27 December 2010

Mercury Retrograde - Again

So here we are again at the end of a Mercury retrograde cycle, and this one seems to have been particularly fierce for some. There are at least a  few reasons for this:

  • Mercury is retrograde
  • Mercury is in Sagittarius for most of this retrograde, where he is debilitated
  • Mercury was combust (as it always is during part of the retrograde)
  • Mercury squared Jupiter during this retrograde
Mercury retrograde is a debility, but traditionally, it is not nearly as bad as combustion, where a planet is within 7-8 degrees from the Sun. The idea here is that the Sun burns up the energy of whatever that planet is, making it pretty worthless. The exception to this is when the planet is only 17' of arc (about a quarter of a degree) from the heart of the Sun; no one seems to explain why, but I suspect that here the idea is that the Sun adds its energy to that of the planet, since they are in perfect alignment. This is considered a major dignity. Along with combustion is the designation "under the Sun's beams" which extends from about 8 degrees to about 15 degrees from the Sun. This is also a debility, as the planet is either moving toward or just moving out of combustion.
Though Mercury started the retrograde at 5 Capricorn, it has spent most of it in Sagittarius, which is opposite his own sign of Gemini. A planet opposite its own sign is like being in the enemy's territory and is considered a major debility.
Finally, for a few days, Mercury squared Jupiter, which is the planet that rules Sagittarius, the sign Mercury is in right now. While squaring Jupiter is not usually considered that difficult an aspect, Mercury and Jupiter are in many ways opposites. Mercury is cold and dry and is about distinguishing details, while Jupiter is warm and wet and is about growing and seeing the big picture. This is partly the reason why Mercury is debilitated in both of Jupiter's signs (Sagittarius and Pisces).
So there are a lot of factors this time making this a nasty cycle, but not for everyone. See my previous two posts for why this may be so. 1   2   

I also wrote last year on the "shadow" period that most modern astrologers buy into. As I point out, this is a completely modern invention with no basis in Traditional astrology. If there are any effects left after Mercury (or any other planet) goes direct, it has nothing to do with the "shadow" and is simply because of events that happened during the retrograde which may still be playing out (e.g. the photocopier broke but hasn't yet been fixed).
In this particular cycle, it's helpful to remember that Mercury is still in Sagittarius, where he is debilitated, until January 13. So while there may still be some Mercury issues going on, most of it is probably attributable to this, rather than any imagined shadow period. 

So chin up, all you victims of Mercury! The retrograde is coming to an end.

20 December 2010

Full Moon Solstice

So for the record, the height of the Full Moon is on Tuesday at 3:13 am ET. This is a Full Moon eclipse at the end of Gemini.

Immediately upon reaching this point, the Moon goes "void of course." This is an ancient term which simply means that from that moment until the Moon enters the next sign, it will make no classical aspects to any planet. That is, it will not conjunct, oppose, square, trine, or sextile any other planet. When the Moon is void, the traditional interpretation is that whatever is begun during that time will come to nothing. This is why, for those of you who follow my tweets (twitter/astroharp), you will see me usually encourage you not to begin any important projects during a Void of Course Moon.

(There are a few exceptions to this: the Moon is never void in Cancer or Taurus - the Moon's own signs of rulership and exaltation - or in Sagittarius or Pisces - Jupiter's signs.)

The Moon will enter Cancer just over an hour later at 4:22am ET. So if you are planning to do any Moon magic, you will need to complete it before 3:13 am, or wait until after 4:22. By then, however, the Moon will be waning. So if you have some powerful waning Moon magic to do, now would be the time. The Solstice occurs at 6:38pm ET, so that time from when the Moon enters Cancer through the rest of the afternoon is perfect for any sort of dark or releasing magic one is working. This would include binding, banishing, getting rid of bad habits, and so forth.

Again however, as I hinted in my previous two posts, I encourage you to essentially use the Full Moon eclipse and the Solstice as separate events, even though they occur very close together this year. The two energies may have the potential to charge up each other, creating a generally higher-energy time. However, because of the way that these fall, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to combine them into one sort of cosmic super-event. Work with the Moon's energy, or work with the Sun's (solstice), or work with them both separately. But don't try to create a cosmic goulash or jambalaya of this. It may leave a bad taste in your mouth.

18 December 2010

Solstice Eclipse of December 2010 - Part 2

Continuing from the previous post, let's look at the Solstice. As most people know, the Solstice marks the beginning of a new season, either the summer or the winter, depending on whether it's June or December, and whether you are in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere. Tropical astrology, the kind of astrology practiced in much of the world other than in India, is linked to the relationship between the Sun and the Earth, and therefore to the seasons. So the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is also by definition the moment that the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn. It's also the moment when the Sun is lined up with the Tropic of Capricorn, which is about 23 degrees south of the equator.

Traditionally, when the Sun goes into one of the cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) is the time to cast the chart for a country and make predictions based upon that chart. However, there were conditions here. The astrologer starts with casting the first chart of the year at Aries, the Spring equinox. Depending on which quadrant of the chart the Sun falls in, this might be enough for the whole year. For example, if the Sun falls in the bottom left quadrant of the chart, the main action will occur soon, and one would then need to cast a new chart at the Cancer Solstice. If the Sun appeared in the second quadrant (top left), then the chart was good for 6 months, and then one would cast the next chart for the Libra ingress (fall equinox). If the Sun fell in the right half of the chart (the third and/or fourth quadrants), then the major effects of the chart would either be spread over most of the year, or actually happen in the second half of the year (measuring the year from one spring equinox to the next).

For the Aries chart in 2010, in Washington DC, the Sun falls in the 3rd quadrant. It's up in the upper right side of the chart, indicating that the energy would last most of the year, or perhaps have a focus in the Fall. One might point to the elections and the subsequent scrambling by the lame-duck congress to pass as much legislation as they can before the power shift happens as evidence of this. However, it does point to the idea that we are just riding this energy out until the next Spring equinox chart. So we might not want to look to this Capricorn solstice chart to try to draw too many conclusions for the USA itself.

How might these two events fit together?
The eclipse happens at 29 degrees Gemini-Sagittarius, while the Solstice, by definition, happens at 0 degrees Capricorn. While in popular astrology, the idea is popular that if something is on the cusp, it picks up the energy of both signs, this is exactly contrary to the classical way of approaching things. For the ancient astrologers, there was something almost sacred about boundaries. Something is in either one sign or the other, not both. The boundary between signs is like a wall between rooms. One might open the door very briefly to move from one room to the next, but one cannot simultaneously be in both rooms.

There is, however, one idea to consider from classical astrology that may be important here. When planets or other points in a chart fall exactly equidistant from a solstice degree or an equinox degree, they are linked on some level. Here, the eclipse is on degree before the solstice, and the solstice itself of course, is in its own first degree. So we now take two seemingly unrelated energies and make them equivalent to a conjunction. However, nearly everything about Sagittarius/Gemini and Capricorn is different. Sag is a hot fire sign and Gemini a warm air sign, while Capricorn is a cold earth sign. They have precious little in common. So rather than combining these two energies, my sense is that they will just stack energy on top of energy and create a lot of buzz. In fact, one might not want to do anything to augment the energies of the eclipse, given that it's generally not the most favorable of astrological occurrences.

A word on magic and timing
For those who plan to try to harness or celebrate these energies on the 21st, there are a few things that you should be aware of. These types of astrological energies, and aspects in general, work somewhat like an orgasm, to be blunt. That is, the energy builds and builds, until the moment that it is at its height, and then it fades away very quickly. If one is attempting to work with the Full Moon/Eclipse, you should really do your work before the eclipse is at its fullest (or up to that point). After that, even if we can't see it, that energy will dissipate immediately. There may be a desire to wait until one is closest to the Solstice, but if you do that, you will lose any real power that might have been available. On the other hand, the Solstice marks the entrance of the Sun into a new sign. One does not want to anticipate this, since before the moment of the solstice, the Sun is actually still in Sagittarius.

So while the two events may have some important links, I encourage you to work with each one on its own terms, in order to make the most of each. While the temptation may be there to create some grand ritual that combines all of these, it may prove futile or powerless in the end.

Solstice Eclipse of December 2010 - Part 1

A number of friends have written to ask me my thoughts on the upcoming total Lunar eclipse which falls right before the Winter Solstice in a few days. I have also seen a number of comments about it by other astrologers come across my Facebook page in the last week or so. Let's talk about the two phenomena involved and then see if and how they might connect.

There are at least two Lunar eclipses every year, either partial or full. The degree to which an eclipse is full or not depends on how close the Moon comes to being in a straight line with the Sun and the Earth as it makes its monthly pass around the Earth. Each month the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. But only when it lines up exactly in a straight line does it come close enough for the Earth to block out some of the Sun's light, and create the shadow on the Moon. This happens on average 2-3 times per year, always within a couple of weeks of the two Solar eclipses that happen. So while eclipses happen fairly regularly, it's only once every three years or so that a Lunar eclipse will happen that is visible from the same place on the Earth, so they seem a bit more rare than they actually are.

In traditional astrology, eclipses were seen as fairly bad omens. On a spiritual and a physical level, the "light" is blocked and no longer gets to us. Solar eclipses, of course, are much more dramatic than Lunar eclipses, especially when seen, since a lot more light seems to be blocked; given that it needs to be day time to see a Solar eclipse, this makes sense. It's already fairly dark at night, so while a Lunar eclipse is very dramatic, it doesn't block nearly the amount of light that a Solar eclipse does.

Astrologically, this blocking of light is like a kink in the system. It prevents things from going smoothly. Traditionally, when delineating how an eclipse will affect the chart of an individual or a country, one must look primarily at the house within which the eclipse falls. So if an eclipse falls in one's first house, it will affect health and happiness, in the second house, money, etc. And since this blockage of light represents some sort of blockage in life, we should look for potential problems in those areas. These problems, especially with Lunar eclipses, are more likely to be underlying themes for a 6-12 month period, rather than a one-time, "sh** hits the fan" kind of explosion. But that doesn't mean that they are insignificant either.

This eclipse happens on Dec 21 at 29 Gemini (Moon's position) with the Sun at 29 Sagittarius, in the early hours before dawn here on the East coast of the USA. There are debates about whether the USA chart has Sagittarius or Gemini rising. In either case, since these are opposite signs, we are dealing with either the first house (health, happiness, physical body), or the seventh house (partners and relationships). So we are likely to see problems with the physical health of the USA (health care issues) or the happiness of the citizens (haven't we been grumpy lately), or problems with our foreign relationships and direct allies. I haven't investigated this Sag-Gem issue myself, so I'm not quite sure which is a more likely chart, and therefore, prefer to reserve judgment on making any hard predictions. But whether one is looking at the chart of an individual or a country, the house in which it falls will reveal where there needs to be some major adjustments this year.

See Part 2 for the Solstice and how these two events may relate to one another.