The Moon is in Aries today, and Mars is retrograde in Scorpio.
During my morning meditation I sat again with the 40th hexagram of the I Ching, called "liberation," and thought about the return of Mars to its home sign through its retrograde motion. The 40th hexagram of the I Ching has to do with eliminating obstacles, finishing things that need completing, or untangling things that have somehow gotten knotted up. The image of the hexagram shows a thunderstorm clearing the air of a heaviness that has been built up, and the Confucian commentary reads, "Through movement there is an escape from Peril."
This hexagram has come to me twice now as an entirely appropriate omen for the meaning of Mars retrograding back into the sign of its rulership. One of the traditional words associated with Mars was the word "action," which is associated with the idea of cause and effect, or what we might loosely call "karma." In other words, Mars is a planet that has a lot to do with the actions we take as well as the repercussions they have in the world...their effectiveness for good or ill. When Mars walks backward into the sign of his rulership, we might see the results of various actions we took in the past manifesting in unexpected or unintended ways. Why? Because the retrograde might signify the need to revisit our decision making process, or, as the 40th hexagram states, we may need to untangle, unblock, or clear some obstacles that our past actions have put in front of us (likely ones that we thought we were making from a very strong place in the past). Mars retrograding back into Scorpio may indicate an air clearing thunderstorm or the untangling of this knot we have made for ourselves. As the month of June rolls on and Mars eventually stations and returns to its direct movement, we should see this process of obstacle removal finally completing itself, and hence the title of the 40th hexagram, "liberation," accomplished.
Additionally, the 40th hexagram of the I Ching speaks to pardoning others and dealing gently with mistakes. It's as though Mars retrograde into Scorpio may also signify things coming to the surface that are difficult, embarrassing, or humbling. A few weeks ago I wrote about this same hexagram and talked about how a sudden downpour can trigger us to release deeply held fears, griefs, secrets, or lies. The appropriate response to these downpours according to the 40th hexagram, is gentle acceptance and forgiveness. This is part of what it means to clear the air, and this might be part of what we each need to embody during the finale of our Mars retrograde.
Prayer: Help us to clear the air if it needs clearing, help us to untangle the knots of our past actions if they need untangling, and help us to gently pardon each other if we need pardoning.
Mars has finally retrograded out of Sagittarius and is now in the late degrees of Scorpio, its home home sign. The Moon is also in Aquarius today, moving toward a square with Mars.
Here are a few things to watch for:
* By going back to something from the past we find ourselves empowered
* Something from the past has tremendous power over us
* Revising or revisiting something has significant consequences
* Scrutinizing or carefully cutting something apart or slicing through illusions we find the truth of the matter
* We're worried about the long term ramifications of something that has just recently happened or something that happened in the past whose consequences are now bearing fruit
* Conflicting ideas or philosophical points of view or opposed groups are starting to revisit their conflicts
* Concerns about health and physical vitality are being addressed or confronted
It's interesting to note that as Mars retrogrades farther back into Scorpio, Mercury is applying to an opposition with Mars while Venus will be finally conjoining the Sun and then slowly emerging into her new cycle. One thing this signifies is the idea of the intensification and simultaneous dispersion or releasing of different kinds of relational conflicts. Added to this, Venus in Gemini's rebirth may actually marry together two or more people or points of view that simply couldn't have worked before this critical turning point.
Before this can happen, the Sun and Venus have to pass through the opposition to Saturn and the Mercury/Mars opposition has to intensify, and that likely means that certain key oppositions or challenges will manifest before the harmony can be accomplished.
Prayer: Help us to remember the big picture as we confront our differences in the month ahead.
Why I Love Astrology:
I find myself in the middle of an incredibly difficult day yesterday. My cheeks are hot, my head is hot, my brain is hot, my daughter is screaming, my wife is sick, and to make matters worse hot oil has just exploded off a frying pan onto my arm and there are small little blisters already forming here and there like pissed off chicken pox. Things couldn't feel worse. A red cardinal is still knocking at my window, and I'm thinking, "Come on already, die! Whoever is going to die, just get on with it. Or if you're a spirit, just tell me who you are and why you're here. I don't have time for your incessant tap, tap, tapping at my window all day long. You've been doing this for a week!"
Then suddenly I catch myself. My gaze is drawn upward. It's the middle of the day, and the only thing literally above me is the ceiling fan, but I can see the black robes of night and a single red star: Ares. The god of war is holding a hot, iron spear. Then I see the spear thrust into a bed of hot coals. Then it emerges and its glowing. Then I see Mars moving backward through the sky, retrograde.
I sigh in relief. Because even though everything in the world is on fire, I can see God, through one of his divine emissaries, the warrior, standing right there in my kitchen, rising out of my arm like red hot hallelujahs. I can see God, the cardinal spike of spring, tapping at my window like a fierce red soldier. I can see God speaking through my daughter's tears, like a fiery river of tongues. I can see God, coughing out amber alert viruses and sicknesses of all kinds onto earth, but also standing in as the fever of purification.
I realize I'm still staring at the ceiling fan. I laugh out loud, and for a cardinal fast moment I could swear I hear Mars whisper to me, "Think not that I came to bring peace into the land, I came not to introduce peace, but a sword."
Yes, I think to myself. That too. And as I swab my arm with some aloe I say "Amen. Thank you for teaching me the language of your heavenly realms. Thank you for the peace that passes understanding."
The New Moon is in Taurus today, along with Venus and Mercury. Meanwhile Jupiter and Pluto are closely aligned, creating a grand earth trine. What does this mean?
Given the simultaneous fire and intensity of Mars and Saturn retrograde in Sagittarius, today's new moon has the feeling of an important genesis moment amidst an ongoing wild fire of destruction. For example, think of the new foundations being established by thousands of people who are fleeing the fires in Canada right now. Or think of the flood victims in the deep south. These collective images are also metaphors. Something is being refined. Impurities are being burnt away, but differences and divisions are also being amplified as refinement inevitably leads to essential and basic differences that are more resistant than ever to being unified. The feeling of a holy war or a growing spiritual malignancy is in the air right now, and yet today's new moon offers an olive branch. Set a new foundation. Start fresh. There is support available right now, and it's as simple as making small changes and sticking with them, starting today.
In my morning meditation I meditated on the agitating presence of Mars and Saturn in Sagittarius. These two planets act like a goad...a hot spike that can either propel us into the rapid refinement of our spiritual work, offering focus, purification, and discipline, or injure us due to overzealousness and anger or idleness and apathy.
As I meditated on these two planets amidst this Venusian themed new moon, I was also led to study several passages in the Bible. First I revisited a story about Saul from the 1st book of Samuel. As the story goes, Saul is being tormented by an evil spirit. The evil spirit is said to have been ordained by God to torture Saul, or it is implied that the spirit is under the command of God. Saul then sends for a young man named David to come into his court and play his harp for him so that the spirit might be soothed into submission.
The story is a foreshadowing of the fact that Saul is unfit to be King and will soon be losing his throne to David. The angry spirit is a reflection of Saul's inability to lead wisely, and David's harp playing is a symbol of the way in which the power of peace subdues the power of anger. The role of the "King" is undergoing a transformation in this important passage, from angry monarchical control hungry tyrant, who rules from fear and jealous power, to one whose power flows from peace, wisdom, and gentleness. In fact, this is really the first passage that foreshadows the coming of Jesus, a prophesied King (from the line of David), who was actually called a "prince of peace" rather than a King at all. Why this distinction? Because the only real King is God, from whom all blessings, goodness, and peace flow eternally. This is a big deal because it turns the notion of monarchical power on its head.
After this, I turned to the book of Ezra and re-read an important passage where the Jewish people are rebuilding the temple after the Babylonian exile. When the foundation of the temple is laid there is an enormous riot of both weeping, praising, and laughter that is described as one voice.
Finally I turned to the last chapter of 2nd Thessalonians, to a warning against idleness. In one particular line the apostle Paul writes, "We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busy bodies." He goes on to urge people to work for their own food, so as not to be lazy or reliant upon the corruption of the world or the market place.
As usual, keep in mind that I am studying the bible from an ecumenical and universalist's mindset. From this perspective, I see within these passages several archetypal themes that pertain to our new moon today.
* Real power comes from peace
* Even the most destructive things we are faced with, whether they be inner demons, wild fires, floods, or the evil in the world, can be seen or understood as operating within the jurisdiction of divinity
* The best way to subdue the intensity or the "rulership" of destructive forces is to stay firmly but flexibly rooted in peace, love, and compassion
* Music helps to calm malefic spirits
* Rebuilding something or setting an important new foundation often involves both laughter and weeping, both joy and deep sorrow
* When faced with so much destruction, chaos, and overwhelm, it's easy to become idle, lazy, or apathetic, but our liberation is likened to growing our own food. Our will is best applied to the work of receiving what is always being freely given. This work also naturally feeds others.
Prayer: Comfort our spirits with the music of your love. Help us to establish powerful new foundations, rooted in your peace. Teach us how to receive what you give freely, so that we might give freely to others.
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.
Happy New Moon in Aries Everyone!
Today's new moon features a conjunction between the Sun/Moon and Uranus in the sign of Aries. The word of the day is "revolutionize." The color of the day is red. The number of the day is 1.
Because a new Moon in the sign of the Ram, sign of the Sun's exaltation, with the rabble rousing planet Uranus, signifies a bold new beginning. An act of courage, power, aggression, competition, or dominance. A decision to leave something behind for good and start off on in a new direction, blazing a new trail. A remaking or rewriting of the circumstances that we have some control over. These are the kinds of things we should look for as the new moon cycle begins.
Additionally we should expect the unexpected. Uranus is electrifying, shocking, and unpredictable. Uranus inspires change or invention where we least expect it.
Here are a list of additional themes to watch for:
* A sudden eruption of defiance
* A sudden declaration of truth
* Suddenly changing course or direction
* Liberating ourselves from something that is old or outworn
* Taking a stand, getting more aggressive
* Needing freedom, independence, and autonomy
* Awakening, liberating insights, and important revelations
* Reactionary, temperamental, hostile, competitive exchanges
CNN Headline of the Morning: "A Backlash of Belief: Why Religious Freedom Bills Are Springing Up All Around the Country"
* Propaganda meant to incite, inspire, or persuade
* New rhetoric, new arguments, new strategies
* The realization that something cannot wait any longer, cannot be put on hold for one more day
* The freshness of spring, the momentum of new life, a new chapter
* Feeling empowered, brave, strong, courageous
* An unexpected jolt, shock, disruption, or turn of events that illuminates and clarifies the truth of the matter or the direction one should take moving forward
It's also important to remember that the ruler of this exciting new moon conjunction is Mars, who is nearly dead stopped in the sky right now, about to turn retrograde. So while all the themes above might sound pretty sexy, Mars is intensifying these experiences and adding an element of mayhem to the mix.
Mars about to turn retrograde may add in the following themes:
* Futility or frustration
* Impatience or anger
* The extremes of violence or impotence
* Losing steam and power or gaining tremendous momentum
* Lashing out or giving up
* Backtracking after overstating
* A strong intention ends up working against you
* Bullying or intimidation
* Aggression that undermines a noble position
* Carelessness or recklessness
* Learning how to control one's anger or energy
* Learning how to be effective without an outward display of force
So keep in mind that though this new moon signifies a kind of upstart or exciting new chapter, it also features the lessons or learning of a soon to be retrograde Mars.
Prayer: Inspire within us the courage to move forward where we know we must, the patience to make changes mindfully, and the peace to use power kindly.
For today's horoscope let's take another look at the upcoming Mars' retrograde.
During my prayer and meditation time this morning I revisited the very short but powerful book of Jonah from the Old Testament. To recap the story, Jonah is commissioned by God to prophesy and preach to a city filled with immorality. But instead of following the commission Jonah runs away and boards a ship. While he's on the ship a big storm comes and while everyone is throwing things overboard to lighten the load, Jonah goes below the deck to sleep (again hiding). Interestingly the men on the ship cast lots to determine which among them brought the storm. The lots reveal that it was Jonah, so the men confront Jonah and he admits that it's his fault the storm has come upon them. He then suggests in a defeatist manner, despite the men suggesting he pray to God and make things right, that they simply throw him into the sea and let him die. The men reject Jonah's defeatist line of reasoning and try their hardest to row to shore, but the storm gets worse and finally they throw Jonah overboard, pleading to God as they do, "Please don't punish us for this man's issues with you."
Then, as the story goes, Jonah is swallowed by a great fish and is held inside the belly of the fish for three days and three nights (a sacred number sequence related to death and rebirth). During his time in the fish, Jonah finally prays and sorts things out with God, promising he will no longer run from God's calling, at which point the giant fish vomits him onto dry land. Without hesitation, Jonah then goes straight to the city and prophesies to the people there about changing their ways. The people are receptive to the power of Jonah's message and God takes mercy on the city and decides not to act on the warnings Jonah had given them. And here is where the story gets really interesting. Jonah actually gets mad at God for showing compassion! He gets mad that he will not fulfill the prophecy of destruction on the city and so he takes off angry and moping. He literally camps outside of the city, watching to see what will happen, in a kind of callow impatience.
While he is sitting there in the heat of the Sun, God sends a vine to grow and shade his head. Jonah is of course very happy with the vine, but then the next day God sends a worm to eat the vine and then a hot wind on Jonah's face. Jonah once again says, "just kill me." And God replies, "Do you have any right to be made about the vine?" Jonah insists, "I DO! I'm angry enough to die about it." The book ends with God saying, "You have been so concerned with this vine though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. Yet the city I sent you to has 120,000 people who cannot find their right hand from their left, and many livestock as well. Should I not care about them too?"
So what does this story have to do with our current astrology? Well, if there is one phrase I've found suitable for retrogrades it's the phrase I grew up hearing in church over and over again, "Not my will but thine." Another way of putting it is, "surrendering to whatever the outcome might be."
This Mars retrograde has the feeling of that same kind of holy commission that Jonah received. Whether we're canvassing neighborhoods for a political candidate, arguing for our philosophical or religious point of view, or taking on an exciting new project, Mars in Sagittarius speaks to the idea of a holy quest, mission, or crusade. And this mission is all the more important right now, as signaled by the co-presence of Saturn in Sagittarius, the square from Jupiter in Virgo, the Sun exalted in Mars' home sign of Aries, with Mercury and Uranus in Aries, and the fixed star Antares (a red mars like star) sandwiched between Mars and Saturn. The celestial headline reads something like, "GO GET IT!" And the simple point is that the story of Jonah offers us a few simple guidelines for working with this energy intelligently.
One--you cant run or hide from a sacred calling or mission. So don't try because even if it's scary it tends to be harder if you deny the calling of your heart and soul than if you simply go for it.
Two--once you take up the calling or mission, you can't be too attached to the results, and you can't let yourself be bitter or angry if the vision doesn't play out exactly as you want it to.
So for example, if you're struggling with inaction, passivity, fear, or anxiety, "I don't want to do that it's going to be too hard," then you might need to step up and have more courage and faith. You can do this! Now go get it!
On the other hand, if you're going after something so hard core that you've forgotten your allegiance to the author of all outcomes, to the divine power that placed the motivation and drive in your heart in the first place, then stop and check yourself. Is this about you, or is this about aligning your will with something bigger?
We don't have to be Christians, or even fans of the Bible, to get something good out of the story of Jonah. Callow impatience for results, callow resistance to taking action...either are immature extremes that speak to an inability to humble ourselves before the divine at the exact time when the divine calls to to participate in something special, something whose final outcome is almost never as important as the call and response itself.
Prayer: Make us instruments of your peace, love, and purposefulness in creation.
Let's take a deeper look at Mars' retrograde today.
Currently Mars is just 18 days away from turning retrograde in the sign of Sagittarius. Meanwhile Saturn has also turned retrograde in Sagittarius, and sitting sandwiched between Mars and Saturn is the heart of the Scorpion star, Antares. This line up emphasizes the more extreme, Mars like qualities in the upcoming weeks. Saturn being incredibly slow right now and right there in the mix doesn't exactly lighten the load either. So what should we look for and how should we respond to or work with these celestial omens?
* The tendency to overreact
* Hostile, inflammatory responses
* Going to "war" about something, everything
* Fighting for beliefs, ideals, convictions
* Philosophical, religious, political, cultural extremes
* Principles before people
* Bullying, intractable people
* Inflammation, heat, fire
* Cutting/weapons/explosions/containment of heat or fire
* Temper, mood swings, flying off the handle
* Militarism, resistance to authority, corrupt authority figures
* Overstating, overreaching, aggrandizing, pride before a fall
* Being stung or shocked or surprised by something sharp, attacking, aggressive, or malicious
* Fighting a good fight, demonstrating courage, sticking to our principles, staying disciplined, focused, committed
* Learning to control or harness anger, internalizing principles rather than expressing them forcibly or outwardly
These are just a few archetypal themes that come to mind, but we will add others and meditate on specific themes as the transit intensifies.
During my meditation time this morning I took some time to re-read several passages from Thich Nhat Hanh's book "Anger." In one of the opening passages he wrtes, "Not only do we nourish our anger with edible food, but also through what we consume with our eyes, ears, and consciousness. The consumption of cultural items is also linked to anger. Therefore, developing a strategy for consuming is very important." He shortly goes on to say "You need to sustain your mindfulness for a certain amount of time in order for the flower of anger to open herself. It's like when you cook potatoes; you put the potatoes in the pot, cover it, and put it on the fire. But even with a very high flame, if you turn the fire off after five minutes, the potatoes will not be cooked. You have to keep the fire burning for at least fifteen or twenty minutes in order for the potatoes to cook. After that, you open the lid, and you smell the wonderful potatoes. Your anger is like that--it needs to be cooked. At the beginning it is raw. You cannot eat raw potatoes. Your anger is very difficult to enjoy, but if you know how to take care of it, to cook it, then the negative energy of your anger will become the positive energy of understanding and compassion."
During this transit, I am envisioning all of the emphasis on Mars and the element of fire as the anger. I'm envisioning Saturn and the stations and retrogrades of the planets as the potato pot holding and cooking the anger, turning it into the flower of compassion. As a new father, Hanh strikes a chord with me when he says, "Embrace your anger with a lot of tenderness. Your anger is not your enemy; your anger is your baby...You accept your anger because you know you can take care of it; you can transform it into positive energy."
Prayer: Help us to cool the flames of our anger with the container of mindfulness, prayer, and peace. Help us to turn our anger into concentrated compassion.
For more excellent coverage on these themes and for a deeper conversation on the subject of Mars retrogrades in general, check out Chris Brennan's recent podcast talk with Austin Coppock and Nick Dagan Best. These fellas were the ones who brought it to my attention that the fixed star Antares is featured in this upcoming retrograde, and the rest of their conversation is very good for those of you looking for a meaningful talk on the subject! The link is below!
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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.