Sunday, January 22, 2012
I meant to make this lunar month’s article be about something lofty. For instance, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Age of Separation and the notion that human culture is perhaps poised now to experience a Great Turning towards connection and interbeing (See Joanna Macy). I meant to write about this, but what I am noticing is frustration and extreme crankiness, which is distracting me. In the spirit of paying attention to what is present as a guide to what can become, I will write instead about Mars.
It’s funny, or perhaps not so funny, how little emotions like crankiness and frustration can move us off track of our grand intentions. Astrology lets me look for these “little things,” like Mars going retrograde and gives me a story that puts it all in context. Logic tells me that such a little thing as Mars changing apparent motion should not have a big impact on life direction, deeply-held beliefs, or a sense of meaning, but if we are feeling fragile or if we can’t allow ourselves a little slack, a small thing can topple a big structure.
I am reminded that the Tarot card that corresponds to Mars is The Tower. This card usually shows a large structure being hit by lightening and falling down. The message: It is time to allow structures to crumble; they no longer serve their function. Anger and frustration—Mars territory—are a signal that I am spending way too much energy maintaining out-dated structures. I appreciate anger as a teacher. This emotion arises when I am sleeping through something I should be awake for. Often, I am surprised by my own anger. I need wake up calls. Mars steps up. It isn’t that I think anger is a good thing, but it does help me know a structure needs to shift.
I offer this to those readers who may also be feeling the cranky effects of Mars stationing retrograde on the same day that this New Moon cycle begins. You might be holding on too tightly to something that no longer serves.
This new moon is in Aquarius. This fixed air sign demands freedom, space, and new possibilities. Where do you feel shackled? It is time to breathe in the air of change and liberation. Perhaps a Tower in your life will crumble and bring you freedom. On the other hand, perhaps the nature of Mars turning retrograde—our wills slowing down and moving inward—will frustrate your attempts to embrace the freedom you are longing for. Pay attention: This is a mere stage in the transformation, not an indication that our desires are wrong. I often get confused about this important distinction. Setbacks are not signs that I should quit. We might feel a lot of setbacks as Mars spends the next nearly three months going backwards.
Mars is in Virgo for this retrograde. This sign colors our experiences with this transit. If there was ever a sign that felt it could figure everything out and set it into perfect order, that would be Virgo. This is a set-up for extreme frustration. Life is messy, yet the Mars in Virgo desire is to find a way to make it whole and beautiful, even in its chaos. This is a wonderful intention for the next few months: To stay engaged with making things better even as I release control over the details of manifesting perfection. Every sign contains a paradox. Virgo’s paradox is to endeavor always for perfection even as we realize that perfection is never possible. This is a hard truth to be married to, as Virgos are. Let’s try to forgive ourselves for crankiness and learn to practice the other trait that many Virgos have mastered: an amazing sense of humor.
Virgo is ruled by Mercury—the planet of mental energy and resourcefulness—and so Mercury’s movements will impact our experiences of this Mars retrograde. Mercury is busy this month. On the day of the New Moon, Mercury is trine Mars. This is a good sign, as trines are harmonious alliances between signs of the same element. In this case, earth is emphasized. Earth helps with manifestation and paying attention to the here and now. Perhaps we can think of this aspect between Mercury and Mars as a secret pact—even as we experience frustrations, setbacks, and crumbling towers, we can rest assured that in the end we will have something solid to show for it.
Mercury’s tricky moves. Mercury is a fox jumbling up his tracks to keep the hunter confused. It isn’t easy to follow all the paths this planet makes. However, here is a stab at what he might be up to this lunar month. A few days after the New Moon, Mercury squares a stationary Saturn. This is ponderous energy. We can notice how strongly we are attached to getting our ideas across. It may feel like an impossibility. Right afterwards, Mercury enters Aquarius where ideas and visions explode. Mercury is also sextile to Uranus—the ruler of Aquarius—which will foster ideas and insights. Saturn contributes discipline; Uranus contributes visionary illuminations. This could be quite fun. However, there is another stressor: Mercury is also squared to Jupiter. When these two planets connect by this aspect, it is hard to keep our ideas and loose words contained. We want to broadcast our brilliant insights. We need to talk it out. If anything, towers of relationship might crumble this week as we say what we really think and find ourselves having to deal with the fallout.
On the Full Moon, Mercury joins with the Sun exactly. When a planet conjoins the Sun, it is being infused with solar light. This solar light is all about the gifts of Aquarius. In Aquarius, Mercury displays an eagerness to invent, share vision, and question assumptions. There is a stress between Mercury and Mars at this time in the form of a quincunx aspect. This aspect stretches our abilities to understand. Eventually, we surrender to paradox, and these contrary truths create enlightenment. Both Virgo and Aquarius want to tinker with the status quo. Both signs are very inventive. However, they have very different approaches. Aquarius looks for sweeping, global change through visionary revolution. Virgo achieves revolution in persistently managing the details. It is easy to forget these two signs are on the same side. We may also forget to appreciate who our true allies are as we get distracted by methods over intentions.
Right before leaving Aquarius, Mercury makes a harmonious connection to Saturn through a trine. This Saturn is still stationary and still ponderous, but now Mercury is helping us to move past the places we were stuck and towards finding solutions. And then, Mercury dives into Pisces. There is a distinct shift at this time from thoughts to feelings. Mercury also joins Neptune at 0 degrees Pisces, further intensifying the contrast between the first part of the lunar month and last part. The emphasis on Pisces is an important part of Mars retrograde since Pisces is the opposite sign to Virgo. Oppositions create perspective and invite us to wholly understand.
Interestingly enough, this gets me back to what I intended to write about in the first place: the Great Turning from an age of separation to an age of interbeing. Neptune’s entry into Pisces (enhanced by Mercury and Mars) is a chance for us to remember that we are not separate, disconnected beings, but that we are interdependent in ways that we have mostly forgotten yet are beginning to remember more and more. In a small way, Mercury’s entry into Pisces this month shows us how to remember our connections. As this lunar month winds down, Mercury joins with Chiron in Pisces and makes a sextile to Jupiter. Through compassion and acknowledging the pain that interconnected awareness brings up for us, we learn that we matter to each other in profound ways. Mercury’s last aspect of this lunar month is a sextile to Pluto. I can’t help but notice that this aspect powerfully supports the exact conjunction between the Sun in Pisces and Neptune also occurring.
At this New Moon, as Mars is stationing retrograde, I am noticing my crankiness. Part of me is ready for the big transition into interbeing and part of me isn’t so sure I can let my old towers fall—the strongest contrast being that Mars is earnestly trying to figure out the details while my heart is ready to soar. The continuum of consciousness between Virgo of the humble earth and Pisces of the cosmic ocean is vast. I’m reminded of Walt Whitman’s poem: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” Mars reminds me it isn’t easy getting from here to the next place. I’m glad I have guides along the way.
Transits important to these themes. *
January 23 Mercury 23° Capricorn trines Mars 23° Virgo
January 23 Mars stations retrograde 23° Virgo
January 27 Mercury 29° Capricorn squares Saturn 29° Libra
January 27 Mercury enters Aquarius
January 28 Mercury 1° Aquarius sextiles Uranus 1° Aries
January 28 Mercury 2° Aquarius square Jupiter 2° Taurus
February 1 Venus 22° Pisces opposes Mars 22° Virgo
February 3 Neptune enters Pisces
February 7 Full Moon at 18° Leo
February 7 Sun conjunct Mercury at 17° Aquarius
February 7 Saturn stations retrograde 29° Libra
February 9 Mercury 21° Aquarius quincunx Mars 21° Virgo
February 10 Sun 21° Aquarius quincunx Mars 21° Virgo
February 13 Mercury 29° Aquarius trine Saturn 29° Libra
February 14 Mercury enters Pisces
February 14 Mercury conjunct Neptune 0° Pisces
February 16 Mercury conjunct Chiron at 4° Pisces
February 16 Mercury 4° Pisces sextile Jupiter 4° Taurus
February 19 Mercury 8° Pisces sextile Pluto 8° Capricorn
February 19 Sun conjunct Neptune 0° Pisces
*These dates are not a complete list of transits for the month, but rather are times when the themes of these stories are stronger. Each aspect between planets carries its own energy of harmony or conflict. These shifting relationships create the plotlines of our stories. These are:
Conjunction – merging
Sextile – encouraging
Square – challenging
Trine – harmonizing
Quincunx – perplexing
Opposition – balancing