As I laid the final brush strokes of vermillion and scarlet, the synchronicity and timing were not lost on me. It’s a thought-provoking thing to be completing my painting of the Pope card as, simultaneously, the Roe v. Wade overturning hammered one more demoralizing nail in the coffin of our national and political institutions and organized religions—long past efficacy and out of step with the zeitgeist, but like a house in dangerous disrepair, are a powderkeg, a money pit, and a death trap that we are still trying to live in. We have lost our way as a country and are in a crisis of leadership. The graffiti on the wall could not be any clearer. The shadow side of the Hierophant looms large over us these days.
As this summer pulls us back into another Saturn-Uranus square that hearkens back to the deadlocked and volatile energy of 2021 (the Hierophant year); as this year’s eclipses in Scorpio and Taurus have us playing with poisons and antidotes; as the US Pluto return digs us even deeper into the mire of our own making; and as Lilith keenes and crows through Cancer, there is something of Kali-Medusa in the noxious air. Visions of lolling tongues, bared breasts, and rolling heads come to mind, as the People are stress-tested to their max.
The US Solar return soon approaches and then, like every year, leads us into a wet hot 8th house American summer—our rebellious, idiotic adolescence in full swing at age 246—but at least no longer in the reckless toddlerhood of the 18th and 19th centuries (we hope). And maybe with enough heartiness and blind optimism to keep believing in ourselves, thanks to Sagittarius on our collective ascendant. After all, we haven’t lost our ability to work together, to support each other, to push each other into new directions, and to grieve, rage and laugh together through the best of times and the worst of times. There is no room, or time, for cynicism in the Age of Air. We need vision, inspired and radical thinking, and practical action.
Is it subversive to cast a woman in the role of the Pope? Maybe to some. I say it shouldn’t be. In my Hierophant I see a reclamation of power, a remembrance of sacred truths, and an homage to the matriarchal and the matrilocal, to lineages of women and caretakers—the shepherdesses of society—who Get Shit Done, and have done since time immemorial, with little to no recognition or thanks. My Hierophant is soft and strong, proud and autonomous, and is the holder of knowledge and wisdom, and I believe she is not obsolete at all, but rather has much to teach us. She passes the keys to the next generation, to the children that will inherit the earth. She is the revealer of what is holy, and I hope we can be silent and reverent enough to hear her, before it’s too late.
The late degrees of Capricorn are starting to feel like a cosmic cul de sac that we keep having to stop and turn around in, or the setting of a recurring anxiety dream. Why am I back in high school and how am I supposed to take this exam? How can I go on stage in a few hours, I haven’t memorized any of my lines? Why is that faceless man following me and why won’t he go away?? With Venus and Mercury currently retrograding there, and the Sun now passing through, it’s a busy thoroughfare, that patch of sky, but it might not be quite such an albatross were it not for that small but intransigent planet of “transformation”—Pluto—who has been lording over, and under, that territory for the past two years, influencing all planets that pass through, and inching closer and closer to that 27° home plate in the birth chart of America. In many ways, it’s 1776 all over again.
On Tuesday, the Moon, that devoted dreamweaver, arrives at 27° Cancer, opposite the Sun, Pluto, and the Empress Juno, and surveys us all—our history and our humanity, our empires, great and small—from her lofty perch. Ceres, the goddess of both blight and boon, feeds her, as do Neptune and the south node. There’s something tidal about this lunation, that echoes the rising crescendo of this entire decade, as well as the need for release. A much-needed softening amidst the hardscape of Capricorn, like the thawing of frozen pipes, or the melting of snow-capped mountains, that allows for the life-giving waters to flow again.
This pair of cardinal signs, that pledge to have and to hold each of us in some way, speak to me of foundations. Working together, they show us how to be strong for each other, how to sacrifice for each other, and how to make the world safe. Whether it’s the Saturnian backbone or the lunar womb, they hold us up and hold us in. But under the Sun-Moon opposition, they become polarized. It’s like Mom and Dad are fighting and we are caught in the middle. Where do we find sanctuary in a house divided?
The Cancer-Capricorn axis exerts its influence over so much of my own chart it feels like a familiar, if beleaguered, place. This Full Moon falls across my 2nd and 8th houses, and I find myself thinking about heritage and inheritance once again. I remember an old friend of mine (who is a Cancer) once cleverly quipped “you can’t swim out of your gene pool.” I’ve always loved that image. Whether that tide pool is a warm and comfortable retreat, or an inundating, overwhelming force, is a question of fate and fortune, perhaps invoked by this lunation. I suppose, while we’re being clever, you can’t climb out of your family tree either (a more Capricornian image). And maybe you don’t want to—maybe it’s peaceful, and fruitful there, with nests and hideaways and strategic vantage points, and a well-loved swing hanging from one limb. Or, maybe that tree had nooses and dead wood, rotten roots or invasive parasites. Maybe it was cut down in the prime of its life, and is still trying to regrow.
There is much healing, and repair, to be done, in the coming days and years, not by denying our history, but by facing and accepting it, as an inextricable, inalienable part of what makes us us—whether we are a nation or an individual. As we in the US dive deeper into this Plutonian crucible, let us balance the axis of power by aiming towards the highest expressions of Cancer: to feel deeply, listen actively, trust bravely, protect the vulnerable, and hold each other close.
“The time has come,” the walrus said, “to talk of many things.” Of Time and Truth and Talking Heads, as Mercury prepares for its first underworld journey of this year, through a pair of frenemy signs. Let us embrace the non-linear, ride the new wave, and Stop Making Sense. Words are funny things, and images are worth a thousand words. Both have the ability to flash and morph, to convince or confuse, especially in retrograde periods. A walrus and a carpenter, to my mind, could just as well be a water-bearer and a sea-goat. Why not?
I see the 6 of swords reversed, with Mercury as the ferryman. We are leaving old ways behind and transitioning in ways we can’t fully understand yet. Back to the future we go, and onward to the past.
I see melting clocks and soft watches. The Persistence of Memory is strong and strange. Is this dreamlike tableau a grand metaphor for the theory of relativity, or, as Dalí himself said, born of a Camembert melting in the Sun?
I see the akashic records spinning the soundtrack of our lives. There are many revolutions per minute, per month, per year. Our divine DJ starts out with an Aquarian tune, and then reverses the record back into the last degrees of Capricorn. The needle scratches in the grooves of the mind, and the grooves in the heart, putting a finer point on the lessons of the past year, and of the coming year. We feel the funk. We are given the gift of hindsight. Is there a hidden message to be found in playing it backwards? Or is it just noise?
What can I say? Mercury can be a trickster, as well as a friend. The mind’s eye can be a real trip. What does it all mean? No one knows for sure. Truth is in the mind of the believer. This retrograde is a dance with loneliness and oneness, with electricity and eccentricity. It will likely bring stories of redirection, and resurrection; of disruption and disconnection; of rebellion and retreat. But it will also present moments of genius, and light the divine spark within, if we listen closely. More Saturn-Uranus work, in other words. I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.