How to Tell if a Retrograde Event Will Affect You Personally…

Yesterday, as you may already know, Mercury went into retrograde (“Rx”) motion. It joined Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn, which had already been in retrograde-mode.

As I tend to do whenever a Planet turns retrograde, I began urging people to not just make blanket assumptions about a given Rx event, but to hold each one of these events up to their own birth-charts to see if the event would have any direct impact on anything in those charts. Since several people asked me how exactly you’d go about connecting these dots, I decided to create a post that would set out some of the basics…

The following is slightly oversimplified, but it should get you started on a helpful interpretive path. These are the steps I recommend following in order to see if a given Rx might be personally meaningful for you:

  1. Get a copy of your birth-chart. If you don’t have one, you can generate your chart for free at sites such as Astro.com and Astromatrix.org. I wrote an earlier post on how you go about doing this – that post can be found HERE.
  2. Determine exactly where in the sky the Rx that interests you is happening. You can obtain this info easily enough by simply punching the phrase “Mercury retrograde” (or whichever other Planet has caught your attention if not Mercury) into your favorite search engine, and then look at the date listings provided in any of the resulting hits to find the one you’re seeking. You’ll generally also be able to find the location in the sky of that Rx. As an example, take a look at the accompanying image: it’s showing yesterday’s Mercury Rx as it applies to my own birth-chart. The yellow-colored belt around the outside of the chart is the Zodiac, and each of the subsections of it represents one of the 12 Signs. The little symbols rendered in blank ink around the inside of the belt are the Planets as they were arrayed at the moment of my birth. The same symbols are also rendered around the outside of the Zodiac belt in green ink – these represent the locations of the Planets as they were yesterday (April 9, 2017). The birth-Planets are often referred to as natal Planets, while the ones happening in the present time are called transiting Planets. I circled transiting Mercury for ease of reference, and marked it with the Mercury symbol () and the symbol for “retrograde” (Rx). Mercury stationed retrograde yesterday just a bit before it would have reached the 5-degree mark in Taurus.
  3. Check to see if you have anything placed in your chart at or near the degree where the Rx is taking place. I don’t have much in the way of Taurus placements in my chart, and nothing at or near the 5-degree mark, so at this point, it doesn’t yet appear that this particular Rx will have a ton of personal impact in my world.
  4. Next, it can be informative to see if you have any placements directly opposite the point of the Rx station. In this case, that means that we need to check the chart for any placements at about 5 degrees into Scorpio. Suddenly, this Rx just got personal for me, as my natal Sun () lies extremely close to that position, and my natal Venus () is only a couple of degrees away – I circled these in Scorpio. Oppositional placements like this – when the Planets involved are 180° apart (give or take a few degrees) – can result in some real tension, so this Rx could conceivably lead to challenges to my own sense of self and my vitality (Sun business), and to my relationships, romantic affairs, and serenity (Venus concepts).
  5. In addition to oppositions, checking for square relationships can be illuminating, too. Squares occur when Planets are 90° apart (or thereabouts). We again strike paydirt with respect to yesterday’s Rx hitting my chart, as transiting Mercury was square my natal Jupiter when it stationed retrograde. Squares tend to come infused with a certain amount of friction when they manifest, so they’re often not so enjoyable or user-friendly. Here, I might be looking at a retrograde period in which my attempts at communication, logic, and clarity (Mercury stuff) will tend to frustrate and foil my attempts at growing (Jupiter affairs), and vice versa. I circled Jupiter () in Leo. You want to check for squares in both directions, so look from Taurus to both Leo and Aquarius. As it turns out, I have no placements in Aquarius in my chart, so there are no additional squares for me to worry about with this particular Rx (I circled the empty section of Aquarius just to highlight its emptiness).
  6. You can also take into account questions such as whether Mercury itself is a powerful influence in your own birth-chart – in which case, Mercury Rx occurrences might be more significant for you even when they don’t make direct contact with anything in your chart based solely on position. My own Mercury is in my First House, which placement tends to raise the prominence of a Planet in a chart. I also have a lot of placements in Virgo, which is one of the Signs that Mercury is said to rule, so this further beefs up Mercury’s profile in my chart. I’ve noticed over time that I personally do not feel every Mercury Rx event, though, so this factor may vary in effect from one person to the next (and from one Rx to the next)…although it’s still worth tracking to get a sense of how much it might apply to you and your own chart.

As mentioned above, this post is oversimplifying things a bit simply due to space constraints, but the above guidelines should be enough to get a beginner started on determining whether outright panic is a justifiable response in the face of any given retrograde event. And this month has been offering a wealth of opportunities for practicing exactly this kind of analysis – good luck with the process, and with this heaping helping of Rx activities!

Quintiles Questionnaire Query

addison.qOne of the more important concepts in Astrology is the Aspect. These are special geometric relationships that can form between two or more Planets or Points in a chart. They operate sort of like electric circuits, transmitting energy from one end of the circuit to the other, and lighting up anything else that might also be connected.

Just like cards in a Tarot deck, these Aspects get grouped into the two categories of “major” and “minor.” Most astrologers agree that the Conjunction, the Opposition, the Trine, the Square, and the Sextile are the Aspects most deserving of being called major (although some would argue that the Sextile really shouldn’t make this particular cut).

There are also plenty of minor Aspects, and it’s here where the Astro-community seems more likely to disagree about which ones should carry real importance in chart analysis versus which can be safely ignored. The minor Aspects tend to have extra eggheaded-sounding names, such as the Sesquiquadrate, the Semisextile, and the Quincunx.

Interestingly, even free Astrology programs available on the internet seem to include most Aspects from both groups by default when generating charts, even going so far as to render them all — minor Aspects included — graphically in the chart itself, as well as logging entries for them in the accompanying tables.

Except for…the Quintile. While this Aspect does get added to the tallies in those tables, it never seems to get represented by visible lines in the center of the chart along with the rest of the Aspects.

This has never sat well with me. All of the major Aspects can be arrived at by dividing the 360 degrees of the chart-circle by a whole number:

360/1 = 360…two Planets or Points that are 360 degrees apart are actually also 0 degrees apart, which gives us a Conjunction.

360/2 = 180…a 180-degree distance gives us an Opposition.

360/3 = 120…this is the Trine.

360/4 = 90…the Square is a distance of 90 degrees.

360/6 = 60…this is the Sextile.

But wait…what about dividing by 5?

360/5 = 72…this is the Quintile. Dividing by the nice whole number of 5 gives us the equally nice whole number of 72. It doesn’t end neatly in a 0, as the major Aspects’ math results all do, but it also doesn’t have a weird little clump of fractional digits hanging off of its decimal point like a vestigial tail. So why do people not use it?

Contrast with some of the more well-known minor Aspects, which see more play than the Quintile… To arrive at the 150-degree distance embodied by the Quincunx, we have to divide the 360-degree circle by 2.4. How does that make sense? The Sesquiquadrate — a 135-degree distance — requires division of the circle by 2 2/3, and feels less like its own Aspect to me, and more like “a square-and-a-half” (the 90 degrees of a square + the 45 degrees that would comprise half of another Square = 135 degrees).

None of these so-called minor aspects feel as potentially important to me as the Quintile. Why is the Quintile so discounted and under-utilized? Why is it so under the collective radar? I feel certain that it has a lot to tell us…

And so I’m doing a small study on it. If you have some Astrology knowledge (or if you don’t, but you’re brave about very field-specific jargon), and you have one or more tight Quintiles in your chart, then I’ve cooked up a brief questionnaire about Aspects and the Quintile that I’d love to have you fill out! When I ask for “tight” Quintiles, I’m thinking of any that are within about, say, three degrees or so of the exact 72-degree distance that defines what the Quintile is (in other words, if you have a Quintile that’s anywhere from 69 degrees to 75 degrees or thereabouts, then I’d value your responses to the questionnaire).

If you meet that very brief list of qualifications, and you’d like to take part, please amble on over to my CONTACT page, and then drop me a line at the email address there to request a copy of the questionnaire.

Full disclosure: what I do with all of this will be in some part dependent on the volume and quality of the responses I get…

Neptune Disconnected…

IMG_6396It’s pretty popular in the Astrology world to talk about what’s happening among the Planets out there in our solar system. The idea is that the Planets are very visible indicators of certain invisible forces making themselves felt in our reality. If we can unravel the gist of what’s happening “up there,” then we can also transfer that analysis to the personal level “down here” to make some educated guesses at how these developments might also manifest here on the human scale.

For example, you’ll often hear about which Planets are retrograde, or which ones are moving into new Signs. Some astrologers write excellent columns about the various relationships that materialize and then fade away as the Planets continue making their forever circuits around the Sun, and what these ever-changing connections might mean for us in our daily lives.

And while it can be incredibly beneficial to get some solid astrological evaluation about what’s happening around us on the planetary level, it can also at times prove equally beneficial to take a look at what’s not happening.

Which brings me to Neptune… Named for the Roman God of the Sea, Neptune symbolizes our drives toward the mystical, the cosmic, and the spiritual. Neptune is about consciousness and transcendence, and our relationship with whatever it is that each of us might privately label “The Divine.”

You can definitely find plenty to talk about in a chart cast for this particular moment in time – several retrogrades are happening, and there are some interesting Aspects and configurations out there, like that Jupiter/Uranus/Pluto T-Square that’s been raining down power surges and bursts of weirdness for weeks now. You may also notice, though, that behind all that oddness and intensity, Neptune is pretty well detached from the planetary mix right about now. It’s not lined up in any kind of noteworthy way with a single other Planet in the system. It’s diving deep into the waters of Pisces, the Sign that most shares its dreamy, contemplative vibe, and the rest of the Planets seem content to let it submerge there as it will without any interference.

Now, this kind of occurrence, this “Planet in the penalty box” deal, isn’t so rare a thing that we all need to quit our jobs and prepare for a Rapture-level event…but it’s worth pondering for a minute or three. All Planets do go through periods like this, when the peculiarities of differing orbital velocities take one of them into a “time out” sort of moment in some semi-disconnected patch of sky…but what do these periods mean? The presences of strong Aspects generate the overwhelming majority of astrological discussions, it seems. But what do their absences say…?

In this case, I have to wonder if the message might be that we’re moving through an interval during which our access to our own spiritualities might have fallen into a bit of a blind spot. More than usual, we may be required to make a conscious effort to connect with our inner mystics, to remember that there’s more to life than what occurs on the material plane, and that our relationships with “something Higher” are as important as the ones we maintain with other physical beings down here below in consensus reality. More than ever, this might be a terrific time for putting energy into meditation or that yoga practice or working on that dream journal. Being in the here/now moment, and reminding ourselves to keep putting that intuitive right-brain to work could be in order.

All things of course must pass, and if you just wait a few days, some of the quicker Planets will change location enough to forge new energy-bridges with Neptune. Until then, though, life may tend to take on a decidedly unspiritual tone…unless you step in and actively lend it a helpful nudge back toward the mystical. If ever a round of willful navel-gazing seemed in order, this might be that time…

ASTROLOGY TIP: Start with the Planets

If you haven’t started really studying Astrology yet…or if you have, and you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of weird symbols, and you need something to anchor yourself to…start with the Planets.

It’s easy to get all caught up in the Signs first, because for some reason, it’s the Signs that have found their way into our culture (no one at a party ever uttered a seductive, “Hey, baby, what’s your House…?”). So the Signs just naturally seem like The Thing To Do at first.

But yeah, no – start with the Planets. The Planets represent active forces. They drive the engines. The Signs modify the actions of the Planets (and other things). In an admittedly oversimplified but not horribly inaccurate analogy, the Planets are like people, and the Signs are like jackets that the people can wear. The Houses are the rooms that the people hang out in once they’ve chosen a jacket to wear and put it on.

And because Astrology isn’t complicated enough, I’ll add another wrinkle for you right here… The Signs and the Houses? You can pretty much find a consensus out there that there are 12 members in each of those two sets. You can even find a decent consensus out there as to what each Sign and each House should be called and what they each generally mean.

Wait…Ceres?

But with the Planets, it’s different. In Astrology, the Sun and the Moon are included as “Planets.” So is Pluto, unlike for the astronomers. Well…that’s true if you’re into Modern Astrology. The modern school accepts the “Outer Planets” (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and depending on the individual astrologer, maybe many more orbital bodies out there, too) as having vital astrological impact on the system. The traditional Astrologer, though, only tracks the seven Planets that are visible to the naked eye from Earth: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

 

Gas_giants_in_the_solar_system
Virtually all astrologers let Jupiter and Saturn into the party…but where do you stand on Uranus and Neptune…?

The point is…unlike with the Signs and the Houses, there’s no ultimate consensus among astrologers as to exactly which Planets are to be considered essential components of a chart. To some extent, it’ll be on you to decide that.

So, sorry for that added bit of complication and responsibility… But yes, start with the Planets! Start especially with the visible seven (at least everyone seems to agree that those seven are crucial to the mix – it’s out beyond those seven that things get scattered). I also highly recommend looking into the Outer Planets, and if you feel like that’s still not enough to fully keep you busy, explore some of the Asteroid Belt asteroids and some of the Trans-Neptunian Objects way, way out there in the dark.

But whichever ones you decide should be considered Planets…start with the Planets.

Astrology Workshop in Providence, RI: Work and Money

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I’ll be teaching a FREE one-hour workshop today in the Providence, RI area. We’ll be going over some Astrology basics, covering the necessary steps for generating your own free birth-chart, and then focusing on how you can find clues in your chart about your own intrinsic wiring with respect to work and money.

What’s your relationship with money? What does it mean to you? How are you inclined to approach the doing of work itself, and what kinds of work are you best equipped to do in a career context…?

We’ll be talking about which astrological symbols in the chart are most on point here, and how you can pull some useful data from them. The workshop runs from noon until 1pm at the HOPE ARTISTE VILLAGE in Pawtucket, RI. We’ll be in Suite 707, at a place aptly named THE EMPOWERMENT FACTORY. Please consider this your official invitation to join us if you’ll be in the area!

Polarity in Astrology

img_6286There are three primary sets of symbols that we work with in Astrology: the Planets, the Signs, and the Houses.

In brief:

The Planets are drives and imperatives within us. The Planets are what we do.

The Signs are like modifiers that color the ways in which the Planetary forces go about their business when we let them work through us. The Signs are how we do what we do.

The Houses are various areas in our lives, like differently themed rooms within a single building. The Houses are where we do what we do.

The Planets are extra tricky in that astrologers can’t seem to agree on which ones equal essential members of the set. Traditionalists stick to the seven visible bodies that we track across the sky: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. More modern astrologers tend to add in additional bodies, such as the Outer Planets (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) and various Planetoids and Asteroids (Chiron, Ceres, Juno, Pallas, Vesta, Eris, etc.). The Planets also represent a scattering of points within a birth-chart. For these reasons, they don’t easily lend themselves to the kind of polarity analysis I’m about to get into…

The Signs, though, and the Houses, comprise a different story. Each of these two primary sets of astrological symbols does embody a closed group whose members virtually all astrologers do agree on (excepting those minority voices making their case for the inclusion of the so-called “thirteenth Zodiac Sign,” Ophiuchus, which I won’t be addressing here…).

But another interesting trait which separates the Planets on the one hand from the Signs and Houses on the other is the notion that while the Planets show up in a chart as a volley of distinct points, the Signs and Houses both add up in their respective ways so as to form the overall circle of the chart. The Signs combine to make up the outer circumference of the chart’s circle, while the Houses are the sort of “pie slices” into which the chart-circle’s interior is divided.

Taking this reality a step further, it’s possible to then note that each Sign and each House has an opposite number that lies directly across the circle from it: Libra lies opposite Aries…the Eleventh House lies opposite the Fifth.

And here’s the interesting part, which can be used as a tool to help with retention of the meanings of some of these symbols: the opposing pairs of Signs and Houses can each be seen as a distinct axis, the poles of which share a conceptual link. They’re like the two far ends of the same spectrum, or the opposite sides of the same coins.

The following table is admittedly a vast oversimplification, and shouldn’t at all be taken as a substitute for actually studying and living with all of the symbols mentioned…but it can be a tremendously helpful aid in getting more familiar with the symbols involved. And with that being said, here are some ways in which you might see the Signs and the Houses not just as sets of 12 unique personalities, but also as six pairs whose members share some very thematic connections:

Sign

Opposite Sign

Axis Themes

Aries Libra Aries = war / Libra = peace
Taurus Scorpio Taurus = simplicity, serenity / Scorpio = complexity, intensity
Gemini Sagittarius Gemini = gathering evidence / Sagittarius = taking things on faith
Cancer Capricorn Cancer = nurturing, “maternal” / Capricorn = serious, “paternal”
Leo Aquarius Leo = self-focus / Aquarius = societal focus
Virgo Pisces Virgo = earthly service / Pisces = service to the Universe

House

Opposite House

Axis Themes

First Seventh First = “I” / Seventh = “You and I”
Second Eighth Second = one’s own possessions / Eighth = others’ possessions
Third Ninth Third = local focus (the “trees”) / Ninth = global focus (the “forest”)
Fourth Tenth Fourth = private, home / Tenth = public, workplace
Fifth Eleventh Fifth = “I speak alone” / Eleventh = “We speak together”
Sixth Twelfth Sixth = physical maintenance / Twelfth = spiritual maintenance

Astrology and Romance…

IMG_4186The other day, I taught an Astrology workshop focusing on what birthcharts can say about a person’s romantic potential (you know: Valentine’s Day and all…). We leaned mainly on the personal Planets and the Ascendant, and off to one side, I tallied up all of the Sign placements in the attendees’ charts, because I’m nerdy like that, and because I thought it might be illuminating to see which Sign-energies might be most likely to propel people out into the cold to try to improve things in their romantic spheres…

Q: Care to guess which Signs were the most represented?

A: By a very wide margin, it was the Signs of Virgo (first place) and Leo (very close second) that topped the polls here. Not a gargantuan sample size, and only one event in one geographic locale studied here, but still interesting (he says, with his Mars in Virgo…).