New Moon in Sagittarius

Ultimum+Conjunction Marlene Seven Bremner

Ultimum Conjunction: Jupiter and the Royal Eagles of Projection (2019) by Marlene Seven Bremner

Sagittarius New Moon

The cosmos works / by harmony of tensions, / like the lyre and bow.

— Heraclitus, fragment 56, translated by Brooks Haxton

The New Moon in Sagittarius on November 26 brings us to the final days of Jupiter’s time in its fiery home of Sagittarius where it expresses its full essential nature. As the tension of the Centaur’s bowstring readies to launch inspired arrows of targeted will, a bonfire warms the cold, encroaching darkness where a bard sings songs celebrating heroic deeds and gathered wisdom. While there are unknown perils and conflicts waiting to be enacted beyond the horizon, as the Moon darkens there is star fire to kindle within and carry forward on the journey ahead. Use the New Moon to consider your core purpose and the top priorities you need to focus on to create the vision of life you wish to live in the year ahead.

The Sagittarius New Moon initiates us into the lunar cycle that leads toward the eclipse season demarcating the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020. The next New Moon will be an Annular Solar Eclipse in Capricorn on December 25/26 conjoining Jupiter in Capricorn, followed by a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse in Cancer on January 10 which will occur two days before Saturn and Pluto unite on January 12. The tightening conjunction between Saturn and Pluto will bring increased tension and pressure in the next couple of months, but within the fracturing and disintegration we can already witness occurring in collective events we can begin to sense how we will need to be revisioning plans in response. The intentions lit today with Sagittarius fire will be honed into sharper focus in December and January, separating essential goals and desires from the inessential.

Jupiter in Sagittarius rules the New Moon while occupying 28º38′ of the Centaur’s zodiacal terrain, giving the star of Zeus less than two degrees to cross before entering its fall in Capricorn on December 2. Jupiter at this point is seasoned in the symbolism of Sagittarius and ready for a change in fortune. It will be worthwhile to reflect upon your experience of Jupiter in Sagittarius during the past year for lessons you can apply toward Jupiter’s approaching journey through the wild woods and mountainous landscapes of Capricorn. What aspects of your beliefs have you needed to shed in order to align with a more authentic truth, and where has your faith deepened? Where did inflated hopes lead you astray, and what risks did you take that led to increased creativity, abundance, gratitude, or fellowship? While 2020 contains challenging and difficult astrological transits, it also will bring opportunities for dramatically increasing strength and skill through pursuing the vision you have cultivated during the past year of Jupiter in Sagittarius.

[Note: if you are interested in learning more about Jupiter’s transit through Capricorn, I am conducting a webinar on December 8 exploring the meaning of Jupiter in Capricorn you can sign up for here.]

Pan, cornucopia, cupid, herm

Giulio Bonasone (1550-60) Etching of Pan, Nymph, & Cupid in front of a Herm

As the curtain opens on the change in scenery brought by the Sagittarius New Moon, Venus shining bright as an Evening Star is playing a pivotal role. Within the darkness of the lunation, Venus has made a dramatic costume change into the carefully arranged aesthetics of Capricorn while applying to a conjunction with productive Ceres. Since Venus is receiving Uranus in Taurus through a flowing trine which will complete on November 28, she is bringing the inspired revelations gathered from her recent union with Jupiter into contact with the electrifying and experimental influence of Uranus. As Venus is also forming a receptive sextile with Mars in Scorpio, there is a vivifying potency for Venus to direct toward innovative solutions that possess a grounded and realistic creativity.

The entrance of Venus into Capricorn initiates us into a time period of intensified Capricorn influence, as Jupiter will follow the path of Venus through Capricorn in the weeks ahead. Jupiter will enter Capricorn on December 2 as Venus applies to a conjunction with the South Node of the Moon in Capricorn and a harmonizing sextile with Mars. The combined influence of the South Node of the Moon, Mars, and Uranus on Venus favors a frugal and efficient use of assets, finding inventive ways to artfully harvest value from available resources. As Jupiter will be simultaneously descending into the material concerns of Capricorn, growth will be found through tending to the roots of matters and wisely working within the constraints of time and space.

Venus will be getting closer to conjoining Saturn each day of the forthcoming lunar cycle, forming an exact conjunction with Saturn on December 11 as the Full Moon in Gemini reaches peak light. Although the passage of Venus through Capricorn will not be pleasantly easy, Venus can help us bring enlivening Eros into circumstances of Necessity through a measured approach that steadily builds step by step. The challenging sequence of conjunctions Venus will form with the South Node of the Moon (December 3), Saturn (December 11), and Pluto (December 13) will coalesce a deeply felt sense of what needs our attention, care, and nurturance as we approach the monumental shifts that will come with the new cycle of Saturn and Pluto forming in January 2020.

Remedios Varo Los-Reinos-Combatientes-1961

Remedios Varo (1961) Los Reinos Combatientes

Providing an underlying jolt to the lunation is the lingering effect of Mars in Scorpio  separating from an opposition with Uranus in Taurus that occurred on November 24. While the opposition between Mars and Uranus corresponded with amplified conflicts and mass protests in world events, on personal levels there likely was an unexpected change or rapid acceleration in events that forced buried issues to the surface. Since Venus is applying toward a receptive sextile with Mars during the Sagittarius New Moon, there will be opportunities to mend any difficult material that was stirred up by the opposition between Mars and Uranus. There is also enormous creative potency within the aspects between Mars, Uranus, and Venus that begs for taking creative risks within design and implementation of any projects being worked on.

After Jupiter exits from Sagittarius on December 2, the two strongest transiting planets in terms of essential dignity will be Mars in Scorpio and Saturn in Capricorn until Mars enters Sagittarius on January 3. Moreover, Mars will be applying toward a receptive sextile with Saturn that will eventually complete on December 19. The strengthened positions of Mars and Saturn during the forthcoming lunar cycle emphasize the need for hard work and courageously persisting with resiliency through whatever obstacles, opposition, and setbacks we must endure. It will be necessary to take action and mix it up with others in order to access the potential available, but it will also be important to make sure we are investing energy into worthwhile enterprises that are aligned with our core purpose. As long as we are following our authentic path, any strife we experience will ultimately make us stronger.

Remedio Varo-Personaje-1960.jpg

Remedios Varo (1960) Personaje

The other major aspect of the Sagittarius New Moon involves Mercury strongly applying to a flowing trine aspect with Neptune stationing direct in Pisces. When Neptune stations it saturates the astrological atmosphere with insight that can be found in the imaginal realm or when entering liminal spaces of a spiritual practice or artistic process. Meanwhile, Mercury is not only direct and visible again as a Morning Star, it is also picking up speed as it reaches its maximum elongation on November 28. During this phase of Mercury’s cycle it’s important to implement and take action on whatever new ideas were cultivated during the past month of Mercury retrograde, as well as embracing the new presence that Mercury retrograde guided us to embody. With Mercury in Scorpio, we can cut through the superficial to penetrate into the core meaning we need to receive or communicate.

After Mercury completes its trine with Neptune it will next form a harmonizing sextile aspect with Saturn in Capricorn on November 29 followed by another sextile aspect with Pluto in Capricorn on December 2. Thus, Mercury is in prime position to transmit the otherworldly emanations of Neptune into tangible, creative vision we can manifest with disciplined determination. With Mars co-present in Scorpio and joining Mercury as a Morning Star heralding the rise of the Sun each morning, there will be amplified potential to exert focused effort and make significant progress on goals.

wands08

8 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Sagittarius 1 Decan

The Sagittarius New Moon is in the first face of Sagittarius associated with the Eight of Wands card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The Eight of Wands signifies a multiplicity of developments as well as the speed of thought and imagination applied to a passionate goal, which fits well with Mercury being the ruler of the first face of Sagittarius. Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Poisoned Arrow” to the first decan of Sagittarius, writing that “the essence of this decan entails the swift emergence of a motivating vision and the attainment of a vehicle to move one toward the pictured goal.” Coppock also remarked on the attribution of daimons of plague by the Hellenistic text 36 Airs to this face, noting this decan also involves “the secrets of propaganda” and other viruses that can “infect the psyche” and hijack our bodies, emotions, and minds.

Indeed, traditional texts on the first decan of Sagittarius are filled with images of armed figures capable of striking and overcoming their target with speed. While Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy described an armored man holding a sword, Ibn Ezra’s The Beginning of Wisdom contained a shouting centaur holding a bow and arrows. Similarly, the Yavanajataka described a golden man with drawn bow and “instruments for the sacrifice” who knows about chariots and weapons and possesses “speed as violent as a horse’s.” And in Liber Hermetis we find the image of “a man having the head of a dog” who is holding a small, sharpened weapon in his left hand. Though capable of causing havoc and destruction, the forces within this decan can also be powerful allies when aligned with our true path.

Thus, while the Sagittarius New Moon can facilitate swift application of targeted effort and will toward envisioned goals, we need to be mindful about the sources behind our  inspired dreams.  Are we clear that the desires we are pursuing come from our authentic self, or are they instead being shaped by the thoughts and values we have been encountering in the media, in movies, on social media, or within the social networks we interact with? Have we also taken the time to consider the full implications of what we wish to set in motion and how it can impact us and others far into the future? It will be worth taking the time needed to gain clarity, so that our imagination and effort will be focused on building the foundation of where we truly wish to call home.

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References

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

 

Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio

psyche and cerberus bertel thorvaldsen

Psyche and Cerberus (1838) by Bertel Thorvaldsen

Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio

Call me to that one among your hours / that incessantly resists you: / beseechingly near like a dog’s face, / yet ever again turned away

just when you think to grasp it. / What’s thus withdrawn is most your own. / We are free. We were dismissed / at the very place where we expected welcome.

Afraid, we yearn for some handhold, / often too young for what is ancient / and too old for what has never been.

And yet: only just when we praise, / since, ah, we are the branch and the axe / and the nectar of ripening risk.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus (Second part, 23)

On October 31 within the liminal space of twilight, with the setting Scorpio Sun descending into it’s underworld journey of night, the twinkling star of Hermes will pause to prepare for its retrograde journey backwards through the putrefying waters of Scorpio. As Mercury in its retrograde phase takes on its chthonic role of a psychopomp who guides us into and out of underworld experiences, it is fitting for its stationing to take place on the holidays for honoring and communing with ancestors and the living otherworld. Mercury is known for its dissolving and blending capacities which mediate polarities such as between the solar and lunar, the conscious and unconscious, the sacred and mundane, and so on. The dark watery climate of Scorpio will nurture and amplify the ability of Mercury retrograde to absorb atmospheric undercurrents and penetrate under the surface of dynamics to reveal what has been hidden in the root of the matter.

Although Mercury retrograde has been demonized by many, it is in fact an essential phase within the totality of Mercury’s entire solar cycle that delivers necessary messages. Rather than cursing the fate of being gripped by the cunning Hermes, it is advisable to keep an open and curious mind regarding whatever changes begin to take shape. Part of Mercury’s core purpose in astrology is to destabilize dynamics in order to loosen control, break up accumulated dross, and bring about a turning point in narrative and meaning. When Mercury is stationing retrograde, it signals that we are crossing a threshold into a passage of putrefaction and dissolution in which matters will need to be broken apart in order to bring about a process of purifying reassembly.

Mercury delights in gray areas between fixed categories of meaning, as it is a gender bending planet that moves easily between states of day and night, good and bad, reason and imagination, depending upon its surrounding influences. It is therefore pivotal that Mercury is stationing retrograde while forming a conjunction with Venus in Scorpio. The impact of Venus in Scorpio upon Mercury is complex, for while Venus brings a unifying and harmonizing influence to Mercury, their union in Scorpio means that death, decay, and decomposition will be necessary in order to fertilize and produce the fruit we can eventually savor from their conjunction. In fact, we may discover it is the difficult experiences we must persist through that ultimately brings us closer to others. As Haruki Murakami once wrote:

“One heart is not connected  to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance without a passage through acute loss. That is what lies at the root of true harmony.”

— Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage 

Mercury’s fluid nature that weaves between divergent perspectives and embraces multiplicity can be helpful in dislodging us from stuck, habitual patterns when retrograde. The more we can let go of our fixed conceptions of identity, the more that we can utilize Mercury retrograde for sifting through our many inner parts in order to reintegrate fragmented aspects of ourselves. The influence of Venus upon Mercury stationing retrograde can open receptiveness to insightful ideas to be curious about and investigate as Mercury moves retrograde in the weeks ahead. In addition, the Moon will also be inciting inspiration through forming a conjunction with Jupiter in Sagittarius as Mercury stations retrograde. Pay attention to not only the events happening around October 31 when Mercury stations, but also the signs and omens that cross your path and bring premonition regarding the liminal process you are entering. It can be a particularly powerful period to intensely focus on research applied to creative output, so notice what grabs your interest in exploring to a deeper level.

Hermes Argus Bertel Thorvaldsen


Mercury about to kill Argus (1818) by Bertel Thorvaldsen

Celestial messenger, of various skill, whose pow’rful arts could watchful Argus kill:
With winged feet, ’tis thine thro’ air to course, O friend of man, and prophet of discourse:
Great life-supporter, to rejoice is thine, in arts gymnastic, and in fraud divine:
With pow’r endu’d all language to explain, of care the loos’ner, and the source of gain.

— from the Orphic Hymn to Hermes translated by Thomas Taylor

Thine is the wand which causes sleep to fly, or lulls to slumb’rous rest the weary eye;
For Persephone thro’ Tart’rus dark and wide gave thee forever flowing souls to guide.

— from the Orphic Hymn to Chthonic Hermes translated by Thomas Taylor

Despite the unifying influence of Venus upon Mercury stationing retrograde, there will be strife and conflict to contend with since Mercury will be retrograde in a sign ruled by Mars. Moreover, Mars in Libra will be forming an intensifying square aspect with Pluto in Capricorn at the same time that Mercury stations. The square between Mars and Pluto can stoke inner drive and ambition, with a willingness to persist through obstacles or break free from constraining influences.  While Mars will be forming a harsh aspect with Pluto, however, Mercury will begin moving backward toward a harmonizing sextile aspect with Pluto once it shifts retrograde. As a result, it will be vital to listen to messages from the stationing of Mercury with regard to where we will need to alter plans to avoid unnecessary discord, versus where it will be important to lean into the difficulty and tread into uncertain ground. Mercury’s stationing can help clarify what will be worth fighting for to protect and cultivate in the weeks ahead, as well as what instead needs to be laid to rest.

Mercury retrograde under rulership of Mars wields weapons which disarm fixated viewpoints, nudging us off guard enough to deliver insight that cuts through old defense mechanisms. In myth, Mercury played the role of slayer at times, such as lulling the giant Argus to sleep in order to go in for the kill. When retrograde, the magical wand of Mercury may charm us with seeming distraction, yet eventually as we regain our bearings we can realize there was a larger purpose behind the enchantment no matter how frustrating it felt in the moment. Although Mercury retrograde in Scorpio may lead us into strife and experiences of separation, it will be worth the risk to resiliently accept and work through the difficulties in order to comprehend the message that Mercury’s sleight of hand is delivering. When it doesn’t feel possible to let go of wounds or loss, the ineffable depth of Scorpio’s waters can help dislodge feelings of grief that need to be released.

viridarium-05


from Viridarium Chymicum (1624)

Mercury’s retrograde phase occurs during the part of its orbit in which it is as close to us as possible, moving in between the orbit of our Earth and the Sun. The close proximity of Mercury intensifies its presence in mundane matters, which can be beneficial when focusing on research or writing, difficult when experiencing mental overwhelm. As Mercury shifts backwards while the Sun moves directly towards it, Mercury mutates from being a visible Evening Star into its chthonic invisible phase. Mercury will be visible in some localities as an Evening Star when it stations on October 31, but by November 4 it will definitively move into its invisible phase by getting within fifteen degrees of the Sun. As we can no longer see Mercury in the sky at this point in its cycle, Mercury symbolically takes on the role of a psychopomp guiding our soul into a liminal, underworld period of regeneration.

During the week from November 4 when Mercury disappears until November 11 when Mercury will be revivified through its conjunction with the Sun, we will experience the most intense process of putrefaction, decomposition, and release. During this week you can align with Mercury by mindfully purging whatever from the past is ready to be burned off by the fiery Sun. As Mercury gets closer and closer to the Sun during this week, it will simultaneously take on more of the hot and drying qualities of the Sun that can aid in separating us from whatever needs to be released. It can also be a powerful time of receiving imaginal inspiration that will seed ideas to nurture and work on during Mercury’s journey through darkness.

The watery landscape of Scorpio is not only a place of burial and decomposition, but also a place in which decay nourishes and feeds the growth of orchards and vineyards that can eventually produce fruit. The day after Mercury stations retrograde, Venus will enter Sagittarius on November 1 and will begin her pilgrimage to conjoin Jupiter that will occur on November 24 just after Mercury stations direct. The co-presence of Venus and Jupiter in Sagittarius during the Mercury retrograde period can be helpful in lifting vision to expansive heights whenever we feel like we are getting stuck in the quagmires of Scorpio.

It’s worth considering that while popular astrology dogma warns to not sign any contracts or begin initiatives during Mercury retrograde, it is in fact possible to sign contracts and begin enterprises that will turn out to be successful during Mercury retrograde periods. However, it is important to listen closely to your intuition, bodily senses, and synchronous signs that illuminate inner guidance.  If something about a new project or move seems off for some reason, it will be wise to investigate further before making a commitment. If all evidence points toward making a positive change in direction, there is no reason to prevent yourself from acting due to worry over Mercury being retrograde. If a decision can wait, however, clarifying insight can be received after Mercury is regenerated through its inferior conjunction with the Sun on November 11.

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Hilma af Klint (1915) The Swan, No. 10, Group IX

Mercury transit of the Sun

Will transformation. O be ravenous for the fire / in which a thing boastful with change forever eludes you; / that designing Spirit which plots earth’s flourishes, — / it loves most in the figure’s élan the moment of turning.

What shackles itself in survival already is rigidity; / does it feel itself safe in the shelter of nondescript gray? / Beware, from afar the hardest is warning the hard. / And woe–: an absent hammer is lifting!

Whoever pours forth as wellspring, Recognition greets; / and she guides him enthralled through the serene Creation / that often ends with beginning and in ending begins.

Every happy space through which they walk marveling / is child or grandchild of Separation. And the transformed Daphne, / feeling so laurel-like, wants you to change into wind.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus (Second part, 12)

Mercury will be revivified and reseeded by its chthonic conjunction with the Sun on November 11 at 18º55′ Scorpio. During its inferior conjunction Mercury becomes purified and regenerated while aligned in orbit between the Earth and Sun by zodiacal degree, as close to us in orbit as it is possible for Mercury to be. During the time that Mercury is within one degree of conjunction with the Sun, even more so while Mercury is within sixteen minutes of its solar conjunction, there will be enhanced potential to experience clarifying self-reflection and reception of key insight. Old astrological texts named this moment of Mercury’s rebirth cazimi, or being in the heart of the Sun, when Mercury is seated upon the throne of the Sun and revitalized with the creative potency of our solar light.

“The protected space at the heart of the Sun is the sanctum sanctorum, the innermost holy chamber of the mystery initiations.”

— Demetra George, Ancient Astrology

All inferior conjunctions of Mercury are not equal, however, and in fact the one on November 11 has a special quality. Due to Mercury’s union with the Sun being within a degree of the heliocentric North Node of Mercury, visually a small black form of Mercury will be able to be seen transiting across the face of the Sun during its solar alignment. This is similar to what happens during a Total Solar Eclipse in which a New Moon forms close to one of the Moon’s nodes, but the difference is that Mercury is visually too small from our perspective to eclipse the light of the Sun in blackness. This means Mercury will literally be in the heart of the Sun, making it an intensified rebirth for Mercury befitting its placement in Scorpio.

Make sure to create space for inner contemplation on November 11, for Mercury’s transit of the Sun only happens thirteen or fourteen times a century. The last time there was a Mercury transit of the Sun was in May 2016 with Mercury retrograde in Taurus conjoining the heliocentric south node of Mercury. It will not happen again until November 2032. Mercury’s chthonic cazimi aligning with its North Node will amplify penetration into inner depths to discover self realization of material that had been hidden from our awareness. Whatever inner space was cleared through emptying and shedding during the first half of Mercury’s retrograde can now be seeded with new ideas and desires to nurture in the forthcoming cycle of Mercury. Adding to the potency, Mercury will be entering its own Egyptian bounds as it enters the heart of the Sun, giving Mercury greater capacity to redirect insight into material manifestation.

Furthermore, there will also be an underlying influence of Uranus in Taurus on Mercury’s rebirth, as the waxing gibbous Moon in Taurus will be conjoining Uranus as Mercury forms its inferior conjunction with the Sun on November 11. This is especially significant since Mercury stationed retrograde in Scorpio on October 31 in the week following a New Moon in Scorpio that was opposite Uranus. The effect of Uranus on Mercury’s solar conjunction can incite unexpected events and revelations which lead to dramatic changes as the Full Moon in Taurus brings further illumination on November 12. The impact of Uranus can also manifest through forging deeper connection with allies and collaborators who share similar passions and interest in forming supportive communities, whether in person or through long distance technology.

hilm af klint group VI evolution


Hilma af Klint (1908) Group VI, Evolution, No. 9

Morning Star of Hermes

Behold the flowers, those true to the earthly, / to whom we lend fate from the edge of fate,– / yet who can say? If they regret their fading, / it is for us to be their regret.

Everything wants to float. And yet we move about like weights, / attaching ourselves to everything, in thrall to gravity; / O what wearisome teachers we are for things, / while in them eternal childhood prospers.

If someone were to take them into his inmost sleep / and sleep deeply with them–: O how light he’d emerge, / changed, to a changed day, from the mutual depth.

Or perhaps he’d stay; and they’d bloom and praise him, / the convert, become now like one of their own, / all the quiet brothers and sisters in the meadow’s wind.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus (Second part, 14)

From the Full Moon in Taurus on November 12 until Mercury stations direct on November 20 at 11º55′ Scorpio, Mercury will move retrograde through its final phase of invisible darkness. During this week Mercury retrograde will form a harmonizing sextile with Saturn in Capricorn on November 13 and a flowing trine with Neptune in Pisces later on the same day. Moreover, at the end of November after Mercury stations direct and is visible again, Mercury will complete an additional trine with Neptune and sextile with Saturn. As a result, in the afterglow of the Full Moon in Taurus make space and time to imaginatively explore the insights and ideas seeded during Mercury’s chthonic cazimi to the fullest extent possible, without worry of making them fully manifest until Mercury returns to visible light. Mercury retrograde in Scorpio this year bears the gift of providing not only the imaginal support of Neptune, but the tempering and practicality of Saturn in Capricorn that will help facilitate finding ways to transfigure imaginative vision into tangible forms that can meet the needs of others in your wider community.

Mercury will finally return to visible light again as a Morning Star at the same time it stations direct on November 20. As Mercury undergoes a process of recovery from its retrograde motion, it will gain an added dose of vitality from the entrance of Mars into its watery home of Scorpio on November 19. Mars at the beginning of Scorpio is in a place of extreme strength as it is in its own home, bounds, and triplicity. It’s co-presence with Mercury stationing direct will supply ample fuel to begin moving forward with implementation of the ideas developed during Mercury’s twenty day journey retrograde. Just as it is important to pay close attention to Mercury when stationing retrograde, so it as well extremely important to be mindful when Mercury stations direct in order to receive necessary guidance.

In addition to the ingress of Mars into Scorpio brining an extra charge of resilient determination into the stationing of Mercury direct, Venus will be applying to a conjunction with Jupiter in Sagittarius and providing a fount of providential inspiration. Venus will complete its exact conjunction with Jupiter on November 24 as Mercury is finally beginning to move forward again. If you have become motivated to make dramatic changes during Mercury’s retrograde motion that also makes you fearful due to the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of following through, the union of Venus and Jupiter will provide uplifting support for taking the risk to break free from whatever restrictive influences have been holding you back. As Mercury returns to visible light in the pre-dawn sky, so may we experience ignition of an inner fire to strike out in pursuit of revivified passion and desire.

Copper alloy sculpture from Sumer (ca 3000 BC) of figure with ibex horns and raptor wings

The final phase of the Mercury retrograde process begins as Mercury reaches maximum elongation as a Morning Star, which will occur about eight days after Mercury stations direct this time around. The threshold of Mercury reaching maximum elongation as a Morning Star demarcates the stage at which Mercury returns to matching the speed of the Sun and then shifts into moving faster than the Sun as it continues to travel through its Morning Star phase. Gary Caton in his book Hermetica Triptycha compared this phase of Mercury with the rubedo stage in alchemy (Caton also compared the opening stage of Mercury retrograde to the nigredo stage, and the time following the inferior conjunction to the albedo stage of alchemy). As we work to integrate the insights and changes in perspective realized during Mercury’s retrograde journey, Caton noted that we should expect to endure a phase of chaotic volatility as we make the shift into a new way of being as Mercury picks up speed and moves through its Morning Star phase.

Mercury will reach maximum elongation as a Morning Star on November 28 at seventeen degrees of Scorpio, at the same time that Neptune is stationing direct on November 27 in an exact trine aspect with Mercury. Furthermore, Mercury will reach maximum elongation as a Morning Star at the same time that it will form its third and final sextile aspect (since the middle of October) with Saturn in Capricorn on November 29. A few days later, Mercury will complete its third and final harmonizing sextile aspect with Pluto in Capricorn on December 2, the same day that Jupiter leaves its fiery home of Sagittarius in order to enter its fall in Capricorn. Finally, Mercury will leave its retrograde shadow zone and pass through the same degree where it originally stationed retrograde on December 7.

As a result, Mercury will be engaging with supportive aspects from Saturn, Neptune, and Pluto as it picks up speed and heralds the rise of the Sun with its morning light. The beginning of 2020 will be dominated astrologically by the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto on January 12, and so Mercury will be in position to help with attuning and adjusting to the larger changes in collective structures taking place. More importantly, Mercury will also be supportive in melding imaginative vision with the disciplined determination needed to fully manifest creative expression into forms that can offer solace and support to others in need of what we have to offer. As the coming astrology of 2020 suggests monumental, tectonic shifts in collective events are on the way, it will be up to each and everyone of us to claim the responsibility to do our part in cultivating our skills and talents to share with others in mutual support.

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Scorpio New Moon

beau-v-tree-branch-cloud

photograph by Beau Vandendolder (2016 all rights reserved)

New Moon in Scorpio

Just feeling human
the way a cloud’s a cloud
tinged with blue or
walking slow across the sky or
hastening,
but not a Thursday cloud
formed for the anxious glance of Thursday people,
simply a cloud, whose particles
may fall Tuesday, just as well,
on anyone’s spring hair, on any
taciturn winter buds it chooses
and no one say no. Human,
free for the day from roles assigned,
each with its emblem
cluttering the right hand,
scroll of words in the left.
Human, a kind of element, a fire,
an air, today.
Floating up to you I enter, or you
enter me. Or imagine
a house without doors,
open to sun or snowdrifts.

— Denise Levertov, “Today” from To Stay Alive 

Water flows inexorably and like our desires will dissolve blockages in the currents of its path.  Scorpio like all water signs in astrology is inwardly directed, magnetic, receptive, and capable of allowing life and events to take shape according to natural cycles instead of focusing upon speeding up the timing.  The watery nature of Scorpio symbolizes its capacity to tap deeply into the psychic and emotional content of its environment, as well as its ability to merge and transmute with external relationships and sources of power.  Scorpio is distinct among the water signs, however, in its fixated nature and its association with the heated, aggressive, divisive, and willful force of Mars.  The apparent paradox of a cold and wet sign such as Scorpio being home to Mars, a planet whose temperament in astrology is considered to be excessively hot and dry, becomes clear when contemplating concepts such as yin and yang.  There is a line in Zhāng Jièbīn’s Lèi Jīng which can be translated as the generation of qì inside water is precisely true fire.  This relates to what we can also find in the symbolism of the yin and yang image, in which yang is found within yin, just as yin is found within yang.  Scorpio as the nocturnal home of the nocturnal planet Mars in astrology signifies the deep essence of our fiery nature we can discover within.

Astrologers have written excessively about the symbolic resonance of Scorpio with the season of Fall, and while this association with the depth and fertile darkness of Scorpio fits, the issue remains that in the Southern hemisphere the season of Scorpio is at the fullness of Spring.  The important concept here is that Scorpio is a fixed sign, meaning that it supports stabilization, even if the stability of the Scorpion differs from mainstream conceptions of being stable.  The seasons of Spring and Fall are extremes of life and bloom, death and decay, that we experience in between the season of equinox and the season of solstice.  Although these seasons are associated with the “Fixed” signs, they are temporary and transitory like all of the changing nature of our material world and we must witness their loss and passing like everything else.  The persistent, persevering nature of Scorpio and its ability to penetrate into the emotional and psychic undercurrents of its circumstances is one of the sign’s greatest strengths.  However, its fixed nature is the source of the Scorpion’s shadow we are familiar with, in that fear of losing the source of one’s desire leads to controlling behavior that can ultimately drain the vitality out of their connection.  The lesson we experience in Scorpio is in letting go and having a healthy level of non-attachment with our desires. This does not mean being detached, but rather embodying the intimacy of Scorpio without the fixated obsession of manipulating the object of one’s desires.

The Scorpio New Moon on 30 October 2016 is conjoining Mercury while in trine to Neptune in Pisces.  It’s ruling planet Mars is exalted in Capricorn and separating from a square with Uranus.  Significantly, in the past lunation cycle Mars moved away from a conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn and then formed a last quarter square to Uranus in Aries.  During this period Mars has been out of bounds by declination, and in fact has been out of bounds since August 2016.  Mars out of bounds is wilder and more rebellious, which dramatically exacerbated the catalytic square between Mars and Uranus that occurred in the Dark Moon preceding the New Moon.  At the time of the New Moon in Scorpio, however, Mars is finally at the threshold of leaving its out of bounds status.  The Scorpio New Moon supports accessing ambition from within that has been limited by past restrictive patterns of thought and emotion.  Any recent jarring, explosive experiences can be used to untether us from how we have held ourselves back.  The desires emerging with the Scorpio New Moon call for nurturing and cultivation, and allowing ourselves to be guided by unleashed instincts and impulses.

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Photograph by Beau Vandendolder (2016, all rights reserved)

The trine between the Scorpio New Moon and Neptune in Pisces gives emphasis to the imaginal realm of Neptune that has been in harsh aspect to the hard reality of Saturn in Sagittarius over the past year.  The darkness of the Scorpio New Moon invites allowing dissolution to occur while opening to the feelings emerging from within.  Neptune in Pisces is conjoining the South Node of the Moon in Pisces, and will become increasingly close to the South Node of the Moon over the course of the next month.  In the collective unconscious there has been old conditioning beliefs and dreams exposed that the luminaries uniting in Scorpio can cleanse, and as we purify ourselves from the corruption of external conditioning misaligned with our authenticity, the resilient fecundity of Scorpio can aid in realigning with distilled essentiality.

The Scorpio New Moon supports nurturing belief that our cherished dreams and visions are possible to manifest, no matter how many wounds and barriers we have struggled through over the past year of the square between Saturn and Neptune.  With Mars in Capricorn finally emerging from its recent contacts with Pluto and Uranus, there is activated drive and will force available to inject into building the ideal life we wish to live step by step, action by action.  Unfortunately in our global collective, the wildness of Mars empowered in Capricorn and triggered by Pluto and Uranus has coincided with horrific destruction, violence and warfare in world events, leading many to experience a dark night of the soul.   Nonetheless, we can draw from the potency of Mars in the final decan of Capricorn to persist with determination on our own path, utilizing the mutable placement of Saturn in Sagittarius to shift and mutate structures as needed to accommodate the unavoidable change happening.

beau-v-tree-branch-stretch-river

photograph by Beau Vandendolder (2016, all rights reserved)

The transiting North Node of the Moon in Virgo forms a sextile with the Scorpio New Moon, signifying an ability to discern purified choices resonant with our arising vision of meaning.  The North Node of the Moon is further bound to the Scorpio New Moon through its ruler Mercury forming a sextile to the North Node and a conjunction with the New Moon.  Mercury in Scorpio is at beginning of its synodic cycle with the Sun at the New Moon, and further in trine to Neptune and the South Node of the Moon in Pisces. There is a deep presence to be found within the volatility of Mercury, and though it may feel difficult to articulate the full extent of our perceptions it will be worthwhile to make space to descend into internal streams of sensations that may only be able to be transmitted through nonverbal and extrasensory mediums.  As the Moon waxes toward the Full Moon in Taurus that will arrive on 14 November, Mercury will remain invisible from the sky as it swiftly moves through the entirety of Scorpio, capable of soaking up and translating the emotional undercurrents surrounding us.

beau-v-fall-tree

photograph by Beau Vandendolder (2016, all rights reserved)

And virtue? Virtue lies in the heroic response to the creative wonder, the utmost response.

— D.H. Lawrence

Although not in actual aspect to the lunation itself, one of the most powerful elements of the Scorpio New Moon is the new phase conjunction between Venus and Saturn in Sagittarius (the last conjunction of Venus with Saturn was on 8 January 2016 at 12 degrees of Sagittarius).  Venus combined with Saturn pulls us into the bare bones of reality and demands we become serious and committed to developing the foundational supports for the vision of what will bring us pleasure and a sense of harmony.  Saturn and Venus together is also about allowing to decay and putrefy whatever needs to now become decomposed to allow for change and new birth.  In his essay on Saturn entitled On Senex Consciousness, James Hillman in his typically verbose style illuminated numerous connections between Kronos-Saturn and Aphrodite-Venus, such as Saturn’s link to fertility and agriculture, prosperity and materialism being a feminine mirror to the earthiness of goddesses.  Hillman also connected the Saturnine trials that result from Venusian affairs, and the difficult feelings that can come from a meeting between Saturn and Venus:

The hidden connection between falling-in-love with the dazzling seduction of foam-borne Aphrodite and the seed and scythe of old senex is not easy to discern.  But how else account for the terrible cruelties, the vicious eat-or-be-eaten fights that break out of the most translucently lovely love affairs?  And, when Venus departs, Saturn returns with brooding melancholy, devastating loneliness feelings of ugliness- even psychic crippling or suicide.

— James Hillman, On Senex Consciousness

The new phase between Saturn and Venus beginning at the time of the Scorpio New Moon is not about debilitating cycles of feelings and thoughts, but rather is about taking complete accountability for one’s presence within one’s myriad relationships in the world.    Saturn together with Venus points to the karmic effects of feeling drawn toward and deciding to commit to a desired person or outside source.  By choosing one to focus upon, there is a resulting detachment or rejection of others necessitated by our decision to commit exclusively.  The Scorpio New Moon asks us to choose wisely, to align and merge with those most capable of receiving and understanding us, deciding to collaborate with those most able to support us with interdependent and balanced equality.  Saturn and Venus want us to seize life and create opportunities for peak experiences whose impact will continue to reverberate within.  Saturn is containing a volatile Venus, as Venus will have recently crossed the threshold into being out of bounds by declination at the New Moon.  The wild side of Venus will be further amplified by it forming a trine to Uranus as the Moon waxes in light, remaining as a rebellious out of bounds planet all the way through the upcoming lunation cycle.

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5 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Scorpio 1 Decan

The first face of Scorpio holding the New Moon is associated with the Five of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. The image appears desolate at first glance, with a figure full of despair staring with fixation upon three spilled, empty chalices on the ground. However, upon closer look we notice that there are still two upright chalices behind the figure, suggesting hope.  In fact, the two remaining cups could be deeply fulfilling despite the grief over losing the other three cups. We can also notice a river flowing underneath a bridge behind the figure, bringing in the ancient 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. As a result, this card 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 death and the loss of what we desire most in the world.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces synthesized the images found in ancient text associated with this face around the repeating cycle of desire, including consuming hunger, the satiation of desire, the loss of what one desires, and the competition and violence that surrounds pursuing the desired. Coppock concluded:

In this decan we are brought to confront the cycle of hungers which are the price and pleasure of incarnate being. The object of desire always skirts the edges of this face while its inhabitants give chase. Some gain the object of their desire, some fail. All come to know hunger again. Though this may seem a particularly tortured decan, it is merely one which exposes a hard truth. Confronting the cycle, we are less bound to it, and less blind, than if we ignore it.

— Austin Coppock, 36 Faces, p. 176

Mars rules the first face of Scorpio, and since Mars is in the third decan of Capricorn ruled by the Sun, while the Sun is in the first decan of Scorpio ruled by Mars, there is mutual reception through decan between the Sun and Mars at the Scorpio New Moon.  This brings more of a connection between the Scorpio New Moon with the square formed by Mars in Capricorn with Uranus in Aries.  While a square between Mars and Uranus can bring unexpected, shocking loss, it can also spark incredible individuating growth through the toil of adversity.   Mars in hard aspect to Uranus can also bring revelation into the cycle of desires we have been circulating.  Through facing our desires fully without denial, we develop awareness for which desires to continue pursuing and which desires are not in our best interest to regenerate.  The Scorpio New Moon beckons the release of attachment to whatever desires are not manifesting in our life in the moment, while embracing all elements of our actual reality with full presence and passion.

References

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

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

Hillman, James. (1970). On Senex Consciousness. Spring: An Annual of Archetypal Psychology and Jungian Thought.

Wilms, Sabine. (2016). Randomn Thoughts on “Water is Yin, Fire is Yang.”  Happy Goat Productions.