Here's some of the important astrological news this month ...
Gemini Pileup, early May
Venus conjunct Mars, 5-10
New Moon at 21Ta32, 5-12
Neptune Retrograde Station at 10Aq59, 5-13
Ceres enters Aries, 5-14
Vesta enters Cancer, 5-14
Mercury Retrograde Station at 9Gm59, 5-15
Jupiter trioctile Uranus, 5-17
Uranus quintile Pluto, 5-19
Saturn opposite Pluto, 5-25
Full Moon / Appulse Lunar Eclipse at 5Sa04, 5-26
Mars enters Cancer, 5-28
Jupiter quincunx Pluto, 5-31
An online ephemeris for the month is available.
As I started mentioning last month, "the Giant" is waking up from his long winter's nap. The Giant is a powerful configuration of the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto and lately Chiron that has been affecting us since last August. It's widely considered by astrologers to be responsible for our current war on terrorism. After being extremely active last fall, this pattern went to sleep most of the winter (as President Bush's war got derailed by the Israel-Palestine quagmire). Typically, slow moving planets like these go through 3 phases of activity, as the aspects between them are repeated 3 times over many months. During May and June, all these old aspects that started last fall are finishing off their final contacts, indicating we are coming to the final chapters of these influences. Just to make a point, these aspects are supercharged by a series of 3 eclipses coming up. Needless to say, the next two months should be a highly volatile time on many fronts. Look for a lot of "old business" that needs to be finally settled. Life may feel like a very demanding blur at times, but it will definitely be a memorable period in hindsight. Take a deep breath and run with it...
There's enough astrological action in May to fill up 3 average months. This includes 4 "big aspects" (3 of them finishing up their influences and one important one just getting started), 3 sign changes and 2 planets going retrograde. We are also entering an eclipse season, with the full moon on the 26th being a lunar eclipse.
As part of the big storm in early May, there's a 5 planet pileup in the sign of Gemini. The big 5 include Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Vesta. If you drop out Vesta (which is invisible) and throw in Jupiter next door in Cancer, you have all 5 of the visible planets known to the ancients in a dazzling display in the western sky at sunset (in case you haven't heard the news lately) -- go take a look! All this Gemini stuff gives this storm energy a fast-moving, changeable nature that requires a lot of adaptibility to handle well. Take things lightly and don't get attached to outcomes. The emotional tides are extremely strong this week and it's easy to get sucked under by it. With Saturn as a key member of this group, you may be asked to handle difficult situations responsibly. Make the most of this time.
You would normally think of a Venus-Mars conjuction as a recipe for romance and passion, but this one may be more than you bargained for. This conjuction (at 18Gm17) is also conjunct Saturn, opposite Pluto, and hitched up with Juno and the Sun as well, making this an incredibly complex influence. The emotions run much deeper and more hot-blooded than usual, and partners' true motivations are unclear at best. And with both people boiling over inside, it's more important than ever to listen to each other better and treat them respectfully. This is probably an "interesting" time to get to know your true feelings about someone special, but the picture is often contradictory and ambiguous. Close relationships can be confusing like that. In fact, the more confusion, the deeper the connection right now. If done well, this is a recipe for great intimacy, all the way down to our wounded cores. Deep in our hearts, we all want to be loved...
The emphasis in the new moon chart is still on the Venus-Mars configuration, extending the life of that potent pattern for the next lunar month. The energy coming up could be quite enlightening, since there's a wide "Mystic Rectangle" going on. Yes, relationship issues are coming to the surface, but it's also a time to step back, call a time-out, and take a fresh look at things. Life is full of lessons, so "problems" wouldn't show up unless they had solutions. The closest contact to the new moon point is a tight square to Juno, the queen of relationships herself. The inner self (Sun and Moon) may be at odds with what it takes to be around others, but such friction is the stuff that makes the soul grow. This month is really a time to open up the heart center.
Neptune is standing still on the 13th at 10Aq59, about to retrograde for 5 months back to 8Aq12. More often than not, when Neptune is active like this, confusion reigns. Neptune's influence resembles a hall of wavy mirrors. Things are distorted and unclear and even the most noble endeavor can have a dark side that trips you up. Given this feeling of unreality in the air, it's best to go slowly and carefully, trying to double-check every step along the way. Avail yourself of other people's points of view as much as possible -- just don't take their advice too seriously, since they are as confused as you are. This summer is a time to reassess your goals and dreams in life, to ask yourself whether they still make sense in the context of your present realities. The highest aspirations of yesteryear may be the traps and deadends of today -- nobleness of intention is no guarantee that your dreams are serving your current situation. If you need to make decisions now, proceed slowly and carefully. Ultimately, your decisions need to come more from your heart than your head. Be brutally honest with yourself. The more clarity you achieve now, the less the troubles and complications you'll experience down the road. Stay positive, optimistic and idealistic, as negative thinking has a way of snowballing under this influence. If you encounter problems along the way, they are simply signs that you need to make some adjustments in your path. Stay flexible. Neptune resumes normal motion on Oct 20.
On the 14th, Ceres enters Aries for an extended 10 month stay, due to an upcoming retrograde cycle. Ceres is the Great Mother of the solar system, the symbol of nurturance and caring. This kind of maternal giving is natural in the selfless sign of Pisces, but the "me first!" sign of Aries is a whole different story. The trouble with being a person that gives and gives and gives is that eventually the well runs dry and you have no more to offer. Sometimes, you just need to take care of yourself awhile and rebuild your own reserves before you can be of use to anyone else again. Life is about balance, bringing in energies, transforming them and sending them back out to the next person. We are all part of a great "Web of Life" that acts to support each other. Unless you take in as much as you give, your usefulness in this web is limited. Notice that Ceres is in Aries a full 10 months, not the usual 3 months or so for an asteroid. Obviously, we really need to focus on this lesson this year. Take care of yourself, then love others -- it works better that way. Ceres moves into Taurus on 2003-3-13.
Also on the 14th, Vesta slips into Cancer. This placement can be quite a balancing act. Cancer describes our emotional connections and sense of belonging with other people that we are close to. Vesta, on the other hand, is a loner. She needs to withdraw from the world periodically in order to get in touch with herself at a deeper level. There's a tendency to vacillate between being closely involved with others and wanting to pull back. It's particularly tempting to pull back from those relationships that are tedious or don't support your true nature, since they seem to sap your energy and leave you feeling limp and uninspired. It's a time to reevaluate these relationships and let those people pass out of your life, if necessary. You may even feel like withdrawing from the good relationships with people that truly support you. They'll understand if you go away and will be waiting for you when you come back. Just have faith in them. The good people won't fail you -- you'll know the difference. Vesta will pass into Leo on July 22.
The 15th is Mercury's retrograde station at 9Gm59. Time to put your brain cells in mothballs, again! Mercury is the thinking, communicating mind, the part of the psyche that attempts to capture the world in a web of words and symbols. Usually he's pretty good at this, but during these retrograde cycles, the world always seems to slip through the holes in the net in some startling ways. Avoid making big decisions and commitments, if you can. Double-check all your assumptions 2 or 3 times and leave yourself room to back out if you need to change your mind later. No matter how clever you are, the world is always going to defy your expectations sometimes. No symbol system is perfect or complete enough to capture God like this. Mercury in reverse gear is a lesson in humility, a fable on the hubris of the thinking mind. It's a good time to realize that the psyche (your complete nature) is not the same as rationality, especially a deadening mind that seeks to pigeon-hole everything. It's a very liberating freedom to attain. Mercury will go direct once more at 1Gm51 on June 8.
Jupiter is trioctile Uranus on the 17th, the last of 3 such contacts. The previous contacts were on 2001-8-19 and 2002-1-18. This aspect represents a clash between two modes of thinking, namely the conventional wisdom of Jupiter and the intuitive, "crazy" wisdom of Uranus. Jupiter has a very outgoing, optimistic manner, but his attempts to understand the world are usually unoriginal and lacking in details. He represents "the way it's always been done" and has trouble breaking out of those old habits. Uranus is great for busting through those old ruts, with a type of intuitive and iconoclastic insight that resembles a lightning bolt. However, it seems these two ways of thinking are at odds with each other right now, with a strong tendency to go to one or the other extreme. Even climbing out of your ruts can be overdone, especially if it means becoming so unconventional that you can't relate to mainstream people anymore. There's a middle path in here somewhere that needs to be sought out. Be certain to bounce your ideas off other people if you want a reality check. Overall, however, this can be an exciting and stimulating aspect (assuming you avoid going overboard) -- enjoy it.
The 19th brings the first contact of Uranus quintile Pluto. This is an unusual connection that is repeated 7 times over the next 3 years, ending on 2005-2-12! I've been anticipating this aspect for quite some time. Uranus-Pluto aspects tend to be disruptive and transformative, overturning the old order quite thoroughly. Their conjunction in 1966 was one of the major influences that kicked off "the Sixties"; their sextile in 1995-97 (starting with the Oklahoma City bombing) was no slouch either. Quintiles are a curious connection, however. They have a marked mental flavor, an ability to intuite new patterns or ideas that creatively remake the landscape. The next few years could be a revolution on a broad social level, as the world is forced to cope with intractible problems that defy old solutions. I'm not sure what to expect yet (and with these two planets, the only safe expectation is the totally unexpected anyhow), but this could be a very exciting time. And it will certainly be easier to deal with than their difficult square aspect coming up in 2012-2015 (another 7 pass contact!). We'll have to keep an eye on this one!
The opposition of Saturn and Pluto on the 25th, one day before the lunar eclipse, could be very dramatic. This is the final pass of 3 contacts (2001-8-5 and 2001-11-2 also), an indication that a long process is coming to a finale. This opposition is one of the important "9-11" aspects that shook this country and the world to its foundations. Saturn-Pluto contacts have a reputation historically of turning the global status quo on its head and this round of contacts has certainly lived up to that image. Saturn represents solid structure and existing realities, while Pluto is the force of evolutionary change. With the opposition setting up a tug-of-war between these forces, something critical is about to shift or break. We've already seen many of the "realities" of our world transmute the last 9 months and the process is far from complete. There are deep collective impulses at work, pushing our world in directions that we can barely imagine now. Things that we take for granted are up for grabs. It's best to stay away from the darker and heavier sides of these planets at this time. There's no need to make matters worse by giving in to these behavioral shadow areas. That means acting responsibly, avoiding "power issues" with others, exhibiting an air of openness, honesty and optimism. Fortunately, this energy starts to lift in a few weeks. It will feel good to have things lighten up.
Eclipses are known as the initiators of important changes. This one comes right on the heels of the Saturn-Pluto opposition on the 25th, so it may be more momentous than most eclipses. Look for "results" in about 3-6 months. Fortunately, this chart scatters its planetary energies about, blunting its impact on us, which should make this influence easier to take. With Venus conjunct Vesta now and opposite Chiron, there's an urge to withdraw affections some and lick some inner hurts awhile. Uranus is also dragging to its retrograde station on June 2 (28Aq50), so there's an element of whacky, unpredictable energy in the air. Look below the surfaces if you want to understand what's happening. If the Giant has any more news for us, it should happen this summer.
Mars enters Cancer on the 28th for about 6 weeks. This is one of the least comfortable placements for our Warrior God. Cancer is an emotional sign where sensitivity to the feelings of others is paramount. Mars, the planet of will power and ego expression, doesn't even know how to spell "sensitivity", let alone display it. In short, he has to stuff his usual brashness and swagger to take the needs of others into account, and the shift doesn't really suit him. I suppose this placement is useful if you need to work with others and take their concerns into account, but it can be frustrating and often requires a lot of work for little results. It's probably best if you can play some kind of protective role for others, as that gives Mars something to do -- it's better to give him orders than let him run amok. Be patient. It will feel better when Mars moves into fiery Leo on July 13.
The quincunx of Jupiter and Pluto on the 31st is another aspect of the Giant pattern. This is also a last of 3 contacts, with previous contacts on 2001-9-19 and 2001-11-26. As I've said on previous occasions, this aspect seems to talk about a conflict between the privileges of being a civilized member of society and a deeper, more primitive and compelling level of the psyche that is still wild and independent. Jupiter is the social role we put on, a mask or "persona" that allows us to glide effortlessly through the world and take in "the goodies" around us. Individuals have a lot to gain by this behavior, since it gives us access to relationships, resources and ideas that nobody could attain all on their own. But it comes at a price, because after a time the mask gets stuck. We lose track that the mask is only a means to an end, that it really doesn't represent the deeper person underneath it. That person behind the mask is Pluto, your genuine inner self, and as the years roll by, he becomes very resentful of being forgotten and ignored. It becomes more painful to "get along" in life than to confront that more primal world within, regardless of where it takes you. As with many stressful aspects, the big question is not a black-and-white choice, but a matter of balance. How much of a mask are you willing to hide behind, how much freedom do you choose, how much authenticity can you bear to reveal? This may not be a very dramatic contact (although its effects are magnified by the Giant), but it does force a sensitive individual to take on a certain philosophical/spiritual outlook on life that governs how you live. Sometimes the subtle decisions in life are the most powerful in the long run.