Scorpio New Moon: Mars & Pluto

andrew wyeth dryad

Dryad by Andrew Wyeth

New Moon in Scorpio

New Moons are a time of darkness.  In alignment, we go within our own darkness and set intentions for the forthcoming lunar cycle as our Moon regenerates in the heart of our Sun.  Scorpio is a zodiac sign also associated with the dark and the hidden, as well as transformation.  We have been experiencing an intense period of Scorpio amplification and a collective catharsis in correlation that has brought attention to stories of misuse of power too often denied, including revelations around sexual abuse that further link to Scorpio significations of sex, power and control dynamics.  Scorpio brings to the surface what needs to be revealed for regeneration, and so we have been experiencing a collective purging necessary to bring more widespread awareness to the suffering caused by sexual predation.  Our entrance into the year long transit of Jupiter in Scorpio has quickly been bringing awareness to what’s been lurking in the shadows, and with Venus as well as the Sun and Moon now in Scorpio we are invited to dig even deeper.  The darkness of Scorpio is ultimately the nurturing kind, the rich soil lying fecund underneath us that awaits fertilization and the metamorphic reemergence of colorful growth.  It is vital to carefully cultivate the seeds you are germinating when the Scorpio New Moon arrives on November 18.

The influx of Scorpio energy has been magnified further by the sign of Scorpio forming a square aspect with the signs of Leo and Aquarius that the lunar nodes have been transiting through.  The Sun and the Moon both faced off with the lunar nodes in the week leading up to the Scorpio New Moon, while Venus and Jupiter are heading toward a square with the lunar nodes.   The Scorpio New Moon also forms a square with the degrees of both the recent Leo eclipses (Leo Lunar Eclipse on February 10;  Leo Solar Eclipse on August 21) as well as the Aquarius Solar Eclipse coming later in February 2018, further signifying a time of collective crossroads.  Planets squaring the nodes force their associated issues to be dealt with, and so the Scorpio activation has been exposing the misuse of power by those desiring Leo ambitions of fame and status.  The lunar nodes in Aquarius and Leo bring the opportunity to discover ways of being more empowered and passionately living life more fully while also respecting the boundaries of others.  The influence of Scorpio further points to the necessity of living from one’s inner authority of ethics, purifying and shedding the toxic conditioning elements of culture such as misogyny.

The Scorpio New Moon is particularly intense due to the closely applying square between Mars in Libra with Pluto in Capricorn.  Any exact square between Mars and Pluto at a lunation is extremely catalytic, but in this case it is even more powerful due to Mars ruling the New Moon and Pluto also having modern associations with rulership over Scorpio.  Mars in Libra is in the home of Venus and a sign that is in polarity to its own home of Aries.  Mars in Libra is the warrior and protector of social justice, but to achieve this Mars must find a balanced expression that requires restraint at times, more so than direct and impulsive action.  With Mars transiting Libra while forming a square with Pluto, anger and tempers will be quick to flare over issues of oppression.  In their dynamic Mars is in the superior position of being in the tenth place from Pluto and so in position to overcome Pluto.  However, there is an old Hellenistic astrology concept of “striking with a ray” which leads to the interpretation that the dominant power structure (Pluto in Capricorn) will strike back hard to impede social activists (Mars in Libra) from gaining ground.

Andrew Wyeth carry

Carry by Andrew Wyeth

One of the keys of the Scorpio New Moon is to discern how to flow with the currents of power for the greater good.  It is an opportune New Moon for making intentions with regard to long term goals and where you want to place your daily focus in expending energy and initiative.  In natal charts, the aspect of Mars square Pluto can be challenging in terms of having grandiose vision and ambition and then being faced with all of the barriers to overcome in the process of manifestation.  These barriers involve both external and internal issues, and similarly the collective experience of this transit brings to the surface whatever has been in the way of achieving goals and developing plans.  Realizations can emerge more easily than normal regarding what we need to separate from and sever with regards to our desires.

Notably Mars is exchanging signs with Venus in Scorpio, as Mars is in the home of Venus and Venus is in the home of Mars.  This further means that both Venus and Mars are in signs that are opposite their domicile placements of Taurus (Venus) and Aries (Mars).  The influence of Venus in Scorpio makes the drive for justice with Mars in Libra more obsessive and more willing to penetrate to the depths of current circumstances.  Venus in Scorpio is forming an integrative sextile with Pluto in Capricorn, and so there is a higher lesson available in terms of how to change our own attitudes and behavior to have greater integrity as well as how to engage and listen to others coming from different perspectives and backgrounds more effectively.  However, in reality this combination will more readily lead people into heated conflict and so keep this in mind when navigating difficult situations.  When Mars and Pluto collide like this at a Scorpio lunation, there are explosive undercurrents to deal with.

Andrew Wyeth Wind from the Sea

Wind from the Sea by Andrew Wyeth

We make our way through Everything like thread passing through fabric: giving shape to images that we ourselves do not know.

–Rainer Maria Rilke, born with Jupiter in Scorpio

Another massive influence over the Scorpio New Moon comes from dreamy Neptune, as it will station direct as the Moon begins to wax in light on November 22.  Planets stationing saturate the astrological atmosphere with their influence, particularly in the case of Neptune as it will open awareness to aspects of reality normally invisible or veiled to “normal” modes of mundane perception.  Neptune has been moving retrograde since June 16, and so it is worthwhile to reflect back upon the past five months of Neptune’s backward movement.

As Neptune stations we can feel a dissolution of interior complexes and exterior structures, and an opening of awareness to a sense that we can be perceiving through a focus of consciousness that is different from our past. 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.

Making all of Neptunes significations even more impactful is the additional transit of Jupiter in Scorpio applying to a trine with Neptune in Pisces as it stations.  Since Jupiter’s rulership connects it directly into the Mars and Pluto square, we will be more likely to feel enough passion and motivation to set sails in the direction the Neptunian wind and current is leading us.  Jupiter will form its first exact trine with Neptune on December 2 as the Moon waxes toward the upcoming Gemini Full Moon.  As I wrote recently on the trine between Jupiter in Scorpio and Neptune in Pisces that will be a dominant influence in the year ahead:

“Like a Bodhisattva willing to return and return again in order to help enlighten and liberate others, Jupiter in Scorpio will support persevering through uncomfortable truths in order to engage the world wholeheartedly and to compassionately serve the greater good.  Jupiter in Scorpio will support testing and probing our beliefs, discovering where we are truly being mindful in the moment and where we have been led into deception.”

Andrew Wyeth trodden weed

Trodden Weed by Andrew Wyeth

Venus is important to reflect upon at the New Moon not only because it is co-present with the lunation in Scorpio and applying to a square with the lunar nodes, but also because it has entered it’s liminal phase of invisibility, disappearing from morning skies under the beams of the Sun.  At this point in her cycle, Venus is on the far side of the Sun from us slowly approaching her Superior Conjunction with the Sun that will eventually occur at nineteen degrees of Capricorn on January 8, 2018.  Since Venus is heading toward a union with our Sun that will occur in close proximity to Pluto in Capricorn, there is a degree of foreshadowing happening in terms of Pluto being tightly bound to the meaning of the Scorpio New Moon.  As Venus descends into the underworld of her invisible phase, we may notice elements of past Venusian attachments stripping away while other elements of Venusian desire begin to take on greater prominence.

Finally, it is important to realize that we have the waxing half of the forthcoming lunar cycle to bask in the glory of Mercury shining bright as an Evening Star on its way toward a union with Saturn near the degrees of our Galactic Center.  Mercury will ultimately station retrograde close in timing with the upcoming Full Moon in Gemini, but within the darkening twilight of the Scorpio New Moon the Star of Hermes continues to bring illumination.  While this is a strong phase of Mercury for reflection and integration of recent experiences, we have also already entered the “Mercury retrograde shadow zone” of the zodiacal terrain that Mercury will later return to retrograde a second time, ultimately moving back through again a third time.  Therefore, its a good idea to check out the range of the upcoming Mercury retrograde from thirteen to twenty-nine degrees of Sagittarius and how it impacts your natal chart, and beginning to sense if you can feel what changes are coming with the upcoming retrograde movement and what elements of your life with become an important focus of attention as we head into 2018.

7_cups_RWS_lg

7 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Scorpio 3 Decan

The New Moon falls in the third face of Scorpio associated with the Seven of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  In the image each of the seven chalices holds an embodiment of a desire, such as fame, fortune, lust and other earthly powers.  The veiled figure in the center brings to mind the burning desire of Sophia in gnostic texts to gain ultimate understanding, a desire it is said that cast a veil whose shadow became the material world we traverse often overwhelmed by desire like the shadowy figure in the image.  Some interpret the image as signifying that through discernment we may choose to follow the one desire that will bring clarity needed to make choices aligned with our inner values and desires.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces linked the Seven of Cups to the third face of Scorpio through their shared meaning of becoming dominated by obsessive desires.   Coppock ascribed the image of “A Crow” to the third decan of Scorpio, noting that the essence of this face involves the putrefaction of desire that leads to direct contact with the nature of desire.  Coppock posited that through the loss of unfulfilled desire, the process of separating our desire from the external objects of desires brings the ability to reseed and regenerate core desires.  Coppock wrote that the third face of Scorpio contains a “formula of liberation, for if we were not capable of laying our desires to rest, returning them to pure energy, we would be enchained forever, prisoners of what we once held dear.”

While Coppock pointed out that many older images associated with the decan hold the symbolism of drunken, uncontrolled desires of a ferocious and violent quality, I am most intrigued by an image in the Liber Hermetis that contains “a human body and the form of a he-goat, holding eggs hanging from a thread in both hands.”  The eggs strung by thread suggests to me a meaning we can find in the final face of Scorpio that involves the fertility of destiny and the ripening of the moment.  Along these lines, it is further fascinating to consider that the ancient Hellenistic fragmentary text 36 Airs ascribed Kairos to the third face of Scorpio.  You are likely familiar with the term kairos referring to the opportune moment for something to occur that is not confined to the demands of chronological time.  Yet Kairos in Greek myth was the youngest son of Zeus as well as the lover of Fortuna, an embodiment of luck and favorable opportunities.  Kairos was seen as always moving with winged feet, carrying a razor or scales that represent the fleeting moment in which opportunity comes and goes, the moment we need to seize and not neglect.

The Moon rules the third face of Scorpio in the triplicity rulership scheme, lending added potency to the New Moon and unlocking the gates of this decan’s meaning.  The square from Mars to Pluto brings the fires of urgency to the moment so that we will be ready to take action when the opportune moment arises.  The time has come to let go of what has come to pass, opening fully to the soulful desires felt within the presence of our quiet contemplation.

Joy is inexpressibly more than happiness. Happiness befalls people, happiness is fate, while people cause joy to bloom inside themselves.  Joy is plainly a good season for the heart; joy is the ultimate achievement of which humans are capable.

— Rainer Maria Rilke

References

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

Rilke, Rainer Maria (2006). Letters on Life. Edited and translated by Ulrich Baer. The Modern Library Classics.

Scorpio Full Moon

Ernst the Sea

The Sea (1928) by Max Ernst

Full Moon in Scorpio

As the Moon in full light illuminates the darkness of the surrounding landscape, you pause on your journey to draw water from a well.  The well is ancient and contains within its well worn stones the stories of generations and generations who have passed this way before you.  Feeling the nourishment of water quenching your depths, the primal vitality of your flowing blood circulates through your senses.  Your mind drifts into reflection upon the trials you have been undergoing and your efforts given, the obstacles you have been facing.  While there may be a trophy you long to capture, a treasure you wish to unearth, or a beloved you hunger to kiss, you realize the power you seek is truly found within the rhythmic beat of your own heart.

The Full Moon in Scorpio on May 10 has an intensity rooted in our relationship with power.  As the Moon waxes toward its apex of full light, the Moon will form an exact sextile with Pluto while the Sun will form a trine with Pluto.  Mars, the ruler of the lunation, is exceptionally active in Gemini and in strong aspect to both Neptune and Jupiter.   The Full Moon will be ideal for feeling into the subconscious depths that source our power and for simultaneously shedding dead skin while stepping into a more fully embodied authority and authorship in life.   A Full Moon in Scorpio beckons us to feel all of our emotions and the aching yearning for what we desire most to hold or possess.  Yet the crucial lesson we find in the polarity between Taurus and Scorpio is the necessity of embracing the transitory flux of our lives in which forms are constantly coming into manifestation and then passing away.

The Scorpio Full Moon is not applying to aspects with other planets, but does arrive at the crossroads moment of the lunar nodes shifting from Pisces and Virgo into Aquarius and Leo.  This shift results in the Full Moon applying to a square with the North Node of the Moon in Leo and the South Node of the Moon in Aquarius.  The lunar nodes have been in Virgo and Pisces since November of 2015, and so the Full Moon shines a spotlight on the creative empowerment that will come with the North Node of the Moon entering Leo.  The North Node in Leo is especially amplified as it forms a fiery triangle with Mercury conjoining Uranus in Aries and with Saturn in Sagittarius.  The conjunction with Mercury and Uranus is exact as the ascending node of the Moon enters Leo, bringing a Promethean message of emancipation and the challenge to claim full responsibility and authority in co-creating the life you most deeply desire to live.

The power available in the aspects surrounding the Scorpio Full Moon will bring genuine strength when sourced from an open heart in touch with both inner desires as well as the external emotions of others.  While the North Node shift into Leo sounds exciting in terms of increased creativity and a noble embrace of living life more fully, there are myriad levels of its shadow we will see playing out on personal and collective levels.  For one, the shadow of the North Node in Leo combined with the other astrological transits this year can lead those in power or benefitting from established power structures to cling even more tightly to their grip on what has been bringing them a sense of prosperity and security, at the detriment to others if necessary.  Likewise, the combination of the North Node in Leo with the South Node in Aquarius can lead many to act solely out of self interest without regard for the consequences of their actions.  The shadow of the South Node in Aquarius in this way is a disassociated, detached perspective that either rationalizes or ignores how one’s actions are impacting others.

However, the South Node moving through Aquarius also brings the capacity to harness awareness of collective concerns, dynamics, and needs to fuel strong and dynamic leadership that initiates direct action to heal and harmonize the divisive fragmentation currently overwhelming our global populace.  Aquarius is a sign of the humanitarian as well as the societal rebel, outcast, hermit, heretic, or outsider, and so the South Node in the sign of the Water Bearer also brings the opportunity to source our hearts with the feelings we have experienced when feeling on the outside, marginalized, exiled, or not fitting in with consensus views.  Instead of going into further isolation with feelings of being different, the North Node in Leo calls us to fully embody our radical nature and radiate our full capacities no matter how far from the norm they appear to others.  It is also a time to have greater compassion for those placed into exile and on the outside of the current dominant culture and power paradigm, and to take individual initiative to mediate the many collective crises erupting.

white-fire-med

White Fire (1949) by Enrico Donati

Mars in Gemini

Mars in Gemini rules the Full Moon in Scorpio and is applying closely to a challenging square with Neptune and a stabilizing trine with Jupiter.   The square between Mars and Neptune is applying tightly as the Full Moon peaks and brings the most dramatic coloring to what will be a very emotional lunation full of big feelings.  Mars in Gemini can be the heroic messenger who doggedly and determinedly finds a way to collect the information needed, retrieve the missing piece that will bring greater wholeness. Yet Mars in Gemini can also be a crusading idealist obsessed with one’s own vision, and the strong aspects between Mars with Neptune and Jupiter means there will be dissonant diatribes and cacophony, as players vying for power from different perspectives clash in clamorous uproar.

On a personal level the square between Mars and Neptune suggests overcoming a challenge or confrontation regarding one’s beliefs, spirituality, or idealistic vision, either realizing the necessity of persisting in the face of external challenges or gaining awareness that aspects of our beliefs have been illusory in one way or another and now need to be re-adjusted to our current experience.  The trine between Mars and Jupiter brings a lot of productive push into the social realm, being both more interactive within our collective networks as well as being able to bring a more lighthearted positivity into current predicaments rather than angry negativity.   Yet the square between Mars and Neptune is so tight at the Full Moon it will be important to feel all of ones emotions, listening and learning from them so as to release them, so that we do not become mired in difficult feelings we are trying to repress or deny.  Altogether the dynamic aspects surrounding Mars support connecting deeply within and using inner desire to fuel active engagement in the world.

During the waning half of the lunar cycle Mars will separate from its harmonious trine with Jupiter and begin applying to an opposition with Saturn in Sagittarius and a sextile with Uranus in Aries.  Mars in Gemini is very active and social with an ability to focus in numerous directions, but its encroaching opposition with Saturn on the horizon is a call to have focused accountability for our most important priorities and the work and visions we are most deeply invested in completing.  Mars will not perfect its opposition with Saturn until the very end of the month following the New Moon in Gemini, however, and so we have a few weeks to work with this building dynamic.  This will be the first opposition to come between Saturn and Mars since their dramatic dance during 2016 when Mars went retrograde as part of its initiatory conjunction with both Saturn and Antares at the end of August 2016.  Whatever we began to set into motion in our life in August and September of 2016 we can now reflect upon with regards to what has been working optimally and what needs greater adjustment or changed completely.

rivieres-crepuscule-med

Rivieres, Crepuscule (1943) by Enrico Donati

Venus in Aries & Jupiter in Libra

Venus is shining brightly as a Morning Star in the moist darkness before sunrise, retracing her steps in Aries that she has previously moved both direct and backwards across since February.  This is the third time that Venus has moved across the first decan of Aries, and she has now completely emerged from her meeting with Chiron and Saturn with the capacity to awaken newfound strength on the playing field of life.   Venus has a more competitive edge now and corresponds with feeling emboldened to go after what we want to create.  Saturn and Chiron have also now perfected their most recent challenging square aspect, which most likely brought up old wounds in need of tending regarding our identity and the old stories we identify with.  Saturn and Chiron have pointed Venus toward building life plans and goals in total integrity with true inner values, and Venus now calls us to boldly initiate accordingly.

During the waning half of the current lunar cycle, Venus will form an opposition with Jupiter at about the same time she finally leaves her retrograde shadow zone on May 19. The recent Venus retrograde in Aries and Pisces has been the pivotal phase of Jupiter’s time in Libra in which we have gained the opportunity to not only reevaluate our relationships but most importantly the way in which we have been engaging within them.  Since Jupiter is in the home of Venus it means that Venus will be receiving Jupiter as they form their opposition, a pleasing gift for Venus considering her harsh square with an unreceptive Saturn last month.  Oppositions always require effort to bring about optimal outcomes, however, and one prime area to focus on with this aspect will be in listening.  Listening to the needs of others, both spoken and unspoken, as well as listening to our own feelings and inner guidance, we will gain the capacity to make invaluable course corrections and deeper investments.

Adding an extra layer to the relational opposition between Venus and Jupiter is the asteroid Juno.  Juno is within one degree of a conjunction with Pluto at the time of the Full Moon, while also stationing retrograde. While the stationing of asteroids normally do not draw much astrological attention it highlights the fact that Juno has been in range of a conjunction with Pluto for the past month during a Venus retrograde time period.  Juno began getting close to Pluto back in early April when Venus moved retrograde back into the sign of Pisces, and since that time has remained within close proximity with Pluto, getting especially close once Venus stationed direct.  The focus for many is on finding their ideal partner, yet the proximity of Juno and Pluto begs us to open awareness to how we ourselves can become the ideal partner for others.  The Full Moon lights up the old relationship issues that could get in the way of creating our ideal relationship in this very moment.  Releasing resistance to what we need to own about ourselves, we gain the capacity to make true lasting change in the way we relate, fertilizing the fruitful potential of our relationships in coming months and years.

Seraphin screeen

Fortissimo screen (1925-6) designed by Seraphin Soudbinine

Mercury & Uranus in Aries

Mercury is finally beginning to separate from its conjunction with Uranus at the Full Moon, while applying closely to a trine with Saturn in Sagittarius.  As a result of its recent Mercury retrograde phase, the Star of Hermes has spent the past three weeks in range of a conjunction with Uranus.  The Full Moon will fully unleash the meaning we have been gestating and generating during this prolonged union between the messenger and the liberator.  Mercury is now fully visible as a Morning Star, joining Venus as a herald to the rising of our Sun each morning.  This means Mercury can eloquently and clearly transmit the Uranian message we need to receive in case we have been missing the signs in the past weeks.  Mercury and Uranus have been bringing opportunities to break out of old patterns that became too constrictive and to embrace new ways of perceiving that facilitate freely drifting into the currents aligned with our essentiality.

With Mercury in Aries now applying closely to a trine with Saturn slowly moving retrograde in Sagittarius, the Full Moon ushers us into a week in which to take direct action in restructuring the elements of our life needed to fully step into the liberation burst open by Mercury and Uranus.  With persistent effort drawing upon the disciplined focus of Saturn, this is an ideal time to clear out whatever has been holding you back from taking full authority in your life and simply go for it.  As the Moon begins to wane through Sagittarius in the days after the Full Moon, it will form a continuous stream of aspects with Venus, Mars, Neptune, Jupiter, Uranus, Mercury, Saturn, and the lunar nodes.  The waning lunar cycle following the Full Moon is full of fast moving and inspirational transits which will correspond with both heated conflict in the social realm as well as a potent charge that can activate greater self empowerment.

7_cups_RWS_lg

7 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Scorpio 3 Decan

The Full Moon arises in the third decan of Scorpio, associated with the Seven of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  In the image each of the seven chalices holds an embodiment of a desire, such as fame, fortune, lust and other earthly powers.  The veiled figure in the center brings to mind the burning desire of Sophia in gnostic texts to gain ultimate understanding, a desire it is said that cast a veil whose shadow became the material world we traverse often overwhelmed by desire like the shadowy figure in the image.  Some interpret the image as signifying that through discernment we may choose to follow the one desire that will bring clarity and increased opportunities for more choices aligned with our inner values and desires.

Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces linked the Seven of Cups to the third face of Scorpio through their shared meaning of becoming dominated by obsessive desires.   Coppock ascribed the image of “A Crow” to the third decan of Scorpio, noting that its essence involves the putrefaction of desire that leads to direct contact with the nature of desire.  Coppock posited that through the loss of unfulfilled desire, the process of separating our desire from the external objects of desires brings the ability to reseed and regenerate core desires.  Befitting the union of Mercury and Uranus at the Full Moon, Coppock wrote that the third face of Scorpio contains a “formula of liberation, for if we were not capable of laying our desires to rest, returning them to pure energy, we would be enchained forever, prisoners of what we once held dear.”

While Coppock pointed out that many older images associated with the decan hold the symbolism of drunken, uncontrolled desires of a ferocious and violent quality, I am most intrigued by an image in the Liber Hermetis that contains “a human body and the form of a he-goat, holding eggs hanging from a thread in both hands.”  The eggs strung by thread suggests to me a meaning we can find in the final face of Scorpio that involves the fertility of destiny and the ripening of the moment.  Along these lines, it is further fascinating to consider that the ancient Hellenistic fragmentary text 36 Airs ascribed Kairos to the third face of Scorpio.  You are likely familiar with the term kairos referring to the opportune moment for something to occur that is not confined to the demands of chronological time.  Yet Kairos in Greek myth was the youngest son of Zeus as well as the lover of Fortuna, an embodiment of luck and favorable opportunities.  Kairos was seen as always moving with winged feet not unlike Hermes, carrying a razor or scales that represent the fleeting moment in which opportunity comes and goes, the moment we need to seize and not neglect.

Venus rules the third face of Scorpio, and though Venus is instead residing in the first face of Aries at the Full Moon, she is within her own bounds and so has some essential dignity to pursue and possess her desires.  As Venus is finally getting close to leaving her retrograde shadow zone, the Scorpio Full Moon illuminates whatever lessons we have had to learn regarding our desire nature over the course of the past months of Venus moving backwards and forward again.   What has come up for you in terms of worldly ambition, who you want to be, what you want to achieve, or who you want to be bound to in love and intimacy?  When the opportunity arrives in coming weeks to live a life more fully aligned with your true desires, don’t be afraid to take hold of it with aplomb.

References

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

Mars Retrograde 2016

Hilma af Klint

by Hilma af Klint

Mars Retrograde in Sagittarius & Scorpio

The Mars retrograde that begins April 17 at 8°54′ Sagittarius and ends June 29 at 23°4′ Scorpio promises to generate intense, life altering events.  Mars retrograde periods correspond symbolically with extreme inner heat that amplifies the potential for complete transformation of life circumstances, and this particular Mars retrograde coincides with last quarter squares between Jupiter and Saturn as well as Saturn and Neptune, in addition to a Mercury retrograde phase and the superior conjunction of Venus with the Sun.  Mars goes retrograde the least often, only once every 26 months or so, for about a period of three months.  Mars is closest in its orbit to Earth when it is retrograde, signifying an intensification of all things Mars, while its apparent retrograde motion signifies an inward turn to the normally outwardly directed force of Mars.  In collective events, the ramping up of Mars through the constraint of its stationing will correspond with explosions of conflict and martial forces in need of mediating.

Traditionally, Mars has been associated for millennia with separating and dividing, catalyzing movement, conflict, and eruptions of symbolic and literal heat.  Mars also has a tradition of corresponding with courage and those who will protect, guard, defend, and serve others unconditionally, embodying the highest ideals of a warrior protector.  In the alchemical process of separation and union, Mars can be associated with the power and strength of the flame that effects change through separating and purifying component parts in its fiery heat.  During Mars retrograde our inner fire combusts and from a centered place of alchemical fire we melt the chains of our past and regenerate our sense of willful purpose in life. With the Mars retrograde turning the separating and dividing function of Mars inward, a core process ensues of realigning ourselves toward our most deeply felt desire and purpose in the moment. By embracing the corresponding constriction upon external martial flow and the magnification of inner fire, during Mars retrograde we enter a period of dramatic shifts, changes, endings, and beginnings occurring in our myriad relationships with the world around us.

Some people seem to be more profoundly impacted by Mars retrograde periods than others, and some people also seem to be more strongly impacted by Mars retrograde in certain signs than in other signs.  As a general rule, Mars retrograde periods can be one of those magical astrological vortexes in which significant encounters and experiences carry a destined feeling of gravity.  A great way to get a feel for how Mars retrograde periods impact you is to reflect upon your experiences during the past Mars retrograde periods.  Below is a list of the Mars retrogrades periods that have happened since 1999- note that from May through June of 2001 there was a Mars retrograde that also occurred in Sagittarius, though a completely different section of Sagittarius than the current one:

  • March 1 – May 19, 2014: stationed retrograde at 28 Libra, stationed direct at 10 Libra.
  • January 24 – April 14, 2012: stationed retrograde at 24 Virgo, stationed direct at 4 Virgo.
  • December 20, 2009 – March 10, 2010: stationed retrograde at 20 Leo, stationed direct at 1 Leo.
  • November 15, 2007 – January 30, 2008: stationed retrograde at 13 Cancer, stationed direct at 25 Gemini.
  • October 1 – December 10, 2005: stationed retrograde at 24 Taurus, stationed direct at 9 Taurus.
  • July 29 – September 27, 2003: stationed retrograde at 11 Pisces, stationed direct at 1 Pisces.
  • May 11 – July 19, 2001: stationed retrograde at 30 Sagittarius, stationed direct at 16 Sagittarius.
  • March 18 – June 4, 1999: stationed retrograde at 13 Scorpio, stationed direct at 25 Libra.
Ernst mundus est fabula

Mundus est Fabula (1959) by Max Ernst

Astrology like other meaning we discover in life is rooted in the personal story of our experiences.  In the interface between one’s personal narrative and the collective narrative, the complex web of interrelationships shifts and mutates across time.  The meaning of our past experiences and how it impacts our choices in the moment can change radically in the split second of an epiphany.  We tell our life story to others, and the narrative telling of our life changes:  how we describe our life story today is vastly different from how we would have told it in the past, or how we will tell it in the future.  Sagittarius where Mars is stationing is the home of outwardly directed Jupiter and an archetypal place of discovering personal truth in life experiences, a knowledge that goes beyond belief.  With Mars stationing in range of a square to Neptune in Pisces, as Pluto stations retrograde the following day, and Saturn is co-present with Mars in Sagittarius, a restructuring and regeneration of our meaning and purpose in life is underway.

In times of strife, demanding tasks and difficulties, we come to a deeper understanding of our personal truth as well as discover new sources of strength inside.  Since Pluto stations retrograde in Capricorn, the home of Saturn, a day after Mars stations retrograde, and since Mars is stationing for the entirety of April while being co-present with Saturn in Sagittarius, there is a strong element of Saturn bringing karmic tests or challenges requiring disciplined perseverance during this Mars retrograde.  In experiences of melancholy corresponding with Saturn, we can also tap into the vast suffering of the collective.  Most vitally, the binding of Saturn combined with the catalyzing of Mars can be put to the creation of great works if the necessary focused effort and determination is applied. While contemplating Mars retrograde recently, the theme of “the wand chooses the wizard” from the Harry Potter stories came to me.  By this I mean that a destined calling could arise in this period deeply bound to the fabric of one’s nature.  It will work best not to willfully demand certain choices but rather to accept and align with the mission, project, relationships, or journey that has chosen us to be a vital player in.

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Bird with Void by Morris Graves

Mars and Pluto

The simultaneous stationing retrograde of both Mars and Pluto is fascinating from the perspective of the Evolutionary Astrology system developed by Jeff Green, as here the relationship between Mars and Pluto reveals the leading edge of desires emanating from the Soul.  In Evolutionary Astrology, Mars moving direct corresponds with desire for unrestricted freedom that can be both impulsive and instinctual.  When Mars moves retrograde, however, the inward direction of Mars ignites our inner energy field and we become drawn into taking greater consideration of our Soul.  Astrologers view Mars retrograde periods as times in which Mars is untethered from conditioned constraints and more of a maverick force, yet Evolutionary Astrology points to the possibility of using Mars retrograde to access greater consideration in action and less impulsiveness.

There is an interesting connection between the meaning of Mars retrograde in Evolutionary Astrology and the heliocentric nodes of Mars, with the South Node of Mars being Scorpio and the North Node  of Mars being Taurus.  The South Node of Mars being Scorpio connects perfectly with Scorpio being the home of Mars, a sign where Mars is most comfortable and natural.  In Evolutionary Astrology, the South Node of Mars being Scorpio also connects with Pluto sourcing the desires set in motion through Mars.  The Scorpio South Node reveals the evolutionary arc of Mars coming from a desire to merge with external sources, whether that be sexual merging with a lover, spiritual merging with a belief system, or any other act of merging with any external source.  The North Node of Mars being Taurus reveals an evolution of Mars into the inner, self-reliant realm of Taurus that is centered within an inner source that is not dependent upon, or conditioned by external sources.

Though Mars retrograde is a completely different concept than the heliocentric nodes of Mars, the opportunity to utilize the Mars retrograde  for centering does have some resonance with the Taurus North Node meaning.  Since Pluto stations retrograde in Capricorn the day after Mars stations retrograde, in correspondence there is an opportunity to go deep within our inner recesses and explore what from within is informing our external action. As a result, the period of Mars retrograde can help our personality align to a greater extent with our Soul’s intention and purpose. To achieve this requires listening inwardly and reflecting before launching into impulsively egocentric action.

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Chiron from Greek vase

Sagittarius Symbolism

The mutable, yang, and fiery nature of Sagittarius is paramount to take into account regarding this Mars retrograde.  Mars will spend all of April stationing in Sagittarius, and will continue to be retrograde in Sagittarius for all of May save about four days.  Sagittarius is a double-bodied sign symbolized in the image of the centaur, half human and half horse.  The half horse aspect of the centaur is connected to the instinctual, survival based realm of the lower torso, while the half human part contains the chest, heart, throat, mind, dexterous hands, and other instruments of human consciousness.  Sagittarius is a sign of creative manifestation, of mediating spiritual forces in the body through the mindful focus of an archer locked on a target.  Sagittarius feels the inexorable magnetism of the eternal horizon and the undiscovered, full of desire to experience adventure and the fullness of life.

With Mars stationing at a standstill in Sagittarius for so long, while we will no doubt feel a call to adventure of one sort or another, the astrological fact Mars is basically not moving for over a month creates great astrological constriction.  While we can experience expansion within this containment and associated experiences, the expansion is likely to come from inner pressure creating bursts of expression or release.   For example, I recently participated in a stimulating webinar entitled The Alchemy of Colour by Dr. Aaron Cheak, in which Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s color theory that a boundary is necessary to produce colors was explored.  Though creation does come from chaos, the co-presence of Saturn with Mars retrograde in Sagittarius will reveal how structure and containment leads to expansion of wisdom and creativity.  As Sagittarius is the home of Jupiter, this Mars retrograde will bring opportunities to discover a deepening of philosophical awareness and associated ethics to live from, rooted in visceral understanding through experience.

The intuitive knowing and self confidence of Sagittarius can also lead to dogmatism and a crusading mentality that creates violence and terrorism based around belief systems such as religion, politics, and philosophy.  Unfortunately in world events, as there are already innumerable conflicts rooted in these Sagittarius themes, greater violence, warfare, and human suffering is likely to occur during this Mars retrograde.  Activists also become crusaders around desire to end oppression and uphold principles of social justice, and so the timeless debate of how direct and violent this sort of actions needs to be to effect change will once again dominate.  There can also be a crusading mentality rooted in peace and nonviolence, that utilizes the creative visioning of Sagittarius to manifest complex acts of direct action and protest aimed at shutting down oppressive power structures without creating collateral casualties in the process.  With Uranus in Aries, the home of Mars, there is likely to be a great resurgence of protest movements arising with reinvigorated force.

Scorpio by Bayer

Antares in the heart of the Scorpion from Uranometria by Johannes Bayer

Antares

A crucial, unique aspect of this Mars retrograde is that Mars stations while conjoining 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.  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 in the heart of the Scorpion constellation.  Though the four royal stars no longer line up with the seasons in the tropical zodiac utilized in western astrology, they still carry ancient symbolic significance: Aldebaran (opposite to Antares in Gemini now, and connected with Spring Equinox), Fomalhaut (located at about four degrees Pisces now and connected with Winter Solstice), and Regulus (located at the beginning of Virgo now and connected with Summer Solstice). If you remember, the Venus retrograde that occurred last July and August 2015 began with Venus stationing retrograde while conjoining Regulus, and so this further deepens the meaning of us now experiencing Mars stationing retrograde while conjoining Antares.

Ptolemy famously linked Antares with Mars and Jupiter, and Vivian Robson portrayed Antares as causing “malevolence, destructiveness, liberality” and making “natives rash, ravenous, headstrong, and destructive to themselves by their own obstinacy” (p. 137).  Reinhold Ebertin deduced “Antares makes people tough, belligerent and pugnacious” and though could be connected with “mental alertness, strategic ability, and courage . . . If associated with Mars, courage is said to become foolhardiness, leading to increased dangers” (p. 70-1).  There is a long tradition of warning about the dangers of hubris yoked to headstrong martial force in connection to Antares, yet the clearly forceful and determined correspondences of Antares could also be put to thoughtful use.  It seems the positive interpretation of Antares bound to the beginning of this Mars retrograde is to strengthen the resolve of one’s inner warrior and resiliency, as long as consideration is taken to not be overly self righteous, stubborn, and egotistical. An aspect of Sagittarius that leads to difficulties comes from impulsive action lacking foresight, and so finding disciplined practices to utilize for centering and mindfulness will be especially helpful.

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8 of Wands by Pamela Colman Smith

Sagittarius 1 Decan

The first face of Sagittarius where Mars stations retrograde is ruled by Mercury and associated with speed of movement, as the image of the corresponding Eight of Wands card in tarot displays.  Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces wrote this face “entails the swift emergence of a motivating vision and the attainment of a vehicle to move one toward the pictured goal” (p. 194).  Mercury connecting to this Mars retrograde bridges the swiftness of our mind and imagination to the martial transformation at hand. At the time Mars stations retrograde, Mercury will be in the middle of Taurus in its Evening Star phase.  Mars stationing in a face ruled by Mercury brings up interesting connections, as similar to Sagittarius, Mercury also is a lover of the road, finding its home in the “in between place” between the beginning of the journey and the destination.  As Mars is known for conflict, so is Mercury known for contrariness, and so this resonance further amplifies the level of heated exchanges that will commence.   From the flames of conflict the inessential will be burned off to reveal primal, authentic passion and purpose.

Mars entered Sagittarius on March 5, and will be retrograde in the first face of Sagittarius from April 17 – May 27, 2016.  After stationing direct in Scorpio at the end of June, Mars will return to the first decan of Sagittarius at the time of a New Moon in Leo on 2 August 2016, eventually entering the second decan of Sagittarius around August 22 when the Sun enters Virgo.  Mars will not leave Sagittarius and enter Capricorn until 27 September 2016, a day after Pluto stations direct in Capricorn.

As a result, from April through May we are introduced to the vision and goals that will be signified by Mars retrograde, yet associated challenges will limit the ability to fully accelerate to the finish line.  Vitally, the heart of the Mars retrograde phase when Mars becomes exactly opposite the Sun will occur on May 22 with Mars at two degrees of Sagittarius and the Sun at two degrees of Gemini- this binds the visionary meaning of the first face of Sagittarius even more strongly to this Mars retrograde phase.  Then later in August, during a crucial period in which Mars will be conjoining Saturn in Sagittarius, Mars will return to the first face of Sagittarius and we will have uncovered a deeper sense of purpose and emboldened will-force with which to act from and respond.  In between, Mars will retrograde and then station direct in its home of Scorpio where we will be dipped into a boiling cauldron of transformation.

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7 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Scorpio 3 Decan

Mars will retrograde back into the third face of Scorpio on May 27, station direct on June 29, and eventually leave Scorpio to return to Sagittarius on August 2 during the darkest of a Dark Moon.  The 7 of Cups illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith is associated with the third decan of Scorpio, and inside the image are seven chalices holding visions of human desires such as fame, wealth, and power. Yet the cynosure of this assembly is a veiled figure with open arms emerging from the center cup. The meaning includes being overcome by the illusions of our desires, with the possibility of discerning the one choice that will bring clarity and increased opportunities for true desires.  Austin Coppock in 36 Faces analyzed this decan as being “ultimately a face of wrestling with one’s own desire nature, for it leads one inevitably back to confrontation with the nature of desire itself” (p. 187).  Coppock suggested that the illusions surrounding our desires and the loss of being separated from the object of our desire takes us into a destruction and regeneration process that liberates us through “laying our desires to rest, returning them to pure energy” so that new desires can grow from their putrefaction (p. 188).

Venus is a fitting ruler of this decan as she could be interpreted as our inner source of desired visions emanating above our horizon.  Potently, Venus will be purified within the rays of the Sun at her superior conjunction while Mars is retrograde in Scorpio, creating a direct confrontation with one’s desire nature.  Mars is at home in Scorpio, and so this period of the retrograde from the end of May through the end of June will be full-on Mars, with the flames of surrounding conflicts and drama rising.  On personal levels, there is potential for some to lose control in a frenzy of fixation on desires on the one hand, while on the other hand there is also potential to purify and regenerate one’s  desire nature, shedding and then intensifying purposeful will-force.

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Emblem 33 of Atalanta Fugiens by Michael Maier

Mercury Retrograde in Taurus

There is incredible synchronicity in the timing of this Mars retrograde and the Mercury retrograde in Taurus in April and May.  To begin with, on 28 April 2016 Mercury will station retrograde at 24 degrees of Taurus, which is exactly opposite the degree of Scorpio where Mars will eventually station direct on June 29, 2016.  Additionally, on 22 May 2016 when Mercury stations direct, Mars will be exactly opposite the Sun at the heart of its retrograde phase on the same day.  Mercury when retrograde corresponds with the Hermes Psychopomp of myth who guided Souls and had the ability to descend into the underworld and reascend into the upper world.  This means that our Mercurial functions and perceptions will be regenerated and reborn in the buildup to Mars reaching full opposition with our Solar Light.  While Mercury will be in between Earth and the Sun in orbit, Mars will be as close to Earth as it gets on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun and Mercury.  Fascinatingly, the degree at which Mercury stations direct is fairly close to the degree in Taurus of the heliocentric North Node of Mars.  There is a clear omen here of our Mercurial perception, discernment, and expression being recalibrated in synchronous timing with our Mars will-force and desire nature.

With Mercury still and stationing as Mars reaches the heart of its retrograde cycle, there is a clear message from the universe to create space and structure in life to quiet and center the mind during this Mars retrograde period.  Mercury stationing direct midway through Taurus also points toward cultivating patient and grounded processes as well as being self-reliant in terms of sourcing our motivation and action, instead of losing our sense of self in external relationship or trying to force issues that simply are not happening.  If you have significant astrological placements in the third decan of Fixed, Earth, or Water signs, it will be worth the time to contemplate the fact that Mercury will station retrograde at the end of April at 24 degrees of Taurus, and Mars will station direct at the end of June at 24 degrees of Scorpio.

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Emblem 34 of Atalanta Fugiens by Michael Maier

Mars and Venus

Mars retrograde periods often coincide with ruptures and new beginnings in relationship, and this particular Mars retrograde promises to be especially potent in the realm of relationship as Venus and Mars have compelling aspects in their cycle to consider.  As astrological tradition ascribes separation to Mars and union to Venus, the changing state of becoming that will coincide with this Mars retrograde will bring realization of the ancient idea of Heraclitus that separation is union, and that union is separation.  Venus will be under the beams of the Sun (using the orb of 15°) for the entirety of the time Mars is  retrograde, meaning that as we experience the inner heat of Mars retrograde we will also experience Venus in a process of being purified in the regenerative rays of the Sun.  As arguments and strife in relationship are likely to occur repeatedly during this Mars retrograde, patience will be required as well as focus on mediating and resolving conflict.

On June 6 Venus will merge into the heart of the Sun as enflamed passions seek effusion and emanation.  Leading up to this pivotal moment in the synodic cycle of Venus, Mars retrograde will form an exact opposition with Venus at the first degree of Sagittarius and Gemini on May 24, 2016.  Oppositions in astrology are known to create conflict and difficulties, but in the polarization of energies can also spark expansive growth.  In the case of Venus and Mars being opposite, there will be a fiery force within their polarity that can be expressed through artistic creation, sexuality, determined work, and innumerable other outlets that allow for an outpouring of passionate desire.  After Venus separates from her face-off with Mars, she will turn to chase after and unite with the Sun.  Mars retrograde will stoke the flames burning off Venusian dross, and as the old patterns of Venus combust we will simultaneously experience a rebirth of Venus on inner as well as outer levels.  While some relationships will end at this time, the relationships created or deepened will catalyze and nurture the essential elements of our nature being revealed.

The following quotes are all from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters on Life translated by Ulrich Baer and touch on some of the pertinent themes of this Mars retrograde:

Freedom should be recommended only to someone who knows what boundless responsibility is.

It is possible in art to stay always with “what one already knows,” and by staying within that sphere of knowledge and experience, it expands and always again leads beyond the self. The “ultimate premonitions and insights” become reachable only for the individual who resides in and remains at work, and whoever contemplates from a distance will not gain control over them.

To be close to another person who holds opposing views while being a deep, committed friend can be a wonderful, shaping influence. For as long as one remains forced to consider (as one is primarily in one’s relation to one’s parents and other older people) anything other as something false, bad, hostile instead of plainly other, one will not enter into an unforced and just relation with the world where all things are meant to have a place: part and counterpart; I and the one who is most different from me. And only when such a complete world is admitted to and considered possible will one succeed in arranging one’s own interiority with its internal contrasts and contradictions generously, spaciously, and with sufficient air to breathe.

For love is the actual climate of fate: no matter how far it stretches its path through the heavens along its milky way composed of millions of stars of blood, the land beneath those heavens lies pregnant with disaster. Not even the gods in the metamorphoses of their passion were sufficiently powerful to liberate from the entanglements of this fertile soil the startled, fleeing beloved on our earth.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Life translated by Ulrich Baer

References

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

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

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