Mercury and the Eye of Medusa
Although the New Moon is in Gemini, Mercury retrograde is still talking to the Lunar Eclipse in Scorpio and the fixed star Algol. They are not finished with us yet. What we see through their eyes can be heartbreaking, but these are also powerful energies for transformation.
(NOTE: This article contains references to mass shootings in an astrological and mythological context.)
There is a saying in Tibetan: “Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.” No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster.
~ Dalai Lama XIV
NEW MOON in GEMINI
Ottawa, Canada and
Washington DC, USA:
May. 30, 2022, 7:30 AM EDT
May. 30, 2022, 12:30 PM BST
May. 30, 2022, 9:30 PM AEST
Under the talkative Gemini New Moon, there are several distinct voices, starting with the Sun-Moon conjunction in Gemini. Mars and Jupiter tightly conjunct in Aries are also prominent figures. Venus and Saturn distinguish themselves in their rulership signs. But the loudest voice is Mercury, ruler of Gemini, with many tall tales to tell and retell.
This New Moon provides a 4-week opportunity to explore what we know, what we think we know, what we need to know, what we wish we knew, and maybe even what we wish we didn't know. Information and how we use it is at the centre of the Gemini archetype, and how we process and use that information relies on our ability to think, reason and perceive.
Right now—and since May 10th, and until June 3rd—you may notice your thoughts and awareness drifting back over events and experiences from the past. That's because Gemini ruler Mercury is retrograde. As he retraces his steps back through the zodiac (between 26° Taurus and 4° Gemini), we may rehash recent events, reassess options, second-guess our decisions, and/or rethink how to understand and frame our experiences.
Part of what we're reconsidering probably relates to what came up for us under the recent eclipses – the Solar Eclipse in Taurus (April 30 or May 1, depending on your time zone) and especially the Lunar Eclipse in Scorpio (May 15 or 16). For many of us, these were pretty intense eclipses, possibly more-so for the Lunar Eclipse since the Sun was conjunct the intense fixed star Algol.
Well, that energy isn't quite finished with us yet. Retrograde Mercury is currently conjunct the Lunar Eclipse's Sun, and Mercury will station direct on June 3 less than a degree shy of both that eclipse's Sun and Algol. So, Mercury was conjunct Algol when he began his retrograde shadow on April 26. And that means this whole Mercury retrograde cycle we're in has been infused with Algol themes.
For like a baby, stillborn
Like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me
~ Leonard Cohen, Bird on a Wire
What is Algol about? This fixed star is known as the Eye of Medusa. In Greek mythology, the Gorgon Medusa was seduced by Poseidon (a.k.a. Neptune) after she had pledged to remain celibate while serving Athena. Some accounts imply that Medusa's sexual involvement was forced on her, others that she broke her vow willingly. In any case, Athena was furious and punished Medusa by destroying her beauty, turning her hair into snakes, and making her face so repulsive it would turn you to stone just to look at it.
Medusa was finally killed by the hero Perseus who decapitated her with the help of Athena and Hermes (Mercury). Once severed from her body, Medusa's head still held the same paralyzing power and could be used as a weapon to stop a foe in their tracks.
In the constellation Perseus, he holds up her head while averting his eyes. In the Perseus constellation, Medusa's head contains the variable red star, Algol – the menacing, winking eye of Medusa, positioned at 26:28 Taurus and 41:02 North declination. Algol has been called the Demon Star and other similar names by cultures all over the world throughout history, and in astrology it is often seen as foreboding, intense or even dangerous.
There are many possible meanings and interpretations to this story, depending on the version you go by, but what remains constant are Medusa's shocking appearance and the extreme effect it had on those she encountered.
Just imagine it: If you opened your eyes and saw Medusa's hideous face, it would stop you cold. There would be no words, no shutting your eyes, no unseeing what you had seen, no denying it, no going back. You would be forever changed. The only way to avoid it was to look away before you were caught in that deer-in-the-headlights glare, where you just couldn't tear your eyes away from something so shocking and unthinkable that you wouldn't have believed it, couldn't have imagined it.
And what would it have been like to BE Medusa? How would you feel if you lost everything, and everyone ran away from you in horror? I think she would feel enraged and exiled, devastated and forlorn, broken-hearted and horrified.
Insanity is the only sane reaction to an insane society.
~ Thomas Stephen Szasz
Thankfully not always, but sometimes the synchronicity of planetary alignments with events here on Earth can be pretty jaw-dropping. When Algol is activated by both an eclipse and a planetary station within 2½ weeks of each other, it’s not surprising to see some very intense events that can make us feel like we’ve been captured by Medusa's stony glare.
An unusually tragic illustration of this is the mass shooting on May 24th in Uvalde Texas on May 24th that murdered 19 little children and 2 adults. As Mercury continues toward its direct-station, latent details have come to light, while the anguished debate on how to avoid more mass shootings rises again. The whole situation is embedded with Algol's reputation for danger, anguish, passion and rage.
The massacre in Uvalde Texas has evoked painful memories of two similar incidents that also targeted children. Algol was only one of many astrological factors in these events, but it’s interesting and sad to see how it was part of the influence at these times.
One such event was the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland FL on Feb. 14, 2018, where 17 students and school staff were killed. This happened during a period when dwarf planet Sedna was conjunct Algol (2017-2019) and just a week after Sedna stationed direct less than 1° from Algol.
The other was the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown CN on Dec. 14, 2012, where 20 first-grade children and 6 school staff were killed. At that time, Sedna was within 3½° of Algol and the South Lunar Node was also conjunct Algol by half a degree orb.
Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.
~ Louis D. Brandeis
Thankfully, most of the time these kinds of crises don’t appear in our personal lives under heavy transits. Algol is not just about tragedy, but is ultimately about the containment and transformation of anger and loss. It may manifest as the need to draw a boundary against hostility or conflict.
It can also invite you to cultivate a way to harness your rage in a healthy way where you can pull it out and use it only when absolutely necessary, when all else has failed, and then be able to put it away once it has fulfilled its purpose. Another configuration in the Gemini New Moon chart can actually help with this, even though it may seem at first like just another obstacle in your path.
Mercury is closely square Saturn when he turns direct (less than 1° orb). And in fact, Saturn stations retrograde the day after Mercury goes direct, so there are two planets stationing in a tight square aspect to each other. (And you thought things couldn’t get any better...) This double-station is bound to bring a sense of urgency to Mercury’s idea to make transformative changes coupled with Saturn’s agenda to make sure those changes will stand the test of time.
Being in a conflicting square aspect, there is likely to be more argument than resolution, at least for a while. However, even without a consensus of answers, these two stations suggest the argument isn’t likely to be dropped easily without at least the intention to act on a solution.
Once we are in the grip of rage, once we have locked eyes with Medusa, it’s not easy to let that go. Rage and anger are very human emotions that only become worse when we try to simply suppress them. They need to be transformed, either by rechannelling them into productive activity or through a therapeutic process of digging into the roots of where that anger comes from.
The Mercury-Saturn stationary square, while being quite a challenge to handle, can also be a powerful resource to help you with this journey. Together they seek to analyze weighty problems to find solutions and conclusions that will endure. Therefore, it will help to keep your focus on being productive. Work the problem. Find ways to vent and express your feelings, but then bring yourself back to the quest for understanding, answers and constructive action. Don't just give up if you hit a stalemate. It will take time to untangle Medusa’s knotted snakes.
Mercury is also sextile Neptune who invites you to believe in hope again. While you’re engaged in heavy work, Neptune’s sunrise aura can remind you that there’s always a new dawn – something new and healing that can emerge even from something painful or tragic. It may take some extra effort to see that dawn through the clouds of sadness, but it’s worth it to keep watching for it. A bit of faith can go a long way.
Every sunset is an opportunity to reset. Every sunrise begins with new eyes.
~ Richie Norton
Mars and Jupiter are tightly conjunct and also play a role in the New Moon story. They became conjunct the day before the New Moon, just days after Mars leaped into Aries on May 24, and are currently roughly half a degree apart. Their conjunction remains within an 8° orb from May 15 to June 11.
Mars and Jupiter are also parallel – that's not unusual when planets are near conjunction. But what makes this parallel extraordinary is that they are parallel at 0° of declination! This double alignment is quite rare. Although Jupiter crosses 0° about every 6 years, and Mars about every 9-15 months, they do so together only 6 times between 1900 and 2050 – 1940, 1951, 2004, 2010, 2022 and 2040.
When a planet goes over zero declination, it tends to be a time of reset, recalibration and renewal of that planet’s energy. Jupiter zigzags over 0° declination three times over the next 9 months: May 25, Sep. 26 and Jan. 13 2023. At this first pass, Jupiter stays within one degree of 0° declination from May 10 to June 11. Mars crosses 0° once, on May 30 (the day of the New Moon) and remains within one degree of 0° declination from May 27 to June 2.
So, late May and early June constitute a striking opportunity to take action toward deliberate change that’s driven by hope, enthusiasm and inspiration. This could be about rejuvenating your spiritual energy (invigorating the spirit of who you are), or it might be about fighting for a just cause, or perhaps about putting your highest values into practice. Treat this as an opportunity to regain some of your fading hope, renew your depleted energy, and maybe to launch a quest that will find something positive to believe in again.
All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive.
~ Yann Martel, Life of Pi
Sabian Symbol for Gemini 10: An aeroplane falling OR An airplane performing a nosedive.
The first phrase is the original wording created by Marc Edmund Jones and Elsie Wheeler in 1925 (hence the somewhat antiquated “aeroplane”). The second phrase is the reworded version by Dane Rudhyar (An Astrological Mandala). Either way, this is one of the more animated and potentially difficult symbols in the Sabian system.
The airplane might be performing a flying stunk in front of spectators, in which case there is the thrill of showing off one’s skill in a dangerous action, but also the risk of miscalculating and crash-landing. The symbol seems to advise that if you’re currently tempting fate in some way, you’d better triple-check the validity your information, assumptions and resources to ensure you don’t get into trouble.
There is also a warning to pay attention to the idea that there’s a crucial difference between letting go of control and losing control. If your life (for example) feels like it’s in a nose-dive, one possibility is that you can reset your trajectory and swooping up again if you remain in control of what you’re doing.
On the other hand if you’re in freefall without a plan or if you've just given up, that’s not good. In that case, this could be a warning to check what’s happening and strategize about how to redirect your energy, your intentions, your mental focus. If you feel like you’re losing your grasp on something, maybe it’s time to do a checkup on yourself. What resources do you have that can help you pull yourself up? What survival skills do you have that you can put into practice? What support systems do you have that can give you some extra wind under your wings?
Whether you’re in freefall or going through an unnerving but necessary transition, it will take patience and effort to (re)gain control over what’s happening to you. This might be a good time to be a bit more vigilant about your state of mind, to remind yourself that you can make it through your situation okay. Gradually yet firmly pull yourself up. Allow yourself to reconnect with that sense that you will prevail. You can do this!
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.
~ Mary Anne Radmacher
© 2022-05-29 Wendy Guy, all rights reserved. Astrological diagrams by Wendy Guy. Divider by Gordon Johnson via Pixabay.com. Constellation of Perseus and Medusa, by Sidney Hall in Urania's Mirror via WikiCommons. Mosaic floor with head of Medusa, 1-2 century CE, National Museum of Rome via WikiCommons. Air show airplane by balanrc via Pixabay.com.