In the raggle-taggle race and noise of life, grace seems to be something of a lost art, an increasingly lesser-known virtue.  Along with “elegance of movement, manner or design,” one dictionary defines grace as “God’s loving mercy towards mankind.”

It is this latter vein of loving heavenly mercy, this form of grace, that we are given ample opportunity to renew our acquaintance during the month of July.  The month begins with Messenger Mercury and Abundant Jupiter already cycling through the maternal, nurturing sign of Cancer to the strains of what could be The Crab’s theme song:  The Beatles, “Let It Be.”   When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, Let it be.

Mother and child energy, pure love, infuses our hours like oxygen for the weary and war-torn even as Mercury retrograde underscores that it is best to slow down, measure our words and pace.  For the next three weeks, until July 20, messenger planet Mercury cycles backward in nurturing Cancer, inviting us to tune in to our inner worlds, remember, read, review, relax, restore.

Enter grace…if we allow ourselves to slow down and stop ceaselessly marching forward.   Grace requires less doing and more being.  It is an excellent time to take stock of our proverbial own back yards:  to get these in order before we worry about anything else.  Focus on the home front, family relationships especially those regarding Mom and children, revisit your attitude and interest in food and cooking, review estate, will and trust concerns, house projects or any real estate ventures.  Most of all this period encourages us to take time off to be with family, either on vacation in a distant land or on your patio or porch.

For the entire next year, Jupiter’s exalted generosity in Cancer could not agree more, supporting our efforts for less busyness in favor of simple living.  Contemplate.  Just be.  Smell the flowers, float on a lake, photograph memories, dance.  Enjoy.  Reflect on what what you learn by living a slower life.  Because reflection is what Cancer is all about.  Cancer is ruled by the Moon, which we see only because of our Sun’s reflected light.  As the nurturing force of the zodiac, Cancer moves us to take care of ourselves, our interests, of others.  Healers all varieties are often Cancer Sun signs or have significant areas of their natal charts in Cancer.

Aligning with Jupiter during all of July is Saturn in Scorpio and Neptune in its own sign of Pisces, forming what is akin to a cosmic life support system.  All three planets are in water signs which by nature are emotional, passionate, creative and highly imaginative.  Inspiration, hardwork, dreams, nurturing, teaching and learning beautifully collide to smooth the way for any project, business or relationship.  In short, you will feel in the flow.  Not a coincidence given the amount of planets in water signs!  Bask and rely on this tremendous cushion easing our movements, cosmic life lines that will soften dramatic shifts, changes and transitions occurring during this otherwise challenging time.

Such life lines are very helpful in the first week of the month when the lunar nodes are at attention-getting degrees.  The north node pulls us toward significant transformation and change while the south node pushes us to leave material thoughts and goods behind.  Release what you no longer need…be it psychological baggage or too much stuff in the closet!  Fortunately, the Sun’s magical alignment with the lunar north node will focus our attention on broader and deeper concerns for our future emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.

We may be even further prompted and prodded toward change as the Sun makes a challenging angle to transformer Pluto and radical Uranus in Aries, ruler of fire and explosives.  Expect fiery surprises, particularly in the arenas of home, home-land, and family.  The horrific and still unexplained loss of 19 fire fighters in Arizona is one example of how this energy can manifest.  Watch for other kinds of explosions too:  mind your mouth at family barbecues this week; avoid saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or just the wrong thing period.  Also be careful of what you eat over the July 4th holiday… try not to overeat until you feel you will explode.  With Uranus in fiery Aries, allow professionals to handle fireworks.  The Sun in homey Cancer warns it is best not to set off any fireworks around your house.  Turn off or extinguish any fire-related items:  stoves, barbecues, lanterns, campfires, tikki torches, etc.  Hopefully Mercury’s retrograde phase will thwart any planned surprise attacks on the homeland since such attempts may not be fully effective or realized due to communication snafus.  Jupiter’s current Cancerian shield will provide extra blankets of protection over any mass gathering.

At the same time, casting a glow on our relationships and projects, radical Uranus makes a helpful angle to Venus, planet of love and money.  Highly inventive and ingenious Uranian energy enables us to find new, different methods and paths we have not tried before to break through blocks and obstacles with loved ones or aspects of our lives.  Conversely, new people and prospects will enter our lives; or, people and segments of our lives that we’ve continuously overlooked spark us to take a fresh look.  Awakened, you might wonder why you’ve never noticed what or who has been right under your nose all along, just waiting for you to pay attention…

And July 10th, it will be hard for anyone not to notice what screams to be heard and seen when Venus reaches a critical degree of Leo, saying:  look at me!  This is a terrific time to change up, re-make old deep-seeded habits that no longer serve us, in our relationships or work.  Mercury’s pass back over the Sun in careful Cancer will ease any transitions especially pertaining to family, house, food or creative endeavors.

At mid-month, fiery Mars joins Jupiter in Cancer where they will travel together for the rest of the month.  Mars ignites the watery alliance between Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune, sharpening our focus and demanding the Cancerian domain of children, home, food and family be dealt with.  Just as Mars’ activating energy pushes us to get going, Pluto drives the point home.  Like a closer in a baseball game, Pluto’s opposition to Jupiter-Mars makes sure we peel back that proverbial rug, take a long hard look at what we swept under its cover, aka, what we just didn’t want to deal with.  No more.  Overweight from eating too much?   Does Mom need to be moved into a safe environment, ie, a retirement community that can care for her 24/7?  Spots on your ceiling from a broken pipe or leaky roof?   Take care of it now, say Mars-Pluto.  Lob off those extra pounds; find a long-term care facility for Mom; repair the roof before winter sets in.  Mercury’s alliance with the lunar north node pulls our thoughts toward the direction we need to go to accomplish all of the above.

The final days of the month we can move ahead with plans formed in previous weeks.  Mercury turns direct motion on Saturday, July 20.  Over the next three days, Venus enters Virgo, easing health and work concerns while the Sun moves into Leo sparking creativity, fun, and risk-taking:  leap in and try new ways to tackle what rises up to greet you.  Go ahead and sign contracts and documents or make significant purchases.  Venus, the very planet of grace makes a helpful angle to work-horse Saturn even as the latter challenges the Sun, reminding us that we are cosmically supported to move gracefully and with dignity while we dig deep to meet life head-on.