August 7 - September 6, 2020
The ingress of Venus into Cancer this weekend brings a more inward shift to our relationships, desires and artistic pursuits. We honor privacy and the past, feelings and family. The heartspace is no longer the wayfaring world of Venus in Gemini, where a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet. Venus in Cancer is more wary, more reliant on intuition, when it comes to opening up the circle of trust. We don’t just look to connect, we want to bond, and are protective of ourselves and of the ones we love. This transit makes us as much prone to bleeding hearts as to hurt feelings—Venus in the fluctuating Moon’s sign is not so much fickle as she is hungry, and potentially moody. Come the end of the month, our heroine will be facing challenging aspects from the infamous Capricorn crew and from Mars in Aries. It may be helpful during that time to remember that strength can take many forms, and, in the words of Brené Brown: “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they are never weakness.”
Venus in Cancer is looking for a place, or person, to call home. This is a time to think about the times in our lives when we’ve felt safest and calmest; to conjure up warm memories; to feed our bellies and others’ bellies; to fill our cups and to pour from our cups; to create and to cry. Whether you are retreating into your shell or emerging out of it depends on where Cancer is in your chart, or maybe just what day it is. For the next month, we are being called to negotiate the twists and turns of our inner landscapes, to put down some roots, and to feed the Feminine.
Our two personal planets, Mercury and Venus, are entering new signs this week, bringing new energy, perspectives and stories for our consideration. Our first traveler, Mercury, has spent over two months navigating the Cancerian river and has now been deposited at last in Leo, the land of the Sun, where it will stay until August 20. Here, you are empowered to express yourself, to speak from the heart. Here, you envision yourself as the star of your own play.
Mercury, goes the rule of thumb, is never more than a sign away from the Sun. If the Sun represents our archetypal image of the Hero-Father (in both men and women), then this implies something curious and profound about the workings of the mind (the Mercurial function) as an inheritance of paternity. When both Sun and Mercury are in Leo, whether natally or via transit, as is the case this month, that worldview then becomes enroyalled, and those internalized archetypes become the Hero-Father-King and the Divine Child. Themes of legacy, love, performance, idealization, responsibility, and following in footsteps, are all part of the Leo Sun-Mercury story.
Venus, meanwhile, is leaving Gemini, where she has been since early April, for Cancer, where she will reside until September 6 (more on that in another post). Before crossing the sign boundary, however, she will conjoin Rahu–the North Node and eclipse point, currently ruled by our Leo Mercury—a transit that I think deserves some attention. The 28th degree of Gemini, where this conjunction takes place, is a storied site, and home to two prominent fixed stars.
MOTHERS AND SONS
The first is Polaris, the “immovable star” around which all the other stars revolve, that has been used since antiquity by sailors and travelers to guide them toward their destinations. In medieval times it was Stella Maris, “the star of the sea,” an epithet for the Virgin Mary, the true blue, unwavering protector and safe haven. With sea-born Aphrodite conjunct Stella Maris, the Queen of Heaven reigns doubly, and supreme. The Pole Star is the brightest in the asterism we call Ursa Minor, the Little Bear, son of Ursa Major, the Great Mother Bear, who were both ensconced in the firmament by Zeus to protect them from Hera’s wrath. In the Vedic tradition, the star is Dhruva, the son of a king who had two wives. Beloved of his mother, but banished by his jealous step-mother, he spent his young life searching for enlightenment, and was rewarded by God not only with rightful kingship, but also with the stellar seat of honor, a symbol of steadfast devotion.
The second is Betelgeuse, a red giant on Orion’s shoulder, with a destructive reputation. Orion was unmatched in skill and strength, until the power went to his head and he began raping nymphs and boasting about killing all the animals on earth, at which point Hera (or Artemis) let loose the Scorpion on him. Betelgeuse is the Vedic Moon Mansion Ārdrā, watery home of Rudra, god of the raging storm and lord of the wild animals. It is ruled by none other than Rahu. We are in potentially savage, ruinous territory here.
The North Node/Rahu can be seen in two ways, astrologically. It can show us the way to our destiny, and point us toward the life path that our soul desires. It can also be a hungry ghost, that operates in shadow, leading us astray through our unconscious desires. With Venus conjunct Rahu at 28° Gemini I see two stories operating. One tells of finding a path toward kingship. Kings are not born, but are made. We all contain this archetype, regardless of gender identity. Who are the king makers and Queens in your life? Who has been your North Star? Who are your steady sources of support? Who has nurtured you with love, protected you in turbulent times, and encouraged your success? And equally important–what is your heart’s desire? How are you faring on the often bumpy path of love, beauty and relationship, and how are you keeping faith?
The other story seems to be about the dark side of power and desire: tyranny and greed. Things that lurk in the Venusian shadows that lead us to be blinded by our appetites. Prowess that leads to hubris and destruction. Leadership that isn’t carefully managed and desire that runs unchecked can have dire consequences for all who live on the earth. When the raging storms blow through, when autocrats leave destruction in their wake, can we find an opportunity to re-evaluate what we hold dear, what we value the most? Can we reckon with the potential tyrant in ourselves? Can we see a path cleared for new growth?
Amidst the chaos of the world, the uncertainty of life, and all the troubling space weather of 2020, these transits are a good reminder that royalty, sovereignty and peace are still available to all of us, when we stay in gratitude and when we lead with love.
August 1, 2020
The Celtic festival day of Lughnasadh marks the halfway point between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox, and the beginning of harvest season. We are now past Midsummer and there is a ripening in the air, on the earth, and in the blood.
Under the golden canopy of the late summer sky, the god Lugh, the virtuoso warrior-king for whom the day is named, watches proudly over the living land. He created this day, according to myth, to honor his foster-mother, the grain goddess who gives herself to give us life. Traditionally, tribute would be paid to her with tournaments, feasting, dancing and handfasting–shows of strength, dedication and loyalty. Known as Lammas if you go by the Christian calendar, it is also a time for oath-making and pilgrimage–visiting the holy well or climbing the sacred hill, and bringing offerings of loaves baked with the first corn to the church to be blessed.
Each year, the Sun in Leo, aware that its light is starting to wane, is happy to let the games begin. It tells us to celebrate our youth and virility before the inevitable decline. In other parts of the sky, Mars in Aries and Venus in Gemini further encourage us to live in the moment, whether it be in love or war. But the waxing gibbous moon in Capricorn, along with Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto, warn us against too much caprice. They caution us that our pledges, while born out of earnest passion, must be maintained with integrity and care—just like the crops—and with an eye toward longevity. Mercury in Cancer, like Lugh, faces off against those old gods, protects the motherland and keeps the family memories (and recipes) alive. Ceres in Pisces and Vesta in Cancer remind us of a time when the preparation of food was a sacrament, and as the matron and maid of honor, they deserve to be remembered and propitiated first before all the others.
“Seize the day,” I was surprised to learn, is a mistranslation of the Latin phrase “carpe diem.” It’s actually “harvest the day” i.e. pluck it while it’s ripe. There’s a message here, in the spirit of Lughnasadh and of Leo season, about remembering to pause and enjoy the fruits of our labor; to celebrate what we’ve achieved. And so, let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow—there is more work to be done.