Scorpio Full Moon & Jupiter

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Detail from The Cross Rose in the Garden of Venus by Marlene Seven Bremner (2016)

Full Moon in Scorpio

We marvel at the lush petals opening, quivering in colorful scent. Yet its the roots, invisible and unnoticed that nourish the splendor. The Full Moon in Scorpio invites us to descend into sensation, into our hidden inner world that replenishes vitality and sources our full presence in the world. Authentic growth comes from deepening into the senses of soul, quietly embracing how the fullness of our inner senses receives the fullness of the outside world. The Full Moon is united with Jupiter in Scorpio, meaning there is revelry to be found in depths of thought and feeling, whether through shared intimacy or solitary, penetrating contemplation.

Taurus has the grace of calm power and a stubborn resolve for maintaining the stability of whatever brings pleasure and nurturance. The season of Taurus invites gratitude for the beauty we find in our surroundings and doing the necessary work to prepare the fields of our domain for the harvest we wish to reap in the year ahead. The polarity of the Full Moon in Scorpio digs underneath the surface of our motivations to the primal desires that drive us and bring the intrinsic resiliency to persevere with full participation in life. The polarity between Scorpio and Taurus is a powerhouse willing to dig in and do the necessary work, and the surrounding astrological aspects indicate there are important endeavors to complete. However, it will also be important to make space and time for sensing within as its an especially fertile lunation for uncovering previously concealed insight.

The Scorpio Full Moon illuminates the path that has opened in the aftermath of numerous tumultuous astrological aspects that have dominated April. Over the course of the past month Mars has moved from a conjunction with Saturn (April 2) through a conjunction with Pluto (April 26) its beginning to separate from at the lunation. Mercury in Aries has formed two catalytic square aspects with Saturn in Capricorn, first while retrograde (April 5) and then a final time recently while direct (April 25). During the past month plans may not have gone smoothly, unforeseen obstacles or delays may have emerged, and our desires may have taken us off pre-planned paths into unknown terrain. The aspects surrounding the lunation suggest that however things have been developing, we have been given the needed information and felt the needed desires for intensifying realization of passion and purpose.

The union of Mars and Pluto in Capricorn rules the Full Moon, amplifying the potency of the lunation’s alliance with Jupiter. Whatever has been lurking in the shadows comes forward, demanding awareness. In some cases this subconscious material involves our positive potential we have been denying or holding back from. It also can involve ghosts of the past stirring up regrets, disappointments, and memories of immature behaviors we have now outgrown. Instead of debilitating ourselves with excessive self criticism, allow the putrefaction of the past to feed reception of the vital new presence ready to emerge from within. Mars and Pluto can be engaged best with the integrity of honest expression. If we attempt to block expression due to fear of external disapproval, the suppressed volatility of Mars and Pluto will erupt with volcanic force and unforeseen consequences. As a result its important to clarify internal feelings and then find ways to ground the inner fire into concrete action.

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from Rosarium Philosophorum

The Full Moon in Scorpio forms a square and symbolic crossroads with its North Node in Leo and South Node in Aquarius. This deeply stirs lunar states of mind, irrational feelings, psychic messages, and subtle guidance to glean from flowing unconscious streams, especially since the Scorpio Moon is also applying to a trine with Neptune in Pisces. The Full Moon is at the bendings, and though this can feel chaotic it also creates reflective opportunities for investigating the undercurrents of our current trajectory and surrounding developments in relationships. Practically, this means that the Full Moon is at the point of forming a square aspect with the previous Leo Lunar Eclipse (January 31) as well as the upcoming Aquarius Lunar Eclipse (July 27). There are strong currents to navigate as the Scorpio Full Moon peaks, so do your best to balance the compulsive force of the union between Mars and Pluto with reflecting upon your current path and next steps to take. The force of Mars and Pluto together needs expression and creates the atmosphere in the weeks ahead to jump into the rush of life and do your works of passion.

The past month of Mercury moving retrograde, becoming purified by the Sun, and now moving direct again as a bright Morning Star has helped clarify passions and refined purposeful visions. Mercury is at maximum morning elongation as a Morning Star at the Scorpio Full Moon, and as it illuminates the liminal pre-dawn skies it will help open the awareness and make the inspiring connections that can bring the visions we have been developing into fruition. Frustrations and delays that arose in the past month through Mercury’s back and forth tension with Saturn have ultimately given us additional perspectives to draw from, with the process elucidating more effective strategies and choices. The mercurial process may also have catalyzed intimations of new potential voiced from within that can now be integrated.

Gary Caton in his book Hermetica Triptycha connected Mercury direct at maximum morning elongation to the rubedo phase of alchemy.  Caton wrote that Mercury’s current connection with the rubedo phase signifies becoming “messengers of the future we have seen within us,” manifesting the new meaning gained during the recent Mercury retrograde period rather than returning to the status quo we had previously been used to. Caton advised as we integrate what we’ve brought back from spiritual realms and subconscious sensations, “the appearance of some externally chaotic conditions at this point actually demonstrates that the inner chaos of the spiritual realms has been successfully transferred, that spirit and matter are in correspondence” (p. 128). Embracing the volatility can help us deepen into the essential change and growth ready to be experienced.

Harmonia Elementorum (2017) by Marlene Seven Bremner

Saturn has begun its retrograde journey from 9º08′ Capricorn that will take it back to 2º32′ Capricorn when it stations direct on September 6.  As a result this Saturn retrograde in Capricorn will be especially significant for anyone with sensitive natal chart placements in the first ten degrees of cardinal signs, but for all of us we are now at the beginning stage of returning to an examination of the issues that have arisen with the ingress of Saturn into Capricorn at the end of 2017.  Saturn is in a harmonious sextile with the Scorpio Full Moon and flowing trine with the Taurus Sun, aspects that support time spent rooted in rumination. Saturn has turned away from the heated intensity brought by Mars earlier in the month to return to its cold and solitary lair that facilitates taking apart recent difficulties in order to discern how the lessons learned fit into the bigger picture of our lives.

In contrast to Saturn, Venus in Gemini is playing a mediating role with the transiting lunar nodes that are in hard aspect to the Scorpio Full Moon. Venus is forming harmonious aspects with both the South Node and North Node of the Moon, indicating that actively following our curiosity will help discern choices aligned with our life purpose to a greater extent. Venus in Gemini is explorative and willing to listen and sustain dialogue, promoting a period of greater socializing. Venus in the airy home of Mercury draws us toward perspectives we may not agree with at first but ultimately help us clarify our reasoning and purpose in response. Venus in Gemini can help us flexibly shift in line with volatile changes and refine our understanding through staying engaged in conversations and discovering connections that bring about self-realization.

Interestingly, Venus in Gemini is also contra-antiscia to Mars in Capricorn, a shadowy yet dynamic aspect that will bring relational issues to the surface. The triggering of old relational patterns is further signified by Chiron in Aries occupying the mid-point of Venus and Mars at 0º Aries. If we are reminded of old wounds we may also notice how much we have grown and are now capable of releasing old pain through genuine forgiveness and acceptance. There is also immense vitality within these aspects for creative expression that harnesses the value we can discover in difficult experiences and memories. The influence of Chiron further provokes self-esteem issues in relation to identity, placing importance on finding value for our true self rather than personas we have previously crafted to fit more easily into consensus culture. Chiron has been in Aries for a week and a half, so the Full Moon is opportune for noticing what issues have arisen in correspondence with Chiron changing signs.

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5 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Scorpio 1 Decan

The Full Moon illuminates the first face of Scorpio associated with the Five of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The image appears desolate at first, as a despairing figure stares with fixation upon three spilled chalices. However, upon closer look there remain two upright chalices behind the figure, suggesting hope. There is also a river flowing underneath a bridge behind the figure, bringing the flux philosophy of Heraclitus that no one ever steps in the same river twice since the river is always changing as well as the person. It is a fitting image to associate with the first decan of Scorpio as it captures the fundamental nature of having desires within our constantly shifting world in which we must deal with the loss of what we desire most in the world.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Jawbone” to the first decan of Scorpio, declaring hunger as its chief concern. Coppock synthesized the ancient textual images of this face around the repeating cycle of desire, including consuming hunger, satiation, the loss of what one desires, and the competitive violence of pursuing desires. Curiously the ancient Hermetic text Liber Hermetis tells us “a crab having wings” resides here, indicating that liberation may be possible once we face the compulsive nature of the cycle. The Hellenistic text 36 Airs ascribed the Numphai to this face, feminine nature spirits who reside in sacred streams, groves, and grottoes. The obsessive nature of this face brings to mind the figure of Dionysus who often ran with wild nymphs and whose all consuming desires brought dismemberment and rebirth.

Mars rules the first face of Scorpio while conjoining Pluto in its exaltation of Capricorn. With Pluto amplifying the fires of Mars, feelings of grief and loss may come more strongly from collective rather than personal realms. We can feel pain and destruction within local and global collectives, from the degradation of natural environments to innumerable instances of abuse, abandonment, loss, and betrayal occurring in the lives of others if not ourselves. It can be easy to identify with the mournful figure in the Five of Cups card lamenting the spilled liquid softening the ground under their feet. Yet as the image suggests, we also have cups full of enlivening liquid ever ready to quench our thirst. Turning toward whatever has survived a chaotic process of purgation, we discover a deepening strength and magical potency. There is agency to be seized and embodied in the glowing light of the Scorpio Full Moon. Use it well, and discern how to most effectively serve with its light.

References

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

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

Aries New Moon & Uranus

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Rene Magritte (1962) The Domain of Arnheim

New Moon in Aries

New Moons present an opportunity within fertile darkness to set intention. As the Moon aligns with our Sun and begins a new cycle and trajectory into increased light, we similarly pass from the close of a cycle into the promise of potential. Amplified beyond the norm, the New Moon in Aries on April 15 invites intention sung from peaks of far ranging vision. The lunation is aligned with Uranus and so whatever has been building in tension within constriction now demands release. Uranus brings increased excitement and incites desire for honest, authentic expression freed from restriction. Collective events will clamor and roar with a quickening pace, breaking open what has been confined. On personal levels within the tumult there is support for releasing liberated vision through grounded effort. Patience and due diligence must be embodied, using the imaginal excitement of future dreams as a gentle force of inspiration rather than an overbearing insistence on getting one’s way.

The New Moon arrives at the same time that Mercury has finally stationed direct, ending it’s retrograde in Aries that began March 22. Hermes seizes the stage, and as all eyes become drawn to the Winged Messenger we can also become conscious of openings for taking bold and direct action aligned with inner purpose. Whatever has become dislodged and purged in the past three weeks of the Mercury retrograde has created the space needed for integrating a new dimension of presence sourced from the stoking of inner fire. Mercury will be illuminating the sky at dawn as a Morning Star as the Moon waxes in light in the forthcoming lunar cycle, curious and eager to set plans in action and seek out new information to strengthen development of goals. Pay attention in case Hermes fooled you recently with some sleight of hand, as Mercury stationing direct brings capacity for focused alacrity attuned with the changing details of circumstances.

At the same time Mercury in Aries is stationing direct, Saturn in Capricorn is stationing retrograde. Planets stationing bring their significations forward from the depths of the collective unconscious into stark awareness. This is especially the case with Mercury and Saturn at the moment as they are stationing in range of a catalytic square to one another. Due to Mercury’s retrograde phase in recent weeks, we have already experienced a square aspect between Mercury and Saturn on March 10 and April 5. It will be worthwhile to reflect upon changes that have been happening since March 10 and messages we have received regarding the work and service we wish to perform as well as the stability and effectiveness of the structures we have in place for support and implementation. If we have already been actively reflecting upon and experimenting with what’s been working and not working optimally in recent weeks, then the Aries New Moon is ideal for implementing needed modification.

Mercury will be applying to a square with Saturn in Capricorn for the rest of April, eventually perfecting the aspect on April 25. This means the rest of the month Mercury has a drive for instigating movement and directly creating what we want, while Saturn will make the limitations of available time and resources obvious. The negative side of Mercury holding such a strong aspect with Saturn for so long is excessive self-criticism for not living up to expectations. If you have a grand vision of something to create, let the limitations and obstacles that arise in the next month help you strengthen your project and allow it to develop with fruitful fluidity. The encounter between Mercury and Saturn is perfect for figuring out how to best serve the needs of others with what you want to manifest, rather than being overly consumed with your own selfish conception. If you are instead feeling frustrated with a lack of inventive ideas or confused over which direction to pursue, allow Mercury the time and space to help guide you, as its tension with Saturn in the weeks ahead will eventually bring increased clarity.

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from the Splendor Solis

Mars in Capricorn rules the New Moon while applying to a conjunction with Pluto. As the tension between Mercury and Saturn builds over the rest of April, so will the ferment between Mars and Pluto intensify as they will eventually reach exact union on April 26. Mars and Pluto coming together is always a time of reckoning in which we must acknowledge and find outlets of expression for deep seated desires we may have been repressing or denying. This particular conjunction of Mars and Pluto is epic, as Mars is moving from a union with Saturn to a union with Pluto and therefore foreshadowing the coming union of Saturn and Pluto in 2020.

The cycle of Pluto and Saturn is one of the most important cycles to pay attention to in mundane astrology especially in connection with destruction of empires and power structures coupled with the emergence of upstarts claiming increased levels of power and control within global systems. Its especially significant that Saturn has made it within the fifteen degree threshold with Pluto that Richard Tarnas established as his boundary marker for cultural correspondences in his book Cosmos and Psyche (Tarnas tracked historical correlations with planetary alignments of conjunctions and oppositions using a fifteen degree orb). This essentially signals that we are already experiencing the sweeping tides that will irrevocably alter the global landscape in 2020. No kidding, right.

The scope of the coming changes relative to global civilizations is immense, as Pluto and Saturn will be uniting in range of a conjunction with their own south nodes. Dane Rudhyar wrote that the south node of a planet is like “the negative pole of an electrical system” that is “a point of release, but what is released can be waste-materials…At its south node the characteristic quality of a planet is almost forcibly thrown upon the Earth.” Pluto has already conjoined its south node and we are only at the beginning of a period unleashing the full arc of Pluto’s archetype. The news cycle is full of stories displaying the decay of old cultural systems, the exposure of corruption within them, and innumerable examples of those in power attempting to coerce and maintain control within the dismantling. There is no stopping the rapid currents of change underway, but within the breaking apart of the old there is new space being created to take responsibility for developing new structures that can support those feeling vulnerable amid the upheaval.

Significantly, at the same time Mars is approaching Pluto it is also being received by Jupiter in Scorpio through an integrative sextile aspect that can help bring regeneration out of discord, or at least transmit feelings of resistance, stress or challenge into productive action. The ability to produce something of beautiful value within surrounding intensity is also embodied by Venus in Taurus separating from a trine with Mars in Capricorn and applying to an opposition with Jupiter. The flowing energy between Mars with Venus and Jupiter combined with powerful tensions held by other aspects points to Aries New Moon being an extremely powerful launch pad for bold, dynamic endeavors full of resilient perseverance to not only survive but foster increased levels of strength within a stressful environment.

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Odilon Redon (1900) Centaur

Chiron in Aries

Chiron ingresses into Aries two days after the New Moon on April 17. Chiron first entered Pisces on April 20, 2010 and so we have eight years of Chiron moving across Pisces to look back over and reflect upon today. Chiron will be in Aries for only part of 2018, as it will station retrograde on July 5 at 2º25′ of Aries and then return to Pisces on September 25 for its finale in the sign of the Fish. Chiron spends more time in Aries than it does in other signs, for its crossing of Aries terrain takes it to the furthest point of its orbit out by Uranus. Chiron is the celestial body that bridges the dimension beyond Uranus to the one within the guardianship of Saturn, and so can provide counsel for how to listen to the subconscious messages arising with the Uranian lunation.

Chiron has brought about enormous dissolution while in Pisces that has helped facilitate healing as well as strength in facing and learning from disillusionment. Pisces is an internal and sensitive water sign that is in clear contrast to the fiery agency that will become available to Chiron in Aries. Chiron emerges from his cave in Aries ready to train heroes and heroines, eager to engage the power systems of the world in direct action. Chiron in Aries brings empowered will force to the determination of Saturn and Mars in Capricorn, bringing increased drive for advancement and protection, finding ways to direct outrage from oppressive power structures into effective streams of manifestation. Chiron in Aries will demand reclaiming power. How we choose to reclaim power and fight against forces of oppression will be one way Chiron in Aries will trigger wounds for healing.

Aries 3 Decan by Francesco Del Cossa

Aries 3 Decan image from Allegory of March: Triumph of Minerva (1476) by Francesco del Cossa

Aries 3 Decan

The third face of Aries is ruled by Venus and Jupiter and similarly holds uplifting passion resonant with the daimon of Eros. The image above by Francesco del Cossa of a figure who resides within this face encapsulates aspects of numerous images found in ancient text. The trinity of Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Picatrix, and Liber Hermetis all reveal figures dressed in red and holding a staff or sword. This passionate figure is wearing either a golden or wooden bracelet depending on whether you consult Three Books of Occult Philosophy or the Picatrix, but both texts indicate the figure embodies the unrest of not being able to do desired good. The reason for not being able to manifest these good wishes is not stated, but Three Books proclaims there is “talent, tameness, joy, and beauty” to be found here. The figure in the Picatrix is an iron worker and so has a medium through which to transfigure frustrated anger into works of vivifying creation.

The figure in Liber Hermetis wears a gold crown with glistening emeralds decorating her belly. She is full of magic and her staff has the heads of four serpents facing a polarity of directions. Her garments of dark rose are lined with golden strings and she seems to possess the grace of the figure painted by Francesco del Cossa rather than the fury over constraints described by other texts. The focused countenance in del Cossa’s figure suggests they have an inner knowing of being able to make a targeted impact, as they seem to be summoning an inner force to project through the golden bracelet held delicately with their fingers. Francesco del Cossa placed an arrow in the other hand, evoking the mythic Eros or Cupid. Eros is in fact resonant, as the Hellenistic text 36 Airs ascribed the figure of Eros to the third face of Aries: the capacity of Eros to arouse passions into creations that inspire collective forces lies at the heart of the decan’s meaning.

Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Burning Rose” to the third face of Aries for reasons similar to its correspondence with Eros.  Coppock wrote that “Eros’ escapades make clear that the desire for unification is inflamed by separation, love by war, lust by forbiddance.” The concept of unifying through the flames of inspiration is key to Coppock’s interpretation of this face, as he wrote that it contains “the power of the spirit to unify and seduce, to motivate and to bond those of confluent passion.” Coppock illuminated that it is the martial, battle-ready ferocity of Aries turned toward artistic performance and charismatic presentation that gives this decan its power “to create a commonality of spirit even in the most hostile conditions.”

All of us can draw from the inspirational force of the New Moon occurring in the third face of Aries, united with Uranus, to bring resources and people together for the greater good. While we will become upset and express grief over difficult collective and personal events, there will also be opportunities for the strife of intense events to mobilize us toward new levels of strength we can utilize in supporting and inspiring others. The Aries New Moon asks us to get into the flow and ride the rapids of coming change, ready to respond and open to receiving assistance.

References

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

Rudhyar, Dane. (1971). The Planetary and Lunar Nodes. CSA Press.

 

Virgo Full Moon

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Crow in Flight (1916) Watanabe Seitei

Full Moon in Virgo

Following an eruption of panoramic, polyphonic perceptual feelings, perspicacity returns in the form of a Virgo Full Moon in strong aspect with Mercury and Saturn.  The Moon’s journey from darkness to full light in the past couple weeks of this lunar cycle aligned with immense releases triggered by a solar eclipse, Venus stationing retrograde, and Mercury’s union with the Sun.  The Virgo Full Moon brings focus to the moment within the streams of change, centering awareness on how to integrate the heightened influx of released emotions and changes in circumstances and relationships.  Eclipses as well as Venus retrograde periods tend to be times of destiny in which new relationships emerge with fateful force while older relationships undergo necessary shifts or dissolution.  The light of the Virgo Full Moon will illuminate where concrete action needs to be taken to address developing issues as well as how to adjust and modify the boundaries and structures of our lives to effectively work with however our external and internal experiences have been changing.

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Youth on a Long-Tailed Turtle as Urashima Taro by Suzuki Harunobu (1725-1770)

Mercury in Pisces rules the Full Moon, separating from a square with Saturn in Sagittarius and a conjunction with Chiron.  Mercury began a new cycle with the Sun less than a week before the Full Moon and as a result has been purified and regenerated from passing through the fiery heart of our Sun.  However, Mercury remains combust and invisible due to its close proximity to the Sun, making it more difficult for Mercury in Pisces to sustain attention to detail.  Mercury in Pisces is also not known for rational discernment and thorough research to the extent Mercury enjoys in its home and exaltation of Virgo, yet does brings imaginative and intuitive gifts that can open vision to how to best navigate forward with current plans.  Mercury in Pisces has a psychic sense of underlying emotional dynamics and as a result the Full Moon will bring keen insight into one’s genuine feelings that previously may have been denied or blocked.

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White Cloud (Lighthouse) by Helen Torr (circa 1932)

Saturn in Sagittarius forms a square to the Virgo Full Moon as well as Mercury and Chiron in Pisces, enforcing discipline to the visionary capacities of Mercury and Chiron in Pisces.  Mercury in Pisces inspires poetic leaps of thought and investigating questions seeking ultimate understanding, and its hard aspect to Saturn supports dedicated focus on tangible, practical action that will shift the musings of Mercury in Pisces from the inner realm of dreams into the external world of material manifestation.  Saturn in Sagittarius has a more far reaching vision than Saturn does in other signs, and its strong influence on the Virgo Full Moon will illuminate not only the path forward but the actions and steps needed to be taken immediately in order to ensure later success.  The square from Saturn to Mercury and Chiron will also bring alert to any areas of life that need attention, in particular due to consequences stemming from the shifts that have occurred in the recent period of eclipses.  Use the intuitive capacities of Mercury in Pisces to attune to any and all messages pointing toward where one needs to recalibrate priorities and focus.

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Horse’s Skull with Pink Rose (1931) Georgia O’Keeffe

Venus in Aries is retrograde yet remains a burning, bright Evening Star at the time of the Virgo Full Moon.  Less than week after the Full Moon around March 18, however, Venus will descend at twilight into her invisible journey into the underworld where she will dive into the heart of our Sun for her rebirth.   Venus retrograde is finally beginning to gain movement backwards through zodiac degree at the Full Moon, and the initial shifts of passions and relational dynamics that have coincided with her stationing in mid Aries will now be obvious in the full light of the Mercurial lunation.  Venus in Aries is ardor, is embodiment of fiery passion circulating from head to toe, and the love and yearning of Venus in Aries demands outlets of expression.  If one is not currently in a relationship through which to luxuriate within the sensual delights of Venus, there are numerous other avenues available through which to sublimate her enflamed passions available while in the home of Mars and the exaltation of our Sun.  Art, creativity, pioneering explorations, and social activism are especially suitable mediums, but the important thing is to find places in life to freely express feelings rather than bottle them up and risk having them erupt in unfavorable circumstances.

An important shift that occurred as the Moon increased in light building up to the Full Moon was that Mars entered Taurus, as Mars is hosting Venus in his home of Aries.  As a result there is mutual generosity between Mars and Venus, as Venus is likewise hosting Mars in her home of Taurus.  Mars in Taurus forms a whole sign trine to the Full Moon in Virgo, and furthermore is applying to an exact trine with the North Node in Virgo and a sextile with the South Node in Pisces.  Venus is known as being estranged in Aries and Mars is also known as being estranged in Taurus, and so both planets are in signs in which they can express strength but in a way that can feel more out of control.  Mars does enjoy expressing itself through the sensual earth signs where it can ground its force into tangible actions in the material realm, and so its mutual generosity with Venus in Aries can likewise bridge unlocked Venusian passion into concrete growth.

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Virgo 3 Decan

The Virgo Full Moon occurs in the third face of Virgo that is associated with the 10 of Pentacles card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  In tarot this image of a family enjoying the fruits of their labor and legacy is associated with wealth, both the accumulation of wealth as well as being able to sustain wealth through familial lineages or other legacies. The image also corresponds with the achievement of a stable, secure lifestyle affording one the possibility of enjoying material luxuries as well as the luxury of a contemplative lifestyle.  We likewise have our own lineages to draw from in the pursuit and gaining of wealth, in terms of the root meaning of wealth being about happiness, health, and well-being. This could connect with your blood relatives and ancestors or your soul tribe, those beings who are your kindred spirits and have provided you with inspiration and visionary meaning.

The third face of Virgo is ruled by Mercury, giving Mercury added emphasis at a Full Moon that also occurs in the domicile and exaltation of Mercury. Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces took a Mercurial angle to this card by interpreting that “the pensive nature of the elder pictured on this card suggest that wealth is here posed as a question, to be riddled out. What, given the fate of all created things, is truly valuable?” (p. 151). Coppock ascribed the image of “The Sarcophagus” to the third face of Virgo, as being the third decan it is about the separation of spirit and matter from previous balance, revealing the ultimate value of the work as the final face of the three Earth signs of the zodiac:

In this face we ponder the ultimate result of material things. The limits of all created works are here considered. This decan thus has the power to break the pride of all created things by showing them their inevitable end . . . One gains the ability to look beyond the present, seeing consequences as clearly as actions. The ability to see unto the 7th generation is gained …

Escorted by wealth on one side and death on the other, the residents of this face cross the threshold into the tomb. Alone in the burial chamber with silent centuries, they dialogue with the corpse all will become about the value of all things. The importance of legacies becomes clear, for though all works face eventual decay, some endure for aeons . . .

In comprehending the ongoing cycle of generation and corruption, one is freed from fear, for most terrors are petty, and disappear when the shadow of inevitability falls across them. This discussion reveals the importance of things as they are- arising and receding- and deserving of love and attention.

–Austin Coppock from 36 Faces

Though not mentioned by Coppock in his deft portrayal of this decan, in the tables of the appendix he lists that the fragmentary Hellenistic text the 36 Airs ascribed the goddess Hestia to the third face of Virgo. Hestia is a sublime spirit guide to turn towards at the Full Moon, for she holds within her purified gaze the focus necessary to stay true to the quality of value essential to our vitality that we wish to invest into the work we perform in the world. Hestia is the devoted one with a far reaching legacy of sisterhood we can draw from, a spiritual lineage that across tumultuous centuries has sustained respect with every breath and action for the living force found throughout all of the natural world of creation. Hestia holds within her heart a moral compass impossible to manipulate or distract away from the path of love and service to all of creation.

Saturn in Sagittarius is residing at the same degree it will be inhabiting when Venus stations direct on April 15, and the Virgo Full Moon ruler Mercury is inhabiting the same degree of Pisces basically where both Chiron and Venus will be when Venus stations direct. As a result the Virgo Full Moon is not only illuminating the initial meaning of the Venus retrograde but also unveiling insight into how things will be taking shape in the months ahead. Within waves of shattering change, within the decomposition and death of the old and the hatching of the new, like Hestia may we open ourselves to the change of the moment through heart-centered focus on the eternal power of love and devotion.

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.

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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.

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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.

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References

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

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