The Low-Down on the Far-Out

2nd New Moon in Cancer, July 20, 2020

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

(Second) New Moon in Cancer
Once More... With Feeling!

Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.
~ Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

Jul.20 – NEW MOON in CANCER (28:26 of Cancer)

So, here we are again. Second New Moon in Cancer. The first one? The Solar Eclipse in Cancer, of course. A Solar Eclipse is basically a New Moon with a flare for the dramatic. That one was at zero degrees of Cancer, and with zero-degree New or Full Moons, the next one is usually around 28 or 29 degrees of the same sign.

New Moon opposite Saturn

So, what happens now? Well, we get to revisit a new beginning (New Moon) steeped in Cancer energy. The previous one—the Jun.21 Solar Eclipse—was quite the spectacle, with an Out of Bounds Moon, two stationary planets (Mercury SR and Venus SD), Mars squaring the eclipse point, and Saturn at 0° Aquarius, the same degree where it will later conjoin Jupiter in December.

This New Moon in Cancer puts on a show as well, but not as jazzy as the eclipse. Probably the biggest showstopper is that the Sun and Moon are exactly opposite Saturn (180°), all of them at 28° of Cancer and Capricorn. The Sun and Moon are also still within orb of opposing Jupiter and Pluto (7° and 5° orbs, respectively), although that energy is separating and therefore waning.

Parallel planets

In addition, Sun and Mercury are exactly parallel and both are exactly contra-parallel to Saturn. In other words, they're all at 20° of declination, but on opposite sides of the equator. And in this case, they're all tightly squeezed into a mere quarter of a degree. This adds extra emphasis to the Sun-Saturn opposition, and also pulls Mercury into the dynamic via declination.

Mercury isn't part of the opposition, other than being tied in through its parallel to the Sun. However, there is actually a precise Quadri-novile aspect between Mercury and Saturn – 160° apart with 0:00 degrees of orb.

Mercury aspects to Saturn and Pluto

The Novile family of aspects are from the 9th harmonic, based on multiples and divisions of 40°. Noviles are cousins of the easy-flowing Trine and Sextile families. This implies a yearning for creative expression of thoughts and perceptions in a way that is clear, concise and logical.

Mercury also has a virtually-precise Quindecile aspect to Pluto (165° at just 1 minute of orb), which has both brilliance and an obsessive quality about it. If you focus your awareness on the sub-text of what is happening around you, you may pick up some intuitive flashes that are worth researching or thinking more deeply about.

Most of your healing journey will be about
unlearning the patterns of self-protection
that once kept you safe.
~ Vironika Tugaleva

We've just been through three eclipses in a row (Lunar June 5, Solar June 21, Lunar July 5). In every one, Mars added some spicy heat via a square aspect to each eclipse point. And in fact, Mars exactly squares the last Lunar Eclipse point on Jul.22, just 2 days after this New Moon. So, although Mars is not squaring the Sun and Moon in this current chart, his presence is still adding heat in the background...

...And also in the foreground, but in a different way. Mars is closely square Mercury (90°) in this New Moon chart. When it becomes exact on Jul.27, it will be the last of 3 passes during Mercury's recent retrograde cycle: May. 11, Jul.08 and Jul.27 – and in fact, Mercury and Mars remain within 6° throughout the entire month of July.

Mercury square Mars

So, Mercury and Mars might be poking at you if you're feeling a little on edge, impatient, itching to speak your mind about inflammatory issues, or just wanting to slam the door on all the controversy. Certainly we have been seeing reports in the last few weeks of people going off the rails with over-the-top reactions to things they disagree with (a classic example is the often-volatile objections to wearing a COVID mask). Tempers all round have been very short in recent weeks, and assuming Mercury-Mars is an astrological factor, I think we will likely see more of it for the rest of the month.

Mercury and Mars aren't all disruptive or destructive, though. When used from a centered and grounded place, they can be good for debating, research, writing and other forms of self-expression. But for the most constructive results, you'll need to pull yourself back from teetering over the edge of hostility, rage, vengeance or even violence.

There's a lot of motivating energy there, so find a positive outlet that lets you express what you're feeling, thinking or imagining. Find positive ways to circumvent the risk of getting so riled up that you become tongue-tied, which at its worst can feel like the only way to express it is explosively or physically ...like on someone's head. Better to pound a pillow, if it comes to that.

Mars, Chiron, Mercury, Uranus

Mars is still conjunct Chiron, so aim to use your emotional venting and physical expression in healing ways rather than inflicting more wounding. Uranus is sextile Mercury and semi-sextile Chiron and Mars (30°), so it's good to get it out but to avoid destructive consequences.

Use your words. If there's something controversial you need to say, write it out first in a letter that you don't mail. Try out different ways of saying what you need to say. Or try it out on a trusted friend who will listen and give you feedback. You'll find that your thinking and understanding usually become clearer when you say it in a more private, safe environment first (where you won't hurt someone, including yourself).

Solitude is where I place my chaos to rest
and awaken my inner peace.
~ Nikki Rowe

Back to the Cancer New Moon. Cancer is ultimately about feelings (Water sign) and how we channel our feelings into a focused purpose (Cardinal sign). From this we get an association with our parents and our childhood, nurturing and support, safety and belonging, as well as our past including through family and ancestry. Cancer represents our emotional needs, especially for safety, security and a solid foundation on which we can build our lives. And it's about shelter, both as an emotional refuge and a place to call home.

A New Moon in Cancer is a time when you have an opportunity to explore these issues to see if changes need to be made, to check out what progress has been made, or to consider launching a new initiative in the area of family, home, emotional security, or your support system. It might be as simple as tending to your home environment, or as abstract as taking care of your greater Human Family.

For most of us in 2020, Cancer manifests most often in terms of our emotional or feeling state. So a lunar cycle beginning in that sign is about checking in to see how stressed out you or your loved ones are, and to assess the health of your connection with each other. Perhaps there's something missing that can enable a more grounded and centered emotional state. It may also be a good time to reach out to others who need some extra connection from a friendly voice or face.

We've been in the Cancer cycle for the last 4 weeks, since the Solar Eclipse. So, this second lunar cycle can be a time to evaluate how effective you're being in Cancer areas. If you feel you're now in calmer waters, then awesome – now it may be time to consider what more could evolve from where you are. One option might be to help others achieve this who are still struggling to keep their head above choppy waters. Or, you might consider what you have had to put aside in order to deal with more immediate emotional challenges, and whether you're in a better position to continue where you left off.

I know there is strength in the differences between us.
I know there is comfort, where we overlap.
~ Ani DiFranco

Cancer territory also includes the human need for belonging. That could be your actual family or your extended support system (close friends, significant others), On a more abstract level, it might even include your culture, nationality, religion, community or any collective that you identify with and find comfort in. Although these things aren't necessarily associated directly with Cancer, the concept of belonging extends much farther and deeper than just family.

To feed the need for belonging, we require connection. We need to feel connected to others we care about—being "on the same page" or seeing eye-to-eye on certain important things. And we sometimes need to be reminded that they care about us too. We need to feel seen and heard, and we need to believe that we are significant to someone, somewhere in the world, even if we can't be with them right now, and to make sure they know they are also important to us.

Between the fear of catching COVID-19 and the greatly reduced social contact we've endured for the last 6 months, many of us have struggled with feelings of depression, anxiety, impatience, loneliness, isolation, boredom or alienation. We might be tangled up with old inner demons that have come back to haunt, including addictions, obsessions, and other coping mechanisms that create more problems than they solve in the long run.

So, this lunar cycle that begins with the New Moon in Cancer is a time to examine how you have nurtured yourself and how effective that is. Most of us will fall short of perfection in this quest, and that's okay. We may still find there are adjustments that can be made, so that any resulting consequences become less problematic, and the benefits become healthier and more enduring.

Peace is not always easy to grasp or keep close. In the process of attaining and protecting it, you may find yourself tired, weary, and uncertain on how to keep your peace safe. While being uncertain is normal, continue to commit yourself to peacefulness. You are worthy of every drop of sweetness and ease that you encounter. Being tested is a part of the journey. Giving up, and letting go, is not.
~ Alex Elle

Saturn opposes the New Moon exactly. This usually evokes an "Ouch." The easy interpretation is to say this indicates problems, and that might be true. But there are also other potentials, opportunities and benefits that Saturn can bring. That said, Saturn is no fluffy bunny. And while he doesn't always have to play the Big Bad Guy, he's still a serious force to be reckoned with. Stuff gets real, and you have decisions to make.

So let's look at all of it – the good, the bad and the ugly.

We often experience Saturn as a problem initially. Let's face it, it feels good when we can just be free and loose and soaring and limitless. So when Saturn comes along, it can feel a bit like your wings just got clipped. We typically love the freedom of Jupiter where we can luxuriate in self-determination, doing whatever we want to do, going where the spirit moves us. But Saturn comes along and says, "You want self-determination? Then you have to learn to take responsibility for the consequences of your actions."

Example: you're out walking and you trip and stub your toe and now you're mad at the tree for putting its roots in your way. As we mature, of course, we learn how to let go of that impulse of anger and blame, and we realize we just need to watch where we're going. But in those first moments, we're 2 years old again, feeling furious and betrayed by the Universe for letting harm come to us.

The process that enables the 2-year-old to become an adult—in the moment or in your lifetime—that's Saturn. It doesn't always feel good while it's happening, and we may long for the days, or the myth, when we could delegate responsibility for our safety to the Big People (parents, other adults, the Universe, etc). Nevertheless, Saturn's process gives us confidence, skills, abilities, alternatives and strengths that we couldn't get any other way.

Crocodile on bridge

So, here comes transiting Saturn opposing the New Moon, looking perhaps like a meme that's been going around on Facebook of a big ol' crocodile squatting on a footbridge over a river. ;-) Not quite what you were hoping for on this journey, I imagine, but there he is. What are you going to do? Turn and run? Find another way to cross the stream? Try to climb over it? Scare it off? Negotiate with it? Call the authorities to remove it? Decide to stay on your side of the stream?

It's your choice. Pick one. Whatever you're going to do, you will need to commit to it.

Choice is a fundamental part of the work with Saturn. Take all of Jupiter's myriad possibilities and pick one that you will follow, develop and commit to. You can't do it all, so you have to pick one. Even if you figure you'll come back to the rest later, you won't necessarily be the same person then because Saturn shapes us, changes us, and steers us into an alternate position where the world looks different and so are we.

With Saturn, it's time to get real. What's your bottom-line priority? What's most important to you? What result do you want to end up with, and which doorway do you need to walk through to get there?

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

The Saturn part of us often loves to take a stand and say No. And when there is disagreement that can't be resolved by agreed-upon logic or facts we may agree to disagree, but if we feel the issue is important enough we may simply put our Saturnian foot down. No, I can't agree to this. No, I won't do this. No, I doubt this. No, I don't believe you. No, you don't know what's best for me. No, I am my own authority and I make my own rules.

Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn

Saturn is still conjunct Pluto and Jupiter which can add extra indignation or tenacity to Saturn's love of certainty. Right now, all three are opposite the Sun and Moon. In some ways, this New Moon harkens back to the Cancer Lunar Eclipse of Jan.10, when Saturn and Pluto were tightly aligned with the Sun and Moon (Jupiter was still catching up). That was also just 2 days before the Saturn-Pluto conjunction became exact. Early/mid-January was essentially the birth of COVID-19 in terms of the world's awareness of it, and was when research knowledge was starting to become established and shared.

Now we have a New Moon that also polarizes to Saturn and Pluto, as well as Jupiter. In a way, we've come half-way around the circle, and we're looking back on where we've come since January. It's a time of reckoning, to assess how well we've managed the crisis and what still needs to be done. There's also the risk that this phase might breathe new life into the pandemic, as places that are starting to gradually reopen watch carefully to see if a second wave of COVID could erupt and what can be done to minimize the danger.

Wedge to Neptune

Neptune is another presence glowing in the background, widely trine the New Moon (120°). It's also approaching the 2nd of 3 sextiles to Jupiter (60°) and gradually moving toward a long-term sextile with Pluto (13 exact passes from 2026-2032). It implies that hope, peace and faith can be found and embraced if we reach out for them.

Neptune and Saturn are too wide to be sextile, although there is a tight mystical septile aspect between them (51°25'42" of arc, or the 7th harmonic). This suggests Saturn's penchant for concise facts might be a bit more open to the subtleties and shades of grey between the extremes of Yes or No.

There is a Wedge aspect pattern between the Sun and Moon opposing Jupiter and Pluto, with Neptune as the apex of the configuration. (Although Saturn technically isn't part of this, he may be allowed to sit in and audit the meeting.) So, Neptune can potentially act as a mediator between the others or possibly a distraction to offset the tension of the oppositions.

Neptune is about idealism, hope, dreams and your core beliefs about the Universe and your place within it. It is also about creativity, imagination, fantasy and illusion, and at the gloomy end of the spectrum, can be deception, disillusionment, disappointment and manipulation.

At its best, Neptune at the apex suggests a potential restoration of hope and optimism by holding onto faith in Universal Oneness and the Good in life. It might also bring creative or spiritual inspiration, as well as an increased ability to perceive the bigger picture of what's happening in our world. However, it could also make it easier to "believe what you want to believe" which may or may not cooperate with the dynamics of what's really going on. The Saturn-Neptune septile might not be very helpful as a reality check, but it could keep you from becoming overly rigid in your views and intentions.

You are here, alive and awake and for whatever reasons you have fought your battles,
it's time to start focusing on what strengths pulled you up
when the entire world had knocked you down.
That's where the virtue in self grows.
~ Nikki Rowe

So, we're half-a-zodiac away from when 2020 started. How are you holding up? How many ways has your life changed since then? Have you managed to stay grounded without becoming morbid? When you feel yourself drifting toward the edge of losing hope, how have you bee able to turn yourself around, even if it's just for a few days or even a few hours? Every little bit of taking care of yourself helps. Don't give up.

We're also half-a-zodiac away from when COVID started. How are we holding up collectively? Different regions and countries will have different answers to this, as some places are managing better than others. What has your community—city/town, neighbourhood or online—done to help keep people's spirits up?

COVID has been such an enormous influence on our lives this year. What do we know now, personally or collectively, that we didn't know then? Different people will give quite different answers to that question. Most of us will point to the scientific knowledge that continues to emerge in a relatively short timespan, including the modes and risks of transmission, the best practices to prevent infection, the symptoms at various stages of the disease, and the type and severity of long-term damage that is seen in many survivors.

Others may take a more pessimistic view, pointing to contradictory information or favouring contentious theories. It's true that many scientific applications have wrought significant damage to the planet and its life forms across many years (e.g. from medical catastrophes to climate change). In light of this, suspicion and skepticism about scientific knowledge and its uses may be a healthy thing. However, science is not always bad or wrong, and dismissing its COVID findings out of hand may serve more as an emotional barrier against uncertainty during a time of fluctuating unknowns, often dangerously disregarding facts and logic.

Ophiucus constellation
My article about why
Ophiuchus is NOT
the 13th zodiac sign.

Despite being a very powerful tool for discovery and invention, science is still a work in progress. Case in point: astronomers and NASA in particular continue to insist that astrologers are "using the wrong zodiac" either due to precession or due to other constellations being omitted. (grrrrr) Bottom line: THIS IS NONSENSE, and sadly it makes the rounds every year or two or three, while media websites and TV channels pile on without even bothering to consult any real astrologers about it. Astrologers are very much aware of precession, thank you very much, and there are reasons why only 12 signs are used in the system of zodiac signs. See my article about why Ophiuchus is not the "new zodiac sign." (Okay, I'm calmer now...)

So, science is not 100% all-knowing or infallible, and tragically its knowledge has sometimes been misused for purposes that are dishonourable or worse. But neither should it be automatically distrusted or dismissed out of hand (only when NASA tries to pretend they know about astrology... ;-)

That said, when it comes to the pandemic, the truth is that changing and (what appears to be) inconsistent information is to be expected when we're dealing with something completely new like COVID-19. We started off with virtually no information about it a mere 6 months ago and we are still learning. Continuing research and observations of the various stages of the disease take time, which is a central part of Saturn's job description.

Saturn opposing the New Moon could motivate a personal (or collective) need for clear facts and information, perhaps even being a bit overconfident about how infallible that is. On the other hand, Saturn may also simply reinforce denial and rejection of any facts that don't fulfill one's emotional need for reassurance.

If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear.
If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity.
~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose

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The point is that Saturn potentially manifests in each of us in different ways, and this is true for this New Moon. If Jupiter is our opinions and beliefs, Saturn is the conclusions we draw and take as fact. We all have our reasons for what we believe about controversial issues that makes sense to us. However, when it comes to a matter of life and death, that's Pluto's territory – and when Pluto is involved, especially flanked by Saturn, it's better to err on the side of caution than to hide behind a wall of absolutes that we think will make us invincible.

One of the outcomes of this pandemic, under the supervision of Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto, may be a revision of the ethics, methods and application of science. It might also lead to us developing both a greater appreciation of its value and a healthier skepticism about its uses. We are certainly being forced to examine what we are doing to the planet that released such a deadly organism as COVID-19 into our world, after we had peacefully co-existed with it long before this pandemic.

How did human interactions with our planet Earth bring our worlds together with such catastrophic consequences? And how must we change our policies and practices to prevent this from happening again? These are the deeper questions posed to us by Saturn and Pluto that must be confronted and researched going forward.

On a more personal level, what journey of changing perspectives have you been through during this time? I think it's fair to say most of us have been pushed and pulled in about a hundred different directions, as we react to all the different layers of information, facts and future possibilities. If you're feeling worn out and fed up, and mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted, you're not alone.

So, how have you taken care of yourself during this time? Everyone has gravitated to certain practices, routines, reminders and strategies that offer reassurance, relief, reprieve and respite. Some have channelled stress into creative projects, or have spent more time on social media connecting with reassuring, like-minded people. Others have spent less time with media of all types in order to disconnect from the overwhelm of information, implications, theories, and the pundits—out front and in secret—who continually seek to keep the pot well-stirred.

This lunar cycle offers a powerful opportunity to use Saturn as a way to draw more effective boundaries for yourself, so that your self-care has a chance to build you up before it gets lost again in the atmosphere of stress. If you're struggling with limitations, it also brings a chance to sit with the experience and let your inner vision start to see what you haven't seen before. That said, if you are in crisis for any reason, do reach out for help and support.

Above all, stay safe. Stay sane. Stay awesome. The world needs you.

Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom
in the direction you want to go is attainable,
and you are worth the effort.
~ Deborah Day

Day to Day Transits for the Next 2 Weeks

Jul.20 – Sun opposite Saturn (29:38 of Cancer/Capricorn)  (Jul.21 in AU)

You may be obligated to fulfil the expectations of others or of society under this transit. A situation or project (which may have begun around 6 months ago) might require that you start to implement the plans and preparation you've been building. Or you might find that problems you've been putting off must now be dealt with. Although you could experience this as stressful or heavy, it can also be a time when you are finally able to move ahead with a project or goal. All commitment requires some degree of limitation and pruning back, since we must choose one path and leave other options behind. This may therefore feel like a time when you are pressured by obligation, necessity or restraint...or it could feel like the rehearsals are finally over and it's time to launch the rocket. If it seems like you're only seeing blocks or obstacles in your way, this might be a reflection of not having done enough preparation (in which case you will need to draw on your experience to solve the problems or deal with the reality in front of you). This can be a time when you reap whatever you have sown in the past (especially the last 6 months), so if your current situation seems negative or punitive, it might be a time when you need to look back over your actions that lead to this and be accountable for past actions and decisions. Whether you are taking the final step to implement your plans or are facing the results of poor past judgment, this can be a time when you are called upon to move forward in your personal growth and maturation. Use it to strengthen your responsibility (response-ability), and don't let fears of inadequacy erode your self-esteem.

Jul.21 – Mercury Direct square Chiron (09:23 of Cancer/Aries)  (Jul.22 in AU)

Your mental focus and perceptions may feel a bit strained right now. You could find yourself locked in a struggle of indecision that stems from a "glass half empty" versus "glass half full" dilemma. It may be difficult to stay objective and evenly balanced in your perspective, but by working with this you could also find a new mental focus that gives you increased clarity. It might be tempting to sink into cynicism as a way to deal with what seems like a no-win situation. On the other hand, this transit could bring your mental perspective to a kind of "healing crisis" that forces you to get a better grip on the ideas, communication and frame of mind that have been problematic for you. Instead of reaching for extremes (hoping this will clarify the path in front of you), it will help more if you can take a few steps back to allow all the conflicting and out-of-sync elements to coexist together – creative paradox. If you have been struggling to come to terms with something, this could be a turning point that helps you to deal with the complex reality of your situation.

Jul.22 – Sun enters Leo (until Aug.22)  (Jul.21 in HAST)

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.22 – Mercury Direct sextile Uranus (10:27 of Cancer/Taurus)  (Jul.23 in AU)

There is potential for brilliance and excitement under this transit. You may be more spontaneous, upbeat and eccentric than usual. If you are used to a fairly predictable lifestyle, it is a time when you may be inspired to experiment with something out of character. If you are used to being whacky, zany and impulsive, this transit can provide opportunities to express this. You may have an increased ability to "think outside the box" if you stretch your mind a little, and there is the possibility of having an "ah-ha!" experience, when answers and realisations fall into place. There is also the possibility of being mentally restless, so that it's hard to slow down your thoughts or apply yourself seriously to your responsibilities. Your attention span may be a bit short for a couple of days. This energy can be used to consider new ideas that seemed outlandish or impossible before, and see new potential in them.

Jul.23 – Mercury-Sun Greatest Elongation as Morning Star (10:50 of Cancer)   ("What's the Shadow?"  Read my articles about Retrograde Cycles.  Read my article about Mercury Retrograde.)

Mercury reaches its greatest elongation from the Sun today, meaning it's as far away from the Sun as it's going to get (from Earth's perspective). Mercury is the Morning Star, meaning it is visible in the Eastern sky just before sunrise, which occurs after Mercury has turned Direct and a few days before it leaves the Retrograde Shadow.

Thoughts, awareness and decision-making tend to be clearer, and your path ahead may be easier to see. It can be a good time to reflect on the information and awareness you've gathered in the last couple of months and finalize plans for how best to act on these. If you were feeling confused or frustrated during the retrograde period, things can make more sense now. Let this be a time of fresh perspective and awareness.

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

Jul.25 – Mars enters the Shadow (15:14 of Aries; until Jan.02.2021)   ("What's the Shadow?"  Read my articles about Retrograde Cycles.  Read my article about Mars Retrograde.  Read more about Mars Retrograde cycle.)

Mars now enters the Retrograde Shadow—the area of the Zodiac where it will go retrograde. Similar to when Mercury goes into the Retrograde Shadow, you will start to increasingly feel the effects of the coming Mars retrograde over the next couple of months. Mars retrograde can increase—or decrease—the things to do with Mars: anger, physical energy, motivation, sexual energy, etc. The important thing to remember is that, as with all retrogrades, Mars retrograde will require the reconsideration or redoing of things to do with Mars. So, the Mars-like themes emerge in your life during this Shadow time are likely to need reworking later when Mars goes retrograde.

For example, you may feel an urgency to take action that winds up having to be reconsidered or redirected later (during or after the retrograde period). You might feel very motivated, focused and driven to make progress with plans and ideas you have been thinking about, although needing to make some changes to these plans while Mars is retrograde. You could feel increasingly on a "short fuse" due to feeling pressured or stressed. You might become more sensitive to the hostility, anger, sexual energy, frustration or defensiveness in others. This tension could become unavoidable during the retrograde period, forcing you to deal with conflicts that have been building for a while. Or, tensions might suddenly drop during the retrograde, like the calm centre of a hurricane, giving you a period of "cease-fire" in which to reconsider your position and decide which battles are important enough to fight and which ones are best left alone. Your physical energy may also increase or decrease during this time.

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

Jul.26 – Mercury leaves the Shadow (14:45 of Cancer; next shadow begins Sep.23)  ("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.

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

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Jul.27 – Jupiter sextile Neptune (20:39 of Capricorn/Pisces)  (Jul.28 in AU)

There is great potential for a heightened sense of purpose, vision and optimism now. The wisdom and confidence of Jupiter is mixed with the surrender to the Cosmic Lifestream of Neptune. What can result is an exciting and inspiring vision of "what could be," provided you are willing to follow it up with concrete action. This transit shows you what is possible and gives you the pieces that can make it happen, but you still have to work at putting them together—kind of like having a cake mix on your pantry shelf. The challenge here is that you are combining focused beliefs and knowledge (Jupiter) with an intuitive, imaginative and spiritual experience (Neptune).

While these energies can combine well and relatively easily, there may still be a resistance to doing so because something of Neptune is always lost when we try to manifest it in some way. For instance, if you're going to pursue a dream that you have, it means taking a very personal, internalized feeling and translating it into something much more pointed and definite—an opinion, belief or judgment, which means others might challenge you, disagree with you or even judge you.

On the other hand, this can also be a time of great optimism, when things feel like they can fall into place easily if you just give them a wee push. In fact, you could feel so euphorically optimistic that it seems like you could walk through walls and any other form of resistance. Be careful not to overplay your hand, but do enjoy the renewed confidence and faith in life that you might feel. This is a great opportunity to invest some faith in your vision of "what could be" and move it a little closer to actuality. Let your imagination and wonderment guide you.

This is the second of three passes: Feb.20, Jul.27 and Oct.12.

Jul.27 – Venus square Neptune (20:39 of Gemini/Pisces)  (Jul.28 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.27 – Mercury Direct square Mars (16:20 of Cancer/Aries)  (Jul.28 in AU)

Fiery speech, argument, hot debate and impatience characterise this transit. You may encounter conflicts of interest and want to solve them NOW. And in your haste to find a quick fix, you could wind up creating more problems than you solve. You might also feel like you have hit an impasse or roadblock in a problem that began since Mercury entered the shadow. What you thought was a solution or agreement might now show itself to be unworkable or needing adjustment. Getting angry or frustrated is likely to just aggravate the situation, so it might be wise to vent these feelings well away from the actual situation or people that are triggering them. Your mind may see what needs to be said, but you could wind up blurting it out before you've had a chance to choose your words more carefully. Figure out what you really want, and when you feel a bit calmer and more grounded, THEN have your say. On the other hand, this could also be a time when you find the courage to speak up or assert yourself in situations where you have been overly inhibited before now. Don't become so calm that you lose your edge, but do use good judgment when choosing when and how to act. Use this energy to stoke your motivational fires and use your ideas to generate action (not reaction). Pace and harness the energy like a race horse. This is a time to "do your homework" and find new solutions to existing problems.

Jul.29 – Venus leaves the Shadow (21:50 of Gemini; next shadow begins Nov.17.2021)  ("What is the Shadow?"  Read more about Venus Retrograde.  Read more about the Shadow.)

Venus finally finishes her retrograde cycle by leaving the Shadow – the area of the zodiac where she was retrograde up until 4-5 weeks ago. Before that, Venus was retrograde for about 6 weeks, after spending 4-5 weeks in the pre-retrograde Shadow. The whole cycle lasts for about 3.5 months, and we are now at the end of this current cycle.

Look back on these time ranges and see if you can identify a pattern in your life. The pre-retrograde Shadow phase may have seen the development of issues, problems, challenges or changes in your desires and appetites in the areas of relationships, finances, resources or the need for balance. During the retrograde phase, you may have reconsidered and re-evaluated these areas, identified something you wanted to change, or perhaps allowed yourself to express feelings or desires that you normally keep locked away. You might have experienced either an increase or decrease in sex drive, desires, finances, social connection or romance during the retrograde phase and to some extent during the entire cycle.

The post-retrograde phase (which ends now) is the time when you make changes or choices based on what has emerged during the other two phases. Anything that increased and filled up the foreground of your attention may now recede into the background again, and things that seemed to hibernate or disappear may have begun to resume. We will not see the Venus Retrograde Shadow again for another 15-16 months.

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

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

Jul.30 – Mercury opposite Jupiter (20:18 of Cancer/Capricorn)  (Jul.31 in AU)

Your thoughts and words can become amplified under this transit, which could bring a sense of adventure, a surge of ideas, and/or imbalance due to exaggeration. You may find it's hard to stop talking (or writing), your head is filled with so many possibilities. However, your judgment about the validity of your ideas may be a bit off, or you might feel the urge to overstate your position to keep from being misunderstood. Blame and judgment could creep into your perceptions of others or the other way around. This might spring from a need to find a greater meaning or truth in the facts, having difficulty bridging the gap between the raw information and the big picture. The trick is to keep a balance between simplicity and elaborate complexity. The challenge is to find ways to express, think about and understand the vast range of possibilities and meaning within the perceptions of everyday life. Not all of it will survive the translation, but enormous spiritual creativity can be generated in the trying.

Jul.30 – Mercury trine Neptune (20:35 of Cancer/Pisces)  (Jul.31 in AU)

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.

Jul.31 – Moon goes Out of Bounds (28:41 Sagittarius to 24:32 Capricorn; OOB until Aug.02)  (Jul.30 in HAST)   ("What does Out of Bounds mean?"   "What is Declination?")

The Moon goes Out of Bounds (OOB) by Declination, during which time your feelings and emotions may be a bit stronger than usual. You might feel a little separated from the world around you, and as a result you might feel a bit lonely or in need of some reassuring human contact. On the other hand, this detachment might be a welcome change if you're feeling a bit stressed or overwhelmed by the energy around you and need some time out. Or, you may find it's time to go your own way a bit more, to seek your own company or search for a more supportive environment. Your creativity and imagination might be more willing to follow unusual ideas, whims and impulses.

A planet goes OOB when its declination is greater than 23:26 (23 degrees and 26 minutes), which is the maximum declination of the Sun, and the Sun defines the Bounds. In 2020, the Moon's maximum declination finally goes beyond the Bounds in March, for the first time since 2011, and will continue to go OOB until January 2030.

For now, the Moon's maximum declination increases very gradually each month, and only gets to 24:52 by December 2020 (compared to her maximum declination of 28:34, which she'll reach in 2025). So, in 2020 the Moon is only a little OOB and this energy might not be very noticeable until around September. On the other hand, the OOB periods can be a time when your emotional reactions may be somewhat more amplified than usual. In any case, if you have the Moon or other planets OOB in your natal chart, you might be more sensitive to this energy.

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Jul.31 – Sun trine Chiron (09:15 of Leo/Aries)  (Aug.01 in UK, 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.

Aug.01 – Mercury opposite Pluto (23:20 of Cancer/Capricorn)

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.

Aug.02 – Sun square Uranus (10:37 of Leo/Taurus)

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.

NEXT UPDATE:
LUNAR ECLIPSE
FULL MOON IN GEMINI

Available by November 30, 2020.

© 2020 Wendy Guy. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or used without the author's written permission. Astrology diagrams © Wendy Guy unless otherwise noted. OTHER CREDITS: Most or all of the quotes on this page were found at GoodReads.com. Illustration of Zodiac Sign by Natalia Hubbert, via 123rf.com. Sabian Symbol image: Newborn twins' feet cradled by hands, by Fallon Michael via Unsplash.com. Image of crocodile on bridge found on Facebook; original artist unknown. Image of constellation Ophiuchus public domain image via Wikicommons.


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