The Low-Down on the Far-Out

Full Moon in Pisces, August 2015

Chart for the Full Moon in Pisces
Chart for the Full Moon in Pisces

In the depth of your hopes and desires
lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow
your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden
the gate to eternity.
~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Aug.29 – FULL MOON in PISCES (06:06 of Pisces)

Pisces, the fishes: two of them. Perhaps swimming in opposite directions or at right angles to each other. While trying to survive in the demanding world of space and time, many Pisces people feel like they're swimming in a fast river going upstream, but they would rather surrender to the prevailing current that will carry them downstream to unite with the vast ocean.

Over the next month or so, those fishes are likely to feel like they're pulling you in very different directions. At its worst, it could be confusing, disorienting, discouraging, humbling or even humiliating. At its best, it can be creative, enlightening, uplifting and rejuvenating.

The reason has to do with the two planets that rule Pisces. Modern Western astrology will usually tell you Neptune is the ruling planet of Pisces, but traditionally (before we discovered Neptune) the ruler was Jupiter. You don't throw something away just because something new comes along; at least not if you don't want the accumulated knowledge and wisdom to go to waste. This effectively means Pisces has two rulers: Jupiter and Neptune. Each reflects and contributes its own unique take on Pisces.

Jupiter is a more accessible energy. Neptune, not so much. Jupiter is a "social" or "societal" planetary energy. It takes about a year to go through a sign, so it is fast enough to feel and work with its energy on a personal level, but slow enough that its effects are more significant and penetrating than the fast-moving "personal" planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars). Its effects tend to apply more to our interaction with the outside world – hence, societal or social.

Neptune is a "transpersonal" energy, taking about 14 years to travel through each sign. This means its effects unfold over a long period of time and reach farther and deeper than a faster moving planet. It tends to bring us to a level of being and awareness that reaches beyond our current boundaries – hence, trans-personal.

These two planets form two different axes of Pisces energy. Jupiter represents the more worldly side of Pisces, while Neptune is a more ethereal or abstract aspect of Pisces.

Pisces is the sign that completes the cycle of the zodiac before it resets itself in Aries. This is a bit like the Dark of the Moon (just before and after a New Moon, when the Moon is invisible or only briefly visible, being overpowered by the Sun's rays), when physical energy is often low and slow, mental focus tends to be blurred and lethargic, and it feels much like the calm before the storm. Anticipation may be high but without the keen motivation and focused intention to make something happen. It's a dreamy, go-with-the-flow kind of energy that lends itself much better to creativity, imagination and speculation than to action, decision or analysis.

Your hearts know in silence
the secrets of the days and the nights.
But your ears thirst for
the sound of your heart's knowledge.
You would know in words that which
you have always known in thought.
You would touch with your fingers
the naked body of your dreams.
And it is well you should.
The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs
rise and run murmuring to the sea;
And the treasure of your infinite depths
would be revealed to your eyes.
~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

The Jupiter side of Pisces is the philosopher who plays with ideas and aims to lift them up to a sublime level of wisdom and awareness. It is the spiritual seeker on a quest to discover the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. (Author Douglas Adams – Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy – reported that the answer was 42. Although curiously Virgoan in its precision, it also perfectly reflects the enigmatic mystery of Pisces.)

Jupiter is the adventurous explorer. In its other sign, Sagittarius, it traverses the worlds of matter and intellect. In Pisces, it moves through the elusive realms of sentience, being-ness and the unknown. In Sagittarius its focus is the destination; in Pisces it's about the journey. Jupiter sets out to discover the essential nature of... nature; of life.

Neptune picks up where Jupiter leaves off. This is the Piscean realm of the intangible, the invisible, the unknown and the indescribable. We leave behind the Saturnian, material world of rules, boundaries and limitations. This is where you encounter intuition, psychic awareness, extrasensory perception, meditation, dreams, fantasy and imagination.

It's not just la-la land, though. This is Oneness with the Universe (in whatever way you relate to that idea). If you surrender to openness, you'll discover all kinds of things you never thought were attainable, including exquisite beauty, boundless compassion, universal love, and faith that the best scenario is possible and perhaps even probable or inevitable.

The trick is that some of these qualities are not directly translatable into space-and-time reality, and trying to manifest an idealized vision can become disappointing or devastating if it doesn't match what you were counting on. It might be spectacular anyway, but if you were attached to the initial apparition it can feel like you're settling for a sullied version of something far better. This is what gives artists and their work a magical glow, if they are able to transform an idea into something concrete that truly reflects and captures the original essence of their inspiration.

Jupiter and Neptune are the mega-stars of the Pisces show at this Full Moon—not just because they are the planetary rulers of Pisces, but also because they are aligned with the Sun-Moon opposition (a.k.a. the Full Moon). Jupiter conjoins the Sun and Neptune conjoins the Moon, as Jupiter and Neptune inch closer to their exact opposition on Sep.17. This sets up a split in the Pisces energy.

On one side is the Jupiter team who are reaching toward the ideal vision of what could be, but they believe their aspiration is meant to be channelled through manifest Fire—the incarnated spirit that fuels who we are—which seeks to attain knowledge, wisdom and meaning that is aligned with something greater than oneself.

On the other side is the Neptune team who meditate and chant and project their vision of the infinite totality of which we are a part. They believe that the focus should be on the whole, not on the personalized identity that is ultimately indistinguishable from that whole.

This Full Moon presents a spiritual argument between these two perspectives. Do you believe you should focus on who you are and how you can aspire to be better than you are? Or do you seek to surrender your consciousness into a greater, transcendent reality that requires self-sacrifice? There's no right or wrong answer. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and each may be more or less appropriate to what you need to do in your life at this moment. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out where you are on the continuum between the two extremes, and decide whether that is where you need to be right now and why.

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises
was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,
the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine
the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Both Jupiter and Neptune—as well as Pisces—are about our ability to have faith in what is (as yet) unseen, and the beliefs we formulate around that faith that help us stay focused on it. The shadow side of faith carries distrust, doubt, scepticism and cynicism. It's not that someone tuned into that side of Pisces doesn't believe in anything—it's that they believe, for better or worse, that there is nothing to believe in. Nothing higher than a finite spectrum of meaning that will define all that can be defined.

And this in itself is also a belief (although most sceptics don't see it that way). At its extreme this is not a healthy objectivity that allows for open-minded questioning—this is a perspective where anything that's not self-evident is considered to be false or worse until it's proven otherwise.

T-square aspect pattern: Sun-Jupiter, Moon-Neptune, Saturn

What gives rise to this kind of strict reductionism? Science has endeavoured to peel away everything but the most basic substance of life. We are not divine beings having a physical experience, we are a complex of chemical reactions, reacting to itself and the environment around us. This is what we can know. Everything else must be proven concretely before it can be added to the database of knowledge.

Now: what planet does this sound like to you? Ding! Yes, you win a prize! It is indeed Saturn. And Saturn plays another key role in the Full Moon chart. It is in a square aspect (90°) to the axis of Sun-Jupiter opposite Moon-Neptune, forming a T-square aspect pattern.

(A defensive side note: yes, the orbs are a bit wide to Saturn. And yes, Saturn forms out-of-sign aspects with them, considered by some astrologers to be ineffective. And yes, the aspects to Saturn are all separating, which tend to be less powerful than applying aspects. I still think the T-square works. Jupiter and Saturn have begun a 3-pass transit with each other in square aspect, and Saturn is about to begin a 3-pass square aspect with Neptune as well, starting in November 2015.)

Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which
the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician,
and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard,
is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips,
has been fashioned of the clay which
the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.
~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

So: what could Saturn possibly be up to in this blissed out wonderland of Piscean pulchritude? Why, challenging it to prove itself within the bounds of physical reality, of course. Saturn demands that anything you believe in or aspire to should have at least one foot, preferably two, firmly anchored to the ground. Doubt and scepticism are intended to weed out the illusions, overly wishful thinking and pie-in-the-sky figments of your imagination.

Saturn's purpose is to protect you, not just rain on your parade. When living in the realm of space and time, we're on Saturn's territory. His world, his rules. However you believe you got here from whatever came before your birth, clause #1 on your ticket of admission was that you have to abide by the laws of physics to some extent. If you walk across burning coals, most likely you're going to get burned. Even if you find a way to buffer the effects with some Piscean faith and transcendence, your body must still adapt somehow to avoid getting damaged. Saturn must have his due, one way or another.

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Therefore, Saturn is pulling on the inflatable balloons of Jupiter and Neptune in order to keep them tied to something solid, lest they float away (and us with them). If you enjoy the spiritual wanderlust of Pisces energy, you may be complaining right now that something is holding you back from flying free. Your Inner Saturn (or the outer forces that reflect it) may want you to double and triple check that you are well prepared to land safely from your journey, or that you can take the fruits of your adventure and put them to constructive use.

By maintaining a stable balance between reverie and reality, you can potentially achieve the best of both worlds. But in the meantime, they are in competition for your favour and commitment. Decide! Saturn demands that you choose which side of Pisces you will lean toward, as well as how you will manifest this in the world around you.

Saturn is still in Scorpio (although doing his final march toward Sagittarius for his Sep.17 return). So, when he makes demands, he doesn't usually leave much wiggle room to negotiate. The exception is if you are coming from a deep, authentic place of passion. In that case, you're being real—internal reality. If you dig a little deeper into what is at stake inside of you and in your life where it comes to contending with Piscean issues, then you can probably forge an path between them that is all your own. Either way, some self-honesty and authenticity will help to flesh out both the demons and dreams that tempt you. Once you can see their reality, it will be much easier to deal with them, whether you want to embrace or escape them.

In the end, Saturn can be an unexpected ally who applies some tough love in an effort to help you clarify what you want, what you're capable of, what you need to do to make it happen and what the results are likely to be.

Together, these 5 astrological energies—Sun, Moon, Jupiter, Neptune and Saturn—can, through noble struggle and effort, reach a place of integration and balance. That's the sweet spot. When you can marvel at the vast splendour of the sky, while fully grounded and centered in your body and with both feet embracing the earth. That is where they all meet. And the path stretches into infinity from there.

And an old priest said, Speak to us of Religion. And he said:
Have I spoken this day of aught else?
Is not religion all deeds and all reflection,
And that which is neither deed nor reflection,
but a wonder and a surprise ever springing in the soul,
even while the hands hew the stone or tend the loom?
~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Aug.31 – Sun opposite Neptune (08:24 of Virgo/Pisces)   (Sep.01 in ADT, NDT, UK, AU)

For a few days, you are face to face with the boundless universe! This could come to you in a number of ways, from creative inspiration to vivid dreams to enchanted encounters with great mystery. There is a tension now between clarity of purpose and infinite vision; between being centred in yourself versus being connected to the Great Unknown; and/or between personal independence and autonomy versus blurred boundaries with a person or situation. If you lose your bearings, you could feel some depression, lethargy or confusion. Your dreams, longings and expectations may be rooted more in wishful thinking than reality right now, which could lead to disappointment or disillusionment. It's a good idea to do a reality check with a trusted friend if you need to make any important decisions. On the other hand, you are also able to see your hopes, dreams and illusions more clearly than usual, reflected back through other people or the outside world. It may be like looking in a cosmic mirror that shows you what's going on in your subconscious. Just remember that it may be hard to tell which is the real thing and which is the mirrored reflection. Just like a dream, you might get better insight by interpreting them intuitively rather than literally. Try expressing your experiences, feelings and perceptions in ways that are poetic, artistic, creative and non-rational.

Sep.01 – Venus Retrograde conjunct Mars (14:55 of Leo)   (Aug.31 in HAST, AKDT, PDT, MDT)

Diplomacy and harmony combine with forcefulness and enthusiasm under this transit. How you experience the results will depend in part on which you value more – winning (Mars dominant) or resolution (Venus dominant). One possibility is being able to negotiate agreements with others in assertive ways; another possibility is being able to confront others with gentleness and diplomacy. The courage to act could become either blunted or enhanced by an increased sensitivity to how your actions could affect others. Your ability to negotiate a diplomatic solution to a problem might be sabotaged by impatience, frustration or too much directness – or that same forcefulness might help by keeping things from getting bogging down or by injecting an infectious enthusiasm to the discussion. Although the effects could look very different in various situations, the best results will likely be found by using the best of both of these opposite energies.

Sep.05 – Sun trine Pluto (13:04 of Virgo/Capricorn)   (Sep.06 in UK, AU)

Your sense of purpose is strong now, as you are able to tap into a deeper level of energy and determination. Your personality is likely to be more forceful now, which can be great if you need to make a strong impression but perhaps not so much in situations requiring delicacy or subtlety. Your ability to see below the surface of things is especially clear, and it may be possible to unearth secrets or get at the core of unconscious patterns (yours or others'). This is a time when your personal presence may come across as somewhat "larger than life," so you need to remember that a little goes a long way during this transit. This could be a time when you suddenly find the strength to stand up and assert your personal power in a situation that has felt overwhelming or discouraging. On the other hand, if you are still struggling to learn how to own your power, without using nuclear bombs to make your point, you may still feel a bit overwhelmed or daunted by this transit. In that case, take smaller steps and don't try to push the river.

Sep.06 – Venus Stationary Direct (14:23 of Leo; until Mar.04.2017)   (Sep.05 in HAST)  ("What's a Station?"  "What does Retrograde mean?"  Read more about Venus Retrograde.  Read even more about Venus Retrograde.  Read more about Retrograde planets.)

For up to a week before and after this date, you may experience or witness a shifting of energy affecting finances, relationships, love, resources, values pleasure, beauty, harmony and/or balance. Situations or issues related to these areas that have been occupying your attention during the past 6-7 weeks (while Venus has been retrograde) may reach a turning point now. It is a time when decisions and choices could be made—perhaps out of necessity.

If you have felt unusually introverted or extroverted during the retrograde period, this could shift back the other way again. If you have experienced difficulties or challenges in close relationships, this may be a time when decisions can (and perhaps must) to be made about them. Adjustments, compromises or renegotiations may be necessary; and if this is not possible or tolerable, it might be necessary to consider ending the relationship. During the retrograde phase, you may have encountered people or social situations from your past, and now it's time to decide if you want to continue with the contact or to bring closure and move on.

You might have experienced a change in your finances—for the better or worse. This change could simply revert to its previous state, according to a natural cycle of ebb and flow. Or, you might be faced with a choice of what to do from here—to change something in your life so that your situation improves (or so that an improvement continues), or to let go and move beyond this period of temporary change.

Whatever you have learned, embraced, questioned or invested your time in during the last 6-7 weeks, you will begin to apply and integrate in a new way over the next 4-5 weeks (while Venus is in the Shadow). This has been a detour allowing you to explore hidden territory, complete unfinished business or reconsider possibilities in the affected areas listed above. It's time to come back to the main path again, bringing with you new learning and values that will gradually be integrated into your life. The Direct Station is another shift in your life's balance point that enables you to keep moving, changing, growing and evolving.

The key dates of this Venus cycle (for North American Eastern Time):

For more information, read my article on Venus Retrograde 2015 ~ Thrills, Frills and Spills!

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Sep.08 – Mars trine Uranus (19:45 of Leo/Aries)   (Sep.09 in AU)

This is a very high energy time, although not necessarily predictable or reliable. Your energy may come in spurts or in response to situations that don't normally affect you very much. You may find an upsurge of daring and confidence that seem to come out of nowhere. Or your sexual desire might suddenly come alive. This transit can inspire motivation that is spontaneous, sudden or unexpected. It might make your physical or emotional energy fluctuate or feel a bit "wired." However, it can also give a burst of courage and drive that can propel you out of a rut or inspire you to break free of limitations. Freedom, liberation and asserting your individuality are key areas that can ignite this energy. You might also find yourself involved in group activities, possibly in a leadership role or in a way that your ideas have a greater effect than usual on others.

Sep.09 – Mercury Direct square Pluto (13:02 of Libra/Capricorn)   (Sep.10 in AU)

You are faced now with a challenge to empower your communication and perceptions, although this may not come easily. It could involve having to face some rather difficult truths that might be a bit disturbing or hard to accept. However in doing so, you gain a deeper understanding and acceptance of yourself, your situation and your role within it. Obsessive or persistent thoughts that are morbid or paranoid are possible, which could be helped by finding something more positive to focus on or a creative outlet. Communication (from others or yourself or both) could be intense, intimidating or even downright damaging, since it may be tempting to get caught up in power struggles and domination. But communication can also be used now to heal, by cutting through hypocrisy and insincerity in order to reach a deeper authenticity and truth – like lancing a boil so that healing can take place.

Sep.12 – Sun opposite Chiron (19:12 of Virgo/Pisces)   (Sep.11 in HAST, AKDT, PDT)

This transit can bring a challenge to your sense of personal purpose versus the trans-personal vision of possibilities. This could play out in many areas; for instance, spirituality, career, life direction, physical or emotional healing, etc. Perhaps you are feeling a conflict between what you want to gain on a personal level versus a higher vision of what you could be capable of. The problem is that to reach for greater possibilities, you have to move beyond your comfort zone. There is a certain amount of risk and sacrifice involved in any kind of growth. You might worry that moving into a larger context could undermine your self-esteem by making you feel small or inadequate. You may be concerned that you'd have to give up personal rewards in order to achieve that higher vision. Regardless of how this plays out in your life, the struggle to find a balance you can live with – between what is and what could be – is the purpose of this transit. Later it will be time to take further action, but for how it is important to grapple with the dynamics of your situation which will lead to a decision.

Next Update:  SOLAR ECLIPSE ~ NEW MOON in VIRGO - available by September 13, 2015.

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