Venus Retrograde in Aries & Pisces

The steps I make all go backwards
while yours continue advancing
the arch of our alliances
has penetrated my nest
in all its colorful swagger
it’s taken a walk down my veins
and even the hardest of chains
that destiny uses to bind us
is like the finest of diamonds
that lights up my calm soul

What feeling can bring about
knowledge never could,
nor the clearest course of action
nor the grandest of all our thoughts.
Everything is changed by the moment
like an affable magician,
it sweetly steers us away
from bitterness and from violence
only love with its science
turns us into such innocence.

Love is a swirling whirlwind
of primal purity
even the wildest of animals
will whisper and trill its sweetness,
it stops pilgrims in their travels,
it liberates those imprisoned,
love, with the gentlest of touches,
turns the old (wo)man into a child
and only the most loving care
will turn bad into pure and sincere.

Chorus:
Gathering moss so the stone rolls
like a thick ivy on the wall
sprouting and sprouting so it grows
like tender moss covering stone
like tender moss on a stone ay sí sí sí.

— Violeta Parra, Volver a los 17 (translated by Heidi Fischbach)

Venus Retrograde in Aries

Aphrodite arose in sea foam following a violent revolution, born with eyes cerulean as the waves and body fully formed with fertility. She enchanted the eyes of onlookers with rapture and with each new step onto the earth created bright colored growth. The planet Venus in astrology has many significations we associate with the mythic Aphrodite, such as the pleasures of fresh fruit and flowers, copulation, love, union, art, aesthetics, perfumed scents, and the luxuries that bring us feelings of comfort and elegance. The glyph of Venus is the circle of Spirit atop the cross of Matter, symbolizing the living soul and spirit found in all elements of our surrounding material world, and the capacity of our Venusian natures to give us an experience of heaven on earth.  In The Picatrix the anonymous magical author wrote “Venus is the source of the power of flavor” (p. 134), and in modern astrology we link Venus with the inner values which describe our attractions and how we choose to fulfill them within our myriad relationships.

When Venus goes retrograde, she returns to her mythic origins connected with active rebellion. During the Venus retrograde phase, the nature of Venus shifts from seeking social harmony into a transitional space in which social norms can be loosened to allow for a deep reevaluation of how we are seeking to fulfill our needs. On a societal level, a realignment of power dynamics can occur within hierarchical structure as well as between the general populace and the ruling class.  Venus is of course not actually moving backwards during its retrograde phase, merely appearing to move backward through zodiac degree from our Earth bound perspective.  What is occurring is that Venus is orbiting in between our Earth and our Sun, as close in its orbit to Earth as it ever gets.  Perhaps it is the close proximity of Venus to Earth during her retrograde phase that makes it possible to shed old skin and liberate ourselves from old Venusian patterns in relationship.

Venus began her 2017 retrograde on March 4 in the home of Mars and exaltation of the Sun at 13°08′ Aries, and will end her retrograde in the exaltation of Venus and the home of Jupiter on April 15 at 26°54′ Pisces.  During the eight year synodic cycle of Venus, Venus goes retrograde five times, spending forty days each time in retrograde motion.  From 1961 through 2001, Venus was retrograde entirely in the sign of Aries, and beginning in 2009 Venus began to move into Pisces from Aries.  Venus will be retrograde in both Aries and Pisces from 2009 through 2057 every eight years.  Astrologer Nick Dagan Best has taught that during the 19th Century Venus went retrograde in the Venus signs of Taurus and Libra, while in the 20th Century Venus went retrograde in the Mars signs of Aries and Scorpio.

While Venus ultimately will station direct in Pisces, the build up to her retrograde motion as well as its first movement that leads to Venus being regenerated in the heart of the Sun occur with Venus in Aries. Venus is estranged in Aries due to it being the home of Mars, the planet that in our astrological tradition has held a place of symbolic polarity to the significations of Venus. Venus is not weak in Aries, and in fact has the strength of decan dignity in the final decan of Aries (20 – 30 degrees of Aries). Yet Venus inhabiting a Mars ruled sign leads her to look for Mars for guidance, and Mars is less about maintaining pleasing harmony and more about the sort of fiery passion that can enliven our deepest nature yet also cause separation or a test of mettle. Venus in Aries possesses a burning desire that can destroy all forms and patterns that had previously become crystallized within its hot ardor. Beauty and love can volatilize and destroy what was previously stable when falling under the torrential sway of Eros, and similarly Venus retrograde in Aries can dramatically reshape the landscape of our relational dynamics.

marlene-seven-cross-of-venus

The Cross Rose in the Garden of Venus (2016) by Marlene Seven Bremner

Venus retrograde creates a magical atmosphere that is highly structured, holding resonance with the golden mean found in the five petaled form of the rose and numerous forms of life. The Orphic Hymn to Aphrodite described her as “Crafty, from whom necessity [Ananke] first came,” and also noted that “The triple Fates [Moirai] are rule’d by thy decree.” Similarly, the synodic cycle of Venus is so consistent and regular that the retrograde phase of it’s cycle brings an air of destiny, fate, and necessity to events and encounters in our daily life. Venus only goes retrograde once every year and a half or so, five times in it’s eight year synodic cycle with the Sun- eight divided by five is 1.625 and so very close to the sacred 1.618 proportion associated with the golden mean. If you trace the points around the zodiac at which Venus stations during its eight year synodic cycle, each point forms a quintile 72 degree aspect, creating the image of a five pointed star when plotted on paper. As a result every eight years we experience a Venus retrograde in the same general area of the zodiac at generally the same time.  These are the most recent Venus retrograde phases in Aries:

  • March 6, 2009 SR at 15°27′ Aries and SD on April 17, 2009 at 29°11′ Pisces
  • March 9, 2001 SR at 17°43′ Aries and SD on April 20, 2001 at 1°27′ Aries
  • March 11, 1993 SR at 20°01′ Aries and SD on April 22, 1993 at 3°44′ Aries

The current Venus retrograde is especially catalytic as it is bound within the re-activation of the square between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn by Jupiter in Libra.  Jupiter was retrograde in Libra when Venus stationed retrograde on March 4, having recently formed an exact opposition with Uranus in Aries.  The exact opposition between Jupiter and Uranus is one of the dominant archetypal themes in our collective this year, and the cycle between Jupiter and Uranus is known for coinciding with revolutions in politics (such as the American and French revolutions), science (Kepler and Galileo supporting the Copernican revolution; the development of quantum physics), the arts and all other fields of cultural exploration.  Jupiter in the outwardly directed home of Venus is looking to her for assistance, and with Venus co-present with Uranus in Aries for most of her retrograde period  there can be an acceleration of experimentation and innovation as well as heated conflict, discord, and outright warfare within our collective.

Venus first reached the degree and minute she will ultimately station direct at in Pisces (26°55′) on 30 January 2017, with Mars close by at two degrees of Aries.  During the month of February there was an epic build up to the retrograde with Venus burning brightly in the night sky as an Evening Star, getting closer and closer each night to Mars, also visible with its reddish hue against the black of night.  The passions of Venus and Mars together in the sky were further volatized by a Lunar Eclipse in Leo and a Solar Eclipse in Pisces that coincided with twists of fate bringing momentous change.  A lot of inspiration and excitement could have been experienced within these transits, with significant new shifts in relationships and projects launched.  Due to Venus and Mars separating during the transition into the Venus retrograde of March, however, there will be important inner work, reflection, and restructuring needed to be experienced before the full potential of the new endeavors of February will be fully realized.

When Venus stationed retrograde as a bright Evening Star on March 4, Mercury was conjoining Neptune in Pisces and Mars was separating from a conjunction with Uranus.  A couple days later, Mercury was purified and regenerated in the heart of the Sun in Pisces.  Altogether the transits surrounding the stationing retrograde of Venus in Aries brought extraordinary support for conception and envisioning groundbreaking and divinely inspired ideas, projects, and partnerships.  The empowering astrological climate also led to conflict among competing interests, for just as those in power attempted to consolidate holdings so did various protest moments find support to initiate bold and direct action to contest dominant powers.  Once Mars entered Taurus on March 9, the amplified martial energies became toned down somewhat with Mars inhabiting a sign with a more plodding and grounded rhythm.  Yet with Jupiter simultaneously moving retrograde away from an exact opposition with Uranus and toward an exact square with Pluto, the uproar of collective and personal conflicts and catharsis will continue.  On personal levels the best remedies will be to nurture oneself and loved ones and commit to inner work that clears out what is no longer serving one’s authentic path.

Vitally, it is during Venus retrograde that Venus shifts from being an Evening Star into becoming a Morning Star. Around March 18 or 19, Venus disappeared from the evening sky, becoming invisible in her underworld journey of falling into the heart of the Sun.  At the same time that Venus was making a disappearance in our night sky, Mercury was making an appearance and emerging again with a message as an Evening Star.  As Mercury united with Venus retrograde on March 18 and we then experienced the Aries Equinox on March 20 in which our Sun ascends across our celestial equator, we received a message of what to hold close to our hearts as we descended into a period of darkness in which Venus will not be visible to us until she emerges again as a Morning Star at the end of March.

okeeffe-red-flower-norton1

Red Flower (1919) Georgia O’Keeffe

Venus in the Heart of the Sun’s Exaltation

On March 25 we experience the moment in which Venus is exactly conjunct our Sun, orbiting in between our planet and our solar light.  Venus in the heart of the Sun is regenerated and in a place of power, seated on her fiery throne.  Aries is not only the home of Mars, it is also the exaltation of the Sun, and so the purification Venus will undergo while conjoining the Sun can burn away whatever needs to be shed from our past.  The Moon will be dark in Pisces and applying to a conjunction with the South Node of the Moon as Venus conjoins the Sun, bringing an additional layer of purification especially in terms of old emotional complexes and patterns.  This inner union of Venus with the Sun is especially visionary in nature and most resonant for those able to have solitary time to reflect in silence.  The nonessential will be burned off while the essential will be illuminated by spirit fire, revealing what makes our heart beat most brightly.

The square between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn is especially activated at the time of Venus entering the heart of the Sun, as Mercury will be separating from an opposition with Jupiter and applying to a conjunction with Uranus, while Jupiter will be retrograde and applying closely to a square with Pluto in Capricorn.  Meanwhile Mars in Taurus will be in a supportive relationship with Neptune in Pisces.  These aspects signify immense change erupting in the world around us, and opportunities to find our resonant place amongst the shifting.  This is a moment to enter into the mystery, being open to what is revealed about our inner nature and feelings and how they have been manifesting externally in our relationships.  It does not mean that partnerships and other commitments need to be ended, but it does mean we may gain insight into ways in which we need to modify the way we have been engaging within relationships.  With Venus alchemized by our Sun, we can gain awareness for our purest passions and who or what deserves us to prioritize as storylines morph in coming months.

Venus will emerge again in the shifting hues of the predawn sky at the end of March, solidifying her phase as a Morning Star in April.  Venus will be retrograde as a Morning Star in Pisces until April 15, and though Pisces is known as a sign of compassion, as a retrograde Morning Star the emotional flow and psychic sensitivity of Pisces can be directed by Venus to expose relational dynamics with others we need to adjust and reveal however we have been feeling out of balance with our deep nature.  The following is a translation by Samuel Noah Kramer and Diane Wolkstein of ancient Sumerian text regarding Innana as “The Lady of the Morning,” in other words Venus as a Morning Star:

Honored Counselor, Ornament of Heaven, Joy of An!
When sweet sleep has ended in the bedchamber,
You appear like bright daylight.

When all the lands and the people of Sumer assemble,
Those sleeping on the roofs and those sleeping by the walls,
Whey they sing your praises, bringing their concerns to you,
You study their words.

You render a cruel judgment against the evildoer;
You destroy the wicked.
You look with kindly eyes on the straightforward;
You give that one your blessing.

My Lady looks in sweet wonder from heaven.
The people of Sumer parade before the holy Inanna.
Inanna, the Lady of the Morning, is radiant.
I sing your praises, holy Inanna.
The Lady of the Morning is radiant on the horizon.

— “The Lady of the Morning” from Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gates of Paradise (2015) by Marlene Seven Bremner

Venus Station Direct in Pisces

Venus stations direct in Pisces on April 15 while conjoining Chiron and in square to Saturn.   Venus stationing direct at the 27th degree of Pisces is notable, for 27 degrees of Pisces is the exact exaltation degree of Venus.  Though this a potent degree for Venus to be at a standstill on, her ability to fully experience the abundance of her exaltation degree is altered significantly by her being conjunct Chiron and in square with Saturn.  Venus contained by Chiron and Saturn is not an easy experience, but rather one that will require work and discipline while overcoming a challenge, separation, or solitude in one form or another.  Yet by facing reality honestly without denial the stationing of Venus in aspect to Chiron and Saturn can connect us directly to our inner authority and bring awareness to the values, relationships, and work we are willing to give everything for against all odds or obstacles.  Going deep within we can find healing of wounds in need of resolution, as what we need to let go of from the past can become dissolved and washed away by the waters of Pisces.

While Pisces is the exaltation of Venus, it is also the inner home of Jupiter which brings added importance to the transit of Jupiter in Libra during the final phase of the Venus retrograde.  Venus in Pisces and Jupiter in Libra are in mutual generosity, and though they do not form a major sign based aspect they will nonetheless be looking to each other for support.  This period will be a pivotal turning point in the transit of Jupiter in Libra, and we will be able to gain valuable insight into the issues in need of tending in order to maximize what we can develop and expand through our creativity and relationships.  Venus in a challenging and catalyzing aspect with Saturn will force awareness to where we need to strengthen boundaries and further develop structures that will ultimately bolster our ability to manifest what we have been gestating through inner visions and active imagination.

There are a number of transits surrounding the stationing direct of Venus in Pisces that further shape symbolic meaning.  Venus in Pisces will be forming a harmonious sextile with Mars and Ceres in Taurus, while the Sun will be in union with Uranus in Aries.  The Moon will be in Sagittarius aligned with the true node of Black Moon Lilith, while Pluto will be beginning to station retrograde in range of a conjunction with Juno in Capricorn.  Talents that have been dormant can become reactivated and released, bringing opportunities to take risks in expressing more of our wholeness and authenticity.  Where we have felt judged and persecuted in the past may now reveal hidden gifts ready to be unearthed and expressed with confident assertiveness.  Though difficult feelings may coincide with the stationing of Venus direct, they ultimately will help guide us toward realizations of what we truly need and desire in relationship with others.

Most significantly, Mercury will station retrograde at 4°50′ of Taurus less than a week before Venus stations direct, meaning that Mercury and Venus will essentially be motionless from April 10 through April 15.  As the Venus retrograde began with Mercury moving direct into the heart of the Sun, there is an obvious connection and message to be found in the intersection of Venus and Mercury synodic cycles during March, April, and May.  This means that as we are reevaluating how we find pleasure and form relationship we are also reorienting the manner in which we translate and communicate meaning and make sense of our perceptions.  It also means that there will be a lot more changes, twists, and turns coming our way following the stationing direct of Venus.  Venus will leave its retrograde shadow zone on May 18, 2017 when it crosses back over 13’08 Aries.   At this time Mercury will likewise be close to leaving its own retrograde shadow zone.  By the time  Venus and Mercury have had their way with us at the end of May, we will have experienced vital purification and regeneration that will have prepared us to receive and create greater fulfillment within our relationships.

References

Fishbach, Heidi. (2014). Volver a los 17. A translation.

Wolkstein, Diane and Kramer, Samuel Noah. (1983).  Inanna Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her stories and hymns from Sumer. Harper & Row.

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New Moon in Leo

New Moon in Leo

by Arrington de Dionyso (original painting for sale at http://www.arringtondedionyso.bigcartel.com)

New Moon in Leo

The New Moon in Leo on August 14, 2015 heralds a shift that wakes us up in our bones like the sound of a lion’s roar as dawn approaches.  The past two weeks of the waning Moon cycle has brought about pivotal change associated with Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury all initiating last quarter squares with Saturn and sparking thoughts of future-oriented vision.  In the Dark Moon shedding leading up to this New Moon, the transit of Venus retrograde will take us into an Underworld of fiery flames that can burn off a previous pattern of limitation.  We will be in a Venusian purification process that may feel disorienting in the sensation of new passions stirring from within our unconscious.  There is astrological reasoning behind these feelings, however, as this New Moon ushers in a visceral rebirth of Venus in our life.

This week’s New Moon in Leo happens a day before the inferior conjunction of Venus retrograde with the Sun, and so Venus retrograde is conjunct this New Moon.   Venus this close to embracing the Sun in the Sun’s domicile of Leo makes this an even stronger solar rebirth for Venus than normal, as the Sun is receiving Venus and engulfing her with enlivening rays of sunlight that cast her golden shadow over everything.  As Venus steps through the flames of the Sun on August 15, the next aspect on her horizon will be a trine to Uranus in Aries that her coppery essence can conduct to create an electrical vibration of liberation, further amplifying Venusian passions.  Stepping into greater emancipation can be challenging, however, when we begin to sense so strongly the repressive forces at work in our surrounding relationships and realize the necessity of altering the dynamic so we can more freely express ourselves.  This New Moon is therefore a powerful moment to set intentions for how to effectively change the way we interact in our relationships so that we can embrace our genuine nature and release attachment to a persona we were embodying in order to accommodate previous relationship dynamics.

Jupiter in Virgo

from the Aurora Consurgens (15th Century)

Jupiter in Virgo

Jupiter’s ingress into Virgo with Mercury also in it’s home sign of Virgo means that the sign of the Winged Maiden is accentuated at this New Moon.  In many ways, this New Moon is the dawn of a time period in which Virgo will be one of the most significant signs, as Jupiter will remain in Virgo for the next year and in the months ahead the North Node of the Moon will shift into Virgo, leading us to experience Virgo eclipses as well.  No doubt you have heard that Jupiter is in its detriment in the sign of Virgo, since Virgo’s opposite sign Pisces is one of Jupiter’s domiciles.  This does not mean that Jupiter is weak in Virgo, only that according to our astrological foundation Virgo’s focus on details is at odds with the grandiose essential nature of Jupiter that favors expansive vision and an all-encompassing perspective over analysis of details.  In contrast to Jupiter’s time in Leo in which the atmosphere promoted creative actualization and boldly pursuing our passions without restraint, Jupiter’s time in Virgo emphasizes a detailed focus on producing quality work that serves a purpose for others.  In line with the theory of essential dignities at the heart of traditional astrology, Jupiter being in detriment in Virgo also means that Jupiter will be less predictable and more open to change and fluctuation.

Classical astrology places the two Mercury domiciles of Gemini and Virgo in polarity to the two Jupiter domiciles of Sagittarius and Pisces.  In Virgo we experience the expansion of Jupiter through Mercurial discernment of how to efficiently organize elements of our life so we can more optimally act in connection with the ever evolving moment.  Jupiter in Virgo will take us through an alchemical process led by the changing speeds of Mercury into how to effectively work with the spirit embedded in the surrounding material world in order to create a healing context for ourselves and others.  Jupiter in Virgo is not about attracting accolades and praise from others, but rather focuses on humbly using our visionary nature to serve the highest good of others in our community.  However, since Virgo is the ultimate sign of analysis, we need to keep in mind how Mercurial labeling and categorization inherently can lead us to set limits and conditions on the vision and sense of meaning we are deriving through our Jupiter functions.

Jupiter in Virgo as a result means we need to pay closer attention to the transit of Mercury in connection with our evolving sense of Jupiterian vision.  At this time of the New Moon, Mercury is also in Virgo which in classical astrology is considered both the domicile and exaltation of Mercury, meaning that the sign of Virgo is aligned harmoniously with the essential nature of Mercury.  This means that while both Jupiter and Mercury are in Virgo, it is an excellent time to diligently research and study subjects aligned with your life purpose.  At this New Moon, the sage Mercury in Virgo is separating from an opposition with Neptune, applying to a trine with Pluto in Capricorn, and applying to a square with Pallas Athena in Sagittarius and a conjunction with Juno in Virgo.  This is a loaded Mercury that as an Evening Star can take on a role of guiding us into the deep rooted soul experience of the current Venus retrograde phase.

At the time of this New Moon aligned with the inferior conjunction of Venus, Jupiter brings its visionary nature into conjunction with the fixed star Regulus and the degree of the zodiac at which Venus previously stationed retrograde less than a month ago.  In the ancient light of Regulus we find stored ageless stories of nobility and leadership, the rise to power and the fall from power.  The connection of Regulus with a fall from power could connect to the shadow side of Virgo that can become overly critical out of desires for perfection.  If we are not currently where we want to be and doing what we want to do with our life, we need to be careful not to project our own self-criticism into the relationships surrounding us.  The Virgo remedy to this ill is complete acceptance in the moment of where you are in life, and acknowledgment that when we fully enter the presence of the moment we allow ourselves to feel our idealized sense of perfection.  Instead of taking out our frustration on others, we can instead utilize the potent mental attributes of Virgo to creatively problem-solve our current dilemmas.

Venus in Leo

Three Tahitians by Paul Gauguin

Venus Inferior Conjunction

It is stellar synchronicity that this Venus cycle’s Inferior Conjunction commences a day after a New Moon, creating fertile ground to plant the seed of a new Venus cycle.  Whether you are experiencing the rapture of a new romance, the deepening of an existing relationship, the release of a previously wounding partnership, or feeling a burgeoning inner blossoming of new purpose in life, one way or another your relationship with Venus is transforming on a core level at the time of this Leo New Moon.  Yet this new sense of Venus is in a budding phase that will not be realized in full bloom until a later time, and so there will also be a vulnerable and sensitive quality to our reorientation in need of nurturing and support.  Whether events are incredibly dramatic or surprisingly quiet for you now, in one way or another Venus is altering the trajectory of your life into a completely new direction.  Take time in the dark of this New Moon and in the birthing of a new cycle between Venus and the Sun on August 15 to ritualize and meditatively reflect upon how your relationship with Venus is changing and where she is leading you.

There is also another retrograde goddess worthwhile to pay attention to:  Ceres, celestial Queen of the asteroid belt, who is retrograde in Capricorn and in trine to Black Moon Lilith in Virgo at the time of the New Moon.  Furthermore, both Ceres retrograde and Black Moon Lilith are in sextile to Saturn in Scorpio.  These aspects are strong support to utilize the Venus retrograde to claim full responsibility for our responses to life, including being accountable for taking steps to express our authenticity into the world around us without fear of shame or being cast off in exile for speaking our mind.  In addition, in the next couple weeks of the waxing Moon cycle, Mars in Leo will be getting closer and closer to becoming conjunct with Venus retrograde each day, ultimately becoming exactly conjunct a couple of days after the upcoming Pisces Full Moon.  This adds even more fiery assertion into our new sense of Venus we will begin to feel more strongly around August 19 when she arises from the underworld, heralding dawn as a Morning Star.  As a result in the week following this New Moon we will be called to begin asserting our reborn embodiment of Venus, and we will want to likewise be aware of the conflict this new expression from us could provoke in those wanting us to remain in our old presence.

Leo III Decan

7 of Wands illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith

This New Moon falls in the third decan of Leo, associated with the 7 of Wands card in which a man is bravely fighting for his life, using his wand to fight off the onslaught of six attacking wands.  He is standing on a cliff in a precarious position, yet his stance and face suggests someone putting his whole being into his struggle with extraordinary determination.  One of my favorite writers on the tarot, Kelsey Lynore, through her interpretation of this card in the Dali deck linked it’s meaning to issues around “the cause of the one” versus “the cause of the many,” and since the “presumed opinion of the masses . . . is probably wrong” the querent is encouraged to “not relent and do not back down,” and to “stand your ground courageously, no matter the apparent odds.”  This link between the struggle for life shown in the image of the 7 of Wands to a struggle against asserting one’s personal truth in the face of consensus opinion and judgement is strongly resonant for the timing of this New Moon at the heart of the Venus retrograde and in the aftermath of the last quarter square between Saturn and Jupiter.

Fittingly Mars is the ruler of the third face of Leo, and since transiting Mars is also in the sign of Leo it appears this time will call for boldness on behalf of whatever you hold most dear.  Astrologer Austin Coppock in his book on the decans 36 Faces wrote that the third face of Leo signifies “the tenacity to fight for the place one has gained, to struggle and be victorious over contrary forces within and without” through “the power of the utterly steadfast heart, which never fails to rise to the challenges present” (p. 133).  To Coppock it is the “unconquerable heart” which is the source of the Leo III decan’s power, as “what resides in the heart is untouchable, invincible” and most radiant when enlivened with passionate spirit:

Yet this divine fire does not issue forth to defend the personal and the petty. Its nature transcends the confines of the identity, and to be roused, something bigger than the ego must be invoked.  A principle must be raised a loft, a banner bearing the name of Truth, Justice or Beauty. The power which winds through this last face of Leo demands a spiritualization of the solar fire present in the Lion’s sign, for it is only to such flags that the heart truly salutes  (p. 134).

Venus retrograde will be in the underworld, invisible and combust the brilliant Leo Sun at the time of this New Moon in the third face of Leo.  What we hold with love in our heart, the vision of our beloved that can enflame even the bleakest environments with the full force of life and meaning, is what we must now support and remember will be reborn in the full light of sunrise for us to embrace.  If circumstances require you to have to persevere in some way to protect your Venusian values and desire, allow the passion of your heart to direct your speech and action to victory.

New Moon in Leo

References

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

Venus Retrograde in Leo & Virgo

Venus Retrograde in Leo and Virgo

From the Clavis Artis manuscript at the Biblioteca Civica Hortis in Trieste courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Venus Retrograde

  • Venus stations retrograde at 0°46′ Virgo on July 25 and stations direct at 14°24′ Leo on September 6, 2015.
  • Inferior conjunction of Venus with the Sun, or “New Venus,” will be at 22°39′ Leo on August 15, 2015.
  • The shadow zone of Venus retrograde covering the stretch of time Venus is contained within the zodiac range of her retrograde is from June 21 through October 9, 2015.

Aphrodite arose in sea foam following a violent revolution, born in ocean waves with eyes cerulean as the sea and body fully formed with fertile hips and breasts. It is said she enchanted the eyes of onlookers with rapture and with each new step onto the earth created the bright colored growth of grass and flowers.  The planet Venus in astrology has many significations we associate with the mythic Aphrodite, such as the pleasures of fresh fruit and flowers, copulation, love, union, art, aesthetics, perfumed scents, and the luxuries that bring us feelings of comfort and elegance.  The glyph of Venus is the circle of Spirit atop the cross of Matter, symbolizing the living soul and spirit found in all elements of our surrounding material world, and the capacity of our Venusian natures to give us an experience of heaven on earth.  Perhaps above all we link Venus with the inner values we hold most dear and which describe who and what we are attracted to and magnetize into our life, as well as how we project these inner needs into our outer relationships for better or for worse.  In The Picatrix the anonymous magical author wrote “Venus is the source of the power of flavor” (p. 134), and as we all know our tastes can change it is during Venus retrograde that we can experience essential transformation.

When Venus goes retrograde, she returns to her mythic origins connected with active rebellion and revolution.  During the Venus retrograde phase, the nature of Venus shifts from seeking social harmony into a transitional, in-between space in which all established social norms are loosened to such an extent that we can experience a deep reevaluation of our inner values and how we are seeking to fulfill them in external relationships and structures. On a societal level, a realignment can occur within the power structure as well as between elements of the general populace and elements of the ruling class.  As this current Venus retrograde begins simultaneously with an exact square between Mars in Cancer and Uranus in Aries, it creates a charged atmosphere of rebellious confrontations and stormy emotions befitting the mythic origins of Aphrodite.  Amplifying the electricity further, a day after Venus stations retrograde, the shattering and liberating Uranus also stations retrograde on July 26 making the initiation of this Venus journey into the underworld intensely Uranian.  As a result we can find ourselves in great drama at the beginning of this Venus retrograde, and some of the initial experiences could be triggering in surprising ways.  While we could respond by investing passion into our roles in life like the Venus who adores stepping into the spotlight, it will be most important to take time to nurture and regenerate ourselves continually, whenever needed.

Venus retrograde creates a magical atmosphere that is highly structured, holding resonance with the golden mean found in the five petaled form of the rose and numerous forms of life.  The Orphic Hymn to Aphrodite described her as “Crafty, from whom necessity [Ananke] first came,” and also noted that “The triple Fates [Moirai] are rule’d by thy decree.”  Similarly, the synodic cycle of Venus is so consistent and regular that the retrograde phase of it’s cycle brings an air of destiny, fate, and necessity to events and encounters in our daily life.  Venus only goes retrograde once every year and a half or so, five times in it’s eight year synodic cycle with the Sun-  eight divided by five is 1.625 and so very close to the sacred 1.618 proportion associated with the golden mean.  If you trace the points around the zodiac at which Venus stations during its eight year synodic cycle, each point forms a quintile 72 degree aspect, creating the image of a five pointed star when plotted on paper.  The magical result of this is that every eight years, we experience a Venus retrograde in the same general area of the zodiac at generally the same time (this all slowly shifts across time), so that there is a resonance from this time back to July through September of 2007, and then also to July through September of 1999 before that.

  • Previously on July 27, 2007 Venus stationed retrograde at 2°57′ Virgo and stationed direct at 16°36′ Leo on September 8, 2007. New Venus on August 18, 2007 at 24°51′ Leo.  Shadow zone of June 24 – October 12, 2007.
  • Previously on July 30, 1999 Venus stationed retrograde at 5°8′ Virgo and stationed direct at 18°47′ Leo on September 11, 1999. New Venus around August 20, 1999 at 27 Leo.  Shadow zone of June 26 – October 15, 1999.

This will be the last Venus retrograde that involves both Virgo and Leo, as the cycle will shift in 2022 to occurring entirely in Leo.  In the first half of the 20th Century the Venus retrograde cycle in this zone of the zodiac occurred entirely in Virgo until 1959, when it began to slide into the end of Leo.  With each successive eight year Venus retrograde (1967, 1975, 1983, 1991, 1999, 2007, 2015) it has moved deeper and deeper into Leo. In our current retrograde cycle, Venus entered Virgo during it’s “shadow zone” period on July 18, 2015 and will return to Leo retrograde on July 31, 2015- as a result we really only have about two weeks this time around with Venus in Virgo.  There is a thirty day “shadow” period on either side of the Venus retrograde cycle in which Venus is traversing the same zodiac degrees that are part of its retrograde motion.  Since the actual Venus retrograde lasts forty days, in all this gives us one hundred days to do the deep work of Venus.  As Venus is at it’s closest obit to the Earth during it’s retrograde phase, moving in between the Earth and the Sun, it means all things Venusian become intensified during this time.

Venus stations retrograde in Virgo

The Unicorne by Gustave Moreau

Venus conjunct Regulus in Virgo

There is a grandiose cosmic message revealed by Venus stationing conjunct the fixed star Regulus at the beginning of Virgo, as Regulus is the closest bright star to our ecliptic, only 0.46 degrees away.  Regulus spent over two thousand years in the tropical zodiac sign of Leo until the year 2012 when it entered Virgo. Regulus is at the heart of the lion in the Leo constellation, a multiple star system with ancient associations with Mars, Jupiter, and the characteristics of leadership, described by Reinhold Ebertin as conveying “royal properties, noble mind, frankness, courage” (p. 52), and by Vivian Robson as making one “magnanimous, grandly liberal, generous, ambitious, fond of power, desirous of command, high-spirited and independent” (p. 195).   This Venus retrograde cycle beginning on this legendary fixed star means Venus stands still from our perspective aligned with Regulus for weeks, portending that the Venus retrograde will call us to reassess our values and ethics connected with ambition, power, courage, leadership, generosity, and the qualities we feel are “noble.”  If we are someone accustomed to ambitiously pursuing power, we may be confronted with experiences making us question how we have been expressing ourselves and impacting others.  If we are someone who has been repressing the expression of our gifts, circumstances or a burning sense from inside may propel us to seize opportunities to develop our works of passion and to realize ways in which we can more confidently present ourselves and help others as a result.

Regulus is also one of the four Royal Stars of Persia, the Watcher of the North associated with Raphael, the Archangel of Healing.  The angelic healer connection of Raphael to Regulus symbolically connects with the purifying quality of the Winged Virgin, the discerning nature of Virgo that can formulate the necessary medicine and healing practices that will cure whatever ails. Virgo is ruled by Mercury who heightens the Virgo ability to diagnose the appropriate use of medical arts to heal any fragmentation between the mind, body, and spirit.  Likewise, at the beginning of this Venus retrograde while Venus remains in Virgo, it is an excellent time to attune within and deduce whatever emotions, feelings, values, and patterns of relationship we will need to address, nurture, and heal.  Venus in the mutable Earth sign of the Winged Maiden can sense what issues the wisdom of our body is directing us toward, so making the time and space to regularly attend to your body now will help you prepare for the forty nights and days ahead in the retrograde.  As Virgo is crafty and Venus loves the arts, if you are someone who is artistic in some way then it can also be a powerful time to transmute the issues needing to be healed through the process of creating within an artistic medium.

Venus in this initial time of the retrograde in Virgo is a bright Evening Star, and while taking on the rebellious characteristics of her retrograde phase, she has more tendencies toward creating harmony than she will later in her retrograde after entering her Morning Star phase.  Venus stays in Virgo through the powerful Aquarius Full Moon on July 31, shifting into Leo about five hours after the exact timing of the lunation.  Thus, on July 31 we receive an illuminated Aquarian message linked to Venus retrograde in Virgo at this beginning phase of the journey ahead.  As Venus leaves Virgo to enter Leo, her significations shift into issues of creative calling and actualization, leadership, solar flair, validation, and procreative force. Venus stays in her Evening Star phase through the first week of August, and then by mid-August disappears from view into the underworld.

Venus Retrograde in Leo

by Talia Migliaccio from http://www.taliamigliaccio.com

Venus Cycles with Jupiter and Saturn

Venus re-enters the sign of Leo on July 31, 2015 and into aspects with Jupiter in Leo and Saturn in Scorpio that will promote great change in our personal lives as well as in our collective.  In many ways it is Saturn in Scorpio that takes center stage at this time, as a day after Venus enters Leo, Saturn stations direct on August 1, 2015 after having been retrograde since March 14, 2015.  Yet in truth this time is about the relationship between Jupiter and Saturn and the long history of their use in astrology to interpret collective stages within our world.  On August 3, 2015 the current Jupiter and Saturn cycle finally initiates the last quarter square phase between them.  Our current Jupiter and Saturn cycle began May 28, 2000 at 23 degrees of Taurus in the tropical zodiac, and so we are now at the pivotal last quarter square aspect that turns back for a review of everything that has occurred during this past cycle in order to release what no longer serves us in preparation for the new cycle between Saturn and Jupiter that arrives on December 21, 2020 at the first degree of Aquarius.  The last quarter square was famously described as a “crisis in consciousness” by astrologer Dane Rudhyar, and so on a personal level while we sense a visionary, expansive, solar quality of Jupiter pulling us forward like a courageous Lion, we simultaneously feel the constrictive force of Saturn in the penetrating sign of the Scorpion demanding that we utilize it’s scythe to clear and re-structure our belief system at a fundamental level in order to create fertile soil for our new vision to ultimately take root in the years ahead.

The quality Venus embodies in her retrograde phase of rebelling against the status quo and re-centering within on the raw values taking shape in our psyche is like a magical elixir that makes this last quarter square between Saturn and Jupiter even more powerful.  The day after Jupiter and Saturn form their exact square, Venus becomes conjunct Jupiter on August 4 and then a day later Venus also forms an exact last quarter square with Saturn on August 5.  This means that we once again experience a conjunction of Venus with Jupiter with the crucial difference of Venus being retrograde, also meaning that after Venus has her underworld journey and emerges again as a Morning Star, that she will eventually return to conjunct Jupiter a third time in Virgo on October 25, 2015.  Astrologer Gary Caton has written that having three conjunctions between Jupiter and Venus in the same year only happened recently in 1967 and 1991, both years of radical creativity in the artistic and musical realm in our collective.  With Venus retrograde conjunct Jupiter and in square to Saturn at this point, it means we have deep inner clearing to do regarding our beliefs around feelings of inner self worth and our external patterns of relationship.  It seems that if we haven’t realized the message we need to work on at this point, events will force us into necessary awareness.

If that were not enough, there is an even deeper magical planetary element to add to this witches brew of transformation:  Mercury.  The day after the exact last quarter square between Venus and Saturn, Mercury swings through on August 6 and becomes conjunct Venus first and then later in the day becomes exactly square to Saturn.  The following day on August 7, Mercury becomes conjunct Jupiter in Leo.  In alchemy, Mercury is the soul energy utilized to anchor Spirit into the Body or Matter, and similarly Mercury is serving here as a cosmic binding to help us integrate the transformational changes of this week in our mind, body, and soul.  Since Mercury unites with Jupiter after squaring Saturn, the result is a heightened ability to look at our life and our past in an entirely new way, rooted in self-reflection of our past experiences.  Mercury could present us at this time with stimulating new information or a vital new message to receive that helps shift our perspective.

Venus inferior Conjunction

by Talia Migliaccio from http://www.taliamigliaccio.com

Venus Inferior Conjunction

By August 11, Venus will have set as an Evening Star and we will no longer be able to see Venus at night, as she will have symbolically entered the Underworld stage of her journey.  While we may attempt to direct the rays of the Sun with our Venusian mirrors to help us look better or feel better about ourselves, the more we can step into the full flames of the Solar Rays the more we can experience a fiery purification of our past Venusian values in preparation for the new cycle between the Sun and Venus.  On August 15, 2015 we experience the Inferior Conjunction of Venus with the Sun, when Venus goes cazimi into the heart of the Sun and forms an exact conjunction.  The Inferior Conjunction of Venus happens when Venus is exactly orbiting between our Earth and our Sun, and so it symbolizes the meaning of a NEW VENUS much like a New Moon in our life.

This is a powerful day to go within and set intentions for what you want to magnetize and attract into your life in the new cycle ahead.  Astrologer Anne Massey in her book Venus wrote that since the rose is a symbol of Venus, we can imagine ourselves at the New Venus as being a rose bud wet with morning dew, delicately beginning to unfold into a blooming rose at Full Venus.  The Full Venus is the Superior Conjunction that occurs when Venus moves direct into the heart of the Sun, orbiting on the other side of the Sun from our perspective on Earth.  Within the five pointed star formed by the Venus retrograde cycle, we experience a Full Venus four years after a New Venus close to the same day and zodiac degree.  In this case, we will end up having a Full Venus occur on August 14, 2019 at 21°11′ of Leo.  Integrating the other points of the five pointed star, the last Superior Conjunction of Venus occurred on October 25, 2014 at 2 degrees of Scorpio, and the next one occurs on June 6, 2016 at 17 degrees of Gemini.

VenusInferiorConjunctWRIGC3

Bringing in the other astrological aspects of this Inferior Conjunction, it is notable that Jupiter will have recently ingressed into Virgo and is conjunct the Moon in Virgo, and Mercury the ruler of Virgo is in it’s own sign of Virgo and applying to a conjunction with Juno in Virgo, separating from an opposition with Neptune and applying to an opposition with Chiron in Pisces.  There is potential to gain a new sense of the deepest levels of our being at this time, yet in order to receive the insight of this healing perspective it is necessary to strip away illusions of control and to utilize the capacity of Mercury in its Sage phase of Evening Star to open yourself to fully experience the process of your unconscious at work.  As Carl Jung wrote in his Alchemical Studies:

We must be able to let things happen in the psyche. For us, this is an art of which most people know nothing. Consciousness is forever interfering, helping, correcting, and negating, never leaving the psychic processes to grow in peace.

Venus in Leo Strength

Strength arcanum illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith

Venus conjunct Mars

Following the New Venus of August 15, Venus begins to shift into a Morning Star, re-emerging from her Underworld journey around August 23.  As Venus as an Evening Star is more about seeking harmony and attuning with the needs of others in relationship, Venus as a Morning Star is more about going after what we feel we are worth and desire.  It is also important to realize that while on individual levels there is great healing and self-renewal potentially available at the time of the Inferior Conjunction of Venus, on a collective level the vast majority of people are not tuned into this perspective and so events surrounding us could become incredibly dramatic and rife with conflict.  The Morning Star Venus can be more aggressive and linked to the blood-thirsty aspect of the Goddess seen in figures such as the lion-headed Sekhmet who can become intoxicated by the spilling of blood.  Along these lines, Inanna as the planetary Venus in its Morning Star phase was described by the ancient Sumerians in the translated text “The Lady of the Morning” from the Seven Hymns to Inanna:

Honored Counselor, Ornament of Heaven, Joy of An!

When sweet sleep has ended in the bedchamber,

You appear like bright daylight.

When all the lands and the people of Sumer assemble . . .

When they sing your praises, bringing their concerns to you,

You study their words.

You render a cruel judgment against the evildoer;

You destroy the wicked.

You look with kindly eyes on the straightforward;

You give that one your blessing.

Further amplifying feelings of desire and drama in relationships is the fact that with each day of the second half of August, Mars in Leo gets closer and closer to becoming conjunct Venus retrograde in Leo.  On September 1, 2015 the second conjunction between Mars and Leo is initiated at 14°55 of Leo.  Following this conjunction, as Venus stations direct Mars begins to separate but never gets too far away from Venus, who begins chasing after Mars until they eventually become conjunct a third time on November 2, 2015 at 25 degrees of Virgo.  This time of transition from the end of August through the beginning of September, with Venus beginning to station, unites the fiery desire of Mars in Leo to pursue new creative endeavors with a Venus bearing her soul in Leo at the depths of her Underworld journey.  This is not yet a time to have gained clarity, and more so a time to instinctually sense what we are in a process of outgrowing as well as what we are beginning to initiate in a process of becoming.

Wilderness Lion

by Walter Crane

Venus stations Direct

Venus finally stations direct on September 6, 2015 at 14°23′ of Leo, with Mars about four degrees away at a little over 18 degrees of Leo.  Flipping through the vast catalogue of images associated with the Leo II decan from numerous ancient texts in Austin Coppock’s book on the decans 36 Faces, in order to get a sense of the variety of images associated with this section of the zodiac, I was struck by how many of them described a man carrying a bow and arrow or sword, fierce with anger like a lion and sometimes even dressed like a lion.  A good example is by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa in his Three Books of Occult Philosophy in which the image is described as “A man with his hands raised, with a crown on his head, and the form of a man angry and threatening. In his right hand he has a drawn sword and in the left a round shield.”  The power given to this image by Agrippa is that “It has the significations over hidden quarrels, unknown victories, over vile men, and occasions of lawsuits and battles.”  Fascinatingly to me, despite the wide use of images associated with conflict and fierceness across a wide variety of texts, the fragmentary Hellenistic text the 36 Airs of the Zodiac gave the Leo II decan to Isis, the great Goddess of Love, Devotion, Healing, and Magic.

In case you wonder why I am including here references to images associated with the Leo II decan found in ancient magical texts, it is because I feel there is a resonance between them and the current events we will experience when Venus stations direct in the Leo II decan at the beginning of September.  Following Venus stationing direct, we will feel a stronger push from inside to go after what we value and feel we are worth, as we settle into the energy of Venus direct as a Morning Star in Leo.  As Leo is known for creating drama and assertively standing up for itself and others when brought into conflict, the fierce figures found in the old images of this decan make sense from the standpoint that we will have regenerated an impassioned sense of authenticity from the retrograde journey of Venus that we will want to have the freedom to begin to express into our environment and relationships.  The divine figure of Isis being also associated with this decan brings the added meaning that this new authentic self-worth we develop from this Venus retrograde will involve the healing of past soul fragmentation so that we feel more whole and better able to act in accordance with genuine inner values through our personality.  As Austin Coppock summarized about the Leo II decan in 36 Faces:

This decan holds within it the magical power of authenticity- here defined as a harmonious connection between the external sphere in which one acts and the spirit fire within each individual.  The alchemical process necessary to achieve this power is work upon the persona or ego which mediates the spirit and what the world sees. Once the persona has become suitable to transmit the spirit’s impetus, a fierce and potent authenticity is born.  (p. 129)

Indeed, no matter what circles of drama or conflict we become drawn into during this Venus retrograde, in totality the tension and strife will demand that we transform the impetus of our personality to fit in with the values of others around us into a burning purpose from within that will give us the ability to more directly express our true nature and values into the world around us.

Anahita on Lion

Image of Anahita on Lion

References

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

Ebertin, Reinhold. (1973). Fixed Stars and their Interpretation. Ebertin-Verlag.

Greer, John Michael and Warnock, Chris. (2010 – 2011).  Translation of The Picatrix: Liber Atratus Edition. Adocentyn Press.

Massey, Anne. (2006). Venus: Her Cycles, Symbols, & Myths. Llewellyn.

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

Wolkstein, Diane and Kramer, Samuel N. (1983).  Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth. Harper & Row.

Venus in Leo

Venus in Leo Bastet

“Aegis” of Egyptian goddess Bastet, 9th-8th Century BC

Venus in Leo

Venus in Leo has claimed center stage in our sky at night as she should, brilliantly radiating at her maximum elongation from the Sun over the past few days.  Venus in Leo is on her way toward a conjunction with Jupiter in Leo, and these two beautiful lights will be getting closer and closer each night, finally uniting at the Full Moon in Capricorn on July 1, 2015.  Leo is an elegantly brazen place of residence for Venus, and so her dance with Jupiter over this next month will encourage us to ignite with passionate purpose from within and confidently express our own unique style of creativity in our environment.  We have a long time to work with Venus in the fixed, fiery sign of Leo as Venus will be in Leo for the next four months save for the period of July 19 -31 when Venus will enter Virgo and station retrograde.  Venus will be retrograde, mostly in Leo,  from July 25 until September 6 and will not leave the Venus retrograde “shadow zone” until October 9, 2015 when Venus re-enters the sign of Virgo at last (Venus enters the “retrograde shadow zone” on the Solstice of June 21, 2015 when it crosses over 14 degrees of Leo).

Anahita on Lion as Venus in Leo

Anahita on lion

As Leo is ruled by the Sun, those born with Venus in Leo have their solar soul purpose intimately linked to all things Venusian.  Celebrities with Venus in Leo include Madonna, Michael Jackson, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Tim Burton, Stanley Kubrick, Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Greta Garbo, Alfred Hitchcock, Andy Warhol, Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Michelle Williams, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Tobey Maguire, Daniel Radcliffe, Mother Teresa, and the 14th Dalai Lama. Star power can radiate from natives with Venus in Leo like beams of light, and there is a penchant for grand gestures and drama.   Perhaps the Leo in the Venus of these natives likes getting attention, but the attention Venus in Leo attracts has less to do with attention seeking and more to do with authentic allure and magnetism that flows with scintillating vibrations from them.

By Transit, Venus in Leo tends to spark inspirational thoughts and desire to actualize our creativity in everything from our daily tasks to projects associated with our life’s work. As Venus in Leo will form a square or an opposition to any planets one possesses in the other fixed signs (Scorpio, Aquarius, Taurus), Venus in Leo also tends to shake up places that have become stagnant through resisting change in favor of the comfort of stability.  As Venus in Leo forms a sextile to the signs of Gemini and Libra, and a trine to the signs of Aries and Sagittarius, if you have planets in these signs you can look forward to Venus enlivening your experience with stimulating impulses toward intensifying growth in whatever astrological significations are activated.  Venus in Leo brings inner awareness of the fertile potential we each possess, and lights a burning desire to actualize our creative gifts into the world around us.

Sekhmet as Venus in Leo

Sekhmet from the Sanctuary of Khonsu Temple in the Precinct of Amun-Re at Karnak Temple

The Egyptian goddess Sekhmet is a compelling mythic figure to contemplate in relation to Venus in Leo.  Sekhmet in myth can be a fierce and wrathful goddess, but she also seems to be a regenerative one whose fire burns away the inessential in preparation for a rebirth.  Though she is linked in myth to mass destruction and warfare, she also has a strong connection to healing as her son Nefer-Tem is a god of healing and she also had significations and names directly evoking medicine.  Sekhmet is primordial and one of the most powerful goddesses in all pantheons.  As Leo is ruled by the Sun, and the Sun in astrology is said to have an all-pervading power that can overwhelm any planets that go under it’s beams or combust, Sekhmet similarly signifies the celestial fire of the Sun that can weaken and destroy, or heal and stimulate.   Sekhmet wears a solar disk with a serpentine uraeus that further connects her with kundalini energetic awakenings, the divine rulership of pharaohs, and the judgement of souls commonly connected with the goddess Ma’at.

Likewise Leo is a limitless placement for Venus in the sense that Venus in Leo knows no limits, roaring in the face of any source of limitation.  Venus in Leo does what she pleases, and never asks permission for what she can or cannot do- she simply, confidently does.  As we will have a stronger pull than normal to activate what we sense is our creative destiny with Venus in Leo, we need to realize that when we do not receive the attention we feel is our deserved due that we can become angry on the one hand, withdrawn on the other hand.  Venus in Leo is ambitious, yet we must monitor feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy that could come up if we feel we are not being given positive validation tantamount to the level of ambition we were aiming for.  With Venus in Leo getting closer and closer to Jupiter in Leo each day in the month ahead, it is imperative for each of us to make choices each day to actualize whatever we feel strong desire to create from within.  In the end, being brave enough to manifest our creative purpose in our surroundings is much more important than whether or not we receive the amount of acclaim we were hoping for or perfectly manifest material in accordance with our idealized intentions.  A lot can shift once Venus goes retrograde at the end of July, and so this is an ideal time to set intentions and initiate action while Venus is direct and shining with the most brilliant light of her cycle at night.

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini Dream Shifting

A Measure of Dreams (1908) by Arthur B. Davies

—When I die, I will see the lining of the world.

The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.

The true meaning, ready to be decoded.

What never added up will add up,

What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.

−And if there is no lining to the world?

If a thrush on a branch is not a sign,

But just a thrush on the branch?  If night and day

Make no sense following each other?

And on this earth there is nothing except this earth?

−Even if that is so, there will remain

A word wakened by lips that perish,

A tireless messenger who runs and runs

Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies,

And calls out, protests, screams.

Czeslaw Milosz (1991) MEANING

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini

On May 18, a day after a New Moon in Taurus, we enter the second of our thrice yearly Mercury retrograde spells, this one occurring in Gemini.  As the Mercury retrograde periods in 2015 all occur in Air signs, this chapter is significant for being in the mutable sign of Gemini where Mercury makes its home and lifts our minds with winds of inspired language.  Mercury retrogrades are not a time to fear, though being aware that Mercury is setting a different tempo can help us orient to how to make productive use of its potential.  When Mercury appears to move backward from our perspective during its retrograde, it is closer in orbit to us and creates the effect of moving slower.  In correspondence, we gain access to a more magical perception that can decode messages from symbolic patterns in our daily experience.  Following Mercury’s retrograde station, Mercury disappears from our view of it hovering over our horizon and moves into the underworld and the role of guiding us into pivotal inner insights of soul.  In Gemini, Mercury plays up his mischievous trickster side that unveils the folly of those taking themselves too seriously, as well as amplifies our capacity to synthesize a multiplicity of perspectives, philosophies, and observations into shared meaning and unified vision.

Muse,
sing Hermes,
son of Zeus and Maia . . .
. . . [Maia] produced her child,
the very crafty,
the super-subtle
Hermes:
thief,
cattle-rustler,
carrier of dreams,
secret agent,
prowler,
and soon to show his stuff

–from the Homeric Hymn to Hermes

Mercury is the in-between archetype capable of seeing both sides of a duality, while mediating the tension of opposites in order to unify meaning.  Mercury in Gemini has been stereotyped as scattered and distracted, yet this curious mental quality continually finds new connections between concepts superficially viewed as disparate.  Mercury is a phallic god of fertility with a fully developed femininity that can take it beyond gender categories, a networker in the upper world of matter who can descend into the underworld and guide souls toward their next incarnation.  There is a depth to Mercury retrograde that is simultaneously full of humorous and serious exploration.  No one in society can escape the tricks Mercury plays, whether they be the chief executive of a large corporation hoarding societal rewards or an alienated, unemployed drifter struggling to survive from day to day.  When Mercury strikes with his flash of light and clever grin, the joke he pulls on you holds a profound lesson to glean in meaning.

This youthfully handsome, friendly, and thievish guide, who possesses magical golden shoes that transport him over earth and sea and a magical staff with which he puts people to sleep and awakens them again- has he not all the characteristics and attributes of a seductive and lethal guide of souls, the gentle Psychopompos of the later monuments?

–Karl Kerenyi (p. 28) Hermes: Guide of Souls

During this Mercury retrograde from 14° to 5° Gemini, one of the most significant themes is the unveiling of the archetype of Neptune in Pisces.  A little over a week before stationing retrograde, Mercury in Gemini formed a square to Neptune in Pisces, and during it’s retrograde phase Mercury will square Neptune again, ultimately stationing direct in range of a square to Neptune.  The day after Mercury stations direct at 5° Gemini, Neptune will station retrograde at 10° Pisces, leading to Mercury creating a third square with a retrograde Neptune in Pisces after moving direct again. Since Neptune in Pisces represents our collective tapestry of consciousness and the unconscious, the square from Mercury in Gemini can lead us to penetrate into the connective details found in the interwoven threads of meaning within the Neptunian fabric surrounding us.  If we open ourselves to the possibility of shifting our future visions, we can experience a re-alignment that sheds what has been disillusioning and re-centers us on the dreams that are most deeply felt and authentic.

As Mercury is also a boundary marker whose presence at entryways and borders is especially illuminated during Mercury retrograde time periods, it is further significant that Saturn, the planet of boundaries, is also retrograde when Mercury shifts direction and in range of an opposition to both the Sun and Mars.  This very same sense of restriction we could feel from Saturn toward the Sun and Mars at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde is the very fuel Mercury will consume in order to stimulate our thoughts beyond previous limitations:

Archetypally, we can see in the image of Hermes a mythical statement of the psyche’s innate tendency to give definition to perceptual and mental horizons, to mark edges, to define spaces. Originally Hermes stood at the edge of known space . . . His sign marked the limit of consciousness. Beyond the boundary lies the unknown, the uncanny, the dangerous, the unconscious. When markers are created and limits set, however, curiosity and explorativeness are also excited and new spaces for exploration and discovery invite the bold and courageous traveler. If Hermes marks the boundary between conscious and unconscious, we have to realize that this boundary is always shifting and in flux; it is mercurial. Background and foreground may instantaneously reverse too, and generate new perceptions, novel insights.

Within the area of the known, containers take shape which are reserved for specific types of human activity, while beyond them lies the “other,” the foreign (even if only temporarily), the taboo, the forbidden, the unclean. Hermes standing at the boundary marks a psychological and sometimes a moral limit and calls special attention to the space being entered or left. When he first appears, he may create a new space by dividing a vast horizon into the “here” and the “beyond,” and thus he creates both consciousness and a new unconscious. His intervention in the perceptual and psychological field creates new possibilities for consciousness, also new edges and boundaries beyond which lie the mysterious “others.” When he disappears, there is a loss of identity and definition.

— Murray Stein from Hermes and the Creation of Space (1999)

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini passage

Two Trees (1875) by Odilon Redon

When I ran barefoot in our gardens by the river Niewiaza

Something was there, that I didn’t then try to name:

Everywhere, between the trunks of linden trees, on the sunny side of the lawn, on the path by the orchard.

A Presence resided, I didn’t know whose.

The air was full of it, it touched me, it held me close.

It spoke to me through the scents of grass, the flute voice of the oriole, the twitter of swallows.

Had I then been taught the names of gods, I would easily have known their faces.

But I grew up in a Catholic family, and so my surroundings were soon teeming with devils, but also with the saints of the Lord.

Yet in truth I felt their Presence, all of them, gods and demons,

As if rising within one enormous unknowable Being.

Czeslaw Milosz (2002) PRESENCE 

Once Mercury has stationed retrograde he ushers us into a darker, deeper, underworld phase of our path, a stage during which our Mercurial perceptions function most strongly with intuition and symbolic awareness of patterns perceived in our journeys by day as well as at night in our dreams.  We enter a liminal space of shifting speed that slows things down enough to take in a deeper examination of the underlying patterns we have been living from.  This is a time in which our minds can be more free than normal to take in new insight, and we can ultimately emerge from the period with a revitalized perception.  In a Mercury retrograde it matters less that you have constructed a rationally balanced argument to support your position, and matters more that you have described your perspective with poetic imagery that can strike at the hearts of your audience.

Mercury retrograde is also a time of synchronicity, and in this way we are fortunate that this Mercury retrograde in Gemini begins with the Moon applying to a conjunction with Mercury in the sign of the Twins.  The Moon uniting with Mercury at the beginning of the retrograde increases our capacity to orient ourselves to the changes that will be coinciding with the Mercury retrograde and to begin to attune to the meaning that will be taking shape for us.  There is also an expansive quality to the stationing of Mercury found in the sextile between Mercury and Jupiter in Leo, and since Jupiter in Leo is also in trine to Uranus in Aries it signifies that this coming Mercury retrograde could coincide with dramatic breakthroughs in thought that take us to a new level of thinking in whatever realm we have been exploring.  The less we can be tied and bound to rigid, fixed belief systems, and the more we can liberate ourselves from past dogmatic thinking, the better we will be able to access the potential of this Mercury retrograde that appears to be very impressive in the field of creative thought and communication.

The Sun and Mars joining Mercury in Gemini is another important theme, and at the beginning of the Mercury retrograde the Sun and Mars are in range of an opposition to Saturn retrograde in Sagittarius, with Mars separating from an opposition to Saturn and the Sun applying to an opposition with Saturn.  Mars in Gemini is full of mental activity, and it’s inquisitive nature could spark us to intellectually challenge authorities in our field of interest.  Since Saturn in Sagittarius is retrograde, we could experience a de-conditioning from belief systems that have not been authentically resonant for us through exploring exciting new sources of knowledge.  As Mars separates from it’s opposition to Saturn it will begin to form an exact square with Neptune in Pisces, and so this tension can compel us to go deeper into metaphysical study of our subject.  In particular, the combination of Mercury retrograde in Gemini uniting with Mars direct in Gemini will feed our ability to create new categories and definitions of meaning that will both expand and intensify any subject we sustain focus on.  If we are full of hubris or living in an illusion, the square between Mars in Gemini and Neptune in Pisces could result in a great Mercury retrograde joke being played on us that reveals the foolishness of our ways.

Also during the initial phase of Mercury retrograde, transiting Venus in Cancer will claim center stage by triggering the Uranus and Pluto square with an opposition to Pluto in Capricorn and a square to Uranus in Aries.  These stressful, growth-oriented aspects to Venus will give Mercury retrograde a lot of material to work with, and if you are a writer there could be incredible depth to access and process through your craft.  Venus triggering the Pluto and Uranus square will uncover our emotional needs and insecurities we have been overcompensating for in one way or another.  Significant memories could arise to process that connect back to any point within the series of seven squares between Pluto and Uranus that have been in range since 2011.  This is fortuitous in both the healing and creative realms, as memory is a fertile source from which the Mercury retrograde can weave new meaning from the release of old thought forms.  The connection between Mercury with memory and creativity can be found in the Homeric hymn to Hermes, where it is revealed that Hermes is a follower of the Titaness of memory, and mother of muses, Mnemosyne:

Suddenly [Hermes] started playing the lyre
louder, reciting a prelude-
and the sound accompanying him
was lovely-
about the immortal gods
and the dark earth,
how they were in the beginning,
and what prerogatives each one had.
And the first of the gods
that he commemorated with his song
was Mnemosyne, Mother of Muses,
for the son of Maia
was a follower of hers.

–from the Homeric Hymn to Hermes

Mercury Retrograde Inferior Conjunction

Vision (1883) by Odilon Redon

That boundless substance,

different, in any case, from

the flight of a crane, the gait of a tiger,

the underwater gambols of sperm whales.

In dreams I saw cities of gas and metal,

unceasing fabric of the mind.

Music of the spheres, music of violins and flutes.

That, which endures,

while they are born and die.

Higher than the blind energies of matter,

higher than currents running in the body

of eel, piranha, shark, so they may open

their jaws and devour their catch.

A temple full of little gods and demons,

with a vast number of nicknames and tails.

Czeslaw Milosz (2003)

The Inferior Conjunction of Mercury and the Sun in Gemini, the point of conception for a freshly synthesized vision, occurs at 9:56 am Pacific Standard Time on May 30, 2015 at nine degrees of Gemini.  Gemini is one of the mutable, double-bodied signs, perhaps through the image of the twins being the most exemplary sign of the human tendency toward dualistic thinking.  Just like the heaven of connecting with another human we consider to be a kindred spirit, soul mate, twin flame, . . . etc . . . it can be the deeply felt experience of our own personal patterns being mirrored back to us through another that sparks an epiphany of self-realization, and demonstrates how the interplay between twins can coalesce transcendent thought.  At the inferior conjunction we have a magical moment to achieve a one-pointed focus of the unity that holds duality within it, that bridges a multiplicity of meaning to a unified perspective, and that guides us into an insightful realization about our soul and associated patterns.  This is a time to meditate or surrender to Hermes the Psychopomp, as we allow the message of the moment to soak into our core and revivify our perception.

The Sabian Symbol for 9° Gemini where Mercury’s inner union with the Sun occurs is “A QUIVER FILLED WITH ARROWS,” and fittingly had a double meaning to Dane Rudhyar.  On the lower level, this symbol represents the human capacity “to extend the scope of his conquest of nature and kill enemies in order to build a larger base for the collective development of a culture and an organized society” (p. 95).  Since a quiver of arrows suggests the existence of a target to aim at, this symbol also represents the penetrating potential of the human mind to go through the target toward which it aims, destroying the obstacles on its path.  At a higher level, Rudhyar likened this symbol to the “Zen practice of archery” in which “the obstacle is the ego” (p. 95).  The unifying concept of this symbol to Rudhyar is “CONQUEST,” whether it is applied to conquering the external world or the restrictive influence of the ego on our inner world. During this Mercury retrograde, it is best to remember Rudhyar’s conjecture of conquest, as the moment our ego grabs hold of us in order to win a debate at all costs, is the moment that the staff of Hermes could suddenly strike and enfold us in a joke of which we are the punchline.  The more we can sustain a collaborative, creative air between us and those holding sharply contrasting opinions, we will be better able to avoid the pitfalls of dispute that stresses more so than enlivens.  The inspiring potential we find here is that by listening to opinions coming from drastically different perceptions to our own, we can fertilize tremendous growth of knowledge from within.

With the Sun and Mercury exactly conjunct in Gemini and in square to Neptune in Pisces, with Mars in Gemini in sextile to Jupiter in Leo and Uranus in Aries, we have a regenerating, liberating well to drink from within us even though the current events dominating the global stage are filled with instability, violence, discord, and oppression.  An image that comes to my mind in association with the strong Gemini energy of the Sun, Mercury retrograde, and Mars is that of a WITNESS to life in all of its complex depth, a witness who is then willing to serve as a messenger to inform the surrounding society about what is going on in secrecy behind the proverbial locked doors Mercury can open for us.  When we express the full story we are witnessing within and around us, we beam our light into the collective matrix and move others with the emotive, wakening wind of Mercury.

“World” can be a comprehensive idea if as an autonomous entirety it accommodates the observer as if he were moving about in the world he normally is surrounded by.  The world of the Iliad or that of the Odyssey accommodates us in this way.  Every such world, however, is at the same time a worked-out idea of the world that existed already prior to this expression of it and that lent itself to the finished expression of the idea.  There can be no “world”- even if it is the purely spiritual epiphany of an intellectually luminous god- which is not “worldly,” that is, which does not function as a space to contain the content of the revelation in a fitting way.  If a god is “idea” and “world,” he remains nonetheless in connection with the world that contains all such “worlds”; he can be only an “aspect of the world” while the world of which he is an aspect possesses such idea-aspects. Indeed, it has the ability to shine forth in its totality as idea, it possesses the light of the idea, and is itself in its own way lighted and clear . . . “Light” and “clear” in the sense of “world-like” – and therefore convincing – could also be the idea of Hermes.

— Karl Kerenyi (p. 69) Hermes:  Guide of Souls

Mercury Retrograde in Gemini stationing direct

Germination by Odilon Redon (1890-96)

To find my home in one sentence, concise, as if hammered in metal. Not to enchant anybody. Not to earn a lasting name in prosperity. An unnamed need for order, for rhythm, for form, which three words are opposed to chaos and nothingness.

Czeslaw Milosz (1981-1983)

After Mercury separates from its inner merging with the Sun, the Sun moves on to initiate a conjunction with Mars in Gemini, as Mercury begins its shifting ways again and starts to station direct. The Sun conjoining Mars in Gemini constellates images of a warrior of words, a passionate poet, an intellectual activist who refuses to collude with oppressive powers and instead expresses her voice in defiance to surrounding injustice.  The Sun-Mars conjunction in Gemini as Mercury stations direct germinates our desires with inquisitive thoughts that can reveal new meaning for us through the juxtapositions of language and philosophies we encounter.  At the same time the Sun and Mars are coming together in Gemini, Mercury is stationing direct in range of a square to Neptune that is also stationing retrograde simultaneously.  We have had four years so far to experience the meaning of Neptune in Pisces by transit, and in the first couple of weeks in June 2015 we can receive illumination of any Neptunian illusions that have been sourcing our conditioned beliefs.  As an illusion of Neptune is unveiled, in the winged steps of Mercury we will be able to experience a sharper sense of clarity and direction to follow forward.

In this final phase of the Mercury retrograde cycle in Gemini, one of the most significant transits is the ingress of Venus into the fiery, solar sign of Leo during the first week of June.  Venus in Leo ignites a creative actualization of the mental contents the Mercury retrograde has been brewing, and by the time Mercury stations direct Venus in Leo will have passed through a beautiful sextile to Mercury in Gemini.  There is a potent re-integration available at this upcoming stationing direct of Mercury at five degrees of Gemini, that can unbind and untether us from restrictive thought patterns.  This potential release can be seen in the transits of the Moon conjoining Uranus in Aries at the time of Mercury stationing direct, with the Moon-Uranus conjunction in Aries being in sextile to the Sun-Mars conjunction in Gemini and in trine to the Jupiter-Juno conjunction in Leo.  Within this magical mix of astrological aspects, Mercury will arise from the underworld at dawn and with a flash of light illuminate our waking horizon as our Morning Star again.

Hermes, draw near, and to my pray’r incline,
Angel of Jove, and Maia’s son divine;
Prefect of contest, ruler of mankind,
With heart almighty, and a prudent mind.
Celestial messenger of various skill,
Whose pow’rful arts could watchful Argus kill.
With winged feet ’tis thine thro’ air to course,
Emblems of Mercury O friend of man, and prophet of discourse;
Great life-supporter, to rejoice is thine
In arts gymnastic, and in fraud divine.
With pow’r endu’d all language to explain,
Of care the loos’ner, and the source of gain.
Whose hand contains of blameless peace the rod,
Corucian, blessed, profitable God.
Of various speech, whose aid in works we find,
Emblems of Mercury And in necessities to mortals kind.
Dire weapon of the tongue, which men revere,
Be present, Hermes, and thy suppliant hear;
Assist my works, conclude my life with peace,
Give graceful speech, and memory’s increase.

–from the Orphic Hymn translated from the Greek by Thomas Taylor (1824)

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MercuryInferiorConjunctWRIGC1A

MercuryStationDirectWRIGC3

References

Kerenyi, Karl. (1976). Hermes: Guide of Souls. Spring Publications.

Milosz, Czeslaw. (2011). Selected and Last Poems, 1931-2004. HarperCollins.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1974). An Astrological Mandala: the cycle of transformations and its 360 symbolic phases. Vintage.

Stein, Murray. (1999).  Hermes and the Creation of Space.

Taurus Full Moon

full moon etching claude mellan

Full Moon engraving by Claude Mellan (1635) Paris

We say it is human nature to be attached, thinking of the bond between the mother and the child she births, the parents who focus on nurturing the development of the human being birthed into the world through their merging.  Yet although attachment and connectivity is a primal urge of humanity, there are many people who are abandoned, neglected, or abused as children, and do not experience an opportunity for full bonding with a parent.  This and other societal ills link to the separation polarizing our attachment, the separation we experience being released from our mother’s womb and ensuing need for bonding with someone or something in our environment.  The sign of Taurus connects to our hunger for security, and the forms of attachment we engage to feel secure and stable in an ever changing reality.  We become attached to ideas and feelings as well, thoughts and sensations that give us comfort, irregardless of whether or not our fixation on them is in our best interest.  For example, we can become attached to being depressed, attached to avoiding our passion, attached to numbing our pain and emotions through drugs, attached to escaping reality through popular culture, attached to being in denial of what will bring us happiness, attached to a life leaving us essentially unfulfilled.  Today we can see around us people more attached to their electronic connection to the world-wide web than their physical surroundings, parents fixated on their “screen connections” instead of their connection to the needs of their child.

We now experience a Taurus full Moon, the full phase of the lunar cycle that began with a solar eclipse in Scorpio aligned with Venus as well as Mercury stationing direct in the sign of the scales ruled by Venus.  No doubt if you like to read astrology posts on social media, you are hearing a lot about “integrating your authentic values” for this Taurus full Moon, and it is true that the Taurus archetype helps us find internal worth and stability instead of grasping for it in the external world.  However, in light of the Scorpio eclipse and Mercurial shifting that began this lunation cycle, this is an opportune moment to question why you think the “authentic values” that come to mind for you are the genuine article.  Be willing to question everything during the full light of this Taurus Moon, and you will open yourself to letting go and releasing the values that you have led yourself to believe in the past are essential to your nature.  Are they really?  What signs and symbols in your environment since Mercury stationed direct have emerged to give you guidance?  Who or what is getting in your face begging you to give second thought to your absolute fixation on having this or that particular value or attachment in your daily life?  If we can gain clarity for the real deal, the true values that will bring us genuine happiness and wealth, then going forward we can intend to ruminate our thoughts, circulate our feelings around desires arising from these values.  A lot of unconscious material could have been stirred up in the solar eclipse at our last new Moon, so keep in mind it is worthwhile to give further thought to what exactly “happiness” and “wealth” actually mean for you, as opposed to what you have gotten used to thinking they mean in your past.

Reflection

Reflection by Karena Karras

Venus has not yet finished her underworld journey in Scorpio, and is getting closer each day to a union with Saturn that will occur on November 12: there will be crucial lessons to be uncovered within during this closing week of their cycle.  This heavy Scorpio pull into our depths is an intense facilitator for a pivotal aspect of this Full Moon:  the balsamic conjunction between Mars and Pluto in Capricorn.  Mars and Pluto will begin a new cycle in Capricorn on November 10, so this Taurus and Scorpio full lunation is illuminating our experiences with desire and the degree to which we have integrated the conscious and unconscious sides of our nature in the past two year cycle of Pluto and Mars.  In union the combined message is to courageously go deep within to sense what brings us alive with passion and joy, beyond the limitations and guarding of repression, guilt, and fear of judgment or abandonment.  The Capricorn archetype also links to the conditioning of our parents and surrounding culture from birth, and the manner in which our sense of self learned to adapt to find a sense of security and attachment within the values and expectations of our early environment.  In order to harmonize with the values or expectations cherished by our parents or surrounding culture, many of us adapt our personality interacting in the external world to an external conditioning that is not wholly connected to the internal conditions necessary for us to feel wholly passionate and joyful.

Our desires that come from Soul and connected with Self are too strong to completely repress, however, and so many of us learn to pursue our essential inner desires in secret.  Out of this fear of external judgment, we set up a dichotomy of acting in the culturally acceptable way in the outer world to gain acceptance, while inwardly or in secret we follow the desires burning from within and demanding expression. As Carl Jung and others have noted, when we completely ignore or deny our burning inner desires, these unconscious forces can erupt in our lives in the form of crises demanding that we finally pay attention.  Within the sixth of the seven ripening squares between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn, this Full Moon in Taurus illuminating our interplay between the depth of Venus-Saturn and Mars-Pluto holds the potential for us to re-source our desire nature to reveal our whole Will we have previously given away to others, including outside power structures.

Furthermore, there are additional strong aspects from Leo to the Scorpio and Taurus activated at this Full Moon, with Jupiter in Leo in square to Saturn and Venus in Scorpio, and Juno in Leo in square to the Sun in Scorpio and Moon in Taurus.  In combination with the closing cycles of Venus and Saturn in Scorpio, and Mars and Pluto in Capricorn, we can receive a message of how we have attempted to compensate for our fear of abandonment and separation by grasping for control over whatever we can control, whether that be people, non-human material, or thoughts.  A Taurus Full Moon invites us into the realm of Venus and what will bring us authentic pleasure and joy in our body.  Instead of remaining fixated on what you thought was bringing you happiness in the past, this Full Moon of Venus asks you to open to what is bringing you joy and happiness in the ever evolving moment, and to follow it.  Part of this is taking the risk to be vulnerable, part of this is expressing our needs to others and taking our essential needs seriously instead of a need to find acceptance in the dominant cultural paradigm.  Within what we previously thought would hold our disempowerment we may find what will make us feel powerful, while within what we previously thought was bringing us power we may realize was leading to our disempowerment.

The strong Leo energy interacting with the rest of the aspects of this Full Moon means there is something to be revealed about our personal destiny going forward if we are willing to listen.  This is not a time to feel guilty about the past or past decisions, but rather to reflect instead on modifications we can make in our life going forward that have been revealed to us through this past reflection.  This Full Moon aligns in the tropical zodiac with the cross-quarter holy days that occur in the middle of the fixed signs:  in the Southern Hemisphere this Full Moon is embedded within the blossoming of Full Spring, in the Northern Hemisphere this Full Moon lays within the clearing of Full Fall.  Open up the desires from within you have locked away, and there will be an opportunity to integrate these passions into manifestation in your future daily life.

sengai autumn moon

Sengai, Autumn Moon

Finally, with the North Node in Libra and Mercury moving direct again at the end of Libra, near the point of its inferior conjunction of the Sun, I would like to share a text I feel is connected to our current nodal axis of Uranus being conjunct the South Node in Aries, the North Node being in Libra, and the nodal rulers Mars and Venus entering into and out of intense dynamics.  The following is from The Chalice and The Blade by Riane Eisler that was published during the shifting times of the late 1980s, and connects to the dominant cultural paradigm many human beings have been attached to for centuries:

One result of re-examining human society from a gender-holistic perspective has been a new theory of cultural evolution. This theory, which I have called Cultural Transformation theory, proposes that underlying the great surface diversity of human culture are two basic models of society.

The first, which I call the dominator model, is what is popularly termed either patriarchy or matriarchy-  the ranking of one half of humanity over the other.  The second, in which social relations are primarily based on the principle of linking rather than ranking, may best be described as the partnership model.  In this model- beginning with the most fundamental difference in our species, between male and female- diversity is not equated with either inferiority or superiority.

While there is much more to this idea than the above quote, it goes to the heart of realizations that we can find in our daily interactions in our external environment and internal mind.  Namely, moving away from a focus on a need for power over something to a focus on the power that can be found in between authentic partnership.

TaurusFullMoonWRIGC1

Mystery of Stillness

Chrysopoea_of_Cleopatra_1

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

n

OthI

n

g can

s

urPas

s

the m

y

SteR

y

of

s

tiLnes

s

— e.e. cummings

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

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

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

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

MercuryDirectWRIGC1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chrysopoea_of_Cleopatra_4

Chrysopoea of Cleopatra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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page 54 in Carl Jung’s Liber Novus

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

Amen, you are the lord of the beginning.

Amen, you are the star of the East.

Amen, you are the flower that blooms over everything.

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

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

Amen, you are the beginning and the end.

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

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

–Carl Jung

References

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

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

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

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

Maat in the Heart of Mercury

Maat

Maat

The Inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun on October 16, 2014 is in the sign of Libra and conjunct Venus, evoking Maat through the added atmosphere of the Goddess (Venus) and the Scales (Libra) of Balance, Law, and Justice.  In Egyptian mythology, the god Thoth is associated with Mercury, and Maat is the goddess corresponding to Thoth, the beloved daughter of the sun god Ra who undertook the work of creation along with Thoth.  There were only two deities who stood on either side of the boat of Ra:  Thoth and Maat, and Maat’s presence was intrinsic to the daily regeneration of Ra, the Sun.  Maat wore an ostrich feather in her hair, the feather a symbol of “maat,” an ineffable word that had associations with genuineness, authenticity, truth, and being “real.”  This being a time of Mercury retrograde, and Mercury being the trickster transgressor of boundaries, we also want to be aware of how the additional link between Maat and concepts like righteousness and unalterable morality can trick us at times into thinking that we are in the right, when in actuality we have not deeply explored ourselves to the necessary extent to truly understand our truth.

The inferior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun is a magic moment of soul, and the center of the Mercury retrograde cycle we are experiencing from Scorpio to Libra and back to Scorpio again.  This “inferior” conjunction of Mercury is like an “interior” alignment of Mercury with the Sun from our perspective on Earth, as Mercury appears to move in reverse into the Sun in between our orbit and the great light of our solar system. This is a moment in which Hermes transmits a message from Spirit to us, as Mercury’s orbit is much closer to the Sun than our orbit on Earth.  We can center at this time as we release old thought patterns, making space for the arising new vision of our life.  This can be a disorienting time, so the symbol of Mercury being in Libra at this time is an apt guide, as we will want to find our focal point of balance in the flow around us.  This is a point of conception to generate what we will birth from our minds in the forthcoming cycle, and we want to keep in mind that Mercury at this point in its retrograde cycle is inwardly directed and more subjectively susceptible to sensing the symbols surrounding us than at other times.  As Venus in Libra and Mercury in Libra are moving toward one another, only a couple degrees apart at the time of the inferior conjunction, reaching their own conjunction a day later, this is also an opportune time to center within our authentic values, releasing what is false in order to embrace our burgeoning truth.

Maat was involved in the judgment of souls, the weighing of hearts at the time of death, as the hearts of the dead were placed on a scale to be balanced with the feather of Maat.  The goal was to have Maat in your heart, to balance the scales and reveal that your voice was true, genuine, and justified.  Now is the time to go within our unconscious, our dream time, our place of centering, so that we can re-emerge into the bustling world from a more authentic place, acting from and speaking our truth.

4 of Swords

IV of Swords by Pamela Colman Smith

The inferior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun will be in the Libra III decan, a decan associated with the 4 of Swords in tarot.  In the image above created by Pamela Colman Smith for the A.E. Waite deck, we can see what looks to be a tomb with a statue of a knight in prayer, under a stained glass window of “PAX” or “peace.”  This image also evokes a pilgrim in meditative silence within a protected, sacred space, and likewise it can help us find our own balance at this time if we can manage to create our own space, or journey somewhere we can find solace in silence.  Since we are in a time of Mercury retrograde, we also can integrate the duality within this image, the concept of peace that necessitates the concept of conflict, the pilgrim/knight in prayer surrounded by swords.  Within the balance of these dualities, we can sense how his positioning is like a re-balancing of the chakras and re-integration of our body and mind, and the sword below him is a tool to be used to cut away the false and inessential in order to reveal our essential and genuine presence that can emerge now.  It also connects to the judgment of Maat at our time of death, the weighing of our heart to reveal if we lived a life in accordance with our soul or not.

In 36 Faces Austin Coppock described Libra III as a decan that “allows one to see through the eye of the storm” through equilibration of movement:

Its secret resides in the eye of the storm, calm and clear as the chaos of desire and fear whirl all about . . . The principle of justice or balance is thus applied constantly to a lop-sided world, one interaction at a time.  Those who enact this formula successfully emanate an aura of order and are themselves a walking corrective . . . The power of this face is to equilibrate unbalanced forces as they are encountered, and to maintain connection to the unmoved center.  It offers the formulae by which equipoise may be maintained in any circumstance- shelter in any storm. (p. 168-70)

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Scarab inscribed Daughter of Re, with Winged Maat; 1479 – 1458 BC; Upper Egypt; Dynasty 18, early; Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Hatshepsut; Metropolitan Museum of Art

Lastly, as we remember the connection between Libra and relationships, the Moon in Leo being conjunct Juno in Leo at the time of the inferior conjunction gives added weight to our relationships being a primal source of lessons for us now.  It may be through our intimate relationships as well as our more ephemeral interactions that we come to important realizations that will help us to release old thought forms in preparation for the new.  I am reminded of this passage I admire from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, in which the main character realizes the gap of understanding between him and his wife of over six years:

Is it possible, finally, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?

We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close are we able to come to that person’s essence?  We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?

I started thinking seriously about such things a week after I quit my job at the law firm.  Never until then-  never in the whole course of my life- had I grappled with questions like this.  And why not?  Probably because my hands had been full just living.  I had simply been too busy to think about myself. (p. 24)

No matter how busy we are, this is a time necessitating deep reflection in order to reap the reward of realization available. This does not mean it will be easy- going into the underworld realm never is, but it has always been the mythic figures consumed with great love and desire for their beloved, like Psyche, Isis, Dionysus, Orpheus, and Persephone, who survive and give birth to new vision from a new sense of self.  We can make a sacred oath and contract with ourselves at this time, to clear what needs clearing and to courageously embody our deepest desires. By doing this work within and nurturing our own needs, we will be able to listen with greater clarity to the needs of others.  There may be hard truths to recognize about ourselves, attachments we have clung to for years that must be let go, but in the end our lives and the lives of the people we are in relationship will be richer for our participation in this time of internal transition guided by Mercury.

Thoth as Ibis with Maat feather

Thoth as the ibis with a Maat feather, 4th Century B.C., Hermopolis, Egypt, Metropolitan Museum of Art

References

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

Murakami, Haruki. (1997).  The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.  Vintage.

Pinch, Geraldine. (2002). Egyptian Mythology: a guide to the gods, goddesses, and traditions of ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press.

Wallis Budge, E.A. (1960). The Book of the Dead. University Books, Inc.

Mercury retrograde: a forest dark in liminal twilight

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Yaroslav Gerzhedovich

“I go along dreaming roads of the twilight”

Antonio Machado

Between thought and expression, between the colors of the sunset and the eye of the beholder, in the liminal light of twilight we feel the atmosphere of Mercury retrograde.  Mercury retrograde is a three week period in which we can surrender to opening our awareness beyond our usual habitual reactions, interfacing with our environment in different ways that surprise us.  Mercury retrograde is the magical air we feel on our skin when we watch the sun disappear on the horizon with shifting hues, the shifting frame of perspective that invites epiphanies.  In astrology, the setting sun is also a symbol for a death of self-absorption through the meeting of another in relationship or partnership.  On October 4, 2014 Mercury will station retrograde at 3° of Scorpio (a sign of soul relationship), and move all the way back to 17° of Libra (a sign of social relations and social justice) on October 25, 2014.  If we include the “shadow zone” before the retrograde station and following the stationing direct, between September 15 and November 10, 2014 Hermes is guiding us to a deepening of self-knowledge through our interactions with our environment and every relationship formed.

Mercury stationing retrograde in Scorpio draws us into a spiral of Desire.  Whether you have or have not already felt yourself pulled into an intense gravity of focus, an object or other drawing forth a surge of yearning from within, it will happen, and it will continue to be felt with expanding intensity in the weeks ahead.  All the consequences of desire, all the lessons learned from wanting something out of reach, the questions dawning once we finally reach, acquire, or merge with our craving, will be part of our experience traversing through not only a Mercury retrograde, but a particularly shattering Lunar Eclipse and Solar Eclipse.  Unless we have somehow done the miraculous work of lining our life up so that we are completely available to the focus of our desire, we will also come across all the limitations and habitual reactions of our past mind-frame restricting our ability to respond fully to the present passion.  If you want to use astrology to help discern the nature of your desire, look in your chart to what house holds the first few degrees of Scorpio, and what aspects these degrees make in your chart.  You can also then move clockwise in your chart to the middle of Libra and see what additional house or aspects in your chart will be further impacted as the Mercury retrograde continues.

Research on habits has supported that the easiest time to break a habit is on vacation.  This theory revolves around the concept that on holiday in a new environment, all the familiar surroundings we partially fixate our identity around are gone, the triggers of our habit have been removed, and we are more vulnerable to initiating a new pattern of behavior.  This same concept goes well with Mercury retrograde:  even though all of our usual triggers will still be in place, the atmosphere invites a different response to them. Additionally, as this retrograde cycle is initiated in Scorpio, there is potential for a death of old reactive patterns.  Scorpio has the courage to enter the darkness where the past can be felt to our deepest core, without our usual defense mechanisms operating in the light of day.  In this darkness our inability to possess or be present with the desire we yearn for burns from within with such magnitude that a release of past attachments can occur that ultimately opens us up to the real possibility of having or merging with our desire in the future. In Scorpio, the phoenix pulls us through the fear of abandonment, the terror of the focus of our past sense of security being destroyed, and Mercury stationing here facilitates the integration of the dualities within us like the light and the dark, the conscious and unconscious, in order to synthesize the birth of a new identity or presence in the world.

Virginia Woolf contemplated this same concept when she wrote, “The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be, I think,” in a journal entry on January 18, 1915.  This journal entry of Woolf’s was analyzed in a lovely essay by Rebecca Solnit entitled Woolf’s Darkness: Embracing the Inexplicableas well as the following:

The evening hour, too, gives us the irresponsibility which darkness and lamplight bestow. We are no longer quite ourselves. As we step out of the house on a fine evening between four and six, we shed the self our friends know us by and become part of that vast republican army of anonymous trampers, whose society is so agreeable after the solitude of one’s own room. For there we sit surrounded by objects which enforce the memories of our own experience. But when the door shuts on us, all that vanishes. The shell-like covering which our souls have excreted to house themselves, to make for themselves a shape distinct from others, is broken, and there is left of all these wrinkles and roughnesses a central pearl of perceptiveness, an enormous eye.   —Virginia Woolf

This idea Virginia Woolf journaled about, that to close the door on the attachment of our possessions, to walk the streets in twilight among strangers, is an opening of our personality to the limitless depth of soul.  Mercury retrograde is likewise an opportunity to go for an evening walk under a canopy of dark trees, above a network of deep roots, into an awakening of who we are and where we desire to go.

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Yaroslav Gerzhedovich

With those we share our most intimate essence with, there will be a more ardent interchange than usual, leading to an intensification in interaction that could be chaotic yet essentially revealing if we can avoid becoming so wrapped up in melodrama that we block our capacity to discern meaning.  We do not want to be afraid of the dark, because there will be no avoiding the shadow or the dark night of the soul necessary to birth the insight we desperately need to actualize our purest passions.  If there is anything we have been consciously avoiding from past relationships, the time of denial will be over as there will be no escape from suppressed thoughts and feelings emerging that will demand our attention.

“Love goes toward love” William Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet, and when we fall enflamed in our heart’s rapture, we can feel like Romeo musing about Juliet, that the Other we desire is a “Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!”  It seems that as much as we project and idealize an illusion in romantic folly, we negate a true desire of our soul for a love that terrifies us as much as it enchants our wildest passions.  This is because great love dissolves and destroys our former sense of self, and we change and shift in the embrace of true love.  Or, if we risk taking on the transformation of love, the work needed to sustain a relationship lovingly further challenges our sense of self, as it involves making compromises and listening to the needs of the Other.  We get used to focusing on our old needs like a bad habit, instead of opening to how these needs can shift in every moment, guided by the wholeheartedness of desire.  Since Mercury retrograde can facilitate shifting habits out of a changing place of perspective, we can realize which relationships we truly desire to focus on going forward, and cultivate the faculty needed for our mind to respond to the arising needs associated with our yearning.

Since Mercury will move from the beginning of Scorpio back into the heart of Libra, and then forward again back into Scorpio, we will feel a surging ebb and flow of subconscious shadow in all of our relationships.  In the eye of the present partner we may catch a glimpse of a childhood emotion, in a conversation with a passing passerby we may hear the echo of an issue that feels like it has been with us for an eternity.  If we open to this process, there is something deep within to unearth through dialogue and attention to the needs of our relationships.  In this way while our desires may be pulling us into a space of new perception, another major meaning of this Mercury retrograde will be Power.  Where, when, and with whom do we feel powerful, where, when, and to whom do we give our power away, and how can we find the balance of feeling secure in our own power yet interacting with others so that we are not overpowering them or projecting our issues of power on to them.

In addition, Mercury stationing at the beginning of Scorpio means that there are three generations of people on our planet right now who may be especially impacted subconsciously:  those with Neptune at the beginning of Scorpio (1956-58), those with Uranus at the beginning of Scorpio (1974-76), and those with Pluto at the beginning of Scorpio (1983-85).  As there will additionally be a potent Solar Eclipse occurring at the end of October in these same degrees, right now with Mercury stationing retrograde at the beginning of Scorpio is a tremendous opportunity to sense what some of the coming changes may center around.

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Yaroslav Gerzehedovich

In the space of retrograde Mercury we can be more sensitive to signs, symbols, and omens in our environment.  While our relationships with other humans will come into play, it will also be about our relationship with the world. The more we take the  “I-Thou” relationship of honoring the soulful nature of everything in our environment, and less the “I-It” relationship of viewing our surroundings as resources to meet our own needs, the more we will be able to recognize and realize the significant meaning this Mercury retrograde is bringing into our life.  There is a good chance we will feel upside down, with our emotions in total disarray as our old identity and attachments dissolve within a liminal state.  In this in-between we can find our way through reading the symbols and signs around us and balance within the flow of the life streaming in front of us.

In the next month there will be obvious events and conversations that we know are pivotal; there will also be less obvious symbols surrounding us with a message to integrate if we keep our awareness open to them.  Let the Mercury retrograde allow information to come in that you would normally rationalize away, and see where it takes you.  Here below is a chart for Mercury stationing retrograde: MercuryRetrogradeWRIGC1 Uranus in Aries being involved in both a grand fire trine with Jupiter in Leo and Mars in Sagittarius, and a t-square with the Sun and Pluto, means that there is something especially Uranian about Mercury stationing retrograde.  This is also a plutonic Mercury full of explosive energy that can blow up our previous perception of our world and what is occurring within it.  Meanwhile, there is also a huge uplifting, dynamic energy that can synthesize meaning from both our impulses and our experience and weave them together into a tapestry that can seemingly transport us into a deeper dimension of perception, not unlike the magic carpets of fairy tales.  The ticket for entry into this process involves a willingness to go into the dark and persist through fears or feelings of dissolution.

Just as Mercury is plutonic now, so is Mars, as the red planet of desire is in a balsamic phase with Pluto. Mars is a centaur bounding forward from a source of strong desire that will help us expand beyond previous confinements created from our conditioned personality.  Yet the expansive energy of Mars in a grand fire trine with Jupiter and Uranus will also be catalyzing us within the fluctuating back and forth of old desires arising to be released or re-integrated as new desires emerge from our inner fire.   With Saturn and Ceres closely conjunct in Scorpio, and Mercury stationing retrograde in Scorpio, our structural source will generate a Mercurial mediation into our depths and the death of an old identification.  This is a time of becoming unbound amid disintegration, as Mars will take us deeper into our desires stirred by a Lunar Eclipse and Solar Eclipse, each of which is further ruled by Mars.  A chart for the Lunar Eclipse in Aries is below, a polarizing lunation in which Uranus is also prominently conjunct the brilliant Moon:

LunarEclipseWRIGC2

Mercury will be descending into the underworld in Scorpio at the Lunar Eclipse, as the eclipse occurs around the time of Mercury’s heliacal set at sunset in which it disappears below the earth, becoming invisible.  This is truly an extraordinary leap of a Lunar Eclipse managed by the structure of Ceres and Saturn united in the fertile darkness of Scorpio.  Fittingly, the timing of this eclipse goes well with this being the initiation of the most magical of all the Mercury phases, the time in which Mercury becomes more of a mystical guide into our inner realm.  This is the phase in which we can be more receptive to signs, omens, and symbols, and we can receive information intuitively more easily than rationally explain anything.  In this time of Mercury as the Magician, Hermes guides us through accumulating and then releasing our old patterns of thought in preparation for a new vision.  I don’t mean to suggest this will be smooth sailing for our Hermetic navigator, however, as Venus in Libra is in a harsh last quarter square to Pluto at this eclipse, adding additional climatic intensity of outer events forcing profound inner reflection.

There is an imaginal link between this Lunar Eclipse and a High Priestess using her Dark Moon envisioning skills within the brilliance of a Full Moon Eclipse.  Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, has a rarely discussed link to the Aries II decan where the Lunar Eclipse is occurring.  In the “Tables of Correspondence” in 36 Faces by Austin Coppock, it is listed that Persephone is the God/Spirit connected to the Aries II decan in the Hellenistic text translated as The 36 Airs of the Zodiac.  Although Persephone is not mentioned in Austin Coppick’s analysis of Aries II, Coppock did give the following description of this decan that is befitting the Queen of Spirit:

Applied magically, this decan has tremendous power. It is the power to generate the world of your choosing, and to be its sovereign.  It is the key to creating pocket realities which do not obey the laws of the collective reality field in which they exist. — Austin Coppock

Eclipses are known to throw everything into disarray, and are not known to be times best for laying carefully designed plans.  Yet this eclipse is so full of break-through aspects and force that it seems an air of liberation will be part of the chaotic atmosphere.  It will be a time of sensing the power within a polarity of feelings, integrating the subconscious with the conscious, and owning our authority to heal the previous fracturing of our soul like Persephone.  This will be a time to believe in our capacity to create a life aligned with our deepest soulful passions more so than the expectations of the consensus reality dominating our environment.

MercuryInferiorConjunctWRIGC1

The inferior conjunction of Mercury is a magical moment in which Mercury aligns with the Sun, in between our orbit and the fiery center of our solar system.  This is a moment in which Hermes transmits a message from Spirit to us, and with Mercury in Libra we will have information to integrate about the Other our Self is in relationship with.  However, Libra is not only about social relations but also social justice.  As usual, there have been many stories involving oppression in the news and many traumatic events occurring around us whose story is untold by anyone other than the participants.  What is frightening about our world is all of the abuse not covered by the media, that people suffer in isolation without anyone to reach out to for help.  I do not mean to suggest that this Mercury inferior conjunction in Libra will be some sort of magic pill to heal all the societal ills in the world, but I do suggest that a window of insight will open giving us a very deep look into the source of our collective trauma and oppression.

Nonetheless, this inferior conjunction will also be about our personal relationships and intimate partnerships, as the Leo Moon will be conjunct Juno and Venus, Mercury, and the Sun will all be conjunct in Libra.  The insight we can gain will have something to do with all of the underworld mythology involving the pursuit of love and desire.  Most of the stories involving a mythic figure being capable of descending to the underworld and back involve the character having such a powerful desire of love that they manage to somehow survive:  Persephone, Psyche, Dionysus, Orpheus, Inanna, Ishtar, and Isis.  We may be rocked and rolled over from where want and lust lead us, or from the desire and passion we attempt to repress or suppress, but in the end there is a more wholehearted sense of self in relationship to gain.

SolarEclipseWRIGC3

This solar eclipse conjunct Venus at the beginning of Scopio is happening close to the same time as the Superior Conjunction of Venus with the Sun.  This is Venus as Inanna following her descent into the underworld, and these Scorpio aspects bring to mind the Dark Goddess who will be with us during an especially intense balsamic moon phase leading up to this solar eclipse.  In contrast to Mercury who is close to rising again at dawn as a morning star, Venus is on her way to becoming an evening star.  The future promise of Venus rising again in our night skies with her brilliant white light is an apt symbol for inspiration that will eventually arise out of our current darkness, no matter the difficulties and disorientation we experience at this time.

Traditionally Mars is also ruling this eclipse, and in modern rulership Pluto in Capricorn is ruling it.  Either way, with Mercury stationing direct in the underworld at this time in Libra, and so ruled by Venus at the heart of her descent, this is a Solar Eclipse taking us into our core inner world.  Change will come from within this core, sourced by our deepest desire, as we begin re-integrating the messages and information received from this Mercury retrograde cycle.  It is an excellent time to set an intention for who and what we want to magnetize and attract into our life going forward from the inner vibration we are cultivating. However, this time will not just be about ourselves and our inner world, as this eclipse has clear aspects indicating a huge impact from the relationships in our life.  Out of the challenging and uplifting experiences of this time, there appears to be a sharper sense of our essential nature to realize and embody.

MercuryDirectWRIGC4

As Mercury finally stations direct, he turns to re-ascend to the upper world as a morning star harbinger of dawn.  Hermes welcomes a new reality for us now, symbolized by Venus in Scorpio entering a new phase with the Sun, symbol of our Spirit. In addition, Pallas Athena in Scorpio remains conjunct Venus as Mercury stations, a sign that we could have greater access than normal to the ingenious insight available from Mercury stationing direct.  The important quality to access the wisdom available here is honesty, and a willingness to take responsibility to both nurture our own needs linked to our desire, as well as listen to and respect the needs of others we are in relationship with.

Amazingly in epic proportion, there will be a lunar occultation of Saturn in Scorpio occurring as Mercury stations direct, and following Mercury stationing direct the Moon will move on to a conjunction with Ceres. The myth of Persephone and Ceres seems strong in these symbols, and the compromise that Ceres managed to create enabling her to have her desire fulfilled of spending time with her daughter for half a year.  This desire did not come easy, and followed inner disorientation, outer torment, and soul searching from the goddess.  Yet as this myth served as a vehicle for rituals of epiphany in ancient times, there was also an inner revelation revealed, and so will there will be for us.

Mercury will leave the shadow zone on November 10, 2014 at a time that Venus will be conjunct Saturn in Scorpio and Mars will be conjunct Pluto in Capricorn.  As Mercury moves forward through Libra, focus on re-integrating all of the messages gained regarding our desires, relationships, and sense of self within relationships.  The astrology of this time suggest there is something profound to build and cultivate from the rumination of our inner mind.

Inanna_Dumuzi

Inanna and Dumuzi

References

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

Muchado, Antonio. (1902). Soledades. Translated by Eugenio Florit.

Solnit, Rebecca. (2014).  Woolf’s Darkness: Embracing the Inexplicable. The New Yorker. 24 April 2014.

Mercury Mediates the Cardinal Cross

Hermes

Hermes. Attic Red-figure Calyx-Krater, by Euphronios, 515 BCE. NYC, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Just as we are in the wake of the exact Cardinal Cross corresponding to a multitude of chaotic current events, Mercury steps into his Superior Conjunction with the Sun.  When Mercury is moving direct and conjunct the Sun it is called a superior conjunction because Mercury is moving very fast (this is in contrast with the Inferior Conjunction that occurs when Mercury is moving retrograde and slow).  Demetra George has compared Mercury at this phase of his cycle with the Sun to his detriment placement in Sagittarius because he has gone invisible under the beams of the Sun and his swift movement can correspond to both ingenious insight as well as a feeling of overwhelm in the face of an avalanche of disorienting information or events.  The challenge is to assimilate and to integrate all of the information that is made available at the superior conjunction:  this is always the case, but the fact that this particular superior conjunction is occurring at the time of the Cardinal Cross, in between a Lunar Eclipse and a Solar Eclipse, makes this a particularly volatile and catalytic superior conjunction.   We may be sensing brilliant insights of genius, the frenzied madness of a manic perspective, or both at the same time.  What is clear is that this time of a Cardinal Cross in between eclipses has lived up to its billing as an intense crossroads:  liberation from past limiting patterns is the potential benefit of this time, and so we need to maintain the mental balance to take in and digest the profound insights available to our perception.

MercurySuperiorConjunctWRIGC1

While one can see in the chart above the square alignment between Mars retrograde in Libra, Jupiter in Cancer, Pluto retrograde in Capricorn, and Uranus in Aries, one can also see that Venus is tight in trine to Saturn retrograde in Scorpio as well as conjunct the Moon in Pisces.  Yes, grand squares can be stressful, but they are also a building energy that can initiate new forms and structures, particularly in the cardinal signs.  Venus in Pisces rules the superior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun in Taurus, and since she is also aligned with the Moon and in trine to Saturn we have an opportunity at this time to perceive the profound personal message directed at us from the universe that is found in this Cardinal Cross.  Venus in Pisces and Saturn in Scorpio also bring in the two other modes of operation besides the initiatory focus of Cardinal signs:  Venus being in a Mutable sign that helps us to flow with changes while breaking up and mediating our experiences into the essential take away, Saturn being in a Fixed sign helping us to solidify and realize the golden insight we can glean while processing all of the events and exchanges occurring in our lives at this time.

Mercury like Saturn is also in a Fixed sign at this time, and in fact in this period will quickly move through Taurus and become exactly opposite Saturn retrograde in Scorpio (May 2, 2014).  Mercury in Taurus is ruled by Venus transiting in Pisces, and in Taurus she is more of an inner Venus focused on our inner resources and values, a Venus that helps us connect with our body, our bodily instincts, and perception open to us through body language and interpretation.  Mercury being in a fixed sign lends stability to an astrological archetype that is very fluid:  Mercury can go between the underworld and the upper world, in traditional astrology he can belong to both the diurnal and the nocturnal sect, and indeed he is able to find the middle ground while mediating between worlds and unifying opposites.  Amazingly, the Sabian symbol for 6 Taurus where the superior conjunction occurs evokes this meaning:  “cantilever bridge across a deep gorge,” with the keynote meaning of a “conquest of separateness through group cooperation” (Rudhyar, p. 74).  To Dane Rudyhar, this symbol stresses the need to participate in a “collective project” in order to build a link “through the power of the collective mind of the group or the community at large, on the basis of the legacy of the past, to make a bridge over the canyon” (Rudhyar, p. 74). We need Mercury at this time to help us make sense of everything occurring around us:  it is not just our own personal patterns that are being revealed for our personal liberation, it is the great collective patterns of our collective history that are also being revealed, and it will only be through collective group effort that we will be able to collectively liberate ourselves from them.

The significant shift that follows the superior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun is the transformation of Mercury from a Morning Star to an Evening Star.  Mercury is in his Morning Star phase when he is behind the Sun by zodiac degree, and he is in his Evening Star phase when he is ahead of the Sun by zodiac degree.  When Mercury reaches about fifteen degrees before the Sun he disappears in the Eastern sky at sunrise, only to rise again at sunset as an Evening Star when he reaches about fifteen degrees ahead of the Sun.  In the last couple of months as a Morning Star, leading up to our current Cardinal Grand Square, Mercury has been functioning more in his Morning Star role as a more objective, yang energy that is outwardly directed and effective in a more public focus on reputation, honors, and career.  Once Mercury becomes an Evening Star, he will embody a more reflective, yin energy that is both subjective and intuitive, able to perceive information through dreams, memory, and bodily instincts.  At this time of Mercury’s superior conjunction, however, leading up to the Solar Eclipse that will occur around April 29 (or April 28 depending upon your time zone), we are in a time of accelerated perception and information, a vortex in which we may encounter many opportunities and be able to accomplish a great deal if we can maintain our focus amid the catalytic energy of the Cardinal Cross and Solar Eclipse.

SolarEclipseApril2014WRIGC2

One can see here that at the time of the Solar Eclipse, Mercury will be (1) sextile to Neptune and Chiron in Pisces, (2) in trine to Pluto in Capricorn, and (3) in sextile to Jupiter in Cancer.  This means that Mercury will be mediating between powerful transpersonal and personal energies during this Solar Eclipse he is closely conjunct in Taurus, giving us the opportunity to perceive information and insight through the collective conscious and unconscious (Neptune in Pisces) that can help us regenerate core aspects of our authentic Self that can in the end help us re-make and re-form structures of the surrounding systematic power structure (Pluto in Capricorn).  We can also gain insight into how we have been conditioned to judge ourselves or allow ourselves to be judged or shamed by the imposed expectations of others.  Remember that very recently at the time of the Lunar Eclipse a couple of weeks ago that Mercury was conjunct Uranus in Aries as we entered this Cardinal Cross time period:  as a result Mercury is carrying a liberating message from Uranus with him into the Sun and the Solar Eclipse.  Making things even more amplified, the opposition between Jupiter in Cancer and Pluto in Capricorn has been in place for all of 2014 so far, and has been intensely triggered at this time of a Cardinal Cross.  It is therefore incredible at this time of Mercury’s superior conjunction that also happens at a time of a solar eclipse that Mercury is conjunct, that Mercury steps into such harmonious mediating aspects between Jupiter and Pluto.  This is a time to gain greater clarity for our true values, and the purpose and passion in life we want to direct our inner resources toward in this next phase of our life.

Furthermore, just as Venus in Pisces is ruling the Solar Eclipse occurring at this time, so does Venus also rule Mercury’s journey through the sign of Taurus.  And as previously mentioned, Venus in Pisces is now significantly in trine to Saturn retrograde in Scorpio as we enter the superior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun in Taurus.  Love is the great harmonizer that can weave together disparate elements and events into a Venusian tapestry that can help us nurture ourselves during any wounding experience.  Venus was recently conjunct Chiron in Pisces and in trine to Jupiter in Cancer, and now that she is also in trine to Saturn retrograde in Scorpio means that we can get a more visceral feeling in our bodies and bones regarding the deeper meaning of recent events with respect to our core being.  It also gives us the ability to manifest a deeper sense of love into our daily existence, focusing on what we want to have happen with a greater ability to materialize aspects of our authentic desire.

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Venus Verticordia by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1868)

Mercury is moving fast however, and so will remain in the Venus ruled sign of Taurus for only a few weeks as he travels invisible under the beams of the Sun.  Mercury will appear again as an Evening Star in the sky at his acronymic rise at Sunset, occurring around May 9, 2014 when Mercury reaches fifteen degrees ahead of the Sun:  Mercury will be enjoying himself in the early degrees of Gemini at this time.  Demetra George has compared Mercury in this phase of his cycle with the Sun as being similar to his exaltation in the sign of Virgo.  This is not the youthful, risk-taking, and overly curious Hermes, but rather the sage and bearded Hermes, the educator of youth and the wise inventor of letters and numbers, the discerning interpreter of words and the giver of medicinal drugs.  The combination of this phase of Mercury being similar archetypally to Mercury’s exaltation in the discerning Virgo with the transit of Mercuy in his inquisitive home sign of Gemini is absolutely perfect to help us digest and integrate all of the mind blowing experiences from this time period.

As a result, Mercury moving direct as an Evening Star in the sign of Gemini will help us assimilate, classify, organize, and integrate all of our wild perceptions from this time period with a more deliberate mental process able to flow and navigate with all of the changes arising.  In these ways, Mercury will continue in his role of mediating the intense events of the Cardinal Cross within our perceptions through the Spring (in the Northern Hemisphere where I live; of course in the Southern Hemisphere you are in Autumn now), significantly reaching another phase of his journey on June 7, 2014 when he will station retrograde at four degrees of Cancer in trine to Neptune in Pisces.  This will be the next phase of our mental integration of all the changes happening now, the Mercury retrograde phase, where Mercury will take on more of the meaning of his detrimental placement in the sign of Pisces, a time of release of old thought forms and concepts in preparation for visualizing and envisioning our new future yet to come.  Mercury in this period has a strong ability to interpret omens and signs in our night-time dreams and day-time explorations, and since this retrograde phase will begin with a trine to Neptune in Pisces it will also give us the opportunity for greater acceptance and healing of any wounding changes occurring in our lives during this Cardinal Cross time period.  Again with amazing timing, Mercury in this phase will experience his Inferior Conjunction with the Sun around the time of the June Solstice (the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere; the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere) at the very end of the sign of Gemini.  In the beginning of July, Mercury will station direct to move forward again in a month where Mars will finally leave his retrograde shadow zone, Jupiter will leave Cancer to enter the sign of Leo, and this Cardinal Cross time period will be clearly left behind.  So welcome the wise trickster Hermes into your life right now:  Mercury is making himself available at this time to help you navigate literally anything you are currently facing.

References

Demetra George. (2012). Lecture on Hermes: Guardian of Thresholds. UAC.

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

Mars Retrograde in Libra

Aries kneels before Aphrodite

Mars Initiation

  • Mars entered his retrograde shadow zone (9-10 Libra) on December 27, 2013
  • January 16, 2014:  Venus retrograde (19 Capricorn) squared Mars (19 Libra)
  • February 28, 2014:  Mercury stationed direct at 18 Aquarius /// New Moon at 11 Pisces
  • March 1, 2014:  Mars stationed retrograde at 28 Libra
  • March 2, 2014:  Saturn stationed retrograde at 24 Scorpio /// Venus (28 Capricorn) squared Mars retrograde (28 Libra)
  • March 6, 2014:  Jupiter stationed direct at 11 Cancer
  • Mars retrograde will create a Cardinal Grand Cross in April with Jupiter in Cancer, Uranus in Aries, and Pluto in Capricorn around 12-14 degrees of the cardinal signs. The grand cross will be intense in the days surrounding April 23, with a Lunar Eclipse on April 15 and Solar Eclipse on April 29.
  • Mars will station direct on May 19 at 10 Libra
  • Mars will leave his retrograde shadow zone on July 22, 2014

March fittingly began with its namesake Mars claiming center stage by stationing retrograde at the end of Libra, in between Mercury stationing direct the day before and Saturn stationing retrograde the next day.  A few days later on March 6, Jupiter stationed direct, creating an extraordinary week of intensity.  Every time a planet stations it means their energy is saturating our astrological atmosphere:  with so many occurring at the same time the effect was dizzying and disorienting, but since Mars only goes retrograde about every 26 months or so, his stationing was especially dramatic.  A raised Mars vibration became even more pronounced at this time because his stationing occurred in conjunction to the shift of the true node of the Lunar North Node into the sign of Libra, meaning that Mars also became the lord of the South Node of the Moon in Aries.    As Mars is occupying the sign of Venus, conjunct the North Node of the Moon ruled by Venus, we are at a time of a Mars initiation under the auspices of Venus.

Mars initiating a collective and personal shift at this time was symbolized in current events by Russia invading the Crimea region of Ukraine at the time of Mars stationing retrograde.  Mars is of course the god of war, with an ancient link to the Greek Ares who was particularly bloodthirsty in battle and obsessed with creating conflict and strife.  The Russian invasion also connected to the shift of the South Node of the Moon into Aries that is ruled by Mars, as it brought to the collective mind a fear of another great war breaking out between global super powers, all the while evoking collective memories of the cold war between the United States of America and the Soviet Union that dominated the second half of the twentieth century.  However, fitting to a Mars retrograde occurring in Libra at this time, instead of an actual world war of mass killing breaking out what instead has occurred so far is a war of diplomacy and behind the scenes maneuvering of diplomats and dictators.

While Mars does have a mythic connection to the Greek Ares, his appearance in Roman culture was of supreme importance as Mars was a founding father of the Roman people through his fatherhood of Romulus and Remus.  In addition to being a god of aggression and violence, the Romans also saw Mars as a passionate, and scandalous lover- in fact the lover of Venus who was quite willing to ignore the fact that Venus was married to Vulcan.  This love affair between Mars and Venus was also found in the Greek version of numerous love affairs between Ares and Aphrodite who likewise transgressed the marital vows of Aphrodite and Hesphaestus (the Greek Vulcan).  Through the heated passion and sexual intercourse between the Mars and Venus of myth we can also find the astrological meaning behind Mars as an indication of our passionate and erotic desire that resists restrictions or limitations of any kind.

Another ancient connection to Mars was as a harbinger of plagues, pestilence, and disaster, as can be seen in his traditional association with the XVI Tower card of the Tarot Arcana.  I feel through modern astrology we have come to associate outer planets like Pluto and Uranus more so with crisis and calamities, but it is important to remember that Mars was always seen in this role and connected with disastrous events such as the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine at the time of a Mars stationing.  As a result, we can apply the theme of the XVI Tower card to events at this time, with the higher potential of this correlation being that we can become electrified and shook wide awake by dramatic events.  Indeed, Mars is also one of the traditional malefics of astrology along with Saturn, seen in night charts as representing the sorts of challenges that make us stronger and in day charts the sorts of challenges that simply make us lose our shit.  Through the myths and astrology of ancient Babylon, we can find all of these meanings, as Nergal (the God associated with the planet Mars in Babylon) was also a god of violence, plague, and disaster, who was also the  brother of Ninurta (the Babylonian Saturn, the other traditional malefic of astrology).

Michael Baignet in his incredible book From the Omens of Bablylon:  Astrology and Ancient Mesopotamia analyzed translations of ancient tablets and text to reveal a vivid portrait of the Babylonian Nergal who was associated in astrology with the planet Mars.  Nergal was like a combination of the Mars and Pluto of myth, a lord of the underworld who was considered to be evil and violent in addition to being a judge of the dead.  In fact, through Nergal we can discover the patriarchal takeover of the underworld as he forced himself unto the goddess of the underworld and into a seat on her throne.  The story began when Ereshkigal, the goddess of the underworld, sent an emissary to represent her at a feast of the gods.  Nergal intentionally gave a sign of disrespect to the emissary that led Ereshkigal to demand that Nergal be sent down to her so that she could kill him as punishment.  Nergal was unable to argue his way out of being sent down for retribution to Ereshkigal, but he was able to successfully negotiate the right to take fourteen of his companions down with him for protection, giving him one guard for each of the fourteen doors in the palace of Ereshkigal (this mythic action also reveals the Mars skill in manipulation, negotiation, seduction, diplomacy . . . ).  After placing a guard at each of the doors of the goddess of the dead, Nergal charged full speed ahead into the throne room where he took Ereshkigal by surprise, forcibly grabbing her by the hair and forcing her into the floor with a knife to her throat.  Somehow this great goddess found herself pleading for her life and making an offer to become his bride in exchange for Nergal letting her live.  And so Nergal became the husband to Ereshkigal, the lord of the underworld, the god and judge of the dead.

The connection between Mars and Pluto we can see in Mesopotamian myth is also found in modern astrology where Pluto is considered to be a higher octave of Mars by many astrologers.  The ancient embodiment of Mars as lord of the underworld in myth goes well with the effective use of Mars as the ruler of Scorpio in Hellenistic and other traditional forms of astrology, while there are also some modern astrologers who have done powerful work using Pluto as the ruler of Scorpio.   The link between Mars and Pluto is especially important in the system of evolutionary astrology developed by Jeff Green, in which the analysis of Mars is a key window into the desires radiating from the soul.  To Green, Mars correlates with our instinctual hunger to act on the desires coming from our soul and so the Mars archetype can help us become aware of our continuous state of becoming through activity.  Mars has a thirst for freedom and an aversion to restriction of any kind:  when Mars is moving direct, we take action that moves out from our soul.  In contrast, when Mars goes retrograde we take instinctual action that returns us to our center instead of moving out from our core.  Mars retrograde inverts the desires emanating from our soul so that we pause and reflect before taking action, leading to “considered action versus an impulsive action” (Green, p. 255).  As a result, the period of Mars retrograde can help our personality align to a greater extent with our soul’s intentions and eliminate or remake what is not serving our soul purpose.  In this way, during a Mars retrograde time-frame we have an opportunity to counterbalance past compulsive and overly willful egocentricity through listening inwardly, looking before we leap.

At this time of the Ides of March approaching, I am reminded of the famous speech given by Marc Antony in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar that to my mind is exemplary of both a Mars stationing and a Mars retrograde sort of action.  Here we have an excerpt spoken by Marlon Brando, an actor filled with the vigor of Mars in every performance:

Marc Antony would have been full of rage at the murder of Caesar, yet instead of reacting with destructive violence or direct attack he paused and considered how to craft persuasive language that would ignite the people of Rome to mutiny against the assassins of Caesar.  The dramatic atmosphere of this moment ripe with the potential for war is fitting for a time of Mars stationing like we experienced last week.  Yet through taking the time to reflect upon how to craft the most persuasive language possible instead of impulsively shouting diatribes against the plotters who tried to seize the throne through killing Caesar, Marc Antony’s speech also connects to the energy of a Mars retrograde.  Furthermore,  Marc Antony’s speech also contains a deft use of Libran diplomacy, seduction, and social manipulation, as he cleverly called the murderers of Caesar honorable while nimbly weaving words and phrases that would arouse the passions of the Roman people to his cause for revenge.  Each time he called Brutus or the other assassins “honorable,” he created an increasingly “dishonorable” impression of them in his audience through his considered choice in language that made his audience feel his own sense of wounding and wrongdoing.

As our current Moon cycle is waxing toward the Virgo and Pisces Full Moon of March 16, we have entered an energy field that is settling into the energy of the Mars retrograde more so than the more catalytic and disruptive energy of the Mars stationing last week.  In the same way that Venus retrograde cycles can coincide with fateful events carrying a sense of destiny in some personal birth charts, so can Mars retrograde cycles also be especially fateful for certain birth charts.  If Mars is a major factor in a chart a Mars retrograde cycle may always be significant, whereas for other charts it may have more to do with the specific zodiac degrees involved in the retrograde cycle.  For our current Mars retrograde cycle, you will want to pay close attention to the area of your chart holding nine to twenty-eight degrees of Libra (the Mars retrograde zone) as well as nine to twenty-eight degrees of every other cardinal sign in your chart (Aries, Cancer, and Capricorn- the Mars retrograde will be forming a square or opposition to these points), or other Air and Fire signs (Gemini, Aquarius, Leo, and Sagitarius- the Mars retrograde will be forming a trine or sextile to these points).  If you want to think about personal experiences relating to past Mars retrograde cycles, I will include some of the dates below.  You can also add in a couple of months before and after these stationing dates in order to capture the full retrograde shadow journey of Mars:

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

ItalianDeSphaeraVenus1550sA web

Mars in the sign of Venus

Mars stationing retrograde in Libra is very significant in relation to Venus, including that Mars is considered to be in “detriment” in Libra.  The detrimental label of Mars in Libra connects to Libra being the polarized opposite of the sign Aries that Mars loves being in, as well as that Libra is a sign ruled by Venus.  Astrologers often think of Libra as a sign of balance, overly concerned with relationships and the needs of others, a sign of beauty that doesn’t quite jive with the freewheeling nature of Mars that will strike up conflict and want to have things its own way.  However, though balance is the aim of Libra, many Librans are in reality extreme in behavior and more in a process of searching for balance through extremity of behavior than beings whose every gesture is of rarified air.  Libra can have a manipulative talent for diplomacy, for getting its way through cooing negotiation, and for becoming enraged over social justice issues and oppression, all behaviors that do correlate to the willful Mars.  And just because the red planet is moving backwards in the sign of Venus does not mean we should think it a detriment, when instead we can celebrate the fact this planet of desire is moving under the guidance of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty.

Jeff Green’s perspective in evolutionary astrology I feel is beneficial to consider regarding Mars in Libra because he doesn’t get hung up on analyzing it as a “detriment” but instead looks at it as it is what it is, so let’s explore what it is.  There are a number of issues connected to Mars in Libra in Green’s evolutionary astrology I have been sensing connect with the current retrograde transit:  learning to actualize our soul intentions through initiating relationships with people from different beliefs, values, and backgrounds, learning to expand our consciousness through understanding our reality in a new way through relationship, learning to understand ourselves in a new way through the perceptions of others in relationship, learning to balance our need for independence versus our need for interaction, learning how to balance giving and receiving on an equal basis in relationship, and learning how to understand the nature of projections we receive from others as well as the nature of the projections we make on others in relationship.

Again, since the retrograde movement of Mars inverts the energy of the red planet toward our soul, instead of more impulsively acting out from our soul desires, during this retrograde transit the issues we encounter surrounding our relationships will help us eliminate what is not truly “us” in our behavior, and help us align to a greater extent with our soul purpose.  While this inverted energy of Mars may heat up our inner sexual desires, it does not necessarily mean we will be impulsively leaping into wild, lustful encounters with the people we become attracted to at this time, but in contrast we may find ourselves with an opportunity to pause and consider the reasoning behind the sexual desire we feel inside, helping us to better understand our own sexual nature in the process.  Jeff Green has also drawn attention to the link between Mars in Libra and sexual karma, and the karmic binding we create even in one-time sexual encounters.  In his second Pluto book, Green made the point that the archetype of Mars in Libra emphasizes the need to make our sexual intentions conscious so both partners are aware, from a one-night stand to a new attraction developing outside the boundaries of a monogamous relationship.  Along these lines Green stressed the importance of being honest or resolving the karmic agreement of the current relationship before entering into sexual relations with the new attraction.  The concept of mirroring, in which our relationships will mirror active elements of our psyche to focus on and learn more about, will be very active during this Libran retrograde and so acting with integrity in our relationships will be even more important than normal.

Along these lines, we will want to make sure that we are listening to the true needs of others in our relationships instead of what we want to hear, as well as making sure that we are likewise expressing our true needs in our relationship and having the personal integrity to believe and expect that our needs will likewise be acknowledged and honored.  Jeff Green also illuminated the tendency of the Mars in Libra archetype to be so overly concerned with the needs of others that they lose touch with their own needs.  This leads to great difficulty such as others projecting their own needs and expectations on us that have nothing to do with our actual reality, as well as our own danger of becoming incredibly angry at our needs not being met and at risk of projecting this anger on anyone that crosses our path.  While the sacred concept that the receiving is in the giving will be something we can experience at this time, we will want to take accountability to maintain the balance that our own needs are also being met and that communicating our needs will always be a good choice for us to make in the type of relationship we want to truly be inside.  If we have been someone who has been the scapegoat of our family, or have been carrying around karma and issues that are not even our own and have been projected onto us from others, we can at this time come into greater awareness of the nature of these projections from other people and clear out what does not truly belong to us.

If we are not feeling stirrings for new relationships at this time, or working on re-making an existing relationship to be more fulfilling, another area we may find connection to Mars being retrograde in Libra is through artistic work or creativity in any medium or material.  Libra is a Venusian sign of creativity and artistry, and so this Mars retrograde time will be opportune for entering into a sacred space of artistic creation, making sacred art that calls to our soul, viewing or experiencing art that feels sacred or soulful, or making choices to practice simple acts of creativity and joy whenever a moment arises.  Entering into an artistic or creative process of any kind, being open to observing whatever emerges, can be another helpful guide for us to align to a greater extent with our soul purpose and intention at this time.

Parnasse,_by_Andrea_Mantegna,_from_C2RMF_retouched

Affairs of the Heart

In the painting Parnassus above, painted in 1497 by Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna, we can see the lovers Mars and Aphrodite standing tall over a dance of the nine muses, with Mercury standing watch in the foreground, and the husband of Aphrodite, Vulcan, looking distraught in the background.  Over the past year the planets Mars and Venus have been involved in an intense affair, as their new cycle began around April 6, 2013 with a conjunction at 20 Aries.  Today we are just past a very long first quarter square phase that took months to complete:  the first time Mars and Venus squared was on September 28, 2013 with Mars at 20 Leo and Venus at 20 Scorpio.  Next, they squared on January 16, 2014 during the Venus retrograde with Mars inside his retrograde shadow zone, with Mars at 19 Libra and Venus retrograde at 19 Capricorn.  Significant to the Venus retrograde cycle of that time, Venus was just arising from the underworld as our Morning Star at this time following her inferior conjunction with the Sun on January 11.  And then last week on March 2, 2014, the third time was the charm as just at the time that both Mars and Saturn stationed retrograde, we had the final first quarter square with Mars retrograde at 28 Libra and Venus moving direct at 28 Capricorn.  Amazingly, this means that this final square between Mars and Venus in this cycle occurred at the exact time Mars was stationing retrograde and Venus was leaving her retrograde shadow journey.  Even more astounding, at the final square of this series on March 2, Mars retrograde was conjunct the North Node of the Moon ruled by Venus, and Mars at the same time was the ruler of the South Node of the Moon in Aries.  Meanwhile, Venus in Capricorn was in a square to the lunar nodes, making the intensity all the more grandiose.

What does a first quarter square between Mars and Venus mean?  It means, relative to this cycle that began on April 6, 2013, that we have crossed through a significant gate of challenge and crisis, made more so in this case because it took about five months to complete and involved retrograde cycles of both Mars and Venus.  From the lunar phase perspective, a first quarter square is about establishing the roots of our new direction, a phase full of tension, strength, and force that requires the building of a structure that can house the new purpose.  This phase requires a pioneering spirit that must confront and overcome past patterns and deal with their own sense of rage at having to face limitations and perhaps vestiges or triggers of past issues.  From this perspective, look back at what began last April of 2013:  any new relationships, projects, or desires? Was anything culminating or clearing in the time leading up to last April?  Likewise, where is 20 Aries in your birth chart for the start of a new cycle?  Where are all the degrees of the first quarter square- 20 Leo, 20 Scorpio, 19 Libra, 19 Capricorn, 28 Libra, 28 Capricorn?  From last September until now, through two of our four seasons, we have been facing crises and challenges connected to whatever new soul intention connected with our Mars and Venus we begun last April.

I want to come back once again to Jeff Green and evolutionary astrology, because I believe Green developed some valuable insights illuminating the archetypes involved in the phasal relationship between Mars and Venus:

From an evolutionary point of view, the phasal relationship between Mars and Venus will correlate to how the Soul is oriented to actualizing the relationship dynamics for itself, and how its needs for necessary freedom in order to actualize its overall evolutionary and karmic intentions interrelate.

–Jeff Green, Pluto Volume II, p. 259

From this same perspective, the first quarter square phase we just completed made us aware of new ways for us to be in relationship that reflect a new understanding we have for ourselves and how we relate to our soul.  At the first quarter square, we develop the courage to stand up for ourselves and assert our individual values whether or not others around us share the same values.  Part of the crisis of this stage then comes from the fact that we have a new sense of individuality we are developing that we fear we could lose by entering into relationships with other people, especially into intimate relationships where merging and bonding can occur.  As a result we can come into conflicts in our relationships because we may not truly commit, keeping our options open for an escape due to a fear of losing our individuality in the relationship.  To Green, the lesson of this stage “is for the Soul to realize that the individuality that has been established will not be lost, that this fear is a fear only, and to align with other individuals who have the same courage to project their own individuality in the face of the consensus . . . they need to choose an intimate other who is evolutionarily evolving in the same way” (Green, p. 262).  If we are currently in a relationship, we may need to reflect upon the dynamic and see if things can be reworked for greater harmony and a sense of personal freedom to develop in accordance with the calling of the soul.  If we are lacking relationships, we can hopefully find a new group of like-minded souls for friendship and collaboration, as well as gain greater clarity for the type of intimate partner we wish to eventually commit to.

For the rest of March we will be inside this first quarter phase of the Mars and Venus cycle, but at the very end of March we will have an opportunity to creatively actualize more of our new direction because Mars retrograde at 23 Libra will form a trine to Venus at 23 Aquarius on March 29, 2014.  This does not mean everything will become easy for us, but it does mean that whatever desire, issue, project, or relationship we are working on in connection to this Mars-Venus cycle will demand more of a yearning from us to manifest it to a greater extent, and with Venus being in Aquarius no doubt this will feel like a burning sense of liberation from within us.   This new, impulsive, liberating energy will be all the more intense because there will be a New Moon on March 30 that is conjunct Uranus in Aries, square Jupiter in Cancer, and square Pluto in Capricorn.   Events at this time will help us become aware of all the myriad of issues that have led up to this point, and with making the whole process more conscious we will have increased capacity to make our soul desire more of a reality, or at least create an effective plan to make it happen eventually.  Using this time for this purpose of clarifying our soul desire and then beginning the process of actualizing it in our life is of supreme importance because as we enter April we enter a time of intense aspects that many astrologers are signalling high alert to the collective regarding- a lunar eclipse, a cardinal grand cross including an exact square between Pluto and Uranus, and a solar eclipse among other things . . . These intense aspects also are fitting for the Chinese astrological perspective of this being the year of the Wood Horse, because although this energy could indeed correlate with some crises and stressful experiences, it is also the type of energy that can completely liberate us from our past and help us break free into uncharted territory- the transits have an extraordinary pioneering spirit to them at the same time they portend extremely challenging events.  But what does a pioneer do except face the greatest challenges and obstacles imaginable?

As we enter this intense April time period, we will likewise enter the gibbous phase of this Mars and Venus cycle around April 9 or so with Venus at the beginning of Pisces conjunct Neptune in Pisces.  This gibbous phase will take us through the  eclipse season and cardinal grand cross of the rest of April because we will not hit the full phase of Mars and Venus, their opposition point, until around May 11, 2014.  Fitting for the intense astrological climate of April, the gibbous phase of this Mars and Venus cycle could have us needing to withstand extreme criticism from our relationships and surrounding environment concerning the soul intention we are desiring to pursue as part of this cycle.  Part of the crisis we can experience in our relationships during April will be to help us make modifications in our relationship patterns so that we can adjust to the energy of others in our environment and learn to interact in more of a balanced manner.  Since this phase will begin with Venus conjunct Neptune in Pisces, there could be a very idealized aspect to our soul desire- it will be good to take time to pause, reflect, and center in accordance with the Mars retrograde and discern if this is a truly spiritualizing desire or more of an illusory escapist sort of Neptune desire.  Venus and Neptune conjunct in Pisces, however, can also help us step into a higher vibration of love in all of our relationships and more of an unconditional acceptance for the people we care about and where they happen to be in the moment with their own issues.  In line with a gibbous phase, we will also need to practice acceptance and unconditional love for ourselves because this phase of the Mars-Venus cycle can often correlate with becoming self critical and focusing on what we perceive as our own “shortcomings, inadequacies, imperfections, indiscretions, and lacks” (Green, p. 263).  If we are also being criticized harshly in our personal environment we will need to be careful of taking on projections and victimizing ourselves to such an extent that we become so angry that we cause destruction in relationships that are important to us.  Jeff Green views this phase as reflecting the need of the soul to humble itself and move out of any superior complexes in relationships that come from an actual inferiority complex underneath it all- we are called at this time to make modifications to how we take in criticism from others and learn that they mirror in a way our own self-criticism.  The lesson we can learn from all of this is how to make effective adjustments in how we interact with the greater world, which in the end will help us actualize our soul intention connected with this Mars-Venus cycle to a greater extent.

Fittingly our current Mars-Venus cycle reaches its halfway point, or full phase opposition point, toward the end of the Mars retrograde cycle with Mars beginning to station again.  This will occur on May 11, 2014 with Mars retrograde at 10 Libra and Venus at 10 Aries.  We will have accumulated a huge amount of information from the eclipse season of the cardinal grand cross that is simply impossible to predict at this time- whatever that information and events turn out to be, however, will add incredible understanding of our personal issues linked to this Mars and Venus cycle.  Since Mars will be entering a time of stationing at this time, although we may not be able to predict specific events we can know that most likely events will be very dramatic and possibly cataclysmic, and so we will want to be prepared to pause and reflect for our optimal response to whatever situation occurs.  Incredibly, in the following week around May 19 Venus will return to the same degree she was at the start of this cycle, 20 Aries, at the same time that Mars stations direct.  This is so beautiful and perfect in its pattern that it gives me great hope for this upcoming time period no matter how difficult our life may appear in moments of desperation.   Although events at this time may seem overwhelmingly challenging, the full phase point of the Mars-Venus cycle occurring as Mars stations direct is also perfect for Mars intensifying the energy of Libra, as the lesson of this phase between Mars and Venus is for us to learn how to cultivate equality in our relationships, find greater balance in our giving and our receiving, and learning how to integrate our unique soul needs into our social environment so that we can get what we need from our environment.  Difficulties in relationships can be learning tools that help us learn how to truly listen to what others need instead of what we think that they need:  as we learn to objectively understand the reality of others around us we will likewise attract a partner or relationships who have this same objective awareness of us.  We will also need to learn how to balance our feelings for spending time alone versus spending time in relationship:  the retrograde movement of Mars will help us tune into our instinctual soul desires of when we really need to spend time by ourselves, for example, and so we must have the personal integrity to honor these feelings and not succumb to pressure from others to socialize needlessly when we are not truly called to socialize.

We also will want to honor our sexual feelings and desires and come to greater awareness and understanding of our sexual nature at this time.  As previously stated, the retrograde movement of Mars through Libra will heat up our inner sexual vibration through the inversion of Mars energy- the soul intention of this will be to come to greater awareness of our erotic nature so we will want to avoid judging and shaming ourselves.  With all of the eclipse and cardinal grand cross intensity, putting shame into our game ain’t gonna make things easier.  Coincidentally, I recently had an epiphany regarding self-shaming of sexuality through attending a webinar by Demetra George on the fifth house of good fortune, where Venus has her Joy and greatest affinity from a traditional Hellenistic perspective.  In her webinar Demetra traced how the love affairs associated with the fifth house over time came to be labeled as being scandalous and risk-taking of the adulterous variety, much like the celebrated extra-marital affairs of Mars and Venus in myth; she did so in order to make the counter-point that the sexual desires where Venus has her Joy are in actuality divine and life infusing, fortunate and inspired by gods, noble and pleasurable.  Demetra incorporated a lesson from Plato’s Symposium to make her point, wherein Phaedrus described how Eros and our beloved can inspire us to act with greater integrity and aspire to the divine, so that we will be held in high esteem in the eyes of our beloved.  During this Mars retrograde in Libra we will have the opportunity to become clearer about the relationship we want to be in, the type of partner we want to attract, as well as gain clarity on our true values and desires we will live from that will simultaneously help attract our desired partner or relationship.  We will want to honor the sexual desires we experience as providing us with pleasure, inspiration, and even important information instead of judging or shaming ourselves- for example, if we experience attraction outside the boundaries of a personal relationship, we will want to remember to have integrity with how we deal with the situation, instead of acting from a place of shame and judgment toward our self.

In addition to relationship attractions and issues, the Mars and Venus square can connect with our inner masculine and feminine, as well as social justice issues such as the fact many do not even believe in concepts like masculine and feminine and suffer oppression in our society as a result.  Through the internalizing energy of the Mars retrograde we have the opportunity to cultivate greater balance between our inner yin and inner yang energy.  However, as Mars is moving retrograde all the way back to creating an extraordinary cardinal grand cross in April of 2014 that will occur during eclipses and another exact square between Pluto and Uranus, lets just say that many people around us will not exactly appear to be balanced and we could be witnessing examples of oppression as well as feeling oppressed ourselves by how fucked up the world has become.  What can we do?  We can use the retrograde energy of Mars in Libra to feel the oppression around us but instead of just becoming angry and destructive, move the energy into compassion for others, being a good listener to the problems and struggles of others, learning to listen to what others truly need, as well as being willing to express our own needs for help and support and being willing to receive and accept help and support from others.  Mars in Libra can correlate with us forming not only new relationships, but coming into contact with a diversity of experience from others that are different from our own experience, which in the end will help us develop a greater understanding of reality outside of our own subjective experience and perspective.  As a result, we will have the opportunity to learn how to accept and support the individual reality of others, no matter how different they may appear to be from us, or how different their background and culture is from us.  As we learn more about the relativity of truth through the perspectives on truth from different people with different opinions and values, in the end we will have the opportunity to expand our consciousness and understanding of the world in a way that will enable us to better support and give to others in need, as well as will enable us to more effectively achieve and manifest the soul purpose associated with this current Mars and Venus cycle.

hestia statue staff

Post-script:  Vesta in Libra

I may later write another post about this, but I would like to briefly mention the amazing synchronicity that at the same time Mars stationed retrograde to move back through Libra in conjunction with the North Node of the Moon, the asteroid Vesta did as well.  In addition, Ceres was also nearby at the beginning of Scorpio and Ceres will also eventually be stationing retrograde to move back into Libra by the end of March.  However, since Vesta never made it to Scorpio and turned around at the same time with Mars at the end of Libra, I feel Vesta has helped initiate our transition into this Mars retrograde in Libra that will be taking us all the way to a cardinal grand cross in April of Libra Mars, Cancer Jupiter, Aries Uranus, and Capricorn Pluto.   It is a further sign, along with Venus ruling the North Node of the Moon that Mars retrograde is conjunct, that the retrograde journey of Mars is being initiated by goddesses, including the magnetic, celestial, and earthly Aphrodite, and the focused, sacred, and independent Vesta.  Vesta being part of this initiation means that we will be re-focusing our energy and will to experience more of our authentic self, in a space outside of relationship at times, even though Vesta in Libra enjoys relationship as all celestial spheres do in the sign of the scales. Even if we are in a relationship we will be re-focusing and re-establishing our presence inside of it, as Vesta is an independent goddess who belongs to no man and does not make herself dependent upon anyone else. As Demetra George has taught, Vesta “teaches the wisdom that periodic retreat from others in order to cleanse and regenerate the self can lead to a clarity of vision and purpose” (Asteroid Goddesses, p. 34). Vesta’s presence at the initiation of a Mars retrograde that happened in a square to Venus also means we will be re-focusing our sexual nature and desire, including sexual issues around fear, projection, repression, judgment, sin, sacredness, and sexual discernment in choice of partners.  Vesta in Libra carries with her all of the issues associated with Libra I have previously mentioned here in connection with Mars, but Vesta in particular has a gift for focus.  As a result she will help us focus to a greater extent on our soul intention through the inverted movement of Mars within us, and eliminate what is not in alignment with our soul purpose in our relationships, self, and life.

References

Baignent, Michael. (1994).  From the Omens of Babylon:  Astrology and Ancient Mesopotamia.  Penguin Arkana.

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

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

Mercury Retrograde at the Gate of Neptune

water nymph by John Collier

Mercury stations conjunct Neptune in Pisces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Botticelli-primavera

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

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

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

–Marsilio Ficino, The Planets

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

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

Rudolf Steiner pencil sketch

Aquarius Alchemical Vessel

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

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

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

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

Moon pamela colman

Leo Full Moon squares Scorpio Saturn

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

7th Harmonic

7th Harmonic in February

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

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

References

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

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

Rites of Lilith: Venus stations at a New Moon in Aquarius

rites-of-lilith

Venus Stations Direct conjunct Pluto

  • Venus stations direct on January 31, 2014 at 13º34′ conjunct Pluto in Capricorn (12:49 pm PST).

  • January 31 to February 1 is the traditional time of Imbolc, a holiday at the cross-quarter between the Solstice and Equinox (by zodiac degree, however, this will be happening more like February 3 – 4 when the Sun hits 15 Aquarius).

  • There is a NEW MOON on January 3o at 11 Aquarius at 1:38 pm PST, the day before Venus stations direct.

  • LILITH in her triple form is activated by this New Moon.  The asteroid Lilith (#1181) will be at 14 Leo (retrograde) opposite the New Moon.  The true node of Black Moon Lilith will be at 2 Leo squaring the North and South Nodes of the Moon in Scorpio and Taurus.  The Dark Moon (or Waldemath) Lilith will be at 25 Taurus opposite to Saturn in Scorpio.

Anytime Venus is stationing brings added intensity as she stands still from our geocentric perspective, concentrating Venusian themes in our lives and drawing us to face or contemplate our inner relationship with her archetype.  However, this week is more intense than normal, as Venus is stationing conjunct Pluto in Capricorn and in direct opposition to Jupiter retrograde in Cancer.  Additionally, less than twenty-four hours before she officially stations direct, there is a New Moon in Aquarius which also ushers in the Chinese New Year of the Wood Horse.  The day of Venus stationing direct is also a holiday in Gaelic and other “pagan” cultures, the traditional time of Imbolc which is at the cross-quarter of the Solstice and Equinox, heralding the coming Equinox.  In the Northern Hemisphere this is also the time of our “groundhog day” when we look to a groundhog to tell us when Spring is approaching.

The South Node of the Moon at this time is still in Taurus, ruled by Venus.  Whether your astrological frame of reference calls you to consider the transiting South Node of the Moon to be an indication of personal or collective past lives, connections, comfort, or attachments, most likely you have a sense of the Lunar South Node indicating a comfort zone of security in one form or another, like a habit impossible to break without conscious work and effort.  Add in a square from Uranus in Aries to Venus, and you can see how Venus is highly charged at the moment for all of us (though anyone with planets or angles at 11-15 degrees of cardinal signs should especially take note).  As many people have a perspective that connects Venus to goddesses, the divine feminine, and mythic heroines, her influence at this time in conjunction to Pluto and in opposition to Jupiter is even more pronounced when you factor in the placement of Lilith in her astrological forms at this time.

Lilith has become a popular archetype in astrology in relation to Black Moon Lilith, the empty focal point of the Moon’s orbit that some calculate through the true node, others the mean node.  From my own experience, I have come to favor the true node placement, but both the true and mean nodes of Black Moon Lilith at this time are significant:  the true node of Black Moon Lilith is in square to the lunar nodes, resolving toward the South Node that Venus is ruling, and the mean node of Black Moon Lilith is in Cancer in opposition to the degree of Capricorn that Venus stationed retrograde on the December solstice of 2013.  There is also a Lilith asteroid #1181 that is moving retrograde in opposition to the Aquarius New Moon on January 30.  Finally, there is also the Dark Moon or Waldemath Lilith, a more controversial Lilith placement that I personally do not use much, but that Demetra George and others have integrated into this triple goddess form of Lilith for precisely the reason that its controversial nature reflects the Lilith archetype to such a large degree.  Speaking of Demetra George, I utilize her triple goddess theory of the meaning of Lilith that looks to the Lilith asteroid as a point of wounding, repression, or suppression that potentially can erupt into anger from us and cause us to become alienated or ostracized (this point is being triggered by the Aquarius New Moon).  Along these lines, the Dark Moon or Waldemath Lilith is a point where we can gain a vengeful rage of indignation at our persecutors and develop an unhelpful victim mentality that can get us into difficult situations (this point is being triggered by Saturn in Scorpio).  Finally, in this context the Black Moon Lilith placement is the resolution point where we can work through and integrate this past wounding or repression, cut away delusional or false aspects of ourselves or patterns, and come into more of an authentic presence reflecting more of our true nature (this point is being triggered by the lunar nodes).  The energy of the Black Moon Lilith is like the Dark Goddess of the Dark Moon phase in the lunar cycle, a clearing energy to prepare for the new phase, perfect for a New Moon in which Venus is stationing direct conjunct Pluto.  However, since the true node of Black Moon Lilith is in a square to the lunar nodes at this time, it suggest that what needs to be cut or cleared may be an intense issue or pattern we have been deeply attached to:   in other words, shifting whatever this pattern may be will be much easier said than done.

The ability of Black Moon Lilith to help us cut away what is false in our thoughts and beliefs goes well with the Sabian symbol for 14 Capricorn where Venus is stationing direct: “an ancient bas-relief carved in granite remains a witness to a long-forgotten culture.” Dane Rudhyar in his Astrological Mandala found the keynote for this symbol to be “The will to unearth, in our culture as well as in any culture, what has permanent value, and to let go of nonessentials” (p. 237).   Lilith for many is a long forgotten goddess or heroine of wisdom who was cast out and ostracized from Biblical, monotheistic religion and portrayed as a deadly femme fatale of evil seduction, when upon closer inspection of myth we get a sense that all she wanted to do was be on an equal level of power to Adam and preserve a sense of her own independence in their relationship.  The following quote from Joseph Campbell (in a new book published in December 2013 when Venus was first conjunct Pluto and entering her retrograde shadow zone) cuts with insight to the core problem resulting from traditional monotheistic interpretations of the Bible that neglect the divine feminine:

Freud asks in “Moses and Monotheism” why it was that just when all the other peoples of the eastern Mediterranean were learning to read their myths poetically, the Jews became more confirmed than ever in the concretist (Freud calls it “religious”) way of interpreting their idea of God.  The obvious reason, I would say, is that both they and their tribal deity failed to realize that the waters of the Deep (tehom) over which Elohim was brooding and blowing in the first two verses of Genesis I was not just water, but the old Babylonian goddess of the primeval sea herself, Tiamat (ti’amat), and that his failure to appreciate the poetry of her presence there was the beginning of his whole misunderstanding even of himself.  It was to her, his cosmological wife, that he should have turned to listen, occasionally, when moved to throw the Book at their disobedient children.

–Joseph Campbell, Goddesses, p. xxv

Lilith is a polarizing figure in myth and religious doctrine that goes well with the polarity between Jupiter retrograde in Cancer opposing the conjunction of Pluto and Venus stationing direct in Capricorn.  On the one hand, if we are fixated on a particular belief system and lock horns in argument with another individual with an opposing belief system they are equally fixated upon and attached to, we could come into great conflict at this time in the outer world of mundane events.  On an inner personal level, however, I see the totality of these archetypal signs indicating an opportunity for us to do deep inner cathartic work on the ideas and thoughts operating inside us, that we act from, the sort of habitual patterns we have been living from and at times forgetting we have the power of choice to work on and change if they are not in alignment with what we want to attract and manifest in our lives.  Leading up to this New Moon and Venus stationing is an opportune time to do the inner work of lovingly questioning ourselves and our inner relationship with our Self, becoming more aware of how we talk to ourselves or emotionally react to a triggering comment from everyone from a passing stranger to an intimate partner.

Indeed, the sabian symbol for this New Moon at 11 Aquarius is “during a silent hour, a man receives new inspiration which may change his life.”  Dane Rudhyar even connected the inner work revealed through this sabian symbol with our “need to rely upon inner inspiration and guidance at the start of new developments,” again another fitting correspondence to a New Moon with Venus stationing (p. 255).  Rudhyar described this process as finding the “value of keeping open to the descent of spiritual or Soul forces, especially when a new period of individual activity is about to begin” (p. 255).  To connect with our Soul requires work, effort, and the use of our Will:  the term “transformation” is often used in this context because it can feel like we are becoming a new person, even though it may accurately be more like becoming the person we truly were the entire time underneath it all.  There is one more part of Rudhyar’s interpretation of this New Moon sabian symbol I want to include here, because it also connects this process to the creation of art and what we can find within when we are willing to take the solitary dive inside of ourselves:  “There is a creative power within, a power that can be tapped, or rather that should be allowed to flow into the brain-consciousness or the hands which write or fashion materials into original forms” (p. 255).  True, that:  making art, writing, or any other creative act that can help us process our emotions at this time is felicitous.

Jupiter retrograde in Cancer opposing Venus and Pluto in Capricorn can relate to the family karma we know from our own lifetime, as well as more ancestral karma we may get inklings of from time to time.  Since Jupiter and Venus are both synthesizers that can transcend the challenge of their current polarity, setting intentions at this time to clear the issues that we are not truly responsible for, and to face and be accountable for the karma and patterns we are responsible for can be very powerful.  Venus can be the fire in an alchemical process of these elements, by allowing ourselves to feel the burning sense of what is truly passionate and joyful at our core, there is a new presence for ourselves to feel and embody that brings together the polarity represented by Cancer Jupiter retrograde/Capricorn Pluto.  Jupiter is capable of great projection from a deep inner realm of bottom line principles and thoughts, like an underworld ruled by Pluto, we live from.  Any external conflict at this time can be utilized to reveal past inner dynamics we have been perceiving and intuiting from that are ultimately limiting for us, that we have been operating from more as a result of the conditioning from our early childhood, family, or society more so than our true nature.  Now is the time to set intention for any such inner adjustments or modifications.

Pluto usually has a regenerative quality to the intensity of his aspects, and so whatever Venusian tumult we could be experiencing on a Jupiter-like scale at this time most likely is offering us something to work on to become more aware of our soul and true presence.  Jupiter always wants us to grow, so moving retrograde in Cancer in opposition to Pluto in Capricorn is calling for a descent into the inner emotional feeling realm for greater Self-awareness.  The fact the exact opposition of Jupiter and Pluto at this time is fairly close in orb to a t-square with Uranus in Aries is a reflection to the years of 1968-1969 when Jupiter, Uranus, and Pluto were in a triple conjunction.  In Cosmos and Psyche Richard Tarnas noted this time was like the peak culmination of many 1960 themes involving the Pluto-Uranus conjunction in Virgo we are now feeling the first square from:  riots like Stonewall and the Chicago 8, protests, Woodstock, and notable for the type of inner work I am speaking of, this was also the time in which Stanislov Grof founded Transpersonal psychology, James Hillman founded Archetypal Psychology, and the man formerly known as Richard Alpert stepped into being Ram Dass.  During this past month, if we have been utilizing the Venus retrograde cycle for a spiritual or artistic practice of some sort that has been working with and releasing a lot of the energy that otherwise could have built up in this time, we have an amazing opportunity at this time to birth a new presence for ourselves.  However, no matter our recent experiences, this is an important New Moon on which to set a clear intention going forward.

In the chart below for the New Moon on January 30, you can see how the true node for Black Moon Lilith is in square to the lunar nodes.  Again, the mean node of Black Moon Lilith can be placed into this chart at 26 degrees of Cancer (opposite the degree that Venus stationed retrograde on December 21, 2013), the Lilith asteroid #1181 can be placed at 14 degrees of Leo retrograde (opposite the New Moon), and the Dark Moon or Waldemath Lilith can be placed at 25 degrees of Taurus (opposite Saturn in Scorpio):

AquariusNewMoon2014WRIGC1

If we have been experiencing some recent events that have triggered feelings of past repression, suppression, judgment, alienation, or persecution, if the archetype of Lilith being active at this New Moon and Venus stationing feels resonant for you, then there is also a strong possibility of this past wound being opened wide at this time.  But in the end this can lead to the sort of heart opening that makes true healing possible, the type of healing that allows us to move forward no longer burdened by that past pain or repressive pattern any longer.  Remember, even though Venus is stationing direct, she will still be in her retrograde shadow zone until March 4, 2014 which will also take us through an entire Mercury retrograde cycle (most of February 2014) and into the beginning of a Mars retrograde transit in Libra (March 1 – April 20, 2014).  The fact that this New Moon with Venus stationing leads us into Mercury stationing retrograde a week later in conjunction to Neptune in Pisces makes it even more important to state very clear intentions for ourselves at this time.  What do we truly want, not out of a sense of need, but out of a true sense of what will bring us joy?  We have a full Mercury retrograde cycle, and then the beginning of a Mars retrograde cycle to experience before Venus will finally leave her retrograde shadow zone, so there is still a lot of inner work to be done even though we may become increasingly called to focus on external events and actions.  Today and the Imbolc season that follows is a perfect time to re-assess and re-form our purpose, vision, and goals moving forward.

slow-swirl-at-the-edge-of-the-sea(1)

Mark Rothko and Venus Retrograde

As we are entering a time in which we are leaving a Venus retrograde transit only to enter a Mercury retrograde cycle as Venus is still moving through her retrograde shadow zone, a historical figure I feel is interesting to consider is the artist Mark Rothko, born with a Mercury retrograde in Libra and a Venus retrograde in Virgo.  If you noticed, this means his Mercury and Venus were in mutual reception, with his retrograde Venus ruling his retrograde Mercury, and his retrograde Mercury ruling his retrograde Venus.  Fitting to such a natal aspect, Mark Rothko was a deeply contemplative artist whose artistic expression and perception were rooted to his core inner Self more so than consensus cultural norms of society or the art world.  When we work with planets moving in retrograde, we have the opportunity to turn inward to find new ideas and ideals we can ultimately bring forth into the world.  The progression of Mark Rothko’s art in his lifetime was a fascinating example of this internal/external process in motion.

For example, in the painting “Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea” above, Rothko had entered a new phase in his art in which he was painting with greater abstraction:  this painting supposedly relates in some ways to his romance with the woman who became his second wife, while some have also interpreted it as integrating a reference to Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus.”  In any event, the energy of love, movement, passion, and music found in the image certainly connect to Venus, but the more abstract depiction of Venusian themes is what had changed in this period of Rothko’s art.  Previous to this period, Rothko painted more realistic depictions of ideas that often connected to myth and other subjects of timeless meaning.  Rothko was known to be a great admirer of Nietzsche, Carl Jung, James Joyce, and T.S. Eliot, with the sort of internal, mythic perception of soul in matter found in people with Mercury and Venus retrograde in their charts.  Eventually, Rothko shifted into further, or maybe better said, purer abstraction in a style that has been called “multi-form” and involved large fields of color:  this is the style that ultimately brought him his greatest fame.  About his art at this time, he made a very Mercury/Venus retrograde statement of saying, “my paintings’ surfaces are expansive and push outward in all directions, or their surfaces contract and rush inward in all directions. Between these two poles, you can find everything I want to say” (wikipedia).  The depth of feeling he put into his work was further exemplified when he said he was only interested in “expressing basic human emotions — tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on. And the fact that a lot of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions . . . The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationship, then you miss the point” (wikipedia).

The painting “Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea” above, as well as the painting at the beginning of this post, “Rites of Lilith,” were both shown in 1945 following a dramatic shift in Rothko’s art.  In a letter to the Art Editor of the New York Times you can read here, Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb articulated a manifesto expressing a re-visioning of their art away from a more literal representation of myth in their painting into a form inspired by surrealist and abstract art from Europe.  This letter came out immediately following Mercury stationing direct in June of 1943, still in its shadow zone.  A few months later in August of 1943 there would be a Venus retrograde transit of Virgo matching the same Venus retrograde cycle in which Rothko was born.  Thus this shift in the art of Rothko (which would become even more dramatic in a few more years) was a good example of Mercury-Venus inner work, an inner change of values, ultimately re-emerging into a new vision for external manifestation.  This is exactly the sort of opportunity available for all of us at this time, in whatever realm of thought and action your current interests are found.   Here are a few of their key points found in their manifesto:

  1. To us art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risks.
  2. This world of the imagination is fancy-free and violently opposed to common sense.
  3. It is our functions as artists to make the spectator see the world our way—not his way.
  4. We favor the simple expression of the complex thought. We are for the large shape because it has the impact of the unequivocal. We wish to reassert the picture plane. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth.
  5. It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it  is well painted. This is the essence of academicism. There is no such thing as good painting about nothing. We assert that the subject is crucial and only that subject matter is valid which is tragic and timeless. That is why we profess spiritual kinship with primitive and archaic art.

Over a half century later, excerpts from this manifesto appeared in a song crafted by another artist with a link to retrograde personal planets, Kathleen Hannah, born on November 12, 1968 with a Scorpio Mercury direct a few degrees out of it’s retrograde shadow zone of October 3-23, 1968 when she was in her mother’s womb:

Of course, Kathleen Hannah is no stranger to manifestos as she wrote a Riot Grrrl manifesto including lines like “BECAUSE we don’t wanna assimilate to someone else’s (boy) standards of what is or isn’t” and “BECAUSE we are interested in creating non-hierarchical ways of being and making music, friends, and scenes based on communication + understanding, instead of competition + good/bad categorizations.” She is a strong example of how to use a Mars in Libra with power and force for social justice through art (she also has a Uranus conjunct Mars in Libra, also conjunct Jupiter at the very end of Virgo).  As Mars in Libra in March will station retrograde following the upcoming Mercury retrograde in Pisces and Aquarius (that’s going to be February 2014), we will no doubt hear from many astrologers how Mars “doesn’t like” being in the sign of Libra.  Look no further than Kathleen Hannah to learn you can kick ass with Mars in Libra when working for social change.  Now is a good time to figure out where you want to re-focus your energy to ultimately become the change you want to see in the world.

References

Campbell, Joseph. (2013). Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine. New World.

Rudhyar, Dane. (1973). An Astrological Mandala: the Cycle of Transformations and its 360 Symbolic Phases. Vintage.

Rothko, Mark. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Rothko

Tarnas, Richard. (2007). Cosmos and Psyche. Plume.

Venus Retrograde in Capricorn

Psyche_Opening_the_Door_into_Cupid's_Garden

Psyche’s Desire

As 2013 comes to a close with a powerful Dark Moon in Sagitarius, and 2014 begins with a potent New Moon aligned with Mercury and Pluto, we are now over a week inside the portal of our current Venus retrograde cycle in Capricorn.  Venus retrograde cycles are magical portals that take us out of our linear constructs of time, working through the Golden Mean of five cycles every eight years, connecting us back to past Venus retrograde cycles as it simultaneously regenerates profound growth for our future.  In the sign of Capricorn the structure of form is a significant archetypal construct, and the structure of Venus retrograde resembles not only the Golden Mean found throughout nature, but also the five fold form of the Rose and the Star Pentacle.  The magic imbibed into the Golden Mean, Rose, and Pentacle has been well documented in countless esoteric symbols and stories across cultures, but the way this structure plays out in our experience of the Venus retrograde cycle to me goes something like this:  that just as when we look at the glimmering stars at night we are seeing light emanating from different time periods, like time traveling, so can Venus retrograde cycles resurrect patterns and stories of our past we experience from our present moment.  Those of us into astrology are aware of the repeating patterns and stories found within our birth chart, and this same phenomenon of influence can be found in the myths and stories of our world that repeat themselves. While some judge myths as only relating to the culture from which they originate, I feel the myths of Great Mystery transcend cultural boundaries and take us to a realm of perception that connects to our Soul that is beyond the culture our human form was born into at the beginning of our lifetime. A myth of Great Mystery arising of profound significance to me at this time is the story of Eros and Psyche.

We’ll get to the astrology details later, but the synchronicity of astrology asteroid transits is what validated my feeling of Psyche’s story connecting to this current Venus retrograde, as at the time of Venus stationing retrograde the Sun and Mercury were conjunct the Psyche asteroid and the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio was conjunct the Eros asteroid, and at the time of Venus stationing direct at the end of January 2014, Venus will not only be conjunct Pluto as has been widely discussed, Venus will be almost exactly conjunct the Psyche asteroid.  Eros at the time of Venus stationing direct does not have a major aspect with Venus, but will have moved into Sagitarius and will be in a square to Neptune in Pisces.  However, at the time of the inferior conjunction of Venus and the Sun on January 11, Eros will be closely conjunct Saturn in Scorpio and in sextile to the Venus and Sun conjunction in Capricorn.  Even without such asteroid synchronicity, however, the story of Psyche and Eros resonates with Venus retrograde cycles as one of the classic interpretations of the story aligns with the astrological meaning of Venus retrograde cycles:  to promote reflection, going within to change our inner Venus relationship with our self in order to change our outer Venus relationship with the world and what we manifest for ourselves in relationships.

Eros and Psyche is a story that has captured popular imagination for ages, such as being integral to some ancient Mystery rituals, and whose themes still today run rampant through popular romance novels, films, and television.  For example, we can feel the presence of Psyche’s agonizing desire in the vampire romance “Twilight” series and the feeling of the heroine Bella that her love and desire for her “monstrous immortal” lover has taken on life or death proportions.  This is the classic romance theme we all know from Romeo and Juliet and many other examples, in which the characters become suicidal when their passionate desire for a lover is taken away, compromised, or seems in danger of ending.  These stories remain popular because so many can relate to having these sorts of feelings at least at some point in their lives- desiring someone to such an extent that it seems as if the world would end if they no longer remain as a being we merge with in passion.  Some of us have even had this obsessive desire arise like a fantasy for someone we have never even been with physically, and never will- and yet something in them sparks a feeling in us that we desperately want to merge with them in passion.  If we are not judgmental about ourselves for having such feelings, others around us normally are, and characters in such stories are routinely judged harshly by many.  Keep in mind, however, that the story of Psyche and Eros is a Great Mystery with meaning that gets more complex the more you sit with it.  Before going further I would like to state my intention that it is important to avoid judging Psyche in order to open ourselves to the deeper meaning of her story, and yet of course I must acknowledge that by writing about this myth and analyzing how it fits into the current moment I am of course judging and projecting my own meaning into the story.  So be it, as these ideas are the exact topics I wish to address.

This Venus retrograde cycle in Capricorn carries some important themes we can explore through the story of Eros and Psyche:  JUDGMENT, INNER AUTHORITY, DESIRE, and PROJECTION, among others.  These themes are present in the story at its beginning, when we meet Psyche, the youngest daughter of a King whose beauty is considered by the people to be so unsurpassed that some begin to worship her as if she were the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite. Yet Psyche remains a solitary figure in reception of this tremendous romantic projection from her father’s people, as no one has enough self-confidence to move beyond their romantic fantasy of her into an actual relationship with her.  Even more ominous for Psyche, she ultimately finds herself on the receiving end of the wrath of Aphrodite, as the Goddess of Love erupts with jealousy and indignation over losing the attention of her worshipers for a mere mortal like Psyche.  Aphrodite orders that her son, Eros (also known in versions as Cupid) pierce Psyche with the tip of one of his arrows in order to make her fall in love with some sort of disgusting creature that will bring societal shame to Psyche.  However, Eros instead falls in love with Psyche upon seeing her and devises his own plan to express his passion for her in secret.

As time passes and potential suitors continue to be too fearful to approach Psyche because of her overwhelming beauty, her father the King consults an oracle and is told to abandon his daughter to a high cliff in order to meet her destiny of marrying a monstrous creature- it is at this point that Eros enacts his secret plan as Psyche is carried off by the wind to an idyllic palace in which she is told she will have her every need attended to.  Once inside the palace, Psyche finds herself treated to elaborate banquets, luxurious baths, and other sensual delights.  At night, and every following night, a stranger comes to Psyche in her bedroom and passionately makes love to her- yet Psyche is never allowed to see her lover, let alone get to know on any sort of deep level beyond hedonistic sexual pleasure.

At this point in the story it is important to remember that the version of Eros and Psyche we know finds Eros relegated to his mythic interpretation more common to his Roman version as Cupid, the son of Venus (earlier versions have different fathers, later versions focus on Cupid as being the son of Mars and Venus).  However, in some ancient Greek traditions, Eros is a primordial God who was at the beginning of time along with Chaos and Gaia (such as in Hesiod) and in some versions is even the original Godly form. In these myths Eros is not even portrayed as masculine, but instead is in a form beyond duality definitions of gender.  In the Orphic and Eleusinian Mystery traditions, Eros is seen not so much as primordial, but instead as the progenitor of the human race.  In this version of his story, Eros is the offspring of Night, or Nyx, who mates with the winged Chaos in a dark void to produce the human race.

Together through these myths, we can sense how the Eros we eventually find portrayed as a mischievous Cupid who slings arrows of love to create great drama in human affairs was originally a primordial, chaotic creature of extraordinary power.  At the beginning of our Psyche and Eros story, however, Eros has lost this sense of his own inner authority and instead gives his power away to his mother Aphrodite, allowing her to dictate the terms of his life and boss him around.  However, the passion Eros projects upon seeing the beauty of Psyche calls him to attempt to defy his mother, but only in secret.  Influenced by the negative parental judgment of his mother against Psyche, or perhaps as well his divine societal judgment that Gods are not allowed to enter committed romantic partnerships with mortals, Eros does not claim his inner authority to openly expose and express himself to the object of his desire, Psyche, but instead chooses to worship her body with lustful desire in secret, not allowing her to see or know him.

Judgment continues to influence events in this story as Psyche soon falls prey to the judgments of her sisters who come to visit her in her palace “paradise.” No doubt jealous of the luxurious palatial lifestyle their sister is living, Psyche’s sisters convince her that she must take a knife and a lamp to bed with her so that she can see the monstrous creature that was prophesied to marry her and kill it.  Psyche gives her own authority away to her sisters and does what they tell her to do, only to find with the light of her lamp that her lover is not a hideous monster but is instead the most beautiful creature she has ever seen.  Startled awake by the hot oil of Psyche’s lamp, however, Eros flees the palace in fear and Psyche abandons her secluded palace life to chase after him into the night.  This takes her on a journey away from the palace of Eros, a structure of romantic ideals not unlike a structure of Capricorn, into an arduous journey that opens her up to her authentic emotions and the ultimate ability to freely express her emotional needs in her own authority, not unlike the sign of Cancer, the polarity to the current Venus retrograde in Capricorn.

Giuseppe_Maria_Crespi_-_Amore_e_Psiche_-_t

While Psyche’s desire to finally see her lover Eros with her own eyes, the catalyst for her journey of finding her Self and her True Love, was in some ways influenced by the judgments of her family, I also feel it came from an authentic desire of hers to actually see and know her lover as a real person instead of a fantasy.  After choosing to see the real instead of the fantasy, Psyche finds herself abandoned by a river with a suicidal urge to kill herself.  It is here that she meets the Nature deity Pan who comes to her assistance and is a harbinger of many other beings of Psyche’s surroundings that begin to come to her aid, everything from plants to ants to eagles.  An excellent summary of this part of the story along with depth psychology analysis of meaning can be found here on the Symbol Reader blog (this post would become incredibly long if I go into all the details of the story, so hopefully you can pick up my general intent of meaning by what I include here).  As the story continues, Psyche continually summons the necessary courage to persist while forming a true communion with nature and a psychic openness that can even communicate with the energy of inanimate objects, expressing her needs to her environment and finding that everything from a reed by water below her to a tall tower above her has helpful advice to give her.  These instructions become vital, because on her journey to find Eros, Psyche instead crosses paths with Aphrodite who gives her a series of near impossible tasks to complete before giving the ultimate challenge:  descend to the underworld where no mortal can survive and bring back a beauty ointment belonging to Persephone to give to Aphrodite.

Somehow Psyche succeeds in not only descending to the underworld, but ascending back to the upper-world having successfully received the desired beauty ointment from Persephone.  However, overcome by desire to make herself beautiful for Eros, Psyche decides to open the box of beauty ointment even though she has been told it will put her into a state of perpetual sleep- which it does- but her fall into this dangerous state is what awakens Eros finally to come and revive her with a kiss.  Some judge Psyche for opening the box of Persephone to claim Persephone’s beauty potion for herself, to try to make herself look pretty and pleasing for her man, but again once judgment is removed there are many levels of meaning to this action. Remember that Persephone is the Queen of the Underworld, and the Guide of Souls, and so is guiding Psyche on her journey of Soul, not guiding Aphrodite.  It is also significant that Persephone gave her gift of beauty ointment to Psyche, and not to Aphrodite.  Psyche takes her own authority to anoint herself with the beauty of Persephone, to meet her own need to feel beautiful, sparked by her passion for Eros.  Likewise instead of judging Psyche as being “saved” by Eros like the Disney version of Snow White saved by Prince Charming, we can instead perceive that it is Psyche who helps save Eros. By claiming her own inner authority to defy Aphrodite and claim the gift that Persephone gave to her, for herself, perhaps this is the inspiration Eros needed to finally openly defy Aphrodite and claim his own inner authority to become the open lover of Psyche.  And True Love’s kiss- we have all heard the fairy tales of how this can destroy any curse and create miraculous events in the lives of lovers- is this not the very breath of life (the word “psyche” means “breath” as well as “soul” and “self”) merged with passion (“eros” as a chaotic, primordial, passionate progenitor of form) so that our personality and soul can finally merge through the act of love?  Is there really something to judge about this in any sort of negative way?  At this point in the story of Eros and Psyche there is not, as each is finally truly seeing the other for who they are and are merging their beings in a soulful embrace that ignites the deepest embers of the soul inside each.

Psyche opening box by Waterhouse

It is here at the end, at True Love’s kiss, that Eros and Psyche finally open themselves to the real reality of the true self of one another, instead of seeing one another through a lens of romantic fantasy-  their deep merging of passion and Soul Mate relationship follows.  At this point I would like to share insights I heard in a lecture by Richard Tarnas on romance, astrology, and synchronicity in March of 2012 at the Washington State Astrological Association, as he beautifully summarized a vital lesson we can take from the story of Psyche and Eros. 

In his lecture Tarnas explained how synchronicity, astrology, and romantic love all have the underlying structure in common of an archetypal, synchronistic field, and that Carl Jung’s “self archetype” is constellated by a profound romantic love involving the marriage of opposites, the cosmic marriage of the inner and the outer.  However, since astrology and synchronicity are not openly acknowledged in consensus society, we end up with a heightened desire for romantic love in mainstream culture as romantic love in this consensus worldview carries the entire magical, anima mundi sense of a communion between souls opening up a new universe, an opening that goes beyond the compressed isolation of the Cartesian Ego.  Tarnas pointed out that astrology, synchronicity, and romantic love all (1) have great potential for profound significance, (2) are extremely susceptible to a skeptical negation, and (3) are also susceptible to both projection and illusion.  The theme of judgment I have begun to address through the Psyche and Eros story is important in connection to the danger of negating a divine communion with the other, as Tarnas made the point that Jung and his followers tend to judge romantic love as a projection of the ideal, and there is a tendency among therapists to ask their clients to “own” their projection of romantic desire, saying it’s really something coming from inside their self.  While projection is extremely important to reflect upon as I will continue to discuss in connection to the astrology of this time, it also leads to the potential of negating our connection with a numinous quality through romantic love.  Indeed, in his lecture Tarnas made the argument that if I am carrying the divine inside me, then it is not impossible for a communion of divinities to occur through romantic love in that I am recognizing the divinity of the other as they are recognizing it in me.

How did Tarnas explain how to discern if our romantic desire for the other is a projection?  He said such discernment requires an “I-thou” relationship with the other instead of an “I-it” connection.  This means that projection comes from an “I-it” perception in which we are projecting our own romantic ideals despite who the other really is-  in other words, we are looking at the other as an instrument of our own emotional or sexual satisfaction rather than their actual person-hood.  This is how we end up with an illusionary projection of our own ideal or needs upon the other in spite of who the other actually is, instead of each person actually disclosing their real reality to the other.  In contrast, instead of seeing the other as an “it” who meets our needs or ideals, we connect with their true “self” and as a result open to the potential for a communion of soul or inner divinity to occur through romantic love.

Being open to this sort of communion in my opinion means that we work with the astrological polarity of Capricorn to Cancer brought by the current Venus retrograde, and learn to fulfill and nurture our own emotional needs when possible, but also importantly to learn to express and communicate our emotional needs to others without blocking ourselves for fear of being judged or shamed.  The importance of having compassion for our psyche and feelings of fantasy that can arise has been illuminated by James Hillman, who actually used the story of Eros and Psyche as the core myth behind his contrast of the traditional development of Depth Psychology with his own conception of Archetypal Psychology. Instrinsic to Hillman’s idea of Archetypal Psychology is compassion and acceptance of Psyche, the Psyche of myth as well as the feelings and sensations of our own Psyche:

“Psyche into life” can be put in many ways. Most simply I mean the freeing of psychic phenomenon from the curse of the analytical mind.  This involves reflection upon the analytical mind, realizing its predilections for psychopathology and the fact that psychology has become a massive yet subtle system for distorting the psyche into a belief that there is something “wrong” with it and, accordingly, for analyzing its imagination into diagnostic categories.  Moving the psyche into life means moving it, not from its sickness, but from its sick view of itself . . . The helping professions- education, social work, pastoral counseling, psychotherapy- all must envision suffering and illness as something “wrong.”  They have a vested interest in psychology as it is now conceived. They must see sickness in the soul so they can get in there and do their job.  But suppose the fantasies, feelings, and behavior arising from the imaginal part of ourselves are archetypal in their sickness and thus natural.  Suppose they are authentic, belonging to the nature of man; suppose even that their odd irrationalities are required for life, else we wither into rigid stalks of reason. –James Hillman, The Myth of Analysis: Three Essays on Archetypal Psychology, pages 3 – 4

Hillman highlights in this work that “we discover a sense of soul in the sufferings of psychopathology” (p. 4-5), and so we can move with our psyche into life with its “sickness,” so to speak, instead of giving our power over to a therapist in analysis or trying to repress feelings in order to fit into the “real world” of society.  I don’t mean to suggest by any means that one should avoid entering therapy with a therapist- however, the current Venus retrograde in Capricorn is a further sign of the danger we can cause for ourselves by judging our feelings and fantasies through a lens of shame and guilt.  The story of Psyche and Eros carries the potential of us connecting with our inner divinity, our soul, and even true love by learning to express our authentic emotions without shame and guilt, as Psyche and Eros each learn to do.

In Evolutionary Astrology as taught by Jeff Green, the Capricorn archetype  that connects with our current Venus retrograde in part involves the structure of form, the phenomenon of time and space which connects with our sense of mortality and the limitations of form and structure.  This sense of structure in the Capricorn archetype leads to the collective organization of people into societies with consensus laws that lead to social expectations, bringing us to the concepts of conformity and resulting guilt or shame one can feel from breaking free of consensus conformity.  Venus in the sign of Capricorn as a result can become controlled or cautious in expressing their emotional needs not because of lacking deep feelings- instead it is actually the opposite, Venus in Capricorn underneath carries enormous magnetism and passion-  but there can be trepidation to share feelings and needs because of a fear of rejection or false judgment.  When we have not had our emotional needs met in childhood, or experienced either rejection or wrong judgment from our parents or other early authority figures, we  can end up with emotional needs as adults that have become incredibly distorted and exaggerated because of being displaced from a childhood in which our sense of having an inner authority was suppressed or broken in some manner.

As a result as adults we can develop a tendency to then have a fear of expressing our true emotional needs for fear of being judged, and our own internal conflicts with our own sense of inner authority can lead us to attract partners into our lives who play out the role of a controlling, dominating, judgmental, or hypocritical authority over us.  Venus retrograde in Capricorn will give us the opportunity to utilize the Capricorn gift of structure to reflect upon the nature of imprinting we received from our parents and early development in the society we were born into, in order to gain awareness for how we have developed our current self-image so that we can now re-structure our inner relationship with our self in greater alignment with our authentic emotions and needs.  With this Venus retrograde in Capricorn happening inside the context of an intense Cardinal Grand Cross (Libra Mars opposite Uranus in Aries, both in square to Jupiter in Cancer opposite Pluto in Capricorn along with Mercury, the Sun, and the Moon at the moment) we may gain a visceral sense of a vast emptiness we have inside of us from not having our emotional needs met in the past, an inner void we attempt to fill with obsessions or addictions of one sort or another- this is the same source a lot of our romantic projections can come from that are more about a fantasy of having our emotional needs met more so than intimacy with the actual reality of the person we desire, or a projection that is more about having someone else meet our needs instead of doing the hard inner work to nurture the needs inside of us that we are actually responsible for.  Of course, this dynamic can also play out in other ways, such as an overcompensation in which we attempt to control others or events in a role of an external authority, leading to a tendency to attract relationships that are dependent upon us, mirroring our own actual need to have someone take care of our own needs.  Whatever internal dynamics are at play inside of us at this time, with inner attention it will be possible to reach profound realizations of how our inner world is impacting the external world we are experiencing.

It is notable that Jeff Green was born with a Scorpio Venus retrograde on his Ascendant, and so his perspective of how the Venus retrograde cycle connects with the evolution of our connection with our soul comes from his own unique experience:

[Venus retrograde] is a very significant time for all individuals on Earth because it will correlate to a time frame in which we must reexamine and reflect on the overall nature of our reality.  The intention in this is to become aware of what we no longer need in our lives- the dynamics or circumstances that are now counterproductive to our need to grow and move forward.  At the same time, it creates an awareness of what we do need in order to move forward . . . [it can also] correlate to a time in which we re-experience old issues or dynamics that we may have felt that we have already worked through or left behind.

–Jeff Green, Pluto Vol. II: The Soul’s Evolution through Relationship, pp. 202-3

With Venus retrograde in Capricorn, this will utilize the Cardinal sign archetype of moving backwards in order to move forwards, in part through possibly having old wounds, memories, and issues dredged up for us to reflect upon.  Since Venus is in Capricorn, we can utilize the self-determination of Capricorn to not drown in past emotional wounding but instead use the awareness for how we have developed our current self-image to de-condition ourselves from this past process so that we can then re-create a new self-image that aligns with our true self-empowerment.  With the recent trine between Jupiter in Cancer and Saturn in Scorpio, and a Cancer Jupiter that is widely opposite Capricorn Venus, we will have greater capacity to re-create a new self-image that will facilitate us integrating into society in a new way that aligns with our actualized self or intrinsic individuality.  Important in this Capricorn process of Venus will be the removal of guilt associations from our past conditioning, so that we can freely express our emotional needs without restriction or fear of rejection or judgment.

In the story of Psyche and Eros, I feel that Psyche’s time in the castle of Eros was like a time spent in a Capricorn structure of her conditioned societal needs- having great wealth, overflowing food and luxury, and erotic sex every night.  When she leaves the structure Eros secretly created to express his desire for her without claiming his own inner authority to defy his mother Aphrodite, Psyche is thrown into trials and tribulations that open her to her deepest emotions and vulnerability, not unlike a journey into the Cancer polarity of Capricorn.  More than once Psyche overflows with emotion and vulnerability near water, and learns to express her needs to her environment while also surrendering herself to an allowing of what life is bringing to her. To me, there is an emotional integrity and emotional authenticity she gains that is not unlike the Queen of Cups in the tarot.  In fact, while contemplating this article I have had a few images come to mind of a Queen of Cups tarot card integrating the image of Psyche overcoming her trials and tribulations through psychic sensitivity and emotional authenticity.

This brings us to the astrological meaning of the Psyche asteroid, which Demetra George has viewed as “a higher octave of Venus, expressing a refinement of personal love and psychic attunement to another” (George, p. 188).  According to Demetra, when we follow the path of Psyche we find that “conscious relationship provides a path to spiritual illumination,” and in our birth charts the Psyche asteroid symbolizes our “capacity for psychic sensitivity to the mind and feelings of another person” (George, p. 188).  In contrast, Demetra has viewed the Eros asteroid as representing “passionate desire” and the “masculine sexual force . . . and generative masculine power which brought the world into creation” (George, p. 189).  If you do not like ascribing the term masculine to Eros, in remembrance of the original multi-gender nature of this deity, I do feel it is important to associate Eros much more with an active yang energy in interpretation more so than the receptive yin energy embodied by Psyche.  Demetra also has described Eros as a “higher octave of Mars,” and that he symbolizes “one’s passion, sexual attraction, sexual preference, and vital energy . . . the need to continuously recreate the excitement of falling in and being in love” (George, p. 189).

This idea of Psyche being a higher octave of Venus and Eros a higher octave of Mars makes them even more significant to the current astrological climate with regards to the transit of the lunar nodes.  Currently we are finishing the transit of the South Node of the Moon in Taurus, ruled by the transiting Venus in Capricorn that has now gone retrograde.  At the same time we are concluding the transit of the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio, ruled in traditional astrology by transiting Mars that is currently in Libra.  In February of 2014 we will have a transition of lunar nodes to the South Node of the Moon entering the sign of Aries, meaning that the transiting Mars in Libra will become the ruler of the transiting South Node, as the North Node of the Moon enters the sign of Libra (it will even do this conjunct Mars in Libra) meaning that Venus will become the ruler of the transiting North Node.  Not long after this transition, Mars will station retrograde, so we end up with a phenomenon with this transition of lunar nodes with the ruler of the South Node, first Venus and then Mars, being retrograde.  If that did not completely confuse you, it means in part a heightened intensity of processing past patterns in all of our relationships, including our inner relationship with our Self and how this is projected outward in our relationships.

Finally, I want to include a few astrology charts to point out where exactly the Psyche and Eros asteroids have been in the context of the greater whole.  Below is a chart for the December Solstice of 2013, the same day that Venus stationed retrograde, the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.  When looking at this chart, you can place Eros at roughly six degrees of Scorpio and Psyche at  twenty-eight degrees of Capricorn:

DecemberSolstice2013WRIGC1As you can see, therefore, exactly when Venus stationed retrograde on the Winter Solstice of 2013 in full-expression of the Sea-Goat, at the very end of Capricorn, she did so with Psyche conjunct the Sun and Mercury at their mid-point, with Eros conjunct the North Node of the Moon in Scorpio. Electrifying the intensity of Venus at this time was the catalyst planet Uranus stationing direct a few days earlier at the height of a Full Moon aligned with the Galactic Center.  At this time of the December 17 Full Moon, the Psyche asteroid was conjunct the Sun by one degree at 26 Sagitarius, at the same time also conjunct the Galactic Center.  At this Full Moon the asteroid Eros was conjunct the North Node of the Moon by four degrees, at 3 degrees of Scorpio. And so began the forty day journey of Venus carrying the sacred fool energy of Uranus into the underworld, an expedition that will take us from the Solstice all the way to our next cross-quarter holy day of Candlemas on January 31 when Venus will station direct conjunct Psyche and Pluto and in opposition to Jupiter. At this time of Venus stationing direct, it is fascinating that the Eros asteroid will have entered the sign of Sagitarius and will be in a significant square to Neptune in Pisces-  this aspect relates to experiences or reflections that ultimately will help us liberate ourselves from conditioned romantic patterns of our personal and collective past.

Finally, I will end with the chart of the potent New Moon occurring on January 1, 2014 that ushers in the year of 2014 with a Cardinal Grand Cross that will have a huge influence on events of the next year.  You can place the Psyche asteroid into this chart at roughly three degrees of Capricorn, widely conjunct the New Moon and widely square to Uranus, and more closely in trine to the South Node of the Moon in Taurus.  You can place Eros into this chart at roughly fifteen degrees of Scorpio, in trine to Jupiter and the true node of Black Moon Lilith in Cancer, and more widely in trine to Chiron in Pisces.  Eros at this time is entering into a conjunction with Saturn in Scorpio that significantly will become exact around the time of the inferior conjunction of Venus and the Sun around January 11, 2014:

NewMoonNewYear2014WRIGC1This New Moon is all the more powerful because another figure who has more experience descending to the underworld and ascending back to the upper-world, Mercury, will be conjunct both the New Moon and Pluto, widely also conjunct Psyche.  Mercury at this time is still combust the Sun having just experienced his superior conjunction with the Sun- he is moving so fast, so close to the Sun from our perspective, that we may be flooded with so much information it may be difficult to process the insights occurring at this time.  However, powerful insight into the deep nature of our Self is available at this time.  This is an incredibly opportune moment to clear what needs clearing from our past, and to set intentions for our future to step onto our authentic path like Psyche.  Eros awaits us.

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References

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

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

Hillman, James. (1960). The Myth of Analysis: Three Essays in Archetypal Psychology. Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd.

Tarnas, Richard. (March 2012). Lecture on Astrology, Synchronicity and Romantic Love. Washington State Astrological Association.