Mercury Retrograde in Virgo & Leo

Iris

Iris

The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate; and later on, when it “happens” (that is, steps forth out of us to other people), we will feel related and close to it in our innermost being. And that is necessary. It is necessary – and toward this point our development will move, little by little – that nothing alien happen to us, but only what has long been our own. People have already had to rethink so many concepts of motion; and they will also gradually come to realize that what we call fate does not come into us from the outside, but emerges from us. It is only because so many people have not absorbed and transformed their fates while they were living in them that they have not realized what was emerging from them; it was so alien to them that, in their confusion and fear, they thought it must have entered them at the very moment they became aware of it, for they swore they had never before found anything like that inside them. Just as people for a long time had a wrong idea about the sun’s motion, they are even now wrong about the motion of what is to come. The future stands still, dear Mr. Kappus, but we move in infinite space.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Mercury Retrograde in Virgo

In times of destiny, when the threads of fate become loosened to be rewoven within momentous change, we can count on Mercury to slyly guide us in beguiling fashion.  Though Mercury when retrograde has become a scapegoat within popular culture, experience reveals that the Star of Hermes when retrograde enacts its namesake’s role of a psychopomp, or guide of souls.  Even the most frustrating or upsetting events that occur during times of Mercury retrograde ultimately tend to lead us onto a path that will take us into the experiences we need in order to reach our next level of growth.

Thus it is fitting that in between eclipses, periods of time that always signify vital turns of fortune and fate, Mercury will station retrograde and disappear into the invisible realm of the solar underworld at sunset.  While Mercury is retrograde we will experience a Total Solar Eclipse, both the Sun and Mars uniting with the North Node of the Moon, Saturn stationing direct, and Jupiter finally perfecting its long anticipated sextile with Saturn.  Factor in that Mercury begins its retrograde while opposite Neptune and ends its retrograde conjoining Mars at the same degree as the Total Solar Eclipse, while a Pisces Moon waxes full in union with Neptune, and we have an incredibly volatile and fertile mix of astrological transits that promise to bring dramatic changes and opportunities for profound growth.

Even though popular discourse labels periods of Mercury retrograde as disastrous aberrations that bring misfortunes and mishaps, the phase of Mercury retrograde is a regular cyclical phenomenon that happens at least three times every year, an essential aspect of Mercury’s orbit.  Unlike the astrological stereotypes, important actions can be initiated during Mercury retrograde as well as successful contracts signed.  However, during Mercury retrograde it is advisable to sustain mental alertness and be open to signs, symbols, and information in your environment that can help guide your intuition toward which actions to take or commitments to make.

Mercury retrograde is intrinsic to Mercury in astrology, a planetary archetype of contesting and contrasting.  While Mercury signifies insight in addition to communication, the lessons of Mercury do not always come from stability, as experience shows that chaos and disorientation can lead to illumination and realization.  Once Mercury moves retrograde it descends from being a visible Evening Star into an invisible, subterranean guide of soul catalyzing change and growth in situations that range widely from the maddening to the vivifying.  Flowing with Mercury retrograde involves letting go of strict control, opening to the wisdom coming from unexpected sources.   As the changeable nature of Mercury is found in its extremely variable speed, when Mercury slows down to station it is important to pay attention to its aspects in the natal chart as well as to other planets by transit.

This is the second year in a row that we are experiencing Mercury stationing retrograde in Virgo during a time of eclipses, as last year in 2016 Mercury stationed retrograde in Virgo two days before an Annular Solar Eclipse.  This year’s version has a more mysterious opening act, however, due to it occurring in between eclipses rather than just before the beginning of eclipse season.  The days in between eclipses are always full of unexpected shifts and significant encounters, and so adding in the beginning of Mercury retrograde will amplify the strange fatefulness of the time.

Iris as Mercury and Vesta

Mercury stations retrograde while united with Vesta in Virgo and opposing Neptune in Pisces.  During the build-up to Mercury retrograde, which included the Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius, Mercury formed two exact conjunctions with Vesta (Mercury has been within three degrees of Vesta in Virgo since July 26).   A figure of myth who encapsulates the symbolism of Mercury united with Vesta in opposition to Neptune is Iris, handmaiden of Hera (Juno) and messenger to the gods.  Like Hermes, Iris also carries a caduceus, yet the other magical tool she carries, the water pitcher, helps show how her function as messenger differs from Hermes.  Golden-winged and radiant, Iris is a goddess of sea and sky who connects heaven and earth, watering the clouds with her water pitcher full of the enlivening waters she collects from the sea.  She therefore helps produce the rain that brings fertility and cleansing to our Earth, yet she is perhaps most known for her association with the rainbow she also creates.  Iris is as swift as stormy winds, able to descend into the depths of both the ocean as well as the underworld.  Similar to Hermes, Iris connects the world of gods with the world of humanity.

The union of Mercury with Vesta in opposition to Neptune signifies that through devotional focus we may perceive powerful messages and guidance, while at the same time suggesting a downfall could occur when engaged with deception.  One of the mediating roles that Iris plays between humanity and the gods is through facilitating the fulfillment of the prayers and wishes of humans by illuminating them to deities in position of assistance.  Indeed, the golden wings of Iris are capable of bringing light to the most dark of places.  Yet, for those who break oaths or knowingly express falsehoods, Iris will put them to sleep with the water she has collected from the River Styx in the underworld.   Similarly, with Neptune in Pisces playing a monumental role during the period of Mercury retrograde, it will be vital to maintain focus on being honest and authentic so as not to fall into the realm of Neptunian illusion that will be capable of wreaking havoc like a tidal wave.

The association between Iris with rainbows is a beautiful symbol to work with during the upcoming Mercury retrograde that will take us into the zone of an immensely powerful Total Solar Eclipse.   Rainbows not only link heaven and earth with their transcendent and otherworldly colors, they also help to inspire hope and the capacity to believe it is possible for us to lead a more fulfilling life than current circumstances indicate.  It is further fascinating that in some versions of myth that Iris is married to Zephyrus, the west wind, and that their union gave birth to Pothos, one of the winged gods of love (the erotes) whose name translates as “yearning” and is associated with strong desire and longing for a loved one who is oftentimes absent.  It will be important to stay grounded in our earthly realm (Virgo) with clear focus (Vesta) during this Mercury retrograde period, and yet at the same time to fully realize the available gifts we will need to allow our imaginations and desires to open us to potentials that go beyond the confines of our present reality (Neptune).

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The Apparition (1917) by Marc Chagall

Mercury opposes Neptune

The union of Mercury and Vesta in Virgo in opposition to Neptune dominates the beginning of this Mercury retrograde period, with Venus in Cancer playing a facilitating role.  As Mercury stations retrograde, Venus is separating from harmonious aspects with both Neptune and Mercury (a trine with Neptune; a sextile with Mercury), as well as separating from a recent conjunction with Ceres in Cancer.  During the retrograde movement of Mercury, Venus will move on to catalytic aspects with Pluto in Capricorn, Jupiter in Libra,  and Uranus in Aries.  The influence of Uranus is further strengthened by the Moon applying to a conjunction with Uranus as Mercury stations retrograde, as well as the fact that Mercury will ultimately station direct in a helpful trine with Uranus.  However, since Mercury will also station direct less than a day before a Full Moon in Pisces that is united with Neptune, there is an unmistakeable looming influence of Neptune upon the course of events that will accompany this period of Mercury retrograde.

While the totality of the aspects listed above could coincide with many diverse forms of challenge, all of them are amazing catalysts in the realm of artistry and inspiration.  Mercury has incredible strength in Virgo, being both its home and exaltation, and so as Mercury slowly begins to peel itself backwards it can help facilitate deep focus on artistic and academic projects of all mediums and forms, especially those that involve a component of research and analysis followed by expression.  Nine days after Mercury stations retrograde we will experience a Total Solar Eclipse in which Mercury will function more as a subtle guiding influence than a dominant component of the  portal opened with the syzygy.  During powerful eclipse alignments like we will experience this month, new manifestations will appear in our lives coinciding with other elements fading away.  It is a blessing Mercury is retrograde in Virgo, as it is a mutable earth sign that can aid us in staying connected within our bodies and all of the mutating details of our daily lives.

With the strong transpersonal influences of Neptune, as well as Uranus and Pluto, upon the Mercury retrograde, the capacity of Mercury to bring nonlinear and unexpected messages from oracular sources is heightened.  Pay close attention to the messages received from synchronous alignments of your daily path with animals, plants, minerals, music, and all manner of symbolic signs.  Allow your intuition and bodily instincts to transmit impressions that you value at least as much as whatever your rational mind is constructing.  It may prove very difficult to keep events moving in accord with carefully made plans, however opening up plans and projects to the flow and all of the changes that will coincide with the month ahead can improve end results.  Oftentimes the frustrating experiences of Mercury retrograde illuminate the exact components of life that needed our attention in order to be reworked or strengthened.

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The Creation of Man (1958) by Marc Chagall

Mercury in the Heart of the Sun

The rebirth moment for Mercury during its retrograde comes on August 26 when Mercury aligns with the Sun at the exact degree and minute.  This is known as Mercury’s cazimi moment in which it enters the heart of the Sun to be purified and regenerated.  In contrast to the Mercury cazimi that occurs when Mercury is moving direct on the other side of the Sun from our orbital position (known as its superior conjunction that last happened at the Cancer Solstice), the inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun occurs during its retrograde when Mercury passes in between our orbit with the Sun.  Symbolically, the superior conjunction tends to bring more spiritual epiphanies or sudden insights weaving disparate strands together, whereas Mercury at the heart of the Sun during its retrograde tends to bring a deeper, penetrating insight into the current reality of our material lives and the pang of incarnation in our earthly flesh.  In the days surrounding August 26 we may feel like resting our Mercurial functions as a part of its regeneration, however, the period of time in which Mercury is within a degree of the Sun on August 26 will bring added strength and power to all Mercurial activities such as all forms of research and expression.

Mercury will enter the heart of the Sun at 3º48′ of Virgo, an incredibly powerful placement of Mercury.  The fourth degree of Virgo is in both the home and exaltation of Mercury as well as within its own Egyptian bounds, signifying that this a section of the zodiac in which Mercury not only has important work to do but also has extraordinary strength.  The Sabian symbol for the fourth degree of Virgo, black and white children play together happily, was interpreted by Dane Rudhyar as signifying “the overcoming of socio-cultural prejudices.”  Though it may seem laughable during a time of such widespread vitriolic discourse in global politics full of prejudice that any sort of collective evolution could be occurring around oppression and prejudice, it is worth bearing in mind the play space of children in which the influence of cultural conditioning has not yet taken hold.  The Sabian symbol for the degree of Mercury cazimi suggests perceptions can awaken that go far beyond the constraints and limitations of how we have been conditioned by surrounding culture to perceive and judge the worth of others.   The idea of playing together happily also highlights the theme of imbibing daily life with as much playful creativity as possible during this time of tumultuous astrological transits.

Mercury will enter the heart of the Sun five days after the Total Solar Eclipse in Leo and one day after Saturn stations direct for the final time in Sagittarius.  At the same time Saturn is stationing, Jupiter will have entered the third decan of Libra it rules and will be applying closely to a last quarter sextile with Saturn.  As a result the period of Mercury entering the heart of the Sun on August 26 is a potent moment to re-center amidst all of the changes being brought forth from external and internal events.  Saturn stationing brings a seriousness to the moment that calls for us to walk and talk in absolute integrity with our inner values and principles, while the harmonious aspect between Jupiter and Saturn can bring opportunities to stabilize and strengthen both the vision as well as the foundation of whatever we are developing and crafting.

Iris_Carrying_the_Water_of_the_River_Styx_to_Olympus_for_the_Gods_to_Swear_By,_Guy_Head,_c._1793_-_Nelson-Atkins_Museum_of_Art_-_DSC08946

Iris Carrying the Water of the River Styx to Olympus for the Gods to Swear By (1793) by Guy Head

Mercury Stations Direct in Leo

Mercury stations direct on September 5 at the same degree as the Total Solar Eclipse in Leo.  Mars will have already entered Virgo by the time Mercury is exactly stationing, but during the course of its stationing Mercury and Mars will unite at the end of Leo.  Both the Sun as well as Mars will have united with the North Node of the Moon in Leo during Mercury’s retrograde, and Mercury will furthermore be stationing direct four degrees away from the North Node of the Moon.  At this point we can receive a important message that connects us directly with however the narratives of our lives has been transmuting during this period of eclipses, and with the new information will come opportunities to create movement within whatever openings came through with the eclipses.  Mercury uniting with Mars while it is stationing can coincide with some heated and difficult conflicts, so it will be important to be actively practicing mediating skills in conversations with others.  There is immense inspirational fire available in this period to push yourself forward dramatically in areas of growth you previously have not fully embraced.

The influence of Neptune looms over the stationing direct of Mercury, since the Moon will be applying to a conjunction with Neptune and within a day of its stationing we will experience a potent Full Moon in Pisces united with Neptune.   Amping up the energy even further is the fact that Jupiter in Libra will be getting closer to its final opposition with Uranus in Aries.   The opposition between Jupiter and Uranus is a breakthrough moment in which many diverse, ingenious insights and messages will enter the collective.  Some of the most powerful moments of the Jupiter and Uranus cycle, however, often come in the private moments of significant conversations and relationship experiences, or the work of isolated artists creating outside the rays of mainstream spotlights.  There is amazing inspiration and imagination available within the surrounding transits of Mercury stationing direct to seize and work with.

Finally, its interesting to note that Mercury will be stationing direct while in conjunction with the Persephone asteroid #399.  The myth of Persephone emerging out of her time in the underworld is a fitting symbol for the fact that both Mercury and Mars will be emerging from out of their underworld experiences while united with the Persephone asteroid.  Demetra George wrote the following about the Persephone asteroid in her book Finding Our Way Through the Dark:

In the birth chart Persephone, as a daughter of the patriarchy, symbolizes the process of a child’s separation from its mother.  Persephone can indicate how and where, either physically or psychologically, we may be abducted and plunged into an underworld experience (sometimes at an early age) where we encounter terror, loss, and confusion, and feelings of abandonment. This descent can enable us to develop a relationship with the hidden forces in our unconscious, activate our psychic abilities, release the past, discover a new sense of our adult self and strengths, and emerge transformed and renewed.  Some individuals who experience Persephone as a tragedy from which they have never recovered may react by developing patterns of distrust, withdrawal, fear of sexuality and intimacy, fantasy life, depression, chemical addictions, separation anxieties, victimizaiton, passivity and powerlessness, and being acted upon by the strong will of others.

–Demetra George

Persephone’s name means “she who is to be feared” (Guttman, p.176), and it is possible to view her abduction into the underworld as more about her destiny than a tragedy, for the unalterable shift she created in the cosmos through becoming a life partner of Hades who would descend and ascend back and forth between the upperworld and the underworld, was a calling that fit the unique gifts she held within her soul.  Roberto Calasso in The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony wrote that Persephone stepping into her role as Queen of the underworld who can re-ascend to the world above implied that the “invisible would now reassert its rights over the body of the visible more strictly than before: their dealings with each other, long diluted and mingled together on earth, would find a new center of gravity.”   Persephone, Mercury, and Mars united at the end of this retrograde signify that the time has arrived to collect all of the wisdom and courage you can draw from the past period of underworld experiences in order to re-ascend into our wider communities with whatever gift or message you have cultivated to share.  Like Iris soaring with golden wings and bearing a pitcher full of underworld water, we can create rainbows out of the stormy atmosphere and commit ourselves to oaths of living and creating in accordance with our essence in good ways for all.

References

 

Calasso, R. (1993). The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony.  Knopf.

George, D. (1994). Finding Our Way Through the Dark:  an astrological companion to Mysteries of the Dark Moon. AFA.

Guttman, A. & Johnson, K. (1993). Mythic Astrology:  Archetypal Powers in the Horoscope.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1974). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases. Vintage.

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Mercury cazimi in Scorpio

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Storm Cloud, Lake George (1923) by Georgia O’Keeffe

Mercury at the heart of the Sun in Scorpio

Mercury forms its superior conjunction with the Sun on 27 October 2016 at 4°42′ Scorpio.  The superior conjunction occurs when Mercury is moving swiftly through the zodiac on the far side of the Sun in orbit, aligning with Earth in a straight line with regards to the degree of the zodiac.  The superior conjunction of Mercury always occurs when Mercury is moving direct, in contrast to the inferior conjunction of Mercury that occurs when Mercury is retrograde and slowly moving in between the Earth and the Sun in orbit.  While Mercury retrograde in conjunction with the Sun corresponds with an intensely deep, subterranean turn within for insight, the superior conjunction of Mercury in contrast signifies a blazing flow of illumination that can bring about an epiphany of realization as long as we do not become overwhelmed in our flight of mind like an over eager Icarus.

Mercury uniting with the Sun in Scorpio brings penetrating awareness into the underlying emotional dynamics of our present circumstances.  Mercury has more difficulty in water signs in terms of being able to clearly articulate all of its perceptions, as Mercury in water signs picks up on feelings and messages that go beyond words.  Poetry, music, art, and other creative forms of expression enable Mercury in water signs to convey more of the meaning it receives, and sometimes a look or knowing presence is all Mercury in a water sign needs to do in order to transmit profound insight.  Emotions take center stage with Scorpio, and while the water element allows Mercury in Scorpio to dissolve blockages and merge with external sources, its fixed nature can make it stubborn, unbending, and controlling.  When Mercury in Scorpio lets go of needing to ensure it securely has whatever it desires within its grasp, it gains the non-attachment needed to take full advantage of its ability to discern between those who are being honest or dishonest and not only unveil the personal truth of its situation but directly communicate its truth to others.

Mercury at the heart of the Sun in Scorpio can be especially powerful in terms of picking up essential information about our relationships due to the surrounding astrological aspects today.  Mars, the ruler of Scorpio is in Capricorn and applying to a square with Uranus, signifying that unexpected shocks as well as liberating revelations could enter awareness.  Venus in Sagittarius is especially active, having recently formed a square with Neptune in Pisces and a mutually received sextile with Jupiter in Libra, and now applying to a conjunction with Saturn in Sagittarius.  All together, these surrounding aspects are exposing any fantasies and over idealized perceptions we have been fixated upon in our relationships.  By being willing to embrace our honest feelings about our present relationships, the Mercury cazimi in Scorpio can not only help us penetrate into our essential truth and feelings but also help us directly communicate whatever we need to state about our needs and desires to those we are in relationship with.

The last time Mercury was at the heart of the Sun was during its retrograde in Virgo on 12 September 2016. This was a potent inferior conjunction of Mercury in between eclipses that also formed a catalytic square with Mars in Sagittarius.  Following this inferior conjunction, Mercury stationed direct and reappeared at dawn as a Morning Star, a phase Mercury has remained in since then up until now.  The superior conjunction of Mercury marks the transition of Mercury shifting from its Morning Star phase into its Evening Star phase.  Whereas the Morning Star Mercury is active with curiosity and ambitiously focused upon goals in worldly affairs, the Evening Star Mercury is more reflective, discerning, and attuned with how our bodily senses integrate messages from our environment.  Mercury will not be visible as an Evening Star until around 23 November 2016 when it forms a conjunction with Saturn in Sagittarius and sextile with Jupiter in Libra.

The exact alignment of Mercury with the Sun, known as being cazimi or at the heart of the Sun, is special because although Mercury is not visible in the sky its entry into the heart of the Sun places it in the throne of our Solar Light, strengthening all of its Mercurial significations.  Mercury is traditionally considered to become invisible or “under the beams” when it gets fifteen degrees away from the Sun- this happened on 6 October 2016. Once Mercury gets within eight degrees of the Sun it is considered “combust” and somewhat weakened in its ability to manifest its significations due to it undergoing a purifying, regenerative near death experience in the symbolic flames of the Sun.  Mercury went combust around 15 October 2016 at the time of the Full Moon in Aries that was conjoining Uranus.  Since that time our Mercurial perceptions have been going through a period of having past patterns burned off, and while this doesn’t mean we haven’t been able to communicate or interpret meaning effectively, it does mean that getting in touch with the concept of Mercury finishing a cycle can help one flow better with the energy similar to being aware of the difference in experiencing a Dark Moon as opposed to a First Quarter Moon.

The first mention of Mercury being at the heart of the Sun was in the era of Hellenistic astrology, and astrologers such as Rhetorius of Egypt declared that the significations of Mercury become greatly strengthened once it is within one degree of the Sun.  Later astrologers in the medieval period asserted that Mercury needs to be within 16 minutes of the Sun by degree because 16 minutes is one half of the Sun’s apparent size of 32 minutes. On a practical level I have found that the one degree boundary works well in defining a window in which Mercury is strengthened, but if you want to get most exact about it focus on the time period in which Mercury is within 16 minutes of a conjunction with the Sun (in the Pacific time zone, this will be roughly between Midnight and 7 pm on 27 October 2016). Mercury at the heart of the Sun is a magical moment in its synodic cycle, a time of the rebirth of the Mercury archetype in our life.  We can receive vital realization or new conception concerning our present state of being, so making the space during the cazimi time period to center,  ground, and attune within is a fertile, fruitful choice today.

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Starlight Night, Lake George (1922) by Georgia O’Keeffe

Mercury within 16 minutes of the Sun in Scorpio for cazimi effect:

Pacific standard time  * 12 am – 7 pm *  27 October 2016  [exact 9:44 am]

Eastern standard time *  3 am – 10 pm * 27 October 2016  [exact 12:44 pm]

British Summer time * 8 am (27 October) [exact 5:44 pm] – 3 am (28 October)

Central European time * 9 am (27 October) [exact 6:44 pm] – 4 am (28 October)

Australian Eastern Standard time  * 5 pm (27 October) – 12 pm (28 October) [exact 2:44 am]

Libra Lunar Eclipse 2016

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Painting by Carl Jung from his Red Book

Lunar Eclipse in Libra

Riding the dragon of the Libra Lunar Eclipse is Lady Justice, wielding her sword that cuts through inequities, imbalances, deceptions, and disempowerment.  The Full Moon Eclipse on 23 March 2016 illuminates the release and initiation of the Total Solar Eclipse that began this lunar cycle, and in the peeling away of the old dragon skin we find the regenerated richness of a purified path and vision to follow forward. In the ashes of what has been burned off there now arises refined reflection capable of irrevocably altering past patterns of limitation and inauthenticity.  The lunar light of this Eclipse illuminates a visceral sense of the deep Self within and how to best bolster the growth wanting to burst forth from it. Like a lightning strike of destiny there is sudden recognition of the old that is now gone with finality, with an arising yearning for the fresh scent of replenishing pleasure appearing on the path in front of us.

Libra is a sign of finding balance, the process of balancing rather than existing in a balanced state.  There is a great deal of instability in the surrounding astrological aspects to this Libra Lunar Eclipse, so the task at hand is finding a center of balance to move forward with.  There may be feelings of oscillation, yet within the vacillation there can be centering through claiming an authentic place of integrity.  Being true to inner values and ethics, responsibility may be taken to pursue the desires that make us feel alive rather than conform to stagnant expectations of others.  As a result we may act from a centered place of mature assertiveness and compassion, rather than from anger, passive aggression, vindictiveness,  arrogance, or narcissism.

The Lunar Eclipse in Libra occurs simultaneously with an exact last quarter square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Jupiter in Virgo, with the Libra Moon in sextile to Mars in Sagittarius, and the Sun and Mercury in Aries in trine to Mars.  The last quarter square between Jupiter and Saturn has its source in the end of May in the year 2000, when the current cycle between Jupiter and Saturn began (interestingly, the previous cycle between Saturn and Jupiter began in 1980 in the sign of Libra close to the degree of this Eclipse).  This is the second of three exact last quarter square aspects formed between Saturn and Jupiter, with the first occurring at the beginning of August 2015 during a Venus retrograde.  At the time of this Lunar Eclipse, Saturn in Sagittarius is stationing retrograde, and so the scythe of Saturn is firmly planted with stark resoluteness. What must be released now must be released with clarity, acceptance, and responsibility if you wish to please Saturn. Jupiter is still close to the North Node of the Moon, and so at the same time with grounded presence will come awareness of a vision to follow forward bringing greater embodiment in all of the complexity of nature.  The influence of Mars can light a burning passion from within, and with it a need to find a center of balance through which to mediate the fiery force.

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Lunar Eclipse Diagram, from The New York Public Library

In contrast to the Solar Eclipse that began this cycle on March 8 and covered the Sun in Total blackness, this Lunar Eclipse is not Total and is instead classified as Penumbral. This is because though the Eclipse is fairly close to the North Node of the Moon, the Eclipse is actually happening at the beginning of Libra while the North Node of the Moon is at the beginning of the second decan of Virgo.  The result is that the shadow cast by the Earth onto the Moon by our Sun is not going to cover the Moon in a total red glow, but instead means that only the diffuse outer shadow of Earth will cover the Moon and so the red shading will be barely noticeable.   Nonetheless, this is still a potent Lunar Eclipse especially because it occurs simultaneously with a last quarter square between Jupiter and Saturn and a superior conjunction between Mercury and the Sun which imbibes a strong Mercurial influence into the proceedings.

Symbolically the meaning of a Lunar Eclipse is rooted in the phenomenon of our Sun casting the shadow of our Earth onto the face of our Moon.  Linking the Moon to what we carry with us in our body and mind, these memories of the past can be released or opened up to allow for the emergence of new ways of being embodied in the moment.  This current Libra Lunar Eclipse is aligned with the North Node of the Moon, while our fiery Sun is burning most closely in alignment with Mercury on the side of the South Node of the Moon.  The Sun with the South Node means that growth comes now from the resolution and release of old karma, and with Chiron and Ceres closely conjoining the South Node of the Moon we can further link the archetypes of Chiron and Ceres strongly into the complexity of this past karmic pattern.  Among other themes linked with Chiron and Ceres is a unifying thread of self-healing, regeneration, and resilient persistence in productivity in times of loss, release, pain, and suffering.

Significantly, this is the final Lunar Eclipse to occur in the signs of Aries and Libra in the series that began in 2013 (Lunar Eclipse on 10/18/13 at 26 Aries; Lunar Eclipse on  4/15/14 at 26 Libra; Lunar Eclipse on  10/08/14 at 16 Aries; Lunar Eclipse on 4/04/15 at 15 Libra; Lunar Eclipse on 9/28/15 at 5 Aries).  Since this Lunar Eclipse is in close polarity to the Lunar Eclipse that occurred on 28 September 2015,  there is a direct link to issues arising at the end of September last year with whatever is being currently resolved and released at this time.  In the polarity between Aries and Libra, we explore the tension between the instinctual, independent needs of the self and the needs that are met through relationship with another.  The series of Lunar Eclipses in Aries and Libra that stretch back to October 2013 have triggered pivotal experiences that have brought awareness to the dynamics we create in relationship and our capacity to have our needs met.  Ideally, we can now gain insight into what we need to feel fulfilled in relationships, and clarity can be gained for how we can create a relationship based on equality and balanced giving and receiving.

 

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Gala Eduard (1924) by Max Ernst

Venus Neptune

Venus rules the eclipse while separating from a conjunction with Neptune in Pisces, and applying to a square with Saturn in Sagittarius. Pisces is the exaltation of Venus, and as Neptune in modern astrology is seen as a higher octave of Venus, this Libra Lunar Eclipse brings feelings of what most deeply fulfills us in love, whether that can be found in a current relationship or instead within the clarity of having old illusions regarding love washed away.  As Venus is applying to a square with a stationing Saturn, there is lucidity found by facing the actual reality of current relationships and their intrinsic patterns without denial.  This Libra Lunar Eclipse will highlight what has been out of balance in our relationships, where and why we have felt disillusioned, and what we need to do to create the relationships that will bring real love, truly nurturing and ecstatic love into our life.

As Venus bridges the square from Neptune in Pisces to Saturn in Sagittarius, Venus is simultaneously applying to an opposition with Jupiter in Virgo.  Regarding romantic relationships, the visionary feelings of what we want needs to be grounded in the body and the actual circumstances of the moment- whatever is out of alignment with our present reality will be keenly felt.  Regarding our myriad, complex relationships with the surrounding world in general, this Libra Eclipse will bring awareness to what old desires and attachments no longer serve us and are getting in the way of embodying our essential personal truth.  There is a great dissolving of inner values going on at this eclipse that we have been fixated upon for a sense for a sense of security and identity, and now realize have led us into disillusioning experiences.  By releasing the old, an open space is created through which regenerated inner values will emerge to source a purified vision for what will bring meaningful purpose into our life.

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The False Mirror (1928) by Rene Magritte

Mercury Cazimi

Crucially, Mercury is entering the heart of the Sun in Aries, the exaltation of the Sun, at the time of the Lunar Eclipse.  This is the superior conjunction of Mercury, when Mercury swiftly moves direct through a conjunction with the Sun, becoming purified and regenerated within the fiery rays of light.  The superior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun stands in contrast to the inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun that occurs when Mercury is retrograde.  Instead of the symbolic, oracular, chthonic perception enlivened at the inferior conjunction, the superior conjunction has a soaring epiphanic quality.  Demetra George has compared the superior conjunction of Mercury to the visionary quality of Mercury in Sagittarius- at the superior conjunction there is a quicksilver rush of insight and information that can feel overwhelming and difficult to encapsulate in communication, yet can ignite ingenious, penetrating perception.

With Mercury uniting with the Sun in Aries while applying to a trine with Mars in Sagittarius, Mercury is cazimi or “in the heart” of not only the Sun, but the central meaning of this Lunar Eclipse.  This is a moment of past patterns of perception being burned off, with brilliant discernment arising regarding the current nature of our desires and sense of personal will.  The piercing perception into our deep Self can also open awareness into unconscious forces that have been sourcing our choices and actions, and we can gain sudden clarity into how the shadow side of our personality manifested within the old Mercurial patterns being purified within the rays of the Sun.  As Mars will be stationing retrograde in less than a month, this is a Mercurial moment to seize in order to discover the essence of currently arising desires and the associated intrinsic purpose that will bring meaningful fulfillment into our life as we begin to enter the upcoming Mars retrograde.

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2 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Libra I Decan

The first face of Libra is associated with the Two of Swords card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  In the image we see a blindfolded woman crossing two swords in front of her, while sitting before an oceanic expanse.  The blindfold and ocean suggest contact with the instinctual inner realm and unconscious, similar to how a Lunar Eclipse will catalyze the fertile void within.  Commonly, this card in tarot has a meaning of mediating between opposing forces to find peace of mind and courageous equipoise, resolving previous conflicts within a protected space of exploring internal balance.  As Venus in Pisces as the ruler of the Libra Eclipse is separating from a conjunction with Neptune and applying to a square with Saturn and opposition with Jupiter, the capacity suggested by this card to turn within to find a balanced center with which to then respond through into the external world is fitting.

The Moon is the ruler of the first decan of Libra, adding additional potency to the Libra Moon being covered by the Earth’s shadow at the time of the Lunar Eclipse.  Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Blind Fold and a Sword” to this face, suggesting it awakens us to surrounding injustice and disequilibrium on a societal level as well as in our daily personal interactions. While Coppock noted the aspect of the decan that can bring inner peace through the recognition of inequities, he also found that there is a legal element to this face that brings evidence and “hidden testimonies to awareness” (p. 157).  Coppock linked this Libran legal aspect to the fact that the Hellenistic text The 36 Airs of the Zodiac ascribed the Erinyes (also known as the Furies) to the first face of Libra, the underworld goddesses serving natural law and justice who punished those who violated divine law.  Coppock captured the essence of this face in the following passage:

While fair trade and social justice are prime concerns in this face, its true object is relationships. Legal proceedings and commerce are essentially about the balance between two entities.  Indeed peace or strife between individuals is what determines social order, and consensus is the very root of the law. Fairness and reciprocity must underlie all friendships and romances if they are to last. This face shines a light on these dynamics, bringing what is troublesome to the light of conscious recognition. The core principles of ethical interaction with other beings are thus revealed in this face.  — Austin Coppock, 36 Faces, p. 158

As the Libra Lunar Eclipse arrives and passes, as the Moon proceeds to wane once again into the dissemination and release of its monthly cycle, may we each reawaken our sense of personal truth and integrity from within, living through these inner values and carrying their ethical implications into our relationships with the surrounding world.

References

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

LibraLunarEclipse2016WRIGC1

References

Mercury melds into the Sun as Neptune stations

Mercury Superior Conjunction

Altarpiece, No. 1 by Hilma af Klint (1907)

Mercury Superior Conjunction

On November 17, 2015 at about 6:53 am Pacific time, 9:53 am Eastern time, and 3:53 pm Central European time, Mercury will enter the heart of the Sun meaning that Mercury will be at the exact degree and minute of the tropical zodiac as the Sun:  24º56′ Scorpio.  This concept in astrology is known as cazimi, and when it happens the planet in cazimi is said to be vivified and regenerated in the burning solar rays, purified and open to insight.  Considering the importance Mercury plays in our moment to moment perception and discernment of reality, this is always a powerful moment to make the space to go within and center in your practice of choice.  As Mercury will be cazimi for a broader time period than the exact time noted above, it isn’t worth the stress to force a Mercury moment at the exact listed time- anytime in the hours before or after this time can work.

The current phase of Mercury we are in is known as its superior conjunction with the Sun, in contrast to the inferior conjunction that occurs when Mercury is retrograde.  When Mercury is retrograde it is between our Earth’s orbit and our Sun at the inferior conjunction, whereas at the superior conjunction Mercury is orbiting on the far side of the Sun from us on Earth. Whereas the inferior conjunction has a symbolic meaning of an underworld inception of core depth, the superior conjunction has a celestial resonance, a soaring, surging quality of an onrush of information that can lead to a moment of ingenious insight.

In Scorpio, the overwhelming processing of information at this superior conjunction occurs in the dark secretive recesses of our desires and consciousness.  Mercury here opens us to humanity’s heart of darkness, but we must first address our own shadow, not only the fears and desires circulating in our conscious mind but also the fears and desires we hold tightly bound in the caverns of our interior away from the light of perception.  A Scorpio superior conjunction of Mercury calls for honesty, for grieving what needs grieving, for releasing what needs to be transformed, and for realigning with the burning path of our essential desires.  Scorpio is also about courage, and Mercury being regenerated here will not shirk from protecting whatever is most dear to our hearts.  On the positive side, a Scorpio superior conjunction of Mercury helps us attune to the core soul desires that we now need to prioritize and focus upon.

Integrating the geocentric planetary nodes of Mercury is further illuminating at this particular superior conjunction, as it is conjunct both the South Node and North Node of Mercury.  The current South Node of Mercury is 23 degrees of Scorpio, while the North Node of Mercury is 28 degrees of Scorpio.  An astrologer friend of mine, Bradley Naragon, has a theory regarding this nodal arrangement of Mercury in Scorpio in which the South Node of Mercury in Scorpio is akin to an outwardly directed Mercury, while the North Node of Mercury in Scorpio resonates with an inwardly directed Mercury.  As Bradley is an evolutionary astrologer, the meaning of this in part is that the evolutionary movement of Mercury at this time is toward self discrimination regarding all of the past information gained from outer curiosity and exploration.  In Scorpio, Bradley has interpreted this to mean inner insight can occur regarding past betrayals, violations of trust, and abuses of power.  With this Scorpio superior conjunction of Mercury now occurring conjunct both the South and North Nodes of Mercury in Scorpio, we are at a time in which we can sense how we have been impacted by past violations and abuse, as well as penetrate into the dynamics of our own times of betraying or hurting others.

As if this is not deep enough of an astrological transit to be occurring, at the same time that Mercury is cazimi we will also be experiencing Neptune stationing direct in Pisces.  Neptune stations direct the day after Mercury enters the heart of the Sun on November 18, and so we are already in the vortex of feeling this Neptunian influence in our lives.  This stationing of Neptune is further intensified by the fact that as it is stationing, Saturn in Sagittarius is applying to a square with Neptune.  The last quarter square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces is the most impactful transit we will be experiencing in this next year, and so the superior conjunction of Mercury in Scorpio happening as Neptune stations will give us great insight into the underlying inner dynamics at play in our current experiences related to Saturn in square to Neptune.

Mercury Superior Conjunction

The Swan, No. 18 by Hilma Af Klint (1915)

North Node of Moon in Virgo

An additional significance to this Scorpio superior conjunction of Mercury is that the transiting lunar nodes have recently shifted into the mutable signs of Pisces and Virgo, and so Mercury is now the ruler of the transiting North Node of the Moon.  The lunar nodes are one of those aspects in astrology in which you can hear different interpretations from different astrologers.  A more traditional view is that the North Node of the Moon amplifies associated energy aspected, whereas the South Node of the Moon takes away.  Personally, while the amplified aspect of the North Node does go along with many of my astrological observations, the idea of the South Node taking away to me only tells a small part of the story.  A more unique interpretation of the lunar nodes I have heard was given in a lecture by astrologer Bernadette Brady at NORWAC in 2014, in which she linked the idea that the lunar nodes pinpoint eclipses to the concept of chaos, stating that the South Node of the Moon is a place in which we access chaos through our unconscious, and the North Node of the Moon being a place where we consciously access chaos.  I feel the link of the South Node to the unconscious can work on many levels, as sometimes the South Node of the Moon aspects do not actually take away but instead bring something important, and to me this links with Carl Jung’s conception of the unconscious being a fertile source for our lives.

Another view of the lunar nodes is found in the system of evolutionary astrology developed in part by Jeff Green, in which the South Node of the Moon signifies the totality of past influences of conditioning on the present moment, while the North Node of the Moon signifies the inner and outer experiences that the Soul desires in order to facilitate its ongoing evolution.  Within this system of astrology, Jeff Green created an interpretation for the transiting lunar nodes that I have consistently found to work and bring insight with anyone I work with in astrology.  Here the transiting North Node of the Moon as it makes aspects in your chart and crosses a specific house is pointing toward new choices that will help one move away from whatever has been preventing necessary growth.  In addition, one can look at the transiting ruler of the transiting North Node of the Moon to gain further insight into where new growth-oriented choices can be found.  Bearing all of this in mind, it means that the insights we gain at this time of a Scorpio superior conjunction of Mercury are vitally important.  Mercury’s superior conjunction is always important, but it does indeed possess amplified significance now that transiting Mercury is also the ruler of the transiting North Node of the Moon.

Neptune in Pisces

What a Human Being Is by Hilma af Klint (1910)

Neptune Stations Direct

When Neptune stations direct, this transpersonal planet that is so often in the background and out of consciousness for so many suddenly becomes viscerally felt on a widespread level.  Neptune signifies the multitudinous meaning found in images, the ineffable meaning felt at times through our collective unconscious, and is known as the great dissolver that can melt previous secure structures of thought into a process of disillusionment, confusion, and disorientation that can then lead to a reorientation with reality more resonant with the sense of truth we are gaining from our evolving experiences.   Neptune stationing direct with Saturn applying to a last quarter square is making the feeling of disorientation much more profound, the feeling of disillusionment more overwhelming.

In connection with the transiting lunar nodes, while I am an astrologer who believes that Jupiter rules the sign of Pisces, I have also found through my work in evolutionary astrology that when wielding this system Neptune’s rulership of Pisces clearly works.  It is worth considering that in evolutionary astrology Neptune is now the ruler of the transiting South Node of the Moon, and so indicating Neptunian influences of past conditioning interfacing with the present moment.  This brings about inner reflection into one’s personal history of illusions, delusions, deceiving others, and being deceived by others.  The self-knowledge that can be gained out of this comes from taking personal responsibility for whatever inner dynamics contributed to these situations.  The depth of perception offered by Mercury having it’s superior conjunction in Scorpio now is perfect for taking a dive into our internal realms in this way to find what we can discover.  In addition, with the devotional Vesta currently being conjunct the South Node of the Moon in Pisces, there is intense focus available to tap into the spiritual lessons that can be gained from this process.

Any process of disillusionment occurring now can be ultimately seen in the Jupiterian, big picture way of Sagittarius and Pisces as leading toward a rediscovery of truth and a release of past attachments of belief and thought that we realize are out of alignment with our personal truth.  In our collective, unfortunately we will also continue to witness a reaction of many clinging to the dogmatic side of Saturn in Sagittarius- these individuals will turn toward beliefs of nationalism and religion that are on the side of exclusion and fear rather than inclusion and love.  Again, with the superior conjunction of Mercury happening now in Scorpio, we can also turn the penetrating senses of the Scorpion into the dark underbelly of our sordid surrounding societies.

Scorpio III Decan

7 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Scorpio III Decan

The Scorpio superior conjunction of Mercury occurs in the third face of Scorpio, associated with the 7 of Cups card illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith.  In this image we see seven chalices holding strange visions floating above a figure cloaked in shadow. The images held in the chalices are associated with common human desires such as fame, wealth, love, power, and transformation, yet the cynosure of this assembly appears to be a veiled figure with open arms emerging from the center cup. This card is often associated with being overcome by visions to choose from in an atmosphere of illusion and temptation, most of which if not all are unlikely to lead to anything solid we can sustain. There is also a practice of interpreting the card as indicating the possibility of discerning the one choice that will bring clarity, illumination, and increased opportunities for choices one desires.  Since the superior conjunction of Mercury can coincide with spiritual insight and discernment, this latter interpretation is a definite potential gift at this time to unveil.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces linked the 7 of Cups to the third decan of Scorpio through fixation on fantasies and being dominated by obsessive desires. Coppock suggested that the illusions of desires and the loss of being separated from the object of our desire takes us into a destruction and regeneration process and lessons involving the core nature of desire:

This is ultimately a face of wrestling with one’s own desire nature, for it leads one inevitably back to confrontation with the nature of desire itself. It is the property of no one else. The floating cloud of fantasies must be recognized as wholly one’s own . . . It is a matter of the transformation of a desire rather than its immediate gratification in sense-objects . . . The process truly described is the dissolution or putrefaction of desires back into their raw, un-structured form- their prima materia . . . We bury the corpse of past loves and wait for the flowers to grow from their graves . . . When desire’s hungry ghosts have finally been laid to rest, the compost is complete, and a rich loam results. In the grave soil of yesterday’s loves, anything can grow. This face is thus a formula of liberation, for if we were not capable of laying our desires to rest, returning them to pure energy, we would be enchained forever, prisoners of what we once held dear. (p. 187-188).

Venus is the ruler of the third face of Scorpio where the superior conjunction of Mercury occurs, and Venus is currently in Libra in a very significant aspect of applying to a last quarter square with Pluto in Capricorn.  Venus is at home in Libra, lavishing in the adornments this sign of relationship, art, and justice provide her.  With Venus in square to Pluto in Capricorn, our sense of justice will be outraged in the face of oppression and abuse propagated by hierarchical systems of power.  In accordance with Neptune stationing direct, it also can intensify disillusionment that leads to deconditioning from consensus, mainstream beliefs embedded in the power structure.  On a personal level, we can also begin a reorientation at this time toward taking the responsibility to fulfill our own needs in relationship as well as meeting the needs of our partners in relationship.  In all of this, we find a soulful gift in the form of Mercury entering the heart of the Sun in Scorpio, for perhaps in no other sign can we feel all of this as intensely and burn off what now needs to be purified for our beckoning future life together.

References

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