Star Watch

by Gregory Ellison

Welcome Star Watchers to August — the sultry summer days when the Sun, whose powerful rays sustain all that lives, shines forth with all the warmth and brilliance of its regal glory. All of nature pays homage to the Sun, from the waters of the earth that rise up to clouds in response to its warming call, to plants and flowers that bend and stretch upward to bask in its radiance. Summer vacationers revel in its tanning rays, as abundant crops drink in its nurturing light and reach the pinnacle of their growing season on the way to autumn harvest.

August finds the regal Sun in its natural sign of Leo, proud ruler of the animal kingdom and traditional crest of royalty. Leo represents pride and leadership, creativity and charisma, loyalty and faithfulness, the happy benevolence of a noble ruler who inspires and cares for his subjects. As a fixed Fire sign, however, Leo can be smugly self-centered to the point of being oblivious to the needs and desires of others, if they conflict with his own, taking it for granted that those around him should follow wherever he leads. Never mean-spirited, the Leo can nonetheless be overbearing and egotistical, and he needs sometimes to be reminded that “to rule truly is to serve.”

Issues of leadership and politics will likely surface early this month, as Jupiter squares Pluto and Saturn sesqui-squares Uranus in the first week. Expansive Jupiter is also identified with faith or belief, and when harshly aspected with the raw power of Pluto, the result can be some nasty conflicts rooted in fanaticism, ideology and religion. Of course the world is well-primed for such conflicts, as radical Islamic movements, including those we call terrorism, continue to clash with equally fervent forces bent on exporting Western democracy at the point of a gun. Saturn sesqui-square Uranus further exacerbates this tendency toward ideological conflict as the “conservative” establishment forces of Saturn cross paths with a revolutionary Uranus seeking to bring down the established order.

Although we may not be able to directly influence these events on a world scale, we can nonetheless influence them indirectly by managing the parallel energies that affect us individually. When we face conflicts and challenges of basic beliefs or lifestyles, we can remember that the positive side of “belief” is faith, which has the power to overcome fanaticism or blind devotion to a cause or idea. The Jovian power of faith, expressed through meditation, prayer or ritual, can focus Pluto’s transformative power into building bridges rather than annihilating enemies! With this frame of reference, we can use Uranus’ urgent insistence on change to break down hardened Saturnian ego-structures and further our own conscious soul evolution. At the end of the day, society is the mirror of the individual, and if we can bring a peaceful and harmonious approach to struggles in our own personal experiences and attitudes, that change will be reflected in the world at large. A wise and compassionate heart alone can truly understand that “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”

On August 9, Mercury goes retrograde for the remainder of the month, bringing us its normal dose of communication foul-ups, transportation problems and technological challenges. Be sure to update your anti-virus software before the messenger of the gods starts wandering backwards, and prepare to take computer crashes in stride, along with automobile problems, missed appointments and misunderstood messages. This could be an unusually volatile retrograde period, as Mercury will be at least loosely opposed to Uranus throughout the entire period, creating a general feeling of agitation, and volatile Mars joins Mercury in opposing Uranus on the 18th. We can’t really hide in a cave (although we might wish we could!) until Mercury goes direct on September 2, but we should do what we can to be loose and flexible, and avoid signing contracts or making plans that we need to rely on. If possible, postpone firm commitments and make short-term decisions that are subject to revision as circumstances change as they almost certainly will, in the least expected ways!

Fortunately, Jupiter sextiles Saturn on the 17th, just before Mars conjuncts Mercury and opposes Uranus. This pleasant alignment of the two giants brings a much-needed sense of balance and harmony to an otherwise volatile and conflict-prone time, and gives us the opportunity to see temporary setbacks and irritations in a larger context instead of being thrown off balance by them. Balance is the key, as the naturally (if innocently) self-centered Leo energy impels us to discount or dismiss the ways of others.

The positive uses of retrograde Mercury include assimilating lessons from the past and making progress on projects that are already well-defined and underway. It’s a naturally introspective time when we can take a break from the fast-paced forward momentum of life to meditate, make connections with old friends or ideas, write in a diary and reflect on where life finds us at this moment of time. If you’re taking vacation time, so much the better — but take it close to home, and make it a relaxing and puttering vacation rather than a frantically scheduled one.

Not the easiest of months, all in all, but one filled with opportunities to rise above setbacks and challenges, especially in the areas most characteristic of the Leo energy: the challenge of rising above the personal ego that is intent on projecting our own sense of truth and right on those around us, realizing that our zeal to lead others toward our own visions can be the source of the very conflicts we seek to avoid. As we master this lesson, the Sun passes into Virgo — the sign of service to our fellow humans.

For a detailed listing of this month’s transits,
please see the August Interactive Calendar.