Mercury is moving into a square with Neptune as it stations to turn retrograde this week.
Here's what to watch for:
* The 9th hexagram of the I Ching is sometimes translated as "Passive Restraint," or "Restraint of the Small."
* The image of the hexagram depicts clouds gathering in the west, and the winds of change stirring, but no rain coming.
* The teaching of the hexagram involves the idea that we are helpless before a bigger power that is gathering, or that we cannot force change prior to its appropriate time.
* The teaching of the hexagram also suggests a kind of gentle state of watchfulness, imaged as a sky-watcher, looking upward, seeing the gathering of some future momentum, high above, far removed.
* When ill omens appear in our lives, or when the signs of the times appear darkest, it is as though a powerful force is advancing. We are tempted to react. To take arms. To do something, and fast! And yet, hexagram 9 tells us it is at just this moment that the wisest become very gentle, passive, small, and calm.
* Our curiosity and our calmness are wordless statements: all power, all action, and all results are directed by something I can only pretend to understand.
* What does this moment want from me? How can my actions, my thoughts, and my response find its right place? How might I serve this divine force?
* These aren't grand gestures on the altar. They aren't proud statements read aloud, to be enforced, followed with the measuring sticks of spiritual progress, they are the wordless truths of the watcher. The one who sees the signs of the time, and with a confident soul, becomes small and gentle.
* Hexagram 9 is sometimes called "small nurturance," and it also has the connotation of a small child or a baby's innocence, a doe-like calmness paired with ready ears.
* Do not grope, push, or pull when you sense that change is near, when nearing completion, or else miss the real gift, which is never WHAT is given, but rather the manner in which it is given. Behind that manner, or within, and surrounding it, there is a halo of invisible light, which we can only see if we become small and we remain alert.
* The gift of this vision is the return to right relationship.
* The second line of the 9th hexagram reads, "He allows himself to be drawn into returning. Good fortune."
* We can so easily get lost in an eager or anxious response. But here, if we remain passively restrained, if we find that small nurturance, that modest listening and trust, we are saved from a false start, we are saved from rushing in.
* The darkness we see in the sky above, the world around, becomes an overpowering enemy when we allow it to send us into fight or flight mode. On the other hand, when we remain passive, gentle, and observant. When we stay caring and careful. Curious. Then the same accumulated power we see above is transferred to us within. We become the benefactors of a heavy grace, the inheritors of mysterious mercy.
* In this morning's reading, hexagram 9 changes into hexagram 52...the mountain...an image of stillness, silence, and inactivity.
* In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that the wise see action in inaction and inaction in action.
Prayer: May we be wise, curious, and child-like in the face of gathering clouds, dark omens, confusion, and uncertainty. May we remain cautious, small, and ready during times of great change. Remind us that we are waiting and watching for you, in all things, at all times, so that we might return to the only word of truth that unites us all when we see straight through the gathering storm clouds: Alleluia.
Mars is now moving into an engagement with Jupiter, which will perfect just as Mars moves into Pisces and over the same period of days in which Venus is stationing and turning direct and Mercury is also stationing and turning retrograde in Sagittarius, in a square to Neptune. Wow! It's an intriguing series of transits coming in the next 7 to 10 days as the Moon is also waxing and gaining strength!
What to watch for:
* Impassioned speech, ideas, rhetoric, debate
* Miscommunication and misperception
* Misdirection, cloaking, veiling, or concealing information
* Trying to overpower or stifle the opposition
* Excitement and enthusiasm that moves people to action
* Excitement and enthusiasm unchecked by reason
* Trying to manipulate people's emotions for the sake of a political, social, or financial agenda
* Crusading, visionary, fired up
* The truth, and attempts to avoid it
* Otherworldly communication, altered states of consciousness
* Messages in dreams, omens, myths, metaphors, and symbolic thinking
* * Big risks, big muscle, inflated Mars machismo
* Religious and spiritual inspiration
* Prophets and prophecy
* Magicians, tricksters, and sorcery
* Persuasive speech and the manipulation of people's fears, dreams, hopes, or wishes for the sake of personal gain
* Teachers that inspire and the shadows of teachers
* A call to put beliefs into action
* Self-sacrifice OR the temptation of self-sacrifice as an ego-gratifying exercise
* Giving and supporting something through strength, passion, vigor, and emotional excitement
With Venus turning direct, we are about to turn a corner and start moving forward again, especially in our relationships, and yet with Venus poised to make one final opposition to Uranus at the end of the month, and then another long sojourn through Scorpio to close out the year, and with a long Mercury retrograde to come (toned by the square to Neptune), the pretty picture we're painting in our heads right now could easily be disrupted and challenged in the weeks ahead. Whatever the temptation may be to reinterpret the facts more favorably, or to tell ourselves the stories we prefer to hear, our real motives will not be hidden from sight forever.
On the other hand, where there are open minds and open hearts, along with sincere enthusiasm, and the willingness to seek higher guidance and truth, opportunities for great service and collaboration, especially through the mind, communication, technology, ideas, learning, and writing, is coming!
Right when we are on the brink of a breakthrough, however, we have to be on guard against the temptation of backsliding or taking an easy way out from the work ahead of us...
Prayer: Help us to seek higher association. Help us to find our real allies, and give us real enthusiasm, the kind that serves rather than seeks only for itself.
Mars and Jupiter are slowly coming together in the sky right now, plus Mercury is still separating from its square to Neptune. Venus has also just entered Capricorn and is just separating from Saturn and combust the Sun. It's also first quarter Moon today.
Here is what to watch for, and stay tuned for a video blog this week on the astrology of 2018!
* Mars and Jupiter coming together reflect a period of invigoration, militarism, aggression, fear-facing, courage, emotional confrontation, athleticism, exaggeration, hubris, evangelical fervor, and the empowerment of Jupiterian figures with Mars-like vigor.
* Mercury separating from a square to Neptune is reflecting mental fog or confusion, the desire to alter your state, receiving clear messages from beyond, animal omens, secrets and gossip, deception and lies, technology and travel, philosophical truth vs philosophical speculation, debates about beliefs or truth, objective reasoning vs subjective reasoning, speaking the truth vs hiding the truth behind niceties, etc.
* Venus in Capricorn conjunct Saturn and combust the Sun is an old Venus, facing difficult truths in relationships, or perhaps growing older and wiser and more realistic, an older woman or goddess, the crone, women and generational changes, the death of the goddess, a restart on some aspect of diet or lifestyle, women in the workplace, or new foundations in love or friendship. More on this later this via video-blog!
* First quarter Moon today suggests a critical turning point, a moment of initiation, individuation, separation, and decisiveness. If you feel inspired to put ideas into action, or to take concrete steps toward concrete goals, these impulses are in line with today's Aries/Capricorn Moon/Sun dynamic.
Last but not least, we have just 5 days remaining in my annual kickstarter. It's our goal to raise $5,000 more dollars before new year's day. This last goal will almost guarantee that all of our community projects will be funded in 2017, in addition to this column itself being supported! Anything and everything helps!
Prayer: Renew our hearts and prepare our minds for a new year. Thank you...for everything.
Mercury is direct now, but still in a close square to Neptune.
Advice from the stars...
* Declare it but make sure it's true before you do
* State the obvious, and then laugh like Santa
* Don't drink too much, this one will make you put your foot in your mouth
* You think you're whispering, but everyone can hear
* Believe it
* Pay attention to your dreams
* Inspire others, be inspired by others
* Don't worry, if you're experiencing a little brain fog, or if your tongue is a little tied, it will pass
* Don't worry, if you're flowing like a poet, it will pass :)
* Be careful to think through what you say before you say it
* Or just say it and then watch as good luck and magic powder starts sprinkling from the sky
* Don't get into any religious or spiritual debates right now if you can help it
* Be careful that you don't get roped into someone else's drama or that you aren't being used for the sake of someone else's ideological or philosophical point of view
* Don't rope others into your own
* Be honest but tactful, be tactful but honest
* Make sure you actually practice and walk whatever it is that you're so ready to talk about
* Make sure that you listen as much as you speak
* Make sure you really understand what's being said
* Alter your state, but be careful not to confuse it with enlightenment, you will return to your body again
* Pay attention to signs and omens
* Be careful of secrets and gossip right now
* Persuade and be persuaded, but make sure you're respecting boundaries
**Just 7 days left for my annual fundraiser. Pick up a last minute Christmas or New Year gift and receive a year-ahead tarot, astrology, or I Ching reading. I thank you all for the support! Click here.**
Prayer: Though we are many, and though we are so diverse, let us be of one mind and one heart, so that we may bring peace and love to the world.
Mercury is square to Neptune in the sky right now, dead stopped, but will turn direct tonight.
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.
Mercury is stationing today and will turn direct on Saturday night. As it is stationing, Mercury is in a close square with Neptune.
Here's what to watch for:
* Secret meetings or messages
* Fantasies creating blurry boundaries
* Messages from the other side
* Endorsements or support from on high
* Charismatic speech and communication
* Dreams and their meanings
* Omens and synchronicity
* Meltdowns, liquid, and technology
* Not being able to speak or think clearly
* Meditation, trance, and hypnotism
* The holiday spirit, singing, and magic
* A delay or standstill
* Negotiations and deception
* Finally coming to terms with something
* Writers, movies, and pitching a vision
* Devotion, devotional music
* The desire to alter your mind/state
* Emotional/communicative manipulation or distortion
* Important announcement
* Passionate rhetoric
* The truth vs personal feelings
* A turnabout or change of position or stance
These Mercury/Neptune qualities will be with us right through Christmas, so keep your eyes open!
Meanwhile, I am just 32 backers shy of my yearly goal with just nine days left to go on my Kickstarter. Help me get there and donate whatever you can to support this column in 2018!
Prayer: Help us to know the difference between truth and fantasy, but also show us the wonder, magic, and imagination of the real.
Happy New Moon in Gemini everyone! This morning the Sun, Moon, and Mars are triple conjoined in late Gemini to start our new moon cycle. Meanwhile, Mercury is going forward again, slowly but surely, and will soon make it's final square to Neptune in Pisces (there have been two squares already in Mercury's recent cycle). Jupiter and Uranus are now exactly trine to one another and Saturn has moved backward into Scorpio for one last season.
What to watch for:
* Victory, growth, progress, individuation, awakening, and expansion (Jupiter trine Uranus)
* Exuberance, optimism, egoism, luck, daring, bravado, soaring accomplishments or smooth success (Jupiter trine Uranus)
* Mindfulness in communication, speech, and thought (New Moon/Mars in Gemini)
* Deception, illusion, being taken advantage of or being taken advantage of (Mercury square Neptune)
* Not seeing things clearly, the sense that we aren't out of the woods yet with something, more to come, clarification needed (Mercury square Neptune)
* Revisiting something from the past, digging deeply into the unconscious, facing fears, psychological revelations, purging, transforming, working to understand hard limits and difficult truths, maturing through or into (Saturn retrograde into Scorpio)
* Trying to start something new but having trouble at the beginning...hiccups, setbacks, having to go back into something, vacillating, trouble negotiating, failures or breakdowns in communication, disagreements, and irrational thinking (Mars/New Moon in Gemini with Mercury square Neptune)
* Omens, signs, augury, divination, symbolic thinking, decoding, translating, explaining, and teaching (4 planets in Gemini with Mercury square Neptune)
Right now the new life of our new moon cycle is gestating. The themes of this cycle will likely have to do with communication, honesty, clarity, attention to details, used or being used, a new way of thinking or processing information, and the continued implementation of philosophical changes that have been taking place for a few moon cycles now. As the Sun and Mars enter Cancer and we pass through the Summer Solstice we're going to finally watch a momentum shift take place. A long period of waiting and watching something develop, something that's been in process since the late winter/early spring, will start to take shape more rapidly. By first quarter moon and summer solstice next week we should really be feeling the shift of season. Many things will become clear that have otherwise remained somewhat ambiguous, nebulous, or wishy washy. Until then we need to continue the process of modest adaptability and open mindedness. It's taking us somewhere...one step at a time.
Prayer: One step at a time..a longer process of gestation is coming to a close, a new phase of rapid development is about to begin. Thank you for these lessons in mindfulness.
The Moon is void of course today, in late Sagittarius and will later enter Capricorn.
As Mercury is reaching its station it will be slowing down again, which means delays, setbacks, deep introspection, road blocks, misinformation, unforeseen changes, glitches in the matrix, and revisions to our thinking will be on the menu for the rest of our Moon cycle until Mercury turns direct and picks up speed and the Moon starts waxing again. It's a time to slow down, notice the details, ask the right questions, say no to the things that are no longer possibilities, or get to the bottom of something one smart question at a time.
With three planets in Gemini right now the mind is entertaining all different kinds of options and new directions. We might be thinking of a million different things at once, or we might find ourselves in too many conversations, negotiations, collaborations, gossip sessions, chat forums, or to do lists simultaneously. Furthermore, with Mars slowly getting swallowed by the Sun, we might feel as though our will power is being thwarted, our energy levels are dropping, the direction we want to move in isn't opening up as rapidly as we'd hoped for, or our actions are falling flat somehow.
Meanwhile, the influence of Neptune is like a vague whisper...."something is happening that you have no control over, that you can't yet understand, that is part of a divine plan."
Or perhaps Neptune is hinting..."Let go...what will happen next is beyond your ability to rationalize about or consciously choose."
Or even, "Surrender your mind. So many possibilities. So little time. So much clarity comes when you simply silence your mind, silence your ambitions, and come what may."
If we push too hard and ignore this quiet, dissolving presence then we're prone to feeling very frustrated and mentally or intellectually exhausted right now. We say too much too quickly even when we've hardly said anything at all.
Finally, as the Moon leaves Sagittarius and enters Capricorn we're going to enter a several day period of rapid maturing. Bottom lines, non-negotiables, limitations, and simply "dealing with things as they are," will color our moods and environments.
Prayer: Gestation is the art of forgetting what we're waiting for until its arrived and surprised us by what its brought with it
image courtesy of creative commons: https://www.flickr.com/photos/karola/
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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.