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©2013 by Richard Nolle
last revised JUN 30, 2013

If you were expecting some kind of sun sign nonsense, forget about it. This is real astrology for the real world, not some mystical mumbo-jumbo psycho-babble word salad. If it's real astrology for yourself that you want, you can get it by phone or in print. And if you need help deciphering the astrological glyphs in the graphics accompanying this article, see Astroglyphs: Astrological Symbols Guide. Please note: this forecast is expressed in terms of Universal Time (UT, aka GMT). Also please be aware that, while I never change a forecast once it's published, I do post errata to acknowledge typographical errors and the like.

PLEASE NOTE: This month’s forecast incorporates elements of (and refers to) my complete 2013 World Forecast Highlights (31 8-1/2 x 11” illustrated pages), focused, amplified and elaborated with details for the month as appropriate. If you’d like your own copy of the full 2013 World Forecast Highlights, it’s available in hard copy by mail ($75) or as a PDF document by email ($50). Orders may be phoned in (toll-free from anywhere in North America to 800-527-8761) and charged to any major credit card. PayPal orders may be placed direct from your own PayPal account page to rnolle@astropro.com – or by using the AstroPro PayPal order page.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
-- Mahatma Gandhi

MAY 20, 2013 Uranus-Pluto SquareThe major features of July are largely a carry-over from last month. Mercury Max began in June, and lasts until July 30. Just like last month, here’s yet another SuperMoon full moon; the last SuperMoon of the year, in fact. This month’s major planet stations - Saturn turning direct on July 8, and Uranus turning retrograde on the 17th - were already operative last month, being within a degree of their station points throughout June. And speaking of Uranus, the May 20 Uranus-Pluto square is still within a few degrees of partile (exact) for the whole of July. Likewise Neptune spends all of July within a degree of its June 7 retrograde station. There are in fact only a couple new and distinctive planetary configurations this month: the grand trine involving Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune (in effect all month); the Venus-Neptune opposition on the 26th, and the simultaneous Mars-Jupiter opposition to Pluto. These are the major celestial patterns we’ll see in the skies this month – as well as in ourselves, and in the headlines. First, the old business . . .

First, the stations of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune all combine (with the Uranus-Pluto square and the Jupiter-Saturn-Neptune grand trine) to comprise a pattern that continues to speak of considerable churning in the social, political, technological and economic fabric of our global civilization. Not war, mind you – at least, not this year but a great deal of turbulence. Social and political revolution, for example – of the sort that’s been ongoing ever since the Uranus-Pluto quadrature first drew within orb in 2011, and will continue until it finally separates in 2016. (The alignment is exact six times between 2012 and 2015; the first such quadrature since 1932-1934.)

Beginning in 2011, I’ve been telling you what to expect with Uranus squaring Pluto. "worldwide economic dislocation and labor strife . . . anarchic uprisings . . . revolution and barricading the streets . . . political programs aimed at redressing social and economic ills are also part of the picture . . . breakthroughs in science and technology that will transform and transmute our lives, our minds, our understanding of the world within us and around us . . . The two extremes of the material scale – from particle physics to astrophysics – are where the breakthroughs are coming; along with the peculiar middle ground occupied by medicine and biotechnology . . . rising tide of resentment, revolution and anarchy - and crackdowns on the same by regimes in power . . . an ineffectual (in some cases completely uncaring) political structure and a building, boiling rage in an underclass growing in numbers as well as discontent is an explosive combination, which is bound to erupt on and off." Those quotes pretty well summarize what I’ve written about the Uranus-Pluto square starting back in 2011. Clearly, they’re the principal themes of world news since that time. We’re still in the thick of it this month, and this year. You know what to expect. Expect it to be especially dramatic around the time of the Mars-Pluto-Uranus T-square at the end of July (within a few degrees from July 22 into early August.

In last month’s forecast, I wrote that the Uranus square to Pluto "speaks of the 99% of this world getting more fed-up and disillusioned – downright dispossessed, even – with the fabric of civilization. No wonder anarchists are sprouting up like mushrooms after the rain. Revolts, riots, rebellions and outright revolution are in the air or simmering just behind the scenes all around the world . . . lies, scandals, and turmoil in the markets and financial infrastructure add to rising frustration. A good time to short major equity markets, if you haven’t already." As Jupiter pulls to within a few degrees of its August 7 opposition to Pluto late in July (with Mars working on the Uranus-Pluto square), the simmer turns to a boil, I suspect.

If you missed shorting the market back in May when I first mentioned it, there’s still room for more of that kind of action. But you missed about half of the drop already, most likely.

Late Baby Boomers getting Saturn transits across natal Neptune especially experience a crisis of faith during this cycle, and on and off for months to come. Just remember: the glass is just as much half full as it is half empty, even though it seems more the latter at times like this.

Meanwhile there’s that Mercury Max, making its second appearance of the year. It’s hard to keep your focus and concentration when you’re being whipsawed by so much adversity and uncertainty, but that’s just what’s needed in a Mercury Max cycle.

Mercury's Synodic CycleBeing closest to the Sun, Mercury goes between Earth and Sun more than any other planet; several times a year in fact, including the infamous Mercury retrogrades of astrological legend. While most astrologers pay a fair amount of attention to Mercury's retrograde, few realize that it's only a part of the more fundamental Max phase in the orbital interaction between Mercury and Earth, as they both orbit around the Sun.

The Mercury Max phase begins when the little Sun-grazer reaches its maximum elongation east of the Sun its evening star phase. This happens when Mercury has come 'round to the same side of the Sun as Planet Earth, and is relatively near us. The little planet is then pulling up to pass Earth on the inside track, as it were; catching up to us from behind and then passing between us and the Sun. Just as it catches up with us, Mercury passes directly between Earth and the Sun. This is Mercury's inferior conjunction with the Sun. After the inferior conjunction, Mercury continues pulling ahead of us until it reaches its greatest elongation west of the Sun (its morning star phase), at which point the little planet is headed toward the far side of our parent star. Between these two extremes, the greatest east and west elongations, comes the fabled Mercury retrograde period of astrological lore.

It’s worth noting that, with the inferior planets (those inside Earth’s orbit; namely Mercury and Venus), the closest approach to Earth coincides with the inferior (retrograde) conjunction with the Sun. With the superior planets (those outside Earth’s orbit), the closest approach to Earth coincides with the planet’s (retrograde) solar opposition. Clearly astrological doctrine regarding planetary retrogrades is completely unthinking. Rather than being weakened or debilitated in some way, a retrograde planet is in fact bigger and brighter in our sky, and closer to our home planet. Not unlike a SuperMoon, in that respect . . .

I have long wondered how astrologers managed to get astrology so wrong, when it comes to the notion that retrograde planets are somehow inferior. They’re the very same planets as when they’re direct – only they’re bigger and brighter in the night sky, because they’re closer. I think maybe Mercury’s retrograde is somehow key to this misperception. Mercury after all goes retrograde more than any other planet. So we have more experience of its retrogrades. Since Mercury has to do with mental processes and communication, and since so many people can’t be bothered to think straight and communicate clearly, it’s understandable that they might be frustrated and anxious when they encounter a cycle that places a premium on these qualities. It takes all kinds to make a world, and there are many kinds of intelligence. The Mercurial kind places a premium on rationality and seeing things as they are. These are the folks who have the best prospects for success during a Mercury Max cycle. The rest tend not to do so well, which is probably why they moan about Mercury being retrograde.

What I have termed the Mercury Max cycle is simply a way of putting the Earth-Sun-Mercury relationship into a perspective that reflects real-sky, observational astronomy; the dynamics of our solar system as seen from our home planet perch – which is what astrology was, back in the time when it was astronomy. Look up in the sky over the indicated periods, and you will see the phenomena described above. Astronomical software and references provide the greatest eastern and western elongations of Mercury (and Venus, for that matter), but astrological software and references do not. One is a real sky perspective, the other is something less – and that is what astrologers have settled for over the course of time.

This perspective replaces the stilted, removed-from-reality practice of looking not at the sky, but at an ephemeris: first to see when Mercury comes to the degree at which it will later makes its direct station, and second when it reaches the degree at which it will later make its retrograde station; and then referring to the overlap between these two dates and the lesser included Mercury retrograde dates as the “shadow” and “storm” phases of the retrograde. (Some astrologers don’t use the “storm” nomenclature, referring to the overlap at both ends of the retrograde as the “shadow” period. It makes no difference: either way, it’s just plain nonsense.)

For example, the first Mercury Max cycle of 2013 begins with the little planet’s maximum eastern elongation from the Sun on February 16, includes the February 23-March 17 retrograde and the March 4 inferior conjunction, and wraps up with the western elongation extreme on March 23, 2013. The corresponding shadow period would begin on February 9 (the day Mercury reaches the degree at which it goes direct on March 17) and ends (or the storm period ends, depending on which irrelevant nomenclature you prefer) on April 6 (the day Mercury returns to the degree at which it went retrograde on February 23). But in terms of any organic, visible manifestation in the skies of our home planet, these ephemeris-derived dates have no relevance to the Earth-Sun-Mercury dynamic. It’s like left-brain versus right-brain thinking, linear versus holistic; nose in the book versus eyes on the skies. One is a made-up abstraction looked up in an ephemeris, the other a reality that can be seen in the sky. The corresponding organically derived dates in this case are February 16 (greatest eastern elongation) and March 31 (western elongation maximum). Occasionally the real Mercury Max begin and end dates will coincide with the artificial so-called shadow period start and stop dates. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. But the reality is there to see in the sky.

Max-E S-Rx CNJ SU S-D Max-W
FEB 16 FEB 23 MAR 4 MAR 17 MAR 31
JUN 12 JUN 26 JUL 9 JUL 20 JUL 30
OCT 9 OCT 21 NOV 1 NOV 10 NOV 18

Retrograde means moving backwards. This is what Mercury appears to do in our skies when the little inner planet catches up on us and passes us on the inside, between Earth and the Sun. First Mercury reaches its greatest eastern elongation, then it appears to stand still in the sky (the retrograde station), and then it appears to move backwards through the heavens for a period of several weeks: that's Mercury retrograde for you. It ends when the little Sun-grazer's backwards motion comes to an apparent halt (the direct station); after which, Mercury moves forward again, until it reaches its maximum elongation west of the Sun. The reality of course is that Mercury never stops in its orbit, and never moves backward: this is only how the relative motions of Earth and Mercury around the Sun cause Mercury to move through our night sky.

Mercury retrograde is the cycle when everything goes wrong, to hear some astrologers tell it. The truth is not so simpleminded. All things Mercurial are crucial during the intersolar Mercury phase; infrastructure, commerce, information, communication and transport being prime examples. Absent careful investigation and planning, and conscientious follow-through, all such things are apt to go off track during these cycles. Mercury's intersolar (Max) phase is a time for focus, concentration, planning, follow-through and communication -all the qualities of the active and involved mind, in short. In case you haven't noticed, most people are not especially alert and focused most of the time. When this kind of sleepwalking runs into Mercury's intersolar cycle, with its focus on mental acuity, it doesn't take long for things to go awry. If you're sharp and focused and alert, you can avoid a certain amount of this mess. In fact, you can even prosper by concentrating on tasks that center on thought, planning and communication. But you'll still have to dodge all the chaos created by the people who are sleepwalking.

Among the sort of things to be ready for during the above mentioned Mercury intersolar cycles: strikes and other disruptions affecting transportation and communication (e.g. postal, phone, mass transit, trucking, airline, shipping, dock and warehouse workers, teachers and all manner of media). Weather both terrestrial and solar (including geomagnetic storms) can play a part in the kind of breakdowns described here, but human effort (and sometimes malicious action) is a part of the mix as well. Power failures due to infrastructure breakdown and computer network disruptions caused by hacker attacks, software vulnerabilities and the like are also just a crossed wire or a keystroke away from a major mess at these times.

If I had to pick a day to have a backup generator all fueled up and ready to go, a contingency plan in place in case the scheduled or expected didn't come to pass, a day to be especially sharp and steady and focused -it would be during one of these Mercury cycles. Note these dates; be ready with a fallback plan just in case. It's not so much that disaster is destined to strike when Mercury is in its intersolar phase. Rather, it's that everything pertaining to Mercury becomes crucial; and unless it's treated as such, then it goes awry. More and more, we live in a "just in time" world -and if the slightest delay holds up just one single thing, then a whole process screeches to a halt. Unfortunately, few people keep their eye on the ball with any consistency and diligence. And that's the reason these Mercury cycles tend to turn into Murphy's Law festivals. Practically speaking, this means that having a “just in time” inventory of essentials is risky business at times like this. Don't say I didn't warn you!

When it comes to times to have a backup plan handy, watch those Mercury inferior conjunctions (like the one on July 9)! They’re often accompanied by intensified solar outbursts – Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and the like, which an (if the active region of the Sun is pointed in our direction at the time) can stir up geomagnetic activity here. Auroral activity and strong storms are possible at times like this – and in the worst case scenario, these can be associated with damage to satellites in orbit and power transmission systems on our planet’s surface. It’s more involved than that, actually. Extreme solar weather can stir up weather extremes here on Earth as well. Dump Gigawatts of extra solar radiation into our atmosphere and our magnetic system, and you get storms as well as an increase in volcanic activity. The inferior Sun-Mercury conjunction is a high point in this cycle, but the entire Mercury Max period tends toward enhanced solar activity. Electrical and electronic infrastructure aren’t the only systems susceptible to disruption during geomagnetic storms. The human nervous system tends to get a little glitchy as well. If anything, this is more likely the root of the Mercury retrograde legend than the apparent reverse motion itself. Cutting between Earth and Sun during these Max phases, Mercury introduces an element of turbulence into the solar wind . . .

Mercury’s June 12 greatest elongation east of the Sun marks the onset of the second Max cycle of the little planet for 2013. It continues through the June 26-July 20 retrograde and the July 9 inferior conjunction, ending with Mercury’s maximum western elongation on July 30. Those dates, incidentally, have been so far and will continue to be (give or take a few days) some of peaks in this Mercury Max cycle. Look for increased solar and geomagnetic activity (including auroral displays) during any Mercury Nax and especially around those just mentioned key turning points in the cycle.

All the resultant Mercury Max increases in geomagnetism tend to nudge electrical and electronic infrastructure and equipment into greater or lesser chaos, affecting our civilization. Our bodies are electrical systems too, and people get a bit fritzy at times like this. Sometimes more than a bit. It’s not as if we can put on tinfoil helmets and deflect this stuff – no more than we can wish auroras away. It’s here. We deal with it. We take precautions, stay focused and have backups ready, to the extent we can. And then we just go about our business.

JUL 22, 2013 SuperMoon Astro-MapThese are definitely good times to have your emergency kit packed and ready to hand, just in case. And do be aware that these disturbances of the Earth’s magnetic field, skies, crust and seas are just the ticket for breakdowns affecting communication and transportation systems and other infrastructure, which can have very wide implications at times like these – with effects reaching out into financial markets and the broader economy. These are times to stay alert and focused, to concentrate, to keep your eye on the ball – lest it smack you between the eyes.

The last of the SuperMoon full moons of 2013 is one of the more suspicious to me, in terms of headline-making tidal extremes and storm and seismic risk (including magnitude 5+ quakes and notable volcanic eruptions), as well as because of the heightened potential for financial and medical emergencies of one kind or another. Falling at 0° 5’ Aquarius, in a T-Square configuration with Saturn, I figure this particular SuperMoon has an effective shock window starting on July 19 and extending through the 27th – extended, a couple days in this case, by the Moon’s northward crossing of the celestial equator on the 26th .

As always, being planetary in scale, there’s no place on Earth that’s beyond the range of any SuperMoon, so it wouldn’t hurt to make ready wherever you are or plan to be during the July 19-27 SuperMoon risk window. That said, possible zones of special vulnerability may be indicated by astrolocality mapping this particular SuperMoon alignment. The Sun-Moon meridian arc comes to mind as indicating one of the special risk zones. It’s a longitudinal zone running from eastern India up through western China and the heart of Russia, up over the pole to come down through east central Canada and the US, the Gulf of Mexico and southern Mexico. Also note the Saturn meridian lines through Western Europe and Africa, over the pole and down through far eastern Siberia, the central Pacific and New Zealand. This is far from a detailed, exhaustive listing, but the map should get you oriented.

This being another Mercury Max SuperMoon, I expect it will be accompanied by natural factors disrupting travel, transport and commerce during the July 19-27 shock window. Weather is an obvious suspect in cases like this, but volcanic eruptions can play havoc with air travel. And since volcanism is emphasized under a SuperMoon, I’d keep an eye on my travel plans. No sense getting stranded somewhere. Storms blow through quickly as a rule, in comparison to volcanic ash clouds. Whether on the move or sheltering in place, having a well-stocked emergency kit handy just in case provides peace of mind – even if you don’t need it. In the worst case scenario – heaven forfend – it could provide a great deal more. (Don’t forget that extra cash is an essential part of any emergency kit. You may or may not be able to take ATMs and banks for granted in tough times – particularly under a Mercury Max.)

JUN 22, 2013 Full Moon SuperMoonPlease be aware that I am not at all suggesting these are the only areas where SuperMoon-class storms, tidal extremes and seismic activity (magnitude 5+ quakes and volcanic eruptions) will make the news in the Jul 19-27 time frame. These are possible special focal zones, but all of Planet Earth is vulnerable at times like this. So if you’ve got your emergency kit ready and handy when the time comes – no matter where you happen to be – it’s a good thing.

Incidentally, it’s a good idea to check your chart to see whether you were born with important points in the vicinity of 0 Aquarius – or any of the fixed signs, for that matter – 0 Taurus, Leo Scorpio and Aquarius, that is. If so, this particular SuperMoon may be of special significance for you.

While the SuperMoon full moon is foremost among the geocosmic storm, tide and seismic shock windows for the month, it’s not the only one. There’s also the new moon on the 8th, anchoring a slice of vulnerability that extends from late on the 4th (in advance of Luna’s north declination peak on the 6th) through the 14th (extended a couple days by the Moon’s southward crossing of the celestial equator on the 13th). And at the end of the month, late on the 31st marks the beginning of the geocosmic shock window associated with the Moon’s August 2 north declination peak.

I’ll close with a reminder about the major theme for the year as a whole, the Uranus-Pluto square. From demonstrations and riots in the streets of major cities around the world, to Arab Spring-style outright revolt and civil war (such as we’ve seen in places like Egypt and Syria), this was all predicted in my forecasts over the past several years. Economic dislocation has been central to this trend, even in the Arab Spring uprisings – which began when national governments ended subsidies for food and fuel. In Europe and America, rage took to the streets to protest taxpayer bail-outs for wealthy, powerful corporations and people. These trends have been ongoing since the 2008-2010 oppositions from Saturn to Uranus and from Jupiter to Saturn, which heralded paroxysms in the global financial system, and political responses to that crisis, every major Mars alignment in the sky has been accompanied by more strident – and often quite violent – protestations by the 99%. With the onset of the 2012-2016 Uranus-Pluto square, there’s been an increasing radicalization of the masses; to the point that it borders on outright revolution – and spills over in many countries, e.g. throughout the Arab Spring countries, and most especially at present in Syria.

With Uranus and Pluto holding within a few degrees of their May 20 square all month (and well into June 2014), spasms in the global financial system will continue to be much in the news – and you’ll see strong reactions from Wall Street to the streets of major world cities, where the dispossessed angrily protest their lowered circumstances. Remember, the bank closures and nationalizations, account seizures and the like are manifestations of what’s been happening in all countries around the world since the Saturn-Uranus opposition of 2008. The citizenry of all nations have been pillaged in one form or another, through taxes or inflation or outright confiscation. It’s not over yet, but it really chafes under these Uranus-Pluto squares. Ask the folks in Cyprus. And again, remember: FDR did pretty much the same thing in the US back in the 1930s, under the aegis of the last set of Uranus-Pluto squares.

Plan on it all month: more violent protests in the streets as well as panics in major equity markets. But in between these sharp outbursts, there’s still an ongoing, underlying process of stress and change in political and economic systems around the world. As I’ve written many times already in my forecasts, the worst isn’t even behind us until 2016, and the salad days won’t be here again until after the 2020 Great Chronocrator (Jupiter-Saturn conjunction). The Jupiter-Saturn-Neptune grand trine in water changes none of this; not least because it feeds into the Uranus-Pluto square, what with Jupiter and Mars opposing Pluto and Venus opposing Neptune.

Finally, watch the end of the month for a martial outburst to accompany the Mars-Jupiter-Uranus-Pluto T-Square: fires, crashes, clashes and explosions; a surge in violence from the interpersonal level (criminal) to the civic (riots and revolutions) the the international (skirmishes that stop short of a major war in this case). Get a grip, be safe out there . . .


All astrological charts as well as eclipse and astro-locality maps are calculated and produced using Esoteric Technologies’ Solar Fire Gold Version 7.0.8 Sky map images are screen captures from the Pocket Universe app for iPhone. Storm tracks are screen captures from The Weather Channel app for iPhone. Solar activity images are screen captures from the 3D SUN app for iPhone. And earthquake maps are screen captures from Quakes Pro Earthquake Alerts app for iPhone.

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