Here's some of the important astrological news this month ...
Mercury Direct Station at 23Li21, 11-1
New Moon at 17Sc09, 11-9
Mars Retrograde Station at 12Cn27, 11-15
Uranus Direct Station at 14Pi46, 11-24
Full Moon at 1Gm55, 11-24
An online ephemeris for the month is available.
On the surface, November is a very dull, "slow news" kind of month. After all the busyness and activity of September and October, both astrologically and in our physical lives, it seems like the bottom has dropped out from under us. The only notable events this month are 3 planetary stations (when a planet stands still in the sky before changing direction), which come on top of 4 more stations in October and 3 in September before that. It's like the planets are stuck in a traffic jam on the freeway, going nowhere fast. Two of these stationary planets are mental bodies (Mercury and Uranus), indicating the thinking mind is struggling to operate, even at half speed. The other station is the start of a rare retrograde period for Mars. Since Mars is our get up and go, the energy and will power to get things done, we may feel rather powerless to put our plans in action and see some results quickly. Take your time and be patient, especially if you find yourself encountering a string of complications and speedbumps along the way. Mars is telling us to slow down and approach our tasks more carefully and skillfully than usual, rather than just blundering through. Not much to look forward to over the next few weeks, I admit. However, all this down time may come in handy. We've been through some incredibly challenging planetary influences the last few months and such "big influences" take time and energy to assimilate and internalize. Especially as we come off big events like the Pluto-GC conjunctions and Neptune's station at the end of October, we need some space to make these energies our own. I just wish it didn't sound like we were stuck in a rut all month...
There are 3 stations in November, but no "big aspects" or sign changes. As I said, it's a slow news month.
Mercury in standing still at 23Li21 on the evening of the 1st, about to resume normal motion. It's been backing up since its retrograde station of 9Sc04 on Oct 11. Coming on the heels of the Neptune direct station of Oct 31, this Mercury station seems to be exceptionally deadly for the thinking brain. Mercury rules over parts of the psyche dealing with thought, speech and understanding the world and ourselves with symbols and stories. It's the running commentary we have in our heads that allows us to make sense of life, more or less. When it is backing up like this, the emphasis is on the "...or less" end of the spectrum. While each of us generally feels confident and comfortable with our understandings of our worlds, it's truly amazing how tenuous this mastery can be. Our stories are little more than short tales that capture a few details of the grand epic around us, a quick sketch with a few brushstrokes of a picture with infinite detail. Most of the time, as we run around in our hurried lives, these short stories are good enough to help us get by and handle the typical situations we most often encounter. When Mercury is backing up, however, it seems as though circumstances simply fail to stay inside the mental boxes we assigned for them. Between encountering the exceptions to the rule, as well as simply misinterpreting the experiences before our eyes, life dishes up situations that simply can't be explained or comprehended through our stories. Life doesn't make sense anymore, causing a person to fall on his face. Combined with Neptune, the confusion and self-deception is even stronger. Frankly, I'm not normally too affected by Mercury retrograde, but this one has left me feeling tired and unable to concentrate on anything, as if I've been sleepwalking through my life the last week or so. Fortunately, Mercury will start moving at a reasonable pace in a week or so. The same cannot be said for Neptune and soon Uranus, however. This is one mental fog that may not lift for quite some time. Pace yourself. Make allowances for the fact that you probably aren't seeing life very clearly these days, that every time you open your mouth to speak, there's a danger of misunderstanding. And that your brain may be running on half its cylinders. Keep your mental work light and with the option to fix it up later when your mistakes come to the surface. We'll wake up sooner or later...
The new moon falls in the interlude between the early storms, so the chart is rather disorganized and fragmented. The Sun and Moon with Juno nearby form a T-square with Neptune and Ceres, while also forming a loose Grand Trine with Mars and Uranus -- the lunation is the focal point that ties these two groups together. Mercury and Venus combine with Pallas and Pluto to form another group, set apart from the others. Many of the remaining planets are relatively isolated.
Take your pick as to which outer planet energy you want to attend to. The intense emotional nature of the T-square is softened by Neptune's foggy influences. Uranus and Mars are describing the lessons in play for us the coming month, as both the intuitive mind and our ability to affect the world around us seem to backfire on us. Meanwhile, the transformative Pluto-GC action is still going on in the background. We're seeing our world from many different perspectives these days and these viewpoints tend to challenge our basic assumptions of who we are. Holding on to your old assumptions only seems to dig your ruts deeper, while the newer understandings have yet to take on definite form. It's one of those times when the questions are more important than the answers. The focal point is the Scorpio new moon itself, a hint that these issues can only be resolved by letting them fight it out within you. You come out the other end a new person whose perspectives and emotions have been transformed in unexpected ways. It's tough being a living battleground sometimes. At least you can choose (to some extent) your battles.
Mars reaches his retrograde station of 12Cn27 on the 15th, about to start 10 weeks of retrograde motion. He backs up to 24Gm04 by 2008-1-30 before returning to normal motion. Our warrior god Mars is a man with a checkered reputation. Particularly in recent decades, his stock has declined sharply with all the criticism of "the patriarchy" and our many social institutions. It's become quite popular to bash Mars power as some archaic holdover from our less enlightened caveman days. Most certainly Mars can be put to bad purposes, but that's not necessarily a criticism of Mars energy per se. For when you get down to basics, Mars is simply how we interact with and influence the material world, how the psyche reaches out and changes the physical. Without a healthy Mars, you wouldn't even be alive. He represents how we get our needs met and express our inner desires. He allows us to remake the world into a place we can call home. If you give Mars a good goal to attain and set the troops loose, wonderful changes can be created. The trouble is when Mars has no worthwhile marching orders. Given plans for a bad situation, he'll produce a hellish result. Given no useful purpose at all, he tends to dominate the world with a sense of power for power's sake. He's a military man, not a statesman or a philosopher. Mars is will power, the ability of the ego to express its desires, but he's not actually in charge. It's important to channel will power wisely and skillfully. Now that Mars is about to go retrograde (and of all the planets, he goes retrograde more infrequently than all the others), it seems that the ability to successfully interact with the physical world is being called into question. It seems the ability to express our desires backfires, producing unintended consequences. We sometimes call these behavior patterns sabotage patterns, ways that we undermine our own attempts to get things done. Pretty much everybody gets in their own way sometimes, undermining their own efforts. The list of such behaviors is virtually limitless -- we all have our favorite scripts. Since this retrograde zone falls in Gemini and Cancer, we should look to these signs for clues about what is tripping us up. Start with Cancer, since that's where Mars is now. Cancer is a social, emotional, nurturing sign, traits that are 180 degrees at odds with the way Mars normally works. This is why Mars in Cancer is such a difficult placement. Mars typically operates as if he's the only person in the universe, or at least the only person that matters. He's unconcerned with what effects his efforts have on others -- it's not even on the radar screen. I doubt he has the luxury of working under such a delusion in coming weeks. Obviously his actions affect others, and their actions affect him as well. Generally speaking, most projects require you to cooperate with others and you won't get very far if everybody wants nothing to do with you. Or it could go to the opposite extreme: you are so concerned with all the side-effects of your efforts that you are paralyzed into inaction. Later, in the Gemini phase of this cycle, questions of understanding what you are doing instead of simply blundering ahead, of having the proper skills and knowledge, may crop up. Cooperation based on clearcut communication with others becomes important. Mars' lack of diplomacy and tact may come back to haunt him then. Whatever your favorite method of stepping on your own toes may be, I'm sure you'll be seeing a lot of it in coming weeks. Sure it's frustrating and makes you want to throw a tantrum, but these situations are also good lessons in how to circumvent your sabotage patterns. It's much better to learn the missing skills you need than to fuss and fume about it. Mars likes results, not excuses, so make him happy. This may not be a fun time, but you're much stronger and more successful for the lessons. Buckle down...
Uranus is at its direct station of 14Pi46 on the 24th, ending 5 months of retrograde motion. He's been backing up since his retrograde station of Jun 23, at 18Pi41. Here's another mental planet standing still this month, emphasizing the fragility of our powers to comprehend our world. Unlike Mercury, however, which rules over a story-based way of understanding things, Uranus operates at a more intuitive, holistic, all-at-once way of seeing how the world works. It's more a matter of "simply seeing", not of manipulating facts and deductions to make sense of the situation. Mercury retrograde is bad enough, since the thinking mind seems to fall down on the job. The world doesn't make sense because it's too big to fit into Mercury's mental boxes. Uranus retrograde is potentially much more earth-shattering, since it is intuition and perception itself that is failing us. The big cosmic joke on the Uranus mind is that everybody thinks they see reality clearly and directly, that they know exactly how the world really is, but in fact nobody does. All our conscious experiences are mediated by sense organs, neural pathways, and inner mental means of interpreting this incoming flood of data via deeply held beliefs, assumptions and bad habits that distort and limit our experience. The world we see is actually a hall of wavy, distorting mirrors, only we take these wavy distortions as part of the world, not the workings of our own mind. The intuition, like all parts of the psyche, can only give you good information if it is trained to do so. It must be "in tune" with the outer world through a long period of training and experience in order to "make sense" of this world correctly. In effect, each one of us is creating a movie in our heads of "the way things are" and we substitute this inner movie for outer reality. Of course, each of our movies will be slightly different, due to our unique backgrounds. The differences are passed off as peculiarities of others, in that they don't see reality like we do. In fact, there is no reality in any of these movies. When Uranus is backing up, there's the potential for this experience of "seeing reality" to break down. Usually this shows up in a very mild form, a feeling that somehow the world is crazy or acting strange. This feeling of the world not making sense, while similar to the Mercury retrograde experience, is much deeper and engaging. This is the feeling of chaos and formlessness, that the world is seriously out of whack or coming apart. The world has a mind of its own, beyond our ability to comprehend it all. Sometimes there is the experience of synchronicity, a process described by Jung as "meaningful coincidences" where the inner and outer worlds come together in a striking manner that startles the ego in a peculiarly arresting way. (I've often noticed street lights that turn off as I pass on my nightly walks, but only when "synchronicity is active" -- I consider it a good omen.) In more extreme cases, there is a radical change of consciousness that render the distortions of the mind completely obvious. This used to be the realm of insanity or of the rare visionary; in recent decades, the use of psychedelic substances has made this realm more accessible. You reach the point where "it's my movie" can't be ignored anymore, where Uranus ceases to be an unconscious mental process and emerges into full awareness.
These days, Uranus is in the zodiac sign of Pisces. This sign has a connection with religion and spirituality, a tendency to rely on faith or belief in a higher spiritual order, to submit oneself to this greater truth. It can be tricky to give oneself over to an unseen world, especially when this "truth" is conveyed to us via ancient books and doctrines. Old beliefs were the results of how other people in different times and cultures made sense of their worlds, which may have little relevance to us today. When taken literally and without question, religion can create some severe distortions in our movie-realities, with devastating consequences. The world is currently in a deadly contest of competing literalist realities, fueled by old books, overheated emotions and modern lethal weapons -- we call it the war on terror. I think you need a better reason to kill people and start wars than "my book says this is true!" The lessons of Uranus are to keep your mental baggage light and allow room for ambiguity, chaos and contradiction. Don't let your consciousness settle into an overly concrete one-true-faith if you can avoid it. Leave space for the universe to surprise you. We're ripe for such a breakthrough at this direct station, but only if you stay open to such a possibility. It doesn't come for free. Life is not as simple as you think...
(Curiously, Mercury, Mars and Uranus, the 3 stationary planets this month, form a Grand Trine pattern at the end of November. Is there a connection between all these themes?)
The full moon chart is pretty scattered and lifeless at first glance. At least with the Sun in Sagittarius and the Moon in Gemini, we're putting the darker Scorpio vibes in the background. Along with Saturn and Pallas, the full moon forms a weak Grand Cross that crystallizes the need for disciplined action. On the other hand, Mercury and Venus are connected with Neptune these days, so a lazy, dreamy mood may overpower the need to buckle down. We are also a few hours past the Uranus direct station, so some of that jittery mental energy he's known for is in the air. Most of the other bodies are inconsequential now. In short, there's no clearcut direction in this chart. We may just have to wait awhile until a new trend becomes obvious.