Scorpio Station Retrograde
Scorpio Station. Picture by Eric Francis.

Scorpio Station Retrograde

by Eric Francis

MERCURY stationed retrograde in Scorpio Saturday afternoon across the United States and the evening in the UK and Europe. The retrograde is noteworthy for being in a water sign (rare enough), and also for being exactly aligned with the now-complete (but still close) Jupiter-Saturn square, a unique mark of distinction and sign of the times.

This 90-degree aspect (square) between the two largest planets in our solar system (together comprising more than 2,000 times the size of the Earth), reaching from Leo to Scorpio, has just completed its third pass in the course of one year, and now Jupiter is getting ready to move onto other horizons (in particular, Sagittarius, next month, pretty big news). Mercury retrograde sets off the square, making a second conjunction to Jupiter and another square to Saturn over the next few days at the beginning of the retrograde cycle.

This will have the effect of 'summing up' the square and everything it's represented for us during the past four seasons. Squares represent aspects so tense it's difficult to approach both planets at once. So we tend to go back and forth between the planets involved, gradually integrating them into one idea. In this instance, the discussion is between the planet of expansion, and the planet of the boundary that contains the growth or expression. Saturn and Jupiter are in this respect two facets of the same process. Think of them as hands on a pottery wheel, Jupiter inside the pot pushing it outward, Saturn outside holding the shape and form. You are the clay.

Mercury in Scorpio during the next five or so weeks will also make a series of conjunctions to the diversity of other planets now in that sign, after retrograding over Jupiter meeting the Sun, Venus and Mars. Mercury then goes direct and makes another series of conjunctions, but this time mostly in Sagittarius -- the next phase, the next chapter, the eventual result of what we experience just next.

All of these planets making conjunctions are giving animation, character and finally a vehicle for expression for our Scorpio story, which is for most people a story that is unspeakable or at best rarely spoken. It is the place we reach the limit of the taboo. When you are talking about sex with a friend and then stop the story short of going further, just short of the detail that counts the most, you have just reached the edge of Scorpio country. However, we are now all decidedly immersed in this energy, which you will read in astrology books is about sex, death and transformation. In truth Scorpio is the sign of the mysteries of birth and death, which many institutions have an interest in keeping veiled.

When actual experience begins, Scorpio is the point of surrender; of no return; the verge where ego dissolves into ripples of living energy and growth from the inside-out. Scorpio is first about the revelation of one's secrets of life to oneself, then bonding with another in the process. This is precisely opposite how we typically relate, which is from the outside in.

There is an abyss between men and women, and it divides us horribly against ourselves. We should learn this at school, so we can raise awareness about the inner work to be done and the long process of harmonization that we inevitably go through in life, one way or another. We're not, however, told that the union of our anima and animus, inner female and male, is selflove and self-acceptance, and the path to collective peace. The current Scorpio alignment is bringing anima and animus close together now, merging them in the sign of bonding and surrender. Externally, these aspects of psyche are acted out as erotic polarities that we experience in relationships. Internally, they are facts of who we are.

Venus and Mars meet the Sun, for a while, our identity and sense of individual consciousness. Yet does the soul have a sex? Perhaps not; perhaps it's the inner embrace of the masculine and the feminine, the inner lovers reunited in each one of us. When those inner lovers are at odds, experiencing the frightening chasm between male and female as an (often unconscious) inner experience, a profound sense of alienation and isolation can result. This often results in the game of projecting maleness or femaleness onto our opposite sex partner, contacting it as an external rather than inner experience.

Instead of projecting our lacks into the gender game, we can, if we are willing, meet in the common collective ground of the inner balance of the lovers within. This is all Libra material, and we've lived through some of that lately, but the evolution is that, in resolving this in social interaction, we can go into the depths of the sexual implications That is where the real healing has to occur, or is occurring, and I think we all know this, however brilliantly or dimly.

Who would think that to resolve our sense of isolation in the world, we need to allow our inner polarities to meet and live in peace? Perhaps it's occurred to you, perhaps you've experienced the sense of peace that comes with making contact with your whole psyche, not just the half you were told was you.

This has a bit of an androgynous quality, where gender, sex and sexual roles, and modes of existence (thinking, feeling, speaking) morph, merge, and then express themselves in original ways. This is different than the blurring of gender that's created by many cultural conditions and influences (women feeling they have to act like men to succeed; men feeling they must act like women to be acceptable to women). To the contrary, androgyny is about embracing the experience of diversity and polarity rather than denying it.

Through this process, Chiron is the teacher. In Aquarius, he points to our collective wound. Conjunct another Centaur planet, called Nessus, we have a clue that the wound is about abuse. Chiron-Nessus in Aquarius represents many levels of abuse, principally psychological and media-driven. Aquarius is also the space in which something that happens is sanctioned by the culture, or made mandatory. Any form of peer pressure or social control is an Aquarian device. As you might imagine, there are many potential expressions to Chiron-Nessus in Aquarius, which is an era-defining conjunction that has been developing for at least the past two years. Chiron-Nessus in Aquarius is the reminder of how fearful it can be to encounter people, particularly the expectations of groups that so deeply shape our personal sexual expression.

Aquarius also represents tribal property, and sex as property of the tribe. Now with personal planets (Venus, Mars, Sun) squaring Chiron from Scorpio, the point is emphasized, in essence triggering or evoking our gender polarities as an inner experience, in the deepest and most sensitive part of our being (typically, the Scorpio zone in a chart). Not coincidentally, Scorpio can be scary territory, as frightening as an inner emotional struggle to resist an inevitable orgasm, or confronting a desire that can never be fulfilled; only dragged out over years. Why we might do this is a question, and for a reason we need look no further than what we've experienced, what was done to us, the lies we were told, and all that we've been denied in terms of sexual information and experience.

We might also consider the way we are conditioned into a state of perpetual desire rather than fulfillment, which is one of the most important qualities of effective marketing. We just don't realize those bra and panty ads are killing us slowly.

We tend to view our sexual wound or sense of isolation as an individual thing, when really it's something that everyone experiences at some point, many people often, and too many all the time. It would take a large burden off our shoulders to see this as a collective crisis. However, to do that, to break the isolation, we would need to learn how to talk about what we're experiencing, and not only that, to listen to others about their experiences. The point of coming out of isolation is that we don't do it alone.

Presumably these conversations would occur in intimate settings, and here we have an immediate problem: it's rare indeed for two people who are sexually bonded or even interested in one another to actually reveal the bottom of their erotic trove to their partner. That is, the willingness to share all experiences and desires, no matter what they may be. Many people object to this 'in principle', suggesting that knowing 'too much' about our partners is not a good thing because it 'spoils the mystery'. But the journey of growth and completion, the journey of real intimacy, requires that people who are intimate be intimate, and that there be no prior limits put on self-knowledge.

Too often the limits placed on relationships or sexual experiences are deeply hooked specifically into fear of self-knowledge. This is the over-arching theme of fundamentalist sexual values, of any stripe: deny yourself knowledge. Even the famous tree in the Garden of Eden was the tree of knowledge, and the word 'know' is often a sexual metaphor, i.e., to 'know in the Biblical sense'. To deny knowledge is to deny awareness and thus deny life.

One thing we are in collective denial about is that where sex is concerned, one size does not fit all. Monogamy is mandatory, but then there are 100 varieties of the stuff, most of which conflict and would be regarded as false by others. To 'maintain' monogamy, often cheating is necessary; some degree of denial is considered natural or socially acceptable, and even healthy; and a significant number of people are moved by their circumstances to divide their character yet again. There is a solution, and it involves honoring freedom of choice, that is, the choice to be any particular way -- including monogamous. Then, affirming everyone's inherent freedom, we can finally experiment with being honest.

Admittedly, within relationships, it's very often terrifying to hear the honest basics of what your partner has done, and needs or wants. Both people (or more, if they are available) must be willing to experience jealousy and to support (or at least endure) the jealous experiences of the other. Even with decades of experience listening and sharing, deep fears can arise, particularly fear of abandonment, or the fear of change. Energy moves, relationships shift and evolve, and we both bond and become more distinct as individuals at the same time, as we share these inner realities.

So (perhaps with a touch of irony) one of the risks is, specifically, closeness. Honesty means being honest about one's real needs, which any astrologer can tell you, many people struggle with expressing in their relationships and even within the sanctity of their own feelings. And it means being honest with ourselves and those we call intimate, about our past and history.

Indeed, this may well be 'impossible' for some individuals and push others to the breaking point. Here, we might remember that when a heart breaks, it breaks open. When a mind breaks, often it breaks free. When a relationship comes under the stress, influence or impact of truth, the partners will either become closer and reach a deeper level of understanding, or move on from one another -- and this need not be as violent as we make it in our society. But we do go out of our way to deny the process of growth, which is change -- and that is violent.

Any retrograde planet is a harkening back to the past. Mercury, a planet often associated with the childhood environment and also with androgyny, will scale nearly half of Scorpio in reverse during the next 23 days, encountering numerous planets along the way, gathering the energy of them all. Mercury strives to convey its thoughts, not just keep them -- so it's something of a healing balm for Scorpio to have Mercury make a rare retrograde in this sign. This may represent a trip back to the recesses of all that we have forgotten. There, we may see the damage that was done, and recover some of the treasure that was lost.

-- with Paloma Todd

Scorpio Station Retrograde

Anya from the Book of Blue series (nudity)

Other Reading
Unbroken Chain by Eric Francis

Musical Interlude
The Weight by The Band. One of the most magnificent and cryptic rock songs ever recorded, here is the song, the lyrics by Robbie Robertson and an insightful Wikipedia entry.
Go down, Miss Moses, there's nothin' you can say
It's just old Luke, and Luke's waitin' on the Judgement Day
"Well Luke, my friend, what about young Anna Lee?"
He said, "Do me a favour, son, won't you stay an' keep Anna Lee company?"