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.
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.
The Sun entered Libra on 9/22 to stay for a month. In the progression through the zodiac, the transition from the Virgo archetype to the Libra one is a significant shift. The signs from Aries to Virgo represent a process of self-development primarily, whereas the signs from Libra to Pisces represent partnerships and social/worldly affairs. The theme of Virgo (the Virgin – keep in mind the ancient meaning of virgin was “a woman unto herself”) is about becoming more whole in oneself and by oneself. This process serves as underpinning for an association or partnering that may evolve out of it. The nature of the self-adjustments and self-improvements that occur in Virgo will play a determining role in the nature of the association or partnering that may form in Libra, the sign that follows. Virgo gives opportunities to prepare oneself to become as whole as possible before entering into partnership. Now as the Sun has entered Libra, consciousness may become more aware of inherent connections that exist and the sense of an innate unity with a certain other or others. Moreover, the natural propensity of Libra is to attempt to see life though the others perspective. This is a beautiful quality, often lacking in our world, but it can be overdone if it is to the point of losing track of ones own truth. That is why Balance, balance between self and other, is an ever important practice for Libra people and for all of us during Libra times.
The unfoldment process involving the Mars T-square with Uranus & Pluto
Since Mars was retrograde during the Spring of 2014, instead of moving steadily along through the signs, it stopped at about 28º Libra, turned around for awhile from Mar 1st to May 19th, and went back to 9º Libra. Then Mars turned direct at 9º and once again began moving forward through Libra. What this means is that Mars is going over a portion of Libra three times, creating an unfoldment process beginning the first time Mars came to 9º Libra on Dec 25, 2013 and completing around Jul 21, 2014 when Mars will reach 28º Libra for the last time in this cycle. Read more...
With Mars in Libra from Dec 2013 through July 2014, we are all experiencing a focus of Mars-like activity wherever Libra is in our natal chart. Mars is the epitome of rugged individualism, and the Mars archetype embodies desire with the will and force to take whatever actions are necessary to fulfill the desire. However, in the polite and courteous sign of Libra, the archetype of carefully weighing and balancing before taking any actions and thinking first of the other, Mars is discouraged from acting as decisively, directly, and autonomously as is natural for him. So along with going retrograde, which slowed down his drive, being in Libra has moderated Mar’s usual take charge nature. It will be interesting to see how things shift once Mars enters Scorpio on Jul 25th, one of his home signs, where he is more enabled to move in his own rhythm.
One of the most striking parts of this Mars retrograde process has been Mar’s involvement with the Cardinal Grand Cross and the longer term Uranus/Pluto square. Included in the unfoldment process from Dec 2013 thru Jul 2014 is Mars opposing Uranus from Libra three times and squaring Pluto from Libra three times. Mars in direct motion opposed Uranus the first time on Dec 25, 2013 and squared Pluto the first time on Dec 30, 2013. Then retrograde Mars opposed Uranus and squared Pluto both on Apr 23, 2014. After Mars turned direct again it squared Pluto the third time on Jun 14, 2014 and the third Mars opposite Uranus aspect is upon us on Jun 25th.
When a planet goes retrograde and makes the same aspect three times – first direct, then retrograde, then direct again – it represents a three part process. Sometimes the three part process works like this: the first direct hit wakes you up to an issue, the second retrograde hit triggers a profound review of the issue, and the third direct hit corresponds with the beginning of the resolution. This general concept can be helpful in contemplating one’s own three part process, however it isn’t always quite that neat or clear.
It is interesting to note one’s own internal unfoldment that began in Dec 2013 and which will conclude in July. Mars has been the zealous friend spurring Uranus on to make radical changes for the sake of greater freedom and authenticity, and spurring Pluto to destroy that which is causing stagnation for the purpose of making space for a deeper expression of self. The energy is high and possibly tense or volatile especially now as we lead up to the exact Mars opposite Uranus aspect early Wednesday morning, so caution is advised, while embracing those changes and transformations that reflect who you truly are now and what you truly want as of today, regardless of what others may think or want for you. Pluto is about jumping into the fire and facing your deepest fears and coming out the other side empowered. Uranus is about being true to your self. With Mars in Libra, perhaps the caveat is authenticity and honesty — yes, but not at the expense of the other — rather in connection with the other.
The energy has officially shifted. Dynamic, enterprising, and passionate Mars is direct after 2 ½ months (since March 1st) of being retrograde. When a planet is retrograde its associated qualities can seem subdued or suppressed, because the archetypal life of the planet changes from the usual outward manifestation to a more internalized expression, which may be difficult to see, understand, or access. Mars is most comfortable when he gets to play the superhero, warrior, pioneer, or all out go-getter. While retrograde and in Libra he was needing to be peaceful, reserved, and patient before taking action — and if he wasn’t he probably lost in battle. Now that Mars is direct all of that pent up energy is allowed to flow freely again. New ideas, desires, and opportunities may be appearing where there was a sense of stagnation or indecision before. It’s exciting and yet still very uncertain. Things are moving, but which way are they going? It may not be clear for a little while as Mars first has to retrace his steps before he actually moves into new territory. The Sun also just shifted from spending a month in slow and steady Taurus to now being in quick-moving and changeable Gemini, which is contributing to the new thought-forms popping up.
There is a quality of stillness or hesitancy right now, as Mars is stationary at 9º2 Libra May 18-21. Action-oriented Mars has slowed down to an almost imperceptible crawl as he prepares to shift and turn direct Monday night. On the other hand, when a planet stations, its energy is heightened and intensified, so some people may be experiencing the Mars station as an active and stimulating energy. Mars, who is normally confident, quick, decisive, and independent with strong determination to achieve his goals and win any battle, is going through an unusually long and possibly uncomfortable journey through Venus’s territory, Libra, from Dec 7, 2013 thru Jul 25, 2014. Libra is the sign that epitomizes the opposite of Mar’s nature. The Libran way values careful deliberation, cooperation, harmony, and balance. So with Mars in Libra and including a long retrograde phase, we’ve had an interesting journey over the last few months of integrating opposing forces. Some possibilities include: seeing the value of sitting with anger or other strong feelings or impulses instead of acting on them; or trying to express anger or our individualistic choices in a diplomatic and considerate way. These practices might feel as though they require superhuman strength at times, but while Mars is in Libra we are especially likely to benefit greatly from attempting them.
The timing of the 3 phases of this retrograde may be of interest: Read more...
The pre-retrograde shadow, from Dec 26, 2013 thru Mar 1, 2014 — Mars reached 9º of Libra the first time on Dec 26, 2013. Whatever was arising at that time may be arising again now, but from a different perspective — after the unfoldment of all that has taken place since then. The pre-retrograde shadow marks the beginning of a significant process that is to be addressed during the retrograde phase.
The retrograde phase, from Mar 1 thru May 19, 2014 – Mars began moving backwards from our visual perspective on Earth, on Mar 1st at 27º Libra. During the retrograde, some possibilities are: confusing and conflicted actions, feeling strongly thwarted, or in contrast feeling regret because of forceful energies that were not thwarted. Waiting, observing, and responding when necessary rather than initiating life changing actions are advised while Mars is retrograde.
The post retrograde shadow, from May 19 thru Jul 21, 2014 — Mars turns direct on May 19th so initiating important actions and decisions based on the wisdom that was gained during the retrograde period will have energy and support. However, although Mars will be direct, he is still in review mode and it will take some time to gain momentum and find resolutions.
Compassionate communication and Mars retrograde in Libra
Today I am beginning an 8 week course in Compassionate Communication (also known as Nonviolent Communication). This is something I’ve wanted to pursue a serious study of for awhile after reading books and trying to practice on my own (which proved difficult!). Everything lined up for me with this endeavor now while Mars is retrograde in Libra. How perfect! Why is the period when Mars is retrograde in Libra perfect for focusing on compassionate/non-violent communication? Firstly, because Libra rules the art of listening and speaking skillfully, diplomatically, and most importantly empathically — balancing awareness and sensitivity between self and other. This is challenging, to say the least, especially when strong emotions are triggered. Secondly, Mars rules self-assertion, leadership, and frankness, but also aggression and violence on the shadow side (every archetype has a shadow side). Mars retrograde on the other hand, supports holding aggression back, turning it within, contemplating it, and transmuting it. We all feel anger and aggression sometimes, which is often a surface layer over suppressed hurt or fear. To be able to express those deeper feelings and in a way that inspires giving and receiving from the heart, as opposed to creating more hurt feelings, anger, defensiveness, and chronic unmet needs in our relationships, is a great way to utilize the energy of Mars retrograde in Libra. I am happy for this opportunity.
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Love, support, empathy, kindness, rapport, harmony, and compatibility — these are words in Venus’s bible. Recently a thought came tumbling into my mind and I realized it was inspired by Venus and represents an important expression of her Libra archetype. Being in the Sun’s month-long stay in the sign of Libra, I am not surprised that Libran values are dominating my mind and heart. The Libra archetype makes the art of relationship a sacred temple.
I was listening to a conversation between two people where one was more interested in making his own point than in hearing and receiving the other person’s thoughts and feelings. I felt sad for both… We have all done it and been there, on both sides... When one is observing, it is easier to see how helpful it would be to the relationship, and to the precious sense of relatedness in the relationship — if we realized that effective communication, not to mention a feeling of communion, only happens through a balanced give and take of expression and reception: not just seeking to be heard, seen, and understood, oneself, but making the effort to hear, see, and sincerely understand the other person as well. This give and take must happen on both sides, or there develops a one-sidedness in which the person who does not feel heard and seen eventually retreats inside — for, on a deep but subtle level, it feels as though his existence is not being acknowledged. Read more...
This is a painful feeling, even if it is not perceived consciously. Ordinarily the conversation continues at this point, but at least one of the participants will feel, to a degree, frustrated and invisible. This creates distance and resentment, and the sense of union or camaraderie is diminished. When both people are more interested in making their own points without listening and acknowledging the other, the quality of the interaction degenerates even more and becomes like two young children, before they have developed the capacity to actually relate, not speaking with each other, but speaking at each other.
The practice of truly listening to another is more than simply hearing words and responding with one’s own ideas. Often we do hear and understand but fail to explicitly articulate in some way that we hear and understand. This small omission weakens the sense of connection in that moment. In addition, the ideas of the one vehemently trying to make his point without first acknowledging the other person, usually lose power and are often lost altogether. I would go on to say that the power of the ideas is lost because the sense of deep communion has ruptured. It takes, for instance, not just a nod from the listener, and not just a pause on the listeners part before talking about his own experience, but genuine interest. Then, the texture of the listeners responses will reflect nods, pauses, and relevent questions which indicate the listeners caring about what the speaker is expressing, but more important yet, the listeners caring about the speaker, himself.
With the Sun in Libra, there is the opportunity to experience being more keenly attuned to the other person. It is an excellent time to consciously practice ones capacity to take in what the other person is seeking to share and express — to hold it, dwell with it, feel it inside, and actively respond about it — before switching the commentary over to ones own experience, thoughts, or feelings. That is the key. The one who has been heard, seen, and understood has received a gift, and the sense of communion prospers. To mutually gift one another in this way is one of the treasures of Venus and her sign, Libra.
This one seemingly small communication practice is so powerful that it can make or break a relationship, and has the power to rescue a failing relationship. These Venusian communication skills are not automatic and they often feel counter-intuitive, but If we applied them, our relationships — personal, professional, civic, and global — would be benefited with more mutual understanding, love, peace and unity.
(The following is not comprehensive — just some observations. And it is important to recognize that no one is a pure archetype. The Sun sign holds a central place in the personality but other important factors in the birth chart — especially the rising sign, the Moon sign, and strongly placed planets — combine to make us each unique and complex.)
Aries ♈: to be held back from acting on an impulse, to be suppressed, to be prevented from expressing contentious and/or passionate energies, to be slowed down.
Taurus ♉: to be rushed, lack of financial or emotional security, to be deprived of touch, to be deprived of beautiful sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and textures.
Gemini ♊: boredom, lack of information, being “out of the loop” or cut off from communication, pressure to commit to one thing, having to stay still.
Cancer ♋: no one to nurture and protect, no one to be nurtured and protected by, thwarted from cultivating one’s “baby,” not having a safe and comfortable home.
Leo ♌: no loving audience, not being seen, not being appreciated, not being adored, not enough attention, cold-heartedness.
Virgo ♍: lack of attention to detail, skipped steps, orderless chaos, not adhering to thorough technique and “proper” procedure, lack of refinement, lack of purity.
Libra ♎: having to go it alone with no one to bounce off of, having to make a quick decision without being able to weigh the pros and cons, that which is unjust or unfair, insensitivity, lack of empathy, inconsideration, ugliness.
Scorpio ♏: superficiality, inauthenticity, feeling powerless, revealing vulnerability, failing to do one’s deep inner work, lack of emotional intimacy, lack of meaningful bonding.
Sagittarius ♐: the everyday routine with nothing exotic mixed in, lack of freedom, lack of access to philosophical perspectives, lack of ethics, narrow-mindedness, a life with no adventure.
Capricorn ♑: that which is unrealistic, inefficient, wasteful, impractical, or theoretical only; losing status, losing authority, lack of mastery, lack of having a respectful place in the world.
Aquarius ♒: conformity, exclusive hierarchical systems, social inequity, being confronted with ignorance, self-centeredness, or drama queens/kings.
Pisces ♓: the mundane details of life, no way to escape ordinary reality, lack of inspiration, lack of vision, lack of art, lack of feeling connected with the divine.