In many ways, 2018 was almost like two years crammed into one. There are a few reasons for this, but the combination of the 5 Eclipses we experienced this year along with the Retrograde Slam of Mars, Venus, and Mercury from June through December 2018.
While early 2018 was a period of action, the second half was mostly “baby steps” involving lessons and learning experiences about how we relate on an interpersonal level. So 2018 may’ve had somewhat of an “arrested development” feel about it. We’ve been forced to grow and change in how we deal with one another on an interpersonal level and to become “grown-ups” in this area. But this theme is coming to an end with the January 21st Lunar Eclipse in Leo as we move into a new year that emphasizes practical themes involving changes in how we balance our career and home life.
With the 2018 Eclipses falling along the Leo-Aquarius axis, emotions surrounding personal development in the context of social and romantic relationships was the major theme of 2018, calling us to resolve interpersonal issues, figure out our relationship baggage, and to strike a much-needed balance between our romantic and social lives. Leo-Aquarius loves luxury, good times, and indulgences of all sorts, but both signs are stubborn and tenacious as well. With this Eclipse cycle having come to a close in August, we may be rushing to kick a bad habit (e.g., cool it with the partying), seal the deal in a romantic relationship, or clean up our social lives in some way.
The need for less mess in our social and romantic relationships was challenged by the series of Retrogrades involving Love planets Mars and Venus, making it difficult for us to understand and communicate in our relationships (especially any new ones that may’ve formed this year). As a result, with the impending Capricorn/Cancer Eclipse series already upon us, we may be feeling the pressure to do a lot all at once—on the one hand feeling pressure to wrap up or smooth over any lingering social or romantic entanglements while feeling pressured to jump on the fresh starts to come in our career and home lives. But these new opportunities will certainly feel less special if we forget to work things out with the special people who helped us get there.
Leo-Aquarius Eclipses of 2018: A Cataclysm of Friends & Lovers
4 out of the 5 Eclipses of 2018 occurred along the Leo-Aquarius axis, highlighting changes, new developments and remarkable insights into our romantic, social and creative lives. Eclipses are significant because they signify a major change in a particular area of life. Whether this change manifests as a realization or epiphany (Lunar Eclipse) or a burst of action and opportunity (Solar Eclipse), there is a shift in perspective that leads to a shift in action. Eclipses are “pushes” from the universe that put us in touch with our most raw emotions and gut instincts, allowing us to (eventually) take action by letting go of the people places and things holding us back from evolving vs. those that support our personal development.
However, with the Capricorn-Cancer Eclipses rushing in starting in January 2019, a powerful new phase is coming in right on time. Cancer-Capricorn is all about striking the right balance between the needs of home and family (Cancer) and with the demands of building a career (Capricorn). Eclipses in Cancer will bring personal needs or the need to build a secure foundation, as well as our need to create a nurturing home environment, nurture relationships with family--all of which stem from our basic need to feel a sense of belonging and to have a stable and nurturing home life. Comparatively, it’s a more subdued and practical sign combination than Leo-Aquarius, which could feel grounding for many of us.
Retrogrades, Retrogrades & More Retrogrades
“But isn’t everything pretty much always in retrograde?” I’ve been asked this question by clients and friends alike more times than I can remember this year. And while it’s not really true of course, it certainly was for almost the entire 2nd half of 2018.
The combination of the Eclipses (especially the ones in July and August) coinciding with so many overlapping Retrograde phases of the Inner Planets created a contradictory atmosphere in the latter half of 2018, with the Eclipses pushing us to move forward while the continual Retrograde cycles made progress challenging in many areas. Retrogrades are often periods of frustration and confusion for most, the upside is that they force us to slow down and reflect, ideally gaining self-awareness in the process.
Mars Retro: June 26-August 27
From June 26-August 27, Mars was Retrograde. However, because Mars is a relatively slower-moving planet (at least compared to Venus and Mercury, for instance, which are closer to the Sun and thus faster in their orbit), the effect of this cycle is longer, with Mars in the Retrograde zone starting May 12, extending all the way to October 8, 2018. When Mars is Retrograde, it’s as if everything stops. It feels as if anything we start during this period just cannot get off the ground, and it’s not a good time to start any major project, partially because taking the initiative in any context feels either overly awkward or altogether futile. The myth of Sisyphus resonates with the symbolism of Mars Retrograde periods: it’s like trying to push a boulder up a hill with no end in sight.
Venus Retro: October 5-November 16
Almost immediately following Mars’ turn to direct motion, Venus began its Retrograde on October 5th. However, like Mars Retrograde, Venus too has what Astrologers term a “shadow period,” when a planet begins to slow down and its Retrograde gradually begins its effect. So while Venus was “officially” in Retrograde motion during the dates provided above, the Venus Retrograde period was technically in effect from September 2-December 17, 2018.
Venus Retrogrades lie in contrast to the energy of Mars Retrograde. Mars is the power to initiate action and to pursue our personal agendas with vigor. Venus, on the other hand, is the power to attract, to socialize, to please others, to bring opportunities into our lives simply by being nice or relying on social graces. Thus with Mars moving direct as Venus turns Retrograde, social relationships and romantic ones become extremely complicated and social blunders abound.
Mercury Retro: November 16-December 6
When Venus returned to Direct motion on November 16th it seemed a glimpse of redemption was finally near. Then Mercury went Retrograde in Sagittarius. On the exact same day. And again our forward motion was thwarted: one step forward, two steps back. Right as our power of attraction returns, we become tongue-tied and unable to communicate, thus further prolonging our ability to resolve any social or romantic dilemmas that came up this year.
An Ode to 2018: Development Unarrested
With Mars, Venus and Mercury Retrograde from June 26-December 6, 2018, it’s definitely been a rocky road when it comes to clarifying (let alone alleviating) any frustrations or disagreements that may have come about this year.
Given the tolls taken on relationships of all kinds in 2018, it may feel either like there’s simply not enough time to do it all. How do we focus on more personal goals when problems from 2018 may still hang in the ether?
Take time to grieve, put your face on, and address issues with friends or lovers. Because even though mending those broken fences may seem a daunting task, it’ll be a huge weight off your shoulders, giving you the freedom to focus on your career path and long-term goals.
Whatever setbacks (perceived or not) we may’ve had in our career and work lives in 2018 were meant to catalyze important realizations and hard work on our relationships. No matter the context, much of 2018 was about unravelling how we act and attract—how we create and re-create our romantic and social worlds, figuring out how to balance friendship with romance, choosing to work through blockages in our interpersonal lives rather than run away from them, bringing conflict and truths to the surface that (when dealt with) leave us in a better place at the end of all the chaos.
In early 2019, this will all change, perhaps too quickly for our liking. With the Cancer-Capricorn Eclipses, the focus is shifting rapidly to the point where we feel like we’re in a cosmic pressure cooker. We’re being pushed now and in the last month of 2018 to tidy up any loose ends, so to speak, wrap up unfinished business or lack of clarity in our love and social lives so that we can move our focus to new beginnings and changes in our home and family lives (Cancer) and careers (Capricorn).
So it’s time to take stock of our relationships and the lessons we’ve learned through them over the past year. Whether it’s learning to speak up and communicate clearly to those we care about, ridding ourselves of toxic relationship patterns, or confronting/correcting how we deal with others—how we communicate our desires—we’ll definitely be leaving 2018 with increased insight into how we can bring peace & happiness to our interpersonal worlds.
The pot o’ gold at the end of this old rainbow is that once we do this work (yes, relationships are work), we can move forward with our career plans unencumbered, drama-free. Doesn’t that sound nice? So get things tightened up this year by setting it right with your people, and use the energy of this first Eclipse of 2019 to manifest your illustrious Destiny with gusto.