Synchrony of Mars and Saturn

L'Enigme_de_Gustave_Doré

L’Enigme (1870) by Gustave Dore

L’Enigme by Gustave Dore is a famous representation of profound despair over the destruction wrought by humanity, an apocalyptic atmosphere brought on by the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.  Dore has been said to have been inspired by the Victor Hugo verse, “What a spectacle! Thus dies everything that man creates! A past such as this is a deep abyss for the soul!”  When the war in 1870 between France and Prussia began, there was an opposition between Mars in Gemini and Saturn in Sagittarius.  In 2016 we have been experiencing an extended period of time heavily influenced by Mars and Saturn that has coincided with numerous collective events inducing fear and terror.

Every night in recent months  we have been able to watch the red planet Mars aglow in a triangular formation with Saturn and the fixed star Antares.  Ever since Mars stationed retrograde in mid-April at nine degrees of Sagittarius conjoining the fixed star Antares, with Saturn co-present at sixteen degrees of Sagittarius, Mars has been destined to return to Sagittarius in August 2016 and come into conjunction with both Saturn and Antares.  Mars and Saturn will exactly conjoin on August 24 at ten degrees of Sagittarius, but for most of August and September they will be co-present in Sagittarius and especially close between the middle of August and beginning of September.  What has made this period of Mars and Saturn even more difficult is the simultaneous square formed between Neptune in Pisces and Saturn, a square that will become activated to new levels in August when Mars joins with Saturn in tension to Neptune.

Mars and Saturn are categorized as malefic planets in traditional astrology because they are said to cause trouble and signify difficult experiences.  Yet, it is also not true that Mars and Saturn always signify negative experiences by transit, no more than do the benefic planets Venus and Jupiter always signify positive experiences by transit.  The crucial aspect is what condition these planets find themselves in the natal chart when analyzing one’s individual experience.  There are also of course positive ways to work with both Saturn and Mars.

An excellent source for the origins of these views on Mars and Saturn is Vettius Valens, a second century Hellenistic astrologer from modern day Turkey who traveled extensively, including through Egypt, in search of astrological knowledge.  A working astrologer, Valens in his Anthologies gave lists for the significations of Saturn and Mars which reveal their malefic nature.  For Saturn, Valens noted it is the “Star of Nemesis” and included such descriptions as malignant, petty, self-deprecating, solitary, deceitful, strict, miserable, humblings, sluggishness, obstacles and subversions in business, griefs, tears, and bereavement, yet also “puts into one’s hands great ranks and distinguished positions.”  For Mars, Valens wrote it “controls the hard and abrupt” and gave descriptions including force, wars, violence, banishment, exile, lies, vain hopes, looting, anger, fighting, lawsuits, wandering, quarrels, yet also both love affairs and marriages, craftwork, masonry, campaigns and leadership, and actions involving fire or iron.

Across time in astrology there has been developed ways of working with Mars and Saturn that focus on positive outcomes that can come from their union, such as welding the passionate, burning energy of Mars to the disciplined, determined focus of Saturn.  Yet even when put into positive terminology, Mars and Saturn correlate with overcoming challenges, working hard, and persisting with commitment rather than anything to do with luxuriating in soft comforts of pleasure.  And indeed, Mars and Saturn can correlate with incredibly difficult, traumatic situations of loss and suffering that lay souls bare.  In combination with the square between Neptune and Saturn, the difficult experiences of this time can provoke profound disillusionment and despair.  In such circumstances in which external sources of stability are shaken, one must turn within in order to nurture one’s ability to find meaning and security or risk falling into despondency.  In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the brooding prince suffering from the murder of his father famously gave the following speech that voices disenchantment with the world of humanity:

“I have of late, -but wherefore I know not,- lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and, indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire,- why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving, how express and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor woman neither . . . “

Though Hamlet has been interpreted as struggling with inaction in his story, and Saturn can be a constrictive influence on Mars, typically Mars and Saturn correspond with the types of challenges that necessitate action in order to stabilize or survive.  Interestingly, in late September 1604 Shakespeare would have experienced a transit of Mars conjoining Saturn at ten degrees of Sagittarius- this would have been a couple of years after Hamlet had been written and performed, and may have coincided with his writing of Othello which was performed in November 1604.

Unlike Hamlet in the above quote, recent experiences may have brought one to find greater sustenance in the radiance of the natural world as mediation for personal difficulties, or solace in relationships involving deep, loyal bonds- yet disillusionment and catharsis regarding past desires or beliefs is likely.  The influence of Neptune in square to Saturn during this period of Mars-Saturn challenges was described brilliantly by Richard Tarnas in his essay The Ideal and the Real about hard aspects between Saturn and Neptune:  archetypes which bring up issues of “matter versus spirit, the concretely empirical and literal versus the imaginative and the ideal, the finite and temporal versus the infinite and eternal.”  Analyzing the work of William Blake, Oscar Wilde, and James Hillman (individuals who were all born with Saturn and Neptune in hard aspect), Tarnas wrote “in all three of these individuals, one can also recognize a definite impulse towards deconstructive skepticism, a passion to strip away illusions and hypocrisies, as well as emphatically critical attitudes toward conventional philosophical and religious beliefs expressed in work after work.”  As Hamlet remarked to his good friend Horatio, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Adding Mars into the mix of the square between Saturn and Neptune influences the revelation of illusions and hypocrisies that will come about in August and September to involve archetypal themes of Mars such as strife, separation, conflict, and burning passions.  Neptune and Saturn will form their third and final exact square in this series on 10 September 2016 at ten degrees of Sagittarius and Pisces, with Mars occupying twenty degrees of Sagittarius at that time.  Previously, when Saturn and Neptune formed a square on 17 June 2016, Mars was retrograde in Scorpio.  At the first square between Saturn and Neptune on 26 November 2015 at seven degrees of Pisces and Sagittarius, Mars was at eight degrees of Libra and so forming a sextile to Saturn but not creating a catalytic influence as it will in the month ahead.

Bonatti-Saturn

from Guido Bonatti’s Decem Tractatus Astronomiae (1491)

This year’s conjunction between Mars and Saturn stands out for a few reasons:  the extended period of time due to Mars retrograde that Saturn and Mars engage with one another, the square with Neptune in Pisces, and the additional conjunction of Mars and Saturn with the fixed star Antares. Antares is named for being the “rival of Mars” because it is a giant binary star that glows red in our night sky. Considered to be the heart of the Scorpion constellation, Antares is one of the four ancient royal stars of Persia that were utilized in the past by sky watchers to anchor the seasons, with Antares holding down the season of Fall.  Ptolemy linked Antares with Mars and Jupiter, Vivian Robson portrayed Antares as destructive and obstinate, and while Reinhold Ebertin deduced Antares can give mental sharpness and courage, if combined with Mars Ebertin believed the bravery of Antares would become reckless and dangerous.  There is a long tradition of warning about the dangers of hubris combined with headstrong martial force in connection to Antares, yet the clearly forceful and determined correspondences of Antares could also be put to thoughtful use.

The current presidential election in the United States of America fits well with these traditional themes of Mars, Saturn, and Antares as the two candidates are despised by the majority of the population in part for their hubris, dishonesty, and corruption.  It is a unique election in which neither candidate is seen as being likable, and as a result both campaigns will likely be even more aggressive in attacks against one another than normal.  Furthermore, the recent Republican Convention was dominated by chaos and conflict, with political rival Ted Cruz becoming booed off stage for refusing to endorse Donald Trump, and numerous speakers calling for opponent Hilary Clinton to be locked up in prison, Ben Carson going as far as to link her with Lucifer. Then, there was the acceptance speech given by Donald Trump that not only was the longest in recorded convention history but also had the unique presentation of having almost every word shouted with anger.  Continuing the trend of disastrous conflict, as the Democratic Convention prepared to open a political scandal erupted confirming that the Democratic National Committee had been conspiring against the candidacy of Bernie Sanders during the primary elections.

In Europe and the Middle East, the refugee crisis has been a longstanding issue that links more with the timing of the square between Saturn and Neptune than the influence of Mars and Saturn.  However, the use of fear over refugees helped fuel the shocking Brexit vote in which the United Kingdom separated from the European Union, a Mars shockwave of strife that will have far reaching influence and now needs to be dealt with in Saturn-like fashion.  There has also been a string of mass murders that have caused terror in recent months in both the United States and Europe, as well as increases in violence in the wars that were already waging.  In addition, the protests by Black Lives Matter and other activists in the United States against the killing of African Americans by law enforcement have risen to amplified levels of conflict in the past month following the killing of law enforcement officers by lone renegade gunmen.  These are just some of the collective conflicts that will be feeding into the challenges being worked out in correspondence with the conjunction between Mars, Saturn, and Antares in the next month.

Bonatti-Mars

From Guido Bonatti’s Decem Tractatus Astronomiae (1491) 

Typically when Mars and Saturn conjoin it is a short-term transit.  Mars conjoined Saturn in Sagittarius the last time in February 1986 at nine degrees, and by the end of the following March the red planet had already left Sagittarius.  The last time there was extended interplay between Mars and Saturn was in 1984, when Mars conjoined Saturn in Scorpio in February 1984 at seventeen degrees.  In April 1984, Mars stationed retrograde at the end of Scorpio and moved back to come very close to conjoining Saturn again in June 1984 when it stationed direct at 12 degrees with Saturn retrograde at 11 degrees.  During this time period in 1984 there were numerous collective conflicts such as Iran accusing Iraq of using chemical weapons in their war.  It was also the period of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, and it was at this time that the Soviet Union announced it would boycott the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles, California.

Athletics and other arenas of competition will be appropriate outlets to unleash the force of Mars and Saturn, and so the 2016 Summer Olympics that will occur during the conjunction of Mars and Saturn will no doubt feature incredible drama.    In one’s personal life during August as Mars and Saturn come into conjunction, it will be an opportune time to diligently prepare and work hard.  It will be enlivening to have a meaningful personal project to invest energy into, as well as maintain physical exercise and spiritual practices that release stress and foster balance.  While Mars and Saturn can coincide with conflicts and difficulties, they are also vital catalyzers in the creation of great works, the building of supportive life structures, and the taking of ambitious initiative.  As Saturn can have a restrictive influence on Mars, their union in Sagittarius (home of Jupiter) will reveal in personal experience how structure and containment can lead to expansion of wisdom and creativity in the end.

bookred.54

Image 54 by Carl Jung from The Red Book

Currently Mars is finishing its pass through the sign of Scorpio that has dominated 2016 so far, as Mars will re-enter Sagittarius on 2 August 2016.  Mars entered Scorpio on 3 January 2016 where it remained until March 5 when Mars entered Sagittarius.  Mars re-entered Scorpio on 27 May 2016 while retrograde where it has remained since, meaning that for the vast majority of the year so far Mars has been in Scorpio.  Mars dug up deep material in need of purging while retrograde in Scorpio, and although Mars stationed direct in Scorpio on June 29, the slow forward momentum of Mars through Scorpio has continued to be cathartic.  The transit of Mars through Scorpio is additionally karmic due to the previous pass of Saturn through Scorpio from 6 October 2012 until 23 December 2014, and then again from June 14 until September 17, 2015.  In the third decan of Scorpio where Mars has moved backward and forward in the past few months, Saturn in Scorpio previously transited from 29 December 2013 through 12 May 2014, 26 September through 23 December 2014, and from 14 June through 17 September 2015.  The karma of events that occurred during these previous transits of Saturn through the third face of Scorpio likely have resurfaced to be processed and dealt with during the retrograde and stationing direct of Mars in the past couple of months.

From a traditional astrological standpoint, Mars in Scorpio and Saturn in Sagittarius have not been able to see each other by aspect during this time since the end of May, and so through their aversion have been operating independently of one another.  Yet since Mars originally stationed retrograde in range of a very wide conjunction to Saturn, there is a way in which they have remained bound, especially visibly in the night sky.  Scorpio is the home of Mars and yet Mars has been moving incredibly slow, leading to the past few months being potent in frustrating ways that have required patience.  As Mars moved retrograde in Scorpio it kept peeling and then peeling even further deeper into the core of internal desires and complexes, bringing up agonizing experiences for those dealing with grief and loss, and shaking the foundations of identity for others.  As Mars stood still and began moving direct again, the pain for many continued without the old desires and attachments fully burning off, or the new developing presence embodied.  Now as Mars nears the end of its pass through Scorpio, I have been getting the sense that those who have been engaged actively with internal work will begin to feel a palpable shift in releasing the past and embracing the new.

Once Mars re-enters Sagittarius in August, the combined influence of Mars and Saturn working together will become more apparent.  The last time that Mars and Saturn conjoined was in August 2014 in the sign of Scorpio, a month that was notable for upsetting events.  This was the period of ISIL capturing cities while creating terror in global media, and the launching of air strikes by the USA in response.  It was also the time of the suicide of Robin Williams, an event that evoked widespread collective mourning.  Important with regard to recent current events in the USA, the shooting of Michael Brown on 9 August 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement and led to widespread protests.  Again, despite distressing collective events on a personal level it is entirely possible that productive actions and developments can occur as Mars and Saturn come together this next month in August.  One thing I have noticed in my work is that projects initiated during a conjunction between Mars and Saturn can be long lasting and have tremendous staying power, but often are very slow to develop and may not manifest desired results until much later.

Finally, it is worth noting that during the calamitous square between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries that has dominated astrology since 2011, Pluto has been in the home of Saturn and Uranus has been in the home of Mars.  It has been so easy to become caught up in the dynamics between Pluto and Uranus and their wrecking ball impact, we can forget that both have been under the influence of Mars and Saturn the entire time. Recently there has been a quincunx formed between Uranus with Mars as it stationed direct that added to the atmosphere of frustration (the quincunx was most exact from mid June through mid July).  Issues that have come up with the quincunx between Uranus and Mars will shift dramatically once Mars enters Sagittarius and both Saturn and Mars will be in a sign that forms a trine to Aries where Uranus is residing.  Ideally, out of the difficulties corresponding with Mars and Saturn will arise some liberation from past restraints via Uranus.  Mars will form a trine with Uranus in mid September.

14 Temperance (Art)

XIV Art by Lady Frieda Harris

The XIV Art arcanum in tarot, traditionally known as Temperance, is associated with the alchemical mixture of Fire and Water and the astrological sign of Sagittarius. My brilliant friend  Pamela Coeur Norris who is an ingenious practitioner of tarot, recently made a comment on my Full Moon in Capricorn article on social media that the XIV Art card is the arcanum that truly addresses the intent to blend the powers of Fire and Water, in addition to being associated with Sagittarius.  I asked her if she would share any insights she has about XIV Art in relation to Mars finishing up its time in Scorpio in order to enter Sagittarius and a union with Saturn.  I’ve paraphrased her response in the following paragraph, with a minor inclusion of my own.

The Alchemist, XIV, is the mediator between XIII Death (Scorpio ruled by Mars) and XV Devil (Capricorn ruled by Saturn). This is a tumultuous meeting, and an arbitrator might be necessary. Sagittarius is the perfect spot—particularly since Jupiter’s “not home” and is instead in the mediating, Mercurial sign of Virgo.  Who will dominate this meeting? Mars certainly has the fire power, yet Saturn has the staying power, and most likely the last word. The Alchemist must ascertain just how much Martian gunpowder to load into the Saturnian cannon. We must take into account that Mars is XVI Tower energy—the eye of Shiva (let’s destroy the world) and Saturn is XXI Universe energy—Karma king (let’s use our fire wisely to burn off only whats dead and complete).  Sagittarius is the liberator here, the focus that creates the path for Mars and Saturn to aim toward freedom.  When Mars and Saturn work together in the right measure we can let go of our drama and loosen the bondages of attachment.

The overt alchemical image of XIV Art in the Thoth deck is a modification of the traditional XIV Temperance card that also involves alchemical imagery and concepts.  As the etymology of the word Temperance involves roots of “restraint” and “moderation,” there is a further compelling link with the fact that Saturn can have a restraining, moderating impact upon Mars.  On a psychological level, this can relate to being accountable and responsible, with Saturn bringing integrity to the will-force of Mars in Sagittarius, a sign comfortable with living from an ethical philosophy.  In alchemy, the work we could link to the XIV Temperance arcanum is about freeing the being of Light contained within our earthy, fleshy, incarnate form.  This is why Carl Jung found resonance between the symbols of alchemy with his concept of individuation and the symbols produced by those he helped individuate.  Even within surrounding external conflicts, it is possible to use the structure of Saturn to seal oneself from outside toxicity, containing and guiding the volatile Mars to bring about essential growth that will ultimately have a positive impact in the greater collective.

Temperance arcanum

XIV Temperance by Pamela Colman smith

 

References

Tarnas, Richard. (2009). The Ideal and the Real: Saturn-Neptune. Archai: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology. Vol. 1, No. 1.

Valens, Vettius.   Anthologies, Book One.  Translated by Mark Riley.

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Saturn in Sagittarius

Saturn in Sagittarius infrared rings

Saturn’s rings in infrared courtesy of NASA

Saturn in Sagittarius

On December 23, 2014 following a Solstice New Moon, the demanding task-master Saturn entered the shifting, fiery, and focused sign of Sagittarius.  This new transit of Saturn in Sagittarius has resonance with the Solstice, as Saturn will not leave Sagittarius for good until the Capricorn Solstice of 2017.  Saturn holds together the structure of our consciousness within our skeletal system on a personal level, and on a collective level coordinates the innumerable ingredients that form our consensus reality, or the predominant agreements that define what we mean by “reality.”  Saturn has a palpable impact on our lives by transit, and we can immediately feel the impact following its ingress into a new sign through personal experiences and collective events.  For example, both the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo satirical Parisian newspaper that sparked the “Je suis Charlie” movement around freedom of expression, and the publicity surrounding the plan of Pope Francis to present an encyclical on climate change that will urge action are signs reflecting the shift of Saturn into Sagittarius.

Yet to claim I know that these recent events are connected with Saturn shifting into Sagittarius from a tropical zodiac perspective brings up the potential shadow of Saturn in Sagittarius reflected by a rigid belief that “I know.”  In the recent massacre in Paris, dogmatic religious beliefs led the perpetrators to believe that they “knew” that their violent terrorism was justified, just as in 1956 when Saturn was previously in Sagittarius the racist beliefs of White Southerners in the United States led them to believe that their violent terrorism against Black Southerners protesting for equal rights was justified.  Cultivating a perspective that we “do not know” with Saturn in Sagittarius will help us open our mind to direct experience of the moment that is less conditioned by our previous beliefs and cultural understanding.

“Not knowing” also connects with how Carl Jung’s idea of archetypes has been integrated into astrology, in that although Jung saw archetypes as being archaic patterns connected to the farthest reaches of time, he also defined the concept of archetypes as a manifestation of archaic patterns that are forever changing.  It is worth remembering that when Jung described the meaning of archetypes, he said that we can never actually consciously “know” them, we can only deduce their meaning as reflected in such things as stories, symbols, and images.  Astrology or any other methodology of belief we utilize to help us navigate our reality can lead us astray when what we believe we know becomes so crystallized that our fixation on our own perspective causes us to be in denial of our actual reality.  While this is one potential pitfall of Saturn in Sagittarius, at the same time Saturn in Sagittarius brings the potential to deepen our understanding of reality through focused exploration of a belief system, practice, or subject matter.

Saturn in Sagittarius centaur

Fresco by Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi (1520)

Bearing in mind that our current transit of Saturn through Sagittarius is within a different astrological climate and collective milieu than previous Saturn in Sagittarius transits, we can draw upon archetypal understanding of Sagittarius to give us a perspective upon potential matters Saturn will concretize in our life.  The two most common images associated with Sagittarius are the Archer and the Centaur, and both cast their shadow over astrological analysis of Saturn’s time in this mutable fire sign.  The archer embodies the active, focused, and disciplined side of Sagittarius, as we will be called upon to take action on our visions that arose to our awareness during Saturn’s time in Scorpio.  To be successful we will need to apply the determined concentration of an archer keyed into a target, and in Sagittarius we will want this goal to be deeply resonant with the purpose and meaning we are currently finding in our life experience.

In the centaur we find unity beyond the duality of animalistic instincts and human rationalism, and connection with Creation and Nature.  As a result Saturn’s transit through Sagittarius is timely in addressing collective crises involving the quality of life in our water, in our air, and in the plants, animals, and life inhabiting our Earth.  In the figure of the evolved centaur Chiron, we find union with the medicine of creation and everything in our surroundings.  Chiron cultivated wholistic practices to create greater energetic balance, such as herbalism, astrology, meditation, and the martial arts.  During Saturn’s time in Sagittarius, we will have an opportunity to sharpen our skills and knowledge in daily practice, study, or exploration of a structured belief system that brings us greater understanding into not only the nature of our reality, but into our daily action and movement.  We also may come into conflict with others studying the same general subjects of focus from a different perspective of belief, especially in fields such as Astrology, Economics, Politics, and Religion that have a high level of theoretical underpinnings.  Ideally, by keeping an open mind in our dialogues with others, instead of defensively debating without listening to the other perspective, we can gain a sharper focus into the depths under sourcing our beliefs through cultivating thoughtful conversations with people holding vastly different perspectives.

The Guru is another strong association we have with Sagittarius, and Chiron was the guru of not only the centaurs, but countless humans who came to him at a pivotal stage of their hero’s journey.  When learning from guru sources, whether in an actual person or in a body of knowledge, we will want to remain rooted in our direct experience instead of over-consumed by the experience of the guru source.  The more we ground our learning into our daily life, we will glean the message most essential for us on a personal level, and this message then will become something we can offer to others in our community.  Yet, remembering the shadow side of Sagittarius, there is also the potential to become self-absorbed when digesting profound belief systems, with the danger of becoming so narcissistic in our integration of knowledge that we begin to unleash dogmatic diatribes or self-righteous preaching to others in our environment.  Ambition can overcome us in Sagittarius through overconsumption with desires for personal recognition, burning desire for whatever we desire, with self-centered awareness of the impact of personal action on others in the surrounding environment.  Unfortunately, where dogmatism and violent extremist behavior intersect, Saturn in Sagittarius will bring us face to face with with explosive traumatic events in the collective propagated by terrorists as well as heads of state.

Excess of all sorts can be found in the shadow of Sagittarius, a sign ruled by Jupiter.  Jupiter is also known as a guru and teacher, a storyteller whose narratives reveal our underlying nature.  Just as we can become excessively self-righteous, we can also become excessively self-critical, and Saturn in Sagittarius also carries a message for those who have been fearfully holding themselves back from their full actualization in the world around them.  Astrologer Liz Greene in her classic Saturn: a New Look at an Old Devil analyzed that a fear of failure is vital to overcome when Jupiter and Saturn are working together in our birth chart, because it can take courage to follow the intuitive guidance of Jupiter when its visionary quality calls us to leave the comfort zone of our consensus cultural conditioning.  If we allow our Saturn side to inhibit our Jupiter side, we can play it safe working a job that meets our basic survival needs yet does not serve the needs of our deeper Self that our Jupiter side can sense.  Sagittarius is a sign of vision, and Saturn here brings opportunity to take concrete action to structure our life around transformative impulses that transition us away from where we have been previously repressing ourselves through a limitation of belief:

Jupiter’s function in a psychological sense seems to be connected with the intuition and the faculty of creative imagination or visualisation. It is this intuitive faculty which responds to the meaning of a symbol and which makes us capable of apprehending the basic meaning or “soul” of an experience or a person without prior analysis. The direct experience of the inner world of meaning establishes the quality which we term faith; it is not built on any deductive reasoning nor on any practical experience, and it is not- contrary to the usual definition of the word- belief in the sense that it is a wish for something to be true. The man who has genuine faith has it because he knows, in an intuitive and non-rational way, that there is meaning and purpose to his experience and that it will unfold according to a pattern which contains intrinsic wisdom and purpose . . . The contact of Jupiter with Saturn appears to suggest the psychological necessity of transforming this faith into practical living so that the individual can live out what he intuitively senses to be the purpose of his life.    –Liz Greene, p. 122-123, Saturn: a New Look at an Old Devil

Saturn in Sagittarius will test our personal truth, bringing experiences that will challenge whether or not the vision we believe embodies our authenticity is taking us on a journey for a holy grail or a false grail.  The self-absorbed side of Sagittarius can also lead us to become encaved in isolation while taking in new forms of knowledge that bring us a satisfying sense that we are undergoing a significant process of individuation, and yet at the same time a realization that we have become detached from our surrounding community.  The polarity of Gemini to Sagittarius brings a movement to communicate the visionary Sagittarian ideas back into our collective, with a Mercurial sense of how to express our new insights in a medium of expression that can be understood by others, bridging our new vision with the prevailing one.  As easy as it is to write this or read this in a sentence, it is much more challenging to put into practice, and each lunar month this dynamic of Saturn in Sagittarius will be triggered by the Moon passing through the opposite degree of Gemini, as well as in April – June 2015 when Venus, Mars, Mercury, and the Sun pass through Gemini in opposition to Saturn in Sagittarius.

Saturn in Sagittarius ultraviolet rings

Saturn’s rings in ultraviolet courtesy of NASA

The mutable and expansive nature of Sagittarius is vital to comprehend when discerning how the current transit of Saturn in Sagittarius fits inside a different astrological context than past transits.  Saturn in Sagittarius has already entered a square aspect with Neptune in Pisces, and will eventually also move into a square aspect with Chiron in Pisces:  both of these are last quarter squares signifying as Dane Rudhyar taught, a crisis in consciousness. Jupiter will also become mutable in 2015 when it enters Virgo, eventually leading to a last quarter square between Jupiter in Virgo and Saturn in Sagittarius.  As the lunar nodes will also shift in 2015 into the South Node of the Moon occupying Pisces, and the North Node of the Moon occupying Virgo, the ingress of Saturn into Sagittarius marks the beginning of a new transitionary time of mutability that could feel chaotic at times within the falling apart of the familiar.

A Sagittarius Saturn in square to a Pisces Neptune initiates our entrance into this mutable time portal of decomposition that could lead to disillusionment, and many astrologers feel this intense Saturn-Neptune aspect could encase a sobering, leadening restraint around our personal dreams.  There remains potential within this aspect to build and structure significant steps along a path leading to our cherished vision, but in general this will be a time of gaining deeper awareness into the meaning behind our vision.  The last quarter square, the phase that Saturn in Sagittarius will experience with Neptune in Pisces, Chiron in Pisces, and Jupiter in Virgo, is a crisis of thought in which our old beliefs are called into question as we realize our old values and life structures no longer align with our evolving consciousness.  While this can be a time of deconstruction, destructuring, and deconditioning, we can also realize what aspects of our old belief and value system holds authentic truth to sustain as a point of focus. Saturn will move back into Scorpio during the Summer of the Northern Hemisphere and Winter of the Southern Hemisphere, and ideally this will re-connect us with one of the most important themes of Saturn in Scorpio:  honesty.  Sagittarius can have issues with dishonesty, and so we can keep in mind that one of the best remedies to help keep us honest is a staunch commitment to utilizing self-reflection to avoid being in denial.

Since Saturn in Sagittarius is a mutable fire sign, it will prod us into being actively engaged with the obstacles and challenges associated with the first quarter square between Pluto in Capricorn and Uranus in Aries, and all the deep shattering of personal and societal systems that have come with it.  In March 2015, Saturn in Sagittarius will station retrograde within a week of the final of the seven squares between Pluto and Uranus, after which we will finally move beyond the demarcation of their first quarter square.  Saturn asks us to be accountable for our choices that align with our goals, and while Sagittarius is an ambitious sign of determination, it’s mutable nature will allow our vision to shift in accordance with the manner in which our sense of personal truth evolves in the face of coming experiences. The inherent quality of our vision, and whether it is essentially about our own self-interest or serves the true needs of our surroundings, is key.  The fiery nature of Sagittarius brings a more inspirational, courageous, and creative initiative to Saturn, yet this same quality has the negative potential of selfishness, opportunism, and a lack of awareness of how our actions impact others.  Remembering the sextile between Sagittarius with Aquarius and Libra, it will be helpful to utilize objectifying self-reflection to be present with how well we are listening to the needs of our many relationships and how well we are responding.

The meaning of Saturn’s transit in Sagittarius changes generationally, yet there is a common thread through differing cosmic climates as can be seen in a list of famous individuals born at different times with Saturn in Sagittarius:  pop stars Madonna and Lady Gaga, civil rights leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, the shadowy Osama Bin Laden and Heinrich Himmler (leading figure of Nazi Germany), and bringers of light Anne Frank and Teresa of Avila.  Charles Darwin, a man whose theoretical scientific research helped to fundamentally change the way the general human populace views reality, was also born with a Saturn in Sagittarius conjunct Neptune in Sagittarius and his Ascendant in Sagittarius.  One theme of Saturn’s time in Sagittarius that will be strong in the coming years will be the connection of Sagittarius with personal truth and law, in particular the interplay between natural law and human-made law.  There was a compelling synchronicity that as Saturn entered Sagittarius this past month it was conjunct the Themis asteroid #24, as Themis is a daughter of Gaia and the Titaness of natural law, divine order, justice, and custom.  One battleground we will obviously see debates raging over law, legislation, and our natural environment will be climate change, and so it is fascinating that at the same time that Saturn entered Sagittarius it became widely publicized that Pope Francis would be forthcoming with an encyclical urging action that would be distributed throughout the global Catholic network of priests.

Pope Francis and Saturn in Sagittarius

Pope Francis

Pope Francis is an insightful figure to think about in connection with our current transit of Saturn in Sagittarius, and indeed he was born with his Sun conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Sagittarius.  While he inherently takes the role as a leader of a dogmatic religion into every environment he enters, he also has evolved the vision underlying the way in which his papal role interacts on the global stage.  First and foremost, he is our first Pope Francis, evoking the figure of Saint Francis who was an instrument of Spirit on behalf of the poor, the outcast, and the natural world.  Saint Francis never took vows of chastity or demanded conformity to all of the regulated rules of the Christian Church, and also was open to women taking on equal roles of spiritual authority.  Saint Francis lived a life of poverty and only asked to love Nature and for each to love and know God according to their own capacity.  The choice of Pope Francis to actively encourage action on climate change evokes the love of Saint Francis for creation, and is a use of his spiritual authority on behalf of nature and humanity.

Pope Francis has also re-focused the attention of the papacy on people living in poverty around the world, and he has made a constant effort to put humans first from a perspective that humans are part of creation and are not meant to be instruments of some industrial machine.  In a Christmas speech he criticized the existential schizophrenia of a Vatican he sees as being filled with gossip and rivalry, with priests hiding behind papers as part of a mechanism instead of opening up with human sensitivity to others.  Pope Francis was also instrumental in the process of President Obama opening up diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, and he also seems to be intent on breaking through places of crystallized, dogmatic separation between world leaders.

One of Saturn’s three trips through Sagittarius in the 20th Century was between the years of 1956 to 1958, and at this time another leader who became the voice of those oppressed and in poverty arose in prominence, Dr. Martin Luther King.  Martin Luther King was born with a Saturn in Sagittarius and experienced an extraordinary Saturn return that began during the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, leading to his home being burned down by Southern racists at the end of January 1956 with Saturn at the early degrees of Sagittarius. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, sparking the extraordinary Montgomery Bus Boycotts, Saturn was at the end of its transit of Scorpio.  There is some resonance here with our own recent time of Saturn closing out a transit of Scorpio, with a number of protest movements arising around issues of oppression.  What made the Montgomery Bus Boycotts so incredible was the amount of collective commitment and creative strategizing that was employed to shut down the system.

Martin Luther King and Saturn in Sagittarius

Martin Luther King during the Montgomery bus boycott of 1956

The year of 1956 when Saturn entered Sagittarius around January 13 has some similarities with Saturn’s transit in 2015, as just like this year Saturn stationed retrograde in March 1956 and then moved back into Scorpio again for a few months.  During Saturn’s initial time in Sagittarius the Montgomery activists faced a strong pushback from the legal system, including Martin Luther King being ordered to pay a fine or serve time in jail around the time Saturn stationed in March.  King’s decision to serve time in jail helped propel the movement further through media coverage, and by November 1956 when Saturn had returned again to Sagittarius the Supreme Court outlawed segregation on bus lines.

There remains the possibility that some of the investigations conducted by the U.S. federal government into the police killing of black men that dominated the headlines during 2014 will also lead to federal intervention through the legal system.  What is clear is that there is clear resonance between the rise of Martin Luther King into prominence when Saturn entered Sagittarius in 1956 with today’s transit, as well as the fact that events in Selma, Alabama that Martin Luther King was actively engaged in during the time of the Pluto and Uranus conjunction in 1965 have now been released as a major Hollywood film at this current time of the Pluto and Uranus square and Saturn again in Sagittarius.  King’s courageous, impassioned leadership combined with his role as a religious authority has clear connection to Saturn in Sagittarius, and his ability to stir up a collective torrent of debate over beliefs while remaining constant with a message of love in the face of hatred holds a powerful lesson that remains significant today to learn from:

If we are arrested every day, if we are exploited every day, if we are trampled over every day, don’t ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them. We must use the weapon of love. We must have compassion and understanding for those who hate us. We must realize so many people are taught to hate us that they are not totally responsible for their hate. But we stand in life at midnight, we are always on the threshold of a new dawn.

— Dr. Martin Luther King in a speech during the Montgomery bus boycotts

A further interesting connection with the figure and life of Martin Luther King and the upcoming mutable astrology time period is that Dr. King had a mutable t-square in his chart, with Mars in Gemini (2nd House) opposite Saturn in Sagittarius (8th House) with both in square to the Moon in Pisces (11th House).  Martin Luther King was able to use this intense mutable aspect in his chart to be a powerful storyteller and speaker who could communicate a message embodying deep meaning while being understood by a wide populace.  In our current upcoming transit, we can all learn from King’s ability to take decisive action when the time calls for action, and to communicate a heart-centered message of love while creating opportunities for discussion on societal issues that need to be addressed and not covered up or ignored.

The next period with Saturn in Sagittarius was between the years of 1986 and 1988, and during the entire transit Saturn was approaching a conjunction with Uranus that happened at the very end of Sagittarius.  There were once again strong African American voices in American culture in this period, for example with Jesse Jackson running for President, but most dominant in popular culture was the pre-eminence of Hip Hop in American popular music.  Two groups arose to celebrity status during the transit of Saturn in Sagittarius that exemplified it’s themes:  Public Enemy, whose 1987 album had the Sagittarian title Yo! Bum Rush the Show, and N.W.A. who released Straight Outta Compton at the end of Saturn’s transit in Sagittarius and made famous the Sagittarian line, “You are about to witness the strength of street knowledge.”

However, collectively the most major shift that occurred during this time was in Eastern Europe as the movements that led to widespread revolution in the region and later epochal events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in the Czech Republic took place.  While these later events occurred during Saturn’s transit of Capricorn, there were pivotal developments that made them possible during the transit of Saturn in Sagittarius such as Perestroika in the Soviet Union.  For example in Poland, a country that used the political innovation of “Round Table agreements” to facilitate a democracy that would give them greater independence, there were a series of crucial strikes that happened in 1988 with Saturn in Sagittarius that were essential.  Similarly, our current transit of Sagittarius will bring opportunities for collective movements that could lead to huge structural and systematic changes in four or five years.

Saturn in Sagittarius and Capricorn

Zodiac frieze from Venice, Italy (1530-40) courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art

Saturn in Sagittarius is currently in a balsamic phase with Pluto in Capricorn, and so we are in a time of clearing, re-seeding, and re-visioning in their cycle until the beginning of 2020 when Saturn becomes conjunct Pluto at 23 degrees of Capricorn.  Jupiter will also be in Capricorn in 2020, and around the Capricorn Solstice on December 21, 2020, the next conjunction in the Saturn and Jupiter cycle will occur at 00º29′ Aquarius.  As a result Saturn’s transit through Sagittarius is a key transition to this incredibly important 2020 time period.

However, let’s not forget Uranus, the next planet beyond Saturn and important player in Saturn’s transit through Sagittarius.  Saturn in Sagittarius will form a trine with Uranus in Aries in 2016, and in 2015 Jupiter in Leo will be trine to Uranus in Aries on March 3 and on June 22.  As a result in the next six months the Jupiter and Uranus cycle can help us unlock the Saturn gates of our consciousness to more expansive perspectives, and then later in August 2015 when we hit the last quarter square between Jupiter in Leo and a stationing direct Saturn in Scorpio, we will face challenges and even crises forcing us to critically examine what in our life needs to be discarded and let go and what is essential to keep as we begin to focus on what we will utilize in seeding our future.

We end with a few quotes from Anne Frank, who was born with Saturn in Sagittarius:

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”

“There is an urge and rage in people to destroy, to kill, to murder, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated and grown, will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.”

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world.”

©2015 Gray Crawford Astrology, All Rights Reserved

Neptune stations in Pisces

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

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

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

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

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

Ewa reading poem in Ashes and Diamonds

Ewa Krzyżewska reading Norwid’s poem in Ashes and Diamonds

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beatrice_Addressing_Dante_(by_William_Blake)

Beatrice Addressing Dante by William Blake

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

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

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

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

Mystery of Stillness

Chrysopoea_of_Cleopatra_1

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

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the m

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— e.e. cummings

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

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

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

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

MercuryDirectWRIGC1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chrysopoea_of_Cleopatra_4

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.

Stars_and_dec

“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.

bookred.54

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.