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This was written at the beginning of August, but never completed because my life took a turn for the overwhelming and I just had no energy for it. I'm posting it as-is – i.e. unfinished, unrevised for clarity, etc. – essentially as a forecast accuracy check.

If you're anything like me, you're wondering what the hell is wrong with the world right now. The short answer is that there's an overwhelming glut of negative energy all coming down at once. Astrologically, we can look at it at an archetypal level and get a better understanding of the factors at work. Also, we can get a fair idea of how long the hardest parts of the conflict are going to last.

Forgive the length of this post, but there's quite a lot going on. We're going to look at three separate charts in this post because what we're feeling right now corresponds to the accumulated energy of several separate major astrological events.

For the record, I am NOT in the camp that believes the planets' orbits somehow 'cause' effects in our lives. I stand with those who observe a discernable correlation between orbital events and trends in our lives, as if the same force is working on both a macro and micro scale. It makes me a fan of string theory, because multidimensional causality might account for the correlation. Unfortunately, as I understand it, the math to prove it doesn't exist yet, so we're stuck with unexplained correspondences…like these.

I. Eclipses

It's been a rocky summer so far, far more so than is accounted for in the Summer Solstice Forecast chart of six weeks ago. That led me to go back and investigate, and I realized that I hadn't taken into account the major eclipse events taking place this summer.

Solar eclipses represent major upheaval of old patterns; each one is a new beginning and its effects last for six months after the eclipse itself. In that regard you can look at them as a kind of Super New Moon. There were three solar eclipses in 2011, the last two of which were June 1st (Gemini) and July 1st (Cancer), which were in turn separated by a total lunar eclipse. It's extremely rare to have solar eclipses a month apart, and yet it's extremely telling in terms of what trends in our lives have been kick-started.

First, Gemini is the sign of communication, of seeing the other person's point of view, of having trouble deciding on a single point of view and sticking to it. Gemini is full of ideas, talks a mile a minute, is curious about everything, and desperately wants both to know and to convince others. It's also one of the home signs of Mercury, and all of Mercury's skills at communication, travel, and commerce also apply.

Second, Cancer is the sign of the home, of home turf, of security and nurturing, of creating a safe space for you and yours. People with a lot of Cancer in their charts tend to create beautiful homes and enjoy hosting parties, but they're loath to go out when they could otherwise stay in their perfectly decorated houses. It's also the Moon's home sign, and all the nurturing, maternal traits of the Moon also translate to Cancer.

Now, remember that we're dealing with eclipses, so for the next 5-6 months, we're looking at a massive remaking of the ways Gemini and Cancer issues unfold and manifest. With Gemini, we have everyone talking-talking-talking about things that we didn't consider "issues" several months ago. With Cancer, we have everyone very, very interested in defending their own turf and trying their best to protect their own interests against threats that didn't seem to exist not long ago.

That's the context for everything that follows below.

II. Mercury Retrograde

Our friend Mercury turned retrograde (at 1°12' Virgo) on August 2 at 10:50pm CDT and will remain retrograde until (reaching 18°42' Leo on) August 26 at 5:03pm CDT. If you have natal planets at a hard aspect to 1° Virgo (that is, planets located at 0, 90, 180 or 270 degrees from 1° Virgo), you may be having a particularly rough time with miscommunication troubles. Note: a minority of people born with Mercury Retrograde tend to find their lives go more smoothly during Mercury Ret periods. If this is you, congratulations!

The retrograde station chart gives us some insight into how the three week Mercury Retrograde period will go, and unfortunately, it is no walk in the park. First, Mercury is opposite the Neptune-Chiron conjunction in Pisces. Neptune brings fuzzy logic, while Chiron represents our sense of woundedness and ability to heal others. When Neptune and Mercury get together, it's a time for unparalleled miscommunication, as nebulous feelings, fantasies, and intoxication shunt aside cold hard facts.

Second, confrontational Mars in Gemini is directly opposed to transformative Pluto in Capricorn, and is in conflict-laden squares to the Moon in Virgo and to Uranus in Aries.

Let's take a moment to break that down. Remember, planets are the characters on the stage, signs are the costumes (attitudes) they're wearing, aspects (square, opposition) are the basic nature of their current relationship.

Mars is our archetypal warrior, presently dressed in the outfit of the Great Communicator (Gemini). He's in the middle of a tug-o-war (opposition) with Pluto the Power Broker, who is wearing efficient, corporate Capricorn. Oppositions are fairly easy to understand because both parties agree on the issues they're battling over.

However, Mars is also having arguments with nurturing Moon, who is perfectly tailored in detail-oriented Virgo. Now, Mars and Moon are both wearing Mercury-ruled costumes right now, but the Moon in Virgo needs to nurture the world via organization and nit-picking, while Mars in Gemini needs to convince, persuade, and conquer. They are not on the same page at all, and thus there is a LOT of friction between them.

On the other side of the chart, Uranus is wearing the military fatigues of Aries, Mars' home sign. When wearing Aries, Uranus wants revolutionary ideas to conquer the world, but the square from Uranus to Mars indicates friction between ideals and action, the square from Uranus to Pluto indicates friction between ideals and politics, and the opposition from Uranus to the Moon indicates the Moon has serious reservations about how the details of Uranus' ideals will work in reality.

Two more things: one, Jupiter (wearing wealth-focused Taurus) is at the Ascendant of this Mercury Retrograde chart, meaning everyone with any kind of cause will be on a soapbox trying to make themselves a cause célèbre and win financial backing. Two, Sun (amplified by a conjunction to Venus) is in Leo, sign of our greatest ego-needs, and square to Jupiter, derailing all of those plans for fundraising. Planets in Leo needs to be seen, need to be heard, need to be loved…but don't need to be RIGHT. Leo can be entirely wrong but doesn't care as long as everyone is cheering. Now, feed that into the Mercury-Neptune opposition, and you see how misinformation can get completely out of hand.

Last, remember this is a Mercury Retrograde chart. Mercury stations direct on August 26, and for the whole time period until then, we can expect all the typical communications failures endemic to Mercury retrograde. It's a time for a lot of shouting and little progress.

The key to getting through Mercury Retrogrades as unscathed as possible is to follow the guide of RE-: rethink, review, recheck, revise, redo, remember, reconnect, retry, renew. It is the time to go back and triple check plans for communication and travel, to go back and touch base with long-forgotten friends, to go back and finish/re-start necessary maintenance that was overlooked months ago. Patience and good humor are vital. As much as Mars may want to rail at the world for creating this mess, laying blame saps energy from efforts to FIX things. Focus on solutions and leave bruised egos aside.

III. The High Summer Forecast

Sun transiting 15° Leo
August 7, 2011
4:33:26pm EDT (3:33pm Central)
Washington, DC

So, when looking at the chart for the next six weeks, we need to take into account Mercury Retrograde, the two recent solar eclipses, and the seasonal chart for Summer Solstice, which is valid until Autumnal Equinox. The High Summer Forecast, from the Sun's hitting the midpoint of Leo, takes us from now until Sun reaches 0° Libra.

First, remember that Mercury is retrograde. Even though it stations direct on August 26, the fact of the retrograde in the forecast chart means the repercussions of this retrograde cycle will last until Autumnal Equinox. The intensity of the communication failures will ease off after the 26th, but it'll be several weeks before we see complete relief.

This chart is only five days after the Mercury Retrograde chart, so the conflict related to the slower moving planets is all still here. Do remember that challenging aspects bring opportunities for growth and positive change, which is great, but it isn't necessarily easy or fun. My best advice is to keep your eyes open and ride as much of the change like a surfer riding a wave. Use the momentum to your advantage as best you can.

Points of volatility

Okay, first, we have a whole slew of obsessive-compulsive quindecile (165°) aspects. These indicate an unrelenting obsessive relationship between the archetypes involved.

1. Mars – Ascendant. Mars is presently dressed in nurturing Cancer, while the Ascendant is in Sagittarius. Mars tends to nurture via brute force or smothering care and to leap in guns blazing to defend its babies. Meanwhile, the quindecile to the Ascendant may indicate a Sagittarian rushing in where angels fear to tread. Also, a propensity to jump to conclusions. Depending on house location, this could also manifest as domestic violence, attacking perceived enemies, and fear of losing face.

2. Pluto – South Node of the Moon. Pluto's dressed in corporate Capricorn and is located firmly within the first house of the Washington chart, meaning the overwhelming theme people think of in relation to the US this summer is plutonic transformation. (Pluto's retrograde, too, and so addressing the fallout of bad decisions made in the past is a huge issue.) The South Node of the Moon has to do with karma and era-defining events. Together, this points to the plutonic changes of this year having a long and historic effect.

3. Neptune – Sun & Venus. Neptune has moved retrograde into windy Aquarius, bringing confusion, murkiness, and miscommunication to 2nd house issues of personal wealth. Neptune brings dreams and creativity, yes, and Aquarian inventiveness may get quite a boost from this transit, but its effects on people's understanding of what's happening with their money is worrisome at best.

Sun & Venus, meanwhile, are dressed in playful Leo in the 8th house of secrets and other people's money (your mortgage, student loans, credit card debt, etc.). Sun is shining its spotlight on the world of finance, and Venus, the Lesser Benefic, is bringing all the blessings she can. However, the quindecile aspect to Neptune is bringing epidemic confusion to all matters related to money. Perhaps the best thing to hope for is a recognition of just how much confusion there is, so then people can get on with untangling all the misinformation.

Next, we have T-Square configurations, which is what you get when both ends of an opposition are square the same point. It's a tug-o-war plus friction between the third point and both poles.

1. Mercury opposed Neptune-Chiron, square Moon. Mercury, still dressed in Virgo but fast retrograding toward Leo, is skating backwards into the 8th house of secrets and creditors. He's in opposition to the Neptune-Chiron conjunction (Neptune at the end of Aquarius, Chiron at the beginning of Pisces), which are bringing fuzzy dreams and potential for healing into the second house of personal wealth (as they're both retrograde).

2. Pluto opposed Mars, square Uranus. Just as in the Mercury Retrograde chart above, Pluto is still square to Mars.

Points of helpful energy

- Jupiter, the Great Benefic, is in the 5th house of the Washington chart (that's the stage set of children, play, sex, creativity, fun), wearing lush, materialistic Taurus and making a helpful trine to transformative Pluto in corporate Capricorn.


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