New Moon in Cancer: Cronus and the Comet

egrets and crows

Egrets and Crows by Shibata Zeshin

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

— Antonio Machado from “Last Night I was Sleeping” translated by Robert Bly

New Moon in Cancer

The lunar cycle commencing with the Cancer New Moon on July 20 brings transition from the astrology of the past few months, initiating us into the major astrological themes that will be playing out in the next five months. The New Moon in Cancer is separating from an opposition with Pluto and Jupiter in Capricorn and applying toward an opposition with Saturn in Capricorn. It’s exact opposition with Saturn retrograde in Capricorn brings us into the center of Saturn’s retrograde phase when Saturn is closest to us in orbit and in its brightest phase in the night sky. The lunation also initiates a deep encounter with the fallout from the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto that came at the beginning of 2020 and now will be intensifying again until Saturn ultimately stations direct on September 29 less than three degrees away from Pluto.

The New Moon in Cancer is the first lunation to not be eclipsed since the New Moon in Gemini on May 22, and during the forthcoming lunar cycle aspects associated with the past phase of Venus retrograde in Gemini, such as the square between Venus and Neptune, as well as with Mercury retrograde in Cancer, such as the square between Mercury and Mars, will bring resolution to associated narratives by completing the final aspect in their series. The focus of the lunation on Saturn invites unknowing to temper becoming fixated upon feeling like you have already gained clarity regarding the changes that have been developing in recent months. The scythe of Saturn may bring decisive judgment toward certain issues that are in need of harvesting or severing, but in general we are entering an extended period of collective dismantling that will require remaining open to new perspectives and insights that will shift understanding and development of plans. It’s a good time to devote work toward personal goals essential to your core purpose and otherwise allow plans to take shape and adjust to the reordering of societal systems that will be continuing to intensify in the next few months.

The opposition between the Moon in its watery home of Cancer and Saturn in its earthy home of Capricorn is at the heart of the lunation. A figure who can hold the tension of the opposites between the Moon and Saturn is Hekate, a lunar goddess of nocturnal pathways (1) who was also associated with the third decan of Cancer where the lunation is taking place by the Hellenistic text the 36 Airs. Hekate’s presence with the lunation illuminates the necessity of facing the darkness of the unknown during a collective crossroads that has been constellated across global civilizations. Hekate connects with the nurturance and nourishment of the Moon, as The Chaldean Oracles called her “the font and stream of the blessed noetic” who “pours forth a whirling generation upon All.” Moreover, Hekate can also be viewed as the wise crone and dark mother who connects with the nocturnal, chthonic fertility of Saturn’s home in Capricorn.

With the inner knowing of Hekate, we can let the debris, refuse, and putrefaction of what we have had to shed and let die during recent months to serve as guidance for what wants to emerge from inner dreamscapes and imaginal exploration. Within the unstable and chaotic flux of current events that will continue to be volatilized at a rapid pace, allow awareness to open to new streams of enlivening desires cracking open from within. There may be movements of social justice and activism you become called to participate in, or inner creative directions to follow that will require making space and time to discover where they will lead you.

comet 1300

Augsburger Wunderzeichenbuch, Folio 52 (erschrocklicher Comet, 1300): text at bottom translates as “In 1300 A.D., a terrible comet appeared in the sky and in this year, on St Andrew’s Day, an earthquake shook the ground so that many buildings collapsed. At this time, Pope Boniface VIII established the first jubilee year.”

Comet Neowise

An unexpected visitor to the astrology of July has been the comet Neowise. Although Neowise was first discovered on March 27, 2020 when quarantine and social distancing measures were peaking around the world in response to the pandemic, the comet burst into visibility during July resulting in many stunning photographs of its fiery flare. During the first half of July, the comet was visible in predawn sky and then in mid July shifted into being visible following sunset. Neowise was at the end of Gemini at the end of June and then entered Cancer on July 3 and then Leo on July 18. It will enter Virgo on July 25 and Libra on August 2.  If it remains visible until August 7, it will have made it to about eleven degrees of Libra. As a result, it’s worth considering what sort of meaning the strange visitor has been bringing to the Cancer and Leo areas of your natal chart and what it may portend for the Virgo and Libra places as well.

Scientists say that comets like Neowise are covered in cosmic soot left over from the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago, and so as comets approach the Sun in orbit their tails are formed by the solar heat spewing gas and dust across the sky like a flaming stream. While asteroids are rocky fragments left over from the dawn of the solar system, comets have been described as cosmic snowballs of gas and dust that unravel in a fiery tail. Neowise was named for the infrared space telescope orbiting the earth that discovered it, and it was correctly predicted that around July 3 its approach to the Sun in orbit would cause it to become a bright object visible to skywatchers on Earth.  There hasn’t been a comet this bright since 1995 and 1996, and Neowise will not be visible again for 6,800 years due to its extreme elliptical orbit that takes about seven thousand years to go around the Sun.

The astrologer Rod Chang wrote an excellent article on the meaning of comets in astrology you can read here that has suggestions for how to interpret the meaning of Neowise. It is well known that comets have long been viewed as omens of disaster in astrology, and so it isn’t exactly surprising that one would appear during a time of a global pandemic. I particularly like how Rod Chang interpreted the thawing and release of the ancient gas and dust of comets as symbolizing not only “frozen issues that ignite and grab attention, releasing from the abyss of our consciousness such suppressed emotions as fear and horror,” but also the freeing of new ideas and visions. In timing with the Cancer New Moon in opposition with Saturn, Pluto and Jupiter we can be curious about what old, frozen, and crystalized issues are being unravelled as well as what vivifying visions are being enflamed and freed from within.

Like many I had my first glimpse of Neowise at night underneath the constellation of Ursa Major. The living symbolism of Ursa Major in relation to the nocturnal appearances of Neowise is striking, for Ursa Major has long been seen as a Great Bear and Great Goddess standing guard at the central point and pole of the sky (2). Attuning with Ursa Major brings relationship with the Great Protector at the center of stillness of our world, and so as we center within our own core stillness we may also center within the many disruptive and disastrous changes erupting around the world. From this central point of stillness, open to how you can align with the wider collective changes taking shape and follow the path and vision bursting into awareness like the fiery flame of a comet.

tomorrow is never kay sage

Tomorrow is Never (1955) Kay Sage

Wanderer, your footsteps are
the road and nothing more;
wanderer, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.
Walking makes the road,
and turning to look behind
you see the path that you
will never tread again.
Wanderer, there is no road,
only foam trails on the sea.

— Antonio Machado from “Proverbios y cantares” in Campos de Castilla, 1912

The dismantled architecture of Saturn, Pluto, and Jupiter in Capricorn that is in the middle of regeneration will be further volatilized and reshaped by the fiery heat of Mars in Aries during the forthcoming lunar cycle. By the time of the Full Moon in Aquarius on August 3, Mars in Aries will be forming a square aspect with Jupiter in Capricorn and will then move into forming a square aspect with Pluto it will complete on August 13. By the time of the New Moon in Leo on  August 18, Mars in Aries will be within two degrees of an exact square with Saturn in Capricorn. Due to Mars moving direct and Jupiter, Pluto and Saturn all moving retrograde, these will all be mutually applying aspects that will catalyze events dramatically. The impact of Mars can incite hard work and determined effort towards goals as well as lead to further shattering of societal systems and structures.

It is notable that Jupiter, Pluto and Saturn are all in the exaltation of Mars while Mars is in the fall of Saturn. Combined with Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn also occupying a superior position in the square aspect, it portends a difficult and destructive journey for Mars through Aries. Due to Mars stationing retrograde in Aries at the beginning of September, there will end up being three different passages of Mars forming a square aspect with Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto as well as three conjunctions with the disruptive dwarf planet Eris between now and January 2021. Thus whatever is stirred up by Mars in Aries during the forthcoming lunar cycle will only be the first installment of a dramatic saga, and so while we may gain a sense of some of the issues that will become important there will be many more developments before the full story is told. Although Mars in Aries can strike quickly and ask questions later, it will be advisable to keep the long game in mind, conserve energy, and continue to cultivate strategy to contend with arising challenges.

At the same time that Mars is initiating a sequence of square aspects, Venus in Gemini will be bringing to a close a sequence of three square aspects it has made with Neptune in Pisces that first occurred on May 3 and May 20, 2020. Venus will form an exact square with Neptune on July 27, and so the final lessons and awareness from the sequence will take shape in the week following the New Moon. There has likely been a combination of disillusioning as well as inspiring experiences in correspondence with the square between Venus and Neptune that have stirred imagination and activated idealism. With Venus direct and increasing in light and speed as a Morning Star, be curious in questioning and exploring the deeper meaning of associated events and how you can use the inspirational aspects to create the changes you wish to see happen.

paul klee departure of the ghost

Departure of the Ghost (1931) by Paul Klee

As the Moon unites with the Sun in darkness, Mercury in Cancer will be mutually applying to a tight square with Chiron retrograde in Aries as well as applying toward a volatilizing square aspect with Mars in Aries that it will complete on July 27. Mercury stirring things up with Chiron and Mars can bring contention that requires increased focus and determination in response. As current events will continue to make collective debate even more polarized, it will be easy to become pulled into verbal disputes so pick your battles wisely. By setting focused intention on whatever plans you have clarified as being important to your purpose, it can help in navigating through divisive distractions so you can use your energy for the work and relationships that are most important to you.

Mercury will reach its maximum elongation as a Morning Star two days after the New Moon on July 22, demarcating the phase when Mercury will have picked up enough speed to match the steady course of the Sun again. From this day forward, Mercury will move increasingly faster as it proceeds through its Morning Star phase, making it a productive time to work on or embody whatever new ideas and awareness were discovered during the destabilizing and regenerative period of Mercury retrograde at the end of June and beginning of July.

cups04

4 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Cancer 3 Decan

The New Moon is in the third face of Cancer associated with the Four of Cups illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the Four of Cups image we see someone sitting on the roots of a tree considering three golden cups ready to be filled in the foreground. While the figure appears be engrossed in contemplative thought, allowing inner exploration to guide subsequent choice, a fourth cup has become magically offered by an otherworldly hand. Ruled by the Moon and Jupiter, it’s a face in which we must come to terms with available resources and questions of our fair share and how much is enough.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces gave the image of “The Overflowing Cup” to the third face of Cancer, declaring that it reveals the conflict of choosing “luxurious excess” within “a world of limited material resources” in which “the attainment of luxury for one entails deprivation for others” (3). Coppock noted that the ascetic air of the figure in the Four of Cups refusing to accept more than he needs reflects having awareness of the “hidden violence and secret competition entailed within the quest for luxury.”  Yet in the way the figure also appears to be conjuring the magical fourth cup, Coppock declared that the third face of Cancer also involves the spiritual dimension of abundance and luxury,  the “ever-refilled” cup offered by Spirit, “the endless luxury of the limitless,”  and the “ever present energy of the natural world- the chi which emanates from all living things.” As previously mentioned, the connection of Hekate with this face in the 36 Airs also reveals the chthonic fertility of the third decan of Cancer and its capacity to magically manifest what we need to survive.

With the Moon in its own face and domicile as it is reanimated in the heart of the Sun, its stark opposition with Saturn will draw attention toward the availability of resources and the limitations and restrictions you must contend with. The contemplative nature of Saturn will also demand ethical questions concerning pursuing wealth for yourself versus helping others in need of support through service or charitable giving. With many out of work or facing severe economic barriers related to the pandemic, many will be feeling the constraint and contraction of Saturn through feeling restrained by available resources and afraid concerning the uncertainty of the unknown future. The connection of Hekate with the decan of the Cancer New Moon points to the need of cultivating faith in the unknown, facing our fears, setting intention, and descending into the darkness of the lunation to discover what will emerge as the Moon waxes toward fullness in light once again.

If you enjoy my writing please consider supporting my work through a monthly subscription on my Patreon page. Take a look to see the benefits you will receive as a patron.

become_a_patron_button

References

(1) Burkert, Walter. (1985). Greek Religion. Harvard University Press.

(2) Brady, Bernadette. (1998). Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars. Weiser.

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

Full Moon in Scorpio

Moon_Bat_Vortex

Image by Micelle Doucette (2020) whose work can be found at The Dreaming Canvas

Full Moon in Scorpio

The Full Moon in Scorpio on May 7, 2020 will illuminate the most inward depths of feelings and memories, penetrating underneath the surface of whatever emotional material has been gathered since the Taurus New Moon on April 22. Like laying down within a pastoral landscape of bees pollinating flowers, swallows diving and rising in flight, and the flowering of orchards, we may drink from the deep well of our psyche made from the ancient stores of our ancestry. Scorpio can be relentless in penetrating to the bottom line of surrounding emotional dynamics, exposing toxicity in a process that can bring about purification and the fertilization of growth from the decomposition. Immense emotional reactions and responses can be set off by the dynamics of the Scorpio Full Moon, bringing the opportunity for profound awareness as the courageous nature of the Scorpio Moon confronts whatever has been hidden in shadowy darkness.

The Scorpio Full Moon is applying closely to an opposition with Mercury in Taurus and a flowing trine with Neptune in Pisces, as Mercury and Neptune simultaneously are forming a harmonizing sextile aspect. Mercury was recently reseeded in a new cycle with the Sun and is still invisible, incubating the new meaning of its cycle while hidden in darkness. Altogether, there may be a lack of clarity regarding the large emotions passing through and so it will be best to let the feelings pass without believing that you understand things completely. It’s a good mixture for imaginative, artistic, and creative work and letting yourself be carried away to wherever the inspiration of the muses direct you. If you are in difficult circumstances caused by repercussions from the pandemic, the more you can mediate anxieties and fears the better you will be able to flow with the emotive impact of the Full Moon and utilize it to help re-dream the next phase of life to come.

The flowing charge of the Scorpio Full Moon may dislodge inner blocks of all shapes and sizes, opening potential for becoming aware of inner parts that have been lost or locked away. At the same time that the Full Moon is forming a trine with Neptune in Pisces, Venus is simultaneously beginning to station retrograde while forming a catalyzing square aspect with Neptune. Since both Mercury and the Sun are in the fixed, earthy, and inwardly directed home of Venus, it will be beneficial to make time to nurture your body and sensuality, sensing desires and other messages that have been accumulating within your bones and tissues. We are on the threshold of entering the strange quality of time brought about by Venus retrograde, when old material will emerge to be purged while new desires and relationships erupt viscerally into awareness.

While the Sun in Taurus facilitates centering and patiently cultivating security, the Full Moon in Scorpio reveals the shadow of yearnings in its light, unearthing the deeper source of what we need to feel secure. Rage can erupt over feelings of being wronged, anger and grief unleashed over the multitudinous forms of injustice being exposed by the impact of the pandemic. Combined with Venus stationing retrograde, the Scorpio Full Moon will penetrate with its light into the underlying dynamics of relationships and material concerns, especially wherever we have been stubbornly trying to control or manipulate in order to guard against the threat of loss. The polarity between Taurus and Scorpio has strong capacity for commitment and resiliently completing work, yet there may be aspects of life we simply must let go of during this period. In the wake of its catharsis, the Scorpio Full Moon can help in refocusing on what will best grow and flourish in the current climate, so that we can complete all the necessary work to prepare our fields for the harvest we wish to reap in the year ahead.

800px-YoshiClimber

Yoshitoshi (1885) One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

Mars in Aquarius rules the Full Moon while in the final four degrees of Aquarius, on the verge of finally climbing out of its long co-presence of being in the same sign as Saturn. Mars first entered the same sign as Saturn on February 16 when they were both in Capricorn, and they have remained in the same sign for close to the entirety of the time that has passed since then, corresponding with the grim reality of quarantines needing to be instituted and economies shut down around the world. Crucially, their union in Aquarius also involved a square aspect with Uranus in Taurus, jarring loose discord as the pandemic brought a collapse of numerous societal structures. Just as the previous Taurus New Moon reactivated the harsh aspects between Saturn, Uranus, and Mars, so does the Scorpio Full Moon make a sequence of hard aspects with each, amplifying the emotional wattage of the lunation.

Furthermore, Mercury in Taurus is applying toward a contentious square aspect with Mars in Aquarius which will become exact on May 11. Within current events the square between Mercury and Mars can be witnessed through the combative disagreements over how to proceed through the next phase of the pandemic, with those on the side of opening up the economy and those on the side of protecting public health both stubbornly resistant to compromise. Mars in Aquarius is driven to take action over humanitarian concerns and intellectual ideas, and so both sides of conflicts will likely dig in due to believing they have the interest of the greater good in mind. Mars in the airy sign of Saturn, with Saturn also co-present in Aquarius, does have capacity for cooly detaching from heated conflict and so when possible it will be best to claim space for grounding and gaining a calmer perspective for which direction to take next.

Though the Full Moon is in the deep waters of Scorpio and the Sun is in the fertile soil of Taurus, both of their rulers Mars and Venus are occupying air signs. Mars and Venus in air signs lack grounding and can get caught in a spiral driven by stress and anxiety, but as long as we can stay centered we can draw upon the strength of the air element for listening, analyzing, and devising creative solutions. Mars and Venus have been in range of a flowing trine aspect during the past month and a half that has never completed due to Venus slowing down to station retrograde. The Scorpio Full Moon illuminates the final separation between Mars and Venus, with Mars charging ahead to enter Pisces on May 12 at the same time Venus stands still to shift retrograde.

Mars and Venus are the closest planets to us in orbit, nocturnal planets that connect us with primal passions we discover within inner darkness away from the rationalism and judgment of daylight. While Venus relates to what unites us and what we find pleasurable and valuable, Mars represents our ability to pursue our desires, fight for our values, and separate ourselves from threats. The closeness of their trine aspect that never completed correlates with yearnings that will need to be purged during the next month of Venus shifting retrograde, as the next aspect completed between Mars and Venus will be an intensifying square aspect on June 2 as Venus is simultaneously being regenerated by its conjunction with the Sun. The Scorpio Full Moon can open a sense of what will need to be released in order to make space for the new desires that will be emerging during the upcoming Venus retrograde period that will last until the end of June.

Light _ snow _shadow _ rest

Image by Michelle Doucette whose work can be found at The Dreaming Canvas

There is a charged atmosphere around the Scorpio Full Moon due to not only Venus stationing within a week of the lunation, but also Saturn and Jupiter stationing and further saturating the astrological climate with their significations. Saturn will station retrograde on May 10, 2020 at 1°57′ Aquarius and will remain retrograde until stationing direct on September 29. Jupiter will station retrograde on May 14 at 27°14′ Capricorn and will remain retrograde until stationing direct on September 13. As a result, the week following the Scorpio Full Moon will bring a major change in storylines in personal and current events that will mark a dramatic initiation into the final period of the second quarter of 2020. The intensification of Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn simultaneously will involve an inward pull toward reorienting values in relation to the immense societal changes taking shape. Rather than clinging to what brought security in the past, it will be vital to be open to following a new direction forward as the world will not be returning to the way it began 2020.

The Full Moon in Scorpio is especially attuned toward the stationing of Jupiter in Capricorn, as it is applying toward a harmonious sextile aspect with Jupiter and Pluto retrograde in Capricorn. Moreover, Mercury in Taurus will be forming shadowy  contra-antiscia aspects with Saturn stationing on May 10 and 11, with Jupiter stationing on May 12, and then finally with Pluto retrograde on May 13 and 14. Once the catharsis of the Scorpio Full Moon passes, make time and space in the week following the lunation to monitor inner feelings closely and find ways to get a sense of what wants to emerge from you through journaling, art, or any type of meditative or spiritual practice that clears channels of reception. There is no doubt that outrageous corruption will continue to occur as global powers try to hold onto their disproportionate share of resources, yet these same astrological aspects on inner levels can correspond with profound moments of discovering the integrity and ethics you will be willing to embody and courageously stand up for in the tumultuous year ahead.

DF6A7A74-B64C-4007-9D42-BEEC1714A2DD_1_201_a

Silver coin from Knossis (400 B.C.)

Another major astrological shift illuminated by the Scorpio Full Moon is the transition of the transiting lunar nodes from Cancer and Capricorn into Gemini and Sagittarius on May 5, 2020. The true calculation of the lunar nodes have been in Cancer and Capricorn since November 6, 2018 and so you may notice that themes in your life that became activated at the end of 2018 related to the lunar nurturance of Cancer and the Saturnine contraction of Capricorn are in a state of resolution or dissolution. The waning Moon in Sagittarius will make its first contact with its South Node in Sagittarius on May 10, which will bring a more palpable sense of how the shift of the South Node into Sagittarius is unveiling old issues in need of digesting, decomposing, harvesting, and release.

As as result, Saturn is releasing its rulership of the South Node of the Moon and handing rulership over to the wise counsel of Jupiter in Capricorn. The transiting South Node of the Moon in Sagittarius will be calling for an examination of the underlying philosophies we live and make choices from, shedding old beliefs that no longer align with our experience. There is an obvious need to reckon with numerous old beliefs that have been at the center of societal structures due to the pandemic and its cataclysmic impact on economic and health care systems around the planet. On a personal level we may notice new seeds of vision emerging through letting go of beliefs that had been filtering our perception, while in other cases we may receive a rich harvest of meaning from systems of knowledge we have been extensively exploring.

In contrast, the fluidly mediating Mercury has taken over rulership of the North Node of the Moon in Gemini, guiding us in discovering new desires and ambitions as well as in the absorption of new material.  The transiting North Node of the Moon in Gemini will not be a straight path forward but rather a wildly divergent one requiring digressive changes in direction. Suiting the chaotic climate of the pandemic, Mercury will necessarily lead us away from preconceived plans and require a constant readiness to change directions, question beliefs, and remain open to new perspectives. The transiting North Node of the Moon in Gemini will incite insatiable drives of curiosity that can become overwhelmed by more pursuits of interest than can be adequately processed and integrated. Thus balance can be found through the South Node of Sagittarius using its fire to burn off whatever has been distracting or dissipating our full engagement, honing our sense of what pursuits we want to focus our full energy on developing.

While the ingress of the North Node of the Moon into Gemini will primarily amplify the significance of Venus stationing retrograde in Gemini, there is important additional meaning to be found in the fact that the asteroid Vesta is applying toward a conjunction with Venus that it will complete on May 15. Vesta is a goddess who sustains the sacred fire of the hearth and so will bring the devotional strength and enduring focus of the high priestess into relationship with Venus stationing retrograde. Vesta in Gemini will first form a square aspect with Neptune on May 12 before meeting Venus, mediating the meaning of the building tension in between Neptune and Venus.

Vesta’s role in sustaining the sacred fire requires maintaining the kind of cleansing, purifying, and grounding that we will need to avoid becoming lost in illusions constellated between Neptune and Venus stationing retrograde. Vesta in Gemini can also help in finding common ground with others even when isolated at home, as the tending of individual hearths and altars creates interconnection with others around the world doing the same. The intense focusing prowess of Vesta can help us orient toward the heart of the matter that needs our undivided attention as Venus stations retrograde, using the imaginal strength and dissolving capacities of Neptune to wash away blockages and barriers.

cups06

Six of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Scorpio 2 Decan

The Full Moon in Scorpio arises in the second decan of Scorpio associated with the Six of Cups illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The image reveals the innocence of receiving through giving, which connects with the Sun and Jupiter being the rulers of the second face of Scorpio. Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “An Apparatus for Mutual Distillation” to the second decan of Scorpio, describing it as a face in which mutual distillation within relationship allows for matters to be passed back and forth as in an alembic, “growing increasingly rarefied and potent.” Coppock wrote that while “it is easy to imagine these dynamics between romantic partners, all relationships which rely on trust and continuous exchange generate such circuits.”

Coppock’s description of ideal relational exchanges rooted in trust also brings to mind its antithesis of broken trust that unleashes overwhelming emotions and catalyzes separations and letting go. 12th century astrologer Ibn Ezra in The Beginning of Wisdom wrote that within the second face of Scorpio there “ascends a woman who has left her house; she is naked and has nothing on and she is entering the sea.” Austin Coppock described the second decan of Scorpio as warning that we need to be careful to whom we bare ourselves to, because the “virtuous circuit of exchange can become vicious in this face . . . the process of dual cultivation becomes one of mutual degradation, each destroying the quality of the other with each pass.”

Further showing the importance of separating from degrading relationships in the second decan of Scorpio, the Hellenistic text 36 Airs ascribed the Titan goddess Leto to the second face of Scorpio. Sister to the starry, divinatory goddess Asteria and mother to the twin lights of Artemis and Apollo, Leto’s presence in the face where the Scorpio Full Moon arises reveals the need to protectively nurture and cultivate whatever we hold most dear and wish to bring into the world. Leto had to flee and take refuge on an isolated island unattached to the ocean floor in order to escape the wrath of Hera, who had made all lands exclude Leto from entry due to her anger over the affair between Leto and Zeus.  It was said that the twin offspring of Leto would stabilize the new order of Olympian deities, and so her persistence in nurturing the birth of Apollo and Artemis was additionally a birth of a new collective age.  As the astrology of 2020 portends a new collective era emerging at the end of the year, Leto is a fitting symbol for taking whatever steps are necessary to give birth to the world you wish yourself and the generations to follow to inhabit.

If you enjoy my writing please consider supporting my work through a monthly subscription on my Patreon page. Take a look to see the benefits you will receive as a patron – in addition to the normal benefits patrons receive, I am currently offering a 50% discount on all natal consultations for patrons until further notice.

become_a_patron_button

References

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

 

Mercury Retrograde in Virgo

Splendor Solis Mercury flask

Mercury Flask from the Splendor Solis

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

— Karl Kerenyi, from Hermes: Guide of Souls

Mercury Retrograde in Virgo

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

In the realm of popular culture, periods of Mercury retrograde are known as disastrous aberrations in which Mercury becomes a scapegoat for all misfortunes and mishaps.  Yet the Mercury retrograde period is a regular cyclical phenomenon that happens at least three times every year, an essential aspect of Mercury’s orbit just like the consistent blackening of the Moon in its orbit.  Unlike the astrological stereotypes, important actions can be initiated during Mercury retrograde as well as successful contracts signed.  However, during Mercury retrograde it is advisable to sustain mental alertness and be open to signs, symbols, and information in your environment that can help guide your intuition toward which actions to take or commitments to make.

Mercury retrograde is intrinsic to Mercury in astrology, a planetary archetype of contesting and contrasting.  While Mercury signifies insight and smooth communication, the lessons of Mercury do not always come from stability, as experience shows that chaos and disorientation lead to illumination and realization.  Once Mercury moves retrograde it descends from being a visible Evening Star into an invisible, subterranean guide of soul catalyzing change and growth in situations that range widely from the frustrating to the enlivening.  Flowing with Mercury retrograde involves letting go of strict control and order, opening to the wisdom coming from unexpected sources.   As the changeable nature of Mercury is found in its extremely variable speed, when Mercury slows dow to station it is important to pay attention to its aspects in the natal chart as well as to other planets by transit.  The Mercury retrograde in Virgo begins with the strange brew of Mercury stationing in a beneficial conjunction with Jupiter and Venus, at the entrance into a dramatic portal of eclipses.

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

MercuryStationRxWRIGC3

Magritte-the-cultivation-of-ideas

The Cultivation of Ideas (1928) by Renee Magritte

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Denise Levertov, Beyond the End

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

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

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

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

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

Rene’ Magritte (1959) The Castle of the Pyrenees

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

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

— Denise Levertov, Down Here and up There

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

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

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

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

The Deer Looking Itself in the Water by Marc Chagall

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

— Denise Levertov, Sarnen

Mercury in the Heart

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

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

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

MercuryCazimiVirgoWRIGC2

Vasily Kafanov mystery of fishtower

Vasily Kafanov (1998) Mystery of the Fishtower

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

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

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

–Denise Levertov, The Depths

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

Sekhmet temple bw

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

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

Frida Roots II

Frida Kahlo (1943) Roots

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

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

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

–Denise Levertov: Forest Altar, September

Equinox Stationing

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

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

MercuryStationDirectWRIGC1C

References

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

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

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.