This Summer’s Mercury Retrograde is loaded with threads tethering back to the Summer of 2018, giving us a serious case of déjà vu, enough to make us feel like we’ve gone mad. Maybe it’s Groundhog Day and we have a chance to see it from another angle and try out a different outcome.
You know all those sayings about the power of words? Yeah, like “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” “The pen in is mightier than the sword.” “Life and death is in the power of the tongue.” “Your word is your bond.” Etc… Hold them all to your chest, very closely.
This Mercury Retrograde properly begins before Mercury even enters its retrograde shadow (June 20,2019). And it lasts until long after Mercury leaves its retrograde shadow (August 14, 2019). In fact, the defining feature of this Summer 2019 Mercury Retrograde is 3 conjunctions with Mars. The first occurs at the degree of the July 16, 2019 Eclipse (29° Sagittarius/Gemini). The second conjunction is actually as Mercury stations retrograde. This one is the kicker. At 10° Cancer it’s right where there was a Lunar Eclipse conjunct Mars Rx in Capricorn on July 27, 2018. The last one is in Leo on September 3, and that one brings the Sun along to the party.
What Does This All Mean?
Mercury takes on the qualities and temperament of any planet it touches, using its capacities to translate and interpret these qualities into words. Mars brings:
strength of will
Words are weapons. Declarations are the barrier between peace and war. Disclosure is the hurdle between agency and disempowerment. That sword that then pen is mightier than? Both possess the power of life and death.
You know what my word is for this Mercury Rx? DISENGAGE. That means only pull out your big guns if you plan to use them. I’ve been telling ya’ll that WORDS MEAN THINGS. And once they leave your lips (or your fingertips), there is no taking them back. AND you likely can’t control how people interpret them.
This one is a doozie. I’ll be talking about each piece of this retrograde in detail as we get there. It’s too much to consume at once. Just know that WORDS MEAN THINGS.So make sure you follow me on Twitter for The People’s Weekly Forecast, and on Instagram for my LIVE videos a few days each week. I also do New Moon and Full Moon Tarot Divinations on my YouTube Channel. You won’t to miss the one’s I do for the upcoming eclipses (July 2 and July 16.)
In this blog post I will show you how to cast a chart that serves as your unique, personal monthly horoscope.
Time is relative. No tool articulates that as clearly as astrology. There are many different reference points for where one might mark the beginning of a segment of time or an end of one. We know that time (months) as marked by the Georgian calendar, is a matter of consensus. It is a set of agreed upon measurements rather than ones calculated in reference to something tangible or observable. However, time is measured, calculated to begin and end, by observable phenomena in astrology.
It that sense, a month can begin at any point in time. However, your personal month begins the moment the transiting Moon enters the sign of your natal Moon. A chart cast for the precise moment the transiting Moon reaches the sign and degree the Moon occupies in your birth chart each month serves as your personal, unique monthly horoscope. This is called a Lunar Return Chart (LR). This generally happens 12-13 times per year, about once a month.
What is a Lunar Return used for?
A LR can be used as a standalone chart, but functions most accurately and usefully in reference to your natal chart. You can use a LR to:
Highlight your personal areas of focus each day in a month;
To plan your activities and anticipate changes in your life;
Observe patterns of people, circumstances, and events that progress and resurface from month to month, and over the course of the year.
How to cast your Lunar Return
Make sure you have created an account and followed these instructions to cast your sidereal birth chart using Astro.com. You’ll need access to the saved birth data you input for your natal chart in order to cast your lunar return chart.
Click ‘Free Horoscopes’
Under ‘Drawings & Calculations’ click ‘Extended Chart Selection’
Choose the following settings on the ‘Extended Chart Selection’ page
Horoscope for: Choose your birth chart
Chart type: Scroll down to the section labeled ‘– Solar and Lunar Returns –’ and choose ‘Natal + Lunar Return chart’
Chart drawing style: Classical Style
Start date: This part is a bit tricky. If you have the 2019 Sidereal Moon Transits iCal then you can choose the date the Moon enters your natal sign. You still might have to play around with it.
House system: Whole Signs (VERY IMPORTANT!)
Click ‘Click here to show the chart’
Here are screenshots of the astro.com website that go with the instructions outlined above.
Whenever I talk about astrology, I recognize that a large part of my work is educating others, a kind of meta-education. I must teach you what I’m talking about as I’m talking about it. Thus, I don’t take for granted that there isn’t a consensus on what astrology is and what its purpose and function is.
Many people, many who have not heard of a birth chart, think astrology is horoscopes based on your “sign” (properly, the sign your Sun occupied at the time of your birth), and that there are like 12 “prototypes” that astrology uses to define people. It’s very simplistic. People who view astrology that way are the same people who would say that “the English language is the alphabet.”
They’re not taking into consideration the cultural context for language, and that the alphabet is the basic building blocks of language, just like numbers are the basic building block for math.There is much implied in the structure and way that we count, or in the variety of languages that there are, or in the alphabet as characters that make up words in a language. But those things are not the language itself. So, we can say the same thing of astrology, that the 12 zodiac signs are not astrology itself.
The Fundamental Question
What is astrology? This can be a difficult question to answer because we can break down anything into its pieces; we can dissect it into parts. We can say astrology is planets, signs, and houses. But that’s not really telling me what astrology is, why it is, or how and why it functions.
Part of why I want to talk about this is because I have been thinking about what I do when I sit down with a client, and how I’m looking at this person’s chart and I don’t know them from Adam or Eve, or Steve, or whatever their names are. I am able to tell them about their mother, their father, their home, family, and their interests, their health, and their illness, and the times of important events in their lives, and help them piece together their stories. And, I’m in awe every day.
What is astrology that I can do this with it? That I can tell the story of someone’s life, without them giving me any information besides their birth data, what is the power of these symbols?
Note: How I talk about astrology, how I define astrology, is not necessarily something I sat down and come up with among other astrologers. It’s not something that I’ve read somewhere. It’s not something you can go find in a book somewhere. I won’t say my ideas are completely original. Everything is derivative in, nothing is completely original.
Astrology is a language. Language is a complex set of symbols that we use to think about, visualize, and talk about ourselves and the world around us.
Language is a consequence of consensus. Consensus is cultural. When I say apple, you think of a round, likely red, food item. We have agreed to call that object an apple. Maybe if I say pomme then the pomme you envision is yellow or green, based on your cultural imagery around that word and object.
The Complexity of Language
So, now let’s get to the real meat of it. I’ve established that astrology is a language, which is a complex set of symbols, that we use to name, visualize, think about, and talk about ourselves and the world around us. Astrology helps us in that regard.
Now, the next piece is, if astrology is a language, what is the alphabet? What is the lexicon and syntax of it? In any language there is a syntax; there is a lexicon; there is a correspondence of these symbols to some concept or object, person or place in our world. What is the grammar? What are the pieces that we put together to make this language?
In language we have alphabets or character sets— each letter or character, corresponds to a sound. And, depending on how those letters come together, the sound is going to change. Even the sounds that letters make are very culturally significant and specific, right, if you hear English, and the derivatives of English, or rather, the languages that English is derived from: Latin, the Romance languages, Germanic languages, Native words—the English language is an amalgamation of all the colonial exploits of England. But if we go to China, it’s a totally different way of organizing the symbols. They have characters that are pictures, and those are very complex in how they’re organized.
Language as a Cultural Phenomenon
A book called Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston was finally published after years of being withheld. A story on NPR talked about Zora Neale Hurston’s insistence that Kossula, the person about whom the book is written, tell his story in his own dialect. The editorial director of the publisher, Deborah Plant, spoke about the importance of preserving the way that Kossula spoke about himself. There was no ‘I’ in his culture. She explained how in American Western culture there is this constant reinforcing of ‘I’: ‘I say.’ ‘I do.’ ‘I feel.’ ‘I think.’ Whereas in his culture, ‘I’ is implied; he’s standing right here before you, so he doesn’t have to say ‘I’. This is the complexity of language. And I explain that because I want to apply this and help you understand something about astrology: just
So, in that sense astrology, like language, is explicitly a cultural phenomenon.
As with any language, astrology emerges from a cultural and historical context. Astrology is not something that’s uniquely Western. It’s not uniquely European or American. Astrology is Indian. Astrology is Babylonian and Sumerian and Mesopotamian. Astrology is Kemetic. Astrology is of the Asian Diaspora, practiced in Korea, in China, in Singapore, in Malaysia. And each of these astrologies emerges from relevant cultural contexts.
When we pull together the building pieces of any astrology we always start with the Sun and the Moon, which are not planets. The Sun is a star. It is the biggest star, the closest star. The Moon is, for all intents and purposes, a big ol’ rock. We observe it as a marker of time, and have done so for time immemorial. So much of our orientations of our bodies in the world are rooted in the Moon and our observations of the Moon. Again, not necessarily anything astrological at this point, but purely astronomical, in that we watch the Moon wax and wane in its light.
All astrological traditions start with those two pieces. Then we spread out to other bodies that are observable with the naked eye. You must remember telescopes weren’t always a thing. This brings up something that is important to astrology, is that it’s a visual art. I know that we have all these complex words and concepts and things—this sign is this or that planet is that. But, astrology is first an observable phenomena, rooted in astronomy.
Astrology vs Astronomy
There was a time where astronomy and astrology were no different; they were the same thing. At some point there was a power struggle around access to knowledge that split the two into different disciplines with divergent social, religious, and political implications. Then science became this thing no longer practiced by clergy who have the privilege to study and learn math and all of these things. At that point it becomes the privilege of the aristocracy.
We start with the Sun and Moon, then we move to the observable bodies that are visible to the naked eye. So now that’s Mercury, that’s Venus, that’s Mars, that’s Jupiter, and that’s Saturn.
In observing the astronomical cycles of these planets, we begin to understand how they move and correlate and the time frames with them.
Ah! So, let’s see every day, within this timeframe the Sun is doing the this over here in the East, but then it does something else over here in the West! — Observe & record.
Ah! Okay, the Moon is doing this today, but 29 days ago it did this same thing.—
—Observe & record.
Ah! Whoa, Mercury’s doing this thing, but then it’s doing this thing-but that thing-then this thing-then that thing-then this thing — Venus, the same for Saturn and Mars and Jupiter, and Venus.
Alright, so we’re observing, in relationship to time and space, what these bodies are doing.
The whole point is that astrology is rooted in this observation. And that in astrology, everything is about visibility. When we’re talking about the houses, we’re talking about observable, astronomical, and physical phenomena in space and time. When we’re talking about a Saturn Return, or where the Sun is, or what the Moon is doing, again, we’re talking about observable phenomena.
Astrology Segments, Names, and Interprets Time
Astrology is a tool, for measuring, naming, and interpreting time. Just like clocks and calendars, except there’s the added dimension of ‘but what does that mean?’ Astrology is similar to a calendar or a clock; it names and segments time. In astrology we observe the astronomical phenomenon of how planets appear to move with Earth as a reference point. And with those observations, we segment and name a period of time in relation to that.
The segment of time designated as a year correlates to the astronomical cycle of the Sun. Why? Because it takes approximately 365 days (a time segment which we have designated ‘year’) for the Sun to return to a designated reference point. But implied in that astronomical measurement is that the Sun is doing something observable, predictable, and consistent.
Each planet has its own cycle. The Moon has a 29-day cycle. Mercury varies. Venus varies. Jupiter has 12 years. Saturn has 29 years. All of these planets— and this is not astrological, in the sense of there’s no interpretation yet— this is purely astronomical. It is astronomical— observable and measurable— that Saturn is doing this thing in 29 years. The Moon is doing this thing in 29 days. The Sun is doing this thing in 365 days.
Like language, time, too, is a consequence of consensus. We have agreed on what is one minute, one hour, one day, one second, one month, one year, a decade, a century. There’s a consensus around what those things mean, so that when I say ‘one week,’ I don’t have to explain that to you, you know what that is.
Unlike calendars and unlike clocks, astrology interprets time. It tells us what it means. So, in that sense, I say, astrology helps us to name and define and interpret the seasons and times of our life.
A Time & Season for All Things
We know that at particular times of year, based on how much sunlight there is, how much rain (or not) there is, whatever the temperature is—we know that there is an appropriate thing to do at that particular time. That is, if we want a certain outcome from the land. We organize our lives around those appropriate times. We organize our lives around the hours of daylight and nighttime so that we know that there is an appropriate time to do things.
We think about times and seasons in relationship to our physical bodies— how we grow our food, how we eat, how we sleep, the schedule that we have in our bodies and in our lives. But we don’t always think about that regarding the choices that we make and the undertakings that we choose to endeavor upon at any give time.
Unlike a calendar or a clock, astrology interprets time. It tells us what is happening and what it means. It helps us to build a narrative around a particular story.
Now, we can say, not only is there a time for planting food, for harvesting, for sowing, for tilling. There’s also a time for things to happen in our own lives. So, my favorite scripture, my favorite scripture to reference in this context, talks about ‘There’s a time for death, and birth, and growth, conservation, joy, celebration, atonement.’ There’s a time for all of these things. Yet and still, as a culture, we have not really grasped, the practical and spiritual significance of that truth. Astrology is this tool that helps us do that.
Astrology is a language—a complex set of symbols used to talk about, think about, and conceptualize the world around us. All languages emerge from a specific cultural context and are dynamic.
Astrology is a tool for measuring time. Like a clock and a calendar, with the added functionality of defining the quality and meaning of time.
Astrology is rooted in astronomy, which is the tangible, physical, measurable cycles and phenomena of the planets. What they’re doing in relationships to themselves, and what they’re doing in relationship to each other.
Check out this post on some of the philosophical differences between the tropical and the sidereal zodiac. I’ve outlined some of the technical differences between the tropical and sidereal zodiacs in this 70 minute webinar (with accompanying PDF). Get a very special reading focused on understanding the differences between your tropical birth chart and your sidereal birth chart in this comparison reading.
Do you recall your dreams each night? Some people believe that they don’t dream when in fact they likely don’t recall their dreams. You can learn to recall your dreams and I will show how to train yourself to recall your dreams.
I’ve been offering dream interpretation informally for awhile now, but I thought I’d make it an official offering. You an now book a dream interpretation session. I will be offering a complementary dream interpretation with all Solar Return and Foundational Birth Chart Readings.
Set an intention
This intention is not directly to remember your dreams. This intention is to invite your unconscious mind and subconscious thoughts and feelings into your conscious awareness, to thin the veil between them. With this intention you are opening your mind to what lies beneath the surface of your conscious awareness, that which is hidden from you.
It can be helpful to write in your journal, or wherever, that you want to remember your dreams and all of the reasons you can come up with for why. It’s a way to release fears and blocks around dreaming and recalling dreams. Some reasons may be to resolve emotional wounds, gain insight on how to deal with waking life challenges and other pressing issues, to communicate with ancestors.
You must consciously remind yourself every single night before bed to remember your dreams.
Keep a method to record your dreams close to your bed
It is very important that you don’t check your phone or get out of bed and start your day without purposefully attempting to recall your dream(s) in as comprehensive and complete detail as possible. You must make attempting to recall and record your dreams a priority upon waking. Even if your dream seems trivial or insignificant, still record it and set it aside.
For some it is best to use the audio or voice recorder on your phone or iPad to record yourself speaking your dreams. For others, a note on your phone or a designated dream journal is best.
When you are recalling and recording your dreams details of color, sound, location, etc are important. But even more important is your emotional state and how you feel in the dream. Who are the important people? Did they say anything? Even if they didn’t say anything how did their presence make you feel?
As with anything intention, consistency, and practice are the ways to forming a new habit.
What do the planets have to say about love? As always, you know I’m going come at it from another angle. Read on about the Astrology of Love the sidereal way.
This content originally appeared in a thread of tweets on my Twitter timeline. It has been edited for clarity and cohesion.
While Venus is often called the planet of love, sex, and pleasure, each of the planets speaks to us about love. Love can be defined in practical terms, spiritual terms, psychological, etc. But I’m going to include all of the above and then some as I share what the planets have to say about love.
I always start with the MOON because this is where you began—in your mother’s womb. Your first body, your first home, was not your own, it was your mother’s. It was there that your body was shaped. And only upon your emergence from that body did your body take a form of its own.
The MOON is home and family, it is the circumstances of your upbringing. It is all of the people, places, and things that are familiar to you, the fixtures in your environment that comprise “home”.
LOVE begins with mother—home. This is where you learn what your needs are, who will meet them, and how they are met. Your body is programmed by your upbringing to interpret one thing as a need, and another as optional. If you survived without it, then you don’t need it, right?
The MOON teaches us that LOVE is the incubator of necessity. LOVE defines what we cannot live without. As we are shaped by our home and upbringing, so too is our relationship to our body. LOVE teaches us what necessity feels like.
How has your mother, home, family, upbringing, and familiar environment during your formative years shaped how you define necessity in your life?
Are these necessities rooted in familiarity, or does your body call for these things at present?
Who are the people that fulfill necessity in your life at present?
The SUN is the sense of self shaped by the awareness that you are not your body. The mind that perceives can perceive the body. The mind is aware of itself, too. The SUN, experienced as FATHER, teaches us that our sense of self informs our level of entitlement to impact the world around us. LOVE, in this sense, is the drive to be seen as we see ourselves.
How has your experience of FATHER shaped your entitlement to impact the world you inhabit, your world?
Who and what is the self that seeks to be seen as it is? Is that really you?
How do you show yourself so that you can be seen?
MERCURY is the underrated champion of LOVE. It is the words we think in, speak with, write with. As incantations of manifestation, words create the world we inhabit. They create the space and place where we exercise our entitlement to be.
When your world is named for you, it shapes how you perceive it. And when you are named, it shapes how you are seen and how you see yourself.
When you name your world, you shape your world. When you name yourself, you shape yourself.
What have you been called?
How has this shaped your becoming at present?
If you are to be seen as you are, what words have shaped your capacity to show up to be seen?
Now, we have arrived at VENUS: the capacity to change, assimilate, adapt, adjust, bend, and conform. The SUN says that your sense of self informs how you see the world. But VENUS says that LOVE means letting the world and the people in it change you, and how you see yourself.
Both are needed, you see? There is no self without LOVE. Because who you are and who you are becoming has and will always be shaped by the people in your life. Either by your resistance to conforming or by your willingness to change. This is the LOVE that VENUS teaches.
How willing or unwilling are you to be changed by the people in your life?
How do you find balance between maintaining the sense of self rooted in self perception vs the sense of self reflected back to you by the people in your life?
Even if you did not choose the reflection, the people in your life, can you still see yourself?
Can you still magnify the commonalities, however small they might appear? Perception is reality, right?
MARS, the defender of the body which emerged from Mother MOON. The one that severs the binding that necessity has created. The one that ventures out to flex the muscle of courage. It sustains and maintains the entitlement endowed by Father SUN.
The courage to stand your ground, preserve your life and body, and move as the force of life empowers you and impels you to act—this is MARS. This, too, is LOVE.
Who and what empowers you to save your own life?
Where do you find the strength to stand your ground when it matters most?
Who empowers you with a visceral awareness of the value of your life, your body, yourself?
JUPITER tells the story of who you are. It’s the teacher who shows and tells. It’s the culture that gives words meaning. It’s the experiences that give you meaning.
Framing the cultural narrative around belonging and community, JUPITER gives the context for how we interpret ourselves and our bodies within the society where we live. JUPITER teaches us that LOVE is finding connection beyond the primal and biological while reinforcing it at the same time.
Stories are tapestries of words that shape how we interpret the world, ourselves, and the people in it. This is JUPITER and this is LOVE.
How do these stories provide a way to interpret the impulses that arise in you?
What is the origin of these stories?
How do they empower intention and possibility in your life?
SATURN is where it ends and begins, for birth, too, is a SATURN thing. Birth is the beginning of the discovery of where the limits of our body lie. And death is where we face the limits of life itself.
Life ends at death, so says Saturn. The awareness of your mortality brings an existential crisis that makes living urgent. Pressing you against the walls of possibility, narrowing the path forward, LOVE is urgent. LOVE is life and death. The only two guarantees in this world.
LOVE is the consequence of mortality. It grows from the awareness that life is not forever. So we must figure some way to make it last past the time our bodies are animated with life. LOVE is the legacy we leave as evidence of our lives.
How have you discovered the limits of your body?
Who are your partners is legacy creation?
How has the awareness of your mortality narrowed the path of possibility in your life, revealing who and what matters most?