August 20 - September 5, 2020
Mercury moves into its other home of Virgo today. Time to get out the measuring tapes, the microscopes, the thermometers and barometers, the counters, the calipers and the compasses. The mind, though, is our primary instrument. Like a kid with brand-new school supplies, the messenger planet is in its earthy element and ready to go to work–analyzing, quantifying and processing the world around us. Similar to its Gemini function, its role here is an investigative one, only whereas Mercury in the mutable air sign is primarily concerned with Who, When and Where, Mercury in Virgo wants to know more of the What, Why and How.
Mercury in the sign of the grain goddess is a winnower, separating the wheat from the chaff. The work, meticulous and often tedious, is not done for its own sake, but for the sake of making the crop edible. Done incorrectly, and we don’t eat! Here, details matter; skill-building is a rewarding pursuit; and logic, efficiency and precision are valued. This is a placement that is attuned to understanding not only how things operate, but also how they can be improved. Practicality plus adaptability, and a shrewd mind, are the gifts of Mercury in Virgo.
This transit, then, is a good opportunity to take a discerning eye to the Virgo house(s) in your chart, and think about the ways it could be made to run more efficiently. How is Mercury moving through, showing you your potential? What can be edited out? Be aware that this energy, while coming from a place of service and aspiration, can read as critical or calculating, and so practice patience and leave room for imperfection, with yourself and others. And if the task at hand feels overwhelming, Mercury in Virgo tells us to break things down into smaller, more digestible pieces, and soon we’ll be proudly crossing things off the list.
August 15 - January 14, 2020
Uranus went into Taurus, the sign of its fall, back in 2018, in what I envision as a retelling of the creation myth in which the ancient sky god, its namesake, mated with Gaia, the earth goddess. In that cosmology, equal but opposite forces united for the procreation of the world’s first inhabitants, the Titans and the Giants. But, like our transit, it wasn’t always a happy marriage. Fatherhood made Uranus paranoid over his power. He turned on his offspring, and threatened to kill them all. To protect them, Gaia charged her son Cronus (Saturn) with castrating his father and liberating his siblings. And so he did.
Fast forward through the ages to the time of Zeus’s Olympian rule. The Titan Prometheus, having formed the race of humans out of clay, defies Zeus in favor of his creation by giving us the gift of fire. It is a giant step for mankind. Astrologically, we can also think of the planet Uranus as Prometheus, given its role as rebel and awakener. Either way, whether you see in the planet the story of the primordial sky god or that of the trickster, the theme common to both is change: a disruption to the given order of things; a questioning of the status quo; or the inauguration of a new paradigm. In Taurus, we are looking at Gaia awakening, and simultaneously, at humanity waking up to her. Regimes—of gods and of mortals—come and go, but Mother Earth endures. It is a humbling reminder that we are of the earth, not on the earth, and as such, are ultimately subject to her whims.
Uranus stations retrograde on Saturday, as it does every year, and will retreat backwards until January of 2021. Outwardly, this could bring instability to an already volatile landscape, affecting weather patterns, financial systems, food production or animal populations, among other things. There is an old guard, an outdated establishment, that stands to be deposed. But there is also new blood, with new vision, eager to take on the role of humanity’s champion. Inwardly, we will be questioning our own values and what we consider our most precious currency. We will be placing a higher premium on truth and authenticity, and those things in turn may be questioned by others. Something inside will be awakening: sometimes it may flash, other times it may quake. But there are rumblings in our foundations and it will have us thinking differently.
Where Taurus falls in your chart is the area in your life where Uranus has been at work on you, poking at the sleepy, slow-moving bull, or bringing a shake-up that threatens the Taurean stability. Two years into this seven-year transit, and you may be chafing at the bit or feeling the pull of individuation. This retrograde is a good opportunity to take stock of your abundance, the gift of Taurus, and pay homage to the steady, enduring influences in your life. Then, tune into your inner voice, and try to hear what it is telling you. Cultivate the inner spark that will light the flame of clarity, and it will shed light on your unique gift to the world.
This week, Mars in Aries makes an exact conjunction with Black Moon Lilith, and an exact square to Pluto in Capricorn. Mercury in Leo squares Uranus in Taurus. And on Tuesday, the waning quarter Moon, square to the Sun, passes through Taurus, home to Algol—the star in the head of snake-haired Medusa, with her own connections to Lilith. Rebellious, unapologetic sexuality. The sacred High Priestess AND the bare-breasted Amazon. A remembering. A reclamation. A celebration of individuality. Power and pleasure, stirring and awakening. And equally—trauma responses, triggers, discomfort, shame, hypocrisy and rage.
How can women separate their sexuality from millenia of male domination and objectification? We can’t. Instead, we can try to tap into something much older, and begin to connect to the source of our own instincts. And then, we can look at our own shadows, withdraw judgment, and slowly begin to dismantle and redefine (the birth chart helps with this!). The exiled feminine archetype exists in all of us (men and women both); how we relate to it is highly complex and individualized, and takes courage, patience, and support to unpack.
Canonical mythology would tell us that Lilith, Medusa, serpents and sex are monstrous, dangerous bringers of evil. Certainly they can be, if misused and misunderstood. But their deepest power, I believe, is in warding it off. The Greeks called it “apotropaia”: deflecting harm or misfortune with magic. Folklore and historical accounts all over the world make reference to women exposing their naked bodies—not to arouse the male gaze—but to ward off attack or to avert evil. And if it wasn’t the breasts or the vulva, it could be the lolling tongue, the eye, or the hand. Medusa, the gorgon with the petrifying gaze, had healing and protective power so great Athena herself coveted it for her shield. The female body as magic itself: how hard the forces of history have worked to pervert this concept and to separate us all from it.
A mantra for these times, then: You contain immanent, inalienable power. Your body is an amulet, forged in the skies and in the womb, and realized at birth. It is yours to have sovereignty over, and to channel your life force. It contains ancient wisdom that wants to be remembered, as well as new ideas that want to be expressed. Mars and the Black Moon in Aries ask: What does assertiveness look like in your life? Confidence? Sexual expression? What stories do you carry about putting yourself first? They also say: being true to yourself is not selfish. And standing in your own unique power is a form of magic.