More than twice as massive as all the other planets combined, Jupiter can be felt as a bigness. After 4 months of retrograde, the bigness moves forward today in Aquarius, the sign of future. Also moving forward today is Mercury, the planet of mind, in the open air of Libra. Will you open your mind to find a bigness worth getting excited about pertaining to your future? Your future could be an evening plan or a distant dream- just so long as it is ahead. If you can make this dream/plan big, you will be in swift step with the gods!
I would love to hear what big dreams or plans you are thinking! Write yours in the comments!
Kierkegaard famously said, “Life can only be understood backwards: but it must be lived forwards.”
Understanding things is the mind’s job, represented in the zodiac by Mercury, the quick-silvered Messenger of the Gods. It moves forward very quickly, faster than any other planet in our solar system. But 3 times a year, it gives the illusion of moving backwards and we find ourselves in the spell of Mercury retrograde for about 3 weeks. Good thing Mercury is the planet of mind, which is good at understanding life in a backwards fashion. Mercury goes retrograde at the beginning of this week on Monday, September 27th and will continue its moonwalk until October 17th. As we continue to live forward, let’s also see how well we can employ our minds to look backwards, and better understand the lives we lead.
Looking back is synonymous with reflection. When you look in a mirror, there you are as a reflection looking back at yourself. As Bob Dylan sang,
When you wake up in the morning, baby, look inside your mirror
You know I won’t be next to you, you know I won’t be near.
I’d just be curious to know if you could see yourself as clear
As someone who has had you on his mind.
In this romantic instance, a lover’s reflection, far away from her, wagered to be stronger than the actual reflection looking back at her from a mirror right in front of her.
Distance is of little importance when it comes to the power of mind. The Extended Mind Thesis, created by philosophers David Chalmers and Andy Clarke states that the mind extends into the world by use of tools and other minds. The idea is that just like a prosthetic limb can become part of a body, technology such as computers or even notebooks become part of our minds. You say you know the time and then look at your watch, or that you know where something is then consult your smartphone. Your mind extends into your environment.
And then there’s the matter of other minds! Other people’s ideas allow us to think of thoughts that we never otherwise would have. Just think how limited our minds would be if ideas were never shared! Ideas are like oxygen, the air we share.
Thinking and looking back has a wide network of assistance. It isn’t just you alone in your head indulging in some “me time”. It is your mind, out in the world, entangled with the ideas that have inspired you, shaped by the people who you love and admire, made more efficient by the tools you use.
When you reflect, when you look back, certain things can happen that simply can’t happen while looking forward. Threads show up and some declare themselves as common. Dots appear that beg to be connected. Patterns emerge. Connections converge. Before you know it, you are sitting in the middle of a movie that has a definite plot. It is this kind of 4th wall shattering that credits Mercury as a bonafide trickster. “Down in front” yells Bugs from the back of the theater.
That’s right, it’s a wascally wetwogwade, with you in the center of it.
This year has been a year of air sign retrogrades for Mercury. After retrograding in Aquarius through most of February, and Gemini through most of June, we are now looking into most of October with a Libra retrograde. Above all, Libra is an otherness.
No matter how much your reflection in the mirror looks like you, it is still fundamentally not you. The otherness of who looks back at you in the mirror is similar to the otherness of your mind as it extends into the world. Silver provides the best reflection, and remember, Mercury is liquid silver. It is fast moving silver, reflecting with a silly symphony of extensions from notebooks to neighbors. It is you and not you. The more not you it is the more you you may become. That is to say, the more you embrace the tools and inspiring ideas that surround you, the more you may come to understand the life you live, and feel a fuller sense of who you are.
Maybe that is why we can see the rabbit in a Full Moon.
Any parent with a child over three is very familiar with the world’s shortest question: “why?”
As Mercury moves into Leo this week, we shall ponder the mind of the child. Why? Because they see things from a very special place.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery was born when Mercury was in Leo. His classic, The Little Prince deals largely with the nature of grown-ups, and their inability to perceive “important things”. The narration comes from a pilot whose aircraft has crashed in the Sahara. He meets a little boy with “golden curls’”’ and a “loveable laugh” who asks questions again and again until they are answered. Saint-Exupery draws much from his experience. An aircraft pilot himself, he also crashed in the Sahara and nearly died of dehydration. As a young boy he was nicknamed “The Sun King” because of his golden curls. When in the Sahara he saw a desert sand fox who likely inspired the character who delivers the key moral message to the story: “Important things can only be seen with the heart, not the eyes.”
Perspective of distance makes the eye the center of one’s world. Seeing with the heart seems to imply a different kind of perspective; one that puts the heart, not the eye, at the center. A perspective where the truly essential stands out; a world of essences.
Perhaps even more importantly, seeing with the heart implies a spirited energy to attempt to better know one’s world, and one’s place in it; an attempt to connect experience with what you see.
This is something that children seem born to do.
In a fabulous 4 part series from 1972, art critic John Berger sits around with some children, all around the age of 10. He shows them a painting by Caravaggio which depicts an androgenous figure that looks a bit like Jesus in the center. In the group, nearly all the boys thought this figure was a man and nearly all the girls thought the figure to be a woman. He says this is because children look at images and connect them “directly with their own experiences.”
The perception of adults, in contrast, is “less spontaneous than we tend to believe” as a “large part of it depends on habit and convention.”
In Plato’s Symposium, it was habit and convention that caused people to call the young Apollodorus “crazed”, because he devoted himself so wholeheartedly to Socrates and to philosophy. The enthusiastic youth went about saying he was “happy beyond all measure” as long as he could talk or listen to philosophy. When Socrates drank the hemlock, Apollodorus was the only one present who burst into tears, a detail which suggested this character might represent Plato himself.
Habit and convention has made a mess of these adults who see Apollodorus as foolish. They are blind to the most basic vision; that of the heart.
The name Apollodorus may serve as another clue to heart-vision. Above the Greek God Apollo’s Temple of Delphi read the words “Know Thyself”, and “dorus” is Greek for “gift”. The name Apollodorus may point to a spirited gift of asking “why” in order to gain more and more perspective and truly know oneself and the surrounding world.
The child’s “why” reveals a world beyond the trees, beyond the country, beyond the sea, beyond the sky. With each “why” a wider perspective is gained. At the same time, a deeper and more intimate understanding of one’s place in the world comes as the heart gets more and more centered. And because the world stretches beyond our planet and in many ways, beyond the realm answerable by science, not to mention the infinite inner realities of feelings and dreams, the shortest question in the world will never be answered in full.
Finally, as these stories tell us, heart vision is what the artist uses to turn experience into poetry.
Each story, painting, song, discovery and poem added to the world waits for the right hungry heart to use it and gain perspective.
As Carl Sagan said, “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
The next time you hear a child ask why, think of the gift of Apollo, and see if you can feel the distant stars within searching for an answer.
After practicing the art of negative capability, Mercury, the planet of perception moves forward in Aries on Saturday, April 3rd. Looking becomes forward looking. A type of looking that generates excitement. A perception that is fond of future and its yet-to-be contents. When Mercury moves into Aries it becomes clear how great it is to anticipate.
Numerous psychological studies performed in 2007 (professors, Leaf Van Boven and Laurence Ashworth) reported people feeling more intense feelings when contemplating future events than when reflecting on things that already happened. Prospective holidays far outranked the levels of excitement and happiness than the reflected-upon past holidays, even the most satisfying ones.
Anticipation underlies optimism and hope. It provides momentum, and works wonders even in its most simple practices.
To see through the eyes of the Ram is to see the future in lit-up pieces.
Plato saw vision as a a smooth and gentle outward-flowing fire that was emitted from the eye to fuse with ambient light and create a “body of vision.” Empedocles also believed this but added that the fire of the eye was lit by Venus herself.
While science agrees little with this theory of vision, psychologically there is something here. Venus, with her delights, “light” our visions of future events. There may in fact exist an outward-flow of fire when it comes to an important type of vision; the vision of looking forward, the fire of anticipation.
Aries’ forward-fire is more alive when contemplating the future because it is only in the future that we can experience hope. Jean Jacques-Rousseau said “anticipation and hope are natural born twins.” The strength of the Ram is the strength of the Will, again connecting fire to future, as in “I will..”
Fire mixed with future is what nurtures the Japanese concept of “Ikigai (pronounced icky guy), which is seen to be a key to longevity. Ikigai translates most literally into “a reason to get out of bed every morning.” It is a dynamic sense of well-being, one that hinges on a relationship to the immediate (and also faraway) future.
The Sun and Venus have been relearning many active principles, and Mercury is the latest to join the springtime party. The trickster looks forward to looking forward, and experiencing what Camus called “the sweet pain of anticipation to tell us we are really alive.”
How will you ignite some anticipation in your life?
Mercury will anticipate in Aries until April 19th when it will embrace itself in Taurus.
Mercury moves into Pisces on Monday, March 15th, joining the effortless harmonics of the Sun, Venus and Neptune. Into the vibrant vibrato goes the trickster, to see what can be seen through the ultimate fish-eyed lenses.
Having moved through Aquarius since the start of the year, there has been healthy turbulence in the streams of thought. The turbulence has oxygenated the water, and created fresh negative ions. The atmosphere is like that after a rainstorm, perceptually speaking. How can you make the most out of these new lenses? This new soft vision of synthesis?
For starters, soft vision is not to be confused with blurriness. Soft vision is a receptive mental act. At its ultimate, it is what John Keats referred to as ‘negative capability’, a kind of negation of the personality so as to be as open as possible to all different points of view. Shakespeare was said to be an expert in negative capability as his characters diversified from each other with such rich complexities, yet Shakespeare the man remains quite a mystery.
To have negative capability is to be satisfied with ‘half-knowledge’ and not impatient to reach firm conclusions that would undermine the complexities of experience.
Keats said, “Let the mind be a thorough fare of thoughts” rather than a “select party of beliefs.”
Pisces vision is like a waterfall. Not only a stream of consciousness, but the real world of all streams. The real world of all accumulated thought, Chardin’s ‘noosphere’. The reality that if libraries were to contain all the written works of history, and then the human race was nearly wiped out, a new generation could use this knowledge instead of starting from scratch.
When Mercury is in Pisces, the real world of all streams is more apparent. There is a desire to synthesize, and to open your senses as wide as they can go. Through the lenses of the fish, peripheries are extended and centers are strengthened. Outside of the hard outlines of a fact and reason, the mind gets a holiday, and can begin to think about nothing, which can lead to everything, as Einstein and other geniuses have proved.
Mercury will be in Pisces until April 3rd when it will burst forth in willful Aries.
Happy soft eyes, happy open mind, and as always, happy astro pondering!
Have you ever experienced the sublime satisfaction of tidying up a room? Have you ever been near-mystified by the way things just “worked out?”, or how things just, “fell into place?”
This Wednesday evening, the sky display a pretty pattern of order and meaning. Three planets will line up perfectly in an ascending diagonal line, with the Crescent Moon nearby.
The faintest light on the bottom will be Mercury, followed by Jupiter, the brightest. At the height of the diagonal will be Saturn. All of them, and the Moon, will be in the existential sign of Aquarius.
Writer philosopher Colin Wilson said that existentialism was a “philosophy of intuition”. Unlike Sartre and Camus, he saw the world as inherently meaningful, with the only thing blocking us from such meaning being our own “sensory blinders”. Ultimately, his existentialism was based on optimism just as much as realism. He saw the “feelings of inner freedoms” to be intimately bound with an effective “grasp on reality”.
“It is as impossible to exercise freedom in an unreal world as it is to jump while you are falling.”
Colin Wilson, The Outsider
With the planet of optimism and intuition blazing the brightest in the center of the lineup, its a perfect evening to ponder the vital hunches of a cheery existentialist.
Our perceptions are Mercury, the faintest light at the bottom. Faintest by design, for they keep the chaos of stimulus ordered for us. We can walk down the street without feeling bombarded by sounds, sensations and sights. Our selectivity saves us, yet it also keeps us away from our full reality.
For full reality, we have to find places of correspondences; how our physical reality corresponds to us in a personal, meaningful way. In this way we can sense our interior power, which Wilson also refers to as our reality.
Sensing our interior power is to abolish the notion that we are passive creatures. In fact, he correlates passivity with an increasing sense of unreality. If we can, for a moment, embrace his maxim that “perception is intentional”, we can begin to see how passivity really can blur reality.
“The sense of order and meaning is a direct stimulus of the will, and even mere perception springs from a will to perceive .”
Colin Wilson, Existential Criticism, The Chicago Review 1959
What does this twinkly display of order correspond to in you?
Can you feel an interior power arise in recognizing this correspondence?
Can you feel… your reality?
Saturn the planet of reality winks from the top of the line.
Happy star-gazing and as always, happy astro pondering!
Philosopher William James first coined the phrase “stream of consciousness” to describe the full range of thoughts that we can be aware of at any given time. He called it a stream, observing that thoughts tended to flow from one to another and another.
Here we are at the end of the first month of 2021, and Mercury, the god of thought, is decidedly reversing the stream’s current, in Aquarius, the sign of awareness, foresight and future.
Are we going back to the future?
In a sense, maybe.
As we go about our days we are immersed in many droplets of rich subjective life. Moments when something speaks to us, moments when we feel good or bad, moments that we share, moments that we rush, moments that we savor.
With winged-sandals, Mercury, God of thought swiftly weaves facts out of these moments. Facts that may be recalled in the future about what happened in the past. The facts are what survives, the feelings are fleeting, and disappear like the Moon. Facts weave and connect into the mysterious network of memory. Awaiting a reason to resurface, and be reflected on. Once reflected on, feelings may arise again, and feel like those original feelings, but they are still new, and based on these facts.
As Mercury moves retrograde, the stream of consciousness goes back on itself. It’s like using one of those now obsolete microfiche machines in libraries, where newspapers can be flashed through in search of that pertinent piece of information. Thought goes back on itself, in search of something.
Mercury has been in Aquarius since the beginning of the year leaving many Aquarian-esque facts weaved into our neural networks. Aquarian-esque; existential, pertaining to future, off the beaten path and in question of some basic assumptions.
You found something in these weavings, what was it?
Maybe you will find a fact worthy of reflection. By reflecting on these resurfaced facts, perhaps you will better shape your future! Time flows just like the trickster. Maybe you can manage to go back to the future!
Mercury will be retrograde for the rest of Aquarius Season. The Trickster God will go direct on February 20th, two days after the start of Pisces Season, and remain in Aquarius until March 15th.
Happy Gemini Season to all. I hope it is a nice bouncy time of curiosity and conversation. In this post I plan to share some of the glimmering shimmering secrets of the Trickster, in hopes that this Spring Season can be extra intriguing.
This is the sign most associated with the intellect, words, straightforward logic etc. Often the archetype of Gemini summons up a smartness, incredible word-craft abilities, cleverness…
Opposite Gemini is the Archer, Sagittarius, the sign that breathes the fire of meaning into things.
But it is Gemini that not only puts this meaning into words, thoughts and expressions, it is also Gemini whose air fans the flames of meaning!
Yes Bugs! Through thought, speculation, musings, and curiosity- lots of meaning gets stirred up and fortified. These two signs are on opposite sides of a very interesting spectrum.
The MYTHIC MEANING of Sagittarius and the MENTAL TRIVIALITY of Gemini.
But wait- it sounds as though I am insulting the sign of the Twins!
But it’s true! The intellect alone will only get a person so far. Without meaning, thoughts can turn in on themselves and stifle.
The wisdom lies in knowing this to be true: hence the Trickster is born!
Geminis are at heart, Tricksters. Beings who delight in thought and words, yet with a knowing of the paradoxical limits of thought and words.
And these are the souls that breath air into MEANING itself! The two things- triviality and meaning co-creating. No hierarchy, just discovery.
If every where you looked MEANING was staring you in the face you would likely get burned out- fast.
There would be no AIR of LIGHTNESS. No reprieve. No jokes, no riddles, no lighthearted smiling or giggling.
It’s an interesting paradox, that intelligence and delightful stupidity are tied up in the same archetype. But that’s Gemini- if it weren’t interesting and paradoxical, it would cease to be- the Trickster.
So, this Season, share in the delight of the enigma of levity, thought, intelligence and triviality.
Today we are going deep into the astrological makings of a very complex man. Ladies and gentleman, I give you Howard Hughes!
The first thing that really draws my eye into his chart is that Mercury at the very bottom of the chart. It is in Virgo (the ever over-analyzing, perfecting and exacting scrutinizer) and it is under some serious pressure.
Howard Hughes seems to have acquired the brunt of his OCD from his mother, who used to scrub him clean all through his childhood and teach him to be afraid of germs.
His Mercury is found at the bottom of the chart right on the 4th house cusp. This is the place in the chart that is associated with the Mother and early childhood (because it is the house that is connected to the sign of Cancer).
Mercury is the planet associated with our thinking. It is always listening and responding to our environment (like DNA!)
Hughes Mercury (thinking) is under pressure from both Mars and Pluto via the square aspect (an aspect of 90 degrees). So let’s meet the personal “bullies” of Hughes’ mind!
Mars is energy! It is motivation and stress. The stuff that propels life along. Hughe’s Mars is located in the 7th house of relationships. It’s a common know fact that Hughes did “go (very) big” in the dating field.
Hughes was infamously entangled with a bevy of beautiful starlets. The glitz and glamour would satisfy his Venus in Leo as well as his Moon in Leo. Venus for a man will point to something he is drawn to in a woman. The Moon points to an emotional hunger that we yearn to satiate. This is also connected to the mother and early life.
It’s interesting to think of all of that OCD doting that his mother did for him was still a form of constant attention. Hughes was known to be a hypochondriac in childhood to secure the constant attention of his parents, both of whom died within his later teenage years. Hughes went to court and bought out the rest of the family for the inheritance and became a billionaire.
Ok, so back to the pressure on his Virgoan mind.
Let’s meet the next “bully”, the ever secretly-up-to-something Pluto. And as a side note, these “bullies” are not inherently bad, they are just motivators. The aspect of the square suggests that it’s a bit more challenging for Hughes.
Pluto motivates in a very hidden way. In Gemini this may take the form of always seeking mental stimulus, and variety of thought. It lies opposite of the Mars in the 7th house of relationships so we can expect to find a lot of variety there too (and there sure was!).
Pluto is like a rabbit hole. It’s job is to constantly renew us and purify us through emotional purging. Hughes’ rabbit hole was so very mental, so full of variety and choices. For a mind that is suited towards precision and order (Mercury in Virgo) this influx of variety might have been a bit overwhelming.
It would have been nice to see Hughes’ Virgo mind take the Virgoan modest approach to these heavy-weight bullies. To humbly (Virgo) take things in stride and be aware of his own tendency to over-worry (Virgo pitfall). We can bring so much peace back to our psyches with a bit of awareness. This is the department where the horoscope truly shines as a tool. It serves us to give ourselves a break and be on the lookout for unhealthy habits!
The subject of Mercury keeps you guessing the more you look into it. It is the archetypal Trickster as well as our own minds. It is our words and thoughts as well as all of the information that we take in from our surroundings.
He is Hermes (Greek) and Thoth (Egypt). Both of these Gods are connected with communication, perception, writing, learning and zipping around as messengers to the other Gods. Hermes wears a winged helmet, whereas Thoth’s head is that of an ibis, a bird.
Why the concept of flight associated with the head? Does it point towards looking into the speed of thought? Could it point to the feeling of flight as being free and light, as in soaring in the clouds? The mind, speed, flight, freedom… what is the sacredness that is being preserved in these archetypal images?
Let’s take a look at some other familiar Tricksters. We already have this concept of flight associated with the mind in Hermes and Thoth. What do we see in the others?
One common similarity here is that each of these animals have pointy ears. Looks a bit like a winged helmet doesn’t it? If we search onward it becomes evident that pointy ears are found on many a Trickster.
What’s amazing about Mercury is how one association continues to lead to another and quickly. For instance, the fact that Bug’s says “what’s up doc?” is curious because of the caduceus association with medicine. Go into any doctor’s office today and you are likely to find this symbol hanging on a wall or on the cover of a pamphlet. Let’s look at the symbol again.
I wrote another post a while back entitled “The close relationship between the heart and mind (Sun and Mercury)” in which I talked about the way the lungs and the heart (Mercury and Sun) are so closely connected in the body. Mercury is never far off from the Sun. These are themes that I find very significant when further exploring the true role of Mercury in our psyches. We know that is always close to the heart and we know that it is by nature a trickster. It often gives us the “switcheroo” just look at what happens with our eyes! The perception of the eyes are ruled by Mercury.
So if the nature of Mercury is to flip things upside down AND it is always associated with the Sun (life, love, the heart) we might hypothesize that we should strive to “think with our hearts and love with our minds” as Alice O. Howell says. For anyone who doesn’t know, Alice O. Howell is my favorite astrologer and I encourage everyone to buy her books! Think with our hearts.. very Yoda!
How do we do that? I don’t know! But I do know that something feels good about this notion, at least to me. So often our minds are slaves to things we DON’T love. We put our attention to things that feel bad and get stressed and upset. So often our hearts are screaming at us and we don’t listen. We just keep doing what we’ve always done and rationalize it with our minds! A little balance is in order here. And a little humor (Mercury!)
Just a little thought to keep in your heart, or a little feeling to keep in your mind. Until next time!