Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Mercury, Ego and the Inner Journey

We know that astrological Mercury represents mind, thoughts and communication in our horoscope.  The mind is where our sensory perceptions are processed in the brain and our perceptions are reflected in our thoughts. As we think, we rationalize, assess, form judgement, make decisions, learn and solve problems. We also form beliefs, ideas and opinions which we express through our actions and communications. This can take the form of sharing ideas, the transfer of information, negotiations, compromises and arguments and we also use verbal and non-verbal communication to form bonds and friendships with others.

Mercury’s sign, house and aspects tell us a lot about our style of communication; how we think and learn and connect with others. It also represents how we mentally process our opinion of ourselves, our self-image. In this, Mercury becomes the tool for our ego and its condition in our chart shows us how our ego communicates, as well as how we can go beyond our ego. If we take the journey beyond the ego, we are channeling a deeper part of Mercury, remembering that Mercury, or Hermes to use the Greek name, is the messenger of the Gods, the intermediary between the human and divine realms. We are particularly invited to step onto these deeper paths when Mercury is touched by an outer planet by aspect or transit.

But first, let’s define the ego. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, divided the human psyche into the id, the ego and the superego1.

According to Freud, the ego is the self-conscious part of ourselves. It’s how we define ourselves, including our status compared to others and our place in society. It’s wrapped up in our self-esteem, our sense of self-importance and the ‘roles’ we play. Our ego helps us to satisfy our id (the primitive, irrational, instinctive part of the psyche) without breaking society’s rules and conventions. The ego itself is moderated by the superego, which is our conscience, our ‘ideal’ self and the moral values of our collective society.

The ego of course, is reflected in our thoughts, words, opinions and ideas, as well as in conscious decision making and problem solving and this is how Mercury becomes the messenger of the ego. But if Mercury carries the ego, where is the ego itself in the birth chart?

We most strongly associate the Sun with the ego, because it’s about our self-identity and how we reinforce it. The Ascendant is how we project our ego out into the world through our personal style and outward persona. The Moon represents the baggage our ego carries from the past, translated into our moods and habits (it’s also the id, expressed as who we are behind closed doors when nobody’s looking and what we need to feel safe). Venus is about our self-worth, which is also the stuff of the ego and even those things we take pleasure in can be egoic if we use them to boost our self-esteem and status. Mars signifies how we assert ourselves and react to conflict, which is usually ego based. Competing is of the ego because it assumes a winner and a loser. Of course, when we totally lose our temper the ego has given way to the irrational id. When we get to Jupiter and Saturn we are into superego territory, but these planets can also be egoic, in that Jupiter can be about over-confidence and an inflated ego and Saturn about how the ego seeks respect. The fears and doubts associated with Saturn are also often ego based.

Beyond Saturn we’re in the realms of the unconscious, the sphere of the Gods, but more about that as we look at the chart examples.

Pawn as kingThe relationship of the Sun (the largest and most powerful signifier of our ego) to Mercury (the messenger of the ego) is telling.  Astronomically, Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and astrologically, they can never be more than 28 degrees apart, meaning that only a Conjunction aspect is possible. This tightly entwines our ego and its emissary.  A primary interpretation of Sun Conjunct Mercury2 is that it suggests an ego driven, perhaps controlling personality, with difficulty separating the ego identity from one’s ideas and opinions, which might manifest as seeing one’s own perspective as the only correct perspective and having difficulty accepting the views of others. More positively, it’s associated with independent thought and confident expression.  But even without the Conjunction, the close proximity of the Sun and Mercury suggests that every one of us is somewhat ego driven and to a greater or lesser extent lacking objectivity and defensive of our own opinions when they clash with another’s.

In the traditional astrology of William Lilly, planets Conjunct the Sun are said to be hidden by the light of the Sun and therefore debilitated, weakened3. This applies to anything in the same sign and within 17 degrees of the Sun, but a planet is in its most serious debility - combust - when between 17 minutes and 8 degrees 30 minutes from the Sun (although a planet within 17 minutes of the Sun is considered strengthened by the Sun). If we were to apply this idea psychologically, we could say that the ego (Sun) overpowers everything that gets too close to it.

The following both have Sun Conjunct Mercury and have both defined and written extensively about the ego.... To read more, including analysis of the charts of Sigmund Freud and Eckhart Tolle, click here to read on astro.com

This article was first published in Constellation News magazine and was re-published at astro.com

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Pandemics of Fear

While the spread of Coronavirus is undoubtedly serious and we must all do what we can to keep ourselves and others safe, what we are also in the midst of is a pandemic of fear.

With the Saturn Pluto Conjunction ongoing, the astrology is clear. Saturn and Pluto hard aspects have fear written all over them. They are an astrological archetype of collective fear.

The last Saturn Pluto Conjunction was in 1981-83 in Libra, a sign associated with relationships and sharing. The fear during that Conjunction was the threat of the AIDs and HIV, a virus transmitted mainly through sex and also the sharing of needles during drug taking. Again, this virus was very real and at the time it had the potential to be a death sentence for those who contracted it.

In my world, however, as a young women just starting out on her sexual journey, I was never really at risk. It was all about the fear. I clearly remember the UK government campaign, ‘Don’t Die of Ignorance.’ The visuals – tombstones and funereal bouquets – piled on the scares. This disease, we were told, could take us directly to the bowels of Pluto’s underworld if we didn’t exercise extreme caution (Saturn) when having sex. Protection took the form of the barrier method (Saturn) of contraception. My girlfriends and I had all gone ‘on the pill’ as soon as we were ready to be sexually active. This is what young women did in the early eighties. We were the beneficiaries of the sexual revolution started by our parents’ generation. AIDS ended that. We were all scared. There was also a sense of feeling the fear and doing it anyway (with protection), but we were definitely, especially us women, denied the sexual freedoms we had thought were our right.

So here we are, with a new Saturn Pluto Conjunction, this time in Capricorn and another new, seemingly terrifying virus. Most at risk are the elderly and those with some underlying health conditions, but most particularly elders with underlying conditions. Saturn in Capricorn clearly describes the elderly.

Jupiter, also in Capricorn, amplifies everything. Are we as a society and individuals overreacting, over-exaggerating? Some say yes, some say no, but time will tell. What is clear and again Saturnian, is that we are all looking to Government and other experts, such as health and medical professionals for advice and instruction. In many countries, laws are changing, if even temporarily. Some laws are being relaxed to help flagging economies affected by the virus and other laws are being set to help control the virus’ spread and by implication to control the behaviour of citizens. Law and order come under Saturn’s symbolism and control is a classic Saturnian word.

There’s a sense of being at war and war-like language is being used, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who understand the combined symbolism of Saturn and Pluto.

In the UK, people are panic buying toilet paper (or loo roll, as us Brits like to call it), even though Coronavirus doesn’t apparently cause bowel upsets. Pluto is of course associated with bowels and with waste in general. It’s about what we get rid of once we’ve taken what we need. This applies as much to our bodily functions as it does to our psyches. To purge is also to cleanse and hand sanitising gels are also currently being rationed due to high demand.

People with the virus are being forced to self-isolate. Again, it is typical of Pluto transits to isolate us, as individuals but also collectively. Walk around central London today and you will find that people are keeping each other at a physical distance. Expect a space to clear around you should you cough or sneeze. Usually it’s impossible to walk down the main shopping street near my office without literally brushing up against someone. Now we’re back in the realm of Saturnian boundaries and barriers.

Keep your distance, says Saturn!  By keeping away you are being isolated, says Pluto! ‘Social distancing’ currently looks like becoming one of the phrases of the year.

Yesterday (10th March), Mercury turned Direct in Aquarius, having spent most of its Retrograde in the sign of its Fall, Pisces. I tend to underplay Mercury Retrograde’s significance and for good reason, but this one was severe. Under Pisces, things can spread, become infected. Because of the fear of spread, we have travel restrictions, cancelled flights, holiday plans ruined, big crowd events cancelled, closed schools, fears about the virus spreading on public transport, massive strains on ‘Piscean’ institutions such as hospitals, prisons and care homes. And let’s not forget all the cruise passengers trapped on board floating germ factories. Of course, on its own, Mercury Retrograde doesn’t symbolise the whole picture, but it’s nevertheless interesting to note the clear symbolic resonances.

Saturn is today at 29 degrees Capricorn. When a planet is in the last degree of any sign, the meanings of the planet and its sign are intensified. The seminal work on this and the other ‘power degrees’ of the zodiac has been done by Frank Clifford who writes that at 29 degrees we “encounter some of the most challenging facets of that meaning.” A four stage plan to tackle the outbreak is in operation in the UK and elsewhere. Stage one is Containment. The second is Delay. Both of these are Saturn key words and these stages are incredibly challenging to implement and to live by. If the UK goes into Delay stage (as it has in Italy and other places) it means not going to work or school, not visiting elderly relatives, not travelling unless it’s an emergency and not socialising. And where this is being enforced there are threats of criminalisation for non-compliance, undoubtedly representing the most challenging aspects of Saturn, at the end of Capricorn.  

And as I publish, the World Health Organisation has just confirmed the Coronavirus as a pandemic.

Saturn moves into Aquarius on 22nd March. We shall see what happens then. It’s the sign of humanitarianism, community, collaboration. It’s also the sign of innovation and technology, which bodes well for the 3rd stage – Research – which is already underway to develop a vaccine and also find existing drugs that can help with treatment. Reports are that pharma companies are collaborating positively. The Mitigation phase, if all else fails, focuses on saving lives, whilst maintainin public services and law and order. Stay safe, look after each other and don’t panic, this too shall pass.

(Here's a happy picture I took in the park today - spring is on it's way).

With love,

Monday, 8 July 2019

The Blogathon Lives On

Astroair Astrology celebrates its 10th birthday this month and with Mercury currently retrograde, it’s a perfect time to recall past highlights. Today I remember a most exciting and memorable high point!

In 2010 I was thrilled to be invited by the late, great Donna Cunningham (author of many books, but most notably Healing Pluto Problems) to participate in an amazing Blogathon to celebrate International Astrology Day.

It was themed around the Saturn, Uranus, Pluto cardinal T-Square and comprised more than 70 articles from professional astrologers around the world. These articles provided helpful resources and advice to help readers deal with Saturn, Uranus and Pluto issues.

Donna, naturally, edited the Pluto section. Uranus was compiled by CJ Wright, better known as the wonderful Auntie Moon and Astroair Astrology compiled a series of articles about Saturn.

While some of the articles were of their time and others are sadly no longer available, many of them are still live and remain relevant today.

Here’s a selection of the best timeless articles:

Pluto problems have you perplexed? Here's what helps...

From Lawrence Grecco: Dealing with Pluto on the Angles

Pluto and Bullying – How to Recognise and Stop It and What to Tell Astrology Clients about Pluto in Capricorn both by Donna Cunningham and full of helpful resources and advice.

Browse the full Pluto section, edited by Donna Cunningham, here

Uranus - claiming a self-reliant future

From the inimitable Steven Forrest: Transiting Uranus through the 12 houses

From the Void, Of Course blog: A Guide for Teens Studying Astrology

CosmiTec discusses break up transits in: When Love is Over - Divorce Horoscopes

From the technology section, Neeti Ray’s advice for astrologers on using social media: Astro Tribes and Connecting in the Age of Aquarius

Browse the full Uranus section, edited by Auntie Moon, here

Look after Saturn and Saturn looks after you...

From Donna Cunningham’s Skywriter blog - Saturn Transits – What do they mean for your Career?

In Tightening Your Belt with Saturn Mandi Lockley looks at Saturn transits to the money houses

Kathy Loveless on using the Emotional Freedom Technique to help with Saturn issues: Tapping for Saturn – Astrology & EFT

Using insightful client case studies, Jessica Shepherd Takes up the Long Conversation with Astrology

Browse the full Saturn section, coordinated by Mandi Lockley here

Planetary Tests

Donna devised a series of very clever tests to assess the strength of the outer planets in your birth chart!  Take the Saturn test here (and scroll down to test the strength of your Uranus, Neptune and Pluto)


Dedicated to Donna Cunningham, one the great astrologers of our time. Although we never met in person, she remained a friend and mentor after the Blogathon was completed. Her work lives on through her books and magazine articles as well as in all the incredible free articles and resources on her Skywriter blog.

And also a huge shout out to CJ Wright (Auntie Moon) from whom I also learnt a lot and who was a fun and supportive colleague on this project. Her website has gone from strength to strength over the years since and is also really beautiful – check it out here

With love,
Mandi xxx

Friday, 5 July 2019

The Big Three for the First Three

I've had a great time (once I got over my camera-shyness) recording short pieces for the Academy of Astrology YouTube channel, along with colleagues Rod Chang, Sue Farebrother and Marcos Patchett.

Our latest series of videos run through each zodiac sign, discussing how their essence and qualities filter through the 'Big Three' - the Ascendant, Moon and Sun.

Here are the first three signs - enjoy!

The Big 3...What's up with Aries? - by Marcos Patchett

Are you a bullish Taurus? By Mandi Lockley

The 2 Faces of Gemini - By Sue Farebrother

You can explore the rest of our YouTube Channel Here 

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Eclipsed Again, 10 Years On!

My first post on this blog – July 11, 2009, 13.44 BST - discussed that season’s eclipses.

Now, as Astroair is celebrating its 10th birthday we are in eclipse season again, with today’s solar eclipse falling at 11 degrees of Cancer.

In Cancer, it can feel defensive, especially with an Opposition to the Saturn-Pluto-South Node Conjunction in Capricorn. It’s a time to ask where are our fears coming from, that we feel the need to protect and defend ourselves? Are they real fears, kept in proportion, keeping us safe? Or are they holding us back and creating barriers that get in the way of moving forward? How can we release our fears and move forward?

It's a New Moon, so it’s a planning time, not a time for action. Eclipses are also associated with endings and we can’t see clearly during an eclipse, we’re left in the dark and must wait for the light to return (or wait to be enlightened) to see a clear path forward.

In the meantime, today we can reflect that Cancer is a cardinal sign and in common with its opposite sign, Capricorn, it’s about progress, moving forward, building something.

Both signs need secure foundations to operate at their best, but while Capricorn’s mission is to gain security through building something tangible and material, Cancer needs to needs to build security through nurturing healthy emotional connections, and this includes self-nurture.

Today’s eclipse falls in the 9th House of Astroair’s birth chart, highlighting themes of higher learning, far horizons and deeper meaning.  I will ponder on these themes and look in more detail at the blog chart (shown below) in the coming weeks but for now, I will pause to reflect that this is not an ending it’s the start of a new beginning.

With love,
Mandi x

Click to view

Below is an excerpt from a 2009 post Working with Eclipses

It might help to go a bit further and work with the energy of the Eclipses and see how they fit into your personal astrological cycles.

You will find that the most potent Eclipses for you personally are those that fall in very close proximity, by sign and degree, to planets and points in your natal horoscope. Personally, I only consider Eclipses which make tight (within 2 ½ degrees or less of orb) Conjunction, Square and Opposition aspects with natal planets and points. You can safely ignore the Trines, Sextiles and the minor aspects and many astrologers don’t even bother with the Squares, but I think they are worth considering.

Also bear in mind that astrological measurements tend to symbolize the processes and journeys of our lives and these processes take time to develop. For this reason, life ‘events’ rarely happen on the exact date of an astrological measurement, so when considering the effect of an Eclipse on your natal chart cast your net wide, by perhaps looking back three months before the Eclipse and a few weeks after. You may find that nothing actual ‘happens’ as such, but the Eclipse reflects an inner emotional or psychological process.

Here are a few keywords for working with Eclipses: endings; new beginnings; new chapters in life; the need to release/let go/cut cords emotionally, or in specific areas of your life; events and feelings coming to a head.

The Eclipse will express itself in terms of the sign in which it falls. For example, Aquarius is to do with community, friends, innovation, detachment; Cancer is to do with mothers, nurturing, domestic matters, feeling safe; Capricorn speaks about tradition, authority, ambition, the administration of life and Leo is all about pride, creativity, confidence, being loved and appreciated.

Eclipses will also express themselves in terms of the planet or points they aspect in your natal chart. For example an Eclipse on your Venus may be about your relationships, your assets, your social reach, your self esteem, how you give and share with others. With Mars it is about where and how you channel your energy; issues around assertiveness or aggression or issues around sexuality. For the Midheaven (MC) it will be about career; vocation; your social standing and status; the authority figures in your life.

However, when looking at the way an Eclipse affects you, don’t get too hung up on making your experiences ‘fit’ the key words, these are just prompts, what really matters most is your own, personal, unique experiences.

Below are three methods of looking at Eclipses that you might find helpful and illuminating.

The 19 Year Eclipse Cycle:

An Eclipse falls at the same degree of the Zodiac once every 19 years, giving us the opportunity to review the longer cycles of our lives, to look at the bigger picture.

For example, the Solar Eclipse of 22nd July 2009 fell on my IC Angle (therefore opposing my career Angle, the MC). Looking back 19 years, the 22nd July 1990 Eclipse fell at the same point. This corresponded with me starting my first job following graduation. Looking back over the years at my career progress I feel disappointed that I didn’t follow and fulfil the dreams I had in my heart back then. However, these dreams have recently re-awakened, causing stress and upheaval, but ultimately giving me an opportunity to release the dreams of my youth and reinvent them, with the benefit of maturity and experience.

To find out what this year’s Eclipses say about the bigger picture of your life, pick those Eclipses that touched planets and points in your chart very closely, then reflect on what was happening in your life 19 years previously to see if there is any connection. Were big changes occurring then? Are they related in any way to what is happening now? If you are very young, look at what was happening in your general family life, with your parents or siblings, for clues.

Looking at the Eclipses this way, can help you recognise recurring patterns in your life and show you how much progress you have made or where you have fallen off track.

Transits to Eclipse Degrees:

Tracking Transits to the Eclipse degrees is a tried and tested method used in Mundane astrology to predict events and changes in the fortunes in the horoscopes of countries and their leaders.
This method also works well with natal astrology. If an Eclipse fell on a planet or point in your chart, that planet or point will be supercharged and will be susceptible to the effects of the next planet which transits it.

For example, in September 2007, a Solar Eclipse fell at 18 degrees of Virgo, exactly conjunct my natal Uranus-Pluto conjunction. This was a happy time for me, I had just got engaged and was busy planning my wedding, but all was not well with my job. My boss had moved on and I had a new boss who I found it difficult to communicate with and who I felt did not value my contribution, but with so much happiness around me elsewhere it was easy to put the difficult work situation to one side, which I did, for too long! Then, in October 2008, transiting Saturn in Virgo made a conjunction to Uranus-Pluto, the first hit of three and I was laid off from my job. This was a very difficult and painful process, but I am now very happy in a new job and can see that the change needed to happen. It now seems clear to me that the Eclipse at 18 degrees Virgo in 2007, falling on my Uranus-Pluto, was the start of the process of losing my job, especially as Uranus and Pluto rule my 6th and 10th houses respectively, the houses associated most closely with work. Because I didn’t follow the loud and strong cues from the Universe to leave my job willingly (underlined by Transiting Uranus also opposing Uranus-Pluto) it took Saturn to finally oust me from the job. The whole process since (during Saturn’s 2nd and 3rd hits) has been about letting go of the old way of working, so I can succeed in a new career.

An Eclipse as Part of a Moon Family:

Dietrech J Pessin discovered that all lunations, including Eclipses, form part of a family of related lunations. She found that every New Moon starts a new family cycle, consisting of a New Moon phase, a First Quarter Moon phase, a Full Moon phase and a Last Quarter Moon phase, with each lunation occurring in the same sign and approximate degree, nine months apart, the whole cycle covering a period of 2 ½ years.

A Moon family which aspects your natal horoscope closely is worth following, as the Moon phases of the family will most often reflect patterns in your own life development.

See her website for details of her book, Lunar Shadows, which explains this fascinating way of working with eclipses:

Other books on Eclipses that I would recommend are 
Eclipses by Celeste Teal and Predictive Astrology by Bernadette Brady.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Happy Birthday

Astroair Astrology is 10 years old this month!

To celebrate, throughout July I’ll be posting fresh content and with Mercury about to go retrograde, I'll also be refreshing and re-posting some old favourites.

I'll also be reminiscing over some exciting past projects and remembering some of the fine people I’ve collaborated with.

And there will also be videos!

I’m especially proud this month that my article The Rise and Pause of Extinction Rebellion about the recent climate change protests, is the cover story of the wonderful Astrological Journal.

Here’s its very striking cover:

The article is an updated and extended version of my short post about XR below: https://mandilockley.blogspot.com/2019/04/the-rise-of-extinction-rebellion.html

Jupiter, Saturn & The Superego