Urania's Well: Astrology for Changing Times

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Retrograde, by Jove!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.”  - Margaret Shepherd

I’ve gotten some questions about Jupiter going retrograde, and there also seems to be a lot of fear and trembling around Saturn’s move into Scorpio last week. People want to know how these planetary changes will affect them personally.

In a horoscope, the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars are the personal planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto the transpersonal ones. Jupiter and Saturn, though, are the social planets — they rule the way we interact with each other, the way we form and interact with cultures and civilizations. So it’s not unlikely that the lessons of these transits on a personal level will be triggered by, and reflected in, the interlocking social structures within which we all live, and the zeitgeist — the web of ideas and beliefs that underlie those structures. 

Has something in your life that was growing and expanding begun to slow down, to stagnate? Is there a situation in which you seem to be losing personal power? Perhaps a situation where you are uncomfortable with or uncertain of the moral parameters and need to think carefully about what you believe, and what you value? That’s Jupiter moving retrograde. 

Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. Along with Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, it is classified as a “gas giant”, its thick hydrogen and helium atmosphere making up most of the planet’s mass around a small core of heavier elements. Appropriately, given its physical nature, Jupiter rules growth, expansion, and the widening of horizons. It is a mental planet, like Mercury, but oriented towards the future, while Mercury is in the here-and-now. Mercury keeps the records, Jupiter makes the laws. It rules philosophy, law, and both personal and cultural values. 

When a planet goes retrograde (abbreviated Rx) there are a couple of things you’ll want to pay attention to. First, determine which degrees will be visited by the planet as it moves backward and then forward again in the sky, as well as the degrees at which it is stationary (when it goes Rx or direct). If you have planets or sensitive points in your natal chart in those degrees, you’ll be receiving a major dose of energy from that planet. With Jupiter, there is always an opportunity to move beyond your limits. Of course, a lot of people would rather face the zombie apocalypse than move beyond their limits, but with Jupiter, you usually get moved, one way or another. Best to skillfully ride the wave rather than get tumbled. 

Grab the Brass Ring

Where these opportunities will manifest for you personally depends on which houses Jupiter is transiting in your chart, plus any aspects between Jupiter and any natal planets, as well as the houses ruled by those planets, and the houses in your natal chart with Sagittarius and Pisces (Jupiter-ruled signs) on the cusp. Which means, of course, this Jupiter Rx is likely to make itself known in several areas of our lives.

A planet going retrograde heralds a process of review and development. As Jupiter first turns Rx, you’ll find there is a shift in the energy and you will be given an opportunity to evaluate and assess as it approaches a trine to the Libran Sun on Monday. As the retrograde progresses, you may find yourself losing enthusiasm, even hope in those areas of your life being affected by this transit. When this happens, look closely at your personal values and beliefs, and what might be challenging your sense of integrity. Jupiter Rx gives us the gift of re-assessing certain situations in our lives so we can be sure that we are acting in line with our personal values, and that we are not the victims of conflicting beliefs.

Conflicting beliefs can be found at the root of many, if not most of the problems in our lives. A lot of the beliefs we hold are not really close to consciousness — many were formed in, and carried over from, childhood. As an example, you may believe now with all your heart that you are capable of going back to college and getting a degree (Jupiter rules higher education), but you may still carry repressed beliefs laid on you by bad or misguided teachers or parents in your childhood. You may have heard from them that you are “stupid” or “bad at math” or “a loser”. Unless you uncover, assess, confront and change these beliefs, you may well fail in your educational attempts. So, in this hypothetical situation, the effect of the Jupiter Rx may be to delay your college application process, to give you an opportunity to think about whether starting school and a new job in the same month is a good idea, or if it really is a setup for failure. Or whether or not you want to go for the MBA your mom and dad want you to get when your heart is set on marine biology. We set ourselves up to fail when we let negative beliefs stay hidden while they pull our strings.  

The turning point in this process will happen when Jupiter opposes the Sun early in December, and it is likely that some decision will be made, or a decisive event happen. Then, through December and January, as Jupiter approaches another trine to the Sun a few days before it goes direct January 30th, you’ll set new goals, make revisions, adjust plans to fit and then begin forward motion again. At some point in this rebuilding period, you may find that you need to take a leap of faith to move ahead. Faith — both religious and secular — is ruled by Jupiter. 

The Devil Is In the Details

The second thing to pay attention to with a retrograde is the sign the planet is in. In this Jupiter Rx period is Jupiter is in Gemini, the sign of its detriment, in opposition to the sign it rules. The six oppositional polarities of the signs of the Zodiac are always in elements that are friendly to each other — Fire with Air, Water with Earth — and so I tend to think of the whole rulership/detriment, exaltation/fall designations given to the planets by the ancients as a challenge of integration and synthesis, not judgements of good and bad. With Jupiter in Gemini, one of the challenges is to back up your faith with facts, and to measure your beliefs against reality. Great scientific theories — brilliant leaps of understanding into entirely new territory — are worthless until they are backed up by data that has been meticulously collected and analyzed. Jupiter is the theorizing, Gemini is the data collection and analysis. The broad scope of Sagittarian theorizing must be supported by Geminian facts, and Jupiter is challenged to organize those facts into paradigms that incorporate our deeply-held values. Theories are necessary, but unless they are supported by facts and practical details, they aren’t very helpful.

The retrograde period of a planet is a time of distillation of power, an opportunity to re-assess, re-visit, shift, and change in certain areas of your life. That power can be used or wasted. Your attention to and awareness of the process will determine the outcome. 

As for Saturn in Scorpio -- well, I did mention that in last week's post, and I'll have more to say on it in the weeks ahead.


(P.S -- This  note added later: A few hours after I posted this, I read that Jason Pitzl-Waters has decided to move his blog, The Wild Hunt, back to an independent platform. Here's the whole post.  I can't help but note what a perfect example this is of Jupiter going retrograde in Gemini. A decision about a religious communications outlet, based on Jason's personal values, and a previous decision is  being reconsidered. Then, in 60 days, as Jupiter opposes the Sun, the actual move will take place. A textbook example!)




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Diotima Mantineia began studying astrology in 1968, taking classes from Zoltan Mason in New York City. For the next 22 years, she practiced astrology only for herself and her friends, continuing her studies while watching an increasingly humanistic, psychologically oriented, modern astrology blossom through the work of leading astrologers such as Noel Tyl, Liz Greene, Rob Hand, Marion March, Stephen Arroyo and Howard Sasportas. In 1986, Diotima began her study of Wicca and started reading Tarot, discovering that she is a gifted intuitive. In 1991, she began practicing both astrology and Tarot professionally. She majored in plant and soil science both in college and grad school, and grows much of her own food and "materia magica" on her land in the mountains of western North Carolina. Diotima’s personal spiritual path is rooted in the Western mystery traditions, the principles of Yoga, and a profound connection with the natural world. Wicca gives structure to her spiritual journey, and she utilizes shamanic practices for healing and to live in harmony with Nature. Over 15 years of studying Chinese martial arts has given her a deep appreciation of Taoist thought which has strongly influenced her magical and personal philosophy. You can find her at www.uraniaswell.com


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