With the Sun having entered Scorpio just a few days ago and Halloween just around the corner, we are starting down the path of the hours of darkness outnumbering the hours of daylight in the northern hemisphere. In the ancient Celtic world this was celebrated with Samhain, the festival celebrating the end of harvest and the beginning of winter. There is a definite sense of descending into the underworld during this time. In the northern hemisphere, the days are getting darker and colder and rainier, and we can literally see the deciduous trees shedding their leaves and shutting down until spring.
Although this can seem like a dark time and a time of death, there is a beauty in the turning inward and the introspection that this time brings. Even if we may not consciously be reflecting inward, it is highly likely that we are spending more time at home under a blanket than we did during the summer when we were much more outwardly facing and social. This is a time to think about the seeds we are metaphorically developing that will blossom in the springtime. Are we the kind of person we want to be? Are we living out our values? This isn’t a time to berate ourselves (which is rarely helpful for personal transformation anyway!), but it is a wonderful check-in point to see if we want to change course or alter direction.
And in so many ways, this is what the sign of Scorpio is really all about. Scorpio is a sign that celebrates the depths, and the very beginnings of seedlings that form that will grow into something amazing in the spring.
The Sun is not particularly at home in Scorpio. The Sun thrives when it is seen, and nothing about the Scorpio season celebrates what is seen. However, if the Sun spends its time in Scorpio wisely, it is likely that what the Sun manifests when he makes his way around the zodiac to Aries will be simply amazing. There is no beautiful thing to see without much work going on in the depths and behind the scenes. And this is what the Scorpio Sun is all about. Preparing what is below so that it can burst forth into glory.
It doesn’t feel arbitrary to me that in the classic “Zodiacal Man” which correlates Zodiac signs with body regions, that Scorpio is associated with (among other things) the reproductive organs. There is definitely a pre-birth component to Scorpio that ensures that there is something to be born in the spring.
Scorpio is also a Fixed Water sign, which further gives us clues into the characteristics of the Scorpio season. Fixed signs don’t change quickly, and they represent the most stable part of the season they occupy. (For Scorpio, this is midway through the Autumn.) There is a sense that it is really Fall. Leaves are falling, the weather is getting colder, the days are getting darker; we can’t fool ourselves into thinking that we are still in the Summer the way we often can during Libra season. This is one of the beautiful things about the Fixed signs; they so thoroughly manifest the power of the season they inhabit that we can see the full archetype of that season. For Autumn in the northern hemisphere, that full archetype represents a decent into darkness. In most areas, it also represents an increase in moisture and rain (remember that Scorpio is a Water sign! It is not surprising that our Fixed Water sign heralds the coming of wet days!).
With so much happening astrologically in fixed signs in 2021, the Sun’s entrance into Scorpio also prepares it to square or oppose Saturn, Uranus, and Jupiter over the next month. That is a set of three major aspects! There are definitely many areas for each of us to dig up within ourselves that will be difficult and unexpected, but that also have so much potential to really help us in our journey through life (especially with the final major aspect of the month being a square to our greater benefic planet Jupiter). Hard times are hard; but hard times can also bring good, even though good may feel so far from us.
As I watch the rain outside of my front window today and think about what that means for the Scorpio archetype, I am reminded that pre-birth typically involves darkness and water. That could be the water and darkness that cause a seed to sprout in the earth, the water and darkness that surround a baby in the womb, the tears we may cry in the darkness before we can rise at dawn as a stronger person, or the water and darkness from which humanity collectively came eons ago. Water and darkness are the harbingers of the change of life.
This is the beauty of our Scorpio season; it is our time to go deep within the dark areas of ourselves, do our shadow work, look unflinchingly into our truest selves and prepare the correct seeds to sprout during warmer seasons. This season, I hope I can work from this place of not re-birth, but pre-birth. Which dark corners of ourselves are ripe for examination so that we can manifest something different in the future than we have in the past? Scorpio contains the magic of that work; it is a time to prepare.
We are exactly experiencing our New Moon in Virgo as I write this; both the Sun and the Moon are at 14 degrees of Virgo. Virgo New Moons are excellent times to evaluate what is working for us and what is not, and to remove all of the cruft.
This year, our Virgo New Moon is particularly potent as the Sun and Moon are exactly trining Uranus in Taurus as the New Moon conjunction occurs. Uranus in Taurus often brings disruptions to our basic living needs…. food, shelter, money, and other material goods.
With Uranus in Taurus trining the Virgo New Moon, there are many positive ways this could manifest!
With so much outside of our control in 2020 and 2021, this might be an opportunity to take control of some of the small things we can control! Take your car in for an overdue oil change, organize that closet that you just haven’t had the motivation to get to, start a practice of doing food planning or preparation on your days off of work so that you have homemade food at the ready when you need it, spend some time on personal grooming (styling your hair, plucking eyebrows, or those other things we all did frequently before covid kept us home so much!).
The common theme here is positively disrupting and “cleaning up” (literally or figuratively) some of our Taurus-based areas of life. Particularly with everything we all have been dealing with over the past 18+ months with covid, it can sometimes feel hard to muster motivation for simple, easy, benign things like tidying our house, brushing our hair, and prepping food for meals. It can feel easier to “lose ourselves” in an imaginary world brought to us by our favorite author or our favorite Netflix show than to put any thought or energy into our physical world. But it is important to remember that we are actually physical beings in a physical world. Although it might be easy during these times to pretend that we don’t have hair to brush, the very act of being present in our bodies and doing something physical and down-to-earth can actually feel like a healing ritual, particularly during the Virgo Full Moon!
A wonderful way to start is to really ground yourself in your body. Sit in a comfortable place with as few distractions as possible, and take a few minutes to really check in with your body. Take a few deep breaths in an out, allowing each inhale and exhale to be 3-4 seconds in length. Gently clear out any chattering thoughts in your mind, and just allow yourself these few minutes to really focus on your body and your breath. As you breathe in and out, you are likely to become more aware of the rhythm of your heart beating. This is your own personal rhythm…. be attuned to it and notice it!
Whether you allow yourself time for cleaning your closet, alphabetizing your spice rack, or taking a few minutes just to breathe deeply into your body, allow yourself to find something physical and material that you may have been neglecting to take care of during this Virgo Full Moon, and put some energy into that area!
Sometimes writing is about effectively communicating information. Sometimes it is more evocative such that it conveys a feeling rather than specific information. Sometimes writing is a form of self-expression. Sometimes, though, writing is about attempting to grasp higher level universal truths and fit them to the lines and curves of our primitive human language and existence.
That is where I have mentally been the past week. There is a lot to say about the skies, as there always is, because the skies are always changing in endless (one might even suggest, eternal) cycles regardless of whether or not we notice.
But that is not what is on my heart to say tonight. Tonight, with Mercury exalted in Virgo loosely opposing Jupiter retrograde in Aquarius, I want to attempt to share larger, more philosophical thoughts in a way that I only might be able to tonight – with the stars aligning as they are.
Recently I heard news that a wonderful woman and a very wise psychic and astrologer had died unexpectedly. Although I did not know her well, I had experienced firsthand the power of her readings and her connection with the other world, and I mourned what the world lost in her wisdom and what her family lost through her passing.
We speak of “losing” someone, and that is exactly what a person’s passing feels like. Like a light going out on a dark night. Like your map blowing away while you are in an unfamiliar city. Like feeling lost even though you haven’t actually gone anywhere.
And of course for those who were closest to her, they didn’t lose only a spiritual woman and teacher; they lost a dear family member.
I don’t have any adequate words to mark her passing, but I felt compelled to say something. Because everything she taught and shared and believed in is so vital. And so real. On March 31, 2020 (coincidentally??) just as the pandemic was really starting and exactly as Jupiter and Pluto conjoined in Capricorn, and Saturn and Mars conjoined at 0 degrees of Aquarius, I had my first and only live conversation with her. A friend gifted me a reading with her, and I was not prepared by how much my life would change as a result of that reading. As she went through the reading, starting with my astrology chart and then fluidly moving to messages from my guides, I feltseen in a way that I had never felt before. As we spoke over the phone, the sky outside my home grew suddenly dark with clouds, and it started pouring rain. When we got off the phone, I felt almost as though I was awakening from a trance. I knew before my reading with her that I was just taking my first footsteps onto a different spiritual path…. what would become my life purpose, but her words affirmed that and gave me some specific direction. I have come so far spiritually over the past year and a half, and a huge part of this is due to her. I had actually just contacted her about a second reading since the skies (my inner skies and the outer skies) had changed a lot since our last conversation. I never got that second reading, but I am so grateful that I got the first.
The night before she passed, one of her sons and I got together to send her reiki, and I was just blown away by an image of her face in my mind with a powerful Leo energy and immense joy associated with it.
She passed as the New Moon in Leo was forming (on August 7th), midway between the double consecutive Aquarius Full Moons that bookend our Leo season (which she had written about just a few weeks before on instagram). It is unusual to have two consecutive Full Moons in the same sign. And it is a particularly unusual time this year, because midway between those Full Moons, the New Moon in Leo occurs just as the Sun conjoins Sirius (the day each year called Lionsgate).
Although it didn’t occur to me at the time that we were one day away from the Lionsgate Portal and the New Moon in Leo, it feels so natural that this time would have resonated with her. With the warm, enveloping energy of Leo so strong, and with the intuitive portal of rebirth and moving to higher levels of consciousness wide open, this seems like it would have been exactly a time for her energy. Nothing makes it better or easier that the world lost her, but it does at least feel as though she left surrounded by energy that resonated with her.
I am not able to articulate Universal Truth. Some things really are too big for the human brain, and certainly bigger than the human vocabulary. But A Universal Truth, such as I can describe it in words, seems to be that we actually never really lose a person. They go on ahead in order to be more fully found. But they continue to be knit with us through the memories in our soul, our shared experiences with them, and the fact that all life and all energy, and even all time, is intertwined. Wherever her beautiful energy and soul still exist, whatever astral planes she may be inhabiting, I send her the same wonderful vibes that she sent to everyone during her time on this earth.
Lughnasa – the final Celtic festival to celebrate the harvest. Celebrating the nearing end of summer and preparations for winter. Celebrating the last of the harvest while also facing the reality of another winter. Lughnasa falls on August 1, and this year it certainly does feel like the beginning of an end. Both of summer, which this festival marks, but also socially and astrologically.
Several days ago, Jupiter, after a brief respite in Pisces from May 13 – July 28, has retrograded back into Aquarius, leaving us wrestling with themes from several months ago that we likely thought ourselves past. Some of these are obvious and impersonal. The covid restrictions are an obvious example. As more and more people got vaccinated in the spring and early summer months and covid case numbers went down, many of us started to relax, feeling like after over a year and a half of restrictive Saturn energy (first Saturn co-present/conjunct Pluto in 2020, followed by Saturn square Uranus in 2021), we were finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Many of us started going to restaurants, started to see each other’s faces instead of just impersonal, emotion-hiding face masks. However, in the past few days, Jupiter our benefic planet retrograded out of his home sign of Pisces and into Aquarius where he spent the first half of 2021. He is no longer in a sign that he rules, and he is now back to being copresent with Saturn. What this means is that he is distinctly less able to work his “lucky” magic and the best we can hope for is a softening or a few bits of luck in our Aquarius-ruled areas of life. It is interesting to see how literally we are seeing this. Regardless of personal feelings that individuals may have about the covid vaccines, there is a very clear message from social and political leaders: Our way out of these newly-returned (Jupiter out of Pisces and back in Aquarius) restrictive measures (Saturn) is to get a vaccine (Jupiter, often positioned as a wise, benefic physician with healing remedies).
Apart from this very apparent difference we are seeing of Jupiter’s influence in Pisces versus moving back to Aquarius… what else may we expect to see due to this shift? It is partially complicated (of course!) because nothing happens in isolation. Jupiter retrograding back into Aquarius is not the only thing happening in the sky during this time! However, for the purposes of this post, I want to focus on Jupiter’s move from Pisces to Aquarius and the shift in energy that movement by itself will bring.
Aquarius is the coldest sign which occurs (in the Northern hemisphere) during the deepest part of the winter, when living things are most in hibernation mode and there is not yet a glimmer of rebirth in the frozen ground. Aquarius is also a fixed sign; there is no view yet of a transition to spring. Pisces represents a time of increasing warming and a time of change. The days are getting longer, and spring is imminent. The end of a cycle is completing and the new beginning is about to rise (quite literally) as a phoneix out of the ashes of the soil in spring.
A retrograde of Jupiter, the planet called in ancient times the “greater benefic” from the sign of Pisces into Aquarius will definitely cause a strong energetic shift. This may definitely feel like an energetic loss of optimism. Again, we may be seeing this in a literal way via the covid situation, but we also feel this on many other levels in our life. Areas in our lives where we may have felt change happening, the figurative ground of our souls starting to soften in preparation for new seeds to sprout, may now start to feel as though the change is stagnating or even reversing. We are becoming stuck for some reason we can’t define. The optimism that came so readily a few weeks ago may be difficult to find now. Particularly with Jupiter moving back to be co-present with Saturn in a Saturn-ruled sign, there will be even more of a feeling of increased restrictions, boundaries around us, and a cage (visible or invisible) that we just can’t break free of. In some ways, this may feel even more restrictive than the previous Jupiter in Aquarius energy in the beginning part of 2020, because we were used to restrictions then. Now, after experiencing the gorgeous Piscean rainfall of Jupiter on the parched ground of a Capricorn/Aquarius-dominated time, these restrictions may feel even greater, and the figurative chains on our ankles may feel even more chafing.
However, although this paints a somewhat bleak picture, there are good parts mixed in here as well! Any areas that are Aquarius-ruled in your life have been under a huge constrictive influence over the past few months with only Saturn in that sign. With Jupiter there now, you are likely to get a little luck back in those areas. Anything that has been especially blocked may get a little positive bump or nudge into an easier direction.
Also, Aquarius is the sign of social awareness and justice and the sign of technology. These are both definitely areas that could use an infusion of some of Jupiter’s benefic rays!
It is also important to be aware that Jupiter is retrograding into Aquarius; we have seen what Jupiter in Aquarius looks like between December 19, 2020 and May 13, 2021. Jupiter in Aquarius is not new to us! There is nothing in this energy that will likely feel new. Jupiter is retrograding through a path it has already recently traversed. So this is less about experiencing new restrictions than about a final opportunity to really close out some of the older themes in a productive way. If we just “got through” the first part of 2021 but didn’t really learn how to “be” in that restrictive space and deal with the increased boundaries in a positive way, this is a chance to go back and re-integrate some of that. If we had feelings around social justice, better uses for technology in our new air-centric world but didn’t really do anything about those feelings, this is the time! Whenever we have retrograde planets, there is a sense of turning inward rather than outward. So start with your internal work first before rushing out to make positive outward changes; this is the real wisdom that Jupiter retrograde into Aquarius can bring us.
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom – Aristotle
People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering. – St. Augustine
There has been so much change across the world over the past several months that it almost feels unbelievable that there could be much more change. However, May 10-15 was a significant week on the astrological front and, while nothing as prominent as the Saturn-Pluto conjunction happened over that week, there were still subtle but distinct shifts in energy that all of us will feel more or less, depending on natal chart placements.
Let’s start with Saturn, which stationed retrograde at 1 degree of Aquarius on Sunday, 5/10 in the Pacific timezone. There was a little relief when Saturn departed from Capricorn so that it was no longer co-present with Pluto and the South Node. Now Saturn is headed back for its last set of interactions in Capricorn for almost three decades, and there will definitely be a theme of closing things out. Although Saturn won’t actually enter Capricorn until July 2nd, its retrograde slows down any momentum that it has been gathering in Aquarius and moves it closer to revisiting its conjunction with Pluto. Wherever Capricorn lies in your natal chart, expect a brief return to some of those recurring, perhaps more difficult, Saturn/Pluto themes from the past 2 and a half year as those energies become fully integrated in your life and head towards their final chapter.
One day later, on May 11th, Mercury moved into Gemini. Moving from the slow, plodding fixed sign of Taurus into its home sign of Gemini will be a move that greatly strengthens Mercury’s power, and communication will see an energetic boost. This is one of the more positive movements in the month of May, and any boost we can get to communication (particularly given that the majority of it is now done via video conferencing for most of us!) will be welcome.
One day later, late, on May 12th, Mars finally departed Aquarius for Pisces. While Mars in Pisces is not particularly inspiring as the Piscean dreaminess is antithetical to the Mars “get things done” attitude, this will be the first time since Feb 17th that Saturn and Mars won’t sharea sign. Putting a sign boundary between them should definitely provide some relief from the Mars/Saturn tension from the earlier part of the year. Mars in Pisces will likely be all about “doing”, but will direct that “doing” based on Piscean/dreamy intentions that may or may not be reflected in objective reality, so some of this Martian action may not result in the intended consequence. When Mars departs Pisces for Aries on June 28th, we will likely see a much more aligned, effective energetic push towards movement and accomplishment!
A few hours after Mars departed Aquarius, late on May 12th, Venus stationed retrograde in Gemini. While a retrograde Venus certainly doesn’t make relationships easier, it provides an excellent opportunity to revisit aspects of your relationships that may or may not be working and provide the chance to really evaluate what is serving you in your relationships, and what could benefit from an overhaul.
Then, two days later on May 14th, Jupiter joined Pluto, Saturn, and Venus in retrograde motion as it stationed at 27 degrees Capricorn. All of these retrograde planets will definitely lead to a collective “slowing down” with less forward motion than we would typically like, and a lot of revisiting old ideas/thoughts/evaluations in our minds over and over as we look for better solutions, and generally experience delayed gratification, particularly since both benefics – Venus and Jupiter – are among the retrograde planets.
Bottom line: there was a lot of planetary action starting the week of May 10th, and much of it related to planets moving retrograde!
In fact, we saw three planets station retrograde during that four day period. The word retrograde comes from the two Latin roots of gradi (meaning “to walk”) and retro (meaning “backwards”). So the word literally means to walk backwards. And that is exactly how retrogrades tend to feel… as though we have taken the proverbial two steps forward and one step backward, unable to make the forward progress we are trying to and likely feeling somewhat frustrated in the attempt. This will be felt in nearly all areas of our charts that these four planets touch. Mercury will join the retrograde party on June 18, just a few days before Venus stations direct on June 24/25. We will be dealing with this general planetary retrograde motion for several months, as the various remaining outer planets move into retrograde (Neptune on June 23, Uranus on August 16, and Mars on September 10). As can be seen from the rough diagram below, all of the planets will spend some amount of time retrograde in 2020, and some of them (particularly the outer planets) will spend a significant portion of the year in retrograde.
What do all of these retrogrades mean? How “bad” are retrogrades? Although the idea of taking two steps forward and one step back doesn’t sound appealing to most of us, it seems as though it is already a strikingly accurate description for the way the after-effects of the giant Saturn-Pluto conjunction that coincided with the worldwide covid-19 pandemic are playing out. This is true on both an individual level and on a collective level.
Collective Retrograde Effects
As a collective, it would be hard to think of another time in recent history in which we have spent so much time agonizing and re-agonizing over decisions, trying to find the correct path forward. The news the past few weeks is rife with economic re-opening plans that are continuously re-evaluated as more data becomes available. Expected economic re-opening dates are announced, and then get pushed out farther. Re-openings start to happen and then are brought to a halt again. Restaurants are poised and ready to open and are continuously reviewing all guidelines for a safe re-opening over and over as more as the guidelines start to formalize.
Personal Retrograde Effects
And then, on a personal level, even for those geographic areas and industries where the economy is starting to re-open, everything looks very different than before and there is a feeling of having “retrograded” from the freedom that we experienced in January. Going grocery shopping takes longer than usual and requires extra vigilance to keep six feet between yourself and others. Even an activity as simple as walking down a sidewalk requires attention to detail and frequent detours to the road to keep from inadvertently passing too near another person. Buying simple items like flour or toilet paper may require trips to multiple stores.
Retrograde Effects by Planet
Yes, we are certainly seeing classic retrograde symptoms in our world already. And if we look at the four planets currently in retrograde (Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto), how would we expect to see this manifested in particular?
Venus is retrograde in Gemini, which at a surface level would indicate that communication in our relationships would be delayed/frustrated during this time. YES!! Has anyone not been struggling to communicate over Zoom, with family, friends, and coworkers during this time! Has anyone not experienced Zoom fatigue on multiple levels over the past few months? Is there anyone whose communication has been been overall easier and more understandable and concise recently. (If so, we should talk; I would love to see your natal chart! 😉 )
Jupiter & Pluto
Jupiter and Pluto are retrograde in Capricorn, which would lead us to think transformation (Pluto) and prosperity/growth (Jupiter) would experience delays/frustration in many of our erected structures (whether political, social, governmental, etc). YES!! All of the boundaries which we have erected based on social distancing/flattening the curve are slowing down prosperity/growth on a global as well as a personal scale. In addition, our efforts to transform the structures around the ways we work has been painful and difficult for many of us. Finding our new daily routine, adapting to life without physically spending time with friends, family, or coworkers, figuring out how to either manage being unemployed during this time or how to continue working effectively from home…. this has required a transformation for all of us in all of our daily habits and routines.
Saturn is currently retrograde in Aquarius (and soon to be Capricorn) before it goes direct. That would lead us to look for delays relating to boundaries and new and potentially revolutionary technologies as well as humanitarian efforts. Again, we are certainly seeing struggles in those areas. As we attempt to find a balance between providing support for those affected either physically or economically by the virus, we are all caught in a macroscopic and microscopic struggle to find new ways of working, new ways of helping others, new ways of slowing down the virus, etc.
What can we expect next? Neptune is the next planet to go retrograde in Pisces (its home sign) on June 23. All of this collective energy of dreaminess may result in assumptions based on fantasy rather than reality that further slow down our ability to move out of this massive covid-19 time. Or, since Neptune is in its home sign in Pisces and hopefully exhibiting its more positive qualities despite the retrograde, maybe the Piscean collective dreaminess and knowledge that we are all together in this will result in some creative (although potentially delayed) solutions?
Regardless, while this is a long stretch with a variety of planetary challenges and we find ourselves re-evaluating decisions over and over as more data becomes available and conclusions we made last week may now be irrelevant, it is important to find the areas where these configurations can counter-intuitively set us up for success and help us move forward in the longer-term.
We have all been given a unique opportunity to evaluate what really has a purpose in our lives versus what has just “been there” but doesn’t reflect an energy we want to cultivate. This could be a habit we want to break, a person who doesn’t contribute to the energy we want to surround ourselves with, a job that doesn’t fulfill us, a lifestyle choice that we have outgrown, a routine we don’t have job in following. We can all pay particular attention to the houses in which these retrograde planets fall for us for pointers on which areas of our lives could benefit from a second look. (Certainly the Capricorn house in each person’s chart will have been particularly activated over the past several years and especially in the first half of 2020.)
Essentially as some of the largest cyclical motions in our solar system have temporarily ground to a halt and slowly reversed directions, a pause button has effectively been pressed. We all have the opportunity to step back, evaluate the direction of our lives, and make any needed changes so that we are ready as the pause button is released. When fairer skies come in the future, they may be even fairer based on our ability to evaluate the areas of our lives that need to be transformed and on our motivation to put in the work (whether physical, psychological, spiritual, or emotional) to do just that.