July 2017: Fire Ceremony

July 2017: Fire Ceremony

One of the few configurations which holds throughout this July is the relationship between Mars and the Sun. The two are close enough all month to make Mars invisible to the naked eye. They begin July only 7 degrees apart, and that increment slowly narrows until the two conjoin on the 26th.

This is the only part of Mars’ 2-ish year cycle during which the crimson planet is wholly invisible, his proximity to the Sun putting Mars in a condition known as “combust.” When a planet is combust, it is said to be scorched by Sol’s rays, and its ability to express itself is minimized, as if the Sun has devoured the planet. And so it has, though it will disgorge it in time.

During the period a planet is combust it is thought to be burnt, yes, but that burning is also explicitly seen as a purification. The Sun’s flames are the flames of spirit. When a planet returns to them, it is purified of the dross which has encrusted it over the last cycle. The function of that planet is reunified with the central, organizing intelligence of the Sun, a product of Sol’s unique position at the center of our solar system and source of its light.

When the Sun engulfs a planet, it robs the planet of the ability to express itself independently. Yet the Sun, the spirit, must digest what it has swallowed. On an internal level, the planet is very hard to ignore, just as a meal we’ve eaten can no longer be seen, even as the eater feels it acutely. This is doubly the case with a spicey pepper like Mars.

Thus we can see the extended invisibility and combustion of Mars as a period of digestion. The solar intelligence will be working on breaking down and assimilating all that Mars has wrought over the last 2 years, cleansing and extracting lessons in preparation to begin anew.

While purification and the extraction of knowledge sound like a good thing, it is important to note that the heat necessary to melt iron Mars down again is extreme. Indeed, one of the qualities which both the Sun and Mars share is heat, and the two together producing quite the inferno.

The suggestion, then, is that both July and August, which see Mars combust, will be subject to an intemperate psychic heat. Tempers are sure to flare, and old conflicts, which should be sacrificed to the flame, may instead be re-ignited. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the unusual heat may also be quite literal.

While there are difficulties which may occur due to the doubled heat of the Sun and Mars, there are advantages, as well. Engaging in rigorous exercise and purifying the habits is easier under these conditions. Sweat it out.

This phase, like any other, is composed of different sub-periods. Mars entered combustion (defined as 8 degrees from the Sun) on June 30th, and will remain within that distance until August 21st. After that, Mars will still be hard to see, but not impossibly so.

Right in the middle of Mars’ period of combustion is the red planet’s conjunction with the Sun. This point of most-perfect alignment occurs on July 26th, at 4’12” Leo.

On a personal level, our job is to digest the conflicts, struggles and adventures of the last two years. This requires an internal fire, a hearth, whose flame we might gaze into for visions, and feed our accumulated resentments and disappointments to. From the ashes of old hurts, we will make inks, and with them write new sacred pacts. In this fire hot and strong, we shall forge legendary arms and armor for our next adventure.

Monthly Overview

Mars Opposite Pluto: Burying Ares

The month begins with Mars in Cancer’s opposition with Pluto in Capricorn early on the 2nd (7/2 5:01 AM PDT). This is a rather unpleasant opposition, as it can stir up feelings of powerlessness, heighten power struggles, and dig up buried angers. Nonetheless, it is very much in line with the ongoing purgation of the martial current which characterizes July. Power comes from accepting situations over which we cannot exert ourselves, and saving our strength for the struggles in which we might triumph. It also represents an opportunity to purge the old angers and resentments which it brings to the surface. Though it is exactly on the 2nd of the month, the Mars-Pluto opposition will remain active as a background influence for the next week or so.

Venus Enters Gemini: Talk Nerdy To Me

Venus enters Gemini on American Independence Day, July 4th (7/2 5:11 PM PDT). As the lady of the heavens exits Taurus she leaves her place of power behind, and must instead make do with what pleasures can be had in Gemini’s frenetic arcades. Though not as lush as the pastures of Taurus, Venus finds in Gemini the fun of games and enjoys the friction of witty repartee. Venus will be hosted by the Twins until July 31st, when she enters Cancer.

Mercury Enters Leo: Loudspeaker

On Wednesday, July 5th (7/5 5:20 PM PDT) Mercury leaves the damp confines of Cancer behind in order to prowl the bright savannahs of Leo. This entails a shift in communication from a private to a more public mode. Thoughts turn to tricks of appearance and methods of presentation, and voices get louder, though not necessarily more coherent. Mercury will be in Leo until Jul 25th, when it enters Virgo.

Mercury’s entrance into Leo coincides with its return to full visibility in the post-sunset West. The planet will climb higher and glow brighter in the Western sky throughout the rest of the month.

Venus Sextile Mercury: Fun and Games

Once Mercury has ingressed into Leo and Venus into Gemini they will hold these positions for most of the rest of the month. We’ll have Venus as morning star, rising in the AM to herald the Sun, and Mercury as evening, with the clever young thief raising his lantern in the West just after Sol sets. In these positions, Mercury and Venus provide a light sweetness to the first portion of the month which helps to balance the depth and darkness of the Mars-Pluto opposition on the 2nd, and the gothic Full Moon on the 8th.

The two planets form a perfect sextile early on the 7th, right after their respective ingresses. The sextile is a happy angle, and the only aspect the two planets partake of, other than the conjunction. It builds a bridge between the head and the heart, and is a particularly good combination for literary or other technical arts. This is a rather nice moment for Mercury, as its contact with benefic Venus helps shake the putrid taste the previous week’s aspects with Mars and Pluto might have left. Oratory works are particularly favored, and in general the days surrounding this Mercury-Venus configuration are a nice time to say nice things.

The best days to take advantage of this are on Wednesday the 5th and Friday the 7th, the days of Mercury and Venus, respectively.

Full Moon in Capricorn: Goth Appreciation Day

It is a fine thing that Mercury and Venus are in such a festive mood, because only a day later, on the 8th (7/8 9:05 PM PDT), the Sun and the Moon find themselves in a less cheery condition. An intense Full Moon in Capricorn, in the Mansion of Purva Ashadha, arrives the night of Saturday the 8th. The Moon in Capricorn opposes the Sun in Cancer at 17 degrees of the respective signs. This year, the full Moon is tightly conjunct Pluto at 18 Capricorn. On the opposite side of the sky, the Sun is joined by Mars in Cancer, though the orb between them is a little wider.

This Full Moon brings the tides high, as it beams down onto projects large and small. Matters of security, both physical and emotional, are energized here. So too are the feelings connected to matters of safety, such as fear and anxiety. Look to the cracks in your foundation, the leaks in your container. Though you may not delight in what this lunation reveals, the necessary repairs might only be clear in that wavering silver light.

Though its silhouette is a bit frightening, there is a certain gothic flow to this Full Moon. Embrace the darkness rather than cursing it, and you may find that it embraces you back.

Though individual experiences will certainly vary, and some may very well end up being constructive, it is a rough Moon, and will likely trigger shit-shows of one kind or another on a collective level. You will no doubt hear complaints and hurt feelings echoing all over the internets.

Mercury Sextile Jupiter: Say Nice Things To Nice People

In the interest of fairness, things die down a bit after the intense Full Moon, and the next major planetary aspect is a happy one — Mercury in Leo’s sextile with Jupiter in Libra on the 14th (7/14 1:46 PM PDT). This aspect will put happier thoughts in people’s heads and more pleasant words in their mouths during the surrounding days. It is a good configuration to ponder peace accords, contemplate philosophical topics and to journey in search of the good.

Mixed Baggage

The ensuing days hold a mixture of very pleasant and very unpleasant configurations, courtesy of Mars and Venus.

Venus in Gemini squares Neptune in Pisces on July 17th (7/17 7:32 AM PDT). Here, the distant blue giant throws Aphrodite into a misty dreamworld, which may lead her to chase fantasies or misunderstand the nature of relationships. Let us avoid such pitfalls.

Not 12 hours later, Mars in Cancer squares Uranus in Aries (7/17 6:36 PM). Mars-Uranus is always an explosive pairing, in this case it is doubly true. Poor Mars, combust and in Cancer, tries desperately to cleanse his warrior mind of volatile psychic content while Uranus hurls bolts of red lightning his way. Some bolts may land, igniting the pressurized gasses within. Steer clear of confrontations in the days leading up to this configuration, especially if you have planets late in Cardinal signs (Cancer, Aries, Capricorn, Libra). It may be possible to contain the energy generated by this configuration, but it’s a tough one. Ask anyone who’s tried to charge a battery with a lightning bolt.

Venus Trine Jupiter: Double Your Pleasure

Fortunately, the following day cools what may have overheated, and clarifies what might have been confused. Venus in Gemini completes a trine with Jupiter in Libra on the 18th (7/18 1:08 PM PDT), making for a lovely exchange between the two benefics. This brief pairing sees rewards and bonuses distributed, and provides for the pleasant and good. Although it occurs on Tuesday the 18th, there will be pleasant reverberations throughout the rest of the work-week, particularly on Wednesday the 19th.

Mercury Trine Saturn: Order of Operations

While Venus and Jupiter exchange pleasantries, Mercury has a meeting scheduled with Saturn. Mercury in Leo trines Saturn in Sagittarius on the 19th (7/19 12:16 PM PDT). Mercury is one of the few planets which can tolerate Saturn’s cold demeanor, for the two both enjoy facts and logic. The Mercury-Saturn trine is excellent for scheduling and planning. Bring order to your travels and your thinking.

At The Gate of the Golden Palace

Beginning on the 20th, the focus shifts increasingly toward the goings-on within Leo, the Sun’s troubled palace. Stone lions flank the gate, and a strange commotion can be heard within.

Mars enters the palace first, on the 20th. Then, on the 21st, Mercury, who has been exploring Leo since the beginning of July, conjoins shadowy Rahu there. On the 22nd, the Sun returns to its gleaming home and on the 23rd, the Moon comes knocking, bringing about July’s New Moon. Finally, on the 26th, the Sun and Mars conjoin.

Mars Enters Leo: Mighty Heart

On July 20th (Jul 20 2017 5:19 AM), Mars finally fights his way out of Cancer’s shell and finds himself at the lion-guarded entrance of the Sun’s golden palace. In Leo, the martial energies support the cultivation of core strength. Mars in Leo possesses the steel spine of the wrestler, though he may lack the sophistication or technique demonstrated by Mars in other signs. Raw strength of body, personality and will are the attributes of Mars in Leo. He is Heracles, draped in the invincible skin of the lion he choked out with his bare hands. The Leonine Mars is persuasive, expressive and potentially overpowering. Yet Mars in Leo also inflames the ego, making people vain and desirous of praise. There is perhaps no living figure who is a better exemplar of Mars in Leo’s qualities than Hulk Hogan, who has the red planet in the Lion’s sign in his birth chart.

This year’s trip of Mars through Leo sees the red planet in the process of purification. It is thus a matter of separating confidence from vanity, and strength of heart from mere power.

Mercury Conjunct the North Node: Scrying The Dark Mirror

Between Mars and the Sun’s ingresses into Leo, Mercury, at the end of the Lion’s sign, quietly conjoins the North Node early on the 21st (7/21 2:56 AM PDT).

Mercury’s conjunction with Dragon’s Head in Leo pulls the mind deep into mattes of reputation, appearance and respect, all in accordance with the ingress of Mars and the Sun into the Lion’s den and the New Moon which follows shortly thereafter. Yet what Mercury sees as he visits Rahu are not things as they are, but the need for respect, attention and performance which have not been sufficiently met. It is a preview of the issues which the shadow of the Solar Eclipse on August 21st will fall upon.

The Sun Enters Leo: The Pharoah’s Return

Hot on Mars’ heels, the Sun strides proudly into Leo on July 22nd (7/22 8:15 AM). The Sun’s ingress into the Lion’s sign puts our star back in its own palace. The Sun is strong in Leo, and provides an ambient boost to works of presentation, performance and leadership for the entirety of the time it occupies the feline sign. The Sun will be in Leo until August 22nd.

This year, there are strange happenings in the Sun’s golden palace, as the shadowy North Node, Rahu, has moved in since the Sun’s time there last year. That shadow acts like a black mirror — a liquid, opalescent darkness, in which can be seen images of tyrants and sacrificial kings, lion-headed goddesses, luminous apotheosis and atavistic regression. These strange images, born of the Sun’s reflected light, dance about the entirety of the Sun’s time in Leo, but will leap to the foreground only under the auspices of August 21st’s total Solar Eclipse.

New Moon in Leo: A Seed of Light

On the 23rd (7/23 3:00 AM), the Moon catches up with the Sun and the two conjoin to make the lunar month anew. The New Moon in Leo re-centers the story squarely on the goings-on within the solar realms.

Excitation and Delay

The 24th and 25th see Venus and Mercury take the stage briefly. On the 24th Venus opposes Saturn (7/24 7:53 AM PDT) while Mercury trines Uranus (7/24 9:32 AM PDT). These two simultaneous influences are somewhat contrary in nature, for while Uranus excites, stimulates and surprises Mercury, Saturn depresses, blocks and frustrates Venus. It speaks to the ongoing question this year of how one can manage obligations while making space for the eternal flame of radical personal sovereignty and independence.

The day after trining Uranus in fiery Aries, the 25th, Mercury slips into Virgo. Virgo is considered to be home base for Mercury, and the swift planet is strong and fortunate within its confines. This year, however, the journey will not be quite so simple, as Mercury’s next retrograde is due to take place in Virgo. This, however, does not take place until August 12th. For the rest of July, Mercury will be in its phase of maximum elongation, when it is as bright and high in the post-sunset sky as it will ever get. There is a mental fullness to this phase, like a cup runneth over. Ideas and insights are thus likely to come tumbling out, like a flood of ink. Grab a notebook and make sure some of it lands on paper.

Sun Conjunct Mars: Benedictio Militis

On July 26th (7/26 5:56 PM PDT) the Sun and Mars finally conjoin. The every-two-year event is the peak of Mars’ purification phase. Here, after weeks of combustion, the Sun taps Mars with the sword and asks that he rise a knight. Here, Mars pledges to uphold the solar virtues of honesty, strength and fearlessness.

Yet there is no knight without a mission, and no point in arms without struggle. On this date, consider what power is yours, and how best to use it. Who is it that you’ve been armed to protect? What principles will you fight for, and at what cost? This is Mars’ paladin phase, the beginning of the quest, before the inevitable conflicts corrode his idealism and virtue. Though with this conjunction the purification is complete, Mars will remain close to the Sun and invisible for the next month. During this time the distance between the Sun and Mars will slowly grow, and Mars will have to figure out how to apply the empowerments received and uphold the oaths sworn once he returns to the dirty business of life back on earth.

Venus Enters Cancer: Friends and Family

The last day of July holds Venus’ ingress into Cancer. Venus’ shift into the Crab’s shell activates our sensitive side — big groups and loud venues are less pleasing than a close circle. Venus in Cancer favors the intimacy of old friends and the shared history of family. Feelings of vulnerability are heightened during Venus’s tenure here, so take care not to take things to heart too quickly, or to accidentally wound someone more deeply than you intend. Venus will be in Cancer until August 25th.

Tune In Next Month

July comes to a close with the Sun in royal Leo once again, and Mars purified and empowered to embark on his holy mission. What comes next is the royal rumble promised by the pair of eclipses which will pierce August’s skies. Tune in next month for kings and queens dressed as pro wrestlers, performing political power-bombs, legal suplexes, and rhetorical moonsaults. It should be quite a show.

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Austin Coppock is a writer, esotericist and astrologer based in Ashland, OR. He published paperback Almanacs from 2011-15 but began posting his prognostications online last year, referring to his collection of weekly, monthly, yearly essays and daily delineations as “The Online Almanac”. This work is made possible by his supporters on Patreon. Austin was President of the non-profit organization “Association for Young Astrologers” from 2012-2016. His most recent book is “36 Faces: The History, Astrology and Magic of the Decans”, published by Three Hands Press.


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July 2017: Fire Ceremony

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