus that was born during this period, the waning square of 2020 and 2021 is a phase of decomposition in which we must question and confront the societal beliefs and structures we have developed over the course of this cycle, reorienting toward what needs to be released and what needs to be built to address whatever the present collective crises expose as no longer working.

Remarkably, the waxing square between Saturn and Uranus in their current cycle occurred during the previous period of Jupiter ending and beginning a cycle with Saturn in 1999 and 2000. Saturn in Taurus formed a square with Uranus in Aquarius on November 14, 1999 at 13º04′ and again on May 13, 2000 at 20º46′ only two weeks before Jupiter formed its great conjunction with Saturn at 22º46′ Taurus on May 28. During the waxing square between the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Taurus with Uranus in Aquarius, Uranus was in the superior position due to being in the tenth place from Saturn and Jupiter. This means that within their tension, the volatility of Uranus was in position to overcome the societal ordering of Jupiter and Saturn. We can see the shattering impact of Uranus upon this cycle between Jupiter and Saturn in the terror and shocking devastation of the September 11, 2001 attack on the twin towers of New York City that led to widespread destruction and chaos in the Middle East region and wars that have still not ended to this day. There was also an overwhelming impact of Uranian technology such as the Internet on global societies that has required constant adjustments over the course of the past twenty year cycle between Jupiter and Saturn.

In contrast, the great conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius on December 21, 2020 will be in a superior square aspect with Uranus in Taurus. As a result, the new order initiated between Jupiter and Saturn will be in position to overcome the unpredictable disruption of Uranus. With regard to institutional changes initiated by global governments in response to the COVID 19 pandemic, it will be imperative to monitor decisions closely so that the established power structures do not use the crisis as a way to claim an even greater share of power and resources from the populace. As described in The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, the popular desire for rapid responses to collective disasters has led in the past to those in power taking advantage of people being in a state of stock by implementing free market policies that  go far beyond an appropriate disaster response and disproportionately benefit those in power at the expense of the wider populace.

Hopefully, the configuration of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius being in a superior square with Uranus can lead to radical, deep seated changes in societal structures that address societal inequities and bring about needed reforms and innovations within governments and community organizations. At the beginning of the Great Depression in the USA, Saturn in Capricorn was in a superior square with Uranus in Aries and it led to the New Deal. Negatively, the “repressive revolution” side of Saturn being in a superior square with Uranus occurred during the Reign of Terror in France when Saturn in Taurus was in a superior square with Uranus in Leo; however, during the Reign of Terror there was also a superior square from Pluto in Aquarius toward Saturn in Taurus and an opposition between Pluto with Uranus. In contrast, when the Civil War erupted in the USA, Uranus in Gemini was in a superior square with Saturn in Virgo.

No matter what happens during the collective volatility suggested by the astrology of 2020 and 2021, an important guiding light in the darkness will be the work of Saturn in Aquarius native Carl Jung. Indeed, Carl Jung was born with Saturn in Aquarius in an opposition with Uranus in Leo as well as Saturn in Aquarius in a superior square with Pluto in Taurus. Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche brilliantly summarized the connection between Jung’s work on the shadow with the meaning of the Saturn-Pluto cycle that has led into the ingress of Saturn into Aquarius, stating:

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

— Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche

Although the Jupiter and Saturn conjunction in Aquarius in 2020 does not demarcate entrance into the Age of Aquarius written about by Carl Jung, some of his thoughts on the transition between the Ages of Pisces and Aquarius are nonetheless relevant. Jung did not describe an Age of Aquarius utopia similar to the 1960s pop song by The 5th Dimension, but rather described it as a pivotal transition in human civilization fraught with peril and necessitating a confrontation with evil. Liz Greene in Jung’s Studies in Astrology wrote that Jung “viewed the Aquarian Aion as the epoch when individuals would interiorise the God-image,” a development within humanity that Peter Kingsley in Catafalque described Jung as warning could lead to “uncontainable hubris and inflation” that potentially could make the world “end up worse than it already is.”

While Jung viewed the Age of Pisces as involving a splitting between the opposites of good and evil with Jesus as one fish and Satan as the other, he viewed the living image of the human, Aquarian Water Bearer as revealing the union of opposites within humanity. In Aion he wrote that in the Age of Aquarius it will “no longer be possible to write off evil as the mere privation of good; its real existence will have to be recognized.” Jung concluded that “the problem of the union of opposites” cannot be solved by “philosophy, nor by economics, nor by politics, but only by the individual human being, via his experience of the living spirit.”

We need to take to heart that it will be up to each and every one of us as individuals to be accountable in confronting our own shadow and withdrawing projections that scapegoat others. There is evil in the material world, in the realm of spirit, and we can further find the seeds of this same evil within each of us. Collective crises bring out the best and worst in humanity, but we each can claim the responsibility to make time for exploring the shadow cast by conscious awareness so that we do not direct our fears and frustrations at others or develop an overinflated sense of our own needs at the expense of others.

Saturn in Aquarius possesses the intellectual fortitude needed to persevere through times of lack and solitude, while devising ways to support those in need and acting with the best interests of one’s wider community in mind. May the return of Saturn to its airy home of Aquarius bring a supportive wind to lift our spirits and help align our choices and actions with patient wisdom and visionary innovations. As Anaïs Nin (who was born with Saturn conjoining Mercury in Aquarius) once wrote, “Only in the fever of creation could she recreate her own lost life.”

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atalanta fugiens saturn emblem 12

Emblem 12 from Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens

References

Avelar, Helena and Ribeiro, Luis. (2010). On the Heavenly Spheres: A Treatise on Traditional Astrology. AFA.

Brennan, Chris. (2017). Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune. Amor Fati Publications.

Bruno, Giordano. (2009 edition). Cantus Circaeus: The Incantations of Circe, together with The Judiciary: Being the Arto of Memory. Translated by Darius Klein. Ouroboros Press.

George, Demetra. (2019). Ancient Astrology: In Theory and Practice. Rubedo Press.

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

Jung, Carl. (1981, 5th printing).  Aion: Researches into the Phenomenlogy of the Self. Routledge.

Kingsley, Peter. (2018). Catafalque: Carl Jung and the End of Humanity. Catafalque Press.

Lilly, William. (2004 edition). Christian Astrology. Astrology Classics.

Paracelsus. (2014 edition). Magia Emblemata et Prognostici. Ouroboros Press.

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

New Moon in Aquarius

chartres cathedral noah ark

Ark panel from Chartres Cathedral

New Moon in Aquarius

Following the flooding of last month’s Capricorn eclipse season, the Aquarius New Moon on January 24 bears light within its darkness to discover and utilize in illuminating the emerging path ahead. Eclipses bring dissolution externally and internally, and  so whether recognized or unrecognized the past month of intense astrological alignments have deeply stirred and reshaped matters. There was a Solar Eclipse in Capricorn on December 25/26, a Lunar Eclipse in Cancer on January 10, and the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto on January 12 that also involved the Sun beginning new cycles with Mercury, Ceres, Saturn, and Pluto within a few days. The New Moon in Aquarius initiates us into the first lunation cycle of the 2020s, and further marks the Year of the Metal Rat beginning within Chinese astrology and culture.

Aquarius is the outwardly directed home of Saturn that utilizes the air element’s power of thought to diverge from the mainstream, gaining understanding that can only be found beyond the boundaries and barriers of the status quo. In the past month of Saturn commingling with Pluto, we have been invited to descend into inner depths far removed from the drama and contention impacting our surface engagement with the everyday. We have had the opportunity to confront our relationship with time, realize what truly matters, and commit toward engagement with whatever vitally moves our soul and inspires us to resiliently persevere in the preservation of life.

As the Aquarius New Moon is separating from a catalyzing square aspect with Uranus in Taurus as well as a harmonious sextile with Chiron in Aries, there is a gale behind the lunation to catch sail with on our journey through the tumultuous astrology of 2020. There is movement within the lunation to bridge inner visions of our unconscious with our conscious participation in daily life, as the New Moon is applying toward a conjunction with Mercury in Aquarius, while Mercury is applying toward an invigorating sextile with Mars in Sagittarius. Mercury is carrying a message from the Saturn and Pluto conjunction that requires more time for gestation, since Mercury is still invisible under the beams of the Aquarius Sun. After Mercury emerges into visibility as an Evening Star on January 31 (as the waxing Moon in Taurus unites with Uranus), we will be able to receive wider understanding regarding the shifts taking shape in the past month, and greater clarity regarding the direction to follow into the future.

In order to face the future from a centered position, however, we necessarily will have to embrace and draw from our past, not only our inspiring moments of success but also how we have learned from our wounding experiences.  As we are collectively coming to an ending and beginning of a new era in 2020, we also need to acknowledge the complex and traumatic clashes of civilizations across time and how they are continuing to impact the discordant strife within current events. The objectifying nature of Mercury in the airy sign of Aquarius can facilitate listening to the underlying meaning within our interactions to discern where we need to focus for our own growth, and how we can be in service to others in need of support. For those who have felt weighed down during the past month, the Aquarius New Moon can ideally facilitate a healthy dose of detachment that can lead to innovative insights and a far ranging perspective that contextualizes present difficulties.

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Aquarius panel from Chartres Cathedral

The Aquarius New Moon is ruled by Saturn in Capricorn, with Saturn being only one degree separated from its conjunction with Pluto. The Saturn and Pluto conjunction is in the twelfth place relative to the Aquarius New Moon, in position to facilitate deep contemplation of circumstances that can bring to light issues and matters that have previously been kept hidden in darkness. There will be enduring consequences stemming from the Saturn and Pluto conjunction, and although its impact will remain in effect within a fifteen degree orb into 2021, its most significant period of being within three degrees of separation will last until February 17, toward the end of the lunar cycle initiated by the Aquarius New Moon. Saturn governs slow, arduous processes necessitating determination and discipline, and so we will need to stick with any trouble we have been experiencing, patiently working our way through any challenges. There will be significant developments related to the Saturn and Pluto conjunction coming in the forthcoming lunar cycle, so make the space to give associated events the time and space they need for sorting through.

Even though we are only at the beginning of 2020, many astrologers and astrology enthusiasts have been looking forward to the end of 2020 when Jupiter and Saturn will finally conjoin in Aquarius on December 21, only four degrees away from the degree of the Aquarius New Moon. While there is reason for astrological excitement due to 2020 transitioning us from a two hundred year cycle of Jupiter and Saturn uniting in earth signs into a two hundred year cycle of Jupiter and Saturn uniting in air signs, we have a lot of ground to cover in 2020 between now and then. As Jupiter in Capricorn moves through its closing, balsamic phase with Saturn during the year while uniting three different times with Pluto, there will be collective eruptions that reflect old historical issues of oppression and injustice rooted in the old era we are bringing to a close. There will be a great death of old forms and structures to endure, leading to the question of how to best work with the processes of putrefaction while simultaneously receiving visions of new ideas over the distant horizon.

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Marc Chagall stained glass from St. Stephan Cathedral in Mainz, Germany

As the Aquarius Sun sets into darkness, Venus will be shinning bright as an Evening Star in her exaltation of Pisces that gives her access to the full range of her sensuality and aesthetics. Venus is a key player within the dynamics of the lunation, as she is separating from a harmonizing sextile aspect with Jupiter in Capricorn and applying toward a heated square aspect with Mars in Sagittarius as well as an otherworldly conjunction with Neptune in Pisces. Venus will form her exact square with Mars on January 26 and her exact conjunction with Neptune on January 27. There is rich paradox within these aspects: on one side the unconditional, boundless love of Venus and Neptune that delights in merging, on the other side the fiery individualism and freedom seeking of Mars in harsh aspect that can create conflict and separation while maintaining independence.

Within the tension between Mars with Venus and Neptune, we need to strike a balance that draws upon their strengths and mediates their pitfalls. While we can summon the severing of Mars to shed the sort of illusions, projections, and over idealizations that Venus and Neptune can reveal together, we also need to discern when illusory projections are stoking desires for separation. Negatively, the crusading side of Mars in Sagittarius can become blinded by ideals to the extent of causing damage where destruction was unnecessary. Positively, although Venus and Neptune can become overly consumed by pleasure seeking and avoidant of mundane work, the catalyzing of Mars can light the fire of passions and inspire focused effort that utilizes the imaginative potency of Venus combined with Neptune. In the context of setting plans in motion with the beginning of a new lunar cycle, altogether it can be a powerful combination when focused on anything that enables integrating and bringing together the divergent elements of Mars, Venus, and Neptune.

Notably, Jupiter in Capricorn is ruling all three: Venus, Neptune, and Mars. While Jupiter is forming a sextile aspect with the Venus and Neptune conjunction in Pisces, it is also coming into range of a shadowy anti-scia with Mars in Sagittarius that will be potent between January 27 and 29. Jupiter is in position to help us learn from the challenging experiences of this period and buoyantly recover from setbacks, and is capable of coalescing growth or insight from any disillusionment, dissolution, or shedding taking place. With Jupiter co-present with Saturn in Capricorn, however, we need to guard against excess and instead focus on processes of creative contraction that take account of the constraints and limitations we are facing. Going to extremes or taking things too far with grandiose reactions can bring about a downfall that will force us to deal with difficult repercussions.

5 of Swords

5 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Aquarius 1 Decan

The New Moon in Aquarius arises in the first face of Aquarius associated with the Five of Swords card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image of the Five of Swords we see a proud swordsman watching his conquered rivals flee, leaving him solitary in a newly cleared domain. Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Mark of Exile” to the first decan of Aquarius, noting it “is a face of exclusion and intentional exile.” Coppock linked the meaning of this card to the independence, liberation, and “wider and deeper understanding of reality” to be found through breaking free from the orthodox and accepting “the mark of the heretic.” In this way, the image of the Five of Swords shows how we must sacrifice relationships when going into exile in frontiers beyond the known. Coppock stressed that the first face of Aquarius reveals that we often need to give up certain relationships as well as financial prosperity in order to gain the independence and spiritual understanding of the outsider.

The Hellenistic text the 36 Airs described the goddess of justice Dike as inhabiting the first face of Aquarius. Dike is the daughter of Zeus and Themis who is often seen wearing a laurel wreath and carrying a balancing scale so she may measure injustice. While her mother Themis is the goddess of divine justice, Dike rules over the moral justice of humanity. In one of her stories she lived on Earth during the Golden and Silver Ages when there was peace and prosperity. However, over time as humanity became increasingly corrupted and greedy, she became so full of contempt for humanity that she left the Earth forever to become a constellation in the sky. Fittingly, the two rulers of the first decan of Aquarius are Venus (descending order) and Saturn (triplicity order), signifying the boundaries of our relationships and the moral guidelines we use to determine who we form relationship with and who we separate ourselves from.

The rulerships of Venus and Saturn over the first face of Aquarius also makes me think of the individuation process of Carl Jung that demands descent into the frontiers of our inner psyche beyond our known boundaries of conventional psychology. Peter Kingsley in Catafalque goes to great length in describing passages dictated by Carl Jung that were omitted from publication in his memoir Memories, Dreams, and Reflections in which Jung used the central image of a knight in pursuit of the Grail to describe individuation. Kingsley noted that Jung stressed the crucial importance of the knight “adhering to the unwritten laws of chivalry” in order to gain the Grail, a moral code befitting of Venus and Saturn ruling the first face of Aquarius. Vitally, Kingsley’s summation of Jung’s words concluded that “the secret of individuation is that the one and only way to discover the Grail is by being it.”

Of course, the lore of the Grail demands asking “Whom does the Grail serve?” Similarly, the potent inner work that can be engaged with during the darkness of the Aquarius New Moon can also be most effectively utilized by asking yourself whom or what to serve with the regenerated light you discover within your inner darkness.

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References

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

Kingsley, Peter. (2018). Catafalque: Carl Jung and the End of Humanity. Catafalque Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aquarius Full Moon

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William Blake from The Song of Los

Aquarius Full Moon

“To be real about the sacred is to see not just what inside us is not sacred- but what it is inside us that’s against the sacred. What is it in our civilization that’s systematically, year after year and minute after minute, mile after mile and inch by inch, gutting everything sacred it touches: devouring it inside ourselves at the same time as irresistibly, inevitably, eating it up outside us in the beauty of landscape and nature?”

— Peter Kingsley, Catafalque

The Full Moon in Aquarius on August 15 illuminates explorations of inner darkness and contemplation regarding the path to follow into the great unknown ahead. The astrology of the past month has been missing the element of air (besides the Moon briefly traveling through each air sign) and so the fullness of the Moon’s light in the clarifying, objectifying, and visionary sign of the Water Bearer brings a needed dosage of the synthesizing and integrative capacities of the air element. Let the light of the Aquarius Full Moon nourish the seeds of rebirth in creativity and underlying values you have been tending during the past couple of months of liminal, mysterious transition. The fixed, persevering quality of Aquarius can help in discovering the inner as well as external resources needed to endure a journey into new terrain, facilitating inner resolve to overcome whatever barriers we have previously felt were preventing us from following a more authentic calling.

The Aquarius Full Moon serves as a gateway out of the complex and challenging astrological transits of the past couple of months, which included two eclipses connected with Saturn as well as a Mercury retrograde in Leo and Cancer period that deeply stirred up material dislodged by the eclipses. Not only are we now clear of eclipse season, but the Full Moon also brings the final resolution to the Mercury retrograde period that began in the beginning of July when Mercury stationed retrograde while conjoining Mars and forming a square to Uranus. As the Full Moon ripens, Mercury will be moving past the degree at which it stationed in July while also reforming its square aspect with Uranus. As a result, Mercury will be inciting revelations which will bring sudden and startling clarity to whatever questions have remained murky and mired in the mystery of the recent eclipse season.

Moreover, the Full Moon is simultaneously illuminating the reseeding of Venus by the Leo Sun, putting us in touch with a deep process of regenerating the values that source our desires. While we may feel disgusted, angry, or upset over immorality and tragedy in current events occurring throughout external society, we have the opportunity to turn within to discover fertile richness to cultivate. The Full Moon in Aquarius brings the gift of utilizing Aquarian processes of patient, contemplative detachment to step back from emotional overwhelm in order to penetrate into the nature of current circumstances and discern how to catalyze necessary growth. While we may feel like rushing ahead with plans, the fact that the lunation is ruled by Saturn slowly moving retrograde alongside the South Node of the Moon points to the fact that we are in the middle of a drawn out metamorphosis that requires further rumination regarding longterm plans. The waning half of the current lunar cycle will be bringing important information we will need to consider and integrate.

The Aquarius Full Moon is conjoining the fixed star Deneb Algedi, the great star which marks the tail of the Sea Goat constellation in the living sky above. Old magical texts on the fixed stars declared that the image of Deneb Algedi brings prosperity and increases wealth, as well as enhancing one’s home and keeping it secure. As the Aquarius Moon waxes full near the star of the Sea Goat’s tail in the sky, we can turn awareness into the oceanic, immaterial expanse underlying our reality where the roots of form take shape. Rather than becoming overly focused upon external validation for achievement, see what visions from subconscious senses are ready to manifest without regard for external standards of judgment. It may not be clear how to bring new ideas into reality yet, but by setting intention to nurture and foster their manifestation we can begin the process of patiently discovering the best course of development for them.

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Odilon Redon (1899) A Woman Clothed with the Sun

The Aquarius Full Moon on August 15 is forming an opposition with the superior conjunction of Venus that occurred on August 14 at 22 degrees of Leo. Venus at this point in its cycle is invisible and in an underworld phase that can be likened to the descent of Inanna into the Great Below to be stripped of her worldly possessions and experience death followed by a metamorphosis of understanding. At the time of the Full Moon, Venus has just emerged from being revivified by the creative potency of the Leo Sun and is ready to begin her long journey back from the underworld which will occur at the end of September when Venus arises once again as an Evening Star. As a result, the Full Moon will bring light to however we are experiencing a transformation in values and aesthetics, the way we relate with others and the way we express our desires.

Venus in its current solar phase is as far away from the earth as it gets within its cycle as well as moving at its fastest speed, symbolizing increased capacity to let go of old personal fixations. As the Full Moon forms, Venus has been set ablaze by the radiant Leo Sun like a summer bonfire we can release old relational patterns into. As Venus begins to recover from being burned up by the Sun, we can likewise shed old issues that have been weighing us down or restraining our ability to seek or receive pleasure. In the next month, we can realign our external expression with our inner authenticity, deepening inner awareness of the fertile potential we possess to creatively actualize in the world around us.  Ultimately, Venus will be guiding us to manifest whatever we desire to create from within.

The superior conjunction of Venus on August 14 was the first solar reseeding for Venus since 26 October 2018 when Venus was retrograde in the deep waters of Scorpio. It may be time to bury and put to rest some desires and issues that arose in the past ten months, while fertilizing those we wish to cultivate going forward. As Venus forms its superior conjunction in the same sign every eight years as part of its synodic cycle, forming a five pointed star pattern, it may be helpful to consider the strange resonances that can be found between now and past superior conjunctions for Venus in Leo. There were previously superior conjunctions of Venus in Leo in August 2011, August 2003, and August 1995.

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William Blake from The Song of Los

The Aquarius Full Moon is also applying to an opposition with Mars in Leo, as Mars is about six degrees ahead of the union of Venus with the Sun as the Moon forms its exact opposition with the Sun. In contrast to Venus already having been revived by the Leo Sun, Mars is at the end of its cycle and experiencing the final release and purification from its cycle with the Sun which began at 4º12′ Leo on 25 July 2017. Similar to Venus, Mars is also in its underworld phase and giving us the opportunity to melt down old martial patterns and reforge our relationship with Mars to be more resonant with our developing desires and presence. The opposition from the Aquarius Full Moon can help cool down any excessive heat or emotional overwhelm in order to find creative solutions or necessary redirection of energy. Mars will be reborn in the heart of the Sun on September 2, a few days after the upcoming New Moon in Virgo.

During the waning half of the current lunar cycle, Venus will chase after Mars and form a conjunction with the fiery red planet on August 24 at five degrees of Virgo, beginning a new cycle between the planets that signify our most intimate desires. As Venus and Mars are at the very end of their cycle at the time of the Full Moon, their cycle serves as yet another symbol of the Full Moon in Aquarius initiating us into a process of rediscovering what we want in our relationships as well as how we wish to creatively express ourselves. With Venus and Mars coming together in the secrecy of darkness during their underworld phases, we will be called to engage in embodiment rather than intellectual analysis of the changes taking shape through their union. Moreover, since the coming conjunction of Mars and Venus in Virgo will also be applying toward a flowing trine aspect with Uranus in Taurus, getting in touch with bodily senses can help uncover desires untethered to societal conditioning. The close proximity of Venus and Mars to the Sun will bring a purgative, cathartic intensity to their union that will bring awareness to any underlying motivations we have been acting from that are no longer in our best interest.

William Blake Songs of Experience

William Blake from Songs of Experience

A few days before the Aquarius Full Moon on August 11, Mercury entered Leo while Jupiter stationed direct in Sagittarius and Uranus stationed retrograde in Taurus. During the Aquarius Full Moon, Mercury in Leo will be applying closely to a catalytic square aspect with Uranus in Taurus that it will complete the following day on August 16.  When Mercury stationed retrograde on July 7 in Leo, it was within a few degrees of an exact square with Uranus. As a result, as Mercury finally completes its square with Uranus during the Aquarius Full Moon we may receive sudden revelations that change our perspective regarding stories that have been developing since the beginning of July. We may receives flashes of intuition, instant knowing, and rapid insights that bring far ranging vision to mind.

After Mercury completes its square aspect with Uranus, it will begin applying toward a flowing trine aspect with Jupiter in Sagittarius that it will complete on August 21 while the waning Moon in Taurus is applying toward a conjunction with Uranus. During the week following the Full Moon, Mercury will be glimmering in pre-dawn skies, heralding the rising Sun while it transmits the uplifting and inspiring shift of Jupiter in Sagittarius moving forward in direct motion again. Mercury in Leo is in position to activate goals and animate creative impulses into manifested results. Thus, the Full Moon occurring in the intellectual and community-oriented sign of Aquarius can help with discerning how to find a resonant role in the greater collective as well as conceiving how to develop burgeoning ideas into structures and vehicle through which we will be able to fulfill the needs and interests of others.

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7 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Aquarius 3 Decan

The Full Moon will rise in the third face of Aquarius associated with the Seven of Swords card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Knot” to the third face of Aquarius, using the symbol of a knot to explore the karmic binds that keep us stuck in the known and familiar rather than liberating ourselves to enter the unknown. Coppock described the stealthy figure in the image of the Seven of Swords card as having already undergone a process of not only deciding to leave a frustrating situation but also having already contemplated what is worth saving. There is a risk of exile and the uncertainty of no longer having the stability of the structures being left behind, but the figure has determinedly chosen the unknown over the known.

The Moon is the ruler of the third face of Aquarius, giving the Full Moon greater strength than it would otherwise have in Aquarius. As the Sun is securely comfortable and powerful in its fiery home of Leo, as it is simultaneously bathing Venus and Mars in its blazing radiance, the Moon in its own face of Aquarius can help us gather strength and inner resolve to experiment and take creative risks. By listening to the Aquarian guidance of doing things differently and looking at things with a different perspective, we will more naturally find the resources we need to support the new direction taking shape in our mind. The Full Moon in Aquarius can help us cultivate a healthy dose of detachment from the all-consuming subjectivity of the abundant astrological fire, just the space necessary to gain the widening of perception needed to discover solutions and forge supportive connections with others.

Since both Venus and Mars are in underworld phases during the Full Moon, it is interesting that the Hellenistic text the 36 Airs ascribed Osiris, lord of the dead and the otherworld, to the third face of Aquarius. The presence of Osiris with the Aquarius Full Moon brings themes of fertility and regeneration to the forefront. As both Venus and Mars are undergoing processes of death and rebirth, Osiris calls us to find resources and enrichment within the depths of our unconscious so that we will be able to nurture our own metamorphosis rather than needing to seek the kind of external validation that could condition the change underway. Osiris possesses a sacred quality of surrender to the process of regeneration, surrendering to all of the suffering that must be endured in order to fully nurture and realize our creative potential. As the Aquarius Moon glows bright in the darkness of night, may its luminosity remind you of the inner light you possess in your heart that remains ever ready to guide you forward.

References

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

Warnock, Chris. (2019). Fixed Star, Sign & Constellation Magic. Renaissance Astrology.

Aquarian mythos on the Hermetic Astrology Podcast

 

Hapi

Hapi, Egyptian deity of the inundation of the Nile

Myths of the Aquarius Constellation

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

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

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

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Ganymede Waters Zeus as an Eagle by Bertel Thorvaldsen

 

Aquarius New Moon & Mercury

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from the Clavis Artis

New Moon in Aquarius

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Michael Maier, Emblem 12 from Atalanta Fugiens

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche

meret-oppenheim-stone-woman-steinfrau-1938

Meret Oppenheim Stone Woman

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

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

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

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6 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Aquarius 2 Decan

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

Solar Eclipse in Aquarius

siren water bearer

from Alcuni monumenti del Museo Carafa (1778)

Solar Eclipse in Aquarius

The Partial Solar Eclipse in Aquarius on February 15 is not cloaked in total blackness such as the Total Solar Eclipse in Leo that occurred last August 21, yet still opens us to the mysterious matrix of eclipses that bring significant shifts in circumstances and perception.  Aquarius is the constellation of the Water Pourer, and even within the use of the tropical zodiac we still associate Aquarian meaning with the one who carries the enlivening celestial waters to nourish collective lives and ideals. The diurnal home of Saturn, it is a place of work yoked to transcendent vision and creates the contemplative space needed to break free of cultural conditioning at odds with essential values.

Astrology has an ancient tradition of associating our Sun with the celestial source of soul and our Moon with the worldly reception of soul in our human forms.  At a solar eclipse, we can infer that our sense of soul purpose and creative actualization we associate with our Sun is being eclipsed by the mysterious darkness found deep within our body and psyche, a darkness full of rich fertility that brings forth new life.  New forms move through our life with eclipses while old forms pass away, while what was previously hidden for whatever reason emerges with stark clarity.  Since Aquarius is a fixed sign, a lot of the changes happening in correspondence with the eclipse will be slower to develop yet long lasting.  Since Aquarius is an air sign as well as the location of the transiting South Node of the Moon, we can expect shifts in old mental patterns and complexes, with new ideas percolating and ready to fill freshly created space.

The Aquarius Solar Eclipse is taking place near Mercury and the asteroid Juno, signifying that our mental framework of relational patterns is primed for release of aspects that have been keeping us stuck.  Mercury in particular is a vital component of the eclipse, as it will enter the heart of the Sun and perfect its Superior Conjunction within a couple of days of the eclipse.  This means Mercury is being purified and in a rebirth process within the eclipse, facilitating the letting go of mental debris to clear space for the influx of dynamic new ideas.  With Juno also present near the eclipse, we can gain new insight into our current relationships through shedding the skin of old relational wounds, peeling away perceptions keeping us blocked from meeting the actual needs of relationships in the moment.  Eclipses tend to bring in new relationships while some of our older relationships begin to fade away, but with Juno also present with the eclipse it is worth paying attention to relationship dynamics more than usual and discerning which newly emerging relationships are worth focusing on going forward.

Manjuvajra Mandala

Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Transcendent Wisdom (11th Century; Bangladesh or India; black stone)

Saturn is the traditional ruler of the eclipse, situated in the twelfth place from the syzygy.  Though not in aspect to the eclipse, Saturn does find its joy in the twelfth place due to its more isolated and hidden conditions creating fertile ground for rich contemplation.  Uranus is considered by many to be the modern ruler of Aquarius, and Uranus is engaged with the eclipse through a harmonious sextile.  The Solar Eclipse as well as Mercury in Aquarius interacting with Uranus through a sextile amplifies the potential of the eclipse to facilitate a liberation from old mental wounds and negative thought cycles that have kept us in a loop of limitation in one way or another.  Uranus is moving direct through its final passage in Aries before entering Taurus later in May this year, and so there is a dynamic Uranian wave to catch at the eclipse and ride with the full force of the sign of the Ram.  At the previous Solar Eclipse in Leo last August, Uranus was also involved in a harmonious aspect, and during the last Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius, Uranus was also involved in a harmonious aspect with Mercury.  If you have been working toward greater Uranian emancipation over the course of the past six months, pay attention to openings emerging with the eclipse that can make the desired changes enduring.

It will be helpful to consider all of the changes in your life that have been taking place over the past year of eclipses occurring in Leo and Aquarius, since the Aquarius Solar Eclipse is roughly in the middle of their trajectory.  There was a Full Moon in Aquarius on 16 August 2016 that some labeled an eclipse (but it had absolutely no visibility), but the sequence of Leo and Aquarius eclipses did not fully kick in until the Leo Lunar Eclipse that arose on 10 February 2017.  The most potent of the eclipses was the Total Solar Eclipse in Leo that happened 21 August 2017, and since the current one is at the polarity of that eclipse, its possible to now gain clarity regarding the changes in life direction and relationships that have corresponded with these eclipses.  It’s always important to focus on the houses of your natal chart as well as aspects with Leo and Aquarius to fine tune your analysis, but simply reflecting upon the overall narrative will bring insight that can help you acclimate to the new shifts arriving with the current eclipse.

hand with images

from the Alcuni monumenti del Museo Carrafa (1778)

The partial solar eclipse in Aquarius is in a saros series that began with an eclipse in 1729 that featured Mercury conjoining the South Node of the Moon. While Mercury has separated eleven degrees from the South Node of the Moon in the present eclipse, Mercury is closely conjoining the eclipse itself on the side of the South Node of the Moon, echoing the eclipse at its origins.  Bernadette Brady in Predictive Astrology: The Eagle and the Lark wrote “this family of eclipses is concerned with ideas and their enthusiastic expression,” leading to an onrush of ideas that may flood one’s system, “but if you can go with the new ideas, they will have positive outcomes.”

Mercury is separating from a sextile with Uranus and applying toward a conjunction with the eclipsed Aquarius Sun.  Mercury has also separated from a square with Jupiter in Scorpio, adding to overarching influence the Star of Zeus in the sign of the Scorpion exerts over the eclipse.   With the South Node of the Moon in Aquarius, we are experiencing a purification of our ideals, with the Jupiter and Mercury tension pulling us into the core of difficult questions regarding the current state of the multiplicity of civilizations around the planet.  Though Jupiter has now separated from its previous opposition with Uranus, we are still in the wake of the catalytic tidal wave instigated by Jupiter and Uranus reaching the peak of their cycle in 2016.  The influence of Uranus and Mercury within the eclipse facilitates opening minds to answers that reframe circumstances and allow a bigger vision to help discern smaller choices made in the present.

Fantasy novelist Ursula Le Guin passed away earlier this year about nine days before the recent Lunar Eclipse in Leo, revivifying the memory of her work that was able to create entire worlds unto themselves, often centered around idealistic perspectives such as feminism.  After receiving the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2014 she spoke the following words:

I think hard times are coming, when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom: poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality. …

We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.

– Ursula Le Guin

Gary Caton’s recently published book Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year does a marvelous job of illuminating the elemental meaning of the six pointed star Mercury forms each year within its synodic cycle.  In the present year we have Mercury forming retrograde unions with the Sun in the Fire triangle, while forming direct unions with the Sun (like we are experiencing now) in Air signs.  Caton wrote that since Air and Fire share the characteristic of heat, yet differ in that Fire is dry and Air is moist, it means that the Aquarius lesson of moistness “means curbing your tendency to go it alone, and joining with like-minded allies before adventuring.”  Be alert for opportunities to join with like minded souls in coming weeks and months; after the eclipse Mercury will begin shifting into becoming a visible evening star again and will be moving direct until stationing retrograde in Aries on March 22 following the equinox.

The sabian symbol of the eclipse reflects the symbolism of releasing Aquarian air to fuel the fire of the Leo north node: “A tree felled and sawed to ensure a supply of wood for the winter.” Dane Rudhyar wrote the keynote of this symbol involves “knowledge and skill used in its natural surroundings for the satisfaction of vital basic needs,” based upon “intelligent foresight.”  Rudhyar beautifully concluded that “in meeting the hardships inherent in an existence close to nature, strength, efficiency and intelligence are needed, but they are incorporated in a life in which every act can be part of a harmonic and beautiful ritual permeated with deep significance.”  Moreover, the sabian symbol for the degree of Mercury’s superior conjunction with the Sun that will occur on February 17 is a “butterfly emerging from chrysalis,” again reinforcing the themes release and rebirth.  As we let go of the past and what has been holding us back, a new presence may emerge deeply sensitized to both the resources and needs of the surrounding environment.

black iris

Black Iris (1926) by Georgia O’Keeffe

Venus in Pisces is closely applying to an integrative sextile with Saturn in Capricorn, the ruler of the eclipse, heading toward union with Neptune.  At the same time, Mars in Sagittarius is applying to a superior square with Neptune in Pisces and as the Moon waxes full in the forthcoming lunar cycle, Venus will form a waxing square with Mars.  Additionally, as Venus moves across a union with Neptune in the forthcoming lunar cycle toward a square with Mars, Venus will also be forming a harmonious trine with Jupiter in Scorpio.  Venus in Pisces is playing a mediating role within the eclipse and portends positive potential growth within relationships.  The influence of Neptune brings some fogginess of illusion to cut through, as well as over zealous martial crusaders to contend with. Yet the coming union of Venus and Neptune is also the sort of dreamy transit to allow yourself to indulge in, luxuriating in whatever you find pleasing and soothing.

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7 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Aquarius 3 Decan

The Solar Eclipse in Aquarius rises in the third face of Aquarius associated with the Seven of Swords card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  Similar to the union of Mercury with the solar eclipse, we can see a bit of Hermes in the image’s thief stealthily removing five swords from the scene, leaving two firmly planted in the ground.  The five swords bears numerical resemblance to the Five of Swords card associated with the first decan of Aquarius, a face that Austin Coppock ascribed the image of “The Mark of Exile” to in his book 36 Faces on the decans.  Coppock ascribed the image of “The Knot” to the third face of Aquarius aligned with the 7 of Swords card, noting that the figure of the thief in the image has already undergone a process of what to leave behind in the place of the known as he embarks with what he has selected to take with him on his journey into the unknown.  Coppock astutely used the symbol of the knot to explore the karmic binds that often keep us bound in the place of the known and familiar, rather than liberating ourselves from frustrating situations in order to enter the unknown and risking exile in the process.

Venus rules the third decan of Aquarius within the triplicity rulership scheme, while the Moon rules the third decan of Aquarius within the descending rulership scheme.  Since the Moon rules this face and the Moon in Aquarius is eclipsing the Sun, the Moon is at an advantage with regards to essential dignity as it darkens our view of the Sun.  The Moon will additionally occult Mercury in Aquarius hours before the eclipse forms.  While the hectic pace of daily life and its gravity of responsibilities may make it difficult to create space for reflective solace at the exact moment of the eclipse, make the effort to create room for contemplation when the moment allows.  Allow your mind to open to the possibilities of the vast unknown of the future, and as you gain intimations for who you can become find places, even within the most mundane of choices, to begin realizing more of your envisioned potential in the present.

References

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

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

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

Rudhyar, Dane. (1973). An Astrological Mandala. Random House.

 

Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius

 

disks-bearing-spirals-1923

Disks Bearing Spirals (1923) by Marcel Duchamp

Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius

The mares that carry me as far as longing can reach rode on, once they had come and fetched me onto the legendary road of the divinity that carries the man who knows through the vast and dark unknown . . . And the axle in the hubs let out the sound of a pipe blazing from the pressure of the two well-rounded wheels at either side . . .

There are the gates on the pathways of Night and Day, held fast in place between the lintel above and a threshold of stone.  They reach right up into the heavens, filled with gigantic doors.  And the keys- that now open, now lock – are held fast by Justice:  she who always demands exact returns .  . .

— Interpretation of Parmenides poem by Peter Kingsley from Reality 

Every six months or so when we enter eclipse season, the wheels of destiny seem to spin with greater ferocity as the fierceness of fate reveals itself.  The particular sequence of eclipses we are entering now have amplified volatility due to the presence of Mars in each: we first experience a Lunar Eclipse with Mars opposite the Moon, and then flow into a Total Solar Eclipse in which Mars will unite with the North Node of the Moon in close proximity to the eclipse.  Furthermore, in between eclipses we will enter an especially turbulent Mercury retrograde phase that will eventually end with Mercury turning direct again while united with Mars at the same degree as the Solar Eclipse (28-29º of Leo).  Though the partial Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius on August 7 will not produce the sort of blood red shadow on the face of the Moon that would occur with a more powerful alignment of the lunation with the nodes, it is nonetheless an otherworldly portal into the mysterious quality of time we experience in between eclipses, especially when the solar eclipse on the horizon will create total darkness during its brief transit.

Saturn rules the lunar eclipse in Sagittarius and is conjoining Black Moon Lilith, while also forming a sextile with Jupiter in Libra and the South Node of the Moon in Aquarius, as well as a trine with Uranus in Aries, the North Node of the Moon in Leo, and the Sun in Leo.  Lilith in cultural myth is the outsider who has become exiled due to her insistence on sovereignty of her own self expression, and the astrological point of Black Moon Lilith also corresponds to what we have been keeping exiled from our conscious awareness about ourselves.  Black Moon Lilith is a balancing point to the wide ranging motion of the Moon that signifies the vast range of our perceptions, as the calculated point of Black Moon Lilith balances the Moon’s closest approach to earth with its farthest point in orbit.   Since the Moon being closest to us in orbit could be said to have the greatest conscious impact, while farthest it could be said to be farthest from conscious awareness.  Black Moon Lilith is an unconscious balancing point connecting our ego consciousness (Moon) into what has been cast off or kept out in the subconscious.

As we are now getting closer to the end of Saturn’s final retrograde phase in Sagittarius, the Aquarius Lunar Eclipse calls us to reclaim the cast off parts of ourselves it is now vital to embody with responsibility and integrity.  There can be a human tendency to avoid speaking out when afraid of becoming exiled from a group or made into an outsider, and yet the Aquarius Lunar Eclipse pulls us into the shadow of the outsider and who or what has been cast out of mainstream cultural privileges.   There is potential available to utilize whatever cultural privileges you possess to take action on behalf of those lacking privileges or caught within cycles of oppression.  Open your ears at the Aquarius Lunar Eclipse and listen to the voices your conscious awareness does not usually acknowledge.  Within the shadow of the eclipse there can be a dismantling of groups formed around taking action based upon humanitarian ideals, yet through the shifting more powerful reconfigurations may manifest more deeply rooted in core principles of liberation.

ClavisArtis.ouroboros

from the Clavis Artis

Eclipses can feel like an uncontrollable tidal force taking us into an unknown we do not always feel ready for.  In combination with their unworldly visual element of shadow when seen, people have feared eclipses for ages, in ancient times portraying them as a great dragon of chaos and creation consuming our Sun and Moon.  Since dragons are symbols of instinct and chaotic destruction that bring together the spiritually elevated with the chthonic, the symbolism of eclipses also involve ultimately discovering greater wholeness through the dissolution they bring about.  When stepping into the streams of eclipse season its best to remember the old fragmentary wisdom of Heraclitus:  unless you expect the unexpected, you will not find it, for it is hidden and pathless.

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 (the tail of the dragon), whereas the North Node of the Moon marks the ascending arc of the Moon across the ecliptic and symbolizes an arising point of conscious desire for intake and manifestation in our material realm (the head of the dragon).  Thus 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.

In contrast to a solar eclipse in which the Sun is overwhelmed by the shadow of the Moon, symbolically the meaning of a Lunar Eclipse is rooted in the phenomenon of our Sun casting the shadow of our Earth onto the face of our Moon. Linking the Moon to what we carry from the past within our body and mind, the past transmutes in the shadowy face of the Moon to allow for new emergence and presence.  Dane Rudhyar in The Astrology of Transformation wrote that at a lunar eclipse “the traditional perspective born of past experiences of adjusting to life and society is blotted out by an eagerness to meet experience in a new, original manner.” As the Moon is conjunct the South Node of the Moon in Aquarius, and the Sun is conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Leo, the past activation of how we have been modifying our self expression to fit into group and societal norms as well as our own ideals could become overshadowed by ambitious desires for new growth and creative expression.

Vitally, Mars is beginning to pull itself out of the symbolic solar underworld at the Aquarius Lunar Eclipse on the side of the Leo Sun and the North Node of the Moon, having gained about four degrees of separation from the Sun at the very beginning of its current synodic cycle.  The Sun and Mars aligned in Leo with the North Node of the Moon brings more emphasis to creative actualization and pursuing desires that make one feel viscerally alive, rather than restraining oneself due to guilt, shame, or other forms of repression.  In the collective this can be both empowering as well as dangerous, as there will be fierce martial conflicts raging forth from the lunar shadow.  On personal levels keep in mind that Mars is still so close to the Sun that it remains more difficult to get a clear sense of the new desires Mars is inciting, resulting in feelings that are more instinctual than rational.  Do your best to avoid getting hard on yourself for not achieving your visions of success at this time, as the new form of Mars has not yet taken full shape.

Kusama mirrors

Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity by Yayoi Kusama from Infinity Mirrors exhibit

One of the most import aspects within the Aquarius Lunar Eclipse is an opposition between Mercury in Virgo and Neptune in Pisces.  This is an epic opposition, as both planets are extremely strong in each of their current locations:  Virgo is both the home and exaltation of Mercury, and in modern astrology Neptune has become associated with a  rulership of Pisces.  However, this happens to be one of those oppositions that does not actually perfect for over a month, in this case not until the time of the Libra Equinox.  This is due to the fact that Mercury is preparing to station retrograde in Virgo, stationing exactly in less than a week.  As a result there will be some important insights and realizations we begin to gain through the opposition of Mercury and Neptune in the coming weeks that we will not fully understand until about a month and a half from now when they finally come back together and complete their exact opposition.

Many astrologers do not like the opposition between Mercury and Neptune because the presence of Neptune can make it more difficult for Mercury to execute its choices and actions with exactitude and detailed clarity.  Yet there is a true gift found in this opposition that can open our awareness to elements of reality that have previously been cloaked in invisibility in one form or another.  It can also be possible to open perception to a deeper connection with Spirit through the opposition between Mercury and Neptune, as well as create sublimely beautiful and surreal works of art.  Mercury is adept at weaving and mending the disparate together into beautiful  new patterns and tapestries, however, and so it will be important to bear in mind that perceptual mending will be required in the next couple of weeks.

fullsizeoutput_743

Takpekpe (Conference) by El Anatsui (2006)

Uranus, the planet many modern astrologers would say is ruling the Aquarius Lunar Eclipse, looms large over the lunation no matter what your astrological view upon rulership is.  This is due to the fact that Uranus stationed retrograde four days before the eclipse, and planets that have recently stationed always bring more power to the cycle at play.  Oftentimes Uranus stationing can bring an unexpected shock or an upsetting event, yet the catharsis of released emotion and thought can break us free from a past repetitive pattern we realize was underlying the troubling issue.  This is even more the case than normal at the Aquarius Lunar Eclipse due to Jupiter in Libra recently completing its final last quarter square with Pluto in Capricorn.  The square between Jupiter and Pluto dredged up deep material needing to be processed and resolved that can now become integrated into the developing relationships and structures we are focused upon.  Now that Jupiter has begun to separate from its square with Pluto, it is beginning to finally approach its sextile with Saturn in Sagittarius that will help us stabilize all of the chaotic discharges of August.

One of the blessings of the Aquarius Lunar Eclipse is the conjunction between Venus and Ceres in Cancer, an aspect that supports the tender love and care needed to nurture the wounds of the psyche and body that could manifest within the astrological volatility of coming weeks.  After Venus and Ceres form their union in Cancer they will next form an opposition with Pluto and a square with Jupiter.  By the time of the Total Leo Solar Eclipse on August 21, Venus will be applying to a square with Uranus and Ceres will be opposite Pluto.  It will be more important than ever to open hearts in love and deeper intimacy that truly nurtures what others need and what we need within, rather than what we have been led to believe is needed through various forms of cultural conditioning.

swords06

6 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Aquarius 2 Decan

The Lunar Eclipse falls in the second face of Aquarius associated with the Six of Swords card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  The Swords in the image are anchored, suggesting firm resolve and grounding, yet staked into a boat journeying through watery, liminal space. There is a vision behind the image, a bold determination to follow foresight into foreign territory, with the ferryman in a role of guidance not unlike the psychopomp Mercury.  The destination on the far shore is not capable of being reached by the passengers without the utility of the boat and the labor of the ferryman, and so there is a letting go in needing to be along for the ride.

The second face of Aquarius is ruled by Mercury, seen in the image of the Six of Swords as the ferryman creating a network between shores.  Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “Heaven and Earth” to this face, writing that it connects multiple territories with a sense of “principled but fierce wisdom” and “independence, of living and becoming according to one’s principles.”  Coppock connected Mercury ruling this face to the need to “connect worlds without becoming beholden to them,” allowing for “the connection of the orthodox and the unorthodox, the known and the unknown.”  Coppock artfully concluded, “The steady commerce between heaven and earth is maintained by a figure standing between them, mediating” (p. 233-4).

The fact that Mercury rules the second face of Aquarius where the shadowy lunation occurs brings to mind again the significance of Mercury stationing retrograde in Virgo in between eclipses while forming an opposition with Neptune in Pisces.  Mercury will be stepping into its role as our guide of soul once again, activating it’s Hermetic gift of integrating the dualities of upper world and under world, light and dark, masculine and feminine, and what other dualities you can imagine.  Mercury can help us organize concepts that facilitate navigation while at the same time functioning as a more magical, nonlinear guide to the deepest core of our soul.  We are entering an otherworldly time of eclipses where it will difficult to predict exactly what will happen other than stating that the changes on the way will bring the potential to unlock and activate greater depth from within into our external collective.

References

 

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

Kingsley, Peter. (2013). Reality. The Golden Sufi Center.

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

Aquarius New Moon

Crow Screen, Asian Art Museum

Japanese crow screen on display at Seattle Asian Art Museum

New Moon in Aquarius

It feels natural for children to build tree houses of secluded protection, build contained castles out of bedding, or discover a place of protected privacy away from external influences.  In between boundaries and borders of form a self contained light stirs and seeds illumination, guiding from within rather than from the expectations of others.  For many people time alone or with few intimates can feel so fruitful with freedom and insight it leads to an embrace of alienation from the collective consensus.  Yet an isolated hermit is capable of bearing waters of key messages and resources for those in need to receive, and so the dance of duality calls for a return to publicly share the meaning found on divergent paths.  The Aquarius New Moon this week supports finding balance between nurturing seclusion and braving the discord of disseminating meaning within consensus power structures to effect change and aid those struggling to find support.

The New Moon in Aquarius on 27 January 2017 launches us into a catalytic month of eclipses, for the Full Moon that follows is a Lunar Eclipse in Leo which then releases into a Solar Eclipse in Pisces at the end of February.  All planets are direct and absorbed in costume and character, ready for the curtain to open on the unprecedented drama that will defy preconceived notions.  Fear may arise with recognition that anything can happen for good or ill, yet a grace of constant perseverance may be embraced that is wide awake to possibilities with careful attention to the small and necessary tasks of the present.  There is an activating gale in the blackness of the Aquarius Moon to harness into determined work and innovative collaboration.

Aquarius is the outwardly directed home of Saturn, a nesting for the New Moon which provides nourishing protection to guard against the toxicity of collective conditioning in order to center vision on radical intention.  From roots that tap into streams of past philosophies and arts, the outward branching of being in Aquarius discovers the future in synthesizing old strands of story and science with current influences and evidence.  Aquarius possesses the fortitude to be alone if necessary to be authentic, as well as the facility with networking to weave strong connections between reciprocal resonance across gulfs of time and space.  To make the most of Aquarius we need to embody our values and principles that do not align with the expectations of cultural conditioning, opening our heart to radiate full presence rather than detaching with disassociation. The Aquarius New Moon is opportune for prioritizing goals based upon intrinsic value rather than accord with societal norms.

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Giorgio de Chirico (1913) The Anxious Journey

Saturn in Sagittarius rules the Aquarius New Moon with its closest aspect being a separating square with Venus in Pisces and Chiron, linking now with 15 April 2017 when Venus will station direct following its retrograde in square to Saturn and in conjunction with Chiron.  Venus with Chiron in hard aspect to Saturn can open old wounds for catharsis as well as bring acute awareness to whether or not heartfelt desires are supported by structural foundations in our life.   The tension between Venus, Chiron, and Saturn can be transmuted into empowering exchanges with others or from one’s inner creative matrix.  This is not a temporary transit of passing influence, however, as its link to the upcoming Venus retrograde means that current events and issues will have a storyline that arcs into vital developments in mid April.   Because of the link between the New Moon, the upcoming eclipses, and the subsequent Venus retrograde, our current trajectory has events of immense magnitude on the horizon we have no way to currently account for. However, whatever we are receiving from current experiences can be used to reformulate and modify plans and strategies for the future, with the hard stress between Sagittarius and Pisces meaning that clarifying whatever is being stirred up within our emotional body can be used to realign intentions and goals to make more of an effective impact.

As the Moon waxes through its new moon phase in Aquarius, it will form harmonious aspects with Uranus, Jupiter, and Saturn, providing support for objectifying thoughts and feelings rooted in practicality and a stark assessment of bare bones reality.  We can discern a path forward with a vision bound to immersion in the details of the present moment, keeping awareness attuned with both subtle and seismic shifts in our surroundings.  There is also extraordinary power within these aspects for collaboration with others of shared passion, and a rapid expansion of development within collective movements united by a shared cause can ensue. Those engaged in creative arts and sciences initiating or developing a project have support for experimenting with expansive and inventive work that can become more solidified in April when Venus stations direct in alignment with Chiron and Saturn.  The current astrological movement can facilitate ingenious breakthroughs that will only come once we are actively engaged in the process of work.

The sextile between Saturn and Jupiter in Libra as well as the trine between Saturn and Uranus in Aries signifies greater support for groundbreaking risks than normal for both individuals as well as consolidated power structures.  Those seeking to control civilization (Jupiter in Libra) always want the liberty (Uranus in Aries) to take what they want for their own benefit through conditioning the public with belief systems that justify (Saturn in Sagittarius) acts of oppression and coercion.  The recent eruptions of large scale social protests can become further enflamed and expanded within these astrological aspects, leading into inevitable clashes and confrontations with opposing forces equally intent on achieving objectives.  Within the clamoring of conflict, the Aquarius New Moon contains support for purifying thoughts and feelings from how collective influences have attempted to manipulate minds with fake news and alternative facts.  There is potent yang, outwardly directed force within the Aquarius New Moon for direct action, and so it is well worth the time to become as clear as possible about intentions and where to prioritize investment of energy.

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Landscape with a Rainbow (1881) by Alexei Savrasov

Mercury in Capricorn has returned to unite with Pluto at the Aquarius New Moon, reaching the same degree of Capricorn it previously stationed retrograde on 19 December 2016.  As a result the storylines stemming from the Mercury retrograde in Capricorn and mid December 2016 are now able to be more clearly understood, with events during the week leading into the New Moon sparking distillation of meaning. As the Moon waxes into the crescent bow of Artemis, Mercury will separate from Pluto and apply to a square with Uranus in Aries and Jupiter in Libra.  Mercury will be sparking surprising change and revelation, unveiling what was previously hidden, and catalyzing effort from sharpened perception.  There will be massive conflicts and confrontations erupting in correspondence with these aspects and so careful awareness will be needed to discern how to most effectively participate and move with the flow of current.

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Emblem for Cum severitate lenites (Even in harshness there is mercy) by Henry Peacham (ca. 1610)

A cathartic drench is gathering in the air to finally release at the end of February in a Pisces Solar Eclipse united with the South Node of the Moon and Neptune.   The atmosphere of the Aquarius New Moon is saturated by premonition of the eclipses forthcoming in the month ahead, yet it is the celebrated calm before the storm offering a time to become grounded about goals and a plan for manifestation.  Mars is at the final degree of Pisces at the time of the Aquarius New Moon, empowered by the fact that both the final decan of Pisces as well as the first decan of Aries it is at the cusp of entering are both ruled by Mars.  Both Mars and Venus are Evening Stars, and their balsamic conjunction can be seen brightening the night void of any moonlight.  With Mars and Venus remaining within a hard aspect to the scythe of Saturn at the New Moon, we can gain sense for old relationship patterns we have been living from that no longer are working for us.  Adjustments to how we have been giving and receiving in relationship can be made, new attractions followed and initiated, but due to the upcoming Venus retrograde there is much more to be worked out in the close of the current cycle between Mars and Venus that will not be fully realized until October 2017 when Mars and Venus finally conjoin together in Virgo.

As the Moon waxes toward the Lunar Eclipse in Leo on February 10, Mars will enter its home sign of Aries  soon after the New Moon followed by Venus on February 3.  The shift of Mars and Venus from Pisces to Aries in the coming lunar cycle signifies a speeding up of experiences as well as an injection of amplified assertion to act from instinctual responses.  The influence of the impending eclipses activating the South Node of the Moon in Pisces bring release and purification as well as potential for profound disillusionment that can be quickly turned into angry reaction due to the movement of Mars and Venus into Aries.  The fire of Aries can be harnessed to fuel empowered responses to wherever we feel injustice and oppression are occurring, yet the Aquarius influence of the New Moon suggests discerning the choices for action that can best sustain impactful effort over the longterm rather than into eruptive outbursts that lead only to burn out.

5 of Swords

5 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Aquarius 1 Decan

The New Moon falls in the first face of Aquarius associated with the Five of Swords card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image of the Five of Swords we see a swordsman haughty with pride after becoming the master of his domain through clearing the field of rivals.   It is a strong individualistic image of resolute pride.  In the Thoth deck the Five of Swords card is called “Defeat” and features swords arranged in a downward pointing pentagram within frenetic, jagged lines.  Here the meaning of the Five of Swords links with negative thought patterns that keep us bound to old wounds or trapped in a self-defeating cycle.

In his book on the decans in astrology 36 Faces,  Austin Coppock ascribed the image of “The Mark of Exile” to the first face of Aquarius, describing it as a decan of purposefully living as an outsider in exile to conventional society.  Coppock linked the meaning of this face to the independence, liberation, and “wider and deeper understanding of reality” to be found through breaking free from the traditions of one’s time and accepting “the mark of the heretic” if necessary (p. 227). In this way, the image of the Five of Swords card above shows how many relationships become destroyed and sacrificed when one goes into exile away from the norms of society.  Yet at the same time, leaving consensus culture opens the potential that new relationships will arise in alignment with the developing liberated sense of Self, as well as enables creative actualization aligned with spirituality more so than material rewards.

The first face of Aquarius is ruled by Venus, bringing further significance to the separating square between Venus and Saturn at the time of the New Moon.  While Venus in her exaltation of Pisces has been lauded for her desire for union and harmony, in truth Venusian decisions to choose one over another can create strife and brings a weight of necessity to the eccentric yearnings of Venus.  The New Moon in Aquarius invites us to discover the wisdom of unorthodox perspectives, values, and relationships yet requires awareness for how our actions and choices can cause separation with others.  The gift of Aquarius is its capacity not only to foster knowledge of essential truth that goes against the dictates of dominant culture, but to transmit meaning with heartfelt creative expression that can warm and empower others.  As Rainer Maria Rilke, born with Moon, Saturn, and Mars in Aquarius, once wrote:

The practice of artistic seeing first had to overcome itself to the point where even in the midst of what is terrible and apparently repulsive, it beholds only being that is valid along with everything else that is.  Just as the artist may not choose what he wants to behold, he may not turn his gaze away from any form of existence.  A single instance of refusal exiles him from the state of grace, and he becomes utterly sinful.

This act of lying-down-with-the-leper and sharing all-of-one’s-warmth, including the heat of one’s own heart during a night of love:  all of this must have been part of the artist’s life as an act of overcoming to reach his [her] new state of beatitude.  Behind this kind of devotion holiness begins with small things first:  the simple life of a love that has persisted and that has joined itself to everything alone, inconspicuously, and wordlessly without taking any pride in it.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Ulrich Baer

References

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

Rilke, Rainer Maria. (2005). Letters on Life: New Prose Translations. Edited and translated by Ulrich Baer.

Mars in Aquarius

aquarius-glyph

Mars in Aquarius

“Just as all people have shadows, every society and nation, too, has shadows. If there are bright, shining aspects, there will definitely be a counterbalancing dark side.

“At times, we tend to avert our eyes from the shadow, those negative parts, or else, try to forcibly eliminate those aspects. No matter how high a wall we build to keep intruders out, no matter how strictly we exclude outsiders, no matter how much we rewrite history to suit us, we just end up damaging and hurting ourselves . . . You have to patiently learn to live together with your shadow and carefully observe the darkness that resides within you.”

— Haruki Murakami, novelist with Mars in Aquarius, in speech given after receiving the Hans Christian Andersen literature award

Born with Mars in Aquarius conjoining Mercury, author Haruki Murakami recently gave voice in an award ceremony to the dire need in these collective times to live with and explore one’s inner shadow.   Mars in Aquarius has an ability to gain objective clarity regarding inner desires perhaps more so than any other placement for the red planet, bringing greater awareness of our shadow, or whatever aspects of our psyche our persona has cast off from consciousness.  In evolutionary astrology, Jeff Green viewed the archetype of Aquarius as having the evolutionary intention of objectifying the nature of reality at any level one focuses upon through detaching from one’s subjective emotional reality. This doesn’t mean detached dissociation, but rather that Mars in Aquarius can penetrate into the nature and structure of any dynamic and gain understanding of how to catalyze necessary growth.  Here, growth is separated from consensus, mainstream, culturally conditioned influences, and is rather rooted in the ineffable realm of soul.

When we think of Mars in astrology, the consensus mindset does not picture Aquarius, and yet there is a singular quality of Mars we can value and learn from in the sign of the Water Bearer.  Aquarius is not known as a natural place for Mars through the essential dignity of traditional astrology, as Mars only has dignity in its Egyptian bounds between 20 and 25 degrees.  This gives Mars the feel of an outsider in Aquarius, and a unique environment for Mars to operate within that brings a martial force like nowhere else.  Mars in Aries and Scorpio are known as strong placements for Mars where the red planet can be its plain self, pure and simple.  Mars can also be fierce, hot, courageous, and protective in Aquarius, yet also has a strange mix of objectivity, humanitarianism, experimentation, and determination we do not quite find in any other sign.

Aquarius is hot and moist in temperament in traditional astrology, meaning it disperses outwardly and seeks cohesion, has flexibility and strong capabilities in mutating.  The fixed nature of Aquarius brings greater persistence and perseverance to Mars than it finds in the other Air signs, and so Mars may be slower to get going at the outset in Aquarius but can sustain itself over long periods of time and resiliently foster stability in the work it directs itself into.  Since Saturn is the traditional ruler of Aquarius, Mars in Aquarius is able to set itself apart from mainstream thought and mutate in accordance with thinking, writing, philosophy, the arts and sciences, and other expressions of consciousness with kindred spirits of soulfulness.

While Aquarius is the outwardly directed home of Saturn in traditional astrology, many forms of modern astrology consider Uranus to be its ruler. In evolutionary astrology, Jeff Green wrote that Mars in Aquarius “reflects an instinct to experiment with different ways of being,” desires “to create an essential courage in other people to break free from the status quo,” and unpredictably “desires progressive transformation leading to an ever-increasing realization and definition of its individuality.”  However, whether you use Saturn or Uranus as the ruler of Aquarius, in both systems Mars in Aquarius holds the desire of the Water Bearer to carry and share the enlivening water of consciousness that will nourish humanitarian impulses to cast off oppressive conditioning, opening desire to the alchemy bridging one’s heart and inner mind.

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Ganymede by Michelangelo

Eagles resonate with Mars in Aquarius in part because of their capacity to soar beyond barriers with focused and penetrating vision, matching the loyal, persistent, persevering, and stabilizing qualities Mars can discover in a Fixed Air sign.  Eagles like Mars in Aquarius also value interdependence in relationship, as the eagle’s nest is a home in which both partners pull equal weight while having the freedom to independently take action within committed bonds of relationship.  The eagle is also a crucial figure in the myth of Ganymede associated with Aquarius.  Ganymede to some sources is the Water Bearer of the sign of Aquarius, a beautiful young man with whom Zeus was so enamored that he swooped down in the form of an eagle in order to seize for his own. In contrast to the myth of Persephone in which Hades pulls the goddess into the underworld, in the myth of Ganymede the coveted youth is pulled upward with ascension into the heavens.

Zeus gives Ganymede the role of cup bearer, the one who serves the nectar that keeps the gods and goddesses immortal, until Hera’s complaints lead to Ganymede being placed in the stars as the constellation of Aquarius. Among other meanings, since ancient times this myth has been seen as representing the phenomenon of Spirit ascending from the body. Astrologer Jason Holley presented material on the Ganymede myth in relation to the polarity between Aquarius and Leo at the 2015 Northwest Astrological Conference (NORWAC). His talk “Aquarius/Leo – The Journey from Fragmentation to Wholeness” explored themes associated with the myth of Ganymedes such as the split between innocence and experience, the split between the ordinary and the extraordinary, and disruptions of psycho-spiritual development that can occur as a result.  In terms of bringing Aquarius into greater wholeness, Holley stressed the importance of activating the polarity of Leo to create a growth cycle of rupture and repair.

To Holley, the stable system of self brought into coherence by Leo becomes decentered by triggering material associated with Aquarius and Uranus that activates the nonlinear field of multiplicity and leads to either: (1) achieving the challenge of expressing and integrating the new insights into self, expanding our self-concept while we continue to embody our self-identity, or (2) a shattering or splitting off from our psyche parts of our self that we feel like our environment and culture are not receptive to us embodying and integrating fully into our self-concept. If we experience the second path of feeling so ruptured that we can not embody our new sense of consciousness, we can experience difficulty experiencing full connection with others. Along these lines we can feel great anger at the world for not accepting us, and engage in patterns of avoidance and escape. However, if we are instead able to integrate and embody how we feel different from the surrounding consensus, we can re-enter the world with an openness to possibility that leads to fulfilling experiences that expand beyond the norms of consensus reality.  The task for Mars in Aquarius is to integrate and embody its far-flung and extraordinary insights into its mundane, ordinary life and relationships with full presence.

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Aquarius by Johra Bosschart

“If there is a hard, high wall and an egg that breaks against it, no matter how right the wall or how wrong the egg, I will stand on the side of the egg. Why? Because each of us is an egg, a unique soul enclosed in a fragile egg. Each of us is confronting a high wall. The high wall is the system which forces us to do the things we would not ordinarily see fit to do as individuals.

“We have no hope against the wall: it’s too high, too dark, too cold. To fight the wall, we must join our souls together for warmth, strength. We must not let the system control us – create who we are. It is we who created the system.”

–Haruki Murakami, novelist with Mars in Aquarius

Haruki Murakami is as a perfect example of a writer with Mars in Aquarius who has created fictional worlds illuminating the complex undercurrents of individuals within the collective, drawing upon influences from writers of many diverse cultures.  In his personal life he has enjoyed marathon running befitting the fixed nature of Aquarius, and his creative output took time to development yet has been sustained at a deep level for a long period of time.  Murakami has described a crucial shift in his work from being “detached” to being “committed,” moving from early worked focused upon individual darkness to the darkness found in the collective society.

As I searched for other examples of celebrities with Mars in Aquarius in preparation for this article, time and time again I was struck by the unorthodox, powerful, martial force of each individual.  It is a mistake to take the fact Mars is an outsider in Aquarius with no essential dignity to mean that Mars here will struggle to manifest desire; in fact, it could be argued that the unique atmosphere of Aquarius brings out an important aspect of Mars we cannot find anywhere else.  For example, is it really that strange that the individual many associate most with the idea of a masculine genius, Leonardo da Vinci, was born with Mars in Aquarius?  In addition to the visionary da Vinci, the individual who forever altered our conception of our solar system, Nicolaus Copernicus, was also born with Mars in Aquarius.

In terms of creative output, one of the most ideal manifestations of Mars in Aquarius is the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who was also born with Saturn and the Moon in Aquarius.  Rilke resiliently worked hard on his writing over long periods of time, being willing to go into isolation in order to contain his lucid insights within word choice and rhythm that expands the consciousness of anyone who reads his work.  Rilke not only travelled extensively beyond his native land to find his muse, he drew upon diverse mythic and spiritual influences in order to weave a unique tapestry of meaning that continues to bring sustenance and comfort to individuals within modern culture.  Rilke also lived in a time before the internet, yet sustained numerous intense, intimate relationships through letter writing all around the world.  This speaks to the capacity of Mars in Aquarius to transmit eros across all barriers of time and space, tuning into the frequency and vibration of resonant souls at great distances.

There are numerous other consciousness expanding individuals born with Mars in Aquarius, such as George Gurdjieff and numerous groundbreaking psychologists able to objectify human nature such as James Hillman, Rollo May, Alfred Adler, and Carl Rogers.  James Hillman in particular is a strong example of the passion and heated intensity that Mars in Aquarius can bring to philosophical discourse and abstract conceptualization.  Individuals with Mars in Aquarius sense the underlying importance of the philosophical worldview one embodies and its impact upon humanity, the natural world, and our world soul, and are willing to fight about it intellectually.

Among current famous figures, one of the most striking examples of Mars in Aquarius is Michelle Obama, the current First Lady of the United States of America.  Michelle Obama has an energy that lights up a room with clear energetic bravado that also emits a friendliness that has made her an extremely popular figure.  Michelle Obama is also known to become passionate about social justice causes, and at key points has delivered speeches addressed at uplifting women, racial minorities, and others facing oppression in modern culture.  During the most recent presidential election her mantra of “they go low, we go high” that became so widely quoted is also fitting for the nature of Mars in Aquarius.

Hip Hop culture contains numerous famous figures with Mars in Aquarius that displays the distinct and unusual energy found in the signature:  Tupac Shakur, Missy Elliot, will.i.am, Jay-Z, and Snoop Dogg all have Mars in Aquarius.  One of Tupac Shakur’s most famous songs, “Keep Ya Head Up,” is a perfect Mars in Aquarius anthem that ingeniously deconstructs the misogyny and racism of culture through the purposely designed aesthetic of infectious pop music.  Shakur’s lyrics are absolutely brilliant and his delivery smooth, every single word penetrating further into the complex dynamics of cultural oppression and their impact on the individual:

Actors with Mars in Aquarius possess a masculinity difficult to describe and uniquely their own, such as Gary Oldman and Adrien Brody.  Cary Grant created an otherworldly acting persona that seemed as natural playing an Angel in The Bishop’s Wife as when he was playing human beings.   Other actors and actresses with Mars in Aquarius include Ian McKellen, Winona Ryder, Scarlet Johansen, Jane Fonda, Jamie Foxx, Emma Watson, Lauren Bacall, Christopher Walken, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Justin Theroux, and Mae West.  There is a clear erotic quality involved in all of these individuals that also involves an intelligent edge of sharpness.  Two former musical stars turned successful actors, Mark Wahlberg and Justin Timberlake, also project a masculine star power that is idiosyncratic and makes them continue to remain singular, compelling personalities within popular culture.

In sports, it is quite compelling that perhaps the greatest boxer of all time, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., was born with Mars in Aquarius as well as one of the greatest figure skaters Kristi Yamaguchi who also cooly destroyed all competition.  An interesting sport that contains numerous all-time greats with Mars in Aquarius is tennis, which combines the fitting attributes of stamina while attacking with abstract strategizing:  Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl, and Stefan Edberg all were born with Mars in Aquarius.

In the realm of film, directors with Mars in Aquarius fittingly have brought some of the most distinctly avant garde expression and experimentation to cinema:  Sofia Coppola, Francois Truffaut, Lars Von Trier,  Ridley Scott, Joel Coen, Luis Bunuel, David Cronenberg, and Ang Lee were all born with Mars in Aquarius.  In comedy, we again find a list of some of the most unorthodox talents such as John Cleese, Andy Kauffman, Chris Farley, Eddie Ezzard, and Eric Idle.  Writers with Mars in Aquarius include Harper Lee, Truman Capote, Kurt Vonnegut, Tennessee Williams, Victor Hugo, David Foster Wallace, Thomas Merton, and William Wordsworth.  There is also famous children’s television personality Fred Rogers, whose role as Mr. Rogers and once again, incredibly unique expression, nurtured the development of countless childhoods.

Two current figures that illuminate not only the visionary, future-oriented qualities of Mars in Aquarius but also its shadow of becoming overly fixated upon a philosophical worldview at all costs are Julian Assange and Elon Musk.  In both of these individuals we find the capacity of Mars in Aquarius to work at the leading edge of technology and push the envelope with driving force aimed with future-oriented vision.  Yet at the same time, both individuals possess a hubris that has led to public downfalls at times due to an unwillingness to make compromises or let go of their fixation upon their belief in what they are doing is serving a purpose for the greater good.

Astrologer Jeffrey Wolf Green has written that Mars in Aquarius “will gradually create an entire lifestyle reflective of its instinctual feeling of uniqueness,” and this same capacity held by natives with Mars in Aquarius may be seized by all of us when Mars transits through Aquarius.  Not only can we take steps to creatively actualize our inherently unique gifts while Mars is in Aquarius, we can also encourage others to express their distinctive inner qualities that defy societal norms and conventions.  Currently the transit of Mars in Aquarius is forming numerous harmonious aspects:  a trine to Jupiter in Libra, sextile to Mercury and Saturn in Sagittarius, and a sextile with Uranus in Aries.  There is no time like the present to not only express your essential gifts within the world but also to band together with others of shared passion in order to create positive shifts within systematic structures of our global collective.

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photograph by Beau Vandendolder (2016, all rights reserved)

References

Green, Jeff. (2009). Pluto Volume II. Wessex Astrologer.

Haruki Murakami cautions against excluding outsiders. The Guardian. 1 November 2016.

Murakami asks that people learn to live with their shadows. The Asahi Shimbun. 31 October 2016.

Mercury Retrograde in Saturn’s Home

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Illustration for The Raven by Gustave Dore

Hermes I call, whom Fate decrees to dwell in the dire path which leads to deepest hell

O Bacchic Hermes, progeny divine of Dionysius, parent of the vine,
And of celestial Aphrodite Paphian queen, dark eye-lash’d Goddess of a lovely mien:
Who constant wand’rest thro’ the sacred feats
where hell’s dread empress, Persephone, retreats;
To wretched souls the leader of the way when Fate decrees, to regions void of day:
Thine is the wand which causes sleep to fly, or lulls to slumb’rous rest the weary eye;
For Persephone’s thro’ Tart’rus dark and wide gave thee forever flowing souls to guide.
Come, blessed pow’r the sacrifice attend, and grant our mystic works a happy end.

— Hermes Chthonian from The Orphic Hymns

Mercury Retrograde

When Mercury shifts retrograde our angelic trickster slips into his role as psychopomp, the guide of souls who can journey into the underworld and back again. On a personal level this coincides with a turn within toward awareness not as readily available when Mercury is moving direct, a process that can birth new presence and shed old habits as Mercury reemerges on the other side (Mercury will station direct on January 25 and leave the retrograde shadow zone on February 17).  Mercury retrograde is not a time to fear but rather an opening to symbolic perception that can divine messages within the darkness of our dreams as well as in the signs that appear during our sunlit daily journeying.  The Mercury retrograde that begins on January 5, 2016 initiates at the first degree of Aquarius, but spends the majority of the time in the second half of Capricorn.  Aquarius and Capricorn are both the homes of Saturn, and so this Mercury retrograde will be deeply linked with the significations we associate with that old devil, Saturn.  The link to Saturn is further intensified by Mercury crossing the South Node of Saturn while retrograde,and then returning to conjoin the South Node of Saturn again once moving direct.

Modern astrology gives the rulership of Aquarius to Uranus, and one result of this is to associate Aquarius with future-oriented, liberated forms of thought.  Yet this same meaning can be found through Aquarius being the diurnal home of Saturn, a place where Saturn detaches from the conditioned thought forms of consensus culture to develop systems of thought that break free from the constraints of the status quo.  Mercury free from other influences stationing retrograde in Aquarius would support reception of a message beyond self-centered subjectivity, in an objective and clarified mind frame detached from passions and able to rationalize feelings.  Yet instead the stationing of Mercury is painted in bold, impassioned colors by Mars in Scorpio forming an exact square at the time Mercury stations retrograde.  As Mars in Scorpio heats the emotional climate of Mercury stationing retrograde, our feelings could override our ability to be objective or communicate with restraint.  The eruption of cathartic feelings at the dawn of this retrograde will be borne by Mercury into our underworld for deep processing and purification.

The movement of Mercury from Aquarius back into Capricorn is united by both signs being the home of Saturn.  Mercury in the territory of Saturn can readily focus on systems and structures in our life, including rumination upon time and space.  Mercury stationing retrograde while bearing the water of Aquarius holds the promise of illumination that transcends our everyday conception of time, saturating our direct perception of the moment with lucidity.  As Mercury moves backward into Capricorn, goat horns protrude through the messenger’s head as the role of water bearer is released in order to invest fully into the surrounding material realm with its lusty nature.  In Capricorn, where Mercury spends the majority of its time this retrograde, Mercury shifts our focus toward achievement and ambition as well as the degree of determination and discipline that will be needed for manifestation.

In addition to entering the heart of the Sun while retrograde in Capricorn, Mercury will also form conjunctions with Pallas Athene and Pluto, and in fact will station direct conjoining Pluto.  Around the recent solstice Mercury was first conjunct Pallas Athene, and in the first week of its retrograde movement Mercury will again become conjunct with Pallas Athene in Capricorn.  Here the creative visioning of Pallas Athene combines with the symbolic perception of Mercury retrograde for penetrating perception into the structural and systematic foundations surrounding us.  In her classic Asteroid Goddesses Demetra George wrote:

Aesthetically, Pallas Athene is very strong in Capricorn representing the ability to formulate precise structures (molds) into which raw creative energy can coalesce.  Instant manifestation is often possible and can be seen as a magical process. Here, Pallas excels in the arts of architecture, drafting, and sculpture.  Capricorn’s association with time connects Pallas Athene with the art of timing- being in the right place at the right time.  Politically, this is a defender of law and order. There is a strong power drive for authority over others in political and social institutions.  The wisdom of Pallas in Capricorn is the wisdom of order- putting things in their proper sequence (p. 105).

The Sun in Capricorn is applying closely to a conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn and square to Uranus in Aries when Mercury stations retrograde, and then in the weeks ahead after Mercury passes back across the face of the Sun, Mercury will eventually come into a square with Uranus in Aries and then will station direct in conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn.  As a result, this Mercury retrograde activates and re-triggers the first quarter square between Pluto and Uranus that has been dominating our astrological landscape for the past seven years, most exactly in the past four years.  As predicted the Pluto-Uranus square has correlated with seismic shifts around our planet, and so this Mercury retrograde is profound for reflecting upon the immensity of change that has passed through our lives.  Furthermore, it’s a potent period for reorienting our plans and structures in greater harmony with the insights we receive for how our world has been altered and continues to change.

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Illustration for Dante’s Inferno by Gustave Dore

Does it really exist, Time the Destroyer?
When, on the peaceful mountain, does it crush the fortress?
And this heart, always the gods’ possession,
when does the Demiurge pillage it?

Are we really so anxiously brittle
as Fate would have us believe?
Is childhood, so deep, so rich with promise,
in the roots- later on- stilled?

Ah, the spectre of transience,
through the guilelessly receptive
it passes like wisps of smoke.

And we, with our driving, our striving,-
the abiding Strengths assume
that the gods have some need for us.

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury Stations Retrograde

Hermes is a god of boundaries, with a tradition of demarcating divisions between profane and sacred territory, between rural and urban landscapes, between the graveyards of the dead and the playgrounds of the living.  When Mercury stations retrograde, this normally swift planet gives off the appearance of putting down roots into solid stillness, and as it disappears with a flash of light at sunset there is a cosmic message transmitted.  As Mercury moves retrograde under the beams of the Sun it is not visible, and being in between our planet Earth and our fiery Sun it is symbolically considered to be journeying through our underworld.  Demetra George has connected Mercury retrograde with the work by Jungian Murray Stein on the borderline spaces we inhabit during transitions and gaps between conscious realities.  As Hermes is a god of thresholds and passages between realms, Demetra George has taught that the stationing of Mercury retrograde marks a liminal time in which we are separated from a clear sense of where we are, as Hermes guides us through a transition of an old identity dying and the emergence of a new sense of Self.

This Mercury retrograde primarily occurring in Capricorn introduces the Mercurial theme of the earth element in 2016, as the following two Mercury retrograde periods this year will also occur in the earth signs of Taurus and Virgo.  This brings to mind the unconscious symbolism of the forest as well as other oracular associations with soulful matter such as rocks, plants, and other elements of our natural world.  Capricorn is distinguished in part from the other earth signs through it being the home of Saturn, and the transiting Saturn in Sagittarius is fittingly forming some of the most significant astrological aspects during this Mercury retrograde.  Transiting Saturn being in Sagittarius colors Mercury’s time in Capricorn with a more strident, visionary vibration.  The last quarter square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces that has been an intense astrological factor over the past couple of months continues to be so during this Mercury retrograde, and in fact becomes all the more dramatic with the passage of Venus triggering their dynamic.

As Mercury stations retrograde, Venus is applying tightly to a square with Neptune, within minutes.  Venus is also four degrees away from Saturn in Sagittarius as Mercury stations, and as Mercury moves retrograde over the following week Venus will conjoin Saturn on January 8 at a Dark Moon in Capricorn.  The square between Venus and Neptune portends a crisis in our relationships, and as Venus is overcoming Neptune in the square while also approaching Saturn, the dreamy unconditional side of our feelings can be overcome by the conditions of circumstance in front of our face, what we feel are the cold hard facts of reality.  However, the square of Neptune in Pisces to Venus and Saturn combining in Sagittarius also reveals that there is a deeper and more far reaching truth to discern, such as the fact that what we are perceiving to be our reality is based more upon our current beliefs than actual reality.  While Saturn can bring up feelings of wanting to cut something off and separate, it is also true that Venus can soften up the old ringed devil for reconciliation.  At a higher potential, we can utilize these aspects during the Mercury retrograde to penetrate into our subjective feelings and perceptions and unveil a vaster conception of personal truth.

At the outset of Mercury stationing retrograde, with Mars in Scorpio in square to Mercury in Aquarius, we will want to keep in mind that disillusionment and feelings of disorientation are likely to come up in our relationships and that this amplified aspect between Mars and Mercury can erupt easily into bitter conflict.  While Mercury is in Aquarius, there is a risk that the detached side of Aquarius could combine with the fury of Mars at full force in Scorpio, resulting in explosive fights.  Yet the anger coming out in conflicts at this time has a source within, and it will be the task of this Mercury retrograde to journey within and explore the full ramifications of where these feelings are coming from.  It is important to realize that the feelings and thoughts dislodged at the beginning of this Mercury retrograde by Mars square Mercury, Venus and Saturn square Neptune among other things, is not the end of the story but merely the beginning.  Mercury will be journeying in the retrograde all the way back to unite with Pluto in Capricorn, and so there will be a vital message for us to receive about ourselves connected to the impassioned feelings provoked at the outset of this Mercury retrograde.

There is also the potential that we can rekindle passion from the Mars square in order to then harness corresponding desire to determined effort going forward.  Mercury retrograde in the home of Saturn will reward hard work and effort, and so the square from Mars to Mercury can jolt us into awareness of where we need to concentrate and work with full force.  This square between Mercury and Mars is even more intense as it is the second one to occur within the same week.  The first square in this cycle was on December 29, 2015 with Mercury at its maximum elongation as an Evening Star at 28° of Capricorn, and Mars at the same degree of Libra.  There is something hugely significant to find within this square between Mercury and Mars that will fuel our work in the year ahead.  Mars and Mercury will form their third square in the beginning of March 2016 with Mercury at the very end of Aquarius and Mars and the very end of Scorpio.  It may take until this later time a few months from now to fully come to terms with the work that will be involving this intense aspect between Mercury and Mars, and in the meantime we will need to persevere in the face of any daunting obstacles.

The other major astrological aspect occurring as Mercury stations retrograde is that a couple of days after Mercury stations retrograde, Jupiter in Virgo will also station retrograde closely conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo.  There is a powerful connection here with Mercury as the conjunction between Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon is occurring in Virgo. In fact, as Mercury moves retrograde into Capricorn this connection will intensify as Mercury will be receiving Jupiter through a trine.  With Mercury in the home of Saturn, Saturn in the home of Jupiter, and Jupiter in the home of Mercury during this retrograde, despite some of the otherwise challenging aspects there also appears to be a confluence of forces supporting us finding a vision for our life that will bring us a fulfilling sense of purpose.  Jupiter moving retrograde also brings an inner visioning in terms of reorienting toward a more authentic personal truth.  Jupiter was previously retrograde in Leo between early December 2014 and early April 2015 if you want to contemplate events associated with the prior Jupiter retrograde.  Jupiter will remain retrograde until the beginning of May 2016, at which time it will station direct in range of an opposition to Neptune in Pisces and a square with Saturn in Sagittarius.

mercury passing in front of the sun

Mercury Passing in Front of the Sun by Giacomo Balla (1914)

Only he who has also raised
his lyre among shadows
may find his way back
to infinite praise.

Only he who has eaten with the dead
from their stores of poppy
will never again lose
the softest chord.

And though the pool’s reflection
often blurs before us:
Know the image.

Only in the double realm
do the voices become
eternal and mild.

–Rainer Maria Rile from Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury into the Sun

Mercury’s inferior conjunction occurs when Mercury retrograde reaches the same zodiac degree as the Sun, and as Mercury during its retrograde is passing between our Earth and Sun, I am part of the astrological community who interprets this as being similar to a New Mercury.  This is a moment of cazimi, in which Mercury is reborn in the radiance of our solar light, regenerated and purified within the golden rays of the fiery Sun.  On a personal level, this is a moment of new conception regarding the significations of Mercury within our life, and a powerful moment within to attune to an oracular message we may receive.  In Pacific standard time, this magical Mercury moment occurs at 6:05 am on January 14, 2016, while in the Central European time zone this will occur at 3:05 pm on January 14.

Mercury and the Sun will be at 23º50′ tightly in trine with Jupiter in Virgo at 23º10′ and the true North Node of the Moon in Virgo at 23º30′.  Amazingly, the waxing crescent Moon at the moment of Mercury cazimi is at 22º30′ of Pisces, closely applying to a conjunction with the South Node of the Moon, a sextile with the Mercury and Sun conjunction, and an opposition to Jupiter in Virgo.   These aspects are remarkably suggestive of the interpretation that Dane Rudhyar gave to the Crescent Moon as fighting off the ghosts of the past, as there is an activation of past patterns of awareness at the same time we sense new choices and opportunities linked to a reborn vision of meaning.  While we may feel a pull back toward the normalcy of old patterns, we can consciously with determination propel ourselves into the unknown with faith despite the fears arising that we will not have what we need to be successful in the new direction.  The close trine between Mercury conjoining the Sun and Jupiter conjoining the North Node of the Moon indicates that we will in fact be able to access the resources we need to successfully transition in the new, unfamiliar direction.

In addition, the inferior conjunction of Mercury will be almost exactly conjunct the geocentric South Node of Saturn, and a few degrees away from a conjunction with the geocentric South Node of Pluto.  This intensifies the connection of this Mercury retrograde cycle with the full archetypal arcs of both Saturn and Pluto.  In evolutionary astrology, Jeff Green teaches that the South Nodes of Saturn and Pluto being in Capricorn symbolizes the vast shadow cast by the patriarchal paradigm that seized power from a matriarchal collective ages ago.  Mercury retrograde united with the Sun at the South Node of Saturn suggests penetrating insight into the foundation of the structural systems surrounding us will be available.  It also portends we can discern how our behavior in the moment has been conditioned by the vast history of hierarchical power structures vying for power, control, and dominance.

Finally, there are additional indications that Venus is demanding attention from us during this Mercury retrograde, and that the retrograde commencing with a tight square between Venus and Neptune is a sign that we have a deep message regarding our Venusian nature to uncover.  At the time of Mercury’s inferior conjunction, Venus in Sagittarius is separating from a trine with Uranus in Aries and applying to a square with Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon in Virgo, as well as a square with the Moon in Pisces and the South Node of the Moon.  Well, we’re always focused on Venus and looking for messages about her, right?  Nonetheless, Venus is holding aspects suggestive of being at a crossroads at the time of this Mercury inferior conjunction, and as she will be received by Jupiter it is yet another sign of the Jupiter conjunction with the North Node of the Moon in Virgo being a beacon of light leading us out of the Mercurial underworld.

Dore Gustave Inferno_Canto_1_spirit_guide

Virgil leads Dante by Gustave Dore, from the Divine Comedy

We puzzle over flower, vine-leaf, fruit.
They speak not just the language of the year.
A thing of succor rises from the dark
and its hues may gleam with the jealousy

of the dead, those who strengthen the earth.
What do we know of their share in it?
It has long been their practice to enrich
the loam with their own free marrow.

The question is: do they do it willingly? . . .
Does this fruit, a work of sullen slaves,
push through clenched to us, to their masters?

Or are they the masters, sleeping among
the roots and granting us from their profusion
this hybrid of mute strength and kisses?

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury Stations Direct

Mercury ultimately will station direct on January 25, 2016 at 14º55′ of Capricorn, closely conjoining Pluto at 15º54′ of Capricorn.  As Mercury appears to stand still when stationing, this means we will have an extended period of Mercury and Pluto being a degree apart (roughly January 21 – February 1, 2016).  On January 20 when the Sun ingresses into Aquarius, Mercury retrograde will also form an exact square with Uranus in Aries, and Mercury will still be in range of a square to Uranus when it finally stations direct.  There is deep reckoning to be found in this stationing direct of Mercury, much more so than normal as it is intimately bound to the influence of the Pluto-Uranus square.  This may or may not be a pleasant time depending upon your circumstances, but there is no doubt that an aspect of your ineffable soul will be available to perceive.  Whether you are able to schedule some downtime for yourself or whether you will be forced to be engaged in numerous intense activities, there is immense catharsis found in these aspects surrounding Mercury stationing direct.  There is also a harmonious sextile formed between Mars in Scorpio with the stationing Mercury in Capricorn, suggesting that a level of resolution could be reached concerning whatever was stirred up by Mars being square to Mercury at the beginning of the retrograde.

Adding to the vast depth of this time is that Mercury will be stationing direct closely conjoining the geocentric South Node of Jupiter, and also a couple of degrees away from a conjunction with its own geocentric South Node of Mercury.  This is yet another potent activation of the Jupiter archetype during this Mercury retrograde, and points toward Jupiter taking on the role of a guiding shepherd.  As Mercury begins to move direct again as an explorative Morning Star, it will once again begin applying to a trine with Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon in Virgo.  Those who have been working hard with due diligence and determination during the Mercury retrograde will be rewarded during this final period of Jupiter in Virgo receiving Mercury in Capricorn through a trine.  By willingly descending into underworld darkness during the Mercury retrograde, we will reascend nourished by a regenerated vision of life focused upon our essential fulfillment.

References

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

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

Leo Full Moon

sekhmet

Sekhmet

Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits

— John Keats, Endymion

Today’s Full Moon in Leo arrives at the time of Imbolc, the pagan holy day marking the mid-point between the Solstice and the Equinox, a period in which the new impulses seeded at the Solstice that have taken root find a home in our imagination, body, and reality.  Imbolc in the Northern Hemisphere is when we sense the coming solar radiance of Spring on the distant horizon, a time to conduct rituals of purification in our home through the lighting of fire. The Celtic Goddess Brigid holds strong resonance with this holy time, a Goddess of poetry, arts, crafts, medicine, sacred wells, and serpents among other significations.  This symbolism is perfect for the astrology expressed through today’s Full Moon, as our solar time in the detached, independent, rational, and analytical Aquarius receives a jolt of passionate creativity from the lustful sign of the Lion-hearted.  Mercury retrograde in Aquarius brings potential to penetrate deeply with our perceptions freed from the constraints of consensus conditioning, and so this Leo Full Moon can feel like an imbibing of poetic inspiration to soak up and more fully feel our recent experiences, expressing ourselves from our inner source of images and vision.  This is an auspicious time to set an intention and create an art or craft to represent our wish for fulfillment.

Crystalline brother of the belt of heaven,
Aquarius! to whom king Jove has given
Two liquid pulse streams ’stead of feather’d wings,
Two fan-like fountains, – thine illuminings
For Dian play:
Dissolve the frozen purity of air;
Let thy white shoulders silvery and bare
Shew cold through watery pinions; make more bright
The Star-Queen’s crescent on her marriage night:
Haste, haste away!

— John Keats, Endymion

This is a Jupiterian Full Moon of purified vision, with a retrograde Jupiter conjunct the Full Moon that is drawing us more deeply inside the personal direction for us to follow in the coming season.   Aquarius is able to help us both de-condition as well as re-structure: in the libation of the Water Bearer we are able to apply reason to our passions, analyze our place within society, and speak out or stand in solidarity against aspects of the status quo that lack humanity. Yet Aquarius likes to have a structure, and being traditionally ruled by Saturn is an excellent conduit for the brilliantly intuitive and non-linear visualization of Jupiter that expands us beyond our previous limitations, yet also needs structure to help our vision take effective form in our reality.  This Full Moon highlights the polarity of Leo to Aquarius that re-focuses our detachment from what we no longer want in our lives into a passionate actualization of the creative destiny we desire to manifest.

griffins horned in gold

Horned Lion Griffins in gold (Iran, 6th -4th Century B.C.) from Metropolitan Museum of Art

Modern astrology schools such as evolutionary astrology taught by Jeff Green connect Uranus as a ruler of Aquarius, and today’s Leo Full Moon ushers in a renewal of the dynamic interplay between Jupiter and Uranus in a first quarter trine.  At the time of the Full Moon Jupiter and Uranus will be within five degrees of one another, and by the end of February they will be exactly trine.  While Jupiter and Uranus in trine can coincide with dramatic, liberating breakthroughs in thought that take us beyond our former conception of our reality, there is a paradox in today’s astrological aspects that also take us into our past, in a spiral like process of returning to the moment in a new frame of mind.  This is because Jupiter is retrograde in Leo, Uranus is conjunct the South Node of the Moon in Aries, and we are also still within the Mercury retrograde phase in Aquarius.  I do not mean to suggest that we will be stuck in the past, or continuing to re-cycle old patterns of our past, but instead that our sense of our past, the telling of our personal story, can radically shift now and bring us into a place in which we can receive new images and messages about our self and our surrounding world.  Let what is arising within now germinate instead of thinking you need to immediately take action-  this Full Moon in aspect to Uranus is unveiling a message that is in a process of taking form, and we will be gaining greater clarity regarding how to best take action on behalf of it in the coming weeks.

In addition to today’s Leo Full Moon being in trine to the South Node of Moon in Aries, it is also in sextile to the North Node of the Moon in Libra.  As a result there is also an important message regarding our relationships to receive now, something that no matter how jarring or upsetting is vital in our process of creating and sustaining relationships that nurture our creative authenticity instead of repressing or limiting it.  This is further emphasized by Mercury retrograde in Aquarius being opposite Juno in Leo in the past week.  Furthermore, with Mars and Venus both in Pisces and in balsamic phase, with Venus conjunct Neptune and Mars conjunct Chiron, this Full Moon heralds a time of releasing the relationships that no longer serve us and magnetizing the relationships that will more effectively help us actualize the vision of our future life we can sense developing from within.  We can feel big love now that is expansive and grandiose like Jupiter, boundless and ethereal like Neptune.  With Saturn in Sagittarius in square to Venus and Neptune in Pisces, we will be confronted with aspects of our reality that may feel challenging, yet can also be seen as guides for how we will need to structure our idyllic intention so that it can effectively exist in reality.

I have clung
To nothing, lov’d a nothing, nothing seen
Or felt but a great dream! O I have been
Presumptuous against love, against the sky,
Against all elements, against the tie
Of mortals each to each, against the blooms
Of flowers, rush of rivers, and the tombs
Of heroes gone!

— John Keats, Endymion

6_of_wands1

6 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

The association between Jupiter and this Leo Full Moon is further accentuated by the Full Moon being in the second decan of Leo, a decan that is ruled by Jupiter.  The tarot card linked to the second decan of Leo is the Six of Wands, a card that tends to have images associated with triumphant victory such as the strident champion riding a white horse drawn above by Pamela Colman Smith, a conquering hero hailed by a wreath of laurel and an adoring crowd.  Austin Coppock has analyzed this decan as holding the triumph of great acts performed by those who have created an authentic persona and ego-structure through which  to project their spirit:

This decan holds within it the magical power of authenticity- here defined as a harmonious connection between the external sphere in which one acts and the spirit fire within each individual.  The alchemical process necessary to achieve this power is work upon the persona or ego which mediates the spirit and what the world sees.  Once the persona has become suitable to transmit the spirit’s impetus, a fierce and potent authenticity is born.

— Austin Coppock, 36 Faces

Often times the persona we develop has been molded to acclimate to the relational dynamics within our family and early development, within our community and culture, within our educational system, and within the network of relationships involved in our career path and daily responsibilities.  The polarity from Leo to Aquarius highlighted by today’s Full Moon illuminates the importance of being able to detach from the influences of our surrounding conditioning to the extent necessary for us to find our true voice instead of mimicking those we think will help us succeed in the culture.  Yet while we need to detach enough so that we can self-reflect and discover our personal authenticity, we also need the fixed perseverance of Aquarius and Leo to stand apart and courageously follow the beat of our own heart.  Most vitally, we need the burning passion of Leo to invigorate our cool, purified Aquarian vision with a heart-centered focus that keeps us connected to the needs of our surrounding environment while also bringing forth the unique gift we have to offer from our inner spirit.  When Aquarius connects us to a group of like-minded associations, we inevitably come under the influence of feeling like we need to conform to the norms of the group- for Aquarius to come into it’s full strength we need to activate the Leo polarity of following our own heart instead of the group-mind.

rudy shepherd boko haram

Drawing by Rudy Shepherd of 13 year old girl recruited by ‪‎Boko Haram‬ to blow herself up in Kano, Nigeria, but refused to go through with it.

This Leo Full Moon comes about four days after the core of the Mercury retrograde cycle in Aquarius when Mercury entered the heart of the Sun on January 30, 2015.  Mercury retrograde is now coming into a conjunction with Vesta in Aquarius, lending increased levels of focus and perseverance to our Mercurial journey into our depths.  Indeed, all of the major asteroid goddesses are active at this Full Moon, with Pallas Athena in Sagittarius in square to Mars and Chiron in Pisces, Juno in Leo opposite Mercury retrograde in Aquarius, and Ceres coming into a close balsamic conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn, in square to Uranus and the nodes of the Moon.  Demetra George has taught that since the asteroids Ceres, Juno, Vesta, and Pallas Athene have rulership associations with the signs Virgo, Libra, and Scorpio, they function as agents facilitating our transformation between personal issues associated with the first five signs of the zodiac (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo) with the more collective issues associated with the final four signs of the zodiac (Sagitarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces) similar to how they are located in the asteroid belt in between Mars and Jupiter in outer space.  In this way the asteroid goddesses are facilitating the journey of Mercury retrograde, and since the Mercury retrograde began at the Aquarius New Moon that has ripened to today’s Full Moon, they are also part of facilitating an important message to us about our place within all of the momentous collective issues arising now.

Indeed, once open to her Pallas Athena and her creative visioning becomes more important, as she is in trine to the Full Moon in addition to being square to Mars and Chiron in Pisces.  There is a fertile opportunity for our beliefs to shift and re-align at this time away from our past conditioning, and the new cycle between Mars and Chiron is important to tune into for a place in your chart where a profound re-vitalization of your Will and desire nature is occurring. There is also a profound yod formed by the Leo Full Moon that is triggered by the Aquarius Sun and anchored by the sextile between Chiron in Pisces and Pluto in Capricorn.  This waxing, crescent sextile between Mars and Chiron in Pisces and Pluto in Capricorn is a tremendous growth opportunity for how we can pursue personal desires that also help others in our global environment, all within the network of systematic power structures.  Look to where 14-15 degrees impacts your chart, especially in the signs of Pisces, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Leo.

Finally, there is also an intense aspect involving Venus conjunct Neptune and square to Saturn in Sagittarius and in t-square with Black Moon Lilith in Virgo.  There may be feelings to overcome of how we have previously felt rejected by a culture or group, and disillusioning events and experiences that momentarily make us feel lost or confused, but in the end these are all experiences that can be used to shift the way we are interacting in order to be less accommodating to others and more attuned to the direction coming from our Self.  Saturn in square to Venus and Neptune can also bring benefit to anyone willing to put in some disciplined and focused work toward their dreams now.  Feel with your heart and deep within your body the burgeoning new vision and life that is currently underground, beginning to move toward shooting up new shafts of green into your reality.

LeoFullMoonWRIGC1

References

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

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

moonrise

The Pond – Moonrise (1904) by Edward J. Steichen

Mercury retrograde is an inner alteration that comes to us three times a year, and our first of 2015 that begins on January 21, 2015 in Aquarius initiates a year of Mercury retrograde phases in each of the three Air signs of reflection, thoughts, and ideas.  Being afraid of Mercury retrograde is like being afraid of making a mistake, being afraid to go into the darkness of our inner realm and shadow work.  Mercury in myth is the psychopomp of Soul, the messenger who can bridge the underworld with the upper world, and guide us into our inner depths in order to help us shift our external presence and perspective.  Some of us have astrology charts that naturally resonate with Mercury retrograde times more than others, but the key is to open perception to the world of symbols, signs, omens, dreams, and what we can sense from our unconscious.  If things become disorienting or confusing, perceiving through intuition can help guide us more so than reaching for rational clarity.

Aquarius in astrology is a Fixed Air sign, and so the fluid Mercury in retrograde can help us shift some deep rooted and fixated patterns of habitual thought.  Modern astrologers look to Uranus as the ruler of Aquarius while classicists look to Saturn as the lord of the Water Bearer:  both Saturn and Uranus are at center stage now, with Uranus square Pluto and conjunct the South Node of the Moon, and Saturn freshly in Sagittarius and in square to Neptune and Mars in Pisces, as well as passing through a square with Venus during the upcoming Mercury retrograde. The sextile between Sagittarius holding Saturn and Aquarius holding Mercury retrograde unveils the potential of this Mercury retrograde to take us into the mystery of fundamental change and re-structuring of our thought process and its interplay with our expression.  Aquarius symbolizes the paradox of both conformity to an established tradition as well as complete rebellion against an established tradition, through the common purpose of breaking free from consensus conditioning.  Yet there is also the collective phenomenon that following ground breaking revolution a heavy hand of Saturn control is often re-asserted by a new power structure.  This Mercury retrograde will call us to re-examine our inter-personal relationships as well as systematic relationships, including the relationship between global, national, and local structural systems.

In the global collective, the World Economic Forum annual meeting (in ski resort Davos, Switzerland this year) commences on the day Mercury stations retrograde in Aquarius.  One issue that Aquarian activists hope will be addressed is global economic inequality, as a recent study by the charity Oxfam predicted based upon current trends that in 2016, 1% of the world’s population will own more wealth than the other 99%.  While this is a prediction that the richest 1% of the world will own more than 50% of global wealth in 2016, the Oxfam study published on January 19, 2015 revealed “that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the best-off 1% has increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014, while the least well-off 80% currently own just 5.5%.”  The inequity of wealth distribution will not be changing anytime soon, but during the retrograde cycle we can work on shifting patterns within that are connected to our relationship with wealth and how we define what it means to have wealth.  Is it simply a matter of having more money, or is it more about the quality of our life- in this way, what sort of quality do we want?

The day before Mercury stations retrograde is a New Moon at the very beginning of Aquarius, and two days before Mercury stations retrograde there is an opposition between Venus in Aquarius and Jupiter retrograde in Leo, and a conjunction and new cycle between Mars and Neptune in Pisces.  These are extremely fertile astrology aspects in which to root a Mercury retrograde phase in Aquarius, and suggest that our past values and visions will be challenged on a foundational level in order to test how much they truly align with what we can create and draw upon in our surrounding reality, as well as to what degree they nourish and catalyze us to consequently impact or inspire our community.  When Mercury stations retrograde, the Moon will be passing over Mercury in conjunction while the stationing Mercury opposes Jupiter retrograde in Leo:

MercuryRetroStationWRIGC7

Mercury and Venus have recently been glorious evening stars beautifying our twilight.  On January 14 when Mercury was at its maximum elongation, I savored a sojourn of staring at a bright Venus and Mercury aligned symmetrically in the shifting blue hues of sunset turning indigo toward the dark of night.  The recent companionship of Mercury and Venus in Aquarius has brought something into the awareness of each of us, and as Venus moves forward in the direction of Pisces while Mercury turns back to retrace Aquarian steps, there is something significant for each of us to realize.  Take the time to explore the Aquarius house of your birth chart, and any important planets or aspects you have with the first eighteen or so degrees of Aquarius to help you deepen your self-reflection.  With its stationing, Mercury will now descend from view at twilight as an evening star into our underworld, not to return again for us to view until it has stationed direct and moved forward again to become a morning star heralding our dawn.

Though Mercury and Venus were delightful to view in twilight together recently, their time together in Aquarius has most likely coincided with events that opened your emotions to sadness or pain in one way or another.  The point where Aquarian detachment can go awry is when we choose to be in denial of our sadness, distracting ourselves away from our pain to pretend like visualizing positive fantasies will take our troubles away.  It is necessary to deal with our sadness and grief by fully feeling our emotions, without denial and the distraction of coping strategies to construct an artifice of control.  Paramount at this Mercury stationing is Pluto in Capricorn exactly in square to the lunar nodes of the Moon, with Uranus in Aries conjunct the South Node of the Moon.  There is no escaping the dark night of the soul that can arise with this aspect:  if we attempt to escape from it or resist it, incoming events will reinforce the issue even more strongly than before. Yet this is the blessing of experiencing a Mercury retrograde, as Mercury is the messenger who can mediate with Pluto in our depths. While we may feel adrift, lost in a space of past attachments dissolving, remember Mercury is the trickster who facilitates our crossing of the borderline space in between significant transitions of our life.

Indeed, this Mercury retrograde is not something to complain about but instead seize for its potential to take us into the deep.  Aquarius brings a capacity to objectively analyze, and so this Mercury retrograde can be like our own inner Jungian analyst who can help us find the cause of our current issues through interpreting the symbolism of our daily experiences with dreams and other signs in our environment.  Insights will arise in the coming weeks especially if we refuse to numb or shelter ourselves from the issues and feelings demanding our attention.  This is a time period in which to take responsibility for our emotions and the way our behavior is impacting the emotions of those we are in relationship with.  With Pluto in Capricorn, this involves us having to face the countless examples of systematic oppression we encounter in our daily environment, as well as how on a personal level we can attempt to deal with our emotional vulnerabilities though seeking control of others in one way or another, or by giving our power away to others in order to have someone else take care of us.  Furthermore, with Mercury stationing opposite Black Moon Lilith and Jupiter retrograde in Leo, we may become triggered by interactions bringing up issues of past rejection, or fear that we will not be accepted or chosen for relationship due to a feeling of alienation.  Yet within the drama of our subjective inner world we can sense our personal truth struggling to find its voice, and by courageously expanding further into our essential nature we will initiate a retrograde phase that will lead us to become more authentically alive.

Relationships, our old patterns of relationship, and the new way of being we can now embody in our relationships is an overarching theme of this Mercury retrograde in Aquarius, in part because Mercury is stationing in trine to the North Node of the Moon in Libra and in sextile to the South Node of the Moon and Uranus in Aries.  Moreover, this Mercury retrograde cycle is taking us through the balsamic phase of Mars and Venus toward a new cycle of Mars and Venus that will begin on February 21, 2015 at two degrees of Aries.  This is the closing of a cycle between Mars and Venus that began on April 6, 2013 at 19°57′ of Aries.  Think back to this time period of April in 2013 and what relationships entered your life, or what was shifting in relation to external connections with others in your life.  Everything that has transpired in our relationships in these past two years, that has happened in connection with our passions, desires, and inner values, is now at a time of clearing in order to let go and release with finality what is no longer serving us and to re-seed what is in accord with our new vision for the relationships of our present and future.

black-in-deep-red-1957

Black in Deep Red (1957) by Mark Rothko

On April 6, 2013 we entered a new cycle between Mars and Venus, and since then we have gone through a Venus retrograde in Capricorn as well as a Mars retrograde in Libra while experiencing the sequence of squares between Pluto and Uranus.  In 2015 three times will be the charm with the new cycle between Mars and Venus, as we will experience three conjunctions between them before they finally settle into their new cycle. After Venus and Mars conjunct at two degrees of Aries on February 21, Venus will move forward and get beyond a semi-sextile aspect with Mars before stationing retrograde at the beginning of Virgo to move back into Leo and reunite with Mars again on August 31, 2015 at fifteen degrees of Leo.  After Venus stations direct in Leo, it will move forward again and catch up with Mars for a final conjunction and initiation of the new Mars and Venus cycle on November 2, 2015 at twenty-five degrees of Virgo.  As a result, while we will experience a new initiation and rebirth in our relationships following this Mercury retrograde, we still have a lot more to work out between Mars and Venus during this year before we finally settle into our new relationship dynamic.  With the final conjunction occurring in Virgo, there seems to be a Mercurial aspect to the incoming Mars and Venus cycle, as the three conjunctions this year will also be preceded by the three Mercury retrograde phases in each of the Air signs.

Venus begins this Mercury retrograde opposite Jupiter, then ingresses into Pisces and forward into a square with Saturn and conjunction with both Neptune and Chiron, while Mars is initiating a new cycle with Neptune at Mercury’s stationing to move forward in the direction of Chiron.  By the time Mercury stations direct, Venus and Mars will be in a balsamic conjunction in Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac and a fitting place for Mars and Venus to release their previous cycle.  While Venus is in Aquarius during the first week of the Mercury retrograde, we may have a greater capacity for detached analysis of the inner values we have gained from conforming to an external source, whether that be from the consensus culture or from a subculture rebelling against consensus values we gravitated toward out of a sense of disenchantment or frustration with the status quo.  During this time of Venus moving through the final decan of Aquarius we can sense the values we have been living from that do not truly resonate with our unique individuality, and we may perceive intimations of how we can begin to actualize a more authentic value system.  With Mercury being retrograde, mixed into this process may be perceptions from a new perspective along with rumination into memories of previous relationships and the values we took on through old relationships.

Venus in Aquarius can detach to prevent us from becoming overcome by our emotions, while Venus in Pisces is more likely to merge into our inner feelings as well as with others. Leading up to the inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun, Venus will ingress into Pisces and will have entered into a first quarter square with Saturn in Sagittarius and a balsamic conjunction with Neptune when the angelic messenger unites with our Sun:

Mercury-SunconjunctionWRIGC8

The inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun is ideal for intention setting if you can be alert to its timing.  This is a moment of conception that can signal a shift in our state of mind similar to a new moon.  Look to where 10°20′ of Aquarius is in your astrology chart by house and aspect to analyze how this impacts you specifically.  In connection with the theme of relationships, it is fascinating that the inferior conjunction of Mercury is opposite Juno retrograde in Leo.  Our passionate Juno side that can have the drive of a lioness in pursuit of creative desires has an opportunity here to integrate into our presence in community and bring a more heart-centered focus to the oftentimes cool and detached Aquarian mindset.  It could also signal a time to break from a current relationship drama in order to re-center, like Juno re-sourcing herself in her sacred bath.

The relationship theme is further emphasized by Venus being balsamic conjunct Neptune in Pisces, and in square to Saturn in Sagittarius, with Mars balsamic conjunct to Chiron in Pisces.  The Venus-Neptune and Mars-Chiron cycles ending now to begin again both go back to early 2013, when Mars and Chiron began the current cycle in Pisces in February and Venus and Neptune began their current cycle in Pisces at the beginning of March (Mercury was also retrograde in Pisces when Venus and Neptune were last conjunct).  The first quarter square from Pisces Venus to Sagittarius Saturn is coming off their conjunction in mid-November 2014 in Scorpio.  All of these aspects coinciding with Mercury’s inferior conjunction point toward illumination concerning the ideals we hold in our relationships versus the actual reality of our relationships.  The more we accept ourselves for who we actually are and not the ideal persona we want to create about ourselves, the less likely we are to project our ideals on a relationship that ultimately leads us to disillusionment because we are not taking care of our own work.  The more we live with integrity in line with our deeply felt values, the more likely we are to magnetize relationships that are aligned with our ideal path, and this inferior conjunction of Mercury is a moment to set such an intention.

There is also a paradoxical potential to these aspects that could align with great wounding as well as groundbreaking strides toward a cherished vision.  Mars aligning with Chiron could take us deeply into our wounds, and Saturn can have a very heavy hand with a Venus wanting to drift away in a Piscean illusion, all the more so with Uranus closely conjunct the South Node of the Moon and in square to Pluto at the inferior conjunction.  Uranus has to do with unexpected shattering which can be both liberating as well as traumatic, but in any event has to do with some sort of large energetic shift arriving unannounced.  Chiron is a mediator between Uranus and Saturn, and so these same aspects point to an opportunity for us to re-direct incoming energy into our work and relationships with our surrounding environment.  Chiron is a courageous and wise archetype for Mars to re-formulate our sense of will around at this time of the inferior conjunction, and we can work with him better if we bravely step into a mediating role between conflicts, be present for healing in our interactions, and if necessary make a sacrifice not out of a sense of masochism or victimization but out of authentic desire to purely serve.

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Moon Woman (1942) by Jackson Pollock

As we move away from the inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun toward the period of Mercury stationing direct, Venus gets closer each day to Mars in Pisces making the clearing of previous relationship patterns deeper.  This is a great couple of weeks to claim as a severing of what no longer serves us in our previous patterns of relating to others as well as our self.  Yet clearing does not mean clean cut or simply cut off, but rather this letting go could become a messy affair, a spiral-like process that brings up deeply felt emotions from old relationships we had tucked away, or feelings about a current partnership we had been ignoring or distracting ourselves from.  Pisces is a compassionate place for this release to take place, and drawing on the Piscean ideals of compassion and acceptance with ourselves and in our interactions will help us let go of old wounds and patterns we will soon realize we had been sorely needing to release.  We will also get another opportunity for relationship clearing later this year since Mars and Venus conjunct two more times before settling in for good into their new cycle, but Mars and Venus will not be in Pisces at that time.

Between Mercury’s conjunction with the Sun and Mercury stationing direct, Ceres in Capricorn also enters a balsamic clearing with Pluto in Capricorn, evoking a strong Dark Moon aspect between these rivals of myth.  In addition to it’s themes of nurturance and attachment, Ceres can show us where crisis has led us to attempt to cope through vengeful anger or the taking of control, and how through surrendering to acceptance as well as through taking assertive mediation we can reclaim our personal authority and ability to be productive.  This conjunction in Capricorn brings up both the oppressive nature of the power structure as well as our capacity to claim the authority to take action within the system to bring perpetrators of wrongdoing to justice.  In the myth, Ceres ultimately stands up for herself and forces Jupiter to make a deal with her, thereby sending Mercury into the underworld to retrieve her beloved daughter Proserpina, or Persephone.  In synchronicity with the Northern Hemisphere experience of this Mercury retrograde occurring in deep Winter, with an upcoming Solar Eclipse occurring at the Spring Equinox, this Mercury retrograde descent to the underworld has resonance with the reclaiming of a beloved to reappear in the coming rebirth of Spring.  Ceres combining with Pluto in Capricorn now suggests that instead of attempting to tear down the entire power structure, instead look to where there are aspects of the system to connect with and use to promote your personal truth.

In the Homeric hymnal version of the Demeter and Persephone myth, the Moon Goddess Hekate directs Demeter to seek counsel with Helios, the Sun God and seer, who gives Demeter the knowledge that Hades took Persephone to the underworld under the blessings of Zeus.  Similarly we will be able to receive our own lunar divination around February 3, 2015 when there will be a Full Moon in Leo at the time of the cross-quarter holy day of Imbolc.  The Full Moon will be conjunct Juno and Jupiter in Leo, in between them, with both Juno and Jupiter retrograde, once again highlighting the theme of relationships.  In line with the balsamic relationship between Mars and Venus in Pisces co-occurring at the same time, this Full Moon will bring up a significant relational issue for us to integrate when Mercury stations direct at the beginning of Aquarius in the following week:

MercuryDirectStationWRIGC9

Mercury stations direct near the same degree of the New Moon of January 20, 2015 bridging the intentions we set at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde with it’s completion.  Mercury will station in conjunction with Vesta in Aquarius, bringing added focus, centeredness, and commitment to this stationing direct.  Vesta combined with Mercury in Aquarius could find us feeling somewhat alienated from others as we process and integrate the inner shifting that came during the retrograde phase of Mercury, and we may need to take some time for solace in solitude.  Ceres closely combined with Pluto in Capricorn in square to the lunar nodes and Uranus, with Venus conjunct Chiron in a balsamic conjunction with Mars may give us further cause for taking a break from busyness to re-center and re-intergrate.  Some of us may not be so lucky to get away from others and our daily work while Mercury is stationing, and so the focused energy of Vesta combined with Mercury will help us fulfill professional responsibilities and remain dedicated toward completing the responsibilities associated with the goals we are working toward.

“I have this strange feeling that I’m not myself anymore. It’s hard to put into words, but I guess it’s like I was fast asleep, and someone came, disassembled me, and hurriedly put me back together again. That sort of feeling.”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

Mercury stationing direct heralds the fleet footed messenger’s return as a Morning Star welcoming our Sunrise.  While Mercury as an Evening Star is associated with the cool, reflective hindsight of Epimetheus, Mercury as a Morning Star is associated with Prometheus and a more fiery foresight that operates best consciously in daylight hours.  The Messenger at this stage is curious, inquisitive, and eager for a new adventure with a mind ready to race ahead toward the future horizon. The ability of Mercury at this time to help us re-focus on our goals in line with the changes unfolding in our life will be a great benefit, as there is plenty ahead to keep Mercury busy as in March we will experience Saturn in Sagittarius stationing retrograde, the seventh and final square between Pluto and Uranus, and a Solar Eclipse at the final degree of Pisces.

References

Demetra George:  Hermes Guardian of Thresholds

Mars Retrograde in Libra

Aries kneels before Aphrodite

Mars Initiation

  • Mars entered his retrograde shadow zone (9-10 Libra) on December 27, 2013
  • January 16, 2014:  Venus retrograde (19 Capricorn) squared Mars (19 Libra)
  • February 28, 2014:  Mercury stationed direct at 18 Aquarius /// New Moon at 11 Pisces
  • March 1, 2014:  Mars stationed retrograde at 28 Libra
  • March 2, 2014:  Saturn stationed retrograde at 24 Scorpio /// Venus (28 Capricorn) squared Mars retrograde (28 Libra)
  • March 6, 2014:  Jupiter stationed direct at 11 Cancer
  • Mars retrograde will create a Cardinal Grand Cross in April with Jupiter in Cancer, Uranus in Aries, and Pluto in Capricorn around 12-14 degrees of the cardinal signs. The grand cross will be intense in the days surrounding April 23, with a Lunar Eclipse on April 15 and Solar Eclipse on April 29.
  • Mars will station direct on May 19 at 10 Libra
  • Mars will leave his retrograde shadow zone on July 22, 2014

March fittingly began with its namesake Mars claiming center stage by stationing retrograde at the end of Libra, in between Mercury stationing direct the day before and Saturn stationing retrograde the next day.  A few days later on March 6, Jupiter stationed direct, creating an extraordinary week of intensity.  Every time a planet stations it means their energy is saturating our astrological atmosphere:  with so many occurring at the same time the effect was dizzying and disorienting, but since Mars only goes retrograde about every 26 months or so, his stationing was especially dramatic.  A raised Mars vibration became even more pronounced at this time because his stationing occurred in conjunction to the shift of the true node of the Lunar North Node into the sign of Libra, meaning that Mars also became the lord of the South Node of the Moon in Aries.    As Mars is occupying the sign of Venus, conjunct the North Node of the Moon ruled by Venus, we are at a time of a Mars initiation under the auspices of Venus.

Mars initiating a collective and personal shift at this time was symbolized in current events by Russia invading the Crimea region of Ukraine at the time of Mars stationing retrograde.  Mars is of course the god of war, with an ancient link to the Greek Ares who was particularly bloodthirsty in battle and obsessed with creating conflict and strife.  The Russian invasion also connected to the shift of the South Node of the Moon into Aries that is ruled by Mars, as it brought to the collective mind a fear of another great war breaking out between global super powers, all the while evoking collective memories of the cold war between the United States of America and the Soviet Union that dominated the second half of the twentieth century.  However, fitting to a Mars retrograde occurring in Libra at this time, instead of an actual world war of mass killing breaking out what instead has occurred so far is a war of diplomacy and behind the scenes maneuvering of diplomats and dictators.

While Mars does have a mythic connection to the Greek Ares, his appearance in Roman culture was of supreme importance as Mars was a founding father of the Roman people through his fatherhood of Romulus and Remus.  In addition to being a god of aggression and violence, the Romans also saw Mars as a passionate, and scandalous lover- in fact the lover of Venus who was quite willing to ignore the fact that Venus was married to Vulcan.  This love affair between Mars and Venus was also found in the Greek version of numerous love affairs between Ares and Aphrodite who likewise transgressed the marital vows of Aphrodite and Hesphaestus (the Greek Vulcan).  Through the heated passion and sexual intercourse between the Mars and Venus of myth we can also find the astrological meaning behind Mars as an indication of our passionate and erotic desire that resists restrictions or limitations of any kind.

Another ancient connection to Mars was as a harbinger of plagues, pestilence, and disaster, as can be seen in his traditional association with the XVI Tower card of the Tarot Arcana.  I feel through modern astrology we have come to associate outer planets like Pluto and Uranus more so with crisis and calamities, but it is important to remember that Mars was always seen in this role and connected with disastrous events such as the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine at the time of a Mars stationing.  As a result, we can apply the theme of the XVI Tower card to events at this time, with the higher potential of this correlation being that we can become electrified and shook wide awake by dramatic events.  Indeed, Mars is also one of the traditional malefics of astrology along with Saturn, seen in night charts as representing the sorts of challenges that make us stronger and in day charts the sorts of challenges that simply make us lose our shit.  Through the myths and astrology of ancient Babylon, we can find all of these meanings, as Nergal (the God associated with the planet Mars in Babylon) was also a god of violence, plague, and disaster, who was also the  brother of Ninurta (the Babylonian Saturn, the other traditional malefic of astrology).

Michael Baignet in his incredible book From the Omens of Bablylon:  Astrology and Ancient Mesopotamia analyzed translations of ancient tablets and text to reveal a vivid portrait of the Babylonian Nergal who was associated in astrology with the planet Mars.  Nergal was like a combination of the Mars and Pluto of myth, a lord of the underworld who was considered to be evil and violent in addition to being a judge of the dead.  In fact, through Nergal we can discover the patriarchal takeover of the underworld as he forced himself unto the goddess of the underworld and into a seat on her throne.  The story began when Ereshkigal, the goddess of the underworld, sent an emissary to represent her at a feast of the gods.  Nergal intentionally gave a sign of disrespect to the emissary that led Ereshkigal to demand that Nergal be sent down to her so that she could kill him as punishment.  Nergal was unable to argue his way out of being sent down for retribution to Ereshkigal, but he was able to successfully negotiate the right to take fourteen of his companions down with him for protection, giving him one guard for each of the fourteen doors in the palace of Ereshkigal (this mythic action also reveals the Mars skill in manipulation, negotiation, seduction, diplomacy . . . ).  After placing a guard at each of the doors of the goddess of the dead, Nergal charged full speed ahead into the throne room where he took Ereshkigal by surprise, forcibly grabbing her by the hair and forcing her into the floor with a knife to her throat.  Somehow this great goddess found herself pleading for her life and making an offer to become his bride in exchange for Nergal letting her live.  And so Nergal became the husband to Ereshkigal, the lord of the underworld, the god and judge of the dead.

The connection between Mars and Pluto we can see in Mesopotamian myth is also found in modern astrology where Pluto is considered to be a higher octave of Mars by many astrologers.  The ancient embodiment of Mars as lord of the underworld in myth goes well with the effective use of Mars as the ruler of Scorpio in Hellenistic and other traditional forms of astrology, while there are also some modern astrologers who have done powerful work using Pluto as the ruler of Scorpio.   The link between Mars and Pluto is especially important in the system of evolutionary astrology developed by Jeff Green, in which the analysis of Mars is a key window into the desires radiating from the soul.  To Green, Mars correlates with our instinctual hunger to act on the desires coming from our soul and so the Mars archetype can help us become aware of our continuous state of becoming through activity.  Mars has a thirst for freedom and an aversion to restriction of any kind:  when Mars is moving direct, we take action that moves out from our soul.  In contrast, when Mars goes retrograde we take instinctual action that returns us to our center instead of moving out from our core.  Mars retrograde inverts the desires emanating from our soul so that we pause and reflect before taking action, leading to “considered action versus an impulsive action” (Green, p. 255).  As a result, the period of Mars retrograde can help our personality align to a greater extent with our soul’s intentions and eliminate or remake what is not serving our soul purpose.  In this way, during a Mars retrograde time-frame we have an opportunity to counterbalance past compulsive and overly willful egocentricity through listening inwardly, looking before we leap.

At this time of the Ides of March approaching, I am reminded of the famous speech given by Marc Antony in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar that to my mind is exemplary of both a Mars stationing and a Mars retrograde sort of action.  Here we have an excerpt spoken by Marlon Brando, an actor filled with the vigor of Mars in every performance:

Marc Antony would have been full of rage at the murder of Caesar, yet instead of reacting with destructive violence or direct attack he paused and considered how to craft persuasive language that would ignite the people of Rome to mutiny against the assassins of Caesar.  The dramatic atmosphere of this moment ripe with the potential for war is fitting for a time of Mars stationing like we experienced last week.  Yet through taking the time to reflect upon how to craft the most persuasive language possible instead of impulsively shouting diatribes against the plotters who tried to seize the throne through killing Caesar, Marc Antony’s speech also connects to the energy of a Mars retrograde.  Furthermore,  Marc Antony’s speech also contains a deft use of Libran diplomacy, seduction, and social manipulation, as he cleverly called the murderers of Caesar honorable while nimbly weaving words and phrases that would arouse the passions of the Roman people to his cause for revenge.  Each time he called Brutus or the other assassins “honorable,” he created an increasingly “dishonorable” impression of them in his audience through his considered choice in language that made his audience feel his own sense of wounding and wrongdoing.

As our current Moon cycle is waxing toward the Virgo and Pisces Full Moon of March 16, we have entered an energy field that is settling into the energy of the Mars retrograde more so than the more catalytic and disruptive energy of the Mars stationing last week.  In the same way that Venus retrograde cycles can coincide with fateful events carrying a sense of destiny in some personal birth charts, so can Mars retrograde cycles also be especially fateful for certain birth charts.  If Mars is a major factor in a chart a Mars retrograde cycle may always be significant, whereas for other charts it may have more to do with the specific zodiac degrees involved in the retrograde cycle.  For our current Mars retrograde cycle, you will want to pay close attention to the area of your chart holding nine to twenty-eight degrees of Libra (the Mars retrograde zone) as well as nine to twenty-eight degrees of every other cardinal sign in your chart (Aries, Cancer, and Capricorn- the Mars retrograde will be forming a square or opposition to these points), or other Air and Fire signs (Gemini, Aquarius, Leo, and Sagitarius- the Mars retrograde will be forming a trine or sextile to these points).  If you want to think about personal experiences relating to past Mars retrograde cycles, I will include some of the dates below.  You can also add in a couple of months before and after these stationing dates in order to capture the full retrograde shadow journey of Mars:

  • January 24 – April 14, 2012: stationed retrograde at 24 Virgo and stationed direct at 4 Virgo.
  • December 20, 2009 – March 10, 2010: stationed retrograde at 20 Leo and stationed direct at 1 Leo.
  • November 15, 2007 – January 30, 2008: stationed retrograde at 13 Cancer and stationed direct at 25 Gemini.
  • October 1 – December 10, 2005: stationed retrograde at 24 Taurus and stationed direct at 9 Taurus.
  • July 29 – September 27, 2003: stationed retrograde at 11 Pisces and stationed direct at 1 Pisces.
  • May 11 – July 19, 2001: stationed retrograde at 30 Sagitarius and stationed direct at 16 Sagitarius.
  • March 18 – June 4, 1999: stationed retrograde at 13 Scorpio and stationed direct at 25 Libra.

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Mars in the sign of Venus

Mars stationing retrograde in Libra is very significant in relation to Venus, including that Mars is considered to be in “detriment” in Libra.  The detrimental label of Mars in Libra connects to Libra being the polarized opposite of the sign Aries that Mars loves being in, as well as that Libra is a sign ruled by Venus.  Astrologers often think of Libra as a sign of balance, overly concerned with relationships and the needs of others, a sign of beauty that doesn’t quite jive with the freewheeling nature of Mars that will strike up conflict and want to have things its own way.  However, though balance is the aim of Libra, many Librans are in reality extreme in behavior and more in a process of searching for balance through extremity of behavior than beings whose every gesture is of rarified air.  Libra can have a manipulative talent for diplomacy, for getting its way through cooing negotiation, and for becoming enraged over social justice issues and oppression, all behaviors that do correlate to the willful Mars.  And just because the red planet is moving backwards in the sign of Venus does not mean we should think it a detriment, when instead we can celebrate the fact this planet of desire is moving under the guidance of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty.

Jeff Green’s perspective in evolutionary astrology I feel is beneficial to consider regarding Mars in Libra because he doesn’t get hung up on analyzing it as a “detriment” but instead looks at it as it is what it is, so let’s explore what it is.  There are a number of issues connected to Mars in Libra in Green’s evolutionary astrology I have been sensing connect with the current retrograde transit:  learning to actualize our soul intentions through initiating relationships with people from different beliefs, values, and backgrounds, learning to expand our consciousness through understanding our reality in a new way through relationship, learning to understand ourselves in a new way through the perceptions of others in relationship, learning to balance our need for independence versus our need for interaction, learning how to balance giving and receiving on an equal basis in relationship, and learning how to understand the nature of projections we receive from others as well as the nature of the projections we make on others in relationship.

Again, since the retrograde movement of Mars inverts the energy of the red planet toward our soul, instead of more impulsively acting out from our soul desires, during this retrograde transit the issues we encounter surrounding our relationships will help us eliminate what is not truly “us” in our behavior, and help us align to a greater extent with our soul purpose.  While this inverted energy of Mars may heat up our inner sexual desires, it does not necessarily mean we will be impulsively leaping into wild, lustful encounters with the people we become attracted to at this time, but in contrast we may find ourselves with an opportunity to pause and consider the reasoning behind the sexual desire we feel inside, helping us to better understand our own sexual nature in the process.  Jeff Green has also drawn attention to the link between Mars in Libra and sexual karma, and the karmic binding we create even in one-time sexual encounters.  In his second Pluto book, Green made the point that the archetype of Mars in Libra emphasizes the need to make our sexual intentions conscious so both partners are aware, from a one-night stand to a new attraction developing outside the boundaries of a monogamous relationship.  Along these lines Green stressed the importance of being honest or resolving the karmic agreement of the current relationship before entering into sexual relations with the new attraction.  The concept of mirroring, in which our relationships will mirror active elements of our psyche to focus on and learn more about, will be very active during this Libran retrograde and so acting with integrity in our relationships will be even more important than normal.

Along these lines, we will want to make sure that we are listening to the true needs of others in our relationships instead of what we want to hear, as well as making sure that we are likewise expressing our true needs in our relationship and having the personal integrity to believe and expect that our needs will likewise be acknowledged and honored.  Jeff Green also illuminated the tendency of the Mars in Libra archetype to be so overly concerned with the needs of others that they lose touch with their own needs.  This leads to great difficulty such as others projecting their own needs and expectations on us that have nothing to do with our actual reality, as well as our own danger of becoming incredibly angry at our needs not being met and at risk of projecting this anger on anyone that crosses our path.  While the sacred concept that the receiving is in the giving will be something we can experience at this time, we will want to take accountability to maintain the balance that our own needs are also being met and that communicating our needs will always be a good choice for us to make in the type of relationship we want to truly be inside.  If we have been someone who has been the scapegoat of our family, or have been carrying around karma and issues that are not even our own and have been projected onto us from others, we can at this time come into greater awareness of the nature of these projections from other people and clear out what does not truly belong to us.

If we are not feeling stirrings for new relationships at this time, or working on re-making an existing relationship to be more fulfilling, another area we may find connection to Mars being retrograde in Libra is through artistic work or creativity in any medium or material.  Libra is a Venusian sign of creativity and artistry, and so this Mars retrograde time will be opportune for entering into a sacred space of artistic creation, making sacred art that calls to our soul, viewing or experiencing art that feels sacred or soulful, or making choices to practice simple acts of creativity and joy whenever a moment arises.  Entering into an artistic or creative process of any kind, being open to observing whatever emerges, can be another helpful guide for us to align to a greater extent with our soul purpose and intention at this time.

Parnasse,_by_Andrea_Mantegna,_from_C2RMF_retouched

Affairs of the Heart

In the painting Parnassus above, painted in 1497 by Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna, we can see the lovers Mars and Aphrodite standing tall over a dance of the nine muses, with Mercury standing watch in the foreground, and the husband of Aphrodite, Vulcan, looking distraught in the background.  Over the past year the planets Mars and Venus have been involved in an intense affair, as their new cycle began around April 6, 2013 with a conjunction at 20 Aries.  Today we are just past a very long first quarter square phase that took months to complete:  the first time Mars and Venus squared was on September 28, 2013 with Mars at 20 Leo and Venus at 20 Scorpio.  Next, they squared on January 16, 2014 during the Venus retrograde with Mars inside his retrograde shadow zone, with Mars at 19 Libra and Venus retrograde at 19 Capricorn.  Significant to the Venus retrograde cycle of that time, Venus was just arising from the underworld as our Morning Star at this time following her inferior conjunction with the Sun on January 11.  And then last week on March 2, 2014, the third time was the charm as just at the time that both Mars and Saturn stationed retrograde, we had the final first quarter square with Mars retrograde at 28 Libra and Venus moving direct at 28 Capricorn.  Amazingly, this means that this final square between Mars and Venus in this cycle occurred at the exact time Mars was stationing retrograde and Venus was leaving her retrograde shadow journey.  Even more astounding, at the final square of this series on March 2, Mars retrograde was conjunct the North Node of the Moon ruled by Venus, and Mars at the same time was the ruler of the South Node of the Moon in Aries.  Meanwhile, Venus in Capricorn was in a square to the lunar nodes, making the intensity all the more grandiose.

What does a first quarter square between Mars and Venus mean?  It means, relative to this cycle that began on April 6, 2013, that we have crossed through a significant gate of challenge and crisis, made more so in this case because it took about five months to complete and involved retrograde cycles of both Mars and Venus.  From the lunar phase perspective, a first quarter square is about establishing the roots of our new direction, a phase full of tension, strength, and force that requires the building of a structure that can house the new purpose.  This phase requires a pioneering spirit that must confront and overcome past patterns and deal with their own sense of rage at having to face limitations and perhaps vestiges or triggers of past issues.  From this perspective, look back at what began last April of 2013:  any new relationships, projects, or desires? Was anything culminating or clearing in the time leading up to last April?  Likewise, where is 20 Aries in your birth chart for the start of a new cycle?  Where are all the degrees of the first quarter square- 20 Leo, 20 Scorpio, 19 Libra, 19 Capricorn, 28 Libra, 28 Capricorn?  From last September until now, through two of our four seasons, we have been facing crises and challenges connected to whatever new soul intention connected with our Mars and Venus we begun last April.

I want to come back once again to Jeff Green and evolutionary astrology, because I believe Green developed some valuable insights illuminating the archetypes involved in the phasal relationship between Mars and Venus:

From an evolutionary point of view, the phasal relationship between Mars and Venus will correlate to how the Soul is oriented to actualizing the relationship dynamics for itself, and how its needs for necessary freedom in order to actualize its overall evolutionary and karmic intentions interrelate.

–Jeff Green, Pluto Volume II, p. 259

From this same perspective, the first quarter square phase we just completed made us aware of new ways for us to be in relationship that reflect a new understanding we have for ourselves and how we relate to our soul.  At the first quarter square, we develop the courage to stand up for ourselves and assert our individual values whether or not others around us share the same values.  Part of the crisis of this stage then comes from the fact that we have a new sense of individuality we are developing that we fear we could lose by entering into relationships with other people, especially into intimate relationships where merging and bonding can occur.  As a result we can come into conflicts in our relationships because we may not truly commit, keeping our options open for an escape due to a fear of losing our individuality in the relationship.  To Green, the lesson of this stage “is for the Soul to realize that the individuality that has been established will not be lost, that this fear is a fear only, and to align with other individuals who have the same courage to project their own individuality in the face of the consensus . . . they need to choose an intimate other who is evolutionarily evolving in the same way” (Green, p. 262).  If we are currently in a relationship, we may need to reflect upon the dynamic and see if things can be reworked for greater harmony and a sense of personal freedom to develop in accordance with the calling of the soul.  If we are lacking relationships, we can hopefully find a new group of like-minded souls for friendship and collaboration, as well as gain greater clarity for the type of intimate partner we wish to eventually commit to.

For the rest of March we will be inside this first quarter phase of the Mars and Venus cycle, but at the very end of March we will have an opportunity to creatively actualize more of our new direction because Mars retrograde at 23 Libra will form a trine to Venus at 23 Aquarius on March 29, 2014.  This does not mean everything will become easy for us, but it does mean that whatever desire, issue, project, or relationship we are working on in connection to this Mars-Venus cycle will demand more of a yearning from us to manifest it to a greater extent, and with Venus being in Aquarius no doubt this will feel like a burning sense of liberation from within us.   This new, impulsive, liberating energy will be all the more intense because there will be a New Moon on March 30 that is conjunct Uranus in Aries, square Jupiter in Cancer, and square Pluto in Capricorn.   Events at this time will help us become aware of all the myriad of issues that have led up to this point, and with making the whole process more conscious we will have increased capacity to make our soul desire more of a reality, or at least create an effective plan to make it happen eventually.  Using this time for this purpose of clarifying our soul desire and then beginning the process of actualizing it in our life is of supreme importance because as we enter April we enter a time of intense aspects that many astrologers are signalling high alert to the collective regarding- a lunar eclipse, a cardinal grand cross including an exact square between Pluto and Uranus, and a solar eclipse among other things . . . These intense aspects also are fitting for the Chinese astrological perspective of this being the year of the Wood Horse, because although this energy could indeed correlate with some crises and stressful experiences, it is also the type of energy that can completely liberate us from our past and help us break free into uncharted territory- the transits have an extraordinary pioneering spirit to them at the same time they portend extremely challenging events.  But what does a pioneer do except face the greatest challenges and obstacles imaginable?

As we enter this intense April time period, we will likewise enter the gibbous phase of this Mars and Venus cycle around April 9 or so with Venus at the beginning of Pisces conjunct Neptune in Pisces.  This gibbous phase will take us through the  eclipse season and cardinal grand cross of the rest of April because we will not hit the full phase of Mars and Venus, their opposition point, until around May 11, 2014.  Fitting for the intense astrological climate of April, the gibbous phase of this Mars and Venus cycle could have us needing to withstand extreme criticism from our relationships and surrounding environment concerning the soul intention we are desiring to pursue as part of this cycle.  Part of the crisis we can experience in our relationships during April will be to help us make modifications in our relationship patterns so that we can adjust to the energy of others in our environment and learn to interact in more of a balanced manner.  Since this phase will begin with Venus conjunct Neptune in Pisces, there could be a very idealized aspect to our soul desire- it will be good to take time to pause, reflect, and center in accordance with the Mars retrograde and discern if this is a truly spiritualizing desire or more of an illusory escapist sort of Neptune desire.  Venus and Neptune conjunct in Pisces, however, can also help us step into a higher vibration of love in all of our relationships and more of an unconditional acceptance for the people we care about and where they happen to be in the moment with their own issues.  In line with a gibbous phase, we will also need to practice acceptance and unconditional love for ourselves because this phase of the Mars-Venus cycle can often correlate with becoming self critical and focusing on what we perceive as our own “shortcomings, inadequacies, imperfections, indiscretions, and lacks” (Green, p. 263).  If we are also being criticized harshly in our personal environment we will need to be careful of taking on projections and victimizing ourselves to such an extent that we become so angry that we cause destruction in relationships that are important to us.  Jeff Green views this phase as reflecting the need of the soul to humble itself and move out of any superior complexes in relationships that come from an actual inferiority complex underneath it all- we are called at this time to make modifications to how we take in criticism from others and learn that they mirror in a way our own self-criticism.  The lesson we can learn from all of this is how to make effective adjustments in how we interact with the greater world, which in the end will help us actualize our soul intention connected with this Mars-Venus cycle to a greater extent.

Fittingly our current Mars-Venus cycle reaches its halfway point, or full phase opposition point, toward the end of the Mars retrograde cycle with Mars beginning to station again.  This will occur on May 11, 2014 with Mars retrograde at 10 Libra and Venus at 10 Aries.  We will have accumulated a huge amount of information from the eclipse season of the cardinal grand cross that is simply impossible to predict at this time- whatever that information and events turn out to be, however, will add incredible understanding of our personal issues linked to this Mars and Venus cycle.  Since Mars will be entering a time of stationing at this time, although we may not be able to predict specific events we can know that most likely events will be very dramatic and possibly cataclysmic, and so we will want to be prepared to pause and reflect for our optimal response to whatever situation occurs.  Incredibly, in the following week around May 19 Venus will return to the same degree she was at the start of this cycle, 20 Aries, at the same time that Mars stations direct.  This is so beautiful and perfect in its pattern that it gives me great hope for this upcoming time period no matter how difficult our life may appear in moments of desperation.   Although events at this time may seem overwhelmingly challenging, the full phase point of the Mars-Venus cycle occurring as Mars stations direct is also perfect for Mars intensifying the energy of Libra, as the lesson of this phase between Mars and Venus is for us to learn how to cultivate equality in our relationships, find greater balance in our giving and our receiving, and learning how to integrate our unique soul needs into our social environment so that we can get what we need from our environment.  Difficulties in relationships can be learning tools that help us learn how to truly listen to what others need instead of what we think that they need:  as we learn to objectively understand the reality of others around us we will likewise attract a partner or relationships who have this same objective awareness of us.  We will also need to learn how to balance our feelings for spending time alone versus spending time in relationship:  the retrograde movement of Mars will help us tune into our instinctual soul desires of when we really need to spend time by ourselves, for example, and so we must have the personal integrity to honor these feelings and not succumb to pressure from others to socialize needlessly when we are not truly called to socialize.

We also will want to honor our sexual feelings and desires and come to greater awareness and understanding of our sexual nature at this time.  As previously stated, the retrograde movement of Mars through Libra will heat up our inner sexual vibration through the inversion of Mars energy- the soul intention of this will be to come to greater awareness of our erotic nature so we will want to avoid judging and shaming ourselves.  With all of the eclipse and cardinal grand cross intensity, putting shame into our game ain’t gonna make things easier.  Coincidentally, I recently had an epiphany regarding self-shaming of sexuality through attending a webinar by Demetra George on the fifth house of good fortune, where Venus has her Joy and greatest affinity from a traditional Hellenistic perspective.  In her webinar Demetra traced how the love affairs associated with the fifth house over time came to be labeled as being scandalous and risk-taking of the adulterous variety, much like the celebrated extra-marital affairs of Mars and Venus in myth; she did so in order to make the counter-point that the sexual desires where Venus has her Joy are in actuality divine and life infusing, fortunate and inspired by gods, noble and pleasurable.  Demetra incorporated a lesson from Plato’s Symposium to make her point, wherein Phaedrus described how Eros and our beloved can inspire us to act with greater integrity and aspire to the divine, so that we will be held in high esteem in the eyes of our beloved.  During this Mars retrograde in Libra we will have the opportunity to become clearer about the relationship we want to be in, the type of partner we want to attract, as well as gain clarity on our true values and desires we will live from that will simultaneously help attract our desired partner or relationship.  We will want to honor the sexual desires we experience as providing us with pleasure, inspiration, and even important information instead of judging or shaming ourselves- for example, if we experience attraction outside the boundaries of a personal relationship, we will want to remember to have integrity with how we deal with the situation, instead of acting from a place of shame and judgment toward our self.

In addition to relationship attractions and issues, the Mars and Venus square can connect with our inner masculine and feminine, as well as social justice issues such as the fact many do not even believe in concepts like masculine and feminine and suffer oppression in our society as a result.  Through the internalizing energy of the Mars retrograde we have the opportunity to cultivate greater balance between our inner yin and inner yang energy.  However, as Mars is moving retrograde all the way back to creating an extraordinary cardinal grand cross in April of 2014 that will occur during eclipses and another exact square between Pluto and Uranus, lets just say that many people around us will not exactly appear to be balanced and we could be witnessing examples of oppression as well as feeling oppressed ourselves by how fucked up the world has become.  What can we do?  We can use the retrograde energy of Mars in Libra to feel the oppression around us but instead of just becoming angry and destructive, move the energy into compassion for others, being a good listener to the problems and struggles of others, learning to listen to what others truly need, as well as being willing to express our own needs for help and support and being willing to receive and accept help and support from others.  Mars in Libra can correlate with us forming not only new relationships, but coming into contact with a diversity of experience from others that are different from our own experience, which in the end will help us develop a greater understanding of reality outside of our own subjective experience and perspective.  As a result, we will have the opportunity to learn how to accept and support the individual reality of others, no matter how different they may appear to be from us, or how different their background and culture is from us.  As we learn more about the relativity of truth through the perspectives on truth from different people with different opinions and values, in the end we will have the opportunity to expand our consciousness and understanding of the world in a way that will enable us to better support and give to others in need, as well as will enable us to more effectively achieve and manifest the soul purpose associated with this current Mars and Venus cycle.

hestia statue staff

Post-script:  Vesta in Libra

I may later write another post about this, but I would like to briefly mention the amazing synchronicity that at the same time Mars stationed retrograde to move back through Libra in conjunction with the North Node of the Moon, the asteroid Vesta did as well.  In addition, Ceres was also nearby at the beginning of Scorpio and Ceres will also eventually be stationing retrograde to move back into Libra by the end of March.  However, since Vesta never made it to Scorpio and turned around at the same time with Mars at the end of Libra, I feel Vesta has helped initiate our transition into this Mars retrograde in Libra that will be taking us all the way to a cardinal grand cross in April of Libra Mars, Cancer Jupiter, Aries Uranus, and Capricorn Pluto.   It is a further sign, along with Venus ruling the North Node of the Moon that Mars retrograde is conjunct, that the retrograde journey of Mars is being initiated by goddesses, including the magnetic, celestial, and earthly Aphrodite, and the focused, sacred, and independent Vesta.  Vesta being part of this initiation means that we will be re-focusing our energy and will to experience more of our authentic self, in a space outside of relationship at times, even though Vesta in Libra enjoys relationship as all celestial spheres do in the sign of the scales. Even if we are in a relationship we will be re-focusing and re-establishing our presence inside of it, as Vesta is an independent goddess who belongs to no man and does not make herself dependent upon anyone else. As Demetra George has taught, Vesta “teaches the wisdom that periodic retreat from others in order to cleanse and regenerate the self can lead to a clarity of vision and purpose” (Asteroid Goddesses, p. 34). Vesta’s presence at the initiation of a Mars retrograde that happened in a square to Venus also means we will be re-focusing our sexual nature and desire, including sexual issues around fear, projection, repression, judgment, sin, sacredness, and sexual discernment in choice of partners.  Vesta in Libra carries with her all of the issues associated with Libra I have previously mentioned here in connection with Mars, but Vesta in particular has a gift for focus.  As a result she will help us focus to a greater extent on our soul intention through the inverted movement of Mars within us, and eliminate what is not in alignment with our soul purpose in our relationships, self, and life.

References

Baignent, Michael. (1994).  From the Omens of Babylon:  Astrology and Ancient Mesopotamia.  Penguin Arkana.

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

Green, Jeffrey Wolf. (2009).  Pluto Volume II:  The Soul’s Evolution through Relationships. The Wessex Astrologer.