Rebirthing the Matrix

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Our Galactic Center

  • Jupiter station retrograde in Leo (23°) on December 8, 2014
  • Mercury conjunct Sun in Sagittarius (17°) on December 8, 2014
  • Venus ingress into Capricorn on December 10, 2014
  • Uranus in Aries square Pluto in Capricorn on December 14, 2014
  • Mercury ingress into Capricorn on December 16, 2014
  • Venus conjunct Pluto in Capricorn and square Uranus in Aries (13°) on December 20, 2014
  • Mars in Aquarius sextile Uranus in Aries on December 20, 2014
  • Uranus station direct (13°) on December 21, 2014
  • New Moon on the Capricorn Solstice (December 21, 2014)
  • Saturn ingress into Sagittarius on December 23, 2014
  • Mercury conjunct Pluto in Capricorn and square Uranus in Aries (13°) on December 24, 2014

Merry Solstice to one and all.  Our Sun was recently conjunct our Galactic Center, as it does every year as we approach the regenerative nature of the Capricorn Solstice that heralds Winter in the northern hemisphere, Summer in the southern hemisphere.  Accordingly we are in a dark and potent re-centering time, a dark moon solstice (with the Sagittarius Moon conjunct our Galactic Center) that is dominated by Uranus stationing direct simultaneously.  This year’s Capricorn Solstice is as fertile for intention setting as it gets, as a couple of hours after the solstice we experience a New Moon at the dawning of Capricorn.  In the moist darkness of this solstice, within awareness of the shadow cast by our unconscious, we can consciously plant a seed that will ultimately burst free with our full color from the deep roots we set as our foundation now.  Uranus in Aries is calling us to completely liberate from the past conditions restricting our growth up until this moment, and with Venus, Vesta, and Mercury joining Pluto in Capricorn in square to Uranus and the lunar nodes, we are entering a space to change the set of conditions we live our life from, rebirthing the matrix that shapes our lives on both personal and collective levels.

A matrix has been defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “something (such as a situation or a set of conditions) in which something else develops or forms,” and also as “a container that can be filled with a material to give the material a new shape.”  Fittingly the etymology of matrix connects to feminine procreation, and like the patterns found in an astrology chart, a matrix has also been defined as “something shaped like a pattern of lines and spaces.”  For those who spend time working with their astrology chart, there can be a tendency to fixate on certain interpretations that reinforce the repetitive patterns we develop our choices and responses to life from. Yet the brilliance of astrology can be found in the awareness it brings to us of our repetitive patterns so that we can liberate ourselves from the patterns that have left us unfulfilled, restricted, or stagnated, even when from an outside perspective it may appear that we are reaching the goals that we chose to focus upon.  The Capricorn archetype prominently featured in current transits connects with the potential that we can climb a mountain or overcome great odds in pursuit of a personal ambition, only to find within our successful achievement that it was not a goal that could bring us a sense of fulfillment.  Venus and Mercury joining Pluto in Capricorn can facilitate a plunge into our fathomless depths to change our structural nature, so we can assume a regenerated presence of form more naturally attuned to our desires that intrinsically motivate and satisfy our whole being.

CapricornSolsticeWRIGC1Going along with this idea of deep re-structuring, Mercury in Capricorn is sextile to Neptune in Pisces at this Solstice, and the Capricorn New Moon that arrives about two and a half hours after the Solstice is also sextile to Neptune in Pisces.  Furthermore, Venus and Pluto in Capricorn are sextile Chiron in Pisces, and Vesta in Capricorn is at the mid-point of a sextile to both Neptune and Chiron in Pisces.  The sextile between Capricorn and Pisces is insightful to ponder now, and brings to mind the sea-goat symbol of Capricorn with it’s watery tail dipped into an ocean of collective unconscious.  Capricorn and Pisces are both much stronger and effective when each draws upon the strengths of the other:  for Capricorn, it is letting go of control and manipulation in order to open their emotions with empathy to both nurture others through their striving as well as to flow with where the watery currents of their true soul desires lead them, instead of where their cultural conditioning expects them to go.  For Pisces, the harmonious help from Capricorn comes through making the unmanifest manifest, taking concrete steps to bring structure and form to their visions and ideals so that their imaginative impulses enter our reality to impact others through a creative expression of some sort, as well as owning the responsibility to be accountable to the demands of life in order to sustain a more stable life from which to continue to produce work.

In the recent past there were a number of planets passing through Sagittarius in square to Neptune and then Chiron in Pisces, and so now that we have a group of planets in Capricorn passing through sextile to Neptune and Chiron in Pisces, we can utilize any disillusionment and dissolving we have experienced to re-align and re-structure our lives at a source level so we can live closer to our personal truth.  If we became unbalanced on the Sagittarius side of things, we may also need to reflect upon how we became too dogmatic, too self-centered and narcissistic, or too over-confident that a belief system we felt encapsulates the truth holds more weight than other perspectives, becoming a self-proclaimed guru or fanatic in the process.  In comparison, if we became unbalanced on the Pisces side of things, we may need to realize that we have been victimizing ourselves to an unhealthy extent through our oversensitivity, or becoming so wrapped up in a self-centered illusion that we became completely in denial to vital issues in our environment that require our full awareness.  Since we remain in the wake of a square between Uranus and Pluto, with Uranus stationing direct, there is no doubt something very significant that has been dislodged from our depths for us to work with, confront, or integrate.

Indeed, a week ago we experienced the sixth of the seven squares between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn that have been ongoing since 2012.  We only have one more exact square in this cycle, which will occur days before the Aries Equinox and a Solar Eclipse. The seven squares between Uranus and Pluto bring to mind our seven traditional planets and our seven chakras, and the associated symbolism.  As a result, the sixth square connects to the sixth chakra as well as the sixth planet, Jupiter.  This symbolism works out perfectly, as Jupiter stationed retrograde in Leo prior to the sixth square, bringing the Jupiter archetype into prominence as well as the intuitive shift that comes with its station into a retrograde perspective.  When Jupiter stations and turns retrograde, we have a greater capacity to turn away from the expectations of others and the conditioning of our culture that cause us to act from a false sense of self to meet outside demands, in order to turn within to recover our personal truth and motivation to pursue desires that bring us genuine vitality and fuel our passions.

The traditional symbolism of the sixth chakra also resonates with the astrological aspects surrounding the sixth square between Uranus and Pluto, as issues such as intuition, imagination, insight, image, dreams, and visualization come to mind.  Anodea Judith’s Eastern Body, Western Mind analyzed the developmental tasks associated with this chakra to be about the establishment of our personal identity as well as our capacity to perceive the patterns of our life.  If balanced, we can have a perceptive intuition that can think symbolically, visualize, and both recall and work with the material found within our memories and dreams.  In contrast, if out of balance we can have issues around insensitivity and difficulty with our memories, vision, and imagination.  We can also find ourselves in denial, delusional, obsessive, and becoming fixated that our way is the only way.  Judith also analyzed associated traumas and abuse that I find resonate with the potential danger of this sixth square:  “what you see doesn’t go with what you’re told,” “invalidation of intuition and psychic occurrences,” and “ugly or frightening environment (war zone, violence).”  These same concepts further connect with the sixth planet Jupiter’s rulership of Sagittarius, an archetype featured strongly at this sixth square, as the chart below reveals:

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When the sixth square between Uranus and Pluto became exact on December 14, the Moon was at the beginning of Libra with Jupiter retrograde conjunct Juno in Leo, highlighting an additional link between the intensity of this square and all of our personal relationships, including our relationship to our surrounding collective culture and conditioning.   In fact, this last Pluto and Uranus square has a relational impact within our psyche that truly goes beyond the ability of words to capture in its intensity, since the lunar nodes are in the relational signs of Aries and Libra, with Uranus conjunct the South Node of the Moon and opposite the North Node of the Moon, and Pluto in Capricorn square both the South and North Nodes of the Moon.  Moreover, the North Node ruler is a Venus in Capricorn conjunct Pluto and also in square to the lunar nodes, and the South Node ruler is a Mars in Aquarius that is in sextile to Uranus and the South Node in Aries and in trine to the North Node in Libra.

In plain English, this symbology points to the most primal issues connected to our relationship choices, no matter how hidden they have previously been in the far reaches of our consciousness, erupting forward into our present mindset and surrounding environment for us to face.  The silver lining of serendipity within this intensity is the Mars in Aquarius making the previously mentioned harmonious aspects, bringing with it the potential to liberate ourselves from our previous patterns that have disempowered us in relationship, in order to integrate our burgeoning self-awareness into re-structuring our present conditions into a transformed presence more attuned to the vision of life we hold dear to our hearts.  Mars in Aquarius brings a detached objectivity that enables us to step back from the past conditioning that has influenced our sense of will in the direction of consensus reality structures.  With Mars in Aquarius we can feel and realize what about our recent identity and behavior is not truly who we are at heart, giving us the chance to experiment with, rebel against, and change the circumstances that have led up to our present moment.  Mars in Aquarius can sense the future and in correspondence we can make modifications to creatively actualize more of the unique purpose we were born with in order to serve our surrounding collective.

With Saturn at the very end of Scorpio, preparing to enter Sagittarius in a few days, all of the deep rooted feelings we have not yet faced and addressed are coming up now with an intensity to match the level of resistance we have been projecting onto them.  Saturn rules Capricorn where Venus is currently conjunct Pluto in square to the lunar nodes, and so our collective north node direction in Libra demands that we do this important inner work, realize what aspects of our shadow have been impacting our relationships despite our denial, and realize how we have been acting in order to meet the expectations of family or culture instead of our own Self.  Mars in Aquarius has a polarity of Leo, where Jupiter is retrograde conjunct Juno, and so we must take the courage of the Lion to heart in order to break free from the old structures of our life and the status quo we have become acclimated and attached to.

Finding and living from a true sense of personal justice in our relationships is an important theme of this Capricorn Solstice, not only because of the North Node of Libra ruled by a Venus conjunct Pluto and in square to Uranus, but also because of the asteroid goddess Themis #24 being at zero degrees of Sagittarius on the day of the Solstice and New Moon, and so conjunct Saturn as it leaves Scorpio to enter Sagittarius. Themis  is the Titaness of natural law, divine order, justice, and custom, the daughter of Gaia who is connected with “divine law” more so than “human-made law.”  Themis connects to the principle that conditioning and law is not necessarily bad, for it is necessary for many to learn how to act and think in accordance with the highest good for all beings in all of our dimensions.  In fact, when we go against the divine law of Themis, we invite the wrathful retribution of Nemesis.  Unfortunately, not all human-made laws and conditioning factors of our culture are actually in harmony with Themis and divine law, and so it is necessary at this Solstice and New Moon to make intentions to re-discover our personal truth liberated from the oppressive aspects of surrounding culture.  Themis was also a mediator of oracular power, and so also connects to the potential of using Mars in Aquarius to guide us toward our liberated future vision.

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Black Buddha Mandala (1944) by Morris Graves

It is important to further reflect upon the meaning of the New Moon lunation occurring on the day of the Solstice.  Unlike the powerful Capricorn Solstice of 2010 that was a Total Lunar Eclipse and so a Full Moon of peaking polarity, the Capricorn Solstice of 2014 is more of a New Moon born out of dark, waning lunar tides.  Therefore it is insightful to reflect back upon events surrounding the pivotal peak of this past lunation cycle, the Gemini Full Moon that occurred on December 6, 2014.  This Gemini Full Moon was a catalytic spark to the issues erupting during this time of Solstice and the square between Uranus and Pluto (I was on Kristin Fontana’s Guiding Stars radio show discussing this Gemini Full Moon that you can find an archived recording of here).  Especially important to the context of Uranus stationing direct on the Solstice, the Gemini Full Moon of December 6 was conjunct the North Node of Uranus in Gemini, and the Sun at the time was conjunct the South Node of Uranus.  This means that the entire arc of how the Uranus archetype impacts our life has been completely lit up and illuminated with all of its shattering spectacle in these past few weeks, culminating in Uranus stationing direct at this Solstice.

Working with Uranus can be difficult for many because Uranus demands change and liberation despite your current attachments, and so the things we possess and cling to tightly can explode in the face of a Uranus transit.  In situations in which we have felt oppressed or restricted and yearned for a change of conditions, the implosions of Uranus can also create space and opportunities for us to finally make the changes to our structure that have felt long overdue from a soul perspective.  Following the Gemini Full Moon that lit up the Uranus archetype a couple of weeks ago, two further important astrological events occurred:  (1) Jupiter stationed retrograde in Leo as previously mentioned, and (2) there was a superior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun in Sagittarius.  This visionary Mercury transit gave us an opportunity to perceive a vision of our future that we can now work to develop with Mercury in Capricorn and conjunct Pluto.

Interestingly in connection to current events, the superior conjunction of Mercury in Sagittarius on December 8 was in trine to the superior conjunction of Mercury in Leo that occurred around the time of the Aquarius Full Moon of August 10, 2014 that was furthermore in trine to the Gemini Full Moon of December 6.  It was at the time of this Aquarius Full Moon that the eruption of events and protests surrounding the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri occurred.  While there is nothing new about police brutality and inequitable treatment of people of color by law enforcement, something about the incredible liberating energy of that Aquarius Full Moon and Superior Conjunction of Mercury illuminated awareness that elevated public protest was necessary.  The trines from that time to the recent Gemini Full Moon correlate to the further intensification of public protest following the non-guilty verdicts for the officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner.  As additional episodes of police killing people of color entered the news cycle, public protest and acts of civil disobedience in connection intensified. This public movement has direct symbolic correlation with the astrology of this time, in particular the prominence that the Uranus archetype has been demanding.

Mars entered Aquarius on the same day that the non-guilty verdict of the officer who strangled Eric Garner to death was announced.  Mars in Aquarius brings with it an energy of potential rebellion and radical action, but when working with Mars in Aquarius on personal levels as well as with intention to create change in the collective, it is vital to use Aquarian foresight in order to structure focused, impactful choices for protest and rebellion.  One of the shadow sides of Mars in Aquarius can be in becoming so intense in the face of oppressive conditions that our desire for change and protest leads us to rebel against not only the system but also our own well-being, or the greater well-being.  For example, in public protest acts of civil disobedience can be very powerful in certain circumstances, but they have the greatest impact when carefully designed to hit a target while spreading a message, instead of simply being about blowing something up.  In our personal lives, we will want to work with the shattering energy of Uranus to carefully re-build our lives and the surrounding system from the inside out, instead of simply rebelling for the sake of rebelling without purposeful intention.

In addition, Mars in Aquarius can become so detached that we emotionally disassociate from the impact of our behavior on the feelings of others, or we do not allow ourselves to feel all of the emotions that can help us nurture the needs of our relationships.  Similar to how we need to integrate the nurturing archetype of Cancer to the polarity of Pluto, Venus, and Mercury in Capricorn now, we also need to bridge the personal archetype of Leo to the impersonal collective polarity of Mars in Aquarius.  From a place of Aquarian actualization that is heart-centered, we can regain our solar Leo luminosity to radiate our pure Self in a manner that lights a path of inspiration for others.

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The Great Sun by William Blake

In the evolutionary astrology system developed by Jeff Green, Uranus has an additional meaning connected to our long-term soul memory, meaning not only all of the memories we have stored from our present lifetime that we may or may not consciously remember in this moment, but also all of our memories from past incarnations that we do not consciously remember.  Some people do gain awareness for past life memories, however, and the potent astrological context that Uranus is stationing within now points to the potential for deep soul memories to emerge from our unconscious.  Whether these are memories from past lives, or memories from the current lifetime that have been buried, or a new perspective gained regarding our present behavior that we had previously been in denial of, this Uranus stationing will be bringing something extremely significant to the forefront of our consciousness.  We need to take time out to nurture ourselves with loving care, feel compassion for where we currently are in our development and not be overly critical of ourselves for not being where we think we should be.  Wherever we are, it is a necessary place in our process to be in, and with loving care we can facilitate growth within that will take us beyond any disheartening, distressing, restrictive, or oppressive circumstances in our present or recent past.

“Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back. That’s part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads ―at least that’s where I imagine it― there’s a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in awhile, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you’ll live forever in your own private library.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

This awareness of something from our past being recycled and stirred up in order to help us embody a reborn presence is further reflected in the current balsamic phase between Mars in Aquarius and Venus in Capricorn, with Uranus in Aries being sextile Mars in Aquarius.  Mars and Venus in a balsamic phase will bring significant relationship issues and partners to the surface that are connected with our past patterns.  This is a time of facing the way we have been in the past with relationships with an open heart, allowing us to feel all of our emotions no matter how dark or discomforting.  By taking it all in now, we can dissolve and release the relationship patterns that no longer serve us so we can create the relationships that will serve our needs as well as gain a clearer capacity to listen to the needs of all of our relationships.

Following the Solstice New Moon, Saturn will enter the sign of Sagittarius and Mercury will re-ignite the square between Uranus and Pluto by becoming conjunct Pluto, in square to Uranus and the South Node of the Moon in Aries, and also in square to the North Node of the Moon in Libra.  When a pivotal planet like Saturn ingresses into a new sign, we get an immediate sense of some of the major issues that will be coming our way in the next phase of life, and the information we receive through our interactions with others could be very intense considering the fact that Mercury will be conjunct Pluto and in square to Uranus and the lunar nodes at the same time.  As a result, this next week is another important threshold for us to enter with Mercury present as our guide.  With Mercury and Venus both still in Capricorn, taking personal responsibility for our responses to what is coming at us in our life will be paramount, integrating the Cancer polarity of nurturing our Self and our loved ones.

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Taurus Full Moon

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Full Moon engraving by Claude Mellan (1635) Paris

We say it is human nature to be attached, thinking of the bond between the mother and the child she births, the parents who focus on nurturing the development of the human being birthed into the world through their merging.  Yet although attachment and connectivity is a primal urge of humanity, there are many people who are abandoned, neglected, or abused as children, and do not experience an opportunity for full bonding with a parent.  This and other societal ills link to the separation polarizing our attachment, the separation we experience being released from our mother’s womb and ensuing need for bonding with someone or something in our environment.  The sign of Taurus connects to our hunger for security, and the forms of attachment we engage to feel secure and stable in an ever changing reality.  We become attached to ideas and feelings as well, thoughts and sensations that give us comfort, irregardless of whether or not our fixation on them is in our best interest.  For example, we can become attached to being depressed, attached to avoiding our passion, attached to numbing our pain and emotions through drugs, attached to escaping reality through popular culture, attached to being in denial of what will bring us happiness, attached to a life leaving us essentially unfulfilled.  Today we can see around us people more attached to their electronic connection to the world-wide web than their physical surroundings, parents fixated on their “screen connections” instead of their connection to the needs of their child.

We now experience a Taurus full Moon, the full phase of the lunar cycle that began with a solar eclipse in Scorpio aligned with Venus as well as Mercury stationing direct in the sign of the scales ruled by Venus.  No doubt if you like to read astrology posts on social media, you are hearing a lot about “integrating your authentic values” for this Taurus full Moon, and it is true that the Taurus archetype helps us find internal worth and stability instead of grasping for it in the external world.  However, in light of the Scorpio eclipse and Mercurial shifting that began this lunation cycle, this is an opportune moment to question why you think the “authentic values” that come to mind for you are the genuine article.  Be willing to question everything during the full light of this Taurus Moon, and you will open yourself to letting go and releasing the values that you have led yourself to believe in the past are essential to your nature.  Are they really?  What signs and symbols in your environment since Mercury stationed direct have emerged to give you guidance?  Who or what is getting in your face begging you to give second thought to your absolute fixation on having this or that particular value or attachment in your daily life?  If we can gain clarity for the real deal, the true values that will bring us genuine happiness and wealth, then going forward we can intend to ruminate our thoughts, circulate our feelings around desires arising from these values.  A lot of unconscious material could have been stirred up in the solar eclipse at our last new Moon, so keep in mind it is worthwhile to give further thought to what exactly “happiness” and “wealth” actually mean for you, as opposed to what you have gotten used to thinking they mean in your past.

Reflection

Reflection by Karena Karras

Venus has not yet finished her underworld journey in Scorpio, and is getting closer each day to a union with Saturn that will occur on November 12: there will be crucial lessons to be uncovered within during this closing week of their cycle.  This heavy Scorpio pull into our depths is an intense facilitator for a pivotal aspect of this Full Moon:  the balsamic conjunction between Mars and Pluto in Capricorn.  Mars and Pluto will begin a new cycle in Capricorn on November 10, so this Taurus and Scorpio full lunation is illuminating our experiences with desire and the degree to which we have integrated the conscious and unconscious sides of our nature in the past two year cycle of Pluto and Mars.  In union the combined message is to courageously go deep within to sense what brings us alive with passion and joy, beyond the limitations and guarding of repression, guilt, and fear of judgment or abandonment.  The Capricorn archetype also links to the conditioning of our parents and surrounding culture from birth, and the manner in which our sense of self learned to adapt to find a sense of security and attachment within the values and expectations of our early environment.  In order to harmonize with the values or expectations cherished by our parents or surrounding culture, many of us adapt our personality interacting in the external world to an external conditioning that is not wholly connected to the internal conditions necessary for us to feel wholly passionate and joyful.

Our desires that come from Soul and connected with Self are too strong to completely repress, however, and so many of us learn to pursue our essential inner desires in secret.  Out of this fear of external judgment, we set up a dichotomy of acting in the culturally acceptable way in the outer world to gain acceptance, while inwardly or in secret we follow the desires burning from within and demanding expression. As Carl Jung and others have noted, when we completely ignore or deny our burning inner desires, these unconscious forces can erupt in our lives in the form of crises demanding that we finally pay attention.  Within the sixth of the seven ripening squares between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn, this Full Moon in Taurus illuminating our interplay between the depth of Venus-Saturn and Mars-Pluto holds the potential for us to re-source our desire nature to reveal our whole Will we have previously given away to others, including outside power structures.

Furthermore, there are additional strong aspects from Leo to the Scorpio and Taurus activated at this Full Moon, with Jupiter in Leo in square to Saturn and Venus in Scorpio, and Juno in Leo in square to the Sun in Scorpio and Moon in Taurus.  In combination with the closing cycles of Venus and Saturn in Scorpio, and Mars and Pluto in Capricorn, we can receive a message of how we have attempted to compensate for our fear of abandonment and separation by grasping for control over whatever we can control, whether that be people, non-human material, or thoughts.  A Taurus Full Moon invites us into the realm of Venus and what will bring us authentic pleasure and joy in our body.  Instead of remaining fixated on what you thought was bringing you happiness in the past, this Full Moon of Venus asks you to open to what is bringing you joy and happiness in the ever evolving moment, and to follow it.  Part of this is taking the risk to be vulnerable, part of this is expressing our needs to others and taking our essential needs seriously instead of a need to find acceptance in the dominant cultural paradigm.  Within what we previously thought would hold our disempowerment we may find what will make us feel powerful, while within what we previously thought was bringing us power we may realize was leading to our disempowerment.

The strong Leo energy interacting with the rest of the aspects of this Full Moon means there is something to be revealed about our personal destiny going forward if we are willing to listen.  This is not a time to feel guilty about the past or past decisions, but rather to reflect instead on modifications we can make in our life going forward that have been revealed to us through this past reflection.  This Full Moon aligns in the tropical zodiac with the cross-quarter holy days that occur in the middle of the fixed signs:  in the Southern Hemisphere this Full Moon is embedded within the blossoming of Full Spring, in the Northern Hemisphere this Full Moon lays within the clearing of Full Fall.  Open up the desires from within you have locked away, and there will be an opportunity to integrate these passions into manifestation in your future daily life.

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Sengai, Autumn Moon

Finally, with the North Node in Libra and Mercury moving direct again at the end of Libra, near the point of its inferior conjunction of the Sun, I would like to share a text I feel is connected to our current nodal axis of Uranus being conjunct the South Node in Aries, the North Node being in Libra, and the nodal rulers Mars and Venus entering into and out of intense dynamics.  The following is from The Chalice and The Blade by Riane Eisler that was published during the shifting times of the late 1980s, and connects to the dominant cultural paradigm many human beings have been attached to for centuries:

One result of re-examining human society from a gender-holistic perspective has been a new theory of cultural evolution. This theory, which I have called Cultural Transformation theory, proposes that underlying the great surface diversity of human culture are two basic models of society.

The first, which I call the dominator model, is what is popularly termed either patriarchy or matriarchy-  the ranking of one half of humanity over the other.  The second, in which social relations are primarily based on the principle of linking rather than ranking, may best be described as the partnership model.  In this model- beginning with the most fundamental difference in our species, between male and female- diversity is not equated with either inferiority or superiority.

While there is much more to this idea than the above quote, it goes to the heart of realizations that we can find in our daily interactions in our external environment and internal mind.  Namely, moving away from a focus on a need for power over something to a focus on the power that can be found in between authentic partnership.

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Mystery of Stillness

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

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— e.e. cummings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chrysopoea of Cleopatra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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page 54 in Carl Jung’s Liber Novus

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

Amen, you are the lord of the beginning.

Amen, you are the star of the East.

Amen, you are the flower that blooms over everything.

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

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

Amen, you are the beginning and the end.

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

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

–Carl Jung

References

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

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

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

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

Mercury retrograde: a forest dark in liminal twilight

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Yaroslav Gerzhedovich

“I go along dreaming roads of the twilight”

Antonio Machado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Yaroslav Gerzhedovich

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

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

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

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

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Yaroslav Gerzehedovich

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

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

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

LunarEclipseWRIGC2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MercuryDirectWRIGC4

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

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

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

Inanna_Dumuzi

Inanna and Dumuzi

References

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

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

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

Wesak Full Moon 2014

The Wesak Full Moon occurring on May 14 in Buddhist culture is a celebration of the birth of Buddha, as well as his enlightenment and death.  The connection between Wesak and the Full Moon that occurs when the Sun is in Taurus and the Moon is opposite in Scorpio is evident through the lens of esoteric astrology, a system in which Taurus, Scorpio, and the Moon are all associated with the 4th Ray and the crises of experience and consciousness we experience as a result of being incarnated in a human body.  Alan Oken has taught that the 4th Ray is known as “the art of living,” a ray connected to the “fourth plane of Buddhi” and an “Intuition” developed through hard won growth in the face of conflicts that polarize and contrast our “lower” and “higher” nature (Oken, 120).  Just as in the double tetrahedron image above, also commonly known as a “Star of David,” in the center, in the heart, we can integrate the essence of the contrasting movements of the lower to the higher, and the higher to the lower (similar to how the 4th chakra, the heart chakra, integrates the energy from the three lower and the three higher chakras).  From the soul-centered perspective, this integration also connects to the alignment of the personality with the soul and the wisdom gained to help us discern a path forward to devote ourselves toward.  In the life of the Buddha, we see an individual facing one crisis after another involving his human form and desires, creating new forms of belief and existence to live from only to destroy them in order to create another form anew.  As a result of experiencing many material and spiritual crises, however, Buddha was able to integrate the wisdom he found in his experience in order to reach enlightenment.

Every Full Moon shines it’s light on our path forward and what forms we have created to anchor and express our purpose in the world, as the Sun in astrology is connected to our soul purpose, and the Moon in astrology is connected to our personality, the human form and vehicle of our soul purpose.  Along these lines, during times in which the forms we have created in our lives align harmoniously with our soul purpose, we often experience a blissful sense of euphoria at times of a Full Moon.  In contrast, during times in which the forms we have created and are living from in our daily life do not adequately align with our soul purpose, we dramatically realize what feels wrong about our life, where it seems we have failed or where we feel a loss of meaning because of the discrepancy between our soul purpose and the forms our personality has been living from in our life.

This self-awareness of the degree to which the structures in our life integrate our soul purpose will be intensified at this year’s Wesak Full Moon because Saturn retrograde in Scorpio will be conjunct the Moon and opposite the Sun.  We recently experienced the exact opposition between the Sun in Taurus and Saturn retrograde in Scorpio on May 10, 2014.  Furthermore, the degree of Scorpio that the Full Moon will hold is the same degree of Scorpio at which Saturn stationed retrograde on March 2, 2014.  Thus on one level, this Full Moon is shining light on our experience of the current Saturn retrograde transit through Scorpio, a transit that began at the same time that Mars stationed retrograde.  Since Mars is beginning to station direct right now, and is ruling the Scorpio Full Moon, Mars will be getting a lot of attention at this time.  However, keep in mind that this Full Moon is not only conjunct Saturn but is aligned with the Saturn retrograde transit:  as a result, we will also want to closely examine where 24 to 19 degrees of Scorpio is in our charts, including aspects, and reflect upon how our experiences since March connect to Saturn.  For example, Saturn retrograde in Scorpio has a strong link to themes of soul purpose and personality form and how the limitations of time and space test each.  In the language of esoteric astrology as taught by Alan Oken, Scorpio is a transformational archetype arising out of the destruction of form.  One may reach a state of relative harmony in one’s life, only to experience a movement of change which rocks our equilibrium and introduces a crisis of our attachment to the past, and our calling toward the future.  Through this crisis a destruction of our previous form commences, and out of this death of form we re-construct a new form that aligns with our developing soul purpose.  This transformational aspect of Scorpio was beautifully summarized by Dane Rudhyar in Zodiacal Signatures:

When Mars’ passion becomes conscious it flings itself, eagle-like, to the source of life and light; or else, frightened, it collapses into meaninglessness and ravenous hunger for the products of death. The sun is so low in late autumn that the eagle may tear from it sparks of divinity; but will the wings collapse burnt by the fire, or will they become translucent poems chanted to the rhythm of light? Will they stir men that are but human into seekers of the star that is their apocalyptic self? Scorpio is the eternal question tearing at the core of all roots under autumnal skies. Will it be death; will it be rebirth?

 

FullMoon14May2014WRIGC1

On the one hand, this Taurus – Scorpio Full Moon illuminates our past process leading to now, including our recent experiences with the Cardinal Cross that occurred in April, as Venus is exactly square Pluto and entering into a conjunction with Uranus at the time of the lunation.  On the other hand, this Full Moon also illuminates the future we enter in every moment, including the next big astrological alignment: the Grand Water Trine of  Saturn retrograde in Scorpio, Jupiter in Cancer, and Chiron in Pisces.  In addition, one can see above that the true node of Black Moon Lilith is also involved in this Grand Water Trine at the time of the Full Moon, being conjunct Jupiter in Cancer.  Since this Full Moon is conjunct Saturn, and the Sun at this time is opposite Saturn, however, it will be beneficial to integrate those qualities that please Saturn, such as discipline, persistence, diligence, organization, structure, and the creation of necessary, appropriate boundaries.  Although Jupiter and Chiron are culminating into an exact trine at this time, it will be another week or so before Chiron and Jupiter reach exact trines with Saturn.  In totality, these harmonious aspects bring a potential for structured expansion closely aligned with our authentic nature and desires linked to our soul purpose, as long as we choose to heroically face down our fears and courageously open ourselves to the universe enfolding ahead of us, despite past wounding that tends to keep us limited to a comfort zone of the status quo.  It is very possible that fears and anxieties arising at this time are directly connected to our process of realizing our authentic nature; it is only through owning these scars and wounds, unashamedly stepping forward on our path, that we will be able to release ourselves from the grip of our past and open ourselves to the  future to come that is more closely bound to our soul purpose.  Saturn retrograde in Scorpio also does not expect us to quickly overcome these past patterns, but rather has a plodding fixed quality that allows us to take our time as longs as we remain steadfastly dedicated to resurrecting our authentic self from the past wounds that have oppressed our full expression.

At the same time, Mars is stationing direct this week and ruling the Full Moon, saturating the astrological landscape in the process.  The Scorpio theme of destruction of form present at this Full Moon can also be viewed through the connection in tarot Mars has with the XVI Tower arcanum, a card aligned with shattering and complete destruction of matter:

Tower

In the past three and a half months we have traversed a chaotic Mars retrograde transit that took us through the Cardinal Cross alignment, an exact square between Uranus and Pluto, and two eclipses.  At the time of this Full Moon, Mercury moving fast in Gemini will be separating away from an exact trine with the red planet, an aspect that in combination with the Scorpio Full Moon can help us reflect upon and integrate our experiences since the beginning of March that have correlated with the Mars retrograde phase.  In connection with the XVI Tower arcanum image above, dramatic change will occur in line with Mars stationing direct, change that could feel unsettling or devastating; yet, in the process a huge amount of energy will be made available, energy released through the destruction of past form. Open yourself at this Full Moon to sense what changes are underway in your life, and where you need to take action.  In this next week following the Full Moon, as Mars finally stations direct on May 19, you will want to be prepared to shift from a mode of inner reflection about what actions to take into an active process of making decisive choices to move forward on the path that calls to you.

Mars is also continuing its intense dance with Venus in mutual reception, as Mars is in the sign of Venus and Venus is in the sign of Mars, moving away from an exact opposition a few days ago.  Venus and Mars at their opposition point, with Mars stationing direct in Libra, and Venus moving direct in Aries, emphasizes listening in the evolutionary astrology paradigm taught by Jeffrey Wolf Green.  At this time we are called to strike a balance between focusing on the willful assertion of our unique values and vision (Venus in Aries) and listening to the needs and values of others we are in relationship with (Mars in Libra).  In this process, we will also need to utilize Saturn in Scorpio to help us create boundaries in our relationships that protect our authentic nature from manipulation from others, while interacting and at times merging resources with others in the world around us.  Through the recent waxing gibbous phase between Venus and Mars retrograde, we have had the opportunity to utilize the retrograde Mars energy to inwardly adjust how our soul relates to itself and others.  We can now reap the benefit of this inward adjustment by learning to relate to others as an equal in relationship, learning how to give, and to receive what the soul needs through the giving.  Through this process, we will likewise be learning how to integrate our specific soul values, needs, and desires into society and our surrounding social reality.  We will benefit from cultivating an ability to truly listen to others, because as a result we will be able to give to others what they truly need, instead of what we think that they need.

Yet, with Venus in Aries this means maintaining boundaries to support our own well-being and sustain connection with our unique self, in order to not lose touch with our authenticity through our interactions with others.  It is important to remember that truly listening to others, learning to give what others truly need, does not make us a push-over but rather allows us to create truly mutually beneficial relationships with others.  Venus in Aries can get upset when it does not get its way, while Mars in Libra is more likely to be offensively charming in order to ensure that it gets its way.  In contrast, we can use the polarity between these personal planets to destroy our attachment to getting our way or arguing to come out on top, instead standing strong in our self while truly listening to the values and views of others without feeling competitive or threatened if their views are not only different from ours, but critical of our own views. Instead, through listening to others we may hear a new perspective to help shift our own perspective into greater alignment with our soul purpose, a missing piece to not only our own puzzle, but a universal one.

Adding to the intensity at the time of the Full Moon, Venus will be conjunct Uranus in Aries.   The Sun being in Taurus, the sign of Venus, at the time of the Full Moon further adds to her influence at this time.   In Zodiacal Signatures, Dane Rudhyar gave an illuminating description of Taurus through focusing on Venus:

Out of the cubic Stone of matter, differentiated into a myriad of crystalline structures, the flowing curves of living bodies take form.  They open themselves to the power of light, carrying within its compassionate song the promise of individual existence.  Venus, builder of magnetic fields that capture the electrical impulses of the creative spirit, brings to a focus the promise of wholeness, of fulfillment in love – a love that forever sings of the overcoming of pain and crucifixion.

The “cross” of this “crucifixion” symbolically connects not only to the recent Cardinal Cross alignment in astrology, but also to the 4th Ray nature of the Taurus – Scorpio polarity of the current Full Moon.  Any cross has a meeting in the center, the core, or the heart: and so, no matter how many obstacles appear to be surrounding us in our environment, the electrifying union of Venus and Uranus in Aries at this time has the power to burn through obstructions in our outer and inner experience.  Out of the flames of this destruction, a more fully realized sense of self may emerge.

A strong embodiment to me of Taurus solar energy combined with a Venus in Aries marked by Uranus is the artist Kim Gordon (pictured below).  Through her work in past avant garde bands like Sonic Youth and current ones like Body/Head, Kim remained dedicated to her own vision of art and music with the personal integrity to take strong stands against the status quo and in support of feminism and segments of society lacking an equal voice, creating a unique form of music that deconstructed past patterns of rock and roll. By staying dedicated to her personal values, across time Kim was able to integrate her work deeper into mainstream society and influence multitudes of youth across international boundaries and borders.  Indeed, at the age of sixty-one, Kim recently rocked at least as hard as any much younger rock star when she fronted the remaining members of Nirvana at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, singing and screaming the song, “Aneurysm” (you can find this online).

Kim Gordon - Taurus

Kim Gordon, born April 28, 1953

In this week of the Full Moon, Venus in Aries is incredibly active and vital to pay attention to:

  • May 11, 2014:  Venus in Aries opposite Mars retrograde in Libra
  • May 14, 2014:  Venus in Aries square Pluto retrograde in Capricorn
  • May 15, 2014:  Venus in Aries conjunct Uranus in Aries
    • Venus in Aries sextile Mercury in Gemini
  • May 17, 2014:  Venus in Aries opposite Vesta retrograde in Libra
  • May 18, 2014:  Venus in Aries square Jupiter in Cancer
  • May 19, 2014:  Venus in Aries opposite Ceres retrograde in Libra
  • May 22, 2014:  Venus in Aries conjunct Eris in Aries
  • May 26, 2014:  Venus in Aries conjunct the South Node of the Moon in Aries

Look for the movement from the location of 10 degrees to 28 degrees of Aries in your chart to see where Venus is transiting during the above series of aspects.  Working with Venus at this time toward the issues connecting with the house she is moving across in your chart can result in tremendous growth for you in the associated areas of your life.  Indeed, as Venus moves away from her opposition with Mars, she makes the most powerful aspects to a series of pivotal planets, asteroids, and outer celestial bodies in roughly a week, to be followed a few days later by a union with the South Node of the Moon.  Venus is taking us into the heart of the matter, our core patterns and issues, and in Aries she will be one demanding goddess.  Venus wants nothing less of us than to face our fears, release our attachment to vengeance and past betrayals, and to boldly step forward into a Grand Water Trine as Mars finally stations direct to move forward again.

In addition to being the Wesak Full Moon, this time is also a Lunar Beltane, the Full Moon of the Full Season (Spring or Autumn, depending upon your hemisphere).  This traditional pagan holiday connects with the past pagan holiday of Candlemas on January 31, when Venus stationed direct conjunct Pluto. The exact beginning of the current Venus and Pluto cycle began in November 2013, but the New Moon that occurred on Candlemas with them closely conjunct after a long Venus retrograde cycle is an important moment in time to return to in reflection now.  What has transpired since then?  At the time of this Full Moon we have finally reached the first quarter square aspect between Venus and Pluto, all the more electric and shocking to our system with a conjunction between Venus and Uranus.  No matter what obstacles appear to be in our way at this time, know that this is not a time to back down in fear but instead to live in passion from our heart, in alignment with our authenticity.  If we are on our path, and truly listening to others in our environment, no doubt we can also create some new alliances and friendships at this time to help propel us further into our soul purpose.

The rising crescendo of the impending Full Moon, the feeling of expansion and contraction that correlates with a Venus – Uranus union in square to Pluto, with Jupiter in trine to Saturn, is found in my opinion in this song by Sonic Youth sung by Kim Gordon:

Taking it all to heart. Feel it in your bones. Listen with your heart. Feel it in your soul.  Know your truth. Walk your truth.

Next week as Venus aligns first with Eris and then the South Node of the Moon in Aries, we will experience an exact disseminating trine between Jupiter in Cancer and Saturn in Scorpio.  As a result, at this time we are entering a Grand Water Trine involving Jupiter, Saturn, and Chiron, and so to get the most out of this we want to be on our path and focused on the beloved desires of our soul.  Keep in mind that a Grand Water Trine can cause emotional swirling – this can be like a blissful, adventurous float down a river, a lazy day getting burned by the sun lake-side, or more like the experience of a tumultuous typhoon.  No doubt there will be stress and sources of potential fear emerging around us, given the nature of recent astrological and world events. Yet if we can focus on what we truly want to manifest, what strikes us to the core of our soul and being, we could end up in the arms of our true beloved sooner than we may realize.

then-said-the-king-in-himself-1948

Marc Chagall (1948) Then said the King in himself

References

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

Oken, Alan. (1990). Soul Centered Astrology: A Key to Your Expanding Self. Ibis.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1976). Zodiacal Signatures. Stellar Energy Exchange.

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.

Rites of Lilith: Venus stations at a New Moon in Aquarius

rites-of-lilith

Venus Stations Direct conjunct Pluto

  • Venus stations direct on January 31, 2014 at 13º34′ conjunct Pluto in Capricorn (12:49 pm PST).

  • January 31 to February 1 is the traditional time of Imbolc, a holiday at the cross-quarter between the Solstice and Equinox (by zodiac degree, however, this will be happening more like February 3 – 4 when the Sun hits 15 Aquarius).

  • There is a NEW MOON on January 3o at 11 Aquarius at 1:38 pm PST, the day before Venus stations direct.

  • LILITH in her triple form is activated by this New Moon.  The asteroid Lilith (#1181) will be at 14 Leo (retrograde) opposite the New Moon.  The true node of Black Moon Lilith will be at 2 Leo squaring the North and South Nodes of the Moon in Scorpio and Taurus.  The Dark Moon (or Waldemath) Lilith will be at 25 Taurus opposite to Saturn in Scorpio.

Anytime Venus is stationing brings added intensity as she stands still from our geocentric perspective, concentrating Venusian themes in our lives and drawing us to face or contemplate our inner relationship with her archetype.  However, this week is more intense than normal, as Venus is stationing conjunct Pluto in Capricorn and in direct opposition to Jupiter retrograde in Cancer.  Additionally, less than twenty-four hours before she officially stations direct, there is a New Moon in Aquarius which also ushers in the Chinese New Year of the Wood Horse.  The day of Venus stationing direct is also a holiday in Gaelic and other “pagan” cultures, the traditional time of Imbolc which is at the cross-quarter of the Solstice and Equinox, heralding the coming Equinox.  In the Northern Hemisphere this is also the time of our “groundhog day” when we look to a groundhog to tell us when Spring is approaching.

The South Node of the Moon at this time is still in Taurus, ruled by Venus.  Whether your astrological frame of reference calls you to consider the transiting South Node of the Moon to be an indication of personal or collective past lives, connections, comfort, or attachments, most likely you have a sense of the Lunar South Node indicating a comfort zone of security in one form or another, like a habit impossible to break without conscious work and effort.  Add in a square from Uranus in Aries to Venus, and you can see how Venus is highly charged at the moment for all of us (though anyone with planets or angles at 11-15 degrees of cardinal signs should especially take note).  As many people have a perspective that connects Venus to goddesses, the divine feminine, and mythic heroines, her influence at this time in conjunction to Pluto and in opposition to Jupiter is even more pronounced when you factor in the placement of Lilith in her astrological forms at this time.

Lilith has become a popular archetype in astrology in relation to Black Moon Lilith, the empty focal point of the Moon’s orbit that some calculate through the true node, others the mean node.  From my own experience, I have come to favor the true node placement, but both the true and mean nodes of Black Moon Lilith at this time are significant:  the true node of Black Moon Lilith is in square to the lunar nodes, resolving toward the South Node that Venus is ruling, and the mean node of Black Moon Lilith is in Cancer in opposition to the degree of Capricorn that Venus stationed retrograde on the December solstice of 2013.  There is also a Lilith asteroid #1181 that is moving retrograde in opposition to the Aquarius New Moon on January 30.  Finally, there is also the Dark Moon or Waldemath Lilith, a more controversial Lilith placement that I personally do not use much, but that Demetra George and others have integrated into this triple goddess form of Lilith for precisely the reason that its controversial nature reflects the Lilith archetype to such a large degree.  Speaking of Demetra George, I utilize her triple goddess theory of the meaning of Lilith that looks to the Lilith asteroid as a point of wounding, repression, or suppression that potentially can erupt into anger from us and cause us to become alienated or ostracized (this point is being triggered by the Aquarius New Moon).  Along these lines, the Dark Moon or Waldemath Lilith is a point where we can gain a vengeful rage of indignation at our persecutors and develop an unhelpful victim mentality that can get us into difficult situations (this point is being triggered by Saturn in Scorpio).  Finally, in this context the Black Moon Lilith placement is the resolution point where we can work through and integrate this past wounding or repression, cut away delusional or false aspects of ourselves or patterns, and come into more of an authentic presence reflecting more of our true nature (this point is being triggered by the lunar nodes).  The energy of the Black Moon Lilith is like the Dark Goddess of the Dark Moon phase in the lunar cycle, a clearing energy to prepare for the new phase, perfect for a New Moon in which Venus is stationing direct conjunct Pluto.  However, since the true node of Black Moon Lilith is in a square to the lunar nodes at this time, it suggest that what needs to be cut or cleared may be an intense issue or pattern we have been deeply attached to:   in other words, shifting whatever this pattern may be will be much easier said than done.

The ability of Black Moon Lilith to help us cut away what is false in our thoughts and beliefs goes well with the Sabian symbol for 14 Capricorn where Venus is stationing direct: “an ancient bas-relief carved in granite remains a witness to a long-forgotten culture.” Dane Rudhyar in his Astrological Mandala found the keynote for this symbol to be “The will to unearth, in our culture as well as in any culture, what has permanent value, and to let go of nonessentials” (p. 237).   Lilith for many is a long forgotten goddess or heroine of wisdom who was cast out and ostracized from Biblical, monotheistic religion and portrayed as a deadly femme fatale of evil seduction, when upon closer inspection of myth we get a sense that all she wanted to do was be on an equal level of power to Adam and preserve a sense of her own independence in their relationship.  The following quote from Joseph Campbell (in a new book published in December 2013 when Venus was first conjunct Pluto and entering her retrograde shadow zone) cuts with insight to the core problem resulting from traditional monotheistic interpretations of the Bible that neglect the divine feminine:

Freud asks in “Moses and Monotheism” why it was that just when all the other peoples of the eastern Mediterranean were learning to read their myths poetically, the Jews became more confirmed than ever in the concretist (Freud calls it “religious”) way of interpreting their idea of God.  The obvious reason, I would say, is that both they and their tribal deity failed to realize that the waters of the Deep (tehom) over which Elohim was brooding and blowing in the first two verses of Genesis I was not just water, but the old Babylonian goddess of the primeval sea herself, Tiamat (ti’amat), and that his failure to appreciate the poetry of her presence there was the beginning of his whole misunderstanding even of himself.  It was to her, his cosmological wife, that he should have turned to listen, occasionally, when moved to throw the Book at their disobedient children.

–Joseph Campbell, Goddesses, p. xxv

Lilith is a polarizing figure in myth and religious doctrine that goes well with the polarity between Jupiter retrograde in Cancer opposing the conjunction of Pluto and Venus stationing direct in Capricorn.  On the one hand, if we are fixated on a particular belief system and lock horns in argument with another individual with an opposing belief system they are equally fixated upon and attached to, we could come into great conflict at this time in the outer world of mundane events.  On an inner personal level, however, I see the totality of these archetypal signs indicating an opportunity for us to do deep inner cathartic work on the ideas and thoughts operating inside us, that we act from, the sort of habitual patterns we have been living from and at times forgetting we have the power of choice to work on and change if they are not in alignment with what we want to attract and manifest in our lives.  Leading up to this New Moon and Venus stationing is an opportune time to do the inner work of lovingly questioning ourselves and our inner relationship with our Self, becoming more aware of how we talk to ourselves or emotionally react to a triggering comment from everyone from a passing stranger to an intimate partner.

Indeed, the sabian symbol for this New Moon at 11 Aquarius is “during a silent hour, a man receives new inspiration which may change his life.”  Dane Rudhyar even connected the inner work revealed through this sabian symbol with our “need to rely upon inner inspiration and guidance at the start of new developments,” again another fitting correspondence to a New Moon with Venus stationing (p. 255).  Rudhyar described this process as finding the “value of keeping open to the descent of spiritual or Soul forces, especially when a new period of individual activity is about to begin” (p. 255).  To connect with our Soul requires work, effort, and the use of our Will:  the term “transformation” is often used in this context because it can feel like we are becoming a new person, even though it may accurately be more like becoming the person we truly were the entire time underneath it all.  There is one more part of Rudhyar’s interpretation of this New Moon sabian symbol I want to include here, because it also connects this process to the creation of art and what we can find within when we are willing to take the solitary dive inside of ourselves:  “There is a creative power within, a power that can be tapped, or rather that should be allowed to flow into the brain-consciousness or the hands which write or fashion materials into original forms” (p. 255).  True, that:  making art, writing, or any other creative act that can help us process our emotions at this time is felicitous.

Jupiter retrograde in Cancer opposing Venus and Pluto in Capricorn can relate to the family karma we know from our own lifetime, as well as more ancestral karma we may get inklings of from time to time.  Since Jupiter and Venus are both synthesizers that can transcend the challenge of their current polarity, setting intentions at this time to clear the issues that we are not truly responsible for, and to face and be accountable for the karma and patterns we are responsible for can be very powerful.  Venus can be the fire in an alchemical process of these elements, by allowing ourselves to feel the burning sense of what is truly passionate and joyful at our core, there is a new presence for ourselves to feel and embody that brings together the polarity represented by Cancer Jupiter retrograde/Capricorn Pluto.  Jupiter is capable of great projection from a deep inner realm of bottom line principles and thoughts, like an underworld ruled by Pluto, we live from.  Any external conflict at this time can be utilized to reveal past inner dynamics we have been perceiving and intuiting from that are ultimately limiting for us, that we have been operating from more as a result of the conditioning from our early childhood, family, or society more so than our true nature.  Now is the time to set intention for any such inner adjustments or modifications.

Pluto usually has a regenerative quality to the intensity of his aspects, and so whatever Venusian tumult we could be experiencing on a Jupiter-like scale at this time most likely is offering us something to work on to become more aware of our soul and true presence.  Jupiter always wants us to grow, so moving retrograde in Cancer in opposition to Pluto in Capricorn is calling for a descent into the inner emotional feeling realm for greater Self-awareness.  The fact the exact opposition of Jupiter and Pluto at this time is fairly close in orb to a t-square with Uranus in Aries is a reflection to the years of 1968-1969 when Jupiter, Uranus, and Pluto were in a triple conjunction.  In Cosmos and Psyche Richard Tarnas noted this time was like the peak culmination of many 1960 themes involving the Pluto-Uranus conjunction in Virgo we are now feeling the first square from:  riots like Stonewall and the Chicago 8, protests, Woodstock, and notable for the type of inner work I am speaking of, this was also the time in which Stanislov Grof founded Transpersonal psychology, James Hillman founded Archetypal Psychology, and the man formerly known as Richard Alpert stepped into being Ram Dass.  During this past month, if we have been utilizing the Venus retrograde cycle for a spiritual or artistic practice of some sort that has been working with and releasing a lot of the energy that otherwise could have built up in this time, we have an amazing opportunity at this time to birth a new presence for ourselves.  However, no matter our recent experiences, this is an important New Moon on which to set a clear intention going forward.

In the chart below for the New Moon on January 30, you can see how the true node for Black Moon Lilith is in square to the lunar nodes.  Again, the mean node of Black Moon Lilith can be placed into this chart at 26 degrees of Cancer (opposite the degree that Venus stationed retrograde on December 21, 2013), the Lilith asteroid #1181 can be placed at 14 degrees of Leo retrograde (opposite the New Moon), and the Dark Moon or Waldemath Lilith can be placed at 25 degrees of Taurus (opposite Saturn in Scorpio):

AquariusNewMoon2014WRIGC1

If we have been experiencing some recent events that have triggered feelings of past repression, suppression, judgment, alienation, or persecution, if the archetype of Lilith being active at this New Moon and Venus stationing feels resonant for you, then there is also a strong possibility of this past wound being opened wide at this time.  But in the end this can lead to the sort of heart opening that makes true healing possible, the type of healing that allows us to move forward no longer burdened by that past pain or repressive pattern any longer.  Remember, even though Venus is stationing direct, she will still be in her retrograde shadow zone until March 4, 2014 which will also take us through an entire Mercury retrograde cycle (most of February 2014) and into the beginning of a Mars retrograde transit in Libra (March 1 – April 20, 2014).  The fact that this New Moon with Venus stationing leads us into Mercury stationing retrograde a week later in conjunction to Neptune in Pisces makes it even more important to state very clear intentions for ourselves at this time.  What do we truly want, not out of a sense of need, but out of a true sense of what will bring us joy?  We have a full Mercury retrograde cycle, and then the beginning of a Mars retrograde cycle to experience before Venus will finally leave her retrograde shadow zone, so there is still a lot of inner work to be done even though we may become increasingly called to focus on external events and actions.  Today and the Imbolc season that follows is a perfect time to re-assess and re-form our purpose, vision, and goals moving forward.

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Mark Rothko and Venus Retrograde

As we are entering a time in which we are leaving a Venus retrograde transit only to enter a Mercury retrograde cycle as Venus is still moving through her retrograde shadow zone, a historical figure I feel is interesting to consider is the artist Mark Rothko, born with a Mercury retrograde in Libra and a Venus retrograde in Virgo.  If you noticed, this means his Mercury and Venus were in mutual reception, with his retrograde Venus ruling his retrograde Mercury, and his retrograde Mercury ruling his retrograde Venus.  Fitting to such a natal aspect, Mark Rothko was a deeply contemplative artist whose artistic expression and perception were rooted to his core inner Self more so than consensus cultural norms of society or the art world.  When we work with planets moving in retrograde, we have the opportunity to turn inward to find new ideas and ideals we can ultimately bring forth into the world.  The progression of Mark Rothko’s art in his lifetime was a fascinating example of this internal/external process in motion.

For example, in the painting “Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea” above, Rothko had entered a new phase in his art in which he was painting with greater abstraction:  this painting supposedly relates in some ways to his romance with the woman who became his second wife, while some have also interpreted it as integrating a reference to Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus.”  In any event, the energy of love, movement, passion, and music found in the image certainly connect to Venus, but the more abstract depiction of Venusian themes is what had changed in this period of Rothko’s art.  Previous to this period, Rothko painted more realistic depictions of ideas that often connected to myth and other subjects of timeless meaning.  Rothko was known to be a great admirer of Nietzsche, Carl Jung, James Joyce, and T.S. Eliot, with the sort of internal, mythic perception of soul in matter found in people with Mercury and Venus retrograde in their charts.  Eventually, Rothko shifted into further, or maybe better said, purer abstraction in a style that has been called “multi-form” and involved large fields of color:  this is the style that ultimately brought him his greatest fame.  About his art at this time, he made a very Mercury/Venus retrograde statement of saying, “my paintings’ surfaces are expansive and push outward in all directions, or their surfaces contract and rush inward in all directions. Between these two poles, you can find everything I want to say” (wikipedia).  The depth of feeling he put into his work was further exemplified when he said he was only interested in “expressing basic human emotions — tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on. And the fact that a lot of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions . . . The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationship, then you miss the point” (wikipedia).

The painting “Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea” above, as well as the painting at the beginning of this post, “Rites of Lilith,” were both shown in 1945 following a dramatic shift in Rothko’s art.  In a letter to the Art Editor of the New York Times you can read here, Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb articulated a manifesto expressing a re-visioning of their art away from a more literal representation of myth in their painting into a form inspired by surrealist and abstract art from Europe.  This letter came out immediately following Mercury stationing direct in June of 1943, still in its shadow zone.  A few months later in August of 1943 there would be a Venus retrograde transit of Virgo matching the same Venus retrograde cycle in which Rothko was born.  Thus this shift in the art of Rothko (which would become even more dramatic in a few more years) was a good example of Mercury-Venus inner work, an inner change of values, ultimately re-emerging into a new vision for external manifestation.  This is exactly the sort of opportunity available for all of us at this time, in whatever realm of thought and action your current interests are found.   Here are a few of their key points found in their manifesto:

  1. To us art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risks.
  2. This world of the imagination is fancy-free and violently opposed to common sense.
  3. It is our functions as artists to make the spectator see the world our way—not his way.
  4. We favor the simple expression of the complex thought. We are for the large shape because it has the impact of the unequivocal. We wish to reassert the picture plane. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth.
  5. It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it  is well painted. This is the essence of academicism. There is no such thing as good painting about nothing. We assert that the subject is crucial and only that subject matter is valid which is tragic and timeless. That is why we profess spiritual kinship with primitive and archaic art.

Over a half century later, excerpts from this manifesto appeared in a song crafted by another artist with a link to retrograde personal planets, Kathleen Hannah, born on November 12, 1968 with a Scorpio Mercury direct a few degrees out of it’s retrograde shadow zone of October 3-23, 1968 when she was in her mother’s womb:

Of course, Kathleen Hannah is no stranger to manifestos as she wrote a Riot Grrrl manifesto including lines like “BECAUSE we don’t wanna assimilate to someone else’s (boy) standards of what is or isn’t” and “BECAUSE we are interested in creating non-hierarchical ways of being and making music, friends, and scenes based on communication + understanding, instead of competition + good/bad categorizations.” She is a strong example of how to use a Mars in Libra with power and force for social justice through art (she also has a Uranus conjunct Mars in Libra, also conjunct Jupiter at the very end of Virgo).  As Mars in Libra in March will station retrograde following the upcoming Mercury retrograde in Pisces and Aquarius (that’s going to be February 2014), we will no doubt hear from many astrologers how Mars “doesn’t like” being in the sign of Libra.  Look no further than Kathleen Hannah to learn you can kick ass with Mars in Libra when working for social change.  Now is a good time to figure out where you want to re-focus your energy to ultimately become the change you want to see in the world.

References

Campbell, Joseph. (2013). Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine. New World.

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

Rothko, Mark. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Rothko

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

Asteria Alchemy of Asteroid Goddesses

T15.1Asteria

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

–Demetra George, Asteroid Goddesses, page 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Demetra George, Asteroid Goddesses, page 5 -6

CHT163393Ceres in Libra

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

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

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

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

hestia-2Vesta in Libra

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

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

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

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

athena by klimtPallas Athene in Virgo

It pleases Pallas Athene to be in Virgo, a zodiac sign with strong associations to her archetype.  However, she must now face the Ocean God as Pallas Athene in Virgo is opposite Neptune in Pisces.  In myth, Pallas Athene has already proven herself worthy of defeating Poseidon as they each competed to be the ruler of Athens and Pallas Athene won through her gift of the olive tree that was selected for its beauty and functionality, its practical use in healing, shelter, and other expressions that benefit society.  Similarly, Pallas Athene being in Virgo at this time also lends us a powerful archetypal tool-set to utilize in our personal and collective projects.  Just as Jupiter along with Pallas Athene were held in highest regard in classical Greece, so today can we not only utilize Jupiter being in Cancer to assist us in our endeavors, but also draw from Pallas Athene in Virgo to help us, in her case through a sharpened focus and discernment to penetrate to the core of any issue with her analysis.  In opposition to Neptune in Pisces, however, she must be careful of delusion and illusion, falling under the influence of blind faith or an inability to distinguish between what is real and unreal in our environment.  Yet, these potential pitfalls of Neptune being in opposition to Pallas Athene are the exact sort of obstacles that Pallas Athene being in Virgo is equipped to combat:  in Virgo, according to Demetra George, Pallas Athene has an “analytical perception” that can sense “the essence of things in their simplest forms apart from the surrounding superfluous complications,” like “separating the wheat from the chaff” or “the wisdom of discrimination” (page 103).

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

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

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

junoJuno in Aquarius

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

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

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

References

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

Solar Eclipse Clearing on a Hekate Moon

owl in the waning moon ohara koson, woodblock

Samhain Threshold

Samhain is the ancient Celtic celebration of the mid-point between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice that is traditionally celebrated on the night of October 31 or dawn of November 1, our traditional Halloween holiday in Western culture, similar to how Beltane is traditionally celebrated on May 1. If you want to get all Virgo on this Pisces astrologer, you could also look at the time when the Scorpio Sun reaches 15 degrees of Scorpio (which will not be until next week around November 6th), but since we continue today to celebrate Halloween on October 31 and the Day of the Dead or All Saint’s Day on November 1, we have already entered the time to focus with our Samhain intentions. Samhain traditionally is the night in which the veils between our material dimension and the “other” dimensions become more thin and open, a threshold that is more easily crossed at this time than any other:

Samhain (prounounced sow-en), the Celtic New Year, now celebrated as Halloween, is a night that falls in neither the old year nor the new one. It is a “time outside of time,” when the veils between the worlds are lifted and much trafficking takes place between spirits and mortals. Boundaries are eliminated, spirits are afoot. In Scotland it is called a “night of mischief and confusion” . . . Property can be damaged, food and treats can be demanded, hospitality overrules the locked door and gated fence, boundaries between what is mine and yours are temporarily repealed. Tricksters seek admittance to others’ homes, even as spirits from the Otherworld seek entry into this world. On Samhain we are reminded that doorways are open, thresholds are bridgeable, and the ordinary and nonordinary intermingle . . . Traditionally Samhain is a night for divination . . . The reason divinatory practices are so successful on this night is that the boundaries between time are lifted. On November’s Eve the present and the future merge, and what lies ahead can be foreseen on the present moment.

–Tom Cowan, Fire in the Head: Shamanism and the Celtic Spirit, p. 55

On Halloween the Washington Post published an excellent and concise article on the past and present meaning of Samhain by Starhawk in which she writes, “The time of death is also the year’s rebirth,” “Halloween tells us to connect, to forge bonds of love that death cannot sever, to support one another as we face those things that are hard to face alone,” and “Know that you are an ancestor of the future, and your choices, your actions, your human hands can turn the wheel of fate.”

In astrology, the times of eclipses are also considered threshold experiences, as well as Mercury retrograde time periods, particularly when Mercury has it’s inferior conjunction with the Sun. Dark Moons in general also have an association with threshold experiences such as disorientation and Great Mystery that can source a rebirth for our being while in reception with otherworldy transmissions. Amazingly, all of these occurrences are happening simultaneously on Samhain this year, at the same time as an exact square between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn, the fourth of the current cycle of seven squares ending in 2015.

Recent news events have continued to be intense and cataclysmic, even reaching to the apocalyptic such as the Japances plans to clear radioactive used fuel assemblies that could trigger unprecedented radiation explosion and exposure if mishandled. On a personal level, we may have been receiving invitations from our environment to enter into drama by impulsively reacting to triggers on our emotions. The more we can release, clear, and let go of at this time, the better we will be able to navigate through the portal of astrological intensity and use the upcoming Solar Eclipse to help birth a new vision for ourselves rather than drown inside currents of past despair. Of course advising someone to let go, or even saying to yourself that you are letting go, are all much easier said than done as most of us human beings grasp to our personal status quo or comfort zones with all of our might.  Indeed, many astrologers have taken a cautionary stance of trepidation toward the energy symbolized within the chart of the November 3 Solar Eclipse you can see below, which does indeed contain many signs of intensity:

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However, although in the outer world there may indeed be some tragic tales we will hear about, on a personal level this need not be a doom and gloom time. The Great Awakener Uranus is shaking things up, but if we can clear the space to receive, channel, and direct this energy, we could catalyze ourselves forward into unprecedented dimensions from our previous experiences.  Our consensus reality is shifting into the unknown, and part of the great fear and paranoia visible in commercial media and social media could be tied to the inability of many to fully reckon with the changes set in motion.  If we are resisting the implications of our changing reality, if we have been fixated on an entrenched belief system or thought pattern from our past, if we have become overly attached to possessions or people against all signs that a letting go aligns with our actual growth, then the square to Uranus from Pluto could bring some cataclysmic crisis that could force us to lose what we have been resisting releasing. Yet if we can move into a space to let go of and release aspects of our past identity, relationships, and beliefs, branches of our tree of life that are ready to be blown off by the impending ecliptic storm, then we will be able to integrate the regenerative aspect of Pluto into our life and find the gem inside of what could otherwise feel like a disruptive and rocky experience.

If you have planets in between seven and fourteen degrees of Scorpio you will need to pay particular attention to how this solar eclipse is impacting your chart, but in general it is helpful to pinpoint where in your chart this eclipse at twelve degrees of Scorpio is occurring and any aspects it is making. Combined with the other transits of this time, you will be especially impacted if you have any planets in between seven and fourteen degrees of fixed or cardinal signs, but people with planets between seven and fourteen degrees of mutable signs will also be impacted by the role of Mars in Virgo and Chiron in Pisces in this witches brew of celestial spheres.

At a recent talk my astrology teacher Rosie Finn described the square between Uranus and Pluto during this Dark Moon as being about the fourth chakra and giving us the opportunity between now and the next square between Uranus and Pluto to work on bridging the work of our lower chakras with the transmissions from the upper chakras we could potentially integrate from Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. To do this lower chakra work means working on our personal issues represented by the personal planets of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Mars, all of which will be extremely active in the upcoming time period: the Moon with these eclipses, Mercury with its current retrograde and rebirth, Mars being sextile to Mercury retrograde and the solar eclipse, and Venus as a bright evening star that will eventually station retrograde on the Winter Solstice of 2013. At this time of a Dark Moon leading into a Solar Eclipse, I want to focus on the lunar aspect of our personal clearing, and the synchronicity that two of the most powerful Goddesses of myth, Hekate and Artemis, are both active at the time of the Solar Eclipse through their manifestations as asteroids in astrology.

William-Blakes-Hecate

Hekate Dark Moon

. . . Hecate, crow black and with a shining crown . . . No woman knew the paths that linked earth and underworld better than she.

— Roberto Calasso The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, page 221

It is during this final waning phase [of the Moon] that the Goddess manifests as the crone or wise old woman. Hecate, the so-called goddess of the witches, represents this phase. She had knowledge of herbs and magic elixirs, folk healing and the control of weather . . . Hecate was also the goddess of the crossroads (where witches were believed to perform their rituals), and this is reminiscent of the neolithic, for the cross of the four directions was a lunar symbol in those days.

–Ariel Guttman & Kenneth Johnson, Mythic Astrology, page 68

The synchronicity of asteroid transits with their mythic meaning within the larger context of celestial patterns continues to astound me anytime I begin to question whether or not paying attention to the asteroids is important. A perfect example at the moment is that the Libra Dark Moon that occured on the night of Halloween in the Pacific time zone where I live was conjunct the asteroid Hecate (#100) at the exact time it was opposite Uranus in Aries and in square to Pluto in Capricorn. The exact square between Uranus and Pluto occured exactly five hours later after they were each triggered by this Hekate Dark Moon. At the time of the Solar Eclipse on November 3, the Hecate asteroid will still be in opposition to Uranus and in square to Pluto.

Hekate is a goddess of the Moon and crossroads who is associated chiefly with the Dark Moon phase by modern astrologer and mythologists. Some of us may be obviously facing an important decision between different paths at this time, whereas for others the fact that you are at a crossroads may feel more subtle on the surface. Yet the deep Scorpio and Plutonic transits at this time means that all of us are going to be experiencing core shifts of our circumstances in the upcoming time. A sense of divination, the feeling that one can intuit the path into the future at this time of crossroads is fitting for Hekate, as she is one of the most ancient goddesses with a myth saturated in Mystery. If you are interested in reading more of an analysis of Hekate’s mythic meaning, please check the following link to a recent article written by Monika of the Symbol Reader blog: http://symbolreader.net/2013/10/27/hekate-the-goddess-of-the-crossroads/

As Monika pointed out in the blog article linked above, there is a clear affinity that both Hekate and Hermes share for navigating between the upper and underworlds and to transmit messages divinated from signs, symbols, and omens. This is especially the case now, as Mercury is invisible and in the underworld phase of its retrograde journey, reaching its conception point for rebirth (or inferior conjunction with the Sun) on November 1 about ten hours after the exact square between Uranus and Pluto. In order to rebirth our Mercury function and vision at this time we need to effectively do the dark moon clearing and releasing of Hekate, and in case you are having trouble figuring out what to release make sure you are opening your mind to what sorts of symbols, signs, synchronicity, and omens are pointing you toward in your environment. Change is extremely difficult for most people, but there are most likely significant shifts occurring under the surface of your reality even if on the surface it may seem in the moment like your normal routine. The more we let go of who or what needs releasing now, the more we open to ourselves to the potential of a profound and catalytic growth we can seed at the Solar Eclipse on November 3.

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Artemis Guides through the Dark

In contrast to Hekate, Artemis aka Diana is often associated with the Maiden or New Moon phase instead of the Crone or Dark Moon phase, with her bow symbolizing the early stage waxing of a Crescent Moon. The Solar Eclipse of November 3 will be one of the most intense New Moons imaginable, and it’s waxing into a Crescent phase will correspond with the last week of the current Mercury retrograde phase in Scorpio, with the Sun becoming conjunct Saturn in Scorpio, and Jupiter stationing retrograde in Cancer. Artemis is further linked into this time through her asteroid #105 at the time of the Solar Eclipse being tightly conjunct Saturn in Scorpio at 13°44′, only nine minutes away from Saturn. Almost exactly conjunct Saturn in Scorpio by minutes, the Artemis asteroid is also conjunct the Solar Eclipse, only two degrees away, and also in range of being conjunct Mercury and the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio.

Artemis being conjunct Saturn, the Solar Eclipse, Mercury retrograde, and the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio carries the meaning of us re-connecting with our true instinctual Self, our inner Artemis who runs free through the forests of the night with a pure heart and her animal companions. In Mythic Astrology Ariel Guttman and Kenneth Johnson describe the new and crescent phase of the Lunar Goddess as being “complete unto herself,” “apart from committed relationships,” “sexually active (the nymph) or virginal (the maiden), but in either case she is still pure, innocent, hopeful” (p. 67). Thus, the timing of us re-conceiving our Mercury into rebirth through the Scorpio conjunction of the Sun with Mercury retrograde is coinciding with us taking the responsibility to release the weight of our past in order to return to our pure instinctual Artemis Self, corresponding with the conjunction between the Artemis asteroid and Saturn in Scorpio.  I certainly do not mean by this that you should feel hopeful about life because of the trauma or oppression you have experienced, but instead mean the visceral and vital state of mind we can reach when we are fully done with a past issue that has weighed us down heavily, or maybe sometimes the tragedies just somehow make us feel more alive and in love with the future potential of the moment than ever before.  Instead of cynically rebuking life and refusing to live, through Artemis we courageously charge forward with an equine grace to our stride, like a deer effortlessly surmounting an obstacle.  Perhaps our rebirth necessitates us facing the End, or at least feeling like we are approaching Death; perhaps it is easier for us at times of chaos or crisis to access the kundalini current inside us and actualize our full creative, instinctual Self.  What may feel at first like the leaden weight of Saturn at this time may ultimately be what centers and opens us to the Artemis inside.

Ariel Guttman and Kenneth Johnson in Mythic Astrology further analyze the mythic associations of Artemis by explaining that her link with the Moon came from the Romans connecting Diana with the Moon, as to the Greeks she was known more as the “Lady of Wild Beasts,” a mythic archetype that further links her with the astrological sign of Sagitarius (p. 63). Linking Artemis with Sagitarius further connects Artemis with Venus at this time, shining bright in the night as an Evening Star in Sagitarius. At the time of the Solar Eclipse, Venus will be near the end of her journey through Sagitarius and conjunct the Galactic Center.

Venus in Sagitarius burning so bright and so beautiful to behold in the night sky is a fitting guide through the darkness of this time. In connection with Artemis, we can sense how returning to nature at this time, making sure we make time to re-connect with the woods and the Earth perhaps on a solitary walk or run that Artemis herself would adore, could be an opportune way for us to clear and recharge our being. A fierce protector of wildlife and nature, the archetype of Artemis emerging at this time is a further sign of the importance of taking direct action to protect our natural environment during a time of great pollution and environmental degradation.  Artemis is a sign that we have the instinctual nature inside of us to make the choice at the crossroads to embark upon the path we are meant to take.

Libra Equinox 2013

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Equinox of September 22, 2013

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

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

800px-Ecliptic_path

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

AutumnEquinox2013WRIGC1

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

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

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

ceres

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

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

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

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

chiron and achilles by sargent

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

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

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

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

Demeter finds Persephone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Starhawk, The Earth Path, p. 42-43

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

References

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

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

Ceres Sun Leo / Full Moon Aquarius

Venus of Laussel

Ceres at the Crossroads

The legacy of Goddesses in all Her forms will be lit by the Full Moon in Aquarius occurring on August 20, 2013 at 6:45 pm here in the Pacific Northwest of the United States of America, as Ceres will be conjunct the Sun and Mercury in Leo at the time of the lunation.  This Full Moon will be about us recovering our authentic creative Self, a process which involves a Shadow integration that has it’s roots in the story of Goddesses.  Ceres is a dwarf planet that has the Roman name of the Greek Goddess Demeter, who is commonly known as a Goddess of fertility and the earth, but in more ancient times was also known as the Mother of the Dead, similar in a way to the Sumerian Mother of the Underworld, Ereshkigal (Shlain, p. 31).  The “Venus of Laussel” above was discovered in a cave in Southern France and believed to be at least 22,000 years old, from a time in which Goddesses were sacred to the hunter-gatherer people of the time on Earth.  Researchers into myths of the Goddess such as Anne Barin and Jules Cashford (The Myth of the Goddess) believe that there were two prominent myths of the time, one involving a Mother Goddess who was linked to fertility, the sacredness of life, transformation and rebirth, and a second myth involving a Hunter who was more connected with survival, including the ritual act of taking life in order to survive (Shlain, p. 31).

Ceres is an archetype that not only goes all the way back to the original Great Mother, but also moving forward through time she encompasses many of the most prominent Goddesses of myth such as Isis and Hekate.  Eventually, around the time documented by Homer or so, Ceres as Demeter became a Goddess who was regulated to being simply a sister of Zeus/Jupiter, instead of his Great Mother.  This is in part due to invasions of the ancient Matriarchal cultures of Goddesses by invaders who became increasingly Patriarchal over time and re-wrote myths from the perspective of masculine Gods holding power over the Goddesses, bringing some cross-pollination to myth between cultures of the time in the process.  As a result, we can see many parallels in the myths between cultures who came into contact, such as the fact that Isis made Osiris whole again by synthesizing his fragmented pieces of his body together again, and in other myths Demeter (Isis) put the severed limbs of Dionysus (Osiris) back together again (Jung, p. 237).  In his book, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, author Leonard Shlain constructed a theory proposing that the development of alphabets and written records coincided with the subjugation of Goddesses and the ascendancy of Gods as sitting atop the hierarchical power pyramid of myth:

Poseidon, the Olympian god of the sea, presided over what had traditionally been considered the quintessential feminine essence:  water.  Many bulls inhabited his home in the deep.  The image of a bull inside a body of water or in an underground labyrinth is evocative of the female’s reproductive organs.  In the myth that precipitates Cadmus’s fateful journey to Greece, a bull carries a terrified young woman out to sea on his back. Initially, she trusted the intentions of a creature that had been associated with her gender for eons.  Zeus chose to rape her at Crete, the island culture consecrated to the Goddess.  Europa’s violation by a feminine totem is allegorical:  it is the incident that initiates the mythical transfer of the alphabet from Phoenicia to Greece.  With the beginning of alphabetic writing, women would have reason to fear the bull, which came to represent lustful virility.

–Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, p. 125

Shlain further depicts mythic plot lines developing in accord with the work of Homer, whose stories such as The Illiad “glorifies masculine values and denigrates feminine ones,” as it is focused upon “the deeds of men, and the story line is drenched in male-death consciousness”  (Shlain, p. 127).  The oppression of Goddesses becomes even more apparent when we consider how Gods became more important to the birth/release of many Goddesses more so than a Mother Goddess, such as Aphrodite being born from the severed testicles of Uranus by Kronus, Athena being released into the world from the head of Zeus, and Demeter, Hera, and Vesta being freed by Zeus from the belly of their father Kronus who had devoured them:

The birth stories of these three goddesses [Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena]- remnants of the Magna Mater- are so peculiar that they could only have been devised by a male mind intent on changing the perceptions of society.  Each goddess emerged from the insides of a male, though this required convoluted plot twists . . . Not only did all three goddesses, Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, enter the world by way of a man instead of through the birth canal of a woman, but none of these examplars of the Great Mother was nutured during childhood by a mother.  This resulted in the paradox that these three representatives of the Great Mother were themselves motherless!  New myths are frequently imposed on a culture by the needs of a dominant ruling class.  What better way to discredit women’s roles in the creation of life, and by extension, the Great Goddess, than to have your goddesses born of gods?  The Iliad, the Theognis and the Old Testament turn barnyard commonsense upside down by asserting that birthing is a man’s job . . . The death throes of the Great Mother can be read between the lines of these sexist credos.

–Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, p. 130-131

Ceres being such an vital aspect of the herstory of myth on our planet is significant at this time, as in astrology we are experiencing a Full Moon in Aquarius, with the Leo Sun being conjunct the planet Mercury as well as the “dwarf” planet Ceres.   The Leo Sun and Ceres have actually been conjunct this entire past week during a lot of intense astrological energy, with Jupiter in Cancer in a full opposition to Pluto in Capricorn and coming into a first quarter square with Uranus in Aries, plus the Grand Water Trine we have been talking about still occurring, now more prominently involving Jupiter in Cancer, Chiron in Pisces (with Neptune), and the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio (with Saturn).  Demetra George is my favorite author concerning the astrological meaning of Ceres, and many of the issues that Demetra associated with Ceres in her book Asteroid Goddesses are connected with the modern oppression of women and femininity that have clear connections to the mythstorical oppression of Goddesses by Gods.  For example, as Ceres is a Goddess of food and nourishment, she can be connected with the eating disorders many modern women have experienced, disorders that are connected to a psychological complex rooted in misogyny and the oppressive depiction of women in media such as movies, commercials, and popular music.

Demetra also analyzed how the pre-Hellenic versionof Ceres was a universal archetype of the Great Goddess that emerged in Crete and Greece in association with figures such as Isis, Ishtar, Inanna, Gaia, Rhea, and Tara.  Ceres as the Great Mother in Crete was integral to fertility rituals such as being the corn priestess at the Autumn Equinox who lays with her lover Iasion in a field in order to birth Plutus, who was the god of wealth found in the Earth, “a symbol of that rich bounty that the earth produced when it was so honored by the Sacred Marriage” (George, p. 45).  In the later versions of myth, however, after Demeter takes her younger lover Iasion out to a field during the marriage ceremony of Cadmus and Harmony, Zeus angrily strikes him dead with a bolt of lightning upon discovery.

Similar to this re-write of the myth, Demetra George also described how it was not until Homer’s Hymn to Demeter that the rape of Persephone appears in myth, as it had “no precedent in the earlier cult versions” (George, p. 45):

Historically, Persephone’s rape symbolizes the power struggle that was occurring between the patriarchal cultures (Pluto) and the indigenous matriarchal goddess cults (represented by Ceres).  The final outcome of the story points to a clear victory for the northern Zeus worshippers.  The Great Mother not only had to stand by and watch her daughter being raped and abducted, Ceres was also forced to share her beloved Persephone with the enemy.  Hence, she had to abdicate a portion of her powers over the birth and death rituals, a dominion that was eventually wrestled from her in its entirety.

–Demetra George, Asteroid Goddesses, p. 45

In the popular version of the Persephone myth, Ceres/Demeter is no longer identified with the powers associated with Hekate, and in fact Ceres deep in grief comes into contact with Hekate, looking for guidance.

HekateHekate

Hekate is often depicted as a crone goddess representative of the triple goddess, a goddess of the moon, magic, and plant medicine, a goddess who stands at the crossroads.  In stunning synchronicity to today’s full moon in Leo and Aquarius, Hekate in the Persephone myth directs Ceres to seek guidance from Helios, the Sun God and seer, who gives Ceres the knowledge that Pluto took Persephone to the underworld under the blessings of Zeus.  Today at the time of this Full Moon, many of us are standing at our own crossroads, coming into knowledge of the root causes or sources of intense personal issues and experiences that are coinciding with the intensity of outer planet transits we have been experiencing:   in particular that  Jupiter in Cancer has now come into the full first quarter phase of it’s square with Uranus in addition to a full opposition to Pluto in Capricorn.

But what does this mean, you may ask?  For one, Jupiter in Cancer, considered an exalted aspect by ancient astrologers, entering such intense aspects with outer transpersonal planets difficult for us to integrate on a personal level but which consistently correlate with cataclysmic and paradigm shifting events in our human collective, has been coinciding with many of us having to realize once again how many of our beliefs we hold dear are ultimately speculative in nature.  I am not debating that there is an actual Truth, only that we humans tend to believe what we believe and on this level of relativity two people can view and interpret the same experience completely differently, arguing from a perspective rooted in belief systems that on the surface seem to hold no common ground.  This experience can feel especially debilitating when one is feeling oppression from a belief system connected to a dominant culture that one knows is not actually the Truth, but which still holds tremendous power of control over us nonetheless (or at least will try to control us).  We could be finding ourselves in a similar position to Ceres, enraged at the violation to our own divine femininity inside of us.  However, the version of her myth involving the descent of Persephone to the underworld also holds an important moral lesson, as Ceres had been extremely possessive of Persephone prior to her descent, and she reacted to the loss of her daughter with anger and bitter vengeance, refusing to nourish the Earth with food, flowers, and vegetation out of protest.  Ultimately, Ceres had to come to a place of letting go of her attachment to having Persephone with her at all times, as well as come back to a place of being productive with her unique calling and gift of food and nourishment that sustains life on our planet.  This does not mean we need to be mushy and passively accepting of oppression we experience or witness, but it does mean that we can be more productive and effective when acting from our hearts instead of out of anger or bitterness.  Going through the raw pain of crises does at least give us an opportunity to open more of our heart in the end of the process if we do our deep work.

As a result it is fascinating to me that the Sun has been conjunct Ceres at this exact time, an event that typically is not drawing a huge amount of attention from astrologers, although it most likely will be briefly mentioned in numerous “Full Moon reports,” such as something along the lines of “mother issues” or “baking bread” for someone.  Traditional astrologers barely even acknowledge Ceres, as they have a deep learning of astrology that can work limited to only the original seven planets of the Sun through Saturn.  However, even amongst the modern late 20th Century astrologers who have taken great leaps of thought with our ancient study of astrology, with the exception of Demetra George and others of like-mind, Ceres has not been developed to a great extent as an astrological archetype.  Astrologers do use her, but I find that she tends to draw less attention as a general rule, and many question the validity of even paying much attention to her in the first place.

ceres

One reason many question using the asteroids (although again, Ceres is not even an asteroid! She is now a dwarf planet on the same level of Pluto!) is why we should integrate the myth of a particular culture with a particular myth, to an asteroid that some astronomer just chose to give a certain name to.  However, in answer to this argument Ceres has a knowing smile.  At the 2011 Evolutionary Astrology conference near Portland, Oregon I witnessed Demetra George giving an electrifying talk about the mythology and astrological significance of Ceres, following a trip Demetra took taking astrology students to the specific locations of the myth.  Demetra shared with us that when Ceres was discovered in 1800 by the astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi, she was discovered in an astro-lab that was near the exact site of Persephone’s abduction in myth.

In actuality, although Ceres has still not generated a tremendous amount of astrological writing, since the 2006 astronomical controversy in which Pluto was demoted to dwarf planet status, and Ceres was elevated to dwarf planet status, Ceres is today on the same level playing field as the other celestial bodies that modern astrologers tend to obsess over since Pluto isn’t going anywhere in terms of astrological significance.  In Asteroid Goddesses, Demetra George presented an ingenious thesis for the astrological meaning of Ceres that I have found is deeply compelling and typically makes sense in the context of natal birth charts.  In this book Demetra associated Ceres with the signs of Cancer (nurturing issues), Virgo (productivity issues), and the Taurus-Scorpio axis (issues of attachment and letting go for transformation).

Again, as I spent time outlining the subjugation of the Great Mother for a reason, it is important to take our Ceres placement in our birth charts in consideration of the context of the oppression of women in our global culture and the effect this has had on our individual growth and development.  For example, Demetra George brought up the fact that hospital births in which the infant is separated from the mother in a sterile and isolated hospital crib first came into dominance in the 1930s, and as a result contributed to the plethora of relationship issues that have been handed down to ensuing generations since that time.  If we do not receiving the nurturing we need as an infant, a child, and/or an adolescent, we in turn have difficulty nurturing others in relationship, including our own children, and as a result a psychological complex such as an “attachment disorder” can be transmitted down the line of generations of family karma.  It is possible, however, with deep work and processing, to overturn complexes like attachment disorders we can become stuck to in our development, and as we each do our own unique personal work in this manner, and support others in their own deep work along these lines, we can help add to a great paradigm shift of anti-oppression work in the world around us.

When we talk about integrating our Shadow into helping us actualize our unique Self, this is exactly what we are talking about:  becoming aware of the rejected feminine aspects of ourselves (even if we are a macho dude) that have been cast off or suppressed in the face of cultural conditioning.  With Ceres lined up with the Sun and Mercury in Leo at this time of a Full Moon in Aquarius, we have a clear sign from above that a more authentic version of our actualized creative Self could become available to us at this time.  In Asteroid Goddesses, Demetra George wrote the following about having Ceres in the natal birth sign of Leo:

Ceres in Leo people identify nurturance with self-expression.  Ideally, the parents will foster in the child a sense of pride, confidence in his/her abilities, and an appreciation for the creative efforts of others.  These people can nurture others by helping them to express their creativity-  thereby making a unique impression upon the outer world.  Self-acceptance is based upon one’s ability to create and share something he/she takes pride in.  The inability to do so may bring self-rejection and a lack of self-confidence.

–Demetra George, Asteroid Goddesses, p.  64

Since we are at a Leo-Aqurius lunation, it brings up the natural square to the Taurus-Scorpio axis that Demetra George wrote about Ceres ruling, associating it with issues of abandonment and attachment.  The reason people enacted Eleusinian rites of death for so long based upon the myth of Ceres and Persephone was to overcome a fear of death in the collective, as well as perhaps to gain a sense of the transformation and regeneration available in the process of death.  In Esoteric Astrology, Alan Oken and others have talked about the significance of the Taurus-Scorpio axis involving a death and destruction of form that helps humans open themselves to the heart-centered opening of the fixed cross.  It is through death of form, of learning to let go of attachment and experience rebirth, that we learn to open our hearts as well as come into closer contact with our Soul nature:

To prepare for the moment of death, one must learn to experience “little deaths” every day through the process of letting go.  While letting go may seem frightening at first, it is actually a necessary part of the cycle of life/death/renewal.  In this transformative process, nothing new can be reborn until something old first dies.  Thus, whenever we cling to a person, thing, or situation that has outlived its purpose, we only prevent ourselves from experiencing the abundance of renewal.  At this point, a Ceres transit will inevitably come along, denoting our need to confront our fears of dying and to realize the truth of the Ceres-Scorpio death secret-  that release is the precursor to rebirth.

–Demetra George, Asteroid Goddesses, p. 55

Back in February of 2013 during a time of incredible planetary Pisces energy, Mercury and Ceres both stationed retrograde in square to one another-  Mercury around 20 degrees of Pisces, Ceres around 20 degrees of Gemini.  Since Mercury is now conjunct both Ceres and the Sun in Leo at this time, if we have been doing the work to let go of what has served its purpose, we may be experiencing a renewal of energy.  In contrast, if we have held on tightly to something that has outlived its purpose, we may be experiencing an intense climax of energy requiring us to make a definitive decision to let go of what is clogging up the process of transformation that could otherwise be available.

This point of 20 degrees of Gemini that Ceres previously stationed retrograde at this year is significant as it is the Heliocentric north node of Ceres.  During her talk on Ceres at the 2011 Evolutionary Astrology Conference, Demetra George pointed out that Ceres has Heliocentric nodes in square to the nodes of Juno and Pallas Athena, all on the mutable cross:  Ceres at 20 degrees of Gemini (north) and Sagitarius (south), Pallas Athena at 23 degrees of Virgo (north) and Pisces (south), and Juno at 20 degrees of Virgo (north) and Pisces (south).  As in traditional astrology this means that all three of these Godesses have Heliocentric north nodes ruled by Mercury, and south nodes ruled by Jupiter, Demetra synthesized that the evolution from “faith to reason” is at the evolutionary core of the feminine in our solar system.  At first I was surprised to hear this, as it seemed to suggest the divine feminine should become more rational and less intuitive, and then upon more thought I realized that this would be exactly the evolutionary point.  Thus the divine feminine could gain strength through developing its rational side while drawing upon its great powers of faith, not neglecting its intuitive abilities.  Becoming more rational, developing the ability to objectify our experiences instead of being overridden by emotional responses to our experiences, ultimately will help all of us come to a better understanding of the oppression the Shadow side of our Self has experienced.  As a result, we can ultimately realize and actualize more of our whole Self in the world, coming into a stronger embodiment of our unique power of creation and expressing more of the full Virgo sense of productivity associated with Ceres.  This also means carrying the Leo-Aquarius meaning of this Full Moon out into appreciation and sharing in joy of the work of other creators around us, instead of viewing other creators with envy, jealousy, or competitiveness.  Enjoy this Full Moon and soak up its lunar rays!

Ceres statue

References

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

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

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

Nirvana and the Grand Water Trine

kc

Kurt Cobain

1967 – 1994

Scorpio Neptune, Cancer Jupiter, Pisces Saturn-Venus-Chiron

Imagination can be the source of our pleasure, perhaps is our most important human gift, and yet it can also be our downfall when we choose to hide from the challenges life is presenting us for growth and greater strength by sealing ourselves off in an isolated fantasy of safety.  Grand Water Trines like we have been experiencing are often described as beautiful opportunities to experience ecstasy, but unless we are in a position to do little else than drift off in relaxation, we will have a hard time adequately responding to the harsher life events appearing in our life if we do not have a handle on managing our feelings.  This has been particularly the case this Summer, since there has also been a square aspect occurring between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries, and our intense experiences that have correlated with this could have transformed that same blissful hope of the Grand Water Trine into a feeling of drowning in a flood of unconscious emotional turbulence.  In a sense we are learning to swim in a new way for a new time, and as the current Grand Water Trine between Cancer Jupiter, Scorpio Saturn, and Pisces Neptune eventually shifts into another Grand Trine between Pisces Chiron, Scorpio Saturn, and Cancer Jupiter, our current experiences will hopefully help us develop a more effective ability to manifest what we truly want to have happen in our lives.  Since we are experiencing a Saturn in Scorpio during this time, any crises or intense emotional connections we are experiencing are forcing a realization within us of vitally important aspects of our feelings to not only recognize, but also to investigate and attempt to purify or transform.

When examining birth charts with Grand Water Trines, the general rule is that it takes some stressful aspects like we have been experiencing collectively with Pluto and Uranus, in order to activate an effective use of the trine’s potential by the individual.  A powerful example of a person with these aspects in his birth chart is Kurt Cobain, who was born with a Grand Water Trine between Scorpio Neptune, Cancer Jupiter, and Saturn, Chiron, and Venus conjunct in Pisces, activated by a conjunction between Pluto and Uranus in Virgo in opposition to his Pisces Saturn-Venus-Chiron.  In Kurt’s biography, we can see the isolated imaginative aspects of this astrology in his devotion to spending hours everyday building intricate sculptures out of clay and thrift store purchases that would amaze the people he had let into his life, only to destroy them upon completion.  As far as cleaning his house or organizing aspects of his living environment, Kurt was always described as being a lazy dweller in clutter, yet at the same time we can also see how his Grand Water Trine was effectively activated by Pluto and Uranus in his obsessive desire to practice music with his band every single day, and in his ability to infuse extraordinary Soul power into his musical expression.

To be honest dear reader, I’ve been looking for an astrological excuse to write about Kurt Cobain for quite some time.  However, now that the Grand Water Trine between Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune has been activated by Jupiter in Cancer coming into an opposition with Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries,  I genuinely think that Kurt can be a helpful point of focus in working with these energies.  This is especially the case recently since the dark moon phase this past weekend had a Cancer Moon combined with Jupiter in forming the trine with Neptune and Saturn, as well as the opposition and square with Pluto and Uranus.  Kurt Cobain was born with a water trine of a different sort, with a Scorpio Neptune and a Pisces Saturn, but he did have currently relevant natal placements of Jupiter in Cancer, the Moon in Cancer, and Chiron in Pisces.  His life trajectory reveals the positive power available with the grand water trine to manifest inner visions into reality that can help dissolve the very structures of that consensus reality, as well as the negative potential that can come from an unintegrated and unprocessed shadow side of the water element.  It is sad to think that he would be experiencing a nodal opposition  at this time (this happens when the transiting South Node of the Moon conjuncts your birth chart’s North Node of the Moon, and the transiting North Node conjuncts your South Node) if he were alive, since he is no longer with us.  However, with the mark he left behind he will always be with us, similar in a generational way to the figure of John Lennon who also left a body before becoming an elder.  His birth at the time of the Pluto-Uranus conjunction (the same time John Lennon released “Strawberry Fields Forever” as a Beatle) helps to seal his fate in this manner, as research by Richard Tarnas has shown that many key figures born at conjunctions and oppositions of Pluto and Uranus come into later prominence during astrologically resonant eras.  For example, Kurt became famous during the conjunction between Uranus and Neptune in Capricorn in the early 1990s with Pluto in Scorpio, and he has remained popular with the generation that was born at that time.

I am writing this post from my parent’s home near Atlanta, Georgia which is fitting because it is the same house I lived in when attending high school and discovered the work and life of Kurt Cobain.  Hearing Kurt Cobain’s music was an aesthetic epiphany for me, but not really any different on a pure musical level than the first time I heard the Pixies, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur, Jr (the Lou Barlow You’re Living All Over Me version).  What set Kurt Cobain apart from the rest for me was the quality of his voice, and especially reading his interviews.  Listening to the voice of Kurt Cobain at the time felt like coming into contact with someone from the same planet or star system, a voice that gave a calming effect to my imposed sense of alienation that I was not alone in my perspective.  Kurt had this effect on many people, on a deeper level especially with others who also had a feeling of not fitting in, or were incredibly socially withdrawn like I was in high school.  But even with people who were considered “popular and normal” in one way or another in their social sphere, the primal scream of Kurt Cobain represented a feeling of outrage against societal abuse that seemed to unify an entire generation in appreciation.  Although he had his own personal issues with the fame he achieved, this same level of fame he achieved gave him a platform that reached youth across all channels of the United States, into places that were previously unaware that underground musical figures even existed.

Nirvana became famous at a time of mainstream radio in which it appeared that rock may have been dead.  There were countless incredible bands playing a form of “rock” in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but most of this music was considered “underground” and did not get major radio play.  There was something shattering and paradigm shifting about the appearance of Nirvana in the mainstream, and Kurt decided to bring as many punk, underground, and independent musicians with him into prominence as possible, constantly naming and referencing bands for youth to search for in interviews.  Astrologically, it was a perfect ascendancy for the time period of the Uranus and Neptune conjunction in Capricorn that occurred at the end of the 1980s and continued through the early 1990s, with Pluto in the sign of Scorpio.  As Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth said at the time, “When a band like Nirvana comes out of the underground, it really expresses something that’s going on in the culture and not a commodity”  (Azerrad, p. 3).

Kurt’s life revealed the difficulty that can correlate between a Grand Water Trine and the navigation of powerful unconscious forces, as he eventually became a heroin addict who committed suicide.  At the time of his passing, his own Grand Water trine was being activated by transiting Pluto and the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio conjunct his natal Scorpio Neptune, the transiting Pisces Mercury and Mars conjunct his natal Pisces Saturn-Venus-Chiron, and his progressed Sun and Chiron conjunct in Pisces and also conjunct his natal Pisces Saturn and Venus.  Yet, his life also reveals the extraordinary imaginative power of a Grand Water Trine to dissolve what was formerly considered possible by society:  seriously, would anyone have believed in 1990, a time in which there was no dynamic rock music occurring in mainstream culture, that within a couple of years a high school dropout who had experienced homelessness and played Kurt’s style of music, would change the face of popular music completely?  Do we even tend to listen to homeless heroin addicts who have not graduated high school today?  Kurt Cobain revealed the brilliant mind and creative genius that one can find amongst the outcast of our society, and the tragedy of his life also shows how this same brilliance like a strike of lightning or the burning of quicksilver can be too much for an individual to handle when they become addicted to a destructive substance like heroin, instead of developing a more purifying release of energy.  Sadly, the potential radiance of a grand water trine can instead lead people into an isolated existence of withdrawal from the world in which they are overwhelmed or confused by the unconscious side of their emotional nature.  Most people flooded by feelings that feel out of control lack the skills, understanding, or even interest to process and integrate unconscious shadow material into a more whole presence of Self, and so they become at risk of entering a self-imposed exile that eventually leads to sickness of one form or another.  And yet, Kurt also proved the potential visionary power of the grand water trine,  that by having a dream and pursuing it with relentless passion, we can create a form for it in the reality of our personal lives, against all odds of what society tells us is possible.

Looking at Kurt’s chart, and the significance of his Pisces Saturn in his seventh house (it is conjunct a Pisces Venus, Chiron, Mercury, and Descendant, as well as an Aries Black Moon Lilith, in trine to a Cancer Jupiter and Scorpio Neptune, and in opposition to a Pluto-Uranus conjunction in Virgo) drew me to exploring the old Liz Greene classic, Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil.  Also relevant to the transit at this time of Saturn in Scorpio, in this book Liz connected Saturn in water signs and houses to the esoteric perspective of the mind, imagination, and emotions being the source of events and experiences, and the challenges Saturn in water signs can bring to the individual through the forms of blocks to this psychic energy:

No event or mundane circumstance can occur without having first been set in motion by an idea, charged with emotion, and then manifested as an action.  Beyond these three stages of an experience lies the meaning of the experience in relation to the whole, which it is the function of the intuition to perceive.  The world of feeling lies directly behind the world of events, and it is this world with which the watery signs and houses are concerned . . . [Humans are] largely unaware of the potency of this feeling nature, particularly at the present juncture where emphasis is placed on external behavior rather than on the quality of desire.  As long as something is not “done,” the individual will convince himself that he has no desire to do it; consequently, the power of the feelings increases because they are forced underground, into the realm of the unconscious.  From this subterranean position the feelings will force a man to action or attract certain kinds of illnesses or behavioural patterns which he does not understand, and which may hurt him, and which appear to be coming from somewhere else.  Psychic energy, like physical energy, cannot be destroyed; in fact they are the same, both kinds of energy, and will merely follow a different channel of expression if the usual one is blocked.  Blockage on the level of the feeling nature is symbolised by Saturn in a watery sign or house, and true to form the psychic energy which would ordinarily seek release through expression of feeling must take another channel of expression-  frequently through the body or through certain kinds of events.

— Liz Greene, Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil,  (p. 16-17)

This access to deep reservoirs of psychic power that can be released into magical and artistic forms, or when blocked manifest as deep wounds in the body, reminds me of Frida Kahlo (who had a Pisces Saturn at 28 degrees conjunct Kurt’s Pisces Saturn; a Sun-Neptune conjunction at 13 degrees Cancer conjunct Kurt’s Moon; and a Cancer Jupiter at 21 degrees conjunct Kurt’s Cancer Jupiter), a painter who created art and lived from a place of constant, tortured pain in her body.  Kurt also lived and created art from an intense feeling of pain in his stomach that baffled the medical professionals he sought help from, apparently located according to him in the same region of his body he generated his singing voice from.  The bodily pain that Kurt and Frida both experienced reminds me on an archetypal level of the poisoned phase in the mythic life of Chiron (a very significant astrological archetype in Kurt’s chart), and both Frida and Kurt created art on a deep Chirotic level of release through exploring and expressing the darkest recesses of the psyche.  Like Frida, Kurt was able to transmute this pain into an artistic expression that touched the soul of many on this planet-  a transcendent and immanent power that emanated from his voice and physical presence on stage.

The song “Even In His Youth” is a good example of the simple and repetitive lyrics Kurt would sometimes write, that still managed to carry a deep message to many youth because of his compelling expression of their emotion:  “Even in his youth / Even in his youth / Even in his youth /  He was nothing / Kept his body clean / Kept his body clean /Kept his body clean / He was nowhere /  Daddy was ashamed / Daddy was ashamed / Daddy was ashamed / He was something / Scars the family name / Scars the family name / Scars the family name / He was something . . . ”  This particular song could be somewhat autobiographical, as in interviews Kurt has said of his father, that “He wanted me to be in sports and I didn’t like sports and I was artistic and he just didn’t appreciate that type of thing, so I just always felt ashamed.  I just couldn’t understand how I was a product of my parents because they weren’t artistic and I was.  I liked music and they didn’t.  Subconsciously, maybe I thought I was adopted . . . ” (Azerrad, p. 18).  Kurt was on the receiving end of both emotional and physical abuse from his father at times, an Aberdeen car mechanic who had some anger management issues;  furthermore, Kurt’s mother became involved with incredibly abusive men following her divorce with Kurt’s father, scenes of abuse that Kurt witnessed.

In this footage below of “Even in His Youth” being performed in 1989, Nirvana was on a European tour with the band Tad and discovering for the first time that they had a huge following in Europe.  At this time, Nirvana was still playing with Chad Channing from Bainbridge Island, one of their early series of drummers who stuck around a little longer than others.  You can see that the later addition of Dave Grohl on drums accelerated their dynamic energy on stage, but that the Kurt and Chris combination was still very compelling nonetheless:

Below is the iconic footage from “19991: The Year Punk Broke,” aka Pisces out of control on a Rock God Trip.  Again, note the very simple lyrics that somehow through his delivery transmitted huge emotional content across our planet. The lyrics are also so simple they can be interpreted in a universal context if you have been in High School in a situation with social cliques, and then experienced that again:  “Won’t you believe it just my luck / Won’t you believe its just my luck / Won’t you believe its just my luck / Won’t you believe its just my luck / No recess / No recess / No recess . . . You’re in high school again / You’re in high school again / You’re in high school again / You’re in high school again.”  Kurt was artistic in high school and very withdrawn socially, a pattern he continued when moving to Olympia, Washington. Although he was fairly withdrawn socially from the more communal punk and hipster social circles of Olympia, I feel these lyrics relate more to the cliques and socio-politics of the Seattle music scene that Nirvana joined through Sub Pop records, a music scene that was at its early stages of being marketed by Sub Pop on its way to becoming the celebrated “grunge” movement in popular music.

At the time of this footage below in August of 1991 or so,  Nirvana was now beyond the level of Sub Pop and were signed to a major corporate record label, on tour in Europe with Sonic Youth, following their completion of recording the material for the Nevermind album and awaiting the release of the album a month later.  As I will discuss further below, in Kurt Cobain’s chart this was a significant time period because in his progressed chart, his progressed Mercury stationed direct at five degrees of Pisces (it had been retrograde since he was a toddler) around August 10, 1991.  Fittingly for a stationing direct progressed Mercury, this time was a huge shift for Kurt as he was able to play huge festivals for the first time alongside musical peers he looked up to such as Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, following the recording of a major label studio release.  In this footage below, as he had a charged Pisces Mercury by progression, he did not yet realize the extraordinary media attention that would soon become focused upon him:

The footage below is the moment they were becoming famous on an extraordinary level:  I always think of this clip as sort of their “Beatles” moment, around the same time they performed on “Saturday Night Live.”  They were becoming very famous at this point, and this was filmed live in an MTV studio in front of a studio audience, as the crescendo of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was building and building.  Kurt is direct and honest in his lyrics about his co-dependent relationship pattern, and of course that was exactly part of his appeal: “One baby to another says I’m lucky to met you / I don’t care what you’re thinking as long as it is about me / It is now my duty to completely drain you”

Here’s Kurt:

astro_2gw_42_kurt_cobain.61842.58717

Someone without prior astrological knowledge may think the image of Kurt’s chart looks like a kite (that’s the “official” label for the major visible aspect pattern), but I also think the image of a bow and arrow about to fly would come to mind.  With the bow and arrow image, it is fascinating to me that it is Pluto and Uranus holding the trigger, with the arrow prepared to shoot through the master marksman Chiron, in Pisces.  For any Kurt Cobain fans reading this who do not have previous astrological knowledge, I hope this post makes you more interested in astrology because Kurt’s chart is such a spellbinding and perfect representation of the mark he made upon the world as well as his self-undoing.

I feel we must start with the extraordinary fact that Kurt was born at the time of the Pluto and Uranus conjunction in Virgo, with his Ascendant splitting them directly up the middle, with Pluto at the very end of his 12th House, and Uranus at the very beginning of his 1st House.  If you are wondering why this would be significant, an extraordinary read on the subject is Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas in which he analyzes various historical periods that occurred during a conjunction between Pluto and Uranus, for example the 1960s (1960 – 1972) and the 1850s (1845 – 1856).  Among other themes, Tarnas found that historical events that occurred in the sequence of conjunctions and oppositions in the Pluto-Uranus cycle related to “epochal shifts in the rise and fall of imperial powers and dynasties and turning points in world history that mark tectonic shifts in the global balance of power . . . the sudden rise and empowerment of countercultures and youth cultures; eras marked by the emergence and flourishing of historically significant bohemian and countercultural districts, communities, and demimondes (the Left Bank, Bloomsbury, Soho, Greenwich Village, Haight-Ashbury, Berkely, Harvard Square) . . . periods that brought the rapid emergence and proliferation of ecological, environmental, and nature-oriented movements of various kinds; and eras marked by cultural trends and movements advocating sexual revolution and erotic emancipation in society and the arts” (Tarnas, p. 164-5).  Tarnas distilled the Pluto and Uranus cycle down to an archetypal synergy between Dionysus and Prometheus:

The planet Uranus appears to be correlated with events and biographical phenomena suggestive of an archetypal principle whose essential character is Promethean:  emancipatory, rebellious, progressive and innovative, awakening, disruptive and destabilizing, unpredictable, serving to catalyze new beginnings and sudden unexpected change.  The planet Pluto, by contast, is associated with an archetypal principle whose character is Dionysian:  elemental, instinctual, powerfully compelling, extreme in its intensity, arising from the depths, both libidinal and destructive, overwhelming and transformative, ever-evolving. –Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche, p. 142

With both Pluto and Uranus in Virgo on his ascendant, the deep Soul that many have a hard time coming into contact with would have been impacting Kurt very much on a moment to moment basis, no matter how conscious he would have been of it.  Moreover, the ruler of his Ascendant and chart, as well as the ruler of his Pluto and Uranus, is a Pisces Mercury in direct opposition to his Pluto and Uranus, albeit a Gibbous more so than a Full phase.  His Pisces Mercury also being at the end of his 6th House conjunct his Descendant is another perfect symbol of how he was able to communicate his Soul nature through his art and music, and that in this lifetime he was coming into more of a courageous place to communicate some of the ultimate meaning he had accumulated across lifetimes, a purpose that gave his music the incredible power that was felt by so many listeners.

Kurt’s Pisces Mercury is very significant, as it rules his chart as the Ascendant ruler, rules his Virgo Pluto and Uranus, and rules his Gemini Ceres,  with the Gemini Ceres forming a t-square to the opposition between his Virgo Pluto-Uranus and Pisces Mercury-Chiron-Venus-Saturn.  Any Mercury in opposition to Pluto and Uranus would be intense, but Kurt’s Mercury being in Pisces at the very end of his 6th House on his 7th House cusp makes the relationship between his perception and his communication even more complex and difficult to handle.  Pisces Mercury perceives phenomenal reality on a level beyond the confines of language, and so normally can make a more powerful impression through artistic, symbolic, musical, and poetic expression- this is because it seems next to impossible for an individual with a Pisces Mercury to communicate what it is sensing through straightforward language description, and it can seem even more difficult to find an audience who can listen to their language choices and fully grasp their meaning.  Kurt Cobain often said he wrote lyrics at the last moment because he was lazy, but in the end the actual words he used were less important than the emotion he expressed through his music and the sound of his voice.

In Kurt’s progressed chart, his Mercury becomes even more important as it stationed retrograde in his toddler years and did not station direct until August 10, 1991 at the midpoint of his natal Pisces Sun and Persephone asteroid (which happens to also be his Vertex), following the recording of Nevermind when Nirvana was playing European festivals with Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, and other well-established bands, a real career peak for Kurt.  This career peak was only the beginning, however, as his progressed Mercury moving direct coincided with the release of Nevermind and his extraordinary rise to rock stardom.  The fact Mercury moved retrograde for so long in his lifetime leading up to his achievement of fame coincided in part with his artistic, withdrawn, and rebellious nature, a high school student who was talented enough to win artistic scholarships to college, but had such a hatred for his high school culture and the perspectives of many of his culturally conforming teachers, that he decided to drop out of high school before graduating.  This progressed retrograde movement of Mercury supported the counter-cultural development of his mind, and also could have given him greater capacity for a re-membering of pertinent Soul feelings that could have had the double-edge of making his art more powerful but his emotional life also more difficult to handle.

Kurt’s Pisces Mercury is also an entrance point into his Grand Water trine, with a Pisces Mercury-Venus-Saturn on his 7th House cusp, a Jupiter Cancer in his 11th House, and a Scorpio Neptune in his 3rd House that is also conjunct Vesta.  As I wrote in my last post on the Neptune and Jupiter cycle, the 1960s had a Scorpio influence across the decade due to Neptune and Jupiter starting a new cycle at 4 degrees of Scorpio in 1958, and Kurt had a connection to this point in Scorpio as it is the midpoint between the conjunction of his Scorpio Mars and Scorpio South Node of the Moon.  The sex, drugs, and rock and roll that came into prominence during the 1960s, the sexual revolution, as well as the spiritual seeker movement to merge with Source all have a connection with this Scorpio Neptune theme, and in Kurt’s chart Scorpio rules and Neptune is found in his third house of communication.  His Scorpio Neptune also being tightly conjunct Vesta in Scorpio, Kurt was able to focus on channeling this transformative Neptunian energy into his creative expression.  A Scorpio Neptune here is also a perfect symbol for how he often destroyed the art he created, as well as destroyed his guitars and other band equipment when performing on stage.  Even though at one point Kurt in an interview said he felt the name of Nirvana was “too esoteric,” he in fact seemed to have mastered the esoteric concept and significance of the destruction of form in the process of reaching a more heart-centered and Soul-infused consciousness.

Kurt’s Cancer Jupiter is in a disseminating trine to his Scorpio Neptune, and so Kurt had the evolutionary task of modifying his visionary qualities into a form that would be accepted and widely disseminated in society.  He found this form in music, and his Jupiter being in Cancer and the 11th House is perfect for how he became obsessed with the culture of punk rock.  Cancer in Jupiter, like we are experiencing today, correlates to the intuitive perceptive quality of Jupiter, and the corresponding generation of beliefs, being filtered through the Cancer themes of roots, memories, and origins.  Kurt first became obsessed with punk rock before he even knew what it sounded like- he came across photographs of the Sex Pistols and other punk rock stars, and through his intuition became convinced that this was the exact music he needed to play, without having heard what it actually sounded like.  He went to his room and played three chord progressions with a lot of screaming (Azerrad, p. 23):

“It was definitely a good release,” says Kurt.  “I thought of it as my job.  It was my mission.  I knew I had to practice.  As soon as I got my guitar, I just became so obsessed with it.” “I had this feeling all the time-  I always knew I was doing something that was special,” says Kurt.  “I knew it was better, even though I couldn’t prove it at the time.  I knew I had something to offer and I knew eventually I would have the opportunity to show people that I could write good songs- that I could contribute something musically to rock and roll.” Kurt Cobain in Come As You Are, p. 23

Even though Kurt lived in the outskirts of Aberdeen, Washington, fortuitously there was a well-known punk band there called the Melvins, giving Kurt an opportunity to join a punk rock culture.  The culture of punk rock also correlates with the 11th House placement of Kurt’s Jupiter, as well as the fact he was able to manifest this rock and roll “wish” of his into his personal destiny.  Kurt’s Cancer Jupiter is also conjunct Juno at the beginning of Leo in his 11th House, another perfect symbol in how Kurt was attracted to romantic partners he met through the punk scene:  his first girlfriend Tracy he met through the Melvins, his Olympia infatuation with Tobi Vail of Bikinni Kill, and his ultimate union with Courtney Love who actually had a cameo in the film Sid and Nancy. The final side to Kurt’s Grand Water Trine may be the most key point of all, with a Pisces Saturn conjunct Venus, Chiron, and Mercury in Pisces, as well as a Black Moon Lilith in Aries.  Depending upon your astrological school of thought, you may consider Kurt’s Saturn to be ruled by either his Cancer Jupiter or his Scorpio Neptune, and both actually make a lot of sense in his case.  Just isolating this stellium to his Saturn and Venus being conjunct is enlightening from the perspective of Liz Greene:

We have all encountered those children who because of their fear of being unwanted can only express their need for affection through destructive actions, or an attempt to inflict pain, or sulking and weeping; if we transfer this rather extreme picture to the adult body and mind of the Venus-Saturn individual, and include the skill at portraying surface coolness which he has usually developed, we will hold the key to his peculiar and often misunderstood emotional nature. — Liz Greene, Saturn:  A New Look at an Old Devil, p. 112

This sense of being unwanted seemed to be a deep issue for Kurt, and is even stronger archetypally when you consider that his Venus-Saturn conjunction was in Pisces, in his 7th House, and was also conjunct Black Moon Lilith and Chiron.  As we know Lilith is the ultimate symbol of the rejected feminine in myth, and Chiron in myth was also unwanted by his parents, transforming this wound into a capacity to foster countless other youth into greater embodiment of their heroic qualities.  Similarly, as Kurt Cobain found his way into fame, he attempted to highlight and bring into prominence as many other musicians he admired who had been ignored by mainstream media into the limelight.  With the asteroid Lilith also conjunct Kurt’s South Node of the Moon in Scorpio in his 2nd House, Lilith also seems to be a significant archetype in relation to his Anima, or inner feminine soul nature.  In Kurt’s case, it wasn’t entirely the case that he was unwanted, as he had to suffer through an intense custody battle between his parents after their divorce, but after his father gained custody he re-married and Kurt felt neglected in comparison to his new step-siblings.  In contrast, his mother experienced a series of abusive relationships and apparently did not seem up to the challenge of raising Kurt, who acted out in numerous destructive ways.  Throughout his adolescence, however, Kurt pleaded with his mother to take him back in, and she did at various points.  However, at other times Kurt was left with no home to live in, and had to fend for himself.   The connection between these difficult life circumstances and his Grand Water Trine was masterfully described by astrologer Bill Tierney in his essential Dynamics of Aspect Analysis:  New Perceptions in Astrology:

There tends to be shown [in the Grand Water Trine] an exaggerated need for dependency, general mothering, safety from threat or harm, and psychological insulation from the harsher facets of reality.  And the more subtle these needs express themselves, the more potentially insidious.  In my opinion, this is the only Grand Trine that readily can become problematic, since the emotional self-containment it represents makes this individual hard to get to know intimately.  Negatively, he may feel he is disconnected with the outer world (since water is a unifying element which, when blocked, can feel out-of-tune with its surroundings).  He then may lose touch with his conscious awareness of himself and may passively allow unconscious forces to take over. — Bill Tierney, p. 76-77

With a South Node of the Moon in Scorpio conjunct a Scorpio Mars in his second house, Kurt knew how to rely on his inner resources for survival, and so he figured out creative solutions for his homelessness like sleeping under a bridge and fishing (until discovering the water was polluted), hanging out in public libraries as much as possible, and pretending to be family of hospital patients so he could hang out in hospital waiting rooms for extended periods of time.  Yet even though he knew internally how to physically survive on a material level, his emotional nature was clearly wounded, leading into more difficult relational patterns with his female romantic partners as an adult.  For example, his mother tried to show him “tough love” by not letting him continue to live with her after dropping out of high school without a job, and later in his marriage Courtney Love also tried to show him “tough love” by confining him to a residential drug rehabilitation center.  However, no matter what trouble he may have felt women in relationships caused him, in the end this Pisces Saturn stellium was more about him learning to take responsibility for his own emotional dynamic in relationship.  Just having a Saturn in the 7th house with nothing else according to Liz Greene indicates a need for him to balance his masculine and feminine sides in order to come to relationship more out of free choice than emotional need and compulsion, but with Lilith, Venus, Chiron, and Mercury also conjunct his Pisces Saturn, this powerful unconscious need would be even greater for Kurt to navigate relationships successfully and release relational co-dependency patterns stemming from past emotional wounding:

When Saturn is in the seventh house, the opportunity for an inner integration or balancing of opposites is offered, for it is unlikely that the individual will find the qualities he seeks happily expressed by a partner.  It is more likely that he will attract to himself situations which involve some degree of pain, isolation, rejection, and disappointment until he begins to reorient himself toward an inner search.  This placement is analagous to the coniunctio or mystical marriage of alchemy, which in psychological terms suggests an inner integration which results in a new centre for the psyche and new balance and meaning in life.  In alchemical symbolism this marriage is always accompanied by darkness and death previous to the distillation of the elixir, and the darkness which often accompanies a seventh house Saturn is matched only by the brilliance of the gold which is also promised. –Liz Greene, Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil, p. 62

Kurt was able to alchemize gold from his Pisces Saturn signature in the form of the music that brought him widespread acclaim, but sadly Kurt went so deep into the darkness that he never came back out.  Kurt ended up passing away before he got to his exact Saturn return, with transiting Saturn in Pisces conjunct his Sun but more closely conjunct his Pisces Persephone asteroid.  So although Saturn was in Pisces when he died, it had not come into range of being conjunct his natal Saturn, and so he never made it to his first Saturn return, a time which would have correlated with an opportunity to make internal progress on these issues.  However, Kurt had such an intense Saturn signature in his birth chart it indicates it would have taken him years past his first Saturn return to begin to fully resolve all of his issues.  In fact, as he would have been getting closer to experiencing his Chiron return if he were alive today, it more than likely would have taken him at least as long as living to this point in time to come to a clearer resolution of his unconscious make-up.

So what exactly is some of the unconscious Soul material Kurt was working with? I have seen astrologer and past life regression therapist Patricia Walsh give a talk in which she said many Pluto in Virgo people come from the burning times, and Pluto in Virgo is often associated with relevant past lives in our “A.D” time period using the geodetic system.  Whether Kurt was burned at the stake or not, there are very clear signs that his Soul has been deeply wounded by the hierarchical power structure of the dogmatic Christian Church that has dominated the past couple of thousand years, often associated with the “Patriarchy.”  The burning of witches is one example of this, the Inquisition is another.  Part of Kurt’s evolutionary purpose with his Grand Water Trine was to integrate his anima or bring his feminine side into balance with his masculine side.  His Cancer Moon in his 10th House is one symbol of a sensitive feminine side hardened by cultural conditioning to make sure he gets his needs met, and another powerful female archetype of persecution in his chart is Lilith.  Kurt has the Lilith asteroid #1181 conjunct his South Node of the Moon in Scorpio in his 2nd House, and he has Black Moon Lilith in Aries conjunct his Pisces Saturn, Venus, and Chiron in his 7th House.  Since the asteroid Lilith that is conjunct his South Node or past life ego identity is associated with the original wounding and rejection Lilith experienced in myth according to Demetra George, this means that Kurt is acting from Soul desires that are connected with the persecution and rejection of strong, independent women.  Since this South Node is in Scorpio, this persecution could have been associated with cultural taboos such as those involving sexuality, and with a Scorpio Mars also conjunct Lilith and his South Node there could have even been extreme rage and violence associated with this persecution.

In addition, during his high school years his progressed Mars would have stationed retrograde, staying retrograde for the rest of his life- again a symbol of not only his rebellious nature but also an instigator to deep unconscious material.   In any case, all of this strong Scorpio in his second house means that Kurt would have deep Soul desires linked into being familiar with relying on his own resources for survival through merging with a relationship or another external source of power.  As a result, the evolutionary purpose for him would have been to gain a stronger sense of internal security and integrated Self that would allow him to truly merge with others from his own place of power.  Since the placement of Black Moon Lilith according to Demetra George is a point of integration in the chart where we can work on coming to resolution of our Lilith issues of rejected femininity, it means that Kurt would have had the purpose of resolving these issues in his 7th House, in his relationships, in connection with his Saturn, Venus, and Chiron in Pisces.  As there haven’t been many female celebrities who have been culturally rejected as much as Courtney Love has, as much of a Lilith in the level of rejection, upon reflection of these Soul history signatures of Kurt it may make more sense for you why he chose to marry Courtney Love, if that was a scenario you previously did not understand.  Kurt has symbols in his chart indicating a need to integrate a strong Lilith aspect of his Anima into his Self, and so merging with Courtney Love in a relationship would have given him ample material to work with along these lines.

Since Kurt’s South Node of the Moon in Scorpio is conjunct Mars, the traditional ruler of Scorpio, and the modern ruler of his South Node is his 12th house Pluto in Virgo that is conjunct Uranus and his ascendant, he has an extremely intense birth signature of having experienced extreme crises and cataclysms of epic proportions in his Soul’s history.  His navigation of this unconscious emotional makeup in his Soul’s incarnation as Kurt Cobain is shown through his Cancer Moon being in his 10th House, a house placement that emphasizes the impact of societal conditioning on his feeling nature.  The impact of cultural conditioning on his soul is most likely ancient, however, as can be seen from the fact that he has a conjunction of the Isis and Osiris asteroids in Capricorn in his 4th House, in opposition to his Cancer Moon.  I wrote about the significance of the Isis and Osiris cycle in an earlier post about Osiris, but in relation to Kurt it is a further symbol of his need to do intense alchemical inner work on his unconscious make-up and work on coming into a more whole and integrated presence of his Self.  This is not easy work for anyone, but would be especially intense for someone with the birth chart signatures that Kurt embodied.

In the end, Kurt simply has “crisis” written all over his birth chart, and so in many ways the intensity of the pain he experienced was part of his Soul’s evolutionary journey- we just never got a chance to see how strong he could have turned out in the end by persevering to a longer life.  For example, he had a Gemini Ceres in a t-square to an opposition between Virgo Pluto-Uranus and Pisces Saturn-Venus-Chiron-Mercury, Lilith conjunct his South Node of the Moon, Persephone conjunct his Sun, Osiris-Isis in opposition to his Moon, and a 12th House Pluto conjunct his Ascendant that is also conjunct a 1st House Uranus.  Chiron as an archetype especially stands out to me, as at the time of his death transiting Chiron in Virgo was in his 12th House and in opposition to his natal Pisces Sun, his progressed Sun was in Pisces conjunct his progressed Chiron, both of which were then conjunct his natal Saturn, Venus, and Black Moon Lilith.  Furthermore, at the time of his passing Pluto and the North Node of the Moon were conjunct in Scorpio and transiting conjunct his natal Neptune, and transiting Venus was conjunct his North Node of the Moon.  Meanwhile, transiting Mercury and Mars were conjunct in Pisces and further activating his water trine through being conjunct his Pisces Saturn-Venus-Chiron-Mercury, Saturn was in Pisces conjunct his Pisces Persephone and Sun, and the Moon on the day of his death was moving through Pisces and would have also passed over the significant Pisces celestial bodies in his chart.

In short, although none of these transits explains really any reason why Kurt was meant to die when he did, they are simply further examples of the extreme intensity present in his birth chart.  We will never know what would have happened if he had lived longer and had the opportunity to attempt to heal himself from his past wounding, but we do have a recorded legacy of his being, his Soul pouring out, his pure Soul expression that saturated his music and voice. Finally, below is is a fairly long (23 minute) interview with Kurt in August of 1993 where one can get the opportunity through the Pisces illusion of computers to sit with him for a bit:

References

Azerrad, Michael. (1993). Come as you are:  the story of Nirvana.  Main Street Books.

Greene, Liz. (1976).  Saturn:  a new look at an old devil.  Samuel Weiser, Inc.

Tarnas, Richard. ( 2007). Cosmos and Psyche:  Intimations of a new world view.  Plume.

Tierney, Bill. (1983).  Dynamics of aspect analysis. CRCS.

Persephone: Queen of Soul and Spirit

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Persephone conjunct Saturn in Scorpio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pamela Colman Smith the wave

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

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

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

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

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

the_lovers_rws_deck2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HadesPersephone2Locri

References

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

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

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

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

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

Taurus and Incarnation

scenes from Buddha's life

Taurus and Being Human in Form

What do you desire?  What do you value?  You may have noticed others, including astrologers, asking you these questions recently as we have been experiencing an incredibly intense time period of Taurus energy these past couple of weeks, but especially now.  Unrelated to astrology, in the community college class I teach recently students have been creating projects and writing exploring what they want to attract into their life, what their current purpose in life is, what they desire to have in their life, and what they value.  There have been as many different responses as there are different people, differences in human personalities and backgrounds, with some wanting to possess material items and others more immaterial qualities.  There has been a wide range of material desires, from wanting a more simple type of a pet or a house, to more outlandish possessions such as a private jet, exotic animals, and millions of dollars; there has also been a wide range of immaterial desires, from wanting to have happiness and provide service to the local community, to wanting to provide service to the global community and to explore a higher level of consciousness.  What all of their responses have had in common, however, is desire, human desire, and the fact that human beings have desires, and that we also tend to develop a sense of values that are important to us, and that some of us live from.  This brings up the question, what is desire?  Where do our desires and values come from?  Why do we desire and value what we do?

I was recently listening to a taped lecture by astrologer Alan Oken and gained a new sense of understanding for the sign of Taurus by hearing him break down the etymology of Incarnation.  Incarnation means “embodied in flesh” or “in the flesh,” “in the meat (carne),” and so connects with Taurus as being the second sign of the zodiac since in Taurus we incarnate into form the new impulse of celestial life connected with the first sign of the zodiac, Aries.  We can further link this concept of being in the flesh to our thoughts and emotions, and indeed the sign of Taurus is connected to not only our physical form and sensuality, but also the crystallized form of our thoughts and feelings that make up the value system we live from.  The image of the Buddha above may not be the first one that comes to mind when you think of Taurus, the sign of the bull, until you begin to consider how his teachings connect with the conflicts we encounter in our physical incarnation in a body, and the suffering we cause ourselves through the crystallized patterns of thoughts and emotions we view our world from.

In contrast to thinking of the Buddha when we think of Taurus, as a result of Venus traditionally ruling Taurus in astrology many tend to visualize the sign as a sensual Goddess enjoying her physical incarnation and all the pleasures that can come through it.  And of course, since Taurus is the sign of the bull, we also associate Taurus energy as being embodied by a bull who can be fully engrossed in the presence of the moment in its natural setting, again soaking in the physical delights of its physical form:

MoreauEuropa_and_the_Bull

Taurus is all about being in our body and feeling the sensations of our world  upon our flesh.  The connection to Venus can be felt in the sensuality of our flesh merging with the flesh of our lover, the scent of our lover’s sweat, the taste of their skin.  The crystallization of thought and desire in Taurus can be seen in how we become possessive of this feeling, possessive of our lover, how some can become obsessed more with the intensity of past romantic experience more so than manifesting love into their current life.  This is the shadow side of Taurus, and we can have karmic consequences for our possessiveness.  For example, the image above is one of the most significant catalytic events in myth:  Zeus desiring to possess the beautiful Europa, so transforming himself into a bull to lure her away, and carry her off to the land that became Europe.  The desire of Taurus to possess and hold onto objects or values is where we can apply the expression of “being stubborn like a bull,” and the angry emotions that can erupt out of the normally calm Taurus when a desired object or value is lost is when Taurus can be described as “being like a bull in a china shop.”  The strong sensual desire of Taurus can be applied to anything in our life, such as the taste of food or the more nurturing touch of a friend or family member.  It can vary from culture to culture, especially where material items are concerned: to some possessing a high octane mechanical vehicle with plush interior made up of the skin of a cow could be important, whereas to someone else owning the cow itself could be important.  With Taurus it can come down to possessing what we desire, and this is where we can come down into our suffering.  This is because if anything is true in life it is change.  And since everything is constantly changing, if we are consumed with possessing something we can suffer when it goes away.

Hopefully you can sense by now how in addition to the Goddess Venus, the Buddha clearly connects with the sign of Taurus as well, and not only because he is believed to have been born, reached enlightenment, and have died during the time of Taurus.  When we consider the historical life of the man who became the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, we can imagine that he grew up in a constant state of hedonistic delight, having his every desire attended to, as the popular version of his story indicates his father the King attempted to shield him from the suffering of the external world.  The fact the Buddha grew up in such a materialistic state mirrors the lower nature of Taurus, the side of Taurus that has a desire for material possessions that can never be satiated; the more it possesses, the more it continues to desire more materialism.  In contrast, the higher nature of Taurus mirrors the spiritual development of the Buddha away from attachment to matter and desire, into freedom from materialism, gaining the freedom to connect with Spirit.  In Soul-Centered Astrology, Alan Oken illuminated this connection between Taurus and the Buddha:

The Buddha taught that the path of detachment from desire is the vehicle for the entrance of Light; that is, the Creative Will . . . He did this through those methods which imparted the means to awaken the Third Eye- the “Eye of the Bull.”  This awakening brings into one’s daily life a consciousness in which the expression of the Soul is centered in the intuitive or “Buddhic” plane.  Such an awakening brings forth the potential for the fullest expression of our humanness.  In this respect, the dual horns of the Bull become the single horn of the one pointed spiritualized being, as symbolized by the Unicorn . . . As we open our hearts and Higher Minds, we externalize those aspects of ourself which correspond to the Christ and the Buddha.  This opening is at the core of all of our efforts at self-realization; this is the realization of the Self.  The work to free ourselves from possessiveness and materiality so that through these lessons true Wisdom may emerge is very definitely at the center of the Taurean phase of the turning of the wheel.

— Alan Oken, Soul-Centered Astrology, pp.  167-168

It is traditionally said that at the age of 29 Siddhartha finally journeyed beyond the confines of his controlled life, and was able to witness the old, the sick, the dying, and the dead, causing an expansion of consciousness from within.  In astrology, the age of 29 is significant for being the time of the first Saturn return, a transit that embodies the karmic meaning of this turning point in the Buddha’s life.  He left his princely palace life in order to follow his own Path of Spirit, a journey which took him into many turns leading within himself.  In contrast to the hedonism of his youth, he went to the extremity of abandoning all sensory delight into a lifestyle of ascetism, learning in the process that a Middle Way was the True Path.  Out of this insight came his Four Noble Truths:  the truth of dukkha (translated as suffering, stress, anxiety, or dissatisfaction), the truth of the origin of suffering, the truth of the cessation of suffering, and the path leading to the cessation of suffering.  The Buddha next elaborated upon an Eightfold Path that leads to enlightenment:  Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.  These can perhaps become more manageable to think of grouped into three categories:  “Right View (encompassing Understanding and Thought), Right Relationship (consisting of Speech, Action, and Livelihood), and Right Meditation (Effort, Mindfulness, and Concentration)².”

The astrology of the moment suggests we can be gaining a lot of information into the root causes of our current wounds this lifetime, no matter your beliefs concerning past lives, with the potential to notice how our perception of reality and our attachment to forms could be causing our suffering.  It brings up the question of whether or not learning more about how we have been wounded can even be useful.  Is it useful to go into our wounds? Mark Epstein, who studied and practiced Buddhism before becoming a psychotherapist, explored these questions deeply in his book Going on Being:  Buddhism and the Way of Change, recounting this story of the Buddha:

Talking one day in the forest environment that he favored, he suddenly held up a handful of simsapa leaves and asked the attentive bhikkhus (or monks) to tell him which was greater, the leaves in his hand or the leaves in the surrounding grove . . .

“Very few in your hand, Lord. Many more in the grove,” they replied with unsparing simplicity and none of my taste for duplicity.

It was the same with his psychological and spiritual knowledge, responded the Buddha. Like the many leaves of the simsapa grove, his knowledge far exceeded the handful of his teachings.  Out of the vastness of all possible understanding, he taught only that which in his view led to freedom.  When asked why he would not reveal other facts about reality, he gave the following reply:

“Because, friends, there is no profit in them; because they are not helpful to holiness; because they do not lead from disgust to cessation and peace; because they do not lead from knowledge to wisdom and nirvana.  That is why I have not revealed them.”

The Buddha’s teachings were always direct and to the point.  In coming up against the world of psychotherapy, I have tried to use his words from the simsapa grove as a guide.  “How much of this analytic wisdom is actually helpful?”  I have wondered.  “Does it lead to wisdom, cessation, and peace?”  In the Buddhist view, knowledge is never envisioned as an end in itself but only as a beginning, useful as a means of getting oriented.

–Mark Epstein, p. 119-121

Mark Epstein explored important questions in this book, bringing up the fact he had many friends and associates who gained insights through therapy and yet remained as unhappy, dissatisfied, and egocentric after being in therapy as they were before.  He felt a place where Buddhism, meditation, and psychotherapy can all be helpful is the concept of “going on being,” which he first read about through British child analyst D.W. Winnicott.  The idea of going on being is having “an uninterrupted flow of authentic self,” similar to the pure action displayed most often in our culture by young children.  According to this idea of going on being, it “does not need to connote any fixed entity of self; but it does imply a stream of unimpeded awareness, ever evolving, yet with continuity, uniqueness, and integrity.  It carries with it the sense of the unending meeting places of interpersonal experience, convergences that are not blocked by a reactive or contracted ego” (p. 30-31).  Epstein connects this non-attachment to a “fixed entity of self” to the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha, since the Buddha taught that the first type of clinging is for “pleasant sensory experiences,” and is “equivalent in many ways to the Freudian sexual drive and involves the seeking after sensory gratification” (p. 10).  Later in the book, Epstein shows how this dukkha of the Four Noble Truths relates to our suffering, and to me this connects with the strong energy of Taurus we are currently experiencing:

We want what we can’t have and don’t want what we do have; we want more of what we like and less of what we don’t like.  We are always a little bit hungry, or a little bit defensive, anticipating the slipping away of that which we have worked so hard to achieve.  Behind every suffering, Buddhist teachers say, is the desire for things to be different.  This attempt to control or manage what cannot be changed interferes with our going on being.  We worry about the past and anticipate the future or worry about the future and anticipate the past.  Our self-centeredness causes us to create an uneasy relationship with the world in which we try to fend off any threats to our hard-fought security.  This sets up an indefensible position; we become like a fortress:  a self within a mind within a body that is threatened from all sides.  (p.55-56)

Epstein also connects this issue to being a therapist, and how his “desire for control, in the form of being a helper, is as much of an obstacle to healing another person as it is to healing oneself” (p. 56).  These aspects of dukkha related to self-identity are the other two types of “clinging” taught by the Buddha:   clinging for “being” and for “nonbeing.”  This is an important aspect I don’t have the space or time in this blog to properly explore, but it is sometimes the idea of being “empty” or lacking ego that draws some to Buddhism in order to get away from their egocentric perspective; however, to the Buddha, in either case it is the “mind’s need for certainty” that shortchanges reality (p.22).  The Buddha taught the middle path because the self concept of being a “somebody” or a “nobody” are both mistakes, having a “self-centered attitude is as much of a problem as the self-abnegating one” (p.22).  It is “our sense of self-certainty” in either case that is the issue, because since life is always changing, if we are clinging to any sense of self too strongly we are not being fully in the moment, fully going on being (p.22).  Epstein also brings up insights taught by his friend and teacher Ram Dass in his book, including that it is also a mistake to try to get rid of unwanted parts of ourselves in an attempt to gain greater freedom.  Instead if we can develop a practice of mindfulness and awareness, the “more we bring our attachments into awareness, the freer we become, not because we eliminate the attachments, but because we learn to identify more with awareness than with desire.  Using our capacity for consciousness, we can change perspective on ourselves, giving a sense of space where once there was only habit.  Discipline means restraining the habitual movement of the mind, so that instead of blind impulse there can be clear comprehension” (p. 71).  Since we are in a time of such tremendous Taurus energy, and Taurus has a strong tendency to want to hold onto past habits of comfort in order to gain a sense of self-security, it will be especially important now to practice greater awareness and mindfulness of our attachments.

So in this time of great Taurus energy, we can perhaps use our powerful sensory abilities to become more aware of our desires.  This is somewhat similar to the “diamond approach” of A.H. Almaas that involves sensing one’s body in an ongoing basis, with focus on a point in the belly, helping one to become more grounded in physical body and physical reality, and eventually bringing with it the potential to become more in touch with a spiritual essence.  To me, this is also somewhat similar to “gut wisdom” and the danger that if we are not practicing awareness, we can end up reacting to events from our guts that are more rooted in our past wounding than from a place of heart-centered awareness of the moment.  The potential of using Taurus sensory awareness to develop greater connection with Spirit and presence in the Now of the constant flux of life, also reminds me of the wisdom contained in Taoism.  In particular the following quote from the Tao Te Ching translation by Stephen Mitchell (45), brings up for me the perspective we can gain from losing attachment to form so that we can truly use the form of our life in greater alignment with what is actually happening around us:

True perfection seems imperfect,

yet it is perfectly itself.

True fullness seems empty,

yet it is fully present.

True straightness seems crooked.

True wisdom seems foolish.

True art seems artless.

The Master allows things to happen.

She shapes events as they come.

She steps out of the way

and lets the Tao speak for itself.

bull in lascaux cave

Current Transits in Taurus & Scorpio

As I am writing this, the Sun and all of the personal planets are in Taurus:  Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, and Venus is literally in the final culminating minutes of her most recent pass through Taurus.  This Taurus energy is even more intense today as later we will experience a Solar Eclipse in Taurus, with the Sun and Moon within a few degrees of the South Node of the Moon in Taurus.  The fact that the South Node of the Moon is  in Taurus means collectively, all souls on our planet are processing and synthesizing past issues connected with Taurus, including past life issues that could be buried in our unconscious.  The image of the Bull above in the ancient caves of Lascaux, France represents just how long the archetypal image of the Bull has been significant to humans- we are talking over 17,000 years ago most likely!  Once we step into belief in the possibility of us having a soul, a soul that has had previous incarnations on this planet, we step into the possibility that we could be impacted somewhere in our psyche by events from even as long ago as when this bull above was painted on the wall of a cave.

We can again bring the Buddha into our discussion of these times of Taurus because part of his spiritual awakening involved knowledge of his many previous incarnations, bringing the awareness that we all have a soul we have been re-incarnating in many different forms in many different lifetimes or incarnations.  In astrology, two of the approaches I am most drawn to are deeply connected with the Soul:  Evolutionary Astrology and Esoteric Astrology.  It is fascinating that both of these astrological approaches have a channeled background:  the Evolutionary Astrology paradigm as taught by Jeffrey Wolf Green originally came to Jeff in a dream, in Sanskrit from Sri Yuketswar, the guru of Yogananda;  in comparison, the Esoteric Astrology material was channeled by Alice Bailey from the Tibetan Master D.K., and is currently being taught and made popular by Alan Oken and his work in astrology.  In her book Esoteric Astrology, Alice Bailey described the connection between Taurus and incarnation:

As the individual descends into incarnation and when he takes an astral shell (emotional body), he definitely comes into a Taurian cycle, for it is desire which impels to rebirth and it takes the potency of Taurus to bring this about.

–Alice Bailey, Esoteric Astrology, p. 380

This link between desire and re-incarnation is part of the answer to my question at the beginning of this article concerning the origins of our desires, and why we have them.  The Evolutionary Astrology paradigm taught by Jeffrey Wolf Green also places great importance on the connection between our desires, our Soul, and our past incarnations.  Green teaches that the placement and aspects of Pluto describes the types of desires the soul has had in previous lives that have a direct connection to the current evolutionary intentions of the current lifetime- in Sanskrit this archetype is called Prarabdha Karma.  As a result of Pluto correlating with our soul desires, Green teaches that it also correlates with our deepest sense of security, meaning that by connecting with the sources of our soul desires, we can maintain a sense of self-consistency and security- so we tend to have a hard time moving beyond our desires as they are connected with our soul, our previous incarnations, and our comfort zone.

With regards to the South Node of the Moon, Green describes it as correlating to the kind of ego identities that the soul has created in past lives in order to actualize the evolutionary desires of the soul.  Since the current South Node of the Moon in Taurus will be conjunct the Solar Eclipse today, all of our soul desires on a collective and individual level could be triggered.   Amazingly, the Sabian Symbol for the current South Node of the Moon in Taurus at 17 degrees is connected with the story of Gautama Siddhartha in his process of becoming the Buddha.  In An Astrological Mandala, Dane Rudyar links the symbol for 17 Taurus to the Buddha in this way:

When Gautama, having sought in vain for the answers to his questions among the teachers of tradition, sat under the Bodhi Tree, he had to fight his own battle in his own way, even though it is an eternal fight.  The spiritual light within the greater Soul must struggle against the ego-will that only knows how to use the powers of this material and intellectual world.  There is no possibility of escape; it is the energy that arises out of the present moment- the inescapable NOW- that the daring individual has to use in the struggle.

The symbol is A SYMBOLICAL BATTLE BETWEEN “SWORDS” and “TORCHES,” and according to Dane Rudhyar, “suggests that salvation is attained through the emergent individual’s readiness to face all issues as if there were only two opposed sides . . . a stage of POLARIZATION OF VALUES” (p.  81).  Tied into this symbol is a “seeker” who has transformed into a “warrior,” “refusing to depend upon the past,” and “fighting anew the eternal Great War” (p. 81).  Polarity is an important concept in Evolutionary Astrology as well, for example integrating the polarity point of Pluto (Cancer to Capricorn; Scorpio to Taurus) is connected to our evolutionary development similar to integrating the North Node of the Moon.  Taurus being the sign of the South Node of the Moon at this time makes us even more magnetized than usual to past patterns because of the comfort Taurus finds in the stability, and so it will take the intense transformation energy of it’s archetypal polarity, Scorpio, to force us onto a path of greater evolutionary growth.

Since eclipses often correlate with sudden and unexpected events that can be uncomfortable, this Sabian Symbol of Gautama becoming the Buddha suggests we could experience spiritual growth through facing the events without attachment to our past, and through welcoming the struggle between the will of our soul and the will of our ego personality- achieving growth in consciousness through the conflict.  Rudhyar’s description of the Buddha in this Sabian Symbol is also a timely image for the current South Node of the moon because it brings a sense of an active warrior energy to the traditional image of a calm, peaceful Buddha-  this is because we will need to actively move beyond our ties to past patterns of desire into greater freedom and a new life of meaning amid the flux of changes that will most likely occur in this time period of eclipses.  Today’s eclipse correlating with greater awareness of spiritual forces is further shown through the Sabian Symbol of the Solar Eclipse at 20 degrees Taurus:  “Wisps of winglike clouds streaming across the sky,”  described by Dane Rudhyar as a sign that an “individual who has taken a new step in his evolution should look for the ‘Signature’ of divine Powers confirming his progress . . . The ‘winglike clouds’ may also symbolize the presence of celestial beings (devas, angels) blessing and subtly revealing the direction to take, the direction of ‘the wind’ of destiny” (Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala, p. 83).  If we make the difficult or uncomfortable choice to move out of our comfort zone into accordance with our evolutionary growth- again, this could feel like a polarity to the desires and values we feel secure with- we will hopefully receive guidance or signs of synchronicity showing we are on the correct path.

It will not be easy to be move beyond patterns of desire associated with the South Node of the Moon because of the large number of transits currently impacting it:  on May 6, the Sun was conjunct the South Node of the Moon in Taurus, and on May 7 Mercury and Mars became conjunct in range of a conjunction with the South Node (the third conjunction of Mercury and Mars in 2013:  they were conjunct twice in Pisces in February).  So our soul purpose (Sun), perception and organization of reality (Mercury) and sense of Will (Mars) will all be connected with the South Node at the time of the eclipse.  The recent Mercury and Mars cycle is connected with the intense Pisces energy we experienced in February (which then became the intense Aries energy of April, the intense Taurus energy of May- more so than normal just so you know!). On February 8, Mercury and Mars were conjunct in Pisces (also conjunct Neptune and Chiron in Pisces and square Jupiter in Gemini), and then once Mercury stationed retrograde, they were conjunct again on February 26, 2013 in square to Ceres in Gemini (I wrote about this here:  https://esotericembers.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/an-angel-watches-over-an-argument-between-ceres-and-mercury/).  Now, three months later, they are finally conjunct once again, conjunct the South Node of the Moon at the same time as a Solar Eclipse conjunct the South Node of the Moon!  In the time of Pisces we were able to open to some sense somewhere of greater vision and possibility in our life- now is the time to manifest, and work with our mind to change the way we are thinking, to align our mind and our perceptions with not only our Will but the Divine Will of the Universe.  The Buddha and Buddhism teaches that we are what we think, that we become what we think, and that it is possible to change who and what we become in form, through changing the form of our thoughts.

In addition, with Jupiter continuing to be in Gemini and Venus moving into the beginning of Gemini at the time of the eclipse, we could experience a flood of information concerning the desires we have that are linked with past incarnations, more information than could even seem useful because of the overwhelming feeling it brings.  It again brings up the issue of whether or not all this information, this going into our past problems can help us- and again, the advice of the Buddha to train mind, discipline mind, in order to disentangle ourselves from our past thoughts and desires, in order to change through changing the way we think, does feel helpful to me.  Indeed, if we look at the Sabian Symbol for the North Node of the Moon, 17 degrees Scorpio, at the time of today’s Solar Eclipse, we will see that we do indeed have this power of divine thought within us:

Scorpio 17:  A Woman, fecundated by her own spirit, is “Great with child.”

Keynote:  A total reliance upon the dictates of the God-within.

. . . here we see the result of a deep and complete concentration reaching to the innermost center of the personality where the Living God acts as a fecundating power.  This reveals the potency of the inward way, the surrender of the ego to a transcendent Force which can create through the person vivid manifestations of the Will of God.

–Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala, p. 202

So even though the strong Taurus energy in this time period could potentially correspond with us falling into even more of a comfort zone than normal, we can use the deep rooted centering of Taurus to help us be present to the transformations occurring around us with our full being.  But in order to do this in connection with our evolutionary intentions, we will need to do it while integrating the polarity of Taurus: Scorpio.  Scorpio is the polarity to Taurus, and the location of our collective focus of evolutionary growth in the form of the North Node of the Moon, as well as the current location of Saturn, the great karmic master of our three dimensional reality here.

mahakala

At the time of today’s eclipse, the North Node of the Moon and Saturn will be widely conjunct in Scorpio.  Saturn in Scorpio to me is like the karmic taskmaster Mahakala, seen in the image above.  Mahakala is always depicted with five skulls, the five skulls standing for the transmutation of desires into wisdom.  Mahakala destroys ignorance, confusion, and doubt, he is the Lord of Time and the Lord of Death, and to me is like Saturn in Scorpio in that he may seem intense and even wrathful, but in his intensity he purifies and protects.  At this time of Saturn in Scorpio standing in opposition to the extreme magnetic desire energy of Taurus, it is a time for us to face our desires and places we are acting out of confusion without fear.  It is a time to go through death, because death is our friend in transformation-  like Mahakala, we can make friends with our own personal “demons” and integrate ourselves into greater consciousness, as Mahakala turns demons into protection.  It is like how Taurus rules our desires for form, and in Scorpio we transcend or transmute our desires beyond attachment to form.  It is like the phoenix rising from the flames.  We do not fear death, we step into it and experience our freedom.  In another passage from Going Into Being, Mark Epstein explains his understanding of Nirvana and how it is not really about death, it is about the freedom we gain from releasing the fear of death:

Nirvana is the Buddha’s word for freedom, not for death.  It is his answer to the problem of common unhappiness, to the anxiety that is encapsulated most clearly in the fear of death.  Nirvana, as the late San Francisco Zen master Suzuki Roth put it, is the capacity to maintain one’s composure in the face of ceaseless change.  The key, from the Buddha’s perspective, is to find nirvana through overcoming one’s own self-created obstacles to that composure.  The path to nirvana means working with one’s own reactions to the change that surrounds us, to the change that we are.

–Mark Epstein, Going on Being: Buddhism and the Way of Change, p. 125

Joseph Campbell and others have elaborated upon the significance of ritualistic deaths in myths and in the reality of cultures around our planet, in that the important thing is that the participants believe they are going to die, and so experience a death of their infantile ego.  Some of the most widely practiced ancient rituals were connected with myths of the underworld, resurrection, and transcendence of form, such as the myth of Demeter and Persephone, and the myth of Isis and Osiris.  Going through a near death experience, or a ritualistic experience in which we believe we may die, helps us destroy our ego perspective that feels dependent upon society or the expectations of others to validate our authority, and helps us step into our own inner authority in an authentic manner without fear of judgment.  I do not mean to suggest that we need to go through a death experience at this time in our lives, just that the symbol of death and transformation associated with the archetype of Scorpio is very important right now, being the polarity to so much Taurus energy.

In fact, this transformation we could experience at this time could be quite peaceful, calm, and meditative, if we are using some of the wisdom teachings of the Buddha.  The Sabian Symbol for the current placement of Saturn in Scorpio is especially illuminating in this way:

Scorpio 8:  A calm lake bathed in moonlight

Keynote:  A quiet openness to higher inspiration

One could stress the romantic suggestions such an image evokes, but even at the level of a love relationship what is implied is a surrender of two personal egos to the inspiration of transcendent feelings which are essentially impersonal.  Love expresses itself through the lovers, for real Love is a cosmic undifferentiated principle or power which simply focuses itself within the “souls” of human beings who reflect its light.  The same is true of the mystic’s love for God.  Man strives hard to achieve great things through daring adventures, but a moment comes when all that really matters is to present a calm mind upon which a supernal light may be reflected.

–Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala, p. 196

To quote one of my favorite wise womyn on planet earth, master herbalist Carol Trasatto, this “balm of calm” could be quite helpful in these intense days ahead.  If we can reach within for this calm state of mind and being, we can be like the reflective surface of a tranquil lake receiving the glow of the full moon, like our calm mind receiving the Light of Spirit.  A helpful meditation for these upcoming times can be found in this translation of the Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell (63):

Act without doing;

work without effort.

Think of the small as large

and the few as many.

Confront the difficult

while it is still easy;

accomplish the great task

by a series of small acts.

The Master never reaches for the great;

thus she achieves greatness.

When she runs into a difficulty,

she stops and gives herself to it.

She doesn’t cling to her own comfort;

thus problems are no problem for her.

Buddhist_Vajravarahi_Yantra

Harmony through Conflict

Times of eclipses are usually never easy, but when exactly is life easy for humans on our planet these days?  If we look at the symbol above, a six pointed star or what is often commonly referred to as the “Star of David,” we can see a symbol to meditate upon for guidance.  Similar to the symbol of the cross, the six pointed star meets in the middle, in the heart.  The triangle pointing upward symbolizes the transmutation of our lower nature into our higher nature, and the triangle pointing downward symbolizes the integration of our higher nature into our lower nature:  they meet in the middle, the heart.  Just as the cross meets in the middle, the heart.  The heart is the fourth chakra (the middle chakra, with three above and three below), just like humans are the fourth kingdom (three kingdoms below- mineral, plant, animal, and three kingdoms above- the soul, and the more “angelic” realms).  Sound like the middle path?  Using the number seven as a symbol for consciousness in these ways, we find that the number four is in the middle, and the number four stands for being heart-centered.  This connects with the Fourth Ray of Esoteric Astrology:  as Alan Oken teaches, what is the conflict?  Meat!  Being in the flesh, being incarnated in our physical form on this planet in the middle of extreme energies!  And what is the harmony?  Consciousness, and living a heart-centered life.  Fittingly for this Taurus eclipse season, the two main signs of the 4th Ray are Taurus and Scorpio- Taurus, the sign of being in form, beauty and art, and “the creation of the various forms of life and the ultimate release of consciousness from them that constitutes the lessons of daily living” (Oken, p.120), and Scorpio, the archetype of transcending attachment to form, ruled by Pluto on our ego level because of bringing about the death process of our desire nature.  Alan Oken has already written a brilliant summary of this dynamic, that could relate to intense events corresponding with these series of eclipses while the third Pluto-Uranus square is happening at the same time:

There is a common rhythm for those crises brought on through the urgency of Fourth Ray energy.  It may be outlined as follows:  A person finds herself in a relative state of harmony, but then a certain change enters her life, shifting the status quo.  Such a change brings on the tensions of the struggle between the past and the unfolding future, between the urge for things to stay the same and the inevitability of transformation.  A battle ensues between the two opposing forces, which leads to a passing and a death of the form of the situation.  She is left with the struggle to reconstruct a new form out of the experiences of the battle that has just taken place.  This new form consolidates and settles, and once again there is harmony– until the entrance of the next change!  Is this not the rhythm and movement of Scorpio?  The Fourth Ray, the human state, forces the resolution of conflict, the harmonizing of the pairs of opposites, and the eventual evolution from the focus of instinct and desire to the release into consciousness and pure, essential love.

–Alan Oken, Soul-Centered Astrology, p. 121

In these times of eclipses, with the third intense Pluto-Uranus square fast approaching on May 20, may we be heart-centered, heart-focused, and live from the heart.  If we can combine this with the guidance the Buddha brings to us in this season of Taurus, to train our minds to disentangle from the desires preventing us from sensing our true being in the world without interruption, we will have a heightened ability to shift and flow with whatever intense events may be on the horizon of our lives.

Hathor as a cow, from the papyrus of Ani

References

1. A.H. Almaas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._H._Almaas

2. Epstein, Mark. (200. Going on Being:  Buddhism and the Way of Change. Broadway Books.

3. Mitchell, Stephen (1988). Tao Te Ching. Harper Collins.

4. Oken, Alan.(1990). Soul-Centered Astrology:  A Key to Your Expanding Self.  Ibis.

5. Rudhyar, Dane. (1974).  An Astrological Mandala:  The Cycle of Transformations and its 360 Symbolic Phases. Vintage.