The Radical Moisture of Neptune

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Image 131 from Liber Novus by Carl Jung

The tension of the future is unbearable in us. It must break through narrow cracks, it must force new ways. You want to cast off the burden, you want to escape the inescapable. Running away is deception and detour. Shut your eyes so that you do not see the manifold, the outwardly plural, the tearing away and the tempting. There is only one way and that is your way; there is only one salvation and that is your salvation. Why are you looking around for help? Do you believe that help will come from outside? What is to come is created in you and from you. Hence look into yourself. Do not compare, do not measure. No other way is like yours. All other ways deceive and tempt you. You must fulfill the way that is in you.

— Carl Jung, Liber Novus, 130

Neptune stationed retrograde at 12º2′ of Pisces on 13 June 2016, with Saturn retrograde closely applying to a last quarter square at 12º20′ of Sagittarius.  Saturn will perfect its square with Neptune on June 17 or 18, depending upon your time zone.  There is an astrological construct that Saturn has the upper hand in this tension as it is in a “superior” square to Neptune, meaning that Sagittarius is the tenth place from Pisces.  When a planet stations, however, it takes on far vaster significance than normal.  In the case of Neptune stationing retrograde, its numinous significations corresponding to everything Saturn blocks with its stalwart boundaries possess an inexorable tide of salty seawater disintegrating the structures that have been defining one’s identity.  Many are undergoing personal crises in which an identity, relationship, or path they had been attached to has been dissolving.  In the wake of the familiar gone, the once ideal awash in bitter disillusionment, one’s ability to act with integrity can be corrupted by fear, anger, confusion, and insecurity.  Neptune can be difficult to work with because its emanations do not fit neatly into consensus reality like those of Saturn.  Yet when an exact square forms, we need to open to Neptune and begin to integrate what it is asking of us if we wish to be avoid becoming overwhelmed by the dynamic.

In the final paragraph recorded by Carl Jung in Memories, Dreams, Reflections he quoted Lao-tzu:  “All things are clear, I alone am clouded.”  It is the illusions we carry, picked up from outside sources, that cause us to become disoriented by a Neptune transit. When we realize that a beloved hope we had trusted to bring happiness or meaning is in fact illusory, a sense of drowning and disassociation can envelope our being.  Carl Jung’s work illuminated the sense that both good and evil come from the divine, that the “world into which we are born is brutal and cruel, and at the same time of divine beauty” (Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 358).  This is the realm of Neptune, a planet that signifies both the most wretched states of existence found in suicidal addictions, as well as the most fulfilled feelings of bliss and joy found in true love.  At today’s juncture of the square between Saturn and Neptune, humanity is facing the terror of its own mass destruction, as numerous collective illusions have coalesced into an era filled with mass murder and environmental devastation.

While Neptune is not truly analogous to the prima materia of alchemy, when Jung in “The Visions of Zosimos” wrote of the radical, root moisture that connects the prima materia with the soul, there is a link to the numinous nature of Neptune we sense whenever we tap into the soul of the world.  Contact with Neptune opens us to the collective unconscious, the wisdom found in the images of our dreams, and wherever we feel the presence of the interconnected, underlying field and fabric of reality.  In the dewy mist coloring the earth as we awake from dream, as the solar rays prepare to emerge once again from the fertile night, we are given another opportunity to release ourselves from the illusions of our past and engage with the arising inspiration that brings life to our imagination and being.  While Neptune transits can feel so disillusioning that we lose sense of meaning in life, they can also revivify our connection with the animating spirit of our universal matrix.

Carl Jung in relation to Neptune has been on my mind a great deal recently as I was fortunate to hear two talks given by Richard Tarnas at the Northwest Astrological Conference (NORWAC) of 2016.  In both talks Tarnas spoke of the important influence the modern emphasis on individualism and the solar heroic self has had in terms of supporting the capacity of people to liberate themselves from oppressive authority and prevailing worldviews in order to discover their own authentic nature and beliefs to live from.  Yet this emphasis on the individual also led to the disenchantment of the universe, a dissociative illusion of separateness from the interconnected streams of the Anima Mundi in which humanity has brought itself to the brink of extinction.  Vitally, Tarnas emphasized that the Sun not only ascends, but descends, and that it is the descent into the many of the pregnant night where we experience alchemical transformation in our night sea journey, where the solar hero sacrifices itself to the whole, embraces and loves the whole, succumbs to the multitudinous of the moonlit night.  This is not unlike opening the rigid, dogmatic confines of Saturn to the numinous realm of Neptune.

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Image 55 by Carl Jung from Liber Novus

One word that was never spoken.

One light that was never lit up.

An unparalleled confusion.

And a road without end.

— Carl Jung, translation of text from image 55, Liber Novus

Carl Jung is exemplary as an individual willing to descend into his depths in order to bring back knowledge to share with the collective, not only because of the testament of his work such as the Red Book/Liber Novus, but also within the symbolism of his birth chart.  Jung was born with a setting Sun in Leo, the very image of the solar self’s descent.  Furthermore, Jung was born with an exact square between Neptune in Taurus and his Leo Sun.  When Jung famously had his vision of the coming world war while riding the train to Schaffhausen, Switzerland in October 1913 (overcome by a vision of blood flooding the European landscape, with the Alps protecting his homeland), Uranus was directly on his ascendant in opposition to his Sun while Neptune was coming into range of a conjunction with his Sun and a square to his Neptune.

During Jung’s years of his descent into his depths of fantasies and communication with his unconscious from 1912 through 1917, Neptune approached and formed an exact conjunction to his natal Sun and square to his natal Neptune (this period also saw Uranus conjoin his ascendant, oppose his Sun, and then oppose his own natal Uranus).  In Memories, Dreams, Reflections Jung called this time of exploring his inner images the most important period of his life, “the prima materia for a lifetime’s work” he compared to a “stream of lava” in which “the heat of its fires reshaped my life,” calling his later works “a more or less successful endeavor to incorporate this incandescent matter into the contemporary picture of the world.”

Richard Tarnas gave a lecture at NORWAC 2016 entitled “The Natal Sun: The Solar Journey & the Forging of the Self” in which he used Carl Jung as a primary example for aspects between Neptune and the Sun. Tarnas illuminated the significance of Jung’s natal square between the Sun and Neptune, and how he serves as an example of how a square can be so well integrated in the course of one’s life that something is brought forth that had not existed previously, in Jung’s case the understanding of the Self with a capital “S” and “his sense that we are always moving toward wholeness and we need to have a coniunctio, a sacred marriage between the conscious and the unconscious, and in this case what he meant by the unconscious was the archetypal psyche and the whole Neptunian dimension.” Tarnas brilliantly made the point that the very word Self with a capital “S” is a great example of the Sun and Neptune together, it being a transpersonal level of the self and “a higher self that guides us to becoming ourselves in our own individuated flowering.”  Tarnas also made the point that Jung’s concept of active imagination is a perfect description of the square between the Sun and Neptune in Jung’s birth chart.

Furthermore, Tarnas focused on the transit of Neptune conjoining Jung’s Sun and forming a square to his natal Neptune in which Jung had to hold on to his solar identity “against this tremendous influx of the Neptunian realm, of the archetypal psyche.”  Tarnas spoke of Jung’s firsthand knowledge that we all need to encounter the Neptunian dimension in order to recover our sense of soul and meaning in life, as “the archetypal domain is where all our sense of meaning and purpose ultimately exists.”  Yet, Jung also taught caution around descent into the archetypal realm, as Neptune also brings the danger of drowning with the influx of the deep psyche.  Tarnas made the point that while the Sun is our center and sense of clarity, Neptune dissolves and disorients it.  Tarnas said the influx of the numinous dimension ruled by Neptune into the solar principle can lead to not only divine inspiration but also inflation, a delusional messianic state.  Tarnas said Jung believed that in most cases of westerners entering the archetypal realm of Neptune that they are likely to enter a state of inflation that must be guarded against, as Jung himself had to face.  Tarnas explained that the western psychological emphasis on forging a sense of individual selfhood and egotism can more often than not lead to Neptunian inflation, instead of an ability to transmit the realm of Neptune with a self that has become “transparent to the divine that is coming through.”

As Jung stated in Memories, Dreams, Reflections:

Numinous experience elevates and humiliates simultaneously . . . Wherever the psyche is set violently oscillating by a numinous experience, there is a danger that the thread by which one hangs may be torn.  Should that happen, one man tumbles into an absolute affirmation, another into an equally absolute negation.  Nirdvandva (freedom from opposites) is the Orient’s remedy for this.  I have not forgotten that.  The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.  The numinosum is dangerous because it lures men to extremes, so that a modest truth is regarded as the truth and a minor mistake is equated with fatal error.  Tout passe–  yesterday’s truth is today’s deception, and yesterday’s false inference may be tomorrow’s revelation.  This is particularly so in psychological matters, of which, if truth were told, we still know very little.  We are still a long way from understanding what it signifies that nothing has any existence unless some small- and oh, so transitory- consciousness has become aware of it.

— Carl Jung

The generation born with Neptune in Sagittarius will experience a square from Neptune as it transits through Pisces, and for those born in the same time period as myself we have Neptune exactly squaring our natal Neptune today while Saturn simultaneously is conjoining our natal Neptune.  Others may have the current Neptune square with Saturn making other catalytic aspects in their natal chart in one way or another.  Carl Jung serves as an example of someone who went into the realm of Neptune and came back with knowledge to share with and heal the greater collective.  He did this through active imagination and making the effort to understand the inner images he experienced, writing in Memories, Dreams, Reflections that he tried “to plant the results of my experience in the soil of reality; otherwise they would have remained subjective assumptions without validity.”

As we head into the time of the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the day in which the Sun reaches the zenith of its ascent and begins its descent that will lead us into the regeneration of Fall and the darkness of Winter, a Mutable Grand Cross will form involving Mercury in Gemini in opposition to Saturn in Sagittarius, both in square to an opposition between Neptune in Pisces with Jupiter in Virgo.  This could lead to a breakdown or a breakthrough, and to experience the latter Jung’s emphasis on centering within is sage advice.  In Memories, Dreams, Reflections Jung declared, “There is no linear evolution; there is only circumambulation of the self.” Circumambulating, circling around our sacred center instead of becoming spun out in disparate directions through forces within our outer environment, can facilitate the grounding needed to gather insight rather than delusional, disillusioning experiences.

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Image 107 by Carl Jung from Liber Novus

I accepted the chaos, and in the following night, my soul approached me.

— Carl Jung from Liber Novus, 106

References

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

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

Jung, Carl. (1965). Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Recorded and edited by Aniela Jaffe. Vintage.

 

 

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Neptune stations in Pisces

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The image above from Andrzej Wajda’s Ashes and Diamonds centers around a moment of epiphany, an opening of consciousness resonant with the dissolving of personal structures that can occur when Neptune stations direct as it has now at five degrees of Pisces.  People love to write about the Age of Aquarius, but Neptune stationing direct is a reminder that we remain in the Age of Pisces, an age dominated by harrowing experiences of war rooted in conflict between idealistic ideologies.  Ashes and Diamonds is set in Poland on the last day of World War II, a war in which Poland passed through unspeakable terror during its time of Nazi occupation and concentration camps that haunt collective memories with agonies incapable of description.  On the day of events in Ashes and Diamonds, modest celebrations over the end to the war occur in air saturated with the heavy fog of lingering trauma and the encroachment of the Soviet state on Polish independence.  Immediately prior to the image above inside a bombed church, the Lovers shown here discover an engraved fragment of a poem by the legendary Polish poet Cyprian Norwid: 

From you, as from burning chips of resin,
Fiery fragments circle far and near:
Ablaze, you don’t know if you are to be free,
Or if all that is yours will disappear.

Will only ashes and confusion remain,
Leading like storm into the abyss? Or will there be
In the depths of the ash a star-like diamond,
The dawning of eternal victory!

The phoenix of transformation found within these words fits our current astrological climate.  When pondering the nature of an archetypal force such as Neptune stationing, it is important to consider the surrounding astrological context: new cycle of Mars and Pluto in Capricorn, Mars triggering the approaching square between Pluto and Uranus in Aries, new cycle between Venus and Saturn in Scorpio, a Leo Jupiter in square to the Sun, Saturn, and Venus in Scorpio, and Uranus conjunct the South Node of the Moon in Aries.  Moreover, making the exact timing of this Neptune stationing more palpable on a personal level was that the Moon was in Virgo opposite Neptune and then Chiron in Pisces as the planetary symbol of oceanic consciousness stood still from our Earth-bound perspective.  Easing our ability to integrate meaning from all of this, Mercury has regained full strength as a Morning Star, re-emerging from it’s retrograde shadow zone to form a harmonious trine with both Neptune and Chiron in Pisces.

Images are a realm of Neptune, and cinema in particular resonates with the myriad meanings of Neptune’s archetype.  Looking at the image from Ashes and Diamonds above, those who grew up immersed within the United State’s Hollywood will recognize the archetypal rebel stance drawing perplexed interest from a lover (and indeed, the actor Zbigniew Cybulski playing the lead was known as the “James Dean of Polish Cinema” and experienced an early traumatic death).  This scene unveils a Neptunian dissolution of interior structures and complexes, as each character had previously experienced an unlocking of inner vaults in the union of their embrace. The heart-centered words of a poet are another entry point into Neptune, and after hearing this poem recited from the lips of his desired lover, the lead character opens to the awareness that he could be leading a different life from a different form of consciousness. In the same scene, surrounded by ruins of wars and relics of dominant religion, he expresses that as he had never before realized he could fall in love he also had never thought that his life could be arranged around something different than his own pure survival.

Ewa reading poem in Ashes and Diamonds

Ewa Krzyżewska reading Norwid’s poem in Ashes and Diamonds

Neptune’s symbolic association with water relates to the dissolution of former structures of our self and reality we experience under a Neptunian wave. It can feel like we are opening to a message outside our known reality, as Neptune is a far-out planet bridging our solar system to what revolves beyond, or it can feel like a current rising from deep within our depths. We can experience moments of realization within a flood of former boundaries dissolving, yet the tendency is to fall back again into the security of the old reality instead of following the seemingly mystical call we fear is merely an illusion.  Confusion and disorientation can engulf us when we look to our former self image to provide stability, as under these waves we feel the superficial structure of its facade.

The tragedy of Ashes and Diamonds and the tragedy of many lives is that we label the epiphany the illusion, call the realization a magical fantasy as if magic can not truly happen.  Yet while attempting to re-adapt to our former perspective that was not so discontinuous with the surrounding consensus reality, the yearning of Neptune can take root instead in escapist pursuits like drug use or absorption into fictional or non-fictional stories about other people instead of living our own dream.  Addictive relationships can fall into this category as well, the type of attachment we form for a relationship that does not nourish our deep self but instead brings us a sense of security within our consensus surroundings no matter how unfulfilling.  Ironically from this space we are likely to view a truly fulfilling opportunity for relationship as a romantic fantasy we are imagining from our childhood fairy tales.

The remedy is to swim with the current and be a creative agent, an active magician in your daily life manifesting your internal world into your external environment.  Think of the great magician of recent fiction, Harry Potter, consulting his magical mentor Albus Dumbledore in a Neptunian King’s Cross Station:

Harry Potter:  Professor, is this all real? Or is it just happening inside my head?

Albus Dumbledore: Of course its happening inside your head, Harry. Why should that mean that its not real?

Whatever signs and symbols you have been drawn to, whatever movies you have felt compelled to watch, books you suddenly knew you had to start reading recently, take note for most likely there is a significant message for you here. Neptune works through mysterious ways that are more musical, imaginal, and intuitive than anything logical.  There are many intense astrological signs pointing to a new cycle, new life, and new reality coming into form and while we may be in mid-process and there may be many tumultuous surrounding events, be courageous enough to follow the vision emerging from your depths in your waking life.

Beatrice_Addressing_Dante_(by_William_Blake)

Beatrice Addressing Dante by William Blake

Following Neptune stationing direct in Pisces, Venus has now entered Sagittarius and will soon send sparks through a square to Neptune.  The image above by Sagittarian artist William Blake unveils the Muse in the form of Beatrice, the inspiring force behind the work of Dante Alighieri.  We can find the shifting archetype of Neptune in this work of passion, in the spinning vortex of chariot wheels carrying the beaming and erotic Beatrice.  Dante serves as an example of an artist able to channel the imaginal visions lit by love for a woman he was never able to be with physically, into works of art that centuries later continue to leave a mark in modern minds.  I was curious to see how this image was interpreted in Symbol and Truth in Blake’s Myth by Leopold Damrosch, and was surprised to find the language describing Beatrice and the other women as dominating a “meek” Dante.  To me this connects with Venus emerging from its new cycles with the Sun and Saturn while in Scorpio, into Sagittarius and a square with Neptune: are we being overpowered and confused by our vision or being uplifted into creative inspiration.  If we are able to look underneath at the substantive structures sourcing our perception and instinctual reactions we can gain greater awareness of how to ride a wave of Neptune into greater abundance instead of being pulled into an undertow of disintegration.  For example, if we come from a sense that creation comes out of conflict we may find ourselves forever stirring up drama around us, sometimes needlessly so-  with reflection we may find opportunities to be harmoniously collaborative with others while also being creative.

Venus entering a square from Sagittarius to Neptune in Pisces is a gateway into a couple of months of Neptune experiencing squares from planets in Sagittarius.  Within a week on November 22, there will be a New Moon at zero degrees of Sagittarius that will herald our Sun’s entrance into the sign of the centaur. At the end of November, Mercury will enter Sagittarius, and then at the end of December on December 24, 2014 Saturn will also enter Sagittarius.  With this time of Saturn at the end of the depth of Scorpio, with Venus, then the Moon, Sun, and Mercury coming into Sagittarius to square Neptune, it is time to make our dreams and visions real.  What is illusory will be revealed, and what is authentic and genuine will be deeply felt.  If there is unrequited love or romantic projection, it can be channeled into works of creativity and art.  If we can enter into a new nourishing relationship, or go into greater depth and intimacy within a continuing one, we will be called to do so.  If we are studying a subject or exploring the meaning behind a philosophy we have become drawn to, our experiences will reveal to us what about the teaching and knowledge brings us deeper into ultimate understanding of our reality, and what elements ring false from our experience.  The end of November in particular will feature a Grand Fire Trine between Venus in Sagittarius, Jupiter in Leo, and Uranus in Aries that can coincide with liberation, expansion, deepening, and the birth of something vibrant and passionate in our life.

As a final thought in connection with Neptune stationing, many in the spiritual collective community have been concerned over the health of Thích Nhất Hạnh who experienced a brain hemorrhage on November 11, 2014.  His words have been shared to a greater extent as a result, including this beautiful writing resonant with Neptune:

“This body is not me; I am not caught in this body, I am life without boundaries, I have never been born and I have never died. Over there the wide ocean and the sky with many galaxies All manifests from the basis of consciousness. Since beginningless time I have always been free. Birth and death are only a door through which we go in and out. Birth and death are only a game of hide-and-seek. So smile to me and take my hand and wave good-bye. Tomorrow we shall meet again or even before. We shall always be meeting again at the true source, Always meeting again on the myriad paths of life.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, No Death, No Fear

Dionysus and Pisces

Dionysus on the pirate ship

The Dionysus asteroid #3671 recently moved through Pisces in the last month, leading me to explore the connection between Dionysus and Pisces that has been previously established by numerous astrologers.  Writing about a connection between Dionysus and Pisces seems to be prevalent among astrologers influenced by Carl Jung and Depth Psychology, such as Liz Greene in her book The Astrology of Fate, and Kathleen Burt in Archetypes of the Zodiac.  Other astrologers have connected Dionysus to the archetype of Neptune, such as Ariel Guttman and Kenneth Johnson in their book Mythic Astrology.  As the Sun has now entered Pisces, with both Neptune and Chiron in Pisces as we experience a Mercury retrograde cycle initiated by a conjunction between Mercury and Neptune in Pisces, Dionysus is an interesting guide to the Mystery of life for us to consider.

Dionysus is the sub-terranean Zeus and to me he is an interesting lens to focus on how Jupiter ruling Pisces differs from Jupiter ruling Sagittarius.  I do not find fault with astrologers using Neptune as the ruler of Pisces, however, as I have seen skilled astrologers use Neptune with precision in this way.  My personal philosophy regarding astrology rulers is that thoroughly learning a specific school of astrology can reveal significant insight into the connection between the above and the below, but that the subject matter of astrology is so vast that any one frame of astrological reference is unlikely to reveal the complete, ultimate understanding.  Along these lines, I feel Dionysus is a marvelous window into Pisces because his archetype connects with the Pisces traditional ruler of Jupiter, the modern ruler of Neptune, the esoteric ruler of Pluto, and the consideration that Venus is exalted in the sign of Pisces.  In  The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, Roberto Calasso described Dionysus with an air of similarity to Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac that contains all other signs and is the source of all twelve signs:

Dionysus’s line is more obscure . . . only rarely does it emerge from the shadow.  Since he is both snake and bull, all history before Zeus is recalled in him and begins again in him.

–Roberto Calasso, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, p. 208

In Dionysus we find the mystical and material participation of Pisces with nature, a full engagement and presence with the soul of the world.  In his destruction of form, we see the dissolving and death of Pisces necessary to prepare for the equinox birth of the cardinal sign Aries, the first of the zodiac.  As Joseph Campbell has said, “Dionysus represents sudden inspiration, the energy of life pouring through time and throwing off old forms to make new life . . . the thrust of time that destroys all things and brings forth all things . . . the generative power, thrust out of darkness” (Goddesses, p. 215-216).  Planets in Pisces in a chart can be similar receivers of impulsive and intuitive illumination, and people with ample Pisces energy in their chart can often seem hell-bent on their own self-destruction.  As a Pisces I am used to hearing a polarity of labels from astrologers analyzing my Sun sign, ranging from the profane to the sacred, from critical barbs to accolades.  We are told that Pisces is a sign of genius and madness, and when we aren’t being told we are divine visionaries we are told we are crazy, obsessive, narcissistic, possessed, irrational, deranged, and self-proclaimed martyrs who self-sabotage themselves.  Dionysus embodies all of this and more.

Liz Greene in The Astrology of Fate gave one of the most lucid analyses of the connection between Pisces and Dionysus.  She began by tracing the line of the Great Mother to her Divine Son that connects to the sign of Pisces  across cultures.  Most of us are familiar with the story of Aphrodite and her son Eros escaping from Typhon to become the fish that became the constellation of Pisces, but Greene goes farther back to Phoenicia and the fish cult of the Great Goddess Atargatis who had a fish son Ichtys, who later evolved into the Babylonian fish god Ea.  We can connect these stories of the great mother and her ritually sacrificed divine son to the sign of Pisces through the silvery cord of the Pisces symbol that forever bounds the personality and the soul, the material fish and the spiritual fish.  The soul born out of chaos and the great mother is bound to its source in Pisces, and through the image of the sacrificed divine son we can sense how Pisces is more of a fertilizer of the zodiac than the end of the zodiac, a fecund source embodying aspects of all twelve signs within.

As the son of Zeus it is clear that Dionysus is of divine origins, but his lineage through Zeus is the only constant in the multiple versions of his birth found in myth.  In the most popular version of his story he was the divine son of the mortal Semele by Zeus, others have him as Demeter’s offspring, while many accounts also reveal him as the son of Persephone with her father Zeus.  In The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, Roberto Calasso reveals a spiral conception of Dionysus in which Zeus mates with Persephone and Semele at different times to birth Dionysus, both times in the form of a snake, the form of Goddess.  Calasso wrote that as Zeus, transformed into a snake, pressed his lips against Semele’s, intoxicating her with nectar, that “vine leaves were sprouting up on the bed and there was a sound of drums beating in the darkness” as the “earth laughed” at the moment of his conception (p. 47).  Semele, however, is not your ordinary mortal:  she is the daughter of Cadmus, the hero who brought the alphabet to Greece, and of Harmony, a goddess of concord who some say was the daughter of Aphrodite and Ares.

Semele_Gustave_Moreau_004

This lineage between Semele and Cadmus, the source of the Greek alphabet, is of great importance to the thesis behind The Alphabet Versus the Goddess by Leonard Shlain.  Shlain theorized that Dionysus arose in prominence in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. in Greece in response to the impact of the alphabet on the collective psyche, as rational thought and intellectual theory became elevated in eminence along with the rise of patriarchal gods into positions formerly held by matriarchal goddesses.  A need arose for an irrational god of dance, drunkenness, sex, ecstasy, revelry, madness, tragedy, and dismemberment according to Shlain, who further revealed a connection between Dionysus and another divine son of a mortal woman, Jesus Christ:

For five thousand years following the advent of agriculture, people ardently believed that the Great Mother revitalized the earth, just as she resurrected her beloved son/ lover/ brother each spring.  It is the story of Inanna and Dumuzi, Isis and Osiris, Ishtar and Tammuz, and Aphrodite and Adonis.  In the most sacred ancient rite of the hiero gamos- the sacred marriage- the man was a mortal and the woman was a goddess.  But in Classical Greece, a god arose who had the power to resurrect himself and the earth without the agency of the all-important mother.  The son- a god- resurrected his mother who was merely mortal.  A thousand years after Dionysus, this elemental myth was once again revised.  Mary, the mortal mother of Christ, helplessly witnessed the death of her son in springtime.  Now, only the Father could resurrect His Son.  Dionysus is the crucial link between the myth of Osiris and the story of Christ.

— Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, p. 144

Although the message of Jesus and his portrayal in the Bible differs from some of the images of Dionysus found in myth, Shlain noted that “both Christ and Dionysus were outcast charismatic leaders accompanied by scruffy followers,” that they each “represented the mystic side of human nature,” and that both of them “triumphed over conventional rationality and pragmatism” (p. 147).  Astrologers have also connected both Dionysus and Jesus Christ to the sign of Pisces, some believing that Dionysus was a significant precursor to the Age of Pisces ushered in by Jesus Christ, who some also believe was a Pisces Sun sign with a lot of additional Pisces energy.  For example, there is all of the fish symbolism associated with Jesus and his disciples, and his last meal in which Jesus has his followers drink his blood as wine, and eat his body as bread, is ripe with Dionysian overtones.  In Archetypes of the Zodiac, Kathleen Burt found that both Dionysus and Jesus Christ traveled through the same geographic region and “preached many of the same lessons- humility, resignation, surrender to grace and God’s will, receptivity, honoring the Divine” and that the “issue of dualism which developed during the Age of Pisces with the Dionysius cult is even more strongly apparent in Christianity” (p. 498).   Liz Greene in The Astrology of Fate wrote that “Dionsysos is a sort of shadow-Christ, a Christ with a phallus, for he himself, like Christ, is both victim and redeemer.”   In addition, just as Jesus Christ’s birth became an event celebrated through widespread religious ritual, so was Dionysus the divine son revealed and honored in widespread ancient rituals, including the Eleusis Mystery ritual.  Indeed, in these sacred mysteries Dionysus was a genuine epiphany, a divine revelation initiating participants into “the grounds of existence, that source of consciousness and energy of which we are all manifestations” (Campbell, p. 191).

To me, the story of Dionysus being born from his father, Zeus, connects with the dominant theme of “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost” that arose in the Age of Pisces.  This strange birth occurred after a jealous Hera tricked a pregnant Semele into becoming burned to ashes by Zeus, resulting in the fetus of Dionysus becoming salvaged and sewn into the thigh of Zeus.  Since Dionysus was born from both his mother’s womb and his father’s thigh, he became known as the “twice-born” and a symbol of male spiritual initiation.  Joseph Campbell has described the male initiation associated with Zeus birthing Dionysus as “that you get your physical life from your mother, while you get your spiritual culture life, your life as it shall be lived in your society, from your father” (Goddesses, p. 214).  This description by Joseph Campbell of a societal role of spirit and culture aligns with the astrological meaning of the planet Jupiter, and when we focus on the meaning behind Jupiter ruling the sign of Pisces through the lens of Dionysus, we gain a sense of a heart rendering initiation as part of this process.  In ancient times, the Dionysian Mysteries such as at Eleusis were known as an initiation onto the philosophic path, as Plato recorded that Socrates took part in the rituals at Eleusis and found them to be “one of the most illuminating experiences of his career” (Campbell, p. 197; wikipedia).

Many writers have also theorized that there is an initiation lineage going from Jesus back to Dionysus and then to Osiris, as all three figures experience resurrection following dismemberment or crucifixion.  The mystical rebirth from death of Dionysus is central to his role in the mystery traditions that brought an immanent sense of epiphany to participants in the ritual.  This initiation through dismemberment, like the crucifixion of Christ, links Dionysus to the meaning in esoteric astrology behind Pluto as the ruler of Pisces.  In esoteric astrology, Pluto is a first ray planet of destruction like Shiva, bringing freedom to us through a death of form.  Pisces as a sign of duality, a sign in which the personality and soul are separated while bound together, can burn through the flames of Pluto into a soul-centered sense of unity.  Alan Oken through esoteric astrology has taught about the personality of Pisces trying to separate from its deep sense of connection to soul through hedonism, drugs, addictions, and fantasies to no avail, as no more can the Pisces personality escape its soul than can the soul of Pisces break free from its incarnation in human flesh.  There can be a premonition of fear in Pisces of an impending dismemberment or destruction of a cherished hope or ideal that can coincide with cycles of self-destruction and self-sabotage that baffle others.  And yet it can be through the burning ground of these experiences that Pisces experiences a heart opening through the Plutonic destruction of old forms that create a regenerated sense of self.

The many layers of duality found in Pisces can also be found in Dionysus, as Liz Greene and others have noted how he embodies concepts such as redeemer/victim, savior/devourer, yin/yang, intuition/reason, sacred/profane, creative genius/madness, and passionate love/passionate anger.  Yet instead of trying to rationalize this duality, separate the concepts into a bi-polar analysis, we can remember that Dionysus is whole and embodies these concepts integrated together within his holistic self, not separated.  To Liz Greene, the idea that Dionysus embodies an “ecstatic unity with natural, undying life” and a “seeking of union with the divine” that paradoxically mixes “the holy with the vicious and sadistic,” can be explained through his connection to Pisces because in the sign of the fish “these two opposites live side by side” and “each generates the other,” much like the interplay between good and evil.   Joseph Campbell, in noting how the spiritual initiation of Dionysus links him with the divine feminine and leads the initiate into a dissolving of duality, said “this is the condition of the dreamer, and roundabout we see the way of initiation, the way to get past it, to realize your androgyny in the metaphysical sense, and your immortality along with your mortality” (Goddesses, p. 223).

This notion of a metaphysical androgyny connects with Pisces, whose natives often have an integrated sense of their “masculine” and “feminine” sides, and also with Dionysus, who was an androgynous god.  In order to protect the young Dionysus from another dismembering attack from Titans orchestrated by Hera, Dionysus was dressed in female attire and raised as a woman by nymphs.  He grew into a figure that brought women, groups of women, into rapturous states of spiritual ecstasy, and many of his sacred rituals were only open to participation from women.  In an age of gods in which patriarchal figures overtook roles previously given to goddesses, Dionysus emerged as a bearer of the divine feminine and so by connecting him into the sign of Pisces we can add an extra layer of meaning into the exaltation of Venus in Pisces.  The orgiastic sexual release and drunken debauchery that have been associated with some of these rites also connect to the lustful hedonism of Venus and delight in the carnal sense of the body that houses the soul, and the ability of Venus to harmonize euphoria from discord.  The more malificent image of frenzied women ripping apart flesh and limbs into dismemberment aligns with the more destructive side of Venus and the divine feminine, often called a “Dark Goddess” energy like Kali of cutting away, a death in preparation for a birth, a shattering of structure giving space to generate a new form.

However, the connection between Dionysus and Pisces, and the exaltation of Venus in Pisces, has significance beyond the link between the divine feminine and Dionysus:  art, in particular the dramatic arts.  Dionysus was a god of the theater at at time when the theater was a sacred space of religious significance.  Those who still feel this divine passion for the theater in our modern times can be said to be swept up in the spirit of Dionysus, for both the tragic and the comedic masks were sacred to him, and he was associated with a cathartic theater experience:

Drama, the art form combining poetry, music, gesture, and spectacle, arose from Dionysian ritual and is best appreciated by the right brain.  The art of tragedy expresses the irrational nature of Dionysus.  Plays like “Antigone” and “Hamlet” end with the stage littered with corpses, yet tragedy is a most exhilarating form of entertainment.  Why do audiences feel ennobled after witnessing the anguished destinies of “Medea,” “Oedipus,” or “King Lear?”  Why does the hero’s or heroine’s despair transmute into the audience’s exultation? This paradox is at the heart of the Dionysian enigma.

–Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet versus the Goddess, p. 138

Kathleen Burt in Archetypes of the Zodiac made an insightful allusion to Pisces through the shape-shifting nature of Dionysus that took on forms beyond human such as the bull, the lion, and the serpent in the way in which Pisces “is the sign of the actor or the chameleon who can play any role in any stage setting or environment of life” (p. 492).  Burt also noted that her Pisces clients often would appear to her as if they were wearing a tragic mask they would perform through during her sessions with them, with their soul energy present in an underworld beyond the time and space of the meeting place.  Pisces is more apt to reveal and express their soul energy in a safe and sacred space of artistic creation where they will face the darkest depth of their being, for as Liz Greene wrote in The Astrology of Fate “even in artistic creation the experience of death and dismemberment, for Pisces, is an integral part.”  Through art and music a Pisces, or planets in Pisces, can merge the personality with the soul into a channeled release that can imbibe the manifested form with tremendous life force that can inspire an audience into ecstatic depths of joy and agony, into a Dionysian experience.

Dionysus with Maenad and Satyr

The Dionysus Asteroid #3671

  • The asteroid Dionysus #3671 was in Pisces from January 10 –  February 14, 2014.  Dionysus is in Aries from February 15 – April 1, 2014.
  • Dionysus was conjunct Neptune in Pisces from January 11 – 16, 2014
  • Dionysus was conjunct Chiron in Pisces from January 19-24, 2014
  • Dionysus is conjunct Uranus in Aries from February 23 – March 7, 2014.
    • Dionysus will be square both Jupiter in Cancer and Pluto in Capricorn from February 23 – March 12, 2014.
  • The Dionysus asteroid is an “Amor asteroid,” most of which orbit between the Earth and Mars.  Other well known Amor asteroids are Eros #433, Amor #1221, and Nyx #3908.
  • Dionysus asteroid #3671 was discovered on May 27, 1984 by Carolyn and Gene Shoemaker at Palomar observatory.  The Sun was tightly conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Gemini on this day of discovery, and also conjunct Venus at the beginning of Gemini.  Uranus was conjunct the South Node of the Moon in Sagittarius.  Dionysus was retrograde in Scorpio at 2°39′ on its day of discovery.

The meaning of the Dionysus asteroid carries the full archetypal meaning of the mythic Dionysus, so is not limited by an association with Pisces.  However, as Dionysus is a regenerating figure, the fertilizing sign of Pisces which transitions the end of the zodiac to the beginning is a fitting guide into the astrological meaning of the Dionysus asteroid.  Yet the astrological impact of the Dionysus asteroid will shape-shift just like the Dionysus of myth depending upon the astrological sign it transits (for example, Aries at the moment) and aspects it makes (for example, currently becoming conjunct with Uranus and in square to Jupiter and Pluto).  The fact that the Dionysus asteroid was discovered at a time of a Gemini Sun and Venus conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Gemini, with a Sagitarius Uranus conjunct the South Node of the Moon, is certainly another factor to prioritize in analysis, along with Dionysus being retrograde at the beginning of Scorpio when discovered.

There is also an archetypal association between Pluto and Dionysus found in the seminal work Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas, with a different implication than the connection of Dionysus with Pluto through its esoteric rulership of Pisces.  Tarnas in this work tracked outer planet cycles across centuries, and so interpreted mundane events and themes from history through a Dionysian influence during periods of Pluto being conjunct, square, or in opposition to Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, and/or Jupiter.  Tarnas discerned a clear “Plutonic-Dionysian archetype” that mixes with other archetypes such as the “Prometheus archetype of rebellion and freedom, creativity, innovation, and sudden radical change” he associated with the Uranus archetype during periods like today with our Pluto and Uranus square, or at other times of a conjunction between Pluto and Uranus like in the 1960s.  Tarnas through extensive historical research across time found that “the Plutonic-Dionysian principle appears to act by compelling, empowering, and intensifying what it touches, with profoundly transformative and sometimes overwhelming destructive consequences” (p. 166).  While I do not mean to suggest we should apply the entire meaning of large Pluto cycles to the Dionysus asteroid, I do think this description of a Dionysus archetype developed by Tarnas can be applied to the transit of the Dionysus asteroid-  since the Dionysus asteroid moves fairly quickly, only taking about a month or so to move through a sign, it will have much more frequent and brief movement and aspects through our natal chart than the plodding Pluto.

Since the interplay of Pluto and Uranus in esoteric astrology has to do with the destruction of old archetypes and the birth of new archetypes, it is interesting to me that the transit of Uranus in Pisces (remember, esoterically ruled by Pluto) that was followed by the current square between Uranus and Pluto has coincided with widespread attention given to trans-gender, gender questioning, and other identities beyond binary definitions of male and female.  While Dionysus is not the most fitting archetype to be the “face” so to speak for such a shift, he is an androgynous and effeminate god whose thrusting, generative impact on collective events does connect with an eruption of intense events unraveling around a shattering of antiquated definitions concerning gender identity.  Since the Dionysus asteroid is moving through Aries this month and will soon be conjunct Uranus and in square to Pluto as well as Jupiter, it will interesting to see what events develop.  One clearly developing story at this time around these issues is Pussy Riot, who have been attempting to stage protests near the Olympic Games in Russia in part to protest homophobic laws and have been on the receiving end of arrests and sadistic beatings by Cossacks while refusing to back down from their protests.  The name Pussy Riot certainly conjures Dionysian images, and their assertive, initiating activism goes well with the application of the Dionysus asteroid to the sign of Aries and a transit to Uranus.

Of course, when writing any article on Dionysus it seems a necessity to at least mention the enormously influential work The Birth of Tragedy in which Friedrich Nietzshce created a compelling contrast between Apollonian and Dionysian impulses and principles in part through an exploration of the dramatic art of tragedy that was sacred to ancient Greek culture.   In contrast to viewing Apollo as a representation of order, harmony, clarity, and reason, Nietzsche described Dionysus as representing chaos, passion, ecstasy, and intoxication.  Along these lines Dionysus is a liberator and a loosener of instinct who dissolves boundaries:  a necessary counterbalance to the Apollo impulse in order to create great art like the Greek tragedy.  Finding the middle way between Dionysus and Apollo is the path toward great art, according to Nietzsche-  in the great tragedies the hero attempts to create an Apollonian order out of the Dionysian chaos, gaining a Dionysian sense that it is impossible to make choices that will change the ultimate balance of the world.  In this way the character of Hamlet, who ultimately chooses non-action in response to his realization of the futility of changing the tragic nature of his scenario, is a Dionysus character to Nietzsche, and it is the great art of such tragedies that gives the audience greater realization into the Dionysian nature of the world (wikipedia).

In lectures Joseph Campbell has analyzed this dichotomy of Nietzsche’s in the sense that while the “Apollonian represents the fascination with that which is in the poignant, passing moment . . . the Dionysian represents identification with the energy that is shattering and bringing forth new forms” (p. 127).  In this way Campbell explained art can take us to a Dionysian state beyond duality, “filled with awe and terror and fascination,” with both “the fear of god” and “the love of god,” because you will not catch “the sense of the mystery, how shattering it is to your whole system and your ideas and everything else, unless you get both senses” (p. 128).

Ever up for a good argument, James Hillman in Mythic Figures asserted that this influential work by Nietschze actually led many astray to a degree, because Hillman believed that Nietzsche was too much under the influence of the Germanic Wotan in his analysis and evocation of Dionysus.  Hillman believed that in both psychiatry and scholarship the Apollonian concepts of “light, order and distance” had been favored over the “emotional involvement” of Dionysus.  Hillman thought that as a result there had been a repression of the Dionysian, and a distorted sense of regarding Dionysus as “inferior, hysterical, effeminate, unbridled, and dangerous,” instead of viewing Dionysus as the “lord of souls,” a status Hillman saw as more fitting for this mythic figure.  Hillman significantly cited Heraclitus as back-up:

Heraclitus pointed out in regard to the obscene Lenean rites of the Dionysian cult that they must be understood in the light of the unity of Hades and Dionysus.  They may not be taken on the literal level of concrete enactment, but have an invisible meaning for the soul in terms of its underworld psychic life. –James Hillman, Mythic Figures

Hillman linked Jung’s exploration of alchemy to the dismemberment of Dionysus, that through a process of “beheading or dissolving the central control of the old king” we enter a state of “activating the pneuma that is distributed throughout the materializations of our complexes,” meaning  that this “dismemberment of central control is at the same time the resurrection of the natural light of archetypal consciousness distributed in each of the organs.”  Thus along these lines it can be possible to add an alchemical dimension to the Dionysus archetype, that according to Hillman is “an initiation into the archetypal consciousness of the body” that makes dismemberment “necessary for awakening the consciousness of the body.”  Hillman saw this alchemical dismemberment as an awareness that can cut through the “habitual ways we have ‘grown up’ and ‘grown together,'” by making us aware of the light found within each distinct part of our body- so it is not really a process, and “not a movement from integreation to dis-integration to re-integration.”  It is more of a loosening that “results in the activation of the psychic life of the organs.”

Centuries before Nietzsche analyzed the dichotomy of Apollo and Dionysus, the 15th Century Renaissance astrologer and philosopher Marsilio Ficino saw Bacchus (Dionysus) and Apollo as the two elements of soul, with Bacchus associated with “Wine” and the “Aroma of Wine,” and Apollo associated with “Music” and “Light” (Moore, p. 77).  In The Planets Within Thomas Moore analyzed Ficino’s elements of psyche through Dionysus:

Dionysos is the god of being-torn-apart; or, put in another way, to be torn apart is to experience the god Dionysos.  Dionysos is the grape crushed and fermented to resurrect as wine, and wine is the god taken into the body, affecting the soul.  Profound paradox can be found in the nature of most deities, but in Dionysos paradox is of the essence . . . Touched by a Dionysian spirit, ego feels the stupor of drunkenness and the pain of dismemberment, but these are only phases in the process of the reestablishment of life . . . Wine, therefore, as an image, is the answer to the hard defensiveness of the narcissistic ego . . . in the psychic realm, one’s base has to be fluid like wine, and it has to support, not stability and security, but multiplicity and movement . . . Ficino makes it clear that Bacchic insanity and illogic are fundamental to the psyche. — Thomas Moore, The Planets Within, p. 80

Drawing from the Platonic tradition, Ficino believed that there is a necessary madness involved in awakening the soul, a certain level of insanity and instability in comparison to what is considered to be normal and sane.  According to Thomas Moore, Ficino saw that “in order to transcend ego concerns and materialistic unconsciousness,” we require “inner figures” that represent specific types of irrational consciousness:  “poet, priest, prophet, and lover” (p.  97).  For example with regards to poetic madness in the Platonic tradition, Moore quoted Ficino as writing that, “many poets compose in madness and afterwards do not know what they have said, as if God had used them as musical instruments” (p. 98).  Dionysus is specifically associated with priestly madness to Ficino, representing the necessity of departing from “logical, literal, normal, reasonable, and linear patterns of thought” in order “to gain  entry to the mysteries of the soul” (p. 103).  Since the soul and psyche does not work through a logic aligned with our “rational” and “reasoning mind,” in order to come to an understanding of the true mysteries of the soul, according to Ficino “it is necessary to move away from ordinary activities and patterns of thought” (p. 104).

According to Moore, Ficino and his friends were fascinated by the secretive nature of the Mystery initiations and the knowledge known only to initiates, and so a necessary priestly madness to Ficino aligned with the concept that the “mysteries revealed through Dionysian, priestly consciousness are the eternal patterns of the psyche, the side of the soul that is godlike rather than human, though through ritual a connection  is established between personal consciousness and a cyclic pattern” (p. 105). In all, to wrap up this summary of various approaches to the Dionysus archetype, all of these concepts can potentially be applied to the meaning of the Dionysus asteroid in transit or the application of Dionysus to the Pisces archetype.  If we notice a time of intensity is aligning with these themes, either through a transit of the Dionysus asteroid or a significant Pisces transit, such as the current transit of the Sun across the placements of both Neptune and Chiron in Pisces, we can  gain a realization that the experience is necessary if we wish to increase awareness of our soul.

Dionysos with Ariadne

From out of the Underworld

An earthy, fertilizing, regenerative sort of god, Dionysus has the ability to descend and ascend from the underworld like only a few other mythic figures (Persephone, Hermes/Mercury, Psyche, Orpheus, Venus as Ishtar/Inanna), in both the role of guiding his mother Semele out of the underworld as well as in a constant role of a god united with the presence of Hades.  This is interesting at this time because on February 15, 2014 the Dionysus asteroid crossed the cardinal axis and Aries point on a significant day of Hermes being in the underworld, as the inferior conjunction of Mercury retrograde and the Sun occurred.  In addition, during the time that Venus went into the underworld at the time of her inferior conjunction with the Sun on January 11, 2014, the Dionysus asteroid was significantly conjunct Neptune in Pisces.  After Venus arose from the underworld as the Morning Star around January 17, the Dionysus asteroid entered a conjunction with Chiron in Pisces.  I believe we can also gain insight into the transit of Neptune and Chiron in Pisces through considering how the Dionysus archetype could be involved in our experiences, especially since Chiron in Pisces will be coming into another grand water trine with Jupiter in Cancer and Saturn in Scorpio.  With each of the personal planets taking turns going into an underworld retrograde journey, first Venus and now Mercury, and very soon Mars will take its turn- this plays up the theme of Dionysus being a guide to our soul and an archetypal figure who can take us into the underworld and guide us back out regenerated.

In order to give some natal chart examples using the Dionysus asteroid, I am going to begin by focusing on the link between Pisces and Dionysus through two Pisces Sun sign musical figures who I have thought for a long time embody the link between Dionysus and Pisces:   Lou Reed (who I previously wrote about  here) and Kurt Cobain (who I previously wrote about  here). There is an androgynous side to each in how they projected themselves into our culture, and each had a shattering impact on popular culture in a Dionysian manner.  Although Lou did not have an immediate impact as far as huge amounts of financial success goes, he influenced countless individuals who eventually created the Punk Rock movement of the 1970s that correspondingly influenced the musical development of Kurt Cobain.  Kurt Cobain, however, had a true Dionysian impact on popular culture in an immediate, immanent manner, completely dismantling the structure and form of commercial, popular music at the beginning of the 1990s during a conjunction between, of course, Uranus and Neptune.  Does the Dionysus asteroid show up as significant in their birth charts?  Yes:

  • Kurt Cobain had Dionysus retrograde in Cancer at 24 degrees conjunct Jupiter retrograde in Cancer at 26 degrees, in trine to his Venus, Saturn, and Chiron in Pisces and also in trine to his Neptune in Scorpio, creating a Grand Water Trine.
  • Lou Reed had Dionysus in Pisces at 27 degrees opposite his Neptune retrograde in Virgo at 29 degrees.  His Dionysus was sextile his Taurus stellium of Saturn, Uranus, Mars, and the true node of Black Moon Lilith.

Kurt Cobain had a meteoric rise to fame after experiencing many challenging experiences in the first twenty or so years of his life, at times surrounded by madness and required to survive on his own just like Dionysus.  His Dionysian love of art and excesses with intoxication at times has been well-documented, as well as his tragic ending in dismemberment.  The Dionysus asteroid was active in Kurt’s chart at the time of his passing, as on the day of his death it was transiting the end of Aquarius conjunct his Sun- this means that in the aftermath of his death with the extraordinary public outcry that followed, the Dionysus asteroid would have been conjunct his Pisces Sun.  There is a thrusting, generative power to Kurt’s voice and guitar playing, an immanent presence of power that magnetized youth not only across the United States of Amercia, but around the world.  He was difficult for some to understand, a seeming paradox of personality traits that make perfect sense through the lens of Dionysus.  He was also deeply understood by many, including many youth still to this day, not unlike a Dionysian cult he could incite to heights of ecstasy through his music.  There was also a Dionysian element in his tradition of destroying the material elements of his performances:

Lou Reed had his own shocking experiences associated with gender and sexual identity, as he was given electroshock treatment to “cure” his homosexual longings as a teenager, and he later had a relationship with a trans-sexual woman that was shocking to mainstream American culture.  Everything about the way in which Lou thrust himself into the national music scene of the 1960s was shattering, from the abrasive sound of his guitar and feedback, to his lyrics detailing the lives of inner city inhabitants defined as “sordid” by the mainstream perspective.  Moreover, through his initially strong association with Andy Warhol, he found himself writing beautiful lyrics for the Germanic chanteuse Nico and performing on stage in a Dionysian production of throbbing lights, projected cinema, and dancers jumping and prancing around in revelry, some cracking whips.  There was also a paradoxical duality to Lou’s music that he transcended into the unity of his own personal style, that could veer between screeching blasts of guitar with a soul dance beat, to melodious harmonies of tender and intimate lyricism.  During the time of the Dionysus-themed events documented by Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche in the late 1960s when Pluto was conjunct Uranus in Virgo and Lou Reed’s music and presence was gaining greater notoriety on the national stage, Pluto and Uranus would have been opposite his Dionysus asteroid in Pisces and conjunct his Neptune in Virgo.  A true Dionysian activation, indeed.

Two other figures that came to my mind in connection with making a Dionysian impact on popular culture during the 1960s who are not Pisces Sun signs, are Bob Dylan and John Lennon.  In the time leading up to the conjunction between Pluto and Uranus in the 1960s, Bob Dylan and John Lennon developed a rivalry of sorts as to who was the voice of their generation, as each had a shattering impact on the collective psyche in a different way, but in a manner in each case that was Dionysian.  Neither was the most skilled musician or in possession of the most melodious voice- instead there was a primal power that each channeled through their voice and guitar, along with a lyrical sense that struck audiences around the world on a soul level.  Is the Dionysus asteroid significant in the charts of Bob Dylan and John Lennon?  Of course.  They also have a connection of both having Dionysus conjunct Pluto, the esoteric ruler of Pisces:

  • Bob Dylan, or Robert Zimmerman as he was born, has his Dionysus asteroid closely conjunct his Chiron at 28 degrees of Cancer, also conjunct his Pluto at 3 degrees of Leo.
  • John Lennon  had a 3-4 degree Leo Dionysus that is conjunct his Pluto at 4-5 degrees in Leo, and exactly opposite his Aquarius Moon at 3-4 degrees (all square to his Scorpio Mercury at 8-9 degrees).

Again, the idea that Dylan was not the most talented musician in the world but was able to channel extraordinary energy and power into his performances, combined with lyrics that connected with a generation on a deep soul level, aligns him with the Dionysus archetype, doubly so since he had a conjunction between his Dionysus asteroid and his Pluto.  After his rise to stardom as a folk star, Dylan shape-shifted in a Dionysian manner into a new electric persona that brought him even greater fame and an intense touring schedule that led him into excessive drug use and an exhausted mind-frame that seemed to be focused at times on his own self-destruction.  In the video below, I’ve included footage from the movie I’m Not There, because the director Todd Oldham made the brilliant choice to cast actress Cate Blanchett as the Dylan of this electric, drug-infused time period, giving an air of androgyny to the character that re-inforces the Dionysian quality.  After an excerpt from the movie, the video below then shifts into actual footage of the real Dylan being interviewed in December of 1965 at the heart of the conjunction between Uranus and Pluto in Virgo, a time of Dionysus.  A number of Dionysian themes reveal themselves in these exchanges:

This “incarnation” of Dylan ended in a motorcycle accident in which he ultimately re-birthed himself again into pop culture with a different identity and presence.  On the day of the crash, July 29, 1966, the transiting Dionysus asteroid was closely conjunct transiting Jupiter in Cancer (Dionysus at 17º31′ and Jupiter at 18º20′ Cancer), both widely conjunct his natal Dionysus and Chiron conjunct in Cancer at 28 degrees.   Interestingly, this also happened to be the time of an inferior conjunction of Mercury retrograde and the Sun that was also conjunct Dylan’s Pluto- this transit of course sticks out more so to astrologers, but it is still nonetheless fascinating that the Dionysus asteroid was also part of this.  It also means that Hermes, the more “rational” guide of souls in the underworld was working with Dionysus, the more “irrational” guide of souls in the underworld at this time, archetypally.   In the aftermath of this accident, Dylan would have had his Dionysus return through asteroid transit.  Ultimately, in pop culture he also had a Dionysus return into a new form, first appearing with the more Biblical inspired John Wesley Harding and then a few years later as practically a country music star doing duets with Johnny Cash.  The song “All Along the Watchtower” was recorded on the first album he released following his motorcycle crash- it contains the lyrics, “Businessman, he drinks my wine / ploughman digs my earth” that evokes a sense of Dionysus.

In contrast to the solitary figure of Bob Dylan,  John Lennon was seen as the leader of  The Beatles when they first came to America.  Recently American pop culture was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the night The Beatles played live on The Ed Sullivan Show, an event that to everyone who was alive at the time seems indescribable in the excitement and impact created by John Lennon and his mates.  In these early days of their impact upon American culture, The Beatles embodied Dionysian themes in part through driving women into a frenzy, practically needing security protection at points to keep mobs of women from devouring them.   In American public performances they were usually not even able to hear one another on stage because of the loud female screaming.  In his natal chart, the opposition between John’s natal Pluto in Leo and Moon in Aquarius usually generates attention from astrologers, but adding in the fact that the Dionysus asteroid is so tightly opposite his Moon and conjunct his Pluto adds an interesting dimension to this aspect.  Like Bob Dylan, the fact Lennon came into prominence during a Dionysian time of a Pluto and Uranus conjunction reinforces the Dionysian theme of him having the Dionysus asteroid conjunct his Pluto.  Being opposite his Aquarius Moon, I feel the Dionysus asteroid also adds in some meaning to how Lennon’s physical appearance shape-shifted over time, beginning with him becoming a star whose hair was judged as “too long” and “effeminate” to a star who truly grew his hair long in the end, by the end of the 1960s appearing with a look evoking traditional images of Jesus Christ, another Dionysian figure.  In addition, John  Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono at this time was also categorized by some as a sort of Great Mother/Divine Son dynamic.

In conclusion, whether you have the Dionysus asteroid in a prominent place in your natal chart or not, exploring the Dionysus archetype can still shed illuminating light on current experiences, particularly from the perspective of Richard Tarnas that aligns Dionysus with Pluto-  we are in a square between Pluto and Uranus, an opposition between Pluto and Jupiter, and in another month we will have a cardinal grand cross involving Pluto, Uranus, Jupiter, and Mars.  In addition, through the link between Dionysus and Pisces we can consider how his themes could be informing the current transits of Neptune and Chiron through Pisces.  On an even grander scale, although there is a lot of talk of the Age of Aquarius, we are still in the Age of Pisces, and the archetype of Dionysus is deeply connected to this age, in fact in many ways it could be called an Age of Dionysus.  Exploring Dionysus to a deeper level, as he is a deeply complex archetype I have barely begun to address through this post, will help all of us gain greater insight into the Age of Pisces we are living through in these intense times.

Dionysus statue

References:

Burt, Kathleen. (1996). Archetypes of the Zodiac. Llewellyn.

Calasso, Roberto. (1993). The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony.  Knopf.

Campbell, Joseph. (2013).  Goddesses: Mysteries of  the Feminine Divine. Edited by Safron Rossi, PhD. New World Library.

Greene, Liz. (1984).  The Astrology of Fate. Weiser Books.

Guttman, A. & Johnson, K. (1993). Mythic Astrology:  Archetypal Powers in the Horoscope.

Hillman, James. (2007). Mythic Figures. Spring Publications, Inc.

Shlain, Leonard.  (1998).  The Alphabet versus the Goddess:  the conflict between Word and Image.  Viking.

Tarnas, Richard. (2007). Cosmos and Psyche. Plume.

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.

Asteria Alchemy of Asteroid Goddesses

T15.1Asteria

Emotional transformative crises are changing our psychospiritual vibrations so that we may attune our individual frequency to the spiritual core which resonates with the whole of creation. The positions of Ceres, Pallas Athene, Juno, and Vesta in our charts describe a personal way whereby we can effect this change.

–Demetra George, Asteroid Goddesses, page 5

Asteria or the “starry one” is a Titan Goddess of oracles found in the night such as the interpretation of dreams or the reading of the wandering celestial spheres in the stars above. From the same “Greek” traditions come Ceres, Vesta, Juno, and Pallas Athene, Goddesses represented in astrology through being the first four asteroids discovered, their archetypal meaning described in the classic text Asteroid Goddesses written by Demetra George with Douglas Bloch.  Astrology is “read” by many through a concept defined by humans to represent Mystery- archetypally– and it is important to remember that the term archetype was created to reflect the ever changing nature of the primordial themes astrological terminology attempts to describe.  Embedded in the concept of archetypes is the paradoxical significance that the power symbolized by our astrological concepts can never adequately be defined into crystallization by human language, that although there are repetitive patterns we can recognize through time that seem similar in operation to the concept of fractals in chaos theory, they are at the same time always changing in a process of creation.  Demetra George intended for her work on the many Goddesses we can find among the asteroids to deepen our understanding of archetypal themes operating within our own chart and in the greater world around us, including how archetypal understanding in astrology is currently changing and has changed across time (for example at the time Asteroid Goddesses was published in 1986 it reflected a previous wave of feminism, and today we have movements around gender that are not limited into binary definitions such as masculine and feminine).  Some feel that integrating asteroids can muddle or murk up the clarity of focusing solely on the traditional seven wanderers or the modern ten that integrates Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto-  however, in my opinion while bringing in too many asteroids into astrological analysis can indeed become overwhelming for clear comprehension, at the same time ignoring the Goddesses of the asteroids means missing out on cosmic magic.  Today is no different, as amazing as the current complex brew of traditional astrological planets is at the moment, it is even more extraordinary once realizing where the fabulous four of Vesta, Juno, Ceres and Pallas Athene are at the moment.

heres-a-jaw-dropping-satellite-image-of-typhoon-haiyan-as-it-approached-the-philippines

The sattelite image of typhoon Haiyan above gives a small sense of the immense magnitude of this cataclysmic storm that has devastated a global region, an event that occurred in the same time period of nuclear radiation fears connected to repairs at the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan.  Apocalyptical themes have been rampant in popular cultures for years, and continue today such as the Radiolab Live tour from NPR simply called “Apocalyptical” that just passed through the Pacific Northwest of the USA this past week.  I recently realized that the term apocalypse is also connected to ancient Greek culture, but that instead of it meaning an “End of Time” scenario it actually means an “uncovering” or a “revelation.”  I first came across this definition in an article by Kate Petty which included a number of astrology charts examining the nuclear radiation situation in Japan, and have since come across many other writers focused upon archetypal themes connected to an apocalypse such as this chapter from an academic thesis entitled “Modern Apocalypse: Expanding the Nuclear Metaphor.”

With the heavy concentration of Scorpio energy through a Solar Eclipse conjunct Saturn in Scorpio as well as the recent Scorpio Mercury retrograde cycle that criss-crossed over the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio, we have been experiencing an uncovering of many frightening concerns on our planet that can be difficult to fully acknowledge and face, and yet recent events have made it much more difficult to remain in denial of the need for us to re-structure in order to re-align with the changes occurring on our planet.  For example, we may continue to argue in our culture whether global warming is caused by humans or not, but we can no longer argue against the unavoidable fact that ocean temperatures are rising and so is the magnitude of storms that are making complete devastation of human communities more likely.  We likewise can no longer honestly argue that nuclear energy is safe and clean and poses no great risk to our environment, as the cataclysmic danger of another great storm striking Japan or a different nuclear reactor somewhere else on the planet makes obvious.  Planet Earth will survive with or without us, there is no end game with regards to Earth except for whether or not as a human species we will be able to re-align ourselves and our societies in order to survive here.

The planets above reflect an opportunity for us to make deep modifications to how our personal path impacts our collective path, as there are a number of significant current transits bridging the personal issues of the inner planets with the collective issues of the outer planets, such as the current movement of Mercury in Scorpio becoming exactly conjunct Saturn in Scorpio again, as Mercury afterwards will begin to move out of its retrograde shadow zone in trine to Jupiter retrograde in Cancer.  If you are reading this article you are likely to already know we are in the middle of a series of seven squares between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn, and part of this greater collective meaning is the birth of new archetypes and understanding through Uranus in Aries to confront the break-down and re-generation of systematic structure through Pluto in Capricorn.  At the recent “Plants and Planets” talk by my astrology teacher  Rosie Finn, she illuminated me to the fact that as we shift into the calendar year 2014 there will be significant higher octave activation of personal planets, that potentially can help us on an inner level align with the huge outer shifts occurring:  Venus in Capricorn will station retrograde on the Winter Solstice of 2013 and will work with Pluto as a higher octave on our desires, in February the messenger planet Mercury will station retrograde in Pisces and work with Neptune as a higher octave on our perceptions, and then in March the willful planet Mars will station retrograde in Libra and work with Uranus as a higher octave on our ability to take leadership of our lives, an opportunity to step into our authentic power amid unexpected drama and shifting.

In synchronicity, at this time we have the aid of the Goddesses in our personal transformation work:  Ceres and Vesta in Libra working directly with Pluto and Uranus, Pallas Athene in Virgo working directly with Neptune and Chiron, and Juno in Aquarius working directly with Saturn in Scorpio (and Mercury too this next week in Scorpio).  In Asteroid Goddesses Demetra George explained how the asteroids Ceres, Juno, Vesta, and Pallas Athene have rulership associations with the signs Virgo, Libra, and Scorpio because they function as agents facilitating our transformation between personal issues associated with the first five signs of the zodiac (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo) with the more collective issues associated with the final four signs of the zodiac (Sagitarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces) similar to how they are located in the asteroid belt in between Mars and Jupiter in outer space.  If you do not like the binary gender labeling of the Goddesses being linked to a feminine archetype then it may be more helpful to think of these Goddesses as being yin archetypes that reflect themes of receiving, gestating, and giving birth.  Like yin energy, the asteroid Goddesses in our charts and by transit reveal how we can receive impressions from our environment to activate our self-transformation from personal to collective awareness:

The essence of the feminine principle is symbolized by the moon.  As the motion of the physical moon is cyclical in nature, phases of waxing and waning affecting the ebbs and flows of the tides, so essential teachings of the asteroid goddesses relate to the cycle of coming and going.  This is also known as the cycle of transformation.  Not only do the asteroids relate to new archetypal principles that are currently being activated and integrated into the psyche, but also they serve as agents in the transformative process of individuals.

–Demetra George, Asteroid Goddesses, page 5 -6

CHT163393Ceres in Libra

Ceres has now been elevated from asteroid to dwarf planet status, and is correspondingly beginning to take on a more significant role in astrological interpretation.  At the moment she is holding her ground with two of the heavyweights of astrology:  in the sign of Libra, she is opposite Uranus in Aries and in square to Pluto in Capricorn.  In addition, she is conjunct her sister Vesta in Libra.  At the moment, Ceres is pretty much exactly in opposition to Uranus, and so will become a tighter square with Pluto next week on November 28.  All through the first week of December 2013, however, Ceres will remain in a fairly close t-square with Uranus and Pluto.

Ceres during this time in Libra is ruled by a Venus in Capricorn that was recently conjunct Pluto, will station retrograde on the Winter Solstice of 2013, and then around Candlemas of 2014 (January 31) station direct conjunct Pluto again in Capricorn.  In myth, Pluto is the nemesis of Ceres who takes her daughter Persephone away from her and the upperworld she rules in order to rule with him from the underworld during part of the year.  Similar to how there are myths associated with Venus and the underworld such as Inanna’s descent and trials, or the test given by Aphrodite to Psyche to face Persephone, we will all be entering an upcoming time of deep descent of our Venusian nature into our personal and collective underworld.  Ceres in myth is the Great Goddess of Abundant Life on Earth who reacts to the underworld descent of her daughter with such powerful emotions that she loses her sense of productivity, refusing to create new life on earth, and attempts to cope with strategies similar to what many continue to do today: the use of opiates to numb her pain, the ebb and flow between denial and depression.  Ultimately, Ceres had to face the ultimate questions of life and death, and accept that creation and transformation involves both life and death, loss and birth.

Ceres in Libra will bring greater focus on relationships, and the necessity of interacting with others triggering whatever relationship issues we are currently facing.  Harmoniously, Ceres in Libra can connect with nurturing others, cooperating with others, and learning to initiate and respond in relational dynamics in a manner to create greater equity or an egalitarian quality.  Ceres in Libra can also connect with social justice issues such as oppression and how our various social identities play into us becoming targets or agents of oppression: again, in a more harmonious intent, we can work through our own personal issues to discern how to be an ally for others or ourselves to overcome oppression.  None of the above will be exactly easy at this time, however, as the opposition to Uranus and square to Pluto can coincide with extreme grief over the loss of loved ones or other cherished personal objects of desire; or, with difficulty forming deep intimate bonds with others due to a lack of emotional nurturing from one’s early or recent home environment; or, with a feeling of hopelessness with the state of environmental destruction and human oppression that begins to constrain our ability to be effectively productive.  There could be a temptation to reach for coping strategies such as drugs or other escapism from the pain of emotional attachment and connection, or difficulty breaking a cycle of depression or social anxiety that keeps one within limiting confines of relation.

I’m sensing one of the great potential transformations that can come from these intense aspects to Ceres could take us from an initial reaction that is imbalanced into a process of re-aligning ourselves with the structural and systematic destruction going on in society and the environment.  Moving through this tension will strengthen our capacity to birth a new presence in the world in which we are vibrating our being in greater connection with how to respond to what we are receiving for the highest good of all beings in all dimensions.  Ceres can create profound beauty everywhere she goes, artistically directing energy at all times into everything, sustaining an energy of abundance.  We may ebb away at times from this feeling into clearing times of depression that feel stagnated, but cyclically we will flow back into resiliently re-aligning our ability to feel productive, abundant, or grateful. At the same time, we do not want to lose ourselves in an imbalanced Libra use of the Ceres archetype by overly focusing on the needs of others to such an extent that we stop living in accordance with our own values or well-being, either.  Sister Vesta being nearby in Libra should help with this, as Vesta adds an archetypal energy that is aware of how to take time alone to re-center, from a spiritual practice to a walk in the green world.  However, since Vesta is also in Libra it still warns of a potential danger of losing ourselves in our interactions with others.

hestia-2Vesta in Libra

Vesta is currently in Libra conjunct her sister Ceres, and is moving toward her own t-square with Uranus and Pluto like Ceres is currently experiencing.  Vesta will more strongly enter the t-square in the first couple of weeks in December, but she is still in range of being conjunct Ceres in Libra and not very far from an opposition to Uranus in Aries at the moment- her opposition to Uranus will be gaining in strength the next few weeks and so the Vesta archetype may become visible to a greater extent in the collective culture as we move into December.

Vesta is the sacred Hestia, the keeper of the sacred flame, a priestess of sacred sexuality, a visionary mystic.  She will be lending a more focused and determined energy to Ceres through their conjunction in Libra this next month, impacting relationships through more of a tendency to move away from partnership at times to be alone.  However, Vesta in Libra desires to be in relationship and to focus energy through collaboration with others.  Vesta coming into range of an opposition to Uranus with a square to Pluto could create a more competitive energy in our work environment with an over-emphasis on wanting others to like us or admire us, all of which takes us out of alignment with our true way of being in the world.  Yet if we can successfully re-balance our focus on personal priorities versus the needs of others, a triggered Vesta in Libra archetype can harness extraordinary energy into dynamic collaboration with others that draws on the strengths of all members.  Vesta in Libra can help activate our perceptions of who we can team up with, collaborate with, or partner with at this time in order to achieve mutually beneficial goals.  Vesta and Ceres together in Libra gives desire to devote time to the needs of one’s family, nurture others through service in our work, or nurture ourselves through spiritual practices or visioning time in nature.

However, we may be challenged in our ability to do this at this time by the intense context of collective destruction and transformation occurring around us.  In particular with the strengthening opposition between Vesta and Uranus, we may need to stop ourselves from angrily over-reacting with a waste of rebellious energy that is more destructive than regenerative.  We will have strong energy available to us through Vesta facing Uranus, and so we can be most productive with it by focusing it at targets in the system that will create the greatest effect with our energy.  We will want to center and aim before taking action, but Vesta in Libra promises ample focus and determination to get the job done.  We may be able to make innovations into the old structure of things, or instead build a new order or structure that will bring healing or constructive changes.

In relationships, the deep issues of sexuality connected to the Vesta archetype could also correspond to sexual obsessions or compulsions with the square to Pluto and opposition to Uranus.   We could go to the depths of sexual desire or instead experience repression, isolation, or self-absorption with a stressed Vesta in Libra. Yet if we can use the deep Scorpio energy of this time to not just uncover a deeper layer of our sexuality but to uncover a deeper layer of reality and understanding, we can use Vesta focus to penetrate to the core of current issues in order to problem solve a solution to work toward.  Having a broader social cause, a social ideal of justice to work toward, finding a community of like-minded collaborators to work with toward a humanitarian social change and transformation will help us with Vesta being in Libra, and these same social change agents will also be helpful for us with Pallas Athene being in Virgo.

athena by klimtPallas Athene in Virgo

It pleases Pallas Athene to be in Virgo, a zodiac sign with strong associations to her archetype.  However, she must now face the Ocean God as Pallas Athene in Virgo is opposite Neptune in Pisces.  In myth, Pallas Athene has already proven herself worthy of defeating 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.  Just as Jupiter along with Pallas Athene were held in highest regard in classical Greece, so today can we not only utilize Jupiter being in Cancer to assist us in our endeavors, but also draw from Pallas Athene in Virgo to help us, in her case through a sharpened focus and discernment to penetrate to the core of any issue with her analysis.  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).

Therefore, we can have no greater ally in our personal transformation at this time than Pallas Athene in the development of our ability to scan our collective environment for the root causes of societal ills and to begin devising practical solutions to help us on both personal and collective levels.  Whether we are focused on food and nutrition, creativity and the arts, protest, activism, or political change- in all areas of life Pallas Athene can give us a laser focus of penetrating to the heart of the matter, as long as we are also aware of the need for us to question our own beliefs and possible illusions since she is in opposition to Neptune in Pisces.  If we can examine our perceptions enough to discriminate whether or not we are being delusional, we can use the opposition of Neptune in Pisces to make our Pallas Athene perception divinely inspired and even more powerfully attuned to the needs of the moment in all dimensions.

In myth, according to Demetra George in Asteroid Goddesses after Poseidon lost to Pallas Athene in their contest to win the hearts of the people of Athens, Poseidon created a great flood to demand attention, and in the process of appeasing him the male rulers of Athens deprived Athenian women of their citizenship, voting rights, and the right to pass their family name down generations through their children.  In addition, in the classic Greek version of myth, Pallas Athene is given birth through the head of her father, Zeus, instead of through the womb of her mother.  This symbolic aspect of her myth parallels the use of her wisdom by the Greek patriarchy in their military strategies and conquests, as Pallas Athene originally is more of a Libyan Warrior Queen who was then integrated into the Greek pantheon of deities.  Today, we tend to view the Pallas Athene archetype as a result with the sort of gender issues that female consciousness faces in a male dominated society.  Pallas Athene is with the woman who feels like she is taking on more of a professional “masculine” or “yang” identity in the work environment in order to compete or collaborate with male rivals or co-workers, and she is also with any of us who face conflicts pursuing our vocational goals in the outer world in a culture that tends to reward logical and rational thinking and behavior we have been conditioned to associate with “masculine” behavior.  Pallas Athene reminds us that whether we identify as male, female, queer, or another gender label, we all have within us the intelligence and creativity necessary to be successful, and that more “intuitive” or “receptive” skills we have been conditioned to associate wtih being “feminine” are of equal benefit to those we have been conditioned to view as being “masculine.”

As Pallas Athene over the next month will begin to move away from an opposition to Neptune in Pisces and into an opposition with Chiron in Pisces, issues around our gender identity could become part of the collective Chironic wound that gains more attention.  No matter what personal or collective issue we will be facing however, Pallas Athene is the type of mystic warrior, visionary activist, and artistic worker who will be able to hold her own with an opposition to Chiron and utilize whatever sort of wounds or triggers arise inside us to make our work in the world even more powerful and deep.  Her opposition with Chiron also points to the importance of paying attention to the impact of our mind-body connection on our health more so than normal- techniques such as acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, meditation, mind-based practices such as guided visualization, or therapeutic practices focusing on holistic approaches to our psyche, can all assist us at this time to help re-balance ourselves in order to re-align with changing events.  The deep creative wisdom embodied by Pallas Athene is highly attuned to the worlds of the arts, healing, and political activism- all areas that Chiron also enjoys working with, all areas of supreme importance to focus on in the world at this time of cataclysmic change.

junoJuno in Aquarius

Juno is on her throne in Aquarius at this time, and the Great Goddess has her hands full with an intense square to Saturn in Scorpio that at the moment also involves Mercury conjunct Saturn in Scorpio.  The added intensity of Mercury in Scorpio finishing off the end of its retrograde shadow movement in conjunction with Saturn today is giving our Queen Juno all she can handle from her humanitarian seat in Aquarius-  this added intensity will dissipate over the next week, but Juno will remain in a square to Saturn through our last month of 2013. This intense square between Juno with Saturn and Mercury in Scorpio to me represents the alchemist image of the King and Queen melting together- we may feel extreme weight and heaviness at this time from Saturn and Mercury teaming up in Scorpio in their square to Juno in Aquarius, but remember Juno is also the Great Goddess who can melt the hearts of even the Scorpio duo of Mercury and Saturn together.  The sacred heart of Juno may give one the impression of being coldly objective or detached in the sign of Aquarius, but our lady Juno always has a burning heart and she will help us move through any floods of watery depression or emotions at this time to re-focus our energy on a greater social cause that will benefit us on both a personal and collective level.  Her seat in Aquarius at this time will let us use a more detached and objective perspective to help us re-align with our deepest passions.

Jealous Juno is an image of this Goddess we have been collectively conditioned to think of, and indeed a square between Mercury-Saturn in Scorpio to her can certainly correlate to tremendous feelings of jealousy if we have not been working on personal issues relating to our insecurity or possessiveness in general.  Juno being in the sign of Aquarius can also connect with a feeling of being too frozen to melt into a deep commitment of intimacy with a potential partner at this time, a fear of attachment rooted in the fear of loss, like when the death of a loved ones makes us afraid of creating another bond we will ultimately lose again in heartbreak.  However, any limiting beliefs we carry within us connected to our relationships can be exposed at this time, with a square from Scorpio to Aquarius this can further mean in an intense manner that rocks us to our core.  As a result, we may realize how much we are limiting our ability to form a new relationship in connection to fears of abandonment, intimacy, loss, or dependency, or it may dawn on us that we have been staying in a relationship that has not been meeting our true needs out of a sense of societal expectation, an obedient sense that we are expected to remain in this partnership even if it is making us incredibly upset.  If we wish to sustain a relationship that has been creating oppression or frustration in our lives, we may be forced by events to break down the belief systems of each partner about the relationship in order to discover if the relational dynamic can be re-built in a manner that will benefit each partner.  If we wish to enter into a new relationship, we may be forced to confront the limiting beliefs about relationships we have accumulated from our past in order to clear the space for a new partnership to be born in 2014 that can fulfill us to a greater extent than past relationships.  In all relationships, we will want to listen without judgment to the concerns of the person we are interacting with and avoid attempting to manipulate the situation purely for our own benefit- the square from Mercury-Saturn in Scorpio to Juno in Aquarius otherwise could place us into some intense confrontations at this time.

Juno in Aquarius will also focus our relationship needs on finding a community of like-minded people who are commited workers, serious partners of deep work and dedication who will assist us in boldly confronting reality and devising creative solutions to address our collective concerns.  If we have been focusing a lot of our energy into an intimate partnership or into a limited number of relationships, the energy of Juno in Aquarius will bring a desire for greater freedom in our relationships to us.  This could for some creating the sense of wanting a more “open” relationship, but for others this will simply mean expanding the scope of our relationships, expanding our community of people we network and collaborate with.  We may be called upon at this time to experiment with the form our relationships take, or experiment with joining a new community of collaborators to test if we can discover greater inspiration for ourselves.

References

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

Mercury Retrograde: the liminality of being in between becoming

Roberto Matta bringing the light without pain

Mercury Retrograde in between Eclipses

The painting “Bringing Light without Pain” above is by Roberto Matta, an artist with a Scorpio Mercury and Sun (11/11/1911), and so an apt painter to showcase in this time when Mercury is retrograde in Scorpio and headed toward it’s “inferior” conjunction with the Sun in Scorpio.  While being able to bring light “without pain” during this period of Mercury retrograde in Scorpio is perhaps unlikely, the goal of connecting with more light, integrating more light into our lives by the end of a deep process of shedding burdensome past patterns or identities is a reachable potential over the next month.  Roberto Matta first came to my attention when I saw astrologer Gonzalo Romero present a lecture on Mercury in 2011 in which he drew attention to the artistic perception, expression, and communication of Matta.  Gonzalo described Roberto Matta as having a mercurial ability to “make the invisible, visible” through his artistic expression of aspects of phenomenal reality he could perceive.  Among other things, Mercury is a function in astrology aligning with what part of reality we choose to perceive and order within our consciousness in order to structure such aspects of our life as how we communicate with others through speech, writing, sound, or art.  As a result, when Mercury goes retrograde we have a unique opportunity to investigate what we have been choosing to focus on in our perceptions, and what sorts of habitual mindsets and thought cycles may have been dominating our mental space.  With awareness then comes the potential to transform the way we are choosing to think about aspects of our reality that have been leading us toward greater negativity or suffering, in order to shift our mindset to help us create more of what we want to experience in our lives.

Mercury retrograde time periods have gained a negative reputation in popular culture and sometimes make people wary or fearful of what could happen with mishaps in communication and technology, but in reality Mercury retrograde periods offer many gifts and opportunities to change and reset deep rooted patterns in our being.  This upcoming Mercury retrograde periods promises to be one of the most potentially regenerative and transforming retrograde cycles in memory, as it involves three passes with Saturn in Scorpio and happens at the same time as an exact square between Uranus in Aries and Capricorn in Pluto.  Moreover, there are eclipses occurring at the same time, with a Lunar Eclipse occurring shortly before Mercury stations retrograde, and a Solar Eclipse occurring shortly after the powerful moment of the retrograde cycle in which Mercury and the Sun become conjunct.  Mercury aka Hermes is not only the God of Communication but also a God of Thresholds and Liminality, a Guide of Souls who is a Psychopomp able to move between the underworld and the upperworld.  The term “liminality” is from the Latin root meaning “threshold” and is an appropriate description for the eclipse and Mercury retrograde period of time we are in since one of it’s meanings from Anthropology is “the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete” (wikipedia).

In Depth Psychology, liminality has also become a descriptive word used in the process of Individuation when an individual experiences feelings of disorientation and darkness as an old identity breaks down, all the while in a fluid process of becoming more whole or authentic, an “in-between” space of being that can persist for great lengths of time.  Now, in the liminal space we are entering in between eclipses and during a time of intense astrological transits, we may feel confused, what we feel may turn out to be very different than it first appears in the moment, and where we are headed may be unclear, but it is good counsel at this time to realize that simply breathing, and allowing ourselves “to be” with whatever is happening in the moment will be a strategy useful to navigate our upcoming experiences.  Of course, sometimes experiences suddenly demand that we quickly respond and initiate action, but  no matter how intense experiences may become, if we can keep ourselves in the flow of things and persevere, eventually we will begin to realize why we are on the new path events led us to.  The alignment of celestial bodies above us is too astounding for it to be any other way.

Indeed, this Mercury retrograde cycle and other surrounding transits will be taking us to the heart of many of the astrological themes I have been writing about over the past year on this blog.  At the heart of this Mercury retrograde cycle we will have the opportunity to open our hearts to a greater extent, as the fourth of the seven squares between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn occurs on the same day as the inferior conjunction between Mercury retrograde and the Sun in Scorpio.  As there are seven squares between Uranus and Pluto occurring between 2012 and 2015, the fourth one occurring on November 1, 2013 has been linked by many to issues around the 4th Chakra, or Heart Chakra.  In order for us to reach a greater heart opening in our lives, Mercury retrograde in Scorpio will align with not only our ability to transform the way we are perceiving and communicating, but will give us the opportunity to go the depths of our core soul issues on all levels, meaning in a manner impossible for me to describe with the limitations of language.  At the same time, there will be a real opportunity for us to take action to help us transform, as there will be a mutual reception occurring between Mars in Virgo and Mercury in Scorpio (this is because Mars is the traditional ruler of Scorpio, and Mercury is the traditional ruler of Virgo), with an exact sextile between Mars and Mercury on the same day that Mercury is conjunct the Sun in Scorpio and Uranus is exactly square to Pluto.  Since these intense astrological transits on November 1 come with the dawn of the day following Halloween or Samhain, a night in which the veil between the worlds is traditionally viewed as being more open, we will be in a truly magical night to celebrate Halloween and Samhain in 2013, a liminal space to don our archetypal masks and costumes.

In order to refrain from delving into astrology geek terminology that could lose all but the most obsessively astrological among my readers, I have summarized below several important time periods in October and November of 2013 in connection with this time period of Mercury’s retrograde cycle in Scorpio:

October 5 – October 9, 2013

  • Mercury in Scorpio conjunct first the North Node of the Moon, and then Saturn between 7 and 11 degrees of Scorpio.
  • At this time Mercury was also at its greatest distance in elongation from the Sun in its cycle, being 28 degrees ahead of the Sun.

October 18 – October 25, 2013

  • 10/18/13:  Lunar Eclipse at 26 degrees of Aries and Libra
  • 10/19/13:  Mars in Virgo in opposition to Neptune in Pisces at 3 degrees
  • 10/21/13:  Mercury in Scorpio stations retrograde at 18º24′
  • 10/25/13:  Heliacal set in the West at Sunset for Mercury in Scorpio-  Mercury is at the phasis point of being 15 degrees away from the Sun, meaning that Mercury now descends to the Underworld in mythic terminology and will correspond with a more subjective, reflective, and intuitive perception.

October 29 – November 3, 2013

  • 10/29/13:  Mercury in Scorpio retrograde and conjunct Saturn at 14 degrees Scorpio
  • 11/01/13:  Uranus in Aries square Pluto in Capricorn at 9º26′
  • 11/01/13:  Mercury retrograde in Scorpio inferior conjunct the Sun at 9º34′
  • 11/01/13:  Mercury in Scorpio in sextile to Mars in Virgo at 10 degrees
  • 11/03/13:  Solar Eclipse at 12 degrees of Scorpio conjunct Saturn in Scorpio; Mercury retrograde in Scorpio conjunct the North Node of the Moon at 8 degrees Scorpio

November 7 – November 15, 2013

  • 11/07/13:  Jupiter in Cancer stations retrograde at 20º31′
  • 11/09/13:  Heliacal rise in the East at Sunrise for Mercury in Scorpio-  Mercury is once again at the phasis point of 15 degrees behind the Sun, meaning that Mercury now ascends to the Upperworld from the Underworld in mythic terminology and will now correspond with a more objective perception as Mercury stations direct and moves forward as a Morning Star.
  • 11/10/13:  Mercury in Scorpio stations direct at 2º32′ in trine to Neptune in Pisces
  • 11/13/13:  Moon in Aries conjunct Uranus at 10 degrees
  • 11/14/13:  Neptune in Pisces stations direct at 2º35′ in trine to Mercury in Scorpio
  • 11/15/13:  Venus in Capricorn conjunct Pluto at 10 degrees

November 18 – 27, 2013

  • 11/18/13:  Mercury direct conjunct the North Node of the Moon at 7 degrees Scorpio
  • 11/20/13:   Chiron in Pisces stations direct at 9º07′ in trine to Saturn and Mercury in Scorpio
  • 11/26/13:   Mercury direct in Scorpio conjunct Saturn in Scorpio at 16º33′
  • 11/27/13:  Mercury in Scorpio moves beyond its retrograde shadow zone of 19 degrees, while in a wide Grand Water Trine with Jupiter in Cancer, Saturn in Scorpio, and Chiron in Pisces.

filius noster

Mercury Retrograde in Scorpio

The most obvious aspect of the current retrograde cycle of Mercury in Scorpio is that it will be conjunct Saturn in Scorpio three times, and that it occurs in between eclipses.  Just the fact that a Scorpio Mercury in retrograde would conjunct Saturn three times, station retrograde a few days following a Lunar Eclipse, and then have its inferior conjunction with the Sun occur a couple of days before a Solar Eclipse, is amazing timing.  When we consider that the Lunar Eclipse initiating the Mercury retrograde is the first Aries/Libra cardinal eclipse that will become more prevalent in 2014, it gets more interesting, especially since the day of the Uranus-Pluto square and inferior conjunction between Mercury retrograde and the Sun occurs on a dark moon before a Solar Eclipse.  However, when we take in all of the other myriad transits occurring during this time period, outlined above, it becomes even more extraordinary.  If you have planets in your chart around the degrees of 8 to 10 or so, you will especially want to investigate how the upcoming transits will impact your chart.

In addition to the prominence of Saturn in Scorpio in relation to Mercury, the next planet that becomes prominent upon a closer look is Neptune in Pisces.  This is because when Mercury in Scorpio eventually stations direct on November 10, 2013 it will be in trine to Neptune, and then Neptune will also be stationing direct a few days later on November 14, 2013, meaning that Mercury and Neptune will both be stationing direct at the same time in trine to one another.  The connection between this Scorpio Mercury retrograde cycle and Pisces Neptune is deep rooted, and will be important for those of us doing deep processing because the next Mercury retrograde cycle that will happen will be in Pisces and then Aquarius in February of 2014, aligned with Neptune in Pisces to such an extent that when Mercury stations retrograde it will be conjunct Neptune in Pisces.  Thus, at this time and across the next five months, the universe is displaying clear signs of the significant relationship between Mercury retrograde and Neptune in Pisces.  Neptune is a planet of illusion, and while one may argue that all of life is an illusion, it is through our perception of reality and what we choose to focus on through observation or belief that often pulls us into illusory thinking leading to behavior misaligned with how to navigate at an optimal level.  Since the current Scorpio Mercury will conjunct both Saturn and the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio three times during this time period, our greatest growth will come through taking a brutally honest look at ourselves in the mirror and facing our fears and past wounds in a way that helps transform them like a Phoenix in the fire, so that we can more fully experience the now and be more fully alive in the present moment of our current reality.  However, since we will be experiencing this potential at a time of Mercury being retrograde, we will gain awareness of a path toward transformation less through rational analysis and more  through following omens, signs, intuition, and images from dream that arise before us.

In contrast, if we act from a place of past fear or wounding, victimize ourselves or focus on blaming others, it takes us into a greater likelihood of the lower nature of Scorpio, the more manipulative side that will use illusion in order to try to manipulate, control, or shame others.   Even if we are doing our own hard work of authentic and honest processing at this time, it will be important to remember that many people around us will not be doing deep internal work, and that many people may continue to act out or throw tantrums of one kind or another from a state of mind of believing that they understand reality in a way that is not actually connected to the deep, regenerative shifts in reality that will be in process at this time.  Those fixated in belief of one kind or another, unwilling to examine the underpinnings of their beliefs or their judgments toward others, most likely will end up coming into conflict with others to a greater level of intensity than normal as the square between Uranus and Pluto comes into exactness on November 1, 2013.

Traditionally, November 1 is known as the “Day of the Dead,” a time to honor family ancestors through artistic expression and symbolic perception that are perfect for a time of Mercury being retrograde in Scorpio.  However, the Day of the Dead  this year will be an especially auspicious time to also release past family karma that we may discover is a source of limitation for us, as November 1 will be a Dark Moon prior to a Solar Eclipse in which there will be a conjunction in Scorpio between the Sun and Mercury retrograde, in addition to the square between Uranus and Pluto.   A great help will be the Grand Water Trine that has been occurring between Scorpio Saturn, Cancer Jupiter, and Pisces Chiron, the transitional celestial bodies of astrology that help bridge the more personal energy of Mercury, Venus, and Mars with the more galactic and “out there” energy of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.  In fact, Jupiter will be stationing retrograde around the time of the Mercury retrograde cycle when Mercury becomes a Morning Star (this will be discussed in more detail below), and Pisces Chiron will be stationing direct at the end of November at the same time that Mercury will be picking up speed in its forward movement and leaving the retrograde “shadow” zone, meaning that Mercury will be moving past the point of its retrograde stationing at the same time that Chiron in Pisces stations direct.  Among other themes, the stationing of Cancer Jupiter and Pisces Chiron during this time reveals that part of our Scorpio Mercury work will be about ancestral memories, family karma, family dynamics of our early childhood as well as all of the “family” dynamics of one sort or another we have created through relationship in our lifetime.  The more we can sit with and sense the feelings that come up, without moving into a stagnant mindset of victimizaiton or negativity, the more we can work on releasing some habitual thought cycles that have been limiting our full potential and expression.

Finally, it is also significant that this Scorpio Mercury retrograde cycle will feature sextiles between Mercury and both Mars and Venus, meaning that there will also be important opportunities to work on our personal issues and behaviors at this time.  As already mentioned, Mars being in the sign of Virgo and so in mutual reception with Mercury during this retrograde phase is a perfect use of the Virgo Mars energy, an archetype that can utilize various healing techniques and tools to problem solve and fine tune personal issues and patterns.  At the same time of the Lunar Eclipse and the stationing of Mercury retrograde, Mars in Virgo was in direct opposition to Neptune in Pisces, adding even further drive and potential to our ability to deeply examine what sorts of illusions or misguided beliefs or judgments may be operating in our personal sphere of interaction with the world around us.  The exact sextile between Virgo Mars and Scorpio Mercury will come at the same time of the inferior conjunction between Mercury and the Sun on November 1, the same day as the square between Uranus and Pluto- this is an extraordinary moment to align our actions and desires with the shift of feeling and perception we could be experiencing, in order to lead us onto a more fruitful path going forward.  However, on a cautionary note again with the aspects between all of this and Neptune in Pisces, with Scorpio Mercury moving retrograde, we also must remember that what we could be sensing at this time may be existing in the more ethereal or astral realms than in the physical and concrete reality around us.  It is a perfect time, however, to plant the seeds of bright dreams and great visions for our future.

In comparison, Venus will shift into Capricorn and come into an exact sextile with Mercury around the time that Mercury stations direct in trine to Neptune in Pisces.  Within a week, Venus in Capricorn will then become conjunct Pluto and in square to Uranus in Aries.  Again, if we have been processing and releasing we could come into an opportunity to gain a greater capacity to begin manifesting greater abundance for ourselves and others in our life at this time.  However, if we are still clinging to past beliefs and conceptions about our life and reality at this time, we could just as well face a great personal crisis or come into conflict with others.  Since there are so many intense transits occurring during this time, there is no doubt that all of us will be stepping into challenging circumstances that test our mettle, and for those working on developing a more authentic identity for themselves, this newfound sense of identity will also surely be tested.  However, Venus coming into contact with Pluto in Capricorn will also be in sextile to Saturn in Scorpio and the North Node of the Moon, and so the difficulties could also be part of a great transformation we will eventually be grateful occurred in our life.

Hermes

Guide between the Upper and Underworld

Despite a wealth of mythic support for the role of Mercury as being a Guide of Souls, the majority of astrological writing focuses on Mercury as being about communication issues rather than the relationship between our conscious and unconscious perceptions and the core issues of our psyche that connect with our ability to rebirth a more fully actualized Self.  Demetra George has two lectures I recently listened to entitled “Hermes: Guide of Souls” and “Hermes: Guardian of Thresholds” that are available for a total of fifteen dollars on her website, lectures that are well worth the money for anyone interested in gaining a deeper mythic understanding for the Mercury cycle in astrology.  In these two lectures Demetra illustrated how Mercury is a figure who can mediate between the upperworld and the underworld in myth in a similar manner to how in the retrograde cycle we are currently experiencing, Mercury also guides us to a descent into the underworld in order to ascend again back to the upperworld with the potential for a reborn Mercury to utilize in our daily life.

Mercury never goes more than 28 degrees away from the Sun, and fascinatingly enough at the beginning of October 2013 Mercury reached its greatest degree of elongation from the Sun at the same time it became conjunct the North Node of the Moon and Saturn in Scorpio.  This first pass of Mercury across Saturn and the North Node at the time it began to shift into its slower phase that leads to stationing retrograde, set the theme for this cycle as being about taking total responsibility for our responses to and beliefs about life with the type of intensity demanded by a triple conjunction in Scorpio between Mercury, Saturn, and the North Node of the Moon.

During the time from this first conjunction between Mercury, Saturn, and the North Node until now, Mercury has been an evening star and so operating on more of a subjective, instinctual, intuitive, and reflective level of perception.  On October 21 Mercury stationed retrograde as an evening star, deepening and intensifying the intuitive sense of Mercury.  However, an even more important date to focus on is October 25, when Mercury retrograde reaches its phasis point of being 15 degrees ahead of the Sun- this is the Heliacal set in the West of Mercury at Sunset, when Mercury will shift from a visible evening star to becoming invisible, the day in which Mercury descends into the underworld.  From this first day of Mercury’s descent into the underworld up until November 1 when Mercury reaches its inferior conjunction with the Sun, we will be experiencing the most mystical and mysterious Mercury manifestations, a time in which we will more readily receive messages from our unconscious, intuition, dreams, omens, and signs.  As Demetra George has taught, Mercury at this time will be a guide to our subjective and inner realms, and will be able to perceive through symbols more so than the articulation of words.  This period of the Mercury retrograde cycle is similar to the Dark Moon phase, a time in which we gain a greater capacity to release old thought forms and concepts in order to prepare for an integration of the new visions on the horizon ahead of us.  The ability for deep transformation will be facilitated at this time by Mercury retrograde in Scorpio becoming conjunct with Saturn on October 29, a few days after entering the underworld.  This will be a powerful day for intention and to become aware on an intuitive level of what needs to shift and what we can allow to be- we will want to open ourselves at the same time to the possibility that some of the things we are called to shift at this time could be some of the very same things we have drawn great strength and pride from in our past.

Next, on November 1 we will experience the square between Uranus and Pluto at the same time of the inferior conjunction between Mercury retrograde and the Sun in Scorpio.  The inferior conjunction between Mercury and the Sun is like the potent moment of conception of the Mercury retrograde cycle.  Whatever circumstance we find ourselves in on this day, an experience which could be intense as we ride the wave of the Uranus-Pluto square, remember to take the time to do something symbolic, even if only for a moment, to honor the rebirth of Mercury and the potential the moment will offer for us to plant the seeds of a new vision aligned with our passion and purpose.  Remember, as this pivotal moment occurs a couple of days before a Solar Eclipse, we may be in a very disoriented and confused state of mind, so any practices we can take into this time period to help us relax, ground, and be present will be helpful.

Finally, following the Solar Eclipse of November 3, a conjunction between Mercury retrograde in Scorpio and the North Node of the Moon, and then Jupiter in Cancer stationing retrograde on November 7, Mercury will enter its next significant phase of being reborn as a Morning Star and becoming visible again at Sunrise in the East on November 9 when it reaches the phasis point of being 15 degrees behind the Sun.  At this time Mercury will ascend to the upperworld again and become more curious to gather new information with a slight shift to a more objective, logical, and conscious perception as Mercury will station direct on the next day.  In the weeks following November 10, Mercury will begin picking up speed as it moves direct enthusiastically as the fleet footed messenger again, finally moving out of it’s retrograde zone on November 27, 2013.

the_magus_tots_lg

The phase of Mercury retrograde we will enter on October 25 when the Heliacal set at Sunset occurs not only corresponds to Mercury descending into the underworld, it also corresponds to Mercury functioning as the archetypal Magician.  Hermes in ancient Greek myth performed magical acts at various times, and then in Hellenistic Egypt the ulitmate magician, Hermes Trismegistus was created through an alchemical combination of the mythic figures of Hermes and Thoth.  In tarot, however, Mercury has always been connected to The Magician and linked to an ability to use all of the elements, all resources and techniques at one’e disposal, to completely transform one’s life through a clear and strong intention, vivid invocation of a new vision, and the channeling of universal energy.  In the image of the Magus above painted by Joyce Eakins from the Tarot of the Spirit deck, one can see the elemental tools of the pentacle, wand, sword, and cup:  the use of elemental tools to transform our lives not only corresponds to the Scorpio Mercury retrograde phase we are entering now, but also to the mutual reception with Mars in Virgo that will be ripening to an exact sextile on the day of the inferior conjunction between Mercury and the Sun, the day of conception for our reborn Mercury.  Mars in Virgo is a tool user, so it will be wise at this time to center within ourselves through each of our own unique creative gifts, tools, and techniques.

Like many other tarot decks, the Tarot of the Spirit deck from which The Magus image above is from connects tarot with not only Astrology, but also the Qabalistic Tree of Life.  Mercury as The Magician card reveals the primal role Mercury plays in our process of manifesting form in our life through the Tree of Life, as The Magus connects the first path of Kether or “The Gate of Potential,” with the third path of Binah, or “The Gate of Form.”  Kether corresponds with the aces of the deck and the concept of Source, the Source of all existence, whereas Binah corresponds with the divine feminine and mother, the realm of receptivity.  The only other major arcana directly connected to Kether are The Fool and The High Priestess, so in this way Mercury as The Magician is able to help us transform our lives through wielding the elemental tools because it is the direct conduit between Source and Form in our reality.  During this Mercury retrograde time in Scorpio, a time period that may correspond with great calamity around us, may we each take the moment to ground and realize our potential to transform not only our thinking, perception, and communication, but also the very fabric of our lives.

References

Eakins, Pamela. (1992).  Tarot of the Spirit. Weiser.

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

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

Wikipedia on “Liminality.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liminality

The Neptune and Jupiter Cycle

Love Angel

Grand Water Trine of July 2013:

Trinity in the Neptune-Jupiter cycle

Angelic grace or imaginal joviality may be evoked by the conjunction of Neptune and Jupiter, but their cycle has a deeper relationship with the evolution of consciousness.  In July 2013 we are now in the first quarter trine phase of this most recent cycle, and this current trine between Jupiter in Cancer and Neptune in Pisces has demanded a great deal of attention as it has been part of a grand water trine with Saturn in Scorpio (Saturn in Scorpio is in a disseminating trine to both Jupiter in Cancer and Neptune in Pisces).  I recently came across a copy of  Dane Rudhyar’s 1958 article about The Jupiter and Neptune Cycle, originally published in Horoscope magazine, and have been thinking about it in relation to the current phase involving Jupiter and Neptune.

Rudhyar believed the Neptune and Jupiter cycle is one of the most important planetary cycles to contemplate because it is the only one with a consistent pattern of successive conjunctions between the planets occurring in successive signs of the zodiac.  As a result, Rudhyar placed it with the Jupiter-Saturn cycle and the eclipse cycles to be one of the most important cycles to ponder in relation to historical analysis.  Rudhyar also highlighted the lunar phase quality of the Neptune-Jupiter cycle because it occurs in relation to the number 13, with the entire cycle lasting for 166 years (adds up to 13) and each successive conjunction happening every thirteen years.   The fact that Neptune functions as the Sun in this analogy, and Jupiter as the Moon, is interesting in light of Rudhyar’s analysis because he viewed Jupiter as corresponding to societal beliefs and attitudes we may conform to for security purposes, and Neptune as corresponding to more of an evolutionary Soul path forward for us to follow, albeit a more disorienting one that can be difficult for many human beings to integrate in a grounded manner.

In his article Rudhyar stressed the fact that Jupiter and Saturn as planetary archetypes both connect to the concept that human beings interact in groups and form societies and cultures, producing communities within these that have shared values, ideals, needs, and memories.  As a result there also ends up being a shared language, laws, religions, institutions, and cultures. Rudhyar further reasoned that while Saturn correlates with the boundaries a person embodies in their participation through the role, function, and place they act from, Jupiter gives each individual person the feeling that they belong or are connected in a community through shared knowledge and belief.  Rudhyar explained that Jupiter does this because it “deals particularly with social-cultural-religious feelings and the expansion that comes to the individual who operates warmly in terms of these feelings, reiciprocated (usually) by others, either emotionally (happiness) or in terms of concrete values (wealth)” (Rudhyar, The Jupiter-Neptune Cycle, paragraph 18).

In connection to the Neptune cycle, and how we tend to think of Neptune as corresponding to our connection to Goddess/God/Spirit, we can thus infer that Jupiter and Saturn deal with the shared societal aspects of organized religion, and the ways in which one should behave in society as a follower of the particular organized religion one follows.  In case one is not religious, Jupiter and Saturn would thus connect with the shared societal aspects of how one “should” or “should not” act if one would like to be viewed as “successful” by the consensus culture with which one belongs.  Yet as we know from experience, sometimes what the consensus culture defines as normal, such as ignoring a homeless person on the street or keeping a secret about a wound from person in authority over us so as not to damage the associated institution, may not feel inside us like it is how we truly want to act in the moment.  As a result, Rudhyar made the astute observation that although Jupiter is usually described as the “great benefic” among astrologers, in reality it often can correlate with conformity and resisting the call of an evolution in consciousness:

Astrologers are haunted with the idea that Jupiter is “the greater fortune” and a symbol of all that is “good.”  But good and fortunate for what-  for the easy way of complacent and nearly automatic repetition of the past!  Jupiter gives good fortune to those who conform, who follow the rules of the social game, the political game, the religious ritual, the way of the “classical” great masters in the arts.  Truly, there is nothing wrong in conforming; and there are vast practical benefits in doing so.  But conforming is not taking the new evolutionary step.  This step-  this new transformation or “mutation”-  requires, like the taking of any walking step, an initial loss of balance, a “fall,” immediately followed by a “recovery.”  To walk is constantly to lose one’s balance, then recover it as the foot again touches the ground a yard or so ahead.

The Jupiter-Neptune cycle is very much like a walking process.  Every 13 years-  and, even more, every 166 years-  mankind should take a step forward, even if only a tiny one.  It should be a step ahead of our past traditional, social, cultural, and religious sense of human relationship.  Unfortunately, such a step tends to lead at first to confusion, disarray, dismay, perhaps temporary blindess and panicky escape “back to the womb” of what may be thought to be a secure and familiar institution or religious organization.  However, progress is only through the confusion and the glowing mist over the hills, yonder.  There is no way ever of going ahead, except through!

–Dane Rudhyar, The Jupiter-Neptune Cycle, paragraphs 23 and 24

The connection between Jupiter and Saturn with what can fall within the boundaries of consensus thought links to the fact that for a long time Jupiter and Saturn were the outermost known planets of our solar system.  With each successive planetary discovery, first Uranus, then Neptune, then Pluto, and now we know that there is a vast array of celestial objects even beyond this, with each new discovery a new collective evolution in consciousness occurred, such as Uranus being discovered during revolutionary times in the United States and France, and Neptune being discovered during a time of spiritual movements in the 19th Century.  In his article on the Jupiter and Neptune cycle, Rudhyar described that along these lines Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are galactic ambassadors for us connecting us to another level of reality, a “stage of transition between the solar system unit and the vaster cosmic whole, the galaxy; more precisely, they refer to certain basic modes of activity by which this galactic whole constantly impresses its powers upon our tiny solar system, ‘feeds’ (in a sense) this solar system and works toward its closer integration into the galactic field” (Rudhyar, paragraph 19).

However, these outer planets prove difficult for us to integrate and more often than not impact us in a manner that reveals how we are not wholly integrated with our true soul path and work in the world.  While Uranus can be an awakener that unexpectedly shocks us and shakes us free from the Saturn role or Jupiter belief we have identified our ego and personality with in society, Rudhyar illuminated that it is Neptune that then dissolves the shattered remnants of this formerly crystallized identity, exposing our consciousness wide open with the potential to feel  vulnerable and disoriented.  When we respond to this heightened sensitivity and openness by clinging to escapist pursuits in order to grasp at a sense of security or familiarity, we bring in the side of Neptune described as being illusionary, foggy, glamorous, or unfocused.  Yet Neptune is a universal archetype of unity and unconditional love, and as Rudhyar described “an agent of the vast galactic field of cosmic existence . . . an emissary of the greater to the lesser” that “dissolves the obsolete narrowness of the Saturnine focus” because of the deep compassionate nature of its archetype (Rudhyar, paragraph 21).  This is how Neptune represents the future in relation to Jupiter.

Rudhyar concluded that the Neptune and Jupiter cycle therefore symbolizes the steps we can take as an individual in transforming our established social beliefs, and the manner in which as a society of people we are moving forward in our collective evolution.  Rudhyar emphasized that the Jupiter-Neptune cycle by itself does not necessarily correlate with startling events, but instead emerges more as a change in feeling regarding what our human interactions mean.  The following chart image is taken from the Rudhyar Archival Project’s republication of his article that was originally published in September 1958 in Horoscope Magazine:  you can see that the conjunction happened in a successive sign of the zodiac every cycle except for the cycles of 1984 and 1997 that each happened in Capricorn, and the cycles of 1779 and 1792 that each happened in Libra.

jupiter_neptune_dates

In his article Rudhyar analyzed how you can compare the previous cycle of Jupiter and Neptune conjunct in a zodiac sign in order to help understand the meaning of the new cycle.  For example, when he wrote this article in 1958 Jupiter and Neptune were having their conjunction in Scorpio, which connected to the previous Scorpio conjunction in 1804.  Rudhyar noted that 1804 found Napolean Bonaparte an Emperor of France following the previous conjunction in Libra in 1792 that found the monarchy abolished and France declared a republic.  And just think of what occurred alone in the United States of America between the Scorpio conjunction of Neptune and Jupiter in 1958 and their next conjunction in Sagitarius in 1971!  Thus, from this viewpoint while the tumultuous events of the 1960s are often associated with the conjunction between Pluto and Uranus that occurred in Virgo, we can also connect them with the theme of Scorpio that was introduced in 1958 through the Jupiter-Neptune cycle.

Similarly, while we associate the intensity of events occurring today with the square occuring between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn, we can also interpret them through the Jupiter-Neptune archetypal theme of Aquarius that was introduced in 2009.  Looking back to the last Aquarius conjunction of Jupiter and Neptune in 1843 could possibly give us some guidance (for example, in the realm of philosophy I noticed that Kierkegaard’s Either/Or and other writing was published in this year and that Friedrich Nietzsche was born a year later- two of the “fathers” of Existential philosophy which objectified and analyzed in an Aquarian manner the individual’s role in society and religion), but events of today are obviously very different from events in 1843.  When we consider our current cycle between Jupiter and Neptune that began on May 27, 2009 in Aquarius, one major news event happening in the United States was the first phase of newly elected President Barack Obama’s administration attempting to successfully establish itself following the infamous “first hundred days” period.  The election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the USA was an Aquarian event that liberated the U.S. presidency from past patterns, as he was the first African-American to be elected, as well as the son of a single mother who had a compelling story that resonated with many of the U.S. people.  One of his administration’s first intentions was the Aquarian ideal of reforming the U.S. Health Care system through opening up health care to citizens with pre-existing health issues, among other reforms.  This action had a parallel to a previous Jupiter-Neptune cycle initiated during the first term of a presidency- the 1932 cycle in Virgo that saw Franklin Roosevelt (born a half year later than the  Jupiter-Neptune conjunction of 1881) elected, and then his “New Deal” passed a year later.  Similarly, after a process of excessive political gamesmanship between political enemies and competing interests which connected more with the conforming aspect of Jupiter that Rudhyar referenced in his article, the Obama administration was able to pass an imperfect compromise.  In connection to the recent first quarter trine, it is nonetheless interesting that in the same week as the exact trine happened, President Obama finally made a new public stance and push in order to promote the Affordable Health Care for America Act, or what has now been commonly referred to as “Obamacare.”

Of course, much more has been going on in this time period than attempts at health care reform, as we have been in an intense Aquarian storm in the sense of dramatic events and crises that have evoked a collective emphatic response from humanity.  One of the most obvious connections to the Aquarian themed archetype of this phase of the Neptune-Jupiter cycle has been issues and ethical questions surrounding the world-wide web, the Internet, and social media.  For example, we have had the Wikileaks scandals, the Bradley Manning leaks, and now the “Snow Man” leaks in which we have learned the U.S. government can access all of our social media and Internet communication anytime it wants.  There have been a lot of attempts from activists and others seeking to liberate (Aquarius) information to the public, with a sharp backlash from power players/institutions (Leo) wanting to keep control.  For example, academic institutions have prosecuted people, at extremely high monetary value, they have labeled as being hackers for attempting to open public access for free to academic journals one would have had to pay a fee for in the past.  This has been in contrast to the “open source” movement that has been popular among many at the forefront of technology in which they have intentionally made all of their information public and free in order to receive “outside the box” criticism and feedback from members of the public who would normally not have the access.  With regards to the current NSA control of cell phone and Internet records, to the wide array of issues that have come up through the instantaneous manner in which the global community is now connected through social media, we have been in a Neptunian fog so to speak with how exactly to work out these issues.  However, the potential power of these forms of communication have become very clear, as one of the greatest Aquarian uses of social media in this time period has been through the use of it in organizing revolutions such as the Arab Spring.  Looking back upon the last year of intense events that are far too many to even begin to document here, it is also important to remember that with regards to Jupiter and Neptune, we also experienced a first quarter square between Gemini Jupiter and Pisces Neptune that first occurred in June through July of 2012, and then in a wider aspect again in January through March of 2013 after a retrograde phase of Jupiter in Gemini.

Aquarius 2009 Cycle

Trayvon Martin by Rudy Shepherd

The above image of Trayvon Martin and his father was made by the artist Rudy Shepherd, an old college friend of mine who attended a private and religiously-affiliated university with me in the Southeast of the United States of America.  Being from the South in the USA (I grew up outside New Orleans, Louisiana and then Atlanta, Georgia) I am very familiar with the racial dynamics that recently exploded here surrounding the verdict on George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin.  The Grand Water Trine involving the Neptune-Jupiter trine coincided with a cathartic emotional release and rage from the African-American community and other people of color who have lived under the constant threat of racial profiling from the American criminal justice system.  In addition, there has also been a lot of bickering between people who consider themselves to be “White allies” and people who appear to be either ignorant or nonreflective of the “White privilege” they intrinsically possess as being a member of society in the USA.  Whether you agree with the verdict or not, the indisputable facts are that George Zimmerman believed (Jupiter) he had the community-sanctioned authority of being in a “Neighborhood Watch” role (Saturn), and chose to focus on Trayvon Martin, an African American youth wearing a hoodie and buying skittles, he did not recognize as being suspicious and a potential criminal threat.  A response from someone with a different set of beliefs may have been to walk up to Trayvon and have a brief friendly conversation, but instead Zimmerman chose to follow him with a gun, call the police, and continue to stalk Martin despite being told not to by the police.  There is in fact no way to separate out the racial profiling aspect of this situation, and whatever altercation between these two individuals that followed does not change the fact that the entire situation was rooted in racial profiling.  Racial profiling is a serious and well-documented aspect of American culture, and this particular event drew a collective emotional connection through Aquarian aspects of social media technology and group mind connection.  The quick manner in which a story like this can circulate throughout social media, and the strong emotional response it can manifest that then can quickly turn into a massive emotional reaction  (perhaps in this case having a stronger than normal correlation to the grand water trines between Jupiter-Neptune-Saturn and Mercury-Chiron-North Node of the Moon) is to me a perfect example of this being an Aquarius phase of the Neptune-Jupiter cycle.

The opportunity presented by the grand trine between Cancer Jupiter, Pisces Neptune, and Scorpio Saturn that happened at this time inside of the larger Aquarius phase of the Neptune-Jupiter cycle, is for a new dialogue concerning issues of race to occur in the United States of America with the hope to throw off and liberate consensus thought from some of it’s past limitations of mainstream belief concerning racism.  There is also the opportunity now for people outraged by racial profiling and other aspects of racism in America to re-organize themselves into more productive groups and organizations to do something pro-active about this situation in an Aquarian manner.  In the community college classes I have taught to many members of the Neptune-Uranus generation born in the 1990s, many students of this generation do not believe that “race” even exists and can be initially reluctant to examine dynamics between oppression and race in the USA.  In class I would respond that while I agree with them that “race” does not necessarily exist besides the idea of a “human race” (Neptune), the fact that there is a strong cultural belief in “race” and “racism” (Jupiter) means that it is an issue in need of examination.  Despite some talk from some people of us existing now in a “post-racial” society because we have an African-American President for the first time, the Trayvon Martin killing now stands as a historical landmark clearly revealing to everyone the extent of racism that still exists in this country.  If we hope to move forward as a people and a collective and survive on this planet in the looming Age of Aquarius, it is imperative for us to initiate new conversations and work at healing the gaping wounds individuals and groups carry with regards to racism and a lack of equity and inclusiveness.  This is not easy work, and during a time of incredibly destructive religious wars occurring across the planet, it may seem impossible.  However, the 2009 celestial partnering of Neptune and Jupiter in Aquarius indicates that working on our group dynamics as a people is one of our tasks in our collective evolution.

With regards to our current President Obama, a leader who has a Pisces Chiron currently conjunct transiting Neptune and in trine to transiting Jupiter in Cancer and Saturn in Scorpio, the Trayvon Martin story finally either pushed him or gave him the inner strength to publicly talk openly to the American people about the racism and judgment he has experienced as an African-American male in this country.  While some think this was a politically motivated talk or want to demean it on account of various transgressions enacted by his administration, the fact that a President of the United States openly talked to the press about hearing car doors locked as he walked down the street and being followed by clerks in stores when he has been shopping is a huge monumental event in the history of the United States.  With regards to President Obama on a personal level, the grand water trine coincided with an opportunity for the issues of his Pisces Chiron in his first house, issues that in part relate to his identity as a mixed race son of a single white mother, to be released- watching video of his “speech,” you can visibly see how energetically confining his public role has been for him and the incredible amount of restraint he has carried in completely avoiding talking about his identity as an African-American male to the American people.  With regards to the effect of this speech, it gave an opportunity for many African-Americans and people of color for the first time to hear the ultimate public authority in the United States speak from direct experience of experiencing racism in the USA.  Maybe it is my own Aquarian ideals speaking here, but I strongly feel it is important to not discount this moment and the potential opening that could result.  However, for productive growth to occur it will important to focus on how to most effectively utilize the Aquarian concepts of collectivity, technology, communication, inventiveness, protest, and liberating thought in order to most effectively create new change.

Keeping in mind that the grand water trine of Jupiter, Neptune, and Saturn is occurring within a first quarter square between Uranus and Pluto, we can directly connect these events to the mid-1960s when Pluto and Uranus first came into range of the conjunction in Virgo they are now in a square to each other from in the signs of Aries and Capricorn.  Fittingly, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr. Bernice King, gave a public statement on social media following the verdict in the Geogre Zimmerman case that connected these events with the civil rights movement her father helped lead in the 1960s.  Again, remember events in the 1960s can be connected to the Scorpio cycle of Neptune and Jupiter that was initiated in 1958, so it is also interesting that Saturn is in Scorpio today:

It’s ’63 again.  NOT GUILTY.  Just like those who got off for the bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham back in ’63.  I’m stunned and disappointed.  It’s a sad day in the history of American jurisprudence that our justice system continues to fall short of the truth, especially when a person can be going about their daily business and ultimately be killed because of a false assumption.  In the words of a friend, “any law that justifies the actions of Zimmerman is an unjust law.” In the words of my father “We’ve got some difficult days ahead.” Let us seek God for his guidance during this time. God is a God of Justice, mercy and grace. All protests against the verdict must demonstrate an irrevocable commitment to Nonviolence, to honor the dignity of Trayvon Martin’s life and not add further tragedy to what his family and the people of Sanford have already experienced. Now is the time to create a culture of Nonviolence.

–Dr. Bernice King, facebook post on July 13, 2013

Dr. King’s call for a nonviolent protest again connects these events with the Aquarius phase of the Neptune-Jupiter cycle we are currently in.  Her reference of God is also interesting as an example of the interplay between Jupiter and Neptune as archetypes.  During the Zimmerman trial, the prosecution played a video tape of George Zimmerman also invoking God in relation to his actions.  In an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, in response to being asked if he could go back in time if he would have done anything differently that day, Zimmerman replied not only that he would not do anything differently, but that in fact it was God’s plan that he did what he did.  These contrasting uses of God in relation to this situation is a good example of how human beings can get themselves to believe anything, or another way of saying that is we can create and believe any illusion that we want to.

Although in his article Rudhyar pointed out the “lower” side of Jupiter that can be not only conforming but also fanatical about consensus beliefs that may not truly reflect the evolutionary trajectory of the moment, when we examine the glyph for Jupiter, a half circle sitting on top of a cross, we can see how the half circle representing higher mind or Soul being above the cross of matter corresponds to the potential of Jupiter to help transmute human consciousness above attachment to matter.  Therefore, Jupiter as an archetype is receptive to a close connection with awareness from the Neptune archetype, but the trick is in the discernment and spiritual or esoteric discrimination one employs in navigating these energies.  Again, just because Jupiter can correspond to what one “should” or “should not do” is not intrinsically an issue- however, it can become an enormous issue of our psyche if we have refrained from acting in accordance with how our true heart would call us to act for fear of breaking or going against a Jupiterian belief or taboo associated with consensus thought, religion, society . . .  In this way we cut ourselves off from our true perception, communication, interaction, and Self.  Alan Oken has taught about how one can employ esoteric discrimination through intuitively aligning with certain energies or vibrations without the need to label them as “good” or “bad,” because if our hearts are open, we do not need someone to tell us that we want to nurture a baby instead of harming a baby.

In Evolutionary Astrology, Jeffrey Wolf Green taught that Jupiter corresponds to beliefs and is a key factor in helping us align with Natural Law to a greater extent.  Green taught that the Jupiter archetype corresponds to how human beings form beliefs, and that there also can be a difference between what one believes and what the ultimate Truth of the situation is.  Green also defined the knowledge we can gain with Jupiter as not being a result of our beliefs, but instead is a result of our direct experience with the actual truth of anything.  In comparison, Green taught that Neptune as an archetype correlates with the ultimate meaning of anything, including the meaning of the nature of our ultimate Source of Creation.  As a result, Green taught that through the combination of Jupiter and Neptune humans can create any illusion, delusion, or belief that they want, including a connection to the ultimate meaning of God/Spirit/Source.  Furthermore, Green taught that because there is a natural square between the archetypes of Sagitarius and Pisces, zodiac signs commonly associated with Jupiter and Neptune, a crisis of consciousness can result when we discover that our beliefs do not align with the actual truth of a situation we realize through direct experience.  As a result, Green taught that the evolutionary purpose of experiencing disillusionment is so that we can ultimately align ourselves to a greater extent with the actual truth of anything, including the ultimate meaning of anything.

Perhaps it can be helpful for any of us experiencing profound disillusionment at this time to consider this evolutionary purpose of disillusionment described by Jeff Green.  This concept of a crisis in consciousness also hearkens back to who I believe is the originator of the term “crisis in cosciousness” in astrology, Dane Rudhyar, and his analysis that experiences connected with the cycle of Neptune and Jupiter will most likely involve a “fall” that is full of “disorientation” and “confusion.”  But instead of running “back to the womb” of our comfort zone and habitual comforts, we can draw up the strength to recover and step forward on our evolutionary journey.  In connection with the potential for profound collective soul work that could come from this Aquarius phase of the Neptune-Jupiter cycle, it is also important to remember that it sometimes takes intense crises to liberate the hearts and minds of people into a united focus upon a cause.

Poseidon

Owen Barfield

Jupiter first quarter trine to Neptune at Birth

As a way to come at an additional understanding of how the Jupiter-Neptune cycle can play out in birth charts, I thought it would be interesting to give a historical example.  When considering a conjunction between Jupiter and Neptune in the birth chart, the individual could in many ways be instinctively tapped into the wave of the future, without perhaps being as consciously aware of the new vision as someone with a different aspect between the planets.  One example of this would be the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, born during the Libra conjunction of Neptune and Jupiter in 1792.  While Shelly did achieve a level of fame in his meteoric lifetime, he was also criticized as a dilettante and crazy political radical by contemporaries living from the consensus Jupiter-Saturn thought patterns of the time.  However, in connection with the future-oriented meaning of this cycle in Libra,  in the successive generations following the death of Shelley he became a major inspiration in not only the field of poetry, but also in activism through his written proclamations concerning non-violent resistance in political protest and a vegetarian lifestyle.

In Evolutionary Astrology a first quarter trine aspect between Pluto and a planet is connected with the individual being “full” of their evolutionary purpose, and I feel in a similar fashion an individual with a first quarter trine aspect between Neptune and Jupiter could also be full of a new vision to manifest, including a conscious awareness of how to actualize a personal reality aligned with the vision.  A profound example of a birth chart containing a first quarter trine between Neptune and Jupiter is Owen Barfield, who was born on November 9, 1898 in London, UK.  The previous conjunction between Neptune and Jupiter would have been at 14 degrees Gemini, and is the place where Barfield has his Pluto.  So being born five years after the Jupiter and Neptune conjunction here, Barfield also has his Gemini Pluto conjunct his Gemini Neptune.  He also had a Mercury conjunct Chiron conjunct Uranus on the Scorpio/Sagitarius cusp, among many other fascinating natal chart aspects.  However, for our purposes here of examining a first quarter trine aspect between Jupiter and Neptune, the life and work of Owen Barfield is a beautiful example.  The following video is summarizes many of the innovations in thought provided by Barfield:

The fact Barfield has been held up as one of the most innovative thinkers, writers, and teachers of the 20th Century aligns completely with him being born with a trine between Neptune and Jupiter following their conjunction in Gemini in 1894.  With a Jupiter in Libra he formed relationships with and inspired two of the most influential novelists of the 20th Century, Tolkien and Lewis, the authors of The Lord of the Rings and the Narnia stories, and he was able to create channels through which to express his Neptunian-informed thought. We can see the influence of Neptune on his thinking in his ability to discover aspects of the evolution of consciousness through his Gemini exploration of the history of the English language.  He perceived how metaphors reveal a significance beyond a materialistic outlook, and how the fact that metaphors can only be understood by the imagination but not by logical reasoning does not mean they are not real.  As the video above quoted, he saw how a butterfly and a flower are a “material manifestation of an immaterial unity from which both the butterfly and the flower sprung, an invisible common ancestor if you like.”  His writing and thoughts on “thinking about thinking,” the “evolution of consciousness,” “collective representations,” and “original participation versus final participation” are all lovely examples of a human chanelling Neptunian thought through Jupiterian expression.

It may be of interest that I recently discovered Owen Barfield during this time of the Jupiter-Neptune trine through a social media (Aquarius) post by the Seattle astrologer Kate Petty and so for me coming across Barfield’s writing has been a great synthesis of many aspects of my recent thinking.  In particular I am drawn to his concept of participation and how humans became cut off from nature with a feeling of being isolated and enclosed in their physical bodies, but by developing our imagination we can return to an awareness of our participation with Nature without losing our independent self-consciousness.  He further described our consciousness as being more enclosed within the world as a whole than within the confines of our skin and skull.  He invited us to release our attachment to viewing our minds as having evolved from a material and unconscious universe, to seeing that in the history of our world that matter has emerged from mind, and not mind from matter.  The following poem is quoted among others at the end of the video:

Meditation

Light in the world-

World in the mind-

Mind in the heart-

Heart in the night-

Pain in the day-

Strength in the pain-

Light in the strength-

World in the light.

–Owen Barfield, from Orpheus:  A Verse Drama

It is also interesting examining the life of Barfield, in connection with the Neptune-Jupiter cycle, that he chose to take on a more consensus Jupiter-Saturn role at one point in order to help out with his family business.  However, he eventually returned to his true Soul work of communicating liberating thought through a prolific period of writing and publishing books that took up the rest of his lifetime.  As the video quoted at the end, Barfield’s work served the Jupiterian and Neptunian purpose of revealing that there is a meaning of meaning, that the world has deep meaning, and that if we learn to properly listen we will hear its meaning.   May we likewise have the courage to continue forward on our own evolutionary journey of consciousness.

References

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

Sirius New Moon in Cancer

Chagall - so i came forth of the sea

New Moon in Cancer

The image above is by my favorite painter, Marc Chagall, a Cancer who is enjoying his birthday today wherever he is, as I write this.  It is called, “So I came forth of the Sea and sat down on the edge of an island in the moonshine,” and to me it encapsulates the watery astrological energy of the moment and the possibility of intuitively moving with the flow of it all, finding some sense of stillness within.  In case you haven’t heard, this is going to be a very potent New Moon in the midst of a grand water trine involving  Jupiter in Cancer, Neptune in Pisces, and Saturn in Scorpio.  Saturn is of particular prominence in the moment, having stationed direct yesterday.  Saturn being in Scorpio, ruled by a Pluto in Capricorn undergoing a square from Uranus in Aries, has the sort of energy that makes the more squeamish of astrologers run for the underground.  However, why not invite this energy in and have it help resurrect our truest path from within, just like the Moon itself emerges from its dark phase at this time to new light?

Examination of the Sabian symbol of this New Moon, as we astrologers love to do (if you haven’t noticed) bears in this case the repetition of you maybe having already read this one by Dane Rudhyar:

Cancer 17:  The unfoldment of multilevel potentialities issuing from an original germ.

Keynote:  The life urge to actualize one’s birth potential.

What is pictured here is simply the process of germination. As it unfolds from the sundered seed the plant pierces the crust of the soil and reaches up toward the light. This is a dynamic process turned outward, in contrast to the more static or introspective process of integration-through-understanding depicted in the preceding symbol. Germination is the crucifixion of the seed . . . The expanding process of self-actualization- which may mean nothing more than ego-expansion through conquest- contrasts with the introspective study of the structural relationship between, and the meaning of, the various energies and potentialities of one’s nature (svarupa in Sanskrit). The keyword is GROWTH.

from An Astrological Mandala, p. 121-2

The “preceding symbol” Rudhyar references is from sixteen degrees of Cancer, “A man studying a mandala in front of him, with the help of a very ancient book” and so is about more of a deep internal process of personality integration, in contrast to the outward expression of the potential of the individual found in the symbol associated with this New Moon at seventeen degrees of Cancer.  Rudhyar’s analysis that this self-actualization process may appear to be an “ego expansion through conquest” links with the tumultuous process we undergo through individuating ourselves, and how part of this can look like narcissism or self-absorption because of the need to figure out who we are, as part of the process of then being able to move out into the world embodying more of our multilevel potential. Again, though, this symbol points to this being more of a time of germination, or feeling the urge of our potential, not necessarily that we would actually be already living the vision at this phase of our process.

One supportive New Moon aspect going with this symbolic meaning is the fact that Venus in Leo is in trine to Uranus in Aries.  Another one is Mercury moving in retrograde in Cancer conjunct this New Moon, perfect for helping us perceive and reveal our inner potential- also, Mercury retrograde energy can be utilized in outer expression like this symbol suggests more so than you may realize from the pop astrology stereotypes about the dangers of it’s retrograde movement.    However, I cannot think of a more harmonious change in planetary movement to support such a symbol than Saturn stationing direct in Scorpio on the day before the New Moon.  Saturn being a boundary planet that is more about the collective and our role in society than a personal planet like Mercury, it’s stationing direct or retrograde can often coincide with major global events.   This is particularly the case in connection with modern Egypt, as the Arab Spring there began in 2011 with Saturn stationing retrograde, and the new phase of the Egyptian revolution that took effect this past week happened with Saturn stationing direct.  July 3 being the date of this most recent phase of Egyptian revolution is interesting because it is a date in which the Sun in Cancer is conjunct the fixed star Sirius, an important star in the ritual and myth of ancient Egypt.  In fact, conspiracy theorists believe the Founding Fathers of the USA chose the date of July 4 to be the date of “America’s Independence” because it is a date in which the Sun is aligned with Sirius.  The shifting of Saturn corresponding to major global events is also a symbolic correspondence to the power available to us on a personal level to revolutionize aspects of our lives when it stations direct.  The fact that Saturn is doing this now in the sign of Scorpio, in a grand trine aspect to Jupiter in Cancer and Neptune in Pisces, is an extraordinary symbol of transformation available to us on the deepest level of our being, if we are brave and honest enough to avoid denial and take accountability of our actions, release what is holding us back, and invoke what will propel us forward.

Today’s New Moon also happens to be conjunct Sirius, a beautiful star to behold in the sky and a star that carries a deep well of myth and tall tales encircling it from the most ancient of days, among the widest variety of indigenous cultures imaginable.  One mythic figure who is especially connected to Sirius through myth is Isis (to read my archetypal analysis of Isis click here). I was reading recently about the Isis and Osiris myth in Carl Jung’s revised version of his Symbols of Transformation, thinking there could be something there about Isis to connect with this New Moon energy.  The following quote I found I feel is a perfect addendum to the sabian symbol cited above by Dane Rudhyar:

But it is far from clear, because a new adaptation or orientation of vital importance can only be achieved in accordance with the instincts.  Lacking this, nothing durable results, only a convulsively willed, artificial product which proves in the long run to be incapable of life.  No man can change himself into anything from sheer reason; he can only change into what he potentially is.  When such a change becomes necessary, the previous mode of adaptation, already in a state of decay, is unconsciously compensated by the archetype of another mode.  If the conscious mind now succeeds in interpreting the constellated archetype in a meaningful and appropriate manner, then a viable transformation can take place.  Thus the most important relationship of childhood, the relation to the mother, will be compensated by the mother archetype as soon as detachment from the childhood state is indicated.  One such succesful interpreation has been, for instance, Mother Church, but once this form begins to show signs of age and decay a new interpretation becomes inevitable.

Even if a change does occur, the old form loses none of its attractions; for whoever sunders himself from the mother longs to get back to the mother.  This longing can easily turn into a consuming passion which threatens all that has been won.  The mother then appears on the one hand as the supreme goal, and on the other as the most frightful danger- the “Terrible Mother.”

–Carl Jung, Symbols of Transformation (2nd edition, with corrections, 1967) , p. 236

Isis giving milk

Carl Jung’s interpretation of the Isis and Osiris myth in Symbols of Transformation has an almost obsessive attachment to viewing it through the lens of incest as a taboo.  Jung focused on the sibling sexual relations between brother-sister Osiris and Isis, as well as Osiris and Nephthys being connected to the marriages between brothers and sisters that were common among the aristocracy of ancient Egypt.  Jung then connected the concept of cultural taboos to the repressive effect they can have on human instincts, and then how the separation humans developed with their instinctual natures led to cultural prohibitions associated with various taboos.  Jung believed that when children are bound to unconscious attachment to their mothers they are “still one with the animal psyche,” but that  “development of consciousness inevitably leads not only to separation from the mother, but to separation from the parents and the whole family circle and thus to a relative degree of detachment from the unconscious and the world of instinct” (p. 235).  This is the source of why in the quote above Jung reasoned that as consciousness develops away from the instincts of childhood, we are forever tempted “to make evasions and retreats, to regress to the infantile past” (p. 235).  We can look for other new sources or mother archetypes to compensate for our detachment from our mothers, but this can at times also take us down the road of illusion and addiction as coping strategies.

The fact that Sirius is known as the dog star makes me think of the instinctual strength of dogs, and the significance Jung drew to the idea of us not being able to transform ourselves only through reason, but that the process to be successful would require a transformation in accordance with our instincts.  This makes me think that if the star Sirius could symbolically embody a sense of instinct like a dog, it could be a guide at this time for helping us germinate a new level of potential from within ourselves that is aligned with the deepest levels of our instinctual nature.  In Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung connected the myth of Isis and Osiris to Sirius, the dog star, because of the role of Annubis, the jackal-headed deity of death, in helping Isis to reanimate Osiris after he had been dismembered into many pieces by Set, and how Sirius as the dog star played a major role in ancient Egyptian ceremony:

. . . the deeper meaning is connected with the astral form of the dog ceremony, i.e., the appearance of the dog-star at the highest point of the solstice.  Hence the bringing in of the dog would have a compensatory significance, death being made equal to the sun at its highest point.  This is a thoroughly psychological interpretation, as can be seen from the fact that death is quite commonly regarded as an entry into the mother’s womb (for rebirth).

–Carl Jung, Symbols of Transformation, p. 238

These themes connect strongly to me with the zodiac sign of Cancer in general, and how in mundane astrology it is ruled by the Moon, and how in esoteric astrology it is ruled by Neptune.  With the associated astrological symbolism of the Moon and Neptune, such as themes of family, mother, Spirit, Source, . . . many of us are on the wheel of spinning through stages of desire to separate from these as well as a desire to return to them, with all sorts of ramifications of this separation/return theme impacting our daily life and actions in connection with our relationship to our unconscious and instincts.  The esoteric rulership of Neptune makes me think of the birth-death-rebirth theories of Stanislav Grof, in which he connected the stage of the womb with Neptune.  This womb stage evokes the imagery of Neptune not as the wrathful Poseidon, but as the Divine Mother, the mother of matter. It also connects the sign of Cancer to the complications of connection to the oceanic psychic realm of Spirit in a manner that goes along with Neptune currently being in the sign of Pisces.  Having psychic urges or inclinations, or a desire to connect with God or Spirit or what have you, requires a strong sense of self in order to avoid drowning in the numinous ocean.  At times we may think we are engaging in a psychic experience, or a communion with the divine, when in fact we ultimately realize we were off on some sort of illusory folly.  In Soul Centered Astrology, Alan Oken illuminated the connection between Cancer with the Moon and Neptune:

The waters of the Soul/Neptune wish to pull the individual into the ocean of the collective life experience. Yet the individual cannot “swim” safely in these universal waters without first having anchored its own sense of psychological independence and particular focus of self-expression.  It is here that we come to understand that the more individualized a person becomes, the more universal he can be.  Through the expanding consciousness, the many is seen as a reflection of the One, and the Ones is seen as whole in each of Its parts.  This revelation (which some would rightly call “mystical”) is the gift of Neptune, as well as the product of a Soul-centered consciousness.

The Moon relinquishes its control to Neptune when attachment is released from those facets of life ruled by the Moon on the personality level.  Then the root chakra- the center wherein dwells the unconscious urge for self-preservation . . . loosens its dominance as the driving force behind life.  The removal- or, at the very least, the objectification- of the desire to be attached to form frees the individual in increasing stages toward the identification with the Will-to-Be at the crown center . . . The root center can then be utilized for the externalization of matter which has become consciously linked to Divine Cause . . .

The connection to Neptune as the Soul-centered ruler of Cancer is very profound.  Neptune “unveiled” is not the same influence as it is when masked by the unconscious waters of the emotional life.  It is by her actions on the unredeemed lower self that Neptune earns her reputation as the primary force behind self-destructive addictions.  If the personality is not safely anchored through a strong, integrated, and aligned ego structure, the magnetic force of the waters of the psyche will indeed try to pull the struggling individual back into unconscious and undifferentiated beingness.  One has to work incredibly hard to unmask the mirages of Neptune (as focused through the Moon) to arrive at the illumination of Neptune as a vehicle for the Sun!

–Alan Oken, Soul-Centered Astrology, p. 182

Saturn stationing direct at this time in trine to Neptune in Pisces and Jupiter in Cancer corresponds to an increased ability for us to discern what sorts of mirages or illusions could have been impacting us in this recent time period. It is no coincidence in this way that Saturn in this cycle stationed retrograde back in February during an incredibly intense time period of planets lined up in Pisces.

An additional enlightening element of Cancer I have come across from looking more into esoteric astrology is the stage of incarnation it symbolizes, following the mental birth of incarnation in Aries, the solidifying of form and desire in Taurus, and the movement between the mental and emotional in Gemini.  Cancer along these lines represents a new cycle of physical incarnation that synthesizes the three previous stages of Aries, Taurus, and Gemini.  This does not mean incarnating for the first time in form, but rather means that “an incarnation in Cancer indicates that this is the first cohesive anchoring of the Soul in a physical body for a particular cycle of unfoldment”  (Oken, p. 179).  For me this brings us back full-circle to the sabian symbol interpretation by Dane Rudhyar I brought up at the beginning-  this New Moon in Cancer amid all of the other aspects of this time, calls our attention to the “particular cycle of unfoldment” we each are here on planet Earth in this moment to enact.  This is a time of germination of that multi-level potential we have within ourselves- and with the upcoming magical yet heavy astrological aspects on the horizon, it will be a time in which we can manifest our potential into tangible results.

Below is a link to a video of a dynamic drawing of the zodiac sign of Cancer developed by Wolfgang Wegener.  I learned of this technique from Evelina, an astrologer and translator of ancient texts who lives in Bulgaria, and appears to be a star sister of some sort to me, or someone whose thoughts on astrology give me a jolt to my own thinking.  I somehow managed to find her blog pretty much as soon as it was published through a link to the Chiron archetype, and I recommend reading this post here that she made, for I feel it encapsulates the larger context of what I am writing about this New Moon and the current “above” our “below.”

At this time may we be still enough to hear the birdsong, the wind, and the streaming of water ahead of us on our path, and may we have the courage to follow it.

References

Jung, Carl. (1967 edition revised from original 1912). Symbols of Transformation. Bollingen.

Oken, Alan. (1990). Soul Centered Astrology. Ibis.

Rudhyar, Dane. ( 1973). An Astrological Mandala: The Cylce of Transformations and its 360 Symbolic phases. Vintage.

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.

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).

pleiades_ukschmidt_clean_names

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.

Pleiades_Elihu_Vedder

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

Saint Francis: by way of Neptune and Uranus

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On March 13, 2013 the story of Saint Francis re-entered mass consciousness with the birthing of Pope Francis.  No matter your opinion regarding the political scandal and gossip concerning the Vatican and the Catholic Church, the horrific accusations and coverings up of sexual abuse amongst priests and other acts of oppression, the choice of the precedent shattering name Pope Francis has brought Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) back into collective consciousness on a massive scale, and there are important insights to be gained from paying attention to him.

Addressing the media for the first time on March 16, 2013, Pope Francis said he chose to evoke Saint Francis of Assisi with his name because he was “the man of poverty, of peace” and that he wants “a poor church for the poor”².  In his installation Mass on March 19, the atmosphere was described by media as electric and he transformed the papacy priorities with calls for protecting the environment and helping the most disenfranchised in our communities, pledging that he will serve “the poorest, the weakest, the least important” and that “amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others”³.  These themes, like much of the life of Saint Francis, link with the archetypes of Uranus and Neptune.

In relation to Uranus, Saint Francis of Assisi led a life of intense individuation, dissolving an identity of privilege in which he enthusiastically joined the crusades as a Knight, metamorphosing through intense contact and communication with nature and creatures of nature, like birds.  He was a radical who honored Natural Law more so than the human-made laws of the status quo, for example encouraging women to take leadership roles and organize communities in Spirit.  He had Neptunian visions of the Holy Spirit in his inner space, while in his explorations of the outer space around him he found God in a tree, or in the apprearance of a rabbit.  He integrated his Neptune connection with divinity into Uranus work of shifting the consciousness of those around him, being a Spiritual warrior who could battle the elements and build a church and spiritual community from the ground up with his own resources.

Saint Francis is perhaps most special because of his “tender beholding of aspects of Nature as living beings,” as described by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  He is the Patron Saint of Animals and the Environment, and his connection with a new Pope and hope amongst the Church to re-connect with younger generations is fitting because Saint Francis came into his personal power during an opposition between Uranus and Neptune, and the generation coming of age at this time (born between 1988 and 1998) all have a conjunction of Uranus and Neptune in their natal birth charts.  I teach in a program in which all of my students have been born so far between 1991 and 1996 with this conjunction, and a notable amount of them have dreams and career goals related to working with animals, healing and protecting animals.  Many of my students hope to become veterinarians, and many also hope to travel to specific regions of the world to protect specific species of animals (New Zealand or Australia for example).

Saint Francis embodied the archetypes of Uranus and Neptune not just because there was an opposition between Uranus and Neptune when his work and disciples were really catching on, but through his intention of being an instrument of Spirit, his communal activism on behalf of the poor and outcast, and in his refusal to join the organized Christian church.  Though the Pope eventually gave him approval, he never actually became a “priest,” never took vows of chastity or demanded all of the regulated rules of the Christian Church upon his followers.  He only asked to love God, love Nature, and asked each to love and know God according to their own capacity.  He saw the connection between birds, animals, the natural world, and God- he didn’t see the duality of separateness, and intended to live from this belief.  He was communal and collective in his spirituality, choosing to live a life of poverty and live by natural law and  the true message of Jesus of Nazareth.  Indeed, there was a collective Uranus-Aquarius nature to the Franciscan order he developed, the brotherhood and sisterhood of his followers willing to live in poverty and serve others and find their own spiritual understanding.  Radical for the times, he broke away from traditional norms regarding women, helping women form their own spiritual order and find a place within his spiritual following. In Cosmos and Psyche Richard Tarnas analyzed the link between the life of Saint Francis and the orbital cycle of Uranus and Neptune:

The…Uranus-Neptune opposition of 1214-30 coincided with the widespread evangelical awakening led by Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic and the rapid dissemination throughout Europe of the Franciscan and Dominican orders. Here the characteristic archetypal themes of the Uranus-Neptune cycle were visible not only in the decisive spiritual quickening of the era but also in the Franciscans’ and Dominicans’ innovative dissolving of the boundaries between the lay world and the religious, bringing the dynamism of the Christian faith out of the cloister and into the world; in the more democratic forms of government within these religious orders that affirmed greater individual autonomy; in Francis’s sense of universal compassion that extended to a mystical participation in nature as an expression of divinity, subverting traditional Christian tendencies towards a dualism of spirit and nature… (p. 367)

Franco Zeffirelli’s portrait of Saint Francis, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, shows Francis growing up in wealth and privilege, crusading off to war, and then experiencing a mental break in which he questions the entire power paradigm underlying the reality surrounding him since birth, leading him to connect with the natural world, Spirit, God, and the true life and work of Jesus of Nazareth, even experiencing ecstatic visions.  The film poetically illustrates how he dedicated himself to a life of  poverty and serving those in poverty and those cast out as lepers and other exiles, connecting with animals as well, and emphatically refusing the trappings of wealth and power associated with the organized Christian Church. In the climatic scene in which Francis meets the Pope in person, he catalyzes the Pope to re-connect with his core sense of spiritual self through mere contact.  The film was released in 1972 and has an aesthetic informed by the counterculture movements of the 1960s, showing the radical spirituality of this Saint who really was radical and a threat to the established order. The scene below is from his early process of breaking from his past to connect with Spirit:

As in the scene above, Brother Sun Sister Moon portrays a deepening relationship between Clare and Francis, eventually immortalized by the Chuch as St. Clare and St. Francis.   Later in the film, Clare is called to join Francis in his work and calls out to him:  “I am not seeking to be understood, I want to understand!  I am not asking to be loved, I want to love!” This line reflects one of the major themes of the famous “Prayer of St. Francis” which is attributed to St. Francis, but according to historical records was not actually written by St. Francis (although it does encapsulate the major themes of his life and work)¹.

One of the most famous prayers/poems that Saint Francis actually did write is the “Canticle of the Sun,” written when he was recovering from an intense illness in a cottage built by his dear friend Saint Clare.  The poem evokes Uranus and Neptune through lyrically describing elements of nature and spirituality as a community of beings he has a personal relationship with. The following translation of it is by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who noted that the “ancient word canticle means to sing,” and so this poem was written in a rhythm meant to be chanted:

To Creator:
the Great Elder of Highest Good–
You’re so deserving of our tender thanks…
You’re so easy to recognize,
and so deserving of fragrant bouquets,
so made happy by our blessings
and offerings of beauty
to You.

In you alone, Great Elder,
are all our offerings held by You
in all right ways.
No unawakened human mouth
yet knows how to pronounce
the depths of your name.

Be thanked our dear Creator,
through all your creatures…

especially through *my lord Brother Sun,*
who brings illumination.
And thank you,
for You give us Light
through him.

*Brother Sun* is beautiful
and radiant in all his fiery magnitude!
Of You, in your highest altitude,
*Brother Sun* bears your likeness.

Thank you too, through *Sister Moon and the Stars*;
In the heavens you have made them flashing,
so dear to us, and engaging with us.

Thank you dear Elder,
through *Brothers Wind and Air,*
and *Clouds and Storms, and all the Weather*
through which You
offer Your creatures shelter, food, and livelihood.

Thank you also, through *Sister Water;*
for she is so helpful to many
and so without vanity, so precious to us,
and unsullied from first source.

Thank you Creator, through *Brother Fire,*
whom You give to blaze light into the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful,
and commanding and unafraid.

Thank you too, through our *sister Mother Earth,*
who nourishes us and shapes us,
and creates endless fruits
with colored flowers and herbs***.

Thank You Creator
through those who forgive others
out of Love for You,
and thank You also
through those who endure
sickness and trial.
Content are those who endure in peace,
for by You, Creator, they will be garlanded.

Thank You too, through our Sister, *Death of the Body,*
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Distress comes to those who die separated
from Creator…

Fittingly enough, the times during which Pope Benedict resigned and Pope Francis ascended have been dominated by archetypal themes of Neptune and Uranus.  On February 11, 2013 when the resignation of Pope Benedict was announced, there was a conjunction between Mercury, Mars, Neptune, Chiron, and the Moon in Pisces.  It didn’t take much of a leap of an astrologer’s imagination to connect this intense stellium of Piscean energy with the presence of the Holy Spirit in this shocking decision and announcement.  In addition to this Neptune archetypal link, there was also a Uranian omen in the form of this striking sign from nature on this day as St. Peter’s Basilica was literally struck from above:

St. Peter's lightning

In the following month, during much projection and prediction among pundits regarding exactly what the Cardinals would choose to do and exactly whom they would choose to anoint as the new Pope, there was an intense wave of Pisces energy with the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Chiron, Neptune, and the Moon moving through Pisces.  Mercury in particular stationed retrograde conjunct Mars and then moved backward to form conjunctions for the second time with the Sun, Chiron, and Venus.  All of this Pisces energy evoked the Neptune archetype of Saint Francis.

Interestingly, by the time the Cardinals finally made their decision the Uranus archetype of Saint Francis was activated, as  Mars had just broken through into Aries and was moving into a conjunction with Uranus, evoking the initiating Uranus archetype of Saint Francis of Assisi.  The chart for the announcement of Pope Francis has a balsamic conjunction of Uranus and Mars in Aries conjunct the Descendant- an electric drive that is in service through a relationship with the World.  There is an Aries Mars-Uranus drive of Pope Francis to individuate his role from past papacy privileges by making choices like choosing a name without precedent and riding the city bus to be with the people instead of an isolated luxury transport.

The Neptune archetype can be seen through the karmic release and resolution signified by the balsamic Mars-Uranus, the Sun and Venus conjunct in Pisces, and Neptune in Pisces conjunct Mercury retrograde and Chiron in Pisces at the time of the selection of Pope Francis.   It has been noted that as a Jesuit he could perhaps “think differently” and there are signs in the announcement chart that indicate an intention to transform some of the set patterns of perspective from the papacy (Pisces Chiron-Mercury-Neptune in trine to Scorpio Saturn retrograde in 2nd), while at the same time there are signs he could stubbornly cling to some of the old dogmatic papacy beliefs that critics of the Church have felt have been oppressive toward women, among others (Pisces Sun-Venus square Gemini Ceres-Lilith-Vesta in 9th; Gemini Jupiter-Vesta in 9th square Pisces Chiron-Mercury-Neptune in 5th).  Yet at the same time, these same symbols, plus the potent Uranus energy, reflect a purpose he could have to individuate the Papal role in a true role of service to the People through creatively actualizing his Pisces Mercury-Neptune faith, and many of his early statements reflect this intention:

“Let us never forget that authentic power is service . . . and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love:  the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison.”  — Pope Francis³

 Just as the selection of the Pope is supposed to be guided by the Holy Spirit, there does seem to be an energy of Divine Intervention about the selection of this new Pope who brings the symbol of Saint Francis of Assisi prominently into our collective consciousness.

Pope Francis announcement

References

1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-p-horan-ofm/living-the-prayer-of-st-francis-with-all-of-creation_b_1937279.html

2. http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/16/17336851-pope-francis-describes-wish-for-poor-church-for-the-poor?lite

3. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/20/world/europe/installation-of-pope-francis.html?_r=0

Mercury’s odyssey through Leo: Hermes as Hero

Ah, that Hermes, a crafty fellow who causes much mischief, but at the same time often shows up to save the day in myths, such as braving the underworld to rescue Persephone.  During much of this past Summer, the planet Mercury has gone through a long strange trip through the sign of Leo, an odyssey that will be culminating with the Full Moon and Blue Moon in Pisces this upcoming Friday:  as Mercury reaches the final degrees of Leo during the Full Moon, it will be in range of opposing Neptune and will exactly oppose Pisces Neptune the next day.

Hermes aka Mercury

I believe myths reflect the wisdom in the stars and can bring to life a lot of the complex interplanetary dynamics we astrologers love to discuss.  With Mercury moving into an opposition with Neptune in Pisces this week, it brings to mind many of the Neptunian myths, the journey of Odysseus among them.  In The Odyssey Odysseus primarily has the path of guiding his men back to their home, and himself back to the arms of his wife, Penelope, waiting at home for him.  Odysseus and Poseidon (Neptune) square off at many points, but some of the greatest dangers Odysseus gets himself and his men into stems from his Neptunian trysts with the Goddesses Calypso and Circe.  Each of these goddesses keeps Oddysseus in their arms as their lover for great lengths of time, Calypso keeping him as her lover for seven years on her island according to Homer!  With each Odysseus seems incapable of breaking himself free, reveling in his ecstatic union with each Goddess, while temporarily neglecting his mission to guide himself and his men to their homeland.  It is Hermes, or Mercury, who in each instance is able to appear and offer a solution for Odysseus to separate from his Goddess lover. Not that loving a Goddess is wrong in itself, it’s just Odysseus had a clear mission that was put in jeopardy of coming to fruition due to his choice of focusing on the fruits of his Goddess affairs.

In The Odyssey Hermes is able to talk Calypso into letting go of Odysseus through direct language.  Calypso is portrayed as a lovely Goddess who plays enchanting music and wants to keep Odysseus as her lover, hoping to make him immortal in his love with her.  Hermes negotiates with her to release Odysseus, and seems a little heavy handed with telling her that Zeus (Jupiter) will send repercussions otherwise, but this is sort of what can happen to us when we drift off our path into delights of our senses that begin to pull us away from the path that will lead us to the highest good for ourselves and all other beings- sooner or later something, at times even a crisis, makes us realize we are off-track.  And Odysseus does realize he misses Penelope even though she isn’t a beautiful Goddess like Calypso, and he wants to leave to return home.  In contrast, Circe is portrayed as more of a manipulating Goddess who casts spells and turns Odysseus’ men into pigs!  Again, Hermes comes to the rescue by showing Odysseus the herb Moly that will protect him from the spells of Circe, and gives him clear directions with how to deal with Circe, at the same time warning him that she will become attracted to him as a result.  Although Odysseus protects himself from her spell through the use of the herb, he still remains with Circe for a long time as her lover in her deep wooded setting.  To me, this example symbolizes the Mercury function of being able to research and categorize healing protections as well as come up with strategies or disciplines to get out of difficulties.  But at the same time, in the end we have to make the hard decisions for ourselves to break out of pleasant situations pulling ourselves off our path and get ourselves moving forward again on our path.  Recently we have been experiencing astrological transits reflecting a lot of illusions and confusing experiences baffling many, pulling many off the track of their true path.  Like Odysseus, many of us could use the help and skill of clear-headed Mercury at this time.

In the past month or so, in the midst of the intense Pluto-Uranus square, the new era of Neptune in Pisces has been ushered in more intensely with a square aspect between Pisces Neptune, Sagitarius North Node of the Moon, and Gemini South Node of the Moon.  In times ripe with illusion, when many are feeling confused and disoriented about what is illusionary and what is true insight, while others are living an illusion in complete denial of it, one of the most helpful skills to hold is discernment.  The planetary function of Mercury is involved with discernment, as it not only has to do with the way we communicate, it also has to do with the way we perceive phenomenal reality as part of our thinking, reflecting, and communicating process.  Recently Mercury went through a retrograde phase and is now moving forward again and picking up speed, having moved out of it’s “shadow” period of retrograde motion last week.

The Sabian symbols can offer us some insight into how Leo Mercury can help us. On July 14, 2012 Mercury stationed retrograde at 13 degrees Leo:

Leo 13:  An old sea captain rocking

This is a symbol of man’s great love for reliving his experiences in memory, and of his gift for achieving a mastery in advance of whatever new situations he may face by bringing all the ramifying relationships to a focus in a personal and competent grasp of their more pertinent potentialities.

—Marc Edmond Jones, The Sabian Symbols

So just as the “old sea captain” makes me think of Odysseus, more important is the emphasis on retrospect and reflection, reliving experiences from memory- a perfect symbol for any Mercury retrograde period, and a clue that part of our task has been to sort through Neptunian confusion, and to make an honest reflection about all of our relationships.  Events may have been disorienting, and Mercury has asked us to confront our responsibility in the difficulties we have experienced, as well as our responsibility in bringing ourselves self-fulfillment.

On August 7, 2012 Mercury stationed direct at 2 degrees of Leo, while making a quincunx aspect with Pisces Neptune, trining the Sagitarius North Node and sextiling the Gemini South Node, while Pisces Neptune was intensely squaring these same nodes at the same time.  Again the Sabian symbol described by Marc Edmund Jones in his book The Sabian Symbols is illuminating:

Leo 2:  An epidemic of mumps

This is a symbol of personal capacities wholly out of hand, and of the momentary appeal of escapist ideas whenever the self fails to remain alive to its own immediate needs or ultimate interests. The reversed symbolism emphasizes the absolute necessity laid on every living spirit, that somehow it retain a passionate sensitiveness to the practical import or organic usefulness of everything it encounters in its everyday situation.

So, to help propel us forward toward our collective soul direction at this time (and the Sabian symbol for the North Node at this time fittingly was “The ocean covered with whitecaps”) we need to pay more attention than normal to our practical needs on a daily basis, what is truly feeding us in our day-to-day life— but to be clear this means what is practical in helping us live our highest good, in a way that will help bring light and love for the highest good of all beings in our world— what is feeding our Soul life our true soul development.  Sometimes escapism can be more obvious like going out to a bar and getting drunk, or sitting around watching superficial television or movies, but other times we may think we are doing what we are called for, when what is calling us is truly an illusion.  Take Paul Ryan, for example.   During this time period Paul Ryan became the Vice Presidential nominee for the Republican Party- he wholeheartedly believes what he believes, and it is portrayed as good home common sense. But in reality his philosophy is deeply rooted in the novelist Ayn Rand, who at the end of the day is more of an escapist read at the beach than a fully spiritually realized soul imparting deep wisdom on our planet.

Likewise many of us may have been wrapped up in a belief during this time period we felt was serving out highest good, only to experience the disillusionment of the universal truth of that belief falling apart.  We are constantly being bombarded by images from our friends and strangers via social media networks, as well as manipulative images from the media aimed at manipulating our desires.  As upsetting as periods of disillusionment can be, however, what is helpful about them is that they let us know we have gotten off track and that we need to re-center and find our true path again.  How do we discern when we are following our true soul path, versus when we are thinking that we are but are actually following an illusion that is separating us from our true path?  Today as I was contemplating the best words to choose to answer this question, I bought the new astrology report written by my astrology teacher, Rosie Finn, and I had to laugh, as Rosie answered this question very well in her own writing!

Also, desires are spread. We want something because our senses have been accosted, influencing us to want it and we lose track of our soul longing. When we are tuned into our soul longing we feel it on every level. A ringing vibration moves through us. Our hair stands up. We get a chill.  We feel it all over.  When a desire co-opts our longing, we feel agitated, like we are missing something.  When we feel a true soul longing, the feeling itself satisfies us.  It is our own unique journey that is being high lighted.  We know our next step.  We may feel loss but not agitation, not anxiety, not distress.  We feel a direction when we feel our soul longing.

–Rosie Finn, from the September 2012 Plants and Planets

As the Pisces Full Moon this Friday approaches, Pisces Neptune is still in range of squaring the lunar nodes, and the disorientation of this could get all the more confusing once Mercury gets to the end of Leo and in range of opposing Neptune.  To make things even more intense, this upcoming Full Moon will be conjunct Chiron in Pisces, meaning that some of our deepest emotional wounds could be triggered.  While getting emotionally triggerred can make us even more disorientated than normal, if we have been clearing and letting go during this recent time, moving with the changes reflected by the Uranus-Pluto square, and doing or moving toward our soul work, this week could instead be a moment to connect with inner divinity, illumination, God, Goddess, Great Spirit, what you want to call it. If we can have the courage to face our deepest emotional wounds and not look for ways to escape our reality and our true path, it may not be easy, it may be extremely emotional, but at least the energy can ultimately be cathartic and propel us forward, instead of further into confusion and away from the path calling to us.