Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace… the high trespassed sanctity of space, put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Royal Canadian Airforce Pilot and war poet, John Gillespie Magee. Died in a mid-air collision over England in 1941.
The Queen is dead. She has slipped the bonds of Earth, along with millions of others who died yesterday. Public reaction to the death of the Queen surged quickly. A strange, spontaneous tide. And as a nation mourns, sorrow lands wetly on the hearts of those who never knew her on the eve of a watery Pisces Full Moon. “From the loss of Diana to Brexit, spontaneous outpourings of emotion terrify those in power. How will they respond now?” writes Marina Hyde in The Guardian.
The archetype of Queen is a powerful one. In England, the monarchy serves as a receptacle for collective projections, a fulcrum of purchase and stability amidst a churning sea of change. While politicians carry our collective imperfections and foibles, a Queen sits high above us all, serene, steadfast, unsullied by the messiness of life.
Change has its own cadence. It slides in, suddenly, catching us unprepared, or it seeps in softly, lapping at foundations of our lives, rising in increments until we are fully submerged.
Tonight, an incandescent Pisces Moon carries us across the threshold of emotion, bathing us all in luminous light as we grieve private losses, as we mourn a dead Queen and a dying world. This Full Moon conjoins elusive Neptune, a planet associated with sacrifice and redemption; with contagions that cannot be contained, with hysteria that surges and spills over; with those unfathomable, mysterious things that we can’t measure, touch, or see.
Neptune turns a ghostly face to our human need to hold onto what we love. Boundaries dissolve, treasured possessions disappear. We learn that everything is transient. And when we hold on too tightly, Virginia Woolf reminds us, “buildings fall; even the earth perishes. What was yesterday a cornfield is to-day a bungalow.”
Grief, Faith, and Belief are strung like precious pieces of coral around the Fishes’ tails. The delicate essence of Pisces—so often infused with a tincture of loss and longing—awakens our yearnings, diffuses our dreams with dappled remembrances, inchoate sorrow. This rhythmic, watery imagery may permeate our world-weary lives with a longing to return to what we have neglected: those simple pleasures that are the arteries of life itself, those bonds of love that nourish and sustain.
Pisces is associated with The Hanged Man in the Tarot, directing us as initiates to suspend our worldly concerns and turn our gaze inwards, shifting our perspective. Throughout human history, times of drought, plague, famine, flood, and myriad human atrocities have crushed civilizations. Yet from the shards of broken lives rise mystical visions and Marian apparitions. New perceptions perfume the air.
Astrology is a language of metaphor and symbolism that mirrors what emerges in the collective and in our personal lives. We are at a time of collective ending, already glimpsed in extreme weather, the miasma of political machinations, and sharp-edged transitions that precede new beginnings in our own lives.
Mercury turned Retrograde in relational Libra on September 9th and will be apparently travelling backwards through the heavens until October 2nd. The Retrograde cycle of Mercury occurs three times every year and moves through the elements of fire, air, earth, and water, in a procession across the zodiac, alerting us the rhythm of inner reflection that is needed for a more conscious experience of living. In Libra, the sign associated with balance and harmony, the focus falls on our relationships, with each other and with all living things. As we widen our circle of compassion, Plato reminds us “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
Mercury’s realm is magical trans-formation. He was the god of crossroads and times of transition. This fluid, shape-shifting archetype influences communication, transport, and learning, and this Retrograde offers an opportunity to pause, to catch up, to review our inner lives, our inner truths.
A Retrograde Mercury asks us to be patient and tenacious in the face of delays or obstacles, amidst the ceaseless, clamorous chatter or the polarity of choice that skewers us in indecision. We are collectively in the alchemical stage of solution. Jung describes this process as “the selfish hardness of the heart is dissolved: the heart turns to water. The ascent to the higher stages can then begin.” As we make fluid our rigid routines, dissolve our hardened habits, cleanse the debris of emotional blockages, we draw moisture into our parched lives, as we flow outwards again. As we pray. Emily Dickinson’s brief poem captures the sea-language of Pisces. When a dear friend she loved died, she wrote: “each that we lose takes part of us; a crescent still abides, which like the moon, some turbid night, is summoned by the tides.”
Mercury slips back into Virgo on September 22nd, the day the Sun moves into Libra on that important cross quarter day of the Equinox. As they cross the threshold, the Sun and Mercury join Venus and the Moon in Virgo, honing our ability to attend to the details, to pare away those things that are superfluous, to act with humility and discernment. In myth, Mercury was the only god who travelled back and forth from the Underworld.
“Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth,” writes Naomi Shihab Nye. As the tethered fish of Pisces draw us deeper, may they guide our prayers and direct our dreams, heighten our empathy for those who are struggling with depression or loneliness; for those who feel that they have lost their way and yet are in quiet motion. We are collectively moving through a time of initiation that may transform us at our core. Our healing may come from losing things, feeling our future dissolve in a moment, stirring us into a more conscious awareness of the power of Love that blooms in our hearts.
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