Mercury Retrograde in Virgo & Leo

Iris

Iris

The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate; and later on, when it “happens” (that is, steps forth out of us to other people), we will feel related and close to it in our innermost being. And that is necessary. It is necessary – and toward this point our development will move, little by little – that nothing alien happen to us, but only what has long been our own. People have already had to rethink so many concepts of motion; and they will also gradually come to realize that what we call fate does not come into us from the outside, but emerges from us. It is only because so many people have not absorbed and transformed their fates while they were living in them that they have not realized what was emerging from them; it was so alien to them that, in their confusion and fear, they thought it must have entered them at the very moment they became aware of it, for they swore they had never before found anything like that inside them. Just as people for a long time had a wrong idea about the sun’s motion, they are even now wrong about the motion of what is to come. The future stands still, dear Mr. Kappus, but we move in infinite space.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Mercury Retrograde in Virgo

In times of destiny, when the threads of fate become loosened to be rewoven within momentous change, we can count on Mercury to slyly guide us in beguiling fashion.  Though Mercury when retrograde has become a scapegoat within popular culture, experience reveals that the Star of Hermes when retrograde enacts its namesake’s role of a psychopomp, or guide of souls.  Even the most frustrating or upsetting events that occur during times of Mercury retrograde ultimately tend to lead us onto a path that will take us into the experiences we need in order to reach our next level of growth.

Thus it is fitting that in between eclipses, periods of time that always signify vital turns of fortune and fate, Mercury will station retrograde and disappear into the invisible realm of the solar underworld at sunset.  While Mercury is retrograde we will experience a Total Solar Eclipse, both the Sun and Mars uniting with the North Node of the Moon, Saturn stationing direct, and Jupiter finally perfecting its long anticipated sextile with Saturn.  Factor in that Mercury begins its retrograde while opposite Neptune and ends its retrograde conjoining Mars at the same degree as the Total Solar Eclipse, while a Pisces Moon waxes full in union with Neptune, and we have an incredibly volatile and fertile mix of astrological transits that promise to bring dramatic changes and opportunities for profound growth.

Even though popular discourse labels periods of Mercury retrograde as disastrous aberrations that bring misfortunes and mishaps, the phase of Mercury retrograde is a regular cyclical phenomenon that happens at least three times every year, an essential aspect of Mercury’s orbit.  Unlike the astrological stereotypes, important actions can be initiated during Mercury retrograde as well as successful contracts signed.  However, during Mercury retrograde it is advisable to sustain mental alertness and be open to signs, symbols, and information in your environment that can help guide your intuition toward which actions to take or commitments to make.

Mercury retrograde is intrinsic to Mercury in astrology, a planetary archetype of contesting and contrasting.  While Mercury signifies insight in addition to communication, the lessons of Mercury do not always come from stability, as experience shows that chaos and disorientation can lead to illumination and realization.  Once Mercury moves retrograde it descends from being a visible Evening Star into an invisible, subterranean guide of soul catalyzing change and growth in situations that range widely from the maddening to the vivifying.  Flowing with Mercury retrograde involves letting go of strict control, opening to the wisdom coming from unexpected sources.   As the changeable nature of Mercury is found in its extremely variable speed, when Mercury slows down to station it is important to pay attention to its aspects in the natal chart as well as to other planets by transit.

This is the second year in a row that we are experiencing Mercury stationing retrograde in Virgo during a time of eclipses, as last year in 2016 Mercury stationed retrograde in Virgo two days before an Annular Solar Eclipse.  This year’s version has a more mysterious opening act, however, due to it occurring in between eclipses rather than just before the beginning of eclipse season.  The days in between eclipses are always full of unexpected shifts and significant encounters, and so adding in the beginning of Mercury retrograde will amplify the strange fatefulness of the time.

Iris as Mercury and Vesta

Mercury stations retrograde while united with Vesta in Virgo and opposing Neptune in Pisces.  During the build-up to Mercury retrograde, which included the Lunar Eclipse in Aquarius, Mercury formed two exact conjunctions with Vesta (Mercury has been within three degrees of Vesta in Virgo since July 26).   A figure of myth who encapsulates the symbolism of Mercury united with Vesta in opposition to Neptune is Iris, handmaiden of Hera (Juno) and messenger to the gods.  Like Hermes, Iris also carries a caduceus, yet the other magical tool she carries, the water pitcher, helps show how her function as messenger differs from Hermes.  Golden-winged and radiant, Iris is a goddess of sea and sky who connects heaven and earth, watering the clouds with her water pitcher full of the enlivening waters she collects from the sea.  She therefore helps produce the rain that brings fertility and cleansing to our Earth, yet she is perhaps most known for her association with the rainbow she also creates.  Iris is as swift as stormy winds, able to descend into the depths of both the ocean as well as the underworld.  Similar to Hermes, Iris connects the world of gods with the world of humanity.

The union of Mercury with Vesta in opposition to Neptune signifies that through devotional focus we may perceive powerful messages and guidance, while at the same time suggesting a downfall could occur when engaged with deception.  One of the mediating roles that Iris plays between humanity and the gods is through facilitating the fulfillment of the prayers and wishes of humans by illuminating them to deities in position of assistance.  Indeed, the golden wings of Iris are capable of bringing light to the most dark of places.  Yet, for those who break oaths or knowingly express falsehoods, Iris will put them to sleep with the water she has collected from the River Styx in the underworld.   Similarly, with Neptune in Pisces playing a monumental role during the period of Mercury retrograde, it will be vital to maintain focus on being honest and authentic so as not to fall into the realm of Neptunian illusion that will be capable of wreaking havoc like a tidal wave.

The association between Iris with rainbows is a beautiful symbol to work with during the upcoming Mercury retrograde that will take us into the zone of an immensely powerful Total Solar Eclipse.   Rainbows not only link heaven and earth with their transcendent and otherworldly colors, they also help to inspire hope and the capacity to believe it is possible for us to lead a more fulfilling life than current circumstances indicate.  It is further fascinating that in some versions of myth that Iris is married to Zephyrus, the west wind, and that their union gave birth to Pothos, one of the winged gods of love (the erotes) whose name translates as “yearning” and is associated with strong desire and longing for a loved one who is oftentimes absent.  It will be important to stay grounded in our earthly realm (Virgo) with clear focus (Vesta) during this Mercury retrograde period, and yet at the same time to fully realize the available gifts we will need to allow our imaginations and desires to open us to potentials that go beyond the confines of our present reality (Neptune).

Chagall the apparition.jpg

The Apparition (1917) by Marc Chagall

Mercury opposes Neptune

The union of Mercury and Vesta in Virgo in opposition to Neptune dominates the beginning of this Mercury retrograde period, with Venus in Cancer playing a facilitating role.  As Mercury stations retrograde, Venus is separating from harmonious aspects with both Neptune and Mercury (a trine with Neptune; a sextile with Mercury), as well as separating from a recent conjunction with Ceres in Cancer.  During the retrograde movement of Mercury, Venus will move on to catalytic aspects with Pluto in Capricorn, Jupiter in Libra,  and Uranus in Aries.  The influence of Uranus is further strengthened by the Moon applying to a conjunction with Uranus as Mercury stations retrograde, as well as the fact that Mercury will ultimately station direct in a helpful trine with Uranus.  However, since Mercury will also station direct less than a day before a Full Moon in Pisces that is united with Neptune, there is an unmistakeable looming influence of Neptune upon the course of events that will accompany this period of Mercury retrograde.

While the totality of the aspects listed above could coincide with many diverse forms of challenge, all of them are amazing catalysts in the realm of artistry and inspiration.  Mercury has incredible strength in Virgo, being both its home and exaltation, and so as Mercury slowly begins to peel itself backwards it can help facilitate deep focus on artistic and academic projects of all mediums and forms, especially those that involve a component of research and analysis followed by expression.  Nine days after Mercury stations retrograde we will experience a Total Solar Eclipse in which Mercury will function more as a subtle guiding influence than a dominant component of the  portal opened with the syzygy.  During powerful eclipse alignments like we will experience this month, new manifestations will appear in our lives coinciding with other elements fading away.  It is a blessing Mercury is retrograde in Virgo, as it is a mutable earth sign that can aid us in staying connected within our bodies and all of the mutating details of our daily lives.

With the strong transpersonal influences of Neptune, as well as Uranus and Pluto, upon the Mercury retrograde, the capacity of Mercury to bring nonlinear and unexpected messages from oracular sources is heightened.  Pay close attention to the messages received from synchronous alignments of your daily path with animals, plants, minerals, music, and all manner of symbolic signs.  Allow your intuition and bodily instincts to transmit impressions that you value at least as much as whatever your rational mind is constructing.  It may prove very difficult to keep events moving in accord with carefully made plans, however opening up plans and projects to the flow and all of the changes that will coincide with the month ahead can improve end results.  Oftentimes the frustrating experiences of Mercury retrograde illuminate the exact components of life that needed our attention in order to be reworked or strengthened.

the-creation-of-man-1958-1

The Creation of Man (1958) by Marc Chagall

Mercury in the Heart of the Sun

The rebirth moment for Mercury during its retrograde comes on August 26 when Mercury aligns with the Sun at the exact degree and minute.  This is known as Mercury’s cazimi moment in which it enters the heart of the Sun to be purified and regenerated.  In contrast to the Mercury cazimi that occurs when Mercury is moving direct on the other side of the Sun from our orbital position (known as its superior conjunction that last happened at the Cancer Solstice), the inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun occurs during its retrograde when Mercury passes in between our orbit with the Sun.  Symbolically, the superior conjunction tends to bring more spiritual epiphanies or sudden insights weaving disparate strands together, whereas Mercury at the heart of the Sun during its retrograde tends to bring a deeper, penetrating insight into the current reality of our material lives and the pang of incarnation in our earthly flesh.  In the days surrounding August 26 we may feel like resting our Mercurial functions as a part of its regeneration, however, the period of time in which Mercury is within a degree of the Sun on August 26 will bring added strength and power to all Mercurial activities such as all forms of research and expression.

Mercury will enter the heart of the Sun at 3º48′ of Virgo, an incredibly powerful placement of Mercury.  The fourth degree of Virgo is in both the home and exaltation of Mercury as well as within its own Egyptian bounds, signifying that this a section of the zodiac in which Mercury not only has important work to do but also has extraordinary strength.  The Sabian symbol for the fourth degree of Virgo, black and white children play together happily, was interpreted by Dane Rudhyar as signifying “the overcoming of socio-cultural prejudices.”  Though it may seem laughable during a time of such widespread vitriolic discourse in global politics full of prejudice that any sort of collective evolution could be occurring around oppression and prejudice, it is worth bearing in mind the play space of children in which the influence of cultural conditioning has not yet taken hold.  The Sabian symbol for the degree of Mercury cazimi suggests perceptions can awaken that go far beyond the constraints and limitations of how we have been conditioned by surrounding culture to perceive and judge the worth of others.   The idea of playing together happily also highlights the theme of imbibing daily life with as much playful creativity as possible during this time of tumultuous astrological transits.

Mercury will enter the heart of the Sun five days after the Total Solar Eclipse in Leo and one day after Saturn stations direct for the final time in Sagittarius.  At the same time Saturn is stationing, Jupiter will have entered the third decan of Libra it rules and will be applying closely to a last quarter sextile with Saturn.  As a result the period of Mercury entering the heart of the Sun on August 26 is a potent moment to re-center amidst all of the changes being brought forth from external and internal events.  Saturn stationing brings a seriousness to the moment that calls for us to walk and talk in absolute integrity with our inner values and principles, while the harmonious aspect between Jupiter and Saturn can bring opportunities to stabilize and strengthen both the vision as well as the foundation of whatever we are developing and crafting.

Iris_Carrying_the_Water_of_the_River_Styx_to_Olympus_for_the_Gods_to_Swear_By,_Guy_Head,_c._1793_-_Nelson-Atkins_Museum_of_Art_-_DSC08946

Iris Carrying the Water of the River Styx to Olympus for the Gods to Swear By (1793) by Guy Head

Mercury Stations Direct in Leo

Mercury stations direct on September 5 at the same degree as the Total Solar Eclipse in Leo.  Mars will have already entered Virgo by the time Mercury is exactly stationing, but during the course of its stationing Mercury and Mars will unite at the end of Leo.  Both the Sun as well as Mars will have united with the North Node of the Moon in Leo during Mercury’s retrograde, and Mercury will furthermore be stationing direct four degrees away from the North Node of the Moon.  At this point we can receive a important message that connects us directly with however the narratives of our lives has been transmuting during this period of eclipses, and with the new information will come opportunities to create movement within whatever openings came through with the eclipses.  Mercury uniting with Mars while it is stationing can coincide with some heated and difficult conflicts, so it will be important to be actively practicing mediating skills in conversations with others.  There is immense inspirational fire available in this period to push yourself forward dramatically in areas of growth you previously have not fully embraced.

The influence of Neptune looms over the stationing direct of Mercury, since the Moon will be applying to a conjunction with Neptune and within a day of its stationing we will experience a potent Full Moon in Pisces united with Neptune.   Amping up the energy even further is the fact that Jupiter in Libra will be getting closer to its final opposition with Uranus in Aries.   The opposition between Jupiter and Uranus is a breakthrough moment in which many diverse, ingenious insights and messages will enter the collective.  Some of the most powerful moments of the Jupiter and Uranus cycle, however, often come in the private moments of significant conversations and relationship experiences, or the work of isolated artists creating outside the rays of mainstream spotlights.  There is amazing inspiration and imagination available within the surrounding transits of Mercury stationing direct to seize and work with.

Finally, its interesting to note that Mercury will be stationing direct while in conjunction with the Persephone asteroid #399.  The myth of Persephone emerging out of her time in the underworld is a fitting symbol for the fact that both Mercury and Mars will be emerging from out of their underworld experiences while united with the Persephone asteroid.  Demetra George wrote the following about the Persephone asteroid in her book Finding Our Way Through the Dark:

In the birth chart Persephone, as a daughter of the patriarchy, symbolizes the process of a child’s separation from its mother.  Persephone can indicate how and where, either physically or psychologically, we may be abducted and plunged into an underworld experience (sometimes at an early age) where we encounter terror, loss, and confusion, and feelings of abandonment. This descent can enable us to develop a relationship with the hidden forces in our unconscious, activate our psychic abilities, release the past, discover a new sense of our adult self and strengths, and emerge transformed and renewed.  Some individuals who experience Persephone as a tragedy from which they have never recovered may react by developing patterns of distrust, withdrawal, fear of sexuality and intimacy, fantasy life, depression, chemical addictions, separation anxieties, victimizaiton, passivity and powerlessness, and being acted upon by the strong will of others.

–Demetra George

Persephone’s name means “she who is to be feared” (Guttman, p.176), and it is possible to view her abduction into the underworld as more about her destiny than a tragedy, for the unalterable shift she created in the cosmos through becoming a life partner of Hades who would descend and ascend back and forth between the upperworld and the underworld, was a calling that fit the unique gifts she held within her soul.  Roberto Calasso in The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony wrote that Persephone stepping into her role as Queen of the underworld who can re-ascend to the world above implied that the “invisible would now reassert its rights over the body of the visible more strictly than before: their dealings with each other, long diluted and mingled together on earth, would find a new center of gravity.”   Persephone, Mercury, and Mars united at the end of this retrograde signify that the time has arrived to collect all of the wisdom and courage you can draw from the past period of underworld experiences in order to re-ascend into our wider communities with whatever gift or message you have cultivated to share.  Like Iris soaring with golden wings and bearing a pitcher full of underworld water, we can create rainbows out of the stormy atmosphere and commit ourselves to oaths of living and creating in accordance with our essence in good ways for all.

References

 

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

George, D. (1994). Finding Our Way Through the Dark:  an astrological companion to Mysteries of the Dark Moon. AFA.

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

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

Advertisements

Persephone: Queen of Soul and Spirit

Throning_goddess_(Persephone)_480-460_BC_(Sk_1761)_3

Persephone conjunct Saturn in Scorpio

  • Persephone asteroid (#399) is conjunct Saturn in Scorpio on May 28, 2013 and has about a two degree orb of a conjunction with Saturn from May 1, 2013 through July 21, 2013.
  • Persephone asteroid (#399) also had about a two degree orb of a conjunction with the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio from February 27, 2013 until April 22, 2013, and will be again from August 1, 2013 until August 20, 2013.

Persephone remains one of the most widely known mythic figures in our collective consciousness because of the vital connection we can feel with her journey from an “innocent” maiden into the underworld, merging with the Lord of Death in order to become a Queen of Spirit ruling over souls making the transition between life and death.  We can feel Persephone with us whenever we descend into a dark or difficult experience that strips us of any feeling of innocence, yet offers us opportunities to cultivate greater knowledge, wisdom, and consciousness for ourselves through our persistence and resiliency, like Persephone for taking responsibility over becoming the Queen of the Underworld.  Persephone has been entering greater astrological significance recently as her asteroid has been moving conjunct the North Node of the Moon, and on May 28, 2013 the asteroid Persephone is conjunct Saturn in Scorpio, following a Lunar Eclipse in Sagitarius four days earlier.  This Lunar Eclipse was the last of the series involving Gemini and Sagitarius, with this final one having the Sun in Gemini and the Full Moon in Sagitarius.

Persephone has been moving retrograde conjunct the North Node of the Moon for the past few months, first becoming conjunct the north node of the Moon around February 27, 2013 and remaining in range  ever since.  The archetypal meaning of this has great synchronicity with the turn of the seasons in our hemisphere, as we are in the full blooming of Spring, a time in which Persephone would have returned to us after completing another cycle in the underworld as the Queen of Spirit.  However, the mythic image of Persephone descending to the underworld to rule over the dead is a more fitting mirror for the movement of the asteroid during this time, as the Persephone asteroid has been moving retrograde since March 23, 2013 (18 Scorpio) and will station direct near the Summer Solstice- June 21, 2013 (5 Scorpio).  The Persephone asteroid will remain in range of a conjunction with Saturn and the North Node of the Moon into September of 2013, with Persephone and the North Node being exactly conjunct again around August 10, 2013.  Up until then, in June and July, there will be a triple grand trine in water signs that Persephone will be part of, with Persephone and Saturn in Scorpio, Jupiter in Cancer, and Neptune in Pisces-  as a result, now through the next couple of months could be a magical time of transformation when working with Persephone as a personal archetype.

Persephone joining with Saturn in Scorpio at this time while staying connected with the North Node of the Moon for so long, is very signficant in connection with the sextile between this area of Scorpio and the area of Capricorn that Pluto is occupying in its current square to Uranus in Aries. We can take the responsibility (Persephone-Saturn) to structure our life more in accord with our soul longings (Pluto in Capricorn) in a way that will lead to more freedom for us to individuate from our past conditioning (Uranus in Aries) and actualize more of our soul calling- of course, this is easier to say than manage amid chaotic times.   Persephone is a symbol for our self empowerment in this process, because in the reality of Myth, Persephone is not some innocent maiden who is abducted and raped by the Lord of the Underworld- she is a Queen in her own right that is the reason Hades was able to become the Lord of the Undersworld in the first place.  In Finding Our Way Through the Dark, Demetra George explained the significance of Persephone in the Archetypal Pantheon:

In the Olympic pantheon Pluto, called Hades by the Greeks, was awarded dominion over the Underworld by his brother Zeus/Jupiter, supreme king of all the gods.  This was a province that previously had been the dominion of various dark goddesses of matriarchal cultures.  It was through the rape and abduction of Persephone, daughter of Great Mother Demeter/Ceres who had ruled over both birth and death, that Pluto secured his kingdom.  With Persephone at his side as the Queen of the Underworld, Pluto took over rulership of the realm of the dead.  Many of the qualities of the dark feminine that some astrologers have correlated with Pluto are actually aspects of Persephone and other dark goddesses who preceded her.

–Demetra George, Finding Our Way Through the Dark, p. 105

The connection between Persephone and ancient dark goddesses is further evidence to the archetype of Persephone being one of the strongest symbols in myth of our soul and passage through incarnation after reincarnation.  Demetra George in Finding Our Way Through the Dark also beautifully explored the link between the Persephone of myth and the meaning of the Persephone asteroid (#399 in astrology programs) in our natal birth charts:

In the archaic form of Demeter as a triple goddess, her full moon mother aspect was known by the name of Ploutos.  In the pre-Hellenic version of her myth, Persephone voluntarily went into the Underworld for part of each year to tend to the dead.  The story of her rape and abduction was a later adjunct to the myth first recorded by Homer in the 8th century BC which spoke to the patriarchal takeover by the God Pluto of the Great Mother’s rulership over death and rebirth.

In the birth chart Persephone, as a daughter of the patriarchy, symbolizes the process of a child’s separation from its mother.  Persephone can indicate how and where, either physically or psychologically, we may be abducted and plunged into an underworld experience (sometimes at an early age) where we encounter terror, loss, and confusion, and feelings of abandonment. This descent can enable us to develop a relationship with the hidden forces in our unconscious, activate our psychic abilities, release the past, discover a new sense of our adult self and strengths, and emerge transformed and renewed.  Some individuals who experience Persephone as a tragedy from which they have never recovered may react by developing patterns of distrust, withdrawal, fear of sexuality and intimacy, fantasy life, depression, chemical addictions, separation anxieties, victimizaiton, passivity and powerlessness, and being acted upon by the strong will of others.

–Demetra George, Finding Our Way Through the Dark, p. 100-101)

This time of Persephone stepping into greater prominence in the consensus collective as her asteroid moves into an exact conjunction with Saturn in Scorpio, the ruler of our consensus reality and boundaries, comes immediately following a series of eclipses.  This recent series of eclipses included the finale for the signs of Gemini and Sagitarius, with the May 24, 2013 Lunar Eclipse being the final eclipse of the Gemini-Sagitarius series of eclipses that have been occurring since the lunar eclipse on December 21, 2010 (12/21/10 was lunar at 30 Gemini; 6/01/11 was solar at 12 Gemini; 6/15/11 was lunar at 25 Sagitarius; 11/25/11 was solar at 3 Sagitarius; 12/10/11 was lunar at 19 Gemini; 5/20/12 was Solar at 1 Gemini; 6/04/12 was lunar at 15 Sagitarius; 11/28/12 was lunar at 7 Gemini; 5/25/13 was lunar at 4 Sagitarius).

IMG_0250

A Gemini to Sagitarius time like now can be about transmuting our duality of light and shadow, yin and yang,  having the dilemma of integrating our connection to the underworld and upperworld just as Persephone must have struggled with.  The star twins who make up the constellation of Gemini in Greek myth, Castor and Pollux, were one of two sets of twins Leda gave birth to after Zeus mated with her as a swan, one set male and one set female.  In each set of twins, one twin is divine (Pollux and Helen: the children of Zeus) and one set mortal (Castor and Clytaemnestra: the children of the human King Tyndareus).  As a result, the Gemini archetype embodies our awareness of having a divine twin, a twin soulmate other, or in the end what we are really talking about may be our own Soul presence we desire to more fully embody.  Through the science of Astronomy, we know that what we call Castor in the constellation is actually a binary system consisting of two stars in close proximity that revolve around one another.  As a result, the myth of the twins, one divine and one mortal, is an apt metaphor for the Gemini archetype and a symbol of how no matter what we do, we cannot escape the fact that the Self we identify ourselves through as our “ego” is bound to a Soul carrying deep memories of our psyche cutting across years and years of incarnations.  If we are unaware of our Soul nature or actually try to avoid it, or hide from it through illusory distractions, our Soul will make it’s presence known through difficult life events that force us to confront our Soul nature.

In his book The Soul’s Code:  A Search for Character and Calling, James Hillman elucidated a developmental theory I feel is absolutely perfect for this topsy turvy time of eclipses and a square between Uranus and Pluto in the celestial skies.  Hillman’s developmental theory turns all other developmental theories on their head, by positing that the signficant point of departure is where we end up and growing down, in contrast to focusing on growing up and where we began, and how the events that happen to us in childhood determine where we end up going.  Instead, Hillman writes of a daimon concept that is like the calling of our unique soul pattern, and instead posits that what has happened to us has happened because of the formed soul we already have within us at birth, the special gift we have to give the world that needs to be developed, and so we experience what we experience in order to strengthen and expand this unique soul talent or skill, and if we self-actualize this gift of our soul we will have found our calling in the world around us.  This is also the realm of Persephone.  The daughter of Demeter and Zeus, she felt the call to become perhaps the most powerful Queen of all, one who could enjoy the fruits of the upperworld as well as mediate in the afterlife and world of Spirit.  She was meant to descend into the underworld, and she took responsibility to ensure that she would be a success in her role.

Persephone is a bridge between the world of Soul and Spirit and the world of flesh and Human Being, and becomes the High Priestess who mediates between both worlds.  However,  at first she most likely would have had mental and emotional conflicts with stepping into the role of a figure who spends part of the year ruling over the kingdom of the dead and spirits, and the rest of the year in the upper world full of blossomming flowers and flowing rivers with her mother, the Great Goddess of the Earth.  This early struggle of hers mirrors our younger self who struggles with the dualistic perception of our physical form and etheric soul form, between the longings we are led to believe we should have from our physical environment and the longings we sense from deep within us.  As Persephone steps more fully into alignment and integrity with her role as Queen, she serves as a role model for how we can become less split and fragmented and more whole in the way we integrate our awareness of our soul nature into our daily life and responsibilities.

Persephone being connected with the north node of the Moon at this recent lunar eclipse could have correlated with us experiencing events connected to our own soul issues with the Dark Goddess, an opportunity to become more aware of the Shadow sides to our nature.  I am not meaning that there is anything especially “evil” or “bad” about dark goddess energy, only that it is associated with the “shadow” because the issues we have connected with the dark goddesses are issues we have that are not “normally” accepted or acknowledged in our dominant culture or our social sphere (unless we spend our time with dark goddess invoking anarchists).   Issues or aspects of ourselves we tend to be in denial of, that we pretend are not really there, may have recently been emerging in our reality for us to deal with.  This is because- surprise- these issues really are something we must acknowledge and take responsibility for, and most likely they are also connected with past life karma or patterns.   In her book Finding Our Way Through the Dark astrologer Demetra George stated that at the time of a lunar eclipse “it is the past, symbolized by the Moon, which is obscured and can be released.  In the absence of the conditioning of the past, the possibility emerges of meeting experiences in a new manner” (p. 113).  Demetra George in this same book further explained that during a lunar eclipse in which the Sun is on the South Node side, like this recent one, “growth can come from focusing upon, resolving, revisioning and releasing old karmic issues” (p. 113).   Any situations we may have been drawn into recently, no matter how difficult, are most likely connected with our soul path and for whatever reason on a soul level we are meant to have faced whatever difficult trials and tests we have been experiencing.  In fact, there may have even been a side to the difficulties that called out to us like a siren, something about our future direction calling to us from the events surrounding the experience.  This feeling is similar to the idea of Persephone being drawn into following Hades into the Underworld in some way.

When the earth split open and Hades’ chariot appeared, drawn by four horses abreast, Kore was looking at a narcissus.  She was looking at the act of looking.  She was about to pick it.  And, at that very moment, she was herself plucked away by the invisible toward the invisible. Kore doesn’t just mean “girl,” but “pupil” too.  And the pupil, as Socrates says to Alcibiades, “is the finest part of the eye,” not just because it is “the part which sees” but because it is the place where another person looking will find “the image of himself looking.”  And if, as Socrates claims, the Delphic maxim “Know thyself” can be understood only if translated as “Look at thyself,” then the pupil becomes the sole means of self-knowledge . . .

Kore, the pupil, was thus on a threshold.  She was on the brink of meeting a gaze in which she would have seen herself.  She was stretching out her hand to pluck that gaze.  But Hades burst upon the scene.  And Kore was plucked away by Hades.  For a moment, Kore’s eye had to turn away from the narcissus and meet Hades’ eye.  The pupil of the Pupil was met by another pupil, in which it saw itself.  And that pupil belonged to the world of the invisible . . .

For it was in that eye, as he carried her off, that Kore saw herself reflected.  It was then that this girl within the eye became the pupil for us all.

–Roberto Calasso, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, p. 209-210

Never forget how powerful and primordial Persephone is, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, and so it is not surprising she could see something of herself in the powerful presence of Hades, the Lord of the Underworld.   Persephone’s name means “she who is to be feared” (Guttman, p.176), and it is possible to view her abduction into the underworld as more about her destiny than a tragedy, for the unalterable shift she created in the cosmos through becoming a life partner of Hades who would descend and ascend back and forth between the upperworld and the underworld, was a calling that fit the unique gifts she held within her soul.  The time had come for the Spirit world of Souls and the material world of Human Beings to become more connected, with Human Beings beginning to feel more of their soul life and memories through their lifetime in flesh and physical form.  Persephone was the woman who could step into the role of managing this paradigm shift, the daughter of the Sky God (Zeus) and the Earth Goddess (Demeter) who was chosen by Hades because the implications of his desire for Persephone would be that the “invisible would now reassert its rights over the body of the visible more strictly than before: their dealings with each other, long diluted and mingled together on earth, would find a new center of gravity” (Calasso, p. 208).

Persephone, who transforms her abduction experience into wisdom and empowers herself with the mysteries of life, death, and the spirit world.  Persephone alternates between two worlds- the living and the dead, the light and the dark, the conscious and the unconscious- in order to bring balance and equilibrium into her being.

–Ariel Guttman and Kenneth Johnson, Mythic Astrology, (p. 174)

In our adolescence when some of us face our first trials of intensity brought about by the shadow side of our soul nature, it coincides with the events that lead to our first return of our lunar nodes at the age of nineteen approximately, when we often get a stronger sense of our karmic callings in connection with our soul nature (the north node, our evolutionary soul direction, returns to it’s placement at birth while the south node, our past life pattern, also returns to it’s natal placement in our chart; this happens again around the age of 38 and every nineteen years henceforth, with nodal oppositions occurring 9-10 years in between).  As we age with each subsequent nodal return (at age 19, 38, 57, . . . ) our ability to more fully integrate and embody our soul nature increases, just as once the maiden Persephone grew into being the Queen of the underworld, she ruled the soul’s journey from being in a body through the death of the body, through the soul’s release through her underworld kingdom, and then back again incarnated into a new body.  When we come across Persephone in our life, we are often dealing with issues that have been encircling us for more than one lifetime.

Pamela Colman Smith the wave

The current time of Neptune being  in Pisces will coincide with up-swellings of human emotion across our planet that will begin a process of dissolving the paradigms of belief currently limiting the perception, awareness, and understanding that we are one people surviving on this planet.  Deep and at times dark emotions will help to dissolve the dualistic perception that we are separate from one another, and we will begin to feel on a more tangible level how we are all One, and that nurturing a greater empathic connection between all people could help all of us survive to a greater extent heading into whatever could be coming our way in the future.

I heard astrologer Patricia Walsh give a talk at NORWAC 2012 on the grand water trine of the zodiac in Evolutionary Astrology being about Spirit, the Soul, and the Ego, with Pisces/Neptune being the Spirit, Scorpio/Pluto/8th being the Soul, and Cancer/Moon/4th being the Ego.  Patricia further linked the myth of Persephone into this water trine, with Persephone being Neptune/Pisces at first as the undescended innocent Maiden, Demeter as the Cancer/Moon conditioned Ego-self, and Hades as the Scorpio/Pluto Lord of the Underworld.   During this current time period there has been a trine going on between Neptune in Pisces and Saturn in Scorpio, and now Pisces Neptune is also trine to Persephone in Scorpio.   This correlates with the Persephone archetype through opportunities for us to transform the undescended and more innocent aspects of our psyche into a presence that has descended into it’s own shadow in order to re-ascend with a more whole consciousness.  The process of this integration of our undescended and descended being is intense and alchemical on a psychological level, but brings the possibility of previously unconscious soul desires becoming integrated into our awareness and eventually with discipline into a more balanced expression in our daily life and communication.

In my last astrology class, my teacher Rosie Finn said that she sensed that the upcoming grand water trine of this Summer (Neptune in Pisces, Saturn in Scorpio, Jupiter in Cancer- most exact from the middle to the end of July) could involve a release of karmic attachment for many souls to the burning times, to the trauma that many of carry within our soul of having been burned or put to death due to a charge of being a “witch” or performing “magic.”  I have personally sensed this underlying trauma in many souls I have encountered this lifetime, so if there could be some healing and release of this trauma this upcoming Summer, it truly will be a magical time in which new potential relationships could be built between all of us toward breaking cycles of oppression.  When I first heard Rosie say this, it sounded to me like the sort of “out-of-the-box” thought I have difficulty tracking or making sense of, but now that I am thinking about Persephone being connected to Saturn and the upcoming water trine, this idea of releasing unconscious attachment to past life trauma sounds very possible to me.  So be it!

In her lecture on the relationship between the grand water trine and the myth of Persephone, Patricia Walsh described the undescended Persephone being like a “New Age Princess” who expresses her psychological soul complexes into her environment because she is unconscious of them.  In this way it becomes a problem for her to cling to a sense of a purity of Spirit while avoiding the descent into the darker aspects of nature- in truth everything is not light and purity in the world.  As a result, the side of Spirit must descend into the Ego in order to learn how to ascend.  Ultimately, through this work of integrating our shadow and dark goddess sides we bring about the possibility of becoming mature spiritual beings.  Persephone in this way embodies both of the major feminine archetypes of the tarot, the Empress and the High Priestess, once she has become her mature spiritual self.

rider-waite-empress nk_high_priestess_waiteIn contrast, before we become our mature spiritual self, the Persephone archetype can link us to the shadow sides of these two cards, through our undescended ignornace of the depths of our being, or our inability to figure out how to integrate the descended side of our self.  In this situation, an undescended Persephone could be like a sterotypical New Age Empress traipsing about proclaiming an abundance of rainbows and unicorns in the world so to speak, and yet since she has not dealt with her own dark side, her behavior often comes off as overly controlling, smothering, emotionally needy, or emotionally barren.  In contrast, an over emphasis on the descended High Priestess side of our nature could lead us to having difficulty ascending back into the earthy love of the Empress, having us come off as more cold, intellectual, secretive, dreamy, or escapist.  Yet if we can access our unconscious reality, our soul nature, through the loving awareness of our Empress in the moment, being patient enough to nurture greater understanding of our deep soul desires that influence our actions and responses in the world-  we then have greater access to the potential of making ourselves whole, integrating our light and shadow, our yin and yang, the animus and the anima, and other symbols of the duality of our past perception.  This process of making a decision to become whole, and following through with choices in our daily life to align to a greater extent with our soul nature, makes me think of another tarot card, The Lovers.  This is because The Lovers can be about us making the choice to merge with our other, but this other does not have to be another lover, this merging can occur within our soul in order to become more whole.  The Lovers can also relate to any major decision for us to make, so along these lines of soul thought, the card would relate to this time if we are faced with a significant choice to make to come into more alignment with the integrity of our soul.  And perfect for this time at the end of May in which Persephone is conjunct Saturn in Scorpio, correlating with an increased capacity for us to follow through in this endeavor, the astrological sign associated with The Lovers is Gemini.

the_lovers_rws_deck2

In this time of incredible Gemini energy, with Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter all conjunct in Gemini, Persephone calls on us to  merge ourselves to a greater extent with our divine other, the soulmate we have within ourselves, our own soul nature.  In Esoteric Astrology Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter all connect with Gemini through the 2nd Ray of Love and Wisdom, with Venus being the esoteric ruler of Gemini.  Venus rules Gemini on a soul level because “Venus seeks to unite and blend, merge and harmonize all of the dualities in life . . . tak[ing] these conflicts of duality (as indicated by Mercury, personality ruler of Gemini . . .) and transform[ing] them into a higher octave of expression” (Oken, p. 173).  With Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn squaring right now with so many conflicts of polarity occurring in the world all around us, it is helpful to remember that Gemini “reveals the relationship between any pair of opposites . . . to create a greater awareness of the pair of opposites, so that a more harmonious relationship may evolve” (Oken, p. 174).  A mutable sign, Gemini in this way helps us modify and mutate “everything that is necessary for the evolution of the Soul, both in our individual lives, and in our collective life as humanity” (p. 174).  Thus, while we may like to idealize the conjunction of Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter above us right now as being about us experiencing abundance and happiness, and as a result feel disappointed if we are experiencing conflicts, polarities, or other difficulties, remember Persephone-  remember Persephone as an archetype who embodies the esoteric nature of Gemini to make the necessary changes for the evolution of our Soul.

The Lovers card also connects to the myth of Persephone because of the shocking paradigm shift that occurred in the Olympic Pantheon when she became the lover and partner of Hades:  the entrance of Eros, of passion, love, and desire, into the kingdom of the dead.  In his masterwork The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, Roberto Calasso described the significance of Persephone descending to become the bride of Hades like no other can:

When Hades asked his brother Zeus for a living woman, he upset the simple world order that had pertained hitherto:  life abounded, was marked and scarred by raiding gods, then consigned to an empty, inert, incorporeal afterlife.  Zeus wouldn’t have his mortal mistresses vanish.  He would possess them, then abandon them.  But Hades wanted Kore as his bride, wanted to have a living person sitting on the throne beside him.  We could say that with this demand death aimed to inflict a further outrage on the earth above.  But it is precisely now, in its insolence, that death deceives itself.  With the abduction of Persephone, death acquires a body, acquires body:  in the kingdom of the shades, there is now at least one body, and the body of a  flourishing young girl at that.

. . . But now, along with Kore’s body, Eros penetrated the kingdom of the dead.  The slender-ankled Persephone was the supple arrow Aprhrodite ordered Eros to let fly at Hades . . .

When Persephone took her place on Hades’ throne and her scented face peeped out from behind the spiky beard of her partner, when Persephone bit into the pomegranate that grew in the shadow gardens, death underwent a transformation every bit as radical as that which life had undergone when it had been deprived of the girl.  The two kingdoms were thrown off balance, each opening up to the other.  Hades imposed an absence on earth, imposed a situation where every presence was now enveloped in a far greater cloak of absence.  Persephone imposed blood on the dead:  not, as in the past, the dark blood of sacrifice, not the blood the dead used to drink so thirstily, but the invisible blood that went on pulsing in her white arms, the blood of someone who is still entirely alive, even in the palace of death.

–Roberto Calasso, The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, p. 211-212

So let us drink to Persephone tonight- that is if you drink- or if not, let us honor Persephone through ritual or intention today.  In these times of great changes and cataclysm, Persephone is a role model who shows us how we can descend to the very depths of being in order to ascend with our own authentic integrity.  In fact, she points to the necessity of needing to descend to our depths for our ascension to occur in the first place.

HadesPersephone2Locri

References

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

George, D. (1994). Finding Our Way Through the Dark:  an astrological companion to Mysteries                 of the Dark Moon. AFA.

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

Oken, A. (1980). Alan Oken’s Complete Astrology. Ibis.

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