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TRANSCRIPT Ep. 188 | Pluto Meets the Lunar Nodes: Defending Your Life!

TRANSCRIPT Ep. 188 (July 24, 2023)

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Hello, invisible friend, April here, and the date today is July 24th, 2023. Welcome to Episode 188 of the Big Sky Astrology Podcast.

This week: The Scorpio First Quarter Moon calls for action related to last October’s solar eclipse; Pluto squares the lunar nodes, newly in Aries and Libra; Mercury aspects Venus and the North Node before entering Virgo; and I answer a listener question about lunar node returns.

Scorpio First Quarter Moon (July 25, 2023, 3:07 pm PDT)

The week begins with the Moon report and with that Scorpio First Quarter Moon on July 25th at 3:07 PM Pacific time, at 2º43’ Scorpio and Leo. The Sabian symbol for the Moon is 3 Scorpio, A house raising, and the symbol for 3 Leo, the Sun’s degree, is Woman having her hair bobbed. 

At the First Quarter Moon, things happen. Sometimes we actually take conscious action about something that we conceived of or set into motion at the New Moon, but sometimes it’s just a natural next step that doesn’t really require conscious action. It could just be a next step that presents itself.

A Scorpio First Quarter Moon is ruled by Mars, and Mars is currently in Virgo. So that symbol of the “house raising” is a really good example of taking practical action at this First Quarter Moon, and especially toward things that will last. Scorpio is a fixed sign and it lends itself to things that keep going. And of course, the last New Moon was in Cancer about a week ago – literally, a symbol of house and home. So that was the home that we conceived of, and now we begin the building of it.

The Sun’s symbol, A woman having her hair bobbed – at the time that the symbols came into being would probably just have been a symbol of modernity and independence. To my modern eyes, this also looks like a symbol of streamlining and lightening things up so we can move unencumbered into the next First Quarter Moon experience.

This is the First Quarter in a Lunar Phase Family cycle that began with a New Moon on October 25th, 2022 at 2º Scorpio, and that was a Solar eclipse. Solar eclipses stir things up. Eclipses happen when a new or Full Moon occurs at one of the lunar nodes. And so there are times of shaking us up and disrupting patterns because they want to move us from the complacency and safety of the South Node and toward the more challenging territory of the North Node.

So that was a solar eclipse, and it was an eclipse on the south node of the Moon, which was to push us out of the comfort zone. Now we’re at the First Quarter phase of that lunar cycle. Maybe at that Solar Eclipse, you envisioned something or conceived of a course of action, whether consciously or unconsciously, that would move you in the direction of really unearthing your fears, really getting to the bottom of what has been keeping you from taking particular actions in your life or has been moving you in a direction that isn’t always the most positive; instead, that seems guided very often by fear. And now we’re at the First Quarter and the message is, okay, you started to identify that at that solar eclipse, and now is the time to do something about it.

In general, Scorpio is associated with intimacy and with the things that either help us become more intimate with others or they get in the way. And depending on the house that this falls in, in your chart, the Scorpio area of your chart, that probably describes the area of life where you’ve been experiencing a little bit of a struggle or an awakening in the area of intimacy and trust.

The Full Moon in this cycle will be on April 23rd, 2024. That’ll be at four degrees Scorpio. It finishes up at the last quarter on January 21st, 2025 at two degrees. Scorpio also. So at this First Quarter Moon, we are raising something. We are creating something, and it’s like something rising from the ashes perhaps of that Scorpio eclipse in October, 2022.

Void-of-Course Moon periods

Let’s look at the Void-of-Course Moon periods for this week. On July 25th, the Moon in Libra squares Pluto at 8:05 AM Pacific Time. It’s Void-of-Course for about an hour and 50 minutes before it enters Scorpio at 9:55 AM. This Void-of-Course Moon is perfect for changing emotional habits around relationship, because Pluto is squaring that south node in Libra. Especially things related to over reliance on others and trying a little too hard to please other people.

On July 27th, the Moon in Scorpio sextiles Pluto at 3:36 PM Pacific Time. It’s Void-of-Course for one hour and 48 minutes before it enters Sagittarius at 5:24 PM. And this aspect is a clearing of the emotional air. The things that we noticed a couple of days ago with that Moon in Libra square Pluto, will they lead to actual change or will they remain just things that we thought about and considered changing. The Moon in Scorpio sextile Pluto gives us a pretty clear opportunity in this relatively brief Void-of-Course time – and really these Void-of-Course Moon periods are about changing habits and patterns, and that includes, or may even specifically be about emotional patterns – so we have an opportunity. The Moon is sextile Pluto, which is an opportunity that comes our way to clear the air emotionally. Maybe it’s a conversation that you have with somebody or a way that you decide to react to something differently than you normally would.

On July 29th, the Moon in Sagittarius trines Venus in Leo at 4:51 PM Pacific Time. It’s Void-of-Course for just under four hours, and then enters Capricorn at 8:44 PM. Here is a Void-of-Course Moon that encourages us to notice and to appreciate the little things that bring us pleasure in life. That’s a little bit of the message of this Venus retrograde currently in Leo as well, I think, to look within for what truly makes us happy and satisfied, and brings us pleasure. So this is a Void-of-Course Moon for stopping ourselves in our tracks, every time we think critical thoughts or we think negatively about how things could be so much better, it would be so great if we could go on a big vacation, if we looked more attractive, whatever it might be, and instead to stop ourselves and say, hey, wait, let’s appreciate what’s beautiful and lovable and what’s going right in our lives at this time.

Mercury conjoins Venus (July 27, 2023, 8:16 am PDT)

On July 27th at 8:16 AM Pacific Time, Mercury makes a conjunction with Venus at 28º11’ Leo. Mercury can be a timer for events. It moves so quickly, so it’s like the minute hand on a clock. And when Mercury connects with another planet, it can give it voice and it can also make events fall into place in such a way that we get an experience of the planet that it’s conjuncting.

So as Mercury is conjunct Venus, there is a new insight that can clarify the inner Venus retrograde journey. We often say that at times when Mercury or Venus are retrograde, that it often brings people from the past, and I think that’s possible as Mercury makes this conjunction with retrograde Venus. And if people don’t actually show up at your door or in your email box or whatever it might be, it could even just be a memory of them.

Yesterday I had my phone, I suppose, turned on in my pocket and it phoned an old friend of mine, a very old friend that I haven’t spoken to in a while, even though I keep meaning to call her, and it dialed her, and I noticed and turned it off.

And she called back a little while later and I explained what happened. We laughed and I said, I promise I’ll call you, it’s not convenient right now. And she said, it’s just really great to hear your voice. And I felt just the same way about her. And that’s an example of Mercury coming together with Venus in Mercury’s mischievous little way, dialing for us if we won’t pick up the phone ourselves.

Mercury trine the North Node (July 27, 2023, 9:47 pm PDT)

Mercury trines the North Node of the Moon on July 27th at 9:47 PM Pacific Time, and the next morning on July 28th at 11:34 AM Pluto squares the lunar node. So we have a couple of really interesting moments involving these nodes, newly in the signs of Aries and Libra. First is this nice trine from Mercury to the North Node, and Mercury can help us make an agenda for what we would like to accomplish – in this case, for the next 18 months while the North Node is moving through Aries.

The North Node in Aries, as I spoke about on last week’s episode, really shows us that the way forward, the way to achieve growth over the next year and a half is to courageously pursue new activities and new avenues. This particular aspect from Mercury in Leo on this day says, look at the ways you can use your existing talents, your charisma, your leadership skills to achieve these long-term goals. So spend a little time today thinking about those questions as we’re embarking on this important nodal journey.

Pluto square the Nodes (July 28, 2023, 11:34 am PDT)

Then on the 28th, as Pluto squares the lunar nodes at 28º58’ Capricorn and Aries. This is the last of three Pluto squares to the Nodes – the first was last week, on July 22, and then on July 25 at 2:21 am. Pluto is squaring the North Node at the degree of last April’s solar eclipse on April 30th, I think it was 29º50’ minutes Aries. Eclipses, again, are related to the lunar nodes because they only occur when a New or Full Moon is within a conjunction to the lunar nodes. So eclipses stir us up, and they put us a little bit off balance because that is a process that can help us galvanize ourselves out of the complacency of the south node so that we’ll move forward toward the North Node and to that growth.

That was a really powerful eclipse back in April because it was the first solar eclipse we’d had in Aries for many years. So this was an energy that’s been lying inactive, like an inactive volcano or an inactive earthquake fault for many years. And that eclipse really shook it up and it was a little bit of a preview of coming attractions, really, for the nodes now being in these signs.

Pluto here is the first planetary aspect that will really wake up this new sign polarity. Squares make us take notice. This can be in particular, because Pluto is squaring the South Node in Libra, it could be that there is a challenge that comes from an important relationship that will pressure us to move forward on our own and our own direction.

Pluto, of course, is also squaring the North Node, and it might show that it’s not going to be a walk in the park pursuing this Aries North Node. Yes, it’s the point of growth and yes, it will ultimately bring more happiness and satisfaction if we pursue its message, but it’s getting off to a little bit of a dark start with this Pluto square – and Pluto’s saying, Don’t expect it to be completely easy and don’t expect it to come without a little bit of risk.

The North Node in Aries says, you will not grow and you will not achieve the promise of the Aries North Node unless there is some risk and challenge involved, because it’s the goal of Aries to teach us courage and the ability to stand alone and make our own path in the world.

Mercury enters Virgo (July 28, 2023, 2:31 pm PDT)

On July 28th at 2:31 PM Pacific Time, Mercury enters Virgo. It really blazed through Leo! It got through Leo so quickly, but it will spend a certain amount of time in Virgo. It’ll be in this sign through October 4 because there will be a retrograde period for Mercury from August 23 to September 15 in this sign.

Whenever we have Mercury retrograde in a sign, we are supposed to take a little more time with the lessons of that sign to learn from it, which is Mercury’s job, and to examine it from all different angles.

So let’s think for a moment about Mercury being in Virgo. It is one of the signs that Mercury rules, so we know Mercury’s really strong in Virgo, but it’s also really strong in Gemini. And just think about how different those two signs are. Mercury in Gemini is about the purely mental dimensions of Mercury, how we perceive things with the mind, how we sort through them and come to understand them and use them to create ideas and information that we put back out into the world. All of those are really mental abilities.

But Mercury in Virgo speaks to the more earthy qualities. There are all kinds of ways of perceiving and learning and communicating with the world. One of them is Gemini’s way. Which is with the mind, but Virgo speaks to that dimension of Mercury that has to do with the hands, the body, the way we master the physical world with skills and with tools. Mercury in Virgo excels at analyzing the information that Mercury and Gemini is happy to just collect. Virgo will put it into a spreadsheet and really look at it and analyze it over time and contrast one thing with another.

It really often also describes somebody who’s very good with their hands. Maybe they play a musical instrument. Maybe they’re a talented potter. They just have a really good instinct for the right approach to take and the right tool to choose.

While Mercury is in Virgo over this fairly long period, then it’s a great time to take stock and analyze and especially in the area of your chart where Virgo holds sway.

So perhaps this is a good time to go through all your old paperwork. Get rid of what you don’t need anymore. Have a big shredding party some afternoon to get rid of old papers. Maybe it’s a time when you can tackle some systems in your business that you’ve been wanting to take care of for a long time, but never seem to find the time.

And now is a good opportunity, even while Mercury is retrograde for examining the way you’re already doing things and see if there isn’t a more efficient way that it can be done. We have a little bit of time with this Mercury in Virgo before it turns retrograde, because again it doesn’t turn retrograde till August 23rd. So we have a little under a month and this is the time to begin to prepare for that retrograde period. To arrange your schedule in such a way that you have a little bit more open time so that you can do this kind of slow, methodical work.

It’s also a good time now to do our usual Mercury retrograde maintenance tasks. Backing up the computer, backing up your phone, and making sure that you have redundancies of anything that’s super important.

Listener Question: Lunar Node Return

In this week’s listener question, listener Hallie asks, “I’m experiencing my nodal return, and I wanted to ask you about your thoughts on nodal returns.”

Well, Hallie, that’s a great question, and of course it’s very timely with the lunar nodes having just changed signs last week. I had a few similar questions on my recent Cancer New Moon webinar, so this seems to be a question that many listeners will probably be interested in.

First, let’s talk about planetary returns. In general, every transiting planet as well as the lunar nodes, has a particular cycle that it takes to make a complete journey through the Zodiac. For the Sun, that’s one year. For the Moon, it’s 29 and a half days, and so on.

When a planet or a point returns to the exact sign, degree and minute that it occupied at your birth, we call this a return. When you wish somebody many happy returns on their birthday. This is essentially what you’re referring to. It’s a return of the Sun to the place that it was at when they were born.

When a planet returns, we’re experiencing a new beginning of its cycle and kind of coming back to square one, so to speak, with its lessons. At each birthday, a return of the Sun, we begin a new solar cycle. Which is a cycle of becoming a truer and more potent version of ourselves, more vital and creative, more filled with joy and personal power.

Especially in the month leading up to our birthday, we reflect on how happy we are, how true to ourselves we’ve been, how energetic we feel, and how we can approve of our life and of ourselves more in the year ahead.

Now a planet like Saturn returns much less often. Saturn has a cycle of 29 years to return to its position in your birth chart. Not everybody will see three Saturn returns, so it’s a very serious return, and it’s one when we come to terms with our authority and our maturity and success in the world. And we decide how to move forward to improve all of those things over the next 29 years.The lunar nodes fall somewhere in between. They have an 18-year cycle of returning to their position in your birth chart. The nodes are thought to represent a journey of moving from what’s easy and comfortable, represented by the South Node, and toward what’s more challenging and more likely to help us grow, which is represented by the North Node.

The ages of the lunar node return are roughly ages 18, 36, 54, 72, and 90. At the lunar node return, we examine how well we are doing in this area of transcending what’s comfortable and embracing growth.

This reminds me of Albert Brooks’s movie Defending Your Life. It presents this vision of the afterlife in which each person faces a kind of courtroom review of a series of days from their lifetime. And these were particular days when they had to face their fears. Based on how well they did that and how much courage they showed, they’re either sent back to earth or they are moved on to whatever the next experience is.

That’s how I like to think of the lunar nodes and also eclipses, which of course happen when a newer Full Moon connects with the Nodes. We face the fear of leaving the south node’s comfort zone and moving in the direction of a new challenge at the North Node. We can think of the nodal returns as at least five of those days we would review. What is the thing that causes fear around the south node, and if you’re having a nodal return, let’s talk about the natal South Node being in Libra.

It is very accustomed to relying on others and making sure nobody is displeased. So when you have a nodal return, you get a few opportunities over an 18 month period, roughly, to get more comfortable risking disappointing people or making people uncomfortable or unhappy, and not always putting everybody else first, and instead move in the direction of the healthy expressions of Aries – which is to do our own thing in our own way, at our own speed.

So that’s the lunar node return. But let’s say it’s the other way around. Let’s say your South Node is in Aries in your birth chart, and the North Node is in Libra. So your birth assignment is to get over the fear of letting go of your lone wolf identity so that you can merge with somebody else and master compromise and diplomacy, all of those Libra qualities in the North Node. The current nodal set up is then opposite your own because the South Node is in Libra and the North Node is in Aries. So what you are experiencing is called a nodal opposition.

You could think of it this way. The transiting North node shows a positive path forward for the next 18 months. So as it crosses over the south node in your birth chart, it shows us the best of what you have at your South Node, the talents and skills that you naturally possess in this area. Because the South Node is not a bad place. It has a lot of good stuff there. It has stuff you’re good at and that’s why you’re comfortable there. You’re just not supposed to hang out and spend too much time there!

So the transiting North Node in Aries, as it stops by there, it picks up supplies, it picks up that Aries courage and independence, and it will carry them back to your natal North Node over the next nine years.

So in summary, I think of the nodal returns as five uniquely special events in your life. There’s a certain amount of pressure that comes with this return because it’s hard to leave the South Node’s comfortable nest and find our wings and fly in the direction of growth.

Hallie, I hope that that helped. And if you invisible, friend, have a question you’d like me to answer on a future episode, just leave a message of one minute or less at Or you can email me at April(at)bigskyastrology(dot)com and put “podcast question” in the subject line.

Donor Thanks

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© 2023 by April Elliott Kent

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