What's Going On?
Summer Solstice + Pending Mercury Retrograde in Cancer = Focus on Families
I write a lot of different sorts of things. Whenever I write this sort of a blog,I am doing so because I am intrigued by something
(or a series of somethings) going on the sky and the impact those somethings are having on people I see in my practice. In this case,
it is a very definite series of somethings. Often, one or more of those somethings is a regular occurrence with a specific spiritual
significance, and another one of those somethings is a configuration that is not as regular at all, which gives the other transits
much more power. Now is one of those times. Here is how it breaks down.
In this case, the regular occurrences are the Summer Solstice and the Summer Mercury Retrograde. But first there is the context that
the Solstice and the Mercury Retrograde are sitting in, the irregular occurrence. In this case, it is a very rare occurrence. For the
better part of the last month there has been a Grand Square (also known as a Grand Cross) almost every day, sometimes two. I have honestly
never seen this before, so it got my attention in a big, big way. Because the squares have primarily been involving the fixed signs
(signs that are more rigid and hard to shift, move or transform) most of us have been experiencing this transit as increasing external
pressure to shift move or transform the most stuck areas of our lives. Because those fixed signs are Aquarius, Taurus, Leo and Scorpio,
people with a lot of those signs have been feeling it the most (though the mutable signs of Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces have
also been peridocially involved, giving us a tendency to fog out or party out or head for the hills).† These Grand Squares have had such
a confrontational and relentless quality that it has felt to some a lot like a Mercury Retrograde. It really has. So much so that I have
been getting calls for weeks from people asking when the Mercury Retrograde is going to be over. And it hasnít even started yet.
Alrighty, then.† This could be a long, hot summer.
Traditional medieval astrologers rued the Grand Squares, seeing them as an indicator for being pulled in at least four different
directions in your life, concurrently. Because of the intensity of that energy, and the resulting confusion, they believed the Grand
Square to be a marker for misery, suffering and the complete inability to get any traction or forward motion on projects. As usual,I donít
agree. Or at least not with all of that. Partially due to the predominant societal values of the era, medieval astrologers saw theses
transits as being a time when an individual would be paying for their sins at the hands of an angry and vengeful God. A time when they
had very little personal power, and a time when external forces would prevent people from achieving goals or having the things they
wanted in their lives. Many current astrologers feel these transits have more of an internal focus, but are equally as bad. They see the
points of the Grand Square indicators of precisely where an individualís inner conflicts will be causing self sabotaging behaviors.
I think that both are a little bit true, but as usual, I think there is a little more. I definitely think that the transiting Grand Squares
will produce external pressure. I have seen that in peopleís charts time and time again. During a Grand Square there are more significant
events and issues generated by others that require action on your part than usual.†Indeed, depending on the intricacies of your natal
chart and the impact the Grand Square has upon it, sometimes it is quite extreme.†It can feel like your life is truly not your own,
that you are dominated by the will, the needs, and the neurotic psychoses of those around you.
The difference for me, and the redemption, is where we go with it. You often cannot control those around you, but you can control what
you do about it. The Grace for me in these squares is that you get to see and choose more consciously how you want to be showing up.
You get a chance to practice being more responsive and less reactive. Yeah, I know, ďOh GoodyĒ. Iím sorry, but thatís just the deal.
Remember, I donít orchestrate this stuff, I just look at it. A lot.
Those events and issues, and our choices in those moments, will show us where our beliefs and behaviors have become outdated and no
longer serve us. But a series of Grand Squares occurring over quite a long period of time will make both the external and internal
pressures quite extreme. Given that, and the sorts of things I am hearing from people right now, I think the Grand Squares of the last
month have probably made a lot of things very, very clear. Pay particular attention to the things that keep repeating, and the lessons
they hold for you. Especially around your families.
I think the timing of these squares can be very appropriate, and helpful, given the Summer Solstice and the coming retrograde. So first
letís talk about the Solstice. In general, the solstices occur twice a year (once in winter and once in summer).†Summer Solstice signals
the midpoint of the solar-dominated days, and Winter Solstice signals the midpoint of the lunar-dominated days. The Summer Solstice
occurred this year on Wednesday, June 21st though many communities are have their formal celebrations on the weekends just before or
just after, as the actual date occurs midweek and thatís a little inconvenient for the sort of celebrations people want to have. And as
usual with a Solstice, it has us standing on a threshold. Technically, the Summer Solstice is the official marker that delineates the
official end of the planting, growing season and the beginning of the harvest season.
Sadly, for most modern people the Summer Solstice usually comes and goes without much notice if any. For ancient peoples, it was a big
honking deal; the solstices and the equinoxes were generally the most scared, most celebrated times of year. Most ancient cultures had
in common some form of marking the sunís passages on these days, as well as some general interpretations around the leaving the waxing
side and entering the waning side of the fertility cycle. But they differed markedly in terms of what they called it and how they
The Chumash, who inhabited most of Southern and Central California, were a little different. Like other ancient peoples, they had a rich
cultural and religious tradition. Everything they did and experienced was tied into their religious belief structure. While both Winter
and Summer Solstice observations were made, each complete with spectacular alignments of man-made and natural features with the rising sun,
the winter solstice was by far the most important event of the year.
The Irish Celtic pagans called their midsummer festival Giamonios (roughly translated as ďbeginning of darknessĒ). They celebrated the
apex of light by the symbolically crowning the Oak King, God of the waxing year. At his crowning, the Oak King falls to his darker aspect,
the Holly King, God of the waning year. The solstices and equinoxes are very accurately marked in many Celtic stone monuments in the
United Kingdom such as Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth, and Stonehenge.
There are similar markers in many parts of Hawaii. In the Puna district of Hawaii Island, where the Pu'u Loa petroglyph field is located,
there are several stones which have been long used for astrological observations and ceremonies. The ancient Hawaiians of that area
believed that at Summer Solstice, the sun shone on the stone that represented Kumukahi (a lesser male God related to Pele).† At the Winter
Solstice and the equinoxes, the sun shone on other stones, each representing a different God or Goddess and each given a specific name.
Then and now, the Summer Solstice is a moment in time, and it is important not to miss it. It is a time when we are slowing down for a
moment in order to shift gears. It is a natural time for reflection and assessment. Which of all the seeds you planted earlier are
flowering and bearing fruit right now? How does that feel?†Are you likely to be later harvesting the things you intended when you
planted those seeds? If yes, be grateful. Surely there were leaner, less certain times that inspired you to do the things you did to get
you here. Make a note of what spiritual and material actions you took to get these results so that you can replicate this again next year.
If you are displeased with what you appear to be harvesting, what do you need to do to salvage this yearís harvest? And what went weird
or wrong in the last six months that yielded you these results? What could you do differently next year to get something different? What
do you need to shift to get the harvest that you want?
Okay, now to the money shot. Adding to the intensity of this Summer Solstice is the pending ďback to basicsĒ demands of the Mercury
Retrograde. We are now officially in the 3-week prelude period, where you can sometimes begin to get a glimpse of how the coming
retrograde is going to play out for you. It gives you a bit of a headís up on it as well as some time to begin to put the brakes on and
slow down before you come to the actual transit itself.
Our dear friend Mercury, who goes retrograde sometime shortly after noon Pacific Time on Tuesday, July 4th (actual time depends on where
you are and whoís ephemeris you are using) at 01 degrees Leo. For those of you who may not remember, each of the planets revolves around
the Sun at a different rate, so as a group the planets are pretty much always configured differently from one moment to the next.
Astrologically, each configuration means something different. Thus it becomes a very fluid medium, and very much like a huge algebra
equation. The thing to remember here is that, like with algebra, in astrology you have to be very accurate with your math or you get
the wrong answer. Given that, there are probably not as many bad astrologers as there are simply many of us who really suck at math.
For you impatient fire signs, that is precisely why this newsletter is generally so long - sorry to bore you, I am just trying to be as
accurate as possible. If you canít cope, I pretty much always have a just-the-facts-maíam Doís and Doníts section near the end.
Part of your astrological equation is that each planet in the heavens is said to rule an aspect of your personality. Mercury is said to
rule your cognitive functions, how you think, and how you speak. Because of their differing rates of speed, several times a year, a slower
planet will catch up to a faster planet, making one appear to be going backwards, or retrogradus, as the Romans called it. The ancients
noticed that when a planet went retrograde, or appeared to be moving backwards, it was considered to be a time when whatever issues and
objects that planet ruled would become more problematic. Their conclusion was that during that time, it was better to back off from
whatever your agenda was around those particular issues and objects until the planets straightened out. The retrograde is a period when
you have more ease than usual in revisiting and recommitting to your karma with yourself - the reasons you chose to come back
(or reincarnate) on the planet this time. Itís not about moving forward, it is about understanding. Itís also about deepening your
spirituality, and spending time engaged in more meaningful activities with those you love. As such, it is a really good time to do past
life regressions or rebirthing or anything that is going to reconnect you with your purpose or, at the very least, what you were thinking
when you and God decided you should reincarnate this time. Hmmmmmm.
With that said, it is then important to look at the sign involved, because that is the next factor in your equation. Though this
Mercury Retrograde starts in early Leo, it spends the vast majority of itís time in the sign of Cancer, which rules your mom, your home
and your family. The good news is that if things were too complicated for you or had you spread too thin, this July will bring things
into exceedingly sharp focus, so be ready.†Given itís placement in Cancer, this Mercury Retrograde means big changes and big chances for
redemption in our families, especially for those of you with strong Cancer energy in your natal charts. I am already starting to see that,
and it hasnít even begun to truly hit itís peak yet. Keep your eyes and your hearts open so you donít miss opportunities that present
As Cancer rules home, hearth and family, this Mercury Retrogrades primary place of impact will be our natural families, anything that
fits the traditional definition of a family. The secondary place of impact is the families we create for ourselves: our peers at work,
our neighbors, and our closest friends. But the third and perhaps the scariest place of impact is our nation. The fellow countrymen are
also a family, and in the past weeks and months there has been a groundswell of energy compelling us to revisit how we view, define and
respond to that reality. This is particularly strong in countries like America and France, who were born in early July and as such are
essentially Cancers. I am expecting that both America and France could see some serious conflicts, confrontations, and realignments and
reality checks. While these will be opportunities for positive changes, they could be uncomfortable - even turbulent - on a lot of levels.
Given that this is an election year (and a crucial one) in America the stakes are high and we have a responsibility to all of our
different show up, pay attention, and do the right thing.
But determining the right thing can sometimes be the biggest challenge, and one that I am seeing people agonizing about a lot lately.
You really have to look at it from all the angles, not just this lifetime and your desires for it, but other lifetimes and your goals
for the future lifetimes, as well. Given the family orientation of this retrograde, it is a particularly good time to explore both the
subtle nuances as well as the grossly overt aspects of your karma with the different members of your different families. What do you owe
them? What do they owe you? What actions could you take now that would help bring that back into balance? What negatives did you bring
forward from other lifetimes to clean up? Are there karmic debts? Victim-Perpetrator cycles?†The more you know the better you will be able
to make good decisions, show up appropriately and free yourself from avoidable drama and chaos. Also a factor is the karma that you and
these family members have together.† What issues are you facing? What problems are you being asked to solve together as a team?
Between now and mid August, it will be a good time to do any sort of research and get more information, especially any you are passionate
about. But also about things that you face, things that directly affect you and your family. Pay particular attention to those things that
you technically need to know about and are scary and intimidating to be fully or at least more conscious. You know where Iím going with
this - anything you normally want to run away from you need to be researching right now. In particular, one of the things I think will
jump even more to the forefront of our national consciousness during this retrograde is the status of the War on Terror and the plight
of our soldiers. I feel a rant coming on here, so those of you who are apolitical or hypersensitive should skip on down to some other
section The thing we have to be ever so mindful of now or at least soon is that these men and women who are on the front lines of the
fight are our family, too. As our family, we are responsible for them, and we need to not repeat the mistakes of the last war.
It is estimated that 2.6 million men and women served in the Viet Nam War. It is estimated that 303,704 were injured and 60,000 were
killed. More than 150,000 of those who survived committed suicide after they returned.† As a nation, we completely failed to understand
these people, their experiences in and after the war, their responses to their experiences, or what they needed from us. We failed them,
we are in jeopardy of doing the same with the soldiers of the current war, and we as a people desperately need to show up differently
At this point in the War on Terror, we are well on our way to similar figures and we are taking far worse care of those who have
returned. Interestingly, it is virtually impossible to get any sort of accurate figure as to how many soldiers are currently on active
duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, or how many have served their time and come home. I find that lack of information and accuracy very
interesting. Nor do we have any figures at all on the private, civilian security forces and service providers. While not official
American Military, these people are participating in this conflict and those who survive will no doubt bear the scars, physically and
emotionally, upon their return.
Given that we are currently involved in a couple of wars (or one big one with at least two fronts, depending on who you talk to), and
there are major congressional elections this year, I highly recommend learning more than you currently know. There are a lot of new books
out now by veterans that are getting little or no publicity in mainstream media but are easily found in places like Amazon.com.. That is
a good place to start. For those of you with little or no Scorpio, Sagittarius or Gemini (those who may want to know more but for whom
reading is a bit), there is always the educational channels and programming on television. The new Baghdad ER on HBO and Off To War on
the Discovery Times Channel are amazingly candid and thorough (for now) and give you as close to a firsthand glimpse of what it is like
to be there as you can get from here. Shows like this are giving significantly less censored looks at what it is really like to be
there and the effect this experience is having on those who are in it. Watch them now, for they will most likely be pulled off the
air soon. As a nation, a family of people, we need to know about these things. They have a direct bearing on choices we are making now
and choices we will need to make in the future, especially in terms of repaying these people for what they have done and given. Not to
mention those we vote for in the fall elections.
Everyone should be checking at least some of this stuff out right now. At this point, I think the opinion of those who are there is a lot
more important than the opinion of the talking heads who havenít. ďSupporting the TroopsĒ is a lot more than sporting a bumper sticker
on your freakiní car. Itís listening, and thinking and participating. It is also important because we all know that the news that we are
given via newspapers, radio and television is generally less than accurate. Also helpful is the European coverage, as they have different
opinions and different censorship rules and obligations than we do. I am also hearing great things about the video diaries soldiers are
posting online from the front lines on websites like:†ifilm.com, video.google.com, and news.bbc.com. I read in Rolling Stone Magazine
that sites like these are providing soldiers with a place to host their video diaries - some off them even set to music and taking on an
MTV quality - definitely stuff you wonít see on the Nightly News (and therefore something you should be seeing). However, when I went
to check it out on ifilm.com the three specific videos they referenced were not listed, so I that tells me those sites are worth watching.
Lastly, for those of you who are more comfortable with movies, there is a new documentary called ďThe War Tapes.Ē† Filmed by three
National Guard soldiers from New Hampshire, these soldiers were given their own cameras and asked to record a year Iraq. They shot more
than 800 hours of video and the film that resulted took the documentary feature award at the recent New York Tribeca Film Festival. I
havenít seen it but am hearing good things. Very good things.
Okay, so back to the other aspects of Mercury Retrograde in Cancer.†One of the things to be mindful of during this time, as Cancer is a
water sign and Mercury Retrograde is famous for accidents, is accidents involving water. Given that it is summertime, a time when we are
more likely to be participating in water sports than other times of year, you will want to not take risks around the ocean, lakes or
swimming pools. Also, given that the retrograde begins on July 4th, I would be very mindful around fireworks this year. Usually I am all
over them, but this year my advice is donít handle them. Go to the big exhibits.
So, with that said, here is your all-purpose, handy-dandy guide to successfully navigating this summerís celestial waters for the next
couple of weeks:
Stop, look and listen.
Seek out and take direction and advice.
Research things that interest you.
Thoughtfully and responsibly communicate something that is important to you.
Make fact-based decisions.
Spend time with those you love and appreciate.
Socialize and have fun.
Be charming, diplomatic and charismatic.
Bask in the warm rays and glory of the sun.
Deal with what is.
Spend quality time with your family.
Attempt to heal wounds and build bridges.
Be rash, brash, hasty, impulsive or vengeful.
Nurse grudges or resentments.
Take physical risks, especially with your arms, hands, eyes or lungs.
Donít take risks of any kind around water.
Donít take risks with fireworks on July 4th.
Be reckless with time or resources.
Miss cues or bury your head in the sand.
Donít start a new relationship or end an old one.
Run from things that scare you.
In closing, remember that the other planets are all playing their part. Neptune in Aquarius gives is a drive to find more progressive,
tolerant and effective spiritual solutions to the problems of our families. The mutual reciprocity of Pluto in Sagittarius and Jupiter
in Scorpio gives us the means to go deeper than we usually would and have fun with it. Saturn and Mars in Leo give us the heart of a hero
and therefore the fortitude, perseverance and tenacious determination to get the job done. Do your best, let go of the results, and if
you get stuck, call me. Weíll figure it out.