Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

Light in Heavy (1929) by Wassily Kandinsky

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius

Every person is a half-open door
leading to a room for everyone.

— from “The Half-Finished Heaven” by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robert Bly

Mercury is a friend to humanity, albeit a tricky guide who enjoys sleight of hand and cunning words that catch us off guard. In astrology, when Mercury pauses in motion to change direction it’s necessary to be mindful with focused curiosity that can intuit the emerging issues that need our attention. The airy terrain of Aquarius will provide contrasting wind currents for Mercury to ride, sometimes forcing us in certain directions out of necessity, at other times opening an expansive vision that simultaneously draws from our well of memory while seeing new pathways to follow into the future.

Mercury is the most changeable planet, and when stationing retrograde shifts from its fleet footed pace when direct into intensifying stillness that calls for introspection. As Mercury begins its slow, churning backward motion it pulls us into a quality of time aligned with dissolution, purification, and regeneration. Rather than insisting on controlling outcomes to push forward, we need to surrender to the changes in storylines and meaning delivered by Mercury when retrograde. Although we may at times become disoriented by destabilizing dynamics, if we listen closely we will hear the guidance we need from Hermes and discover a gleaming gem of realization left where only we may find it.

Following the stationing of Mercury on January 30 at 26°29’ Aquarius, the star of Hermes will spend twenty-two days backtracking through the sign of the Water Bearer until stationing direct at 11°01’ Aquarius on February 20. As Mercury retraces the zodiacal terrain from eleven to twenty-seven degrees of Aquarius, it will excavate material that we need to deepen our engagement with, returning our perception to issues we need to release, rework, or reintegrate. After passing through a phase of putrefaction and purification, we may gain a rejuvenated presence and felt sense of renewal on the other side. Mercury first crossed 11°01’ Aquarius on January 15 and will not move beyond 26°29’ Aquarius until March 12, creating two months of mercurial focus in this range of your natal chart. 

In addition to changing speed and direction while retrograde, Mercury also transitions from being visible as an evening star in twilight into an invisible phase during which it comes closest to us in orbit and amplifies its impact in our life. In between the descent of Mercury into darkness and its eventual re-emergence into light as a morning star heralding sunrise, Mercury’s underworld journey demarcates a threshold we must cross into our own liminal passage of descent and internal processing. While we always need to attune and adjust to changes emerging from internal and external sources during the three weeks Mercury is retrograde, the period of Mercury retrograde in Aquarius in 2021 will be taking place during a collective time of immeasurably immense transition and liminality in global events.

During Mercury’s retrograde movement the Sun, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn will all be gathered together with Mercury in Aquarius like a grouping of clouds whose shaping and reshaping brings new realizations of our past and new inspiration for our way forward. We are still coming to terms collectively with the systemic shifts emanating from the great conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius, with disruption and volatility continuing to increase in correlation with the first exact square aspect formed between Saturn in Aquarius and Uranus in Taurus on February 17. Since Aquarius is a zodiacal sign that connects the known with the unknown, as Mercury moves back to reconnect with Jupiter and Saturn we will be given the opportunity to realign and recalibrate with the rapidly developing movements, accelerated growth, and sudden collapses within societal systems that have been taking place. 

Explorador Piloto (1960) by Remedios Varo

Through a backdoor in the landscape
the magpie arrives,
black and white, bird of the death-goddess.
A blackbird flies back and forth
until the whole scene becomes a charcoal drawing,
except for the white clothes on the line:
a Palestrina choir.

The whole universe is full!

— from “Morning Bird Songs” by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robert Bly

The significance of Mercury, Venus, the Sun, and Jupiter all joining Saturn in its home of Aquarius cannot be overstated. Since this great gathering of wandering stars in Aquarius will also be forming a sign-based square aspect with Mars and Uranus in Taurus, we can expect it to be an especially disruptive and unstable period of Mercury retrograde. Especially during the first two weeks when Mars and Mercury will be more intensely engaged in a square aspect, we will need to navigate the stereotypical breakdowns in technology and communication emphasized in popular astrology. Yet due to Saturn being rooted in its airy home of Aquarius the entire time,  we will be able to lean on the endurance, slowly pondering analysis, and special skills in deconstruction and reconstruction possessed by the ringed star of Cronus. 

It’s further notable that Mercury is the nocturnal ruler of air signs and shares an affinity with the air element in being mobile, flexible, versatile, and facile in communication. The slow, intensified nature of Mercury when retrograde can be excellent for in-depth research, and so it can be a fruitful time for poring over reading material or penetrating deeper into learning within fields of interest. The flexibility of consciousness that Mercury brings to the potent contemplation of Saturn in Aquarius will also be beneficial in critically examining media sources as well as separating true revelation from false conspiracy on social media and elsewhere. In particular, it will be a powerful time for shedding outdated mental frameworks and thought patterns that no longer align with the changing wind of the time.

The fixed nature of Aquarius means that the changes brought into our life through the deluge of planets in Aquarius may slowly take shape in some cases but will create long lasting impact. Since Aquarius is a human sign connected with the relationship between humans with one another in our vast network of intersecting societal constructions, humanitarian concerns will take precedence. The numerous crises impacting people around the world in relation to the global pandemic as well as the collapse of formerly reliable structures means that it’s simply going to take a long time to find the needed solutions and work through the difficulties involved in reform and repair. Bring patience and willingness to persist in problem solving into the passage of Mercury retrograde, and by the end of it you will likely find new insights to apply to issues and new pathways to follow forward. 

As we continue to orient with the new era of air initiated by the recent conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn, we can utilize the three weeks of Mercury retrograde to notice synchronicities and discover revelations in connection with all forms of air symbolism. One realm will be in the use of language itself, rethinking how we use language to communicate. With the tension from Mars and Uranus to the gathering of Aquarius planets there will continue to be cultural battles over the use of language and the ways we tell our collective stories of humanity, with escalating conflict swirling like whirlwinds. In verbal conflicts of any sort, the mediation offered by Mercury retrograde is to pause, slow down, and rethink your perspective, finding ways to de-escalate discord so that a bridge between view points can be made.

Within our personal relationships, we will also have opportunities for uncovering ways to more directly express the heart of the matter through our choice in words. As the living symbolism of Aquarius involves how humans draw from sources of spirit within earthly matters, one constant intersection is in how we express the flight of our thoughts through language. As Dr. Mervat Nasser wrote in Hermopolis, “the Egyptian alphabet took the shape of birds that were seen as capable of flying high into the sky to mediate between the knowledge of heaven and earth, between god and humanity.” 

We may also gain insight through the appearance of airy omens and signs, whether they appear through images soaring through our mind when asleep or through the flight patterns of birds within our waking time in nature. Just like Owen Barfield emphasized in Saving the Appearances, rather than forming an “I-it” relationship with nature in which we desire to observe the beautiful flight of birds separate from ourselves, we can instead seek to learn what we can understand about ourselves from the sudden appearance of a Blue Heron or Peregrine Falcon along our path. There is a depth of symbolic insight accessible when Mercury is retrograde that can be more nonlinear and intuitive than linearly logical.

When possible it will be worthwhile to spend time with the muses of your creativity while Mercury is retrograde, as the gathering of planets in Aquarius making creative tension with Mars and Uranus can lead to breakthrough ideas and important brainstorms that dislodge you from a formerly stuck position. In myth the Muses were known as the daughters of Mnemosyne (memory) and Zeus (creative divine mind), and so with Jupiter and Venus both present in Aquarius with Mercury we may draw from streams of memories in the creation of new expressions and thought forms. According to Tim Addey, who drew upon the work of Plato in his book The Seven Myths of the Soul, engaging in arts and sciences requires both creative thought and “the memory of our pre-terrestial vision of the celestial realm.” To Addey, this creative process can put us in touch with a sense of morality drawn down from the spirit of stars above, a rather Aquarian process as ethics are an important ideal for Aquarius:

“The theory of reminiscence is Plato’s explanation of why we as human beings are able to recognize abstract, universal and spiritual truths, such as justice, beauty, and goodness: it is because the soul once possessed this knowledge..but forgotten when she descended into the world of matter; the soul’s activities in arts and sciences helps her remember it.”  – Tim Addey, The Seven Myths of the Soul

odilon redon pilgrim from a sublunar world

Pilgrim from a Sublunar World (1891) by Odilon Redon

. . . Oh, but just beyond that,
behind the last of the billboards, plastered with signs for “Deathless,”
that bitter beer which tastes sweet to those drinking it
as long as they have fresh distractions to chew . . . ,
just beyond those boards, just on the other side: things are real.
Children play, lovers hold each other, off in the shadows,
pensive, on the meager grass, while dogs obey nature.
The youth is drawn farther on; perhaps he’s fallen in love
with a young Lament . . . . . He pursues her, enters meadowland. She says:
“It’s a long way. We live out there . . .”

— Rainer Maria Rilke, from the Tenth Elegy of Duino Elegies translated by Edward Snow

Venus and Mercury will both be entering the underworld together within the first few days of Mercury being retrograde, meaning that both the Mercury and Venus aspects of our life will begin to enter a phase of putrefaction and decomposition. However, while Mercury will be stationing retrograde to descend from visibility as an evening star in the west at sunset, Venus will be disappearing from view as a morning star in the east at sunrise; while Mercury will be moving slowly through the zodiac backwards in between our orbit with the Sun, Venus will be moving fast and direct on the other side of the Sun from us in orbit.

Soon after disappearing under the beams of the Sun, Venus will run straight into the unsettling square aspect being formed between Saturn and Uranus. On February 5 there will be a conjunction of Venus with Saturn in Aquarius followed by square between Venus and Uranus in Taurus on February 6. As a result, the increasingly purgative phase of Mercury being retrograde that leads up to its union with the Sun on February 8 will also involve a cathartic process of Venus setting off the friction building between Saturn and Uranus. Just as Mercury will be increasingly burning off material built up from its last union with the Sun on December 19, so will Mercury also help us shed and release aspects of the issues being volatilized by Venus engaging with Saturn and Uranus. 

To dig deeper into the meaning of the aspects we need to remember that Venus will be in the home of Saturn when they unite on February 5, followed by Venus having a catalyzing encounter with Uranus who will be in the earthy home of Venus. While potentially disruptive there is also more potential for integration due to astrological reception being involved in the aspect sequence. The union of Saturn with Venus can bring a sobering view of reality, coming into contact with the confines of our circumstantial context. Yet the airy nature of Aquarius can help move with the emancipatory impulse from Uranus that can push desires to break free from present restrictions.

Fundamentally, the sequence of Venus moving from Saturn into Uranus combined with Mercury undergoing its own regenerative process of purification will create opportunities to deepen into the ways in which our values are being reshaped and reforged during a period of great collective transition. If we have been unconsciously letting go of old ideals and desires, as Mercury approaches its union with the Sun on February 8 we can begin discovering ways to embody the ways in which our values are undergoing a process of renewal and rejuvenation. Yet before full embodiment will be possible, we will need to come into greater clarity and realization of the ways in which our known understanding is transfiguring into unknown, emerging potential.

Across time the myth of Prometheus has been increasingly connected to the meaning of Uranus in astrology, perhaps most notably by Rick Tarnas. Within the Uranian themes of emancipation, innovation, invention, and rebellious individuality in the story of Prometheus, there are also lessons centered around the hubris of humanity. When we are struck by Uranus in astrology, we may ask ourselves what we have been creating with the divine gift of fire, what we most wish to bring to civilization, and what we most wish to awaken in ourselves and others. Just as Prometheus knowingly sacrificed his boundless nature to be chained to an earthly rock as punishment for delivering the gift of fire to humanity, so do we need to find ways to ground the searing visions of Uranus into our material forms with awareness of its repercussions across our world.  As Tim Addey in The Seven Myths of the Soul wrote, “The mystic’s initiation into the mysteries of Prometheus is the voluntary acceptance of the limitations of matter, not its rejection.”

Whatever innovative ideas, clarifying insights, and new desires are gathered by Venus moving across Saturn and Uranus will be brought into the conjunction that will form between Venus and Jupiter in Aquarius on February 11, the same day as the New Moon in Aquarius. While this will be a period in which to come into deeper contact with the new visions gestating within, we will first experience the reanimation of Mercury with the Sun on February 8.

Vision by Odilon Redon

Vision (1895/97) by Odilon Redon

Task: to be where I am.
Even when I’m in this solemn and absurd
role: I am still the place
where creation works on itself.

Dawn comes, the sparse tree trunks
take on color now, the frostbitten
forest flowers form a silent search party
after something that has disappeared in the dark.

But to be where I am . . . and to wait.
I am full of anxiety, obstinate, confused.
Things not yet happened are already here!
I feel that. They’re just out there:

a murmuring mass outside the barrier.
They can only slip in one by one.
They want to slip in. Why? They do
one by one. I am the turnstile.

— from “Guard Duty” by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robert Bly

Chthonic Cazimi

Mercury will become reanimated by its conjunction with the Sun on February 8 at 20°01′ Aquarius. The reseeding of Mercury in solar light occurs as it aligns in between the Earth and Sun by zodiacal degree, as close to us in orbit as possible for Mercury within its cycle. Known as the inferior conjunction of Mercury, it’s a moment of clarifying rebirth that can enhance realization and seed new ideas for the Mercury cycle ahead. While Mercury is within one degree of conjunction with the Sun, even more so within sixteen arc minutes of its solar conjunction, there can be empowerment for tasks associated with Mercury since it is enthroned upon the solar chariot. Older astrological texts named this moment of Mercury’s rebirth cazimi, or being in the heart of the Sun. It’s the cyclical moment when Mercury enters what Demetra George has named the “sanctum sanctorum,” or “the innermost holy chamber of the mystery initiations” found within “the protected space at the heart of the Sun.” 

Guarding the entrance of Mercury into the heart of the Sun will be Pallas Athene, whose asteroid will unite with Mercury on February 7 and will be at 20°51′ Aquarius when Mercury unites with the Sun at 20°01′ Aquarius on February 8. The union of Pallas Athene with Mercury is the second in a three part sequence: Mercury formed its first conjunction with Pallas Athene on January 16 at 13°05′ Aquarius, and will form its third and final conjunction with Pallas Athene on March 18 at 3°25′ Pisces. With her glaring gray-eyes that penetrate with far reaching vision, Pallas Athene will be present with her sharpened spear, slithering snake, and protective aegis to foster the courage of a burning heart that can pierce through previous blockages to enliven a fuller sense of our potential.

A goddess of arts and crafts, prophecy, and warfare, Walter Burkett noted in Greek Religion that what unites Pallas Athene’s “divergent spheres of competence is not an elemental force, but the force of civilization: the just division of roles” among the populace as well as “the organizational wisdom which achieves this.” Burkert further noted that “more than any other deity Athena is always near her protégés,” declaring that “wherever difficulties disappear and the impossible becomes possible, Athena is at hand.”  In astrology, Demetra George has described Pallas Athene in Aquarius as representing “futuristic perception ” that creates “forms that will benefit generations to come,” as well as artists and others “on the forefront of the future, translating the tone of what is coming  in for the masses.” While the issues in need of addressing across society seem impossibly large, the presence of Pallas Athene with the inferior conjunction of Mercury is a sign of significant progress being possible in terms of reorganizing structures, roles, and responsibilities within societal and personal systems of all sorts.

The union of Pallas Athene with Mercury will precede the movement of Mercury from the heart of the Sun into a discordant square aspect with Mars in Taurus. Mercury will form its exact square aspect with Mars on February 10 during a dark Moon in Aquarius that will be moving through a sequence of conjunctions with Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury as it draws its lunar cycle to a close, intensifying our feelings of transitioning in between what has been and what will be. The disruptive influence of Mars in Taurus upon the inferior conjunction of Mercury will be modulated by Pallas Athene, amplifying the penetrative visioning available as well as the inspiration for activism on behalf of social justice concerns from groups who have been marginalized in one way or another by the cultures in power.

If you experience any significant breakdowns, conflicts, or obstacles as Mars and Mercury clash, keep in mind that as soon as Mercury begins to separate from Mars it will begin applying toward a beneficial and restorative conjunction between Jupiter and Venus in Aquarius. There may be a need to come to stark terms with what isn’t working in the middle of February, but there will be celestial support available to diagnose solutions and ultimately begin moving forward again from a more solid foundation. 

The Buddha (1895) by Odilon Redon

The airy sky has taken its place leaning against the wall.
It is like a prayer to what is empty.
And what is empty turns its face to us
and whispers
“I am not empty, I am open.”

— from “Vermeer” by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Robert Bly

A few days after the inferior conjunction of Mercury, there will be an extremely potent New Moon in Aquarius on February 11 at 23°17’ Aquarius that will involve a conjunction between Venus and Jupiter in Aquarius as well as all of the seven traditional planets and lights occupying Aquarius except for Mars. Following the New Moon in Aquarius, Mercury will form a conjunction with Venus in Aquarius on February 13 followed by a conjunction with Jupiter in Aquarius on February 14. These days following the Aquarius New Moon can be extremely fertile for creativity and coalescing greater clarity regarding the path we need to follow into the year ahead. The more we can strip away the inessential and what is ready to be shed from our life in the period leading up to these days, the more space we will have to welcome exciting new developments. 

As Mercury begins slowing down to station direct on February 20, it will become visible again in the darkness before dawn around February 16. There will be a burst of new movements and ideas for future plans at this time, as the reappearance of Mercury as a morning star to deliver a vital message will be combined with the fact that both Saturn and Jupiter will have also renewed their own visible cycles as morning stars in the days before Mercury. Yet we will have to navigate an extremely turbulent atmosphere while integrating new visions due to the first exact square aspect between Saturn and Uranus taking place on February 17. There will be rupturing in collective events creating division while sudden shifts and movements continue to reorder and rearrange systemic structures and alliances between societal structures and groups.

Some of the ways Mercury may assist in ferrying us across the volatile middle of February involves Mercury being within its own decan of ten to twenty degrees of Aquarius. Mercury will possess both decan as well as triplicity dignity as it slows down to station, giving it added potency in helping us forge links of support with relationships and resources that can help us handle being at a threshold in-between the way it’s been and the way of what’s to come. Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces ascribed the image of “Heaven and Earth” to the second face of Aquarius, noting that the “principled but fierce wisdom” found in this face “stabilizes commerce between heaven and earth” while also allowing for “the connection of the orthodox and the unorthodox, the known and the unknown,” as well as “the ideal and the practical.” 

Further adding to the instability and creative tension of the days surrounding Mercury stationing direct, Venus in Aquarius will form a catalyzing square aspect with Mars in Taurus on February 19. The waning square between Venus with Mars will necessitate adjustment and reorientation within our relational dynamics in accordance with whatever larger collective changes are taking place as well as whatever kind of internal shifting in values and needs we have been experiencing. As Mercury will be stationing direct at the same time, make the time and space needed to gather a deeper sense of how your life and desires have been reshaped. After Venus forms its square with Mars it will form a conjunction with Pallas Athene in Aquarius on February 21, helping us formulate strategies to handle any difficulties that were set off by Mars as well as gain a stronger sense of  ways we need to alter plans and goals for the future in light of however our inner values have been shifting. 

As a result of numerous destabilizing astrological aspects occurring simultaneously, it will be important to be as mindful as possible in the days surrounding the stationing direct of Mercury on February 20 at 11°01’ Aquarius. Mercury will station close to the midpoint between Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius, giving us an opportunity to deepen in our understanding of how our life has been altered in correspondence with the great conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn that arrived at the end of 2020. Mercury will next slowly begin moving forward again as it applies toward a conjunction with Jupiter that it will not complete until March 4. As a result, we will have a couple of weeks following the stationing direct of Mercury to benefit from the star of Hermes applying toward a conjunction with Jupiter in Aquarius. Utilize this period for pushing forward with goals and generating forward momentum toward whatever ways your purpose in life has undergone a metamorphosis.

Mercury will reach its maximum elongation as a morning star and begin speeding up on March 6. The maximum elongation of Mercury demarcates the point in which Mercury will have picked up enough speed to match the steady course of the Sun again. From this day forward, Mercury will move increasingly faster as it proceeds through its morning star phase. Gary Caton described this solar phase of Mercury as being similar to the rubedo phase within alchemy in his book Hermetica Tryptycha. As we work to integrate the insights and changes in perspective realized during Mercury’s retrograde journey, Caton noted that we should expect to endure a phase of chaotic volatility as we make a commitment to embody a new presence of being.

In all, the period of Mercury retrograde in Aquarius promises to be full of ups and downs as we move through an unstable stretch of time. Although the collective changes that will be developing may feel unsettling, we could not ask for a better guide through the volatility than Hermes. Give praise to Mercury and welcome his wild wisdom into your life, as you need to allow for all of his tricks in order to receive all of his gifts. Be on the constant lookout for the windfalls of fruitful fortune that Mercury may deliver unexpectedly, while making the time to formulate long-term strategies to achieve the goals and larger visions that have been consolidating in your mind. By the time Mercury is heading direct again at the end of February, you may feel renewed with a rejuvenated excitement about what you can create and bring into form in the year ahead.

Mercury Riding Pegasus, Jardin des Tuileries, Paris

If you enjoy my writing please consider supporting my work through a monthly subscription on my Patreon page. My intention with Patreon is to receive enough support to not only help me continue to offer the articles I have been doing for free, but to also expand the scope of what I am offering. Take a look to see the benefits you will receive as a patron.

become_a_patron_button

References

Addey, Tim. (2000). The Seven Myths of the Soul. The Prometheus Trust.

Barfield, Owen. (1988). Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry. Second Edition. Wesleyan University Press.

Burkert, Walter. (1985). Greek Religion. Harvard University Press. 

Caton, Gary. (2017). Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year. Rubedo Press.

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

George, Demetra. (2019). Ancient Astrology in Theory and Practice: a Manual of Traditional Techniques. Rubedo Press.

George, Demetra. (1986). Asteroid Goddesses. With Douglas Bloch. ACS.

Nasser, Mervat. (2019). The Path to the New Hermopolis: The History, Philosophy, & Future of the City of Hermes. Rubedo Press. 

Full Moon in Pisces

the great impossible

The Great Impossible (1961) by Kay Sage

O you tender ones, step now and then
into the breath that takes no heed of you:
it will part as it brushes your cheeks
and then tremble behind you, united again.

O you who are blissful, you who are whole,
you who seem the beginnings of hearts.
Bows for arrows and arrows’ aim, through tears
your smile will glow more eternal.

Don’t be afraid to suffer- take your heaviness
and give it back to the earth’s own weight;
the mountains are heavy, the oceans are heavy.

Even the trees you planted as children
have long grown too heavy; you couldn’t bear them.
But the breezes . . . and the spaces . . .

— Rainer Maria Rilke from Sonnets to Orpheus

Full Moon in Pisces

Some years are more pivotal to the course of history than others, some periods of time so fertile with potential that the reverberations of choices and actions create a more far reaching impact than others. Astrologers predicted in advance that this would likely be such a year due to the epochal symphony emanating from the astrology of 2020, and the trajectory of world events that have unfolded have left no doubt that this is the case. The Pisces Full Moon will unleash a flood of feelings related to how we are situated within the currents of collective change and upheaval, how well we are following our path and purpose, and to what degree we are claiming the role and place through which we may serve others through the cultivation and sharing of skills and resources. 

The Pisces Full Moon on 1 September 2020 is applying tightly toward a stimulating sextile aspect with Uranus in Taurus, while it is also being received by a harmonizing sextile aspect by its ruler, Jupiter in Capricorn. The Full Moon is also heading toward a conjunction with Neptune in Pisces that it will form on September 2 after completing its sextile with Jupiter. The silvery light of the Pisces Moon will beam forth from the Virgo Sun like the Hermit’s lantern, seeping into the underbelly of our overarching plans and visions. Pay attention if you are guided to change course or make modifications to your goals, but also allow the watery inspiration of the lunation to reveal the resources and support you have within reach that have been previously unseen or unrecognized. 

There is also a supportive, mutual reception between the Full Moon and Venus, as the Full Moon is in the exaltation and bounds of Venus and is heading toward a flowing trine aspect with Venus, while Venus is in the watery home of the Moon. Yet the pleasurable reception between the Moon and Venus must be tempered by the ponderousness of Saturn, as Venus is applying to an exact opposition with Saturn in Capricorn. Venus is taking us into the chthonic roots of the alignment between Saturn and Pluto, as Venus is separating from an opposition with Pluto as it faces off with Saturn. What we desire and wish to create must be set against the titanic clashes across civilizations and dismantling of societal structures that have intensified during the past year of Saturn and Pluto ending and beginning a new cycle together.

Allow whatever challenges, limitations or constraints you feel to hone your purpose, shedding or laying to rest the parts that have met a wall of resistance with no place to go. The contraction brought by Saturn has its own kind of fertility that requires patience, endurance, and openness to the mystery of the unknown at work. Venus in Cancer will most effectively meet Saturn from a place of inner security that can enact healthy boundaries capable of fluidly adapting to what is necessary while remaining grounded in the values aligned with your purpose. It’s not a time for saying yes to every opportunity, but rather having discernment regarding how to most effectively utilize your available time and space.

Amplifying the creative tension of the Pisces Full Moon, Venus will subsequently form a catalyzing square aspect with Mars in Aries a few days after the lunation on September 4. The waxing square between Venus and Mars will correlate with friction between our relationship dynamics and our desires to freely pursue our goals. This phase between Venus and Mars is about establishing the new direction in our relationships that began when Venus and Mars initiated their current cycle a year ago on August 24, 2019. At this stage we can feel anger when facing limitations especially when they reflect the same old issues that have led to suffering or heartbreak in the past. There is a need to hold the tension of courageously standing up for our authentic values while mediating relationships that may or may not align with our values to varying degrees. It can also be an opportune time to collaborate with those aligned with our values as well as forming new alliances and friendships with those who share our purpose. 

The waxing square formed by Venus with Mars is especially significant due to it being the final installment of three waxing square aspects that Venus has formed with Mars in 2020. Venus  first formed a square aspect with Mars on 26 January 2020, with Venus at 16º02′ Pisces and Mars in Sagittarius. Next, Venus formed its second square aspect with Mars on 2 June 2020, with Venus retrograde in Gemini at 14º02′ and Mars in Pisces.  During the final square aspect between Venus and Mars, Venus will be direct at 27º55′ Cancer while Mars will be stationing retrograde at the same degree in Aries.  The fact it has taken almost nine months for Venus and Mars to finally finish the waxing square of their cycle is yet another indication of the immense change brought by the astrology of 2020 that has been full of incubatory creative tension and the need to confront issues of systemic oppression that impact our relationships with others.

Notably, Venus was forming a conjunction with Neptune during the first square aspect between Venus and Mars on January 26, and Mars was heading toward a conjunction with Neptune during the second square aspect on June 3. Now as they complete the final square, the Full Moon will be illuminating the ineffable mystery of Neptune in Pisces. The influence of Neptune combined with the volcanic aspects being formed by Venus point toward the necessity of confronting internal dynamics within our subconscious shadow. Neptune can connect sacrifice with spirituality in positive ways, yet Neptune can also cloud our perception with feelings of being a victim or martyr as well as a scapegoating crusader fixated on dogmatic beliefs. The dissolving influence of Neptune can be both constructive and destructive, and so rather than becoming inflated with righteousness be curious about exploring the inner and outer tensions at work in your life.

Full Moon in Pisces fountain

from the Rosarium Philosophorum

When tossing a coin into the fountain of the Pisces Full Moon to make a wish, bear in mind that your dreams have supportive resources available that go beyond the visible and measurable sources and structures in your surroundings. While being lost in wishful thinking will not be helpful, it’s also important to not discount support and guidance available from immaterial sources such as in the realms of spirit and ancestors. There is a balance to strike between realistically working with the support available versus being careful not to restrict yourself from pursuing meaningful goals and visions that are actually in reach.

Fortunately,  Mercury in Virgo is in position to provide supportive, clarifying discernment. The Full Moon will illuminate the oracular light of Mercury in Virgo, as Mercury is rising into visibility at sunset as an Evening Star in its nocturnal home and exaltation of Virgo. Mercury was reseeded in the heart of the Sun just a day before the recent New Moon in Leo, and so just as we are discovering the meaning of the present lunar cycle, so will we be receiving messages regarding what the new Evening Star phase of Mercury has in store for us. Mercury in Virgo has been cleansed and purified and is ready to help in digesting and breaking down our daily encounters into nutritive insight and medicine.  Major announcements will be made in current events.

Mercury in Virgo is separating from an opposition with Neptune in Pisces, while the Full Moon is applying to a conjunction with Neptune. Moreover, the ruler of the Full Moon, Jupiter in Capricorn, is engaged in a collaborative sextile aspect with Neptune.  Neptune has long been viewed in modern astrology as having a disintegrative effect on our sense of individuality, with its tidal force capable of sweeping us up within collective idealism with inspired fervor. Within current events we can witness the influence of Neptune through the numerous conspiracy theories and paranoia emanating from both sides of polarized conflict. The increasing light of Mercury in Virgo can help in sifting through the numerous illusions and distractions being stirred up to ground awareness, reorient from any disillusioning experiences, and bring methodical focus to researching support and completing whatever work is required for our present process. 

Full Moon in Pisces

Finale from Sonata of the Sea (1908) by Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis

Although Mars in Aries is not in a major aspect with the Full Moon, its presence will dramatically increase the emotional intensity of the lunation. The influence of Mars will dominate the astrological landscape in the week following the Full Moon, as it will be slowing down to a standstill and then stationing retrograde on September 9. Mars will form a jolting square aspect with Venus on September 4 and will remain engaged in a harsh square aspect with Saturn in Capricorn for the rest of September. 

As Mars and Saturn have already been clashing in the week before the Full Moon, you may already have become exhausted by being stretched too thin, upset by feeling rejected, or infuriated by feelings of being stifled or confined. However, the stationing of Mars can further enflame anger that has been repressed, leading us to become enraged with explosive force as our anger erupts from stagnation. The threat of increased violence is real and something we need to be on guard for- unfortunately, this threat has already been realized recently in the USA with citizens fighting and killing one another amidst protests.

At the same time, we can utilize the anger being stimulated by Mars to activate and motivate us to be assertive where we need to take action, becoming enlivened with purposeful drive and determination. We will need to be ready to remediate our defensiveness being provoked so that we do not react impulsively in damaging ways we will later regret. New life will emerge from whatever is burned down by the fiery heat of Mars, so be curious about whatever is brewing within, finding ways to bring your freshly emerging desires into your life creatively rather than destructively. Whatever energy is coming from Mars will demand movement and expression, so it will be necessary to find productive and creative outlets. 

Since Mars has ancient significations for disease and pestilence it has been a key aspect of the astrology underlying the pandemic of 2020. Yet Mars can also put us into touch with symptoms of our psyche that reveal the storyline of our present journey. Jason Holley in the 2020 Northwest Astrological Conference (NORWAC) gave a talk on Mars entitled Red Planet, Black Planet: The Initiation of Mars in which he described how the appearance of symptoms, illness, and vulnerabilities through Mars can carry the whole story we need to come to terms with to bring about our healing. We are collectively entering a period of being initiated by Mars in the next few months, and so while we know it will be messy at times and combative, we can also utilize it for reclaiming exiled or suppressed aspects of ourselves as well as more fully embodying and pursuing newly emerging desires. 

Second Decan of Pisces 9 of Cups

9 of Cups by Pamela Colman Smith

Pisces 2 Decan

The Full Moon arises in the second decan of Pisces, a face associated with the Nine of Cups card illustrated above by Pamela Colman Smith. In the image we see a pleased figure in a scarlet cap with a showy plume, signifying his passionate mind dressed with the Eros of his desires. The Nine of Cups is often associated with wish fulfillment, with the golden cups behind the figure signifying the resources needed to gain greater abundance being found within the unconscious and unseen realm of Spirit. The Nine of Cups has also been associated with happiness on both external and internal levels, enjoying feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, and getting what we think we want.  Fittingly, Jupiter is supremely powerful in this face, as it is not only the domicile ruler of Pisces but also the ruler of its second decan.

Austin Coppock in his book 36 Faces ascribed the image of “The Net” to the Pisces second decan in honor of Indra’s net with its many mutually reflective jewels, an overhanging cosmic net that has been interpreted as signifying magic and illusion as well as the interconnectedness of our universe. Coppock wrote that the luxurious satisfaction of the figure in the Nine of Cups card is the product of engaging the process of maintaining “a harmonious relationship between material and spiritual layers of life . . . [such as in] the art of following the Tao itself . . . at play in the material world but not beholden to it.” Coppock declared it to be a face in which “the central conflict is how to reconcile one’s understanding of the true nature of reality with the world-as-it-is,” a “phase in which we are challenged to reconcile beliefs, ideals, and the way things are.”

The link between the second face of Pisces with the depths of the underlying source of our visible reality is especially relevant given that the Pisces Moon will be moving from a sextile with Uranus and Jupiter into a conjunction with Neptune. The 12th century philosopher and astrologer Abraham Ibn Ezra in The Beginning of Wisdom described an image of a beautiful woman sitting on a ship at sea for this decan, wishing to come to land. Similarly, Coppock described the figures of the second face of Pisces as being “anchored in the invisible, yet step forward to play important roles in the visible world.” Make space during the Pisces Full Moon to discover if there any aspects of your inner beauty that have been patiently waiting in the oceanic realm of your unconscious, ready to come to shore to be realized. 

Coppock concluded that the crux of this decan centers on fulfillment coming from the harmonizing of one’s inner perceptions with one’s outer life, as torment and grief will overcome those unable to harmonize their outer and inner worlds. Seeking fortune for fortune’s sake will not bring happiness if our visible goals are misaligned with our invisible priorities. As older forms of astrology prioritize the relationships between Daimon and Fortune as well as Eros and Necessity, we must enact Daimon and Eros from our depths rather than only responding to the Necessity and Fortune of our times.  The satisfaction and joy that can be reached through the second face of Pisces comes from a deeper success that is aligned with our soul purpose and embodying the meaning of why we are here at this time. 

The Hellenistic text the 36 Airs ascribed the daimon Dolos to the second face of Pisces, a spirit of deception and trickery. Dolos was an apprentice to Prometheus who famously attempted to duplicate a statue of Aletheia (Truth) that had been perfectly constructed by Prometheus, yet ran out of clay before being able to complete its feet. In Aesop’s version of the tale, the duplicate statue was called Pseudologos (Falsehood) and brought the moral that something false can start off successfully, but with time the real truth will be revealed. Austin Coppock in 36 Faces wrote that the “protean” figures of the second face of Pisces can be “tricksters, liars who try to paint the portraits of their understanding and sculpt the form of their visions,” yet they necessarily fall short as “form utterly fails the profound,” and “the truth cannot be copied.” In fact, Coppock concluded that their creative acts are essential to the meaning of this face, as their “flawed copies are the only manner in which dreams can become real.”

The co-presence of Neptune with the Pisces Full Moon makes the tricky and cunningly crafty side of the second face of Pisces important to consider. We normally do not realize we are lost in an illusion until undergoing a disillusioning experience that wakes us up to the deeper truth we need to reorient ourselves around. There is also presently a deluge of conspiracy theories and false information to navigate through on social media that hold a hypnotic and manipulative effect on many. Yet with the Moon and Neptune in Pisces and the Sun and Mercury in Virgo, the silvery light of the Moon can facilitate cutting through the static of the times to the heart of what truly matters to you. Let the Pisces Moon’s light pour down upon your deepest dreams and desires, nourishing their imaginal roots so that they may bloom within your living reality.

If you enjoy my writing please consider supporting my work through a monthly subscription on my Patreon page. Take a look to see the benefits you will receive as a patron.

become_a_patron_button

References

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

Ibn-Ezra, Abraham. translated by Meira Epstein. (1998). The Beginning of Wisdom. Arhat. 

 

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.