TMA This Week
By Gary P. Caton | May 4, 2015
“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”
C.G. Jung (1)
It has become common for modern astrologers to think of Mercury retrograde in terms of “shadow.” The basic idea seems to be that there are two areas or zones of shadow, one before and one after actual retrograde motion. When in these zones, even though Mercury is traveling direct, we are still (at least potentially) subject to retrograde kinds of experiences. So weeks before the retrograde, after Mercury passes the degree of its eventual station direct, Mercury enters a zone of sky that is eventually crossed three times, and it doesn’t leave this zone for weeks after turning direct — until passing the degree of the initial station retrograde.
However, when we consider not just the motion but also the speed of Mercury, it seems these zones before and after the retrograde could be better described as slow zones. So we can imagine that when Mercury comes to the station degree, we are experiencing a sort of “cosmic speed bump,” alerting us that we are in a new kind of zone where new rules and/or codes of conduct may apply, similar to when passing through a school or construction zone while driving.
Nevertheless, even when adding the dimension and nuance of speed, I find this view of Mercury retrograde still wanting. Although taking responsibility for the speed with which we navigate our lives should help to assuage some of the dualistic thinking that seems to accompany the commonly held view of Mercury retrograde (direct = good, retrograde = bad), it remains in my eyes a relatively impoverished view. This is because it is taking into account only two dimensions, those of zodiacal longitude and time/speed. And yet, we live in (at least) three dimensions, don’t we?
Rather than thinking of Mercury retrograde in terms of “shadow,” I feel it is more productive to think of it in terms of light, that is, in terms of the visible apparition of Mercury. When we add the dimension of elongation and altitude, we have a truly multi-dimensional perspective that is less likely to become polarized into dualistic roles. To do this, we must look up from our flat 2D charts and into the third dimension of sky. Doing so, one becomes like a former resident of Plato’s cave, in that what was once perceived as mere shadow is now experienced as light. Ironically, while Mercury is traveling within the modern conception of the shadow zones, he is actually making his highest and brightest appearances in the sky — not only visible to the naked eye, but also brighter than most first-magnitude stars (which is pretty dang bright).
Photo: Mercury at the previous greatest elongation, rising bright as morning star on February 24, 2015 and reflected in the ocean at the inaugural Sky Astrology Conference. (2)
Generally speaking, as Mercury gets furthest from the Sun, he appears higher and brighter in the sky. Astronomers call the points where Mercury reaches furthest distance from the Sun “greatest elongation,” and if you want to actually observe Mercury in the sky, you need to know how to track these times. Unfortunately, they do not appear in any of our modern astrological ephemerides. However, in Volume I of Hermetica Triptycha, my forthcoming series on Mercury, there are 125 years of these alignments arranged into tables categorized by element, sign, degree, and nearby stars. (3)
A few years ago, I discovered a profound mystery contained within the Mercury visible cycle. Zodiacally speaking, the retrograde is a process of Mercury “switching sides” with the Sun. What this means visually is that Mercury “switches skies” and appears both as evening star and morning star within the single retrograde period. Extending this into the so-called shadow periods (before and after the stations), we find that Mercury makes three alignments with the Sun, two visible elongations and one invisible inferior conjunction. Despite being very different in terms of visible phenomenon, mysteriously, all three of these Sun-Mercury events happen within a few degrees of zodiacal longitude.
Some readers will know that there are many variables within Mercury’s orbit. For example, as the late great Robert Blaschke taught, there are actually three different types of retrogrades according to their duration, i.e., short, medium, and long. (4) And yet despite significant differences from one retrograde period to another, the alignments of the two greatest elongations and the inferior conjunction always happen near the same degrees. This is the single constant or fixed element within the cycle of Mercury. It would therefore seem as if these particular thrice-crossed degrees are ones to which we should be paying special attention.
My observations as a mundane astrologer over the last several years have borne out this idea. When Mercury made these three alignments (e.g., the two greatest elongations and the inferior conjunction) in degrees that are sensitive in some way, we have seen increased volatility. For instance, Mercury’s greatest elongations and inferior conjunction occurred near the winter solstice point in late 2010 as the Tunisian Revolution sparked off what became known as the Arab Spring. (See table) And when the Mercurial triple alignments crossed the vernal point in 2012, we saw a coup d’etat in Mali. (See table)
Last year the Mercurial triple-alignments crossed the summer solstice point. On June 29, 2014, we saw the extremist organization, ISIL, proclaim a Worldwide Caliphate or Islamic state. (See table)
Mercury is about to make the triple-alignments with the Sun in the degree of the Royal star Aldebaran (10º Gemini). My suspicion is that we are moving into another of these zones of major volatility or special significance. Just as there is a mundane cross formed by the equinoxes and solstices, there is a celestial cross formed by four very bright stars known as the Royal Stars of Persia. Two bright red stars, Aldebaran and Antares, lie opposite each other and these form a celestial cross with another opposition of two bright blue stars, Fomalhaut and Regulus. At one time this heavenly cross aligned with the mundane cross, and so these stars became associated with the cardinal directions. In this format, Aldebaran was known as “watcher of the east,” when it presided over the vernal equinox.
Depending on the “orb” of influence, or what time value we might wish to associate with these triple-alignments, we might see the developments in Baltimore around the Freddie Gray homicide as being related to these upcoming triple-alignments of Mercury with Aldebaran. Bernadette Brady says this star is about integrity. (5) One current issue seems to be the integrity of hyper-militarized police forces on a national level; deaths of people of color by police have become a huge issue over the last year. Gray was arrested on April 12 — with Mercury past the superior conjunction to the Sun in Aries — and died April 19, 2015 from his injuries.
This example makes me wonder if the thrice-crossed degrees of the maximum elongations and inferior conjunction could possibly become activated as early as the previous superior conjunction and remain active as late as the following superior conjunction. In any event, with Mercury in Gemini, we do now seem to be within the range of influence of these degrees and the star Aldebaran (10º Gemini).
After weeks of protests and unrest, on May 1, Gray’s arrest was ruled illegal and his death declared a homicide, and Baltimore’s chief prosecutor charged six police officers with a range of crimes including murder and manslaughter. (6) Perhaps if Freddie Gray can get justice, his death may serve a larger purpose and we can finally begin a trend toward more police accountability in our country.
If you would like to know more about these triple alignments, and how to track them and use them for personal growth and transformation, please click the link in my publisher’s website and sign up for my mailing list, which will also keep you apprised of the release of my book.
References and recommended reading:
(1) C.G. Jung, “Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious,” (R. F. C. Hull, translator). Contained in The Collected Works of C.G. Jung (vol. 9 pt. 1), H. Read et al. (Series Editors), Princeton University Press, 1969.
(Jung is referencing the anima archetype, or the unconscious magical inner feminine aspect within a man, which at first appears to him as merely chaotic.)
(2) For more info about this pioneering event, please see Dream Astrologer.
(3) Volume I is expected out this summer, published by Rubedo Press.
(4) Mercury in Taurus Recurring Cycle for Goldman Sachs Financial Crises by Robert Blaschke
(6) NY Times
Bio: Gary P Caton is an eclectic astrologer who embraces an organic, process-oriented approach to spiritual growth and transformation via engagement with the living sky. In 1993, after an intensive exploration of shamanism and tarot, Gary was initiated into the astrological sciences by a dream that revealed the Sun-Venus cazimi. In 2002, Caton received a Bachelor in Counseling Psychology from Old Dominion University, and over the past 20 years he has developed a unique multidisciplinary astrological practice. Visit Gary at his website: Dream Astrologer
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By Kelly Surtees | April 20, 2015
Where I live, in a small town northwest of Toronto, Ontario, May is when the gardens come alive. The bulbs that burst through the ground in April turn into stunning hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils, filling the garden with colour and scent. This blossoming is hard to ignore — and it’s catching. I too feel like shinning a little brighter, and want to put my best foot forward, as if the weather has finally warmed enough to refresh my spirit after the intense and cold winter. I know that for readers in Australia, or other countries in the Southern Hemisphere, May days are cool and dark, as autumn settles in. May in Sydney, where I’m from, can be about hunkering down, nesting, and enjoying a full bodied red wine by the fire.
Whether you’re ready to burst forth like my garden, or starting to pull out your winter woollies like my Sydney family, the planets have plenty of oomph to offer this May.
To celebrate the fifth month, I’ve selected five important aspects for the month ahead. Of course, there are many others, but I went with my personal set of priorities (inner planets in aspect to Saturn/outer planets, and harder aspects over easier ones) to come up with this list of five aspects to note for May 2015. Once I did that, I listed them chronologically. You’ll notice that these five featured aspects all fall in the second half of May.
May 13 – 15: Mars opposition Saturn, 2° – 3° Gemini/Sagittarius
Mars is a planet about movement, ideally movement that is fast paced. Saturn is a planet about “stop!” or at least, “go slow.” Under such an intense angle, questions about going or stopping must be raised. Do you want to do (Mars) something so badly you will overcome any obstacle, or do so at any cost? Or, are you willing to pause and learn what you can along the way, which might include a more efficient use of your time, energy or resources?
Saturn also represents fear. When Mars, the doing planet, touches Saturn, anxiety, worry, or insecurity can arise. “Can I really do this?” “Am I ready?” “Do I still want to do this?” Think of these questions as natural checks and balances. What looks like a brick wall or sounds like a reason to stop may be a challenge indeed, but it may be a challenge of your commitment to the task at hand, rather than anything meant to be a permanent barrier. To do this one thing, you might need to not do one or two other things. Is that a choice you’re willing to make?
So under this thoughtful and measured seesaw-like opposition, it may pay to slow down, step back, and take the advice of a wise elder. Experience has value and the wisdom of those who’ve done what you want to do may reveal an essential piece of advice that you’d overlook if you acted in haste. Under this aspect, it’s a case of “slow and steady wins the race.”
May 21 – 23: Sun opposite Saturn, 1°- 2° Gemini/Sagittarius
The Sun is actually the third planet to oppose Saturn in May. Mercury also made this opposition back on May 2 – 3. With three planets opposing Saturn in early Sagittarius this month, you may notice a pattern emerging, especially around hurdles that are personally significant. While this sounds demanding — and let’s be honest, Saturn always asks for completion and diligence so there will be no cutting corners — it’s in fact a cosmic gift. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have received a preview of the Saturn-in-Sagittarius topics and themes that are likely to emerge for you.
An opposition between the Sun and Saturn pits the brightest light, the Sun, against the darkest planet, Saturn. This is a true pairing of opposites, so expect highs and lows and the contrast between light and dark to seem extreme. This light and dark is not synonymous with good and bad, but rather an invitation to explore opposites. You might consider what it means to be busy in contrast to what quiet time and not busy really looks and feels like. You might explore the line between duty and expression, between what you want to do and what you must do.
Given the back and forth nature of an opposition, you may re-negotiate an existing commitment, contract, or responsibility. Saturn can bring awareness — which grows from a dark, deep place within — about what is and isn’t working. If so, use the strength of Saturn to connect with your backbone and make necessary real-world adjustments.
The Sun always wants to shine. It’s the planet that inspires you to be brighter, be better, and be more you. Under this opposition, you may need an adjustment or a redirection to back up to your most authentic path. Even if it means work, it will be worth it.
May 20 – 22: Venus opposite Pluto, 15° – 16° Cancer/Capricorn; and May 24 – 26, Venus square Uranus, 19° – 20° Cancer/Aries
I put these two aspects together because Uranus and Pluto are only a couple of degrees from their exact square aspect. Venus in Cancer represents the yearning for family, for a nurturing clan that always has your back. There’s an element of tradition within the Cancer/Capricorn axis, and planets in these signs might manifest in a more conservative or cautious way.
As Venus opposes Pluto, family dramas may intensify, or issues concerning trust, truth, and honesty may arise in all kinds of relationships. Venus in Cancer seems most particularly about family relationships, but it’s still Venus, the love goddess, so consider any intimate or close partnership, either at work or in your personal life. The seesaw theme of the opposition appears again. This time the dance is between what helps secure the future of a close relationship and the requirements placed upon you by work or external factors. Cancer/Capricorn oppositions can highlight the eternal struggle to balance work and family. Under this aspect, currently operating patterns may need to change.
Venus doesn’t oppose Pluto in a vacuum. Shortly afterward, Venus will square Uranus, creating a clash-bang theme that is sure to shake up the rhythms in your home or within your most nourishing relationships. Uranus in Aries is all about innovation and independence, values that are at odds with the focus on tradition and security highlighted by Venus in Cancer. This can create an uncomfortable feeling that might indicate a need to experiment. Rather than stick your head in the sand, you might find that a curious attitude to an emerging possibility will help add excitement and reshape home, family, and love so that it’s more relevant for today.
May 24 – 26: Mars square Neptune, 9° – 10° Gemini/Pisces
The typically alert and active drive of Mars is muted now, both by Mars’ proximity to the Sun (technically combust) and through Mars’ interplay with free-floating Neptune. The realm of what might be or a much desired fantasy could interfere with day-to-day reality. If possible, avoid major decisions and reduce demanding commitments. A singular focus or goal may help you get something done, though really, under aspects like these, a break from work or time off may be best.
Anything that allows you to lie low and catch up on rest would be ideal. Music, time in or near the ocean or water, or disconnecting from reality and escaping via your preferred artistic medium can help you recharge. A lack of clarity can impede progress. If you feel in a bit of a fog, go slow or turn your attention inward. Ideas, feelings, and concepts may be hard to pin down, but with a little time or reflection the right choice will crystallise.
May 30 – 31: Sun square Neptune, 9° – 10° Gemini/Pisces
It’s the end of the month, but in the lead-up to the early June Sagittarius Full Moon, you might stumble into a puddle. This puddle might be forgotten feelings, or a neglected dream or yearning you’ve been trying to ignore. Life can be hazy or a bit messy when the Sun and Neptune trigger each other, but this will add depth and richness. If possible, allow space to explore what bubbles up seemingly out of nowhere.
A longing for the perfect experience, or the desire to get a little closer to your dream life, might leave you disillusioned with the way things are. In this discontent lies opportunity. Use any feelings of sadness or frustration that emerge now as clues to what you need to add to your life, especially if there’s an experience or a hobby that brings you joy that you’ve pushed to the bottom of your to-do list. It might not seem practical, but adding it back in now — even in the midst of what otherwise seems like a bustling week — can reinvigorate you. A slight detour sometimes reveals the most exciting possibilities. Try not to over-think your instincts. Go with the flow, without expectation.
Kelly is a consulting astrologer, teacher, writer, and editor who works with clients and students around the world. With more than 12 years in private practice, Kelly is experienced, warm, and insightful. She loves exploring astrology’s history as well as escaping into the ocean. Kelly’s passion for astrology is infectious, and her specialty areas include Moon Phases, timing techniques like progressions, and incorporating traditional concepts. She can be found lecturing at conferences throughout the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Kelly holds the Australian FAA Practitioner’s Diploma and is an expat Aussie who lives in Canada most of the year. Website: Kelly’s Astrology
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By Mary Plumb | February 9, 2015
Midday on Sunday, with the transiting Moon in Libra opposing Uranus (13°33′ Aries) and about to square Pluto (14°27′ Cap), I got a call from a friend who was having a panic attack. I was able to stay on the phone with her until her partner got home.
These “panic attack” moments are somewhat familiar to those of us tracking the ongoing Uranus-Pluto square, now approaching the 7th and final exact aspect on March 16 at 15°18′ of their respective cardinal signs. I wrote a few weeks ago that this is the aspect “that has been keeping us from falling back to sleep.”
The sequence of the Moon’s travels on Sunday, however, led me to think about Jupiter. After the square to Pluto, the Moon made a sextile to Jupiter and a trine to the Sun before moving into Scorpio late tonight (Monday). (1)
Jupiter is retrograde and very bright in the night sky. (2) On February 6th the Sun opposed Jupiter (17°37′ Aquarius – Leo), which places us midway in their synodic cycle that began with the conjunction on July 24, 2014 at 1°52′ Leo. Look to the house in your natal chart where this cycle began and imagine that a benevolent and generous impulse was born there. And now you may look for the fulfillment of an inner promise, or of a vow or oath towards goodness related to the affairs of that house.
Jupiter, the “greater benefic” in traditional astrology, is connected to all manner of plenty and abundance, to that which expands our view and keeps hopefulness on the horizon. (3)
Although we know that the planetary archetypes are finely calibrated in any particular horoscope, I am herein evoking Jupiter as our trust in the goodness of life, our experience of joy and laughter, and the knowing that our inner compass points toward integration. (4)
The opposition means that Jupiter rises around the time the Sun sets, is visible all night, being overhead around midnight, and sets around sunrise. Jupiter will be visible in the night sky throughout February. “The giant world burns at magnitude minus 2.6, three times as bright as Sirius, the brightest star, which sparkles very far to Jupiter’s right or lower right on February evenings.” (5)
Here are some recent photos from the Hubble, which show the rare event of three moons of Jupiter crossing the face of the planet at the same time. “In the last 15 years, this has happened only twice, the Space Telescope Science Institute said. ‘The next one will be 2032,’ said astronomer Carol Christian.”
With clear skies you can see Jupiter in the night sky, and here you can listen to the sounds of Jupiter (from a Voyager recording):
Enjoy the current planets on your screen here: What’s Up for February 2015, a graphic overview from NASA including Jupiter’s moons, the Venus-Mars conjunction on the 21st, and Juno.
Have a good week, everyone. Keep looking up on the clear nights this month to see the greater benefic guiding you along.
(1) In horary terms, this is a translation of light by the Moon from Jupiter to the Sun; the Moon is carrying the light of Jupiter to the Sun. However, some sources say the translation is more effective if, in this case, the Moon (in Libra) were receiving either Jupiter (Leo) or the Sun (Aquarius). “Some references suggest a need for the transferring planet to be received by the planet it is separating from or applying to.” I am thinking of it in poetic terms — as I am writing, the Moon is connecting Jupiter and the Sun.
(2) Jupiter stationed retrograde on December 8 at 22° Leo and will go direct on April 8 at 12° Leo.
(3) Chris Brennan: “The term ‘benefic’ is derived from the Greek term agathopoios which literally means ‘good-doer’ “
Horoscopic Astrology Blog
“Jupiter was not only the protective deity of the race, but he was regarded as the guardian of public morality, being concerned with oaths, treaties, alliances, and wars. Socially Jupiter also was concerned with the citizen’s duties toward the gods, state, and family….He was particularly responsible for honoring oaths, which led to the practice of swearing in his name, by Jupiter! Or by Jove!”
(4) According to the doctrine of sect, for example, Jupiter is a more obvious benefic in the chart of a person born during the day. Jupiter’s place by sign, house, aspects, reception, etc., are some of the variables in a more specific assessment of its function in a horoscope.
(5) NBC News
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By Lance Ferguson | December 1, 2014
All times are given in CST. Subtract one hour for MST; subtract two hours for PST; add one hour for EST and six hours for GMT.
(Editor’s note:The author notes “kiss” times as good for scheduling events. “Quack” times are more complicated or difficult — good times to stick to routine.)
Monday, December 1: Buckle up. We are in the midst of one of the most difficult periods of time, as rebellious Uranus approaches a challenging square to destructive Pluto in the heavens. Brutal dictators came to power in the early 1930’s when this aspect last occurred in the sky. This Uranus-Pluto energy has affected world events since their first exact contact in 2012, followed by four more exact squares since then. The sixth square occurs on December 14 and suggests the possibility of further reports of violence and destruction in the headlines, as these two powerful planets unleash the dogs of war.
Most of us will notice an unsteady, off-center, somewhat crazy kind of feeling as this square gets tighter. Try not to get caught up in the high drama that may unfold around you. Best to sit tight over the first two weeks of the month unless you’re forced to move. The square prompts some folks to act out their unpredictable, rebellious side, and is also likely to forecast problems with computers and electricity, both ruled by Uranus.
The good news is that the rest of the Skywatch this month is upbeat and positive. Green lights are up on Monday. This is a stellar day for making important calls and doing business. The Sun and Moon form a trine at 11:30 a.m. (CST), setting the stage for progress. Even better, Mars and Saturn are in a complementary sextile at 1:00 p.m. One quack: Moon square demanding Pluto at 4:12 p.m. Take a break then, and wait for a surprise as Luna travels on to meet unpredictable Uranus at 5:12 p.m. Clear skies follow. As times change…..
Tuesday, December 2: Get an early start, because the Skywatch is excellent this morning for everything on your agenda. The Moon trines Venus at 5:14 a.m., inspiring a positive start to your day. The big kiss follows as the Moon in fiery Aries lines up in a trine to lucky Jupiter in Leo at 10:16 a.m. The good vibes will hang out all morning and suggest a very good time to meet new clients, interview for a job, and to ask for what you want. Clear skies follow until 8:42 p.m. when the Moon squares Mars. Use the Mars energy to do the dishes or take a walk. Quiet hours follow. As times change….
Wednesday, December 3: We are on a roll. The Skywatch over the next three days is loaded with positive markers. Plus, the Moon entered its favorite sign Taurus late last night and makes only kisses today. Green lights are up for work or play. Trust your intuition this morning as Luna sextiles psychic Neptune at 7:50 a.m. Clear skies follow until the Moon makes a splendid trine to healing Pluto at 8:46 p.m. tonight. Yes, speak up this evening — the lines are open.
If this is your birthday week (Nov. 30 — Dec. 6), you’ve got a hot car to run fast and far during your new year, Sagittarius. Your 2014 Solar Return has two big-time kisses, starting with Uranus trining your natal Sun. Uranus can spark your genius and make necessary life changes easier. When connected to your Sun, it is also more likely that bosses and other authority figures will approve of your work and ideas. This trine prompts you to follow your bliss and Uranus won’t be in a position to trine your Sun again until 2040-42. The second kiss is pure joy as sweet Venus trines lucky Jupiter, your ruler. Put yourself in the position to find love and improve your finances, to let Venus and Jupiter make you a winner. You won’t pass this way again, Sag. As times change….
Thursday, December 4: A day of Grace. The Skywatch is fabulous for gambling and taking a chance in life today. Sweet Venus trines lucky Jupiter at 1:11 p.m., infusing morning and early afternoon hours with a positive perspective and an easygoing vibe. This also suggests a very good morning for cosmetic/beauty appointments of all kinds — Venus has a lovely touch. One moment to slow down appears at 3:12 p.m. when the Moon squares Jupiter — this is minor and fades very quickly. A flash of lightning, a moment of truth, or perhaps a brilliant new idea appears in the Skywatch when the Sun trines innovative Uranus at 4:30 p.m. Clear skies follow into the evening hours. Nothing planned today? Pay attention to who and what show up — good news is likely. As times change…..
Friday, December 5: New ideas, new thinking. The main event in the Skywatch today is logical Mercury making a complementary trine to Uranus, exact at 9:44 p.m. This is a good day and evening to think outside the box and to get your message out there. A hearty Moon-Mars trine at 5:07 a.m. releases an extra bolt of energy into the early hours. The only quack is a foggy Moon-Neptune square at 1:21 p.m. Slow down and pay attention around this moment – clear skies will quickly follow. A Full Moon in clever Gemini lights up the evening skies; the words may come fast and furious as feelings surface. Listen carefully and you are likely to hear the truth. As times change…..
Saturday, December 6: Lots of words. A Full Moon in curious Gemini becomes exact at 6:27 a.m. this morning. The energy of this event is bound to wake the kids up earlier than usual and sets the stage for a high energy and enjoyable day. Green lights are up for work and play. The only other event in the Skywatch is a kiss: Moon sextiles generous Jupiter at 9:48 p.m. Clear skies follow.
Sunday, December 7: The Skywatch is mellow. The Moon turns Void of Course at 3:52 a.m. until she enters home sign Cancer at 11:34 a.m. this morning. Starting then, green lights come on for the rest of the day and night. A gentle Moon-Neptune trine at 8:53 p.m. favors art, music, dance, romance, and a sweet bedtime story. As times change….
Bio: Lance Ferguson lives on the south Texas coast and has been reading natal charts and teaching astrology since 1979. He began to write Skywatch in 1989 and now posts the highs and lows for the day on his website daily. The good aspects in the heavens he calls “kisses” — these are the better days and times to take action. He turns on the caution lights when stressful aspects appear in the heavens, signaling days when things can be a bit tense or out-of-synch; he calls these events “quacks.” Use his daily forecast to help you make the right calls at the right time, and to schedule the important events in your life. He offers the 2015 Skywatch Long-Range Datebook: An Astrological Timing Guide for All Signs. Please see Skywatch Astrology for details. Contact him at Lance@Skywatchastrology.com
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By Mary Plumb | November 3, 2014
I once heard Robert Hand talk about Saturn in an early period in astrological history (Babylonian/Egyptian?). Saturn was not usually named, but called “the Sun at midnight.”
Saturn was not seen as a malefic — the question “Have you seen the Sun at midnight?” meant “Have you confronted Saturn?”
Those of us with planets or sensitive points in late Scorpio (or in 8th-harmonic aspect to 24°- 30° Scorpio) are now in some version of serious inner inquiry. Saturn got to 23° Scorpio in March, went retrograde, then turned direct at 16° in late July. Saturn just arrived at a new degree (24°) on November 1. The current weeks — until December 23 when Saturn enters Sagittarius — are Saturn’s first transit through these late degrees. Certainly, the ground for Saturn’s work has been well prepared (Saturn entered Scorpio in October 2012), but these late degrees are quite ready to complete the confrontation with Saturn in this cycle.
Alchemical and esoteric texts speak of Saturn as the planet of discipleship. Saturn is connected to the negrido, the blackness wherein the great work of self-knowledge starts. In Scorpio, this is not an intellectual pursuit, but rather a confrontation with one’s inner reality in often painful ways. Saturn is known of course to bring states of depression and melancholy, but these emotional experiences can lead us to begin to see in the dark, to see what has heretofore been hidden. (1)
(In alchemical language, the next stage is often said to be the albedo, the white phase, wherein we have a new understanding of ourselves, or a particular problem, and see a way to keep going.)
But now we are still moving towards the center of ourselves, where the seed of change can be most potently ignited.
Saturn’s connection is also to boundaries, the land of the “ring-pass-not” in esoteric lore. These rings, so astoundingly beautiful with Saturn — do not pass any opportunity you may have to see them through a telescope — are often imagined as the beliefs, the ego structures, that keep us separate. Saturn also suggests the temporarily impassible frontiers; with time, and with enormous patience and attentiveness, we observe ourselves carefully, slowly, and kindly.
Scorpio holds the deep mystery of all that is unredeemed, all those who have gone to the land of the shades, those parts of ourselves, heretofore unseen, unfelt, or trapped in memory or regret.
These last few weeks invite us to not move too hastily away from attending to the unconscious and the invisible world that is replete with meaning and carried through emotion. (2)
For some, this will be inevitable, as there is no ego structure left to keep the interior life at bay, and some certainly have the patience to wait, to sense as meaning begins to unfurl from the inside out.
Saturn has a way of stripping away aspects of consciousness wherein we prefer to dwell, those arenas (seen often as the Sun and the Moon) where we are recognized and rewarded, or at least feel comfortable. Saturn in Scorpio’s many gifts include the deep intelligence of instinct and intuition, and the acceptance that much of our inner lives cannot be put into words.
I have found a few poems from that often unspeakable land.
Rilke’s poem, Pushing Through, is often quoted as solace for the process of grief. It speaks of the essence of Saturn in Scorpio. We only have a few more weeks (well yes, a short revisit during his retrograde phase in summer 2015, but by then we will have tasted the spirit of Sagittarius to guide us), so let’s make the best of it.
It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock
in flintlike layers,
as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through,
and no space: everything is close to my face,
and everything close to my face is stone.
I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief –
so this massive darkness makes me small.
You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in: then your great transforming
will happen to me, and my great grief cry will happen to you.
Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Robert Bly)
And this, by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.
Trust in the Slow Work of God
Above all, trust in the slow work of God
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability-
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
your ideas mature gradually – let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God, our loving vine-dresser. Amen.
(1) I have been wondering about Sect in this regard — see The Astrology of Sect by Chris Brennan (TMA 12/10) and Understanding Sect by Austin Coppock (TMA 10/13). Although Saturn is in Sect in a daytime chart, maybe those born at night have a somewhat easier passageway into the kind of interior process I am describing here. People born at night are naturally “beholden to the forces” of the night, both in symbolism and experience. (To quote Austin Coppock: “The implication of Sect is that the time one was born marks one as being more beholden to the forces of either day or night.”)
(2) Although likely known by mystics and healers since the beginning of time, the idea that ancestral memory may be carried in the DNA has been a theme in scientific circles with the current transit of Saturn in Scorpio.
See “Scientists have found that memories may be passed down through generations in our DNA”: The Mind Unleashed
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By Mary Plumb | September 29, 2014
I am writing this after the closing ceremony at the ISAR 2014 conference in Phoenix. The event’s title, Stepping into the Circle, Embracing the Spirit of Community, has come to life vividly. The event began on Thursday the 25th with Jupiter, Uranus, and Mars in a fire trine.
At the opening ceremony we were honored (and delighted and amazed) with the Hoop Dance, a live rendition of the Man in the Maze legend of the Pima and Maricopa people, on whose sacred land the event was held. The Wild Horse Pass Resort in Chandler, Arizona is a beautiful environment on the reservation of the Pima and Maricopa people, who partnered with ISAR to host the conference.
It has been a wonderful event, from the spectacular setting to the carefully designed schedule (not too hectic — space and time to appreciate each other), and, of course, the great presentations of astrologers from all over the world. (The guest/faculty list was composed of people from 23 countries.)
Congratulations and thank you to ISAR. Although the three people I will name were generous in their appreciation of all the (other) people who helped produce the conference, special thanks to Gisele Terry (who opened with a beautiful talk on the layers of symbolism within the circle that we entered together), Chris McRae, and Michelle Gould.
A spirit of community and inclusion within the world of astrology provided a backdrop for a number of brilliant and diverse speakers, some of whom I hope to invite onto this blog in the coming weeks. I had a chance to talk with many loyal friends of TMA and met many new friends — it was a glorious time. Thanks also to everyone who shared such warm appreciation to Tem and the TMA staff.
Onwards, to the Full Moon eclipse on October 8.
Have a good week, everyone.
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By Mary Plumb | August 4, 2014
The current lunation cycle began with the July 26th New Moon at 3°51′ Leo (with Jupiter at 2°20′). Mercury entered Leo on the 31st and conjoined Jupiter on August 2nd, also at 3°51′ Leo, beginning a new synodic cycle of that pair. Another synodic cycle begins with the Sun- Mercury superior conjunction on August 8 at 16°03′ Leo.
The current heat, fires, and drought on the west coast are bringing the Leo planets front and center. I’ve also been thinking about the astrological Sun.
I remember a simple technique that I learned from Robert Cole’s book, The Book of Houses (1980). It’s something I’ve used over the years (probably most often with Leo rising charts).
Cole spoke about one’s “four personal holidays” in the year: the days when the transiting Sun crosses each of the angles.
The Sun crossing the Ascendant is reminiscent of one’s birth. We are tender; I think he may have used the image of a newborn chick just hatching out of the egg. It certainly is the beginning of a new yearly cycle for the individual. I spoke with someone today who said she always feels the need to go to the beach and get the sun on her skin on the day the Sun crosses her natal Ascendant. (In this case, early Gemini is on the Ascendant; in the northern hemisphere it’s getting warm and a trip to the beach is possible).
The Sun crossing the nadir is the deepest, darkest, most personal few days. Cole wrote about honoring one’s ancestors, family, and foundations. Our interior private life is what is being charged with the life-giving sustenance of the Sun. I got a call from someone this week who has been sadly estranged from her son for many, many years. She called for emotional support as she felt deeply bereft about her son — it was his birthday and also the transit of the Sun at her nadir. We had never made the connection before, but she remembered that I had given her that day as a personal holiday to honor the family and the past. We both understood the depth of her dismay more clearly by recognizing that her son was born when the transiting Sun was at her nadir.
When the Sun gets to the Descendant, the doorway to the public at large, and to all significant others, opens. I think Cole wrote about compromise with others, i.e., listening to them, placing their needs and desires first (maybe only for one day!). I have used this often with clients in relationship matters. Observing this personal holiday in the year by being most receptive to others is a simple remedy that can cause magic to happen. I know someone with 4° Leo on the Descendant; it wasn’t hard to see ahead of time that last week’s New Moon (with Jupiter) might bring a promising invitation. Seemingly out of the blue, he got a very intriguing job offer from an old family friend who he hasn’t seen in 30 years.
The Sun crossing the Midheaven takes us to the top; we are at the peak of our year when we have a maximum view. We can see where we’ve come from and where we might go next. (Cole wrote about this as our “personal harvest day.”) All matters regarding reputation and career are in the forefront on this day as well.
If you haven’t noticed the ritual of watching the transiting Sun mark your personal turning points in the year, may it be a newfound delight.
Happy Solar Return to all Leos out there. We all bask in the radiance of the Sun!
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By Mary Plumb | June 16, 2014
Every once in awhile I like to write about a book of particular interest for TMA‘s blog. Eclipses and You: How to Align with Life’s Hidden Tides, by Judith Hill, is a book with wide appeal. (1) Although written for the lay reader, there are lots of additions for practicing astrologers in this substantive but easy-to-read-and-apply book.
Judith Hill has an understanding of eclipses born from her long experience with clients and her dedication to astrological research. (Her first paid astrological reading was when she was 14. Now she is somewhere close to my age, so no need to mention how old she is; let’s just say she’s in her prime.)
The author has creative analogies for understanding the essential nature of eclipses and refers to earlier writers’ ideas on the subject, i.e., Robert Carl Jansky and H. S. Green. She speaks of the “tidal waves” of change at eclipse times and describes the four types of eclipses (i.e., North and South Node, Solar and Lunar) in detail. She first establishes the view of north node eclipses as being a “power surge,” or entry point of energy, while the south node eclipse is inclined towards “power outage.” Herein we see echoes of the often recognized view of the north node as the entry point for energy or information and the south node as a release or discharge point.
Although she suggests a professional astrology session for a more specific delineation, Hill also offers a great range of practical ideas for how an eclipse in each sign (both solar and lunar) will impact each of the twelve signs. She is proactive and remedial in approach. Chapter 3: What Can I Do? has suggestions for minimizing the potential negative impact of an upcoming eclipse. (The book has a table for eclipse dates from 2013-2023 which includes the nodal type.) Chapter 6: For Those Who Read Charts has timing tips, notes on planets connected to the eclipse including interpretations by south or north node polarity, and more.
The author’s descriptions of the zodiac signs are informed by her knowledge of many areas within Classical Western Astrology —mundane, horary, vocational, electional — and especially her expertise in medical astrology. Each section includes Medical Effects and Cautions for eclipses in each of the twelve signs, and more specifics as they are relevant for the eclipse’s possible health-related manifestations in each of the other signs. (For example, the section of Cautions for a Pisces eclipse — either solar or lunar — begins: “Anyone on psychiatric medications should be vigilant at this time because Piscean eclipses are highly stimulating to the subconscious mind. Persons suffering from depressive disorders may notice the increasing pressure wave of these eclipses.”)
Hill’s range of interpretations is also noteworthy. A partial description of arenas that may experience “positive or negative waves” at a Virgo Eclipse for Aquarius and/or Aquarius Rising reads “health transformations and improvements, research and analysis, service to others in crises, accounting, financial details, sexual issues and practices, psychoanalysis and self-understanding, spiritual investigation, medicines, health renewals, liver and bowel purification, spouse’s income, health of others, public crises, practical sciences, animal and pet health, arcane research and metaphysical studies. This is a most important phase in an Aquarian’s personal eclipse cycle. It is often the time to dedicate yourself to spiritual, financial, and physical renewal. Correct your mistakes. Discipline, consistency, attention to detail and patience are now required of you.”
Judith Hill offers a great deal of useful information for practicing astrologers, as well as giving the more general reader an exceptionally helpful tour of “aligning with life’s hidden tides.” I think many of you would enjoy her book.
(1) Judith Hill, Eclipses and You: How to Align with Life’s Hidden Tides, Stellium Press, 2013. Available for $15.95 from: judithhillastrology.com
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By Mary Plumb | June 9, 2014
My thanks to Frank Clifford for the idea for this week’s blog, and his permission to include his observations about Maya Angelou from his Horoscope Detective column (TMA Apr./May 2011). I will begin with a slightly edited excerpt from Frank’s article, add a few of my own notes, then link to some other writers on Miss Angelou’s horoscope.
“Sun–Jupiter in Aries Personified
What of those born under the conjunction? In Aries, the Sun–Jupiter person may have a naïve, somewhat innocent take on the world — a blind faith and perhaps a passionate belief that their personal truth will be embraced by others. With this combination, there’s a generosity of spirit, an innate faith in life, an all-consuming hope that’s inhaled at the start of each new day, a fresh quality of exuberance, and a thirst for adventurous enterprise. One may have a strong sense of destiny, of being on a mission — taking up a quest — but sometimes an exaggerated sense of one’s importance (haughty arrogance), a need to play god or to overextend oneself and live life in the moment, though beyond one’s means. There may be high expectations and a desire to be seen as the front-runner, an urgent need to claim one’s birthright, and an eager pursuit of affluence and influence.
Acclaimed poet and activist Maya Angelou has a Grand Passion for life and is an inspirational example of embracing one’s potential, putting one’s heart into life. ‘Life loves the liver of it,’ she has often said. She has written of the triumphs, frustrations, hopes, and joys of the human experience in six volumes of autobiography. The theme of her work encapsulates the positive message of Sun–Jupiter in Aries: the refusal of the human spirit to be hardened.
Maya Angelou, April 4, 1928; 2:10 p.m. CST; Saint Louis, MO, USA (38°N38′, 90°W12′); AA: from birth certificate, as quoted in Contemporary American Horoscopes by Janice Mackey and Jessica Saunders (Astrolabe, 1990).
The 1994 Current Biography Yearbook notes her ‘inexhaustible capacity for renewed hope, determination, and love.’ (1) Essentially, her philosophy is to engage in and experience life with courage. Angelou says, ‘You may encounter many defeats but must not be defeated.’ In true Aries style, she notes, ‘One must learn to care for oneself first, so that one can then dare to care for someone else.’ In May 2009, the Maya Angelou Academy opened at the New Beginnings Youth Development Center. The Academy is designed to help students fulfil their academic or career potential.
Dr. Angelou is a charismatic, 6-foot empress of African-American pride (whose father was ‘much too grand for his colour’). She stands tall as an imposing, positive embodiment of a Sun–Jupiter conjunction (ruling her Leo Ascendant and 5th house): a woman of honesty, integrity, and dignity, living a full life without false modesty or excuse. In her colourful life, she has journeyed from being the first female and first ‘negro’ trolley conductor in San Francisco to a dancer, actress, and nationally treasured symbol of hope, whose literature, poetry, and speeches touch that which is human and universal in all of us (Neptune rising). Her poem for President Clinton’s first inauguration, On the Pulse of Morning, was a soaring call for peace, justice, and harmony. Maya Angelou read this poem at the ceremony on January 20, 1993 (as transiting Jupiter in Libra opposed her Sun–Jupiter, and her progressed Jupiter–Ascendant Astro*Carto*Graphy line closed in on Washington, D.C.). She spoke of the conjunction’s philosophy of being present and vigilant in living life to the utmost: ‘Give birth again to the dream … lift up your hearts. Each new hour holds new chances for new beginnings.’”
(1) Current Biography Yearbook, ed. Judith Graham, H. W. Wilson Co., 1994.
Maya Angelou’s natal Sun is at 15° Aries and there are many connections to the current cardinal planet transits, which other bloggers below have noted. I looked at the solar return preceding death, set for her place of residence, Winston-Salem, NC. Her death was seven weeks after her birthday and she died at home. I am assuming she was there for her birthday, as reports said she had been ill for a while. (1)
Saturn is ruler of the solar return 8th house (Aquarius cusp). On May 28, her death day, transiting Saturn was at 18°42’ Scorpio, conjunct the natal nadir, i.e., the end of the matter. (See natal chart above: the natal Midheaven is 17°39’ Taurus.) Jupiter, ruler of the natal 8th house (Pisces cusp), had come to the solar return Ascendant.
I have an informal study going on regarding the natal Porphyry 8th-house cusp being activated at the time of death. I have seen that degree being triggered by an eclipse (both Full or New Moon, either directly or by square) prior to the death, or by a progressed or transiting planet coming to the cusp.
In this case, Angelou’s 2014 solar return Midheaven is 22°40’ Pisces, on the natal Porphyry 8th cusp.
Here’s something interesting also that is purely anecdotal, not the result of research: in Angelou’s secondary progressed chart, the (Porphyry) 8th-house cusp is 6°46’ Gemini. She passed away on the day of the New Moon at 7°21’ Gemini. (It is interesting also to see Jupiter, ruler of the natal 8th house, directly on the progressed Descendant.) Travel well, Maya Angelou.
Here are others’ thoughtful words.
Tara Green wrote Maya Angelou, tribute to her life, with lots of biographical notes and astrological details. Writing about the transits at her death: “The planet Uranus — higher consciousness — was exactly on her Sun, with Pluto squaring her Sun and Jupiter squaring it as well. Jupiter is of course exactly on her natal Pluto, taking her back home. Pluto in Capricorn is opposite her natal Pluto. Mars is very close to her natal Moon in Libra, and Saturn is Retrograde as at her birth, exactly on her I.C., the roots, foundation, and ending-of-life point. Neptune, planet of spirituality, is close to a square to her North and South nodes, indicating a peaceful journey back to spirit and source from where Maya and all souls originate.“
Amy Eliott writes Maya Angelou: Voice of Power, Humanity, Grace at Planet Waves: “The Aries Sun, her chart ruler, is closely conjunct Jupiter, which powerfully brings to mind one description of her as a ‘professional hopemonger.’ The Sun is also very tightly square Pluto — to within about 1/6 degree — and along with Jupiter these form a t-square with her natal Moon in Libra. This appears to underscore the intensity, or ‘Sturm und Drang,’ as she once put it, with which her life was punctuated.”
Steve Kinsman writes A Brief Biography of Maya Angelou, plus her Horoscope. (This site also features some photos and video links.)
“There is a t-square between the opposition of the Sun-Jupiter conjunction to the Moon and their square to Pluto. (Sun-Pluto 180 degrees from the Moon; Sun-Jupiter and Moon all 90 degrees from Pluto). This t-square in cardinal signs is driven almost obsessively (Pluto) to make a profound (Pluto) difference within the world one inhabits……Finally, the Moon’s position is always notable in a horoscope, because it reveals the ‘reigning psychological need’ of the individual. It reveals what we need to feel like we belong. It is indispensable to our psychological well-being. For Maya Angelou, her reigning psychological need — with her Moon on the cusp of the third house of communication — has been to get her message out, through the form of writing. The extreme proliferation and volume of her writings is seen by the Moon’s strong square to Pluto.”
And this excerpt from Elisabeth Grace (graceastrology.com) in her recap for Thursday, 5/29/2014: Curiouser and Curiouser. “Maya Angelou, the beloved author, poet, activist and Tony-nominated actress, passed away. On Facebook, one of the many heartfelt tributes I read included a friend’s reaction to hearing Miss Angelou speak:
‘This woman has access to the same words as everyone else. How is it she puts them together more beautifully than anyone, and with such ease?’ In awe of her power then. In awe now…
That powerful way with words is suggested, of course, by her horoscope. Immediately we see nebulous Neptune sitting right on top of a queenly Leo Ascendant — opposed by action hero Mars, suggesting a need to be seen as the charismatic projection of a sublime, lyrical, soulful ideal. Alternatively, this pattern could have been expressed as a bewildering or suppressed sense of personal identity — at least in the early home life. The suggestion of suppression (a ‘caged bird’) is echoed by potent Pluto challenging her Sun in warrior Aries. A need for poetic social expression and thinking (a caged bird that sings!) is suggested by an idealistic connection between Mercury and Venus in Pisces. Also of interest: rebel Uranus running wild — and rising ahead of the Aries Sun — suggesting a need for uncompromising freedom and unconventionality — especially in her vocation. Miss Angelou managed the potential of Neptune well and became an inspiration. Her last Tweet: ‘Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.’ RIP.”
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By Mary Plumb | May 5, 2014
On May 11 Venus and Mars will be in opposition at 9°30’ Aries/ Libra. If the skies are clear, both will be visible — Venus, the morning star in the east rising ahead of the Sun, and Mars visible all night.
Venus and Mars are conjunct about every two years. The most recent conjunction, on April 6, 2013, was at 19°57’ Aries. Venus always travels close to the Sun and Mars is always direct at his conjunction with Venus.
But, Mars is always retrograde (or near his station) at his opposition to Venus. (Again, just visualize that Venus is always near the Sun while Mars goes retrograde when nearing opposition to the Sun.)
We know that Mars is completing his retrograde phase on May 19 at 9° Libra. A planet moves slowly at its station and the degree has staying power. Mars is at 9° Libra from May 7 to June 1: Take note as upcoming transits visit that degree.
At the opposition, planets are 180° apart, as far apart as they can be; their contours, functions, qualities, assets, and essence are directly recognizing and mirroring each other.
Although the 180° aspect highlights polarity and the outer world is enticing or demanding, or certainly interesting, polarities exist within our own natures as well. In many traditions, the awareness of opposites is a powerful portal for growth.
This Venus-Mars opposition is especially curious since the planets are in one another’s signs — Venus in Mars-ruled Aries and Mars in Venus-ruled Libra.
In a well-known mythological tale of Venus and Mars, Venus, although married to Vulcan, is enamored with Mars. Vulcan, the god of blacksmiths in Roman lore (his Greek counterpart is Hephaestus), manipulates fire and forges metal. He makes an invisible net to catch the lovers; in some renderings, this is for the amusement of the gods.
Another layer of interpretation, preferred by the alchemist Paracelsus and his followers, describes the net as being of a particular substance that was thought to be an important step in the path of the Great Work. They spoke of the melding of opposites as an important process in one’s inner life.
Iron (Mars) and Copper (Venus) are known as the King and Queen of the metals. Copper is eager to combine with other metals, while Iron is hard, rigid, and capable of great resistance. “On average, women have about 20% higher copper serum than men and for iron it is the other way round, with men having a one-third higher iron level than women in their blood.” (1)
“Iron, or Mars, is the minor malefic, furnishing man with energy, courage, resistance, aggressiveness, and forcefulness. …But iron has the distinction of itself, either permanently or temporarily, becoming magnetic. It thus exhibits an independence and force not possessed by other metals.” (2)
“Copper is a metal of reddish color — soft, pliable, yielding, and a good conductor of heat and electricity. It is an even better conductor of electric force than iron, but is incapable of retaining that force and itself becoming energetic. Iron is a harsh, forceful metal, but copper is mild and gentle….It is truly the metal of union, for it is always more contented when alloyed with another. It thus entirely lacks that independence of character that distinguishes iron, and must ever have a stronger companion upon which to lean.” (3)
Copper, like Venus, has the power of attraction; it combines with other elements to form alloys and transforms other substances into complex salts; because of this versatility in transforming and combining, “the alchemists called copper meretrix metallorum, the harlot of the metals.” (4)
The opposition is a moment of perfect equipoise. If we attend to it, we may be gifted with maximum awareness of the energy at hand. With Venus and Mars surrounding the earth on either side, the opposition can be a time of enormous self-awareness, observation and balance. We know from the law of correspondences that a seemingly simple adjustment (i.e., do I need a little more – or less – chocolate or berries – Venus? or garlic or ginger – Mars?) can impact the intricate and subtle functions of the endocrine glands and their hormones.
Here is an essay by homeopath Peter Morrell on The Healing Power of Metals. It introduces the qualities of the metals with simple suggestions on how to notice their harmony or imbalance in our own bodies and psyches. Remember, both Venus and Mars are needed; they work together, always uniquely calibrated for maximum accomplishment.
(1) Quote from an extract from Nick Kollerstrom’s book, The Metal-Planet Relationship. Skyscript
(2) Brotherhood of Light
(4) Borderland Research
Quote from: The Secrets of Metals, Wilhelm Pelikan, Anthroposophic Press, N.Y., 1973.
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