by Boots Hart, CAP

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hel in Pisces

 Casting the Damned into Hell (c. 1467)
by Hans Memling

What a title, right? Well, at least we’re all clear about what's going to be discussed, right?

Yes, asteroid Hel is entering Pisces. To be exact, asteroid Hel will enter Pisces at 9:04am (UT/+0) on March 31th.
We don’t talk most about Hel (though a good many of us could claim to reference it – ahem! – from time to time in ticked off conversation…) so maybe one good way to think about what this asteroid actually really means is to look back at what happened as Hel transited Aquarius – the sign immediately before Pisces.

Hel entered Aquarius on January 10, 2011. And since then we’ve had all manner of social (Aquarian) unrest and violence – some man-made and some simply as functions of our natural environment. All the Aquarian ‘biggies’ got touched on – national/civil economics, personal income, equality, elitism and tyranny (always an Aquarian hot-button!), exile, denigration of individuality, societal systems and – very much in the news – energy, the source of energy and the problems with sources of energy.

So now, Hel enters Pisces. And since Hel will go retrograde in Pisces come July…(and yes, the whole idea of Hel(l) going retrograde anywhere sounds vaguely disturbing)…and not come out of retrograde until October…and continue on through Pisces until February 2012…

…That means we have a good long stretch of Hel in Pisces to deal with.

Like a lot of “minor” asteroids (the astrological of major-versus-minor being probably best judged by  the experience of the beleaguered) Hel isn’t all that well studied. Yet, at least. So my first question when looking at its couple of months in Aquarius versus Hel’s many months-to-come in Pisces would be whether a shorter-term transit would be more intense because its shorter, or will we just all be in Pisces Hel/hell for that much longer?

That, we will have to see. But votes, contemplations and observations on the subject will be welcomed (if you care to tender them) in the months ahead.

Meanwhile, that Hel will reach 20 Pisces before going retrograde suggests an entire period (or process) of getting things to the point you can let go of them which fills our Hel’ish quotient for the next four months or so. Any third decan point (the third decanate being degrees 20 to 29 of any sign) signifies something we don’t control directly – it’s about something which comes to us. It could be a response to something we have done or purposefully created…or it could be merely an incident we then cope with, react to or respond to.

In the case of Hel, one supposes the issue will either be difficult (aaaugh! Opening this pickle jar is Hel’ish!)…or it could be a perfectly wonderful solution to a Hel’ish situation.

Then again, it could be facing our personal Hel – especially when this asteroid will be in retrograde during July, August, September and October.

The whole notion of Hel in Pisces is probably where we should focus first, however. When Hel transited Aquarius, the issues were social and societal. We wondered what could go wrong next. We wondered whether anyone was going to ‘do something’ about whatever was our personal (or global sense of) Hel. The idea of it was problematic, troublesome – and systemic.

So in this shift from Aquarius to Pisces, we need to consider that problems going forward will not be about the society per se, but regarding humanity. 

As we say that, it bears remembering that the up side of Pisces is to unify along the lines of our all being human. Or if you care to extend that, in the sense that all life is life and all life on Earth is at some level connected.

Yes, even right down to the much maligned cockroach. Not that I’m in distinctly in favor of them (shudder!) but there is something to be said for a critter which can survive extended exposure to radiation. Especially at this moment and in this time, such things do seem worthwhile to consider.

On a broader scale however, let us remember that Pisces is about anything and everything which causes us to get more in touch with our emotions and deal with the fact we have emotions – and every ancillary concept which leads to or from that concept. The two fish of the Pisces emblem swimming in different directions is very much a picture of (among other things) how we humans so dislike feeling our feelings. We wall them off, we’re into a thousand different kinds of escapism, we try to ‘choose’ which feelings we’re going to have.

The whole ‘think positive’ and ‘don’t feel bad’ thing is an expression of exactly this. To say one thing is positive and one is negative is a pre-defining of the value of something we can’t know the value of until it happens.

Remember that old saying the burned hand teaches best? Not that I wish anyone a burned hand, but the idea which underlies this and many other expressions – ideas like the addict must hit bottom before they will change…how little Johnny or Mary needs to fall down a few times just so they can learn how to get back up…

…in short, those who try to “eliminate” the plus and minus of deep emotions are assigning something negative to that they reject. And that rejection is in itself a reaction to feeling.

Pisces teaches that we need to accept. Thus all the barriers and walls – they’re all just an evasion of our own humanity. We think all is good because we try to remain upbeat? We’re kidding ourselves. Accepting that we have good and bad days is the human key. Lingering at, or attempting to abide in/at either extreme is the sign of imbalance – the rejection of the normal process of give and take, ebb and flow, plus and minus…

….the acceptance that life has rhythms. With day comes night. The difference between peace and disaster is not always in what happens…its often merely in our ability to accept what happens and deal with it.

And the difference between those ideas, the judging and accepting, the feeling and refusing to feel, the trying to have everything feel good and never deal with the norm? That’s the inherent challenge of Pisces, a sign which in having been called everything from “the garbage can of the zodiac” on down just proves what an incredibly hard time we human beings really have dealing with our feelings.

So with Hel in Pisces we can all assume that all sorts of situations are now going to arise which test our ability to accept realities – particularly at the emotional level. There is no ‘running away’ here; theoretically, the more you try to ‘wall yourself off’ or escape, the more you reject others or parts of your own life, the more you are likely to feel the Hel’ish assault.

It will find you because you do not accept that with existence comes the hard part. The ikky part. The challenging part. The sad part. Whatever it is which you’re not into, that’s what you’re going to feel challenged.

In short, the months ahead are likely to bring feelings of dread. Maybe threat. Maybe concern. Maybe sadness. You’ll want to ignore things, block them out, marginalize them or pretend they’re not an issue.

But they are. And the more they appear, the more you may well struggle.

For those who think it’s about ‘them’ – whether that’s a societal or personal ‘them’ – that’s the biggest thing of all to deal with.

Go wipe off the mirror and take a good look at those eyes – your eyes - staring back at you from that glass. Why things affect you…that’s the question now. Why you will or won’t allow things to be what they are…why you may lie or cover things up or deny…that’s the question now. Why you can’t accept that times change and people change and that we all make mistakes…that’s the thing to ask yourself why about.

 'Hortus Deliciarum' - a 12th century vision of Hell
by Herrard von Landsberg (c. 1180)

And remember…though there may be big changes which need to be made, transiting figures are also indications that changes can be made and that this is the time to make them.

Now…since I’m already ‘going to Hel’ here, a little  confession. Here and there I’ve posted sections of a big spread sheet I use to examine orbital patterns. That you may or may not have seen it isn’t the issue here – what I’m ‘confessing’ is that this is a work in progress. There are literally thousands of points, and as I begin writing about them I go and look up their orbital specifics and such and enter them in the table.

So it wasn’t until today that I looked up Hel. I did know it was a main belt asteroid – and as far as that goes, what with that ‘main belt’ arena being an area pretty much an area between Mars’ outer orbital distance from the Sun at 1.6 AUs (astronomical units) and Jupiter’s closest orbital distance (4.9 AUs), Hel is an object which orbits pretty much in the center of the belt: its aphelion (farthest point) is 2.99 AU and its perihelion (nearest point to the Sun) is 2.4 AU.

So this is a factor we meet up with in life on a ‘rotational’ (orbiting) basis. Those who have Hel prominently placed in their chart either deal with it centrally or embody Hel’ish qualities as part of what they manifest to others…and yes, endure themselves.

Hel was discovered by a fellow named Max Wolf working at Heidelberg. And the date of discovery was March 11, 1921.

The minute I saw that, I stopped – March 11th having obviously been the date of the earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan.

When discovered, Hel was at 20 Leo, and the only thing which jumps off that chart is how it’s in exact opposition to Eos (arising instinct) at 20 Aquarius. So we can say that asteroid Hel is actually meant to evoke reactions in us. Given the position is 20 Leo, we would deduce that the karmic purpose would be all about getting us to be creative and to be open to new ideas and new ways of coping. But clearly with Eos being the opposition here, there’s a real push/pull about what will be accepted and our instincts about whether something is possible or worth trying or even ‘dangerous’ to our reputation or place in this world.

And yet…and yet the Leo/Aquarius polarity lesson still stands: that which we will not attempt, the unwillingness to join the world and contribute to it and be accepted by it…that is what leads to our discomfitures and our deepest feelings of rejection. It’s not about ‘them’ – it’s about us.

Yes, we are different…we’re each and every one of us different. Leo/Aquarius asks us to be different and to find out how that ‘different-ness’ works. Where it ‘fits in’ and how to use it to best advantage to all, from which comes our compensation. Our reward.

Of course…thinking back through all we’ve just talked about, there is the fact that asteroid Hel now is set to move forward through Pisces to 20 Pisces – a perfect inconjunct with the discovery point, a perfect semi-sextile to where Eos stood when asteroid Hel was discovered.

There are two forms of the inconjunct. The first relates to a 150 degree separation and implies work and refining of the effort. The second has a 210 degree relationship and implies finding an answer which will prove emotionally satisfying to both sides. 

From where Hel was discovered to where it will go direct come July is the 210 degree type – so solutions going forward must provide a good answer for all sides of the equation. That so much of society seems so hell-bent on serving its own needs and beliefs at expense to others is exactly not what is required.

Then again, it may be exactly why Hel is entering Pisces, set to make this July turn to retrograde at a point which tests where it (and thus we) all come from – feeling-wise.

And that, considering Mercury having just turned to retrograde makes this a real moment of reflection.

Mercury went retrograde yesterday – March 30th (UT/+0) which means Hel enters Pisces in the station zone of Mercury’s retrograde with Mercury now in retrograde.

The implication is that we are concerned with things which have happened or which we’ve already done or committed to – with Hel’s entrance to Pisces being the ‘twist’ to the tale.

And yes, one hopes not our innards or any tear stained handkerchiefs, though that might be true too. There are all sorts of ways to ‘weight’ or rank who would feel what here, but with Mercury having gone retrograde at 24 Aries and Hel obviously entering Pisces at 0 Pisces, those whose charts are aspected by both points are most likely to feel this ‘transiting hit.’ Those with one or the other chart point important natally…some, but not as much.

But whatever happens remember – this is part of a greater cycle. Some is Mercurial, some is Hel’ish, some has to do with the greater shifts being marked now by Neptune finishing its transit of Aquarius, Uranus having just entered Aries…and most of all perhaps, the overarching shift from the Age of Pisces into the Age of Aquarius.

So set your clocks and mark your calendars: there is more Hel yet to come! And though I know in many of our lives asteroid Hel will seem like a brimstone fire, it’s to remember that like all other parts of life, it’s a lesson.

The real question is whether we are willing to learn that while to not try cripples us, to not learn better, to not take others into account, to think you ‘know’ better is in the end our personal Hel…if one we maybe force others to live with and pay for, which we then get Hel for in the end.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mercury Retrograde in Aries: Who Put the Why in our What?

Mercury in 'false' colors
photo credit: NASA/JPL - Caltech

Any time we see an astrological symbol do anything (or just wander by looking organic) in a degree between 20 and 29 of any given sign we know the indication is only person to the degree that things happen to us and we respond. Or we witness something and react. Or we are presented with a challenge or opportunity and decide what to do or not do, depending on many a factor (mayhaps including how Shakespearian we feel at the moment…!)

In this case, the symbol of the moment is Mercury – symbol of mentality, whether that’s in your head (as in, I was thinking….or maybe I should think this through, put a list together, organize my thoughts…) or in functional terms – whether that’s what the fern were they thinking? or the ever-so-not-popular act in haste, repent in leisure which is so the tale of not thinking things through before doing them!

So combine these ideas and the first thing we come up with is situations or moments where we are handed a project or asked a question or confronted with something which asks us to think…

and considering this is Aries, the “I Am” sign of doing, being and acting all brave and warrior-like, the advisability to think things through before committing to them, taking them on or even just reacting to them.

As for why we would be discussing all this, that would be because Mercury is going retrograde on March 30th at 10:49pm (UT/+0). (Were you wondering?) we arrive at this moment there surely will be  those among us just champing at the bit, ready to go. Or insisting this needs to be done right NOW!!! Then there are those who will get the order and, urgent or not, stop a moment to reflect…if I do this, then that means… 

One of the big dividers here is generally whether Mercury is retrograde or direct in your natal chart. The gung ho types are more likely to have Mercury direct in their natal chart. Why? Because a natal Mercury retrograde predisposes you to thinking things through anyway.

I know many a person who hears the words ‘Mercury retrograde’ and groans as if they’ve just been asked to scrub the pyramids spinky-spanky clean using nothing more than a toothbrush and coffee cup of suds. I know people with Mercury natally retrograde who when asked will say they have no idea what the big fuss about Mercury retrograde really is.

This leads to the obvious observation that it’s the difference between the motion of natal and transiting Mercury which really gets to us. Me, I have Mercury retrograde (which works well for writers and anyone else who needs to go back over their work!). So if Mercury is direct, it just means that if I want to put it out there, I can. And if Mercury’s in retrograde and it’s a time to sort, polish, re-think, clarify, ask questions – that’s no big deal in my world.

But for those who are born to do, go, see and operate in constant real time motion? Telling those people that it’s time to stop buzzing and chatting and time to reorganize and plan sounds like a really serious wet blanket.

So I get their Mercurial pain. Not that I can change anything, but I get the chomping at the bit thing. If only they could order their life to take advantage of Mercury retrograde! It does come along with fabulous regularity – why not plan for it? It’s not about turning your brain off, after all – it’s just not about trying to get something done. You can certainly do research. You can make plans. You can test things out. You just shouldn’t set anything in cement if that’s where you’re planning to end up.

Common astrological lore says don’t sign any contracts under Mercury retrograde. But I know astrologers who have clients who buy and sell real estate all the time under Mercury retrograde. My brother (bless his heart…!) tends to take jobs under Mercury retrograde.

And there really isn’t anything wrong with that unless you are planning on the current action being the “end of the line.” My brother seldom ends up in the actual position he initially takes; he gets hired, then they realize he’d really be better doing a slightly different position so he ends up doing that. When I heard of the real estate transactions I asked that astrologer what was going on and it turned out that the properties in question were ‘house flips’ – properties being bought, rehabilitated and sold in order to move on to a bigger house.

In each case, the transaction under Mercury retrograde was not the end of the line. And Mercury retrograde does support that…it’s the idea that something is in an interim situation and not finalized. 

To pair this with Aries seems easy…we’re in the middle of something and not entirely sure of all the details just yet. Or when (exactly) it will be done.

This would also be apt for those who are in the process of changing their life in some way. Are you moving? Are you in the middle of some ‘personal makeover’ – physical or not?

Mercury retrograde is about the process. It’s about moving through whatever that process is, whether it’s the beginning, middle or end of a process.

And if you have a planet or other vital chart position within 5 degrees of 24 Aries (either way)? Then pay attention to events, situations, ideas and communications of the moment; they may well be important to some ‘long run’ you may not even be focused on at the moment.

People who have charts emphasizing 19 to 29 Libra, Cancer or Capricorn are also in the Mercury bucket. Cancer and Capricorns are meeting up with challenges, those with Libra positions are making decisions and dealing with ‘what they put out there’ and whether or not they’re getting a good, useful, viable reaction.

Learning from whatever goes on is apt now. Though people whose charts place emphasis on degrees between 19 and 29 Leo and/or Sagittarius won’t quite feel as ‘confronted’ by Mercury’s going retrograde in Aries as (say…) someone with an affected Libra component might, trines can spell ‘inability to escape’ which with the Aries ‘I/me’ idea thrown in may well be some responsibility or obligation which you are thinking through and maybe not all that thrilled with.

Oh, changes, changes – things need changing!

Also in the hot seat would be those who have planets, nodes, or axis cusps positioned between 22 and 26 Virgo or Scorpio.

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But back to those Virgo/Scorpio folks. For you, there are adjustments to your efforts which at least need to be considered…if not enacted! On the Virgo side the question is effectiveness, functionality and efficiency. On the Scorpio side the question is whether you (or others) think things are actually ‘fair.’ Just because you do doesn’t mean they do – and vice versa!

Here, fair is only ‘fair’ if it feels fair. And to get at what feels fair, there needs to be a.) full disclosure and a leveling of the ‘entitlement playing field.’ For instance, if one side is working on/for/towards life’s basics (food, shelter, clothing, survival) and the other side thinks ‘basic’ is haute couture style, a life of privilege, mansions and a private suite in the hospital for a case of laryngitis, there’s going to be trouble.

And let’s not forget: Neptune is still at 29 Aquarius. So while one side is likely to think that there’s nothing wrong with having earned billions…that they’ve worked hard or are just lucky, and who should begrudge them that – if that’s going on in a world where people are literally without food or decent shelter or an opportunity to educate their children or any hope of bettering their life the justifications for why people should just ‘suck it up’ and accept their lot (or work harder or whatever)…

That’s so not going to work! Look around – everywhere you go the rich are getting richer and the poor are struggling to be heard. The old rule – that “golden” rule He Who Has the Gold Makes the Rule allows the rich to get not just richer, but more powerful.

And then comes a different rule: absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

Neptune at 29 Aquarius exacerbates the differences. And if you think things are out of line now, wait until Neptune gets into Pisces!

All this is important…why? Well, in part because it’s what’s going on in our world. From obvious matters like Libya and Japan we draw big long dotted lines to entire economic systems modeled on trying to keep up with costs at the top based on foreshortening the opportunities of the bottom

It’s the classic inverted pyramid – and as any dairy farmer can tell you, there’s only just so much cream available to rise to the top.

The reason to recall all this is because this Mercury retrograde, though centered in the highly ‘first personal personal’ sign of Aries is all about who we are in this world.

Or who we need to be.

Or how this world needs to change so that we even have – or get – a chance.

By the time Mercury gets to the other end of its retrograde come April 23rd it will be positioned at 12 Aries – a degree of personal emotionality. How will you feel about you? How will you (and your efforts) be being received?

When April 23rd arrives, such questions will be on the table. Saturn will be in exact opposition to Mercury’s station/direct (at 12 Libra) and for most of this date the Moon will be positioned at the mid-point in Capricorn. That it's been at 12 Libra since...oh, around April 15th (happy tax day, US people!)...that just reinforces the whole concept of how basic, how developmental, how we all need to be considering/reconsidering and revamping our goals, approaches, means and methodologies really are!

In fact…just as Mercury goes direct, the Moon will be sitting at 13 Capricorn.

Remember that degree? Yes! The degree of this past January’s Solar Eclipse – the eclipse which has served as the herald to all the sweeping changes which are now ongoing in our world.

The Moon at the midpoint of what amounts to a transiting t-square says we need to get ‘past’ our inability to be real. If not, we “bounce” back to Saturn and hit hard times and tough receptions. And yes, this may well be part of the message given by the New Moon of April 3rd being at 13 wee little astrological 'tick' of the degree past where Mercury will go direct. It sounds like the universe saying 'understand this and you can move forward. Don't understand this and you'll run into all sorts of interference and stoppages.'

So this retrograde is personal. But at the same time as it’s about finally cleaning the closet (or heaven forbid – the garage!) it’s also about “getting real” and realistic about what is and isn’t working in our world.
In your world.

And what’s more important than that, since our world isn’t our world without each and every ‘you’ who is alive?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mercury’s Station Window opens on Synodic Jupiter/Saturn Effects

Mercury by Mariner 10
photo credit: NASA/JPL

What does it mean that Jupiter opposes Saturn as Mercury enters the 2-day ‘station allowance’ window prior to going retrograde?

Well, let’s start by considering that when we find Jupiter and Saturn paired together in any sort of which-way, we’re always getting a signal which pertains to the building (or ability to build) something. In a personal chart we’d determine the ‘what’ by the house Jupiter and/or Saturn was in, the signs…all that stuff.

But bottom line, these two are considered the premier emblems of ‘building’ – be it a house, a career, a life, a body of learning…whatever you’re into, Saturn provides the structural element and Jupiter symbolizes the effort to grow and the growth/gains thus made.

Here we have Saturn in Libra. Hmmm….that means its about the effects we have on others – the results of our building, to stick with the original premise. Libra is where cause/effect gets into either the moment of putting it out there…or getting whatever it is you do (or don’t) get for your efforts.

Saturn in Libra tends to provoke a lot of projections. There’s a lot of saying ‘that person there – they’re the bad guy!’ when we’d be far better to look in the mirror and …well, not automatically say that’s the bad guy, but consider that maybe the reason why we’re not getting the applause is because we’re not entertaining the audience?

Yes, this is simplistic – but it’s also apt.

Next is the fact that Saturn is in retrograde. Okay…so Libra already being a sign about recognizing what we get from people for what we offer or give them of ourselves…so what with retrogrades being about thinking things over and getting ‘straight’ with ourselves before trying to conquer the rest of the world…is this about thinking over what we spend our time thinking about?

Maybe. And remember – Mercury, symbol of thought – Mercury is also about to go retrograde.

So yes, there is a whole lotta emphasis on what we think at the moment….and maybe more to the Venus-ruled Libra point, what we expect out of life. 

That also seems very much in line with the idea that this Saturn/Jupiter opposition happens at 14 degrees of Aries (Jupiter) and Libra (Saturn). With Jupiter in Aries there’s a great conscious quality to these days (and months) which is all about realizing where we are and aren’t getting in life…what it takes to be the person we want to be who gets where they want to go – that being the Libra/Saturn part.

And the opposition?

Well…looking at this Aries Jupiter opposition Libra Saturn as a unit, one would have to think this has a goodly deal to do with a moment in time (the transiting opposition) when what isn’t working – at least yet (Saturn retrograde in Libra) hits home.

There is, as always, the personal level of this conversation – how this may affect each of us as individuals. That this happens at 14 degrees (Aries and Libra) automatically tells us that anyone whose chart is sensitive to these harmonics would be more affected than the rest of us.

Okay…so what does that word ‘sensitive’ mean?

That means that we all get out our charts and take a look! (And if you don’t have your chart, use one of the ‘free chart links’ in the sidebar and print it out! Go on…we’ll wait for you!)

The standard astrological orb-al gig here gives a five degree orb for all of the so-called “hard” aspects: the squares (Cancer or Capricorn) and the conjunction or opposition, which here are something of the same thing seeing as Aries is opposite Libra and Libra is the opposition sign to Aries.

So this moment is most functional in anyone who has a planetary point, node or horizontal (or) vertical axis defined by anything between 9 and 19 Cancer, Capricorn, Libra or Aries…the question is all about what you will do, how well you do it and how well you have taken into account who you're doing it for.

(Hint: if you say "me!" you get no points! To get applause from the audience, you must play to the audience...!)

Those of you who have points at between 9 and 19 Leo and/or Sagittarius are in positioned to have this moment represent a trine – things playing out whether you’re working on them or not.

Those with points between 11 and 17 Aquarius or Gemini are being offered an opportunity to do something about something. (Sorry, sextiles only get a 3-degree orb.)

Really in the squishy are those with points between either 12 and 16 Scorpio and Virgo (and/or) 12 and 16 Pisces (and/or) Taurus. You’re allowed at least one major groan today and five minutes of out-and-out complaint about how unfair life is to some friend.

(Tell them I said so – that’ll make me popular…not!)

The Saturn retrograde in Libra part of this is about who we are to others. You may be thinking about who they are to you, but Saturn in Libra is highly (if not totally) a causal/effective measure of what you give, so you determine what you get. And where I don’t like what I’m getting, for instance, that says I’m not giving the right thing. Or I’m not aiming it to the right audience. Or I’m not packaging it in the right way. Or I’m maybe just not the right person to be doing what I’m doing.

Sometimes that simply is the problem. If you’ve ever seen a movie or show where you come away shaking your head wondering who thought it was a good idea to have that actor play that part…you’ve got the idea. Someone could be just a perfectly splendid actor but just wrong for the part – say, Boris Karloff as Mary Poppins.

There is some measure of simply ‘getting it’ and accepting what the truth is which pervades the air, the world and our thoughts at the moment.

What you do about it…? That’s up to you. But certainly with Jupiter in Aries, the idea…and in some places the issue is ‘growth.’ And maybe overgrowth. Or potential for growing and getting out of hand. Or growing where you have no intention on going.

Jupiter/Saturn have a 19.86 year-long ‘synodic’ cycle, meaning from the point where they’re conjunct to where they reconnect again.

The last conjunction was in the year 2000 at 22 Taurus. That having been a clear conjunction, this makes the 19.86 years which follow May 2000 a challenge to make something of one’s self for those with chart positions between 17 and 27 Taurus, a challenge to be more effective, fair and constructive for those with chart positions between 17 and 27 Scorpios (meaning you will lose out if/where you aren’t), a need to build on opportunities (making things work better for you) for those with chart positions between 17 and 27 Virgo and to use opportunities which arise to improve your approach or broaden your appeal/effectiveness for those with placements between 17 and 27 Capricorn…

This synodic conjunction would have represented a long-term challenge to develop/utilize self worth for those with positions not only for the Taurus group (above) but for those with positions between 20 and 24 Aries and/or Gemini, recognizing you’re going to take a few ego hits along the way. Getting past your ego expectations is the issue…as it sort of is also for those with chart placements between 17 and 27 Leo, except this Leo group is specifically trying to ‘found’ or ‘form’ something on which they can build going forward.

Understanding the ‘ground rules’ is vital for this Leo group, especially since they will be prone to think in terms of how things ‘should’ work instead of how they actually ‘do’ work.

A similar challenge would have been issued to those with placements between 20 and 24 Libra or Sagittarius. On the Sagittarian side the struggle would be to not just comprehend but find ways to integrate the emotional priorities of others.

On the Libra side (hence this discussion) we would expect a time when dysfunctional values or ‘dysfunctions’ or ‘dysfunctionality’ requires that changes be made so that the terms ‘worth’ and ‘value’ (or worthiness and valuation) come more into line.

The last note to the original synodic conjunction tells us that applies personally to those with planetary points between 17 to 27 Aquarius, which in recalling the Libra ‘airy’ theme of ‘worth and valuation’ really asks what’s reasonable, moral and ethical. In other words, there’s what you can do…then again, there’s what you should do.

This whole synodic cycle (between 2000 and – roughly - the dawn of 2020) are all about balancing what works with what’s reasonable on a human, moral and/or ethical scale. It’s also about balancing today against tomorrow against a hundred years ago against a hundred years from now. And the native Aquarian/Leo square to this cycle at a 3rd decan degree (i.e., any degree between 20 and 29 of any sign) tells us…well, this may “ouch!” a lot but….it tells us that the whole of this Saturn/Jupiter zodiac rondo involves partings of ‘have’ and ‘have not’ at both basic and grandiose levels.

And when such partings happen – and they happen in many parts of our lives and at many different levels through many means - the ‘have’ side is always highly resistant to feeling the human ‘cost’ they not only extract on others, but from the system and the world which in reality, supports their ‘having.’

Or at least supports it until they break it.

That all this happens as Mercury enters the 2-day window prior to going retrograde really does tell us that we’re extra-super conscious of time a’wasting and opportunities wasted. People will make big decisions now…or realize they need to be made.

A really unusual photograph...Jupiter's south pole
photo source: NASA/JPL

Astrological lore suggest that the days leading into a Mercury station/retrograde often feel a bit rushed – or filled with pressure. Which means you may feel like you gotta do whatever it is RIGHT NOW or the world may end, all may be lost, you could fall off the end of the Earth.

Uh, no. Probably not.

The instructions which come with Mercury retrograde (yes, I read the label) says if things come to happen now without forcing, fine. But DON’T PUSH! That means no rushing, no shoving, no cutting off your own nose to spite your face.

Events which happen naturally during these next couple of days (whether that means they happen of ‘their own accord’) or because they’ve been long-planned…these are likely to be moments of importance or long-term effect.

For the rest of us – it’s a time for recapping and thinking about how we may just need to revamp a few things to actually get where we want to go.

Fortunately for us, Mercury retrograde is a perfect time to do just that…so finish up what you’re doing, then mosey on into your very most comfy mode and go at it!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Venus enters Pisces

 Csaba Markus' "Triumph of Venus" (2006)

Venus’ entrance into Pisces usually heralds a time of effusive feeling and often, grace…at least of spirit.
Considering everything going on in our world, we will have to trust to the latter…but maybe that’s the point.

After all, Pisces isn’t just about having the dream, its about everything which prompts us to dream. And sometimes that’s the very hardest of moments, the dream being our vision of what we wish was instead true or our vow to do better should we ever be given the chance.

There is of course, a whole other side of Pisces – the sign’s more practical or pragmatic side, if overwhelming emotion can said to be pragmatic. With Venus so very much the symbol of making things happen or ‘attracting the right circumstances,’ we can look to this ingress as setting the stage for things to start falling into place.

With Pisces being the sign of ‘where things end up’ it represents where we end up, what we have when we get there…and all our regrets, too. Those things you think about or dream of but never even try out in real life? Pisces. That wonderful thing lost? Pisces. That life isn’t what you hoped it would be? Pisces.

Then again, Pisces can be the very hallmark of peace. It’s the sign of the artistic imagination.

Pisces is that thing which never works which we can’t figure out and that thing which is so absurdly easy we don’t even appreciate it.

During the next three and a half weeks while Venus transits Pisces, we may find that right moment to try something out – and realize its not as hard as we thought to get a positive response.

Is it magic? Well…yes and no. It’s not magic of the abracadabra kind, no. But it is magical the way people seem to be more receptive to us…and how we feel like we can actually reach out and connect to them and feel like we’re being not just heard, but understood.

And what’s that about? The astro-technical term for this situation is ‘exaltation’…as in, Venus is exalted in Pisces. What that means in ‘regular speak’ is that Venusian traits – the ability to value self and others and get it all together in the same place at the same time….that’s enhanced.

Now…! With all that duly celebrated, there is a wee widdle fact that once Mercury goes retrograde late on March 30th (UT/+0) that Venusian grace becomes a little more…confined. Think intimacy…or quieter moments. Venus in Pisces plus Mercury retrograde is a good time for planning or working out the kinks in something you’ve already been working on. It’s creative…if a little confusing and often a little bit wasteful – so mind those pennies and (considering we’re talking Mercury retrograde) be careful what you commit to.

However (oh, you knew there would be a ‘however,’ didn’t you?) there are a couple of glitches which go at least with the Venus/Pisces ingress. What they are in your world, I couldn’t know from here (I definitely need to get me a new crystal ball!) …but with asteroid Hel at 1, Ceres at 2 and Chiron at 3 Pisces there is a definite aura of difficulties and/or painful disappointments (Hel) with are either part of or which lead to a need for nurturance (Ceres) which requires taking on something you aren’t familiar with (Chiron).

And maybe which you don’t really want to become familiar with (Chiron/Hel). Or that you really need help with (Hel/Ceres)…or that will require learning how to do without any instruction (Ceres/Chiron).

Interestingly, Mercury is at 23 Aries as Venus enters Pisces. Mercury will go retrograde at 24 Aries and have moved back to 23 Aries by the time Venus moves through the whole of Pisces’ first decanate.

That’s a pattern.

 Planetary positions from when Venus enters Pisces on March 27
with Mercury at 23 Aries through Mercury's station point and back
to Mercury retrograding through 23 Aries again as Venus completes
its transit of the first decanate of Pisces (all positions calculated
for noon UT/+0)

And what that pattern means is that during these days either things will come to fruition (or to a head) and be vitally important….or they’ll get delayed, put on hold, or for one reason or another – postponed. Mind you, this could be voluntary on your part…you may decide you think you want to do a little more about this or that before committing to finality or some particular course or choice. Or you could be waiting on someone else. Or some process could just be in the works which takes a bit of time. 

Then again….considering Venus is in Pisces here, there is a whole tra-la (back chatter) about the emotions of the moment.


That sounds at the very least like a little anxiety or some degree of irritation or the like. And if you’re someone whose chart includes 23 Aries, Libra, Capricorn or Cancer as a prominent position, this is either a very good, very bad, very insulting, very insecure-making or very gratifying moment depending on what you’ve been doing. Doing since when?

Well, that’s an interesting question. It’s either about something which happened either during February-March 2010, or it’s about something which you’re working towards which will come about during November 2011.

All and all, it’s a rather mystical moment.

General theory suggests that for many of us, Venus in Pisces is a good time for sprucing up your ‘behind the scenes world.’ It’s a transit which supports enjoyment of the arts and simple pleasures with friends, loved ones and even just with nature. Under Venus in Pisces we all feel a little bit closer to the greater commonalty of the world…and in that, we come to feel a little bit closer to ourselves.

However – that’s general and this is 2011.

Venus enters Pisces at 6:54am (UT/+0) on March 27th and will remain in Pisces until early on March 21st. During this time Neptune will move into Pisces – and as outcome ruler of Pisces raise the emotional stakes. Expectations will soar and like as not, not be entirely true…if at all true. Events will provoke us and evoke all sorts of reactions we might never have dreamed of before.

That Neptune moves into Pisces just as Venus hits Pisces’ 2nd and most emotional decanate (degrees 10 through 19) gives us the image of deep waters (deep emotions) being stirred, up-thrust and exposed to us in a whole new way.

Bottom line...we’re in for an evocative time - so don’t be shocked, be human!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Orpheus, Venus, Neptune: Inspired to Dedication


 The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog
by Caspar David Friedrich (1818)

If you look up Venus/Neptune connections in most astrology reference books you’ll get comments on romance and love, idealism and beauty.

In this time of debate, rebellion, desperate needs and tragedy, if we accept that the unfurling of time is as it should be (a central metaphysical precept) what can such inspiring images mean?

There are many meanings to Venus’ conjunction with Neptune on this date and just remembering that this connection is happening at the critical degree of 29 Aquarius says a lot. Aquarius is not only the sign of society but society’s infrastructure. And that means not just the groups and the corporations, but the ‘systems’ human, technological, mechanical, ethical, intelligent, economic/financial (income), energy-oriented or of any other ilk which go into structuring, maintaining, supporting or…as may seem all too apt now…which dissipate, destroy or negate the societal structure.

Venus’ ability to time out ‘things coming to be real’ or ‘concreted’ when in Aquarius and paired with Neptune as a timer and symbol of extremes of idealism, despair, denial, toxicity and dissolution of that which has outlived its functions here suggests that some things – even ideas and efforts invested in heavily and/or fervently defended may now dissipate, end, simply melt away.

And for those who like looking ahead, it would pay to take this moment as fair warning of much yet to come once Neptune enters Pisces.

Given that asteroid Hel is at 28 Aquarius and about to enter 29 Aquarius within 24 hours, what with Sisyphus having gone into retrograde, this is something of a self-confronting quandary: are we prepared to deal with what we have wrought either purposefully or through thinking it was none of our business or not our problem?

Winterliche Vollmondlandschaft by Louis Douzette (1869)

With Orpheus entering Taurus at 11:23am (UT/+0) there is also a matter of well intentioned talents. Heroic effects are likely, but are they truly competent? Are we likely to repeat mistakes of the past by simply trusting someone else will ‘take care of it’? With Athena still poised at 0 Taurus (creating a conjunction with Orpheus) the real real knowledge or real wisdom of the moment is likely to be dispassionate and to the taste of many, not all that comforting.

There are likely to be several coagulated outcomes of these influences. Some will simply be looking for reassurance. Another group will just be looking to escape the problems of the day – and maybe reality as a whole.

Another group of people will be in a real ‘let’s get this done’ sort of mood, with a fourth group willing to face realities and consider alternate modes of operation in order to avoid future problems.

All of this is being brought into focus by a retrograde Saturn (in Libra) which at the moment merely in opposition with Jupiter will bring that direct-retrograde conjugation into full focus two days from now - just as Mercury goes on station to go retrograde.

Saturn retrograde in Libra indicates a necessity to reflect honesty and to find a way to be more honest and honestly productive for the self through how you interact with others. But with Jupiter coming into opposition? Sure as shootin', this is going to be a period of struggle where the recognition that everything would 'in the end' be better if we could be more honest (moral, ethical, thorough, qualified, etc.) but there's this temptation, this question about 'what will it take'?

And yes, there is always the always popular 'what's in it for me?' If we really focus on the quality, on the 'right' way on thoroughness and holding ourselves to some line we'd like to think is merely theoretical but which we know (in our heart of hearts) is actually will that affect us in the long run?’

Given that Saturn/Jupiter connections tend to have a social or societal overtone, don’t be surprised if situations and choices have repercussions both short term and long. Thinking matters through without haste yet with thoroughness is critical now, as is taking into account how what you think best will affect others.

And there is the wee problem that the days before Mercury goes retrograde tend to feel pressure-ful.

Bottom line, watch your step. And what you say. And what you choose, one way or the other. This is one of those moments which is a definite step in a greater process. So deal with the present - properly. And plan for tomorrow - carefully. Today the subject is facts. Leave the ramifications and ‘costs’ for tomorrow’s conversation.

With Orpheus in this mix - particularly moving into Taurus, there will be a temptation to play the part and be tripped up by one's feelings. It pays to remember that in the tale of Orpheus, everything was going fine...he was going to get his fair maiden back from the dead...

...And then he couldn't resist looking back.

Don't look back. Do what you know to do best and complete your task before you look for any reward.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Eros/Athena: Comprehending Desire and Why We Want to Know

 Pallas Athena by Franz von Stuck

Astrology is a mosaic of effects, which is why though it’s interesting and sometimes entirely worthwhile to zero in on a certain moment – an ingress, a retrograde, a transit to your personal chart – that one thing is really just a section of the picture, one flavor in a banquet of tastes, one moment in a day filled with events.

I’ve come to realize this more and more in writing this blog…which brings us to the subject(s) of the day: Eros entering Pisces at 6:03am (UT/+0) and Athena (as in Pallas Athena) entering Taurus at 4:15pm (UT/+0).

So what is Eros? The easy way to think of Eros is in terms of the word ‘erotic.’ But it’s more than that. Eros is desire…and that can be any kind of desire, not just sexual. The name and image is derived from He We Know As Cupid – and yes, when even barely scratched by one of Cupid’s arrows, the tale says we will fall madly and insatiably in love with the next person we meet.

(Which let’s face it – can be pretty inconvenient, not to mention impractical!)

But when we get to the astrological Eros, this can be any ‘itch’ we get for whatever it is we itchest for. Or  about. Or even (theoretically) from. So while we would expect to see Eros mixed in with a set of symbols denoting say, a marriage, it’s entirely possible that we could see Eros mixed up with some puzzle which just drives you bonkers. Or a rash which keeps you awake at night. Or even an addiction – the proverbial ‘monkey’ which you can’t get off your back.

It’s the preoccupation…or more exactly, the ability for something to preoccupy you and in doing so take precedence over other things which is so very Eros.

With this in mind, what is Eros doing? Answer, Eros is entering Pisces, land of emotional fantasies.

Do I hear a big ‘uh-oh’…?

That’s possible, certainly: Eros in Pisces – for some – will be a sign of all their ‘counter-balances’ and safety valves and normal tendencies to check their behavior being checked at the door…of one’s mind, anyway. And maybe otherwise!

 Asteroid Eros - photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Certainly with Pisces being a sign of emotional dualities, Eros in Pisces can say ‘Is this good? Is this too good to be true? Maybe I’m kidding myself…maybe this is no good at all!’

There is that popular Piscean sport of murmuring ‘later…later!’ while your eyes dance, transfixed by an image only you see.

Did I mention Pisces is the sign of intoxication? So it is…! Thus with Eros in Pisces, we are all polarized by our own ability to be ‘intoxicated’ by some belief, some ideal, some fantasy, some yearning….or repelled by something just as powerful. This is a potent time for those who have a creative mind…and problematic, even dangerous for those prone to delusions or ‘living on expectations’ which never last.

With Sisyphus having just gone into retrograde (we are still in the station zone for that…) we may be thinking we’re past the point where we’re going to get ‘caught’ – that we can ‘get away’ with something because we’re ‘in the know.’

More likely however, (considering this as a moment after Sisyphus goes retrograde) this may be simply a moment of interlude. Sisyphus (like Hybris), appears to not be a ‘once-and-over’ sort of point – and it’s the secondary manifestations which often prove our undoing.

Meanwhile, today is also when Athena moves into Taurus. Athena being a signature of wisdom, it would be sensible to ‘hold a good thought’ that Athena entering a sign all about self worth, values, abilities and resources means we will better recognize ourselves and what we can make of and with our own time on Earth. Humans have unfortunately, an incredibly long history of valuing ‘stuff’ and hedonistic pleasure over human life – and what seems remarkable is that we are as apt to ignore our own value (and life) almost as easily as the lives of others.

We are – as a species, notoriously short-sighted. That old expression those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it is not just about governments and the rise and fall of empires…it’s about human life. But do we listen? Naw…most of us just quote merrily and go skipping off to our next pleasure of the moment which we pay for in the end!

Both of these objects are classed as asteroids, telling us they represent things and qualities – considerations we will ‘meet up with’ at this time. Of the two, being that Athena is classed as a minor planet would seem to ask us to take greater notice of the value and purpose of what we do (or don’t do) rather than the pleasure, pain or effort involved.

Yet against this, Eros is a strong allure. Classed as an Amor Group asteroid, Eros orbits barely beyond Mars at its farthest from the Sun and cycles inward, representing how close our desires really are to us, to our reality how they get in our face and permeate our world.

There are a million issues to consider and several perspectives on each. Eros in Pisces against Athena in Taurus is an opportunity to realize what we’ve done against what we could do in all such dismal glory, in all such glorious possibility, in all possible gory reality.

 Eros in the guise of Cupid 'L'ingegno' 
by Giuseppe Maria Crespi (c. 1695-1700)

We’ve all felt so mortal in witnessing Japan’s huge disaster. Those who ‘cannot imagine’ what such an event must be like are free to be terrified by their imagination while those who face the reality merely deal with day-to-day survival. Long term, it is being ignored in desperate situations which seems to most often inflict the most damaging psychological effects and terrors inflicted by other humans (either purposefully or through lack of caring about us) which have the most traumatic effects.

But when we consider things like the nuclear containment problems on Honshu, we have to really ask ourselves how what human priorities are. Nuclear fission was developed as a weapon of war. It’s polarity counterpart (nuclear fusion) evidently has no great lethal potential.

Some things – like nuclear power – have been given over to those charged and obsessed with matters of defense. At the other end of the spectrum we have research done by the likes of NASA (and others) which has given us microwave ovens, cell phones and the like.

In an era of budget shortages, are we thinking about which budgets are getting cut? Check with whatever government you live under – like as not, the military budgets are being held unchecked and science and the arts are being undermined.

It’s one thing to be indignant about this. It’s another to speak out or do something about it.

We each do – or don’t do as we will. And that is our Eros/Athena internalization. Maybe it grows and changes over time and maybe it doesn’t.

Meanwhile, we keep thinking to tame agents of weaponry into something benign, which rather reminds me of my dad suggesting that a Tyrannosaur would have made a great pet. When I asked why he would think that, he grinned his most mischievous grin: because it would take itself out for a walk around the neighborhood while finding itself its own meal. 

Talented, sometimes charming, always energized but not exactly a person ever to be fully harnessed, my dad. A bit like a nuclear reactor…and sadly, one which also went awry and melted down.

If you know the old story ‘The Lady or the Tiger,’ this would seem to be an apt image of the day. In the story, the male protagonist is presented with two doors knowing behind one lies a beautiful woman and behind the other, a hungry tiger. Which door is which, he asks – and though you think you know what the wisdom (Athena) of the moment is and how your desires (Eros) are defined, with Sisyphus having just gone into retrograde, are you sure you know the cost of what you’re about to choose….or even more succinctly, perhaps what you’ve already chosen?