This sculpture by Kees Verkade, “Tightrope Walker” was part of my Aries full moon meditation today.
Jupiter will station direct tomorrow at 9:37 a.m. EDT. There are many ways to process this for insight and inspiration. Here are a few, taken from my class for Fresh Voices in Astrology earlier this year: Jupiter in Sagittarius: When Do We Get to The Good Part?
Meditating on Jupiter
Jupiter is the largest planet, named after the mythological most divine ruler. So just imagine that for a moment, and now imagine more of that quality in you. Jupiter symbolizes some area of talent, luck, or blessings: where we have an inborn connection to greatness and can have even more if we believe in ourselves, pick up some wisdom along the way, and go for it. Ultimately Jupiter represents how we can access a state of success, gratitude, and joy.
Jupiter is between Mars and Saturn. So it’s beyond Mars, the planet of action and desire. But before Saturn, which helps us grow up, commit, and work hard at something. And that placement is meaningful because first, Jupiter helps us wish. Just try. Follow our excitement. Tune into hope.
The glyph or symbol of Jupiter is the God’s lightning bolt. It’s also the crescent of receptivity rising above the cross of matter. Steven Arroyo calls this “the intermixing of the spiritual and the material.” We have an earthly experience of structure, limits, points of decision-making. Interacting with that cross is this crescent, cup, or moon -- the emotional, imaginative, loving, healing realm. We absorb and reflect or take in and pour back out this mixture of the real and the mysterious, the practical and the nourishing: humanity and divinity. Can we be receptive and generous enough to do that?
Meditating on Sagittarius
In Sagittarius, Jupiter has come home, where the energy is pure and powerful, so it’s hypothetically easier to express. Jupiter is in its rulership in Sagittarius — its castle. In the zodiac cycle, which starts with Aries and the first day of Spring, Sagittarius is the 9th sign, between the still, deep waters of Scorpio and the cardinal, beginning earth of Capricorn. Sagittarius as a mutable sign has an agenda of movement: A passage between inner and complex, psychological processes and outer, impressive accomplishments. The archer between the scorpion and the seagoat or mountain goat.
Mutable signs don’t tie us to anything just yet but remind us of a need for variety, change, flexibility. And Sagittarius as a fire sign wants action, a challenge. It wants to find and express freedom, passion and inspiration. It’s also the centaur, combining the animal nature and wisdom of the body with the higher mind. When we shoot the arrow it takes us to new places both mentally and physically. And that’s exciting for a planet in Sagittarius. That feels good. learning, moving, disseminating. Paraphrasing Steven Forrest, three faces of Sagittarius are the student, the traveler, and the philosopher.
Sagittarius is also the great connector of threads, finding common themes and deriving meaning. And so it can help to reflect on the past Jupiter in Sagittarius cycle, or as many as you can remember.
June 9, 1960 - October 25, 1960
January 14, 1971 - June 4, 1971
September 11, 1971 - February 6, 1972
July 24, 1972 - September 25, 1972
December 25, 1982 - January 19, 1984
December 9, 1984 - January 3, 1996
November 23, 2006 - December 18, 2007
November 8, 2018 - December 2, 2019
Have any themes recurred for you this year that tie into past Jupiter cycles? Think about how might this be a homecoming not just for Jupiter, but for you, too.
Meditating on Direction
There are high and low expressions of every symbol in astrology. The danger of a planet in its own sign is that there’s nothing to put the brakes on. Jupiter in Sagittarius can be extreme: Overindulging, overdoing, overextending. It can symbolize our tendency to jump to conclusions, leap before we look, or become stuck in an echo chamber or our own opinions.
There’s a naive face of this, like a good-time party animal or a thrillseeker. Relying on luck or bravado can lead to all kinds of accidents or disasters. But the darker side of this is if we create a belief system around greed or glory or superiority that just keeps expanding. This is a reality of the moment, too.
High Jupiter in Sagittarius expression is merciful and honorable. The cross and the crescent underscore Hippocrates’s ideal of “first, do no harm” — as long as we don’t stay in our rooms all day because we’re afraid of doing harm. The world needs our leadership, too. Jupiter represents a lifelong process of developing a higher code in some area. But Jupiter also represents something to do: instructions for a better life. Jupiter is considered the “greater benefic” in astrology, and benefic comes from the Latin bene and facere -- to do well. And so our well-being is tied to a verb — an action.
Since April 10th of this year (EDT), Jupiter has been retrograde. A retrograde period symbolizes a slowing down, retracing, inward time. But it can also be a do-over. This could have felt extremely frustrating if we really wanted to push ahead on something. Especially for people with strong Sagittarius and Pisces, signs ruled by Jupiter, we might have found ourselves having to dig deep to access hope. The symbolism of Jupiter retrograde was partly that discernment takes time: That wisdom can come from looking back and within, from processes that are less linear, more imaginative. Jupiter retrograde, for better or worse, gave us insight into what was beyond our control. And hopefully it helped counter some of the excess of Jupiter in Sagittarius, drawing our attention not just to outer action but to inner wisdom and our deepest, most passionate dreams.
Now that Jupiter is stationing direct again, we re-aim that arrow to a direction that’s not just personally exciting but also meaningful and broad.
The Jupiter in Sagittarius Lesson
The symbolism we’re dealing with when we talk about Jupiter in Sagittarius is possibility. Just that it’s possible to have faith again, to feel connected to the celebration. Through December of this year, it could help us simply to know that: That the person we see sharing good news may really need that victory right now. Or that it’ll be our turn one day, too. And if it is our turn, can we give ourselves permission to enjoy it?
The current integration of Jupiter in Sagittarius with the other outer planets is an opportunity to be more grounded and more open. If we’ve been gifted in our lives, how can we pay it forward? If we carry a legacy from our family or just people in general who’ve shown us what decency looks like, what character looks like, how can we share that? What are the mature and practical ways we can show kindness or vulnerability or leadership that will elevate not just us but others too? And can we treat ourselves that way, with bold acts of love and generosity and mercy?
Goodness and generosity and blessings are out there just as they’re inside every one of us. Someone or something is out there helping us, cheering for us, making our success possible.
The Jupiter in Sagittarius lesson is this: Something celebrates when we show up.
This morning I played James Taylor’s “Something in the Way She Moves” and imagined which part of my chart “she” might be.
She has the power to go where no one else can find me
Yes, and to silently remind me
Of the happiness and good times that I know
For me, my Jupiter in Taurus came to mind: The part of my chart that helps me be present and still.
Is there a part of your chart that strikes you as comforting? If you don’t know your chart, is there a quality you have that fills you with a sense of peace?
If this song doesn’t speak to you right now, is there another song that can remind you of a beautiful piece of you?
I’ve been feeling guilty that I haven’t been writing as much. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to. I’ve just been more reserved. I’m wondering how much this instinct to become more private is connected with my progressed moon having recently entered Scorpio. The progressed moon symbolizes our evolving emotional needs and states, and its 2¼-year length is helpful to explore in terms of significant emotional phases throughout our lives.
When my moon progressed into airy Libra I started writing and communicating more in general. I wrote and shared more about relationships – strategies for connecting and finding common ground. I felt compelled to check in. My counseling practice picked up. Even through a divisive presidential election I tried to show respect to people with differing opinions – a huge stretch for a Sagittarius. I was learning to be more considerate.
My moon progressed to Scorpio this summer while I was on a Holocaust Remembrance Trip in Europe with my family. I haven’t written much about the trip because there’s so much to unpack psychologically, and at the same time I’m aware that what I saw and felt over two weeks pales in comparison to what millions of people lived through. In the Jewish Museum of Prague I photographed these children’s drawings from the 1940s. Their teacher, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, held secret therapeutic art classes in the Terezín ghetto, determined to connect the children to beauty and inspiration even as their lives got more restricted and terrifying. Eventually Dicker-Brandeis was sent to and killed at Auschwitz. I still think about her, trying to understand the evil that she was up against, wondering how I also can be an instrument of love and hope even in darkness. And it’s not always clear to me. It’s just a question. Sometimes the darkness is so potent.
I’ve become more aware of these kinds of difficult truths – how life can be unfair or cruel. And I think it’s giving me more empathy. Fellow water signs Cancer and Pisces are more often touted for their compassion and ability to love. But I’m starting to believe that Scorpio doesn’t get enough credit. With its penetrating ability to plumb the murky and intense, I wonder if the fixed water energy of Scorpio is partly about finding the strength to continue to love and empathize even when it would be tempting to shut out or shut down. Developing the right protections to carry a sensitive soul, like Cancer, renewing in dreamy darkness, like Pisces, but with the reliability of fellow fixed signs Taurus and Leo: You can depend on me. I’m not going away.
Somehow progressed moon signs or phases kick in when we need them to, when we are ready or when life is ready for us to express a new quality. Right before my moon progressed to watery Scorpio, Lyndon’s moon progressed to fiery Aries. Lyndon’s rising to the challenges of his new middle school: changing classes for the first time, meeting new friends, taking responsibility for his homework and grades. I see a decisiveness that wasn’t there when his progressed moon was in Pisces. Then he was more likely to be swayed by what other people said or just to try to blend in and not make waves. Now he’s speaking up with a budding confidence. I have to check myself when he’s a little harsh with me: Do I point it out to him or let him practice this new voice until he gets the right balance? Aries and Scorpio make an uncomfortable aspect to each other – a quincunx – and the two of us try our best to adjust to each other these days. We both can be a little too spiky. In some ways Lyndon is over-confident: He fervently debates that he’s old enough to take two subways and walk a mile by himself to get home from school every day. I counter that parents have a sense in their guts about what’s safe for their children. He doesn’t buy it. But I need to honor my strong intuition, too. He’s 11. It was only last year that he was the spacey kid who got a pencil stuck in his forehead. (For the full story, see my Parenting with Astrology webinar.) So I send him for smaller trips alone and see how he does. I defer when he tells me he’s too old this year to take a Christmas card photo. That’s a hard one for me. But I have to make sure I don’t come off as too authoritarian while he’s learning an Aries sense of his own power.
If I didn’t practice astrology, I could still find a language for what Lyndon is experiencing through developmental stages. And thank God there are so many ways for us to figure out meaning and next steps. But the progressed moon is a simple tool that helps me on a daily basis to understand emotional landscape and phases and cut myself and my family more slack.
I have two more years in Scorpio territory, and I don’t know what that will mean for me as a mother or wife, artist or astrologer, woman or simply a human. The progressed moon in Scorpio merges two symbols of mystery. And so I’m very much exploring right now. The clients who have come for readings lately seem to want to sit in deep space together. I love that. Yet I also feel socially awkward navigating this depth in other settings. What’s appropriate to share and with whom? I’m not always sure. Part of Scorpio is discerning between privacy that feels good or right and privacy that just reinforces a sense of shame.
Both Aries and Scorpio can be powerful, passionate and extreme. They’re both ruled by Mars – the red planet and God of war. And so for the next two years Lyndon and I might not always be so comfortable to be around. We might have to push back in situations we last year would have tolerated. We might have to tell harsh or awkward truths, to each other and to the outside world. In some ways that’s exciting, and I’m happy to be aligned with my child in this way. I have an Aries moon natally and I’m curious to see those energies reflected in Lyndon for the next two years. What will I admire? What will I see that I don’t like? What might I be able to help him understand? How will seeing Aries in Lyndon help me embrace untapped courage and leadership, too?
In two days transiting Mars will enter Aries; it’ll stay in Aries until Valentine’s Day. For Lyndon and me, this will ramp up the intensity and focus of our progressed moons. For all of us in some area, the symbols represent willpower and desire, boundaries and bravery. Pay attention to any unrest or passion, aggression, excitement, or fear you notice, either around you or within you. The next two months will be rife with opportunities to act and react – to challenge our natural patterns and try ways that feel more aligned with who we are right now.
I hope for me that means challenging myself to shed some of the shell I’ve been fortifying myself under – or at least exchanging it for a larger one that leaves space for more company. And so if you’d like to explore your progressed moon or your child’s, please reach out to me. The moon is a symbol of life’s natural phases of growth and renewal. It rules parenting and childhood, our inner life and creativity and our ability to recover and heal. It reveals the most tender parts of us. It can be an act of love to ourselves just to sit in that space, alone or with another: to feel, to wonder, to marvel – at where we’ve been, who we are and who we’re still becoming.
When Mercury goes retrograde, the information it imparts has to do with the sign it’s in and the aspects it makes to other planets during the retrograde cycle. It will have a specific message for our own individual natal charts, but it will have a collective message for all of us, too.
Mercury stationed retrograde November 16th at 13°29’ Sagittarius, squaring Neptune in Pisces. Mentally, we were all in a fog about something. It stations direct today at 4:22 p.m. EST at 27°16’ Scorpio. For many of us this has been a rough one, but hopefully it also has brought all of us a little more clarity.
What informs this clarity?
During any Mercury retrograde period, insights arrive both from within ourselves and from the past in some way. Yesterday Shutterfly helpfully sent me this reminder of how incredibly cute Lyndon was. Shutterfly regularly sends me photo memories, and most of them are sweet. But it rarely sends me pictures of Lyndon’s. First. Christmas. And that’s the feeling of the end of this retrograde cycle in Scorpio. What we’re seeing or taking in through any of our senses deeply pierces our hearts in some way. Maybe we missed the learning opportunity the first time around, or we forgot it in some way that was crucial. And if the lesson is deep and powerful enough, it can take our breath away. This was a retrograde of searing truths. So if you’re in that heavy space, honor the breadth and depth of what you’ve been processing.
Mercury retrograde famously is associated with mistakes, misunderstandings, and glitches. And they can be our teachers, too – slowing us down, helping us be more intentional. This Mercury retrograde cycle I tried to pay attention to the interactions I had because of the setbacks. Who or what showed up to help me? Who or what had I not noticed until a moment of frustration or vulnerability? Which creative options did I discover out of necessity that I may want to carry forward with me?
During this retrograde period I also heard my own words or vocal tone comes back to me – for good and for bad. I heard kindness and encouragement from coworkers, a cheery sing-song from my Mom. I heard an aggravated, impatient tone in Lyndon’s voice that never used to be there. They were different illustrations of my own voice, showing me what I like about my communication and what I can still do better.
At the beginning of this retrograde period, Mercury squared Mars. And so in some way, Mars has been our teacher. Conflict and courage were part of the message of the past three weeks. As we encountered anger, aggression, will, or fear, have we drawn a boundary or forged ahead in a new, uncharted way?
Later Mercury aligned with the sun and Jupiter in Sagittarius. Part of this inward or backward retreat has been to reclaim our own faith, hope, light, and immensity. What did we forget or never notice about our own possibility and essence? Because Mercury travels so closely to the sun and retrogrades three times a year, we get this chance symbolically to see and express ourselves anew several times a year. But this sun/Mercury conjunction in Sagittarius related to the self we want to be philosophically. Our beliefs have been in the spotlight. Exploration and wisdom have been in the spotlight. And hopefully this searching period has shown us some risks we needed to take to be more true and free.
As Mercury stations direct on this day when the Sagittarius moon joins the same degree as Jupiter, it could soothe us to absorb and connect meaning to some of the wisdom we’ve personally gained during the last three weeks. Importantly, tomorrow will be a new moon and Mars and Neptune will join at the same degree. Our strength is aligned with something bigger than we are, even if we still can’t yet see the way forward.
This Mercury retrograde has come during Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights commemorating the rededication of the Temple after its desecration, and Advent, the Christian season of waiting for the arrival of Christ. And in that duality we find ourselves: Even as there’s more to prepare for and anticipate, there are victories and signs of hope, big and small, worth seeing and celebrating.
"I have no answers, but I have a lot of questions, and those questions have helped me live better than any answers I might find."
- Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, interviewed in this episode of "On Being" with Krista Tippett.
Dr. Remen's lifelong struggle with Crohn's disease has shaped her work as a doctor. She says it's important to remember that even when you don't have the ability to cure, you can always heal. Her grandfather, an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi whom she lovingly refers to as a "flaming mystic", told her this story as a gift for her 4th birthday:
"This is the story of the birthday of the world. In the beginning, there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof. The source of life. And then, in the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand, thousand things emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light. And then... there was an accident. And the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world -- broke. And the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, was scattered into a thousand, thousand fragments of light. And they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day. According to my grandfather, the whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make it visible once again. And thereby to restore the innate wholeness of the world. It's a very important story for our time, that we heal the word one heart at a time. This task is called tikkun olam in Hebrew: the restoration the world."
"...This is of course a collective task. It involves all people who have ever been born, all people presently living, all people yet to be born: We are all healers of the world. And that story opens a sense of possibility. It's not about healing the world by making a huge difference. It's about healing the world that touches you. That's around you. And that's where our power is.... I think we all feel that we're not enough to make a difference, that we have to be more somehow, either wealthier or more educated, or somehow or other different from the people we are. And according to this story, we're exactly what's needed And to just wonder about that a little. What if we were exactly what's needed? What then? How would I live if I'm exactly what's needed to heal the world?" (It's worth hearing her tell the story herself, at about 4.44.)
And finally, wisdom for today's balsamic Scorpio moon, combining themes of letting go, loss, going deeply into dark spaces, and powerfully, lovingly transforming: "The fact is that life is full of losses and disappointments. And the art of living is to make of them something that can nourish others. And it's taken me a long time to find the recipe that's mine... but I had a sense of what might be possible and that I needed to look to find the way for myself."