Interview on Mercury & Gemini

hermaphrodite from rosarium philosophorum

from Rosarium Philosophorum

I am excited to share an interview I did with astrologer Mary Jo Wevers about the sign of Gemini and its ruler Mercury on her radio show “Astrology: The Theory of Everything.”  We spend a lot of time speaking about Mercury retrograde, and this show was in fact recorded right before Mercury stationed retrograde in Taurus this past April.

During the show I mentioned that when Mercury transited the Sun at its Inferior Conjunction it was conjoining its Heliocentric North Node.  I learned this information from Dane Rudhyar and other astrologers, and astrologer Gary Caton corrected me (after this interview was recorded) by pointing out that if you actually look at the orbit of Mercury you can see that its Heliocentric South Node is actually Taurus.  So, point being that when Mercury conjoined the Sun in May it was conjunct its Heliocentric South Node in Taurus, not its North Node.

Click the link below to listen to the show on the official site:

http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/91928/gemini-bridging-connections-and-navigating-changes-with-retrograde-mercury#.V2H311duLzI

Click the player below just to play the show:

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Mercury Retrograde in Saturn’s Home

Dore_Raven15

Illustration for The Raven by Gustave Dore

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

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

— Hermes Chthonian from The Orphic Hymns

Mercury Retrograde

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dore_Inferno1

Illustration for Dante’s Inferno by Gustave Dore

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

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

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

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

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury Stations Retrograde

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

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

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

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

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

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

mercury passing in front of the sun

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

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

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

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

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

–Rainer Maria Rile from Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury into the Sun

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

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

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

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

Dore Gustave Inferno_Canto_1_spirit_guide

Virgil leads Dante by Gustave Dore, from the Divine Comedy

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

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

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

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

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Sonnets to Orpheus

Mercury Stations Direct

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

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

References

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

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

Aries Lunar Eclipse

Aries Lunar Eclipse

Limestone Ram’s head from Egypt (300 – 400 B.C.)

Lunar Eclipse in Aries

On September 27 or 28 depending upon time zone, a total Lunar Eclipse in Aries will arise in which our Moon will turn blood red in the shadow of our Sun.  Since this eclipse is also a Super Moon, it will have a more direct, palpable impact on us than a standard Full Moon. You may question the hullabaloo astrologers make about the transformative potential of eclipses such as this one, when you know that astrologers tend to make a big deal about transits on a regular basis, and we always have at least four eclipses occur every year.  If you spend more time exploring eclipses, however, you will soon recognize that many periods of your life that suddenly took on a completely different trajectory had eclipses as part of the initiation.  This Lunar Eclipse truly does portend breakthrough experiences, not only because of it being total and the Moon being at it’s closest orbit to Earth, but also because of surrounding transits such as Pluto stationing direct, Mars square Saturn, Venus trine Uranus, and the conjunction of Mercury retrograde with the Sun.

This Aries Lunar Eclipse is total because the Full Moon and the Sun are only a few degrees away from the North and South Nodes of the Moon, creating the optical effect of a rosy red Moon from the Sun’s shadow.  Dane Rudhyar viewed this solar shadow on the Moon as symbolizing the present overcoming the past, as our solar awareness and purpose veils the lunar impact of past conditioning on our present consciousness and we can consequently embody a presence less attached to past patterns.  As the Moon is conjunct the South Node of the Moon in Aries, and the Sun is conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Libra, the past activation of our primal will force (Aries) becomes overshadowed by new growth found in re-adjustment, re-balancing, fairness, harmony, and discretion (Libra).  The fiery sign of the Ram is willing to use its horns if necessary to protect personal desires from being lost through assimilation in surrounding relationships, and yet in the shadow of a Libra Sun, we must balance yearning for self-centered independence within the needs of our relationships.

In Aries, the “pulsing of life” — of the creative Breath — is felt. It passes through. It surges forth — and is gone. Aries power is the power of the lightning, which descends from above, which strikes out of the darkness of the Collective Unconscious. It is the power of revelation; power of Destiny released, which burns and fecundates. Such a power, from whatever level it operates in fiery downflows, gives to the actions of an Aries person a peculiar pioneering, impersonal, perhaps cosmic and fateful strength.

— Dane Rudhyar from The Pulse of Life

The burning, fecundating quality of an Aries eclipse that sparks inspired action from within is further augmented by a Vesta retrograde in Aries closely conjunct the Lunar Eclipse and the South Node of the Moon.  Vesta as a result turns us within to focus on activating our essentiality rather than the egotistical ambitions we competitively pursue to advance within our culture.  Vesta draws us into the power found within our inner flame of divinity that is not dependent upon the trappings of status and outer success.  Any creative, spiritual, or philosophical practices and traditions that magnetize you at this time will be fertile ground to discover the self-realization that will fuel your journey in the season ahead.  While Vesta can be steadfastly independent from relationships at times, she is completely devoted to her inner passions and rapture for what she finds holds a spiritual quality.

This eclipse occurring a few days after the Libra Equinox makes it a heralding marker of the change of season.  In the perspective of the Northern Hemisphere that dominated development of astrology, the Libra Equinox initiating Autumn can be seen in the glyph of Libra that looks like a setting Sun on the horizon.  At the Autumn Equinox we honor the falling of leaves and other signs of decomposition that will fertilize new growth in the future.  The theme of death that creates new life can be further seen in the association of Libra with Venus and outer relationships, as we can experience an ego death when deeply connecting with a partner and the creation of new life through the conjoined energies of the partnership.  This aspect of Libra is further amplified at this eclipse because the relationally oriented Juno asteroid is closely conjunct the Sun and North North Node of the Moon in Libra.  Juno here sparks a procreative force within drawn to collaboration in relationships in which we can express our authenticity, and will influence us to release or alter those relationships in which we have been struggling to assert our essential nature.

The maverick side of Libra is also activated at this eclipse, as Black Moon Lilith is conjunct Juno, the Sun, and the North Node of the Moon.  Black Moon Lilith is the balance point of our lunar orbit that astrologers have been using to illustrate the exiled aspects of our consciousness we have been repressing or denying.  When Black Moon Lilith becomes potently activated, the parts of our personality and psyche that have been cast off return to heart and we begin to assert this regained quality into our relationships.  Similar to the lucid quality symbolized by the goddess Kali holding the severed head of Shiva, Black Moon Lilith will cut through any recent egotistical patterns we have experienced within ourselves and our relationships to illuminate whatever is essential for us.  As Lilith demands being treated as an equal, co-creating partner, we likewise will face issues around equality and inequality in the coming season.

Aries Lunar Eclipse

by Scott Young from http://scottyoung.us

Mars square Saturn

The astrological rhythm surrounding this Aries Lunar Eclipse has a fervent intensity, as Mars in Virgo rules the eclipse and will be separating from a square with Saturn in Sagittarius.  Mars square Saturn can bring important changes but also conflict, and the atmosphere is further amplified by Pluto in Capricorn stationing direct a few days before the eclipse.  Since Pluto in Capricorn is bound to Saturn, Pluto stationing direct following the ingress of Saturn into Sagittarius carries emboldened force into the plutonian desires flowing into awareness.  Pluto stationing direct is generally an eruptive time, as any deep desires we have been resisting can overcome us from within creating a crisis if necessary to seize our attention.  This cathartic stationing of Pluto amplifies the change of Saturn from Scorpio to Sagittarius that likewise is bringing up what we have dredged from our inner depths to feed the action we are commencing in the sign of the fiery, galloping Centaur.

The recent ingress of Saturn into Sagittarius has brought shifts of direction, and you likely have been sensing a strong urge to set off in pursuit of something related to Saturn and Sagittarius in your birth chart.  Mars in Virgo being in a last quarter square to Saturn in Sagittarius brings up a course correction sourced from attuning our desires in connection with the details of our life in the here and now.  Generally speaking, many if not most of us envision future goals in connection with past emotions, attachments, influences, and dreams.  This Aries Lunar Eclipse ruled by Mars in a last quarter square to Saturn is leveling this field so to speak with the scythe of Saturn cutting off what needs harvesting or release.  This process could involve conflict, but the positive potential of today’s turmoil can help in the reorientation toward making future goals in greater alignment with what we truly want to have happen for us now.

Both Saturn and Mars are making aspects to this Lunar Eclipse, with Saturn in a stabilizing, harmonious trine and Mars in a disorienting inconjunct.  These two aspects are an important detail of the greater movement, as it suggests the object of our deep desire may seem overly daunting, too difficult to achieve or manifest in this moment.  The danger of the Virgo inconjunct to Aries is getting lost in a perpetual cycle of procrastination in which we never feel we are truly ready, continuing to research, train, or practice instead of diving into the fray full steam and letting the dust settle where it may.  The trine from Saturn in Sagittarius to the Lunar Eclipse in Aries points us in the direction of making structural changes and taking even the simplest of steps to begin to build a structure for whatever it is we wish to achieve.  This is a perfect time for releasing the aspects of our old goals no longer serving us and taking concrete steps to build a foundation from which to launch our most viscerally felt desires from.

Aries I Decan

Two of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Aries I Decan

The influence of Mars on this lunar eclipse is further increased due to the first face of Aries being ruled by Mars.  The Aries I decan where the lunar eclipse occurs is also associated with the Two of Wands card in the Rider-Waite deck, which reinforces the theme of envisioning our future from a renewed perspective previously discussed above.  In the image above illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith, we find what appears to be a conquering lord of some sort, holding a globe in one hand as he gazes from atop a fortress out into an expanse of terrain containing mountainous as well as watery landscapes. It is the body of water that appears to have secured his focus in this moment, and the presence of the globe seems to imply a moment of reflection regarding expansion of his influence or dominion.

In 36 Faces: The History, Astrology, and Magic of the Decans, astrologer Austin Coppock ascribed the symbol of “The Axe” to this decan which has a long association with furiously martial figures who dominate enemies and assure victory in battle. Coppock deepened the symbolism of the axe through linking it to the splitting and separation from the One necessary for creation and growth, for example in the cutting of the umbilical cord of the child from its mother and in the use of axes in controlling nature to make a home in the wilderness. Coppock linked this separation as “a severance from the symbolic mother- the womb from which all things emerge,” setting up a dynamic in which “what is motherly and unifying constricts development” rather than augmenting growth:

The axe is thus a tool of the first individual, bravely severing himself from the primordial mother and building a distinct and individual life. This assertion of selfhood is undiluted yang, and in principle phallic, no matter the gender of who embodies it. The phallus in play here is a symbol of potency, yet its reality involves tremendous vulnerability, the same vulnerability that the lone individual faces in a sometimes hostile world. The axe may be the tool by which the individual liberates themselves from the collective, but it is also the cruel weapon of the primordial mother as castrator, the limiting force with which the warlike figures of this decan wrestle. This is the essence of this face- the individual yang struggling out of the collective yin.

— Austin Coppock (p. 54)

As a result, while there are astrological signs pointing toward growth through creating greater balance, fairness, and equality in our relationships, there is at the same time a raw martial force within this eclipse demanding that we clear a path forward in which we have greater freedom and less restraint.  To unify this opposition we need to respect our need to be authentic while honoring the essential nature of those we are interacting with.  Additionally, the last quarter square between Mars in Virgo and Saturn in Sagittarius simultaneously will force us to deal with the structural system of our surroundings and so to be successful, the exertion of our personal power cannot be completely untamed but rather modified in accordance with environmental conditions.

Lunar Eclipse in Aries

Eros by Paul Klee (1923)

ARIES 5°:  A TRIANGLE WITH WINGS

Keynote:  The capacity for self-transcending

In his book exploring Sabian Symbols, Dane Rudhyar described the degree of the Aries Lunar Eclipse as being “the symbol of the desire to reach a higher level of existence, of pure aspiration or devotion, of bhakti” (p. 53).  This ideal yearning Rudhyar wrote about, in which “the whole being experiences a childlike longing for its eventual realization,” is strongly charged by a grand fire trine formed at the eclipse by Venus in Leo, Uranus retrograde in Aries, and Pallas Athena in Sagittarius.  This is a truly visionary grand fire trine sourced at its root by the deep inner material dug up during this past period of Venus retrograde.  At the time of the eclipse, Venus will have returned to place of it’s inferior conjunction with the Sun that happened on August 15, 2015.  In fact, Venus will be less than half a degree away from this point of Venusian rebirth.  As Venus will not leave its retrograde shadow zone until October 9, the Aries Lunar Eclipse will propel us into the final two weeks of the Venus retrograde, catalyzing numerous events giving us opportunities to integrate and express our Venusian passions that have been stirred up.

As this is in addition the final eclipse to occur with the North Node of the Moon in Libra that is ruled by Venus, we are at a border crossing transition fitting for an equinoctial period.  The lunar nodes have been in Aries and Libra since February 2014, a time that was dominated in astrology by the final series of squares between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn.  If you take the time to reflect back on all of the numerous issues and events in your life that have been brewing since that time, especially around your sense of empowerment within your relationships, there will no doubt be a sense of resolution occurring now in the form of a final test or a peak experience.  This is not the end of the lunar nodes transiting through Aries and Libra, as they will not move into Pisces and Virgo until November 2015. However, the Lunar Eclipse will spark the final lessons we will be learning from the dragon slithering through these two cardinal signs.

Persephone in Aries

Roman marble relief (27 B.C. – 14 A.D.) copy of a Greek marble relief of 450–425 B.C. found at Eleusis. The image reveals Demeter on the left side and Persephone on the right of the relief.

Persephone

Further fitting for the time of the Libra Equinox, the Persephone asteroid #399 is at 21° Aries and so conjunct Uranus as well as part of the grand fire trine involving the goddesses Venus in Leo and Pallas Athena in Sagittarius.  For those who are already working with Eris, you can also add Eris in with Uranus and Persephone on the Aries point of this fiery triangle.  Significantly, at this time Persephone, Uranus, and Eris are all retrograde, taking us deep within for a primal rebirth of soul.  Like Persephone who claimed full embodiment of her role as the underworld Queen, we have Persephone with us in any descent into experiences that strip us of innocence while offering opportunities to cultivate greater resiliency and access to our full range of power.

With Pluto also prominent by having recently stationed direct, at the equinoctial time in which the mythic Hades brought Persephone down into his realm, we have an archetype of Persephone activated with the efficacy of a Uranian lightning strike.  Demetra George in her workbook Finding Our Way Through The Dark, described the descent associated with the Persephone asteroid as enabling “us to develop a relationship with the hidden forces in our unconscious, activate our psychic abilities, release the past, discover a new sense of our adult self and strengths, and emerge transformed and renewed.”  Persephone united with Uranus and in trine to Venus in Leo opens us to a time in which we will sense the invisible realm within the visible, sensing the substance of spirit in our body.

Roberto Calasso in The Marriage of Cadmus in Harmony noted how Persephone is the vivifying force of vitality regenerating the world of the dead:  “Persephone imposed blood on the dead:  not, as in the past, the dark blood of sacrifice, not the blood the dead used to drink so thirstily, but the invisible blood that went on pulsing in her white arms, the blood of someone who is still entirely alive, even in the palace of death” (p. 212).  To Calasso, Persephone is the figure who created a new paradigm between our green world above and the underworld below, for as Persephone descended and separated from the world of her Earth goddess mother Demeter, “Eros penetrated the kingdom of the dead. The slender-ankled Persephone was the supple arrow Aprhrodite ordered Eros to let fly at Hades.”  As Persephone is of the earth, deep within the earth, and deeply erotic, her asteroid conjoined with Uranus and the grand fire trine of goddesses suggests the passions stirred from within us will release previously unconscious soul desires that will lead us toward greater wholeness.

The other aspect of Persephone that fits well with the astrological climate of the Aries Lunar Eclipse is her role in accepting the souls of the dead who have been guided to her kingdom by Hermes, thereafter initiating them into the cycle of rebirth.  Thus the Mercury retrograde in Libra we are experiencing in which Mercury has taken on the psychopomp role of guiding us into core aspects of our soul has the welcoming visage of Persephone to greet us in the regeneration we are experiencing.  Peter Kingsley in Reality wrote that Persephone “is the goddess who greets initiates when they manage to make their way down to her by warmly reaching out to them with her right hand; who accepts them, welcomes them to her home, with a  kindness that defies all human logic” (p. 43).

In the time leading up the Lunar Eclipse, Mercury retrograde in Libra is square to Pluto in Capricorn and it is applying to its inferior conjunction with the Sun at the time of the eclipse.  In the week following the Lunar Eclipse, Persephone will get closer to Uranus each day until becoming exactly conjunct Uranus at the same time that Mercury stations direct, and Venus leaves her retrograde shadow zone.  The intermingling of all of these significations of rebirth is quite incredible, suggesting we truly are on the precipice of a complete change in the course of our life.  The loving embrace of Persephone and the fearless expression of her potency will guide those willing to descend into the depth of her world.

Persephone asteroid

Persephone opening a cista containing the infant Adonis, on a pinax from Locri

References

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

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

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

Kingsley, Peter. (2003). Reality. The Golden Sufi Center.

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

Mercury Retrograde in Libra

Mercury retrograde in Libra

Man Ray (1931) Untitled

Mercury Retrograde in Libra

  • Mercury stations retrograde at 15°55′ Libra on September 17, 2015
  • Mercury unites with Sun at 7°07′  Libra on September 30, 2015
  • Mercury stations direct at 0°54′ Libra on October 9, 2015
  • Mercury leaves its retrograde shadow zone on October 26, 2015

The transit of Mercury retrograde in Libra beginning September 17 opens a doorway within the vivifying void of eclipses, as we will be in between the Solar Eclipse of September 13 and the Lunar Eclipse of September 27.  While Mercury retrogrades are always liminal in quality, the influence of eclipses on the commencement of this retrograde evokes entrance through a magic portal that mysteriously redefines and redirects.  Mercury stations retrograde simultaneously with two other impactful transits, as about eleven hours before Mercury stations there will be an exact opposition between Jupiter in Virgo and Neptune in Pisces, and about nine hours after Mercury stations, Saturn will ingress into Sagittarius.  Jupiter in Virgo, Neptune in Pisces, and Saturn in Sagittarius will be dominant players in the upcoming astrological atmosphere saturated with the deep shifting of Mutable signs. Our move into the preponderance of Mutable signs will create an air of adjustment to the ensuing disorientation, and so it is here that Mercury retrograde arrives.  Since this Mercury retrograde is occurring in Libra, the sign of Scales and the domicile of Venus, an atmosphere of relational recalibration will occur on both inner and outer levels.  In collective events of tension and trauma such as the refugee crisis in Europe, we will witness raised levels of rhetoric and reaction with participants coming back and forth from extreme positions of opposition.  Perhaps there is none other than Mercury more up to the task of guiding us to find a middle way of solutions in response.

The journey of Mercury around the Sun is important to pay attention to, as Mercury from our perspective on Earth never gets too far ahead of the Sun as an evening star, returning three times every year during its retrograde to reunite and regenerate within the purifying solar rays.  Karl Kerenyi in Hermes: Guide of Souls ascribed “belonging to the journey” and being “by the road” as part of the essential nature of Hermes, who is “constantly underway” in motion at all times (p. 33).  Kerenyi wrote that any “journeyer” connected with Hermes remains “at home on the road itself, the road being understood not as a connection between two definite points on the earths surface, but as a particular world” (p. 32).  When Mercury stations retrograde, it marks the time period in which Mercury disappears as an evening star with a flash of light, descending from our view into the invisibility of the underworld.  The underworld passage of Mercury retrograde is not a time to fear, but rather a world to fully enter and embrace for the treasures found within its depths.  There are already innumerable issues occurring that are creating fear, and these have nothing to do with this Mercury retrograde causing them.

Mercury is the divine messenger who weaves the golden rays of the Sun into the words and other forms of communication we express ourselves through, a soulful guide through which our consciousness discerns meaning from phenomenal reality.  The constant variation of Mercury’s synodic cycle influences how we evaluate our experiences, and so during the retrograde when Mercury symbolically descends into the underworld we can more readily access alternate forms of perception resonant with the intuitive meaning found in symbols, signs, omens, and dreams.  Mercury retrograde as a result becomes a time we can seize to turn within and ruminate on the nature of our experiences since the previous Mercury retrograde (Mercury last stationed direct at 4°34′ Gemini on June 11, 2015).  Mercury moving in a radically different motion from our perspective also coincides with radical changes in thought, and we can use this Mercurial phenomenon to directly respond to life less attached to the previous habitual patterns of mind.

This retrograde occurring entirely in the sign of Libra means that Mercury will be residing in the house of Venus, and so we will be able to take a long look at ourselves in the mirror of Aphrodite as well as use Venusian mirrors to alter our appearance to others.  It also means that as Karl Kerenyi wrote in Hermes: Guide of Souls that “meeting and finding are revelations of Hermes’ essence” (p. 43), “finding and thieving in the realm of love are also Hermetic traits” (p. 48).  Hermes was born from a secret love affair between Zeus and Maia, and as shown in the Homeric Hymn and the Odyssey, Hermes felt no shame singing about his divinely deceitful origins or loudly proclaiming that he would also love to “bed that golden Aphrodite” when she was discovered in her affair with Ares.  I am not sharing these references to suggest anyone enter into an extramarital affair during this Mercury retrograde, only that we will be overcome at times with eros and that within our impassioned embraces we will enter the magical world of Mercury:

Journeying is the best condition for loving.  The gorges over which the “volatized one” passes like a ghost can be the abysses of unbelievable love affairs-  Circe and Calypso islands and holes; they can be abysses also in the sense that there no chance exists for standing on firm ground, but only for further floating between life and death.

–Karl Kerenyi from Hermes: Guide of Souls

Mercury’s capacity to travel the extents of both the upper and underworld brings the association of being a psychopomp or guide of souls, the wily thief and shepherd who carries a golden staff that can lull others into trance states as well as startle wide awake.  During Mercury retrograde it is as if the wave of Hermes’ wand takes us into a realm of perception counter to the dominant narrative of how one’s awareness is expected to operate.  Gleaning wisdom from Mercury retrograde is like embracing the “mythological treasure” described by Peter Kingsley in his book Reality:  “the invaluable object that has been lost and misused and has to be rediscovered at all costs” (p. 21).  The gifts we can most readily receive from Mercury retrograde are not always the kind valued by consensus culture:  the illuminated thought received while watching the flight of birds or the flight of leaves falling from trees, or the mysterious meanderings of a creative process that does not provide immediate gratification or reward.

Mercury Retrograde in Libra

Revolving Doors (1926) by Man Ray

 Enantiodromia

Enantiodromia is a term from ancient Greek meaning “to run counter to,” that was unearthed in the work of Carl Jung to demonstrate his understanding that anything at an extreme state will turn into its opposite quality.  The concept of a unity found in oppositions goes at least as far back as the time of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, whose famous statement that no one steps in the same river twice was embedded within a philosophy of flux that saw that everything in existence contains and turns into its opposite state.  Jung brought this concept into his theories about the interplay between our conscious and unconscious, and how what we repress in our subconscious can erupt in polarity through our shadow.  There is an inherent restoration of balance to our system that results that is not unlike the astrological meaning we can find in Libra, the sign of the Scales.

In astrology Mercury has been defined clearly across centuries, yet delights in defying definitions as it has been known to identify as both masculine and feminine, nocturnal and diurnal, capable of mutating identity in acclimation to its surrounding environment. Mercury retrograde in Libra beckons a re-examination of the Scales, the concept of finding balance that necessitates extremes, tension, polarity, counterpoints, and contrariness. The awareness we can access in Mercury retrograde can help us transcend rigid parameters of duality through swinging wildly at times between extremes of perception, experiencing extremities of oppositions in a continual process of re-balancing. As this Mercury retrograde occurs during the final days of the lunar nodes being in Aries and Libra, one realm of extremes we will experience will be our desires for independence and self-empowerment in tandem with our desires for relationship and mutual sharing.  Since the Mercury retrograde begins with Jupiter in Virgo exactly opposite Neptune in Pisces, the extremes of vision we can find between Virgo and Pisces, between skepticism and inspiration, between reductionism and holism, will also come up in a process in which we will be redefining our belief system.

As Mercury stations retrograde in opposition to Uranus in Aries and in square to Pluto in Capricorn, the stationing Mercury will dig into our core and a morphing from one extreme to another could result from what was formerly repressed entering conscious awareness.  This Libra Mercury retrograde bridges Uranus and Pluto more intensely together than they have been recently, and so corresponding contrariness could involve strong impulses for liberation and emancipation in the face of judgmental shaming or oppression, or strivings for a freedom from restraints coming up with a need to take responsibility within boundaries.  The opposition between Mercury in Libra and Uranus in Aries being in square to Pluto in Capricorn creates a t-square in which the missing point is found in Cancer, which means our issues around emotional insecurity and security will be important triggers.

The influence of the North Node of the Moon being in Libra is further amplified not only because this Mercury retrograde occurs entirely in Libra, but also because at the time that Mercury stations, Juno will be in Libra conjunct the North Node of the Moon, and Black Moon Lilith will also be conjunct the North Node of the Moon. Juno here in Libra makes our desires for relationship all the more soulful and procreative, drawing feelings to work through difficulties that have arisen in the relationships that resonate with our deepest longings.  As Juno is also a protector of those abused or victimized in relationship, her meaning in combination with the fiercely independent Black Moon Lilith and the Lunar North Node means that those being victimized at extremes in relationship can experience a sudden shift that impels them to leave for good.

Black Moon Lilith also brings added meaning that aspects of our essential nature that we have formerly not integrated into our relationships will now demand attention with the swift force of enantiodromia.  In the Libra realm of balance and counterweight, Black Moon Lilith is a fascinating calculated point in space that serves as a point of balance in terms of the Moon’s orbit.  Indeed, the true node of Black Moon Lilith is even called the “oscillating” Black Moon Lilith, and by name association both the “true” and “mean” calculations of the point have taken on the mythological meaning of Lilith.  Here we find the exiled and the estranged, but like one who must runaway from one’s home environment for safety as well as to find one’s true joy, the issues of Black Moon Lilith are necessary challenges for us to face in our healing and empowerment.  If we have been coping with certain issues at an extreme of perception, the other side holding an important perspective for us to embrace will flood our awareness.

Along these lines, the beginning period of Mercury’s retrograde seems to hold a powerful moment of integration from the previous Venus retrograde, as Venus is direct while still within her retrograde shadow zone, and is receiving the stationing Mercury in Libra through a sextile.  As Mercury begins to move backward into the initial phase of its retrograde motion, Venus will continue moving forward through Leo in the degrees of its retrograde shadow zone, resurrecting the issues from this past Venus retrograde for us to readdress.  If you have important placements or aspects in the second half of Leo, this Mercury retrograde time period will be your third opportunity to experience the transit of Venus there.  The third time will be the charm in the sense that the issues needing to be addressed will now be crystal clear if you have been paying attention, and the magical thinking of Mercury retrograde could bring a new perspective to the situation previously unthought.

Mercury Inferior Conjunction in Libra

Man Ray (1922) Rayograph

Cazimi

The initial phase of the Mercury retrograde begins on September 17 and extends until September 30, 2015 when Mercury enters the heart of the Sun at its Inferior Conjunction.  The union of Mercury with the Sun during its retrograde descriptively is similar to an interior conjunction, as it is the conjunction of Mercury with the Sun that happens when Mercury is between us on Earth and our Sun.  As a result this is a powerful moment of conception, likened to a New Mercury for us to set intention with in accord. To the ancients this is the time of Mercury being cazimi or at the heart of the Sun, the moment when Mercury is reborn with purifying vivification by the rays of solar light.  When Mercury and the Sun are cazimi at eight degrees of Libra, Juno and Black Moon Lilith will also be conjunct a few degrees away- this makes themes related to Juno and Black Moon Lilith absolutely vital to a new conception of Mercury we create at this time.  There is also an opposition of Vesta in Aries to Juno and Black Moon Lilith that brings a counterpoint of wanting independent focus on needs not being met in relationships.  Vesta is also retrograde, signifying a strong inner urge of devotion operating independent of our outer relationships.  The Vesta opposition to Juno and Black Moon Lilith is further emphasized by its alignment with a Lunar Eclipse in Aries a couple of days before Mercury becomes cazimi.

Convictions, beliefs, opinions,

certainties, principles,

rules and habits have abandoned me.

I woke up naked at the edge of a civilization

which seemed to me comic and incomprehensible.

— from After by Czeslaw Milosz

The period around the Inferior Conjunction of Mercury is a time of incubation, and so it is interesting that we will be experiencing the initial return of Saturn in Sagittarius simultaneously.  Whatever house Sagittarius rules in your birth chart is important to reflect upon at this time as you will experience a sudden jolt of the associated issues arising in your life.  The jolting pace of the half human half horse Centaur found in the symbol of Sagittarius is another theme that we will need to address through Mercury retrograde in Libra, as Sagittarius thrives on swiftness and taking off in new directions.  Since Saturn in Sagittarius is ruled by a Jupiter that is in the Virgo sign of Mercury, it means that the shifting relational perspectives we experience during this Mercury retrograde are deeply rooted to the changes that will occur with Saturn re-entering the sign of Sagittarius.  We can open to the gifts of Sagittarius by opening perception to the unknown without preconceived assumptions, discerning directly in the moment as much as possible.

It was a riverside meadow, lush, from before the hay harvest,

On an immaculate day in the sun of June.

I searched for it, found it, recognized it.

Grasses and flowers grew there familiar in my childhood.

With half-closed eyelids I absorbed luminescence.

And the scent garnered me, all knowing ceased.

Suddenly I felt I was disappearing and weeping with joy.

— A Meadow by Czeslaw Milosz

A further link between this Mercury retrograde in Libra and the previous Venus retrograde in Leo is at the time that Mercury has its Inferior Conjunction with the Sun on September 30, Venus will be in range of the same degree at which it had its own Inferior Conjunction with the Sun back on August 15, 2015.  As a result this is a magic portal moment in which our new conception of Mercury arises at the same time we are re-awakened to our new conception of Venus that happened over a month ago.  As we enter this New Mercury phase we release our old thought forms in preparation for the envisioning of the new.  Any deep soul desires we have been resisting could erupt with volatility at this time, as there is an incredibly transformative astrological climate surrounding the build up to this New Mercury:  Pluto will station direct in Capricorn six days before it, and there will be a Lunar Eclipse in Aries a few days before Mercury enters the heart of the Sun.

Mercury Retrograde in Libra

Man Ray (1926) The Meeting

Oracular Meetings

“The diverse shall be no less diverse, but they shall flow and unite . . . .

they unite now.”

∼ Walt Whitman from [The Sleepers] in Leaves of Grass

Beginning October 1, Mercury will shift into the final phase of its underworld journey that lasts until October 9 when Mercury stations direct as a Morning Star.  There are a number of important astrology aspects occurring during this period, and the sign of Virgo that Mercury calls its home is highlighted.  For one, Venus will have re-entered Virgo and will only be a couple of minutes away from leaving her retrograde shadow zone at the moment Mercury stations direct.  As Mercury stations Venus will also be applying closely to a square with Saturn in Sagittarius.  This final week of Mercury’s retrograde motion thus holds a powerful ingress of Venus from the solar sign of Leo into the Mercurial sign of Virgo, a transition symbolized for many by the form of the half maiden half lioness Sphinx.  With Saturn in Sagittarius awaiting Venus here, there is a demand for us to catalyze and activate all of the changes that have been stirred up during the long Venus retrograde journey from the beginning of Virgo to the heart of Leo and back again.  As soon as Venus enters Virgo, she is welcomed by a delighted Mercury into his hermetic home.  Venus traditionally has been classified as being in its fall in Virgo, and so with Mercury already in retrograde in Libra this can be a profound falling into our inner realm for transformative realization.

In addition, there will be an opposition between Mars in Virgo and Neptune in Pisces that occurs leading up to the stationing of Mercury, bringing the boundlessness of Neptune in opposition to Mars in the home of Mercury.  Mars in Virgo utilizes Mercurial facilities to focus on the details of our surrounding environment to accomplish work.  In the Virgo capacity to refine and develop techniques and tools, Mars necessarily needs to separate this from that in order to find the necessary focus for desired growth.  In the face of Neptune, the invisible realm opens around Mars in Virgo, evoking mystical, mysterious desires and experiences.  As e.e. cummings once wrote, “love is a deeper season than reason,” and with Mercury retrograde in Libra during this Mars and Neptune opposition we will know this beyond rational comprehension in one way or another.

By the time we get to Mercury stationing direct, Mars will be further conjunct the Moon in Virgo and applying closely to a conjunction with Jupiter in Virgo.  The Moon in the sign of Mercury therefore will be bringing the spirit of Neptune opposite Mars into its conjunction with Jupiter in Virgo as Mercury stands still in the sign of the Scales.  This seems like a time of inner epiphanies such as the macrocosm the poet Walt Whitman described through the microcosm of the leaves of grass before him. With Neptune in Pisces activated so strongly with Venus, Mars, the Moon, and Jupiter all essentially in an opposite area of the zodiac, and Saturn having now entered Sagittarius to begin to initiate its pivotal last quarter square to Neptune, there is an amplified otherworldly quality to the approach of Mercury retrograde into the heart of the Sun.  This does not spell disaster for our dearest dreams, but rather asks us to open ourselves to the boundless quality of our vision as well as the pragmatic work needed for successful manifestation.  At the time of Mercury uniting with the Sun, however, it will be most effective to enjoy the timeless quality of the moment that transcends reasoned defining:

what time is it? it is by every star
a different time, and each most falsely true;
or so subhuman superminds declare

-nor all their times encompass me and you:

when are we never, but forever now
(hosts of eternity; not guests of seem)
believe me, dear, clocks have enough to do

without confusing timelessness and time.

Time cannot children, poets, lovers tell-
measure imagine, mystery, a kiss
-not though mankind would rather know than feel;

mistrusting utterly that timelessness

whose absence would make your whole life and my
(and infinite our) merely to undie

— e.e. cummings

At the time that Mercury is stationing direct, it is phasis which means in this case it makes its first appearance in our morning sky after having been invisible during the retrograde.  This means that Mercury will be emerging from “under the beams” of the Sun, which generally means it is moving beyond fifteen degrees from the Sun, and our ancients saw this re-appearance in the sky as signifying a vital message.  In a recent episode of the Hermetic Astrology Podcast, Gary Caton used the term “oracular” in tandem with the  “appearance that speaks” made by Jupiter recently emerging from under the beams of the Sun in Virgo.  Oracles have strong association with Mercury, as Hermes was given an oracle from Apollo found under the cliffs of Mount Parnassus on Delphi, driven by three sisters of Fates who feed on honey.  At this oracular phase of its retrograde journey, Mercury will no longer be invisible and will emerge with a flash of light at dawn as a Morning Star. At this moment Mercury will be closely conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Libra, in addition to Mars, the Moon, and Jupiter lined up together in Virgo. Wherever we are, whatever is happening for us at this time will be saturated with the delightful, curious, mischievous, erotic presence of Mercury, and the message transmitted being so closely aligned with the North Node of the Moon means there is an essential and necessary push forward in growth for us to experience in relationship.

Mercury in Libra

Man Ray (1931) Untitled

Morning Star

Following Mercury stationing direct on October 9, Mercury as a Morning Star will no longer be retrograde in motion but will remain in the retrograde shadow zone until October 26.  Demetra George has compared this phase of Mercury’s journey as being similar to Mercury in Gemini, in contrast to her viewpoint that Mercury’s retrograde motion makes it similar to Mercury in Pisces.  At this point Mercury goes through an identity shift that leaves the magical, symbolic, subjectively intuitive mode of the retrograde behind, and transitions into a mindset eager to learn multiple new things with a sense of adventure toward the future.  Mercury in this phase as Morning Star is the friendly, fleet footed messenger who stimulates thoughts, connections, and conversations everywhere travelled.  Mercury with a flash of light heralding sunrise appears as we wake up from the dream world, guiding our thoughts through the haze of morning toward the objectives we need to focus on in the light of day.  This Promethean role of foresight will be played with full aplomb by the clever Mercury in the weeks ahead.

During this phase of Mercury direct and beginning to gain in speed again, Venus finally moves beyond her retrograde shadow zone and glides through the sign of Virgo making a series of crucial aspects.  First, immediately following Mercury stationing direct Venus will square Saturn in Sagittarius on October 10.  Less than a week later, Venus will oppose Neptune in Pisces on October 16,  and then on October 25 when Mercury is emerging from its retrograde shadow zone, Venus will conjunct Jupiter for the third time this year in Virgo.  Meanwhile, Mars in Virgo will also conjunct Jupiter on October 16 at the same time Venus is opposing Neptune, and day by day as we approach the end of October Venus will be getting closer and closer to Mars in Virgo.

Thus as we exit the Mercury retrograde shadow zone, with Mercury direct in Libra, the passions of our relationships will continue to be stirred up as Mercury moves through the sign of Venus and Venus heads for her eventual union with Mars in the sign of Mercury on November 2, 2015 at 25 degrees of Virgo.  The combination of Jupiter, Venus, and Mars in Virgo in this period, purified from the recent retrogrades of both Venus and Mercury, will be a very different affair than the unions of Venus with Jupiter and then Mars that occurred in Leo earlier in the year.  It seems the more we let this Mercury retrograde in Libra lead us where life takes us, knowing that our travels astray will ultimately return us to center again, the more the full range of our experiences can inform this late October, early November timeframe where it appears important work can be crafted from within our mind.  This Mercury retrograde in Libra can help us discover the inner truth that will source our later works to come.

life is more true than reason will deceive
(more secret or than madness did reveal)
deeper is life than lose:higher than have
-but beauty is more each than living’s all

multiplied with infinity sans if
the mightiest meditations of mankind
cancelled are by one merely opening leaf
(beyond whose nearness there is no beyond)

or does some littler bird than eyes can learn
look up to silence and completely sing?
futures are obsolete;pasts are unborn
(here less than nothing’s more than everything)

death, as men call him, ends what they call men
-but beauty is more now than dying’s when

— e.e. cummings

References

cummings, e.e. (1994). Selected Poems. Liveright.

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

Kingsley, Peter. (2003). Reality. The Golden Sufi Center.

Milosz, Czeslaw. (2011). Selected and Last Poems, 1931-2004. HarperCollins.

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini Dream Shifting

A Measure of Dreams (1908) by Arthur B. Davies

—When I die, I will see the lining of the world.

The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.

The true meaning, ready to be decoded.

What never added up will add up,

What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.

−And if there is no lining to the world?

If a thrush on a branch is not a sign,

But just a thrush on the branch?  If night and day

Make no sense following each other?

And on this earth there is nothing except this earth?

−Even if that is so, there will remain

A word wakened by lips that perish,

A tireless messenger who runs and runs

Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies,

And calls out, protests, screams.

Czeslaw Milosz (1991) MEANING

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini

On May 18, a day after a New Moon in Taurus, we enter the second of our thrice yearly Mercury retrograde spells, this one occurring in Gemini.  As the Mercury retrograde periods in 2015 all occur in Air signs, this chapter is significant for being in the mutable sign of Gemini where Mercury makes its home and lifts our minds with winds of inspired language.  Mercury retrogrades are not a time to fear, though being aware that Mercury is setting a different tempo can help us orient to how to make productive use of its potential.  When Mercury appears to move backward from our perspective during its retrograde, it is closer in orbit to us and creates the effect of moving slower.  In correspondence, we gain access to a more magical perception that can decode messages from symbolic patterns in our daily experience.  Following Mercury’s retrograde station, Mercury disappears from our view of it hovering over our horizon and moves into the underworld and the role of guiding us into pivotal inner insights of soul.  In Gemini, Mercury plays up his mischievous trickster side that unveils the folly of those taking themselves too seriously, as well as amplifies our capacity to synthesize a multiplicity of perspectives, philosophies, and observations into shared meaning and unified vision.

Muse,
sing Hermes,
son of Zeus and Maia . . .
. . . [Maia] produced her child,
the very crafty,
the super-subtle
Hermes:
thief,
cattle-rustler,
carrier of dreams,
secret agent,
prowler,
and soon to show his stuff

–from the Homeric Hymn to Hermes

Mercury is the in-between archetype capable of seeing both sides of a duality, while mediating the tension of opposites in order to unify meaning.  Mercury in Gemini has been stereotyped as scattered and distracted, yet this curious mental quality continually finds new connections between concepts superficially viewed as disparate.  Mercury is a phallic god of fertility with a fully developed femininity that can take it beyond gender categories, a networker in the upper world of matter who can descend into the underworld and guide souls toward their next incarnation.  There is a depth to Mercury retrograde that is simultaneously full of humorous and serious exploration.  No one in society can escape the tricks Mercury plays, whether they be the chief executive of a large corporation hoarding societal rewards or an alienated, unemployed drifter struggling to survive from day to day.  When Mercury strikes with his flash of light and clever grin, the joke he pulls on you holds a profound lesson to glean in meaning.

This youthfully handsome, friendly, and thievish guide, who possesses magical golden shoes that transport him over earth and sea and a magical staff with which he puts people to sleep and awakens them again- has he not all the characteristics and attributes of a seductive and lethal guide of souls, the gentle Psychopompos of the later monuments?

–Karl Kerenyi (p. 28) Hermes: Guide of Souls

During this Mercury retrograde from 14° to 5° Gemini, one of the most significant themes is the unveiling of the archetype of Neptune in Pisces.  A little over a week before stationing retrograde, Mercury in Gemini formed a square to Neptune in Pisces, and during it’s retrograde phase Mercury will square Neptune again, ultimately stationing direct in range of a square to Neptune.  The day after Mercury stations direct at 5° Gemini, Neptune will station retrograde at 10° Pisces, leading to Mercury creating a third square with a retrograde Neptune in Pisces after moving direct again. Since Neptune in Pisces represents our collective tapestry of consciousness and the unconscious, the square from Mercury in Gemini can lead us to penetrate into the connective details found in the interwoven threads of meaning within the Neptunian fabric surrounding us.  If we open ourselves to the possibility of shifting our future visions, we can experience a re-alignment that sheds what has been disillusioning and re-centers us on the dreams that are most deeply felt and authentic.

As Mercury is also a boundary marker whose presence at entryways and borders is especially illuminated during Mercury retrograde time periods, it is further significant that Saturn, the planet of boundaries, is also retrograde when Mercury shifts direction and in range of an opposition to both the Sun and Mars.  This very same sense of restriction we could feel from Saturn toward the Sun and Mars at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde is the very fuel Mercury will consume in order to stimulate our thoughts beyond previous limitations:

Archetypally, we can see in the image of Hermes a mythical statement of the psyche’s innate tendency to give definition to perceptual and mental horizons, to mark edges, to define spaces. Originally Hermes stood at the edge of known space . . . His sign marked the limit of consciousness. Beyond the boundary lies the unknown, the uncanny, the dangerous, the unconscious. When markers are created and limits set, however, curiosity and explorativeness are also excited and new spaces for exploration and discovery invite the bold and courageous traveler. If Hermes marks the boundary between conscious and unconscious, we have to realize that this boundary is always shifting and in flux; it is mercurial. Background and foreground may instantaneously reverse too, and generate new perceptions, novel insights.

Within the area of the known, containers take shape which are reserved for specific types of human activity, while beyond them lies the “other,” the foreign (even if only temporarily), the taboo, the forbidden, the unclean. Hermes standing at the boundary marks a psychological and sometimes a moral limit and calls special attention to the space being entered or left. When he first appears, he may create a new space by dividing a vast horizon into the “here” and the “beyond,” and thus he creates both consciousness and a new unconscious. His intervention in the perceptual and psychological field creates new possibilities for consciousness, also new edges and boundaries beyond which lie the mysterious “others.” When he disappears, there is a loss of identity and definition.

— Murray Stein from Hermes and the Creation of Space (1999)

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini passage

Two Trees (1875) by Odilon Redon

When I ran barefoot in our gardens by the river Niewiaza

Something was there, that I didn’t then try to name:

Everywhere, between the trunks of linden trees, on the sunny side of the lawn, on the path by the orchard.

A Presence resided, I didn’t know whose.

The air was full of it, it touched me, it held me close.

It spoke to me through the scents of grass, the flute voice of the oriole, the twitter of swallows.

Had I then been taught the names of gods, I would easily have known their faces.

But I grew up in a Catholic family, and so my surroundings were soon teeming with devils, but also with the saints of the Lord.

Yet in truth I felt their Presence, all of them, gods and demons,

As if rising within one enormous unknowable Being.

Czeslaw Milosz (2002) PRESENCE 

Once Mercury has stationed retrograde he ushers us into a darker, deeper, underworld phase of our path, a stage during which our Mercurial perceptions function most strongly with intuition and symbolic awareness of patterns perceived in our journeys by day as well as at night in our dreams.  We enter a liminal space of shifting speed that slows things down enough to take in a deeper examination of the underlying patterns we have been living from.  This is a time in which our minds can be more free than normal to take in new insight, and we can ultimately emerge from the period with a revitalized perception.  In a Mercury retrograde it matters less that you have constructed a rationally balanced argument to support your position, and matters more that you have described your perspective with poetic imagery that can strike at the hearts of your audience.

Mercury retrograde is also a time of synchronicity, and in this way we are fortunate that this Mercury retrograde in Gemini begins with the Moon applying to a conjunction with Mercury in the sign of the Twins.  The Moon uniting with Mercury at the beginning of the retrograde increases our capacity to orient ourselves to the changes that will be coinciding with the Mercury retrograde and to begin to attune to the meaning that will be taking shape for us.  There is also an expansive quality to the stationing of Mercury found in the sextile between Mercury and Jupiter in Leo, and since Jupiter in Leo is also in trine to Uranus in Aries it signifies that this coming Mercury retrograde could coincide with dramatic breakthroughs in thought that take us to a new level of thinking in whatever realm we have been exploring.  The less we can be tied and bound to rigid, fixed belief systems, and the more we can liberate ourselves from past dogmatic thinking, the better we will be able to access the potential of this Mercury retrograde that appears to be very impressive in the field of creative thought and communication.

The Sun and Mars joining Mercury in Gemini is another important theme, and at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde the Sun and Mars are in range of an opposition to Saturn retrograde in Sagittarius, with Mars separating from an opposition to Saturn and the Sun applying to an opposition with Saturn.  Mars in Gemini is full of mental activity, and it’s inquisitive nature could spark us to intellectually challenge authorities in our field of interest.  Since Saturn in Sagittarius is retrograde, we could experience a de-conditioning from belief systems that have not been authentically resonant for us through exploring exciting new sources of knowledge.  As Mars separates from it’s opposition to Saturn it will begin to form an exact square with Neptune in Pisces, and so this tension can compel us to go deeper into metaphysical study of our subject.  In particular, the combination of Mercury retrograde in Gemini uniting with Mars direct in Gemini will feed our ability to create new categories and definitions of meaning that will both expand and intensify any subject we sustain focus on.  If we are full of hubris or living in an illusion, the square between Mars in Gemini and Neptune in Pisces could result in a great Mercury retrograde joke being played on us that reveals the foolishness of our ways.

Also during the initial phase of Mercury retrograde, transiting Venus in Cancer will claim center stage by triggering the Uranus and Pluto square with an opposition to Pluto in Capricorn and a square to Uranus in Aries.  These stressful, growth-oriented aspects to Venus will give Mercury retrograde a lot of material to work with, and if you are a writer there could be incredible depth to access and process through your craft.  Venus triggering the Pluto and Uranus square will uncover our emotional needs and insecurities we have been overcompensating for in one way or another.  Significant memories could arise to process that connect back to any point within the series of seven squares between Pluto and Uranus that have been in range since 2011.  This is fortuitous in both the healing and creative realms, as memory is a fertile source from which the Mercury retrograde can weave new meaning from the release of old thought forms.  The connection between Mercury with memory and creativity can be found in the Homeric hymn to Hermes, where it is revealed that Hermes is a follower of the Titaness of memory, and mother of muses, Mnemosyne:

Suddenly [Hermes] started playing the lyre
louder, reciting a prelude-
and the sound accompanying him
was lovely-
about the immortal gods
and the dark earth,
how they were in the beginning,
and what prerogatives each one had.
And the first of the gods
that he commemorated with his song
was Mnemosyne, Mother of Muses,
for the son of Maia
was a follower of hers.

–from the Homeric Hymn to Hermes

Mercury Retrograde Inferior Conjunction

Vision (1883) by Odilon Redon

That boundless substance,

different, in any case, from

the flight of a crane, the gait of a tiger,

the underwater gambols of sperm whales.

In dreams I saw cities of gas and metal,

unceasing fabric of the mind.

Music of the spheres, music of violins and flutes.

That, which endures,

while they are born and die.

Higher than the blind energies of matter,

higher than currents running in the body

of eel, piranha, shark, so they may open

their jaws and devour their catch.

A temple full of little gods and demons,

with a vast number of nicknames and tails.

Czeslaw Milosz (2003)

The Inferior Conjunction of Mercury and the Sun in Gemini, the point of conception for a freshly synthesized vision, occurs at 9:56 am Pacific Standard Time on May 30, 2015 at nine degrees of Gemini.  Gemini is one of the mutable, double-bodied signs, perhaps through the image of the twins being the most exemplary sign of the human tendency toward dualistic thinking.  Just like the heaven of connecting with another human we consider to be a kindred spirit, soul mate, twin flame, . . . etc . . . it can be the deeply felt experience of our own personal patterns being mirrored back to us through another that sparks an epiphany of self-realization, and demonstrates how the interplay between twins can coalesce transcendent thought.  At the inferior conjunction we have a magical moment to achieve a one-pointed focus of the unity that holds duality within it, that bridges a multiplicity of meaning to a unified perspective, and that guides us into an insightful realization about our soul and associated patterns.  This is a time to meditate or surrender to Hermes the Psychopomp, as we allow the message of the moment to soak into our core and revivify our perception.

The Sabian Symbol for 9° Gemini where Mercury’s inner union with the Sun occurs is “A QUIVER FILLED WITH ARROWS,” and fittingly had a double meaning to Dane Rudhyar.  On the lower level, this symbol represents the human capacity “to extend the scope of his conquest of nature and kill enemies in order to build a larger base for the collective development of a culture and an organized society” (p. 95).  Since a quiver of arrows suggests the existence of a target to aim at, this symbol also represents the penetrating potential of the human mind to go through the target toward which it aims, destroying the obstacles on its path.  At a higher level, Rudhyar likened this symbol to the “Zen practice of archery” in which “the obstacle is the ego” (p. 95).  The unifying concept of this symbol to Rudhyar is “CONQUEST,” whether it is applied to conquering the external world or the restrictive influence of the ego on our inner world. During this Mercury retrograde, it is best to remember Rudhyar’s conjecture of conquest, as the moment our ego grabs hold of us in order to win a debate at all costs, is the moment that the staff of Hermes could suddenly strike and enfold us in a joke of which we are the punchline.  The more we can sustain a collaborative, creative air between us and those holding sharply contrasting opinions, we will be better able to avoid the pitfalls of dispute that stresses more so than enlivens.  The inspiring potential we find here is that by listening to opinions coming from drastically different perceptions to our own, we can fertilize tremendous growth of knowledge from within.

With the Sun and Mercury exactly conjunct in Gemini and in square to Neptune in Pisces, with Mars in Gemini in sextile to Jupiter in Leo and Uranus in Aries, we have a regenerating, liberating well to drink from within us even though the current events dominating the global stage are filled with instability, violence, discord, and oppression.  An image that comes to my mind in association with the strong Gemini energy of the Sun, Mercury retrograde, and Mars is that of a WITNESS to life in all of its complex depth, a witness who is then willing to serve as a messenger to inform the surrounding society about what is going on in secrecy behind the proverbial locked doors Mercury can open for us.  When we express the full story we are witnessing within and around us, we beam our light into the collective matrix and move others with the emotive, wakening wind of Mercury.

“World” can be a comprehensive idea if as an autonomous entirety it accommodates the observer as if he were moving about in the world he normally is surrounded by.  The world of the Iliad or that of the Odyssey accommodates us in this way.  Every such world, however, is at the same time a worked-out idea of the world that existed already prior to this expression of it and that lent itself to the finished expression of the idea.  There can be no “world”- even if it is the purely spiritual epiphany of an intellectually luminous god- which is not “worldly,” that is, which does not function as a space to contain the content of the revelation in a fitting way.  If a god is “idea” and “world,” he remains nonetheless in connection with the world that contains all such “worlds”; he can be only an “aspect of the world” while the world of which he is an aspect possesses such idea-aspects. Indeed, it has the ability to shine forth in its totality as idea, it possesses the light of the idea, and is itself in its own way lighted and clear . . . “Light” and “clear” in the sense of “world-like” – and therefore convincing – could also be the idea of Hermes.

— Karl Kerenyi (p. 69) Hermes:  Guide of Souls

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini stationing direct

Germination by Odilon Redon (1890-96)

To find my home in one sentence, concise, as if hammered in metal. Not to enchant anybody. Not to earn a lasting name in prosperity. An unnamed need for order, for rhythm, for form, which three words are opposed to chaos and nothingness.

Czeslaw Milosz (1981-1983)

After Mercury separates from its inner merging with the Sun, the Sun moves on to initiate a conjunction with Mars in Gemini, as Mercury begins its shifting ways again and starts to station direct. The Sun conjoining Mars in Gemini constellates images of a warrior of words, a passionate poet, an intellectual activist who refuses to collude with oppressive powers and instead expresses her voice in defiance to surrounding injustice.  The Sun-Mars conjunction in Gemini as Mercury stations direct germinates our desires with inquisitive thoughts that can reveal new meaning for us through the juxtapositions of language and philosophies we encounter.  At the same time the Sun and Mars are coming together in Gemini, Mercury is stationing direct in range of a square to Neptune that is also stationing retrograde simultaneously.  We have had four years so far to experience the meaning of Neptune in Pisces by transit, and in the first couple of weeks in June 2015 we can receive illumination of any Neptunian illusions that have been sourcing our conditioned beliefs.  As an illusion of Neptune is unveiled, in the winged steps of Mercury we will be able to experience a sharper sense of clarity and direction to follow forward.

In this final phase of the Mercury retrograde cycle in Gemini, one of the most significant transits is the ingress of Venus into the fiery, solar sign of Leo during the first week of June.  Venus in Leo ignites a creative actualization of the mental contents the Mercury retrograde has been brewing, and by the time Mercury stations direct Venus in Leo will have passed through a beautiful sextile to Mercury in Gemini.  There is a potent re-integration available at this upcoming stationing direct of Mercury at five degrees of Gemini, that can unbind and untether us from restrictive thought patterns.  This potential release can be seen in the transits of the Moon conjoining Uranus in Aries at the time of Mercury stationing direct, with the Moon-Uranus conjunction in Aries being in sextile to the Sun-Mars conjunction in Gemini and in trine to the Jupiter-Juno conjunction in Leo.  Within this magical mix of astrological aspects, Mercury will arise from the underworld at dawn and with a flash of light illuminate our waking horizon as our Morning Star again.

Hermes, draw near, and to my pray’r incline,
Angel of Jove, and Maia’s son divine;
Prefect of contest, ruler of mankind,
With heart almighty, and a prudent mind.
Celestial messenger of various skill,
Whose pow’rful arts could watchful Argus kill.
With winged feet ’tis thine thro’ air to course,
Emblems of Mercury O friend of man, and prophet of discourse;
Great life-supporter, to rejoice is thine
In arts gymnastic, and in fraud divine.
With pow’r endu’d all language to explain,
Of care the loos’ner, and the source of gain.
Whose hand contains of blameless peace the rod,
Corucian, blessed, profitable God.
Of various speech, whose aid in works we find,
Emblems of Mercury And in necessities to mortals kind.
Dire weapon of the tongue, which men revere,
Be present, Hermes, and thy suppliant hear;
Assist my works, conclude my life with peace,
Give graceful speech, and memory’s increase.

–from the Orphic Hymn translated from the Greek by Thomas Taylor (1824)

MercuryStationRetroWRIGC2A

MercuryInferiorConjunctWRIGC1A

MercuryStationDirectWRIGC3

References

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

Milosz, Czeslaw. (2011). Selected and Last Poems, 1931-2004. HarperCollins.

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

Stein, Murray. (1999).  Hermes and the Creation of Space.

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

moonrise

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

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

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

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

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

MercuryRetroStationWRIGC7

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

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

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

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

black-in-deep-red-1957

Black in Deep Red (1957) by Mark Rothko

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

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

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

Mercury-SunconjunctionWRIGC8

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

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

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

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Moon Woman (1942) by Jackson Pollock

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

Demetra George:  Hermes Guardian of Thresholds

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)

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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.

Mercury retrograde: a forest dark in liminal twilight

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Yaroslav Gerzhedovich

“I go along dreaming roads of the twilight”

Antonio Machado

Between thought and expression, between the colors of the sunset and the eye of the beholder, in the liminal light of twilight we feel the atmosphere of Mercury retrograde.  Mercury retrograde is a three week period in which we can surrender to opening our awareness beyond our usual habitual reactions, interfacing with our environment in different ways that surprise us.  Mercury retrograde is the magical air we feel on our skin when we watch the sun disappear on the horizon with shifting hues, the shifting frame of perspective that invites epiphanies.  In astrology, the setting sun is also a symbol for a death of self-absorption through the meeting of another in relationship or partnership.  On October 4, 2014 Mercury will station retrograde at 3° of Scorpio (a sign of soul relationship), and move all the way back to 17° of Libra (a sign of social relations and social justice) on October 25, 2014.  If we include the “shadow zone” before the retrograde station and following the stationing direct, between September 15 and November 10, 2014 Hermes is guiding us to a deepening of self-knowledge through our interactions with our environment and every relationship formed.

Mercury stationing retrograde in Scorpio draws us into a spiral of Desire.  Whether you have or have not already felt yourself pulled into an intense gravity of focus, an object or other drawing forth a surge of yearning from within, it will happen, and it will continue to be felt with expanding intensity in the weeks ahead.  All the consequences of desire, all the lessons learned from wanting something out of reach, the questions dawning once we finally reach, acquire, or merge with our craving, will be part of our experience traversing through not only a Mercury retrograde, but a particularly shattering Lunar Eclipse and Solar Eclipse.  Unless we have somehow done the miraculous work of lining our life up so that we are completely available to the focus of our desire, we will also come across all the limitations and habitual reactions of our past mind-frame restricting our ability to respond fully to the present passion.  If you want to use astrology to help discern the nature of your desire, look in your chart to what house holds the first few degrees of Scorpio, and what aspects these degrees make in your chart.  You can also then move clockwise in your chart to the middle of Libra and see what additional house or aspects in your chart will be further impacted as the Mercury retrograde continues.

Research on habits has supported that the easiest time to break a habit is on vacation.  This theory revolves around the concept that on holiday in a new environment, all the familiar surroundings we partially fixate our identity around are gone, the triggers of our habit have been removed, and we are more vulnerable to initiating a new pattern of behavior.  This same concept goes well with Mercury retrograde:  even though all of our usual triggers will still be in place, the atmosphere invites a different response to them. Additionally, as this retrograde cycle is initiated in Scorpio, there is potential for a death of old reactive patterns.  Scorpio has the courage to enter the darkness where the past can be felt to our deepest core, without our usual defense mechanisms operating in the light of day.  In this darkness our inability to possess or be present with the desire we yearn for burns from within with such magnitude that a release of past attachments can occur that ultimately opens us up to the real possibility of having or merging with our desire in the future. In Scorpio, the phoenix pulls us through the fear of abandonment, the terror of the focus of our past sense of security being destroyed, and Mercury stationing here facilitates the integration of the dualities within us like the light and the dark, the conscious and unconscious, in order to synthesize the birth of a new identity or presence in the world.

Virginia Woolf contemplated this same concept when she wrote, “The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be, I think,” in a journal entry on January 18, 1915.  This journal entry of Woolf’s was analyzed in a lovely essay by Rebecca Solnit entitled Woolf’s Darkness: Embracing the Inexplicableas well as the following:

The evening hour, too, gives us the irresponsibility which darkness and lamplight bestow. We are no longer quite ourselves. As we step out of the house on a fine evening between four and six, we shed the self our friends know us by and become part of that vast republican army of anonymous trampers, whose society is so agreeable after the solitude of one’s own room. For there we sit surrounded by objects which enforce the memories of our own experience. But when the door shuts on us, all that vanishes. The shell-like covering which our souls have excreted to house themselves, to make for themselves a shape distinct from others, is broken, and there is left of all these wrinkles and roughnesses a central pearl of perceptiveness, an enormous eye.   —Virginia Woolf

This idea Virginia Woolf journaled about, that to close the door on the attachment of our possessions, to walk the streets in twilight among strangers, is an opening of our personality to the limitless depth of soul.  Mercury retrograde is likewise an opportunity to go for an evening walk under a canopy of dark trees, above a network of deep roots, into an awakening of who we are and where we desire to go.

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Yaroslav Gerzhedovich

With those we share our most intimate essence with, there will be a more ardent interchange than usual, leading to an intensification in interaction that could be chaotic yet essentially revealing if we can avoid becoming so wrapped up in melodrama that we block our capacity to discern meaning.  We do not want to be afraid of the dark, because there will be no avoiding the shadow or the dark night of the soul necessary to birth the insight we desperately need to actualize our purest passions.  If there is anything we have been consciously avoiding from past relationships, the time of denial will be over as there will be no escape from suppressed thoughts and feelings emerging that will demand our attention.

“Love goes toward love” William Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet, and when we fall enflamed in our heart’s rapture, we can feel like Romeo musing about Juliet, that the Other we desire is a “Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!”  It seems that as much as we project and idealize an illusion in romantic folly, we negate a true desire of our soul for a love that terrifies us as much as it enchants our wildest passions.  This is because great love dissolves and destroys our former sense of self, and we change and shift in the embrace of true love.  Or, if we risk taking on the transformation of love, the work needed to sustain a relationship lovingly further challenges our sense of self, as it involves making compromises and listening to the needs of the Other.  We get used to focusing on our old needs like a bad habit, instead of opening to how these needs can shift in every moment, guided by the wholeheartedness of desire.  Since Mercury retrograde can facilitate shifting habits out of a changing place of perspective, we can realize which relationships we truly desire to focus on going forward, and cultivate the faculty needed for our mind to respond to the arising needs associated with our yearning.

Since Mercury will move from the beginning of Scorpio back into the heart of Libra, and then forward again back into Scorpio, we will feel a surging ebb and flow of subconscious shadow in all of our relationships.  In the eye of the present partner we may catch a glimpse of a childhood emotion, in a conversation with a passing passerby we may hear the echo of an issue that feels like it has been with us for an eternity.  If we open to this process, there is something deep within to unearth through dialogue and attention to the needs of our relationships.  In this way while our desires may be pulling us into a space of new perception, another major meaning of this Mercury retrograde will be Power.  Where, when, and with whom do we feel powerful, where, when, and to whom do we give our power away, and how can we find the balance of feeling secure in our own power yet interacting with others so that we are not overpowering them or projecting our issues of power on to them.

In addition, Mercury stationing at the beginning of Scorpio means that there are three generations of people on our planet right now who may be especially impacted subconsciously:  those with Neptune at the beginning of Scorpio (1956-58), those with Uranus at the beginning of Scorpio (1974-76), and those with Pluto at the beginning of Scorpio (1983-85).  As there will additionally be a potent Solar Eclipse occurring at the end of October in these same degrees, right now with Mercury stationing retrograde at the beginning of Scorpio is a tremendous opportunity to sense what some of the coming changes may center around.

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Yaroslav Gerzehedovich

In the space of retrograde Mercury we can be more sensitive to signs, symbols, and omens in our environment.  While our relationships with other humans will come into play, it will also be about our relationship with the world. The more we take the  “I-Thou” relationship of honoring the soulful nature of everything in our environment, and less the “I-It” relationship of viewing our surroundings as resources to meet our own needs, the more we will be able to recognize and realize the significant meaning this Mercury retrograde is bringing into our life.  There is a good chance we will feel upside down, with our emotions in total disarray as our old identity and attachments dissolve within a liminal state.  In this in-between we can find our way through reading the symbols and signs around us and balance within the flow of the life streaming in front of us.

In the next month there will be obvious events and conversations that we know are pivotal; there will also be less obvious symbols surrounding us with a message to integrate if we keep our awareness open to them.  Let the Mercury retrograde allow information to come in that you would normally rationalize away, and see where it takes you.  Here below is a chart for Mercury stationing retrograde: MercuryRetrogradeWRIGC1 Uranus in Aries being involved in both a grand fire trine with Jupiter in Leo and Mars in Sagittarius, and a t-square with the Sun and Pluto, means that there is something especially Uranian about Mercury stationing retrograde.  This is also a plutonic Mercury full of explosive energy that can blow up our previous perception of our world and what is occurring within it.  Meanwhile, there is also a huge uplifting, dynamic energy that can synthesize meaning from both our impulses and our experience and weave them together into a tapestry that can seemingly transport us into a deeper dimension of perception, not unlike the magic carpets of fairy tales.  The ticket for entry into this process involves a willingness to go into the dark and persist through fears or feelings of dissolution.

Just as Mercury is plutonic now, so is Mars, as the red planet of desire is in a balsamic phase with Pluto. Mars is a centaur bounding forward from a source of strong desire that will help us expand beyond previous confinements created from our conditioned personality.  Yet the expansive energy of Mars in a grand fire trine with Jupiter and Uranus will also be catalyzing us within the fluctuating back and forth of old desires arising to be released or re-integrated as new desires emerge from our inner fire.   With Saturn and Ceres closely conjunct in Scorpio, and Mercury stationing retrograde in Scorpio, our structural source will generate a Mercurial mediation into our depths and the death of an old identification.  This is a time of becoming unbound amid disintegration, as Mars will take us deeper into our desires stirred by a Lunar Eclipse and Solar Eclipse, each of which is further ruled by Mars.  A chart for the Lunar Eclipse in Aries is below, a polarizing lunation in which Uranus is also prominently conjunct the brilliant Moon:

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Mercury will be descending into the underworld in Scorpio at the Lunar Eclipse, as the eclipse occurs around the time of Mercury’s heliacal set at sunset in which it disappears below the earth, becoming invisible.  This is truly an extraordinary leap of a Lunar Eclipse managed by the structure of Ceres and Saturn united in the fertile darkness of Scorpio.  Fittingly, the timing of this eclipse goes well with this being the initiation of the most magical of all the Mercury phases, the time in which Mercury becomes more of a mystical guide into our inner realm.  This is the phase in which we can be more receptive to signs, omens, and symbols, and we can receive information intuitively more easily than rationally explain anything.  In this time of Mercury as the Magician, Hermes guides us through accumulating and then releasing our old patterns of thought in preparation for a new vision.  I don’t mean to suggest this will be smooth sailing for our Hermetic navigator, however, as Venus in Libra is in a harsh last quarter square to Pluto at this eclipse, adding additional climatic intensity of outer events forcing profound inner reflection.

There is an imaginal link between this Lunar Eclipse and a High Priestess using her Dark Moon envisioning skills within the brilliance of a Full Moon Eclipse.  Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, has a rarely discussed link to the Aries II decan where the Lunar Eclipse is occurring.  In the “Tables of Correspondence” in 36 Faces by Austin Coppock, it is listed that Persephone is the God/Spirit connected to the Aries II decan in the Hellenistic text translated as The 36 Airs of the Zodiac.  Although Persephone is not mentioned in Austin Coppick’s analysis of Aries II, Coppock did give the following description of this decan that is befitting the Queen of Spirit:

Applied magically, this decan has tremendous power. It is the power to generate the world of your choosing, and to be its sovereign.  It is the key to creating pocket realities which do not obey the laws of the collective reality field in which they exist. — Austin Coppock

Eclipses are known to throw everything into disarray, and are not known to be times best for laying carefully designed plans.  Yet this eclipse is so full of break-through aspects and force that it seems an air of liberation will be part of the chaotic atmosphere.  It will be a time of sensing the power within a polarity of feelings, integrating the subconscious with the conscious, and owning our authority to heal the previous fracturing of our soul like Persephone.  This will be a time to believe in our capacity to create a life aligned with our deepest soulful passions more so than the expectations of the consensus reality dominating our environment.

MercuryInferiorConjunctWRIGC1

The inferior conjunction of Mercury is a magical moment in which Mercury aligns with the Sun, in between our orbit and the fiery center of our solar system.  This is a moment in which Hermes transmits a message from Spirit to us, and with Mercury in Libra we will have information to integrate about the Other our Self is in relationship with.  However, Libra is not only about social relations but also social justice.  As usual, there have been many stories involving oppression in the news and many traumatic events occurring around us whose story is untold by anyone other than the participants.  What is frightening about our world is all of the abuse not covered by the media, that people suffer in isolation without anyone to reach out to for help.  I do not mean to suggest that this Mercury inferior conjunction in Libra will be some sort of magic pill to heal all the societal ills in the world, but I do suggest that a window of insight will open giving us a very deep look into the source of our collective trauma and oppression.

Nonetheless, this inferior conjunction will also be about our personal relationships and intimate partnerships, as the Leo Moon will be conjunct Juno and Venus, Mercury, and the Sun will all be conjunct in Libra.  The insight we can gain will have something to do with all of the underworld mythology involving the pursuit of love and desire.  Most of the stories involving a mythic figure being capable of descending to the underworld and back involve the character having such a powerful desire of love that they manage to somehow survive:  Persephone, Psyche, Dionysus, Orpheus, Inanna, Ishtar, and Isis.  We may be rocked and rolled over from where want and lust lead us, or from the desire and passion we attempt to repress or suppress, but in the end there is a more wholehearted sense of self in relationship to gain.

SolarEclipseWRIGC3

This solar eclipse conjunct Venus at the beginning of Scopio is happening close to the same time as the Superior Conjunction of Venus with the Sun.  This is Venus as Inanna following her descent into the underworld, and these Scorpio aspects bring to mind the Dark Goddess who will be with us during an especially intense balsamic moon phase leading up to this solar eclipse.  In contrast to Mercury who is close to rising again at dawn as a morning star, Venus is on her way to becoming an evening star.  The future promise of Venus rising again in our night skies with her brilliant white light is an apt symbol for inspiration that will eventually arise out of our current darkness, no matter the difficulties and disorientation we experience at this time.

Traditionally Mars is also ruling this eclipse, and in modern rulership Pluto in Capricorn is ruling it.  Either way, with Mercury stationing direct in the underworld at this time in Libra, and so ruled by Venus at the heart of her descent, this is a Solar Eclipse taking us into our core inner world.  Change will come from within this core, sourced by our deepest desire, as we begin re-integrating the messages and information received from this Mercury retrograde cycle.  It is an excellent time to set an intention for who and what we want to magnetize and attract into our life going forward from the inner vibration we are cultivating. However, this time will not just be about ourselves and our inner world, as this eclipse has clear aspects indicating a huge impact from the relationships in our life.  Out of the challenging and uplifting experiences of this time, there appears to be a sharper sense of our essential nature to realize and embody.

MercuryDirectWRIGC4

As Mercury finally stations direct, he turns to re-ascend to the upper world as a morning star harbinger of dawn.  Hermes welcomes a new reality for us now, symbolized by Venus in Scorpio entering a new phase with the Sun, symbol of our Spirit. In addition, Pallas Athena in Scorpio remains conjunct Venus as Mercury stations, a sign that we could have greater access than normal to the ingenious insight available from Mercury stationing direct.  The important quality to access the wisdom available here is honesty, and a willingness to take responsibility to both nurture our own needs linked to our desire, as well as listen to and respect the needs of others we are in relationship with.

Amazingly in epic proportion, there will be a lunar occultation of Saturn in Scorpio occurring as Mercury stations direct, and following Mercury stationing direct the Moon will move on to a conjunction with Ceres. The myth of Persephone and Ceres seems strong in these symbols, and the compromise that Ceres managed to create enabling her to have her desire fulfilled of spending time with her daughter for half a year.  This desire did not come easy, and followed inner disorientation, outer torment, and soul searching from the goddess.  Yet as this myth served as a vehicle for rituals of epiphany in ancient times, there was also an inner revelation revealed, and so will there will be for us.

Mercury will leave the shadow zone on November 10, 2014 at a time that Venus will be conjunct Saturn in Scorpio and Mars will be conjunct Pluto in Capricorn.  As Mercury moves forward through Libra, focus on re-integrating all of the messages gained regarding our desires, relationships, and sense of self within relationships.  The astrology of this time suggest there is something profound to build and cultivate from the rumination of our inner mind.

Inanna_Dumuzi

Inanna and Dumuzi

References

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

Muchado, Antonio. (1902). Soledades. Translated by Eugenio Florit.

Solnit, Rebecca. (2014).  Woolf’s Darkness: Embracing the Inexplicable. The New Yorker. 24 April 2014.

Mercury retrograde in Cancer and Gemini: in Moon and Mind

Mercury bronze

Mercury (bronze, early 16th century, Italian), The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • May 23, 2014:  Mercury enters retrograde shadow zone of 24°23′ Gemini

  • June 7:  Mercury stations retrograde at 3°10′ Cancer

    • Mercury stations retrograde in trine to Neptune stationing retrograde in Pisces (Neptune stations June 9)

  • June 12/13:  Full Moon at 22°06′ of Gemini–Sagittarius

    • Venus in Taurus opposes Saturn retrograde in Scorpio exactly two minutes before the exact Full Moon in Sagittarius

  • June 17:  Mercury re-enters the sign of Gemini

  • June 19:  Inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun at 29° Gemini

  • June 21:  SOLSTICE

  • June 26:  Lunar occultation of Mercury as Mercury leaves combustion zone

  • June 27:  New Moon at 5°37′ of Cancer

  • July 1:  Mercury stations direct at 24°23′ Gemini

  • July 12: Full Moon at 20°03′ of Cancer–Capricorn

  • July 13:  Mercury re-enters the sign of Cancer

  • July 16, 2014:  Mercury moves beyond it’s retrograde stationing degree

Mercury retrograde time periods have gained a fearful notoriety in popular culture despite being an astrological gift we can enjoy with pleasure three times a year, in order to re-focus, re-tune, and re-integrate the interplay between our thoughts and expression, for a release from our previous patterns of perception.  Just as there are multiple intelligences, there are multiple levels of perceptual and communicative awareness: even though our business/economy obsessed global culture (that has been dominating other cultural mindsets for centuries) attempts to demand linear and efficiently rushed communication more focused upon punctuality than quality, it does not mean that it is the perceptual and communicative mindset we are meant to function through at all times in our lives.  Indeed, planetary cycles such as the Mercury retrograde phase demand that we have a lunar ability to embrace a new phase, or suffer the consequences.  Perhaps the popular culture fear of Mercury retrograde cycles come from, in the end, the manipulative plutocratic agents dominating our culture who do not like the general populace becoming more watery and reflective, and harder to control as a result.

This particular Mercury retrograde is fascinating in the context of the major astrological cycles of 2014.  For example, there is a clear link between this Mercury retrograde cycle and the one that occurred earlier this year in February:  then, Mercury stationed retrograde conjunct Neptune in Pisces, and now, Mercury stationed retrograde in Cancer in a trine to Neptune in Pisces.  Since Neptune is also in the midst of stationing retrograde right now, it means that we have an especially Neptunian Pisces retrograde cycle of Mercury to explore once again.  The year of 2014 has brought forth a series of transits capable of facilitating everything from a shift to complete liberation of past patterns, as we have had a Venus retrograde, Mercury retrograde, Mars retrograde, Cardinal Grand Cross, eclipses, and the fifth of the exact first quarter squares between Pluto and Uranus.  To receive a Mercury retrograde at this time is a blessing enabling us to reflect upon the first half of this year of shifting, in order for us to break free with clarified focus into uncharted territory in July, August, and September.

Mercury delivering Bacchus

Bacchus as a child given by Mercury to the care of the Nymphs (Andrea Procaccini, The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Mercury is the psychopomp who can transgress boundaries, move from the upper world to the underworld and back again in order to save and guide souls.  In myth Hermes/Mercury transports the infant Dionysus/Bacchus, the divine child at risk of being murdered, into the safety of nymphs who raise the child in disguise as a girl.  In line with this myth as metaphor for this Mercury retrograde, we can imagine our own divine inner child in our core surrounded by loving nymphs, nurtured to grow into an authentic presence that expresses our essential nature without inhibition.  While it is important to learn a healthy sense of boundaries as we grow up, we can also restrict ourselves into rigid categories of our culture such as swirl around concepts like gender. The fact Hermes took Dionysus to be raised as a girl in secret by nymphs connects with the Mercurial willingness to use deception and mystery if necessary to work the Mercurial magic of mediating a sense of the in-between, unifying opposites into wholeness.  Mercury can be at its most secretive and magical during it’s initial descent into the underworld in the week and a half before its inferior conjunction, acting as a magician capable of uniting the light and dark aspects of our psyche together.  During the first half of this year we may have felt yearning for an identity or sense of self beyond the boundaries of recent cultural conditioning we have been living within.  If we have any lingering fears or trepidations around this new direction for ourselves, this current Mercury retrograde cycle can help us separate  from recent limiting thought patterns in order to re-connect with the essential seed we wish to keep and plant,  like  finding our divine inner child we can raise to take great risk in our outer environment during the second half of 2014.

Children are magical, fantastic, and imaginal and yet many of us lose touch with this primary part of our nature as we become conditioned through growing up in our society.    When Mercury slows into its retrograde motion, the linear and logical modes of communication we learned as adults do not function as smoothly, and instead the world of dreams, omens, intuition, hunches, and imaginal divination we are more connected with in childhood come to the forefront.  Demetra George has taught that the phase of Mercury’s retrograde journey into the underworld in order to reunite with the Sun at the inferior conjunction is similar to Mercury in Pisces, a placement that in traditional astrology has the fun label of being in both detriment and fall.  Sure, if you want to create an orderly, logical, rational, hyper organized academic essay at this time focused like a laser on a well-crafted thesis statement, this phase of Mercury may not be the best for you.  But who would want to be writing or reading something like that all the time?  Instead, if you want to enjoy passionate and poetic language that evokes the senses and emotions on such a deep level that it can be a struggle to imagine which particular words can best capture the feeling aroused in you, this phase of Mercury will reward you.  During this Mercury retrograde in particular, with Neptune in Pisces stationing retrograde at the same time, we will feel the pull to dive into the inner realm of our unconscious, perhaps even our collective unconscious, into the magic of dreams and divination, into awareness of symbols surrounding us like signs guiding our intuition forward along a mysterious path unfolding step by step.

2 of cups by pixie

2 of Cups image by “Pixie,” Pamela Colman Smith

The stationing Mercury of this time is in Cancer, a sign ruled by the Moon.  Demetra George has taught that the time of Mercury descending into the underworld during its retrograde phase is like the Balsamic phase of the Moon where we enter a liminal space of past thought patterns dissolving as a new vision of an emerging self prepares to be born at the inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun.  In astrology, the Moon is the luminary and Mercury the personal planet with the strongest connection to our mind, to the connection between our thoughts, our response to events and relationships in our environment, and our manner of navigating our world through communication.  This particular Mercury retrograde has a deeply dark moon feel to it that could feel disorienting with Neptune stationing simultaneously, and yet by transit we will actually be experiencing a waxing Moon becoming Full during the first week of this Mercury retrograde cycle.  Indeed, less than a week after Mercury stations retrograde we will experience a powerful Full Moon on June 12/13 that occurs literally two minutes after an exact opposition between Venus in Taurus and Saturn retrograde in Scorpio.  If we can go within to search for the insights beginning to rise from our personal underworld during this initiatory time of the Mercury retrograde, we may find them lit up in sharp relief with lunar luminosity at the time of the Full Moon this week.

This deliciously complex mix of astrological energy connects well to me with the fact that Mercury stationed retrograde in this cycle in the first decan of Cancer, a decan connected to the 2 of Cups in tarot.  In the image of the 2 of Cups above by Pamela Colman Smith, we can synchronistically even notice a Mercurial caduceus ascending from the cups of  lovers in mirror image, evoking the alchemical nature of the sign Gemini that Mercury will re-enter as part of this retrograde cycle.  According to the astrologer, magician, and alchemist Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, the first decan of Cancer has the image of a crowned young Virgin full of love, and indeed the 2 of Cups like the first decan of Cancer has become associated with the union of masculine and feminine energy into harmony and pleasure, and the manifestation of love.  And yet, there is also a warning in this card and decan that connects to a stationing Neptune, in that new attraction can also be full of folly and lead to great dissipation of energy.  Since Venus in Taurus will oppose a retrograde Saturn in Scorpio at the same time as a Full Moon in Gemini and Sagittarius a week into the Mercury retrograde, we will be forced to confront any illusory aspects of our developing passions and calling.  Mercury being retrograde in the first decan of Cancer at the time of the Full Moon opposition between Venus in Taurus and Saturn in Scorpio is a perfect tool for mediating the polarity into a unified sense of greater wholeness in our being. Since this is a Full Moon occurring during the magician phase of Mercury’s journey into our underworld, we have the capacity to use imagination and vision disciplined into the focused depth of Saturn in Scorpio to bring form to the Venusian values that will delight our body and mind.  In any event this can be a powerful time of an alchemical merging within ourselves, a re-tuning for our heroic self to begin to emerge with a new vision during this Mercury retrograde cycle.

The degree of Mercury’s stationing in Cancer points to the vital importance of heroic discernment at this time to trust the calling of our soul, and to refuse to pull back from our calling out of fear.  According to Dane Rudhyar in his Astrological Mandala book of Sabian Symbols:

Cancer 4 keynote: An attempt at self-justification

We are still involved in the results of an act which brought about a radical reorientation of one’s life . . . A multitude of lesser decisions inevitably follows the big and grand gestures of repudiation and realignment.  The desires of the body still drown the voice of the “new man.”  One argues with oneself, hoping to convince oneself that the old impulses are still legitimate (p. 112).

Again, just as Hermes delivered the infant Dionysus to be mothered by nymphs in order to save his life, so we will also need to intuit during this Mercury retrograde how to nurture the seeds of our liberation from past limitations we found during the intense eclipses and Cardinal Grand Cross of the past couple of months.  It is human nature at times like this to talk ourselves out of embodying a new presence, to fear the disorientation of the new and have the urge to remain in the familiar patterns of the past.  Yet, if we can allow what is rising from our imaginal nature at this time to begin to take form in our mind and thought processes, we will have the opportunity for an epiphany of what needs to be cut away and what needs to be kept to create the life we want to live-  Saturn retrograde in Scorpio through its full confrontation with Venus in Taurus will help make what is not nourishing our growth obvious.

Symbolically, we will in fact be heading for what Dane Rudhyar called a “crisis in consciousness” at the inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun on June 19, as the inferior conjunction occurs at the same time as a Last Quarter Moon in Pisces that squares the conjunction of Mercury and the Sun.  This Lunar phase can be about disillusionment, especially so with a Pisces Moon squaring a Gemini Sun, and a sense of discontent in the realization of old, limiting thought patterns that are hindering the evolution of our consciousness and need to be released so our mind can midwife the new vision developing in our soul’s womb.  In particular, the last quarter moon phase highlights the conditioning of our culture and place of birth as a target for self-questioning and skepticism, in order to discern what thought patterns we will want to destroy at this time and which ones we want to re-integrate into our developing new vision.  The sabian symbol for 29 degrees of Gemini of “the first mockingbird of Spring” speaks to our ability to shift feeling of discontent at this time into artistry such as song and music, weaving our emotions into melodious sounds that transform frustration into love and beauty.  Dane Rudhyar analyzed this symbolic degree of the inferior conjunction as “the reaction of the individual who has become sensitive to many life currents in his environment and who is able to exteriorze this welling up response as a gift to his society, displaying VIRTUOSITY” (p. 108).  If we are already working on developing a particular craft or art form to express ourselves, this will be a perfect time for a final re-tunement; instead, if we are only at a point of discovering what exactly we wish to focus on to develop, this is a perfect time to eliminate thought patterns getting in our way of following through on a new passion and to set an intention to devote ourselves toward cultivating our calling, whatever it is.

athena and hermes

Athena and Hermes (?), German engraving, 19th Century, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Another archetypal figure facilitating a heroic journey for us, in tandem with Mercury, is Pallas Athene.  At the time of Mercury stationing retrograde, Pallas Athene is in Virgo in sextile to Mercury and in opposition to stationing Neptune in Pisces, becoming exactly opposite Neptune at the same time that Neptune stations retrograde on June 10, 2014.  Amazingly, Pallas Athene was also opposite Neptune in Pisces last November of 2013 following the intense eclipses and fourth square between Pluto and Uranus in this cycle, just as now Pallas Athene after a retrograde journey earlier this year returns to once again oppose Neptune in Pisces following another intense eclipse season and the fifth square between Pluto and Uranus in this cycle.  In tandem with Mercury and Neptune stationing at the same time, clearly something is up here.

It pleases Pallas Athene to be in Virgo, a zodiac sign with strong associations to her archetype.  In myth, Pallas Athene has already proven herself worthy of defeating Neptune/Poseidon as they each competed to be the ruler of Athens and Pallas Athene won through her gift of the olive tree that was selected for its beauty and functionality, its practical use in healing, shelter, and other expressions that benefit society. Similarly, Pallas Athene being in Virgo at this time also lends us a powerful archetypal tool-set to utilize in our personal and collective projects, inspiring in us a sharpened focus to penetrate to the core of any issue we are facing.  In opposition to Neptune in Pisces, however, she must be careful of delusion and illusion, falling under the influence of blind faith or an inability to distinguish between what is real and unreal in our environment. Yet, these potential pitfalls of Neptune being in opposition to Pallas Athene are the exact sort of obstacles that Pallas Athene being in Virgo is equipped to combat: in Virgo, according to Demetra George, Pallas Athene has an “analytical perception” that can sense “the essence of things in their simplest forms apart from the surrounding superfluous complications,” like “separating the wheat from the chaff” or “the wisdom of discrimination” (page 103).  This is perfect symbology to utilize during a Mercury retrograde phase in which we can uncover what is true to our nature and what is false, to plant at this time of Solstice to later reap for personal and collective benefit.

bronze herm

Bronze Herm, ca 490 B.C., Greek, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Demetra George has lectured on the connection of the Mercury and Hermes archetype with the heap of stones called “Herms” in ancient times that marked grave mounds, eventually becoming landmarks in a time without roads to guide and protect travelers.  Just as the Herm guided the living toward their journey as well as toward their dead, so Hermes became a god of boundaries:  an archetype marking the boundaries of roads between cities and villages, the boundaries between the sacred and profane, and the boundaries between the living and the dead.  Fittingly, this current Mercury retrograde marks the boundary between the shifting of the first half of 2014 and the unfoldment of the second half of 2014.

In particular, this Mercury retrograde re-connects us with the transits involved in the Cardinal Grand Cross of April 2014, allowing us a final re-integration of the changes wrought in our life from that time period.  The inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun happens just before the June Solstice point, and the Mercury retrograde cycle holds within it the return of Mars in Libra moving direct to re-engage for the last time Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries.  Indeed, just after the Full Moon of June 12/13 that happens at the same time as Venus in Taurus opposes Saturn in Scorpio, there will be the final square between Mars in Libra and Pluto in Capricorn on June 14.  This final square in this cycle between Mars in Libra and Pluto in Capricorn happening just after a Full Moon could be explosive, but since we have already experienced this aspect twice already in the past seven months, the third time could also truly be the charm.  This time we will more clearly have the opportunity to overcome the frustrating aspect of this last quarter square dynamic between these two heavy hitters, as past confrontations since the end of 2013 have probably already helped us eliminate many aspects of our life not serving our authentic will-force.  Now following a glowing Full Moon with a harsh opposition between Scorpio Saturn and Taurus Venus that will further focus us on what we do and do not want in our life, we can use the Mercury retrograde timing of this final square to make a final release of negative past thought patterns in order to make our pure intuition more fully accessible moving forward.

Then, at the end of the Mercury retrograde cycle when Mercury is beginning to station direct, Mars in Libra will oppose Uranus in Aries on June 25.  In stark contrast to the square between Mars and Pluto in this Mercury retrograde cycle occurring after a Full Moon, this opposition between Uranus and Mars will occur in a Balsamic Moon phase.  The similarity to the square between Mars and Pluto in this Mercury retrograde cycle, however, is the fact that this aspect will electrify the old thought patterns we wish to discard during this Mercury retrograde, making what needs to be released in our mind more obvious.  Yet since this opposition between Mars and Uranus occurs during a balsamic moon, we will feel more in the mystery of it all, a little more like fumbling around in the dark when we are struck by the lightning bolt of Uranus opposing Mars.  Mercury at this time is separating away from the Sun about a week away from their inferior conjunction, and as there is a magical lunar occultation of Mercury on June 26, I feel like if we have learned to adapt to the modus operandi of Mercury retrograde by this point we will be able to integrate some significant insights out of the opposition between Uranus in Aries and Mars in Libra at this time.

Fantastically, in the following week we will experience a New Moon followed a few days later by Mercury finally stationing direct at 25 degrees of Gemini.  Thus, the lunar connection with this Mercury retrograde is even more profound than the simple fact Mercury stationed in the lunar sign of Cancer, as we will have a beautiful Crescent Moon forming in Leo as Mercury stations direct.  I love the fact that the New Moon, a time of re-visioning, will occur while we are still under the auspices of Mercury retrograde, and that Mercury will finally station direct during a Crescent Moon, a lunar phase of fighting off the ghosts of past limiting thought patterns in order to find the resources we need to move forward in our evolution within ourselves and surrounding us in our environment.  Dane Rudhyar described the sabian symbol where Mercury stations direct as “the revelation of archetypal form and essential existence,” a place where we discover the essential:

At this third level of “exteriorzation” a contact with archetypes and pure forms of individual selfhood is to be sought–also with the characteristic image of the culture. Externals are left behind. This is a step beyond “pruning”; it is rather a process of removal of all superficialities of existence.  Cyclically, nature helps us to reach this state of bare reality.  It is not that we experience the Buddhist’s void (sunya), but rather that we reach the essence of our individual being, the form of pure selfhood which is the structuring power underneath all external features–all that belong to the “leaf” realm (p. 106).

So prepare to go into the trunk of our tree during this Mercury retrograde, and all the way down into our roots, into our underworld.  In the end we will create beautiful blossoms and bonny green leaves that will dance in the wind for all to enjoy.

References

George, Demetra. (2008). Hermes: Guide of Soul. Lecture.

George, Demetra. (1994). Finding Our Way through the Dark. AFA.

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

Rudhyar, Dane. (1973). An Astrological Mandala: the Cycle of Transformations and its 360 Symbolic Phases. Vintage.

The Tarot and the Decans: http://www.tarot.org.il/decans.html

Mercury Retrograde at the Gate of Neptune

water nymph by John Collier

Mercury stations conjunct Neptune in Pisces

  • Mercury stations retrograde on February 6, 2014 at 3º20′ conjunct Neptune in Pisces (Neptune will be at 4°25′) at 1:43 pm PST.

  • Mercury returns to Aquarius on February 12 having been between zero and four degrees of Pisces from January 31 – February 11 (take note people with planets between 0 – 4 degrees of Mutable signs).

  • Inferior conjunction of Mercury retrograde and the Sun on February 15, 2014 at 27º4′ of Aquarius.  This inferior conjunction will be square Saturn in Scorpio and in trine to Mars in Libra.

    • Full Moon the day before the Inferior Conjunction at 26°13′ of Aquarius and Leo.

  • Mercury stations direct on February 28, 2014 at 18º9′ of Aquarius.

  • Mercury leaves its retrograde shadow zone on the Equinox of March 20, and will be exactly conjunct Neptune at 6°02′ of Pisces on March 22, 2014.

“The Water Nymph” painting above is by an artist, John Collier, with an interesting connection to this astrological moment- he was born in 1850, the last time Neptune was in Pisces at its current area of Pisces, and he also was born with an Aquarius Mercury in the same place as the upcoming inferior conjunction of Mercury retrograde and the Sun.  To me, the “nymph” in the image is completely absorbed into nature, her natural surroundings, the Soul of the world, opening her to a direct connection with Spirit.  While this connects with Mercury conjunct Neptune in Pisces, so does her gazing at her reflection in the water connect with a Mercury retrograde cycle beginning in Pisces.  During Mercury retrograde we have the opportunity to reflect upon our perceptions, imaginings, and just exactly where are thoughts are coming from.  This can be an internal experience, but we will most likely get a sense of how our inner dynamics are operating through our relationship to the outer world and interactions with others, including conflicts.  There are astrological signs we will experience challenges in the external world at this time, as calming as Mercury stationing retrograde conjunct Neptune in Pisces may sound.  This is because Mercury stationing retrograde happens at a first quarter Moon of Taurus at 19 degrees that is especially intense, as the Aquarius Sun and Taurus Moon forms a t-square with Saturn in Scorpio at 23 degrees.  This is happening simultaneous to the other big t-square of Cancer Jupiter opposite Venus and Pluto in Capricorn, all in square to Uranus in Aries.  Beginning on February 6, we will be facing these challenges with Mercury descended to the underworld, acting as the Psychopomp guide of our souls.

The Sabian symbols as interpreted by Dane Rudhyar give us a clear warning for this upcoming Mercury retrograde- desires and thoughts not aligned with Soul and Spirit, or Source (or Gods, Goddesses, God, what have you) will not only crash on a wave of disillusionment but may bring significant karmic repercussions to not just ourselves but the wider collective of our world.  The Sabian symbol for Mercury stationing retrograde is “heavy car traffic on a narrow isthmus linking two seashore resorts,” while the symbol for Neptune at this time is “a church bazaar.” Huh? Well, Rudhyar explains the isthmus traffic jam as a relic of the fact that the Sabian symbol transmissions went down in the San Diego, California area where such structures exist.  Since traffic jams are an astrological stereotype connected to Mercury retrograde periods, this may make sense, but the meaning of this symbol is much deeper.  Part of the meaning is a “traffic jam” of thoughts and information, as anyone who has been on social media is familiar with.  Thoughts have always been viral, with any thought carrying the potential to become swept up into the whirlwind of the collective zeitgeist and infecting multitudes, with many not even aware of how their previous thoughts have been shifted by the new viral thought pattern.  However, social media and things like facebook have made this phenomenon more extreme- facebook in particular being problematic as its feedback mechanism circulates posts from people you have “liked,” so the tendency is a feedback loop of people with similar perspectives or interests.  Rudhyar notes in the symbol that the sea surrounding the isthmus of traffic “stresses the collective nature of social experiences and of what may appear to be ‘individual’ achievements” (p. 271).

Rudhyar also highlights words such as “commerce and social interactions in a new form,” and “the need to establish unceasing dynamic relationships between all aspects and functions of the social life” (p. 270-1).  There is a danger in establishing new forms of interactions and relationships if we are not discerning, however, as the “church bazaar” symbol for Neptune connects with the social fabric of religions, the Church, or any group coming together for a spiritual purpose, from the New Age to the old.  The Neptune/Mercury/Pisces danger is that these social groups create a code of being that “justifies human behavior by blessing it with a divine Revelation of what is good and valuable” (Rudhyar, p. 271).  Spiritual doctrine guiding “right human relations” is valuable, however, there is also a Neptune trap of individuals justifying or rationalizing their behavior because of a belief it is of divine origin, or what God wants them to do, when in actuality it is more about their own selfish desire at the bottom line.  This is an important aspect of the Neptune archetype developed by Jeff Green in his soul-focused Evolutionary Astrology:  that while Neptune can help us spiritualize our life and connect with a timeless sense of ultimate meaning, we can also project delusional beliefs concerning ultimate meaning and can deceive ourselves and others that our selfish, separating desires are connected to Divine Will.

I see this connecting to the Sabian symbol for where Mercury is stationing direct at 19 Aquarius, “a forest fire is being subdued by the use of water, chemicals, and sheer muscular energy.”  As Rudhyar analyzed, forest fires can often be caused by humans and their modern inventions of technology, the tools of commerce and communication referenced in the Sabian symbol for where Mercury stationed retrograde.  And yet, at the same time the dynamic capacity humans have for communication and ingenuity can help us recover from disasters and come to the aid of life in danger of eradication.  Along these lines, the dynamic modes of communication indicated by the stationing symbol could also relate to us coming into contact with like-minded people, groups of people, on a global level, using technology to connect with others across great distances.  However, as Rudhyar noted in his analysis, the stationing degree symbol for Mercury indicates we will have our “strength, ingenuity or emotional stability” tested at this time, and that with faith we will have to draw from every resource available- “emotional, mental, physical” (p. 261).  Thus, whatever collective calamities will be arising that many of us are partially responsible for, we can use this Mercury retrograde cycle to re-formulate ourselves and prepare for the challenging times ahead, connecting with others who will be mutually benefit supports with us.  The Sabian symbol for the inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun is aligned with this idea:  “a tree felled and sawed to ensure a supply of wood for the winter.”  I feel this line of analysis from Rudhyar is very pertinent for now:  “In meeting the hardships inherent in an existence close to nature, strength, efficiency and intelligence are needed, but they are incorporated in a life in which every act can be part of a harmonic and beautiful ritual permeated with deep significance” (p. 266).  The more we can use this Mercury retrograde to go within, to question and discern our thoughts and perceptions and their source, the better.  The more we can sense and feel the soul of everything, everyone, everywhere we go in our daily experiences, the more we can connect with the correct current of Neptune for us to float down during this retrograde.  Neptune transits can be confusing, and so a Mercury retrograde cycle initiated by Neptune in Pisces sounds like perhaps the most disorienting of all: yet while these Sabian symbols and the deeper meaning of the astrology do suggest we need to be discerning in navigating through a Pisces fog, there is at the same time a tremendous inner resource available for us to cultivate with work that will help us persevere through the challenging times ahead on the horizon.

Mercury is traditionally not seen as operating smoothly in Pisces, since Pisces is the opposite sign of Virgo that is ruled by Mercury.  While Virgo embodies incredible tools and techniques for smooth, clear, and effective communication, Pisces still carries its own unique gifts into Mercury.  However, keeping the “viral” idea of thoughts in mind is important for Pisces, a sign that can be overly sensitive to its environment (and why Pisces people usually sense on their own when they need to take some time to themselves away from the thoughts of others).  Spending time going within is key now- reflecting, meditating, whatever will help us re-center and realize whether or not our desires are coming from an authentic affinity for soul and spirit or if instead they are being manipulated by outside sources or overly selfish desires. Mercury in Pisces is more intuitive and poetic than it is in other signs, perhaps open to misinterpretation but capable of expressing incredible emotion, perceiving and communicating the essence of the soul embedded in every aspect of our environment.  Looking at a list of people with Mercury in Pisces is a look at genius in a variety of fields:  Dane Rudhyar, Rudolph Steiner, Charles Darwin, Copernicus, Gallileo, Bach, Houdini, James Joyce, Stephane Mallarme, Charles Baudelaire, Milan Kundera, Roberto Assagioli, Kurt Cobain, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Harry Belafonte, Auguste Renoir, and Piet Mondrian.  Creating a structure or form for Mercury in Pisces is absolutely vital, however, so that there is a way to communicate the insights a Pisces Mercury can perceive in a form other people can understand.  This Mercury retrograde will be an opportune time to create a daily practice of some form where we can process our experience.  This sort of practice can be even more beneficial given that Venus has recently stationed direct and is now moving forward back across her retrograde shadow zone.  In fact, on the same day of Mercury’s Inferior Conjunction with the Sun-  February 15, 2014-  Venus will be shining at her peak level of brightness as the Morning Star.

Botticelli-primavera

The Botticelli painting above, commonly called “La Primavera” or “Allegory of Spring,” contains two pivotal archetypal figures of this astrological time, Mercury on the far left pointing toward the celestial heavens, and Venus honored in the center.  The Botticelli painting above is also fitting for this Mercury retrograde because Mercury will not leave its retrograde shadow zone until the Northern Hemisphere’s Spring Equinox of March 20, 2014 (the Autumn Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere- but Botticelli lived in the Northern Hemisphere).  In his extraordinary book The Planets Within: the Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino, Thomas Moore analyzed this work through the soul-focused perspective of Marsilio Ficino, a Renaissance astrologer and philosopher who had an enormous influence over Bottitcelli.  Moore wrote that Mercury “looks to the clouds, not because he has no place in the scene or is not interested in life’s graces, but because it is his office and function to see behind the facade of things, to find the significance and value which lay hidden in the folds of ordinary existence” (p. 142).  Moore also elaborated at depth on how this image embodies the perspective of Ficino that Venus is both an earthly and celestial goddess, concluding that “Venus leads the soul into the body and through the body to spirit.  From spirit, to body, back to spirit” (p. 142).  Ficino saw spirit as being like the “fire of the stars,” and intrinsically connected to soul, emphasizing the importance of imagination in finding our path and calling in the world (p. 49).  Moore wrote that Ficino valued imagination because it “allows of a vision that penetrates the surface of things and grasps those factors that have significance for the psyche” (p. 50).  With Mercury retrograde descended to the underworld at this time, our imagination will be an important skill to use in our daily life because Mercury in this soul-guide role will open us to perceiving information in dreams, omens, synchronicity, and other signs we will pass on a daily basis.

Although there is potential for us to find our path through allowing ourselves to be guided by soul during this Mercury retrograde, Ficino like many other spirit guides from history emphasized the importance of self-awareness and getting to know one’s self on a deep level:

Whoever discovers his own genius through the means we have stated will thus find his own natural work, and at the same time he will find his own star and daimon.  Following these beginnings he will do well and live happily.  Otherwise, he will experience misfortune and feel the enmity of heaven.

–Marsilio Ficino, The Planets

Mercury retrograde in Pisces conjunct Neptune at this time, with Venus slowly moving direct conjunct Pluto in Capricorn, are two celestial configurations to draw from in opening our perception to the Soul of our surroundings and a connection with Spirit.  Venus in particular can help us get into touch with our soul through our body and physical surroundings at this time, as she is still close to Pluto after her long retrograde journey.  However, both being personal planets that are highly charged at the moment, they are also both pivotal archetypes to utilize at this time for deep internal reflection and gaining a deeper awareness for what is going on in our inner relationship with our Self.  Indeed, Venus is opposite Jupiter in Cancer at this time, and Jupiter is the traditional ruler of Pisces where Mercury is stationing retrograde.  Jupiter in Cancer is also retrograde in a Water sign like Mercury, so going into our emotions at this time can be very fruitful and revealing.  We will want a practice of some sort to access this information- it can be contemplative like taking some time to simply breathe or meditate, or it can be more active like playing music, creating art, or writing.

Venus is a potent ingredient to this Mercury retrograde not just because she is currently conjunct Pluto and opposite Jupiter, however, but also because at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde she is ruling the transiting South Node in Taurus.  Significantly, in the days leading up to Mercury stationing direct, the lunar nodes will switch signs with the South Node becoming Aries, and the North Node becoming Libra. As a result, when Mercury stations direct Venus will have become the ruler of the transiting North Node of the Moon.  This is another sign of an important bridge at this time between our own individual experience with the wider collective experience-  take the responsibility to create the life you want to live, instead of wasting energy through complaining about what other people are doing.

Rudolf Steiner pencil sketch

Aquarius Alchemical Vessel

The inferior conjunction of Mercury retrograde and the Sun will be at 28 degrees of Aquarius on February 15, but will still carry overtones from the retrograde initiation of Mercury conjunct Neptune in Pisces.  The above pencil sketch was drawn by astrologer and philosopher Rudolph Steiner, who was born with Mercury conjunct Neptune in Pisces and is a good example of the sort of limitless perception a Pisces Mercury-Neptune combination is capable of embodying.  Relevant to the meaning of Mercury retrograde, Steiner once said,  “Thinking … is no more and no less an organ of perception than the eye or ear.  Just as the eye perceives colours and the ear sounds, so thinking perceives ideas.”  He also wrote Mystery plays with titles fitting to this Mercury retrograde:  The Portal of InitiationThe Souls’ ProbationThe Guardian of the Threshold and The Soul’s Awakening.  The upcoming inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun will be in Aquarius, however, a sign with a very different energy than Pisces.   Aquarius is the water bearer, but the water borne by Aquarius is illuminating and purifying, more of a cleansing energy than the fertile waters of Pisces that can get us rather muddy.   The inferior conjunction is like the New Moon for Mercury and the Sun, a new point of conception for our Mercury function and archetype in the world.   In contrast, the time leading up to this inferior conjunction, from February 6-14, will be more like a Balsamic Moon for Mercury, a time of releasing old thought forms, patterns, and embedded concepts in preparation for the new Aquarius vision to come after February 15.  We can feel confused at this time if we are insisting on being overly logical or rational, because the more “irrational” or unconscious mode of perception will be open to a greater extent, with information arising around us in dreams, signs, and symbols.

The inferior conjunction happening in Aquarius is perfect for a new vision, and the fact Mercury will re-enter Aquarius a few days before will help us objectify and detach from old thought forms in order to clear them for good.  Saturn is the traditional ruler of Aquarius, and Saturn in Scorpio will be very significant in this time period as the inferior conjunction will be in square to Saturn in Scorpio, and when Mercury finally stations direct on February 28, Saturn will be stationing to turn retrograde a few days later on March 3.  In addition, during the Mercury retrograde there will be a lunar occultation of Saturn in Scorpio on February 21.   Saturn has correlations in astrology to the alchemical process in association to the lead or base of conscisousness, a darkness that paradoxically contains its own light and gold.  This is the Jungian idea that by going into our darkness and shadow, we can alchemize and heat up our inner spark of gold- in this case events associated with transiting Saturn in Scorpio.  Aquarius will lend it’s penetrating insight to this inferior conjunction of Mercury as well as Mercury’s eventual stationing direct at the end of February, a perceptual awareness that can detach from emotional compulsions and can facilitate us liberating ourselves from habitual patterns of thought that have been limiting us.  We can use Aquarian insight to help us structure our own alchemical vessel within, mindful of the concept in verse 10 of the Tao Te Ching in which Lao Tzu states that “Clay is moulded to form a vessel, but it is the emptiness inside that gives the vessel its use.”   If you prefer to use Uranus as the ruler of Aquarius like most modern astrologers, then you don’t need to look farther than Uranus in Aries being in a t-square to Cancer Jupiter and Capricorn Pluto/Venus at this time for the star fire to heat your alchemical vessel.  No matter what your rulership perspective is, however, there is more than enough star fire going around in various transits to heat  your experiences into greater clarification.

While a square from Saturn in Scorpio to the Sun and Mercury in Aquarius may sound intense, there is also a tradition that there is sympathy in the square between Aquarius and Scorpio because they “see” one another as a result of being signs of equal power.  I recently watched an excellent webinar by Seattle astrologer Kate Petty called “Reflections Across the Cardinal Axis” that is available from Kepler College in which she very clearly illustrated this ancient concept if anyone is interested in learning more about this (basically it has to do with the fact that Scorpio and Aquarius are equi-distant signs from the Solstice, or Capricorn/Cancer axis).  In addition, since Saturn is the traditional ruler of Aquarius there is an affinity here, and with Saturn being in Scorpio we can add in a soul-focus to this affinity that connects to the humanitarianism of Aquarius.  There will also be a trine from Mars in Libra to the inferior conjunction in Aquarius of Mercury and the Sun, which will give us an opportunity to link our new vision into social justice concerns and issues, or into the development of new relationships.  Mars will be stationing retrograde in Libra immediately following Mercury stationing direct in Aquarius, and so this trine between Mars and the Mercury inferior conjunction is a powerful omen of an auspicious link between the two cycles to take advantage of for an increased self-awareness that will ultimately help us face oppressive conditions and other issues related to social justice in the collective global community.

Saturn in Scorpio is a karmic placement not unlike the deities Kali and Mahakala, and Saturn will suffer no fools at this time.  As a result, if we are operating from some delusional beliefs or selfish desires we will no doubt have something loudly and boldly thrown in our face, so to speak, or experience profound disillusionment from within.  If our imagination becomes activated, we will no doubt face tests of whether we are perceiving true or fabricated imaginal thought; likewise, if we feel a spiritualization occurring we will face tests of whether we are perceiving a true or fabricated connection to spirit.  Avoid clinging to denial out of defensiveness at this time and be open to questioning any beliefs or thoughts you have been operating from.  As Scorpio and Aquarius are both fixed signs, if we are unwilling to shift or flow with the current of our life we will add fuel to the fire of conflict arising around us.

Moon pamela colman

Leo Full Moon squares Scorpio Saturn

Prior to the inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun we will have a huge build up of energy with a  Leo Full Moon occurring on the previous day, in square to Saturn in Scorpio.  If you haven’t been paying attention, that means Feburuary 14, the traditional “Valentine’s Day” of romantic fantasy and illusion in our culture.  Perfect, right.  Remember that as we approach this build of energy that Mercury is in the underworld guiding our soul experiences and so we will want to attune to and align with the signs arising around us indicating the path forward.  This is a powerful lunar cycle:  the New Moon began the day before Venus stationed direct conjunct Pluto and opposite Jupiter, and then the Full Moon happens the day before the inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun, all in square to Saturn in Scorpio.  I feel having some strong Leo lunar energy at this time will be a true blessing of the goddess, as we will be saturated so much in Aquarius and Scorpio energy.  This will be an important time for self-love and to pamper yourself like you would a lover; if you are lucky enough to have a true lover in your life, this can of course be a mutual experience.  Just don’t get caught up in the blown-up romantic expectations of our cultural Valentine’s Day driven by selfish corporations who want you to purchase their ethically questionable chocolate.  If we have been behaving in an overly selfish manner, or projecting our opinions and desires in an unbalanced way into our environment in order to over-compensate for inner wounding or lack of true confidence, the Leo Full Moon may illuminate these issues strongly through the  square from Saturn in Scorpio.

7th Harmonic

7th Harmonic in February

Finally, I briefly want to comment upon how a 7th Harmonic could possibly be affecting your natal chart at this time.  The above diagram was drawn by Olympia astrologer Rosie Finn, who has taught my information concerning the 7th Harmonic.  The seven pointed star you can see above is activated in February by Mercury stationing with Neptune in Pisces, Venus stationing with Pluto in Capricorn, and Saturn in Scorpio- the other missing points are 26 Aries, 17.5 Gemini, 9 Leo, and 0.5 Libra.  You can look for transits to these points, or perhaps they are active in your natal chart through an aspect of some manner.

The 7th Harmonic is a strange harmonic, made up of septiles (51.5 degrees), bi-septiles (103 degrees), and tri-septiles (154.5 degrees).  I’ve learned from Rosie that these septiles can involve magical creativity and vision, a mystical sense of information descending from another realm, or a transfiguration.  They have an energy similar to the dissolving of boundaries and transcendence of “normal” reality that we often associate with Neptune and a Mercury retrograde period initiated by a conjunction of Mercury and Neptune in Pisces.  The 7th Harmonic can be highly creative and spiritual, can appear weirdly anomalous and difficult to occur naturally.  In a class one time Rosie gave Beethoven as an example of someone with a strong 7th Harmonic who created highly spiritual art yet also had to persist through the pain and suffering of being deaf (in contrast to Mozart who had a strong 5th Harmonic).  The bi-septile and tri-septile aspects of the 7th Harmonic stress the importance of integrating creativity into our purpose and process and making the necessary adjustments to manifest the inner revelations of this process and purpose back out into the external world. As the 7th Harmonic is a strange one, this isn’t exactly easily done.  However, anyone having experiences resonating with this description will be able to draw upon this Mercury retrograde process at this time to make the inner adjustments necessary to ultimately express whatever epiphany is being experienced within.

References

Moore, Thomas. (1990). The Planets Within: the astrological psychology of Marsilio Ficino. Lindisfarne Press.

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

Solar Eclipse Clearing on a Hekate Moon

owl in the waning moon ohara koson, woodblock

Samhain Threshold

Samhain is the ancient Celtic celebration of the mid-point between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice that is traditionally celebrated on the night of October 31 or dawn of November 1, our traditional Halloween holiday in Western culture, similar to how Beltane is traditionally celebrated on May 1. If you want to get all Virgo on this Pisces astrologer, you could also look at the time when the Scorpio Sun reaches 15 degrees of Scorpio (which will not be until next week around November 6th), but since we continue today to celebrate Halloween on October 31 and the Day of the Dead or All Saint’s Day on November 1, we have already entered the time to focus with our Samhain intentions. Samhain traditionally is the night in which the veils between our material dimension and the “other” dimensions become more thin and open, a threshold that is more easily crossed at this time than any other:

Samhain (prounounced sow-en), the Celtic New Year, now celebrated as Halloween, is a night that falls in neither the old year nor the new one. It is a “time outside of time,” when the veils between the worlds are lifted and much trafficking takes place between spirits and mortals. Boundaries are eliminated, spirits are afoot. In Scotland it is called a “night of mischief and confusion” . . . Property can be damaged, food and treats can be demanded, hospitality overrules the locked door and gated fence, boundaries between what is mine and yours are temporarily repealed. Tricksters seek admittance to others’ homes, even as spirits from the Otherworld seek entry into this world. On Samhain we are reminded that doorways are open, thresholds are bridgeable, and the ordinary and nonordinary intermingle . . . Traditionally Samhain is a night for divination . . . The reason divinatory practices are so successful on this night is that the boundaries between time are lifted. On November’s Eve the present and the future merge, and what lies ahead can be foreseen on the present moment.

–Tom Cowan, Fire in the Head: Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit, p. 55

On Halloween the Washington Post published an excellent and concise article on the past and present meaning of Samhain by Starhawk in which she writes, “The time of death is also the year’s rebirth,” “Halloween tells us to connect, to forge bonds of love that death cannot sever, to support one another as we face those things that are hard to face alone,” and “Know that you are an ancestor of the future, and your choices, your actions, your human hands can turn the wheel of fate.”

In astrology, the times of eclipses are also considered threshold experiences, as well as Mercury retrograde time periods, particularly when Mercury has it’s inferior conjunction with the Sun. Dark Moons in general also have an association with threshold experiences such as disorientation and Great Mystery that can source a rebirth for our being while in reception with otherworldy transmissions. Amazingly, all of these occurrences are happening simultaneously on Samhain this year, at the same time as an exact square between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn, the fourth of the current cycle of seven squares ending in 2015.

Recent news events have continued to be intense and cataclysmic, even reaching to the apocalyptic such as the Japances plans to clear radioactive used fuel assemblies that could trigger unprecedented radiation explosion and exposure if mishandled. On a personal level, we may have been receiving invitations from our environment to enter into drama by impulsively reacting to triggers on our emotions. The more we can release, clear, and let go of at this time, the better we will be able to navigate through the portal of astrological intensity and use the upcoming Solar Eclipse to help birth a new vision for ourselves rather than drown inside currents of past despair. Of course advising someone to let go, or even saying to yourself that you are letting go, are all much easier said than done as most of us human beings grasp to our personal status quo or comfort zones with all of our might.  Indeed, many astrologers have taken a cautionary stance of trepidation toward the energy symbolized within the chart of the November 3 Solar Eclipse you can see below, which does indeed contain many signs of intensity:

SolarEclipse110313WRIGC1

However, although in the outer world there may indeed be some tragic tales we will hear about, on a personal level this need not be a doom and gloom time. The Great Awakener Uranus is shaking things up, but if we can clear the space to receive, channel, and direct this energy, we could catalyze ourselves forward into unprecedented dimensions from our previous experiences.  Our consensus reality is shifting into the unknown, and part of the great fear and paranoia visible in commercial media and social media could be tied to the inability of many to fully reckon with the changes set in motion.  If we are resisting the implications of our changing reality, if we have been fixated on an entrenched belief system or thought pattern from our past, if we have become overly attached to possessions or people against all signs that a letting go aligns with our actual growth, then the square to Uranus from Pluto could bring some cataclysmic crisis that could force us to lose what we have been resisting releasing. Yet if we can move into a space to let go of and release aspects of our past identity, relationships, and beliefs, branches of our tree of life that are ready to be blown off by the impending ecliptic storm, then we will be able to integrate the regenerative aspect of Pluto into our life and find the gem inside of what could otherwise feel like a disruptive and rocky experience.

If you have planets in between seven and fourteen degrees of Scorpio you will need to pay particular attention to how this solar eclipse is impacting your chart, but in general it is helpful to pinpoint where in your chart this eclipse at twelve degrees of Scorpio is occurring and any aspects it is making. Combined with the other transits of this time, you will be especially impacted if you have any planets in between seven and fourteen degrees of fixed or cardinal signs, but people with planets between seven and fourteen degrees of mutable signs will also be impacted by the role of Mars in Virgo and Chiron in Pisces in this witches brew of celestial spheres.

At a recent talk my astrology teacher Rosie Finn described the square between Uranus and Pluto during this Dark Moon as being about the fourth chakra and giving us the opportunity between now and the next square between Uranus and Pluto to work on bridging the work of our lower chakras with the transmissions from the upper chakras we could potentially integrate from Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. To do this lower chakra work means working on our personal issues represented by the personal planets of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars, all of which will be extremely active in the upcoming time period: the Moon with these eclipses, Mercury with its current retrograde and rebirth, Mars being sextile to Mercury retrograde and the solar eclipse, and Venus as a bright evening star that will eventually station retrograde on the Winter Solstice of 2013. At this time of a Dark Moon leading into a Solar Eclipse, I want to focus on the lunar aspect of our personal clearing, and the synchronicity that two of the most powerful Goddesses of myth, Hekate and Artemis, are both active at the time of the Solar Eclipse through their manifestations as asteroids in astrology.

William-Blakes-Hecate

Hekate Dark Moon

. . . Hecate, crow black and with a shining crown . . . No woman knew the paths that linked earth and underworld better than she.

— Roberto Calasso The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, page 221

It is during this final waning phase [of the Moon] that the Goddess manifests as the crone or wise old woman. Hecate, the so-called goddess of the witches, represents this phase. She had knowledge of herbs and magic elixirs, folk healing and the control of weather . . . Hecate was also the goddess of the crossroads (where witches were believed to perform their rituals), and this is reminiscent of the neolithic, for the cross of the four directions was a lunar symbol in those days.

–Ariel Guttman & Kenneth Johnson, Mythic Astrology, page 68

The synchronicity of asteroid transits with their mythic meaning within the larger context of celestial patterns continues to astound me anytime I begin to question whether or not paying attention to the asteroids is important. A perfect example at the moment is that the Libra Dark Moon that occured on the night of Halloween in the Pacific time zone where I live was conjunct the asteroid Hecate (#100) at the exact time it was opposite Uranus in Aries and in square to Pluto in Capricorn. The exact square between Uranus and Pluto occured exactly five hours later after they were each triggered by this Hekate Dark Moon. At the time of the Solar Eclipse on November 3, the Hecate asteroid will still be in opposition to Uranus and in square to Pluto.

Hekate is a goddess of the Moon and crossroads who is associated chiefly with the Dark Moon phase by modern astrologer and mythologists. Some of us may be obviously facing an important decision between different paths at this time, whereas for others the fact that you are at a crossroads may feel more subtle on the surface. Yet the deep Scorpio and Plutonic transits at this time means that all of us are going to be experiencing core shifts of our circumstances in the upcoming time. A sense of divination, the feeling that one can intuit the path into the future at this time of crossroads is fitting for Hekate, as she is one of the most ancient goddesses with a myth saturated in Mystery. If you are interested in reading more of an analysis of Hekate’s mythic meaning, please check the following link to a recent article written by Monika of the Symbol Reader blog: http://symbolreader.net/2013/10/27/hekate-the-goddess-of-the-crossroads/

As Monika pointed out in the blog article linked above, there is a clear affinity that both Hekate and Hermes share for navigating between the upper and underworlds and to transmit messages divinated from signs, symbols, and omens. This is especially the case now, as Mercury is invisible and in the underworld phase of its retrograde journey, reaching its conception point for rebirth (or inferior conjunction with the Sun) on November 1 about ten hours after the exact square between Uranus and Pluto. In order to rebirth our Mercury function and vision at this time we need to effectively do the dark moon clearing and releasing of Hekate, and in case you are having trouble figuring out what to release make sure you are opening your mind to what sorts of symbols, signs, synchronicity, and omens are pointing you toward in your environment. Change is extremely difficult for most people, but there are most likely significant shifts occurring under the surface of your reality even if on the surface it may seem in the moment like your normal routine. The more we let go of who or what needs releasing now, the more we open to ourselves to the potential of a profound and catalytic growth we can seed at the Solar Eclipse on November 3.

ipogeo_di_via_livenza_diana_cacciatrice

Artemis Guides through the Dark

In contrast to Hekate, Artemis aka Diana is often associated with the Maiden or New Moon phase instead of the Crone or Dark Moon phase, with her bow symbolizing the early stage waxing of a Crescent Moon. The Solar Eclipse of November 3 will be one of the most intense New Moons imaginable, and it’s waxing into a Crescent phase will correspond with the last week of the current Mercury retrograde phase in Scorpio, with the Sun becoming conjunct Saturn in Scorpio, and Jupiter stationing retrograde in Cancer. Artemis is further linked into this time through her asteroid #105 at the time of the Solar Eclipse being tightly conjunct Saturn in Scorpio at 13°44′, only nine minutes away from Saturn. Almost exactly conjunct Saturn in Scorpio by minutes, the Artemis asteroid is also conjunct the Solar Eclipse, only two degrees away, and also in range of being conjunct Mercury and the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio.

Artemis being conjunct Saturn, the Solar Eclipse, Mercury retrograde, and the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio carries the meaning of us re-connecting with our true instinctual Self, our inner Artemis who runs free through the forests of the night with a pure heart and her animal companions. In Mythic Astrology Ariel Guttman and Kenneth Johnson describe the new and crescent phase of the Lunar Goddess as being “complete unto herself,” “apart from committed relationships,” “sexually active (the nymph) or virginal (the maiden), but in either case she is still pure, innocent, hopeful” (p. 67). Thus, the timing of us re-conceiving our Mercury into rebirth through the Scorpio conjunction of the Sun with Mercury retrograde is coinciding with us taking the responsibility to release the weight of our past in order to return to our pure instinctual Artemis Self, corresponding with the conjunction between the Artemis asteroid and Saturn in Scorpio.  I certainly do not mean by this that you should feel hopeful about life because of the trauma or oppression you have experienced, but instead mean the visceral and vital state of mind we can reach when we are fully done with a past issue that has weighed us down heavily, or maybe sometimes the tragedies just somehow make us feel more alive and in love with the future potential of the moment than ever before.  Instead of cynically rebuking life and refusing to live, through Artemis we courageously charge forward with an equine grace to our stride, like a deer effortlessly surmounting an obstacle.  Perhaps our rebirth necessitates us facing the End, or at least feeling like we are approaching Death; perhaps it is easier for us at times of chaos or crisis to access the kundalini current inside us and actualize our full creative, instinctual Self.  What may feel at first like the leaden weight of Saturn at this time may ultimately be what centers and opens us to the Artemis inside.

Ariel Guttman and Kenneth Johnson in Mythic Astrology further analyze the mythic associations of Artemis by explaining that her link with the Moon came from the Romans connecting Diana with the Moon, as to the Greeks she was known more as the “Lady of Wild Beasts,” a mythic archetype that further links her with the astrological sign of Sagitarius (p. 63). Linking Artemis with Sagitarius further connects Artemis with Venus at this time, shining bright in the night as an Evening Star in Sagitarius. At the time of the Solar Eclipse, Venus will be near the end of her journey through Sagitarius and conjunct the Galactic Center.

Venus in Sagitarius burning so bright and so beautiful to behold in the night sky is a fitting guide through the darkness of this time. In connection with Artemis, we can sense how returning to nature at this time, making sure we make time to re-connect with the woods and the Earth perhaps on a solitary walk or run that Artemis herself would adore, could be an opportune way for us to clear and recharge our being. A fierce protector of wildlife and nature, the archetype of Artemis emerging at this time is a further sign of the importance of taking direct action to protect our natural environment during a time of great pollution and environmental degradation.  Artemis is a sign that we have the instinctual nature inside of us to make the choice at the crossroads to embark upon the path we are meant to take.

Mercury Retrograde: the liminality of being in between becoming

Roberto Matta bringing the light without pain

Mercury Retrograde in between Eclipses

The painting “Bringing Light without Pain” above is by Roberto Matta, an artist with a Scorpio Mercury and Sun (11/11/1911), and so an apt painter to showcase in this time when Mercury is retrograde in Scorpio and headed toward it’s “inferior” conjunction with the Sun in Scorpio.  While being able to bring light “without pain” during this period of Mercury retrograde in Scorpio is perhaps unlikely, the goal of connecting with more light, integrating more light into our lives by the end of a deep process of shedding burdensome past patterns or identities is a reachable potential over the next month.  Roberto Matta first came to my attention when I saw astrologer Gonzalo Romero present a lecture on Mercury in 2011 in which he drew attention to the artistic perception, expression, and communication of Matta.  Gonzalo described Roberto Matta as having a mercurial ability to “make the invisible, visible” through his artistic expression of aspects of phenomenal reality he could perceive.  Among other things, Mercury is a function in astrology aligning with what part of reality we choose to perceive and order within our consciousness in order to structure such aspects of our life as how we communicate with others through speech, writing, sound, or art.  As a result, when Mercury goes retrograde we have a unique opportunity to investigate what we have been choosing to focus on in our perceptions, and what sorts of habitual mindsets and thought cycles may have been dominating our mental space.  With awareness then comes the potential to transform the way we are choosing to think about aspects of our reality that have been leading us toward greater negativity or suffering, in order to shift our mindset to help us create more of what we want to experience in our lives.

Mercury retrograde time periods have gained a negative reputation in popular culture and sometimes make people wary or fearful of what could happen with mishaps in communication and technology, but in reality Mercury retrograde periods offer many gifts and opportunities to change and reset deep rooted patterns in our being.  This upcoming Mercury retrograde periods promises to be one of the most potentially regenerative and transforming retrograde cycles in memory, as it involves three passes with Saturn in Scorpio and happens at the same time as an exact square between Uranus in Aries and Capricorn in Pluto.  Moreover, there are eclipses occurring at the same time, with a Lunar Eclipse occurring shortly before Mercury stations retrograde, and a Solar Eclipse occurring shortly after the powerful moment of the retrograde cycle in which Mercury and the Sun become conjunct.  Mercury aka Hermes is not only the God of Communication but also a God of Thresholds and Liminality, a Guide of Souls who is a Psychopomp able to move between the underworld and the upperworld.  The term “liminality” is from the Latin root meaning “threshold” and is an appropriate description for the eclipse and Mercury retrograde period of time we are in since one of it’s meanings from Anthropology is “the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete” (wikipedia).

In Depth Psychology, liminality has also become a descriptive word used in the process of Individuation when an individual experiences feelings of disorientation and darkness as an old identity breaks down, all the while in a fluid process of becoming more whole or authentic, an “in-between” space of being that can persist for great lengths of time.  Now, in the liminal space we are entering in between eclipses and during a time of intense astrological transits, we may feel confused, what we feel may turn out to be very different than it first appears in the moment, and where we are headed may be unclear, but it is good counsel at this time to realize that simply breathing, and allowing ourselves “to be” with whatever is happening in the moment will be a strategy useful to navigate our upcoming experiences.  Of course, sometimes experiences suddenly demand that we quickly respond and initiate action, but  no matter how intense experiences may become, if we can keep ourselves in the flow of things and persevere, eventually we will begin to realize why we are on the new path events led us to.  The alignment of celestial bodies above us is too astounding for it to be any other way.

Indeed, this Mercury retrograde cycle and other surrounding transits will be taking us to the heart of many of the astrological themes I have been writing about over the past year on this blog.  At the heart of this Mercury retrograde cycle we will have the opportunity to open our hearts to a greater extent, as the fourth of the seven squares between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn occurs on the same day as the inferior conjunction between Mercury retrograde and the Sun in Scorpio.  As there are seven squares between Uranus and Pluto occurring between 2012 and 2015, the fourth one occurring on November 1, 2013 has been linked by many to issues around the 4th Chakra, or Heart Chakra.  In order for us to reach a greater heart opening in our lives, Mercury retrograde in Scorpio will align with not only our ability to transform the way we are perceiving and communicating, but will give us the opportunity to go the depths of our core soul issues on all levels, meaning in a manner impossible for me to describe with the limitations of language.  At the same time, there will be a real opportunity for us to take action to help us transform, as there will be a mutual reception occurring between Mars in Virgo and Mercury in Scorpio (this is because Mars is the traditional ruler of Scorpio, and Mercury is the traditional ruler of Virgo), with an exact sextile between Mars and Mercury on the same day that Mercury is conjunct the Sun in Scorpio and Uranus is exactly square to Pluto.  Since these intense astrological transits on November 1 come with the dawn of the day following Halloween or Samhain, a night in which the veil between the worlds is traditionally viewed as being more open, we will be in a truly magical night to celebrate Halloween and Samhain in 2013, a liminal space to don our archetypal masks and costumes.

In order to refrain from delving into astrology geek terminology that could lose all but the most obsessively astrological among my readers, I have summarized below several important time periods in October and November of 2013 in connection with this time period of Mercury’s retrograde cycle in Scorpio:

October 5 – October 9, 2013

  • Mercury in Scorpio conjunct first the North Node of the Moon, and then Saturn between 7 and 11 degrees of Scorpio.
  • At this time Mercury was also at its greatest distance in elongation from the Sun in its cycle, being 28 degrees ahead of the Sun.

October 18 – October 25, 2013

  • 10/18/13:  Lunar Eclipse at 26 degrees of Aries and Libra
  • 10/19/13:  Mars in Virgo in opposition to Neptune in Pisces at 3 degrees
  • 10/21/13:  Mercury in Scorpio stations retrograde at 18º24′
  • 10/25/13:  Heliacal set in the West at Sunset for Mercury in Scorpio-  Mercury is at the phasis point of being 15 degrees away from the Sun, meaning that Mercury now descends to the Underworld in mythic terminology and will correspond with a more subjective, reflective, and intuitive perception.

October 29 – November 3, 2013

  • 10/29/13:  Mercury in Scorpio retrograde and conjunct Saturn at 14 degrees Scorpio
  • 11/01/13:  Uranus in Aries square Pluto in Capricorn at 9º26′
  • 11/01/13:  Mercury retrograde in Scorpio inferior conjunct the Sun at 9º34′
  • 11/01/13:  Mercury in Scorpio in sextile to Mars in Virgo at 10 degrees
  • 11/03/13:  Solar Eclipse at 12 degrees of Scorpio conjunct Saturn in Scorpio; Mercury retrograde in Scorpio conjunct the North Node of the Moon at 8 degrees Scorpio

November 7 – November 15, 2013

  • 11/07/13:  Jupiter in Cancer stations retrograde at 20º31′
  • 11/09/13:  Heliacal rise in the East at Sunrise for Mercury in Scorpio-  Mercury is once again at the phasis point of 15 degrees behind the Sun, meaning that Mercury now ascends to the Upperworld from the Underworld in mythic terminology and will now correspond with a more objective perception as Mercury stations direct and moves forward as a Morning Star.
  • 11/10/13:  Mercury in Scorpio stations direct at 2º32′ in trine to Neptune in Pisces
  • 11/13/13:  Moon in Aries conjunct Uranus at 10 degrees
  • 11/14/13:  Neptune in Pisces stations direct at 2º35′ in trine to Mercury in Scorpio
  • 11/15/13:  Venus in Capricorn conjunct Pluto at 10 degrees

November 18 – 27, 2013

  • 11/18/13:  Mercury direct conjunct the North Node of the Moon at 7 degrees Scorpio
  • 11/20/13:   Chiron in Pisces stations direct at 9º07′ in trine to Saturn and Mercury in Scorpio
  • 11/26/13:   Mercury direct in Scorpio conjunct Saturn in Scorpio at 16º33′
  • 11/27/13:  Mercury in Scorpio moves beyond its retrograde shadow zone of 19 degrees, while in a wide Grand Water Trine with Jupiter in Cancer, Saturn in Scorpio, and Chiron in Pisces.

filius noster

Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio

The most obvious aspect of the current retrograde cycle of Mercury in Scorpio is that it will be conjunct Saturn in Scorpio three times, and that it occurs in between eclipses.  Just the fact that a Scorpio Mercury in retrograde would conjunct Saturn three times, station retrograde a few days following a Lunar Eclipse, and then have its inferior conjunction with the Sun occur a couple of days before a Solar Eclipse, is amazing timing.  When we consider that the Lunar Eclipse initiating the Mercury retrograde is the first Aries/Libra cardinal eclipse that will become more prevalent in 2014, it gets more interesting, especially since the day of the Uranus-Pluto square and inferior conjunction between Mercury retrograde and the Sun occurs on a dark moon before a Solar Eclipse.  However, when we take in all of the other myriad transits occurring during this time period, outlined above, it becomes even more extraordinary.  If you have planets in your chart around the degrees of 8 to 10 or so, you will especially want to investigate how the upcoming transits will impact your chart.

In addition to the prominence of Saturn in Scorpio in relation to Mercury, the next planet that becomes prominent upon a closer look is Neptune in Pisces.  This is because when Mercury in Scorpio eventually stations direct on November 10, 2013 it will be in trine to Neptune, and then Neptune will also be stationing direct a few days later on November 14, 2013, meaning that Mercury and Neptune will both be stationing direct at the same time in trine to one another.  The connection between this Scorpio Mercury retrograde cycle and Pisces Neptune is deep rooted, and will be important for those of us doing deep processing because the next Mercury retrograde cycle that will happen will be in Pisces and then Aquarius in February of 2014, aligned with Neptune in Pisces to such an extent that when Mercury stations retrograde it will be conjunct Neptune in Pisces.  Thus, at this time and across the next five months, the universe is displaying clear signs of the significant relationship between Mercury retrograde and Neptune in Pisces.  Neptune is a planet of illusion, and while one may argue that all of life is an illusion, it is through our perception of reality and what we choose to focus on through observation or belief that often pulls us into illusory thinking leading to behavior misaligned with how to navigate at an optimal level.  Since the current Scorpio Mercury will conjunct both Saturn and the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio three times during this time period, our greatest growth will come through taking a brutally honest look at ourselves in the mirror and facing our fears and past wounds in a way that helps transform them like a Phoenix in the fire, so that we can more fully experience the now and be more fully alive in the present moment of our current reality.  However, since we will be experiencing this potential at a time of Mercury being retrograde, we will gain awareness of a path toward transformation less through rational analysis and more  through following omens, signs, intuition, and images from dream that arise before us.

In contrast, if we act from a place of past fear or wounding, victimize ourselves or focus on blaming others, it takes us into a greater likelihood of the lower nature of Scorpio, the more manipulative side that will use illusion in order to try to manipulate, control, or shame others.   Even if we are doing our own hard work of authentic and honest processing at this time, it will be important to remember that many people around us will not be doing deep internal work, and that many people may continue to act out or throw tantrums of one kind or another from a state of mind of believing that they understand reality in a way that is not actually connected to the deep, regenerative shifts in reality that will be in process at this time.  Those fixated in belief of one kind or another, unwilling to examine the underpinnings of their beliefs or their judgments toward others, most likely will end up coming into conflict with others to a greater level of intensity than normal as the square between Uranus and Pluto comes into exactness on November 1, 2013.

Traditionally, November 1 is known as the “Day of the Dead,” a time to honor family ancestors through artistic expression and symbolic perception that are perfect for a time of Mercury being retrograde in Scorpio.  However, the Day of the Dead  this year will be an especially auspicious time to also release past family karma that we may discover is a source of limitation for us, as November 1 will be a Dark Moon prior to a Solar Eclipse in which there will be a conjunction in Scorpio between the Sun and Mercury retrograde, in addition to the square between Uranus and Pluto.   A great help will be the Grand Water Trine that has been occurring between Scorpio Saturn, Cancer Jupiter, and Pisces Chiron, the transitional celestial bodies of astrology that help bridge the more personal energy of Mercury, Venus, and Mars with the more galactic and “out there” energy of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.  In fact, Jupiter will be stationing retrograde around the time of the Mercury retrograde cycle when Mercury becomes a Morning Star (this will be discussed in more detail below), and Pisces Chiron will be stationing direct at the end of November at the same time that Mercury will be picking up speed in its forward movement and leaving the retrograde “shadow” zone, meaning that Mercury will be moving past the point of its retrograde stationing at the same time that Chiron in Pisces stations direct.  Among other themes, the stationing of Cancer Jupiter and Pisces Chiron during this time reveals that part of our Scorpio Mercury work will be about ancestral memories, family karma, family dynamics of our early childhood as well as all of the “family” dynamics of one sort or another we have created through relationship in our lifetime.  The more we can sit with and sense the feelings that come up, without moving into a stagnant mindset of victimizaiton or negativity, the more we can work on releasing some habitual thought cycles that have been limiting our full potential and expression.

Finally, it is also significant that this Scorpio Mercury retrograde cycle will feature sextiles between Mercury and both Mars and Venus, meaning that there will also be important opportunities to work on our personal issues and behaviors at this time.  As already mentioned, Mars being in the sign of Virgo and so in mutual reception with Mercury during this retrograde phase is a perfect use of the Virgo Mars energy, an archetype that can utilize various healing techniques and tools to problem solve and fine tune personal issues and patterns.  At the same time of the Lunar Eclipse and the stationing of Mercury retrograde, Mars in Virgo was in direct opposition to Neptune in Pisces, adding even further drive and potential to our ability to deeply examine what sorts of illusions or misguided beliefs or judgments may be operating in our personal sphere of interaction with the world around us.  The exact sextile between Virgo Mars and Scorpio Mercury will come at the same time of the inferior conjunction between Mercury and the Sun on November 1, the same day as the square between Uranus and Pluto- this is an extraordinary moment to align our actions and desires with the shift of feeling and perception we could be experiencing, in order to lead us onto a more fruitful path going forward.  However, on a cautionary note again with the aspects between all of this and Neptune in Pisces, with Scorpio Mercury moving retrograde, we also must remember that what we could be sensing at this time may be existing in the more ethereal or astral realms than in the physical and concrete reality around us.  It is a perfect time, however, to plant the seeds of bright dreams and great visions for our future.

In comparison, Venus will shift into Capricorn and come into an exact sextile with Mercury around the time that Mercury stations direct in trine to Neptune in Pisces.  Within a week, Venus in Capricorn will then become conjunct Pluto and in square to Uranus in Aries.  Again, if we have been processing and releasing we could come into an opportunity to gain a greater capacity to begin manifesting greater abundance for ourselves and others in our life at this time.  However, if we are still clinging to past beliefs and conceptions about our life and reality at this time, we could just as well face a great personal crisis or come into conflict with others.  Since there are so many intense transits occurring during this time, there is no doubt that all of us will be stepping into challenging circumstances that test our mettle, and for those working on developing a more authentic identity for themselves, this newfound sense of identity will also surely be tested.  However, Venus coming into contact with Pluto in Capricorn will also be in sextile to Saturn in Scorpio and the North Node of the Moon, and so the difficulties could also be part of a great transformation we will eventually be grateful occurred in our life.

Hermes

Guide between the Upper and Underworld

Despite a wealth of mythic support for the role of Mercury as being a Guide of Souls, the majority of astrological writing focuses on Mercury as being about communication issues rather than the relationship between our conscious and unconscious perceptions and the core issues of our psyche that connect with our ability to rebirth a more fully actualized Self.  Demetra George has two lectures I recently listened to entitled “Hermes: Guide of Souls” and “Hermes: Guardian of Thresholds” that are available for a total of fifteen dollars on her website, lectures that are well worth the money for anyone interested in gaining a deeper mythic understanding for the Mercury cycle in astrology.  In these two lectures Demetra illustrated how Mercury is a figure who can mediate between the upperworld and the underworld in myth in a similar manner to how in the retrograde cycle we are currently experiencing, Mercury also guides us to a descent into the underworld in order to ascend again back to the upperworld with the potential for a reborn Mercury to utilize in our daily life.

Mercury never goes more than 28 degrees away from the Sun, and fascinatingly enough at the beginning of October 2013 Mercury reached its greatest degree of elongation from the Sun at the same time it became conjunct the North Node of the Moon and Saturn in Scorpio.  This first pass of Mercury across Saturn and the North Node at the time it began to shift into its slower phase that leads to stationing retrograde, set the theme for this cycle as being about taking total responsibility for our responses to and beliefs about life with the type of intensity demanded by a triple conjunction in Scorpio between Mercury, Saturn, and the North Node of the Moon.

During the time from this first conjunction between Mercury, Saturn, and the North Node until now, Mercury has been an evening star and so operating on more of a subjective, instinctual, intuitive, and reflective level of perception.  On October 21 Mercury stationed retrograde as an evening star, deepening and intensifying the intuitive sense of Mercury.  However, an even more important date to focus on is October 25, when Mercury retrograde reaches its phasis point of being 15 degrees ahead of the Sun- this is the Heliacal set in the West of Mercury at Sunset, when Mercury will shift from a visible evening star to becoming invisible, the day in which Mercury descends into the underworld.  From this first day of Mercury’s descent into the underworld up until November 1 when Mercury reaches its inferior conjunction with the Sun, we will be experiencing the most mystical and mysterious Mercury manifestations, a time in which we will more readily receive messages from our unconscious, intuition, dreams, omens, and signs.  As Demetra George has taught, Mercury at this time will be a guide to our subjective and inner realms, and will be able to perceive through symbols more so than the articulation of words.  This period of the Mercury retrograde cycle is similar to the Dark Moon phase, a time in which we gain a greater capacity to release old thought forms and concepts in order to prepare for an integration of the new visions on the horizon ahead of us.  The ability for deep transformation will be facilitated at this time by Mercury retrograde in Scorpio becoming conjunct with Saturn on October 29, a few days after entering the underworld.  This will be a powerful day for intention and to become aware on an intuitive level of what needs to shift and what we can allow to be- we will want to open ourselves at the same time to the possibility that some of the things we are called to shift at this time could be some of the very same things we have drawn great strength and pride from in our past.

Next, on November 1 we will experience the square between Uranus and Pluto at the same time of the inferior conjunction between Mercury retrograde and the Sun in Scorpio.  The inferior conjunction between Mercury and the Sun is like the potent moment of conception of the Mercury retrograde cycle.  Whatever circumstance we find ourselves in on this day, an experience which could be intense as we ride the wave of the Uranus-Pluto square, remember to take the time to do something symbolic, even if only for a moment, to honor the rebirth of Mercury and the potential the moment will offer for us to plant the seeds of a new vision aligned with our passion and purpose.  Remember, as this pivotal moment occurs a couple of days before a Solar Eclipse, we may be in a very disoriented and confused state of mind, so any practices we can take into this time period to help us relax, ground, and be present will be helpful.

Finally, following the Solar Eclipse of November 3, a conjunction between Mercury retrograde in Scorpio and the North Node of the Moon, and then Jupiter in Cancer stationing retrograde on November 7, Mercury will enter its next significant phase of being reborn as a Morning Star and becoming visible again at Sunrise in the East on November 9 when it reaches the phasis point of being 15 degrees behind the Sun.  At this time Mercury will ascend to the upperworld again and become more curious to gather new information with a slight shift to a more objective, logical, and conscious perception as Mercury will station direct on the next day.  In the weeks following November 10, Mercury will begin picking up speed as it moves direct enthusiastically as the fleet footed messenger again, finally moving out of it’s retrograde zone on November 27, 2013.

the_magus_tots_lg

The phase of Mercury retrograde we will enter on October 25 when the Heliacal set at Sunset occurs not only corresponds to Mercury descending into the underworld, it also corresponds to Mercury functioning as the archetypal Magician.  Hermes in ancient Greek myth performed magical acts at various times, and then in Hellenistic Egypt the ulitmate magician, Hermes Trismegistus was created through an alchemical combination of the mythic figures of Hermes and Thoth.  In tarot, however, Mercury has always been connected to The Magician and linked to an ability to use all of the elements, all resources and techniques at one’e disposal, to completely transform one’s life through a clear and strong intention, vivid invocation of a new vision, and the channeling of universal energy.  In the image of the Magus above painted by Joyce Eakins from the Tarot of the Spirit deck, one can see the elemental tools of the pentacle, wand, sword, and cup:  the use of elemental tools to transform our lives not only corresponds to the Scorpio Mercury retrograde phase we are entering now, but also to the mutual reception with Mars in Virgo that will be ripening to an exact sextile on the day of the inferior conjunction between Mercury and the Sun, the day of conception for our reborn Mercury.  Mars in Virgo is a tool user, so it will be wise at this time to center within ourselves through each of our own unique creative gifts, tools, and techniques.

Like many other tarot decks, the Tarot of the Spirit deck from which The Magus image above is from connects tarot with not only Astrology, but also the Qabalistic Tree of Life.  Mercury as The Magician card reveals the primal role Mercury plays in our process of manifesting form in our life through the Tree of Life, as The Magus connects the first path of Kether or “The Gate of Potential,” with the third path of Binah, or “The Gate of Form.”  Kether corresponds with the aces of the deck and the concept of Source, the Source of all existence, whereas Binah corresponds with the divine feminine and mother, the realm of receptivity.  The only other major arcana directly connected to Kether are The Fool and The High Priestess, so in this way Mercury as The Magician is able to help us transform our lives through wielding the elemental tools because it is the direct conduit between Source and Form in our reality.  During this Mercury retrograde time in Scorpio, a time period that may correspond with great calamity around us, may we each take the moment to ground and realize our potential to transform not only our thinking, perception, and communication, but also the very fabric of our lives.

References

Eakins, Pamela. (1992).  Tarot of the Spirit. Weiser.

George, Demetra. (2008).  Lecture on Hermes: Guide of Souls.

George, Demetra. (2012).  Lecture on Hermes: Guardian of Thresholds. UAC.

Wikipedia on “Liminality.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liminality

An angel watches over an argument between Ceres and Mercury

Euphoria winged heart

In Pisces Time

  • Venus is conjunct Neptune in Pisces at 2 – 4 degrees.

  • Sun is conjunct Chiron in Pisces at 9 – 10 degrees.

  • Mercury retrograde is conjunct Mars in Pisces at 19 -20 degrees.

Pisces is always on our minds at this time of year, the end of Winter in our northern hemisphere, with green shoots soon to be Narcissus poking through the dark earth.  This February and March, however, has more Piscean energy than normal.  The Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Chiron, and Neptune are all in Pisces, with Mercury retrograde combined with Mars, Venus combined with Neptune, and the Sun combined with Chiron now at the end of February.  The Pisces-Virgo full moon that just occurred on February 25 was within a couple degrees of Chiron in Pisces.

Pisces is an archetype of the infinite and timeless, of the higher Spirit, God, or Goddess interconnecting all of life, in all dimensions and realms.  Moving in time with Pisces means moving in rhythm more with kairos time, the opportune or intuitively correct time to do something, more so than chronos time, the chronological time we “should” do something.  In Pluto: An Evolutionary Journey of the Soul, Jeff Green links the Taoist concept of Wu Wei with the Pisces and the 12th House archetype.  Green explained that wu wei is an important Piscean development of awareness to act in accordance with the needs of the eternal now, more so than the needs of our egocentric point of view.  Therefore, if decisive action is required, we act directly; if it is a harmonious time to become more internal and self-reflective, we can enter a more contemplative state of being.  My cousin, who has been studying the Tao through acupuncture and qi gong, told me that  wu wei is “actionless action,” “action without action,” or “doing without doing” because if you are in line with the Cosmos, “then all of your actions are completely in integrity and you influence the world without trying.  The political idea (from ancient China) would be a ‘sage king’ who is so attuned with the Universe that the kingdom and all the subjects benefit without him doing anything. The simplest image . . . is to flow like water.”

Now that Mercury is moving retrograde in Pisces, it will take extra effort for us to keep up with chronos time and the deadline-bound demands, expectations, and responsibilities of our daily work and life.  It will be harder to make it to work on time or have an expected project completed by a specific deadline unless we place a lot of conscious focus there to make it happen.  In contrast, it could be easier to drift off into a more creative, artistic, and reflective pursuit that may on the surface appear to be escapist and not make much sense to the expectations of others around us.  We must be careful, however, of escapist desires that are masking deeper wounds in our psyche we do not want to face;  the Mercury retrograde and Mars conjunction in Pisces right now is in square to Ceres in Gemini, which could reflect addictions and compulsions we fixate on such as over-eating, drug use, or co-dependent relationships in order to provide for our nurturing needs in a grasping manner, instead of finding ways to nurture ourselves that keep us on a healthier path.  Also, remember that Mercury and Mars were traveling together direct in Pisces for most of the month of February before only recently coming into a square with Gemini Ceres; earlier in February Pisces Mercury and Mars were conjunct Chiron in Pisces and squaring Jupiter in Gemini.  Thus, throughout February the Mercury and Mars conjunction in Pisces could have reflected us stridently acting and perceiving events from an emotional perspective that could be either distorted by limiting beliefs or past unhealed wounds.  In contrast, if we have been working on facing past patterns and issues with intention of transformation, we could make choices from a more intuitively feeling place we have helped cultivate through a mindful practice of some sort that helps us heal and purify our inner psyche to create a healthier root foundation for our actions.  Now that Mercury has shifted into a retrograde phase, there could arise more discrepancy between our internal desires for what we want to do with our time and energy versus the external demands of our environment for our time and energy.  The strong squares from Gemini Jupiter and Gemini Ceres, the ultimate divine sister and brother team, to all of the intense Pisces energy of the moment could place us in fast moving and shifting situations full of turmoil and chaos.

From my personal experience during this time period, the universe has been asking me to embrace a higher level of frequency and speed in my daily life, a need to attune to quickly shifting needs relating to my daily work responsibilities.  My Mercury and Midheaven are at 4 degrees of Pisces and have been especially struck with Pisces transits recently, as well as my Pallas Athena at 9 degrees, and Sun at 28 degrees of Pisces conjunct Jupiter, all in my 10th House.  The difficulty has been balancing the myriad needs of my work environment with my own needs for personal time and the needs of loved ones in personal relationship with me.  I have felt, however, that the Universe has been asking me to think, process, make choices, and act at a faster rate and a higher frequency, not so much as multi-task as being able to focus on one thing and then shift focus to another. It has felt like an important time of preparation to be ready to face greater responsibilities and challenges in the near future.

The Venus-Neptune conjunction just coming into manifestation at this time can help with a greater heart opening and awareness of where we need to direct our love and energy moment to moment.  Venus and Neptune combined in Pisces can certainly lead us down illusionary paths, make us more prone to be lost in a fantasy world.  However, if we have been on a path of intention recently to connect more with our true Soul path in life, then this current conjunction of Venus and Neptune can help our heart pierce the shell of crystallized patterns, habits, and emotions we protect our true vulnerability with, for us to open to the potential of expressing unconditional love and faith in our daily life.

In the greater cosmic context of the ripening Pluto-Uranus square, with Saturn in Scorpio moving retrograde, the potential heart opening of Venus and Neptune together in Pisces could even feel shattering.  In current events, it is symbolically fitting that the Pope resigned earlier in February with the intense Pisces conjunctions of Mercury, Mars, Neptune, and Chiron, as the structure of the Catholic church is being shaken in a Uranian way for a potential Plutonic transformation.  Pisces, an archetype in line with the true message of Jesus, fittingly has intense energy being expressed at the same time a bright light is being shone upon the “viper’s nest” of political intrigue amongst Cardinals and other catholic power structure elite who have been covering up sexual abuse and other corrupt practices within the Church.  Whether or not Catholic officials choose to take this moment of “divine intervention” to truly attempt to reform and remake their structure,the opportunity has presented itself.

In our personal lives, the Sun currently being conjunct Chiron in Pisces, the recent conjunctions of Mars and Mercury with Chiron, as well as the conjunction of Venus and Chiron in Pisces in the near future, point to the combined archetypes of Chiron with Pisces being important in this time.  The Chiron archetype is often described as a wounded healer ability we have to heal and transform others as a gift from having done the hard work of facing our own wounds.  However, Chiron is also the trainer of heroes, and we are being asked to step more deeply into our special heroic identity and destiny at this time.  The call of our heroic journey has been more piercing recently because Chiron in Pisces has been in the process of being tested by a square from Jupiter in Gemini.   Integral to this process of stepping into our “Hero’s Journey,” as Joseph Campbell so famously illuminated, is the archetype and function of Mercury.  Mercury first moved direct conjunct Chiron while being conjunct Mars in Pisces at the same time at the beginning of February.  This was a time to begin to harmonize our force of Will (Mars) with how our sense of perception (Mercury) is shaped in relation to our Chiron issues: our wounded past, our special gifts and talents buried in our psyche, and the tremendous strength we can mine from going deep inside to confront our personal demons and fears, gaining the ability to re-emerge with gifts we can share with the people we attract into our life.  Recently Mercury stationed retrograde and became conjunct with Mars once again in Pisces, and now Mercury has embarked on his retrograde journey into our personal underworld, eventually becoming conjunct Chiron again moving retrograde, stationing direct around the Spring Equinox, and then moving direct to conjunct Chiron a third time in the Spring of 2013.

To put it all in a mystorical perspective, Mercury moving retrograde in Pisces at this time is like Hermes journeying into the underworld in order to negotiate a release of Persephone from Hades so that she can return to her mother Demeter.  The Gemini Ceres squaring the Pisces Mercury-Mars conjunction is like the anger and rage of Demeter over losing her daughter Persephone to the underworld and Hades.  She is furious at her brother Zeus for allowing it to happen, and so Zeus convinces Hermes to brave the underworld in order to guide Persephone back to the arms of her mother.  Taking my own creative license with the myth, I feel that Demeter as the Great Goddess of Earth and fertility would clearly have had strong opinions about exactly how Hermes should proceed and attend to the safety of her daughter; Hermes, being slippery and intelligent enough to negotiate not only the underworld but also the power of Hades, likewise would have had the ability to hold his own with Demeter in an intense debate about how he would have to negotiate with Hades.  Ultimately, Hermes is able to retrieve Persephone from the underworld, but it came at a price that Demeter would have to compromise in a Piscean manner of surrender:  Persephone would spend half of the year above ground with her mother Demeter, and the other half of the year presiding over the dead and guiding Souls in the afterlife in the underworld with her partner Hades.  The fact that this tragedy that befell Demeter ultimately resulted in our seasons of the year, the glorious fertility of Spring, and our corresponding conscious awareness of the rebirth from death element inherent to creation, means that her letting go of attachment to possessing Persephone has a fated quality linked to the guidance of the angelic realm.  This theme can be mirrored in our personal lives today anywhere that we are overly attached to based upon our nurturing needs, needs that often have to do with unresolved wounds from our childhood and later personality development.  If we are creating suffering for ourselves because of grasping to control or possess an object of desire, we may be forced to surrender and let go of it in order to find the Piscean faith that our lives will ultimately work out in a manner that will help us heal and rebirth ourselves in a manner for the greatest good.  Ceres and the Demeter myth have a lot to teach us about grief: our reactive ego parts of personality may feel like bitterly reacting with vengeance like Demeter, refusing to express our fertile love in our environment, metaphorically refusing to let flowers, life, and the harvest bloom around us.  If we keep in mind the wisdom that is often symbolized by the concept of Angelic guides, however, we can keep in mind that new life and creation will come out of the death and grief process, we can realize that new exciting endeavors await us.  Reflecting the recent transits of Chiron, Neptune, Mars, Mercury, the Sun, and Venus over the fixed star Fomalhaut, the Archangel available to guide us on our hero’s quest at this time is Gabriel.

Fomalhaut

The Archangel Gabriel

Archangel_Gabriel_(Gelati)

  • Fomalhaut is a fixed star at 3°52′ of Pisces, a reddish star in the mouth of the Southern Fish, Piscis Austrinus.

  • Neptune in Pisces is conjunct Fomalhaut from May 1, 2012 until February 22, 2014.

  • Neptune will be especially close to Fomalhaut from March 16 until March 31, 2013 (also August 20 until September 7, 2013,  and from January 15 until February 1, 2014).

  • Pisces Mars conjunct Neptune on February 4, 2013 was conjunct Fomalhaut

  • Pisces Mercury conjunct Neptune on February 6 was conjunct Fomalhaut

  • Pisces Mercury conjunct Mars on February 8 was conjunct Fomalhaut

  • Pisces Sun conjunct Neptune on February 20 was conjunct Fomalhaut

  • Pisces Venus conjunct Neptune on February 28 is conjunct Fomalhaut

  • Dark Moon in Pisces conjunct Neptune on March 10 is conjunct Fomalhaut

Fomalhaut is a fixed star at four degrees of Pisces, also known as the Archangel Gabriel star.   In the 3rd Century B.C., Fomalhaut marked zero degrees of Capricorn, the Winter Solstice.  It became associated with the archangel Gabriel as one of the four key archangel stars and the watcher of the South, along with Aldebaran (Michael, watcher of the East), Regulus (Raphael, watcher of the North), and Antares (Oriel, watcher of the West).  The temple of Demeter at Eleusis held daily sunrise worship of Fomalhaut around 500 B.C.¹  Thus, there is a herstorical and historical connection between the Angel Gabriel and the Goddess Demeter.

Gabriel is an angel who has made appearances in some of the most famous scenes of the dominant world religions of today:  in the Bible, he appeared to Daniel to aid in explaining the significance of his visions, he is the angel who appeared to the Virgin Mary in order to explain about the birth of Jesus, and he also appeared to Zechariah to foretell the birth of John the Baptist.  In the Qu’ran, Gabrielle is the angel who delivers the message of the Qu’ran to the prophet Muhammad³.  Thus, there is an otherworldly quality to Fomalhaut and Gabrielle that go well with the energy of Pisces: an ability to perceive beyond the limitations we often put upon our reality, to feel the meaning of visions and dreams, and to also have the ability to communicate the significance of these visions in a message that others can understand.

Fomalhaut seems to be a misunderstood star that is similar to the archetype of Pisces, known to reflect poetic, artistic, and spiritual gifts as well as propensity toward illusion and delusion².  Those who have the ability to perceive more of the phenomenal world than others who are more limited by consensus reality, run the risk of being labeled crazy by authorities of consensus reality.  Apparently, Ptolemy viewed Fomalhaut as having the nature of Venus and Mercury, and many astrologers today see it as combining the archetype of Neptune as well¹.  With Neptune currently being conjunct Fomalhaut as well as Venus, we can be guided at this time to write or create art, transform whatever difficulties or stress we are dealing with into poetry and art.  Gabriel is the most poetic, artistic, and magical of the four archangels, and the most peaceful as well².  The otherworldly quality of this star being transited by Neptune and Venus now could reflect a propensity of ours to become more spaced out, less grounded, and more inwardly focused upon ourselves and our spiritual or artistic interests–  ideal for a time period in which Mercury is retrograde in Pisces.

Similar to warnings about the Pisces archetype, we must be careful to not perceive ourselves, our reality, and others around us in relationship through the lens of being a victim when we are dealing with the Fomalhaut archetype.  Instead of using our perceptual abilities to see beyond reality in order to express spiritual visions or artistic depths, we distortedly filter everything through a victimizing perspective that sees or feels things that are not truly there.  We can become victim of our own thoughts and beliefs that lead us to our own suffering.  Put those hard feelings into some form of art instead!  Through the process of art and creativity, we can express a larger spectrum of our feelings and emotions, integrating greater meaning into the complex archetypal symbolism of a fairy tale or artwork than we could by trying to more logically explain what has been difficult about our experiences.

A famous example is the late Olympia singer songwriter Kurt Cobain, born with his Sun, his soul purpose, conjunct Fomalhaut. Kurt put his difficulties as a homeless youth with mental health issues into his art, his guitar playing, and channeled his heart through his voice into songs, lyrics, and a primal scream that connected with millions of youth crossing through their individuation process while expressing the message of the punk lifestyle deep into mainstream and consensus consciousness, temporarily taking over the corporate media outlets even.  He was able to attract widespread fame and a massive generational audience to his work, able to pierce through mass consciousness to a core feeling of Piscean empathy that crossed over many diverse audience backgrounds.  Fomalhaut is a Piscean and angelic archetype that knows how to navigate the avenues of fame and fortune, following illusion after illusion at times.

In our retelling of the Persephone myth, I can imagine the Archangel Gabriel watching over and helping a hurt and grieving Ceres come to a greater understanding of the great prophecy and mystery she is becoming a part of, a story that did indeed become embedded in the Eleusian Mysteries.  According to Demetra George in Asteroid Goddesses, the Eleusinian Mysteries were enacted for two thousand years (1600 BC to 400 AD) and were the major initiation rites in the ancient world. George described “the esoteric level taught by the initiates of the Eleusinian Mysteries…[was] the great transformation mystery- the cycle of birth, death, and renewal” (p.44).  Integrating esoteric knowledge into initiation rituals in which participants re-enact characters and events of ancient myths seems like a perfect use of the poetic Fomalhaut archetype.  From the mythic perspective, by releasing her daughter to become the Queen of the underworld who can help guide the Souls of the dead to their eventual rebirth, Ceres is able to contribute to greater collective spiritual understanding as well as gain the ability to spend quality time on Earth with her daughter in the Spring and Summer.

Ceres

Ceres statue

  • Ceres stationed direct on February 10, 2013 in Gemini at 20 degrees.  Gemini Ceres was inconjunct the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio at this time.

  • The Heliocentric North Node of Ceres is 20 degrees Gemini

  • Pisces Mercury stationed retrograde in square to Gemini Ceres on February 23, 2013

  • Gemini Ceres squared the conjunction of Mercury retrograde and Mars in Pisces on February 26, 2013

  • Venus in Pisces will square Ceres in Gemini on March 18, 2013

  • The North Node of the Moon in Scorpio has been inconjunct Ceres in Gemini from Ferbruary 7 until March 1, 2013.

  • The asteroid Persephone is currently conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio and widely conjunct Saturn retrograde in Scorpio

  • The asteroid Persephone will station retrograde conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio at 18 degrees on March 14, 2013

  • The asteroid Persephone will be closely conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio at 18 degrees from March 24 until March 26, 2013

  • The asteroid Persephone will eventually be conjunct Saturn retrograde in Scorpio on May 28, 2013 at 7 degrees.

Ceres, also known as Demeter in Greek myth, recently stationed direct at 20 degrees of Gemini on February 10, 2013.  This zodiacal degree is especially significant because it is the heliocentric north node of Ceres:  meaning the north node from the perspective of the Sun (in contrast to the geocentric nodes, from the perspective of Earth, commonly used by astrologers).  At the 2011 Evolutionary Astrology conference, Demetra George gave a brilliant lecture on Ceres in which she illuminated the meaning of this heliocentric Gemini north node:  the development of the rational or logical mind in Femininity and Matriarchal consciousness.  When Demetra was speaking (in November 2011) I tried to write down as much of her message as possible, the fruits of which follow in the passages below.

Developing our rational or logical minds may seem unnecessary in this time period we find ourselves in, dominated by a cultural worldview that is overly rational and negates the feelings of the Anima Mundi that runs through all of life.  Instead of feeling the energy and messages in the trees, animals, water, and life around us, many in the dominant culture choose to view human beings and the narrow pursuits of humans as being the only viable life force to take account of.  However, while paying attention to our intuition is important, there can be something to be said for developing our logic when we fall victim to our emotions and feelings overwhelming us to such an extent that we begin to perceive things in distorted ways unconnected from reality and what the universe is providing for us to act upon in a moment of grounded presence.  We can also use our rational mind to analyze past patterns of behavior to see where we have been stuck or distorted with our thought patterns and work to begin to shift our perspective through mindful practices of gratitude, creative affirmations, or other techniques.

Thus, if the heliocentric North Node of Ceres is Gemini, it draws attention to an evolutionary development of the archetype away from the dogmatic beliefs of it’s heliocentric South Node in Sagitarius.  Sagitarius can be helpful at times through development of a strong value and belief system we can act from through intuition at any moment.  However, when we become stuck or fixated in a certain belief system, believe that others should also have the same belief system perspective that we do, attempt to convince or manipulate others to develop the same belief system as ourselves, or become stuck on a certain belief that is ultimately creating a limited perspective of reality for us, that is when we are heading into the dogmatic danger zone of Sagitarius.  There is a reason we humans developed the scientific method, after all, and there is good use the Goddess Ceres can make of it.  The logic and rational elements of the scientific method, the mutable nature of it that can shift perspective according to evidence manifesting in reality, is after all how humans such as Kepler and Copernicus were able to prove that our planet is revolving around a Sun in a greater universe, as opposed to the universe revolving around our planet.

Along these lines, in the myth Ceres is so devastated by the loss of her daughter Persephone that she loses connection with her passion and purpose to bring fertility to the Earth, and the Earth goes barren as a result.  Ceres uses opiates to escape from her pain and clearly views herself to be a victim in the scenario.  Unfortunately, events take an even greater tragic turn when she becomes raped by Poseidon, aka Neptune.  This event not only symbolizes the  oppression we are at risk of undergoing from the Patriarchy, especially women, it also symbolizes the indescribably tragic horrors that can happen to us when we become overwhelmed by our emotions to such an extent that we lose connection with our passions and purpose in life.  Lots of Pisces energy does not mean everyone is going to be mellow and meditative; instead, there is the potential for lots of anger, escapism, addictions,  and rage, especially with Mars and Mercury conjunct in Pisces.

However, the healing of Ceres from the rape of Poseidon reveals another Piscean avenue of healing:  purification from water.  Ceres releases and heals her anger and rage at Poseidon while taking a bath in a river.   Although she may have become angry or argumentative with Mercury for not being able to retrieve Persephone so that they could spend the entire year together,  in the end, through many trials and tribulations, Ceres is able to gain the logical perception that being able to have her daughter back with her for at least half of the year is better than nothing, and finally that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few in this case because of the multitudes of Souls her daughter will be able to help and heal through returning to the underworld to rule over the kingdom of the Dead.

Synchronistically, the asteroid Persephone at this moment in time is moving with the evolutionary journey of everyone on this planet, currently moving toward a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio.  This will become even more intense in mid-March when Persephone will station retrograde conjunct the Scorpio North Node, and then move backwards along with the retrograde motion of the North Node.  Eventually in late May of 2013, Persephone will have moved far enough back in Scorpio to be conjunct Saturn in Scorpio.  The amazing symbolism of these cosmic events clearly highlights the Scorpio power that Persephone ultimately claims for herself in the myth by owning her relationship with Pluto and becoming the Queen of the underworld who is able to help guide and heal the Souls of the dead.  In our own lives, we can step into this power no matter how difficult, tragic, oppressive, or cataclysmic our experiences feel: if we face the situation courageously we will activate a deep well of ability we may not normally utilize inside of our self.  Persephone does not end up being a victim: she becomes the Queen of Spirit.

Therefore, Persephone is connected with our evolutionary journey forward at this time.  According to Demetra George in Finding Our Way Through the Dark, the Persephone archetype in our birth charts involve issues surrounding our separation from our mother and “how and where, either physically or psychologically, we may be abducted and plunged into an underworld experience (sometimes at an early age) where we encounter terror, loss, and confusion, and feelings of abandonment” (p. 101).  Persephone in Scorpio is making this underworld feeling described by Demetra George even more intense:

This descent can enable us to develop a relationship with the hidden forces in our unconscious, activate our psychic abilities, release the past, discover a new sense of our adult self and strengths, and emerge transformed and renewed. Some individuals who experience Persephone as a tragedy from which they have never recovered may react by developing patterns of distrust, withdrawal, fear of sexuality and intimacy, fantasy life, depression, chemical addictions, separation anxieties, victimization, passivity and powerlessness, and being acted upon by the strong will of others (p. 101).

Persephone in Scorpio also reflects our potential to step into the eagle aspect of the archetype, taking responsibility and power in our own daily lives and being an effective guide for the transformation of others.  Scorpio Persephone could reflect a latent psychic gift inside our psyche awaiting our cultivation and development.

In contrast, Ceres in Gemini will be showing up in our lives as themes, issues, events, and people in which or with which we have a nurturing role or relationship.  Certainly anything that has to do with the birth or raising of our own biological children or issues with our parents, but also anywhere in our lives in which we are taking on a nurturing role with more of a collective family.  For example, anyone who is a teacher knows the caring vibration you develop for your students, and anyone who works in the social services, mental health field, or medical field, also is well aware of the caring vibration you develop for the people coming to you looking for healing.  Challenges with the people we are working with to help may be triggered at this time, calling us to devise more effective methods at meeting their needs, but more importantly helping them meet their own needs.  Our work with Ceres in Gemini at this time will involve the use of our Mercurial functions of perception, analysis, and communication in order to help nurture ourselves so that we can be come strong nurturers and advocates for others.  In Asteroid Goddesses Demetra George described another Mercurial Ceres issue we may be dealing with now, as she explained that stressful aspects between Ceres and Mercury “indicate difficulties in communicating one’s nurturance needs to others, especially the family.  A common example is the person who expects others to know what he or she needs without having to say so, and becomes angry when the other person doesn’t ‘come through'” (p. 72).  George also described stressful aspects between Mars and Ceres as reflecting feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, or powerlessness and that the resolution is to balance “self-will with the desire to nurture and be nurtured” (p. 73).  We can use Mercurial functions to help with this such as creative affirmations or visualization-  in any case, George suggests that we  remember we have the opportunity to transform our “subconscious self-image and replace thoughts of fear and inadequacy with those of confidence, courage, and self-reliance” (p. 73).

Interestingly, this pairing of Ceres with Mercurial functions goes very nicely with the elevation of Ceres to dwarf planet status, the same planetary classification as her nemesis Pluto.  In the December/January issue of The Mountain Astrologer, Maria Kay Simms elucidated a logical argument for making Ceres the modern day ruler of Virgo.  Not only is the Goddess Ceres the actual constellation used with the Virgo archetype, going step-by-step through the assignment of modern day planetary rulership would make Virgo the next in line to receive a modern day ruler, which in synchronicity happens to be Ceres (Ceres was elevated to current planetary status in 2006;  since Eris was elevated in 2003, Simms in the same article argues that Eris should be the modern day ruler of Libra).

Mercury

Mercury and Pegasus

  • Mercury is retrograde in Pisces from February 23 until March 17, 2013

  • Mercury in Pisces moves direct beyond the “retrograde shadow” stationing point on April 6, 2013

  • Mercury and Neptune conjunct in Pisces on February 6, 2013 at 3 degrees.

  • Mercury and Mars conjunct in Pisces on February 8 at 6 degrees, in square to Jupiter in Gemini.

  • Mercury retrograde and Mars conjunct in Pisces on February 26 at 20 degrees, in square to Ceres in Gemini.

  • Venus conjunct Mercury retrograde in Pisces on March 6 at 12 degrees, in square to Jupiter in Gemini.

  • Mercury will have final square with Ceres in this cycle on April 16, 2013 with Mercury in Aries and Ceres in Cancer at 4 degrees.  The Mercury-Ceres square of this time will be within 5-7 degrees of the Uranus-Pluto square.

  • Mercury will have final conjunction with Mars in this cycle in Taurus at 14 degrees on May 7, 2013.

Pisces in Mercury may make some think of a poet, or an overly sensitive dreamer who lacks assertion, but during this time in which Mercury and Mars are traveling together in Pisces the energy will be more like a strident Pegasus stubbornly breaking free of any attempt to reign the energy in.  As I wrote about in one of my first blog posts in August 2012, I love the heroic quality of the Mercury archetype, who appears in myths as Hermes or Mercury over and over again to make truly miraculous acts of heroic rescue.  Mercury is the one God who is repeatedly able to travel down to the depths of the underworld and handle himself enough to rescue a Soul in order for a return to the upperworld.  In the myth of Demeter and Persephone, Zeus knows that the only being capable of negotiating a return of Persephone from Pluto back to her mother Demeter, is Hermes.

On an archetypal psychology level, we are able to use our Mercurial functions of perception to explore our dreams, visions, and unconscious patterns that can have great impact on how we are perceiving reality on a conscious level.  When Mercury travels retrograde, it is like the same symbolic movement of Hermes traveling into the underworld to communicate with Persephone.  Before Persephone was abducted by Pluto, or chose to go with Pluto as the more ancient versions before the invasion of the Patriarchy tell it, she was a young maiden who had not yet explored the dark depths of her psyche or come to an understanding of the unconscious elements of her psyche that influence her daily conscious choices.  For example, if she really chose to be taken by Pluto at that time, was she really aware of why she would have been attracting that situation to herself?  In the end, whether or not she chose to be taken by Pluto does not really matter because Persephone ultimately faced the reality of her situation of being trapped in the underworld and stepped fully into her power as the Queen of the Spirit world.  When Mercury finally reaches her, he is not able to negotiate a complete release of Persephone back to her mother Demeter and the lush green world of the Earth’s surface.  As a result, Persephone becomes a bridge between the upperworld and the underworld, between the unconscious and the conscious, and a powerful symbol of the human ability to explore archetypal patterns of our collective and individual consciousness, and to guide others toward a healing and holistic rebirth of their fractured and fragmented unconscious.

The heroic ability of Mercury in myth to travel back and forth from the underworld to the upperworld, from the unconscious to the conscious, mirrors the human ability to use our minds and perceptions to explore what can appear like otherworldy phenomenon that can be at the root of our perceptual nature.  When Carl Jung wrote and illustrated his Red Book, for example, he may on the surface have appeared to be lost and crazy to others.  However, the legacy of the work he was able to take from his Red Book explorations, his ability to also use his Mercury function to then logically structure writing and communication that could express some of the unexpressable knowledge he had received to a mass audience, ultimately caused a collective revolution in psyche that is being used today by countless healers to help others find and heal themselves.

This ability of Mercury to bring logical written form and structure to otherworldly perceptions and visions, to encode the meaning of the message in the form of a myth, story, or fairy tale, or more analytically organize the message into a more academic psychological or scientific theory, is the power of Mercury in Pisces combined with Fomalhaut, the archangel Gabriel.  In Asteroid Goddesses, Demetra George described how the myth of Ceres versus Pluto was used to transmit esoteric knowledge and healing to participants, and how this transformative process is reflected today in Mercurial explorations of our inner psyche:

Within the framework of this archetypal drama, the Eleusinian Mysteries led their initiates through the drama of Ceres and Persephone, of loss and return. First, the story was retold; then, in the Lesser Mysteries, the participants identified with the story’s action; finally, in the Greater Mysteries, they received a vision and revelation that the great mythic drama took place within themselves. These rites are still taking place today, as reported by psychotherapists who have observed the symbols of the ancient initiatory process emerging in their patients’dreams and fantasies. Thus, Ceres’ rites of passage are now being lived out on the inner planes as stages of psychic transformation (p. 45).

Just as the angel Gabriel brought the message of the Qu’ran to the prophet Muhammad, the message of the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary, so can we make sense and order out of perceptions we have during this time that may seem wild and illogical at first.  At the beginning of February, Mercury was moving direct conjunct Fomalhaut at the same time it was conjunct Neptune and Mars; days before the Spring Equinox when Mercury stations direct it will be in range of a conjunction to Fomalhaut once again.  And then Mercury will move direct and eventually be conjunct Mars for the final time in this cycle on May 7, at the height of Spring in full bloom, a potentially peak time to fully manifest the visions currently simmering inside. At this Spring Equinox, as Persephone returns from the underworld to her mother Demeter, as flowers rise out of the earth, and birdsong returns to the trees, we will likewise have the opportunity to bring form, order, and manifestation to new visions arising from within.

Demeter finds Persephone

References

  1. http://www.constellationsofwords.com/stars/Fomalhaut.html
  2. http://www.darkstarastrology.com/fomalhaut
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel
  4. George, Demetra. Asteroid Goddesses.
  5. George, Demetra. Finding Our Way through the Dark.
  6. Green, Jeff. Pluto: the Evolutionary Journey of the Soul.