Venus turned retrograde in Aries yesterday. With Venus in the sign that is most opposite to her own intrinsic essence, this may stir up some discomfort. But it is an important and necessary phase of processing Venus-related things (partnerships, financial matters & comforts, beauty & aesthetics, etc) — that should prove to be clarifying and freeing.
Venus, known for her relationship-oriented, other-focused, ready-to-understand, ready-to-accommodate way of being is in the sign that is all about “me,” “my” own needs, what “I” want, and being true to “self.” The context of these opposites is an opportunity to find more inner wholeness.
Further, the nature of a retrograde cycle activates things from the past — under the surface resentments or unresolved issues — for the purpose of rousing out those undetected but simmering impediments to a clear and clean interrelationship, and making changes that need to be made. Depending on where you have Aries in your chart will reveal the area of life most affected by this retrograde process. With Mars also in Aries (Jan 28-Mar 9) there is a an extra quality of feistiness, self-interest, or conflict in that same area of your life.
Venus will back up into Pisces on Apr 2, which will have a different flavor for that part of the retrograde cycle. Venus in Pisces has more of a sense of unity and unconditional love, which would be a nice result of the resolution of old resentments. Then when Venus makes her final pass through Aries (Apr 28-Jun 6) moving in direct motion, things will be in a different place. Not stuck, but ready to go forth, which Aries likes to do!
“What about this year? It has been a struggle so far. Any ideas?”
I recently received this question on Facebook. At first I laughed because it is such a broad and big question, and I am far from having any answers. But if together we take a look at your chart and your life, we may see how the current planets and aspects are reflecting your experience, and that can be so helpful for finding the answers within…
I can offer a brief sketch of some general astrological themes for this year: The revolutionary energies of radical change and wrenching transformation that began a few years ago during the epic Uranus/Pluto square are getting triggered off this year by Jupiter in Libra. Additionally there is an emphasis on FIRE, and air feeding fire this year (with Saturn in Sagittarius, Uranus in Aries, Jupiter in Libra, the Nodes of the Moon preparing to enter Leo and Aquarius, with our first Leo eclipse tomorrow on Feb 10, and Venus and Mars both in Aries right now as well). So it makes sense that collectively we are seeing and feeling instantaneous flare-ups of high-spirited passion and energy, manifesting in all kinds of different ways.
I have a lot of fire and air in my natal chart so I am used to intense energies within myself zooming to the surface for expression. For balance I look to and learn from my more earth and water friends. They are not instantaneous in their reactions. When I am able to slow down my responses, and try to really listen, and pause before speaking — it is miraculous. Taking it a step further is listening for the feelings and needs underneath whatever we are hearing or seeing, that might seem irritating, disturbing, frightening, or enraging… When we can bring mindfulness, inquiry, empathy, understanding, compassion, and presence to whatever is arising within or around us — it is a nourishing tonic for this fiery year, with the potential to offer deep and healing solace. I am needing to review my Non-Violent Communication books and I am loving listening to Tara Brach’s podcasts. She continually reminds people to ask, “What is it like to be you?” When we ask this we automatically become an ally, especially to marginalized and vulnerable others (“What is it like to be you?”), or especially to people with whom we vehemently disagree (“What is it like to be you?”), and often most importantly to ourselves (“What is it like to be me, in this moment?”).
Mercury retrograde in Libra, Lunar eclipse in Aries
We’re past the halfway point of this Mercury retrograde (Sep 17-Oct 9), and so I have a few observations (The deepest learning of astrology comes through observation). Like all Mercury retrograde cycles this one is providing opportunities to revisit and reconnect with projects and relationships from the past, review misunderstandings or mistakes, and move towards resolving old issues. Since this Mercury retrograde takes place fully in the sign of Libra, the revisits may revolve around Libran values, such as interpersonal relating, empathy, and understanding the feelings and needs of both sides of any difference or conflict. Depending on the house of your birth chart where you have Libra will determine more specifically the types of things you may be reworking during this Mercury retrograde period.
Meanwhile the Lunar eclipse on Sep 27th was an interesting counterbalance occurring in the opposite sign of Aries. A Full Moon is always the peak, climax, or crisis point of the lunar month, but the addition of an eclipse takes it to a more intense level. Even though the deeper significations of an eclipse take place over a period of months (before and after the exact date of the eclipse), the day of the eclipse itself can certainly be telling too. I knew of three people who had this eclipse tightly conjunct one of their Aries planets, and they were all sick during the few days around the eclipse. Since this was an eclipse occurring near the South node of the Moon, it suggests a time of letting go. For those who were sick, I’m interpreting this as a detoxification process. But more generally this eclipse could be seen as a detoxification process for all of us in whatever part of our natal chart where we have Aries. I have Aries in my 7th house of one-to-one relationships, and right around the time of the eclipse, I had fleeting but important differences to attend to with a few people I connect with in a one-to-one way. Each one involved letting go of old thought forms or patterns. The fact that it was a Full Moon, an eclipse, and being in the fiery, impulsive, assertive sign of Aries added a higher degree of emotionality than might otherwise be present.
How did this eclipse play out for you? It’s always fruitful to note these things, in the same way it is fruitful to remember and explore the meanings of one’s dreams. These practices help us along the path towards greater self-knowledge and self-mastery.
During Mercury’s apparent travel backwards, at the midpoint of the retrograde phase, is a special moment when Mercury meets up with the Sun. This occurred on Sep 30th. It can be thought of as Mercury’s New Moon so to speak, the beginning point of a new Mercury cycle. Things are sown, either consciously or unconsciously, at this conjunction, so you can note what occurred on that day — ideas, discussions, events, or flashes or urges for a new and different way. It is an inception point, though it may not be clear just how those things will grow up and expand until after Mercury goes direct.
A tense square forms between Jupiter and Saturn a few times between 2014 and 2016. Ever since Jupiter entered Leo in July of 2014, it has been squaring Saturn in Scorpio by sign, but this morning the aspect reached a climax (at 28º Leo and 28º Scorpio). Regarding one area of life (where you have Leo in your chart, Jupiter is transiting) you may be feeling expansive, joyful, and even triumphant. Things have worked out well over the past year. There have been some amazing shifts and gains. You have reason to feel optimistic as you progress. But even as you are celebrating that within yourself, your mind may gravitate to another area of life (where you have Scorpio in your chart, Saturn is transiting) where you may be feeling fearful or needing to face a harsh reality. Here you may need to reign yourself in, accept certain failures, losses, or difficulties, and move forward with caution. The contrast between these two areas of life has been present for awhile, but today it is stark!
As I reflect on this, I am feeling just as grateful for the hardship associated with Saturn as I am for the good luck associated with Jupiter. Although Jupiter may have a great time, for awhile — without Saturn’s sobering down-to-earth self-command, eventually the potential for foolishness, naivete, or arrogance unchecked can cost a heavy price. Saturn takes the long view and in his own way is a great protector. It may seem a bit pessimistic compared to Jupiter’s supreme confidence. But realistic Saturn is looking out for present pitfalls and future dangers — urging us to prepare and work harder with an ever present awareness of the fragility of life and our inevitable mortality. During the square between Jupiter and Saturn we are asked to embrace both optimism and caution at the same time. The friction between the expansive Jupitarian archetype and the contractive Saturnian archetype generates a powerful force pushing us towards greater wholeness. The combination is a blessing conferring circumstances in which we learn wise action and balanced growth.
Before the Sun leaves Cancer and enters Leo tonight, I want to be with the Cancer archetype a little. Some images associated with Cancer, such as the turtle (who carries its home on its back) and the great mother — are all about the nurturing, safety, and comfort we associate with the sweetness of feeling at home. Having a place to call home — where we don’t have to be “on,” where we can gently remove any personas and just be — is so utterly important and basic to a solid sense of well-being that sometimes we take it for granted. Any success “out there” is dependent on having a place to come from and return to for rest and rejuvenation. A given sign of the zodiac follows the sign before it and grows out of it, is its fulfillment and completion in a sense, and produces a wholeness-making circle of the 12 signs. So Leo, which follows Cancer, is able to walk out all shiny and ready for creative self-expression after Cancer has taken care of basic needs and created a stable home from which to emerge.
“I feel for myself that being at home happens whenever I enter into the vibration of feeling completely, 100% invited to be what I am, to feel what I am, to abide in the sense of safety and wholeness in whatever is being experienced. An unconditional acceptance that I belong, I am loved. I am held.” ~Ari Moshe
Today an astrology friend mentioned to me her observation about the current Mercury retrograde: “It seems like I have to go backward rather than being able to go forward with my plans. But when I really look at it I see that all the stuff that comes up does serve my plans from a larger perspective… Just not the ones I had at the top of my most current to do list.” This is a helpful way to perceive the classic delays or needed repairs that occur during Mercury retrograde.
My experience with this Mercury retrograde is the uncanniness of how unresolved issues from the past pop up like clockwork during Mercury’s retrograde phase. Especially when it is something that was initiated during a previous Mercury retrograde cycle. It seems it will forevermore come up in subsequent Mercury retrogrades, in hopes of resolution! Yet in many circumstances it may be that a final resolution will be impossible until a resolution is reached while Mercury is direct and not retrograde. Remembering this can help when patience for things to be resolved is needed. Because even if it is resolved during Mercury retrograde it may not *really* be resolved, so might as well sit tight and peacefully wait for that desired resolution until after Mercury turns direct!
Likewise, I am once again observing that if a decision is made during the shadow phase, which started on May 4th this time, I should be prepared that it may not be as final as it seems. The issue will probably surface again for review during the retrograde phase, and the decision may even appear to move in the reverse direction (appropriate symbolism for a retrograde planet). Further reviews may occur in the post-retrograde shadow phase. However when a decision is come to after Mercury is direct, it has usually gone through the necessary back and forth process and will actually be final.
The same astrology friend as mentioned above said another telling thing that reflects this back and forth process of a retrograde planet: “It was like ironing. I had to go back and forth till I got the thing ironed out.”
We had a Solar Eclipse New Moon on Mar 20th and there is a Lunar Eclipse Full Moon tomorrow morning (Apr 4th). This Lunar Eclipse (at 14º Libra) is tightly connected with the last exact Uranus/Pluto square, which though ebbing is still very active. So this Eclipse may correlate with moving in the direction of closure regarding the transformative process of internal and external restructuring that took place over the last three years.
The time around eclipses, and especially between a set of eclipses, can be highly charged for many (depending on how it is interacting with your birth chart), because eclipses have a way of bringing things up to the surface, which were previously only brewing in the unconscious. Once in plain view often something must be done or at least seen and accepted as a reality. In this way eclipses necessitate actions and attitudes that usher in needed change. But even positive change can be tumultuous or scary.
As always a Full Moon brings awareness or clarity (though often not until a day or two after the exact Full Moon) as it sheds light where there was darkness (the unknown) before. Also, Full Moons and Lunar Eclipses embody a polarization of some sort as the Sun and Moon are in direct opposition to one another. This opposition between two poles may be felt as an internal tension or experienced with an external person or situation. This eclipse is near the North node, so wherever Libra is in your birth chart, is where something new will be learned, assimilated, integrated, or received.
On Friday (3/20) there will be a Solar Eclipse New Moon, and it is the Spring Equinox marking the astrological new year. Along with the Sun transitioning to Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, the Moon will also enter Aries on Friday. Together this may feel like an extra powerful new beginning in the air. However shortly before this transition, the eclipse and the New Moon will be at the very last degree of Pisces, suggesting the experience of significant endings along with the bounding new beginnings. Additionally this eclipse is aligned with the South Node, which suggests we are letting go of something... Eclipses are associated with big shifts and transitions if they are closely aspecting one’s chart, and they are often felt ahead of time. I like the description of eclipses as a doorway or portal opening up, allowing us to step into a new experience. Along with the last exact Uranus/Pluto square on Monday (3/16) at 15º Aries and Capricorn, this is a moment of culmination — and a time of large scale transformation and change (which could potentially feel like both a crisis and a breakthrough) for many people.
We are in a new lunar cycle (The New Moon was yesterday on Jan 20th in Aquarius). The New Moon is about bravely stepping into the unknown to begin something new. The Moon is dark and the night is dark, with no light illuminating the way ahead. Correspondingly, we cannot see exactly how the new terrain in the journey, with its challenges, endeavors and developments, will unfold. We don’t have all the information yet, and we don’t know precisely what will happen. And that is as it should be – we just have to be ok with it! All we know now is that we must take the first step to begin the process. Over the next couple of weeks things will develop (possibly with some delays due to Mercury retrograde), and on the Full Moon on February 3rd, more will be clear. It never fails. The light of the Full Moon always brings some bit of new clarity or information which was not there before.
Mercury is preparing to turn retrograde Jan 21st—Feb 11th, and we are already in the shadow period. Mercury retrograde can be thought of as a time when Mercury takes a break from normal duties and goes on a little vacation. This is often considered a frustration for people, but in actuality it is meant to give all of us a vacation of sorts. The pre-retrograde shadow period from Jan 5th—Jan 20th is a built in span of time that can help us prepare mentally and take some practical steps to get ready for this type of vacation. Read more...
Here are a few examples of the ways in which we can try to flow harmoniously with Mercury’s holiday. Mercury retrograde can be a vacation from making big decisions, since one may not have all the pertinent information and clarity until after Mercury turns direct. Or it can be a vacation from shopping for anything beyond day-to-day necessities, since one may be a bit more blurry on details and relevant factors when considering the options presented. And it certainly can be a vacation from jumping to conclusions or assumptions about what someone said or meant, as it will be revealed in time, but perhaps not fully during the retrograde period.
Taking a break from things like this creates room for what Mercury retrograde is actually for: introspection, introversion, slowing down the pace, reviewing the past, clearing up or fixing things from the past, pondering, mulling things over, and sleeping on it, etc. The delays that are often associated with Mercury retrograde can be seen as beneficial and helpful in allowing the type of spaciousness that is needed to balance the habitual go go go energy of typical daily life.