Venus squared Neptune earlier today (Nov 20), the Sun squares Neptune on Nov 26, and Mercury squares Neptune on Nov 30. It could be challenging to stay grounded during these times. Fantasies, daydreams, idealism, mental distractions, and atmospheric disturbances may abound with these aspects. Yet intuitive, non-rational, inspirational, and mystical revelations of truth are also more available with these connections to Neptune. The challenge is to have discernment and discrimination. What is real? What is my psyche vs. someone else’s psyche? Boundaries are more blurred, which can be challenging but also a wonderful opportunity to access other dimensions and surrender to Divine intelligence. In the middle of these aspects, Mercury also conjuncts Saturn on Nov 25. This will encourage the capacity to focus the mind and take steps to manifest into tangible reality the perceptions that sift down during the squares to Neptune.
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.
As Mercury continues to move backwards, he converges with the Sun today and is fully absorbed into the Sun’s light. I have heard a couple of explanations about this that I really like. One is that when a planet is conjunct the Sun, it becomes purified by the heat and fire of the Sun. Since Mercury represents the mind, thoughts, and how we communicate, we can take this moment as an opportunity to consciously choose to place certain habitual thought forms or patterns of communication that are no longer serving us, into a symbolic sacred fire to be dissolved and burned away. The other explanation I like is that the conjunction with the Sun represents a significant moment to seed a new beginning. So after the fire there is a space, an opportunity for regeneration, and a freedom to create a new thought, a new idea, a new way of communicating that represents how we want to think and express ourselves moving forward into the future. The rest of the Mercury retrograde cycle (through Oct 25) can be an incubation period providing time for further research, development, and clarification for this new consciousness or intention.
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.
The next Mercury retrograde period is immanent (Oct 4th thru 25th), and we have been in the shadow period since Sep 13th. Mercury goes retrograde 3 to 4 times a year, so it is something to embrace! Yes, Mercury is a little mischievous, but there is nothing to fear or dread about Mercury appearing to go backwards for a few weeks! Having awareness of when it is and what it means, however, helps to either avoid those stereotypical mishaps associated with it, or have more patience and understanding about the message Mercury is trying to convey through those mishaps, when they do happen. If I were to try to briefly sum up my observations about Mercury retrograde it would be this:
Mercury retrograde gives us an opportunity to slow down and be more conscientious about how we are thinking, speaking, connecting, and interacting. Things that are said, heard, decided, bought, sold, created, or destroyed, etc. by you or those you are dealing with or relating to, during Mercury retrograde and possibly during the shadow period before it, will often need to be revisited and altered after Mercury goes direct. Knowing this makes all the difference. Read more...
So, for example, when you find yourself making an important decision, judgement, or purchase during Mercury retrograde, remember it might not be written in stone, as more information will often be revealed in the situation after Mercury goes direct, which may add to your perspective at that point. Regarding electronics, vehicles, and other equipment having problems during Mercury retrograde — Mercury is just the messenger. These problems were most likely developing for a long time under the surface and thanks to Mercury, they are now brought to your attention so you can deal with them.
In Mythology, where we glean much of our astrological symbolism from and apply it psychologically, Mercury is a complex archetype. He is not only associated with day-to-day things like commerce and communication, but he is also the only god who can travel freely between the worlds, transporting souls to and from the underworld, and the staff that he carries, the Caduceus, is a mystical symbol indeed…
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.
Today Mercury retrograde is conjunct the Sun: “Mercury is in the Heart of the Sun, symbolically in the throne room of the King. This is the ‘seed moment’ of the Mercury cycle — as the Earth, Mercury and the Sun all line up in a straight line. Thus, it is a wonderful time to set your intentions with respect to communications, movement, learning, teaching and any other Mercurial significations” (Gary Caton). This conjunction of Mercury with the Sun is near where the eclipse happened — once again highlighting the area of one’s chart where Scorpio lies, and showing a specific area of life and self where one can focus the intention. “I believe that if there is something you wish to achieve or master, it helps to sit down first and have an image of yourself already there” (Howard Sasportas)
Mercury is now direct as of 1:40am (eastern time) today (after 3.5 weeks retrograde). Things may progress forward now, though the day or two before and after Mercury changes directions can be a little hectic.
Mars has been through quite a process over the last several months. In Nov 2011, it entered its pre-retrograde shadow period while in the sign of Virgo ♍ — meaning: issues related to the masculine within, possibly issues with actual men in one’s life, the drive and energy to assert oneself, and the enthusiasm to go after what is desired — all these were bound to be slowed down and analyzed carefully, with some false starts and reconsiderations made through the retrograde phase (Jan 23-Apr 15, 2012). Then it was not until Jun 19th that Mars completed its post-retrograde shadow period. So in effect, after a long inward process of integrating all that has been learned and understood over the last several months, Mars is now for the first time since November moving forward full steam ahead, with greater clarity and preparation, ready to pioneer into fresh new territory.