TMA This Week

The Aries Point: It’s All About Me

By Mary Plumb | June 7, 2010

Saturday night I had a restless sleep, as I’m learning many others did as well. There was a triple conjunction — the Moon and Jupiter moved into Aries within an hour of each other and conjoined the rebel-rousing, agitating, unnerving Uranus.

I was anxious because I had been (surprisingly) asked to speak at the Unity Church service here in Ashland on Sunday morning. The pastor, Norma Nakai Burton, was speaking on the 11th century mystic, Hildegard of Bingen. Having a keen appreciation of astrology, she asked me to address the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction briefly.

I did it. It was a stretch. I work mostly alone, or with people one-on-one and in small groups. But with the stirring energy of the Aries planets overhead, I said “yes” to the invitation to try to capture a bit of the zeitgeist for this community.

Once I relaxed a bit (with the help of Rescue Remedy and lavender oil), I was able to just let the words come. And, surprise, it was fun. It was a deep pleasure to speak the language of the stars to a new group. We astrologers do have something to say that is helpful — especially now, when our faith (Jupiter) in the future (Uranus) may need polishing.

So, dear friends, if I can step out of my self-image and try on a radically (Uranus) bigger (Jupiter) new identity (Aries), trust me, you can too.

I also had a giggle on the phone today with my 5-year old granddaughter.  Since she is a Cancer rising, with her progressed Midheaven at 3º Aries, and the progressed Moon at 0º30’ Aries, I figured she’d be a direct conduit for some Aries Point activity. I wasn’t disappointed. She has just decided what she wants to be when she grows up: “A baby-sitter, an ice cream scooper, a ballerina, and a cowgirl.”

May we all listen to our wildest dreams and let our imaginations guide us toward the best possible outcome as we steal a bit of fire from the gods to help carry us all onwards and upwards.

11 Comments - click to read them or write one | Permalink

Like what you see?   Subscribe to The Mountain Astrologer

Welcome to the Aries Point

By Mary Plumb | May 24, 2010

I’ve been thinking about a big, warm welcome to Jupiter and Uranus who are about to enter Aries. We, of course, have had transiting Pluto, followed by Saturn, on the cardinal axis (from 0º Capricorn and Libra, respectively) since 2008.

Although the world picture is compelling now, I’m imagining herein how these factors are playing out in the personal sphere, in the realms where most of us most directly participate.

All the points in our individual horoscopes that connect to the Aries Point have had the gifts, grace, and challenges brought by the lord of the underworld and the keeper of linear time pressing upon us. (These two can come uninvited and not warmly welcomed, but apparently necessary. Sound familiar?)

So, it’s exciting to realize that the excavation and restructuring of those compartments in our lives that are sensitive by degree to Pluto and Saturn are opening into a whole new dimension with the presence of the great awakener, enhanced by the breadth of Jupiter. What is being fervently examined, stripped to the bone, and perhaps ending (i.e., Pluto and Saturn), relating to our contribution to the world (i.e., the Aries Point) is due for a mega-change in perspective.

As has been noted, the last Jupiter-Uranus conjunction on the Aries Point (0º Libra), in July 1969, was the very day that man first walked on the Moon. My sister, Kate, suggested to me today that this upcoming conjunction of Jupiter-Uranus (exact on June 8th) is like “our own personal walk on the Moon.” Our sense of personal authenticity, self-realization (this is Aries, after all) and scope for what is possible can all expand beyond the previous limits or boundaries. We experience a quickening of our unique gift to the greater world. The next conjunctions of Jupiter and Uranus are back in the sign of Pisces where the collective field prevails, so this is a rare time of individual awakening to potential.

Any planet or point in the horoscope at 0º – 2º degrees of the cardinal signs is the most obvious place to look. And, we can get more specific if we study the midpoints that are on the AP in the natal horoscope.

I know someone who has the Sun-Uranus on the AP. In part, the Pluto-Saturn ending has been noticeable in regards to a certain gentleman who has played a big role in her life. After many years of entanglement, he is now irrevocably (and suddenly) out of the picture. This situation is concurrent with her newly invigorated commitment to her own creative and unique work life.

Some one else has Mars-Pluto, Jupiter-MC, Venus-Mars, Neptune-Ascendant and Uranus all on the AP. She has been designing and building a state-of-the-art house with principles from the sacred architecture of India for the past several years. It has been taxing and challenging in the extreme, but now the house is complete. She is living there and beginning to offer the space for groups. She hosted the first workshop this weekend, which she thought was a cooking class. “And yet,” she told me, “it was so much more than that. It was really about the deepest philosophy of healing.” She said, “I walked into this world I know nothing about.” Her natal Sun is 1º38’ Libra: Pluto and Saturn pressed her to create a (literal) structure whose purpose has an exciting and unforeseen life of its own that is beginning to unfold.

Another friend has Aries rising with natal Mars in Cancer. She has Moon-Venus and Saturn-MC on the AP. She is an educator and social activist whose time in these past few years has been spent tending closely to some difficult matters in her immediate family. She is longing for a new socially relevant project that she can devote herself to and move ahead in her customary high-spirited way.

Someone I know just returned from her first trip to Europe. She has 1º51’ Libra on the Ascendant and 1º57’ Cancer on the MC. In the past several years her life has completely changed. She left an office job, moved a thousand miles, and began work in a community focused on sustainable agriculture and shepherding the earth’s resources. The Jupiter-Uranus conjunction is coming to her Descendant. She said that this trip has given her a “different perspective on life,” both internally and externally.  She told me that she had expected to feel anxious and unsafe (echoes of Saturn and Pluto?), but she felt neither. Rather, she felt a great exhilaration and sense of wonder and discovery.

A close friend of mine (with natal Neptune/North Node on the Aries Point) is a lovely writer, world explorer, and all around lover of beauty in this life. As I was working on this article, she posted this on Facebook; it is from David Whyte’s poem, The Seven Streams:

“Be a provenance of something gathered, a summation of previous intuitions, let your vulnerabilities walking on the cracked sliding limestone be, this time, not a weakness but a faculty for what’s about to happen.”

Now, that seems like a perfect ode to this threshold moment, between the sometimes grim tidings of Saturn and Pluto and Jupiter and Uranus — newcomers to the world axis and the bearers of all that can be magically uplifting and of supreme vision for all that is of the greatest good.

14 Comments - click to read them or write one | Permalink

Like what you see?   Subscribe to The Mountain Astrologer

Curious about Uranus?

By Mary Plumb | May 10, 2010

It came to me last night to try to capture something about the paradox and perplexity of Uranus as it is leaving Pisces and moving into Aries. (This happens on May 27th when Uranus will be in Aries for the first time since 1927–1934; Uranus has been in Pisces since 2003.)

I got out my copy of Rex Bills’s The Rulership Book and made lists of some keywords and started mixing it up. (For any non-astrologers reading this, although all the planets and signs are complex and multi-layered in meaning, we can take a shortcut and use keywords to encapsulate meaning into succinct phrases, meant to kindle the imagination.)

To start, a key idea of Uranus is the awakener. In Pisces, Uranus awakens through subtlety, sorrow, empathy, and an invisible — though keenly felt — presence. In Pisces, Uranus awakens through sacrifice of a personal reference point.

In Aries, Uranus awakens through pure joy in the life force, courage, impulsiveness, acting as a warrior, and jumping in without thought. In Aries, Uranus awakens through a pronounced and fearless individuality.

Uranus signifies brilliance and takes us to the farthest reaches of creativity. Uranus in Pisces aligns us with brilliance through believing; trusting; the awareness of intangibles; watercolors; dreaming; pretending; schemes and schemers; séances, secrets, and our innermost emotions.

Soon upon us, Uranus in Aries takes us to the extremes of creativity through the distinction of separateness; bravery; valor; heroism; physical activity; sleeplessness; adventuring through life; and being willing to face conflict.

In Pisces, Uranus opens inner vision; in Aries, Uranus motivates direct action and initiative.

Uranus also agitates and accelerates. In Pisces, this can happen through intoxicants; or in private life; or with the destitute and mystics; or in mazes, monasteries, and all places of confinement.

Uranus in Aries agitates and accelerates our physical activity; the conquering of new lands and spaces; heroes and leaders; the military; surgical equipment and procedures; headaches and sleeplessness.

In another guise, Uranus brings sudden change and detachment. In Pisces, that can be from our disappointments and self-deceptions. Uranus in Aries may bring detachment from, and a different appreciation of, the experience of being alone.

Uranus can also be deviant, disagreeable, distorted, eccentric, perplexing, and extraordinary. It is where we disobey and bring disorder. Uranus rules uprisings, uncertainty, the unconventional, the uninvited, the unprecedented, and the untimely. In Pisces, these things may be hidden and cloaked; in Aries these qualities come to life in plain view.

Uranus alarms, amazes, and astonishes — in Pisces, we are astonished by our sensitivity; in Aries, we are astonished by our courage.

Uranus inspires by bringing the future into the present. As Uranus changes signs, may the potential self-undoing, sabotages, and undermining of Pisces turn to a resounding “yes!” for the next great round of challenge that Uranus in Aries will happily bring.

(And, for those who haven’t had quite enough time to awaken in the fog, veils, and damp, wet places, take heart:  Uranus will be going back into Pisces from August 2010 until March 2011.)

TMA writer Mary Plumb is available for personal astrology sessions. Please check my website: or email

18 Comments - click to read them or write one | Permalink

Like what you see?   Subscribe to The Mountain Astrologer

Cry, Baby, Cry

By Mary Plumb | May 3, 2010

Astrological analyses of world events are always fascinating. Tem has initiated lively discussions on our Facebook pages, and Shelley Ackerman’s Karmic Relief is always a timely and informed synopsis.

Jamie Funk’s article includes BP’s chart, while over at Planet Waves, Eric Francis is monitoring Oil spill news updates.

I’m writing more personally today, with apologies in advance to those who prefer a more objective approach.

April 20 was Chiron’s entry into Pisces, the day of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. Chiron is the shamanic journey, the wisest teacher, and the traveler out of ordinary time. Pisces’s greatest strength is to open the doors of perception, and, if conditions are lined up, can bring a glimpse of interconnectedness.

Last week I was listening to early news reports about the oil spill: the scramble to figure out what was happening and the impending economic catastrophe that it would bring. After the technical and business commentators, an environmentalist spoke of the water, the complexity of the sea life, and the fragile coastline. When he mentioned the sea turtles, I started sobbing. I know nothing about sea turtles, but somehow their plight and vulnerability opened me up to a grievous sorrow for the whole sea life.

There is often some distress at the heart of Pisces, especially with Chiron newly into the sign, and I felt a crack open into an experience of a deep sorrow. I pulled myself together and got on with things after awhile, eased that I had had a deep cry. As a Pisces Sun, I am finding that it is the willingness to allow myself to feel that seems to keep me upright and moving in some semblance of “forward” these days — on most days, that is.

To consider another recent change in the heavens: Ceres moved into Capricorn on March 19, and it squared the Sun at 0º Aries at the spring equinox on March 20. A square demands attention and the equinox chart sets the stage for the year. Although building for months, the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland quickened dramatically on March 20, just as Ceres ingressed into Capricorn. Pluto, the powerful lord of the underworld, has been committed to the sign of moving earth since November 2008.

Pluto rules hidden things and the journey into darkness to see what is there. Ceres is the goddess of grain and all that flowers on the Earth. She is known as the goddess of agriculture and is connected to the environment. And now, as she travels with Pluto, we are witnessing acute devastation to the environment. Ceres moved slowly to 4º Capricorn, where she stationed on April 28, and stays within a degree of Pluto until early June, when she retrogrades back into Sagittarius until conjoining Pluto again in October.

I’m remembering Demeter/Ceres’ grief and devastation at the loss of her beloved daughter, Persephone. She is the deep mothering principle and sustainer of life, while Pluto’s fate is that of destroyer (and creator). These two together suggest a grievous loss, the deep pain of attachments and separations.

I called an old friend today who was born with Ceres conjunct Pluto in the natal chart to talk with her about this. She said she has felt deep sorrow recently about not being with her eldest daughter and her new, first grandchild. She then spoke about feeling the Earth (she has the natal Sun, Venus, and Mercury in Taurus) and her grief at the extreme pollution. She’s lived in Hawaii for much of her life and talked to me about seeing lava as the blood of the Earth and her sense that Gaia herself is grieving.

Later, on the day of my Chiron in Pisces/sea turtle meltdown, I went for a walk by the creek and sat for a while by the water pummeling over the astonishingly green mossy rocks (Oregon is beautiful!). The vibrancy of bubbling water reminded me of the cardinal signs starting to come on strongly with the imminent great leap of Jupiter and Uranus into Aries.

Meanwhile, the oil erupting from the Deepwater Horizon spill continues at 25,000 barrels a day with no containment in sight. I spoke tonight with another old friend who has engineering in his background and Chiron conjunct the Ascendant in the natal chart. This gentleman told me that there are creative technologies waiting to be tested and utilized to help contain the oil spill. Here’s to Jupiter and Uranus bringing revolutionary technologies into the world, right when needed!

In the park that day, walking back from my time at the rocks, I overheard two young men saying goodbye to one another. There was a closeness in the air and one fellow said to the other with great certainty in his voice, “Don’t worry; something good will come of this.”

I took that as a mantra for those moments when the sad and grievous seem pervasive.

I feel that grief also allows for more joy, more real presence and awareness of the whole picture, and may be a needed part of the feminine re-balancing that many are experiencing and writing about.

P.S. Anyone out there feeling the need to stimulate a good cry and propitiate Chiron in Pisces, here’s a suggestion: Cats

27 Comments - click to read them or write one | Permalink

Like what you see?   Subscribe to The Mountain Astrologer

Inner/Outer Landscape

By Mary Plumb | April 5, 2010

Pluto stations retrograde on April 6 at 5°32’ Capricorn. We can see how slowly (i.e., deeply) through the inner/outer landscape Pluto travels as it nears its station: it will be in the 5th degree between late February and mid-May, when Pluto moves back into the 4th degree of Capricorn again.

As I’m writing this, the earthquake in Mexico has just been reported. As of Monday morning, “It sounds like it was felt by at least 20 million people. . . Most of Southern California felt this earthquake,” U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones said in Pasadena. (1)

Aside from those directly experiencing the earthquake and aftershocks, those of us with planets or angles in aspect to 5° Capricorn in the natal chart may be feeling Pluto strongly. Those with Scorpio Sun, Moon, or rising sign in the birth chart are also especially sensitive to Pluto’s command. If you can use more of a map, try looking at the chart for the moment of the station at your location. Set the time of the exact retrograde for your place of residence; the angles for that chart in relationship to your own horoscope may be revealing.

When considering Pluto as guide to the interior life, we may know a raw scorching as we are pressed into our hidden selves, our shadows, the secret corners of the soul where terror and remorse and shame dwell.

Pluto’s placement in the zodiac aligns it now with the ongoing square from Saturn in Libra: how we relate to one another is being purposefully and profoundly re-visioned by the great gods of the sky. We’re traveling along and can see the signs on the road: Pluto station just ahead. Treacherous emotions arise to be seen in their emptiness. Proceed with heart. Resurrection assured.

I laughed with a friend today in recognition of the irony that what we need to do now – whether it’s taking an action,  letting go of a habit, or facing a particular demon – is that it’s also what we really, really, really do not want to do.

Norma Nakai Burton, the minister at Unity Church here in Ashland, said on Sunday she had a feeling that even Jesus in Gethsemane didn’t know about the resurrection. He moved toward his fate because he had to. We all have moments at the crossroads of our fate. We may be frightened or deeply anxious, but something in our souls is aching, or howling, as we careen towards an as yet unimaginable new dawn.

One of the great gifts of our astrological view is that with Pluto we know that a rebirth, a surprising and glorious resurrection, will come. We have seen and felt that over and over, and have helped one another through many dark passages. So, look around at everyone with you, both near and far. We may feel starkly alone, especially and poignantly at moments with our closest intimates, but we are all on this life road together.

In my ongoing fascination with planets at the bending, I noticed the Sun squares the nodal axis on the same day as the Pluto station.
(The Sun is at 16° Aries and the nodes at 16° Capricorn/Cancer on April 6.) This is a harbinger of Jupiter and Uranus coming to the Aries Point in early June. The Sun is at the North Bending, which suggests energy coming in, e.g., the planet becomes visible and manifests (in contrast to the South Bending, which implies a surrender of that planet’s function).

So here we have the Sun, dignified in Aries, at the North Bending. I guess we’re on a path towards individualization, whether we like it or not. I’ve got a notion to capture some brave self-sufficiency from the Sun in Aries and use that solar fire in a firm step towards individuating, and give it all up to Pluto’s deepest transformative and purifying possibility. Sounds like a big job, but there’s no time like the present, and I know there’s nothing to lose.  (Sounding more like an Aries already.)

(1) huffingtonpost

14 Comments - click to read them or write one | Permalink

Like what you see?   Subscribe to The Mountain Astrologer

Facing a Daunting Pair of Planets

By Mary Plumb | March 8, 2010

Venus’s ingress into Aries woke me up very early on Sunday morning with an idea for this blog.

I’ve been thinking about Saturn square Pluto (who hasn’t?), which, along with Saturn opposition Uranus, are forming the underlying archetypal motifs as we move along towards the continuing excitement promised this summer and beyond.

The second of three exact squares of Saturn and Pluto was on January 31; the last will be on August 21, 2010.

Saturn got to 4°39’ Libra on January 13, where it stationed retrograde. Pluto makes it to 5°25’ on April 6, where it stations retrograde.

This month Venus, then Mercury, and then Sun in Aries will form an opposition to Saturn in Libra, followed by a square to Pluto in Capricorn. Venus will be making the exact aspects from March 9th to 11th; Mercury enters Aries on March 17th and makes the t-square between the 18th and 20th; and the Sun’s ingress is on the 20th. The Sun’s opposition to Saturn will perfect on the 21st, and the square to Pluto on March 25th.

So I’m looking at the Aries planets this month as a chance to propitiate the pair and make peace with Saturn and Pluto while I can.

I was with someone a few days ago who usually is of very good cheer and high spirits. She said she was noticing a slight feeling of “dread.” I generally can think and talk and write somewhat abstractly about the meaning of the planets and aspects. But this quiet mention of a feeling of dread caught my attention, and it wasn’t long (the next day, in fact) before I noticed a vague, ill-defined sense of dread myself, somewhere in my body, maybe in my heart.

It has become obvious to me that many are struggling with a pervasive and nearly constant feeling of anxiety or dread these days. It may be only a fleeting moment or quickly passing mood for some, but if it is there, it is hard to deny.

I remembered the feeling in the air around 911, when Saturn and Pluto were most recently in hard aspect to each other. There is a similar emotional resonance now, regardless of our eloquent expectations of transformation and the restructuring of all levels of reality.

Now, my latest thought is to take note of that feeling of dread when it arises and sit with it, facing it directly, with the knowledge that the sense of anxiety looming large in the collective (the planets of death and finality, after all) is also happening inside of me (along, of course, with a very gracious Jupiter, a playful Mercury, etc.).

This month, I’m going to try to be steady and watch for Saturn’s honest feedback on how I’m doing in Venusian, Mercurial, and Solar matters, and not avoid or deny what I see. And, to attempt to relax into Pluto’s relentless press toward annihilating all that is not truly true in my relationships and with money (Venus), in my thinking and perceptions (Mercury), and in whatever aspirations are drawing me forward (the Sun).

My friend, Robert Blaschke, just reminded me that the whole time the Sun is in Aries (March 20th through April 20th), it will be in mutual reception with a newly direct Mars in Leo, so our masculine courage will be strong. Thank you, Robert. Sounds good, and right when we need it!

17 Comments - click to read them or write one | Permalink

Like what you see?   Subscribe to The Mountain Astrologer

After the Full Moon

By Mary Plumb | February 1, 2010

In this past week, we saw the Full Moon conjunct Mars and the partile square between Saturn and Pluto.

Perhaps I’m responding to the post-lunation disseminating phase in this week’s blog, with my somewhat random collection of thoughts and observations.

On Friday the 29th, it was grand to see President Obama respond to Mars’ transit to his Sun (12°33’ Leo), as the biggest, brightest Full Moon of the year (10°15’ Leo) was nearly exact. The Sun represents the King, the ruler, and with Mars retrograde in that sign, all questions of rulership and authority are being re-examined closely. Mr. Obama seemed both effortless and in command of himself in the room full of his Republican House adversaries. It was a riveting political performance and a fine display of Mars in Leo.

The Saturn-Pluto square is another layer of the story of the times. External manifestations are fascinating to observe as the challenge for power and control signified by these two planets continues to unfold. The Supreme Court decision on January 21st, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, was one quite graphic (and profoundly disheartening to many) display of these planets in action.

I appreciate and applaud those astrologers who have commented on the case. (See Claudia Dikinis for one fine assessment.)

Although mundane astrology is an interest of mine, I wasn’t quite up to looking at that yet and was drawn in another direction.

A minister of my acquaintance gave a sermon that I attended on Sunday. Although I am not part of her congregation, I know her to be in touch with the archetypal worlds, and with the second Saturn-Pluto square perfecting in the afternoon, I was curious to hear what themes would inform her sermon. With Saturn in Libra, we know that all matters of how we experience others are in focus, and the Sunday sermon was about trust and relationships.

Countless surveys and research show that people on their deathbeds commonly say that it is the people in their lives who have brought them the greatest meaning. Yet we know this can take us into a fraught and complex web. (Although hopefully not always as dire as Sartre’s famous statement: “Hell is other people.”) (1)

The minister said that relationship conundrums can benefit from our willingness to see ourselves more clearly, and that relationship struggles are not as solid as we think. One kind thought, one gentle inquiry towards the other (whom we are thinking of as the cause of all our troubles) might go a long way to bridging the gap between ourselves and others. With the pressure and insistence of the square aspect, if we walk along our edge and resist our instinct to seclude and withdraw, we may make a very creative move.

She also gave some guidelines for managing relationships, and all of them resonate for me with Saturn and Pluto. First, take responsibility for whatever we are irritated by in other people, i.e., self-responsibility. We can also reduce our self-importance (try whilst in the midst of an argument with a friend or intimate!) and act with impeccability. Impeccability is not about being perfect, but about being awake to recognize when an action or decision is needed.

Although Mars retrograde may especially incline us to see what others are doing wrong (is it just the people around me who are behaving badly?), it is best, of course, to resist the urge to just have a fight and get it over with, and consider our own actions and motivations. Blaming others and complaining about our circumstances may in fact be a diversion or distraction from what we really need to be doing.

In terms of propitiating the gods and working with the internal dynamics articulated by the Saturn-Pluto square, we are impelled to stay at the very edge of our awareness, recognize painful and recalcitrant truths about our own conditioning and beliefs, and be open to experiencing what may be the most challenging step possible — that of letting go (i.e., of some one, some thing, some thought). Staying true to the inner heat generated by this square may indeed be the most honest, the most magical, the most transformative way forward.

I’ve been thinking about Neptune, too. Transiting Neptune has been at its discovery degree, 25°53’ Aquarius, for the last year. (Neptune was discovered on September 23, 1846 as it stationed retrograde and conjoined Saturn in the sky.) This is also very close to the U.S. Sibly chart Moon (27°10’ Aquarius) and the president’s South Node (27°18’ Aquarius). This transit perfects for the first time in mid-March.

Although I can’t resist the thought that maybe the entire U.S. public is in some kind of trance or spell, I also want to give Neptune the infinite respect it is due. I trust that the confusion or veil often brought by this planet is also a balm to the soul, and being offered for good use. In deference to Neptune’s call to the higher octave — currently infused with Chiron’s wise teaching from out-of-ordinary-time — I don’t know how anyone is keeping spirits up these days without a regular homage to Neptune. We can see countless ways all around us. People are dancing, moving their bodies, making music, writing poetry, and singing their hearts out; others are weeping with sorrow and pouring money, prayers, and supplies to Haiti.

In its connection to the invisible worlds, Neptune also beckons a more subtle awareness of the breath. The breath is our constant companion and that which will stay with us until we leave this world. As a wise yogi said recently, the breath connects us to the life force, which is always positive.

Have a good week everyone!


(1) Wikipedia

11 Comments - click to read them or write one | Permalink

Like what you see?   Subscribe to The Mountain Astrologer

The Profound Opposition of Mars, Venus, the Sun, and the Moon

By Adam Gainsburg | January 18, 2010

by Adam Gainsburg

Editors note: Readers may wish to re-read Adam Gainsburg’s earlier article on the Venus synodic cycle.

The final week of January 2010 will serve as the proving ground for a level of change not often discussed in astrological delineation.

Mars will oppose the Sun and Venus, while a Leo Full Moon forms precisely on top of the Mars-Venus opposition. This creates a double opposition of all the tantric planets: Mars-Venus and Sun-Moon. I use the word “tantric” to refer to a unification of opposites, and that principle is triply active here: masculine Mars conjunct feminine Moon, feminine Venus conjunct masculine Sun, and both pairs in opposition. Note that “masculine” and “feminine” here do not refer to gender but to the cosmological principles at play within all manifest existence.

The Mars Journey

The Mars-Sun synodic cycle is inconsistent in length. Although it is approximately 25 months in duration from conjunction to conjunction, it is the most erratic of planetary periods. From extensive research with several thousand clients and celebrity charts, I’ve come to name Mars’ phases (in order):

1. Self-Conception – conjunction
2. Gestation – post-conjunction invisibility
3. Birth – heliacal rise
4. Explorations – morning-sky ascending
5. Crisis-In-Identity – morning quadrature
6. Subjective Maturity – post quadrature, retrograde station
7. Transcendence – retrograde opposition, “midnight Mars”
8. ReOrientation – post-opposition retrograde
9. ReSurgence – direct station
10. Crisis-In-Destiny – night-sky quadrature
11. Service – post quadrature descending
12. Elder – pre-heliacal setting
13. Completion – heliacal setting, evening invisibility
(Editor’s note: The author’s terminology uses “quadrature” to represent a square.)

The Mars Journey Transcendence Phase

I propose that the retrograde Mars-Sun opposition on January 29 signifies Mars’ complete release from any limitation. At the opposition, Mars will be:

1. at his furthest geocentric distance from the Sun, which suggests Mars’ maximum individualization;
2. at perigee, that is, nearest to the center of the earth, which suggests the strongest magnetic field effect;
3. at his highest, brightest, and longest visibility in our sky, thus commanding our attention and the collective “story.”

Mars Journey

As shown in the graphic above, the opposition, which I’ve named the Transcendence Phase, marks Mars’ completion of the first half of his 25½-month journey, which began on December 5, 2008 with his conjunction to the Sun at 14° Sagittarius. The Birth into visibility at the heliacal rise was on January 15, 2009 at 15° Capricorn. As I see it, the aim of this current phase is the full exploration of the universe from within Mars’ eyes. He finds that he has attained the mundane goal (symbolized in the opposition), but not without the sense that something is missing.

A further astronomical trait of the Transcendence Phase is to consider that Mars is traveling at maximum retrograde speed, i.e., maximum internalization. In my view, Mars’ velocity acts as an alchemist for a burgeoning and powerful new archetype.

In classes, I often joke that Mars is the planet who always wins the vote on who hates retrograde the most; his nature is to exert outwardly. Now that he is retracing through the most space in the shortest amount of time, all that he has achieved (i.e., individualization) through the year-long development of his subjective self is questioned. Mars has nowhere else to exert himself as he sees the goal slipping away. What began as an unsettling feeling at the Mars retrograde station on December 20 quickly intensifies into a release from the structure of self-identity, in a kind of backwards death march into exact opposition to the Sun.

Of course, I am not saying that, at the Mars-Sun opposition every two years, all of humanity transcends into a beatific state of consciousness. Nor am I suggesting that everyone who is not born into the Transcendence Phase is doomed to never evolve. But there is an extremely powerful (rather than forceful) event at each Transcendence Phase. In my view, sentient life on Earth can find its bigger purpose, its life’s Desire, its dharma, through the combination of celestial factors listed above. Together, they create a portal into higher vision and purpose.

Sun, Earth, Mars graphic

I believe that this synodic transit catalyzes a deeper effect on us than our usual conception of a Mars-Sun opposition. The graphic above demonstrates how Earth is well within both bodies’ field effect, producing a choice between what we can see and know (Sun) and what we can do and accomplish (Mars). In a sense, our doing is extracted from the doer. This operates trans-cognitively, that is, beyond the limits of normal awareness. In my experience, meditation or any other practice with an inward focus has consistently proven helpful to actualize the transcendent potential. It has also been my observation that the influence of the synodic transit is as strong and lasting on an individual as any hard outer-planet transit and may bode equally so on the collective level as well.

January’s Transcendence

Mars at 9°48′ Leo will reach opposition to the Sun on January 29 at 2:36 p.m in Washington D.C. My assessment is:

1. We will gain a bigger view of how we can live more creatively and responsibly for our creations;
2. We can take center stage in our life, giving up those stages and causes that are not ours to star in;
3. We can perceive life and live it with more honor and inner authority.

As mentioned above, on January 15, 2009, Mars’ heliacal rise was in Capricorn; that sign can be seen to stand behind, or be the backdrop for, the current phase. Mars is now in Leo, the sign through which the longer Capricorn Mars Journey will transcend. This combination of zodiacal influences may be asking us to:

1. Bring all our service-oriented efforts forth and perform them in a way that allows us to validate ourselves;
2. Lose the heaviness of stress and control and take up the reins of the bigger adventure;
3. Retain the crucial importance of our life’s work, as we discover how to center in our deeper selves and not in the compulsions to organize life in prescribed ways.

Mars & Venus

Venus and Mars synodes

Overlaying the Mars and Venus visual synodic cycles together in the graphic above, we instantly see their symmetry — and their polarity. The pattern reveals a primordial and complex relationship that is also a profound expression of the intrinsic duality that governs the very basis of our material life.

Final Thoughts

The Full Moon at 10°15’ Leo on January 29, tightly aligned to the Mars-Venus opposition, will materialize the New Moon eclipse of January 15, 2010. This eclipse was insightfully covered by Gary Caton in last week’s TMA blog. Gary describes an “expansion-dissolution” dynamic that is strongly affirmed by the Mars/Moon – Venus/Sun opposition (from January 26 – 31), as is his read of the emergence of a “new power.”

Adam Gainsburg has authored three books, including Chiron: The Wisdom of a Deeply Open Heart. Adam is the founder of Soulsign Astrology and an active teacher and lecturer at astrology conferences since 2007. His work emphasizes the Heart’s evolutionary intelligence at the core of all astrological method. His next book, Bridges of Union (2010), will present a comprehensive delineation model of the phases in the Mars and Venus synodic cycles. Adam also records a monthly podcast on the synodic cycles of Venus and Mars and is developing an online tool to merge astronomical advances with astrological wisdom.

10 Comments - click to read them or write one | Permalink

Like what you see?   Subscribe to The Mountain Astrologer

Capricorn Eclipse: New Power Emerges

By Gary P. Caton | January 11, 2010

As if there weren’t enough juice flowing through the sign of The State (Capricorn), with the Lord of the Underworld (Pluto) taking up residence, now we begin a period where the Capricorn archetype will be torn open, erupting its dark shadow contents and forcing all the world to see. This is because an eclipse is essentially a rip in the fabric of time.

To really understand the power of an eclipse you must understand that time here on earth is fractal. It is measured by the constant repetition of the primal alternations of darkness and light. One day is made up of a light phase and a dark phase. Every 29 days we see the completion of the light and dark lunar phases. Every 13 lunations we see the completion of the light and dark solar phases via the seasons. With an average life expectancy close to 85 years (in the developed world), this means we will see nearly 29,000 daily cycles of light/dark and around 1040 Lunar cycle repetitions. This rhythm of light/dark is absolutely ingrained into our bodies and psyches. For instance, without the emotional processing dream-sleep of the nocturnal cycle, psychological disturbances will very quickly show themselves and we would basically go insane well within a lunar cycle.

When there is a disruption of this pattern, via an eclipse, the natural flow of the dark/light fractal is stopped in its tracks. There is darkness where there should be light. It is as if the Laws of our Universe are temporarily inverted, and the world is stood on its head. Granted, this happens somewhere twice a year, to a greater or lesser extent (depending on the power of the particular eclipse), but compared to the massive numbers of regular daily and lunar cycles, eclipses are fairly rare and therefore significant. So the eclipse becomes much more significant when thought of as a disruption of time. And, similar to sleep deprivation, things can get a little crazy — and rather quickly.

Eclipses happen in families or series, with a new member emerging approximately every 18 years. This is the Saros cycle, first discovered by Babylonian astronomer/astrologers more than two millennia ago. Solar eclipses with very similar characteristics repeat every 18 years, 11 days, and 8 hours; these eclipses are then part of the same family or Saros series. Any two eclipses separated by one Saros (6,585.3 days) share very similar geometries. They occur at the same node with the Moon, at nearly the same distance from Earth, and at the same time of year.

The current eclipse belongs to Saros Series 141, the last two of which occurred in January 1992 and December 1973. This series is made up of a total of 70 eclipses, of which the current January 15, 2010 eclipse is number 23. The family began on May 19, 1613. The first annular eclipse took place on August 4, 1739. Subsequent members of Saros 141 were all annular eclipses with increasing durations, the maximum of which was reached on December 14, 1955 and lasted 12 minutes and 9 seconds. This event was the longest annular eclipse of the entire Second Millennium. The duration of annularity of each succeeding eclipse is now dropping, yet our January 15, 2010 eclipse will still be the longest annular eclipse to occur this century, with a duration of 11 minutes and 8 seconds. Annular eclipses have such long durations because they occur at lunar apogee, when the Moon is farthest from Earth, and thus moving relatively slowly. Because the Moon is too far from Earth for the apex of its shadow to touch the Earth’s surface, the Moon will not completely cover the Sun.

graphic 1

This greater distance also results in the ubiquitous “ring of fire” (annulus = ring). Some ancient astrologers felt that the resulting ring of fire made annular eclipses especially malefic.

graphic 2

Certainly, when we look back at the last three eclipses of this family, we see some very powerful events unfolding near the eclipse and/or within the following six months (until the next solar eclipse). I have selected just a few of these that seem to clearly resonate with the zodiac sign of the corresponding eclipse.

Eclipse of December 14, 1955: (21° 31′ Sagittarius)
On the evening of December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for disobeying an Alabama law requiring black passengers to relinquish seats to white passengers when the bus was full. Blacks also were required to sit at the back of the bus. Her arrest sparked a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system and led to a November 13, 1956 Supreme Court decision banning segregation on public transportation.

Eclipse of December 24, 1973: (2°40′ Capricorn)
May 18, 1974 saw The Smiling Buddha, code name of a nuclear test explosion by India. It was the first confirmed nuclear test by a nation outside the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, making India the world’s sixth nuclear nation.

Eclipse of January 4, 1992: (13° 51′ Capricorn)
On April 28, 1992, the two remaining constituent republics of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia — Serbia and Montenegro — formed a new state called the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (after 2003, Serbia and Montenegro), bringing to an end the official union of Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Montenegrins, Bosnian Muslims, and Macedonians that existed since 1918 (with the exception of the period during World War II).

When we look at the birth chart for this series, we see two very powerful planets: Venus in her own sign conjunct the North Node (this is a North Node series); and Mercury in his own sign and conjunct Uranus. This seems to explain the theme we have seen recently of women, minorities, and smaller nations coming to the fore around these eclipses.

Solar eclipse: May 19, 1613 12:49:32 pm LMT; Washington D.C.

graphic 3

The chart for the current January 15, 2010 eclipse seems to echo the birth chart of the series in a few important ways. Venus is again conjunct the North Node, Jupiter is again conjunct Neptune, and Pluto is again in the sign of the eclipse.

Solar eclipse: January 15, 2010 2:11:55 am EST; Washington D.C.

chart 4


Within these commonalities, it seems we can form some reasonable expectations. Venus conjunct the North Node seems to symbolize either a female leader exercising her power in ways that disrupt the current status quo, or diplomatic situations/resolutions that have far-reaching consequences. This may also indicate economic complications for a struggling economy. The year 1974 was bad for the Dow and it also happened to be during a waning Saturn-Pluto square. However, this probably echoes what we already know — that unemployment will continue to lag behind a slowly growing economy. Still, Jupiter representing banks and Neptune representing fraud tells me we have not quite seen the end of the banking scandals.

Jupiter conjunct Neptune also symbolizes simultaneous expansion and dissolution — or expansion through dissolution — as was the case with Yugoslavia. The triumph of the bus boycott simultaneously expanded Civil Rights while dissolving segregation. The expansion of India into nuclear weapons also somewhat dissolved the boundaries of “the nuclear club.”  The five permanent members of the Security Council are the only nations recognized as possessing nuclear weapons under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Several other countries with nuclear weapons have not signed the treaty and are not recognized as “nuclear weapons states.” There has been criticism that the five permanent members have created an exclusive “nuclear club” that only addresses the strategic interests and political motives of the permanent members: for example, protecting the oil-rich Kuwaitis in 1991, but poorly protecting resource-poor Rwandans in 1994.

Of course, this nuclear issue brings us to Pluto, who is again in the sign of the eclipse. It is only a matter of time before we see more posturing from or toward the “rogue nations” of Iran and North Korea, so “predicting” that one or both of these situations could come to a head in the next six months seems like a no-brainer. However, it also appears obvious that both of these nations are attempting to use their potential nuclear status as a bargaining chip, making another round of escalating tensions equally as likely. Because of the lack of clear or firm support from either Russia or China, both of these situations are essentially stalemates, whereby the “rogues” can slowly inch toward the ultimate Promethean power (symbolized nicely by the Mercury-Uranus conjunction semi-square Pluto in the foundation chart of this series).

Russia and China, as the real wild-cards in these situations, brings us back to the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction. Jupiter symbolizes wealth and Neptune communism. One of the “paranoid” fears is that a cash-strapped Russia (or its scientists) could be selling off nuclear parts or knowledge to rogue nations, or even terrorists. The reverse is China, who has plenty of cashbut could easily expand into the Korean peninsula by allowing North Korea to do its dirty work and then swallowing them. The original division of the Korean peninsula occurred under the previous Jupiter/Chiron/Neptune triple conjunction in late 1945 (in the sign of Libra).

Whatever happens, it is likely to have serious repercussions due to the intense transit menu over the summer. When viewed as a series, it is easy to see the upcoming Capricorn eclipse as symbolizing some sort of destabilizing situation that may lead to a confrontation, or Cardinal Crisis, under the cardinal t-square transits of the summer. This, in turn, may beg a response from the U.S., with the next total solar eclipse of July 11, 2010 falling in the sign of Cancer and near our national holiday.

However, the closer we get to these much anticipated astrological events, I am beginning to expect less of them. Rather than “doomsday” scenarios, I’m inclined to think these events may be seen as less important to us in their moment than the fears and anticipation leading up to them seems to warrant. Cardinal signs represent beginnings. It is quite possible that the true import of what unfolds in this pivotal year will only be fully appreciated in hindsight. Someday we may look back and see that some small shoot emerged in the summer of 2010 that eventually grew into the World Tree or the “axis mundi” of a future World Order. Surprisingly, after the final analysis on this subject, my muse is asking whether we will indeed recognize it for what it is when we see it.

Gary P. Caton is an eclectic astrologer who embraces an organic, process-oriented approach to spiritual exploration. Gary holds a degree in counseling and has developed a unique multi-disciplinarian approach to Astrology over 17 years. Connect with Gary at

28 Comments - click to read them or write one | Permalink

Like what you see?   Subscribe to The Mountain Astrologer

Hello twenty ten 

By Mary Plumb | January 4, 2010

The Full Moon eclipse (the last of 2009’s six eclipses) brought us into the new decade, one of many starry omens for the turning of the calendar year.

I thought about the idea of resolutions this New Year’s, and, aside from the synonyms (e.g., resolve, determination, perseverance, tenacity, strength, fortitude, courage), the dictionary suggests another meaning: “The point in a literary work at which the chief dramatic complication is worked out.”

Now, that sounded like an interesting way to think about our resolve as we turn, like Janus, to see both the past and what is ahead.

We know that the planets are moving towards the astonishing line ups that begin this summer and continue for the next few years. (For example, on one particular day, July 31, 2010: Jupiter and Uranus, conjunct at 1°- 4° Aries, straddle the U.S. Sibly 4th-house cusp. They will be opposite Saturn and Mars at 1°- 2° Libra, conjunct the Sibly Midheaven, and square Pluto at 3° Capricorn. The Moon that day will be at 14° Aries, opposite the Sibly 10th-house Saturn at 14° Libra; the transiting South Node will be conjunct the Sibly Sun; the transiting Sun will be conjunct the U.S. North Node; transiting Neptune, at 27° Aquarius, will be conjunct the U.S. Moon and transiting Venus conjunct the U.S. Neptune at 22° Virgo. Yikes!) (1)

Looking back at where we were last year at this time, many of us, certainly those of us aligned with such notions as hope and vision for a new approach (can we blame Aquarian planets in the birth chart?), were riding rather high after the election of our new president.

Of course, Saturn had just opposed Uranus on Election Day (November 4, 2008) and it seemed that the good guy won and maybe things would be looking up.

After a remorseless buildup, in November 2009, Saturn squared Pluto for the first hard time, and they stay within a little over a degree from an exact square this whole month. Saturn at 5° Libra is going slowly now, in the degree of its station retrograde on the 13th, and heading back to meet Pluto for the second exact square on January 31st.

Saturn and Pluto, the grim reaper and the planet of obsession, are a mighty pair having their way with us. We all know what we’re dealing with now (at least as far as media reports go) and it doesn’t feel quite so hopeful as it did last year. The display of greed, corruption, and insensitivity to basic human needs is too obvious to repeat here. There are many fine commentators, astrological and otherwise, on such phenomena as the big squeeze play between the characters on Wall Street and Main Street. Global financial crisis is one theme in the story, of course, (the distraction of the adorable Balloon Boy notwithstanding), but there are many other such scary tales (i.e., climate change, more troops to Afghanistan, instability in Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, etc.)  that have a compelling grasp on our attention.

We all know that the movements of the planets tell the myths and tales of the times, and those of us alive now are part of that unfolding. Perhaps it takes a somewhat religious (or crazed?) turn of mind, but here we are, all together, and privileged to be here for whatever time we each may have.

The planets move within and without. Saturn and Pluto and the rest resonate with their counterparts in the human soul and call forth the toughness to match the daunting nature of the times. On whatever level we place our attention, that is, physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, or any other as yet unnamed domains of human experience, we can apply the resilience, courage, and fortitude offered by the great lords of the sky. We have the inner resolve to meet any difficulty or darkness and invite the light of presence, human being-ness, to hold us tightly.

We are accompanied now, of course, by Jupiter, Neptune, and Chiron — still together in Aquarius — so we are all collaborating in this stirring moment in the human story. Jupiter moves into Pisces on January 17th, so this time period encourages practicing compassion, cultivating a mystical turn of mind, and collecting invisible resources. There are all kinds of simple ways to keep ourselves healthy, happy, and whole so we are easily part of the solutions in the days ahead. Neuroscience research suggests that meditation, poetry reading, music, walks in nature, and all manner of other such lovely and simple activities, help keep the brain regulated and improve our ability to process negative emotions. Restoring our own nervous systems and brain chemistry may never have been so important! (2)

Yesterday, as I was making soup and thinking about what to write this week, an artist-great cook friend sent me a Rumi poem, Buoyancy. The beginning lines speak to me of these beautiful, exquisitely dark/light, and always magnificent, times:

Love had taken away my practices
and filled me with poetry.

I tried to keep quietly repeating,
No strength but yours,
but I couldn’t.

I had to clap and sing.
I used to be respectable and chaste and stable,
but who can stand in this strong wind
and remember those things?

A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself.
That’s how I hold your voice.

I am scrap wood thrown in your fire,
and quickly reduced to smoke.

I saw you and became empty.
This emptiness, more beautiful than existence,
it obliterates existence, and yet when it comes,
existence thrives and creates more existence! (3)

I love especially the line: “I used to be respectable and chaste and stable, but who can stand in this strong wind and remember these things?” That addresses so gently the tremendous struggle that we experience at dark moments in the soul. Perhaps we will have infinite kindness towards one another as Saturn and Pluto press some of us to face “the chief dramatic complication” in our lives and do our best to carry on nonetheless.

The Tibetan scholar Dr. Robert Thurman said in an interview in which he was speaking about the Dalai Lama’s teaching: “I think the Dalai Lama’s basic message is: world peace through inner peace. A new way.” He also said in that interview: “People simply say ‘no’ to more coercion and violence.” (4) Now, perhaps that is a good mantra for the workings of Saturn and Pluto within ourselves as well — simply saying “no” to tyranny and fear and the violence in our own minds and emotions. The harsh aspect between the two planets may suggest a ruthless assault on all that is not helping us and the world to move forward.

I’d like to mention the writer and activist, Arundhati Roy, born on November 24, 1961. (5) Astrologers will see signatures for activism in her natal chart, with the Sun conjunct Mars in Sagittarius and square Uranus and Pluto in Virgo. She also has Neptune, Mercury, and Venus conjunct in Scorpio. Described as being “hopelessly in love with the world’s have-nots,” Roy has the perception of a mystic and poet. (6) At a talk at the World Social Forum in Brazil in 2003, she ended her presentation on “confronting empire” like this:  “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

(1) Thanks to my good friend, Doug Kellogg, for pointing out this particularly striking day.    
(2) Read (and listen to) The Neuroscience of Compassion for a start.
(3) Read the entire poem here.
(4) Good Radio Shows
(5) Wikipedia
(6) The Witness

7 Comments - click to read them or write one | Permalink

Like what you see?   Subscribe to The Mountain Astrologer
Page 8 of 10« First...678910