by Boots Hart, CAP

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mercury in Taurus

 Image adapted from an image of constellation Taurus as found
in the 'Uranographia' of Johannes Hevelius (1690)

When I think of Mercury in Taurus, the first thing my mind goes to is the image of ‘good solid thinking.’

And yet…it can be so much and so very otherwise. Taurus is a sign all about our security (physical or psychological) and our abilities (our “native resources”). Taurus is also the sign of the self worth and/or self respect which motivates us to take those abilities and develop them. To make something of ourselves. To do something in this world.

When Taurus goes right, we do well, we flourish, we earn respect and support from others – in general we earn a sense of personal satisfaction.

And in the world of Taurus, satisfaction is the metaphysical peanut butter which goes oh so well the jelly of Taurean security.

So where can Taurus go askew? Taurus, which if you remember is one end of the Taurus-Scorpio polarity, goes wonky when the ‘personal earth’ (Taurus) gets undermined by ‘interactive water’ (Scorpio) in any of the numerous ways that Scorpio situations test how secure we are or aren’t inside our own skin.

War, sex, investment, birth, death, surgery, control, imprisonment, taxes, interpersonal conflicts, manipulation, domination, vulnerability…any and all of these (in just about any form they turn up) are by dynamic, Scorpionic. And though, being the self-protective critters we are, we tend to think that anything that goes wrong is “their fault” (oh, how many times have we all heard that!)…the truth of this on the astro-metaphysical level is that whatever the situation is, it’s raised a question inside our Taurean corral.

And when that happens, our inner bull comes out snorting!

Of course a bull doesn’t know to check its own hide and see where it’s got pricked. As far as I know, bulls don’t say to themselves ‘why does my hinder flanks suddenly hurt?’ They just look for whoever hurt them, and when in doubt, they gore a wall or fence or two. (Or three or four.)

But as people, the best thing we can do IS to look at what hurts and what about us has been hurt and why that hurts. It’s our sense of security and our sense of satisfaction and with the exception of those who are truly out to get us, most people tend to prick our pride or scratch our ego less intentionally than we suspect.
Why we’re so sensitive there? That would be our issue.

Now I’m not tell you to go thank someone whose carelessly thrown verbal dart hits you right in your trigger point, but let’s be real. We all have a few trigger points and though it’s a whole lot easier to blame than self reflect, we’ll probably do better in the long run to figure out the where and why’s of those triggers.

Sometimes we can fix them. Sometimes we can’t. Some people have been so beat up, whether in war or maybe growing up, or through some tragedy or crisis experienced as an adult that they’re just plain injured.

As our symbol of mentality and the thought process (and everything we mentally choose to do or not do) Mercury brings to Taurus exactly what we need to reconsider how well we’re doing in our own life – and as a person among other people in this world.

It’s a great time to examine the viability of your plans or when you may need to have a talk with yourself about really getting on developing a few more personal tools so you can be more effective, be that in your personal or professional life.

As Mercury enters Taurus on May 1st at 3:38 in the afternoon UT/+0 time, it’s joining a Taurean party already in progress. The Sun is already in Taurus, Mars is in Taurus and Venus is already half-way through Taurus, dancing along as Venus does.

In short, on a personal level it’s a hugely Taurean moment. Sun, Mercury, Venus and Mars…? That’s every personal planet on the list apart from the Moon!

Oh yes…the Moon. Well, the Moon will have entered Aquarius just before Mercury arrives in Taurus (no doubt striking a natty pose). And because the Moon is the ‘astro-clock’ of daily doings that means Mercury is entering Taurus probably just about the time a few Aquarian/Taurus challenges hit the grill.

That suggests issues with ‘enough-ness’ of various kinds.

 As I set out to make an image of an "astrological clock" I realized that bcause
zodiacal motion through the wheel is counter-clockwise, it would look pretty
funny. So! It's a bit 'Alice in Wonderland,' but the above is pretty much "two
minutes to Taurus" - give or take a half-minute!  

Just to make it plain here, this Mercury-Taurus transit is going to be a quickie: Mercury enters Taurus on the 1st and moves on into Gemini on the 15th (which would already be the 16th if you’re in any longitude corresponding to, say, Greece or points east).

Astrologers have various opinions on what such swift transits indicate. Some say there will be more of ‘that’ packed into less time (“that” being the Mercury-in-Taurus quotient). Some think of it as a brief time in which to get something done – sort of like being in a rush. Others think that such brief transits manifest as ‘not much here – moving on!’ sorts of periods.

However you think of it, we know a couple of other things about this particular Mercury in Taurus passage. One is that Saturn is still retrograding through Taurus’ opposition sign of Scorpio, a combination which can be destructive, reparative or simply mind-bending in the sense that you look at something and say ‘REALLY?’ How could you not see that? Not know that? Put up with that? Do without that? WHY did you do that? WHAT are you going to do now?

Thinking back on the Taurus/Scorpio polarity, we would have to think that this short two weeks or so is at some level an opportunity to get on a better, more even or more productive keel with yourself (Saturn being in retrograde makes it about our internal life)…from which you can make better life choices and act with greater security, from which theoretically will come better results.

Another thing afoot here…(as they would say in Sherlock Holmes)…is with Neptune direct at 5 Pisces, Mercury is going to spend four days or so (let’s call it from May 2nd through May 5th) in sextile to Neptune. This is great for parties and vacations. If you happen to have a fantasy, musical or romantic comedy film you want to release during this time, people will probably be in the mood to go and see it.

(Movies grosses do reflect the dates - which is to say the charts - of their premiers. It’s a subject that as a member of the film industry has long interested me and which I’ve done a lot of research on!)

My father was a huge fan of Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes (above). Personally, I prefered Jeremy Brett in the part. And that 'debate' became a lasting joke between us, one we enjoyed bandying about right until the day he passed away. Of such things are memories - especially the ones we value - made of.
(photo courtesy of the NY Public Library Digital Collection, c. 1930)

Those days of May 2-6 aren’t likely to be great for ‘precision’ work. Or precise thought. And since Neptune connections with Mercury are often said to be a signal of misunderstandings and deception, watch what you say and who you say it to.

The flip side here is that this Mercury/Neptune connection is also one when egos are a little softer than usual. So that’s good for tender matters, matters of the heart and equally good for saying ‘I’m sorry’ where you may have offended someone.

Last but not least (not by a long shot!) is the fact that May 10th is a Solar Eclipse at 19 Taurus. So matters of values and what we consider valuable (whether we have it or have lost it or feel good about it or feel rancidly and wretchedly offended about it) …all such matters are already on our minds.

And up for cosmic grabs, shifts, losses and incarnations.

The weeks before a Solar Eclipse tend to be a hodge-podge of happenings. With this one being in Taurus everything from food to banking to national economies to personal finances, bankruptcies, fidelity and friendships are up for grabs. The very concept of security is now being challenged both in the world and in your world, forcing you to think about it and think things through in general.

And thus Mercury comes into Taurus, helping us do just that.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Menkar: Soul, Searching

A section of the Taurus Molecular Cloud shows a filament of
cosmic dust more than ten light years long
(photo credit: ESO-APEX-MPIR,OSO-A Hacar, February 2012)

The fact that I’ve never read anything which really satisfied my curiosity about fixed star Menkar is the genesis of this post. Positioned (as of 2013) at 15 Taurus, Menkar is referred to as a star ‘linked to the forces of the collective consciousness’ (source: Solar Fire’s star files) with others adding in comments about how the likelihood is that, where Menkar is involved, we will take an 'easier path.'

But that could mean a lot of things.

It could mean that for those who have a planet, node, cusp or axis point in aspect to Menkar, that object's symbolism represents the means by which we “access” the collective consciousness.

Or maybe that's where we are accessed by the collective consciousness in the area of life represented by that planet, node, cusp or axis point?

And yes, there is a difference. Astrologically, the point where we access something implies choice, purpose, aim/goal and volition. Where the we would be accessed by something is about being effected by situations or energetics which come upon us whether we want it or not, and which prompt certain reactions.

This second form seems likely in the sense that Menkar is known for choices which opt for the 'easier' or more 'pleasant' outcome. But when we get that far, the fact that Menkar is known as a ‘difficult’ star gives me cause to ponder. Is this about difficulties we meet up with in life because we take the path of pleasantry? Or is this about difficulties we simply have as part of life as a result of taking the easier or more popular path? 

Some who are into science fiction may have heard of this star under it’s alternative name, ‘Menkab.’ In doing a bit of research on the subject I came across the fact that Menkab has been mentioned in various incarnations of Star Trek and (apparently not to be outdone), in an episode or two of South Park.

So much for stellar dignity, eh?

None of this proving very satisfying, I wandered further afield (which is a pretty long way when you're talking about stars). Or maybe I should say I swam a far piece as in current star-lore, Menkar is part of the constellation Cetus – the whale.

A sky map of constellation Cetus
(image credit: IAU, Sky and Telescope Magazine - Roger
Sinnott/Rick Fienberg, June 2011)

But lest you think this is the great whale we love and respect in today's world, it would seem that the astrological Cetus is not about the amazing creatures we may be lucky enough to see if we go whale-watching (or if we just spend a bit of quality time watching Discovery Channel). No, the idea of constellation Cetus as the whale goes back to Mesopotamian times, when whales were thought of more as ‘sea monsters.’ And that explains why Cetus is sometimes though more of in the mold of the Loch Ness Monster rather than Flipper the friendly sea porpoise. (Now I’m dating myself.) And it’s not just the Mesopotamians who saw this concept with regards to constellation Cetus. On a whole other side of the world the Tukano and Kobeua people of Brazil saw this constellation as a jaguar, the jaguar having been a powerful image all over South and Central America (where it figured large in the myths of the Aztecs and Maya).

But the interesting thing is that even though these Brazilian peoples chose a “terrestrial” image (the jaguar), the constellation was (is) thought of in connection with violent storms – in particular, hurricanes.

And hurricanes are certainly ‘creatures of the ocean.’

Maybe the better way to think of Cetus is in terms of the ‘whale’ in the book Moby Dick. Yes, there might have been a real whale, but it was the whale in Ahab’s head – the ‘whale of his obsessions’ – which is the real Cetus.

 An illustration from an 1892 edition of Moby Dick
(publisher: C.H. Simonds Co.)

That’s a useful clue in our search for understanding Menkar, as this star really does seem to have some mythic quality to it specifically as that concerns our thinking. There’s the reality of the thing…and then there’s what we think of the thing. Either may have validity. But then again, our thoughts may be what are ‘swallowing’ us up, so to speak.

Myth speaks of Cetus as the sea monster which was going to devour Andromeda, the fair maiden left chained to the rock by her parents. The story here is instructive, as it seems to point to some of our Cetus challenges.

Andromeda’s mother is Cassiopeia. And Cassiopeia is an arrogantly proud woman who boasts that her child – Andromeda – is ‘more beautiful than the Nereids,’ the Nereids being Poseidon (Neptune’s) children.

The last time we saw a ‘queen here on Earth’ brag about her children thinking they were better than the gods, that figure of overblown braggadocio (read: pride) was Niobe. Her brag was that her kids were both more plentiful and more talented than those of Leto.

Leto happening to be the mother of Apollo and Artemis (the god of truth and enlightenment and goddess of the hunt and human reflection, respectively)…that didn’t go so well for Niobe. A highly insulted Leto sent her kids to shoot all of Niobe’s kids down, allegedly proving the difference between mortality and that which is eternal and how important it is to keep the two things straight.

Unfortunately, Cassiopeia wasn’t keeping up on such warning labels. So she makes her boast about Andromeda as being more beautiful than the children of the ocean (the Nereids) and Papa Neptune gets so frothed up that he calls in his brother Jupiter and together they send Cetus to teach this arrogantly vain mortal a lesson by destroying her kingdom.

One suspects there must have been a lively ‘what the #$^!@ did you do, woman?’ conversation between Cassiopeia and hubby (King Cepheus). And yes, I’m using the term ‘lively’ rather liberally. But as folks did in those days, their answer was to go ask an oracle for a solution.

And – interestingly – the oracle they chose was an oracle of Apollo, which probably got a chuckle up on immortal Mount Olympus. What? Another silly, vain human being? Oh, when are they ever going to learn!

Vain and arrogant or not, Cassiopeia is upset to hear that the way to assuage Neptune is through sacrificing Andromeda, but she’s not so upset that she and hubby don’t go and chain Andromeda to a rock. (Whether they hung out a sign for Cetus saying ‘come and get it!’ isn’t mentioned.)

Andromeda by Paul Gustave Dore

This is one of those impossibly poignant Greek question: do I save my family and sacrifice my world (i.e., the kingdom which Cetus will eat if Andromeda is not sacrificed) or do I sacrifice that beautiful thing which is MY world (my pride and joy) in order to safeguard and better the world?

Greek myth is full of all the truly difficult questions of life. Who among us hasn’t faced this question of whether we should prioritize the greater good or our own personal good?

Seen from this vantage point, Cetus is the ‘monster’ we are afraid of, the ‘what if’ we do, and the ‘what if’ we don’t.

Either way, there’s going to be pain. Will we take that on ourselves for some error, or some allowance we’ve given ourselves which is ‘monstrous’? Or will we force others to pay for our unwillingness to own the consequences of choices, acts and priorities which have been shown to be anywhere between faulty and truly grievous?

In case you’re worried about Andromeda, she gets rescued by none other than Perseus, who is on the way back from slaying Medusa – which in astro-psycho-mythic terms means he’s ‘already faced the horrible fact.’

Andromeda the sweet and giving child who never fought the parents who would sacrifice her to their own ‘monster’ ends up wedded to Perseus, the essence of our willingness to face the facts – however scary they may be – about ourselves.

And if we can do that, there may indeed be a happy ending.

But first, back to Menkar’s part in this whole parade.

Referred to as ‘Alpha Ceti’ (‘first star of Cetus’) in astronomical terms, Menkar is not the most notable of all Cetus’ stars – that honor goes to Mira, a famous variable star which doesn’t appear much in astrology. (Evidently stars need lobbies too.) Mira pulsates. Mira glows bright, and then fades away…it blows hot and cold, one might say.

Menkar on the other hand, is a point of relative stability. But as it’s positioned in the tail of Cetus as a constellation, stabile is a relative term – there’s bound to be some thrashing.

Maybe stabilizing is a better term. And that is a really helpful idea in understanding this star which sits so close to the 15 Taurus cross-quarter point.

The zodiacal cross-quarter points fall at 15 degrees of the fixed signs, an indication that they’re a ‘turning point’ when that which the fixed sign is so ardently ‘fixed’ on learning (degrees zero through fourteen) shifts into active mode.

Or at least it should. Particularly where and when we see degrees of fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio or Aquarius) which are 15 or higher representing attributes which have not learned to manifest the useful (read: positive) sign attributes, this leads to problems and results which are less satisfying than one might have envisioned.

So saying, back to the basic lore on this point. In everyday life, ‘forces of the unconscious’ can be our desire to fit in. Then again, they may be our interaction with ‘the’ mass consciousness (universal understandings or truths) or some subset thereof which we are tapping or tapped into through culture and upbringing, religion, nationality, peer group, generation or the times we live in.

Our ‘difficulties’ with that ‘sense’ we have of what’s out there, or what we ‘should’ be, or whether we ‘fit in’ or ‘greater realms’ or ‘inner evils’ (or hopes, etc.) …those are our ‘Cetus,’ our whale which isn’t about others – it’s about us. Menkar is in other words, the aperture…a sort of porthole through which we see the ‘greater realm’ or greater possibilities and through which we ‘feel seen.’

Because we are talking about Taurus, the question here is security. And because Cetus is a constellation which lies in proximity to the ecliptic, it's something which is 'close to us' at all times. Because of Earth's position in the whole of the greater universe, that which we see as 'the whale' is actually a construct composed of things near and far...stars which are relatively close to us and those which are many, many light years away. Thus the questions posed by Cetus - and therefore by Menkar come to us through Taurus in a manner which is both very immediate and very philosophical. So there is a very real part of the question "Am I secure?" Then again, there's a very broad-scope consideration about what security is, and whether we are every entirely secure other than being secure with ourselves seeing as we live in a world we don't control with a whole lot of people we surely don't control.

So whether the question is security or potential or acceptance or survival, there are 'real' versions and 'philosophical' versions for all those questions. And when we get done with all that, we still won't know for absolute sure whether 'right now' will carry over for the next five minutes or if in the whole of things, we're just kidding ourselves anyway.

Why is our potential? And why can we see everybody else's potential so well even when they can't see it? Is that what others truly see in us?

This touches on something written by Marianne Williamson back in 1992 in her book ‘Return to Love.’ Often thought of as being quoted by Nelson Mandela, it embodies another way to see the Menkar dilemma:
“It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

—Marianne Williamson
I have long realized that I attract people whose charts contain pointed commentaries on Menkar. They are most often friends than clients, and our relationships are rife with the interlocking of our personal struggles to fulfill our potential, often in spite of our marked ability to trip ourselves up by prioritizing desires over ability.

It is that choice of priority again, that very Greek question of the micro-versus-macrocosm of life.

And that explains at least some of why Menkar is difficult. It’s hard to think through this sort of conflict of self. And it’s one which shows up time and time and time again.

In the charts of people I come to know, most often there’s a planet sitting close enough to conjunct Menkar. In studying those (inclusive of the planets and asteroids in conjunction) I’ve come to understand that Menkar represents what we face in dealing with our world and what we embody in the lives of others. This was never made as plain to me as when I realized that someone I know with a literal life-or-death job has Medusa conjunct Sun conjunct Menkar.

And from there I looked to the chart of my sister, born to die at age 17 of a devastating and fatal disease. Nessus conjunct her Sun conjunct Menkar speaks eloquently of the understandable bitterness she felt at knowing she was going to die young and the scars she left on the lives around her while like so much connected to Nessus, live on decades after her death.

In a chart where Venus, Mercury, Phaethon and the South Node conjunct Menkar I see the experience of a life which, true to Phaethon’s ‘headstrong teen’ influence got on track early and which didn’t get challenged in the internal sense until much later on, at an age when that native was long past teenage adaptability. A lot of the growing up and facing of life’s realities some of us learn early this person is struggling with now in their 50s.

They’ve fallen down and they can’t get up because they are too afraid to see they’ve fallen down - yet another version of the 'Menkar Effect.'

A composite photo of NGC 1068 (M77) which is one of the nebula formations to
be found in constellation Cetus. That M77 contains a rapidly growing black
hole adds to the astro-mythology of its constellation.
(photo credit: NASA, CXC, MIT, Canizares, Evans et al,  STSd, NSF, 
NRAO, VLA, March 2010)

Menkar began the 1900s by moving into 13 Taurus in 1905. 13 Taurus is a degree which promotes and provokes the idea of right and wrong, some of which may be real and may be driven by some already-established internalized sense of priority or propriety. That would seem to be doubling up on some of Menkar’s least likable attributes, which may explain why between 1905 and 1976 (when Menkar moved on into 14 Taurus) we  saw more war (as a world) than we’ve seen since. With a lot of people still alive who were born during those years there would seem to be something of a ‘hyperbolic’ tendency still among us.

And of course there is that Menkar challenge which asks that we see the good and bad not just in others, but in ourselves. Humans are not always so very good at that.

Since 1976, Menkar has been positioned at 14 Taurus, a degree with a very mystical bent which in ‘real life’ terms could be simply mystical – but which may also give us a clue about the role of spirituality and religion seen during in the nearly 50 years since. Dividing ‘the times’ from the people who live with/through/by the natal charts, the times will be what they will be (which we would astrological see more through ongoing transits and eclipses)…but the people born with Menkar at 14 Taurus – is it any wonder that they are swayed by that which may be all around them but which they cannot see, such as social media?

There are ups and downs with everything, to be sure. And given that Menkar will be at 14 Taurus until June of 2048 (which will happen just as Neptune conjuncts Menkar and Eris moves into Taurus) we have a ways to go with this “mystical” quality which could lend so much insight – leading to great realizations about life…and maybe even the afterlife or other dimensions. But at the same time it speaks to a time and half a dozen astrological  generations (using Pluto as our generational market) which are all predisposed to manifesting and feeling this “mystical” influence both for the strength and weakness, the faith and vulnerability that any “mystical” reference can denote.

All this is timely because here in the year 2013 we’re about to experience a Solar Eclipse at 19 Taurus. Using standard 5-degree orbs, that means this Solar Eclipse will conjunct Menkar.

Plus there is a Solar Eclipse which will happen this November at 11 Scorpio? That’s within orb to oppose Menkar.

Anyone with a birthday between April 26 and May 15 (or) October 29 and November 17 should pay attention to this for sure. Those with birthdays between May 4 and May 15 along with those with birthdays between November 6 and 17 should pay particular attention to this May’s Taurus eclipse. Those with birthdays between April 26 and May 6th and October 29 and November 8 should focus on the November eclipse yet to come.

And for you whose birthdays lie in that overlap? This going to be a big year in your life. Many things you had thought were lasting – particularly as part of your internal value system – will now be supplanted. Being that humans are not the most malleable in such areas, the process won’t feel gentle, even without any loss of lifestyle or limb.

But let’s be real here: Solar Eclipses are not gentle. Nor are they a 'one-and-done' sort of affair. Solar eclipse effects evolve...and of all the astrological processes, they are perhaps the most dramatic, which may account for the histories of Solar Eclipses marking the rise and fall of kings and nations back into ancient times.

Yet since our focus here is Menkar, what we can expect from a Solar Eclipse on Menkar is the ‘shadow’ of our inner Cassiopeia coming out. Where we have not learned to be Perseus and figure out how to deal with those “frightening Medusa truths” – whether about ourselves or others, now those facts come out.

At the time of this post (April 26th) asteroid Child is conjunct the South Node with Lilith (the asteroid, not the Black Moon) conjunct Menkar, representing some facet of our Self which we don't want to acknowledge (Lilith) being focal in those dealings with the collective either as we stand against them, wanting to be an individual...or as we yearn to be part of them.

The Child/South Node part of this is most easily understood as 'wanting things to be easy' (or simple) which in combination with Lilith/Menkar sounds like a subterranean confrontation with that inner 'knowing' of who we are and what we're capable of becoming against what life has made easy to comply with or conform to.

As the days of May tick by (on our way to the Solar Eclipse on May 10th, or May 9th for those in the Americas)...first Mercury, then Mars conjunct Menkar.

This is a recipe for 'vital affairs' with far-reaching implications, the strength of which have everything to do with where these objects (Mercury, Mars and Menkar) lie in your natal chart.

And that's important to remember: the degree to which these things surface now, and to a great degree the effect Menkar has on your life is all about your natal chart. Whether (or how closely) Menkar and this eclipse are associated with any planet (dwarf or regular), node or axis in your chart multiplies effects in this moment.

Also yes, asteroids, TNOs and all such 'extra points' (as they're known) count in conjunction to Menkar natally and obviously (as discussed here) by transit. But unless you have a planet, node or axis positioned with Menkar or in such a position that it will be heavily impacted by the eclipse, you are less likely to see your shadow rise up and swallow some part of your life whole during the next weeks or month.

You know, like Jonah and the Whale.

Jonas en de Walvis (Jonah and the Whale)
by Pieter Lastman (1583-1633)

One more comment about that, since Jonah has crept into the conversation. The idea of being afraid of our own power is something many people from many walks of life have talked about. It’s known as the ‘Jonah Complex,’ which suggests that we are more apt to get swallowed by our fear of Self than anything else.

But what is fear and what is reality?

That seems very much part of our Menkar challenge. And maybe it's why we do so much soul searching throughout our lives.

Evidently we're meant to.

But then...maybe we should also reflect one last time on Cetus. Yes, the constellation began as a monster of the deep. And it's only in the past hundred plus years that whales have stopped being thought of as ship-wrecking monsters and giant sources of baleen and oil.

The whales haven't changed - we have. And maybe that's something very important to understand about Menkar. We may all need to - at some point - be 'swallowed whole' by our demons, our personal fears.

And maybe we survive best by accepting that our fears... our very human vulnerabilities, are part of the beauty which is life.   

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The 5 Scorpio Lunar Eclipse

Te aa no areois (The Seed of the Areoi) by Paul Gauguin (1892)

The Moon is in it’s sign of Fall when in Scorpio. And a Lunar Eclipse is known by the sign of its Moon, with the Sun being positioned in the opposite sign – in this case, Taurus.

But it’s why the Moon is in Fall in Scorpio which is probably the big clue to how this eclipse is going to operate.

The Moon is about reflection. It’s about our feelings and instincts. The Moon rules Cancer – a cardinal sign which is all about the surf zone and the crab which is free to go on shore or seek refuge in the water and among the rocks depending on what feels safest…or maybe just because it’s in the mood for this and that.

It’s from an image like this that we understand that the Moon is willful, and eminently self-concerned in the very real and corporeal sense where the Sun is about that consciousness or our ability to get ourselves through some situation. That’s also an expression of will, but with the Sun will is expressed through action where with the Moon, will is expressed in how I feel about it.

And yes, everything which may flow from that!

Scorpio is a sign about interactions…and what can be gained through or by interacting. With everything Scorpionic there’s some kind of risk – mostly emotional risk. And when things go bad in the Scorpio realm, the first question we ask ourselves is ‘why did I do that?’ or ‘why did I ever get involved?’ Much as we might be honked off at whoever we deal with in Scorpio (and being the sign of war, there’s obviously plenty of honk-off’ed-ness which goes with this sign!) the real issue with Scorpio, the ‘test’ if you will, is to our values. Wars are most often all about ‘don’t threaten me and my values’…or ‘I so disapprove of your values that I’m going to wipe you out’ – a mindset which is very close to another Scorpio trait, the venomous quality of revenge and vengeance.

To put it simply (and yes, this is a very extreme sort of example we’re using here), the Moon is in Fall in Scorpio because our feelings end up focused on the other. The Moon represents our need to love and respect ourselves – or our Self, depending. And since when in Scorpio we succeed only when we taken into account the aims and values of others on a par with the needs, aims and values we hold for or about ourselves, that’s a ‘sign necessity’ which asks us to use the Moon in a manner the Moon is less than enthrallingly fit to work in.

Scorpio’s longing and desire, it’s tests of our ability to maneuver and the temptation to manipulate is not directly about us. It’s about expending energy to try to get what we want, which by implication says we either don’t have it or we’re feeling threatened about it.

So the Moon in Scorpio always has this shifting, testy sort of edge. And when we talk about a Lunar Eclipse, that quality is likely to be elevated. Yes, this could also indicate a moment when we win through on something we want…I’m pretty sure President Bush (GW Bush) is going to be happy about the opening of his presidential library on the date of this lunar eclipse…but even when we get our way or get what we want from a Lunar Eclipse it’s likely to come at some cost. Or with some challenge to our feelings of settled security.

Could President Bush (the younger) be wondering what people will find in his library and what sorts of fluffles and fracas might evolve from that? He might – and when I heard that this was the Grand Opening for his library, I figured a cavalcade of reporters and researchers would be descending on the place, all determined to dig through the archives.

But I digress – sort of. The Moon of this eclipse is at 5 Scorpio and Saturn (still in retrograde) is at 8 Scorpio, which would describe the Bush Library as a source on all things Scorpio (economics, war, back room deals, etc.) which went on during those presidential administrations. And while most of us have never been President, this ‘aura of the past’ would be very much in keeping with this eclipse. This could be entirely personal and emotional…or it could be about something you are doing based on something you have ‘gotten into’ or ‘how I learned to do it’…or it could be a moment when something you did comes up for review – most of all, personal review.

 Lunar Eclipse of April 25, 2013
(Aries Wheel, location not specific)

With TNO Deucalion at 12 Scorpio, the Saturn of this figure carries a definite whiff of challenge with regards to morality. Yet since the Sun which opposes this Moon is conjunct Mars (and Mars is not a happy camper in Taurus) we have all the stubbornness of Mars/Sun set up against Moon/Saturn (plus Saturn/Deucalion) to contend with, a combination which denotes a very intense ‘discussion’ – be that framed as a choice, a realization, a feeling about some situation or some force being brought to you by someone who represents that Saturn/Moon (plus Saturn/Deucalion) against your wanting to stick with your current (Sun/Mars in Taurus) position.

Or maybe you’re the person bringing your Saturn/Moon ‘reflective determination’ to someone else’s entrenched position.

But there’s an interesting difference here. The Moon in Scorpio is the Moon in its sign of Fall. Mars in Taurus, on the other hand, is in the sign of its Detriment.

What’s the difference? It does sort of amount to the same thing, but fall being the opposite of rulership while detriment is the opposite of exaltation tells us more or less how this works. Rulership is where the sign and the quality of the planet are in synch. So the Moon is (first and foremost) our emotional self and that experiencing of emotions which causes us to reflect on life itself. That matches well with Cancer as the first of the zodiac’s water signs and the native sign of learning how emotions work as children do in the heart of a family or as we all do in general as part of a culture or inherited national tradition.

The Moon is exalted in Taurus, which means the optimal Taurean condition of self respect, self worth and physical security in life and in this world is a good setting in which to learn all our ‘Moon stuff.’

And here (interestingly enough) we have the Moon positioned in a sign Mars is co-ruler of (Scorpio) with Mars being positioned in Taurus, a sign the Moon is exalted in.

That describes discomfort. For most of us that will just be some measure of emotional discomfort or inconvenience. And like all Lunar Eclipses, this one really needs to be focal in your chart or you may not feel much of anything (though you may hear of someone else having a heck of a Lunar Eclipse time and really feel for them!).

So to use the vernacular, at it’s extreme this can be a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ sort of situation. Then again, it may just be a session of whipping up some favorite dish in the kitchen (with company on their way to your door) only to find half way through your demonstrating your culinary prowess to yourself that some important ingredient you were sure you had plenty of…well, you have practically none of.
What to do? Do you have time to go to the store? Do you have anything to substitute? Are you going to bite the head off your darling spouse who swore they checked but obviously didn’t – and if so, are you capable of smiling through the whole of the evening while your guests are there? 

The lore about 5 Scorpio speaks to a ‘dead end’ and blocked efforts which may indicate one of those ‘do we have to go into that again?’ sort of refusal to discuss something. Conversely, the lore about 5 Taurus is about contentment with what one has and with that being good enough to work with. So this is a moment which is about a clash of ambitions and drive against contentment and satisfaction. To the extent that you are happy with things as they are, you may not want to change. But do you need to? To the extent that you are not happy with things, what can you do to change them?

Any time we see an opposition of any sort (presented by an eclipse or not) we know the optimal solution is to embrace both ideas at once – which in this case is hard, as there’s quite a tug from both sides of the question, most of which can be summed up in the ideas of ‘deserving’ and ‘earning,’ both of which should be taken emotionally. That means that ‘earning’ can be about going to work to earn money, but it’s your feelings about working which apply here.

Also important: is the world (or life) static? Are things supposed to stay “as they have always been”? The obvious answer to that is ‘no.’ If it wasn’t, we’d all be still using oil lamps, parents wouldn’t be parents because…well, never mind having children, they wouldn’t have ever gotten married.

Obviously life evolves. The trick is understanding that it’s not just the parts of life that you want changed which end up evolving!

All this said, now we come to the kite. I mean…what’s a good eclipse without a planetary picture, right?
Okay…so here’s the kite which comes into play during this day – or even the couple of days surrounding April 25, 2013 at 7:58 in the evening UT/+0 time when said eclipse occurs:

Kites are always made up of two triangles – the upper one (Sun, Ceres and Neptune/Fomalhaut) which is ‘supported’…or which can be thought of as standing atop the ‘shoulders’ of the lower triangle, which here is composed of Moon/Saturn, Ceres and Neptune/Fomalhaut.

The bottom triangle is a grand trine. More to the point, it’s a grand trine in water, which says emotions and emotionality either can’t be avoided or is going to be entirely avoided. Which you encounter depends on which you come into this moment with as your status quo, as grand trines are all about ongoing energies which are difficult…almost impossible to disrupt, divert or otherwise change.

At least for the moment. Considering this grand trine involves the Moon, considering how the Moon moves one degree about every two hours, that means that at a point about ten hours after this eclipse the Moon will be exiting the five degree orb allowed for  conjunctions and trines.

Which means at that point (ten hours or so after the eclipse) this watery grand trine will be Saturn, Neptune/Fomalhaut, Ceres.

What’s the difference? That difference is emotional investment: Moon in Scorpio. So the eclipse may well represent a moment when emotions get invested…or withdrawn, depending.

What’s the rest of it mean? Saturn is durability…which in emotional terms would be enduring. Saturn is also structural, which in emotional terms is a commitment. To what? That depends. For some emotionality will be withdrawn because there is no ‘enduring commitment.’ With others there will be a commitment made or renewed. Or maybe ‘detoxified,’ since Scorpio is very big on rehabilitation of any kind of human messiness.
Neptune/Fomalhaut is pretty much a statement about ‘what’s right and true’ which gets balanced off against ‘what’s possible within the bounds of ethical and moral correctness?’

And Ceres? Ceres is having a plan. Do you know how to turn that handful of seeds into a bountiful harvest?

A lunar eclipse in progress

Again, since the Moon and Saturn are presented here in Scorpio, while this can be a moment to found something and move forward, there is also a possibility that what arises now is based on past (Moon-Saturn) commitments or emotional investments.

Even financial investments.

Or sexual commitments.

The top triangle is composed of one trine and two sextiles, the sextiles representing ‘support’ of the ultimate aim, which is here presented as Sun-Mars in early Taurus. Ordinarily we would simply say this is ‘my security in my values’ but because this is a lunar eclipse we have to toss in that emotional concept, which gives us ‘how I feel ABOUT my emotional security’ or ‘how I feel about how I have invested myself in some ‘defined version’ of emotional security.’ With Neptune/Fomalhaut and Ceres being the connectors between the upper ‘negotiating’ position (which may be a negotiation with yourself or others) and the lower grand trine in water signs, this would seem to make this lunar eclipse about the difference between what we want something to be and what it is. Or what we thought it was going to be and what it is.

Since 5 Scorpio and 5 Taurus occur in every chart even if they’re not highlighted by planets or whatnot, we will all see or feel or hear of this eclipse as it happens. And unlike Solar Eclipses, Lunar Eclipses are prompt. There’s no messing around – you’ll know that the issue is when the gong sounds.

But also unlike Solar Eclipses, Lunar Eclipses are ‘moments in time’ which we get past and move on from. Seldom is a Lunar Eclipse the actual game changer or life altering event – though the difference can be subtle. One good example here would be the proposal of marriage as opposed to the actual wedding. I’m sure many would argue that the proposal ‘changes everything’…but while it may change your feelings about the future of your feelings (which is about as lunar as it gets!) it is not the actual moment which changes your (solar) life in real time, real life, worldly and forever terms. That’s the wedding.

Lunar Eclipses start strong – sometimes it’s an emotional tsunami. But by the time three months passes, their import has been woven into the fabric of our lives.

Solar Eclipses are a whole different thing. And speaking of which, you do know we have one coming up, right? It’s on May 10th and it will be at 19 Taurus.

Anyone whose chart is aspected by both eclipses is in for a rollercoaster shift in their consciousness. And since this is the rare eclipse season which brings with it two Lunar Eclipses and one Solar Eclipse, check your chart for 4 Sagittarius as well.

One other note here: does your birthday fall within four or five days (either way) of this Lunar Eclipse? If it does, the whole of your year is going to be emotionally evocative. Provocative. Intense.

And yes, educational.

And for those of you whose birthdays are within four or five days of May 10th? You’re probably already feeling the effects of major shifts altering your life perspective, and we aren’t even at the Solar Eclipse yet!
Whether you’re a late April baby, a May baby, or just some wandering citizen of this world with a chart to call your own, this is an interesting moment in time – one to learn from, and hopefully to profit from.

Good luck!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mars in Taurus

Olympus Mons is the tallest mountain on Mars known to date. Photographed
here on October 19, 1998 by the Mars Global Surveyor, the mountain you're
looking at is three times higher than Everest and bigger than
the mountains of the Hawaii chain.
(photo credit: NASA, JPL)

All the symbolism about Mars concerns assertion. Mars refers to the energy of motivation and that urge which gets us doing – which is why it’s the ruler of Mars and ‘initiating’ co-ruler of Scorpio, the sign of where we take that ‘I want to be’ Mars-in-Aries idea out into the world and meet up with all the support and rejection and negotiating with life’s gatekeepers, whoever they may be.

And since Taurus is all about satisfaction and being satisfied, obviously there’s a bit of what one might call a “mismatch of modalities.” Mars being about the ‘doing’ and Taurus being more about a state of being and the essence of understanding what matters to us, Mars in Taurus is about pushing to have what we want.

That’s a state we call “dissatisfaction.” And yes, Mars in Taurus does tend to manifest as yearnings and frustrations because something isn’t going our way and a general state of ‘not good enough’-ness.

(No, that’s not a word, but we’ll go with it anyway!)

So as Mars shows up to the Taurus party on April 20th at 11:49 in the morning (UT/+0) time, we know we’re in for a period of time when good isn’t likely to feel good enough. And life being what life is, even if you go into this period feeling just ducky about things, something will come along to un-duck your duckiness.
(No, that’s not a word either. But we’re still going with it!)

Mars in Taurus, similar to Mars in the 2nd house of the horoscope (the 2nd being Taurus’ “native” house) motivates us to want more. What we will want more of generally depends on the sign on the cusp of your natal 2nd house (and the sign and placement of the planet ruling that cusp) --- or where Venus is, as Venus rules Taurus.

This ‘what rules what sign’ thing is actually how charts are tied together. Without creating these ‘daisy chains’ of rulerships, horoscopes are just a blood pressure over here and a temperature reading over there and a headache in a box on the table. (Not literally, but…)

In other words, jigsaw puzzles are great, and their individual pieces may be entertaining and yes, you can separate all the edge pieces out until the cows come home. (Or ask you to moooo-ve over.) But it’s the synthesis which counts. That magical thing that really good doctors, musicians, astrologers and others do which takes the ‘raw data’ or ability and turns it into something which illuminates life – that’s the synthesis that machines can’t do.

And under Mars in Taurus, it’s likely we’re going to feel a bit ‘machine-ish’ about something.

(No, that’s not a word either.)

Of course there are a couple of other ways Mars in Taurus tends to manifest. Since Mars is the ‘pedal to the metal’ symbol and Taurus is the ‘make me feel secure and satisfied’ there is a level at which Mars in Taurus becomes the drive to have what you want, when you want, as you like it.

Call it greed, call it selfishness, call it a case of the ‘gimme’s…that can indeed be Mars in Taurus. (Or yes, Mars in the natal 2nd.)

With Mars in Taurus, we will tend to see things from our own point of view. Taurus being a fixed (as in ‘anchored in concrete’) sort of sign, we will generally not be all hinky-dinky about changing our opinion, perspective, methodology or goal under this influence.

Furthermore, if you remember, our last little bloggery chat was about the Sun entering Taurus. So it’s pretty darn sure that the Sun and Mars are running in Taurean tandem.

Let’s see…that would be adding self-determination to desire…

You get the picture. 

And about that Venus thing…Venus is also in Taurus. So we’re about as full up on Taurus as we can get, give or take the Moon and Mercury. (And lest you think Mercury would miss out on a good Taurus party, you’re wrong! Mercury will enter Taurus on May 1st.)

Mars has an orbital cycle of 1.88 years. Do the math and stick in a slush fund for one-retrograde-per-orbital-cycle and you’ll come up with the fact that Mars tends to spend about six weeks in a sign – which is the case here, as Mars will be in Taurus until May 31st.

I bet you know what comes next. That’s right: the word ECLIPSE.

This is multo importante, this solar eclipse thing, since not only will Mars be in the sign of the solar eclipse when it happens, but it will be conjunct the eclipse itself.

Ah…you say.

Yes, ‘ouch,’ I reply.

Just to finish with the Venus thing before I move to the show-and-tell part of this chat…Venus will only be in Taurus until May 9th (UT/+0 time). And seeing that the Taurus Solar Eclipse is on May 10th, that means that the eclipse actually happens with Venus having bailed on the Taurus emphasis on tangible results in favor of the idea which will allow me to choose a produtive path.

And that's a distinct shift of gears, one which tells us that these weeks ahead which lead into the Taurus eclipse are sort of 'setting us up' for what we will learn and realize through whatever process the eclipse embodies.

You know - what part of our life is "being eclipsed."

Seeing as Mars will still be in Taurus through that time and indeed through the end of May, this means that we can expect a lot of 'input' and 'new perspectives' on what works, what doesn't work and what we need to do in order to become more effective.

Mars by Johann Baptist Straub (1772)
(photo credit: Rufus46, September 2008)
Sometimes I think the easiest way to see how these things work is to look at what's already in play - or how a transit has already worked out (or begun to work out). So...for that portion of our program, let’s think about events which have happened of late and how they apply to this whole lead-in (aka ‘breakdown’) period to the Solar Eclipse and all this Taurus energy.

Six to eight weeks prior to any Solar Eclipse, there starts to be a ‘shake up’ in areas pertaining to the Solar Eclipse. Call it a rustle of breeze in the trees prior to the hurricane showing up, call it a small rattle of your window as a foreshock rolls through prior to a giant earthquake…that’s what we expect to experience, and to hear about in daily doings.

As an astrologer, this is one of the big reasons why I pay particular attention to ‘themes’ which start popping up on the news during the month or two prior to an eclipse.

This year, what did we hear? Well, we heard about a lot of saber-rattling from North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Listening to it all with the dispassionate (Athena-like) perspective it takes to think in ‘research astrology terms,’ I though it was particularly interesting that the specifics here were war, dealing out death and nuclear power – all of which are distinctly Scorpio terms and thus in opposition to the incoming eclipse. 

This is the sound of an ego in search of validation. We often talk about Taurus as ‘worth versus self-worth’ and the fears we face and the risks we will or won’t take under Taurus’ polarity sign Scorpio because of our comfort with our own (Taurean) satisfaction – with self, that is.

I have no political solutions. But what this talks about is how damaging it is for anyone to feel so isolated and so impoverished, marginalized or undervalued by everyone else (or “the world”) that they need to make such grand gestures. History is full of periods when the rich ignore the poor and the powerful oppress or ignore those they think of as ‘less than’ until those supposedly ‘less than’ souls rise up and clobber the rich and allegedly powerful.

Pride goeth before the fall, as they say. (Yes, that's part of the Eclipse too, for reasons related to fixed star Menkar, which I'm warming up to discuss next week.) And we are sailing into waters in this moment where a lot of this is going to come out. We’ve seen one version of this – the rather astonishing and thoroughly heart-warming vision of a Pope (Francis) who apparently cares more about people than scripture. Who would’a thunk? Gosh…a man of the cloth who cares more about the lives of those he’s supposed to serve than life in a gilded papal apartment?

Pope Francis started his work and started showing us who he is in mid-March….about eight weeks prior to May’s solar eclipse.

But will he change the Vatican? And will Kim Jong Un realize that investing himself in being his nation's leader and that building a country which can earn respect in the world will earn him respect and 'worthy standing' without having to resort to threats?

That, we don't know. But both of these questions are very Taurus (and therefore both Mars in Taurus and Taurus Solar Eclipse) subjects. 

Maybe that helps in the Understanding Department.

Barely had April begun than we also got a slew of arrests and news notices about corruption of various forms. Not meaning to slight your homeland if you live somewhere other than the U.S., but it’s all I can do to keep up with news here.

And for good and not-so-good, it’s just like news everywhere.

Anyway…barely had April rung in its fools than there was a story splashed about arrests in New York with regards to political bribery. At the same time, we heard that the woman who had been overseeing the banking and investment sector at the federal level was leaving her job to…not shockingly…take a comfy and lucrative job in the banking and investment sector where she can now use all her contacts and understandings to help banks and investment firms evade the rules she was supposed to have stood for.

Oh yes – this would also be the woman who didn’t help put a bunch of Wall Street tycoons in jail for raping the world’s economy, but hey…small peanuts, right?

Then there was a story about an outgoing Governor of an eastern state allowing political PACs and campaign supporters to pay for his daughter’s lavish wedding. (Daughter dear evidently complied happily, but standing up for dad in the press.)

And there was that bucket of teachers and school administrators in…I think that’s Georgia (maybe the Carolinas) who were caught cheating and falsifying tests so they would look good and get bonuses.

All of this is very Taurus. It exhibits the Taurean drive to want to get where you want go get while showing us how blind one can become to standards of propriety, morality, ethics, decency – call it what you want – when Taurean (or Taurus/Scorpio) drives get really strong.

The atmosphere of Mars is seen here in this low orbit photograph
taken by the Viking Orbiter
(photo credit: NASA-JPL, 1976)

More importantly…that these people were ‘outed,’ (so to speak)(and yes, that is an accepted word) under the influence of the ‘lead-in’ or ‘breakdown’ period preceding the Taurus Solar Eclipse.

And now, with Mars entering Taurus, that energetic – the process of ‘bringing to the surface’ and reversing the ‘seen’ and ‘not seen’ which is so typical of Solar Eclipses, is going to be getting ramped up.

Knowing that Taurus is running in tandem with the Sun tells us that what we are aiming at…whether that’s peace with our Beloved, some financial goal, getting the kids to pick up their socks, getting five minutes to yourself…all those ‘aims’ are now going to become more intense – and more under scrutiny.

That’s just the nature of the time.

And no, we aren’t likely to want to budge. Or be moved by someone else’s rationale. Even very good rationales are likely to get shunted aside.

But then comes the judgment of Karma. Scorpio being the sign of Karma and Saturn being currently in retrograde in Scorpio gives is a clear indication that where others don’t ‘out’ us, we’re likely to ‘out’ ourselves. And that means that a lot of things which have been ‘brewing’ which have to do with what we’ve been doing because gee, golly-wiz, we just WANT to do them – those very issues are the ones most likely to blow up in our face.

The old psychological slogan fits here fine: when we choose the action, we choose the consequence. We live in consequential times, have you noticed?

At some level, a lot of us are undergoing some very tough lessons in reorienting our priorities. That’s the underlying concept here, and one which Mars in Taurus supports, horn, hoof and tail, providing we’re being constructive in a manner which is authentic not to some image of who we ‘think’ we are, but who we can be. So instead of going ‘for’ the ‘thing,’ Mars in Taurus really asks us to see what we lack and to go for whatever it is which will earn us that ‘thing.’ It’s about being the person who would earn the respect. Or be supported. Or be rich. Or be first in line for that promotion.

Mars in Taurus asks us to work (assertive action) ON ourselves – not in our own regard. Mars in Taurus is about building your life so that it attracts the results you want from life, from the world, from others.

I have a friend who lives over in the Middle East. We correspond here and there, and one of our central conversations – for some time now (when we’re not discussing ancient constellations…and no, he’s not an astrologer!) …we always come back to the idea of giving someone fish as opposed to teaching them how to be a fisherman.

Sometimes we need fish. If we’re starving, absolutely – being given what we need right in the moment to survive is an imperative. And for some, just understanding that difference between want and need is a huge, giant step. Anything which is about our ego is a want. Anything which is about basic survival is a need.

But once we’re past that crisis, then learning how to fish for ourselves should become our goal. This is the discussion of our times. It’s what you hear all the time in politics – the giving people what they need and where does need become want. Those on the ‘have’ side can afford to be philosophic. They can afford to dally and object.

Yes, we need to all learn now to fish. And part of Mars in Taurus is about motivating us to not want to have fish handed to us. It’s about wanting to have fish when you want it, yes – but knowing that fish goes bad when it just sits around.

My favorite line from the film ‘Hello, Dolly’ is this one: ‘Money is like manure…you need to sprinkle it around encouraging young things to grow.’  Enthusiastically exuded by Barbara Streisand with her long, lovely fingers all a-twiddle, she was the poor girl whose manipulations of the rich man wouldn’t have gotten her where she wanted to go if she wasn’t such a catch, such a dish, such a fabulous woman.

Walter Matthau and Barbara Streisand from the trailer for the 1969 film "Hello Dolly"

In the end, it’s who we are that counts. Mars in Taurus is all about the quality of our being-ness.
(Not a word, we’ll use it anyway!)

These next six weeks are going to be intense. But they’re also an incredible opportunity for those willing to take on the beast – their own inner, personal beast. We all have one of some kind, and they can all be directed for the betterment of who we are…and thus the flowering of who we are regarded as in this life, in this world, and in this universe.

And thus we arrive at satisfaction.