The Low-Down on the Far-Out

Full Moon in Capricorn 2014

Chart for the New Moon in Cancer
Chart for the New Moon in Cancer

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake
is to be continually thrown out of the nest.
~ Pema Chödrön

Jun.27 – NEW MOON in CANCER (05:37 of Cancer)

NEW MOON in CANCER

Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:

Jun.27, 2014, 4:08 AM EDT
(Jun.26, 2014, 10:08 PM HAST)

London, UK:

Jun.27, 2014, 9:08 PA BST

Sydney, AU:

Jun.27, 2014, 6:08 PM AEST

"What's a New Moon?"

Read more about the Sun-Moon cycles.

Read more about how you experience CANCER energy in your life.

Sigh... Remind me to write my articles before there's the Balsamic Moon when Mercury's retrograde... (banging head against keyboard)

As with most Balsamic Moons (the final phase before the New Moon), it's not easy bringing thoughts into clear focus. The urge is to simply drift and go with the flow, sliding into the New Moon like slithering into a silky new gown.

Mercury being retrograde right now doesn't help! It's hard to keep a concentrated focus with him doing his little moonwalk dance at the best of times.

Cancer (where the New Moon will be) is a Water sign, and like all good Water signs, the experience is fluid, intuitive and emotional. What's needed is some Earthy structure to give it shape, stability and consistency.

However, at the New Moon, the only planet in an Earth sign is Pluto. Not exactly your kind, supportive hand gently cupping the energy so it doesn't overflow the sides and become lost.

The Sun and Moon are approaching opposition to Pluto – storm clouds on the horizon! Despite the potential noise and drama, this kind of astrological rain can refresh, rejuvenate and flush out toxic energy.

On the other hand, to our Watery Cancer nature this might look more like being swallowed up and locked inside a pressure cooker. It may or may not actually be that way, but it could easily look like that to our tender Cancerian Inner Child who only wants a safe nest in which to get comfy and feel protected.

So the motto of this New Moon might be: be careful what you long for! Wish for some straightforward Capricorn stability and you might get it—delivered by a Shrek-like brute, whose touch could be a bit rough on our tender wee Moon!

So, let's see how Pluto can help me beat this article into submission…

In the West, we like to think of ourselves as relatively immune to [the] sway of those around us while we each pursue our personal destiny. But I think this is a story we like to tell ourselves rather than what really happens.
~ Matthew Lieberman, online interview with Scientific American magazine

Okay, there's the sign of the New Moon: Cancer. Above all, Cancer wants connection. It represents our need to bond and have a good support system to fall back on. Sounds simple enough, but it quickly gets complicated as we grow into adults and are expected to make our own decisions about our lives that were once made for us by parents and other authority figures.

That emotional need for bonding and safety never goes away, and if we didn't get enough of it earlier in life, it can be difficult to know how to find it as adults in a way that doesn't create more problems than it solves.

Being social creatures who instinctively require connection with others, we may seek out people whom we think will fill that gap. Our Inner Child watches for a surrogate Mom or Dad who we think can give us the love, approval, protection, acknowledgement or security that was lacking from our original Mom/Dad.

Sounds harmless enough, right? So far, so good. Except that the Universe (or who/whatever governs these things) has a way of guiding us to the exact person who is actually more likely to give us the same kinds of experiences as we are trying to get away from.

Is that fair??? No. But it happens almost unerringly. The dynamics of how and why this happens are better explored in another article (Libra, maybe). For our purposes here in Cancer, we have a chance to see the root of that dynamic and how its seed got planted in the past.

So you might find yourself reaching out for structure and stability, or trying to conjure the feeling of being a grown-up who doesn't need to bother with that pesky Inner Child anymore. However, Pluto might have a different agenda in mind. This doesn't have to be awful or even painful, but Pluto wants to make sure that whatever happens, it's real. No pie-in-the-sky childhood cartoon fantasies. No sweetness-and-light optimism that blissfully looks the other way when sh*t gets real.

Pluto knows that the only way out of a mess is to go through it—and while you're at it, remove anything in your life that's getting in your way and doesn't belong there anymore. It's not that Pluto doesn't know how to protect us, but his brand of protection is more concerned with ensuring the integrity of the soul or the core of who you are. By contrast, the Cancerian Moon part of us is looking more for something more immediate, personal and comfortable.

This can present a tricky conflict of interest. And yet, the most traction and progress will be found by bringing both energies together along the same continuum, with you in the middle on a balance point between them. Side with one over the other and you're likely to find yourself plagued and pestered by the disowned one.

[The feeling of loneliness] tells us that we are not being understood and are perhaps too isolated from community and connection. Surprisingly, it can also tell us that we are not taking time to be in contact with our inner selves—to be alone.
~ Ester Buchholz, "The Call of Solitude," Psychology Today

However, the New Moon's attention is being distracted by Neptune. Before the Sun and Moon reach their opposition to Pluto, they will greet Neptune in a lovely trine aspect. While Pluto wants to impress upon the Sun and Moon the importance of shedding the fantasies of what-ifs, in order to "get real," Neptune is giving him some passive-aggressive competition.

Neptune's love of imagination, optimism, faith and hope are a powerful temptation for the Sun and Moon. Cancer's Watery nature might need and work best when combined with Earthy structure, but its natural inclination is to flow freely—which just happens to be Neptune's specialty!

This is potentially an excellent balance – Neptune and Pluto. Pluto lives 24/7 in the underworld of bedrock transformation, but even Persephone took a break from it on a regular basis. (Mother Demeter made sure of that.)

So Neptune's fanciful escapism can help to ensure you don't get completely lost in the hard work of "getting real." Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities? Is the world bringing you down? Is your life not shaping up to be what you had in mind? Let Neptune take you on a vacation for a while and show you how beautiful and perfect life can look again. It's good not to overdo Neptune, but we all need to dream a little and remind ourselves what we're going through the struggle for.

Pluto is unlikely to let Neptune lure you away for too long. There's work to be done that's unavoidable in the long run. There's a need for deep change that will excavate the groundwork, which will allow you to build a solid foundation. Ah—remember the foundation of Cancer? Here's where Pluto can show you how it's done. It's crucial to build your foundation on solid ground that has been decontaminated, as much as possible, from anything that could create problems down the road.

What might this look like in real life? For example, if you want to nurture a new intimate relationship, you'll need to have let go of the last one before you can give your full attention and commitment to someone new. If you are still carrying baggage from old relationships, you'll carry the same issues into a new one until you let go of the old luggage.

However, before you go beating yourself up for still hanging onto old hurts and wounds from previous relationships, remember: we all do this. It takes time and work, and progress can be glacial. This is what lifetimes are for – becoming aware of what's inside those psychological suitcases and gradually learning how to do things differently. We're all farther down that road now than we were 10 years ago, and we all have a lot farther to go. And that's okay.

Neptune's escapism, fantasy and even a bit of denial can be healthy, since it can give you a rest from the hard work of going through that baggage trying to figure out what to weed out and what's still good to keep. Or maybe Neptune can help you can take those old clothes – the roles and "games" we play in relationships – and use them to play dress-up! Use your imagination, and be creative and playful. It's like whistling while you work.

Do we secretly idolize our imagined opposites,
yearning to become the role models for others
we know we could never be for ourselves?
~ John Waters, Role Models

Stage aspect pattern

There's an aspect pattern in the New Moon chart that's interesting. In their book, Aspect Pattern Astrology, the Hubers call it a Stage pattern. Two planets in trine aspect (120°) – in this case, Saturn and Chiron. Two planets in opposition (180°) – Mars and Uranus. And these two pairs joined by semi-sextile and quincunx aspects (30° and 150°) to form a symmetrical quadrilateral figure. All four planets, in this case, are within just under 1½ degrees of orb – all at 16 or 17 degrees of their respective signs.

Mars opposite Uranus reached exact just 2 days ago and still well within a one-degree orb. These two can be quite defiant, reactive, energetic and impulsive when they get together. They're still in orb to form a T-square pattern with Pluto, although Mars will break this by moving out of orb in about a week or less.

Saturn and Chiron are also separating from each other, having reached exact a couple of weeks ago on Jun.13. They carry the potential for practical beneficial results that come with taking a long-term approach to healing and discipline.

With quincunxes and semi-sextiles connecting these two pairs of planets, the challenge is to discover a way to get the fast-and-furious (Mars-Uranus) to work together with the slow-and-serious (Chiron-Saturn). The only way you're likely to get them to even acknowledge each other is through creative innovation. Let the Mars-Uranus intuitive flashes provide the sparks that can light up the path of progress for Chiron-Saturn and keep them moving along it.

The Stage pattern seeks to find the right balance between being "out there" interacting in the world and hiding behind a series of roles. In other words, when you embrace this energy you might have a sense of how to deliver what is expected of you, but it is also self-protective at the same time. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as you don't get stuck in the role (instead of being your authentic self). In the same way, you don't want to become so self-protective that you hide backstage where you would miss the applause, appreciation and recognition.

I believe in intuitions and inspirations...
I sometimes FEEL that I am right.
I do not KNOW that I am.
~ Albert Einstein

Overall, this lunar cycle (for the next 4 weeks) can be very creative and productive, if you know how to work with the energies. Exciting ideas full of potential may come up unexpectedly or in ways that seem trivial at the time. However, some of these might become important later, especially after Mercury goes direct on July 1st.

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It might be tempting to act sporadically, impulsively or emotionally (rather than rationally). This can be wonderful if you direct these in a creative or innovative direction, but could also be a bad idea if you don't also look before you leap into the unknown. There's a lot of Air and Water in this chart, with only Pluto in Earth and only Uranus in Fire. Be careful you don't act simply based on worried imaginings. Rather, put those creative and intuitive thought processes to good use.

Play around with ideas that give a voice to your feelings and intuition. At the same time, it's wise to realize that feelings and intuition tend to express our internal reaction to something – it often doesn't provide an objective or complete view of whatever we're reacting to.

However, there's a strong energy that stays with us through most of July that can help grease the wheels of action that's in harmony with your most effective cutting edge of growth. Mars is approaching a conjunction with the North Lunar Node, and both are in trine aspect to Venus. These 3 peak exactly on the same day: July 13th – just a day after the upcoming Full Moon in Capricorn.

There's a lot more about the Mars-Node-Venus trio below. Suffice here to say that with all of this creative Cancer energy, combined with other factors I've mentioned, there is a strong potential for plans, goals, resources and action to fall into place during this lunar cycle. Choose your direction carefully, using your intuition and feelings to guide you. Then become a co-creator with the world around you to conceive and give birth to your vision.

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
Everything else is secondary.
~ Steve Jobs

Jun.27 – Jupiter square NorthNode (25:50 of Cancer/Libra)  ("What's a Lunar Node?")

What do you really believe in? Your principles and beliefs might be at odds with where you feel your life should be going right now—or you might find you can't seem to live your beliefs and principles in a way that you feel would carry you toward your higher life purpose. This might be a good time to examine your attitudes and opinions, to see if maybe they are pulling you off course. Do you really believe those opinions anymore? Do those attitudes really bring out the best in you now? There might be a better way of reaching for your best potential, but if you're resisting this then it might only seem to get in your way. This transit could be experienced as a crisis of faith (which might be in the religious sense, or more generally). You might need to question whether what you believe in is real anymore, but an even better question might be whether you need to revise what you believe in based on your experience. Do your beliefs even fit your perception of life anymore? Or maybe they need to be differently integrated into how you live your life now. It might be a time when you need to expand your understanding about where your life is going—it could be that your own confidence gets in the way when you believe you know where you should be going.

Alternatively, this transit could challenge you with a truth, perspective or different opinion that may need to be considered in order to allow you to grow. It's possible you are resisting a way of looking at something you disagree with, which actually has something to teach you. Or you might discover that by voicing your own opinions, biases or perspective, you might actually be encouraging or instigating others to respond with a point of view that you find distasteful or irrational. The point is: don't just write someone off as being wrong – you might have something valuable to learn from the encounter.

Jun.29 – Sun trine Neptune (07:29 of Cancer/Pisces)  (Jun.28 in HST, AKT)

Faith in the bountiful blessings of the Universe is within reach under this transit...but then, so is the fantasy that you will be magically granted anything you wish for. Hope, optimism and imagination spring eternal right now, which can bring some relief from any depression or discouragement you might be feeling. Your creativity can become very inspired under this transit. Your sense of self could also get an infusion of uplifting vision. And you experience a sense of mission, feeling that you are truly a Child of the Universe. There is potential to lift you out of the ordinary and into the sublime – spiritually, creatively, romantically or compassionately. Enjoy it while it lasts, but before you make changes based on what might feel like a permanent condition, remember that this is mostly a temporary influence and you will still have to live within the bounds of the physical world after it passes. Don't make overly optimistic promises now, that you will have to fulfil later when the euphoria wears off.

Jun.29 – Venus square Neptune (07:29 of Gemini/Pisces)  (Jun.30 in AU)

Money, material resources, relationships and pleasure could be subject to confusion, deception, or unrealistic wishful thinking under this transit. It may seem that what you thought you had (love, friendship, pleasure, money, resources) has suddenly disappeared or isn't as dependable as you thought it was. You might feel disappointed, disillusioned, sad or alone, but this is more likely to be a passing phase than a serious crisis. The question is: what are your secret longings and subtle desires that may be operating unconsciously? These could be clouding your ability to relate to people and situations in your life. Old addictions, depression or idealism may surface as way of dealing with feelings. A better outlet would be to channel your feelings and experiences into creativity, beauty, inspiration and compassion; for example, art, music or helping others.

Jul.01 – Mercury Stationary Direct (24:22 of Gemini; direct until Oct.04) ("What's a Station?"  "What does Retrograde mean?"  Read more about Mercury Retrograde.  Read more about Retrograde planets.)

Mercury finally turns direct! Yippeeee!!!! ;-) But we're not out of the woods just yet. For up to a week before and after today, you may experience mental intensity, confusion, and miscommunications or simply changes in your outlook. After being Retrograde for the last 3 to 3½ weeks, Mercury is now taking a slow turn to resume Direct motion. This period has challenged you to rethink and rehash things that required some fine-tuning or revision. The Direct station can be a time when clearer decisions start to emerge from the issues and struggles you've encountered during the retrograde period. Or, it might turn your perspective around so that you're seeing your situation fresh again.

Over the next couple of weeks, while Mercury is still in the Shadow, your brain may feel a bit like it's gradually waking up after a deep sleep. During this time, you can gradually put into practice the learning and knowledge you've gained from your retrograde "dreams" and moonlight visions. It will take time to get fully back into sync with the Mercury direct energy. So, take it slow, one step at a time, and untangle yourself one strand at a time.

Jul.02-24 – Mars conjunct North Node, trine Venus (18-29 degrees of Libra and Gemini)

Throughout most of July, we have a lovely trine aspect between Venus and Mars, as Mars conjoins the North Lunar Node. These three reach a mere half-degree of orb at their closest, on Jul.13. If you have natal planets at 23-24° of Gemini or Libra, this could be a lovely time when your intention and resources align smoothly with your life purpose and path.

If you've been planning a change of direction in your life, or are just looking for a time when things fall into place a little more easily, mark mid-July (especially the 13th) on your calendar. This could be a time when you want to put your intention into action.

Here's the background of this triple transit. When Mars stationed retrograde back on Mar.01, it was just 1°49' away from being conjunct the North Node. Mars backed off and went about his retrograde cycle, stationing direct on May.19. It has taken him all this time since then to finally catch up again.

Back in late February and the beginning of March, you may have felt a strong breeze coming from a different direction than you are usually pointed in your life. The astrological weather vane was spinning around, as if caught in the chaotic wind gusts before a storm. You may have felt you wanted to change direction but couldn't decide which way to go.

Mars conjunct North Node, trine Venus

Mars went through his retrograde period (Mar.01 to May.19). After turning direct, he has been going through his post-retrograde shadow (May.19 to Jul.21). These many months have brought quite a changing astrological weather system! There may have been times when you reconsidered your plans and remapped the path that feels right for you at this time in your life. You might even have given up on your original plan, either from discouragement or seeing things from a new perspective.

When Mars catches up to the Node on July 13, that weather vane is probably giving a more consistent message. You might be pointed in a new direction now, seeking out a clearer destination and getting ready to set off on an exciting new journey. Or you might be feeling more confident to go back and re-reconsider your original idea, which can now be assessed with fresh eyes. If you feel you're still being given confused or inconsistent messages about which way to go from here in your life, check to see if you might be trying too hard to make sure the message is what you want to hear. Sometimes it's hard to hear your own intuition and whispers from the Universe if you're too attached to the outcome.

If you can put yourself into a frame of mind that is both receptive to whatever comes and focused in moving forward with your chosen intention, you will probably find that the resources, action and motivation fall into place more easily this time around, than they did back in Feb-Mar. Why? Because back then Mars and the Node were in a stressed out, struggling square aspect (90°) to Venus, and this time they are in a harmonizing, go-with-the-flow trine aspect (120°). Since Venus also rules the sign of Libra, where Mars and the Node are, this gives the energy added significance and strength.

Venus is in cheerful, communicative, social Gemini this time around, whereas before she was in serious, get-down-to-business Capricorn. You may find that you can get in synch with that Venus-trine flow by bouncing ideas off your friends and in social networking situations. A casual conversation might result in connections with others who can help you along your path or open doors for you, for example. Or you might keep a journal of ideas, notes, insights and observations, which could open up your vision to see your path more clearly and understand how you can make progress along that path.

Jul.04 – Sun opposite Pluto (12:17 of Cancer/Capricorn)  (Jul.03 in HST)   (This is a Cardinal Cross aspect.)

Who owns the power? This is a time when you may be called upon to stand up to a situation or person who pressures you to dance to their tune instead of your own. This is a chance to assert and empower yourself in new ways, putting into practice the inner strength you've developed in the last 6 months. The trick is to face the situation or person while rooted in inner honesty and authenticity, rather than trying to annihilate the enemy using overkill. Strive to negotiate (or struggle) together using just enough force to establish a workable balance of power, without either of you being nuked in the process. Also, be open to the possibility that your "opponent" might be holding up a mirror, which is showing you something about yourself that you may not want to acknowledge. That doesn't necessarily make your opponent right and you wrong, but there might be something for you to learn from the situation. If you are in a situation that doesn't involve an "opponent" as such, there may still be an aspect of your environment that is holding up a difficult mirror, requiring you to find a more centred and authentic point of inner power. It is by finding new balance within this kind of dynamic, whatever the circumstances, that transformation can be found.

Jul.07 – Venus sextile Uranus (16:25 of Gemini/Aries)  (Jul.06 in HST, AKT, PDT)

Relationships, finances, resources and pleasures could benefit from spontaneously trying a completely different approach. If these areas of your life have been getting a little stale or too routine, this transit could shake things up a little...just enough to make things interesting and breathe some fresh air into your familiar routine. Unexpected income could come your way, or you might discover something you just can't resist buying, or you might have an opportunity to make new social connections. The upside of this transit is that it's possible to break free of old habits and enjoy spontaneous interaction. The downside could come in the form of impulse purchases that are beyond your budget, or behaving a bit recklessly or making snap decisions that you can't live with later. This energy is best used to break free of what restricts you, without shattering the foundation you're standing on.

Jul.08 – Venus square Chiron (17:36 of Gemini/Pisces)  (Jul.07 in HST, AKT, PDT)

You may be forced to make adjustments to relationships and/or finances now, as you face situations in these areas that just don't want to balance out the way you want them to. You may feel a bit like you're in a catch-22 (no-win situation), where the more you try to find balance and harmony, the more you feel like you're chasing your own tail around in circles. This is a time when healing in relationships and financial problems may be difficult to obtain. Harmony in these areas can seem impossible or blocked, yet it is still necessary to keep trying. By trying anyway, it may be possible to find a solution that meets your needs, even if it may not be what you wanted, hoped for or expected. Strive to find a creative solution that draws on your best side.

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Jul.08 – Sun square Uranus (16:26 of Cancer/Aries)  (Jul.09 in AU)   (This is a Cardinal Cross aspect.)

Your world may experience a bit of a shake-up right now, as the Universe decides it's time to make things "interesting." This is a wake-up call, designed to loosen you up from the ways you have become too habitual, stuck or inhibited. The "radical rascal" in you may be itching to come out and stir up trouble, which on one hand might be necessary but also very disruptive and possibly even destructive. Be alert to new insights and opportunities disguised as accidents or crises. Your usual sense of self and purpose may become somewhat unsettled right now, but a space is likely being cleared to make room for new growth and possibilities. If you're looking to break old habits or break free of old restrictions, this may be the time – but it could create a mess that you'll have to clean up later. Resist the urge to rebel just for the sake of doing something different, and aim instead to break free of old forms of self-expression and ideals that don’t work for you anymore. Expect the unexpected and then surf the shock-wave.

Jul.08 – Sun trine Saturn (16:45 of Cancer/Scorpio)  (Jul.09 in UK, AU)

This is a great time to apply yourself to serious work. You may feel especially self-sufficient and independent, with a strong and clear sense of self and purpose. There is support for your ambitions as long as you stay grounded and practical in how you approach them, which should come easily right now. Your ability to cooperate and feel comfortable with authority figures is likely to be high, along with your capacity to embrace your own authority and make solid decisions. This is a time when you are more likely to feel grounded and deal with problems in a practical, decisive way. Your energy may be more serious than "party animal," but even if you are in "party mode" it will be easier to realistically know your limits and not overdo it. If you've been waiting for the right time to move forward with or manifest a project or plan that you've been putting together (or wanting to), this could be the time when that happens. The final launch or manifestation may or may not happen now, but you will probably be able to at least move forward in some important steps.

Jul.09 – Sun trine Chiron (17:35 of Cancer/Pisces)  (Jul.10 in AU)

This is a time when you may find that your recent efforts to mend and heal the chronic struggles in your life start to come together. You likely have the confidence now to try new solutions, or at least to approach problems from a different angle that sheds new light on the situation. Some of this progress may come from daring to walk your own path, or from finding the courage to face the hidden shadow of your worries and weaknesses (the hidden benefit that those worries give you). There may be a variety of different struggles and wounds in your life that could benefit from this kind of healing, although it can be tempting to let this transit pass by without taking advantage of it. Strive to reach a midpoint between merely dipping your toe in troubled waters and thinking that is enough, versus jumping in the deep end and marinating in it.

Chart for the Full Moon in Capricorn
Chart for the Full Moon in Capricorn

Did you ever get the feeling that you wanted to go,
But still had the feeling that you wanted to stay...
~ Jimmy Durante

Jul.12 – FULL MOON in CAPRICORN (20:03 of Capricorn) (This is a Cardinal Cross aspect.)

FULL MOON in CAPRICORN

Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:

Jul.12, 2014, 7:24 AM EDT

London, UK:

Jul.12, 2014, 11:24 AM BST

Sydney, AU:

Jul.12, 2014, 10:24 PM AEST

"What's a Full Moon?"

Read more about the Sun-Moon cycles.

Read more about how you experience CAPRICORN energy in your life.

The Cardinal Cross is back!!

(Stop that groaning.)

Yes, there is hard work ahead. Did you really expect something else from Capricorn?

The good news is that if you do the work with integrity, commitment and honesty, you'll get results. And even if you don't reach your goal, you'll still be able to learn what to do differently next time.

Capricorn isn't the Moon's favorite place to be, but it's part of her territory. After all, the Full Moon immediately before or after any New Moon in Cancer is in Capricorn. So, when she is brought into focus in one sign, she must also deal with the other as part of the same rhythm.

Cancer and Capricorn form an axis, balancing each other out. Cancer is dedication to nurturing and being nurtured; Capricorn is commitment to building something enduring. Cancer is about the personal need for safety and security; Capricorn is the development for strength and authority.

The Moon in Capricorn takes your tender Inner Child and sternly says: "Grow up." It's time to be a grown-up. Take responsibility for the things you are responsible for, and construct a healthy boundary between you and the things you're not.

Seriously?? How are you supposed to do that? What if you're not ready??

To the Inner Child, encountering Capricorn and Saturn energy can feel like being catapulted out of the nest without a parachute ...but to Saturn, the planetary ruler of Capricorn, getting kicked out of the nest is just one necessary step in an ever-evolving journey that must continue if its steps are to come to anything.

Nothing happens overnight. Growing up is a process, not an event. Even when we're 108 years old we're still evolving, growing and maturing. We're all farther along the path than we were before, and we all have a long way to go still.

Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again.
If you don’t like it, do it again.
~ Bruce Mau, award-winning Canadian designer

Growth is tricky business. It's not just about getting more of something. That's how expansive Jupiter sees it. Saturn's approach is more ironic – prune back what's there in order to clear away what isn't helping or is getting in the way, in order to bring more energy and focus to what is helpful and productive. It's about reorganization and consolidation of your efforts, energy, resources and strategy. Less is more.

Growth is a process that usually involves staying focused in a certain direction, taking step after step toward your destination. It can't be rushed and there are no shortcuts—at least not without creating additional problems. You have to hang in there with the process. Quitting your goal is like planting a seed and then neglecting to water it after it's started to sprout. Steady, healthy growth requires regular and reasonably consistent attention and effort.

But what about when you get bogged down? Life can get so cluttered with problems, responsibilities and competing priorities that you feel like you're spinning your wheels in the mud. Trying harder could just get you in deeper and make things worse. You may or may not have the option to call a tow truck to haul you out, nor have others to call on who can help push you out. And even if you do, this may or may not get you free. Sometimes the rock meets the hard place and you're just plain stuck.

What to do? That's where Saturn's pruning back action can come in handy. You may have to take time out from what you're trying to do, in order to clear away stuff that's in your way or keeping you stuck. Our proverbial protagonist might have to dig his/her way out of the mud. Or perhaps create a ramp to get better traction over the mud, constructed of boards, cardboard, tree branches. Whatever works.

"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got," as the saying goes. So, if what you're doing is working, do more. If what you're doing isn't working, you might do well to reconsider whether your strategy is the right one right now. For instance, if you're trying, trying, trying hard to move ahead and getting nowhere or only going at a crawl, try backing off and taking a break. Clear your mind, get grounded and re-centred in your body, and come back at it fresh. Trying to push ahead anyway could just burn you out and create problems that are unnecessary.

Like spinning your wheels in the mud, sometimes forging ahead is precisely the wrong thing to do. Sometimes you have to stop and make a change. At worst, our hero might have to abandon the car and finish the journey on foot or perhaps find other transportation. Whatever works.

But how do you know? When is it time to give up and try something else? When you're faced with an obstacle, is it better to hang in there and keep pushing ahead until something finally gives? Or, do you cut your losses and reinvest your energy in a different approach or even a different goal?

How do you know which path to take when you're at the crossroads?

I am neither religious nor superstitious, but there is something otherworldly about the space where two roads come together. The devil is said to set up shop there if you want to swap your soul for something more useful. If you believe that God can be bribed, it's also the hallowed ground to make sacrifices. In the literal sense, it's also a place to change direction, but once you've changed it, you're stuck until you come to another crossroads, and who knows how long that will be.
~ Tayari Jones, Silver Sparrow

The Cardinal Cross is indeed a Cardinal Crossroads. We've been traversing this crossroads for several years now. Uranus, Pluto and Saturn came into orb for their Cardinal T-square back in 2007 – just about the time when the US and global economies started to fall into a black hole. Since then we have seen enormous collective upheaval, most visibly in the US where the norms and boundaries between politics, religion, ideologies, economy and government have been crumbling and mixing it up together.

Indeed, even the devastation of 9/11 in 2001 was marked by a Saturn-Pluto opposition after an extremely strong solar eclipse at 0° Cancer (a Cardinal sign). I recall an article by Robert Hand in the August 2001 issue of Mountain Astrologer, called A Crisis of Power: Saturn and Pluto Face Off. Reading it after 9/11 made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, it was so right on in the dynamics Hand describes.

We are indeed going through a crisis of power. There are so many factions that want to be heard, and the number seems to multiply every week. All of them are increasingly desperate to have the dominant influence on the direction of our ever shrinking planet. And of course, the harder these factions pull at the world, the harder others pull in a different direction.

Individually, most of us have been feeling a similar turmoil in our own lives building over the last several years. Whether it is about struggling with live circumstances – job and career, finances and security, family and relationships – each of us can't help but feel the intensity of the world we currently live in.

So: where are you in this journey? Perhaps it feels more like you're stuck in the mud than getting somewhere. Or you might be progressing forward but feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all. Or you may have your direction clearly in focus but aren't quite sure what step to take next. And with the world around you pulling this way and that, some are finding it hard to believe they will get where they're going at all.

Hang in there! Course adjustments might be necessary, but you don't have to stay stuck forever or be driven off the path. Like all paths, it's all about how you navigate it.

It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.
~ Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own

Cardinal Cross with the Full Moon in Capricorn

The Full Moon is aligning with Mars and Uranus to form yet another episode in the Cardinal Cross Chronicles. Jupiter can still be seen on the horizon as he gets ready to move into Leo (Jul.16), but he's a bit too far away and much too preoccupied to participate in the huddle. It's the last of that lovely exalted energy that Jupiter has in Cancer. Next is Leo where Jupiter is bound to make a brilliant entrance. For now, wave bye-bye as you watch him fade into the horizon...

Pluto is widely conjunct the Moon and opposite the Sun, as well as square Uranus, so he's involved but not a star player in the proceedings. He's not without a strong presence, however, since the Sun-Moon opposition lands right smack on Pluto's planetary nodes – all at 20° of Cancer and Capricorn.

The Lunar Nodes show the intersection of the path of the Moon with the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun through the zodiac. The North Node tends to show where we're going and where the cutting edge of our growth potential lies. The Lunar South Node, always exactly opposite the Lunar North Node, represents where we're coming from, where we've been-there-done-that and where we are moving on from and what lies in our "rear view mirror."

Lunar Nodes

All planets also have nodes where their orbits cross the ecliptic. Whereas the Lunar Nodes are always exactly opposite each other, the North and South Nodes of a planet can be close or far from being in opposition. Just like the planets, the slower it moves the slower its nodes will move through the zodiac too. Unlike the Lunar Nodes that precess (go backwards) through the zodiac, the planetary nodes progress forward. (There is an excellent introductory article on planetary nodes in the December/January 2014 issue of Mountain Astrologer by evolutionary astrologer, Mark Jones, which is the inspiration for much of my Pluto/node ideas here.)

In Pluto's case, the North Node is currently at 20:29 of Cancer, and the south is at 20:31 of Capricorn – extremely close to being opposite. Pluto is inching its way along to eventually oppose its own north node and conjoin its south node from 2017 to 2019 (at 18-21° of Cancer and Capricorn).

The south node of Pluto represents the history of what the individual or collective experience has compulsively gravitated towards to gratify a deep, often unconscious need for security. The north node of Pluto represents the greatest possible psychological transformation of the individual or the collective.
~ Mark Jones, The Space Between the Stars, Mountain Astrologer, Dec/Jan 2014

For this Full Moon to be precisely aligned with the South (Moon) and North (Sun) Nodes of Pluto casts a deeply plutonic shadow across our path. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean there's an energy pulsing in the background of this Full Moon that is rather larger than life. Whereas a Capricorn Full Moon is typically about taking another step in the process of growing up, inside and out, having that Moon conjunct Pluto's South Node could pull up some deeper feelings, needs and compulsions than you thought were there.

Your experience will depend largely on how you relate to Capricorn energy and to Pluto energy. If Capricorn energy – serious, responsible, accountable, setting goals – makes you want to go out and get drunk or dig in your heels in defiance, this might well up inside you with much stronger force than you're used to. On the other hand, if Capricorn makes you feel challenged, filled with determination and pumped at the thought of getting busy to build something solid and enduring, you may find you willingly embrace this energy and use it to pull you forward along your path.

The Sun and Moon aligned with Pluto's nodes

If Pluto energy gives you the feeling of being ready to bare your teeth and guard what's precious to you, while chasing away any who would try to pull you out of your centre, this Capricorn Full Moon might give you so much resolve, passion and determination that you have to dial it back a bit, lest you scorch those who are still learning to embrace their own power.

On the other hand, if Pluto energy sends you diving for cover and looking for a convincing disguise that shows you as powerless, helpless or inundated by impossible demands, this could rise up in you with more force than usual. By all means do what you need to do to protect yourself from real harm, but remember that this is an opportunity to learn to embrace your personal power in a new way. Most of us are actually stronger than the exhaustion, weariness or despair that we feel, when we have to be. That's not to trivialize the true fragility and vulnerability that you may experience, but you're also more than that.

And if Pluto triggers an obsessive impulse to reach out and exert control over the world around you in an aggressive, hostile or domineering way, this Full Moon might throw you into a situation where you need to find a more compassionate, gentle way to work with the situation.

If you start to get stuck in control-mode (which can look like "they won't leave me alone" or "they're just out to get me"), try taking a step back to catch your breath and refocus. When we try to exert control over what's around us (especially if it doesn't want to be controlled), persisting tends to yank us out of our centre and just makes the situation worse, because then you're just in react-mode. One of Capricorn's true gifts is the ability to respond to the situation, not simply react at it.

The Pluto energy behind the Capricorn Full Moon challenges you to take up the torch of your power with your best personal integrity, and to protect and nurture your Inner Child from a position of inner strength rather than collapse. Pluto in Capricorn's message here is that the spirit, intention and degree of self-honesty with which you deal with the events in your life right now will drive the energy that you set in motion. Become receptive to the strength within you – even if you can't hang onto it in the long run, you're still teaching yourself how to find it again.

Until they become conscious they will never rebel,
and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.
~ George Orwell, 1984

In the Cardinal Cross at the Full Moon Mars is still opposite Uranus (6:49 orb), although is fast moving out of reach. It's still enough to feel their combined energy – defiance, impulsiveness, freedom above all and the courage, audacity and brashness to act on it. This has been a highly reactive aspect that's been with us, off and on, since last December. There's been plenty of "one step forward, two steps back" combined with alternating "Let's GO!!!" and "Wait—what about that path over there??" and "Hey, let's do something completely different – right now!" This will likely start to settle down over the next couple of weeks, as Mars moves away from Uranus. He finally leaves the land of Libran indecision for his much-beloved Scorpio swamp on Jul.25.

Although a bit wide in orb, the Sun-Moon opposition actually straddle the midpoints between Mars and Uranus at the Full Moon. In addition, Mars is tightly conjunct the Lunar North Node (0:58 and exact the day after the New Moon), amplifying its energy and potential. These factors are likely to bring the Mars-Uranus restless energy into focus more than it otherwise would be. Together they all form a Cardinal Cross, which is also placed against a backdrop of intense Pluto energy.

The Mars and Uranus combined energy could be very reactive to the compelling "time to grow up, kid" energy coming out of Capricorn and Pluto right now. You might feel a strong defiance and resistance to the command to embrace your Inner Adult and make grown-up decisions for yourself. Mars and Uranus can be a Peter Pan kind of youthful energy, which refuses to grow up on command.

You may feel like you've got the proverbial angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, each tempting you with succulent delights if you just give in to their wishes. In the end, you'll probably find that if you go entirely with one over the other, you may eventually collapse in exhaustion trying to keep the other at bay.

The best solution may be to try find a compromise that gives each of them something that they want. Have a small bit of ice cream after you've eaten all your virtuous good-for-you food. Allow yourself to take off and just have fun for a while, but make sure the really important things are taken care of first.

If that's not an option, try having a dialogue with the part of you that must be kept in the closet for now. You might try journaling this, or just find a private place and talk it out loud with yourself. Explain why you can't give in to that part of you right now. Then: listen. Your feelings and thoughts will likely reply in some way – an impulse, an emotion, a memory, a wish, a fear, etc. It's important to connect to that part of you in some way (other than telling it to shut up as you cram it into the closet).

I know there is no straight road,
No straight road in this world,
Only a giant labyrinth
Of intersecting crossroads
~ Federico García Lorca

Grand Trine Kite at the Full Moon in Capricorn

The good news—not that the rest has been bad news; it just requires some effort and focus—the good news is that Saturn, ruler of the Capricorn Full Moon, is getting a wonderful flashback. Although Jupiter's travel has broken the Grand Trine with Saturn and Chiron, the Sun is now occupying that space (and has been for several days leading up to the Full Moon). By coming to grips with the Capricorn and Saturn energies, there is an emotional and creative healing effect that is possible to tap into right now. This Grand Trine forms a Kite, when the Moon is factored in.

This is an easy-going energy that indicates resources and ease are there to draw on as you fight the good fight at the crossroads. It's important to "stay in the struggle" of the Cardinal Cross – in other words, don't just give up or run away, but keep your challenge in view, even if you have to rest for a while. Don't burn yourself out – that can be a copout too, where you drive yourself to the point where you have no choice but to give up.

The implication of the Grand Trine Kite interlocked with the Cardinal Grand Cross is that there is healing, stabilizing, grounding energy to draw from as you wrestle with the challenges. The Grand Trine energy can help you keep moving through the crossroads by remembering that your lack of perfection isn't a failing but a sign that you're still learning and growing. You don't expect a small child to have the skill of a trained athlete, do you? No, because they're still gathering the skills they need to do that...if they choose to do that. So have the same compassion for yourself too when you feel you're not living up to your ultimate fullest potential – this is what lifetimes are for.

Don't confuse poor decision-making with destiny. Own your mistakes.
It’s ok; we all make them. Learn from them so they can empower you!
~ Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

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This is bound to be a busy, challenging and perhaps demanding time. Capricorn says: Be prepared! Plan your journey. Stock up on the resources you'll need to keep yourself properly fed, rested, entertained, motivated and centered. Make a note of the people you can call on to inspire you, sympathize with you, challenge you, support you or just hang out with you when you just need a friend, and call on them when you need what they can give you.

Within the structure of your plan, dare to be spontaneous and take some risks. Not to the point of being reckless – remember, Capricorn and Saturn are also about consequences to our actions and decisions – but enough to keep the plan alive with a pulse. Mars and Uranus say: Too much predictability is just plain boring, and you'll never know what more you might catch in your net if you never throw it on the other side of the boat, or even dive below the surface to look for lost treasure.

And finally, Pluto says: Whatever you encounter on your path gives you a chance to connect with your personal power at a deeper, more authentic level. Power isn't about over-powering but rather em-powering. Keep your path clear of whatever is getting in your way. And if you can't bear to push something aside, then there's your homework – delve deeply into what motivations, fears, expectations and payoffs are holding you back from moving beyond an obstacle.

It's a time when you might feel kind of alone, and indeed you do ultimately have to do walk that crossroads by yourself. But you don't have to be lonely or even alone as you do it. If nothing else, you always have yourself. And isn't that a key piece of the puzzle for all of us?

I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.
~ Toni Morrison

Jul.13 – Mercury enters Cancer (until Jul.31)  (Jul.12 in HST, AKT, PDT, MDT, CDT)

Intuition, sensitive perception, and communication of feelings flow more easily during this transit. Your empathy may be deepened now, as you can be more able to imagine and pick up on what other people feel and need. Because of this, you may also find that it's easier to say difficult things in a sensitive, caring way. However, your open connection to others might also increase the risk of communicating in a hurtful or callous way, if you are not used to treading gently. Your creative imagination is also more accessible now. To take advantage of this, try doing some journal writing, expand your emotional awareness, have some creative fun, or think of ways to make your environment more homey and comfortable.

Jul.13 – Venus trine Mars (23:41 of Gemini/Libra)   (Jul.12 in HST)

It will be a lot easier to balance assertiveness with receptivity under this transit. In fact, it is a great time to take firm action that requires a sensitive touch, and to negotiate agreements in a way that is diplomatic, fair and powerful. Your ability to attract what you desire (money, love, pleasure, flirting, etc.), and to act on those desires, is strong right now, so use it wisely. This may include romantic attraction and sexual interaction, or it might involve artistic creativity. It could also be a time when your actions attract money and possessions, but it could also go the other way – your spending may also increase! Again: use this energy wisely and don't overextend yourself, but do have fun with it!

Jul.13 – Mars conjunct North Lunar Node (24:00 of Sign)  (Jul.14 in UK, AU)  ("What's a Lunar Node?")

For up to a week before and after this date, you are likely to feel energized in some way. You might feel enthusiastic, active, passionate, easily angered or downright wired. Or you could be around others who are feeling this way. On the other hand, this energy might also be somewhat explosive, aggressive or overbearing in some way. At its worst, it could indicate violence, although it's more likely to increase energy levels in general. If you and others are in a positive head space, this raised energy can easily be used constructively. If in a negative head space, it could result in conflict, argument or hostility. The important thing is to find a constructive or beneficial outlet for this energy. It's a good time to try new things or take risks BUT make sure this is balanced with some solid common sense too.

Jul.15 – Mercury leaves the Shadow (03:10 of Cancer; until Sep.14)  (Jul.16 in ADT, NDT, UK, AU)   ("What's the Shadow?"  Read my articles about Retrograde Cycles.  Read my article about Mercury Retrograde.)

Mercury finally leaves the shadow—the part of the zodiac where it was retrograde. This means the confusion, delays and miscommunications of the last 2 months have mostly dissipated and things should be more or less back to normal (whatever that is). The difference is that you now have the benefit of seeing things from a different perspective after having reconsidered, rethought and rehashed information and perceptions over the past 2 months. This gives you more choices than you had before. In fact, you may find that although you thought something was a good idea a month or two ago, you now realize that a different approach, decision or way of understanding it is better. If you've been waiting until Mercury finished with the retrograde cycle before you made a final decision about something or taking action on something, this is the time to take another look at whatever that is. Just don't forget your common sense, and remember that Mercury is only one factor to take into consideration regarding the timing of a decision. Use your best judgment and wisdom.

Jul.16 – Sun square North Lunar Node (23:44 of Cancer/Libra)  (Jul.15 in HST)  ("What's a Lunar Node?")

When the Sun squares the Lunar Nodes, your sense of purpose and identity appear to be in conflict with the lessons you need to learn in life. It may feel like you're forced to take a detour around your direct route to your destination (whatever that might be). This may only be true on the surface – if you look deeper at the situation (or possibly in retrospect), you'll probably find that your sense of self is actually helped by the benefits that you are able to get on that detour, which would have missed if you hadn't been diverted from your original path.

Alternatively, you might be confronted by a conflict or stressful dilemma that you usually resist or flail against. This may be an opportunity to explore a deeper level of your experience and feelings. Perhaps there is fear or resentment or defiance behind your reaction. This is a chance to try on a different perspective and respond in a different way that can help you move through the situation instead of just being blocked by it.

When the Sun squares the Nodes it is sometimes called "Moon Wobbles," which is a bit of a misnomer. The Moon itself doesn't wobble or even necessarily interact directly with either the Nodes or the Sun. Rather, the Moon part of us (the inner, feeling, intuitive, sensitive part of us) may feel a bit "wobbly" or unsteady when the Sun squares the Nodes. The "Moon Wobble" effects are said to build and dissipate for up to 10 days before and after the Sun-Node square is exact.

Jul.16 – Jupiter enters Leo (until Aug.11.2015)

Jupiter makes a grand entrance into Leo! He bestows on us both the best and the worst of Leo. On the plus side, Leo's creativity can grow and blossom like a big bold flower. Leo's sunny disposition and Jupiter's penchant for optimism can practically blind you with brilliant cheerfulness. The generosity of both Jupiter and Leo combine into a kind of Santa Claus energy, taking great glee in bestowing feel-good energy on the world.

However, it can also amplify Leo's tendency for self-absorption and egotism. Jupiter loves to be right, and when combined with Leo, a challenge to this might be taken personally. A sense of superiority and grandiosity could sometimes cloud objectivity and empathy. Personal opinions may be asserted as absolute truth, perhaps with the best of intentions but lacking receptivity to others' ideas or experience. And people can usually stand only so much irrepressible optimism and upbeat confidence before they start looking around for the volume control to turn it down a few notches.

That said, Jupiter's benevolence also combines well with Leo's kindness and generosity. Anything that moves the spirit toward feeling joyful and uplifted is valued. Leo's flair for the dramatic and Jupiter's love of larger-than-life presentation can produce a strong sense of theatre and drama, either literally on stage or screen, or in real life as a style of communication.

The tendency toward idealization can be strong, especially regarding creativity, children, games and pleasure. A childlike spontaneity and freedom can be infectious—or extremely annoying, depending on the situation. A desire for sexual freedom can also be high on the list of ideals, in the name of natural and inspired self-expression.

All of these descriptions might also be expressed as their opposites. Why? Because if you are uncomfortable with these qualities and experiences, your instinct might be to reject them, and the best way to do that is to seek its opposite. In general, watch for extreme or hard reactions as a possible rejection of Jupiter-in-Leo qualities. Awareness can lead to new growth.

Jupiter travels through Leo during these time periods:

Jul.18 – Venus enters Cancer (until Aug.12)   (Jul.19 in AU)

Your focus in relationships may shift for a while to family, loved ones and people in your support system. You may also find that your interactions with others takes on a quality that echoes the past, perhaps childhood, and you want to reach out to connect with others more than usual – or to avoid it if those echoes are not pleasant ones. You could be especially sensitive to getting your emotional needs met, or how others want their needs to be met. Interactions with others may bring up a deep need to belong and to connect and bond with others on a personal level. The need to feel secure and safe could come up in a variety of forms now – either directly as a feeling of vulnerability, or indirectly disguised as defensiveness or manipulation. This could also a time when you want to be somewhat protective and cautious in your handling of money, possessions and other resources, striving to conserve and cultivate these areas in order to nurture them for future growth.

Jul.19 – Mercury trine Neptune (07:12 of Cancer/Pisces)   (Jul.18 in HST, AKT, PDT, MDT)

Your mind is very open to imagination, dreams and compassion under this transit. This can be a very creative time, when ideas flow like a magical river. It can also be easy to get caught up in yearning and fantasizing about your hidden wishes, although it is possible to channel this into creative expression. (e.g., writing poetry, dancing, wistful music, singing in the shower, whatever!) Listening sympathetically to others' problems may come easily now, and you are more likely to get a compassionate response from others about your own problems. However, it may also be difficult to draw clear and firm boundaries with others, since you are more susceptible to the emotional gravity of others. It is ultimately a time for optimism, hope, creativity and intuition, although it's wise to keep at least one foot on the ground.

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Jul.19 – Sun square Mars (26:31 of Cancer/Libra)  (Jul.15 in HST, AKT, PDT)

Assertiveness, aggression and intense energy burst out under this transit. This can be a time of being pushed into taking action...or it can erupt in anger, irritation and hostility (in yourself or others). It may seem like everything pushes your buttons and rubs you the wrong way, creating conflict and putting you on edge. You may feel the impulse to burn off this excess energy through sexual activity. If you look beneath the irritation you may see a frustrated part of you that wants change, yet you have held back for some reason. Being pro-active and initiating steps for voluntary change is preferable, since you will have far more control over the process than if you get pushed into a corner and forced to act. The more preplanning you've done for this moment, the more successful you're likely to be. But if you get caught in a whirlwind of change, connect yourself to the part of you that wants change and let that ground and guide you.

Jul.20 – Saturn Stationary Direct (16:38 of Scorpio; until Mar.14.2015)  (Jul.21 in AU)  ("What's a Station?"  "What does Retrograde mean?"  Read more about Retrograde planets.)

For up to a week before and after this date, Saturn’s energy is especially intense and strong. You might experience this as physical or mental heaviness or sluggishness. You might find you have to "get real" with some responsibilities, or make some difficult decisions. This can be a turning point in long-term projects and plans that you've been developing over the last 5 months or so. Or, you may start to deal differently with old limitations, either finding ways to move beyond them or finding ways to make peace with them. If you’re dealing with closure or endings in some area of your life, this could be a time when you can finally start to let go and move forward.

Jul.21 – Mars leaves the Shadow (27:31 of Libra; until Feb.18.2016)  (Jul.20 in HST, AKT, PDT)   ("What's the Shadow?"  Read my articles about Retrograde Cycles.  Read my article about Mars Retrograde.  Read more about Mars Retrograde cycle.)

Mars now leaves the Retrograde Shadow – the span of the Zodiac where it was retrograde up until about 2 months ago. Mars goes through 3 phases in its retrograde cycle. The pre-retrograde phase is where Mars enters the Shadow – the area of the Zodiac where it will go retrograde – and lasts for 6-9 weeks. The retrograde phase is where Mars appears to go backwards in the sky (retrograde motion), which lasts for about 8-12 weeks. The post-retrograde phase is when Mars makes his final pass through the Shadow, again lasting about 6-9 weeks.

If you think back to these time periods, you may notice a pattern involving Mars-related areas of your life. This includes physical and mental energy, anger and assertiveness, conflict and challenge, aggression and hostility, courage and risk-taking, motivation and enthusiasm, ambition and obsession, disruptive change and putting things into action. You might have experienced either an increase or decrease in some of these areas over the last 6 months, especially during the retrograde period.

Now, Mars is leaving the post-retrograde Shadow phase, which finishes this long retrograde cycle. If Mars-related areas became stronger and more noticeable, or if they seemed to fade into the background or dropped in strength for a while, they are likely returning to their "normal" state (whatever that is for you). We will not see another Mars Retrograde Shadow again for another 1.5 years.

Mars is a more straightforward, regular Mars now, instead of being Mars with an especially pointed axe to grind (over and over...).

Jul.21 – Uranus Stationary Retrograde (16:30 of Aries; until Dec.21)  (Jul.22 in NDT, UK, AU)  ("What's a Station?"  "What does Retrograde mean?"  Read more about Retrograde planets.)

Uranus now appears to go backwards (retrograde) against the backdrop of the stars. This is often a turning point in situations involving issues of spontaneity, freedom, breaking free of old patterns, rebellion and expressing your personal uniqueness. It could feel a bit chaotic or erratic—or perhaps just spontaneous and exciting—for up to a week before and after this date. However, Uranus' ultimate agenda is to clear the way for your true spirit to manifest in your life. You may experience unexpected changes, flashes of insight, or disruption of established situations that aren't working well (which might include computers, Internet, mass media, groups, friends or future plans). This can be the awakening of a new perspective, to be brought into a clearer focus through open-mindedness and being willing to try new things. If you are going through major transits from Uranus to your natal chart, you are more likely to feel the energy of this station.

Jul.22 – Mercury opposite Pluto (11:51 of Cancer/Capricorn)  (Jul.21 in HST, AKT, PDT)   (This is a Cardinal Cross aspect.)

This transit brings powerful words and ideas! They require you to strike a balance between personal perceptions and trans-personal implications. Your communication can be more penetrating, forceful or persistent than usual now, and a little will go a long way, so use this ability sparingly and carefully. In the same way, the words and perceptions of others may have a deeper and stronger impact on you than they normally do. This could be a mixed blessing – you may discover some profound insight and psychological truth in what others say to you, but you might also be receiving their unconscious projections too (meaning their perceptions and feedback might say more about them than about you). Deep self-honesty can help you decide what is true and what is being distorted. Avoid reacting on "automatic pilot" and give yourself some mental and psychological breathing room to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Jul.22 – Sun enters Leo (until Aug.23)  (Jul.23 in AU)

Happy Solar Return to all Leos! Today the Sun moves into its own sign, so its radiant energy is extra bright during this time. Leo's focus is on identity, individuality, self-esteem, creativity, self-expression and fun. You can benefit by rejuvenating, revitalising and rekindling the fiery spirit of who you are. Celebrate your existence! Do something that reminds you about who you are. Recharge your batteries and do things that help you return to the centre of the orbiting circumstances in your life – not spinning around at the edges where you feel at the mercy of everything around you. What are you doing (or what do you want to do) in your life that express the passions that move you? What is the focus of your sense of purpose in life, and what is your next step in moving toward that? If you've been feeling like you're stuck or have lost your sense of purpose, do something that uplifts you. If you could do anything with your life that you wanted to, what would it be? And what one thing (even just a small thing) can you do to take a step toward that goal? Rejuvenate your sense of self and do things that help you to just BE who you are. Hang out with children and watch how they play and are spontaneously free. Find ways to connect to your joyful Inner Child. Celebrate your existence!

Jul.24 – Venus trine Neptune (07:05 of Cancer/Pisces)

This can be a time of romance, creativity, and a sense of oneness with the natural beauty of all that exists in the world. On a social or intimate level, things may run smoothly – even a bit magically! So be sure you are clear about what you really want. In terms of finances and material worth, this can be a time of blessings and abundance that could seem to appear out of nowhere. But be careful – it can also be a time of overspending and wondering where the money went! Your natural beauty and warmth shines through now, so it is a good time to peek out from behind any façade of glamour or illusion you might be cloaked in. You are likely to see the very best in others (and they in you), so that negotiation, interaction and attraction can seem to flow effortlessly. This magical attraction energy could also open you up to seeing wonderful qualities in others that may or may not actually be there, so do a reality check with a trusted friend before you make any important choices.

Jul.24 – Sun conjunct Jupiter (01:52 of Leo)  (Jul.25 in AU)

Confidence, optimism, leadership, vision and well being characterise this transit. Your self-esteem and self-awareness can be wide open now. Your sense of being part of something greater than yourself may be vivid and bright. And you may have increased ability to identify and act on opportunities around you, which can bring you "lucky" prospects. On the other hand, if you have difficulty embracing a positive sense of self, or if you shy away from believing you are a treasured Child of the Universe, then this transit might stir up those difficult feelings to the surface. You could wind up trying to compensate with over-confidence, arrogance, blind faith, or gambling on what are realistically poor prospects. The trick is to tap into the spirit of who you are. Let go of blame and instead apply some honest yet compassionate assessment. Let your spirit shine brightly out to the world, but not so brightly that you blind yourself or others by your own light. Consult a trusted friend for feedback or advice if in doubt. This is a great time to expand your horizons, whether that is through travel, by learning something new, by sharing your knowledge with others, or by exploring the Meaning of Life.

Jul.24 – Mercury square Uranus (16:30 of Cancer/Aries)  (Jul.25 in UK, AU)   (This is a Cardinal Cross aspect.)

Flashes of insight can show you new clarity but you might not like the answers you get, since they could disturb your logical perception of what's what. You might get some news or learn come information that shakes you up in some way. This isn't necessarily bad, since this may be necessary to open your mind to something you've been resisting. There's a Higher Truth here that wants to be told (by you or to you), but the way it's phrased can make a big difference in the reaction. There is a risk of "shooting off your mouth before your brains are loaded," as the saying goes, and impulsive or reckless communication and ideas could create more problems than they solve. It will probably help to listen inside yourself first to discover what you really need to say, and then figure out how to say it in a way that doesn't cause unnecessary damage. Strive to shine a light of truth without blinding anyone with it.

Jul.24 – Mercury trine Saturn (16:39 of Cancer/Scorpio)  (Jul.25 in UK, AU)

It can be easier to take a logical, practical approach to problem-solving and pursuit of your goals now. Your mental outlook is likely to be calm and grounded. This is a good time to make plans and work out the logistics of how you're going to get from "here" to "there" in pursuing your goals. You may find it's time to bring closure to finished goals by distilling and systemizing what you've learned in the process of pursuing those past goals. Or, you might find you are able to draw on past achievements to assist and support your current goals and plans. It is a good transit to bring structure to your thoughts and communication. You may find it's a little easier to accept authority – yours or someone else's – and that you are able to speak authoritatively about things about which you have knowledge or experience.

Jul.25 – Mercury trine Chiron (17:13 of Cancer/Pisces)  (Jul.24 in HST)

Your mental focus and communication now get an injection of healing energy. Cynicism and depression may soften now, as you become more receptive to a more optimistic viewpoint. If you have been caught up in escapism or "stinkin' thinkin'" (thinking you're more in control of your impulses than you really are), you may now find some relief and healing. Mental argument and critical "self-talk" can now find some reconciliation and acceptance that brings some peace of mind. You have increased ability to find the right words and understanding to help others with their problems. Compassion and empathy may be more accessible because you can identify your own experiences with what you see in others. You might also find someone who can give you good advice or support about your own problems – possibly a teacher or mentor – or you could become this to someone else.

Jul.25 – Mars enters Scorpio (until Sep.13)  (Jul.26 in UK, AU)

Evolving Door Astrology

Mars now swaggers through Scorpio – its own sign, by traditional rulerships. Our impulses, willpower and forceful intent are more likely to be intense, passionate and controlled (or controlling) under this transit. Sexual energy may run high, although this may be a hunger for emotional intimacy and deep closeness, as much as it is a drive to satisfy a physical urge. Jealousy, anger and revenge may be more easily triggered, since passionate feelings and instincts are closer to the surface and may be harder to keep under discreet control. This can also be a time of potent creative and transformative energy, since the same emotions and drives that can be so destructive can also provide fuel for powerful self-expression and growth. This energy can also provide a formidable resource when used to fight for a cause – just be sure that the cause (and your methods of fighting) are consistent with your ethics, principles and integrity.

Next Update:  NEW MOON in LEO, available by July 26, 2014.

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