The Astrology of May features Mercury, Venus, Uranus and Neptune. Mercury conjuncted Uranus in the last week of April as it recovered from its recent retrograde, and also at the time of the April 21st New Moon that set the stage for the current monthly cycle. Venus, moving through the sign of Gemini, ruled by Mercury, herself turns to retrograde motion on May 15th. This retrograde of Venus leads up to a special time, when she disappears from the sky for 8 days, preceding her heliacal rise in mid-June, as she becomes the Morning Star. The Mayans believed that this symbolic journey through the underworld was a time of uncertainty in the daytime lands of her normal habitation. This is also another extremely Neptunian cycle, as have been the last few months. The April 21st New Moon closely aspected Neptune, bringing that numinous and otherworldly energy quite strongly into the picture, and Mars is also opposed to Neptune as the current month begins, which further emphasizes Neptune’s shape-shifting qualities.
The Full Moon coming up on Saturday, May 5th, is special in that it reflects back to the Taurus Sun the darker energy of its quite different and opposite sign of Scorpio, ruled by Pluto; a sign that is, in a subtle way, intimately connected with the outer orientation of Taurus, representing the beauty and pleasures of the material world. Scorpio is coming from an entirely different place of inner world activity – looking under the covers, as it were, of all our motivations and finding the way through to transformation. The sign of Taurus is ruled by light-filled Venus, while Scorpio, as indicated by its holiday, Halloween, is a symbolic representation of the darkness that is but the other side of the same coin. Each sign contains within its archetype the germ of its opposite as the Yin-Yang symbol reveals: the dark spot in the midst of the light and the light in the midst of the dark are fundamental elements in the genesis of each of these two sides of life.
The enlightening and unpredictable energy of Uranus is also highlighted in the current cycle by the above-mentioned conjunction of Mercury and also by an inconjunct aspect from Mars, just as Mars opposes numinous Neptune and Chiron, the Wounded Healer, at the very beginning of the month. Beware of accidents, and of unintended emotional mishaps. There is an implied wake-up call here, perhaps involving an increased sensitivity to the past and to the pain and injury provoked by early trauma as well as an idealistic determination to rise above such ancient wounding. Jupiter also aspects Uranus, from the beginning of the month until the Last Quarter Moon of the 12th, increasing the potential for intuition and for optimistic assessments.
The Solar Eclipse of Sunday, May 20th, represents a powerful time, taking place in the first degree of Gemini and thus sextile to the Aries point. Mercury rules the sign of Gemini and is found in Taurus, in conjunction with Jupiter and in aspect to Saturn and to newly retrograde Venus. Both thought and emotion are brought to the fore and in combination, granting you an unusual opportunity to come to a better set of ideas concerning your earthly situation. Since Venus is exactly trine Saturn, your love-life and relationship energy is inward and somewhat stifled, but intensified. In addition to the important relationships in your life, you are seeking to concretize as well your dreams and your artistic impulses
By the time of the Solar Eclipse the Uranus-Pluto square is less than 2 degrees away from exact – and therefore showing up even more markedly. The hour is growing late for our decade and for our century as we strive to turn things around. This applies to our personal lives just as much as to the cultural situation, and the one is a holographic impulse to the other, so that there are no small actions. We are enjoined to think and feel our way through the difficulties of our current situation, imagining a better future for ourselves and then screwing up the courage to act from highest principles. Nothing else will suffice in this crucial time period as we bring to the planet and to ourselves the bounty of fresh understanding and renewed determination to make a difference, this time around.
The Moon in this configuration also connects by parallel aspect with Pluto in Capricorn, extremely prominent in these spring-time skies, being trined by Mars and by the Sun, just as the Uranus-Pluto square, the hallmark symbol of this crucial decade of the “turbulent teens,” begins to really get into high gear with the spring and summer of a pivotal year. Pluto closely aspects Chiron, meaning that in exploring these opposite energies of light and dark our essentially wounded nature is being dragged up and exposed yet again. The time is ripe for healing the ancient trauma from our past and moving beyond it. Meanwhile, the polarities represented by Jupiter and Saturn are also potently configured. The Sun conjuncts Jupiter for the next ten days, heading toward mid-May when its ruler Venus retrogrades in trine with Saturn, as an inconjunct between Jupiter and Saturn perfects. Saturn is opposed now by Mercury and the new planet Eris, beyond Pluto, so that Saturn is greatly emphasized as well. Jupiter is the most optimistic energy in the planetary line-up, and says to us “go, go GO!” while dour and cautionary Saturn, having perhaps the worst reputation of any traditional planet, speaks to us of prudence and of holding back, although its lessons are built to last.
As we negotiate the troubled waters of our interior world in the light of this Full Moon, we are encouraged both to continue inner exploration with all the courage that we can muster, and to make of that serious journey a long-lasting outcome of better and deeper understanding of ourselves at all levels. We grow by poling our barge toward the light and toward the darkness simultaneously, as incomprehensible as this effort might seem to our merely surface mentality and as difficult as that task might be, involving as it does the dark and weighty descent into our generative depths.
The Last Quarter Moon that comes along on Saturday, May 12th, is a fascinating one, being accompanied by close planetary aspects and embodying, as it does, the Aquarius symbolism of its Lunar position to complement the Taurus energy of its Sun, and of its origin in the preceding New Moon of April 21. The dichotomy of Air and Earth implies thinking and practicality as dominant factors now, which makes perfect sense since this time of the lunation is when we reflect on the prior three weeks of the cycle and attempt to take some form of meaning forward into our next phase.
So many planetary energies are in powerful combination now. The Sun closely conjuncts Jupiter in Taurus and also forms a quincunx to Saturn, so that the urge to optimistically move forward is tempered with the recognition of inherent limitation represented by dour and responsible Saturn. The keyword for the quincunx, “adjustment” is very appropriate as well, during this time of reassessment of recent events. Venus is in Gemini, and about to turn retrograde on May 15th – and is therefore extremely emphasized – and is trine the Moon and almost exactly trine Saturn, so that a strong factor now is the thoughtfulness and the chance for redemption symbolized by this Grand Trine in the Air element. Pluto is exactly sextile to Chiron. Mars in Virgo, quincunx to Uranus and square the nodal axis, also closely opposes Chiron. With the Wounded Healer so much in the picture now, as we look back we are reminded of the wounding of our early days, from parents and peers or perhaps siblings, and the present-day after-effects of it. Like our own small version of a leaky nuclear reactor, the injury from past trauma lives on inside us until such time as we take notice and begin to change our situation.
The first step is acceptance. Once we can recognize our wounds for what they are and no longer feel they are shaming us, we can look directly at ourselves in the mirror without avoidant behavior that only compounds the situation. The next step is obviously forgiveness, of ourselves and others, followed perhaps (although this is a hard one) by the realization that on another level there is no need even for forgiveness, since everyone was doing the best that they could do in their state of personal evolution at the time. The last step might be adjustment, and here that keyword from the Sun’s and Jupiter’s aspect with Saturn comes fully into its own. The nature of life is to keep changing; anything else is stasis. As Dylan famously had it, everyone is either “busy being born, or busy dying” and for nature or for life itself to change, there is that constant adjustment, that feed-back loop that lets us know where we are on, and where we are off the mark. And yet the understanding of the need for adjustment is not yet enough. With that recognition comes responsibility, a responsibility to life itself, that we proceed to do something about it.
This Sunday, May 20th, late afternoon to early evening on the West Coast, there will be an astronomical event that is visible in many areas of the world as an annular Solar Eclipse. In the San Francisco Bay area there will only be large crescent-shaped chunks taken out of the blinding disk of the Sun. What this means astrologically is more complex. Whether the occlusion of the Sun is annular or total, an eclipse is regarded as an extremely powerful New Moon, with the eclipse degree a sensitive point in the heavens for the following six months. Since in this case the eclipse degree is 0 Gemini, exactly sextile to the Aries point, that effect is magnified, and so is the symbolism of the sign itself. The Sabian Symbol for the eclipse degree reinforces this strong Gemini vibe. It is “A glass-bottom boat in still water,” and it emphasizes the idea of curiosity, and also the elements Air and Water. Gemini is of course a curious Air sign. As we peer into the undersea world we symbolically see the creatures that dwell beneath the surface of our conscious perception, and it opens us up to the unconscious energies of our emotions, as represented by the Water element, and to the submerged psychic structures of our personalities.
The aspects surrounding this extra-powerful New Moon are also intense. The ruler of the eclipse degree, namely Mercury, is found in Venus-ruled Taurus, while Venus is retrograde in Gemini and therefore in mutual reception with Mercury – making this a thoughtful time for examining the relationships in our lives. Mercury is a mere two and a half degrees away from Jupiter, in close conjunction. Their midpoint matches the degree of Saturn in Libra, another Air sign, to the minute, making a tight quincunx or inconjunct aspect. The exuberance of Jupiter is therefore muted by the contraction and sense of limitation represented by Saturn. The keyword of the quincunx aspect is “adjustment,” and this is another signal that we must take stock of our actions and their consequences. A further form of contrast is revealed in the Air and Water elements, representing conscious and unconscious forces. This theme is also symbolized by the highlighting of Chiron and Neptune in Pisces. The New Moon makes a square to these two undersea and instinctual planets, located in the Water sign of Pisces. Mars is also in opposition within a degree to Chiron. This modern planetoid, only discovered in 1977, and called the Wounded Healer, astrologically refers to these same unconscious depths. With Chiron invoked, and with Venus newly retrograde, we might truly begin to have a deep look under the covers of our motivations and be surprised by what we find there. If we have the courage, open-eyed, to face our inner wounding, we will be rewarded by greater self-acceptance and eventual happiness.
Of course, besides Neptune, the other outer-planet archetypes looming now are represented by the oncoming Uranus-Pluto square, which perfects next month. Indeed, Pluto also stands out in this potent configuration. Jupiter is sesquiquadrate to Pluto, and contra-parallel, while the Sun is also contra-parallel and Mars remains in trine with the lord of death and rebirth. Chiron in Pisces makes a close sextile to Pluto, just as Uranus draws to within 2 degrees of the forming square. With Pluto so strongly emphasized and with the eclipse itself so powerful, we are in for a time for weeks to come that will try our souls, and allow us glimpses of our own private underworld. The good news is that these trials will also allow us to rise above and to become in the process more whole.
The First Quarter Moon of Monday, May 28th, brings up the minor crisis indicated by the Sun and Moon in square to each other and reflects back on the energies of the very potent recent Solar Eclipse that emphasized Pluto, just as the Uranus-Pluto square is becoming quite close. This phase is generally associated with working out the original urge of the New Moon, as that impulse interacts with the necessities implicit in the actual real-world situation. In this instance the Moon is trine Pluto and quincunx Uranus, while applying to Mars and opposed to Chiron in Pisces. Mercury is conjuncted by the Sun in this configuration, and squares Chiron exactly, meaning that certain aspects of long-buried trauma are coming into consciousness, leading to healing them. This phase paves the way for the Full Moon Lunar Eclipse that comes along a week later and also redolent of difficulty, metamorphosis and lasting change.
Wherever we have Capricorn or Pisces in our charts, those areas are subject to situations arising that are clues to where we have been wounded in the past and have stored up the residue in hidden pain; areas that were traumatically influenced by early childhood shock and distress. These are the same areas where we now have the golden opportunity to better recognize ourselves at deep levels and be enabled to move beyond alienation and suffering into healing. Then the knee-jerk reactions that stem from this sort of ancient wounding and that interfere at times with our best intentions for ourselves can begin to be recognized and acknowledged.
The increased tensions of this period reflect on the developmental arc of our lives leading to the transformation which is proceeding apace for all of us during this powerful year, and coming to a crescendo at the time of these late May and early June eclipses. The Sun is almost exactly conjunct the Moon’s South Node, another indication that information from the past is very relevant for the present, as we learn to modulate and contain the information flooding in. As it does, we need faith in ourselves and in the beneficence of the universe to hold us through our process – as a child is held – allowing us to remain open to both unfolding painful realizations and the joy of progress that allows us to move down and through, and eventually out the other side.