About This Eclipsey August


August looks to be a rather dynamic, bold, and potentially bumpy month astrologically, thanks to an upcoming pair of eclipses letting us know it's time to flip our current story to the next chapter.

I've long referred to eclipse periods—that is, the few weeks surrounding these ultra-potent lunations, which come twice a year—as 'chapter-markers' in the narrative unfolding of our life's dramas. Brewing developments reach their climax. Events hit a critical turning-point. One recent thematic focus draws to a notable stopping-place, and/or another quickly picks up prominence.

Next Monday (Aug 7) brings us a lunar eclipse full moon in Aquarius, bolstered by supportive aspects from both Jupiter and Saturn. The bigger news comes two weeks later (on Aug 21), in the form of a total solar eclipse new moon in Leo… which you've probably heard about if you're American, due to its path of visible totality extending across our continent.

Against this eclipse-activated backdrop of story-advancing activity, the month is made that much livelier—and potentially more aggressive (if not merely melodramatic)—by an ongoing conjunction between the Sun and Mars in Leo. Though their exact conjunction already happened last week (on Jul 26), these two continue to operate as an allied unit through the duration of the Sun's transit across Leo (which ends when the Sun enters Virgo on Aug 22, just a day after the solar eclipse). Even as it moves away from exactitude, this conjunction remains more effectively vital than the typical separating aspect because (1) Mars still must 'report back' for expression to the Sun, its dispositor, and (2) both the Sun and Mars are flanking the Moon's North Node, with conjunctions from either side, thus bringing the three together into a single concentrated force-to-be-reckoned-with.

As a conjoined pair, the Sun and Mars thrust our personal desires to the forefront, whether we intend to do so or not… and increase our instinctual itch to grab for what will satisfy us, no matter how it may upset the balance or rile a competing factor. Our conscious sense of self becomes indivisible from that which we want, strengthening our determination to score that yearned-for prize, win a certain someone's admiration or devotion with our valiant deeds, and/or vanquish the dreaded demon. We are less afraid to fight for the victory, even if it makes us irritating or unlikable.

This classic Sun-Mars battle-of-wills energy will only be made more theatrical and vivid by the zodiacal influence of fiery Leo, a sign of egoic pride and expressive generosity. Leo thrives on showing itself to all who may wish to see (and to some who don't), though not necessarily for the self-aggrandizement purposes the unfair stereotype alleges. Leo merely wishes to shine its life-force as brightly as it can, both as an offering to the world and a duty to actualize its fullest potential. At the same time, Leo finds it hard not to situate itself in the center of any tale it's playing a part in ('who else should I center my life around but myself?' it might ask, and not unreasonably). It paints the action in bright colors and brash strokes, like a gripping cinematic journey or snazzy stage production—and itself as the valiant hero or tragic victim, rather than supporting wallflower or uncredited extra.

With the Sun conjunct Mars in Leo, then, our self-assertions will attract more attention to us. Our first-impulses may tend toward exaggeration, especially if we feel like our reputation's on the line. Our quarrels and spats too easily turn into epic struggles: Honor vs Disgrace, Truth vs. Illegitimacy, Good vs Evil. Nothing's especially subtle or ordinary. Nearly everything flashes its conspicuous flair.

The North Node's presence alongside the Sun (an indicator that eclipses are coming) and Mars in Leo tells us these 'epic struggles' are not to be avoided if they are critical to our continuing self-evolution. If we are indeed fighting for Honor, Truth, and The Highest Good, we must heroically rise to the occasion. We must proudly show ourselves, in our fullest splendor-and-glory, and beam the life-giving warmth and light we emanate whenever we act from our heart's wisdom. Such fights become far less noble when motivated more by domination or ego-defense than generosity of spirit. Leo's less loving side will come out if we feel our personal story is worthier than someone else's, or if our efforts at self-actualization are based in actively thwarting others from doing the same. At its best and its worst, this is the energy being carried by the Aug 21 solar eclipse.

But first, we face the eclipsed Full Moon on Aug 7, with the Moon conjunct its South Node in Aquarius… offering us a hint into what to watch out for, as we channel our will toward actualizing our own life-giving agendas. Though Aquarius is often described as a sign that embraces alternative philosophies and diverse viewpoints, it does have a regressive side, too. (Aquarius's traditional ruler is Saturn, after all.) Left to its own devices, Aquarius can fall prey to believing it knows what's best for everyone… devising ideologies and organizing-systems that reserve all players their fair swath of freedom, yet discouraging anyone from shining too bright an individuating light, lest they diverge too sharply from the aims it presumes we collectively share. Aquarius also relies heavily on its intellect and the progressive-sounding theories it masterfully produces, yet sometimes falls woefully short in empathy for dissenters and outliers whose intrinsic being is fundamentally at odds. That's why Aquarians are said to love humanity as a concept, but aren't especially touchy-feely about the actual people themselves.

With the Aquarius Full Moon trine to Jupiter in Libra at the time of its eclipsing, we must take care that our rhetoric matches our behavior… that we aren't speaking fairly but acting selfishly, claiming, for instance, to revere 'liberty' only when it suits our worldview. To be ever more authentic, we may have to drop our claims to a vaster understanding or the theoretical higher-ground—and instead admit our convictions are a matter of personal preference or passion (not innately superior knowledge), though that needn't make them any less powerful or deserving of the good fight.

Jupiter's role here is important, as it forms its third-and-final square to Pluto (on Aug 4) during this same week. This last Jupiter-Pluto square—and the corresponding Jupiter-Uranus opposition (its third-and-final hit exact on Sep 28)—puts reiterative punctuation on the primary driving energies of these last several months. As I've written about, this T-square has been our biggest astro-influence since last November, reinvigorating those now-familiar revolutionary Uranus-Pluto frictions which have destabilized us throughout the 2010s. These next two months bring its final hurrah, before Jupiter leaves Libra and enters Scorpio on Oct 10.

Also worth noting: Mercury will begin its latest retrograde (Aug 12-Sep 5) during this interval between the two eclipses… a timely reminder to heed the usual communicative, technological, and transactional Merc-rx cautions while dramatic eclipse-triggered developments might otherwise distract us. Mercury is presently in Virgo, one of its happy-place home-signs, which can somewhat mitigate the retrograde madness when we hold a studied and detail-oriented approach, wait for concrete data before jumping to conclusions, and carefully handle each step one-by-one with fastidious attention. On the other hand, the Virgo influence on Merc-rx could bring problems related to overly narrow thinking or missing the forest for the trees. Sometimes, relying solely on cold hard facts—at the expense of imagination, intuition, and intention—leads to a glaring lack of perspective, as we miss that elusive 'x factor' which makes the whole far greater than the sum of its parts. When our analytic eye gets too close-up to a situation to spy anything new or different, we probably need to step back and observe some more, from a wider and/or higher vantage-point.

The more challenging part comes later in this retrograde, once Mercury backslides into Leo (Aug 31) and cruises into a conjunction with Mars three days later (Sep 3). Mercury will both lack the dignity it received from being in Virgo and become more prone to hotheadedness thanks to Mars's influence. By then, the total solar eclipse will have already wreaked its havoc… and, chances are, the worst Merc-rx expressions we'll witness will simply be reactive retaliations, defenses, and overcorrections to whatever's flipped our script or threatened our ego-comfort.