Fuel in the Fire

Philosophers have long explored the human struggle between right and wrong. The venerated book, the Tao Te Ching, includes a quote by Chinese sage Lao Tzu; “Without darkness, there can be no light.” Since the species first crawled out of our ancient caves, we’ve been trying to make sense of good and bad, happiness and pain. We’ve developed incredible stories of punishing and rewarding gods, all judging us for living along some sort of moral guidelines.

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Today the Sun shifted into airy Gemini, the same sign as Mercury is in, moving retrograde and making things a little erratic and strange. Typically the solar move into Gemini comes with a social lightness, a feeling of movement and inquisitiveness where the heaviness of normal reality is a little more interesting because our curiosity is a piqued by new contacts and new possibilities. But Mercury, the ruler of Gemini, isn’t communicating clearly. When Mercury goes retrograde, we have to slow down and rethink things. We have to take extra time to do things correctly because often the details are not quite right. Traffic, communication breakdowns, misunderstandings… all force us to redo what we tried to do the first time.

But there’s more on our astrological plates right now, and it isn’t just Mercury retrograde (which continues until June 11). Venus is passing through self-protective Cancer, and is getting a bit worked up by some larger outer planetary energies. Venus opposed mythic Lord of the Underworld Pluto today, and will square destabilizing Uranus on Monday. Venus in Cancer is a domestic sweetheart, urging us to tend to our need for comfort and security. During this transit of maternal and cautious Cancer, Venus can help us value those little personal things that make our lives more enjoyable– people, pets, places, foods. But there’s also a potential for some touchiness, like we want to remain private and secure in our little bubble. And Pluto and Uranus are not going to let that happen.

Pluto and Uranus shake us out of our comfort zone because otherwise we would remain stagnant. That’s where the so-called “darkness” comes in. Often the things that propel us to make change, to move forward, to stop the cycle– are not warm and fuzzy. It may be an extreme loss or failure that forces us out of a routine, but it can also be as small as a frustration with someone we trusted. And all of a sudden we see ourselves differently. The world is unfamiliar. It may seem like a negative thing hit us, but that’s because we’re human beings and we seek the familiar and the safe. And life is not always that way. We are human, and we get angry. We sulk, we say mean things, we lie, cheat, and steal. And we are not monsters. But it’s part of us.

So this next week or so, while defensiveness and vulnerability issues may surface in somewhat unexpected ways, try to remember that there is nothing constant except change. And denying the darkness in ourselves or others only leads to isolation and blame. Nothing is black and white, and the darkness (regardless of how minimal or vast) never lasts forever. The message of this astrology is to release past emotional entanglements, things that hold us back in patterns of history and family tradition. We can use this to expand our view of the brilliant light ahead.



Reading Between the Lines

Subjective thinking seems to be the planetary theme as Mercury and Neptune begin a dance that will quietly influence the next six weeks. Sensitivity is a blessing of this astrological transit, as our mental boundaries are loosened and minds begin to softly open. The challenge lies in maintaining rational ground when swept along in any chaos or confusion.

Mercury is a symbol of movement or exchange. That’s why it is called the planet of communication– it represents the exchange of information. Mercury rules talk, thought, transportation, sibling relationships, short distance travel, the media. Under this umbrella of key words that Mercury “rules”, you can see that the basic character of Mercury, and its home sign Gemini, involves a flow of energy (words, people, technology) bouncing back and forth, a give-and-take between two points.

Mercury is moving forward right now through Gemini, and will form the first of three exact squares to Neptune this Saturday afternoon. This will repeat on May 29 and June 23, as Mercury retrogrades and turns direct again, so it’s a lingering aspect that may cause some subtle but strange waves.

When Neptune contacts another planet, it’s as if the directness of that planet is filtered or diffused a little. Neptune is a hazy fog of spirituality and creativity. It correlates with the mystical and poetic artistic imagination that spurred ancient people to create mythologies and religions. Neptune involves the human desire to find meaning and a connection to whatever god exists. Taken to another extreme, Neptune also relates to escaping through alcohol and entertainment– anything to get into that fuzzy realm of hope and inspiration.

So there’s a good chance that things may get a bit weird surrounding communication as we head through May and June. There is never anything inherently negative about any astrological transit, and this is no exception. The point is to be aware of it and patient when things go haywire. Information can be misinterpreted on regular days, and now we have Mercury getting wrapped up in a game with Neptune. The line between fact and opinion can be blurred, and wishful thinking and compulsively avoiding reality are natural tendencies. There’s also the risk of getting overly wrapped up in melodrama or gossip. Mercury is in Gemini, Neptune in Pisces– both are mutable signs that like distractions and entertainment.

The higher function of this transit is a compassionate healing quality that allows us to open our brain’s capacity for understanding. Neptune is fusing its’ universal acceptance and peace-loving ways with Mercury’s social butterfly curiosity, hopefully helping us to enjoy and appreciate our personal interactions. There is a more receptive feeling in the air, where being flexible and accommodating comes somewhat naturally. Our intuition and ability to relate emotionally is reinforced, as long as we don’t get swept away by the tides.


Going to Extremes

The word perception is loosely defined as “the way we think about or understand something or someone.” We each have our own way of perceiving information, and every one of those ways is colored by a variety of personal factors. We learn through the way things make us feel, and our perceptions are shaped by those emotions and assessments. Yet, as humans in this society, we often do battle with each other because we lose sight of this individual perspective. We think there is an absolute truth — we insist “this is the way IT IS.”

Mercury entered its home sign Gemini Thursday at 9:59 p.m. EDT, which usually signals a lighter and more flexible mental mood. Mercury is the planet of communication, and its transit of airy Gemini can bring with it a sense of curiosity and sociability that eases the rigid boundaries of our personal opinions. The tricky thing here is that Mercury is on its way to oppose Saturn, which will be exact on Sunday, the same day as the intense Scorpio Full Moon.


The Scorpio Moon opposes the Sun in Taurus at 11:42 p.m. Sunday, and they each form a square to Jupiter in Leo (making a T-shape). This continues the trend that has been going on for the past week or so, as Mercury and Mars passed through their own respective squares to Jupiter. A square forces energy together– there’s a dynamic tension that usually requires us to shift or act in order to move around it. With this tension occurring in fixed sign, there can be an absoluteness to that quality, and we may run into different forms of resolute committment. Look at what’s happening in Baltimore. The ideal the protestors are fighting for is justice, but taken to the extreme, it’s blatant destruction and violence. The idea of being “right” is strong with Jupiter, the planet of broad vision and righteousness, squaring the stubborn Taurus Sun and the passionate Scorpio Moon.

While Mercury’s shift into Gemini will help to diffuse these heavy vibes, the opposition to Saturn challenges the integrity of our words. Saturn is retrograde right now, moving slowly backward through the first degrees of Sagittarius. Potential reality checks may require some maturity– particularly about the stories we are telling ourselves and others. Saturn always wants us to get real, to strengthen our sore spots and clear out the bullshit. There seems to be something a little serious about this weekend’s Full Moon, where remembering the individuality of perception is an important idea to hang on to.