The Astrology of July features Mercury, Venus and Saturn - Neptune. The Mercury retrograde period that began last month is still with us, and continues well into July. Mercury turns direct on the 9th, but does not make up its lost Zodiacal ground, called its "retrograde shadow," until the 24th. This entire time period is great for reflection, journaling and looking inside ourselves rather than "out there" for answers. Then, on the 27th Venus retrogrades in Virgo, the sign of Mercury's rulership. When the inner planets retrograde they become more poignant and intensify their influence and also encourage us to take a reflective stance. Venus in Virgo corresponds to discrimination in matters of aesthetics and romance, and the Venus retrograde period is a time when we get to take a closer look at the deeper meaning of our important connections, and hopefully arrive at a better understanding of ourselves and others.
The July 14th Cancer New Moon emphasizes the Saturn – Neptune opposition, now fading but still potent, and is also the last day that a slowing Venus appears in Leo. At the very end of each sign, Venus lets us take a good snapshot of her energy there. Venus in Leo has the advantage of being very expressive and romantic. We shine a bit more with friends and family during this first half of the month, and we take them quite seriously also, since Venus is consorting with Saturn in this timeframe, beginning with their conjunction on the 1st. After the 14th, Venus gets crankier, and we may find that the energy we have for others has changed. The advantage in this case is in terms of discriminating awareness and greater purity of our intentions toward one another.
The Cancer New Moon squares the new planet Eris, goddess of Strife and Discord, and features a Mars-Chiron square, so that we might find ourselves talking a closer look also at our aggressive impulses in the mid-month timeframe, and at the way that we defend ourselves or struggle for dominance. The wound of self-assertion is likely to arise in some form, as we strive to identify the places where we feel afraid to put ourselves fully out there. We also might react over-zealously to perceived threats from others at this time.
As we face our relationships more closely in this monthly timeframe, we must also be aware of Saturn, prominent in the skies throughout these summer days. Saturn is difficult, slowing us down and making us pay strict attention to what we are about. But Saturn is also our friend, giving us hard-fought insights and long-lasting bonds. We may revitalize an important relationship in our lives during this period, and we may find that our partnership dynamic is slowed down, that we are thrust back upon ourselves in some way, and that we have to deal from the top of the deck with all our kin. Since Saturn is also at this time still opposing Neptune, we are enjoined to take a hard look at where our ideals might be getting us into trouble, especially in terms of relationship, and, contrary-wise, where we might be able to expand our horizons by incorporating more fully into our lives the spiritual ideals to which we internally aspire.
Transits to the U.S. Chart
Last month the June 14th New Moon opposed transiting Pluto and was conjunct U.S. Mars, as transiting Pluto aspected U.S. Mercury, symbolizing both the media and the national discourse, so I expected mid-month events that would shed further light on the reevaluation of the role of U.S. power, as is on-going in this country right now. These ideas continue to simmer, although nothing very overt has been going on, perhaps as appropriate for a Mercury retrograde period of time.
In mid-June there was the question raised over a presidential pardon for Scooter Libby, indicted in the Plame scandal and facing jail time, although it was feared that such a pardon might drive the president's popularity ratings to new lows. The judge rejected a delay in sentencing, and the pardon was also not forthcoming, although conservative administration supporters called to "free Scooter." This refers to the outing of covert agent Valerie Plame that took place four years ago, in the summer of 2003, when her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, questioned the use of discredited intelligence in the run-up to war the previous spring regarding findings about Iraq's intended use of Uranium from Niger to produce an atomic bomb. It will likely come up again in some form during mid-July, since the Cancer New Moon squares U.S. Chiron, which seems to be a signature for events surrounding this issue. For more information, see my article from 2004 called The Ides of June.
Another mid-month news item from last month concerns the subpoena of former White House counsel Harriet Miers, who is being asked to provide information regarding the politically motivated firing of federal attorneys and its relationship to the White House and specifically the office of Vice President Cheney. The office of the Vice President has so far ignored all requests for more information regarding this emerging scandal and also on the question of illegal wiretaps dating back to the administration's first term.
These issues are steadily brewing and will not go away. They might indeed become more prominent in the fall, as configurations at that time are also dicey for the current occupants in this country of the seats of power.
In July, another powerful mid-month lunation accompanies the nation's birthday month and promises more revelations. Transiting Saturn is on U.S. Mercury as transiting Pluto aspects it, slowing down the action but indicating that we'll be looking more closely at the current mess that the nation has gotten itself into, and at the national media, the purported watchdogs of liberty in this country.
The Last Quarter Moon of July 7th traditionally represents a "crisis of consciousness" regarding the impulse that was seeded at the time of the New Moon from June 14th and what elements of that impulse are viable for the future and what part must be abandoned. Either way, knowledge is gained, a most precious commodity and much needed in today's world. This configuration is accompanied by a separating Venus – Saturn conjunction that has been prominent since the very beginning of the month, indicating that our relationship energy is slowed for this first week of July, and that we are playing for keeps in this department of our lives.
Saturn and Venus have both been gloriously visible in the evening skies just after sunset. In the first days of July their conjunction was very close. Venus is bright in the sky right now because close to the Earth. Soon the Earth will swing past her, changing her apparent motion to retrograde. Venus enters Virgo the day after the mid-month New Moon.
The New Moon of the following weekend, taking place on July 14th, is another powerful lunation, and triggers the Saturn – Neptune opposition that is still close in orb, although now fading. Mercury is now direct, having stationed on July 9th. Saturn and Neptune represent in opposition a collision of forces that are irreconcilable, for stubborn practicality and real-world limitation on the one hand, and for wild-eyed idealism, even deception, on the other, but which must somehow be reconciled. This is the task to which we must set ourselves if we are to gain in our spiritual understanding, through embracing paradox to discover a third way.
This New Moon also closely squares Eris, the new planet that was only recently named last November for the goddess of Strife and Discord. There has been some evidence lately of this emerging archetype in the world situation. Mars almost exactly squares Chiron at this time, so that issues of self-assertion and even of violent struggle could be evident on this anniversary of the storming of the Bastille that initiated the French Revolution in 1789.
The First Quarter Moon of July 21st takes place in the last degree of Cancer and of Libra. This time represents a moment of tension in the progress of the energetic impulse that accompanies the New Moon. In the last degree of any sign, the qualities of that sign are given a "last chance" to shine, so we might find ourselves concerned at this time with both the nurturing qualities of Cancer and the relating qualities of Libra, or more closely examining the connections that we have with our fellow travelers of the earthly plane of existence. This is especially true since the ruler of Libra, Venus, is slowing down in the sky at this time.
A few days later, and just two days before the Full Moon, Venus turns to retrograde motion in Virgo on the 27th. Venus will eventually retrograde backwards into Leo, there to once more conjoin Saturn in early August. The entire Venus cycle takes several months; she makes her symbolic journey through the underground beginning August 12, which ends with her Heliacal Rise on August 24th or 25th as the Morning Star. Venus finally turns once more to direct motion on September 8th. It is not until October however, that she regains her lost Zodiacal longitude and re-enters Virgo for the second time. This entire period may be thought of as a Venus oriented time, when we will more than usually aware of the significant relationships in our lives.
The Leo – Aquarius Full Moon takes place at nearly the very end of the month, on July 29th, and represents the flowering of the impulse that arose at the time of the New Moon, and a chance to share the feeling and the manifestation of that process with others around us.