TMA This Week
By Mary Plumb | May 13, 2013
Three eclipses mark this spring: There was a lunar eclipse on April 25 (6° Taurus/Scorpio), a solar eclipse on May 9 (20° Taurus), and a second lunar eclipse on May 24 (5° Gemini/Sag).
The May 9 eclipse was angular in my birth chart. I had a surprising and strong emotional reaction to a seemingly simple event that opened a chasm of memories and associations that I am still winding through. I maybe could have seen it coming (but didn’t). This eclipse brought an experience that can be typical — something sneaks up on us (Bill Meridian’s phrase) and takes us by surprise. I intentionally keep my schedule a bit open around eclipses to be able to respond to the turns and upsets in peoples’ lives (which definitely happened this time). I did not see that it would also be me who needed a bit of care and attention.
My experience also had the quality described below about this Saros series (in Bernadette Brady’s words): “This series is about release of tension.”
(Funnily enough, early Monday morning, as I was writing this intro part to today’s blog, I uncharacteristically neglected to save the file, Word crashed and I had to start again. Even writing about the eclipse has a way of sneaking up on me. It also shows that events and insights are in transition and still settling down. I’m also relating to the south node symbolism with the solar eclipse: letting go, again and again; not held captive by the past.)
First of all, for any newcomers to using eclipses in natal chart work, Celeste Teal, Moon Valley Astrologer, has a wonderful article explaining how to understand the nature of eclipses and how to apply them in the personal horoscope. “In a general way you can track the transiting North Node through your chart to find the areas to focus your attention and energy that will result in some good coming to you. This is an area of opportunity, where rewards, good fortune and happiness can be found. By directing your efforts there, rewards easily come forth. The house occupied by the transiting South Node indicates an area of potential vulnerability, where you may be working through an issue, and where you might experience some loss or make a sacrifice. Sometimes it means you have a gift to share and the Universe expects something from you.”
Peter Stockinger’s blog (at Traditional Astrology Weblog) on the May solar eclipse includes Lilly’s suggestion to consider the decanate of the eclipse; the eclipse path of angularity, and the ruler of the eclipse, i.e., Venus, who “is conjunct the fixed star Alcyone, the brightest star of the Pleiades.” He surmises: “I would propose that the general theme of this solar eclipse is the renewed effort of women to make their voices heard, highlighting their struggle towards equality and independence.”
Peter describes the upcoming lunar eclipse with similar methods here.
Of the May 25 lunar eclipse, he writes: “On the mundane level, this eclipse should be of immediate effect throughout parts of Canada, as can be seen from the world map below. The line of angularity also shows that the eclipsed Moon will be on the Descendant throughout Ireland, France, Libya and other parts of Africa. In these places the effects of the lunar eclipse will be noticeable by the end of this year, lasting into 2014.”
Lorna Bevan at Daykeeper Journal has an article called Tracking the Trail of the May Eclipses. She explains the Saros cycles. (The May 9 solar eclipse is the same Saros Series as May 1995 which brought the Oklahoma City bombings and the Unabomber.) Bevan quotes Bernadette Brady on this Saros: “This series is about release of tension. A situation which has been lingering will suddenly clear. In the clearing of the problem there is also a sense of grief or loss, which is not so much personal but belonging to the collective.”
Of the May 25 lunar eclipse, Bevan notes: “This penumbral eclipse is the last of the mutable Gemini/Sagittarius eclipses which began in March 2012, not to return until 2028. For those of you who are solar Pisces/Gemini/Virgo/Sagittarius between 2-6 degrees of the sign, this is the last ripple of the big personal upheavals until 2021.”
Genevieve Vierling, The Blue Light Lady, wrote Three Eclipses in a Row. She concludes: “May each of you be blessed as you consciously work with these eclipses. No one of them is particularly powerful in and of itself this time because the Lunar ones are considered ‘shallow’ and the Solar is not a total eclipse, but together in sequence they create a field wherein we can each accomplish a great deal of spiritual momentum in our lives.”
Andrew Smith, Agent EI at Cosmic Intelligence Agency, has a look at the May solar eclipse with good graphics and an interpretation of this eclipse’s relationship to the parent eclipse in its Saros cycle. For this eclipse, he writes: “The process of stepping away from the busyness of life to take time to reflect and start afresh is given a greater emphasis at the time of a solar eclipse, since the radiance of our Source energy is obscured and the focus is upon any unresolved needs, which are given a portal of light through which to escape from their imprisonment within the dark of your unconscious, resurfacing so as to be released and better understood in the light of your current awareness and consciousness.”
Carl Broudeau’s Astrology of May 2013 – High Voltage Politics starts with a recap of April’s events and aspects before a look at the key planetary aspects in May (with graphics). He is particularly sensitive to planetary patterns, not just discrete aspects. He concludes: “May’s eclipses tell us that we will cross a political and economic point of no return. The error of our old ways will become painfully obvious enough to spur genuine change. Attitudes will shift even more strongly in favor of immediate social and economic reform. However, as will all the other events we have discussed in recent months, this process will not take place overnight. It will be yet another long-term transformative process among others now unfolding.”
Peter Sher at Sher Astrology writes The Spring Eclipses 2013. “My view of eclipses is that they change the momentum of things and demand a change be made in some area of our life, whether we like it or not. In other words, they change the inertia of our lives. When there are three back-to-back eclipses, the cycle of changes lasts much longer and the shifts that occur can be deeper and more extensive. This becomes especially true if the location of these eclipses affects our personal chart.”
Jamie Partridge’s Astrology King site has this article: Lunar Eclipse May 2013. “This ongoing theme of toxicity I have been noticing, from the solar eclipse, Pluto retrograde, and potentially from comet ISON, is supported once again in the chart for the May 25 Lunar Eclipse.”
You can also read Jamie’s article on the May solar eclipse.
Cathy Pagano, writing at Wisdom of Astrology, includes Sabian symbols and reference to Adam Gainsburg’s work on Venus’ cycle in
The Cosmic Story: Taurus New Moon Solar Eclipse, May 2013. “At this solar eclipse, Venus is still hidden within the rays of the Sun and she is on the far side of the Sun, the furthest away from Earth (apogee). Traveling at her fastest speed, she will soon emerge from the rays of the Sun to begin the Re-birth phase with her Evening Star appearance. The Transmutation Phase is a time when we can see what’s missing from our Feminine Self, a time to go within and re-discover our Inner Light and Beauty.”
Have a good week everyone, and thanks to all of these writers for helping us sort it all out.
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By Mary Plumb | May 6, 2013
I hadn’t planned on writing about Pluto this week. I was thinking more about Thursday’s solar eclipse with the Sun and Moon conjunct Pallas Athena and the fine ability to recognize patterns.
But, I spent time this week with several people who had a current and exact Pluto aspect, and I was moved in a different direction. In the Greek pantheon, Hades, who we associate with the planet Pluto, wore a helmet of invisibility. He appears unannounced.
We know that the square between Uranus and Pluto is precise again this month, on May 20, with the planets at 11°14’ Aries and Capricorn. Uranus is direct now and Pluto is retrograde.
One friend has transiting Pluto exactly on the natal Sun (in the 8th house). She has been in an ongoing process with a shamanic healer serving as guide to the underworld. Many memories have surfaced and she is in a passageway in life that is exhausting and rigorous. But at that moment, as I happened by, with Pluto to the minute of arc on the Sun, she was raw, completely untethered from the life she had always known. On the outside, everything in her life looks completely normal and could not be better. Pluto rules the invisible process of soul growth.
When transiting Pluto was opposite my natal Moon (2° Cancer), I worked with this therapist/healer/shaman for more than a year, so I am familiar with the process she is in the middle of. Part of this particular method of journey is to retrieve lost parts of ourselves that are disowned through trauma or the rough and tumble of life. (There are many therapeutic approaches to address the lost, disowned, or unintegrated parts of ourselves. Yogic traditions, for example, teach many methods to purify the toxins in the body and the poisons of the mind.)
The view into the landscape of Hades, as described by the Greeks, is evocative. Just as the brothers Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades drew lots to see who would have dominion over which parts of the earth, maybe it’s not everyone’s lot to have this kind of call. But when it happens, it is unmistakable. Events can occur in the visible world and have an obvious impact, but the alchemy occurs in the interior life.
Brian Clark describes the different regions of Hades in his beautiful essay Hades as Place: The Underworld in Myth and Antiquity. (1)
Tartarus is the darkest, deepest, bleakest sphere of Hades. “Tartarus is reminiscent of the place in all of us that feels futile, repetitive, stuck and unresolvable. This is the aspect of Hades that has been most repressed and denied. It is a place of despair, depression, compulsion and rage: aspects of the psyche that are denied the light, yet need to be honored and recognized.”
Erebus is a middle region of Hades, where the souls of the dead, the “shades,” roam.
The third region, Elysium, the Elysian Fields, is for the heroes or those chosen by the gods. Clark says: “…in contrast to Tartarus or Erebus, it represents the outcome of a more conscious relationship with Hades and death.”
Clark describes The Rivers in Hades, which “carry the flow of feeling through our psychic underworld.” There are five different rivers: the hateful, the woeful, the wailing, the burning, and Lethe, the river of forgetting. Souls cross Lethe when entering or leaving the underworld: “the experiences of the world before were lost to conscious memory.”
We cross the river of forgetting and leave well enough alone until the next time Pluto suddenly appears; its unannounced quality is especially strong now with Uranus pressing in, with all its brilliance and promise.
As I see it, we are taking turns traveling in the realms of Hades these days. Maybe we’re getting better at it and can help each other along. Astrology is such an amazing guide for walking thorough life. Thanks to all of you for being present for each other.
Have a good week everyone. May the eclipse bring just the right amount of agitation and insight.
(1) My quotes are from a printed version, Hades as Place: The Underworld in Myth and Antiquity, Astro*Synthesis, The Chiron Centre, 407 Johnston Street, Abbotsford Victoria 3067 Australia, 1998.
There is a free download of a 2001 version of the essay at:
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By Mary Plumb | March 18, 2013
Venus disappeared from the morning sky (Venus Lucifer, “the light bearer” to the Greeks) on February 16. She will reappear in the evening sky on May 16, when she will be low and faint in the sky after sunset. This begins her reign as Venus Hesperus, i.e., “setting in the West.”
Venus is invisible now; she is rising with the Sun. (The Maya astrologers and many other traditions understood her disappearance to be her descent into the underworld.) On March 28, still invisible to us, she will make her superior conjunction with the Sun. She is on the other side of the Sun, farthest from the earth, at the superior conjunction, as she aligns with the Sun at 8º Aries.
Here’s a graphic that Robert Blaschke designed, from an earlier TMA blog (the superior conjunction is #6): (1)
Most modern astrologers think of the inferior conjunction (retrograde) as the beginning of the synodic cycle. The current cycle began on June 5, 2012 with the Venus transit, that rare (every 120-year) eclipse of Venus crossing the face of the Sun. This inferior conjunction of Venus with the Sun was at 15º44’ Gemini.
I was able to see Venus crossing the sun here in Ashland; I had the special glasses and the afternoon sky was clear. I had my own solo experience, although there were many gatherings and rituals worldwide for the event, and astronomers were delighted at the data they could collect. That rare and potent moment was the beginning of this synodic cycle. Venus is now at the midway point in her 584-day cycle around the Sun — another peak time for her symbolism to be noted and her inspiration to be felt. I can readily remember and conjure anew what I felt at the occultation. Maybe you can, too?
I love the perspective from traditional philosophy and earlier astrologers who understood the superior conjunction (from Latin: superus, “higher”) as being related to the planet’s most elevated position from the earth, and therefore closer to the refined energy from the heavenly spheres. Deborah Houlding wrote in The Beauty of the Venus Cycle (TMA Feb/Mar 2010): “As the planets culminate within their own spheres, they rise towards the purer, rarified regions of heaven and become spiritual and soul-like in quality and effect.” (2)
Another image to contemplate is Venus cazimi. At both the inferior and superior conjunctions, Venus is cazimi, in the heart of the Sun. In Lilly’s time, a planet in cazimi was seen as trusted advisor to the king, was taken into his deepest confidence and inner circle. We all have an inner king, a place of radiance and connection to the source of life. What are we holding there in closest confidence?
On March 28 Venus is in the heart of the Sun and at her farthest distance from earth. We can have a re-enchanted and renewed perspective on all that we cherish. This is a time for infusing beauty, harmony, and contentment into our very cells.
Venus is cohesive and magnetic. Love — from amorous to universal — keeps us in relationship to all that is holding the world together. (3)
We may find that attraction, desire, and beauty come alive under the magnificent presence and immeasurable power of the Sun. Our personal aspirations and creative visions of the world are magnified. Cooperation is unlimited.
Remember Venus’s perfect and enduring symmetry, whereby she moves across the skies and creates a five-pointed star pattern every eight years. (4) No matter where one considers the start of the Venus cycle (i.e., at heliacal rise, at the inferior conjunction, or the superior conjunction), Venus will always make the five-pointed star in her eight-year journey with the Sun and the earth. On March 28, we are at one of the five points on a star.
Here’s a graphic showing the geometry of her orbit around the Sun:
Uranus was at 8º Aries at the Venus occultation that so auspiciously began this synodic cycle in June 2012. Uranus is back at 8º with the Sun and Venus for the superior conjunction.
Unexpected meetings and encounters carry an extraordinary promise; insights into the puzzles of our passions and loves fall into place; a different appreciation of solitude and companionship dawns upon us; the uninvited, the unprecedented, the perplexing, and the astonishing walk right into our intimate experience. Our appreciation for the maddening, terrifying, and gorgeous artistry of our lives is unbounded.
What is over the edge and just out of view has great magnetism now. The way forward toward greater love and cooperation carries Uranus’s radicalism. We are at the end of convention in some significant way inside of ourselves. (Look to the house with Aries on the cusp for the greatest punch.)
Onward, friends, into heightened sensitivities for all that is good in this world.
(2) Deborah Houlding’s article, The Beauty of the Venus Cycle in TMA Feb/Mar 2010, considers the start of the Venus cycle to be the superior conjunction.
(3) I do well know her other possible expressions, i.e., jealousy, envy, greed, but for now, I’m staying in the heavenly spheres.
(4) Venus: Enduring Symmetry
(1) For an extensive description of the Venus synodic cycle and the rose pattern she forms as viewed from above the earth, see Nick Kollerstrom’s article Venus, the Rose and the Heart
(2) Here is my review of Anne Massey’s book, Venus: Her Cycles, Symbols & Myths.
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By Ray Grasse | March 11, 2013
One of the more interesting celestial events taking place right now is a celestial line-up in the tropical sign of Pisces that involves Neptune, the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Chiron, and Mars — with that group now being joined by the Moon as well (throughout most of Sunday, March 10th and Monday, March 11th). With Uranus hovering nearby in adjoining Aries, this makes for a truly interesting meeting of the planetary minds!
Line-ups like this (also called “stelliums”) not only indicate a heightened emphasis on the zodiacal sign involved, but more broadly serve as celestial “engines of change,” marking important periods of transition in society, as well as in our personal lives. Think of the term “revolution,” which is essentially astronomical in origin. When a planet makes a full circuit around the solar system to a given starting point, we say it’s come full circle, it’s made a full revolution. So when we see an entire group of planets coming together, it conveys the sense of one chapter closing off and a new one opening up.
This is something poets and filmmakers have long intuited. In Stanley Kubrick’s movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, for example, each of the major evolutionary leaps the film depicts are shown accompanied by skyward shots of planetary line-ups. Likewise, in the movie Dark Crystal, a similar planetary line-up is shown accompanying the shift in consciousness that occurs in the film’s climax.
However the full effects of any line-up aren’t always obvious right away, and can take months or even years to fully materialize. This makes perfect sense when you think of the symbolism of a conjunction, which has a “New Moon” quality — in contrast to the opposition, which symbolizes fulfillment. Like the old saying goes, “What the New Moon promises, the Full Moon delivers.” In that spirit, you might well describe a stellium as an industrial strength, super-duper New Moon! Unlike a typical New Moon, which reveals most of its effects in just a few weeks, the seeds planted by a stellium are far more dramatic and last vastly longer.
For example, prior to the year 1524, some European astrologers were predicting that the world would be destroyed in a great flood because of a large planetary line-up about to occur in the sign of Pisces. As it turned out, those fears were unfounded — in any literal way, that is. In the years which followed, a great flood did sweep over the world, but a more symbolic one, and it involved a revolution in the Christian world, with the rise of Luther and the Protestant reformation. Just as Copernicus decentralized humanity’s view of the universe by displacing the Earth as the hub of the world, so Luther “decentralized” European culture by challenging the supreme authority of the Catholic Church.
As it turns out, we find ourselves once again in the midst of another major line-up in the sign Pisces — and lo and behold, what do we see taking place in the religious world? A historic shake-up in the Catholic Church, not only with the shocking resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, but as a result of growing publicity about scandals involving the church itself.
On a more personal level, look to see where these planets are falling in your own horoscope for a sense of what areas in your own life are being affected. Is it in the 6th house? If so, then perhaps it involves health or work. Or the 2nd house? Probably money or resources. The 4th house? Home or family — and so on.
A few more thoughts. It was Manly Palmer Hall who first pointed out the correlation between planetary line-ups and major wars or conflicts on the global stage. For example, both World Wars, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, and many others, began in tandem with major stelliums. Does this mean we might see a major conflict take shape in the coming days, weeks or months, in the wake of this current line-up? It’s worth noting that North Korea’s current leader has been engaged in some major saber-rattling lately, to the point of threatening the United States with his nuclear weapons. The Middle East has been heating up notably in recent days as well. One can only hope this connection fails to materialize this time around; after all, the mega-line-up of early 1962 didn’t give rise to an actual war so much as the serious threat of one, in the form of the Cuban Missile Crisis. (1)
On a more positive note, Pisces has long been associated with fantasy and imagination, so it’s probably only fitting that the big-budget reboot of the The Wizard of Oz, Sam Raimi’s film Oz the Great and Powerful is hitting theaters precisely in conjunction with this line-up in Pisces. In a subtle way, this may be telling us this is a time when we have easier access to the contents of our imagination and to the collective unconscious, as the veil separating the conscious and unconscious grows more diaphanous now. Or for those who are more spiritually inclined, it’s likely that meditation or contemplation could yield important insights and benefits during this period. And if nothing else, this is sure a time to watch your dreams!
(1) Editor’s note: There were six planets in Aquarius in early February 1962.
Ray Grasse is associate editor of The Mountain Astrologer, and his website is RayGrasse.com
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By Anne Whitaker | February 18, 2013
Astrologers are always being asked questions — by clients, by students, by interviewers for various media outlets, by open-minded members of the public, by closed-minded-members of the public, by one’s friends and family. The list is endless, the questions multifarious, the answers….? Well, that depends . . . .
I thought it might be interesting, and fun, to share with TMA blog readers my own answers to a few typical questions I have been asked over the years. Perhaps you might feel like responding with examples of your own!
What is your most memorable personal experience with astrological symbolism?
I remember how gripped and excited I was early on in my work as an astrologer and teacher by the revelatory power of progressions. (I always found Naibod Secondary progressions to work best.) In the early 1990s I was doing a great deal of exploring of my own family horoscopes; an advantage of practising astrology in Scotland is that birth times are written on the birth certificate.
My Midheaven is 29º Taurus and the Ascendant is 9º Virgo. One day, I decided to take the horoscopes of my paternal grandmother and my maternal grandfather, the grandparents with whom I identify most, and progress them to the day of my birth. To my amazement, BOTH of their progressed Midheavens were 29º Taurus and their progressed Ascendants were 9º Virgo.
I remember being so stunned by this that I had to go out and clear my head with a walk in our local park. What I felt at the time, and still feel about this, remains beyond words to express adequately. It’s as though the wing of a great mystery fleetingly brushed my spirit, mystery shot through with a profound sense of the vast underlying ground of interconnectedness from which all life arises, to which it all returns — of which we humans are privileged to be a part.
It is perhaps unavoidable that, as astrology teachers and practitioners, we become a bit blase and matter-of-fact about our working world from day to day, as everyone does to a greater or lesser extent. But I have found — and I’m sure I’m not alone in this — that every now and then something so profound, so shocking, happens that we are reminded of the power with which we are engaging, and we are knocked sideways by it, just as I was that day.
Your training is in psychological astrology. Are you less interested in the way astrological symbolism can manifest concretely because of this?
No, not at all! In fact, the examples which immediately spring to mind in response to this question are concrete rather than psychological! No surprise that they mostly involve Saturn.
During the 1980s, the last time Saturn was transiting Scorpio, there was a year-long square of Saturn to my natal Moon. No doubt there were serious and profound psychological challenges involving both my own life and clients’ lives at the time. However, most vivid in memory is my lovely, heavy, bright silver neck chain, which, unaccountably, turned black early on in the Saturn/Moon transit. Rather upset by this, I took the chain to two reputable jewelers to be cleaned. Neither of them had any success. It remained a dull black. I almost threw it out, but in the end I stuck it at the back of my jewelry box and forgot about it.
Not long after transiting Saturn had moved away from the square to my Moon, I had occasion, whilst looking for another piece of jewelry, to rummage around at the back of the box. I pulled out that abandoned silver chain and could not believe my eyes. There it was, shining as brightly as ever.
(If the topic of planet/metal affinities interests you, the book to obtain is Nick Kollerstrom’s Astrochemistry: A Study of Metal-planet Affinities.)
The second example comes from a period in the late 1980s/early 1990s, when I was particularly interested in how planets conjunct the Ascendant can tell a very literal story of the circumstances of a person’s birth. I was doing a horoscope reading for a young man who had a 1st-house Saturn very closely conjunct his Sagittarian Ascendant. “Were there restrictive circumstances of a physical or practical nature at the time of your birth?” I asked. “Oh yes!” he replied. “My mother broke her leg not long before I was born and gave birth to me whilst wearing a plaster cast.” But let’s not leave Neptune out, shall we? A friend with Neptune conjunct his Libran Ascendant was born in a fake castle.
What transit always shows up for you in surprising ways?
They all do, especially the long lasting ones. The deep challenges that force our growth lurk, unknown to us, in the realms of the unconscious, just waiting to hitch a ride on the nearest really tough transit. For example, I didn’t think that a ten-year period of constant Neptune transits was going to involve a serious family crisis, total burnout on my part, and an enforced descent into the Underworld for much of that period! However, the good news is that I have now emerged, much improved (unless you ask my husband!).
What advice would you give to someone learning how to read their own chart?
One, there are dozens of ways to evade personal responsibility, so resolve at the outset never to do so by blaming your horoscope or your transits for your difficulties in life.
Two, realise that objectivity is something to be aspired to and can never be achieved by mere human beings. This being the case, try to recognise that you can be most objective, and therefore most helpful, by reading the horoscopes of strangers, provided you have appropriate training and supervision. When approaching your own horoscope, or those of your loved ones, you will inevitably colour the planetary picture before you with your own hopes and fears.
Three, the illuminating light, which is gradually cast as your understanding of the symbols in your chart grows, will be wonderfully helpful in shedding light on your gifts, pains, motivations, and aspirations. But bear in mind that possessing astrological knowledge has a shadow side; for example, I have never known anyone, including myself, who didn’t look at upcoming transits, especially of Saturn and Pluto, without a certain amount of fear.
To help my astrology students with this, I used to point out that 99.9% of the human race, from the beginning of time, has managed to stagger through life without the aid of personal astrology! So, enjoy the fascination of deciphering the astrological map of your life, but don’t get too precious about it. And be aware that this wonderful knowledge has a double edge.
What astrology books do you re-read or use the most?
The two astrologers who have most inspired and educated me have been Liz Greene and the late Charles Harvey, with both of whom I was fortunate to study — unofficially from the mid-1980s and formally between 1995 and 1998. As reference books for my interest in mundane astrology, my three favourites are: The Outer Planets and their Cycles by Liz Greene; Anima Mundi – The Astrology of the Individual and the Collective by Charles Harvey, and Mundane Astrology by Michael Baigent, Nicholas Campion, and Charles Harvey.
My copy of Steven Arroyo’s Astrology, Karma and Transformation, that wonderful in-depth companion on the “stormy journey of the soul,” is now so well-thumbed that it is starting to fall to bits. And when I feel like reading some outrageous, light-hearted, funny, but deadly accurate astrological analysis, I turn to Debbi Kempton-Smith’s Secrets from a Stargazer’s Notebook.
However, accompanying re-engagement with work as an astrologer and teacher, I am now moving into re-framing my relationship with astrology in keeping with the “new paradigm…. emerging in Western civilisation, led by transpersonal psychology, chaos and general evolution theories, and the human potential movement . . . ,” in the words of Armand Diaz, a fine writer and the author of Integral Astrology, which I have recently reviewed. I have also greatly enjoyed reading Bernadette Brady’s book Astrology – a Place in Chaos, which also re-contextualises astrology for the contemporary world. And, having been given The Archetypal Cosmos, by Keiron Le Grice, for Christmas, I am really looking forward to finding the time to read it!
Bio: Anne Whitaker is a writer and astrologer based in Glasgow, Scotland. She resumed her astrology practice part-time in May 2012 after a very long sabbatical. An extensive archive of her astrology articles can be found on Writing from the Twelfth House in the section Not the Astrology Column.
She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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By Mary Plumb | February 11, 2013
This morning there are four planets (and Chiron) in Pisces. The Sun enters Pisces on February 18, and Venus on the 25th. On March 9 the Moon will enter Pisces, when Mars is at 28º of the sign, so for two days there will be six planets (i.e., Moon, Neptune, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Sun) and Chiron clustered in the part of the sky we call tropical Pisces. We might just as well all volunteer to get lost and to cultivate that far-away look in our eyes these days.
Such a strong emphasis on a zodiac sign is not common:
For two days in February 1962, all seven visible planets were in Aquarius. (This includes Saturn and Jupiter, whose conjunction every 20 years is an astrological marker of a great new cycle of time.)
Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune formed ongoing triple conjunctions in 1988-89, and for several months in each year, five or six planets were in Capricorn.
And, on May 2, 2000, seven planets were in Taurus, including Saturn and Jupiter. (1)
The glyphs for the signs have somewhat mysterious origins, but the one for Pisces looks like two fish swimming one way and another. The paradox and ambiguity often experienced through the archetype of the fish is an echo of the vastness of the sea and the extremes to which the fish are drawn. It is not a moderate sign, but longs to experience wider possibility in every realm, e.g., sensation, purpose, meaning. Fish can only live in water; fish can only survive when part of something larger than themselves.
Pisces gives the ability to sacrifice a personal reference point and has a predilection for being absorbed in some ineffable thing. The sign brings the experience of being both pulled and held by the longing for greater inclusivity.
Some have seen the glyph as representing the two sides of the brain. In the physical brain, there are different pathways and connecting mechanisms that join the right and left sides. A primary one is the bundle of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum, one of the parts of the brain that has been shown to benefit from meditation. (2) This reminds me that the main star in the Pisces constellation is a binary star, Al Rischa — the Arabic word for knot, which binds the fish together. (3)
Years ago, when my sister, New York astrologer Kate Plumb, was studying with Zoltan Mason, she told me something he said that has always stayed with me: the so-called higher octave (i.e., modern) ruler of the planet cannot function well unless the traditional ruler is in good stead. With Pisces we always have to consider Jupiter before hoping for the best from Neptune. Maybe we can take this to mean that as Jupiter — who the Romans saw as the one who puts the cosmos in order — sets our direction and aspiration to grow along lofty lines, we can more purposefully surrender to the labyrinth of sensation, empathy, chaos, imagination, introspection, dissolution, divine allurement, and all the magical and delicate decoys that may prevail at this time.
(Jupiter is visible in the night sky now and will be especially easy to spot on the 15th, 16th, and 17th when he is near the Moon.)
I wrote last night to my editor Kate that the words for this blog kept slipping away and I wouldn’t have it finished until morning. (With Chiron making its final passage over my natal Sun, I seem to be especially prone to Chiron’s suggestion of being outside of ordinary time.) Mars, Mercury, Chiron, and the Moon are closely together as I finish writing this morning.
For something more concrete, I’m remembering a few conversations with various people in my life in the past 24 hours that display the Piscean quality of renunciation. These calls announced: (1) a 40-day break from alcohol, (2) a 3-day silent retreat and fast, (3) a week-long retreat from ordinary business to devote to art and music, and (4) the beginning of a 10-day Master Cleanse. These people are all naturally attuning to the opportunity to clear the inner channels and doors of perception to recognize the refined states that Pisces may bring. (It is eminently malleable; after all, if we don’t like the feel of where we’re heading, we can always change course.)
(1) These are the ones I remember without doing any additional research, and there may be others. I will check with “the human ephemeris,” Nick Dagan Best, when he comes to Ashland in March for our local NCGR meeting.
(2) “The corpus callosum….connects the left and right cerebral hemispheres and facilitates interhemispheric communication.”
“UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, and colleagues used a type of brain imaging known as diffusion tensor imaging, or DTI, a relatively new imaging mode that provides insights into the structural connectivity of the brain. They found that the differences between meditators and controls are not confined to a particular core region of the brain but involve large-scale networks that include the frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital lobes, and the anterior corpus callosum, as well as limbic structures and the brain stem.”
(3) You may enjoy this article:The Corpus Callosum, Buddha’s Enlightenment and the Neurological Basis for Creativity, by Jeffrey M. Levine, M.D.
“It occurred to me that connecting the left and right brain is very similar to prayer and meditation, marked by the physical gesture of bringing together the left and right hands. This union of the two sides of the body is a universally recognized symbol that transcends religious boundaries.”
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By Alex Miller | January 14, 2013
We’ve had some time now to recover from the shock and horror of Adam Lanza’s actions on December 14, 2012, when he shot his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and killed 26 people before taking his own life. Twenty of the dead were six and seven years old — sweet, innocent boys and girls dreaming of what Santa might bring them at Christmas. The others were teachers, administrators, and staff at the school, most of them dying in an attempt to stop the gunman or shield their students.
But there was a 27th victim that day, one whose role is more complicated and uncertain. Before he left for the school on his mission of utter evil, Adam Lanza first shot his own mother, Nancy, as she lay sleeping in her bed in their home.
Nancy Lanza was perhaps less innocent than her son’s other victims, though certainly undeserving of her fate. But it was Nancy who removed her troubled son from the public education system and home schooled him, thus increasing the isolation he experienced due to his diagnosed Asperger’s syndrome, a mental condition on the autism spectrum. It was Nancy who became a gun enthusiast, who legally bought and registered the firearms Adam used to kill both her and the others. It was Nancy who regularly took Adam to local shooting ranges to teach him to shoot, thinking this would encourage his “responsibility.” It was Nancy who, according to her ex-sister-in-law, had become increasingly isolated herself, a “prepper” stockpiling guns, ammo, and staples, concerned about the possible effects on society of the imminent financial collapse she saw coming.
And it is Nancy whose pivotal role in the tragedy is stunningly represented by a planetary station of a minor body that shares her name, asteroid Nancy (#2056), which turned retrograde the very afternoon before Adam Lanza’s killing spree.
Whenever I encounter a news story, I look to personal named asteroids to fill in the gaps in the planetary picture. The major bodies of our system can provide the outlines of the story, the broad-brush strokes that set the tone for the event. But alongside these, sometimes in the background but often prominent in the foreground, we find asteroids that match or approximate the proper names of the people and places in these events, giving stunning detail to the picture.
In the case of the Sandy Hook shooting, no less than 45 asteroids are present and active in describing the place, the shooter, his victims, even the make of the guns he used. This level of detail is impossible to convey in one short article, so I will focus on just two celestial phenomena and how these underpinned the tragedy.
I’m going to digress from asteroid Nancy and discuss the other factor first. This involves a rare occultation of Pluto by the Moon, something I’ve written about previously for The Mountain Astrologer.
I say “rare,” and it truly is, though if you’re looking at an ephemeris right now, you may not think so. That’s because this event, literally a “hiding” of Pluto by the Moon, had not occurred in 80 years until the current sequence began in April 2012. For 19 consecutive months, until August 2013, the Moon will be occulting Pluto every time they make their monthly conjunction. Like any other type of eclipse, an occultation highlights and energizes the hidden planet, activating latent potentials and generally stirring the pot in the affairs it governs.
And with Pluto involved, this is a veritable treasure trove of hot-button issues — sexuality, taboos, spies and secrets, vast amounts of money, destructive, degenerative processes, death and decay, and murder. The Moon as the occulting body brings out Pluto’s issues in a very public, yet also intimately personal, way. Within hours of the first occultation in April 2012, an event occurred in Colombia that led to the exposure of a sex scandal involving prostitutes and the Secret Service. On the day of the May occultation, President Obama came out in favor of gay marriage. June’s occultation saw the congressional brouhaha over CIA leaks, and when the Moon occulted Pluto in July, the LIBOR rate-rigging scandal broke and Barclay’s CEO resigned. I lost track of the pattern after that, as late July brought the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shootings, the Sikh temple shootings, the Empire State Building shootings, the Wisconsin day spa shootings, and the Oregon shopping mall shootings (just three days before Sandy Hook).
The overarching energy driving all these stories is the ongoing square between Uranus and Pluto, which dominates our times. Violent, unpredictable, and destructive, this aspect has been further energized and aggravated by these monthly occultations, the latest of which occurred at 6:29 a.m. (EST) the day of Adam Lanza’s rampage.
It began when Adam Lanza murdered his mother by shooting her in the face as she lay sleeping in their home. Authorities are still uncertain about the timing of that first murder, but it must have been within hours of the occultation, as Lanza left for the school less than three hours later. The Moon/Pluto signature is all over the subsequent tragedy, with Pluto’s destruction and death being visited on various lunar-ruled entities, from the mother, to the early childhood period from which most of the victims came, to the preponderance of female victims, to the public space symbolized by the school. But we see the genesis of the atrocities most clearly in that first fateful act, depicted so simply by astrological keywords for the two planets involved in the occultation — the death (Pluto) of a mother (Moon), the hiding/occulting or extinguishing of her light forever.
The astrological story doesn’t end there. Nancy Lanza’s murder occurred the day after the asteroid Nancy made a station (this was at 1:11 p.m. EST). Stations are major turning points in the action of planetary energies, and they occur when a planet appears to slow down, come to halt, and change direction in the sky. The stationing planet spends much longer than usual at a particular degree, suffusing it with its vibration and focusing its energies on one specific area of the zodiac. Planets at station are emphasized in their effects and can attain a far greater prominence than their usual impact, becoming, in effect, the still point upon which all else revolves during the two-to-three-day period governed by the station.
When asteroid Nancy turned retrograde on December 13 at 17° Leo, it formed a grand trine composed of an exact trine to asteroid Lachesis at 17° Aries, and a second trine to a rare triple conjunction of Trans-Neptunian Object (TNO) Ixion, centaur Pholus, and asteroid Tantalus, all at 19° Sagittarius. These points are extraordinarily apt in light of subsequent events.
Lachesis is named for the mythic Greek Fate, who determines the span of a life; in the station chart set for Newtown, Lachesis was closely conjoined the Ascendant at 21° Aries, further heightening its effects. And indeed, it was under the station’s fateful aegis that Nancy Lanza’s lifespan was decided. TNO Ixion is named for the first murderer in Greek mythology, and centaur Pholus’ mythic tale is linked with mass deaths in a violent context, while also indicating the death of an innocent bystander. Tantalus’ story also involves murder and the commission of heinous, unforgivable acts, specifically against children. These three points were within orb of the Sun at 23° Sagittarius, giving them further strength and prominence; the pattern held through the following morning’s massacre, as all the celestial factors maintained the same degrees.
Nancy made two other exact aspects at the station, both of which tell about the tragedy. The first was an inconjunct to asteroid Nemesis at 17° Capricorn, which conjoined transit Mars at 20° Capricorn, also within orb of the inconjunct to Nancy. Nemesis is named for the Greek goddess of vengeance, retribution, and undoing, a force without mercy or pity, bent upon its goal of due enactment of karmic balance without regard to the cost, and oblivious to the fairness of her actions, or the lack thereof. Mars rules violence, attacks, and guns, as well as violent deaths.
The second aspect is an exact sesquiquadrate (135° degrees) to the asteroid Child at 2° Aries, itself conjoined transit Uranus at 4° Aries. Child, of course, needs no complicated interpretation of its role in the story, and in the conjunction to Uranus, which rules shootings, mental aberrations, and shocking, unexpected outcomes, we see the clear potential for disaster connected to youths. The linkage between asteroids Nancy and Child clearly speaks to the connection between Nancy Lanza and her offspring’s actions.
Pluto, the modern ruler of death, was at 8° Capricorn, very near the 11° Capricorn Midheaven of asteroid Nancy’s station chart, and about to receive the lunar occultation the next morning. Asteroid Lucifer, named for Christianity’s representation of ultimate evil, was at 10° Capricorn (also with Pluto), and was conjoined by the Moon exactly when Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary. A second triple conjunction was forming with Pluto; asteroids Osiris at 5° Capricorn, with Requiem and Sandra at 6° Capricorn, would become exact the next morning. Osiris is named for the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, Requiem for the funeral mass for the dead, and Sandra represents Sandy Hook, here intricately bound with not one, not two, but three indicators of death, and a symbol of irredeemable evil.
Moreover, 11° Capricorn, the degree of the asteroid’s station Midheaven, is repeated exactly in Nancy Lanza’s birth chart (September 6 ,1960); it is the degree of her natal Saturn, ancient lord of death, from where it opposes her natal Lucifer at 10° Cancer. Nancy’s natal Uranus, ruling shootings, was at 22° Leo, highlighted not only by asteroid Nancy’s station at 17° Leo, but also a close trine from the Sun at 23° Sagittarius and another trine from the station’s Newtown Ascendant at 21° Aries.
Asteroid Nancy’s station had a powerful impact in Nancy Lanza’s chart, but for her son it was a revelation. In Adam Lanza’s nativity (April 22, 1992), it exactly opposed Saturn, ancient lord of death, at 17° Aquarius, bringing out a natal square from Saturn to a combination of asteroid Tantalus and TNO Chaos at 16° and 17° Taurus, creating a temporary t-square. We have already seen Tantalus’ connections with heinous acts against children; Chaos is a point that acts much as its name suggests, as a vortex for chaotic, senseless situations that spiral out of control and leave devastation in their wake (although it also has connections, in its more positive manifestations, with the infinite creativity of the Void).
The asteroid Nancy’s station is also closely trine a spectacular cluster of points in Adam’s chart, including Venus and natal Nancy at 18° Aries (conjoined by transit Lachesis from 17° Aries at the murders); asteroids Phaeton and Busch at 19° Aries, and natal Sandra at 22° Aries. Venus, as general ruler of women (all seven adults killed were female, as were 12 of the 20 children), and Nancy as descriptive of the most important woman in Lanza’s life are self-explanatory. Phaeton indicates a stupendous self-created explosion or implosion, an all-consuming “blaze of glory” that threatens to take out everything in the immediate vicinity with it, while Busch is useful in identifying the Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle, which Adam Lanza used as the means of his destructive rampage. Sandra, in its guise as Sandy Hook Elementary, identifies the venue for his atrocities. Further, the Descendant for the station chart at 21° Libra falls just one degree off Adam Lanza’s natal Lucifer at 20° Libra, which closely opposes all the points in the Aries cluster, signaling his capacity to wreak evil upon or with the symbols represented.
There is so much more to this story (and interested parties may read a broader account in the January 2013 issue of Daykeeper Journal), but these two primary factors are sufficient for our astrological understanding of what happened that awful day in Connecticut. The added emphasis of the Moon’s occultation of Pluto brought out the worst manifestation yet of the Uranus square, while asteroid Nancy’s stationary stance in resonance to contributing factors of death and violence focused these energies on a small, seemingly exempt place and populace, which, until December 14, could not conceive of such tragedy and horror in their midst.
There are eight more Moon/Pluto occultations and another two years plus of the Uranus/Pluto square. We will see what happens next.
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By Mary Plumb | November 19, 2012
In a bow to the moody days of the season (with Mercury retrograde in Scorpio along with the North Node and the Sun), I’ve been pondering the question of fate these past days. (1)
Leaving aside the philosophical inquiry of what we mean by fate, I will herein assume that it has some connection to the threads or patterns we find in life.
I think the entire horoscope in some way shows the person’s fate, and yet there is a point that is considered a highly “fated” marker, the Vertex. Described by Edward Johndro in the 1930s, it is the point where the prime vertical intersects the ecliptic in the west.
It is a point where we meet life in often strange, compelling, and mysterious ways. (I think it was astrologer Janet Booth who first used the terms “cosmic appointments” and “appointments with fate.”)
It happens to be a sensitive point in my natal chart — I’ve had three life-altering events when the transiting Sun conjoined it — and I’ve watched the Vertex for a long time. (2) I spent a luxurious time on Sunday looking at charts and I may write about some of those strange stories soon, but for now, before it gets too far behind us, I want to look at the election.
On September 17, when Romney’s 47% comments were made public, I thought, that’s it, he’s done. (I heard Mayor Bloomberg on the radio that night, “Romney just lost the election.”) It felt like a fateful moment in the campaign.
In hindsight, those comments have been recognized as further instilling the depressing narrative of Romney’s secure place in the .01%, which certainly did impact voter turnout.
But there were months to go and many more anxious days. Along with everyone, I was closely watching events leading up to election: Watching and waiting for the expected bedlam of the Mercury station. (3)
And then, unexpected events took a turn — the storm winds and water came and the whole political story took on a different tone.
N.J. Governor Chris Christie, a key supporter of the Republican nominee – he was the keynote speaker at the Republican Convention, had been scheduled to be campaigning for Romney when the storm hit New York and New Jersey. I was watching much of the coverage, and the first pictures of Christie greeting the president in his ravaged state were very touching. Both men are in the midst of the Chiron return. (4) Obama’s Chiron is 5°19’ Pisces, Christie’s Jupiter is 6°56’ with Chiron at 8°14 Pisces. The empathy between them seemed obvious. One reporter said that the two men were inseparable for the 24 hours of the president’s initial visit, bound by the immensity of the tragedy and their shared mutual responsibility.
Christie spoke effusively about the president’s leadership and effectiveness. (This was a few days after Christie had described Obama “like a man wandering around a dark room, hands up against the wall, clutching for the light switch of leadership and he just can’t find it” and “blindly walking around the White House looking for a clue.”) (5)
On October 31, the president landed in New Jersey.
“Christie provided the defining moment for a country torn by gridlock and partisanship, boarding a helicopter with President Barack Obama for a tour of the battered Jersey shore. On the first full day after Sandy, six days before the presidential election, the Republican Christie talked up Obama like an old bowling buddy.” (6)
“The scene played out on televisions around the country like a stirring campaign ad that hit themes of bipartisanship and crisis management — only it was run free of charge. And for those who missed it, Mr. Christie repeated his praise again and again in television interviews, saying the president had been ‘outstanding,’ ‘incredibly supportive’ and ‘deserves great credit.'” (7)
The president’s natal Vertex, point of fateful encounters, is 12°54′ Virgo. (All of the charts are shown with Whole Sign houses.)
In Christie’s sunrise chart, the Sun is at 13°21′ Virgo.
(In my experience, the Sun conjunct the Vertex shows a favorable connection, unusual in some way, but often profoundly beneficial.)
Then, on November 1, NYC Mayor Bloomberg (an Independent) endorsed Obama for a second term, saying that the president will do more about climate change. (8)
Michael Bloomberg’s natal North Node, a point of increase or gain, is also at 13° Virgo, conjunct Obama’s natal Vertex.
This is a mysteriously interwoven tale, indeed.
We send all good thoughts to all the people still in distress from the impact of the storm.
(1) I listened again to Bernadette Brady’s talk, Fate in the Horoscope at UAC in May 2012. This is a marvelous discourse on how she currently understands fate, after six years of intensive study on the subject. I highly recommend it if you are curious. You can purchase the mp3 file here: UAC Astrology Shop
(2) In a blog, A Fateful Place? The Polish Plane Crash, I wrote about a truly eerie (and tragic) event, the plane crash in Russia in 2010 that killed all 96 passengers, including the Polish president and his wife and many prominent politicians and policy makers. I included the TNP Hades and a few midpoints, but the Vertex is striking.
“In another striking parallel between the two events, when the 1940 solar eclipse is set for Smolensk, Russia, site of both the massacre and the plane crash, the Ascendant is 25º34’ Scorpio. The Vertex point (the most “fated” point in the horoscope) for the crash is 23º34’ Scorpio. This connection between the Vertex of one event and the Ascendant of another event plays out the other way as well: The Vertex point for the 1940 eclipse in Smolensk is 9º20’ Cancer; the Ascendant of the plane crash chart is 10º18’ Cancer.”
TMA Blog, April 11, 2010
(3) There are lots of astute comments on various aspects of the election that astrologers will be sorting out for awhile, including Chris Brennan’s Political Astrology Blog (with his awesome findings on Romney’s Project Orca), and Lee Lehman’s discussion on What has the 2012 Election Taught Us?
(4) Chris Christie, September 6, 1962; Newark, N.J. Wikipedia
(6) Huffington Post
(7) New York Times
(8) Michael Bloomberg, February 14, 1942; Boston, MA Wikipedia
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By Mary Plumb | October 29, 2012
Our thoughts and prayers to all in the path of Hurricane Sandy. Most of my family is in New York so the weather reports are compelling to me personally, as well as observing the phenomena as it unfolds through the eyes of an astrologer. New York Harbor got through high tide this morning with no flooding, and the next high tide is at about 8:30 p.m. when forecasters expect the highest water levels again. The storm is massive in size and complex — three different storm systems are converging — and flooding and power outages, are expected to be widespread. Meteorologists are calling it a “rare hybrid super storm.” As Dave Roell wrote in his Newsletter today: “How can there be an election using electronic voting devices when five states, including both Washington DC, and New York, will have no power?”
Here we are in the eye of the storm, one week before the election. Hurricane Sandy is set to create untold chaos and confusion on Election Day in key states. Here’s a story from the New York Times that tells the situation (as of Sunday night).
In case you missed it, Jamie Partridge compiled a list of astrologers’ predictions for the election.
Chris Brennan has compiled an extensive list as well; he outlines the methods used by the astrologers in his very thorough survey.
Mundane astrologer (and editor of Welcome to Planet Earth) Mark Lerner has a 75-minute podcast on the elections, recorded on October 16. (I didn’t get to listen to the whole thing, but I will find time for it; I was a big fan of his publication.)
Richard Nolle at Astropro News wrote in September about the three days around this Full Moon. “My October forecast (published in September) called it a month in advance: “a rash of powerful storms with damaging winds and heavy precipitation, as well as a swarm of moderate-to-severe seismic activity (including Magnitude 5+ earthquakes and volcanic eruptions” around “the full moon on the 29th . . . give or take three days.”
From Eric Francis at Planet Waves, That’s the news — now for the weather!:
“This is a slow-moving system with a windfield 900 miles wide. It’s creeping up the East Coast. So between the size, the slow speed, and the mix with cold air from the north and west, we are looking at something pretty unusual. The result could be a storm that cuts power or paralyzes parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions for days, even as far west as the Ohio River Valley, according to federal officials.”
The rest of the links here are about today’s Full Moon, always a good time to stop and pay attention.
Julija ends her essay — Full Moon Taurus 6 — at Cosmic Intelligence Agency: “Be grateful for your lot and believe in what’s ahead, ditch the guilt if you have any, give yourself a good pat on the back and make a ‘toast’ with someone you love.”
Patricia Liles at The Power Path writes: “Your connection to your physical body will be highlighted – notice where tension, pain, stiffness is showing up. Who’s asking for attention? Have you thanked your body part by part lately for the fine service it provides?”
Dorothy Morgan has a 7-minute video on the contradictions between Taurus and Scorpio, “our need for change vs. our need for stability.”
Robert Wilkinson has a detailed consideration of today’s lunation at Aquarius Papers. “Ultimately this is a very stabilizing Full Moon (since it is in Taurus, after all!), and given the aspects in play, the next two weeks should be fulfilling in many ways, bringing us unique gifts and conditions for dealing with some tough stuff in the recent past.”
Lynn Hayes at Astrological Musings writes: “Where Taurus longs for peace and comfort, Scorpio demands intensity and passionate involvement. Where Taurus seeks security, Scorpio is an emotional risk-taker. It is this tension that creates the emotionality that Full Moons are famous for.”
Here’s a 6-minute video with some good insights on using the stabilizing impact of the Taurus Moon.
Astrologer Heather Threlfall writes from the coast of Florida: “No other sign in the zodiac knows more about crisis, change and moving on, as does Scorpio. Hidden motivations, buried fears, old wounds now come into the light for us to see clearly and resolve, personally and collectively. True power comes when we make the unconscious conscious.”
Everyone who’s in the storm’s path, stay safe. You are in you in our prayers.
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By Audra Stenger | July 30, 2012
I like to read other astrologer’s blogs and newsletters and I also write my own newsletter. Last month I wrote a short piece about the current (then upcoming) retrograde Mercury and gave my readers some practical tips on how a retrograde Mercury might manifest. I have four planets in Virgo — Moon, Mercury, Venus, and Pluto — a nice stellium packed in the 2nd house. Practical advice is my specialty.
Another astrologer’s blog commented on the current retrograde Mercury, remarking, “Whatever you do, don’t travel while Mercury is retrograde.” I was surprised. Never? I remember from grade school that one could eliminate the wrong answers on a multiple choice test if they contained the words “always” or “never.”
Never travel while Mercury is retrograde? Well, what if you don’t really have a choice? For example, a relative falls ill or dies, your employer requires you to travel, or it is the only vacation time you can take from work. I can think of a lot of reasons why one might have to, or simply want to, travel during a retrograde Mercury period.
Therefore, I’m writing this blog to clear up a few misconceptions about retrograde Mercury by relating a few of my own experiences.
I just traveled across the country via car. I arrived in one piece, happy (making one unscheduled stop at a hot spring — it was wonderful) and on schedule. I had a few minor hiccups along the way, but I had contingency plans for them. I fell into the category of not having a choice as to when I traveled or how, but I did know that Mercury was retrograde and that made a huge difference in my planning and therefore my experience. Let me tell you how.
First, the bare-bones basics: Mercury goes retrograde (looks like it is moving backwards in the sky) three times a year, or every four months. The retrograde period lasts about three weeks. For approximately three weeks before and after Mercury goes retrograde, it is in what is called its shadow period, because it is not at its normal speed; it is either slowing down or speeding up. During the shadow period, it can feel like a mild Mercury retrograde, when things start to go a little haywire.
To understand retrograde Mercury periods, one should understand what Mercury governs. In ourselves, Mercury rules the mind, how one communicates (talks and writes), how well, and the style in which, one does so, one’s memory, and one’s intelligence. On the mundane level, it governs our collective consciousness (or lack thereof), telephones, the internet, texting, computers, travel, elections, etc.
When Mercury goes into its shadow period and then retrogrades, all of these areas can be adversely affected. All kinds of misunderstandings, miscommunications, and breakdowns can occur. For example, this week we witnessed two celebrity mishaps. Mitt Romney criticized the Olympics in London and caused an international incident, while, across the channel in Paris, Madonna was booed for having only a 45-minute show. which included her personal political rant. (1) Mercury is known as the cosmic trickster; it is also the patron god of commerce, bankers, pick-pockets, and thieves. (I will go into more detail below as I relate it to my experience.)
Mercury governs the mail, so while Mercury is not up to par, shipping will be affected.
While Mercury was in its shadow period, I had to order things for my trip, so I used express delivery with tracking numbers to be on the safe side. Still, things ended up lost or delayed: one shipper put the wrong tracking number on a package and it got lost. My post office lost another package by putting it in someone else’s box and it was, uncharacteristically, not returned. Also, I had several pieces of mail from someone else’s box in my box, and while I was waiting in line to return that mail, I noticed another woman having the same problem. If it absolutely has to be there, put a tracking number on it, and have a backup plan if it doesn’t make it the first time, or on time.
Mercury governs communication and computers, and that includes email.
Three of the four hotels I stayed in during my trip did not have functioning internet service and weren’t able to get it working. They didn’t know why, but, of course, I did — it was Mercury retrograde! This led to all kinds of problems for me, as I missed important emails from clients and other people. As part of my contingency plan, I always travel with a wi-fi booster and my own ethernet cable, but neither helped me this time. Oh well, I tried!
When my husband owned a computer repair business, retrograde Mercury periods were always his busiest times of the year, but also the most difficult. Common quotes from clients were: “What do you mean all my data is gone?” or “What’s a backup?”
While he would try to repair customers’ computers, it was not unusual for software to take longer to install for no apparent reason. All kinds of atypical problems often surfaced (screws stripping, parts breaking). If a client had a backup program, it was a frequent occurrence that it was not functioning properly, and had not been since a previous retrograde Mercury period. It is best not to have someone work on your computer while Mercury is retrograde, although, once again, you may not be able to help it. Have your backups run and checked and new software/hardware installed beforehand.
Mercury rules contracts, so read the fine print.
As I checked into one hotel, I noticed a small sign behind the desk clerk that said something about using a debit card. My husband was chatting with the clerk as she was about to run my debit card, so I had to say, “Stop!” I asked her to bring me the sign; it was a notice of contract for debit card users and should have been placed on the front counter. It indicated that a several hundred dollar hold would be placed on my bank account just for using my debit card instead of a credit card. I switched to a credit card and gave the clerk a piece of my mind.
You need to be extra careful during Mercury retrograde about signing any contracts or legal agreements. Avoid signing if at all possible, or go over them with a fine tooth comb. Expect there to be problems you are overlooking. If you do sign something, or enter into any kind of agreement, e.g. getting married, buying a vehicle, or finalizing business deals, during this period, unexpected results may pop up after Mercury goes direct.
Mercury rules travel — planes, trains, and automobiles.
Yes, I drove nearly all the way across the country, but it was in a brand new rental vehicle — and I’m not home yet! I did have a few minor glitches, but not with the car. We thought of driving our own car, but as Mercury co-rules autos (along with Uranus) and can cause its fair share of problems with them while retrograde, we decided to let the potential mechanical problems afflict a rental and not our own vehicle.
One of the biggest complications with retrograde Mercury can be travel delay, and I ran into quite a bit of traffic and road construction. If you are flying or using a train and need to check your luggage, be extra careful: buy the best luggage insurance you can find, as well as refundable tickets. It is expensive to be cheap.
I do not trust the airlines with my luggage on a regular day, and I certainly wouldn’t do so during a Mercury retrograde period. For example, if you are flying to Hawaii, pack your bathing suit and flip-flops, along with whatever else you cannot replace, in your carry-on; at least you can hit the beach as soon as you land. Allow extra time between your connections, reconfirm reservation details, and be prepared for cancellations and delays.
Remember, Mercury rules pick-pockets and thieves as well, so guard your luggage and valuables attentively, as they are more likely to be stolen or lost during this time. Use a money pouch (even if you think they are silly), and take advantage of your hotel’s safe. Make copies of your credit cards, traveler’s checks, and passport, and know how to have them replaced. There are fewer worse feelings than being stranded without money or ID.
Many astrologers know that patience is a virtue during Mercury retrograde periods. One of those important emails I missed for a few days was the offer to write this blog. Fortunately, Mary has so much experience with retrograde Mercury periods that she knew to wait a bit for my answer. Thank you, Mary! (2)
Before I left on my trip I realized that I was very low on business cards. I needed to reorder them, but I chose not to do so until Mercury was clear of its post-retrograde shadow period. [Mary, is this "post-retrograde going to work here?] I decided to do without them rather than risk a blunder at the printers. It is not advisable to have anything printed when Mercury is retrograde, and, if possible, not until it is out of its shadow, because typos or other problems will likely surface. I am also having my website redesigned, but all implementation of it on the web will not happen until Mercury is well past its shadow period.
By the way, I also help clients improve their businesses. One client was offering workshops and retreats, but some of these events were scheduled during retrograde Mercury periods, and very few people were showing up. Turns out he was also sending his workshop email announcements during Mercury retrograde. I suggested that he stop doing this during retrograde and shadow periods and this solved his low attendance problem.
Retrograde Mercury is not a good time to start a new business or venture of any kind. If it is your own business, you should be able to wait three weeks to launch (nine, if you include the shadow period). If you work for someone else, and your boss is putting on the pressure to close the deal or make a large sale, your customer may be delayed somehow, or come up with excuses, until Mercury is direct. I have found that new clients who show up during a Mercury retrograde period usually do not pan out. They cancel more often than clients who show up at other times of the year.
What is retrograde Mercury good for?
Retrograde Mercury periods, including their shadow times, are great for introspection and looking back at what we’ve been doing. We can reflect on where we’ve been for the past four months, note when we’ve been misunderstood or we’ve misunderstood others, and so make things better and clearer for the future.
It is also a great time to reconnect with old friends and relatives, and even to contact old business associates to find out why deals might not have gone through. This just happened to me. A client who contacted me during a previous retrograde, but never followed through with a session, just contacted me.
If you are presented with a sales deadline, or something similar, from your employer, you can choose to be cool, calm, and collected. Take it from someone with a Virgo stellium — get organized, take care of yourself, and breathe. Watch for errors, and be prepared for the possibility that your clients may change their minds and back out of the deal. Now you know it is best not to try to “seal the deal” or pressure a client to sign a contract until Mercury goes direct.
Mercury retrogrades are also a great time to brainstorm ideas and let your creative side run free. You may want to have meetings in which to consider future possibilities during these time periods, but making any definitive decisions should not be on the agenda.
What I have tried to elucidate here is that, while Mercury is retrograde, you don’t have to hide in your house with a tub of ice cream waiting for it to pass. As with any planetary transit to an important point in your natal chart, there can be positive and negative manifestations during this mundane transit; how you deal with it is up to you, but a little preparation goes a long way.
Remember, retrograde Mercury periods are not a time to sit back on your laurels. They can be a time to be proactive and alert. Things that Mercury governs do not necessarily go smoothly and always work out the way we planned, but that doesn’t mean one can, or should, avoid doing them. Rather, we can do things that Mercury rules a bit differently, with a higher level of awareness, and have alternate plans when things do not work out.
This is how one can navigate the setbacks and complications often associated with retrograde Mercury and its shadow periods. With a bit of patience and preparation, you can have a good retrograde Mercury experience and smile to yourself while everyone else is fussing about aimlessly.
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