Eclipse season comes a little bit earlier during 2012 than the previous year. The May-June 2012 eclipses, which take place along the Gemini-Sagittarius axis, will initiate a new six-month soli-lunar cycle related to travel, education, intellectual and sporting pursuits. Given that London will host the Olympic Games in the summer of 2012, this particular pairing of signs seems rather apt.
For a detailed astrological look at London 2012 and a discussion of Mayor, Boris Johnson’s chart, visit my July 2012 Astro-Insights column.
SOLAR ECLIPSE IN GEMINI
Events get underway in May, with an annual solar eclipse on the 20th of May 2012. Taking place very close to midnight (23h47 BST/17hh47 EST), and only a few hours after the Sun’s ingress into Gemini, this particular solar eclipse also occurs EXACTLY one month before the summer solstice (which this year occurs on the 20th of June at 23h09 when the Sun enters Cancer). It therefore has a very liminal feel to it – very apt if one considers the nature of Mercury, the planetary ruler of Gemini, who is mythically associated with being an intermediary between the gods and men, and one of the few pagan gods to be bestowed with the qualities of a psycho pomp, i.e. who could cross over between the realms of the living and the dead.
FIXED STAR ALCYONE
What is more, from a Visual Astrology point of view, this particular eclipse takes place very close to the Star known as Alcyone, which forms part of the Pleiades group. According to Bernadette Brady, this star is associated with inner vision – the kind of seeing that usually becomes clearer when outer forms of sight are dulled, such as at midnight – so named because it was considered to be the darkest hour of the night. In Ancient Egyptian solar mythology, this is the point where Ra, the Sun god dies and is reborn via a ‘conjunction’ or merging with Osiris, the god of death and fertility. According to the famous Egyptologist, E.A. Wallis Budge, Osiris seems at one time in Egyptian history to have been associated with the Moon and fertility. In a chapter of his book, Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection,’ entitled ‘Osiris as a Moon God’ he writes:
It is certain however, that just as at one time the star Orion was regarded as his abode in the sky [Orion, incidentally is situated in the constellation of Gemini at around 17 degrees of celestial longitude] and Sothis [Sirius] that of Isis, so at one period, Osiris was identified with the Moon. This fact was well-known to Plutarch who says that on the New Moon of the month of Phamenoth which falls in the beginning of the spring [the Third of Peret, roughly equivalent to the period between 10 March and 8 April], the Egyptians celebrate a festival which is expressly called by them ‘the Entrance of Osiris into the Moon’…a statement which is supported by a passage from the Book of Making the Spirit of Osiris….Thus it is quite clear that Osiris was regarded as the power of the Moon, which produced the Nile flood and therefore all the fertility in Egypt.1
Given that Gemini is the sign presiding over this eclipse – one which we can interpret symbolically as the power of the Moon ‘eclipsing’ that of the Sun – and that Gemini is the sign where Orion (or Sabu to the Egyptians) is located, it would seem as though we are dealing with an occultation themed around the initiation into deeper forms of knowledge – a movement away from those masculine, logical forms of knowing so highly valued by those in power in the West (as symbolised by the Sun) towards a deeper understanding of the secret meaning of life and death (here symbolised by the Moon, goddess of the unconscious, instinctive forms of knowing).
Returning to Brady’s interpretation of the meaning of the star Alcyone, we learn that:
Alcyone is associated with a desire to seek inner knowledge and is linked with the Fates and the judgement of the dead. It is a star which suggests visionary and mystical abilities, but also a potential for ruthlessness or judgemental anger. It can be associated with great insight, but also narrow-mindedness.2
It is therefore interesting that at the time of the eclipse, Jupiter and Mercury, the planets which rule Gemini and Sagittarius, will be within orb of a conjunction to each other (which perfects on the 22nd) and within 6-8 degrees of the Sun and Moon. This almost seems to reinforce the idea that our attitude towards those concepts and activities ruled by Gemini and Sagittarius (which include travel, learning, teaching, writing, communication, belief systems, commerce and politics) will undergo a revisioning or change in perspective over the next six months.
This solar eclipse forms part of the 14 South Saros Series which began in August 1984 and will continue until 30 September 2048. Bernadette Brady interprets this eclipse family as being synonymous with success borne out of ‘long periods of hard work’ as well as the long awaited breakthrough or acceptance of an idea or methodology developed zealously by an individual who may have dedicated many years of his/her life to explore and promote it. In the ‘birth chart’ for this eclipse, it is interesting that both Jupiter and Mercury are prominent via midpoint harmonics…3
One thing to be aware of is that very next aspect that the Moon makes after joining with the Sun is a square to Neptune. Although this offers the opportunity of bringing the wisdom of dreams and creative imagination to bear on more intuitive emotional forms of intelligence, it does also have the power to deceive, confuse or blur boundaries a little – something that has always been a risk when it comes to mystical, psychic or esoteric ways of knowing. It is therefore a good idea to take care when presenting such ideas to the world, lest they come across as flaky, unsubstantiated or not well thought-through – people with a scientific/materialist outlook are sceptical enough – there is no need to give them ammunition to discredit your ideas or ways of thinking any further.
Previous eclipses in this series during the 20th and 21st centuries occurred in: 1904, 1922, 1940, 1958, 1976, and 1994.
LUNAR ECLIPSE IN SAGITTARIUS
On the 4th of June 2012 at 11h12 BST (06h12 EST), a lunar eclipse in Sagittarius will complete the circle. As an inversion of the previous occultation, it will be solar energy that now prevails over lunar energy. However, we also know that Full Moons usually signify a time of endings, so perhaps one could interpret this eclipse as an end to the predominance of male, cerebral beliefs and thought systems? As if to reinforce this assertion, Venus will be hovering very close to the Sun at the time of the eclipse – in fact, she will be two degrees ahead of the Sun, and rather intriguingly, because she is retrograde, heading back towards it.
In traditional astrology, any planet that comes too close to the rays of the Sun becomes ‘combust’. According to Deborah Houlding,
In tradition astrological technique, a planet is said to be combust when within 8°30′ of the Sun. It is used to signify someone who is ill, in great fear, imprisoned, or incapable of taking action. A planet beyond the limits of combustion but within 17° of the Sun is said to be ‘under the Sun’s beams’. The interpretation is milder than that of combustion, suggesting someone who is under the shadow of fear without being in the middle of it. In both cases it is worse for the conjunction to be applying (indicating that the worst of the condition is still to be faced) than separating. If a planet is within 0°17′ of the Sun, however, it is termed Cazimi, ‘in the heart of the Sun’, a position of great dignity from where it benefits by being ‘at one’ with the Sun’s influence.4
In this case we have a rather paradoxical situation – although Venus is ahead of the Sun, and theoretically therefore, separating from it, because Venus is retrograde, the situation is reversed…Venus will also be very close to an exact square with that other planet of masculine strength and virility – Mars. One could almost envision that the feminine, sexuality in particular, is under some sort of attack
Interestingly, during Venus retrograde periods, which only happens every 18 months or so (an interesting number – almost like a mini-Saros cycle made up of 18 ‘moons’) we experience a phenomenon known as the ‘inferior conjunction’ with the Sun. This occurs when the orbits of the earth and Venus line up in such a way that Venus appears to be passing across the face of the Sun. However, this occurrence is even rarer than the inferior conjunction because of the inclination of Venus’ orbit to the plane of the ecliptic (path of the Sun) as seen from the earth (which is tilted 23 degrees on its axis).
This year on 5-6 June, we are due to witness such an occurrence. According to Space.com:
This is among the rarest of astronomical events. In fact, between the years 2000 B.C. and 4000 A.D., there have been only 81 Venus transits. Humans have recorded witnessing only six of them (in 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882, and most recently, in 2004). It’s not impossible that a transit of this planet might have once been seen by chance in ancient times, near sunrise or sunset. Or perhaps some ancient observer with a keen eye, viewing the sun on an unusually hazy day, might have glimpsed Venus’s dark image (reporting it as “a dark mark on the sun”) on the solar disk.
Unlike other years then Venus will not pass ‘under the beams of the Sun at sunset and become invisible as she does normally – instead you could say that she will in effect, eclipse or occult the Sun. So, despite the onslaught from all the masculine astrological energies, then, one could say that during the first half of the 2012 eclipse season, it is the feminine planets that will come out on top – which makes for a pleasant change.
VENUS-MOON: THE DIFFICULTIES OF BALANCING SUCCESS & FAMILY LIFE
A final observation though – after eclipsing the Sun, the Moon will also square Mars and then move on to an opposition with Venus. Here, then we have the two feminine planets facing up to each other from opposite sides of the sky. What could it mean? Perhaps it is suggesting that, for women to be taken seriously by society in their own right, they need to find a balance between how they integrate their roles as carers and nurturers on one hand, and objects of sexual desire, on the other into the bigger picture? Women have long been discriminated against for using both of these roles as excuses not to commit to their careers or take on too much outward responsibility. Perhaps it is time that women started to show the world that worldly success is not incompatible with fulfilling relationships or family life. In fact, real quality of life demands a balance between work and home, something that the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, seems to espouse. In a recent BBC radio broadcast, he defended himself against allegations from political opponents, published in an article in the Financial Times, that he ‘put the school run before the national interest’ by saying:
“You know, it’s got to the possible to be a decent husband, a good father and a good Prime Minister at the same time. If it isn’t possible, then there’s something wrong. And actually I would go further than that: The big thing you have to do as prime minister is make a lot of judgement calls and decisions….But, and this is the big point: if you are completely fried and exhausted and have no time for your family and never go for a jog or play a game of tennis or whatever – if you never do those things, you’ll get into a situation where you make very bad judgements because you’ll be exhausted and stressed and all the rest of it. So do I try and live some sort of normal life and all the rest of it? Yes, and I don’t apologize for that!”5
Spoken like a true Sun Libran! And we don’t need to spell out what planet rules that particular sign!
In summary then, it is possible that over the next six months, we will see a shift in ideas and viewpoints concerning feminine values within society that lead to a re-definition of success which includes family values and healthy relationships, as well as the need for a balance between work and play. No bad thing, when you consider the rising numbers of stress-related complaints being reported by doctors and psychologists. In your own life, you may wish to spend the next six months working on achieving a better relationship to your feeling and intuitive side, as well as with your body and/or sexuality.
1. Sir Ernest.A.Wallis Budge, (1911), Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, Volume 1, pp. 384-5
2. Bernadette Brady, (2008), Star and Planet Combinations, p. 89
3. Bernadette Brady, (1992), Predictive Astrology, pp.328-9
4. Deborah Houlding, Time, the Egyptians and the Calendar at:http://www.skyscript.co.uk/heritage/egyptians.html
5. David Cameron speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on 23.4.2012