TMA This Week

Mercury Elemental Years of Air & the Development of Cryptocurrency

By Gary P. Caton | September 15, 2021

“I would be surprised if 10 years from now we’re not using electronic currency in some way…it might make sense just to get some, in case it catches on. If enough people think the same way, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Satoshi Nakamoto, January 16, 2009 (1)

Earlier this year, Satoshi Nakamoto’s self-fulfilling prophecy came true in a very big way. Bitcoin, the original electronic currency, reached an all-time high value of $60,000 per coin in April. That means a whole lot of people were thinking the same way! Since then cryptocurrency has enjoyed an expansion into all kinds of areas we traditionally think of as belonging pretty much exclusively to banks. As well as trade assets and derivatives, decentralized finance (DeFi) can help you do things like earn interest, borrow, lend, and buy insurance. Only it’s much faster than dealing with a bank, with less fees and no paperwork.

I’m a bit embarrassed to say that, up until very recently, I was pretty much oblivious to these developments — which I now see as nothing short of a Revolution in progress. I had been hard at work in my own private practice, serving my clients and members, researching, writing and creating. I hadn’t a clue that cryptocurrency was reaching a new threshold of mass adoption until one of my members asked me to help them time their investments using astrology.

I quickly discovered that the development of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency over the last 22 years is a very clear and profound example of the premises in my book, Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year. The basic premise is simple. Each year Mercury spends more time in one element than all the other Elements combined. And this Elemental emphasis drives mass socio-cultural narratives. For example, regarding Air years, I wrote:

“Air is moist becoming hot and is the most naturally communicative of the elements. The basic nature for air is to rise (hot) and to unify (moist). Therefore air serves to answer the basic human needs for intellectual activity and theoretical unity, belonging-ness and cooperation with others, and to quickly understand and adjust to diverse ideas and people.” (2) The moist quality of air is what Nakamoto is referring to in the opening quote: If enough people share an idea, this cohesiveness naturally leads to mass changes. As the new idea gains momentum, it eventually envelops and overwhelms the previously accepted consensus view.

Not only the philosophy but even the actual technology of blockchain and cryptocurrency very much resembles the qualities of air. Again, air is hot and moist — that is, active and connective or unifying. Blockchain is literally a way of actively linking together (connecting) blocks of information (air) using cryptography. Blockchains are typically managed by a peer-to-peer (person to person) network of connected nodes (computers that share the same program). All of this inter-connectivity and information exchange is classic air.

In fact, the Internet itself is a classic manifestation of air, in that it is simply a more basic kind of network which allows information exchange. And of course the Internet was born after the Great Mutation of Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions into Air signs in 1980. It should come as no surprise then that the two biggest cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ethereum, both began during Mercury Elemental Years of Air. Bitcoin (BTC) began in 2009 and is the original. The actual birth data for Bitcoin (which is stored in the blockchain itself): January 3, 2009 at 6:15 p.m. in London. (3)


After 6-7 years, the Mercury Elemental Year cycles through all 4 elements and returns to the same element. Therefore, as the Mercury Elemental Year returned to Air in 2015, Ethereum was born on July 30 at 5:26 p.m. in Zug, Switzerland. (The data is taken from the timestamp embedded in the “genesis” or first block of the blockchain). (4)

In 2021 as the Mercury Elemental Year returns to Air, we have an explosion of the crypto industry as several new cryptocurrencies have flourished to reach more than 50 billion dollars in total market value. This year has especially favored those with “smart contract” capabilities, like Cardano and Solana. Even the phrase “smart contract” corresponds to air, as it is an intelligent way of making agreements that connect people. This year the crypto industry as a whole reached more than two trillion dollars in market cap. This has garnered the attention of the U.S. Government as Congress looks to regulate and tax the fast growing industry. More than just increased value, crypto has also branched out into new applications and areas like finance, and pop culture (via NFT’s or non-fungible tokens).

Taken together, this means that three consecutive installments of Air Years for Mercury have seen major introductions or upgrades to this game changing technology. From this we can clearly see how Mercury has served to augment the powerful mutation of the Great Conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn into the Air Element. And since the Great Conjunctions will continue to be in Air signs for a very long time to come, the basic astrology seems to be saying crypto is also probably here to stay.

With Bitcoin recently logging its 700,000th block, its staying power seems obvious. (5) Furthermore, having begun in 2009 under the auspices of Saturn opposite Uranus and come to full flowering under this year’s Saturn-Uranus squares, it seems clear to this astrologer that what we are witnessing and experiencing is nothing short of a Revolution. Crypto has already changed the world in some pretty incredible ways. You can transfer currency to someone now with very low fees and about as quickly and easily as you can send them an email. It’s not extreme hyperbole to say this makes services like Western Union seem almost like the Pony Express. And given the rapid pace of development just this year, we may just be seeing the tip of the iceberg. Some say that crypto holds the keys to unleashing the full power of the Internet – that crypto is essentially Internet 3.0. Whether Bitcoin manages to reach another all-time high this year, or not (and there are sound astrological reasons to think it could) – it might make sense to just get some crypto, in case it continues to catch on.

Full disclosure: I own crypto. As of this writing, I only own coins that pay interest (specifically, USDC, ATOM, XTZ & ALGO) – but (as you might have guessed) I have ideas about adding some others to my portfolio.

References and recommended reading:

(1) The Quotable Satoshi
Nakamoto Institute

(2) Caton, Gary. Hermetica Triptycha Vol I: The Mercury Elemental Year. Aukland, NZ: Rubedo Press, 2017.
Available via publisher.
also on Amazon.

(3) The timestamp on BTC genesis block reads: January 3, 2009 18:15:05 UTC. The place comes from the newspaper headline embedded in the code “Chancellor on Brink of Second Bailout for Banks” which ran that day in the London Times.

(4) The timestamp on ETH genesis block reads: July 30, 2015 3:26:13pm UTC. I have assumed the place as the headquarters of the Ethereum Foundation, which is in Zug, Switzerland.

(5) Cointelegraph

Bio: Gary P. Caton is an Hermetic practitioner integrating diverse traditions, art forms and practices gathered from his spiritual quest over a full Saturn cycle. Initiated an astrologer by a magnificent dream in 1993, he’s since become an accomplished counselor, writer, podcaster, teacher, photographer and mage. Gary is the author of Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year, and host of the popular Hermetic Astrology Podcast. Connect with him at DreamAstrologer.com

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Mercury Retrograde in Gemini 2021

By Gary P. Caton | May 26, 2021

Anaximenes…attributed all the causes of things to infinite Air, and did not deny that there were Gods; yet he believed not that Air was made by them, but that they arose from Air.” (1)

Augustine of Hippo, De Civitate Dei (The City of God) 5th Century CE

 

Anaximenes’ cosmology centers on Air, and this year Mercury is spending more time in the Air signs than all the other signs combined. In the previous blogs of this series, we noticed how the philosophy of Anaximenes laid the foundation for the Western understanding of the nature of the four elements (via four qualities) as a well as connection between the microcosm and macrocosm. (2) Importantly, Augustine reminds us that the Air upon which Anaximenes based his philosophy and cosmology was not the “common” atmospheric air, but something more transcendent — more transcendent even than the Gods.

The ancient alchemists saw Mercury in a similar fashion. Certainly mercurius vulgaris, the common elemental form of Mercury, figured importantly in their work. But this work in the “below” (or microcosm) was far from the end goal. Rather, the alchemists sought the rarefied presence of Mercurius philosophorum — which Jung described as “the world-creating Spirit concealed or imprisoned in matter.” (3) And of course the duality inherent in these two different forms is inherent to both Mercury and its diurnal home of Gemini, for alchemical Mercury is at once both “the innermost point and at the same time the encompasser of the World.” (4)

What this means, in more practical terms, is that we must remember during this upcoming retrograde that we are being moved — not merely by the common forces of the mundane world — but more importantly, by something which is foundational, even to the Gods. In terms of the Tarot, these separate forces are indicated by the minor arcana and royal cards versus the more archetypal dimensions of the major arcana. The Jungian psychologist James Hollis referred to this split in terms of the human life span, saying that the question in the first half of life is, “What does the world want of me?” whereas the question of the second half of life becomes, “What does the Soul (or Gods) want of me?”  Depending on our development, we may need to focus on one of these questions, but during the upcoming retrograde these questions may be confounding and difficult to untangle. Jung said that this “tension of opposites” was not only necessary, but the source of all growth. And inasmuch as we are able to tolerate and even sustain this tension, we have the capacity to allow the unconscious to birth a “magical third” which resolves the conflict in a way we cannot foresee. (5)

Beyond the inherent dualistic tendencies of Gemini, there are other reasons to think this difficult tension between the common or everyday mercury and the philosophical mercury will be heightened in the upcoming retrograde. Award-winning astrologers Michael Munkasey and Robert Blaschke employed a technique whereby the difficulty level of the three retrogrades each year are sorted according to their duration, degrees of travel and relative speed of Mercury at cazimi. (6) Because this upcoming retrograde lasts the longest (25 days), has the shortest span of degrees (8°35’) and the slowest speed at cazimi (0° 33’/day) — it is expected to be the most difficult of the three this year.

In terms of the individual, this means that the affairs of the house occupied by Gemini are about to become very much intensified. In my own book on the subject, I found it useful to sort the houses into four basic combinations based on the rising sign of an individual nativity. (7) Using the ancient Whole Sign house method (also employed by modern horoscope writers), the three signs of the Air triplicity must represent either houses 1, 5, 9; or houses 2, 6, 10; or houses 3, 7, 11, or houses 4,8, 12, in any given nativity. I then use the angular house of each of these combinations to define the meaning of the group, or Trigon.

For Air rising signs the three retrogrades of 2021 will activate houses 1, 5 & 9. These are labeled the Trigon of Identity, and it is posited that this year’s retrogrades will most significantly impact the nature of the various social personas (1st house) available to the person; the creative outlets (5th house) which arise from their choice of persona, and the new horizons which open up (9th house) as a result of engaging these creative opportunities. During the coming retrograde, Geminis are developing a new identity by combining various cultural, philosophical or religious ideas in novel ways. For Libra, it becomes important to focus on personal creativity as a means or window to the transcendent. Aquarians should focus on developing a new persona by exploring more of the creative possibilities which are  afforded to them.

For Earth rising signs the Mercury Elemental Year of Air will activate houses 2, 6 & 10. Because the 10th is related to career, I have dubbed these houses the Trigon of Mastery, and it is posited that these retrogrades will most significantly impact the tangible and intangible resources (2nd) which are available to a person; the skill sets (6th) they develop in learning to manage these resources, and the career (10th) which develops as a result of bringing these skills out into the public eye. During the coming retrograde, continued professional development for Taurus requires the discovery of new inner strengths which will point the way to new income. By being willing to be seen, and even shine, Virgos can use their latest competencies to transform the nature of their profession. Capricorns should focus on developing the new skills needed to fully take advantage of their most recent harvests.

For Fire rising signs, the Mercury Elemental Year of Air will activate the houses 3, 7 & 11. Because the 7th is about relationships, I have dubbed these houses the Relationship Trigon. It is posited that these retrogrades will most significantly impact the 7th house of one-on-one relationships, the 11th house of intra-group relationships, and the 3rd house of inter-group relationships. Here we see a somewhat novel concept that I realized in examining these Trigons. Essentially there are three types of relationship: person to person as individuals (7th); person to person within a group of common interest (11th), and person to person as individuals belonging to different groups (3rd). During the coming retrograde, Aries can take the lessons they’ve learned from dealing with their colleagues to gain entry into new groups which will greatly expand their networks. For Leo, personal relationships become the doorways into new group collaborations. Sagittarius can use the rich diversity of their communities to find new ways of being with others, and ideally realize that each relationship has its own unique alchemy.

For Water rising signs, the Mercury Elemental Year of Air will activate the houses 4, 8 & 12. Because the 4th is about family, but also legacy, I have dubbed these houses the Trigon of Dynasty. It is posited that these retrogrades will most significantly impact the 4th house of biological family and ancestry; the 8th house of marital, business and extended family, and the 12th house of spiritual family. During the coming retrograde, Cancer will find that the fiscal or emotional challenges encountered within marriage or business relationships ultimately have spiritual solutions. Scorpio is discovering that healing their ancestral wounds is the real key to showing up fully for other people. For Pisces the focus should be on what they ultimately want to leave behind when their time here is done — all else is mere detail.

 

References and recommended reading:

(1) Wikipedia: The City of God

(2) I previously outlined the Air year in overview

and the Aquarius retrograde for the TMA blog.

(3) Psychology and Alchemy, Part 3, Chapter 3.1
Wikipedia

(4) Jung, C.G, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Bollingen Foundation, NY., 1959. Quote retrieved here.

(5) For a discussion of this quote within an alchemical framework, see for instance: The Archetype of the Holy Wedding in Alchemy and in the Unconscious of Modern Man.

(6) See Robert’s TMA blog on the subject here.

(7) Caton, Gary. Hermetica Triptycha Vol I: The Mercury Elemental Year Aukland, NZ: Rubedo Press, 2017.

Available via publisher Rubedo Press. Also on Amazon.

Bio:Gary P. Caton is a Hermetic practitioner integrating diverse traditions, art forms and practices gathered from his spiritual quest over a full Saturn cycle. Initiated an astrologer by a magnificent dream in 1993, he’s since become an accomplished counselor, writer, podcaster, teacher, photographer and mage. Gary is the author of Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year, and host of the popular Hermetic Astrology Podcast. Connect with him at www.DreamAstrologer.com

 

 

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Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius 2021

By Gary P. Caton | January 27, 2021

“As our soul, which is air, maintains us, so breath and air surround the whole world.”
— Anaximenes of Miletus, 6th Century BCE (1)

In the previous blog in this series, we noticed how the philosophy of Anaximenes lay the foundation for the Western understanding of the nature of the four elements (via four qualities), as well the system of heavenly spheres by which the Ptolemaic Cosmos was later arranged. (2) Amazing as these innovations in thought were, and as fundamental as they became, Anaximenes took another more radical step in his philosophy. He implied a connection between the microcosm and macrocosm, and thereby lay the foundation for the concept of an Anima Mundi, or World Soul, later formalized by Plato in Timaeus.

In her seminal work on retrogrades, Erin Sullivan refers to this contrast, between the macrocosm or collective and the microcosm or personal, as an important means of focusing the retrograde experience. (3) She notes that the extended stay of Mercury in the element (in this case, Air) is something experienced collectively, by everyone. However, on an individual level, each of us experiences this through the lens of our personal chart, via certain houses. She notes that the collective experience of Mercury retrograde in Air will be defined by an archetypal need to re-examine the meaning of relationship, and the relationship patterns which arise from the techniques we habitually employ. She recommends paying close attention to how one creates, develops and maintains relationships during this time.

For example, in 2008, only 13 years ago (also a Mercury Elemental Year of Air) Facebook became the most visited website in the world. We live now in an age where social media has become an extremely significant part of how we relate to one another. However, as the recent documentary The Social Dilemma illustrates, this trend in how humans relate to one another also has potential negative side effects and consequences. (4) Each one of us has to decide how to deal with this collective dilemma, and that will depend on the houses activated in the personal chart.

In my own book, I went a step further and sorted the houses into four basic combinations, based on the rising sign of an individual nativity. (5) Using the ancient whole sign house method (also employed by modern horoscope writers) in a given nativity, the three signs of the Air triplicity will represent either houses 1,5,9; houses 2,6,10; houses 3,7,11, or houses 4,8,12. I then use the angular house of each of these combinations to define the meaning of the group of three (trigon).

As an example, houses 1,5 and 9 are labeled the Trigon of Identity. It is posited that these retrogrades will most significantly impact the nature of the various social personas available to the person (1st house); the creative outlets which arise from their choice of persona (5th house), and the new horizons which open up as a result of engaging these creative opportunities (9th house). For a more concrete example, I was born in 1968 (also a Mercury Elemental Year of Air) with Aquarius rising; these periods have a long history of being important in my personal development. It was at the end of a Mercury Elemental year of Air (in 2002) that I was first published in the print version of TMA (following a retrograde in Libra, my 9th house). At the next Mercury Elemental Year of Air, specifically during the Aquarius Mercury retrograde in 2008, I posted my first podcast (for which I had consciously chosen the day of the inferior conjunction). I also joined Facebook later that year. So, the persona of an internet astrologer — newly available to humanity at that point, became further activated through social media and podcasting as a way to manage my relationship with the collective. This opened various other creative opportunities. For instance, in 2009 because of a Facebook post I had written, TMA founder Tem Tarriktar invited me to begin blogging for the magazine website. I found new horizons by continuing to engage creatively with this media. In 2015, as the Mercury Elemental Year once again returned to the Air element, I re-branded my podcast according to my burgeoning alignment with Hermetic philosophy. I also hosted my first Sky Astrology Conference (an international event), began work on my book, and connected with a publisher.

Now, as the Mercury retrogrades return to Air once again, it is time for me to re-examine my relationship to social media and podcasting, and more generally my role as a modern astrologer who makes their living via the internet. Beyond the ethical dilemma social media poses, at this point my practice has grown such that I literally don’t have the time to tend to an active online presence. And, if I am honest, my desire to do so has also changed. Fortunately, I have a couple years to try out new and different ways of dealing with my social (Air) identity (houses 1, 5 and 9).

In fact, it’s not just possible but probable that anyone with an Air sign rising will be facing a similar process, though, of course unique to their life story. It should definitely be insightful and helpful to go back over the last few installments of the Mercury Elemental Year of Air — with an eye toward developments in the Identity Trigon of houses, 1, 5 and 9. To this end, here are the last three corresponding entries from the 125-year ephemeris at the back of my book.

Now, let’s look at the other Trigons. Again, using the ancient whole sign (and modern horoscope writer) system for Earth rising signs, the Mercury Elemental Year of Air will activate houses 2, 6 and 10. Because the 10th is related to career, I have dubbed these houses the Trigon of Mastery. It is posited that these retrogrades will most significantly impact the resources, both tangible and intangible, which are available to a person (2nd); the skill sets they develop in learning to manage these resources (6th), and the career that develops as a result of bringing these skills into the public eye (10th). Some of the celebrity examples I use in my book of people with Earth rising signs, and specifically during Mercury Elemental years of Air: Judith Resnick, Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Jean Cocteau, Tiger Woods, Georgie Ann Geyser, Bob Hayes, Roy Orbison, and Buddy Holly. A look at the charts and biographies of these people should be instructive on ways to handle this combination.

For Fire rising signs, the Mercury Elemental Year of Air will activate the houses 3, 7 and 11. Because the 7th is about relationships, I have dubbed these houses the Relationship Trigon, and it is posited that these retrogrades will most significantly impact the 7th house of one-on-one relationships; the 11th house of intra-group relationships, and the 3rd house of inter-group relationships. Here we see a somewhat novel concept that I found when examining these trigons: Essentially there are three types of relationships — person-to-person as individuals (7th); person-to-person within a group of common interests (11th), and person-to-person as individuals belonging to different groups (3rd). Some of the celebrity examples I use in my book of people born with Fire rising signs, and, again during Mercury Elemental years of Air, include: Gary Hart, King George III, Martin Heidegger, Barbara Streisand, Anne Frank, Jimi Hendrix, Yo-Yo Ma, Prince Charles, and Marianne Alireza. A look at the charts and biographies of these people should be instructive on ways to handle this combination.

For Water rising signs, the Mercury Elemental Year of Air will activate the houses 4, 8 and 12. Because the 4th is about family, but also legacy, I have dubbed these houses the Trigon of Dynasty. It is posited that these retrogrades will most significantly impact the 4th house of biological family and ancestry; the 8th house of marital, business and extended family, and the 12th house of spiritual family. Some of the celebrity examples I use in my book of people born with Water rising signs (during Mercury Elemental years of Air) include: William Blake, Aretha Franklin, George Sand, Barbara Jordon, Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis, Phil Donohue, Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama), Edith Piaf, and Frank Capra. A look at the charts and biographies of these people should be instructive on ways to handle this combination.

References and recommended reading:

(1) See here for more on Anaximenes, and the other Pre-Socratics:

(2) I outlined the Air year in overview for the TMA blog here.

(3) Sullivan, Erin. Retrograde Planets: Traversing the Inner Landscape. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 2000.

(4) The Social Dilemma

(5) Caton, Gary. Hermetica Triptycha Vol I: The Mercury Elemental Year. Auckland, NZ: Rubedo Press, 2017.

Available via publisher Rubedo Press

also on Amazon

Bio:
Gary P. Caton is an Hermetic practitioner integrating diverse traditions, art forms and practices gathered from his spiritual quest over a full Saturn cycle now. Initiated an astrologer by a magnificent dream in 1993, he’s since become an accomplished counselor, writer, podcaster, teacher, photographer and mage. Gary is the author of Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year, and host of the popular Hermetic Astrology Podcast. Connect with him at Dream Astrologer.

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The Mercury Elemental Year of Air 2021

By Gary P. Caton | December 9, 2020

“Air differs in essence in accordance with its rarity or density. When it is thinned it becomes fire, while when it is condensed it becomes wind, then cloud, when still more condensed it becomes water, then earth, then stones. Everything else comes from these.”
—Anaximenes of Miletus, circa 546 BCE (1)

In the Western philosophical tradition there is a group of pre-Socratic philosophers who are collectively known as “monists” (from the Greek “monos” meaning “single” or “one”) because of their differing ideas regarding which one of the four elements was the primary source from whence all other things emanate or flow. In seeking to understand the “first cause” of the Universe, these philosophers were taking an important step in rational thought. Their explorations would influence later philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle and help form the bedrock of Western Civilization.

Anaximenes uses the idea of density to explain differences in elemental substances in a way that makes common sense, and has also become fundamental to understanding the classical Hermetic Arts of Alchemy, Astrology and Magic. Even a child can see that Earth is more dense than Water, because when you throw a stone in a lake, it sinks. Likewise, everyone has witnessed the steam that rises into the Air once the Sun comes out and heats things up after a rain. Thus, the four elements can be arranged by their level of material density. This in turn forms a ladder by which things can move up (via rarefaction) or down (via condensation). This idea would go on to be central to the entire Ptolemaic Cosmos, which is arranged in a series of concentric spheres, with God at the most rarefied top; the stars and planets in a series of descending spheres leading down to the four elements, and finally to us. (2)

This basic and fundamental understanding of the elements, begun by Anaximenes, is extremely important to understanding classical Astrology as well as its sister arts, Alchemy and Magic. The idea that Air is simply Water which has become hotter and less dense, gives us important clues in how our Mercurial experiences of one year might differ from another. Because Mercury’s synodic (or solar cycle) is 116 days on average, this means there are three complete cycles during each calendar year. It also means that Mercury’s retrograde periods generally happen with an emphasis on one elemental triplicity, wherein Mercury spends an inordinate amount of time in the signs of one element, rather than the others.

Over the course of six or seven years, this elemental emphasis arising from Mercury’s retrogrades moves through the four elements in reverse zodiacal order, from the fire signs, to water signs, to air signs, to earth signs. I first became aware of this phenomenon through Erin Sullivan’s seminal work, Retrograde Planets. (3) I spent many years in intense study on this topic myself, resulting in my own tome: Hermetica Triptycha Volume One: The Mercury Elemental Year. (4) In Chapter Five of my book, I focus on the practical implications of understanding the way the four elements transform one into another via the classical four qualities: hot/cold and wet/dry.

The diagram above is known as the “square of opposites” and is used to demonstrate the basic interplay between elements. Once we understand that water is cold and wet, while air is hot and wet, then we can see the fundamental difference between air and water is that of density, energy and direction. This has enormous ramifications. For instance, with an understanding of the Mercury Elemental Year there were astrological reasons to have optimism that 2021 would be very different from 2020 — long before it was known whether effective vaccines for Covid could even be produced.

As we can see in the diagram above (from the ground-breaking ephemerides in my book), the nature of 2020 was defined by the Mercury Elemental Year of Water, which has the qualities of coldness, moistness and downward or inward movement. Just as the alchemical symbol for Water is a downward pointing triangle, we were forced to spend much of 2020 in isolation. However, 2021 is defined by the Mercury Elemental Year of Air, which has the quality of heat and moisture and is symbolized by an upward pointing triangle. Now that we know that effective vaccines for Covid are being produced, we have evidence to back up the astrological assumption that things should be very different in 2021.

I have written at length for TMA about the many reasons why the shifts between elements for Mercury’s retrogrades continue to be an obvious source of socio-political change (5). Because they share a quality (moistness), the shift from water to air is not quite as dramatic as others, but there should still be a noticeable difference in public discourse. In Alchemy, Air operations involve separating or sifting of entangled or enmeshed materials or ideas. One of the main things we need to accomplish is some objectivity about what has happened to the World. In 2020 we saw a lot of emotional appeals (Water) based on ideas and evidence that not everyone yet agrees on. With Mercury spending more time in the Air signs, we should be able to get more objective information about what exactly happened, what was effective, and what was not. And this, in turn, should give us better ideas about where we are heading.

This is especially true because the element of Mercury’s retrograde is the same element into which the Great Conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn are now shifting. Just as moisture converts to vapor and rises in the presence of heat, our emotional attachments to entrenched ways of life will now be challenged by the need to look at things from a higher perspective. Take for instance the change in direction around the concept known as “peak oil.” It was once thought that our demand for oil would keep growing and eventually a dwindling of supply would force us to change. But now, the pandemic has forced us to change and realize we can do things very differently. This in turn, has led some to see “peak oil” as a dwindling of demand as lifestyles begin to change post-pandemic. (6)

A long term investigation of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction cycles, such as the one undertaken by my friend, Kelly Lee Phipps, clearly demonstrates that cultural diversity seems to be one of the socio-political features of Air cycles. (7) In particular, the cultural mixing that occurred in the post Alexandrian conquest era (Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions in Air signs from 344-245 BC), is seen to be crucial to the later formation of Western tropical astrology as we know it — with Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Hindu and European ideas all coming together in Alexandria. A later Air wave (Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions in Air signs from 1226-1286 CE), saw great cultural mixing via the silk roads of the Mongols, and the seeds of a later European Renaissance.

From this we can expect that one of the features of 2021-2022 will be new ideas that force us to re-consider long held assumptions about the world. Air is moist and cohesive like water, but unlike water, which tends to gather and remain in pools — air is hot and active which leads to more interchange and mixing between these pockets of relative similarity. This sounds like the perfect antidote to the increasing polarization we’ve seen recently in socio-politics. As we get back out into the world and begin mixing together again, I think it’s very possible we will find that we have much more to learn from those with different viewpoints than from those who already share our ideas. In fact, it is considered a basic tenet of Jungian psychology that — especially in the second half of life — we need to move away from our habitual patterns (i.e., dominant function) to explore and integrate the unknown parts of ourselves (i.e., inferior function) in order to become whole. This has certainly been true in my own astrology career. I began, as most did at the time, as a modern astrologer. But discovering, learning and integrating more traditional material has led to my greatest growth. With the Mercury Elemental Year of Air and Jupiter and Saturn in Aquarius, 2021 represents a great opportunity for us all to discover, learn and integrate new ideas, philosophies and social energy.

References and recommended reading:

(1) For more on Anaximenes, see for instance The Ancient History Encyclopedia.

(2) Wikipedia: Celestial spheres

(3) Sullivan, Erin. Retrograde Planets: Traversing the Inner Landscape. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 2000, pg. 67-76.

(4) Available via Rubedo Press
also available on Amazon

(Reviewed in TMA June/July 2018)

(5) I outlined the transition from Earth to Fire in 2017 for this TMA blog.

(6) See for instance a recent article in Bloomberg.

(7) Divine Inspiration Astrology.

Bio: Gary P. Caton is a transdisciplinary astrologer who maintains an active sacred relationship with the living Sky as his temple. Initiated as an astrologer by a magnificent dream in 1993, Gary is the author of Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year, and host of the popular Hermetic Astrology Podcast. Find out more at DreamAstrologer.

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The Mercury Elemental Year of Fire 2017–18

By Gary P. Caton | December 4, 2017

“The Cosmos … ever was, and is, and will be:
everliving fire, kindling in measures and being quenched in measures.”
— Heraclitus of Ephesus, circa 500 BCE (1)

In the Western philosophical tradition there is a group of pre-Socratic philosophers collectively known as “monists” (from the Greek monos, meaning “single” or “one”), whose common interest was determining which of the four elements was the primary source from whence all other things emanate. For Heraclitus, the primary substance of the universe was fire — the Sun and Moon were huge celestial bowls of fire. Though it turns out that a bowl of fire remains an apt description of the Sun, it is overly simplistic to think that Heraclitus only thought literally, that everything was physically made of fire. Fire, rather, was the best metaphor for the Heraclitean doctrine of eternal flux. The philosopher thought that the basic universal principle (i.e., kosmos or world-order) was constant change. To demonstrate this, he used the metaphor of the elements in a constant state of flow, and through what he called “turnings of fire,” changing from fire, to water, to air (i.e., a “fireburst,” a kind of fiery wind) and earth.

There is an astrological parallel to the Heraclitean cosmology. Over the course of 6 to 7 years, the Mercury retrogrades move through the four elements in reverse zodiacal order, from the fire signs, to water signs, to air signs, to earth signs. I first became aware of this phenomenon through Erin Sullivan’s seminal work, Retrograde Planets. (2) I have spent the last five years studying this topic, resulting in my own tome: Hermetica Triptycha Volume One: The Mercury Elemental Year. (3) In chapter five of my book, I note that this same reverse zodiacal sequence of elements is referenced in The Emerald Tablet, the mystical Hermetic document widely interpreted as a formula for creating the “philosopher’s stone” — a microcosm of the universal principle, encapsulating the primordial creative power of the monad or original substance. (4) When understood in these contexts, Mercury’s cycle of retrogrades through the four elements is recapitulating both a cosmic world-ordering principle and a magic formula for the re-creation, materialization, and containment of this primordial creative power!

If it seems bizarre that ordering the elements in reverse to the normal zodiacal order should be seen as primordial and creative, we must remember that across diverse cultures, from the Greek Hermes to the Native American Coyote, the Trickster archetype has often been seen as inherently creative. (5) Without the Trickster archetype to shake things up, our cultures become static and unable to change and grow. Similarly, to use Joseph Campbell’s metaphor, without the “forest adventure” of becoming the hero/ine discovering our own unique path, we are lulled into a sleepy kind of awareness by the rules and restrictions of the village. (6)

Going further, it is important to note that it is not only the back and forth, or east/west longitude that signifies the alchemy and magic of Mercury retrograde cycles. As I wrote in TMA earlier this year, retrograde motion is far more wonderfully complex than is usually portrayed. (7) It consists of not only the aforementioned east/west variation in direct/retrograde motion of celestial longitude, but also dramatic changes in the north/south dimension of celestial latitude that produce a kind of looping motion. Moreover, if we understand the phenomenon of Mercury retrograde visually, during a very short span of time Mercury makes appearances above the western horizon, then dips below the threshold of visibility and finally re-emerges above the eastern horizon. (8) Lastly, from a geocentric point of view, during retrograde motion Mercury is coming from a space behind (e.g., exterior) to the Sun and penetrating the very heart-space of our solar system — the space between the Sun and Earth, a space so central, basic, and fundamental to our system that it is commonly referred to as the Astronomical Unit (AU).

Therefore, we have at least four different kinds of “mixing” occurring during Mercury retrograde. The mixing of east/west direct/retrograde currents can be seen as an exchange between the currently accepted socio-cultural norms and the newer counter-cultural challenges to those norms. The mixing of north/south latitudinal currents can be seen as an exchange between the personal and social aspects of life. The mixing of above/below with respect to the horizon and Mercury’s cycle of visibility can be seen as an exchange between the conscious and unconscious dimensions. And finally, the mixing between the interior and exterior spaces of our solar system can be seen as an exchange between the microcosm and macrocosm. All this primordial mixing produces an alchemy that is quite literally capable of changing, or re-birthing, the world.

For the next year, after occurring in the earth signs, Mercury retrogrades are happening in the fire signs. The last time Mercury’s retrograde moved from earth signs to fire signs occurred in late 2010 when Mohamed Bouazizi lit the spark for the Tunisian Revolution, a conflagration that quickly spread into a regional uprising throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East in what became known as the Arab Spring. I think that part of the reason this particular transition seems to have so much power can be seen from the relative density of the elements. Any child knows that when you throw a stone into water, it sinks — therefore, earth is denser than water. And, of course, steam rises and water evaporates into air, demonstrating that the air element is less dense than water. Finally, smoke rises even into the thin air, showing that fire is the least dense of all elements. So, when Mercury’s retrogrades in the densest of elements (earth) give ways to retrogrades in the least dense of elements (fire), this represents an extremely dramatic transition, as the volatile fiery currents liberate all the fixed potential energy stored in the denser earth. Here is a pop culture example of this particular transition from my new book:

“The four founding members of the Eagles signed with David Geffen in September of 1971, during the last part of a Mercury elemental year of earth (and as the Mercury elemental year was transitioning from earth to fire) … By the time their first greatest hits album was released, the Mercury elemental year had moved through fire, water, and air, and was about to return to earth. This six-to-seven-year return to the Mercury elemental year of birth represents what I call the ‘long form’ of Mercury’s transformative dance, and usually indicates some kind of completion. Like all completions, it can signify a return to one’s roots, on the one hand, or the beginning of a brand new era, on the other. In the case of the Eagles, it was the latter. As their sound was moving from a mostly country (earth) influence to more rock and roll (fire), founding member Bernie Leadon left the group (December 1975). Leadon’s solid multi-instrumental talent (earth) was replaced by the volatility of Joe Walsh (fire), and the first album featuring Walsh in the line-up, Hotel California, became not only the band’s best-selling studio album, but also a rock and roll classic. Through capturing the transformative power of Mercury … the Eagles were able to transform themselves from country-rock pioneers into pure rock and roll legends.” (9)

You can read an extended excerpt from my book at my publisher’s website and listen my latest Hermetic Astrology Podcast where I speak at length about this particular retrograde cycle. It is my fervent hope that this new work will help to re-frame Mercury’s “backward trickster medicine dance” (retrogrades) from simply an occasional annoying experience, or an outright malefic influence to be studiously avoided, toward the profound transformational and magical opportunity which I feel it truly represents. May the Trickster be with you!

References and recommended reading:

(1) All references to Heraclitus from:
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

You may also enjoy: The History of Philosophy podcast.

(2) Sullivan, Erin. Retrograde Planets: Traversing the Inner Landscape. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 2000, pp. 67–76.

(3) Now available via Rubedo Press (and also on Amazon.)

(4) See, for instance: Hauck, Dennis. The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy For Personal Transformation. New York: Penguin, 1999.

(5) See, for instance: Hyde, Lewis. Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1998.

(6) I am referring to Joseph Campbell’s work, nicely summarized near the end of his life in a series of interviews with Bill Moyers, called The Power of Myth.

(7) Caton, Gary, “An Astronomical View of Venus Retrograde,” TMA, April/May 2017.
Also: Caton, Gary, “Toward a Multi-Dimensional View of Retrograde Motion,” NCGR Geocosmic Journal, Winter 2017.
“An Updated Three-Dimensional Model of Planetary Motion,” a series of lectures for Sky Astrology Conference, available for download from my website.

(8) I outlined the Sky Astrology view of Mercury retrograde for the TMA blog in 2015.

(9) Caton, Gary. Hermetica Triptycha: The Mercury Elemental Year. Auckland, New Zealand: Rubedo Press, 2017, pp. 133–134.

Bio:
Gary P. Caton is a trans-disciplinary astrologer who embraces an organic, process-oriented approach to spiritual growth and transformation via engagement with the living sky. Initiated into astrology via a dream in 1993, he has since devoted his entire life to refining his vision. An accomplished stargazer and astro-photographer, Gary possesses the unique ability to combine the experiential power and dynamic images of the living sky with classic horoscopy and metaphysics — an alchemical blend of bleeding-edge modern research and pioneering technique. You can catch Gary online via the popular Hermetic Astrology Podcast, or live on one of his frequent lecture tours across the U.S. and abroad.

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Toward a Multi-Dimensional View of Mercury Retrograde

By Gary P. Caton | May 4, 2015

 “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”

C.G. Jung  (1)

It has become common for modern astrologers to think of Mercury retrograde in terms of “shadow.” The basic idea seems to be that there are two areas or zones of shadow, one before and one after actual retrograde motion. When in these zones, even though Mercury is traveling direct, we are still (at least potentially) subject to retrograde kinds of experiences. So weeks before the retrograde, after Mercury passes the degree of its eventual station direct, Mercury enters a zone of sky that is eventually crossed three times, and it doesn’t leave this zone for weeks after turning direct — until passing the degree of the initial station retrograde.

However, when we consider not just the motion but also the speed of Mercury, it seems these zones before and after the retrograde could be better described as slow zones. So we can imagine that when Mercury comes to the station degree, we are experiencing a sort of “cosmic speed bump,”  alerting us that we are in a new kind of zone where new rules and/or codes of conduct may apply, similar to when passing through a school or construction zone while driving.

Nevertheless, even when adding the dimension and nuance of speed, I find this view of Mercury retrograde still wanting. Although taking responsibility for the speed with which we navigate our lives should help to assuage some of the dualistic thinking that seems to accompany the commonly held view of Mercury retrograde (direct = good, retrograde = bad), it remains in my eyes a relatively impoverished view. This is because it is taking into account only two dimensions, those of zodiacal longitude and time/speed. And yet, we live in (at least) three dimensions, don’t we?

Rather than thinking of Mercury retrograde in terms of “shadow,” I feel it is more productive to think of it in terms of light, that is, in terms of the visible apparition of Mercury. When we add the dimension of elongation and altitude, we have a truly multi-dimensional perspective that is less likely to become polarized into dualistic roles. To do this, we must look up from our flat 2D charts and into the third dimension of sky. Doing so, one becomes like a former resident of Plato’s cave, in that what was once perceived as mere shadow is now experienced as light. Ironically, while Mercury is traveling within the modern conception of the shadow zones, he is actually making his highest and brightest appearances in the sky — not only visible to the naked eye, but also brighter than most first-magnitude stars (which is pretty dang bright).

Photo: Mercury at the previous greatest elongation, rising bright as morning star on February 24, 2015 and reflected in the ocean at the inaugural Sky Astrology Conference. (2)

Generally speaking, as Mercury gets furthest from the Sun, he appears higher and brighter in the sky.  Astronomers call the points where Mercury reaches furthest distance from the Sun “greatest elongation,” and if you want to actually observe Mercury in the sky, you need to know how to track these times. Unfortunately, they do not appear in any of our modern astrological ephemerides. However, in Volume I of Hermetica Triptycha, my forthcoming series on Mercury, there are 125 years of these alignments arranged into tables categorized by element, sign, degree, and nearby stars. (3)

A few years ago, I discovered a profound mystery contained within the Mercury visible cycle. Zodiacally speaking, the retrograde is a process of Mercury “switching sides” with the Sun. What this means visually is that Mercury “switches skies” and appears both as evening star and morning star within the single retrograde period. Extending this into the so-called shadow periods (before and after the stations), we find that Mercury makes three alignments with the Sun, two visible elongations and one invisible inferior conjunction. Despite being very different in terms of visible phenomenon, mysteriously, all three of these Sun-Mercury events happen within a few degrees of zodiacal longitude.

 

Some readers will know that there are many variables within Mercury’s orbit. For example, as the late great Robert Blaschke taught, there are actually three different types of retrogrades according to their duration, i.e., short, medium, and long. (4) And yet despite significant differences from one retrograde period to another, the alignments of the two greatest elongations and the inferior conjunction always happen near the same degrees. This is the single constant or fixed element within the cycle of Mercury. It would therefore seem as if these particular thrice-crossed degrees are ones to which we should be paying special attention.

My observations as a mundane astrologer over the last several years have borne out this idea. When Mercury made these three alignments (e.g., the two greatest elongations and the inferior conjunction) in degrees that are sensitive in some way, we have seen increased volatility. For instance, Mercury’s greatest elongations and inferior conjunction occurred near the winter solstice point in late 2010 as the Tunisian Revolution sparked off what became known as the Arab Spring. (See table) And when the Mercurial triple alignments crossed the vernal point in 2012, we saw a coup d’etat in Mali. (See table)

Last year the Mercurial triple-alignments crossed the summer solstice point. On June 29, 2014, we saw the extremist organization, ISIL, proclaim a Worldwide Caliphate or Islamic state. (See table)

Mercury is about to make the triple-alignments with the Sun in the degree of the Royal star Aldebaran (10º Gemini). My suspicion is that we are moving into another of these zones of major volatility or special significance. Just as there is a mundane cross formed by the equinoxes and solstices, there is a celestial cross formed by four very bright stars known as the Royal Stars of Persia. Two bright red stars, Aldebaran and Antares, lie opposite each other and these form a celestial cross with another opposition of two bright blue stars, Fomalhaut and Regulus. At one time this heavenly cross aligned with the mundane cross, and so these stars became associated with the cardinal directions. In this format, Aldebaran was known as “watcher of the east,” when it presided over the vernal equinox.

Depending on the “orb” of influence, or what time value we might wish to associate with these triple-alignments, we might see the developments in Baltimore around the Freddie Gray homicide as being related to these upcoming triple-alignments of Mercury with Aldebaran. Bernadette Brady says this star is about integrity. (5) One current issue seems to be the integrity of hyper-militarized police forces on a national level; deaths of people of color by police have become a huge issue over the last year. Gray was arrested on April 12 — with Mercury past the superior conjunction to the Sun in Aries — and died April 19, 2015 from his injuries.

This example makes me wonder if the thrice-crossed degrees of the maximum elongations and inferior conjunction could possibly become activated as early as the previous superior conjunction and remain active as late as the following superior conjunction. In any event, with Mercury in Gemini, we do now seem to be within the range of influence of these degrees and the star Aldebaran (10º Gemini).

After weeks of protests and unrest, on May 1, Gray’s arrest was ruled illegal and his death declared a homicide, and Baltimore’s chief prosecutor charged six police officers with a range of crimes including murder and manslaughter. (6) Perhaps if Freddie Gray can get justice, his death may serve a larger purpose and we can finally begin a trend toward more police accountability in our country.

If you would like to know more about these triple alignments, and how to track them and use them for personal growth and transformation, please click the link in my publisher’s website and sign up for my mailing list, which will also keep you apprised of the release of my book.

References and recommended reading:

(1) C.G. Jung, “Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious,” (R. F. C. Hull, translator). Contained in The Collected Works of C.G. Jung (vol. 9 pt. 1), H. Read et al. (Series Editors), Princeton University Press, 1969.
(Jung is referencing the anima archetype, or the unconscious magical inner feminine aspect within a man, which at first appears to him as merely chaotic.)

(2) For more info about this pioneering event, please see Dream Astrologer.

(3) Volume I is expected out this summer, published by Rubedo Press.

(4) Mercury in Taurus Recurring Cycle for Goldman Sachs Financial Crises by Robert Blaschke

(5) Visual Astrology Newsletter

(6) NY Times

Bio: Gary P Caton is an eclectic astrologer who embraces an organic, process-oriented approach to spiritual growth and transformation via engagement with the living sky. In 1993, after an intensive exploration of shamanism and tarot, Gary was initiated into the astrological sciences by a dream that revealed the Sun-Venus cazimi. In 2002, Caton received a Bachelor in Counseling Psychology from Old Dominion University, and over the past 20 years he has developed a unique multidisciplinary astrological practice. Visit Gary at his website: Dream Astrologer

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Where is Russia Headed?

By Gary P. Caton | April 28, 2014

Due to the presence of the t-square between Jupiter, Uranus, and Pluto, astrologers had been worrying about the 2014 chart of the Aries Ingress for some time, long before the calendar year began. On March 3, 2014, Robert Hand gave form to these concerns by noting the correspondence of the angularity of these planets at the time of the Ingress, and the geographical regions where socio-political unrest was already brewing. At the time of the Ingress, Jupiter and Pluto were rising and setting near Washington, and on the MC and IC near Kiev, and Uranus was setting over Moscow. In summary, Hand wrote: “this coinciding of Jupiter-Pluto lines with both Washington and Kiev links the two places and, since Uranus is involved as well, makes the entire t-square active in both regions.” (1) Now, with retrograde Mars having joined the trio, and the Cardinal Grand Cross event behind us, we are left to wonder what exactly will become of the escalating tensions between these countries. A full-scale military confrontation is the worst-case scenario; the main question on many people’s minds is whether Russia will invade Ukraine any time soon.

I use a chart for Russia similar to one used by Adrian Ross Duncan, but set for December 25, 1991 at 7:35 p.m., the moment the CIA tells us the new flag was raised over the Kremlin in Moscow. (2) The following chart shows this horoscope on the inner wheel with transits for April 25, 2014 on the outside.

Inner wheel: Dec. 25, 1991; 7:35 p.m.; Moscow, Russia
Outer wheel: transits April 25, 2014

We can see that the April 25 superior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun at 5° Taurus occurred right near the MC of this chart — and in a very close square to Saturn at 5° Aquarius. This time frame also correlates to a complete breakdown in diplomatic communications between the U.S. and Russia, as well as a decision by the G7 countries to pursue more sanctions against Russian interests. (3) Since the MC symbolizes leaders and national reputation and the 7th house is both business partners and “open enemies,” it appears, from the quick moving trigger of the superior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun, that this chart for Russia so far works well.

Since my last blog for TMA was about the roles of Mercury and Pallas Athene in the Cardinal Grand Cross, it didn’t escape my attention that Pallas stationed direct at 25° Leo on April 7, in conjunction to the Ascendant of this chart for Russia. (4) I find it extremely symbolically apropos that we have a supposedly “minor” astrological archetype associated with the strategic aspects of war (asteroid Pallas Athene) activating the Ascendant of the Russian chart at the same time that they are involved in a series of highly complex machinations regarding the seemingly “minor” country of Ukraine. Some see Ukraine as a pawn in the “New Great Game” — a competition between the U.S. and NATO against Russia for influence in central Asia. (5) It is precisely the complex nature of such a political chess game that makes some see it unlikely for Russia to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. (6) It may be that all this bluster from Russia is simply a blocking and/or a delaying tactic designed to keep the scheduled elections for May 25 from happening and thus continuing to deny legitimacy to the Ukraine government in Kiev. (7)

On that note it is interesting to consider another seemingly minor astrological factor that is creeping into a stationary conjunction with the Leo Ascendant for this chart of Russia. On April 27 the True Black Moon Lilith will station retrograde at 22° Leo. Since the chart we are using for Russia contains a conjunction between the Sun and the True Black Moon, this may not be a minor factor at all, and may go a long way toward explaining what is going on here. Kelley Hunter describes Black Moon Lilith as “an emotional intelligence informed by the wisdom of earthy instinct.” (8) It seems that Putin views the expansion of NATO into former Warsaw Pact nations as a broken promise, and is determined that it will proceed no further. (9)

In the short term, the final thing to note is one other station. The direct station of Mars, at 9° Libra on May 19, is very closely square to the Nodes in this Russian chart, at the South Bending. This could represent a re-connection with one’s deep ancestral roots, making this a very formative time in the evolution of this country. However, as it is the point where the Moon dives its deepest below the ecliptic, the South Bending is not strongly indicative of major outward manifestations. In my view, transit Mars stationing direct at the South Bending does not portend a major military event, such as an invasion.

In the long term, as Uranus forms the opening square to the Uranus-Neptune conjunction of the national chart, we definitely see a nation at an important crossroads. It seems to some that perhaps Putin feels Russia needs to break free of identities imposed from the outside, to find its own true identity and move toward a Eurasian Union. (10) But since illusory Neptune is transiting the 8th house and the midpoint between the natal Sun/Black Moon Lilith/North Node conjunction and the MC, we may not be able to pin down the ideology that is behind these radical movements for some time to come.

References & recommended reading:

(1) Robert Hand’s public Facebook page

(2) World of Wisdom
and
“On Christmas Day 1991, at 7:35 p.m., the Soviet flag flying over the Kremlin was lowered and replaced by the new Russian banner.”
CIA Library

(3) The Daily Beast
and
Washington Post

(4) The Roles of Pallas Athene and Mercury in the Cardinal Grand Cross by Gary P. Caton

(5) Business Week
and
Wikipedia: The New Great Game

(6) Slate

(7) BBC

(8) The Dark Goddess Lilith by M. Kelly Hunter

(9) NY Times

(10) Foreign Affairs

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 24 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 20 years. Visit Gary at his website: Dream Astrologer

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The Roles of Pallas Athene and Mercury in the Cardinal Grand Cross

By Gary P. Caton | March 31, 2014

“Be realistic, demand the impossible.”

Anonymous graffiti, Paris, May 1968 (1)

April 21, 2014 will be the fifth of seven squares between Uranus and Pluto during the current decade. Because Mars and Jupiter are joining the action and creating a “cardinal grand cross,” a lot of people in the astrology world seem to think that this square (i.e., the fifth in the series) is going to be different, perhaps more like what we were expecting — a return of the widespread revolutionary fervor of the 1960s. I happen to agree, but for different, additional reasons.

Chart: April 21, 2014, Washington, D.C., 2:15:28 p.m.  Geocentric, tropical, whole sign houses

The first reason I see this square as potentially more active than the first four is that the asteroid Pallas Athene has recently stationed near the far midpoint of Uranus-Pluto. I wrote an article for the print edition of TMA in 2012 about the historical impact of this asteroid stationing on each side of the separating Uranus-Pluto conjunction in the cultural revolutions of May 1968, in France and elsewhere around the world. (2) It seems obvious to this astrologer that the nature of this asteroid had a re-vivifying effect upon this conjunction that was beginning to separate significantly. In a word, the nature of Pallas Athene is hot — in the sense of the Aristotelian qualities.

Because of this hot or active nature, I believe that Pallas can be seen as an octave transformer between Mercury, Jupiter, and Uranus. Also, all these archetypes are associated with somewhat unbounded mental creative principles, so we could say that these four bodies constitute a sort of “archetypal complex.” Since Air is a volatile, yang element, the phenomenology of the experiences related to all these archetypes is likely to be characterized by the experience of release, creative breakthrough, and unexpected emergence into new possibilities. We can see in the horoscope for the fifth Uranus-Pluto square (above), that Pallas Athene is making a trine to Mercury, a semisquare to Jupiter, and a sesquisquare to Uranus. So these archetypally-related bodies are also related via aspect. This chart appears to have the potential for a tremendous release of pent-up mental or social energy.

Along with the connection between Pallas Athene and Uranus-Pluto, there is another interesting tie to the year 1968 that is active throughout 2014. This is related to a phenomenon I call the Mercury Elemental Year. All three of the Mercury retrogrades in 2014 will happen in Air signs, just as they did in 1968. Furthermore, because it has been 46 years, Mercury will trace almost exactly the same path through the sky as in 1968. (3) Every single Mercury synodic event — be it his stations, conjunctions with the Sun, or elongations — will happen within a degree of where it did in 1968.

The preceding tables are from a 51-page report I compiled in the winter of 2012. This e-book report contains 125 years of ephemerides for the Mercury Elemental Year, along with theory and instructions on how to use these cycles for personal transformation. (The report is for sale via my website for ten dollars.) (4)

The basic idea is that since, each year, Mercury spends about as much time in one single Elemental triplicity as the other three elements combined, this single element represents themes that reverberate and echo most deeply throughout the collective discourse. Thus, this year, the most profound themes communicated socially will be Airy ones. In addition, we have a series of aspects between three or four Airy planets in the chart for the fifth Uranus-Pluto square. So, what can we expect all this Airy energy to look like?

First, let’s go back a few years to see how this pattern has played out recently. Just before the first exact Uranus-Pluto square, we were under a Mercury Elemental Year of Fire, and within one day of an inferior conjunction of Mercury Rx, with the Sun at 29° Sagittarius, a street vendor in Tunisia practiced self immolation, setting himself on fire in protest and beginning what became known as the Arab Spring.

In late 2012, as the Mercury Elemental Year was about to move into Water, I wrote a blog for TMA suggesting that in 2013 a protest movement could gain the kind of mass cohesion (water) we saw via the Summer of Love movement in 1967, 46 years earlier. (5) Sure enough, in Brazil that year, we saw a mass movement, with not just hundreds of thousands but millions of people taking to the streets; there were an estimated one million people out in the streets of various cities on June 20 alone. (6) These were not only the biggest, but also the most successful protests — from the point of view of the protesters — thus far in the current Epoch of Revolution, with many protester demands being met by the government. (7)

So now we have a worldwide protest movement that is maturing and gaining cohesion. It is time for the protesters to get smart and use what they have learned. Looking back, we can see that the May 1968 movement in France was in large part an intellectual revolution, as it was inspired by the artistic sensibilities of groups like the Situationists. (8) An important event leading up to May 1968 was the Strasbourg scandal. (9) A group of students managed to use public funds to publish a pamphlet, which circulated thousands of copies and helped to make the Situationists well known throughout the non-communist left. (10) Although it is thought that some of the core revolutionary events of 1968 may have been the brainchildren of as few as one or two dozen people,  ultimately the general strike would involve 11 million — more than 20% of the population of France. (11) (12)

In 2014 we have another chance to see a repeat of the energy of the fabled 1960s. Just like the Mercury Elemental Year of Water in 2013 helped to bring and hold millions of people together in Brazil, the Mercury Elemental Year of Air should find the People united and activated around powerful ideas. The alchemical symbol for Air involves an upward-pointing triangle, symbolizing volatility. As a yang or masculine element, it is the nature of air to move up and out. And the lessons of Mercury and Pallas seem clear — small planets and small people matter. Sometimes they seem to make all the difference.

References & Recommended reading:

(1) Books.google

(2) “The Synergy of Pallas Athene with Uranus-Pluto,” TMA June/July 2012 issue. Online readers can find a link to the article here.

(3) Mercury synodic events (Stations, Maximum Elongations from and Conjunctions with the Sun) recur near or in the same zodiacal degree every 46, 79, or 125 years.
MAA.org
The planetary synodic periods were well known to Mesopotamian astrologers and indeed made possible the birth of ephemerides and horoscopic astrology. Later, Ptolemy used them in his Almagest. The modern astrologers Ruperti, Munkasey, and Blaschke have done in-depth research on these cycles.

Alexander Ruperti, Cycles of Becoming: The Planetary Pattern of Growth. Previously published in 1978 by CRCS Vancouver, WA. Re-published 2005 by EarthWalk School of Astrology Publishing, Port Townsend, WA.
Michael Munkasey, “Station Cycles” — an as yet unpublished research article shared with interested members of the community.
Robert P. Blaschke, Astrology: A Language of Life: Volume 5 – Holographic Transits, EarthWalk School of Astrology Publishing, Port Townsend, WA, 2006.

(4) Dream Astrologer

(5) The Mercury Elemental Year 2013

(6) Wikipedia and Reuters

(7) Wikipedia

(8) Wikipedia

(9) Wikipedia

(10) Library Nothingness

(11) Wikipedia

(12) Wikipedia

Bio: Gary P. Caton is an eclectic Astrologer who embraces an organic process-oriented approach of spiritual exploration, personal growth, and transformation via the Living Sky. Gary has studied and practiced Spirituality for over 24 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 Astrology practice over the last 20 years. Visit Gary at his website Dream Astrologer

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The 2014 Conjunction of the Sun and Venus in Capricorn

By Gary P. Caton | January 6, 2014

“Chronos is time at her worst. …Chronos is the world’s time.
Kairos is time at her best. …Kairos is Spirit’s time.
We exist in Chronos. We long for Kairos. That’s our duality.”
Sarah Ban Breathnach (1)

In the course of the 19-month visual (or synodic) cycle of Venus with the Sun, Venus makes two conjunctions with the Sun. The conjunction of Venus with the Sun while Venus is in retrograde motion is known as the interior, or inferior, conjunction, as Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun. The conjunction of Venus with the Sun while Venus is in direct motion is known as the exterior, or superior, conjunction, as Venus passes on the other side of the Sun from the Earth. These two conjunctions happen about nine-and-a-half months apart.

The charts for these conjunctions are quite revealing when applied to a personal horoscope. The natal sign and house where any transit Sun-Venus conjunction occurs is often a clear focus of Venusian activity for the subsequent nine months. I have also found that when a transit Sun-Venus conjunction conjoins a natal planet, the nature of the person’s experience of that planet undergoes a profound shift. Finally, I’ve noticed that it is valuable to look at the whole chart of the conjunction to discern the contributions from the rest of the planetary pantheon on the conjunction itself.

Rather than a fleeting transit of a day or two in duration, when viewed through a synodic lens the influence of this Sun-Venus conjunction can be seen to last for nine months, until the next conjunction of the Sun and Venus. In this way, the Sun-Venus conjunction chart also functions as a mundane forecasting tool. For instance, in my blog for TMA last April, I diagnosed the chart of the Sun-Venus-Uranus conjunction in Aries to be largely about polarity, showing the need for “devils to tear down the ivory tower of Plutocracy, but also to rebuild a new world.” I also pointed out that the two yods in the chart for the conjunction were the most significant features. (2) A few months later, along comes Edward Snowden, a young man to whom these “fingers of God” were clearly pointing, with their apex points being conjunct his Ascendant and Moon.

So what do the next nine months have in store for us, in terms of the awareness (Sun) of Venusian qualities, like our ethics, aesthetics, and social ties? Or, as Alexander Ruperti wrote, what does this chart tell us about the necessary examination of “the cost of ones desires and all previously assumed values” that it portends? (3) Here is the chart of the Sun-Venus conjunction of January 11, 2014 (drawn below for the U.S. capital).

With the Sun-Venus conjunction rising over Washington D.C., I believe this indicates that our nation needs to do the soul searching and self-examination that Ruperti tells us is the real gift of this alignment. This is not a big surprise, given the shock waves of the massive spying efforts that were revealed under the previous conjunction. Still, it is a hopeful sign that the evaluation of “the cost of ones desires and all previously assumed values” may actually happen.

What will this examination/evaluation look like? The other notable aspects in this chart are a very close sextile of an 11th-house Saturn to Sun-Venus-ASC and a very close square of Vesta in the 10th to Sun-Venus-ASC. Let’s take a look at these separately and then see what they may mean together.

In a mundane chart, the 11th house is primarily about Congress and legislation. By extension, it also represents friends of the nation, i.e., other nations with which Congress forms treaties. Deborah Houlding says that Saturn in a mundane chart represents “public sorrow and disappointment.” (4) Again, there are no surprises here, as Congressional approval has recently hit all-time lows, plummeting into the single digits. (5) However, Saturn is also traditionally associated with elders and authority figures, so Saturn in the 11th could signify congressional leaders and/or the leaders of foreign countries whom we consider our allies. Being a sextile, this could suggest that pressure (Saturn) from Congress and/or foreign dignitaries (11th) could be helpful in producing tangible action and results.

Saturn in the 11th sextile the Ascendant could also signify historic legislation. On my public Facebook page for my Goddess Astrology podcast, I recently mentioned that Venus stationed retrograde on the day of the winter solstice. (6) The last time Venus did this was in 1762. The following year saw the Treaty of Paris, signed on February 10, 1763, just after Venus stationed direct on February 1. This was a major international treaty that not only ended the French and Indian/Seven Years War but saw France cede Canada (New France) to Great Britain. Possible correlates in the current Gestalt are the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as perhaps a ground-breaking treaty putting limits on new technologies, such as drones, spying, and data-mining.

In this chart Saturn is actually the helpful news, with the challenge being the square to Saturn from Vesta, Goddess of the sacred flame. Vesta represents the principles of focus and sacred-making. In the Thema Mundi, the square is given the nature of Mars, that is to say, separative or “dry,” in the Aristotelian sense of the word. (7) So, the square from Vesta represents a challenge to separate the wheat from the chaff and bring into focus that which really matters, that which is essential to life. Remember, the shelf life of this chart is only nine months, and only so much can be accomplished in that time. What is most important? Will we deal with the real issues and make them a priority or continue to be distracted by the “sacred cows” of various minority groups?

On a personal level, I think the challenge this conjunction brings for each of us over the next nine months is to find a way to experience Sacred (Vesta) Time (Saturn). Kairos is the Greek word for the concept of sacred time. While Chronos is quantitative, the sense of how much time we have, Kairos is qualitative, the sense of a sacred or special experience of time. Simply put, Kairos is quality time. So this chart begs each of us to examine the question: when, how, where, and how much are we “doing time” in our lives versus experiencing quality time? If there is an imbalance, it is our responsibility to reduce the excessive and increase the deficient. If we can first hold the tension of these opposites without being reactive, we can gradually bring them together over the next nine months. Like the master in Verse 77 of the Tao, we can thus “string the bow of our lives.” (8) By bringing our lives into accord with the Way of Heaven, we can make them capable of great things.

This may sound very idealistic, but a big part of my practice involves providing people with the practical tools to manifest the ideal into reality. One of these tools is the free Goddess Astrology Podcast. (9) On the next show, I’ll be talking quite a bit more about this Sun-Venus conjunction chart from a personal standpoint. Judging from the reviews on iTunes, many people find it quite helpful. TMA readers are invited to tune in for free! Also, I provide my subscribers with many more tools, including monthly special reports and extended podcasts on the progress of the Venus cycle via the lunar conjunctions. These reports provide astronomical, mythological, and sociological metaphors with which to understand the current alignments, as well as journaling questions designed to provoke insight into how the processes are manifesting in your life. (10) No matter how one may decide to personally engage with it, my experience has shown me that many people find great value in, and transformative experience through, following the Sun-Venus cycle. May the next nine months provide the sincere seeker with the experience of Kairos and all the quality time they deserve!

References:
(1) Goodreads

(2) The Conjunction of the Sun, Venus and Uranus in Aries

(3) Alexander Ruperti, Cycles of Becoming: The Planetary Pattern of Growth. Previously published in 1978 by CRCS, Vancouver, WA. Re-published in 2005 by EarthWalk School of Astrology Publishing, Port Townsend, WA

(4) Skyscript

(5) Gallup

(6) Goddess Astrology

(7) Wikipedia

(8) Wayist.org

(9) listen via iTunes Goddess Astrology

(10) Interested readers can check out all the reports and podcasts for the previous nine-month cycle at the link below to see if a subscription may be of interest. Venus Aries ES 2013

Recommended Reading:

Robert P. Blaschke, Astrology: A Language of Life: Volume 5 – Holographic Transits, EarthWalk School of Astrology Publishing, Port Townsend, WA, 2006.

Arielle Guttman, Venus Star Rising: A New Cosmology for the 21st Century, Sophia Venus Productions, Sante Fe, NM, 2010.

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 24 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 20 years. Visit Gary at his website Dream Astrologer

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The Uranus-Pluto Squares: Serving the Needs of an Epoch

By Gary P. Caton | September 16, 2013

“The essential task of astrologers should be to
interpret human life in terms of the needs of the epoch.”
 – Alexander Ruperti (1)

In my last post on TMA’s blog, I predicted “the triggers for the Syrian crisis could very likely be transiting Sun, Mercury, and/or Mars to the charts of Obama and/or the July 4, 1776 charts. One time in particular to watch will be the period around September 12, as Mercury moves ahead of the Sun by 15 degrees. Hellenistic astrologers called this ‘phasis,’ or an appearance, as Mercury returns to visibility around this time.” (1) On September 9, just a few days before Mercury’s official appearance, a perspicacious remark by a news reporter (Mercury) changed everything about the direction of the Syrian crisis, turning it from an imminent military strike into a diplomatic discussion. (2) This change in direction happened as Mercury crossed 0° Libra, the autumnal equinox point, part of the World, or Mundane, axis. The tropical zodiac is based on the seasonal “turning points” of the equinoxes and solstices. “Tropical” probably derives from the Greek word tropos, meaning to spin or turn. Because the cardinal points mark the places of the turning of the seasons, world events often seem to turn in accord with planets crossing these foundational places in the tropical zodiac. For instance, the Fukushima nuclear disaster happened in March 2011 as Mercury crossed the vernal point (i.e., 0° Aries) in conjunction with transiting Uranus.
 
Chart: bi-wheel: U.S. chart, July 4, 1776, sunrise and transits for September 9, 2013
(The Uranus-Pluto conjunction at 16° Virgo on June 30, 1966 is also noted.)

In the transit chart for September 9 (outer wheel), we see the Sun crossing the degrees of the most recent Uranus-Pluto conjunctions, which were in 1965-1966 at 17°-18° Virgo. This signifies world leaders (Sun) being forced to confront some of the collective issues of our times (Uranus-Pluto). We can also see that transit Mercury is square natal Venus in the chart of the U.S. cast for July 4, 1776 (sunrise). Venus symbolizes diplomacy in a mundane chart and the U.S. natal Venus at 2° Cancer is also on the cardinal or World axis. Transit Venus is in her own sign of Libra, thereby transferring some of her natural dignity to Mercury upon his ingress into Libra (a concept known as co-presence in Hellenistic astrology). Although it is more than any of us may have expected, or even hoped for, the significations for this event are therefore clearly stated in the transits to the July 4, 1776 chart.
 
Also, since transiting Mercury is 13° ahead of the transit Sun, Mercury is approaching a crucial turning point in its cycle. In Hellenistic astrology, if a planet will make the 15° separation from the Sun within a week, it is considered to be in “phasis,” or making an appearance, and the chart is seen to be saturated with the significations of that planet. Both the July 4, 1776 chart for the U.S. and the chart for September 9, 2013 meet these requirements: Mercury was 15° from the Sun on July 1, 1776 and on September 12, 2013 – both less than seven days from the events of the Declaration of Independence and the turning point in the Syrian crisis. Therefore, Mercury has overwhelmed and saturated an issue that had previously been considered only a Mars matter (a military strike as the only option) with Mercury’s signification of communication.

This coming together via communication is also a signification of what I call the Mercury Elemental Year of Water. (4) Because all three Mercury retrogrades are happening in water signs this year, Mercury spends much more time in water signs than the other signs. One of the primary qualities of water is moistness and cohesiveness. This also happens to be true of the year 1776. Both years represented opportunities for messages and messengers to find new levels of cohesion.
 

Furthermore, with the most recent Uranus-Pluto conjunctions moving from Aries (1850-1851) to Virgo (1965-1966), we can see that the choice of communication over belligerence is clearly in alignment with the needs of our epoch. The day after Mercury reached 15° of separation from the Sun, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reached agreement on a framework for Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons. (5)

I use a chart for Russia similar to the one used by Adrian Ross Duncan (6), for December 25, 1991 at 7:32 p.m., the moment the new flag was raised over the Kremlin in Moscow. (7) The following chart shows this horoscope for the “new” Russia on the inside; the July 4, 1776 chart for the U.S. next; the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunctions in the third ring, and finally, in the outer ring, the transits for September 14, 2013, the day of the proposal agreement.
 
Chart: Inner: “new” Russia; 2nd: U.S. July 4, 1776; 3rd: Uranus-Pluto conjunction; outer: transits for September 14, 2013.

We can see in the outer wheel that transiting Mercury in Libra, still in “phasis,” or in the process of making a dramatic appearance out from under the Sun’s beams, is also in a t-square with the epochal Uranus-Pluto squares. This transit t-square is also in alignment with the nodal axis of the horoscope for Russia. Russia’s nodes are located at 9° Capricorn/Cancer; Mercury in the transit chart for the agreement is at the South Bending of Russia’s natal nodal axis. Perhaps this means we are finally leaving behind the belligerence of the previous epoch — the period between the Uranus-Pluto conjunctions in Aries/1850-1851 and Virgo/1965-1966) — which saw two World Wars. Another hopeful sign that this may be true is the Venus/North Node/Saturn conjunction in Scorpio happening at the North Bending of the U.S. natal nodal axis at 6° Leo/Aquarius. Perhaps we’re seeing a defining moment of a new direction for the U.S. I have often said that alignments with/to the nodes represent opportunities for us to “renegotiate our sacred contracts.” (8)

Please, make no mistake, this author is far from naïve or unaware of the many hidden undercurrents and possibilities this alignment in Scorpio represents. There are numerous reasons to believe that this agreement may not be what it appears to be; the real issue here may have more to do with U.S. and Russian interests regarding oil and/or the dollar as the default currency for oil sales, aka the “petrodollar.” (9) Recently I have stated in at least two different public forums that I’m afraid political issues often serve as a veil that keeps us from seeing the incredibly simple and profound primary need of our epoch.

The Uranus-Pluto conjunctions in Virgo in 1965-1966 were the first conjunctions of this pair not to occur in fire signs for more than 700 years. (10) Shortly after this long reign of fire was ended by conjunctions in an earth sign, we humans saw the entire Earth from space for the first time. (11) The first photograph of a “full” Earth, known as the “Blue Marble Shot,” which became the inspiration for Earth Day, holds the secret to the most fundamental — dare I say elemental — need of our epoch. Virgo is the sign of proper stewardship of resources and of efficiency, order, and cleanliness being next to godliness. The gross excesses of the fiery Industrial Age must now be controlled and cleaned up if we are to have any hope of living harmoniously in alignment with the needs of our epoch and our planet.

In fact, when you look at the entire cycle of the Uranus-Pluto conjunctions through the four elements, an interesting economic pattern emerges. The last time the conjunctions occurred in earth signs (approximately 800 BC to 181 BC), as they are now, was when coinage of precious metals became the dominant currency. Copper, silver, and gold formed three tiers of coins for common, business, and state transactions. This system lasted through the air period that followed (from 181 BC to 582 AD). Many of the economic innovations that define our modern economy were introduced in the medieval Islamic world between the 7th and 12th centuries AD. (12) This period was defined by Uranus-Pluto conjunctions in water signs (from 582-1201 AD). It wasn’t until the 17th century that paper money entered Europe during the fire period (from 1343 until 1965).
 
After the earth conjunctions began in 1965, the U.S. abandoned the gold standard, which tied its currency to precious metal deposits, and instead negotiated an alliance via Saudi Arabia where the U.S. dollar would be tied to oil. Enter the petrodollar. Of course, this is in alignment with the July 4, 1776 horoscope for the U.S., which has Neptune at 22° Virgo conjunct the previous Uranus-Pluto conjunctions. Although an economy based on the burning of fossil fuels is not in alignment with the epoch defined by conjunctions in earth signs, this author is hopeful that the U.S. will continue to take the first baby steps under these waxing Uranus-Pluto squares away from the belligerence, waste, and pollution of the previous fire period toward a more sustainable future defined by alternative energies and the power of the pen over the sword. Perhaps then the fruits of the current cycle, which we are destined to reap at the waning squares (2064–2065), will be somewhat less bitter than those of the previous waning square cycle (1932-1934).

References & Recommended reading:

(1) Bell, Lynn, “A Conversation with Alexander Ruperti,”
TMA Dec/Jan 1997/98 #76 –pg 34.

(2) The Uranus Pluto Squares: A Crisis in Action
 
(3) Mediaite

(4) The Mercury Elemental Year 2013
 
(5) Washington Post
 
(6) World of Wisdom
 
(7) NY Times
 
(8) Tuning into the Subtler Signals in the Sky
 
(9) See Eric Francis Coppolino’s excellent and well researched astro-reporting from the last two issues of Planet Waves.
Planet Waves
 
Planet Waves
 
(10) Jenkins, Palden
Astrological Cycles in History

Uranus-Pluto cycles and the storms of history
 
(11) The Atlantic

(12) Wikipedia
 
 
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 24 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 20 years. Visit Gary at his website Dream Astrologer

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