Pisces Full Moon & Neptune

Joseph_Mallord_William_Turner_-_Fishermen_at_Sea_-_Google_Art_Project

Fishermen at Sea (1795) by J.M. William Turner

Full Moon in Pisces

The Full Moon in Pisces on September 6 is united with Neptune, bringing amplified access to imaginal fields in which our extrasensory perception can pick up sensations and messages that would normally escape our awareness.  The floodgates opened by this lunation are especially powerful due to it being the Full Moon that follows the Total Solar Eclipse in Leo, with Mercury also stationing direct and ending it’s three week retrograde in Virgo and Leo at the same time.  It was obvious looking far in advance to this lunation that it would correlate with major life changing events due to these elements, and unfortunately in the collective there have been numerous traumatic natural disasters including monstrous floods and out of control wildfires. We can feel the dissolution of Neptune within these tragedies, as political, religious and other societal divisions between people wash away in empathy for those suffering and in united collective responses to bring aid.  For those fortunate to be out of harm’s way at this Full Moon, on personal levels this Neptunian lunation is ideal for taking a break from the fiery ambitions stoked by recent transits in order to rest, recuperate, and dream.

The opposition between the Sun and Neptune is a peak moment in our experience of Neptune, magnified to the extreme with the Full Moon additionally aligned with Neptune.  When the Neptune archetype demands our attention, we can feel more like embracing a loved one, getting lost in thoughts or images, or engaging in spontaneous creative processes rather than focusing on the details of deadlines in our daily responsibilities.  With Neptune it is easier to let ourselves flow, relax, and envision as much as our schedule will allow us to, and if it is necessary to be tightly focused on a schedule it will be important to concentrate on our use of time more so than normal.  Neptune can warp our experience of time which is not necessarily a bad thing, but can make it more difficult to keep sharp focus and make quick decisions of clarity.

Whatever was stirred up for us by the Total Solar Eclipse will now become illuminated, and with Neptune involved there is boundless potential unhindered by limitations of thought to fuel our vision for the future.  I was fortunate to make it within the band of totality to view the Total Solar Eclipse with a clear sky featuring Venus glowing bright in the otherworldly shadows at the midheaven.  There is no way for me to articulate the meaning of what can only be described as a mystical experience, but whether or not you were able to view the total blackness of the eclipse most likely you have already begun to feel irrevocable shifts in your life in correspondence with the timing.  Neptune united with the Full Moon is not the best for gaining objective clarity of the meaning of it all, but it is optimal for letting yourself open fully to the realms of inspiration and imagination.  It’s not necessary at this time to have everything analyzed and classified with interpretation, only to let yourself soak everything up and allow what wants to be born come forth.

Light and Colour (Goethe's Theory)  - the Morning after the Deluge - Moses Writing the Book of Genesis exhibited 1843 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

Light and Colour (Goethe’s Theory) by J.M. William Turner (1843)

Mercury Stationing

The Pisces Full Moon receives a jolt of volatility from Mercury, as the Star of Hermes stations direct less than twenty-four hours before the lunation on the same degree as the recent Solar Eclipse in Leo.  Mercury will remain in Leo picking up speed until September 9 or 10, depending upon your time zone.  With Mercury direct we now have all five traditional planets direct in motion and ready to support forward movement on goals and plans.  Mercury stationing direct can feel like waking up from a powerful dream and needing to reorient yourself to the reality of your circumstances in the shifting colors of dawn.  Once focused upon the tasks of the morning hours, however, you notice a keen mental sharpness restored able to focus at length on whatever needs to be accomplished.  Mercury’s faculties are further amplified by its conjunction with the North Node of the Moon and its formation of a fiery triangle with Uranus in Aries and Saturn in Sagittarius.

Mercury stationing is also inciting the applying opposition between Jupiter in Libra and Uranus in Aries that will be building throughout September.  Jupiter and Uranus make their final exact opposition on September 28 (after previously opposing one another on 26 December 2016 and 2 March 2017), and so the tension of their opposition looms over all events in September.   The peak phase between Jupiter and Uranus brings about collective revolutions that can be inspiring due to opening up new horizons of exploration, yet simultaneously other global events can feel traumatizing due to massive upheavals and dismantling.  The shadow of Jupiter and Uranus involves obsession with grandiose ambitions that leads to an over-reaching and subsequent sudden downfall, and unfortunately when global empires use military force to pursue greater amounts of power we suffer increased levels of destruction as a result.

Mercury is at least making the harmonious aspects of a sextile with Jupiter and a trine with Uranus, leading to the potential for ingenious breakthroughs in thought that can be immediately put into action.  The trine between Mercury and Uranus is especially close, and we may even find that ideas we began developing at the previous Mercury retrograde in Taurus and Aries (that saw Mercury station direct in union with Uranus at the beginning of May) now taking clearer shape in ways bringing about their manifestation.  Any projects you have been working on developing that haven’t quite coalesced together in completion can now enjoy the benefit of Mercury direct and forming strong harmonious aspects with Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus.  In addition, with Black Moon Lilith united with Saturn in Sagittarius, there is an opening available to more fully embody essential aspects of Self that have previously been repressed or exiled due to fear of judgment.  This is an excellent period to use the inspirational force of a Full Moon aligned with Neptune to make big movement within whatever you have been working on creating.

PartOfAMenat-HariesisStandsBySehkmetFlankedByWadjetAndNekhbet

Part of a meant necklace showing Horus extending a sistrum to Sekhmet, surrounded by the protector goddesses Wadjet as the cobra and Nekhbet as the white vulture.

Mars in Virgo; Venus in Leo

Venus is finally coming toward completing her cycle with Mars at the Full Moon, approaching her union with the red planet that will occur at the time of the next Full Moon in Aries on October 5.  Venus in Leo is forming a waxing quincunx with the Full Moon and Neptune in Pisces, an aspect that Jeff Green in evolutionary astrology connects with embracing humility.  The importance of this aspect to Green centers around preparation to interact in society as an equal, in order to effectively express and integrate developing visions into the surrounding social environment. Humbling is needed in order to make adjustments to overly willful and inflated desires, a potential that is very possible when we are also dealing with an opposition between Jupiter and Uranus and an extended conjunction between Mercury and Mars. The purpose behind the Gibbous re-adjustment is to analyze the structure of the surrounding social environment in order to discern how to integrate developing visions into work or service that is needed by the greater whole.

Mars is in an especially Mercurial section of Virgo at the Full Moon, not only being in the home and exaltation of Mercury but also within its bounds.  Though Mars at the time of the Full Moon has separated by sign from Mercury, by September 10 the Star of Hermes will have returned to Virgo and will begin to apply to another conjunction with Mars.  Mercury will eventually form its second conjunction with Mars in Virgo on  September 16, giving us an extended period of time to mediate the forces of Mercury and Mars coming together.  Though this can certainly correlate with heated conflict, if we can keep a cool head there is immense power involved in the union of Mercury and Mars to imbibe into good works for the greater good.   Mars and Mercury uniting at the end of Leo as Mercury stationed, at the same degree as the Solar Eclipse, brought the sort of scorching heat needed to melt old structures down into more fluid states that can now be rearranged in ways aligned with one’s authentic heart in the moment.  After Mercury re-enters Virgo in coming days we will experience greater ease in melding the forces of Mercury and Mars together into practical problem solving and invention.

Mars entering Virgo while Mercury is in the process of passing back and forth across the threshold of Virgo means that both are in the vicinity of the great fixed star Regulus.  Regulus spent over two thousand years in the tropical zodiac sign of Leo until the year 2012 when it entered Virgo. Regulus is the heart of the lion in the Leo constellation, a multiple star system with ancient associations with Mars, Jupiter, and the characteristics of leadership, described by Reinhold Ebertin as conveying “royal properties, noble mind, frankness, courage” (p. 52), and by Vivian Robson as making one “magnanimous, grandly liberal, generous, ambitious, fond of power, desirous of command, high-spirited and independent” (p. 195). If we are someone accustomed to ambitiously pursuing power, we may be confronted with experiences making us question how we have been impacting others.  If we are someone who has been repressing the expression of our gifts, a burning inner fire may propel us to seize opportunities to develop our works of passion and to realize ways in which we can more confidently present ourselves and help others as a result.  Bernadette Brady astutely warned in her book on Fixed Stars that while Regulus can bring power and success, if we take revenge on others from a place of wounding and anger than we can experience a sudden fall from grace.

Venus will move across Leo into an applying conjunction with the North Node of the Moon by the coming weekend, eventually reaching a union with the head of the dragon on September 14 as the Moon wanes in Cancer and in opposition to Pluto in Capricorn.  In the past month we have had a lot of action centered around the North Node of the Moon, with Mercury, Mars, the Sun and the Moon all passing over it, and now Venus takes her turn.  As Venus approaches the North Node, she will also enter into a trine with Saturn in Sagittarius and receive Jupiter in Libra through a sextile. Since so much Leo North Node energy has already been stirred up and volatilized, Venus moving across the head of the dragon can bring some reconciliation and harmonizing of whatever was previously torn or wounded.  Take time to not only pursue Venusian endeavors but to also make space for your own emotional nourishment, using the significations of Venus as a balm to calm nerves.
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Pisces 2 Decan

The Full Moon falls in the second face of Pisces associated with the Nine of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  Jupiter rules the second face of Pisces, and we can see the jovial opulence of the great benefic in the image of rather smug satisfaction.  The Nine of Cups card is often associated with wish fulfillment, enjoying pleasure and satisfaction, and getting what we think we want. Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Net” to the Pisces second decan, a face in which “the central conflict is how to reconcile one’s understanding of the true nature of reality with the world-as-it-is,” a “phase in which we are challenged to reconcile beliefs, ideals and the way things are” (p. 251).  Coppock illuminated in 36 Faces that the crux of this decan is that fulfillment can come from harmonizing one’s inner perceptions with one’s outer life, yet torment and grief will overcome those unable to harmonize their outer and inner worlds.

Though Jupiter is not within the second face of Pisces at the Full Moon, Jupiter does have face dignity as it rules the third face of Libra it is currently transiting.  In addition, Jupiter is separating from a sextile with Saturn in Sagittarius and applying toward an opposition with Uranus in Aries-  this not only supports us daring to dream what we most desire but also finding the way with structural supports to manifest and actualize our desires.  Since the Full Moon is conjoining Neptune, the perception into underlying reality signified by their union is fitting for the meaning Austin Coppock gave to the second decan of Pisces, as the lunation will call us to integrate this depth of awareness into our daily life.  Discernment will also be needed to make sure that our dreams and goals are not out of alignment with the myriad elements of reality developing around us.  There is a strong component of visioning at this Full Moon able to be accessed, with our imagination supported by a sturdy foundation that will nurture the roots of the dream to ensure flourishing growth and development.

References

Brady, Bernadette.  (1998).  Brady’s Book of Fixed Stars. Weiser.

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

Ebertin, Reinhold. (1973). Fixed Stars and their Interpretation. Ebertin-Verlag.

Robson, Vivian. (1969). The Fixed Stars & Constellations in Astrology. The Aquarian Press.

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Pisces Lunar Eclipse

Vasily Kafanov fish landscape gray

Vasily Kafanov (2013) Landscape with Fishtower on gray

The fisherman draws fish that he never saw from many fathoms beneath the water, the miner brings gold from the depths out of the earth, through which his sight cannot pierce. In this wise has God taught it.

As there is nothing so occult that it shall not become manifest, so the same must be made known. Be it in the celestial firmament, in the sea, in the earth, all things must become manifest; but through man who discovers all things.

— Paracelsus, from his preface to Magia Emblemata et Prognostici

Penumbral Pisces Lunar Eclipse

Within change and strife resides freedom and release, for every heart breaks within love that returns and gives birth.  Beyond every flower found in radiant color, ripened fruit savored, or prismatic crystal unearthed and polished, lies an infinitely more vast and invisible realm of dark fertility surrounding and shaping this and all other universes.  In fathomless oceanic depth, under waves inexorably dissolving and bringing forth life, glimmers the slippery, silvery sheen of soul we find in Pisces.

Light as dramatic as can be sensed during the Pisces Lunar Eclipse on September 16 begins to fade as soon as it has brought forth its fullness.  We stand like a willow on the banks of its vortex, trunk strong and branches unfurled toward the constant disintegration of earthly matter into water.   This week’s lunar eclipse at the end of the zodiac culminates many stories embedded in the intense mutable shifting of the past year.  Within red shadows projected upon the Moon, one’s presence of being may become lightened from the accumulated heaviness of past failures and regrets.

In contrast to a solar eclipse in which the Sun is overwhelmed by the shadow of the Moon, symbolically the meaning of a Lunar Eclipse is rooted in the phenomenon of our Sun casting the shadow of our Earth onto the face of our Moon. Linking the Moon to what we carry from the past within our body and mind, the past transmutes in the shadowy face of the Moon to allow for new emergence and presence.  Dane Rudhyar in The Astrology of Transformation wrote that at a lunar eclipse “the traditional perspective born of past experiences of adjusting to life and society is blotted out by an eagerness to meet experience in a new, original manner.”  This emphasis on new choices and vision is amplified by the Sun being on the side of the North Node of the Moon in Virgo.

The eclipse is classified as penumbral because although the lunation is fairly close to the nodes of the Moon, the eclipse is at 24º20′ Pisces while the south node of the Moon is at twelve degrees of Pisces.  Though the shadow cast will not completely cover the Moon’s face in rosy glow, it remains a lunar eclipse that irrevocably alters the stories internally streamed from the past year of life.  Aligned with Chiron just as the Total Solar Eclipse in Pisces on 8 March 2016 was also conjoining Chiron, there is a cathartic release into the ever emptying ocean of Pisces that washes away remnants of disappointing burden that have been sticking to the flesh and circulating repeatedly in the mind.

Radha and Krishna

The Lovers Radha and Krishna (circa 1775 -1780)

Pisces is the exaltation of Venus, and the lunar eclipse occurs close to the specific degree Venus exalts in (27° Pisces).  Venus looms over the eclipse as Jupiter in Libra rules the eclipse and Venus is co-present in her home of Libra alongside Jupiter.  Pisces is the inwardly directed home of Jupiter, a place of inner expansion and vision, a faculty of intuitive gnosis merging heart with mind.  Relationships, our current relations as well as all manner of past relational patterns that inform our meeting with others, rise from the waters of Pisces at this week’s eclipse with a message of vital importance, whether found in the form of verbal language or nonverbal image.   In the twilight preceding the full illumination of the Pisces Moon, one may behold a brilliant Venus on the horizon that is continuing to brighten as an Evening Star.

Though as mentioned the shadow of this week’s eclipse is fainter than that of a total lunar eclipse, nonetheless the redness of the eclipsed shadow on the Moon evokes Pisces through its correspondences with eros that vitalizes blood flow and inspirit. The red shadow covering the Moon also has symbolic overtones with the renewal of the rubedo stage in alchemy, as it portends responding to life from a new presence free of past conditioning.  Red is also fitting for Mars being in square to the lunar eclipse, making this Pisces Lunar Eclipse a tumultuous affair.  In fact, there is little balanced about the Libra influence of Venus and Jupiter, as Venus will be applying closely to an opposition with Uranus in Aries and a sextile with Mars in Sagittarius, with Mars further in trine to Uranus.  Yet in the stillness of a Pisces pool within the surrounding bedlam, insight may be discovered.

Scylla 1938 by Ithell Colquhoun 1906-1988

Scylla (1938) by Ithell Colquhoun

“The true duty of the artist is to know what she is doing and transmit her knowledge with precision. The artist must always lift up the skirts of Venus or her twin-sister Medusa; if she is incapable of that, she should consider changing professions.
Let’s thus seek out the possibility of having subtle organs that will allow us to spread a beneficial magic or receive it while cultivating the protections against the multiple venoms of the invisible world. It is only in the strange magic ocean that we can find salvation for ourselves and our sick planet.”
– Leonora Carrington, response to a questionnaire for L’Art magique, 1957

The above quote from Leonora Carrington and painting by Ithell Colquhoun were both shared by Jon Eric Graham in a presentation he gave entitled “A Stunning Revenge on All Things: Surrealism, Alchemy, and Magic” at the recent 2016 Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle I attended.  In a subsequent presentation Pam Grossman also shared the same Scylla image by Ithell Colquhoun in her talk “Witch Pictures: Female Magic and Transgression in Western Art.”  As Pam Grossman traced the history of the depiction of witches in art, highlighting the obvious shift of meaning once women had platforms to create their own witchy images, I was struck by the full archetype of the witch held within any modern manifestation of image, no matter how corporate or commercial.  Namely, that the indescribable trauma and travesty of the collective history of witches is held and honored within the same image of witchcraft a modern teenager will embrace as part of claiming her own sense of the sacred feminine.  This is not to suggest oppression will go away or that its wounds will disintegrate, only that in the dissolution of the Pisces Lunar Eclipse an empowering liberty may be discovered within our identities that have been hurt the most.

The square between Saturn and Neptune that finally culminated in the week before the lunar eclipse involves the transfiguration of collective images in meaning.  Indeed, the most intense aspect to the lunar nodes at this week’s eclipse is not the actual Full Moon Eclipse, but rather the square between Neptune and Saturn, with Saturn applying closely to a square with the lunar nodes and Neptune conjoining the South Node of the Moon.  Whatever sacrifice has had to be made in this past year of the square between Saturn and Neptune, like Odysseus passing through Scylla and Charybdis we now must resolutely with responsibility press forward on the path we have realigned with.  Any fixations on past dreams that did not manifest must now be dropped into the receding tide, with focus and accountability bound to the work needing to be done in the present moment that meets one’s own needs as well as creates valuable resources or inspiration for others.

alchemy image red robe

Colored etching of alchemical stage (18th Century). Source

The numerous catalytic aspects involved in the Pisces Lunar Eclipse unfortunately make it likely that the disasters, acts of violence, and traumatic events that have dominated current events recently will continue.  On a personal level, however, if you are somewhere securely away from overwhelming conflict the incredibly active nature of this week’s eclipse can be an enlivening impetus toward tangible realization of goals and vision worked on across time.  Mercury remains retrograde, separating from its union with the Sun earlier in the week and applying to a trine with Pluto in Capricorn.  Though Mercury has shifted toward its Morning Star phase in which goals and plans can be focused on with greater clarity, it is not yet visible and so there is still a chthonic fertility to all things Mercurial.

Particularly compelling to me is that the true node of Black Moon Lilith will be conjoined with Venus in Libra at the time of the lunar eclipse.  This means that Venus combined with Black Moon Lilith will be opposite Uranus in Aries and sextile to Mars in Sagittarius.  Black Moon Lilith is the oscillating shadow point that balances the Moon’s orbit, bringing the liberating quality of Uranus contacting Venus and Mars more directly into the experience of the Pisces Lunar Eclipse.  Where we have been abandoned, betrayed, felt exiled or placed at a distance on the outside, becomes in the shadowed light of the lunar eclipse a strength fortified by lack and solitude and ready to burst forth with meaning to express and share during the dissemination of the eclipsed light.

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10 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Pisces 3 Decan

The Lunar Eclipse is in the third face of Pisces, associated with the 10 of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  An image of joy, fulfillment, rainbows and giddy children, the 10 of Cups is interpreted as the quality of blissful happiness and manifestation that those who reside within the third face of Pisces not only yearn to bring about but possess the internal resources to do so.  The final decan of the zodiac from the perspective that Aries is the beginning, the third decan of Pisces is a place of magical manifestation where seeming miracles can be brought about against all odds.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Cup of Blood” to this face, describing it as a “mad quest for an ideal” and “being willing to sacrifice everything” for “the attainment of one’s greatest desire, no matter the cost.”  While Three Books of Occult Philosophy described an image of a naked man with a beautiful woman whose head is decorated with flowers, other ancient texts describe terror of loss bringing screams and cries.  Austin Coppock linked the third face of Pisces with such “heights of agony and ecstasy,” writing that “Though there can be no greater pleasure than the union with the beloved, no pain is greater than its frustration, or worse yet, the betrayal of the person or ideal whom one has sacrificed so much for.”   As a result Coppock noted the importance of applying discernment and discrimination to acts brought forth in this face.

Coppock made a brilliant connection with the fragmentary Hellenistic text The 36 Airs ascribing the daimon of hope Elpis to the third decan of Pisces.  This is the hope left at the bottom of Pandora’s box, the answer to doom pointing to “beauty, love and the real possibility of happy endings.  The last decan [of Pisces] is thus a miniature of all incarnation, asking the most important questions and offering the most impassioned answers” (p. 260).

The third face of Pisces is ruled by Mars, and as Mars in Sagittarius is in square to the lunar eclipse, the meaning of this passionate decan of Pisces must be faced.  The warnings of losing one’s beloved or cherished ideal in no way means to hold back from pursuing what enlivens the heart during the eclipse.  With Saturn in square to the lunar nodes and Neptune conjoining the south node, however, it is vital to plant seeds and develop growth in places clearly able to receive and bolster one’s ideal intentions.  There is co-creative magic found in the face of this week’s Pisces Lunar Eclipse to align with the work, path, and collaborators most resonant with one’s deepest desires.

pisceslunareclipsewrigc8

References

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

Paracelsus. (2014 edition). Magia Emblemata et Prognostici. Ouroboros Press.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1980). The Astrology of Transformation. Quest Books.

Pisces Full Moon

Pisces Full Moon

Illustration by Kay Nielson from East of the Sun and West of the Moon (1914)

Pisces Full Moon

The Full Moon in Pisces on August 29, 2015 is full of passion and heralds the coming eclipse season, for  the New Moon to follow is a Solar Eclipse in Virgo.  It is also a Super Moon, and the first Full Moon classified as a Super Moon this year.  Super Moon is a term coined by astrologer Richard Nolle for either New or Full Moons occurring at the Moon’s perigee, when the Moon comes closest to Earth in orbit (Nolle defined a Super Moon as occurring within 90% of the Moon’s closest orbit to Earth).  Super Moons have been measured to have a greater impact on tides, and likewise our emotional tides will overflow as we will be at the culmination of the current lunar cycle that began with the New Moon conjunct Venus retrograde, at the time of a new cycle between Venus and the Sun. This Pisces Super Moon is straight up loaded, with Jupiter in Virgo conjunct the Sun, Neptune in Pisces conjunct the Moon, Mercury in Libra conjunct the North Node of the Moon, and Mars conjunct Venus retrograde in Leo.   We are at the dawn of a new sense of Venus in our lives, as she has arisen from the underworld and settled into a new phase of her retrograde as a Morning Star signaling sunrise.  As a result, this Pisces Full Moon will reveal to us whether or not our life path and structures currently align with our Venusian rebirth of values and desires.

So often we try to convince ourselves we are living a full, contented life.   But there is always something pulling at our heart; ambition, restlessness, are just its shadows.  And it will go on tearing at our hearts until we start to acknowledge what is missing.

— Peter Kingsley from Reality

Jupiter is at home in Pisces, but instead finds itself in the sign of Virgo opposite the Full Moon in Pisces.  Jupiter as the ruler of this Full Moon is activating a polarity of consciousness more extreme than the typical Full Moon, as the Sun will be united with Jupiter in opposition to the Moon in union with Neptune.  Just like Venus being in a new cycle with the Sun, Jupiter is also now in a new cycle with the Sun, the difference being that Jupiter has been initiated into it’s new solar cycle in the sign of the Winged Maiden.  As a result, Jupiter has passed through a purifying initiation administered in Virgo, giving the new Jupiter cycle an emphasis on productivity, refinement of technique, research, analysis, deepened awareness of language, and discerning vision.  While many have been struggling with difficult emotions surfacing during the recent underworld period of the Venus retrograde, Jupiter’s conjunction with the Sun in Virgo can aid us in seeing through facades and the superficial, helping us envision where to focus going forward to bring us a greater sense of fulfillment aligned with our changing state of Venus.

neptune gdansk

Neptune in Gdansk, Poland

As the polarity between Virgo and Pisces has a lot to do with the reception of spirit in one form or another, in service to one’s ideal, the focus on the here and now of the Sun’s conjunction with Jupiter in Virgo is at odds with the otherworldly quality aroused by the Full Moon united with Neptune in Pisces.  Neptune connects to the infinite, oceanic field and in the sign of Pisces has added imaginal emphasis on the potency of the images surrounding us and emanating from within our imagination.  Neptune in Pisces can be like a siren’s call that leads some to crash under waves of illusion, while for others it can dissolve awareness to flow beyond the rigid confines of consensus culture.  Neptune in Pisces can create storms that flood the structures we have grown accustomed to, forcing our identities to mutate and shift in creation of a new livelihood out of the dissolution of the old and outgrown.  There is a balanced reception to strike between Virgo and Pisces that requires self-realization regarding the illusions of belief we have been drifting through in surrounding culture.  For example, we could be under the sway of social programming from religion such as the pervasive influence of the biblical Garden of Eden leading to feelings of shame or judgmental projections.  Or, perhaps we are caught up in the illusory stock market and a financial system of fabrications fabricating fabrications.

Jupiter in Virgo’s reception of this Pisces Full Moon could lead to a penetrating awareness of deeper meaning in our environment, similar to our first realizations in youth of the false pretenses of authority figures, or the blatant evidence of colonial oppression in our surrounding social structures we had previously been ignorant of.  While the Virgo Sun and Jupiter attunes us to the fluctuations of matter made of soul surrounding us, Neptune in Pisces being lit up with a conjoined Full Moon could tap us into another realm of soul seemingly invisible in our surrounding material world.   It feels important to put the emphasis on grounding the insights that arise in the here and now at this Full Moon, and opening ourselves to an unveiling of what aspects of our recent attachments are illusory and which hold a solid foundation for us.

Scott Young

by Scott Young from http://scottyoung.us

There are real fireworks to this Pisces Full Moon, as Mars is applying to a conjunction with Venus Retrograde and creating a heated underlying energy.  We are a week away from Venus stationing direct, and so the arrival of Mars in Leo to unite with Venus amplifies all of the issues we have been experiencing during this Venus retrograde.  Relationships could become a battleground if we are unable to give space for the transformation of each partner engaged in the dance.  As transiting Venus retrograde is ruling the transiting North Node of the Moon in Libra, there is an overall emphasis on re-calibrating and re-aligning our relationship dynamics in order for each partner to feel empowered to act and speak authentically.  We need to speak our mind and have our needs met, yet we also will need to be open to the changes our various partners in our various relationships are going through, and avoid attempting to manipulate or control things in order to stave off the necessary mutation.

The Mars conjunction with Venus retrograde in Leo also brings a call to take courage in taking bold steps in asserting yourself in line with the Venus retrograde shiftings experienced in the past month.  We will be receiving a visionary lift at this Full Moon from asteroid goddesses, as Pallas Athena in Sagittarius and Vesta retrograde in Aries will be forming a Grand Fire Trine with the conjunction of Mars and Venus retrograde in Leo.  There is devotion found here to an essential aspect of self uncovered by the Venus retrograde, and Pallas Athena in Sagittarius can creatively visualize the next steps to take and wants to lead us into direct action forward.  As there are numerous protest movements building around numerous social justice issues, this Grand Fire Trine also feels auspicious for pinpointing and following through with strategies that inspire others to join the movement.

Full Moon in Pisces

Pier and Ocean (Sea in Starlight) by Piet Mondrian

Since Jupiter and the Sun aligned in Virgo are plugged into Mercury, it is further vital to realize that Mercury is conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Libra at the time of this Full Moon in Pisces.  These aspects pull our perception and discernment strongly into the realm of our relationships, both our interpersonal relationships and dynamics within the collective.  Our needs in our most intimate relationships will become obvious and demand attention and expression, and we will need to balance this desire with the same desire arising in our partner.  As Libra also relates to justice, issues related to oppression such as sexism and racism will become even further amplified in the collective with tensions rising between those with opposing viewpoints.

It is wise to bring full attention to issues arising within relationships at this Full Moon with Mercury conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Libra, for at this time Mercury has also entered its retrograde shadow zone in the sign of the scales.  Mercury will be in its retrograde shadow zone for approximately a month, first stationing retrograde on September 17 around 16 degrees of Libra, entering the heart of the Sun on September 30 around 8 degrees Libra, stationing direct on October 9 around 1 degree of Libra, and finally exiting the retrograde shadow zone around October 24, 2015.  This Libran retrograde of Mercury could deepen our relational dynamics and solidify the changes we are beginning to embody from the rebirth of Venus we are now experiencing, but this is a potential outcome that will require cultivation of self-reflection, communication, and listening skills.  If our relationships are badly out of balance at this time, the Mercury retrograde could highlight greater degrees of miscommunication instead of penetrating insight.  As a result the issues arising at this Full Moon are vital to reflect upon going forward into September and October.

Making the alignment of Mercury with the North Node even more potent is the fact that Black Moon Lilith has also recently entered Libra through its mean calculation, and so is conjunct both.  The true node of Black Moon Lilith has previously entered Libra so this is not a completely new phenomenon, but the true node calculation of the actual location of Black Moon Lilith oscillates widely from day to day, and so many astrologers prefer to use the steady, ever progressing forward average calculation of the movement of Black Moon Lilith.  From this perspective, this Pisces Full Moon brings an important ingress of this mean node of Black Moon Lilith into Libra at the same time that Mercury and the North Node of the Moon are also residing there.  Black Moon Lilith brings an added value of what aspects of our Self have previously felt judged, shamed, and even persecuted to such an extent that we have ostracized them in exile away from the personality we take into our daily interactions.  This Full Moon can also therefore shine light on the aspects of our Self we have formerly embodied only at times of complete trust and intimacy, helping us realize it is not only possible but necessary for us to begin to embody these qualities in our mundane, moment to moment interactions in daily life.

First Face of Pisces 8 of Cups

8 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Pisces I Decan

The Pisces Full Moon is in the first face of Pisces associated with the 8 of Cups in tarot, illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  Here in this image a hermetic recluse walks away from a watery environment into a mountainous landscape, utilizing a walking stick not unlike a magical staff grounding cosmic awareness into the earth plane.  Above the hermit is an image typically described as a Moon, but I can’t help thinking it also looks like the image of a Sun and Moon in union not unlike an eclipse, not unlike the Solar Eclipse the waning cycle coming after this Full Moon is leading us toward.  The eight cups are stacked in the foreground like a wall or a structural container giving space for penetrating inner awareness, with the base foundation of the stack wider and most solid.  Writing about the 8 of Cups, Kelsey Lynore analyzed that it “marks a significant turning away from tradition and that which has previously given you comfort. Your journey into the future will be long and arduous, leading directly into, and through, the darkness of night. The moon, symbol of the Unconscious, is your sole light and guide. Trust your body, trust your hunches, and trust your intuition. You shan’t be looking back. The 8 of Cups represents that moment when you must say ‘no’ to what is, so that you might create or discover that which will be.”

The first face of Pisces is ruled by Saturn, which aligns perfectly with the image of a hermit turning away from the accepted and familiar in order to receive new visions of depth and penetrating insight.  As Austin Coppick wrote in his book on the decans 36 Faces, the “relationship with what lies beyond the boundaries characterizes all of Pisces’ decans,” and in the first face of Pisces we “recognize our imprisonment in our own reality construct” as well as “the possibility of liberation” from moving beyond our former boundaries into “a world as yet uncorrupted by our assumptions” (p. 244):

Beneath the waves, deep within the labyrinth of images and constructs, lies a revelatory truth- we have always existed in this structure, but we are now only discovering it. When pursued consciously, this phase involves a quest to map invisible walls of reality, to find the subtle structures which guide human life . . .

The discovery of the labyrinth also brings with it the question of its maker, initiating a confrontation with the Demiurgos of the reality structure in question. On a personal level, it is the discovery of our unconscious, and the Maker we find is none other than ourselves . . .

The successful confrontation with the demonized demiurgos leads to an internalization of its power.  In discovering that it was none other than a portion of ourselves which erected this reality, we gain the power to build as we see fit, with what materials we have assembled.  The maze is ours to re-create, our soul the architect.  Yet sometimes the tortuous labyrinth holds within its secret heart a wisdom we did not expect. Its being is no abomination, but exactly as it should be. The realization transforms the structure itself from a prison to a palace. Liberation is achieved here through insight alone.

–Austin Coppock (p. 245) 36 Faces

The Full Moon in Pisces conjunct Neptune, opposite Jupiter in Virgo conjunct the Sun, is a culminating point of realization that leads us into a waning lunar cycle tapped into the vortex of the coming Solar Eclipse in Virgo.  We find ourselves in the atmosphere of Venus retrograde reborn as a Morning Star, united with Mars in full morning glory.  We are at a time in which the old and familiar is being eclipsed with finality by guiding lights arising out of darkness on the horizon, as from within prescient, visionary urges are instinctually helping us find our path on the earth at our feet.  Open yourself to the immense beauty of this large, glowing, radiant Moon in Pisces, and the one cherished life you are living.

And who has seen the moon, who has not seen
Her rise from out the chamber of the deep,
Flushed and grand and naked, as from the chamber
Of finished bridegroom, seen her rise and throw
Confession of delight upon the wave,
Littering the waves with her own superscription
Of bliss, till all her lambent beauty shakes toward us
Spread out and known at last, and we are sure
That beauty is a thing beyond the grave,
That perfect, bright experience never falls
To nothingness, and time will dim the moon
Sooner than our full consummation here
In this odd life will tarnish or pass away.

Moonrise by D.H. Lawrence

Pisces Full Moon August 29, 2015

References

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

Kingsley, Peter. (2003). Reality. The Golden Sufi Center.

Solar Eclipse Equinox

pegasus and bellerophon

Pegasus and Bellerophon (1888 charcoal) by Odilon Redon

  • Saturn stations retrograde in Sagittarius on March 14, 2015 at 4°56′
  • 7th and final first quarter square between Pluto and Uranus on March 17, 2015
  • Mercury conjunct Neptune in Pisces on March 18, 2015 at 8°1′
  • Solar Eclipse in Pisces at 29°27′ on March 20, 2015
  • Aries Equinox on March 20 happens thirteen hours after the Solar Eclipse

Feared by our ancient ancestors for corresponding with increased chaos, Solar Eclipses occur when there is a New Moon close to zodiac degree with the South or North Node of the Moon.  On March 20, 2015 we will experience the synchronicity of a Solar Eclipse at the final degree of Pisces happening roughly thirteen hours before the Sun enters Aries and we celebrate the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, the Fall Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere.  This Pisces Solar Eclipse is about ten degrees away from the South Node of the Moon in Aries, a point on our ecliptic we associate with our past karma, our unconscious, and release as it marks the descending arc of the Moon across the ecliptic, whereas the North Node of the Moon symbolizes an arising point of conscious intake and evolution as it marks the ascending arc of the Moon across the ecliptic.  In a solar eclipse, the Moon crosses between us and the Sun by zodiac degree and aligned with one of it’s own nodes, magically from our perspective appears as the same size as the Sun and blackens solar light for the length of its transit.

As a result, Dane Rudhyar and other astrologers have associated solar eclipses as a moment in which our karmic past cloaks the solar light of our present, and our unconscious aspects normally hidden can become more viscerally felt in our conscious awareness.  Since this solar eclipse is occurring at the end of Pisces, conjunct the transiting South Node of the Moon, it accentuates our capacity to gain greater awareness for what has been brewing in our unconscious, and to release or resolve old karmic issues.  Taking the time to reflect upon the house of your birth chart where the solar eclipse will occur at the end of Pisces, as well as the aspects it makes with planets and other components of your birth chart will help prepare you for how your life could be impacted.  Solar Eclipses often mark a pivotal shift that can feel chaotic, but in the unsettling loss of past attachments and security we can find an opportunity to create new growth for ourselves in the areas of our life signified by the aspects made by the eclipse in our birth chart.

Further forcing us to confront ourselves at our deepest core is the seventh and final square between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn that hits a few days before the solar eclipse.  Since June of 2012 we have experienced a sequence of seven exact squares between Uranus and Pluto, and with the final one occurring earlier in the week the Equinox Eclipse initiates a settling into the first quarter aspect between Uranus and Pluto for good.  By now you should know what necessity has demanded you release, end, confront, and initiate (especially connected to how 7 – 15° of Aries and Capricorn impacts your chart), so the less you can resist and the more you can open to the flow of change occurring will help you find your place in the dismantling of systems that has coincided in our collective during these transits.  On a personal level, the Uranus and Pluto square has been eliminating all of our attachments that have been blocking our ultimate growth, and so the upcoming solar eclipse (as well as the lunar eclipse on April 4, 2015) is bringing us awareness of what past attachments we have still been clinging to in one way or another in our subconscious that now need to be released as the final lesson associated with these seven squares.

The seventh square between Uranus and Pluto has associations with the seventh (crown) chakra and the seventh planet, Saturn.  Indeed, Saturn in Sagittarius stationed retrograde on March 14 and so has our undivided attention as Pluto and Uranus square and the solar eclipse ushers in the Equinox.  A connection between Saturn stationing retrograde in Sagittarius and the seventh chakra is that an activity of the crown chakra is to derive meaning through our underlying belief system.  Saturn stationing and then continuing retrograde in Sagittarius will draw us into analyzing our belief systems, calling everything into question as part of a re-structuring of our consciousness.  With a solar eclipse occurring at the same time in the final degree of Pisces, we will want to be open to listening to messages expressing eternal meaning, and guides that connect us with the archetypal field that constantly seeds, activates, and regenerates new patterns.  As the solar eclipse may make us aware of our karmic past, we thereby gain an opportunity to break away from our past restrictive patterns and liberate ourselves from old unconscious complexes that no longer serve our direction.

white-pegasus

White Pegasus (1908) by Odilon Redon

Marc Edmund Jones wrote that the sabian symbol for 30 degrees of Pisces where the solar eclipse occurs is The Great Stone Face, and highlighted the importance of using discernment to embody self-integrity when manifesting ideals and aligning with eternal reality, as the “individual selects the image within himself to which he would shape himself outwardly, and this he comes to resemble” (p. 329).  Dane Rudhyar updated and elucidated this Pisces 30 symbol by calling it A majestic rock  formation resembling a face is idealized by a boy who takes it as his ideal of greatness, and as he grows up, begins to look like it.  Rudhyar said this symbol brings “realization of the power of archetypes as factors conditioning life processes,” and that this self-transformational “power can be developed through visualization, when the emotions and the will are poured into the visualized mental image” (p. 288).  Rudhyar emphasized that this zodiac degree represents the latent power of the seed, and so through focusing on “clearly visualized ideals” we gain the capacity to shape and mold our future growth and life (p. 288).

Marc Edmund Jones also warned that the negative side to the sabian symbol for 30 degrees of Pisces is “wholly inarticulate and ineffectual self-realization” (p. 329).  To me, this caution links to the importance of becoming aware of as much of our shadow and hidden unconscious forces as possible during this time of the final square between Uranus and Pluto and the solar eclipse at the Equinox.  If we are going to visualize an ideal for ourselves we wish to become more alike, to be most effective we will need to embrace our shadow and rejected parts of ourselves in our process.  When we repress our shadow, it ultimately gains enough strength to completely overwhelm us.  Yet through the willingness to acknowledge and accept our shadow, we can mitigate it’s capacity to overshadow our conscious efforts toward our ideal.  For example, if the Pisces solar eclipse is occurring in the 10th house of our birth chart and we realize that we have been projecting criticism at others for egotistically self-promoting themselves, we can see how there is in actuality an ambition shadow impacting us.  As a way to work with this shadow of ambition, we could open ourselves to our need to more assertively self-promote ourselves within our ideal career path.  This will not only make ourselves more successful, but in the end will also enable us to work more harmoniously with other peers in our career path.

The fixed star Scheat is located around 29°22′ Pisces and is closely aligned with the solar eclipse on March 20.  Scheat is a deep yellow star in the leg of the Pegasus constellation, and like the winged horse was associated by ancient astrologers like Ptolemy with Mars and Mercury, and with swiftness by Manilius.  In the more modern tradition of fixed star interpretation by the likes of Vivian Robson and Reinhold Ebertin that can often veer toward extremely negative labeling of star signification, Scheat was given a malefic label of being associated with catastrophes and misfortune.  Yet Reinhold Ebertin in his Fixed Stars and their Interpretation also gave a positive potential to Scheat signifying “mental creativity,” with the cautionary note that this positive effect is only for “some people,” meaning those who “are ready to receive such an inflow,” giving examples of Goethe having Jupiter conjunct Scheat and Rudolf Steiner and Victor Hugo having Mercury conjunct Scheat (p. 82).

pegasus-and-the-hydra

Pegasus and the Hydra (1907) by Odilon Redon

This double edged combination of ambitious striving for insightful breakthroughs, with potential for a fall from the lofty heights momentarily reached, also connects to meaning associated with both the Pegasus of the star constellation and the Pegasus of myth, and could serve as a symbolic guide to the solar eclipse at the final degree of Pisces.  There is an indivisible duality of light and shadow with Pegasus:  on the one hand Pegasus is felt as a fount of inspiration and the seat of heroes, while on the other hand Pegasus was born from violence and betrayal and tied not only to the slaying of monsters but the monstrous egotistical hubris that could overcome those who rode Pegasus.  Pegasus sprung from the blood spilled by Perseus severing the head of Medusa, and Pegasus further has the complicated lineage of being born from Poseidon and Medusa, when in some versions Medusa was the victim of being raped by Poseidon in a temple of Athena, and in others Athena turned Medusa into a hideous monster after she fell for the seductive advances of Poseidon.  In addition, figures of myth such as Bellerophon who experienced the adoration of being acclaimed as a great heroic slayer of monsters by riding Pegasus to victory in battle later became so overcome by hubris that they were forced into catastrophic falls of misfortune.  In the case of Bellerophon, after believing his glory meant he deserved to be one of the Gods and fly to Mount Olympus, he was struck back down to Earth violently by Zeus.  There is a binding in which there is no good without evil, no heroes without monsters, and as Carl Jung and others have written, within our same Source of Creation from which emanates the “Good,” so also emanates the “Evil.”

In part, this type of Pegasus shadow complex connects with the huge buildup of planets that have been aspecting the South Node of the Moon in Aries leading up to the final square between Pluto and Uranus and the Pisces Solar Eclipse.  We have had Venus conjunct the South Node then Uranus and then Eris in Aries, and more recently we have had Mars conjunct the South Node, Uranus, and now Eris at the time of the solar eclipse.  When we also integrate the other planetary nodes besides the Moon’s, we can see that the South Nodes of Jupiter and Pluto are now conjunct the transiting Ceres in Capricorn, all in square to the transiting conjunction of Mars and Eris in Aries.  The solar eclipse at thirty degrees of Pisces is also in square to both the North Node of Jupiter (at 30° of Gemini) and the South Node of Mars (at 30° of Sagittarius).  This extremely complicated mix of transits and aspects to planetary nodes can be synthesized through the concept that our current moment of world civilization sits within a past of extraordinary oppression, violence, and strife that impacts all of us on a traumatic level in our unconscious, in more of a consciously traumatic manner for those who have experienced horrific terrors firsthand.  We cannot imagine these difficult, sometimes hidden shadows of our psyche away by thinking we can focus only on the “good” such as “white light” that will make the dark go away.  Instead the path forward for our growth is acknowledging and working with these darker elements of our Self in a manner that helps us work toward our conscious goals instead of undermining, blocking, or limiting our endeavors.

the-young-poet

The Young Poet by Gustave Moreau

Yet poetic inspiration and creative inventiveness is also available in even the most difficult of times, and so through discernment in our daily choices we can strive towards our ideals without the pitfalls of hubris.  In classical astrology, the entire system is set up in part through the opposition of the Mutable sign domicile rulers being Mercury and Jupiter, as Jupiter rules Pisces and Sagittarius, and Mercury rules their opposite signs of Gemini and Sagittarius.  Fusing and synthesizing the archetypal polarity of Pisces and Virgo, for example, through the contrast between Mercury and Jupiter can be illuminating.  Sagittarius can have a shadow of a know-it-all, while Pisces can have a shadow of a godhead-  in both cases these classical signs of Jupiter can be overtaken by the archetypes when working with them with the negative consequence of becoming self-absorbed or overly egotistical in the process.  There is something in the ability of the Mercury-ruled signs of Gemini and Virgo to act as an evolutionary polarity to Sagittarius and Pisces and help ground us in the soulfulness of our immediate environment and relationships in the moment.

In modern astrology, Neptune is viewed as a ruler of Pisces, and there is amazing synchronicity that on March 18 during the Dark Moon in Pisces prior to the Solar Eclipse, Mercury will be exactly conjunct Neptune at eight degrees of Pisces.  Mercury can be our guide of soul once again during this week by activating it’s Hermetic gift of integrating the dualities of upper world and under world, light and dark, masculine and feminine, and what other dualities you can imagine.  Mercury can help us logically and linearly organize mental concepts to help us navigate our world while at the same time functioning as a more magical, nonlinear guide to the deepest core of our soul.  Mercury conjunct Neptune in Pisces is the Poet who follows the flight of the winged horse Pegasus, a companion of the Muses and a source of inspiration in times of immense challenge.  When we open to the modern signification of Neptune connecting us to our collective unconscious, we realize that through Mercury at the clearing time of the Dark Moon before the Solar Eclipse, there is profound insight into how we have been impacted by the collective unconscious to unveil.

In the film Bright Star by Jane Campion about the life of the poet John Keats and his love for Fanny Brawne who became a Muse for his writing, there is a scene in which John Keats is speaking to Fanny about his philosophy of poetry in a way that crystallizes how the Mercury conjunction with Neptune in Pisces can help us now:

A poem needs understanding through the senses. The point of diving into a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore but to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out, it is a experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept the mystery.

— from the film Bright Star (2009)

In addition to Mercury becoming conjunct Neptune on March 18, another helpful guide to prepare us for the Pisces solar eclipse and new Equinox is the ingress of Venus into Taurus on March 17.  Venus is at home in Taurus, and at this time of year the North Node of Venus is also at the beginning of Taurus.  As a result Venus will be activating her own evolutionary direction and in Taurus this means going within, following the wisdom in our bodily senses and centering within to discover how our inner values need a re-formulation to align to a greater extent with the inner and outer changes occurring in our life.

cups10

10 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

The Pisces III decan where the solar eclipse occurs is ruled by Mars and associated with the 10 of Cups in tarot.  In the image above illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith, we find a union of lovers enjoying the wealth of a mutually created home and family that emotionally fulfills them.  In 36 Faces, Austin Coppock analyzed this final decan of the zodiac as being about “the attainment of the heart’s desire, the reunion with the beloved,” and “the quest for true and perfect love” (p. 259).  Yet Coppock revealed the passionate depth and duality of this Mars-ruled decan by also noting it signifies a “mad quest for an ideal” that has an “unwillingness to accept anything but what is utterly right” and “a place of martyrdom, of being willing to sacrifice everything” (p. 258).  The lesson for those traversing the third decan of Pisces is thus to realize their propensity for dramatic sacrifice for their ideal love, and to learn to discern their true love from illusion:

This face thus contains heights of agony and ecstasy.  The pain of betrayal results from investing in the wrong ideal, mistaking the face of the beloved. The eagerness to enact the romantic quest can lead one to overlook whether the situation in fact warrants it. If those who roam this decan are to be spared repeated disappointments, they must learn to discriminate.  Yet even the most discriminating will see some dreams shatter, some sacrifices rendered vain . . . The third face of Pisces, the last of the decans, looks always to the end, the ultimate meaning of the entire cycle.  Moros [daimon of doom] whispers that it is pointless, and that the wheel of incarnation is merely a cruel carnival ride.  In argument, Elpis [daimon of hope] points to beauty, love and the real possibility of happy endings.  (p. 259-260)

At the end of Pisces, experiencing a solar eclipse at the final degree of the zodiac half a day before the initiation of the Equinox, we can simultaneously experience the hope of our most cherished ideal manifesting and the fear that we are doomed to be disappointed or disillusioned in the end.  The vital point to realize is that our hope is not misplaced when we have connected with ourselves on a soul level and have done the inner work necessary to realize our true desires.  Yes, Pisces can symbolize falling victim to an illusion, yet Pisces also symbolizes the reality that we can experience the complete bliss of our own personal happy ending.  This week it is as important as ever to follow the popularized mantra of Joseph Campbell to follow your bliss.

nigredo

Nigredo (1984) by Anselm Kiefer

From now on we will finally be settling into the First Quarter square phase between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn, with no more dipping back into their waxing Crescent phase square.  The first quarter square phase in the tradition of Dane Rudhyar’s lunation cycle is a crisis of action in which we must establish a form to house the vision that came in at the new phase conjunction, in this case the Uranus and Pluto conjunction in Virgo that occurred in 1965 and 1966.   For example, in collective events there is an obvious connection in the United States between the Civil Rights movement that struggled to assert and initiate progress at the conjunction of Uranus and Pluto in Virgo, with the current struggle to rectify inequities in the criminal justice system in the United States based upon perceived differences in race or ethnicity.  This is a struggle to address aspects of the vision that came in at the conjunction that have not securely taken form, and we can also sense the unconscious shadow of past struggles and violence coloring the atmosphere with passionate emotions and drama.  Although the new Equinox is symbolically a time of balance and new beginnings, collectively we have clearly been undergoing a dark night of the soul.

On a personal level, this time of darkness has resonance with the concept of Nigredo worked into the resurrected alchemy of Carl Jung and other modern thinkers.  The Nigredo, blackening phase is an extreme sense of despair that is necessary for our ultimate personal development and individuation, for it brings our painful shadow aspects into greater realization.  In the system of evolutionary astrology developed by Jeff Green, Uranus correlates with Jung’s concept of individuation and symbolizes our liberation from all external and internal conditioning that led to our past personal identity, so we can open to the evolutionary growth of our soul.  In this way the first quarter square from Pluto to Uranus has forced us to lose some of the attachments that previously brought us our most secure sense of identity, whether that be a particular relationship, job, or personal image.  The important thing is that we need take action now- we are only at the beginning of the first quarter phase between Pluto and Uranus, so instead of withdrawing or resisting out of fear over not being sure we know which direction to follow or identity to take on, take whatever steps are possible to establish a new form for yourself in whatever way that you can.  As Saturn moves retrograde over the next four months or so, eventually stationing direct in the beginning of August 2015 at the end of Scorpio, uses this Saturnine pull within to sharpen your sense of direction and aim while making concrete steps forward at the same time.  The new path will not be set in stone at this time, but it does require some tending and trail blazing.

PiscesSolarEclipseWRIGC1

AriesEquinoxWRIGC2

References

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

Ebertin, Reinhold. (1971). Fixed Stars and their Interpretation. Ebertin-Verlag.

Jones, Marc Edmund. (1969). The Sabian Symbols in Astrology. Sabian.

Judith, Anodea. (2004). Eastern Body Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self. Celestial Arts.

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

Tending the Fire of the Virgo Full Moon

Michael_Maier_Atalanta_Fugiens_Emblem_22

Emblem XXII by Michael Maier from Atalanta Fugiens

The Full Moon on March 5 glows radiant in the sign of the winged Virgin, and her presence can help us tend the fiery trine between Jupiter retrograde in Leo and the new conjunction between Venus and Uranus in Aries.  What’s more, the flames of the exact trine between Jupiter, Venus and Uranus are further ignited by Saturn in Sagittarius and an exact conjunction between Mars and the South Node of the Moon in Aries.  Virgo is an internally contemplative sign, and so this Full Moon appearing with Jupiter in the depths of its retrograde journey will reveal the self-absorbed delusions of grandeur we have been harboring that need mitigating.  As a result the inspiration of the grand fire trine of transits can spark realization of how to shed ego obsession and re-align to serve the larger whole of our reality, a helpful course of action considering the multitude of people angrily operating without self-awareness currently.  Yet we do not want to hold ourselves back with self-criticism to the extent that we rationalize away the possibility of pursuing our dearest desires, or avoid examining pressing issues out of fear of wounding ourselves.  Instead, like the woman in the alchemical image above minding the fire cooking her cauldrons, it will be best to take action aligned with our vision and withstand the heat to remain actively mindful of the ever-changing point we are enacting in our process.

Mercury in Aquarius rules the Full Moon and is our guide to how to infuse spirit into our work and inspired vision into daily grounding.  Crucially, Mercury at the time of the Full Moon is closely conjunct Vesta in Aquarius and so integrates the focused, sacred fire sustaining priestess into a greater clarification of Aquarian perception.  In the classic Hermes: Guide of Souls, Karl Kerenyi described the connection between Hermes (Mercury) and Hestia (Vesta):

Hermes’ connection to the center of the house, to the goddess of the hearth, is attested by a Homeric hymn to Hestia . . . He guides souls out of his realm- the world of paths and roads- back into the warm life of the household, which in Greek signifies the “family.” In his official capacity as mediator between the worlds of night and day, spirits and men, and (standing before the temple) between the worlds of gods and mankind, he is . . . closely related to door hinges and therefore to the entrance but also to a middle point, to the socket, about which revolves the most decisive issue, namely the alternation life-death-life . . . Through Hermes, every house became an opening and a point of departure to the paths that come from far off and lead away into the distance.  Standing at the doorway, he indicates that here is a source of life and death, a place where souls can break in, as through he were pointing out a spring of fresh water.  — Karl Kerenyi, Hermes: Guide of Souls, pages 102-103

Being centered at “home” will accentuate our ability to receive the light of this Virgo Full Moon, and the revelation could guide us into how best to house the vivifying spirit or soulful desires we feel deeply and wish to experience manifested.  We do not need to be living in our ideal home or even necessarily have a home, but rather we need to claim a personal space to feel secure within and create an outlet through which to express ourselves.  Since Mercury was recently exactly opposite Jupiter in Leo, our Hermetic guide brings an objective analysis of our developing truth to its conjunction with Vesta in Aquarius.  Vesta unveils the importance of focused, determined action and concentration we can wield with discipline to cut through any fogginess or cacophonous clutter in our environment.  With the illumination of this Virgo Full Moon, Mercury has finally exited its retrograde shadow zone and so the mental processing we have been engaged in since the recent Mercury retrograde cycle began on January 21, 2015 can now more fully elucidate the relevant issues.  Since Mercury and Vesta in Aquarius are also now sextile to the Uranus and Venus conjunction in Aries, the full reflected light of this coming full moon can bring breakthrough insight to help solve our recent dilemmas.

SF461121

Sardonyx cameo of a nymph riding a centaur (Hellenistic, 1st century B.C. – 1st century A.D.)

Our two great lights of this Full Moon are each conjunct symbols of wounding, rejection, and heroic salvation, with the Sun in Pisces conjunct Chiron, and the Moon in Virgo conjunct Black Moon Lilith.  Since Mars is also conjunct the South Node of the Moon in Aries, we could experience amplified feelings of anger and frustration if we become overwhelmed by shadow side connections to Virgo such as guilt, lack, emptiness, and perfectionism that leads to self-criticism for falling short on our ideals.  However, Mars affixed to the South Node in Aries can also coincide with an impulsive or instinctual release of an essential element of our nature that will be vital for us to reflect upon.  In this atmosphere the full light of the Virgo Moon will spiral deep within our core, and the reflected awareness will sharpen our discernment on which practical strategies will be best to focus on to modify our behavior and goals to flow more harmoniously with the chaotic changes erupting in our surroundings.  The key is to tune into the spirituality we can find in the ever changing moment of our mundane livelihood, and to listen to the messages found in the soul material of our environment.  A Virgo Full Moon is perfect for shining light on a prudent path to follow that will help us utilize our essential gifts if we keep our consciousness focused on self-acceptance rather than harsh self-judgment.

In this way it is important to realize this Virgo Full Moon is in a harmonious aspect to Pluto in Capricorn and is connected to the seventh and final first quarter square between Pluto and Uranus that will occur in a couple weeks in the waning phase of the current Moon cycle.   The Virgo Moon will be in trine to Pluto and the Pisces Sun will be in sextile to Pluto, meaning that instead of resisting or being in denial of the deep pull of our Plutonic soul desires, the Full Moon can help us realize the changes of necessity we will need to surrender to that we can no longer avoid experiencing.  With the Sun conjunct Chiron and the Moon conjunct Black Moon Lilith, we can then not only uncover and embody more of our deepest nature, we can also foster the courage to assert our beliefs and passions in the face of surrounding criticism, knowing that by pursuing our deeply felt passion we will in turn manifest a creation that will be meaningful for others of like-mind.

passing of venus

The Passing of Venus (1898) Sir Edward Burne-Jones

Indeed, the burning fires of passion that can coincide with Venus being conjunct Uranus in Aries and in trine to Jupiter retrograde in Leo is the great gift of this Full Moon to open.  In the sequence of zodiac signs that begin with Aries and end in Leo, there is a journey of our personal development from a sense of essential individuality in Aries to it’s ultimate creative actualization in Leo.  The brilliant light of Jupiter illuminating our night these days is like the traditional wishing star that pulls forward our unique gifts and talents (Venus conjunct Uranus in Aries) into such a strong desire to make them real that we discover a way for us to make our sense of destiny actually happen.

Virgo is the sign that follows Leo and tempers the Lion’s delusions of grandeur so that we can interact harmoniously in our intimate partnerships and effectively in our collaborative relationships.  Virgo also makes the tense and awkward 150° inconjunct aspect to Aries, and this Virgo Full Moon will be closely inconjunct the conjunction of Venus and Uranus in Aries.  In evolutionary astrology developed by Jeff Green, this waxing inconjunct aspect is associated with the Virgo archetype and correlates to a feeling of special destiny or vision that we feel deeply called to pursue, and yet simultaneously brings a sense that we are not ready to achieve our ambition.  A potential negative consequence is that instead of taking action toward our desire we instead make excuses through rationalization why we should not bother asserting ourselves toward our dream, all the while observing with tremendous envy other individuals successfully actualizing the same desired path, ambition, or vocation.  The conjunction between Venus and Uranus that is also in trine to Jupiter in Leo is so full of great promise that it would be a huge missed opportunity to follow this line of thought and talk ourselves out of making liberating choices forward.  A solution is to focus on understanding why we do not feel ready to successfully manifest our dream, and then actively engage in strategies and actions to improve and work on the areas of our Self we realize we need to enhance in order to be effective.

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The Mirror of Venus (1875) by Edward Burne-Jones

We are filled with a sense of magic and lightness when we stare into a luminous Full Moon, and this lustrous dazzlement is a moment to seize in remembrance of what we hold dear to our hearts, in contrast to the heartache caused by the disappointments felt in our day-to-day existence.  For those tuned into the news cycle of current events, there is no end to the horror show of savage murders, betrayals, and mass killings berating our perception.  In our personal lives, the huge influx of Mars, Venus, Uranus, and the South Node of the Moon combined in Aries has likely made us need to confront anger from others or feelings of anger wanting to erupt from within ourselves.  The South Node of the Moon is often connected to either our past lives or habitual complexes in astrology, but remembering that all of the planets have nodes and not just the Moon, we can also think of it as signifying the entire past arc of the Moon archetype in our lives.  Mars and Venus having initiated a new cycle of relationship and desire for us around the time of the past New Moon, at this Full Moon we can feel a burning sense of all our past desires we have not yet experienced, or confront issues from our past that did not turn out the way we had originally hoped.

Instead of feeling guilty or mired in lack, wanting to distract ourselves with meaningless busyness, gaze into the mirror reflection of this Full Moon with the awareness of how beautiful it is also to be simply alive and incarnate in your body.  In the space between our current self and societal position and the sense of where our higher nature wants us to be, open your mind with discrimination toward practical, simple steps you can begin to take today to bridge the distance.  There is a Mercurial discernment of Venusian refinement into our essential nature available now that will lead to discovery of key ingredients in our process of creating our desired work of beauty.

pixie imagination

by Pamela Colman Smith

Opening our mind to new visions found along our daily path can bring true inspiration now.  Instead of searching far and wide for an imagined ideal Muse, sometimes we need to remember that we already have Muses surrounding us and we simply need to invite them to lay down with us in our field of awareness.  When the Moon is full in Virgo in opposition to the Sun in Pisces, we receive signs of how we can align our personal will with a higher will, how we can align our thoughts and behavior with the soul of our surroundings.  This current Virgo Full Moon is in trine to Pluto in Capricorn and so brings in productive, fertile earth energy into an otherwise stormy mix of planets in fire, air, and water signs.  A personal sojourn into the green world, removed from as much of the modern excess of electronics as possible, will be a fantastic activity for this Full Moon time if you can manage it.  Connecting with trees and birdsong on wild paths of untended decomposition and burgeoning growth is a perfect setting to contemplate the concerns coinciding with a full lunation in the mutable Earth sign of Virgo.

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9 of Pentacles by Pamela Colman Smith

This Virgo Full Moon by zodiac degree falls within the Virgo II decan which is ruled by Venus.  The associated tarot card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith displays a golden aura surrounding a Venusian figure lifting her trained falcon within a grapevine estate.  This tarot card is traditionally associated with gains in wealth, and Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces astutely analyzed how the hooded falcon (a symbol of spirit enclosed in matter) is a protector of the grapevine resources linked to her wealth since it is a bird of prey that feeds on the creatures who would damage the growth of the grapes.  In this way, Coppock stated that when we delight in the end product of a glass of wine, “The beauty of the finished product of the process conceals the pain and toil utterly necessary for its creation . . . It is only through heat, force and sweat that the most delicate and elegant works are created” (p. 145).  Coppock found a theme of continual reshaping and refinement of matter in this decan that unveils the diverse extremes of experiences that unite within the final form of a created work that contains spirit:

Alchemically, this face provides understanding of the many beautiful and repulsive states the matter attains throughout the Magnum Opus.  On an emotional level, the visions that stain this face teach one not to be repulsed by process, nor to be glamoured by the apparent perfection of a finished thing.  On a practical level, this face brings one to inspect material processes and note the efficiency or lack thereof.  The residents of this decan oversee the ever-transforming world, guiding and shaping the Great Work on a microcosmic level.

–Austin Coppock, 36 Faces, p. 146

There is nothing easy about this time we inhabit, but the hard work we exhibit today, the monstrous emotions we feel temporarily overwhelmed by, the radiant glow of bliss we contact in a perfect moment, it all feeds the form we are breathing within in this moment.  Discard feelings of anxiety over not being in the exact job or relationship you want right now, or having not enacted your envisioned plan yet.  This is an important Full Moon to listen to, as it prepares us for the upcoming eclipse season that stretches from the March Equinox into the month of April, pointing us in the direction of necessary modifications needed in our current process.  In the end we will all benefit from the final product you create out of your present dilemmas and circumstances.

VirgoFullMoonWRIGC1

References

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

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

Bound in Pisces: Psyche and Eros, Venus and Mars

rodin - eros and psyche

Cupid and Psyche (1893) by Auguste Rodin

  • In February 2015 the asteroids Psyche (#16) and Eros (#433) will be conjunct Venus and Mars.
  • From February 6 through February 20, 2015, Psyche and Eros will be conjunct Venus and Mars in Pisces.
  • February 17, 2015:  Psyche and Eros are conjunct at 23 degrees of Pisces.  Venus will be at 26° Pisces and Mars will be at 28° Pisces at this time.
  • February 18, 2015:  in between the beginning of new cycles between first Psyche and Eros and then Venus and Mars, there will be a New Moon at the final degree of Aquarius with Mercury in Aquarius sextile Saturn in Sagittarius.
  • On February 20, 2015 by the light of a sliver moon, Venus and Mars will be together in the Sunset sky near the crescent light
  • February 21, 2015:  Venus and Mars will be conjunct and beginning a new cycle at 1° Aries.  Psyche will be at 25° Pisces and Eros will be at 26° Pisces.

When in love, when under waves of desire whether erotic or otherwise, when struck with the pang of separation and unfulfilled desire, experience intensifies and we can feel the full fabric of soul within and surrounding us.  It can be easy to cynically dismiss the true love of fairy tales or scoff at the romantic excess of Valentine’s Day, yet there truly is nothing like Love and the full spectrum of associated emotions that can make us feel alive, one with the stars above and earth below, and Whole.  Currently there is an intense Dark Moon in Capricorn and Aquarius that leads to a New Moon at the final degree of Aquarius on February 18.  This lunar clearing to prepare for a new cycle mirrors current balsamic cycles between Venus and Mars and the asteroids Psyche and Eros that are occurring at the same time in the final decan of Pisces.  Psyche and Eros being conjunct simultaneously in the same section of the zodiac as Venus and Mars amplifies a time of re-seeding our relational desires and the vision we each hold for the relationships we wish to exist within.

In the story of Eros and Psyche we explore their sacred union and the path to becoming whole through love, as well as the journey of Psyche from mortality to divinity.  Just as we associate Eros with desire and Psyche with soul in modern language, the tale of Psyche’s merging with Eros reveals how pursuit of our desires can ultimately bring us to a union with our soul.  According to Demetra George, a pioneer in the use of asteroids in astrology, Psyche is a higher octave of Venus and Eros is a higher octave of Mars.  As a result it is incredible synchronicity that as Venus and Mars are now closing their cycle that began in April of 2013, Psyche and Eros are also closing and beginning a new cycle in the same sign of Pisces.  The connection with Pisces is further augmented by the mythic connection between Venus and Cupid, also known as Eros, and the constellation of Pisces.  The Greeks and Romans saw the two fish of Pisces as representing the escape of Venus and her son Cupid from the monster Typhon by transforming themselves into fish that could swim safely away.  Both Greek and Roman tradition eventually saw Venus/Aphrodite as the mother of Eros/Cupid by way of her lover Mars.  Yet in older Greek tradition, Eros was seen as one of the primordial manifestations of form in the story of Creation who was beyond gender divisions.  In this way Eros has always been seen as an actively direct, progenitive force that is at the root of creation, and eventually as a result was connected with the masculine energy that seeds new birth in the receiving feminine.

eros and psyche statue

Cupid and Psyche (1794) by Antonio Canova

Within the ascending Psyche, rooted in human matter, merging with the descending Eros, connected to heavenly light, we find a true soul communion.  According to Demetra George, the Psyche asteroid illuminates our capacity to be sensitive on a psychic level to an Other and is about our desire for a soul mate, a union with a lover under the guidance of divine energy through the path of conscious relationship.  Yet Psyche is not only about a spiritual and sexual union with an Other, but also can be about a union within the Self.  Through Psyche, erotic energy is akin to the procreative life force when we are swept away in our body by bonding with a lover or other desire.  In this way Eros is the primal, procreative force of our passion that underlies our vision and desires, as well as indicates our sexual attractions and vitality.

I do not want to take up the space here going into the plot of Psyche and Eros in detail, but I did previously write about their story last year during the Venus retrograde in Capricorn.  If you want to know their story, I recommend reading the distilled summary and deep analysis of the Psyche and Eros myth found on the Symbol Reader blog, lovingly told in three parts:  beginning, middle, and end.  The essential information is that Psyche was born as a beautiful princess who received so much admiration that she aroused the jealousy of Aphrodite/Venus.  Determined to remove this threat to her status as the goddess of love and beauty, Venus ordered her son Eros/Cupid to prick Psyche with one of his arrows to make her fall in love with an abominable monster.  However, Eros instead fell in love with Psyche and intervened so that Psyche ultimately found her way into his secure, secretive, and sensually luxurious palace where he lustfully merged with her in dark abandon.  A plot detail that echoes the current balsamic conjunction of Venus and Mars in Pisces is that after Psyche’s father consulted an oracle and was told that she was destined to marry a monster who aroused fear in even Zeus himself, Psyche’s father coordinated a ritual sacrifice for her that was at the same time like a funerary rite and a giving away to marriage.  This intersection between death and burial, marriage and a new beginning, is resonant with the current close of the past two year cycle of Venus and Mars that will give way to a new cycle between these archetypes of love and desire.

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Psyche with the Lamp by Max Klinger

There are those who analyze a lack of perspicacity in Psyche through intellectual interpretation of the myth, yet who has not been under the throes of cloistered, secretive passions felt in the dark of night where clarity is not even a potential. Psyche in the end brings the full light of conscious awareness to her union with Eros after her sisters warn her that she could be sleeping with a serpentine monster. Once Psyche brings fire to light her vision of Eros, falling even further in love with him in the process, her story suddenly shifts in a radical direction not unlike a Uranus transit or the impact of the current square between Pluto and Uranus we are experiencing in astrology. This shift begins by the wound caused by burning lamp oil on Eros that provokes him to flee from his lover, in part because of his secret being unveiled.

As we have been experiencing the close of the cycle between Venus and Mars in Pisces, similar to Psyche in the palace of Eros we may have felt burning desire more so than clarified realization.  The balsamic phase is a time of re-visioning in which premonitions of our coming vision enter our field of awareness without full consciousness of how or when it will manifest.  Simultaneously the balsamic phase is a period of releasing past patterns and relationships, a letting go to make space for the new. Our attractions can be on a more primal and unconscious level, and as we had a Mercury retrograde ending less than a week ago, numerous images of past relationships we now wish to release could have been circulating within the same space as images of the new relationships we now want from our current presence.  The upcoming New Moon on February 18 features a Mercury moving direct that is in sextile to a Saturn that is still direct, and so we will have greater capacity to clarify with the light of consciousness the passions we have felt in the dark.

In the story of Psyche and Eros, once Psyche has lit her perception of the truth that she has fallen in love with the divine Eros, his ensuing separation from her pulls her into a Heroine’s Journey of numerous trials and tribulations that take her to the extremity of the Underworld and back.  Through her yearning for love’s embrace and the pain of separation in space from it, Psyche opens her psychic field to the soul of the world around her and the potential to unite her personality with her own soul.

Max-Klinger-Pan-comforting-Psyche

Pan comforting Psyche by Max Klinger

In the wake of her separation from Eros, Psyche leapt with desperation into a river, ready to surrender her suffering and release herself from control of her life.  Yet in a foreshadowing of natural intervention, the flowing water protects her from ending her life and delivers her to the shore and the goat hooves of the wild nature god Pan. Pan lends Psyche his full sympathy, inspiring her to follow her love toward Eros instead of giving up her life in defeat.  So begins the solitary quest of Psyche that has served as an allegory for the necessity of finding and uniting with our Self before we are able to fully enjoy and sustain a soulful union with our beloved.  Pan is a different mythic figure than Chiron, yet shares the similarity of integrating human and animal parts in his unified form.  As a result I feel this crossroad of the story resonates with the astrology we began February 2015 with, when there was a conjunction between Chiron in Pisces with Psyche, Eros, and Mars, and by the end of the first week of February, Venus had also entered into a conjunction with Chiron.

After realizing that Psyche is determined to reunite with Eros, Aphrodite begins giving her a series of seemingly impossible tasks to complete.  However, in each one Psyche succeeds through her openness to nature and her ability to communicate and listen to the soul of her environment.  Ants, reeds, an eagle, and a man-made tower all communicate with Psyche and come to her aid at pivotal points in her tests.  Psyche’s psychic empathy is her heroic strength, and similarly we can utilize the recent transits of Venus and Mars with Chiron in Pisces to draw from our own unique gifts in pursuit of our desire, while listening intently to messages from our surrounding environment to help us find the the unique solution to each dilemma we face.  The recent transits to Chiron may have intensified our experience, yet this heightened magnification has demanded an enhancement in our ability to respond with the focus necessary to ultimately manifest our desired outcome.

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Psyche on the Cliff by Max Klinger

Although Psyche manages to succeed in her initial tests, Psyche feels the full force of a dark night of her soul while literally peering over a perilous cliff into the deathly water of the River Styx. The great strength of Psyche is that she bravely feels all of her emotions and does not shirk from her suffering or attempt to deny it, distract herself from it, or numb it.  She feels all of the torment of being separated from her Eros, and the magnetism of her emotive vibration time after time inspires the sympathy of elements in her environment that come to her aid and ensure her survival and success.

Indeed, each hardship and challenge faced by Psyche ennobles her character to such an extent that she is able to follow the pathless path into the Underworld in order to appease Aphrodite’s demand of a sampling of Persephone’s beauty ointment.  Psyche wins the favor of the Queen of the spirit world, as Persephone presents Psyche with a share of her restorative beauty balm.  Miraculously, Psyche manages to re-ascend to the upper world and it is at this point that she decides she will no longer surrender to the directive demands of Aphrodite.  Although Psyche had been warned that applying Persephone’s beauty ointment to herself will result in death, Psyche chooses to apply the magical medicine anyway.  Whether this was an act attempting to make herself more attractive to Eros, or a consequence of an emboldened sense of Self, the beauty ointment of Persephone leads to the resurrection of her union with Eros and transformation into divine presence.  This is because after the application of the ointment causes Psyche to fall into a death-like sleep, Eros becomes incapable of restraining himself any longer and soars to embrace Psyche in his arms, pressing his lips against her lips and in the mingling of his breath within her awakens her with his true love’s kiss.  Their marriage and ascension of Psyche from mortal to goddess follows,  and from their union a beautiful daughter is born from the womb of Psyche, in Greek known as Hedone and in Roman known as Voluptas, both words meaning “Pleasure.”

amor finds psyche by Max Klinger

Eros finds Psyche by Max Klinger

The sign of Pisces is an appropriate place to hold all of the archetypal drama of Psyche and Eros, Venus and Mars.  In Pisces we find a yearning for eternal, ultimate meaning and a surrendering to the ineffable bliss of love.  The deep waters of Pisces reflect images imbibed with symbolism connected to the world of myth and the source of the collective unconscious.  Notice and be present for what has been arising within your deepest recesses, and what aspects of your past patterns and relationships no longer link with your personal truth.  It is helpful to realize the current cycle of Venus and Mars closing now began on April 6, 2013 at twenty degrees of Aries, and so relationship issues since that time are especially poignant to reflect upon and release what feels pertinent to clear.  We are at a time to both let go of the past and to set intentions and invitations in place to welcome our new presence in relationship.  If it feels deeply connected to us on a soul level, it is time to focus on it moving forward with full presence.  If it seems more like a pattern we have picked up through collective conditioning in one way or another, whether it be from media exposure, family influence, or consensus societal beliefs, if it is not rooted to our deep nature then it is time to release it.  There is more than enough pain and suffering going around and around our planet these days for all of us:  like a determined Psyche, stay centered on the desires that will bring you joy, fulfillment, and affirmation.

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

— W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939

Amor and Psyche by Max Klinger

Psyche and Eros by Max Klinger

References

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

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

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

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

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

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

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

MercuryRetroStationWRIGC7

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

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

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

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

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Black in Deep Red (1957) by Mark Rothko

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

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

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

Mercury-SunconjunctionWRIGC8

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

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

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

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Moon Woman (1942) by Jackson Pollock

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

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

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

MercuryDirectStationWRIGC9

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

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

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

References

Demetra George:  Hermes Guardian of Thresholds

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.

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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

Super Pisces Full Moon

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Morris Graves, The Moon and the Sea (1941)

The Full Moon on September 8 is another Super Moon, meaning that the Moon will be as close to Earth as it gets in orbit, appearing larger in our sky, having a more extreme impact on the tides of our water, and looming larger in our consciousness as well (the term Super Moon was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle and can refer to either a New Moon or Full Moon).  This Pisces Full Moon is also the traditional Harvest Moon in the northern hemisphere, meaning it is the Full Moon closest to the Autumn Equinox.  This is the fifth and final Super Moon of 2014, and the third “Super” Full Moon in a row (July 12 and August 10, 2014 were also Full Super Moons): a time to reap insights from this past year of experiences before we head into the eclipse season of October 2014.

This Full Moon will be stirring up the lunar waters of our emotions and perceptions in the second decan of Pisces (there are three decans, ten degrees each, in the thirty degrees of each sign in the zodiac).  In the recently published 36 Faces, Austin Coppock discerned a core concept of Pisces II: integrating into our material realm the spiritual insights and ideals found in the seeker’s plunge into the deep:

Here the central concept is how to reconcile one’s understandings of the true nature of reality with the world-as-it-is. It is thus a face of finding harmony with apparent reality of things while living and embodying one’s ideals . . . This is the phase in which we are challenged to reconcile beliefs, ideals and the way things are. The result of this successful reconciliation is “Happiness,” which the associated Nine of Cups takes as its name in The Book of Thoth. The result of an inability to reconcile one with the other, will, however, yield the inverse- misery, the state of one for whom there is no harmony between their inner and outer (p. 251-52).

During 2014 we have had many transits correlating to a greater capacity to go within and explore the subterranean world of our unconscious, our deep-set patterns, and all the gems and ghosts within our psyche.  If we have done the hard work of connecting to our true ideals we may feel shocked when re-entering the world at large and not sensing an outlet or receiver for the cherished beliefs we unearthed, the vision resonate with our more fully realized self.  A Super Moon illuminating the polarity of the Pisces and Virgo axis in the Pisces II decan is like wading out of the ocean under a starry sky ablaze with the glow of a luminous white Moon, feeling aglow with an inexpressible sense of pure being as we take our first steps onto moist sand that turns drier with each step back toward land and away from water.

As the insights into the divine or the eternal we received in our oceanic sojourn are essentially inexpressible or impossible to be captured in a true form, the importance at this time is what we do exactly with the presence we have felt within and how we integrate what we have sensed of the profound into our mundane daily reality.  If we deny ourselves our blissful yearning, if we choose to focus on the realistic, secure, and safe direction instead of risking faith in the unknown beckoning us from our depths, we run the risk of living an unfulfilled life that no level of material security may remedy.  And yet this is the crux of this potent lunation, as the Virgo to the Pisces going on wants us to integrate what we have managed to perceive beyond the boundaries of our consensus societal reality into this same society whose folly we can see through.

Jupiter is a key at this time to help us intuit how to function in our world, as Jupiter is a ruler of the second decan of Pisces in addition to ruling the sign of Pisces traditionally.  Jupiter is in Leo at the time of the Harvest Full Moon, and this fiery Jupiter that wants us to creatively actualize our destiny is holding intense aspects to two mythic figures rooted in harvest equinox time:  Pluto and Ceres.  As a result, we likely have attachments that we will have to release, crippling inner fears that must be made aware to be overcome.  There could be a sacrificial element in all of this in which we must willingly or unwillingly release what is no longer useful to the future that is calling us forward, to which we feel we must surrender.

Neptune and Amphitrite

Amphitrite and Neptune, 16th Century French, Lead

Many modern astrologers believe that Neptune in Pisces, and not Jupiter in Leo, is ruling this Full Moon. No matter what your astrological belief, however, Neptune in Pisces looms large at this time, as Venus in Virgo is opposite it.  In fact, Neptune in Pisces has been integral to the entire waxing Moon we have been experiencing, as the last New Moon in Virgo was opposite Neptune.  While Neptune enjoys itself in Pisces, Venus has not been known to have such a rollicking time in Virgo and in fact has been given the label of being in its “fall” in Virgo.  This is because Virgo is seen as a mental sign of critical discrimination that may not be open to all of the pleasure that Venus has to offer.  But while Virgo may be seen by some as too judgmental and too much of a perfectionist for the good of Venus, we also find here in the fertile Virgin the ultimate spiritual receptacle capable of receiving the full expanse of the illumination available at this time.

Venus in Virgo opposite Neptune in Pisces at a time of the Sun in Virgo being opposite a Pisces Moon of great gravity brings with it the issue of reality versus illusion, and spiritual discernment versus spiritual delusion.   Everything depends upon the quality of one’s consciousness at this time and one’s capacities of perception:  some could experience an epiphany whereas others could find themselves lost in a fog of illusion.   Going within, getting away from the associations overwhelming your everyday reality, re-connecting with your source inside of yourself, all of these are ways to help you figure out what is really brewing in between your gut, heart, and mind.  Venus in Virgo can help us with discernment, but we also do not want to discriminate to such a degree that we cut ourselves off from desires connected to us getting more in touch with our authentic self because of a judgmental sense that these desires are not realistic, practical, or capable of manifesting for us in our reality at this time.  This is tricky terrain with no easy answers, so do not take the easy way out.  Connecting with your authentic nature, actualizing more of your core calling, is not only good for you, it is good for all of us.

Along these lines this intensity between Virgo and Pisces is amplified to the highest extremes by Chiron in Pisces being conjunct the Full Moon and opposite the Virgo Sun. In combination with Venus in Virgo opposing Neptune in Pisces, there is an electrical charge to the atmosphere at this time instigating flashes of insight into the entire collective story swirling around all of us, including not only the full arch of this epic storyline across time but also how exactly we are fitting into it in this moment of now.  Yes, Chiron is associated with wounds and we may have a gaping wound of our psyche exposed at this time. Yes, Chiron is associated with unflinching heroism, and we may seize the opportunity to take a courageous stand against the sickening oppression saturating our collective.  Yes, Chiron is associated with healing, and we may suddenly notice something in our environment at this time that is the exact remedy capable of nurturing our needs or injuries.  It may be an overplayed storyline that we are all connected but it is nonetheless true, and we can now more easily feel the inter-connectivity of all and the resulting significance of every daily choice we make contributing at least a small ripple to the wider tides.

amaranth by leo kenney

Amaranth by Leo Kenny

If one opens perception to the asteroid goddesses, there is a Grand Water Trine occurring at this Full Moon between Juno in Cancer, Saturn conjunct Vesta in Scorpio, and the Full Moon conjunct Chiron in Pisces.  This triangular circuit is a mainline into the undercurrents and emotional atmosphere of our surroundings and beyond into the greater collective consciousness of this time.  As there has been a lot of darkness and despair in current events, it would be wise to focus on self-care to purify and nourish our sense of self so that negativity around us does not lead us to turn it on ourselves.  It will please Juno to withdraw for a time in order to develop a greater capacity to return to relationships with a renewed ability to nurture, and Vesta collaborating with Saturn in Scorpio is not going to want us to be in denial of where our focus truly needs to be directed at this time.  All together these aspects align well with the earlier stated intent of this Full Moon in Pisces being about integrating our ideals in some way into our environment.  If we cut ourselves off from our ideal, from that cherished person, desire, or belief that makes us feel alive, these same aspects could make us spin out in despair. We need to use the supreme sustaining power of Vesta and Saturn in Scorpio to find a way to bring our dreams into our reality in whatever way we can right now.

A fortuitous ally in this pursuit will be Pallas Athena, who is joining her supreme creative intelligence with Mercury in the sign of Libra.  This Pallas Athena-Mercury conjunction has a lot of aspects at this Full Moon:  opposite Uranus in Aries, square Pluto in Capricorn, sextile Jupiter in Leo, opposite the South Node of the Moon in Aries, and conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Libra.  Mercury and Venus are having somewhat of an affair at this time, as they are in the mutual receptivity of Venus being in the sign ruled by Mercury and Mercury being in the sign ruled by Venus.  Add in the crafty Pallas Athena to the equation and we have a mix that can help us strategize a creative use of our spiritual perceptions, as both Mercury and Pallas Athena can perceive in between worlds.  Since the material world may seem to be operating on a more distasteful wavelength than the vibe of our desired vision, we may need to be assertively evoke Pallas Athena to preside over the manifestation of our ideal:

Female and male, the arts of war are thine,
Fanatic, much-formed dragoness, divine:
Over the Phlegrean giants, roused to ire,
Thy coursers driving, with destruction dire.
Sprung from the head of Jove, of splendid mien,
Purger of evils, all-victorious queen.
Hear me, O Goddess, when to thee I pray,
With supplicating voice both night and day,
And in my latest hour, give peace and health,
Propitious times, and necessary wealth,
And, ever present, be thy votaries aid,
O, much implored, art’s parent, blue-eyed maid.

–from the Orphic Hymn to the Goddess Athena

http://www.goddess-athena.org/Encyclopedia/Rituals/Hymns/Orphic.htm

We will need Pallas Athena to lend all of her dynamic power to a Mercury in Libra that can move between worlds to unite us with our beloved in the form of a Venus in Virgo receiving emanations from Neptune, because we must face the crisis and catharsis associated with Pluto in Capricorn.  For many of us this is the power structure surrounding us and the constraints and impositions of hierarchical societal systems that do not seem to be open to us pursuing our yearnings and instead seem to want to enslave us through needs to pay off debts, rents, bills, and so on.  Coming in for additional support, however, are a couple of heavyweights who know how to handle Pluto:  Jupiter in Leo and Uranus in Aries.  At the time of the Full Moon, Jupiter and Uranus are beginning to enter a trine of Fire, and though Mercury, Pallas Athena, and Uranus are all square to Pluto, the Sun and Full Moon hold harmonious aspects to the Lord of the Underworld.  All together these are yet another sign that we can have the ability at this time to ignite ourselves from within and configure a way to integrate more of our ideals into our reality.

morris graves offering

Offering by Morris Graves, 1957

All of the Scorpio energy in recent times seems to be heavy on the hearts of many: Ceres, Vesta, Saturn, and Mars all in Scorpio, with Ceres tightly in a square to Jupiter in Leo at the moment.  Jupiter is also inconjunct Pluto in Capricorn, and so our desire to integrate our ideals or insights into our society at this time will be difficult, it will mean we have to release attachments and suffer losses, but it is entirely possible.  There has been a piercing quality to this energy making it difficult if not impossible to be in denial of our core feelings or hide from the truth being revealed about the identity for ourselves we have been fixated upon.  However, Mars is now entering the end of the final decan of Scorpio, giving us a final period of time to root ourselves further into our deepest soul desires.  The more we can connect with our authentic desires with the aid of this luminous Full Moon, the better, for Mars next enters Sagittarius and by the end of September we will have a Grand Fire Trine of Mars in Sagittarius, Uranus in Aries, and Jupiter in Leo to propel us forward with passion toward our ideal.

So much Scorpio energy could have been coinciding with fears of betrayal or being betrayed, grasping and clinging to attachments we are afraid we could lose.  And yet, in Scorpio we also find our capacity to release and regenerate, to enter a death of our old ego identity in order to rebirth a more fully realized self. For now, remember that dark times are necessary in order to fully savor the light, we must become aware of our fears to overcome our inner inhibitions, and we have to realize what we do not want in order to know what we do want.  And if you allow me to insert yet another cliche here, we are at a reaping time: so don’t fear the reaper.

PiscesFullMoonWRIGC1

References

Coppock, Austin. (2014). 36 Faces. Three Hands Press.

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.

Lou Reed: the primordial poet

LouReed_WarholMotion

1942 – 2013

Lou was a prince and a fighter and I know his songs of the pain and beauty in the world will fill many people with the incredible joy he felt for life. Long live the beauty that comes down and through and onto all of us.

— Laurie Anderson, his loving wife and eternal friend

first published in the East Hampton Star

There is a line from the play An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde that captures some of the core Beauty in the being and work of Lou Reed: “it takes great courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.”  Like Oscar Wilde before him, Lou Reed was one of an ancient line of poets and bards who could be dismissed at times by society as libertines, yet whose masterful command of language combined with the courage to live a life on their own terms outside societal conventions, gave them the ability to uncover the greatest ills and hypocrisy of the very same society that judged them.  Lou Reed paid attention to people living in the streets of the city, people without a home, people addicted to drugs, people who felt like the gender given to them at birth was not their true gender- and loved them immensely, revealing the pain and tragedy of life at the same time he vibrated visceral vitality in being alive.

Lou Reed had the sort of grand ambitions that some label egotistical, such as openly admitting he wanted to be the greatest writer of all time, rivaling Shakespeare and Dostoevsky.  A Pisces Sun sign, Lou could express deep wisdom in his writing full of empathic compassion, yet at other times seem as condescending as a Pisces who becomes a Godhead once given the stage.  You will read some accounts of people calling Lou a monster, read or hear interviews of him not only derailing the entire interview process like his mentor Andy Warhol but also berating the journalist interviewing him.  For those that Lou let his guard down with, however, he was universally said to be known to have a heart of gold.  In the end, what most of us are left with is Lou’s work and the inspiration of his music, lyrics, and life.   I believe Lou created a stronger and more persistent archetypal role of the artist through his work in the 1960s than the other more celebrated icons of that era, in part because Lou never reached their level of gross excess and commercial success.

Lou has inspired countless numbers of youth in the generations that followed him to leave their status quo life behind and pursue the life of the artist, passionately working on art for art’s sake rather than material gain or fame.  In particular, through his connection with the poet Delmore Schwartz in college and then the rising art icon Andy Warhol once living in the streets of New York City, Lou colored his role with avant garde leanings in writing and sound that were dynamic, inventive, and cutting edge in comparison to the mainstream of his time.  Today, we are very familiar with associating New York City, for example the Lower Eastside, with avant garde artists living on their own and defining their own values, but Lou was pivotal in cementing this archetype in the popular imagination.

There is not a known birth time for Lou Reed, so the chart below is not accurate as far as houses go, or the placement of the Moon.  However, we can still see glimpses of astrological signs revealing the complex personality and complex artistic gifts expressed by this soul named Lou:

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For this example above, I made his birth time approaching Noon because it seems like his obsessive focus on creating Great Works would lend him to having a Sun above the horizon, and it also makes sense that his Mercury would be hovering around the Midheaven of his chart as well.  Giving him a Gemini Ascendant also does make some logical sense, and him also having a Virgo Moon in opposition to his Sun and conjunct his North Node of the Moon also seems intuitively accurate, but again it is necessary to state that the birth chart above is purely imaginable as far as the house placements go and his Ascendant and Midheaven.

What some may notice at first is the heavy conjunction of Saturn, Uranus, and Mars in Taurus, with the true node of Black Moon Lilith stuck in between them.  This goes strongly with Lou being a self-reliant artist, and since they are all ruled by an Aquarius Venus it also connects strongly with his inventive and avant garde approach to art and sound, and his ability to objectively analyze reality and then cut through to the core of an issue through his writing:  even more so with Pallas Athena in Aquarius conjunct his Venus.  Indeed, as previously mentioned, in the 1960s Lou lived the archetype of the youth who leaves his conventional past behind to pursue his own unique art, risking having a home or enough food to eat in the process, and having enough self-reliance skills to pull it off successfully.  

Lou’s Aquarius Venus is also in mutual reception with his heavy Taurus energy no matter if you believe his Taurus Saturn rules his Venus or if you believe his Taurus Uranus rules his Venus.  This is powerful energy showing an underlying willfulness to Lou’s personality that could stubbornly persist past obstacles.  The Saturn-Venus themes are obvious with the content and message of his work, his ability to face issues of melancholy, darkness, and confusion often avoided in popular music; the Uranus-Venus themes are obvious in his musical invention that shattered previous conceptions of rock and roll sound, his work inspiring later punk and other counter-culture identities, his avant garde artistic impulses, and the fact he could be a real “tech” kind of guy especially concerning the electronics of sound.  With the true node of Black Moon Lilith integrated into this energy, the defiant force of Lou’s personality could have come from a deep soul connection to the oppression of women, or other forms of persecution concerning sexuality and gender.  I know, “duh,” right- but it is very interesting that a figure like Lou who brought trans-gender issues and storylines, as well as issues centering around bi-sexuality and homo-sexuality, while also writing about various abuses against women, would have his true node of Black Moon Lilith exactly in between his Saturn and Uranus, with Mars also nearby.  All together, ruled by an Aquarius Venus conjunct Pallas Athena, these are all astrological significations of how he took direct action and became a trail blazer for gender and sexuality issues of oppression entering the forefront of song lyricism in subsequent generations of artists.

Next you may notice that his Pisces Sun is conjunct his South Node of the Moon in Pisces, and that his Gemini Jupiter is in square to his Sun and South Node of the Moon.  To me, Lou is a great example for remembering that Jupiter is also the traditional ruler of Pisces, for his Gemini Jupiter ruling his Pisces Sun makes so much sense, even more so due to the fact that his Jupiter is ruled by an Aquarius Mercury.  However, at the same time his Virgo Neptune also makes sense in other ways for ruling his Pisces Sun, especially since it also leads back to being ruled by his Aquarius Mercury.  Clearly, his Pisces energy has deep roots inside his soul and it has a strong bond with the Mercury archetype for him.

Although we do not know the houses in his chart, through Evolutionary Astrology we can get a little bit of a glimpse into his soul patterns because we can tell he has a skipped step:  he has a Gemini Jupiter in square to his South Node of the Moon in Pisces, and North Node of the Moon in Virgo.  With a Pluto in Leo, in Evolutionary Astrology this means in part this soul has felt a sense of a special destiny for lifetimes and has had a strong desire to fully actualize this destiny, conjunct Chiron in Leo there has been some wounding along these lines as well as probably some heroic prominence, and being opposite Venus in Aquarius the life of the artist is also no doubt very familiar to this soul.  When we then consider that his Pisces Sun, his soul purpose, is conjunct the South Node of the Moon in Pisces, we can at least deduce that Lou has had a sense of a special destiny connected to the Pisces archetype for lifetimes, but had not previously to this lifetime ever fully actualized the full potential of it, a part of the missing piece being in connection to Jupiter in Gemini.

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The chart above is Lou’s progressed chart for the day of his death:  Sunday morning, October 27, 2013.  Notice how this theme of his Gemini Jupiter being an important soul theme is highlighted: at his time of his death, his Mercury had progressed to be exactly conjunct his natal Jupiter, and his progressed true node of Black Moon Lilith was also conjunct his progressed Mercury and natal Jupiter.  In addition, his progressed Saturn had just entered Gemini, at zero degrees in the zone of the Pleiades.  Although his Uranus missed making it to Gemini by seven minutes progressed, being at 29 degrees of Taurus is also very significant for his Uranus in Taurus themes in the end perhaps becoming resolved to a large extent for Lou at his time of death.  His progressed Jupiter was still in Gemini, and had at his time of death moved away from the natal square to his Sun to become a square to his natal Neptune in Virgo.

Jupiter by transit in Lou’s lifetime is significant when we consider his development between his first and second Jupiter returns.  After teaching himself music and forming numerous bands, at an undocumented time (though Lou’s sister has reported it to be around the time he was 18 years old) Lou was given electroshock treatment by health professionals.  There are conflicting reports of why this happened, but just consider what sort of burning mark this made on Lou for his future identity and role in society- being a victim of a horrifically oppressive aspect of societal conditioning in that electroshock treatment at this time was actually considered to be a suitable medical remedy.  This episode in life very well could be a reflection of persecution and wounding that Lou also suffered in previous lifetimes from societal judgment and conditioning.

By the time of Lou’s second Jupiter return in 1965, he had already formed The Velvet Underground and was on his way to becoming a vital element in Andy Warhol’s underground art scene in New York City.  Previous to this perhaps he had been living up to some of his parental and conventional expectations, as he had attended Syracuse University and was even a member of a fraternity.  However, at Syracuse he had the magical experience of becoming close with the acclaimed poet Delmore Schwartz who helped shape Lou’s poetic writing sense, and he began pursuing his musical aspirations with more drive and ambition.  The following quote and interview clip are from John Cale concerning his initial impression of meeting Lou Reed in 1964:

He seemed extremely vulnerable, with a very visceral sense of claiming his identity. It seemed his identity was very clear when attacking . . .  Not that there was an ingrained hostility to everything on earth . . . This unnerving and psychologically disturbing persona was struggling to have an artistic expression that was being stifled by this confusion between his surroundings and himself . . .

–John Cale

John Cale was a fascinating collaborator for Lou, another Pisces who was literally born one week after Lou on March 9, 1942.  Together they created something previously unknown in the world of rock and roll, and though they ultimately were not able to sustain a harmonious creative relationship, Lou was able to produce great work through the dynamic tension of their relationship.  Having a musical collaborator for mutual inspiration is another theme in Lou’s life, and in many cases at different points he was able to discover collaborators with whom he could sustain a long working relationship.

In the end, Lou found one of his greatest collaborators through love in Laurie Anderson, with whom he shared the end of his life in marriage, companionship, and artistic collaboration.  Once again in connection with Lou’s Gemini Jupiter we have another fascinating synchronicity in the form of his soul mate:  Laurie Anderson is a Gemini Sun, whose Gemini Sun is exactly conjunct Lou’s Jupiter.  Soul mate seems to be a fitting word to describe the relationship between Lou and Laurie, as they were able to relate and accept one another as dynamic and busy artists who would need time apart, as well as devise collaborative efforts so that they could work and perform together.  Below is a link to a performance of Lou’s song “Who Am I” accompanied by Laurie Anderson on synthesizer.  In addition to being able to hear the musical expression of the love between Lou and Laurie, this song is a good example of the work Lou created in the last phase of his musical career that cut to the core of issues faced by our elders just as deeply as his earlier work cut to the core of issues faced by our youth:

Lou had a soul gift and calling for language and sound, and there are many signs of this in his astrological chart.  One of the most powerful is the Leo conjunction of Pluto and Chiron being in opposition to his Aquarius conjunction of Venus, Mercury, and Pallas Athena.  He did not need to reach for complicated language to communicate, yet through using his right-brain Gemini Jupiter in combination with that incredible Aquarian Mercury-Venus reflecting the full force of Pluto and Chiron in Leo, he expressed complex images, symbols, and metaphors through the sound of his voice, the sound of an instrument, the distorted drift of guitar feedback, a simple language choice cutting to the core of the concept.  Below is a quote from what is being labeled the “final interview” of Lou concerning his thoughts on sound (I recommend clicking the link to view the full video interview):

I am very emotionally affected by sound. Sounds are the inexplicable. . .There is a sound you hear in your head, it’s your nerves, or your blood running. It’s kind of amazing to hear that . . . The first memory of sound would have to be your mother’s heartbeat, for all of us . . . But then there are nature sounds. . . The sound of the wind. The sound of love.
–Lou Reed, in his final interview on September 21, 2013

lou reed woodstock

Pluto, Uranus, and Lou

elder lou reed

Between the formation of The Velvet Underground and the release of their first album, between the thought and expression of Lou Reed’s poetic raw rhythmn combined with the classically trained avant garde inclinations of John Cale, before the public launch of their alchemic rock and roll mixture that became the greatest influence on countless subsequent bands, a pivotal astrological transit occurred: the conjunction of Uranus and Pluto in the sign of Virgo in 1965.  The first conjunction was conjunct Lou’s North Node of the Moon in Virgo, in opposition to his Pisces Sun and South Node of the Moon, and in square to his Gemini Jupiter.  This directly links the pivotal events and cycles of the Pluto-Uranus conjunction of the 1960s with the personal soul evolution of Lou in the sign of Virgo.  In part, this connects with him keeping the empathy of Pisces but filtering out more of the delusional confusion concerning reality Pisces can create through illusion, into a strong Virgo sense of confronting reality in the moment with honesty, using the Pisces gifts of poetry and symbolism.  Again, since his Virgo North Node of the Moon as well as his Virgo Neptune are both ruled by his Mercury in Aquarius, the Pluto-Uranus conjunction helped bond Lou’s artistic expression permanently with the popular imagination and collective consciousness.

There is a connection in Lou Reed’s chart between Uranus and Pluto that is not noticeable at first unless you have knowledge in the ancient astrology technique of antiscia that involves symmetry across the cardinal axis.  Kate Petty is a Seattle astrologer who is prolific in her writing using this technique, and posted this article containing a lot of charts and astrology information concerning Lou Reed’s passing.  If you are unfamiliar with these techniques these charts may seem confusing, but it is significant that Lou’s Leo Pluto and Taurus Uranus connect through antiscia, since he happened to be born at a time when Pluto and Uranus were not only conjunct, but were conjunct on the North Node of his Moon in Virgo.

Ultimately, Lou passed away a few days before the fourth exact square between Uranus and Pluto in this time period of the waxing first quarter square aspect between Uranus and Pluto from the conjunction of the mid-1960s.  We can seen the impact and influence of Lou Reed in myriad forms of musical, poetic, and artistic expression in the world today.  It is also fitting at a time in which many troubling and apocalyptic aspects of modern times are being uncovered on a daily basis, that a figure like Lou Reed who continually confronted the ills of society would re-gain prominence in popular culture through his death.  There is also a strong Virgo theme in connection with Lou’s death, as the following passage from his partner Laurie Anderson written about the moment of his death revealed that Lou was practicing tai chi and moving his life energy through his body at the exact moment his life force left his body:

Last spring, at the last minute, he received a liver transplant, which seemed to work perfectly, and he almost instantly regained his health and energy. Then that, too, began to fail, and there was no way out. But when the doctor said, “That’s it. We have no more options,” the only part of that Lou heard was “options” – he didn’t give up until the last half-hour of his life, when he suddenly accepted it – all at once and completely. We were at home – I’d gotten him out of the hospital a few days before – and even though he was extremely weak, he insisted on going out into the bright morning light.

As meditators, we had prepared for this – how to move the energy up from the belly and into the heart and out through the head. I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou’s as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn’t afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life – so beautiful, painful and dazzling – does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.

–Laurie Anderson, from the 11/21/13 issue of Rolling Stone

Laurie’s description of Lou’s passing went viral on social media and seemed to be an inspiration to many for celebrating the life they are given in the moment.  It is also reminiscent of the following quote concerning the passing of another in the line of ancient visionaries who have impacted popular culture:  William Blake.  At the time of Blake’s passing, one of his students wrote, “Just before he died His countenance became fair- His eyes Brighten’d and He Burst out in Singing of the things he saw in Heaven”  (Arroyo, p. 249).  It’s fitting that not only did Lou pass away on a Sunday morning but that he did so in a manner that has inspired many at the same time it has saddened many.

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Lou and the Muses

lou reed and nico

I’m sure he will come to me in my dreams and will seem to be alive again. And I am suddenly standing here by myself stunned and grateful. How strange, exciting and miraculous that we can change each other so much, love each other so much through our words and music and our real lives.
— Laurie Anderson, from the 11/21/13 issue of Rolling Stone

Like all great poets, Lou had an intimate relationship with the Muses of Greek Myth, embodying many of their meanings through his writing and sound craft.  He also had well publicized romantic relationships that carried inspiration into his art, from his soul mate partnership with Laurie Anderson that took him through his last days, to his famed affair with Nico which inspired the beautiful lyrics of “I’ll Be Your Mirror.”  He was also paradigm shattering in his choices of “muses” in his life at times, such as being involved with a trans-sexual woman in th 1970s.  He frequently gave his songs over to the voice of a muse even in title:  “Lisa Says,” “Caroline Says,” “Stephanie Says,” and “Candy Says” to name a few.

In myth, the Nine Muses are the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who was a titaness of Memory and the daughter of Gaia and Uranus.  This divine union is symbolic of the powerful hold Lou Reed has on the memory of those who grew up and persevered through many experiences while listening to his work:  for us, Lou forever holds a place in our psyche.  Below are a few of the Greek Muses I feel are especially strongly connected to Lou’s work, with many of the references coming from the research of Angeles Arrien:

Calliope

Calliope is the muse of Epic poetry, who holds the tablet and the stylus and was the mother of Orpheus, the great musician who descended to the underworld.  Calliope takes lyrical expression to a level of grandeur, including large narrative stories set to music, epic musicals that take us to our depths.   Lou Reed was able to not only direct his poetry at the intimately personal, but was equally adept at focusing on large sections of history, societal movements and impacts.  He also could create pop songs that were somewhat similar to mini-Operas.

The song “Small Town” below is from the album “Songs For Drella” written to honor the passing of Andy Warhol.  Not only did this song and album reunite Lou with John Cale, the songs capture the essence of Warhol’s life story and impact on Art history with the quality of an epic musical:

“Last Great American Whale” below is from Lou’s 1989 album “New York” which is filled with many songs resonate with Calliope, an album of Lou looking back at the decade of the 1980s in America with his sharp Shiva sword.  “Last Great American Whale” is one of the more mythical of the songs on the album in his choice of words:

“Street Hassle” is another example in Lou’s career of him reaching for heights of grandeur, attempting to craft a pop song into the form of a three part mini-Opera: (1) Waltzing Matilda, (2) Street Hassle, and (3) Slipaway.  Among other memorable lines is this:  “You know, some people got no choice / And they can never find a voice / To talk with that they can even call their own / So the first thing that they see / That allows them the right to be / Why they follow it, you know, it’s called bad luck.”

Melpomene

Melpomene is the Muse of tragic poetry, who integrates extraordinary beauty and wisdom into works of art created out of times of difficulty.  Melpomene holds the lyre upon which she plays tragic music, as well as many masks.  She could create masks in order to take us into deep reflection, similar to how Lou Reed could take on different masks of characters in his writing to take us into greater awareness of various personal and societal issues.  Lou Reed was a master at being able to directly address a traumatic experience and somehow capture it in a way that revealed all of its agony and yet somehow also uncovered the artistry or epiphany of the tragedy.  In his natal chart as already mentioned, Lou had some strong mutual reception between his Taurus Saturn and Uranus with his Aquarius Venus, and referencing Kate Petty’s “R.I.P. Lou Reed” article again, he also had Saturn and Venus connected through contra-antiscia.  Lou’s strong Saturn-Venus vibration connects with the muse Melpomenene, as well as the fact she was the mother of the Sirens.  Lou’s music could be a Siren call for many, helping draw them forward through difficulties in life, some drowning in the emotional waters, others eventually helping to uncover their true Self again through the process.

“Caroline Says” is one of the most gut wrenching songs from his gut wrenching epic “Berlin,” here performed a few years ago with the care and attention only Lou Reed could bring to the moment:

“Kill Your Sons,” shown here performed live in 1983, was based upon Lou’s own personal tragedy of being given electro-shock treatment as a teenager by his parents in order to “cure” him of bi-sexual tendencies:

“Heroin” seems like it will always be one of the most played songs in connection with Lou Reed. Really, though, for good reason as it is a perfect example of his ability to take a destructive addiction into mythic territory with his verse (I recommend you tubing his 1972 live acoustic version with John Cale that I do not seem to be allowed to post here):

Terpsichore

Terpsichore is the muse of Dance, which was one of the biggest elements to The Velvet Underground and their show, as well as the integrator of all the Performing Arts, which goes along with The Velvet Underground performing as part of a Multi-media show.  Angeles Arrien in her talks on the Nine Muses has even specifically named Lou’s partner Laurie Anderson as being an especially great embodiment of Terpsichore because of her connection to diverse Art forms.  Although Lou’s music to some sounds like chaotic noise, Lou Reed grew up immersed in rhythmn and blues and dance music, as a young man having a staff job even writing commercial dance tracks.   There were not only a lot of lights and Warhol films going on at their shows, there were also always dancers on stage with them.  Terpsichore, like Lou Reed, expresses the persistent power of creativity to uplift humanity.

“Temptation Inside Your Heart” below is a good example of how Lou could write a dance track mixed in with his clever lyricism:

“Sister Ray” live:

“What Goes On” live:

Euterpe

Euterpe is the muse of Music and Lyrical Poetry who also holds the lyre and plays the melodious flute, bringing Joy to inspire Will-force. While Lou Reed was partially known for creating loud abrasive music, he was also known for crafting melodic music matched to his mellifluous verse:

“Sweet Jane” live from 1969:

“Lisa Says”

“Ride Into the Sun.” This is the harmonious instrumental version:

Erato

Finally, Erato is the muse of lyrical Love Poetry, who plays Love poems and hymns on her lyre.  Angeles Arrien in her research also pointed out additional meaning to Erato, that through her being an awakener of Eros and desire, she helps us discover similarities and common ground with others.  Erato has a close relationship with Terpsichore, with the difference being that while Tepischore expresses diversity through creativity, Erato reveals the deep roots of our similarities that can potentially unite for the common good through creativity.  Erato, like Lou Reed, has a deep love of creativity and expresses a passionate creative fire.

“Rock and Roll.”  This is one of the great classic rock songs of all time, Lou’s love song to rock and roll. Lou believed in the power of rock and roll to change the world, this was not a cliche to him but a real phenomenon.  Interestingly, the Czech revolution of the late 1980s even became known as “The Velvet Revolution” because of the influence of Lou Reed on activist leader Vaclav Havel, though it also may be due to “velvet” being similar to the idea of a “Gentle Revolution” that was another English translation for this political movement.  In any case, Lou Reed believed fervently that the passion of rock and roll could transform lives:

“Walk on the Wild Side.”  This song brought Lou great fame and is notable for the huge mainstream population that not only listened to this, but sung along with it.  I even remember my father pointing it out to me as a young boy on a classic rock radio station in Georgia, the type of station that would also be playing Rush and Lynyrd Skynyrd. I’m not sure if everyone realized what the lyrics were actually about, but through this song and the lush production of David Bowie, Lou was able to unify a lot of attention and thought on issues faced by these characters living on the street, the types of issues normally ignored by mainstream culture:

“I’ll Be Your Mirror.”  To me, these lyrics stand up across time as being some of the most exquisitely perfect ever written:

References

Arriens, Angela.  The Nine Muses.  The Second Half of Life (Audio Tapes).

Laurie Anderson in Rolling Stonehttp://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/laurie-andersons-farewell-to-lou-reed-a-rolling-stone-exclusive-20131106?page=2

Arroyo, Stephen (1996). Exploring Jupiter: progress, prosperity, and potential. CRCS.

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

Queen of Heaven in the Harvest Moon

arrington the star water bearer The Queen of Heaven who walked in Chaos

  • Venus as evening star in Scorpio conjunct Saturn and the North Node of the Moon at the time of the Full Moon on September 19, 2013.

  • This Pisces Full Moon is not only the Harvest Moon in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s Sabian symbol at 27 Pisces is “The Harvest Moon illumines a clear Autumnal sky.”

  • Mars in Leo square Venus, Saturn, and North Node of Moon in Scorpio.

  • Mercury in Libra square Jupiter in Cancer at the exact same time as the Full Moon.

  • Pluto stations direct on September 20 at 9 Capricorn, with the Sabian symbol: “An Angel carrying a harp: the revelation of the spiritual meaning and purpose at the center of any life situation.”

The Pisces full moon to the sun being in Virgo is one of the most magical full moons to me, in part because it can occur around the time of the Equinox.  Yet there is more to it than that- the Moon in its most magnetic splendor connects well with the passionate and devotional nature of the sign of Pisces, a sign that always calls on us to follow our dreams into the distant beyond, full moon or not.  And this visionary Pisces Moon is a perfect balance point to the more focused nature of the sun being in Virgo, a sign that can be incredibly productive in a detail-oriented manner, but can stand to benefit from the larger emotional view received from a lunar Pisces.  In his book on Sabian Symbols, Dane Rudhyar describes the 27th degree of Pisces where this full lunation is occurring as being “The Harvest Moon illumines a clear Autumnal sky,” a perfect symbol for the fact that in the Northern Hemisphere of planet Earth, we actually are experiencing the Harvest Moon of the Autumn Equinox at this time.  However, no matter what hemisphere we are living in, we are experiencing a full moon a few days before an equinox that is brightly illuminating a significant archetypal scene.

In his article Chaos in Myth and Science, Ralph Abraham quoted the following passage describing the ancient Babylonian deity Ishtar, worshipped since 5,000 BC, taken from the Merlin Stone:

Queen of Heaven, Goddess of the Universe,

the One who walked in terrible chaos

and brought life by the way of love

and out of chaos brought us harmony

and from chaos She has led us by the hand.

Ishtar is the Queen of Heaven who calls us forth on our path through the way of Love, a deity who connects with other prominent Goddesses of myth such as Inanna, Isis, Aphrodite, and Venus.  With the planet Venus in Scorpio conjunct both Saturn and the North Node of the Moon at the time of today’s Pisces Harvest Full Moon, a Venus that is also in her most radiant glory as a bright evening star one can watch set every night, the Queen of Heaven is calling for us to follow the love of our hearts forward at this time through whatever difficulties or cacophonous fury we may have had to recently navigate.  If we have been damaged by life, we have the advantage of knowing we can survive no matter what, and this is a time to take steps forward courageously on the path we can feel our hearts guiding us toward.

Today’s full moon is clearly involved in a time period of great intensity that all of us will need to pay attention to as we move forward on our path.  As already mentioned, just Venus being in Scorpio and conjunct Saturn and the North Node of the Moon at the time of the Harvest Moon would be significant (and if you are living in the Southern Hemisphere, since this Full Moon is happening close to your Spring Equinox it is just as important!).  However, at the same time, Mars in Leo (the traditional ruler of Scorpio) is in a square aspect with Venus, Saturn, and the North Node in Scorpio.  Plus, Mercury in Libra is in a tight square with Jupiter in Cancer. And not only that, there is a wide cardinal grand cross occurring with the mean node of Black Moon Lilith in Cancer, Uranus in Aries, Mercury in Libra, and Pluto in Capricorn.  And to make everything all the more intense, Pluto in Capricorn is stationing direct at the time of the Full Moon, stationing direct exactly in between this Full Moon and the upcoming Equinox.  And yet, there is most likely a hidden gift to this intensity, as Pluto in Capricorn, the modern ruler of Scorpio, is in a sextile aspect to Venus, Saturn, and the North Node in Scorpio.  To better explain how all of this could impact you, especially in connection to mythic patterns of your birth chart, enter Ishtar:

ishtar-owl

Ishtar, Queen of Heaven

The association between Venus and Ishtar is illuminating to consider at this time, as the various aspects Venus in Scorpio is experiencing in transit at the moment seems fitting for the mythic story of Ishtar’s descent to the underworld to face the wrath of Ereshkigal, the queen of the underworld.  The planet modern astrologers identify with Venus was originally linked to the Goddesses Inanna and Ishtar by the Mesopotamian people who were one of the original inventors of astrology, with the civilization of Uruk being especially vital to the worship of Ishtar.  Michael Baigent, in his amazing book From the Omens of Babylon: Astrology and Ancient Mesopotamia, researched that it is hard to find a consistent portrayal of Ishtar because of how over time she seemed to integrate the meanings of different Goddess figures.  The planet Venus was originally connected to Inanna by the Sumerian people, and with contact from Semitic and other people, eventually the figure of Ishtar emerged “to be the daughter (and first born) of Sin, the Moon, twin sister to Shamash, the Sun, and sister too of both Erishkigal, the much feared queen of the underworld, and Tammuz, the dying and resurrecting god…” with Ishtar assuming the role of “the queen of heaven, the beautiful goddess of love, sexuality, and childbirth” (Baigent, p. 118).

Baigent also found that tablets dating from the reign of Ashurbanipal, who lived from 668-627 BC, reveal that Ishtar as the planet Venus embodied both male and female characteristics at least at one point in time, with the Ishtar of the morning star being a male, and the Ishtar of the evening star being a female.  Baigent also has found evidence in his research that Venus as the evening star was associated with having a “good harvest” (p. 122), which is a good thing because Venus in Scorpio was also associated with a harvest being destroyed!  Venus being an evening star at this time, and so beautiful to behold in the night sky, to me opens her archetype to embodying more of the harmonizing energy of Ishtar at this time.  Indeed, even in ancient Assyria the planet Venus was seen as being capable of harmonizing difficult energies, as many of the dangers associated with eclipses were seen as being averted with Venus occupying a significant aspect, such as a conjunction with Jupiter or Saturn.  In addition, the interpretation of Venus as an evening star being more of a harmonizing influence continues today in the modern astrological perspective.

Ishtar was also connected to the harvest in addition to the fertility of sexuality, and the planet Venus in various aspects at various times could indicate a bountiful harvest.  However, in addition to her association with abundant fertility and the harvest, Ishtar also had ancient connections with war, although Baigent in his book is careful to note that the planet Venus was only one of many omens taken into consideration surrounding military actions.  This “warring” side of Ishtar, however, is also important to take into consideration at this time, as there are versions of myth that indicate the reason she descended to the underworld and was met by furious hostility by the queen of the underworld, Ereshkigal, was because of manipulative and warring action taken by Ishtar that caused the death of Ereshkigal’s husband, the Bull of Heaven.  Thus, from this interpretation’s perspective, when Ishtar descends to the underworld, having to remove an important garment at each of the seven gates to the underworld, only in the end to be hung on a meat hook by the queen of the underworld, there is more of vengeful anger to Ereshkigal’s actions meant to punish Ishtar than just irrational madness meant to humiliate her (Mark, 2011).  Events in which the more warring side of the Venus and Ishtar archetype is appearing at this time, could in part be corresponding with the current square from Mars in Leo to Venus, Saturn, and the North Node in Scorpio.

There is also the popular Jungian interpretation of Ishtar’s descent, that her becoming stripped down to her barest essentials is a metaphor for becoming more whole, more fully one’s individuated Self.  To me, the important lesson to take from Ishtar’s descent to the underworld is that she experiences the humiliation of losing her most prized possessions, aspects of herself she had become attached to and had begun to derive great vanity from.  She is then practically put to death by the queen of the underworld, with her corpse hung on a meat hook.  So what is the lesson?  The lesson is that Ishtar returns from the underworld.  She is a survivor, she does not die, and she returns to the upperworld a stronger person more in touch with her essential nature.  In our psychological management of creating a sense of stability from what otherwise could appear to be a chaotic life, many of us find our security and sense of self from our jobs, our family, our relationships, or our community.  Ishtar now asks each one of us:  what is inside you?  What do you possess without a home, job, family, partner, or possessions?  If we have been undergoing difficult losses of an external nature, or been experiencing deep changes within our internal landscape, with the current conjunction between Venus, Saturn, and the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio, in sextile to Pluto in Capricorn, no matter what is happening if we courageously face the present moment, we will get a step closer to the future of our full potential.

goddess-inanna-and-her-lions

When considering the conjunction between Venus and Saturn in Scorpio through the mythology of Ishtar, it is also helpful to consider her Assyrian counterpart of Ninurta, who was the God connected to the planet Saturn in ancient Mesopotamia.  Michael Baigent found in his research of Babylonian myths translated from tablets that the ancient Assyrians did not view Saturn as “a stern and cold patriarch but as a conquering hero” (p. 127-128).  In  modern astrology many authors tend to describe Saturn as a limiting or restricting influence, but it is important to remember in the end that necessity is the mother of invention, and so in a similar way can the difficulties of Saturn help father our heroic qualities to emerge in radiant brilliance at the most opportune times in our lives.

Baigent found that Ninurta was a hero in myth because he was able to retrieve the “tablets of fate” containing eternal laws that gave the possessor of the tablets the power over fate (p. 128).  These tablets of fate were stolen by Zu, a winged dragon of chaos who was in league with the great sea serpent of chaos, Tiamat (Baigent, p. 128).  Everyone was too afraid of the dragon to do anything, except for Ninurta, the brother of Nergal (Mars), who not only volunteered to fight the dragon, but also became victorious, was given custody of the tablets in gratitude by the other Gods, and ultimately took on the role of being the “overseer of destiny and fate” in Assyrian culture (p. 128-129).  Ninurta gaining a role in overseeing fate by defeating a dragon of chaos is interesting to me on a personal level, as I recently listened to a lecture given by astrologer Bernadette Brady linking chaos theory with astrology while integrating the Mesopotamian myth of the hero Marduk (Jupiter) defeating Tiamat, the great sea serpent of chaos.  In her lecture Brady described how astrology was created in Mesopotamia as a tool for navigating chaos, but that over time the chaos paradigm was defeated by reason and the mechanical/causal paradigm currently dominating modern worldviews in a manner similar to how Marduk defeated Tiamat.  Brady explained that astrology aligns with chaos theory because it posits that while one cannot predict with certainty what will exactly happen, one can get a sense of the timing of events as well as the level of quality of these events.  As chaos theory also integrates fractals which have re-occurring patterns around “strange attractors,” in a similar manner our astrological birth charts can indicate re-occurring patterns from our family as well as the collective unconscious contained in myths that we are experiencing and re-experiencing.  Using astrology as a tool, one can get a better grasp on these patterns as well as discern a more productive and fruitful path one can follow in greater alignment with the full potential of the birth chart.  Thus we can use astrology to help us predict upcoming time periods that may be especially intense, as well as to figure out what patterns we have been playing out and how to most effectively respond to move forward in a productive manner that will lead to us actualizing more of our full potential.

This idea of astrology being used to gain a greater ability to navigate our “fate,” has an interesting link back to the Ninurta of myth, because Baigent also found that the human representation of Ninurta often portrayed was as a man holding a “seven-headed weapon” which could possibly have been a symbol of the seven planets used in ancient astrology (p.129).  By mentioning this, however, I don’t mean to suggest here that the study of astrology is of particular importance at this time of the Full Moon with Venus and Saturn conjunct in Scorpio.  What I do mean to suggest is the importance of each one of us stepping bravely forward on our own unique heroic journey, with the courage to face whatever dragons or demons arise before us, utilizing the resources around us or that we carry inside us.  Saturn in astrology occurring in an intense aspect, such as currently being conjunct Venus and in square to Mars, does not need to pre-determine you to experiencing great loss, restriction, or sadness.  It very well may correlate, however, with some intense experiences that will require all of your being invested in moving you forward on the most productive path for your unique self, no matter what obstacles may be appearing before you.

The other image often associated with Ninurta is the eagle, which also happens to be one of the symbols of Scorpio, the sign presently holding the conjunction of Saturn and Venus, Ninurta and Ishtar.  The eagle is the higher evolved Scorpio, the Scorpio who has no need to manipulate or unload emotional diatribes on others in response to being overly sensitive to negative emotional environments.  Instead, Scorpio as the eagle is able to utilize its authenticity in order to inspire instead of manipulate others.  Scorpio is a sign that is capable of great loyalty and commitment, as well as an enhanced ability to get down to living the essential nature of one’s Self.  When we connect this Eagle/Ninurta aspect of Saturn into its conjunction with Venus, we find ourselves again with Ishtar, turning to look upward with resolution from the underworld.  Ishtar will survive, and she will continue to walk through the terrible chaos and create new life through the way of love.  Once we connect with the essential Self within each of us, come to more fully realize the full potential of our unique being, we become even more powerful and effective in collaboration and community with others on a similar journey of the soul as our own (Venus and Saturn conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio).

arrrington winged goddess riding lion

If we are undergoing great loss at this time, it may be hopeful to keep in mind that there is a sextile from Pluto in Capricorn to the Scorpio conjunction of Venus, Saturn, and the North Node of the Moon.  This sextile is absolutely profound, as Pluto is stationing direct at the moment, putting even more heavy weight on Pluto than normal.  The Sabian symbol for the degree in which Pluto is stationing direct described by Dane Rudhyar in his classic Astrological Mandala is once again a perfect image in the context of the multiple aspects and transits occurring at this time:

Capricorn 9:  An angel carrying a harp

Keynote:  The revelation of the spiritual meaning and purpose at the core of any life situation.

This picture simply says that “heaven is within us.”  All we have to do is to be open and listen to the total harmony of life, a harmony in which we play a part that is necessary to the completeness and meaning of the whole.  In order to do this we have to surrender our separative ego-consciousness and flow with the universal current which, to the religiously minded person, is the Will of God.   (p. 235)

I would like to emphasize here that is not necessary to believe in God, or even Gods, for this symbol to be meaningful, and in case the mentioning of the “Will of God” is a trigger for you, I hope you do not neglect to listen to the actual wisdom of the above symbol.  The point, “to surrender our separative ego-consciousness,” is pretty much exactly what happened to Ishtar during her descent to the underworld, in her experience of her various trials and tribulations.  Similarly, whatever we have been experiencing recently, we must remember that life will be going on and that there is a part that each one of us is uniquely designed to play in the unfolding of future events.  The more we can get into the flow, the more easy this experience could be for us.

However, with many intense aspects going on in the moment, such as Mars in Leo in square to all the Scorpio (Venus, Saturn, North Node), and Mercury in Libra in square to Jupiter in Cancer (following a few days after Mercury in Libra was in direct opposition to Uranus in Aries), it may not exactly feel like we are entering a “flow.”  However, if it has been feeling like we have been in the flow of things, keep at it, because most likely you are then on track.  If in contrast events have felt destructive and depressive, hopefully through a process of deep reflection we can notice signs of what aspects of our loss may have been getting in the way of our full potential, no matter what sense of comfort our attachment to it may have brought us.  If we are in a dark place, it is absolutely necessary at this time to courageously step forward on our path with all of our resources ready at our disposal.  This is not a time to be sitting passively on the sidelines.  This is a time to step forward brilliantly, or at least as brilliantly as we can manage it, on our unique path and calling.

pyreaus_tarot_combo_queen_of_wandsQueen of Wands

  • Full Moon at 27 degrees of Pisces, the third decan of Pisces. The third decan of Pisces (20-30 degrees) is part of the rulership of the Queen of Wands in tarot.

Finally, on an optimistic note I always am excited when doing my own tarot readings when I pull the Queen of Wands in some manner in connection to myself, because I always see her as a sign I will be able to handle whatever is coming my way.  Since in some schools of tarot thought the Queen of Wands is connected with a rulership of the last decan of Pisces where the current Full Moon is occurring,  I wanted to include a description of the Queen of Wands given by tarotologist Pamela Norris, which was published in the August issue of Plants and Planets put out by Olympia astrologer Rosie Finn and Olympia herbalist Carol Trasatto:

Queen of Wands–

Elements and astrology:  The water aspect of fire. Sagitarius.  Rules the last decan of Pisces and the first two of Aries.

Personality traits:  Master of self-knowledge, change and transformation.  The mother of mature love and sexuality.  As a person, she is an older fire sign person who mirrors who you are and who you are not.  She is open minded, strong willed and enterprising, dignified and compassionate, confident, energetic, and charismatic.  She may be intolerant and jealous, temperamental and inconsiderate.

The cautionary note at the end of the above quote, about the potential to be “intolerant” or “temperamental,” is important in consideration of the many intense aspects occurring, such as Mars square Venus/Saturn, and Mercury square Jupiter.  However, if we are doing our hard work on a personal level, we will hopefully be able to rise above such negativity.  I love the image above of the Queen by Pamela Colman Smith from the Ride Waite Tarot deck (on the left) since the Queen of Wands is holding a sunflower, and in the northern hemisphere where I live there are currently sun flowers in full bloom.  The awe inspiring sacred geometry of sun flowers, their immanent power captured in art by the likes of Vincent Van Gogh, is tantamount to the full potential that can bloom from our inner being.  If you are currently experiencing a bountiful harvest of your own being in this way, celebrate!  If you are not experiencing this harvest at the moment, remember that whatever you are experiencing is part of your process of self-discovery.  This concept connects with the image of the Queen above on the right, from the Thoth deck, in which she is wearing the glyph for Pisces on her chest.  This is a Queen who has been in touch with the dark places of her psyche that some of you may have been currently experiencing, and it is because of her contact and awareness of these dark places that she ultimately is able to actualize her full potential and come into the full realization of her self and soul nature.  At this Pisces Full Moon, this Harvest Moon of the Northern Hemisphere, fearlessly take stock of where you currently are on your life’s journey and courageously take action on the calling arising from your heart inside.

References

Abraham, Ralph.  Chaos in Myth and Science:

 http://www.ralph-abraham.org/articles/MS%2346.Myth/ms46.pdf

Baigent, Michael. (1994).  From the Omens of Babylon:  Astrology and Ancient Mesopotamia.

Mark, Joshua. (2011)  Inanna’s Descent…  http://www.ancient.eu.com/article/215/

Rudhyar, Dane. (1973). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases: a reinterpreation of the Sabian symbols, presenting them as a contemporary American I Ching.  Vintage books.