Mystery of Stillness

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

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— e.e. cummings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chrysopoea of Cleopatra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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page 54 in Carl Jung’s Liber Novus

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

Amen, you are the lord of the beginning.

Amen, you are the star of the East.

Amen, you are the flower that blooms over everything.

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

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

Amen, you are the beginning and the end.

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

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

–Carl Jung

References

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

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

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

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

Motion of Soul

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The following quotes are taken from a lecture by Robert Hand at the 2014 NORWAC Astrology Conference.  On the final night of the conference, 25 May 2014, Robert Hand presented his talk “Toward a Post-Modern Astrology.”  I was particularly struck by the following excerpts as the philosophy he presented deeply resonated with my own feelings toward life and astrology. I was comforted by the fact that he has spent years of deep philosophical research and exploration, and that his summary and synthesis of his findings validated my own feelings that lack the intellectual rigor of research in support.  One of his central ideas was introduced through a description of a dream he had:

In the dream, I was giving an astrological workshop, obviously of a philosophical bent, in a bookstore somewhere here on the West coast, at least thats what it felt like at least . . . and I was talking about the three levels of Soul that are described in Aristotle’s work on the Soul, “De Anima” [“On the Soul”] . . . basically they are the vegetable soul, the animal soul, and the intellectual soul.  The vegetable soul is the level of soul one finds in plants, the animal soul is the level one finds in animals, and the intellectual or intellective soul is what you find in human beings.  This is Aristotle talking, not me, I would make the division a little differently . . . So after talking about the vegetable soul, the animal soul, and the intellective soul, I then said something in the dream, “And of course, you also have to understand there is a mineral soul.”  And, shortly after that I woke up and said, “Wow.”  Because I understood exactly what I was saying in the dream.  And that is, that there is nothing that is not composed of soul. It is simply that the lowest manifestation, appears to be inert. I would not use the term mineral soul anymore, and even at the time I recognized it as a placeholder name.  This is very important as I think I will show you . . .

As you probably know . . . Einstein figured out that matter was a form of highly concentrated energy . . . and thus established that matter and energy were two different forms of basically the same substance.  Now, what do I mean by substance.  Substance does not mean matter. Substance means that which stands under everything else . . . substantia in classical Latin . . . and anything that can become that out of which other things are made is a substantia . . . So matter and energy became in 20th Century physics the substancia of all existence . . .

What is life?  That is to say, what makes things alive?  A very older view is that an immaterial entity known as a spirit comes in and inhabits the body and animates it. In fact, that’s what animate means, it means ensouled.  The word animate, meaning to move, and the word anima, meaning soul, are all one piece. Motion and Soul are universally linked in ancient philosophy.  So, science has a problem determining where living beings come from as living beings  . . .

What my dream told me . . . is that Soul is the third substance, or more accurately, it’s the first substance . . . Ultimately we will find I believe that energy is made up out of soul just as much as matter, as we conceive matter to be, is made up out of energy. Now, obviously this is not soul as we normally conceive of it, “soul stuff” might be a better way of putting it, but the point is, there is no discontinuity because nothing is truly inanimate. And last night, Bernadette [Bernadette Brady on the previous night presented a talk concerning Astrology and Fate] added a really interesting ingredient to this by pointing out that the reason we can’t tell that a rock or a hill or a landscape are alive is because their life encompasses such a long period of time that we can’t see it . . . we can only infer it from geological examination . . . all we know is that their wavelength is very long . . .

So my proposition here is that matter and energy are actually composed of the stuff that is the foundation of soul, so the universe is actually filled with life energy.  Energy is the wrong word, but life stuff . . . I prefer stuff because it doesn’t make any assumptions . . .

The last major movement in ancient philosophy is usually referred to by modern scholars as Neoplatonism . . . In Neoplatonism there are said to be four levels of something or other . . . The most primal level is simply referred to as the One. It basically is everything that is . . . that also pertains to could be, will be, or was. Whatever the totality is, that’s it, and thats about all you can say about it.  In turn, it generates true being. The One in a rigorous philosophical sense cannot be said “to be,” because “to exist” you have to be within something else and there is no something else.  So it in turns generates being.  And one of the forms it takes is the recognition of a Self and an Other.  So this is where the boundary between a Self and Other is born . . .

Soul is the third level, or psyche . . . The level of soul is that in which the entire physical universe exists. In other words, the physical universe does not generate life, life generates the physical universe . . .  Now, what is a peculiar characteristic of soul? Well, of course it involves movement as in anima/animate, but that is not the one I am going to grab on to tonight.  Soul is atemporal and nonlocal . . . time occurs within it, it is not time. It does not experience time, time occurs within it. And it is nonlocal because it is everywhere, at all levels . . .

Soul stuff drives the cosmos toward manifesting entities that clearly do exhibit to our eyes the characteristics of living entities.  This is caused by complexity . . . not any old complexity . . . The substantial soul is soul as a basic substance of all being . . . We are all sitting in an infinite sea of soul, we are the infinite sea of soul.  Hinduism would actually not have much of a problem with this . . . Hinduism at its higher levels regards each individual human as the entire universe experienced from a particular point of view. Which fits beautifully- and by the way, every human being in his or her essence, fills the entire cosmos . . . So all apparently nonliving matter operates within a continuous field of the substantial soul.  This is the master field, if you will.  It is the source of the laws of nature.  So the laws of nature are the laws of soul . . .

The totality of all soul stuff at all levels constitutes the Anima Mundi or World Soul.  So we are all part of it.  We are not just in it, we are part of it.  That indwelling sense of Spirit is the direct action of the Anima Mundi. Known in Christianity as the Holy Ghost, although they are not quite happy with the idea that it might be female, or at least appear female.  In Kabbala, and Judaism in general, it is the Shekhinah, which is the female presence of God in this world. And it’s also Sophia . . .

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Robert Hand

I was deeply engrossed in his talk when something fantastic occurred in my mind.  As Robert Hand began to speak the following quotation from Plotinus, I perceived an emanation of white light coming out from his head, not unlike an aura.  This is not a usual perception that I have, and I am still amazed at it’s occurrence, especially considering the following words that simultaneously came out through his voice that moved me deeply:

They (the inhabitants) see themselves in others.  For all things are transparent, and there is nothing dark or resisting, but every one is manifest to every one internally, and all things are manifest.  For light is manifest to light.  For every one has all things in himself and again sees in another all things.  So that all things are everywhere.  And all is all, and each is all.  And the splendor is infinite.  For each of them is great, since the small is also great.  And the Sun there is all stars.  And again, each and all are the Sun.  In each thing, that one thing is pre-eminent above the rest, but it also shows forth all.

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Plotinus

Mercury Retrograde at the Gate of Neptune

water nymph by John Collier

Mercury stations conjunct Neptune in Pisces

  • Mercury stations retrograde on February 6, 2014 at 3º20′ conjunct Neptune in Pisces (Neptune will be at 4°25′) at 1:43 pm PST.

  • Mercury returns to Aquarius on February 12 having been between zero and four degrees of Pisces from January 31 – February 11 (take note people with planets between 0 – 4 degrees of Mutable signs).

  • Inferior conjunction of Mercury retrograde and the Sun on February 15, 2014 at 27º4′ of Aquarius.  This inferior conjunction will be square Saturn in Scorpio and in trine to Mars in Libra.

    • Full Moon the day before the Inferior Conjunction at 26°13′ of Aquarius and Leo.

  • Mercury stations direct on February 28, 2014 at 18º9′ of Aquarius.

  • Mercury leaves its retrograde shadow zone on the Equinox of March 20, and will be exactly conjunct Neptune at 6°02′ of Pisces on March 22, 2014.

“The Water Nymph” painting above is by an artist, John Collier, with an interesting connection to this astrological moment- he was born in 1850, the last time Neptune was in Pisces at its current area of Pisces, and he also was born with an Aquarius Mercury in the same place as the upcoming inferior conjunction of Mercury retrograde and the Sun.  To me, the “nymph” in the image is completely absorbed into nature, her natural surroundings, the Soul of the world, opening her to a direct connection with Spirit.  While this connects with Mercury conjunct Neptune in Pisces, so does her gazing at her reflection in the water connect with a Mercury retrograde cycle beginning in Pisces.  During Mercury retrograde we have the opportunity to reflect upon our perceptions, imaginings, and just exactly where are thoughts are coming from.  This can be an internal experience, but we will most likely get a sense of how our inner dynamics are operating through our relationship to the outer world and interactions with others, including conflicts.  There are astrological signs we will experience challenges in the external world at this time, as calming as Mercury stationing retrograde conjunct Neptune in Pisces may sound.  This is because Mercury stationing retrograde happens at a first quarter Moon of Taurus at 19 degrees that is especially intense, as the Aquarius Sun and Taurus Moon forms a t-square with Saturn in Scorpio at 23 degrees.  This is happening simultaneous to the other big t-square of Cancer Jupiter opposite Venus and Pluto in Capricorn, all in square to Uranus in Aries.  Beginning on February 6, we will be facing these challenges with Mercury descended to the underworld, acting as the Psychopomp guide of our souls.

The Sabian symbols as interpreted by Dane Rudhyar give us a clear warning for this upcoming Mercury retrograde- desires and thoughts not aligned with Soul and Spirit, or Source (or Gods, Goddesses, God, what have you) will not only crash on a wave of disillusionment but may bring significant karmic repercussions to not just ourselves but the wider collective of our world.  The Sabian symbol for Mercury stationing retrograde is “heavy car traffic on a narrow isthmus linking two seashore resorts,” while the symbol for Neptune at this time is “a church bazaar.” Huh? Well, Rudhyar explains the isthmus traffic jam as a relic of the fact that the Sabian symbol transmissions went down in the San Diego, California area where such structures exist.  Since traffic jams are an astrological stereotype connected to Mercury retrograde periods, this may make sense, but the meaning of this symbol is much deeper.  Part of the meaning is a “traffic jam” of thoughts and information, as anyone who has been on social media is familiar with.  Thoughts have always been viral, with any thought carrying the potential to become swept up into the whirlwind of the collective zeitgeist and infecting multitudes, with many not even aware of how their previous thoughts have been shifted by the new viral thought pattern.  However, social media and things like facebook have made this phenomenon more extreme- facebook in particular being problematic as its feedback mechanism circulates posts from people you have “liked,” so the tendency is a feedback loop of people with similar perspectives or interests.  Rudhyar notes in the symbol that the sea surrounding the isthmus of traffic “stresses the collective nature of social experiences and of what may appear to be ‘individual’ achievements” (p. 271).

Rudhyar also highlights words such as “commerce and social interactions in a new form,” and “the need to establish unceasing dynamic relationships between all aspects and functions of the social life” (p. 270-1).  There is a danger in establishing new forms of interactions and relationships if we are not discerning, however, as the “church bazaar” symbol for Neptune connects with the social fabric of religions, the Church, or any group coming together for a spiritual purpose, from the New Age to the old.  The Neptune/Mercury/Pisces danger is that these social groups create a code of being that “justifies human behavior by blessing it with a divine Revelation of what is good and valuable” (Rudhyar, p. 271).  Spiritual doctrine guiding “right human relations” is valuable, however, there is also a Neptune trap of individuals justifying or rationalizing their behavior because of a belief it is of divine origin, or what God wants them to do, when in actuality it is more about their own selfish desire at the bottom line.  This is an important aspect of the Neptune archetype developed by Jeff Green in his soul-focused Evolutionary Astrology:  that while Neptune can help us spiritualize our life and connect with a timeless sense of ultimate meaning, we can also project delusional beliefs concerning ultimate meaning and can deceive ourselves and others that our selfish, separating desires are connected to Divine Will.

I see this connecting to the Sabian symbol for where Mercury is stationing direct at 19 Aquarius, “a forest fire is being subdued by the use of water, chemicals, and sheer muscular energy.”  As Rudhyar analyzed, forest fires can often be caused by humans and their modern inventions of technology, the tools of commerce and communication referenced in the Sabian symbol for where Mercury stationed retrograde.  And yet, at the same time the dynamic capacity humans have for communication and ingenuity can help us recover from disasters and come to the aid of life in danger of eradication.  Along these lines, the dynamic modes of communication indicated by the stationing symbol could also relate to us coming into contact with like-minded people, groups of people, on a global level, using technology to connect with others across great distances.  However, as Rudhyar noted in his analysis, the stationing degree symbol for Mercury indicates we will have our “strength, ingenuity or emotional stability” tested at this time, and that with faith we will have to draw from every resource available- “emotional, mental, physical” (p. 261).  Thus, whatever collective calamities will be arising that many of us are partially responsible for, we can use this Mercury retrograde cycle to re-formulate ourselves and prepare for the challenging times ahead, connecting with others who will be mutually benefit supports with us.  The Sabian symbol for the inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun is aligned with this idea:  “a tree felled and sawed to ensure a supply of wood for the winter.”  I feel this line of analysis from Rudhyar is very pertinent for now:  “In meeting the hardships inherent in an existence close to nature, strength, efficiency and intelligence are needed, but they are incorporated in a life in which every act can be part of a harmonic and beautiful ritual permeated with deep significance” (p. 266).  The more we can use this Mercury retrograde to go within, to question and discern our thoughts and perceptions and their source, the better.  The more we can sense and feel the soul of everything, everyone, everywhere we go in our daily experiences, the more we can connect with the correct current of Neptune for us to float down during this retrograde.  Neptune transits can be confusing, and so a Mercury retrograde cycle initiated by Neptune in Pisces sounds like perhaps the most disorienting of all: yet while these Sabian symbols and the deeper meaning of the astrology do suggest we need to be discerning in navigating through a Pisces fog, there is at the same time a tremendous inner resource available for us to cultivate with work that will help us persevere through the challenging times ahead on the horizon.

Mercury is traditionally not seen as operating smoothly in Pisces, since Pisces is the opposite sign of Virgo that is ruled by Mercury.  While Virgo embodies incredible tools and techniques for smooth, clear, and effective communication, Pisces still carries its own unique gifts into Mercury.  However, keeping the “viral” idea of thoughts in mind is important for Pisces, a sign that can be overly sensitive to its environment (and why Pisces people usually sense on their own when they need to take some time to themselves away from the thoughts of others).  Spending time going within is key now- reflecting, meditating, whatever will help us re-center and realize whether or not our desires are coming from an authentic affinity for soul and spirit or if instead they are being manipulated by outside sources or overly selfish desires. Mercury in Pisces is more intuitive and poetic than it is in other signs, perhaps open to misinterpretation but capable of expressing incredible emotion, perceiving and communicating the essence of the soul embedded in every aspect of our environment.  Looking at a list of people with Mercury in Pisces is a look at genius in a variety of fields:  Dane Rudhyar, Rudolph Steiner, Charles Darwin, Copernicus, Gallileo, Bach, Houdini, James Joyce, Stephane Mallarme, Charles Baudelaire, Milan Kundera, Roberto Assagioli, Kurt Cobain, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Harry Belafonte, Auguste Renoir, and Piet Mondrian.  Creating a structure or form for Mercury in Pisces is absolutely vital, however, so that there is a way to communicate the insights a Pisces Mercury can perceive in a form other people can understand.  This Mercury retrograde will be an opportune time to create a daily practice of some form where we can process our experience.  This sort of practice can be even more beneficial given that Venus has recently stationed direct and is now moving forward back across her retrograde shadow zone.  In fact, on the same day of Mercury’s Inferior Conjunction with the Sun-  February 15, 2014-  Venus will be shining at her peak level of brightness as the Morning Star.

Botticelli-primavera

The Botticelli painting above, commonly called “La Primavera” or “Allegory of Spring,” contains two pivotal archetypal figures of this astrological time, Mercury on the far left pointing toward the celestial heavens, and Venus honored in the center.  The Botticelli painting above is also fitting for this Mercury retrograde because Mercury will not leave its retrograde shadow zone until the Northern Hemisphere’s Spring Equinox of March 20, 2014 (the Autumn Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere- but Botticelli lived in the Northern Hemisphere).  In his extraordinary book The Planets Within: the Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino, Thomas Moore analyzed this work through the soul-focused perspective of Marsilio Ficino, a Renaissance astrologer and philosopher who had an enormous influence over Bottitcelli.  Moore wrote that Mercury “looks to the clouds, not because he has no place in the scene or is not interested in life’s graces, but because it is his office and function to see behind the facade of things, to find the significance and value which lay hidden in the folds of ordinary existence” (p. 142).  Moore also elaborated at depth on how this image embodies the perspective of Ficino that Venus is both an earthly and celestial goddess, concluding that “Venus leads the soul into the body and through the body to spirit.  From spirit, to body, back to spirit” (p. 142).  Ficino saw spirit as being like the “fire of the stars,” and intrinsically connected to soul, emphasizing the importance of imagination in finding our path and calling in the world (p. 49).  Moore wrote that Ficino valued imagination because it “allows of a vision that penetrates the surface of things and grasps those factors that have significance for the psyche” (p. 50).  With Mercury retrograde descended to the underworld at this time, our imagination will be an important skill to use in our daily life because Mercury in this soul-guide role will open us to perceiving information in dreams, omens, synchronicity, and other signs we will pass on a daily basis.

Although there is potential for us to find our path through allowing ourselves to be guided by soul during this Mercury retrograde, Ficino like many other spirit guides from history emphasized the importance of self-awareness and getting to know one’s self on a deep level:

Whoever discovers his own genius through the means we have stated will thus find his own natural work, and at the same time he will find his own star and daimon.  Following these beginnings he will do well and live happily.  Otherwise, he will experience misfortune and feel the enmity of heaven.

–Marsilio Ficino, The Planets

Mercury retrograde in Pisces conjunct Neptune at this time, with Venus slowly moving direct conjunct Pluto in Capricorn, are two celestial configurations to draw from in opening our perception to the Soul of our surroundings and a connection with Spirit.  Venus in particular can help us get into touch with our soul through our body and physical surroundings at this time, as she is still close to Pluto after her long retrograde journey.  However, both being personal planets that are highly charged at the moment, they are also both pivotal archetypes to utilize at this time for deep internal reflection and gaining a deeper awareness for what is going on in our inner relationship with our Self.  Indeed, Venus is opposite Jupiter in Cancer at this time, and Jupiter is the traditional ruler of Pisces where Mercury is stationing retrograde.  Jupiter in Cancer is also retrograde in a Water sign like Mercury, so going into our emotions at this time can be very fruitful and revealing.  We will want a practice of some sort to access this information- it can be contemplative like taking some time to simply breathe or meditate, or it can be more active like playing music, creating art, or writing.

Venus is a potent ingredient to this Mercury retrograde not just because she is currently conjunct Pluto and opposite Jupiter, however, but also because at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde she is ruling the transiting South Node in Taurus.  Significantly, in the days leading up to Mercury stationing direct, the lunar nodes will switch signs with the South Node becoming Aries, and the North Node becoming Libra. As a result, when Mercury stations direct Venus will have become the ruler of the transiting North Node of the Moon.  This is another sign of an important bridge at this time between our own individual experience with the wider collective experience-  take the responsibility to create the life you want to live, instead of wasting energy through complaining about what other people are doing.

Rudolf Steiner pencil sketch

Aquarius Alchemical Vessel

The inferior conjunction of Mercury retrograde and the Sun will be at 28 degrees of Aquarius on February 15, but will still carry overtones from the retrograde initiation of Mercury conjunct Neptune in Pisces.  The above pencil sketch was drawn by astrologer and philosopher Rudolph Steiner, who was born with Mercury conjunct Neptune in Pisces and is a good example of the sort of limitless perception a Pisces Mercury-Neptune combination is capable of embodying.  Relevant to the meaning of Mercury retrograde, Steiner once said,  “Thinking … is no more and no less an organ of perception than the eye or ear.  Just as the eye perceives colours and the ear sounds, so thinking perceives ideas.”  He also wrote Mystery plays with titles fitting to this Mercury retrograde:  The Portal of InitiationThe Souls’ ProbationThe Guardian of the Threshold and The Soul’s Awakening.  The upcoming inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun will be in Aquarius, however, a sign with a very different energy than Pisces.   Aquarius is the water bearer, but the water borne by Aquarius is illuminating and purifying, more of a cleansing energy than the fertile waters of Pisces that can get us rather muddy.   The inferior conjunction is like the New Moon for Mercury and the Sun, a new point of conception for our Mercury function and archetype in the world.   In contrast, the time leading up to this inferior conjunction, from February 6-14, will be more like a Balsamic Moon for Mercury, a time of releasing old thought forms, patterns, and embedded concepts in preparation for the new Aquarius vision to come after February 15.  We can feel confused at this time if we are insisting on being overly logical or rational, because the more “irrational” or unconscious mode of perception will be open to a greater extent, with information arising around us in dreams, signs, and symbols.

The inferior conjunction happening in Aquarius is perfect for a new vision, and the fact Mercury will re-enter Aquarius a few days before will help us objectify and detach from old thought forms in order to clear them for good.  Saturn is the traditional ruler of Aquarius, and Saturn in Scorpio will be very significant in this time period as the inferior conjunction will be in square to Saturn in Scorpio, and when Mercury finally stations direct on February 28, Saturn will be stationing to turn retrograde a few days later on March 3.  In addition, during the Mercury retrograde there will be a lunar occultation of Saturn in Scorpio on February 21.   Saturn has correlations in astrology to the alchemical process in association to the lead or base of conscisousness, a darkness that paradoxically contains its own light and gold.  This is the Jungian idea that by going into our darkness and shadow, we can alchemize and heat up our inner spark of gold- in this case events associated with transiting Saturn in Scorpio.  Aquarius will lend it’s penetrating insight to this inferior conjunction of Mercury as well as Mercury’s eventual stationing direct at the end of February, a perceptual awareness that can detach from emotional compulsions and can facilitate us liberating ourselves from habitual patterns of thought that have been limiting us.  We can use Aquarian insight to help us structure our own alchemical vessel within, mindful of the concept in verse 10 of the Tao Te Ching in which Lao Tzu states that “Clay is moulded to form a vessel, but it is the emptiness inside that gives the vessel its use.”   If you prefer to use Uranus as the ruler of Aquarius like most modern astrologers, then you don’t need to look farther than Uranus in Aries being in a t-square to Cancer Jupiter and Capricorn Pluto/Venus at this time for the star fire to heat your alchemical vessel.  No matter what your rulership perspective is, however, there is more than enough star fire going around in various transits to heat  your experiences into greater clarification.

While a square from Saturn in Scorpio to the Sun and Mercury in Aquarius may sound intense, there is also a tradition that there is sympathy in the square between Aquarius and Scorpio because they “see” one another as a result of being signs of equal power.  I recently watched an excellent webinar by Seattle astrologer Kate Petty called “Reflections Across the Cardinal Axis” that is available from Kepler College in which she very clearly illustrated this ancient concept if anyone is interested in learning more about this (basically it has to do with the fact that Scorpio and Aquarius are equi-distant signs from the Solstice, or Capricorn/Cancer axis).  In addition, since Saturn is the traditional ruler of Aquarius there is an affinity here, and with Saturn being in Scorpio we can add in a soul-focus to this affinity that connects to the humanitarianism of Aquarius.  There will also be a trine from Mars in Libra to the inferior conjunction in Aquarius of Mercury and the Sun, which will give us an opportunity to link our new vision into social justice concerns and issues, or into the development of new relationships.  Mars will be stationing retrograde in Libra immediately following Mercury stationing direct in Aquarius, and so this trine between Mars and the Mercury inferior conjunction is a powerful omen of an auspicious link between the two cycles to take advantage of for an increased self-awareness that will ultimately help us face oppressive conditions and other issues related to social justice in the collective global community.

Saturn in Scorpio is a karmic placement not unlike the deities Kali and Mahakala, and Saturn will suffer no fools at this time.  As a result, if we are operating from some delusional beliefs or selfish desires we will no doubt have something loudly and boldly thrown in our face, so to speak, or experience profound disillusionment from within.  If our imagination becomes activated, we will no doubt face tests of whether we are perceiving true or fabricated imaginal thought; likewise, if we feel a spiritualization occurring we will face tests of whether we are perceiving a true or fabricated connection to spirit.  Avoid clinging to denial out of defensiveness at this time and be open to questioning any beliefs or thoughts you have been operating from.  As Scorpio and Aquarius are both fixed signs, if we are unwilling to shift or flow with the current of our life we will add fuel to the fire of conflict arising around us.

Moon pamela colman

Leo Full Moon squares Scorpio Saturn

Prior to the inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun we will have a huge build up of energy with a  Leo Full Moon occurring on the previous day, in square to Saturn in Scorpio.  If you haven’t been paying attention, that means Feburuary 14, the traditional “Valentine’s Day” of romantic fantasy and illusion in our culture.  Perfect, right.  Remember that as we approach this build of energy that Mercury is in the underworld guiding our soul experiences and so we will want to attune to and align with the signs arising around us indicating the path forward.  This is a powerful lunar cycle:  the New Moon began the day before Venus stationed direct conjunct Pluto and opposite Jupiter, and then the Full Moon happens the day before the inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun, all in square to Saturn in Scorpio.  I feel having some strong Leo lunar energy at this time will be a true blessing of the goddess, as we will be saturated so much in Aquarius and Scorpio energy.  This will be an important time for self-love and to pamper yourself like you would a lover; if you are lucky enough to have a true lover in your life, this can of course be a mutual experience.  Just don’t get caught up in the blown-up romantic expectations of our cultural Valentine’s Day driven by selfish corporations who want you to purchase their ethically questionable chocolate.  If we have been behaving in an overly selfish manner, or projecting our opinions and desires in an unbalanced way into our environment in order to over-compensate for inner wounding or lack of true confidence, the Leo Full Moon may illuminate these issues strongly through the  square from Saturn in Scorpio.

7th Harmonic

7th Harmonic in February

Finally, I briefly want to comment upon how a 7th Harmonic could possibly be affecting your natal chart at this time.  The above diagram was drawn by Olympia astrologer Rosie Finn, who has taught my information concerning the 7th Harmonic.  The seven pointed star you can see above is activated in February by Mercury stationing with Neptune in Pisces, Venus stationing with Pluto in Capricorn, and Saturn in Scorpio- the other missing points are 26 Aries, 17.5 Gemini, 9 Leo, and 0.5 Libra.  You can look for transits to these points, or perhaps they are active in your natal chart through an aspect of some manner.

The 7th Harmonic is a strange harmonic, made up of septiles (51.5 degrees), bi-septiles (103 degrees), and tri-septiles (154.5 degrees).  I’ve learned from Rosie that these septiles can involve magical creativity and vision, a mystical sense of information descending from another realm, or a transfiguration.  They have an energy similar to the dissolving of boundaries and transcendence of “normal” reality that we often associate with Neptune and a Mercury retrograde period initiated by a conjunction of Mercury and Neptune in Pisces.  The 7th Harmonic can be highly creative and spiritual, can appear weirdly anomalous and difficult to occur naturally.  In a class one time Rosie gave Beethoven as an example of someone with a strong 7th Harmonic who created highly spiritual art yet also had to persist through the pain and suffering of being deaf (in contrast to Mozart who had a strong 5th Harmonic).  The bi-septile and tri-septile aspects of the 7th Harmonic stress the importance of integrating creativity into our purpose and process and making the necessary adjustments to manifest the inner revelations of this process and purpose back out into the external world. As the 7th Harmonic is a strange one, this isn’t exactly easily done.  However, anyone having experiences resonating with this description will be able to draw upon this Mercury retrograde process at this time to make the inner adjustments necessary to ultimately express whatever epiphany is being experienced within.

References

Moore, Thomas. (1990). The Planets Within: the astrological psychology of Marsilio Ficino. Lindisfarne Press.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1973). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases.  Vintage.