Giovanni Battista Riccioli, S.J., Almagestum novum, first edition, Bologna, 1651
The astrology world has been abuzz and aflutter with forewarning and warning, teetering from doom and gloom predictions to calls for a collective transformation to occur, as we approach an exact Cardinal Grand Square (April 20-23) in between a Total Lunar Eclipse (April 15) and an Annular Solar Eclipse (April 28-29). In many ways these are not new ideas, as our ability to “transform” our sense of self and perception in the world through moments of self-realization is not limited to this time, and the “doom and gloom” predictions sit within the fact there have been mass genocides, environmental degradation, and oppression happening on a regular basis not only in recent years, but also in past decades, centuries, and ages. Collectively, however, there are numerous signs visible everywhere around us in the world that we are at risk of entering a level of mass environmental destruction and oppression of living beings that it will be difficult if not impossible for us to recover from unless striking, disciplined action is planned and enacted on both the personal and collective level immediately. It also is true that these upcoming astrological energies are very intense, and so it will be especially important to be alert and awake to our environment and mindful to take full responsibility for our responses and actions.
One correlation of current events entering the news cycle recently is that a lot more information has been revealed concerning the plutocratic power structure’s work to not only continue gaining profit from taking planetary resources for itself, but to try to control greater levels of freedom for itself to operate in a Uranian way, especially through the very technology it advertises as offering greater freedom for the masses. Now we know that the accusations Edward Snowden has made about the NSA in the United States hoarding private data of people is nothing compared to the massive data that search engines and computer companies are saving about all of us in order to make money through selling all of our search data to advertisers. In this “information age,” our personal data is the power of currency, and the power structure hopes to distract the collective into a sleep of distraction in gadgets and the latest app update. As this Cardinal Cross has tightened I have personally become more acutely aware of the gargantuan mind trap the power structure has attempted to weave around all of us with this technology. This is only one example of current events occurring, but just like every other example there is another side to this equation: the current technology is also in place to facilitate a collective wake-up call to take back ownership of our individual lives and destinies away from the small percentage of people on this planet who currently own the vast majority of resources on this planet. The impending Total Lunar Eclipse is a gate into a vortex of astrological intensity that if we can harness and integrate with disciplined focus on the path ahead, offers an opportunity for liberation of our perceptions and being. It is also a time to maintain balance in response to others in our environment as much as we can summon, for many around us may be acting more off-kilter in extremity than normal during these disorienting transits.
In many ways there is nothing new about the upcoming eclipses and Cardinal Cross, just that we have not experienced all of these things together at the same time. This will be the fifth of the exact squares between Pluto and Uranus (April 21), and the last two also occurred during times of eclipses (May 20, 2013 and November 1, 2013). We have truly been in a “slow cook” of all of these energies since last July and August, when around July 22, 2013 the current cycle of Mars and Jupiter began with a conjunction in Cancer that formed a Grand Water Trine with Neptune in Pisces and Saturn in Scorpio. Pluto and Uranus were basically square at this time, and then as we entered August, Jupiter and Pluto exactly reached opposition on August 8, 2013 creating a t-square with Uranus and Pluto, and later in August Venus also moved into Libra creating a Cardinal Grand Square with Jupiter, Uranus, and Pluto: it just wasn’t as exact as it is now, with Mars about the fill the Libran space. The point, however, is that a huge amount of shifting occurred at this time, and the energy we are attempting to integrate now in our daily life was much more disorienting eight months ago.
After we emerged from the powerful shifting of last August, we entered another period of intense eclipses surrounding an exact square between Pluto and Uranus in October and November. Then, this cosmic pattern gave us a series of retrograde cycles of personal planets that further activated all of these dynamics: first Venus, then Mercury, and now Mars. In particular, when Venus was initially retrograde during the time of December 25-30, 2013, Mars moved direct in Libra to form a Cardinal Grand Square with Jupiter, Pluto, and Uranus for the first time in this cycle. In all we have had a long period to be working on whatever personal issues are correlating with these intense dynamics, so reflecting back over this entire period will be helpful if you can manage the time to do it. Personally, I have noticed many people becoming aware of the fact that they can indeed liberate themselves from what has been holding themselves back in their past, that a cherished vision or dream is finally appearing to manifest in front of them, or at least the belief that such a manifestation can occur is germinating. At the same time, a great amount of fear and concern is also erupting, just as any dramatic change can seem unsettling and scary to our routine of being creatures of habit. There have also been many disturbing stories of calamities and crises in current events, again offering the opportunity to fall into fear.
For a grand square to now occur is fitting because at heart it is about two oppositions forming a square to one another, creating a personal sense of overwhelm from such extreme polarity of energy coming in from every direction. “At heart,” however is the phrase to keep in mind: one reason that the soul-centered, esoteric astrology taught by Alan Oken actually makes practical sense to me is the emphasis that the “cross” meets in the center, the heart. This does not mean things will be easy, and in fact means the exact opposite: being incarnated in our human bodies at this time is difficult, and we experience events and emotions that seem to break our hearts. Yet, in the end it is this heart-breaking that allows our hearts to finally open fully to the reality of our world. For a grand square to occur in the cardinal signs only adds to the intensity- it can be a feeling of having so many projects or relationships to attend to that a dizzying mental space occurs in which we do not know what to focus on, a sharp sense of the limitations of our time and space. With Mars being retrograde, this can add in a factor of feeling like we need more rest and that we may not have the energy to take all of it on, and yet the excitement of all of the other aspects is generating a lot of energy in our environment nonetheless. One issue with cardinal signs is a sense of wanting to initiate projects or actions, but lacking the sustaining power to see them through to completion: with this cardinal grand square we will need to have discipline and staying power to see the course through all of the dramatic change to come. Even if the relationships around us seem fraught with discord at times, we will also need to remember that we will need the support of relationships to help us navigate to where we want to go. I have a sense that these upcoming aspects will help us tune into the relationships we want to keep and focus on to a greater extent to help us move forward on our path, and which relationship are more of a hindrance than a help and need to be released. In any event, we will want to flow: find our unique flow at this time and the ability to move from project to project, relationship to responsibility, to the best of our ability and integrity. We will want to stay alert and moving forward, attending to whatever needs attending to in the moment. Mars being retrograde in Libra also gives an opportunity for some reflective planning and strategy, if we can get a moment or two to ourselves to ponder how to make our actions more effective.
Above is the chart for the upcoming Lunar Eclipse set for Olympia, Washington where I live and am writing this post. Adding to the intensity of this eclipse is that about eight hours before it occurs, Mercury will exactly unite with Uranus in Aries, and Pluto will station retrograde in Capricorn. As a result, in many ways one could say that Pluto turning toward an underworld journey is dominating this eclipse, but believe me when I say that Ceres has something to say about this. Ceres is exactly conjunct the Moon at the time of this eclipse, and she has created a network of goddesses to harmoniously facilitate the intense energy of change occurring at this time on behalf of the divine feminine. The Sabian Symbol for this eclipse has been getting a lot of attention: “An eagle and a large white dove change into each other,” which Dane Rudhyar emphasizes is about “interaction of the spiritual Will and of the Love principle when critical needs arise” (An Astrological Mandala, p. 188). Indeed, the goddesses at work through aspects in this eclipse are doing just that.
Pallas Athena, for example, is exactly sextile the Moon, North Node, Ceres, and Vesta, and in trine to the Sun, Juno, South Node, and Eris. She is also in square to Saturn, and if you think that Athena cannot handle herself with Kronus, you should read myth more closely. Also, Venus has Athena’s back and is coming in to trine Saturn so that Athena can pull the rug out from under his feet. Athena in the heroic sign of Leo is giving us an opportunity to devise a strategy of wisdom at this time to navigate forward on our path. It will please Athena to assess all of the dangers and obstacles surrounding us, formulate a plan, and then strike forward with all of our heart to seize the moment toward making our vision for our future a reality. Athena is making herself available at this time to make it so.
Vesta in Libra is also exactly opposite Juno in Aries at this eclipse and is a fascinating embodiment of the interplay of polarities at work. Juno the goddess of relationship being in the independent sign of Aries, and Vesta the goddess of independent focus being in the relational sign of Libra, is an absolutely perfect symbol of our need to focus on and develop the relationships in our lives that our offering us support and nourishment in finding our authentic self and presence in the world. The warning found in this dynamic is for Vesta to lose her focus through her desire to be in relationship, and for Juno to become lost in passionate jealousy or possessiveness of her selfish desires, and yet with Pallas Athena in Leo mediating whatever conflict could occur between these goddesses, we will have the wisdom available to us to know the difference between negative selfishness and the positive, necessary selfishness we will need to claim for ourselves for not only our own highest good, but for the highest good of all beings.
Ceres aka Demeter is all over this eclipse, however, as not only is Ceres conjunct the lunar eclipse but the eclipse will be near the fixed star Spica, the star of the wheat held by the goddess Ceres in the constellation of Virgo. Each night we are also getting a beautiful visual of the burning red planet Mars arising in the sky with Spica, making the Ceres of our night sky more illuminated at this time. Ceres is also holding space on the North Node of the Moon at this time, adding more emphasis on our need to cultivate relationships and our ability to productively express our own needs in relationship as well as listen to the needs of others. The Sun, Juno, and Eris all with the South Node of the Moon in Aries is a symbol of our personal and collective relationship habits that are more about or own self-absorption and impatience to get our own needs met, or to act from an angry wounded place of aggression in our relationship dynamics. Ceres holds the greatest lessons of life and death within her celestial space, calling on us to accept ourselves and our current situation in life: it is only through this awareness and acceptance of where we are, and of what has happened to us, that we will be able to create the life and relationships that will be the most nourishing for our soul. Fittingly, the Ceres in Libra all over this eclipse is currently being ruled by Venus in Pisces, a Venus that is conjunct both Neptune and Chiron in Pisces, the sign of her exaltation.
Amphitrite (1866), by François Théodore Devaulx
Venus in Pisces rules the Total Lunar Eclipse that occurs before the exact Cardinal Grand Square, and she rules the Annular Solar Eclipse that occurs after the exact Cardinal Grand Cross. And that’s not all she is ruling: she rules Mars retrograde in Libra, the North Node of the Moon in Libra, Vesta in Libra, and Ceres. Sure, Mars is ruling the Sun during this time, the South Node of the Moon, Juno, and Eris: but remember that Venus is ruling his ass. We can additionally factor in that Venus is forming harmonious alliances of her own with some of the most powerful players: Jupiter, Saturn, Chiron, Neptune, and Pluto. Venus only days ago had an exact conjunction with Neptune, and she will be at the mid-point of Neptune and Chiron at the time of the Total Lunar Eclipse, forming a trine to Jupiter in Cancer and a sextile to Pluto in Capricorn. As she advances through the chaos of the Cardinal Cross she will form a Grand Water Trine with Jupiter in Cancer, Saturn in Scorpio, and Chiron in Pisces. By the end of the month when the Solar Eclipse in Taurus occurs that she rules, she will still be in exaltation in Pisces in the powerful final decan of the entire zodiac.
So, while she may not be getting as much attention it seems from astrologers, Venus is very strong right now and she wants to help you liberate whatever has been getting in the way of you experiencing pleasure and love in your daily existence on this crazy planet. This is not a “mushy” sentiment, but indeed is said with full awareness of how difficult life can be for people today. However, even in the most oppressive personal and collective crisis imaginable, we still have the choice to integrate the energy through our heart and to respond with our true integrity. Amazingly, the Sabian Symbol for Venus at the time of the eclipse is about “traveling a narrow path, seeking illumination,” revealing the potential and ability of each and every person to embark upon a “Path of Discipleship” (Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala, p. 274). It is even more remarkable for Venus to be conjunct both Neptune and Chiron at the time of holding this space of discipleship at this eclipse, and an amazing correlation in current events that it was recently announced that an ancient papyrus stating that Jesus of Nazareth had a wife has been validated as authentic by experts. To me, the goddess Mary is with us at this time, the wild Mary, the divine Mary, the disciple Mary, the true Mary Magdalene of divine strength and perseverance who has been on the receiving end of extraordinary judgment and oppression across the ages of history, and yet still today stands strong in herself in all of her resplendent divinity.
Venus in Pisces conjunct Neptune and Chiron at this time is not about being a victim: it is about being Love, it is about having the courage to love and perceive the medicine of everything in our environment, no matter how cruel and malicious others around us may appear. Jupiter being opposite Pluto, in the signs of Cancer and Capricorn, has correlated with many intense experiences and crises in belief for many on our planet, but Venus has already had an entire retrograde cycle occur in Capricorn, in league with Pluto, and she has now stepped forward to mediate their conflict.
Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto dividing the Universe by Giulio Bonasone
Pluto in Capricorn stations retrograde about eight hours before the Total Lunar Eclipse, and so there is an especially intense Plutonic vibration occurring now. Whatever is erupting from inside of us at this time must be paid attention to with courageous awareness: denial of what is occurring for us right now is possibly even a dangerous act with what could follow as consequence. We do not want to judge ourselves with shaming, crippling indictment, but rather use an awareness of discernment to perceive what is happening with us on all levels. We will want to take responsibility for everything at this time, and take the responsibility that we can discern new choices moving forward.
Jupiter has been in his exaltation in Cancer for a long time now, and holding space opposing Pluto for an unusual amount of time. Last August was the first time these two heavyweights opposed, and then after Jupiter stationed to move back retrograde, they came into opposition again on January 31, 2014 at the same time that Venus stationed direct in Capricorn. This is important to remember in connection to the fact that Venus is now in trine to Jupiter and in sextile to Pluto. If we have been open to our perceptions of phenomenal reality, most likely during these past nine months of Jupiter and Pluto opposing one another we have come across information from events and relationships that have forced us to deeply question our most primal and cherished beliefs, both what we think is our conscious philosophy of life as well as the subconscious philosophy of life we act from at times without awareness. No matter how difficult this process may have been at times, Jupiter is in the end working magic with Pluto to expand each one of us beyond limitations of judgment and conditioning in our past into a life and worldview that is more deeply aligned with our soul and authentic nature. It will be important to remember that while it can be helpful and necessary to question our beliefs, it is also important to intuitively know what we know to be true for ourselves and to stand strong in the face of any entity attempting to manipulate our beliefs at this time. All one needs to do is turn on the television or tune into the media to see the full face of the plutonic power structure’s attempt to manipulate all of us at this time.
Johannes Kepler’s depiction of the geocentric motions of Mars, from Astronomia Nova (1609)
Mars has now crossed the mid-point of its retrograde journey in Libra and is getting closer everyday to forming the Cardinal Grand Square with Jupiter, Uranus, and Pluto. The recent opposition between Mars and the Sun (April 8, 2014) also marked the halfway point of their current cycle that began last April 17, 2013 at 29 Aries. Mars is also at its closest distance to Earth in its orbit at this time, appearing a brighter red than ever in our night sky- in fact in the days ahead Mars will be getting closer and closer to us every night, becoming closest in orbit at the same time of the total Lunar Eclipse that will occur on April 15, 2014. In all of these ways we are feeling an intense gravity of Mars at this time, bringing the questions: what issues are coming up for you concerning your Will-force? What is coming up in your relationships, and being mirrored back to you? It also may be helpful to reflect back upon the time period of December 25-30, 2013 when Venus was retrograde and Mars was moving direct in Libra and formed a Cardinal Grand Square for the first time with Jupiter, Pluto, and Uranus.
Since we are now past the halfway mark of this Mars retrograde, through our environment and all of our relationships we have been recently receiving a lot of information concerning our central issues involved in this Mars retrograde journey- have you been paying attention? Again, this is not a time to be in denial but to open yourself to full awareness of everything presenting itself to you in your environment, literally the meaning of everything around you. Are you angry about anything? If so, why? Whatever the reason will contain important information to reflect upon. In addition, as Mars is moving toward a last quarter square to Pluto, a first quarter square to Jupiter, and an opposition to Uranus, we are also gaining greater sense of how we fit into the greater society- if we can gain a greater sense and presence in our authentic nature at this time of great calamity in world events, we will want to be able to integrate this sense of self into society so that we can help not only ourselves, but others in need. It is important at this time to reclaim your sense of Will and the power of your Self not for yourself, not to brag about yourself on social media, but to powerfully make your presence felt so that you will be heard, to put yourself in position to not only listen to others, but to take action on the behalf of others or to serve the needs of others around you in dire straits. Whatever information you have been receiving lately through your relationships, including in moments of passionate desire and conflict, is of supreme importance to process and use to help you claim more of your authentic nature.
Perseus saves Andromeda by Edward Burne-Jones
Finally, the last angle of the Cardinal Grand Square may be the most important of all, and also is embodying added intensity at this time of the lunar eclipse. Only a half an hour or so before Pluto stations retrograde, only about eight and half hours before the total lunar eclipse, Mercury will be exactly conjunct with Uranus in the sign of Aries. Mercury is the esoteric ruler of Aries, a key into our human ability to exert mind over matter at times. There are many modern astrologers who further believe that Uranus is a higher octave of Mercury, and that there is an important relationship between these two trickster archetypes to be aware of at all times. With Mercury and Uranus uniting in Aries at a time of a total lunar eclipse, being opposite Mars retrograde in Libra and in square to an opposition between Jupiter and Pluto, focusing on this union of Mercury and Uranus at this time will be incredibly powerful for invoking and initiating a path of total liberation from negative patterns of your past.
There is a fascinating alignment with this Cardinal Grand Square and famous fixed stars, with Jupiter being near Sirius, Pluto being near Vega, and Mars moving across Arcturus and Spica and toward Algorab. However, the alignment I want to focus on is that Mercury and Uranus are uniting by zodiac degree in the same area of the zodiac where the fixed star Alpheratz resides, in the Andromeda constellation. In Western culture we see Alpheratz, a double purple and white star, as being the head of Andromeda, a woman of renowned beauty in myth who was chained to a rock in order to be eaten by a sea monster to appease the jealousy of the Nereids, and the wrath of Poseidon. See, Andromeda’s mother Cassiopeia had been going on bragging that her daughter was more beautiful than the Nereids, sea nymphs who were tight with Poseidon. Before Andromeda could be devoured by the sea monster, however, the hero Perseus came to her rescue, in some versions wearing winged sandals, in others an invisibility cloak that was the helm of none other than Hades himself. According to Ptolemy, Alpheratz is like Venus, and this star representing the head of Andromeda has also been linked to both Venus and Jupiter by others.
What could this mean on a personal level? Andromeda to me is like our authentic self, our divine inner goddess, our inner Venus and Jupiter, the two most harmonious and beneficial traditional wanderers. In one way or another many of us have been chained to some sort of metaphorical rock, been a scapegoat on the receiving end of inner or outer judgment- today at this time is a chance to become more acutely aware of what oppressive past pattern or dynamic we want to focus on to liberate ourselves from. Just like the trine between Venus and Jupiter, the sextile between Venus and Pluto, the conjunction between Mercury and Uranus- all of these aspects point to this same idea. Even the magical objects used by Perseus connect with this astrology- his winged sandals evoking Mercury, and the helm of Hades allowing him to be invisible in his fight against the sea monster evoking Pluto. Furthermore, his heroic action evokes the planet Mars that is moving retrograde to enter the Cardinal Grand Square as it also enters its closest orbital distance to our planet. We do not need some outside hero to come rescue us at this time, however- our hero and heroine is inside of us.