Interview on Mercury & Gemini

hermaphrodite from rosarium philosophorum

from Rosarium Philosophorum

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

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

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

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

Click the player below just to play the show:

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Mercury Retrograde in Gemini

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini Dream Shifting

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

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

The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.

The true meaning, ready to be decoded.

What never added up will add up,

What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.

−And if there is no lining to the world?

If a thrush on a branch is not a sign,

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

Make no sense following each other?

And on this earth there is nothing except this earth?

−Even if that is so, there will remain

A word wakened by lips that perish,

A tireless messenger who runs and runs

Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies,

And calls out, protests, screams.

Czeslaw Milosz (1991) MEANING

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini

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

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

–from the Homeric Hymn to Hermes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini passage

Two Trees (1875) by Odilon Redon

When I ran barefoot in our gardens by the river Niewiaza

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

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

A Presence resided, I didn’t know whose.

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

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

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

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

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

As if rising within one enormous unknowable Being.

Czeslaw Milosz (2002) PRESENCE 

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

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

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

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

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

–from the Homeric Hymn to Hermes

Mercury Retrograde Inferior Conjunction

Vision (1883) by Odilon Redon

That boundless substance,

different, in any case, from

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

the underwater gambols of sperm whales.

In dreams I saw cities of gas and metal,

unceasing fabric of the mind.

Music of the spheres, music of violins and flutes.

That, which endures,

while they are born and die.

Higher than the blind energies of matter,

higher than currents running in the body

of eel, piranha, shark, so they may open

their jaws and devour their catch.

A temple full of little gods and demons,

with a vast number of nicknames and tails.

Czeslaw Milosz (2003)

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

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

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

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

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

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini stationing direct

Germination by Odilon Redon (1890-96)

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

Czeslaw Milosz (1981-1983)

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

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

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

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

MercuryStationRetroWRIGC2A

MercuryInferiorConjunctWRIGC1A

MercuryStationDirectWRIGC3

References

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

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

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

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

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

moonrise

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

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

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

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

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

MercuryRetroStationWRIGC7

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

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

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

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

black-in-deep-red-1957

Black in Deep Red (1957) by Mark Rothko

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

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

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

Mercury-SunconjunctionWRIGC8

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

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

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

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Moon Woman (1942) by Jackson Pollock

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

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

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

MercuryDirectStationWRIGC9

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

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

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

References

Demetra George:  Hermes Guardian of Thresholds

Mystery of Stillness

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The Chrysopoeia of Cleopatra, 2nd Century Alexandria: “One is the All”

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— e.e. cummings

In the last few days our Moon has eclipsed Mercury, Venus, the Sun, and Saturn in order.  Writing in the Pacific Northwest of the United States of America, I am looking through a window upon the Japanese Maple in my front yard releasing its flaming red astral leaves in the wind. A stormy gale is blowing through the tall trees and evergreens in view, with intermittent showers of rain descending upon the soaring crows, broken up at times by a white cloud break of sky blue.  Similar to a reflective response to today’s tumultuous weather, there is not much more we can do to prepare for eclipse season than to center in our being within the field of chaos and change.  While we are still in range of eclipse aftershocks, the eclipses of this season are now finished until the next equinox (there will be a solar eclipse on March 20, 2015).   If we can create a sacred or womb like sphere of contemplation, insight is beckoning discovery.

Although this recent solar eclipse was partial and not full, the fact that Venus was also involved in the eclipse in the same period of the superior conjunction of Venus with the Sun, with Mercury simultaneously stationing direct in the sign of Venus, means that the ripples of this time will have far reaching effect.  The superior conjunction of Venus and the Sun happens when Venus is moving direct, on the other side of the Sun from our home planet, uniting in the same degree of the zodiac as the Sun and beginning a new cycle that will lead to Venus arising nightly as an evening star.  In the thirty or so days before and after this moment, Venus disappears from our view in the sky under the rays of the Sun, and so the superior conjunction is a sort of wintery solstice moment in the sense of promising a return of her light.  Archetypal and mythic astrologers are especially prone to link the cycle of Venus with underworld goddess myths such as the story of Inanna and Ishtar, and Her descent to the underworld to face Ereshkigal, the Great Goddess in the land under the earth, the land of the dead.  From this perspective the superior conjunction of Venus is a pivotal moment of soul searching and regeneration in her cycle.

However, I feel a key to tune into is Mercury, our winged angel at the threshold, our soul guide in between boundaries of the upper and underworld, as Mercury from our perspective on Earth is as still as it ever gets, stationing to move forward again.  If you remember, Mercury originally stationed retrograde conjunct the point of the Solar Eclipse and the superior conjunction of Venus on October 4, 2014.  Now, it has completed its retrograde and stationed direct conjunct the North Node of the Moon, and opposite Uranus and the South Node of the Moon.  Corresponding with Dane Rudhyar’s description of Mercury as the weaver of patterns of relationship, commingling meaning out of commerce with the multitude of information sources accessible to our perception, we have a unique moment now to cut through our awareness of past patterns of relationship in order to weave together new patterns of relationship connected with our future, ever changing sense of self.

Mercury stationing direct is not always interpreted as being the most “razor sharp” moment of thought and consciousness, yet I feel that has to do with your perspective on consciousness.  Mercury stationing direct is similar in my mind to waking consciousness, when we emerge from our dream world into an awakened world, yet we are still connected to our time in dreams and we may have moments of not knowing what is dream and what is waking.  At this time we are beyond the duality, we are both at once, and each is all of our awareness.  Yet far from fogginess, we may receive a startling comprehension as described by William Blake: “Knowledge is not by deduction but Immediate by Perception or Sense at once . . . Forms must be apprehended by Sense or the Eye of Imagination.”  The more we open to this sense of Blake’s that “Man is All Imagination,” the more Mercurial knowledge into our deep nature will be revealed in line with Blake’s understanding that “The Imagination is not a State: it is the Human Existence itself”  (Damrosch, p. 14 – 16).

MercuryDirectWRIGC1

Mercury stationing direct now is fortuitous as it will allow for greater integration of the recent lunar eclipse in Aries, and the solar eclipse in Scorpio.  My understanding of eclipses is heavily influenced by Demetra George’s workbook Finding Our Way Through The Dark as she succinctly crystallized an essential message regarding eclipses through the lens of two intellectual figures I admire, Carl Jung and Dane Rudhyar:

In general, eclipses are said to be negative, but this is a misunderstanding of the shadow function. In both solar and lunar eclipses, the light of either the Sun or Moon is obstructed from reaching the Earth. When the light of consciousness is temporarily blocked, something else is revealed- that which is normally hidden. Called windows into secret realms and open doorways into the subconscious, eclipses allow us to access that which has been concealed or repressed in our lives. Eclipses are said to be karmic in nature, because they relate to issues that lie outside of our consciousness.

If we are out of touch with this hidden material which Carl Jung calls “the shadow,” then we may judge it as bad and destructive. We are shocked because this material seems to come out of nowhere, when in fact it was with us all along. To the extent that we have tried to repress the shadow material, we will call the results of the eclipse disastrous.  But to the extent that we are open to the unconscious and the surfacing of hidden problems, we will experience the emergence of this material as neutral, revelatory or healing.

Dane Rudhyar said that at the New Moon solar eclipse, the present is blotted out by the past, while at the Full Moon lunar eclipse, the past is obscured by the present. This statement suggests that at a solar eclipse, the Sun- which represent our consciousness awareness- when obscured, allows the forces of the past which lie buried in the unconscious as psychic complexes, to be seen, confronted, and experienced with the possibility of integrating these previously unconscious energies into the present awareness. During a lunar eclipse, it is the past, symbolized by the Moon, which is obscured and can be released.  In the absence of the conditioning of the past, the possibility emerges of meeting experiences in a new manner.

Of further importance is the fact that the Sun in these last two eclipses was conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Libra, suggesting forward drive through the chaos toward our desire, and a stirring up of new ways to approach future-oriented growth.  Mars also ruled both eclipses, from the perspective that the Moon was in Aries in the lunar eclipse and the Sun and Moon were in Scorpio during the solar eclipse: another sign of desire compelling our will forward.  Since the lunar eclipse was in the cardinal sign of Aries and conjunct Uranus, it may have had more of an immediate impact on our perception through a dislodging of past patterns to be released.  In contrast, the partial solar eclipse occurring at the very beginning of the fixed sign of Scorpio may not have made such an instantaneous effect in your life, unless the beginning degrees of Scorpio make significant aspects in your natal chart.   However, the deep, fixed nature of Scorpio, as well as the additional power of Venus and Mercury in association, means that the solar eclipse could have sweeping, extended, and drawn out repercussions.

Again, Mercury is an important focus as it has stationed direct more tightly conjunct the North Node of the Moon than the solar eclipse, closely opposite Uranus and the South Node of the Moon in Aries.  Fascinatingly, the Moon eclipsed Saturn in Scorpio at the same time Mercury stationed direct, symbolically opening the gates of Saturn to the Uranian, transpersonal vision of the outer planetary bodies.  Many astrologers believe that Uranus is a higher octave to Mercury, and in this moment of Mercury stationing direct opposite Uranus, there can be no argument that Mercury in Libra is actively receptive to Uranus and weaving new patterns of inter-relationship that go beyond our usual conditioning of culture and Saturnine boundaries.  Mercury can be our guide, but Mercury can also serve us and other components of astrology like Jupiter- the consciousness we apply to Mercury, the way we look through Mercury at our world matters.  If we are wrapped up in fear now, we may weave together new ways to be afraid; if we are overcome by greed and motivation for greater status, we may weave together new ways of manipulating other people to serve our own benefit.

Moreover, since Pluto in Capricorn is also in square to Mercury in Libra, meaning that there is a t-square between Pluto in Capricorn, Uranus with the South Node of the Moon in Aries, and Mercury with the North Node of the Moon in Libra, the full effect of all of this on us can be cathartic and shattering.  The more we claim this moment to go deeper into our nature if we have already been soul searching, or choose to engage in a new pattern that is more about our Self than our fears or compensation for our insecurity like greed, the more we will participate in the active change serving the higher good that is possible in the collective now.  Unfortunately, since many people are not doing this hard work of Self, these same astrology aspects going forward could correspond with continued and increasing warfare, violence, and oppression in our collective consciousness.

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Chrysopoea of Cleopatra

Venus was also part of the Scorpio solar eclipse, though not part of the visual phenomenon as she was on the other side of the Sun from the Moon and already invisible.  However, since Venus recently was conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Libra as well as Mercury retrograde in Libra, Venus beginning a new cycle through the heart of the Sun holds a new relationship we can have with our future development that at the same time involves confronting our past patterns of relating.  We may be reminded of a past relationship behavior, we may be triggered by something that has more to do with an old relation than our present heart and mind, but in any case these associations with our previous values and ways of relating are here to reveal to us that we can release what has held us back in the past:  we are not stuck or incapable of change and evolution.

As previously mentioned, the Venus superior conjunction at the beginning of Scorpio is also a strong link to the underworld goddess myths and tests of diverse cultures, bringing a sense of the heroine’s journey and the need to answer the call. Yet Venus is known to be in detriment in Scorpio traditionally in astrology, and Venus being eclipsed by the Moon in Scorpio shortly before her superior conjunction has an added dimension that the Moon is considered to be in its fall in Scorpio.  Piercing through these labels, the lessons we may find here revolve around our deepest, core, unconscious feelings and values, emotions that may feel unsettling to unearth from our psyche.  Give yourself at least a month of focused intent to burn off the past issues or karma that no longer serve you.  In thirty days or so, at the end of November, Venus will arise again with her brilliant white light, illuminating our evening sky momentarily at first, staying with us longer in the evening hours each successive day.

From the perspective of declination in astrology, what is even more amazing about the end of November will be that at the time Venus arises again as an evening star, she will be united with Mars in declination, barely within the bounds of the Tropic of Capricorn.  In this same period Venus in Sagittarius will be in a Grand Fire Trine with Jupiter in Leo and Uranus in Aries, more closely in trine with Uranus.  On an archetypal level, this could be a time of integration between masculine and feminine energies within, our receptive magnetism and active energy, the Jungian concepts of the animus and the anima.  It also makes me think of the Axiom of Maria concept from alchemy that Carl Jung took into his concept of individuation, that out of the One (unconscious wholeness) comes Two (conflict of opposites), Two becomes Three (transcendent resolution), and the Third becomes the One as the Fourth (transformed, whole consciousness).  This process represents the idea of all the unconscious energy that has become stimulated now eventually leading us into a more fully realized individual consciousness:  just remember it is a process that takes time.

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“Stars and dec” by Tfr000 (talk) 16:58, 13 June 2012 (UTC) – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-via Wikimedia Commons

In case you do not understand the concept of declination illustrated flatly above, in declination we pay attention to the location of celestial objects within the relationship between the Earth’s equator and the ecliptic, the apparent motion of the Sun on our celestial sphere.  The high and low points shown in the red ecliptic line on the above graphic are important, as they are the Tropic of Cancer to the north and the  Tropic of Capricorn to the south.  The Tropic of Cancer is 23º26′ north of the equator, and the place of the Sun at the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere that occurs in June.  Similarly, the Tropic of Capricorn is 23º26′ south of the equator, and the place of the Sun at the Summer Solstice in the Souther Hemisphere that occurs in December.  Using Mars as an example, if Mars goes further than 23°26′ north or south of the equator it would mean that Mars is “out of bounds” or in extreme declination.  This gives a wild, maverick, independent streak to whatever celestial object is out of bounds, essentially meaning that the associated archetype is going to be its own ruler, think for itself, and go after what it wants.

Since the beginning of October 2014, Mars has been in extreme declination, meaning that the wild bounding nature of the centaur associated with Mars being in Sagittarius has been even more intense, further adding a wild personal will into the Grand Fire Trine that happened between Mars in Sagittarius, Jupiter in Leo, and Uranus in Aries.  Mars reached its peak extreme in declination at about the same time as the solar eclipse in Scorpio, and current events in North America revealed the shadow side of the aggressive red planet out of bounds:  the shooting at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, another attempt to jump the fence at the White House in Washington D.C. (this one taken down by security dogs), and a horrific shooting at a high school in Marysville, Washington that ended in suicide.  Yet the other side to this out of bounds Mars is an out-of-the-box sense of will, power, and desire that is essentially out-of-this-galaxy, as Mars at the end of Sagittarius has been conjunct our Galactic Center.  In combination with Mercury stationing direct opposite Uranus and conjunct the North Node of the Moon, this could be difficult chaos or liberating illumination depending upon how you respond or in what environment you enter.

During this time of Mars in extreme declination, as well as its time in the Grand Fire Trine, Mars has been in a balsamic or dark phase with Pluto in Capricorn.  And now we enter a period in which Mars enters the sign of Capricorn, the sign of its exaltation, in order to conjunct Pluto on November 10, 2014 and begin a new cycle.  As a result, we are currently at the close of a Mars and Pluto cycle that began at the end of November in 2012, and so a dissolution of our deep soul desires that have arisen in the past two years.  In Pluto Volume II:  The Soul’s Evolution through Relationships, Jeffrey Wolf Green wrote the following about the balsamic semi-sextile aspect between Mars and Pluto that we entered around the time that Mars went out of bounds:

Some individuals will experience this as a sense of meaninglessness and emptiness, and will manifest a diffuse or undefined personal identity or purpose . . . The key is to let go of the past and to allow new patterns, ideas and impulses to enter the consciousness of their own accord.  Approached in this way, these new thoughts, ideas, and impulses become the light that illuminates the path to the individual’s future.

Continuing the amazing 2014 theme of Mars and Venus, when Mars conjuncts Pluto in Capricorn on November 10, Venus will be approaching a conjunction with Saturn in Scorpio.  From now until then, coming out of the insights gained from the eclipses and Mercury stationing, become as clear as possible about the future life you want to live and do the hard inner work to clear whatever obstacles are getting in your way of pursuing your desired life.  As Neptune in Pisces will also be stationing direct in mid November, it could be a great time to set a powerful intention for a new beginning.

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page 54 in Carl Jung’s Liber Novus

On page 54 of his Liber Novus, Carl Jung illustrated the above image with the translated words:

Amen, you are the lord of the beginning.

Amen, you are the star of the East.

Amen, you are the flower that blooms over everything.

Amen, you are the deer that breaks out of the forest.

Amen, you are the song that sounds far over the water.

Amen, you are the beginning and the end.

In The Red Book: Liber Novus, Carl Jung in a section labeled “Refinding Soul” recounted the impact of his vision of a flood in October 1913 when he was thirty-eight years old.  At this time, Jung said “I had achieved everything that I had wished for myself. I had achieved honor, power, wealth, knowledge, and every human happiness. Then my desire for the increase of these trappings ceased, the desire ebbed from me and horror came over me” (p. 232).  Jung went on to describe his “unbearable inner longing” in his search for his soul that included the following passage:

He whose desire turns away from outer things, reaches the place of the soul.  If he does not find the soul, the horror of emptiness will overcome him, and fear will drive him with a whip lashing time and again in a desperate endeavor and a blind desire for the hollow things of the world.  He becomes a fool through his endless desire, and forgets the way of his soul, never to find her again. He will run after all things, and will seize hold of them, but he will not find his soul, since he would find her only in himself. Truly his soul lies in things and men, but the blind one seizes things and men, yet not his soul in things and men.  He has no knowledge of his soul.  How could he tell her apart from things and men?  He could find his soul in desire itself, but not in the objects of desire.  If he possessed his desire, and his desire did not possess him, he would lay a hand on his soul, since his desire is the image and expression of his soul.

–Carl Jung

References

Damrosch, Leopold. (1980). Symbol and Truth in Blake’s Myth. Princeton University Press.

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

Green, Jeff. (2009). Pluto Volume II: The Soul’s Evolution through Relationships. Wessex.

Jung, Carl. (2009). The Red Book: Liber Novus. Edited by Sonu Shamdasani. Norton.

Maat in the Heart of Mercury

Maat

Maat

The Inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun on October 16, 2014 is in the sign of Libra and conjunct Venus, evoking Maat through the added atmosphere of the Goddess (Venus) and the Scales (Libra) of Balance, Law, and Justice.  In Egyptian mythology, the god Thoth is associated with Mercury, and Maat is the goddess corresponding to Thoth, the beloved daughter of the sun god Ra who undertook the work of creation along with Thoth.  There were only two deities who stood on either side of the boat of Ra:  Thoth and Maat, and Maat’s presence was intrinsic to the daily regeneration of Ra, the Sun.  Maat wore an ostrich feather in her hair, the feather a symbol of “maat,” an ineffable word that had associations with genuineness, authenticity, truth, and being “real.”  This being a time of Mercury retrograde, and Mercury being the trickster transgressor of boundaries, we also want to be aware of how the additional link between Maat and concepts like righteousness and unalterable morality can trick us at times into thinking that we are in the right, when in actuality we have not deeply explored ourselves to the necessary extent to truly understand our truth.

The inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun is a magic moment of soul, and the center of the Mercury retrograde cycle we are experiencing from Scorpio to Libra and back to Scorpio again.  This “inferior” conjunction of Mercury is like an “interior” alignment of Mercury with the Sun from our perspective on Earth, as Mercury appears to move in reverse into the Sun in between our orbit and the great light of our solar system. This is a moment in which Hermes transmits a message from Spirit to us, as Mercury’s orbit is much closer to the Sun than our orbit on Earth.  We can center at this time as we release old thought patterns, making space for the arising new vision of our life.  This can be a disorienting time, so the symbol of Mercury being in Libra at this time is an apt guide, as we will want to find our focal point of balance in the flow around us.  This is a point of conception to generate what we will birth from our minds in the forthcoming cycle, and we want to keep in mind that Mercury at this point in its retrograde cycle is inwardly directed and more subjectively susceptible to sensing the symbols surrounding us than at other times.  As Venus in Libra and Mercury in Libra are moving toward one another, only a couple degrees apart at the time of the inferior conjunction, reaching their own conjunction a day later, this is also an opportune time to center within our authentic values, releasing what is false in order to embrace our burgeoning truth.

Maat was involved in the judgment of souls, the weighing of hearts at the time of death, as the hearts of the dead were placed on a scale to be balanced with the feather of Maat.  The goal was to have Maat in your heart, to balance the scales and reveal that your voice was true, genuine, and justified.  Now is the time to go within our unconscious, our dream time, our place of centering, so that we can re-emerge into the bustling world from a more authentic place, acting from and speaking our truth.

4 of Swords

IV of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

The inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun will be in the Libra III decan, a decan associated with the 4 of Swords in tarot.  In the image above created by Pamela Colman Smith for the A.E. Waite deck, we can see what looks to be a tomb with a statue of a knight in prayer, under a stained glass window of “PAX” or “peace.”  This image also evokes a pilgrim in meditative silence within a protected, sacred space, and likewise it can help us find our own balance at this time if we can manage to create our own space, or journey somewhere we can find solace in silence.  Since we are in a time of Mercury retrograde, we also can integrate the duality within this image, the concept of peace that necessitates the concept of conflict, the pilgrim/knight in prayer surrounded by swords.  Within the balance of these dualities, we can sense how his positioning is like a re-balancing of the chakras and re-integration of our body and mind, and the sword below him is a tool to be used to cut away the false and inessential in order to reveal our essential and genuine presence that can emerge now.  It also connects to the judgment of Maat at our time of death, the weighing of our heart to reveal if we lived a life in accordance with our soul or not.

In 36 Faces Austin Coppock described Libra III as a decan that “allows one to see through the eye of the storm” through equilibration of movement:

Its secret resides in the eye of the storm, calm and clear as the chaos of desire and fear whirl all about . . . The principle of justice or balance is thus applied constantly to a lop-sided world, one interaction at a time.  Those who enact this formula successfully emanate an aura of order and are themselves a walking corrective . . . The power of this face is to equilibrate unbalanced forces as they are encountered, and to maintain connection to the unmoved center.  It offers the formulae by which equipoise may be maintained in any circumstance- shelter in any storm. (p. 168-70)

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Scarab inscribed Daughter of Re, with Winged Maat; 1479 – 1458 BC; Upper Egypt; Dynasty 18, early; Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Hatshepsut; Metropolitan Museum of Art

Lastly, as we remember the connection between Libra and relationships, the Moon in Leo being conjunct Juno in Leo at the time of the inferior conjunction gives added weight to our relationships being a primal source of lessons for us now.  It may be through our intimate relationships as well as our more ephemeral interactions that we come to important realizations that will help us to release old thought forms in preparation for the new.  I am reminded of this passage I admire from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, in which the main character realizes the gap of understanding between him and his wife of over six years:

Is it possible, finally, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?

We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close are we able to come to that person’s essence?  We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?

I started thinking seriously about such things a week after I quit my job at the law firm.  Never until then-  never in the whole course of my life- had I grappled with questions like this.  And why not?  Probably because my hands had been full just living.  I had simply been too busy to think about myself. (p. 24)

No matter how busy we are, this is a time necessitating deep reflection in order to reap the reward of realization available. This does not mean it will be easy- going into the underworld realm never is, but it has always been the mythic figures consumed with great love and desire for their beloved, like Psyche, Isis, Dionysus, Orpheus, and Persephone, who survive and give birth to new vision from a new sense of self.  We can make a sacred oath and contract with ourselves at this time, to clear what needs clearing and to courageously embody our deepest desires. By doing this work within and nurturing our own needs, we will be able to listen with greater clarity to the needs of others.  There may be hard truths to recognize about ourselves, attachments we have clung to for years that must be let go, but in the end our lives and the lives of the people we are in relationship will be richer for our participation in this time of internal transition guided by Mercury.

Thoth as Ibis with Maat feather

Thoth as the ibis with a Maat feather, 4th Century B.C., Hermopolis, Egypt, Metropolitan Museum of Art

References

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

Murakami, Haruki. (1997).  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.  Vintage.

Pinch, Geraldine. (2002). Egyptian Mythology: a guide to the gods, goddesses, and traditions of ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press.

Wallis Budge, E.A. (1960). The Book of the Dead. University Books, Inc.

Mercury retrograde: a forest dark in liminal twilight

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Yaroslav Gerzhedovich

“I go along dreaming roads of the twilight”

Antonio Machado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Yaroslav Gerzhedovich

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

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

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

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

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Yaroslav Gerzehedovich

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

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

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

LunarEclipseWRIGC2

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

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

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

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

MercuryInferiorConjunctWRIGC1

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

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

SolarEclipseWRIGC3

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

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

MercuryDirectWRIGC4

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

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

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

Inanna_Dumuzi

Inanna and Dumuzi

References

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

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

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

Mercury retrograde in Cancer and Gemini: in Moon and Mind

Mercury bronze

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • June 21:  SOLSTICE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mercury delivering Bacchus

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

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

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

2 of cups by pixie

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

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

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

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

Cancer 4 keynote: An attempt at self-justification

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

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

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

athena and hermes

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

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

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

bronze herm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

Mercury Mediates the Cardinal Cross

Hermes

Hermes. Attic Red-figure Calyx-Krater, by Euphronios, 515 BCE. NYC, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Just as we are in the wake of the exact Cardinal Cross corresponding to a multitude of chaotic current events, Mercury steps into his Superior Conjunction with the Sun.  When Mercury is moving direct and conjunct the Sun it is called a superior conjunction because Mercury is moving very fast (this is in contrast with the Inferior Conjunction that occurs when Mercury is moving retrograde and slow).  Demetra George has compared Mercury at this phase of his cycle with the Sun to his detriment placement in Sagittarius because he has gone invisible under the beams of the Sun and his swift movement can correspond to both ingenious insight as well as a feeling of overwhelm in the face of an avalanche of disorienting information or events.  The challenge is to assimilate and to integrate all of the information that is made available at the superior conjunction:  this is always the case, but the fact that this particular superior conjunction is occurring at the time of the Cardinal Cross, in between a Lunar Eclipse and a Solar Eclipse, makes this a particularly volatile and catalytic superior conjunction.   We may be sensing brilliant insights of genius, the frenzied madness of a manic perspective, or both at the same time.  What is clear is that this time of a Cardinal Cross in between eclipses has lived up to its billing as an intense crossroads:  liberation from past limiting patterns is the potential benefit of this time, and so we need to maintain the mental balance to take in and digest the profound insights available to our perception.

MercurySuperiorConjunctWRIGC1

While one can see in the chart above the square alignment between Mars retrograde in Libra, Jupiter in Cancer, Pluto retrograde in Capricorn, and Uranus in Aries, one can also see that Venus is tight in trine to Saturn retrograde in Scorpio as well as conjunct the Moon in Pisces.  Yes, grand squares can be stressful, but they are also a building energy that can initiate new forms and structures, particularly in the cardinal signs.  Venus in Pisces rules the superior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun in Taurus, and since she is also aligned with the Moon and in trine to Saturn we have an opportunity at this time to perceive the profound personal message directed at us from the universe that is found in this Cardinal Cross.  Venus in Pisces and Saturn in Scorpio also bring in the two other modes of operation besides the initiatory focus of Cardinal signs:  Venus being in a Mutable sign that helps us to flow with changes while breaking up and mediating our experiences into the essential take away, Saturn being in a Fixed sign helping us to solidify and realize the golden insight we can glean while processing all of the events and exchanges occurring in our lives at this time.

Mercury like Saturn is also in a Fixed sign at this time, and in fact in this period will quickly move through Taurus and become exactly opposite Saturn retrograde in Scorpio (May 2, 2014).  Mercury in Taurus is ruled by Venus transiting in Pisces, and in Taurus she is more of an inner Venus focused on our inner resources and values, a Venus that helps us connect with our body, our bodily instincts, and perception open to us through body language and interpretation.  Mercury being in a fixed sign lends stability to an astrological archetype that is very fluid:  Mercury can go between the underworld and the upper world, in traditional astrology he can belong to both the diurnal and the nocturnal sect, and indeed he is able to find the middle ground while mediating between worlds and unifying opposites.  Amazingly, the Sabian symbol for 6 Taurus where the superior conjunction occurs evokes this meaning:  “cantilever bridge across a deep gorge,” with the keynote meaning of a “conquest of separateness through group cooperation” (Rudhyar, p. 74).  To Dane Rudyhar, this symbol stresses the need to participate in a “collective project” in order to build a link “through the power of the collective mind of the group or the community at large, on the basis of the legacy of the past, to make a bridge over the canyon” (Rudhyar, p. 74). We need Mercury at this time to help us make sense of everything occurring around us:  it is not just our own personal patterns that are being revealed for our personal liberation, it is the great collective patterns of our collective history that are also being revealed, and it will only be through collective group effort that we will be able to collectively liberate ourselves from them.

The significant shift that follows the superior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun is the transformation of Mercury from a Morning Star to an Evening Star.  Mercury is in his Morning Star phase when he is behind the Sun by zodiac degree, and he is in his Evening Star phase when he is ahead of the Sun by zodiac degree.  When Mercury reaches about fifteen degrees before the Sun he disappears in the Eastern sky at sunrise, only to rise again at sunset as an Evening Star when he reaches about fifteen degrees ahead of the Sun.  In the last couple of months as a Morning Star, leading up to our current Cardinal Grand Square, Mercury has been functioning more in his Morning Star role as a more objective, yang energy that is outwardly directed and effective in a more public focus on reputation, honors, and career.  Once Mercury becomes an Evening Star, he will embody a more reflective, yin energy that is both subjective and intuitive, able to perceive information through dreams, memory, and bodily instincts.  At this time of Mercury’s superior conjunction, however, leading up to the Solar Eclipse that will occur around April 29 (or April 28 depending upon your time zone), we are in a time of accelerated perception and information, a vortex in which we may encounter many opportunities and be able to accomplish a great deal if we can maintain our focus amid the catalytic energy of the Cardinal Cross and Solar Eclipse.

SolarEclipseApril2014WRIGC2

One can see here that at the time of the Solar Eclipse, Mercury will be (1) sextile to Neptune and Chiron in Pisces, (2) in trine to Pluto in Capricorn, and (3) in sextile to Jupiter in Cancer.  This means that Mercury will be mediating between powerful transpersonal and personal energies during this Solar Eclipse he is closely conjunct in Taurus, giving us the opportunity to perceive information and insight through the collective conscious and unconscious (Neptune in Pisces) that can help us regenerate core aspects of our authentic Self that can in the end help us re-make and re-form structures of the surrounding systematic power structure (Pluto in Capricorn).  We can also gain insight into how we have been conditioned to judge ourselves or allow ourselves to be judged or shamed by the imposed expectations of others.  Remember that very recently at the time of the Lunar Eclipse a couple of weeks ago that Mercury was conjunct Uranus in Aries as we entered this Cardinal Cross time period:  as a result Mercury is carrying a liberating message from Uranus with him into the Sun and the Solar Eclipse.  Making things even more amplified, the opposition between Jupiter in Cancer and Pluto in Capricorn has been in place for all of 2014 so far, and has been intensely triggered at this time of a Cardinal Cross.  It is therefore incredible at this time of Mercury’s superior conjunction that also happens at a time of a solar eclipse that Mercury is conjunct, that Mercury steps into such harmonious mediating aspects between Jupiter and Pluto.  This is a time to gain greater clarity for our true values, and the purpose and passion in life we want to direct our inner resources toward in this next phase of our life.

Furthermore, just as Venus in Pisces is ruling the Solar Eclipse occurring at this time, so does Venus also rule Mercury’s journey through the sign of Taurus.  And as previously mentioned, Venus in Pisces is now significantly in trine to Saturn retrograde in Scorpio as we enter the superior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun in Taurus.  Love is the great harmonizer that can weave together disparate elements and events into a Venusian tapestry that can help us nurture ourselves during any wounding experience.  Venus was recently conjunct Chiron in Pisces and in trine to Jupiter in Cancer, and now that she is also in trine to Saturn retrograde in Scorpio means that we can get a more visceral feeling in our bodies and bones regarding the deeper meaning of recent events with respect to our core being.  It also gives us the ability to manifest a deeper sense of love into our daily existence, focusing on what we want to have happen with a greater ability to materialize aspects of our authentic desire.

venus_verticordia_1864_1868

Venus Verticordia by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1868)

Mercury is moving fast however, and so will remain in the Venus ruled sign of Taurus for only a few weeks as he travels invisible under the beams of the Sun.  Mercury will appear again as an Evening Star in the sky at his acronymic rise at Sunset, occurring around May 9, 2014 when Mercury reaches fifteen degrees ahead of the Sun:  Mercury will be enjoying himself in the early degrees of Gemini at this time.  Demetra George has compared Mercury in this phase of his cycle with the Sun as being similar to his exaltation in the sign of Virgo.  This is not the youthful, risk-taking, and overly curious Hermes, but rather the sage and bearded Hermes, the educator of youth and the wise inventor of letters and numbers, the discerning interpreter of words and the giver of medicinal drugs.  The combination of this phase of Mercury being similar archetypally to Mercury’s exaltation in the discerning Virgo with the transit of Mercuy in his inquisitive home sign of Gemini is absolutely perfect to help us digest and integrate all of the mind blowing experiences from this time period.

As a result, Mercury moving direct as an Evening Star in the sign of Gemini will help us assimilate, classify, organize, and integrate all of our wild perceptions from this time period with a more deliberate mental process able to flow and navigate with all of the changes arising.  In these ways, Mercury will continue in his role of mediating the intense events of the Cardinal Cross within our perceptions through the Spring (in the Northern Hemisphere where I live; of course in the Southern Hemisphere you are in Autumn now), significantly reaching another phase of his journey on June 7, 2014 when he will station retrograde at four degrees of Cancer in trine to Neptune in Pisces.  This will be the next phase of our mental integration of all the changes happening now, the Mercury retrograde phase, where Mercury will take on more of the meaning of his detrimental placement in the sign of Pisces, a time of release of old thought forms and concepts in preparation for visualizing and envisioning our new future yet to come.  Mercury in this period has a strong ability to interpret omens and signs in our night-time dreams and day-time explorations, and since this retrograde phase will begin with a trine to Neptune in Pisces it will also give us the opportunity for greater acceptance and healing of any wounding changes occurring in our lives during this Cardinal Cross time period.  Again with amazing timing, Mercury in this phase will experience his Inferior Conjunction with the Sun around the time of the June Solstice (the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere; the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere) at the very end of the sign of Gemini.  In the beginning of July, Mercury will station direct to move forward again in a month where Mars will finally leave his retrograde shadow zone, Jupiter will leave Cancer to enter the sign of Leo, and this Cardinal Cross time period will be clearly left behind.  So welcome the wise trickster Hermes into your life right now:  Mercury is making himself available at this time to help you navigate literally anything you are currently facing.

References

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

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

Mercury Retrograde at the Gate of Neptune

water nymph by John Collier

Mercury stations conjunct Neptune in Pisces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Botticelli-primavera

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

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

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

–Marsilio Ficino, The Planets

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

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

Rudolf Steiner pencil sketch

Aquarius Alchemical Vessel

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

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

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

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

Moon pamela colman

Leo Full Moon squares Scorpio Saturn

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

7th Harmonic

7th Harmonic in February

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

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

References

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

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

Libra Equinox 2013

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Equinox of September 22, 2013

In the Northern Hemisphere where I live (Olympia, Washington of the USA) we are experiencing the Autumn Equinox today, but to remember the importance of integration and balance at the equinox, I want to acknowledge those in the Southern Hemisphere who are experiencing the Spring Equinox today.  There are obvious seasonal as well as symbolic differences between a Spring and Autumn equinox, yet each do involve the theme of balancing the yin and yang- with Spring it is more about the yang, beginnings, cleansing, elimination, new growth and creativity, whereas with Autumn it is about entering more of a yin cycle, consolidating, communicating, gaining clarity, increasing productivity and study, while being more restful (Haas, 1981).

However, the fact that we are all experiencing an Equinox today is significant and brings its own unification, as the Sun is at the point of the celestial sphere where the ecliptic and the celestial equator meet once again, day and night will be equal, and likewise we have the opportunity to bring greater balance to our being and community around us- the themes of both Spring and Autumn involve creating balance in their own way.  The theme of balance is especially important with this particular equinox being in the sign of Libra, the zodiac sign associated with balance.  Libra, however, is a cardinal sign of initiating action and does not mean everything will be in balance- in fact, in Libra things can feel extreme and quite out of balance- yet the intention remains to find center again, re-calibrate and re-balance, and by going through extreme events and feelings, we enter a process of being able to find a more authentic and genuine balance point.  The equinox today has signs that support setting a strong intention to find greater balance in our being by avoiding denial and take a piercing, honest look at ourselves and what habits and patterns are in need of modification.  We will soon be entering an upcoming season of eclipses and dramatic changes, and so the more we can make a clearing at this time of what needs to be released, the better prepared we will be to respond in the moment to the upcoming changes that will be occurring.

800px-Ecliptic_path

This particular equinox chart is incredibly powerful and among other themes associated with the equinox, it does point to a potential for balancing masculine and feminine energy within each of us. However, there are also signs of their being some major conflict between masculine energy wanting to boldly pursue desire and passion versus feminine energy that is penetrating to the core of everyone and everything and demanding complete honesty and authenticity.  If the striving masculine energy is genuine it’s ambition could be a catalyst for new growth; if the masculine energy is too prideful, egotistical, oppressive, or vain, the feminine energy will see through it and cut it down to size.  Here in Olympia, Washington we are having a cold and rainy equinox morning, with the winds accelerating and leaves and weak branches correspondingly falling from the trees outside.  In accordance, with the current astrological winds perhaps our own leaves and branches we are ready to release from our core trunk will fall away.  The chart for the Autumn Equinox here in Olympia, Washington is below:

AutumnEquinox2013WRIGC1

A major player in the potential shift available at this time is Pluto in Capricorn that just recently stationed direct.  Pluto had been moving retrograde since April 12, 2013 when it stationed retrograde at 12 degrees of Capricorn.  Pluto stationed retrograde last April less then a week after there was a conjunction between Mars and Venus, our masculine and feminine personal planets, at 20 degrees of Aries.  Today at the equinox, Mars and Venus are now in their first quarter square of this cycle with Venus in Scorpio and Mars in Leo.  Mars and Venus have a cycle that last for about two years, in contrast to how our Sun and Moon cycle in roughly 29 days or so.  This past April of 2013 was a time of a new cycle beginning in your own personal Mars and Venus patterns or archetypes- you can look at your birth chart for where 20 degrees of Aries is to see where this occurred in your chart, with what sorts of aspects.

Just like the first quarter Moon square to the Sun is significant, so is the first quarter energy between Venus and Mars that is coming into manifestation now.  At this point in the Venus and Mars cycle, we have gained greater awareness through our experiences in the past five months of our patterns in relationship associated with our inner feminine/masculine and what we may desire versus what we have manifested in reality.  Venus in the sign of Scorpio, conjunct Saturn and the North Node of the Moon at this time, is an especially powerful evening star manifestation of the Goddess that is carrying more weight than Mars in Leo and can help facilitate us penetrating to the core of our current reality in relationships, love, and manifestation of whatever type of abundance we desire.  At the first quarter square time, action is necessary to establish whatever Mars-Venus seed could have begun to be envisioned back in April of 2013.   We will have from this equinox until the end of this next week to make the final harmonizing of our energy in this way before the exact Mars-Venus square hits around September 28.  The approaching first quarter square at this equinox between Venus and Mars is even more significant inside the larger first quarter square between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries we have been experiencing since 2012, as the next exact square between Pluto and Uranus will occur a month after the exact square between Mars and Venus.  Pluto has now turned around direct to begin moving forward again, coming into the next exact square with Uranus in Aries in the early morning of November 1, 2013 here in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, which will actually for us be the night of Halloween or Samhain.  The equinox chart thus signifies a balancing of our Mars-Venus energies being especially relevant to the upcoming fourth exact square between Pluto and Uranus in this cycle.  Since the number four is associated with our heart chakra, this seems to be very relevant and true.

Thus, since April as Venus and Mars shifted into the first quarter square aspect we are beginning to sense at this equinox, Pluto has been moving retrograde.  Pluto moving retrograde can be helpful for doing the deep work of becoming aware of our deepest patterns of desire and values so that we can come to a place of clearing and regeneration of a more authentic self.   Pluto stationing direct at the equinox is powerful, and in combination with the Venus-Mars square, can be linked to us having become aware of what patterns associated with our relationships, as well as our own masculine and feminine energy and patterns, we wish to modify to create more of the life we want to live.  At the Autumn Equinox time, since ancient times Pluto has been a powerful mythic figure associated with the reaping of an abundant harvest, as well as later with taking Persephone down into the underworld to help with the transition of souls.  In contrast, at the Spring equinox in myth Pluto is able to let go of and release Persephone back into the upperworld to create more life; however, in both cases there is a clear intentional act taken by Pluto at the equinox.  Similarly, we can make our own unique intention at this equinox supported by powerful astrological energy.

ceres

Fittingly, with Pluto taking on significance at this equinox, Ceres is holding her own and embodying strong aspects of a different sort.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, Demetra George has written about how in ancient Crete, Ceres was a Goddess associated with the Corn Priestess who took part in a sacred marriage with her lover and gave birth to Plutus, the god of wealth coming from the earth.  These ancient connections between the harvest of Autumn and wealth, or to shift to the Spring equinox, with the seeding of the coming harvest and wealth, connect with our modern focus on resources for our own survival, whether we are living a more Earth-based lifestyle in connection with resources we are growing from the Earth or a a less Earth-based lifestyle in which we are focused on working a job to make money to buy processed food from a grocery store.

At this 2013 equinox Ceres is paying a lot of attention to Chiron, and she is the key point of a Grand Earth trine between herself in Virgo, Pluto in Capricorn, and the Moon and the South Node of the Moon in Taurus.  The trine between Ceres and Pluto can correspond with an opportunity to become more productive in our lives if we are doing the deep Pluto work referenced earlier in this article.  However, to bring the real production generator, the Goddess Ceres, into our life at this time, we have some additional work to do if we want to more harmoniously access her trine with Pluto and the Moon in Taurus.  Ceres is moving direct in Virgo, a sign that pleases her as she is the literal symbol used by modern astrologers for Virgo.  However, to fully activate Ceres into her highest potential at this time will require us to take heroic strides forward through the wounding experiences of this recent time period, as Chiron is retrograde in Pisces in opposition to Ceres at the equinox, while also being in a wide conjunction again with Neptune in Pisces.

From the perspective of Ceres, this opposition with Chiron connects strongly with the lesson from her mythic story of losing Persephone to the underworld and becoming so anguished and emotionally overwhelmed at her great loss, entered a period in which she ended her productivity and refused to create life and new harvest on Earth.  She also drifted into coping strategies such as opiate use, and lost became further wounded and oppressed by Poseidon, who raped her.  Ceres was ultimately able to begin a process of purification, however, by bathing in a flowing river, which to me is a symbol of her beginning to process of opening herself to the constant changes of life and the loss we can experience in the process.  This lesson to be open to the constant flux of life is also a key point in Ceres fully accessing her trine with the Moon in Taurus at the equinox.  This is because the Moon is conjunct the South Node of the Moon, which can indicate more of an emotional connection to past patterns of coping because they are comfortable more so than truly effective or productive given changing circumstances.  This is further emphasized with the Moon and South Node being in Taurus, a sign that can be more stubborn about holding onto past patterns for a sense of stability.

Chiron retrograde in a wide conjunction with Neptune in Pisces could coincide with great emotional wounding and spiritual crises we could have been experiencing, but at the same time carries a potential of incredibly deep healing of past wounds that can then be integrated back into a productive capacity in which we draw upon our newfound strength.  Ceres in Virgo in combination with Chiron in Pisces embodies extraordinary potential.

chiron and achilles by sargent

From the perspective of Chiron, he has been moving retrograde back toward Neptune in Pisces again, and at the same time has become involved in a Grand Water trine that will be continuing for some time.  In August he was part of a trine with Saturn and Jupiter, and though his trine with Jupiter is wider now, he is still in range of a trine with Saturn and Jupiter.  However, Chiron is also in trine with Venus, Saturn, and the North Node in Scorpio, and more exactly with the mean node of Black Moon Lilith in Cancer at the time of the equinox than Jupiter.  Interestingly, by the time Pluto stations retrograde again in Capricorn in April of 2014, Chiron and Jupiter will again be closely in trine.

As a result, Chiron is in league with the Dark Goddesses and is helping Ceres regain her original seat as the Goddess of the Underworld, like Ereshkigal in the myth of Inanna, instead of the later masculine takeover of placing Pluto in charge of the underworld.  The Great Mother was not only the Goddess of Life but also Death, and Chiron at this time is presenting us with an opportunity to integrate the whole portrait of the Great Goddess, especially being in trine to the conjunction of Venus, Saturn, and the North Node in Scorpio.  Chiron is often called the wounded healer, and we may in fact be experiencing incredible wounds at this time.  However, he is also a great teacher and cultivator of our own unique heroic qualities, and so whatever has been occurring in our lives is actually an opportunity for us to take a stand at this time and courageously face the actual nature of our current reality.  If we stand in our own integrity at this time, it will honor and work well with the combination of Saturn with Venus and the North Node of the Moon.

Since Black Moon Lilith is often referred to as a resolution point of the rejected feminine, her mean node being in trine to both Chiron in Pisces and the Venus-Saturn-North Node conjunction in Scorpio indicates a potential opening to integrate the rejected and oppressed side of our feminine energy back into our psyche.  Not that this is an easy task, but if we are acting from the hurt and wounded parts of our rejected feminine, with the square from Mars in Leo we could become involved in some serious negative energy and fights in our personal environment.  This equinox is a perfect time to make an intention to purify the toxicity that come from the rejected feminine aspects of our psyche.

Since the Black Moon Lilith point relates to the orbit of the Moon, it is interesting that the South Node of the Moon in Taurus is conjunct the Moon in Taurus at the time of the equinox- in trine with Ceres in Virgo, and in sextile to Chiron in Pisces.  If we can avoid the seething anger that can come from Taurus, especially when Taurus is focused on past emotional wounding or past emotional patterns connected with negative energy, there can be a potentially very positive use of this energy.  To me, it would be more of a Taurus focus on what we can cultivate and nurture for ourselves at this time of the equinox.  If we can cut out and release the negative past patterns, which can be facilitated by Venus and Saturn in Scorpio being opposite the Taurus Moon and South Node of the Moon at this time, then we can draw from our past patterns in a manner that will help us draw on our strengths and gifts in the cultivation of our personal harvest.  Whether this is symbolically a planting time or a reaping time for you in your own personal cycles, the use of lunar Taurus energy can be a patient and helpful guide to stay in touch with what is truly bringing pleasure to your body and being, so that you can as a result begin to bring more joy into your life.

Demeter finds Persephone

Finally, the other planetary player I want to mention is Mercury in Libra, who has been moving full speed ahead at 20 Libra, but is currently beginning to prepare to station retrograde in mid-October in the sign of Scorpio.  At the equinox, however, Mercury is at the midpoint between the Sun in Libra and Saturn and Venus in Scorpio, as well as being in a sextile to Mars in Leo.  In the Ceres and Persephone myth I have been referencing, it is Mercury who descends to the underworld in order to ascend again with Persephone and return her to her mother Ceres.  Mercury is strongly in the sign of Libra at this Libra Equinox, and so the way we are perceiving reality as well as choosing to communicate with others will be vital in our ability to cultivate greater balance in our lives.  With so many intense astrological aspects, we will surely be tested in this manner, and most likely we will make some mistakes in communication that can lead to some extreme arguments and confrontations at this time.  However, if we are taking responsibility for our communication and perceptions, and make sure to learn from our mistakes and make amends in our relationships, we can help cultivate greater balance within ourselves as well as within our outer relationships.

Black Moon Lilith is again a player with Mercury, but this time it is the true node of Black Moon Lilith that is conjunct Jupiter and in a tight square with Mercury in Libra at the time of the equinox. The way our feminine nature has been spurned or rejected in the past could be behind a lot of conflict and arguments we have at this time.  However, at the same time as we get in touch with this energy it can also could be a catalyst for difficulty but powerful conversations and awareness of what is at the root between the conflict of our masculine and feminine within, how this inner conflict of our nature can create difficulties for ourselves in our outer relationships, as well as how the masculine and feminine are in relationship in the collective.  The collective conflict between the masculine and feminine is obviously an enormous problem at this time, but there is an opportunity at this time to gain perhaps an incremental insight into the nature of this conflict.

The current square between Mercury in Libra with Jupiter in Cancer is another level to the deep questioning of our personal beliefs some of us may have been experiencing recently.  If we have not been questioning our beliefs, we may instead have been getting into debates or arguments associated with beliefs we have that we do not like to question.  Earlier this past Summer, there was and opposition between Jupiter in Cancer and Pluto in Capricorn that would have initiated this process.  By the time Pluto stations retrograde again next April of 2014, Jupiter will have gone through a retrograde motion that will bring it back into an exact opposition with Pluto, so we are only at the beginning of this process.

One of the greatest debates in belief has to do with the very nature of Creation itself.  Last night in thinking about this equinox, I opened the book The Earth Path by Starhawk to a passage I want to share in its entirety below, about the beliefs many people in our collective hold about creation and evolution and how that has influenced worldly events since the time that Darwin shattered the previously dominant Biblical interpretation with his theory of natural selection:

 Evolution, of course, was in Darwin’s day a shattering and heretical challenge to the simplistic, literalistic biblical view.  First, the theory of evolution holds that the world is much, much older than the Bible says.  Second, humans, animals, plants, bacteria, and all other creatures are a single continuum of life.  Humans are not something set apart.  We are animals, and we emerged from the same natural processes by which other life-forms evolved.

From the perspective of earth-based spirituality, those insights were a vast improvement over literalistic interpretations of the Bible.  Evolution restored dynamism to the universe, brought it alive as a growing, changing, interacting web of relationships.

Darwin himself was a great observer, embodying the permacultural principle of “thoughtful and protracted observation” more than a century before permaculture was formulated.  He looked at the plants and animals and birds around him in the far-flung places of the world he traveled, and he let himself ask, “I wonder . . .”:  “I wonder how that tortoise got to be the way it is, how differences between those similar plants arose, what forces produced the beak on that bird.”  He theorized that environmental pressures and constraints select the individuals most fitted to a given environment from a range of genetic variations.  Those individuals succeed best in the competition for food and scarce resources.  They are also most likely to reproduce, and so they pass on their adaptations.  His theory of evolution and natural selection was a brilliant example of relational thinking, focusing not just on individuals or species as separate, isolated elements, but on the whole pattern of interactions, exchanges, and effects of living communities as a whole.

But at the same time that Darwin was researching and writing, industrial capitalism was growing and consolidating its power, and looking for an ideology to justify ruthless exploitation of the poor by the rich.  “Social Darwinism” a simplistic reformulation of Darwin’s theory, turned natural selection into “survival of the fittest.”  The best win out and, by extension, the “winners” must be the best-  and therefore deserving of their rewards.  “Losers” are by definition inferior, maladapted, and deserving of their demise.  To suggest that the winners owe anything to the losers is to interfere with nature and risk weakening the race.

This misinterpretation of Darwin’s theory was a secular reformulation of earlier religious doctrines of the “elect.”  It was also a perfect rationale for cutthroat capitalism, in both the nineteenth century and the Reagan/Bush era.  Competition is the driving force of progress in nature and, by extension, human society.  The more worthy win out in time, and this, in the long run, is good for the species and the whole.  Success is its own justification, and what’s good for big transnationals is good for the U.S.A.

There is a different view of evolution, one that better serves the world-view of earth-based spirituality.  We might call it Gaian evolution, after the Gaia theory developed by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis.  Gaian evolution is not so much a counter to Darwin as a shift in focus from the individual to the ecosystem, the whole.  The earth functions like a living being, and the biosphere, the world community of life-forms, changes its environment as it is changed by it.  The redwood tree does not evolve as a separated species; rather, the forest as a whole evolves, the interwoven lives of redwood and tanoak, huckleberry and salal, the mycorrhizal fungi in the soil below and the lichens in the canopy where the marbled murrelets nest.  None of these creatures adapts alone, in isolation from each other-  they coevolve as Forest-Being, in an interdependent dance that balances competition and cooperation.  Individuals and species survive when their activities benefit the whole as well as the parts.  Evolution becomes the story of how the planet herself comes alive.

–Starhawk, The Earth Path, p. 42-43

I have taken part in the spiral dance with Starhawk before, and while that isn’t possible for me to do at this equinox, I hope that all of do our own sort of personal spiral dance to help us balance ourselves to a greater extent, as well as interdependently then help facilitate greater balance in the Earth.  Blessed be.

References

Haas, Elson. (1981).  Staying Healthy with the Seasons.  Celestial Arts.

Starhawk. (2005). The Earth Path.  Harper.

J.K. Rowling and Virgo Mercury

Hermione

J.K. Rowling’s progressed Mercury retrograde

JK Rowling speaks at Harvard commencement

The link above is to a speech J.K. Rowling gave at a Harvard University commencement ceremony on June 5, 2008.  In this speech she elucidates the benefits one can gain from  failure, as well as the supreme importance of imagination and how it gives humans the power to not only imagine solutions and inventions that did not previously exist, but more importantly to create imaginal empathic connections with others living very different lives from our own.

It may not be surprising to you, given J.K. Rowling’s well-known distaste of media exposure, that there is not an accurate birth time known for her, making it more difficult to know her natal birth chart for certain.  Nonetheless, we do know that she was born on July 31, 1965 in Bristol, and since having a strong Leo Sun makes sense given her work, I have taken the presumption to make an example chart with her born in mid-day with her Leo Sun near her mid-heaven:

RowlingJKWRIGC1AAgain, since her birth time is unknown the house placements above are not accurate.  However, with the exception of the Moon (her Moon could be anywhere from 12 degrees of Virgo to 27 degrees of Virgo), we can feel confident that all of the other planets are at least at the correct degree and sign of the zodiac.  In particular we can know for certainty that the outer planets are in their exact degree, and one can see from above that J.K. Rowling was born at the time of the most recent conjunction between Pluto and Uranus, in the sign of Virgo.  Furthermore, we can be certain that her Mercury, Venus, Uranus, Pluto, and Moon are all in the sign of Virgo, with Saturn and Chiron opposite in Pisces.  For the select group of people who have consistently been reading my blog, you may have noticed that the last chart I examined belonged to Kurt Cobain, who was also born at the conjunction between Uranus and Pluto in Virgo.  We are currently experiencing intense aspects between outer planets with a Uranus-Pluto square, and so I am focusing attention on people born during the previous conjunction between Pluto and Uranus that have had a large cultural impact on our modern life today.

Being an acclaimed writer, one of the first planets you may have focused upon in J.K. Rowling’s chart is her Virgo Mercury that is at zero degrees.  This is a fitting placement for such a popular writer, as Mercury not only rules Virgo, but Mercury is in it’s exaltation in the sign of Virgo.  This means that in the mutable, internal, and receptive energy of the sign of Virgo, Mercury is in a position to access the resources and techniques necessary to effectively communicate in the greater world in a manner that can be widely understood and appreciated in society.  Now, some of you may be saying, wait, I thought Mercury is exalted in Aquarius?  I have recently discovered that the Aquarius exalted location of Mercury is a modern invention of astrologers, but that when one looks at more ancient text, which is where the concept of exaltation came from in the first place, Virgo is in reality the exalted location of Mercury.  I do not intend to argue here with anyone wanting to praise the benefits of having Mercury in Aquarius, but what I do intend to do is praise the benefits of anyone having a Mercury in Virgo.

Perhaps it is her own Virgo-nature, but J.K. Rowling provided a perfect example for the brilliance of a Virgo Mercury in her Harry Potter books in the character of Hermione Granger.  Hermione, who at first glance obviously has a Hermes-inspired name, also happens to be a Virgo Sun sign.  We can go a step forward and link a Virgo Mercury to Hermione because my daughter Vivika, a well-versed expert in Harry Potter lore, has told me that J.K. Rowling based the character of Hermione upon how she was as a youth.  In the books Hermione as a Virgo also displays the reasons why Virgo is an exalted sign for Mercury, as she is the “star” student who is able to read, study, and absorb more academic material than any other student.  In addition, she has a strong intuitively analytic ability to reflect upon situations and discern creative solutions to problems in the stories.  Like Virgo, a mutable Earth sign, she is both pragmatic and flexible enough to shift her perception to align with the present moment.  She is also able to be widely appreciated for her intellect and academic communication skills by other students and teachers;  this is in contrast to Ron, who is a Pisces.  In contrast to Virgo, Pisces is considered to be a detriment of Mercury, and in the books we can see how Ron’s academic studies are constantly challenged by his emotional and passionate Pisces nature.  This does not mean that a Pisces Mercury does not possess great gifts, only that in a society-sanctioned place such as academia, a Virgo Mercury would have an easier time receiving acclaim than a Pisces.  On a mythic level, my own feeling about Mercury being exalted in Virgo relates to Isis.  Isis is often associated with the sign of Virgo by many writers across time, and she was a figure who was able to move between the underworld and the upperworld.  I believe that like Isis, a Virgo Mercury is also able to embody this internal/external movement of perception and communication, deeply processing perceptions taken in, as well as being able to transmit a healing vibration through communication in a manner similar to Isis.  This ability also connects with the character of Hermione Granger, as she was exceptional at casting magical spells just like Isis.

Even more interesting, however, Rowling was born with this Virgo Mercury stationing retrograde.  When a planet is stationing retrograde, it puts added weight on it because the planet was barely moving and in fact was stationing still at the time of birth.  As a result, J.K. Rowling has a potent Mercury at the initiation degree of Virgo, and since her Mercury is stationing retrograde it means that Mercury would have been travelling retrograde in Rowling’s progressed chart for the first twenty-five years or so of her life.  Significantly for the themes of the Harry Potter novels, it also means that Mercury would have been moving retrograde in her progressed chart in the sign of Leo. What is a progressed chart, you may be asking?  Before I continue, I would like to comment that I hope you bear with me in this post no matter your current astrological understanding, as I will be attempting to explain an important astrological technique that defies rational logic, but is extremely effective and has been one of the core components of my personal astrological practice when working with clients.  I will be more astrologically technical in this post than in many previous ones, but hope I am able to explain this concept in a manner that will have it make sense for you and prove its value when considering your own chart.

A progressed chart is a way we can enter another dimension of astrological understanding that defies rational logic.  In progressed charts, we look at each day following the date of birth as representing an entire year of someone’s life.  So, since J.K. Rowling was born on July 31, 1965 it means we would look at the date of August 5, 1965 to figure out her progressed chart at the age of five, and that we would look at the date of August 30, 1965 in order to figure out her progressed chart for the age of thirty.  Whether the fact this works out so well in charts is due to the axial rotation of the Earth or some other scientific explanation, in the end does not really matter when you pay attention to the significance of progressed transits and aspects and how your life develops correspondingly.

As I mentioned, since Rowling was born with Mercury stationing retrograde at zero degrees of Virgo, it means that as she grew up Mercury began to move backwards in her progressed chart through the sign of Leo.  When a planet in a progressed chart is moving retrograde, it has a similar meaning to when an individual is born with a planet retrograde.  For instance, the individual may experience the archetypal energy of the planet in a counter-cultural manner that goes against expectations of the status quo for how such an archetype “should” behave in society.  In Rowling’s case, it means that her Mercury function, her style of perceiving reality and communicating her understanding to others, goes against the grain of cultural expectations.  As she references in her speech above, Rowling did in fact refuse to conform to the expectations of her parents to study (Mercury) subjects in college that could lead her to more easily make a lot of money, and instead chose to focus on her own passionate interests like Greek myths (Mercury retrograde) that did not increase the likelihood of her becoming employed somewhere that could provide her with an affluent or comfortable lifestyle.  Yet, because Mercury was moving retrograde in Leo it plays up the heroic quality of this early phase of Rowling’s life that has been well-documented in the “legend” of how the Harry Potter books came into existence.  More importantly, since Rowling has a Virgo Mercury in her natal chart, it also demonstrates how she would have the natural Mercurial resources to make use of her perceptions and learning to ultimately bring herself acclaim through her communication.  The chart below is for the day in which Rowling’s Mercury would have stationed direct in her progressed chart:

RowlingJKWRIGC7

As you can see from the chart above, when progressed Mercury stationed direct in J.K. Rowling’s chart, it was closely conjunct her progressed Moon.  And if you notice that her progressed Moon is only about sixteen degrees behind her progressed Sun, it also means that her progressed Mercury stationed direct in Leo conjunct a progressed Leo Moon that was in a balsamic or dark Moon phase with her progressed Virgo Sun.  Furthermore, her progressed Virgo Sun would have been conjunct her natal Mercury in Virgo!  These aspects would have been the case no matter what her birth time was on July 31, 1965, only the date of this progressed station of Mercury would change with a different birth time.

Since we do not know the birth time of J.K. Rowling, it does complicate matters.  For example, in her natal chart Rowling could have been born in a New Moon phase (which would be about her more instinctually embarking upon a new personal cycle) or if she was born very late at the end of July 31 it would give her a Crescent Moon phase (which would be more about her fighting the “ghosts of the past” according to Dane Rudhyar while going forward in her new cycle of identity).  Personally, as I previously mentioned, given the importance of a Leo Sun to the themes of the Harry Potter books, I strongly feel that it would make more sense that Rowling was born during daylight hours, including more of a mid-day birth. However, unfortunately in this case we can not know for certain besides the general natal Moon phase theme having something to do with a New Moon/Crescent Moon intention to embark upon a new cycle of development in her life.  As a result, the fact that her progressed Mercury stationed retrograde in Leo conjunct a Leo progressed Moon that was in a Balsamic Moon phase to her progressed Sun, is incredibly important.  This means that this potent stationing of progressed Mercury would have coincided with a time period in which she was meant to do some clearing of the past while opening to the seed of a new vision, according to the meaning of a Balsamic progressed Moon phase.  As I will demonstrate in a moment, the general time period this event would have happened no matter her time of birth on July 31 would have been in the year 1990.  The year of 1990 is the time period documented by biographers in which Rowling was on a train in England and experienced an inner vision of the character of Harry Potter.  As a result, she began devoting her life in stages to the manifestation of this character and story, battling many dark events in her personal life at the same time (poverty, death of her mother).  Below is how she described this vision on her website:

I was travelling back to London on my own on a crowded train, and the idea for Harry Potter simply fell into my head. I had been writing almost continuously since the age of six but I had never been so excited about an idea before. To my immense frustration, I didn’t have a pen that worked, and I was too shy to ask anybody if I could borrow one… I did not have a functioning pen with me, but I do think that this was probably a good thing. I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, while all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn’t know he was a wizard became more and more real to me. Perhaps, if I had slowed down the ideas to capture them on paper, I might have stifled some of them (although sometimes I do wonder, idly, how much of what I imagined on that journey I had forgotten by the time I actually got my hands on a pen). I began to write ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ that very evening, although those first few pages bear no resemblance to anything in the finished book.

–J.K. Rowling

Checking various birth time possibilities, if Rowling had been born around 1:00 AM on July 31, her Mercury would have stationed direct in the progressed chart in April of 1991.  In contrast, if she was born around 11:00 pm on July 31, her Mercury would have stationed direct in May of 1990.  Finally, if she was born around 1:00 PM as shown in the chart above, her Mercury would have stationed direct in October of 1990.  In all cases, her progressed Leo Moon would have been conjunct her progressed Mercury at the time of the stationing, within a progressed Balsamic Moon phase with a progressed Virgo Sun conjunct her natal Mercury in Virgo.  In addition, she would have also had a progressed Scorpio Mars that would have been sextile to her natal Mercury in Virgo.  And, we can see that the average time period of these various birth time possibilities would have been the year 1990 in which her vision of Harry Potter took place.  She also would have been working at Amnesty International during this time period, which she spoke at great depth about in the linked speech at the beginning of this post.

If you are curious about your own progressed lunar phase, you can run a progressed chart on http://www.astro.com or another program and calculate the difference in degrees between the progressed Moon and progressed Sun.  Each phase has a different meaning:  the New (0-45 degrees ahead of the Sun), Crescent (45-90 degrees ahead of the Sun), First Quarter (90-135 degrees ahead of the Sun), Gibbous (135-180 degrees ahead of the Sun), Full (180-135 degrees behind the Sun), Disseminating (90-135 degrees behind the Sun), Last Quarter (45-90 degrees behind the Sun), and Balsamic (0-45 degrees behind the Sun).  It is always important to pay attention to whatever progressed moon phase you are experiencing, but especially to have the awareness when one is experiencing a Balsamic Moon phase (or to look back and examine what happened during a progressed Balsamic Moon phase).  Below is an excerpt written by Demetra George concerning the progressed Balsamic Moon phase in her book, Finding Our Way Through the Dark:

The progressed Balsamic phase is the dark moon phase of the lunation cycle.  It is the bridge between the ending of one cycle of activity and the beginning of the next one.  During this time you are summing up and completing all that you have been involved with for the previous twenty-seven years.  It is a time of letting go, purifying, healing, and preparing for renewal.

You may experience the loss of what has previously given you your sense of identiy and purpose . . . It is not unusual to feel lonely, depressed, suicidal, crazy, chaotic, alienated, and without direction. Tremendous grief may come up at this time as you mourn your losses.

The message is to release whatever has ended for you. It has served its purpose and has no further value in what is to come. Like the snake shedding its skin, an old part of you is truly dying.  Allow the old to be destroyed. This is a period of retreat, emptying out, and the final letting go.  You need to make room for the birth which is to follow at the next progressed New Moon . . .

As you prepare your seed capsule you may feel the urge to resolve the past by distiling the wisdom you have gained into some kind of form that will become the basis for what is to emerge.  Releasing the past, you begin to envision the future.  You yearn for something new, fresh, vital.  In your daydreams and night dreams you weave the images of what is waiting to be born, something which will satisfy your vague inner longings.  It will be in answer to this need that the new will come forth. As this phase draws to its conclusion, you may sense the future and dedicate and commit yourself to following the course that opens up to you, even though you may have no idea where it will eventually lead.

–Demetra George, p. 50-51, Finding Our Way Through the Dark

Of course this is exactly what J.K. Rowling ultimately did, and is a perfect example of how potent the stationing direct of a retrograde planet like Mercury can be in relation to other aspects, in this case the fact that her progressed Mercury was stationing conjunct her progressed Moon in Leo.  During the next seven years of Rowling’s life, as she began writing the Harry Potter stories, her mother died, she became married, gave birth, became divorced, and battled poverty while writing a story that was ultimately published in 1997, ultimately bringing her great fame and fortune.  In 1997, she most likely would have still been in a progressed Crescent Moon phase, so the idea of writing the book goes strongly with the progressed Crescent phase in which we must struggle to persist in bringing the new identity and vision into form.

When considering the retrograde movement of progressed planets in our birth charts, it is important to not only pay attention to when the planet stations direct, but also when it finally returns by progression to its natal placement if that is possible in our lifetime.  For J.K. Rowling, her progressed Mercury would have returned to zero degrees of Virgo sometime around 2004, again depending upon her birth time.  This is interesting because by this time, Rowling would have already re-married and would have already started a new family with her new partner, and also would have either been writing or finishing up the story of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, having already achieved world-wide acclaim for her stories.  With her progressed Virgo Mercury conjunct her natal Virgo Mercury, she would have been at the stage of making the final part of the story of Harry Potter a reality.  During this time she would have been in a progressed Gibbous Moon phase, meaning she was more at a place of fine tuning her skills in relation to her vision, with a progressed Sun around 15 degrees of Virgo, which actually happens to be the specific “exalted” location of Mercury in Virgo according to ancient text (she would have had a progressed Aquarius Moon at this time).

As I previously mentioned, exactly how and why the progressed chart can be so powerful defies rational logic and is somewhat of a mystery.  One of my favorite descriptions of its meaning comes from my astrology teacher, Rosie Finn:

The transits show us what we are learning about ourselves in “real” time.  They show us how we are able to alter our life as we know it with all of the experiences we have garnered in our life.  The progressions then show us what we are learning despite all of the experiences we have had in this life.  It shows us how we can alter our life without all the collection of “stuff” that has clung to us in this life.  With this understanding, the progressed chart becomes a tool for looking at what is possible for us to change, to learn, to be, regardless of the tapes we collected from childhood, regardless of that bad experience we had in the 8th grade that we continue to recreate, regardless of the titles we give ourselves, etc .  We can use the progressed chart to look at who we have become in the meantime.  And we can use the progressed chart to look at where in our life we can make significant change without this lifetimes collection of tapes.

–Rosie Finn, p. 94, Journey-work of the Stars

Exploring progressed charts is one of my favorite activities involving astrology, and I am always amazed at what can be found through taking the time to investigate various aspects within the progressed chart as well as in synastry to the natal birth chart.  The life of J.K. Rowling is a perfect example of how powerful these charts are to take into consideration.

References

Finn, Rosie. (2011).  Journey-work of the Stars:  how to use astrology on your path to wholeness.

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

Chiron in the Flood of Pisces

centaur reading

Chiron in Pisces: Mediator of Water

  • Chiron stationed retrograde at 14 degrees Pisces on June 17, 2013.
  • Chiron and Neptune have been widely conjunct during the first half of 2013 in Pisces, and will remain together within a wider orb of nine degrees for the next year.  Chiron and Neptune began their current cycle in 2009 when they were exactly conjunct at 27 degrees of Aquarius.
  • Neptune in Pisces is trine Saturn in Scorpio and both are retrograde.  Saturn will be the first to station direct on July 7, 2013.
  • Mercury will station retrograde on June 26 conjunct Venus in Cancer.  Mercury will station direct on July 19   at 14 degrees Cancer in trine to Chiron in Pisces.

Chiron is the teacher and the healer of our inner Hero, the guide to our Hero’s journey.  It is common to limit discussion of Chiron in astrological circles as “the wounded healer,” and while there is truth to that statement, there is also more to Chiron than a healer with a wound.  The Chiron archetype will be an important guide for us during the Summer of 2013 in between the Pluto-Uranus square of May 2013 and the upcoming square of November 2013.  There is a fascinating connection between Chiron and the current Pluto-Uranus cycle because in the mid-1960s when Pluto and Uranus were conjunct in Virgo, Chiron was not only in Pisces, it was in the same vicinity of Pisces as it is now.

Just as the square between Pluto and Uranus connects the current time period with events of the 1960s when Pluto and Uranus were conjunct, so does the transit of Chiron in Pisces.  There was even a grand water trine in 1966 when Pluto and Uranus were in range of being conjunct and Chiron was in Pisces, with Jupiter in Cancer, Saturn in Pisces, and Neptune in Scorpio.  Although this 1966 trine had seven degrees separating Scorpio Neptune from Pisces Saturn and Cancer Jupiter, and so not nearly as significant as the grand water trine happening this Summer with the Pluto-Uranus square happening, it is still a fascinating parallel of the same planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune) being in the three water signs, with Chiron strongly in Pisces amid an intense aspect between Pluto and Uranus.  In the Autumn of 1966 Chiron was conjunct Saturn in Pisces: it’s interesting to ponder how differences between the mid to late 1960s and our current time period could correspond to the differences between Saturn in Pisces with Neptune in Scorpio from Saturn in Scorpio with Neptune in Pisces.   Although there is more and more talk of the Age of Aquarius, we really are still in the Age of Pisces today.  The idea of an approaching Age of Aquarius first took hold of mass consciousness in a big way in the 1960s when Pluto and Uranus were conjunct in Virgo, and during this time period in which they were in range of a conjunction in Virgo, Chiron at times was in range of an opposition to their alignment in the sign of Pisces.  Now that Chiron has returned to this same area of Pisces as the first quarter square between Pluto and Uranus is occurring from that alignment, it makes me think of Chiron in Pisces being a very important archetype in the shift of the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius.

Chiron in Pisces today is holding more harmonious aspects to the Pluto-Uranus intensity, forming a sextile to Pluto in Capricorn and a semi-sextile to Uranus in Aries.  This time period of collective upheaval can be viewed in large extent through the socially liberating energy of Uranus in Aries being in conflict with the energy of Pluto in Capricorn, which has a shadow side of control and manipulation from the dominating power structure.  With Neptune, the planet of illusion, being in the sign of Pisces that can also connect with illusion, it brings the potential for the dominating power structure to attempt to use Neptunian illusions in order to ward off the force of collective liberation that could come with the Uranus in Aries energy.  In the recent news cycle in the USA for example, we can see the veil of our national media removed and that our major news services are commiserate with the power structure as they attempt to spin the coverage of the NSA leaks by Edward Snowden away from an investigation into the actual issue into more of a criminality case against Snowden.  In general, all one has to do is turn on cable television or pick up a copy of a product of the national corporate “journalism” services to find a gluttony of superficial coverage of celebrity scandals, arguments between political “adversaries” that are not even offering solutions to argue about,  and other gossip more than investigative coverage of any of the actually important news events occurring.  It is further interesting that in the USA we have a Pisces Chiron in the White House, as President Obama has a Chiron in Pisces and experienced his Chiron return during his re-election to his second term in office.  It doesn’t take of course an astrology analysis of Chiron to realize President Obama is facing and incredibly complex, intense, wounding, and karmic situation at the moment as being the figurehead leader of the USA during current events, but it is a further interesting astrological layer of the current situation to observe.

On a personal level, the societal upheaval on an economic, political, and structural level has the potential to increase fear and anxiety within individuals, making each person more open to being manipulated on an unconscious level by power players in control of media and mass distribution of information.  This has been especially the case during the last year with Chiron and Neptune conjunct in Pisces, because these archetypes combined magnetise the issues of duality connected with the Pisces archetype that has been such a strong influence during the Age of Pisces.  This duality is connected to the symbolism of the two fish connected by a silvery cord, one fish standing for the “lower nature” of our ego personalities, the other fish standing for the “higher nature” of our Soul that incarnated into our current form.

One reason Pisces have the stereotype applied to them of being addicts and escapists is that it can be even harder for Pisceans than others to escape awareness of their Soul, no matter how much they try to hide from it through drugs and other various escapist activities.  Pisces is also often the target of the “victim” and “martyr” labels, and again this can come from a sense of their timeless Soul nature that can lead to an illusory perception of being trapped in their physical form on the planet, with so many difficult and destructive forces surrounding them in three dimensional consensus reality.  And so while Pisces energy can go along with feeling a sense of connection to Soul, it also has the duality of a sense of separation from Soul and Source, which further increases Piscean tendencies for illusionary pursuits that further contribute to a sense of separation from Source, Spirit, God, . . .  This is one area in which Chiron, a half human and half animal grounded in the physical earth plane, can help us shift our perspective toward seeing the magic around us in our physical form and environment, and that everything we are experiencing and seeing also is connected with the same divine Source.

The previous conjunction cycle between Chiron and Neptune in the 20th Century occurred during great world calamity, toward the end of World War II after the United States of America dropped atomic bombs on Japan to force a surrender (September of 1945 at 6 degrees of Libra).  Chiron and Neptune’s latest cycle began in 2009 when they were conjunct at 27 degrees of Aquarius, another period of global conflict that had some connections to the global power status the United States of America claimed during the previous conjunction between Chiron and Neptune.  Many astrologers connected the conjunction between Chiron and Neptune toward the end of Aquarius with the Age of Aquarius that could be felt approaching at a distance, but a further interesting connection with this section of the zodiac and Neptune is that Neptune was discovered in 1846 when it was at 25 degrees of Aquarius, and Saturn was also at 25 degrees of Aquarius at the same time.  Neptune being discovered when it was conjunct Saturn points to the importance of bridging the two archetypes in order to gain a stronger grasp of Neptunian energies, and Chiron is one of our strongest guides and mediators between the energy of our personal and collective Saturn and Neptune archetypes.

The connection between Chiron, Saturn, and Neptune has been handed down to us through myth, long before the technology of astronomers were able to locate the outer celestial bodies. Chiron is the son of Kronus in Greek myth, so he is literally the son of Saturn just like Neptune, Jupiter, and Pluto.  Chiron’s link to Neptune, however, goes much farther back than merely sharing the same father.  Chiron is literally a matriarchal descendant of an ocean deity even more primordial than Neptune:  Oceanus.  Chiron’s mother was a sea nymph named Philyra who was not only the daughter of Oceanus, according to some accounts she was the second oldest of all the sea nymphs that were borne from Oceanus.  Saturn/Kronus became consumed with desire for Philyra, and in some versions transformed himself into a stallion in order to chase her, and in other accounts after forcing himself upon her sexually, he transformed himself into a stallion in order to disguise himself when he was discovered ravaging her body by his wife, Rhea.

In all mythic versions, this coupling of Saturn as a stallion with the sea nymph Philyra is how the birth of Chiron, half man and half horse, occurred on Mount Pelion.  One of the first wounds of Chiron occurred by him being spurned by his parents for his unorthodox, animalistic form, and he stayed on Mt. Pelion as somewhat of a recluse, one of the original wise hermits in the cave.  Furthermore, there is an even deeper link between Chiron and the ocean realm, because Chiron eventually took another sea nymph as his lover and partner, Chariclo, who was the grand-daughter of Neptune.  Thus Chiron is both the son and the lover of water goddesses, and has as a result a stronger feel for Piscean energy than may be expected without exploring his myth.

The special sense Chiron embodies for the water element and in being a skilled mediator between the energies of Neptune and Saturn is of supreme importance in this moment, as Saturn in Scorpio is moving retrograde in trine to Neptune in Pisces, Jupiter is entering the sign of Cancer, and Mercury and Venus remain conjunct in Cancer.  We can draw upon the Chiron archetype to help us activate the harmonious potential of the developing water trine aspect, as trines in astrology do not guarantee harmonious events and can in fact coincide with lethargy if we do not consciously activate them.  There will be a lot of retrograde energy in water signs before Saturn stations direct in a couple of weeks on July 7, since Chiron and Neptune are retrograde in Pisces, Saturn is retrograde in Scorpio, and Mercury is stationing retrograde in Cancer.

With all of the watery energy and a powerful water trine to Neptune in its own sign of Pisces, we will have to be especially careful of escapist pursuits or illusions leading us to separate from our higher self or our connection to Source/Spirit.  Chiron in Pisces carries this wound of connection to Spirit within it’s archetypes, and so at this time Chiron can help guide us to finding ways to connect with Spirit through healing techniques that can help us consciously move our higher self down through our body.  With Saturn in Scorpio, we will have to be willing to face some deep aspects of ourselves, including shadow sides we may previously have been in denial of, if we want to authentically make our beings more whole in this way- but remember how Pisces Chiron is a perfect mediator between Scorpio Saturn, Pisces Neptune, and Cancer Jupiter.  If we can ground in this manner, we will have an opportunity to evolve ourselves and our growth forward by following our own unique path and our special gifts and talents that may not typically fit in with the dominant culture.  Chiron was the trainer of heroes and the guide in their hero’s journey, and so by developing and following through with practices at this time, such as creating time and a schedule for a daily journal practice, creative art practice, meditative practice, yoga practice, physical exercise practice of any sort . . . we can create structures to express the deep desires and emotions that could arise at this time.

The retrograde connection between Chiron and Mercury will remain of great significance in the next month, as Mercury will station retrograde on June 26 and then station on July 19 at 14 degrees of Cancer in trine to Chiron.  After the upcoming retrograde movement of Mercury finishes when it stations in trine to Chiron next month, we may gain a greater ability to manifest tangible results of visions we planted back in February of 2013 when Mercury was in Pisces and conjunct Mars, Neptune, and Chiron.  Aspects of the vision brewing inside us have been triggered in this recent time period, as Mars in Gemini has been in square to Chiron at the same time Chiron stationed retrograde.  The full dates are as follows:

  • Around February 8, 2013 Mercury was conjunct Mars at 5 degrees Pisces and also conjunct Chiron at 7 degrees and Neptune at 3 degrees of Pisces.  In the following days, first Mercury and then Mars became exactly conjunct Chiron in Pisces.
  • Around May 21, 2013 Mercury was conjunct Venus in Gemini and square to Chiron at 14 degrees of Pisces.  This square happened immediately following an exact square between Capricorn Pluto and Aries Uranus.
  • Around June 10, 2013 Mercury was conjunct Venus in Cancer and in trine to Chiron in Pisces.
  • Around June 19, 2013 Mars in Gemini formed a square with Chiron in Pisces as Chiron stationed retrograde at 14 degrees of Pisces.

These aspects between Mercury, Mars, and Chiron have been significant for everyone but especially anyone with planets or key chart aspects in mutable signs from zero to fifteen degrees or so (Gemini, Sagitarius, Virgo, Pisces).  We may have had trouble recently finding a way to rationally understand our perceptions or sense of phenomenon in our dreams or waking states that do not fit into the neat categories of linear and rational thought aspired to by the dominant culture.  We also may have been having difficulty communicating our experiences in a way that can be understood clearly by others, and with Mercury about to move retrograde we may need to let go of attachment to being understood and instead focus on understanding for ourselves what is happening inside of us.

The flood of emotions and extrasensory perception we could have been experiencing connected with Chiron and Neptune in Pisces could be better understood by withdrawing from external influences into the metaphorical cave of Chiron, but if we have been tapped into media sources of the dominant culture during this time or a participant in social media sites and sources, we instead would have been overwhelmed by a deluge of information thrown at us by authorities of all sorts, from genuine experts, to culturally appointed experts, to self-proclaimed experts utilizing the Internet to self-publish their thoughts.  There have also been revolutions breaking out on the global stage in places as diverse as Turkey and Brazil during this time period, and while in the larger context these events correlate more with the square between Uranus and Pluto than personal planet aspects to Chiron, it is still important to consider Chiron was being aspected at the same time.  In these  revolutionary events the liberating force of individuals using social media to cover the news has been helpful as these events have had relatively small amounts of coverage by major news services.  For example, I am fortunate to have a friend in Turkey through which I was able to gain access to a lot of images and news coverage of events there through his social media profile.

However we have been triggered by this flood of feelings and information recently, though, most likely is connected to important Soul work or issues for us to face.  A perfect example of how to use the heroic gift of Pisces Chiron at this time is Texas state Senator Wendy Davis, who is going through a Chiron return at the moment with a natal Chiron at fourteen degrees of Pisces, and is engaging in an attempt to pull off an all-day filibuster in the Texas state Senate to single-handedly prevent a passage of a controversial abortion bill that the Governor had to call a special session to attempt to pull-off in the first place.  Her North Node of the Moon is also conjunct the current placement of Mercury in Cancer, and Mars in Gemini is square her natal Chiron, so her chart is being strongly aspected by the Chiron-Mars-Mercury cycle as she takes her heroic stand.  Chiron does provide the sort of gift we can pull up from deep within ourselves at a time of crisis, and achieve success and rewards against all odds.

Similarly, the grand water trine we will experience this Summer between Neptune in Pisces, Saturn in Scorpio, and Jupiter in Cancer has the potential for euphoric and magical experiences, as well as the potential to coincide with watery chaos and emotional crises- however, if we can access our source of Chiron strength we can make heroic strides forward no matter what happens.  Paying attention to the Chiron archetype and how his retrograde movement  through Pisces can correlate to opportunities for us to take charge of our own heroic journey will be helpful.

chiron with apollo and asclepius

Guru of Plants, Planets, and Spirit

Chiron in myth held the role of a guru of the heavens and the earth,  as he was a teacher, trainer, and healer who was skilled in hunting, martial arts, gymnastics, music, medicine, herbalism, astrology, and the arts of prophecy, to name but a few of his talents.  He was a master of channeling divine energy through these outlets, similar to a yogic or qi gong master, shaman, or a musician on the highest level of divine expression through their art.  Chiron is a guide to the connection of our mind, body, and spirit because he understood the divine source of everything on our planet.  He was an herbalist who was well-versed in medicinal uses and applications of plant beings, and he was also an astrologer who was well-versed in the medicine of the stars and their movements and interactions.  Chiron lived from a sense of everything being connected to Source and Spirit, so stands as a teacher for us that our conflicts with life are often connected to our struggles with the external forms of matter in our environment, but that if we open our perception to the awareness that all of these forms we may struggle with also have the same divine Source as we do, we can persist in merging with love through all of our difficulties and help others in their own struggles as well.

The celestial body of Chiron was discovered on November 1, 1977 and it has been theorized by many astrologers that since that time we have had a greater capacity to connect our mind, body, and spirit as a collective species. The Saturn connection to Chiron is interesting because Saturn was at the very end of Leo when Chiron was discovered, so brings an energy of the culmination of the Leo hero’s journey to the Chiron birth chart.  In Evolutionary Astrology, astrologer Rose Marcus has connected the significance of Chiron to “peak experiences” in our lifetime as well as the deep past life history of our Soul that are connected to our special destiny, legacy, and path.  I saw her lecture on Chiron at the 2012 Evolutionary Astrology Conference, in which she described how Chiron carries a dense magnetic frequency that correlates with our most significant and lucid memories, how the Chiron archetype will be involved in our own peak experiences, and how we can also be a catalyst for activating other people’s key issues when we step into our own Chiron archetype.  Rose explained that Chiron can connect with our wounding issues that have been repeating and devastating across lifetimes, but at the same time Chiron can also correlate with extraordinary resources we can find within ourselves to face the tests and challenges of our journey.  In this way, Rose connected Chiron to the Virgo and Sixth house archetypes in the Evolutionary Astrology paradigm because of Chiron guiding us to use our crises as vehicles for our own growth.

Barbara Hand Clow, who wrote the pioneering and definitive classic text on Chiron, Chiron: Rainbow Bridge Between the Inner and Outer Planets, also connected Chiron with the Sixth House and the Virgo archetype.  There is also an interesting connection between Saturn and Chiron with the Virgo archetype in the time period that Chiron entered astrological awareness as a distinct celestial body, because although Chiron was discovered when Saturn was at the very end of Leo, after a couple of weeks following the discovery Saturn shifted into Virgo.  As a result, most people born in the period following the discovery of Chiron, meaning the first people born who have a higher potential ability to integrate the lessons of the Chiron archetype, were born with Saturn in Virgo.  Fittingly enough, this group of Souls went through their first Saturn return just in time for these cataclysmic times of the Pluto-Uranus square, again giving them a better chance to access the gifts of Chiron to help all of us on the planet at this time.

Virgo is the polarity to Pisces, and an important archetype to help understand how to access the gifts of the Chiron archetype at any time, but especially now with Chiron and Neptune in Pisces.  One way Chiron can help everyone better understand their own connection to the Pisces archetype through Virgo is by making the famous “silvery cord” connecting the two fish of Pisces more tangible and conscious.  One fish of Pisces of course represents the personality side of ourselves, while the other fish represents our Soul nature- they are connected in Pisces irrevocably through a silver cord, which is why Pisceans can never escape the challenges of our personality connection to our Souls and Source discussed earlier.  Alan Oken gave a concise description of the deep esoteric significance Virgo brings to this aspect of the Pisces archetype in his book Soul Centered Astrology: A Key to Your Expanding Self:

The string is the symbol of the Antahkarana- the silvery cord linking the personality and the Soul, the darkness and the Light.  It is formulated out of the substance of the mental plane, thus requiring the discriminating focus of Virgo and Mercury in its construction.  Once the Antahkarana/Rainbow Bridge is forged, one can then traverse the various planes and fields of consciousness and not lose one’s way.  This is the Thread of the Warrior/Disciple, who goes forth in the act of self-sacrifice, in order to do battle for the unfolding purpose of the Plan.

–Alan Oken, Soul Centered Astrology (p. 243)

The Mercurial functions of discrimination and discernment can be developed into sharper focus for us at this time, even with Mercury stationing retrograde, through practice and daily ritual. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and other forms of spiritual practice are Virgo techniques similar to spiritual practices of the Chiron of myth, and can be helpful tools for us in this flooded time of Piscean emotional currents.  Since there have been a series of squares to Chiron in Pisces from the sign of Gemini, with Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, and Mars all moving through Gemini in square to Chiron this past Spring, we may have been distracted with a busy and hectic schedule or a mass of information to process in some way.  However, even closing our eyes and meditating or just breathing with intention for ten or fifteen minutes, whatever we can manage, can be extremely helpful in this upcoming time period.

The vast expanse of knowledge held by Chiron is interesting considering how in this upcoming Summer, Jupiter will move into a trine apect through Cancer with Chiron (especially toward the end of July through August of 2013) giving us an opportunity to draw upon knowledge and resources found in recent challenges to propel us forward.  This aspect is in stark contrast to what had been happening this past year, as from July 0f 2012 through April of 2013, Jupiter was in Gemini and in a square aspect to Chiron in Pisces.  This square could have been felt in part by how our psychic sensitivities are impacted by the flood of information we can be bombarded with when connected to modern technology and social media platforms.  On the one hand the social media outlets are liberating because anyone can start writing and publishing their thoughts on a blog, but on the other hand this liberation can be overwhelming when trying to sift through the sheer volume of information for what to focus on with the time available.

With Mercury about to station into a retrograde motion, developing and practicing techniques that will help guide us toward greater discernment with our intuition will be helpful for us finding our unique path to follow at this time.  Most likely significant opportunities will present themselves, so it will be up to us to make choices aligned with our highest intention for the highest good for ourselves and other beings.  If we have experienced crises or wounding during this past year of Jupiter in Gemini squaring Chiron in Pisces, or simply confusion over which direction to follow, through our own self-care, healing, and giving and receiving of love with others we will be entering a time in which we can find a gift or special skill to take from past turmoil.

The conflict between Jupiter in Gemini and Chiron in Pisces that happened this past year has its own divine source in the ancient myths of Greece.  Jupiter and Chiron have had their issues before our day:

chiron invite achilles

Entering the Cave of Chiron

Thetis was a sea nymph of great importance in ancient times.  In some versions she is not given greater importance than her description of being a sea nymph, but other mythic researchers have found evidence that in ancient times she was much more important and an integral manifestation of the Great Goddess.  She is widely known as the mother of Achilles, who gave her son to Chiron to raise and draw out his special skills and capacities.  There was a prophecy regarding the greatness of the son of Thetis that made Zeus afraid that her offspring could dethrone him as he had dethroned his own father.  Zeus helped arrange a marriage between Thetis and a mortal, Peleus, and their wedding happened outside the cave of Chiron on Mt. Pelion and was attended by most of the deities.  However, one was not invited who goes by the name of Eris, and so this wedding outside the cave of Chiron is the scene upon which Eris threw her golden apple out of vengeance, an action that ultimately led to the decision of Paris and the Trojan War.

The cave of Chiron being the scene of the source of the vengeful desire of Eris is a core wound of our collective culture.  I remember being in an 8th Grade English class near Atlanta, Georgia in the USA in which we analyzed this mythic scene, and it seems to still be a widespread mythic scene in our collective educational backgrounds if you are from a “Western” influenced or culturally dominated background.  It’s also a wound we as astrology students and teachers need to figure out in a Chiron manner, as Eris is the a recent addition to our astrological paradigm and her full meaning is still being worked out by astrologers.

The cave of Chiron is an apt symbol for the training ground of our hero’s journey, as Chiron was famous for training the most praised heroes of ancient myth, having the ability to draw attention to their unique talents and help them develop their natural gifts into extraordinary strengths that would help them persist through unfathomable difficulties that became the stuff of legend.  Chiron was not only the trainer of warrior heroes, however, but also medicinal ones.  Asclepius, considered to be the mythic master of medicine, was his most famous pupil in the healing arts, and so Chiron in this way is also considered to be a father of medicine and surgical practices.  The mind-body-spirit connection of Chiron is evident in the holistic healing practices associated with Asclepius, which included patients going to sleep in special chambers in which the act of dreaming itself healed their wounds, or at other times the healing could be helped through dream interpretation made by healers trained in the methodology of Asclepius.

We enter the cave of Chiron whenever we enter a space in which we have the opportunity for self-transformation, healing, and gaining greater awareness and access to special skills and resources we have to offer the world.  If we have ever been in a classroom with a powerful teacher who struck us on a deep level to our core, we have been in the cave of Chiron.  Being a teacher is one of the most obvious outlets for Chiron energy, and this connection was illuminated in literature by John Updike in his novel The Centaur, in which he used myth in the way of James Joyce by re-telling the story of Chiron through a novel about a public school teacher in a mid-twentieth century small rural town in the USA.  In this novel Updike also integrates the mythic connection between Chiron and Prometheus, and as I haven’t mentioned this widely commented upon connection yet in this article, allow me to remind you that another time Chiron mediated a conflict involving Jupter was when he gave of his own immortality in order to release Prometheus from the bondage of being punished by Jupiter for giving fire to humanity.  As there are some versions of myth in which Prometheus is actually the creator of humanity, Chiron giving of himself to release a deity who in some myths is responsible for the creation of humanity and in others is the source of our knowledge of fire and all of the creativity that followed, is profound and is not unlike an action of a Christ figure.  The fact that Chiron was drawn to do this in part because of being tormented by the pain of being an immortal who was struck by a poisoned arrow of Hercules, is one of the main reasons why the Chiron archetype has become associated with being a wounded healer for our humanity.

As is often the case, when an archetype like Chiron is prominent, other archetypes that connect with similar themes will also become prominent, and that is certainly the case right now.  Lilith is another popular symbol of our wounding and in the larger context something Chiron could be holding space for us.  The triple goddess aspects of Lilith in astrology are all going through significant transits right now:

  • Original Lilith (asteroid #1181) is currently at 13 degrees Gemini and so is square to Chiron as well as recently conjunct Mars.
  • Dark Moon Lilith (hypothetical celestial body) is moving through Cancer in range of being conjunct Mercury, Venus, and Vesta at the moment.  At the time of the Summer Solstice it was opposite Pluto in Capricorn and in square to Uranus in Aries.
  • Black Moon Lilith, the Resolution Lilith (an energy vortex that is the “other” focal point of the Moon’s ellipitical orbit besides Earth) is at 6 degrees of Cancer and so is also in range of being in a T-Square with Pluto and Uranus, and was also strongly aspected by the Full Moon on June 23.

Demetra George in Finding Our Way Through the Dark gave a widely used description of these three phases of Lilith, in which the asteroid Lilith “describes the first stage of Lilith’s mythical journey where she is suppressed, humiliated, and flees in a fiery rage to the desolate wilderness,” the Dark Moon Lilith “depicts the pain of her exile where she plots and executes her revenge,” and the Black Moon Lilith “shows how she transmutes her distorted image back into its natural healthy expression” (p. 92).  The fact the original Lilith has been squaring Chiron and was recently conjunct Mars could correlate with a core wound being activated in our psyche, and yet the healer side of the Chiron archetype is also present with Lilith at this time as the resolution aspect, the Black Moon Lilith, is also being strongly activated now.

And as if these intense aspects involving Lilith isn’t enough, there are also some fascinating transits occurring now that involve asteroid Goddesses associated with the Soul, working with the Soul, healing and retrieval of our Soul:

In totality all of these transits involving such powerful feminine archetypes of the Soul mean that this is an incredibly deep time period of huge feelings and experiences.  To me, one of the greatest tools we can use at this time, again keeping the archetype of Chiron in mind as a guide, is to create a practice of Art to move the energy.

poète mort porté par un centaure

Chiron holds the Art of our wounds

One of the connections between the Chiron archetype and the archetype of the artist can be seen in the following quote from an art review I found in The Chicago Reader about the above watercolor by Gustave Moreau from 1890, Dead Poet Borne by a Centaur:

The centaur often symbolizes Dionysian violence and intoxication, and here he bears the dead poet in his arms. Some have interpreted this image not as the union of warring opposites, however, but as a pessimistic reflection on the artist’s lot in modern times. As turn-of-the-century writer Ary Renan said about this work: “How many have perished without funerals at the bottom of solitary streams? To be sure, sometimes a charitable centaur gathers up the victim.

from http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/french-revelations/Content?oid=898763

Chiron as a wounded healer archetype certainly connects him with all of the great artists throughout time who put all of their heart and soul into their art, posthumously inspiring a large audience drawn to the specific quality of their art,  and facilitating healing for many people who could draw strength and compassion for themselves through experiencing their creative work. And yet the wound for these artists was that in the actual time-frame of their existence they often lived through pain and torment, lacking an audience or material rewards for their work.  However, no matter what difficulty some of these artists could have experienced in their material life, through the act of creating their art they could reach a blissful state that would be it’s own reward.  Moreover, the gift of healing and inspiration such artists leave for those with similar sensibilities to find and gain strength to continue on their own unique path is incalculable and has deep resonance with the quality of wounded healing associated with Chiron.

During these intense karmic times, we can work with our Chiron wounding through expressing our feelings through art and releasing the energy in the process.  Unfortunately, for many of us the actual creation of art can be one of our Chironic wounds, and so we tend to hold ourselves back from creating.  A beautiful book to work with during this time if you have not already is Julie Cameron’s The Artist’s Way in which she provides activities and questions to help the reader break out of any restrictive writer’s or artist’s blocks limiting their ability to express themselves.  One of the basic techniques of the book is a daily journaling activity in which after waking up in the morning you write three pages of writing as quickly as possible, thinking about it as little as possible.  It is amazing what can start to open up for you as you engage in this practice.  I also like this book because Cameron connects the creation of Art with it being a spiritual practice:  “We are, ourselves, creations,” she writes, “And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.”  Her central theme in the book is that by opening ourselves up to our own creativity, we open ourselves to a greater connection with Spirit and the capacity to develop our unique gifts and live the full potential of our lives some of us merely dream of instead of actually actualizing.  This lesson that making the creation of art a daily practice, habit, and ritual in our lives will open up a greater spiritual dimension and holistic feeling of healing in our lives is a very Chironic lesson to me.  Any practice you can develop for yourself at this time that will provide an outlet for your sense of Spirit and expression of creativity will bring a smile to the face of Chiron and will be good medicine for your Soul.

Gemini and the Ugly Duckling

Aphrodite_swan_BM_D2

Gemini New Moon: meetings of Mercury & Venus

The Lunar Eclipse on May 24 occurred at the same time that Mercury and Venus were conjunct at 19 degrees of Gemini, also in range of being conjunct Jupiter.  In June the cycle continues, as Venus and Mercury will be conjunct again, magically, at the time of the Summer Solstice.  There is some incredible synchronicity in their cycle of the moment, as the same degree of Gemini at which they were conjunct during the Lunar Eclipse on May 24 is the same degree as the New Moon in Gemini that will be occurring this week on June 8.  In his book An Astrological Mandala, Dane Rudyhar’s analysis of this Gemini degree is intriguing in connection with intentions we can set for ourselves at this time (p. 102):

Gemini 19: A LARGE ARCHAIC VOLUME REVEALS A TRADITIONAL WISDOM.

Keynote:  Contacting the all-human planetary Mind underlying any cultural and personal mentality.

Occult tradition tells us that all cyclic manifestations of the human mind have had a primordial revelatory Source. It speaks of ancient books made of especially treated papyrus leaves and conveying through symbols the archetypal processes at the root of all earthly existence. Such volumes, said to remain in the possession of certain Adepts, constitute the “exteriorization” of archetypal knowledge and wisdom. They contain the “seed-ideas” from which the human mind grows, cyclically producing cultures of various types.

What sorts of archaic volumes of traditional wisdom are accessible to people today? With the Internet, people have more access to ancient sources of wisdom than ever before.  In our earliest development, however, one of the first sources of traditional wisdom we experienced were found in Fairy Tales and picture books read to us when our language comprehension was first developing.  Through Fairy Tales we gained an archetypal sense and understanding for a number of important lessons in life, but especially in how to individuate, evolve our consciousness, and find our true path in the world.  As toddlers we could sense the great truth of these stories, and it is why the “hero’s journey” is so widely popular in analysis of myth- because it is true.  There is timeless wisdom integrated into each unique hero and heroine’s journey that appears in Fairy Tales.  Telling stories is a Gemini association, and a function of Gemini spirituality.  In Fire in the Head:  Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit, author Tom Cowan relayed some of his research into the spiritual role played by storytellers in Celtic culture:

Alwyn and Brinley Rees note that the Latin word historia, from which the word story derives, is also the root for the word history, a term originally meaning “knowing,” “learned,” and “wise.”  In old Welsh the word for story meant “guidance,” “direction,” and “instruction.”  The stem for the Welsh term meant “sign,” “symbol,” “omen,” and “miracle.”  The Rees’s conclusion to this etymological puzzle is that the ancient Welsh  storyteller was indeed a seer and teacher “who guided the souls of his hearers through the world of ‘mystery’.”  Thus we find the Celtic storytellers fulfilling one of the important roles played by classical shamans, the guider and instructor of souls.

–Tom Cowan, Fire in the Head, p. 99

A Fairy Tale that has re-emerged for me in the midst of the intense astrological energy of the moment is The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson.  This is in part due to some synchronicity of events at my daughter’s elementary school.  Every year, the students observe the hatching of ducklings from eggs, that then spend some time growing up in the garden on school grounds that is tended by parents, community volunteers, teachers, and students.  In the past, my daughters and I have been part of the duckling caregiving team.  This year, something inexplicable happened:  a chick, baby chicken, was hatched among the ducklings.  The students gave her the endearing name, “Chuck,” and this chicken growing up among ducks brings up one of the most famous fairy tales of identity crisis: The Ugly Duckling.

I feel the story of the ugly duckling connects with this time and the reflection of this time in the transits of the celestial heavens, because the Uranus archetype wants us to find our own unique role, being, vibration, and behavior in the world at this time that can bring us most alive and so will help bring our collective the most alive in the process.  We are being tested in the face of authoritarian control and suppression, oppression visible in every direction we turn.  We can think of the energy needed being like the piercing call of a hawk streaking across the sky, but in reality it can be as gentle as a swan gazing at itself in the reflection of the water.  The symbolism of seeing your authentic reflection in the water is the same as the symbolism of mirrors that can be connected to the seasonal archetype of Gemini we are living in.  The idea of the twin searching for it’s other twin in the world, its soul mate- is connected ultimately for our search for our authentic self we long to find one day when looking at our self in the mirror.

Gemini Dreaming

This potential for the excitable Gemini mind of the personality to contemplatively connect with it’s authentic self and soul connects with the symbolism of The Ugly Duckling as well as the current cycle of conjunctions between Mercury and Venus.  This is because there will be another conjunction between Mercury and Venus in the next couple of weeks as Mercury begins to station to go retrograde, giving Venus the opportunity to “catch up.”  Like magic, this next conjunction will occur on our Summer Solstice of this year, at the same time there will be a grand water trine between Jupiter in Cancer, Neptune in Pisces, and Saturn in Scorpio.    The Sabian Symbol for 22 degrees of Cancer, the degree of the next conjunction between Mercury and Venus, also fits perfectly with the meaning of the seminal swan story by Hans Christian Andersen:

Cancer 22:  A young woman awaiting a sailboat.

Keynote:  The longing for transcendent happiness in the soul opened to great dreams.

Here the symbol pictures the imaginative youthful person who basically cannot be satisfied with what his or her ordinary social environment offers, and who instead is longing for the unknown visitation of which he or she has dreamed.  From the unconscious beyond, the concretization of a spiritual image- spiritual because impelled by the “wind” (pneuma, spirit)- is hoped for and expected.  The Beloved may come- not in a glittering opera house, but in the silence of the inner sea of consciousness.

–Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala, p. 125

Indeed, finding symbolic meaning in water birds like swans can be especially resonant now, as we are wading into a water time of the zodiac with Neptune in Pisces currently stationing in preparation to turn retrograde this week, at the same time as the upcoming New Moon in Gemini on June 8.  In addition, Mercury and Venus are both in Cancer now, with Mercury currently in the position of forming a grand water trine with Pisces Neptune and Scorpio Saturn, and Venus preparing to enter a grand water trine with Neptune and Saturn soon. However, we can not expect this current water trine involving some personal planets, as well as the upcoming grand water trine involving Jupiter to be “easy,” as each water trine will be incredibly activated by the square between Uranus and Pluto.  This is especially true now in the moment, with Mercury and Venus in Cancer and slipping into the empty degree of the t-square with Pluto and Uranus, being opposite to Pluto and in square to Uranus.  The image of water birds, beings at home in the air, on land, or in water, could be helpful guides for us at this time.  In the Celtic spirituality, water birds are sacred because of their grace in navigating all three of these elements: earth, water, and air.  Think of a swan gliding gracefully across the surface of the water with all of the external turbulence of the world around it.

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The version of The Ugly Duckling written by Hans Christian Andersen was originally published in 1845, fittingly enough in the same time period that Neptune was discovered, and a few years before the last time that Neptune entered Pisces.  In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes describes his story as being about “the archetype of the unusual and the dispossessed,” and a timeless lesson at that:

“The Ugly Duckling” has been one of the few stories to encourage successive generations of “outsiders” to hold on till they find their own.  It is a psychological and spiritual root story.  A root story is one that contains a truth so fundamental to human development that without integration of this fact further progression is shaky, and one cannot entirely prosper psychologically until this point is realized.

–Clarissa Pinkola Estes, p. 167

In Han Christian Anderson’s story The Ugly Duckling, a swan egg gets mixed in with a duck’s nest, and so the mother duck raises the baby swan along with her ducklings and everyone thinks the swan is a duck.  The ducks ostracize the young swan because of his differences, forcing him on a journey where he experiences devastating setbacks over and over again.  During his difficulties the immature swan sees graceful adult swans flying above him and feels a deep calling rise up from inside.  After growing up through his trials, and while resting for a moment in water, he glances down and sees in the water’s reflection that he is in fact a swan, leading him to find a new home in a swan community.

Finding your calling and being brave enough to follow it is a plot that has dominated myths and folktales across time and still to this day is widespread in popular and cult storytelling. As children we are enchanted with the idea of having a Fairy Godmother, a guardian angel, a guiding star, or other magical being, who will help us find our path.  What if a spirit guide is actually inside each of us? Our culture is quick to label the agonizing awkwardness we can experience like the ugly duckling to be mental health issues.  We can be led to believe we are crazy from following the intuitive insight that can come from watching the flight of a bird.  But there is a guide inside each of us that will resonate with experiences that help us find our true calling- the more you try to get in touch with this inner vibration the more clear its advice to you will be.

In my own life I have had times of feeling like I was aimlessly wandering just like the young swan, when now from a distance I can see how that sense of aimlessness was an illusion; I can see how that difficult time was a gift to develop new strength.  I may have felt like I wasn’t making enough money or producing something that would be praised by my culture; I may have felt like I was mired in darkness.  However, I was really in a process of transformation due to facing myself on a deep level.  When we are willing to dive into the depths of our being we create the possibility that we can re-surface with a transformed perspective that can help manifest fulfillment.  Whenever we intuitively experience the rush of excitement that the young swan felt when seeing adult swans, we should follow it.  To interpret the sight of our own majestic swans to be the illusion is tragic.  In the moment when we choose to view reality as being about only the difficulties we are facing, we neglect the fact that we may be in the process of transforming into something transcendent to our current troubles.  In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes sums up the meaning for her of The Ugly Duckling as follows:

The duckling of the story is symbolic of the wild nature, which, when pressed into circumstances of little nurture, instinctively strives to continue no matter what.  The wild nature instinctively holds on and holds out, sometimes with style, other times with little grace, but holds on nevertheless . . .

The other important aspect of the story is that when an individual’s particular kind of soulfulness, which is both an instinctual and a spiritual identity, is surrounded by psychic acknowledgment and acceptance, that person feels life and power as never before.  Ascertaining one’s own psychic family brings a person vitality and belongingness.

–Clarissa Pinkola Estes, p. 172

So I invite you to listen- to truly listen to the world around you and the wisdom that can be found everywhere on your path.  Inspiration can strike anywhere, anytime.  If you listen without the filters you have developed on account of others in your culture or a family of origin that did not resonate with your inner self, you will discover significance in places you otherwise would have overlooked.  You will gain a sense that whatever is happening to you right now is just part of your process, part of your calling, part of your story.

swan

References

Cowan, Tom. (1993). Fire in the Head:  Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit. HarperSan Francisco.

Estes, Clarissa Pinkola (1992). Women Who Run with the Wolves:  Myths and Stories of the Wild Women Archetype.  Ballantine Books.

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

Pleiades in midst of Midspring Eclipses

pleiades

Pleiades:  Seven Sisters

Whenever Mercury enters the sign of Gemini as it did on 5/15/13, it  is thought of as Mercury returning “home,” since Mercury rules Gemini.  Yet this is even more true according to myth, as Hermes is the son of the Pleiadian sister Maia (the Pleiades are seven sisters in Greek Myth), and the Pleiades star constellation is located at the end of Taurus and the beginning of Gemini in the zodiac.  Thus, every time Mercury heads into Gemini, he is coming home to his mother and aunts, as the Pleiades bridge Taurus and Gemini, and the main star of the Pleiades, Alcyone, is located at 0-1 degrees Gemini.  However, there is even more reason to honor the Pleiades right now than the fact that Mercury has come home to them in the zodiac, as the Pleiades star constellation is being hit with a lot of major transits connected with eclipses.  During the recent Solar Eclipse on May 9, Venus was moving across the Pleiades star constellation, with the Moon soon to be conjunct Venus and the Pleiades on May 10, 2013.  Furthermore, on May 15 today Mercury is currently conjunct the Pleiades and in range of a conjunction with Venus, en route to being exactly conjunct Venus at 19 degrees Gemini on May 24 (Mercury-Venus will also be four degrees away from Jupiter at this time).  When Mercury and Venus are conjunct on May 24, there will also be a Lunar Eclipse occurring in which the Sun will be conjunct the Pleiades by four degrees, and the Moon will be opposite the Pleiades.  If that isn’t enough intense Pleiadian energy for you, the Sun will be conjunct the Pleiades on May 20 when we will have another exact square between Pluto and Uranus.  So much Pleiadian energy being stirred up in between two eclipses is fitting, because in between these eclipses we have entered a vortex of time and space out of which deep change can manifest in our life, and the visual of the mesmerizing star constellation of the Pleiades in the night sky looks like a spiral vortex we could transport ourselves through.  When the Pleiades came in with the recent Solar Eclipse through Venus transiting it at the same time as the eclipse, my astrology teacher Rosie Finn wrote the following interpretation for 5/10/13 in her monthly newsletter, Plants and Planets:

The Pleiades are so good at teaching us how to live a beautiful life on this planet, how to love and enjoy life, how to get the most out of our trip here and how to evolve just enough to stay and just enough to not feel stuck here.  The world is full of possibility and there is abundance- in this world at this time and it is accessible to us, when we vibrate with abundance possibility, open our inner eyes to see, and can recognize the resonance of our true longing in alignment with that which matches that longing in the world.

–Rosie Finn, Plants and Planets, May 2013

I still remember the first time I was struck by the beauty of the Pleiades, in a starry night sky above the Appalachian aka Blue Ridge mountains of Georgia in the Southeast USA.  There is something alluring and magical about the shape of this spiral constellation to the human eye, and it does have a strong resonance with human beings as the Pleiades have been channelled into books by a number of authors, including the Pleiadian Agenda by astrologer Barbara Hand Clow.  Clow in this book describes the bond and connection between the Pleiades and Earth as resulting from a karmic obligation initiated by Pleiadian entities in ancient times on Earth, and this is similar to other channelled work in the sense of the Pleiades being able to have a direct connection with human beings.  In many interpretations of Pleiades energy, as in the passage above by Rosie Finn, the Pleiades are described as having an energy that resonates with life on earth for humans and has wise beneficial  guidance for how humans can survive and thrive on a higher level on this planet.  As in the quote above, this resonance is often described in terms of aligning the desires of Taurus with the thoughts and expressions of Gemini, aligning our minds and bodies so that we are more truly in alignment with what we want to truly manifest in our lives, and being mindful of the vibration we are emanating with our being.  According to many authors, the Pleiades hold the belief that we can manifest abundance in our lives through our intention and vibration, as well as communicate with one another instantly and telepathically without the use of cell phones or instant messaging (cell phones and instant messaging serving as signs revealing our actual potential in this case).  The Pleiades are also here to help spark and facilitate human evolution according to many of the channelling authors, and so to me this connects them with the Esoteric Astrology development of the sign of Gemini from a subjective mind relating others to self, through a more objective mind that is able to relate the self to others, and ultimately to a wholistic mind that is able to relate the One (Spirit/Source/God) to self and to others, synthesizing “lower” mind issues to serve the “higher” mind (Oken, p. 177).

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It would be wise to keep in mind that the Pleiades will be associated with one of the most intense and significant astrological events of this time period on May 20, 2013 when the Sun will be conjunct the Pleiades at the same time that Pluto and Uranus will be in an exact square aspect.  This will be the third of seven squares between Pluto and Uranus (from June 24, 2012 until April 4, 2015), and so has been associated with third chakra issues by many astrologers, including my astrology teacher Rosie Finn who believes it will connect with us aligning our personal Will with divine Will.  Some Third Chakra issues from Anodea Judith’s book Eastern Body Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self that could be helpful to keep in mind at this time are as follows (p. 166-7):

Balanced Characteristics:  Responsible, Reliable, Balanced effective will, Warmth in personality, Playfulness, Confidence, Appropriate self-discipline, Able to meet challenges, Sense of one’s personal power.

Traumas and Abuses:  Shaming, Authoritarianism, Volatile situations, Domination of will, Physical abuse, Enmeshment, Inherited shame from parent, Age inappropriate responsibilities (parentified child)

Deficiency:  Low energy, Weak will, easily manipulated, Poor self-discipline, Low self-esteem, Cold emotionally, Victim mentality, Unreliable, Poor Digestion

Excess:  Overly aggressive, Need to be right, Manipulative, Temper tantrums, Stubborness, Driving ambition, Competitive, Arrogant, Hyperactive

Healing Practices:  Risk taking (deficiency), Grounding and emotional contact, Deep relaxation and stress control (excess), Vigorous exercise, Psychotherapy or other methods to build ego strength, release or contain anger, work on shame issues, strengthen the will, and encourage autonomy

How exactly could the Pleiades help us at this time?  To me, that is part of the mystery of it all, and part of the great mystery I associate with the Pleiades.  No matter how many different interpretations, stories, and analyses I read regarding the Pleiades, I always feel that there is much more involved with them than is being communicated through language.  However, since they are located at a bridge juncture in the zodiac between Taurus and Gemini, it makes sense that they would integrate lessons that can come from the connection between Taurus and Gemini:  issues we have with our Mind-Body connection, since Taurus is the sign of human form, and Gemini is the the sign of human mind.  One interesting mind-body connection was described by herbalist Carol Trasatto in the May 2013 issue of Plants and Planets (she is the “plants” to Rosie’s “planets”), in which she references how scientists have now discovered a vast network of 500 neurons line our guts, so that our stomach is really like a “second brain” for us.  Carol wisely notes that similar to how we can be misled by the misperceptions of our minds, so can our guts mislead us at times due to previous issues, wounding, and trauma.  She writes:

Our perception- even somatic, gut-level perception- has been overlaid with imprints of previous experience, messaging, and sensation.  Our physical and energy bodies are repositories of impressions; we are dealing with layers of information when we tune into our body wisdom.  To most benefit from what our body can tell us, our work is to sensitize our awareness, refine our recognition of sensations, and then also to cultivate discernment regarding whether the messages reflect something true about the present moment or are an echo of habituated protection, now keeping us from experiencing the next level of intimacy with ourselves . . . For instance, physical intimacy with a new beloved may trigger gut sensations felt as fear, anger, shame, discomfort, anxiety, even panic in someone who was violated by touch in the past . . . Rather than rejecting the current lover, the person with such body memories could choose to use the safety of the present dynamic to first recognize and then explore these stored sensations- and work to heal them with the love energy presenting itself as medicine.  “Trusting the gut” in such an instance requires self-awareness, courage, and the willingness to understand one’s experience . . . and allow it to transform.

— Carol Trasatto, Plants and Planets, May 2013

The sort of wisdom cultivated by people who work closely with our Earth, such as the herbalist Carol Trasatto, is the type of wisdom I associate with the Pleiades, a star constellation that has had a large and diverse cultural following across our planet since ancient times, well beyond the confines of Greek or Mediterranean culture- especially among indigenous people of the “Americas.”  In the same edition of her monthly newsletter, Carol gave an illuminating description of Third Chakra issues that I feel is very timely in connection with the approaching Pluto-Uranus square and intense issues we could become potentially influenced by in the collective culture and collective consciousness, and its connection to the alchemy of plants on our planet connects it for me to wisdom offered through the Pleiades:

The Third Chakra, the solar plexus, is about fire and transformation.  In herbal alchemy, when we yield the plant body to fire after extracting its magic with fluids, the resulting salts in the ash- when returned to the liquid- make the remedy more potent.  The fire energy available to us via the solar plexus first of all can serve to illuminate and then incinerate those fears, habits, and beliefs that limit our potential.  The chakra’s energy can enhance our ability to skillfully exercise will and personal power- especially in the realm of cultivating our intuitive voice and our ability to stand in our own center, free from the influence of collective trance.  This freedom allows our actions and our voice to be guided from our inner authority, our relationship with spirit, our life purpose.  It is through the right use of will that we may heal the past and bring vision into form.

–Carol Trasatto, Plants and Planets, May 2013

One thing for certain, however, is that the Pleiades are associated with guidance for humans, as they were used in ancient times for agricultural cycles and for navigation.  In fact, although there is some debate upon the origins of the name Pleiades, it very likely came from the word meaning “to sail” because the Pleiades are visible in the Mediterranean night sky from the middle of May until the beginning of November, coinciding with ancient sailing season¹. Furthermore, through myth the Pleiades are associated with navigation and guidance through being the seven daughters of the Titan Atlas, who held the celestial spheres on his shoulders and was the God of Astronomy and navigation.  Being the daughters of a Titan links the Pleiades with Uranus in myth at this time of the Pluto-Uranus square- in fact, Uranus is their great-grandfather!  In case you don’t remember, Uranus was the Sky God mate of Gaia, the primordial Earth Goddess, who through her fathered the new archetypes of the Titans into the world: six sets of twins.  Iapetus was one of the sons of Uranus who later became the father of Atlas, who then became the father of the seven sisters of the Pleiades.

Interestingly, Iapetus is also the father of Prometheus- so Prometheus is like the uncle of the Pleiadian sisters.  This further mythic connection to another liberating Titan like Prometheus, the archetype of the trickster who brought fire to humans, makes me feel the Pleiades will be more on the side of the shocking yet ultimately liberating and individuating energy of Uranus in Aries during this time of the third Pluto-Uranus square.  Since the Pleiades seem to be connected with practices to help humans navigate at a higher level on planet Earth, whatever third chakra healing is required at this time would be wise to put into practice- this could range from needing to ground inside the body and performing relaxation exercises to needing to take greater risks from a warm and heart-centered will-force.  There will most likely be deeply destructive and shocking events occurring- I feel the connection of these times with the Pleiades is our need to ride the wave of energy occurring in the moment and focus on the fact we can still manifest abundance and prosperity in our lives through responsible responses to any intense experiences occurring.

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The Pleiades are the daughters of the sea nymph Pleione, which also connects the Pleiades through myth to the other significant outer planet energy occuring now besides the Uranus-Pluto square, which is Neptune being in Pisces and in trine to Saturn in Scorpio.  The trine between Pisces Neptune and Scorpio Saturn is the silver lining to remember amidst the chaos of the approaching Uranus-Pluto square, and it’s harmonious aspects should be activated by the cacophony from Uranus and Pluto. This trine in water signs between Neptune and Saturn connects with the Pleiades because it goes along with the idea of developing a discipline or practice to help focus and release energies.  Our bodies are mostly made of water, and in many ways we are liquid beings possessing a high level of responsiveness to the vibration of our environments, but more importantly by the vibration of our own thoughts, emotions, and being.  As the research of Dr. Emoto has shown the transformative and purifying effect of human prayer and intention on water, so can we transform and purify our own being through the power of our mind, intentions, and the vibrations we radiate internally and externally.  According to Barbara Hand Clow and others who have “worked” with Pleiadian entities, this knowledge that we can transform our own beings as well as what we are co-creating in our life is part of what the Pleiadians are revealing to us.    The Pleiades are also connected with Neptune because two of the seven sisters had children with Poseidon.  The mating of the Pleiades with Gods is not uncommon- in fact, six out of the seven sisters did so:

  1. Maia, the eldest, was the mother of Hermes by Zeus.

  2. Electra was the mother of Dardanus and Iasion by Zeus

  3. Taygete was the mother of Lacedaemon by Zeus

  4. Alcyone was the mother of Hyrieus, Hyperenor, and Aethusa by Poseidon

  5. Celaeno was the mother of Lycus and Eurypylus by Poseidon

  6. Sterope was the mother of Oenomaus by Ares.

  7. Merope, the youngest,gained the admiration and attention of Orion.  In some myths she marries Sisyphus, becomes mortal, and gives birth to several sons.  As a result she is sometimes referred to as the “lost Pleiades,” and is associated with the least bright star in the constellation.

There are many versions in Greek myth of how the seven sisters became stars, but in most of them it is associated with some sort of trauma they experienced as a repercussion of the wars for power amongst ancient deities.  To review, Uranus was castrated by his Titan son Cronus (Saturn) who seized power; then Cronus was later taken down by Zeus (Jupiter) who likewise seized the power from his father, and assigned rulerships to his brothers and sisters, including the eldest brother Hades (Pluto), the one currently in a “fight” with Uranus above us today.  As a result of the war between the Titans and the Olympians, Zeus took action to ensure that Uranus would not be able to birth more threatening archetypes, so he made the Titan Atlas stand on Earth, or Gaia, and hold aloft the celestial spheres, or Uranus, so that Uranus and Gaia would remain separated.  The Pleiades, being the daughters of Atlas, would obviously have been saddened to see their father trapped into this role.

In one story, Orion began to chase the Pleiades after their father Atlas was forced to carry the celestial spheres, and so Zeus transformed the sisters into doves, and then into stars in order to appease Atlas.  This version has the interesting aspect of Zeus trying to do something nice for Atlas, when Zeus was the one who forced Atlas to carry the weight of the celestial spheres in the first place.  This to me is like a political figurehead making overtures to honor the dead or wounded, knowing full well that they were intricately involved in the complicated karmic stew of events that wounded or killed the person in the first place.  We certainly are seeing quite a bit of that these days here in the United States of America.  And speaking of the United States of America and our governmental “leaders,” Zeus or Jupiter being in the sign of Gemini during this time reminds me of how the U.S. government is not being very subtle recently about it’s shifting into a totalitarian police state in control of all media forms of communication, able to seize the cell phone records or email history of any individual it wants, at any time.  Up until now, many of us have been complicit with this- just look around at the vast number of people obsessively plugged into smart phones, tablets, and mobile devices they are literally carrying with them everywhere, all ultimately connected to the same funding sources that are controlling the media and the government.  This also goes along with the Gemini Jupiter use of the media by corporate powers hoping to force as much distracting crap on the American populace as possible on television and through all news outlets, hoping people do not realize what is actually happening right now.  Although this has been true for a very long time, the rate of this media deception is becoming extraordinarily alarming to me recently.  There will most likely be some significant events occurring in this upcoming time period of the Uranus-Pluto square, so hopefully we the people will start taking the responsibility to wake the hell up.  Hopefully, the trine between Saturn in Scorpio and Neptune in Pisces will help dissolve the illusions underlying the perceptions and reality we are living, and align us more with the actual truth of our lives, giving us the courage to face the truth of our lives in the process and take accountability for being the change we wish to see in the world around us.

But I am getting off my point about how the Pleiades went from being sisters to stars in myth.  In the most tragic version I know of, the seven sisters decide to commit suicide because of the deep sadness they were carrying because of the fate forced upon their father Atlas to carry the celestial spheres, or in other variations because of losing their other sisters the Hyades.  In this version of the myth, Zeus again decides to honor them by immortalizing them as stars in the sky.  I feel this suicide story may be why you will traditionally see some astrologers link the Pleiades with sorrows, misfortunes, and tragedies.  However, I do not believe there needs to be such dark energy associated with the meaning of the Pleiades; at most I feel the connection has to do with how we can recover from sorrowful events and cope with our emotions.  Because the Greek myths have a clear link between the sorrow of the Pleiades with their father’s involvement in the war between the Titans and Olympians, I feel in particular the Pleiades can help us cope with the trauma of the collective oppression and trauma people around our planet have been subjugated to as a result of world leaders focused upon war, destruction, and manipulating events for gains of global power.  When we are facing intense and traumatic times in our collective, if we hope to facilitate and manifest the positive change we want to see happen, we need to be able to keep our own emotions and responses in balance so that we can effectively respond in way that is truly aligned with our inner integrity and authority.  These issues are vital to our ability to develop a healthy and balanced use of our Third Chakra, again a chakra likely to be stirred up at this time.

Indeed, the Pleiades have a positive life affirming meaning, and have been a significant star focus, for many groups of people around the Earth in addition to the Greeks, in particular with many indigenous cultures.  I know I often explore Greek myth in writing since their myths are the basis of the names we commonly associate with planetary archetypes in Western Astrology, but it is at least as fascinating to explore the mythic meaning of the star constellation labeled the Pleiades by the Greeks, through the mythic lens of other cultures (hopefully I will make the time to do so in a subsequent post).  The rising of the Pleiades before sunrise was used by many ancient people to mark their calendars, and by many indigenous people as a time telling device.  In the Americas, the Aztecs used the Pleiades as a basis for their calendar, and the Hopi built ceremonial spaces in which a hole in the ceiling would reveal the glow of the Pleiades at a specific time to begin a ritual.  Interestingly, in many diverse cultures the seven stars have been seen as seven sisters for ages, such as with the aboriginal people of Australia and the Nez Perce of the Northwest USA.  I sense such mystery about the Pleiades that I am hoping to center and sense what types of signs, symbols, and events end up being associated with this time period containing so many astrological connections to them.

Seven Sisters by Jennifer Sea

Last year at this time, on May 20, 2012 there was a Solar Eclipse conjunct the Pleiades.  And as I have already mentioned, this year on May 20 when the Sun is conjunct the star Alcyone of the Pleiades, there is going to be an exact square between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries.  So to honor the date of May 20 and it’s solar connection to the Pleiades, I am going to share some musical work of two geniuses who have birthdays near May 20.  Perhaps it is because my natal moon is conjunct the Pleiades at 2 degrees Gemini, as well as the birthday of both of these musicians, but I feel that each of their energies incorporates some of the synthesizing skills of the Pleiades in weaving together musical styles.  And music is also a perfect example of the transformation offered through intentional vibration that the Pleiades are here to offer us.  The first is a genius of the popular music format, Fats Waller, who was born on May 21, 1904 and below can be heard singing one of his romantic jingles in the unique style that only Fats could deliver:

And Sun Ra, born May 22, 1914.  Sun Ra has his own resonance with being in contact with the energy of outer space, having a vision as a young man in which he was taken to a planet he identified as Saturn, where he was told he could respond to the chaos that was coming to his planet Earth through communicating through music.  Taking the name Sun Ra, he said he was from Saturn, and his music has an energy to it I associate with the Pleiades, for whatever reason:

References

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleiades_(Greek_mythology)
  2. Oken, Alan.  Soul Centered Astrology