Aquarius New Moon, Mercury Retrograde and a Hot Splash of Pisces

Dear Friend and Reader:

We’re about to enter one of those rapidly developing weather patterns over the next few days. Just before that happens, we will be putting the finishing touches onto Cosmophilia, your 2015 annual readings.

Cosmophilia artwork by Lizanne Webb.

Those have taken me about a week longer than planned, with the main benefit being this is the first annual edition I’ve done with minimal stress. I got stressed out a grand total of one time (well, so far, but I’m doing well at the moment, happily putting the last touches on Aquarius, feeling rested and otherwise on schedule).

The readings are the result of an extremely thorough look at the astrology of 2015, which took me forward through the zodiac casting the charts initially, then doing the audio readings in reverse order (from Aries through Pisces to Taurus), then doing the written section in the ordinary order (Aries to Pisces). So I’ve read these charts forward and backwards. I keep doing so through the year as I leapfrog weekly and monthly columns.

To do these readings, I use many extra planets, a wide diversity of asteroids, all of the classical points and several hypothetical points.

I also use a full-spectrum house system that I learned from Patric Walker and which was probably also used by Linda Goodman. The beauty of this house system is that it accounts for every sign being influenced by every other sign. Nothing stands apart or is split off; the wheel as I read it is an integrated environment. (I will include a basic explanation of this as part of Cosmophilia.)

This is less about “reading astrology” and more about personally embodying the zodiac.

As you can imagine, this generates many ideas and a lot of material. Right now I am over-length on the Aquarius reading and need to reorganize the end and cut back. This kind of overflow leaves me lots of juicy stuff for forthcoming birthday readings, and a new series of planetary transit readings that I am planning, beginning with Saturn and Chiron.

One of the most beautiful things about the annual edition is that I take the occasion to relearn astrology every year. I start from blank chart forms, a bunch of New Moon charts and lists of minor planets, and then I start to weave the story together, pretty much from scratch. I work with a theme, or point of view, which this year has been driven by the books Biophilia by Edward O. Wilson andUnderstanding Media by Marshall McLuhan.

This combination of factors has been teaching me that astrology is a form of environmental studies. It’s a look at what happens when you work with movements of the inner environment and the outer one. I base my readings on what is happening at the place where those environments meet.

I am also learning that astrology is a shorthand system for expressing any idea from any other form of psychology, mysticism or spirituality.

Then when you start rubbing those planets and signs together, new material appears, seemingly out of the ethers. Stories emerge that seem to have a life of their own, and were merely waiting to be told. I love to teach this method of reading, and I will be doing so in a series of classes that begin in late winter.

Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces 

The astrology for the next week is centered around the last three signs of the zodiac, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

The Sun right now is moving through the final degrees of Capricorn. It’s still holding its long conjunction to Vesta (currently within three degrees), which is setting a theme of focus, devotion and service.

Mars arrived in Pisces this week, and is currently moving into an alignment with Neptune. Earlier today Mars made a square to Saturn, which seems to have been less about encountering limits than it was about going past them.

Both Sagittarius and Pisces are made of soft material; Mars and Saturn take on a different cast in those signs. Saturn in Sagittarius is recommending the kind of discipline that’s about persistent focus, helping to keep all this Pisces energy concentrated enough to be useful.

Monday, the Mars-Neptune alignment is exact at 7:08 pm EST (Tuesday at 00:08 UTC). In Pisces, this is inspirational and visionary. It’s an exact morph of the mystical, the erotic and the artistic. For sure that is an easy space to enter for the next few days, using nothing other than your imagination, some paints, pastels or your pet synthesizer.

You might say that this aspect, particularly in Pisces, is about transcending ordinary consciousness. There are lots of ways to do that and most of us have tried many of them. That includes things like yoga and meditation, and for that matter going to the gym, which is often done for the purpose of raising awareness and energy. And then there are things that we humans ingest. Whether we’re talking about caffeine, alcohol, pot, yerba mate tea or magic mushrooms, there are exceedingly few Westerners who have not experimented with ‘changing their mind’ using some substance. Mars conjunct Neptune raises the likelihood of this. It’s just one of those things about Mars-Neptune contacts.

You or someone close to you might be inspired to experiment with a substance of some kind, and if so I just suggest you follow Timothy Leary’s guidance about “set and setting” (awareness of your mindset and an appropriate physical and emotional setting). I would say this is a good test for all uses of substances, and something you might want to mention to your kids (who are very likely to experiment without guidance, no matter what anyone says to them). There is a fine line between use and abuse of substances, though that line does exist.

It’s possible to relate some ideas about how you might stay on the more responsible side of that line, without being judgmental (that will likely backfire). One of the most troubling things I have seen is under what settings so many people use mind-altering substances — whether we’re talking about something as commonplace as alcohol, or more sophisticated psychedelic substances. They have many properties in common.

Whatever you do, whether you choose ‘natural’ or ‘manmade’ means to transcending consciousness, the result can be a profound journey into your consciousness, your creativity and intimate encounters with yourself or with others. Mars conjunct Neptune in Pisces is bristling with sexual energy of the hot, wet, vividly imaginative kind. Use it consciously and with some authentic care.

This aspect can have a destabilizing property on those whose state of mind is edgy, borderline or in any way delusional. I mean this in the psychiatric sense of the word. Pay attention if anyone close to you (partner, housemate, business partner) fits this description. Pay attention to that. If prescription meds are involved, depending on how close you are to the person, pay attention to what they’re doing. Note any tendency to self-medicate. In its shadow form, this is the classic “go off my meds and drink instead” aspect.

Another shadow form of Mars-Neptune is deception. Use your common sense, stay focused on your senses and listen to what people say carefully.

New Moon in Aquarius 

Next comes the New Moon in Aquarius. This is the last of a series of events where the Sun ingresses into a new sign the same day as the New Moon. We’ve been having those for a while, I think at least back to the Libra equinox, when the Moon, Venus and the Sun ingressed Libra within hours.

Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 4:43 am EST, the Moon ingresses Aquarius. Then less than four hours later, the Moon ingresses Aquarius and forms the New Moon. The Moon and Sun join an impressive collection of planets in Aquarius, including Mercury, Venus and Nessus. There are also a lot of interesting asteroids, though the one that’s in an exact conjunction with the New Moon is called Circe.

Martha Lang Wescott describes this as being about service to others, and facilitating the process that another is going through, though I think it goes deeper than that. Circe is the greek goddess of magic. She is variously described as a nymph, witch, sorceress or enchantress.

In The People’s Mythological Book of Life known as Wikipedia, the editors write, “Circe was renowned for her vast knowledge of potions and herbs. Through the use of magical potions and a wand or a staff, she transformed her enemies, or those who offended her, into animals.”

That, at least, sounds like a bit more than service and facilitation. It goes nicely with the Mars-Neptune conjunction. She is associated with a place called Monto Cicero in southwestern Italy.

Mercury Retrograde in Aquarius 

One more item, also related to Aquarius. On Wednesday, Mercury stations retrograde. It does so in a conjunction to the Aquarius Moon. And the whole retrograde will cover most of the first 17 degrees of that sign. Mercury will station direct on Feb. 11.

The sky is really speaking the language of Aquarius now. In Cosmophila’s reading for that sign, I describe my impression of the theme it offers, not just for people born with their Sun or other element there, but for everyone.

“Aquarius is the original sign that describes the very human, or rather modern human, crisis of belonging. It is at once the sign of individuality and of conformity. It’s the sign that represents the group, in particular the in-group, and which also describes the need to stand apart and express one’s originality. Every sign contains its little paradox. This is the one that belongs distinctly to Aquarius.”

The truth is it belongs distinctly to all of us, since we all have Aquarius in our charts. As Mercury tracks backward through this rather interesting season of astrology, I think that we’re going to have many different points of view emerge on the group-versus-individual-thinking question.

All in all, this is fast-changing, exciting and creative astrology. Keep your focus and keep your feet on the ground.


Weekly Horoscope for Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 #1032 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — Your role in a group or organization that you’re affiliated with is about to change. So too will the purpose of that group in your life. Developments will occur in a series of events over the coming week, and you’ll want to take them one at a time, and consciously process the information. Each time you learn something, make sure you’re aware there may be one more bit. As you gather the details, you’ll get a better idea of what you need to do, who you can trust and what the purpose of the changes is really about. Pay close attention and act cautiously, because these developments can influence your professional income, for better or for worse. Be aware that the dust won’t fully settle until the second week of February, when Mercury stations direct. Till then tread lightly and make no assumptions.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Step up to the challenge where professional responsibilities are concerned. You are no longer playing in the minor leagues. You’re working on a level where people are depending on your judgment, your knowledge and your skill at handling potentially complex situations. This has taken you time and a real investment, and you have every reason to be confident in yourself. Invariably, complex situations involve people, their personalities and coordinating communication among them. That seems to be the only management skill that matters these days. You’re in an excellent position to do something that many people find challenging — to listen. That will give you access to the mysterious power known as having a clue what people are saying. That will give you the opportunity to solve a problem, which by the way you may need to solve twice.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — If you change your mind about a long-term plan or goal, I suggest you not send out a press release. Keep your decision to yourself. I suggest you not cancel any plans or arrangements until you’ve given this some time — my recommendation is at least one month. And if you can avoid it, don’t make firm commitments for what you’re planning to do — rather, take steps to keep your options open. Rather than thinking of this as a ‘final’ decision, feel out your options. By feel I mean sit with, and get the actual feeling of. Slip into that reality for a while and give yourself permission to make that choice. You actually have quite a few more than two choices, and this is not an all-or-nothing circumstance. Many shades of mix and match are possible, and once you begin to move on your plans other possibilities will open up.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Keep a keen eye on financial and business matters. You’re in a more powerful position than you think, though as always where transactions, partnerships and shared resources are concerned, you must be alert, detail-oriented and as shrewd as you can muster up. If you have investments, keep an eye on them. If you’re interested in new investments, make sure you take care of the ‘due diligence’ thing, which I suggest you stretch out at least until Mercury stations direct on Feb. 11. During that time, I suggest you allocate cash only to basic necessities or operations costs and minimize other exposures. As you do this, you will learn a lot about your own finances, how you do business and the ways you can make decisions that give you a considerable advantage. This really is a scenario where knowledge is power.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Take extra care to ensure that what people tell you is actually true. However, we live on a planet where for many people, deception is a way of life. Question the obvious, look carefully at what seems unusual and even inquire about what seems perfectly normal. The thing you don’t want to do is let things slide and hope for the best. I’m not suggesting you change your nature and become a suspicious person. However, your trusting nature does not always work in your favor, and it’s often an excuse for slacking a bit and not verifying what people say to you. Sometimes it takes guts to ask a follow-up question, much less ask for documentation. I suggest that you do both, and take various steps to reality check, that is, check your own perceptions. And for a while, hold yourself to the same standards of verification.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You may not be able to make head or tail of what someone close to you is going through, feeling or becoming, though don’t let that stop you from having fun with the experience. Yes, this is the extra zesty kind, and it’s probably not on the menu. What you may be concerned about is how others will perceive your experience, which is in reality nobody’s business but your own. If privacy means anything, it’s the right to feel and to experience intimacy in the way you choose to. Anyway, the shape of your chart is describing you going against the current of what is popular or considered a matter of common sense. Every factor in your astrology is pushing you to think for yourself, which means having exactly the experiences you want to have, for whatever reason you want to have them.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You simply must experiment. Whether this is with art, with ideas or with sex (or better still, all three), a rare combination of factors is taking you into your own personal avant garden. You can go beyond anything ordinary, which seems to be what the planets are conspiring to get you to do. The feeling of doing this is taking a risk. I don’t mean dancing on the edge of the roof. I mean the sensation of going into unknown, strange or unpredictable territory. Allow yourself into that state of mind where you don’t know what will happen next. Then once you’re there, consciously allow anything to happen. You can afford to have some misgivings that you consider and disregard. You are in a contained space; there are natural limits in place. Get to that spot where you know you’re pushing them.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — It’s obvious that your ideas about life go well beyond those of your family and very likely your closest friends. They are more concerned with keeping things tidy and organized than they are with discovering what is possible. Right now you are being drawn into acknowledging desires that would make many people around you nervous. When I say drawn into, I mean that it’s like you’ve been picked up by a current and are being carried into a place that you know you have in you all the time, but which recently seems to have stirred to life in an unusual way. What you’re feeling is the intensity that comes from inside you, needing no external stimulus. What is coming in from the outside is making things more interesting, adding some flavor and diversity. The creativity and passion are coming from you. Remember!

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — What may have seemed like a great idea may no longer seem that way — though there are a whole bunch of better ideas on the way. One of the themes of this year and of the foreseeable future is focusing yourself, which is another way of saying that the result of every day must be some form of work product. Work itself is not enough. Being busy is not enough. Making money is certainly not enough. It will help you immensely to establish a discipline associated with the projects you’ve had in mind for a while. Start with one of them. Break it down into steps and start taking those steps. Persist every day, not allowing the distractions of the world to get in the way of what you know you want to do. Around this basic daily practice, something much more comprehensive can grow. Commit your energy daily — preferably at about the same time every day.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Be careful with money, and slow down the implementation of your business plans. A short delay now will save long delays later in the year. Take the time to get it right, and to plan your timing carefully. I suggest that with anything of a financial nature — that is to say, involving outlay of cash, unusual use of credit, or new plans for income — go on pause until around Feb. 14. There are some things that may not be able to wait, though if you evaluate them carefully you may find a workaround. Unless there is some kind of absolute, inviolable deadline, explain to others that you’ll be ready to sign or have that paperwork in a few weeks. Where money and commitments are concerned, it pays to honor Mercury retrograde.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — The Sun ingresses your sign in a few days, followed by a rather spectacular New Moon, followed by Mercury stationing retrograde in your sign. That’s a lot of Aquarius and that suggests an unusual degree of activity for you, some unpredictable events, and a new phase of your inner journey. In fact the ‘inner journey’ has been the main theme of your charts for several years, and I suggest that you take a survey of where you’ve gone. Declare the Mercury retrograde that ends on Feb. 11 a kind of review period, where you tell yourself the story of what you’ve experienced the past six years. Start with a list of the major events, changes of location, career moves, relationship developments and your own creative plans. You will get an idea how much territory you’ve covered. That, in turn, will help you figure out what you want to do next. Clearly, something is brewing.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Mars in your sign is stoking up your desire to live and to make contact. Mars in the fashion of Pisces is a self-sustaining creative dynamo. Monday, Mars focuses an exact conjunction to Neptune, which feels like connecting to some elemental source of who you are. You’re likely to have a drive to express that in some way, and I suggest you make contact now and let that inspire you for the next couple of years. Then next week Mars connects with Chiron, in a conjunction that will remind you how much strength, awareness and power you hold in your hands. That is more than a metaphor — Chiron almost always expresses itself through the hands, whether for healing, loving touch, some creative enterprise or digital (manual) contact with the wider world. Mars won’t be back in Pisces till the end of 2016, so get it while it’s hot.

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