Mercury has ruled the Mars and Venus retrograde cycles we have seen this year, and he has just emerged out of one of his own retrograde phases. Now we are approaching the superior conjunction of Mercury and the Sun and it looks as though it has some particularly important light to shed on the underlying meaning of these retrogrades and what they have meant from the point of view of our personal and spiritual development.
First, looking at the Sabian symbol where Mercury and the Sun become conjunct:
PHASE 169 (VIRGO 19°): A SWIMMING RACE.
KEYNOTE: The stimulation that comes from a group effort toward a spiritual goal.
When man has become an expert swimmer he has symbolically learned how to operate in a new element. This element, water, represents the ever-flowing stream of psychic energy, and, in a sense at least, the “astral” world. In a still deeper sense man is now able, mystically speaking, to cross the river and reach “the other shore” — or to swim back toward the source. Whether or not the symbol should suggest the competitive spirit at work is questionable. At the biological level a host of spermatozoa are swimming toward the ovum, and each presses on toward the goal, the act of impregnation. A seeker after spiritual rebirth actually does not strive alone. It is Man who, acting through the most advanced individuals of the race, is taking a step toward “rebirth,” or toward a new mutation. The personal ego-centred ambition to succeed and to be “first” is indeed a sign of expectable spiritual failure.
At this fourth stage we are confronted with a problem of interpretation. Is not ambition a subtle form of deviation under the pressure of ancient karma, and the competitive spirit so valued by our civilization a sign of failure to understand the deeper reality of existence? What is needed is EMULATION, not competition.
At the same time as this superior conjunction takes place Jupiter is on the Venus transit degree. Jupiter is picking up a lot of the issues that Venus raised in her retrograde period and will go back over the same ground linking those personal issues to the wider society we live in and asking that the two are more closely matched. You may remember the Sabian symbol for that Venus transit degree:
PHASE 76 (GEMINI 16°): A WOMAN ACTIVIST IN AN EMOTIONAL SPEECH DRAMATIZING HER CAUSE.
KEYNOTE: A passionate response to a deeply felt new experience.
What has been “discovered” not only needs to be discussed and tested through an intellectual exchange which permits its formulation, it also demands “exteriorization.” This implies the act of dealing with those who are still unaware of the new knowledge or realization. A public is needed, and it has to be convinced; its inertial resistance to change has to be overcome. This usually requires an emotional dramatization of the issues at stake. Here again, as at the very start of the cycle (Aries 1°), a woman is depicted, which means a person depending upon feelings and fiery images to sway the receptive public.
This is the first stage in the sixteenth five-fold sequence in the cyclic process. We are dealing now with the exteriorization of the original impulse — i.e. the emergence from the vast ocean of potentiality which constitutes human nature at all levels. What is at stake is a process of communication of new experiences. The mind is called upon to perform its work, but what comes first is the action of that mind which is violently moved and which attempts to move other minds by violent means, the PROSELYTIZING MIND.
Also, in another echo from the energies of recent times, Venus is moving into yod formation with Chiron and Pluto, reminding us of the yods formed back in July when Mercury was transiting this part of the zodiac. What’s more it is again a double interlocking yod but with the emphasis moved to incorporate Psyche. Psyche was a major player in the Venus Rx cycle, now she is square to Pluto and opposing Uranus and so moving through that cardinal square.
What’s more, Eros, the natural partner of Psyche, who was apparent at the beginning of the Mars Rx phase but then went his own way for a while not really joining in with all the action is now beginning to show himself again – and he’s doing so in collaboration with Juno, who also went and did her own thing for a while starting back in March when she didn’t get involved with the grand trine in earth. These two have joined forces on the North Node, path of future karma or soul’s development.
All this happens just before the New Moon which takes place on the Mars Rx degree, signalling the closure on the events of the past few months and opening the way for new developments and ventures. It is useful to look at the mythology of Psyche again to see what kind of role Eros is playing in this – Eros is the god of love, beautiful child of Venus/Aphrodite herself. But there is something missing – Eros knows how to love, he does it wonderfully, but he does not know how to be loved. Not until he meets Psyche does he come to understand what it is to be loved. And not until Psyche has passed through terrible hardship does he come to value that and return from the realm of the gods and his mother to search for her as she emerges from the underworld. He does indeed find her, collapsed exhausted and in despair and from there lifts her up to take her place amongst the gods.
Interesting, then, to read the Sabian Symbol for the degree where Juno and Eros meet on the North Node – we are reminded of the power of love to grant immortality to the soul as is told through the myth of Psyche and Eros:
(SCORPIO 29°): AN INDIAN SQUAW PLEADING TO THE CHIEF FOR THE LIVES OF HER CHILDREN.
KEYNOTE: Love as a principle of redemption.
Here the soul is presented as a mother whose sons (i.e. her active energies) have become disruptive forces in the collective life of the tribe. She seeks to counteract the karma of their misdeeds through her love and implorations. The soul is responsive to the experience of unity (the spiritual king or chief) but the energies of human nature often follow their self-seeking, divisive tendencies.
This is the fourth symbol of the forty-eighth sequence. It presents us with the value of prayer. The principle of wholeness in man — the soul — acts to offset or attenuate the dictates of karma. In a religious sense, Mary, the Mother, is seen as the Mediatrix, in constant acts of INTERCESSION for the sake of waylaid individuals.
This meeting up of Juno and Eros is watched from across the sky by Lilith who, unlike Juno, was thoroughly involved in the grand earth trine back in March. What is more, Psych and Eros were locked together in tight embrace and conjunct Mars as part of the grand earth trine while Juno was very close to the North Node back then. It seems that was the time that saw things start to fly apart for Psyche as Eros flew away leaving her to deal with the shadows of Mars and the tasks set by Venus during her retrograde. Meanwhile Mercury was involved in a trine to Juno, picking up the messages that he would have to carry over the ensuing months. Perhaps Juno here is acting as intermediary, picking up some of the problems that Lilith raised back in March and which have been lying in the background these last months but which now finally need resolutions, judgement. In the myth Psyche is granted immortality by Jupiter, head of the gods, Juno is his wife – so is Eros bending the ear of Juno, asking for immortality for his love?
While Psyche represents the soul and the power of love to transform the soul and grant in immortality, Eros represents the urge to connect, to touch, to make manifest. Eros was the god of love, he was great at loving everything and everyone but that love was without true meaning and significance for him until he met Psyche and experienced not just the touching of bodies but the touching of souls. Eros in our chart shows us how we like to touch and be touched – if Psyche represents a small magical point where we can be moved beyond ourselves and our soul can grow, Eros shows how and where we desire to make that physical, tangible – Eros desires that the soul have substance, form, senses, a point at which the physical and spiritual can merge. Eros also shows how we can reach out to others.
All in all this is an unfolding story of how our instinctive need to love, to know that we exist by having contact from another becomes not just a drive, an urge but a desire for meaning, for understanding the immortal power of love not simply its transient pleasures. It is a still unfolding story, but these next transits suggest a point of realisation, of understanding, of seeing the way ahead more clearly. Natal positions of Eros and Psyche will tell you how these energies naturally manifest for you, the transits will show you the area of activity and other parts of your life that are being affected by this.
Here’s a great site for thinking about Eros by sign and house