Here There Be Dragons & the Riddle of the Sphinx

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. (Albert Einstein)

“There comes a time in the spiritual journey when you start making choices from a very different place.  And if a choice lines up so that it supports truth, health, happiness, wisdom, and love, it’s the right choice.”  (Angeles Arrien)

eclipseWelcome to the end of the tunnel!  The light ahead is not a mirage.  We are emerging from the shadows of uncertainly into a new cycle that will have more clarity and direction.    We aren’t quite there yet, but September 2016 is the start of the turning point.  Things are changing, or being birthed.  And, as weary as we may be from the intensity of the experience on both the micro and macro levels, we can have confidence that like a graduation this is a time of commencement.

2016 is a “9” year in numerology, which signifies endings and new beginnings.  September, being the 9th month, indicates that we have arrived at the point of transition from what is ending to what is beginning.  This summer, our psyches have been at work reshaping our consciousness due to the retrograde motion of the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto).  Retrograde is when a planet appears to be moving backwards in its orbit, which symbolically means that the energy is reversed implying that it is a time for inner work.  Retrograde periods are best navigated by focusing on things with “re” like review, reorient, reassess, reevaluate, reorganize, release etc.  This September (8/30-9/21), the planet Mercury is retrograde in Virgo the sign of differentiation and the ability to analyze as well as the physical body.  The spectrum of Virgo analysis ranges from discernment on the positive side to excessive criticism on the negative side.  The shadow of Virgo can be the tendency to ignore the body and get stuck in the head.  This Mercury retrograde period is about releasing the negative mental loops that hold us hostage and replacing the patterns that no longer serve our wellbeing with a renewed commitment to a healthy mind-body connection.  Virgo also symbolizes distillation, purity, and devotion to that which serves the higher good.

The transition point between the sign of Leo (July 23-August 22) and the sign of Virgo (August 23-September 22) is symbolically inhabited by the Sphinx, an ancient guardian of knowledge who speaks in riddles.   The mystery that life renews itself from what is hidden is the key to answering questions posed by the Sphinx.  With the body of a lion (Leo) and the head of a virgin (Virgo), the Sphinx represents the journey of tempering the ego in the process of becoming aware of the collective.  The message of the Sphinx at the start of Virgo is to take care of yourself and to look beyond yourself to serve and share with others as we are all connected.   Virgo innately understands that everyone and everything is interconnected because of its polar opposite relationship to Pisces, the sign of Spirit and the highest vibration of Universal Love.

The energies of the Virgo-Pisces axis are especially powerful this September because the month begins on September 1st with a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Virgo followed by a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Pisces on September 16th.  The difference between the two eclipses is that the Solar New Moon activates our self-perception and how we engage the world and the Lunar Full Moon activates our emotions and our subconscious selves.  The double eclipse message is to use the discernment of Virgo to examine the landscape of our lives with new eyes and dare to think outside of the box to invite the Universal Love of Pisces into our lives and into our actions.

astrology2In between the eclipses another major evolutionary cycle is completing.   The relationship between planets as they move in their orbits drives our psychological evolution.  Squares (90° angles) mark turning points and on September 10th a final waning square between Saturn and Neptune occurs.  Saturn is the physical world; Neptune is the metaphysical world.   With these two planets interacting illusions get shattered.  The practicality of Saturn removes the rose-colored glasses of Neptune leaving the collective wondering who and what to trust.  Hard questions about our belief systems are now being posed and the drive to become our own authority is calling.  Ideas that we have been trained to believe or even shamed into believing are up for revision.  The time has come for humanity to elevate compassion, understanding, and Love to a higher octave personally and collectively.  The lesson in the ending phase of this cycle is not only “wake up” but also to look with clear eyes at what still needs to be confronted, healed, and released.  The good news is that these planetary energies are ultimately a great problem solving duo because Neptune can see the problem and Saturn makes resolving it a reality.

dragons2This September, a period of uncertainty is coming to an end and a more determined and directed period is beginning.  While we hover between what is ending and what is beginning a shift in consciousness from duality to unity is taking root.  Habitual binary thinking (us vs. them; right vs. wrong; left vs, right; etc.) is being challenged and transformed.  In ancient times, mapmakers marked the area outside of recognized and accepted borders with the phrase Here There Be Dragons to warn against the perceived dangers existing in foreign territories.  We are now being called to enter this land of dragons, to venture past the limitations of our comfort zones in order to expand our minds and hearts beyond current dividing lines.  Dragons are interesting creatures in our collective mythology.  They are represented as fire-breathing monsters of destruction as well as wise, intelligent keepers of ancient knowledge, as friend and as foe.  Archetypally, this shows that the dragon embodies the potential for transmutation from the lowest vibration to the highest, a concept impacting us all at this time.  It is interesting to note the current dragon presence worldwide through the HBO series Game of Thrones.   One of the main characters, Khaleesi (Mother of Dragons), has a storyline that is a potent mirror for these evolutionary times.  In her journey from powerless to powerful, Khaleesi is redrawing the boundaries of her society and potentially her world.  At the end of this past season, Khaleesi inspired our collective imagination and left viewers wondering what it will take for her to succeed when she announced her intention:

“Our fathers were evil men, they left the world worse than they found it. We’re going to leave the world better than we found it.”

This declaration expresses our energetic mandate to stretch beyond known terrain and choose the higher path.  In both Khaleesi’s fictional world and our real world there are challenges and hard work ahead as transforming the patriarchy is no small task.

The cosmic truth that we are all connected, that “we are all spiritual beings having a human experience” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) has never been more important to understand and embrace.  This September, the imperative to forge wisdom from past experience is vibrating powerfully with the retrograde energy, the two eclipses, and the waning Saturn/Neptune Square.  Personally and collectively we are living and witnessing an energetic healing crisis.  As we encounter the breakdown of what is familiar, safe, and reliable we can’t help but wonder (and/or worry) about what comes next?  Within this matrix, a beacon to guide us forward is lit when we transition from the sign of Virgo into the sign of Libra on the Fall Equinox (9/22), when the planet Jupiter enters Libra mid-month (9/9), and when the next lunar cycle begins at the end of September with the New Moon in Libra (9/30).

Libra is the sign of balance and relationship.  Jupiter is the planet of expansion, foresight, hope, faith, morality and the aspirations of the higher self.  New Moons represents beginnings and give extra manifesting energy to where we want to go next.  The Equinox is when day and night are of equal length, a moment of perfect balance when the perpetual energy of change is suspended and opposites are in accord.  At the Equinox, a major breakthrough of cosmic energy occurs.  The archetypal world is stimulated initiating a new alignment between our conscious and unconscious selves.  Seeds of transformation are downloaded and a critical gestation period begins.  In Libra, the collective mind is stimulated and the capacity to dream the world into being anew becomes possible.   Jupiter will be in Libra for the next 13 months nourishing the seeds of our nascent unity consciousness.  The New Moon in Libra can help us to look beyond past disappointment and current disillusionment as it holds the potential to restore our faith in the beauty and generosity of the universe.  And, as we progress through the final months of 2016, the retrograde outer planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto will all return to direct motion.  Between now and year-end our collective unconscious will be receiving a healing dose of the energies of transformation and originality (Uranus); transcendence and idealism (Neptune); and resurrection and determination (Pluto).  Because evolutionary change is not like turning a light switch on and off, it is slow and cyclical and the lessons multi-layered, we may not tangibly see or experience how all of this energy is positively impacting our consciousness personally and collectively.  However, we can rest assured that as we learned from the Sphinx: life renews itself from what is hidden.  Whatever shifts this Fall Equinox may bring we only ever lose what is outgrown or worn and there is always the promise of reunion and rebirth at the Spring Equinox.

In these emergent times it is important to remember that we have agency.   Every day, by word and deed, we have the choice to live in the good reality or the bad reality.  We have the power to create light from the darkness and to bring a higher vibration into our individual lives, into our relationships, and to the planet by embracing our shared individuality and community.  Planetary phases teach us that energy is constantly evolving and devolving from formless to forming to form and back again.  This cosmic truth is the proof of hope that we can trust as we progress into 2017, a “1” year and the beginning of a pioneering new cycle.

lisakarmenLisa Karmen is an astrologer, artist and teacher living in New York City. She has a lifelong interest in wellness and has studied Green Medicine at the NY Open Center, Bach Flower Remedies, and Homeopathy. Lisa is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts with a focus in Psychology, Mythology, and Ceramic Art.  She lectures regularly on Astrology and Wellness at the Tournesol Wellness Center.

Click here for Lisa’s last article: LOVE, LIGHT, & LUNACY – March 23, 2016 Lunar Eclipse


Lisa Karmen is an astrologer, artist and teacher living in New York City. She has a lifelong interest in wellness and has studied Green Medicine at the NY Open Center, Bach Flower Remedies, and Homeopathy. Lisa is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts with a focus in Psychology, Mythology, and Ceramic Art.