Current Transits for August 2004

Here's some of the important astrological news this month ...


Pallas enters Leo, 8-4
Jupiter Square Pluto, 8-6
Saturn Trioctile Uranus, 8-7
Mercury Retrograde Station at 8Vi46, 8-9
Mars enters Virgo, 8-10
Saturn Opposite Chiron, 8-15
New Moon at 23Le31, 8-15
Jupiter Trine Chiron, 8-15
Jupiter Sextile Saturn, 8-17
Full Moon at 7Pi03, 8-29
Pluto Direct Station at 19Sa32

An online ephemeris for the month is available.

General Outlook for the Month

August may not feel as crazy as late July was, but it is certainly busy and hectic in its own way. There's an incredibly long list of important aspects and other events to talk about this month, including some new long term influences that are just entering the scene. There are a couple of significant planetary storm patterns to get through that feature a lot of outer planet activity, though nothing as powerful as the huge July storm. Much of the month is dominated by strong mental-intuitive influences where the thinking mind is missing a few cylinders and needs to fall back on the gut level instincts more than usual. This is also a time when old karma and ongoing life lessons are coming to a climax, due to Pluto standing still on the 30th. These Pluto stations are always a time when it's important to stand back and look at your situation objectively, because it's frequently the case that things you've held near and dear are passing out of your life. The more you struggle to hold onto these parts of your life that you've outgrown, the harder Pluto turns the karmic thumb screws -- it can get unpleasant and messy if you're not paying attention. It's one of those cosmic jokes that this is the time of the Republican National Convention in New York. The convention is hemmed in by two important stations like a pair of bookends: Pluto is standing still on the 30th at the beginning, while Mercury is standing still on Sep 2, the final day of acceptance speeches and the like. Given the divided and tempestuous mood in the country, the protests at the conventions could be quite "exciting" (and probably badly handled by the authorities). It will be a very interesting time to gauge the mood of the nation.

August has more than its share of "big aspects" to discuss, at least 5 of them by my count. Many of them are the final contacts of aspects going back to last fall or earlier, while 2 are new influences coming to the fore. In short, we're in a transition period where new energies are starting up and some closure with the past is required. There are also 2 sign changes and 2 stations to talk about (with 2 more stations in early September). It's a busy month indeed!

Pallas moves from Cancer into Leo on the 4th. She will stay here until Sep 27, when she drifts into Virgo. Among many other traits, Pallas Athena was a patroness of the arts for the ancient Greeks. Since Leo is a sign of self-expression, the coming weeks are a time for creative or artistic expression of some kind. Granted, few of us are Mozarts or Van Goghs, but there's a creative spark of some kind in all of us, usually deeply buried. For most people, "unproductive work" like this is generally discouraged and we forget to indulge it by the time we grow up. But any activity that expresses your individuality and your private viewpoint of the world is food for the soul. Let your inner world dry up and all of life becomes blander, more lifeless, less of an adventure. It's impossible for me to tell you what ignites this spark for you -- only you know that for sure. So live a little (literally) and let that side of you come out a bit more often. There's an entire world within you waiting to be explored.

Jupiter is square Pluto on the 6th. This is a quick, single pass aspect that is not repeated, with the energy taking about a month to build up and another month to dissipate. Jupiter represents the way we move beyond our little private worlds and reach out to the larger scene all around us. It's how we become members of society, with all the advantages and responsibilities that entails, choosing to entwine our lives with the greater story going on around us. While this sounds like it's full of goodies and benefits (and it is), the social life also demands a price of us. As we learn to live our lives on the outside, so to speak, it's easy to become estranged from the inner life. If anything, Pluto is the power of the inner world to enter and transform the more superficial parts of our stories. He says business as usual will no longer cut it. There's a calling in your life that society knows nothing about, that living on the outside can never prepare you for. Since this is a square, the conflict between these two directions is sharp and unavoidable. If you feel a vague kind of discontent with day-to-day life, this may be one of the influences bringing up that feeling for you. It might be a good time for you to break out of your everyday ruts for awhile and try something different. If you follow your instincts, they may lead you in some unforeseen directions that have more to offer you. It's important to keep an inner eye focused on how you interact with others during this time. Pluto has a well known manipulative side, which Jupiter is apt to exaggerate, and there's the potential for a nasty scene with others if you become too heavy-handed. Just stay optimistic and don't take this period too seriously. After all, it's over soon enough.

Saturn is trioctile Uranus on the 7th, the first of 3 such contacts. The next contacts coming up are on 2005-2-17 and 2005-6-11. It's hard to imagine two planets as opposite as Saturn and Uranus are. Saturn is about structure and form, age and tradition, stability and responsibility. It's the parts of your life that seem solid and changeless, maybe even stuck in a rut. Uranus, on the other hand, is wild and unpredictable, intuitive and impulsive, the revolutionary tendencies that overthrow the status quo. Things are "out of control" with Uranus, as forces beyond our everyday world erupt and overturn our "usual" way of living. With trioctiles, the conflict between these two tendencies seems to originate in the world around us (as is often the case with so-called unconscious forces), as though an inner crisis is being played out via the outer world. As is typical with Uranus, it's nearly impossible to say beforehand what areas of life will be affected (did I say "unpredictable" yet?), but it's apt to be some area that is out of touch with current conditions and stuck in the past. It's not enough to say "go with the flow" and just give into the changes in a case like this -- Uranus has no sense of proportion as to when enough is enough. This is a curious question of balance. Saturn is slow and plodding, ready to maintain present structures indefinitely, while Uranus is an amped up, high octane, stick your finger in the socket way of life, changing everything constantly. Living at such high speed is hard on the nervous system and leads to excessive stress (which we modern people don't need more of). There's a middle ground in here somewhere, where change is embraced and followed, but at a pace that is easy-going and sustainable. Basically, we need to live more consciously, not more rapidly. Work smarter and more intuitively, more playfully (something Saturn knows little about), but at a pace you can sustain for the next 10 months. It gets easier with time, if you don't resist.

Mercury is standing still on the 9th at 8Vi46, about to start 3 weeks of reverse motion. It stands still a second time on Sep 2 at 25Le44, as it prepares to resume normal motion. Mercury retrograde is famous for turning your thinking brain to mush. The thinking part of the psyche is responsible for making sense of the world through words, stories, pictures and symbols -- it's the part of you that picks up a book or turns on the TV and computer. Usually his running commentary on things is sufficient to make sense of it all and give us the ability to cope and function skillfully in the world. However, no story is ever complete and all our knowledge forever falls short of the complexity of the real world. During Mercury retrograde, this humbling truth is more evident than usual. This influence breeds confusion and screwups, as the Mercury mind trips up over and over in the face of stubborn reality. Facts you thought were true turn out to be contradicted, agreements with others come undone, grand ideas and plans wind up riddled with holes. Even the physical body seems klutzier than normal, as the communication pathways in the nervous system seem to operate inefficiently. This retrograde cycle puts Mercury directly opposite Uranus for the next 6 weeks (there are exact oppositions on 8-1, 8-18 and 9-13), so the mental damage may be more obvious than usual. Uranus is also a "mental" planet of sorts, though it operates more intuitively and unconsciously, through hunches, not thoughts. Mars is also part of this picture, which implicates the physical body strongly and clouds the mind with rather assertive ambitions and emotions. Just keep in mind that the "reality" you perceive now is not half as true as you believe it is -- misunderstandings are the norm. Suspend your judgment, don't rush to conclusions, check things out two or three times. It's good practice for our modern, crazy world.

Mars enters Virgo on the 10th and will be in this sign until Sep 26. After the flamboyant, me first attitude of Mars in Leo since Jun 23, Mars in Virgo is a bit more quiet and sedate. However, I feel this is still a pretty good placement for our Warrior God. He can be headstrong at times, blasting ahead in whatever endeavor catches his fancy that moment, without thinking or planning ahead. With Virgo, he needs to learn a little skill and finesse for a change. It's not just raw power that matters now, but strength applied consciously with skill and foresight. In other words, work smarter, not harder. It's the difference between a bar room brawler and a martial arts master -- strength plus insight is unbeatable. Hone your skills and practice your routines, perfecting your craft along the way. Being a master is truly a path worth pursuing.

Saturn is opposite Chiron again on the 15th. This has to be one of the oddest aspects I've ever studied, due to Chiron's highly elliptical orbit around the Sun. This is the 23rd contact out of 27 contacts spread out between 1986 and 2006! In fact, it took a vacation in the middle between 1995 and 2003 -- Chiron pulled ahead of Saturn during this time, forming a quincunx, then dropped back again. Obviously, there's a persistant lesson here that needs to be looked at. Chiron was well known for his healing abilities. In modern usage, he often represents the darkest psychic wound we carry within us and the initiatory impulse that allows us to move past that restriction. With Saturn, there are a wide number of options for what this wound may be. Easily, one of these lessons involves our attitudes towards work. All too frequently, work becomes all consuming and literally eats up the rest of life. We're slaves to this notion that we have to be busy and productive all the time. If we only played and rested as hard as we worked, this society would be much healthier. There's our notions of respect for authority and tradition that keep us in thrall to a past that is increasingly irrelevant and leaders that fail to look out for us. There's a need for structure and safety, our mental security blankets, that causes us to barter away our freedom and autonomy. Notice that this contact and the next one on Dec 27 encircle both the fall national campaign and the November elections. Given that the upcoming contact aligns with the Mercury-Pluto opposition in the US chart, our current attitudes towards government are being tested (just watch out for the spin doctors!). People in power like to stay there, but it's up to us to decide whether they do or not. Cherish your power to decide.

The storm kicks in around the 8th and by the new moon a week later is in full swing. This is a very active chart -- only Neptune appears to be on the sidelines. Roughly speaking, the planets break up into two groups, one at 5 to 8 degrees of each sign and the other around 20 to 23 degrees. The first group contains Venus, Pallas, Mars, Mercury, Ceres and Uranus, a very "mental" pattern. The second group consists of Saturn, the Sun and Moon, Jupiter, Pluto and Chiron.

First of all, it may be a highly "mental" chart, but Mercury is retrograde and the thinking mind is on the fritz. With Mars and Mercury directly opposite Uranus, there's a lot of confusion in the air. Thoughts, feelings, intuitions, gut instincts are all mixed together and oddly, your feelings may be the most trustworthy now. Things aren't much clearer in the world at large either. People are feeling a lot of hurt and betrayal these days, or they may be hanging onto old, false hopes, more out of habit or fear than conviction. It feels sometimes like something big is going to snap, especially as we near Pluto's station at the end of the month. As unsettling as confusion can be, it often marks very fertile times of change as old realities and certainties fall away and are replaced by something new. Be careful to keep your anger in balance in coming weeks, as tempers are close to the surface and easily kindled. People's hurts are also out in the open, so treat them (and yourself) with more TLC than usual. The next few weeks are certainly a touchy time.

Also on the 15th, Jupiter is trine Chiron. This is the last of 3 such contacts, with previous contacts on 2003-11-6 and 2004-1-5. Jupiter is the other side of the social coin from Saturn, so it's interesting that Chiron is contacting both of them today. (The fourth member of this party is Neptune -- remember the big Yod I've been talking about since last fall?) Apparently, our Jupiter side is also on the wounded list. As I said earlier, Jupiter represents our behavior to reach out to the world and take advantage of those connections. It's our enthusiasm and passion for broadening our horizons and taking in other ideas and viewpoints. Jupiter seems to work smoothly for very few people. Most of us can't seem to prosper and move beyond our social restrictions. While there are many reasons for this lack of success in life, some of the most insidious are the beliefs we carry inside that we can't have the gifts that others do. Lack of confidence and self-worth is just as crippling as lack of opportunity. At least those beliefs are something you can work with and let go of. Abundance is much easier if you aren't shooting yourself in the foot at the same time. Relax and enjoy life more -- it's better than you let on to yourself.

Which leads us to Jupiter sextile Saturn on the 17th. This is also the last of 3 contacts, with earlier connections on 2003-11-1 and 2004-5-1. With both planets ruling the two sides of the "social contract" (as I like to call it) in aspect like this, the tendency is to look out on the world stage for some major changes and breakthroughs. Sextiles are generally known for opening up windows of opportunity for people willing to put in the effort to succeed. In particular, the larger 20 year Jupiter-Saturn cycle that began with their conjunction on 2000-5-28 (at 22Ta43, on the Israeli Sun) has been critical for Middle East politics. I was hoping this time would produce some sextile breakthroughs in this troubled part of the world, but it seems nobody is willing to make the first move. Not only are the Israelis and Palestinians still fighting, but a power struggle in July within the Palestinian ruling class threatened to turn into civil war. In Iraq, which was been under Iraqi control for a month now (at least in name), it's hard to tell if this mess is an insurgency or a civil war. I must confess I'm confused how a struggle against the West and the "infidel" is now routinely Arab on Arab warfare. I don't think we handled this Yod well at all. Domestic politics are no better, with the coming election turning into a battle between the red and blue states. About the only encouraging sign is the rising levels of indignation at the grass roots that may yet simmer over into a demand for change. The trouble with opportunities lost is that sooner or later, the cycle reaches a tough spot where things deteriorate even further. In this case, the square aspect in 2006 may be more difficult than it needed to be. Let's hope we make some progress before then.

The full moon chart has two main opposition axes going on, connected by 45 degree aspects: Sun opposite Moon and Uranus, Chiron opposite Venus and Saturn. Except for Jupiter, the rest of the planets are pretty quiet. Oppositions signify a tension of opposing forces, points of view that are at odds with each other, but still need each other. Both axes fall in earth and water signs, so there's much tension between the emotions (what feels right and good) and more practical, down to earth assessments. Both sides of this tug-a-war must be given their due, but it's so typical that we each emphasize one side over the other. Balance is quite elusive now, particularly with people you are close to. It also seems partners come down on opposite sides of these axes, making for incompatible approaches butting into each other. Yes, be practical; yes, be compassionate. Yes, it's tough being both at once. But it beats misunderstandings. Give it a try in coming weeks...

Finally, Pluto is standing still on the 30th at 19Sa32, about to resume normal motion. He's been retrograding since Mar 24, when he turned around at 22Sa15. Pluto retrograde cycles are always an intriguing phenomenon to watch (although it's better from the bleachers than on the playing field), especially the time of the direct station. These cycles are about making you more true to your calling in life, whether you want to or not. Pluto has a way of calling your bluff, of letting you know (in no uncertain terms) that your conduct is not a true reflection of who you are at a deeper level. Whether it's an area of your life that you've outgrown but still hang onto, or some inauthentic pretense that you persist in, Pluto slowly separates you from this stuff during the cycle. Granted, we generally respond by trying to hold onto this area, trying to make it work again, which only makes Pluto turn the thumbscrews even tighter. I like to describe the direct station as the time when the shit hits the fan and buries it. Hanging on is no longer an option. It's time to let go finally and leave the whole mess behind you as you move on. We're always a bit lighter and leaner after a Pluto trip. It's the universe's way of reminding us we are spirits on this planet, doing our duty and that the concerns of the ego mean little in this game. It can get messy the last part of August and early September, so cooperate with the process instead of rebelling against it. I find it most fascinating that the Republican convention starts today. The Mercury direct station on Sep 2, when Bush is trying to give his acceptance speech, doesn't help either. One way or another, a naked display of power is at work and it may not be pretty. It certainly won't be boring.