Planets in Fall on the Liminal Light Podcast

Mythopoetry of Planets in Fall

Planets in Fall arranged in the places of the Thema Mundi

I recently joined Chris Reppucci on his Liminal Light Podcast to discuss planets in fall and how we might think about them and where we might look to find stories that help us in better understanding their condition.

I gave a talk at the NORWAC astrology conference in May 2019 exploring the fall of Venus in Virgo and Mercury in Pisces through the telling of the Psyche and Eros story found in the Hellenistic novel The Golden Ass by Apuleius. Chris was inspired to read The Golden Ass after hearing my lecture and so we spend a good amount of time discussing the novel by Apuleius, as well as Psyche and Eros, mystery traditions, initiatory experiences, magical procedures, the underworld, the celebration of life, the Daimon, fate, and fortune.

I make a lot of references to the placement of planets in fall in the Thema Mundi, the legendary birth chart of the universe which is Cancer rising and has the domicile and exaltation schemes of essential dignity embedded in it. If you are unfamiliar with the concept you can reflect upon the image I have inserted at the top of this post when listening to our discussion, as it shows the planets in fall arranged in accordance with the Thema Mundi.

We didn’t make time to fully explore the Psyche and Eros story in relation to planets in fall during our talk, so if you are interested in hearing my approach to Psyche and Eros in my talk from NORWAC you can purchase it through my store page for $13. I will send you a MP3 recording as well as the slides.

Mercury Retrograde in Pisces

rene magrite fair captive

The Fair Captive by Rene Magritte

Mercury Retrograde in Pisces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some key dates:

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

Rosmerta and Mercury

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

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

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

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

Magritte__Le_Baiser-3

Le Baiser by Rene Magritte

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

— from Take this River  by Henry Dumas

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

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

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

Georgia O'Keefe music - pink and blue

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

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

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

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

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

pegasus and bellerophon

Odilon Redon (1888) Pegasus and Bellerophon

Chthonic Cazimi

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

— Demetra George, Ancient Astrology, Vol 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Astro-Errante-1961 Remedios Varo

Astro Errante by Remedios Varo

Full Moon Equinox

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

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

Magritte_Wonders-of-Nature

Wonders of Nature by Rene Magritte

The Trident and the Caduceus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the black pegasus

Odilon Redon

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Virgo Full Moon: Torch of Regulus

Astraea

Astraea

Full Moon in Virgo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Sea of Time and Space by William Blake

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

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

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

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

darkness

Darkness by Thomas Danaher

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

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

Chiron, Themis and Hebe

Chiron in Aries

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

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

 

Virgo 1 Decan

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Virgo Full Moon: Pisces Wave

Rosette

India (1645) from Metropolitan Museum of Art

Full Moon in Virgo

Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honour bred, with one
Who, were it proved he lies,
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbours’ eyes?
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.

To a Friend whose Work has come to Nothing by W.B. Yeats

The Full Moon in Virgo on March 1 is full of inspirational force, imaginal vision and emotional tidal waves.  The Sun, Neptune, Mercury, Venus, and Chiron are all lined up in Pisces opposite the Moon in Virgo, with the lunation’s intensity deepened by a harmonious aspect with Jupiter in Scorpio and catalyzed with explosive vitality by an amplified Mars in Sagittarius.   Ideally during the period of fully reflected light one can situate themselves in a place of stimulating learning or creativity where the dynamic force of the Full Moon can be transmitted into tactile manifestation or revelatory reception.  The potential conflict from Mars comes from dogmatic ideals and subjective projections within an atmosphere making the dry discernment of Virgo challenging.  Mercury rules the Full Moon as it applies to a union with Venus in Pisces and so we experience the Moon in Virgo under the sway of poetic richness, emotional reception, and the intuitive knowing of feelings within the body.

There is simply something sublime about the Moon in Virgo ripening full in reflection of light cast by the Sun uniting with Neptune in Pisces.  In Virgo we can sense the spirit in our flesh and the soul of the earth around us like nowhere else in the zodiac.  Virgo can both discern and analyze insight from difficult or confusing experiences, as well as weave together meaning into tangible forms of shared understanding.  Attaining calm presence in the moment amidst the tumult of ceaseless change is key to optimize the grounded, pragmatic wisdom available in the sign of the Winged Maiden.  The overflowing Piscean influence on the surrounding time period of the lunation makes it easier than normal to fall into illusory pursuits or projections, yet the combined earthiness of the Virgo Full Moon in harmonious relationship with Saturn in Capricorn brings the potential to make the magic of Pisces real, true, and embodied.

deer mandala of kasuga shrine
Japanese silk scroll (late 14th century)

The Virgo Full Moon is ruled by Mercury in Pisces applying to conjoin Venus and Chiron in Pisces, as well as applying to a stabilizing trine with Jupiter in Scorpio.  Mercury resides in Pisces in polarity to both its home and exaltation in Virgo, yet since it is being received by Jupiter it has the resources of Jupiter fully loaded in its tool kit.  Combine the fact Mercury is simultaneously uniting with Venus in its place of exaltation, and we have a deeply visionary and imaginative Mercury that can grasp understanding of one’s larger emotional environment as well as perceive creative solutions.  Flashes of intuitive, direct knowing may be received and the inward earthiness of the Moon in Virgo can facilitate processing perceptions in order to receive a harvest of important insight.

Most auspiciously, both Mercury and Venus are emerging as Evening Stars at the time of the Full Moon, regaling the twilight with their bright starry presence.  Venus has already been visible at twilight in the week leading into the lunation, but the fullness of the Moon rising is perfect for celebrating the return of Venus glowing bright on the horizon.  We haven’t been able to see Venus since she was in her Morning Star phase last November, and so her longly anticipated return to visibility is an omen of good tidings.  The following hymn “The Lady of the Evening,” adapted from ancient Sumerian text by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer, celebrates the re-emergence of Venus as an evening star:

At the end of the day, the Radiant Star, the Great Light that fills the sky,
The Lady of the Evening appears in the heavens.
The people in all the lands lift their eyes to her.
The men purify themselves; the women cleanse themselves.
The ox in his yoke lows to her.
The sheep stir up the dust in their fold.
All the living creatures of the steppe,
The four-footed creatures of the high steppe,
The lush gardens and orchards, the green reeds and trees,
The fish of the deep and the birds in the heavens-
My Lady makes them all hurry to their sleeping places.

The living creatures and the numerous people of Sumer kneel before her.
Those chosen by the old women prepare great platters of food and drink for her.
The Lady refreshes herself in the land.
There is great joy in Sumer.
The young man makes love with his beloved.

My Lady looks in sweet wonder from heaven.
The people of Sumer parade before the holy Inanna.
Inanna, the Lady of the Evening, is radiant.
I sing your praises, holy Inanna.
The Lady of the Evening is radiant on the horizon.

Fascinatingly, due to Mercury slowing down and then stationing retrograde in Aries on March 22, Venus and Mercury will remain in range of a close conjunction all the way through the waning half of the forthcoming lunar cycle, so that on the following Pisces New Moon on March 17 they will still have only one degree of separation between them in Aries.  This is an unusually long time to live with Venus and Mercury transiting in such close proximity to one another and so brings an opportunity to find greater alignment between inner values and outer expression and communication.  There will be a notable shift on March 6 when both Mercury and Venus will move into Aries, bringing potential to take the inner illumination received from their time together in Pisces into direct, courageous action in the world.

While Venus and Mercury are uniting at the end of Pisces they are also taken into a deeper dimension of perception by their additional conjunction with Chiron in Pisces.  Chiron is a celestial centaur who bridges the divide between Saturn and Uranus, the key holder who brings access to vital subconscious information.  Since Mars in Sagittarius is also approaching a challenging square aspect with Chiron, there is a collective trigger that reflects the gaping, aching wounds of trauma and oppression felt throughout the collective, injuries often brought about through violence and conflict connected to dogmatic paradigms of belief.  During the days following the Full Moon there is potential to journey within to both face and dissolve old wounds that are ready to be dislodged.  However, some wounds may still feel more painful than fully engaged in healing and if this is the case the over abundance of planets in Pisces can allow for a flow of emotive release.

One of the biggest factors in the Virgo Full Moon, however, is Jupiter in Scorpio not only forming a trine to Mercury, Venus and Chiron, but also beginning to station retrograde.  Jupiter in Scorpio will station retrograde a week after the lunation on March 8 and is barely moving at the time of the Full Moon, bringing its archetype into a stronger presence within the collective.  Whenever a planet stations its archetype saturates the landscape, so prepare for lessons involving Jupiter in Scorpio to become abundantly clear.  We have passed through a season of eclipses that formed a square to Jupiter in Scorpio, and so we are primed to receive direct knowing from the accumulation of recent experiences.  Although Jupiter and Mars are not in a major aspect, they are mutually exchanging signs with Jupiter in the home of Mars and Mars in the home of Jupiter.  With regard to the additional interplay between Mars and all of the action in Pisces that Jupiter also rules, Jupiter in Scorpio can help us shed attachments to old illusions of belief and ready us for a new influx of understanding.  Once Jupiter turns retrograde in the first week of March, it will move backwards through our zodiac until stationing direct again on July 10 at 13º20′ of Scorpio.

mount meru mandala
Cosmological mandala with Mount Meru (14th century China)

While Mercury and Venus are separating from a square with Mars in Sagittarius, Mars is applying to a trine with Eris and Uranus in Aries.  When we also factor in Mars being conjoined with the asteroid Vesta at the Full Moon, there is potential to utilize the fiery volatility of Mars in Sagittarius to not only explore exciting frontiers but also utilize the focus necessary to bring something worthwhile back to share with the wider collective.  Aspects between planets are multivalent in expression, and so while there is potential destructive conflict signified by the aspects Mars is making at the Full Moon, this same energy of Mars can correspond with separating yourself from previous limitations or oppressive circumstances and making visionary strides forward.  Mars in Sagittarius is fast moving and curious with ample stores of generosity and optimistic hope available to fuel striving for greater freedom and making real progress toward idealistic pursuits.

In addition to all of the watery and fiery dynamics previously mentioned, there is also a lot of the grounded earth element involved in the Full Moon.  As the Moon waxes full in Virgo it will form a trine with Saturn in Capricorn, and then following its opposition with the Sun the Moon will move toward a trine with Pluto in Capricorn.  When we also consider the placement of the asteroid Pallas Athene in the middle of Taurus, there is a stable earth triangle formed that also involves harmonious sextile aspects between Saturn with the Sun and Neptune in Pisces.  As a result, there is potential to find surrounding structures to stabilize and ground the insight available in correspondence with the lunation into tangible manifestation.  It also highlights the availability of outlets for grounding or compassionate support if the emotional waves of the abundant Pisces influence becomes overwhelming.

pents09
9 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

Virgo 2 Decan

The Full Moon in Virgo arises in the second decan of Virgo associated with the Nine of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The image is resplendent with a golden aura surrounding a Venusian figure, and fittingly Venus is the ruler of the second face of Virgo.  On her hand sits a bird of prey ready to strike out for resources, while ripening grapevines surround her.  This tarot card is traditionally associated with gains in wealth, and Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces analyzed how the hooded falcon (a symbol of spirit enclosed in matter) is a protector of the grapevine resources linked to her wealth since it feeds on the creatures who would damage the growth of the grapes.  Coppock found a theme of continual reshaping and refinement of matter in this decan that unveils the diverse extremes of experiences that unite within the final form of a created work that contains spirit:  “Alchemically, this face provides understanding of the many beautiful and repulsive states the matter attains throughout the Magnum Opus . . . . [and] brings one to inspect material processes and note the efficiency or lack thereof” (p. 146).

Interestingly, the fragmentary Hellenistic text the 36 Airs linked the Moirai to the second face of Virgo.  These are the daughters of Necessity, the goddesses of fate: Clotho the spinner of the threads of life, Lachesis the measurer of fateful threads, and Atropos who cuts the threads.  These goddesses of fate appearing in this decan points to the importance of centering within the actual currents of life so that choices can be discerned that will allow one to navigate with as optimal a flow as possible.  While there is incredible imagination available with the overflow of Pisces influence on the Virgo Full Moon, this visionary capacity needs to be grounded in the truly developing elements of life rather than dissipated through denial of what is actually happening.  Through a combination of grounding while simultaneously opening to the full range of possibilities available in the moment, the Virgo Full Moon can facilitate awareness of new choices freed from the limiting thoughts of the past.

References

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

Wolkstein, Diane and Kramer, Samuel Noah. (1983). Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth.  Harper & Row.

 

Pisces Solar Eclipse 2017

Vasily Kafanov the beginning

Vasily Kafanov (2015) The Beginning

Down by the water the soil is wet with richness.  The currents stream past, the waves inexorably flow in and out.  Water holds us as its dissolving force caresses our skin. The wisdom of ages flows over us, washes off the sweat and stains of daily struggle, cleanses the wounds of past grief and heartbreak.  Water holds the memories of all, the endless repository of the collective unconscious, and the inner knowing of who we are and how we love in this fertile moment.

The Pisces Solar Eclipse arises in alignment with Neptune on 26 February 2017, the final of the series of Pisces and Virgo eclipses we have been experiencing over the course of the past two years.  Both an ending and birth of a potent new beginning, within its watery release we discover both who we were before and who we will become, the memory of our future path circulating through our body in the dissolving second of an instant.

Black Sun from splendor solis

From the Splendor Solis

The eclipses in Pisces and Virgo have been occurring since March of 2015, and so all of the lessons we have learned and integrated, as well as those we may still be struggling with, are embodied in the moist air all around us.  There is a particularly strong mirroring between this Annular Solar Eclipse in Pisces with the Annular Solar Eclipse in Virgo that occurred on 1 September 2016 at the time of the square between Saturn and Neptune. The visions of growth felt deeply within that were not yet manifesting at that time may now be more palpably felt and tangibly taking shape.

Being an annular eclipse, it means the void of its blackness will have a ring of light around it.  Annular eclipses occur as a result of the Moon being far enough away in orbit from the Earth that its shadow does not completely cover the Sun.  Rings bring to mind commitment, honoring intentions with serious dedication and devotion.  The ring of light around the Pisces Solar Eclipse is awakening deep knowing about ourselves we realize with crystal clarity is not only true but requires nurturing responsibility and tending.

One of my favorite interpretations of solar eclipses is by Dane Rudhyar, who said the symbolism of the Moon’s shadow covering the face of the Sun suggests that forces from our past, as well as unconscious influences, veil the present with their fecund darkness. Eclipses can feel like an uncontrollable tidal force taking us into an unknown we do not always feel ready for. In combination with their unworldly visual element when seen, people have feared eclipses for ages, in ancient times portraying them as a great dragon of chaos and creation consuming our Sun and Moon. Yet eclipses do not need to be feared. Dragons are symbols of instinct and chaotic destruction that bring together the spiritually elevated with the chthonic, similar to eclipses in that greater wholeness can be found through the dissolution they bring about.  There is immense purification within this final Pisces Solar Eclipse that liberates us from old hangups and fosters strident vivification.

The Solar Eclipse is conjoining Neptune in the inner home of Jupiter, the place of boundless inner visions and gnosis.  As the Sun is obscured by shadow, Jupiter in Libra will be forming a mysteriously strong bond with the Solar Eclipse through antiscia, even more strongly pulling in the catalytic firepower of the opposition between Mars and Uranus in Aries with Jupiter.  The Solar Eclipse is also connected to the conjunction between Mars and Uranus through contra antiscia while Neptune also remains involved in longer lasting contra antiscia with Uranus.  This means that the opposition between Jupiter with Mars and Uranus as well as the conjunction between the eclipse and Neptune are all tightly woven together in a pulsating field of release.

In collective events the conjunction between Mars and Uranus in Aries opposing Jupiter could lead to greater eruptions of violence and dogmatic diatribes, whether the dogma is rooted in nationalism, religion, or other human constructed belief systems.  In the realm of the personal, this same fiery union of Mars and Uranus can bring about groundbreaking empowerment and self assertion that is not purely selfish but rather also uplifts others through the creative force unleashed.  Mars is powerful and at home in Aries and brings dynamic force to the Pisces Eclipse that will jar loose whatever has become stagnant or restrictive in one’s life.  These signatures call for us to let go of the old illusions that have been keeping us limited through conventional thinking.  From the death and shedding of old restrictions will erupt forth pure vitality that may be expressed through one’s daily actions and choices.

caspar_david_friedrich_rainbow-mountain

Mountain Landscape with Rainbow (1809-10) Caspar David Friedrich

Being the final eclipse to occur with the lunar nodes in Virgo and Pisces, it is worth a deep pondering over the fact that the ruler of the North Node in Virgo, Mercury, is in Pisces and applying to a conjunction with the South Node of the Moon in Pisces.  Under the turmoil of world events, the ridiculous and frightening posturing of world leaders, exists the eternal wisdom of nature and the soulful spirit weaving throughout our material realm.  Though in times of bleakness it may feel as if we have become more separated than ever from the wisdom of our ancient elders who walked in honor of the sacred life found in every aspect of our environment and surrounding universes, our inner knowing remains connected to the very same sources of divine revelation.  Simultaneous with the immature egotism and aggressions of power hungry humans exists others awakening awareness of interconnection and courageously giving to others in need from loving hearts.

Allow old wounds and emotional complexes you have been identifying with to be washed away in the black ocean of the eclipse.  From purification will emerge a burning heart full of passion that can lend intuitive guidance to every decision needing to be made.  Mercury in Pisces is attuned to the nonverbal underlying fabric of emotions and psychic emanations.  Though feelings may be difficult to be placed in clearly defined terminology, love will be readily available to share widely.  At the same time that destructive violence is shattering world structures, a protective force of courageous care may arise that can tend to whomever or whatever is adversely impacted by the rupturing.

8_cups_rws_lg

8 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Pisces 1 Decan

The Solar Eclipse arises in the first face of Pisces, associated with the Eight of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  Here in this image a hermetic recluse walks away from a watery environment into a mountainous landscape, utilizing a walking stick not unlike a magical staff grounding cosmic awareness into the earth plane. Above the hermit is an image of the Sun and Moon in union not unlike an eclipse. The eight cups are stacked in the foreground like a wall or a structural container giving space for penetrating inner awareness, with the base foundation of the stack wider and most solid. Writing about the 8 of Cups, tarot writer Kelsey Lynore analyzed that it “marks a significant turning away from tradition and that which has previously given you comfort. Your journey into the future will be long and arduous, leading directly into, and through, the darkness of night. The moon, symbol of the Unconscious, is your sole light and guide. Trust your body, trust your hunches, and trust your intuition. You shan’t be looking back. The 8 of Cups represents that moment when you must say ‘no’ to what is, so that you might create or discover that which will be.”

The first face of Pisces is ruled by Saturn, which aligns perfectly with the image of a hermit turning away from the accepted and familiar in order to receive new visions of depth and penetrating insight. As Austin Coppick wrote in his book on the decans 36 Faces, the “relationship with what lies beyond the boundaries characterizes all of Pisces’ decans,” and in the first face of Pisces we “recognize our imprisonment in our own reality construct” as well as “the possibility of liberation” from moving beyond our former boundaries into “a world as yet uncorrupted by our assumptions” (p. 244).  Coppock ascribed the image of “The Labyrinth” to the first face of Pisces, noting it signifies both “a quest to map invisible walls of reality” and “the subtle structures which guide human life,” as well as the realization that our own unconscious is a primal progenitor of our current reality (p.245).  Coppock concludes:

In discovering that it was none other than a portion of ourselves which erected this reality, we gain the power to build as we see fit, with what materials we have assembled. The maze is ours to re-create, our soul the architect. Yet sometimes the tortuous labyrinth holds within its secret heart a wisdom we did not expect. Its being is no abomination, but exactly as it should be. The realization transforms the structure itself from a prison to a palace. Liberation is achieved here through insight alone.

–Austin Coppock (p. 245) 36 Faces

Saturn has strength in the first face of Pisces and finds itself at the time of the eclipse transiting through the third face of Sagittarius where it also has the dignity of decan.  Saturn in Sagittarius remains in a harmonious sextile with Jupiter in Libra, which is also in a decan that it rules.  This places the ruler of the eclipse in harmonious aspect with the ruler of the eclipse’s decan, with both ruling planets residing within faces that they rule.  The lesson here is clear.  No matter how much despair you may currently be feeling from the suffering of worldly events or personal loss, there is immense astrological potency that supports recreating one’s reality from a place of essential value.  The Pisces Solar Eclipse is ideal for releasing attachments to everything that no longer feels authentic, and focusing intention on creating a life full of deeply felt fulfillment.

References

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

Pisces Solar Eclipse 2016

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courtesy of The New York Public Library

O you tender ones, step now and then
into the breath that takes no heed of you:
it will part as it brushes your cheeks
and then tremble behind you, united again.

O you who are blissful, you who are whole,
you who seem the beginnings of hearts.
Bows for arrows and arrows’ aim, through tears
your smile will glow more eternal.

Don’t be afraid to suffer- take your heaviness
and give it back to the earth’s own weight;
the mountains are heavy, the oceans are heavy.

Even the trees you planted as children
have long grown too heavy; you couldn’t bear them.
But the breezes . . . and the spaces . . .

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Sonnets to Orpheus

In the darkness of change and loss, the shadow of what we consciously envision in the light of day, lies the void that sources our suffering and liberation.  When forces beyond our control overturn every aspect of our life, when what formerly held grounded security becomes flooded and dissolved in unconscious waves, we arrive in the moment.  In the morning waking up with a heart broken in the pang of death, grieving what has been sacrificed in the arising change, there remains the crisp scent of morning air tingling the skin with the sound of multitudinous birdsong heralding the dawn.  Some fall free fall into literal death, some resist and deny in delusion and addiction, while some fully aware of the suffering suffocating this world step bravely forward into the chaos with a heart open though overwhelmed by pain.  In the cavernous shifting that comes in March 2016 there is a necessary letting go.  In the release, in the ceaseless change of river currents, looms Saraswati riding her swan of the essential, communing with her peacock who devours venomous serpents and transmutes the poison into wisdom and art.

The Total Solar Eclipse in Pisces on March 8 has been deeply felt this past couple weeks, and as it arrives we will begin to sense its meaning that will reverberate far into the future.  Eclipses vary in intensity, normally happening four times a year, every six months, and though they are always more powerful than the regular New Moon or Full Moon, some are more potent than others.  This Pisces Solar Eclipse is of epic proportion, and the change that arises in its shadow can not be resisted.  The Solar Eclipse is total, less than three degrees away from the South Node of the Moon in Pisces, less than two degrees away from Chiron in Pisces.  Jupiter, the ruler of the eclipse, is conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo and is opposite the Solar Eclipse by less than one degree.   There is tremendous loss and letting go associated with these aspects, going into the gone beyond of the Heart Sutra, and yet if we enter fully into this darkness there is a realignment of personal truth and vision to be uncovered.

This Total Solar Eclipse is part of the saros series 130, with the last eclipses in the series being 26 February 1998,  16 February 1980, 5 February 1962, and 25 January 1944 (the series originated in the year 1096).  If you were alive for these previous Eclipses, it is worth the time to ponder the related events and if there are any links to the current moment.  Most importantly, investigate the location of 19 degrees of Pisces in your birth chart to discern the house location as well as the aspects made.  Whatever house the Eclipse is located in will be a place of release that creates an opening for a new beginning, and whatever aspects are made (focus on conjunctions, squares, oppositions, but also take in sextile and trines) will bring sweeping change to the associated meaning of the planet or chart calculation impacted.

Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_14

Michael Maier’s Emblem #14 from the Atalanta Fugiens

Solar Eclipses have been feared for millennia because of our great solar light becoming consumed by darkness.  Ancient sky watchers who interpreted celestial phenomenon as omens noted time and time again the tumultuous chaos and change that would erupt in accordance with the blackening of the Sun.  As astrologer Bernadette Brady has taught, astrologers across ancient cultures connected dragons with eclipses, viewing the solar or lunar light as becoming consumed by a monstrous serpent.  In ancient Babylon, it was Tiamat the sea dragon of chaos who inundated the world with disorder as she turned the Sun black.  Marduk, associated with the planet Jupiter in Babylon, helped restore order by severing the great sea serpent, an archetypal theme reiterated innumerably in myths cross-culturally.

Ancient astrologers also attempted to bring greater order by learning how to predict eclipses in order to communicate forewarning, and this is how the lunar nodes were originally discovered.  However, just because one can predict an eclipse, and further know how it will impact one’s birth chart, does not bring control and order to the energies that emerge at eclipses.  Some may fight against, resist, or attempt to control the confusing drama that dawns with a Total Solar Eclipse, yet even when extremely painful it is necessary to flow with the changes in order to realign with the actual developing reality. The modern hero adventure Harry Potter contained an apt metaphor as Harry, Hermione, and Ron did not slay the dragon, but instead freed the dragon and rode the dragon into their destiny.

The word eclipse is connected to the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun from our perspective on Earth.  Eclipses occur when a New Moon or Full Moon falls within range of the South Node or North Node of the Moon, as the nodes are the points of intersection in which the Moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic.  The South Node of the Moon marks the descending arc of the Moon across the ecliptic, and as a result is associated with past karma, the unconscious, and release, whereas the North Node of the Moon marks the ascending arc of the Moon across the ecliptic and symbolizes an arising point of conscious intake and evolution.  In a Total Solar Eclipse, the Moon crosses between our Earth and the Sun by zodiac degree and aligned with one of it’s own nodes, magically from our perspective appears as the same size as the Sun and blackens all light.  In keeping with the dragon symbolism of eclipses, the ascending North Node of the Moon became associated with the Head of the Dragon in astrology, while the descending South Node of the Moon became associated with the Tail of the Dragon.

Total Solar Eclipses are essentially the most powerful possible New Moons, yet there is clearly a significant difference between whether the Eclipse is aligned with the South Node of the Moon or the North Node of the Moon.  This Pisces Solar Eclipse is aligned with the South Node of the Moon, making its impact even more confusing in terms of making important decisions and holding previous plans together.  Solar Eclipses still carry the intention setting of the traditional New Moon, but a potent one like this Pisces Solar Eclipse has a strong pull toward clearing out the past in order to make space for the new. With Chiron and Ceres also conjoining the Solar Eclipse, it is likely something we had been securely holding that now needs to be released.

The lunar nodes and their symbolism as being the head and tail of a dragon are karmic significators in astrology, as what is consumed at the head is released at the tail, and what is carried in the tail fuels the desire of the head.  The Pisces Solar Eclipse being at the Tail of the Dragon magnetizes a release of built up energy, yet there is also a karmic element of doing so with compassion, giving rather than taking.  If the changes arising now feel hurtful and wounding, it is vital to compassionately nurture yourself and transmute the pain through selfless purification rather than egoic greed or anger.  With Ceres and Chiron connected to this Pisces Solar Eclipse, there is likely a huge, ancient wound of the psyche being triggered that could lead to unhealthy self destruction if not handled with care and love.

Though the South Node of the Moon in Pisces is linked to this Solar Eclipse, the North Node of the Moon is also activated because this Total Solar Eclipse is in the home of Jupiter, and Jupiter is tightly opposite the eclipse and conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo.  This brings Jupiter’s focus on stabilizing vision to the Dragon’s Head of the Solar Eclipse, a point of inrushing gain and desire in the material realm that can feel amplified and stormy.  In Evolutionary Astrology, Jupiter conjoining the North Node of the Moon at this eclipse also signifies new choices to make on our path leading into the future unknown.  With Ceres, Chiron, and the Solar Eclipse in opposition to Jupiter, however, there is a wound that needs nurturing and it may be difficult to have faith and believe we can receive the help and healing we need.  This Solar Eclipse is almost exactly opposite the Virgo Solar Eclipse on September 13, 2015 that was aligned with the North Node of the Moon at the beginning of Libra.  Although not a total Solar Eclipse, since this September 2015 Eclipse was aligned with the North Node of the Moon you may find that elements of the desires you were pursuing forward at that time now need to be let go, as well as that the issues arising in September 2015 now shift directions or deepen in meaning.

Fludd black square

from Robert Fludd’s Ultriusque Cosmi (1617)

Since Jupiter is conjoining the North Node of the Moon and is also the traditional ruler of the Solar Eclipse, it is significant that Jupiter is in the home of Mercury and that transiting Mercury is conjoining Neptune in Pisces, the modern ruler of Pisces and this Solar Eclipse.  Mercury also being in Pisces while conjoining Neptune means that there is a throbbing oceanic wave of unconscious forces and extrasensory perception contained in this Total Solar Eclipse.  This can go along with a blissful plunge into the deep of the void, where there is blurry fogginess more so than clarity.  While the square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces has been ongoing these past several months, the Solar Eclipse tips the scales in favor of Neptune as the Sun in Pisces is in square to Saturn and Mercury is applying to a conjunction with Neptune.  It may seem as if everything is dissolving, but it is also worth realizing if you can that this is only one point of a process that will be bringing far greater change than what is happening now.  Mercury in Pisces is attuned to inner Soul and the symbolic poetry of life, and so flowing into the shifting occurring now is favored more so than resisting the currents.

The Pisces Solar Eclipse also marks the entry of Mars into Sagittarius, where it will station retrograde a month from now.  Mercury in Pisces is separating from a square to Mars in Sagittarius at this Solar Eclipse, and though wide in orb the tension of its aspect is still in effect.  While Mars in Sagittarius may want to lustfully rush forward in self-centered vision, there are far deeper realizations signified by Mercury and Neptune in Pisces that will be needed to take into account.  As a result there is likely to be a lot of confusion centered around this Total Solar Eclipse, as the changes that seem to be overwhelming now most likely are not even the changes that are actually on the way and only one shift amongst a series of unexpected shifts.  If there is a goal or target you desire to focus on going forward, it will be necessary to remain open to the need to make adjustments to additional changes that will be on the way as Mars shifts into retrograde.  As Pisces is the home of Jupiter and the exaltation of Venus, the best we can do at this Solar Eclipse is to attune to our inner feelings and be open to the unknown.

Malevich black square

Kazimir Malevich (1915) Black Square

Saturn, the giant ringed planet of structure and boundaries, death and transcendence, is occupying a pivotal place as it is in square to the Pisces Solar Eclipse, in square to Jupiter in Virgo, in square to the lunar nodes, and in trine to Uranus in Aries.  This placement of Saturn significantly ramps up the karmic significance of this Solar Eclipse and the symbolism that whatever we need to let go of and pass away as the Sun turns black will become fecund fuel for our future.  The last quarter square between Saturn and Jupiter will be building in intensity in the liminal space between this Pisces Solar Eclipse and the Libra Lunar Eclipse coming on March 23, as Saturn and Jupiter will reach their exact square on the same day as the Lunar Eclipse.  This is the second of three initiations into the last quarter square between Saturn and Jupiter, the first having occurred at the beginning of August 2015 in alignment with the Venus retrograde.  The last quarter square brings about a crisis, and as it is occurring between Jupiter and Saturn it is about the very meaning we bring to our lives and discover about ourselves.  Dane Rudhyar called the last quarter square a “crisis in consciousness” because it forces a clearing out of beliefs that no longer serve us in order to bring about reorientation of meaning.  The third and final exact square between Saturn and Jupiter will be in May of 2016, and so there are more changes to come and it will be at least until then that we will be able to gain clarity for the coinciding shifts.

Since Saturn is in square to the lunar nodes and in trine to Uranus in Aries, there can be a sense of standing at a crossroads while receiving intimations of a liberated future path.  The Pisces Total Solar Eclipse is fully capable of overwhelming the dogmatic vision that can be linked to Saturn in Sagittarius, creating space for an entirely new way of approaching our life and trajectory going forward.  The shadow side of these aspects is on the side of Sagittarius crusaders and ideologues who will react defensively and narcissistically in the face of contention and change, provoking conflict over contesting beliefs.  The mix of hard aspects between Saturn with Jupiter, Neptune, and the Solar Eclipse in combination with the trine to Uranus in Aries can feel incredibly disruptive, yet can also force us to make the necessary change now that helps us to reorient most effectively to the shifting tides of our reality.

Profoundly, while Saturn is in trine to Uranus, Jupiter in Virgo is moving retrograde toward a trine with Pluto in Capricorn.  This means that the Pisces Solar Eclipse also connects to the massive Uranus and Pluto square that has been dominating astrology for the past several years and changing the underlying structures of our lives.  Furthermore, the Pisces Solar Eclipse, as well as Chiron and Ceres in Pisces, are all in sextile to Pluto in Capricorn.  For those who are suffering with the changes arising now, the harmonious aspects to both Pluto and Uranus present at this Eclipse signifies that things are beginning to change in ways that we cannot control and do not fully understand, but in the end will connect us to a more authentic, individuated, and liberated path.

Fludd light from black

from Robert Fludd’s Ultriusque Cosmi (1617)

Chiron and Ceres are not taken into account by many in astrology, but both are intimately linked to this Total Solar Eclipse.  The myths of both Chiron and Ceres time and time again reveal themselves to be resonant with the impact made by the astrological Chiron and Ceres, and this again seems to be the case at this Total Solar Eclipse.  Both Chiron and Ceres had to make sacrifices neither felt prepared for, and yet by opening to the release they each birthed monumental change.  In the story of Chiron, it is his willing sacrifice that leads to the liberation of Prometheus.  In the story of Ceres, it is her loss of Persephone as her constant companion that leads to Persephone assuming her vital role as Queen of the Underworld.

While outrage may overcome us with the changes occurring at this eclipse, and though we may feel we deserve to be angry, it will be most important to regenerate ourselves as Ceres did in river currents so we can regain our capacity to be productive and effect change in our surroundings. Ceres is an activator between the personal planets of Mars, Venus, and Mercury with the large gaseous planets of expansion and contraction, Jupiter and Saturn.  Ceres conjoining the Pisces Solar Eclipse thus brings up the importance of nurturing all of the wild passions and perceptions being stirred up by Mercury, Venus, and Mars.  Ceres can signify both abandonment and attachment issues, wounds at our core that can make it difficult to ground and make the choices that will bring opportunities for greater happiness, as well as have the capacity to receive the love and care being offered. As the realm of Jupiter and Saturn is entering into the crisis of their last quarter square, Ceres signifies the visceral importance of nurturing our body, mind, and desires.

Chiron is an activator from the realm of Jupiter and Saturn to the far beyond of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, and so the Pisces Solar Eclipse will include experiences that propel us into the transpersonal realm, creating the need to return to the mundane world while integrating our far out realizations. Chiron’s story in myth begins with abandonment and rejection, as the half human, half horse Chiron was seen as an abomination by his divine parents and left to raise himself in mountainous caves.  For many in the collective at this Total Solar Eclipse, issues of being rejected, of not being wanted, of not feeling seen or respected for our inherent value and intelligence could come up.  Chiron teaches the lesson of resiliently following our path no matter how unorthodox it may seem to others in the materialistic mainstream of society.  Chiron not only learned from the wisdom of the stars shining above and the green growth of nature below, but gave his teachings to others and nurtured the unique, undervalued gifts of his students.  This lesson of the Solar Eclipse can be found in the dialogue of the film Brother Sun Sister Moon about Saint Francis, when Clare calls out to Francis: “I am not seeking to be understood, I want to understand! I am not asking to be loved, I want to love!”

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9 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Pisces II Decan

The second face of Pisces holds this Total Solar Eclipse, a decan associated with the 9 of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image we see a rather smug and opulent man seemingly gloating in front of his carefully exhibited nine golden cups.  The 9 of Cups is often associated with wish fulfillment, enjoying pleasure, luxury, and satisfaction, and getting what we think we want.  Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Net” to the Pisces second decan, a face in which “the central conflict is how to reconcile one’s understanding of the true nature of reality with the world-as-it-is,” a “phase in which we are challenged to reconcile beliefs, ideals and the way things are” (p. 251).  Since Mercury is conjoining Neptune at the Solar Eclipse, the perception into underlying reality signified by their union is fitting for the meaning Coppock gave to the second decan of Pisces, as the Solar Eclipse will call us to integrate this depth of awareness into our daily life.

Jupiter rules the second face of Pisces, notable at this eclipse as Jupiter is receiving the eclipse through an opposition, is conjoining the North Node of the Moon in Virgo, and is square to Saturn in Sagittarius.  Coppock illuminated in 36 Faces that the crux of this decan is that fulfillment can come from harmonizing one’s inner perceptions with one’s outer life, yet torment and grief will overcome those unable to harmonize their outer and inner worlds.  In the last quarter square between Jupiter and Saturn, Jupiter is in the superior position and receiving the karmic lessons of Saturn. Jupiter’s potent placement at the Solar Eclipse reveals that to access the fortune contained in the blackening of the Sun, we must flow like water in line with the cosmos above and the soul of the material world in the moment.  Attuning to where we are inwardly directed in the now, we can act with integrity and bridge our inner feelings and realizations with our external actions.

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References

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

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