Mercury square Saturn: Remember to listen and look

In November of last year a seed was planted. Mercury and Saturn joined at the same degree of Sagittarius. They joined together once more the next month, and finally the next – this time in Capricorn. Since then our mental processing and voice have had to pass through a series of stages toward wisdom, transformation and staying power, but not without grief, setbacks, and a lot of hard work.

How have your thinking and voice matured or left a mark since last November? What external events reflected a need to do so?

Wherever Saturn is going through your birth chart can seem like things are moving too slowly and you have to face too much alone. Today’s square from Mercury in Libra reminds us we have help. It reminds us there’s something we haven’t considered. It reminds us not to get too weighed down.

If we’ve been avoiding the work or letting someone else do it, it’s the reverse: Today is a reality check. Either way, it’s for our own benefit.

I’ve been plodding along but not always remembering the message of risk, reaching, freedom, and truth. That was the original promise. The Capricorn message of careful planning, uphill climbing, and a very long wait – winter – has probably been closer to my mindset. It’s been hard for me to stay hopeful. Today I needed to lighten up, look around, and breathe. The moon and Neptune coming together today help us return to our dream or start a new one.

Saturn in Capricorn is serious business, but growing up can inspire and teach us, too. Remember this process actually started as an arrow and a flame.

Taking off the mask: Venus in Scorpio

“All Things are One Thing” By Issac Abrams  and “Julie. Den Haag, Netherlands, February 29 1994” by Rineke Dijkstra, Tate Modern

“All Things are One Thing” By Issac Abrams and “Julie. Den Haag, Netherlands, February 29 1994” by Rineke Dijkstra, Tate Modern

While Venus was in Libra August 6 through September 9th we learned a little bit about compromise and getting along. Now that Venus is in Scorpio we could get a little more spiky. It’s like suddenly we realize  we’ve fallen asleep wearing a necklace or a necktie, and now we need to take it off. It’s not comfortable or appropriate.

A friend told me yesterday that I looked tired. I was, but also I haven’t been bothering to wear as much makeup, and I had forgotten to smile. Makeup and a smile are two Libra habits I usually bring to the table. But yesterday I didn’t, and honestly, at that moment I couldn’t. I was in a crappy mood, and I had a crappy face. That was the best I could do.

What behaviors or courtesies have you adopted to get along with others? Do any of them not sit well with you now?

While Venus is in Scorpio, we might surprise people who’ve gotten used to us being agreeable or nice. It’s time for a shake up, but try to be strategic and careful during the process. Try not to cut ties in a way you’ll later regret. Venus will re-enter Libra on Halloween, and for the following month we’ll have to revisit compromise in some way. But for now something about us might make people a little uncomfortable, as we discover penetrating truths or changes we need to make.  

If you notice this energy in your boss or coworker or in someone you love, try not to let it destabilize you. Try not to reject or judge it. It could lead to more intimacy and depth, even if it’s not so pretty.

We’re all just trying to get closer to who we really are.

When you can see what you really need to do: Gemini moon square Virgo sun

The moon is in the mutable air sign of Gemini and the sun is in the mutable earth sign of Virgo. At 10:37 p.m. EDT they’ll square each other. A square is a tense aspect that can prod us to resolution.

A Gemini moon can represent a mood of distraction – jumping from one thing to another, the eternal child or student never maturing or taking the reins to teach. That’s not a knock on Geminis. That’s an energy we all have inside us, represented by today’s Gemini moon. If we’ve been avoiding a commitment that would actually be good for us, that’s the tension in today’s sky: Hey, focus. It doesn’t mean we won’t have other options. It just means it’s time to come forward in one specific way. In a sense we’re trading some freedom for some agency, picking what’s more important to us.

Virgo can represent that part of us that always finds something the matter. It can also be the part of us that takes on a subservient role. It feels good to solve a problem or help someone. But taken to an extreme, Virgo can become invisible, either because we don’t think we measure up or because we think someone else’s needs are more important than ours.

Gemini and Virgo can collude: Don’t come forward in this one way because someone else can do it better. Or keep doing this hard thing for someone who doesn’t appreciate it because that’s easier than speaking up. Make sure you really worry.

If we resemble those statements, the tension in the sky could nag us today. It’s time to let some of that go.

The blessing of the mutable signs is that they remind us that nothing is permanent. Time is fluid and so are we. If we’ve been stuck in a way of thinking or behaving, today can remind us that there’s more to explore. We all have resources. We have options and skills. We're surrounded by creative solutions.

Gemini and Virgo are both ruled by Mercury, the planet of noticing and sharing, by our words or by what we do.

Today our restlessness can reveal what needs adjustment. The quarter moon forces some resolution of last month’s Leo new moon. We had something to say and do then, that might not have been obvious to us yet. Today it can come to us in a whisper or a shout.

1988 and today's grand trine: Saturn and Uranus as friends

Me, second from right, in 1988, with a favorite teacher, Mrs. Stein, and two best friends who went on to different middle schools.

Me, second from right, in 1988, with a favorite teacher, Mrs. Stein, and two best friends who went on to different middle schools.

Today there’s a grand trine in the sky between the sun in Virgo, Saturn in Capricorn, and Uranus in Taurus. A grand trine is a supportive, harmonious aspect. In a chart it looks like a triangle. Because the trine is in earth, we can also look at it as especially stabilizing or enduring.  

Saturn and Uranus joined together three times in 1988, and that can be considered the beginning of a Saturn/Uranus cycle: The relationship between our productive, mature, and disciplined self and our innovative, rebellious, and free self. Think of the most buttoned-up person you know and the most zany, and imagine inviting them to dinner – just the three of you. In 1988 instead of for dinner, symbolically those two energies came together inside us, like siblings forced to sit together after an argument. Whether we were born with stronger Saturn energies in our chart or stronger Uranian, that year they became equals and had to learn to work together.

So how’s that been going for you?

It’s easier for me to make friends with Saturn. I have long-lasting relationships. I tend to show up when I’m needed. I can finish what I start. Uranus is harder for me. I do it, but bracingly. Every time I write about astrology – which is Uranian – I’m afraid of being shunned. I start to imagine someone rolling her eyes or unfriending me. I don’t want to be too weird or too forceful.

1988 for me was the end of grammar school and the beginning of middle school: The excitement of moving forward, the fear of not fitting in. Missing close friends who wouldn’t be joining me. It all felt very dramatic. We’d write each other over-the-top letters proclaiming our devotion and sadness. But it was also fun: My middle school could be out of control. I remember kids standing on tables, dancing. It reminded me of scenes from Fame. More unsettling were the epic fights after school. I was a bus kid, so I never stayed to see them, but I saw and heard the lead-ups and recaps: Time-tested rituals of taking off earrings or pulling back hair; the next-day black eye or fat lip. The adults, for the most part, were ineffectual. I couldn’t believe this was possible for a school. Saturn, meet Uranus.

Do you remember what was happening for you?

This year Lyndon starts middle school, and I’m hoping that in the spirit of today’s grand trine, Saturn and Uranus come together in a safer, more supportive, less shocking way for him. My middle school would have blown his mind. Thirty years later, it still blows mine.  

But did I really learn the lesson? In many ways I’m still the Saturn kid watching someone else dance or someone else fight.

How about you? Are you still sitting closer to Saturn or Uranus? What goes through your mind when they speak?

Today I’ll bring Uranus more into the balance: Taking an action for social change and one for personal freedom. In honor of my middle school friends, I’ll try to have a little more moxie, starting with yet another Astrology post.

You may feel the need to hear Saturn instead: To structure, plan or complete something.

Wherever you are I hope you can see both Saturn and Uranus as friends, with you and with each other.

A message from your past or your heart

The sun is in Virgo and the moon is in Aquarius all day today and tomorrow. Sometimes that combo happens once a year; this year it will happen twice: 8/23-26 and 9/19-22 EDT.

The planets that rule Aquarius, Saturn and Uranus, are both retrograde now. During next month’s Virgo sun/Aquarius moon cycle, when both Mars and Saturn are direct, we can aim and accomplish more. But this cycle critically comes first, turning some of our energy back and within, reminding us what we’re made of. 

The Aquarius moon can feel electric. We might be a little more chatty and wired. Ideas come to us, or they come to someone else, and they can challenge our sense of order and routine. Yesterday I had two long phone conversations with friends – something I never do anymore. Now I just text or make plans. But there was something nostalgic about sitting in one place for a while, talking to friends I couldn’t see. It reminded me of the times I could claim the phone as the youngest child in our busy home -- settling into the most secluded spot I could find that the telephone cord could reach. I have a quiet house now, with three people instead of seven. I don’t have to share my phone, and I can take it wherever I want. But this morning I miss the sounds of Ted playing the piano and Dave bouncing a ball. One day I’ll miss the sight of 11-year old Lyndon, wearing earbuds, rifling through cupboards for a snack.

Aquarian energy can be hard to just sit with, but if you can, try, and notice what you appreciate, too.

Some disruptions fill our hearts. Some experiences or loved ones become us -- a little more messy and complicated, but a lot more blessed and whole.

 

Awakening, Virgo style

At 10:18 the Capricorn moon joins Mars and it could be a good chance for us to reexamine our anger, drive, willpower, assertion. If something comes up, the Virgo sun can help us discriminate instead of just explode. If yesterday we might have just gotten pissed, today we can be constructive. What’s really going on and what’s the best thing for me to do about it?

It could be time for us to make some noise or some changes today. But as the moon moves into Aquarius at 12:55 p.m. EDT, let your sensitivity instead of your reactivity guide you. The Virgo sun can symbolize being more critical of ourselves and others. The Aquarius moon can symbolize becoming more aware of shocks and inequalities. We weren’t born to keep our mouths shut, but we also can’t be effective if we come off as erratic or crazed. So some steadiness can help us today – some quiet time and space. And then if we need to raise hell for ourselves or someone else, we’ll know exactly why and we can begin to know just how.

Where has Mercury taken you?

Tonight/tomorrow at 12:24 EDT Mercury stations direct at 11°31’ Leo, the second of three Mercury retrogrades this year. I was searching for an image of Mercury, and Freddie Mercury kept turning up. For vocal, playful Mercury in regal, dramatic Leo I thought, Why not?

Donna Cunningham writes about Mercury, “Mercury stands between Venus and the Sun in our solar system, and Mercury (communication) is the bridge between our inner selves (Sun) and other people we want to share with (Venus). Mercury always stays close to the Sun in the zodiac—it is rarely more than 27° from the Sun in our charts and is most often in the same sign and house as the Sun. However, if our thoughts are too wrapped up in ourselves, we create a barrier instead of a bridge.”

Mercury the metal is fluid: It’s the only metal to remain liquid at room temperature.  Mercury the Roman god is the god of merchants, travelers and transporters of goods, and thieves and tricksters. He’s considered a boundary-keeper and bridge between upper and lower worlds, guiding souls between the two. Mercury is also associated with learning, information, siblings, and youth.

The periods during the year when Mercury goes retrograde, seeming to slow down and go backwards from our point of view, are times to be more fluid ourselves but also more deep. What do we need to retrieve that’s been lost in the day-to-day busy-ness? How have we been tricked or tricked ourselves and others? What is it we’re really meant to carry and communicate and to whom?

From March 22nd through April 15th Mercury traveled retrograde from 16°54’ to 4°46’ Aries, the first sign of the zodiac and the sign of cardinal fire. From July 26th until August 19th it traveled between 23°27’ and 11°31’ Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac and the sign of fixed fire. From November 16th to December 6th it will travel between 13°29’ Sagittarius and 27°16’ Scorpio, moving between the 9th sign of mutable fire to the eighth of fixed water. (Dates are for EDT.)

It’s tempting to dread retrograde periods. They’re correlated with things just going wrong. We have to be more flexible than we want to while feeling more stuck than we’re used to. My birthday is happening during the last retrograde of the year, and my first reaction was, “Oh crap.” A year of Mercury retrograde in my solar return or birthday chart. Wonderful.

But what if we look at retrogrades unfolding over time? In this year alone the retrograde periods all start in fire, the element of action and creative inspiration. Of course the last thing fire signs want is to be slowed down, so retrograde periods feel frustrating. But the benefit of slowing down fire is to aim it more intentionally, to go forward more truthfully.

This retrograde period we’ve seen in the news cycle the symbolism of Leo and Mercury in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury findings about the Catholic Church. For over 70 years leaders of the Church covered up the sexual abuse of children, shifting powerful abusers to different locations and perpetuating crime and suffering. In the U.S. the special counsel probe is trying to uncover the extent of Russian influence on the 2016 election, following methods of communication and exchanges of money for clues. In both cases a slow-down and reset button is better than moving forward without reflection and bringing the truth to light. Both of these cases have gotten people enraged, fired up, but also incredibly sad, especially if the Catholic Church or the U.S. reflects a part of our identity. Where do we go from here?

For many of us, these stories are personal, and they may be propelling us to an action or change. But after we look at the world we’re a part of, what if we look even deeper into our own lives?

Where do the three retrograde periods fall in your chart? What creative spark has been born, strengthened, and now needs to expand before it can find more of a fixed course? How have redirections in your life this year moved you closer to really connecting with your true self and with others? Were there avenues you explored that turned out to be the wrong ones? Can you let them go as mirages or mistakes?

We’ve all been victims of Leo ego and power dynamics at the hands of others and this Mercury in Leo time can help us see and heal that. But if we’re human and honest we’ve probably been on both sides. It would be a missed opportunity if we just noticed the news or other people’s missteps during retrograde periods. Mercury in Leo can also reveal the times when we’ve been blowhards, abused our power, been attached to our own hurt feelings and pride. This retrograde period has made me really appreciate the people who’ve forgiven me, who saw I could do better, who didn’t let my worst behavior define me. And it helped me see who guided me through dark, dark places, keeping the shining the light for me until I could finally hold it myself.

Wishing you revelations of creativity, power, protection, play, performance, worth, truth, and love on this final day of retrograde.

-----------

Cunningham, Donna. An Astrological Guide to Self-Awareness. Moon Maven Publications, 2005.

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/pollutants/mercury-environment/about/chemical-properties.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Mercury-Roman-god

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_(mythology)

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/us/catholic-priests-pennsylvania-church-jury.html