Here's what to watch for:
* The 32nd hexagram of the I Ching is sometimes called "durability," and it depicts thunder and wind moving together.
* The hexagram discusses the difference between a standstill and endurance. Endurance is not the same as merely withstanding something in a static position. To have duration we must move in accordance with the needs and demands of the Tao in each moment.
* Trying times, times where we are being tested, require that we respond with intelligence and continue to move forward in and through challenges with an adaptive, organized, and humble response. This is what the I Ching tells us is meant by "enduring" something, and it's fundamentally different than becoming porous and allowing ourselves to be flooded by something, to give in, to give up, or to tuck ourselves into a metaphorical ball and just "take it until it's over."
* We all do this. We bite a stick, or we bite our lip, and hunker down, and say "I've got to just get through this," but hexagram 32 suggests a better path. We move with rather than resist the resistance we experience.
* Hexagram 32 says, "Duration. Success. No blame. Perseverance furthers. It furthers one to have somewhere to go."
* Some commentators speak at length about the organizational intelligence of a well-run business or household. The world around us may storm and quake, but when we keep our inner life, seen here as the "home," organized, tidy, and clean, then it becomes much easier to respond and adapt to difficulties, which makes us "durable."
* The fifth line says, "giving duration to one's character through perseverance, good for a follower, but not good for a leader."
* Here the I Ching tells us that persevering if we are in the position of student, subordinate, or faithful follower of something higher than ourselves is good, but if we are in a leadership position we have to be flexible and it may not always be correct to simply follow the traditional course. Knowing when we are a leader and when we are a follower is not always easy, but recognizing which we are, at any given time, allows us to adapt and respond to trying times more intuitively (do we follow a set course faithfully, or do we respond creatively).
* The transformed hexagram leads to hexagram 28, called "Critical mass." It shows a flood and rising water above the trees. It reads, "Preponderance of the great. The ridgepole sags to the breaking point. It furthers one to have somewhere to go. Success."
* Hexagram 28 is also called, "Preponderance of what is great." The hexagram basically depicts a point where something is becoming strong and overwhelming to the point of a breaking point. The hexagram suggests a big change of direction, perhaps in order to reduce pressure or perhaps in response to a great pressure.
* Put together, we have images in both hexagrams of pressures and forces mounting or becoming concentrated, and we have the core advice to organize ourselves outwardly so that we may find peace within.
* From the place of peace within, we are told to respond through either devotion and submission or creative leadership.
* So what does this have to do with Mercury square Neptune?
* Mercury square to Neptune is a great image for challenges to our mind, values, thinking, and boundaries. Here we have a debilitated Mercury, perhaps not thinking as clearly as it should while sojourning through the fiery, masculine temple of Jupiter. This is a confident Mercury, perhaps a cocksure and charismatic Mercury, and now, not moving, stuck, pondering, and moving through the mist, fog, delusion, disillusionment, temptation, or fantasy of Neptune. How do we return to the simple, grounded, common truth when we're lost? How do we reorient the compass to true north when we lose our way? The I Ching tells us to return to practices, organizational abilities, and good habits. The I Ching tells us to put our lives in order in the external sense so that we can hear the direction of the Tao within...only in this way will we find our way through a temporary maze or period of uncertainty, delusion, temptation, or confusion.
* Mercury in Sagittarius square to Neptune in Pisces tempts us to be wishy-washy. To be unclear, to wander, to follow blindly, or to make mindless proclamations or judgments.
* Sometimes when we're confused, lost, or bewildered we are tempted to fall into line. We think to ourselves, "I'm feeling a little lost, so I'll follow the first image of strength and clarity that I see." The I Ching tells us that sometimes this is correct, but it also tells us that it can be inappropriate.
* The I Ching tells us that developing clarity may also require us to respond creatively and individually to a situation.
* The I Ching suggests that Mercury square Neptune could indicate some kind of overwhelming moment, a moment of mental or emotional breakthrough and transformation, forced by mounting environmental pressures. The advice is to listen and respond courageously to our environment or else we will likely see a kind of mental or emotional breakdown during this time.
* The I Ching also instructs us to find the difference between true faith and hot air or to find the difference between being a real leader or just another mindless follower, between being a humble student or servant and a pretentious and hypocritical big mouth. We can't do any of this unless we develop grounded habits, a grounded mind, and a grounded environment around us. These things aren't hard to do...they are practices. We don't need to be perfectly organized, but the little things, done consistently, over time, lead to truth and clarity, they make us both better students and better leaders.
* You can also play with the hexagrams on your own in order to deepen your relationship to this Mercury/Neptune transit.
* Finally, I am just 20+ backers shy of my yearly 250 backer goal. Last year I reached 350, but each year is different. I am so thankful for your readership and support. This horoscope began, this morning, before sunrise. I did my yoga practice, meditated and chanted with the sunrise, read sacred scripture, entered into a long prayer with the I Ching, focusing on the Mercury/Neptune square, and carefully wrote this over an hour. Most mornings, year round, this is my practice. I ask my readers to support this practice in the year ahead by donating whatever you can. You can pick a gift reading to give to someone for Christmas, or pick up one for yourself!
Prayer: Help us to put our lives in order outside so that we might more easily find the truth inside. Show us true north, and give us the courage to respond creatively and intelligently to the pressures of the moment.