Holding Your Ground On Shifting Sands
Jupiter and Uranus are stationary and going Retrograde. Venus has been Retrograde and is about to go Direct. Mercury is Retrograde again. There's a swarm of planets in the Mutable signs. And the Pisces Full Moon is conjunct Saturn. How do you stay upright when everything is shifting in so many different directions?
FULL MOON in PISCES
Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:
Aug. 30, 2023, 9:35 PM EDT
Aug. 31, 2023, 2:35 AM BST
Aug. 31, 2023, 11:35 AM AEST
True understanding is not possible unless we risk changing our worldview. Otherwise we think we have built bridges to one another, but the bridges are rooted in sands that can shift with the tide.
~ Valarie Kaur, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love
Mutable vs Fixed
Life is change. When Mutable energy is present, we're in continual morph mode. Nothing stays quite the same because anything can become something else. The energy is flexible, changeable, malleable... well, mutable.
All that fluctuating energy is wonderful for perfecting, fine-tuning, exploring, playing around with ideas, and setting the imagination free. Since the Sun-Moon opposition is included in the count, this adds even more movement to the high Mutable atmosphere.
On the other hand, there is also Fixed energy. There are only 3 planets in Fixed signs right now, but they are extra significant! The job description of Fixed signs is to bring all that variation to a halt, or at least to bring it to a state of stability, order and consistency. Without Fixed influence, Mutable energy would continue to wobble around with no particular purpose or goal, never arriving at a final destination.
The Pisces Full Moon is the second Full Moon in August. Does that make it a Blue Moon? And what does that mean? Blue Moon Lunacy!
Then there's Cardinal energy which has a little of both. It's movable but with a purpose. Evolving toward a particular goal. Initiative that brings together whatever ingenuity, resources and creativity is necessary to get the plan off the ground.
Ideally there should be a balance between these three modalities, but with the planets constantly moving and changing signs at different rates, one of them often winds up with a bigger or smaller share than the others. There are 3 planets in Cardinal signs right now, but not quite as significant as the others.
In the chart for the Full Moon in Pisces, Mutable energy is the dominant modality with 5 planets in those signs, including the Sun and Moon. As a result, it may be hard to get a solid grip on what's happening around you – like trying to catch the Pisces fishes with your bare hands.
Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.
~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Dance: Moving To the Rhythms of Your True Self
There are 3 planets in Fixed signs right now, but their impact is bound to be heavier than you might think. Why? Because all three Fixed planets are stationary. While there are 3 Cardinal planets – Mars, Chiron and Pluto – they lack the extra force to keep the other two modalities in check.
When a planet is stationary, it is in the process of changing direction. Overall, it's neither moving forward nor backward, but is in transition from one to the other. Think of stationary planets like putting your finger through a candle flame. If you do it quickly, you might feel a brief warmth but that's about all. But if you do it really slowly... well, you get the idea. The effect is much more intense. The energy of stationary planets tends to take over a chart, and at the Full Moon in Pisces, we have 3, count 'em—three of them!
All of these stationary planets are in Fixed signs – Venus in Leo, and Jupiter and Uranus in Taurus. If Fixed energy acts as a stabilizer to slow down that mega-Mutable changeability, then having 3 stationary Fixed planets is like they're slamming on the brakes!
The effect of these two modalities battling it out for dominance could be like a stop-and-go motion. One minute things are changing and the next minute that change is blocked or interrupted. Or one moment things seem to be calming down, but the next moment they're diverted in a different direction, as if they were greased with oil that keeps them slipping out of alignment.
Life can be only lived forwards and truly understood backwards.
~ Dipa Sanatani, The Little Light
Uranus is now officially retrograde having changed direction only 2 days before the Full Moon, and is still the same degree and minute as when it stationed: 23:04 Taurus (Aug. 24 to Sep. 1). In a way, Uranus is like a mole in the Fixed contingency since it prefers and aims for change. However, being in Earth sign Taurus its mandate tends to be to loosen up, shake up, and stir up that which has become rigid.
Venus is still technically retrograde but turns direct in 4 days on Sep. 3. She's been retro-ing since July 22, and now has slowed down for the turn to go direct. During that time, has your creativity boomed or busted? Do you need something new to focus your playfulness on, or something inspiring and dramatic to sink your passionate teeth into? Or maybe you've already got something to channel your self-expression into and you just need to get yourself aimed in the right direction.
Over the next 4 weeks, while Venus makes her final pass through the shadow (until Sep. 30), is the time to choose your actions and find the best pace, activities and resources that will make your aspirations come together.
Although still technically direct, Jupiter turns retrograde in 4.5 days on Sep. 4. Jupiter is the traditional ruler of the Pisces Full Moon, so it's very significant that Jupiter is one of the stationary planets. You may find your beliefs, principles or philosophy of life needs to be re-examined and revised over the 4 months (until Jupiter goes direct on Dec. 30). Or you may need to find something concrete and factual from which to cultivate a better sense of hope or faith in life.
While turning direct Venus is in square aspect to Jupiter who is turning retrograde. This could stir up a bit of turbulence or complexity. Your creative spirit (Venus) is getting ready to move on some new inspiration, while your sense of faith in life is getting ready to go back over events and challenges since last November (when Jupiter turned direct) and especially since this past May (when Jupiter entered Taurus).
Venus is also tightly parallel the North Node by declination, and they remain parallel throughout her stationary phase. So, not only is your Venus – social life, love life, desire for beauty, and need for applause and approval – shifting from a focus on what needs to be corrected or revitalized, you are encouraged to do this with a particular intention in mind. How can your Venus experiences be used to advance and enhance your life purpose?
Venus wants to move forward while Jupiter feels the need to go backward, and they make their respective turns while in a stressful square aspect to each other. Jupiter tells Venus, "Wait, maybe I'm not so sure about this. I need to check the facts and gather more resources." Venus replies, "Maybe you just need a bit of applause and encouragement. But remember that inspiration and self-confidence aren't only gathered from the external world; they must ultimately be found within."
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
~ Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
Mercury is a Very Busy Boy
Mercury does several things that are especially significant, earning him the prize for having the longest to-do list in the solar system.
For starters, Mercury is the Final Dispositor of the Full Moon chart using traditional rulerships. In other words, all planets trace their sign rulerships back to Mercury:
- Mercury in its own sign of Virgo rules the Sun, also in Virgo.
- The Sun rules Venus in Leo.
- Venus also rules Mars in Libra, and Jupiter and Uranus in Taurus.
- Mars rules Chiron in Aries.
- Jupiter rules the Moon, Saturn and Neptune.
- And Saturn rules Pluto in Capricorn.
So Mercury has the final say in whatever is happening, which is exactly how Mercury likes it. Mercury is retrograde right now (Aug. 23 to Sep. 15), so not only does Mercury get the last word, that word is to question the accuracy, virtue or method of what everyone else in the chart is doing.
Mercury is trine both Jupiter and Uranus, who themselves are stationary and therefore have an extra strong presence. In fact, when Jupiter stations retrograde on Sep. 4, Mercury is exactly trine Jupiter to the minute. The implication is that part of what you're reviewing during Mercury's retrograde is how Jupiter and Uranus energies can be used to stimulate more inspiring ideas, hope, vision and leaps of faith.
Mercury is tightly quincunx Chiron (a mere 0:03 orb). The quincunx aspect challenges us to see connections between ideas, events and experiences that seem to have nothing in common, yet it's possible to connect some dots when you look at them from a broader perspective that encompasses them all.
In this case, it might be easier than usual since both Virgo and Chiron have similar themes about healing. While Mercury in Virgo excels in precision and critical thinking, Chiron in Aries may remind us that having the courage to act on instinct can be just as valuable and effective if you maintain a clear focus on what you're trying to do.
This Chiron-Virgo connection is emphasized again by the Sun and Chiron being tightly parallel by declination.
In addition, Mercury is still playing with Mars along the equator by declination. I talk extensively about this in my article on Mercury Retrograde in Virgo – Making Sense of Mercury. Mercury and Mars weave back and forth with each other and with the equator (0° declination). First they become exactly contraparallel (Mercury south and Mars north) on Aug. 27. Then Mars crosses into the south and they become exactly parallel on Aug. 30 – the same day as the Full Moon. Later that same day, Mercury crosses into the north and they become exactly contraparallel again on Sep. 2.
This is like dancing on the dome of a giant reset button, where you wobble around before you finally step off in some direction. And since Mercury is retrograde during this time, you might expect the usual Mercury mischief to be more playful and uneven than usual from late August to early September.
However, the good news is that this can be a fantastic time to keep your awareness attuned to the unusual things going on around you, or the curious thoughts and ideas that go through your head, as well as the dreams and daydreams you have during this time. Explore where your imagination takes you.
Sabian Symbol for Pisces 8: A girl blowing a bugle.
This image gets a number of different interpretations by well-known writers of the Sabian Symbols. Dane Rudhyar (An Astrological Mandala) sees this as calling on a new phase of the human race to rise up, precipitated by an "evolutionary crisis." Blain Bovee (The Sabian Symbols & Astrological Analysis) suggests, "A girl blows her own horn as a means of announcing individuality, perhaps expressing personal triumph."
Lynda Hill (360 Degrees of Wisdom) sees the bugle as performing reveille to awaken the armed forces. Marc Edmund Jones, one of the originators of these Symbols, saw the high level of skill and achievement required to play the bugle, which indicates the "successful achievement and discharge of [one's] group responsibility."
Pisces energy itself is vague and pliable enough that one could adapt this image to a wide range of meaning. With Mercury being so prominent in the Full Moon chart, perhaps this Symbol points to the need to announce and express the observations and significance of information that come to your awareness during this Full Moon. With Jupiter being a ruler of Pisces, and being stationary and extra strong, it could be like blowing a bugle to wake up those around you or even to stir up your own inner wisdom and moral searching.
Q: Why do elephants paint their toenails red?
A: So they can hide in cherry trees.
Q: Have you ever seen an elephant in a cherry tree?
A: "No." See? It works!
~ Elephant jokes
What To Do With Your Elephant
And finally, let's talk about the elephant in the room. Pisces, the sign of illusion, imagination and mystery, is a wonderful place to hide an elephant. You can blend him in with odd, overstuffed furniture. String fairy lights from his ears and pretend he's a lamp stand. Put daisies on his head and call him a planter. You could even hang a fan from his swishing tail and call him an air conditioner. No one would notice the difference.
In this case Saturn is the elephant. (I'm sure he's been called worse.)
Saturn tends to feel out of his element when immersed in Pisces energy. Saturn's domain is earthy, factual and authoritative. He prefers concrete reality, systematic planning, and boundaries that make it clear where one thing ends and another thing begins. Yet in Pisces, Saturn's abilities seem more speculative, spongy, inconsistent and uncertain. What does one do with a squishy Saturn?
This is especially important now because Saturn is both conjunct and parallel the Pisces Full Moon. On one hand, the Moon in Pisces basks in imagination, creative thinking, sensitive feelings, and psychic and intuitive impressions. On the other hand, it's a bit weird for the Moon to be towing a big elephant around behind her.
This seeming contradiction is echoed in the rest of the Full Moon chart. We have a plethora of planets in Mutable signs (all in Virgo and Pisces), which heightens our experience of changeability, adaptability and pliability. Circumstances and situations may call on you to be more willing to compromise, be flexible, accepting or open-minded.
However, we also have 3 planets changing direction within a few days of the Full Moon, making them virtually stationary right now. Uranus stationed retrograde 2 days before the Full Moon. Jupiter becomes retrograde just 4 days after the Full Moon. And mere hours later, the lovely Venus does a beautiful pirouette that faces her in direct motion. All three have paused to reorient their intentions before they continue on to whatever's next.
In addition, all 3 stationary planets are in Fixed signs whose job it is to slow things down, keep things stable, avoid excessive or whimsical change, and ensure that life remains consistent and manageable as much as possible. In other words, while the Mutables are doing their best to perfect, modify and reshape the predominant energies, the Fixes are determined to sustain, strengthen and counterbalance all that fiddling around.
Add to this the fact that Mercury is retrograde (Aug. 23 to Sep. 15) and you may find that this Pisces Full Moon is bound to get a bit weird, scattered, slippery or... well, fishy.
So: what's a Saturn to do?
Saturn is delicately strung like a hammock between both sides of that chasm – between change and preservation, relativity and constancy. The Saturn part of us tends to be a traditionalist, or at least aims to stick with a plan that has worked in the past. Yet in Pisces, that part of you may be unsure how to tell what works from what needs improvement, or how to adjust something to make it better.
So, like any card-carrying Elephant In The Room, the Saturn part of you may need to adapt for a while. Be willing to be carried along by the prevailing currents – not out of resignation or resentment, but with curiosity and an open mind. Paint your toenails whatever colour will help you make the best of your environment—or to stand out in dramatic fashion so you can inspire others!
Follow your priorities when you can, and when you can't then keep your eyes and ears open for new information and ideas. Try to avoid getting caught in the trap of surrendering to a quest for perfection for its own sake, but aim for betterment that supports a practical purpose.
No one has all the answers. Everything and everyone is a work in progress – an ever-changing process between being off-centre vs steadfast. It's like trying to hold your ground on shifting sands. The best way to do that dance is to adapt when you must and slide back into balance when you can.
The next update will be for the New Moon in Virgo on September 14, 2023. Meanwhile, stay safe. Stay sane. Stay awesome. The world needs you. ❤️
The universe likes change. All that appears solid and substantial is built on the shifting sands of ceaseless transformation on the quantum level. Ironically, that's the one steady factor about the universe – it is always changing, which means our efforts to change are supported by the very nature of Life.
~ Ilchi Lee, Change: Realizing Your Greatest Potential
© 2023-08-28 Wendy Guy, all rights reserved. Astrological diagrams by Wendy Guy. Divider of feet, legs, sand by Myriams-Fotos via Pixabay.com. Sabian symbol image of drawing of woman and bugle by Gordon Johnson via Pixabay.com. Image of full moon with elephant hanging from balloon by Zaid Ali via Pixabay.com.