Here we are in yet another round of Mercury Retrograde and this time it looks like it will be intense and impactful! It takes place entirely in the sign of Scorpio, known for extremes. Mercury travels between 11 degrees 35’ and 27 degrees 38’ (descending from the higher degree to the lower degree, as retrogrades always do). Mercury entered this degree range on 10/11, backtracks from 10/31 to 11/20, and leaves the degree range 12/7. Any Mercury Retrograde is a time for reflection, review and re-doing. Research is also suitable for a Mercury Retrograde, especially in the sign of Scorpio, which is ruled by the Lord of the Underworld, Pluto. It’s a great time for digging and exposing what’s been hidden or out of sight. This sign and ruling planet are related to finances and economic indicators, so be sure to take a look at your fiscal picture and maybe do some tax strategizing before the end of the year closes in on us.
There could be important developments with a wide sway during this time since Mercury passes three rimes through the very middle of Scorpio, the halfway point between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. Degrees midway between solstices and equinoxes are considered nearly as powerful as the degrees when the seasons change, a phenomenon that occurs worldwide. Mercury is at that 15 degrees of Scorpio on 10/15, 11/14 and 11/28 (Thanksgiving).
Venus may add a sweet flavor to this Mercury Retrograde cycle, since she breezed by Mercury and blew him a kiss on October 30, about 18 hours before he turned tail. Or perhaps she’s signaling a time to attempt some harmony or balance. While those are her favorite traits, she’s in Scorpio, too, not at her most pleasant. It’s a sign that prefers the extremes to the middle.
During this period, Mercury is in series of three favorable connections to three slower planets. The most important of these is the helpful 60º sextile relationship to Pluto, the ruler of Scorpio, exact on 10/19, 11/9 (during the retrograde) and 12/2-3 (just past midnight on the 3rd EST). Since Saturn is traveling close to Pluto in Capricorn (the Earth element sign which Saturn rules), Mercury is sextile to Saturn, too, three times exact on 10/14, 11/13 (during the retrograde) and 11/30. Meanwhile, Saturn is traveling in a sextile with Neptune in the sign it rules, Pisces. Mercury is in the very harmonious and beneficial 120º relationship called a trine with Neptune, exact on 10/15, 11/13 (during the retrograde) and 11/30. Note how close these three dates are to the dates of the Mercury-Saturn sextile. That’s because slow Saturn and Neptune are in an exact sextile on 11/8. Neptune is traveling even slower than usual because it’s nearing its stopping point, ending its backtrack on 11/27, right in the middle of the sign of Pisces.
These four planets form a wonderful triangle composed of two sextiles joined together into a trine. There’s no common name for this pattern* and it deserves a catchy one! Essentially, Saturn and Pluto are midway between Mercury and Neptune. A trine brings benefits automatically and sextiles give the most assistance when we put in some effort. To get the best use of this configuration – particularly around 11/13 and the Full Moon in Taurus the day before – envision what you want to accomplish in the near- and longer-terms and figure out the steps and changes you need to make to meet your goals. You may need to shift some resources around to achieve your objective.
Neptune in Pisces is as watery as it gets – the god of the oceans in the sign of the fishes! Beware its power; it’s slippery. It can fool you. It erodes and erases, like the force of a destructive flood, if it’s unchecked. Your imagination or fears may run away with you. Luckily, the harmonious emphasis on the powerful planets in Capricorn intervening between the two planets in Water signs should keep us from going adrift. The energy of the practical Earth element grounds the Water element’s emotions and gives our feelings a positive avenue for expression.
About that Nov. 12 Full Moon: Mercury participates strongly in its workings! The Sun and Mercury cross paths on the 11th, marking the half-way point of Mercury Retrograde. The Moon in Taurus opposes Mercury just hours before the Full Moon when it opposes the Sun (that’s a Full Moon by definition). The two signs involved are the “money signs,” related to possessions, assets and investments, and also associated with values. Our thinking, communications and decisions are likely to be focused on finances. Mercury as “Messenger of the Gods” is the planet most related to the news; there may be news that impacts the markets from the 11th to the 13th. (The markets will be open on Veterans Day.) This Full Moon could be a “top,” perhaps before a reversal (another potential association of a retrograde). Full Moons frequently signal a peak. The Moon is security-oriented and protective, and it’s said to be “exalted” (working at its best) in Taurus, an Earth sign that stabilizes the Moon’s changeable nature. This is a time to adhere to your values and appreciate the worth of what you hold dear, taking steps to protect it.
* Some astrologers call it an “Inverse Grand Trine.” If something occupied the point across from the middle of the trine, there would be a Grand Trine bisected into what’s called a Kite. Grand Trines and Kites are some of the best kinds of planetary formations. This arrangement looks like the top of a kite. Maybe we should call it a “kite top.”
Many years ago as I wrote my Janet’s Plan-its calendars, I noticed that from the fall of one year to the spring of the next, the degrees where the New and Full Moons occurred would repeat across consecutive signs. Then for the next six months or so, the degree of each New and Full Moon decreases by an average of 1-1/2 degrees per month until the next round of repetition ensues. The repeating degrees shift from one groove to the next, dropping down about 11 degrees lower in the zodiac than where they were a year before. I hadn’t heard other astrologers mention this phenomenon. There certainly wasn’t a name for it, so I coined the term “moon groove.” It might not be have been that easy to spot with a superficial glance since the groove pattern spans over two calendar years.
Such an emphasis extends the usual time frame for the influence of a New or Full Moon. A plain vanilla New Moon impacts the following four-week lunar cycle. We feel the effects of an ordinary Full Moon for about a week centered on the date of the Full Moon. The groove degrees receive attention for six months. And somewhere in those six months, there is at least one New Moon Eclipse and at least one Full Moon Eclipse. Eclipses are more powerful and long-lasting versions of New or Full Moons. These are the peaks of the groove’s power.
From October 2019 through March 2020, all the New Moons are at 4-5 degrees of whatever the current Sun-sign is, while the Full Moons are all at 19-20 degrees of whatever sign is opposite the current Sun-sign. Check your natal chart for anything affected by these grooves. You can use an orb of plus/minus 2 degrees and consider aspects beyond conjunctions.
The influence will express in a manner associated with your natal planet’s sign, house location and any house(s) ruled by the planet. (And you might have multiple planets in your chart affecting you at once, which would mean the natal aspects between them are being triggered.) The repeating New Moon degrees signal a six-month period to expect or initiate something new in the area of your life related to the affected planet(s). The Full Moon groove gives you six months for a blossoming or culmination in the areas of your life related to your affected natal planet(s). Sometimes, Full Moons also mean something comes to an end; you’ve had enough, you’re done with it.
Within the six-month period, some of the New or Full Moons will be more significant or have a stronger effect, usually when they make a “hard aspect” (conjunction, opposition, square) to your affected natal planet(s). Mark those on your calendar and see what use you can make of “the power of the groove.”
As an example, let’s look at football great Tom Brady, who is still playing at 42 years of age. Will this season be his last? From his chart, I think so. He’s climbed to the top of his field, has broken records and received every award and honor, etc. What more could he want? He loves to play. No one wants to quit what they love. Brady has Saturn, the planet of ambition and achievement, elevated and in a place of honor near the top of his chart in the Tenth House, where it is said to be “dignified.” This points to his great success, not only due to talent but also to (Saturn’s favorite) hard work. His Saturn is at 19 degrees of Leo, receiving the Full Moon groove, a sign for finishing something. The groove hits his Saturn exactly at the February 9, 2020 Full Moon, less than week after the Super Bowl. That’s close enough to signal the end. And he’ll probably go off on a high note.
There is a chance that injury or illness will take Brady off the field first. I say this because he has other chart factors in the neighborhood of 19 degrees receiving the Full Moon groove. His Ascendant, which begins the First House of health and bodily matters, is almost 18 degrees of Libra and his Vertex (associated with accidents and run-ins) is at 18 degrees of Taurus in his Eighth House, representing transformation and possibly destruction. The current/upcoming position of the ruling planet of his other health house, the Sixth, is Neptune, moving through 16 – 17 degrees of Pisces. This planet and sign together rule feet and the immune system, either of which could be problematic. Neptune is forming two Finger of God triangles with his Ascendant, one with Saturn, the other with the Vertex. This type of configuration indicates something strange leading to something else weird and finally turning out okay. The November 12 Full Moon hits Brady’s Vertex, making it a vulnerable time for him around then.
He also has his North Node at his Ascendant. This means a life lesson is to focus on himself, his body and his health. The Lunar Eclipse Full Moon on January 10 is square to his Ascendant and North Node, at the same time as it hits the exact top of his chart, his Midheaven. A Full Moon, especially an Eclipse, at one’s Midheaven is a sure indicator of a major blossoming in one’s career and potentially a change. It’s even possible his team will be knocked out of the play-offs close to that Eclipse and then he could announce his retirement after the Super Bowl.
Is something new brewing for him? Brady has no planets at 4 or 5 degrees receiving the New Moon groove. The closest is his Moon at 6 degrees of Aries in his Sixth House, a position related to employment and service. The Moon rules his Tenth House of career. Aries is the main sign for athletics and competition, so he’s likely to remain in the sports world. The dispositor (ruler of the sign placement) for his Moon is his Mars in Gemini, a sign of communications. My best guess is he goes into sports broadcasting and possibly as soon as next spring. The last New Moon in this groove is March 24 at 4 degrees of Aries, conjunct Brady’s Moon. Time for new work.
Now see what you can do with the Moon Grooves if they hit your chart.
At this time of year, the Sun moves through Virgo. Think of the shaft of wheat held by the “Virgin” in some depictions of this sign and how the full moon (across from the Virgo Sun) lights up the fields at night enough for overtime work. Hence the Harvest Moon. This year, it coincides with Friday, the 13th. OK, to be technical, in the Eastern time zone, the exact full moon is after midnight (12:33 AM) on the 14th. In the rest of America’s time zones, it’s on Friday. Close enough. The astrological significance of Friday the Thirteenth stems from Friday being the day in honor of Venus and Thirteen being a number associated with Venus. It’s like a double Venus day.
At the Full Moon, Venus and Mercury are hand-in-hand, fostering cooperative discussions and negotiations, sweet talk and lovers tête-à-têtes. They are poised at Libra’s doorstep, entering the sign together early on the 14th. (Mercury is in Libra until October 3, Venus until the 8th.) Smooth communications may not be enough to counter-balance the difficult influence of a T-square (possibly the toughest pattern in a chart) formed by Mars quickly sparring with a slow Jupiter-Neptune square that’s in place off and on in 2019. Its third and final flare-up is Sept. 21 (prior instances were 1/13/19 and 6/16/19). This has magnified confusion and put a spotlight on trust issues. Jupiter and its sign of rulership, Sagittarius where it’s traveling for most of this year, are associated with the media, the legal arena, foreigners and universities. Neptune is moving through the sign it rules, too: Pisces, together highlighting compassion or the lack thereof. Mars’ addition to the mix introduces haste, anger, competition, self-concern or existential issues. Sometimes there are news stories where these themes converge. An example would be hurricane victims (related to Neptune, ruler of the downtrodden) trying to cross an international border (Jupiter) for their very survival (Mars).
Another key tense configuration at the Full Moon is the Moon and Sun opposite each other and both are in the stressful half-square / square-and-half connection to Uranus. The Pisces Moon inclines us to rely on instincts and impressions, while the Virgo Sun gives a preference for critical analysis and facts. Uranus in the Earth sign Taurus also favors a scientific, realistic assessment, but it’s the planet of surprises, which could certainly crop up. Uranus is also related to technological matters, which might either pose a risk or be a saving grace. This pattern may show you your unique way (Uranus) to do your spiritual (Pisces)work (Virgo).
The Jupiter-Neptune square is shoved again next month by Mercury 10/4 – 10/5 and by Venus 10/9 – 10/12, each in Scorpio making the half-square to Jupiter and the square-and-half to Neptune. We might experience the “swimming in circles” feeling again but probably without so much irritation (Mars isn’t involved) and hopefully with the impetus to make some changes. Scorpio is a good sign for letting go, turning the page and moving on.
Jupiter is in a little trouble again right after that with its third and final square-and-half to Uranus (earlier occurrences were 1/9 and 6/6). This connection usually brings some unexpected doozies so keep your seatbelts fastened. Electrical problems or storms with associated power outages are a strong possibility; have those extra batteries ready. Friction in international relations is another likely manifestation.
After this fanfare fireworks finale, smoother planetary interactions come into play. November and December will seem tame in comparison (well, for many people); in fact, they’re some of the easiest months of 2019. There is the likelihood of “karma” at work in Washington in November. Using the “geodetic” equivalents for longitudes of world locations – the zodiac degree wrap around our globe beginning at 0 degrees of Aries in Greenwich, England, and going eastward through the signs – the USA east coast is in the Capricorn area. Saturn is moving through Capricorn, hitting 17 degrees (Washington’s location) for the third time in November. It was there earlier this year in late February to early March and late June through the middle of July. Check news from around then for hints as to what’s coming up.
With any of these third visits, usually the planets have done most of their work in the first two and there’s a call-back to or wrap-up of what went on before. Sometimes the phenomenon of “things happen in threes” is in evidence. Three visits from a moving planet happens because of the zigzag movement due to retrogradation, an optical illusion when a faster planet lines up with a slower one. The good news is you have three chances to utilize the planets’ energies. For keywords of what is associated with each planet and sign, see the Astrologer’s Apprentice Cheat Sheet from AstrologyBooth.com.
We’re in the midst of a confusing time when it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s an illusion (or deception). This can be attributed to Neptune, the planet of fog and non-reality, being at a standstill on the summer solstice. In fact, it’s in 18º of Pisces all of May, June, July and half of August. Also, it’s never less than 4º from an abrasive and powerful “square” at cross purposes with Jupiter, which amplifies the haze. Since both planets are in the signs they rule (Neptune in Pisces and Jupiter in Sagittarius), the effect is even stronger. If you have something in your chart in the range of 14º – 18º of the “mutable” signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces), you’re being hit especially hard by this uncomfortable combination. Whatever that part of your chart indicates will be subject to misunderstandings or missteps.
Mercury dances around Mars this summer, hanging out very close to the red planet at both the summer solstice and at the July 2 Solar Eclipse New Moon. Influences at a solstice or an eclipse last an extended period of time. Mercury passes Mars in Cancer on 6/18 before going Retrograde 7/7 – 7/31, during which time it passes Mars again on 7/8 in Leo. (Later this fall, when both are in Virgo, they meet again on 9/3, the one day of 2019 that I rated a “5,” the best day of the year.) Their blend promotes quick-thinking as well as speaking too hastily and will likely propel many people to drive too fast. There can be an aggressive side to speech with these two so close, along with jumping to conclusions. Caution is advised, along with slowing down.
Mercury zigzags back and forth between the latter part of Cancer (around 24º) and the beginning area of Leo (around 4-1/2º), crossing the Cancer/Leo border three times: 6/26 entering Leo, 7/19 backtracking into Cancer, and 8/11 re-entering Leo. This is one of the two most important cusps of the zodiac (the other being the Pisces/Aries cusp, the traditional end point of the zodiac and its new beginning). This cusp reflects a key shift in energies from Cancer’s subconscious impressionability (the Moon’s home turf) to Leo’s conscious will power (the Sun’s kingdom). Our most important heavenly bodies, the “luminaries” or “lights,” are the rulers of these signs, the primary reason for the significance of this cusp. Since Mercury is the main planet of thinking, we’ll be shifting gears between logic-based decision-making and trusting gut instincts.
Venus approaches and passes the Sun over the summer (exact on 8/14), hanging out close together and traveling at about the same pace for while. This should help counterbalance the potential pugilistic influence of the Mercury-Mars conjunctions. These four heavenly bodies gather in a grouping and often simultaneously occupy the summer signs, moving first through Cancer and then through Leo and Virgo. The marriage asteroid Juno is also near these quick-moving planets, moving through Leo, putting emphasis on marital matters. Many people will have marriage on their minds, either a union they’re in or one they’re contemplating. (If you plan to to marry this summer, a good day for a wedding is August 10.) There is one week, August 11 to 17, when all the speedy planets (Mercury, Sun, Venus, Mars, as well as asteroid Juno) are in Leo. The Sun and Venus are within 5º of one another from 7/26 – 9/3 and within that range, within 1º from 8/10 -8/17. This makes for a very romantic time around the 8/15 Full Moon. Venus joins Mars on 8/24, and all the quick planets pass Juno. This is a rare situation. What a year for a summer romance! That said, there are potentially bumpy times for relationships when the Sun is square unpredictable Uranus on 7/29 and especially as Venus follows suit on 8/2. Uranus is famous for throwing curve balls and though it’s traveling now in the normally stable sign of Taurus, it is a highly unstable influence.
Many types of relationships are improved by being proactive in expressing our affections and caring. Ceres, a dwarf planet of nurturing, is traveling in a helpful trine with Chiron, the “repairman” asteroid. They are within 5º of this connection from 5/18 until 9/13, exactly trine on 6/6 and 8/27. Across July and August, the quick planets all form imprecise (but still effective) Grand Trines with them.
Eclipses occur when new or full moons are within range (about half a sign) of the lunar Nodes, which are the intersections of the two key orbits: the Moon around the Earth and the Earth around the Sun. The North Node, an indicator of the direction in which we should travel for our spiritual growth, is in the maternal sign of Cancer. The Solar Eclipse New Moon on July 2 in Cancer (10º38’) close to the North Node brings out our soft side and puts the focus on nation, home and family. The South Node, signaling what we should strive to release, is in Capricorn, a judgmental and regimented sign that turns a cold shoulder. The Lunar Eclipse Full Moon on July 16 is in Capricorn (24º4’) close to the South Node and Saturn. Capricorn along with its ruling planet Saturn represent government. The July eclipses in Cancer and Capricorn occur within about 7º of the Nodes, highlighting how they point to the crisis at the US southern border regarding how refugees, especially the children, are being detained in harsh conditions rather than being cared about and for. Saturn is about 1º from the South Node at both eclipses, showing us it’s time to look at the laws that encode exclusion. Pluto is about 4º from the South Node, as well, and it’s a planet of elimination. There are some regulations that need to be changed! The Ceres-Chiron trine (featured at the Solar Eclipse) and its enhancement by the quick planets’ trines should help bring better conditions for these desperate people seeking a welcome from America. And there is already a lot of poverty and hunger among America’s children that also needs to be addressed. Hopefully, this summer of love will be about loving our neighbors, not just our lovers.
The Lunar Eclipse looks to be a more difficult time, due to that pesky dwarf planet of disruption and chaos, Eris. (Its discovery is what prompted astronomers – not astrologers! – to re-examine what a “planet” is.) The opposition of the Sun and Moon (which is what defines a full moon) is weighed down on the Capricorn side of the seesaw, and both ends of the axis are squared by Eris forming a troublesome T-square. But a T-square can also mean a turning point, a push – even if a hard one – for transformation.
A second New Moon (not an eclipse) in July on the 31st (which calendars not based in the Americas will list as August 1) shows a somewhat easier pattern, still featuring the long-term Pluto-Eris square that tries to force change, this time in a milder T-square with Mercury occupying the space where the Sun was at the Lunar Eclipse. The rest of the quick planets are having a good time in sunny Leo, trine other planets in the Fire signs. This means HEAT along with lots of passion and creativity, and hopefully fun.
Do the best you can this summer to show your heart!
While the common idea of a “blue moon” is a second full moon in a calendar month, that’s not the original definition. The term arose to address a rare astronomical phenomenon of having four full moons in a season. Seasons are always three months and ordinarily have only three full moons. The third of four upset the natural order and instead of carrying the customary name for that season’s third full moon, it needed to have a different name. For instance, if the Lenten Moon had been the third full moon of four in the winter season, it would have triggered an extra month of fasting before Easter came later than usual in the spring. It was deemed a “betrayer,” for which the old English word was “belewe.” This came to be misconstrued as “blue.” An error in an astronomy magazine in 1946 pegged a second full moon in a calendar month as a blue moon and the notion stuck.
These articles explain blue moons well:
from Smithsonian Magazine
The last time we had a blue moon using the traditional definition was in the spring of 2016, on 5/21/16. The next time it occurs will be in the summer of 2021, on 8/22/21, and after that, the next will be 8/19/24. The average time between these blue moons is 2.7 years (per the Space.com article).
As for a second full moon in a calendar month, that happens in an irregular manner. Recent occurrences were 8/31/12, 7/31/15, and two in one year: 1/31/18 and 3/31/18. The next couple will be 10/31/20 and 8/31/23.
Both types of blue moons are infrequent and noteworthy, but the calendar version is a man-made construct while the third in a season is strictly astronomical.
Neptune, the ruling planet of Pisces, spends approximately 13 years in its home sign during its 165-year swim around the zodiac. It dipped its toes into Pisces in 2011 and doesn’t completely leave this sign until early 2026. You’d say that sounds like 15 years but you’d be fooled (a Neptunian pitfall) in that assumption. Because planets appear to move backward in the zodiac (an optical illusion called retrograde motion due to the earth also being in motion), slow planets take 1-2 calendar years to transition between signs.
In 2019, we’re just over halfway through this important period when this sign and planet reinforce one another and their shared traits and inclinations are exhibited most powerfully. And when the union of the Sun and Moon at a New Moon occurs close to Neptune, these tendencies are accentuated even more.
During Neptune’s time in Pisces, there are two New Moons just two degrees from Neptune (2/21/12 and 3/13/21) and one Solar Eclipse New Moon only three degrees from Neptune (2/26/17). The New Moon on March 6, 2019 gets the award for closest to Neptune, less than half a degree away, and that’s as Pisces as it gets!
What can we expect in the coming four-week lunar cycle? A big dose of everything related to Pisces and Neptune.
This sign and planet are not known for being straightforward nor transparent. Instead, they operate in round-about ways, in the realm of illusion and mysteries. They deal in dreams rather than reality, in impressions, wishes and fantasies rather than facts. Their domain encompasses fog, veils, and whatever goes on behind the curtain or behind your back. Their associated territory in a chart is the Twelfth House, a place indicating hidden enemies, imprisonment or confinement. This is also the area of our connection to the Divine (however that’s defined) and our need for retreat and rest. Neptune and Pisces are affiliated with sleep, healing (which takes place during sleep), the medical field, medications and self-medicating, including alcohol and recreational drugs. In the body, the related areas are the feet (containing reflex points that impact one’s entire physiology) and the immune system. On a psychological level, projection, escapism and delusion come into play, as well as pathological lies and playing the victim. Positive expressions of this energy are visualization, prayer, empathy and psychic ability. This is the sign and planet most connected to fear and faith, the opposite side of fear’s coin.
We may be in for extra confusion in the current period courtesy of Mercury, the planet of communication, traveling in reverse in Pisces. This can feel like swimming in circles (the fish chasing its tail). The retrograde began on March 5 with Mercury at 29° Pisces, a degree of selflessness and sometimes of suffering. This likely makes this bout of Mercury Retrograde in Pisces more challenging than some Mercury backtracks in this sign. In addition, Mercury passes by Neptune three times: February 18-19 (depending on your time zone) in the approach to its back-up, March 24 while Retrograde, and April 2 when leaving the back-up range. These are apt to be peaks of Piscean problems or possibilities. Jupiter, which magnifies whatever it’s involved in, is roughly 90 degrees (“square”) Neptune during this time (exact January 13 and June 16) and Mercury will feel Jupiter’s amplification when Mercury is square Jupiter on February 22, March 15 and April 12. The final connection may be most difficult since Jupiter turns Retrograde on April 10 and thus is motionless and exerting additional force.
Other important links for Neptune in this period (which Mercury will also replicate) are a jarring 45-degree “semisquare” with Uranus (exact December 15, 2018 and May 1, 2019), a planet famous for shocks and surprises, and easy 60-degree “sextiles” with two planets in practical, grounding earth signs: Saturn in Capricorn (exact January 19 and June 18) and Mars in Taurus (exact March 10). These sextiles with planets in earth signs are likely to be our saving grace to keep us from going off the deep end. Pisces and Neptune don’t incline us to stick to something but Mars in Taurus won’t let go or give up.
Recommendations for handling these energies:
To satisfy the Uranus-Neptune semisquare, break away from your comfort zone or old established ways and surprise yourself by reaching for a dream. To honor Saturn’s need for maturity and wisdom, don’t go crazy; have a plan or at least a realistic goal. Then bring in the assistance of Mars in Taurus by being persistent and steady in heading toward the finish line. In the process, trust your sixth sense since Mercury in Pisces isn’t good at logic. Use the positive visualization feature: “believe to achieve” and “see it to be it.”
To learn more about Mercury Retrograde in Pisces, watch the February episode of LOOKING UP entitled “Swimming in Stormy Seas.” Some of the other phenomena mentioned in this blog are also addressed in the March episode “Shift Into Spring.”
One more thing: we shouldn’t ignore another major astrological occurrence on March 6, 2019: Uranus enters Taurus for a visit of approximately seven years. It made its first foray into Taurus on May 15, 2018, with Neptune at 16°10’ of Pisces, only one degree from a precise semisquare. At Uranus’s re-entry into Taurus, Neptune is at 16°9’, a nearly exact duplication of the prior set-up. On May 15, 2018, the Kilauea volcano eruption in Hawaii began, a very apt symbol for the shift from a fire to an earth sign for the planet related to volcanoes and explosions in a tension relationship with the planet of the oceans. Literally fire went into the ocean and then created more land (earth). Over the next seven years, expect Mother Nature to give us some significant wake-up calls as Uranus, the “alarm clock” planet, travels through earth sign, Taurus.
The new year promises a lot of hope and opportunity for growth. Jupiter is in its sign of rulership, Sagittarius, for most of 2019 (11/8/18 – 12/2/19). This is the planet of optimism in the sign of expansion. Yet there are precarious periods when it’s better to lay low than forge ahead. January is such a time.
As January gets going, two planetary turning points pack a wallop. When planets begin or end their apparent backward motion (retrograde), they seem to stand still for days (called “on station”), which intensifies their influence. Uranus, acting like an alarm clock to shake and wake us, shifts from reverse to forward motion on 1/6, less than 24 hours after a Solar Eclipse New Moon on 1/5. On 1/10, dwarf planet Eris, known for being warlike and disruptive, does likewise. In between, the most trying combination of the year kicks into high gear, the Jupiter-Neptune square on 1/9.
It may help that the New Moon is in stable Capricorn and very close to (less than 3° from) Capricorn’s ruling planet, Saturn. This influence offers grounding in common sense and tradition, or restraint by virtue of rules. Saturn keeps Jupiter reined in (at least a bit) via a mild semisextile (30°) connection. Neptune two signs from (sextile) the Sun, Moon and Saturn contributes a touch of softness but can’t be very helpful since it’s in a jarring relationship with Uranus (see next paragraph). A nice Water sign trine (120°) from Venus in Scorpio to Chiron in Pisces supplies sympathy and could help reduce the impact of financial bumps. Venus is one of two money planets while Chiron is an asteroid with a healing “repairman” function. But they’re up against some heavyweights.
An insidious influence from two slow-moving planets sets a snare into which quicker planets fall. From the second half of 2017 into the first half of 2019, Uranus and Neptune form a grating connection (semisquare) five times. The most recent instance on 12/15/18 is still reverberating. These two planets are within 1° of their exact 45° relationship from 11/13/18 to 1/27/19. (The next occurrence is the finale on 5/1/19 (with a repeat of their 1° range this spring from 3/19 to 5/30.) Uranus brings shocks and surprises. Neptune acts out of sight and sneaks up on you. Their combined effect spawns great confusion and instability. For instance, the 2018 Janet’s Plan-its warned of “volatility in commodities and the stock market” from their interaction. Well, we’ve been having that! Big Jupiter amplifies the problems when it interacts with Uranus and Neptune on 1/9 and 1/13, respectively (as it will again 6/6 and 6/16). Speedy planets join the fray: Venus and the Sun, traveling 45° apart, form a tangled mess with these three 1/18 – 1/22 (including at the Lunar Eclipse Full Moon on 1/21) and Mercury follows suit 1/23 – 1/24 for a wild roller coaster week. Situations come to a head at a full moon, even more so at an eclipse.
Eclipses occur when the Sun and Moon line up with the lunar Nodes, the directional indicators showing our path for spiritual or cultural development. Currently the North Node in Cancer aims us toward caring for home, family and nation, moving us away from the domination by corporations and government associated with the South Node in Capricorn. Uranus is halfway in between, forming a T-square (which marks a turning point) with the Sun, Moon and Nodes. Their effect is not a gentle nudge but more like a slap in the face. The question is whether Neptune’s collaboration will bring empathy for desperate situations or signal an escapist ignoring of troubles. Think of how Al Gore warned us years ago of the “inconvenient truth” of global warming and how still some people think there’s no problem or that we have all the time in the world to save our planet from devastation. We’re hearing from the scientists now that we do not. It’s time to raise awareness, maybe through a march or something like a Climate Aid concert. Or Mother Nature may supply inspiration through a calamity.
Maybe we can muster up a sense of urgency. Mars, the planet of action, is in its sign of rulership, Aries, from 12/31/18 to 2/14/19, bringing agitation and impatience. There’s also a tendency to jump the gun (and perhaps toward more gun violence since Mars and Aries rule weapons and attacks). Fortunately, Mars does not interact with the Uranus-Neptune semisquare or we’d be on the lookout for trouble from religious rebels. (Uranus rules revolutionaries and Neptune rules belief systems.) Instead, at the lunar eclipse, Mars is in harmonious relationships with Jupiter (trine) and Neptune (semisextile), mitigating the difficulties posed by the Jupiter-Neptune square. Neptune is related to fears on one side of its coin and faith on the other. When Jupiter expands these in January, we’ll see extremes of both expressions, twisted weirdly as a result of the involvement of Uranus, planet of the unusual. Mars encourages us to take action rather than being frozen in apprehension. See if you can figure out something positive to do to help in the areas in which you’re involved. Together, we can make a difference.
Although, the new year holds some good prospects, carefully choosing when to act will help ensure success in your endeavors. Take advantage of the recommendations in the Janet’s Plan-its Best & Worst Days of 2019 list, a free downloadable PDF. And mark your appointment calendar with the Janet’s Plan-its 2019 Day Ratings or print the free 12-month list to carry with you. Add luck to your plans using the power of the Plan-its!
Sooner or later, everyone has to deal with Mercury Retrograde (explained in detail in my article Mercury Retrograde). The general recommendation is to keep your wits about you and be willing to revise or redo.
Every three months or so, the “trickster” planet Mercury appears to move backward through the zodiac for about three weeks. Since it’s the planet of communication and local transportation – key matters in our everyday lives – it can have a strong impact! Sometimes, you’ll hardly notice its effects, but when the range of degrees where it backtracks connects to your chart strongly, you’ll definitely feel its influence. The most intense effect occurs at the degree where Mercury appears to stop to change direction, called the “station.” For about a week centering on the date of the directional change, Mercury remains nearly motionless in that degree. [Check if any Mercury station degrees hit your chart using the Janet’s Plan-its “On a Page” bar graphs.]
The time frame for Mercury’s discombobulating effects is not just during the three weeks it’s actually moving in reverse. It also includes a period of about 2-1/2 weeks before and afterward as Mercury moves forward through the range of degrees of its retrograde. These are known as the entry and exit “shadow” periods. Actions undertaken in the shadow before the retrograde (entry shadow) often require revision or modification in the retrograde back-up period and in the shadow following the backtrack (exit shadow). When Mercury links to your chart, it makes three “hits” – one before the retrograde, one during and one after. So the overall time frame lasts for about two months altogether, with about two months free and clear between bouts.
Things that occur during a Mercury Retrograde can have a long-lasting impact. One important example that comes to mind is the US presidential election of 2000, which occurred as Mercury stood still ending a Retrograde backtrack. The recount mess during the exit shadow resulted in a Supreme Court ruling decided by one vote that resulted in denying Al Gore his victory. Think of how different our world would be now if we had had an environmentally friendly president at the start of this millennium!
When we take into account the weeks and months before and after a person’s birth, long-term experiences of Mercury Retrograde come into play. The astrological technique called “progressions” correlates the consecutive days after one’s birth with the consecutive years of one’s life, on a day-for-a-year basis. (See “Making Progress – Astrologically” in the Study Booth Articles.) With this forecasting system, if you are both during a Mercury Retrograde, sometime in your first 22 years, you move past its strongest effects, but it still takes another decade-plus to get out of its “shadow.” You could be live through decades when your progressed Mercury goes through the entire cycle of entry shadow, retrograde and exit shadow. If you’re born just after an exit shadow, in your later life you enter a shadow. The only people who avoid any extended period of Mercury Retrograde or its shadows by progression are those born after an exit shadow and who die before the next entry shadow. So chances are, you’ll have to live a while with some influence from a Mercury Retrograde.
The extended, progressed version of the Mercury Retrograde cycle is not easily observable on a day-to-day basis. Long-term trends or projects are where we see it at work. Since it’s an influence inclining us to re-do or go back to something, the progressed Mercury Retrograde is a period to undertake an activity or project you wanted to do before but didn’t get around to, or to complete something that was unfinished. Mercury is associated with the hands, so the Retrograde is a good time to learn something new that’s done with the hands, such as a craft or playing an instrument.
I can say for myself that I have progressed Mercury Retrograde from 2002 to 2022. I always wanted to be a writer and during this time, I created my Janet’s Plan-its calendars and they grew to be quite a detailed and involved annual book. Since they became a lot of work that is only meaningful for a brief period of time (a year), before I finish my retrograde I want to complete a book that won’t “expire.” This is a key reason I decided to forego writing more calendars and focus on other writing and other means of communication. Another thing I attribute to my progressed Mercury Retrograde period is that for the past few years, I’ve noticed I frequently, unconsciously hold my lips closed and retract them inward. For someone who’s been pretty “big-mouthed” most of my life, this is an interesting change!
If you want to learn about your natal and progressed Mercury, you can look in an ephemeris to see what was going on in the months before and after your birth and compare Mercury Retrograde station degrees to your natal chart. In a full general reading, I always look at that for a client, or it can easily be covered in a mini-reading with me. (Contact me and we’ll set something up.) We’ll discuss how you can “live with Mercury Retrograde.”
Today’s Rating: 2 Today’s Message:
The need for repairs and improvements is widespread and evokes sympathy but runs into multiple roadblocks. Later, ways and means become apparent. Teamwork helps.
Days are rated 1 – 5 (1 = most challenging; 5 = easiest)
Once in every two-year period, we have a two-month backtrack of the planet of action, Mars. Usually Mars wants to propel us forward but when it goes backward itself, it signals a time to step back and repeat a prior activity or do a reversal in the ways you’ve been doing something. You will experience its tug strongly if it connects to a planet in your birth chart. In that case, whatever that planet represents shows the area in which you want a turn-around.
Mars and the Sun are exactly opposite on July 27, marking the halfway point of Mars’s retrograde June 26 to August 27. If you take into account the time frame during which Mars moves forward through the range of degrees of its backtrack before it’s in backward motion (called the entry “shadow” of the retrograde) from May 12 to June 26, and the time when Mars proceeds forward again through that range after backing up (called the exit “shadow”) from August 27 to October 8, there are about five months when it hangs out in the same 11-degree part of the zodiac, and thus the same portion of a chart. That’s plenty of time to figure of what you want to do differently! It also seems like a long time to be stuck in one place.
The back-up sector is between 28 degrees of Capricorn and 9 degrees of Aquarius. Mars’s sign change gives us a hint of its effects and how to use this energy. Capricorn represents the old guard and established, tried-and-true methods while Aquarius leans toward experimentation, individualism and all that’s modern. Mars was in Capricorn March 17 to May 16. The retrograde began in Aquarius, showing we were heading for something new, but as it returns to Capricorn (August 12 to September 10), we need to go back to old ways and see either what we can glean from them or what about them we want to reject. When Mars returns to Aquarius September 10 (until November 15), we can take the best of the old and blend it with the best of the new.
A key interaction in Mars’s back-and-forth dance is a 90-degree link (called a “square,” known for friction) with unpredictable Uranus, the ruling planet of Aquarius, where Mars is located as it connects to Uranus. This combination gives rise to temper flare-ups and sudden motions (because of which, it signals increased accident potential). The three times this contact is exact are May 16, August 1 and September 18. Exercise extra caution around these dates, perhaps especially when exercising since Mars rules muscles and athletics. Uranus rules ankles and shins, possibly a weak area at these times.
From July 7 to September 24, Mars is in a condition called “out of bounds,” meaning it’s off the “regular playing field” defined by the Sun’s apparent path around the earth. It’s riding particularly low in the night sky. This strengthens, or leads to extremes in, Mars’s traits of impatience, anger, impulsiveness, solo action and confidence. It’s not all bad – Mars can help you be brave.
If you think Mars is looking particularly large, bright and red lately, you’re right. It’s closer to earth than it’s been in 15 years. (Its next close approach is in October 2020 – see this article from NASA.) The 2003 approach was the closest in 60,000 years! That year, the US began the Iraq War. I’m hopeful we won’t get into a new war this time around. Aggression seems to be greater in years of high sunspot activity (which 2003 was close to) and we’re currently at a low point in the sunspot cycle. Fortunately, our President’s natal Mars (named for the god of war) is not contacted by Mars in this retrograde cycle.