In April of 2016, Mars turns retrograde in 8º Sagittarius, travels backwards into Scorpio, turns direct again and finishes its journey by returning to 8º Sagittarius by the end of August. There isn’t a better representation of Sagittarian and Scorpio themes than the loss of innocence and the encounter with evil—and there isn’t a better telling of this story than Star Wars.
Mars is the archetypal hero of the zodiac. When Mars turns retrograde, the Hero in all of us goes on a symbolic journey to discover what it really means to be a hero and how to take heroic action in our lives. The sign or signs Mars travels through will tell us much about the nature of the journey while any planets Mars encounters along the way will bring experiences or characters that shape the hero’s development.
Here’s the chart of the moment when Mars turns retrograde. In it, we’ll find inspiration and insight, along with clues about how to navigate this Mars retrograde period. In the blogpost thread to come, I’ll interpret these clues using a very famous story to answer a question all heroes must face, if they are to remain heroes and not “turn to the Dark side.”
In this chart, Mars is conjunct Saturn in Sagittarius and is squared by Neptune, Jupiter and the Moon. We know that Mars will retrograde back into Scorpio. Sagittarius represents hope, adventure and a quest—and so the story begins with a youthful innocent. But evil threatens to consume the innocent hero, and thus Mars travels back into Scorpio and the encounter with evil shapes him.
Our story begins with a boy, not yet a man emotionally, although he is an adult physically. His name is Skywalker–a very Sagittarian name. He longs for adventure and watches the double sunset wondering what’s out there for him. A pair of droids enters his life bringing vital information that must be delivered somewhere. Luke will have to go on a journey, but at first he resists, because he has a life here on Tatooine.
Through the droids, Luke meets Obi-Wan Kenobi and discovers Kenobi knew his dead father. The father theme is brought in by Saturn’s presence conjunct Mars and so Luke finds in Kenobi a surrogate father and a mentor. Neptune square Mars suggests the mystery surrounding his father’s death and Jupiter square Mars suggests the unexpected journey. The Moon square Mars is an apt symbol of the scene that struck me hard when I first saw it—the corpses of Luke’s aunt and uncle burning after Imperial stormtroopers came looking for Kenobi. They are the only family Luke has ever known and now there is no longer a reason for him to remain on Tatooine. He is propelled on a journey to discover more about his father and deliver the message to the rebellion. He is also struck by the beauty of the princess for whom the message must be delivered. And so begins the saga, during which he will face his darkest enemy, discover the truth about his father, and become a man.
The question Star Wars asks is one fundamental to human nature and I’ll ask it in 3 different ways:
“How do you defeat evil without becoming evil?”
“How do you incorporate the possibility of evil into your worldview without becoming consumed by it?”
“How do you encounter evil without having it shape you into something darker, whether by embracing it or rejecting it?”
In many stories of the encounter with evil, the villain seems to have distinct advantages that stem from his rejection of love and ethics. This liberates him to fight strongly for his own selfish purposes. To fight a strong enemy, the hero must also be strong. But is it justifiable for him to sink to the villain’s level? The hero cannot afford this—he must maintain his ethics and his heart and his connection to those he is protecting or saving—or else he himself becomes evil and then evil has won.
How does the hero fight strongly and resist the call of darkness and its implied liberation and power? Luke Skywalker’s story contains answers to all these questions and more.
Over the course of the next few months, I’ll post articles showing milestones in this year’s Mars Retrograde journey and relating them to plot threads in the Star Wars saga. (beware please that there will be many, MANY spoilers in this post-series. If you haven’t gotten current with the world of Star Wars you may want to before reading this thread. You’ve been warned.)
You can find out more about Mars retrograde here.
If you have just found this blogpost thread, I strongly suggest you go back to the beginning of it before reading further.
Venus Retrograde is over (at least for now—she will go retrograde again in March of 2017). We are past the peak in our story: the princess has been discovered, the witch vanquished, the hard choice made. What is left to tell? A milestone occurs when Venus, now direct, passes through the same point where she turned retrograde in the first place. That happens on October 9, 2015. On this day Venus (now direct and no longer retrograde) passes back through 0º Virgo, the point where she began the journey.
I have names for various points in the Venus Retrograde cycle (see diagram here) and I have dubbed this one “Relationship Resolution Day.” It’s an opportunity to return to where you started and to apprehend this place with all the wisdom of the retrograde journey in your pocket. What metaphors can we find in the story of Rapunzel?
A grim ending for a Grimm tale
In the Grimm’s version, after being blinded and wandering for years, the Prince rediscovers Rapunzel by hearing her sing (there’s that Leo creativity and expression again) and they are reunited. She has been raising their children. Overjoyed, she cries and her tears fall on his eyes. The blindness is healed. They can now be together.
Old-fashioned tales are bound by old-fashioned perspectives. This “you can be happy only after you have endured pain and punishment” moral framework is reminiscent of Jane Eyre, a middle-class character who could only marry her upper-class love after both have paid a terrible price involving death, a fire and the revelation of a horrifying secret. But the modern reader wonders why it all mattered so much?
A modern Disney ending
Disney, targeting its tales firmly at an audience of children and their parents, needs to keep it all very G-rated. The pregnancy theme? Out. The sad ending with the blinded prince? Out. Instead we have the magic hair, a charismatic bad boy hero and an indomitable lost princess trying to discover herself. Oddly, by removing some of the themes, Disney has arrived at the heart of the story, which is also the part that interests modern children (and the inner child of modern adults) the most. And this is the part of the story that makes me cry. Every. Damn. Time.
Rapunzel’s epiphany comes when she has returned to the tower and surrendered herself to Mother Gothel, ostensibly forever. But she has with her a bit of flag that she brought home from her adventures. It has the crest of the royal family on it—a sunburst (and there’s nothing more Leonine than a sunburst). Seeing this symbol in the context of the tower makes her look all around her and suddenly realize that she’s been drawing and painting this exact shape all her life. She’s surrounded by sunbursts—in the positive and in the negative space of every image she’s created. Venus retrograde’s discovery, upon returning to Leo from Virgo, is that she has herself already—that she always knew who she really was, deep down inside. This triggers for Rapunzel the realization that SHE is the princess who was stolen as a baby, that the lanterns are expressly for her and always were. This is a Venus moment of understanding that one’s value is absolute and that her parents never stopped loving or wanting her.
This is a huge shift away from most world cultures’ traditional devaluation of the female or of using a daughter as a bargaining chip or a resource to be exploited. The epiphany is also a consummately Venus moment in that she discovers that she has value, has worth, that is inherent, and that it is up to her to ensure that it is used well in the world, and not exploited.
Lost. . . and found
United with Flynn, Rapunzel leaves the tower and returns to her family, the king and queen of the land. In a moment both subtle and tender, they recognize and welcome her with open hearts. This is a reaffirmation of their perpetual love for her and the hope that she would be found.
This is a story for anyone who has ever lost herself and then found herself, for anyone who has lost a child, for anyone who fears that her mother didn’t really love her. It’s a story affirming that a girl can grow up, pass through adolescence, discover herself and her own desires and be loved by her parents despite the rebellion needed to break away from their safe grasp. It is a story for everyone who longs to be a wanted child.
Wikipedia page about Rapunzel
A fun and modernized retelling of Rapunzel, in graphic novel format
Grimm’s Fairy Tales on Wikipedia
The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang as a free download on amazon.com
Tangled on IMDB
An annotated Rapunzel
Grimm’s original tale for purchase on amazon.com
Terri Windling’s Rapunzel page compares several versions of the tale, is annotated and is loaded with insights
We return to our story at a peak dramatic moment: In the Disney version of the tale, Rapunzel wants to heal Flynn, but Flynn refuses to allow her to promise her life away so that Mother Gothel will allow him to be healed. He would rather die than leave her in her tower. She would rather be imprisoned forever and lose him, than he lose his life. It is an impossible dilemma.
Flynn solves the problem by making Rapunzel’s decision for her—and in doing so, he demonstrates that he loves her more than he loves his own life. Considering that he is an orphan and a thief with a made-up life and a false identity, who likely has never bonded to anyone before now, this shows that he is a changed man. Using a shard of glass that he picked up in the battle with Mother Gothel, he cuts Rapunzel’s hair—the ultimate sacrifice, because she cannot heal him without it. In doing so, he is liberating her by making her worthless to Mother Gothel, when she wouldn’t have done that for herself. Rapunzel’s cropped hair loses its magic and turns brown. And then Flynn dies in her arms.
Here we arrive at the very nadir of hope and it’s reminiscent of the Grimm’s ending, where the prince falls on thorns, is blinded and spends the rest of his days in aimless wandering. And here Disney (which knows its audience expects a happy ending and a kiss) delivers a miracle. Rapunzel cries and a single tear falls on Flynn and that tear contains all that’s left of the hair’s magical powers. It is enough to heal Flynn and ultimately their happiness together is assured.
In the midst of all this Mother Gothel receives the punishment we expect: she falls from the tower and is no more. My perspicacious 3-year-old calls her a “bad guy mommy.” Her exploitation of Rapunzel’s hair is at an end.
I cannot imagine stating the themes of this tale better than author and folklorist Terri Windling, so I’ll quote her here:
“In the public mind (used to the Grimm’s version), Rapunzel’s tale was one intended for very young readers — with few realizing that at its root this is a story about puberty, sexual desire, and the evils of locking young women away from life and self-determination. In the children’s version, Rapunzel is just another passive princess waiting for her prince to come. In the older tales we glimpse a different story: about a girl whose life is utterly controlled by greedy, selfish, capricious adults … until she disobeys, chooses her own fate, and bursts from captivity into adult life.
Rapunzel’s story has become part of our folk tradition because its themes are universal and timeless. We’ve all hungered for things with too high a price; we’ve all felt imprisoned by another’s demands; we’ve all been carried away by love, only to end up blinded and broken; we all hope for grace at the end of our suffering, and a happy ending.”
In the next–and final–article in this series (on October 8), discover Rapunzel’s ultimate epiphany, and the takeaway from this year’s Venus Retrograde period.
On August 31, 2015, Venus conjuncts Mars, just as she’s finishing her retrograde stint. They meet at 14º Leo. Obviously, if you have anything in your chart at 14º Leo, this would hit you with some significance. It would connect strongly with your Sun if your birthday is within a week on either side of August 6, November 6, February 3 or May 4.
If you are just finding this article series now, I strongly suggest you begin at the beginning of it. (And beware of the many spoilers of the Disney movie, Tangled, in this series.)
The Cost of Fun, according to Grimm
In the Grimm’s version of Rapunzel, we have gotten to the part of the story where Rapunzel has been having an affair with her rescuer, who visits her regularly, and Rapunzel innocently asks Dame Gothel, “Why is my dress getting tight?” She is pregnant. In that tale, Gothel cuts Rapunzel’s hair and casts her out of the tower. She then ties the hair to a nail and lures the prince to climb it in his usual way, only to drop him from the tower’s height to a thorn bush where he is blinded. In some versions, this is where the story ends—badly, unromantically. The prince spends the rest of his life wandering as a blind man and thus, in a very pre-modern plot ending, Rapunzel and her prince must pay for their pleasure.
The Cost of Fun, according to Disney
In other versions, Rapunzel and the blind prince reunite years later and find happiness together. In the Disney version, the happy ending is even more pronounced (as modern and post-modern viewers expect).
Rapunzel has escaped the tower and Mother Gother pursues her (she covets the hair, remember?) and, observing that Flynn and Rapunzel are falling in love, tricks her into thinking he has abandoned her for riches. Rapunzel returns to the tower with Gothel, and to her life of submission and non-adventure. Flynn is imprisoned but escapes (with the help of the most awesome cartoon horse character I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing) and returns to the tower to rescue Rapunzel. There a beautiful, magical transformation happens, which teaches about the power of love (a favorite theme with Disney) and the evildoers are all appropriately punished while the good guys find love and happiness.
They aren’t the only ones who have to pay
While Flynn is speeding towards her, Rapunzel has the epiphany where she realizes that the lost princess the lanterns are raised for is actually. . . herself. This triggers the further epiphany that Mother Gothel isn’t her real mother. This allows Rapunzel to see the false mother love she’s been given for the cheap, gaudy thing it really is—more Leo symbolism there, as Rapunzel begins to discover substance as opposed to surface.
In the fracas, Flynn is dealt a deadly blow. Rapunzel begs Mother Gothel to allow her to heal Flynn with her hair, giving her word of honor that she will remain in the tower forever. This is a devil’s bargain: Rapunzel must choose between her life of isolation, but saving Flynn’s life, or rebelling against Mother Gothel and gaining her freedom, but allowing Flynn to die. She chooses to save his life, but he chooses her freedom. With a shard of glass, he cuts her hair, rather than allow her to save him. Both characters grow. BUT Flynn is dying. All is lost.
How can a happy ending happen?
In the next article, discover the magical healing power of love.
On August 13, 2015, Venus, still moving retrograde, conjuncts the Sun. I call this Relationship Clarity Day—a day when the purpose of the current Venus Retrograde period can become clear. During the current Venus Retrograde period, there is also a New Moon in Leo, which is in trine to Uranus in Aries. Saturn in Scorpio continues to square Venus. We continue the story of Rapunzel where we left off—she is living in her tower and is about to be discovered by … either a handsome prince or a thief, depending on which version you refer to.
(Warning: Disney movie “Tangled” spoilers are peppered throughout this article series!)
The Adventure. . .
In the Disney version, Rapunzel’s tower is invaded by a thief named Flynn, who styles himself something of a player but is easily subdued by an iron frying pan wielded by the indomitable Rapunzel. She may lack worldly experience, but she’s ready to defend herself, in true Venus-in-Leo fashion. She ties him up with her hair and makes him agree to help fulfill her one great wish, which is to see the beautiful floating lanterns close up.
The Disney version contains a number of Leonine symbols here: One, the lanterns are lights that are made of floating fire. Two, Rapunzel is taking initiative and she is royalty—a lost princess. Three, her family crest is a sunburst and it is this symbol that awakens her to her heritage. Only after leaving the tower and adventuring out into the nearby towns does she see the kingdom’s flag. Her epiphany later in the story is that she’s been drawing and painting that very shape her whole life—the tower is in fact filled with sunbursts, and this triggers in her a babyhood memory of her parents. She discovers herself—again, very Leonine.
. . . or the Affair
Grimm’s versions of all fairy tales tend to be a bit more, well, grim. They are often bloodier and more adult. Most of Grimm’s tales have been softened in the last century, for the ears of modern children. In Rapunzel, there are strong hints that Rapunzel has been having sex with her visitor and that she becomes pregnant. This is also apt symbolism for Venus in Leo, as love affairs and sex for pleasure and fun are ruled by Leo. So whichever version you go with, the message is the same. Girls just want to have fun.
In the next article, discover how Rapunzel (and her visitor) must pay for their fun.
If you’re just finding this now, you might want to begin this thread at the beginning.
On July 31st, 2015, Venus retrograded from Virgo into 29º Leo. At the same time, Saturn is retrograde in Scorpio, also retrograde, and the two square each other. This is apt symbolism for continuing the story of Rapunzel, the maiden (Venus) in the tower (Saturn—restriction, constriction, isolation, ). Arriving in Leo, Venus is defiant. “I am remembering who I am!” she declares. This section of the tale is about her meeting the one who will release her—in the Grimm’s tale, it’s the prince, and in the Disney version, it’s Flynn, the thief. Either way, for her to entertain him is an act of defiance and subversion. This girl just wants to have some fun for once!
Leo, creativity and self-discovery
Even the synopsis of the Disney film on IMDB emphasizes the self-discovery aspect of the tale: “The magically long-haired Rapunzel has spent her entire life in a tower, but now that a runaway thief has stumbled upon her, she is about to discover the world for the first time, and who she really is.”
In Tangled, Rapunzel is extremely creative with her time, which is very Leo of her. She paints, cooks, makes pottery, and literally swings from the ceiling by her hair. She covers every wall and ceiling with beautiful drawings and reads all the books she possesses over and over again (after all, there are only 3 of them). She even plays chess. In the Grimm’s tale the prince is drawn to her by hearing her sing—another creative act. Rapunzel is bursting with self-development.
The symbolism of golden hair
Hair is lush, sensual and a means for expression. Leo, being the Lion, is always aware of the mane. Her long hair, always blonde, (this is a German tale after all) is a symbol of lushness and golden beauty. Like gold, she is coveted, first by her parents, then by Mother Gothel, then by the Prince/Flynn.
In the Disney tale her hair is coveted for its healing powers. At the end, Flynn is willing to die rather than exploit the healing hair one more time—even though Rapunzel is willing to sacrifice her newfound freedom to save him. This is his growth in the story, which he begins as a thief, coveting a tiara he had stolen from the palace. He learns to value love over money. Mother Gothel, who covets the hair for its ability to restore her youth, receives the ultimate lesson—and dies of it.
Read the next post: Love and Rebellion.
If you’re just finding this now, you might want to begin this thread at the beginning.
Life in the Tower
This Venus retrograde period begins in Virgo and then Venus retrogrades back into Leo (on July 31). A maiden imprisoned in a tower is an apt metaphor for this. Rapunzel begins her life with some very Virgo restrictions and when she arrives at adolescence, a Leo-style crisis hits because the tower can no longer contain her.
The budding of sexuality and expression in the second quadrant of the zodiac
The zodiac is a human development cycle. The first quadrant takes us through early childhood, while the second quadrant carries us from there to adulthood. This second quadrant contains houses that have to do with self development and learning who we are. Leo and Virgo appear here, along with Cancer. Cancer represents our relationship to family and heritage, the context we come from. It’s where we learn to nurture ourselves. It also represents the hormonal and emotional changes of adolescence. Cancer is followed by Leo, the symbolic teen years, a time of self-expression. In Leo we come to know who we are through creativity, performance and audience response. Here we develop self-confidence. Then comes Virgo, the threshold of young adulthood, a time of shaping and perfecting oneself. Here we develop integrity and restraint. Here we prepare to meet the Beloved in Libra, sign of partnership and love. After we learn who we are, we are then ready to link with a partner and fully merge with them (in Scorpio).
Rapunzel’s part of the story begins in Virgo. She is a maiden, a virgin, inexperienced and innocent, untouched and isolated in her tower. Rapunzel doesn’t know she’s a princess or that she’s beautiful. Her life is a Virgo one of restraint, humbleness and modesty.
Venus retrogrades into Leo, sign of creativity and fun
This Venus retrograde period begins so extremely early in Virgo that Venus quickly retrogrades back into Leo. Virgo is of course the sign associated with virginity while Leo is associated with love affairs and sex for pleasure. What could this mean?
A Venus retrograde period takes our relationships backward before they can go forward. It is a time of retrospection and introspection. Rapunzel has been limited to a Virgo life before she had had any fun. How can she prepare to meet the Beloved if she doesn’t know who she is? Before Rapunzel can become a true partner (in Libra), she needs to become an independent young adult (Virgo) and before that she needs to really play and to discover herself (Leo). So back into Leo Venus goes, to discover fun, creativity and playfulness.
What is rampion?
While researching this story I discovered a page that tells the whole story of Rapunzel with helpful annotations. There I found this quote, with some interesting biological facts about the rampion plant that Rapunzel is named for. Rampion is an autogamous plant. This means that if it is not fertilized with the help of insects, it can split a column within the plant to fertilize itself. The split column will “curl like braids or coils on a maiden’s head, and this will bring the female stigmatic tissue into contact with the male pollen on the exterior surface of the column.” How cool is that?
A beautiful maiden in a tower in a fairy tale is an invitation for adventure to happen, just as virginity is an invitation for sexuality to happen. Nature dictates that budding sexuality be discovered, and very soon, that is exactly what happens. And what fairy tale would be complete without the arrival of the prince?
What is Venus Retrograde?
Venus turns retrograde (or backwards) for about 6 weeks every year and a half. When she does, she pulls us into an inward journey, an exploration of the deeper mysteries of love. Relationships reach a crisis point at which clarity can come, followed by a deepening of intimacy or possibly an end to the relationship. Each Venus retrograde period is an opportunity to learn a new set of teachings about love and apply them to your own relationships (including close friendships).
Venus Retrograde 2015: Virgo and Leo
This year Venus begins her retrograde journey in 0º Virgo and travels backwards into Leo. I’ve decided on the story of Rapunzel as an apt metaphor for this journey: a tale of an adolescent girl who has lived in a tower all her life, and just wants to get out and have some fun. At certain junctures of Venus’ journey I’ll be posting articles about Rapunzel to illuminate the meaning of this transit. Stories evolve in the telling and this story is hundreds of years old, so along the way, I’ll compare various versions and interpretations of the tale that may add their own particular meanings, from the Brothers Grimm to Disney.
The Story of Rapunzel
There once was a girl who had lived her whole life in a tower, isolated from the world. Ah, but I begin too late. . . I must start at the beginning. This story really begins with a pregnancy, so we can understand why Rapunzel was in a tower and how she got her name.
Once upon a time. . .
There lived a man and his wife who lacked a child and were unhappy. They lived near to a witch who kept a garden behind her wall. The wife craved rampion (a leafy green vegetable) and asked her husband to take some from the witch’s garden as she felt she would die if she didn’t have it. The husband did so and was caught. The witch demanded his first-born child for his thievery, predicting that his wife would soon bear. When the child was born, the witch took her away, naming the girl Rapunzel, after the rampion her mother had craved. She hid the child in a tower, isolated from the world.
What does it mean?
Rapunzel is the product of a craving, which can be interpreted two ways: one is that, because a pregnant woman needs nutrition, her cravings are taken seriously by her husband, who risks all to feed her what she wants. This is therefore a story about appetites and their cost. The other possible interpretation stems from the fact that, in some versions of the story, the mother craves parsley, a known abortifacient. Perhaps the mother doesn’t really want a child and just wants to have sex without conceiving and therefore she is made to pay for her “sin” by losing her child. In either interpretation, the mother is subject to cravings, longings, desires that the husband is bound to fulfill and that cost them their child. Rapunzel is a product of longing and the name given her by the witch is ironic.
Mother Gothel, and the feminine craving for youth and beauty
The witch herself is a character full of meaning. In some versions she is a witch or a sorceress, in some a simple herbalist. In some she lures the husband to steal the rampion so she can claim the child. But in none of the older versions (Grimm’s German version or the Italian or French versions) is it explained why the old woman would want to take a child and raise it. The Disney version handles this by giving her a uniquely modern motivation.
(Warning: Disney movie “Tangled” spoilers are peppered throughout this article series!)
Disney begins the story with a magical flower that an aging woman finds. The flower keeps the woman young and beautiful and she conceals it under a basket, keeping it only for herself and singing a song to evoke the magical healing properties of the flower. She does this for hundreds of years. Then one day, the queen of the land, who is pregnant, grows deathly ill. She needs to get well, and fast. The king, hearing of the flower, sends his soldiers to take the flower and it is harvested and used to heal the queen, who safely bears a daughter. The magical healing qualities of the flower have come out in the baby’s hair, which is golden. The old woman, who is called Mother Gothel in the Disney version (and Dame Gothel in Grimm’s), appears and steals the child away. Mother Gothel knows that if Rapunzel’s hair is cut, even once, it will lose its magic. She hides the child in a tower which Rapunzel is never allowed to leave. Mother Gothel renews her youthful appearance and health each time Rapunzel sings a song that works the magic.
Rapunzel grows up believing Mother Gothel is her mother and knows nothing of her loving and distraught royal parents. Each year, they celebrate their beloved child (and grieve her loss) by sending lanterns into the sky. Each year, Rapunzel sees the beautiful lanterns and is drawn to them, but doesn’t have any idea they are for her. Rapunzel is the archetypal lost princess, with no idea that she is beautiful, magical and lost. She has all the power of primal innocence and Mother Gothel’s purpose is to entrap and exploit it, as a natural resource. Mother Gothel is the “bad mother” figure that appears in so many fairy tales and their Disney versions.
Distorted mother love and the Moon in Scorpio
The Disney version interests me because of the complex dynamics between Rapunzel and Mother Gothel. It’s especially interesting because this year’s Venus Retrograde period begins while the Moon is in Scorpio, a position associated with mothers who can be overprotective, manipulative or controlling.
Mother Gothel is the only mother Rapunzel has ever known. She pretends to love the child but really wants only to control and contain her and have access to her magic hair. “Mother knows best,” she sings, in a litany of things in the outside world that Rapunzel should be afraid of, justifying her imprisonment in the tower. Gothel’s every move in the course of the story is in defense of her access to the hair, a symbol of lushness and sexual beauty. She “protects” Rapunzel by keeping her in the tower, securing the girl’s obedience by pretending to be a loving mother. But as Rapunzel grows up, the tower will no longer contain her. Mother Gothel’s exploitation of this natural resource will come to an end.
Adolescence and the budding of sexuality
Rapunzel is conceived as a transgression (the husband has to climb a wall to get the rampion, which is protected/imprisoned behind it) and then is hidden in a tower, where she cannot transgress. But as the story moves on, she does transgress. This is the nature of adolescence: it is a time of desires and transgression. More in the next post.
And more about Venus Retrograde here.
The Warrior in the Sign of Grace–Wha?
Mars is spending about 12 weeks retrograde this year (from March 1 to May 19, 2014) and is traveling through Libra. This is an uncomfortable sign position for Mars. Mars is the Hero, the Warrior, the Pioneer, the Athlete, while Libra is concerned with beauty, grace, fairness, tact and diplomacy. Thus Mars in Libra is the expert negotiator, the verbal sparring partner who pushes every point, the ultimate litigator. It’s hard for Mars to do his usual job in Libra—he’s supposed to fight, to guard the perimeter, to be aggressive, and all these things are exactly what Libra hates most. Mars in Libra will do everything to avoid a fight, and will try other tactics first, such as persuasion, charm, even seduction, before resorting to fighting. Even then, fighting takes a verbal form and Mars wishes to come out smelling like a rose. When it comes down to physical fighting, Mars would rather retreat until the battle can be joined on a more intellectual field.
Iron Peeps of the Past
Not that I’m saying Mars in Libra is a slouch in the battle department—far from it. Some famous Mars-in-Libra individuals of the past include Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady,” well known for her stubborn, uncompromising negotiating style and Winston Churchill, whose use of the phrase “Iron Curtain” (in his “Sinews of Peace” speech) led to this phrase’s common use throughout the Cold War and up to today. It’s no coincidence that both these phrases contain iron and refer to martial strength.
But there’s something Mars in Libra hates more than fighting, and that’s injustice. In defense of the weak, the disenfranchised, the unfairly accused, this Mars rears up and brings all the fierceness he’s got.
Returning to Old Battles
When Mars is retrograde, we’re invited to go back and fight old battles, with the hope that a new resolution will come. Those who habitually avoid asserting themselves can relearn to fight, and restore balance to their lives. Habitual aggressors may meet with more resistance than usual—and those who evade rather than defend may find themselves uncharacteristically fighting back. Some of us may be pushed against the wall, forced to fight when we don’t want to, but seeing that if we don’t draw a line, someone who really needs help may go undefended.
Mars wants to know:
Where’s your battleground?
Can you resolve an old battle once and for all?
Can you learn to fight effectively, but in a more gracious way?
Can you engage in fair fighting?
Mars is asking all these questions while he goes retrograde from March 1st, 2014 to May 19th, 2014. What are your answers?
If you read my blog, then you know Pluto and Uranus are busy “toppling the Great Edifice” right now. Read more about Mars Retrograde and its interaction with the intense T-square involving Jupiter, Pluto and Uranus, that’s in the sky now (spring of 2014): Who Invited Jupiter To The Party? And Who Said Mars Could Crash It?
Is Mars bugging you?
If you want to find out how this tricky transit affects you,
contact Jamie about a reading.
Whew—I don’t know about you, but for me, this year’s season of multiple-retrogrades-in-a-row is absolutely relentless! Venus retrograde followed by Mercury retrograde—and look out people, because Mars retrograde is just about to begin and that’s the longest one of all. It’s thrown me off balance so hard that I haven’t been able to even take a break from the flack long enough to write about it much. That’s the challenge with being an astrological writer—I can predict the transits by the book, but I don’t really know what they’re like until I experience them, and then they may hit me so hard that I lose perspective for the duration. Which is a shame because writing about them can get me back on top of it all. And isn’t that the nature of life here on Earth anyway?
So I’m picking myself up and writing about this while we’re all still “in the trenches” and there’s still time to understand it as it’s happening.
Let me lay it all out on the table before you:
Venus Retrograde ran from December 21, 2013 to January 31, 2014 (I began this as-yet-unfinished post-thread about it then.)
We all drew a breath when that ended, then . . .
Mercury Retrograde ran from February 6 to February 28, 2014 (i.e. yesterday)
No time for a breath now because . . .
Mars Retrograde begins TODAY at 8:24 am Pacific time (in just a few hours) and runs till May 19. Yup, that’s about 3 months, which is totally normal for Mars Retrograde.
If you’ve been reading my blog for any time at all, you’ve probably noticed that I don’t view astrology fatalistically. The future is not carved in stone. Instead I take a positive approach and look for ways to make use of any given event (or piece of character) and turn it into a win. So that’s what I’ll be doing with Mars Retrograde. But before that, I’m just pausing for a moment to really feel the weight of several retrograde periods in a row and girding my loins for the possible battles ahead.
While Mars is retrograde, it will be traveling through Libra, sign of beauty, harmony, design, symmetry, diplomacy, negotiations, relationship, fairness, balance and the law. It also happens to be the sign Mars least likes to be in (which we call Mars’ sign of detriment). Librans may be feeling more combative than usual during this time.
Strap yourselves in, folks. It could be a bumpy ride. Get your armor on and sharpen your sword. Get yourself to the negotiating table because it’s time for some serious diplomacy—with a bite behind it.
I’d love to hear your experience with this extraordinary season of retrogrades. Tell me about it on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pandoraastrology
The apple is often used in literature as a symbol of forbidden knowledge, temptation and transgression, “forbidden fruit,” and by extension a symbol of love, sexuality and indulgence. Think of the Biblical Eve, tempted by the apples of the tree of life. Apples are also mentioned in a sexual context in the Song of Solomon. Examples of apple symbolism abound in Greek mythology, including the golden apples of the Garden of Hesperides (which Hercules had to fetch as one of his labors). A poisoned apple even appears in the fairy tale of Snow White.
Venus in Capricorn
The symbol of the golden apple is apt for a blogpost about Venus in Capricorn. Venus is the goddess of love and beauty. All things sensual and indulgent are in her domain. In Cardinal, Earthy Capricorn, Venus likes to be focused and on-track. With this kind of focus, temptation doesn’t occur much, but a golden apple is the very thing that might distract her and make her “sin,” i.e. “miss the mark.”
Venus in Capricorn is acquisitive, a wealth-builder and a maker of power matches. In Capricorn, Venus is very aware of status. The ultimate “First Lady,” this Venus craves recognition and loves to put her ambition to good use to benefit her partner and herself. With Venus in Capricorn on his arm, a man can climb to any heights. To this Venus, the ultimate temptation is the Golden Apple of a wealthy partner, a rich marriage, and a life of ease where hard work is not necessary.
But is that what will truly satisfy Venus in Capricorn?
Deep down, what Venus in Capricorn really desires is a partnership with shared goals—goals for each partner and goals for the relationship. This Venus has ambitions of her own, and putting those aside to support her partner’s career can prove just a distraction from the hard work of pursuing her own aspirations. Venus in Capricorn needs to know that both partners are building and achieving and that they are doing it together—that’s what turns her on. And at the end of every rainbow of achievement, this Venus hopes that deeper commitment and love are in that pot of gold.
So while Venus travels retrograde in Capricorn, we need to ask ourselves the deeper questions: Do I love my partner or his status? What are my goals for the relationship? Am I tempted by worldly, materialistic bling or is my love deeper than that? Are we building love or money–and can we somehow build both?
The Story: Atalanta the Swift
In Greek mythology, Atalanta was not a typical female. She was an athlete with prowess to rival (and exceed) that of many men. She was rejected as an infant because she was a girl, and left in the woods to die. There she was raised by bears and learned to hunt. She was strong and swift and eventually was reclaimed by her father as if she was a boy. He then tried to get her married (because that was just what you did with your daughter). She couldn’t refuse, but she could make it more difficult, so she set a trial for her suitors. Whoever could beat her in a footrace would become her husband; whoever failed, she beheaded. There were many takers and the heads rolled. Finally, one man (who genuinely loved her) named Hippomenes (sometimes called Melanion) had the bright idea to petition Aphrodite for a solution. Aphrodite gave him three golden apples and told him how to use them.
The day of the race came. Hippomenes raced Atalanta and dropped one of the apples along the way. She, confident in her assured victory, stopped to pick it up. Further along, he dropped another apple. Still sure she could make up the time, Atalanta stopped to pick it up. And then finally, Hippomenes dropped the third apple when almost at the finish—Atalanta stopped for it and thus lost the race. She had to marry Hippomenes but fortunately was very happy with him.
What it Means:
Atalanta was a lot like a modern career woman—happy in her independence and confident in her abilities. She was going places. She had finally gotten in good with her father. She was on a great track and was even able to set the terms for her own marriage (unheard of in that day) and if she’d been allowed to persist, would probably have been able to evade marriage altogether. But she was overconfident in her abilities and thought she could afford to break her stride. And she got distracted. By what? A shiny golden apple. Bling. Temptation.
Is this a good thing? It depends on what you want. Atalanta chose the golden apple and ended up with love. But she lost her independence. Modern women don’t want to choose between love and independence and fortunately, marriage no longer makes a woman her husband’s property. I think the deeper question here is, should relationship stop you from the pursuit of your own excellence? And if it does, how can the relationship adjust to allow both partners to pursue their achievements, instead of turning the woman’s energy towards the man’s accomplishments? And further still, does pursuit of excellence have to mean being so strong that you can’t soften for your relationship?
Venus in Capricorn can be distracted by the Golden Apple of becoming a powerful man’s First Lady. Adorning his arm, schmoozing on his behalf and managing his social calendar can look much easier than following her own ambitions. But her own ambitions will not stop calling her until she follows them. Find the balance, because at the end of day—or at the end of life, really—you need to know that you did what you came here to do. And that you didn’t give it up for love, nor did you give up love to do it.
This 2-post begins here: Love vs. Gold
December 21, 2013 to January 31, 2014
Would you pretend to like or even love somebody for their money or their earning power? How would you explain that to your conscience?
Would you pretend to love a job because it pays you more than another job that makes your heart sing? How much “team spirit” can you raise for a well-paying job you secretly hate?
And how much self-worth are you willing to give up for money, power or status?
These are heavy questions, and Venus, which has just turned retrograde in Capricorn, is asking them right now.
Venus Retrograde in Capricorn
Venus is the astrological ruler of love, attraction, magnetism and relationships, both romantic and generically social. Capricorn, a Cardinal (driven and motivated) Earth (pragmatic and worldly) sign is goal-oriented, materialistic, practical, and willing to experience less in the present so that more is available in the future. Venus in Capricorn in a natal chart signals someone who may mistake worldly symbols of affection for the real thing. When Venus turns retrograde in the sky, she takes us on a six-week journey to discover the true meaning of love. In Capricorn, that meaning may be tied to worldly values.
What’s your price?
In the movie Indecent Proposal, the lead female character is asked to prostitute herself for a million dollars. It’s the kind of movie plot that’s bound to lead to a let-down, because part of you wants her to say no, and value her marriage more highly than that million dollars, while part of you wants her to take the money and bring it into her marriage, with the chance of having it all. But that is fraught, because both choices bring hidden costs. Either way, whatever she decides, you-the-viewer are going to wonder, “what if she’d done the other thing?” Almost any plot-line is doomed to disappoint, because our culture doesn’t have a myth about money and love coming together naturally.
They say everyone has a price. During Venus Retrograde in Capricorn, you might well ask, “what’s yours?” Would you rather love or gold and why? And what makes you think you can be so clever as to have both. . . with no cost?
In the next few weeks. . .
While Venus is traveling retrograde in Capricorn, I’ll examine some well-known stories about the balance between love and gold, beginning in the next post with a woman who got distracted by gold—and what it cost her.
This year Neptune goes retrograde on June 7, 2013
“Wake up!” says Neptune. “Recently I showed you that there is more to your life than what can be experienced with the physical senses. I demanded that you look deeper. Now I’m telling you again: it’s time to re-dream your life.”
Today Is A Pivotal Day
When a planet turns retrograde it makes a pivot in the sky and also creates a metaphorically “pivotal” experience for human beings. Today (June 7, 2013), that planet is Neptune. It’s as if Neptune is telling us, “You can’t go on avoiding this change forever. Today I’m delivering a wake-up call.”
February 18, 2013
“Wake up!” says Saturn. “I gave you a chance to see your responsibility recently. Now I’m telling you again: this is a time of testing.”
Today is a Pivotal Day
When a planet turns retrograde it makes a pivot in the sky and also creates a metaphorically “pivotal” experience for human beings.
Today, that planet is Saturn. It’s as if Saturn is telling us, “You can’t go on avoiding responsibility forever. I’m delivering a wake-up call.”
Jupiter went direct last week on January 30. It does this every year and when it does, we Earthlings tend to feel a sense of adventure swelling in our hearts. Jupiter brings good things, and, after several months in retrograde, he’s on the move again.
Jolly Jupiter has spent the months since October 4 traveling backwards. Now he turns his face forward and re-covers the same ground. Why should you care? If he’s passing through a zone where you have a planet in your natal chart, he’s been bringing you growth and confidence this year. And he’s not done yet.
Uranus goes direct today, as it does every year. If you feel that things have descended into chaos in the last few months, change is afoot and clarity may be right around the corner. . . (read about it)
Jupiter’s yearly pivot from direct (forwards-moving) to retrograde (backwards-moving) begins tomorrow. Calling all Geminis, Virgos, Sagittarians and Pisceans born between If you were born in the following date-spans, you can expect a period of growth and expansion this year, which has already begun:
Gemini: born May 27 through June 6
Virgo: born August 29 through September 8
Sagittarius: born November 28 through December 8
Pisces: born February 24 through March 6
This period of expansion is likely to feel pretty good and to fill you with self-confidence. Enjoy it!
Here’s more: Jupiter Retrograde 2012
The last time Saturn changed signs, I wrote about it here in the Pandora blog. That was in July of 2010. Now Saturn is finishing up the tail-end of Libra (his favorite sign to occupy) and entering the dark, mysterious regions of Scorpio, to travel there from Oct 5, 2012 to Sept 17, 2015. How might this sojourn feel to us here on Earth?
Saturn is the Father-Figure, the Adult, the Elder. He’s the archetypal symbol of Authority. When you feel that you must take things seriously, must be responsible, have to grow up, that voice of the Inner Judge pricking your conscience is Saturn. The sign Saturn is in will affect how that Inner Judge behaves, and what he’s preoccupied with. He’s now turning his attention to Scorpionic things.
Saturn in Scorpio will demand that we face our demons, our obsessions, our addictions and wrestle them to the ground. Saturn will demand that we gain control over the uncontrollable, and that we shape and mold it into something that helps us, rather than sabotaging us. Saturn in Scorpio plays with power. This is heady stuff and it reminds me of the story of the sorcerer’s apprentice. It’s from a poem by Goethe (read it here with a good English translation alongside) and you may remember the Disney version*, featuring Mickey Mouse as the apprentice who is tired of fetching water. While the sorcerer is out, he casts a spell he heard which causes the broom to animate and fetch water for him. The broom fetches water and fetches water until the apprentice wants it to stop—but has forgotten how to break the spell. The apprentice then attempts to destroy the broom, but succeeds only in breaking it into pieces, each of which springs to life and proceeds to fetch water until the house is in a flood. The terrified apprentice cries out for his master as if to God. When the sorcerer returns, he is angry, but undoes the spell with a word and doesn’t punish the apprentice too harshly, because the apprentice is already terrified enough of the power he wielded and how easily it went entirely out of control. The apprentice thus learns important lessons about power and maturity. In Scorpio, Saturn’s smackdown is swift and hard.
Here are some ways this could show up in human lives, so watch for them in the news:
- dreams of power and glory become overblown and lead to ruin
- investments, using the power of financial leverage, fail and destroy the lives of many people beyond the one who actually made the investment
- somebody abuses their political position sexually or otherwise
- trust is breached, secure or confidential documents get released
- corruption is revealed. . . and who knows what more might happen?
Do you have things to learn about power and how to wield it maturely, in full awareness of what you are doing? If so, Saturn may bring these things up in the next two-and-a-half years. And if you feel you are alone in this, please know you are not—we’re all in it together, experiencing our own version of it.
Birthday Gift for you:
If your birthday is approaching or recent
and you want an empowering look at the year ahead, click to
schedule a Birthday Reading and receive a free gift with it.
* Because Disney will periodically purge YouTube videos of their works, this link may not lead you anywhere, but new copies are popping up all the time, so just search YouTube for “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and you will no doubt find it. Then you can enjoy this timeless classic, featuring Mickey Mouse and a whole lot of brooms!
“Wake up!” says Uranus. “Are you facing chaos? Lately I’ve turned your life upside down. This year I’m making you an amazing offer: to not only restore the order you used to experience, but to shift your life in a global way so that the problems you used to experience—the ones that led to this chaos—are not even relevant anymore.”
Today Is A Pivotal Day
When a planet turns retrograde it makes a pivot in the sky and also creates a metaphorically “pivotal” experience for human beings. Today, that planet is Uranus. It’s as if Uranus is telling us, “You can’t go on avoiding this change forever. Today I’m delivering a wake-up call.” If Uranus is touching a planet in your chart this year, this message is for you and it will have very specific meaning, depending on what planet that is. That planet, and the part of you it represents, is in a massive uproar. It’s time for a shift to a whole new level. Today is the peak of Uranus’s wake-up call, but it could happen anytime within 5 days surrounding today.
Initiation Leading To An Inner Journey
Sometime between March and now, Uranus showed us an area of life in which we are due for a change. What he delivered was an initiation and it was our first chance to catch a clue about paradigm shift to come. That clue may have been obvious or it may have been subtle, but we’ve been shown an area of life in which something new and startling is possible.
The clue was delivered, but did we notice? It’s human to go into denial. As spring proceeded, we may have said to ourselves, “Maybe I don’t have to do anything about this. Maybe it was just a one-time thing. Maybe I can just move on. Maybe I can get away without paying attention to this.”
Or maybe not. Today Uranus turns up the volume and gives us a reminder. “That big change you’re due for?” he says, “It’s crucial. And I’m putting it right in your face until you do something about it.” Today, Uranus’ retrograde journey begins and with it begins a period of soul-searching during which we must reflect upon and seek to understand the massive shift we feel coming. Uranus will continue moving retrograde (i.e. backwards) until the day it turns direct, which is December 13, 2012.
Every Breakthrough Begins With A Breakdown
Uranus teaches us a fundamental truth: a fresh, more inclusive order only comes after a chaotic mess. A transit of Uranus is accompanied by a restlessness that causes you to want to dash it all to pieces. You don’t actually have to destroy everything you’ve built in order to shift to the next level, but you may have to tolerate some uncomfortable mess as you search for the new frame to put it all into.
Uranus brings the “Eureka!” or the “Aha.” From Uranus comes that moment of insight, that lightning-bolt-from-the-blue that disrupts your normal everyday assumptions and introduces an idea so new, so crazy, so startling that it just might work. The best response to a Uranian insight is to open your mind up and engage in a search for a new frame, a new context, a new order in which all the old pieces make sense, and the new ones also fit. Uranus turns your head around—that’s what he’s for.
Is This Story Your Story?
If this feels true for you, it may be that you are personally touched by this transit. Uranus may be triggering a planet in your own chart, thus bringing these themes up for you. This year Uranus is covering the space between 4 and 8 degrees of Aries. If there is anything in your chart in 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 degrees of Aries, Cancer, Libra or Capricorn, you will feel this. And knowing it can help a lot if you’ve been feeling surrounded by chaos and you don’t know why. If Uranus has touched you this year, this could be the year when you finally liberate yourself from old, self-entrapping ways and instead bust out into a whole new way of being.
What Area Of Your Life Is Being Affected?
Good question. It will have to do with the planet in your chart that’s being triggered by Uranus. If Uranus is affecting your Venus, you may find yourself feeling restless and wanting more in your relationships. You don’t have to destroy all your relationships to satisfy that restlessness, but you do need to shift them to a whole new level now. If Uranus is affecting your Mercury, you’re getting more crazy, paradigm-shifting new ideas these days than you usually do—use this time of genius for your long-term benefit. And if you are between 39 and 42 right now, this could be a year that calls forth your genius and the tremendous restlessness that goes with that, demanding that you live into your potential once and for all.
The promise of Uranian chaos is that it leads to a new order. Uranus doesn’t really want to leave you in a chaotic mess for the rest of your life—and if he ever has, you’ve not responded to the situation with your true power. The mess Uranus causes is only a temporary state—although a necessary one—on the way to something much bigger and better. Sure the ride is messy, but what does that matter? Isn’t being the most amazing you possible worth a little chaos?
Want to know more about how this Uranus transit affects you?
Contact Jamie at email@example.com
to schedule a reading.
Our old friend Pluto has turned direct this week (on Friday, September 13, 2011, to be exact) and he’s bringing to a close this year’s underworld journey. What follows is a repost from last year, with dates updated for 2011.
Yup, Pluto is showing up, right on schedule, to take out the garbage. Today Pluto turns direct, ending his yearly backwards journey. Pluto has traveled several degrees backwards and today turns his face forwards again. He will now retrace forwards the same steps he made backwards during the last few months, bringing a death-and-rebirth experience for everyone who is having a Pluto transit this year.
This Is A Pivotal Day
If you are one of the millions of people having a Pluto transit this year, today may be pivotal for you. Around April 9, you came to realize you were facing a big life-change and since then, you’ve been re-evaluating some the area of your life that’s changing. You’ve been examining it and mulling it over. Perhaps you’ve been researching it. Basically, you’ve been asking yourself, “What is this part of me that wants to transform right now? How have I lived this part of me in the past and what is it turning into for the future?”
This week you’ll experience a pivotal day. It may be that you realize your internal quest for understanding is over. You’ve come to clarity. You’ve recognized the change that needs to occur and you’re ready to implement what you’ve learned. You can now gear up to act on that recognition, sometime in the next few months (between now and January of 2012).
“What is a Pluto transit like . . .”
A Pluto transit is distinct, because it feels like dying. You may feel at times as if you are in meltdown and you don’t know what you are doing in the area of life (i.e. planet in your chart) that’s being affected. Pluto is asking you to let go in this area, to let something die so that it can be reborn. Pluto is asking you to search underneath the surface for the essence of this part of you. And Pluto is demanding that you let go of the old ways, so the new ways can emerge, regardless of how uncomfortable (sometimes very uncomfortable!) that might be.
“. . . and how do I know when I’m having one?”
First of all, you know by feel. If what I’ve described resonates for you, it’s likely you are having a Pluto transit. (If it resonates, but only a little, you may be having a transit, but by a planet other than Pluto.) Transits are almost always accompanied by real-world events, which are woven into your experience of the change. Transits feel distinct when they are happening, and the sensation distinctly fades as they end. When a transit is over, your preoccupation with its themes quickly fades as your attention becomes grabbed by a different transit. Occasionally a person will have no major transits at all for a time period (weeks, say, or months), but that’s pretty rare.
If you don’t have your chart, or don’t know how to read your chart, you might want to order your own personal Astrology Chart Decoder. This is a special tool I’ve invented that puts your chart’s details in English, instead of astrology symbols. Your Decoder tells you where every planet in your chart is located: the sign it’s in, the house it’s in and the exact degree it occupies. When you’ve got your Decoder in front of you, check to see if you have anything at all in 4, 5, 6 or 7 degrees of Capricorn, Cancer, Aries or Libra. If you do, you are definitely having a Pluto transit this year. This would account for the feelings of meltdown.
“What do I do now?”
You can ponder on it and get into alignment with the change that’s happening. This way you can take advantage of it while it’s happening, and not feel like a victim of it. Transits are not fatalistic events that happen to us—they are our greater Selves reaching out into life and drawing toward us the events and experiences that will help (or force) us to grow beyond our old selves. These changes are always the next thing you wanted to experience at the time and the more you regard them with appreciation, awe and a willingness to take them on, the better your experience will be. Even at the 11th hour, you can turn around even the harshest transit into something that leaves you in a better place.
For more insight on a transit, you can schedule a reading of it, which will help you get very clear about what this change is that’s happening in your life, how to handle it and make it turn out well, how long it will last, how various phases of it will feel and (not least!) when it will be over. You might have several changes going on at once and if you do, this could help distinguish one from another. The best thing you can get out of a reading is how to align with the deeper meaning behind the surface of your changes and accept the gift Pluto is bringing you.
Pluto’s gift changes according to the planet it is transiting of course, but one theme always remains the same. Pluto offers the knowledge of essence—the heart, the center of this piece of you, its essential nature. Pluto does this by stripping away all that is not essential and shows you that you will be ok without all that stuff. Pluto says, “you don’t need that garbage!” and takes it away before you are ready because, left to our own devices, we’re never ready. That’s ok—Pluto will always show up eventually, to take out the garbage.