Mercury Retrograde in Virgo

Splendor Solis Mercury flask

Mercury Flask from the Splendor Solis

We know where [ Hermes ] comes from and what type of consciousness he exemplifies.  He is most likely the same dark depth of being from which we all originate.  Perhaps for this reason Hermes can so convincingly hover before us, lead us on our ways, show us golden treasures in everyone through the split-second timing which is the spirit of finding and thieving- all of this because he creates his reality out of us, or more properly through us, just as one fetches water not so much out of a well as through the well from the much deeper regions of the earth . . .  Despite the thievery and deceit and shamelessness- and this is probably the most wonderful thing about it- a divine innocence is properly suited to and inherent in it.  Hermes has nothing to do with sins and atonement.  What he brings with him from the springs of creation is precisely the “innocence of becoming.”

— Karl Kerenyi, from Hermes: Guide of Souls

Mercury Retrograde in Virgo

It’s in twilight when it comes.  The shift of hue and space arrives, transmuting sunlight into variegated shadow, enveloping life in a polychromatic caress of sensuous mood and mysterious measure.  With a flash of light Mercury descends retrograde into the darkening brilliance of sunset, disappearing into its invisible, underworld phase with a message to receive.  The sign of Virgo where Mercury stations in stillness is the nocturnal home of Hermes, the quicksilver messenger and companion of black night whose serpentine staff enchants and lulls, whose fluttering wings break open any static sleepiness of mind.  As Mercury slows down, comes to a standstill, and then turns backward in retrograde motion through the zodiac, we cross a liminal threshold that invites alterations of mental fixations and openings to manifold perspectives.

In the realm of popular culture, periods of Mercury retrograde are known as disastrous aberrations in which Mercury becomes a scapegoat for all misfortunes and mishaps.  Yet the Mercury retrograde period is a regular cyclical phenomenon that happens at least three times every year, an essential aspect of Mercury’s orbit just like the consistent blackening of the Moon in its 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 and smooth communication, the lessons of Mercury do not always come from stability, as experience shows that chaos and disorientation 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 frustrating to the enlivening.  Flowing with Mercury retrograde involves letting go of strict control and order, opening to the wisdom coming from unexpected sources.   As the changeable nature of Mercury is found in its extremely variable speed, when Mercury slows dow to station it is important to pay attention to its aspects in the natal chart as well as to other planets by transit.  The Mercury retrograde in Virgo begins with the strange brew of Mercury stationing in a beneficial conjunction with Jupiter and Venus, at the entrance into a dramatic portal of eclipses.

Mercury stations retrograde in Virgo on 30 August 2016 at a Dark Moon two days before an annular Solar Eclipse.  In the blackness of the Balsamic Moon, Mercury will be surrounded by Venus and Jupiter with all three planets visible during the changing colors of sunset.  Since Mercury is both at home and exalted in Virgo, and surrounded on both sides by the visionary Jupiter and the pleasing Venus, Fortuna smiles upon this alignment.  Furthering fortune, at the same time Mercury stations retrograde Venus enters her own sign of Libra where she will luxuriate for the entirety of the backward motion of Mercury, increasing in brightness as an Evening Star.  However, these signs of expansive harmony coexist with Mercury stationing at the time of a potent Solar Eclipse in hard aspect to Mars, Saturn, and Neptune.  Mercury retrograde in Virgo will be the psychopomp guiding us through an eclipse season that will call for the release of old attachments and beliefs, but in the letting go a space will open for nurturing innovation.

MercuryStationRxWRIGC3

Magritte-the-cultivation-of-ideas

The Cultivation of Ideas (1928) by Renee Magritte

In ‘nature’ there’s no choice-
flowers
swing their heads in the wind, sun & moon
are as they are. But we seem
almost to have it ( not just
available death )

It’s energy; a spider’s thread: not to
‘go on living’ but to quicken, to activate: extend:
Some have it, they force it-

with work or laughter or even
the act of buying, if that’s
all they can lay hands on-

the girls crowding the stores, where light,
colour, sold dreams are- what gay
desire! It’s their festival,
ring game, wassail, mystery.

It has no grace like that of
the grass, the humble rhythms, the
falling & rising of leaf and star;
it’s barely
a constant. Like salt:
take it or leave it

The ‘hewers of wood’ & so on; every damn
craftsman has it while he’s working
but it’s not
a question of work: some
shine with it, in repose. Maybe it is
response, the will to respond- (‘reason
can give nothing at all / like
the response to desire’) maybe
a gritting of the teeth, to go
just that much further, beyond the end
beyond whatever ends to begin, to be, to defy.

–Denise Levertov, Beyond the End

Virgo is a mutable earth sign in which Mercury is exalted and comfortably at home, with all of its resources and tools at its disposal.  As a result, the tricks and wayward paths Mercury guides us through during its retrograde promise to make essential aspects of our reality illuminated even when reinforcing the obscurity of our world and the impossibility of knowing everything clearly.  Virgo is an inwardly directed and receptive place for Mercury to burrow into fertile sources of research, devise practical solutions to current predicaments, discern dietary and physical routines to fortify the body, and purify the mind from whatever heavy issues have been accumulating and weighing one down.

The year of 2016 has had the theme of Mercury being retrograde in earth signs (Mercury retrograde in Aquarius and Capricorn in January;  Mercury retrograde in Taurus in April and May),  a sequence of retrogrades that has called for us to reorient to the surrounding material world and the way we create meaning out of our senses.  Our relationship with finances and the flow of resources in our life has also been highlighted by Mercury being  retrograde in earth signs this year, and will again be significant with the God of Commerce being in its home of Virgo.  Since Mercury stations retrograde in sync with a Solar Eclipse in Virgo, and a Lunar Eclipse in Pisces follows, this retrograde in Virgo promises to be most pivotal in terms of adjusting our resources and livelihood in connection with the momentous changes of the current year.

Another theme of the three Mercury retrogrades so far this year is that each of them has had significant aspects with Mars, Jupiter, and Pluto, resulting in cathartic change in our vision of life and the manner in which we use our will-force to manifest fulfillment.  As a result of the surrounding astrological climate, Mercury’s retrograde in Virgo will bring increased emphasis to reorienting personal beliefs, opening awareness more acutely to how perception and knowledge are bound to one’s own sense of culture and existence.  Mercury retrograde in Virgo can be used to uncover how one’s beliefs have to do with whatever one is used to or not used to experiencing.  While Mercury is retrograde in Virgo situations will present themselves in a way that facilitates rearranging or releasing old conceptual thought patterns rooted in belief systems Mercury will be able to loosen.

The pull of Mercury retrograde within to know thyself on deeper levels is amplified by the inner focus of Virgo.  Since Mars and Saturn both signify separation, the beginning of the retrograde involves dealing with whatever difficult losses or challenges have come into our life in correspondence with Mars and Saturn aligning at the Heart of the Scorpion (the fixed star Antares).  Mercury stationing retrograde while surrounded by Jupiter and Venus points toward healing oneself from the vast well within, eventually coalescing what has been fragmented to return to a sense of wholeness.  The Virgo retrograde of Mercury can open newfound self knowledge from within that catalyzes defiant strength in overcoming adversity and going beyond previous limitations.

René-Magritte-The-Castle-of-the-Pyrenees-1959-The-Israel-Museum

Rene’ Magritte (1959) The Castle of the Pyrenees

Swing of the scythe
illuminated, displaced
into my book of hours, the falling
grass, gold leafed
on the uneven
left upper windowpane-

But way up on the hill
the drift of field-air around you,
the scythe singing,
and what birds you may hear.

— Denise Levertov, Down Here and up There

The final last quarter square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces  that has dominated the astrological atmosphere in the past year is a core aspect of Mercury being retrograde in Virgo.  Additionally, the overarching influence that Mars has possessed in 2016 is also mediated by Mercury, as its Virgo retrograde begins with Mars having finally moved beyond the shadow zone of the red planet’s retrograde, and finally having activated its new phase with Saturn and its last quarter square phase with Neptune.  Making these themes of Mars, Saturn, and Neptune even more extreme is that Mars and Saturn are in square to the transiting lunar nodes, Neptune is conjoining the transiting South Node of the Moon, and at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde there is a dramatic Solar Eclipse that is opposite Neptune, square to Saturn and Mars, and conjunct the transiting North Node of the Moon.  Since the Mercury retrograde begins with a Solar Eclipse, there is a deeply mysterious element to the underworld journey Hermes will guide us through that will defy full understanding until a later time of reflection.

In part the square between Saturn and Neptune is about the boundaries and structures in every dimension of life.  While Saturn and Neptune in square can reveal ironic insight and the underlying meaning in the bones of any matter, with Mercury retrograde in Virgo we will also sense how the very idea of being able to penetrate with analysis to core understanding and rationally solve all problems through ordering is a fantasy in itself.  Neptune signifies an immaterial dimension that goes beyond intellectual understanding, and so Mercury in its retrograde role will play the part of Socrates, revealing the ignorance of mental frameworks in order to initiate deeper searches for how to live a life of genuine happiness.  At the same time, the limitations and boundaries of Saturn are necessary to effectively integrate Neptune in a manner that keeps one grounded.  The Virgo retrograde of Mercury in tandem with Mars in Sagittarius can focus awareness on the details needed to keep ourselves healthy and operating at an optimal level of energy in our environment.

The sign of Virgo forms a superior square to Sagittarius, a concept that points to the purification of Virgo taking precedence during the retrograde over the hardened, heavy realities of Mars and Saturn in Sagittarius.  The tension between Mars, Saturn, and Neptune at the beginning of Mercury’s retrograde reveal us to be at the tentative beginning of a new cycle, with an old cycle that has already culminated being in its last remnants of disintegration. There has also been a Mars catalyst of activating serious determination to set targets for long range goals.  As a result, Mercury retrograde in Virgo can aid us in purifying the past through weaving elements of what has been lost together with the opening for the unknown future they have created.  Mercury in its underworld journey can guide us to places that will recover and repair wounds of the past cycle, refortifying our capacity to fully embody the present moment.

Chagall the-deer-looking-itself-in-the-water

The Deer Looking Itself in the Water by Marc Chagall

Under the harvest sun the heart
ripens on its wall;
under the heat of noon the mind
like a leaf is cool.
The angelus and the goat bell
sway across the grass;
butterflies in blue mid-air
touch and spin apart.
Any attempted dream must fall
to ruin in this light, must pass
before the mocking glance
of idle animals.
There is no need to escape
from the motionless mountain
there is no need to escape
when here the indifferent lake
accepts a nervous image,
demands no affirmation
of innocence or faith.

— Denise Levertov, Sarnen

Mercury in the Heart

When Mercury is retrograde it is passing in between the orbits of Earth and the Sun, which is what creates the illusion that it is moving backward through the zodiac from our perspective on Earth.  As a result, when Mercury retrograde conjoins the Sun during its retrograde it is in alignment with our planet as close at it ever gets.  This is the Inferior Conjunction of Mercury when Mercury is said to be cazimi, at the heart of the Sun.  This window of time in which Mercury passes within a degree of the Sun (some say it is really within 17 minutes of the Sun) is a magical moment in the synodic cycle of Mercury in which all of its significations are strengthened by the Solar Light.  It is a rebirth of the Mercury archetype in our life, as Mercury has been undergoing a purifying regeneration in the beams of the Sun while approaching the conjunction.   Mercury enters the heart of the Sun on September 12 while also being square to Mars in Sagittarius.  It comes two days after the final exact square between Saturn and Neptune and so has a lot to do with the aftermath of their upheaval.

Though the square between Mars in Sagittarius and the Mercury-Sun union is most exact, it is also significant considering the Saturn-Neptune influence that Chiron in Pisces is in range of a square to Mars and an opposition to Mercury cazimi.  Chiron functions as a bridge between the realm of Saturn and the realm of Neptune that stretches far beyond the rings of Saturn.  As a result of its retrograde movement, Mercury will also end up passing back and forth across an opposition with Chiron three different times.  Chiron’s influence fosters the purification of Virgo and the healing of wounds that can ultimately lead one to embody a higher frequency in which heavy accumulations of the psyche have been burned off.

However, with Mars forming an exact square to Mercury’s union with the Sun it means that there will be a lot of intensity, if not external conflict than internal conflict to face in any rebirth process.  Mercury at the heart of the Sun in this retrograde cycle is incredibly active and martial in force, capable of propelling oneself dramatically forward.  If instead the Mars influence on Mercury’s Inferior Conjunction leads to more of a wounding crash, than the remaining Mercury retrograde period can be utilized to begin readjusting and reorienting as needed.

MercuryCazimiVirgoWRIGC2

Vasily Kafanov mystery of fishtower

Vasily Kafanov (1998) Mystery of the Fishtower

When the white fog burns off,
the abyss of everlasting light
is revealed. The last cobwebs
of fog in the
black firtrees are flakes
of white ash in the world’s hearth.

Cold of the sea is counterpart
to this great fire. Plunging
out of the burning cold of ocean
we enter an ocean of intense
noon. Sacred salt
sparkles on our bodies.

After mist has wrapped us again
in fine wool, may the taste of salt
recall to us the great depths about us.

–Denise Levertov, The Depths

Four days after Mercury unites with the Sun, a Lunar Eclipse in Pisces will illuminate the heart of the Mercury retrograde cycle.  Once again Mars in Sagittarius holds extraordinary influence, as it forms a close square to the Lunar Eclipse.  Chiron is also highlighted once again as it will conjoin the Lunar Eclipse, echoing the extremely powerful Total Solar Eclipse in March 2016 that was also conjoining Chiron.  Mercury retrograde at this point will be moving toward a trine to Pluto and away from its square to Mars.  The Pisces Lunar Eclipse lights up the full polarity of the sign of Virgo with martial ferociousness.  In collective events, it is an ominous configuration in terms of increased violence coming from crusaders, martyrs, terrorists, and persecutors fixated on dogmatic belief systems.  The shadow side of Virgo that can involve responding to chaotic change through overexerting control or obsessing over perfectionistic ideals could come out if we are not careful.  If we can enter the flow of this eclipse, we can instead let go of control and enter the pure space of whatever the moment is asking from us.

Sekhmet temple bw

Fascinatingly, the Sekhmet archetype will be involved in this section of Mercury’s underworld journey as the Sekhmet asteroid #5381 will be conjunct both the Virgo Sun at the time of the Lunar Eclipse (at 24º Virgo) as well as conjunct Mercury’s Inferior Conjunction (at 23º Virgo).  Though some may scoff at the significance of an obscure asteroid placement in this overall astrological arrangement, I had been feeling a strong intuition connected with Sekhmet which is what led me to notice its alignment with the Mercury retrograde.  Sekhmet is an ancient lion headed goddess, primordial and fierce, whose fiery rage brings purification.  Sekhmet, Great One of Magic, Lady of Transformations, At Whose Wish the Arts were Born, Self-Contained, Opener of Ways, Satisfier of Desires, Destroyer by Fire, Devouring One, The One Who Holds Back Darkness, Lady of the Waters of Life, Great One of Healing . . . her epithets are multitudinous, her nature impossible to fully encompass in language.

Sekhmet’s presence during Mercury retrograde makes the virginal maiden of Virgo a lion headed goddess on the prowl through the desert landscapes of our dreams and inner psychic life, destroying old, obsolete, and decaying attachments with her ferocious form.  Since Mars the red planet is so emphasized at this point of the Mercury retrograde, and in fact Mars forms a square to the Sekhmet asteroid at this time, it is further compelling that red is a sacred color to Sekhmet just as red is the shade the Moon turns during a Lunar Eclipse.  Sekhmet has a message that any anger that arises in association with Mars in Sagittarius during the Mercury retrograde can be utilized to purify and burn off whatever needs to be let go and released.

Frida Roots II

Frida Kahlo (1943) Roots

The gleam of thy drenched
floors of leaf-layers! Fragrance
of death and change!
If there is only
now to live, I’ll live
the hour till doom stroke
crouched with the russet toad,
my huge human size
no more account than a bough fallen:

not upward,
searching for branch-hidden sky:
I’ll look
down into paradise.

Thy moss gardens, the deep
constellations of green, the striate
rock furred with emerald,
inscribed with gold lichen,
with scarlet!
Thy smooth
acorns in roughsurfaced
precise cups!
Thy black
horns of plenty!

–Denise Levertov: Forest Altar, September

Equinox Stationing

Mercury will station direct at the time of the Autumn Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, the Spring Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere.  Mercury also stations in range of some powerful aspects:  a trine to Pluto in Capricorn, a square to Saturn in Sagittarius, an opposition to Neptune in Pisces, and a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon.  However, the most exact and catalytic aspect formed by Mercury as it stations is a square with the Moon, as the Moon will be in Gemini creating a Mutable Grand Cross between the Moon, Mercury, Saturn, Neptune, and the lunar nodes.  Mercury will be receiving the Moon as a result, and so this moment of Mercury stationing direct portends a bigger shift in mental framework than is typically the case when Mercury stations direct.  The aspects surrounding Mercury stationing direct in Virgo suggest it is a significant moment of mediation not only for the past Mercury retrograde cycle, but for the events of the entire year so far.

As Mercury stations direct, it shifts from being invisible to once again making an appearance during the fiery rise of the Sun as a Morning Star, a condition that to Hellenistic astrologers signified a transmission of an oracular message.  It is beautiful symbolism that Mercury stations direct at the time of the Equinox, a time of rebalancing between night and day, a season in the Northern Hemisphere in which cool dry winds begin to blow as green leaves shift to shades of auburn and gold.   My personal view of astrology is that all Mercury retrograde phases signify vital regeneration, however, this particular Mercury retrograde in Virgo appears to signify cathartic rebirth that goes beyond the norm for Mercury retrograde.  It may not feel easy at times, but as John Lennon sang “Living is easy with eyes closed / misunderstanding all you see.”  As the Sun enters the sign of the Scales as Mercury begins to move forward again as a Morning Star, our mind will recalibrate to focus with revivified heart on the desires that will bring us greater happiness and fulfillment in the season ahead.

MercuryStationDirectWRIGC1C

References

Kerenyi, Karl. (1976). Hermes: Guide of Souls. Spring.

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

Advertisements

Capricorn Full Moon

Edward Steichen-primary-sunflower

The Sunflower (1920) by Edward Steichen

Full Moon in Capricorn

The Full Moon on July 19 being in Capricorn binds the lunation with Saturn.  Saturn rewards those who take responsibility for everything occurring and honors those who are accountable.  Saturn calls us to put in work and persevere through dark times, knowing that the suffering of today will become the soil from which future fulfillment will flower.  As current events have been unraveling in chaotic waves since the Cancer New Moon on July 4, it is worth paying attention to how the current lunation cycle is intimately bound with the first quarter square between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries.  While the New Moon on July 4 was opposite Pluto, the Full Moon on July 19 is in square to Uranus.  In between the longstanding issue in the USA of police officers killing African Americans exploded with the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile, followed by the killing of law enforcement officers and heated debate.  As the Moon continued to wax brighter as the Sun approached a square with Uranus, the traumatic terror of Nice, France was followed swiftly by an attempted coup in Turkey, a land that for ages has stood at the intersection of crusading conflicts among world powers.  With collective events spinning so wildly out of control, the Full Moon in Capricorn is a call to claim full responsibility for your own thought forms and your every action that impacts the world. On a personal level, issues have arisen to face that stem from the sweeping changes that came with the square between Uranus and Pluto that was most exact between 2011 and 2015.

The square between Uranus and the Full Moon illuminates not only the grief and pain felt over the losses and tragedies of the past,  but where in one’s life greater diligence is needed to build support to foster stability and security for oneself and others.  Many will become mobilized to organize direct action to increase awareness of personal and collective causes,  whereas others will find it necessary to attend to more personal wounds that need mending before worldly action can be taken successfully.  With Mars in Scorpio slowly beginning to generate forward momentum and also strongly aspected by the Full Moon, taking small steps that are saturated in mindful intent is favored more so than launching quickly into big plans that are truly in need of further refinement.  When dealing with heavy feelings or grief, like Psyche in her story of Eros all we can do is embrace the soul of our surroundings for sustenance and move forward on our journey step by step with full presence.  By claiming the inner integrity of acting from authentic desires that are not being corrupted by external influences, we begin to build support while also discovering elements of our environment that will bolster strength.

With numerous collective issues reaching a critical boiling point, there is a need for open communication and listening to other perspectives.  Yet the element missing from the Capricorn Full Moon is the Air element (with nothing significant in Air signs except Vesta and the true, oscillating position of Black Moon Lilith), and so the Full Moon does not foster mediation through objectifying issues or using clear communication to increase awareness.  There will be a flooding of emotions and heat from enflamed passions, but this Full Moon supports earthy solutions that come from self-absorbed perspectives.  Steam will be rising from the interplay of so much Fire and Water, and so there is potential for compassionately feeling the emotions and experiences of others to gain understanding.  Extra effort will need to be made at this Full Moon for greater clarity in communicating and listening.  The Full Moon being in the home of Saturn while in square to Uranus is a catalyst for moving beyond personal hangups to taking responsibility for one’s place within the global collective.  This includes the places we hold privileges as well as the places we face oppression and the way we respond.  It is also imperative to vigilantly witness attempts by those entrenched in power to take advantage of chaotic events to further increase their own interests out of greed.

klee temple of thither

Paul Klee (1922) Mural from the Temple of Longing

Saturn retrograde in Sagittarius rules the Full Moon while being in square to both the transiting lunar nodes as well as Neptune in Pisces.  In fact, the Full Moon is fairly close to the midpoint between the Saturn and Neptune square.  The slow retrograde pull of Saturn brings gravity to the act of fully being responsible for one’s personal karma and past actions.  Saturn demands this accountability in order to create healthy relationships in the present and to be able to effectively impact the collective.  This is not a time to escape into privileged isolation, but to find the areas of the world in which you can take direct action to help others.  Yet,  we must at the same time attend to our own needs while using the boundaries of Saturn to seal one’s inner vessel from toxic contamination.  Not easy work, but Saturn in square to Neptune and the lunar nodes has nothing to do with ease.

The Full Moon occurs in Capricorn at the same degree that Mars is exalted, and Mars in Scorpio also forms a sextile with the Full Moon.  In addition, Mars in Scorpio is in a Grand Water Trine with Chiron in Pisces and the Sun in Cancer.  While Mars has at least finally gotten beyond the degree it stationed direct at, it is still moving very slowly on its destined path of aligning again with Saturn and the fixed star Antares in August.  The exaltation of Mars in Capricorn, binding the force of Mars with the discipline of Saturn, is the magical access point to these aspects.  Mars in Scorpio is dredging up deep cathartic material that can be so overwhelmingly painful that those out of balance can become overcome by hateful anger and violence.  To make use of these powerful aspects surrounding Mars, there is a need to accept the pain of loss and transmute the voracious emotions through tears and sweat, through appropriate outlets such as exercise and creative action.  There is so much Fire and Water interacting in this Full Moon that healing can come from going into feelings intensely in order to release them into transfigured form, similar to the alchemical steam that arises from water catalyzed by fire into air.

Rodin Sphinx

Figure of a Woman “The Sphinx” by Auguste Rodin

Fittingly, Venus is the glamorous star of the Full Moon, deftly supported by her co-star Mercury in order to amplify her dramatic and comedic effect.  Those looking for a positive omen need only gaze at the western horizon during twilight, as both Venus and Mercury have finally emerged as Evening Stars.  We have not been able to see Venus since April when she was a Morning Star, and we have not been able to see her as an Evening Star since last August 2015 when Venus was retrograde in Leo.  Venus in Leo conjoining Mercury in Leo as they have emerged from under the beams of the Sun together is a burning symbol of hope for living from deeper levels of embodied passion.

Mercury is separating from a trine with Saturn at the time of the Full Moon, while Venus is applying closely to a trine with Saturn.  On the one hand, the fire from Venus and Mercury could be used for greed and avarice by those consumed with their own narcissistic self-interest.  On the other hand, the radiance of Venus and Mercury beautifying twilight is an apt symbol for the potential available to replenish our personal system and structures with more creativity, harmony, joy, and pleasure.  The trine from Venus and Mercury to Saturn is a powerful aspect for making strong commitments.  There is also a quincunx formed between Venus and Mercury with the Neptune conjunction to the South Node of the Moon in Pisces, suggesting old illusions and beliefs could be getting in the way of opening to the creative actualization of Mercury and Venus joined together in Leo.  Being alone in solitude out of romantic partnership is not something to curse for missing out on enjoying this aspect with a lover, but instead a situation to seize for the individuating flowering that becomes available when out of relationship in a place to know oneself more deeply.

pents04

4 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

Capricorn 3 Dean

The third face of Capricorn is associated with the Four of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  In the image we see a crowned figure seated on a throne that places him above two Pentacles placed under each of his feet, as well as below a Pentacle placed on top of his crown.  The fourth Pentacle is cradled at heart level, with the arms wrapped around the Pentacle in a manner suggesting the potential to spin the Pentacle like a Wheel of Fortune.  While this could be interpreted as being in flow with abundance, the Pentacle also appears to be tightly gripped suggesting an attitude of needing to control or be possessive of material resources.  The figure towers in the foreground, overshadowing castles and towers in the background, suggesting someone in charge of their surroundings, perhaps at the expense of being a co-participant who is fully aware of their environment outside of how it impacts their goals.  The Four of Pentacles signifies taking control and structuring boundaries so as to bring a sense of greater security within the chaotic world, including gaining greater material security.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Throne” to the third face of Capricorn, a fitting image given that the Sun rules the decan.  Coppock interpreted this face of Capricorn as being about governing and administering from a seat of power, “the struggle for control between an individual and their world” and “the struggle to attain great position in the created world” (p. 221-222).  Coppock cautioned that hubris can tempt those grasping for power in this face, and that each step toward achieving ambition requires tantamount levels of responsibility to meet the obligations found in the acquired position of power.  If not, Coppock warned that their accumulated material wealth “may end up crushing them,” and the glittering palace could become instead a restrictive prison.

Since the Sun rules the third decan of Capricorn, there is added emphasis to the square between the Sun and Uranus as well as the trine between the Sun, Mars, and Chiron.   While Venus and Mercury are already united in the home of the Sun, in the days following the Full Moon the Sun will join Venus and Mercury in Leo.  As a result, in the waning phase of this lunar cycle the astrological atmosphere will shift toward an emphasis on Fire and spirited action and expression, as Mars completes its final pass through the tumultuous waters of Scorpio.  There is no doubt that the numerous conflicts and crises circulating in the collective will continue to intensify, yet in the sphere one invests their inner energy into with responsible, dedicated effort there will be greater astrological support to bring matters into manifestation.

We play with dark forces that cannot be captured with the names we give them, like children playing with fire, and it seems for a moment as if all energy had rested dormant in all objects until now, until we arrived to apply it to our fleeting life and its requirements.  But, again and again throughout millennia, those forces shake off their names and rise like an oppressed class against their little masters, or not even against them- they simply rise and the various cultures slide off the shoulders of the earth, which is once again great and expansive and alone with its oceans, trees, and stars.

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters on Life translated by Ulrich Baer

 

References

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

 

Venus & Mercury Retrograde in Taurus

Venus receives Mercury Retrograde

Venus conjoins Mercury Retrograde in her own home of Taurus this Friday, May 13.  Venus unifies, harmonizes, brings us pleasure, and in the earthy, body-centered lair of Taurus, she wants to delight our bodily forms and the deepest recesses of our sensory, sensual natures.  Mercury in astrology can destabilize, contest, and create volatility in contrast to the unifying nature of Venus, yet Mercury is also the connective mediator between the world animating spirit and our bodily, material realm.  With Mercury retrograde in Taurus, with Mercury recently having passed through a purifying conjunction with the Sun while conjoining its own heliocentric South Node, Mercury is pulling us deeply within our senses to the inner source of our thoughts and discernment.  If you are lucky enough to be in love in this moment, it is an ideal transit of pure pleasure.  If you are alone or dissatisfied in relationship, this is an ideal time for Self nurturance and getting in touch with your deepest feelings and needs in relationship.  By embracing being alone and out of relationship at this time, the inner process that is supported by this transit will help magnetize a deeply resonant relationship that aligns with the uncovered inner values and needs when the time is right.

This lovely transit of Mercury retrograde uniting with Venus in Taurus is embellished by it being in an exact trine with Pluto in Capricorn, and also in range of a trine to Jupiter and the North Node of the Moon in Virgo.  Mercury during its retrograde plays the role of the Herald to Hades, and so aligned with Venus will help release resistance to whatever cathartic changes Pluto in Capricorn has been calling for in our life that we have not yet answered with full presence.  In the next few days there is a lovely opportunity to accept the underlying changes in our life that in the past has created stress, worry, and grief, and instead allow ourselves to be present and open to what has been created for us in this moment out of the destruction.

remedios varo and husband

Remedios Varo

These lovely aspects surrounding Mercury uniting with Venus in her home are happening as the Moon waxes in light, en route to an electrifyingly dynamic Full Moon next week that is aligned with the heart of the current Mars Retrograde.  Furthermore, all of this is happening within the tightening of the tension involving Saturn in Sagittarius in square to the opposition between Jupiter in Virgo and Neptune in Pisces.  With Mercury moving slowly backward in its retrograde, it will be lingering longer than normal in its embrace of Venus, and lucky Hermes is getting to enjoy the experience in the home of Venus.  Although many elements of our lives may feel scary with the degree of changes signified by the surrounding astrological transits, the commingling of Venus and Mercury now can facilitate inner access to the authentic change and growth occurring for you, rather than the collective fears of change circulating in the atmosphere now.

The ideal situation, as far as we can see, is when the ego, with a certain plasticity, obeys the central regulation of the psyche. But when it hardens and becomes autonomous, acting according to its own reasons, then there is often a neurotic constellation.  This happens not only to individuals, but also collectively, which is why we speak of collective neuroses and psychoses.  Whole groups of mankind can drift into that split situation and deviate from their basic instinctual patterns, and then disaster is close.  That is why in hero stories there is nearly always an exposition of a terrible situation . . . Whatever this terrible story is, the hero has the task of putting it right . . .

The hero, therefore, is the restorer of a healthy, conscious situation. He is the one ego that restores us to healthy, normal functioning in a situation in which all the egos of that tribe or nation are deviating from their instinctive, basic totality pattern.  It can therefore be said that the hero is an archetypal figure which presents a model of an ego functioning in accord with the Self.

—  Marie-Louise von Franz

References

von Franz, Marie-Louise. (1996). The Interpretation of Fairy Tales. Revised edition. Shambhala.

film clip from the film Alphaville: une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965) written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard.

Cancer Full Moon

826px-Luna_und_ihre_Kinder_-_detail_of_lunar

Luna und ihre Kinder (Detail: Lunar mit Schimmel), Mittelalterliches Hausbuch von Schloss Wolfegg, circa 1480

To feel.  To feel deeply. To feel into the moment wholly, opening fully, being present through unclenching and unclasping without distraction, without our habits of dissociation and ingrained emotional reactions. To unlock our essence in defiance of the surrounding consensus values, beyond the inner conditioning we have clung to from childhood and pivotal peaks like the first breaking of our heart.  We enter 2015 with a full on lunation befitting the goddess Luna we associate with the lunar sign of Cancer,  whole in Her many faces of darkness and light.  Just like a Cancer adrift in remembrances of time past, this Full Moon beckons us to take a glance back at the ruptures from 2014 dissolving in our wake as we turn to face the mystery of our unknown future arriving in our present moment.

Indeed, the Cancer Moon of January 4/5, 2015  is a full polarity of light that triggers the dominant astrology themes of 2014, including the Cardinal Grand Cross and the Pluto and Uranus square.  Squarely impacting fifteen degrees of the Cardinal signs, this Cancer Full Moon falls in the same area of the zodiac lit up by the Cardinal Grand Square of April 2014.  Furthermore, Pluto and Uranus remain in square with Uranus close to the South Node of the Moon in Aries, and the Sun conjunct Pluto in Capricorn and in square to the South Node as well as the North Node of the Moon in Libra.  This means that this Full Moon not only sets off the Pluto and Uranus square, it also triggers the relational lunar node theme of 2014 in Libra and Aries.  Along these lines, this Full Moon is also an important stepping stone from the Lunar Eclipse in Aries that occurred on October 8, 2014 at sixteen degrees, as this Cancer Full Moon squares that past Lunar Eclipse.  Thus Luna is weaving a thread that connects fading hues from 2012 when the Pluto and Uranus series of squares commenced with what we felt bursting from within during the initiating transits of April and October 2014 that dislodged our primal material in need of liberation.

CancerFullMoonWRIGC3

If our feelings are messy, emotions overflowing in crisis, passions held at bay due to our desire out of reach, we can remember this is what it means to be human.  Since consensus culture is increasingly technological and linked via computerized networks, it can seem sometimes that humans have become instruments of a machine and often times more attached to their mobile screen than the people surrounding them. Of course, our emotional beings are not logical and no upgrade exists to make our feelings more efficiently operational, and this is precisely our great human gift.  The year 2014 had numerous astrological transits capable of liberating us from stuck patterns, and the degree to which we either took action or allowed ourselves to surrender to the changes calling us from within reveals how we will be impacted by this Full Moon in Cancer.  If we have been resisting change or realizing in the light of this lunation that we have been attempting to force something to happen that is not meant to be, this Full Moon can be a point to set a new intention going forward and change course.  If we enter this Full Moon already adjusting to how we have been dramatically altering our life structure, we are in a place to receive important insight into how we can deepen further into a more authentic life.

Similarly, our current state of consciousness will color how we experience the dramatic opposition between Mars in Aquarius and Jupiter retrograde in Leo that ushered in 2015.  To me, the great potential of this aspect is an intuitive grasp of not only our personal truth but a clearer sense of what action we need to take in line with our truth, a visionary light blazing a trail in front of us with the desire we need to complete the journey.  There is great global trauma, oppression, violence, and plutocratic control surrounding us, but while earlier watching a Harry Potter movie with my daughters I was reminded of how like the Expecto Patronum spell, we each have a unique brilliance to send out into the world, a pure light from the center of our heart that can dissolve the toxins of our environment attempting to dissipate our energy.  As Jupiter retrograde is also conjunct a Juno that is retrograde in Leo, our love will be a procreative force in this process and our relationships a vital vessel for growth.

Saturn’s ingress into Sagittarius can already be witnessed in accordance to numerous current events, and this Full Moon holds a significant aspect between Saturn, Neptune in Pisces, and Black Moon Lilith in Virgo that is yet another sharp aspect demanding adaption.  The square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces is only at it’s beginning stages now, and we will be working with the issues emerging in correspondence during the entire year.  Black Moon Lilith in Virgo forming a t-square with Saturn and Neptune here means we will strongly feel how much our essential self and desires line up with our current reality.  If we feel imbalance, we may feel this so strongly it may feel more than we can bear, and yet this feeling is the fuel we need to draw on to make our life structures line up with our inner truth.  Pallas Athena in Sagittarius being conjunct Saturn at this time is a powerful ally to aid us in perceiving how we can creatively actualize in order to manifest the aspects of our vision that line up with natural law in the face of unjust human created law.  If we can sidestep the shadow side of falling victim to dogmatic ideology or ideals we talk about being utopian but in actuality are about our own self-interest, then with discipline, concentration, and focus we can take concrete steps to shift structures.

cups03

3 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

This Full Moon falls in the second face of Cancer, a decan ruled by Mercury and associated with the Three of Cups in tarot.  The Three of Cups is collaborative and about creating goals that have a common purpose, nurture our inner passion and creativity, and connect us to community for support when facing difficulty.  For those who want to work on activating constructive change in their community, this Full Moon is also a reminder that to be an effective activist requires that you are engaged in a process of working on your own personal issues before putting your energy into others.  The personal issues we need to address are now revealed by the Sun conjunct Pluto and in square to the lunar nodes:  look to the houses and aspects in your birth chart impacted by the Sun and Pluto in Capricorn, Uranus and the South Node of the Moon in Aries, the North Node of the Moon in Libra, and the Full Moon in Cancer.

Austin Coppock in 36 Faces described the second decan of Cancer as an alembic incubation, requiring an assertion of protective action to nurture soul development in the tumult of tribulation.  Coppock linked the images of abundant joy associated with the Three of Cups as in the picture above by Pamela Colman Smith with the importance of difficult challenges as they force us to protect what is dear to our hearts and cultivate strength in what brings us joy.  As Mercury is the ruler of this decan, it is fitting in this way that Mercury is conjunct Venus in Aquarius and in sextile to Saturn in Sagittarius at this Full Moon, as these aspects to Mercury in transit increase our capacity to de-condition from repressive influences and to re-structure inspired by liberating influences.

Mercury and Venus are both Evening Stars now visible together during twilight.  Mercury in its Evening Star phase lends us a more deliberate thought process able to reflect and integrate information coming our way, assimilating a message within the context of a long-range perspective.  With this Full Moon, Mercury also prepares to enter it’s retrograde shadow zone, foreshadowing the issues we will face during the Mercury retrograde that will occur from January 21 until February 11, 2015.  Following a New Moon in Aquarius on January 20, Mercury will station retrograde at 18° Aquarius on January 21 and move back to station direct on February 11 at 2° Aquarius. It also means that since Mercury begins to slow down as it approaches its stationing, that Mercury and Venus will remain conjunct over the entire course of the upcoming waning cycle of the Moon- when Mercury stations retrograde at eighteen degrees of Aquarius, Venus will be at twenty-two degrees of Aquarius.  In Aquarius, Mercury and Venus give us an enhanced ability to reach self-knowledge through a more objective and detached perspective that can uproot the causes underlying our current issues.  If there are sources of agitation arising in our life around this Full Moon period, we can celebrate the appearance of Mercury and Venus together in Aquarius as an opportunity for a distillation that can free a sense of individuality within our cultural context.  Mercury, Venus, and Mars all in Aquarius now bring the opportunity to share the unique purpose we realize we possess with our wider community.

References

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

Maat in the Heart of Mercury

Maat

Maat

The Inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun on October 16, 2014 is in the sign of Libra and conjunct Venus, evoking Maat through the added atmosphere of the Goddess (Venus) and the Scales (Libra) of Balance, Law, and Justice.  In Egyptian mythology, the god Thoth is associated with Mercury, and Maat is the goddess corresponding to Thoth, the beloved daughter of the sun god Ra who undertook the work of creation along with Thoth.  There were only two deities who stood on either side of the boat of Ra:  Thoth and Maat, and Maat’s presence was intrinsic to the daily regeneration of Ra, the Sun.  Maat wore an ostrich feather in her hair, the feather a symbol of “maat,” an ineffable word that had associations with genuineness, authenticity, truth, and being “real.”  This being a time of Mercury retrograde, and Mercury being the trickster transgressor of boundaries, we also want to be aware of how the additional link between Maat and concepts like righteousness and unalterable morality can trick us at times into thinking that we are in the right, when in actuality we have not deeply explored ourselves to the necessary extent to truly understand our truth.

The inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun is a magic moment of soul, and the center of the Mercury retrograde cycle we are experiencing from Scorpio to Libra and back to Scorpio again.  This “inferior” conjunction of Mercury is like an “interior” alignment of Mercury with the Sun from our perspective on Earth, as Mercury appears to move in reverse into the Sun in between our orbit and the great light of our solar system. This is a moment in which Hermes transmits a message from Spirit to us, as Mercury’s orbit is much closer to the Sun than our orbit on Earth.  We can center at this time as we release old thought patterns, making space for the arising new vision of our life.  This can be a disorienting time, so the symbol of Mercury being in Libra at this time is an apt guide, as we will want to find our focal point of balance in the flow around us.  This is a point of conception to generate what we will birth from our minds in the forthcoming cycle, and we want to keep in mind that Mercury at this point in its retrograde cycle is inwardly directed and more subjectively susceptible to sensing the symbols surrounding us than at other times.  As Venus in Libra and Mercury in Libra are moving toward one another, only a couple degrees apart at the time of the inferior conjunction, reaching their own conjunction a day later, this is also an opportune time to center within our authentic values, releasing what is false in order to embrace our burgeoning truth.

Maat was involved in the judgment of souls, the weighing of hearts at the time of death, as the hearts of the dead were placed on a scale to be balanced with the feather of Maat.  The goal was to have Maat in your heart, to balance the scales and reveal that your voice was true, genuine, and justified.  Now is the time to go within our unconscious, our dream time, our place of centering, so that we can re-emerge into the bustling world from a more authentic place, acting from and speaking our truth.

4 of Swords

IV of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

The inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun will be in the Libra III decan, a decan associated with the 4 of Swords in tarot.  In the image above created by Pamela Colman Smith for the A.E. Waite deck, we can see what looks to be a tomb with a statue of a knight in prayer, under a stained glass window of “PAX” or “peace.”  This image also evokes a pilgrim in meditative silence within a protected, sacred space, and likewise it can help us find our own balance at this time if we can manage to create our own space, or journey somewhere we can find solace in silence.  Since we are in a time of Mercury retrograde, we also can integrate the duality within this image, the concept of peace that necessitates the concept of conflict, the pilgrim/knight in prayer surrounded by swords.  Within the balance of these dualities, we can sense how his positioning is like a re-balancing of the chakras and re-integration of our body and mind, and the sword below him is a tool to be used to cut away the false and inessential in order to reveal our essential and genuine presence that can emerge now.  It also connects to the judgment of Maat at our time of death, the weighing of our heart to reveal if we lived a life in accordance with our soul or not.

In 36 Faces Austin Coppock described Libra III as a decan that “allows one to see through the eye of the storm” through equilibration of movement:

Its secret resides in the eye of the storm, calm and clear as the chaos of desire and fear whirl all about . . . The principle of justice or balance is thus applied constantly to a lop-sided world, one interaction at a time.  Those who enact this formula successfully emanate an aura of order and are themselves a walking corrective . . . The power of this face is to equilibrate unbalanced forces as they are encountered, and to maintain connection to the unmoved center.  It offers the formulae by which equipoise may be maintained in any circumstance- shelter in any storm. (p. 168-70)

EGDP002580

Scarab inscribed Daughter of Re, with Winged Maat; 1479 – 1458 BC; Upper Egypt; Dynasty 18, early; Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Hatshepsut; Metropolitan Museum of Art

Lastly, as we remember the connection between Libra and relationships, the Moon in Leo being conjunct Juno in Leo at the time of the inferior conjunction gives added weight to our relationships being a primal source of lessons for us now.  It may be through our intimate relationships as well as our more ephemeral interactions that we come to important realizations that will help us to release old thought forms in preparation for the new.  I am reminded of this passage I admire from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, in which the main character realizes the gap of understanding between him and his wife of over six years:

Is it possible, finally, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?

We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close are we able to come to that person’s essence?  We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?

I started thinking seriously about such things a week after I quit my job at the law firm.  Never until then-  never in the whole course of my life- had I grappled with questions like this.  And why not?  Probably because my hands had been full just living.  I had simply been too busy to think about myself. (p. 24)

No matter how busy we are, this is a time necessitating deep reflection in order to reap the reward of realization available. This does not mean it will be easy- going into the underworld realm never is, but it has always been the mythic figures consumed with great love and desire for their beloved, like Psyche, Isis, Dionysus, Orpheus, and Persephone, who survive and give birth to new vision from a new sense of self.  We can make a sacred oath and contract with ourselves at this time, to clear what needs clearing and to courageously embody our deepest desires. By doing this work within and nurturing our own needs, we will be able to listen with greater clarity to the needs of others.  There may be hard truths to recognize about ourselves, attachments we have clung to for years that must be let go, but in the end our lives and the lives of the people we are in relationship will be richer for our participation in this time of internal transition guided by Mercury.

Thoth as Ibis with Maat feather

Thoth as the ibis with a Maat feather, 4th Century B.C., Hermopolis, Egypt, Metropolitan Museum of Art

References

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

Murakami, Haruki. (1997).  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.  Vintage.

Pinch, Geraldine. (2002). Egyptian Mythology: a guide to the gods, goddesses, and traditions of ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press.

Wallis Budge, E.A. (1960). The Book of the Dead. University Books, Inc.