New Moon in Aquarius, February 18, 2015

February 16, 2015 by  

New Moon at 29.59 Aquarius February 17, 2015

Vincent Van Gogh: Landscape with Couple Walking and Crescent Moon, 1890.

The New Moon of February 18 is the second new Moon in Aquarius this year. Two new moons in one sign are rare, as if two trees grow from one seed. February offers second chances in whatever area of one’s life is represented by Aquarius. Now is a time of return, underlined by the recent Mercury retrograde in Aquarius. Yet we cannot step in the same river twice, for other waters are ever flowing on to us, as said by Heraclitus. Even if it seems that we are doing something again, it really will be different this time. We are now poised at the edge of a metamorphosis disguised as a repetition.

The New Moon occurs in the term of Saturn, using the system of Egyptian terms. Given that the classical domicile ruler of Aquarius is also Saturn, this gives the New Moon a serious, Saturnian flavor, with a tinge of permanence. Aquarius and Saturn both embody long-lasting influences; Aquarius is a fixed sign, and Saturn is the most superior, and thus enduring, of all the planets. The fruits of our new phase will be with us for a long time. We are now putting down roots.

New Moon February 17, 2015, set for San Francisco, California

New Moon February 18, 2015, set for San Francisco, California

The need for change is felt keenly in the last ten degrees of Aquarius, and we desperately wish to just leave things behind. We are done. Austin Coppock’s book, 36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans, summarizes the dissatisfaction of this decan as follows: “On a spiritual level, this face represents disenchantment with the fabric of everyday life and its petty terrors. It is divine discontent, the same that Siddhartha Gautama felt before he left his comfortable home.” (p 239) This New Moon is eager to leave the present and stride into the unknown future. At 29.59 degrees of Aquarius, we see the very last part of the transition. We may need to do some cleanup, but this New Moon definitively closes one door and opens another.

The New Moon will be especially potent if it is within 6 degrees of a planet, and to a lesser extent, an angle. Six degrees is the moiety (half-orb) of the Moon according to tradition. In this case, the lunation does not aspect other planets, so its character is essentially unimpacted by other planets.

Mercury sextile Saturn (again) February 5, 2015

February 3, 2015 by  

Mercury sextile Saturn, Couple in a Fantasy Costume by Ferdinand Bol

Couple in a Fantasy Costume by Ferdinand Bol, 17th c.

It is always a strange time when aspects get made, then re-made, then re-made once more. In January and February, Mercury retrograde in Aquarius sextiles Saturn in Sagittarius three times. The dates for Mercury sextile Saturn are, in Pacific Time, January 5 (Mercury direct), February 5 (Mercury retrograde), and February 19 (Mercury direct).

January 5: Mercury 1 Aquarius sextile Saturn 1 Sagittarius.
February 5: Mercury 3 Aquarius sextile Saturn 3 Sagittarius.
February 19: Mercury 4 Aquarius sextile Saturn 4 Sagittarius.

If either planet makes a close aspect to a planet or angle in your natal horoscope, you will have experienced their dynamic through January and into the first half of February.

Mercury sextile Saturn describes a process that began in early January and will complete in mid-February. Serious or practical communications, such as important documents, contracts, or negotiations will be important during this time. Research and moving house are possible. Mercury is retrograde in a fixed sign, so the process will go slowly and seem to drag on and on. Slowness is characteristic of fixed signs, retrograde motion, and Saturn. Mercury, ordinarily a fast planet, must be very frustrated. Mercury is in Aquarius for each of these sextile aspects to Saturn, so throughout the process Mercury is received by Saturn into Saturn’s domicile. Reception by a malefic helps ensure that the relationship is constructive, though not necessarily fun or easy.

Mercury sextile Saturn Rejection (the Opposite of Reception)

One more twist on this sextile is that Saturn is placed in Sagittarius, which is the detriment of Mercury (I thank the Starlight Knight blog for drawing my attention to this “rejection.”) The medieval astrologer Sahl bin Bishr describes this scenario. Applied to our Mercury sextile Saturn in Sagittarius: “It was as if [Saturn] came to [Mercury] from the house of [Mercury’s] greatest enemy, and [Mercury] will not receive [Saturn], does not come near it, nor esteem it.” (The Works of Sahl and Masha’allah, trans. Benjamin Dykes. The Introduction, Section 5.9, p. 32-34)

Mercury sextile Saturn describes a finely balanced negotiation, reflecting delicate, drawn-out operations and diplomatic maneuvers. One party (Mercury) has serious reservations about the relationship, but cannot let go (repeated sextile). The other party is quite welcoming (Saturn receiving Mercury), but the welcome is insufficient for Mercury to commit to the terms offered by Saturn. How will it end? Saturn is a superior planet, while Mercury is inferior. All things being equal, Saturn is more likely to get its way than Mercury.

Reception by Malefic Planets in Astrology

January 31, 2015 by  

Reception by Planets Astrology

Jesus Summons Matthew to Leave the Tax Office by Jan van Hermessen, 1536.

Reception by malefic planets in astrology is an often misunderstood concept, a lost treasure of bygone ages.  Until new translations arrived in recent years, planetary reception was locked away in old, arcane texts. Reception is worth mastering, as it can transform your horary judgments, casting light like the proverbial Philosopher’s Stone.

One use of reception is helping planets avoid the evil of malefic planets. Astrology today uses the concept of mutual reception, such as when two planets are in each other’s domicile. The reception we are discussing is one-way, just half of mutual reception. Understand: every planet is always in dignity of one or more planets, but it is only being received if it also aspects those planets. Put another way, by being in another’s sign, exaltation, or two minor dignities, a planet is being received by those who rule those dignities, provided the receiving and received planets are in aspect.

Here is where reception gets useful: when a planet is being received by malefic planets, astrology says that the malefic’s evil is abated. This works in horary as well as natal astrology. If you were born with Sun in Capricorn conjunct Saturn (you party animal), have no fear. The Sun is being received by Saturn into Saturn’s domicile, so you will be spared the worst of Saturn’s depredations. This would also hold true if we saw this combination in a horary; let’s say that you are the Sun, about to conjoin the job of your dreams in the form of Saturn. Saturn signifying the job might mean that the job is Saturnian and oppressive, but because the Sun is visiting Saturn in Saturn’s own home, it will not harm you and may even help. Because Saturn is in Capricorn, his own domicile, he is inclined to be on his best behavior.

Charlie Hebdo Shooting: No Reception by Malefic Planets

What happens when a malefic does not receive the planet it aspects? Things can go seriously bad. At the time of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris, the Moon in Leo applied to remake the opposition of Mars in Aquarius and Jupiter in Leo. Jupiter and the Moon were not being received by Mars, who was free to do his worst.

Incidentally, this is why the conjunction of Mars and Saturn in Cancer, where both planets are badly placed, is especially destructive. Neither planet receives the other and the result is evil multiplied.

Reception by malefic planets astrology

Charlie Hebdo shooting horoscope. January 7, 2015, 11:30 CET, Paris, France.

Sahl writes:

“…if a good planet were in the house of a bad one (or in its exaltation), [the bad one] receives [the good one] and restrains its own malice from it…” (Judgment 2, Sahl Bin Bishr. The Fifty Judgments, trans. Benjamin Dykes., Appendix A of The Book of the Nine Judges, Cazimi Press, 2011)

Aspects of Malefic Planets in Astrology

Sahl then goes on to say that a trine and sextile to a malefic planet works the same way as reception, in that a soft aspect abates the malefic’s trouble. However, Dr. Experience, as Culpepper liked to call her, disagrees. An easy aspect (and a conjunction) to a malefic might just indicate that its evil happens with ease; without reception, a soft aspect to a malefic planet does not necessarily help and can hurt.

A planet received by malefic planets is more protected. An example is Moon in Aries square Mars. Normally, Moon square Mars can contribute to an incendiary personality and health difficulties. Because the Moon is in Aries, she is received by Mars into his domicile and therefore she is protected from his worst manifestations. The native is still feisty, but an outburst of temper will not ruin his life.

In a few days, we will see Mercury retrograde form a harmonious sextile aspect to Saturn. Mercury is in Aquarius, so it will be received by Saturn, who is the domicile ruler of Aquarius. This helps ensure that their combination is favorable. Now, there are potential issues with Saturn being in Sagittarius, the detriment of Mercury, but that is a different subject for another day, covered nicely by the Starlight Knight blog for those interested in the dark corners of reception.

Venus in Pisces January 27, 2015: The Sweet Sea

January 24, 2015 by  

Venus in Pisces: Aphrodite Anadyomene Fresco from Pompeii

Aphrodite Anadyomene Fresco from Pompeii, 1st century CE

Venus in Pisces, Her Exaltation

Venus dances into Pisces on January 27* and will remain there until February 20*. Her presence will affect primarily those with planets in Pisces, but she will bring beauty, romance, seduction, and love into all horoscopes, depending on the natal house containing Pisces.

Venus has a natural affinity for the sea. As Ovid wrote of the goddess of love:

“I [Aphrodite] should find some favour with the sea, for in its holy depths in days gone by from sea-foam I was formed, and still from foam I take my name in Greece**.”

(Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 521, trans. Melville)

This year’s transit of Venus through Pisces is especially auspicious. She is occidental of the Sun, and during this part of her cycle she moves closer to the earth, with the closest contact at her inferior conjunction. Venus’s proximity strengthens all matters of love and pleasure. She is much more amorous when occidental than when oriental. Also, she will be far from the Sun during her transit through Pisces, unafflicted by his beams. This is uncommon, as Venus is always within about 45 degrees of the Sun. We have a rare opportunity this year to experience Venus at once beautified in Pisces and unobscured by the Sun.

Venus and Mars

As Venus passes through Pisces, she will draw ever nearer Mars, to whom she is highly attracted. As a pair, they represent romantic love contrasted with the traditional marriage of convenience. Recall that historically, marriage was no place for romance, so Aphrodite and Ares’ passion was by definition illicit. Venus and Mars will conjoin in early Aries. Until they consummate their attraction, their flirtation in playful, dreamy Pisces will intensify.

Venus makes a stressful square aspect to Saturn on January 30*, which will be covered in greater detail in a separate article. After January 30*, it is smooth sailing for Venus on the Pisces seas.

Exaltation Degree of Venus in Pisces

Each planet has a special degree somewhere in the sign of its exaltation where it is “super-exalted” and highly potent. Venus’s magic reaches its apex in the degree of her exaltation, 26-26.59 degrees of Pisces, which Venus transits on February 17*. Here her influence is most elevated and perfect.  This is an auspicious day on which to borrow her glamour for makers of talismans or those seeking favorable elections for love.

Love symbolized by Venus in Pisces waxes and wanes like the sea tides. It is at once inconstant and enchanting, a spell that captivates because of its transience. Poet Algernon Charles Swinburne called her

The sweet sea, mother of loves and hours,
Shudders and shines as the grey winds gleam,
Turning her smile to a fugitive pain.
Mother of loves that are swift to fade,
Mother of mutable winds and hours.
A barren mother, a mother-maid,
Cold and clean as her faint salt flowers.

(from “The Triumph of Time,” Poems and Ballads)

Natal Venus in Pisces

Natal Venus in Pisces gives an appreciation for art and beauty, even sentimentality. Unless she is afflicted, her exalted position lends one a certain purity of feeling.

Aleister Crowley, in Your Place among the Stars, wrote of natal Venus in Pisces:

The native dissolves himself into the beloved, making a true union, and the greatest sorrow that can be experienced by a person with this position is when the beloved fails to appreciate his devotion to the full. Venus in this sign is not particularly fastidious; she is too ready for the pleasure the yielding gives to others. In some respects this is the highest possible development of Venus. (p 310)

Venus in Pisces is not in the least intellectual; she is intuitive, and this intuition is the outcome of her extraordinary nobility. Her willingness to pay the price, however great, gives her the privilege of a knowledge almost divine in its immediateness. (p 311)

*All times and dates are for Pacific Time. To see these dates in Universal Time, visit the Swiss Ephemeris for 2015.

**Aphros means “foam” in Greek.

Astrology 101: Voiced, Semi-Voiced, and Mute Signs of the Zodiac

April 5, 2014 by  

Fish Mosaic in Pompeii

Fish Mosaic in Pompeii

I have spent a lot of time digging through traditional astrology texts, and have come across a division of the three groups of voiced, semi-voiced (or half-voiced), and mute signs of the zodiac. It turns out that dividing the signs into these three groups is quite ancient and comes from the Greeks. There is a very good reason why one sign would be mute rather than voiced, and we’ll discuss it. Over time, the classifications have grown muddled in telling and re-telling, and every author can have their own version of this scheme.

The voice sign divisions are quite useful in two contexts:

Horary Astrology: In questions dealing with sound, singing, speech, and communication, seeing significators in a voiced versus a mute sign can indicate the answer itself. If someone is asking “should I go into voice acting?” and his significator is in a mute sign, that would be one testimony for “no.”

Natal Astrology: Prevalence of one type of sign over another can indicate the native’s speaking style and voice. As an example, traditionally, Mercury in a mute sign with a hard aspect to Saturn can indicate speech problems for the native.

As an example, here is Abu Ma’shar’s list of voiced, semi-voiced, and mute signs of the zodiac from the Abbreviation of the Introduction to Astrology, written in the 9th century AD:

Voiced signs: Gemini, Virgo, Libra
Semi-Voiced signs: Aries, Taurus, Leo, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius
Mute signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Most authors assign the water signs to being mute, since a crab, scorpion, and fish theoretically make no sound (actually, this is not true. The fish in the pond outside my window definitely make themselves heard when they want to be fed; they come up to the surface and blow really hard right at the water line to create a loud sputtering noise.).

Here is where this division of signs really comes from: Dionysius of Thrace (2nd century BC) wrote a work called the Ars Grammatica, which separated the Greek alphabet of 24 letters into seven vowels and 17 consonants. The 17 consonants were then subdivided into eight semi-vowels and nine voiceless consonants. Now, you have to understand that the ancient Greeks were busily
assigning meanings, zodiac signs, letters, divine, and angel names to the letters of their alphabet for centuries before Dionysius wrote his work. This is not to suggest there was total agreement on these assignments, and surely systems varied among authors and in popular usage. However, Dionysius’ work represents the first assignment of zodiac signs to certain kinds of sounds.

Following popular attributions of signs to sounds, Dionysius assigned 12 of the letters to zodiacal signs, so you can probably see where this is
going:

Voiced vowels led to the full-voiced signs: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Virgo, Aquarius
Semi-vowels resulted in semi-voiced signs: Leo, Sagittarius, Capricorn
Mute/voiceless consonants resulted in the mute signs: Cancer, Libra, Scorpio, Pisces

Compare this with the list from Abu Ma’shar, writing about a thousand years after Dionysius; one can see there have been a number of changes and most likely Abu Ma’shar and his sources did not understand reasons for the original assignment of the signs to sounds.

Much of the Greek material in this article came from the excellent book The Greek Qabalah: Alphabetic Mysticism and Numerology in the Ancient World, by Kieren Barry, published by Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1999.

Astrology 101: Saturn in the 10th House As Bad As All That?

April 2, 2014 by  

Carl XV of Sweden portrait

Carl XV of Sweden

As readers of the Gryphon Astrology blog know, I am a fan of evidence-based astrology. So many of both traditional and modern texts are full of speculation or anecdotal information presented as fact. As the Buddha teaches: “Don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scriptures, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability…” In this spirit (though perhaps using some inferences), I am doing a series of mini-investigations of astrological truisms to see whether it really is true. [In a moment of delicious irony, I am writing this article in a coffee shop  that often hosts religious speakers exhorting the local youth to believe and have faith!]

Here are some basic ground rules for our study, this time and always. We will:

  • Use birth times that are not on the hour or half hour, because they smack of inaccuracy
  • Use birth times with a AA Rodden rating
  • Use major (Ptolemaic) aspects, the seven visible planets, and traditional planetary dignities
  • Use charts of people who are older or deceased to more clearly judge the entire arc of life  [I remember getting criticized for this by a luminary of the astrological world during my tender years.]
  • Use charts where Saturn is in the same sign as the MC, to avoid issues around whole vs. unequal houses
  • Examine a manageable number of charts, around ten. A small sample, but instructive
  • Use charts that are more or less randomly chosen so long as they meet our other criteria (this is why most of the names are close to each other in the alphabet)
  • Attempt to find, if possible, a conclusion that we can use in our astrological practice

Hypothesis:

Most astrologers accept as fact that Saturn, the Greater Malefic, located in the natal 10th house of fame, status, and career indicates a problematic career, infamy, or a public fall from grace. We will attempt to determine whether this is in fact the case, whether there are exceptions to this rule, and if so, when do exceptions occur.

Our Sample Horoscopes:

Paul Newman, the very popular actor, untainted by scandal, who enjoyed tremendous, life-long popularity and recognition.
Saturn at 13 Scorpio near the MC, sextile Mercury, sextile Venus, and sextile the Ascendant.

John Bradshaw, well-known counselor, speaker, best-selling author. Studied for priesthood but quit due to his problems with addiction.
Saturn at 15 Aquarius retrograde, conjunct MC. No major planetary aspects.

Tycho Brahe, the wealthy and successful astronomer, famous for his death from a burst bladder following a party.
Saturn at 27 Sagittarius, square Moon in Virgo.

Charles I of Austria, last emperor of the Austro-Hungarian empire, who attempted to regain his throne three times after WWI, and was exiled.
Saturn at 29 Cancer conjunct Mars

David Vernon Cox, a US Marine charged but then acquitted of the severe beating of another soldier. Found dead in lake with multiple gunshots. Subject of film “A Few Good Men.”
Saturn at 23 Pisces, trine Mercury, opposite Mars

Fernando Cardoso, popular president of Brazil and the only one re-elected to a second term, public intellectual.
Saturn at 22 Capricorn, opposite Moon, opposite Jupiter.

Carl XV of Sweden, who saw royal power greatly reduced during his reign in favor of the Rikstag but served out his reign.  Died in his 40s.
Saturn at 19 Gemini square Ascendant.

Barbara Cartland, extremely prolific, bestselling society novelist, who lived into her 90s.
Saturn at 13 Capricorn retrograde opposite the Sun, conjunct Jupiter.

Jerry Casale, founding member of the punk group Devo.
Saturn at 23 Leo, trine Moon, trine Jupiter.

Findings:

1. Saturn in the 10th house dignified by sign.

When placed in the 10th, Saturn in its own sign (Aquarius or Capricorn) is extremely helpful and its strength can mitigate even difficult aspects (Barbara Cartland’s Saturn opposite Sun; oppositions to the Sun are considered malefic). Similarly, planets seem less afflicted by hard aspects to a well-dignified Saturn (Fernando Cardoso’s Saturn opposite Moon and opposite Jupiter). John Bradshaw’s Saturn in Aquarius worked out well for him, though it was retrograde, suggesting a period of “going backwards” in his achievements, perhaps his ongoing struggle with alcoholism. Carl XV’s Saturn in its triplicity belongs here, as he was born during the day. Saturn in Gemini is moderately dignified and was strong enough to keep him on the throne, though in a much reduced capacity.  Also, he died an untimely death, so the lack of support to even a decently-dignified Saturn showed up eventually.

2. Saturn in the 10th house in minor dignity, or without any dignity or debility.

When placed in the 10th, Saturn in minor dignity or without dignity or debility, is strongly influenced by aspects to other planets. Hard aspects to the other malefic, Mars, are deeply problematic. See David Vernon Cox, Saturn opposite Mars. On the positive side, see Paul Newman’s Saturn in Scorpio, helped out by its sextile aspects to Venus, Mercury, and the Ascendant. Tycho Brahe’s Saturn in Sagittarius square the Moon did not seem to afflict his life so much as his infamously strange and painful death (Moon in Virgo in the 7th house rules the bladder).

3. Saturn in the 10th house, debilitated by sign

When Saturn is in detriment (or presumably fall, though none of our examples has him in Aries), he can be problematic unless rescued by good aspects to benefic planets. For example, see Charles I, who did not give up royal power gracefully, leading him to die in exile where he was sent after his third restoration attempt. Saturn was conjunct Mars in his natal horoscope and not making any good aspects to any other planets. Howevever, look at Jerry Casale, whose Saturn in Leo trines the Moon and Jupiter. Hence his great success wearing yellow plastic suits and plastic flowerpot hats! Nonetheless, in an interview, when asked whether Devo has achieved its goals, he answered: “Mildly.” Casale gave the strong impression that he felt the group could have gone further than it actually had. Saturn is within 5-6 degrees of Regulus, perhaps further mitigating the planet’s essential weakness, but not mitigating Saturn’s malefic nature entirely.

Conclusion:

As is often the case, the truism of “Saturn in the 10th = disaster” is only partly right.  It is only the case if Saturn lacks dignity and receives no easy aspects from benefic planets.  If you have Saturn dignified in the 10th house with no bad aspects, you can probably relax.

Virgo Sun: August 23 – September 22

August 21, 2008 by  

The Sun enters cold and dry Virgo on August 23, cooling down substantially from fiery Leo. The Sun in Virgo is somewhat incongruous, a hot/dry planet in a cold/dry sign. Astrologer Ibn Ezra said that Virgo rules scholars, learned people, writers, and merchants. The Sun is the planet of rulers, the nobility, and “top command” of all types. The two characterizations don’t mesh that well; very few leaders are also scholars, or even learned, for that matter. There are exceptions, but they are rare, like the Romaemperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius, whose name is enshrined in history. The picture above depicts him distributing bread to the people, true to the Sun (emperor) in Virgo (bread) symbolism.

The Sun is the giver of life, but Virgo is a barren sign, because it is mentally fertile; Virgo is the most cerebral of the earth signs. Virgo thus channels the energy of the Sun, but not perfectly, which is why Virgo is not an optimal placement for the Sun. It is not a terrible placement, but the Sun does not have lots of dignity in Virgo.

What Astrologers Say about Sun in Virgo

Here are other perspectives on this placement, traditional and contemporary.

William Ramesey, in Astrologia Restaurata, writes: “The sixth sign is called Virgo (signifying a maid) because the Sun therein hath his heat diminished, and dryness ruleth, so that things cease to increase, and the earth becometh barren; being of the nature of a Virgin, who is naturally tending to cold rather than heat, and is of herself barren.” The symbolism here is memorable: intellect without the life-giving warmth of Spirit is cold and barren.

In The Consultation Chart, Wanda Sellar describes this placement as giving “a talent for administration and an impressive knowledge of past and present events. There is a tendency to work quietly behind the scenes, which ultimately can lead to great achievement…striving for perfection can cause difficulties.” This is a riff on Ibn Ezra’s characterization of Virgo nature, focusing on Virgo’s Mercurial nature combined with the practical earthy triplicity.

Keep Your Powder Dry

Based on the Virgo Sun’s aspects to other planets, the coming month presents a few opportunities, but none of them will really pan out.

September 4 – Virgo Sun conjunct Saturn and trine Jupiter. Saturn is the planet of restriction, and Jupiter is in its fall in Capricorn (a Saturn sign). Jupiter can present a seemingly tempting opportunity, but it is likely to be hollow. Better to wait for Venus’s transit through Libra, or even better, Jupiter’s exit from Capricorn in January, if you can.

Mars in Libra: August 19 – October 4, 2008

August 12, 2008 by  

Mars enters Libra, the sign of its detriment, and will zip through the sign in about six weeks. Generally speaking, this is a bad time to do martial tasks, such as fighting, physically exerting yourself, or working with tools. Theoretically at least, you can put off that renovation project and exercise routine you’ve been dreading. However, the good news is that Mars will be in a Cardinal sign in Libra, and it will be moving very fast. So any martial activity that you want to happen quickly might be helped by Mars’s placement in the next month and a half.

Mars in Libra

Libra is the beginning of the dark time of the year, when night begins to outweigh daylight in the northern hemisphere. The fiery planets, the Sun and Mars, are ill at ease in Libra, while Saturn, the planet of darkness, is exalted there. Libra is also the beginning of the cold and dry quarter of the year, associated with the melancholic temperament. None of this makes fiery Mars very happy, as he is already uncomfortable being placed in an air sign. Mars is all about action, and Libra is altogether too cerebral for the Lord of War.

Further, Libra is considered one of the human signs, because it has to do with the human quality of reason. To Mars, this is an alien concept, further weakening the planet. Ibn Ezra, in The Beginning of Wisdom, writes that Libra rules “the marketplace people, judges, mathematicians, musicians, and merchants who deal with food and drink.” None of these occupations are particularly congenial to physically-oriented Mars.

The one bright spot of Mars’s transit through Libra is its conjunction to the very benefic fixed star Spica at 24° Libra, which brings Venusian and Mercurial blessings.

Mars Aspects in Libra for 2008

September 7 – Mars square Jupiter in Capricorn. This is a very expensive combination, and might be useful for intimidating your opponents. Jupiter is weak in Capricorn, but exalts Mars, so this might be a good day to verbally confront those higher in social standing than yourself.

September 8 and 23 – Mercury conjunct Mars in Libra. This might be another day for verbal confrontation; there might be a lot of talking and weighing arguments, but not necessarily with a tangible result.

September 11 – Venus conjunct Mars in Libra. This is an attractive combination, because Venus is in its own sign. It’s a good day for romance, and generally making your roof. Mars in Libra may be a little wimpy, but a good time should be had by most.

September 26 – Mars conjunct Spica at 24 Libra. A bright spot of beauty during Mars’s otherwise uncomfortable sojourn through Libra. A good day to try your luck in most things if your natal ascendant is Aries or Scorpio.

[Missed Mars in Cancer?  Read about it here.]

Mercury in Virgo August 10 – August 30, Best Location All Year

July 30, 2008 by  

Mercury in Virgo August 10 - August 30

Mercury will enter its own sign and exaltation, Virgo, on August 10th. This is great news for Mercury, which has been in a relatively weak position since it left Gemini in early July. But Mercury could not be any happier than it is in Virgo, a mutable/double earth sign, where the Trickster gets to apply all he’s learned to the real world. Mercury is right at home in mundane affairs, indeed. The only problem is that he rarely looks at the big picture, so busy is he running to and fro.

Mercury in Virgo

Virgo is an earth sign associated with the harvest, which is odd, because it is also a barren sign. Its qualities, cold and dryness, are not exactly associated with massive fertility. The harvest association likely came from the days when the extremely benefic fixed star Spica (the Stalk of Wheat) was in Virgo, despite the fact that Spica is now at 24 Libra, and was last in Virgo over 1,700 years ago. Indeed, many depictions of Virgo today still show a young woman with a stalk of wheat.

Ibn Ezra, a medieval astrologer, writes that Virgo rules writers, comedians, women and eunuchs, and mathematicians. This is convenient, because Mercury rules these as well, with the exception of women (the eunuchs could be Mercurial, because they are neither fully male nor female). [from The Beginning of Wisdom by Avraham Ibn-Ezra, trans. Meira Epstein]

If you have Mercury in Virgo, this is very positive, and unless your Moon is much more prominent than Mercury, you can rely on your left brain skills pretty well. The exact way you use your Mercury in Virgo depends on its position, rulerships, and aspects. As an example, a Mercury-Saturn aspect might show a tendency to serious, scholarly thinking, and negative influences might tend to depression and gloom.

Larry Ellison has Mercury conjunct Mars in Virgo, if memory serves, which probably makes him very sharp and quite critical.  Princess Kiko of Japan, originally a commoner, has Mercury in Virgo as her significator of wealth, and Mercury’s position probably makes it quite helpful to her in surviving the rule-laden Japanese royal household.

Now, let’s see what Mercury will do in August, and what it means for us.

Mercury Aspects in August

August 15 – Mercury conjunct Saturn in Virgo. Probably not the best day for your Mercurial tasks, such as important communications, journeys, or merchandising of any kind. Saturn is restrictive and produces denials and delays. However, the day is favorable for solitary, deep thinking, and scholarly pursuits.

August 18 – Mercury trine Jupiter in Capricorn. A day when Mercurial things seem to turn out better than they really did. Jupiter in Capricorn is weak, and because it is a benefic, it appears rather better than it is in reality. Lots of things are going on, and you may want to do make your big Mercurial move, but your expectations are bigger than is warranted.

August 19 – Mercury in Exaltation Degree (15th degree). Mercury is very strong today, so if you don’t mind the applying aspect to a weak Venus, now’s a good day to do your Mercurial errands and tasks.

August 21 – Mercury conjunct Venus in Virgo. Venus in Virgo can have trouble letting her hair down, and Mercury is happy to communicate that. This might be a good day for fun without consequences, or fun…but not too much of it. Not the most favorable combination, as Venus is another debilitated benefic, like Jupiter.

[Missed Mercury in Leo?  Here it is.]

Mercury in Leo: July 26 2008

July 25, 2008 by  

Mercury will enter the fiery sign of Leo on Saturday, July 26, thereby entering combustion. This is a harmful state where a planet is a little too close to the Sun (about 8.5 degrees on either side), and is afflicted by the Sun’s extreme heat. Mercury will stay combust until about August 6th. Read on for the best ways to use Mercury in Leo.

Half-Voiced Mercury in Leo

Leo is one of the half-voiced signs; halfway between being fully vocal and totally mute. It is therefore not the best sign for Mercury, who loves to vocalize and communicate. Also, Mercury tends to not do as well in the bestial signs, of which Leo is one. Mercury brings the gifts unique to humanity: speech, commerce, reading and writing, etc. Being in an animal sign is not exactly his best location, nor being in a fixed sign like Leo. Mercury likes movement and action, and the fixed signs are a little too staid for his fluid nature.

That said, Mercury in Leo is a pretty good placement: half a voice is better than none for Mercury, whose normally smooth speech may change to growls or purrs in Leo. While it is not Mercury’s finest moment, it is still a sign where Mercury can express itself reasonably well. Also, the “bound” or part of the sign, 11 Leo to 17 Leo, is ruled by Mercury, so there is some affinity between this cold and dry planet and Leo, the hot and dry sign! At least they share one quality, that of dryness.

This brings us to an important observation of Mercury in Leo. This is not the most emotional placement. It does not mean that a Mercury in Leo native has no empathy; it just will not come from this planet-sign combination. The dry quality gives a lack of sentiment – an overabundance of moisture increases it. Mercury is not a touchy-feely planet. It is the rational, organizational part of ourselves that is not naturally at ease with feelings. The heat of Leo might give passion or enthusiasm, sometimes mistaken for emotion, but the inward, receptive soul of the native will not be touched when he expresses passion.

Mercury in Leo Secrets

Combustion essentially hides a planet from view in the rays of the Sun. Mercury in Leo, combust, is thus doubly heated – once from the Sun and once from its sign. The combination gives us secret and heated communications, which are none too eloquent, but drive their point home. One growl from the lion is unmistakable in its import. If you wish to talk to someone secretly, or to do something hidden, now through August 6th may be the best time to do so. This is especially true if Mercury rules your horoscope.

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