Capricorn Solar Eclipse: the Holly and the Axe

Gawain_and_the_Green_Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Solar Eclipse in Capricorn

Once upon a Christmas time in Camelot, the court of King Arthur was filled with feasting, fellowship, carousing, and carolling. The noble knights of the Round Table were gathered along with the most lovely of ladies, surrounded by the most lavish of Yuletide decor, with the luminous Queen Guinevere and King Arthur at the center. As the revelry settled for the first sumptuous serving of supper to be served, a massive, mighty, and mountainous man appeared in the doorway, eclipsing the merrymaking with awe and amazement in all- for this fearsome figure was “entirely emerald green” in every detail of his handsome features. All of his garments were green, with green flowing hair and a green bushy beard growing down his body- even his horse was pure green in color, with a green mane groomed with gold that had been tinseled, tied, and twisted with beads and chiming bells. “His look was lightning bright / said those who glimpsed its glow. / It seemed no man there might / survive his violent blow.”

Yet the green knight wore no helmet nor armor, held no sword nor shield, “but held in one hand a sprig of holly – of all the evergreens the greenest ever – and in the other hand held the mother of all axes.” The green knight demanded audience with their sovereign, and asked King Arthur to gracefully grant his wish for a game of guts. The green knight called for one present to step forward and strike him with his axe one stroke and then be struck by him in return. After King Arthur gripped the axe while the green knight calmly awaited his attack, the King’s virtuous nephew Gawain intervened and took responsibility for the daring deed. Gawain swore an oath that after striking the green knight with a blow he would be struck in return in twelve months’ time by the green knight, and then proceeded in one clean stroke to cut off the green knight’s head. As the separated head rolled across the floor, the blood covered and headless green knight stoically snatched it off the ground as he swung himself into the saddle of his steed. He held up his severed head which opened its eyelids to stare straight at Gawain and spoke a reminder of the vow he had made to receive his blow the next New Years dawn.

The late fourteenth century chivalric poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight goes on to tell the magical tale of Sir Gawain’s journey to fulfill his oath made to the green knight, a quest that serves as a mysterious test of his mettle, faithfulness, virtue, and courage. Those in pacific, mountain, and central time zones will experience the Solar Eclipse in Capricorn on the night of Christmas, while those in other time zones will experience the blackening of Sol’s light on December 26, 2019. In any case, the Capricorn Solar Eclipse occurring four days after the Solstice is a dramatic initiation into a tumultuous year that will feature another Solar Eclipse at the Cancer Solstice and will end with the epochal conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius on the Capricorn Solstice of 2020. The rise and fall of collective fortunes that will correspond with the extremely volatile astrology of 2020 will test the character and determination of each of us, calling forth our heroic capacities, tender compassion, and creative potency. It will be a year necessitating that we engage the world as active creative agents and receptive responders to those in need, allowing ourselves to be reshaped through participating in the changes to come.

Druids_Trilithon_by_Blake_relief-etching_British_Museum

by William Blake

“There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark.”  — Aragorn, son of Arathorn

Since ancient times across many cultures, eclipses have been portrayed as a great dragon consuming our Sun and Moon, with the North Node of the Moon symbolizing its head and the South Node its tail. Like the ouroboros imagery of a dragon devouring its own tail in alchemy which mirrors the dissolution of nature that seeds new forms, the dark void of eclipses function as a fertile matrix which can suddenly unleash shifts in storylines we had not been prepared for. Realities that had been hidden from our perception can arise forcibly into our awareness, and in the weeks surrounding eclipses there can be an intensification of forms and relationships entering and leaving our lives.

Since the Capricorn Solar Eclipse is aligned with the tail of the dragon, the headless Ketu, there will be an emphasis on the sacrifice of making the changes sacred, releasing fixations and being willing to enter the mysterious unknown. Rather than focus on expansive new growth, themes such as releasing, purifying, emptying, cleansing, resting, meditating, and letting go will be favored. As the dissolution of the eclipse loosens the binding of the innumerable strands of historical and cultural conditioning bound up within and without, we may reforge our presence and knowing when immersed in stillness, just as the Sun recently stood still at the Solstice.

The December 25/26 eclipse is the second and final solar eclipse to occur in Capricorn during the 2018 – 2020 period of the transiting lunar nodes occupying the signs of Cancer and Capricorn. The previous Solar Eclipse in Capricorn was on January 5, 2019 and there will be one more powerful solar eclipse along the Cancer-Capricorn axis six months from now on June 21, 2020. While you may be familiar and used to working with whatever themes in your life have arisen with the eclipses and nodes moving through Cancer and Capricorn in your nativity, a new chapter filled with new storylines will commence as the Capricorn Solar Eclipse initiates a lunar month in which the midpoint features a Lunar Eclipse in Cancer on January 10 followed by the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn on January 12.

In part due to Capricorn being the sign of the Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere, it was associated in ancient text with the ascent of souls following death to the realm of the immortals and ancestors. Porphyry in On the Caves of the Nymphs described Capricorn as the southern gate that “dissolves life” and “sends it upward to the heat of a divine nature.” Capricorn is the nocturnal home of Saturn, inwardly directed zodiacal terrain that favors creation through contraction and pulling back to make empty space for new growth to germinate and take root. As Saturn approaches its exact conjunction with Pluto in the next three weeks, even those wishing to focus on external achievement are likely to become grounded by the gravity of graveyards and confronted with personal issues and lessons that need to be accepted and addressed rather than resisted. Make whatever space is needed to contemplate the darkness within, listening for the message you need to receive rather than your preconceived notion of what you want to hear.

“Down in the underworld where western logic comes from, where the roots of earth and water and fire and sky merge into a single whole, the entire world as we think we know it with all its imaginary distinctions and divisions disappears. Everything we cling on to, everything we hold important, is gone.”

— Peter Kingsley, Catafalque

Kazuki Yasuo black sun

Kazuki Yasuo Black Sun

“All around him, for as far as he could see, lay a rough land strewn with rocks, with not a drop of water, nor a blade of grass. Colorless, with no light to speak of. No sun, no moon or stars. No sense of direction, either. At a set time, a mysterious twilight and a bottomless darkness merely exchanged places. A remote border on the edge of consciousness. At the same time, it was a place of strange abundance.”

— Haruki Murakami (born with Sun and Jupiter in Capricorn) from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Year of Pilgrimage

Jupiter in Capricorn is closely conjoining the eclipse by one degree, and so is seeding the eclipse with its growth-inducing influence and significations. The Capricorn Solar Eclipse marks the end of Jupiter’s synodic cycle, as it will enter the heart of the Sun on the following day to be regenerated with the creative potency of the Sun’s stellar light. It is therefore an old, elder Jupiter ready to fall into death and rebirth that is meeting with the Solar Eclipse, another indicator that promotes investing time in reflecting on the lessons you have learned and the beliefs you have shed in the past year. Like Pan, the wild nature deity who is part of Capricorn’s constellational mythos, Jupiter in Capricorn can function as our shepherd through the fertile darkness of the eclipse, reshaping and organizing our consciousness while attuning with the flux and reordering of Nature and the natural cycles of change coming into form around us. Inspiration may be found through engaging with the constraints of our circumstances rather than through pushing for expansion.

At the same time that the Moon is conjoining with the Sun and its own South Node in Capricorn, Jupiter is also approaching a conjunction with the South Node of Jupiter in Capricorn while Saturn and Pluto are also coming together in close proximity with the South Nodes of Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn. This means that the orbital arcs of the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto will all be pouring down across the ecliptic at the time of the Capricorn Solar Eclipse, saturating our collective field with the putrefaction of the entire archetypal arcs of their past cycles. Not only can we no longer escape our past history at this time, it will be also be a vital responsibility to acknowledge the multiplicity of historical streams of oppression and resiliency feeding into the rising river of collective crises flooding across global civilizations. While we will be motivated to look toward a future of new intentions as 2019 ends and 2020 begins, we also need to look backward for what can be learned from not only our own past but from the legacy of our ancestors as well.

“Our modern democratic age has manufactured a personal spirituality to meet everyone’s needs which is absolutely guaranteed to be calm, sweet, peaceful, polite, positive, comfortable, reassuring, unthreatening . . . But this happens to be almost the exact opposite of the ancient understanding – which is that spirituality and the sacred offer the profoundest challenge to our complacency, as well as presenting the most radical threat . . . truth was seen as something extremely painful, even impossible, for most people to bear.

Truth, or alêtheia, had its own mythology that confronts humans with the grim but glorious reality of what they are “from the beginning”: unimaginably glorious because of their boundless inner potential and unthinkably grim because of the overwhelming responsibilities such a forgotten potential brings.

This is why it- or she, because Truth often appears as a goddess- was always intimately involved in the superhuman effort to stop that process of forgetting. Her role, above all, was to preside over the supremely urgent task of remembering not what happened yesterday or even last month but what happened in the distant past that shaped this present moment and will also produce our future.”

— Peter Kingsley, Catafalque

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Kalighat painting (19th Century) of Kali dancing on the corpse of Shiva

Saturn in Capricorn rules the eclipse while applying toward a conjunction with Pluto it will complete on January 12, two days after the forthcoming Lunar Eclipse in Cancer. Though the close balsamic phase between Saturn and Pluto has been a pivotal influence during the past year, there will be a deeper level of impact felt as they finally complete their long anticipated union. The multivalent significations unleashed in collective events during hard alignments between Saturn and Pluto (conjunction, square, opposition) were deftly described by Richard Tarnas in his tome Cosmos and Psyche. Tarnas described periods of historical darkness and gravity requiring moral courage from individuals in the face of severe collective events full of the “morally problematic aspects of human existence” and “the end to naïveté and inflated privilege.” Tarnas also gave a compelling list of artistic masterpieces produced during Saturn Pluto alignments representative of its archetypal meaning, such as The Trial, Moby Dick, Frankenstein, 1984, The Stranger, The Scarlet Letter, Death of a Salesman, Crime and Punishment, The Waste Land, The Grapes of Wrath, The Rite of Spring, Heart of Darkness, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. As shown in these artworks, during periods of Saturn Pluto we must encounter the dark underbelly of civilization and a reckoning with humanity’s aspirations for power.

With Ceres, Mercury, and the Sun also conjoining the coming together of Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn, it is clear from current events how their significations are combining with Saturn and Pluto around themes such as environmental destruction and the plundering of natural resources for human consumption, grave moralistic questions concerning the use of technology and its interface with global power structures, women’s reproductive rights, as well as coming to terms with historical oppression of women and many other identities and cultures by those representing dominant cultural identities. As the volatile force of eclipse season will be mixing with the union of Saturn and Pluto, although the collective crises we are facing feel overwhelming we also have the opportunity to take responsibility for doing our part in reshaping the world that will be taking form between now and next year when Jupiter and Saturn move through their conjunctions with Pluto to initiate their new cycle in Aquarius on December 21, 2020.

The Nobel Prize winning novelist Olga Tokarczuk, who was born with Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius, recently gave a powerfully penetrating acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Literature that evoked the quality of time we find ourselves in:

“The climate emergency and the political crisis in which we are now trying to find our way, and which we are anxious to oppose by saving the world have not come out of nowhere. We often forget that they are not just the result of a twist of fate or destiny, but of some very specific moves and decisions―economic, social, and to do with world outlook (including religious ones). Greed, failure to respect nature, selfishness, lack of imagination, endless rivalry and lack of responsibility have reduced the world to the status of an object that can be cut into pieces, used up and destroyed.

That is why I believe I must tell stories as if the world were a living, single entity, constantly forming before our eyes, and as if we were a small and at the same time powerful part of it.”

Olga Tokarczuk’s Nobel Prize for Literature speech on 12/07/19 translated by by Jennifer Croft and Antonia Lloyd-Jones

2 of pentacles

2 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

Capricorn 1 Decan

The Capricorn Solar Eclipse falls in the first decan of Capricorn, associated with the Two of Pentacles tarot card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The image of a  juggler dancing while holding the ouroboric motion of two pentacles, against a backdrop of a pivotal sea change, embodies the capacity of the first decan of Capricorn to penetrate into structural forms and impact matter from the underlying fabric of reality. Tarot author T. Susan Chang recently posted an insightful article on the first face of Capricorn, calling it “The Difference Engine.” Chang described one of its lessons being that since “the only constant is change” we need to find the opportunities available to make our own luck, but that simultaneously it also offers greater ease communicating with the past and with ancestors while reconciling “the turn toward light and life in the midst of the darkest hour.”

Fittingly for a South Node Solar Eclipse taking place in this face, Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Headless Body” to the first face of Capricorn. Coppock stated that the first face of Capricorn “entails the descent of the spirit into the body of the world itself,” bringing consciousness to deeper and deeper levels of matter to “set those powers in motion” as well as “use the higher, logoic functions to guide them along their course.” Coppock analyzed the ancient attribution by Ibn Ezra of a bestial man carrying a cattle prod to this face, suggesting it reveals the capacity of this decan to not only set material forces in motion but also steer them in order to create change such as new work of art or sources of sustenance.

The “atavistic consciousness” Coppock described within the first decan of Capricorn that “descends into the natural world with ease” connects well with the ancient Hellenistic text 36 Airs of the Zodiac attributing the ancestor of earth and body-based healers, Asklepios, to the first face of Capricorn. Asclepius, son of the Sun god Apollo and a mortal woman, is a compelling figure in relation to the Capricorn Solar Eclipse, for he embodies a centered focus which integrates all surrounding realms, both material and immaterial. Rooted in Earth, Asclepius is a healer who emerges in times of crisis and cathartic change, reverent of Nature, in balance with masculinity and femininity, and reliant upon ritualistic incubation to find healing cures. Asclepius is associated with healing through dreams, an incubatory process that reveals the connection between external symptoms and the underlying unconscious. With his hermetic staff planted in the ground, Asclepius weaves together meaning from celestial and chthonic realms through discernment centered in his sensual nature, applied to his work through the type of disciplined spiritual practice which pleases the ruler of the eclipse, Saturn in Capricorn.

Jupiter is the ruler of the first face of Capricorn, and since Jupiter is not only transiting through the first face of Capricorn but is also closely conjoining the Solar Eclipse, the meaning of this decan will be noticeable in personal and collective events. Walking with the tender awareness of Asclepius for not only the interconnectedness of our surroundings but also the visions of new forms we can churn from subconscious depths will be a way to navigate the chaotic changes that will be rippling through our global collective. Since periods of Saturn and Pluto aligning correspond with an intensification of collective scape-goating and projecting dark, unrecognized material onto others, the capacity of Asclepius for exploring one’s shadow and accepting one’s inner multiplicity through contemplation of dream images as well as passing omens and synchronicities will be vital skills to develop.

The connection of Asclepius to the first face of Capricorn is further interesting in the context of Robert Hand’s work demonstrating that through precession of the solstices that the Capricorn Solstice point in recent years has passed through the hand of the Serpent Holder (a figure often connected with Asclepius) in the Ophiuchus constellation that is holding the Serpent. Hand has connected the meaning of this alignment in current events with ecological disasters and crises in which nature rebels against human attempts to tame or control it for power and resources. Hand has stressed this alignment indicates the critical necessity for coming to terms with climate change and human consumption of natural resources for energy.

While there are no easy answers to fix the myriad collective issues demanding attention, individually we can each take steps to nurture reservoirs of inner strength to draw upon when needed in response to difficulties or when devising creative solutions. The Capricorn Solar Eclipse initiating our entrance into the new decade of the 2020s serves as a fitting omen for the new year bringing to a close an old way of being while intimations of a reordering to help shape comes into greater awareness. As the Solar Eclipse conjoining the South Node suggests letting go of old patterns, we can shed and release any beliefs we have been holding or actions we have been taking that are not aligned with our values and do not serve the greater good.  Make the time and space to explore your inner darkness, listening for the gifts you possess to cultivate and share with the wider world. Be open to connecting with creative collaborators with whom you can combine skills and strengths while mutually supporting one another. Claim the courage to creatively actualize more of your potential in 2020 and help make the changes you wish to see happen.

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References

Armitage, Simon. (2018). Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Revised edition. Faber & Faber Ltd.

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

Hand, Robert. (2014). The Precession of the Capricorn Solstice and the Importance of 2017 to Humanity. The Mountain Astrologer. October/November 2014 issue.

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

Murakami, Haruki. (2014). Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. Translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel.  Alfred A. Knopf.

Porphyry, On the Cave of the Nymphs  (1917) English translation by Thomas Taylor.

 

Capricorn Full Moon: Mars Stations Retrograde in Aquarius

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Felix Vallotton (1909) La nuit, effet de lune

Full Moon in Capricorn

The Full Moon in Capricorn which arises on June 27 or 28, depending upon your time zone, has a ripeness best enjoyed by those who possess resilient persistence and can maintain diligent insistence on doing what must be done. Saturn and Mars take center stage at the Capricorn Full Moon, the planets who have borne the roles of malefic and trouble making nemesis with dramatic flair within the history of astrology. Yet there is also the ancient line of thought that essentially all of the planets are holy agents of the world soul who always bring opportunities for developing and refining our nature. It’s true that Saturn can open us to transcendent insight, while Mars can incite the courage needed for dynamic reform and inspired creation. However, much of the time we experience growth through hardship, letting go, surrendering, or needing to overcome overwhelming odds. The Capricorn Full Moon signifies a time in which challenging difficulties are highlighted rather than unobstructed flow. The Moon’s fullness irradiates how to work with energy levels within the stinking decay of societal structures and promising movements of fresh innovation.

The Full Moon in Capricorn illuminates a reality check on deep, underlying shifts beginning to take shape in our lives. The Full Moon is in the earthen, inwardly directed home of Saturn and forms an exact conjunction with the ringed planet as it culminates in full light. This creates an intensely Saturnine lunation, and while Saturn may generally make you think of the hardening and solidifying of forms that resist change, there is another astrological event occurring simultaneously that signifies a monumental alteration of life narratives. This is because a day before the Full Moon the fiery red planet Mars stations retrograde in Aquarius, the airy, outwardly directed home of Saturn that readily formulates plans to structure future vision. The Full Moon uniting with Saturn thus brings a fully lit glare of Kronos to the changes underway, whether they are already occurring at a rapid pace or instead are slowly showing initial signs of deep-rooted modification.

The Full Moon peaks less than sixteen hours after Saturn forms an exact opposition with the Sun, demarcating the heart of its retrograde period (Saturn is retrograde from April 17 – September 6) when Saturn is at its brightest phase as an Evening Star as well as closest to us in orbit. Saturn has been in Capricorn for over six months now, and so with reflection the correlations within both collective and personal experiences will become clear. Saturn in its nocturnal home brings the gravity of stone to decision making, and so we can feel the weight of our choices more tangibly, more readily sense the realistic amount of time and space we have to work with. Saturn in Capricorn demands responsible and patient persistence, yet its cardinal and earthy nature also opens the potential to source foundational change in the sustenance of our life.  When we work with Saturn in Capricorn while detaching from the dogma of how we have been conditioned to believe things must be, the nourishment of imaginative visioning allows us to actively work with the Capricorn gift for molding materials in new and improved ways.

Saturn receiving the spotlight of the Full Moon is ideal for looking back over the course of the past six months and contemplating what’s been working well and not so well in your co-participation with its plodding course through the sign of the Sea Goat. While many people appear to react in habitual, unmindful ways to the changing currents of life, we all possess the capacity for the self awareness necessary to break ourselves free from past patterns of behavior and open ourselves to direct engagement in the moment. As the Saturnine light of the Full Moon blossoms while Mars stations retrograde, it will be easy to feel overwhelmed by past and current sources of stress. If possible, find ways to detach in protective space in order to access the gift the lunation offers for reformulating strategies for the next steps to take in future plans.

georgia okeeffe a storm

Georgia O’Keeffe (1922) A Storm

Mars stationing retrograde is a big deal because the retrograde movement of Mars is the most rare of all the planets, occurring roughly every twenty six months or so. Furthermore, Mars moving retrograde in Aquarius has been the most rare of all Mars retrograde transits in the recent era, as we have not experienced a Mars retrograde in Aquarius since 1971. This particular Mars retrograde in Aquarius is even more volatile than normal for a few reasons. For one, Uranus in Taurus is in range of a catalytic, change inducing square aspect with Mars, ramping up the unexpected quality of martial change immeasurably. In addition, Mars is stationing in conjunction with the South Node of the Moon in Aquarius as we enter a season of lunations aligned with the transiting lunar nodes- this results in three eclipses in a row following the Capricorn Full Moon (Partial Solar Eclipse in Cancer on July 12; Total Lunar Eclipse in Leo on July 27; Partial Solar Eclipse in Leo on August 11). Weaving all of this together, we can know for certainty that more than the normal amount of unpredictable change  is on the horizon. As a result, the Full Moon aligning with Saturn is a gift in terms of digging into the roots of our situation to assess the state of our foundation.

Life narratives shift when Mars moves retrograde, pivotal figures enter our lives while other relationships fade away. Unlike the underworld retrograde movements of Mercury and Venus that involve both planets disappearing from view, Mars is brightly lit against a backdrop of starry firmament the entire time it is retrograde. In fact, Mars will be as bright during the upcoming retrograde as it has been since 2003. The wandering celestial objects such as Mars signify how we live in a world of constant flux, ceaseless death and birth; in contrast, the fixed stars that rise and set each night in the same places they have for ages past signify enduring aspects of the eternal. The glowing redness of Mars will be bound to our night sky as it appears to move backward through our zodiac, providing the opportunity to turn away from passing fancies and toward our inner realm of deep desire resonant with the eternal world of soul. Mars retrograde is less effective for the usual, status quo operations of the consensus, more resonant with a turn toward the unusual, irrational, unexplainable places where passions are visceral, purely sourced from within rather than projected based upon external rewards.

Mars in Aquarius is a fascinating sign for the red planet to station retrograde in while conjoining the transiting South Node of the Moon. Mars is an outsider in Aquarius, and this unique environment for Mars to operate within cultivates a martial force like nowhere else.   Mars can be fierce 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. Mars retrograde in Aquarius can ultimately aid us in discerning how to catalyze necessary growth through detaching from consuming, subjective emotions like anger and frustration. Its union with the South Node of the Moon brings the opportunity to burn off old martial identities on the fires of purification. However, we also need to remain aware of the shadow side of Mars in Aquarius that can become overly detached from the consequences of its actions due to the fervor of its idealistic convictions. While we will need to have the awareness to cool it down when rising inner heat is leading us into unnecessary conflict, our relationships and community will also need us to maintain a heart-centered connection with what needs to be done and who needs to be protected.

Aquarius is the sign of the Water Bearer who carries and shares the enlivening water of consciousness that nourish humanitarian impulses. With Mars retrograde, the water poured throughout the collective will be dissolving fixed structures and opening spaces within the fields of power for new voices to emerge within a state of rearrangement and reformulation of dynamics. Moreover, with Mars wrapped up intensely with Uranus in Taurus during its retrograde, its more likely than normal that rapidly developing, nonlinear revelations will emerge that can be challenging to integrate into our sense of personal identity as well as work with in the established structures of our life. Rather than dissociating or splitting off what feels difficult to embody or receive within surrounding circumstances, it will be important to find ways to responsibly work with the sudden Uranian insights in tangible ways, finding acceptance for how old conceptions of our identity mutate.

M.Bremner_Alder_Wolf

Alder Wolf (2012) by Marlene Seven Bremner

Aquarius hosting the opening of the Mars retrograde signifies that outsiders will take center stage, and so it is not surprising that a ramping up of debate and conflict over immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers erupted as Mars slowed down to station. The collective conflicts building now will not be resolved any time soon, and similarly we can expect that any personal conflicts arising now will also endure an extended battle before finding resolution. Aquarius is a sign known for being able to keep a steady pace of endurance, a quality we will need to integrate rather than insisting on rash, impulsive action. Aquarius is also optimal for abstract strategizing, and so as we navigate the storms brought by Mars retrograde clashing with Uranus and a season of eclipses, we can receive new ideas and solutions for old dilemmas, new questions that lead us to new answers and reframing.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the trajectory of the Mars retrograde leads it to eventually station direct at its exaltation of 28°37′ Capricorn on August 27. Mars ending its retrograde on its most exalted degree of the zodiac suggests out of all of the struggles that come about in the next several months, in some way a refinement of a more exalted martial quality may be discovered and then embodied on the other side. For the time being, it will be much more important to stay present with the task at hand rather than becoming distracted over future expectations. The stationing of Mars also has an important impact on the transit of Jupiter in Scorpio, since Jupiter is in the home of Mars and so looks to the red planet for resources. Interestingly, the Capricorn Full Moon is separating from its conjunction with Saturn and is applying toward a sextile with Jupiter retrograde in Scorpio. This is yet another sign of growth being able to be found through suffering and deep penetration into the actual reality of circumstances rather than denial over what’s really going on beneath the surface.

Jupiter is getting closer to the end of its retrograde phase at the Full Moon, eventually stationing direct during the forthcoming waning cycle of the Moon at 13º20′ Scorpio on July 10.  Mars is stationing in range of a wide square to Jupiter, and since they are occupying signs that square one another it signifies we will be going through one of our deepest dives yet into the realm of shadow with Jupiter in Scorpio. A pull into the shadow of our subconscious, revealing intimations of what we have been refusing in one way or another to acknowledge about ourselves, will be amplified further by the fact that the Mars retrograde will be taking it into extreme southern latitude relative to the ecliptic. Gary Caton has been doing innovative work with the retrograde loop patterns of Mars and at UAC 2018 gave a talk I was fortunate to attend in which he stated that when planets go into southern latitude they call us to dig deep into our subjective senses to discover how we are unconsciously acting out from our shadow. In combination with Mars also stationing in conjunction with the South Node of the Moon, we have repeated signs indicating that the greatest meaning will be found in contemplating our depths, pulling in our energy around a purifying fire we stoke to burn off the past identities and patterns we are ready to now let go of.

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Vincent Van Gogh (1888) Starry Night Over the Rhone

Not only will Mars become an extremely bright Evening Star in the midnight hour, so will all of the traditional planets be visible following the setting of the Sun as the luminous, silvery Moon rises. As the Sun sets it will be possible in some locations to view Mercury briefly in the shifting hues of twilight, while both Venus and Jupiter will be higher, brighter, and more easily seen for an extended period following sunset. Eventually both Saturn and then Mars will emerge in the night sky. There is fascinating symbolism occurring that as Venus in Leo sets on the western horizon, Mars in Aquarius will begin to rise on the eastern horizon. Taking a break from the toil of the day to attune to the starry night sky will be one available remediation strategy to help with cooling down and opening to a more reflective state of mind as the inner heat stoked by Mars retrograde intensifies.

A day after the Full Moon, Mercury will enter Leo and begin to apply toward an opposition with Mars retrograde and a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon. Mercury will form an exact opposition with Mars retrograde on July 5, and so the tension between Mercury and Mars will be intensifying until then. Mercury’s time in Leo this year is one of its most pivotal journeys of the year, for Mercury will later go through a retrograde phase in Leo at the end of July resulting in Mercury remaining in Leo until September 5. The inner desires incited by Mars retrograde can be transmitted into fiery, inspirational communication with Mercury in Leo, but as the opposition with Mars builds in the week following the Full Moon it will be necessary to remain on high alert over the potential of getting drawn into vicious and unnecessary arguments that drain energy and serve no real purpose. There will also be many necessary conflicts to engage in and courageously persist through, and within collective events there will likely be numerous examples of protest movements and fierce public debates between competing interests.

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2 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

Capricorn 1 Decan

The Full Moon illuminates the first decan of Capricorn associated with the Two of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  The image is fitting for the Saturnine Full Moon coinciding with Mars stationing retrograde, as the juggling magician set against a backdrop of a pivotal sea change embodies the capacity of Capricorn to penetrate into structural forms and impact matter from the underlying fabric of reality.  Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Headless Body” to the first face of Capricorn, stating it “entails the descent of the spirit into the body of the world itself,” bringing consciousness to deeper and deeper levels of matter to “set those powers in motion” as well as “use the higher, logoic functions to guide them along their course.”  Coppock analyzed the ancient attribution by Ibn Ezra of a bestial man carrying a cattle prod to this face, suggesting it reveals the capacity of this decan to not only set material forces in motion but also steer them in order to create change such as new work or sources of sustenance.

The “atavistic consciousness” Coppock described within the first decan of Capricorn that “descends into the natural world with ease” connects well with the ancient Hellenistic text 36 Airs of the Zodiac attributing the ancestor of earth and body-based healers, Asklepios, to the first face of Capricorn. There is also an Asclepius asteroid #4581 which at the Full Moon is forming an opposition to Uranus in Taurus and square to the stationing Aquarius Mars, at 3º11′ Scorpio.  Asclepius, son of the Sun god Apollo and a mortal woman, embodies a centered focus which integrates all surrounding realms, both material and immaterial.  Rooted in Earth, Asclepius is a healer who emerges in times of crisis and cathartic change, reverent of Nature, in balance with masculinity and femininity,  and reliant upon ritualistic incubation to find healing cures.  Asclepius is associated with healing through dreams, an incubatory process that reveals the connection between external symptoms and the underlying unconscious.  With his hermetic staff planted in the ground, Asclepius weaves together meaning from celestial and chthonic realms through discernment centered in his sensual nature, applied to his work through disciplined spiritual practice.

Jupiter is the ruler of the first face of Capricorn in the Chaldean descending rulership scheme, Saturn the ruler in the triplicity scheme. Both Jupiter and Saturn are key elements of the lunation as already mentioned, but Saturn of course is most impactful due to not only residing in its own face but also its own domicile while receiving the full light of the lunation. If we link a responsible, reverent engagement with Saturn to the noble attributes of Asclepius, we find the ultimate manner in which to navigate the chaotic changes which will be continuing to tear through our global collective in coming months. Walk with full presence, sensual awareness of the myriad fluctuations in growth and decay all around, with willingness to contemplate the synchronous meaning found in dream images as well as passing omens along one’s daily course. There are no easy answers at this time, and it will be necessary to draw upon reservoirs of inner strength to respond to emergent crises. Centering within the integrity of our own essential values, remaining open to protecting and nurturing those in need, will be ways to find the optimal path forward.

References

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