In a dark time, the eye begins to see.
~ Theodore Roethke
The Luminaries: The Essentials Of The Sun And Moon
In ancient times, those who watched the skies noticed that certain heavenly bodies moved around beyond the relatively fixed patterns of the constellations. The movement of these bodies seemed to vary in speed, trajectory, and even in direction. The Greek astrologers of antiquity grouped them together, calling them planetes asteres, which translates into “wandering stars,” or planets. Early astrology developed around these seven “planets”: the two luminaries of the Sun and Moon, and the five visible planets of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
As the two luminaries, the Sun and the Moon are the most obvious and dominant objects in the sky. Astrological shorthand still refers to the Sun and Moon as planets. We know of course, that the Sun is actually a star, and without it, no life would exist in our solar system. The still mysterious Moon has various hypotheses accounting for its origin, but we know it revolves around Earth as our very own satellite. The term Luminaries suits these two central heavenly bodies, as it describes their dual roles as sources of actual and metaphysical light. They illuminate our skies, and also serve to powerfully illuminate our consciousness through the magic of astrology. In calling the Sun and Moon Luminaries, we elevate them to the high role of our most illustrious teachers, advisors, and emissaries.
In the natal chart, the luminaries represent the core foundation of the personality. The Sun symbolizes our Essential Character, incorporating our conscious purpose into the vitality that we shine outward. In complementary fashion, the Moon symbolizes the primary Emotional Need, describing internal feelings, receptivity, and intuition. These two powerful symbols draw our attention to the greatest struggles and growth in our personalities. Understanding how the two work together in sacred union provides a profound framework to better understand ourselves and how we relate to others.
The Trickster Advises Rest And Retreat
Mercury Retrograde gets a bad rap. “Mercury Retrograde” refers to the three-week periods that occur 3-4 times a year in which the planet Mercury appears to move backwards in the sky. This phenomenon occurs only from our viewpoint on Earth. These periods often strike fear into people’s hearts, due to their reputation for mechanical breakdowns, technological collapse, or delayed travel plans. And it’s true that these periods correlate with more than a fair share of these issues. However, we experience these problems partly because we live in a culture that fails to value contemplation or retreat, so we constantly overextend ourselves to the breaking point.
Not to worry! In general, retrogrades offer space to take a mental break from the constant grind and re-calibrate your inner compass. Start by taking a deep breath and relaxing. Ponder the idea of taking advantage of time to consciously retreat, rest, and review. Revisit your to-do list, and take special note of what calls your attention. Slow down and scrutinize your expectations with an attitude of observation.
Each Mercury Retrograde period presents subtly different themes. Mercury itself refers to information transmission, and how we think, learn, speak, and listen. It also represents your mindset, emphasizing that you have a choice in the mindset you adopt. The sign Mercury occupies when it “turns around” infuses particular themes into the retrograde. Furthermore, when you apply the information to your natal chart, you can further elucidate and personalize the topics in your own life.
Mercury Through The Houses: What topics may arise in your personal life?
First House: Self, Self-Development, Self-Image
Consider factors that affect your basic identity, how you present yourself, and the first impression people seem to get of you, and what direction your life points in.
Second House: Finances, Resources, Self-Worth, Livelihood
Consider how you value yourself and the state of your finances. Tangle with the inherent resources you have and your ability to deepen unconditional self love.
Third House: Communication, Siblings, Short Trips, Writing
Consider your relationships with your siblings or very close friends and your communication style. Also think about how you move about in your daily life, the transportation you use.
Fourth House: Home, Roots, Lineage, Parents
Consider your relationships with your family, your ancestry and your physical home. Revisit your ability to find inner security, your “home inside the heart.”
Fifth House: Creative Expression, Risk-Taking, Children, Giving Of Love
Consider how you relate to children and their playful energy. Use this time to engage in deeply creative projects, the things you would do no matter what and take risks for.
Sixth House: Routine, Work, Self Care, Service
Consider the routines you have that keep you healthy. This includes fitness routines, therapy, nutrition and the like. Check in with unconscious habits and make sure you are taking the time you need to breathe. Revisit “self improvement” areas of life.
Seventh House: Partnerships, Marriage, Rivals
Consider all your partnerships in life, particularly regarding the balance between cooperation and autonomy. Review your sense of equanimity and interdependence.
Eighth House: Other People’s Baggage and Money, Shared Resources, The Occult
Consider the boundaries you need to cope with other people’s resources and intense emotional struggles. Review your rituals that support you in these shadowy areas.
Ninth House: Worldview, Travel, Higher Education, Religion
Consider the your life philosophy and what you might need to broaden it. Review your ability to open your mind and explore any gaps in your education.
Tenth House: Profession, Social Reputation and Contribution
Taking the long view, consider your professional life and any adjustments you want to make. Review prior aspirations and goals.
Eleventh House: Groups, Affiliations, Associates, Community
Consider your ability to contribute to your communication and the role they play in receiving love and support. Review your connections and your humanitarian viewpoint.
Twelfth House: Selfless Service, Transcendence, Suffering
Consider your ability to forgive and hold compassion for the suffering of others. Retreat and review your connection with a sense of wonderment or the divine. Take solitude.
Astronomy: The Journey
The superior conjunction with the Sun marks the beginning of Mercury’s symbolic journey. “Superior” refers to Mercury’s position on the far side of the Sun from Earth, and in direct motion. At this moment, the tiny winged messenger planet is completely invisible against the powerful rays of the Sun. It must clear the Sun by about 15º to pop back up in our evening sky. Soon after this point, Mercury appears to slow down, halt, and begin moving back toward the Sun, covering the ground it has already traversed. This second encounter with the Sun, always with Mercury in retrograde direction, is called the inferior conjunction. It marks the midpoint of the retrograde period. About a week and a half after the inferior conjunction, Mercury stations direct, and completes the third and final pass of the same zodiac degrees. At this point, it chases the Sun and when it catches up, the cycle begins again. From the astrology lens, when Mercury crosses through the same zodiacal territory, it provides us with an opportunity to focus on and wrestle with the various issues in our lives from the same vantage point. When viewed in this way, we gain the opportunity to revisit and reframe the narrative of our lives.
2022 Upcoming Dates Of Mercury Retrograde:
September 9 – October 2 (9º Libra – 24º Virgo)
December 29 – January 17, 2023 (24º Capricorn – 8º Capricorn)
|Stage||Meaning||2022 Zodiac Points|
|Superior Conjunction||The start of the cycle, Mercury appears to sit exactly behind the heart of the Sun (the cazimi condition), with Mercury floating on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. Mercury in direct motion only during this conjunction||July 16 (24 Cancer)
Nov 8 (16 Scorpio)
|Visible in Evening||Once Mercury moves 15º away from the Sun, it becomes visible in the evening sky|
|Mercury begins traveling through the degrees it will retrace during the retrograde period|
|Stations Retrograde||Mercury appears to slow down and then reverse direction||September 9 (9 Libra)
December 29 (24 Capricorn)
|Inferior Conjunction||The midpoint of the cycle, Mercury again appears to sit exactly in the heart of the Sun. This time however, Mercury floats between us and the Sun. Mercury is always retrograde for this conjunction.||Sept 23 (0 Libra)
Jan 8 (17 Capricorn)
|Stations Direct||Mercury appears to slow down and turn back to move in forward direction.||October 2 (24 Virgo)
Jan 17, ‘23 (8 Capricorn)
|Mercury wanders back through all of the degrees it has already gone through twice, for a third and final time in the year. This period finishes when it reaches the degree of the zodiac sign that it retrograded on.|
|Visible in Morning||Once Mercury again reaches that 15º departure date, it becomes a morning star, visible in the magical hours before sunrise.|
|Superior Conjunction||Cycle Starts Again|
We go through life. We shed our skins. We become ourselves.
Integrity: The Relationships Between The Sun and The Moon
Aligning Your Inner and Outer Nature
Most people know their Sun sign, but how many know their Moon sign? Familiarizing yourself with both allows a deeper understanding of your fundamental motivation and vitality. You can begin to learn how these two personality components relate and function together. This helps you understand what truly drives you, how you create relationships with others, and how you express yourself.
The Sun symbolizes the identity you shine outwardly. Some strongly identify with their Sun sign, while others do not, and are left wondering why it just doesn’t fit. This is because we are all far more than what the Sun alone represents. The Moon symbolizes the inner emotional nature and the reigning need of the chart. It traverses all twelve signs in a month, changing sign roughly every 2½ days. To understand the Moon better, consider how it reflects brilliance of the Sun. It is impossible to look directly at the Sun; however, we can stare at the Moon’s silvery reflected light all night long. The message? We all must work within our own inner realm of emotions to manifest the life we want. This striving becomes possible by the softer light of the Moon.
Understanding the relationship between your Sun and Moon reveals much about the alignment between your inner motivations and your external actions. The degree to which you can ally the contemplative dimension of the Moon to the outer manifestations of the Sun illustrates your personal integrity.
If the Sun and Moon are fused together in the same sign, there is a natural synchronicity between your emotional life and the way you conduct yourself publicly. Your challenge is to direct all that power appropriately. In contrast, if three signs apart, your Sun and your Moon exist in a stressful square configuration, an intensely disparate relationship. You will have to work very hard to align the two energies since they are so different. This combination is well-suited to lots of personal growth. One sign apart suggests an affable connection, where one energy emerges out of the other. A two sign separation indicates an opportunity that must be acted upon for productive expression. Four signs apart show a harmonious flow of understanding. A five sign contrast suggests an awkwardness that requires clarification. Six signs apart, an opposition, shows two polar opposites in need of resolution while honoring both.
I love the simplicity of the four elements and resonate with their rich imagery. The four elements form the backbone of the twelve zodiacal signs. We can see these forces play out in nature and in our personalities. Understanding how they interact can give us a deeper understanding of our relationships. How we express them relies upon our self-awareness, our path, and our intention for wielding personal power. Balancing them is a moving process, like walking back and force along a seesaw.
The four elements are:
The creative, assertive force of FIRE
The steady, building energy of EARTH
The intellectual, inventive vibe of AIR
The deep, emotional content of WATER
FIRE MEETS EARTH, POWERFUL AND EFFECTIVE
A volcano erupts across the sky after seething dormant for millennia
A potter molds clay, creating a fine porcelain vessel
An abundance of earth snuffs the flame into darkness
An abundance of fire scorches the earth beyond desert.
(Aries, Leo, Sagittarius inspires Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo)
(Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo stabilizes Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)
AIR AND FIRE COLLIDE, AN EASY EXPLOSIVE COMBINATION
Balanced, the hearth fire burns, community gathers around for spirited discourse
Or sheets of fire in a wildfire, taking thousands of acres, a cleansing process in the long view, destruction of the current paradigm
A fire being drained of air becomes smoke, blinding the eyes of all.
(Libra, Aquarius, Gemini aerates Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)
(Aries, Leo, Sagittarius ignites Libra, Aquarius, Gemini)
FIRE AND WATER STEAM
The geyser cascades shots of elemental brilliance from the earth’s crust
A natural sauna making sweat, passionate embrace
Water drowns the flame, dominates or
Fire scalds the bottom of the kettle as water disappears into steam.
(Aries, Leo, Sagittarius brings Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces to a simmer)
(Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces cools Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)
AIR AND EARTH, THE MAKING OF A CANYON
Wind whips across the spires of red Utah, pulling grains of sand into sculpture
The unbridled freedom of dust particles across the planet, or the deep earth canyon trapping air in a spiral dance
An ancient interplay between matter and energy, stillness and movement
The dust devil dances in the desert.
(Libra, Aquarius, Gemini dances with Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo)
(Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo grounds Libra, Aquarius, Gemini)
AIR AND WATER, SURFING THE WAVES OF HAWAI’I
Spray blows off the top, the inexorable power of water, the wind sprite dances
Sheets of rain blown upside down, a brief flouting of the natural order of things
Mental concentration meets the well of compassion
Or, unbalanced, mindless heart*, sensitivity without focus
Or heartless mind*, cutthroat cerebral control.
(Libra, Aquarius, Gemini lifts Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)
(Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces surfs with Libra, Aquarius, Gemini)
WATER AND EARTH, SUCH A NATURAL ATTRACTION
Water penetrates the opaqueness of the Earth, loosening it
Continuing until the dam breaks, crashing towards the ocean to be swallowed
A marsh, riparian habitat, elegantly designed for filtration, the natural proclivity of the Earth to cleanse and renew
A mudslide in the Californian redwoods, saturation reached.
(Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces nourishes Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo)
(Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo anchors Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)
*Concept taken from The Five Keys to Mindful Communication by Susan Gillis Chapman