I tried out a new type of blog post in June which I called “The Month Ahead”, which looked at the astrology of June, both from on a global / geopolitical perspective and from a personal one. It also included links to relevant news and a list of my favorite articles, videos, and podcasts from the magical community. I was playing with the idea of producing posts like this each month almost like a newsletter but I’ve decided that I tried to fit too many different ideas into that one post and have opted to streamline that format into this one -and to do something else for the “newsletter”.
Everybody gives personal astrology takes…what’s potentially more unique and interesting is considering how the space weather affects our current geopolitical landscape. And this can best be understood through the month’s major transits, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on in this shorter, more focused post.
The most important feature of July’s astrology is the lead up to, and beginning, of the coming Venus retrograde, which starts on July 22nd and lasts until September 3. When Venus goes retrograde, she also goes from being an evening star to morning star, after passing through the metaphorical “Underworld”.
The mythology associated with Venus’ chthonic journey is two-fold, and interestingly, both have associations to the changing of the seasons, and the role of the lunar deity in the Underworld. The (much) older of the two myths, “The Descent of Inanna” comes to us from Sumerian times, and describes Inanna, goddess of sex and war (Venus’ more liberated earlier form) as the sequel to the Epic of Gilgamesh in which Inanna caused the death of her sister Ereshkigal’s husband Gugalanna, the cosmic bull (Taurus). In “The Descent of Inanna”, the goddess of sex and war visits her sister Ereshkigal, Queen of the Dead, in an inappropriate gesture of superiority, for the funeral of Gugalanna. Ereshkigal, enraged at her callousness, tricks her by forcing her to remove all her garments and objects of power before being allowed to enter the Underworld, and then kills her and hangs her body on hooks in her throne room. A deal is made by Inanna’s father Enki for her return but this costs her a lover, Dumuzi (god of fertility), who is forced to take her place in the Underworld for half of every year to free Inanna from Ereshkigal’s wrath.
In this myth we see a variety of seasonal themes: the slaying of the cosmic bull (Taurus) whose zodiacal sign heralded the coming of the Spring, and the price Inanna eventually pays for her meddling, the loss of fertility for half the year (fall and winter) due to the captivity of Dumuzi.
These themes reappear in Greek mythology in the story of Aphrodite, Adonis, and Persephone. Adonis was a beautiful youth favored by Aphrodite, who hid him away with Persephone, Queen of the Dead and goddess of Spring, as a child, in an attempt to protect him. As he grew into a beautiful young man, Persephone fell in love with Adonis and didn’t want to share him with Aphrodite. This story represents the jealousy between wives and mothers, who share the love of a young man (as lover and also as son). However, Adonis drew the jealous rage of the Ares, the god of war for Aphrodite’s affections and Ares turned himself into a giant boar, skewering Adonis, who dies in Aphrodite’s arms. This gives him completely over to Persephone, who was delighted by the turn of events, and thus is the way when men leave their mothers to become husbands.
Both myths share themes of the Underworld’s initiatory influence: Dumuzi (fertility) is now only available in the Spring, in conjunction with the season of the cosmic bull. Adonis (beauty, sexual appeal, fertility) is shared by Persephone (death and the seasons) and Aphrodite (love and the feminine sexual aspect) until Adonis is sent to the Underworld where he becomes devoted to Persephone.
The Underworld also represents tough choices and their unavoidable outcomes; demonstrating the realities of impermanence and the changing nature of the seasons of love. First, we receive love from our protective mothers, then, through our own captivity in the Underworld we learn to manage competing interests and devote ourselves to our adult desires -and those choices prevent us from going back to the way things were.
The journey into the Underworld is one of self-discovery through release; we have to unburden ourselves of our material concerns and accolades, as Inanna is forced to divest herself of her garments and tools as she enters the Underworld. And, having done so, we are only able to return to the surface by allowing a piece of ourselves to die and remain in the land of the dead.
This is the pattern of a Venus retrograde: we go enter the shadow of a retrograde period with some amount of undeserved self-confidence and then through the process of shedding our preconceptions and being forced to make sacrifices we are able to emerge again, with new perspective, but we’ve had to leave behind some pieces of ourselves in exchange. Whenever we experience a Venus retrograde, it is often a time when we lose lovers, partners, or other relationships in order to grow as individuals. And, when we do not lose those relationships, they are certainly put to the test and aspects of the relationship -if not the relationship itself- are irreparably altered (sometimes for better, sometimes for worse).
You’re no doubt experiencing the lead up to this process unfolding in your own life and relationships but these forces are not only in effect at a personal level but also at the level of nations and global geopolitics. We’re about to witness the world go through a shakeup of relationships, alliances, and political affiliations; and the main characters in this story are all in play on the world stage in the Russo-Ukranian conflict: Love, Desire, War, Death, Youth, and even Fertility, as Ukraine hosts some of the world’s most fertile lands for agriculture.
In the next days and weeks we will see the world shift to an even more polarized multi-polar world with cracks forming in the alliances of the past and consolidated, new, or reinforced, allegiances coming together more determinedly and more aggressively. This is true on both axis of this conflict, in NATO on one side and the Russian Federation (and increasingly the BRICS nations as well).
But that journey begins towards the end of the month, with almost the full month prior to the retrograde falling into a period known as the “shadow” of the retrograde; meaning the degrees Venus will retrace as she walks “backwards” during the retrograde. Inevitably, what occurs during the shadow period will be revisited during the retrograde, leading up to greater clarity when Venus reaches the heart of the Sun at 1 degree.
The main story of July focuses almost entirely on the dance of Venus and Mars, prior to their split. After their split, Mercury conjoin Venus, just after the Venus retrograde begins, to help Venus sort through her thoughts and feelings before going into a time of deep introspection. It starts with Mars and Venus in a heated dance, then splitting apart -as Mars goes off to plan war in Virgo and Venus meets with Mercury to sort through her thoughts before disappearing into the Underworld for solitude and reflection.
In the global geopolitical arena I think this is going to translate into a period of reassessment of alliances, military and economic, or at least the cracks forming or widening along those lines. We will not see nearly as much progress in the conflict in the coming weeks as Mars moves through Virgo but there will be a lot of planning and preparation for a coming broadening of the conflict.
However, there is a BRICS meeting in September about their new currency backed in gold and there are some new countries seeking entry into BRICS currently, which leads to an increasingly multi-polar world, and this will probably force the US and EU to attempt to consolidate their power,. This will likely result in the Western world having to face some sobering realizations about their relationships with the rest of the world (which is rapidly deteriorating).
Let’s step through each of the transits that, together, will play out as this story:
Relevant Transits Of July 2023
July 10th (date of NATO conference in Vilnius)
- Mars moves into Virgo (until Oct 3)
As Mars leaves Leo and enters Virgo, he begins to become more practical, and less boastful. Leo occupies the 9th house of the US Sibly chart, suggesting that what began as an effort to impress the European world and other allies of the US that the US / NATO, last month by making progress (with the failed Ukranian counteroffensive), will shift into a planning mode -a less overconfident, more realistic approach- for a broader conflict.
- Mars in opposition to Saturn (until 7/28)
Mars opposes Saturn from the 11th through the 28th, during Mars’ transit of the first 11 degrees of Virgo; presenting a insurmountable challenge of some kind tripping up Mars as he tries to force his victory strategy, unsuccessfully.
- Mercury moves into Leo (until 7/27)
Mercury in Leo brings a bold and confident air to public communications, so expect PR campaigns and propaganda to be on full blast but lacking in real meaningful content.
- New Moon In Cancer opposing Pluto and square the nodes
The New Moon signifies release and preparation for what’s to come; in the 9th house of foreign relations for the US, and the opposition to Pluto probably puts what has to happen now at odds with the efforts of Pluto’s hidden hand in Western financial markets.
- Moon conjoins Venus, who is slowing down to go retrograde in Leo
Just before the retrograde begins and before Mercury conjoins Venus in Leo to sort through all her problems, she is conjoined by the Moon to sort through her feelings first. This is just a quick stop in the now fast-developing story of the approaching Venus retrograde. The next day the Moon also conjoins Mars, just before he and Venus separate from their heated exchange.
- Mercury conjoins Venus as she retrogrades (through 7/26)
Mercury enters into conjunction with freshly retrograde Venus on the the 23rd and goes direct on the evening of the 26th, helping her process all the drama from her time with Mars, now that he’s raced off to prepare for war in Virgo. Venus has just started moving backward through the degrees (from 28 Leo to 12 Leo and back again) in her retrograde and this conjunction will bring us each into a place where we can start to make sense of everything that’s just happened. In geopolitics, the US Sibly chart puts Mercury in Leo in the 9th, relating to foreign relations, and Mercury conjoining Venus in retrograde is the beginning of the US/NATO gathering what support they do have and putting together a plan to consolidate support from any allies that are still committed to the proxy war with Russia. On the opposite end of the geopolitical spectrum, the BRICS nations are meeting throughout August and September to discuss a gold-backed currency and the applications of a large block of countries into BRICS. Everywhere we look relationships are being realigned and reinforced during this period.
- Mercury moves into Virgo (until 10/4)
Finally, Mercury moves into its domicile in Virgo, boosting its strength and quality as it races towards Mars to almost reach a conjunction (much like Venus did in early July) and then also retrograde in August. That retrograde presages another upcoming dip into the Underworld, this time reviewing our thoughts and plans instead of our passions and feelings, so whatever is done in July and August will have to be revisited in early September.
More Of The Same, But It’s Different This Time
The West has tried to stay out of open conflict with the Russians during this proxy war and that has lead to hamstringing the Ukrainian Armed Forces with inadequate equipment and unrealistic goals which have directly cost the lives of many tens of thousands of Ukrainians while they attempt to earn meaningless victories to convince their Western masters to send more aid. It’s been tragic to watch and, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem likely to change meaningfully after the NATO conference that is currently taking place in Vilnius, Lithuania.
However, we can also not expect the US and NATO to sit idly by while the Russians complete their special military operation and demilitarize Ukraine, which would be seen as a very embarrassing loss for NATO. Though there is suitable hand-wringing at the political implications of direct NATO involvement, there is no other path forward for the largely neoconservative establishment which wields indomitable power of Washington, DC.
I’m not sure yet when get expanded conflict but, at face value, it probably makes sense that we’ll see escalatory events take place around when Mars moves into its domicile in Scorpio on October 12th. As always, we watch from the sidelines with dismay as the world propels itself towards inevitable, but totally avoidable, global conflict -still praying peace and hoping fate intervenes.
Featured Image: Semiramis by KejaBlank