Mercury Retrograde: A Special Report from Planet Waves

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Mercury Retrograde: A Special Report from Planet Waves

Welcome to the Electric Tide, the Mercury Retrograde Special Report. The retrograde that goes from Sept. 7 through Sept. 23 has a few distinct properties that are an incentive for awareness, excitement and astrological study. Mercury is doing a lot of talking to Saturn, Uranus and Pluto — the three big players who dominate the astrology of 2012. Mercury also shifts back and forth over the Virgo-Libra line, activating the Aries Point (which is pretty hot these days, as it is).

Dear Friend and Client:

Welcome to the Electric Tide, the Mercury Retrograde Special Report. The retrograde that goes from Sept. 7 through Sept. 23 has a few distinct properties that are an incentive for awareness, excitement and astrological study. Mercury is doing a lot of talking to Saturn, Uranus and Pluto — the three big players who dominate the astrology of 2012. Mercury also shifts back and forth over the Virgo-Libra line, activating the Aries Point (which is pretty hot these days, as it is).

Planet Waves
Photo by Elizabeth Joyce.

This report is in several sections, which are linked here. First is the lead essay, The Electric Tide, which provides an overview of how all Mercury retrogrades work, and in particular this one. I’ve offered a scientific theory on how the effect gets the results that it does. Then there’s an Expert Guide, which gives key dates in the cycle and the charts for Mercury stationing retrograde and direct. Next is an article called, What do I Do If…, which describes how to handle certain scenarios you might encounter during a Mercury retrograde, particularly involving contracts and commitments. Then is an article called How To Talk About Sex. I’ve included this because a series of Mercury-Pluto contacts makes this conversation inevitable, and we do need some ideas about how to get it started. Last there is a 12-sign horoscope that applies to your Sun, Moon and Rising signs. There is a short introduction above the horoscope which tells a bit about how that horoscope works.

In all my experience with Mercury retrograde — I’ve covered as a journalist and advised personal and business clients through approximately 40 of these events — here is how I would sum it up: If you think it’s broke, it’s probably not. Things do seem to go out of order a bit more, but most of the time, the problem is not what you think, and it’s not as bad as you think. Therefore, less intervention is usually better because when you fix something that ain’t broke…well, you get the idea. The whole concept of “don’t sign, don’t buy” can easily be translated to: you don’t need to spend so much money. Buy what you need and a little of what you want; save big purchases for another time. They can usually wait. If you “have to” buy a car because your lease runs out right in the middle of the retrograde, hire an astrologer to help you do a chart for when to sign the new contract.

What we really need to be aware of is the whole realm of interpersonal communications. Double check everything. If you don’t get a reply to an important email, call the person up. Notice how many assumptions you make about what other people think or feel, and consider getting their real opinion. It might really matter.

That about sums it up; here is the long version: The Electric Tide, dedicated to my first astrologer, Flo Higgins.

Love & lovingly,

Eric Francis

The Electric Tide

Dear Friend and Client:

Here is the question everyone has asked at least once: how exactly do you not get your ass kicked by Mercury retrograde?

Planet Waves
Cloud-to-ground lightning over Pentagon City in Arlington, Virginia. Photo: Wikipedia.

Here’s a better question: how do we use these phases, which come dependably three times a year, to spark our creativity, solve problems and improve communication with the people around us? In other words, having the benefit of honoring astrology, how do we get it to work for us??

The answer, if you can call it an answer, requires us to do what nearly every message in our society is telling us to avoid: slow down, use your senses, be more thoughtful, and put an emphasis on completing things rather than beginning them. Switch to decaf at 3.

If Mercury is the planet that speaks, Mercury retrograde is the planet that listens, and invites us to listen. If Mercury is the god who can fly, turning that retrograde is inviting us to come in for a landing.

Every Mercury retrograde is different; the one that’s coming up is impressively so, with Mercury passing through the long-standing Saturn-Uranus opposition, as well as making a series of aspects to Pluto in early Capricorn. The Aries Point is involved, which is an alert to pay attention to big news that affects us personally, and personal news that feels a tad bigger than life.

The coming retrograde is going to shift things, and shift them a lot. More than Mercury is involved in the process this time around. If we think of the experience as a dialog between Mercury and the other planets, we have a conversation with some of the biggest players of all: the gods of change. Mercury will also be dancing back and forth between Virgo and Libra, which tells us that the two most significant things we can be changing are our minds and our perceptions — particularly our perceptions of ourselves and our relationships.

Most people would say this is the most difficult thing of all you can try to do. People spend years in therapy attempting to make changes of this kind. They rarely work; but most people don’t stick with the process and most therapists have a lot to learn that few others seem to be teaching. Maybe this is why so many people find Mercury retrograde so difficult. It’s little wonder that we need it three times a year to make any progress at all.

What Actually Happens…

Planet Waves
Mercury’s surface looks similar to our Moon’s. Each is heavily cratered and made of rock. Photo: APOD.

Astrology is based on astronomy. To start with, when Mercury is retrograde, a planet, namely Mercury (the one closest to the Sun), passes between the Earth and the Sun. Mercury’s orbit is shorter than the Earth’s — 88 days as opposed to 365-1/4 days. So three times a year, Mercury comes blowing by. Mercury is an enormous magnet, mostly composed of a huge iron core, so we get a surge of magnetic energy blowing by.

Though this has, to my knowledge, never been established by science, a huge magnet going by is going to affect the Earth’s magnetic field. Nothing has no effect. We’re not talking about nothing here. And it’s going to affect the magnetic field of a human being as well as a planet.

Magnetism and electricity are directly related; they are so close as to be the same thing. The human nervous system works on electrical impulses; literally, on electricity. Therefore, this is going to influence us, just like the Moon affects the Earth’s tides. Think of this as the electrical tide, which influences our thoughts, feelings, perception and memory — and all of these gadgets we take into our aura, from iPhones to regular phones to our computers and cars and, well, other people.

To my knowledge, never in the history of civilization have we lived immersed in so many electrical fields, covered by an electrical grid and soaked in radio waves, microwaves and light pollution. So there are really three players in this equation: us, gadget/radiation haze that surrounds us, and a hefty magnet that people thousands of years ago figured out was associated with communication.

The Echo Phase into the Turnaround Phase

Like nearly all things in astrology and in our lives, Mercury goes through a series of phases on the way into and out of being retrograde. The phases represent subtle or not so subtle shifts in awareness, circumstances or information coming to the surface. Usually they are obvious enough that you can actually feel them happen, and associated specific conditions with the aspects as they change. As of Monday, Aug. 17, we began what’s called the echo phase (sometimes referred to as shadow phase). Technically, this is when Mercury enters the part of the zodiac where it will be retrograde in a matter of weeks. This is the warm-up, when we need to be making preparations for what will inevitably (and somewhat unpredictably) follow.

Planet Waves
Photo: Wikipedia.

The echo phase is the time to mend your fishing nets, back up your disk drives, maintain your equipment and work out disagreements with people before they blow out of proportion. To that end, make sure there’s a fresh battery in your Pocket Rocket. Virgo is the sign that rules doubt. Therefore, use the opportunity of Mercury in its home sign to uncover and resolve your doubts, or at least a few of the nagging ones. (And as Mercury moves into Libra in a few days, we will be able to translate them into relational terms more easily.)

The beginning of the echo phase coincided with a Mercury-Saturn conjunction in Virgo. And Mercury is about to oppose Uranus in Pisces. In other words, Mercury is passing through the slow-moving Saturn-Uranus opposition that we’ve covered extensively on Planet Waves. There will be two more of these passes, around Sept. 22 (during the retrograde) and again on Oct. 8 (on the way out). We might not notice the monumental changes associated with Saturn-Uranus if not for the planet of the mind getting right in there and telling us what’s going on.

The next phase is the turnaround, which is also called the storm phase. This is in effect between approximately Sept. 3 and Sept 10 — a week during which Mercury (from our viewpoint on Earth) slows down, stops, changes direction and picks up speed retrograde. Note, the turnaround (or station-retrograde) happens in Libra. It’s about finding balance in the midst of change — which is the story of our lives.

The Retrograde Phase

The actual retrograde spans from Sept. 7 through Sept 29. Those are the actual days that Mercury appears to be moving backwards. Treat this phase as if it’s a world apart; a bubble in the deeps of time. In a sense, what happens there stays there. That’s why you don’t want to initiate projects during this phase; it’s the time to complete things that you want to be settled and resolved.

From much experience, I can tell you that you can safely slow way down spending money, making commitments or starting projects. It is possible; obviously plenty of things begun during Mercury retrograde still exist. Yet there is plenty of frustration and failure in the world, and we often wonder why that is so.

Planet Waves
The Magus, The Tarot of Aleister Crowley. The Magus is a representation of Mercury and many related gods, such as Thoth.

Consider the retrograde a review. This is going to be a pretty comprehensive review, given how many other planets Mercury makes contact with: again, Saturn, Uranus, Pluto and others. Mars is also in the mix.

Virgo doesn’t just see the details, it sees them in a critical way. And often that critical really means self-critical. We have a lot to learn about how to be self-critical in an effective way, not the obsessive, nitpicky verging-in-psychiatric way that we tend to do it.

With any retrograde, we emphasize the past, and issues and conversations that relate to Mercury’s current placement or indeed anything can come up; we need to work them out as gently as we humanly can.

Retrogrades emphasize introspection. This is about getting to know yourself. The Libra piece is about getting to know yourself in relationships. There is the relationship and there is how you respond to it; the circumstance. Astrology is less about circumstances. It’s more about self-knowledge. That comes along with circumstances; but the circumstances are secondary.

During this retrograde, Mercury is warming up the Virgo-Libra cusp where Saturn will soon arrive (on Oct. 29). Mercury is running vanguard for his great friend Saturn, helping us make some changes in our minds, and scope out the more permanent changes that will arrive in the next season.

Involved in this is Pluto. Mercury makes three squares from Libra to Pluto in Capricorn. Pluto together with Mercury is all about understanding your motives. There is something deeply psychological here. Pluto always is, and now we are adding the energy of consciousness. The relationship is a square, which is an internal question that precipitates outer events; it’s preparation for when Saturn shows up in the same spot in about two months from now and squares Pluto — the first Saturn to Pluto quadrature aspect (90-degree based) since the rather eventful summer of 2001.

The Retrograde Works Out

After the retrograde, Mercury covers in forward motion the same ground that it covered in reverse during the past 23 days. Note that when something happens three times in relationship to Mercury retrograde, it happens once during the first echo, once during the retrograde and again during the second echo. This is Mercury covering the same degrees of the zodiac three times. All planets do this when they’re retrograde, but to my knowledge none covers as many degrees as Mercury, and none changes speed as quickly as Mercury.

Planet Waves
Element mercury (Hg), liquid form. The element Mercury is associated with things that are difficult to grasp, fast, slippery, or have odd properties (such as being a liquid metal). Photo: Wikipedia.

Just as Mercury reaches the end of the retrograde, it slows down, stops and turns around. This is another special moment of its own, the second ‘storm’ phase. These turnaround or storm phases surround the station direct or retrograde, and they are clearly the most sensitive times to watch; the times to be on high Mercury alert. Particularly during the storm phases, don’t make assumptions. If someone does not answer an email, don’t assume they hate you; write to them again, or pick up the phone. Relationships lived by text message can be stressful and there is a wide margin of error.

Once the station-direct happens on Sept. 29, we are in the second echo phase until Oct. 14, when Mercury enters new territory for the first time since the first echo phase began. This is like a third chance to work out the same issues, address the same themes and explore the same ideas. It’s like the last layer in the process; perhaps the bottom layer, perhaps the top layer.

A Few Ideas to Remember

We are in a moment before the precipitation of fast events. During the retrograde, the Libra ingress of the Sun happens (that is, the equinox, or beginning of Northern Hemisphere autumn), and it makes a square to Pluto. Saturn is getting ready to change signs and change Pluto. Many other events can be described as precipitating or causing a cascade. It’s important to keep your thought process positive.

If you set aside the future and focus on the healing process, you will make a lot more progress than if you push an agenda.

Work for closure, in small things and big ones.

Part of this process is about untangling the difficulties in advance of the big transits that come in October and November.

It’s crucial to understand the difference between sensitive versus obsessive. One way or the other — Pluto versus Mercury. With this kind of astrology, it’s necessary or at least very helpful to cultivate patience with yourself and with others.

This is happening in a time when everything else is happening really quickly, that is to say, when we are surrounded and confronted by constant change. The question is, what exactly is happening? What exactly is changing??

Yours & truly,

Eric Francis

The Electric Tide: A Mercury Retrograde Report

For those who do the laundry, gardening or purchase airplanes following the schedule of Mercury Retrograde — or Saturn changing signs.

I’ll say here one more time that the forthcoming Mercury retrograde is actually a warm-up for Saturn changing signs to Libra. Mercury is dancing back and forth over the Virgo-Libra cusp, making a series of squares to Pluto and waking up the seemingly-dormant Saturn-Uranus. The dates of these events are included in the schedule below, calculated by and by Eric using Time Cycles Research software.

Planet Waves
Click on image to enlarge.

Note that the whole setup of the slow-moving planets already has us in the dynamic of the Saturn-Uranus-Pluto t-square that defines the run-up to 2012. For more information about the big astrology on the way to 2012, check the Planet Waves article The Road to Xibalba.

17 August – 23:20:15 UT – Mercury shadow or echo began (21 Virgo 36’37”). Mercury is conjunct Saturn at the time.

25 August – Mercury enters Libra and is square Mars and Pluto.

4 September – Pisces Full Moon, 16:03 UT or 4.:02 pm Eastern Time.

7 September – 04:44:51 UT – Mercury stations retrograde (6 Libra 13’15”). This is surrounded by the Mercury storm or turnaround phase by about three days on either side.

15 September – Saturn opposite Uranus, second exact contact. The next is April 26, 2010, then after that July 26, 2010. Then we don’t hear from this one again till 2056.

17 September – Mercury re-enters Virgo in retrograde motion, square Pluto. The Sun is exactly conjunct Saturn and the Moon is in Virgo.

18 September- Virgo New Moon, 18:44 UT or 2:44 pm Eastern Time.

Planet Waves
Click on image to enlarge.

23 September – Mercury opposite Uranus. Mercury moves to north declination, that is, it crosses its own North Node. Autumn Equinox. Mercury is actually in a tight configuration with Pallas and Saturn in Virgo, opposite Juno and Uranus in Pisces.

29 September – 13:13:29 UT – Mercury stations direct (21 Virgo 36’37”). This is surrounded by the storm or turnaround by about three days on either side.

9 October – Mercury re-enters Libra in direct motion and squares Pluto.

14 October – 06:49:49 UT – Mercury shadow ends (6 Libra 13’16”). Mercury now enters new territory for the first time since the retrograde began.

29 October – Saturn enters Libra for the first time since it entered Sept. 21, 1980 or left Libra Aug. 24, 1983, i.e., during the transition into the Reagan administration.

15 November – Saturn square Pluto, first of several contacts of this rare aspect that takes us into 2012. Moon conjunct Venus in Scorpio at the same moment. Mercury is in Scorpio, too. It’s a Scorpionic moment of the ages.

What do I do if...?
One of the recurring questions I get as an astrologer is, what do I do if I have to make a decision or purchase or important move while Mercury is retrograde? Here’s a question that came in this morning, typical of the genre:

I am about to get laid off from my job. I won’t go into the details, but I’ve worked for this company for 8 years, I’m pretty good at reading the signs. (They’re firing old timers like me so they can bring in newbies for lower salaries.) I think the axe is going to fall right after Labor Day, when all the employees come back from the holiday. I am 90% sure I am next to go. So if they can me, it means I will have to conduct a job search during Mercury Retrograde! I have no choice, I don’t have a lot of savings and I need to get a new job ASAP. But I know that starting new things, like jobs, during a retrograde is not such a hot idea.

Planet Waves
Help Wanted!

There are a few layers to the answer. Astrology is all about time and timing. If you have something really serious, interesting or with a lot of potential going on, that’s the time to hire an astrologer to work out the details with you, and to help you find the silver lining. What an astrologer would do is create a chart for whatever it is that needs to happen. Sometimes you just cannot wait. Most of the time you can; but there are those rare few instances.

Short of working with an astrologer, think logically, and astrologically. Mercury is not retrograde for that long. The station direct is Sept. 29. If the reader expects to be laid off the first week of September, he would be unlikely to find a new job within two weeks; that would be a warm-up to a basic search. It’s important to not make what you want to be a “final commitment” before Mercury is about to change directions. In my experience, most of what happens during the retrograde is wiped clean after the station direct. Most things — not everything. It would be a good test of what has sticking power.

The reason not to make commitments during Mercury retrograde is not because “you’re not supposed to” but rather because, in general, it saves time to wait. By saves time, I mean you could save yourself a year of misdirected effort by pausing for a couple of weeks.

Part of what Mercury changing directions is about is that the truth comes out. It’s like shaking the tree of the mind and some extra nuggets tumble down. Whatever shows up is usually important or at least meaningful information. And this is information you will benefit from working with. But you can’t do that if you don’t know what it is; and that takes patience and some skill at observation.

Remember that the three days on either side of the station (retrograde or direct) are the most turbulent and unpredictable. Those are the most meaningful days to pause, no matter how urgent the situation is. If your boss is pushing you, either delay, or plan to redo what you’re doing. The astro-logic to this is simple to follow: a highly influential, close-to-home planet like Mercury, so intimately connected to our mental environment, changes direction; it’s like it changes its mind, or thinks in a different way. So part of what we’re doing is working with that current and arranging life consciously so that it works better.

Planet Waves
The Columbia Supercomputer at NASA’s Advanced Supercomputing Facility. Photo: Wikipedia.

This is a little like checking the tidal chart before you try to enter a harbor in your boat; if you enter while the tide is going out, it might take you hours to go a mile.

There are times when we have to make a move, decision or purchase with Mercury retrograde. That’s the time to read the fine print; get the service plan; and be ready with Plan B. At least you can say that things tend to work out differently under this influence; they are subject to change and reassessment; and you need to be prepared. For that, you merely need to remain open and flexible and have extra patience.

One of the most common phenomena I’ve noticed with Mercury retrograde is thinking something is wrong when it’s not. Mercury is a trickster, which amounts to tricky. Go for minimal solutions, and if you have to delay or work on a ‘partial system’ that’s usually advantageous. Part of the trickiness is knowing what problem you’re trying to solve. Often there is no problem, life is just acting like there is one. Other times there’s a twist. Such as, you’re working on one issue and you run into a problem but you don’t know you’re dealing with an entirely different thing at the same time — such as a loose cable.

Watch out for these things. When all else fails break out the scientific method of hypothesis – design experiment – conduct experiment – note conclusion – repeat to make sure you got it right the first time or two. In short, use your mind, and remember that not everything has to happen today.

How to talk about sex. Or how not to.

By Eric Francis

One problem with talking about sex is how much we have not said. Another problem is guilt. They are related. More than Jews and Italians are involved, but hey, that’s why we make such great therapists. We originated the product and therefore we provide the best technical support to its many consumers.

Planet Waves
Photo by Eric Francis / Blue Studio.

Then there’s embarrassment, which is sometimes like a sheet thrown over the hungry ghost of shame and self-reproach. Embarrassment is dangerous. It keeps us out of therapy, it makes lying seem justified, it keeps us in unhealthy situations and follows us around like a pall over our existence.
It’s also one of the hottest sex toys not made of silicone; that, a little later in this article.

The hungry ghost of shame is projected into society as something called ‘scandal’. Scandal is one of the most effective forms of sexual repression. Scandals are popular, and they are, because they create a drama that preoccupies us temporarily, and prevents us from dealing with how we actually feel about sex or getting our emotional needs met. For a minute, somebody else gets to take the brunt of the guilt. Someone else acts out the shame of the affair that you had or are having; this way you think you don’t have to. Gossip is insidious because it’s such a diversion from our own personal reality.

How do we actually feel about sex? Does anybody even have a clue? Or are we so afraid of scandal that we dare not reveal anything, even to ourselves? And in such a world, how do you tell the absolute truth?

You just talk. And you listen. Then keep doing that until, eventually, you reach an understanding or you realize you’ve reached the next best thing, an impasse.

Yes, we all have a lot to hide. That’s the whole point. Would it be possible to grant amnesty before any conversation where honesty is agreed to, and plan to still love one another, no matter what is learned? Anything is possible. More likely, you agree to let the chips fall. Then you can have a conversation that may tack between beautiful, loving, heavy, informative, angry, tearful and lusty.

Introduction to the Electric Tide Horoscope

This horoscope is my take on the theme of the retrograde for each of the Sun signs. I suggest you read your Moon and in particular your ascendant. The solar house system is based on using the position of the Sun as the ascendant; therefore, if you know your rising sign, it will be all the more accurate.

At the moment, planets are beginning to gather around the Cardinal Points, which is to say, aspecting the Aries Point. In particular, the current activity is on the Virgo-Libra line. Mercury at that point makes a series of square aspects to Pluto in Capricorn. That’s the main configuration that I’ve looked at. For those of you who study house cusps, here is a quick breakdown of where Mercury will be: Aries (6th/7th house cusp), Taurus (5th/6th house cusp), Gemini (4th/5th house cusp), Cancer (3rd/4th house cusp), Leo (2nd/3rd house cusp), Virgo (1st/2nd house cusp), Libra (12th/1st house cusp), Scorpio (11th/12th house cusp), Sagittarius (10th/11th house cusp), Capricorn (9th/10th house cusp), Aquarius (8th/9th house cusp), and Pisces (7th/8th house cusp). The cusp is where we transition from the theme of one house to the other. If you want to know what the houses mean, here is a key.

Planet Waves

Aries (March 20-April 19)

Gradually, an ethic is building which is guiding us toward an understanding that relationships are about healing. In truth they need to be, because anything that might need attention in the emotional, spiritual or psychic realm is going to come to the surface in our relationships. And that’s usually the last place we want it to come up, and based on our culture’s values, the last place we can get results. That is, until we both set our intentions and do the necessary emotional and communication work. I think it is possible to set that work aside, but we all know that sooner or later it comes due, usually at the point of a breakup. I suggest we go into our relationships willing to support them with our integrity, and utilizing them as an opportunity to build our integrity. This thought is more revolutionary than you may think; and when we invoke it, it can feel like we have to put out 10 times the effort for far less of the good stuff. I suggest you make the investment now. You can do so gently, knowing that the one variable that’s the most significant for you is whether to expand or contract your awareness. The truth is, you have plenty to talk about and so does someone close to you. This is an opportunity for you, and a chance to do something worthwhile for someone you love.

Planet Waves

Taurus (April 19- May 20)

Have you considered that what you’re encountering is your sexuality? Or rather, that this is where the most valuable information you need resides? Taurus is supposed to have this one all tied up, but that’s precisely the issue: you would benefit from some unraveling. One approach is to go right for the knot. Or you can take a more circumspect route. Someone has been determined to get your attention; you’ve certainly been asking for attention for a while, and that is a form of willingness. It would help if you made some of the moves; start the dialog; reveal something about yourself and investigate the truth of someone you want to have an influence on you. Taurus is famous for its passivity, but now is the time to ask yourself: are you a cow, or are you a bull? Truth be told, you have a strong constitution and potent vitality. The Sun and Mercury in your fellow Earth sign Virgo are lighting up your chart. All that could hang you up is your mind, as you tend to get so caught in certain details, beliefs and mental rituals that you lose most of the power that your psyche would feed you with. There is astrological evidence that this was, in the first instance, done to you. Whether you perpetuate or resolve it seems to be a matter of choice, but in truth it’s a matter of integrity.

Planet Waves

Gemini (May 20- June 21)

The lesson of this time in your life is to think your thoughts, feel your feelings and live your commitments. If your commitments are not working, living them begins with the process of adjusting them. Adjust means to make just. Your sense of fairness is compromised by an inner dialog that pits you against yourself; it’s difficult to have any sense of justice if your relationship with yourself is based on contention. It would seem that lately the thing you hold against yourself is how powerful everyone else seems to be. I suggest you get beneath this one. Notice the agendas that people have; they will talk about them at least once, before returning to their usual ruse. To succeed in that kind of environment, you need to know your own agenda. You have one, and the truth is you may need a different one; or a significant refinement. Once you start this project it tends to require care and focus every day: what do I want to get done, and why? What necessities am I being confronted with, and why? If you look you will see that most people proceed under the color of ‘taking care of business’ but in general work with a deeper set of goals that are designed to be emotionally self-serving but usually backfire. This is precisely the error you can correct now.

Planet Waves

Cancer (June 21- July 22)

Relationships remain high on the radar, or shall we say, they are finally on the radar. At least now you can see the people, themes and issues more or less where they are. What I suggest you look at is the depth and intensity of the transitions that people near you are going through. Material you worked through in other times of your life is coming up for the first time for many of them. Questions you’ve asked over and over again, they are pondering for the first time. While it was not easy for you to do this, I can assure you it’s more difficult for them. This would seem to come back to your differing values on the theme of tradition and structure, but in reality it comes back to the fact that you place a high emotional value on relationships whereas many people you meet tend to use relationships as a way to get ahead. One is a recipe for giving; the other is a recipe for taking. If I had to identify one theme of your interpersonal life over the next few years, and indeed, the next few weeks, that would be making sure you recognize generous people when you meet them, and keep them in your life. True, they may lack the intensity of some of the more self-centered types of sexy, but just remind yourself that you’re more the type who thrives on food rather than survives on drugs.

Planet Waves

Leo (July 22- Aug. 23)

Much of the plot to this story involves money but in truth it involves what you value. You’re usually precise in this manner; you are often a master of your decisions being based on what you have already decided is important to you. Personally I think that Leo is the ultimate sign of what is important, but this has less to do with the gold standard sometimes associated with your sign, and more to do with how much thought you put into your life. So it would not quite be correct to say that your decisions are made in advance; you seem to re-evaluate constantly as you go, and you’re reaching the end of a substantial process of doing just that. The ideas that come forth over the next month and the things you learn about yourself were in truth long in the creation, long before you knew you got there. What you’ve been able to do is hold to some trusted and true approaches to living while you worked in the back laboratory developing a better approach. This, in turn, will lead to several stages of vastly improved financial planning and what seems to be a newfound talent for both making and handling money. Others — perhaps many others — will be involved in this process. Make sure that you teach the core idea, which is that you establish your values first, and make decisions from there; and that this is ongoing.

Planet Waves

Virgo (Aug. 23- Sep. 22)

You’re being too hard on yourself. You always have been, but you’re taking it to a new dimension lately, as in the past couple of years of Saturn in your sign. It’s grown tired as an approach to living, though now you’re starting to figure out that there are others. This is likely to dawn on you as an original thought in an unexpected moment; and if so you will have the chance to drop the logic that supported your self-improvement campaign to begin with. I’m not talking about ignoring your commitment to quality or the advantage of having a competitive spirit; I am describing an endless, painful self-critique that does little other than set you back. Someone you know has a better approach; a more inventive and egalitarian one. You can listen if you want, and even take it on board. Or you can take the example and start inventing a method of exploring and expressing the content of your mind that flows rather than judges. This will be an original advance of some kind, but it will have certain properties. One of them is that you will do a lot less evaluating. Save that for the end or at least for the middle. Another is that you will feel when an idea works for you rather than when you think it should work for you. There is a difference, and it’s rather pleasant.

Planet Waves

Libra (Sep. 22 – Oct. 23)

It would help if you didn’t worry so much about how you supposedly don’t know who you are. You used to know, and the fact that so much is changing beneath your feet is causing you to doubt. Plus, a level of adult responsibility is calling on you to take a big step. That implies a step into the unknown. Each time you approach the unknown with respect, it will reveal one of its secrets to you. One of the reasons that self-awareness is so often put down is the fear of what we might find out if we became aware. Respect for the unknown is what will get you out of this particular self-defeating loop of thought. I don’t mean to tell you that you don’t know yourself; rather I am here to suggest that you have a lot to find out, and that you’re about to discover a good bit of that fairly soon. Why now? You are prying open some of the compartments of the past that have been sealed for quite a long time. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that whatever held them shut is no longer doing so; and the remaining thing that needs to change is your acknowledgement of what you know. I’m talking about stuff that goes back a long way. It could be lifetimes; but for our purposes here, let’s say this whole lifetime.

Planet Waves

Scorpio (Oct. 23- Nov. 22)

It is difficult to have compassion for some people, and it would seem that your karma in this lifetime is to learn how to do precisely that. It’s a lot of energy, I know, and there are times when compassion fatigue sets in; those are the times to pull in and get some recreational time. By all indications, now would be one of them. Each time you do that you will return with more energy and a deeper sense of determination. Your other goals for yourself are pretty high; you have an expectation that you will aspire to excellence in everything that you do. Both your success and your happiness depend on it. Embracing the complexities of the human condition is not separate from anything, though the one quality that unites your whole environment is your own depth of self-knowledge. You have been proceeding along a particular track of growth in your awareness; as Mercury retrograde in Libra unfolds you will take that to a level that will likely make you wonder what you were thinking all along. You are now merging intuitive depth with intellectual knowledge, properties of your mind that you seem to have kept ‘separate’ from one another even though the same thinker is doing the thinking. Weaving unity is a matter of awareness. This will bring you closer to yourself, and closer to others.

Planet Waves

Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 22)

You have a reputation for being the freewheeling type, but what most people don’t know is how methodically you plan your steps. From the look of your solar chart, you’ve been working on a plan for a long time, but with certain emotional misgivings; basically you seem concerned that whatever it is will work so well that it will hem you in. The cosmic perversion for dualism that we all live with on Earth has never had you more determined to ‘get it right’ and never had you more determined to maintain your freedom. Most people would accept that there are compromises to be made here; you are taking the approach, as usual, that you can reinvent the game as you go. Be aware of the influences of a close friend or partner on this process. They may have recently presented you with some inconvenient news, or an idea that seems to have scrambled your eggs just a bit. I suggest you take the next month to test the theory, and to put your own conclusions to the challenge. You are seeking a synthesis between two qualities or properties of existence that most people would feel are incompatible. As a Sagittarian you are the alchemist of the zodiac and your primary role is the creation of new substances with entirely new properties. This is a process of trial, error and breakthrough; all three, over and over again.

Planet Waves

Capricorn (Dec. 22- Jan. 20)

So many different stressors have been acting on you sometimes it seems like if you removed one of them your life would collapse. This is an illusion. In fact most of the pressure you’re under is to grow. That is creating a level of background pressure that is interfering with your ability to think clearly. New goals seem to compete with your capabilities. Pressure to aspire to excellence is getting in the way of your basic competence. I suggest you take a break from thinking like a Capricorn and instead think like a Libra. Go for balance instead of success. Strive for beauty instead of trying to be convincing. Remember that what are truly your highest goals will remain stable while many other objectives on the way to meeting them will not. Make sure you can discern the difference. You only have a clue at the moment what you’re capable of. I suggest you avoid basing your perception of what is possible in the future on what you’re doing right now. And I suggest waiting to make any career moves at all until November, once Saturn has crossed the sensitive midheaven angle of your chart. Until now you can explore the possibilities. You can and of course must deal with the decisions of others that you cannot directly affect. But if you look carefully and peer above the teacup walls, you will indeed be able to glimpse the future, and gradually begin to live that vision.

Planet Waves

Aquarius (Jan. 20- Feb. 19)

Isolation is one of the facts of this world, which has always struck me as odd given how many people there are here. I thought about this for 20 years or so and decided that it was really a function of the human ego and not the population. You’re in a tense relationship with this phenomenon at the moment; the situation has been warming up for well over a year, with many small changes but ultimately the feeling that you’re being drawn deeper into your own reality. At the same time you’re being called more directly into the reality of others, and have on several occasions been drawn so completely into their reality that you could barely see your own. At times this was so subtle you didn’t even know it was happening; when you figured it out, finding your own position again was that much more complex. The key to your puzzle is actual independent thinking. This is so rare, it’s the thing that people make funny faces at. It’s not nonconformity; it’s the ability to think in an original way, as if from totally outside the situation, and if necessary outside cultural frames of reference, and to see the world your way. Then ideally you would act on that information. This Mercury retrograde is about practice, practice, practice. When Saturn changes signs in late October, that’s the real game, and you will discover how much progress you have made.

Planet Waves

Pisces (Feb. 19- March 20)

You seem to be concerned about the influence someone is having on you, though it’s time to acknowledge the influence you’re having on them. Your relationship life is currently symbolized by Saturn in Virgo in your 7th house. That does not sound like a party, though it has done one thing for you, which is give you focus. Your laid-back approach to boundaries is being gradually revised as you are discovering you thrive on clear agreements. You’re also about to see the extent to which you have been an agent of progress in a particular circumstance. What has been missing is a real conversation; admittedly it’s been easy enough to get frustrated with a situation that has spent plenty of time seeming stuck. Over the next few weeks, Mercury will be dancing back and forth between some of the most sensitive angles of your chart, sparking to life a relationship [I meant to type ‘dialog’] that will take some surprising turns between now and mid-October. Be patient. Listen and interpret carefully. Bear in mind that there may be more data coming. Nobody has been withholding from you, or keeping secrets; people can only speak about what they become aware of, and we all do this in our own way. Be wary of negotiating, or anything that resembles it; notice when you’re doing so and why. At this point you don’t even need to say what you want. Whoever you need to know, knows.

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