The incongruous quincunx
May is a month of heinous hybrids… of awkwardness, distortion and mismatch. So better brace yourself to roll with the punches and keep that sense of humour! With communication planet Mercury retrograde until 22nd May and action planet Mars retrograde throughout the month, progress is unlikely to be smooth.
Now what exactly is a quincunx you may ask? Astrologers are obsessed by the angles between planets in the skie — planets are opposite each other (180°), they clash; if they’re conjunct (next to each other) they work together; if they’re trine (120°) their energies blend in a delightful way, but if they are quincunx (150°) they irritate the hell out of each other. With a quincunx, the wants and needs of the two zodiac signs involved have no easy affinity or resonance. We’re talking about trying to reconcile the irreconcilable where a creative leap or lateral approach is required to blend two completely different sets of needs and traits.
When we look at the astrological energies for May, there are quincunxes between planets, virtually every day of the month. Here are the main players:
1) Retrograde Mars and retrograde Saturn in fire sign Sagittarius
2) Sun, Venus, retrograde Mercury and new moon in earth sign Taurus
3) Uranus in fire sign Aries
4) North node and Jupiter in earth sign Virgo
Take the Sagittarius-Taurus combination for instance. Sagittarius is a wilful mutable fire sign interested in adventure, excitement, learning, travel, philosophy and freedom. Taurus is a practical fixed earth sign interested in pleasure, material growth, stability, peace and slow, steady progress. The only thing these two zodiac signs have in common is a love of nature and enjoyment of the physical senses. Sagittarius tends to find Taurus boring, unimaginative and slow, while Taurus sees Sagittarius as unreliable, unpractical and prone to exaggeration. Normally they would try to avoid each other, but throughout May a series of quincunxes (150° angles) between planets in Sagittarius and Taurus will force them to work together. Taurus definitely has the upper hand with the sun, ruling planet Venus, retrograde Mercury and the new moon all in Taurus in the first three weeks of May. The push will be to work hard, get things done and have something to show for all that effort. Meanwhile Mars in Sagittarius will be pushing equally hard to break free, do something adventurous and avoid routine at all costs. However because Mars is retrograde (moving backwards) and close to restrictive Saturn and therefore handicapped, he’s unlikely to be successful, but like a guerrilla fighter or activist, he’ll strike the occasional fatal blow against the sensible and practical plans of Taurus.
It’s a similar story with Uranus in Aries (fire) quincunx the north node and Jupiter in Virgo (earth). Aries, like Sagittarius, wants freedom, new growth and excitement, while Virgo, like Taurus, is risk-averse and likes to keep things running smoothly and predictably.
What this means in real terms is that whatever you have planned for May is likely to encounter some obstacles. The part of you that wants to achieve something concrete will be challenged by the part of you that wants more excitement and freedom in your life. The best advice is to proceed firmly with a clear plan of where you want to go, but be prepared for unexpected setbacks. These obstacles may come from within, whereby you suddenly lose interest in a project that had previously seemed very important; or alternatively, you may find people around you chopping and changing their plans, forcing you to change yours. Another possible scenario is that you know you should be working hard (Taurus/Virgo), but you want to cut loose and ignore your responsibilities (Sagittarius/Aries). Try to maintain a sense of perspective and avoid getting angry or irritated when things don’t turn out as you had hoped. Look after your health and don’t push forward too quickly. This is a month of adjustment and re-adjustment and, who knows, by the end of it, you may find yourself on a completely new path.
On a global level we can see this ‘reconciling the irreconcilable’ playing out in Europe with the clash of ideals between promoting racial equality and welcoming refugees (the ideals of Sagittarius) vs the practical considerations of feeding and housing thousands of displaced people from a different cultural background (Taurus). Denmark, for years touted as a model of democracy with free health care and education for all, is prosecuting over 300 Danish citizens who ‘smuggled’ Syrian refugees over the border into Sweden simply by offering them a lift in their car.
With Mercury retrograde in Taurus for the first three weeks of May (until the 22nd) we will be re-examining all aspects of our physical lives and making any necessary changes. Are we happy with our health and the food we eat? What about our physical appearance, clothing and possessions? Do we feel financially secure and does our outer life reflect our inner values? 10th May marks the midpoint of the Mercury retrograde cycle, where there is often an ‘aha’ moment as messages from the unconscious are understood by the conscious mind. As always with Mercury retrograde, pay particular attention when driving, travelling, signing contracts, negotiating agreements and in all types of personal and business communication. Mercury will be forming a quincunx with Saturn from 16th to29th May, meaning that any attempt to put your life in order will require meticulous planning and hard work. The sheer scope of your goals may require more effort than you think. So break large tasks into segments and work on them one at a time.
May new moon
The May new moon falls on the 7th in fertile earth sign Taurus conjunct Mercury and Venus, forming an earth grand trine (equilateral triangle) with transformational Pluto in Capricorn and generous Jupiter and the karmic north node in Virgo. This promises to be an especially abundant and blessed new moon. So make sure you plant dreams and intentions in early May and share your blessings and good fortune with others. The Sabian Symbol for the new moon (16-17° Taurus) shows a battle between torches and swords, symbolising the fight between good and evil. With retrograde Saturn in Sagittarius quincunx the new moon, we could be forced to examine our own ideals and beliefs around abundance, money, property, food and the current local and global situation between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.
Mars has been travelling backwards through Sagittarius since 17th April and will continue to do so until the end of June, dipping back into Scorpio from 27th May onwards. As discussed in last month’s column, the symbolic purpose of the Mars retrograde cycle is to show where our actions and goals (Mars) are out of alignment with our true nature and purpose (sun). Once we understand this, we can take steps to balance these opposing forces and live a life of integrity. The best way to deal with the Mars retrograde transit is to think about any area of your life where you are doing things out of duty, habit or lack of will or energy to change and then take action to improve things. May and June are ideal months to tie up loose ends and complete unfinished business.
On 22nd May, Mars at 1-2° Sagittarius stands in exact opposition to the sun at 1-2° Gemini, marking the midpoint of the Mars retrograde cycle and the time when any grievances, anger or lack of integrity will be forced out into the open. The 22nd is a particularly important date, being the day Mercury stations retrograde and starts moving forward again and also the day of the May full moon.
May full moon
A power-packed full moon in Sagittarius on 22nd May conjuncts retrograde Mars and opposes the sun in early Gemini and Venus in late Taurus. The opposition between Venus and Mars perfects on the 25th. With the Sun and Moon opposing each other and Venus and Mars opposing each other over a two – three day period, this full moon will highlight any imbalances in personal relationships, but also offer the opportunity to strike a balance between yin and yang; masculine and feminine. The Sabian symbol for 1-2° Sagittarius shows Santa filling Christmas stockings for children, symbolising the importance of pureness of heart, innocence and faith. Given that May is a month of introspection, this full moon offers the gift of trust to those who feel caught up in the hurly-burly of the physicalworld.
May moon calendar
Launch projects at the new moon, bring them to completion in the period from just before the full mMoon to the third quarter phase and wind them down and reflect on developments in the week before the next new moon. Important events such as parties, conferences and weddings are best held close to the full moon or when the moon is in the same sign as your sun (or star) sign.
New moon 7th
Full moon 22nd
Stella Woods is an astrology teacher and consultant based in St Kilda, Melbourne.
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