This week is host to a penumbral lunar eclipse in Libra early Wednesday morning, super charging the beginning and middle of the week with red and silver. Mere hours after the shadow falls across the Moon, Mercury and the Sun perfect their conjunction in Aries. The superior conjunction opens up neural pathways to receive and transmit messages of unusual intensity. Meanwhile, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn find themselves entangled in tight a t-square, challenging us to emotionally adapt to the confusing times in which we dwell. The issues raised by this configuration are particularly knotty over the weekend due to Saturn’s retrograde station, and the dwelling upon obstacles it entails.
Silver and Crimson
Early Wednesday morning the bright silver face of the Full Moon is scheduled to be stained red by the Earth’s shadow. The eclipse occurs just before 5 AM, Pacific time, and will be visible, to some degree, across much of the earth. Of the continents, only Europe and Africa will be fully blind to it. Though the penumbral lunar eclipse in Libra will see only a portion of Luna’s argent visage rouged, its power will still be considerable.
This eclipse in tropical Libra is the last one which will occur in the sign of the Scales this decade. It therefore concludes the series of eclipses in Aries and Libra which begin in early 2014, and serves to close out accounts on the set of shifts they’ve overseen.
This last eclipse occurs in close proximity to the North Node of the Moon, also known as the Dragon’s Head or as fearsome Rahu. The Dragon’s Head speaks of sudden appearances and enlargements, just as the South Node, which characterized March 8th’s solar eclipse, refers to disappearances and diminishments. This eclipse is thus one of magnification and intensification.
The eclipse falls in the 4th degree of Libra. From the sign of the scales we may thus assume that there will be a great emphasis on justice and equality, on both a personal and collective level. Additionally, the penumbral eclipse occurs in the first decan, or ten degrees of Libra, which is considered to have the Moon as its ruler in many texts. One example of the traditional symbolism of this decan can be seen in the Renaissance-era image of a man blowing a horn, disturbing the peace to call for justice. Indeed, according to Agrippa’s 16th century text, the Three Books of Occult Philosophy, “The operation of this is for the justice and help of the poor and weak against the evil and powerful.” The eclipse will doubtless sounds such horns, calling attention to inequalities large and small. Again, this eclipse does not begin a new story, but instead continues one already well under way. One need only check the news to see the current status of this narrative.
Yet there is more to this eclipse than the stained face of the Moon. While the Moon looks on from Libra, the Sun resides on the opposite side of the Earth, in tropical Aries. Mercury abides with the Sun, and will be tightly conjunct the glowing star at the time of the eclipse. In fact, the utmost perfection of the Sun-Mercury conjunction will occur only 8 hours after the eclipse.
Seen from the perspective of one hovering above the solar system, it would look like Mercury, the Sun, Earth and the Moon all one line. In this case Mercury will be on the far side of the Sun from the Earth. This is called a “superior conjunction” and can be meaningfully contrasted with the “inferior conjunction,” which occurs when Mercury is between the Earth and the Sun. While the inferior conjunctions always occur while Mercury is retrograde, the superior conjunctions, such as the one which occurs this Wednesday, always happen when Mercury is direct.
During the superior conjunction, Mercury is far from Earth, hiding on the far side of the Sun. As astrologer Demetra George points out in her lecture on Mercury’s synodic cycle, there is a profound resonance between this phase of Mercury’s journey and Hermes’ mythological role as the messenger of the gods. For not only was Hermes capable of travelling to the depths of the underworld, he also scaled the heights of Mt. Olympus in order to confer with the gods. While the inferior conjunctions, which occur during Mercury’s retrogrades, highlight the planet’s roles as messenger of the depths, the superior conjunction, like the one this week, spotlight the messenger’s role as emissary of the heights. In superior conjunction to the Sun, Mercury stretches the mind outward, toward divine inspiration and counsel. Instead of inspecting the underbelly of what-is, Mercury points upward, toward the zenith of what-might-be. Conjoined the Sun in early Aries, Mercury thus offers unusual clarity about the radical potential of individual will and desire.
Though each scale is heavily weighted, this eclipse strikes a balance between Self and Other. At its best this configuration speaks to the wedding of power and justice. On a personal level, this penumbral lunar eclipse asks us to reconcile new levels of confidence and self-assertion with a deepening commitment to respect and equality. On a collective level, we are likely to hear cries of indignation grow loud as the balance of power swings.
While the Sun, Moon and Mercury line up for the eclipse, Venus, Saturn and Jupiter make a special tangle all their own.
This configuration sees Venus in Pisces opposite Jupiter in Virgo. Yet meanwhile, both of the bodies are subject to Saturn, whose position in Sagittarius is almost perfectly perpendicular to their own. This kind of line up, called a “t-square” speaks to a knot of multiple frictions and contradictions, a set of inter-related factors that need be teased apart with patience and care.
Jupiter and Saturn are both distant, slow moving planets which speak to the tides of opportunity and constraint that wax and wane throughout the years. The two conjoin every 20 years, their cycle the backbone of mundane time. The last time they did so was in 2000, meaning that we are officially ¾ the way through the current cycle, a moment analogous to the waning half-Moon. We are too deep into the cycle to start anew. Instead, we are mired in the sometimes-exhausting last quarter, and must do our best to navigate its final 5 years. Jupiter’s exact square to Saturn early in the week shows us exactly where the hands of this larger clock are, and Saturn’s retrograde station on Saturday further underscores the structure of the situation.
Enter Venus, who moves much more swiftly than Jupiter or Saturn, for she paces the speed at which the passions move. Venus’ contention with Jupiter and Saturn over the weekend thus speaks to what difficulties we have reconciling ourselves emotionally with the mixture of obligations and opportunities which characterize this point in our lives, at this stage of history.
It is worth noting that Venus is the ruler of Wednesday’s eclipse in Libra, and as such her intense interface with both Jupiter and Saturn over the weekend is all the more pivotal.
So let us then take the truth of the present unflinchingly into our hearts. Let us forgive what can be forgiven, and address with clarity what cannot.