The Astrology of Purpose
Bonus Articles on:
Mercury Retrograde - don't get caught in the hype
Venus - for love and money
The sun's journey and the birthday blues
The spotlight this month is on the planet Mercury, the planet associated with the infamous 'Mercury Retrograde.' You may have heard of it. Approximately three times a year, Mercury appears to go backward for about 3 weeks. That means, astrologically speaking, it travels backward through the degrees of the sign it's inhabiting.
This year, Mercury went retrograde from March 19th through April 12th. And it will go retrograde again from about July 23rd through August 16th; and finally from November 14th through December 4, 2005.
Mercury does not really go backward in its motion. None of the planets do. Astrology is not astronomy and it isn't a representation of physical reality. It's a representation of how things seem to appear from our vantage point as little humans on Earth, observing the sky.
At any rate, seeing the speedy little messenger planet Mercury appearing to go backwards in the sky must have alarmed someone at some point - because Mecury retrograde has become associated in astrological lore with a wide variety of mildly alarming things. Missed appointments, email outages, misdelivered messages, appliance problems, bank errors, lost documents, computer failures, purchase of items that don't work or aren't what you want, unfavorable contracts, miscommunications, and traffic accidents are just a few of the things many astrologers warn about during Mercury retrograde. In other words, astrologers predict that during a Mercury retrograde, the daily affairs of humans will get all screwed up.
They should stop doing that. In spite of the way the myth of Mercury retrograde has become enshrined as a real phenomenon, in reality it is a myth. I've been observing Mercury retrograde periods for over two decades and I can tell you that email viruses don't propagate any more virulently, planes don't crash or miss their schedules any more often than usual, the business of life does not stop around the globe or even go any more haywire than usual, satisfactory electronic items are happily purchased by consumers around the world, contracts signed during this period are not more likely to be unfavorable and miscommunications happen no more than usual.
It's a crock. The minor business of human life gets screwed up all the time - but it doesn't get screwed up more often than usual during a Mercury retrograde. The only warning advice associated with Mercury retrograde that I personally endorse is the admonition to drive carefully. I endorse this because you should always drive carefully.
In fact, if you were to take the symbolism of Mercury retrograde literally, it would simply mean that during these periods Mercury was conscientiously going back over whatever it had worked on in the previous three weeks, revising perhaps, and fine-tuning. If anything should get screwed up theoretically - it would be the stuff done in the 3 weeks prior to the Mercury retrograde. But even this doesn't seem to happen particularly.
There is no benefit to imagining that Mercury retrograde has any particular power or desire to do anything negative whatsoever. And there's a potential disadvantage in paying too much attention to this kind of superstitious bull. Because the only people I am personally aware of who are negatively affected by Mercury retrograde are the ones who believe in it! The rest of my friends sail through life unaffected by this so-called phenomenon, successfully completing long journeys, undergoing major surgeries, buying houses, using their computers and communicating on personal and business matters without any unusual glitches. Their bank accounts remain unscathed by errors, their relationships trouble free.
One person I know of who claims to be severely affected by each Mercury retrograde has a life that looks like a permanent retrograde anyway. I'm not entirely sure how she can tell the difference. (Her natal chart actually has Mercury retrograde and she may have convinced herself that this is how her life is supposed to be.) And so it goes.
If you routinely miscommunicate, mess up your travel plans, miss your appointments, lose your mail and accidentally delete important email messages, it's a fair bet that you will continue to do these things during a Mercury retrograde. Your problem isn't Mercury retrograde - it's that, for whatever reason, you haven't been able to organize your life to a comfortable level!
You're not alone. Relatively few of us in the modern world reach the level of organizational comfort we would really like - we're just too inundated. And that's the topic of this month's opportunity. Whether Mercury retrograde has any effect whatsoever, it can still function as a very handy excuse to remind ourselves to get organized. Three times a year (you can mark them on your calendar), Mercury retrograde serves as a little reminder that sometimes it's good to go back through that pile of accumulated paperwork, messages, email folders, business cards, reading material, and goodness knows what else it is that is lying in stacks around our homes and desks. Almost all of us want to get to this stuff and clear it out or organize it - and very few of us have any idea exactly when we're going to get around to it.
Mark the Mercury retrograde periods on your calendar right now and tell yourself that's when you'll get around to it. Couldn't hurt. Might help.
If clearing out your paperwork is just too unappealing under any circumstances, you can also tell yourself things like - that's when I'll get around to updating my website, redoing my business cards, revising my mission statement, or revising whatever thing it is you keep telling yourself you're going to revise but you never really have the time or energy to do it. Mercury likes to do things quickly, so don't going envisioning a major rehaul of your life and systems. Minor tweaks - like putting your tax receipts in their right file folders. Nothing big.
Deep in its speedy little heart - Mercury loves to feel organized. So do most of the rest of us, even if only briefly. Three times a year - during Mercury retrograde, you have a perfect excuse to indulge your inner organizer. Why not enjoy?
I'll confess it took me many years of studying astrology before I realized it wasn't something you 'believe in' or a set of interpretations or facts that are supposed to be 'true'. Once I realized, however, that astrology is actually a collection of human wisdom compiled over literally thousands of years of observation my life began to change and astrology became a powerful tool for good in my life. In fact, the more I look at astrology as an ancient store of wisdom the more impressed I am by astrology's psychological insights.
For example, the planet in this month's spotlight, Venus (traditional ruler of the signs of Taurus and Libra) is astrologically associated with both love and money. This may seem a bit odd, since we all know that love and money are not the same thing. Or do we? Interestingly, love and money occupy the same psychological space in our minds. Perhaps because they are both things that we get from other people.
And that's what Venus is all about. Receiving. For some of us receiving comes easily, as if by divine instinct. Some of us never seem to get the hang of it. It makes us nervous and we prefer to see ourselves as the giver, even with all the resentments that sometimes entails.
If you'd like to give yourself a little bit of a jolt, think about how you handle money and then see how that behavior applies toward your attitudes toward love in your life. When it comes to money, do you feel you never have enough? Are you always in someone else's debt? Is it a mystery to you? A source of difficulty? Something you don't like to look at to closely? Something you hoard? Are you self-reliant or often dependent on others. It's an interesting way of examining what may underlie some of your fundamental beliefs about the availability of love in the world, not just romantic but all kinds.
It's an odd fact that those with very little money can feel as though their lives overflow with abundance. And those with a great deal of money can feel extremely restricted. In the end, it seems love has a more positive effect on the quality of our lives than money. And pursuing one does not necessarily lead to the other, hard as it is for many of us to realize that.
Tracking how Venus operates in your life as it travels around the zodiac can give you some clues as to what areas of your life have a comfortable receiving energy and those that present more difficulty. Perhaps you receive accolades at work but feel unappreciated by your family. Or vice versa. Working with Venus transits can help you shore up the weak spots in your ability to receive.
You can work with Venus transits in the practical Taurean way or in the more communicative Libran way. If you prefer the Taurean method, you simply take action to get more in the sector where Venus is located during a particular time period. Tracking your results tells you where Venus works easily for you and where it doesn't. Of course practice makes perfect in using this method and you'll get better as time goes on.
If you prefer the Libran method, you teach yourself to talk honestly about your feelings and desires regarding a particular sector while Venus transits it - and you see what kind of response you get. This gives you feedback on how the universe is perceiving you and helps clarify the sometimes vague or hesitant feelings that plague all of us from time to time. Sometimes it allows you to realize you are getting a lot more love from the universe than you realized - an advantage the practical method of simply exerting effort doesn't always provide.
Perhaps the most powerful way to use Venus is to combine these two methods with the simple act of paying attention. So many of our greatest heartaches in both love and money come because we are simply operating on outdated assumptions and don't realize it. We are so used to doing what we do that we no longer notice how well it works for us. Taking a few moments to ponder this gentle, harmonious planet can help us heal our past disappointment in both these areas so crucial to our well-being on this crazy, crowded Earth we call home.
Astrologically speaking, each person's birthday, known as the Solar Return, is supposed to be a happy time of renewed energy and joyous celebration. And for lots of people it is. Yet, a great many of us, particularly as we get older, experience at least a little bit of the 'birthday blues'. We subconsciously dread the day, feel a little down, and don't want to think or talk about it all that much. This could be easily explained by the fact that a birthday necessarily reminds us that we are getting older!
But the astrological reasons behind this phenomenon give us some clues as to the role of the Sun in our lives, and perhaps how to use its cycles to our advantage.
Just before a person's birthday, the sun is transiting the solar 12th house. The 12th house represents the end of the yearly solar cycle, and while the Sun transits through it in the month before our birthday, it's busy whispering to our subconscious - what about all the hopes and wishes we had for the year? What happened to them?
You see, the Sun, as a symbol of life itself, transits the entire zodiac each year. What this means in real-world terms is that we start out each year in one direction, full of plans, and by the time the year has ended, our life has gone off in twelve different directions. It's a very rare person who has such iron control over their life that it doesn't end up going off in some unplanned tangents over the course of a year. We start out hell-bent on losing weight, and then a friend unexpectedly dies and suddenly it seems much more important to reflect on the meaning of life and how God could do such a thing. Astrologically speaking, we're not supposed to live our lives with an iron control that excludes those 12 different directions.... Our lives instead are not intended to be just about ourselves and our plans, but about the entire zodiac and everything in it. John Lennon's observation that 'Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans' represents a profound astrological truth.
Each year, the sun will theoretically give you a dose of power in 12 different areas, an opportunity to start something, build something, or react to something in each of the many sectors of living. Knowing where the sun is each month gives you a chance to capitalize on those opportunities, and maybe even understand them a bit. For example, each year when the Sun transits my solar 6th house of work (in my case, from around June 20 to July 20), I've learned that my life will revolve around work, whether I want it to or not. I know this, because that's typically a time for family vacations, and almost every year work makes it practically impossible to indulge in one at that time! Knowing this has greatly eased my stress as I learn that I will almost always have better success scheduling my vacation for July 21st or later. Learning the rhythm of your solar cycles gives you greater control and allows you to understand those inevitable unplanned tangents that life takes off on.
copyright 2005 Victoria Bazeley