Here's some of the important astrological news this month ...
Mercury Retrograde, 3-2 to 3-25
Jupiter Retrograde Station at 18Sc51, 3-4
Full Moon / Annular Lunar Eclipse at 24Vi04, 3-14
Jupiter Square Neptune, 3-15
Juno enters Cancer, 3-28
New Moon / Total Solar Eclipse at 8Ar35, 3-29
Pluto Retrograde Station at 26Sa45, 3-29
An online ephemeris for the month is available.
Numerous people have asked me lately what is happening astrologically. Despite there being no big planetary storms or major events, people report the weirdness factor in their lives is way up and they are becoming very stressed out. Perhaps the biggest incident of recent weeks was the bombing of the Shi'ite mosque in Samarra on Feb 22, a tragic event that could have spilled over into civil war if the authorities hadn't locked down the country a few days for people to cool off. Except for the Sun and Uranus (explosions) rising in this chart, there's little connection in this chart with previous "war on terror" related charts. It was quite puzzling to me, but perhaps this lack of connection is the reason things cooled off again. Anyway, the first three weeks or so of March continue this quiet and unfocused pattern we've been seeing since January. The last 10 days or so of March is a significant planetary storm, pregnant with potent astrological forces that threaten to spill over into all areas of life. The month is marked by 3 retrograde stations (Mercury, Jupiter and Pluto), giving the feeling that we are in a pressure cooker and the pressure is slowly starting to build. This is exaggerated by the two eclipses this month. The total solar eclipse on the 29th, with Pluto at its station right during the eclipse, is perhaps the indicator of why the world seems so crazy. Through all of March and April, Pluto is less than half a degree away from the Galactic Center (GC), that giant black hole power source that lies at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy. In fact, Pluto is only a sixth of a degree off the GC when it stations, as close a contact as humanity can stand for the moment and a preview of 2007 (when the conjunction is exact 3 times). Whether we know how to handle it or not, humanity is unconsciously tuning into energies which we have no experience on how to surf successfully. The doors to the unconscious are swinging wide open once more and the puny efforts of the ego and the rational mind are powerless to contain it. These portals, though thankfully rare, are dangerous times. Perhaps we'll muddle through OK somehow, but there are no guarantees. We are entering exciting times, as the old Chinese curse goes.
The main news this month are all the retrograde stations: Mercury, Jupiter and Pluto. Jupiter square Neptune is the only "big aspect". Juno moves into Cancer on the 28th. And don't forget that both the full and new moons are eclipses.
Mercury is standing still at 26Pi55 on the 2nd, starting 3 weeks of reverse motion. It backs up to its direct station of 13Pi10 by the 25th, at which time it resumes normal motion. The entire retrograde zone is in the sign of Pisces. Now Mercury rules over the thinking and symbol using parts of the psyche. When it is in reverse gear like this, the thinking mind seems to miss a few cylinders now and then. This affects our ability to understand and manipulate the world around us, as well as communicate with the people we meet in our daily lives. I like to think of Mercury as the Story Telling part of the mind, the part of us that spins endless yarns about how the world works, what the characters in our play are doing and our place in all this. Normally, these stories are pretty good and allow us to navigate through life without much thought. Mercury retrograde is not normal times, however. The dirty secret of the thinking mind is that reality is always bigger and more complicated than any of our explanations can encompass. Eventually, we run into situations that don't fit the pattern we've determined. Life looks a little crazy and unpredictable, because it doesn't fit into the "rational" box we've set up for it. If you are running into situations this month that don't make sense, it's actually a wake up call for you to look at life from a more inclusive perspective. Even more critical is to realize the limits of rationality itself, that the human mind can't understand everything. It leaves some room for wonder. Be careful when you're around other people, because it's very easy these days to say or do something that can deeply hurt or offend them without even trying. All that Pisces influence not only muddies our perceptions and creates confusion, but it raises people's emotional sensitivity and unleashes their martyr complex. Emotional interactions, in particular, make no sense these days. Be patient and make ample room for ambiguity. By early April, our minds should be getting back to normal.
Jupiter is also standing still at 18Sc51 on the 4th, beginning 4 months of retrograde motion. It backs up to 8Sc58 by July 6, when it returns to normal motion. Jupiter represents the basic human drive to move out of your own backyard into the world at large, to meet people, to share belongings, exchange ideas and stories, to enrich each other's lives. This social urge is the means for expanding your own borders and making your life fuller. When Jupiter is retrograde, this extroverted fellow doesn't have quite the energy he usually does for such adventures. He's more retiring and inward, needing to pull all his resources towards him instead of spreading it around. His normally jolly, fun loving face and voice are more subdued. Particularly since this entire retrograde zone takes place in the sign of Scorpio, people may be withdrawing to mull over their "emotional stuff" and other moody experiences. Give people a wider berth these days, as they may not appreciate your intrusions. All this has important ramifications in the business world, one of Jupiter's specialties. Clients seem to be in a less spending mood during Jupiter retrograde, as though they are clutching their wallets tighter in a metaphorical sense. The flow of goods, services and money becomes sluggish and less abundant. If you are in business for yourself, this is a time to cut back on expenses and husband your resources for a few lean months. The problems come if you continue in your normal ways without recognizing that your support has dried up. It's all too easy to dig yourself into a hole that you can't get out of. For all the emphasis on Jupiter's worldly aspects, it's hard to remember his flip side. Working in the inner world produces riches of its own in terms of wisdom, compassion and inner strength. This greater understanding of our humanity is another quality of Jupiter that rarely gets mentioned and is often overlooked, except during these periods of reverse motion. Life is more than money and good times...
The energies look rather scattered and unorganized by the full moon, but there are several patterns worth noting. Plus this is an eclipse. The Sun and Moon form a Grand Cross with Juno and Pluto, a symptom that Pluto energies are already revving up for us. Stay away from the less developed or more negative parts of Pluto, such as the scheming, covert manipulation or even overt misuse of power. While you might be able to get away with some of that on a good day, between the presence of Juno and the upcoming Pluto station, I'd say your chances of creating a backlash are quite high. Play it high minded. Ceres, Chiron and Venus (all at 6-8 degrees of Aquarius) indicate a somewhat dispassionate, but caring approach to people is best, though your intentions may still be misunderstood. The other major group consists of Jupiter, Neptune and Mercury (all at 18 degrees of various signs), giving an eclipse "supercharge" to the Jupiter-Neptune square tommorrow. This adds a dreamy quality to the current situation, dulling the rough Pluto energies somewhat. This chart may be a sleeper -- I suspect it may have some tricks hidden up its sleeves.
Jupiter is square Neptune on the 15th. This is the second contact in a series of 3 contacts for this aspect. They met previously on Jan 27 and have one more contact on Sep 24. This aspect makes more sense in the context of Jupiter's retrograde cycle. Just as Jupiter reaches out to the outer world, Neptune operates easily in the inner realm. There's a need to not just reach out to others, but to merge with them at a heart level that is often described as mystical in nature. Jupiter recognizes there is a big world out there that needs exploring, while Neptune operates on the assumption that I and the world are One and this unity can be experienced within. The Neptune experience is one of the most difficult to describe or understand and the pitfalls and blind alleys along the path are numerous and seductive. However, when a critical amount of "aha!" happens along the way, a number of typical experiences confirm your growth. There is a lessening of the power of the ego and the need to be the center of the world in an outer sense, plus a powerful connection and involvement with the inner, unconscious realm. The depths of the psyche become a living, vital reality, not just a theoretical construct. In addition, a new kind of connection between the inner and outer worlds becomes active. Often called synchronicity or manifestation, it's a tendency of the inner world to attract people and things in the outer world that mirror your beliefs and feelings. Inner and outer become a reflection of each other and the artificial boundary between them seems to melt and disappear. It's all very confusing when these borders fall, because it leaves you in a realm where magic is more real than the rational world we grew up believing in. Anyway, this is a square, an aspect that indicates conflict, contradiction and a need for realignment. It's fitting that Jupiter is backing up, since that lessens the connection with the outer world and its distractions, allowing the subtle characters of the inner darkness to emerge. We need to grow up and become more sophisticated in our approach to the psyche, to see how we project our plot lines on the world and bend reality to our beliefs. We're all magicians all the time, but most of us are unconscious of the fact. We just see the strange stories unfolding around us and wonder where they came from. You can't understand the world until you take responsibility for your Neptune. Learn your way around now. At the third contact this fall, Jupiter takes the lead again. By then, you will be expected to be a conscious mage. The price of unawareness is too great after that.
Juno moves from Gemini into Cancer on the 28th, where it will stay until it shifts into Leo on Jun 5. Juno is the queen of relationships and partnerships. Like all royalty, she demands some respect. Her terms for the relationship include being trusted, supported and treated like an equal, terms she is more than happy to reciprocate. The flip side is that if you don't show her this level of acceptance or somehow take advantage of her, then the deal is off and she will likely turn on you. The negative side of Juno includes a lot of righteous rage, jealousy and all around bitchy behavior. It's best to stay on her good side. Such back biting displays are an indication that she sees the balance of power as stacked against her. It makes no difference whether the imbalance is real or imagined, since perception is everything. Address the issues and get the misunderstandings behind you. In the sign of Cancer, there's a marked emotional emphasis on family ties and a feeling of belonging. Essentially, Juno is wanting to build a home where everyone is loved, accepted and recognized as an individual. The relationship becomes an emotional refuge from the storms of the outer world, the place where we deal with people that we can't necessarily trust. She needs a warm place where she can let down her guard, relax and be herself. She can't blossom if home is also a battleground. It's easy to see this story in black and white terms, split into roles of me vs. you or male vs. female. That's a very superficial understanding of this dynamic. We all have some Juno in us, in all her various moods and views. Each of us wants to love and be loved, but also fears and rages against emotional betrayal. All too often we see only one role in ourselves and not the full expression of her energies. It's all about opening the heart energies a little wider, even past the boundaries of the hurt and fear. Treat others this way more often and see how they respond in kind. It's contagious.
There are numerous intriguing details about this chart for the solar eclipse, too many to fit in a few paragraphs. The big news, of course, is that Pluto is at its retrograde station right during totality. Besides the Sun and Moon, the strongest planets are Mars, Venus, Neptune and Jupiter, in that order. Mars is quintile the eclipse point, a quirky aspect that promises a few surprises. Curiously, the US is having a Mars return today, so issues of how we use our power and influence may be in the limelight in coming weeks. (This is also where George Bush has his Uranus and North Node, so he's affected by the eclipse, no big surprise.) Pluto itself is almost unaspected, as though it's a ticking timebomb hidden away somewhere. The behind-the-scenes stories may elude our sight for many weeks to come.
I suspect we will be hearing from this chart throughout the spring and summer. We are sowing the seeds now that may not germinate for quite some time, but the long term effects of the energies today are going to be remarkable. Be flexible and willing to change direction, especially if Pluto decides you're headed down the wrong path. At the same time, take charge of your life and work towards some serious and tangible changes. The worst sins now are complacency and passivity. Just follow a path with heart...
Pluto is at his retrograde station of 26Sa45 on the 29th, standing still and ready to start 5 months of reverse gear. He backs up to a direct station of 24Sa04 by Sep 4, at which point he slowly resumes normal motion. This station is the 800 pound gorilla lurking in the shadows all through March and April. First of all, Pluto's retrograde cycle is always an important astrological indicator of life-transforming trends for people, especially the stations. Second, this station occurs at the exact time when the total solar eclipse of the 29th is going on, a planetary wake up call if ever there was one. And third, this station is a mere 1/6 of a degree away from the Galactic Center (GC), currently at 26Sa55. In fact, all during March and April, Pluto is no further than half a degree from the GC. In lieu of any other obvious suspects, I'm beginning to suspect that much of the weirdness in the world lately is due to this conjunction. The conjunction of Pluto and GC is close now, but next year it will be exact 3 times, releasing the full intensity of this potent transformative event. OK, let's take this slowly. I've noticed over the years that these retrograde cycles coincide with times in which it's important to let go of some part of your life that has been dear to you for a long time. You come to think of this part as quite integral to who you are, but from a more soul level perspective, it's quite incidental and even a hindrance. We all get too comfortable with living at a certain level of awareness and arrange matters to stay in this comfy zone. However, spiritual living is about growth, not standing still. No matter how much you've accomplished to date, there's still more ahead of you and the status quo eventually becomes a weight that holds you back. Enter Pluto, who has an uncanny tendency to talk to us from this soul level. He pretty much decides what the hindrances are at this time and proceeds to pry them loose from your grip. At the retrograde station, his promptings are little more than a whisper or a nudge, easy to overlook. The usual response is to ignore his hint and carry on in the same old manner. Pluto is insistent, however. His message gets louder and stronger until he gets through to us. If you ignore him all the way to the direct station, his call is so strong that he is literally ripping his target from your grasp. Your life can be very dramatic during this cycle, a series of attempts to hold onto something that you simply can't retain any longer. They no longer serve a useful purpose in your life, so Pluto decrees they be gone. There are two basic approaches to these cycles. The first is the path of cooperating with Pluto. If you don't resist the process, he performs his surgery on your life, you grieve, you move on to the next stage of life and the new challenges it holds. In the other approach, your instinct is to hold onto the old lifestyle and keep your life from falling apart. Pluto still performs his surgery (with no anesthesia for the stubborn), you scream, yell, resist and go through a lot of pain -- and then you grieve and move on. The only thing you're resisting is yourself and your own growth, so there's no reward for holding back. The eclipse only adds a giant exclamation point to this dramatic process. In other words, get the message as soon as possible and realize you need to let go. The ego and its desires are no match for Pluto.
As for the part about conjuncting the GC, we are going through the warm up exercises now for 2007 when the conjunction is exact. The GC is an astrological energy even deeper and more powerful than Pluto, with an ability to unleash transformations on humanity that we can't even imagine at our current state of development. The joining of these two energies in the sky marks the coming several years as a make or break time for the planet, a time when entire peoples must make the decision to let go of beliefs and interests that threaten the peace and stability of the entire planet. Each person must decide what is too precious to let go of and what areas they are able to release. This requires a level of understanding that few on the earth have attained so far, but which needs to become commonplace in short order if we are to avoid the more terrible consequences. Sagittarius has long been associated with religion and philosophy, and Pluto's passage through Sag since 1995 has seen a phenomenal growth in more fundamentalist beliefs that threaten us all. Perhaps even religion must be relinquished in the name of spirit. The world is entering a dangerous time, but a time filled with great possibilities, if only we collectively get our heads on straight. Do your best.
P.S. -- Keep an eye on Iraq around this time. Ever since the US invasion on 2003-3-19, five days before the retrograde station that year, the situation in Iraq seems to intensify and become more violent and problematic at Pluto's stations, both retrograde and direct. The whole country is playing out the "death and rebirth" theme of Pluto, and the worst may still be on the way. Also, Israel has their parliamentary elections on March 28, the first post-Sharon election for them. It should be interesting...