Libra Lunar Eclipse 2016

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Painting by Carl Jung from his Red Book

Lunar Eclipse in Libra

Riding the dragon of the Libra Lunar Eclipse is Lady Justice, wielding her sword that cuts through inequities, imbalances, deceptions, and disempowerment.  The Full Moon Eclipse on 23 March 2016 illuminates the release and initiation of the Total Solar Eclipse that began this lunar cycle, and in the peeling away of the old dragon skin we find the regenerated richness of a purified path and vision to follow forward. In the ashes of what has been burned off there now arises refined reflection capable of irrevocably altering past patterns of limitation and inauthenticity.  The lunar light of this Eclipse illuminates a visceral sense of the deep Self within and how to best bolster the growth wanting to burst forth from it. Like a lightning strike of destiny there is sudden recognition of the old that is now gone with finality, with an arising yearning for the fresh scent of replenishing pleasure appearing on the path in front of us.

Libra is a sign of finding balance, the process of balancing rather than existing in a balanced state.  There is a great deal of instability in the surrounding astrological aspects to this Libra Lunar Eclipse, so the task at hand is finding a center of balance to move forward with.  There may be feelings of oscillation, yet within the vacillation there can be centering through claiming an authentic place of integrity.  Being true to inner values and ethics, responsibility may be taken to pursue the desires that make us feel alive rather than conform to stagnant expectations of others.  As a result we may act from a centered place of mature assertiveness and compassion, rather than from anger, passive aggression, vindictiveness,  arrogance, or narcissism.

The Lunar Eclipse in Libra occurs simultaneously with an exact last quarter square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Jupiter in Virgo, with the Libra Moon in sextile to Mars in Sagittarius, and the Sun and Mercury in Aries in trine to Mars.  The last quarter square between Jupiter and Saturn has its source in the end of May in the year 2000, when the current cycle between Jupiter and Saturn began (interestingly, the previous cycle between Saturn and Jupiter began in 1980 in the sign of Libra close to the degree of this Eclipse).  This is the second of three exact last quarter square aspects formed between Saturn and Jupiter, with the first occurring at the beginning of August 2015 during a Venus retrograde.  At the time of this Lunar Eclipse, Saturn in Sagittarius is stationing retrograde, and so the scythe of Saturn is firmly planted with stark resoluteness. What must be released now must be released with clarity, acceptance, and responsibility if you wish to please Saturn. Jupiter is still close to the North Node of the Moon, and so at the same time with grounded presence will come awareness of a vision to follow forward bringing greater embodiment in all of the complexity of nature.  The influence of Mars can light a burning passion from within, and with it a need to find a center of balance through which to mediate the fiery force.

eclipse lunar diagram library

Lunar Eclipse Diagram, from The New York Public Library

In contrast to the Solar Eclipse that began this cycle on March 8 and covered the Sun in Total blackness, this Lunar Eclipse is not Total and is instead classified as Penumbral. This is because though the Eclipse is fairly close to the North Node of the Moon, the Eclipse is actually happening at the beginning of Libra while the North Node of the Moon is at the beginning of the second decan of Virgo.  The result is that the shadow cast by the Earth onto the Moon by our Sun is not going to cover the Moon in a total red glow, but instead means that only the diffuse outer shadow of Earth will cover the Moon and so the red shading will be barely noticeable.   Nonetheless, this is still a potent Lunar Eclipse especially because it occurs simultaneously with a last quarter square between Jupiter and Saturn and a superior conjunction between Mercury and the Sun which imbibes a strong Mercurial influence into the proceedings.

Symbolically the meaning of a Lunar Eclipse is rooted in the phenomenon of our Sun casting the shadow of our Earth onto the face of our Moon.  Linking the Moon to what we carry with us in our body and mind, these memories of the past can be released or opened up to allow for the emergence of new ways of being embodied in the moment.  This current Libra Lunar Eclipse is aligned with the North Node of the Moon, while our fiery Sun is burning most closely in alignment with Mercury on the side of the South Node of the Moon.  The Sun with the South Node means that growth comes now from the resolution and release of old karma, and with Chiron and Ceres closely conjoining the South Node of the Moon we can further link the archetypes of Chiron and Ceres strongly into the complexity of this past karmic pattern.  Among other themes linked with Chiron and Ceres is a unifying thread of self-healing, regeneration, and resilient persistence in productivity in times of loss, release, pain, and suffering.

Significantly, this is the final Lunar Eclipse to occur in the signs of Aries and Libra in the series that began in 2013 (Lunar Eclipse on 10/18/13 at 26 Aries; Lunar Eclipse on  4/15/14 at 26 Libra; Lunar Eclipse on  10/08/14 at 16 Aries; Lunar Eclipse on 4/04/15 at 15 Libra; Lunar Eclipse on 9/28/15 at 5 Aries).  Since this Lunar Eclipse is in close polarity to the Lunar Eclipse that occurred on 28 September 2015,  there is a direct link to issues arising at the end of September last year with whatever is being currently resolved and released at this time.  In the polarity between Aries and Libra, we explore the tension between the instinctual, independent needs of the self and the needs that are met through relationship with another.  The series of Lunar Eclipses in Aries and Libra that stretch back to October 2013 have triggered pivotal experiences that have brought awareness to the dynamics we create in relationship and our capacity to have our needs met.  Ideally, we can now gain insight into what we need to feel fulfilled in relationships, and clarity can be gained for how we can create a relationship based on equality and balanced giving and receiving.

 

ernst gala

Gala Eduard (1924) by Max Ernst

Venus Neptune

Venus rules the eclipse while separating from a conjunction with Neptune in Pisces, and applying to a square with Saturn in Sagittarius. Pisces is the exaltation of Venus, and as Neptune in modern astrology is seen as a higher octave of Venus, this Libra Lunar Eclipse brings feelings of what most deeply fulfills us in love, whether that can be found in a current relationship or instead within the clarity of having old illusions regarding love washed away.  As Venus is applying to a square with a stationing Saturn, there is lucidity found by facing the actual reality of current relationships and their intrinsic patterns without denial.  This Libra Lunar Eclipse will highlight what has been out of balance in our relationships, where and why we have felt disillusioned, and what we need to do to create the relationships that will bring real love, truly nurturing and ecstatic love into our life.

As Venus bridges the square from Neptune in Pisces to Saturn in Sagittarius, Venus is simultaneously applying to an opposition with Jupiter in Virgo.  Regarding romantic relationships, the visionary feelings of what we want needs to be grounded in the body and the actual circumstances of the moment- whatever is out of alignment with our present reality will be keenly felt.  Regarding our myriad, complex relationships with the surrounding world in general, this Libra Eclipse will bring awareness to what old desires and attachments no longer serve us and are getting in the way of embodying our essential personal truth.  There is a great dissolving of inner values going on at this eclipse that we have been fixated upon for a sense for a sense of security and identity, and now realize have led us into disillusioning experiences.  By releasing the old, an open space is created through which regenerated inner values will emerge to source a purified vision for what will bring meaningful purpose into our life.

magritte the false mirror

The False Mirror (1928) by Rene Magritte

Mercury Cazimi

Crucially, Mercury is entering the heart of the Sun in Aries, the exaltation of the Sun, at the time of the Lunar Eclipse.  This is the superior conjunction of Mercury, when Mercury swiftly moves direct through a conjunction with the Sun, becoming purified and regenerated within the fiery rays of light.  The superior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun stands in contrast to the inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun that occurs when Mercury is retrograde.  Instead of the symbolic, oracular, chthonic perception enlivened at the inferior conjunction, the superior conjunction has a soaring epiphanic quality.  Demetra George has compared the superior conjunction of Mercury to the visionary quality of Mercury in Sagittarius- at the superior conjunction there is a quicksilver rush of insight and information that can feel overwhelming and difficult to encapsulate in communication, yet can ignite ingenious, penetrating perception.

With Mercury uniting with the Sun in Aries while applying to a trine with Mars in Sagittarius, Mercury is cazimi or “in the heart” of not only the Sun, but the central meaning of this Lunar Eclipse.  This is a moment of past patterns of perception being burned off, with brilliant discernment arising regarding the current nature of our desires and sense of personal will.  The piercing perception into our deep Self can also open awareness into unconscious forces that have been sourcing our choices and actions, and we can gain sudden clarity into how the shadow side of our personality manifested within the old Mercurial patterns being purified within the rays of the Sun.  As Mars will be stationing retrograde in less than a month, this is a Mercurial moment to seize in order to discover the essence of currently arising desires and the associated intrinsic purpose that will bring meaningful fulfillment into our life as we begin to enter the upcoming Mars retrograde.

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2 of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

Libra I Decan

The first face of Libra is associated with the Two of Swords card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith.  In the image we see a blindfolded woman crossing two swords in front of her, while sitting before an oceanic expanse.  The blindfold and ocean suggest contact with the instinctual inner realm and unconscious, similar to how a Lunar Eclipse will catalyze the fertile void within.  Commonly, this card in tarot has a meaning of mediating between opposing forces to find peace of mind and courageous equipoise, resolving previous conflicts within a protected space of exploring internal balance.  As Venus in Pisces as the ruler of the Libra Eclipse is separating from a conjunction with Neptune and applying to a square with Saturn and opposition with Jupiter, the capacity suggested by this card to turn within to find a balanced center with which to then respond through into the external world is fitting.

The Moon is the ruler of the first decan of Libra, adding additional potency to the Libra Moon being covered by the Earth’s shadow at the time of the Lunar Eclipse.  Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “A Blind Fold and a Sword” to this face, suggesting it awakens us to surrounding injustice and disequilibrium on a societal level as well as in our daily personal interactions. While Coppock noted the aspect of the decan that can bring inner peace through the recognition of inequities, he also found that there is a legal element to this face that brings evidence and “hidden testimonies to awareness” (p. 157).  Coppock linked this Libran legal aspect to the fact that the Hellenistic text The 36 Airs of the Zodiac ascribed the Erinyes (also known as the Furies) to the first face of Libra, the underworld goddesses serving natural law and justice who punished those who violated divine law.  Coppock captured the essence of this face in the following passage:

While fair trade and social justice are prime concerns in this face, its true object is relationships. Legal proceedings and commerce are essentially about the balance between two entities.  Indeed peace or strife between individuals is what determines social order, and consensus is the very root of the law. Fairness and reciprocity must underlie all friendships and romances if they are to last. This face shines a light on these dynamics, bringing what is troublesome to the light of conscious recognition. The core principles of ethical interaction with other beings are thus revealed in this face.  — Austin Coppock, 36 Faces, p. 158

As the Libra Lunar Eclipse arrives and passes, as the Moon proceeds to wane once again into the dissemination and release of its monthly cycle, may we each reawaken our sense of personal truth and integrity from within, living through these inner values and carrying their ethical implications into our relationships with the surrounding world.

References

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

LibraLunarEclipse2016WRIGC1

References

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Venus in Pisces

Exaltation of Venus

Venus ingresses into Pisces on 12 March 2016, the sign of her exaltation.  The origins of the exaltation system are cloaked in mystery, with some believing they predate the rulership schemes of Hellenistic Astrology from the period of ancient Babylonian Astrology.  A planet in its exaltation is able to purely express its essential quality, as exaltations for planets are in signs in which the domicile ruler is supportive of its significations.  In the case of Venus, her exaltation is in Pisces, the inner home of Jupiter and its stabilizing presence which is in accord with the unifying nature of Venus.  Venus signifies harmony, aesthetics, music, art, pleasure, and relationship, and is able to reconcile that which has been previously separated.  In the inner, watery place of Pisces, Venus is able to express the full range of her boundless sensuality.  As this current ingress occurs in between eclipses, the transit of Venus in Pisces can help harmonize what has been stirred up by the recent Total Solar Eclipse in Pisces.

The exaltations occur at the turning points of the seasons, with the exaltation of Jupiter being in the solstice sign of Cancer, the exaltation of Mars being in the solstice sign of Capricorn, the exaltation of Saturn being in the equinox sign of Libra, and the exaltation of the Sun being in the equinox sign of Aries.  Venus has her exaltation in Pisces, the sign that transitions Winter into Spring in the northern hemisphere, Summer into Fall in the southern hemisphere.  In the northern hemisphere, this is the time of bright petals and flowery pastels beginning to emerge again from the earth.  As Robert Hand has taught, a planet being in its exaltation is not necessarily more beneficial, only that it has the support it needs to have its natural presence.  It follows that this current transit of Venus will be potent for syncretizing meaning through the creation of art, and can foster healing in relationships.

There is a serendipitous connection between the myths of Venus and her exaltation being in Pisces, as one version of the Pisces story is that the two fish of the constellation are the transmuted forms of Venus and her divine son Cupid.  Along the currents of the Euphrates River in ancient Mesopotamia, Venus and Cupid were fleeing in panic from the Typhon, the monstrous monster of all monsters and chaos unleashed by the Titans to destroy the usurping Olympians.  As the ravenous jaws of the Typhon descended to devour Venus and Cupid, they leapt into the river currents, becoming slippery fish able to evade the brutish beast.  This myth has been analyzed in connection to Pisces by many astrologers, including suggesting it reveals the escapist side of Pisces that chooses to blur reality in crisis. Essentially to me, it instead signifies the capacity of Pisces to turn inward into the depths of the unconscious, embrace the changing soulful nature of the material world, and regenerate and heal what has been fractured from within.

Pisces sextile Taurus

Another feature of the exaltations is that they form whole sign aspects to the domicile placement of the planet, sextiles for nocturnal planets and trines for diurnal planets.  For example, the exaltation of Jupiter in Cancer is in trine to its home in Pisces.  The exaltation of the Moon in Taurus is in sextile to its home in Cancer.  The exaltation of Saturn in Libra is in trine to its home in Aquarius.  The exaltation of Mars in Capricorn is in sextile to its home in Scorpio.  The exaltation of the Sun in Aries is in trine to its home in Leo.  With Venus, we find that her exaltation in Pisces is in sextile to her home in Taurus.  Venus signifies our full range of bodily senses and allows us to receive pleasure in nature and our material surroundings. The sextile between Pisces and Taurus brings up a vital essence of Pisces that is misunderstood by many.  It is common to hear people suggest that those with strong Pisces signatures prefer to live in a world of fantasy disconnected from the body, but this could  not be more wrong.  It is in fact essential for Pisces to feel the full sensual beauty of its inner visions in the body, on the skin and in the mundane movement through reality.

Venus is a magnetic force in astrology that brings elements together, attracts and binds us to what we feel in the depths of our Soul.  The chemistry between Pisces and Taurus is potent and has been known since the time of the ancients:  Hellenistic astrologer Vettius Valens, in Book One of his Anthologies, wrote that the sextile between Pisces and Taurus signifies that they are beholding signs, as Pisces beholds Taurus.  Whereas Taurus is fixed and can be stubborn, however, Pisces is mutable and adaptable to change. While it is vital for Pisces to feel its soulful connections in the body, if not in ideal circumstances Pisces also holds the capacity to not only envision a reality in which it may behold its soulful desires, but also alter reality to bring about manifestation of its deeply felt values and connections.  This is part of the magic between Taurus and Pisces and their ability to build forms together that satiate their deepest desires.

As Taurus is the inner home of Venus, the supportive sextile with Pisces supports an inner journey into our deepest recesses to discover our most authentic values and desires while Venus transits through Pisces.  As Pisces is mutable and capable of losing a sense of boundaries in relationship, to access the richest potential of Venus in Pisces means activating a deep internal exploration of the Self, rather than losing touch with one’s own values through the dynamics of external relationships with others.  This does not mean to avoid relationships with Venus in Pisces, but rather to open oneself to those relationships most aligned with our deeply felt sense of value, aesthetics, sensuality, and passion.  Venus in Pisces in this way holds the capacity to foster relationships most resonant with the Soul.

Venus + Jupiter

Since Pisces being the exaltation of Venus means that her significations are supported by the ruler of Pisces, it follows that Jupiter as the ruler of Pisces buttresses the manifestations of Venus with great aplomb, accord, and pure pleasure.  Pisces is the inwardly directed home of Jupiter, and in this watery place we gain access to inner knowing, wisdom, and vision.  Pisces holds the resources Venus needs to take a dive into the unconscious and the inner world of dreams and visions, in order to reemerge with a regenerated sense of what we need to feel viscerally alive.

Crucially, the inner knowing of Jupiter that supports the exalted potential of Venus in Pisces relies upon the inner vision being sourced by the deep Self rather than from external conditioning influences.  Without attuning to one’s authentic inner values, Venus in Pisces can live out the desires received through reading a favorite book, watching a moving film, listening to an inspirational teacher, or being attracted to the presence of a lover.  By creating the space and time to go within and listen to one’s inner voice and calling, which sounds much easier than it actually is, Venus in Pisces can facilitate the formation of action, structures, alliances, friendships, and romances based upon the inner values and aesthetics of the Soul.

In the current transit of Venus through Pisces, we find Jupiter in Virgo, the sign of her Fall.  Venus in Virgo being in Fall does not portend disaster for all things Venus, only that Virgo is a place of significations which are not as supportive to the natural essentiality of Venus as Pisces. This goes with the idea that the rational, intellectual, analytical side of Virgo is not as supportive of Venusian expression of sensuality as is the watery, emotional, and heart-centered realm of Pisces.  Yet the Virgo ability to bridge body and mind in the moment holds resonance with the essence of Venus.  This capacity of Virgo for discernment in the moment is the place of focus to find how to utilize Jupiter’s journey in Virgo to support the passage of Venus through Pisces.  Grounding the inner knowing of Jupiter in the body, in the now, can help direct the pleasure principles of Venus toward what is most resonant for our Soul.

Current Transits

Venus will be in Pisces this time around from March 12 until April 5, 2016.  The transits Venus will make in this current pass are not easy or lighthearted, however, and instead portend challenging tests and trials to overcome.  At the same time, within these challenging aspects that Venus will form is also extraordinary potential for change and lifting oneself out of one’s previous circumstances into a regenerated reality.  This is not a time for the escapist shadow of Pisces but rather the heart of the sign which is incredibly strong, resilient, and able to persist through the darkest of times.

Venus ingresses into Pisces on March 12 and immediately enters into a first quarter square with Mars in Sagittarius.  As developed by Dane Rudhyar, first quarter squares signify a crisis in action and the need to build forms and structures to support the burgeoning new vision.  In the case of Mars and Venus, in 2015 we experienced three conjunctions before this current cycle officially commenced:  in February, in the end of August with Venus retrograde, and in the beginning of November.  Now at the first quarter square between Mars and Venus, we can reflect upon the shifting of our desires signified by Mars and Venus in this three part movement.

Currently Mars in Sagittarius could be causing a separation, and if so then Venus in Pisces is in position to heal and harmonize the resultant fracturing. Mars in the first decan of Sagittarius is overzealous and heedless, desiring to speed off in a new direction.  However, Mars is also now in range of its eventual retrograde station in April, and so the desires of Mars emerging now are also likely to shift.  By attuning within, Venus in Pisces can help guide us in making the choices that align with our most authentic Soul desires.

After Venus in Pisces completes her square with Mars on March 14, she begins to apply to a conjunction with Neptune that will culminate on March 20.  Neptune as the modern ruler of Pisces is interesting from the standpoint that Neptune is considered to be a higher octave of Venus in modern astrology, among other things signifying unconditional love.  Though this is a different concept than exaltation, it is an interesting further connection between Venus and Pisces.  The union of Venus with Neptune in Pisces is part of the build-up to the Lunar Eclipse in Libra on March 23, and this potent period in between eclipses we are passing through.  Mark Jones beautifully captured the higher octave relationship between Venus and Neptune in his book The Soul Speaks:

Our true nature, exposed by the brilliance of real love, is found to comprise numerous core elements, of which joy, dedication to truth, wisdom, infinite love and gratitude are key.  We realize then as these essential Soul states begin to unfold within us that the apparent loss that the ego projects onto the reality of the deep self is no real loss at all.  In fact, what arises in place of what we believed was our self is an all-embracing inclusive presence; we feel cared for so completely that all previous notions of what constituted contentment or satisfaction are found to be mere shadows in comparison.

— Mark Jones, The Soul Speaks, (p. 130)

Occurring simultaneously with the Libra Lunar Eclipse and the union of Venus and Neptune in Pisces is the exact last quarter square between Saturn in Sagittarius and Jupiter in Virgo.  This is the crisis in consciousness developed by Dane Rudhyar that signifies a crucial release of old attachments and beliefs in order to reorient toward the not fully formed developing vision.  Venus in Pisces will oppose Jupiter in Virgo and form a square to Saturn in Sagittarius on March 25, two days after the Lunar Eclipse.  There could be great pain and loss associated with the changes brought about by these simultaneous transits, a cherished inner dream that needs to be let go of.  However, we can also draw upon the healing potential of Venus in Pisces to reconcile and harmonize what has been torn apart and fractured in the associated changes.

The very next day after these exact aspects between Venus with Jupiter and Saturn, Venus in Pisces will form an exact sextile with Pluto in Capricorn on March 26.  If we can draw upon the inner discernment of Jupiter in Virgo and the capacity to structure vision of Saturn in Sagittarius, we can benefit from the sextile between Venus in Pisces and Pluto in Capricorn by restructuring the myriad elements of our life to harmonize with the changes occurring with our deeply felt inner desires.

At the end of March 2016, Venus in Pisces will also conjoin Chiron, as well as pass across the South Node of the Moon around the same time.  The higher potential of these transits can bring about a great healing to all of the wounding relationship patterns we have been living out from our past, going all the way back to childhood.  By going into our depths, exploring how our shadow has manifested in our process of becoming whole, we can gain golden insight into the underlying fabric of our Venusian patterns.  From now through the rest of March 2016, including within the current liminal portal between eclipses, Venus in Pisces brings an opportunity to become more aware of how our unconscious communicates with our conscious awareness.  As in the work of Carl Jung, we can explore and develop the relationship between unconscious contents and our consciousness, and the manner in which we project this inner relationship outward into our external relationships with the surrounding world.

References

Brennan, Chris. (2008).  The Questionable Origins of the Exaltations in Astrology.

Jones, Mark. (2015). The Soul Speaks. Raven Dreams Press.

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

moonrise

The Pond – Moonrise (1904) by Edward J. Steichen

Mercury retrograde is an inner alteration that comes to us three times a year, and our first of 2015 that begins on January 21, 2015 in Aquarius initiates a year of Mercury retrograde phases in each of the three Air signs of reflection, thoughts, and ideas.  Being afraid of Mercury retrograde is like being afraid of making a mistake, being afraid to go into the darkness of our inner realm and shadow work.  Mercury in myth is the psychopomp of Soul, the messenger who can bridge the underworld with the upper world, and guide us into our inner depths in order to help us shift our external presence and perspective.  Some of us have astrology charts that naturally resonate with Mercury retrograde times more than others, but the key is to open perception to the world of symbols, signs, omens, dreams, and what we can sense from our unconscious.  If things become disorienting or confusing, perceiving through intuition can help guide us more so than reaching for rational clarity.

Aquarius in astrology is a Fixed Air sign, and so the fluid Mercury in retrograde can help us shift some deep rooted and fixated patterns of habitual thought.  Modern astrologers look to Uranus as the ruler of Aquarius while classicists look to Saturn as the lord of the Water Bearer:  both Saturn and Uranus are at center stage now, with Uranus square Pluto and conjunct the South Node of the Moon, and Saturn freshly in Sagittarius and in square to Neptune and Mars in Pisces, as well as passing through a square with Venus during the upcoming Mercury retrograde. The sextile between Sagittarius holding Saturn and Aquarius holding Mercury retrograde unveils the potential of this Mercury retrograde to take us into the mystery of fundamental change and re-structuring of our thought process and its interplay with our expression.  Aquarius symbolizes the paradox of both conformity to an established tradition as well as complete rebellion against an established tradition, through the common purpose of breaking free from consensus conditioning.  Yet there is also the collective phenomenon that following ground breaking revolution a heavy hand of Saturn control is often re-asserted by a new power structure.  This Mercury retrograde will call us to re-examine our inter-personal relationships as well as systematic relationships, including the relationship between global, national, and local structural systems.

In the global collective, the World Economic Forum annual meeting (in ski resort Davos, Switzerland this year) commences on the day Mercury stations retrograde in Aquarius.  One issue that Aquarian activists hope will be addressed is global economic inequality, as a recent study by the charity Oxfam predicted based upon current trends that in 2016, 1% of the world’s population will own more wealth than the other 99%.  While this is a prediction that the richest 1% of the world will own more than 50% of global wealth in 2016, the Oxfam study published on January 19, 2015 revealed “that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the best-off 1% has increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014, while the least well-off 80% currently own just 5.5%.”  The inequity of wealth distribution will not be changing anytime soon, but during the retrograde cycle we can work on shifting patterns within that are connected to our relationship with wealth and how we define what it means to have wealth.  Is it simply a matter of having more money, or is it more about the quality of our life- in this way, what sort of quality do we want?

The day before Mercury stations retrograde is a New Moon at the very beginning of Aquarius, and two days before Mercury stations retrograde there is an opposition between Venus in Aquarius and Jupiter retrograde in Leo, and a conjunction and new cycle between Mars and Neptune in Pisces.  These are extremely fertile astrology aspects in which to root a Mercury retrograde phase in Aquarius, and suggest that our past values and visions will be challenged on a foundational level in order to test how much they truly align with what we can create and draw upon in our surrounding reality, as well as to what degree they nourish and catalyze us to consequently impact or inspire our community.  When Mercury stations retrograde, the Moon will be passing over Mercury in conjunction while the stationing Mercury opposes Jupiter retrograde in Leo:

MercuryRetroStationWRIGC7

Mercury and Venus have recently been glorious evening stars beautifying our twilight.  On January 14 when Mercury was at its maximum elongation, I savored a sojourn of staring at a bright Venus and Mercury aligned symmetrically in the shifting blue hues of sunset turning indigo toward the dark of night.  The recent companionship of Mercury and Venus in Aquarius has brought something into the awareness of each of us, and as Venus moves forward in the direction of Pisces while Mercury turns back to retrace Aquarian steps, there is something significant for each of us to realize.  Take the time to explore the Aquarius house of your birth chart, and any important planets or aspects you have with the first eighteen or so degrees of Aquarius to help you deepen your self-reflection.  With its stationing, Mercury will now descend from view at twilight as an evening star into our underworld, not to return again for us to view until it has stationed direct and moved forward again to become a morning star heralding our dawn.

Though Mercury and Venus were delightful to view in twilight together recently, their time together in Aquarius has most likely coincided with events that opened your emotions to sadness or pain in one way or another.  The point where Aquarian detachment can go awry is when we choose to be in denial of our sadness, distracting ourselves away from our pain to pretend like visualizing positive fantasies will take our troubles away.  It is necessary to deal with our sadness and grief by fully feeling our emotions, without denial and the distraction of coping strategies to construct an artifice of control.  Paramount at this Mercury stationing is Pluto in Capricorn exactly in square to the lunar nodes of the Moon, with Uranus in Aries conjunct the South Node of the Moon.  There is no escaping the dark night of the soul that can arise with this aspect:  if we attempt to escape from it or resist it, incoming events will reinforce the issue even more strongly than before. Yet this is the blessing of experiencing a Mercury retrograde, as Mercury is the messenger who can mediate with Pluto in our depths. While we may feel adrift, lost in a space of past attachments dissolving, remember Mercury is the trickster who facilitates our crossing of the borderline space in between significant transitions of our life.

Indeed, this Mercury retrograde is not something to complain about but instead seize for its potential to take us into the deep.  Aquarius brings a capacity to objectively analyze, and so this Mercury retrograde can be like our own inner Jungian analyst who can help us find the cause of our current issues through interpreting the symbolism of our daily experiences with dreams and other signs in our environment.  Insights will arise in the coming weeks especially if we refuse to numb or shelter ourselves from the issues and feelings demanding our attention.  This is a time period in which to take responsibility for our emotions and the way our behavior is impacting the emotions of those we are in relationship with.  With Pluto in Capricorn, this involves us having to face the countless examples of systematic oppression we encounter in our daily environment, as well as how on a personal level we can attempt to deal with our emotional vulnerabilities though seeking control of others in one way or another, or by giving our power away to others in order to have someone else take care of us.  Furthermore, with Mercury stationing opposite Black Moon Lilith and Jupiter retrograde in Leo, we may become triggered by interactions bringing up issues of past rejection, or fear that we will not be accepted or chosen for relationship due to a feeling of alienation.  Yet within the drama of our subjective inner world we can sense our personal truth struggling to find its voice, and by courageously expanding further into our essential nature we will initiate a retrograde phase that will lead us to become more authentically alive.

Relationships, our old patterns of relationship, and the new way of being we can now embody in our relationships is an overarching theme of this Mercury retrograde in Aquarius, in part because Mercury is stationing in trine to the North Node of the Moon in Libra and in sextile to the South Node of the Moon and Uranus in Aries.  Moreover, this Mercury retrograde cycle is taking us through the balsamic phase of Mars and Venus toward a new cycle of Mars and Venus that will begin on February 21, 2015 at two degrees of Aries.  This is the closing of a cycle between Mars and Venus that began on April 6, 2013 at 19°57′ of Aries.  Think back to this time period of April in 2013 and what relationships entered your life, or what was shifting in relation to external connections with others in your life.  Everything that has transpired in our relationships in these past two years, that has happened in connection with our passions, desires, and inner values, is now at a time of clearing in order to let go and release with finality what is no longer serving us and to re-seed what is in accord with our new vision for the relationships of our present and future.

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Black in Deep Red (1957) by Mark Rothko

On April 6, 2013 we entered a new cycle between Mars and Venus, and since then we have gone through a Venus retrograde in Capricorn as well as a Mars retrograde in Libra while experiencing the sequence of squares between Pluto and Uranus.  In 2015 three times will be the charm with the new cycle between Mars and Venus, as we will experience three conjunctions between them before they finally settle into their new cycle. After Venus and Mars conjunct at two degrees of Aries on February 21, Venus will move forward and get beyond a semi-sextile aspect with Mars before stationing retrograde at the beginning of Virgo to move back into Leo and reunite with Mars again on August 31, 2015 at fifteen degrees of Leo.  After Venus stations direct in Leo, it will move forward again and catch up with Mars for a final conjunction and initiation of the new Mars and Venus cycle on November 2, 2015 at twenty-five degrees of Virgo.  As a result, while we will experience a new initiation and rebirth in our relationships following this Mercury retrograde, we still have a lot more to work out between Mars and Venus during this year before we finally settle into our new relationship dynamic.  With the final conjunction occurring in Virgo, there seems to be a Mercurial aspect to the incoming Mars and Venus cycle, as the three conjunctions this year will also be preceded by the three Mercury retrograde phases in each of the Air signs.

Venus begins this Mercury retrograde opposite Jupiter, then ingresses into Pisces and forward into a square with Saturn and conjunction with both Neptune and Chiron, while Mars is initiating a new cycle with Neptune at Mercury’s stationing to move forward in the direction of Chiron.  By the time Mercury stations direct, Venus and Mars will be in a balsamic conjunction in Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac and a fitting place for Mars and Venus to release their previous cycle.  While Venus is in Aquarius during the first week of the Mercury retrograde, we may have a greater capacity for detached analysis of the inner values we have gained from conforming to an external source, whether that be from the consensus culture or from a subculture rebelling against consensus values we gravitated toward out of a sense of disenchantment or frustration with the status quo.  During this time of Venus moving through the final decan of Aquarius we can sense the values we have been living from that do not truly resonate with our unique individuality, and we may perceive intimations of how we can begin to actualize a more authentic value system.  With Mercury being retrograde, mixed into this process may be perceptions from a new perspective along with rumination into memories of previous relationships and the values we took on through old relationships.

Venus in Aquarius can detach to prevent us from becoming overcome by our emotions, while Venus in Pisces is more likely to merge into our inner feelings as well as with others. Leading up to the inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun, Venus will ingress into Pisces and will have entered into a first quarter square with Saturn in Sagittarius and a balsamic conjunction with Neptune when the angelic messenger unites with our Sun:

Mercury-SunconjunctionWRIGC8

The inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun is ideal for intention setting if you can be alert to its timing.  This is a moment of conception that can signal a shift in our state of mind similar to a new moon.  Look to where 10°20′ of Aquarius is in your astrology chart by house and aspect to analyze how this impacts you specifically.  In connection with the theme of relationships, it is fascinating that the inferior conjunction of Mercury is opposite Juno retrograde in Leo.  Our passionate Juno side that can have the drive of a lioness in pursuit of creative desires has an opportunity here to integrate into our presence in community and bring a more heart-centered focus to the oftentimes cool and detached Aquarian mindset.  It could also signal a time to break from a current relationship drama in order to re-center, like Juno re-sourcing herself in her sacred bath.

The relationship theme is further emphasized by Venus being balsamic conjunct Neptune in Pisces, and in square to Saturn in Sagittarius, with Mars balsamic conjunct to Chiron in Pisces.  The Venus-Neptune and Mars-Chiron cycles ending now to begin again both go back to early 2013, when Mars and Chiron began the current cycle in Pisces in February and Venus and Neptune began their current cycle in Pisces at the beginning of March (Mercury was also retrograde in Pisces when Venus and Neptune were last conjunct).  The first quarter square from Pisces Venus to Sagittarius Saturn is coming off their conjunction in mid-November 2014 in Scorpio.  All of these aspects coinciding with Mercury’s inferior conjunction point toward illumination concerning the ideals we hold in our relationships versus the actual reality of our relationships.  The more we accept ourselves for who we actually are and not the ideal persona we want to create about ourselves, the less likely we are to project our ideals on a relationship that ultimately leads us to disillusionment because we are not taking care of our own work.  The more we live with integrity in line with our deeply felt values, the more likely we are to magnetize relationships that are aligned with our ideal path, and this inferior conjunction of Mercury is a moment to set such an intention.

There is also a paradoxical potential to these aspects that could align with great wounding as well as groundbreaking strides toward a cherished vision.  Mars aligning with Chiron could take us deeply into our wounds, and Saturn can have a very heavy hand with a Venus wanting to drift away in a Piscean illusion, all the more so with Uranus closely conjunct the South Node of the Moon and in square to Pluto at the inferior conjunction.  Uranus has to do with unexpected shattering which can be both liberating as well as traumatic, but in any event has to do with some sort of large energetic shift arriving unannounced.  Chiron is a mediator between Uranus and Saturn, and so these same aspects point to an opportunity for us to re-direct incoming energy into our work and relationships with our surrounding environment.  Chiron is a courageous and wise archetype for Mars to re-formulate our sense of will around at this time of the inferior conjunction, and we can work with him better if we bravely step into a mediating role between conflicts, be present for healing in our interactions, and if necessary make a sacrifice not out of a sense of masochism or victimization but out of authentic desire to purely serve.

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Moon Woman (1942) by Jackson Pollock

As we move away from the inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun toward the period of Mercury stationing direct, Venus gets closer each day to Mars in Pisces making the clearing of previous relationship patterns deeper.  This is a great couple of weeks to claim as a severing of what no longer serves us in our previous patterns of relating to others as well as our self.  Yet clearing does not mean clean cut or simply cut off, but rather this letting go could become a messy affair, a spiral-like process that brings up deeply felt emotions from old relationships we had tucked away, or feelings about a current partnership we had been ignoring or distracting ourselves from.  Pisces is a compassionate place for this release to take place, and drawing on the Piscean ideals of compassion and acceptance with ourselves and in our interactions will help us let go of old wounds and patterns we will soon realize we had been sorely needing to release.  We will also get another opportunity for relationship clearing later this year since Mars and Venus conjunct two more times before settling in for good into their new cycle, but Mars and Venus will not be in Pisces at that time.

Between Mercury’s conjunction with the Sun and Mercury stationing direct, Ceres in Capricorn also enters a balsamic clearing with Pluto in Capricorn, evoking a strong Dark Moon aspect between these rivals of myth.  In addition to it’s themes of nurturance and attachment, Ceres can show us where crisis has led us to attempt to cope through vengeful anger or the taking of control, and how through surrendering to acceptance as well as through taking assertive mediation we can reclaim our personal authority and ability to be productive.  This conjunction in Capricorn brings up both the oppressive nature of the power structure as well as our capacity to claim the authority to take action within the system to bring perpetrators of wrongdoing to justice.  In the myth, Ceres ultimately stands up for herself and forces Jupiter to make a deal with her, thereby sending Mercury into the underworld to retrieve her beloved daughter Proserpina, or Persephone.  In synchronicity with the Northern Hemisphere experience of this Mercury retrograde occurring in deep Winter, with an upcoming Solar Eclipse occurring at the Spring Equinox, this Mercury retrograde descent to the underworld has resonance with the reclaiming of a beloved to reappear in the coming rebirth of Spring.  Ceres combining with Pluto in Capricorn now suggests that instead of attempting to tear down the entire power structure, instead look to where there are aspects of the system to connect with and use to promote your personal truth.

In the Homeric hymnal version of the Demeter and Persephone myth, the Moon Goddess Hekate directs Demeter to seek counsel with Helios, the Sun God and seer, who gives Demeter the knowledge that Hades took Persephone to the underworld under the blessings of Zeus.  Similarly we will be able to receive our own lunar divination around February 3, 2015 when there will be a Full Moon in Leo at the time of the cross-quarter holy day of Imbolc.  The Full Moon will be conjunct Juno and Jupiter in Leo, in between them, with both Juno and Jupiter retrograde, once again highlighting the theme of relationships.  In line with the balsamic relationship between Mars and Venus in Pisces co-occurring at the same time, this Full Moon will bring up a significant relational issue for us to integrate when Mercury stations direct at the beginning of Aquarius in the following week:

MercuryDirectStationWRIGC9

Mercury stations direct near the same degree of the New Moon of January 20, 2015 bridging the intentions we set at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde with it’s completion.  Mercury will station in conjunction with Vesta in Aquarius, bringing added focus, centeredness, and commitment to this stationing direct.  Vesta combined with Mercury in Aquarius could find us feeling somewhat alienated from others as we process and integrate the inner shifting that came during the retrograde phase of Mercury, and we may need to take some time for solace in solitude.  Ceres closely combined with Pluto in Capricorn in square to the lunar nodes and Uranus, with Venus conjunct Chiron in a balsamic conjunction with Mars may give us further cause for taking a break from busyness to re-center and re-intergrate.  Some of us may not be so lucky to get away from others and our daily work while Mercury is stationing, and so the focused energy of Vesta combined with Mercury will help us fulfill professional responsibilities and remain dedicated toward completing the responsibilities associated with the goals we are working toward.

“I have this strange feeling that I’m not myself anymore. It’s hard to put into words, but I guess it’s like I was fast asleep, and someone came, disassembled me, and hurriedly put me back together again. That sort of feeling.”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

Mercury stationing direct heralds the fleet footed messenger’s return as a Morning Star welcoming our Sunrise.  While Mercury as an Evening Star is associated with the cool, reflective hindsight of Epimetheus, Mercury as a Morning Star is associated with Prometheus and a more fiery foresight that operates best consciously in daylight hours.  The Messenger at this stage is curious, inquisitive, and eager for a new adventure with a mind ready to race ahead toward the future horizon. The ability of Mercury at this time to help us re-focus on our goals in line with the changes unfolding in our life will be a great benefit, as there is plenty ahead to keep Mercury busy as in March we will experience Saturn in Sagittarius stationing retrograde, the seventh and final square between Pluto and Uranus, and a Solar Eclipse at the final degree of Pisces.

References

Demetra George:  Hermes Guardian of Thresholds

Cardinal Eclipse and Cross

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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.

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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.

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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.

Giulio Bonasone Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto

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.

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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 (1875-1888)

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.