There is something so splendid about a job well done, a day well spent and a life lived with vitality and adventure. The life force that pushes us through this complex, challenging and mostly uncharted territory known as our life is understood astrologically through Mars. The Martian planetary dance has been correlated to the work of fighting, fucking and getting things done. Our energy levels are crucial guides through this path of finding what we value most, enough to protect, enough to sacrifice (to make sacred) for, enough to exhaust ourselves for over and over again, enough to replenish ourselves over and over again so we can keep going.
When Mars appears to go retrograde in the sky, the momentum that's been pushing us forward gets wonky. Perhaps there's some project or passion that we've forgotten about that we must return to before moving forward? Perhaps we need to deeply rest and rejuvenate ourselves for the next big push? The energy of labor has rhythm, after all. Perhaps we find ourselves with so much energy, we return to activities that helped us feel alive many moons ago? I find that whatever I'd planned to do may take much longer than I'd anticipated, but is generally of a much more thorough, effective and occasionally more exquisitely, however always imperfectly, crafted than I could've imagined. What a treat--even when it isn't on the timeline I'd imagined--sometimes we need to pull some tarot cards, take two baths and get a good sleep before we can write that article on Mars retrograde.
There is much ado about retrogrades that I find remarkably unfounded. People who don't even follow astrology turn to me in exaggerated agony when they hear about a retrograde planet (or six). This makes me wonder what anxiety lies underneath the anguish. It also makes me wonder where we might be abdicating responsibility? For a control freak like me, the salve that having to let go of what I'd intended in order to allow what wants to happen in, is all kinds of irritating blessing. That's how pearls are made, my dear mammalians aspiring to be more like mollusks. Still, if blaming the planets for our problems gives you some solace, coping can take many forms and life is hard, so do what works. Retrogrades are a time for questioning what works. Perhaps there's some other ways to relate to the planetary and personal motion that might be better medicine? What if we saw the illusion of retrogrades as an invitation to slooooow way down, tune into rhythms we often ignore (inner and outer) and allow reflection to bring us its succulent, if not yet ripe, gifts.
We often get crucial clues during times like this about how to best care for ourselves. It's simple to say, do more of what makes you feel a sense of aliveness and less of what drains you, more complex to actually DO that. It requires a willingness to tune into what we're actually feeling, which is rare and understandably reluctant. Experiment as you are able and reflect on what a difference honoring your self and each other this way can make. Depletion is a part of life, sure. Still, what if we invoked enough gentle courage to stop playing the "I'm so busy and so tired" olympics. I know it's oh so integral to our wounded, modern people script in this capitalist nightmare. What if we in some small way started actually just playing, creating, making, protecting and caring enough to rest and relax?
We have the chance to change how we do conflict during this time. I found myself using humor to interrupt my too hot head from saying regretful things recently and even joked that I wasn't quite sure who I was without instant blame to orient myself. This is loss of identity I can embrace. We may get to track how eating, sleeping, and hydrating can shift the emotional undercurrent of whatever we're doing, including around tension and struggle. We're all better activists when we're taking care of ourselves. What fuel does your engine need?
All this to say that as Mars is retrograde from June 26th-August 26th in the sign of Aquarius. I enjoyed the following resources for further consideration and inspiration: Choosing Curiosity Over Fear & A deeper dive into the astro moment.
Eclipses are wildcard lunations that represent the apex of changes that have been brewing for the past season or two. The moonths following eclipses are where we integrate those changes. The unexpected rules the day as much that was obscured is revealed. If you're not sure about something, now is a time to expand your ability to sit with that uncertainty, setting intentions for actions you wish to take, feelings you wish to feel more, rather than forcing a particular plan or outcome.
August 7th brings the full moon lunar eclipse where our intuitive knowing and emotional insight is most activated, while the inner shifts gestate before taking form in the externally oriented companion eclipse on August 21st. This solar eclipse is getting a lot of attention because it will be visible across the contiguous US and will be total in a path that begins in the Pacific Northwest and ends in South Carolina. These locations are known for their long histories of racist segregation. With the success of efforts to remove statues that elevate that terrible past, we must not forget that we must do the work today that undoes the inheritance of said oppressions. The sources of profit and privilege persist in shameful and disturbing ways. Our efforts are often symbolic and must be much more than that too.
Leo is the sign of royalty. There is something disturbing about the way astrologers emphasize this without questioning the celebration of colonialism that this can represent. When we celebrate the part of us that centers ourselves in our own stories, we must make every effort to do so in a way that doesn't deny others that same right. If our regalness is built on the backs of others then the emporer has no clothes. Standing naked in the vulnerability of doing our best, honest about our not enoughness, can be a liberation of sorts.
The Sabian Symbol or evocative image associated with the Sun's degree during 8/7 eclipse is "Brilliant sunshine just after a storm" and the Moon's image exactly opposite that is "A big business man at his desk." These images echo that sense that while we must enjoy the relief that we might feel whenever we can, at every small, not enough creative or political victory, we must remain vigilant around the forces of profiteering corporate greed and exploitations. The Sun and Moon join on 8/21 at the degree "A mermaid emerges from the ocean waves ready for rebirth in human form." The mythopoeticspiritual part of us that can both breathe underwater and sacrifice (to make sacred) itself to be reborn on land is calling us toward these bigger purposes. Like the sun and moon are reborn through their cycles, we can turn this wheel evermore towards justice.
The planet Mars, protector and activator, is accompanying us on this solilunar journey and asking....what can I protect? What am I hear to take care of? What am I willing to do with my energy? Mercury goes retrograde on August 12th-September 5th and will station and go direct on the same degree that the solar eclipse activates. Expecting unexpected answers to those questions would be wise. Perhaps the whispers of spirit we've been hearing will be harder to ignore. We must be willing to take more risks and show up in all our fierce truth and compassion or we risk losing our self respect. As is often the case in these times of surrender to the larger cosmic cycles, plans will shift and life will reveal to us what's wanting to happen. Keep doing the next right feeling thing, allowing nature and your own intuition be your guide.
Ways to honor these eclipses:
-Reflect on what was happening in your life in August 1999 and July 2009 when these areas of your life/chart/sky were last activated by these particular cha-cha-change energies
-Enjoy sunflowers & sunflower flower essence
-Do heart opening body movements & meditations
-Gather with your favorite people to bear witness to this magical moment (get your eclipse viewing glasses to share so you can do so safely). Best info for what will be visible when wherever you are is available here.
-Reflect on what you most want to protect (give that Mars a mission)
-Play and create
-Be inspired by pampered house cats (especially when they're purring) and children (especially when they're sharing)
-Adorn yourself in ways that make you feel radiant and alive
I'll be hosting an intimate gathering of folks who want to explore these themes more on Thursday, August 10th at 7:30pm. RSVPs are required so I can plan (hahahaha...) accordingly. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're in the SF Bay Area and would like to join us. Mermaids ready for rebirth are especially welcome.
Above image acknowledgement and gratitude to Judy Schmidt and Astronomy Picture of the Day. Below image is in the public domain found on Wikimedia.
God is Change
And in the end,
Kindness eases Change.
Love quiets fear.
And a sweet and powerful
And engages each of us
In the greatest,
The most intense
Of our chosen struggles.
-Octavia Butler, Parable of the Talents
Photo Credit: Nathan Taylor
I've got a penchant for apocalyptic mythos (Octavia Butler's Parables series is a favorite I've recently re-visited). I am especially fond of those that assure me that though transformation can be quite painful there is tremendous hope for shaping our breakdowns into breakthroughs. At the same time, I'm with Saul Williams in "calling all tarot readers and sparrow feeders to cancel the apocalypse." This dark moon in Aries (March 30th) I find myself steeped in both the fear of change and craving the promise of newness, of hope, of possibility born from destruction. Aries needs something to protect so all that fiery, fierceness has somewhere productive to go. This lunation allies with trickster Uranus and Juno, protector of the underdog invoking our unique inner hero's journeys to be allied with the greatest good of all. Use the unexpected to that advantage. Now is the time to ask yourself where you want lightning to strike in your life?
April moves us into eclipse season (4/15 & 4/29) and a grand cross in the cardinal signs (exact on 4/23). I adore when the gregorian calendar and the astrological match up and a tax day lunar eclipse is no exception. Practicing war tax resistance has made me conscious of war nearly every day. It's a small way to resist, to ensure that the nearly half of my tax dollars that go to war do not go there easily. It feels right, good and terrifying. I remind myself all the time that it's nothing compared to the terrors of war or the acts of resistance by folks like Chelsea Manning, and it's something that I can do. The feelings we have about our struggles get highlighted especially in relationship to others. The solar eclipse that follows brings shifts in our bodies and beings toward greater wholeness in the cognitive dissonance.
The grand cross brings us to this moment's crossroad. Dynamic tensions invite shifts that have probably been brewing for a while. It's our work to find integration and wholeness in the shifting possibilities. Uranus in Aries asks us to find deeper liberation of the self and courage in creating change. Jupiter in Cancer asks us to give and receive deep nourishment to our families of origin and those with whom we have chosen kinship. Mars (retrograde) in Libra asks us to return to familiar territory in relating so we can take action differently the next time around (and the next, and then next...). Pluto in Capricorn is asking us to let go of the illusion of control so that real power can come through in service to deep, lasting transformations that serve us through difficult times as well as through bliss. What is your sweet and powerful Positive obsession to guide you through this month?
As Julie Simmons says of this dark new moon time "Step inside the cardinal cross. Bring your friends. There is actually no other place to be. Imagine yourself at the center where the four directions meet. You are the keeper of the directions of your life and today or tomorrow you must make your intentions clear. You want change, you need to feed and nourish your people, you must be a leader but not a dominator and you must have extreme courage to face the fear that there is simply not enough. Whether this is true or not, is not for you to know. What is known is that there is great fear which will require great courage."
I'd be lying if I told you that this Solstice season brings with it an easy astrology. With Uranus moving forward now, we do seem to be regaining a sense of clarity about who we really are and how the past months have inevitably led to this moment. This sense of ourselves is in creative tension on Xmas day. It meets with other people's expectations of what we do with our energy and how (Mars in Libra). See "there is no such thing as other people's stuff" for clues on how to practice emotional intelligence in this tussle.
Most importantly, check your expectations. Most folks are anxious, irritable and trying to mold reality to conform to a fantasy script of the holiday season. If you figure out how to make that work, please let me know. In the meantime, be someone who can smile at the chaos and breathe through the crazy. Hope this helps:
Know that it is possible to get through the holydaze with peace, joy and grace this year as long as we center ourselves in a willingness to do the work & make the effort towards accepting what is.
Photo credit: Nathan Taylor
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