Analyzing astrological archetypes can get so complex that it’s always fun to see them expressed literally. In Star Trek Into Darkness, the newest installment of the sci-fi franchise, we get hit over the head with the Uranus-Pluto square symbolism in the first few scenes. In astro-speak, right now we're in the middle of a long cycle in which Uranus is in the sign of Aries, and Pluto is in Capricorn, and they are in a tense relationship with each other called a square. At the opening of the film, we get to see Spock standing in the middle of a sea of red, in the heart of an active volcano that’s minutes away from erupting. His task is to plunge some technological wizardry into the core of the volcano that will turn the lava solid thus preventing its eruption. His goal is to protect a race of indigenous people who are at a fragile beginning stage of their evolution.
With his sharply angular haircut and high-tech finery, Spock is one of our classic Uranian cultural icons – the genius outsider, whose ability to detach from his emotions is his most prominent asset. The image of him standing in the middle of the volcano vividly embodies the archetypal field of Uranus in Aries – with Spock evoking Uranus and the hot lava and danger of the situation evoking Aries. In its high expression, the Aries endgame is to develop courage. So we can find strong Aries signatures in the presence of heroic deeds.
Pluto also stands out in this image, as the elemental power of the volcano. And the entire situation evokes the transit of Uranus square Pluto, with the vulnerable life forms threatened by environmental chaos, and the struggle to save them.
The film tackles several other Uranus-Pluto themes, including corrupt and powerful organizations, and renegades who buck the system while struggling to save humanity from some dark evil. The struggle and conflict - that's the feeling of the square. During a square, we can't predict who will win, but we can plan on the conflict.
The Enterprise plunges at warp speed into a Plutonian realm – the darkness alluded to in the film’s title – a forbidden zone that we’re meant to be scared of. A place we wouldn’t want to go without some extremely good reason. As always, art imitates life, and as a metaphor, the Enterprise's courageous journey into darkness reminds us that we’ll have to undertake something similar in our own lives if we’re to personally navigate this transit well.
The film could do a better job handling sexist objectification and it relies a little too much on action at the expense of psychological depth. But it does make an important and timely point in its conclusion. In his closing words, Kirk reminds us that we need to diligently address corruption at all levels of our power structures, no matter how high up the chain of command. We're encouraged to keep up the good fight in pursuit of our higher goals without giving up. The film ends at just the moment where the original series begins, as we’re reminded of the original Enterprise’s mission. In a wonderful expression of the high-end potential of Uranus in Aries, Kirk famously restates the mission of his crew: “To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”
All of this begs the question: where are YOU going boldly? If you’re not quite sure, it might be time to defeat your own inner tyrant and put your metaphorical Enterprise Into warp speed and head off in an entirely new direction, even if that takes you right into the heart of darkness.
From the end of February through most of March, we're graced by a ton of planets in Pisces. This is a relatively rare occurence, and some folks born during this time will have what we call a Pisces stellium. Not everyone agrees on the definition of a stellium, but the most liberal definition is having 3 or more planets close to each other in the same sign.
I've been noticing several signs of the deluge of Piscean influence, which is especially heightened now while the Sun is conjunct Neptune in Pisces. Neptune in Pisces with the sun just magnifies the Pisces field immensely. What does that mean? Here is a mini sample of things I just noticed this morning that will help shed some light on what Pisces is all about.
Full Moon in Cancer 12/28/12 at 2:21 AM PST at 7º Cancer
On Friday December 28th, the full moon, at home in Cancer, the sign of the Great Mother, is matched in expression by its opposition from the Sun in Capricorn conjunct Pluto. Here we have the archetypal mother-nurturer, opposite the solar-expressive father. On this day, our need to find sustenance, warmth, and emotional comfort stands in sharp contrast to our solar principle – the ego’s desire to express, to do, and to accomplish; the powerful drive to be, to exist; the capital-letter expression of I AM. In Cancer the moon wants to support, to heal, to nurture. In Capricorn, the Sun wants to build something concrete, and importantly, to leave behind a legacy. The opposition suggests some tension between these forces. Maybe this nurturing element comes at an unwanted time. Or our drive to accomplish perhaps steamrolls our need for rest, comfort and support.
While browsing the web for some Great Mother imagery, I was reminded of this painting of mother and child set in the Great Depression. This imagery sheds light on another angle of the archetypal polarity between Cancer and Capricorn - here, the nurturing mother seen in her stark strength and vulnerability, at odds with the unrelenting demands of culture, of ego. The mother here is seen struggling to nurture in the absence of adequate resources, thwarted at every turn, by society, and the world of "men." In this month's full moon, the conjunction from Pluto to the Sun adds to our picture that perhaps the Great Mother is facing an adversary who is too strong to "kill with kindness."
On the weekend of June 1, just before the transit of Venus (which occurred on Tuesday June 2), the new film Snow White and the Huntsman made its debut in the number one spot at the box office. Composed of a rich tapestry of symbolic imagery, the film was released in concert with some of the strongest planetary alignments of June 2012. This visually striking film presents us with a wonderful opportunity to take a look at the darker sides of the Venus archetype. We can also learn something about the Venus retrograde cycle in the process.
We get Venus Retrograde cycles only once every two years or so. Already a special event because of its rare occurrence, the 2012 Venus retrograde cycle is an exceptional one in that it occurs simultaneously with several other important astrological events, including the rare transit of Venus, Neptune stationing in Pisces, several eclipses (or occultations), and later in the month, the station of Saturn in Libra, plus the first exact square of Uranus and Pluto, just to name a few! You can read more about these events in my blog post, A Perfect Storm.
In a recent article I wrote published exclusively in the Digital Edition of The Mountain Astrologer, I explore these transits and some of the symbolism in the film in detail. You can purchase TMA Digital and read it there, or follow the link below to read it now on my site!
As I started the research for this article on May 2012’s Venus Retrograde in Gemini (and the rare Transit of Venus that occurs on June 5), I quickly opened up a rather large can of worms. For it seems that in June of 2012, we have the makings of a perfect astrological storm. You see, when we look at key moments in history, we almost always find dynamic planetary transits bunched up in clusters around those same dates. It’s in those times when many key transits occur simultaneously that we tend to find more outward events – landmarks for memorable moments in history where we find sea changes, shifts, beginnings and endings of cycles. In June of 2012, we find one of those clusters that suggest June could be a month in which important formative outer events transpire. The conditions for the storm start to form in May when Venus goes retrograde.
Historically memorable events serve as bookends that we can use to compartmentalize segments of time. They help us organize the chaos that is daily existence into quantifiable, understandable bits. This way of organizing events into cycles is one of many processes that give us an experience we like to call sanity. In truth, the sheer enormity of paradoxical and contradictory data in the world is mind-blowing. It’s just too much for any one person to objectively synthesize. We need a way to organize the data, and to then create meaning out of it.
This information-sifting is a crucial step in our individual evolutionary processes, helping us to find meaning and make decisions. The planet Venus represents a crucial organizational process that occurs within the psyche. We'll have a chance to learn more about this process during the current Venus retrograde cycle.
Information can be organized in many ways. A Virgo style of organization might express itself as compartmentalizing the facts of life into neat folders (one for all of the frightening facts, one for the pleasant thoughts, etc.). A Sagittarius style might express as organizing the data into systems of thought, big picture philosophies, and broad sweeps of holistic understanding. Venus relates to an organizational process that results in art. More than just compartmentalization of facts, the organization that Venus refers to is endowed with her signature principles of proportion, balance, and grace.
Welcome to 2012. It sure feels like "full steam ahead" in my neck of the woods. If you're feeling a forward whoosh of energy, you're right on track, as we head towards an earth trine of Mars in Virgo to the Sun in Capricorn on January 12. We're just coming out of a Jupiter retrograde cycle, in which you likely did some re-visioning of your big picture plans. You might be itching to put some of those plans into action. If there are projects that have been waiting in the wings, now is a great time to get them moving. These are good days to spend a little more time working, and less time playing. Take care of the details, get the structure in order, establish the foundation. Because just a couple of weeks later, it's going to be time to put the brakes on.
The planet Mars relates to our personal will, our ability to take action and assert ourselves, and our sense of "I want." Every two years, Mars has a retrograde cycle which lasts for about 2 1/2 months. But like Mercury retrograde, our experience of the cycle is actually a bit longer, encompassing the entire span of degrees which Mars will traipse back and forth over, emphasizing that sign and house in our chart.
As many huge transits take up our attention, I was reminded by an article on HuffPost Business that Saturn is still in Libra. You may have heard the news reports that employers are now using social media sites to screen new (and current) employees. And they’re being very Saturnian with the information. What’s that you say? They’re JUDGING you based on how you APPEAR in your SOCIAL circles? Saturn is the judge. Libra is the social circles and also your concern about what others think of you. With this report, we see the archetypes in action.
Saturn in Libra increases our concern about judgment from superiors or authority figures. It gets us thinking about what “proper” behavior is. Libra rules what’s polite, and Saturn is the hall monitor.
Saturn is the planet of “you get what you deserve” and also of eye-for-an-eye justice. You can be sure that with this combination, you’ll have to pay for any social “mistakes” you make online. So this isn’t just talk.
The report shows that 45% of employers are using social media screening. And most of them are finding material to judge you unworthy for. This is something you’ll need to take seriously if you’re in a position to be evaluated for a job (or maintain a current job).
Wow, it's been a while...
Sun is rare in the Pacific Northwest, so I've been enjoying it as much as possible. If you're in Texas or the Southwest, or one of the other parts of the country experiening a heat wave, you won't appreciate my enthusiasm for spending time outdoors. One of my friends on Facebook responded to a recent excited call to get outside with a picture of a thermometer at 106°. I lived in Texas for several years, so I can definitely appreciate the sentiment. But out here, sunny hot days are few in number, so we enjoy them when we can.
But on to the astrology of the moment...
We're in the shadow of the next Mercury Retrograde cycle, which will last from August 2 to August 26. During the shadow period it's usually a good idea to start moving a little more slowly, double check your work for errors, and get ready for a slower rhythm and pace. It's time to start thinking about finishing up the projects you're in the middle of, rather than starting new ones.
But this shadow period might feel a little stronger than usual. As I write this, Mercury is exactly opposite Neptune. If you've been noticing delays while driving, or blocks to progress, or technological mishaps, you're probably noticing the effects of this Mercury opposite Neptune transit, which is exact today, July 31. It might feel a lot like Mercury Retrograde, and it has enough in common with Mercury Retorgrade that it amplifies those energies. But there are some additional dimensions to this transit that I'll try to shed some light on for you.
From the view here on earth, we find ourselves once again nearing the time when Mercury appears to retrace its steps in the sky for a roughly 3-week period we call Mercury Retrograde. This next period occurs from March 30 through April 23, 2011. We astrologers often speak as if every Mercury Retrograde period is the same – as if the same advice holds true for every retrograde period. And yet, the sky patterns are never the same! All of the planets are in constant, engaged, moving, changing relationship with each other, never repeating a story the same way twice. And that includes Mercury.
So what makes this Mercury Retrograde period special? For starters, it occurs during a time of a huge changing-of-the-guards moment among the slower outer planets. These larger planets set the tone for longer periods of time. When we think of “the 70s” or “the 60s,” an image is evoked of a period of time – a slice of life in which certain defining themes held sway over the whole world. We find ourselves now at the beginning of one of these new phases as both Uranus and Neptune change signs.
Edgy Uranus has finally settled into its next long stint in the edgy sign of Aries. And in April, Neptune begins a new phase of enlightenment as it moves into its comfortable home in Pisces. Moments like these represent great shifts in global consciousness – times when we can perceive a collective movement into specific modes of expression.