You’ve heard about Planets going retrograde, right? Even non-astrologers like to reference upcoming retrograde events, and usually in fairly ominous fashion…
Retrograde periods are not necessarily just horrible intervals to be waited out in the storm-cellar, though. It’s important to look at where a given retrograde shift is happening, and then see if you have anything in certain affected areas of the sky in your own birth-chart. If not, a given retrograde might pass you by with barely a whisper of impact.
Late December of 2016 features two relevant events here: on 12/19, Mercury goes into retrograde motion in the Sign of Capricorn, and on 12/29, Uranus comes out of retrograde motion in the Sign of Aries. How do you know if these developments will affect you…?
Look at your chart! Go to Astromatrix.org or Astro.com, and enter your birth information – that’s your date, city, and time of birth – into their FREE birth-chart generators. If you have any placements in the Cardinal Signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn), then this month may likely be an eventful one for you! If those stretches of sky are empty in your chart, though, then you may skate this time around in pretty carefree fashion.
Do check with a real, live astrologer for help with interpreting such things if needed…
If systems of divination – such as Tarot, Runes, or Astrology – can be seen as microcosms of the larger Universe that they peer into, then doesn’t it make sense that these systems themselves must appear somewhere within their own boundaries? That is, if Tarot, for example, does exist in the Universe, and if Tarot is a model of that Universe…then doesn’t Tarot also have to appear within Tarot?
So where does it do that? And where do the Runes refer to themselves? Where does Astrology talk about…Astrology?
Let’s take these one at a time, starting with Tarot. I believe I first saw the following idea put forth by Mary K. Greer in her book, Tarot for Your Self. The notion here is that Tarot captures itself – among other things – within the borders of the High Priestess card.
This conclusion makes fabulously good sense to me, and feels utterly on point, and I feel certain that I would have landed on this same association for myself even if I’d never read Ms. Greer’s book.
As you may know, The High Priestess is a keeper of arcane knowledge. She sits between the polarities of Light and Dark, and of Life and Death, calmly luminous in her twilight, threshold state, just sort of eternally knowing stuff. I like to think of her as the sort of cosmic Librarian who presides over the vast institution where the Akashic Records are kept. She’s the gatekeeper to all wisdom that ever was, is, could be, and will be…and if you approach her with the right mixture of curiosity and respect, she just might share some of her secrets with you…and couldn’t we say the exact same things about Tarot?
Over in the realm of the Elder Futhark Runes, I direct your attention to the P-Rune, the one called Perthro. This is a very mysterious and very mystical symbol. Some Rune scholars hold that Perthro is arguably an intruder into this Runic alphabet, as there’s some evidence indicating that the Germanic tribespeople who employed the Elder Futhark didn’t actually even have a P-sound in their spoken language! And if that’s the case…then what is that letter doing there? Who invited it, and why…? Well…maybe it’s there to contain all the other letters, is one possibility…
Just look at the shape of it. If you were to rotate it 90 degrees in a counter-clockwise fashion, it would look very much like a Rune pouch sitting on a flat surface, with its mouth slightly open, allowing access to the Runes inside. Visually, then, it certainly feels like a Rune that talks about the Runes.
But also consider the meanings that are most commonly associated with Perthro. It’s directly translated most often as meaning either “dice-cup” or “vulva.” The former term indicates an actual prop that was once used in a game of chance played by the people who worked with the Runes back in their pre-Viking day. The latter term makes reference to the external portion of the female genital anatomy…which has certainly been characterized by no shortage of people as a gateway to mystery! These attributions could definitely be seen as compatible with the possibility that Perthro is where the Runes refer back to themselves.
And in more general terms, when Perthro appears in a reading, it’s taken to mean things like magic, secrets, fertility, and creativity. Again, the overall vibe feels very consistent with a symbol that’s meant to embody the Runes themselves as a whole.
And finally, what about Astrology? Where does this particular esoteric science indicate itself? Probably the most commonly held viewpoint on this one would be that if you want to see Astrology talk about Astrology, you look at the very individualist Planet called Uranus, and also at the symbols most closely associated with it, including the Sign of Aquarius and the Eleventh House.
Uranian energy tends to be very unique and innovative, and it can correlate with instances of genius and eccentricity. It can be very progressive and forward-looking. It often operates like a lightning bolt: it builds in mostly unforeseen fashion, and then erupts in a flash of brilliance…quite like the way in which epiphanies triggered by the study of an astrological chart can manifest.
But like I said, Uranus and its associated symbols are the ones that are most often cited as carrying the energetic signature of Astrology itself…but I don’t know that I see the fit here as being quite as terrifically on point as saying that The High Priestess is the Tarot card that talks about Tarot, or that Perthro is the Rune that encompasses the Runes.
It’s my own belief that in the astrological realm, it makes some sense to see any divinatory system as also correlating with the dreamy Planet, Neptune (not to mention the Sign of Pisces and the mystical Twelfth House). We obviously have no standardized and measurable proofs we can consult when assigning these kinds of values to our divinatory symbols, so much of what we arrive at here will be down to personal taste…but I don’t feel quite as ready to say “Uranus is the astrological symbol of Astrology” as I am ready to champion The High Priestess and Perthro as the self-referencing members of their own respective divinatory sets.
But whatever system of divination you favor, if it’s one of those that involves the use and interpretation of a given set of symbols, you can almost bet that one of those symbols will refer back to the very same system of divination that it hails from. And when these are the specific symbols that start to appear for you with some frequency, it could be a sort of uber-message telling you that you, personally, have some special bond with that particular system, and you might do well to dive into it more deeply…
Astrologers often match world events to astrological developments. For instance, it lines up pretty well to suggest that the recent spikes in violence and terrorism could be manifestations of the passage of the war-Planet, Mars, through the dark and intense Sign of Scorpio.
Also relevant: Mars is now forming a configuration known as a Grand Water Trine with the Sun (in Cancer) and the planetoid known as Chiron (in Pisces). Generally, a Grand Trine is seen as a happy phenomenon, allowing the Planetary energies involved to merge easily and well. The Water-centric version has to do with the realm of the emotional. The optimistic take is that the configuration might allow for some constructive processing of all that sometimes dire Mars-in-Scorpio energy. We might find that during the Trine, positive emotions come to the forefront, and are more likely to be expressed in helpful ways. Also, even negative emotions may be dealt with in more mature and beneficial fashion.
But as in life, nothing in Astrology happens in a vacuum. Off to one side of that Trine configuration, rebellious Uranus is zapping the Sun from what’s known as a Square position. Uranus can bring sudden, unexpected changes. These can be terrific things, such as innovation and epiphanies, or they can be tough things, such as spasms or upheavals.
Think of the Trine as something like a ceiling fan cooling us off, or the rotor blades of a helicopter enabling us to fly on our emotional currents…but Uranus is an odd, largely unreadable character who keeps trying to stick a long metal pole into the blades of that fan or rotor. Maybe that Uranian input will rob us of the effects of the Trine…or maybe it will force us to focus harder on what we’re trying to accomplish, spurring us on to greater performance and higher ideals. Uranus is highly unpredictable.
So maybe do your best for now to channel your emotions into healing yourself and others, and know that the unexpected odd influence may be wanting to zap things every now and then like a lightning bolt. These conditions will hold until around the 19th, when the Sun wanders on out of range…
I’m a big fan of astrologer Steven Forrest. He’s made this point in various ways that I’ve really come to like. That point is that following the creation of the telescope, humanity seems to discover a new Planet or other body out in space at about the exact time that we, as a species, are ready to begin really examining the concepts that the newly discovered body will represent for us in astrological terms.
For example, Uranus – a Planet that for astrologers symbolizes things like upheaval, innovation, and rebellion – was discovered in 1781…and that discovery took place while the American Revolution was still ongoing, and less than a decade before the advent of the French Revolution. So with those synchronicities in mind, Uranus in Astrology really does feel like it’s quite arguably about revolution, sweeping changes, new paradigms.
And here’s another bullet-point to add under this heading… The year in which Uranus was discovered – again, that’s 1781 – was also the exact same year in which Tarot was transformed from being a simple pack of cards used for the playing of games, into a complex system reverberating with profound occult and metaphysical meaning. This transformation can be traced to the publication that same year of “Le Monde Primitif” by Antoine Court de Gébelin, a pivotal work in the evolution of Tarot.
So there you have it: another example of how Uranus may indeed signify revolutionary new developments with massive implications. And also how Tarot may indeed qualify as an entire new paradigm, and a metaphysical, Uranian revolution…
Modern metaphysics seems to have embraced the associations of the Air Element and the Planet Uranus when considering The Fool. On the one hand, assigning correspondences like these can be really helpful, as they can serve as memory aids, and they can also add new shadings and layers of meaning to your own inner definitions for a given symbol. On the other hand, this practice can be tricky in that two complex systems like Astrology and Tarot are not identical, and almost no symbol from one will map flawlessly onto a symbol from the other…and there’s the additional danger of swallowing these correspondences whole without much critical thought, which can muddy the symbolic waters.
So what do you think about this one? Is the Air Element on-point as a symbol for what The Fool is about? Air to me implies concepts such as language, logic, rationality, communication…whereas I see The Fool as being a bit “before” or “above” such things, like a pre-language being who doesn’t really “think” as we know and define the thought process. The Fool just lives. The Fool just does. Maybe The Fool feels more like the Fire Element to me, if any Element has to fit here.
And what about Uranus? In Astrology, this Planet represents individuation. It’s about the unique, the innovative, the non-conformist in us. It’s rebellion and revolution. And I guess some of this could fit The Fool — the utter lack of self-consciousness in this character dovetails pretty well with the spirit of the individualist. Also, that whole stepping off the cliff thing does seem, in its way, like a rebellion or a revolution of sorts.
I have no final answers for you yet. Just thinking out loud…
The 1970s gave rise to a lot of very distinctive phenomena: this was a decade that spawned consumer fads such as mood rings and Pet Rocks, new music styles like punk rock and disco, and fashion crazes that included bell bottoms, leisure suits, sideburns, and polyester.
This same decade also brought the Citizens Band (“CB”) radio into the collective consciousness, where it gained a position of some prominence for a while, before later fading away in favor of other emerging technologies. As shown in popular examples of late-70s entertainment such as the film Smokey and the Bandit, or TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard, the CB radio was a device used at first mainly by truckers, and later by a much greater segment of the general population, and its main function was providing motorists with a means of inter-vehicle communication while driving.
Initially, 23 channels were available to CB users, and this was later expanded to 40. Users selected a channel, and could then only interact with others within range who were tuned to the same channel, sort of like a semi-primitive, audio-only chat room experience (and if things got boring or otherwise disagreeable, changing to a new channel was as simple as turning a dial). Radio operators who were on the same channel could speak freely with each other in real time, although some care had to be exercised so as to avoid situations where too many participants all talked at once, with the whole thing devolving into meaningless cacophony. Still, as protocols developed and then caught on, the CB for a time offered an excellent mechanism by which users could provide one another with up-to-the-minute traffic reports in different areas, could warn others of road hazards, bad weather, and speed traps, and could recommend spots that offered low gas prices or good food.
So what does this cultural relic have to do with Astrology, and Aspects…?
Let’s take a look at the Aspect known as a Trine. With this Aspect, we’re looking at a division of the circle of the chart by 3:
360° / 3 = 120°
In other words, the Trine is an Aspect that exists when two Planets are 120° apart from each other. As the chart above shows, the Trine is generally held by modern Astrology to be an “easy” Aspect. This is in marked contrast to, say, the Opposition, a “hard” Aspect which is greatly characterized by an ongoing sense of tension, and which can take something of a toll on anyone whose chart boasts one or more of them. The Trine is a different beast: it’s believed to be a very user-friendly feature. It can feel very pleasant when activated, and it can seem to bring good luck.
In fact, the two Planets in a Trine relationship can act much like two highway motorists tuned to the same channel on their respective CB radios! Each one can provide the other with valuable information. Each one can help the other: warning of trouble, making recommendations, lending know-how.
Imagine two drivers, a mile apart, both driving in the same direction on a major road. The first passes a highway patrol car that’s idling in the roadway’s median, just licking its metaphorical chops in anticipation of catching some unwary motorist exceeding the applicable speed limit. The first driver then broadcasts into the CB radio that this patrol car is primed and waiting, and furnishes anyone on the channel with the officer’s exact position. Now say that the second driver is the only other person in range who both has a CB radio and is tuned to the first driver’s channel. This second driver, forewarned and forearmed with knowledge of the lurking cop-car, can now pull into the slow lane and cut velocity down to just below the maximum speed permitted by law, and avoid getting a ticket. Other drivers, though, lacking CB radios, or not tuned to the right channel at the right time so as to catch that first driver’s warning, may get popped for speeding violations. And furthermore, they might watch that second driver – the one who does have a CB, and who does have it tuned to the first driver’s channel – sail on by unmolested, and might glare after that driver in resentment, thinking something like, “That lucky so-and-so…”
But it wasn’t exactly “luck,” as such, that saved the second driver from a ticket and a fine. It was the fact that this driver was tuned in to the same frequency as the first one. There was a conduit of information flowing freely between those two drivers that managed to save the second driver some measure of headache.
And Planets in Trine can help each other out in much the same way. The chart of Abraham Lincoln can illustrate this Aspect in action. Lincoln’s chart features no less than five fairly tight Trines, but for simplicity’s sake, we can just focus on one. Let’s zero in on Lincoln’s Mercury-Uranus Trine.
First, we can spot Honest Abe’s Mercury in the Sign of Pisces in his First House. This tells us that Lincoln was probably plugged pretty directly into the greater societal consciousness (Pisces), and that communication (the stuff of the Mercury function) was an integral part in defining the man’s very identity (H1 business). That is, Lincoln was a communicator and a thinker, and he invariably aimed these things at helping humanity as a whole.
Next, we can locate his Uranus in Scorpio in his Eighth House. Uranus describes our drive to be new, original, genius, innovative, revolutionary, individualist…and Lincoln’s Uranus expressed itself in the deep, dark, intense manner of Scorpio, and it manifested especially in ways that had to do with death and other people’s property (which things are both within the province of typical H8 affairs…and if we allow for the fact that many people in Lincoln’s time viewed many other people back then as their “property,” this placement alone seems to describe the basics of the Civil War!).
So to tie this all back to the CB radio metaphor, we can theorize that Lincoln’s Piscean Mercury in H1 was rather permanently tuned in to the same channel as his Scorpionic Uranus in H8. And notice how both Planets lie in Water Signs (Pisces and Scorpio – along with Cancer – make up the Zodiac’s full complement of Water Signs). Most of the time, with Trines, the Element involved (Earth, Air, Fire, or Water) serves sort of like the “channel” that the two Planets are tuned to in the Trine connection. If you look at a chart, you’ll see that Signs of the same Element are 120° apart from each other.
So in Lincoln’s case, his Mercury and Uranus could constantly help each other throughout his life. His Mercury allowed him to effectively communicate things that were polarizing and arguably radical (= Uranian) in such a way that he was still able to attract enormous numbers of people to his cause. Meanwhile, his Uranus lent a unique and brilliant quality to his communications (Mercury stuff), such that we still quote and revere such works as his Gettysburg Address more than a century and a half later.
To put it more simply, the Trine we’re looking at enabled Lincoln to successfully radicalize his communication, and to just as successfully communicate his radicalness… And this all probably came very naturally to him, without the kind of struggle that those of us who don’t have such a Trine in our charts might encounter if attempting to pull off similar feats.
Now, this isn’t to say that Trines are unqualifiedly wonderful in every way, all the time. The biggest knock on having too powerful a Trine, or too many Trines in a chart, is that the chart-holder will become too accustomed to things just seeming to work out well for them without them ever even needing to contribute much in the way of effort. Laziness and complacency can set in. This can become a problem whenever occasions do arise, though, in which the Trines don’t take care of business automatically for the person in question. The person may then be called upon to make use of skills that they haven’t been cultivating, and so such occasions can lead to instances of frustration and failure.
Consider a young, beautiful model who receives all manner of favors and gifts and attention due to their beauty, to the point that the model doesn’t even bother to practice social skills, because why bother? There doesn’t seem to be any need for them…
But what happens when the model suddenly stumbles into a situation in which their beauty won’t help them? What if their well-being suddenly depends on charming someone who is immune to their beauty, or who can’t even perceive it? The point is that just as Oppositions aren’t 100% “bad,” Trines aren’t 100% “good.” They may generally feel like more pleasant presences in the lives of the chart-holder than Oppositions will, but for any Aspect, it’s best to consider all possible manifestations of them, both positive and negative.
Last time around, I spoke a bit about the Planets in general; in this post, we’ll look at the major Planetary players as distinct individuals.
Before we jump into their profiles, I should repeat here again that “Planet” in Astrology doesn’t mean quite the same thing that it means in Astronomy. For our purposes here, “Planet” will refer to any of those bodies that seem to circle us across our sky…so even though the Sun and the Moon are clearly not what scientists would call Planets, and Pluto has been stripped of that title in the Astronomy world, we in Astrology do call all of these bodies “Planets”…
Also, I mentioned that astrologers who lean toward the more Traditional approach will generally stick to working with only the seven “classical” Planets, which would be those that were known in the ancient world. I prefer the Modern approach, though, myself, which also includes those Planets discovered and/or verified only after humanity had cobbled together that handy invention we call the telescope…
I included some of this in table form in a previous post, but to save you from having to dig that one up and then toggle back and forth, here’s a roster sheet listing the Planets, and also adding the interesting little symbols – or “glyphs,” as they’re known – that represent each one of them:
And with all of that out of the way…let’s meet the 10 main Planets!
The Sun. Big, bright Sol – giver of life, difficult to disguise or ignore, and impossible to live without… And just as the actual Sun serves as the gravitational center of our solar system, binding the entire array of Planets into a cohesive whole, so, too, does the astrological Sun represent the primal force that holds our psyches together. The Sun is our great Yang urge, looking outward, acting on the world; it’s our life-force and our urge to thrive. The Sun is our vitality.
The Moon. If the Sun is the great Yang-force within us all, then the Moon is the corresponding primal Yin. The Sun acts, while the Moon reacts. The Sun shines, but the Moon reflects. The astrological Moon explains what we need in order to feel secure in the world. Another distinctly lunar trait is the Moon’s passage through cycles: it waxes and wanes, and creates emotional tides within us as surely as the physical Moon exerts its pull on our oceans. Whereas the Sun symbolizes a more conscious set of imperatives, the Moon is more concerned with our subconscious and even our unconscious selves. The Moon is our instincts and our inner rhythms. The Moon is our emotional core.
Mercury. Speedy little Mercury, closest of the Planets to the Sun… Mercury was the Messenger of the Gods in Roman Mythology (known first as Hermes to the Greeks), flashing about the ancient world at the speed of Thought, delivering words, language, and meaning, and even bridging worlds by transporting the newly deceased to the land of the dead. Mercury is connected to our rational, logical mind, what we call “left-brain thought.” Mercury is our communication function.
Venus. The Goddess of Love… While the Moon signifies our basic emotional make-up and what we need in order to feel secure in life, Venus is more specifically concerned with love, romance, affection, relationships. She’s also a signpost that reveals what our own individual attitudes are toward things such as peace and beauty and art. Venus is who, how, what, and why we love.
Mars. The God of War! Mars is all about what drives us to act, and this can generally be cast into terms having to do with battle. What do we wish to conquer? When will we attack things or people, and how do we defend the things that we care about? Mars describes our internal wiring for aggression in all its forms, and for most astrologers, this also includes our libido. Venus deals with romance and love, while Mars focuses on sex and desire. As the Warrior Planet, Mars also describes our courage and our sense of adventure. Whether it’s for blood or sex or adventure or conquest…Mars is the various forms of our lust.
Jupiter. To the ancient Romans (and to the Greeks before them, who knew the same figure as Zeus), Jupiter was the King of the Gods. The most powerful of the Deities and the luckiest, Jupiter could bestow great fortune on those he judged deserving of it. In Astrology, the Planet named for that God bestows similar riches upon us when it makes contacts with sensitive points in our charts. Jupiter helps us to expand, to explore, to have faith and optimism, and also to see that faith and optimism rewarded. Jupiter is our growth.
Saturn. Possibly the least-loved Planet of them all, Saturn has a fairly grim reputation. Where Jupiter helps us to expand, Saturn is the force that restricts and contracts. Saturn binds and scrutinizes, measures and tests. Wherever this Planet appears, it demands excellence, while pointing out weak-spots and failings. In some ways, Saturn is about opposition in all its forms. This Planet is hardly all bad, though… Think of Saturn as being a bit like a cosmic version of a demanding personal trainer: the lessons will be exacting, maybe even excruciating, but if you enter into them with determination, commitment, an honest evaluation of self, and a sense of your own responsibility, Saturn can help to turn you into a spectacular performer. Saturn is our limitations.
Uranus. Just as Saturn might be seen as the opposite of Jupiter in a “contraction vs. expansion” context, Saturn might also be seen as a counter to Uranus… While Saturn can symbolize structure and tradition, and an established order – in short, “the Old” – Uranus stands for “the New.” Uranus delights in baffling and confounding. It defies standards and expectations, and it encourages things to go a bit haywire when it beams its energy into a chart. Uranus loves the innovative, the odd, and the unprecedented. It’s the rebel, the revolutionary, the mad genius. While Saturn is often slow and steady when it applies itself, Uranus strikes like a lightning bolt, even from an otherwise clear blue sky. Uranus is how we become more of the unique selves we were always meant to be, unlike anyone else on Earth. Uranus is our originality.
Neptune. We can set off Saturn as an opposite of yet another Planet here: Saturn is about boundaries, while watery Neptune dislikes even recognizing the existence of boundaries, and will do its best to dissolve them, given the chance. Named for the God of the Sea, Neptune is, in its more negative expressions, liable to bring forth escapism and illusions…but in its more positive expressions, this is the Planet for artistic dreamers, psychics, and mystics. It tells us about our urge to commune with the Universe itself, to transcend our mundane, everyday, “consensus reality.” Neptune sees into other planes of existence, and other states of consciousness. It helps us to hear and feel the pulse of the Cosmos. Neptune is our spirituality.
Pluto. This Planet was named for the God of the Underworld, and the association is fitting. Pluto the Planet is like a cold, dark, unblinking eye, watching us without pity from the edge of our star system. Pluto has no sentimentality, and recognizes no excuses. The Lord of the Underworld understands all about mortality and death, and has walked with the dynamics of great power for untold eons. Remorseless Pluto knows our secrets, sees the things that we try to deny about ourselves or bury deep down in our souls…but it’s through dealing with these issues that we can often heal ourselves, regenerate, and be reborn. Pluto is our ability to transform.
And that’s our cast of Planetary characters… Please remember that while I’ve tried to pack the preceding paragraphs with as many of the important keywords that are generally associated with each Planet as I could, these are just extremely basic little capsule summaries. They’re not intended to replace actual in-depth study of the Planets. They will, however, hopefully give you a solid starting point in your learning, or serve as a legitimate review if you’re already marching down the astrologer’s pathway…