New Moon in Taurus: Plowing Fields

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Robin of Modern Times (1860) by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

Taurus New Moon

The New Moon in Taurus on May 4 initiates a new lunar cycle from the middle of Taurus, the cross quarter point of Spring in the northern hemisphere otherwise known as Beltane. Pollination, burgeoning blooming, and the steady patience and diligent tending needed for cultivating gardens intersect with magical notions of veils being thinned between our usual reality with that of fairy spirits and intermediary daimons. Whether you live in the northern or southern hemisphere, the fertility focus of Taurus and its plodding pace that savors every second of sensual satisfaction is the ground in which to plant the seeds for what you wish to cultivate in the month ahead. However, we can hear in the wind forewarnings of challenging weather and changing fortune on the horizon that demand necessary preparation. Indeed, both traditionally benefic planets, Venus and Jupiter, are involved in challenging aspects with both traditionally malefic planets, Saturn and Mars, as Sun and Moon conjoin in the sign of the Bull. Fortunately, the Taurus New Moon is making aspects that support devising a successful strategy for making sure the seeds you are planting will eventually produce a worthy harvest.

The Taurus New Moon is in range of harmonious aspects with the intense union of Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn, as well as with the imaginal potency of Neptune in Pisces. Since Saturn stationed retrograde within the week prior to the New Moon less than three degrees away from Pluto, their combined influence along with the South Node of the Moon has been forcing awareness to contend with whatever is necessary for us to confront, rather than whatever we wish we could be focusing on. This can include shadowy aspects of our subconscious or issues involving external relationships we had previously been ignoring, denying, or have been simply unaware of. Unions between Saturn and Pluto have a long historical track record of corresponding with global crisis and instability, and though Saturn and Pluto do not exactly align until January 2020, we are presently being initiated into an intensification of the tension that will be corresponding with the ending and beginning of their cycle.

As the Taurus New Moon is in a stabilizing trine aspect with the Capricorn trio, it brings the gift of making the necessary adjustments and modifications and being able to implement strategies for enduring present challenges. Since the New Moon is also in a creative sextile aspect with Neptune in Pisces, there is even something magical to be found in using common sense to address practical issues with grounded presence open to possibilities found in the moment. It will be necessary in the coming lunar cycle to actively cultivate the fertility of whatever ground we are working on and then follow through with sustained effort toward completing needed tasks. In order to access the full potential of the Taurus New Moon, however, we need to enrich our process with the full range of our imagination and creative visioning.

John_Roddam_Spencer_Stanhope_-_Thoughts_of_the_Past_-_Google_Art_Project

Thoughts of the Past (1859) by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

Venus in Aries rules the New Moon and is applying toward a square aspect with Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn as well as the transiting lunar nodes. The tension between Venus and Saturn will be building until their aspect completes on May 7, bringing Venus into a complex relationship with both Pluto as well as Jupiter in Sagittarius.  On May 9 within hours Venus will move from a flowing trine aspect with Jupiter into a catalytic square aspect with Pluto, making the week following the New Moon pivotal as the Moon increases in light. Indeed, on May 9 the Crescent Moon will be in Cancer applying toward a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon opening awareness to important future-oriented choices to make. During this time there may be difficulties and stress to handle, but these aspects also suggest we can utilize the tension for our own benefit. Keep the larger vision of what you wish to manifest in mind as you work under the pressure of these aspects, sustaining belief in being able to achieve aspirations as you simultaneously apply effort and discipline to get the job done.

Yet, focusing too much on work and what we wish to build into the structures of our life can also distract us from another important side to these crucial aspects that Venus in Aries is passing through. Part of the story involves Mercury, as in the week before the New Moon the star of Hermes crossed the same terrain and teased open our psyche to the necessary issues that Venus needs to now mediate. There will likely be a lot of unconscious material stirred up, including vital memories from our past, that need to be reflected upon and sifted through in order to glean and integrate the needed lesson. As a result we will also need to make time and space for contemplation and allowing ourselves to set aside the demands of work so we may arrive at a deeper understanding of the present dynamics at play in our life. Venus in Aries engaging the intensity of Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn suggests that while we will need to be shedding and clearing certain issues, there is also something essential and vibrant to uncover, protect and nurture within ourselves, something with a life force that will endure whatever obstacles are in the way now.

Mercury will be a key figure within the astrology of the coming month to track, as it can serve as a liminal guide through the transitions on the way. During the Taurus New Moon, Mercury in Aries is separating from a square with Pluto, a trine with Jupiter, and a mutually receptive sextile with Mars in Gemini, giving the star of Hermes a significant message to carry forward into the coming lunar cycle.  A couple of days after the New Moon on May 6, Mercury will enter Taurus and immediately begin applying toward a conjunction with Uranus in Taurus. May 6 through May 9 will be important days to pay close attention for signs of larger shifts opening up on the horizon. Mercury combined with Uranus can facilitate a liberated perspective able to receive insights that change our relationship with and understanding of our developing life narrative.  This is the first time Mercury will form an exact conjunction with Uranus in Taurus and so will likely bring additional clarity to whatever life events have been volatized by Uranus in Taurus.

kurt seilgmann knight in armor

Knight in Armor (1943) by Kurt Seligmann

Yet another dramatic aspect central to the dynamics of the Taurus New Moon is an applying opposition between Mars in Gemini with Jupiter in Sagittarius that will complete on the day after the lunation. The opposition between Mars and Jupiter is dynamic, propulsive and carries a double edge sword of inciting action while demanding caution toward pride that comes before a fall. The flames of ideological warfare and conflict will be stoked underneath the friction of Mars polarizing Jupiter, and so in personal realms be aware of when it is better to walk away and de-escalate conflict before it becomes more amplified. There may be arrogant accusers and cocky crusaders to contend with, and in the end the tension of this opposition can help clarify what beliefs we hold are worth fighting for and rising to defend and protect.

The opposition between Mars and Jupiter can also incite breakthrough decisions to move beyond previous boundaries, barriers or restraints. The liberating potential of their tension will be increased on May 6 once Mercury enters Taurus and initiates an emancipatory conjunction with Uranus that will complete on May 8.  While we will need to be careful of excessive actions and hubris, there will also be important lessons to learn from the experience of taking a leap to go after what we want during this time. Rather than passively surrendering to the intensity of the other astrological aspects previously mentioned, the opposition between Mars and Jupiter will encourage being an active co-creator with the catalyzed dynamics.

The Taurus New Moon is building toward a passionate and emotional Full Moon in Scorpio on May 18 that will have a Dionysian impact of loosening and dislodging.  Before the waxing light of the Moon becomes full, Mars in Gemini will receive Venus in Aries through a creatively dynamic sextile aspect on May 14. This is one day before Venus will enter its home of Taurus and Mars will enter is fall of Cancer on May 15, and so the sextile aspect between Venus and Mars will form at the final degrees of Aries and Gemini. There will be stress and tension present to manage within the surrounding astrology, but the receptive sextile between Mars and Venus holds the potential of using the friction for innovative creative manifestation. Work initiated during the Taurus New Moon may receive a propulsive jolt of development as Venus and Mars come into relationship in the middle of the month.

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6 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

Taurus 2 Decan

The New Moon in Taurus will be seeded in the fertile darkness of the second decan of Taurus, associated with the Six of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image we witness a mercantile figure carrying scales of balance in his left hand, while dispensing gold coins with his right hand to figures kneeling on the ground with tattered blankets begging for money.  The Six of Pentacles card is typically associated with giving and receiving on the material plane, whether that be through monetary sources or tactile, healing touch.  The unifying theme is that there is receiving found in the giving, and giving found in the receiving; the image of the scales could further be interpreted as signifying a sense of internal balance and authenticity in the process.  Through inner harmony transmitted through collaborative exchanges with others, great success and productivity can be achieved in the material realm. This is a key concept to bring into the meaning found with the New Moon in Taurus, as reaching out for support from others, as well as reaching out to support others, can bring us exactly what we need to endure present challenges.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Linga-Yoni” to the second face of Taurus, bridging images of “procreative unions” and “wanton fertilization” with the practice of virtuous action. Notably, Coppock advised that the matters generated in this face “must be attended to carefully and consistently,” as “dedication must join fecundity and passions to complete the picture this face provides” (p. 75).  Indeed, the fertile potential of the darkened Moon in Taurus is evident as the Moon rules the second face of Taurus, giving the Moon essential dignity through face, exaltation, and triplicity.

The Hellenistic text 36 Airs ascribed the Horai to the second decan of Taurus, a trinity of goddesses of the seasons and natural cycles of time who are the daughters of Zeus and Themis, goddess of divine law and order. Diodorus of Sicily wrote in the 1st century BC that each of the “Horai was given a responsibility named after her for the ordering and arranging of life for the greatest benefit of mankind” and “furnishing a prosperous life” through “lawfulness {eunomia}, justice {dike}, and peace {eirene}.” In keeping with the Taurean metaphor of cultivating crops, the Horai were worshipped by those planting and tending their field of harvest in alignment with the rising and setting of stars. The presence of the Horai with the New Moon in Taurus suggests the wisdom of knowing the right time and season for action. Within the darkness of the New Moon, let yourself let go of the plans whose time is not now, while mobilizing the force of your conviction and integrity behind those goals whose time have arrived.

References

Anthology of Classical Myth: Primary Sources in Translation. (2004). Edited and translated by S.M. trzaskoma, R.S. Smith, and S. Brunet. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

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

 

 

May 9 Lecture for Washington State Astrological Association

WSAA Mercury lecture image

The Light and Shadow of Mercury in the Secondary Progressed Chart

Thursday 9 May 2019

7:30 pm

For those in the Seattle area, I’ll be giving a talk for the Washington State Astrological Association (WSAA) about the meaning of Mercury in the Secondary Progressed Chart on Thursday, May 9. The talk begins at 7:30 pm and will end at 9 pm. Click here for more information about how to order tickets as well as become a member of the WSAA.

The main focus of the talk is illustrating how to break down Mercury’s movement within the secondary progressed chart into different phases of its synodic cycle, similar to how Dane Rudhyar developed his lunation phase model using secondary progressions. For example, we will be exploring the meaning of having Mercury by secondary progressions direct as a Morning Star, invisible under the beams of the Sun, or stationing retrograde as an Evening Star.

I gave this talk at the United Astrology Conference (UAC) in 2018 and it was well received. I heard from many people afterward that it changed the way they work with the secondary progressed chart for the better and gave them a powerful new tool to use in consultations. For those who do not live in the Seattle area, I have a recording of my UAC lecture available to purchase from my site under the “Store” category above for $14. I will also send you a copy of the slideshow presentation if you order the talk.

Lecture Description:

The changeable nature of Mercury is found in its synodic cycle and its shifts between being direct and retrograde.  The meaning of Mercury’s cycles will be applied to the secondary progressed chart, where Mercury’s movement across a lifetime demarcates vital periods of personal development.

Gray will explain how to interpret the shift of progressed Mercury from being direct to retrograde and vice versa, and what to pay attention to in relation to the natal chart.

Meetings for the Washington State Astrological Association are held at the Puget Sound Yacht Club located at 2321 N Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98103.

In addition, the NORWAC conference in Seattle is coming at the end of May in the Seattle area. I will be speaking at NORWAC this year, and so if you are coming to the conference I  hope to see you there!

Libra Full Moon: Balance in the Bending

Notre Dame North Rose Window

North Rose Window, Notre Dame Cathedral

Full Moon in Libra

The Full Moon in Libra on April 19, 2019 brings illumination as we arrive at a crossroads. We have a choice of which direction to follow, a choice of whose guidance to follow, a choice to push forward with ambitious initiative or to pause in contemplation, incubating recent insights before taking new action. The Libra Full Moon culminates at the final degree of the Scales, resulting in its waxing light building across the entirety of Libra as it forms a volatile square aspect with the lunar nodes as well as the shadowy conjunction of Saturn and Pluto. The Libra Full Moon will dramatically amplify chaotic forces of change already set in motion during the past week in which the fiery Sun in Aries also formed a disruptive square aspect with Saturn, Pluto, and the lunar nodes. Libra is a cardinal air sign of dynamic change oscillating between extremes that calls us to find balance in the center of its vortex, arranging elements of space and time as needed to find a sense of harmony within forces of discord. Fortunately, Jupiter in Sagittarius is in a harmonious sextile aspect with the lunation, with the retrograde motion of Jupiter prodding us to go within to cohere understanding.

Once the Full Moon peaks at the final degree of Libra, its lunar light will illuminate the  beginning of Scorpio and then apply immediately to an opposition with Uranus in Taurus. In addition, the day after the lunation on April 20 after the Sun enters Taurus it will immediately begin applying toward a conjunction with Uranus. The impact of the lunar opposition and solar union with Uranus can coincide with rapid acceleration of developments or propulsive inner forces making it feel like there is no choice but to take a certain action or approach to situations. As a result the more we can take time and space to center and find as much inner balance as possible, the better we can adjust to whatever becomes activated by Uranus in Taurus in the days following the peak of the lunation’s full light. Uranus in Taurus opposing the Moon and then conjoining the Sun can also correlate with innovative insights that suddenly lead to a solution to difficulties or to an ingenious idea to improve whatever we have been working on.

The Libra Moon forming a square to the North Node of the Moon in Cancer and South Node of the Moon in Capricorn means that it is at its northern bending, its maximum peak of northern latitude within its orbital cycle. This is a dynamic point of volatile change in the Moon’s orbit in which it reaches its greatest height to then descend back toward the ecliptic where its orbit intersects with Earth’s orbit. Demetra George in her tome Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice wrote that “the Moon at the bending suggests both a state of objective awareness between the lunar body and solar soul, but can also indicate the potential for disassociation and lack of connection” (p. 354). Dane Rudhyar in The Planetary and Lunar Nodes wrote that when the Moon forms a square with its own nodes its “lunar function operates with a minimum degree of focalization in earth-nature and in all bio-psychic organisms.” Rudhyar continued that since the Moon at its northern bending “is as far withdrawn from the Earth as she can be,” that the Moon is also “most active in her own sphere” (p. 23).

The astrological volatility stirred up by the Libra Full Moon is interesting considering that it is occurring in the fourteenth Lunar Mansion known as Al Simak (“The Unarmed”) which centers around the fixed star Spica. Donna Woodwell has ascribed the image of “The Harvest” to this mansion, writing that it is about “separating the wheat from the chaff,” overcoming fear in order to end, leave, or move on from relationships and circumstances that are not fulfilling or delivering what we need. Chris Warnock in Mansions of the Moon described the Al Simak mansion as being about breaking apart “restrictive or inappropriate bonds,” and that while we need to be “wary of the impulse to fight with those whose temperament is opposite to our own,” this mansion of Spica “might also indicate that we need to remove ourselves from an uncomfortable situation that goes against our nature.”

Thus rather than impulsively rushing ahead with plans during the time around the Libra Full Moon, it can be best used to create protected personal space for reflecting upon one’s place within changing material circumstances. Listen to messages from the environment and the inner guidance you receive in moments of grace in order to adjust and make modifications as needed. Since Libra is the outwardly directed, airy home of Venus, it can also be a powerful time for creative brainstorming and experimenting with ways to further develop projects especially since Uranus in Taurus is involved in catalyzing the lunation’s force. Be open to looking at things from a completely different perspective, liberated from previous conceptions.

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Earliest Rose Window of Notre Dame Cathedral, west facade

Venus in Pisces rules the Libra Full Moon only a degree past her exact exaltation degree. Thus Venus in Pisces is on her throne of exaltation and capable of facilitating soothing self care and imaginative, inventive creativity in any art. Venus in Pisces is forming a quincunx aspect with the Libra Full Moon, suggesting the importance of finding ways to connect our creative ideas with the actual needs of our community. Rather than self centeredly focusing on whatever we think is the most interesting way to do things, instead bring the exalted status of Venus in Pisces into devising ways to make ideas helpful to others in practical ways that can make a difference. As we are also at the beginning of a new Venus and Neptune cycle, there could otherwise be a tendency for Venus in Pisces under a Libra Moon to put imagination into abstract conceptions that never fully materialize in reality.

Venus leaves her exaltation of Pisces to enter Aries, the fiery home of Mars, the day after the Full Moon on April 20. Venus in Aries will be ruled by Mars in the swift air sign of Gemini, promoting creativity in arts and following wherever curiosity guides us.  Unlike Pisces where Venus exalts, Aries is not comfortable zodiacal terrain for Venus to traverse in terms of indulging in the pleasures of Venus. Instead, the fire of Aries pushes Venus to claim and assert independence, take bold action in pursuit of desires, and find ways to bring people together over inspirational ideas that speak truth to power. Under the influence of Mars in Gemini, Venus in Aries will excel at multi-tasking and can wield its fire to cut through the multiple perspectives stirred up by Mars in Gemini in order to coalesce a direct creative expression.

Notre Dame cathedral rose window dageurreotype

Notre Dame Cathedral Rose Window daguerreotype (1841) by Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey

Casting an imposing shadow across the Libra Full Moon is the intensifying union between Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn. Both Pluto and Saturn will station retrograde by the end of April, with Pluto stationing retrograde on April 24 and Saturn stationing retrograde on April 29. The south node of the Moon has already passed over Pluto and will be forming a conjunction with Saturn as it stations retrograde at the end of April. When planets station, their significations saturate the astrological landscape: thus Pluto in particular is looming large over the Libra Full Moon. Rick Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche linked the archetypal impact of Pluto in mundane events with the mythic archetype of Dionysus, as it carries an eruptive life force that cannot be resisted, shattering and loosening structures and beliefs that had been bringing a sense of security.

When Pluto erupts from the depths, transmutation is in process and as new forms arise and old forms break apart, we need to allow ourselves to also let go of the way things have been in order to reorient with the changing forces taking shape. The union of Pluto, Saturn, and the South Node of Capricorn is particularly challenging due to the emphasis Capricorn has on the ancient, the traditional, the structures and beliefs that have endured across time and the figures who have gathered strength and skill through a wealth of experience. On the one hand we need to recover and cultivate the aspects of our myriad civilizations that bring stability and order in ways that meet the needs of people, yet on the other hand numerous aspects of the old order also must now break down or decay in order to begin clearing space for new forms and structures to take shape. The tragedy of the Notre Dame cathedral catching fire in Paris reveals how gut wrenching the structural regeneration underway will be for those emotionally and spiritually invested in forms now breaking apart.

Saturn and Pluto will not form their exact conjunction until January 12, 2020 but with both of them stationing at the end of April only three degrees apart, while simultaneously conjoining the transiting South Node of the Moon in Capricorn, the end of April and beginning of May will bring an amplified initiation into the meaning of their new cycle. Making it more intense is that the heliocentric south nodes of Saturn and Pluto are in the same area of Capricorn, meaning that the movement of Saturn and Pluto around their entire orbital arc is now descending to intersect with the orbit of our Earth around the Sun. Dane Rudhyar likened this type of archetypal process we are experiencing with Saturn and Pluto to both the death and decay of the Autumn season, as well as the importance of incubating and gestating the seed that will bring forth new life. There is a sacrifice necessary, a release of what must die in order to bring forth what needs to be born. We simultaneously will be experiencing the extremes of Saturn and Pluto, the putrefaction of their poisonous toxicity as well as the empowering discipline and reordering of their more ideal significations.

Notre Dame allegory of alchemy

Allegory of Alchemy from central portal of Notre Dame Cathedral

The Libra Full Moon also brings illumination to the recent ingress of Mercury into Aries. Mercury had been in Pisces since February 10 before finally entering Aries on April 17. At the time of the Full Moon, Mercury is applying to a close conjunction with Chiron in Aries and is applying toward a mutually receptive sextile aspect with Mars in Gemini. In the past month we have had a lot happening in the signs of Pisces and Capricorn, inwardly directed signs that tend to work receptively with material at a patient pace more so than with frenetic speed. Mercury in Aries combined with Mars in Gemini will speed up events and facilitate taking direct, impactful action to shape matters that have become volatilized and ready to change.

Mercury in Aries is firmly within its Morning Star phase in which it heralds the rising Sun at dawn with its light. Mercury’s Morning Star phase resonates with being curious and explorative, reaching out for new connections and weaving new meaning and ideas together. Dane Rudhyar called this phase Promethean due to its strong capacity for foresight, and I also think of it in relation to the Magician arcanum in tarot due to its capacity for helping us reshape matters in line with our developing vision. Whatever shifts occurred for you during the long Mercury retrograde in Pisces transit that lasted through March, it is now time to integrate the lessons into your daily communication and movement through your community.  Mercury will form its exact sextile with Mars in Gemini on April 30, and so their mutually receptive relationship bears gifts to infuse into research, communication, promotion, and mercantile activities for the rest of April.

As the Moon continues to wane in light for the rest of April, Mercury will get closer each day to forming a volatile square aspect with Saturn, Pluto, and the transiting lunar nodes at the same time that Saturn and Pluto are stationing retrograde. Simultaneously, Mars in Gemini will be getting closer each day to forming a catalytic square aspect with Neptune in Pisces, becoming exact on April 27. This brings a much deeper, ineffable influence into the receptive relationship between Mercury and Mars. Mercury in Aries forming a square with Saturn, Pluto, and the lunar nodes will penetrate awareness into unconscious material  and patterns, as well as insight into the larger structural changes occurring in society. Though Mars and Mercury will want to incite action and swiftness, it will be important to make time and space to recenter in reflection, listening within to unconscious messages that can bring guidance. The influence of Mars forming a square with Neptune can bring inflation and fixation on dogmatic perspectives in some people, while for others this same influence could help unveil illusions that have been operating under the surface of perception.

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4 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Libra 3 Decan

The Full Moon in Libra culminates in the third decan of Libra associated with the Four of Swords card illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image above we see what looks to be a knight in prayer, or perhaps a sarcophagus, under a stained glass window of “PAX” or “peace.”  This image also evokes a pilgrim in meditative silence within a protected, sacred space, and likewise it can help us find our own balance at this time if we can manage to create our own space for solace in silence.  Johannes Fiebig and Evelin Burger in their book on the tarot noted symbols in the image that contrast “inner and outer issues, the abstract world and daily life, perfect ideals and limited reality.”  Within the balance of these dualities, we can sense how the figure’s positioning is like a re-balancing of our body and mind, the sword below the figure a tool to cut away the false in order to reveal our essential and genuine presence that can emerge now.

Jupiter rules the third face of Libra in the descending rulership scheme, a decan that Austin Coppock ascribed the image of “A Gyroscope” to in 36 Faces.  Coppock equated the third face of Libra with “equilibrating movement through a chaotic universe,” linking its meaning to the Four of Swords image with facing that “justice must reconcile itself to an injust world, and peace to a world riven with conflict.”  Coppock notably pointed out that earlier images associated with the third decan of Libra as found in such text as the Picatrix and Three Books of Occult Philosophy featured images of “furious indulgence” and “extremes of revelry” such as “violence, gluttony, deviant sexuality, and boisterous joy.”  If we can find balance within the wild forces moving through this decan, Coppock suggested it “allows one to see through the eye of the storm” to learn that “equipoise may be maintained in any circumstance- shelter in any storm” (p. 168-70).

The Hellenistic text the 36 Airs linked Nemesis to the third face of Libra. Austin Coppock in 36 Faces linked the presence of Nemesis in this decan to her role as “a force which restored balance to life’s chaotic wheel,” acting “to consciously correct the injustices whirl of blind forces” by “restoring right proportion.” One way Nemesis restores balance is through bringing retribution against those carried away by hubris who arrogantly act out of balance with natural forces of change. Her presence with the Libra Full Moon emphasizes the need to rebalance whatever has become out of proportion in our life. We may recognize aspects of our shadow we have been denying, or realize we have been suppressing desires that need to be accepted and cultivated. There are many crises coinciding in collective events calling for action, but in addition to playing a role in creating the change we wish to see in external events, we likewise need to bring attention to tend to the changes occurring internally.

References

Burger, Evelin & Fiebig, Johannes. (2013). The Ultimate Guide to the Rider Waite Tarot. Llewellyn Publications.

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

George, Demetra. (2019). Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice: a Manual of Traditional Techniques. Rubedo Press.

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

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

On Venus and Neptune in Pisces

Psyche disobeys by William Blake

Eros and Psyche by William Blake

“The lover carves into his soul the model of the beloved. In that way, the soul of the lover becomes the mirror in which the image of the loved one is reflected”

— Marsilio Ficino from De amore

Neptune was not known to Marsilio Ficino during the Renaissance in which he was translating ancient texts and formulating his magical astrology, except perhaps in his imagination. During 20th century astrology a concept of higher octave planets was invented in which Neptune became known as a higher octave of Venus (with Uranus as higher octave of Mercury and Pluto as higher octave of Mars). In part this has to do with Neptune signifying unconditional love as well as relating with the living soul of our greater world, feeling the interconnectedness underlying our shared field of reality. Whereas Venus places us in the pleasure of sensual reception in taste, touch, smell, colors, music, and aesthetics, her focus is centered in unifying the material of our present reality. In contrast Neptune has been linked with vaster realities such as the collective unconscious and dimensions beyond our senses and normal perceptions of time and space.

In 20th century astrology Neptune also became celebrated as a ruler of Pisces by many astrologers, to such an extent that by the end of the century it was the favored ruler among popular forms of astrology. Just as Neptune has an affinity for Pisces, Venus has been said to have her exaltation in Pisces since the most ancient days of astrology. Dorotheus of Sidon, one of the most influential Hellenistic astrologers who lived in the first century AD, wrote that planets in their exaltations “make them very illustrious and remarkable,” becoming an “authoritative figure” who can be entrusted with noble works as well as dwell with and enjoy the profits of regal endeavors. During the transit of Venus in Pisces its exalted status brings enhanced opportunities for luxuriating in sensual pleasures, soothing inner needs, and enjoying arts of all forms. When Venus and Neptune unite in Pisces, desires and reception of pleasures become amplified and otherworldly.

Since April 2011 when Neptune entered Pisces, we have been living in an interesting time period hosting unions between Venus and Neptune in Pisces. Currently they are applying toward a conjunction that will complete on April 10, 2019. Previously since Neptune entered Pisces in 2011, Venus formed a conjunction with Neptune in Pisces on 28 February 2013, 11 April 2014, 1 February 2015, 20 March 2016, 12 January 2017, and 21 February 2018. They will continue forming unions in Pisces until the final one on 27 March 2025. Amazingly, they will form their final conjunction at the very very end of Pisces at 29º53′ with Venus retrograde in 2025. Now that we have been through six of their conjunctions and are approaching the seventh, it’s worthwhile to think back upon each of these past periods of Venus and Neptune forming unions in Pisces to note what changes and realizations occurred for you within your relationships with others as well as your relationship with yourself.

The combination of Venus and Neptune in Pisces is incredibly dreamy, imaginative, and numinous. Its combination corresponds with romantic love being exalted in popular culture as the most magical of experiences. I once heard Rick Tarnas give a talk on the connections between astrology and romance in which he commented that since astrology and synchronicity are not openly acknowledged in consensus society, we end up with a heightened desire for romantic love in mainstream culture. In the materialistic consensus worldview, romantic love carries the entire magical sense of a communion between souls opening up a new universe, an opening that goes beyond the compressed isolation of the Cartesian ego toward awareness of the world soul.  Notably, Tarnas pointed out that astrology, synchronicity and romantic love all (1) have great potential for profound significance, (2) are extremely susceptible to a skeptical negation, and (3) are also susceptible to both projection and illusion.  The potential for illusion in love we find in the union between Venus and Neptune also veils the truth that if one is carrying the divine inside, it is possible for a communion of divinities to occur through romantic love in which reciprocal recognition of divinity occurs.

Tarnas noted we can further find these ideas within Carl Jung’s conception of the Self due to it being constellated by a profound romantic love involving the marriage of opposites, the cosmic marriage of the inner and the outer, the conscious and unconscious. Jung’s ideas also connect to another phenomenon associated with the combination of Venus and Neptune in astrology: projecting unconscious content into our relationships so that both relational partners become enmeshed within exchanging projections.  The book Eros and Magic in the Renaissance by Ioan Couliano described how Jung’s idea that we fall in love with our own unconscious image projected into relationships has similarities to ideas developed by Marsilio Ficino.

According to Couliano, Ficino believed in the necessity of spirit grasping external images in order for the soul to contemplate them, like bodies reflected in a mirror. The love inducing arrows shot by Eros to Ficino are like internal fire emitted through the eyes at its object of interest with a force of fascination. Ficino saw this fiery fascination as penetrating and transfiguring the object of affection, while also creating a phantasm of the beloved that takes on its own existence in the eye of the beholder, potentially leading to possession and obsession. Couliano wrote:

“Interestingly, the love object plays a secondary role in the process of establishing the phantasm: it is only a pretext, not a real presence. The true object, omnipresent, of Eros is the phantasm, which has taken permanent possession of the spiritual mirror. Now, this phantasm represents a perceived image that has gone beyond the threshold of consciousness, but the reason it has assumed such obsessional dimensions lies in the deepest part of the individual unconscious. We do not love another object, a stranger to ourselves, Ficino thinks (Amore, VI, 6) thus anticipating the analystic psychology of Carl Jung. We are enamored of an unconscious image.

Eros and Magic in the Renaissance by Ioan Couliano

Complexly, Couliano commented that the subject can graft itself onto the phantasmic image of the beloved so that the subject becomes changed into the object of their love while the object of their affection is simultaneously impacted by their projection.  When both relational partners are engaged in this process, they each end up transfigured by their reflection in the mirror of the other.  Dramatically, Couliano noted that when the object of love removes themselves from the relationship, when they remove their mirror the loss of reflection feels like a death to the subject. Couliano concluded, “after knocking hopelessly at the door of the other’s eyes, this Narcissus will die through lack of access to the glossy surface of a spirit on which (or on whom) he can be reflected.” This of course links with the long lineage of romantic tragedies that have captivated popular imagination for ages.

Titian_Bacchus_and_Ariadne

Bacchus and Ariadne by Titian

These ideas connect to the transformative feelings of love that come with transits of Neptune and Venus, as well as destructive feelings of disillusionment that can awaken self realization. Projections in relationships can be most harmful when they do not have authentic resonance with one’s soul but instead have been conditioned by societal forces. These external conditioning influences are often wrapped up in systematic oppression, necessitating a need to shed the way they impact our gender, sexual, and other personal identities. The more we are able to take responsibility for this work, similar to Jung’s concept of individuation, the better we can gain self acceptance for the authentic desires of our soul. As we do so, we can attract partners who genuinely resonate with our inner life, drawing us into a deepening of the lessons we need on a soul level. We also can gain a healthier relationship with ourselves so that we can foster recovery and restoration when a relationship ends.

It’s not really possible to prevent our unconscious from shaping the relational dynamics we form with others, and this is a gift in terms of the creativity and growth cultivated by the commingling of unconscious fields. We can at least gain awareness that the phenomenon is happening and open to the actual presence and needs of a partner instead of confining them to our own projection. The numinous, intermingling perceptions and projections between lovers is so full of magical potency that it has given birth to countless epics of artistry that have endured the tests of time and will continue to do so. Most importantly, it can enrich our life when not causing damaging delusion. As Venus and Neptune begin a new cycle together, as well as during subsequent aspects between them (especially when forming a square or opposition), we can claim the opportunity to reflect upon our unconscious projections. It’s essential that once becoming aware we do not bury the realization in denial but instead sustain contemplation so that it’s pattern may mutate and we may receive insight.

Neptune brings longing for the ideal and sustaining divine connection, yet can also bring debilitating pain once a shattering experience breaks us free from an illusion. After we suffer the agony of betrayal or abandonment, the ensuing underworld process of descending to our solitary depths ultimately gives rise to essential rebirth and expansion of consciousness. Like Persephone arising from her hidden kingdom into our upper world of blooming flowers, like Aphrodite arising from the depths of the ocean to fertilize new ground, we can restore our capacity for sharing and receiving love. When relationships dissolve in disappointing disillusionment, in reflection we can realize the vital, irreplaceable experiences and realizations we received through its reciprocal projections. In fact, we can realize that all of it was necessary in order to become who we are meant to become.

So as Venus and Neptune come together once more in the mutable, watery sign of Pisces, be mindful of living in a time in which you are navigating their waves of communion within the most oceanic sign of the zodiac. Their unions in Pisces can enhance awareness for how our projections are disconnecting us from reality, can lead us to love based upon resonant bonds of connectivity, and can facilitate the nurturance of self love and acceptance. Like Maya spinning a constantly changing stream of illusions, the cycle of Venus and Neptune flows through our reality with the mystical, seductive melodies of its watery stream. While musing within its current, we can enjoy its imaginal activation while maintaining practices of staying grounded and focused within earthly matters and responsibilities. As a result we may retrieve glistening jewels of wisdom from its tides rather than becoming lost at sea.

References

Couliano, Ion. (1987). Eros and Magic in the Renaissance. The University of Chicago Press.

Dykes, Benjamin (2017 translation). Dorotheus of Sidon: Carmen Astrologicum, the Umar al-Tabari Translation. The Cazimi Press.

New Moon in Aries

New Moon in Aries

Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (1907)

New Moon in Aries

The New Moon in Aries on April 5 kindles the star fire of inner soul force and determination in the face of collective events that feel overwhelming with their historical weight. Aries takes its name from the constellation of the charging ram, zodiacal terrain ruled by red hot Mars where our life and light giving Sun is exalted. Aries burns with impulsive heat that invigorates our passions and motivates us to take direct action. There is cosmic synchronicity of this propulsive force initiating a new lunar month during the same time that the combined impact of Saturn and Pluto with the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn is intensifying. Wielding the fire of Aries will not move mountains, suddenly change world politics,  or be able to cut through every obstacle we face at this time. Yet we still need to claim the courage to use our force of will to shape the aspects of life we are able to create and guide, surrendering to the need to mediate the barriers and limitations out of our control.

The Aries New Moon comes at the turning point of the astrological year. This is usually the case as in the northern hemisphere the season of Aries occurs during the rebirthing of Spring and the daily increase of light. However, in 2019 with the transiting lunar nodes and eclipses occurring in the signs of Cancer and Capricorn, the New Moon in Aries is occurring at the midpoint between eclipses while forming a change inducing square aspect with the Capricorn Solar Eclipse that happened on January 6, 2019 as well as the Cancer Solar Eclipse that is coming on July 2, 2019. This makes it an ideal time to recenter and regroup regarding whatever shifts have been taking shape in your life, summoning inner strength to respond to whatever needs repair or restoration. It’s also ideal for initiating and generating forward momentum and decisive action regarding whatever goals you want to achieve in the next six months.

Hours after the Moon unites with the Sun, the waxing Aries Moon will move through a catalyzing square aspect with Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn. Since the Aries New Moon is applying to a square with the transiting lunar nodes it means it is at its bending, in this case the southern bending in which the Moon dips as far south in latitude as it will reach during its lunar cycle. This is a maximum peak of volatility, and in a southern direction indicates a higher charge of unconscious impulses motivating behavior. A day after the lunation, just after the Moon has reappeared in light in its slender waxing crescent shape, the Moon will form a conjunction with Uranus in Taurus on April 6. There likely will be some explosive collective events during this time, yet on personal levels we will also need to be ready for rapid developments to erupt. The Moon is carrying an emancipatory charge that is facing the friction and resistance of large, oppressive societal forces. We can receive liberating, breakthrough insights during this time and by working hard to bring ideas into form we can cultivate greater strength in the process. At the same time, it will be necessary to be aware of the best use of energy in terms of what we can change and what we cannot.

A day before the New Moon, the asteroid Vesta will ingress into Aries and begin applying to a conjunction with Chiron in Aries. The co-presence of the fiery communion between Vesta and Chiron with the New Moon in Aries draws awareness inward toward the most essential and rarified desires and values to focus attention on. What aspects of your life, what elements of your goals and dreams are irreplaceable and bring forth all of your strength and vitality to protect and nourish? During hard and difficult times when faith is tested, when natural disasters or collective calamities and crises strike, the gift offered is complete clarity regarding what matters most, where are attention needs full unequivocal engagement. Chiron and Vesta are inviting you to join them around their fire, a place of inclusivity, listening, sharing, and empowerment, a protective circle in which you can plant the seed of the vision you most wish to create and cultivate in the season ahead.

Mars in Gemini

Woodblock print of Miyamoto Musashi by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Mars in Gemini

Mars in Gemini rules the Aries New Moon, separating from a sextile aspect with Chiron in Aries and applying toward a square aspect with Neptune in Pisces that will not complete until April 25. Mars leaving Taurus and entering Gemini brings increased speed, electricity, and curiosity toward the striving will force signified by the red planet. With Mars in Gemini forming a whole sign sextile aspect with the New Moon in Aries, there is increased potential for taking action and making gains on whatever plans and visions have been taking shape during the Mercury retrograde in Pisces period that dominated the month of March. Mars in Gemini brings increased capacity to handle multiple tasks at a time and decipher connections between diverse interests, with the building tension between Mars and Neptune in April capable of severing awareness from an illusion. A main challenge will be keeping Mars from becoming detrimentally distracted in the airy home of Mercury.

Mercury in Pisces is now moving direct as a Morning Star and finally beginning to separate from its extended conjunction with Neptune in Pisces that expanded visions yet restrained our capacity for quickly and clearly making needed connections and communication. Mercury at the time of the Aries New Moon is a week away from reaching maximum elongation as a Morning Star, meaning that we are entering the phase of Mercury in which we must gather the bravery, faith, and resources needed to embody whatever changes of mind and vision emerged into awareness during the past month. Mars in Gemini has the necessary flexibility to shift and mutate as needed as we figure out how to reshape and rebuild life structures. Yet Mars under the influence of Mercury combined with Neptune also brings risk of becoming inflated, self-righteous, and ungrounded, characteristics we will need to guard against especially if conflict erupts.

Odilon Redon flower-clouds

Odilon Redon (1903) Flower Clouds

Feeling the Fishes

There is a potent pulse of Pisces underlying the Aries New Moon. Just as Mercury is beginning to separate away from a conjunction with Neptune, Venus in Pisces is applying toward a union with Neptune that will complete on April 10. The combined influence of Venus, Neptune, and Mercury in Pisces has a multivalent impact which can range from the sublime to the delusional. The influence of Venus exalted in Pisces increases capacity for us to not only envision a reality in which we may behold soulful desires, but to also alter reality to bring about manifestation of deeply felt values and connections. Hopefully the long phase of Mercury retrograde in March helped clear minds of cobwebs and illusory conceptions, but as Mercury is finally separating from Neptune it will still be worthwhile to claim space for inner reflection and meditation to help enhance clarity. Jupiter in Sagittarius is ruling all of the Pisces planets and can facilitate inner knowing that supports their potential for inner vision as long as we center within authentic inner values rather than being swayed by external conditioning influences.

As Venus forms its conjunction with Neptune on April 10, Mercury will simultaneously be applying to its third and final square aspect with Jupiter in Sagittarius.  All of this is happening at the same time that Jupiter is stationing retrograde on April 10 at 24º21′ Sagittarius. When planets station their archetypal influence saturates the landscape, and so with Jupiter ruling Venus, Neptune, and Mercury it will intensify experience and meaning. The period of April 10 and 11 notably brings a higher degree of resolution to the wild journey Mercury has been on since February, as Mercury previously formed a square aspect with Jupiter on February 22 and March 24. There will be an opportunity for deepening into clearing or clarification of misleading beliefs while simultaneously receiving intimations of the course to follow into the future. Venus and Neptune will be playing the part of pulling awareness into the pleasures and wisdom of the senses and can be best utilized for soothing stress and creating an atmosphere of recovery, restoration and healing.

The mystical influences of Venus uniting with Neptune and Mercury contesting Jupiter goes well with the added meaning of Jupiter stationing retrograde. Jupiter shifting into retrograde motion pulls the outward expansion and quest for freedom of Jupiter in Sagittarius into inner horizons, helping one to cohere inner meaning from the free ranging experiences of Jupiter’s time in Sagittarius. Jupiter will remain retrograde until stationing direct on August 11 at 14°30′ Sagittarius

Gustave_Courbet_(French_-_Grotto_of_Sarrazine_near_Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne_-_Google_Art_Project

Gustave Courbet (1875) Grotto of Sarrazine near Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne

Saturn – Pluto – South Node

The month of April initiates us into an intensification of the complex gravitas constellated by Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon coming together in Capricorn. By the end of April, both Pluto and Saturn will have stationed retrograde with Saturn coming within three degrees of Pluto (Saturn and Pluto will not complete their conjunction until January 12, 2020). The deepening we experience in April into what to expect from the beginning of new cycle between Pluto and Saturn is amplified due to the transiting South Node of the Moon being in the same place, with Pluto conjoining the South Node of the Moon during the Aries New Moon and Saturn conjoining it by the end of April.

These aspects alone would signify immense karmic issues erupting across societies, but the added influence taking things to an even more extreme degree is that the alignment of Pluto, Saturn, and the South Node of the Moon is also happening in the same area as the South Nodes of Pluto and Saturn. This means that the archetypal meaning of the entire orbital arcs of Saturn and Pluto are crashing down across the ecliptic, flooding events with their significations. We tend to imagine the lunar nodes as a dragon in astrology, yet what we have in this alignment is a three headed (or headless) dragon involving not only the lunar archetype but Saturn and Pluto as well. The shadow of the Self described in the work of C.G. Jung can thus be applied to all of global civilization, with numerous issues sweeping across global societies representing the accumulated toxicities and oppression built up from ages past.

At its highest potential, this massive alignment offers opportunities for confronting societal issues and attempting to purify their intersection with us as individuals. Fundamentally, the New Moon in Aries points to the importance for each of us as an individual to claim responsibility for our behavior and intention, becoming accountable for the wider collective impact of our individual actions. While Pluto and Saturn have numerous negative and difficult significations, they also both connect with the empowerment found within our unconscious depths and our capacity to apply hard work and discipline toward manifesting and protecting what is most important to us, building or tearing down structures as needed.

Aries 2 Decan

3 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Aries 2 Decan

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

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Crown” to the second face of Aries.  Coppock described the focus of this face as being “the world which emanates from an individual” and “the qualities which they choose to embody” (p. 59).  Coppock wrote that the ability to create one’s own world found in this face leads to not only the attraction and magnetism of others of like-mind, but also to “the key to creating pocket realities which do not obey the laws of the collective reality field in which they exist” (p. 60).  These associations with the second face of Aries work well with the New Moon in Aries having so much potent fertility for vision being offered by Venus, Neptune, and Mercury aligned in Pisces and being received by Jupiter in Sagittarius.

The Hellenistic text the 36 Airs attributed Persephone to the second decan of Aries, an interesting association as she is also a noble figure who bridges the world of the visible and invisible, the goddess who rules the otherworld of soul, death, release, and resurrection. Additionally, the Persephone asteroid #399 is at 16º Capricorn and forming an almost exact square aspect with the Aries New Moon. Persephone’s presence with the New Moon calls us to honor being an eternal soul fully embodied within a material realm of continual life and death.  While we must reconcile ourselves to living in a world of great suffering and death, grieving those who have passed on, Persephone also signifies our capacity for discovering newfound power and strength within ourselves in spite of the wounds we must bear.

There is a further link with Persephone’s presence in this face with the sabian symbol for sixteen degrees of Aries where the union between Sun and Moon takes place: “Nature spirits are seen at work in the light of sunset.” Dane Rudhyar connected this symbol with “attunement to the potency of invisible forces, of nature,” commenting that these “nature forces act as guiding and balancing-harmonizing factors.”  As one of the gifts astrology offers us is coming to terms with natural cycles so that we can flow and harmonize with them, we will need to keep in mind during April the necessity of both surrendering to natural processes of death and rebirth while claiming responsibility for doing what we can to shape matters and offer our own resources for support.

Youth of delight, come hither / And see the opening morn, / Image of truth new born. / Doubt is fled & clouds of reason, / Dark disputes & artful teazing. / Folly is an endless maze, / Tangled roots perplex her ways, / How many have fallen there! / They stumble all night over bones of the dead, / And feel they know not what but care, / And wish to lead others when they should be led.

— The Voice of the Ancient Bard by William Blake, from Songs of Innocence

Songs_of_Innocence_and_of_Experience_copy_AA_The_Voice_of_the_Ancient_Bard

References

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

Rudhyar, Dane. (1973). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases.

 

Mercury Retrograde in Pisces

rene magrite fair captive

The Fair Captive by Rene Magritte

Mercury Retrograde in Pisces

“All I have is a voice / To undo the folded lie, / The romantic lie in the brain / Of the sensual man-in-the-street / And the lie of Authority / Whose buildings grope the sky: / There is no such thing as the State / And no one exists alone; / Hunger allows no choice / To the citizen or the police; / We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night / Our world in stupor lies; / Yet, dotted everywhere, / Ironic points of light / Flash out wherever the Just / Exchange their messages: / May I, composed like them / Of Eros and of dust, / Beleaguered by the same / Negation and despair, / Show an affirming flame.”

—from September 1, 1939 by W.H. Auden (born with Mercury in Pisces conjoining Saturn in Pisces)

The twinkling light of Mercury initiates us into the regenerative, retrograde phase of its cycle in sunset.  In Greek mythology sunset is the realm of the Hesperides, divine daughters of primordial Night and Darkness who tend a garden and grove bearing the golden apples of Gaia. Charming nymphs who delight in singing songs of the numinous, the Hesperides have granted the gifts necessary for heroes to complete their quests, such as lending Perseus the winged sandals of Hermes. Yet in their company resides an ever wakeful dragon symbolizing the potent fertility of chthonic chaos pulsating under our perceptions of reality. The otherworldly sunset realm of the Hesperides is located in the farthest reaches of the West, at the outermost reaches of the encircling Oceanus from which the fixed stars and Helios rise and set each day.

As Mercury stations retrograde at the final degree of Pisces on 5 March 2019, its Evening Star light will still be visible as the sun sets, transfiguring the sky in changing colors. Whenever planets station in astrology, their archetype dominates the astrological landscape in the surrounding week. Many astrologers focus upon rational analysis and linear logic amongst the many significations of Mercury, yet there is a type of excessively linear Mercury that is more of a dominant cultural construct than the reality of magical and shamanic processes that Mercury also tends. The work of Peter Kingsley is interesting in this context, as he has argued against what he calls a misguided academic approach to the history of logic in Western civilization, since the figures who gave birth to logic such as Parmenides and Empedocles were actually involved in deeply mystical and irrational processes.

In the case of Mercury stationing retrograde, it’s the influence of the underworld, psychopomp side of Mercury that claims prominence due to it disappearing at sunset into its invisible phase in the days following its stationing. Though periods of Mercury retrograde provoke alarm amongst astrologers, it is in fact an essential aspect of Mercury necessary for the natural expression of the Star of Hermes. While breakdowns and disintegration of all things mercurial can happen during Mercury retrograde, it simultaneously brings the opportunity for necessary shedding, cleansing, purification, and reorientation.

The numinous realm of the Hesperides bearing otherworldly gifts as well as a dangerous dragon to face connects well with the particular Mercury retrograde phase occurring in March 2019 as it begins on the same day as the ingress of Uranus in Taurus. The Sun is setting in conjunction with ethereal Neptune as Mercury stations, and its retrograde phase will be taking us into the disillusionment and revelations at the heart of the square aspect between Neptune and Jupiter in Sagittarius that is another one of the most important astrological aspects of 2019. The other major astrological aspect of 2019, the coming together of Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn (while also conjoining the South Nodes of Saturn and Pluto), will also be interfacing closely with Mercury’s retrograde phase in Pisces through a harmonizing sextile aspect. We will be pulled to release and rebirth deeply personal patterns as well as disentangle ourselves from the dominant constructs of power enforced through societal institutions and hierarchies.

Here are some key dates:

  • February 19: Mercury conjunct Neptune at 15°35′ Pisces first time
  • February 22: Mercury in Pisces square Jupiter in Sagittarius (21°06′) first time
  • February 26: Mercury at maximum elongation as Evening Star
  • March 5: Mercury stations retrograde at 29°38′ Pisces
  • March 6: New Moon in Pisces as Mercury descends at sunset into invisible phase and Uranus enters Taurus
  • March 14: Mercury conjunct Sun in Pisces at 24°11′
  • March 15: Mercury square Jupiter (23°19′) second time
  • March 20: Full Moon in Libra on Aries Equinox
  • March 23: Mercury retrograde reemerges as Morning Star
  • March 24: Mercury conjunct Neptune at 16°49′ Pisces second time
  • March 26: Venus enters Pisces
  • March 28: Mercury stations direct at 16°05′ Pisces
  • April 2: Mercury conjunct Neptune at 17°08′ third time
  • April 5: New Moon in Aries
  • April 10: Jupiter stations retrograde in Sagittarius
  • April 11: Mercury square Jupiter (24°20′) third time with Mercury at maximum elongation as Morning Star
rosmerta and mercury

Rosmerta and Mercury

Pisces is the fall of Mercury and the exaltation of Venus, and as this is given great prominence within Indian astrology its interesting that Mercury is stationing retrograde in both tropical as well as sidereal Pisces. On the other side of Mercury’s retrograde when it is stationing direct, Venus will enter her exaltation of Pisces. Thus we can imagine Mercury clearing, cleaning, and preparing the watery, nocturnal temple of Jupiter for the arrival of the goddess, Venus, at the end of its retrograde. In fact, Mercury will be stationing retrograde near the exaltation degree of Venus (27º) and then stationing direct near the fall degree of Mercury (15º).

Moreover, the date of March 5 when Mercury stations retrograde is the traditional date of Navigium Isidis, an ancient Roman festival honoring the great goddess Isis and involving an elaborate procession.  Fittingly for the meaning of Mercury retrograde in Pisces, the procession of Isis also served as a prayer for the protection and safety of seafarers. Whether or not you have an oceanic voyage planned during March, we will all be embarking one way or another on a metaphorical sea crossing into realms of imagination and fantasy that will make clarified objectivity difficult to sustain. Yet within the tidal forces of Mercury we can dislodge ourselves from stuck, fixated perspectives into a more enlivening perceptual presence.

While there is mystery involving a definitive answer to the question of why Mercury has its fall in Pisces, there are many reasons that have been deduced that would take up too much space to explore here. One aspect to remember is that the categories of exaltation and fall are status symbols in a way, something one receives from others. There is often something of the unconventional found with Mercury in Pisces that goes against the established, favored doctrines of society. For example, the brilliantly unorthodox writers Maya Angelou, Stephane Mallarme, Langston Hughes, Charles Baudelaire, and James Joyce were born with Mercury in Pisces, as well as empirical scientists who shattered dogmatic worldview such as Nicolas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Charles Darwin. There is also a quality of having to not only fall into the suffering of the material world with Mercury in Pisces, but furthermore needing to traverse underworld experiences as part of retrieving soulful insight to share with others.

Vitally, Mercury in Pisces is ruled by the uplifting influence of Jupiter, and thus during the forthcoming Mercury retrograde its extremely significant that Jupiter is in its fiery home of Sagittarius and receiving Mercury through a catalyzing square aspect.  These connections bring the potential to uncover a deeper realization of personal truth within whatever difficult, disorientating, disintegrative, and disillusioning experiences may occur during the month of March.  The more we can let go of dogmatic beliefs we have been clinging to for whatever reason, the more we can open ourselves to the dissolution needed for essential rebirth that Mercury retrograde in Pisces can bring.

Magritte__Le_Baiser-3

Le Baiser by Rene Magritte

“We move up a spine of earth / That bridges the river and the canal. / And where a dying white log, finger-like, / Floating off the bank, claws at the slope, / We stumble, and we laugh. / We slow beneath the moon’s eye; / Near the shine of the river’s blood face, / The canal’s veil of underbrush sweats frost, / And this ancient watery scar retains / The motionless tears of men with troubled spirits. / For like the whole earth, / This land of mine is soaked….”

— from Take this River  by Henry Dumas

The day after Mercury stations retrograde we will experience both the ingress of Uranus into Taurus as well as a New Moon in Pisces conjoining Neptune. While the Pisces New Moon seeds meaning for the coming month, the entrance of Uranus into Taurus is seeding meaning for the next eight years. There is in addition the compelling symbolism that just as the waxing sliver of crescent lunar light emerges the following day, the Pisces Moon will be uniting with Mercury retrograde at the same time Mercury is descending into the darkness of its invisible phase at sunset. Thus we will be experiencing the waxing, increasing light of the lunar cycle at the exact time the light of Mercury wanes and descends into the darkness of its underworld phase.

Marsilio Ficino in Three Books on Life wrote that as the Moon “receives a life-giving power” from the Sun each time it forms a union, “she receives from Mercury in the same place [Mercury is always near the Sun] a force which blends her moistures,” since Mercury has “the virtue of his own transformation into all other planets and by virtue of his many revolutions.” On March 6 and 7, we will have a syzygy seeding of the Pisces Moon with potent imaginal influences from Neptune, followed by an alchemical mixing by a psychopomp Mercury. There is incredible imagination and fantasy within these aspects that will be able to be utilized in any field involving creativity. It also means that we will need to apply extra attention to detail, such as repeatedly reviewing steps in any process for miscues. While intuitive capacities will be heightened with Mercury retrograde in Pisces, we can also overlook a small detail that leads us astray.

It will be worth being willing to wander in March, bringing the possibility of becoming temporarily lost. Sometimes we have to become lost or pursue the wrong direction at first in order to ultimately arrive at the place we need to be. With Uranus entering Taurus, there will be dramatic developments within personal narratives, with some people having to cope with unexpected shocks shattering their former reality. Moreover, with all of this happening at the same time that Pluto, Saturn, and the South Node of the Moon will be getting closer together, there will be immense breakdowns and power struggles erupting within societal structures to contend with.  The influence of these Capricorn placements also means new ideas and remedies may be found amongst old traditions and ancient lineages. The tricks and subterfuges that come with Mercury retrograde can tease us into bending perception enough to receive the necessary guidance or change in direction.

Georgia O'Keefe music - pink and blue

Georgia O’Keeffe (1918) Music – Pink and Blue No. 1

The week of March 6 through March 13 beckons us into a cavernous depth of disintegration, a period that Gary Caton likened to the Nigredo phase of alchemy in his book Hermetica Tryptycha. During this week we may feel forced to release attachments to connections that previously brought security, or we may choose to consciously breakdown old material. The underlying meaning is to align ourselves with a process of separating elements in order to ultimately synthesize a new understanding by the end of the retrograde period. Interestingly, during the first week of Mercury retrograde it will form an exact sextile aspect with the transiting South Node of the Moon in Capricorn, and a trine aspect with the transiting North Node of the Moon in Cancer. The interface with the lunar nodes increases the likelihood that the circumstances we will be facing and needing to alter will guide us into a vital change of heart or shift in what we feel is most important to focus on going forward.

Making it all more disorienting is the strong influence from outer, transpersonal planets. On the one hand there is the serious gravity of Pluto with Saturn and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn that is demanding a stripping away of the inessential and honoring the honing of what endures across time. While the Capricorn emphasis prods us to persevere with dedication toward developing goals, there is also a heavy karmic aspect of having to face the shadow side of ambition and its effects. In addition, there is also the earth shaking volatility of Uranus entering Taurus that can dramatically amplify feelings of disruption, destruction, and revelation, requiring a rearranging of beliefs and expectations in order to accept and receive whatever rapid developments are unleashed.

Yet on a core level Mercury’s retrograde is most of all centered around the last quarter square phase between Jupiter in Sagittarius with Neptune in Pisces. The current stage of the Jupiter and Neptune cycle is about clearing or clarifying outdated, misleading beliefs while simultaneously receiving intimations of the course to follow into the future. As part of this process we will have to withstand external emotional dynamics at times, as Mercury retrograde in the mutable and watery Pisces can correlate with amorphous personal boundaries that are more susceptible to emotional influences. Yet the sensitivity of Mercury in Pisces to surrounding emotions can be utilized as a gift for discerning the underlying feelings behind what is spoken, as well as the meaning behind what is unspoken.

During the first week of Mercury retrograde make sure to pay attention to the symbolism of dream images, the oracular appearances of animals and other signs within daily travels, and any other omens giving guidance into the regenerative change underway. This is a period to listen to the voice of your inner senses and unconscious messages with a willingness to begin aligning external changes with internal promptings. Whenever awareness brings realization of illusions that have been influencing you, instead of being upset over uprooting a delusive pattern, embrace the opportunity to clear out or compost whatever you have outgrown in order to help fertilize the new vision to come.

pegasus and bellerophon

Odilon Redon (1888) Pegasus and Bellerophon

Chthonic Cazimi

The heliacal setting of a star corresponds to its death and its passage into the underworld. Remember, the word synodic, or “union,” is derived from sunodos, and also means “sexual union.” The protected space at the heart of the Sun is the sanctum sanctorum, the innermost holy chamber of the mystery initiations. Here, the union of a planet or star with the Sun represents the seminal impregnation and regeneration. The rebirth occurs at the heliacal rise, as the planet emerges from the womb of the solar rays.

— Demetra George, Ancient Astrology, Vol 1

A new cycle of Mercury will be seeded by its conjunction with the Pisces Sun on March 14. This is the inferior conjunction of Mercury when the Star of Hermes is purified and regenerated while aligned in orbit between Earth and the Sun by zodiacal degree. Though the full meaning of the coming cycle of Mercury remains unclear at this point, one can experience clarifying reflection and reception of key insight on the day Mercury is within one degree of conjunction with the Sun. This particular inferior conjunction of Mercury retrograde in Pisces is especially potent as Mercury is applying closely to a square aspect with Jupiter in Sagittarius. As a result, Jupiter is receiving Mercury in the sacred heart of the Pisces Sun into its fiery home of Sagittarius, inciting a vision of future meaning to manifest. Thus Mercury will be seated upon the throne of the Sun with all of the resources of inspirational and expansive Jupiter at its disposal.

There is also a stellar influence to the inferior conjunction, as the solar seeding of Mercury will occur at 24°11′ Pisces near the fixed star Markab in the Pegasus constellation. Markab is the alpha star of Pegasus located in the wings of the horse, also known as being the saddle of the Winged Horse. Bernadette Brady described Markab as representing solidity and reliability,  “a point of steadiness or the power to maintain stability under pressure,” something we need if we wish to ride a soaring Pegasus. Brady noted the symbolism of Markab can be positive in the sense of having the leadership skills to handle crises, as well as negative when becoming overly stubborn and refusing to consider alternative perspectives. It’s a fitting star to be aligned with this moment of Mercury’s retrograde when we can recenter in the seat of the sun, riding the inspirational forces of Jupiter.

The Pegasus constellation has also been connected with inspirational intellect and strident, groundbreaking initiative.  The ambitious striving of Pegasus and the potential of both insightful breakthroughs as well as falls from lofty heights is found within the mythology of the Winged Horse. There is a duality of light and shadow with Pegasus:  on the one hand Pegasus is felt as a fount of inspiration and the seat of heroes, while on the other hand Pegasus was born from violence and betrayal and tied not only to the slaying of monsters but the monstrous egotistical hubris that could overcome those who rode Pegasus.  We find here the binding in which there is no good without evil, no heroes without monsters, and the concept that the path forward for our growth necessitates encountering the darker elements of self.

The link between the inferior conjunction of Mercury with Pegasus suggests the flights of vision and invention we wish to launch must simultaneously involve a purification and purging of excessive pride and the corruption that can come with ambitious striving. Interestingly, the sabian symbol for the degree of the inferior conjunction compellingly aligns with all of its surrounding astrological aspects: a religious organization succeeds in overcoming the corrupting influence of perverted practices and materialized ideals. Dane Rudhyar gave the following elaboration that fits extremely well for the solar seeding and purification of Mercury:

(PISCES 25°) KEYNOTE: The power of the Soul to intervene in the personal life and to induce necessary catharses.

Every man is a Church that has the Soul as its god, but most men forget the Soul and live according to dogmatic rules and habits which not only have become empty of inner meaning, but very often have been perverted by the demands of the senses and the emotional nature, and by the ego with its rationalizing intellect. A purging or catharsis is needed to restore not only fresh and creative spontaneity, but even more the contact with the Soul and the God-ordained dharma.

— Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases.

Astro-Errante-1961 Remedios Varo

Astro Errante by Remedios Varo

Full Moon Equinox

In the week of March 15 through March 22, while Mercury retrograde has been purified and reseeded by its union with the Sun, it remains invisible and so we will still be immersed in a process of discovering and exploring the new forms of meaning and understanding taking shape. An incredibly illuminating part of this process will occur on March 20, the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere, when the Sun will ingress into Aries and a Full Moon in Libra will culminate. Considered to be the astrological new year, the Aries ingress this year is extra potent due to the moon waxing full on the same day.  With Mercury simultaneously retrograde and on the cusp of reemerging into visibility as a Morning Star, we will feel like new shoots of green are ready to burst forth from within, cracking open whatever has previously been constraining. Let yourself receive whatever vision of potential dreams and goals arise without restriction or repression.

The challenge during this phase of the Mercury retrograde is that we may sense new vision and meaning without having everything fully in place in order to successfully manifest and embody the change within the reality of our current circumstances. It’s also likely that we may not have all the information we need to make a final decision at this time, in part due to Mercury still being retrograde but also due to it applying closely to another conjunction with Neptune. If major decisions have to be made this week, do your best to repeatedly review the details and listen closely to your intuition regarding whether or not it feels like the direction to pursue. If major decisions can be put off for another week, let things settle and reformulate before you make a final judgment. This week can be best used for brainstorming and creative exploration and experimentation.

Magritte_Wonders-of-Nature

Wonders of Nature by Rene Magritte

The Trident and the Caduceus

All truths wait in all things, / They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it, / They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon, / The insignificant is as big to me as any, / What is less or more than a touch?

Logic and sermons never convince, / The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.

Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so, / Only what nobody denies is so.

A minute and a drop of me settle my brain; / I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and lamps, / And a compend of compends is the meat of a man or woman, / And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have for each other, / And they are to branch boundlessly out of that lesson until it becomes omnific, / And until every one shall delight us, and we them.

— from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (published with Uranus in Taurus)

After Mercury retrograde reemerges in light as a Morning Star in the liminal moistness of dawn, heralding the return of sunrise, it will form its second conjunction with Neptune in Pisces on March 24.  At this point Mercury will be visible again, and in correspondence we should gain greater clarity regarding whatever changes have been taking shape over the past month. However, Mercury will be enveloped with the fogginess of being in close proximity with the otherworldly Neptune for an extended period of time: after it finally stations direct on March 28 at 16°05′ Pisces, it will not be until April 2 that Mercury will complete its final conjunction with Neptune at 17°08′ Pisces.

As a result, with Mercury stationing direct in conjunction with Neptune the feeling of waking up from the dream of Mercury retrograde may feel more like a waking dream. Whenever Mercury stations, we need to be as fully alert as possible to the details of our daily work and responsibility. With Mercury united with Neptune, there is an added feature of extrasensory perception and symbolic awareness that will be capable of picking up additional messages in unexpected places. It will be helpful to engage in whatever sorts of reflective practices can help you ground in the reality of your circumstances so as to not become swept too far away by fantasy. This can be a dreamy time of poetic inspiration, artistic expression, and fertile creativity, just don’t let feelings of blissful revelry distract you from taking care of a necessary responsibility.

Indeed, Mercury is stationing not only in union with Neptune, but also in range of a harmonizing sextile with Saturn in Capricorn. While we will need to handle our daily responsibilities, there is also potential playfulness within these aspects that can be a soothing remedy for any overworking from Saturn. Saturn is in its nocturnal, earthy home of the Sea Goat, and so this is an ideal time for the Mer-goat to dip its tail into the water to dissolve the stress of old expectations. As Mercury begins to move forward again while engaging both Neptune and Saturn, we can reorder our priorities so that our dedication and work is being guided more towards whatever brings intrinsic happiness and joy.

At the same time Mercury is stationing direct, Venus will enter her exaltation of Pisces on March 26. Venus will then pursue a union with Neptune that will culminate on April 10, the same day that Jupiter stations retrograde in Sagittarius. Amazingly, this is also the same time that Mercury will be reaching maximum elongation as a Morning Star and completing its final square aspect with Jupiter on April 11. As outlined by Gary Caton in Hermetica Triptycha, this is the rubedo alchemical stage of Mercury’s cycle in which we are challenged to fully bring the meaning we retrieved during the retrograde phase into our daily life. With the interplay between Venus and Neptune as well as Mercury and Jupiter, there is enormous potential at this time for heart opening and expanding beyond previous constraints. However, breaking out of old shells and embracing a more enlivened presence is not always easy, and we will likely need to navigate volatility as we engage in our own inner process of volatile change.

Ultimately, it will be worthwhile to persist in following the new vision rather than retreating back to the comfort of the previous status quo. In the legendary words of Devo, “Twist away the gates of steel / Unlock the secret voice / Give in to ancient noise / Take a chance on a brand new dance / Twist away the gates of steel.”

the black pegasus

Odilon Redon

References

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

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

Ficino, Marsilio. (1998). Three Books on Life: A Critical Edition and Translation with Introduction and Notes by Carol V. Kaske and John R. Clark. Tempe: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies.

George, Demetra. (2019). Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice: a Manual of Traditional Techniques. Rubedo Press.

Rudhyar, Dane.  (1958).  The Jupiter-Neptune Cycle.  Horoscope Magazine.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1973). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases.

 

Virgo Full Moon: Torch of Regulus

Astraea

Astraea

Full Moon in Virgo

Around the hollow of her right flank a great stream of the primordially-generated Soul gushes forth in abundance, totally ensouling light, fire, ether, worlds.

In the left flank of Hekate exists the source of virtue, which remains entirely within and does not give up its virginity.

The Chaldean Oracles translated by Ruth Majercik, fragments 51 & 52

The Full Moon in Virgo on February 19 dramatically illuminates the ingress of the Sun into Pisces and is conjoining the fixed star Regulus, the heart of the lion, at zero degrees of Virgo. Due to precession of the equinoxes with the tropical zodiac, the fixed star Regulus entered tropical Virgo at the end of 2011, seen by many as ushering humanity into a new era in 2012 and beyond. Known as the heart of the lion in the Leo constellation, Regulus is one of the four royal stars of Persia that has anchored the zodiac and seasons for ages. In ancient Egypt when the Leo constellation rose at summer solstice with the flooding of the Nile, Regulus as the heart of the lion  served as the fierce protector and guardian of the revivifying water essential to civilization. Across astrological traditions, Regulus has been associated with leadership and power, the type of fiery strength that can achieve success and victory against all odds. According to Bernadette Brady, the nemesis of Regulus is revenge, meaning its ambitious qualities need to be balanced by restraining from seeking retribution and vengeance if we wish to secure the success it can bring.

In Indian astrology, the nakshatra of Regulus where the full moon will ripen is Magha, the seat or throne of the king that has been linked with splendor, regality, prosperity, power, and the will force needed to achieve important endeavors and victories. Dennis Harness described the shadow side of Magha in connection with the extreme ambition that resides here, such as “arrogance” and “prejudice,” over attachment to “material prosperity” and “identification with class status,” as well as “divine restlessness or chronic discontent” for falling short of high aspirations and perfectionist standards. Harness further described the danger of constant courting of external approval at expense of the essential self.

Magha’s ruling deities are the ancestor spirits Pitris, making the nakshatra associated with gifts and benefits brought by ancestors, as well as loyalty to spiritual lineages. Harness described Pitris as “the great Fathers of Humanity, who function as guardian angels giving protection in the event of major calamities on earth.” Interestingly Ketu is the ruler of Magha, since transiting Venus, Saturn, and Pluto are near the South Node of the Moon at the time of the Virgo Full Moon. Thus the Virgo Full Moon can amplify our capacity to receive support from lineages, a potential also signified by the grouping of Venus, Saturn, Pluto and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn.

Regulus is also central to the tenth lunar mansion Al-Jabhah, or “The Brow,” described in the Picatrix as the head of a lion. It is considered a starry place of recovery, healing, aid, improvement, strength, power, and success according to Christopher Warnock in his book on the mansions of the moon. Warnock described the sound of a mighty lion roar reverberating throughout this lunar mansion, signifying a return to power and strength following a period of sadness or depression.

In light of these connections between the Virgo Full Moon and Regulus, it is significant that the moon reaching peak light is separating from a trine with Uranus in Aries and applying to a trine with Mars in Taurus. There is incredible empowerment and assertion within these aspects which are further intriguing to consider with the shift of Regulus into the more humble, service oriented sign of Virgo. The starry power of Regulus may be applied to our discernment and choices, fueling desire for the strength of our authentic integrity to serve the greater good rather than feeding the flames of glamor, fame, and self recognition. In spite of the flooding of social media in recent years with selfies and self promotion, perhaps part of the meaning to be found with Regulus in tropical Virgo is to be a powerful support for others, to take leadership on behalf of one’s community, and to achieve goals without the need for proclamations or receiving external praise.

The Sea of Time and Space (Vision of the Circle of the Life of Man) by William Blake (London 1757 - London 1827)

The Sea of Time and Space by William Blake

Mercury in Pisces rules the Full Moon while conjoining Neptune in Pisces, making it the most imaginative, otherworldly, nebulous, and abstractly poetic lunation in Virgo imaginable.  Mercury is in its new Evening Star phase following its celestial cazimi in Aquarius, revitalized and freshened, visible in the twilight of sunset to help us digest and discern meaning from our daily experiences. Since Mercury is beginning to separate from its conjunction with Neptune at the time of the Full Moon, our ruminating thoughts will be more far ranging within imaginal spaces than normal, making our fantasies more potentially fruitful for new visions and ideas to cultivate.

Yet while Mercury in Pisces is separating from a conjunction with fantastical Neptune in Pisces, it is applying toward a sextile aspect with the hard reality and consolidating nature of Saturn in Capricorn. Part of this meaning can be applied to the reality that while Mercury is at the beginning of a strong phase within its synodic cycle, its recent union with Neptune also means that it has entered into the shadow of its upcoming Mercury retrograde phase in Pisces that will dominate the month of March. In fact, Mercury will remain in Pisces until April 17 and since Mercury will ultimately station direct at the end of March in a conjunction with Neptune, we will be returning for an extended period of Mercury conjoining Neptune again from March 20 through April 7.

Knowing a Mercury retrograde in Pisces will be starting on March 5, keep in mind that the imaginative visions and ideas you may receive at the Virgo Full Moon are likely to undergo many changes and shifts from now through April. Mercury’s applying sextile toward Saturn in Capricorn means we need to ground developing plans in the light of the full moon into secure structures that will both protect developing ideas as well as provide the needed flexibility for mutation in form over the next month. Mercury will also be in range of a sextile aspect with Venus in Capricorn for the rest of February which will never perfect due to the ultimate stationing of Mercury. We can have a rich exploration of aesthetics, playing around with different forms of style with regarding to developing plans, keeping in mind that some of the ideas we experiment with will not turn out to be fruitful.

Significantly, as Mercury in Pisces moves away from its union with Neptune it begins to move toward being received by a square aspect from Jupiter in Sagittarius. Just as the union of Mercury and Neptune in Pisces is the first of three that Mercury will experience due to its impending retrograde, so is the square aspect between Mercury and Jupiter the first of three. Mercury as a result will be artfully weaving us into the heart of the dynamic square aspect between Neptune in Pisces and Jupiter in Sagittarius from now through the middle of April. Thus begins a time to open awareness to how your dreams and fantasies inform your perceptions, how the state of your beliefs impact what you receive as well as achieve in the world. The Full Moon in Virgo is illuminating an initial glimpse into the depths of your inner world, bringing the possibility of self realization and reordering how we use our inner visions to manifest what we truly wish to create and manifest. There may be some disillusionment and waking up to self defeating patterns as part of this process, yet the upcoming Mercury retrograde may then be used to shed those same patterns.

darkness

Darkness by Thomas Danaher

Venus in Capricorn is separating from a conjunction with Saturn and is applying toward a union with Pluto and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn in the following week. Venus will conjoin Pluto on February 22 and the South Node of the Moon on February 25. Continuing to herald the sun as a Morning Star, Venus will be bringing us into fully feeling the ramifications of however the triple lineup of Saturn, Pluto, and Ketu in Capricorn is impacting us. On collective levels we can clearly see these effects in global power struggles and uprisings of conservative, nationalistic, and totalitarian politics, yet on an individual levels the type of intensified honing and consolidation demanded by these transits may feel exhausting.

As Venus moves through Saturn, Pluto, and Ketu, she is not calling for excess or the grandiose, but instead to strip away the inessential, find wisdom in elders and ancestral lineages, and to diligently and thoroughly build sturdy, substantial foundational elements of life with patient discipline open to the fluctuations of fortune. Moreover, after moving across Pluto and the South Node of the Moon, Venus will then move on to square Uranus at the final degree of Aries at the end of February. This occurs just before Uranus enters Taurus on March 6 and comes under the rulership of Venus. Altogether, Venus is leading us through an important process for the rest of February in which we will have to face restraining elements within our life, yet by embracing the necessity and making modifications as needed, we will begin preparing personal space for the disruptive and liberating impact of Uranus in Taurus coming in March.

Chiron, Themis and Hebe

Chiron in Aries

The Virgo Full Moon also heralds the arrival of Chiron into Aries, where it will remain until 2027. Chiron is not only at the “Aries point” of zero degrees, it is also forming a quincunx aspect with the Virgo Full Moon. There’s something perfect about the quincunx between the lunation and Chiron, as the Full Moon’s union with Regulus points toward Chiron’s capacity for cultivating heroic qualities. Yet the quincunx aspect brings up the uncomfortable feelings that can come up when the gentle gaze of Chiron prods us to break out of comfortable routines in order to embrace a more courageous, essential expression.

The Full Moon is illuminating our first impressions of what Chiron has in store for us in Aries, the zodiacal terrain in which Chiron orbits as far away from us as it gets toward the orbit of Uranus. As Chiron’s orbit bridges the realms of Saturn and Uranus, in Aries his medicine incites us to follow the emancipatory influence of Uranus and its corresponding breakthrough experiences and reception of revelatory insight. Chiron in Aries wants you to be engaged and active, willing to assert your own integrity rather than succumb to conditioning influences which corrupt your authenticity. This is easier said than done, but fittingly for Chiron’s return to Aries our global society now has an abundance of teaching available on holistic medicine and healing practices to be accessed at our fingertips, as well as to be utilized on the heroic path Chiron is calling us to follow. It is no coincidence that Carl Jung, who promoted the concept of individuation, was born with Chiron in Aries.

 

Virgo 1 Decan

The Full Moon in Virgo arises in the first decan of Virgo associated with the Eight of Pentacles card illustrated above on the left by Pamela Colman Smith. The Virgo Full Moon will peak in light just after the ingress of the Sun into the first decan of Pisces, associated with the Eight of Cups card illustrated above on the right by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image of the Eight of Pentacles we see an artist and craftsman fully engrossed in the moment with his art, concentrating with full attention to one direct focus in the moment. This image evokes the importance of taking things step by step, one task at a time, completing each aspect of the process with loving care and attention. In contrast, within the image of the Eight of Cups we find a figure retreating into a watery, island realm of caves and seclusion ideal for contemplation. Their staff planted in earth, their red cape and boots signify the flowing vitality they may contact within a cultivated space of sacred meditation and ritual.

In the confluence of these images, we may also discover the power the Virgo Full Moon may harvest from its proximity to Regulus: strength in cultivating protected space to focus with loving attention on our sacred arts.  Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Tree Bearing Fruit” to this face, noting the prevalence of images associated with “fruitful works” developed through “humble observation of, and careful tending to, the created world” in ancient texts. Coppock wrote that the first face of Virgo inmates us “into the mysteries of incarnation . . . the prudence of postponing delight until the fruit is ripe.” While Coppock noted the first decan of Virgo involves “humility” at a core level, “it results in works of surprising glory.”

The Sun in the first face of Pisces is the ruler of the first face of Virgo, opening us to a Pisces season which will be extremely memorable due the retrograde movement of Mercury that will strike to the heart of the square aspect between Jupiter and Neptune. The vision of a potential “great work” received within the Virgo Full Moon conjoining Regulus is to be remembered, but expectations for the path toward manifestation to be smooth and easy need to be released. With Uranus on the cusp of entering Taurus, with the coming Mercury retrograde mixing up the depths of Jupiter and Neptune, there will be an ample abundance of imagination and creativity to draw from in any work. Let the creative process flow through you and allow its currents to guide you, letting go of attachment for needing to control things to happen in a certain way at a certain time. Nature and Spirit have their own plan in mind.

References

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

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

de Fouw, Hart & Svoboda, Robert. (1996). Light on Life: Introduction to the Astrology of  India. Lotus Press.

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

Majercik, Ruth. (1989). The Chaldean Oracles. Brill Academic Pub.

Warnock, Christopher. (2010). The Mansions of the Moon: a Lunar Zodiac for Astrology & 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.

Ea_(Babilonian)_-_EnKi_(Sumerian)

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.

Ganymede_Waters_Zeus_as_an_Eagle_by_Thorvaldsen

Ganymede Waters Zeus as an Eagle by Bertel Thorvaldsen

 

Aquarius New Moon & Mercury

Clavis Artis mercury snake woman

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.

atalanta fugiens saturn emblem 12

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.

swords06

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.

Celestial Cazimi of Mercury in Aquarius

man ray electricity

Electricity (1931) Man Ray

Superior Conjunction of Mercury in Aquarius

On 29 January 2019 Mercury unites with the Sun at 9º55’ Aquarius, known as the superior conjunction of Mercury in which the star of Hermes is purified and regenerated in the heart of the Sun. It is known as the “superior” conjunction because Mercury is moving direct and fast on the far side of the Sun from our Earth in orbit, the same place in orbit the “superior” planets Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter also conjoin the Sun.  There is debate amongst astrologers whether or not the superior conjunction is the actual beginning of the entire synodic cycle of Mercury, or if instead the beginning is the inferior conjunction when Mercury is retrograde. Those who prefer the superior conjunction in part use the symbolism of it being a more celestial solar union, that on the far side of the Sun the star of Hermes is experiencing a heavenly communion that seeds its twilight appearance as an Evening Star. In contrast, the inferior conjunction of Mercury when retrograde is more earthy and chthonic, an epiphany in the underworld that seeds the heliacal rising of Mercury as a Morning Star.

No matter your viewpoint regarding which one is the beginning of the total cycle (I feel it’s the inferior conjunction), it is important to realize that both solar unions of Mercury are rebirth moments for Mercury, and so the superior conjunction happening today is a reanimation and revivification of Mercury. The term “cazimi” is a Latin transliteration of Arabic meaning “as if in the heart,” described by Rhetorius of Egypt back in the 6th or 7th century with the Greek term enkardios, meaning “in the heart.” Though Rhetorius defined the boundary of being cazimi as within one degree of the Sun, later medieval astrologers such as Guido Bonatti tightened it to being within sixteen minutes of orb.  When Mercury disappears from visibility under the beams of the Sun around fifteen degrees its significations begin to be consumed by the Sun, similar to the lightheadedness we feel once inside the heat of a sauna or hot spring. Moreover, Mercury’s purifying process becomes even more intense once it is “combust” within nine degrees of its solar union.

For the past couple of weeks, Mercury has been direct in motion and fast in speed, but due to being combust it could have felt like a clouding of our capacity to clarify meaning, like having a rush of too many ideas to find a focused center. As Mercury enters the heart of the Sun (one degree on either side), however, it is like Mercury is satisfyingly seated upon the solar throne, like the star of Hermes is holding the reins of solar steeds within the chariot of Helios. As the significations of Mercury become strengthened on the day of its solar union, so can we coalesce important insights and envision the path to follow into the unknown, rejuvenating our perceptual field.

Mercury Cazimi

Untitled Monogold by Yves Klein (gold leaf on plywood)

“The protected space at the heart of the Sun is the sanctum sanctorum, the innermost holy chamber of the mystery initiations.”

— Demetra George, Ancient Astrology

The superior conjunction of Mercury in Aquarius will facilitate gaining greater clarity over whatever material was stirred up by the Solar Eclipse in Capricorn and Lunar Eclipse in Leo that occurred within the past month. A waning crescent Moon in Sagittarius is applying to Mercury and the Sun in Aquarius through a harmonizing sextile, increasing receptiveness to integrating core lessons and sifting through what needs to be let go. In addition, the celestial cazimi of Mercury in Aquarius is occurring at the same degree that Mars stationed retrograde in Aquarius seven months ago and as a result could also coincide with revelations related to whatever was volatilized by the backward march of Mars. It will be worthwhile to reflect upon the meaning of the Aquarius house in your natal chart as well as the aspects made by ten degrees of the Water Bearer.  Fortunately, Mercury in Aquarius enjoys deep contemplation and united with the Sun can help promote greater objectivity in reflection.

Interestingly, since the superior conjunction of Mercury is at 9º55’ Aquarius it is on the threshold of crossing from the first to the second decan of Aquarius. There is a bridging quality to this solar union of Mercury in Aquarius befitting the crossing of a border between known and unknown territory.  As we approach the close of an eclipse season, Mercury in Aquarius will help with the necessary process of stripping away old beliefs and identities, fortifying our ability to follow the inner guidance of our heart and mysterious inner knowing. In addition, the superior conjunction of Mercury in Aquarius is also bridging the Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius that occurred last November with the upcoming Mercury retrograde in Pisces that will happen next March. Since both of these Mercury retrograde phases are centered around tension between Jupiter in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces, the union of Mercury with the Sun in Aquarius can ideally help us dissolve away any illusions or delusions attached to our imaginal visions.

rene magritte telescope

The Telescope (1967) Rene Magritte

After Mercury in Aquarius separates from its union with the Sun it will begin applying to a sextile aspect with Jupiter in Sagittarius. Since the Aquarius superior conjunction is occurring at the midpoint of two Mercury retrograde phases centered around Jupiter and Neptune, Mercury in Aquarius can help us receive an insightful message regarding the last quarter square phase occurring between Jupiter and Neptune throughout 2019. Dane Rudhyar wrote that the Jupiter and Neptune cycle points toward essential steps to take in transforming “our traditional social sense,” explaining it can not only bring “a new awareness of what human relationship can mean,” but also that “it is the accumulation of these small changes which at last allows the great revolutionary events to happen.” It may be hard at times to feel positive about changes in human relationships given the gross amounts of discord occurring in current events, yet it is exactly at such a time that each individual choice to make a change for the better can begin to swing the tide.

The Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius and Scorpio that occurred last November involved Mercury stationing in a square aspect with Neptune and then regenerating in the heart of the Sun while also conjoining Jupiter. During the upcoming Mercury retrograde in Pisces that will begin on March 6, Mercury will station retrograde within range of a square with Jupiter and then ultimately station direct while conjoining Neptune in Pisces. This means that Mercury will end up making three conjunctions with Neptune in Pisces as well as three square aspects with Jupiter in Sagittarius. Due to the approaching Mercury retrograde in Pisces, we can know that on the horizon we will be taken into an underworld journey leading us to question the inner sources of our vision. Normally we are only aware of the surface manifestations of our subconscious soul, swimming, surfing, or sailing atop the waves, occasionally taking a deep dive into the underwater of our unconscious. The Mercury retrograde in Pisces coming in March will plunge us deeper into the imaginal ground underlying Neptune’s oceanic field.

Whether we ultimately experience a deepening of the current vision coalescing now during the Mercury retrograde in March, or instead realize we need to radically change directions, the important thing for now is to focus on whatever is speaking to our authentic nature. Sometimes we need to be drawn toward a goal not so much to achieve the goal we set out to achieve, but to instead learn an essential lesson that then leads us to create a more important new goal. Now that we are coming to the close of a tumultuous period of eclipses, we can reconsider what values are most worthwhile for us to prioritize, reformulating a more essential integrity to embody.

Interestingly, the sabian symbol for the degree of Mercury’s superior conjunction is “A MAN WHO HAD FOR A TIME BECOME THE EMBODIMENT OF A POPULAR IDEAL IS MADE TO REALIZE THAT AS A PERSON HE IS NOT THIS IDEAL.” This symbol works well for the solar conjunction of Mercury in Aquarius can burn off old identities, especially with regard to separating our essential self from the roles and ideals we have taken on within the collective.

jasper johns star

Star (1954) Jasper Johns

Mercury forms a six pointed, hexagonal star within its synodic cycle with the sun, a fitting symbol for its nature of bringing together the above and below (the upward pointing triangle formed by superior conjunctions; the downward pointing triangle formed by inferior conjunctions). Gary Caton in his book Hermetica Triptycha showed the elemental aspect of this hexagon, as Mercury has a pattern of often forming the downward pointing triangle in one astrological element, while the upward pointing triangle occurs in another. While the Mercury retrograde phases occurred in Fire signs from the end of 2017 through 2018, this year we transition into the Mercury retrogrades primarily occurring in water signs of Pisces in March, Cancer in July (though in July the stationing retrograde of Mercury will be at the beginning of Leo before moving back into Cancer), and Scorpio in November 2019. The Mercury retrograde phases will continue to occur in the Water signs of Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio until the end of 2020, and so it will be helpful to reflect upon what houses you have in Water signs in your natal chart and what sort of mercurial changes could occur therein.

What phase are we in now within this six pointed star? As Mercury begins to separate from the Aquarius Sun on January 30 it will experience another purifying period of being invisible under the beams of the Sun as we work on integrating whatever new insights and presence have emerged. Mercury will make an oracular appearance as an Evening Star around February 16, becoming visible in twilight, glimmering on the western horizon. In the week surrounding Mercury’s reappearance, it’s likely you will gain much more clarity regarding the ideas beginning to formulate in your mind during the superior conjunction, and there will also be pivotal announcements in current events. Interestingly, astronomers have stated that February will be the best evening sky appearances for viewing Mercury in all of 2019; perhaps in correlation it will also be especially illuminating within our mind. This will be an auspicious time to be engaged in all things mercurial, from writing about new ideas to translating ancient ones into new understanding. Mercury will then reach maximum elongation on February 26 at 27º Pisces, which will be the best time to view Mercury in twilight. This date also marks a deepening into the alchemical Mercury retrograde process, with Mercury ultimately stationing retrograde on March 6 at 29º38’ Pisces.

References

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

George, Demetra. (2019). Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice: a Manual of Traditional Techniques. Rubedo Press.

Rudhyar, Dane.  (1958).  The Jupiter-Neptune Cycle.  Horoscope Magazine.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1973). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases.

Solar Eclipse in Capricorn

Solar Eclipse in Capricorn

Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (1907) The Past

Solar Eclipse in Capricorn

“. . . those historical layers in ourselves which we have just overcome and left behind, or which we think we have overcome. It is like the paradise of childhood from which we imagine we have emerged, but which at the slightest provocation imposes fresh defeats upon us. Indeed, our cult of progress is in danger of imposing on us even more childish dreams of the future, the harder it presses us to escape from the past.”

— Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections p. 244

Our ancestors for as far back as it seems we can imagine have honored the impact of eclipses. Anyone who has witnessed firsthand the blackening of the sun can attest to the otherworldliness conjured by our solar light becoming consumed by the multiplicity of night. When I witnessed the total solar eclipse in August 2017 that was visible in my homeland, Venus, normally shrouded by the rays of the sun, became unveiled in all her brightness at the midheaven of mid-day. Indeed, the quality of light during a solar eclipse is unlike any other, invoking a fertile matrix being opened within a dark void of the sky. Realities that have been hidden from our perception arise forcibly into our awareness, whether their source is from our unconscious or within external dynamics we had been unable to observe due to the glare from our subjectivity.

Similarly, in astrology eclipses are known as times in which we experience an intensification of forms entering and leaving our life. Since the partial solar eclipse in Capricorn occurring on January 5 or 6 (depending on your locality) is the first of a series of Capricorn eclipses, it will bring an amplified introduction of new themes into our life while we simultaneously need to let go of numerous aspects of our old attachments and identity. Themes of release and purification will be especially emphasized as the eclipse is occurring at 15º25’ Capricorn on the side of the South Node of the Moon at 26º43’ Capricorn. We will  have eclipses occurring in Capricorn and Cancer from now through the first half of 2020, and so one way to prepare is to become acquainted with the houses and aspects of your natal chart that will be effected.

Due to Saturn in Capricorn ruling the eclipse less than four degrees away from the syzygy, an immense theme of discharge will involve your relationship with Saturn in Capricorn and concepts such as discipline, hard work, contemplation, mastery, authority, death, the dead, and the enduring. Your relationship with Pluto in Capricorn is also paramount, as the eclipse is applying toward a conjunction with Pluto and is close to the midpoint of Saturn and Pluto. Moreover, the eclipse is occurring within seven degrees of the south nodes of both Saturn and Pluto, with Pluto closely conjoining its own south node. To paraphrase some of Dane Rudhyar’s ideas on the planetary nodes, we are experiencing the essentiality of Pluto affecting our individual roots within civilization, both the putrefaction of plutonic toxicity as well as the creative empowerment that comes from claiming our inner authority within the collective chaos.

As a result, it will be advisable to reflect and meditate upon your interface with Capricorn, Saturn, and Pluto. How are you feeling about your current ambitions, responsibilities, and how you have been measuring up with results? What aspects of your goals do you need to let go of in order to be more nurturing toward yourself? What patterns of behavior and perception do you need to purify or release in order to be more effective in pursuit of your aspirations? What do you need to release, remember, or regain from your past, or honor and bring back as a resource from your ancestors? Instead of focusing upon ambitious, external, worldly ideas of progress, are you instead being called to focus within your inner depths?

Solar Eclipse in Capricorn

Marc Chagall (1915-19) Anywhere out of the World

“The dragon, or serpent, represents the initial state of unconsciousness, for this animal loves, as the alchemists say, to dwell in “caverns and dark places.” Unconsciousness has to be sacrificed; only then can one find the entrance into the head, and the way to conscious knowledge and understanding. Once again the universal struggle of the hero with the dragon is enacted, and each time at its victorious conclusion the sun rises: consciousness dawns, and it is perceived that the transformation process is taking place inside the temple, that is, in the head.”

— Carl Jung, “The Visions of Zosimos” from Alchemical Studies

From ancient times eclipses have been portrayed as a great dragon consuming our Sun and Moon, with the North Node of the Moon being 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 seeding new forms, eclipses can also enhance our capacity to purify material attachments.  Especially due to the Capricorn Solar Eclipse emphasizing the tail of the dragon, the headless Ketu, the emphasis will be on spiritual sacrifice and releasing fixations, entering the mysterious unknown. As the eclipse loosens the binding of the nodal knot, we may weave together new growth from the intersection between our past, present, and future.

In addition to Saturn and Pluto playing enormous roles within the dynamics of the partial solar eclipse, Uranus is also holding a strange, impactful influence as it is stationing direct at the same time as the solar eclipse while forming a square to the transiting lunar nodes.  Uranus at the southern bending of the lunar nodes is also forming a quincunx with Venus in Scorpio, which is notable due to the long opposition between Uranus and Venus that fertilized new meaning from September through the end of November. As Uranus stations direct in Aries for the final time (a transit that has been building since 2010), there is a fiery aspect of your inner light and vision wishing to break free and liberate you from any fear of fully committing to  manifesting it. The barriers you feel are in the way, all your reasons for making excuses to not do it, will be obvious. Uranus wants to know what you plan to do about it anyway.

Uranus is also in a 7th harmonic aspect to the Capricorn Solar Eclipse through a bi-septile. It’s not the only 7th harmonic aspect within the eclipse, as there is also a septile between Venus in Scorpio with Pluto in Capricorn as well as a tri-septile between Mercury in Capricorn with the North Node of the Moon in Cancer. My first astrology teacher Rosie Finn has described the 7th harmonic as an otherworldly descent of the strange and mystical, a dissolving of boundaries that creatively enables us to transcend everyday reality.  With Uranus stationing while squaring the lunar nodes, this could feel more like the bizarre blasting into our life. By opening to letting go of some old attachments, we will clear space for something new to alter our sense of what is possible.

Our ability to imagine the possibility of bringing inner dreams and visions into reality, no matter how strange, is further emphasized by the Capricorn Solar Eclipse forming a harmonious sextile aspect with Neptune in Pisces. Furthermore, Jupiter in Sagittarius is also applying toward a catalytic square aspect with Neptune in Pisces that will become exact a week later on January 13. This will be the first of three square aspects between Jupiter and Neptune (June 16 and September 21 will be the subsequent two), one of the dominant astrological themes of 2019 that provides a potent remediation of boosting capacities for imagining possibilities that counterbalances the constrictive influence of Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn. The dissolving, visionary influence of Neptune is mediating between Saturn and Jupiter all year, through a sextile aspect with Saturn and a square aspect with Jupiter.

The square between Jupiter and Neptune is a waning one stretching back to the beginning of their current cycle in 2009, and therefore involves a deep change in what we envision is possible and the meaning of life we live from. These aspects also indicate disillusionment striking about civilization and our place within it; though these feelings can be difficult they also allow a reorientation to a deeper personal truth. Rather than having fear or anxiety underly vision, find a place of centered empowerment from which to cast your creative intentions and dreams into the unknown future. The influence of Neptune and Jupiter make the Capricorn Solar Eclipse potent in terms of revisioning the beliefs underlying your aspirations, opening yourself to the potential of creating more of the life you want to live in a way that also involves realistic steps for fulfillment.

Solar Eclipse in Capricorn

from the Clavis Artis (18th Century)

“The wise old man is what he is because he has endured everything the earth can throw at him but, although he can seem so thoughtful to others, doesn’t think or consider. This is the state he always abides in, which is the place of no abiding at all where spirit is united with earth. He just is the earth’s suffering, made conscious; its beauty and pain; its humanity.”

— Peter Kingsley, Catafalque

Mercury in Capricorn is co-present with the Solar Eclipse, Saturn, and Pluto in Capricorn and is headed toward a conjunction with Saturn. In between eclipses, Mercury will unite with Saturn on January 13, the same day as the exact square between Jupiter and Neptune. Mercury will them move on to form a conjunction with Pluto on January 18 a couple of days before the Total Lunar Eclipse in Leo that ripens on January 20. Mercury is hidden under the beams of the sun during this liminal time of eclipses, doing the secret work of the subconscious by mixing together the meaning of Saturn and Pluto being enveloped by the eclipse.

It’s an alchemical role for Mercury to play, and in Capricorn while applying to Saturn there is incredible thoroughness willing to soak up the sentience of stone within the dexterous movements of Mercury. However, Mercury is also applying to a catalytic square aspect with Mars in Aries at the time of the eclipse, adding an impulsive, initiating quality to the work of Hermes. If there is a great ambition you are harboring within to manifest in 2019, Mercury is in ideal position at the eclipse to bring your attention to the hidden, underlying issues at its root. No matter your intentions, Mercury will be probing under the surface of your daily routines and effort noticing where there can be greater efficiency and effectiveness. Due to the friction between Mars and Mercury, there can be inspired communication but be careful to not needlessly provoke conflict or rush off into an enterprise before you are properly prepared.

Venus remains a beacon of bright light before sunrise, and has finally reached the final degrees of Scorpio at the time of the Capricorn Solar Eclipse. Venus has separated from Ceres in Scorpio while forming a watery triangle with Chiron in Pisces and the North Node of the Moon in Cancer. We will have opportunities to grieve loss, soothe our old wounds, and take responsibility for our part in past dynamics, but there is a vital quality of Venus at the eclipse beckoning us into the present in order to bring value to what needs our attention in the here and now. In the forthcoming waxing of the Moon, Venus will be entering Sagittarius and then heading toward a union with Jupiter which will culminate at the same time as the upcoming Total Lunar Eclipse in Leo. Venus is drawing us to engage with the type of epic vision that Jupiter in Sagittarius loves best.

Amazingly, while we will have a union of the benefics, Venus and Jupiter, during the upcoming eclipse season, we will also experience the malefic friction of Mars and Saturn forming a change inducing square aspect at the same time as the upcoming lunar eclipse. Mars in Aries forming a square with Saturn in Capricorn can demand direct ordering and coordination that enables a quick and smooth implementation of plans, and if we are not careful we can burn under its glare for not meeting expectations of optimal performance. However, with Venus and Jupiter also uniting in Sagittarius we are being asked to imbibe the integrity of our essential values and meaning into whatever we are working on, being willing to patiently wait for a more natural manifestation of form.  At its best these aspects support putting in disciplined exertion to a craft or art we have filled with meaning and purpose, focusing on the intrinsic motivation of creation rather than external judgment.

Solar Eclipse in Capricorn

3 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

Capricorn 2 Decan

The Solar Eclipse falls in the second decan of Capricorn associated with the Three of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image of the Three of Pentacles we see a skilled sculptor in process of creating a divinely inspired masterwork in a monastery.  There is a consultation taking place between the artisan and authorities associated with the institution, with carefully drawn plans for the masterpiece on display.  Fittingly, Mars and Venus are the co-rulers of the second decan of Capricorn, as it is a face in which great works can be created through collaboration, careful planning, and incredible effort bonded with artistic vision.

Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Pyramid” to the second decan of Capricorn, noting it is a place where sublime works of material manifestation are completed.  Coppock wrote that as the focus of this face is on “structuring the territory itself,” there is a necessity for blueprints as well as hard work in collaboration with numerous resources if we want to complete our grand vision. Coppock wrote that while there is a necessity to bind our effort to the form and guidance of a blueprint, he also cautioned to take care in the “enduring consequences” created by becoming consumed by the creation of a grand magnum opus. Coppock described the need to distill ambition from hubris in order “to achieve purity of purpose,” a worthy separation to keep in mind as we tangle with the tail of the dragon in the Capricorn Solar Eclipse.

Capricorn involves the maturity and responsibility cultivated through facing and dealing with natural cycles of change, listening within for when it is time to act as well as refrain from excessive activity. The Capricorn Solar Eclipse has the unique astrological timing of initiating us into the starry themes of 2019 at the same time that the human designed calendar begins, not long after the rebirth that comes with the solstice. Though we know that our societies are formed by laws, regulations, norms and taboos designed to create a stable whole, we sometimes forget to reflect upon how our conformity to societal norms can limit our essential growth and make us too concerned with external judgment. As the sun becomes partially eclipsed by the moon, we can likewise retreat within our own darkness to reformulate how we work with time and space in creating our world.

References

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

Jung, Carl. (1967). Alchemical Studies. Bollingen.

Jung, Carl. (1965). Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Recorded and edited by Aniela Jaffe. Vintage.

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

 

Full Moon in Cancer: Solstice Light

Full Moon in Cancer

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year by Max Ernst

Cancer Full Moon

The solstice gets its name from the Sun standing still by declination, reaching its lowest depth in the northern hemisphere at the turn toward the winter, while reaching its peak height in the southern hemisphere at the shift into summer. A time of rebirth within the darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, we imagine the Sun pausing in contemplation as we welcome and honor its increasing rise and presence in our life. Each day after the solstice on December 21 in the northern hemisphere we will experience more solar light, while in contrast the southern hemisphere will experience the initial decline from maximum solar light. Thus in the northern hemisphere, the Full Moon in Cancer on December 22 brings the striking symbolism of peak lunar light illuminating the longest stretch of night, while in the southern hemisphere it aligns with the longest days of the year.

The Moon rules the lunation from its home of Cancer and as it separates from its opposition with the Sun it will begin applying to an opposition with Saturn in Capricorn. After the Moon completes its opposition with Saturn on December 23, it will begin applying toward the formation of a watery triangle with Neptune in Pisces and Venus in Scorpio. As a result the Full Moon in Cancer will illuminate a hard, unflinching examination of the current state of affairs that opens a window to imaginal visions of whatever we wish to manifest that is currently lacking. The overwhelming emphasis, however, is on Saturn as the Capricorn Sun is simultaneously initiating its annual regeneration with the ringed planet (the new cycle between Saturn and the Sun will begin on the first day of 2019).

Thus the Full Moon in Cancer is ideal for taking a pause within the trajectory of current motion, reflecting upon events across the past year while pondering what you want to set in motion in the year ahead. The strong influence of Saturn brings the necessity of taking responsibility for wherever you find yourself and remembering that even at the darkest moment of despair we can summon the resiliency needed to make the most of current circumstances. The overemphasis on water signs connected through flowing aspects between Venus, Neptune, and the Moon could dredge up difficult emotions concerning any areas of our life we feel like we haven’t been doing our best. Fortunately, the Cancer Full Moon does have supportive aspects for self-nurturing as well as comforting and soothing others who are overwhelmed with difficult feelings.

Solargraph

Solargraph taken from the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment

The Moon in Cancer rules the Full Moon and is headed toward a union with the North Node of the Moon in Cancer, emphasizing the Moon’s new position as the ruler of its transiting North Node. Since Rahu now has the speedy Moon as its ruler, we will experience the North Node in Cancer uniting with its lunar ruler once a month during the next year and a half of the lunar nodes transiting Cancer and Capricorn (the North Node will be in Cancer until May 2020). The union between the Cancer Moon and its North Node on December 24 will be the second time so far that the Moon has conjoined its North Node in Cancer, the first time being on November 26 during the period that both Jupiter and Mercury retrograde were being regenerated in union with the Sun. Since Mercury and Jupiter are uniting in Sagittarius at the time of solstice, the Cancer Full Moon will bring stark clarity regarding whatever has been coming into our life in the past month.

Whenever the Moon conjoins its own North Node in Cancer we will have the opportunity to discern new choices regarding the desires drawing us forward as always, but the nodal rulership being activated will bring an intensification of hunger and pull.  Since the Moon in Cancer will also be moving through oppositions with both Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn on its way toward uniting with its North Node each month, the astrological symbolism suggests we will be experiencing an intense lunar passage through Cancer each month highlighting whatever we want to protect and nurture more so than normal. Thus the Cancer Full Moon initiates us into one of the most important astrological themes of 2019. Since the Moon signifies a constantly changing emotional landscape, the more we can sift through inner feelings to find the desires laying at the heart of passing dynamics, the more we can feel centered and grounded in whatever processes of growth we are engaged with.

Full Moon in Cancer

Stonehenge by John Constable

After the Full Moon culminates and the Moon enters the waning half of its lunar cycle, we enter the mysterious matrix of eclipse season that brings a heightened experience of forms entering and passing away. There will be a Solar Eclipse in Capricorn on January 5 followed by a Total Lunar Eclipse in Leo on January 20. As Saturn in Capricorn is a foundational influence more so than normal in the next month, keep in mind the temporal nature of difficult emotions that could come up with our life not currently being in a desired condition. We are likely to feel the weight of responsibilities we have taken on and the ramifications of whatever we wish to initiate more fiercely than normal. By being mindful of the bigger picture and where we hope to be in the years ahead, ideally we can recenter in the present and figure out steps available to move toward the larger vision.

Not only is Saturn and Pluto co-present with the transiting South Node of the Moon in Capricorn, there is also an added factor that in the next year Pluto and Saturn will be coming together in close proximity with their own south nodes, meaning the south nodes of Saturn, Pluto, and the Moon will all be uniting with the coming conjunction of Saturn and Pluto. There is an ancient arc of dominant societal influences being brought to collective attention, creating a tidal force from the collective unconscious to navigate. We can observe myriad signs in current events indicating the decay of global civilizations and underlying structures. Yet even beyond this we can sense the severe weight of collective history, of the havoc wreaked by world powers and their impact on our present state of being.

The silvery, luminescent light of the Cancer Full Moon will create space for compassion, compassion for both ourselves and others in the ways we have been conditioned overtly and covertly by societal forces. Through dialogue and listening, through feeling all the grief and emotions, we can begin to loosen the hold of history in order to not only decondition as needed, but also find strength in the traditions that bring healing. While difficult ancestral karma may come up, the emphasis on Saturn facilitates support and resources to be found in the old as well as the ancestral realm.

splendor solis sunset

from the Splendor Solis

In the pre-dawn darkness of solstice season we have a host of planetary allies heralding the coming rise of the Sun. Brightest and highest is Venus in her Morning Star role as light bringer, but we can also witness Mercury and Jupiter visible as Morning Stars before sunrise. In fact, Mercury is barely beginning to separate from Jupiter in Sagittarius at the time of the Cancer Full Moon, providing a spark to light inner fires of inspiration.  The union of Mercury and Jupiter helps bring to a close the retrograde transits concluding 2018: Venus has now moved beyond the degrees where she previously stationed retrograde, and while Mercury is still a few degrees away during the Cancer Full Moon its final union with Jupiter brings resolution.

Venus in Scorpio is currently in a supportive relationship with Mars in Pisces making it a great time to formulate plans and begin taking action toward whatever essential values you unearthed during the Venus retrograde transit of recent months. The trine between Venus with Neptune in Pisces is dreamy and restorative, perfect for luxuriating in pleasurable sensual experiences as well as for providing healing support in service to others in need. If you’ve been overwhelmed by stress from current events, it’s also a supportive transit for creatively active imaginal escape. Combined with the influence of Mercury and Jupiter in Sagittarius, it’s a potent time for finding words and forms to manifest and make real images and ideas that have been brewing within.

Whether or not you celebrate any of the religious holidays associated with this solstice season, the astrological transits and timing make it an ideal time to gather with those you love and who support you. We have finally reached a stage that will facilitate looking back toward the dramatic changes brought by the year 2018 that involved an intense sequence of Mars retrograde, eclipses, Venus retrograde, and a trio of fiery Mercury retrograde transits deeply connected to all of the former.  In the fire kindled by Mercury and Jupiter, within the watery flow between Venus, Neptune, and the Moon, listen within to whatever you want to voice and enact in the light of the Full Moon. It may be hard to understand the reasons for all of the changes that have come, but we can now feel more clearly where the changes are taking us. In the words of Rainer Maria Rilke, “Past upon past has been planted in you, / in order out of you, like a garden, to rise.”

 

Sagittarius New Moon of Changes

Sagittarius New Moon

Dionysus Ear by Vera Berdich

Sagittarius New Moon

The fertile darkness of the New Moon in Sagittarius on December 7 pulsates with imaginal and visionary undercurrents. There is a powerful interplay between the signs of Sagittarius and Pisces, as the New Moon and Jupiter in Sagittarius are in a catalyzing square aspect with Mars and Neptune in Pisces. While Mars uniting with Neptune brings creative willpower to the lunation, the fiery force of Jupiter behind the New Moon ignites determination for expansive goals which flow from a sharpened focus toward the sparked inspiration. While Sagittarius and Pisces are signs that promote far reaching dreams that go far beyond present circumstances, neither sign is known for taking the time to build stalwart foundations to launch endeavors from. As the Sagittarius Moon darkens and is reborn in solar light, survey the roots of burgeoning plans in order to redirect imaginative problem solving toward any underlying aspects in need of tending.

Mercury takes center stage at the New Moon, as it is stationing direct at 28° Scorpio and saturating the astrological atmosphere with its tricky nature of curious questioning, contesting, and interconnection. Thus the New Moon brings to a close the transit of Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius and Scorpio that began November 16, and so just as the meaning of the forthcoming lunar cycle begins to take form we will also be integrating the insights gleaned from Mercury’s liminal retrograde passage. This past Mercury retrograde has been especially otherworldly and at odds with focused diligence at times, yet within the underworld path blazed by the star of Hermes we have been given opportunities for dissolving old patterns and opening to new purposeful paths to follow forward. With Mercury stationing it is imperative to maintain awareness of whatever details demand our attention and any signs indicating shifts of shapes to come.

Since the recent Mercury retrograde began in strong aspect with Neptune it may have brought some communication mishaps, but it has also been powerful for revisioning life and dreaming up new plans for the future. Mercury returning to predawn skies as a Morning Star while shifting direct provides impetus for making the preparations and finding the resources to embark in a new direction. Because Mercury in Scorpio is ruled by Mars as it applies to Neptune in conjunction, it suggests we can now take determined action toward manifesting whatever ingenious ideas began brewing in the time surrounding November 16. Mercury in Scorpio brings the resolve to push through unforeseen obstacles and the penetrating determination necessary for persisting along a path that shakes up whatever had become status quo.

Jupiter Luna

The Alchemical Manual by Ulrich Ruosch

Jupiter in Sagittarius rules the New Moon at the beginning of a new cycle with the Sun. Although Jupiter remains invisible during the New Moon, as the Moon waxes in light one week later Jupiter will become visible for the first time in Sagittarius as a Morning Star.  Ever since Jupiter has been in Sagittarius it has been undergoing the regenerative purification it experiences in the weeks surrounding its solar conjunction. Similar to how New Moons are effective for inner visioning and intention more so than projecting willpower in action, so has the new synodic phase of Jupiter we have been experiencing so far in Sagittarius been ideal for letting go of outdated beliefs and kindling a more authentic inner purpose to bring into life.

Due to the close co-presence of Jupiter with the New Moon, the darkness of the Sagittarius lunation nurtures with an uplifting quality that restores enthusiasm for engaging inner desire and directing energy toward whatever cultivates intrinsic motivation. If you can create time for reflection it is a beautiful lunation for allowing  yourself to imagine new possibilities without constraints and negation. After you allow yourself to fully visualize the essential meaning you wish to bring into the world, you can then reorient your ideal image with the reality of what you can currently begin working on in your present circumstances.

At the same time, the mutable nature of the Sagittarius New Moon and Jupiter clashing with Mars and Neptune in Pisces also indicates a great deal of volatile conflict in collective events, in particular within polarizing disputes in which each side is engaging from separate realities and dogmatic beliefs making mediation near impossible.  We are entering the last quarter, waning square aspect between Jupiter in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces which will be one of the major aspects of 2019. The last quarter square between Jupiter and Neptune signifies a collective shift in consciousness stemming from the beginning of the current Jupiter and Neptune cycle in 2009 in Aquarius. Though conflicts may intensify, the deeper meaning of the Jupiter and Neptune cycle indicates that the repercussions from the discord will bring the disillusionment needed to reorient beliefs around new knowledge gained from the experience.

Sagittarius New Moon

The Alchemical Manual by Ulrich Ruosch

Though the signs of Sagittarius and Pisces share the mutable modality and the rulership of Jupiter, their core friction comes from a dissimilarity in elemental nature. While Sagittarius is an outwardly projected, swift and spirited fire sign stimulating change, in contrast Pisces is an inwardly directed, receptive and soulful water sign that dissolves and coheres new forms.  Mars and Neptune in Pisces slow down our driving will force so as to allow events to take more of their own shape rather than the rapid, visionary trail blazing preferred by Jupiter and the New Moon in Sagittarius. The fires of the martial forge may be brought under the surface to spark self realization regarding the irrational depth of our inner nature and motivation. Since Jupiter is receiving Mars and Neptune through an inciting square aspect, it’s likely that the matrix of the lunation will seed a crucial change in the purpose we live life from and the inspirational sources spurring us forward.

There is a large influence from water signs within the lunation: Mars, Neptune, and Chiron occupying Pisces, Venus, Ceres, and Mercury inhabiting Scorpio, and the North Node of the Moon transiting Cancer. Moreover, there is also a water triangle formed by Mercury stationing direct in Scorpio, Chiron stationing direct in Pisces, and the North Node of the Moon in Cancer.  These aspects will draw us even deeper into the roots of present circumstances, probing to uncover previously hidden factors and absorbing emotional poisons for purification. Emotions may be deeply stirred and felt, and so making space to simply be present with feelings or sharing feelings with others will help in moving through this period rather than becoming stuck in emotive stagnation.

The return of Venus to the first decan of Scorpio means we are finally entering the final phase of the recent Venus retrograde, bringing to a close whatever tales of Venus began to take shape toward the end of September. Venus is direct as a Morning Star having been purified and regenerated during its underworld passage, and so its watery relationship with Mars in Pisces will aid in integrating the essential lessons gathered over the past few months. Venus in Scorpio is finally moving away from its opposition with Uranus, bringing whatever breakthrough ideas emerged forward into its intuitive, emotive association with Mars and Neptune. We may find healing from wounds that first became tender back in June when Mars stationed retrograde, healing from whatever was torn asunder in 2018.

After Mercury stations direct on the same day as the Sagittarius New Moon, Mercury will remain in watery Scorpio until December 12 when it will return to the mutable fire of Sagittarius. Just as we are taking in the final lessons of the recent Venus retrograde, in the week after the New Moon we will also want to integrate whatever lessons we learned through the course of the Mercury retrograde that has been going on for the past three weeks. Venus and Mercury moving direct as Morning Stars in Scorpio will demand honest exchanges and appraisals, and are perfect placements for being uncompromising in manifesting whatever new creation is ready to emerge.

Sagittarius New Moon

Sarcophagus with the Triumph of Dionysus and the Seasons

The Full Moon in Cancer that follows the New Moon in Sagittarius will ripen in full light only a day after the Capricorn Solstice on December 21. The time of peak darkness in the northern hemisphere that heralds the return of solar light (while the time of peak light in the southern hemisphere initiating summer), the solstice this year will host the magical convergence of a fully waxing Moon combined with the final conjunction between Mercury and Jupiter in Sagittarius. Interestingly, while the union of Mercury and Jupiter at the solstice speaks of soaring vision and songs of muses, the Cancer Full Moon that follows will be applying to an opposition with Saturn in Capricorn and thus involves serious, determined gravitas. There is enormous potential within the surrounding aspects of the solstice for birthing forms and ideas that combine inspiring imagination with the sturdy structure and foundation of Saturn.

In particular, the union of Mercury and Jupiter at the solstice will bring to a close a complex process that has been taking shape since October 29 when Mercury and Jupiter first united at 28° Scorpio, the same degree that Mercury stations direct at during the Sagittarius New Moon. As the Sun stands still at the solstice, with Mercury and Jupiter uniting in predawn skies, we can receive an expansive flowering of whatever seeds we nurture at the New Moon in Sagittarius.

Sagittarius New Moon

9 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Sagittarius 2 Decan

The New Moon arises in the second face of Sagittarius associated with the Nine of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image a bandaged and alert figure stands with his chosen staff planted firmly in the ground, with eight other wands of varying size rooted behind him. There is a resilient strength and courage to persist in the face of opposition found here that resonates with the meaning of the second face of Sagittarius. It is significant that the figure has been wounded at the top of his head, as a modus operandi of Sagittarius is the unification of fiery spirit with the will of the body.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Bridle” to the second face of Sagittarius, stating that the battles and conflicts pictured in the Nine of Wands card “are necessary to inflame the will and provide the heat necessary for the fusion of the mind and body.” Coppock praised the capacity of the second face of Sagittarius “to keep the body and mind in line with intention, despite contrary forces,” but cautioned against bringing “fierce resistance” to all opposition as the decan also holds a lesson of learning when “to yield in order to gain mastery.”

The Moon (descending rulership scheme) and Mars (triplicity rulership scheme) are the co-rulers of the second face of Sagittarius, more deeply unlocking the fertile friction between the Sagittarius New Moon forming a square with Mars and Neptune in Pisces. This tense aspect between Mars and the Moon at the heart of the lunation echoes the core meaning of the second face of Sagittarius described by Austin Coppock in 36 Faces. While the lunation can promote unifying assets around a targeted goal, it is vital that we also deeply consider the underlying motivation and ethical considerations of our quest and its rippling impact in the wider world. Rather than stubbornly maintaining defensive attitudes, we need to remain open to being wrong and having the willingness to modify and reorient vision as necessary.

The dichotomy of fighting to protect a vision, whether it is securing a boon through victory or bewailing the loss of defeat, is found in ancient textual images of the second decan of Sagittarius. In the Birhat Jakarta a golden woman of grace picks up gems from the ocean, while in The Beginning of Wisdom by Ibn Ezra as well as the Yavanajataka there is a chest of golden ornaments and jewels set before a beautiful woman. These images are in contrast to images in other tomes signifying sadness and fear, such as a “lamenting woman” in Three Books of Occult Philosophy.  These images of mourning and unearthed treasure are also curiously resonant with the figure of Kore (aka Persephone) who was ascribed to the second face of Sagittarius by the Hellenistic text the 36 Airs. Austin Coppock linked Kore’s presence here with her form as Persephone Praxidike, mistress of the furies and the forces of nemesis that create the adversarial force necessary to bring forth our most heroic qualities.

Kore, daughter of the sky god and earth goddess, queen of the underworld, is interesting to consider in relation to the Sagittarius New Moon coinciding with the conclusion of our experience of the recent Venus retrograde. Venus has now returned to Scorpio having completed her underworld journey, and is applying to a conjunction with Ceres, the dwarf planet named after the mother of Kore. Venus stationed retrograde on October 5 while conjoining the Persephone asteroid, and when Venus re-entered Libra at the end of October after being reborn in the heart of the Sun, Ceres was waiting to unite with her at the end of Libra. Venus journeying with Ceres now in Scorpio is seasoned and savvy, bearing a penetrative eye and productive spirit similar to the mature Kore who returns to the side of her goddess mother above ground.

When Kore ascends to the upper world she retains connection with her presence in the underworld where she is a mediatrix of soul. While Kore conducts work and connects in relationship above ground, she remembers her role underground guiding souls. The repeated retrograde, underworld transits we have been experiencing since June 2018 may have brought dark nights of the soul, yet as we come to the ending of the year we can sense the renewed strength, talent, and understanding we have been able to harvest from inner landscapes. In the blackness of the Sagittarius New Moon, feel the fire of electrifying, animating creative vision rising from within, allowing yourself the freedom of taking in a widening of potential possibilities.

References

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

Mercury Retrograde in Sagittarius & Scorpio

Mercury Retrograde in Sagittarius

Cracked Ice by Maruyama Okyo

My room and this vastness, / awake over the darkening land,– / are one. I am a string, / stretched tightly over wide / raging resonances.

Things are violin-bodies / full of murmuring darkness: / in it dreams the weeping of women, / in it the grudge of whole / generations stirs in its sleep . . . / I shall vibrate / like silver; then everything / beneath me will live, / and whatever wanders lost in things / will strive toward the light / that from my dancing tone– / around which the heavens pulse– / through thin, pining rifts / into the old / abysses endlessly / falls . . .

–Rainer Maria Rilke, On the Edge of Night translated by Edward Snow

Many live life sourced from beliefs they hardly take time to consider. Not the idealized philosophy or vision of life you find most inspiring, but how you actually live your life.  It’s the image shot forth from inner realms at the target of thought pondering what’s around the corner and what choices you have in response. Sometimes we have a moment of realizing how these beliefs have been conditioned by external influences, or rather shaped by internal waters that have become frozen into rigid patterns over time.  The Mercury retrograde that begins in Sagittarius on November 16 and ends in Scorpio on December 6 will bring opportunities to discern how well our daily perceptions and underlying beliefs are aligned with both the hard reality of present circumstances as well as the future oriented, imaginal vision of the life we wish to bring into our reality.

“It is a soul-realm as the primordial foundation of all actualizations in life . . . a middle realm between being and non-being . . . The primordial mediator and messenger moves between the absolute ‘no’ and the absolute ‘yes,’ or, more correctly, between two ‘no’s’ that are lined up against each other, between two enemies, between woman and man. In this [Hermes] stands on ground that is no ground, and there he creates the way. From out of a trackless world – unrestricted, flowing, ghostlike- [Hermes] conjures up the new creation.”

— Karl Kerenyi, Hermes: Guide of Souls

Mercury weaves together polarities in shades of gray and particularly when retrograde guides us into a liminal state of being in between. Mercury retrograde is an essential phase of the Star of Hermes, a time to seize for breaking down old constructs and breaking free from habitual thought patterns, finding new angles of perception in problem solving. When Mercury stands still at 13º29’ Sagittarius on November 16, glittering in twilight as it stations retrograde, it has the great benefit of the co-presence of Jupiter in Sagittarius.  It’s a more Jupiterian, expansive, and inspirational Mercury retrograde than normal, but due to Jupiter also undergoing its own rebirth within its cycle with the Sun it will be most fruitful in terms of inner visioning, awareness, and realization.  Rather than becoming overwhelmed by difficulties coming up in correspondence, allow the polarizing pattern weaving of Mercury to help you tease out the larger meaning.

Here are some of the key dates of Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius and Scorpio:

  • November 6: Mercury direct at 8º Sagittarius at maximum elongation as an Evening Star; same time as a New Moon in Scorpio. This date marked a threshold crossing into an intensification of the pending Mercury retrograde.
  • November 16:  Mercury stations retrograde at 13º29’ Sagittarius on the same day that Venus stations direct in Libra.
  • November 27:  INTERIOR/INFERIOR conjunction of Mercury retrograde with the Sun at 5º03’ degrees Sagittarius. Rebirth of Mercury at the same time that Jupiter also begins a new synodic cycle in Sagittarius. Mercury retrograde also conjoins Jupiter at 4º18’ Sagittarius.
  • December 1:  Mercury re-enters Scorpio
  • December 6:  Mercury stations direct at 27º16’ Scorpio
  • December 12:  Mercury returns to Sagittarius
  • December 15:  Mercury at maximum elongation as Morning Star at 3º Sagittarius
  • December 21:  Solstice and final conjunction between Mercury and Jupiter at 9º34’ Sagittarius
Mercury Retrograde in Sagittarius

Ariadne by Giorgio de Chirico

And again my inmost life rushes louder, / as if it moved now between steeper banks. / Objects become ever more related to me, / and all pictures ever more perused. / I feel myself more trusting in the nameless: / with my senses, as with the birds, I reach / into the windy heavens from the oak, / and into the small ponds’ broken-off day / my feeling sinks, as if it stood on fishes.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Progress translated by Edward Snow

The stationing of Mercury in Sagittarius on November 16 is more dramatic than the usual shift of Mercury from direct to retrograde motion, as it occurs later on the same day that Venus finally stations direct in Libra. When planets station they have a collective and personal announcement to make and tend to dominate the astrological atmosphere; and so we have both Venus in Libra and Mercury in Sagittarius simultaneously proclaiming messages that are vying for our attention. Mercury and Venus are in starkly different circumstances within their synodic cycles: Venus is now direct and shining bright as a Morning Star, while Mercury is descending in twilight from being an Evening Star into its invisible, underworld role of guiding us into unconscious content, loosening conscious control.

Venus stationed retrograde in Scorpio on October 5, and so while the beginning of the Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius is simultaneously weaving together the end of the forty day Venus retrograde, we are not yet actually at the end of the Venus retrograde narrative.  One primal reason is the opposition between Venus and Uranus that has been going on since early September before Venus went retrograde, and will not complete until we cross the boundary between November and December. The opposition between Venus and Uranus calls for a radical upgrade of what we expect from life, leading us to initiate breakthrough choices that crack open old constraints. It’s here in the final stages of a revelatory process that Mercury gladly accepts the role of psychopomp to whatever old beliefs and identities are ready to pass away, making space for the expansive growth stirred up by Jupiter in Sagittarius.

Amping up the extremity of tidal forces is that while both Venus and Mercury station with Venus in opposition to Uranus, Mercury is out of bounds in southern declination while forming a catalytic square aspect with Neptune in Pisces. Any planet 23º27′ or more in north or south declination is considered to be out of bounds- beyond the boundaries of 23º26′ set by the course of the Sun. Tony Howard has described planets out of bounds as being inherently freedom oriented rather than in reaction like Uranus, meaning that instead of acting rebellious in reaction to external constraints, people with a planet out of bounds in their natal chart act have an inner liberating vigor that flows from within without regard to external circumstances.

Altogether these aspects at the time Mercury stations retrograde and descends into invisibility could lead us to consider doing things differently than we ever have before. Due to the influence of Neptune in Pisces, however, we will need to discern what possesses a deeper, imaginal truth versus what is a misleading illusion. Mercury will leave its out of bounds state on November 20, around the same time it also disappears from twilight view. Taking the risk to try something new may not go according to plan and expectations at this time, but the potent reflective quality of Mercury retrograde will facilitate sifting through the experience for important lessons that will ultimately bolster achieving success in a new direction. While the opening section of Mercury retrograde is powerful for putrefaction and breaking down the outworn, it can also be fertile for cultivating a fresh path going forward.

“Whoever does not shy away from the dangers of the most profound depths and the newest pathways, which Hermes is always prepared to open, may follow him and reach . . . a greater find and a more certain possession. For all to whom life is an adventure- whether an adventure of love or of spirit- [Hermes] is the common guide.”

— Karl Kerenyi, Hermes: Guide of Souls

Ghost of Maruyami Okyo

Maruyama Okyo by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi illustrating story of Okyo painting a ghost so viscerally that it came to life.

The blind man who stands on the bridge, / gray like a boundary stone of nameless kingdoms, / he is perhaps the thing, ever unchanging, / around which the far-off stellar hours move, / and the constellations’ still midpoint. / For everything around him strays and struts and runs.

He is the immovable upright one / set down in many tangled paths; / the dark entrance to the underworld / amid a surface-dwelling race.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Point Du Carrousel translated by Edward Snow

Hermes in myth delights in putting people to sleep with his serpentine wand, guiding them into inner visions of dreamscape where the irrational may reveal insight through discernment of deeper meaning. Mercury retrograde periods draw upon this beguiling quality of Hermes, leading perception to more readily pick up meaning from symbols, signs, and synchronicities. As as a result it’s fascinating that Neptune, the planetary archetype of dreams and imagination, is a dominant force during the first two weeks of Mercury retrograde. Not only does Mercury form a square aspect with Neptune when it stations retrograde, Neptune stations direct a week later at 13º41′ Pisces on November 24. When Neptune stations it has a gravitas like a whirlpool pulling us into the Neptunian, such as experiencing a heightened imagination or feeling boundaries dissolve that awaken awareness of interconnection with others.

Mercury and Neptune have a complex relationship, as Neptune can easily fog or bewilder the clear reception of Mercury in communication and interpretation. Yet while some may have an ideal of a logical Mercury organizing everything crisply in categories, the reality is that Mercury is an archetype in-between definitions that questions unifying theories while also weaving together meaning from the innumerable contradictions within our changing world. The ancient philosopher Heraclitus noted not only the constant flux of our world with its ceaselessly changing meanings of truth, but that the underlying Logos or Word from which “all things follow” is not understood by most people. It’s possible that the square aspect formed between Neptune in Pisces with the Sun, Jupiter, and Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius can help us open to understanding beyond culturally conditioned, preconceived notions.

One way or another, Neptune in Pisces will come to the forefront just as a Full Moon in Gemini peaks on November 22 and as Jupiter begins a new synodic cycle with the Sun on November 25 at 3º56′ Sagittarius.  Jupiter in the heart of the Sun on November 25 and 26 places Jupiter at the helm of our solar chariot and seeds an inspirational, uplifting vision of meaning to manifest in the year ahead.  The last solar conjunction for Jupiter occurred on October 26, 2017 at 3º30′ Scorpio and so it is an ending of a Jupiter cycle just as it is simultaneously a beginning of life affirming growth and expansion for the year ahead. Yet this is not the sort of dry clarity that can be found on top of a mountain, but rather the oceanic breadth of imaginal vision that can only be encountered through Neptune.

Mercury Retrograde in Sagittarius

Psyche Opening the Door into Cupid’s Garden  by John William Waterhouse

“Even the tilings of the floor, made of precious stones cut fine, are divided into registers, mosaics in pictures and patterns of all sorts . . . And the other wings of this palace, arrayed from side to side and round about, are similarly precious and priceless, and all of it, with the walls constructed of bricks of gold, flares in a radiant glory all its own, so that the house makes its own day and daylight, even when the sun refuses to shine; so too do all the bedrooms, the colonnades, and even the doors explode with their own light. The household goods are no different: in their opulence they match the dignity and grandeur of the palace, so that you would rightly conclude that here is a heavenly imperial residence fashioned by great Jupiter himself so that he may dwell among mortals.”

— Apuleius, “Cupid and Psyche” from The Golden Ass: Or, A Book of Changes translated by Joel C. Relihan

One avenue for imaginal exploration of the influence of Neptune upon Mercury retrograde in the fiery home of Jupiter is the Psyche and Eros story written down by the Hellenistic author and philosopher Apuleius. There is both a thematic as well as cosmic connection, as the Psyche asteroid is at 15º09′ Sagittarius and within three degrees of Mercury on the day it stations retrograde, while the Eros asteroid stations retrograde at 18º11′ Gemini on the same day, in opposition to Mercury and Psyche.

The famous love story involves Psyche, incarnated as a human yet worshipped as a living embodiment of Aphrodite, falling in love with Eros, the divine son of Aphrodite who brings her to his Neptunian palace where he descends to her each night cloaked in mysterious darkness. In the pivotal plot moment, Psyche shines light through a lamp upon Eros while clutching a sharp blade, fearing he could be a monstrous dragon devourer. Yet upon witnessing his divine radiance, she not only falls under the spell of his legendary arrows, but also startles him awake with hot oil which causes him to flee from her. Psyche next undergoes a series of seemingly impossible trials set forth by Aphrodite, going so far as to descend to Persephone in the underworld.

Keeping in mind the ancient line of thought from Empedocles that creation is born from love and strife, we can see how disharmony and discord were sealed off from Psyche’s initial experience of Eros in his archetypal castle, bringing the necessity of her consciously shining light to shatter the illusion. We similarly may feel disillusioned during the Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius, but the vital component will involve illuminating and reorienting our personal truth without negating our experience of the numinous and divine we can encounter in both relationships as well as the dreams we wish to manifest. Over and over again Psyche gives herself over to her feelings and pain, while over and over again the living soul of her environment comes to her aid. She finds her center through following her eros, surrendering to reshaping from the world around her rather than forcing control.

Marie Louise Von Franz beautifully described this process in her book The Golden Ass of Apuleius: The Liberation of the Feminine in Man:

“The chaos of the unconscious always contains a relation to order as well. In talking about the unconscious one must always talk in paradoxes, and when we emphasize its chaotic aspect we know at the same time that the unconscious is not only chaos but is also order . . .

So one can say that in the right way faith is a great achievement, or rather pistis: loyalty to the inner law. When this loyalty or feeling constellates, it calls forth the the secret order which is in the chaos of the unconscious . . .

There is an instinct of truth in the human psyche  which, in the long run, cannot be suppressed. We can pretend not to hear it, but it remains in the unconscious . . . Jung always said that truth does not speak with a loud voice. Its low but unsuppressible voice announces itself as a malaise, or a bad conscience, or whatever one may want to call it. Great quiet is needed in order to feel these small hints.”

— Marie Louise Von Franz

By following this same attitude, we can bring acceptance to whatever challenges and difficulties emerge in correspondence with Mercury retrograde, even a sense of humor where we can manage it, allowing the process of reshaping to unfold. This doesn’t mean to be passive, as we will of course need to take initiative and be decisive. It does mean, however, that the benefit we can gain from Mercury retrograde is through allowing a new order from our unconscious to emerge without stifling, controlling, or negating it. If we can do so, we can experience a symbolic sacred marriage like Psyche and Eros when Mercury retrograde unites with the Sun on November 27.

Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius

from the Rosarium Philosophorum (1550)

Out of infinite desires rise / finite deeds like weak fountains / that fall back in early trembling arcs. / But those, which otherwise in us / keep hidden, our happy strengths– / they come forth in these dancing tears.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Initial (The First Book, Part Two) translated by Edward Snow

In the Heart of the Sun

The inferior conjunction of Mercury retrograde with the Sun on November 27 is the center of the retrograde process, offering a sacred marriage of conscious and unconscious in quiet moments of reflection. This is the rebirth of Mercury that seeds the coming cycle of Mercury in which it return to visibility in pre-dawn skies as a Morning Star. Remarkably, the rebirth of Mercury on November 27 comes only two days after the rebirth of Jupiter with the Sun on November 25. Since Mercury retrograde is in the home of Jupiter, it means Mercury and the Sun are being received by a revivified Jupiter. As a result this is an incredibly fertile moment of potency for Mercury, and yet since both Mercury and Jupiter are being regenerated it also means it is a newborn phase for both planets that suggests inner realizations to be found more so than external, grandiose manifestations of Jupiter.

Fascinatingly, just as Mercury retrograde unites with the Sun in Sagittarius, the Sun is receiving the Moon in Leo through a harmonious trine. In addition, Mars in Pisces is in a change inducing square aspect with the conjunction of the Sun, Mercury retrograde, and Jupiter; in fact the Star of Ares is being received by Jupiter as it approaches a conjunction with Neptune. This is an incredibly strident, inspirational, passionate, and creative combination that is capable of seeding an entirely new direction cut free from constraints of the past. The influence of Mars can certainly bring conflict and a need for confrontation, yet it is also a call for a deepening of whatever searching for meaning we have been engaged in. There is resilient resolve to be found within capable of fueling your visionary endeavors across the next year. Listen for it in the stillness of Mercury uniting with the Sun, inviting it to integrate into  your embrace of life and navigation of coming currents.

MarleneSevenBremner_Citrinitas_

Citrinitas: To Yellow the Wings, Await the Swelling Haws (2018) by Marlene Seven Bremner

Let your beauty manifest itself / without talking and calculation. / You are silent. It says for you: I am. / And comes in meaning thousandfold, / comes at long last over everyone.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Initial (The Second Book, Part One) translated by Edward Snow

After the solar rebirth of Mercury on November 27, Mercury retrograde returns to Scorpio on December 1 where it will station direct on December 6 at 27º16’ Scorpio. By the time Mercury stations direct it will have reappeared in visibility as a Morning Star, and similarly this marks another threshold to cross in which we bring the new meaning of Mercury sparked at its inferior conjunction into our daily presence and work, imbibing it into our engagement with matter. It is necessary during this phase to persist in the new direction rather than allowing ourselves to fall back into the old patterns we have felt compelled to move on from. It’s also important to accept the process and be nurturing with yourself when you notice you’ve taken a step or two backwards, prodding yourself forward again.  Interestingly, Mercury will be stationing in a watery triangle with the North Node of the Moon in Cancer and Chiron in Pisces.

The day after Mercury re-enters Scorpio, Venus will also return to the sign of the Scorpion on December 2 for the first time since the end of October. This is also the same time period in which Venus completes its third and final exact opposition with Uranus. As a result the stationing direct of Mercury is crucial in helping us discover and integrate the final lessons coming forth from the Venus retrograde transit that began at the beginning of October.  It will be a penetrative, probing process as both Venus and Mercury are in the fixed, watery home of Mars with Mars in Pisces forming a whole sign trine to both. At the same time, Mars is applying to a conjunction with Neptune in Pisces that perfects on December 7 at the same time Mercury is stationing.

From December 1 until December 12 when Mercury returns again to Sagittarius, the heavy influence of Scorpio with Mars and Neptune in Pisces will compel an intensification of questioning foundational beliefs and curiously investigating the undercurrents of whatever dynamics we are engaged with. Rather that projecting beliefs from a dogmatic perspective, allow the slippery, thieving Mercury to unlock the hidden places where you source vision and beliefs from. This time period will be opportune for testing the strength of the new vision you want to bring into life, making modifications and reorienting aspects as necessity dictates.

The movement of the current Mercury retrograde from the fire sign of Sagittarius back to the water sign of Scorpio foreshadows the fact that in 2019 we will experience Mercury retrograde transits primarily in water signs. This brings to a completion the past two years of having Mercury retrograde in primarily fire signs.  It will be worth the time to consider what houses in your natal chart are in the fire element (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) and what changes you can note have coincided with Mercury enacting its retrograde regeneration there. Furthermore, the subsequent Mercury retrograde will be in Pisces in March 2019 and will also be significantly stirring up meaning in connection with Jupiter in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces; there is likely to be some sort of mercurial connection between now and then.

A final element of the visionary meaning stemming from Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius and Scorpio will come at the Capricorn Solstice on December 21, when Mercury will complete its final conjunction with Jupiter at 9º34’ Sagittarius. Both Mercury and Jupiter will be visible as Morning Stars at the solstice, with Venus above them bringing her light to the solstice sunrise. The Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere, it is the dark turning of the year that welcomes increasing light. This is a perfect cosmic alignment of the hope and faith that can be kindled at the solstice stoking the flames of inspiration between Mercury and Jupiter. There will be a hard, constraining reality to confront in 2019 as Saturn, Pluto, and the transiting South Node of the Moon come together in Capricorn. As the Sun enters Capricorn on the solstice, as Mercury and Jupiter unite at dawn, allow yourself to dream the life you wish to live backed by the determination to bring it fully into being.

Mercury Retrograde in Sagittarius

Chiron and Achilles by John Singer Sargent

References

Apuleius. (2007). The Golden Ass. Translated by Joel C. Relihan. Hackett Publishing Company.

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

Von Franz, Marie Louise. (1992). The Golden Ass of Apuleius: The Liberation of the Feminine in Man. Shambhala.