An Artist's Journey Through the Zodiac

to be read while viewing each zodiac image (visit “store” to view the collection)

by Sam Ogden

Understanding and conveying the underlying operations of astrology is a quest many people have attempted.  It is arguable that the exact way astrology works may never be fully grasped, but its general outline may be tenable.  In an attempt to explore this mystery, I have produced a body of hand drawn images that seek to evoke the deeper essences of western astrology’s twelve zodiac signs.  The process was one of quieting the rational, problem-solving mind and sitting in a state of receptivity: a body meditation moving through my hands.  Inspired mental images flashed while in this state and were recorded in a sketchbook before refining as final pieces.  The drawings were completed over the course of a month in early 2017 and continue to reveal new glimpses of the pervasiveness of the zodiac in everyday life.  The design of these twelve drawings, though somewhat curated to evoke specific themes and impressions, are open-ended enough for spontaneously realizing different and relevant perspectives of each sign. 

The basic structure in each zodiac drawing uses the imagery of what has been called the cross of matter: a horizontal line intersecting a vertical line.  The cross’s deeper meaning is often forgotten and underappreciated.  In astrology it is a fundamental symbol which we can see immediately through the equinoxes and solstices.  Because these four events initiate the seasons, their cross symbolizes “the beginning.”  It is an image expressing the origins of earthly creation, the first axes of life itself. 

Taking these axes one at a time, we begin with the horizontal line which we stand on every day: the horizon.  Above the horizon is the realm of spirit and below it is the realm of incarnation and matter.  The astrological horizon (the ascendant) indicates where and how these two realms meet.
The vertical line refers to intensity.  The meridian as a vertical line makes the directions east and west.  It is what determines whether something is rising (vitality through isolating and focalizing) or setting (vitality through immersing and coalescing).  The noon-time Sun maximizes the splendors of solar vitality and contact with divine will, while the midnight Sun gathers in universal powers and ancient pasts. 

In the chapter A Key to Astrological Symbolism from Dane Rudhyar’s first major work, The Astrology of Personality (Aurora Press, 1936), he writes that the horizontal line is one of consciousness and the vertical one of power (1):

This horizontal line of the birth-chart represents thus the fact of a necessary division of consciousness in two realms, for any individual living on the Earth’s surface. (p. 149)

The abstract line connecting the two poles of the Earth is the axis of rotation of our planet.  This axis is thus to be considered as the ‘center’ of the daily-rotation cycle.  As already mentioned, this polar axis symbolizes the line of power of the planet, just as the human spine represents the line of power of the human being.  This ‘power’ is the power to be an individual self, an ‘I.’ (p. 148)

These concepts of power and consciousness as Dane Rudhyar puts forth are part of the inspiration behind my body of original zodiac drawings.  Power and consciousness are interpreted as a cross which is the fundamental visual tactic I used to maintain overall continuity.  Rudhyar’s conceptualization of the zodiac has also been a significant influence in this work. 

Each zodiac phase is related to the ones it precedes and follows and these drawings were created as a whole with this in mind.  For example, a beginning in Aries means there must be something out of which it came – Pisces.  Looking to the drawing of Pisces we see in the center a chrysalis, a womb, and symbolically the birth canal.  This shape is rotated at the bottom representing the eternal void, the poverty of God, into which is drawn all the powers built up by humanity which release in the final decomposing of a cycle.  This process is seen in the crumbling buildings behind the focal point of the womb image.  Elevated behind all of this is a figurative Sun, evoking the salvation and redemption Pisces hopes for while standing bare at the threshold of a new cycle.
In the Aries drawing, we see the cardinality of the sign in the upper solar disc as it battles its way out of the womb and the decaying remains of the night-dominant time of Pisces, represented in the lower black sphere.  The solar disc is still young and uncertain, however.  He has only just begun the journey.  He does not yet know what it really means to be an individual, for he has just come from fusion with the mother, chaos, and emptiness.  But battle onward and outward he must.  Rising to his ascendancy is the destiny of his character- the Summer solstice. 

In the Taurus piece, the fixity of this earth sign comes to us in the centrality impressed upon the viewer through two overlapping hexagons, the top of which doubles as a cube.  Hexagons are the most efficient use of space and are used to build a beehive out of the Taurean crust of the Earth.  This is the home of pollinators aggressively working for the nectar of the Spring time effulgence, through which moves the primal solar power initiated from the previous Aries phase.  The viewer is encouraged to find the “horns” of the bull (hint: the thick black lines are the outer edges).  These “horns” were not consciously intended to be drawn, but were revealed retrospectively by a friend who is himself a native Sun in Taurus. 

Gemini expands the days which are now reaching their maximum height in the solar year.  But that light which extends outward and upward in every direction does so from within a polarized framework (Aries-Taurus).  Gemini learns to see things in contrast and in what they mean to Gemini personally.  It is here that impressions of the living are made upon the malleable nervous system of a growing adolescent who learns right from wrong, what is polite and what is rude.  But the growing light does not shine beneath the horizon.  Gemini is only interested in expanding into the realm of the living; there is no time to turn back towards the past. 

But Gemini cannot continue expanding the days forever.  Youthful abandon must pause at some point and begin integrating what is outside of itself if there is to be any kind of rootedness, any sense of wholeness of itself.  Day and night pause at the Summer solstice which begins the Cancer phase.  The nights start to grow for the first time since Sagittarius.  The night as the matriarchal force of universal consciousness symbolically erupts into individualized consciousness at the Summer solstice, seen in the dark vertical line and the vulnerable crescent in the Cancer drawing.  This eruption of universal consciousness into individualized consciousness is the surfacing in Cancer of strong feelings and intuitions, of psychic visions and even revelations. 

Feelings initiated in the cardinal sign of Cancer turn potent in Leo and become emotion: feelings in motion.  Leo is the home of the Sun, when Summer burns at its greatest intensity in August in the northern hemisphere.  He contains within him the greatest amount of Sun from the previous Cancer phase.  This is expressed in the center of the Leo drawing as a concentrated center of solar power with orbital bodies, and resembles the astrological glyph for the Sun.  Though the days burn their brightest in Leo who is full of himself, the nights are growing and he must continue to turn towards it, the collective.  The best way Leo can do this is through art and creative activity which is socially useful because it generates commerce.  

But the artist cannot give forever.  By the time we reach Virgo the artist has exhausted his personal resources and comes to realize that it is possible to overdo things.  Virgo must learn efficiency and she must learn how to repolarize her nervous system, for there are emotional blocks and excesses disrupting her natural flow of life energies.  The repolarization of her mind is seen in the two upper spheres representing the hemispheres of the brain.
Libra begins at the Fall equinox when the nights just barely overcome the days.  In the Libra drawing the center Earth-sphere emphasizes “above the horizon” and “below the horizon” and draws into itself the light from the previous day-dominant time of Virgo.  In this way the drawing also shows the scales, which are for carefully measuring and weighing situations, events, and characters relative to the social or global whole. 

While Libra initiates a collective destiny on the basis of social ideals and group harmony, Scorpio concentrates social forces and seeks identification with them.  The star at the top of the drawing represents the days which are waning.  The large white sphere at the bottom stands for the burning intensity and personal-social destiny Scorpio feels it must live out or fulfill.  The black sphere in the center is the night: social-collective forces with which Scorpio must merge.  It is also the possibility, latent in all people, to turn to criminal behavior as a result of society thwarting individual potential for influence at the social level.   The nights (commerce, business, spiritual communities) are growing towards ultimate fulfillment and perfection in Capricorn, two signs ahead.  In Scorpio we see the building power which will (or will not) maintain the social structures erected now through Capricorn. 

While we saw the Autumn season operating at its greatest depth and intensity in the fixed sign of Scorpio, we see the nights expanding to their maximum in mutable Sagittarius.  The days shrink to their minimum: individual egos are miniscule in this phase.  This is reflected in the center sphere of the Sagittarius drawing.  But it also acts as the channel through which the power of night-force structures from Scorpio (business, commerce, the destiny of a people) expand into greater forms of utility and organization.  Sagittarius is a time of religious fervor, passion for quests, scientific and philosophical thought, and the making of an efficient social web.  A Sagittarian may put others before himself, but he does not lose his center nor his ground, lest he be constantly pulled into psychedelic trips of consciousness, mystical inclinations, and mythic i

That pull into the night force, the expansion through social-collective powers, must at some point cease.  This is symbolized at the Winter solstice which begins Capricorn, the longest night of the solar year when all motions pause and for the first time since Gemini the days begin to lengthen.  The days being the shortest they ever will is seen in the light crescent emerging out of the black sphere.  Capricorn’s opposite, Cancer, has a black crescent open and vulnerable to the realm of spirit, while Capricorn has a white crescent enclosed within the structures built up by individuals: walls which define territories and personalities, laws to govern a community of many different kinds of people, social and cultural expectations of behavior, one’s “status” within a hierarchy, exchange of resources through agreements.  That white crescent as the return of longer days in Capricorn represents a seminal moment in the destiny of the cycle.  This is because Capricorn is a divine promise (a seed) within the womb of the totality of humanity, hence the emphasis on the infantile white crescent with a hard outer casing.  A king is born in Bethlehem; this is the future promise of new life in Spring.

In the Aquarius piece we see an increase in the days from Capricorn while the nights are decreasing.  It was not the intention to draw Aquarius as a dandelion, and I never saw it as such until viewers began mentioning it.  A fascinating connection to the dandelion came a year after creating this piece when listening to a recording of Dr. Liz Greene’s lectures on Carl Jung’s Red Book organized through the Faculty of Astrological Studies.  In it, she speaks of a drawing in Jung’s Red Book featuring a dandelion and the Latin word “solitudo,” meaning individual essence and uniqueness.  Dr. Greene describes the dandelion as a promiscuous plant that spews seeds everywhere without pollination, a seed in the midst of a sea of other seeds breeding everywhere.  While this imagery is, in part, much more appropriate for Leo, Aquarius’s opposite, there is in Aquarius something of an organic compulsion from the driving force of evolution to promulgate that genuine solitudo and for it to be prolific and ineradicable.  Aquarius is a concentrated release of both social powers and individualism in and through civilized life.  And because Aquarius wishes to cease at all costs the notion that one is merely a cog in the wheel of an obsolete machine, it may crack the walls of the Capricorn era.  Just as the dandelion pours open its flowers to the rays of the Sun, so too does Aquarius wish to pour new solar life into old and outworn forms that need improvement.  In addition, the seed stage of a dandelion (and Aquarius has been called a “seed” sign, a sign of vitalized potentials) has extending from its core many vertical lines of power- many individuals who contain within them the raw and fertile seed-power required for new changes to the world.  Eventually there is a change to existing social structures which were built through Scorpio, expanded in Sagittarius, and maintained in Capricorn.  They become vitalized and/or transformed in Aquarius and lead to a decomposing and repolarizing in Pisces before the cycle initiates again through the new life of Spring in Aries. 

Each drawing has its discrete qualities yet impacts the next phase, all of which are driven forward by the animating forces of light and life.  The attempt in this body of work is to use abstract visuals to evoke from “beneath the horizon” the ways in which power and consciousness as a unit express through the zodiacal cycle on Earth.  The real beauty is not in the images themselves, but in the spontaneous insights gleaned upon viewing each piece.  What do you see?

1 Dane Rudhyar, The Astrology of Personality (Aurora Press, 1936), 148-14

On Retrogrades

By Sam Ogden

What is a retrograde?

A retrograde is an apparent phenomenon of celestial movement as seen from our point of view on Earth.  The planets have different rates of motion and from here it appears that Mercury (and all our other planets excluding Sun and Moon) have occasional periods where they move in the opposite direction of the Sun and Moon’s apparent motions along the ecliptic (path of the Sun).  The Sun never retrogrades because relative to Earth it is the unmoving center.  The Moon never retrogrades because it orbits the Earth, which is its “unmoving” center despite Earth having its own orbit about the Sun.  At certain points in Earth’s orbit, Mercury, for example, will appear from Earth to retrogress, or move backwards.  The planet does not actually move backwards in space. 

The commonly used terms “station retrograde” and “station direct” are important to note.  A retrograde station refers to the day when the given planet has appeared to completely stop in the sky just before it begins moving backwards.  A direct station refers to the day it stands still just before moving forward or direct. 

When a planet stations retrograde it is the beginning of the retrograde cycle. If we use Mercury as an example, at this point it has risen from the setting Sun and is thus identified as a “setting star” because it appears near the horizon shortly after sunset.  When the retrograde ends, Mercury has become the morning star, so called because it rises before the Sun at sunrise.  Mercury is never more than twenty-eight degrees from the Sun.  This means that the maximum space possible between the two can reach only as far as signs adjacent to one another on the zodiac wheel. 

Astrological Retrogradation And Its Implications In Different Zoidia
It has been said that a planet in direct (forward) motion directs its symbols outward, while a planet who is retrograde has turned itself inward.  Though simplified, this is a decent place to begin a more nuanced approach to the entire cycle between Mercury, the Sun, and Earth.  When interpreting any planetary retrograde it is important to remember that it is the relationship of three distinct bodies which give us the retrograde phenomenon. 

If you imagine walking forward then having to walk backward but without turning around, you can see how disorienting and possibly dangerous it could be.  While walking forward is easier because you can see what is ahead, stepping backwards (safely, at least) demands trust, caution, and a visual recall of your path and surroundings.  Walking forward is direct and carefree- we take for granted our surroundings and our own capacity to reflect.  Walking backwards is to embrace what has been forgotten, ignored, and taken for granted, which first becomes possible through deeper personal processes like retrospection.

Mercury receives some fundamental qualities by his relationship with the Sun.  When his retrograde begins he reaches his maximum elongation East of the setting Sun.  He has reached a degree of fullness in terms of a particular accumulation of particular information and experiences. He retires with ruminations on his small morsels of wisdom, a thing he has strained after.  He is now the setting star and it is more in his character to value time for retrospection, accounting, and considerations than when he is the morning star, eagerly racing ahead of his self (the Sun).  The middle of the retrograde is the apparent conjunction of Mercury and the Sun who burns him and who together begin the second half of the cycle as seen from Earth.  Mercury is then transformed as the morning star- occidental, or West, of the rising Sun.  As the morning star, he is unknowingly at the command of the deeper motives of his soul and nervous system, finding himself caught up in situations seemingly for surface-level reasons. He has light and quick feet when he sees signs of the momentum of the past and his own actions catching up to him.  He sends and receives messages freely and treats his contacts with a peculiar abandon, his feet never in one place for too long.  The first half of the cycle often deals with the beginning of a subcutaneous churn of the recent past.  The second half is about addressing the situation from an individually-oriented center and usually brings about an emergence of something relatively new (or renewed) whose personal meaning must take precedence due to its demand (even if subtle, denied, or ignored).  All of these phases often parallel closely the zodiac sign(s) in which Mercury retrogresses. The cycle nears its end when Mercury slows down as he reaches his maximum elongation East of the setting Sun, showing signs for the coming direct station.

As said before, when a planet is retrograde the motion of its symbols turns backward and inward.  For a person who is born under Mercury’s retrograde, the backward and inward direction can show up as reserve and careful calculation, a facile use of intuitive and feeling-based faculties, a lack of awareness around how open the verbal floodgates can be, a sensitivity to (and even repudiating of) one’s own feelings.  This last one can lead to fixating oneself about rationality because as one must come to grapple more consistently with the outside “rational” world with all its civil customs and laws, the indirect and circuitous nature of one’s retrograde Mercury must constantly exert energy to adjust. The ancients regard retrograde planets to be less operable, which can lead to the planet’s functions being stuffed away, silently protected or worse, imprisoned by one’s own will.  But that also means avoiding deeper issues, gifts, and rewarding relationship growth.  Because Mercury is a planet which deals with the foundational faculties and tools that help form one’s identity from such an early age (speech, word associations, use of hands, comprehending one’s sense of environments), much of the way Mercury expresses depends on other planetary and celestial factors. 

One of these factors is the zodiac sign in which Mercury is positioned at any given time. In ancient Hellenistic astrology Mercury belongs to both the day and the night sects and thus makes him versatile and adaptable.  Gemini and Virgo are the “places” or homes of Mercury, and their opposites (Sagittarius and Pisces, respectively) are where Mercury is in detriment or exile, the furthest place from home. In Gemini, Mercury makes rapid and lucid thinking often with a clever sense of humor.  In Virgo, he analyzes for the effective place and application of moving parts and pieces (even emotions!).  His nervousness to experience disorder imposes upon him to clarify what works and what doesn’t.  In Sagittarius, Mercury can be manic with visions that bring him to great mental heights, but is less grounded and intolerant to a fault.  Because of this he finds little interest in the mundane and from his heights aggressively meets eye-to-eye with common people.  In Pisces, Mercury makes great effort against the flow of emotions which battle his rational mind.  He is scattered by his feeling sense of a constant underlying duality and overlap of chaos-peace.  He can be xenophobic while simultaneously pressuring into inclusivity, and though he knows classification is useless he also knows it must somehow be used.

These are examples of only four of the twelve signs; each sign has a unique disposition so in them Mercury’s retrograde brings out different meanings.  The retrograde colors the period of time with that sign whose latent qualities are ripe to emerge.  Themes of both planet and sign appear in attempts to address specific issues.  These issues are really particular areas of life experience and are usually denoted by the natal house placement of the transiting retrograde.  The alignments Mercury makes with other planets in the sky throughout the retrograde give the entire cycle more detail and can act as guides that point to where in one’s inner world attention or interest should be placed.

Uranus in Aries and Taurus: 2010-2025

Uranus in Aries and Taurus: 2010-2025
by Sam Ogden

Uranus was discovered in 1781 and received its name by a consensus of astronomers on the basis that the existing planets have names according to Greek myth and so they decided to be consistent by naming the next planet further from Saturn as Uranus (Ouranos), who was the father of Saturn in myth. Several astrologers have written and spoken of the discrepancy between the myth of the sky god Ouranos and what in life has been observed as corresponding with the planet Uranus. It has been said, and this I find true as well, that the story of Ouranos has very little resemblance with the particular phenomena corresponding to the transits of Uranus.

In Myth and in Practice
Ouranos in myth is known as Father Sky or Father Heaven in the Greek creation story. He was one of the first creatures born into existence, with the source of his conception varying depending on the myth source. As the story goes, the wife-mother of Ouranos, Gaia, was the mother of their children: most of the Greek pantheon of gods. These children had brought disrespect to Father Sky so to punish them, he sent them to Tartarus, the pits of the earth. Gaia, Mother Earth, resented this and called upon help from her children, which she received only from her son Cronus (Saturn in Roman myth) who envied his father’s power. Gaia brought forth a sickle for Cronus and with this he castrated Ouranos so no more could he reproduce monsters upon the earth- he lost his creative power. Cronus and his sister-wife Rhea became honorable king and queen and from this a golden age, a cornucopia.

This story does not fit at all with what astrologers have observed with the planet Uranus since its discovery. What myth that does fit is the story of Prometheus, whose name translates to “foresight”. He was the seer, the visionary, looking to the future, while his brother Epimetheus was accountant, historian, and logician looking to the past. Prometheus and his brother were both Titans who fought with the Greek gods. Prometheus and Epimetheus were given tasks for the first life on earth. Epimetheus gave qualities to animals while Prometheus shaped the first human beings out of the earth itself. These human beings were unequipped for the elements and Zeus, king of the pantheon, required them to rely upon the gods. Prometheus, with his boundless vision, saw greater things for the humans. Zeus wanted to know how sacrifices would be made for the gods so Prometheus presented Zeus with two vessels, one with the sumptuous meat of a calf hidden under the undesirable belly, and the other with a pile of bones under fat. Zeus of course picked the bowl with the fat and angered by being fooled by Prometheus, forbid the humans any use of fire. Prometheus then climbed Mount Olympus to steal fire and brought it to the humans so they may flourish. As punishment, Zeus had Prometheus shackled to a mountainside, visited daily by a vulture who would eat his liver which would grow back again every night. Even in torture Prometheus stuck to his principles, his decision to liberate the people from their limits set by a greater authority. So, we learn with this story that Prometheus is unconcerned with repercussions from negative authorities and that in the face of oppression or tyranny he is the passion of unquestionable justice for or within a people. Prometheus brings to people a substance which will advance their relationship with the natural world and evolve the consciousness of each individual. It transforms the existing structure of tradition and ignites a new kind of power in each individual and in the collective whole. It brings illumination to the mind which now realizes greater realities. This story much more accurately reflects what has been observed with Uranus transits before and after its discovery. For this article, Uranus should be read as representing Promethean impulses and dramas.

A Cyclic Perspective through Aries and Taurus
The next area of discussion needs to be on the specific zodiacal significance as it relates to Uranus’s transit from 2010 – 2018 and 2018 – 2025. These periods of about seven or eight years has Uranus transiting through Aries and Taurus in the tropical zodiac. From 2010 – 2018 Uranus transited through tropical Aries, the sign beginning the zodiacal cycle and preceding that of Taurus. The importance of “cycle” needs to be emphasized here. What is plausible when Uranus moves through Taurus cannot be speculated upon unless a sincere observation is made on the previous transit of Uranus in Aries. This is because of the phenomena of cycle, where thematic or archetypal phases condition the evolutions of their subsequent ones. We see Aries as one of two starting points in the zodiac system, Capricorn being the other. If Aries is the beginning, out of what is it beginning and where is it going? This is the cyclical question we need to ask in astrology and in ourselves. We must remember the relativity of reality if we are to gain a deeper experience of these archetypal images within a cyclical approach.

The vitality that surges through Aries is dependent upon the assimilation process of the Pisces phase that took place just before. Pisces is the final phase where the crumbling and decomposing of an entire cycle must be met with faith and acceptance. Aries emerges out of a storm of inchoate material and must move, must charge, must conquer. There is no time to look back over the hills laden with storm clouds of the past. It is time to move forward. It has been grossly overstated that Aries is the “sign of the individual”. Many say this but few understand. It may be more accurate to say that Aries is the sign of the impulse which may eventually give rise to individualism, because in Aries that sense of individualism is not yet set. As yet it has no significant root to substantiate itself against the torrents of vernal rains and winds. Aries is but a sprout in the cold, moist decay of ancient pasts, pasts that sometimes behave as a living umbilical cord drawing one back into uroboric stasis. But if the assimilation of the mother’s blood is successful, an undeniable birth takes place in Aries at the vernal equinox when the days now overpower the nights. Having won himself over the weight of his past, Aries is impetuous and unconcerned with the results of his actions. He is boundless just as Prometheus is unconcerned with consequences. The difference here is that Aries by itself as an archetype is not thinking on any developed value system like Prometheus is. Aries is only concerned with unlimited range of motion and the pure vividness that surges through him in any moment he can will himself into being: Aries is about coming into being. Not only this, in Aries are felt new excitements too big to be contained. Or rather, one has no established sense of form of oneself so as to feel as though one can effectively contain the spring-time energy coursing through the blood.

The images found in the combination of Uranus and Aries are historically relevant when looking at a series of events over the globe when Uranus was transiting through Aries from 2010 – 2018. Among many, many planetary alignments and moments that would be impossible to dissect in this eight year period, Uranus’s transit through Aries stands out particularly as unfocused passion erupting in individuals, often youth, who are so energized they become reckless with no sense of how to direct this impulse which we can aptly describe as Promethean. This impulse can be described as Promethean because the deep dissatisfactions and bursts of aggression and violence we see today are so often tied up with social and humanitarian issues. It is important to note that Aries is a deep impulse animating through the remains of a previous cycle. It is a rather unfocused energy with no steering wheel, like Prometheus. We see Uranus in Aries alive and well in the Occupy movement that began in 2011. It is interesting to consider corporations and politicians as Zeus who demands subservience from the people. The intolerance to injustice is clear in the Occupy movement, which might as well be nicknamed the Prometheus movement. In this particular case, the protests are often fraying at the edges and though undeniable, they are Aries-like in their lack of focus. Prometheus has come down from Mount Olympus and placed fire in the hearts of the people who are now stirred and illuminated. The connections to the internet and global awareness are obvious with the Occupy movement also. There have been an overwhelming amount of riots and protests from 2010-2018 resulting in large numbers of deaths and a frightening police state. The Black Lives Matter movement and women’s marches are also emblematic of the Promethean drama. In Aries there is no thought of diplomacy, listening, negotiating, or compromising. Those are all qualities of the opposite sign Libra, which during this time was the furthest place from Uranus and in reality, the shadow of the Uranian placement during those years.

If we proceed with a cyclical approach to the zodiac and the planetary transits through it, the next point of discussion is about what this next Promethean era will bring. What will be the Promethean drama of 2018 – 2025? There can be no certain answer as yet, but looking into the sign of Taurus as well as having a general sense of prominent global trends and issues of this time can give a hint as to what may be expected. First, it should be noted that Uranus is not placed well in Taurus. In other words, this can be a real difficult place for Uranus. Remember that Prometheus is not phased by limits, laws, or hierarchy in the face of injustice. Now, Taurus is not necessarily about laws or hierarchy, but it is about limits. Taurus arrests the Aries desire for pure activity and makes the activity contextually functional and valuable within a larger whole. This is very important to remember because it is where we may see Prometheus providing aid and liberation in the coming years. But it can also show a very real detriment to unfocused action. Taurus is the effulgence of spring time and the mating season, a time of flowers and bees and blooming leaves. We may see Prometheus trying to liberate humanity through the very raw and basic resources on this planet, which may also be the main issue of the drama. Taurus is about the tangible materials that can be made into something useful and purposeful, like the way water can be used to generate electricity or solar panels or wind turbines for the same effect. These are technologies that are born directly of the earth itself. The best way Prometheus will show up is in innovations in management and use of natural resources that do not lead to a depleting of the earth but rather to a regenerative relationship with her. This is the Taurean future envisioned by Prometheus himself. However, the blood passions from the Aries era of 2010 – 2018 have served as a vital beginning for what will soon be arrested and in some way limited or focused on form. Uranus may seek to liberate us from traditional use of money and finances, instituting new forms of currency and financial resource management within the context of a corporation or network of corporations. The forms of these things may be digital with a minimalist aesthetic so as to ensure reliable function.

We can also see that it is clear the trend of news items is increasingly focused on climate and will soon bring a regional or even global focus to the surprises of local weather changes. I see that this will be the main focus through which we see Prometheus acting. While the climate continues to rage on in its own protest and march against industrial humanity, humanity will need to respond functionally as Taurus does. And in Promethean fashion, there will likely be some recurring torture in this vein- hurricanes, clean water access, the oil industry, pollination from bees for food access, deforestation, etc. These are all issues which are likely going to be undeniably at the forefront of humanity’s consciousness in the next seven years and will require a reversal of action from those in power, or a focused and functional storm of individuals who care not what their oppressors could demand in consequence.

At the personal level, this transformative Promethean impulse may correspond with a social trend of opening of hearts of individuals and bring to light taken-for-granted traditions, standards, and stereotypes in relationships. The sheer power invigorated into individuals in the Aries era should now begin to be used in some way, and some may find solace in groups and movements for validating self-worth, for pooling together resources out of choice or because of real necessity. The “gods” may demand more taxes, more regulations, and restrict whatever makes a life enjoyable and pleasing. Taurus is a sign of earth power and Prometheus is the visionary one who acts on behalf of the people.

It is important to remember that this is part of a cycle, and that the fertile soil in which Prometheus plants himself will soon give rise to the Gemini need for connectivity and development of relations beyond blood unity. Humanity may not be swift enough to make serious functional changes in resource use and misuse, and it may not be until Uranus is in airy Gemini who may bring a rapid development of bio-technology that ranges from being ethically questionable to definitively genius.

Mars Retrograde 2018 and Astrology Today

Mars Retrograde 2018 and Astrology Today
by Sam Ogden

When sitting down to begin looking in-depth at a particular planetary transit such as this retrograde of Mars, there quickly surface the different ways in which we can orient our perspective to it.  The first question readers might ask is, what astrological information can we know about this transit?  However, this question already assumes that we know what astrology is, its use, and that both a certain type of astrology and its use will somehow prove to be relevant in today’s many diverse cultures and trends of thought.  There are obviously problems with this statement and thus putting forth a relevant article reviewing the significance of this (and any) planetary transit is not as simple and straightforward as many are lead to believe in what they find in digital media searches. 

In order to get to exploring this Mars retrograde with precision, a somewhat defined stance herein will need to be taken as to what astrology could be in this our 21st century while observing what its use currently potentiates.  The reasoning back of this stance could be expounded upon at length but would likely bore the screen readers of this tech era.  In addition, it would also distract us from the very broad intent of the article’s subject matter.  To avoid both of those issues for the sake of convenience, the following philosophy is brief and incomplete.

What is Astrology?
In order to orient ourselves we should first briefly look at what we could say astrology is.  Its definition is difficult to ascertain because of the many different kinds of astrology used by many people.  We might wonder what astrology is, where it comes from, and how it can be learned and relevant for the present times. 

Information of the 21st century is primarily sought through digital means, and there are plenty of issues in this statement which unfortunately cannot be explored at length here.  In short, this “technologizing” of more things every day makes it nearly impossible for us to develop a significant relationship with raw nature.  Included in the technologizing of nature are the sources for astrological teaching and learning.  Now, some support technology for its revolutionary ability to make universes of information more accessible to those who had otherwise not been able to access it.  In certain ways this is certainly beneficial; it can help the globe hold itself accountable against discrimination and injustice; it can save lives; it can change, mobilize, and empower billions.  But this does not mean technology improves all things.  Learning astrology can be likened to farming, which cannot be done in significance through a screen, ironic as this article is in its attempt to teach.  Those who are serious about learning astrology- who want to sustain a true symbiotic integration of anything related to it- will need to eventually pick up a real book, talk to other astrologers who read real books and who study diverse sources of material, and wait patiently, respectfully, for a possible welcoming from indigenous wisdom keepers.  If a brief definition of astrology can be made without going into much supportive philosophical context, it would be this: astrology is to understand the way of the cycles of life.  What astrology is will never actually change, for it is change in the deepest sense.  Astrology’s definition will change, however, according to particular societies who have a conscious relationship with it and its various types.  This is to say that it is our current relationship with astrology which gives us a definition characteristic of the era in question.

What is astrology used for?
If we observe the areas of technology and digital media, astrology comes as something that has many uses.  There are researchers, bloggers, countless people using video media for horoscopes and like-minded gatherings, and social media users who spread very short phrases that call on the zodiac and other astrological subject matter.  But what is the deeper meaning for the use of astrology in the 21st century?  What is it doing for us in a deeper sense?  It does not seem to be doing much in the way it did before the Sun was discovered as the center of the solar system.  Science claimed its victories over centuries and those discoveries have conditioned us into materialism.

It is very unclear as to if astrology is presently doing anything meaningful for the collective spirit, and this for a number of reasons.  One of these reasons being that astrology existed in all cultures and was integral to their survival for millennia.   Now, with the industrial and technological revolutions, the globe has been changing fast into something as yet unseen.  Astrology has been known to provide certain uses in history, whether it was in the duality of good and bad fortune telling, as a nourishing framework through which a culture was made vital, resilient, and unique, as a way to track floods and droughts.  Our ways of life and values behind it today are very different, so this ancient practice is at once awkward for whoever approaches it because we do not experience life in the same way as those cultures out of whom astrology emerged.  This is a serious problem when confronting the very valid question about use and function of astrology in the 21st century, and it does not appear to have a clear answer for the all too common mind made lazy by convenience of digital computer technology.  Or perhaps astrology does try to answer while under the impersonal and crushing weight of scientific-minded industrial societies.  Despite its relevance in personal development and what Jungian theory calls “individuation”, astrology hangs by a thread today.  People may say it is becoming more popular (again), but is a deeper practice of astrology gaining in popularity?  If we see one type of astrology as being also a lifestyle of observing and participating directly with raw nature, we do not see astrology gaining popularity.  In addition, popularity alone does not account whatsoever for the deeper issue of what astrology is actually doing in significance for the fundamental structures of our societies and cultures.  This question is not asked for an answer.  It is meant to use astrology as a way to more questions because many things in our world today must be questioned, for dominant systems, principles, and desires in our societies are far from honorable.  We might say we know what this planet means in this or that zodiac sign, this aspect of these or those planets, but truly we do not know because we are too cut off from nature as a collective whole to actually know the natural significance of these things as they have been understood for millennia

As you can see there are many issues that exist with our relationship with astrology, and it is my opinion that much of it has to do with the qualities of the “spaces” in which we engage.  It is for this reason that I have chosen to include in this article more than just an interpretation of Mars retrograde.  Part of integrating astrology back into our cultures and societies as something integral to their expression and survival will require us to face ourselves critically and philosophically.  However challenging it might be today to approach and even relate to astrology as we think we know it, we should proceed with it and continue sitting quietly at its altar and sacrifice some offerings of ourselves to its transforming fires.  One of those transforming flames comes through the Mars retrograde this Summer.

The Astrological Mars
In the Tetrabiblos, Ptolemy refers to Mars as masculine, a malefic (producing evil) and dry in temperament.(1)  In Cosmos and Psyche, Richard Tarnas refers to Mars as the “principle of energetic force, the impulse and capacity to assert, to act and move energetically” among other descriptors.(2)  Marc Edmund Jones says Mars “shows the tendency of the life in expressing itself.”  It is “the first impulse of being in all outer revelation of self.”(3)  Dane Rudhyar wrote of Mars as being a desire to move away from the center, which we might also call the ego.(4)  Rudhyar refers to Mars as representing a process within the ego sphere, as a part of ego projection.  This is an interesting way to consider Mars because if we look at the solar system as Rudhyar has proposed, as being itself a personality and the planets as stations along the way towards a realized self, we see the “station” of Mars following the “stations” (life processes) of firstly the lunar sphere, then Mercury, then Venus, then the Sun.(5)  Mars could be said to represent the station which can produce one of two results.  In one instance, Mars can contain one’s values (Venus and Moon) with ease and effectively express them, thereby defining with more qualities the personal characteristics around the ego.  This at once may tear one from the cradling union of the sub-lunar realm, of earth-conditioned living passed on through ethnic or cultural lineage if the action- and therefore the values- make cultural contradictions or uproot their taboos.  In any case, it is Mars who says “here I am.”  

In the other instance, Mars may not be so effective in being able to express one’s inner values and needs, which can lead to Mars being clogged due to the momentum of other supporting energies who, in process towards an expression of the previously mentioned Jungian “individuation”, are now disrupted on the way towards a harmony of the “spirit-in-man,” the Jupiter station which follows Mars.  A clogged Mars is to say that a person has individual issues around what it has been said Mars represents.  Mars relates to the courage to charge ahead, to launch oneself into the unknown, as well as the raw drive in any outgoings.  And because, as it has been stated thus far, Mars roots deep in the human experience, its psychology refers to our instinctual nature and desires.  Mars is the god of war in myth and tells us of the tendency there in every one of us to strike out, to conquer, to snuff the flames of others.  He is often aggressive or when wrapped up in complexes he may be promiscuous, passive aggressive, and full of unexpressed resent.  Mars represents an instinctual desire to reproduce oneself, which demands a kind of figurative phallic quality in its execution- to swell with the warmth of blood-passions, to stand erect as an individual, to be firm with heat!  These things are part of the human experience, but it is not to say war and battle are required.  This is a tricky line to walk, as much of western culture is fraught with “Mars issues”- distortions of an evolution of Mars for centuries, perhaps millennia.  But we do need Mars.  Furthermore, we need today a conscious evolution of what Mars represents in the human experience, for without it there is impotence and regret, if not dictator-like entitlement fed by a self-defeating inner delusion of an external threat to one’s power and autonomy. 

Reproducing oneself does not always mean creating physical offspring.  It means to project one’s energies as a means of propelling oneself into the creative experience of life, and Mars wants to define the existence of its projection in an external product, reaction, or sense of overcoming through concentrating and releasing sheer energy of the self.  And overcoming does not always mean conquering.  Mars is the god of war but he is also the god of establishing oneself by summoning deep inner fire and going forth.  Mars has intentions to define oneself in the type of processes stated above. 

Astrological Retrogradation
A planetary retrograde is an astronomical phenomenon visible from Earth.  Because of the different rates of motion of planetary bodies and their solar orbits, from Earth it appears as if the planets periodically move backwards.  In space they are not actually moving backwards, it is just what we see from our telescopes.  So what might an apparent retrograde imply under the lens of astrology? What does it mean?  If we again call on Rudhyar, he says in his magnum opus The Astrology of Personality that “retrograde planets symbolize the turning back of the libido (psychic energy or life force) from the conscious to the unconscious.”(6)  He speaks of retrograde planets not necessarily losing their energy but that their psychic energies merge with other unconscious contents which later emerge through some other avenue which is already conscious in expression.  He also mentions how retrograde planets, because they refer to the unconscious, may lead us to behavior that surprises us and makes us wonder how it happened or how we reached this place.(7)  It seems a transiting retrograde of a personal planet (Mercury, Venus, Mars, and to a lesser extent Jupiter and Saturn) correlates or is representative of a chance to encompass with consciousness aspects of oneself which have been hidden for whatever reason or otherwise unable to be integrated.  What is curious is that the potential expanding or vivifying of consciousness during the relative time of the retrograde of a personal planet occurs through a characteristically personal meaning-making process which one might associate with the circumstantial context of one’s life.  To experience new meaning that arises through a consciousness change is only a potential during a retrograde, however.  If there is a theme significant enough that one notices it and associates to it a particular event, series of events, or general circumstances, we can safely say that these associated parts are temporally significant.  Enough of a consciousness change may then be an impetus which also reminds in memory the particular significance and meaning of the time. 

And this “meaning” part- how can this vivify one’s consciousness?  Carl Jung was the first to introduce the notion of synchronicity, which is different from the term synchronous.  Jung’s description of synchronicity has been interpreted by many who study his theories.  The mainstream has probably heard of the term but might not know from where the term comes and its actual concept.  If synchronicity is interpreted yet again, we can say that it is at least two events which do not cause one another, which take place at relatively the same time, and whose natures seem to be meaningfully connected, with meaning being aroused through the human witness.  It has also been said that a synchronicity is a moment that carries in it the characteristics of every moment everywhere.(8)  Synchronicity in this light seems to be slowly gaining traction as a way to talk about the mystery of planetary cycles taking place alongside inner and outer events of individuals here on earth.  That mystery is a difficult one, but the concept of synchronicity as put forth by Jung does an exquisite job of providing definition while allowing mystery to permeate.   This allows us to experience structure and chaos together meaningfully, one of the biggest personal challenges of those in techno-industrial cultures today, though many do not realize it.

Capricorn and Aquarius
Mars stations to begin his retrograde at 9 degrees of Aquarius on Tuesday June 26, 2018 and will station direct on Monday August 27, 2018 at 28 degrees of Capricorn.  Much can be said about these signs.  We should see the zodiac as a cycle in which twelve distinctions allow us to apprehend an orientation within it.  When we talk about Capricorn we are referring to a very cold time of year when Winter begins with the shortest day of the year, but when every day thereafter the days grow longer. Dane Rudhyar has developed a profound system of night force and day force in which he speaks of collective, universal forces being the night and individual, personal forces being the day.(9)  In Capricorn, the night has reached its maximum.  Social, collective forces have built social forms like behavioral etiquette informed by culture, laws to govern many people, trade agreements for collective movements of resources.  Religion and philosophical thought have expanded far and wide as ways to deepen the power and meaning of what it means for individuals to participate as collective-identifiers.  By the time the night stops increasing at the shortest day of the year, the beginning of Capricorn, all motions change and the day returns.  Extravagant cities must be protected and maintained.  We have reached the height of civilization, the splendors of collective powers.  Egos are minuscule in Capricorn- the state rules supreme.  In Aquarius, a fixed air sign, the days continue to grow and the ego is caught up with ideas which can be in overdrive because of some sense of personal inferiority.  There can be an unconscious subversion of oneself in order to dis-identify as much as possible with the colorful pride of Leo, the Aquarian’s opposite sign on the zodiac wheel.   We need to remember that Capricorn and Aquarius in the tropical zodiac refer to winter, a time of death and challenge.  Nature struggles at this time of year.  It is not the nature we want to know, not the full blooms we enjoy freely in Spring and Summer.  Capricorn crystallizes pragmatic thinking to its maximum and represents any walled-in city that has rigid patterns of government.  Aquarius follows Capricorn as being those at the lower half of a prejudiced and classist system who are fired with frustration about the limits imposed upon them by collective forces.  These people might break rules that do not line up with the ethics of the spirit that passes over and through Aquarian moments.  They may invent products or lifestyles that seek to imbue their communities with new life.  They may be desensitized and unsure of what to do, complicit with the power wielded over them by political authorities.  It is important to know that these are social zodiac signs and that there are two very different pictures of society in them.  In Aquarius certain kinds of social norms and forms are breaking down which were well-maintained in Capricorn, who fears any revolution and hope of a new life, yet knows they are both soon to come. 

Mars Retrograde 2018
We first notice that Mars retrogrades in not one but two signs, perhaps causing us to wonder if there is something in Capricorn which Mars has not yet finished up, some legal issue which the courts may need to settle.  We can also see that during this Mars retrograde a total lunar eclipse will take place on July 27 which will align with Mars and Uranus who currently transits Taurus.  Uranus nor Venus are placed well during this time which shows that the Uranian-Promethean impulse could be stifled, perverted, undermined, or lacking substance, or dealing with public health.  Mars is exalted Capricorn and thus leads this chariot, but he is retrograde.  This could be starting to sound like a clown car gone horribly wrong, and it is difficult to avoid instantly thinking of the government of the United States with this imagery.  The issues during this Mars retrograde are tied to Capricorn and Aquarius, and more specifically their shadows.  In Capricorn, a Mars in direct (forward) motion represents an intense almost militaristic work ethic and thinks logistically rapidly in order to execute irrevocably the most efficient plan.  So is a retrogressed, backwards Mars in Capricorn representative of some kind of opposite behavior?  “Opposites” is an unfortunate attitude through which to view the world, and because it is becoming an obsolete one we should cast that aside.  What has been suggested so far is that retrogrades deal with hidden aspects which are as yet unknown.  And truly it is impossible to get to the bottom of a retrograde.

To come back to the zodiac, what we see in Capricorn and Aquarius which is likely relevant for this Mars retrograde is the notion of a life of novelty.  What is meant here is a life for a people in which their society has developed to a point where difficulties of the past have been worked on through technology for the means of improving the life of the people.  Television, suburban living, international travel by plane, super-food smoothies are all examples of a life of novelty invented for improving the lives of "the many".  It is certain that these things also have their poisons and discomforts- all is not as ideal as it wants to be in improvement- and forward-thinking Aquarius.  But in order to think in a way which is open to social improvements that might gain mass implementation, one must have a very wide scope while thinking about complex relations- keeping tabs on the moving parts.  Capricorn has a similar type of thinking but the orientation is not about improving as it is in Aquarius, it is about maintaining.  In either situation, we see the retrogression of Mars in these two signs stirring up personal uncertainties about how one relates to a larger plan, a larger scope, government structures and action, and of course, the future.  With all the standout themes of “authority” in both Capricorn and Aquarius, this retrograde can make conscious things we have taken for granted regarding authority, our own and others’.  The fire of Mars and the apathy all too common in Capricorn and Aquarius can be focused through thought on the overall “gestalt” of a situation.  And, lacking concern for others’ feelings or circumstances, people may be in the shadowy grips of something that moves them to behave (or consider behaving) in a way which they cannot fully understand until they find themselves in a critical situation requiring action or release of personal energy.  Retrogrades have been said to call upon the past, an interesting point to consider with political events in motion on and after the lunar eclipse on July 27.  It is obvious this retrograde deals with a difficult tension between individual power upheld by certain groups, and the power innate in diverse individuals who desire change and altruism.  It is also clear that Mars is a personal planet, not a collective planet, though he retrogrades in collective signs.  People can experience this time as a questioning of their own motives in their career, lifestyle, or overall path in life.  It would not be surprising if there is a curious sense felt to make a shift regarding these things, yet also feeling the challenges and limits sanctioned by existing state structures.  This retrograde refers to executive orders and changing of direction of the order and location of individuals who are at the mercy of a corrupt system. 

The significance of a retrograding personal planet is a potential consciousness change.  Mars in his retrograde will submerge to attach to unconscious contents and find a way to re-emerge through a conscious form of expression with that which can be integrated for more vivid awareness of oneself.  Retrogrades require keen vigilance over the various areas of life which have a considerable amount of light on them as well as vigilance for moments that surprise one with a sense of specialness that is undeniable because it somehow feels meaningful.  Mars is trying to get our attention through other available avenues in our lives, and the intention is to expand or vivify consciousness through it.  A retrograde is not meant to give neat and tidy answers, but to provoke as yet unanswerable ones deep from within- questions which are ripe for the time.

Station retrograde: June 26, 9 degrees Aquarius
Station Direct: August 27, 28 degrees Capricorn

1. Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblios (ca. 168 AD), trans. J.M. Ashmand, chapters 4, 5, and 6
2. Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche (2006) p. 90
3. Dane Rudhyar, The Astrology of Personality (1936) p. 227
4. ibid. p. 227
5. ibid. p. 240-245
6. ibid. p. 230
7. ibid. p. 229
8. Dane Rudhyar, The Astrology of Self-Actualization and the New Morality (1970) p. 9
9. Dane Rudhyar, The Astrological Signs, The Pulse of Life (1943) p. 19-25