Welcome to Aquarius 2016 and to a Most Interesting Year Ahead!

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Last month I wrote about the Mutable Dilemma with the T-square between the planets Jupiter opposite to Neptune with Saturn T-squaring that opposition:  these planets are related by “birth” and archetypal origin, and mythically as well as astronomically are planets that have been in disagreement  . . . and seem to still be at it!

I will re-mention that this backdrop of planetary ‘sound’ is more confusing than it is explicit!  Thus, we will experience this space oddity in our personal lives as well as in the global ethos.  News and facts are shape-shifting and are a particular test for those of us who like some degree of definition and control – which is not a bad thing at all but will be frustrating for us who like to know what is going on. 

We cannot expect to know “what is going on” out there in our great family of planets, nor can we expect to know and trust information we receive via (Neptune) network media – or the truth in all media reportage (Jupiter).  And from Saturn T-cross to the Jupiter•Neptune opposition, we get a “block” from information; a censor  Kronos/Saturn is the old guard of the Titans, he has a characteristic that likes to impose hierarchical standards, and from a conservative point of view.   

What we can know for sure, is any moral outrage that we personally experience in this crucial time in human history and in so very many areas of “beliefs” is actually real – everyone seems to be morally outraged!  Problem is, some people feel the need to “out their rage’, and do harm, while others question what they might do to help and clarify, while others just want to go to sleep.  

Thus, the year is not a consolidation year, but a year for truly valuing your freedom to think your own thoughts, and do so without it being “against something” – it is possible to have an opinion and a belief system that is deeply personal and should remain so AND also to have a strong re-action to xenophobic centrism.   A response is better coped with, because it means one can contemplate all sides and feel one’s way to a semblance of balance.

It is a year in which the value system of our / your heritage may be in conflict with your inner sense of spirituality and moral codes.  This is good . . . it give an opportunity to learn to accept, to change and to morph into a new shape.  It offers an occasion to examine seriously what you truly do believe.    

 

Mars Retrograde: Maverick In Motion

The major event this year is the incorrigible Mars spending half the year in half a sign (15 degrees) of the zodiac!  Not once, not twice, but three times it will pass over the same degree.  

Mars is a double twin of earth, it has a 2 year 2 month cycle around the sun, while earth has a one year revolution.   This proximity results in an anomaly in the other planetary retrograde patterns that are so rhythmic that they are embedded in our psyche.  

Though all retrograde stations and directions are definitely active and eventful, they do NOT all have the same “shock factor” that Mars retrograde has.

There is a beautiful synchrony with the god Ares/Mars’ nature and mythology and its astrological ‘behaviour’. 

You cannot count on Mars to behave . . . Mars is our ability to get up, get dressed, and do something!

In my multifaceted vocation – as a teacher;  in my personal natal astrology consulting;  as well as working with the transits of global astrology and events, I see a lot of emotional, primal, rampant moods, as well as events and results when Mars is retrograde.

To fully understand the Mars Retrograde Cycle this year, read on!     For full article on:

  

Our Year of Global Discontent

The Mars Retrograde Cycle for February through August 2016

 

Joseph Campbell says in The Hero with a Thousand Faces:

The modern hero, the modern individual who dares to heed the call and seek the mansion of that presence with whom it is our whole destiny to be atoned, cannot, indeed must not, wait for his /her community to cast off its slough of pride, fear, rationalized avarice, and sanctified misunderstanding. It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse . . . every one of us shares the supreme ordeal."

The rarest of all planetary retrogrades is back with us this year – Mars stations retrograde on April 18th 2016 and then stations direct on June 30th 2016.   That is longer than the average 60 days of Mars’ usual retrograde period of time, it being about 70 days;  thus the entire cycle is also a month longer than is typical.  

The full cycle of Mars’ retrograde this year occupies the entire period from February 18th 2016 through August 29th 2016.  That is about 196 days.   See the elegant picture of Mars in its traversing pattern from beginning to end?  And how it traverses to and fro, and in its retrograde phase is closer to earth than when it is direct?

Mars Retrograde

This diagram I created for a power point, shows the full cycle from beginning to end typically takes up about one-half of the year.  However, this Sagittarius/Scorpio cycle is about 196 days long, while Mars traverses from 23°Scorpio to 8° Sagittarius back and forth, four times over those degrees and three times the ones in between.  AND, it covers only 16 degrees of the zodiac in this long period of time.  This is why the Mars Retrograde cycle is such a “shock” to the system:  the solar system and the human/global system . . . all systems, in fact because the nuclear solar system is an archetypal system that is embedded in the nature of all things.

 

Retrograde Cycles and Mars

All retrograde motion from Mars out to Pluto - both stations direct and retrograde - is triggered by the transit of the Sun against the backdrop of the zodiac and its position relative to the planet itself. From our earth-geocentric viewpoint there are precise periods for each planet when it appears to stop, track back against the zodiac, stop again, and begin to move forward once again.

Of the superior planets, Mars is unique in the timing and aspect pattern of retrogression. Whereas all the other planets have an annual, rhythmic pattern - from Jupiter through Pluto - Mars retrograde cycles occur only every two years and two months.

The other superior planets, Jupiter through Pluto, have annual cycles, thus becoming infused into our unconscious, which readily adapts to regular, ritualistic and cyclic activity.

Both collectively and individually we become accustomed to Mars’ straightforward direct transits as it marks its two-year two month return cycles; Mars spends approximately two months in each sign.

Why Does It Do That?

Because of its orbital eccentricity as well as its period of orbit - which is almost exactly a double-twin to that of earth’s - the stations of Mars occur most frequently in the area of Cancer, Leo and Virgo, and least frequently in Sagittarius, Capricorn and Aquarius.

Although the other superior planets too have their “shock points” and destabilizing to reorganizing effects at the stations, they are harmonically ingrained and embedded into the psyche because of their regular stations and retrogrades each year in rhythmic fashion. They each have their own cycles, with their own agency and ‘intention’.  And, like anything repetitive, the cycles become part of the unconscious autonomous response system; they are inbuilt to our neurological receptors.

What is most interesting about Mars lies in the fact that is like a “double-twin” of our earth. It’s axial tilt is virtually the same, and it has a similar four-season year, but while its seasons are six-month seasons, earth’s are three-months long. The earth orbits around the Sun in one year and Mars in two, so earth finally catches up with Mars in its orbit about every two years and two months, and passes it, thus Mars appears to “turn backward” just like racecars on a track, the inside track car moving faster than the next car out on the outer track, appears to go backward while the inside car passes it

Another significant difference between Mars and the other superior planets is its relationship with the Sun when it is stationing retrograde AND direct.  

While all the other superior planets (Jupiter to Pluto) are already retrograde when in a trine aspect to the Sun, Mars is not – Mars does not turn retrograde until it is past the trine to the Sun – which is typically ten days before it is stationary Rx.

Thus, from Feb 18th  through August 29th  2016 Mars will slowly, thoroughly and intimately, transit a small sector of your own horoscope, and “affect” the realms and context of what that house describes.

 

Mars Retrograde

Ares, Greek God of War & Roman Mars, God of Fertility

Ultimately, as Joseph Campbell states in his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”,

"It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal - carries the cross of the redeemer - not in the bright moments of his tribe's great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair."

In the retrograde pattern of all superior planets other than Mars, there are only three Primary aspects made by a superior retrograde planet to the Sun - a trine, a quincunx, and an opposition. Those three aspects are formed in the retrograde zone (within the opposition trine to the Sun). However, when Mars is retrograde, it makes only the quincunxes and an opposition. Only two aspects, both rather uncomfortable and agents of adustment and awareness by opposition.  But, no trine!   The significance of this will be made clear later on in the precise timing given in this article.

Mars has its own period and cycle, differing radically from all other superior planets and its physics generate its nature - rebellious, assertive, proactive, aggressive, filled with a lust for life and projects self expression. Mars rules thumos, the ancient Greek concept for ‘life force’, the ‘libido’.

When Mars begins its lengthy, maverick wandering back over degrees already touched, and back over again, the cycles of Mars retrograde, are useful to work with.  Mars is both the sword and the ploughshare – the warrior and the cultivator.

The slow burn that the transit of Mars retrograde engenders can be both corrosive and psychologically depleting;  in contrast, it can free up frustrated energy – and both, simultaneously. The opposition from the Sun in mid cycle can detonate anger, frustration or hostility, while at the same time, illuminate issues that may have lain dormant or unspecified.

Over time, it is typical for people to ignore or suppress frustration, for various reasons:  social, personal, fear, politeness, and so on – ultimately the suppression of irritation or differing opinions, lifestyles, et cetera, can lead to aggression - easily misplaced or displaced during the Retrograde phase. This would be called state of “unrealized Mars” and is the origin of all discord and conflict – that is often difficult to identify or name.

On the psychological level, during the retrograde cycle we can heal distress caused by frustrated creativity and passion and unfulfilled desire and ambition. It is a time for civilizing the animal nature, and cultivating raw potential. However, all things, great and small require work and effort, and this cycle is all about that.

Because the stationing and retrograde Mars focuses on a very specific place in the natal chart, while the transiting Sun illuminates several distinct phases of development, we have two “adjustment aspects – the quincunx” and one “flashpoint” which is when the Sun is in exact opposition to Mars (or any out planet).

Think of it this way:  during the the entire six to seven months of the Mars Retrograde cycle, Sun transits six to seven signs!  Thus, this retrograde Leo Mars remains in a 19° arc/place/sector of the horoscope during the time the Sun illuminates seven houses of your horoscope over seven months!

Keeping in mind this intensity of focus - Mars and the illumination of the Sun’s transit through half the horoscope - one can work through a lot of issues that have gone unaddressed or unnoticed or even cooking hotly, for over two years – or more!

 

Shadowed Mars

An unrealized or shadowed Mars leaves us open to happenstance aggression; if a person’s will is not personally engaged, often the predominant complaint is of ‘a bad fate or ill luck’ or ‘other people’ are doing things.

Astrology tends not to put anything down to bad luck, but through it, we attempt to understand how a person acts within the context of his or her own natural flow of energy, personality and what the horoscope indicates. Since Mars is a highly projectable agent, that is, so very easily externalized and put ‘out there’, we simply must reconcile our own role within our eventful environment!

Low grade anger and rage often results in what is called “projection” - a symptom of a non-integrated Mars - and is the source of some of the most common complaints people have - bad timing; accidents; misdirected anger; guilt; introjected blame; self abuse; painful relationships; depression and health problems. And, within those maladies, lies the cure.

If we cannot acknowledge our own shadow, then it will appear in the form of an event, or as a projection because the outer world is an eventful mirror of the inner self. With Mars, particularly, projection is commonplace - it is so much more economical to have other people declare our wars, and behave badly because then we might not have to assume responsibility ourselves!

A shadowed Mars might behave in a way that allows us to be a victim, a hapless recipient of other people's anger; if this is the kind of experience you are having it might do to look at your own role in this during the Mars retrograde period. If our own personal Mars is projected, then other people are left to do the dirty work of being angry with us, rejecting us, and acting out our own aggression on our behalf!

In the management of personal energy, Mars cycles play a positive role. Some feelings uncovered during Mars retrograde may be uncomfortable, such as infantile rage, suppressed painful memories, old passions long dormant, infantile or knee-jerk reactions or fantasies of revenge. But, they are all to the good if healing and consciousness are at the forefront of the mind.

Depression, normally associated with Saturn, also is a Mars function. Melancholy is a ‘black anger’, from the Greek melan (black) and cholos - the black bile which chemically activates anger. People with natal Mars retrograde often have to cope with an underlying depression of energy and operate in spurts of revolutionary activity.  People with Mars Retrograde natally need to find a ‘really good revolution’ – a way to activate their ec-centric, iconoclastic and highly sensitive radar.  Mars Rx people have a powerful radar for lies, undertones, implicated, suggested, and basically, under the table actions and moods.

Melancholy is an embodied psychic condition, and presents physical symptoms such as skin conditions and eruptions, bone/joint problems - arthritic conditions, dental problems, headache, kidney malfunction, exhaustion, immune-deficiency, poverty, lack of motivation, self-destructive acts and lastly, a potentially clinical depression.

All these affairs sound pretty dreadful, but in fact, all people experience various aspects of those symptoms to some degree, and are human in character. It is when one or more become dominant, autonomous, that we are looking at a “Mars problem” - one that can be moderated, and especially during the Mars retrograde cycle.

There are psychopathologies also associated with inverted Mars, such as unresolved conflict and anger (intimately related to arthritic conditions); accidents due to carelessness; lack of coordination; low motivation; irritability; arguing;  “bad timing”; being rejected or ‘attacked’; inability to ‘connect’ with people; ultimately, a profound melancholia, often known as depression. It is no stretch of the imagination that all these difficult symptoms lie buried in the core of bad relationships as well.

All these conditions can be exacerbated when Mars is retrograde - hence, working on body/mind issues is a necessity during this time, in accord with natural rhythms in our system. Repressing rage is a false economy - it will erupt or be displaced, causing no end of problems that are difficult to source. It is best to go to the origin of the feelings.

Similarly, all cultures have Mars in their collective psyche, and war is no stranger to history. Indeed, the rise and fall of all dynasties, empires and cultures are based in and around war.  As I mentioned Mars can destroy a culture, but it can also carve out an entire civilization. This applies to each one of us individually – each one of us can “individuate” our own self, which will improve the collective by that much.

The problem lies often in the cultural rage or Mars unleashed. If that is a social, cultural, international problem as it is now in the second decade of the 21st century, then many otherwise mild people can be full of rage and exhaustion.  Jung once said that if a culture is sick, then all the individuals in it are as well.  This is sooo true, I don’t think I need to list examples.  Just think about it, and heal thyself.  In doing so, you may touch someone else.

In our “privileged” society in a few countries in the world, it is incumbent upon each of us to do the work on behalf of many – and it is a massive psychic and metaphysical task that has befallen us.

Mars is significant in the individuation process of cultures especially in the realm of boundary definition and alpha aggression. Hence, the individual relationship we have with Mars is simply writ large but not as easily civilized as it might be with an individual. Mass psychology is a difficult animal to train, and war is a male prerogative.

This being the case, once Ares/Mars mobilizes as a directive force, and the masculine takes over its territorialistic animus, then we are in a place of grave danger. Unfortunately, this particular Mars cycle is just that - a grave danger. Many individuals within our culture do not ascribe to this martial ethos, but it still dominates the drive to success in many ways.

 

Coming To Our Senses

When Mars is transiting retrograde, it is an excellent time to determine the difference between a depression of the senses, or psychic apathy, and a simple lack of interest in whatever has been going on. To press on in a situation which is fruitless is sheer bloody mindedness, not brave assertiveness nor reliability! Thus, a conscious 'letting go' can be a resolution, rather than soldiering on in the face of adversity. Projects and long-term plans will need to undergo a review, if not a total withdrawal for a while.

Retrogression of a planet is a clear indication that it is time for an investigation into one’s motives. It may be appropriate to relinquish a once beloved goal, ideal, idea, attitude, project, relationship or plan, rather than persist in outmoded actions. If this is what you need to do, then do not fear it because the space you make will become a creative source for new, more appropriate ways of using your self and energy reserves.

You may find yourself in a state of impatience – to get on with something, or begin a new project with serious obligations, or enter into an agreement which both is morally and physically (time, money, space) demanding.  This is NOT the time to do that. Consider that you may be getting excited about something that is about to happen, that is going to come your way, that will evolve to a more mature place, once Mars has completely finished its cycle – which is August 29th, 2016. 

If you have to do something that is already agreed on, then you will need to ride it through, but be careful not to burn any bridges, or created any ‘slash and burn’ departures . . . this is a fantastic opportunity to become more civilized and more controlled and more empowered than you have been.  It is important to use this to dig into research and get to the bottom of what you want, need and can actually, really, achieve.

A lifetime of biennial Mars retrograde cycles – if you look back – will demonstrate to you what pushing the river does in your case . . . or on the other hand, doesn’t!   Usually forcing an issue during the hotting up time for Mars Rx, does not work.  It is exhausting (and a bit manic, which is a sign that one or something is off track and out of balance) and ultimately an exercise in futility, which literally could fire back at you.

This entire seven-month period is a time in which to evaluate personal energy level; the quality of work/play time; personal ‘truth’; beliefs, ethics and relationships with learning and knowledge. Too, generally assessing health as an asset and all investments of time, love and money along with where ambitions and passions are really heading will bring positive results. If one is living a lie, playing out an hypocrisy, then one becomes tired, dispassionate and ultimately soul sick.

The answers to the questions that arise during the retrograde cycle of Mars are deep within, in the most primal and gut instinctual place within your self.

Thus, you will likely have an excellent idea, one that has potential over a long period of time, but it is not the time to actually inaugurate or initiate the project, idea, thing, deal or action!  It needs refinement and it needs to become less primitive and more sophisticated and more thoroughly evaluated.  When Mars actually goes direct, there can be forward motion, but it will be about ten or so days after that  (Sept 6th or so) when you will have the time for initiating new starts and really will have all the information you need, and likely will have begun the first stages of a new idea, project, activity, group or creative enterprise.

 

Three Phases Of Timing

(See diagram above for the elegance of the Mars Transit 2016)

 

1. Shadow Phase: Something This Way Comes

February 18th through April 18th - to its station retrograde at 8° Sagittarius

The “shadow” phase is when Mars is first at the degree at which it will turn direct on February 18th  2016.  February begins the entire seven-month Mars Retrograde in Scorpio/Sagittarius cycle.  One gets the feeling that “something is up” and most people like to get at whatever is “up’ . . . so they may well try to force something forward that needs to go back and reflect and regroup before launching it.

It is a time that is profoundly “secret”; there is absolutely nothing known of what is to come with regard to the retrograde Mars!  It marks a couple of weeks of real confusion both in personal lives and in the global condition.  Politically it is an exceptionally unstable time, and many ‘mistakes’ are made in planning for global action.

To use this cycle properly, lay the ground or foundation for the coming period – February 18th  through 18th – 24th 2016.    If you are aware of this cycle, then you can work to lay the foundation by using “intention” – by focusing on intent and outcome you may well be able to use the transit consciously.  There will be situations in which you feel you must act – but the feeling will have an urgency to it that is too extreme to follow up on – and it is essential to analyse the long-range effect that ANY action will result in if you do act on it without really thinking it through.  You may want to do a project, idea, change but the process of changing is still in the most embryonic phase, so it is best to allow the passion, drive, desire to “sit” and cook in the mind . . . it will develop, and with appropriate timing and maturation, but not during the Rx cycle itself.

The ‘shadow period’ is a time in which your deep Self - which ‘knows’ your future and your potentials - begins to lay down ground rules for what you need to learn.  Not only is Mars at the root of assertion, self-creativity, motivation, ambitions/goals, but also is about letting go of anger, of moving beyond it to a creative place of action.  Re-action is very primitive Mars, conscious action can civilize entire nations!

Getting mad is fine, but holding anger is destructive only to the holder!  So, moving on and working on letting go of pain, hurt, historical feuds, loss, and all the wounding experiences one has had, is a positive way to approach the very serious retrograde Mars.

Also, it is important to respect the imperatives of a strong transit and collude with it, so as to make your own life be in harmony with the nature of things.  In The Book of Life, Marsilio Ficino, Renaissance physician, astronomer, philosopher and astrologer, has a chapter entitled, “Making your Life agree with the Heavens” . . . psychological astrology didn’t begin in 1930’s with Dane Rudhyar, but back in the Greeks with their tragedies, and then rose again in the Renaissance with the ‘new thinking’ the re-birth of philosophy and neo-platonism.

 

2. The Flashpoint: Illumination Of What Is At Issue

May 22nd 2016 at 1° - 2° of Sagittarius - Transiting SUN OPPOSITE MARS rx

This is THE most powerful moment of the Mars Retrograde cycle (actually the power degree point of all outer planetary cycles) The “flashpoint” of any retrograde planet from Mars out, occurs in the very middle of the cycle, when the Sun is in exact opposition to the retrograde planet, which is when the retrograde planet, is moving at its fasted in retrograde motion and a flash of illumination that occurs  . . . it is the time in the whole cycle, when the tension that has been building, erupts – and leads to the next phase.  Ultimately it is a self-realization experience which can lead to a better proportioning of time and energy placed. 

There can be a confrontation between two aspects of your self, as well, where you are in a ‘split’ and need to mediate opposites within your own psyche . . . or within your lifestyle and relationships with external agents, such as work/home; self/partners; body/soul – at the last part of this article is a delineation of this ‘flashpoint’ as it occurs in the two opposing houses of the horoscope. 

3. Realization

Mars Stationary Direct June 30th  at 23° Scorpio – then leaves the phase August 20th – 30th

Once the flashpoint has revealed or illuminated, what has been developing under the surface, we are in a unique position literally of standing still, and looking back over the last three and a half months, to see just exactly what we have done and avoided doing.

This is the time to evaluate your own situation and the potentials that lie with you now. You will likely find that your “passions, drive, desire and ambitions” have truly taken a new direction or at least have a very fresh appearance than when Mars stationed retrograde back in December! 

When Mars does turn direct, it should mark a time when the previous months of incubation (and possible frustration!) bear fruit – Mars as cultivator – and slowly over the last phase, you can articulate what you seeded back in the earliest days in February and March . . . the gestation of a plan, project, or any creative action will now make much more sense, and become more “civilized”, that is, more shaped and formed.  

(n.b.For full solar system interpretations and cycles of all the planets, everything you ever wanted to know about retrogression  - natal and in transit -  read “Retrograde Planets: Traversing the Inner Landscape”. Erin Sullivan. RedWheelWeiser.

 



Greek Aegean Cruise

Greece

Save the Dates: August 17 to 27, 2016

OF GODS AND MORTALS:  FROM CHAOS TO COSMOS 

 

"The latest incarnation of Oedipus, the continued romance of Beauty and the Beast, stands this afternoon on the corner of 42nd  Street and Fifth Avenue, waiting for the traffic light to change”  . . . Joseph Campbell from “Myths To Live By”

Join Erin for an intensive Exploration of the Psyche as we cruise the Aegean Sea, and walk through sacred sites, experiencing the origins and significance of Astrological Archetypes in modern day living.  The Astrology of the archetypes is interwoven into all contemporary life. 

Emissaries of the Psyche – An astrological/psychological genealogy of the origins of the Western Classical Gods:  from Chaos, the genesis of all things, to the birth of Gaia and her creation of Ouranos and their astrologically relevant offspring.  The focus is on the Gods who people our Horoscopes.  We explore their realms both classically and psychologically to see how nothing has changed in the realm of the archetypal. 

How the archaic content of our collective unconscious “became” our planets’ names, thence psychic contents of our peronal Self. The stories of Gods and Planets are profound – their familial relationships – are dramatized as they are enacted in our own lives
The Acropolis... sail to the islands: Mykonos... Delos... Santorini and Crete . . . with talks from Erin and intimate group gatherings to explore your inner and outer world, gettin g to the core of your personal self:  relating, creativity, self awareness, empowerment and self confidence.

Full details of our Greece exploration will be announced very soon.

. For now, save the Date: August 17 to 27, 2016 and plan to join us in our transformational retreat. Interested to know more? Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your name, email and phone number and your interest level; and I will keep you up to date - we will finalize the full tour/cruise details in plenty of time for planning!


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