Mercury Retrograde : A Time For Reflection

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“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioning ability of man to evaluate his life by a conscious endeavor. – Henry David Thoreau

Once again, Mercury retrograde is upon us. The winged messenger will be doing it’s thing in apparent backward movement from April 28, 2016  until May 22, 2016.

For many of us, this time of year brings a wave of concerns about issues related communication and the transmission of information.

One of the features that makes astrology incredibly rich is the diversity of perspectives that we have to draw from. It’s an extremely eclectic art. There are a myriad of viewpoints that you can expose yourself to regarding any given astrological phenomenon. All which may be quite valid and applicable.

For those who may not know:

retrograde motion is the apparent backward motion of a planet. During this time, the drives or principles related to the said planet may not be able to express themselves in as forthright and powerful manner as when the planet is moving forward, or in direct motion.

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So…. what does the planet Mercury symbolize?

The principle or drive to communicate, the exchange of ideas, what we think about, intellect, speech, the distribution and medium for all types of information, the written, printed and spoken word.

Mercury is similar to a messenger. It’s impersonal. The energy is more geared toward the distribution of information than placing a particular label on it like “good” bad”, etc.

We’re all familiar with the phrase “don’t shoot the messenger” aren’t we?  We may even go as far as to say that the use of the information isn’t even of great concern, but “getting the word out” is paramount.

it’s accurate to say that the energy is ripe for communication breakdowns, travel delays, mis-speaking, mis-quoting, not receiving phone calls, e-mails, faxes and texts. By all means, we will want to “double up” and use our avenues of communication to the fullest extent.

However, another perspective worth considering is that Mercury retrograde can also serve us as a period of personal review and assessmentA time of reflection.

We can capitalize on the energies of this phase by engaging in deep introspection regarding the validity and workability of the strategies, ideas, and methods we’ve been employing in our daily lives.

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If we view our lives as a book, Mercury Rx is the editing stage before we put our words “out there” for people to read. We cross our t’s and dot our i’s.

Astrologer Erin Sullivan states: 

“When Mercury goes retrograde, it seems to be an appropriate time for redoing, rethinking, reassessing, reevaluating- anything with the prefix re- in front of it.

“A Mercury retrograde period is a time to catch up on things, to complete unfinished projects, to write that letter you’ve been meaning to write or pay that long outstanding bill, and generally to reassess the affairs of the house or area of life through which it is moving backward, and to plan your next move in this domain.” 

“It may not be the right time to take action on your plan, but it is a time to plot out future moves for when it turns direct again.” (Source “The Inner Planets: Building Blocks of Personal Reality” a seminar by Liz Greene and Howard Sasportas)

If we examine critically enough, this perspective can be applied to virtually every area of our lives. Let’s re- review, re-examine and re-edit, so we can emerge from this period with a renewed and clearer sense of direction.

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Fear & Control Factors: Saturn-Sun Contacts in Relationship Astrology

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Every now and then I find it necessary to write about what many of us would call the ugly manifestation of certain aspects in synastry.

However, while it’s a stark reality that many toxic dysfunctional relationships exist, that doesn’t mean that we still can’t find the gold nugget of meaning contained within. After all, it’s often through some of our most painful and tumultuous experiences that we tend to learn the most.

First, let’s consider the two entities involved in a relationship: the Sun and Saturn.

What does the Sun do?

Ideally, the Sun shines and provides light. At its best, it radiates and illuminates. At its worst, it blinds or distorts. When we’re living our sun signs in an optimal fashion, we feel full of vitality and vigor and free to express ourselves without inhibition.

And, Saturn?

When Saturn is “hitting on all cylinders” it indicates responsibility, maturity, competence and mastery. This article is largely about when the ringed planet ISN’T working that way.

While I don’t obsess over the exact nature of aspects, I think the opposition would be appropriate to look at in regard to Sun-Saturn contacts, but keep in mind that these dynamics could apply to other aspects besides the opposition as well.

When manifesting in a destructive or toxic fashion, Sun-Saturn in synastry can indicate a relationship where one partner is literally “opposed” to the identity of the other. There may be a verbal profession of love, but in actual practice there’s more of a climate of begrudging acceptance. At this time, the rock-solid grounding energy of the constructive Saturn has been replaced by less desirable qualities of rigidity, excessive control, and limitation.

(photo: justrec.com)

If you’re currently experiencing this type of dynamic in a relationship or have done so in the past, feelings of being in the twilight zone immediately come to mind: You’re sitting somewhere so damn confused because this is a person who professes to love you, yet they feel the need to exert pressure on every iota of your identity, as to manage your self-expression so it quells their discomfort.

Somehow, there’s the vibe of this partner attempting to convince you that they know WHO you ARE and what you need better than you know it yourself. You may catch flashbacks of attempts to “parent” you all over again.

The main ways I’ve seen these contacts work are directly related to FEAR in one of the partners. Remember, we’re talking about contacts to the Sun here. So, while your partner may, in some small corner of their heart, LOVE who you are, there’s also a growing anxiety surrounding that you may “do” your Sun so well that they will be left lonely and in the dust. They are acutely aware of the breadth and depth of experiences you may need to immerse yourself in to actualize your potential and the thought of that activates any insecurities they may have surrounding the situation. In this case, Saturn is the heavy weight sitting on the Sun; repressing, sabotaging, inhibiting and judging.

OUCH.

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(photo : attracttheone.com)

If you’re on the receiving end of this type of relationship, your partner may actually have the desire to be like you, but they feel restricted in some way, so that feeling is presented to you as a deep seated bitterness or resentment towards you because there are flashes of brilliance where your sunlight is concerned and it reminds them of their own unrealized potential.

So then, your partner may go to WORK (another Saturn word) on your psyche, pulling out a couple more of Saturn’s destructive tools of the trade: doubt and criticism.

The doubt part may manifest in attempts to get you to believe that who you are is not really quite good enough; that your inadequacies overwhelmingly outweigh your virtues. They may even use selective praise as a strategy, so that you interpret its absence as displeasure and feverishly work to maintain the flow of pats on the back.

The criticism part may surface under the guise of “meaning well” or “tough love”. Injurious words and actions camouflaged as attempts to “make you better”.

Although much of what has been written may be experienced as uncomfortable, please keep in mind that there’s a growth choice that you can make if faced with such a dynamic in a relationship. One of the avenues may involve completely removing yourself from the situation, but the fact remains that in order for your development to be real, you must look at yourself and come to terms with what you’re experiences are trying to tell you on an inner level.

When the Sun is constructive, it’s confident.   A person with healthy Sun is aware of their preferences and unapologetic about having them. In fact, it could be said that to truly live your Sun, you’re going to have to risk telling some people to go to hell who want to mold, shape or project on you.

If you share a Sun-Saturn contact with another individual, and any of the above resonates, ponder on Raymond Hull’s quote:

“He who trims himself to suit everyone, will soon whittle himself away.”

Perhaps one of the lessons of such experiences deals with coming to terms with your own level of self-acceptance. Recognizing everything you are and everything you’re NOT. After all, tests are a part of Saturn’s arsenal, and they’re far from the Jupiterian “open book” variety. Maybe one of the messages is that if we’re going to actually DO anything in this world and really give it a go at remembering our deepest selves, we have to be prepared for criticism from those that we rub the wrong way, and in no way is an intimate relationship exempt from such interplay.

As I explained from the outset, this article is mainly about Saturn making a wrong turn in its relationship with the Sun, but there are also constructive ways that this aspect can manifest in synastry which make a significant contribution to a stable, mature relationship where a clear sense of obligation between two people leads to a solid and long lasting union.

 

Your Astrological Chart : The Whole is Greater

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“My Mercury is in Scorpio.” “I have a Cancer Moon.” Jupiter is in my first house!!”

Those of us who are familiar with Astrological language know that it’s always exciting as we begin to learn about our individual birth charts and all of their different dimensions including sign, house placements and aspects.

During this lifelong process of astrological exploration and study, something we must be ever vigilant of is identifying our tendency to isolate factors within our chartsWithout analyzing placements within the context of our entire cosmic structure, we leave ourselves at the mercy of incomplete and often times misleading information.Essentially, what we’re doing is looking at ourselves using  a fragmented approach.

“It is very important to recognize that the whole is not something additional to the parts: it is the parts in a definite structural arrangement and with mutual activities that constitute the whole.

The structure and the activities differ in character according to the stage of development of the whole; but the whole is just this specific structure of parts with their appropriate activities and functions.”

In a birth chart, everything always affects everything else. The organization of all of the parts determines the functioning of the whole.

Reference: “Holism and Evolution” by Jan Smuts pg. 104

Relationship Astrology: Sun-Saturn Contacts

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In synastry (relationship astrology), when one person’s Saturn aspects another’s Sun, or vice versa, there are a myriad of potentials. The Sun symbolizes our creative flow, the fuel that sustains our life force, vitality and well being. Saturn represents responsibility, work, integrity, delays, limits and controls.

With this dynamic interplay, one may experience the partner as a grounding influence. Someone with whom they feel a solid sense of stability with a mutual commitment to work and concrete accomplishment.

It could be that one feels a sense of duty or obligation to one’s partner; that one feels responsible for preserving the integrity of the relationship. To be in it “for the long haul”.

On the flip side, one could feel like their identity being stifled and repressed as a result of interacting with their partner.

As if there’s an attempt by the other to ‘manage’ their sense of self-expression.  There could also be a sense of envy associated with this synastric aspect where, because of unsuccessful attempts on one partner’s behalf to control the other, they result to weighty criticism or belittlement as an extension of their authority.

This aspect suggests potential for a long-term union, and as with any other aspect, much rests upon the maturity of the individuals involved.

The Transits of Uranus, Neptune & Pluto : Be Willing To Let Go

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“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

At one time or another, most of us have conducted a search of our refrigerators only to find at least one item that is past its expiration date.

Usually, our first instinct is to immediately remove the item and throw it away. We rely on our stellar judgement, which leads us to the conclusion that the product would most likely be harmful to our health if we ignored the date and decided to consume it. Easy enough, right? Well…. It really IS that easy if we’re talking about a gallon of milk or a bottle of orange juice.

Let’s take a portion of this logic and apply it to the universe.  Specifically, the transits of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

It is true that outer planet transits which align with our personal planets ask us to perform a search. However, this is a much more meaningful and arduous process because the investigation is within the domain of ourselves and our psyches, which are far more complex than even the most advanced Frigidaire.

I am in no way implying that the transits of the inner and social planets are not important, because everything has it’s place in the celestial order. However, the outer planets, because they move slowly, provide the opportunity for the actual process of transformation to take place. There are no “one shot deals” when it comes to the outers. Their transits are conducive to major, life altering, and hopefully life enhancing changes. 

While transiting, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto each have their own method of operation. However, one theme which binds them together is what they ask of us on a general level: 

to honor our cosmic expiration dates in relation to our identities, emotional responses, thought processes and relationships.

During outer planet transits, it’s essential that we examine the energies that surround each planet, concordant with the issues which are currently existent in our lives.  Then, we must ask them what they specifically want to do, in accordance with our overall life developmentWhen we receive the answers, it’s in our best interest to cooperate, respecting the planet’s wishes  while keeping resistance to a minimum. 

Generally, the outer planets are asking us to examine ourselves, with the ultimate objective of removing useless, outdated behaviors, attitudes and philosophies which no longer serve us. Concepts which aren’t consistent with the new person we’re being summoned to evolve into.

The longer and tighter that we attempt to cling to the way we’ve “always been” through over identification with props that have been supporting us up until this point  such as jobs, relationships, friendships, titles, marriages, etc… the more severe and intense the inner battle will be.

If we fail to address and resolve these challenges at an internal level, the universe may then deem it necessary to offer an illustration of sorts which manifests in outward circumstances to drive the message home. 

Throughout the process of these transits, it’s worth considering the methods contained in the planetary energies that are designed to capture our attention.

*Uranus suddenly shocks, jolts and awakens.

We’re in the shower one morning and we realize that we want a divorce. A complete life overhaul. We want to ditch the 8 to 5 and go out and live in the woods of Montana, and nothing else will do.

Maybe the 20 year gap in age doesn’t seem that far fetched after ALL for a relationship. After all, we both like classic rock.” 

Or, we’re 33 years old and up until this new realization we’ve been living a contrived existence. It’s all been a sham. Always doing what our family wanted, listening to advice from “friends” that didn’t resonate with us, just to be a polite member of society. This has turned us into a drone of the highest caliber. We want out of the metaphorical picket fence, country club and weekly backgammon game.

*Neptune refines, softens and dissolves through a covert process.

We sit in the chair at the dentist’s office and he/she asks us to count from 10 backwards. All we remember is that we got to 7. At the highest level, Neptune can inspire whatever it touches to it’s highest and most spiritual level of creativity. It’s divine imagination at work, assisting  us in manifesting inner realities in the outside world.

At it’s most dysfunctional, it casts a haze on whatever faculties it comes in contact with. We’ve forgotten the date, time and have driven 25 minutes south from our intended destination, or we were supposed to get off our train 5 stops ago. Better yet, we’ve failed to hear the “ribbits” that our prince charming is releasing every time he opens up his mouth.

*Pluto symbolically brings death and rebirth.

If Saturn re-models the building, Pluto brings the TNT and blows it up. If it’s time do vacate your post as Vice President of Operations, Pluto does not care that you have 15 family photos on your office wall. Here’s your box. You’ve been with her for 7 comfortably numb years, and the imprint on your couch looks like a crime scene outline? This planet will let you know. If you don’t listen to the whispers, you may get screams. While you think that the termination of this relationship would shatter your whole world, you know not what’s behind door number three. You can take the stairs, which might be difficult. But resist, and be thrown out the window.

Rarely does any type of significant growth feel totally blissful. We must think seriously about the instances which we seek to remain to comfortable in the name of avoiding what we label as pain. If our intention is to truly evolve, we can sincerely ask the outers to show us the way.

Yes, we might be unsure and sign the agreement with a shaky hand. However, if we consistently self-inspect, while assigning meaning to our experiences during outer planet transits, we will gain a wealth of knowledge that can transform us and serve as a catalyst to claim the life which has been waiting for us.    

               

Holistic Astrology’s Message: You’re Much More Than Your Sun Sign

(photo : faculty.kutztown.edu)

” We have already been given everything we need; our task is to assemble it and use it in the appropriate way. Nothing is meaningful as long as we perceive only separate fragments. But as soon as the fragments come together into a synthesis, a new entity emerges, whose nature we could not have foreseen by considering the fragments alone.”

-Piero Ferrucci from “What We May Be”

As I progress through my astrological career, here’s one of the most perplexing themes that I’ve noticed: on the whole, as a society we don’t give ourselves anywhere near the credit we deserve for our depth, complexity and for the multi-dimensional facets of our humanness.

In fact, some of us even appear to prefer labels; to be put into nice comfortable boxes complete with a “kit” full of goodies that we need to embody that pre-packaged persona. Let’s just call this the fast food version of self-expression. Shall we?

Well….this leads me to another question? Do we “do” labels in order to evade the vulnerability contained in what we deem as the “lesser” parts of our being? Do we say: yes, just put me in that box- quick! No one will even think of my challenges in other areas? So, then we quickly become “secure”/”insecure” ; “rational”/”intuitive”, “homebodies”/”travelers”, “conscious”/”unconscious, “intelligent/”ignorant”, when the truth is, we are ALL of these, just to a greater or a lesser degree.

So, where does astrology fit into the picture? When someone asks the famous cocktail party question: “what’s your sign?” What they’re referring to is known as our sun sign.

Usually, those who are unfamiliar with the reality of an entire birth chart would answer the question and proceed to talk a bit about some descriptive words they read on a zodiac poster, or a paper weight in their co-workers office. If you who are reading this fall into that category, I applaud you.

The fact that you’re even on this web page tells me that you think there’s much more to what you read on that Pisces t-shirt and Capricorn bumper sticker. And guess what?? You are most certainly correct.

When used irresponsibly and not as a tool for spiritual and psychological growth, astrology runs the risk of being reduced to a “one size fits all”, static classification system rather than recognized as the rich, expansive symbolic art which gives life to potentials and possibilities and is fortified with depth and meaning through synthesis.

These observations are by no means designed to discount the importance of sun signs within the totality of our birth charts. In fact, it is essential that we honor our suns, for the mastery of the energies represented by our sun signs are imperative to our spiritual evolution. There is, however a danger that we must be aware of which is stated so eloquently by Ferruci:

” This realization leads us to consider perhaps the greatest and most common of all dangers: one-sidedness. Were we to develop only one part of our being to the exclusion of all others- be it the body, or feelings, or “spirit”, or what have you-that part would be invested with a power it doesn’t deserveIt could become demonic and make of us limited and perhaps, even fanatical beings.”

In addition to our Sun sign, which symbolizes our individuality, we must integrate our Moon sign, which speaks to our emotional life, intuition and our deepest needs. Our Mercury sign, which illustrates how we thinkand communicate. Our Venus sign, which testifies to the manner in which we express our enjoyment and appreciation of the pleasures of life. Also, how we relate to our fellow human beings. 

Our Mars sign, which is all about taking action, asserting ourselves and sexual expression. Our Jupiter sign that indicates how we believe, have faith, express our philosophies and find meaning. Saturn’s sign in our birth chart lends it’s expression to how we exert our authorityspend our time and exercise discipline and responsibility.

While the outer planets: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, are generational by sign placement, they are still very important based on what houses they inhabit and the aspects they make to personal planets. All of these planets insist on inclusion.

So, yes ladies and gentlemen, this is our lifetime homework. To take these parts and successfully weave them into a functioning whole working at it’s optimum level and exercising it’s full potential.

Lastly, Ferruci states:

” When it is balanced and healthy, human growth proceeds in all directions: it looks like an expanding sphere rather than a straight line. It is for precisely this reason that psychosynthesis endeavors to take into consideration all the dimensions of human life which truly matter and which, if left unacknowledged, lead to a fragmented, even absurd existence.”

This statement applies directly to my astrological philosophy. Like Amerie, that “1 Thing” mentality has got me trippin’, too.

Cancer Sun, Cancer Moon

 

(photo credit : bipolarmuse.com)

The life energy is geared toward intimate connections and responsiveness to the unspoken needs of others. This is reflected in a personality whose reigning need is emotional security. To know where they stand without a doubt.

When double cancer energy feels taken advantage of, or like they’re nurturing and taking care of everyone else while not receiving the same warmth and care in return, this results in mood swings.

Gemini Sun, Scorpio Moon

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Your psyche is attempting to institute a marriage between flexibility and focus, but how will they live together?

This Sun/Moon blend asks that you balance your needs for intensity of experience and richness of feeling with your aspirations to circulate above the fray of emotional entrapment.

There’s a potential here to understand duality, so you may be in tune with the fact that without living deeply and significantly, your life can feel like the “unbearable lightness of being”, and without variety, unhealthy obsessions can emerge.

To gain the elasticity which “lights you up”, you must unflinchingly explore the caverns of your being, and realize your “dark corners”. Upon recognition, there also has to be a level of acceptance that says: “hey.. these facets of myself are good for SOMETHING.”

If this is instituted successfully, the results are wide eyes and a full heart.

“Feeding” Our Astrological Charts

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“You are all things. Denying, rejecting, judging or hiding from any aspect of your total being creates pain and results in a lack of wholeness.”- Joy Page

Picture the following scenario: You’ve been working feverishly all day at the office and can’t wait to get back home for some rest, relaxation and reflection. On your drive back to your safe haven, you pass several restaurants.

You don’t really give too much thought to any of them because you know that there’s nothing like a home cooked meal. Your significant other has already called you at the office, informing you that dinner will be served almost immediately after you walk through the door.

After managing to fight your way through the remaining traffic, you have arrived at last. Your partner greets you at the door with a hug and a kiss and your three children are anxiously waiting for you to wash your hands so they can “dig in”. After all, they’ve had a challenging day at school and have worked up a voracious appetite.

The time you’ve been waiting for is almost here. As you enter the dining room and take your seat at the table, your partner emerges from the kitchen with some news: there’s not enough food to go around !!!!

Damn!!!

What do you do? How do you stretch the amount of food so everyone is nourished?

Astrologically , we often face the same dilemma as the one described above. However, many of us are unaware of the level at which this dynamic operates.

Only aware of our Sun sign, we have minimized ourselves and our complexity to only being a Leo, Scorpio, Sagittarius, etc…However, We must investigate and peel back the layers, considering our Moon sign, Ascendant, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter signs. etc.. as well as aspects and house placements.

With only Sun sign knowledge, we are unaware that we have a “family”.

Although the Sun will always be the head of the household, how do we take care of everyone else?

Just like our children, if we fail to “feed” the other areas of our chart ,the issues which are symbolized by the planetary energies may find their way into our lives in a disruptive fashion in order to gain our attention.

This is the equivalent of “crying out”. So let us begin to explore our natal charts in a more comprehensive manner to discover how these energies, needs and drives may operate most effectively in our lives.