Mercury Retrograde in Capricorn and Sagittarius

georgia-okeeffe-grey-tree-lake-george

Grey Tree, Lake George (1925) by Georgia O’Keeffe

At the bottom of the Seine
there is gold, rusting boats, jewels, weapons…
At the bottom of the Seine
there are dead bodies…
At the bottom of the Seine
there are tears…
At the bottom of the Seine
there are flowers;
in their vase of mud
they are nourished by silt…
At the bottom of the Seine
there are the hearts
that greatly suffered for living life…
And then the rocks
and the grey beasts…
The pipes of the sewers,
blowing out poison…
The rings thrown away
by misunderstood lovers,
feet that a propeller cut off from their trunk…
And the cursed fruits of sterile wombs,
the innocent abortions that no one loved…
The vomit of the big city…
At the bottom of the Seine,
it is there…
Oh, lenient Seine where the cadavers go,
oh, bed with the sheets made from silt,
river of losses without beacon,
nor haven,
singing a lullaby to the morgue and the bridges,
welcoming the poor one,
welcoming the woman,
welcoming the drunkard,
welcoming the crazy one,
mixing theirs sobs to the sound of your blades,
and carrying their hearts among the rocks…
At the bottom of the Seine
there is gold, rusting boats, jewels, weapons…
At the bottom of the Seine
there are dead bodies…
At the bottom of the Seine
there are tears…

— Kurt Weil, “Complainte de la Seine,” translated from French by Sean Mabey

Mercury Stations Retrograde in Capricorn

In the quickening of shadows at sunset, Mercury disappears in a flash, shifting from an evening star into the invisible realm of the underworld where Hermes guides souls.  After Mercury stations retrograde and transitions from being a visible evening star into an invisible planet moving slowly in retrograde, the variable nature of Mercury transmutes into an alternate realm of perception requiring an alert intuition and a patient mind open to changes of plan and revelation of previously concealed insight.  Though Mercury retrograde carries the projection of a scapegoat in popular culture in which all mishaps and mayhem are attributed to the whims of Hermes, there is vital meaning to be found in the experience of Mercury moving retrograde through our zodiac.  Mercury retrograde periods can destabilize and force issues to the surface we may rather not deal with, but truth reveals that whatever arises for us to face during times of Mercury retrograde are necessary for us to gain awareness of and respond in a way that nurtures self-development and growth.

Mercury stations retrograde on 19 December 2016 while forming a close (but not exact) conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn.  Mercury stationing, standing still only one degree behind Pluto in the days leading up to and following its transition into retrograde motions dramatically amplifies the charge of issues that emerge to surface awareness through daily  conversations and commerce.  It is further significant that Mercury does not complete an exact conjunction with Pluto, but rather pulls back at the last moment in a tight balsamic conjunction.  Mercury pulls away from Pluto and will re-enter Sagittarius at the beginning of January 2017 where it will station direct conjoining the zodiac degrees associated with our Galactic Center.  Mercury will ultimately complete a conjunction with Pluto and begin a new cycle with Pluto on 29 January 2017, a time period in which we will be able to coalesce deeper understanding into all the various affairs that transpire in the next few weeks of Mercury retrograde.

Mercury moving back and forth in balsamic relationship with Pluto takes us deep into the bedrock of our foundational beliefs, like a miner dredging through earth in search of buried gold.  Events associated with Pluto also involve compulsive attraction in addition to subconscious triggers that repel us, and yet with reflection we can discover that both what we are drawn to as well as repulsed by holds key insight into our underlying development of meaning.  Mercury retrograde delights in fields of gray in-betweeness, and combined with Pluto any rigid black and white mental constructs one has been fixated upon may dissolve in the confrontations of thought that will come.  Though we may initially resist and defensively argue against perspectives threatening beliefs we have wound our sense of emotional security around, through reflection and an open mind the Mercury retrograde can facilitate integration of a new perspective regarding ourselves or our world that will rejuvenate our inner feelings of soulfulness and purpose, helping us discover a path forward that is more fulfilling than the one we had been previously been set to follow.

deborahturbeville

Deborah Turbeville Montova, Italy, 1978

The beginning of Mercury retrograde is intensified through its conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn, opening a subconscious portal into exploration of the constructs of time and space we apply to phenomenal reality.  Capricorn involves the maturity and responsibility cultivated through facing and dealing with natural cycles of change,  and so there is compelling synchronicity that the beginning of Mercury retrograde occurs at the time of the Capricorn Solstice, the peak period of darkness in the Northern Hemisphere and of light in the Southern Hemisphere.  Regarding Pluto in Capricorn’s relationship with natural laws of change, Jeff Green in evolutionary astrology taught that structural change comes from crystallized and outdated levels of reality that require a breakdown of collective forms to bring about growth.  Mercury retrograde in Capricorn will thereby bring opportunities to claim one’s inner authority and ability to express one’s individuality within the seismic societal shifts erupting around our planet.

We know that our societies are formed by laws, regulations, norms and taboos designed to create a stable whole, yet we sometimes forget to reflect upon how our conformity to societal norms can limit our experience of essential growth in the moment.  Mercury retrograde in Capricorn will destabilize elements of societal norms and rules, breaking open and purging numerous taboos. Like the ancient Saturnalia in which societal conventions are overturned, Mercury retrograde in Capricorn compels us to realign our conformity to societal conventions that have been blocking our authenticity. While we are able to co-create reality, if we want to make a direct impact on society we also need to discern a method of successful integration so that an audience may receive our shared values and meaning.  Within the tumult of tempestuous collective events and mutating norms, Mercury retrograde may guide us into inner awareness of modifications we need to make in all areas of our life connected to the role we are called to embody in society.

victor-brauner-the-surrealist

Victor Brauner (1947) The Surrealist

I slide my face along to the mirror
sideways, to see
that side-smile,
a pale look, tired
and sly. Hey,

who is glancing there?
Shadow-me, not with
malice but mercurially
shot with foreknowledge of
dread and sweat.

— Denise Levertov, Looking-glass

Since Mercury stations retrograde in the home of Saturn and will station direct in the home of Jupiter, its retrograde phase has intense resonance with the harmonious aspects formed between Saturn in Sagittarius with the full phase opposition between Jupiter in Libra and Uranus in Aries that will complete its first exact alignment during the Mercury retrograde.  The cycle between Jupiter and Uranus involves the nature of beliefs we are conditioned to project upon reality, as well as the process of liberating from past influences in order to find a meaningful vision of life to live from.  For ages, human beings have been developing belief systems around trying to control and regulate, in a Capricorn manner, the interactions of humans within societies and the natural world.  Yet we also hold subconscious (Uranus) memories that extend into the nomadic time period of humanity that predated the development of agricultural civilizations. This necessitates at times for our experience of the Uranus archetype to come into conflict with the myriad consensus belief systems in place focused upon the way human beings should interact with one another in society. When our vision of life fueled by the knowledge we are gaining from our personal experience (Jupiter) comes into conflict with the norms dictated by consensus belief systems (Saturn and Capricorn) we arrive at a crux in which we can feel judged and ashamed or instead individuate with self assertion in the direction of the vision being felt within.

At the same time that Mercury stations retrograde in Capricorn, Mars enters Pisces and begins its movement toward the transiting South Node of the Moon and Neptune.   On a collective level the movement of Mars across Pisces in this section will correspond with numerous eruptions of violence and trauma connected with religion, politics, and other belief systems that have been in conflict with one another for centuries.   On a personal level, this same transit brings the opportunity to go within and reflect upon our own shadow and those aspects of ourself we like to pretend are not really there, aspects often conditioned by the belief systems of our culture.  As Fyodor Dostoyevsky (born with Mercury retrograde in Sagittarius in square to his lunar nodes) wrote in The Brothers Karamazov, “what seems bad to you in yourself is purified by the very fact that you have noticed it in yourself.”  The Mercury retrograde will bring numerous opportunities for powerful self awareness that will lead us into opportunities to make choices within a presence rooted more firmly within our wholeness.  Facilitating this process will be Venus in Aquarius, as Venus will move into a harmonious sextile with Saturn in Sagittarius and Uranus in Aries, as well as a stabilizing trine with Jupiter in Libra.

If you have been reading my writing on the Mercury retrograde transits this past year, you may remember with the Taurus retrograde in May 2016 I wrote about its link with the Hathor asteroid, and that in the Virgo retrograde in September 2016 I wrote about its link with the Sekhmet asteroid.  The current Mercury retrograde in Capricorn has a link with the Isis asteroid #42, as Mercury is conjoining Isis in addition to Pluto when it stations retrograde, with Mercury at 15º03′ and Isis at 14º47′. Isis is a synthesizer of love and wisdom from our experiences, and by transit and aspect in our natal chart the Isis asteroid (#42) signifies unity, loyalty, devotion, sustaining, reassembling, resurrection, soul retrieval, healing of fragmentation, and finding wholeness of Self in relation with the Other.

The daughter of Night (Nut) and Earth (Geb), Isis has been commonly connected to the sign of Virgo in astrology, and so has connection to the transiting lunar nodes of Virgo (North Node) and Pisces (South Node). Mercury’s rulership of Virgo further connects with Isis, as both Mercury and Isis can move between the upper world and underworld and weave a web unifying seemingly disparate points of focus. Isis further links to Virgo’s polarity with Pisces, as Isis embodies the ability to integrate the detailed practical magic of Virgo with the expansive love and compassion of Pisces that flows in search of ultimate understanding.   Isis is Love, the quality of our consciousness that proves we are all connected, just like the stars above us, the minerals of our Earth below us, and our neurons and other cells inside us.  Isis weaves the web of love through times of trauma and dismemberment of our parts, our physical body parts and our etheric soul fragments, in order to bring about a healing and retrieval of our wholeness.

mercury-philosophical-italy-15th-century

A form upon the quilted
overcast, gleam, Sacre
Coeur, saltlick
to the mind’s
desire-

how shall the pulse
beat out
that measure,
under devious
moon
wander swerving

to wonder-

hands turn
what stone to uncover
feather of broken
oracle-

— Denise Levertov Threshold from O Taste and See

Mercury in Heart of the Sun

The Inferior conjunction of Mercury occurs when it forms an exact alignment in between the orbit of our Earth with our Sun, bringing Mercury retrograde and the Sun into an exact conjunction.  Called cazimi or being in the heart of the Sun, this rebirth of Mercury will occur on 28 December 2016 at a Dark Moon in Capricorn.  In fact, later on the same day that Mercury retrograde unites with our Sun, we will experience a New Moon in Capricorn. When Mercury retrograde enters the heart of our Sun, we experience a purification of Mercury and how we interpret and convey meaning in our life.  In the time leading up to Mercury’s union with the Sun, we may sense a release and death of outmoded constructs, perceptions, and habits.  As Mercury retrograde begins to slowly separate from the Sun as we next experience a New Moon in Capricorn, we will find ourselves in an opportune moment to form intentions and resolutions for the calendar year of 2017 and what we want to share and integrate into the world and our daily lives.

There are numerous powerful astrological transits occurring at the same time, such as Jupiter and Uranus in an exact opposition, with Saturn in sextile to Jupiter and in trine to Uranus.  In addition, Venus in Aquarius will be in range of harmonious aspects to Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, and Mars in Pisces will be in between the South Node of the Moon and Neptune, conjoining both.  This is a beautiful moment for complete and utter honesty with oneself and reawakening from whatever dreams and illusions we have had about our life we now realize do not align with our current reality.  There is tremendous energy involved in all of these aspects that can be utilized to bring visionary ideals into manifestation in the material world, but to do so requires a full presence attuned to what is actually occurring rather than what we wish was occurring.  It also involves taking the responsibility intrinsic to Capricorn in every moment in how we respond to what we are receiving from life.

matta-space-travel-star-travel-1938

Roberta Matta (1938) Space Travel

Silent friend of the many distances,
feel how your every breath enlarges space.
Amid the rafters of dark belfries
let yourself peal. Whatever feeds on you

is taking strength from such fare.
Know every path through transformation.
that one experience at the core of your sorrow?
If drinking is bitter, become wine.

Now in this night of fire and excess
be magic power at your senses’ crossroads,
the meaning of their strange encounter.

And if the earthly should forget you,
say to the silent loam: I flow.
To the rushing water speak: I am.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury Stations Direct in Sagittarius

Mercury moves backward into Sagittarius on 4 January 2017, stationing direct on 8 January 2017 at 28º51′ of Sagittarius in range of a conjunction with the zodiac degrees linked to our Galactic Center.  Philip Sedgwick has written that astrological connections with the Galactic Center facilitate the release of old memories that have been inhibiting growth and development, creating an emptiness of inner space that can welcome new, invigorating emotional experiences that will spur progress in life and the reception of new insight.  Mercury will remain in Sagittarius until 12 January 2017 when it re-enters Capricorn.  Mercury stationing and then slowly moving direct in the home of Jupiter amplifies the potential of the Mercury retrograde phase to uncover a more fulfilling vision of life to embody and share.  Fascinatingly, Pluto in Capricorn is also highlighted at the time of Mercury stationing direct, as the Sun will be conjoining Pluto.  To reach the full potential of these aspects it will be necessary to take the responsibility of claiming one’s inner authority to make the choices available that support and resonate with one’s inner values.

At the time Mercury stations direct, Venus will have entered Pisces and will be conjoining the South Node of the Moon and Neptune. Venus exalted in Pisces will nurture the capacity of our sensual nature to enter the flow of life and not only envision a reality in which we may behold our soulful desires, but also alter reality to bring about manifestation of our deeply felt values.  It is also a period in which the stationing direct of Mercury may jolt us with a shock of awareness regarding illusions we had been carrying about relationships, or unveil an epiphany into an underlying relational pattern we have been unconsciously perpetuating that now needs to be let go in order to cultivate healthier, growth-oriented relationships.

Mercury will return to the zodiac degree it stationed retrograde in Capricorn around the time of a New Moon in Aquarius on 27 January 2017.   Interestingly, with regards to the previous mention of Mercury stationing in conjunction with the Isis asteroid, there will be a union of the Isis and Osiris asteroids that brings an added level of healing our wholeness on the same day.  Two days after the New Moon, Mercury will finally complete its exact conjunction with Pluto on 29 January 2017.  As Mercury begins a new cycle with Pluto as we  enter the month of February, we will be able to receive a more complete understanding of the full ramifications of events associated with the Mercury retrograde.  Through utilizing Mercury retrograde to both nurture our inner security and take the responsibility to act from our inner authority, we will be guided into understanding of how to integrate our essential vision of meaning and individuality within our greater society in a way that will make a tangible impact.

References

Arts Summary blog post about Deborah Turbeville’s photographs. (2016)

Complainte de la Seine translation.

Green, Jeff. (1985). Pluto: the evolutionary journey of the soul. Llewellyn.

Levertov, Denise. (2013). Collected Poems. New Directions.

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

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Bound in Pisces: Psyche and Eros, Venus and Mars

rodin - eros and psyche

Cupid and Psyche (1893) by Auguste Rodin

  • In February 2015 the asteroids Psyche (#16) and Eros (#433) will be conjunct Venus and Mars.
  • From February 6 through February 20, 2015, Psyche and Eros will be conjunct Venus and Mars in Pisces.
  • February 17, 2015:  Psyche and Eros are conjunct at 23 degrees of Pisces.  Venus will be at 26° Pisces and Mars will be at 28° Pisces at this time.
  • February 18, 2015:  in between the beginning of new cycles between first Psyche and Eros and then Venus and Mars, there will be a New Moon at the final degree of Aquarius with Mercury in Aquarius sextile Saturn in Sagittarius.
  • On February 20, 2015 by the light of a sliver moon, Venus and Mars will be together in the Sunset sky near the crescent light
  • February 21, 2015:  Venus and Mars will be conjunct and beginning a new cycle at 1° Aries.  Psyche will be at 25° Pisces and Eros will be at 26° Pisces.

When in love, when under waves of desire whether erotic or otherwise, when struck with the pang of separation and unfulfilled desire, experience intensifies and we can feel the full fabric of soul within and surrounding us.  It can be easy to cynically dismiss the true love of fairy tales or scoff at the romantic excess of Valentine’s Day, yet there truly is nothing like Love and the full spectrum of associated emotions that can make us feel alive, one with the stars above and earth below, and Whole.  Currently there is an intense Dark Moon in Capricorn and Aquarius that leads to a New Moon at the final degree of Aquarius on February 18.  This lunar clearing to prepare for a new cycle mirrors current balsamic cycles between Venus and Mars and the asteroids Psyche and Eros that are occurring at the same time in the final decan of Pisces.  Psyche and Eros being conjunct simultaneously in the same section of the zodiac as Venus and Mars amplifies a time of re-seeding our relational desires and the vision we each hold for the relationships we wish to exist within.

In the story of Eros and Psyche we explore their sacred union and the path to becoming whole through love, as well as the journey of Psyche from mortality to divinity.  Just as we associate Eros with desire and Psyche with soul in modern language, the tale of Psyche’s merging with Eros reveals how pursuit of our desires can ultimately bring us to a union with our soul.  According to Demetra George, a pioneer in the use of asteroids in astrology, Psyche is a higher octave of Venus and Eros is a higher octave of Mars.  As a result it is incredible synchronicity that as Venus and Mars are now closing their cycle that began in April of 2013, Psyche and Eros are also closing and beginning a new cycle in the same sign of Pisces.  The connection with Pisces is further augmented by the mythic connection between Venus and Cupid, also known as Eros, and the constellation of Pisces.  The Greeks and Romans saw the two fish of Pisces as representing the escape of Venus and her son Cupid from the monster Typhon by transforming themselves into fish that could swim safely away.  Both Greek and Roman tradition eventually saw Venus/Aphrodite as the mother of Eros/Cupid by way of her lover Mars.  Yet in older Greek tradition, Eros was seen as one of the primordial manifestations of form in the story of Creation who was beyond gender divisions.  In this way Eros has always been seen as an actively direct, progenitive force that is at the root of creation, and eventually as a result was connected with the masculine energy that seeds new birth in the receiving feminine.

eros and psyche statue

Cupid and Psyche (1794) by Antonio Canova

Within the ascending Psyche, rooted in human matter, merging with the descending Eros, connected to heavenly light, we find a true soul communion.  According to Demetra George, the Psyche asteroid illuminates our capacity to be sensitive on a psychic level to an Other and is about our desire for a soul mate, a union with a lover under the guidance of divine energy through the path of conscious relationship.  Yet Psyche is not only about a spiritual and sexual union with an Other, but also can be about a union within the Self.  Through Psyche, erotic energy is akin to the procreative life force when we are swept away in our body by bonding with a lover or other desire.  In this way Eros is the primal, procreative force of our passion that underlies our vision and desires, as well as indicates our sexual attractions and vitality.

I do not want to take up the space here going into the plot of Psyche and Eros in detail, but I did previously write about their story last year during the Venus retrograde in Capricorn.  If you want to know their story, I recommend reading the distilled summary and deep analysis of the Psyche and Eros myth found on the Symbol Reader blog, lovingly told in three parts:  beginning, middle, and end.  The essential information is that Psyche was born as a beautiful princess who received so much admiration that she aroused the jealousy of Aphrodite/Venus.  Determined to remove this threat to her status as the goddess of love and beauty, Venus ordered her son Eros/Cupid to prick Psyche with one of his arrows to make her fall in love with an abominable monster.  However, Eros instead fell in love with Psyche and intervened so that Psyche ultimately found her way into his secure, secretive, and sensually luxurious palace where he lustfully merged with her in dark abandon.  A plot detail that echoes the current balsamic conjunction of Venus and Mars in Pisces is that after Psyche’s father consulted an oracle and was told that she was destined to marry a monster who aroused fear in even Zeus himself, Psyche’s father coordinated a ritual sacrifice for her that was at the same time like a funerary rite and a giving away to marriage.  This intersection between death and burial, marriage and a new beginning, is resonant with the current close of the past two year cycle of Venus and Mars that will give way to a new cycle between these archetypes of love and desire.

77.28.1F

Psyche with the Lamp by Max Klinger

There are those who analyze a lack of perspicacity in Psyche through intellectual interpretation of the myth, yet who has not been under the throes of cloistered, secretive passions felt in the dark of night where clarity is not even a potential. Psyche in the end brings the full light of conscious awareness to her union with Eros after her sisters warn her that she could be sleeping with a serpentine monster. Once Psyche brings fire to light her vision of Eros, falling even further in love with him in the process, her story suddenly shifts in a radical direction not unlike a Uranus transit or the impact of the current square between Pluto and Uranus we are experiencing in astrology. This shift begins by the wound caused by burning lamp oil on Eros that provokes him to flee from his lover, in part because of his secret being unveiled.

As we have been experiencing the close of the cycle between Venus and Mars in Pisces, similar to Psyche in the palace of Eros we may have felt burning desire more so than clarified realization.  The balsamic phase is a time of re-visioning in which premonitions of our coming vision enter our field of awareness without full consciousness of how or when it will manifest.  Simultaneously the balsamic phase is a period of releasing past patterns and relationships, a letting go to make space for the new. Our attractions can be on a more primal and unconscious level, and as we had a Mercury retrograde ending less than a week ago, numerous images of past relationships we now wish to release could have been circulating within the same space as images of the new relationships we now want from our current presence.  The upcoming New Moon on February 18 features a Mercury moving direct that is in sextile to a Saturn that is still direct, and so we will have greater capacity to clarify with the light of consciousness the passions we have felt in the dark.

In the story of Psyche and Eros, once Psyche has lit her perception of the truth that she has fallen in love with the divine Eros, his ensuing separation from her pulls her into a Heroine’s Journey of numerous trials and tribulations that take her to the extremity of the Underworld and back.  Through her yearning for love’s embrace and the pain of separation in space from it, Psyche opens her psychic field to the soul of the world around her and the potential to unite her personality with her own soul.

Max-Klinger-Pan-comforting-Psyche

Pan comforting Psyche by Max Klinger

In the wake of her separation from Eros, Psyche leapt with desperation into a river, ready to surrender her suffering and release herself from control of her life.  Yet in a foreshadowing of natural intervention, the flowing water protects her from ending her life and delivers her to the shore and the goat hooves of the wild nature god Pan. Pan lends Psyche his full sympathy, inspiring her to follow her love toward Eros instead of giving up her life in defeat.  So begins the solitary quest of Psyche that has served as an allegory for the necessity of finding and uniting with our Self before we are able to fully enjoy and sustain a soulful union with our beloved.  Pan is a different mythic figure than Chiron, yet shares the similarity of integrating human and animal parts in his unified form.  As a result I feel this crossroad of the story resonates with the astrology we began February 2015 with, when there was a conjunction between Chiron in Pisces with Psyche, Eros, and Mars, and by the end of the first week of February, Venus had also entered into a conjunction with Chiron.

After realizing that Psyche is determined to reunite with Eros, Aphrodite begins giving her a series of seemingly impossible tasks to complete.  However, in each one Psyche succeeds through her openness to nature and her ability to communicate and listen to the soul of her environment.  Ants, reeds, an eagle, and a man-made tower all communicate with Psyche and come to her aid at pivotal points in her tests.  Psyche’s psychic empathy is her heroic strength, and similarly we can utilize the recent transits of Venus and Mars with Chiron in Pisces to draw from our own unique gifts in pursuit of our desire, while listening intently to messages from our surrounding environment to help us find the the unique solution to each dilemma we face.  The recent transits to Chiron may have intensified our experience, yet this heightened magnification has demanded an enhancement in our ability to respond with the focus necessary to ultimately manifest our desired outcome.

77.28.1C

Psyche on the Cliff by Max Klinger

Although Psyche manages to succeed in her initial tests, Psyche feels the full force of a dark night of her soul while literally peering over a perilous cliff into the deathly water of the River Styx. The great strength of Psyche is that she bravely feels all of her emotions and does not shirk from her suffering or attempt to deny it, distract herself from it, or numb it.  She feels all of the torment of being separated from her Eros, and the magnetism of her emotive vibration time after time inspires the sympathy of elements in her environment that come to her aid and ensure her survival and success.

Indeed, each hardship and challenge faced by Psyche ennobles her character to such an extent that she is able to follow the pathless path into the Underworld in order to appease Aphrodite’s demand of a sampling of Persephone’s beauty ointment.  Psyche wins the favor of the Queen of the spirit world, as Persephone presents Psyche with a share of her restorative beauty balm.  Miraculously, Psyche manages to re-ascend to the upper world and it is at this point that she decides she will no longer surrender to the directive demands of Aphrodite.  Although Psyche had been warned that applying Persephone’s beauty ointment to herself will result in death, Psyche chooses to apply the magical medicine anyway.  Whether this was an act attempting to make herself more attractive to Eros, or a consequence of an emboldened sense of Self, the beauty ointment of Persephone leads to the resurrection of her union with Eros and transformation into divine presence.  This is because after the application of the ointment causes Psyche to fall into a death-like sleep, Eros becomes incapable of restraining himself any longer and soars to embrace Psyche in his arms, pressing his lips against her lips and in the mingling of his breath within her awakens her with his true love’s kiss.  Their marriage and ascension of Psyche from mortal to goddess follows,  and from their union a beautiful daughter is born from the womb of Psyche, in Greek known as Hedone and in Roman known as Voluptas, both words meaning “Pleasure.”

amor finds psyche by Max Klinger

Eros finds Psyche by Max Klinger

The sign of Pisces is an appropriate place to hold all of the archetypal drama of Psyche and Eros, Venus and Mars.  In Pisces we find a yearning for eternal, ultimate meaning and a surrendering to the ineffable bliss of love.  The deep waters of Pisces reflect images imbibed with symbolism connected to the world of myth and the source of the collective unconscious.  Notice and be present for what has been arising within your deepest recesses, and what aspects of your past patterns and relationships no longer link with your personal truth.  It is helpful to realize the current cycle of Venus and Mars closing now began on April 6, 2013 at twenty degrees of Aries, and so relationship issues since that time are especially poignant to reflect upon and release what feels pertinent to clear.  We are at a time to both let go of the past and to set intentions and invitations in place to welcome our new presence in relationship.  If it feels deeply connected to us on a soul level, it is time to focus on it moving forward with full presence.  If it seems more like a pattern we have picked up through collective conditioning in one way or another, whether it be from media exposure, family influence, or consensus societal beliefs, if it is not rooted to our deep nature then it is time to release it.  There is more than enough pain and suffering going around and around our planet these days for all of us:  like a determined Psyche, stay centered on the desires that will bring you joy, fulfillment, and affirmation.

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

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

— W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939

Amor and Psyche by Max Klinger

Psyche and Eros by Max Klinger

References

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

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

moonrise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Black in Deep Red (1957) by Mark Rothko

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Moon Woman (1942) by Jackson Pollock

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

Demetra George:  Hermes Guardian of Thresholds