Mercury Retrograde, Full Moon and Biophilia

Dear Friend and Reader:

The sky is focused on Pisces these days, with some significant natural features in the landscape approaching. As a reminder, this is no ordinary Pisces time — currently the Sun, Mercury, Mars, Chiron and Neptune are collected there. And Venus is on the way.

It does happen from time to time that quick-moving inner planets collect in Pisces or any other sign; what we now have is a mix of inner planets and two slow-movers — those would be Chiron and Neptune. These are still relatively recent arrivals, and as the sensory, visceral, emotional inner planets move through Pisces, they accentuate the slow-movers’ presence.

Clearly Jupiter, which rules the sign Pisces, was invented by a Pisces. Here, the Great Red Spot and other features in the planet’s southern hemisphere are revealed by Voyager 1. Contrary to popular belief, Jupiter is actually denser than Saturn.

You could say this is a moment of recognizing when the ordinary has a touch of the cosmic to it, the multidimensional, the unusual. There is so much happening in Pisces that you may feel a little overwhelmed by the emotional bath, the psychic input and how absorbent you are. When in doubt, take a hot Epsom salt (or sea salt) bath.

Saturday, Mercury turns to retrograde motion in Pisces. Mercury retrogrades happen three times a year, and they occupy a span of about three weeks or about eight weeks, depending on how you measure (I tend to take the long measure for most purposes).

This particular one is suggesting strongly to allow information to come to the surface before you make major decisions or take action. It is organized in many layers, and there will be a long series of revelations over the next six weeks or so.

This is the first of three Mercury retrogrades in the water signs this year. I covered these in an earlier article called Water Sign Theater. The fact that all three retrogrades of Mercury happen in water signs is just one aspect of the emphasis on water in the charts for 2013, the Year of the Water Snake. This seems designed to teach us something about bringing our thoughts into harmony with our feelings, and to learn how to distinguish them.

Most people need to learn how to do both: to harmonize and to differentiate. It’s rare that intellect and instinct align; it is often that emotions cloud over the process of reason. In these seasons, and particularly over the next few weeks, we get to sort that out.

Mercury then turns direct on March 17, a few days before equinox, though the retrograde process will still be working itself out until April 6, when Mercury leaves the degrees where it was previously retrograde and enters new territory.

Virgo Full Moon is Monday 

We also are sailing into a Full Moon on Monday, Feb. 25. This is the Virgo Full Moon, with the Sun in Pisces and the Moon in Virgo (at the Full Moon, the Moon and the Sun are always in opposite signs; that’s why it’s the Full Moon). This one is loaded — the Moon and Sun are both square Jupiter, the ruler of Pisces.

Chart section for the Virgo Full Moon showing planets in Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces and Aries. The Moon is exactly opposite the Sun. Notice Mercury about to retrograde into a conjunction with Mars, and Venus about to change signs.

That’s a lot of collected energy, looking for a place to go. It may manifest as the sense that I have to do something; I have to put this energy somewhere. Given the many factors involved, the key will be to consciously devote that energy to some constructive, creative and life-affirming purpose. It will be easy to slip, such as to emphasize something that does not help you.

One thing to be aware of is that retrograde Mercury is about to form a conjunction to Mars. Mars-Mercury is ‘fast thinking’ and ‘pointed words’ — and the retrograde cautions a careful check-in before letting the arrow fly.

Checking in means considering whether you really want to communicate what you’re about to say, or whether you’re saying it because it feels good. This is about considering the consequences before you speak or publish something.

In this chart, Venus is conjunct the centaur Nessus, which has taken many conjunctions in recent weeks (the exact conjunction is Saturday, though it is still well within range Monday). This is the last of them for a while, and it may be the most potent. To me this looks like Venus encountering the fixed ideas of our society that have shaped the lives of women — including the fixed ideas that women may hold about themselves. These might be the internalized fixed ideas of participating in a society that seems to be biased against them, which suddenly manifest in some tangible, physical or emotional form.

To me this chart overall represents a situation (or many situations) that have to be dealt with; a decision that must be made. It’s a highly aware kind of squeeze point. The thing to remember is that you’re likely to have an option that you’re not noticing. If you feel cornered or like all the pressure is on you, look for the opportunity for a win-win that is lurking just off to the side of your thoughts. It’s a clever solution that utilizes existing resources, and it IS available.

The presence of Jupiter can act as a magnifying influence. That can be a distortion; the planets seem to be saying: keep your perspective. Remember to see the bigger scenario and to maintain a sense of scale and proportion.

Looking Ahead at March 

Venus ingresses Pisces on Feb. 25. It makes a conjunction to Neptune on Feb. 28 and a conjunction to Chiron on March 5. Venus-Chiron, especially in Pisces, to me is about biophilia. This concept suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems, which one might think is obvious — except for how most humans act, as if they are separate from nature.

Coxing Kill on the Grandmother Land in Ulster County, NY. Photo by Eric Francis.

Sociologist and living systems philosopher Edward O. Wilson introduced and popularized the hypothesis in his 1984 book, Biophilia. He defines the idea as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life.” He also describes it as “the innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike process” — the affinity for life. Venus-Chiron can also point out the ways we have denied this simple fact of existence. In other words, you might find yourself noticing the pain of separation from nature and the longing to make contact.

In Pisces, this might be a deep and full-spectrum feeling. You may experience it on the cosmic level, for example as the yearning for a feminine experience of existence or of divinity. I’ll come back to the idea of biophilia when this aspect is closer.

The Pisces New Moon is March 11. This is another very exciting chart with plenty of tension coming from Pisces planets making squares to Jupiter, the ruler of Pisces. The New Moon shifts the tension within, instead of encouraging outward projection (as the Full Moon seems to do).

In this chart all but two of the traditional seven “lights in the sky” — the planets of antiquity — are gathered in Pisces, with the exceptions being Jupiter and Saturn; and these latter two are included in the aspect structure. Many planets in the Pisces group square Jupiter and trine Saturn.

My impression is that this is a deeply introspective chart. Many factors call us inward: Mercury retrograde in Pisces being one of them; Mercury square Jupiter for another; and that retrograde Mercury in a long conjunction to Neptune. Yet there is also the feeling of going in deep and expressing something that you feel profoundly.

Critter poses for a photo on the Grandmother Land in Ulster County, NY. Photo by Eric Francis.

Mars ingresses Aries on March 12, crossing the ‘personal is political’ Aries Point — the dependable conjunction of the individual and the collective. Mercury stations direct on March 17, and the Sun ingresses Aries at the vernal equinox on March 20.

The movement of Mars through Aries will be noticeable, particularly because this highly energetic planet will be making a conjunction to Uranus on March 22, followed by a square to Pluto four days later. Late March is likely to be one of those contentious times in world events, when it seems like everything is happening all at once.

As these events unfold, there remain many planets in Pisces — urging a realistic perspective on what’s happening in the world. Mercury, newly in direct motion, will be making many conjunctions and other aspects through this whole phase. And it seems to be asking the question: what have we learned from the past?


Pisces Birthdays: Within, Without

There are two simultaneous trends in your solar chart right now. Many factors are guiding you within, including Mercury retrograde and a diversity of planets square your ruling planet Jupiter. This is prompting some soul searching, as well as reaching within for your best ideas and the motives that connect to them. It will be the connection of these two things that keeps you ‘in gear’ and driving forward, making progress through the year. Yet the Full Moon is seeking some form of expression in the world, and the concentration of planets in your sign is making you into a kind of magnet. So there may be tension between inner and outer reality, though as I suggested rather emphatically in LISTEN, the imperative is for you to honor your introverted, introspective side — the one where you make contact with the you nobody else knows. This is the inner space where you’re in alignment with yourself and the sources of your ideas and energy. I am not suggesting that you become a recluse — indeed, getting out a bit more will be a lot of fun and more interesting than usual, since you’re more visible than usual. I am saying honor your inner self and you will feel stronger and be much happier.

Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope for March 2013 (standing in for Planet Waves Weekly #939) | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — Confidence is everything on this planet — if you want to do things, that is. I know there is wisdom in insecurity (borrowing an idea from Alan Watts), and that humility is a necessary ingredient of trust and truly being human. Yet these things must feed confidence rather than erode it. At a certain point, you must take action, and that works best from a place of faith and trust in yourself. I am not talking about swagger, but rather a hunch that you’re doing the right thing by trying, rather than knowing that there will be a perfect outcome. Making peace with the uncertain outcome is a big part of the confidence or trust that I’m describing. You have many reasons for that trust, but it’s time to go beyond any form of rationalizing or mentally establishing your validity. Connect with the feeling of substance within you. I reckon that sensation will be pretty strong, perhaps stronger than ever, if you allow yourself to tune in. Don’t distract yourself with appearances, particularly with any form of glamour. There’s an old expression — don’t let your confidence come from your feet. The place you want it to come from is your heart, and it will, if that is where you focus. Feel the fullness of your soul, the richness of your imagination and the hyper-charged sense of potential. Then get ready to take your first step on a journey that’s likely to lead you in an entirely new direction.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You have more friends than you imagine, and ‘friend’ is not a word I like to use casually. I mean that many people are available to you, they are looking out for your interests, and they like and respect you. I suggest you tune into that ocean of goodwill and give yourself permission to participate in a more direct way. You also have more dreams and desires than you may imagine, though considering them may have the effect of escorting you out of what you have previously thought of as your comfort zone. The current astrology is an invitation to come out of just that zone, and to find not a fixed point of stability. You’re being invited to move, to dance, to encounter something different every time you tune into your senses. The idea ‘psychic mobility’ comes to mind. Yet you could easily be overwhelmed by the kaleidoscopic possibilities. In the midst of them all is one particularly interesting undercurrent that is drawing you into your deepest desires. All the other stuff still exists — then there is your awareness of the one idea, experience or person that you want the most. It might manifest as an attraction, a curiosity or some kind of introspective journey that does not involve an activity or another person. Yet ultimately, your life is not about ‘the world’ or your friends or your potentials — it’s about how you experience them, and choose from among them. Now that you have options, you can set priorities and have a lot of fun.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — This could be one of the most interesting moments in your ‘professional life’, though you might want to drop the first word in that phrase if you want to understand it more clearly. I know that there is plenty of counseling to ‘keep your work and your life separate’ and about ‘how you should not mix business and pleasure’ and most of all to keep your work and personal relationships separate. These ideas might work for some people who are not really living, and who are not desiring a life wherein they express their true existence in their daily activities. I’ve been listening for a while and what I hear is most people yearning, craving, sometimes positively mad to spend their time doing something meaningful, creative, productive and loving. That is exactly what is calling you now. I suggest you start modestly. Do not think in terms of an end destination — that’s the old method, the one that almost always goes stagnant. As you may know, Mercury will be retrograde the first half of the month. And it will be retrograde in the house associated with your professional activities and reputation. I can sum that up briefly: you’re here to do your thing in your way — which may be different from the way you thought of in the past and certainly different from what others have expected of you. Therefore, if you feel inclined to do things differently, to follow an intuition and to go against the grain, that is the way to go.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — More is going on behind the scenes than you may recognize, and you may be feeling this as anxiety, potential or a mixture of both. Your charts have a sense of mystery to them, of something that is soon to emerge — and it will, soon enough, and when it does you will be ready for the changes. I suggest you refrain from making too many plans. If you’re going to address the future, stick to a very few of the most meaningful things you want to do or create, including some travel plans around which I suggest you organize your time. Get clear where you want to go and why you want to go there, organize your ideas about time around them, and then start to put your plans into action after the Sun changes signs to Aries later in the month. A few long-distance trips you take this year can have a profound influence on your perspective. If possible, try to include one trip overseas or to a country other than where you live now. Travel is the kind of experience for which there is no substitute. Nothing can show you what a journey can: immersing yourself in a foreign culture, seeing people and places you’ve never seen before, and looking back at your life from that point of view. Meanwhile, consider the places you’ve always wanted to go, and develop your short list of potential destinations. The chances are you know exactly where you would go, if you could go anywhere.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — You’re fully invested in what you are doing — and if not, now is the time to give yourself that freedom. This is about depth, and it’s about connecting with others who have a similar sense of mission or similar vision. You’re being invited into a collaboration or ‘conspiracy’ of some kind, and it will be most pleasurable if you bring your full attention and true willingness. Indeed, your whole life may be vibrating with this feeling right now. This is very much a matter of relationship; most of life is, though when people join for a purpose, that can be especially meaningful and beautiful. Unlike most people, you don’t need to worry about losing yourself in your relationships, at least not now; your sense of who you are is too strong for that. I would remind you how this fear can and does keep many people from doing what they feel called to do, which is the fear of ‘getting lost’ in that very thing. Make contact with when this may have influenced you in the past, when you were far less steady on your feet. Free from that anxiety, the collaboration you take part in may have a ‘it’s time to change the world’ feeling to it. Remember, that’s exactly what you’re doing, even if in subtle ways. What you believe may challenge what others believe, though I would remind you that you’re not alone in your passion. And what others may think of you is far less meaningful than what you know to be true.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You could easily be overwhelmed by the astrology that seems to be making you the focus of attention, or drawing others to you as if you’re some kind of human attractor beam. You might feel an urge to resist or rebel against this, preferring instead to maintain your sanctity. I would encourage you to do nothing of the kind, but instead to pass through this creatively rich territory willingly, absorbing the nutrients, the experiences and the diversity of the people around you. Indulging in the pleasure of people and of life is often a matter of trust as much as it is of willingness. Many miss out on numerous one-time opportunities due to their unexamined fear, which can be mistakenly thought of as ‘not being ready’. It’s true that you often prefer to keep a lower profile and have your life be less chaotic than you think it would be were you to open yourself fully to existence. I suggest, however, that you ask yourself sincerely whether this policy has served you well. Now is the time to advance rather than retreat. It’s the time to relate, even though you always have the option of being a hermit. You may worry that some aspect of your purity will be compromised by doing this, which is exactly the point. You are creatively fertile, and some potent creative forces are willing to fertilize with you. When that happens, something new will be born — something in you and in the world.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You’re the one who brings people together. Though you may not recognize this, many see you in a kind of authority role. You tend to be so soft-spoken or at least careful that this fact might surprise you. Yet you’re a stabilizing force for those around you. This is a special kind of leadership. It involves respecting what is becoming known as healing process, and availability for service. This is different from being ‘self sacrificing’. Indeed it is everything but a sacrifice; mutual gift would be a better description. Yet at times this can be demanding, and it’s necessary to maintain your equilibrium. This is not the same as a perfect balance; Equilibrium is about staying in contact with who you are, even when you cannot fully express those aspects of yourself. That means staying in communication with yourself, monitoring your feelings and being aware of your own needs. I would strongly suggest you take care of yourself, by which I don’t mean long, luxurious spa treatments but rather making sure you get enough rest when possible, eat actual food and maintain your physical space. Make sure you devote some time to other interests at least every couple of days. This is all in service of something larger. You are being called upon to fulfill some truly profound aspect of your purpose, and there’s really no way to tell where it will lead you, except to say deeper into yourself. I would offer one thought, courtesy of A Course in Miracles: everyone teaches, and teaches all the time.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — What are you worried about? I mean what exactly? Make a list; spell it out. Nobody has to see this list. Include not just your worst nightmares but also what you might think of as personal anxiety, such as about how you’re perceived by the world. Next, what do you want to experience or create? I don’t mean accomplish — I mean dive into for its own sake, to celebrate the beauty of existence? Make a list of those things as well. Question one, which list is longer? Question two, do your fears have any connection at all to why you’re hesitating on certain, or all, of your desires? There seems to be some tension between your anxiety and your creativity, though it’s not exactly rational. The issue seems to be bound up in your self-image — what will people think of you if they know you did or wanted to do this or that really fun thing? I would go so far as to say that most of your actually debilitating fears are connected to how you think people will perceive you, if they only knew. In my philosophy of art and growth, that’s exactly where to pitch your tent — in the spot where you fear others would be most likely to look at you askance. You don’t know if they will, and if they do, it’s most likely because you’re the one who will dare. Yet here’s a clue: there really isn’t a ‘they’. This is all about you.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — To what extent are you allowing your relationships to be dictated or even influenced by your family? This includes your early childhood situation, as well as what these people seem to believe is right for you. One manifestation could be the ‘relationship for security’ equation, which might translate to the one who has money, or the nice appearance, but which has nothing to do with what you actually want. I suggest you sort out your own need for feeling safe from your need or desire to be in relationships to others. Having the right company can help you feel more grounded, though it’s better if that is not the one thing you depend on for a sense of feeling safe or belonging on the planet. Meanwhile, there is this potential matter of how you relate to the expectations of others, and what you perceive as their expectations (whether ‘positive’ or ‘negative’). This situation will summon you to awaken to emotionally-rooted values that guide your life. You may get your buttons pushed, and if you do, I suggest you stop and listen to what is coming up for you, and notice who was involved. The purpose of all this seems to be to get you to pay attention to what you really want, and to claim what is right for you. You are under no obligation to relive anyone else’s past, or your own for that matter. This can be a significant challenge, though it’s one to face boldly if you want to have happy and healthy relationships.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — I suggest you investigate the ways you may be blocking people from participating in your life. I’ll give a few potential examples. One might be alcohol. This is a substance that starts off social and has a way of ending up isolating people. Another is a sense of inferiority or not being able to stand up to the perceived power or authority of others. Another is not being able to state your needs, or feeling like for some reason you cannot do so. This, in turn, may involve suppressed anger or a self-esteem struggle. Usually we think that expressing anger or refraining from ‘bothering’ others with our needs is enhancing contact. Yet I think that an authentic exchange on the level of necessity is much better for enhancing contact. Honesty has a benefit all its own — it’s the substance of intimacy. If you state an honest need or desire and notice how someone responds, you find out where you stand with them, which is information that will benefit you. I suggest you notice when you find yourself thinking that you would rather not know where you stand with someone, which could fall under the general heading of denial. There is a way out of insecurity, emotional struggle and what is commonly called lack of self-esteem — and that begins with acknowledging what is so. When you do that, you can open up to a whole new level of contact. As someone once wrote, “only the truth is erotic.”

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You’re going through a process of exploring your depths and your shadow side, all as part of a search for something within yourself. It looks almost as if you’re searching for self-respect in spite of something, some feeling or idea to the contrary. Yet is this really an approach that you have to take? At a certain point, you must accept and claim your own assets, despite any doubts about yourself that you may have. You will use what you have going for you, despite whatever you might think you lack. While this is not strictly a matter of self-esteem, a habit of doubting or even questioning yourself can in fact block your awareness of your gifts. This is really a choice of whether to focus your awareness on a sense of loss or doubt, or on the incredible wealth you have access to within yourself. If you’re not aware of that wealth, let me be the first to tell you it’s there, and it’s available. You have access to resources — creative, emotional, financial and many other kinds. Some may belong to others, some may belong to you, some are collective resources. The most precious among them is your ability to feel your worth on a planet where so much is not valued, where so much is plundered and where everything seems to be running out. Having a lot in a time of scarcity could be intimidating, you might want to check in and see if that thought form is influencing you in any way.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You’re a magnet for attention right now, and you may have a feeling of confidence that is truly unusual for you. It’s fair to say that you have the power to create yourself into anything that you want, as long as you can envision it in some tangible form. So I suggest you practice that vision, amidst much other activity surrounding you and within yourself. Regardless of who may be drawn your way, and how strongly you may feel about others, I would encourage you to practice the yoga that your primary relationship is with yourself. This will facilitate a kind of strength and stability that will make it much easier to keep your relationships with others in context, and to actually be present for the people you care about so much. Which leads to a nice way to sum up the theme: your life right now is not about being occupied or busy or involved; your life is about being present, as much as you can, all the time, if you can. You have some truly stunning opportunities and shall we say potential that is becoming ripe and ready. When you make contact with that potential, you will unfold in ways you might have known were possible but may have never suspected were actually real. On occasion of which, I will leave you with a few words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.”

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