Saturn turns retrograde: The mentor at work

Saturn retrograde 2015
“Saturn” by Camille-Besneville

The planet Saturn governs restriction of all kinds – the sense of being blocked from your goals and dreams, the commitments that are required in order to establish a government, a corporation or a marriage.  Saturn can bring delays to our accomplishments and disappointments and failure.

Still, at the heart of the matter Saturn serves as a mentor.  When we want to improve our skills, we often hire a mentor or a teacher to help.  When we want to feel good about life and find big experiences to give our lives meaning, we go to Jupiter.  But if we want to apply ourselves in a serious manner to hone our craft, Saturn is a much better teacher.  A good teacher won’t pass us when our grades are failing, and will point out our faults so that we can improve.  This is not as enjoyable as a nice Jupiterian experience of superconfidence, but in the long run it helps to build strength and endurance and ultimately, a successful life in the physical plane.

Saturn turns retrograde today at nearly 5 degrees Sagittarius, and for the past month it has barely traveled a degree as it slowed down in preparation for its change of direction.  Saturn turns retrograde every year so this is not an unusual occurrence, but during this retrograde Saturn will pass back into Scorpio between June 14th and September 17th.  Because of Saturn’s role as a teacher (some call him the Lord of Karma), when Saturn appears to move backwards in the sky from our perspective he calls on us to clear up any messy situations that may still be lingering in the cosmos of our lives.  Unfinished situations often will blow up in our faces if not tended to, and this is particularly true when we are dealing with Saturn.  When Saturn retrogrades back into Scorpio we will be cleaning up situations of power imbalances, secrets and betrayals, emotional damage that we are holding onto.

While Saturn is retrograde it’s helpful to remember the importance of honoring our commitments and responsibilities, including (and maybe especially) those we make to ourselves.  It will be helpful now to look towards the past for information about how to better move into a more productive future.  Making plans and developing strategies are the kind of things that Saturn loves, so this is a good time for better organization and attention to the practical matters at hand.

 

Adventures with Uranus/Pluto: The vortex of the powerful cycle of change

Art by Ruysen Flores Venancino
Art by Ruysen Flores Venancino

In astrological language, the powerful planetary cycle involving a challenging square between Uranus and Pluto is culminating this week.  The fact that Mars is involved, needling Uranus into explosions where restriction has become untenable, and pressuring Pluto to effect its destructive influence and clear the decks completely, makes this week even more intense.

This is the first Uranus/Pluto event since the cycle began in 2011 when the planets came within a degree of the exact alignment, in which neither of the two planets are retrograde.  Retrograde planets tend to operate on a more internal level – they encourage us to look back into the past and re-visit experiences that need to be changed or altered for a more effective future.

The retrograde pattern has been a dance throughout the entire cycle, with Pluto retrograde alternating with Uranus retrograde.  In 2011 when Uranus and Pluto came within a degree of their exact square, they were both retrograde and there was an implosion of sorts as Uranus inspired a breaking out of the desire for liberation, and Pluto turned our attention inwards to the power of transformation within us.  From that point on, the alternating cycle meant that the focus of change shifted continually from our inner worlds to the outer manifestation of reality.  (During the first exact alignment in June 2012, Pluto was retrograde. In the second alignment in September 2012, Uranus was retrograde. In May 2013, Pluto was retrograde. In November 2013 Uranus was retrograde. in April 2014 Pluto was retrograde.)

There is a symbolic finality to the fact that the final alignment between these two giants includes both planets in direct motion – neither retrograde looking back at the past.  The vortex of the transformation of the past four years is behind us, but that does not mean that the change is complete.  In order for complete transformation to occur, there is first a breakdown phase followed by a rebuilding phase.

Many of us are still stunned by the intensity of what we have experienced during this period, and for some it will be a challenge to shed our old skins and awaken to the fact that we are in a brand new reality.  The old rules no longer apply, but the past is gone and no longer an option.   When we look back at periods of cataclysm in our life, we nearly always can recognize the great gift that these transformations offer us if we are paying attention.

Let us rejoice in the fact that we are guided by light, and every moment offers a new opportunity to experience the joy and bliss that comes from the divine spark inside each and everyone of us.

This Virgo Full Moon is a karmic trigger

Virgo Full MoonThe Full Moon on March 5 contains plenty of planetary punch!

The Sun is in Pisces now, opposite the Virgo Moon.  The Pisces/Virgo polarity involves a rebalancing of our need to attend to the details of our ordinary life (Virgo) with the longing of the soul to transcend details and experience a divine flow (Pisces).   The Moon itself reflects the changing urges of the soul, and in Virgo there is strong pressure to pay attention to the details that give our lives order.

At the Full Moon both the Sun and Moon interact with Chiron (opening up old wounds and precipitating their release), Saturn (creating a sense of isolation in our personal development), Uranus (opening a window for us to see new possibilities) and Pluto (intensifying the entire experience and offering great rewards if we confront our demons head-on).

Mars aligns with the Lunar South Node at the Full Moon, potentially triggering something to be released from the past.  Try to remember to pay close attention to events that occur on this day, as they may be rooted in an old karmic experience that you brought in with you that can be released now.

Relationships could be problematic under a conjunction of Venus (relating) to Uranus (rebellion), activating the Uranus/Pluto square as it prepares to culminate for the very last time.  This is a time to go your own way and speak with your own voice – anything less will result in trouble.  Still – with the Virgo Moon calling for temperance, balance and moderation will still be necessary.

Full Moons typically carry a strong energetic power, but this one is particularly strong.  It’s a time to release the past (Mars/South Node), take stock of the details of the present (Virgo), communicate our true and authentic self (Venus/Uranus & Pluto) and through it all, remain aware and conscious of the divine Flow that guides us.

Planetary Illuminations for March 2015 now posted

February astrology
Image from Deviant Art

The March Planetary Illuminations report is now posted and you can read it in its entirety here.  If you are on my mailing list you will soon receive a simplified version of the report which is in plain English and easy to understand.  If you’re not on my mailing list, please sign up in the sidebar!

There is a great deal of planetary excitement this month and here is the introduction to get you started.

The biggest planetary factor influencing our world today continues to be the challenging square (90 degree) aspect between Uranus and Pluto.  (If this is unfamiliar to you please read the summary in the sidebar for more details.)  Challenging aspects between Uranus and Pluto occur every 35 years or so, with the last one, the conjunction, occurring between 1962-1968.  The current cycle has included seven exact alignments and one additional alignment that was within a few degrees, beginning back in 2010.  It is this major cycle that has been the witness of so much revolutionary change and radical breakdown of power structures across the globe.

During the first two weeks of March Venus and Mars, both in Aries, “translate” the bigger Uranus/Pluto event.  The faster moving planets often trigger larger cycles into action, so I would expect this time period to erupt into conflict and bring any power structures that simmer below the surface into consciousness, both in the global political arena and in our personal lives as well.

We also see the second phase this month of a harmonious trine between Jupiter and Uranus, the two freedom and liberation planets, that peaks on March 3rd.  Jupiter provides expansive confidence, and Uranus excites the imagination and creates innovation and change.  This is usually a very positive aspect for breakthroughs of all kinds, especially in science and technology.  In our personal lives this aspect will call our attention to areas of our lives that require change or where we may feel that we are being blocked from being our authentic self (Uranus) and the desire for change and liberation will be expanded by Jupiter’s confidence.

Saturn turns retrograde in the middle of the month.  When a planet changes direction its movement slows down to a crawl as it prepares to retrograde, and this intensifies its influence.  This is particularly true if the planet is affecting a sensitive point in your own chart, but with Saturn changing direction we will be much more cognizant of the need to apply discipline and focus to every area of your life so that you can master the material realm which is Saturn’s domain.

 

The question of cusps and the 29th degree

sign cuspsIn response to a few questions I had from readers after other astrologers wrote about the New Moon being in Pisces, I thought it would be useful to discuss the idea of the “cusp.”  This is one of those concepts about which you can read a myriad of different opinions from very reputable astrologers.

The cusp idea comes mainly from the popular world of “sun sign astrology.”  Since the Sun doesn’t move from one sign to another on the same day every year in order to give readers an idea of which sign their birthdate fell in there was a need to find a way to describe those few days in which there could be some leeway between one sign or another as you can see in this image which put the cusp between Aquarius and Pisces as being between the 18th and 22nd of February.  For example, the Sun moved into Pisces last night right after the New Moon at 29 degrees Aquarius, the 18th of February.  But in 2012, the Sun moved into Pisces on the 19th of February.  Still, in the past 80 years the Sun has not moved into Pisces later than the 19th, so the idea that the Pisces cusp extends to the 22nd is not really valid.

Popular astrology columns often say that if you were born “on the cusp,” meaning in the few days before or after the day the Sun changed signs, that you have a dual influence as shown by the illustration above.  Astrologers reading birthcharts often extend the cusp idea to the nature of other planets and points, including the Ascendant and Midheaven angles.

What I have come to see in reading many charts over the years is that the last few degrees of a sign will start to bleed into the next sign.  I believe that this occurs because each sign reacts to and corrects the previous sign, so there is a sense of forward movement through the zodiac.  However, once the Sun or any other planet or point has moved into the next sign it resides fully in that sign and expresses fully the energies of that sign.  For example, Mars at the 27-29th degree of Aquarius will express the Aquarian attributes of detachment and fairness, but it will also begin to learn to surrender the Aquarian need to control and experience more of the Piscean trust and faith in divine wisdom.  In my experience this movement from the last degree of a sign into the next occurs with age and experience.

I see that many recent posts were calling this the New Moon in Aquarius/Pisces because of this cusp issue, and certainly the movement from Aquarius to Pisces was present as I wrote in my post.  However, the symbology of the 29th degree of Aquarius should not be lost as we blur the boundaries between the signs.  The 29th degree, sometimes called the “critical” or “anaretic” degree, is associated with the endings of cycles and new beginnings.  The word “anaretic” derives from “anareta,” which in medieval astrology signified the planet of death in the natal horoscope.  This is likely what has given the 29th degree such a bad rap in traditional astrology, although endings are actually the harbinger of new beginnings and not to be feared.

I love this symbology of the endings of the 29th degree combined with the New Moon.  There is a sense of sweeping away of the old and a fresh new beginning.  In any case there are now six planets and luminaries in the sign of Pisces, which makes this a time for creativity and spirituality and learning to find the flow, so in the end the Pisces influence is an important one after all.