Elemental Jupiter

Feeling lucky? Jupiter is on the minds of many astrologers I read lately, because it has just stationed direct after a months-long retrograde period.

Generally, Jupiter retrograde doesn’t result in chaos the way Mercury retrograde can. Jupiter is a benefic, a planet that brings opportunity everywhere it goes. When Jupiter is retrograde, some of those opportunities may be less obvious or on hold and it’s a good time to assess how any expansion-related projects are going — things like higher learning, new languages, and travel are classic Jupiter topics.

That said, just because Jupiter is generous and easygoing doesn’t mean that opportunity rolls in effortlessly. I read this in Mystic Medusa’s Friday email last week and thought it was absolutely brilliant:

When Jupiter Vibe first kicks up, it does not feel “lucky” or like obstacles being removed. It spins up into towering dissatisfaction with all limitations. It’s maddening. Grooves you were fine with two weeks ago feel like ruts, to be busted asap.

I have found this to be so true lately, so this was really gratifying to read.

If this resonates for you too, I’ve found it helpful to consider my natal Jupiter as a starting point for how I can work with the energy of this planet. Jupiter is the planet of luck and of natural acquisitions, and so one’s learning style and knack for finding opportunities are influenced by natal Jupiter sign.

Jupiter through the elements

Water signs: Jupiter in Cancer, Scorpio, or Pisces

While Jupiter is most at home in the fire sign of Sagittarius, it also has a home in Pisces and so works quite naturally with the water signs. These Jupiter natives are incredibly compassionate and have a lot of love to share with the world. Sometimes the act of harnessing that power might come down to communication, whether through the sharing of memories, of feelings, or of beliefs. Your power card: Nine of cups.

Fire signs: Jupiter in Aries, Leo, or Sagittarius

Fire is the most optimistic of the elements, and Jupiter is the most optimistic of the planets, so when these two combine you get an unstoppable sense of faith in one’s convictions. It’s hard to keep these enthusiastic folks down for long. The key to success with a fiery Jupiter is actually in harnessing enough of the earth element to stay grounded and focused on your goals; fireworks are great, but you can’t be burning out all the time. Your power card: Four of wands.

Earth signs: Jupiter in Taurus, Virgo, or Capricorn

Jupiter being the party planet, you might think it wouldn’t be happy in the sensible earth signs, but this is where it’s important to remember the benefic influence — it actually brings out the best in any element, earth included. Practical, pragmatic, and yet ambitious, Jupiter in earth signs can make and execute on a plan like no other element. They get a tremendous amount of work done and actually seem to enjoy the process. If your Jupiter is in earth, it’s a gift in a real sense that heightens the (often literal) value of what you produce. Your power card: the Eight of pentacles.

Air signs: Jupiter in Gemini, Libra, or Aquarius

Jupiter might actually have the most fun in the air signs, as it’s inclined to be slightly more outgoing like its fire sign siblings but also enjoys the natural connectivity of the air element. These people are constantly learning new things, and are quick to apply what they learn to their world. This can go in a lot of surprising directions. Your power card: the Fool — jump in and see what you can learn.

Not sure where your natal Jupiter is? Learn this and all your natal planetary placements by looking up your chart.

Personal Mercury astrology

Your Mercury sign is a major factor for how you deliver information to other people and absorb it in turn. It may be in the same sign as the Sun in your chart, which gives you a double boost of expressiveness in the style of that sign. You also might be able to guess other people’s Mercury signs just by paying close attention to how they talk.

Aries — Direct. Most of the time it never occurs to you to question their version of events.
Taurus — Thoughtful. They may even let you do more of the talking.
Gemini — Noncommittal. May offer way more information than you can process, sometimes to the point of contradicting themselves.
Cancer — Emo. There may be tears. They may be your tears.
Leo — Grand. Might be prone to exaggeration and “big ideas” that will overwhelm mundane matters. Don’t try to be louder, you’ll lose.
Virgo — Specific and unusually accurate. Most likely to have an encyclopedic memory for details.
Libra — Measured. Likely to wait for consensus on any point before moving on.
Scorpio — [redacted]
Sagittarius — Enthusiastic! You may feel really excited about whatever they told you but later realize they left out key information.
Capricorn — Rational. Quick to ask for clarification, especially if it’s to figure out who’s in charge of a situation.
Aquarius — Memorable and often funny. They ask direct questions, and you can take whatever they say at face value.
Pisces — Circuitous. You may be unclear on their central point, but still enjoy the conversation. Good at telling people what they want to hear, often in favor of the actual truth.

How do I find my Mercury sign?

You can get this information by looking up your time of birth in an ephemeris that tracks the planets’ movements. Or, you might find it simpler to look up your natal chart online; see How to look up your natal chart.

Earth cards showing major arcana Magician, Empress, Hierophant, Hermit, Devil, and World

Earth cards

Now that the sun is in Taurus, we’re in a sweet and powerful phase of the year, one that can give us a feeling of our strength in the world. Taurus is ruled by the planet Venus, which brings us all kinds of earthly delights in this sign.

When it’s earth energy you’re working with, think about what nourishes you on a physical level: what you’re eating, how comfortable your clothes are, where you like to sit.

You may already know that earth signs are associated with the suit of Pentacles in tarot. I often draw on tarot card associations when I’m writing astrological chart descriptions for people.

Many of the cards feel a little overly specific and sometimes depressing — do I really think the bummer 5 of pentacles, which is about feeling shortchanged and even snubbed, is how the average Taurus’s day feels? Not really, but I do recognize that there’s a particular shared earthy energy between them.

In tarot, these cards are associated with the fixed earth energy of Taurus.

  • 5 of pentacles
  • 6 of pentacles
  • 7 of pentacles
  • King of pentacles
  • the Hierophant
  • the Empress (because of Venus rulership)

As I thought about this, I started to wonder what all the cards in the same suit would feel like if laid out in the same place.

These cards are associated with the mutable earth energy of Virgo.

  • 8 of pentacles
  • 9 of pentacles
  • 10 of pentacles
  • Knight of pentacles
  • the Hermit
  • the Magician (because of Mercury rulership)

Rounding out the earth signs, these cards are associated with the cardinal earth energy of Capricorn.

  • 2 of pentacles
  • 3 of pentacles
  • 4 of pentacles
  • Queen of pentacles
  • the Devil
  • the World (because of Saturn rulership)

The major arcana cards of this set stand together in an interesting way. All are related to worldly experiences. The Hermit, Devil, and Hierophant connect to the earthy zodiac signs themselves, while the Magician, World, and Empress symbolically represent Mercury, Saturn, and Venus — the signs’ respective rulers.

If tarot interests you, I’ll just mention that I have a Medium series on the subject where I’m going one by one through the cards.

Completely scrambled characters

Symptoms of Mercury retrograde

Mercury is no longer retrograde! The Mercury retrograde that began on March 22 has ended, two days ago now, with the planet of communication stationing direct again.

We are still in what some call the shadow zone, where Mercury again travels along the path in space it just backed over and gets back to the point where it was when it first went retrograde. We’ll be past that point on May 7.

I’ve been keeping some notes to myself regarding the little phenomena that would only crop up during Mercury retro. I’m going to call these symptoms of Mercury retro — perhaps some of these will sound familiar to others’ experience?

  • Finding a lost letter on the bus, stamped and addressed but not yet mailed
  • Assigned a bewildering copyediting task, in the form of an article that was hurriedly translated from Japanese
  • Learning of a meeting thirty minutes past its start time, after becoming suddenly, completely, inexplicably disconnected from all means of work communication
  • After months without incident, my shoelaces are suddenly determined to come untied at least twice a day
  • At least two hours dedicated to troubleshooting a new video conferencing system plagued by microphone echoes
  • Attempting to print from my browser and getting the content translated into… whatever this is. The language of Mercury?

Completely scrambled characters

Most of these things gave me the distinct feeling of my brain — or someone else’s — running in reverse.

The next Mercury retrograde period this year will be at the end of July, just in time for summer travel snafus. Have patience, and double-check everything — not a cure, but it definitely mitigates the effects.

Eclipse notes

Last August I made a vacation out of the solar eclipse sighting, watching totality with my husband and two of our good friends. We were blown away by how powerful that felt; we learned later that solar eclipses cause waves in the very upper part of Earth’s atmosphere. Eclipse astrology aside, it absolutely is an amazing natural phenomenon.

The eclipse in August was in the sign of Leo. Solar eclipses only happen when the moon is new. When you witness totality you are watching the moment that the moon phase shifts from old to new.

The eclipse we’re hitting now is the flip side of that one — a total lunar eclipse, which only happens when the moon is full. The blood moon happens at the same eclipse point as where we watched the new moon being born back in August. Both of these moons are in the sign of Leo — sign of the lion, the leader, the king.

Because lunar eclipses happen with the moon in opposition to the sun (which is in fact the definition of a full moon), they are times of confrontation. Emotions may come to a head. At the time of the lunar eclipse the sun will be in Aquarius, Leo’s opposite. The Leo–Aquarius aspect can boil down to ego versus community, and tough questions about roles and responsibilities. People in power will have that power brought into question. It’s a ripe time for all kinds of revolutions.

Eclipses can feel like major events — and they often are — but you can work with them on a personal level, too. We all have areas of our charts where Leo and Aquarius are active, even if there aren’t any planets there. Both are social signs; Aquarius, an air sign, represents the community and collective action. Fire sign Leo represents leadership, and requires an audience in order to feel heard.

Both are fixed signs, skilled in the art of taking one thing and reworking it into something else. Leo does this in an outward, playful way — think of a circus, a production that pops up out of nowhere. Aquarius is more constrained to the world of ideas and intellect and relies on group action; a shouted slogan or a hashtag gaining influence among protesters is a very Aquarian kind of act.

In the past six months since the solar eclipse, have you been in any situations you would compare to a circus, times you felt you were in the spotlight? What about protests, or times when you advocated for a group of people? When have people looked to you for leadership, and how have you felt about being in that role? Do you want to be a leader in some way? Who are your “people” in that case — who do you want to advocate for?

For anyone who keeps a journal, this is also the perfect time to look back at last August and see what was on your mind around then. Some issues may have since been resolved; others were just beginning, and are perhaps now coming to a head.

Gemini moons are for listening

Sometimes air sign moons feel a little high-strung. Most of them qualify as insomnia moons in my book. They’re thinky, which is a weird zone for the moon to sit in. And Gemini in particular, the mutable air sign, can feel a little directionless.

Gemini is about all the little details and facts; not in a studied way like its fellow mutable sign Virgo, but in a social way. All air signs have some social element at play, and Gemini is all about communication. Gemini is the news, your neighbors’ news, your siblings, and anything you’re currently reading or listening to.

When the moon is in Gemini, the microphone is on. It’s an ideal time to learn things, or to express yourself to others (though you may have to compete for the spotlight). Expect to generate a lot of ideas, more than you’ll even be able to develop. Pay attention to Mercury, Gemini’s ruling planet. And if you feel overwhelmed or strung out, switch to listening mode. What sounds do you hear around you? What’s on TV or radio? What words are people around you using a lot?

People born with the moon in Gemini are sensitive to things like this by default. Often great conversationalists, they’re quick to make friends (and to learn any information those new friends might have to share). They sometimes seem to jump from one thing to the next with no prelude, but this is mostly a symptom of making constant rapid-fire connections and, in combination with that, being fundamentally compelled to acknowledge a new piece of information once it comes through.

And if you’re feeling distracted? Just roll with it and keep moving; Gemini is comfortable with the fact that there’s more information out there than you can possibly act on. Sometimes “in one ear and out the other” is a necessity so you don’t drown in the details.

Insomnia moons

Once in a while I’ll have trouble falling asleep at night, usually because for whatever reason my mind won’t stop coming up with new things to think about. More often than not, this happens when the moon is in Gemini, Virgo, or Aquarius. I’ve begun to refer to these as the insomnia moons, and have developed different strategies to deal with (and even enjoy) each.

It’s possible everyone has different insomnia moons, but two of my three are air signs and I feel that could be related. Air moons are the most cerebral of the bunch, inclined to seek out information and work with it in some way.

Virgo is an earth sign, but like Gemini it’s ruled by chatty Mercury. Virgo loves having a lot of data to work with and analyze, and is loath to leave work undone. Virgo responds well to making to-do lists. I love using Virgo moon time to look through cookbooks and pick out recipes I’d like to make. By the time I’m making the grocery list and scheduling out errands for the next 48 hours, I’m usually beginning to feel sleepy again.

Aquarius is thoughtful and persistent; it tends to get fixed on an idea (it’s a fixed air sign) and sometimes the best response is to honor that obsession by writing things down. It’s a great time to generate research leads. Personally I tend to do a lot of writing when the moon is in Aquarius.

As for Gemini — I resign myself to not getting much sleep once a Gemini moon has my mind fired up. Sometimes a boring book will help to tone it back down, but more often I end up staying awake and reading Twitter. I suspect calm music might help, maybe even a white noise machine.

All that said, I’ve slept soundly through plenty of Gemini moons, and my last restless night was with the moon in chill Taurus — so it isn’t always about the moon. Anyway, I figure it never hurts to gather data.

What are retrograde planets?

Planets are often said to be “retrograde,” and what this means is that they appear to move in reverse along the ecliptic.

What’s really happening is just a result of our planet’s orbit in relation to another; once in a while an inner planet will “lap” us in its path around the sun, or we’ll speed ahead of one of the outer planets. (Good scientific explainer here.)

There are a few crucial points astrologers care about when a planet goes retrograde.

Entering the “shadow” zone

The planet is still moving forward at this point, but it is now traveling over territory that it will return to during the retrograde. People may begin to feel effects of especially strong retrogrades now. The speed of the planet along the ecliptic begins to slow and will eventually come to a stop.

Station retrograde

When a planet stations, it appears frozen at a single point in the ecliptic like a temporary star. After stationing retrograde, a planet will then appear to move backwards through the ecliptic.

From here, the retrograde period has officially begun. To get a sense of how this will feel for a given planet, consider the strongest qualities of that planet — and then imagine second-guessing all of those things. Retrogrades happen most frequently with Mercury, which governs communications… and explains why so many messages seem to be delayed or waylaid during retrogrades.

Station direct

Here again, the planet is temporarily frozen in place and is now back to where it was when the “shadow” period began. Most importantly, it begins to move forward again from here! Whatever became foggy or unclear during the retrograde period begins to clear up around this time.

Leaving the “shadow” zone

The planet is now on its way through all the territory it crossed during the retrograde, and this is a great point to take stock of the full effect. What feels different now? What did you have to go back and adjust?

A note about modern planets

Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are considered the “modern” planets in astrology and their accurate observation is a matter of serious scientific progress. Traditional astrology covers only the planets you can see with your eyes; thanks to their proximity, the connection is simply stronger. For this reason, and also because the outer planets move so slowly, I don’t really count down the days of a Neptune retrograde (for example) like I would for Mercury.

My rule of thumb: Unless you’re working with powerful drugs (Neptune), literal dark matter (Pluto), or super-advanced electrical systems (Uranus), you can probably take outer-planet retrogrades in stride.

Incoming magic: Jupiter–Neptune trine

“This is travel and exotic destinations, intellectual success (your work, appreciated, your ideas getting a broader audience, your theories, proved — that sort of thing) but it is even more powerfully signalling an expansion of FAITH.”
— from Mystic Medusa, November horoscope for Pisces

FAITH. This is a beautiful word to sum up the combined influence of these two planets. Jupiter has confidence in spades and Neptune is all about belief, so these two working together can make for all kinds of fantastic spiritual journeys.

How can you expand your frame of reference? Where have you always dreamed of going? Are any opportunities opening up that are relevant to something you’ve always wanted but ruled out as impossible? Look for people who share your beliefs.

Where are Jupiter and Neptune now?

Jupiter is currently traveling through Scorpio, and Neptune has been making its way slowly through Pisces for the past six years. Planets in trine aspect to one another are always in the same element; in this case, Scorpio and Pisces are both water signs, so this is a water trine.

When it comes to these planets in particular, a water trine is the best arrangement available. Neptune, for starters, is in its “home” sign of Pisces. I’ve written a little before about how this pans out. Neptune is, simply, in a position to be very Neptunian about every aspect it touches. Imagination soars; anything seems possible; everything is connected.

Jupiter is fairly neutral about Scorpio, but it has a natural affinity with Pisces because in traditional astrology (the era before the “modern” planets of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were discovered) it rules that sign. It also happens to rule the trine aspect; anytime there’s a trine, Jupiter is supportive of it (even more so when it’s one of the planets making the aspect).

This means that whatever Neptune is serving up, Jupiter wants to magnify in the best light possible. Scorpio is all about investigation and getting to the bottom of things, too, so expect some deep truths to emerge from those ocean waters. I’d sum it up as “sea gods go pro.”

Mercury retro reminder: Don’t rush it

The Jupiter–Neptune trine will be exact on December 2, just a few hours before Mercury stations retrograde. This might be a good time for dreaming, but less good for making abrupt plans and expecting them to work out smoothly. Anything with “re-” as the prefix is a useful word during a retrograde: revise, revisit, rework, reread.

This period is a staging ground for something big. Give it time to grow properly and at its own pace, and to really listen to what emerges out of the depths. Jupiter and Neptune will make more trines in 2018, so there’s going to be plenty of opportunity to evolve through their combined influence.

Getting schooled: Mercury and Saturn in conjunction

Mercury and Saturn will make conjunctions three times between November 2017 and January 2018, thanks in large part to Mercury going retrograde in December (see specific dates below).

Mercury normally whips along the ecliptic at slightly faster rate than the sun, making its aspects to other planets brief — typically you won’t feel them for much more than a day. But the same aspect occurring three times in quick succession makes for an excellent medium-term study of astrology in action.

Saturn is the most taciturn of the planets, even when it’s in a fire sign like Sagittarius as it is now. It brings order and discipline to any scene it enters, and even though it might feel like a damper on fun it does help you get your act together in whatever area it chooses to make itself felt. It’s considered a “malefic” planet (as opposed to “benefic”) which says something about its nature; it does its job not by bringing you an opportunity (like Jupiter might) but by forcing you to get down to work.

Mercury isn’t malefic or benefic — it’s the in-betweener of planets, the messenger. So when Mercury makes aspects like these conjunctions to Saturn, it’s really going to amplify whatever message Saturn is trying to get across in your life.

You might experience this as well-timed criticism, where someone literally tells you about a shortcoming you need to overcome. It might be something more indirect, like getting schooled in bar trivia and realizing you really don’t know shit about geography. And it might even feel good as it’s happening, like realizing your book-in-progress needs to go in a slightly different direction — stuff like that can clear out the mind-clutter that’s been holding you back from making real progress.

Questions to ask yourself during Mercury–Saturn conjunctions include:

  • What have you learned lately? Are you applying it?
  • How can you simplify or cut back on what you’re saying?
  • What sources of information can you trust to be consistent?
  • Is your mind focused? On what?
  • Have you asked enough questions to understand what you need?

Dates of the conjunctions

Times are all Pacific standard, -8:00 GMT.

November 27, 2017, at 10:59pm
27° Sagittarius
This first conjunction may bring a positive sense of clarity about something. It’s officially Sagittarius season at this point with festivities ramping up everywhere. Can you avoid distraction today for long enough to get the message?

December 6, 2017, at 4:05am
28° Sagittarius
This conjunction occurs shortly after Mercury goes retrograde, and is the most likely to come across as a scolding from Saturn. Be careful what you blurt out around this time, and prepare yourself to really listen to what people are telling you — even if it’s the uncomfortable truth that you’ve been wrong about something. You could learn something really valuable today.

January 12, 2018, at 11:03pm
2° Capricorn
Mercury and Saturn both will have changed signs at this point, and will be in Saturn’s “home” sign of Capricorn. This should feel like a very different conjunction as a result and will be a fantastic time for goal-setting. Use what you’ve learned from the past two conjunctions to make it a realistic one — but still challenge yourself! In ambitious Capricorn this shouldn’t be a problem.