….in the spring, summer and autumn/winter of each year, the planet Mercury does something strange. It appears to slow down in its orbital pace, stop, then start to move backwards. This is known as retrograde motion. It is of course an illusion. Otherwise, we’d have fallen off the solar system aeons ago.
However, the effects down here on Earth when Mercury is in its 2-3 week retrograde phases are anything but illusory. For years, I studied this phenomenon in my own life, the lives of family, friends, and astrology students. In sum, communications of all types become strangely awkward and hard to manage during those times.
I learned to look forward to having some rest during Mercury Retrograde, since my referral rate dropped. Normally clients always turned up for appointments, MR periods being the exception. Cancellation rates increased.
Once, a client called to cancel because her house had just caught fire (yes, she called the Fire Brigade first!).Two clients often turned up at the same time. Cheques invariably got lost in the post, or clients forgot to bring cash.
One summer I moved office during MR, becoming involved in a dispute of byzantine complexity with the telephone company which took almost a nervous breakdown on my part to sort out.
As MR periods approached, I used to entertain my students by looking at their individual horoscopes, which enabled me to be more specific regarding possible MR effects. I told one student, a lawyer, that a female helper in his workplace was likely to have communication problems which would impact on him.
His feedback? His secretary sprained her wrist, and was unable to type during the entire MR period.
Mercurial people, ie those with the sign Gemini strongly emphasised or the planet Mercury dominant in their horoscopes, are most affected by Mercury’s retrograde phase. Anyone involved in the business of communication can look forward to a less than smooth three weeks.
A good example is my old friend Ronnie who used to run a first rate copying and web design business here in Glasgow; Mercury’s retrograde havoc wreaked on his computers one year convinced him that “There’s definitely something in this astrology business, Anne!”
What can mercurial folk do, then, to maximise advantage and minimise disruption when Mercury is retrograde? MR is a positive time for going back over all matters to do with communication, and cleaning up.
Some examples: if you’ve been putting off a purge of your filing system, do it now. If your accountant has asked you nine times for your last year’s papers, use this 2-3 weeks to update them.
Dig out and finish some of those half-worked articles if you are a writer. If you’ve been writing furiously and the brain/wrist is seizing up, have a break. Catch up with some reading. As we know, fallow time is creative.
The don’ts? If it is not feasible to avoid or delay taking important new initiatives or completing existing processes, eg signing contracts, leases, etc, try to accept complications or thwartings philosophically.
Also – be prepared for delays, eg when travelling, especially long distance. Don’t sit under the mailbox waiting for cheques. And please, don’t arrange for a phone installation!
“Come on then !” I can hear you shouting as you search for my mobile number or email. “Tell us WHEN !”
….oh, all right. I’ll tell you:
2022: January 14-February 3 in Aquarius & Capricorn
May 10-June 3 in Gemini & Taurus
September 9-October 2 in Libra & Virgo
December 29-January 18, 2023 in Capricorn
PS. I know you’ll find this hard to believe: I have just published a book of collected essays, articles and columns called “Postcards to the Future” – available everywhere on Amazon – whose subtitle is ‘Mercurial Musings 1995-2021’. However – there isn’t a single article on Mercury, or even Mercury Retro. Maybe I should rectify that in the next edition…
On impulse – that 2nd January 2022 New Moon at 12 degrees Capricorn, trining Uranus at 11 Taurus, trining my 9 Virgo Ascendant – I dashed off a seven-minute recording of me reading the Preface of my new book “Postcards to the Future”. It went down really well, and I have had some lovely comments, amongst them from long-term fellow astrologer and USA Facebook Friend Maureen:
“Love this Anne, I think you’ve found a new niche! “
So – I’ve decided to post the video version which is now on YouTube. Hope you enjoy it!!
I find approaching the Winter Solstice each year, a very frustrating time…there is all the frantic gearing-up for Christmas and its attendant spending-fest which one gets dragged into – just when I wish to sink into the fertile spaces of the dark inner world.
This time asks to be honoured with retreat, contemplation, awareness of how essential the hidden fertility of darkness is to the eventual emergence of new life. Perhaps we especially need to be reminded of that ancient truth during a time of great turmoil and darkness for our world, and of our own individual losses, pains and disappointments.
The great religions at core, have their ways of honouring this annual point of deepest darkness, then the slowly re-emerging light. My small way of doing it is by finding some quiet time, by seeking out a poem which speaks to me at ‘… the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight…’ – and by sharing it.
I hope my choice of winter solstice poem for 2021 strikes a chord with at least some of my Followers:
“…This is the solstice, the still point
of the sun, its cusp and midnight,
the year’s threshold
and unlocking, where the past
lets go of and becomes the future;
the place of caught breath, the door
of a vanished house left ajar…”
― Margaret Atwood, Eating Fire: Selected Poetry 1965-1995
( North West Scotland, Arisaig shoreline, Solstice sunset, December 2018: photo by Anne Whitaker. ) Sun enters Capricorn at 16.00 GMT 21.12.2021
>….ie today, a fantastic review of my new book ..’Postcards to the Future‘ by Karin Hoffman of the world-renowned Astrodienstwebsite:
Karin says: ...”Present and future astrologers will find in this deep and varied collection nuggets of pure gold, forged in a lifetime, collected and polished for display and – most importantly – for enlightenment and use…”
To read the whole review – and hopefully treat yourself or a friend, student of astrology, or interested member of the public who wants to know more about the depths and delights offered by astrological knowledge to a copy of ‘Postcards…’ – here it is:
(...this essay can be found on p 20 of my new book ‘Postcards to the Future’, published Autumn 2021 and available everywhere from Amazon, includingAmazon UK. There are 59 other “Mercurial Musings” to choose from! Enjoy…)
Anyone who has ever written a regular column will know that there are times when inspiration is – not to put too fine a point on it – notable by its absence. At other times, so many ideas are flying around that catching one by the tail to pin it down is, to say the least, tricky. And – you never know, as the last deadline is met and you can now relax for a few weeks – which set of conditions is going to prevail the next time.
So, Reader, there I was, new deadline appearing over the horizon, and…nada. Nix. No–thing. At all. Braincell dry as an old chewed-up bone. In this situation there are generally two options: blind panic – or blind faith. I have six fiery planets. This is often a curse, let me tell you, but in the matter of column deadlines, it is a blessing. So, armed with nothing but blind faith, I headed for the office.
To pass time sitting on the bus, I check my phone. Ahah – there’s a message on Messenger. A colleague is beginning a new project for the international company he works for, an unusual company where his boss is an astrology appreciator. He is making a podcast series on Turning Points: asking people to talk for five minutes on the one decision which changed their lives forever. He is inviting me to contribute.
“Ping!!” went the braincell, hit by a mini bolt of inspiration. I had my topic. I’d ruminate on what it was that inspired me to take up, and continue, the long-term study and practice of astrology. That decision certainly changed MY life forever.
So – what was it ?
Was it my youthful awe as I watched the Northern Lights enacting their glorious colourful dance, just above the skyline near our house? Perhaps it was lying cosy in bed, listening to the roaring gales of January tearing the world apart – wondering what the Power was behind that raging wind. Was it the growing excitement, as I grew up, of being able to spot familiar constellations in the clear, unpolluted night skies of my native island?
Or – maybe the Fates had already decided, leaving me a clue to be decoded many years later, via the placement of Uranus, the astrologers’ planet, at 25 Degrees of Gemini, in the tenth house of my natal horoscope?
I have recently been revisiting the significance of the placement of Uranus’ discovery degree, ie 24 degrees 27 minutes Gemini,(i) in the horoscopes of those drawn to the practice of astrology. A dip into my horoscope collection, lifting out three male and three female birth charts, found that all six prominent astrologers chosen have this degree either conjunct, square or opposite natal planets, Nodes or Angles: the lately deceased and much-missed Donna Cunningham, Michel Gauquelin, Liz Greene, Isabel Hickey, Johannes Kepler and Noel Tyl. (ii)
Johannes Kepler Asc 24 deg 25 mins Gemini
Furthermore, when I was 27 years old, progressed Sun crossed asteroid Urania, placed at 19 degrees of Virgo in my first house, square tenth house Uranus. That year, as mentioned in an earlier column, I had a totally random encounter with a pair of astrologers who predicted my future astrological career.
So – did I choose that career or did I come in with it already chosen? Was it Fate, or free will? We will, of course, never be able to answer that question. MY conclusion, hardly stunningly original, is that we dance to the tune of both. There are times when the power of Fate feels strongly present. Other times, the unglamorous wrestle with inertia, poor judgement, and other ills to haul our lives into a reasonably satisfying shape feels very strongly to be determined mainly by our own conscious efforts.
In the latter case, a major ingredient in the shaping process, in my opinion, is the power of inspiration. At twenty-four years of age (second Jupiter Return, anyone?!) I was fortunate enough to have what I later realised was a mystical experience, something which has continued to inspire me. This may well have created a spiritual backdrop for the subsequent encounter with astrology as foreground; when I met those astrologers I was going through a crisis involving wondering what, after all, my life was FOR…not an uncommon state for one’s late twenties!
Their accurate reading inspired me to investigate astrology further, initially via the UK’s Faculty of Astrological Studies. On discovering that I, too, could produce accurate and affirming feedback from those strange marks on a piece of paper which seemed helpful to people trying to understand themselves better, I was hooked. For the rest of my life.
Astrology has continued to inspire because it continues to challenge me. It challenges me because we are working with living energies, patterns whose essential meanings we have established over millennia, but whose manifestations are endless and only partly predictable. Despite decades of experience, I still get that tight anxious feeling before every new client I see, being very aware of my responsibility at least to do no harm, at best to help the person before me see their life in a more constructive, bigger context.
I am, of course, always curious to find out what inspires people to engage with astrology – and to keep going once they get there. There is an occasional series running on my blog, in which astrologers tell their interesting, unusual tales of inspiration and – of course! – an inevitable amount of perspiration…
Want to share your story? Go on…
First published in Dell Horoscope Magazine ‘The astro-view from Scotland’ (from the January/February 2018 Issue), this essay can be found on p 20 of ‘Postcards to the Future‘, published Autumn 2021 and available everywhere from Amazon, including Amazon UK. There are 59 other “Mercurial Musings” to choose from!Enjoy…
One of the delights – and mild horrors – of writing a regular column to a deadline is that you never know from whence arriveth inspiration (feeling a trifle mediaeval this afternoon, forsooth…) – or if it will arrive at all: always the worst case scenario hovering as the deadline looms.
However, inspiration arrived in response to another deadline, two days before I was due to appear on Christina Rodenbeck’s popular The Oxford Astrologer’s regular Members’ Sunday slot on 12th September 2021, to discuss and promote my new book of essays, columns, articles and research
In addition to discussing the book’s content, Christina suggested we reflect on … ‘…the broad sweep of astrology in your time writing about it…’ Hmmm, I thought. Big topic.
The starting place
But it got me going…to hunt out the first thing I’d ever written – as far as I can remember – on the topic of astrology. And I found it:AA Summer School Report 1-5 June 1987…
‘…Titled ON BEING AND BECOMING AN ASTROLOGER, this year’s Summer School offered a varied range of experience from inner personal contemplation to consideration of the likely General Election result…’
This piece was re-published in my column in Journal as part of the 60 year celebrations for the AA in 2018. It made me smile to read what I had written in that 1987 report, rather tentatively, about computers and astrology. As I wrote in 2018:
‘…Few of us on that course had the slightest clue that astrologers, like everyone else, were merely tapping on a door which would shortly swing open to reveal an entirely new landscape of global interconnectedness which – for both good and ill – has already drawn in much of the population of planet Earth…’
One very personal memory strikes me as clearly illustrating that early entry into the entirely new landscape described in the above quote, which has revolutionised the world of astrology along with every other facet of our lives ever since.
It was around the mid to late1980s. I was sitting at our kitchen table in Glasgow chatting over morning coffee to our guest, USA astrologer Tad Mann, who had come up from London to talk to the Glasgow Astrology Group of which I was a committee member at that time. Suddenly Tad produced from the inside pocket of his jacket an object which looked like an elongated pocket calculator. It was, in fact, an early astrology calculator, into which he tapped my date, place and time of birth, and pressed a couple of buttons. I watched, fascinated.
Things got even more interesting. From another pocket he produced a small, square grey gadget which he proceeded to plug into the side of the calculator. Setting them both on the table, Tad then pressed another couple of buttons. The small square grey gadget was in fact a mini printer. A piece of paper looking exactly like a till receipt soon emerged – complete with all my horoscope data: Asc, MC, planets, Nodes and aspects. I was entranced. ‘I want one of these!!’ Not long afterwards, the (rather pricey) set duly arrived from the company in the USA which Tad had recommended.
Shortly after that, I was to be found sitting happily on a stall at a local Alternative Health event, doing 15 minute mini readings for clients from those very pieces of paper. ‘How on earth can you give me an accurate summary of my character from that till receipt thingie?’ I remember one client asking. ‘It’s the shape of things to come!’ I cheerfully replied, not realising just how true that comment was to prove.
From typewriting to computing
So – the broad sweep of astrology in my time of writing about it has taken me from sitting bashing out notes and reports from hand-drawn horoscopes on my old Brother manual typewriter, Tippex to hand, all the way to using highly sophisticated computer programmes which will, quite simply, do everything we need to do as astrologers. From instant push-a-button birth charts to all varieties of prognosticatory options both technical and interpretive, anyone from the very green amateur to the sophisticated professional can have any kind of software they wish, dependent on their finances and predilections. (I still lament the recent demise of the wonderful Io software which I had used since acquiring my first Mac computer in 1995).
The arrival of sophisticated computer technology has been a wonderful gift, also, to all writers – including astro-writers like myself. Apart from personal journals and diaries, which I still prefer to handwrite in aesthetically pleasing, arty books, I haven’t handwritten anything of a short or extended nature, for years.
Another revolution, too, has recently begun, as the larger planetary cycles have graphically shown in recent years. Amongst other astro-writers, I have had much commentary published on the implications of the transition from the 1803-2020 Earth Era to the newAir Era into which we shifted on the Winter Solstice of 2020. On that very day, the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction’s arrival at 0 Aquarius announced the formative 20 year cycle’s settling into the Air element for the next 200 years or so. As we all know, that huge shift announced its presence through an air-borne virus triggering a global pandemic which has upended life on Planet Earth in just about every way possible since 2020.
Taking to the Airwaves : new approaches emerging
Astrology has taken to the air in a really big way. Platforms like zoom have enabled astro-education, astro-groups, astro-readings, and all kinds of astro-chat: wonderfully connective of members of our community to one another. Those and other social media platforms have enabled fatuous, divisive, misleading, and damaging as well as helpful, supportive and enlightening dialogue. It is, as someone observed ‘ …the Wild West out there…’
The broad sweep of astrology in my time of writing about, practising and teaching our great subject has also seen the ebb and flow of dominant fashions, and the taking up of varying positions, within our world-wide community. When I started out, psychological astrology was clearly on the ascendant as the revival of astrology during the Sixties and Seventies ( but begun much earlier by the work of eg Dane Rudhyar) moved us away from the doom-laden fatalism of earlier times to the notion that astrology did not describe a world where humans were pinned to the board of Fate like butterflies.
We did in fact, said psychological astrology, have some negotiating room within symbolic energies which could and did express themselves differently depending on the level of conscious awareness individuals brought to their lives.
In recent years we have had the rise and increasing popularity of evolutionary astrology, as well as the revival of traditional astrology which has been reclaiming and refreshing approaches going back many centuries – recasting those perspectives for contemporary practitioners and audiences. There has also increasingly been much more liaison between practitioners and students in both East and West, and a welcome sharing of approaches and perspectives. All these changes have been made possible by the computer revolution which has totally changed the face of our world in every way.
I was asked about the broad sweep – this column has been a very broad, brief sweep indeed, from one person’s perspective only. One could write a whole book on the topic. Someone is probably doing so even as I write!
In conclusion: has widely available Astrology made us better human beings?
I feel as excited as anyone else by all the creative and diverse changes which have arisen. Younger generations of astrologers and astrology students, refusing to be hemmed in by the increasingly strident orthodoxy of scientific reductionism, are embracing the symbolic perspectives offered by astrology in a big way these days. However, I’m going to end this column, not in my usual upbeat way, but on a rather sombre note.
When I first started studying astrology I was awestruck by the insights into oneself that astrological knowledge could provide. Given this wonderfully enlightening gift, I naively thought that astrologers must surely be more enlightened and evolved people than the general population: more magnanimous, less critical of one another, more tolerant.
Well, I found out pretty quickly that they they aren’t. I come from a long background in adult education, social work and psychiatric work, as well as private practice therapy and counselling. I’ve also known many writers in my rather varied vocational life. So my comments are based on quite a wide range of sampling.
Astrologers are just as kind, compassionate, well-informed and magnanimous as other occupational groups. They are also just as bitchy, backbiting, judgemental, dishonest and intolerant as everybody else. In general terms – since I am fortunate to know and have known some wonderful astrologers who are also brilliant, compassionate human beings – I haven’t seen any evidence over the last forty years that convinces me otherwise.
We all have a long way to go, and a lot of work to do to fashion ourselves into better humans than we currently appear to be. Our present world is riven with all kinds of ugly, dangerous divisions. Those divisions are graphically described in the prevailing planetary patterns: unfortunately, our astrological community is not immune. Perhaps we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and bring more fairness, compassion and tolerance into the ways we treat one another within our community. We have a planet to save. We could start by being kinder and more supportive to one another.
What are YOUR thoughts?
i) ‘Postcards to the Future: Mercurial Musings 1995-2021’ is available locally at Opal Moon, Glasgow G20, Watkins Books and The Astrology Shop in London, The Wessex Astrologer – and everywhere on Amazon, including Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com
I was born at the very end of Moondark, with the Moon only three degrees behind the Sun, and both those Lights plus three other planets in the twelfth house of my horoscope. So – twelfth house/Balsamic/Moondark phases of any month, year or indeed planetary cycle whether progressed or by transit affect me very deeply and interest me profoundly.
I have learned over decades to live with those complex stages reasonably productively, so I hope that my musings in this post during the approaching Moondark of the whole year of 2020/21 will provide productive food for thought and appropriate contemplation!
Moondark describes the end of any cycle – the 12th house phase – whether we are contemplating the monthly Sun/Moon one or the epoch-defining 500 year long Neptune/Pluto cycle. It is the time of withdrawal and dissolution of energy – think of wintertime, the stripped trees, the cold, barren earth – a time of dark power in which the old order dies at a number of different levels, so that fertile energy can emerge from the womb of the night.
It occurred to me some years ago that this ancient astronomical pattern of the yearly phases of the Sun/Moon relationship and its attendant meaning in the yearly cycle had been taken up and overlaid – as with so many of the old pagan yearly traditions – by Christianity. Easter and Christ’s Resurrection could be roughly mapped onto the return of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere around the 20th of March each year, followed by the Aries New Moon and the beginning of Spring.
In Christianity, the forty days preceding Easter when Christ retreated into the wilderness to wrestle with various temptations, to fast and to pray, is known as Lent: a time of watching, waiting, self-denial, contemplation and prayer.
The March/April period each year is also observed at various times by other religious traditions including Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Judaism. The ancient longing, waiting for the return of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere and with it the renewal of Spring has deep roots: to a time when our ancestors’ whole existence was predicated closely upon the path of the Sun and the Sun/Moon relationship.
Thus, despite all the sophisticated technological trappings of 21st Century living, my feeling – based on observation of my own, my clients’ and students’ lives over several decades – is that at a deep psychological level these ancient patterns still affect us whether we are consciously aware of them or not.
That wonderfully poetic astrological writer Dana Gerhardt puts it beautifully:
“…Balsamic begins with the waning Sun/Moon semi-square. The Moon is a slim Crescent, forty-five degrees behind the Sun…Our physical energy is necessarily as low as our psychic energy is high. We’re at a threshold, ending one cycle while anticipating a new one round the corner. We might want to get into motion, but our bodies are tired. Our clarity and focus wane, like the Balsamic Moon herself, rising thinner and fainter each morning until she eventually disappears altogether, lost in the Sun’s glare. This is the Dark Moon.
Much of the time we won’t know whether we’re finishing up or leaning toward the future, whether we’re being truly psychic or simply dreaming – which is why this is a better period for introspection than for action. Without the dormancy of winter, spring’s (or the New Moon’s) seeds cannot mature…”(i)
So – this is the Moondark phase of the whole of 2020/21 about to begin with the Pisces New Moon on Saturday 13th March. And – right now is the Moondark phase of the whole month from the New Moon in Aquarius on 11 February 2021. I feel pretty amazed that I was able to get out of bed today, never mind write a blog post! as Dana Gerhardt wisely says:
‘…this is a better period for introspection than for action…’
So – it might be productive for us to spend some time just now and over the upcoming Pisces New Moon period in reflecting on the ending phases of those major cycles which we all share: the 11-12 year cycle of Jupiter, the 18-19 year cycle of the Moon’s Nodes, the 27-year cycle of the progressed Moon, the 29-30 year cycle of Saturn, and the 50 year cycle of Chiron.
What were you doing in the last year or so – the Moondark period – of each of those cycles? What had changed by the time the new cycle had begun to take shape after 1-2 years? Depending on your age, you may by now be able to look back through eg three or four or more cycles of Jupiter, or eg two cycles of Saturn? What themes can you detect which have unfolded through these cycles and repeats? I have really enjoyed working in this way over many years with my clients, students and mentorees – and myself. There is much understanding and learning to be gained from such reflection.
There is already plenty of commentary of varying quality across the Web regarding the nature of this upcoming Pisces New Moon, and what we might expect it to bring. I’ll be sharing (on this blog’s Facebook Page) one or two of what I think are the best of those writings as the Pisces New Moon waxes.
At a personal level, we will need to ‘go with the flow’, disruptive though it may well be, as much as we can. It’s a good time for letting things hang loose, not making any definite plans and expecting if we do, that things may very well not go smoothly.
At a collective level, what strikes me most powerfully as this zodiacal year ends is how weary we all are now of the lockdowns and restrictions necessitated since last March 2020 by attempts with varying degrees of success to control the Covid pandemic sweeping the world. There is increasing hope, as Spring gathers pace, that we will gain some freedom at last as the pace of vaccination speeds up, and the rates of infection gradually diminish.
So – let’s hope that we can all keep our heads above turbulent waters, and learn a bit more from whatever experiences come our way, as the month unfolds prior to the Aries New Moon on 12th April, the true beginning of the astrological New Year…
Yes, well, much though I have learned over many years to use the three Mercury Retrograde periods per year to re-vise, re-visit, re-draft, re-vitalise (well, maybe not totally …) re-cover (eg from previous Mercury Retrogrades) and any other re- you can think of, nevertheless I can never quite get over that mild shudder of not entirely excited anticipation when I see another one sidling up over the mercurial horizon.
18 June 2020 is day 1 of Mercury retrograding from 14 Cancer back to 5 Cancer. He then turns direct on that degree on 12 July 2020 but does not catch up with himself at 14 Cancer until 26th July 2020.
So – all of us with a strong Mercury signature in our birth horoscopes: eg Mercury ruling any of the four Angles of the horoscope but especially the Ascendant, conjunct any planets or Nodes, and with any planets, Angles or Nodes between around 10-20 degrees of Aries/Cancer/Libra/Capricorn, are going to feel the effects.
Pay especial attention to the houses involved. eg if you have the Sun at around 10-20 Cancer in the seventh house, do not expect straightforward clarity in your dealings with significant others during this time…( to put it mildly…)
I am a most Mercurial person, with Mercury ruling my Virgo Ascendant, conjunct Saturn, Pluto, Venus and the Moon, exactly semi -square Uranus, exactly sextile Neptune, and widely square Jupiter in the third house. So – I have had many adventures of a Mercury Retro nature.
If you’d like to be informed and entertained by a wander through my Mercury Retro article archive, just click HERE.
So – you will be wondering by now – how was the morning of DAY ONE for me? Reader, I will tell you. Try not to laugh too hard.
This tale concerns a passport. My passport. The ten-year one which expired during the last Mercury Retrograde in February 2020. I should have known there was going to be trouble…
The build -up to the Tale of Day One was a saga in itself. It involved my hating the photo update for my new about-to-be-applied-for passport so much that I tore it up in disgust. (I know, passport photos are BAD, but I did not wish to have to look at this especially hideous one for the next ten years) This was about two days before UK lockdown, so – no more photo shops. Oh dear, I thought. A more sensible person might have concluded that in the absence of any possibility for travelling abroad, it would make sense to put the passport idea on hold.
I loathe bureaucracy in any form – with Mercury exactly semi-square Uranus natally, explanation is hardly needed. And I have large handwriting. So my first effort to fill in the ghastly application form failed on two counts: one, my signature touched the edge of the sacred signature box. Two, I needed a countersignature and a new passport photo.
I found a delightful photographer and together (but socially distanced, of course…) we found an outdoor blank wall against which a second, less hideous passport photo was taken. No, I’m not showing it to you.
Then she had the bright idea of adjourning to a delightful secluded little-used local hidden garden. I needed a back cover photo for my “Sixty Shades of Astro-Musing” ( title provisional) collected essays etc book which I’m aiming to have ready for next Spring 2021. According to my Editor, the delightful but at times stern Victor Olliver ( editor of the UK’s Astrological Journal) , “This is a perfect year for pulling that book together, Anne. So do get your finger out!” …or words to that effect.
We had a brilliant photo shoot despite the quiet space being invaded by six young children and their harassed mothers, desperate to take their kids somewhere they could play outside without getting to close to one another.
So – I now have a lovely back cover photo. All I need now is actually to organise said book…
Anyway, the new form, filled in correctly, duly countersigned by a ‘person of standing’ and a signed photo stating this was indeed moi, took me right up until – you’ve probably guessed it – the day before Mercury went Retrograde.
Having established that transiting Mercury retro would be squaring my second house Neptune, I had already thought“No way am I sending this application in until end July at the earliest”. However, having fortunately re-checked the submission guidance notes ( natal Mercury and Neptune are in exact sextile, so some saving grace here!) the application had to be sent in within a month of the photo being taken. Since the photo’s signature had had to be backdated to be the same day my countersignee had signed the application form, the month was nearly up.
Given that I’d rather never go abroad again, ever, than go through the previous pantomime for a second time, I gritted my teeth. Nothing for it. I had to take the completed passport application form to the UK Post Office’s ‘check and send’ service on the first day of Mercury Retrograde.
So, yesterday morning, I triple-checked everything, even bringing a chequebook in case my bank card fell down a drain on the ten-minute walk to the local Post Office. (Retro Mercury is in a water sign, was my reasoning). I also left the house just before 10am in order to avoid the social distance queues which build up everywhere as the average day wears on.
‘Great! ‘I thought as I strolled in. No queue. Alas – there was a new person behind the perspex screen who had no idea how to do a ‘check and send’ procedure. My heart sank. After much conferring with two equally bemused looking colleagues, she announced that the fellow who knows how to do it would not be in until 12pm. Could I come back then?
So – I’m sure you can guess my thoughts as I cleared off. However, having run into a friend and her delightful little daughter playing bubble-blowing in the nearby Botanic Gardens, followed by a trip to one or two shops for necessary supplies, and a lovely socially distanced chat with my hairdresser who was in fine form as he painted his salon and tried not to laugh at my home haircut, I returned home in a pretty chilled mood to drop off shopping – there to await High Noon and my return to the Post Office.
Walking down the street at the appointed time towards the said P.O., realisation dawned that I had left my phone AND banker’s card on the armchair in which I’d been sitting in our third floor bay window, enjoying a cup of tea in the morning sunshine. Swearing under my breath, I had no option but to return and collect both items.
Yes, reader, there was a queue outside. And a queue inside. However, I spotted the genial chap who had regretfully knocked back my earlier attempt during the last Mercury Retrograde. He recognised me ( I wonder why?!), waving me over to the appropriate counter.
All went wonderfully well until I stuck my current account bank card into the machine to pay the eye-watering sum it now costs to get a passport. I’d been using a different contactless card throughout months of lockdown to avoid using money – but this card could not be used for large payments.
Try as I might, I simply could not remember my current account card’s PIN. Aaaargh! There followed some moments of angst on both sides of the counter, not to mention in the queue now building up behind me. However, the lovely chap serving me eventually saved the day, having initially told me that the payment transaction now having been cancelled I’d have to go home and find my PIN number. He had already written down on the ‘check and send’ form that the payment method was by card.
Having consulted the nitpicking instructions, though, he discovered that one scoring-out was allowed in the labyrinthine process of application and said “Do you by any chance have a cheque book with you? I can score this payment notification out and you can write a cheque instead. ” I never thought I’d ever be happy to write a cheque for over one hundred pounds. But I was verging on the ecstatic as I handed it over. “Great,”he said happily, sealing the relevant package and tossing it into his OUT tray. “Since you’re only re-applying rather than ordering a new passport, it should be with you in three weeks or so.”
Just in time for the end of Mercury Retrograde, it would seem…
Well, as they say, it has been a week! Mine peaked – or troughed – late on Friday afternoon just after I had posted Part 1and shared it on my Astrology: Questions and Answers Facebook Page, when Facebook locked me completely out of my whole Facebook account, allegedly ‘to protect the security of our community’. You are my readers: do you think you need protection from me? (answers, on a plain postcard…)
Anyway, cutting a very long and tortuous story short, a saga ensued which involved utterly futile attempts to find an appropriate route through algorithmic obfuscations. In the end, my third email to the source of the previous (algorithmic) ones must have been so pungent (not rude, just pungent) that my account was suddenly restored late last night. I was most relieved, since I had been expecting a long haul – in keeping with two similar episodes in the last year – before what passes for normal service was restored.
Judging from the comments left on Part 1, both on my own blog/astrology Facebook Page and on the Pages of colleagues who kindly shared the post, there has indeed been a lightening of mood with some of us consequent upon this shift; an increase in matters communicative and educational/philosophically reflective in others; and, like me, downright disruption, despite which I too feel a lightening of mood this week. This has modified my feelings of exasperation and of being overwhelmed by matters Gemini/Sagittarius!
Back to Basics
This variation in responses and experiences neatly leads into a reminder of some basic principles, also reiterated by Dr Liz Greene in her second webinar on Chiron which I attended yesterday (9th May 2020): when considering the likely impact of any transit, including the Nodes, you need to remember that the transit invokes the basic nature and strength of the original pattern in the natal horoscope, bringing it into relationship with whatever opportunities/challenges the current transit is offering.
My own horoscope will serve as a case in point, but readers can easily apply the same principles to their own horoscopes and current transits. I’ve used a Whole Sign format for the houses.
(I’m assuming readers have a basic familiarity with what the Nodal Axis represents. For those who do not, here is a quick summary.)
Anne W Horoscope
As can be seen, the Nodal Axis is bolted exactly onto the MC/IC axis in the ninth/third houses, very appropriate for a career which has always involved teaching and education in one form or another: all the way from teaching Liberal Studies to bricklayers and gas fitters, through to university entrance qualifications in English to mature students, and thereafter to supervision of social work trainees, and latterly via astrology classes to any and every occupation – from bus driving to psychiatric consultancy.
When you add in that powerful pattern’s being part of a fixed T-Square with the twelfth House Sun/Moon conjunction, also taking in third house Jupiter in Scorpio widely conjunct the IC/South Node, you can see the powerful symbolic role played in the unfolding path of my life’s journey by the Moon’s Nodes. I’ve even written a research study about them!
So – it’s hardly surprising that their shift this week has been very challenging for me. In addition to circumstances already described in Part 1, I’ve been having one of my periodic“What am I supposed to be doing with the rest of my life/ I need some new input!! ”Mercury/Jupiter crises. You’d think at my age I’d have settled that one. No such luck…
The Nodes’ journey through the natal chart
The stronger the links are, then, between natal planets and Angles with the Nodal axis, the more powerfully we will experience the symbolic impact of that axis as it regresses through our horoscopes, taking 18 months to go through each sign and house – pulling the potent twice yearly eclipse seasons with it – taking 18-19 years to return to its natal position. It will bring the core challenges of that natal pattern along to whatever sign, house and planetary aspects it happens to be making in that 18-19 year journey.
As I mentioned in the previous post, the Nodal shift into Gemini/Sagittarius and my tenth/fourth houses has already brought up powerful issues centring round having to balance the demands of domestic and vocational life. With the North Node conjunct the MC strongly pushing me to favour my vocational path, I’ve always been dragged back, usually unwillingly, to the South Node/IC position to deal with domestic matters from which I was unable to escape. It’s taken me decades to arrive at a reasonable balance between those two poles.
‘…Identifying with the South Node position too strongly means leading a life which depends on using the abilities we already have to keep us safe from risk, challenge and therefore growth; whose main priority is comfort; whose mode is a habitual and largely automatic response to life.
Taking up the challenge of the North Node, on the other hand, brings with it a life which feels meaningful and open to new experience; which takes opportunities to develop innate talents and new insights and skills through responding positively to the impetus for change; whose mode is of acceptance of conflict and discomfort as a necessary part of developing as a person.
At the heart of the fullest, most creative expression of the struggle both collectively and individually lies a deep paradox – to move on as human beings we must individuate, follow the path of the North Node, and leave the South Node behind. But we must also make the return journey, to honour that which we ideally do not leave behind at all, but incorporate in our movement towards our own destiny…’(i)
This personal example serves to illustrate a vital point about the Nodal Axis which applies to us all. We have to honour the challenges of the whole axis as our life path unfolds…
The current Nodal picture
Along with many of us, I’ve found the Nodal Axis’ transit through Cancer/Capricorn, crossing Saturn/Pluto in mid 2019 along the way, to be especially painful in terms of family, loss, and having to restructure life in ways that I would definitely not have chosen. No wonder the Moon’s Nodes, especially when they link with Pluto, have such a fated ‘feel’ to them. This was certainly one of the stand-out conclusions at which I arrived as a result of my own research into the Nodes.
I do not need to remind any of us of what a battering our world community has taken from the winter of 2018/9 as the Nodes have regressed through Cancer/Capricorn, culminating in the rise and spread of the grim pandemic now engulfing the world as the Nodal Axis shifts. Through the corona virus, our planet seems to be telling us in no uncertain terms that we need to radically change the way we live on planet Earth.
It’s fascinating to me as an astrologer (and I’m sure many other astrologers also think the same thing) that the shift of the Nodes into Gemini/Sagittarius has co-incided with several distinctive collective shifts. Here are just a few examples: One, the restlessness and desire to ease lockdown which is becoming more manifest in different countries despite the risk that certainly poses. Humans can only endure severe restriction for so long. We are too restless as a species, and this particular Nodal shift is amplifying that restlessness.
Also noticeable has been that the international search for a vaccine which would gradually bring us greater freedom has been ramping up, producing some promising results eg in the UK where human trials have already begun.
Furthermore at a more negative level for humans, though beneficial for the planet, has been the dawning of a realisation coming into clear focus now: the aviation industry, that supreme ally of human restlessness, is in severe trouble. We may never again be able to take to the air and see the world in the same relatively cheap and carefree way that we’ve come to take for granted in recent decades…
In conclusion– something else which strikes me as apt, and significant, is the North Node’s current presence in airy Gemini, midwifing the Air era beginning at this year’s winter solstice with the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction’s dramatic arrival at 0 degrees of Aquarius. We are going to need the adaptability of Gemini and the optimism and vision of Sagittarius as we step into the great collective adventure of the next two hundred years!
Honestly, I wasn’t going to bother writing about the Nodes’ ingress into Gemini/Sagittarius…until it happened on the morning of Tuesday 5th May 2020 (if you go by the True Node – more on this later) during the first formal zoom tutorial with my student group.
Immediately following this my week exploded into a flurry of admin, dealing with annoying domestic detail, numerous phone calls at inconvenient moments eg when I was struggling to make sense of my tax return, zoom chats, teaching – and group participation via two seminars, one on Saturday planned for some time, the other on Sunday, arising from a zoom meeting with a friend and colleague today. This upcoming weekend is suddenly full of zoom, zoom, and more zoom!
I haven’t been feeling hugely inspired of late, but the extraordinary ramping up of all things Gemini/Sagittarius in my life this week with the Nodes’ shift from Cancer/Capricorn has truly got me going. This shift places the North Node in my tenth house, South Node in the fourth house; my week has been characterised thus far by considerable frustration as I struggled to free myself from the grip of admin etc etc centred on matters concerning my domestic life, in order to follow the promptings of the North Node in the tenth and get on with writing my A A Journal column and another piece of writing still gestating.
The manifestations of this shift for me were so striking that I really feel inspired once again to return to reflecting on the Moon’s Nodes, and in this post, on the significance ofingresses. Planetary ingresses (entries) into signs have fascinated me ever since I began to study astrology and to realise the striking correlation between newspaper headlines on the day after a planet had shifted from one sign to another, and events in the wider world. At one time I had a whole file full of dramatic press cuttings illustrating this eg a photograph of the Japanese city of Kobe on fire following a massive earthquake on 17th January 1995 – just as Pluto shifted into Sagittarius.
But what of ingresses which are not planetary, ie the ingresses of the Moon’s Nodes which we are discussing here? Is it worth paying attention to these points of ingress in personal life? Or collective life? Have you had any striking experiences this week illustrating the energetic shift of the Nodes from one pair of signs to another? Has your mood lightened ( despite lockdown) in response to the Nodal shift from water and earth (Cancer/Capricorn) to air and fire (Gemini/Sagittarius)?
I’d be interested in my readers’ thoughts on this topic, whilst I write in some more detail about the Moon’s Nodes in general, and in Gemini/Sagittarius, for next week.