A Leonine July
by Steven Forrest
The devil is in the details. So are the angels sometimes. In my transits and progressions work with clients, the focus is always on the “big picture.” That grand evolutionary perspective emerges most clearly when we reflect on the slow-moving, theme-building planet — basically the transits of everything out beyond Mars, plus the progressions. In the counseling room, it is usually practical to ignore the little “firefly” transits of Mercury and Venus, or the Sun and the Moon. They go by so quickly that they don’t have much time to develop depth and complexity of meaning. But they sure “work!” Let Mercury transit over your Sun, for example, and your phone is ringing like crazy and your email inbox looks like Obama’s.
The difference between a Mercury transit and Pluto transit isn’t that “Pluto is more powerful.” It’s just that Pluto has a lot more time to work on you, that’s all.
This month, looking at the planetary dance, what caught my eye was one of these quick transiting configurations: in mid-month, as Mercury and Venus leap over the Cancer-to-Leo frontier, they are practically holding hands. Venus goes first, entering Leo on the 12th. Mercury does the same a little after midnight (PDT) on the 13th — and check your own time zone if, like most of you, you are not on the west coast of the USA.
Wherever you are, there is only a gap of about nineteen hours between the two planetary crossings. By transit standards, it is almost a simultaneous event. We will experience a shock-wave of Leo energy, especially against the contrasting background of Cancer.
A few more techie details, then we will look into the crystal ball: both Mercury and Venus are in Cancer as the month begins. After crossing into Leo on the 12th and 13th, they form a conjunction on July 16th at 5° Leo 45'. Venus spends the rest of the month in Leo, only crossing into Virgo on August 5th. Mercury exits Leo on July 30th.
So many astrologers like to make “predictions” based on these kinds of configurations. I try to avoid the temptation to play that game. For one thing, I’ve never found that kind of astrology to be very reliable. I also think it misses the point. I think the planets function more like suggestions. They don’t control us. Instead, they guide us . . . if we are willing to listen.
So what kind of guidance is implicit in this moment of Venus and Mercury “holding hands” as they leap into Leo together? Let’s put our clues on the table: Mercury is about communication. Venus is about intimacy and aesthetics, among other things. So we are talking about intimate, graceful communication.
Now, Leo — well, Leo is my first pick for the most misunderstood sign of the Zodiac. That noisy, self-important Leo you read about in the shopping mall astrology books is not really such a common creature. But Leo does represent the part of you that wants attention. That is valid astrology. Let’s respect that need, and, even better, try to understand it. Think of a kid swinging higher and higher on a swing-set, yelling “Mommy! Daddy! Look at me! Look at me!” There’s nothing wrong with that. The child wants simply to be witnessed. He or she wants validation. And every one of us is, ultimately, nothing but a child who survived. We all need the same kind of validation sometimes, no matter our age. We all need to be seen and to be appreciated.
Asking for that kind of support is risky. It takes courage to do it. Maybe you write a poem, straight from your heart. Think how shaky you feel inside when you announce to a friend — or even to your partner — what you have done. Suddenly those eyes are on you. You have put yourself out there in a vulnerable way. Revealing your soul that way is scary. If your partner reads that poem and flippantly suggests that you should “stick with cooking,” how do you feel? And how long will it be before you show him or her another poem? It is devastating. Even if your poem is awful . . . hey, it’s your heart and soul laid on the table! And what if instead your friend or partner gets teary and says, “This is beautiful?” Feel how much closer you have become? Why? Because you took that Leo risk of self-expression. Because you took that Leo risk of vulnerability. That is what Leo is all about.
I am pretty sure that the world’s output of poetry will go up by 37% during the final three weeks of July. I’m smiling as I write that line, but impressionistically, I suspect it is pretty close to the truth. That’s one effect of the conjunction of Mercury and Venus in Leo. But more poetry is not the point. The point is about boldly expressing (Leo) in words (Mercury) what you really need or want in your most important relationships (Venus.)
Probably the most straightforward illustration of all this is an old standby that never really grows old — just simply looking someone in the eye and saying, “I love you.” That might not technically be “asking for what you want” — but everybody knows the rest: you will be disappointed if you don’t hear those same words coming back at you. The phrase, “I love you,” contains an implicit request for reciprocation — and a willingness to endure the terrible risk of not hearing that sentiment reflected back again. Ask anyone who has ever said those momentous words and been greeted by a blank stare or an awkward silence.
Sometimes knowing what we truly want or need is not so obvious. This leads to another critical point: before we can be vulnerable to another person, we need to be vulnerable to ourselves — to dare to feel. What sign of the Zodiac represents pure emotion and pure need? Cancer, of course. When planetary energies focus in Cancer, as they do earlier this month, they resonate directly with the emotional body. We often simply get quiet at such times. We want time alone — down time. We want walls between us and the noise and pressure of the world. Left to our own devices, we tend to sleep more. We invite dreaming, that royal road into communion with the emotional body. We are like the crab inside the shell.
So, as July opens, Mercury and Venus are already in Cancer, as is the Sun. Until the 12th and 13th, the guidance the cosmos offers us is that we need to reflect quietly on what we need. As you do that, don’t be afraid to think about what is missing in your friendships or partnerships. Go ahead and even whine a little, if you want--just do it internally. Don’t be afraid of tears if they well up. Just feel. And keep your mouth shut about what you are feeling!
I know that sounds contrarian, even wrong. But it isn’t. In divine order, you are going to make an important speech — after the 12th. Right now, you are writing the speech in your head — and heart. Take time and get it right. Give yourself space and time to feel. No limits, no reality checks. Your commitment to temporary silence buys you absolute emotional freedom. Remember that feelings are a deep well, not always easy to understand at first glance.
This inner Cancerian process of preparing for the active Leo self-expression that comes in the second half of July is critical. You’ve got to get it right inside your own head or your Leo speech runs the risk of not being rooted in the best truth you know. It would still be loud though! That’s Leo. And that can make a mess.
The foundational process of getting grounded authentically in your own interior reality reaches a dramatic crescendo at the month’s New Moon, which is exact around 4 o’clock in the morning (PDT) on the 4th of July. A New Moon in Cancer is arguably the “mooniest” Moon of the year — and this year that Sun-Moon conjunction in the thirteenth degree of the sign is flanked on one side by Mercury at 9°37' and by Venus on the other side at 20°26'. This is a Cancer New Moon on steroids. It promises to be emotional.
And that is a good thing, if you ride those interior waves with grace and honesty. Open your heart to it all — and then sit on it for a week or so. When Mercury and Venus cross into Leo, you will be not only ready to roar, but to roar with wisdom, authenticity, and authority. And when Truth roars, people listen.
- Steven Forrest
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