TMA This Week

Pisces takes over

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.)

Footnotes:

(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.”
Wikipedia

“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.”
Science Daily

(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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Asteroid Nancy and the Sandy Hook Massacre

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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A Fateful Election?

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.)
Obama natal
In Christie’s sunrise chart, the Sun is at 13°21′ Virgo.
Obama natal
(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.
Obama natal
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.

Footnotes:

(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

(5) Reuters

(6) Huffington Post

(7) New York Times

(8) Michael Bloomberg, February 14, 1942; Boston, MA Wikipedia

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The Full Moon and Sandy

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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Having a Good Retrograde Mercury Experience

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.

Business Sense

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.

In Conclusion

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.

References:
(1) Democracy Now
and BBC
(2) Mary’s note: You are so welcome, Audra. I love what you’ve written, thank you very much.

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Venus

By Mary Plumb | June 4, 2012

I’m not going to add much to the blogs I’ve collected on the Venus transit, which is upon us.

I know that I am in the midst of some here-to-fore untraveled turns in my life, and am seeing other loved ones having revelations in matters of the heart.

But, the personal heart aside, this is certainly the time to take in the wildest, most imaginative view, and I am very happy to have connected with old friend David Tresemer at UAC.

I have followed his work and reviewed his book on the Venus Eclipse here.

Here is his very interesting summary of practical approaches to the transit:

“1. All of our pictures of the world are powered by energy. Giordano Bruno termed these “erotic phantasms.” Eros — passion, desire, love/hate, Venus! — motivates and energizes phantasms — pictures of this-is-just-the-way-it-is, dreams, visualizations, ideas, worldview…. Rudolf Steiner described the same dynamic, though with less colorful terms. “Erotic phantasms” are not to be banished, as in “do away with all desire,” but more importantly to be recognized and worked with actively.

2. Eros/Venus will be stimulated and made turbulent by the eclipse on June 5/6 (the exact time mid-morning on the 6th is less important, as we are in this rare celestial event, by anticipation, right now, and will be for some months). That restless Eros will seek images to empower.

3. Marketers, especially of technological gadgets, have used and will use this undirected Eros. Going-with-the-flow on your part accepts that the world will be imagined by corporate marketers.

4. You too can direct that energy of Eros — can meet it — by creating pictures of the ideal for yourself and for the world. Not vague, woo-woo pictures but rather very specific and detailed pictures of anything that arouses your interest.

5. For example, with the situation at Fukushima still teetering on the edge of its largest explosion, you could imagine that the explosion does not happen, that heroic scientists work out how to remove the fuels to a safe place, and that all species develop a capacity to learn from and transform radioactivity. In terms of the mythic images in the VenusEclipse book , this means envisioning the taming of the magical fire-bird to subdue its expressions on the earth.

6. If you cannot formulate new pictures — if the world as you perceive it holds you in its thrall — then you can focus on the picture of how-things-are-right-now-as-you-perceive-them each night before sleeping. Look closely at the details, best without judgment, and hold the picture in your mind, for just a minute. Spiritual beings will take it up through the night, and in the morning (or in a few days) you will have an insight about how to penetrate even the most difficult problems.

7. In any case, take this opportunity to cultivate your relationship to ideals that engage Eros behind them. Those imaginations will focus your desire — the restless eros of this time — in ways that will be healthy for you and for everyone else.”

Here is his short video on the Venus Eclipse.

I am essentially seeing this beautiful, rare astronomy of the Venus transit as the indescribably wondrous cosmos providing earthlings with an exceptional, perfectly timed, and necessary infusion of Love. Not in a sentimental or self-referential way, but as a time in our journey through the heavenly spheres to harness and recharge the deepest layer of the implicate order.

In his 1995 article in TMA, I remember astrologer-physicist Will Keepin describing Love as what is held in the deepest layer of the implicate order. I am way oversimplifying and paraphrasing, but basically the explicate order is the visible universe, the manifest realm. The implicate order is the unseen, or unmanifest realm. It is the vast and fathomless ocean; its interface with the manifest world is the place where magic and miracles happen, the lands we all know about, and where mystics, shamans, poets, and healers dwell. And Love is what upholds it all; appearances aside, the world is indeed moved by Love.

The Sufis say that the world needs our prayers. Here’s to a magnified and empowered heart enveloping the earth and all her creatures.

Here are some more ideas on the Venus Transit:

The Meaning of the Venus Transit in June by Alison Chester-Lambert

The Venus Transits and the Return of the Divine Feminine by Govinda

Psychological Astrology and the June 2012 Venus Transit by Margaret Gray

Venus Transit: Astronomy and Science

And, whether you were at UAC or not, don’t miss Eric Francis’s coverage of the event at Planet Waves, including a wonderful collection of interviews:

Until next time..in Love..

Footnotes:
(1) The article Astrology and the New Physics, was revised and reprinted in TMA 10/09, available here.

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Solar Eclipse Reports

By Mary Plumb | May 21, 2012

Yesterday’s solar eclipse was visible on the west coast; clouds came and went gently, evocatively, as it began to unfold. Under the guidance of the navigator poet Norma Tarango, I was with a group of women doing ritual and prayer, a perfect environment from which to watch, feel, and engage with the gorgeous celestial event.

There is a cornucopia of myths and stories from different cultures about the omens and portents of eclipses. The total full moon eclipse on December 10, 2011 was also visible here. The skies were clear on that marvelous morning, so we saw that one too.

This solar eclipse was spectacular. We had those special eclipse glasses, which I had never used before, that made it possible to look at it for a long time, really taking in the visual imprint. I couldn’t get enough of it.

Visually, the south node (dragon’s tail) imagery was striking. The Chinese thought that a giant dragon rose into the sky to devour the Sun. This is a south node, tail of the dragon eclipse — some things, perhaps qualities, thoughts, patterns, are at the very, very end and being eliminated from the body.

In many eastern traditions, eclipses are known as potent times to clear the energy channels in the body of stagnation and blockages, so the subtle energies can readjust and move more freely and with more harmony.

The immediate physical effect will last for at least the next few days, but the waves of symbolism and impact of the eclipse will continue to play out for many months.

Here are some good ideas about the meaning of this solar eclipse.

Marina at Darkstar Astrology writes on the constellation Pleiades, whose brightest star, Alcyone, at 0° Gemini, is conjunct this eclipse.

Jude Cowell at Stars Over Washington gives a wonderfully detailed report on the “Complex Financial Issues, Martian Actions, and Transport Concerns” shown by the eclipse set for Washington.

Len Wallick, writing at Planet Waves, has a very clear description of the astronomy of eclipses and a lovely take on its meaning. “Sunday’s solar eclipse will be of the annular variety, where the darkest part of the sky will be ringed by a circle of brilliant light — and what will ultimately prevail, once that which is out of place has passed, is the light.”

Peter Stockinger at his Traditional Astrology Weblog looks at where the solar eclipse chart is angular. He finds that “…this eclipse will have an effect on the United States in about six months time, which will be, of course, at around the time of the elections.”

Nina at Gryphon Astrology Blog looks at the possible effects on places where the eclipse is visible. She includes the chart set for Sacramento, the capital of California, where Saturn is on the Ascendant. “The California governor, Jerry Brown, had announced that the California budget shortfall had grown to $16B, in contrast to the estimated $9B, and that in addition to more program cuts, an increase in taxes will be needed. This is a state that already has the highest sales tax in the nation, and the highest top income tax rate. The economic difficulties that currently envelop California will continue with an added hit of drama.”

The solar eclipse New Moon in Gemini has many of us going on the road this week. Tem, Ann, and I will be heading to New Orleans for UAC and greatly look forward to seeing our fellow stargazers and planet lovers.

See you soon. Safe journeys to one and all.

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A Personal Taurus Report

By Kate Plumb | April 30, 2012

As a practicing astrologer, I am always struck by how much I learn from my clients. Last week, after a reading, a client told me how much I blew her mind by explaining the importance of her rising sign, instead of only her Sun sign, which she had been trying to fit herself into. This started my thinking about my own rising sign, 29° Taurus, especially now that we are in the Taurus New Moon, and Jupiter has been there for the last year with Venus still so beautifully bright in the evening sky. I have always known I was Taurus rising (my North Node is there, too), but the quality of my expression has changed significantly over the years.

Food has always been important to me; taking in substance seemed comforting. I went so far that, at age 13, I became bulimic, which lasted for 20 years. This dysfunction permanently sensitized my throat and, later, caused the loss of some teeth, because the enamel eroded from the stomach acids in the mouth. In high school, I sang in an award-winning choir and spent two years, once a week, telling a doctor what I ate and why (she would fall asleep). Although I was not much of a shopper, when I did purchase something, it was a handbag or purse of some sort, or a pretty box to put things in. I liked containers — places in which to hold something else. In my 30’s, I was attracted to a Taurus man who stayed in my life for 25 years. He could be described as a true “couch potato.” I marveled at his ability to lay on the sofa, watch TV, and “do nothing” for long periods of time. He worked one day a week and seemed so completely satisfied. Of course, he was a good cook and we ate well and often.

This past year I have been a companion to a very elegant woman with natal Moon in Taurus conjunct her North Node, which is exactly conjunct mine. Her Moon and our North Nodes are at 2° Taurus, the degree of this month’s New Moon. She has a beautiful home full of antiques and fine art. She dresses in her mother’s museum-quality jewelry and hand-me-down dresses and suits. (Her mother was a friend of Coco Chanel’s.) We talk over cocktails and watch Edwardian England miniseries. In some ways, I’ve noticed that my life is becoming more like the lives of the English upper class, the “Taurus” in our world. I have begun to wear essential oil perfume (particularly for abundance), and diffuse my house with aromatherapy candles. I am wearing jewelry. We go out to eat in the nicest places, or I cook. We have seats at elegant fundraiser dinner parties and go into NYC to hear the Philharmonic. I am gardening more, and recently found myself taking a soil sample for the first time in my life. I practice yoga and feel comfortable in my body for the first time in my life. My “inner space” is being nourished. We play bridge. I am getting my piano tuned, taking art lessons, and am ready to join a choir again. I still have to watch my neck in yoga, but now, with a new pillow, my cervical spine (neck) is completely relaxed and I am sleeping better.

I do not know whether these feelings and experiences of deep satisfaction are coming because I’m 63, and looking downhill (or upwards, as the case may be), or if they result from my notion that, as I have 29° Taurus rising, I have to get Taurus “right” in this lifetime. Or perhaps this is just a result of the intensification of the Taurean energy at this moment in time. I do know that identifying with all the positive attributes of one’s rising sign feels comfortable. Margaret Hone, in the Modern Textbook of Astrology, says the Ascendant is “of greatest importance…every trait of character deduced from any other part of the chart must be considered in relation to the type of person evincing it, as shown by the Ascending sign.” Charles Carter says that the first thing one sees about a person is the Ascendant, as does Isabelle Pagan.

Recently Neptune has squared my Ascendant and, as it is sesquiquadrate my Ascendant natally, I’ve been reliving the idealization and delusion inherent in that aspect. It seems to me, though, that as the clouds have parted, I am connecting more deeply with my Taurus Ascendant and living a far richer, soulful life as a result.

Kate Plumb is a certified NCGR Level 4 Counseling Astrologer. She was also certified by Jim Lewis in A*C*G. She first studied astrology in 1971 (thanks to her sister) with Rod Chase and Alan Oken in Brooklyn Heights, and later with Zoltan Mason in his bookshop on Lexington Avenue. She has written for TMA, teaches classes, and sees clients in her home office in Sag Harbor, New York. She has recently started a blog at offtheplumbtree.blogspot.com

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Mars and Neptune in their Ongoing Dance

By Mary Plumb | April 16, 2012

Mars always gets attention — now, with its station direct and slow, slow forward motion. He turned direct at 3º40’ Virgo on April 13, and doesn’t enter a new degree until April 21.

The direct station was a bit more than one degree from an opposition to Neptune at 2º26’ Pisces.

The beginning of the current synodic cycle between Mars and Neptune was the conjunction on February 20, 2011 at 28º31’ Aquarius. Neptune dipped into Pisces and then went retrograde in June 2011, backing up to 28º Aquarius again, where Mars at 28º Leo opposed it on November 7.

Mars turned retrograde in January 2012, and now has turned direct, just short of exact opposition to Neptune.

This is their first aspect (although not partile) since Neptune ingressed into Pisces in February 2012, where it will stay until 2025. Mars is fully attending to Neptune in Pisces now. Mars’ actions and desires can reflect Neptune in all its complexity, foibles, and wiles.

A new synodic cycle between these two planets will begin on February 4, 2013 when Mars will conjoin Neptune, back at 2º12 Pisces.

The degrees of the conjunctions (28º Aquarius and 2-3º Pisces) are keys to the unfolding meanings of this combination of planets. You can look at your horoscope for the houses that hold these signs to begin to trace what circumstances and conditions in your life are open to this intricate weaving between Mars and Neptune. Together, they have many layers of symbolism and possible expression.

Something I have noticed in these past few days are various situations that I can describe as bringing us the opportunity to face (Mars opposite) something that we would prefer to avoid (Neptune).

I am thinking about Neptune’s association with veils, deceits, and what is nebulous or obscured. But here is Mars, straight from his long, internal dialogue and ready to take a stand for some new, deeply felt, broad or encompassing action or idea.

Neptune can also suggest what we can’t see in ourselves — perhaps a complex hidden in some infantile, undifferentiated place in the psyche, or caught in an addictive pattern that keeps us deluded, but perhaps feeling secure.

We may now find ourselves facing an addiction (quiet or blatant) or a part of our inner lives that is burning to be recognized and transmuted into fuel for a greater good. (Yea! Neptune in Pisces.)

I am, for the moment, going to assume that Neptune in Pisces will bring us all easy access to its best qualities — this is an oversimplification for sure, but that’s Mars in Virgo, asking for simplicity.

My recent experiences have been subtle, mostly in conversations that were about sensitive matters. Mars-Neptune can be gentle and skillful in using just the right amount of carefully calibrated energy in delicate situations.

And bringing an uncomfortable or delicate situation into an open dialogue can bring good results. Mars in Virgo likes results. This is a quality that will remain accessible to us for a while, due to the slow staying power of the Mars station.

In some circumstances, it may be wise to wait a bit before going full speed ahead; some things being presented to us now may be representing someone else’s desire, and not be really what we want.

Mars moves through mutable Virgo until July 3 when it crosses the cardinal point at 0º Libra. Mutable signs relate to our thinking, perceptions, and states of mind. There is flexibility, adaptability, perhaps even hesitation in knowing what we want to do next. With individuating Mars carrying Neptune’s penchant for the unseen worlds, it may take some of us a while to feel what decisive move is next.

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The Vernal Ingress Chart for 2012

By Gary P. Caton | March 26, 2012

The chart for the moment of the Sun’s entrance into Aries has always been a very important factor in mundane astrology. Traditionally, this chart is cast for the capital city of a country or region. Since we cannot cast the countless charts required for a holistic worldview, this analysis will focus on the chart for the United States. We will also look at things that all ingress charts have in common — the aspects, or relationships, between the planets at the time of the vernal equinox.

The first thing we notice is that Mercury retrograde and Uranus are both conjunct the Sun at the vernal point. This is an extremely rare alignment, which hasn’t happened since the year 755AD! (1) Since that year may not contain much history that can inform our modern world, let’s simplify a little bit. As the late, great Robert Blaschke taught us: “Sun-Mercury inferior conjunctions have a recurrence pattern, falling in the same degree area of the Zodiac as part of a cycle that has durations of 13, 33, or 46 years between conjunctions. After 79 years (33 + 46), or after 125 years (79 + 46), inferior conjunctions can recur in the exact same degree of the Zodiac, or within a one-degree orb of the starting conjunction’s degree in that sign’s cycle.” (2) The following table shows the inferior conjunctions of retrograde Mercury and the Sun near the Vernal Point of 0° Aries over the last 125 years.

Sun Conjunct Mercury Rx: Mar 21, 1887: 1°10′ Aries

Sun Conjunct Mercury Rx: Mar 20, 1920: 29°25′ Pisces + 33

Sun Conjunct Mercury Rx: Mar 23, 1933: 02°16′ Aries + 13 = 46

Sun Conjunct Mercury Rx: Mar 21, 1966: 00°29 Aries + 33 = 79

Sun Conjunct Mercury Rx: Mar 24, 1979: 03°20 Aries + 13 = 92

Sun Conjunct Mercury Rx: Mar 21, 2012: 01°35 Aries + 33 = 125

When perusing the historical record for these years, do we find any correlations to current events? One of today’s hot topics is women’s rights, specifically reproductive rights, which have been brought into question by many Republican politicians. (3) Right away, something jumps out at me: Susanna Salter was elected mayor of Argonia, Kansas on April 4, 1887, becoming the first woman elected as mayor, and the first woman elected to any political office in the United States. Looking onward to the next date in our list, we see that on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th — and deciding — state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States’ Constitution, which prohibits any United States citizen to be denied the right to vote based on sex. In 1933, Frances Perkins became the first woman in a Presidential cabinet, and served as Secretary of Labor during the entire Roosevelt presidency. The National Organization for Women (NOW), the largest feminist organization in the United States, was founded in 1966. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is often described as an ‘international bill of rights for women.’ The United States is the only developed nation that has not ratified the CEDAW. (4)

Despite support from both Presidents Carter and Clinton, the U.S. Senate has never ratified the treaty, due to opposition from conservative politicians. (5) In 2009 Senator Barbara Boxer led a campaign for ratification of CEDAW, saying, “It’s a shame that the U.S. stands with countries such as Iran, Sudan and Somalia in failing to ratify the treaty.” (6)

The trend for the Mercury retrograde years outlined above begs the question: Is there any chance that 2012 will be the year the U.S. ratifies the CEDAW? In order to look at this question, we must cast the ingress chart for Washington, D.C., on March 20, 2012 at 1:15:01a.m. EDT.

March 20, 2012
1:15:01 a.m. EDT
Washington, D.C.
Tropical zodiac
Whole sign houses

Aries Ingress 2012

We see that the traditional malefics, Mars and Saturn, are also retrograde, so it appears things could be “taken back” regarding significations of these planets and the houses wherein they reside. Traditionally, the 11th house signifies the Congress. Saturn in the late degrees of Libra, and retrograde, does not look good for major advancements by the U.S. Congress. Given their current dismal approval rating, I’m sure this is not a surprise to anyone. However, some might argue this could indicate a reversal of some previous position held by Congress, or perhaps even a reversal of Congress itself. It should be noted that with a mutable sign on the Ascendant, the shelf life for this chart is only until the Libra ingress. (7) So, this chart does not speak directly to the fall elections, but does speak to a good portion of the campaign season.

Mars retrograde resides in the 10th house of this chart. This is traditionally the house of the President, the “party in power,” and generally people in authority. Therefore, we should not expect a lot from the President during this time. This makes sense also because he is likely to be fending off attacks from his rivals in the fall election. However, if we read this generally as things being “taken back” from people in authority, this chart could be good for political minorities and groups like Occupy. In fact, the major good news in this chart is that both of the traditional benefics, Venus and Jupiter, are conjunct in Taurus. Since this is the traditional home of Venus, and Taurus is the most traditional financial symbol, this conjunction (and its Earth grand trine with Pluto and Mars) could bode well for slow but sure continued financial recovery.

Since the 6th is the house of workers and employees, we could expect both job growth and advancement of workers’ issues and rights.

Returning to our original question, but from a different angle, we see the very rare conjunction of the 0° Aries Sun, Mercury retrograde, and Uranus falling in the 5th house of the horoscope. This house is generally concerned with entertainment and pleasure, but more specifically with birth, children, and sexual concerns. So, clearly the bizarre throwback nature of public discourse around these issues is likely to continue.

Women’s issues are signified by Venus, and since she is in her own sign, near her greatest brightness, and conjunct Jupiter, it seems perhaps we can expect some progress in these areas, although maybe not from Congress. Venus in the 6th seems to indicate that the fight over framing women’s and sexual issues as health issues (6th) versus religious issues (conjunct Jupiter) will continue, and could possibly end up in court. Also, the plight of women seems to be tied to, or perhaps will find solidarity with, the general plight of workers.

The final and perhaps ultimate consideration in this chart is Rahu, aka the North Node of the Moon, which is rising. Rahu is an extremely complex figure and can plunge any area of life he controls into chaos and mystery, as well as random, uncontrolled growth without wisdom or understanding. At the very least, this suggests that this year’s eclipse season will be very important and perhaps perplexing for the U.S.

Solar eclipses are traditionally an important mundane factor. We have an annular solar eclipse on May 20 at 0°20′ Gemini, which is visible in the western U.S. Gemini is the 7th house of the vernal ingress chart, which governs foreign affairs and relations with other countries, both friendly and hostile. It is possible that some unexpected and/or misunderstood (at least at the time) foreign relations issues will come up in the next six months. Often these events are timed to when planets cross the eclipse degree. The important dates to watch for this eclipse season are as follows: May 5, Mars squares the Nodes at the South bending (opposite Neptune who is nearing the North bending); May 24, the eclipse ruler, Mercury, crosses the eclipse degree; June 12, Jupiter crosses the eclipse degree, and, on June 26, Venus stations direct near the eclipse degree.


References and further reading:

(1) Using Dan Ciubotaru’s configuration hunter website, I found that the previous triple conjunction of Sun, Mercury retrograde, and Uranus within the fist six degrees of tropical Aries was in the year 775 of the Common Era. Configuration Hunter

(2) Robert P. Blaschke, Retrograde Mercury in Taurus: Recurring Cycle for Goldman Sachs & Global Financial Crises, April 26, 2010.

(3) See, for example, any of these recent articles in The Huffington Post:Women’s Rights

(4) CEDAW

(5) Feminine Equal Rights

(6) Discord Expected Over Women’s Rights Pact

(7) Skyscript: Ingresses

Bio: Gary P. Caton is an eclectic Astrologer who embraces an organic process-oriented approach of spiritual exploration via the Living Sky. Gary has studied Spirituality for over 23 years. After exploring Shamanism and the Tarot, in 1993, his life was changed by a magnificent Dream where he was shown planetary alignments and became an Astrologer. Gary earned a degree in Counseling with highest honors and has developed a unique multi-discipline path to practicing Astrology over 19 years. Visit Gary at his website: Dream Astrologer

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