The Low-Down on the Far-Out

Solar Eclipse in Leo, August 2018

Chart for the Solar Eclipse ~ New Moon in Leo
Chart for the Solar Eclipse ~ New Moon in Leo

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.
~Albert Einstein (source and other translations)

Aug.11 – SOLAR ECLIPSE ~ NEW MOON in LEO (18:41 of Leo)

Another one??!!

Yes, this has been an unusually active, intense, stressful and LONG eclipse season! One reason for that is that we have three eclipses in a row instead of the usual 2 – Solar Eclipse (Jul.12: Cancer), Lunar Eclipse (Jul.27: Aquarius) and another Solar Eclipse (Aug.11: Leo). Intensity is the norm around the eclipses but having an extra eclipse in a row just adds to the energy.

In addition, Mars is Retrograde as well as Out of Bounds (OOB), both of which crank up Mars energy to an unusually loud volume.

And Mercury is still Retrograde, which always means a fun and exciting time! {*cough*}

There is also a plethora of aspect patterns, each of which adds rich, strange and wonderful harmonics to an already impassioned symphony of energies:

On top of that, we currently have SEVEN planets retrograde! That's 7 out of 9 major planetary bodies that are even capable of going retrograde (excluding the Sun and Moon, of course). (See the Retrograde Table at the end of this article for details.)

Being retrograde often gets a bad rap. It doesn't reverse the meaning of a planet, and it doesn't really give a negative connotation. Rather, there is primarily an internal focus of that energy instead of external.

It's good for speculating, meditating, planning and exploring your motives, priorities and reactions, especially where they are rooted deep within. It tends not to be so great if you're trying to manifest something or make progress in the outside world.

So, if you've been feeling a bit like a salmon swimming upstream lately, this is probably a big part of the reason why!

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.
~ Martha Graham

Many people thrive on this kind of intensity and enjoy the passionate peaks and valleys of experiences under these kinds of transits. It can be great to flow with the go, but also be ready for the twists and turns that might trip you up.

Others may find this energy more frustrating, disruptive, upsetting or overwhelming. When you feel like you've been knocked out of your centre by stress or turmoil, it's not always easy to keep the faith. This Solar Eclipse in Leo is a time that could test how resilient, flexible, effective or committed your faith is in the world, in life, in others and in yourself.

As much as eclipses often have a terrible reputation, and as much as we do have a lot of tense energy circling overhead these days, it's not necessarily going to be a super heavy time. But the current transits are likely to bring some speed bumps, roadblocks and detours—big or small—that will challenge you to recalibrate your sense of faith and hope.

Trying times can result in reconnecting with a clearer sense of optimism and reminding yourself that, despite difficulties, there are things you can believe in. It may be necessary to stray a bit off your usual path to go hunting for that lost thread of confidence that slipped away from you, but there are treasures to be found if you're willing to go after them.

Consider this a time of spiritual adventure – a chance to restore your spirit perhaps by losing it a little.

You may be rediscovering something or someone that used to light up your life that long ago you had to let go of due to too much disappointment. Perhaps now you're seeing it/them again with fresh eyes and remembering the good times, yet concerned that you might fall into the same problems as before. There are no guarantees it will be better this time, of course, but at the very least, the process of exploring the possibilities can uncover new information, insights, ideas and opportunities.

At worst this eclipse might feel like a crisis of faith—in yourself, in someone else, in humanity, in life. On the other hand, you might experience a breakthrough when the storm clouds overhead suddenly part and the Sun peeks through. You might find you swing back and forth between extremes of feeling very optimistic and feeling discouraged and disheartened.

Welcome to the Solar Eclipse in Leo.

He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.
~ Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

So, what does all this have to do with Leo as a zodiac sign?

Whatever aspect of life we engage in and whatever we experience about life, it reflects, reinforces or reveals something about who we are. And that's Leo's territory.

Leo is the expression of who you are as an individual. It's personal. It's about how you shine and what brings out your light. It's your particular style and how you perform and present yourself.

Leo is your identity and sense of self, both the inward experience of this and the outward expression of it. What mirrors do you need in your life to reflect back who you are? Everyone needs that mirroring – it helps you present yourself in the best light. It lets you check for flaws, like having a fleck of spinach in your teeth.

We send our expressive light out into the world and then watch to see what kind of feedback we get. This is a basic component of theatrical acting – how well did you perform yourself? Did you get polite applause or a standing ovation?

Getting this positive feedback is essential to help us have confidence in ourselves. It is crucial to receive a healthy amount of this from birth. It's a struggle to learn to believe in ourselves later in life if we didn't get enough when we're young. In that case, it's much easier to succumb to self-doubt and dismiss self-esteem as undeserved. Without a strong sense of spirit, we're more likely to experience inhibition instead of confidence and excessive conformity instead of creativity.

Flower growing through pavement

But we are who we are apart from the events and circumstances that reshape how we see ourselves and express ourselves. We still carry that essential light within us.

No matter how dirty our self-image gets, our inner light can still shine out through our window on the world. It might be a little dimmed but it's still there.

Some people more than others seem to "come in with" a stronger sense of their spirit, greater determination to move beyond the things that hold us back, and a stronger will to survive and thrive. But we all have those qualities. It is an essential quality of all life to endure. The life force within all living things may be fragile—it can be altered, interfered with or deterred—but it is also extremely resilient, persistent and dominant.

The life force is hard to destroy. Just ask any piece of asphalt that has been broken by the perseverance of a flower determined to emerge and grow. That life force in us is the Leo part of us. And no matter how dulled, distorted, dampened or despicable we feel we are, that brilliant light is there inside, just waiting to be cleaned up and brought out.

So, a New Moon in Leo opens up an opportunity to dust off your self-perception to let yourself shine out and let the feedback from others come in.

If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.
~ Albert Camus (Thanks to Rob Brezsny for this quote.)

The challenging part of this Solar Eclipse in Leo comes largely from Jupiter in square aspect to the Sun and Moon (90°). Jupiter carries our sense of faith, hope and optimism in life and in ourselves. It symbolizes our beliefs about what life is and our place within it. And it reflects our vision of what it means to live well both morally and abundantly.

We tend to think of Jupiter as the celestial Santa Claus who only brings good things, like luck and good fortune, but it is possible to get too much of a good thing. Limitless confidence can become arrogance or blind folly. Extreme hope might miss the warning signs of problems that could otherwise be avoided. Unquestioned faith or dedication can paint your entire view in your one preferred colour, and you'll miss the diversity of the full-colour spectrum that life has to offer.

If we adhere to only one way of seeing things long enough, life can come and interrupt our perceptions. This can be illuminating or inspiring, although if we're especially attached to the way we have been seeing things, the disruption can be disillusioning or disturbing. And with Jupiter in Scorpio right now, this awakening could hit you in a very deep, tender or primal place.

Jupiter is also square Mercury. In fact, the Jupiter-Mercury square is the second closest aspect in the chart (0:06 orb, separating) after the Sun-Moon conjunction. Mercury is also conjunct the Sun and Moon and retrograde (until Aug.19).

However, since this involves a dynamic and stressful square aspect (90°) this is not simply a happy merging of energies. Instead, this is a challenge to reach deep below your assumptions—about who you are, about how you understand the world, about what you expect from others—to discover whether there might be a different way to see things.

The result is a dramatic expansion of Mercury qualities using Jupiter qualities, and vice versa. So, thoughts and ideas may become bigger, more expansive and sweeping in their scope. But it's also easier to get carried away by an opinion that is impractical, judgmental or presumptuous.

Communication can be inspiring and passionate, but also more apt to overstate our position or make promises that can't easily be kept. It may also become more important to see our ideals reflected in the world around us, and so we may become scornful of those who do not fulfil or support that vision.

If that moment was a Russian nesting doll, I was paying attention to the smallest figurine. I did not see all the other metaphorical dolls. The one wrapped around the smallest one, and the one wrapped around the next-smallest one and the next and the next after that. What neurotypical people call the context.
~ Julie Buxbaum, What to Say Next

Jupiter is all about the Big Picture. It teaches us that context is extremely important when you're trying to determine Truth. Nothing exists in a vacuum. The perception and meaning about something are always modified by its surroundings.

For instance, a colour will look very different depending on the colours and contrasts you put with it. In the same way, we can see different aspects of a person, place or situation by looking at them through various angles, perspectives and contexts.

It's not that the person or situation has changed, but the context around them brings out certain features while others seem to recede. The attributes that seem more obvious—and therefore appear to be more important—influence our decision about what to do next. Yet those other parts are still there.

Optical illusion - The Dress
Remember "The Dress?" It's a perfect example of how something can look different depending on the context. Click to watch a video that explains it all.

So, even though everyone looks at the same thing, we're each seeing it differently. But if we don't realize that our view is slanted somewhat by how we are looking at it, it's easy to assume that there's only one "right" way to see it and that is our way. If we assume there's only one way to see something, it seems logical to conclude that everyone else is wrong, period.

This is the trap within Jupiter's apparently open-ended nature. Jupiter's wide-angle lens can show us that the world is much bigger and more complex than we had imagined, but we have to go exploring to find it. Jupiter shines a light on what we can see, and then says, "But wait—there's more!"

The greater truth we seek is just over the next horizon, right where we can't see it yet. Or, we can see the tip of something peeking over the far horizon, but when we get there it may look very different from what we expect.

Each view we have of something shows a different yet legitimate facet of that person or situation. Truth is reached by expanding our awareness, learning, knowledge and understanding. Growth and learning consist of constantly widening our horizon of awareness and understanding. Wisdom is acquired by exercising flexibility of perspective and knowing that there's always more to discover.

Some people seem to fade away but then when they are truly gone, it's like they didn't fade away at all.
~ Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Volume One

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This Solar Eclipse conjunct Mercury and square Jupiter challenges you to see where you might be short-sighted or in need of expanding your horizons. Since we're dealing with the tense square aspect, this challenge may well present itself as a problem or crisis.

For example: Frustration about other people's closedmindedness. A feeling of hopelessness or crisis of faith. A realization that the destination you'd envisioned for yourself doesn't seem possible after all. Feeling disappointed or disillusioned that something or someone you have believed in is showing that they are less than perfect, perhaps even the opposite of what you had thought. A yearning that you need a stronger, more intimate connection to Something Greater Than Yourself in order to see yourself or the world in a broader, more illuminating context.

Jupiter in Scorpio indicates that true understanding requires you to dig deep below the surface of what things seem to be. The enlightenment you seek isn't simply "out there" somewhere. It lies buried within you, below what you already know, down into the depths of your thoughts, feelings, desires and attitudes that are camouflaged in plain sight ...if you just try looking within from a different perspective.

Trying to take in the depth and breadth of greater understanding can leave you feeling like you've just swallowed a watermelon whole and now you have a huge psychic tummy ache. It helps to give yourself time and space to digest what is happening, what you're struggling to comprehend and communicate, and how your new viewpoint changes what you thought you knew.

Allow yourself to express this process of illumination in Leo ways. If you're artistic—and even if you're not—then paint, draw, sculpt, sew, photograph, play with Photoshop, or doodle. Dance. Listen to music, go to an art gallery, sit in the park and listen to the buskers. Do a fun ritual to celebrate the fact that you have survived all the stresses in your life and you are stronger than you thought. Light a candle to remind you that there is always hope, even if you can't see it.

Retrograde Table

Here are the dates for the multiple retrograde planets from June to September, repeated from the last update:

Date RangeHow Many Rx MerMar JupSat UraNep PluChi
Jun.18 to Jun.264 Rx XXXX
Jun.26 to Jul.055 Rx XXXX
Jul.05 to Jul.106 Rx XXXXX X
Jul.10 to Jul.265 Rx XXXX X
Jul.26 to Aug.076 Rx XXXXX X
Aug.07 to Aug.197 Rx XXXXXX X
Aug.19 to Sep.066 Rx XXXXX X
Aug.27 to Sep.065 Rx XXXX X
Sep.06 to Sep.304 Rx     XXX X

© Evolving Door Astrology

I seem to have run in a great circle, and met myself again on the starting line.
~ Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

Aug.12 – Venus sextile North Lunar Node (05:52 of Libra/Leo)  (Aug.13 in AU)  ("What's a Lunar Node?")

Your charisma and charm shine a little brighter during this transit. You may be more receptive to what others have to offer, or you might feel more generous with those around you. You could find just the right thingamajig to buy, or you may discover resources you didn't realize you had. It can be a good time to socialize, go on a date, schmooze strategically with people or negotiate an agreement. Aim for a balance of give-and-take in a way that benefits all concerned. Just be careful not to become so seductive that you persuade someone to do your bidding when it's not in their—or your—best interests.

Aug.12 – Mars retrograde enters Capricorn (until Sep.10)  (Aug.13 in ADT, NDT, UK, AU)

Mars works very well in Capricorn – in fact, Mars can be quite the little workhorse! Action that pursues your ambitions, goals, projects or objectives can make serious progress under this transit. It may be easier to pace yourself and be disciplined in how you use your energy and effort now. Taking a serious, responsible attitude in your actions is likely to produce positive results, even more-so than usual. On the other hand, if you have difficulty with these qualities, and tend to rebel or fight to preserve your freedom, you might feel more like you're being strapped into a yoke and harness and ordered to plough the fields. However, the amount of serious, authentic work you're willing to put your energy into will likely pay off in kind. It can be a good time to show leadership or to make independent decisions that lead by example. Taking risks will make more sense if you prepare your strategy and map out your plan of action.

You may recall that Mars was in Capricorn from Mar.17 to May.16. Now Mars retrogrades back into Capricorn for a few weeks, where he will go direct on Aug.27. Think back to what you were doing in March, April and May. You might have the opportunity to go back and tie up some loose ends, correct some things that didn't work out quite right, revise plans you made at that time, or try on some new ways of managing your energy, anger, assertiveness or confidence.

Aug.16 – Venus-Sun Greatest Elongation as Evening Star (approx. 9° of Libra)   ("What's the Shadow?"  Read my articles about Retrograde Cycles.  Read my article about Venus Retrograde.)

Venus reaches her greatest elongation from the Sun approximately today (give or take a day or two). She is as far away from the Sun (from Earth's perspective) and as high in the sky, as she's going to get during this period when she is known as the Evening Star. For several months before this time, she can be seen higher and brighter in the western sky after sunset.

Around this time, Venus energy is especially strong and clear. Love is perhaps in the air and pleasure takes a higher priority. You may be drawn to people, places, things and activities that make you feel good, loving and lovable. It could feel like the perfect time to buy that wonderful bling you saw the other day, or to indulge your desires like your favorite food.

A word of caution, though. You might find you're pulled into a spending spree or overdoing it in feel-good activities. Just remember that your body, your relationship, your credit card are going to have to deal with the consequences of whatever you do now. Use your best judgment.

Here are the key dates of this Venus cycle (for North American Eastern Time):


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Aug.18 – Mercury retrograde sextile Venus (11:32 of Leo/Libra)  (Aug.19 in AU)

There is a potential to benefit from social connections, diplomatic communication and receptive awareness during this transit, although a certain amount of effort is needed to make this happen. It can be a good time for negotiating contracts and other agreements, especially if you consciously focus your intent on achieving balance with your counterpart, partner or opponent that results in a win-win situation for all concerned. There is also potential to appreciate and express beauty, pleasure and sensuality. If there's someone in your life that you want to get closer to, try speaking gently and listening receptively, which can be the key that opens the door to harmonious interaction. Creative ideas can also find expression now if you apply your conscious awareness to bring them into focus. The thing to watch for is a tendency to use manipulation to achieve an advantage, which might be done by you or to you. Keep communication straightforward and clear, and find diplomatic ways to deal with manipulation if you sense it happening.

Aug.18–Sep.02 – Grand Trine in Earth Signs (Sun, Saturn, Uranus)

This beautiful Grand Trine aspect pattern starts to form around Aug.18 and stays in orb until about Sep.02. It is closest on Aug.25, when the Sun, Saturn and Uranus all light up the skies at 2° of their respective signs. This Grand Trine also features prominently in the upcoming Full Moon in Pisces, where the Sun-Moon opposition turns the Grand Trine into a Kite figure (more about that in the next update).

In the meantime, you have about a week before and after it is exact to bask in the cooperative, flowing, combined energies of this distinctive group of planets. Uranus in Taurus brings the urge to break the habitual rhythm of established situations that are operating more on auto-pilot than part of a living system of growth.

Saturn in Capricorn wants to protect the good parts of those established situations—no point throwing the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. All that change that Uranus wants to generate still needs a stabilizing force so that healing and reconciliation can take place.

The Sun in Virgo is there to ensure that changes are specific, effective and efficient. Broad sweeping changes may be effective but there can be a lot of good that gets wasted. Why use a flame-thrower if a laser beam will do what's needed without collateral damage?

So, during these 2 weeks, culminating around Aug.25-26, watch for opportunities that come your way. This could be a chance to create some change that can be effective without being overly chaotic. The Full Moon in Pisces coming on Aug.26 will help you bring your vision into focus and imprint it on what you are manifesting.

Aug.19 – Mercury Stationary Direct (11:31 of Leo; direct until Nov.16)  (Aug.18 in HAST, AKDT, PDT, MDT, CDT)  ("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.

Here are the key dates of this Mercury cycle (for North American Eastern Time):

Here are the key dates of this Mercury cycle (for North American Eastern Time):

Aug.19 – Jupiter trine Neptune (15:36 of Scorpio/Pisces)  (Aug.18 in HAST, AKDT)

This long-term process brings the opportunity to integrate healing, beauty, imagination, spirituality and uplifting optimism. You may also see yourself become so caught up in hope, optimism and euphoria that it's easy to get a bit too carried away, leaving realism behind. Although falling into fantasy and wishful thinking can make you more susceptible to illusion and deception, it can also bring healing inspiration and dedication when you need it most. This can be a time when you bring into clearer focus a new sense of faith (in terms of religious beliefs, or just faith in life and in yourself). You may now be able to see beyond your usual horizons to the distant possibilities open to you, if you can keep that new faith in focus. This inspiration may not last in its current form, but can be used to clarify and enhance the goals you have been pursuing for many years, as well as formulate some new ones.

Aug.23 – Sun enters Virgo (until Sep.22)  (Aug.22 in HAST, AKDT, PDT, MDT, CDT)

Happy Solar Return to all Virgos! While the Sun is in Virgo, we are all honorary Virgos. You are encouraged to clean out the toxins in your body and mind. Organise and tidy up your life, in whatever ways it is "a mess." And take stock of the ways you give service and make a contribution to the world around you. Take some time to pay attention to the details and precision of what you do, and appreciate how much you can do with very little. During this transit, organisation, useful procedures and practical application come together to form the key that opens the door to effectiveness, efficiency and improvement. This is a good time to adopt a service-oriented attitude, whether that involves being helpful to someone else or dedicated to your own healing and betterment. You could volunteer your time. Or, perform some "random acts of kindness." Or, just do something nice for someone. Projects and problem solving may work a bit better if you take an analytical, methodical approach to them (rather than intuitive or guessing). This is a good time to assimilate and "digest" the results of any preparation you've been doing toward a project, goal or production. Weed out what doesn't work and what doesn't support your efforts, and then reorganise and simplify whatever is left. Just don't get so carried away that you throw away something that's important to you or your goals.

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Aug.25 – Sun trine Uranus (02:25 of Virgo/Taurus)  (Aug.26 in AU)

You are more open than usual to spontaneity, surprises and "flying by the seat of your pants!" Your sense of humour and fun are let loose during this transit, as is your ability to break out of old outworn habits. You may get a flash of insight, a burst of courage or a surge of inspiration under this transit. The spirit of who you are can become released now, possibly leading to you behaving a bit "out of character." It's a great time to try new things and experiment with something that's out of character for you. In fact, it may be surprising how easy it is to break out of your usual much so, that it's good to be careful not to be too reckless under this transit. If your self-confidence, self-expression or self-esteem have been stifled or dampened lately, these could come flying out rather erratically, carelessly or chaotically. Strive to have fun pushing the envelope without ripping it. ;-)

Aug.25 – Sun trine Saturn (02:38 of Virgo/Capricorn)  (Aug.26 in 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.


Next Update:  FULL MOON in PISCES. Available by August 26, 2018.

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