The Sun, Mercury, the Star and the Solstice

Dear Friend and Reader:

On Saturday the Sun ingresses the sign Cancer, an energetic high point in what for many has been a challenging year.

Before that happens, though, there’s an unusual event today. Mercury is currently retrograde, and at the midpoint of that process, Mercury, the Earth and the Sun line up — that is happening today, Thursday, June 19, and is exact just before 7 pm EDT.

Betelgeuse is the bright red-orange star to the left side of the photo. It’s part of the constellation Orion. According to Ptolemy, is nature is that of Mars and Mercury and it’s associated with sudden turns of fortune. Photo by Rogelio Bernal Andreo.

Technically this is called the “inferior conjunction” of Mercury and the Sun. However, I see no need to demote it in any way, so I call it the “interior conjunction,” as Mercury is between the Earth and the Sun right now — that’s why it’s retrograde.

What makes this event especially interesting is that Mercury, the Earth and the Sun align exactly with a fixed star called Betelgeuse. I’ve noticed how active this degree of the zodiac is many times; it’s been associated with all kinds of weirdness (in particular, environmental disasters and false flag events), as well as people who take a stand against injustice.

I have never had a dark feeling about this point, however. Rather, it’s always pointed me in the direction of the truth as well as those who value the truth. In classical astrology Betelgeuse is said to be of the nature of Mars and Mercury. This is about thinking on your feet.

It’s also associated with sudden turns of fortune, mostly positive, but when it’s under stress, it can be violent. I would consider today’s alignment to be strongly aspected, and I consider this emblematic of an opportunity or opening of some kind.

This is made more interesting by the fact that the whole alignment is in a close opposition to the core of the Milky Way galaxy — what I usually call the Galactic Core, located in late Sagittarius. I think of the Galactic Core as a homing signal, calling us to the center of our vast island in space — the center of the spiral.

This is especially meaningful given how far our Sun is from the core, about 25,000 light years, located between two of the spiral arms. We are really in an outlying, rural area of the galaxy.

Rather than making predictions about today’s alignment, I would remind you that astrology is often what you make of it. Rather than being good or bad, aspects and alignments are tools that we can use, if we open our minds to doing so. This takes a blend of knowledge, awareness and conscious choice.

Six Months of Planetary Retrogrades

I keep hearing about a sense of struggle or unusual challenge that goes back to November, around the time of the eclipses. After that, many in the northern latitudes experienced a brutal winter, and our bodies are finally convinced that the glacier that was outside the front door has retreated. Now the Cancer solstice is upon us and in the Northern Hemisphere, the days will be getting shorter.

Since the Capricorn solstice six months ago, we’ve experienced a series of retrograde inner planets — first Venus, then Mercury, then Mars and now Mercury again. Inner planet retrogrades are more palpable than other ones. They don’t last as long but they often seem to go on forever.

Mars retrograde as seen from Earth. This image is a still taken from an animation that gives you an idea how strange retrograde motion is. That loop is what you pick up on emotionally.

The most recent time anything like this happened was two years ago, in the spring of 2012 — remember the Venus transit of the Sun? That was no ordinary Venus retrograde. It was surrounded by other retrograde inner planets, loading that era with what felt like enforced changes. What we just experienced this year was no ordinary Mars retrograde, between Mars being in Libra and also part of an over-the-top cardinal grand cross aspect that was exact on Jan. 1 and April 23.

Part of what happens with inner planet retrogrades is that inner material comes up for healing. Retrogrades turn awareness inward, which is not the natural tendency in humans (that’s why we have a word for ‘poet’).

Along the way, Mars has made a series of provocative (for some, angry or resentful, and for some, action-oriented) squares to Pluto. It made a series of unpredictable (shocking or jarring for some, revelatory for others) oppositions to Uranus. And the repeated squares to Jupiter have had a protective effect, or an exaggerating effect, depending on how you take them.

Count yourself lucky if you’re one of the people who has experienced this as energizing, or if you powered through it. Many have been ground down to the point of wanting to give up. Others are wondering when the pressure is going to let up.

Tonight’s Mercury-Earth-Sun alignment is a moment of clarity. What you learn today can be profoundly helpful going forward, but the information may be like a self-deleting email — print it out the moment it comes in. Mercury continues retrograde in Gemini and will station direct on July 1, neatly ending the first half of the year and ending our phase of four successive retrograde inner planets.

Cancer Solstice and the Gateway to Life 

The Sun ingresses Cancer on Saturday, June 21 at 6:51 am EDT. This is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere — the Earth has tipped in such a way that the upper part of the planet is angled toward the Sun. For those in the northern latitudes, the days get shorter from here. A new season begins and the Sun ingresses a cardinal sign, one associated with action and initiative.

The Sun from the tarot card “Light” by Charlie Lemay.

Alice A. Bailey in Esoteric Astrology describes Cancer as the portal into incarnation. Quoting an ancient occult source that she does not name, she says the sign Cancer is “the gate which stands wide open, broad and easy to pass through,” to this dimension here on Earth, where there is typically so much struggle and strife.

She also describes Cancer as being the sign that helps newly self-aware individuals think for themselves and find their place among others who think for themselves. Many times in Esoteric Astrology, Bailey draws the distinction between mass consciousness — the herd mentality that we see acted out all the time — and group consciousness, which requires individuated beings who join for a defined purpose. This can take some time to mull over but after a while it makes perfect sense.

Bailey’s approach to the sign Cancer gets some validation from an astrological document from the Hellenistic era called the Thema Mundi. This is the chart of the world, though it’s not a literal horoscope; it’s part teaching device, and part agricultural device (for measuring the seasons).

What is interesting about the Thema Mundi is that the chart has Cancer rising. In other words, in the presumptively oldest horoscope, Cancer, not Aries, is on the eastern horizon. Modern astrology habitually associates the 1st house with Aries. The Thema Mundi is suggesting that something else is possible — that there is a connection between the 1st house and the sign Cancer.

This suggests the theme of the sign Cancer as a focused point of identity and individuation, as well as the gateway into incarnation. We could say a lot about the Thema Mundi, though I consider this to be the most significant fact about it.

One thing about Cancer is that it’s rapidly cycling (like the Moon). Cancer on the 1st house describes humanity not as assertive/aggressive, Mars-oriented and warlike; rather it is described initially (by the rising sign) as empathetic, family-oriented, and in this form, as a portal into existence. (For clarity, the 12th house, located right next to the 1st house, is associated with gestation, and the 1st house or rising sign is associated with incarnation.)

An analemma — the Sun photographed on the same piece of film from the same location approximately 40 times. The crossover points are the equinoxes; the extreme points of the figure-8 are the solstices. Photo by Anthony Ayiomamitis.

If you consider the sign Cancer as associated with the 1st house, that puts Aries as the 10th house of career, achievement, reputation and the king, which is appropriate since working the 10th house takes so much drive.

Capricorn moves to the 7th house: the house of relationships is overlaid with the sign associated with structure. That describes the highly structured concepts of relationships that most people possess. How many people do you know who can live within flexible structures and also maintain a sense of commitment?

Libra becomes associated with the 4th house of security and home — the sign of balance and beauty (and relationships) is associated with the place where we want to feel safe and where many of our relationships happen. Libra on the 4th is a reminder that beauty begins in the home. If you want to be happy, live in a place you consider beautiful. Choose your colors and design your surroundings.

I call this adjustment of the horoscope, based on the relatively recent surfacing of the Thema Mundi, the 90-degree shift. This is more than adding a layer to the already many-layered study of the celestial wheels. It’s a reorientation away from a concept of humanity as obsessed with individual power, and toward considering it in more gentle terms, as a tribe where taking care of one another is the thing to do.

Personally, I would rather live in a society that has the Moon as its guiding light rather than Mars. We still need Mars, for sure, but right now I think that the gentle, reflected light of the Moon, and the counterbalance it provides us, and the respect for intuition, for inner light and for Mother, will serve us better at the moment.


Weekly Horoscope for Thursday, June 19, 2014, #1003 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — You’re about to experience a moment of clarity that you might experience as transient, or as a subtly disguised opportunity; be alert, and know in advance what you want so that you will have a better chance of recognizing it when you see it. The Sun’s ingress into Cancer is your invitation to make this opportunity real. So make space for whatever this is in your home, and invest time and energy into developing it. Pop astrologers of the 1970s were right about one thing: Aries tends to be a strong beginner and not so strong at completing things. Connect your motives and tap into your incentive. Your drive may be coming from the practical side of your nature, the visionary side of your nature, or the rebellious one — mix and match, whatever it takes. This could be hot.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Help, cooperation, friendship, freedom — something you want is much closer than you think. It may be so close you’re looking right over it. It’s a little like the guy who feels like your brother or the woman who feels like your sister, so you don’t bother thinking about them as a potential lover. Or it’s the thing you just do because you do it, and you don’t think about it as a career. It’s the thing that feels so normal you don’t notice how special it really is. Therefore pay attention to the ordinary, listen for the transcendent wisdom coming from someone you thought was just average, and honor the changing of the season at least three ways. That, too, is an example of the amazing in the everyday — the main thing being, it’s not really every day.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Divide your focus evenly within and without; on your own projects and those of people around you. Look for opportunities to get involved. There’s a meeting point between what is distinctly your own and what is something intriguing, exciting or different that someone else is doing. Don’t worry, you’re not invading or jumping on someone else’s train. The entire universe is aching for, and ripe for, collaboration. This will benefit any form of partnership, wherever it lands on the friend/lover spectrum. Another quality you can work with is that of concentrating resources. You have plenty, though it seems to be a bit scattered — try gathering like with like in one place. Arrange your life in such a way that you get a sense of how much you’re working with. Cash in all those pennies and buy a notebook.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — You cannot process your entire reality emotionally. The way you know you’re doing that is that you’re experiencing things you cannot put into words. Once you can translate something into words you know you’ve reached the mental plane. Listen to yourself and as you describe something that you’re experiencing, using words or images different from what you’ve used before, you’ll be able to assemble your thoughts like the pieces of a puzzle. Notice exactly what those words and images are and soon you will be able to take over designing your life like an engineer creates a bridge, first on paper and then in the physical world. When you do this, you’re evoking one of the most relevant spiritual principles in existence, which involves relating both to and from your soul no matter what you are doing.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Saturday the Sun changes signs into Cancer and this should help set you free from the idea that you have a lot of options, none of which seem to count for much. In fact, all of your options count, and they count for more if you see them as working together rather than as against one another. The sensation may be like settling an argument with yourself where both sides come out winners. Or you may get to the place where you know you didn’t make any sense before, then suddenly you do — a development that may actually describe slipping into your senses and having the world appear in a more vivid way. I would remind you, personally, that within you is the source of all healing. The conscious and willing focus of intent on something or someone calling out for healing can and often does have an influence that could only be ascribed to a miracle, which in fact it is.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Inch by inch you are treading in the direction of some unusual success. This could take many forms, but the most beautiful form it will take is accountability. Grab that stuff with both hands till you’ve fully embraced the idea that you are entirely and gloriously responsible for your own life. Celebrate the power of decision, even if it’s between corn-syrup Coke or Mexican Coke with actual sugar. Choose consciously everything you do, whether you think it’s good for you or not. Practice being the master of your destiny — for several days on end. Get into the feeling. Remind yourself when you wake up every morning, no matter how you may feel. Remember especially when you wake up on the morning of the 22nd.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — You may finally be letting go of some residual anger and resentment, but also feeling a sense of loss. All you really need to do is to be conscious of this fact, rather than keeping it stuffed somewhere. The tides of your life will be turning rapidly over the next few days, and it will be vital that you stay focused on the moment you are in, which is another way of saying be present for your own life. Options are likely to open up suddenly and unexpectedly, and if your mind is in any way preoccupied with the past, you will miss what life is offering you. Note that this might be an exit path from any number of situations that you are not happy with. Yet you must take a break from arguing for what is impossible and instead come to an understanding with yourself that in truth anything is possible, if you keep an open mind.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — The Sun’s ingress into Cancer this weekend is telling you that it’s time to take a wider view of your own life. That probably means figuring out how narrow your perspective may currently be, so that you know where exactly to stretch your boundaries. How many miles do you consider to be a long distance? How many years a long time? What achievement would you define as being truly significant? As part of this review, I suggest you consider your parents’ expectations for themselves and notice some of the ways you may have taken them on. To the extent that you’re pushing against something or experiencing resistance, you might consider whether you’re trying to surpass a limit that was set during your upbringing. This might even stem from the limited worldview of a grandparent that has been passed down the generations. It’s time for you to determine the boundaries of your own life. Remember, you live in a wider world than nearly anyone who came before you.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Remember the element of chaos in passion. Remember that when you choose to feel, you don’t always get to pick which feelings come up. Most of all, remember that long ago you decided you don’t want your life to be predictable. Yet this means giving up control, or rather, the illusion of control. You cannot make decisions for other people — count yourself fortunate that you’re aware enough to make some decisions for yourself. Yet ultimately you want to make all of your own decisions, which is the only control you need — and it’s also about the closest you can come to an assurance that life is indeed fair. The other assurance is to keep your promises, and focus on making sure that others keep their promises to you. I suggest you conduct an inventory of unfinished business in this aspect of your life, and strive for full integrity.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You may find yourself filled with a kind of ambition you have not expressed in a long while, or even dared to let yourself feel. I suggest you do this as the slow, steady burn rather than as some kind of revolt or revolution. Every bit of authority, influence or power you gain must be tempered by devotion to service and remembering that you’re accountable for every use of that power. Imagine that everything you say and do is part of the public record — that you can have no secrets. Imagine that you are responsible not just for everything you say but also for everything you hear, read and see. That may seem intolerable, or like too much pressure. Yet in a sense it’s true, and it’ll help you because the choices you make will continue to have an impact on other people for quite a while to come.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You must be realistic about money. There are multiple factors saying that you’re not necessarily doing that, and other factors that suggest you have significant ability to do so. Success will come from taking a practical approach to the whole subject — basics like understanding where your money comes from and where it goes. That kind of information is a matter of fact, not of speculation. The deeper level is making sure that you are doing what you understand to be correct, and then working with others who share this same core value. They do exist. There are also people who exist who are pretending to do so, and it’s essential that you be able to sort out who is who. The most significant quality to look for in any potential collaborator is a sense of fairness. The other is someone with whom ideas flow easily.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — The Sun enters one of the most dynamic areas of your solar chart over the weekend — what in astrology is known as the 5th house. This also happens to be your fellow water sign Cancer. Within this mansion of heaven are most of your most passionate dreams of creativity and connecting with others. One key to this house working is to make sure you risk something to get something. A theme of our particular era of history is to risk nothing to get everything. What I suggest you risk is taking initiative (approaching people rather than expecting them to approach you), immersing yourself in pleasures that don’t involve a controlled outcome (making music rather than listening to it), and most of all, approaching life with the trust of a child. At the moment you may be the only person you know who wants to live like this. Once you step up to the challenge, you will find others.

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