As mentioned in previous articles, we are in the crux of a major dance of planets involving Saturn, Uranus, Pluto, and Jupiter. I covered the conjunction of Saturn and Pluto first, then added the "spice" of Uranian influence in part 2. Now we mix in the mellowing flavors of Jupiter.
At this point in the long line of major planetary aspects for 2020, we are in the midst of a strong degree of retrograde. Multiple simultaneous retrogrades always occur when superior planets are grouped together (superior meaning further from the Sun than Earth), as Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto are today. Whenever the Sun reaches approximately 120º (or trine) from a superior planet, that's when the planet's course reverses, either retrograde or direct again. When many superior planets are near to each other, as we have now with Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto, then those planets will all go retrograde at roughly the same time (distances from Earth play into the timing).
When so many beyond-Earth planets turn in reverse, we're looking at social and collective psychic forces taking a step back, going underground, hiding from plain sight. It's a time of potential confusion, conflicting reports, and unresolved conflicts. It's also a time of retooling, rebuilding and taking our attentions inward to find new solutions to old, or newly arisen, problems. Themes may recur that we thought were resolved but still need another look. As Laurence Hillman points out, we are deeply in a "yin" time, an inwardly reflective and potentially transformative process. This is especially true during this retrograde season, lasting into the Fall. We should not expect clear movement forward towards resolution of any of our pressing social issues for some time.
The world is struggling to cope with a pandemic that seems to have swept us into a universal feeling of great uncertainty almost overnight. A mere few weeks ago life was going along as "normal," plans were being made in expectation of no change to the status quo that have since had to be scrapped. For myself, my fiancé and I had to postpone our wedding for — who knows when?
The question I've been asking myself is, how can I, as an astrologer, contribute helpfully to all of us going through this? Being an astrologer comes with a number of challenges and expectations, but the greatest value of astrology comes through redefining our perspective on the moment. Dedication to their craft gives astrologers a unique insight into the overall picture of experience, both personal and collective. When we're good at what we do we offer a perspective that is uplifting and inspiring, helping people stay above the degenerative vortices of fear and despair, while validating that yes, in fact, this is a helluva difficult time for the evolution of the human race.
With that in mind, I'll do my best to give a contextual map for where we are astrologically, where we appear to be going, and why there is good reason for hope.
Five hundred years ago, during the year 1518 according to Wikipedia, one of humanity's darkest and cruelest endeavors, the transatlantic slave trade, began. In the United States, slavery was a legal and acceptable practice for roughly 250 years, outlawed now for only 150 years. While we see no legally sanctioned instances of slavery in the US today (or do we?), ongoing problems of racism are still prevalent, as we have hardly erased the stain of slavery's trauma on our nation's consciousness.
Just prior to that time, in November of 1517, the planet Saturn culminated its conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn, a conjunction that would last well into 1519. When we consider the archetypal nature of the relevant symbols — Saturn, Pluto and Capricorn — we can imagine a difficult dynamic of power and control, of superego wrestling with id for domination. Compulsion for order and unbridled passion merge and clash in supreme battle, giving rise to relentless pursuits of power. Saturn and Pluto together represent the lowest, as well as the highest, of possible collective human achievement, positive and negative modes of construction and destruction.
Today, Saturn and Pluto are again conjunct in Capricorn, having taken 500 years to return to the sign they were in when the tragic chapter of modern era slavery began. Using the techniques outlined by Richard Tarnas in his book Cosmos & Psyche (15º orb for outer planet quadrature alignments), the conjunction began in January 2018 and will continue through the end of 2021.
I was recently interviewed by ABC7 News to explain the meaning of Mercury Retrograde, from both an astronomical and astrological point of view. As the presenter (community journalist Jalyn Henderson) explains, people tend to get a bit excited or even freaked out when Mercury goes retrograde. But as I tend to explain to those who ask me — you can relax, this is not a bad thing.
On Valentine’s Day Mars made its entrance into Taurus, where it will remain until March 31. This planet and sign combo is a curious one, given Mars's tendency towards passionate action and Taurus's relaxed complacency. Mars in Taurus evokes aggression with relaxation, fast movement with rooted stubbornness, new frontiers with known environs. Fire finds its fuel from earth and roots down into solidity.
To understand this transit and the kinds of experiences and events it can correlate with, we might consider what happens when Mars, the god of war, takes a break from the bloody conflicts of Aries to revive and rejuvenate. His focus has shifted from fighting battles to a passionate deepening into a calm environment, taking in salves that help heal and erase the traumas of war. At other times Mars in Taurus asserts, or defends, for the sake of preservation, stability and comfort.
I was again interviewed on another podcast, Cosmic Keys. We had a fun and spirited discussion on astrology and finding meaning in life. Hosts Dan and Scarlet asked some great questions exploring the science of astrology and the poetry of discovering one's spiritual path.
I was recently interviewed on the Occult Power Hour podcast. We discussed many issues related to astrology and spirituality, and did some reading of the interviewers' charts. It's a great podcast about all things occult, spiritual and local to Chicago. Please check them out.
On September 21st I gave a talk on dual-sign and dual-planet rulerships for Friends of Astrology, an astrology group local to Chicago. My talk explores the implications of various forms of dual rulership, the reasons these rulerships exist and how we might discover rich treasures of meaning from a fuller understanding of planetary rulerships.
In his book Iron John, Robert Bly writes about the collapse of the mythological layer. He’s referring to our culture’s sacrifice of a truly living mythology for hard idealisms of pure reason and delusional attachments to unattainable glamor. We’ve lost touch with the invisible inner realm of gods and goddesses that the Egyptians, Greeks, native peoples and other ancient cultures knew quite well. From our centuries-long infatuation with science and factual knowledge to the exclusion of the mystical dream source of experience, we’ve piled intellectual boulders before the gates to heaven and left ourselves bereft of its wonders.
This leads to all manner of great anxieties and dysfunctions. A murderer does not know about the mythological layer and thus identifies with the dark spirit that passes through him and acts out its intentions. A man leaves his wife after falling in love with the wrong woman because he confuses the idealized goddess that briefly moves through her as the woman herself. A father terrorizes his children because his ignorance of his own mythology produces resentment at what he believes to be his life’s ruin. The child becomes an adult who has also learned nothing of mythology, so frets endlessly over her terrorized childhood because without a mythological context we can only remain trapped in victimization.
The Pisces New Moon occurs Saturday morning March 17th, 8:14am in Chicago. It features a square to Mars at the last degree of Sagittarius, which can reflect an uneasiness about the dissolution of whatever adventures we've been on as we need to begin the work of building upon what we've learned from them. As this New Moon is also conjunct Chiron and trine to Jupiter in Scorpio, the work we have to do is connected to healing our souls. It's a great time to begin or deepen practices of inner journey work, energy medicine, depth psychology.
Whatever opportunities life is bringing up for us, including any apparent chaos or challenge, we can find that a simple adherence to seeing them through yields a profound sense of transcendent guidance, a realization that a compassionate hand is always at play in our lives, seeking to help us secure our faith in a divine order that works for us so long as we accept it.
Hi, I'm Brian, the author of this blog and founder of Soulrise Astrology. I'm an astrologer, writer, musician and I work a day gig as a software developer in Chicago. Thanks for visiting my blog, if you like what you read please feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line.
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I took this photo early one morning on Lake Michigan in the Fall of 2011. I had intended to take a shot of the rising sun with the boat streaming by. Just as I was about to snap the photo a gull flew by and just happened to appear under the sun at the instant the photo was taken. I couldn't have planned it. I took this powerful synchronicity as a sign that I was in the right place, and this image has become a symbol for my work as an astrologer. The bird is like the soul carrying the light and power of Spirit (the sun) over the waters of emotion and change. May it inspire you to carry your inner light with the grace of flight.