Cosmic Talk
July 1999: Summer Eclipses

In This Issue:
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

1)  This Summer's Lunar and Solar Eclipses
      a) The Grand Cross/Grand Square
      b)  July 28 Lunar Eclipse
      c)  August 11 Total Solar Eclipse
      d)  Activation of the Eclipses
2)   May 2000 Planetary Alignment

This Summer's Eclipses
Generally speaking, how have you been feeling lately?  Weary?  Lethargic?  Unmotivated?  Stuck?  Restless?  Confused?  If any of the above adjectives apply to you, you are likely experiencing a sensitivity to the two eclipses which are occurring this summer.  One a lunar eclipse which occurs on July 28th (7:24 am EDT) the other a total solar eclipse occurring on August 11th (7:08 am EDT).

The focus of this newsletter is on the two eclipses occurring this summer.  For a more thorough discussion of eclipses in general, see last July's (1998) release of this newsletter on Lunar Phases.

Keep in mind that the lunation cycle represents the angular relationship of the transiting moon to the sun with reference to the center of the earth.  These phases are interpreted by an astrologer as symbols of the process of personal and universal evolution.  As Dane Rudhyar wrote in his book, The Lunation Cycle: The moon is a means to an end whose function is to cater to the needs of the evolving units constituting collectively the substance of the cycle.  She distributes solar potential and is the servant of both the earth and the sun.  She releases the light of the sun and by so doing serves the need of earth creatures for organic and psychic life.  Therefore, the lunation cycle represents a "cycle of periodic changes."

The reason I've chosen to dedicate this newsletter to a discussion of this summer's two eclipses is two fold: First, a  rather unusual planetary configuration, known as a Grand Cross or Grand Square, is created during both eclipses.  Further, the total solar eclipse on August 11th is the last eclipse to occur in the 20th century.

Before I delve into the specifics of each of these eclipses, I'd first like to address the effects of the key planetary phenomenon active during the eclipses: the Grand Cross/Grand Square.  The Grand Cross/Grand Square is viewed by most astrologer as the most dynamic configuration the planets can form.

Grand Cross/Grand Square

A Grand Cross involves at least four planets and is created with two oppositions square to each other.   This creates a large square configuration across the chart.  Can you picture that?  If you have your natal chart available, you can draw the transiting planets involved into your natal chart to see the square configuration and determine which of your natal planets and houses are influenced by the Grand Crosses I'm about to discuss.

A Grand Cross is a highly dynamic configuration.  The planets involved in a Grand Cross are linked with one another from a defensive position (represented by the squares and oppositions) and hence, do not easily synthesize their energies.  Bill Tierney, in his excellent text entitled "Dynamics of Aspect Analysis" describes the planets as being linked with each other along the line of greatest resistance.  Therefore, as you might imagine, the planets tend to block and restrict one another.  Because the desires of the planets resist integration, they can be quite stubborn and uncompromising in response.

Of course, despite the stress producing nature of this configuration, it has a constructive purpose.  In fact, the great benefit to be gained from a Grand Cross is derived from its dynamically tense nature - Grand Crosses are very difficult to ignore.  If either of these two babies are linked with key planets or points in your natal chart, you aren't any more likely to sleep through their influence as you would be to sleep through a tornado tearing  the roof off your home.  As astrologer Steven Forrest has said, "nothing will so surely get us moving as will the discovery that our foot is in the fire."  Much of the time, the influences of Eclipses and any planetary configurations formed at the time of the eclipse, bring lessons for the collective.  And this summer and for the remainder of the year as we march toward the new millennium, I am of the opinion that we as a collective, have our foot in the fire.

Grand Crosses can be formed in one of three different sign qualities or modes.  (For a discussion of the sign modes, follow this link to an article I've published discussing the Sun, Moon and Ascendant.)  Both of the Grand Crosses formed this summer with the eclipses are in the Fixed Mode (involving the signs Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius).  The Fixed signs all share the common characteristic of sustaining what has already been created.  The requirement of a Fixed Grand Cross is to reorient direction.  As a collective, (as well as for each of us personally), we are challenged to confront and overcome whatever it is that has stagnated and hence is stifling our growth.  Some aspects of the status quo in our lives no longer serves our growth and it is time to identify such elements and make some changes.  (The personal influence is relevant to any planets in your natal chart that are within orb of the Grand Cross,  the houses in your natal chart in which the Grand Cross falls, and the houses ruled by the planets involved.)

I believe this to be a crucial time period for the human collective.  As we journey into the new millennium, the agitation created by this configuration is pressuring us to break down some old structures and replace them with new ones that better serve our needs.  A Fixed Grand Cross highlights attitudes in our individual selves and the collective that have been trouble spots not just in this present time but across history.  These attitudes tend to be very deeply ingrained (i.e. "Fixed") and it will take focused intent to eradicate them.

The response to a Fixed Grand Cross tends to be extreme - either extreme obstinance and/or suppression or extreme assertion/determination or more negatively, aggression.  Because this configuration tends toward extremism, the energy it generates in its most positive form, can bring forth the most compassionate and purposeful expressions.  However, the flip side of that coin is that is can also bring to the surface the most cruel and horrific within the human condition.

The Fixed Grand Cross tends to work out its powerful energies through the ego, creating frustrations that lead to a crisis.  I believe that all of humanity is meant to remember who we really are, exceptional spiritual beings, and to act in accordance with the wisdom afforded in that remembering.  We all need to be on guard for ego's potential for obstinance and self-importance and work at softening our willfulness and increasing our tolerance for differences.

July 28 Lunar Eclipse at 4 degrees Aquarius fifty eight minutes (~5 degrees Aq)
This lunar eclipse occurs at 7:24 am EDT.  The Grand Cross involves the Moon in Aquarius conjoined (merged) with Neptune opposing the Sun conjoined with Mercury in Leo.  This opposition is square both Mars in Scorpio and Jupiter in Taurus (Mars opposing Jupiter).

Common keywords given for lunar eclipses are: culminating, reaping, harvest, and letting go.  Certainly a lunar eclipse can be considered to be a time of culmination for it represents that period during the Moon's cyclic relationship with the Sun when things are fully illuminated (the full Moon).   If growth and liberation from the no-longer-useful remains of the past has been sown over the preceding months, the time of a lunar eclipse can bring fulfillment.    It can also bring disappointment.  Importantly though, whether there is fulfillment or disappointment, (often a little of both!) the Lunar Eclipse represents a time when we are meant to have revelations and important "Aha's!"

The Lunar Eclipse presents an opportunity for clear seeing and illumination.  If things aren't quite as we hoped, the most constructive response is to focus on solutions.  A challenge at the Lunar Eclipse is to avoid the tendency to fall into mind-heart and ego-spirit conflicts - that is, with awareness, we can avoid getting snared by the pull of the opposites (the Moon is sitting opposite the Sun in the sky at the Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse).  If things aren't to our liking, the Lunar Eclipse illuminates this clearly for us.  It heralds a time for new vision, renewed purpose and the tearing down of antiquated shells.

A Lunar Eclipse in the sign of Aquarius can indicate that our emotional responses lack predictability.  It can also mean that we are able to be more emotionally detached and objective.  It's an excellent time to draw upon Aquarian humanitarian instincts and seek original and innovative solutions.  If the harvest isn't as bountiful as we'd hoped, it's time to think about planting a new type of crop.

Looking specifically at the Grand Cross created with the eclipse Sun and Moon, the Mars opposition to Jupiter can be really beneficial if we are aware of both our priorities as well as our limitations.  The danger with this combination is impulsiveness, overextending ourselves, or believing ourselves invincible.  Two quotes encapsulate the potentially positive effect of this  opposition very well:

The secret of doing is knowing when to not-do  Carlos Castanada

Humans are pushed from below by their drives (Mars) but pulled from above by their striving for meaning (Jupiter).   Victor Frankl

The transiting Mercury opposition to Neptune which is conjoined with the eclipse Sun and Moon highlights  the need and inherent challenge to have the willingness and self-honesty to see clearly.  Both Mercury and Neptune delight in playing tricksters at times and together they can take flights of fancy.  Confusion can be marked with this combination. As can inspiration.  Further, at the eclipse, both Mercury and Neptune are retrograde (remember the discussion of retrograde planets in the April '98 release of this newsletter?  Also, for a thorough discussion of Mercury retrograde, I've published an article on-line).  Watch any temptation you might have to stretch the truth as well as the proclivity toward inventing more satisfying versions of reality.  Consciously state your intent to "see clearly."  The lesson of this opposition is to balance logic and intuition and to work at making conscious the unconscious.  We want to watch for being  fooled into believing that rational thought is contradictory to compassion.

With Mercury square to Mars be wary of the proverbial foot in the mouth or unawarely biting off the hand that feeds you.  With Mars square both the Sun and the Moon as well, moods can be irritable, caustic, impulsive, and quarrelsome.  There is a lot of warrior energy in the air and to the less conscious, that may equate to looking for a fight.

With Neptune's square to Mars, you have the grand opportunity to be the spiritual warrior, acting assertively while compassionately aligned with the wisdom you have.  Actively  seek deeper levels of understanding and insight.  The primary challenge? To recognize I am (Mars) a powerful Spiritual Being (Neptune).  We want to watch ego's tendency to inflate and distort this message and to convince itself that  "I can do no wrong," or "I am all knowing."  Humility is the challenge.

The square between Jupiter to the Sun, Moon, Mercury and Neptune can indicate a time of insightful dreams, enhanced intuition, greater appreciation for the benefits of diversity, and an increased creativity and sensitivity.  It is a good time to take risks with creative self-expression and to allow people to see more of the real you!  Jupiter tends to amplify whatever it contacts, indicating the potential for idealistic aspiration and prophetic dreams when it links up with Neptune conjoined the Moon.  Profound changes, however subtle, in humanity's level of awareness are possible - but so can an equally subtle getting carried away with self-deception.

The lunar eclipse is also very tightly forming an inconjunct or quincunx to Venus, which is traveling at a much slower pace than is normal for her on July 28th (because of her station retrograde on July 29th about 9:30 pm EDT).  Venus stations at five degrees of Virgo, the sign of her fall.  I believe Venus might play a very key role during this time period, as her station direct on September 9th is conjoined the August 11th Solar Eclipse degrees.  The inconjunct/quincunx is an aspect of adjustment or changing direction and with Venus involved, the implied challenge is to modify our relationships and relating patterns so that they are more aligned with our needs and values.  Venus governs all relationships and diplomacy, seeking to balance and harmonize.  Both in the sign of her fall and retrograde, it can be a challenge to overcome lethargy and passivity or the proclivity to sweep important issues under the carpet in the name of "cooperation."  We also must watch any tendency to make a "big deal" of the petty and superficial.

To add further complexity, at the time of this eclipse, Saturn in Taurus is in square aspect to Uranus, further emphasizing the inherent challenge at this period in history  to first identify and then tear down atrophying  structures that no longer serve us.  Many of you may be aware that Saturn and Uranus are not usually considered "buddies."  Saturn oversees social conventions - and as Astrologer Liz Greene points out, conventions often sustained for no better reason than "That's the way it's always been..."  Saturn's conventions don't readily evolve with the growth of human consciousness but tend to stagnate in forms that have long ago outlived any meaningful purpose.  This is of course not Saturn's function, but it does tend to be Saturn's effect, usually in the name of tradition, stability, order and security.

Uranus, in contrast, is symbolically related to our need to free ourselves from trappings - to decondition ourselves from meaningless conventions that have been upheld because they once were workable or significant.  Uranus has rulership over electricity and its effects are often felt to be similar to being struck by a lightning bolt.  As one of the outer planets, Uranus is an impersonal energy.  It's effects tend to be sudden, unexpected, disruptive, eccentric and erratic - getting the picture?  Uranus' chaotic influence is meant  to bring about events that shatter Saturn's facades of safety, security, order, and stability.

There's no planet so devoted to waking up the asleep as is Uranus.  Saturn rules over our dualistic reality and Saturn's  structures tend to be very convincing evidence that there is truth in separateness.  Uranus represents the idea of the group as a whole that is held united by the contribution of its independent members.  The challenge when these two planets link up is to develop more group consciousness.  "How can I most creatively contribute to the best interest of the whole?"

Uranus desires to free us from anything that limits the full development and expression of our nature. Think about it, who's the prime culprit here?  Saturn's structures and conventions which are imposed by the collective society or "system," tend to be the primary restricting offenders.  Uranus tears down what Saturn once built. Sometimes quite rebelliously so.  In Steven Forrest's words, Uranus forces us to "grapple with the effects of history and culture" and examine where our "own addiction to the status quo and the pride we take in maintaining it, have resulted in a submission to the herd instinct," rationalizing how it serves our best interest to do so.

I've concluded that these influences indicate the need to release ourselves from a past that has become irrelevant to us.  A lunar eclipse highlights this need for us, by shining a spotlight on particular houses and planets in our natal chart.  The emphasis on Uranus, who rules the sign of Aquarius where the eclipse occurs, emphasizes the Uranian influence which speaks of the need to reinvent ourselves.  The road we've been traveling isn't going anywhere any of us wants to go.   The Lunar Eclipse affords us the opportunity to see this clearly.  Course alterations are necessary in order that we might take advantage of the potential offered by the total Solar Eclipse in August: the opportunity to travel truly inspired into the new millennium.

Solar Eclipse - August 11th - 18 degrees Leo 21 minutes
The August 11th solar eclipse occurs at 7:08 am EDT.  The Grand Cross is created by the Sun conjoined Moon in Leo opposing Uranus in Aquarius,  square to both Mars and Saturn.  Mars is in Scorpio opposing Saturn in Taurus.

Keywords for solar eclipses are: planting seeds, new beginnings, new birth and initiation.  The Solar Eclipse presents opportunities for structuring or concretizing the clear seeing vision which was formulated at the Lunar Eclipse.  A Solar Eclipse in Leo tends to lend vigor, dramatics, and dignity (or pridefulness) to its expression.  With Jupiter as subruler (by nature of its rulership over the second decan of Leo), this particular solar eclipse is flavored with expansiveness.  Again, a danger with Jupiter is the potential for overdoing and promoting excesses.  

The eclipse opposition to Uranus stresses the importance of integrating humanitarian impulses, group consciousness, and attunement to universal laws.  The danger is in confusing the personal will with the universal will, and allowing our egos to convince us that we are the sole voice of truth.  Further we must be cautious about self-righteously imposing our desires, opinions and beliefs upon other people.  It is important to live the integrity of our beliefs while remaining open to the possibility that there are other, equally valid ways of living lovingly in the world.

Find out the truth of your own highest and inmost existence and live in it, not following any external standards.  Mahatma Gandhi

Come to a limit and transcend it.  Our only security is our ability to change.  John Lilly

The Mars opposition with Saturn is a planetary configuration that has formed several times since January of this year.  The first time these two planets danced in opposition was on January 17th, at the time of the new moon at 27 degrees of Capricorn.   At that time, Mars was in Libra and Saturn in Aries (both planets none too delighted  in their sign placements - Mars in the sign of its detriment and Saturn in the sign of its fall) both square the New Moon (creating a stressful configuration called a T-square).  I find it rather interesting that this opposition is once again in effect and linked with the lunar phase only six months later.  The benefit is that this time, Saturn and Mars are in signs more to their liking.

Saturn is no more friendly toward Mars than he is toward Uranus.  Mars is fiercely independent and Saturn has erected all sorts of structures which Mars finds enormously agitating.  Mars' approach to this is to attempt to plow right through them - a tactic that rarely works on the first try when it's formidable Saturn that Mars is attempting to defeat.  No question that when Mars triggers key planets and points in the natal chart by transit, it is a call to action.  What we are required to do is recognize our goals and desires and choose our battles consciously.

When Saturn and Mars face off,  it can lead to excessive physical strain as well as bone breakages, head injuries, chronic illnesses, cuts and burns and accidents of all sorts.  (It depends on the natal houses these two planets are in and which houses they rule in your natal chart.)  Of course, it doesn't have to be a nasty time - but the Columbine incident as well as the war in Kosovo is an excellent example of the type of  influence this pair can have when they each dig their heels in.

Mars is a warrior, often impulsively so, and often forgetting to pick his battles and weapons carefully.  No question Saturn erects some mighty tall walls constructed of solid steel or concrete - walls that are none to easy to tear down even after it is realized that such structures no longer serve any useful purpose whatsoever.  Mars is not misguided in his attempts to bring them down.  But what Mars sometimes fails to notice is something Steven Forrest states eloquently in his book, "The Changing Sky": "While Saturn's walls are high, they are none too wide - we can go around them - but only if we alter the course of the road and adapt to changing circumstances."  In speaking of Saturn, Forrest also states, "Orchestrating some kind of collision with reality is always Saturn's way.  His strategy is to rely on our stubbornness and inflexibility, to depress and devitalize us, thereby trapping us in our narrow, sorrowful subjectivity, robbing us of the energy we need to face that reality effectively.  Saturn's dark art lies in deceiving us into believing that we have painted ourselves into a corner - and thereby drawing our attention away from the fact that we have sprouted wings and ought to be concentrating on learning to fly."  Thank you, Steven!  I could not have stated it better myself.

This Grand Cross which is created at the final solar eclipse of this century is providing humanity as a whole and each of us individually, the opportunity to alter our paths and forge new ones as we march into the 21st century.  We must see clearly the reality of what we have created as a collective (Saturn's demand), allow the spiritual warrior in each of us to arise (Mars) forge a new path and plant new seeds (the Solar Eclipse) and free ourselves of anything that limits the full development and expression of our essential dignity (Uranus).

Activation of the Eclipses
An eclipse sensitizes the particular degrees of the zodiac in which they fall.  Therefore, as the transiting planets travel over the eclipse degrees, the eclipse energies are activated, both several months prior to the actual eclipse as well as up to a year afterward.  Keep in mind that the activation of the Lunar Eclipse (4-5 degrees of the fixed signs of Taurus, Leo, Aquarius and Scorpio), relates to conclusions, release and culmination, the need for clear seeing and the formulating of a new vision.  The activation of the Solar Eclipse, (18 degrees of the fixed signs) relates to the planting of new seeds and making a fresh start.  Below is a listing of the transiting planets that I suspect have and will play a key role in activating the energies of these two eclipses.

The activations have been listed back to January of this year.  Sometimes a retrospective outlook assists with understanding how the energies are at work in your own life.  It might be of interest to note that the lunar eclipse has been activated many times prior to the actual eclipse, but there have not yet been any such dynamic activations of the solar eclipse degrees.  Is this a signal that we have been given lots of opportunities already this year to seek closure, make changes and release the irrelevant in the status quo?  I think so!

Lunar Eclipse activations:
Mars at 4-5 Scorpio forms square to eclipse degree from 2/8-2/12/99
Mercury stations at 4 Aries on 3/10/99, forming a sextile and trine to the lunar eclipse
Neptune at 4 Aquarius, conjunct the eclipse degree, at its station on 5/6
Saturn  at 4-5 Taurus, square the eclipse degree from 4/6-4/22
Mars retrograde at 4-5 Scorpio square the eclipse degree from 7/16 - 7/20
Jupiter at 4 Taurus at it's station on 8/25 is square the eclipse degree
Venus at 5 Virgo, forming an inconjunct to the eclipse at her station on 7/30
Mars at 4 Aquarius, conjunct the eclipse from 12/2-12/4

Solar Eclipse Activations
Jupiter at 18 Aries trine the eclipse degrees 4/29-5/6 (This is the only major pre-eclipse aspect and the trine represents the lack of resistance and an easy flowing of energy)
Venus at 18 Leo is conjunct the eclipse degrees at her station direct on 9/9
Mars at 18 Capricorn inconjunct the eclipse degrees from 11/9-11/12
Mercury forms a station at 15 Scorpio, within orb of activating the eclipse in November.  Mercury is within orb from 11/17-12/2
Mars at 18 Aquarius opposing the solar eclipse from 12/19-12/21

The May 2000 Planetary Alignment
This has been an alignment I've heard some speak of with fear, and even refer to as Armageddon.  Perhaps this is so because the fixed signs in which this summer's Grand Crosses occur,  are believed to be the four beasts of the Apocalypse referenced in the Biblical Book of Revelations.  Personally, I don't believe engendering fear reaps the sort of results desired, because the human inclination is to deny, avoid confronting, or to suppress fears.  I counsel awareness and the courage to confront fears and certainly believe this can be a powerfully transformative and healing time for humanity if we heed the significations with loving intent.

I  do sense this alignment to be of significance for easily substantiated reasons, but I don't expect the end of the world.  A reorganization maybe, but not its end. 

In the wee hours of the morning of May 3, 2000, the transiting Moon moves into Taurus, joining the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.  Just after midnight EDT on May 4, 2000, there is a New Moon at 14 degrees of Taurus conjoined with Jupiter and Saturn while opposing Uranus and activating the August 11th Solar Eclipse degrees within an orb of four degrees.  We all need to have a vision for what we'd like to create between now and then,  in clear awareness of the potential ways we can trip-up or delude ourselves.

Venus rules the sign of Taurus, emphasizing her influence and the need for creating greater balance and harmony in our world with more respect for nature.  Characteristic of the sign Taurus is purposeful action, steady drive, patience, endurance and determined effort.  Taurus is not easily discouraged by difficulties and it wears down obstacles by refusing to yield or turn back.  The symbol for Taurus is the bull, its glyph the bulls head, and "bull-headedness" can be marked in this sign - it lacks flexibility and finds it difficult to restructure its plans and actions around changing circumstances.  All of these Taurean traits can be either our collective and personal strengths or our Achilles heel - a good deal of awareness about what we are attempting to create or sustain and what is motivating our decisions and actions is needed.   We can be thankful that Uranus is forming a square to t his Taurean planetary line-up next May, demanding flexibility as well as a de-conditioning of ourselves from the past.

The sign Taurus falls on the 2nd house of the natural zodiac.  The 2nd house relates to survival, resources, values, self-worth and security.  Therefore, these are focused issues and the concern for stabilizing our world could be an issue.  However, Uranus' involvement is suggesting that our stability is no longer to be found in the status quo of what once might have served us well but instead in our ability to restructure our foundations in accordance with the needs and values of this time period in history.

The 2nd house and Taurus, by nature of following the 1st house and Aries (the sign and house of initiation and new beginnings) represents the time period when we may have a failure of nerve to follow-through on what has already been initiated.  A downfall can be to look back at the security of the past with longing even if that past was a miserable one.  However, we can't turn back - that's built into the 2nd house too - we must follow through on what we initiated: our vision for the future.

The planetary alignment in Taurus suggests that our security will be derived by establishing a new resource base - both individually and collectively and  inwardly and outwardly (i.e. attitudinal changes and value reorientation is suggested) - and that it be a  resource base that is appropriate to our new circumstances.  Importantly, we must not allow the Taurean Achilles Heel of lethargy and passivity to prevent us from making a needed change.

In summary, Taurus seeks peace, ease, simplicity and has a reverence for all that is natural.  Venus, ruler of Taurus, seeks to restore balance, harmonizing the warring factors that exist both within our psyches and which tend to manifest as outer circumstances.  Venus is a key activator of both eclipse degrees and hence a key planetary player in the coming months.  Let us all make Venus' goal prominently personal.  Our security  as we journey into the 21st century is in valuing our ability to see the truth of what is and our conviction to create a better world for ourselves and the generations of humanity to come.

Grace be yours,

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