Neptune Retrograde and Relationships June 16th – Nov 21st 2017

The only way love can last a lifetime is if it's unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.
― Stephen Kendrick

Tomorrow Neptune in Pisces will stop its forward motion as it turns stationary Retrograde. This 5 month period occurs once a year, when Neptune the mythological god of the ocean, symbolically appears to travel backwards in the sky. This gives us an opportunity us to re-view and re-consider the core themes of Neptune in Pisces in our lives right now.

Core Themes in Relationships for Neptune in Pisces :
The main core theme is unconditional love for ourselves and others and the next few months is an ideal time to creatively re-consider what this means to us. Who offers this to us in our life right now? Who do we offer it to? Was this available for us as children? How able are we to extend it to ourselves and others in our life?

Other important themes to consider are:
·       Dependencies in our life – including dependencies on substances, people, money, food, work etc. How big a role do they play in our life? What are we attempting to numb within ourselves? What are they compensating for? How connected do we feel with the 'spiritual' and creative dimensions of life?
·       Co-dependency patterns in relationships. What is our avoidance of full emotional, mental, physical and sexual intimacy based on? What parts of ourself feel underdeveloped – as yet?
·       Victim/savior patterns. Who did we need to ‘rescue’ as a child? What are we seeking to be rescued from? Are we willing to fully own our power now?

Issues that may come to the surface during this time from our past and current relationships may include: betrayal, idealization, evasiveness, avoidance, grief, disillusionment, disappointment, dreams, hopes, potentials…

As Neptune in Pisces is a pre-verbal energy, we may find it easier to explore the above themes using imaginative tools, as well as dream-work and meditation. The logical mind is unlikely to yield much during this time!  

This transit is more likely to impact our relationships if Neptune is Retrograding in our natal 5, 7th or 8th houses of relationships! 
Margaret Gray June 2017






Getting by on Valentine’s Day, with a little help from Astrology! Part 2 - by Margaret Gray MSW. D. Psych. Astrology

2.     Recognizing a Compatible love partner

There are many reasons why individuals are drawn to each other at a particular time in life. Those of us who believe in past lives suggest that attractions are based on prior agreements to meet and continue part or all of the life journey with that person, particularly if they are twin souls. Astrologically, planetary and Nodal connections from one chart to the other can often be seen when there are strong past life connections and between the charts of twin souls. As if by clockwork, when major planetary transits come along and wake up those configurations, lovers meet and feel drawn to each other. The task then is to understand what the connection is about and to choose if and how to pursue it!

Some Psychologists may describe attractions as a draw to individuals who appear to offer the potential to heal early childhood issues. Hence if a parent died or left early in life there may be an unconscious attraction towards someone who appears to be able to fill that gap, or towards someone who is unavailable thus facilitating the resolution of the original grief, or there may be an avoidance of intimacy for fear of loss. Astrologically the potential for some of these dynamics are visible by the position of the Sun and Moon and planetary aspects to them in the Birth Chart. For example if the Sun is in Pisces and/or in aspect to Neptune in a birth chart, there is the possibility that one’s birth Father may not have been very present early in life. If this planetary configuration is in one of the relationship houses in the chart which are the 5th, 7th or 8th, it is more likely to emerge as something to be explored on several occasions in adult relationships.

Spiritually we can view relationships as two loving energies coming together and creating a third powerful bigger energy based on love. This third entity has something greater to offer to the universe, than each individual on their own. Besides giving birth to children, this may emerge as joint projects, creative endeavors, being of service etc. Astrologically the greater purpose of all relationships can be seen in the Composite chart, which is basically the two individual birth charts merged together. The position of the Sun in the Composite chart is an excellent indicator of the higher purpose and contribution of the relationship. For example a composite Sun in the 3rd house is an indicator of a couple who have come to communicate something important to the world through their relationship. This may manifest in tangible form through joint writing or speaking, or it may simply be through how they communicate with each other and others.

Astrologically the issue we commonly call compatibility describes whether we have enough connections to move from ‘initial attraction’ to  ‘dating’ and onto ‘a relationship’!

There are several astrological factors that are helpful indicators of a likely progression to this stage including:

a)     Lots of astrological connections between the two charts. The nature of those connections describes whether it is a supportive connection or a more challenging one. Ultimately if the balance is in favor of more supportive connections, a relationship will find it easier to surmount challenging times. A supportive connection for example is the Sun of Person A conjunct the Venus of Person B – assuming that Person B has developed their self-value as Person A will illuminate it!

b)     The willingness and ability by both individuals to do their personal growth work at a fairly similar pace. This is not visible astrologically. What is visible however are the planetary transits which each person and the relationship chart is going through. Transits are awakening calls by the planets. If one or both individuals is not willing or able to answer the call, a relationship is unlikely to work, as the gap in growth between both is likely to get wider and wider.

3.     Working through Relationship Challenges

Having moved into the 7th house of one to one relationships, the next stage is for the relationship to move into the 8th House of Intimacy. This includes depth emotional and sexual intimacy as well as dealing with shared finances. This realm can only be inhabited if both individuals can tolerate vulnerability which in turn can only be borne if each person has a solid sense of self and has developed sufficient internal resources to deal with the potential of rejection and abandonment, as well as the overwhelment of possible engulfment. By its nature love always includes birth and death - Eros and Thanatos! Without the ability to deal with both, authentic love is impossible as all relationships inevitably end either through choice or through the death of one or other.

The placement of the planet Mars in the Birth chart also plays an important role in relationships as it reminds us of what we are attracted to as well as when our boundaries are crossed. Physical and sexual attraction becomes particularly important during challenging times in relationships as it can create a bridge over troubled waters! Mars in the form of anger also enables us to maintain our sense of individuality through alerting us when our personal boundaries have been crossed. Finding ways to express this in a constructive manner is key to overcoming challenges as Marshall Rosenberg highlighted in his work on Non Violent Communication.  

As the story of St. Valentines highlights, love requires courage, integrity and the willingness and ability to love another human being regardless of their behavior, in the way that Valentine cared for and healed the daughter of one of the men who sentenced him to death. The first step in doing this is to love ourselves!

Happy Valentines Day! 

Legal Copyright of Margaret Gray January 2016

Getting by on Valentine’s Day, with a little help from Astrology! Part 1

By Margaret Gray MSW. D. Psych. Astrology 

As Valentines’ day approaches, our attention is inevitably drawn to the subject of love relationships. Regardless of the inherent commercialism, February 14th illuminates the universal truth as sung by John Lennon and Paul McCartney:  ‘I want somebody to love’!

Living in Dublin, Ireland where some of the relics of St. Valentine are buried in Whitefriars Street Chapel, I was curious to know where this feast day derives from! Apparently under the Roman Emperor Claudius, young people were forbidden to marry as he believed that soldiers fought better if they were unmarried. However, the Christian priest Valentine secretly married them in the Church. Eventually he was caught, tortured and killed by Claudius. Before his death however, he healed the daughter of one of his judges and left her a note signed ‘from your Valentine’. Since then Father Valentine, who became St. Valentine, is known as the patron saint of lovers.

More recently, the importance of love, relationships and marriage was highlighted with the passing in 2015 of Marriage Equality here in Ireland, as well as throughout the USA. The mass public support for these changes, indicates a world that is paying increasing importance to the right to legal and social recognition to live a life with the person we love.

However, as we all know well, whilst ‘falling in love’ is relatively easy, creating a loving mutual relationship requires willingness, commitment, self-knowledge, communication skills, compassion, empathy, patience, humor and a lot more!

So how can astrology help us to understand our relationship needs, recognize a compatible love partner, find ways to work through relationship challenges and nurture and maintain a loving relationship?

1.     Understanding our Relationship Needs

Relationships grow and expand to the degree that both individuals know themselves. Without an individual commitment to self-knowledge and self-development   relationships are at risk of being built on co-dependency, rather than respect, mutuality and love. Seeking to heal dysfunctional family patterns through adult love relationships without some level of personal awareness is, as we all know, rarely conducive to happiness!

The Astrological Natal Chart offers an immediate symbolic map of the inner resources, strengths, gifts, values, desires, emotional expression, sense of meaning and ideals of both individuals. It also describes how each best communicates – for example if one person’s Mercury is in a Water sign (Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces) in their Birth chart, they are likely to struggle to find words when they feel emotional. Communication at this time may be easier through writing.

The birth chart also highlights if intimate relationships are a core arena of soul learning for an individual in this lifetime. This is likely to be indicated by having one or more planets in either the 7th house of relationships and/or the 5th house of dating and/or the 8th house of sexual intimacy. Although relationships are important for all of us, as we mostly learn about ourselves through intimacy with a significant other, with planets in those parts of the chart, intimate relationships acquire more importance and hence need more attention.

Although Venus and Mars are commonly described as the planets to do with relationship, the Moon and Mercury are in fact key ingredients. The position of the Moon by sign in a birth chart is particularly important as it describes the emotional needs of the individual and how they can best meet them within themselves. It also describes their basic comfort needs. As humans we all have similar core needs, however their importance and ways of getting them met are individual to each of us. Understanding one’s own Moon sign helps in acknowledging individual needs as well as finding constructive conscious ways of meeting them within, rather than depending on a significant other to do so on a regular basis. For example for someone with the Moon in Taurus, a lovely meal, a nice home and a calm and stable environment are likely to be very soothing. To someone with the Moon in Sagittarius, learning, travel and adventure are likely to be a lot more nurturing. The more we learn to self soothe and nurture ourselves, the easier it also becomes to offer nurturing to a loved one in the manner that feels soothing to them rather than how we want it for ourselves!

The placement of the planet Mercury in the birth chart is equally important in relationships as it describes how we communicate with others. Understanding how  Mercury operates for each individual facilitates connection with each other. For example individuals with Mercury in Air (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) and Fire (Aries, Leo and Sagittarius) tend to communicate fast and easily with words. Their attention to detail is less likely than someone who has Mercury in Earth (Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn) who is likely to communicate more carefully and cautiously. Individuals with Mercury in Water (Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces) tend to read between the lines, as their skill is to tune into the feelings behind the words. Whereas the Air and Fire Mercury individuals are unlikely to recall everything they said, a Mercury in Earth person is very likely to remember every single word and the Mercury in Water person will retain a sense of the feelings that were expressed and not expressed. Knowing the Moon and Mercury sign for oneself and others reminds us that we are all different. The more each person is able to communicate who they are to the other and to hear who the other truly is, the greater the potential for the relationship.

Part 2 will look at Compatibility as well as Challenges in Relationships!

(This blog was originally posted by Margaret Gray in Astrology Hub in February 2016!) 


29 and Counting...

Venus is swimming through the last degree of Pisces today, a final swell of emotional energy before she enters outgoing, provocative, and exciting Aries (more on that soon). At the very end of the very last sign of the zodiac, Venus is likely to be bringing up partnership issues, past and present.

For those of us in relationships, we may be thinking of where we are and how we got here - as well as where we are heading. Romantic dreams may mix with our deepest fears, taking us on a ride through promising and threatening feelings. Those of us who are single may imagine the dream lover, or fall into the despair of hopelessness.

Most of us will have less extreme version of these poles of hope and despair, but it's a good idea to remember that we're seeing through the exaggerated fish-eye mirror of Pisces, where things can seem far better or worse than they otherwise might.

With the moon in Aries and Mercury/Jupiter square in the sky today, we can easily distract ourselves with work, play, or chattiness. But a minute to sit and breathe through challenging feelings may be a better strategy.

The air of finality that comes with 29 degrees Pisces is also something of an illusion - Venus is in the shadow of her retrograde and will be revisiting this point through the end of April. Whatever it is you're dealing with - good, bad, or otherwise - will be back for more review and processing, sooner than you may expect. 

Don't Judge...

Venus is having a tough time of it this week, what with her meeting with Chiron (see below) and her square to Saturn, which is exact at the new moon on Friday.

In general, a Venusian square to Saturn suggests a time of judgement, all the more so with the processing we've been doing thanks to Chiron. For those in a relationship, it may be time to either let go, or to commit and go deeper. Having brought our feelings about things to the surface, it seems time to judge - and Saturn can indeed put pressure on us to make a decision. At this new moon in Aquarius that has so much to do with long-range plans, decisions made now may indeed be hard to reverse.

Yet there is another side to this story that needs to be acknowledged. Venus is entering the shadow of her retrograde just after her meeting with Saturn. In terms of relationship, Venus' retrograde is a kind of cosmic do-over, a chance to reassess and reevaluate. Thus, decisions made under Saturnian pressure may come up for review over the next few months - and regrets could come with our reappraisals. 

So, if you really know what you want - really, really know it - then this is a very good time to plant seeds for the future, whether that means going forward or stepping back. But if you're just reacting to the Saturnian pressure to do something, to make a decision, to clear the matter up, it may be best to suspend judgement. Tell Saturn you're sorry, but you'll have to get back to him after Venus goes direct. He won't be happy, and you may feel you're ducking your responsibilities, but you may avoid a bad case of buyer's remorse in your relationship.