New Moon in Virgo

 
paul klee the gate of night

The Gate of the Night (1921) by Paul Klee

New Moon in Virgo

The New Moon in Virgo on September 17 draws a season to a close, initiating us into the final season of 2020. While the heat of Summer transitions into the crisp coolness of Autumn in the northern hemisphere, in the southern hemisphere the lunation demarcates the end of Winter and the dawning of Spring. It’s a time of seasonal balancing, with the amount of light and darkness we experience in a day temporarily reaching an equilibrium on the Libra equinox which will occur five days later on September 22. The darkness of the Virgo New Moon is ideal for centering within one’s inner light, sensing surrounding circumstances with full awareness. 

The Virgo Moon is separating from a trine with Pluto and applying toward a trine with Saturn in Capricorn, providing an opportunity to slow down and ground into deeper presence with whatever challenges and difficulties we have been contending with. After completing a trine with Saturn, the Virgo Moon will form a quincunx with Mars retrograde in Aries as the slowly moving red planet intensifies in the tension that it will continue to build with Saturn for the rest of September. The astrology of the next couple of months will not be getting any easier, and so we need to lean into any trouble brewing with discernment rather than trying to escape from problems through denial or distraction.

The strength of the Virgo New Moon is found in the dark caves and black stones of Saturn. The trine from the lights in Virgo with Saturn in Capricorn may feel melancholic due to the tumult of current events, yet the pondering contemplation of Saturn will be what we need to cultivate in the forthcoming lunar cycle. We need to engage with the side of Saturn open to the mystery of the unknown and willing to reflect upon the fullness of the moment, rather than being overly defensive, rigid, and righteously insisting on control or trying to force what we want to have happen. As Saturn begins to slow down en route to stationing direct on September 29, we will be most effective through deep reflection in decision making and taking the time necessary rather than rushing.

Mercury in Libra rules the New Moon and is forming an exact square aspect with Jupiter in Capricorn. Mercury is in the bounds of Jupiter and on the superior side of the square aspect, enabling a thorough questioning of our beliefs about what has been happening so we can make adjustments attuned with the reality of the moment rather than wishful thinking. Mercury will next form a square with Pluto on September 20 followed by a square with Saturn on September 23 as it simultaneously moves into a tense opposition with Mars. With Mercury in the exaltation of Saturn, we can combine the nuanced flexibility of Mercury with the reflective depth of Saturn to come to terms with how we need to handle whatever volatility is being stirred up by Mars retrograde in Aries.

the third shape kay sage

In the Third Sleep (1944) by Kay Sage

The New Moon is at the northern bending of the lunar nodes, forming a square aspect with the North Node of the Moon in Gemini and the South Node of the Moon in Sagittarius. This means that we are at the midpoint in between eclipse seasons, as the Sun last formed a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon when there was a Solar Eclipse on June 21 and will be forming a conjunction with the South Node of the Moon when there is a Solar Eclipse in Sagittarius on December 14. Like the view gained from climbing mountainous peaks, the Virgo New Moon offers a far ranging perspective to help mediate whatever turning points in narratives are arising. Since Mercury and Jupiter, the rulers of the lunar nodes, are colliding in an exact square there is likely a significant twist in your story occurring that will need your undivided attention.

Furthermore, Neptune retrograde in Pisces is five degrees away from a square with the lunar nodes at their southern bending. The square between Neptune and the lunar nodes will be slowly getting tighter during the rest of 2020, with Neptune forming an exact square with the lunar nodes in January 2021. Neptune is more than halfway through its retrograde phase that stretches from June 22 to November 28, having formed an opposition with the Virgo Sun on September 11. With the Virgo New Moon separating from Neptune, the lunation contains more of a movement away from the mists of Neptune rather than into its otherworldly fog. It will be especially important to sift through any lessons learned from recent experiences of disillusionment to help in reorienting toward a more realistic assessment of your situation.

The Philosophia Hermetica

from The Philosophia Hermetica (1790) by Federico Gualdi

While the incendiary heat of Mars retrograde in Aries is only at its beginning stages, the week following the Virgo New Moon will bring a critical juncture of Mercury moving through square aspects with Pluto and Saturn into an opposition with Mars on September 24. A balance will need to be struck between opening to new desires being stoked by Mars while patiently working through whatever obstacles and tests are being set in place by Saturn. It’s a period for laying the foundation of long-term goals rather than grasping for short-term gratification. Yet despite setbacks, it will not be a time to forsake our most authentic and essential desires but rather to allow them to be reshaped and reforged by the crucible of Saturn and Pluto. 

In addition to forming a square with Saturn on September 23 and an opposition with Mars on September 24, Mercury also will be crossing into the “retrograde shadow” degrees of its upcoming retrograde motion that will occur from October 13 until November 3. As it will be an especially volatile and disruptive retrograde phase for Mercury, it will be wise to begin sensing what challenges are coming your way and what needs to be remedied while Mercury is still visible in its evening star phase. Mercury colliding with Pluto, Saturn, and Mars in sequence can be helpful for noticing what is beginning to come out of balance so you can begin rethreading whatever is fraying before it becomes torn apart. 

10 pentacles

10 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

Virgo 3 Decan

The New Moon in Virgo arises in the third decan of Virgo associated with the Ten of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. Fitting for an image of a family enjoying the fruits of their ancestral legacy, the third face of Virgo is ruled by Mercury and Venus. Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces connected the image of “the pensive nature of the elder” in the Ten of Pentacles card with a fundamental question this face asks about wealth: “What, given the fate of all created things, is truly valuable?”

Coppock ascribed the image of “The Sarcophagus” to the third decan of Virgo, writing that “the spirit gazes upon its inevitable separation from matter here, contemplating the consequences of its brief union.” A decan of decay and death, old texts such as the Picatrix and Liber Hermetis contain images of mummification, while Abraham Ibn-Ezra pictured a woman praying with leprous hands. Coppock stated that the third decan of Virgo “has the power to break the pride of all created things by showing them their inevitable end,” yet through facing this inevitability “it grants far reaching sight . . . the ability to look beyond the present, seeing consequences as clearly as actions.” It’s a decan that asks us to come to terms with the legacy and value we wish to leave behind for our future ancestors, a face of learning to embrace the moment due to the death that awaits all of our loves in the end.

Doubling down on the long game during the Virgo New Moon, the Hellenistic text the 36 Airs ascribed the goddess Hestia to the third face of Virgo. Hestia is a sublime guide for the New Moon, as she holds within her purified gaze the focus necessary to stay true to the essential value we wish to invest into our relationships, work, and community. Hestia is the devoted one with roots in a legacy of sisterhood we can draw from, a spiritual lineage that across tumultuous centuries has sustained respect with every breath for the living force of creation. Hestia holds within her heart a moral compass impossible to manipulate or distract away from the path of love and service that does not abandon.

Fittingly for Hestia being associated with the third face of Virgo, Venus in Leo is applying toward a conjunction with Vesta in Leo during the New Moon in Virgo. Earlier in the year there was a conjunction between Venus and Vesta on May 15 when Venus was retrograde in Gemini, and so we may now re-center within our core values that have been reforged since then.  Compared to the other planets engaged in tense aspects, Venus will have smooth sailing through Leo as it heads toward forming a trine aspect with Mars at the end of September. The essential values passed down to us from our ancestors that we wish to pass on to our future ancestors deserve our full commitment and embodiment within the darkness of the Virgo New Moon.

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References

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

 

Taurus New Moon & Uranus

Lightning_House_Mountain

Image by Michelle Doucette (2020) for the Taurus New Moon for graycrawford.net – her work can be found at The Dreaming Canvas

New Moon in Taurus

The monthly lunar cycle ends and begins in darkness. While the New Moon in Taurus on April 22 is an inception of a new cycle, there is a death and rebirth process for the Moon to undergo under the rays of the Sun that is necessarily nurtured by darkness. There is wisdom to be found from descending into darkness, as ancient scholars such as Peter Kingsley in his book In the Dark Places of Wisdom have described darkness as the source of the light that illuminates our world. Kingsley examined how finding “clarity meant facing utter darkness” in ancient traditions, how not only was the ancient goddess Justice as well as other powers of cosmic law said to reside in the cave of Night, but also how the radiant, enlivening Sun was viewed as having its home in the nocturnal underworld where it is reborn every night. To Kingsley, “it’s impossible to reach the light at the cost of rejecting the darkness,” and so there is vital importance in descending into our inner depths of darkness rather than rejecting or ignoring it, distracting ourselves away from it.  We must be brought down and descend before being able to reascend with the new perspective and needed ideas for reform and renovation we have gathered.

The New Moon in Taurus is full of electricity and chthonic rumblings that can bring feelings of societal and personal structures being destabilized from the roots, corresponding with the many anxieties being stirred up by the unknown extent of how public health and economics will continue to be impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic. Within the living symbolism of astrology, the element of earth is considered to be the most dense and stable; since Taurus is a fixed earth sign, it can further be considered as the earth sign that is most resistant to change. Uranus within astrology brings the kind of Promethean fire that can dramatically incite change and reshape the most solid of matters in shocking and unexpected ways. Since the Taurus New Moon is applying within three degrees of a conjunction with Uranus in Taurus, it reflects the extraordinary and rapid change caused by the pandemic across all facets of global civilization with the propulsive discharge of a lighting storm.

The Taurus New Moon is separating from a constraining square aspect with Saturn in Aquarius and applying toward a volatile conjunction with Uranus in Taurus. The fears and frustrations of people feeling confined within quarantine have led to numerous unfounded conspiracy theories about the pandemic and a desperation in some to protest the social distancing measures intended to protect public health due to fears over a stalled economy and loss of liberty. The strife and contention over how to manage the pandemic will continue during the forthcoming lunar cycle, as the New Moon is moving from a conjunction with Uranus into a discordant square aspect with Mars in Aquarius that will form on April 23 as the first sliver of crescent light becomes visible. While Mars is finally beginning to separate from Saturn within the sign of Aquarius, the New Moon will reforge the connection between Saturn and Mars in Aquarius that formed at the end of March and coincided with global populations having to come to terms with the grim reality of the pandemic. These are all indicators of caution and protective, defensive measures needing to be maintained in the face of uproar to break free from containment.

In addition to the Taurus New Moon triggering dynamics between Saturn, Uranus, and Mars, during the dark phase of the Moon before the lunation it will also form catalyzing square aspects with Jupiter and Pluto in Capricorn. We have been living through a dramatic time period that has corresponded with the intensifying astrological alignment of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto all coming together within harsh aspects, and in combination with the stark impact of the pandemic it has laid bare numerous inequities across global society. While 2020 will end with the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius that will signal a new era, during the closing of the old era we are living within we must experience the expansive and growth oriented significations of Jupiter being taken into the underworld of Pluto. Some people are predictably attempting to take advantage of the crisis to accumulate greater power and wealth in accordance with one side of Jupiter and Pluto’s meaning, but the greater potential available is to not only witness injustices but also utilize the exposure of corruption, oppression, and unfairness to reimagine ways to reorder societal systems and to take direct action in helping those who are vulnerable.

Within our personal lives as we have had to release future plans and rearrange daily responsibilities in order to acclimate to the societal disruption brought by the pandemic, there is an opportunity with the New Moon in Taurus to make a complete reappraisal of every way in which we have been using the time and space available to us. The Taurus New Moon is close to the exact degree of the Moon’s exaltation in Taurus, bringing strong imaginal capacity to help contend with the fact that the lunation is surrounded by difficult astrological aspects. It’s also worth remembering that what goes up must come down, and that the motion of Fortuna’s wheel means that what becomes exalted must fall within nature and the natural cycles of our world that astrology reflects. We are in the midst of a collective descent that while difficult is also illuminating our interconnectedness across barriers and borders, and since the New Moon is being mixed with the innovative voltage of Uranus we may receive numerous ideas and brainstorms for solutions and remedies in the forthcoming lunar cycle that had not occurred to us previously.

Within the past week I was personally struck by the significance of receiving separate emails from separate colleagues about the alchemy of the invisible simultaneously, all reflecting in different ways about measuring the unseen and reckoning with the invisible unconscious emerging into visible and conscious awareness. The pandemic has constellated a decisive turning point in personal narratives all around the world, a rare occurrence in which shadowy unconscious material will be emerging through the dreams and daily interactions of people at higher levels than normal all across the Earth at the same time. The astrology of 2020 suggests there will be many more twists and turns in storylines to come, creating circumstances in which it will be possible to cultivate an entirely new direction to follow. The fixed, earthy quality of the Taurus New Moon favors embarking upon a slow and steady course to make a better world, nourishing our inner strength so we may hold the tension of present instability to allow new supportive forms and ways of working together to emerge.

Door Sunset Edit

Image by Michelle Doucette (2020) The Dreaming Canvas

The New Moon is in the earthy home of Venus, with the star of Aphrodite continuing to shine brightly at night in its Evening Star phase. After the waxing crescent Moon enters Gemini on April 25, it will begin applying toward a conjunction with Venus that it will complete on April 26. The April 26 conjunction between the Crescent Moon and Venus in Gemini will take place at the same time that Venus culminates in its brightest phase as an Evening Star on April 28, and so it will be worth finding ways to commune with their union in the night sky.  Due to Venus being out of bounds in declination at an extreme northern height, the Moon and Venus will be visible setting together into the western horizon far into the night on April 26.

At the same time that Venus is increasing in light to reach its brightest point within its Evening Star phase, Venus will also be getting closer and closer to our Earth in orbit and therefore becoming more influential in worldly events. Venus shining bright while out of bounds is untethered with wilder instincts for free expression than normal, and so when combined with the New Moon in Taurus conjoining Uranus there will be the kind of chaotic creativity accessible that Venus in Gemini delights in exploring in a variety of versatile ways. While the New Moon in Taurus promotes a consistently thorough path toward completing endeavors, Venus in Gemini swiftly swoops back and forth in seemingly disparate directions when following its muse of inspiration. Venus in Gemini is less interested in sensual earthiness and more excited to converse in stimulating conversation involving a diversity of perspectives, weaving poetry from experiences and using its lilting voice to make melodies to share.

Vitally, Venus in Gemini is applying toward a mystifying square aspect with Neptune in Pisces that will become a major astrological theme during the next month. Since Neptune is in the exaltation of Venus it brings a degree of mitigating reception to the tension of their square aspect that can be especially beneficial when engaged in artistic and creative expression. However, the influence of Neptune over Venus can be tricky to navigate and can coincide with illusory attractions that magnetize while concealing the nature of their source. Neptune brings longing for the ideal, yet can also bring debilitating pain once a shattering experience breaks us free from an illusion. This of course does not mean that all new attractions and desires emerging into awareness during the next month will be delusional, but it will be helpful to keep in mind that the imaginal fantasies constellated between Neptune and Venus may not be grounded in reality.  Creative collaboration with others can be especially fruitful as they can be enlivened to inspired heights through Venus and Neptune fantasizing together.

Venus will form its first square aspect with Neptune on May 3 a few days before the Full Moon in Scorpio on May 7. After Venus stations retrograde on May 12 and begins shifting backwards, it will form its second square aspect with Neptune on May 20  that will involve the more intensified form of Venus that emerges when retrograde (the third and final square between Venus and Neptune will not be until July 27). During the week and a half following the Taurus New Moon as Venus becomes increasingly engaged in its square aspect with Neptune, it can be a productive time for journaling, art making, and any other form of creativity that can help process unconscious content and any new desires rising into awareness. Venus is especially curious and interested in pursuing diverse interests in Gemini, and so making time for creative exploration will not only give us a healthy energetic outlet but also help begin to orient us toward the inner changes that will become more prominent once Venus stations retrograde in mid May.

Tower

Image by Michelle Doucette (2020)  The Dreaming Canvas

Pluto will station retrograde three days after the Taurus New Moon on April 25, 2020 at 24°59’ Capricorn, saturating the astrological landscape with its volcanic, underworld force. Pluto will remain retrograde until stationing direct on October 4, 2020 at 22°29′ Capricorn and so its retrograde movement is most impactful for those with natal placements in between twenty and twenty-five degrees of Capricorn, Cancer, Libra, and Aries. The stationing of Pluto may feel like being pulled down into the depths of the underworld to confront unconscious material that has been simmering, but can also correspond with surface level events and experiences that force us to confront our fears on a  primal level. It’s an especially intense stationing in relation to the pandemic as so many people around the world are facing the fear of not having adequate financial, medical, nutritional, and emotional support during the crisis. By going down willingly with Pluto into its purifying purgation we will empty ourselves of what is no longer essential, gaining clarity for what is most important.

Pluto is at the beginning of new cycles with both Jupiter and Saturn, and although Saturn is no longer in the same sign as Pluto the extreme contraction and division within civilizations that becomes provoked when they form conjunctions is continuing to reverberate throughout current events. While Pluto and Saturn will be coming back into close proximity again later in the year, Pluto’s impact is currently being most intensely felt on all things related to Jupiter such as justice, law, knowledge, abundance, prosperity, alliances, and stewardship. As previously mentioned, one shadow side of Jupiter and Pluto coming together involves obsessive drives for extreme power and wealth, and so we will need to be on guard for how some in power will be attempting to manipulate the fears of the public at the cost of what is best for the public livelihood and health. The reality of the pandemic and its invisible threat that can infect and spread without surface symptoms is a hard reality to come to terms with but a necessary one when formulating how to begin reopening sectors of the economy and increased social interactions.

The stationing of Pluto close to Jupiter will be further amplified due to Mercury in Aries applying toward a square aspect with Pluto and Jupiter in Capricorn that will become exact on April 25 and 26. Jupiter in its fall in Capricorn (a fact that is now true in both the tropical and sidereal zodiac) signifies that the way is down into descent and into relationship with the earth at our foundation. Making time to simply lay down in the grass or on your floor in order to incubate and receive guidance from within can be a productive way to interact with Jupiter’s present condition. The hardships being faced by so many have been revealing the myriad ways present societal systems are inadequately arranged, and so while being brought down by Jupiter and Pluto we can remember that when we rise back up together it will be up to each one of us to persist in full participation in reshaping our societal systems to better address the inequities being presently exposed.

At the same time that Mercury in Aries is forming a square aspect with Jupiter and Pluto, it will also be forming a conjunction with Eris in Aries and highlighting the ongoing discordant square aspect formed between Jupiter and Pluto with Eris. The union between Mercury and Eris is yet another indicator of needing to pay attention to those on the fringes and outskirts of society such as the homeless, the incarcerated,  or those weighed down by poverty, and how their present condition is intrinsically related to the condition of all of us. In particular the living symbolism of a New Moon in Taurus is especially resonant for those laboring in agricultural systems and fields, including the immigrant workers who lack access to services.

pents05

5 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

Taurus 1 Decan

The New Moon is in the first face of Taurus associated with the Five of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The Five of Pentacles is often associated with worry and fear over not having enough money or resources, or experiencing bodily or material hardship. These material concerns and fears are fitting for the dire circumstances brought by the present pandemic, yet there is a deeper meaning found in relationship between the Five of Pentacles and the first face of Taurus that can be glimpsed through the light of the stained glass window in the image. The light from the cathedral window reveals resources that can be found when in duress, not only through the charitable sustenance of societal services but also through the living spirit found in the earth.

Mercury rules the first face of Taurus, linking the commerce of Mercury with the fertile, earthy nature of the sign of the Bull. Mercury makes the connections we need for our livelihood, physical as well as spiritual nourishment. In the first decan of Taurus we discover our capacity not only to plan, grow, and gather enough resources for our own survival but also to contribute assistance to those in greater need. The New Moon in the first face of Taurus is a call to notice those in need around you, those suffering from lack of housing, food, and other forms of financial or emotional support, and to join with others in finding ways to address the societal inequities being presently exacerbated by the pandemic.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Plow” to the first face of Taurus, noting the “face is traditionally connected to all of the sciences necessary to draw forth fruit from the land.” Yet Coppock further described that the first decan of Taurus is not only associated with the fertility of the land but also our own inner agriculture, adding that we must also realize that “the mind, heart and body are all ripe fields, which offer abundance when cultivated.” Coppock stated that though the first decan of Taurus “reveals the ways one may work with whatever one has to gain more,” that the images and interpretations associated with the Five of Pentacles card bring up the shadow of fear that we will not have enough money, food, or material resources and that bleak times may arise if we disengage from our constant planning around cultivating resources. Thus the threat of not having enough in the future inspires us to work hard and plan for how to gain enough resources for the moment as well as save for later times of need.

In the Liber Hermetis there is a striking image for the first decan of Taurus that evokes both the material and spiritual fertility of the land. The body of Osiris, adorned with gold and dark tie-strings, is found buried in the ground while a goddess with a queen’s crown is standing in between the horns of a bull. This link between the divine and the land is further shown in the Hellenistic text the 36 Airs, which ascribed Charis to the first face of Taurus.  While Charis is a Greek name for “grace, kindness, and life” it is also associated with the mythic Charites who are associated with the three Graces that include Splendor, Mirth, and Good Cheer, though various traditions have additional names and numbers for these charming, fertile beings who were said to dance and sing with the muses and attend to the adornment of Aphrodite. Ancient cults of the Charites have been described as similar to the nature worship of nymphs near rivers and fresh springs, chthonic deities associated with the fertility of the land.

While humanity is struggling in many places to come to terms with the pandemic, the natural world around us is continuing to bloom and pass away in its constant cycles of growth and decay. With many external systems and structures of society no longer serving as stable supports, the New Moon in the first face of Taurus reminds us of the wealth of resources to be found when engaging with the divine fertility of the land around us and the inner realm of soul within. May you find moments of grace and good cheer amidst whatever difficulties the pandemic has brought into your life.

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References

Brennan, Chris. (2017). Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune. Amor Fati Publications.

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

George, Demetra. (2019). Ancient Astrology: In Theory and Practice. Rubedo Press.

Kingsley, Peter. (1999). In the Dark Places of Wisdom. Golden Sufi Center Publishing.

 

New Moon in Aries

New Moon in Aries

Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (1907)

New Moon in Aries

The New Moon in Aries on April 5 kindles the star fire of inner soul force and determination in the face of collective events that feel overwhelming with their historical weight. Aries takes its name from the constellation of the charging ram, zodiacal terrain ruled by red hot Mars where our life and light giving Sun is exalted. Aries burns with impulsive heat that invigorates our passions and motivates us to take direct action. There is cosmic synchronicity of this propulsive force initiating a new lunar month during the same time that the combined impact of Saturn and Pluto with the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn is intensifying. Wielding the fire of Aries will not move mountains, suddenly change world politics,  or be able to cut through every obstacle we face at this time. Yet we still need to claim the courage to use our force of will to shape the aspects of life we are able to create and guide, surrendering to the need to mediate the barriers and limitations out of our control.

The Aries New Moon comes at the turning point of the astrological year. This is usually the case as in the northern hemisphere the season of Aries occurs during the rebirthing of Spring and the daily increase of light. However, in 2019 with the transiting lunar nodes and eclipses occurring in the signs of Cancer and Capricorn, the New Moon in Aries is occurring at the midpoint between eclipses while forming a change inducing square aspect with the Capricorn Solar Eclipse that happened on January 6, 2019 as well as the Cancer Solar Eclipse that is coming on July 2, 2019. This makes it an ideal time to recenter and regroup regarding whatever shifts have been taking shape in your life, summoning inner strength to respond to whatever needs repair or restoration. It’s also ideal for initiating and generating forward momentum and decisive action regarding whatever goals you want to achieve in the next six months.

Hours after the Moon unites with the Sun, the waxing Aries Moon will move through a catalyzing square aspect with Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn. Since the Aries New Moon is applying to a square with the transiting lunar nodes it means it is at its bending, in this case the southern bending in which the Moon dips as far south in latitude as it will reach during its lunar cycle. This is a maximum peak of volatility, and in a southern direction indicates a higher charge of unconscious impulses motivating behavior. A day after the lunation, just after the Moon has reappeared in light in its slender waxing crescent shape, the Moon will form a conjunction with Uranus in Taurus on April 6. There likely will be some explosive collective events during this time, yet on personal levels we will also need to be ready for rapid developments to erupt. The Moon is carrying an emancipatory charge that is facing the friction and resistance of large, oppressive societal forces. We can receive liberating, breakthrough insights during this time and by working hard to bring ideas into form we can cultivate greater strength in the process. At the same time, it will be necessary to be aware of the best use of energy in terms of what we can change and what we cannot.

A day before the New Moon, the asteroid Vesta will ingress into Aries and begin applying to a conjunction with Chiron in Aries. The co-presence of the fiery communion between Vesta and Chiron with the New Moon in Aries draws awareness inward toward the most essential and rarified desires and values to focus attention on. What aspects of your life, what elements of your goals and dreams are irreplaceable and bring forth all of your strength and vitality to protect and nourish? During hard and difficult times when faith is tested, when natural disasters or collective calamities and crises strike, the gift offered is complete clarity regarding what matters most, where are attention needs full unequivocal engagement. Chiron and Vesta are inviting you to join them around their fire, a place of inclusivity, listening, sharing, and empowerment, a protective circle in which you can plant the seed of the vision you most wish to create and cultivate in the season ahead.

Mars in Gemini

Woodblock print of Miyamoto Musashi by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Mars in Gemini

Mars in Gemini rules the Aries New Moon, separating from a sextile aspect with Chiron in Aries and applying toward a square aspect with Neptune in Pisces that will not complete until April 25. Mars leaving Taurus and entering Gemini brings increased speed, electricity, and curiosity toward the striving will force signified by the red planet. With Mars in Gemini forming a whole sign sextile aspect with the New Moon in Aries, there is increased potential for taking action and making gains on whatever plans and visions have been taking shape during the Mercury retrograde in Pisces period that dominated the month of March. Mars in Gemini brings increased capacity to handle multiple tasks at a time and decipher connections between diverse interests, with the building tension between Mars and Neptune in April capable of severing awareness from an illusion. A main challenge will be keeping Mars from becoming detrimentally distracted in the airy home of Mercury.

Mercury in Pisces is now moving direct as a Morning Star and finally beginning to separate from its extended conjunction with Neptune in Pisces that expanded visions yet restrained our capacity for quickly and clearly making needed connections and communication. Mercury at the time of the Aries New Moon is a week away from reaching maximum elongation as a Morning Star, meaning that we are entering the phase of Mercury in which we must gather the bravery, faith, and resources needed to embody whatever changes of mind and vision emerged into awareness during the past month. Mars in Gemini has the necessary flexibility to shift and mutate as needed as we figure out how to reshape and rebuild life structures. Yet Mars under the influence of Mercury combined with Neptune also brings risk of becoming inflated, self-righteous, and ungrounded, characteristics we will need to guard against especially if conflict erupts.

Odilon Redon flower-clouds

Odilon Redon (1903) Flower Clouds

Feeling the Fishes

There is a potent pulse of Pisces underlying the Aries New Moon. Just as Mercury is beginning to separate away from a conjunction with Neptune, Venus in Pisces is applying toward a union with Neptune that will complete on April 10. The combined influence of Venus, Neptune, and Mercury in Pisces has a multivalent impact which can range from the sublime to the delusional. The influence of Venus exalted in Pisces increases capacity for us to not only envision a reality in which we may behold soulful desires, but to also alter reality to bring about manifestation of deeply felt values and connections. Hopefully the long phase of Mercury retrograde in March helped clear minds of cobwebs and illusory conceptions, but as Mercury is finally separating from Neptune it will still be worthwhile to claim space for inner reflection and meditation to help enhance clarity. Jupiter in Sagittarius is ruling all of the Pisces planets and can facilitate inner knowing that supports their potential for inner vision as long as we center within authentic inner values rather than being swayed by external conditioning influences.

As Venus forms its conjunction with Neptune on April 10, Mercury will simultaneously be applying to its third and final square aspect with Jupiter in Sagittarius.  All of this is happening at the same time that Jupiter is stationing retrograde on April 10 at 24º21′ Sagittarius. When planets station their archetypal influence saturates the landscape, and so with Jupiter ruling Venus, Neptune, and Mercury it will intensify experience and meaning. The period of April 10 and 11 notably brings a higher degree of resolution to the wild journey Mercury has been on since February, as Mercury previously formed a square aspect with Jupiter on February 22 and March 24. There will be an opportunity for deepening into clearing or clarification of misleading beliefs while simultaneously receiving intimations of the course to follow into the future. Venus and Neptune will be playing the part of pulling awareness into the pleasures and wisdom of the senses and can be best utilized for soothing stress and creating an atmosphere of recovery, restoration and healing.

The mystical influences of Venus uniting with Neptune and Mercury contesting Jupiter goes well with the added meaning of Jupiter stationing retrograde. Jupiter shifting into retrograde motion pulls the outward expansion and quest for freedom of Jupiter in Sagittarius into inner horizons, helping one to cohere inner meaning from the free ranging experiences of Jupiter’s time in Sagittarius. Jupiter will remain retrograde until stationing direct on August 11 at 14°30′ Sagittarius

Gustave_Courbet_(French_-_Grotto_of_Sarrazine_near_Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne_-_Google_Art_Project

Gustave Courbet (1875) Grotto of Sarrazine near Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne

Saturn – Pluto – South Node

The month of April initiates us into an intensification of the complex gravitas constellated by Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node of the Moon coming together in Capricorn. By the end of April, both Pluto and Saturn will have stationed retrograde with Saturn coming within three degrees of Pluto (Saturn and Pluto will not complete their conjunction until January 12, 2020). The deepening we experience in April into what to expect from the beginning of new cycle between Pluto and Saturn is amplified due to the transiting South Node of the Moon being in the same place, with Pluto conjoining the South Node of the Moon during the Aries New Moon and Saturn conjoining it by the end of April.

These aspects alone would signify immense karmic issues erupting across societies, but the added influence taking things to an even more extreme degree is that the alignment of Pluto, Saturn, and the South Node of the Moon is also happening in the same area as the South Nodes of Pluto and Saturn. This means that the archetypal meaning of the entire orbital arcs of Saturn and Pluto are crashing down across the ecliptic, flooding events with their significations. We tend to imagine the lunar nodes as a dragon in astrology, yet what we have in this alignment is a three headed (or headless) dragon involving not only the lunar archetype but Saturn and Pluto as well. The shadow of the Self described in the work of C.G. Jung can thus be applied to all of global civilization, with numerous issues sweeping across global societies representing the accumulated toxicities and oppression built up from ages past.

At its highest potential, this massive alignment offers opportunities for confronting societal issues and attempting to purify their intersection with us as individuals. Fundamentally, the New Moon in Aries points to the importance for each of us as an individual to claim responsibility for our behavior and intention, becoming accountable for the wider collective impact of our individual actions. While Pluto and Saturn have numerous negative and difficult significations, they also both connect with the empowerment found within our unconscious depths and our capacity to apply hard work and discipline toward manifesting and protecting what is most important to us, building or tearing down structures as needed.

Aries 2 Decan

3 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Aries 2 Decan

The New Moon is in the second decan of Aries associated with the Three of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. As the second face of Aries holds the degrees of the exaltation of the Sun, we fittingly find a very solar image in this card of a heroic figuring overlooking a numinous landscape from a mountainous peak.  There are ships heading off into the vast expanse beyond into other worlds for communication and commerce.  Similarly, Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy ascribed an image made for nobility, loftiness of kingdom, and a great dominion to the second face of Aries, and ancient texts are filled with the attribution of images linked to wealth and rulership to this decan.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Crown” to the second face of Aries.  Coppock described the focus of this face as being “the world which emanates from an individual” and “the qualities which they choose to embody” (p. 59).  Coppock wrote that the ability to create one’s own world found in this face leads to not only the attraction and magnetism of others of like-mind, but also to “the key to creating pocket realities which do not obey the laws of the collective reality field in which they exist” (p. 60).  These associations with the second face of Aries work well with the New Moon in Aries having so much potent fertility for vision being offered by Venus, Neptune, and Mercury aligned in Pisces and being received by Jupiter in Sagittarius.

The Hellenistic text the 36 Airs attributed Persephone to the second decan of Aries, an interesting association as she is also a noble figure who bridges the world of the visible and invisible, the goddess who rules the otherworld of soul, death, release, and resurrection. Additionally, the Persephone asteroid #399 is at 16º Capricorn and forming an almost exact square aspect with the Aries New Moon. Persephone’s presence with the New Moon calls us to honor being an eternal soul fully embodied within a material realm of continual life and death.  While we must reconcile ourselves to living in a world of great suffering and death, grieving those who have passed on, Persephone also signifies our capacity for discovering newfound power and strength within ourselves in spite of the wounds we must bear.

There is a further link with Persephone’s presence in this face with the sabian symbol for sixteen degrees of Aries where the union between Sun and Moon takes place: “Nature spirits are seen at work in the light of sunset.” Dane Rudhyar connected this symbol with “attunement to the potency of invisible forces, of nature,” commenting that these “nature forces act as guiding and balancing-harmonizing factors.”  As one of the gifts astrology offers us is coming to terms with natural cycles so that we can flow and harmonize with them, we will need to keep in mind during April the necessity of both surrendering to natural processes of death and rebirth while claiming responsibility for doing what we can to shape matters and offer our own resources for support.

Youth of delight, come hither / And see the opening morn, / Image of truth new born. / Doubt is fled & clouds of reason, / Dark disputes & artful teazing. / Folly is an endless maze, / Tangled roots perplex her ways, / How many have fallen there! / They stumble all night over bones of the dead, / And feel they know not what but care, / And wish to lead others when they should be led.

— The Voice of the Ancient Bard by William Blake, from Songs of Innocence

Songs_of_Innocence_and_of_Experience_copy_AA_The_Voice_of_the_Ancient_Bard

References

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

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

 

Mercury Retrograde in Pisces

rene magrite fair captive

The Fair Captive by Rene Magritte

Mercury Retrograde in Pisces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some key dates:

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

rosmerta and mercury

Rosmerta and Mercury

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

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

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

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

Magritte__Le_Baiser-3

Le Baiser by Rene Magritte

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

— from Take this River  by Henry Dumas

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

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

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

Georgia O'Keefe music - pink and blue

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

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

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

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

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

pegasus and bellerophon

Odilon Redon (1888) Pegasus and Bellerophon

Chthonic Cazimi

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

— Demetra George, Ancient Astrology, Vol 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Astro-Errante-1961 Remedios Varo

Astro Errante by Remedios Varo

Full Moon Equinox

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

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

Magritte_Wonders-of-Nature

Wonders of Nature by Rene Magritte

The Trident and the Caduceus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the black pegasus

Odilon Redon

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Full Moon Solstice

Joan Miro joy of a girl

Joy of a Girl in the Sun (1960) by Joan Miro

All colors come from the sun. And it does not have
Any particular color, for it contains them all.
And the whole Earth is like a poem
While the sun above represents the artist.

–Czeslaw Milosz

Which yet joined not scent to hue,
Crown the pale year weak and new;
When the night is left behind
In the deep east, dun and blind,
And the blue noon is over us,
And the multitudinous
Billows murmur at our feet,
Where the earth and ocean meet,
And all things seem only one
In the universal sun.

–Percy Bysshe Shelley

Awed by her brightness
Stars near the beautiful moon
Cover their own shining faces
When she lights earth
With her silver brilliance
Of love ….

–Sappho

Cancer Solstice

The Sagittarius Full Moon on June 19 arrives on the day of the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere and the Winter Solstice in the southern hemisphere.  At the solstice the Sun reaches its zenith, a time ancient cultures celebrated as the New Year.  The solstice is a peak moment, in the northern hemisphere the peak height of the Sun, in the southern hemisphere the peak descent into darkness.  To have a Full Moon precede the Cancer Solstice by less than twelve hours adds to the climactic energy, as Full Moons are also a moment of the peak amount of solar light received by Luna.  Yet nothing expands inexorably forever, and all must return to source, must spiral back.  The serpent circles back to bite its own tail in its eternal ouroboros. At the height of the apex, there is the bliss of the high and the knowing of a coming fall.  We fall at this Solstice Full Moon into the revivifying rays of Sol, our Solar Light that stimulates growth in our receptive Earth, our Sun that brings its clarifying heat illuminating what was previously darkly hidden.

The dragon, or serpent, represents the initial state of unconsciousness, for this animal loves, as the alchemists say, two dwell in “caverns and dark places.” Unconsciousness has to be sacrificed; only then can one find the entrance into the head, and the way to conscious knowledge and understanding. Once again the universal struggle of the hero with the dragon is enacted, and each time at its victorious conclusion the sun rises: consciousness dawns, and it is perceived that the transformation process is taking place inside the temple, that is, in the head.

— Carl Jung, “The Visions of Zosimos” para. 118

The polarity between Gemini and Sagittarius lit by the Full Moon carries the concept of sacrifice, as all of the Mutable signs in astrology mark the transition between the death of the previous season, and the birth of the coming season.  When our conscious personality sacrifices its grip on keeping out the whole multitude circulating in the unconscious, we can experience our own rebirth, sometimes slowly, sometimes suddenly, in the process.  In current events recently there have been many chaotic crises tearing open barriers to raw, primal emotions. There is anger, there is outrage, there is grief and fear, as across the globe innumerable streams of strife have people on edge within a palpable field of destruction.  Within the folds of the places that mainstream awareness ignores, there is the cry of desperation in what feels like a cruel, unconcerning world.  Though this has been a difficult time for many, the Solstice celebrates the Sun’s ascension from its descent, that the solar rays will return with their warmth as surely as flowers will continue to bloom and fruit ripen.  The Solstice can be seized for sensing within the radiant living force of our world that orbits within multiverses, that even when feeling alienated there is a loving embrace to be found between the Earth below and the Sun above.

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The Gold of the Azure (1967) by Joan Mira

Jupiter in Virgo rules the Full Moon and is within five minutes of an exact conjunction with the North Node of the Moon.  This alone would bring a catalytic force to a Full Moon on a Solstice, yet there is much, much more.  Jupiter is received by Mercury in Gemini applying to a square with Jupiter, while Mercury is in opposition to Saturn in Sagittarius.  Saturn in Sagittarius is exactly square to Neptune in Pisces, as Neptune is conjoining the South Node of the Moon while in opposition to Jupiter and in square to Mercury.  The New Moon in Gemini that began this lunar cycle featured a Mutable Grand Cross between Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and a conjunction between Venus and the Sun.  At the Full Moon, we once again have a Mutable Grand Cross, with Mercury in Gemini filling the space previously occupied by the Sun and Venus.  The larger context of this configuration highlights the importance of the squares between Saturn and Neptune, and Saturn and Jupiter, as these aspects are the sort that demarcate eras of human history and notable shifts within the collective.  On a personal level, Mercury at home in Gemini as a Morning Star is the trigger point to pay attention to, as Hermes is transferring the light between the other three giants of astrology.

So, what the hell does this all mean you may be asking.  There is no way to encapsulate the full meaning of these aspects within an astrology article, nor is it possible to realize the meaning on a personal level without reflection that roots these aspects into your birth chart and your present experience.  However, there is some general guidance to keep in mind.  Mercury in Gemini is a worthy point of focus as it is in position to bring all of the reflections that have been stirred up in the past couple of months into the rushing currents of change found within the Mutable Grand Cross.  Mercury is often described as correlating with reason and logic, though that is only one aspect of Mercury’s mental potency.  The reason available to Mercury now connects with more than what is observable and measurable in visible consensus reality, as the boundaries of Saturn are being blown open. This is not your everyday transit of Mercury opposing Saturn, which typically correlates with rigorous and disciplined mental focus.  Maintaining mental focus through Mercury is still possible and in fact important, but there is a far vaster realm of reality and research than normal accessible through these catalytic aspects.

The Full Moon occurring at the final degrees of Gemini and Sagittarius means the entire arc of both signs are activated, signs that are ruled by Mercury and Jupiter.  In fact, all four places of the Mutable Grand Square are home to Mercury and Jupiter.  As Jupiter helps us create meaning out of our experiences and stabilize a vision or philosophy of life to live from, Mercury can destabilize preexisting beliefs through new information, arguments, and connections.  The Full Moon activating this Solstice is a perfect time to open your mind to the potential beyond whatever you had previously been limiting yourself to within your mind. A writing, research, or artistic project can be taken to a new level, or a passing conversation or experience can stimulate a completely different way of looking at your life.  Though instability can be felt within these aspects, there also remains extraordinary inspiration and a huge potential for ingenious insight.

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Toward the Rainbow (1941) by Joan Miro

Ceres, Uranus and Eris are conjoining in Aries at the Solstice, an aspect that some choose to ignore while others proclaim to be an Earth shattering amalgamation.  In fact, the widely divergent opinions astrologers have regarding the conjunction of Ceres, Uranus, and Eris is absolutely perfect with regards to the simultaneous Mutable Grand Square that is occurring.  Furthermore, Ceres, Uranus, and Eris are uniting in Aries, the home of Mars, in an exact quincunx to Mars retrograde in Scorpio.   Since all four of these celestial bodies are at the 23-24 degree range of their respective signs, the quincunx is full on.  To me, associating the shattering of previous paradigms with this aspect is fitting, and it furthermore reflects the many terrifying, traumatizing recent current events that are forcing people to reexamine their beliefs at fundamental levels.  Everything has been thrown up into the air in fractured splinters, and in their falling they reform, they coalesce, they commingle in ways never dreamt of before.

Ceres in Aries nurtures as Ceres always does, yet in Aries she fosters self-reliance and independence more so than co-dependence.  Ceres here is not a nurturer who wants you to become dependent upon her nurturing, but rather is a caring presence who nurtures creative actualization and the ability to get yourself back on your feet and moving again after a period of dormancy.  Ceres combined with Uranus and Eris is able to apply her creative force into collective mobilizations for change.  Ceres combined with Uranus and Eris will be most effective when transmuting the anger and outrage felt over systematic oppression into direct, creative action that makes a difference for others.  The quincunx to Mars retrograde in Scorpio demands integration with the needs of the greater society and collective.  This is not just about having a brilliant idea, but mobilizing thoughts into plans of action to manifest in your community.  Ceres, Uranus, Eris, and Mars retrograde can thus facilitate the creative impulse of Aries yoked to the investigative depth of Scorpio in order to express your gifts within a interconnected network of collaborators and co-conspirators.

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10 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Sagittarius 3 Decan

The third face of Sagittarius is associated with the 10 of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  The image has a resonance with the Titan Atlas bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders, as we sense the plowing drive necessary to take on and carry the weight of massive responsibilities.  Being the final decan of Sagittarius, this image illustrates how the mind, body, and spirit can become unified through dedicated work and effort applied to a goal.  In tarot this card has been associated with oppressive dynamics and limitations, and in fact is called Oppression in the Thoth deck.  Tarot writer Kelsey Lynore analyzed the dilemma of this card as having “taken on far too many responsibilities” that “are not strictly yours,” resulting in the creative potency of the fire element becoming “extinguished by the heaviness of an earthy reality.”  Lynore advised sifting through the burdens and responsibilities in order to discern which “are truly your own” so you can refrain from overextending yourself and instead sustain the energy needed to be accountable for the issues truly belonging to you.

Fittingly, Saturn is the ruler of this face and so this decan has a strong resonance with the current transit of Saturn in Sagittarius within the Mutable Grand Cross.  As the Sagittarius Full Moon is occurring at the final degree of Sagittarius, the associated imagery of the 10 of Wands card is a fitting symbol for making a sacrifice of hard work to prepare for the darkest time of the year at the Winter Solstice, currently occurring in the southern hemisphere.  In relation to the Summer Solstice occurring in the northern hemisphere, it is akin to a rush of activity and preparation commiserate with the peak of solar light.

 Austin Coppock ascribed the image of “A Horse’s Skull” to this face in his book 36 Faces, as it “points toward those circumstances in which the vehicle must be sacrificed in order to achieve the will,” as it involves “those circumstances where the body and the spirit are at odds” as “the spirit, the will, must press the body beyond comfort’s boundaries” to achieve the aim (p. 204-5).  Some ancient texts attribute acts of evil to this face in the context of those who will do whatever is necessary to achieve a goal.  Coppock concluded:

The subject of this decan is what one is willing to sacrifice in order to achieve what one wills. It is thus the formula for the perfection of the will and subjugation of all to it, granting power for both good and evil. Yet those who would apply it must consider the cost of the sacrifice required, for some offerings can be made only once. Those who walk this face must choose which burdens they will bear to the bitter end, and which are not worthy of such feats of will and endurance. The formula of this face is of greatest value to those who know their true will, and the true works which proceed from it.

–Austin Coppock, 36 Faces

Saturn in Sagittarius is retrograde applying closely to an opposition with Mercury in Gemini at the time of the Full Moon.  At the Sun’s ingress into Cancer at the Solstice, Saturn will only be a few days past an exact square with Neptune, in a time period that has also seen it complete its final last quarter square with Jupiter.  This is a pivotal moment in the transit of Saturn through Sagittarius, and so it is important to consider what the stimulating transits are asking from Saturn.  Neptune demands awareness of whatever is outside the lines of what you define with your beliefs, recognizing the impact of your own perceptual force and judgment in co-creating reality and importance of exploring your inner imaginal space.  Mercury demands opening to other perspectives, being curious how other viewpoints experience existence and bridging your current understanding with those who express a contrasting point of view.  Jupiter conjoining the North Node of the Moon, the ruler of the Full Moon, calls us to distill the essence of what we most deeply value and aspire to achieve, modifying plans in accordance with changes in the arising moment, and most of all taking the risk to make new choices free of the restrictions of our past.  The Sun burns bright at the Solstice indiscriminately:  bask in its radiance and open your heart to delight and euphoria.

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References

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

Jung, Carl. (1967). Alchemical Studies. Bollingen.