Venus and Jupiter are coming together in Scorpio right now.
Today an I Ching Meditation:
* The 17th Hexagram of the I Ching is called "Following," but it is also referred to as "according with," "acquiring followers," "adapting," "adjusting," "to accord with," "to accompany," "concordance," or "conformance to the great work."
* The judgment reads, "Following has supreme success. Perseverance furthers. No blame."
* Another translation of the judgment reads, "Following is primordial, pervasive, prosperous, and persevering. There will be no blame."
* The image of the hexagram is that of thunder inside a lake, which is also considered "movement and joy."
* Traditional commentary on the hexagram image says, "The leader goes inside and rests and nightfall."
* Because this is a hexagram about leadership, developing a following, or being the kind of person that is ready to be followed, ready to be a teacher, ready to be setting an example, the commentary above about the leader going in at nightfall is suggesting that leaders know when to move forward and when to rest, and as such they set the example for others. Leaders do not push forward when the time isn't right, or push for their own way, or get antsy about things yet to come, because they are naturally attuned to the rhythms of life. This is why, in fact, they become worthy of being followed.
* At the same time, a leader knows when to capitalize on a moment of enthusiasm and motion, in order to get people out of the mud, out of complacency, and out of a rigid or shallow way of thinking or behaving. The image of the lake here is also sometimes considered the image of a marsh, in which case thunder in the marsh generates motion and gladness, a willingness to follow from those who might be somewhat stuck or immobile.
* Thunder below/within the lake/marsh is also an image of the eldest son below the youngest daughter. The eldest son can be thought of as "yang," and the youngest daughter, "yin." The image is thus about the wisdom of the yang putting itself in service of the yin, or of leaders putting themselves in the service of those below them, or of the wealthy putting themselves in the service of those who have less.
* The hexagram is also a picture of cheerful obedience, of heeding the call or instruction, or of a message from on high coming and asking for sacrifice or action from us. We are told here to "follow" the guidance from above, and to know our place in relationship to people, teachers, elders, who may be in a superior position to us, somehow.
* Relating all of this back to Venus and Jupiter the correlation isn't so obvious. Most people don't know that traditionally Venus and Jupiter had a somewhat complex relationship. Whereas Jupiter was thought of as something like the high priest, Venus was though of as the layperson or the acolyte. Together, the two can represent a kind of union between image and substance, teaching and ceremony, belief and practice, but Venus was also frequently thought of as a somewhat troubling presence for Jupiter and Jupiter for Venus. For example, Venus approaching Jupiter is sometimes reference in relationship to someone or something trying to tempt Jupiter away from its values, usually something vain or superficial or lusty. On the other hand, we could think of Jupiter as potentially suppressing something vital, fresh, sensual, or lovely on account of its dogma and inflation.
* Venus and Jupiter coming together in the sign of Mars is thus related to all of the teachings of the 17th hexagram.
* When Venus and Jupiter come together in the right way, then what is above puts itself in service of what is below, the masculine in service of the feminine or the yang in service of the yin.
* When Venus and Jupiter come together, we come into contact with the higher message. Since Venus is in her exile, this message may come as a saving grace or in order to generate enthusiasm and movement out of a stuck position.
* When Venus and Jupiter come together, we are stirred to follow a calling, to make an agreement, to generate a following, or to make a sacrifice for the greater good.
* When Venus and Jupiter coming together we are not tempted into pushing for what we want or desire, we are content to follow the natural rhythms of life and trust that the eagerness we feel can be trusted to our patience.
* When Venus and Jupiter come together we are not tempted into a display of forcefulness or of manipulation. We are content to let things come or let them go. In this way an agreement is made, enthusiasm is found, and the right actions come naturally.
Prayer: Teach us to follow the waves of goodness.
The Sun is approaching a square to Pluto...
An I Ching lesson on the approach of the Sun into the t-square between Jupiter, Uranus, and Pluto.
* Hexagram 24 is often called "Return," and it depicts one yang line and five yin above it. Because the lines move from bottom to top, the hexagram is a picture of yang energy returning and climbing upward again.
* Hexagram 24 depicts the light returning after a period of darkness.
* My favorite translated, Alfred Huang writes of hexagram 24 that "This gua...displays the truth of changing. When things proceed to their extreme, they alternate to the opposite. Thus, after the period of falling away comes turning back. The light that has been banished returns. The change is not brought about by force, it accords with the law of Nature. The turning back arises spontaneously, like a bright spring returns after a severe winter."
* Within the 24th hexagram the fourth line reads, "Walking in the central path. Solitarily turning back. Following the right way."
* This line in particular depicts a person traveling with or being among corrupt people, bad influences, or mindless/thoughtless or ignorant masses. Along this path, the person finds his inner teacher, voice, or higher guidance, or he or she finds a wise and noble friend, someone that reminds them of what is right and what is true. The person therefore turns back from the road she is walking and returns alone.
* The line says nothing about whether or not this choice to leave the corrupt, sick, or bad influences will result in good or bad fortune, and most commentators say that one in this position cannot think about making deals, betting on a good outcome for a good conscience, or expecting anything at all from their decision to do the right thing. In fact, the only thing one can be sure of in t his position is that they will be vindicated on an inner level simply by doing the right thing. The rest is too early to tell, or it rests upon the attitude one takes as one returns to the right path, or the ability one has to maintain the spirit of return over a longer period of time.
* In the reading I did during my meditation this morning, hexagram 24 transformed into hexagram 30, called "brightness," or "the clinging."
* Hexagram 30 is made of the doubled trigrams, fire over fire. It is sometimes called "attaching," or "clinging together."
* Hexagram 30 depicts brightness attracting brightness, or brightness clinging to brightness.
* Hexagram 30 in this context is about the way that one person stepping forward or "returning to the right way," may attract others to cling to the brightness and follow suit. The sequence may depict influence and how moral conscience invites others to join together in a common bond of brightness.
* Hexagram 30 in this context is also about what feeds or fuels brightness after a return from darkness. Fire clings to wood. Huang writes, "When falling into darkness, one is certain to attach to something. Thus, after Darkness comes attaching to each other and to Brightness."
* There is a line in hexagram 30 that reads, "Raise a cow: good fortune." The line refers to good fortune resulting from being able to have submissive, yielding, docile, gentle, and willing people in your service. Huang writes that "The Duke of Zhou tells how different kinds of people were dealt with in different ways. The policy was to kill the leader and not his followers. In this there was no fault." Here, Huang is referring to the line about the raising of the cow, and he is suggesting that when large personal or governmental changes are being made and a return to proper principles is being sought that the transition back to light can be helped along by finding those elements or people who WERE serving the ignorance of a tyrant are now willing to "return" to proper principles or submit to the rightful/moral path or "ruler."
When I sat down this morning and consulted the I Ching I asked, "What does the Sun walking into the t-square signify, both for each of us personally and collectively?"
Prayer: May we return together, without thought of ultimate victory, one over another. May brightness attach to brightness.
The Moon is in Cancer today, applying to a square of Venus, and Venus is moving into an exact trine with Mars.
This morning during my meditation time I cast the I Ching and asked the question, "What is the meaning of this upcoming Mars retrograde? What can we all learn from it?"
The first hexagram received was #46, often called "Upward Mobility," or "Rising" or even "Promotion."
One translation of the decision reads: Pushing upward means successful progress. Have no anxiety about meeting with a great man. An advance to the south is fortunate.
The image is of wood slowly growing upward out of the earth.
Meditating with the riddles of the I Ching is always exciting. In this particular hexagram the general picture has to do with someone or something rising, growing upward, gaining momentum or power slowly but surely, and doing so by persisting in what is right and good. The instruction to meet with a great man, without fear, is the picture of someone asking for assistance, promotion, help, support, endorsement, confirmation, or encouragement. The successful turn to the south is a frequently repeated line in the I Ching that usually means something like, "going for it works out." I've read one translator suggest that in this particular hexagram the turn to the south indicates that the plant or wood is turning to the Sun and gaining its life giving support.
On a deeper level, I'm always struck by this hexagram's encouragement. To en-courage means to help build someone's courage. Sometimes this hexagram comes up when we're doing the right thing but we're not feeling confident about it. Other times this hexagram comes up as a confirmation that people above us, or people with more authority, will be willing to help or support our cause. At the same time this is a hexagram that is frequently an instruction to take the high road, or to persist in attempting to succeed in ethical or noble ways, rather than selfish ways. The turn to the wise person, or to the Sun in the south, is about succeeding in the right spirit.
All of these ideas are of course applicable for a Mars retrograde. Insofar as Mars retrograde periods might feature a sudden lack of confidence or the temptation to go after success in ruthless or divisive ways, this is a hexagram that simply instructs us to persist in going after our goals in ethical, courageous, and virtuous ways.
Upward mobility is also an image of gradual, steady growth, and insofar as retrogrades sometimes involve setbacks or delays, this hexagram tells us to persist in our course of action, so long as we stay humble along the way.
The changing line is the 5th line of the 46th hexagram and it reads: She ascends the steps with all good fortune. Due to her firm correctness, she is successful.
The second hexagram is #29, called dangerously deep. The image is of deep water or a perilous pit filled with water.
This sequence suggests a turn of events, where someone or something is moving toward success, due to being virtuous, modest, humble, patient, courageous, and persistent, but then falls unexpectedly into a very dangerous, tricky, or difficult situation.
The changing line indicates a good deal of success. It shows a person of good integrity ascending and succeeding specifically because of their good character. But then the individual is faced with a trial or a difficult challenge of some kind. Dangerously deep is one of those hexagrams that says something like, "Character is forged by how we respond to very difficult situations. Honesty above all is the way to take any impasse and move through it safely."
I've often gotten hexagram 29 when I'm in a politically or socially challenging situation, one that requires a combination of tact or diplomacy along with total transparency. Other times I've gotten hexagram 29 as a reminder that difficult times, or setbacks, are opportunities for the molding of our integrity.
One translator writes that hexagram 29 is a kind of "Guardian of the threshold" teaching. In video game terms it's like an end level boss.
This wisdom is also easily applied to our upcoming Mars retrograde period. Insofar as the Mars retrograde period might point toward a time of challenges and setbacks, even dangerous situations, these kinds of tests shape our integrity and eventually empower us just as much as, if not more than, the attainment of our goals or ambitions. Why? Because the strengthening of our integrity is the strengthening of our actualizing power (sometimes called our "Te" in the language of the I Ching).
Although Dangerously Deep may seem like a dark omen, it's actually very auspicious in this sequence. The overall message of these two hexagrams not only points toward promotion or success in the short run, but it also points toward a kind of test or trial period that is related to an even bigger level of success on the distant horizon. In other words, these are just the kinds of tests we run into when we're ready to take a big step forward in our spiritual maturity and worldly success at once. So just remember...whatever setbacks, delays, or difficulties we may encounter, especially those that feel like a rainstorm on our parade, how we respond to these challenges is perhaps part of an even bigger level of success we're moving toward, even if we can't quite see it yet.
Prayer: Teach us to see the opportunity for growth inherent within every difficulty, setback, or challenging situation. Especially those that come in the midst of our success.
The Moon is in Virgo this morning, void of course. Meanwhile the Sun is moving toward a conjunction with Neptune.
There is a hexagram from the I Ching that reminds me of the Sun/Neptune conjunction. Hexagram number three: difficulty at the beginning. As the third hexagram of the I Ching the traditional commentary points to the early stages of creation, where myriad beings come into form and there is a kind of orgy of creative chaos. The pictorial of the hexagram shows a plant struggling as it rises above the earth, and Confucius tells us to put things in order and stay vigilant before we relax.
Sometimes I've received this hexagram at an important moment where I feel like quitting or taking a big break or vacation amidst a lot of chaos or feeling overwhelmed by something. The reason this hexagram comes to mind for the Sun/Neptune conjunction is that the conjunction brings to mind the primal flood waters and the creative proliferation of the myriad beings the I Ching mentions. The Sun and Neptune bring to mind the orgy of creative chaos and imaginative power. These are times where it can be very easy to mistake letting go for giving up, or taking a break from the overwhelm of circumstances and finding ourselves deeper in the quagmire as a result.
The I Ching's advice is to remain vigilant, to delegate responsibilities, and to establish systems of order that can help to hold and generate meaningful order amidst the chaos.
The one thing I would add to this is that the idea of "order" isn't a shallow or simple idea in the I Ching. If the shape of the container is simply about protecting against or holding out the primal waters and power of creation, then we've built our homes on sand. If on the other hand the intelligence of the structure we use to hold and organize the primal creative chaos flows directly out of or in harmony with the Tao of heaven and earth, then our organizational structures are built on a solid foundation, and they prosper moving forward because they are sturdy enough to withstand the destructive force of creation while flexible enough to accommodate its intelligence.
In a sense, the ancient Chinese conception of a good society begins in this hexagram. There is the sense of a social permaculture at work in the way that order should ideally come from chaos at the beginning. Similarly in our own lives, when we are starting off in a new direction with something, we should examine our motives. Is this an attempt to block out or deny the primal creative power, in all of its overwhelming glory? Or is it an intelligent response to that power, a dialogue that creates order in direct relationship with the intelligence of what is emerging, so that the primal power might continue to circulate without flooding?
One of the lines in the same hexagram shows a hunter chasing game deeper and deeper into the forest without a guide. The line advises to give up before getting lost. This line also strikes me as resonant with the Sun/Neptune conjunction, which brings to mind the idea of spiritual guidance, angelic intervention, divinatory judgment, or the need for an experienced guide (Sun) through the oceanic labyrinths of psyche (Neptune). So by the Sun/Neptune conjunction not only can we bring forth intelligent order from amidst the overwhelm of creative chaos, but we can also listen for the voice of guidance...the one that leads us safely into and out of the dense forests of consciousness.
In my work with ayahuasca shamanism, I would compare both the Sun/Neptune conjunction and the third hexagram of the I Ching to the total overwhelm a person experiences when flooded by the primal powers of the psyche. It's important to keep breathing, to stay upright and centered, and it's also important not to lay down or check out (if possible!). From this vigilant presence (as the I Ching advises) order and guidance is found and we gradually find a path through some of the most intense chaos ever experienced. For me it mostly took the form of sticking with the Icaros, which are the spirit songs received by the shamans from the plants themselves. The Icaros are OF the forest and yet they guide and order and structure the experience of consciousness as we move through the same vast spiritual realms of the jungle....healing, teaching, and restoring order to the chaos of our own personal ecosystems.
Remember too that Neptune the literal physical planet is invisible to the naked eye but orbiting out there in deep space nonetheless. But as a symbol or archetypal construct, the tidal force of Neptune has always been with us and is, in a very "real" sense, beyond itself.
Prayer: Lord of the star fields, ancient of days, universe maker, here's a song in your praise! Wings of the storm cloud. Beginning and end. You make my heart leap, like a banner in the wind. Oh love that fires the sun, keep me burning. Lord of the star fields, sower of life, heaven and earth are, full of your light. Voice of the nova. Smile of the dew. All of our yearnings, only comes home to you. Oh love, that fires the sun, keep me burning!
(Lord of the Star Fields, by Bruce Cockburn)
The Moon is void of course in Sagittarius today. Meanwhile Venus is almost exactly conjoined with Pluto and the Sun is almost exactly square to Mars.
As the Sun and Mars approach their square the issues of oversight or condescension might be in the air right now. The Sun is an authority and Mars is an executive force. As a combination we might see things like orders, commands, oversight, and management coming to the forefront right now. Who is making the commands and who is doing the leading, organizing, or implementing of projects, tasks, and initiatives? When we resist taking instruction from someone who has our best interest in mind or we resist taking responsibility for the oversight of something that only we can properly manage, what exactly are we rebelling against? Why?
The Venus/Pluto conjunction might also signify deals being made or allegiances being created that will take us forward for the time being, but the fact that Pluto is involved, as well as the sign of Capricorn, indicates that there may be something we're not seeing or something selfish or too calculated or compromising about whatever it is that we're agreeing to or going forward with right now.
In the upcoming months, for example, Mars will go retrograde around the same time as Saturn and we might be seeing people back out of things they are committing to now, or we might see the delay or failure of various projects or commitments we're just now committing ourselves to for the foreseeable future.
Both of the transits currently perfecting also imply shock. Venus/Pluto might involve shock in our relationships, love life, sex life, marriages, or in terms of performance, art, and our recreational time. Venus/Pluto might involve the destruction of sacred objects or things that we love...and it may come as a shock. Similarly, the Sun and Mars might involve outbursts of violence, temper, self righteousness, issues with authority figures, public attacks or assaults on other's dignity, injury or accident, or sickness, fever, and inflammation.
Shock is almost always an opportunity for us to set our life in order. Shock is often about warning us or speaking to us in an undeniably clear language: you need to change something and get yourself together again. As the I Ching says, "The shock terrifies for a hundred miles, and he does not let fall the sacrificial spoon and chalice."
When shocking things are said or done or a shocking situation arises (either good or bad!), we might imagine that a cosmic teacher has entered the room and is now watching...will we spill out, flip out, react, lose our shit and drop the sacrificial cup? No sir! No way! This is our moment! At least this is what the I Ching teaches us. Shock comes to correct, to monitor, to test, and we may actually reap tremendous rewards in our lives when we learn to walk through shocking times with inner repose and carefulness...whether it's a windfall or an unexpected loss of some kind.
One last thing to mention is that both the theme of advancement, through strong but perhaps somewhat treacherous or unexpected allegiances, and shock or unexpected upheavals are possible through these two transits. Both transits may involve deals with the devil, or compromising on something questionable, or resigning ourselves to "live with something," as they simultaneously involve a certain amount of upheaval in the days ahead.
There is nobility, of course, in choosing to move forward in life despite the imperfectness of various arrangements or relationships. At the same time things can't go on forever when their essential nature is bad for us...and we might be getting some foreshadowing of the ending of something in particular that we can't go forward with under the banner of a "noble/sacrificial calling" for too long.
One last thing worth mentioning is that while these transits can be shocking they may not necessarily be shocking to us personally. Sometimes we see others around us going through a time of shock or upheaval. Nonetheless, the people around us who are going through some kind of shock or upheaval might be connected to us in ways that we're not fully conscious of...in which case it's important that we study our relationships, as well as our responses to others misfortunes, wild successes, or whatever else is taking place. The Mars/Sun combination, with Mars in a superior position from his rulership in Scorpio, might bring to mind the idea of advancing or succeeding because of someone else's misfortune, downfall, or through a manipulation or attack on someone else's position relative to our own.
Prayer: Show us the difference between a noble calling and something worth letting go of...show us how to move forward with things in the right way rather than putting a temporary bandage on something, and show us how to walk mindfully through the experience of unexpected shocks, both good and bad
The last quarter Moon is in Gemini today, applying to square Jupiter and Neptune while also making a trine to Mercury before squaring the Sun by this evening.
A day where both of the lights are pointing us toward Mercury. Meanwhile Mercury is in an applying sextile to stationing Venus in Leo (about to turn direct over the weekend).
Translation: Something is being summarized, finalized, integrated, revised, or finishing touches are being added to a process of some kind. We're making sure we've said everything that needs to be said, put everything in its right place, leveled or balanced the ledgers or the look of something, agreed or negotiated our way to the appropriate resolution, or even committed ourselves to the correct course of action after needing to make constant or small adjustments. Communication and technology issues might be at the forefront as Mercury prepares to go retrograde again later this month, and in the meantime Mercury is about to communicate something powerful, romantic, proud, confident, and beautiful. A statement or summary expressed in art or affection might be coming soon, or even a declaration of confidence and belief in something learned or gained over the past several months.
As Venus stations to turn direct, strength is returning to Venus governed matters..whether that's health, romance, personal confidence or pride...a sense of relief and transformed self esteem might be on its way after the long summer retrograde. If a transformation of lifestyle, finances, appearance, or aesthetic has been under way then expect to see the changes begin to integrate and become natural over the next month or so.
Also watch for an increasing awareness of how we speak or communicate with each other. The need for greater diplomacy, tact, kindness, sensitivity, poise, subtlety, and sophistication intellectually will be increasing during our upcoming retrograde period.
Remember that a lesson understood is not necessarily a lesson learned. A lesson learned takes time and repeated attempts at the implementation of our understanding, especially as we practice what we've learned in our relationships.
Prayer: While finishing, remember to move mindfully...the young fox who has not acquired caution may get his tail wet just before he finishes crossing over the river (I Ching #64)
The Moon is in Capricorn today, applying to square the nodal axis of the Moon as it gets into the mix of the Uranus/Pluto square.
A few ideas to consider as subtle bodies within today’s astrology…
* Knowing our greatness means knowing our location, our place, and the particular limitations we each have that also make us unique
* Knowing our potential also means learning to discriminate from far reaching visions of our greatness down into specific commitments or niches…
* Building and manifesting are sometimes junk words…what are we building specifically, and have we gone through the quiet nobility of the defeats that not only humble the ego but also give it a specific place with specific set boundaries to work within?
There is a quiet joy in limiting ourselves. Even when we feel like we have unlimited potential..the truth is usually that our potential doesn’t want to be unlimited…it very much wants to take its unique shape, and shapes by their very nature are limiting….limited. The radical idea of the moment is that limiting ourselves, refining our focus, and trusting this contraction deepens the force of our character. This is a different kind of victory.
As the IChing says, “Be like the sun at midday. Don’t mourn the inevitable descent.”
What makes the Sun at midday so great? The IChing teaches in this small text that the greatness of the Sun’s highest position contains within it the noble knowing of its own death. This is the black body within the light.
Words, phrases, and images to consider right now:
* Acknowledging limitations
* The Sun at midday, ready to decline
* A specific place, knowing it’s the right location
* A force of inner royalty/pride/power building stronger but also quieter
* Illusions crumbling but also leaving us with the realization of where we actually are, where we’re actually standing
* The quiet clarity of a more precise vision
Prayer: be like the sun at midday, don’t mourn the descent but shine brightly with the force of your quiet royalty, the quality of light that only death can see
Image by courtesy of Nuala, at creative commons image licensing
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Adam Elenbaas is a professional astrologer and the founder of the Nightlight Astrology School. Adam holds an MA and MFA in English and Creative Writing and is one of the founding writers at RealitySandwich. To learn more about Adam, click here.