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The Evolution Of Consciousness – Are All Creatures Conscious?

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Before we can begin to consider the evolution of consciousness, we have to ask when consciousness first arose. Are human beings alone conscious, or are other creatures also conscious? Is an animal such as a dog, for example, conscious?

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Dogs may not be aware of many of the things we are aware of. They are not conscious of much beyond their immediate world, the world defined by the span of their senses. They know nothing of lands beyond the oceans, or the space beyond the earth. Nor can dogs be aware of much beyond the present time.

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They know nothing of the course of history, or where it might be headed. They are not aware of their inevitable death in the same way that we are. They do not think to themselves in words, and they probably do not reason as we do. And they do not seem to have the self-awareness that we do; they certainly do not get caught up in concern for their own self-image, with all the strange behaviors that engenders. But this does not mean that dogs have no awareness at all.

Dogs experience the world of their senses. They see, hear, smell, and taste their world. They remember where they have been. They recognize sounds. They may like some people or things, and dislike others. Dogs sometimes show fear, and at other times excitement. When asleep, they appear to dream, feet and toes twitching as if on the scent of some fantasy rabbit. They clearly are not just a biological mechanism, devoid of any inner experience. To suggest that they are not conscious is absurd — as absurd as suggesting that my neighbor across the street is not conscious.

Where dogs differ from us is not in their capacity for consciousness but in what they are conscious of. Dogs may not be self-aware, and may not think or reason as we do. In these respects they are less aware than we are. On the other hand, dogs can hear higher frequencies of sound than we do, and their sense of smell far surpasses our own. In terms of their sensory perception of the world around, dogs may be considered more aware than humans.

A useful analogy for understanding the nature of consciousness is that of a painting. The picture itself corresponds to the contents of consciousness; the canvas on which it is painted corresponds to the faculty of consciousness. An infinite variety of pictures can be painted on the canvas; but whatever the pictures, they all share the fact that they are painted on a canvas. Without the canvas there would be no painting.

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The pictures that are painted on the canvas of consciousness take many forms. They include our perceptions of the world around, our thoughts, our ideas, our beliefs, our values, our feelings, our emotions, our hopes, our fears, our intuitions, our dreams and fantasies — and more. But none of this would be possible if we did not in the first place possess the capacity for consciousness. Without it there would be no subjective experience of any kind.

Are All Creatures Conscious?

If dogs have the faculty of consciousness, then by the same argument so must cats, horses, deer, dolphins, whales, and other mammals. Why else would we require veterinarians to use anesthetics?

If mammals are conscious beings, then I see no reason to suppose birds are any different. Some parrots I have known seem as conscious as dogs. If birds have the capacity for consciousness, then it seems natural to assume that so do other vertebrates — alligators, snakes, frogs, salmon, and sharks. What they are conscious of may vary considerably. Dolphins “see” the world with sonar; snakes sense infrared radiation; sharks feel with electric senses. The pictures that are painted in their minds may vary considerably; but, however varied their experiences, they all share the faculty of consciousness.

Where do we draw the line? At vertebrates? The nervous systems of insects may not be as complex as ours, and they probably do not have as rich an experience of the world as we do. They also have very different senses, so the picture that is painted in their minds may be totally unlike ours. But I see no reason to doubt that insects have inner experiences of some kind.

How far down do we go? It seems probable to me that any organism that is sensitive in some way to its environment has a degree of interior experience. Many single-celled organisms are sensitive to physical vibration, light intensity, or heat. Who are we to say they do not have a corresponding degree of consciousness?

Would the same apply to viruses and DNA? Even to crystals and atoms? The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead argued that consciousness goes all the way down. He saw it as an intrinsic property of creation.

Consciousness & Biological Evolution

If all creatures are conscious in some way or other, then consciousness is not something that evolved with human beings, or with primates, mammals or any other particular degree of biological evolution. It has always existed. What emerged over the course of evolution were the various qualities and dimensions of conscious experience — the contents of consciousness.

The first simple organisms — bacteria and algae — having no senses, were aware in only the most rudimentary way: no form, no structure, just the vaguest glimmer of awareness. Their picture of the world is nothing but an extremely dim smudge of color — virtually nothing, compared to the richness and detail of human experience.

peterrussellWhen multicellular organisms evolved, so did this sensing capacity. Cells emerged that specialized in sensing light, vibration, pressure, or changes in chemistry. These cells formed sensory organs, and as they developed, the ability to take in information increased. Eyes are not only sensitive to light; they react differently to different frequencies, and can tell from which direction the light is coming. The faintest smudge of the bacterium’s experience had begun to take on different hues and shapes. Forms had begun to emerge on the canvas of consciousness.

Nervous systems evolved, processing this data and distributing it to other parts of the organism. Before long, the flow of information required a central processing system, and with it a more integrated picture of the world appeared. As brains evolved, new features were added to consciousness. With reptiles the limbic system appeared, an area of the brain associated with emotion. Feeling had been added.

In birds and mammals the nervous system grew yet more complex, developing a cortex around it. With the cortex came other new abilities. A dog chasing a cat around a corner holds some image in its mind of the cat it can no longer see. Creatures with a cortex have memory and recognition; they can pay attention and show intention.

With primates the cortex grew into the larger, more complex neo-cortex, adding yet more features to consciousness. The most significant of these was the ability to use symbols. Not only did this ability enable simple reasoning, it also led to a new form of communication — symbolic language.

Chimpanzees and gorillas may not be able to speak as we do, but this is not because they lack something in their brains; they lack a voice. They have no larynx, or voice-box, and cannot move their tongues as freely as we can. But they can use other forms of symbolic language. When taught sign language, such as that used by the deaf, they show a remarkable ability to communicate. Coco, a gorilla in California, now has a vocabulary of more than a thousand words, and composes sentences in sign language.

Language & Consciousness

For one reason or another, human beings evolved slightly differently. We have a well-developed voice-box, and after the first year of life the tongue frees up, permitting the complex sounds necessary for speech. With these two seemingly small advances, everything changed.

Being able to speak allows us to share our experiences with each other. Whereas a dog learns principally from its own experience, and builds up its knowledge of the world from scratch, we can learn from each other. We can build up a body of collective knowledge and pass it on from one generation to another — the foundation of a cohesive society.

This new ability has expanded our consciousness in several ways. Our experience of space expanded as we learnt of events beyond our immediate sensory environment. And as we learnt of events that had happened before our own lives, our experience of time expanded.

As well as using speech to communicate with each other, we can also use it to communicate with ourselves, inside our own minds. We can think to ourselves in words. Of all the developments that came from language, this has probably been the most significant.

Thinking allows us to conjure up associations to past experiences. When we think of the word “tree,” images of trees readily come to mind. Or if we think of a person’s name, we may find ourselves remembering past experiences with that person. Other creatures may well experience associations to past experiences, but their associations are almost certainly determined by their immediate environment; what is out of sight is out of mind. Thought liberated human beings from this constraint. We can deliberately bring the past back to mind, independently of what is happening in the present.

In a similar way, thinking expanded our appreciation of the future. We can think about what might or might not happen, make plans and take decisions. A new inner freedom had been born — the freedom to choose our future and so exercise a much greater influence over our lives.

Thinking in words opened our minds to reason. We could ask questions: Why do stars move? How do our bodies function? What is matter? A whole new dimension had been added to our consciousness — understanding. We could form hypotheses and beliefs about the world in which we found ourselves.

We could also begin to understand ourselves. We could think about our own conscious experience. We became aware not only of the many aspects and qualities of our consciousness, but also of the faculty of consciousness. We are aware that we are aware — conscious of the fact that we are conscious.

Consciousness could now reflect not only upon the nature of the world it experienced, but also on the nature of consciousness itself. Self-reflective consciousness had emerged.

Self-Consciousness

As we reflect upon our own consciousness, it seems that there must be an experiencer — an individual self that is having these experiences, making all these decisions, and thinking all these thoughts. But what is this self? What is it really like? What does it consist of?

Questions such as these have intrigued and puzzled philosophers for centuries. Some, like the Scottish philosopher David Hume, spent much time searching within their experience for something that seemed to be the true self. But all they could find were various thoughts, sensations, images and feelings. However hard we look, we never seem to find the self itself.

Not finding an easily identifiable self at the core of our being, we look to other aspects of our lives for a sense of identity. We identify with our bodies, with how they look, how they are dressed, and how they are perceived by other people. We identify with what we do and what we have achieved; with our work, our social status, our academic qualifications, where we live and who we know. We derive a sense of who we are from what we think, our theories and beliefs, our personality and character.

There is, however, a severe drawback to such a sense of self. Being derived from what is happening in the world of experience, it is forever at the mercy of events. A person who draws a strong sense of identity from their work may, on hearing that their job is threatened, feel their sense of self is threatened.

Someone else, who identifies with being fashionably dressed, may buy a new set of clothes every time the fashion changes, not because they need new clothes, but because their sense of self needs to be maintained. Or if we identify with our views and beliefs we may take a criticism of our ideas to be a criticism of our self.

Any threat to our sense of self triggers fear. Fear is of great value if our physical self is being threatened. Then we need to have our heart beat hard, our blood pressure rise, and our muscles tense. Our survival may depend on it. But this response is totally inappropriate when all that is being threatened is our psychological self.

Having our bodies repeatedly put on full alert is a principal cause of stress. We can easily end up in a permanent state of tension, opening us up to all manner of physical illnesses. Our emotional life may suffer, leading to anxiety or depression. Our thinking and decision making can likewise deteriorate.

Fear also leads to worry. We worry about what others might be thinking of us. We worry about what we have done or not done, and about what might or might not happen to us. When we worry like this, our attention is caught up in the past or the future. It is not experiencing the present moment.

Perhaps the saddest irony of all is that this worry prevents us from finding that which we are really seeking. The goal of every person is, in the final analysis, a comfortable state of mind. Quite naturally, we want to avoid pain and suffering, and feel more at peace. But a mind that is busy worrying cannot be a mind that is at peace.

Other animals, not having language, do not think to themselves in words, and do not experience many of the worries that we do. In particular, they do not experience all the worries that come from having a vulnerable sense of self. They are probably at peace much more of the time. Human beings may have made a great leap forward in consciousness, but at our present stage of development we are no happier for it — quite the opposite.

Transcending Language

There is, it would appear, a downside to language. Language is invaluable for sharing knowledge and experience — without it human culture would never have arisen. And thinking to ourselves in words can be very useful when we need to focus our attention, analyze a situation, or make plans. But much of the remainder of our thinking is totally unnecessary.

If half my attention is taken up with the voice in my head, that half is not available for noticing other things. I don’t notice what is going on around me. I don’t hear the sounds of birds, the wind, or creaking trees. I don’t notice my emotions, or how my body feels. I am, in effect, only half-conscious.

Just because we have the gift of being able to think in words does not mean that we have to do it all the time. Many spiritual teachings seem to have recognized this. In Buddhism, for example, students are often advised to sit with a quiet mind, experiencing “what is” without naming it in words or putting it into some category — to see a daffodil as it is, without the labels “daffodil,” “flower,” “yellow” or “pretty.” To see it with the mind in its natural state, before language was added to our consciousness.

Sat Chit Ananda

Returning the mind to this simple pre-linguistic state of consciousness is not easy. A lifetime of conditioning makes it hard to stop thinking and let go. This is why many spiritual teachings include practices of meditation designed to quieten the voice in the head, and bring us to a state of inner stillness. In Indian philosophy, this state is called samadhi, “still mind.”

Furthermore, it is said that when the mind is still, then one knows the real self, and the nature of this self is, according to the ancient Vedic teachings, sat-chit-ananda.

It is sat — “the truth, unchanging, eternal, being.” It is always there, whatever our experience. It never changes. It is not a unique self; it has no personal qualities. It is the same for everyone. It is the one undeniable truth — the fact that we are conscious.

It is chit — “consciousness.” It is not any particular form or mode of consciousness, but the faculty of consciousness. It is that which makes all experience possible.

And it is ananda — “bliss.” It is the peace that passeth all understanding, that lies beyond all thought. It is the state of grace to which we long to return; from which we fell when we began to fill our minds with words.

This is the self that we have been seeking all along. The reason we have had such difficulty finding it was that we have been looking in the wrong place. We have been looking for something that could be experienced — a feeling, a sense, an idea. Yet the self cannot be an experience. It is, by definition, that which is experiencing. It is behind every experience, behind everything I see, think, and feel.

What the mystical traditions around the world seem to be saying is that the self, that sense of I-ness that we all feel, but which is so hard to pin down or define, is actually consciousness itself. The pure self is pure consciousness — the faculty of awareness common to all sentient beings.

Moreover, when we come to know this to be our true essential nature, our search for identity ends. No longer is there any need to buy things we don’t really need, say things we don’t really mean, or engage in any other unnecessary and inappropriate activities in order to reinforce an artificially derived sense of self. Now we discover a deeper inner security, one that is independent of circumstances and events. Here is the peace we have long been seeking. It is right here inside us, at the heart of our being. But as with the self, we have been looking for it in the wrong place — in the world around.

Our Evolutionary Imperative

With the advent of human beings, the awakening of consciousness took a huge leap forward. Consciousness began becoming aware of itself. But at present this leap is only partially complete. We may be self-aware, but we have not yet discovered the true nature and potential of consciousness. In this respect our inner evolution has some way to go.

Throughout history there have been those who have evolved inwardly to higher states of consciousness. They are the saints and mystics who have realized the true nature of the self. Such people are examples of what we each have the potential to become. There is nothing special about them in terms of their biology. They are human beings, just like you and me, with similar bodies and similar nervous systems. The only difference is that they have liberated themselves from a limited, artificially derived sense of identity and discovered a greater peace and security within.

In the past the number of people who made this step was small, but the times we are living through make it imperative that many more of us now complete our inner evolutionary journey into full wakefulness.

The many crises that we see around us — global warming, desertification, holes in the ozone layer, disappearing rainforests, polluted rivers, acid rain, dying dolphins, large-scale famine, a widening gap between the “haves” and the “have nots,” nuclear proliferation, over-exploitation, and a host of other dangers — all stem in one way or another from human self-centeredness. Time and again we find decisions being made not according to the merits of the situation at hand, but according to the needs of the individual or special interest groups. Governments strive to hold on to power, businesses seek to maximize profit, leaders want to retain their status, and consumers around the world try to satisfy their own needs for identity and security. In the final analysis, it is our need to protect and reinforce an ever-faltering sense of self that leads us to consume more than we need, pollute the world around, abuse other peoples, and show a careless disregard for the many other species sharing our planetary home.

Even now, when we recognize that we are in great danger, we fail to take appropriate remedial action. We continue driving our cars, consuming dwindling resources, and throwing our waste into the sea because to do otherwise would inconvenience ourselves.

The global crisis now facing us is, at its root, a crisis of consciousness. The essence of any crisis, whether it be a personal crisis, a political crisis, or, as in this case, a global crisis, is that the old way of functioning is no longer working. Something new is being called for. In this case the old way that is no longer working is our mode of consciousness. The old mode is destroying the world around us, and threatening the survival of our species. The time has come to evolve into a new mode. We need to wake up to our true identity, to make the step that many saints and mystics have already made, and discover for ourselves the peace and security that lie at our core.

With the advent of human beings, evolution has ceased to be a blind affair governed by random genetic mutations. A new degree of freedom has appeared; we can think ahead and determine our own future. Our further evolution is now in our own hands — or rather, in our own minds.

Our next step is to rise beyond the handicaps that came with the gift of language and discover who we really are. Then, free from the need to reinforce an artificially derived sense of identity, we will be able to act in accord with our true needs — and with the needs of others and the needs of our environment.

Relieved of unnecessary fears, we will be in a much better state to cope with the many changes that we will undoubtedly see over the coming years. Liberated from unnecessary self-centeredness, we will be free to care for each other, to offer others the love we so much want for ourselves. And we will be in a much better position to build a new world — one that is not so driven by this halfway stage in the unfolding of self-consciousness.

Our task is to manifest this change on earth, now — both for our own sakes and for the sake of every other creature.

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Consciousness

Does Consciousness Create Our Material Reality?

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CE Staff Writer 7 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new study authored by Robert Lanza suggests observers" are responsible for determining physical reality, and that conscious observers themselves generate and create the structures of time and space.

  • Reflect On:

    We observers, people like you and I, are responsible for how consciousness forms into physical matter, what does this say about the power of our individual and collective beliefs?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Where does the “physical” world come from? Matter at its smallest observable form, atoms, pop in and out of existence all the time. The idea that physical matter is birthed from a non physical realm, such as the “quantum vacuum” or the “void”, or something else we are unaware of is not novel.  Nikola Tesla himself believed that “all perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the akasha, or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life-giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never-ending cycles all things and phenomena.” (Man’s Greatest Achievement, 1907)

A paper published by Parahamsa Tewari in the journal Physics Essays explains,

“A century from now, it will be well known that: the vacuum of space which fills the universe is itself the real substratum of the universe; vacuum in a circulating state becomes matter; the electron is the fundamental particle of matter and is a vortex of vacuum with a vacuum-less void at the center and it is dynamically stable; the speed of light relative to vacuum is the maximum speed that nature has provided and is an inherent property of the vacuum; vacuum is a subtle fluid unknown in material media; vacuum is mass-less, continuous, non viscous, and incompressible and is responsible for all the properties of matter; and that vacuum has always existed and will exist forever….Then scientists, engineers and philosophers will bend their heads in shame knowing that modern science ignored the vacuum in our chase to discover reality for more than a century.”

This non-physical “field” may also be dark energy, we don’t really know or understand it quite well, but we know it exists. A declassified Defense Intelligence Agency document touches on this,

“We do not understand why it exists or how it is created; we simply know it provides an ever-present force on spacetime, causing the universe to expand. Indeed, recent high-precision experimental observations indicate dark energy may be a cosmological vacuum energy.”

So, if our material world is birthed from this non material “stuff”, does consciousness play a factor? It’s interesting to contemplate, especially given the fact that consciousness is not a physical thing, nor is it the result of any known physical process or biology. You cannot pinpoint or find the source of consciousness within the brain. Even at the quantum level, factors associated with consciousness have been known to change the behavior of matter, like photons, suggesting that matter itself may be a conscious perceiving thing.

Does this mean that all “physical” things possess some type of consciousness? Photons don’t have a brain, do they? What about plants? There is a growing amount of evidence suggesting that plants act and behave in ways suggesting that they are a thinking things, capable of feelings, emotions, perceptions and thoughts.

If consciousness can have such an influence over matter, and is a non physical property that exists within all physical things, could it somehow be responsible for the creation of reality? This has been a common theme discussed within the realms of quantum physics for quite some time. In fact, the discussion of “ether”, this non physical, indescribable “stuff” has been the subject of contemplation for thousands of years. Plato wrote about the ether  in his work Phaedo, and explained how life exists within it. He believed what air is to us, the ether is to them. Is the ether alive? Is the universe itself, which could be primarily made up of this non-physical stuff, a conscious living entity?

You cannot explain consciousness in terms of the existing fundamentals like space, time, mass,  and charge. As a result, the logical thing to do is postulate whether consciousness itself is something fundamental to the existence of reality, to view consciousness itself as one of these fundamentals.

“Why do you insist the universe is not a conscious intelligence, when it gives birth to conscious intelligences?” Cicero, c. 44 BCE 

A New Paper

Another paper has emerged claiming that “observers” are responsible for determining physical reality, and that conscious observers themselves generate and create the structures of time and space.

What’s interesting to contemplate here is that, if this is true, it would include all “observers” within the universe itself, not just human observers. It reminds me of the double slit experiment, where tiny bits of matter are shot through a slit forming what’s called a wave pattern of probabilities and possibilities, but when an observer is introduced the wave function collapses.

One of the authors of the paper, Robert Lanza, told Big Think that observers can dramatically affect the “behavior of observable quantities” both at a microscopic and massive spatiotemporal scales. In fact, a “profound shift in our ordinary everyday worldview” is necessary. The world is not something that is formed outside of us, simply existing on its own. “Observers ultimately define the structure of physical reality itself.”

How does this work? Lanza contends that a network of observers is necessary and is “inherent to the structure of reality.” As he explains, observers — you, me, and anyone else — live in a quantum gravitational universe and come up with “a globally agreed-upon cognitive model” of reality by exchanging information about the properties of spacetime. “For, once you measure something,” Lanza writes, “the wave of probability to measure the same value of the already probed physical quantity becomes ‘localized’ or simply ‘collapses.'” That’s how reality comes to be consistently real to us all. Once you keep measuring a quantity over and over, knowing the result of the first measurement, you will see the outcome to be the same

The implications of this are and have always been quite large. The idea that consciousness itself is fundamental to reality suggests that it must have played an integral part in the creation of reality, that consciousness itself had to exist prior to the birth of physical material reality. One could go on and on contemplating things like: if consciousness is fundamental to the creation of physical matter, then what created consciousness itself? Where does consciousness itself originate from? Does existence itself even have a beginning? Can the future change the past, can the past change the future?

Who knows, but the most important point to takeaway here is that consciousness itself is fundamental to the creation of our physical experience. If we want to change the world, ultimately we have to change the way we think, feel and perceive. This is a key factor that is directly intertwined with the type human experience we create for ourselves.

This is why, perhaps, sometimes it seems that the greatest resource for powerful people, politicians and corporations is human consciousness itself.  If we ourselves determine what direction humanity heads simply by what we think and feel, just imagine what somebody could do if they could manipulate that aspect within us? The state of the world today, some might say, is chaotic, and that could be a direct result of the fact that the collective mind and heart is not in a state of coherence.

You might say “we are all over the place.” We’re separated by our beliefs and unable to come together in understanding and harmony. This collective state of being in turn will create a physical experience that reflects that, which is exactly what we are seeing today and have seen throughout human history.

Below is a great little documentary from a colleague of mine, it’s based off an essay he wrote for his philosophy master’s degree. It dives a bit deeper into this discussion.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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Consciousness

‘Ring Of Fire’ Solar Eclipse In Gemini: A Shift In Mindset

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

We are having a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Gemini on June 10th which peaks at 10:42am Universal Time. It will be an annular eclipse which is when the Moon almost completely blocks out the Sun with the exception of its outer edges. It appears like this because the Moon is near its apogee, which is its furthest distance from the Earth. This type of eclipse is also referred to as a ‘Ring of Fire’ due to it appearing this way.

The full annular eclipse will only be visible from parts of Northern Ontario (Canada), parts of Northern Quebec (Canada), parts of Nunavut (Canada) as well as Northwestern Greenland and a portion of Eastern Russia. It will be seen as a partial eclipse throughout most of Canada (with the exception of Southwestern part), the Northern half of Alaska, most of Eastern USA, parts of North Central USA, Greenland, most of Russia, most of Europe, and parts of Asia closer to Russia. However, from some of these locations the Sun will be barely eclipsed and with a shorter window to see it.

A Solar Eclipse is a much more significant type of New Moon which influences a longer term period then a regular one. This is when it occurs near the Lunar Nodes, which is where the path of the Sun and Moon intersect from our perspective on Earth. This happens every six months, along with Full Moon Lunar Eclipses happening prior or following. In this specific case we had a Lunar Eclipse in Sagittarius two weeks before this one. You can read more about that one here.

Both Solar and Lunar Eclipses reflect changes and shifts which affect the following six months and could also influence up to six weeks prior. You may or may not see the effects of it around the time it occurs, but you may feel it and then see it play out in the weeks or months afterwards.

Eclipses are always part of a series that occur in the same opposing signs for 1.5 to 2 years which is where the Lunar Nodes are for most of that period. The positions of the Eclipses and the Lunar Nodes reflect an evolutionary process in how we work with the energies of these signs and pertaining to the areas of our lives being affected (based on our astrological blueprint at the specific time of each of our birth). What results from a series of eclipses in the same signs over these approximately 1.5  to 2 year periods may have longer-term effects beyond the window in which they occur.

North Node Solar Eclipse In Gemini

The shifts reflected by this eclipse are connected to Gemini themes and areas of life, ultimately leading to a revision in how its energies are expressed. It is near the Lunar North Node which in many cases could also indicate changes that have an increasing effect on Gemini expressions.

This process is something that began a year ago and will play out until the end of the year. However, this energy will be the most prominent now, from late Spring to Early Summer. This is because it will be the only Solar Eclipse in Gemini (in this eclipse series) along with its ruler Mercury being retrograde here as well.

Gemini belongs to the Air element which is socially and intellectually oriented. As a Mercurial sign, it is associated with the mind, communication, information, words, writing, facts, curiosity, and commuting. Gemini energy is adaptable, dualistic, agile, versatile, rational, and quick witted yet can also be restless, scattered, duplicitous, overly talkative, and superficial.

Gemini correlates with our local/immediate environment, neighborhood, neighbors, siblings/cousins, communication devices/computers, childhood education, vehicles, and friends/acquaintances from earlier years. Gemini energy is also associated with LGBTQ+ matters as well the different expressions and orientations under that umbrella.

Solar Eclipse Conjunct Mercury Retrograde, Applying Square To Neptune

As mentioned above, Gemini’s ruler Mercury is also retrograde in its own sign of Gemini. What is very interesting is that the halfway point of this (three and a half week) retrograde process will occur hours after this eclipse. This is when Mercury is aligned with the Sun (and the Moon in this case), known as its ‘inferior conjunction’, and is a very significant period of the entire retrograde.

The ‘inferior conjunction’ is a time in which Mercury passes through the heart of the Sun  (from a geocentric perspective) and is symbolically seen as a ‘purification’. In our real world experience, it can be a time of ridding ourselves of certain thoughts, ideas, perceptions, old interests, expectations, or other things that are not serving us while the potential for new ones may be seeded. We may experience important insights that can contribute to this process. Although this technically occurs on June 10th/11th, these themes can also play out in the days surrounding this period.

Considering that this significant astronomical event is occurring in the hours following the eclipse, this can suggest that the Mercury retrograde effect of re-calibrating our minds and perception can also be a major part of a longer term astrological backdrop over this following six months that is under the influence of this eclipse. This is a rare occurrence to have both of these happening at the same time, and its even more rare and interesting that it is all happening in a sign that Mercury rules.

The Sun and Moon in this Solar Eclipse are also moving towards a square with Neptune in Pisces. This can add to the scattering and lack of focus reflective of Gemini and the Sagittarian energy of the previous Lunar eclipse in the same nodal polarity. This can also bring confusion, uncertainty, and deception.

Facts, details, and rational thinking can be in conflict with illusions, fantasy, escapism, and ideals. Issues around lack of boundaries may also be a theme over the coming months. This energy can be good for creative efforts that are mentally or communication oriented, or spiritual practices that involve air such as breathwork and meditation. Some of this can play out around June 13th/14th when the Sun makes an exact square with Neptune.

Saturn In Aquarius Square Uranus In Taurus

This month Saturn in Aquarius is currently in its 2nd exact square with Uranus in Taurus which I have mentioned in previous articles. This started in February when the first square occurred and is present all of this year and somewhat next year. This month, especially from June 8th-20th, will be one of the stronger periods of this energy especially when it peaks around June 14th/15th.

This reflects tension and challenges between Saturn and Uranus themes or expressions. Saturn is traditional, conservative, serious, rational, and cautious. It rules commitments, maturity, responsibilities, limitations, restrictions, the status quo, the established order,  and structures. It is about patience, practicality, discipline, and boundaries.

Uranus is freedom seeking, detached, revolutionary, radical, rebellious, progressive, reforming, idealistic, unconventional, inventive, innovative, futuristic, and scientific. It represents new technology, discoveries, surprises, disruptions, and separations.

This configuration can play out as ‘old versus new’, ‘restrictions versus freedom’, ‘the status quo versus revolution’, ‘commitments/responsibilities versus liberation’, ‘elder versus youth’, ‘progressiveness versus tradition’ and so forth. This can also be a time of integrating Saturn and Uranus such as applying new, technological, scientific, or metaphysical approaches to help us with our work.

In some cases we can express a certain mix of combined Saturn-Uranus themes and be at odds with a different mix of these energies. Depending on the variables, this can potentially lead to contradictions or hypocrisy.

Venus ‘Out Of Bounds’, Square Chiron & Sextile Uranus

Venus, the planet of love, relationships, friends, social life, values, money, beauty, art, and aesthetics, went ‘out of bounds’ on May 23/24th which will last until June 17th/18th. This when a planet moves outside of the boundaries in the sky which the Sun travels from our perspective on Earth. This is about exploring new territory as well as going outside of our usual limitations and conventional ways of doing things in regards to how we approach Venus areas of life. This can also reflect seeing things objectively and from a different perspective.

At the time of this eclipse, Venus in Cancer is moving towards a square with Chiron in Aries which will be exact on June 12th/13th. This can bring up wounds, blockages, negative patterns, or can reflect themes around healing, holistic perception, or perhaps solutions when it comes to love, friendships, pleasures, values, or monetary issues. In some cases these themes may be tied into family matters, security, or emotional needs being at odds with our individuality and personal needs.

Venus is also in a sextile with Uranus in Taurus which can bring a new, stimulating, unusual, exciting, inspiring, liberating, unexpected, or unique energy around our relations with others.  This can also reflect surprises, positive changes, or freeing type of developments around financial matters.

In some cases it can be good for exploring new ways of making money that can be innovative, online, metaphysical, or technologically oriented. This will be strongest on June 13th/14th but it’s possible that our experiences of both this Venus-Uranus configuration and the Venus-Chiron one mentioned above may be intertwined.

Things To Consider

Is there something that you need to shift when it comes to your mindset? Do any of your perceptions, thoughts, ideas, or approaches to communication need to be revised? What has been coming up for you that can be contributing to this process? Is there anything that you need to change or adjust when it comes to your relationship with neighbors, close friends, siblings, or extended family? Are your sources of information reliable, factual, and rational? Do you need to look at things more objectively?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up during this period and over the coming months; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  This isn’t a time to necessarily set intentions but instead to embrace the evolutionary process that eclipses facilitate. It will peak and reach its maximum eclipse at 10:42am Universal Time on June 10th while it will begin and finish approximately two and a half hours before and after. The exact moment of the New Moon will be 10:53am Universal Time. You can click here to see when the peak is in your time zone.

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Consciousness

Mercury Retrograde In Gemini: Cognitive Recalibration

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Mercury begins another retrograde process on May 29th/30th which will last until June 22nd/23rd. This is when it appears to be moving backwards from our Earth based vantage point due to the positioning of the Earth and Mercury in each of their orbits around the Sun. This one is occurring completely in Gemini.

In the weeks (and especially days) leading up to it, it can already start to feel like a retrograde and some of its themes can get seeded. This happens because Mercury slows down (again from our vantage point) and travels in the part of the sky it will be returning to after the retrograde begins. This is known as the ‘pre-shadow’ period which began on May 14th/15th.

If you have read my previous Mercury Retrograde articles, the remainder of this section and the following one are nearly the same. You can skip to the third section and beyond if you don’t want to re-read all the general themes associated with these periods. Those other parts are more specific to this edition of it.

Mercury retrograde is known for the problematic effects it often has on communication technology, transactions, motor vehicles, anything with moving parts, and commuting in general. Some people even get headaches near the beginning of it. We could experience some challenges, misunderstandings, and errors around our communications, numbers/details, and commerce, as well as changes, cancellations, or delays in our schedules.

Sometimes these issues could occur when we are excessively analytical without tuning into our internal guidance. Depending on how we flow with it and other variables, we may not always experience these surface level inconveniences, or they could just be minor irritants.

Mercury Retrograde can also be a good time to revisit or redo tasks, projects, ideas, or anything else that was initiated in the past. It can give us a different perspective or shift in thinking that can help us to approach these things in ways we wouldn’t have done before. This may also be a period of reconnecting with old friends, family, lovers, or others we haven’t seen in a while. When we reconnect with people during a retrograde, it sometimes can help to facilitate a shift in the relationship. In some cases, issues from the past can come up which may need to be hashed out.

The Deeper Purpose of Mercury Retrograde

Ultimately, Mercury Retrograde is a time for us to recalibrate and adjust specific areas of our lives as well as how we apply our minds towards these issues. It is a period in which we may receive important insights and see things in a new light. In most cases, it can be mildly transformational, but in some cases it can facilitate more major transformations depending on how it corresponds to your personal astrological chart.

During and following the retrograde, certain areas of our lives can go through changes or shifts, or we can experience a re-orientation of some sort which influences how we proceed over the coming months or in some cases, it can have a more long-term significance. In the three weeks afterwards, known as the ‘post-shadow’ period, we move forward with some sort of new awareness, adjustment, as well as new ideas and thoughts that have been seeded which will develop and become more defined as time progresses.

Certain things that have come up specifically in the weeks leading up to the start of the retrograde could determine where this energy could play out. It is also possible that there could have been changes or developments at that time which may go through a sorting-out process or shift in dynamics during the actual retrograde and in the two weeks following. There could be unknown variables, either positive or negative, that were either unseen or hadn’t been conceived yet, which may become apparent over the coming month.

The sign(s) and element(s) in which Mercury retrograde travels in shows the energy we are re-orienting ourselves with. More importantly, if you are familiar with your natal astrology chart, then your house(s) or any planetary placements being affected will show more specifically which areas of life you will be experiencing its energy in. For the astrologically literate, it begins at 24’43 degrees of Germini and will retrograde back to 16’08 degrees of the same sign before turning forward again.

Occurring in Gemini, The Second of a Series Primarily in Air Signs

Mercury Retrograde always happens in primarily one element for 1-2 years. This is the second of a series that is mainly occurring in Air signs which will last until Fall 2022. The first one was in January-February in Aquarius. The Air element is about intellect, objectivity, the mind, and social aspects of life. This period is about re-aligning ourselves with these qualities if necessary and ultimately expressing them in new or revamped ways.

With this retrograde in Gemini, we may also experience or apply re-orientations, adjustments, developments, circumstances, or reflect on themes connected to information, facts, different viewpoints, communication, writing, use of language/wording, commuting, siblings/cousins, close friendships, relations from earlier years of our lives, early childhood education, neighbors/neighborhood, and our immediate environment. LGBTQ+ matters and the expression of these orientations are also associated with Gemini (and Aquarius).

Gemini energy is multifaceted, adaptable, and chameleon-like. It is the sign of multiple personalities, duality, and represents different expressions of self that are quite different from each other. In some cases it could be opposite or contradictory, or at least seem like that to those looking in from the outside. These qualities can be positive or negative depending on your viewpoint and the variables involved, but this energy can also play out as behavior that is duplicitous, two faced, and deceptive.

Gemini is one of the signs that Mercury rules and is its zodiacal home. I believe that retrogrades in this sign can be more collectively significant in comparison to when it is in other signs. It is not only a recalibration of the energies of the sign, but a longer term recalibration of Mercury itself. This can be a great time for a major shift in mindset. There is also another factor specific to this retrograde that could imply this which is covered later in the article. Mercury also rules Virgo, but I view Gemini as more of its home due to its Air quality and more overlapping associations with this sign.

In medical astrology, both Gemini and Mercury are associated with the brain, hands, and the nervous system. Gemini is also connected to arms, shoulders, lungs, and the action of walking. Some people may experience issues pertaining to, or the need to address, these areas during or weeks prior to the retrograde.

Mercury Retrograde Significant Dates

Below are some of the dates and information for some of the major astrological configurations during this retrograde.

*The dates below are based on the Americas. The further East you are located, you may need to consider it as the next day.

May 29th/30th Mercury Retrograde Begins May 29th at 10:33pm Universal Time. Separating From a Conjunction With Venus, Moon Conjunct Pluto In Capricorn

The common Mercury retrograde themes and complications may come up strongly at this time and in recent days leading up to this as it has been nearly stopped in stationary position. You may get some sort of indication of how it may be playing out for you over the next month based on how you feel or what transpires. It’s possible that certain things that happen at this time, which may seem insignificant, can somehow be connected to how this retrograde process will affect you. Also keep in mind that the pre-retrograde shadow began May 14th/15th and it entered Gemini on May 3rd/4th, so certain situations that have started since then will also be a factor in how things play out over the upcoming month.

Mercury forms a conjunction with Venus while it is stationary, hours before going retrograde. Themes connected to friends, love, pleasures, values, money, aesthetics, nice material things, art, and social dynamics may be a big factor in how this process kickstarts for you.

The Moon is in a conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn as the retrograde begins. On this day the energy can be a bit heavy. Issues, circumstances, or developments, connected to hidden matters, secrets, fears, power dynamics, manipulation, jealousy, abuse, darkness, the underworld, shadows, taboos, wealth, sex, purging, transformation, or empowerment may come up. Although this energy will be mainly present on this day, these are also themes that can affect the entire retrograde process.

We had a Lunar Eclipse on May 26th and a Solar Eclipse coming up on June 10th, the energies of these eclipses are also tied into this retrograde. You can read more about the recent eclipse here and stay tuned for my next article on the upcoming one.

May 31st/June 1st Sun conjunct North Node In Gemini

Certain developments that play out at this time can be connected to our future and we are headed. This can happen through our social interactions or certain actions we are taking. What is the universe trying to show to help you grow and move forward in life?

June 3rd/4th Sun Trine Saturn, Venus Trine Jupiter

This is one of the better periods of this retrograde. The Sun in Gemini in a trine with Saturn in Aquarius brings an energy that is stable, productive, mature, responsible, realistic and steady. This can be good if we are applying ourselves towards something that we are building that we want to be lasting. But keep in mind, Mercury is retrograde and in the middle of eclipse season, so it’s usually not good to initiate anything new but it can be good to work towards things that have already been put in motion prior to this period.

Venus in Cancer is also in a trine with Jupiter in Pisces which can be socially or romantically expansive and optimistic. Our relations can be a source of learning and gaining perspective. Connecting with others on an emotional level can also be a factor. Generosity and/or luck may be experienced or expressed on this day and some people can benefit financially under this sky. This can be good for any media or marketing efforts around art, aesthetics, or social endeavors.

June 4th-6th Mercury Square Neptune, Mars Opposite Pluto (with Moon triggering t-square)

Under the influence of Mercury retrograde square Neptune, we are more prone to confusion, scatteredness, flaky behavior, mistakes, miscommunications, or even deception. Under this sky, it can be easier to overlook details and facts. Some people may feel like escaping reality or avoiding things, or perception can be unrealistic. We can also experience issues or problems with water. The common Mercury Retrograde complications have more potential to manifest during this period.

Mars is also in opposition with Pluto at this time which will also be triggered by the Moon in Aries forming a T-square. This can be intense and may experience power struggles. Conflicts of will or issues may come up around control, obsessions, fanaticism, or hidden matters being revealed. We can feel more forceful, persistent, compulsive, aggressive, and dominating or we may experience this through others. Repressed or powerful feelings may also be triggered. For some, this energy can be passionate, highly sexual, and can also be good for taking action towards making necessary changes or some sort of purging.

June 9th-11th Annular Solar Eclipse In Gemini with Mercury’s Inferior Conjunction

This Mercury Retrograde is very interesting because the halfway point of it will occur on the same day as a Solar Eclipse. This is when Mercury forms a conjunction with the Sun, known as an ‘inferior conjunction’, and is a major period of the retrograde process and potentially a time of important insights. The themes or circumstances pertaining to how this retrograde is affecting you may come up more so during this period.

For some people, complications and frustrations can also be stronger during this conjunction depending on your circumstances or how you are applying yourself. Ultimately things that happen is part of a process of ridding yourself of certain thoughts, ideas, perceptions, old interests, expectations, or other things that are not serving you while the potential for new ones may be seeded.

Considering that this is occurring in the hours following the eclipse, this can suggest that the Mercury retrograde effect of recalibrating our minds and perception can also be a part of a longer term astrological backdrop from now until the next eclipse season in November.

This is a rare occurrence to have both of these happening at the same time, and what’s even more interesting is that it is all happening in Mercury’s home sign of Gemini. As mentioned earlier in this article, this retrograde is much more collectively significant then previous ones in recent history.

I will be writing a separate article on this eclipse, join my mailing list here to ensure that you receive it.

June 14th/15th (June 8th-20th) Saturn Square Uranus (2nd Perfection) 

Throughout this retrograde, Saturn in Aquarius is in a square with Uranus in Taurus which will be exact for the second time this year on June 14th/15th. This actually began in February when they made their first square during the previous Mercury Retrograde (in Aquarius) and it has been a part of the astrological backdrop since then. This will continue throughout this year and somewhat next year. However this energy will be in one of its stronger periods between June 8th – 20th

This reflects tension and challenges between Saturn and Uranus themes or expressions. Saturn is traditional, conservative, serious, rational, and cautious. It rules commitments, maturity, responsibilities, limitations, restrictions, the status quo, the established order,  and structures. It is about patience, practicality, discipline, and boundaries.

Uranus is freedom seeking, detached, revolutionary, radical, rebellious, progressive, reforming, idealistic, unconventional, inventive, innovative, futuristic, and scientific. It represents new technology, discoveries, surprises, disruptions, and separations.

This configuration can play out as ‘old versus new’, ‘restrictions versus freedom’, ‘the status quo versus revolution’, ‘commitments/responsibilities versus liberation’, ‘elder versus youth’, ‘progressiveness versus tradition’ and so forth. This can also be a time of integrating Saturn and Uranus such as applying new, technological, scientific, or metaphysical approaches to help us with our work. However this energy plays out, it will somehow play a role in the adjustments occurring reflected by the Mercury retrograde process.

In some cases we can express a certain mix of combined Saturn-Uranus themes and be at odds with a different mix of these energies. Depending on the variables, this can potentially lead to contradictions or hypocrisy.

June 22nd/23rd Mercury Stationary Direct, Moon Conjunct South Node, Sun Trine Jupiter, Venus Opposite Pluto

Mercury will go stationary on June 22nd/23rd and will slowly begin to move forward and gradually pick up speed in the following days and weeks. As this happens, the areas of our lives that have been affected by this retrograde will start to become more increasingly clear, things will fall into place more easily, and we may experience resolutions depending on how it affected you. We can feel that we are in a better place to move forward in the areas of life that have been impacted and pertaining to how Gemini themes played out for you.

However, usually the first few days after it ends can still feel like it is retrograde as complications may occur due to Mercury’s stationary position. It’s usually best to wait until at least 3 days afterwards before finalizing decisions, agreements, etc.

As Mercury is transitioning in motion on June 22nd/23rd, the Moon will be in Sagittarius approaching the Lunar South Node. This aspect echoes themes of the recent Lunar Eclipse. We may also experience some sort of release or the need to let go of an old behavior, pattern, or other issues, circumstances, or relationships (or its dynamics) no longer serving us. Things connected to the past may come up to help facilitate this process.

Also at this time and during the next day, the Sun will be in a trine with Jupiter and Venus will be opposite Pluto. With the Sun in Cancer trine Jupiter in Pisces, we may feel optimistic and in some cases lucky. This can be good for developments or activities that are educational, expansive, philosophical, connected to media/marketing, travel related, or pertaining to morals. Generosity and compassion can also be expressed or experienced.

However, Venus in Cancer in opposition to Pluto can also reflect challenges depending on other variables specific to you. This can be emotionally or sexually intense. It can play out as conflicts around power dynamics, fears, jealousy, compulsive behavior, or some sort of revealing in our relations with others. Repressed issues can come to the surface and deep feelings may get expressed. In some cases, problems or issues pertaining to money might be a theme. If there are these or other types of challenges, there is also the possibility for a positive or hopeful resolution considering the Sun trine Jupiter aspect. This can also be a time of powerful desires.

Nearly six weeks later on August 1st/2nd and/or in the days following, there may be even more clarity around certain things that have been seeded or occurred during this specific retrograde. From there, things may develop even further with a better perception, or alternatively circumstances and developments may indicate lack of sufficiency, not what was anticipated, the need to shift gears, or that something needs to change.

Follow me on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, and YOUTUBE for more astrology-related content.

astrology, astrology readings, carmen di luccio

Gain more astrological insight into what is going on in your life and have a better understanding of your individual potentials. Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. I’m currently doing a DISCOUNT with 20-30% off.  Click here for more information or to order.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

Continue Reading
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