May 2017: The Torch of Prometheus

May 2017: The Torch of Prometheus

Though there are a few interesting sideplots, May’s primary story is undoubtedly a tale about Saturn and Uranus. The two planets complete a trine this month, the second in their series of three. As I wrote of this pair in The Astrology of 2017

Though the trine (120 degrees) is usually a happy angle, through which energy is easily exchanged, Uranus and Saturn do not generally play together well. While Saturn stabilizes, Uranus disrupts. Where Saturn looks to history, Uranus points to the future. Saturn demands order, Uranus chaos. Uranus’ trine with Saturn thus challenges our plans and expectations by throwing black swans in our path. The distant planet slips wild cards into our deck, making it difficult to project likely outcomes. The plans we make must therefore be flexible and resilient, capable of incorporating unexpected changes. Our goals may remain the same, but we will benefit from being flexible about which path we take to their completion. The Saturn-Uranus trine punishes rigid protocols and rewards adaptability.

Saturn and Uranus will remain within 10 degrees of a trine throughout 2017. Their first perfect aspect occurs at the very end of 2016, on December 24th, with both planets at 20 degrees. The second exact trine is on May 18th, with the two at 26 degrees. The third and final exact aspect will be on November 11th, at 25 degrees of Sagittarius and Aries, respectively.

The completion of the second exact aspect between these planets energizes all of the their contrarities — chaos and order, spontaneity and discipline, etc. Though the significations of these two bodies tend to slide into crude polarity, May offers us a tantalizing glimpse of transcendent reconciliations. Yet there is work to be done before we can build such bridges. The work this month is clearly marked by Mercury.

May begins with Mercury in conjunction with Uranus. Although retrograde when the calendar month starts, Mercury is basically immobile, ready to spring forward on his May 3rd direct station. The Messenger will spend a solid two weeks with distant Uranus, listening to what the old rebel has to say, and passing it on to us.

In order to imagine this conversation, it might be helpful to envision Uranus as Richard Tarnas suggests, not as the distant, easily forgotten sky-titan Ouranos, but instead as Prometheus. Prometheus, who shaped human beings from clay and breathed life into them. Prometheus, who stole the flame of creation from the gods and gave it to his beloved humans. Prometheus, patron spirit of transgressive empowerment, who was chained to the mountain and tortured for his generosity.

As Mercury sits and talks with chained Prometheus, the titan is happy to regale him with his stories. Chief among those tales is the one where Prometheus stole an ember of the divine flame and smuggled it down to earth. For it was always the titan’s design that the humans should possess the power of the flame, a crucible within themselves by which they might melt down and reforge, to craft themselves in the image of their spirits. The flame was the gift of self-sovereignty.

Yet there is regret in Prometheus’ voice, for all he suffered to bring the gift of the divine fire, the glowing embers are currently nowhere to be seen. Only the occasional glimmer, seen through a glass darkly, serves as proof that the magnificent crime ever took place. Yet a coal smoldering with divine fire still dwells inside every human breast, locked away somewhere behind rusted gates.

Behind those gates is a labyrinth, an underworld, a vault in which this immortal fire is confined. It’s warden is Saturn, old Kronos, who devours what and who he fears, imprisoning that which threatens the-way-things are. In fact, the prison is constructed by the body of Kronos himself.

Yet Saturn is not wrong to fear. While Promethean Uranus longs to empower and liberate, Saturn points to the disastrous consequences of power without discipline and freedom without responsibility. The Flame of Creation, the Divine Fire, is a gift but not a toy. It has the power to melt down and re-shape all that is. Prometheus’ naivete was to believe that humankind was equal to the nuclear star-fire he put in their hands.

It will be up to you whether to ask Hermes to lead you on a daring heist to recover your divine right, or whether you are content to let it flicker safely behind stone walls. You have but to request it, and Hermes will lead the way, for he has spent weeks listening to Prometheus speak plaintively of his squandered gift to humanity.

If you decide to undertake the mission, you’ll find the labyrinth of your psyche populated with guards. They will ask you questions. They will dispute your right to be there. They will explain that the Flame is off limits. You will find yourself agreeing with them, because their arguments are merely your own justifications, reflected back at you.

Many get this far and are turned away by their own echoed misgivings. Others reject the guard’s lies and fight them. They also fail. Fighting an endless source of decoys, they remain imprisoned for as long as they do battle. Do not argue with the guards. Do not try to teach them. Leave them, and their endless arguments behind. They may strike you, but they cannot strike you down.

Proceed to the inner sanctum. There you will find that shard of forgotten power glowing behind walls of bullet-proof glass. Every spark is a mote of divine flame, yet each takes a different form and glows with a different color. Each is of the same divine substance, each is unique to its owner.

Though you might be blinded at first by its light, your eyes will adjust and you’ll see it for what it is. Your gift, your birthright. Your piece of divine regalia. It will remind you of something you’ve seen before. The double-headed ax of the Amazons. The Dorje of Padmansanbava. The Stang of the Witchqueen, the Sickle-Sword of Perseus.

Whatever it is, it is yours, and regardless of what it looks like, its true nature is a crown, your own misplaced halo. When you grasp it, you will remember your sovereignty. You will remember that the prison which surrounds you is the kingdom to which you are the sole heir. Reclaiming your authority did not make it vanish, it merely made the guards now in deference. It reminded you that you are responsible for their behavior. The liberty you’ve obtained is the freedom to choose, not the freedom from choice.

Uranus can help you succeed in this daring heist, can help you take back the divine flame. Yet once that crown is back on your head, Prometheus can do nothing more for you. His work is done. You will need to petition Saturn, who you last met as a warden, for his services as an architect. The flame gives you the authority to do what you would, but the compass, square and hourglass will be necessary to build something lasting.

Summary OF Events

A Wand and a Torch

The month begins with Mercury’s direct station on May 3rd, bringing an end to the planet’s extended retrograde. The direct station, right next to Uranus, sets Mercury’s caduceus on fire. This wand become torch radiates revolutionary ideas, some good and others merely exciting. This flame continues to brighten over the ensuing week as Mercury closes in on its third and final conjunction with Uranus, which it completes on May 9th, the day before the Full Moon. Dreams of rebellion and transgression mix with harsh words, surprising messages and unexpected changes of plan during the first portion of May.

The Dragon

On May 9th, the day before the Full Moon, the North Node, or Head of the Dragon, enters Leo, while the South Node, or Tail, enters Aquarius. The two will reside in this pair of signs until the very end of 2018, anchoring the eclipses to these signs. Though the sign-change is worth noting, the dragon will not rear its head or lash its tail until August, when the next pair of eclipses arrives.

The Full Cup

The annual Full Moon in Scorpio lands on the 10th this year, and sees the Sun at 20 degrees Taurus and the Moon at 20 degrees of the Scorpion’s sign. This lunation is somewhat disconnected from to stories of Promethean revolt which color the rest of the month, and thus this Full Moon may have a hard time making a meaningful contribution to this year’s big storylines. There is, of course, an advantage in this. Consider either a night of debauchery or one of purgation — whatever it is you haven’t had time for. Don’t plan for more than a brief detour, though, for although the Full Moon may be a step sideways, the days following the lunation are chock full of plot developments.

Back to the Fields

The next significant shift is Mercury’s return to Taurus on the 15th, which ends the extended conjunction of Mercury and Uranus. Mercury’s ingress steps down the mental intensity significantly, grounding thoughts in the material world and highlighting matters from a pragmatic angle. The flows of finance, questions of value, and the location of rare and special things all figure into the messenger’s exploration of the Bull’s pasture. The first 5 days of this survey see Mercury return to the degrees he was in during the first half of April, and may thus serve to lock in plans which were disrupted, or resolve questions which arose during that time. After clearing those degrees, which he does by the 20th, the messenger will move on to new territory for the first time in nearly 6 weeks. Mercury will be in Taurus until June 6th.

The Torch and the Hourglass

On May 18th, Uranus and Saturn complete their second exact trine. Here Uranus is direct, blazing a trail forward, while Saturn is retrograde, retreating from firmly held positions. Though the ultimate goal of the Saturn-Uranus trine is bring greater harmony between the spheres, this installment will involve Uranus taking the more active role, asking Saturn to remodel.

As with so many other configurations this month, the focal point, the deciding factor, is Uranus. This speaks to the quality of our revolution. Do we come to freedom like thieves, ready to flee as soon as responsibility shows its face? Or do we approach the divine flame as a hearth goddess, faithful to the power we claim? Reclaiming our freedom, and the power that comes with it, is the first step. The second is reshaping our world with that power, taking full responsibility for the result.

In Stereo

A few days after the Saturn-Uranus trine, on May 20th, the Sun enters tropical Gemini, signaling our entry into the last third of the season. The Sun’s time in Gemini stimulates cognitions and conversations alike. It also favors movement, and smiles on both mental and physical speed. The Sun will be in the sign of the Twins until June 21st.

In Gemini, Helios depends greatly on Mercury to facilitate quick tongues and greased wheels. For the first portion of the Sun’s time in Gemini, Mercury will be in steady but plodding Taurus, holding back the pace, yet June will see the messenger enter Gemini and strap a rocket-booster on to the Sun’s chariot.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon

Less than a week after the Sun’s ingress, on the 25th, the Sun and Moon conjoin at 4 Gemini. This New Moon brings things firmly into the Twin’s realm. Ready your clever plans and dexterous moves, as the challenges which wait at the end of month may require them.

Of Noses and Grindstones

The last week of May centers on Mars in Gemini’s configuration with the Saturn-Uranus trine. Mars will make an empowering, if somewhat volatile sextile to Uranus, but will oppose Saturn, a much more difficult arrangement. Mars and Saturn are perfectly opposed early on the 29th, but their angle will be felt for several days on each side of this date, particularly on the 26th. Hard angles between Mars and Saturn can be difficult, but they are also the only way to forge certain virtues. As I wrote in The Blessing of Relentlessness

Mars and Saturn are the malefics in traditional astrology, the two planets whose significations most consistently enclose difficult situations and unpleasant states. It is their essence to challenge rather than confirm. Instead of offering re-assurance, they ask questions and oppose. Mars challenges us to move faster and hit harder than we would otherwise, and conjures up the daunting spectre of the opponent – one who wishes us ill. There is no neutrality here – just fight or flight, confrontation or escape. The answer to these questions is invariably a species of Courage.

Saturn’s challenges are different. The leaden planet confronts us with the unyielding, the bureaucratic, and the inevitable. The opposer does not appear before us bearing an ax and wearing malice. Instead, Saturn places us inside a world without pity. The challenge is the mighty wall of Indifference. This wall can be scaled, but only with the blessing of Patience, one of our greatest allies.

The two malefics thus offer trials of contrasting natures. The two answers, Courage and Patience, are also of a dissimilar nature. Courage is Yang, and is the point around which our body and spirit unite to bring all available resources into the present moment. Patience, however, is Yin, and a form of acceptance-for-now, which relaxes us by spreading out our power over the entirety of an ordeal.

When Mars and Saturn are in aspect, particularly in hard aspect, these two types of trial interfere with each other. Red and green lights flare simultaneously. Yet stop and go messages do not cancel each other out. They create tension, because one cannot move in harmony with both simultaneously.

Remember yourself mired in heavy traffic, already late to an important appointment. You cannot simply take your time, nor can you just hit the gas and rocket toward your goal. You take advantage of the small opportunities to increase your speed, such as by shifting lanes when one becomes speedier, yet you pick your moves carefully, lest you be halted entirely by a fender-bender.

Neither courage nor patience is enough. Both, in respectful relationship to one another, are required. Such a dialogue generates a third quality, a tantric child. This goes by many names, among them Perseverance, Industriousness, and Relentlessness. For now, we will call this child Relentlessness.

The presence of this second-generation virtue can be seen in the lives of many of the people whose charts hold hard aspects between Mars and Saturn. This quality, this Relentlessness, guides people through the challenging times which Mars and Saturn together augur. Some of us are born to be its lifelong students, while others will have the chance to meet this stern but impressive spirit only occasionally. We might glimpse it hovering about an inspiring figure, enfolding them like a particularly hard-looking angel.

The formulae for conjuring this daimon is simple, but it requires that we embrace both Patience and Courage, and then bring them into conjugal harmony. This formulae may be especially relevant right now, at a point in history when no easy answers or quick solutions present themselves. Those who would make a better world, whether it encompass the globe or merely their garden, are in the sorest need of Relentlessness, for it is a virtue which is not rendered irrelevant by hard times, but is instead fed by them, growing stronger with every hardship suffered and overcome.

Though it may entail some difficult moments, the Mars-Saturn opposition loosens by the end of the month, and Mars moves on to entirely in early June. Saturn and Uranus, however, and the tangle of issues which they entail, will be with us for months and month to come. Do not neglect the visions of Promethean rebellions, sacred flames, Archonic prisons, spirit-kingdoms and divine architects, for they are the myths this year is made of.

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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.


  1. JaneBP 6 years ago

    So, relentlessly grip the desired possibilities while patiently dealing with the practicalities.

  2. Cameron 6 years ago

    Great post yet again! The Inner Story is inspiring. One cannot change others until one has changed himself.

  3. Marlene 6 years ago

    Fabulous story-telling and metaphors! Thanks for the insight and inspiration to be more and do more with our potential and what is in front of us with these energies. Will re-read and ponder what messages are being brought and how I can be more relentless.

  4. Eliza 6 years ago

    Beautiful metaphor of one’s journey to find their “divine regalia.” The imagery makes me think about what trials I have to go through to achieve my own goals and dreams. Thank you!

  5. spf 6 years ago

    wow! thank you for this!

  6. Dane Thrasher 6 years ago

    Well done as always. Evokes beautiful imagery. Looking forward to hearing/seeing what June has in store. 🙂 Summer Solstice here we come! 😀

  7. Cameron 6 years ago

    Ha! I was hit from behind in a fender bender when traffic mysteriously came to a halt on an interstate on the evening of the 27th! Mars-Saturn, man-o-man!

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May 2017: The Torch of Prometheus

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