The Astrology Blog – 26 January 2015
All times stated are in GMT
The current astrological backdrop is the phenomenon of retrograde Mercury. In astronomical terms planets don’t of course literally stop in the sky and start reversing but, there are periods of time, as seen from our position on planet Earth, when they appear to do so.
Mercury turns retrograde three times a year for three weeks at a time. Each year the event takes place in signs of the same element. Last year it was the water signs – so in 2014 Mercury turned retrograde in Pisces, Cancer and Scorpio – and this year it’s the air signs. So, in 2015 Mercury’s retrograde periods occur in Aquarius, Gemini and Libra. (In 2016 the event will take place in the earth signs).
The elements hold a wealth of symbolism, especially in terms of personality type. For now, understanding the elements in terms of retrograde Mercury, Jung is a great place to start. His four psychological functions of the psyche correlate to the four elements;
• Fire – Intuition (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)
• Earth – Sensation (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)
• Air – Thinking (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)
• Water – Feeling (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)
Fire and Water types find meaning through what may be termed non – rational information (eg hunches or visions, the sixth sense, “I just know” answers, how something feels).
Earth and Air types find meaning through what may be termed rational information (eg what the five senses tell us about concrete reality, facts and figure, logic, what makes sense).
This is not determined just by Sun sign, so you will need to look at your personal planets (Sun through to Saturn) to see the distribution of elements and find which one is dominant for you. In particular, look at the sign of your natal Mercury – planet of the mind and all its functions.
Remember that if you don’t know the sign and position of your natal planets you can find them here in a matter of seconds – just tap in your date, place and time of birth –
You will see the visual of your horoscope, all the planets positioned on a wheel. By hovering your mouse over the glyph (symbol) for each planet you’ll be able to see which planet it is, what sign it is in and what degree of that sign it holds.
Mercury retrograde in Aquarius
Aquarius is ruled by both Saturn and Uranus and is the sign of fixed air, ruling groups, the collective, organizations, human rights and ideology. In terms of personality characteristics Aquarius is traditionally described as cool, objective and systematic, always looking to the good of the whole rather than favouring the individual. When Mercury reverses through a sign the qualities of the sign can also be reversed or taken to the wrong kind of extreme.
In the world – the symbolism of Mercury reversing through Aquarius was probably best captured by the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (died of a lung infection, Mercury rules the lungs) and buried in an unmarked grave with no public display of grief – as tradition demands. His heir King Salman (Sun and Mercury in the other Saturn sign of Capricorn) immediately announced that he would be adhering to traditional policies. In other words, he’s a strict traditionalist who will abide by the old ideology. The BBC reported:
“In Saudi terms, King Abdullah was a reformer, making princes pay their phone bills and giving women their first ever seats in the high-level consultative council. The new King Salman, a staunch conservative, has put paid to any thoughts of radical reforms on his watch with his first speech as monarch.”
In real terms any move towards reform has already been suppressed. The deputy Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, Joe Stork, said that after 2011, the “authorities subordinated the king’s reform agenda to a campaign to silence peaceful dissidents” (BBC) and Amnesty International spokesman Neil Durkin immediately moved to set the record straight, describing Abdullah’s human rights legacy as “disastrous”.
So this is not encouraging news for human rights and my heart sinks for Raif Badawi, whose case I discussed last week. However, it was also reported last week that Saudi Arabia leaders were not prepared for the international outcry that his story provoked. To be disorientated by people or matters beyond the recognized parameters of personal or cultural understanding is text book symbolism for Mercury retrograde in Aquarius and we can only wait and see what transpires when Mercury turns direct again (11 February).
If you missed last week’s blog and would like to add your voice to the petition for Raif Badawi here’s the link again –
I could also talk about the elections in Greece but to do that justice would take up too much time and space! In brief, again the symbolism fits, as Mr Tsipras has “vowed to reverse many of the austerity measures adopted by Greece since a series of bailouts began in 2010” and to renegotiate the debt. The election results reflect a mass rebellion, the voice of those sick of being taxed on every single Euro when the national average wage is only 600 Euros a month.
From politics to the personal – Regular readers will be familiar with my survival check list for these times – and I’ll repeat it later – but it begins with the idea of operating by “re” words – review, revise, rethink and so on. Mercury is very much linked to psychology and I’ve just re-read an old favourite called “Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy” by Irvin Yalom. He’s a superb writer and psychotherapist. The worlds of astrology and psychotherapy overlap all the time and, keeping with the theme of retrograde Mercury, I was struck anew by how he describes the battle of understanding as the essence of the human condition, and how he works with the paradox that this is a battle that can never be won –
“The enabling relationship always assumes that the other is never fully knowable.” (p185)
And how the psychotherapist’s task is the same as the astrologer’s, that is, the challenge of decoding –
“…there is the barrier between image and language. Mind thinks in images but, to communicate with another, must transform image into thought and then thought into language. (Much is) lost when image is crammed into language.” (p180)
So, even if we think we know someone inside out, the truth is that we don’t. Like trying to communicate a dream, the attempt to unpack astrological symbolism will always – somewhere, somehow – fall short of the mark. Yet astrology is its own international language – as above, so below – and whatever retrograde Mercury may symbolize for you, however he may be showing, will nevertheless be most obvious in the first half of this week as he repeats the aspect to Uranus that was first formed on 14 January –
Wednesday retrograde Mercury sextile Uranus (05.04)
The third and final sextile will be on 1 March so we still have a long way to go but often this middle transit is a powerful one. Sit up and take notes with regard to anything important to you. I mentioned a couple of weeks back that Mercury turned retrograde opposite my Moon and that I would share if it was printable! Well, for the first time ever, I signed up at our local Weight Watchers. This wasn’t a consciously thought out decision (I am predominantly fire, so the idea grabbed me rather than the other way around!) but that was how the symbolism played out. The Moon is very much linked to image, a woman’s relationship with her femininity, and although I’m not hugely overweight I’d love to lose some of the winter flab in time for swimsuit days, which will be here again before we know it. I thought I’d find being weighed by someone else totally humiliating but I didn’t at all. The leader (who has her Moon in Aquarius) is a natural for running a group (Aquarius), and I was surprised at how quickly I felt the “we’re all in this together” mood and how motivational it is.
I realized too that dieting is in effect a Mercury thing, not so much a Venus (food and pleasures) thing. It’s about attitude. As Sue and I replace our pre dinner almonds and Sauvignon Blanc with carrot sticks and soda water there is no point in whining about it (well, not too much anyway). We couldn’t help but remember one of the funniest pieces of (failed) diet journalism – “I’m sorry, but whoever coined the phrase that nothing tastes as good as thin feels has obviously never melted a Terry’s chocolate orange in the microwave and spread it on toast.” Author unknown, but it sort of sums up the point that you can’t make changes and stay the same!
Another memory – Stephen Sackur (b. 9 January 64, Sun and Mercury in Capricorn, Venus conjunct Saturn in Aquarius) interviewing the director of Weight Watchers on Hardtalk, and getting tough on the concept of the diet industry preying on the weak willed. She replied that he was missing the point – which is “just because something is simple doesn’t mean that it’s easy.” Brilliant.
The Moon also symbolizes other women in our lives. One of my close girlfriends span her car on a wet mountain road – the car was pranged but thankfully she was fine, shaken but not stirred. Suddenly a glut of emails (Mercury as communication, and Aquarius/Uranus ruling technology) arrived from various female friends all in varying forms of crisis.
The next Mercury aspect to look out for is at the end of the week –
Friday Sun conjunct retrograde Mercury (13.46)
This is potentially helpful as Mercury will be “cazimi” at this time, that is, within 17 minutes (of a degree) of a conjunction with the Sun. Cazimi planets are described as being within the heart of the Sun, drawing on that huge power rather than being burned up by it. Symbolically the Sun illuminates so, again, be aware. An insight or new information could be a little gold nugget in terms of understanding or a constructive shift in attitude. Even so do bear in mind that the time is not right for major or final decisions. Tuck those insights or info up your sleeve for now, or think in terms of setting wheels in motion rather than end results. Also this aspect coincides with another one of a different nature –
Friday Mars sextile Pluto (13.37)
The two aspects are literally less than ten minutes (of time) apart which feels intense and hard hitting. Mars and Pluto are a tough double act, even when in a harmonious aspect with each other such as the sextile (2 signs apart), so tread carefully and avoid risk taking. Regrets of any kind will be difficult to put right. However, information at this time may well relate to something coming to an end or something that carries the inevitability factor.
What else is happening? Venus is on the move as she ends her journey through Aquarius –
Tuesday Venus ingress Pisces (15.01)
Venus is said to be “exalted” in the water sign of Pisces. In other words, the Venusian things of life – love, pleasure, sweetness, compassion – can now be expressed through the feeling function rather than the thinking one. Pisces is the sign of mutable water and associated with heightened sensitivity and empathy. However, Venus first of all has to struggle past Saturn and, as I said last week, any squares to Saturn spell “no” –
Friday Venus square Saturn (08.24)
So Venus in tough aspect to Saturn spells denial (including self denial, like dieting!) and invariably brings setbacks, a disappointment, frustration, delays and so on. Venus also rules money so financial restrictions are in there too at the end of the week. The weekend however looks more promising –
Sunday Venus conjunct Neptune (17.37)
So Venus in her sign of exaltation meets up with Neptune in his sign of dignity. In other words, these two planets are both at home in this sign and this is textbook love stuff, (fusion, the urge to merge, idealization) acts of huge kindness or compassion, visions and dreams. However, at a literal level, look out for water related problems! The weather forecast here is awful and we’re going to be deluged over the next ten days, with the heaviest rainfall this coming weekend.
Coming full circle, retrograde Mercury – traditionally “problems with transport and communication” – always carries the message of travel with care, even to the extent of avoiding unnecessary journeys altogether. And here’s the rest of the checklist to bear in mind these next couple of weeks –
• Try to operate by “re” words – review, revise, research, reappraise, rethink and so on
• Write things down – forgetfulness, being distracted, inattention etc can be a troublesome theme
• Getting back to ideas on the back burner
• Getting back in touch
• Rest and relaxation, give the brain some time off
• Keep options open
• Assume nothing, double check everything
• When in doubt, check it out – second hand opinions are a dead cert for getting hold of the wrong end of the stick – and don’t believe everything you hear
• Keep a close watch on all belongings – especially keys or anything linked to communication such as phones, laptops, cameras etc and don’t even think about buying new ones for the time being
• The same for cars – never buy a car under a retro Mercury
• Plan any journey with extra care and don’t trust to luck
• Take extra care with form filling/signing on dotted lines
• Back up all your computer work
• No matter how certain a situation might seem there is a good chance that it will morph into something else over the next couple of weeks – the “x” factor is at work
Stay safe – and patient,
With love from Greece