Aquarius New Moon

Crow Screen, Asian Art Museum

Japanese crow screen on display at Seattle Asian Art Museum

New Moon in Aquarius

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

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

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

de-chirico-the-anxious-journey

Giorgio de Chirico (1913) The Anxious Journey

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

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

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

alexei-savrasov-landscape-with-rainbow

Landscape with a Rainbow (1881) by Alexei Savrasov

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

rainbow-emblem-x

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

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

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

5 of Swords

5 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Aquarius 1 Decan

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

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

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

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

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

— Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Ulrich Baer

References

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

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

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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.

Full Moon in Leo

Lion by Rousseau

The Repast of the Lion (1907) by Henri Rousseau

The Full Moon in Leo on January 23, 2016 illuminates the meaning we have received from Mercury retrograde in Capricorn and Aquarius, as Mercury will be stationing while conjoining Pluto. This further means that Mercury retrograde is stationing in range of a square with Uranus in Aries, and so there is something to unearth that speaks of where you sit within the great changes that have swept across our planet in the past five years or so of the Uranus and Pluto square.  In this present moment, with a Full Moon ripening in the sign of the Lion, it is the beast within that clamors for beauty and the creation of a life that brings passion and a sense of validation.  This is a Full Moon in the home of the Sun, with the Sun in Aquarius connecting to the human ability to detach from the dominant narratives running through the mainstream in order to liberate and enable the mind to conceive thoughts free of the systemic static of the status quo. The old constellation image of the Water Bearer associated with Aquarius brings to mind its purifying potential impact when activated, and when the Moon waxes full in its polarity sign of Leo it is the essential force of our burning heart within and all we desire to create that can revivify one’s being.

Mercury is always active and mentally stimulating when retrograde, but since this current Mercury retrograde began in Aquarius in square to Mars in Scorpio, and ends now in Capricorn conjoining Pluto and in square to Uranus, the effect has brought waves of overwhelming forces to mediate.  Many of you reading this no doubt have had to face some of your deepest fears over the past weeks of this Mercury retrograde, as the landscape of our lives has been in process of being fundamentally altered.  The intensity continues as the Full Moon in Leo is also occurring in range of a square to Mars in Scorpio, and as the Moon begins to wane while still in its full phase it will apply to an exact square with Mars.  These aspects will catalyze desire and bring to mind and body what we want at a core level but have been resisting or felt blocked from manifesting.  If the desire does not seem to be available now, or great obstacles appear to be in the way, it will be far more fruitful to utilize the will force of Mars to work toward the desire rather than erupting with anger or disintegrating with futility.

While Mars is in square to the Full Moon, it is coming into range of a sextile with the conjunction between Pluto and Mercury retrograde in Capricorn and is also closely conjoining Juno in Scorpio.  In the light of this Full Moon one’s relationship needs can be more fully felt, a vision of what one wants in partnership formed in the mind with passionate force.  This does not mean that our current circumstances  hold the possibility of uniting now with the ideal partner, only that the vision brings the potential to ultimately experience the union.  If you are in relationship at this time, this Full Moon will illuminate the unspoken as much as the spoken and whatever has not yet been revealed during this Mercury retrograde will now come into sharp awareness for processing.  While conflict could erupt if communication comes from a place of wounding, there is at the same time potential for healing and deep processing of the underlying forces that have been operating between partners.

volcano crater

Crater of Volcano, Quetzaltenango-Guatemala by Eadweard Muybridge (1875)

The Mercury and Pluto conjunction will be simmering through the rest of January, erupting at times through the surface facades of daily interactions.  Mercury will remain within a degree or two of Pluto into the first week of February, and around the time of the waning last quarter Moon of this lunar cycle Mercury will move direct into another conjunction with Pluto and square with Uranus. There is also an added component that Vesta is conjoining Uranus in Aries at the time of the Full Moon, and so also in square to the conjunction of Pluto with Mercury retrograde.  With these aspects the mind can now penetrate to the bottom line dynamics of every situation encountered, and feelings previously buried within will emerge.  This is not a time to fear, however, as whatever thoughts and feelings arrive will be absolutely essential to process, heal, and work with in the unknown future to come.  As this Full Moon illuminates what we want to create, use this time with Pluto united with Mercury to explore the depths of the desires emerging to gain greater clarity of the specific aspects and details to center plans around.

The Full Moon in Leo also illuminates the recent ingress of Venus into Capricorn.  As the Moon wanes into the forthcoming New Moon in Aquarius in early February, Venus will move across Capricorn into a conjunction with Mercury and Pluto.  This further re-emphasizes whatever feelings and needs we have resisted expressing due to fear of judgment or rejection- if this has been going on so long that these needs have taken on a monstrous proportion, these aspects support gaining awareness and uncovering the underlying reasons these needs became distorted across time.  For example, we may gain new insight into the imprinting we received from our parents and early development in the society we were born into, leading to the development of our current self-image.  In the waning lunar cycle following this Full Moon in Leo, we can restructure our inner and outer relationships to be in greater alignment with our true emotions and needs.

colour triangle

Johann Heinrich Lambert’s adaptation of Tobias Mayer’s triangle (17772) courtesy of The Public Domain Review

While Mercury is conjoining Pluto over the next week or two, Mercury is also receiving Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon in Virgo through a trine.  The more we do the deep Mercury-Pluto work of digging into our depths and avoiding denial and escapist pursuits, the more we access the Jupiter-North Node capacity to fully enter the present moment of our material realm and shift life events into a new trajectory in greater alignment with core values and needs.  This is a potent aspect for visioning not only the extraordinary life we dream of living, but discerning the choices available to us now that will take us in this direction.  This is a time to get out of your habitual mind as much as possible and be truly present, embracing every opportunity to look at things differently than ever before.

Further supporting finding new solutions and approaches is a trine between Saturn in Sagittarius and Uranus in Aries that is now closer in orb than the square between Saturn with Neptune in Pisces.  However, in reality these two very different aspects to transiting Saturn are happening simultaneously, and so radical thoughts and insights will be arising in an atmosphere that will also find us facing disillusionment and skepticism over what aspects of our dreams can manifest in reality.  The unifying principle to connect with the highest potential of both of these transits to Saturn is to not hold back and instead to allow yourself to envision the life you want to live free of the ways you have restricted or repressed yourself previously.  These aspects to Saturn in Sagittarius will be occurring throughout this next year, and so this Leo Full Moon is an opportune time to allow yourself to unleash your imagination and create grand goals to work toward.

wands05

5 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Leo I Decan

The Full Moon falls in the first face of Leo, ruled by Saturn and associated with the 5 of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  In tarot the 5 of Wands card is typically associated with entering into conflict and strife, being confronted and needing to  fight to assert oneself, stand one’s ground, or achieve a desired, prominent position.  Astrologer Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Spotlight” to the first face of Leo which can be connected to the imagery of the 5 of Wands through the five youth battling for dominance, attention, or the spotlight, the starring role.  Coppock wrote that the “power of this decan is to focus a mass of attention on one point or person” (p. 122), and analyzed that the decan’s rulership by Saturn signifies the ability to direct the spotlight in order to both reveal as well as conceal, binding the attention, and projection, of an audience to one’s performing image.  In addition to “The Spotlight,” Coppock also described the significance of the “magical weapon” of the “Mask” to the power found in the first face of Leo:

 The mask focuses the wearer’s attention on those aspects of their being which are in harmony with the mask’s appearances and enhances one’s ability to express them. The mask serves a similar function with onlookers- it focuses their attention on certain qualities.  The mask is thus the mystical nexus between all of the streams of attention in place . . .

It is interesting to note that the word for mask in Latin is “Persona.”  “Persona” is used in modern English to denote a portion of the psyche, and is the root of the more common term “personality.”  The “persona” does not describe the entire geography of the soul, instead, it describes the social role played by the person . . .

Thus the material of the psyche coalesces and then concretizes into the pattern necessary to function in a given role- the mask. An effective mask creates a nexus point which mediates inside and outside, self and other . . . Masks, like the spotlight which they are created to survive, are perilous tools, for as they are fed by attention they grow stronger, consuming more of the wearer’s energy.  The mask/persona can thus go from being a useful tool to a powerful parasite, feeding off of and devouring their host.

–Austin Coppock, 36 Faces (p. 123)

The current lunar cycle waxing full in the first face of Leo began with a New Moon in Capricorn that brought news of the death of David Bowie.  Bowie was born with a Moon in the first face of Leo at the same degree as this Full Moon, as well as a Saturn conjoining his Moon also in the first decan of Leo.  Furthermore, David’s Moon is conjunct his descendant, meaning that his ascendant is aligned with the position of the Sun in Aquarius at the time of this Full Moon.  While Bowie’s Moon conjoining Saturn and his descendant is fitting considering how much he thrived upon collaboration with other artists and worked hard to manifest his creativity until the very end of his life, his Moon is also exemplary of the meaning Austin Coppock brought to the first face of Leo in 36 Faces.  As has been celebrated extensively this past week, Bowie was a master of creating masks through which to project his work, taking on a different public identity with each new creative departure.  However, while David Bowie achieved great public acclaim through his talent for mask making, he also became a victim entrapped by the projections of his audience.  As a result, he put his masked identities to death in the process of creating his new identities through which to manifest his art.  It has been said by those who stood close to Bowie on stage that no one else possessed his talent for controlling and directing the attention of a massive audience from stage, and many who met him in person were overwhelmed with the charisma they felt in the meeting place of his gaze.

As David Bowie has been extensively celebrated in the time leading up to this Full Moon, he serves now as a marvelous model for this Full Moon in Leo through his capacity to imagine as well as embody an extraordinary life, vision as well as manifest radical artistic creations that break free from mainstream patterns and conditioning, and direct public attention to his work through the shaping of his public masks.  With Saturn in Sagittarius in square to Neptune and in trine to Uranus, with Mercury retrograde conjoining Pluto while in square to Uranus, and with the square from Mars in Scorpio to this Full Moon in Leo, it is also important to realize the process Bowie went through in destroying each vehicle he created for himself once it no longer aligned with what he authentically desired to create.  Similarly, this Full Moon will guide you to release any mask or persona you have developed to navigate the public sphere that no longer matches how you truly want to be.   Within the catalytic atmosphere of the aspects surrounding this Leo Full Moon, there is a fertile matrix from which to embark in a direction more attuned with the passion arising from within.

References

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

Mercury Retrograde in Saturn’s Home

Dore_Raven15

Illustration for The Raven by Gustave Dore

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

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

— Hermes Chthonian from The Orphic Hymns

Mercury Retrograde

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dore_Inferno1

Illustration for Dante’s Inferno by Gustave Dore

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

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

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

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

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury Stations Retrograde

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

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

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

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

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

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

mercury passing in front of the sun

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

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

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

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

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

–Rainer Maria Rile from Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury into the Sun

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

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

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

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

Dore Gustave Inferno_Canto_1_spirit_guide

Virgil leads Dante by Gustave Dore, from the Divine Comedy

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

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

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

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

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury Stations Direct

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

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

References

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

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

Capricorn Solstice 2015

Delaunay simultaneous contrast

Simultaneous Contrasts: Sun and Moon by Robert Delaunay (1912)

SOLSTICE

Merry Solstice to one and all.  The Solstice in the sign of Capricorn on December 21 or December 22 (depending upon your time zone) supports fine tuning the forms we have been developing and launching forward with our work into a dramatic year of change. For those living in the Southern Hemisphere of our planet, this is the Summer Solstice of peak solar light, while for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere we are at the darkest time of the year in which we welcome the first glimmer of a returning Sun.  From the Northern Hemisphere perspective of this being the darkest and most fertile time, many consider the Capricorn Solstice chart to be paramount in terms of casting a gaze ahead at the coming year.   Last year at this time there was truly a dark Solstice as a New Moon happened on the same day-  now a year later, we will have a waxing gibbous Moon in Taurus gracing our night with bright light.

The waxing gibbous Moon at this Solstice symbolically resonates with a budding that promises a full blooming according to the lunation cycle developed by Dane Rudhyar. This symbolism of a flower bud is accentuated by the Moon being in the sign of Taurus, the exaltation of the Moon, lending a grounded quality able to evaluate the structures we have set in motion and discern if there are any parts in need of restructuring.  Acting harmoniously with a gibbous Moon means gathering together the tools and resources we need for the coming grand opening of meaning, making the necessary arrangements that will allow us to effectively express the burgeoning meaning we are discovering into forms that will be functional.  The Moon in Taurus at the Solstice is applying to a trine with Mercury in Capricorn and Jupiter in Virgo, and so supports discovering how to successfully integrate our work and vision into a wider community so as to be useful for others.

The Taurus Moon is additionally in range of a trine to the North Node of the Moon in Virgo as well as Pluto in Capricorn, and so there is a valuable aspect of our soul we can uncover by probing into the darkness of our depths at this Solstice time.  With the Moon in stabilizing aspects with both the North Node and Jupiter as well as Mercury (the ruler of the transiting North Node), this Solstice supports us discerning not only the expansive opportunities on our horizon but the ability to make new choices that propel us forward into a new direction.

The Taurus Moon of the Solstice does involve some more challenging, catalytic aspects, as it is also applying to an opposition with Venus in Scorpio and separating from a square to Ceres in Aquarius.  This t-square involves the three most pre-eminent feminine symbols for archetypes we use in Western astrology, and connects well with the concept of our sacred feminine giving birth at the time of Solstice.  While a Taurus Moon supports the idea of turning inward into our core to incubate within the protective sphere of our own meaning and values, the opposition to Venus in Scorpio amplifies the polarity of being open to sharing our most intimate feelings with our beloved, being open to merging our resources with others, and being drawn into exploring the hidden recesses of other people and any circumstance we find ourselves within.

Ceres in Aquarius is a vital piece of this arrangement to consider, and she has a stabilizing influence through a sextile with Saturn in Sagittarius and a sextile with Uranus in Aries.  Ceres here holds the potential to activate humanitarian concerns related to the highest good in any situation, outside of consensus conditioning.  However, much depends upon where individual awareness is situated, for in this astrological climate Ceres could be acting from a wounded place of fear or from a wounded place that has transcended fear and re-centered in a heartfelt place of love for the full ramification of our challenging life.  In the story of Ceres from myth, the Goddess reacts to the loss of her daughter initially by refusing to share her gifts with the world, yet by the end of a process of suffering she opens to a new sense of spiritual understanding and love.  Since Ceres is in a t-square with both Venus and the Moon at the Solstice, it highlights the significance of Ceres applying closely to a sextile with Uranus stationing direct in Aries.

Picasso Francoise as the Sun

Francoise as the Sun by Pablo Picasso (1946)

Uranus in Aries stations four days after the Solstice and so its stationing influence on the Solstice is one of the most important aspects to take into account.  When any planet stations it casts a shadow over the amalgam of astrology aspects simultaneously unfolding, and this is especially the case with a paradigm shattering planet such as Uranus stationing direct in the exaltation of the Sun.  Uranus last stationed retrograde at 20°30′ of Aries around July 26, a day after Venus stationed retrograde.  As a result this past period of Uranus retrograde took us through the Venus retrograde in Leo, two eclipses, Mercury retrograde in Libra, and the initiation of the square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces.  Our feelings and experiences from this time period will be especially pertinent to Uranus stationing now, but a Uranus stationing can pull memory from the farthest reaches of memory imaginable.

Uranus stations direct at 16º33′ of Aries, and so if you have anything prominent in your chart configured to this degree by aspect you could experience one of those moments that suddenly and surely alters your perception for good.  Insights from Uranus can strike seemingly from anywhere, in the middle of a chaotic crescendo or in the quiet whispers of contemplation.  The mind altering component consistent to Uranus stationing is a time warp of past and present morphing so that our perspective of our past changes irrevocably, sending emancipatory waves of thought into our present moment.  While there may be pain and grief associated with the breakthrough, in the end there is liberating freedom to be found in the shattering of fixed structures of our past.

Uranus in Aries is still in range of a square to Pluto in Capricorn, and as Mars in Libra is separating from its opposition with Uranus at the time of the Solstice, Saturn in Sagittarius is beginning to apply to a trine with Uranus in Aries that will be one of the most vital aspects of the coming year.  Mercury in Capricorn is also separating from a square with Uranus in Aries and applying to a square with Mars in Libra, reconnecting the tension of the recent opposition between Mars and Uranus.  Thus, while Mars is clearly separating from its stormy aspects with Pluto and Uranus at the time of the Solstice, Mercury moving from a square to Uranus into a square with Mars suggests a volatile atmosphere for the stationing of Uranus.  This is how Uranus rolls, so be ready for a shake-up that will make you look at your life in a completely different way.

Delaunay_Windows_Open_Simultaneously_1st_Part,_3rd_Motif

Windows Open Simultaneously 1st Part, 3rd Motif by Robert Delaunay (1912)

Two of the most prominent aspects of the Solstice chart are also two of the most prominent omens for the coming year:  the square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces, and the conjunction of Jupiter in Virgo with the North Node of the Moon.  Jupiter and the North Node will be in range of a conjunction through July 2016, and Saturn and Neptune will be moving out of their square aspect in November 2016.  Though Jupiter is not in range of a square to Saturn at the time of the Solstice, Jupiter will be entering into a square with Saturn in March 2016 and eventually will come into range of a wide opposition with Neptune while simultaneously being in a square with Saturn.

Weaving all this together, the Solstice chart involves the pivotal tumult signified by Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune being in hard, change-oriented aspects while also being in mutable signs that further signify deep shifting.  Within all of this being stirred up now, many are clinging tightly to past belief systems for a sense of security in changing circumstances that feel frightening to those who are intent on maintaining the status quo.  While the concept of “illusion” is often applied to Neptune, Saturn can also be full of illusion in the sense of people becoming convinced that a belief system, a way to structure their reality, is in line with an ultimate truth when in reality there is a far vaster truth signified by Neptune that is actually going on. This Solstice is truly a powerful moment of rebirth in perspective for all those willing to dive in and reorient their sense of truth and meaning in the shattering of systems occurring on our planet today.

Ernst forest and sun

Forest and Sun (1930) by Max Ernst

Finally, there are numerous aspects in the Solstice chart centering around Mercury in Capricorn that suggest we are in a moment of rebirthing our vision through entering an underworld journey.  Mercury is separating from a conjunction with Pluto while applying to a conjunction with Pallas Athene in Capricorn, and also applying to a square with Mars in Libra.  Mercury is now a sage Evening Star capable of helping us synthesize meaning from all of the volatility of this time, and while conjoining Pallas Athene lends itself a visionary component that can connect patterns and weave together significant insights.  Mercury is also now in its retrograde shadow zone, and will ultimately station retrograde in January at the beginning of Aquarius in square to Mars in Scorpio.  Mercury will then turn retrograde back to another conjunction with Pallas Athene and eventually will station direct conjunct Pluto in Capricorn.  With Mercury in the home of Saturn, Saturn in the home of Jupiter, and Jupiter in the home of Mercury, the underworld trek Mercury will be guiding us into will help us discern the bottom-line roots of the desires and conflicts we are consciously aware of at this Solstice, igniting inner vision.

In the year ahead, all of the Mercury retrograde periods will involve the Earth element and important aspects to Pluto and Jupiter also in Earth signs.  In May 2016 when Mercury goes retrograde in Taurus, it will station direct in trine to Pluto in Capricorn and Jupiter in Virgo.  During the following Mercury retrograde in Virgo, Mercury will station retrograde at the end of August 2016 conjoining Jupiter in Virgo, moving backward to again station direct in trine to Pluto in Capricorn.  Thus while Mercury is separating from a conjunction with Pluto at the time of this Solstice, Mercury and Pluto will be in cahoots for the entire year ahead and brokering new deals on a soul level. This Solstice portends a year of following through on plans to build solid growth, attending to the needs of our bodies, and moving forward in the material realm to more deeply establish ourselves in the role we will be playing in the great drama erupting in our collective.

Furthermore, the square beginning to form now between Mercury and Mars, with Mercury in the home of Saturn, is a call demanding hard work, perseverance, and a relentless focus on the dreams and visions we wish to manifest in the coming year.  Mars will going retrograde in Sagittarius and Scorpio later in 2016, and there will be a strong resonance between the Mercury retrograde in Taurus and the Mars retrograde in Scorpio later in May 2016.  Furthermore, in the Mercury retrograde in Virgo that will happen in September 2016, Mercury retrograde in Virgo will be square to Mars moving direct in Sagittarius.  We often associate Mars in a square to Mercury with arguments, anger, diatribes, and bitter conflicts, and it is a guarantee that in our collective the hateful rhetoric happening today at this Solstice will continue.  Yet on a personal level, we can seize the explosive energy that will erupt from Mercury in square to Mars in order to apply its heat to a fusion of our body, mind, and spirit activated in determined effort.  In the destruction of form we will witness around us in the coming season, there is at the same time extraordinary creative effort we will be able to birth from within.

“Apparently the power to establish order, which ranks among the most inexorable strengths of artistic creation, is summoned most insistently by two interior states: by one’s awareness of abundance and by the utter collapse within a human being, which, after all, yields yet another abundance.”

“What ruthless magnificence and yet how terrible to ignite love:  what conflagration, what disaster, what doom.  To be on fire yourself, of course, if one is capable of it:  that may well be worth life and death.”

“To be loved means to be ablaze. To love is: to cast light with inexorable oil. To be loved is to pass away; to love is to last.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters on Life

 

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References:

Rilke, Rainer Maria. (2006). Letters on Life: New Prose Translations. Edited and translated by Ulrich Baer. The Modern Library Classics.