Friday, December 26, 2008

New Moon December 27, 2008: Endings and Beginnings; Twistings and Turnings

This New Moon calls attention once again to Capricorn, the pragmatic, ambitious, and authoritarian earth sign. There are six celestial bodies in Capricorn at the New Moon. Mars, Pluto, Sun, Moon, Mercury, and Jupiter are strung throughout the sign of the fish-tailed goat. Pluto and Mars are entering Capricorn, and Jupiter is exiting this month. Capricorn took center stage this past year. Astrologers anticipated Pluto’s ingress into Capricorn. We saw foundations and hierarchies teeter from seismic rumbling caused by Pluto. But the bringer of fair winds, the magnanimous Jupiter, also spent the last year in Capricorn. This month Jupiter ends its year-long transit through the sign. This past year, I noticed that Jupiter’s magnetism directed me to become more comfortable with my own Capricorn nature, even though I have no planets in that sign. Professionalism has been an important theme for me; accountability and survival another. After this lunar month, Capricorn energy will continue to be important due to Pluto’s ongoing transit but the themes will recede a bit. Jupiter moves forward into Aquarius on January 5th and we will be invited to embrace all things Aquarius for the next year.

Endings and beginnings. If Capricorn is tethered to tradition and the past, Aquarius moves in the opposite direction toward innovation and the future. Janus, the god of January is shown facing opposite directions. He looks to the past and future. This month, to an even greater extent than usual for the beginning of a new year, we experience the dichotomy of backward and forward perspective. Janus is the god of gates and doorways. What door is opening for you? What door is closing? By nature are you more comfortable with Capricorn’s grounded earthiness or Aquarius’ airy intellectualism? We are making a shift between the two. These questions may provide insight.

Twistings and turnings of note this month are Saturn’s retrograde station on New Year’s Eve and Mercury’s retrograde station on January 11 right after the Full Moon. I expect less frivolity on New Year’s due to Saturn’s station, but this energy does support making resolutions for the new year. Commitments made under Saturn take on more gravity. Keeping our resolutions realistic will create a better sense of accomplishment at the end of next year. Mercury’s retrograde brings all the usual: a chance to rethink or redo, experiences that invite us to use different ways of thinking, communicating, learning or processing information; and the unexpected. Since during this retrograde Mercury moves from Aquarius back to Capricorn and then forward again to Aquarius, Mercury becomes the messenger who bridges the past and the future. This retrograde period will be especially important in the chart for the Inauguration [see below]. The last time Mercury was retrograde at an Inauguration was in 1989. Perhaps that retrograde Mercury contributed to the failure of George H. Bush to attain a second term.
The word “inauguration” derives from “augury:” to divine omens. At the moment the new president is sworn in, which occurs by law on January 20th at noon, we are able to divine what we can expect from this administration. Using divination, how may we help the outcome be for the greatest good? Here are some highlights of the Inauguration chart.

The Inauguration chart always has the same rising sign and the same house cusps since it must always occur at noon on January 20. Taurus always rises in these charts. Venus always rules the chart. In this chart, Venus is conjunct Uranus and opposing Saturn. See previous pieces on the qualities of the Uranus/Saturn opposition. Venus emphasizes that this opposition will be an ongoing and important dynamic in Obama’s administration. Venus invites conciliation. People who do not want to compromise during the next four years, who want either total revolution (Uranus) or complete conformity (Saturn) will be frustrated by Obama’s insistence on balancing between these two. However, I don’t think this means that we give up on making the sweeping changes that we believe in. Rather, we will be reminded over and over that simple polarization between good and bad, right and wrong, will not serve the changes we long for. Venus is in the idealistic sign of Pisces. Perhaps our ideals, empathy, readiness to surrender and sacrifice will guide us and the new president as we meet obstacles during the next four years. Mars in Capricorn is a grounded ally of Venus in this chart. This Mars also trines Saturn in Virgo, another earth sign. Pragmatism is an asset.

In an Inauguration chart the Sun is always at 0° Aquarius Having every administration commence at the very beginning of Aquarius reveals much of our national mythos through Aquarian ideals: “We are the future. Our nation can meet all challenges through innovation, invention and technology. We stand for freedom.” The theme for this year’s inauguration is “Renewing America’s Promise.” Obama has come to stand for our Aquarian ideals. His rising sign is Aquarius and his Jupiter is located at 0° Aquarius. Jupiter is the planet of belief. “Yes, We Can” is a fantastic motto for Jupiter in Aquarius.

The story of this inauguration gets more interesting when we consider that Mercury is retrograde and exactly conjunct to the Sun and Obama’s Jupiter. Mercury can be the Magician, easily manipulating a desired outcome or it can be the Trickster, twisting and turning meaning on its head. This energy is hard to predict. The message of hope may be hard to get out into the world or perhaps the message is everything. Perhaps we need messages of hope even more than we need plans for accomplishing what we hope for. If we just believe, can’t we do anything? The Mercury/Jupiter theme of the Inauguration chart is repeated in Obama’s natal chart. Repeated themes in astrology, or any divination system, are important. In Obama's chart Jupiter is opposite Mercury. This opposition shows how he can often be a brilliant and inspiring speaker, but not always. Sometimes his communication style becomes weighed down and ponderous when he becomes too intellectual and too abstract. Will he be foiled by communication during his presidency or will it be his gift of magic? The Mercury retrograde in the Inauguration chart says communication will be key, it will be a challenge, and it will be unexpected. I suspect that Obama will need to use his powers of Piscean empathy to reach the world and inspire us to be the change that we long for.

One of the most troubling things about the Inauguration chart is a void-of-course Moon. It would be nice if some astrology-savvy staff member (or perhaps Michelle consults astrologers?) would postpone the actual swearing in until the Moon goes into Sagittarius at 12:30 pm when it will no longer be in the void-of-course limbo land. But if we have to work with this late degree Scorpio Moon, the best way may be to use its energy to stop being na├»ve. Scorpio sees things the way they really are, warts and all. The Moon in these types of charts represents the mood of the people. Obama’s populace may not want to put up with the government operating in the same old way. With a void-of-course Moon, Obama may have a harder time connecting with the people. The Moon is also square to fantasy-producing Neptune. This energy contradicts the clear-eyed skepticism of Scorpio. Perhaps this connection to Neptune shows the portion of the people who believe, perhaps more than they should, that Obama will have all the answers and be the salvation for us all. Put to good use this Moon may help us be realistic while at the same time maintaining idealism. That balancing act is always a good trick.

Right before the Inauguration, The Full Moon chart of January 10 emphasizes Neptune conjunct Chiron (themes of sacrifice and healing) as well as the opposition of Uranus and Saturn. The Sun and Moon, are allies of Uranus and Saturn at this time. Breakthroughs in stalemates may happen in the period leading up to the Full Moon or right after. Have you noticed oppositions to what you believe or desire in the last month or so? Perhaps the opposition comes from a more conservative, Saturn-type person or situation. Or perhaps the opposition comes from a more revolutionary or extreme person or situation. At the Full Moon, seek inspiration or resolution for any oppositions you have encountered. What are you learning? If you have any personal planets or points are within 18° to 22° of Cardinal* or Mutable** signs, then you may feel this Full Moon even more strongly.

Standing at the doorway between the old year and the next what do you see? What calls to you? How will you support that vision into the future? It will be a good thing to remember what we have learned from Capricorn as we move forward into Aquarius.

Dates important to our story:
December 28 Mars conjunct Pluto (1° Capricorn)
December 31 Mercury conjunct Jupiter (28° Capricorn)
December 31 Saturn stations retrograde (21°Virgo)
January 1 Mercury enters Aquarius
January 5 Jupiter enters Aquarius
January 10 Full Moon
January 11 Mercury stations retrograde (7° Aquarius)
January 18 Mercury retrograde conjunct Jupiter (3° Aquarius)
January 19 Sun enters Aquarius
January 20 Sun conjunct Mercury (0° Aquarius)
January 23 Sun conjunct Jupiter (4°Aquarius)

*Cardinal signs are : Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn
**Mutable signs are: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Moon November 27, 2008: A Practice of Praise

Your depression is connected to your insolence
And your refusal to praise. If a man or woman is
On the path, and refuses to praise- that man or woman
Steals from others every day - in fact is a shoplifter!
The sun became full of light when it got hold of itself.
Angels began shining when they achieved discipline.
The sun goes out whenever the cloud of not-praising comes near.
The moment that foolish angel felt insolent, he heard the door close.
~ Rumi translated by Robert Bly

I’ve been looking for a way to reframe the word “crisis”. Somewhere between panic and escapism, there must be a response to profound change that affirms what remains good within and around us. There must be a response that invites possibility for making our world even better. With Pluto’s ingress into Capricorn, we have been experiencing some profound shifts. Just as Pluto likes to do, the ground has opened up, exposing what we misuse or take for granted about Capricorn issues. We have some things to look at. I need a new way to approach this investigation.

This month’s New Moon is in Sagittarius. Sagittarian energy is celebratory. It is hopeful and expansive. We can use these qualities to remember why we are grateful—what is good about our lives. In spite of all we may be feeling and hearing about crisis right now, the act of praising is an antidote to despair. This New Moon in Sagittarius takes place on Thanksgiving this year—a cosmic reminder that praising is an important spiritual practice.

I find that praising shifts perception. After reading Rumi’s poem about praising recently, I decided to begin a personal practice of praise, not because I easily felt grateful, but because bitterness seemed to be taking over my internal dialog, and I wanted a tool to stop it. Now, whenever the bitter dialog pops up I offer up praise for five things, any five things that comes to mind. For example, I may pray aloud:

All beings, to my body I give praise!
To my family, I give praise!
To the beauty in this room, I give praise!
To the abundance around me, I give praise!
To the heartfelt connections with friends, I give praise!

This breaks the spell of despondency and I reconnect to the energetic flow of possibility.

Jupiter, the ruler of Sagittarius, is a good ally for learning how to reframe despair. Right now, Jupiter is traveling through the last degrees of Capricorn. It entered Capricorn December 2007 and will leave for Aquarius in the next lunar month. During this Sagittarian season, Jupiter may be the best guide for teaching us how to embrace crisis as opportunity. Through Jupiter’s gift of storytelling, we may be able to re-story how we will greet Pluto’s ingress into Capricorn. Instead of crisis, this is our opportunity to redefine what we mean about Capricorn issues like wealth, authority, and success. What about these things haven’t been working for you? What about these things haven’t been working for the world? How do we choose to redefine the very structures of our culture? If you have ever wanted a world that had a different relationship to money and authority, now is your opportunity! What can we create? What tools are you using to move forward?

At the New Moon, Jupiter is conjunct Venus, trine Saturn, and sextile Uranus. This is all good. Venus rules both money and beauty. These things are not in conflict with each other but this planetary ally invites us to consider which is more important to us. My practice of praising reminds me that in the moment I am wealthy when I praise the beauty in my life.

There is also a cluster of planets called a stellium in the first degrees of Sagittarius. The Sun, Moon, Mercury and Mars combine forces. This energy invites truth into our hearts and a willingness to act upon what we believe. We will want to expand our horizons this month. We’ve just elected a new president. As Caroline Casey says, we’ve just elected a new story. As we set intention at the New Moon, we may be able to animate that story with hope and action.

Uranus stations direct on the day of the New Moon, giving a strong tone of unpredictability to this month. The opposition transit between Saturn and Uranus has begun. We’ve reached the tipping point. The dialog between order and chaos continues to be relevant. All transits to Uranus (see below) will emphasize our desires for change. Uranian change often comes from unexpected places and in unexpected ways. Transits to Saturn (see below) will emphasize structure and process. Saturn process slows us down and invites us to reconsider.

The Full Moon on December 12 is quite dynamic. There is a Grand Cross of planets. The relationships in a Grand Cross are challenging. The planets involved are the Sun and Moon, Mars, Uranus and Saturn. We may need to practice our tools for reframing the word “crisis” at this time. The transit of Mars to Uranus and Saturn will very likely trigger new expressions of the opposition between Uranus and Saturn. This is a good time to pay attention to the forces that are pulling us in opposite directions. How do we find the balance point between?

The Sun enters Capricorn at the Winter Solstice on December 21. The chart for this moment is called the Capricorn Ingress. This chart shows us a map for the whole season. Mars features prominently in this chart as well. Mars relates to war, to action, to desire. In the Tarot, Mars corresponds to the Tower card. Structures may fall this season. At the Winter Solstice, the Sun is conjunct Pluto within minutes of being exact. Both Pluto and Mars turn over stagnant forms so that we may revitalize them. The chart for the winter does not look particularly restful, yet we need the dark time of winter to dream and replenish. What are your tools for being present to the moment while seeing the larger picture? Jupiter rules the winter chart. In spite of challenges, we are called to dream the bigger dream. With the Moon in Libra, we will want balance and harmony. Perhaps this desire will help us find solutions to inherent tensions. This Moon supports the middle path that Obama seems to be taking in his appointments to his cabinet. What middle path do you choose?

Important dates for our story.

Nov. 27 Uranus stations direct
Nov. 28 Venus (18° Capricorn) sextile Uranus (18° Pisces)
Nov. 29 Venus (20° Capricorn) trine Saturn (20° Virgo)
Dec. 1 Venus (22° Capricorn) conjunct Jupiter (22° Capricorn)
Dec. 4 Mercury (18° Sagittarius) square Uranus (18° Pisces)
Dec. 6 Mercury (21° Sagittarius) square Saturn (21° Virgo)
Dec. 10 Sun (18° Sagittarius) square Uranus (18° Pisces)
Dec. 12 Mars (18° Sagittarius) square Uranus (18° Pisces)
Dec. 12 Full Moon.
Dec. 12 Mercury (0° Capricorn) conjunct Pluto (0° Capricorn)
Dec. 12 Sun (21° Sagittarius) square Saturn (21° Virgo)
Dec. 15 Mars (21° Sagittarius) square Saturn (21° Virgo)
Dec. 21 Sun enters Capricorn
Dec. 24 Mercury (19° Capricorn) sextile Uranus (19° Pisces)
Dec. 26 Mercury (21° Capricorn) trine Saturn (21° Virgo)

The energies of the aspects:
Conjunction – merging
Sextile – encouraging
Trine – harmonizing
Square – challenging

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Moon, October 28, 2008: The Fool's Choice

The Fool by Suzanne Sterling

Night and stars are falling down
A wild breeze is blowing.
Earth and moon are whirling round
The fool walks through the door.

The winds pick up this time of year, late October, in the upper Mississippi River valley. Oak trees become bare of leaves, twisting into gray sky. The veil between the worlds thins. The New Moon of October 28 comes right before the seasonal holy day of Samhain. This is the end of summer, growing, harvesting. During the season of Scorpio, we can feel the other side—where those who have gone before have gone.

This particular Samhain is a time to be aware that not only are wild breezes blowing but it also feels like the sky is falling. When the veil thins, we open to a place between the worlds where the Fool enters and chooses. The planets are conspiring to show us important choices at this time.
We are choosing the stories we want to animate all the time. But now, at this time, it feels like the choices are more important than ever. One expression of this is the upcoming election. But this is not the only world-creating choice that we are currently making. Each personal choice right now is also creating the world. At this New Moon, we can step back to see the major planetary influences to gain perspective—to know what our choices are about.

Saturn opposite Uranus. These planets are now in an opposing relationship. This current phase of their relationship began in 1988 when the two planets were conjunct. Conjunctions and oppositions, like the new Moon and full Moon phases, represent the primary pulse of life, coming together, pulling apart, coming back together, on and on. At a conjunction of planets, we get ready for their opposition; we need that perspective. At the opposition, we try to reintegrate and find the balance point between extremes—already needing to find conjunction again. The pulse pulls us along. This is where we grow.

What perspective did we need in 1988? What integration do we need now? The opposition of these two planets goes on until 2010. We have some time to figure it out.

There are interesting parallels between the conjunction of 1988 and the current opposition.
A major concern right now is the economy. In 1987 Oliver Stone’s movie, Wall Street, addressed corruption in the financial world. Black Monday, a world-wide stock market crash also occurred in that year. Today we are seeing a mirror of that time, making this a good time to reevaluate our money myths. With Jupiter in Capricorn for a few more months, and Pluto set to re-enter Capricorn this lunar cycle, it is a perfect time to compost old systems. The idea of lay-away is coming back. In some ways, it hasn’t been too hard to pull back from living outside our means. Collectively we are spending less. As the Fool walks through the door, how do we want to choose our new relationship to money?

Revolutions happening in the 80s are mirrored by the revolutions we see around us now. If we look at the headlines for 1988 and 1989, we see the same people and issues coming up. In 1988, Jesse Jackson ran for the nomination for president. He gained ground but did not win. The country was not ready for a black candidate. In 2008, Barrack Obama is poised to win the presidency. In ’88 Dukakis did win the nomination but lost against the first President Bush. Some say that Dukakis lost due to negative advertising. Obama is being hit hard with the same tactics and they aren’t working as well. In 1989, millions of people gathered in Tiananmen Square to protest the Chinese government. Recently, protest was stridently squelched by the Chinese during the Olympics. These are just some of the events that show the pulsation between these planets. Some show progress, others perhaps not.

The archetypes. Saturn is order. Uranus is chaos. If you are feeling strong imbalance in your life right now, it is because these two forces are at their extremes. However, within the opposition, within this season, integration is possible. The Fool has a lot in common with Uranus. This energy can be reckless; it certainly invites change. Saturn’s job is to impose limits and expectations. How are these two working in your life? Samhain is a good time to evaluate what will bring more balance and awareness into your life.

New Moon on October 28 is at 5° Scorpio. This Sun and Moon do not have any other aspects in the chart. They are in seclusion together. Perhaps this is an invitation for us to turn within, rest, and think. The Scorpio themes of death, composting, and seeking depth are appropriate for this month’s seclusion.

The chart shows the opposition between Uranus and Saturn in square to Venus. The date of the exact square to Venus is the day before the election. Perhaps the Venus archetype will provoke a readjustment along this opposition. Venus represents the economy, women, beauty, and harmony. In addition there is a strong Neptune in this chart. (Neptune is about to station direct; that always make a planet stronger.) Right before the election there will be a strong desire to believe in a common dream. Neptune represents the communal mindset, which involves our hopes as well as our illusions. We may be setting ourselves up for extreme disappointment. However, the desire to believe will be strong. Added to this theme is that on Election Day, Mars will be exactly square to the stationary Neptune. Mars in Scorpio wants to reveal what is taboo and hidden. This Mars has a direct line to power. Will deception be exposed? Will mass consciousness be manipulated? Perhaps the healing energy of Scorpio will at last compost a long-held illusion. This election will be fascinating.

After the election, a series of favorable aspects occur to the Saturn/Uranus opposition. This points to a feeling of euphoria about the possibility of integrating chaos and order. First the Sun will trine* Uranus and sextile** Saturn. Then, Jupiter sextiles Uranus. A few days later, Mercury trines Uranus and sextiles Saturn, and then Jupiter completes the series by forming a trine to Saturn. [See dates below.] In the middle of it all there is a Full Moon.

In the Full Moon chart for November 13, 2008, the opposition between the Sun and Moon is exactly square to Neptune. Since Full Moons illuminate and release energy. This one might reveal more about our collective dreams and illusions. The chart shows lots of sextiles and trines. In fact, there is almost a Grand Sextile formation. The missing area that would complete the pattern is between 18 to 21 degrees of Cancer. Anyone with a planet there has the opportunity to click into this pattern, which invites special talents and opportunities to arise.

Pluto re-enters Capricorn towards the end of the lunar month. It retrograded back into Sagittarius for the summer. I’ve written before about the significance of Pluto’s ingress into Capricorn. For years, astrologers have been predicting we would have crisis in our financial markets and a change in our expectations of authority and government. This transformation has only begun and we don’t have to fear it. In fact, as the wild breezes blow and the sky and stars seem to be falling, we have the ability to revitalize our relationships to these very things. Sometimes the Fool’s choice is to welcome the opportunities that arise from the experience of crisis. As the veil thins, what will you choose?

Important dates for our story:
Oct. 30 Mars (18° Scorpio) sextiles Saturn (18° Virgo)
Oct. 31 Mars (19°Scorpio) trines Uranus (19° Pisces)
Nov. 2 Neptune stations direct (21° Aquarius)
Nov. 3 Venus (18° Sagittarius) squares Saturn (18° Virgo) and Uranus (18° Pisces)
Nov. 4 Mars (21° Scorpio) squares Neptune (21° Aquarius)
Nov. 4 Saturn (18° Virgo) opposes Uranus (18°Pisces)
Nov. 10 Sun (18° Scorpio) trines Uranus (18° Pisces)
Nov. 11 Sun (19° Scorpio) sextiles Saturn (19° Virgo)
Nov. 12 Jupiter (18° Capricorn) sextiles Uranus (18° Pisces)
Nov. 13 Full Moon Sun (21°degrees Scorpio) opposes the Moon (21° Taurus)
Nov. 16 Mercury (18° Scorpio) trines Uranus (18° Pisces)
Nov. 16 Mercury (19° Scorpio) sextiles Saturn (19° Virgo)
Nov. 21 Jupiter (20° Capricorn) trines Saturn (20° Virgo)
Nov. 26 Pluto enters Capricorn

* the trine aspect is harmonious
** the sextile aspect is encouraging

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Moon, September 29, 2008: The force of balance

The last lunar cycle unleashed large forces. Those in the Twin Cities, where I live, experienced the alarming clash between dissidents and the police state. We saw Sarah Palin, an ultra right-wing hockey mom, being offered the job of vice president by McCain. We saw the financial market fail and the government very afraid of what that may mean for the status quo. All of these things have been present for quite a while, but this month the turning point was reached. What had been simmering, exploded. Uranus and Pluto are the archetypes of such change. Uranus is the revolutionary and Pluto is the transformer. Pluto’s action is to release pent up forces that have long been held back. Uranus provokes the sudden event, which creates a new point of view, a new freedom, a change.

Both of these planets are playing important roles in our current celestial story. And the story is far from finished. In January of this year, Pluto entered Capricorn, it stationed retrograde in April. Pluto traveled back into Sagittarius for a few months. Last month it stationed direct for the last time in Sagittarius and is making its way back into Capricorn at the end of November. Astrologers have been predicting for quite some time the kind of financial upheaval that we experienced this month. Capricorn rules such things as infrastructure, governments, and institutions upon which we rely for our survival. The financial markets qualify.

Uranus in emphasized now by the approaching series of oppositions between it and Saturn. It is also transiting important degrees in the U.S. chart (known as the Sibley Chart). Last month, I wrote about how Obama and McCain share 22 degrees Virgo. Obama’s Mars is at 22 Virgo. McCain’s Venus is 22 Virgo. In the U.S. chart, Neptune is also at 22 Virgo and Mars is square Neptune at 21 Gemini. All this coincidence, familiar to astrologers, is telling us something. Uranus transits call us to awaken. Now is a time of awakening. Now, we should be looking at the Neptune square Mars dynamic of our nation’s chart.

We are at a crossroads and these candidates are part of the choice. When I am at a crossroads, I like to invoke my allies. Who will help me see clearly? Who will help me choose wisely? What do I need to make my choice? Now is a time to call the allies to our aid. First, it may help to know better what we are encountering.

Neptune square Mars in our nation’s chart. Mars is the warrior; the military machine; the will, force and passion of our nation. Neptune acts upon these qualities by casting glamour upon our perceptions. When we go to war, we need a dream, however true or false, to fuel our commitment. Mars is the energy of moving forward directly to get what we want. Neptune chills that energy, creating confusion or hesitancy. Mars is the energy of the ego. For a nation, we can say that Mars is the energy of the collective will. Neptune represents the illusions that will deceive us in executing that will. And it also represents the desire to have our will aligned with the good of the whole. Not everything about this dynamic of our national chart is bad. It also represents our national ideals and a belief that personal sacrifice can be a worthy choice for a worthy cause. Neptune represents ideals and illusions. The coincidence of our two presidential candidates sharing the Neptune degree at the same time that Uranus is transiting this degree (happens every 84 years) is extraordinary. How do we awaken from illusion and recommit to new ideals? Which candidate is best for us? Why are we almost evenly split, as a nation, between these two choices? What are we being asked to learn?

Caroline Casey, on her brilliant radio show, reminds us to take our power and responsibility back. She suggests that we are not electing someone to save us. We are electing a story to animate. In other words: What do we want to believe in (Neptune)? How are we willing to act on behalf of that story no matter who is elected (Mars)? And who do we want to elect to better serve the story that we believe in?

Last month, I wrote how setting intention helps us to gain clarity and self-knowledge. Using the energy of the celestial allies, I court alliance with what is possible now. I want to set intention for awakening from illusion and reinvigorating the foundations of our culture so that there is more justice, more sustainability, and more earth wisdom in our actions. Uranus and Pluto are willing allies.

This New Moon is in Libra, the sign of the scales. It is important to investigate balance right now and seek to understand what balance means in our choices. Balance is the force of return, when a system is pushed too far in one direction, it corrects itself by pushing back in the other. A hurricane is a force of balance between hot and cold. Balance is a large force but it doesn’t have to be devastating. To live in balance means being able to correct easily, make fine adjustments, and respond to the needs of the moment. It means being mindful of where we are so that we can make those adjustments. Balance is consciousness, readiness, and trust in the force of correction. What goes up comes down. What is hidden is revealed. What is unfair is remedied. Balance is a force that conquers despair and hopelessness. We can choose balance.

The chart for the New Moon of September 29 shows Saturn opposite Uranus. This opposition will be exact on Election Day. There will be a series of 5 oppositions between these two planets ending in July 2010. The last time these two planets opposed each other (again in a series of 5) was from 1965 to 1967. Culture changed radically during this time. This transit is a classic showdown between the forces of Order (Saturn) and Chaos (Uranus). Both are necessary. What is the balance point between them? How do we choose to work with these energies? What are you noticing?

Mercury retrograde as ally for the crossroads. This Mercury is the trickster. He turned retrograde on September 24 and will turn direct on October 15. In the sign of Libra, Mercury can throw us off our equilibrium. If we invoke the awareness of Mercury retrograde—making changes in how we think and communicate and in what keeps us off balance and not mindful—then the trickster becomes a liberator. Do you dare to change your point of view? If so, then you have the right to invoke that change in consciousness in others. May Mercury reveal where we are stuck and the dead-end choices we have before us in this election. May it reveal the beliefs we want to animate and how to do so.

October 6th may be the peak of trickster energy during this cycle. On this day, the Sun and Jupiter join Mercury in his shenanigans.

At the Full Moon on October 14, Saturn and Uranus are in closer opposition. The Sun and Moon are, of course opposed as well, and they square Jupiter. This Jupiter in Capricorn may push another crisis into the forefront of our awareness. This becomes another reason to choose a state of balance over a state of panic.

As so much change is occurring around us and in our own lives, this lunar month is a good time to invoke balance.

May every living being
Open to the balancing forces of the Multiverse
May we choose wisely
With freedom, joy, and hope
The best course for our world.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Moon August 30, 2008: Clear Intentions

Intention. Is it possible that the secret to realizing our heart’s desires lies in formulating the correct intention? I practice earth-based spirituality. In fact, I’m a witch, so I also practice magic. Among my other witch friends, intention is the subject of many of our discussions around the practice of magic. I think the assumption is that if we can get clarity about intention and how we can support that intention, nothing will hold us back. I am not sure this is correct, but I have noticed that focusing on intention has helped me to be more clear about myself—my desires, my dreams, my hidden assumptions, and my blind spots. Somehow, that clarity seems to be important in the practice of magic.

Astrology is magical and it helps in the process of getting clarity for setting intention. This lunar month, what intention do you wish to manifest? The celestial allies are ready to play along with you, if you are willing to play with them.

This lunar cycle we will shift into another season: Fall here in the northern hemisphere. A momentary balance is struck. Venus is the ally of this balance and she enters her sign of balance, Libra, on the day of this new moon – August 30, 2008. In the chart for the New Moon, Mercury and Mars are joining Venus in Libra. There is a strong desire to be working for harmony and balance at this time. Relationships are the key. How can you create a balanced stance in your desires this month? These three planets stay close to each other most of this month. They are even closer at the full moon on September 15. Mars is the ally of action. Mercury the ally of communication and learning. Venus invites beauty. These forces can be powerful allies of intention. To invite them into your intention, a “price” must be paid. That price will be an agreement to live by the Libran values of harmony, beauty and balance.

The Virgo New Moon is conjunct Saturn in Virgo. [I wrote about Virgo in the July post—Finite Accomplishments.] The Sun, Moon and Saturn are allies of focus. There is strong potential this month to bring a great deal of focus to our intentions if we pay the Virgo “price:” be discerning, keep to a spiritual practice, and be pragmatic.

The Full Moon on September 15 illuminates our intentions. The Pisces Moon conjunct Uranus promises to surprise us in some way, and Pluto is squaring the Sun, Moon and Uranus. Pluto is the ally of deep transformation; Uranus brings vision and revolution. These planets of change will deepen our intentions, perhaps through a test. Pluto encourages us to be real. Uranus encourages us to be daring. How will you dare to really commit to your heart’s desire? Full moons promise to show us a way to integrate the opposing signs of the Sun and Moon. Opposite signs in the zodiac complete each other. Pisces represents Virgo’s missing piece—the reason we sacrifice through our service. This water sign fills our hearts and reminds us why we commit to working so hard on behalf of our intentions.

A political aside: The degrees of the Sun and Moon are important. They happen to be at 22 Virgo/Pisces, the same degree of McCain’s Venus and Obama’s Mars. [See last month’s post for more about how the presidential candidates share degrees.] As these degrees are being simultaneously transited, the two candidates seem to be morphing into one. If we want a true choice and a new direction for our nation, we may have to insist that these men differentiate themselves from each other.

Jupiter and Pluto change directions. [See June’s post about the retrograde planets of Summer.] At the new moon, two planets are stationary (about to change from retrograde motion to direct). Stationary planets are more potent. The first week of September, aspects between Jupiter and other planets increase Jupiter’s potency. Jupiter is the ally of belief, optimism, and the quest for truth. This planet also has a tendency to blow things out of proportion. Jupiter may prove to be the force that pulls us out of the Libra balance that Mars, Mercury and Venus want to contribute to the month. One thing for sure, far seeing Jupiter wants to shake up complacency. After a summer of mostly retrograde planets, Jupiter might kick things off with a bang and then see what happens. The moderating force here is that Jupiter is in the conservative sign, Capricorn. So, I expect that we will get more pushy around intentions involving professionalism, authority, status or infrastructure.

I love it when Pluto stations. Since this ally is the god of the underworld, during his stations, I am able to feel that world under my feet. Ancestral wisdom and deep power are available to us. Mercury retrograde.

The ultimate exemplar of retrograde motion, Mercury, is turning retrograde this month in Libra. All those lovely intentions to remain balanced and harmonious will be tested by the Trickster. The trickster makes sure that we aren’t trying to fool ourselves. He will help us in getting clear about our intentions if we sincerely want to be honest with ourselves.

Dates important to our story:
Sep. 3 Sun conjunct Saturn (11 degrees Virgo)

Sep. 3 Mercury enters retrograde shadow (7 degrees Libra)
Sep. 4 Sun trine Jupiter (12 degrees Virgo/ 12 degrees Capricorn)

Sep. 7 Mars square Jupiter (12 degrees Libra/ 12 degrees Capricorn)

Sep. 7 Mercury square Jupiter (12 degrees Libra/12 degrees Capricorn) (first time due to Mercury retrograde)

Sep. 8 Mercury conjunct Mars (13 degrees Libra) (first time due to Mercury retrograde)

Sep 8 Jupiter trine Saturn (12 degrees Capricorn/12 degrees Virgo)

Sep. 8 Pluto stations direct

Sep. 9 Venus square Jupiter (12 degrees Libra/12 degrees Capricorn)

Sep. 11 Venus conjunct Mars (15 degrees Libra)

Sep 22. Sun enters Libra – Fall Equinox

Sep. 23 Mercury conjunct Mars (22 degrees Libra) (2nd time due to retrograde)

Sep. 24 Mercury stations retrograde (22 degrees Libra)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Moon August 1, 2008: The Golden Light of Self

Where I live in the northern Mississippi River watershed, the light at this time of year is dramatic. It is golden. The seed heads of the tall grass drink in this light and reflect it back to us. Now the Sun’s light slants long as it descends toward the temporary balance of the Equinox. There is still enough summer to feel luxurious about this light but the deeper shadows living right next to whatever is illuminated remind me that before long, we will return to death’s season. All artists know that it is the shadows that make the light special. This lunar cycle is full of light and shadow. We will experience two eclipses this month. A solar eclipse at the New Moon on August 1 and a lunar eclipse at the Full Moon on August 16. During an eclipse, light gives way to shadow suddenly and then returns just as quickly. Eclipses set us upon new pathways. They have the potential to be quite dramatic.

Eclipses happen at the new and full Moons that occur near the nodes of the Moon. An excellent overview of the nodes by Rob Tillet can be found at
Eclipses elicit stories from the pair of signs that the nodes are in. Since December 2007, the north node has been traveling through Aquarius and the south node, which is always exactly opposite the north, has been traveling through Leo. As we are almost midway through the nodes transiting this pair of signs, we have an opportunity this month to deepen our understanding about what this celestial seasoning means to us. [Nodes remain in a pair of signs for 18 months.]

The dragon in the sky. Astrologers imagine the nodes as a dragon eating the light of the Sun during a solar eclipse and the light of the Moon during a lunar eclipse. The head of the dragon is the north node and the tail is the south. The August 1 solar eclipse happens at the tail of the dragon in Leo. Our last solar eclipse [February 6, 2008] occurred at the dragon’s head in Aquarius. The south node carries the energy of the past and represents attitudes that need to be rethought, cleared away, reformulated. As the light goes out and comes back this month, we can all explore the ways we want to reframe the energy of Leo in our lives.

Leo’s flame. Imagine knowing your self worth. Imagine being able to share your gifts with the world in perfect balance—being appreciated for who you are and what you have to give without needing to bolster a fragile ego by needing others’ approval. This is the pure potential of Leo, which we all have within us, and which I believe we all need to realize at this time of a Leo eclipse .

Hope and self worth. We live in a time when hope is fragile, when we long for change that can make a difference, and perhaps when we wonder if our individual gifts could make any difference. A deflated ego says, I can’t make a difference and an inflated ego says, a better world is up to me only. Both states of ego get in the way of the possibility of being the change we want to be. Where Leo can get stuck is in one or both of these expressions of ego. As the light goes out and comes back at this new Moon, we have the opportunity to transform our ego patterns. Sometimes we can choose this path consciously, and sometimes the universe makes the shift for us. Eclipses are like that. This month, will you make a shift in how you value yourself? Can you imagine how this might change the world?

Speaking of changing the world. We are in an election year. Our two major candidates, McCain and Obama, share remarkable astrological signatures. These signatures are relevant to this month’s transits.

Both candidates share planets at the same degree of Leo. Obama’s Sun is at 12 Leo and McCain’s Mars is also at 12 Leo. This month’s eclipse is at 9 Leo. I usually do not consider a 3 degree orb [the difference between 9 and 12] to be applicable to an eclipse transit, however there is too much coincidence here to ignore. Something is up. Both of these candidates are experiencing this eclipse.

These aren’t the only degrees shared by these men. Other points are:
6 Virgo – McCain’s Sun and Obama’s Pluto
22 Virgo – McCain’s Venus and Obama’s Mars

This is interesting and I have no idea what it means. But I suspect we will find out, and perhaps this month. Why? As I write this, Saturn is at 6 Virgo and later this month, on August 6, Mars and Uranus will oppose each other at 22 Virgo.

The coincidences continue. I am most fascinated by the fact that in the U.S. birth chart [the Sibley chart], Neptune is also at 22 Virgo squaring Mars at 21 Gemini. Something important is happening in our nation’s history and destiny with the candidacy of these two men. The current transit of Uranus in Pisces and Saturn in Virgo are poised to expose what this is.

The square of Neptune to Mars in the U.S. chart signifies our national attitudes and experience with war, will, and leadership. We often engage in these energies under the illusions of Neptune. We fantasize that willful action can solve our problems. And sometimes our greatest dreams do spur us to action that is positive. But obviously, we have a lot to learn about using our muscles to solve our problems. Neptune makes sure we stay on the course of surrendering the old forms in order to evolve. The potential to do away with the mistakes of the past is very strong right now. The question is, what we will replace it with? Will the winner of this election be able to create the change we need? Who must we rely on to create the world we want to live in? Saturn moving through this pattern says, wake up to your own responsibility. Uranus traveling through this pattern says, the time to change is now. Back to the eclipse: Leo says, how will you change your self-perceptions to make way for authentic participation in this grand story?

August 1 is not only the new moon, but it is also the cross-quarter holy day of Lughnasad—the time to honor our first harvests and pray that the fall’s harvest will be bountiful. The Sun is our ally of the harvest. We are also Suns. We are the allies of the future’s harvest. This is a potent time to claim our own Sun’s energy.

The full Moon on August 16 is a lunar eclipse at 24 Leo/Aquarius. This is the time to realize what energy Aquarius contributes to recovering the wholeness of self. Aquarius is the collective and it is the impulse to embrace the future. An individual can change the world but we also need to work in groups to manifest our future. The give and take between these two signs creates something greater than the sum of its parts. At this full Moon, we might reach a breaking point or crisis in the balance between these two signs. Mars square to Pluto in this chart signifies possible eruptions. Pluto’s job is to release the shadow. As the light goes out of this full Moon, look within the shadows to claim your power.

Transits of interest this month:
August 5 – Venus enters Virgo [The goddess of beauty enters the golden fields of Virgo.]
August 6 – Mars (22 Virgo) opposite Uranus (22 Pisces) [Pay attention to will and the desire to change.]
August 6 – Mercury (23 Leo) opposite Neptune (23 Aquarius) [Messenger god meets the oceanic god of illusion and dream.]
August 13 – Venus (9 Virgo) conjunct Saturn [Love and responsibility merge.]
August 15 – Mercury (9 Virgo) conjunct Saturn [Communication about wholeness.]
August 17 – Mars (28 Virgo) square Pluto (28 Sagittarius) [Release of shadow, what is hidden?]
August 21 – Mercury (19 Virgo) conjunct Venus [The hermaphrodite. Alchemic merging of Mercury and Venus.]
August 23 – Mercury (21 Virgo) opposite Uranus (21 Pisces) [New ideas, revolutionary thoughts]
August 23 – Venus (21 Virgo) opposite Uranus (21 Pisces) [New partnerships and pairings, revolutionary relationships]
August 27 – Mercury (28 Virgo) square Pluto (28 Sagittarius) [Expressing what we have learned from the dark.]
August 29 – Venus (28 Virgo) square Pluto (28 Sagittarius) [Finding beauty there.]

Monday, June 30, 2008

New Moon, July 2, 2008 Finite Accomplishments

I’ve been paying attention to my own perfectionism lately. This is no doubt influenced by Saturn’s transit of Virgo (begun Sept. 2007, lasting till Jul. 2010). Saturn is about buckling under and doing the work. Virgo is how to do it better. When Saturn entered Virgo, I knew this would be an issue. Saturn’s job is to make sure we get to the very bottom of each sign—it’s gifts and its warts. And Saturn doesn’t mind giving us the warts until we decide we’ve had enough. Have you had enough of your own perfectionism yet?

Planets ebb and flow through the signs. When they are moving direct, it is like the tide coming in—new nutrients flood the tidal pool. When they station retrograde the tide turns, flowing back out, changing the habitat. Since entering Virgo, Saturn has already had the first turning of the tide when it turned retrograde in December 2007 at 8 degrees Virgo. Saturn traveled all the way back to 1 degree Virgo in May when the tide turned again. It is now moving direct, the only outer planet to be moving direct this summer. Virgo, warts and all, is returning with a force.

As the tide of the other planets retreat, only Saturn is bringing in fresh nutrients to the tidal pool. It is an excellent opportunity to pay attention to the invitation to ponder all Virgo traits, including perfectionism.

This lunar month begins with the New Moon in Cancer, the Crab—appropriate for all these tidal pool images. Cancer is the fertile womb, the nurturer, the pool teeming with life and providing more life for others. This creative energy of possible abundance is meeting the finicky Virgo energy of process and perfection. This can be a really good thing if we can let go of perfection and use Virgo to take the next step and the next step and the next, in whatever we are nurturing this season. The gift of Virgo is the ability to focus on process rather than outcome. At times, we need to use this gift of near-sightedness when the dreamed of outcome seems too daunting.

New Moons are excellent times to set intention. In the New Moon chart, Mars is at 0 degrees Virgo, conjunct Saturn at 4 degrees Virgo. These planets come together every two years to initiate another cycle of acting within ambition and boundary. Jupiter in Capricorn opposite Venus in Cancer also highlights ambition in this chart. Venus is calling Jupiter back to the tidal pool of feeling, caring, accommodating others. Jupiter entered the sign of Capricorn in December 2007. It leaves this sign in January 2009. This energy has encouraged long-range planning. Getting down to business. Professional goals. Jupiter, in his expansiveness, can lose track of balancing energies. Cancer pulls back on Capricorn, telling us to remember the soul in our ambitions. The Sun and Moon at 11 degrees Cancer is acting within this opposition as well.

At this New Moon, Mercury is nearing the end of its entire retrograde cycle. Back in May, Mercury stationed retrograde at 21 degrees Gemini, square to Uranus at 22 degrees Pisces. In this chart, Mercury has reached 20 degrees Gemini again, about to exactly square Uranus, which is still stationary at 22 degrees Pisces. When these two planets are in dynamic relationship, we can expect both brilliance and disruption. How has this Mercury retrograde cycle influenced you? Think back over your experiences with thought and communication over the past month. Can you apply these lessons to any intention you set this month?

The Full Moon is a time for illumination. On July 18, the Full Moon chart shows that the conjunction between Mars and Saturn is separating. This new cycle of form and action has begun. Also at this time another planet opposes Jupiter. This time it is Mercury in Cancer. The first two weeks of this lunar cycle were about finding the balance between Cancer and Capricorn. This Full Moon illuminates that balance. Has anything happened in your life to force that issue? Or have you been able to gracefully welcome back the feeling tone of Cancer into your life? Mercury’s job is to give those lessons expression. Perhaps the best way to do this is tell someone else how much they mean to you.

Dates important to the stories of this month:

July 5 Mercury square Uranus (completion of retrograde cycle)
July 9 Sun opposite Jupiter (illuminating the balance between Capricorn and Cancer)
Jul 10 Mars conjunct Saturn (new action in the Virgo realm) and Mercury enters Cancer (heart-based communication)
July 14 Mercury sextile Saturn (opportunities to communicate from the heart)
July 19 Mercury opposite Jupiter (communication balances ambition and authority)
July 26 Mars trines Jupiter (reinvigorating those ambitions and goals with grounded action)

Other dates of note:

July 6 Mercury trine Neptune (inspiration) and Venus trine Uranus (innovation)
July 10 Mercury opposite Pluto (revelation)
July 12 Venus enters Leo (attracting creativity)
July 22 Sun enters Leo (fill with solar life) and Mercury trines Uranus (harmonious flow of though and innovation)
July 31 Venus opposite Neptune (inviting a balance between selfless service and ego)

The heart of Cancer and the process of Virgo are allies this month for reconnection and balance. This poem by Sri Chinmoy reminds us to let go of grandiose outcome.

On Finite Accomplishment

When he stands
On the stage of finite accomplishments

He feels happy,

Not because he has

At least done something,

But because this is what

His God wants him to accomplish.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

New Moon June 3, 2008 Gemini's Spring Flowers

Gemini is the time of pollinating, connecting, and learning. This New Moon is an opportunity to surrender to all things Gemini. Even though we may feel that we have a lot to accomplish, the message from the stars is to enjoy the garden and allow serendipity to guide us. The New Moon chart shows a brilliant cluster of planets in Gemini. Of course, the Sun and Moon are together as they are at every New Moon and they are humming amidst a tight embrace of Venus on one side and the lord of Gemini himself, Mercury, on the other. We are being treated to a retrograde Mercury as well. Gemini is a youthful sign. Puck, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a good Geminian character, flitting about within the drama—observing, laughing, and stirring up more trouble. This Mercury is like that. The mischief deepens as retrograde Mercury is squaring another type of trickster: Uranus. With Uranus the Awakener involved in this lunar cycle, we may just experience the kind of tricking that can awaken us from illusion and set our steps upon a new path of authenticity.

See last month for the important dates of this journey of Mercury retrograde.

Retrograde planets are an important signature of this month and the summer season. The retrograde energy emphasizes fine-tuning and turning within. At the New Moon, not only is Mercury retrograde but Pluto, Neptune, Chiron and Jupiter are as well. Later this month, Uranus will join the list of retrograde planets. During retrograde, planets are revisiting territory in the zodiac. When the planets are moving direct into new territory in the zodiac, we tend to respond by moving into new territory ourselves. When the planets are returning to places they have recently visited, we too can slow down and root ourselves. This slowing-down impetus is in contrast to the Gemini impulse of speeding up and flying about. This should set up an interesting push-pull dynamic that may create frustration or confusion. My intention is to notice when I can let of moving forward and let myself instead be moved by the present moment.

At the Full Moon on June 18, Mercury is still retrograde (but stations direct the next day) and the Sun and Moon are aligned with Pluto, which is returning for his last transit into Sagittarius. Pluto uncovers shadow, regurgitates dysfunction, and revitalizes life force. Since 1995 Pluto has been moving through Sagittarius, uncovering all types of fundamentalism, fear of foreigners, and small-minded belief systems. What else have you learned from Pluto? These last few months of Pluto moving through Sagittarius are an opportunity to reclaim Pluto power in these realms. Pluto will enter Capricorn for a nice long spell on November 26, in time for getting to work on the new realities of the 21st century. This Full Moon should illuminate Pluto themes.

The Summer Solstice begins on June 20 when the Sun enters Cancer—a sign of home and nurturing. With all the retrograde energy, this summer may be a good time to stay home and reorient ourselves to the coming new world.

A major configuration of the Solstice chart is a grouping of planets called a Boomerang Yod. The Yod is a triangle involving two quincunx aspects and a sextile aspect that forms a triangle. The apex planet of the Yod receives a lot of pressure. The Boomerang is an opposition between the apex planet and one or more planets.

The apex of this Yod is Mars in Leo conjunct the South Node opposing a cluster of energy in Aquarius: Neptune, Chiron and the North Node. The nodes of the Moon describe karmic lessons (South Node) and evolution (North Node). This dynamic of the Summer points to evaluating our experiences with leadership, self-worth, and our need for affirmation so that we can evolve towards a more global viewpoint that is not so personally oriented. This evolution may encounter hidden areas that need healing—another reason that we may learn a lot this Summer by slowing down and nurturing ourselves and our loved ones so that we can respond to our global needs in the Fall.

The sextile portion of this Yod is a harmonious relationship between Uranus and a conjunction of Moon/Jupiter. This energy speaks to an alignment of the conservative energy of Capricorn working with our ability to use intuition for change in the world. We are asked to get real and dream big at the same time. If there ever was a time for this to be possible it is now.

In spite of the obvious and dire-seeming changes in store for us as we address global issues in the future, this month of Puckish Gemini reminds us to find allies in the unexpected, to slow down enough to enjoy the garden, and believe in our essential worth. This poem by Hafiz describes the power of Gemini.

Spring and all its flowers by Hafiz

Spring and all its flowers

now joyously break their vow of silence.

It is time for celebration, not for lying low;

You too—weed out those roots of sadness from your heart.

The Sabaa wind arrives;
and in deep resonance, the flower

passionately rips open its garments,

thrusting itself from itself.

The Way of Truth, learn from the clarity of water.
Learn freedom from the spreading grass.

Pay close attention to the artistry of the Sabaa wind,
that wafts in pollen from afar,

And ripples the beautiful tresses
f the fields of hyacinth flowers.

From the privacy of the harem, the virgin bud slips out,
revealing herself under the morning star,

branding your heart and your faith

with beauty.

And frenzied bulbul flies madly out of the House of Sadness
to unite with the flowers;

its love-crazed cry like a thousand-trumpet blast.

Hafez says, and the experienced old ones concur:

All you really need
is to tell those Stories

of the Fair Ones and the Goblet of Wine.

There is more true work in smelling the flowers than we usually acknowledge. May this season bless this work.

Dates important to these stories of this month, notice what happens, align your choices with your intentions:
June 7 Sun conjunct Mercury and Mercury conjunct Venus (communication)
June 8 Sun conjunct Venus (beauty)
June 12 Sun and Venus square to Uranus (beauty, illumination and change)
June 13 Pluto re-enters Sagittarius (summing up the lessons)
June 15 Mars opposite Chiron (Yod story)
June 18 Full Moon
June 19 Mercury stations direct (communication)
June 20 Sun opposite Pluto (illumination of power and transformation)
June 21 Mars opposite Neptune (Yod story)
June 26 Uranus stations retrograde (expect the unexpected)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

New Moon May 5, 2008 Beltane’s Invitation: Honoring Earth and Beauty

In Minnesota, the weather has had a hard time turning to spring. Snowflakes fell here last week and are predicted tonight as I write this. Even though the lingering cold is somewhat tedious, I am glad that this spring is more normal—more like what it is supposed to be like in April and early May in Minnesota. I know how to relate to this slowly awakening earth, the rhythmic rising and falling of sweet sap, the brave ephemerals blooming under frost, and the glorious, warm sunshine when it does appear. In spite of a beautiful, slow-blooming spring, we still know not all is right with our Earth and our relationship to nature. As inspired astrologer, Caroline Casey, likes to say, the situation is dire.

Astrologers have been noticing the effects of outer planets in the earth signs. Pluto in Capricorn has manifested as the housing/oil prices crisis. The old way of doing business, a Capricorn issue, needs to change. Jupiter in Capricorn is helping with the global transition into dealing with difficult Capricorn issues. Saturn in Virgo has manifested as increased attention on how we can make a difference in our Earth crisis. In the April 20 edition of the New York Times Magazine, Michael Pollan, author of the Ominvore’s Dilemma, wrote a wonderful article about how small individual efforts to change the world just might make a difference. The title of the article is, Why Bother? Saturn encourages slow and steady work. Virgo says pay attention to every detail, every connection, to achieve health and wholeness.
The third earth sign, Taurus, has been dormant until this spring. Now we can add an important ingredient to our earth stew. Taurus contributes the force of beauty, attention to what our bodies need, and an invitation to explore our relationship to true abundance.

This May New Moon occurs exactly midway into Taurus, a fixed sign. The midpoints of the fixed signs, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius, are powerful points in the turning of the year’s wheel. Pagans celebrate the cross-quarter sabbaths at these times. Although May 1st is the customary day on which Beltane is celebrated, the astrological Beltane happens when the Sun reaches 15 degrees of Taurus, around May 5th each year. This year, the Moon joins the Sun on this day heightening Beltane’s power to invoke the renewing power of the good green earth. This year, Beltane’s invitation to honor the earth and all beauty within and around us is in effect for the whole lunar cycle. The pattern for working with the Moon is to set intention at the new phase. As the Moon waxes during the first two weeks we take action on behalf of those intentions. At the full phase, we receive the illuminating light of our efforts. During the waning part of the Moon cycle, we share wisdom and begin to surrender form into compost. All dreams and efforts on behalf of those dreams make rich humus for the future.

The charts for the New and Full Moon and some of the transits during this month illuminate the Beltane invitation

There is a grand earth trine in the chart for the New Moon. A grand trine represents harmonious power if we tap the resource. We have to consciously choose to engage the energy of a grand trine. In this earth trine, Saturn ,the god of manifestation and form, Pluto, the god of transformation, and Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, are representing this power. Although Pluto and Saturn remain in their earth domains, with Pluto taking a short hike back into Sagittarius this summer, for a significant time into the future, these two planets will only remain in this trine relationship for this month. And Venus moves quickly, she will leave Taurus on May 24. This is a good month to invoke and practice earth wisdom.

Venus rules Taurus. As part of my earth practice this month, I will be paying extra attention to the following Venus transits.

May 17 thru May 20 is a particularly potent Venus time.

May 17 Venus is square to Chiron. Noticing the wounds around relationship with beauty, Chiron invites us to become the healer and teacher.

May 18 Venus is sextile to Uranus. The opportunity to engage our revolutionary spirits in the cause of beauty.

May 19 Full Moon. Illumination in the last degree of Taurus. The balance of death (Moon in Scorpio) with rebirth (Sun in Taurus). At the Full Moon, Venus is near the Sun and is square to Neptune. Venus’ potential in this chart is to integrate the polarity of Taurus and Scorpio. Looking with clear eyes at our fears and our authentic needs for survival, we can ask, What do we really need? Neptune’s role is to show us how we escape into the nearest shiny thing, without thought of impact or authentic desire. What does authentic desire mean to you? Is it something found on TV? Is there a place in nature that teaches you how to be authentic to your own desires? What small action will you take to reconnect with the Earth? How will you let beauty lead you into soul redemption? These are some of the questions I hold this lunar month. At the Full Moon, may there be progress in my soul to claim my birthright of beauty, balance and delight, as my friend Donald Engstrom prays daily.

May 20 Exact square between Venus and Neptune. Illusion is a teacher; dream is a teacher also. How are you being taught by your illusions and dreams? Neptune brings awareness of longing, grief, and transcendence. How do you honor all these feelings?

Venus leaves Taurus on May 24 and enters air sign Gemini. Awareness moves from body to mind. Now Venus challenges and is challenged by transformative Pluto and responsible Saturn.

May 25 Venus is quincunx to Pluto. She stretches to find a way to align thought with necessary regeneration.

May 26 Venus is square to Saturn. Venus challenges us to think and communicate about action and service (Saturn in Virgo) to our beloveds. Venus’ natural mode of operation— to inspire and invite— is challenged by Saturn’s practicality. What is the disconnect you feel around desire and action on behalf of those desires? Saturn is here to teach that lesson.

There are other astrological themes this month, which contribute to the celestial seasoning of now.

May 26 Mercury turns retrograde at 21 degrees Gemini. On May 11, Mercury enters the foreshadowing phase of this retrograde period. Mercury remains retrograde until June 11 (stations direct at 12 degrees Gemini). Mercury leaves the entire retrograde zone of the zodiac on July 4. Mercury, the trickster God, rules Gemini. This particular retrograde cycle should be interesting, especially in the arena of politics. Clinton has a natal retrograde Mercury in her chart and Obama’s Moon is at 0 degrees Gemini. The candidates are going to feel the trickster who will be asking us all to rethink, re-express, and think quickly in response to rapidly changing circumstances.

May 26 another planet turns retrograde—Neptune—at 24 degrees Aquarius. Every planet becomes stronger when it stations retrograde or direct. Along with Mercury stationing on the same day, this should be a time of strong intuition and uncanny insight and perhaps not such a good time for logical thought processes.

Wendell Berry
In this season of Taurus and of earth, I’ve been reading Wendell Berry poems because of his deep love of nature and how he grapples with human impact on nature. When despair threatens to overcome possibility, his solution:

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

May the blessings of the good green earth be with you this season.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Moon April 5, 2008: Breaking Ice

At the Aries New Moon, it is time to wake up from winter’s rest, time to shed layers, time to get out and move. In honor of that energy, this new moon forecast comes a little early and will be a little shorter. I am traveling to Rome and Florence over the next two weeks. I will be looking for of Spring.

The New Moon, at 16 degrees Aries, squares an opposition of Mars in Cancer and Jupiter in Capricorn. Jupiter for now is wearing the conservative garments of Capricorn. Capricorn and Cancer have been the predominant energy of the winter. Along with “pay attention to me” Jupiter, Pluto has contributed his bass tone to Capricorn as well. The chickens come home to roost in Capricorn. We ask ourselves, “How are we responsible?” “How can we assure success?” To this serious tone, Mars in Cancer has been contributing the emotional response: “I must take care of my own.” Mars’ retrograde journey through Cancer has heightened our emotional awareness of the problems facing us. Two signs in opposition (which Capricorn and Cancer are) can feel like a stalemate. With the spring, cardinal fire sign Aries enters to stir things up.

Like an ice dam in the river, things felt to be stuck for a while are going to start moving. I welcome this. And at the same time, it is helpful to pay attention to where we’d like to direct this energy. Can we use it to solve problems or gain insight?

To the inpatient energy of Aries is added a substantial amount of earth this month. If you work with elemental energy, can you imagine how you would like to use this potent combination of fire and earth? The Full Moon chart for April 20 has a grand earth trine (planets in all the earth signs are in harmonious relationship to each other). The Sun, at 0 degrees Taurus trines Saturn at 1 degree Virgo, which trines Pluto at 1 degree Capricorn. Grand trines can be lost opportunities if we don’t consciously engage the energy. The Moon at 0 degrees Scorpio (opposite the Sun) provides a doorway into the earth trine. This Moon is the doorway to soul and an invitation to not turn our eyes from unpleasant feelings or situations. Scorpio and death are close friends. Death can be a teacher, an ally. Death teaches us what is really important, what is essential to each of us. If you knew your essence, how could you use the manifesting energy of earth to live that essence?

Beltane (May 1) is the cross quarter Sabbath that celebrates fertility, spring renewal and the joy of life. Another grand earth trine emerges on Beltane, this time involving Venus in Taurus at 0 degrees, Pluto in Capricorn at 0 degrees and Saturn in Virgo at 1 degree. And Saturn is very strong at this time as it will turn direct on May 2. Venus is the May Queen in Taurus. She celebrates the body and all life’s pleasure. Saturn in Virgo has been teaching us to bring healing order back to the world. Pluto has been showing us the shadow of authority in preparation for his challenge to us to take back the authority we have given away. Body, healing and revolution. One revolutionary act is to live in beauty and to not let any external authority tell us how to do that. Dance around the May pole with that kind of exuberance.

Clinton and Obama
The Democratic contest for the presidential nomination is one major event unfolding before us. The Pennsylvania primary (April 22) happens right after the potent Full Moon. Pay attention to how this Full Moon impacts Clinton and Obama. The Full Moon is conjunct Hillary’s Sun (2 degrees Scorpio) and squares Barrack’s Jupiter (0 degrees Aquarius) and Mercury (1 degree Leo). The energy of this time will reflect on who Clinton is, and will reflect on how Obama communicates his beliefs. The voters of Pennsylvania will decide based on these things. It should be fascinating and like all Full Moons, illuminating.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

New Moon March 7, 2008: Rumi’s Ravings

The New Moon in Pisces inspires me to turn to the poems of Rumi. I know no other poet who captures the mystic cravings of Pisces better than Rumi. Looking through The Essential Rumi this morning, I noticed some advice. In fact, Rumi is full of advice, flooding over with advice, he expounds constantly on how we should live our lives. If he didn’t so wonderfully exhort me to follow Beauty at all times, I might not be so inclined to listen to such a poet. But he does. And every time, I fall in love.

Here is the lunatic advice I heard this morning.
Fall into the Ocean.
Become the Lover.
Break the Wine Glass.
Grieve the lost Friend.
Take care of the Donkey.

Good advice. It occurs to me that this lunar month, we might do well to follow this advice.

First, Fall into the Ocean. The Ocean is the New Moon in Pisces that occurs on March 7, 2008. Uranus is conjunct this Sun and Moon. Jupiter sextiles the trio. How expansive! During the season of Pisces, the weather doesn’t know whether to freeze or thaw. We are trying to wake from out winter’s sleep, but aren’t quite there yet. We are groggy. We think we might have to try harder, but then perhaps what we really need to do is just fall into the ocean of being and dreaming—where dreaming is awakening and awakening is dreaming. Uranus itches for a change, but not a change we have experienced before, not the same old change. What if we simply fell back into the ocean? What beauty arises?

Later in the month, the Uranus in Pisces desire for oceanic change will deepen when Mercury, Venus and Jupiter come together with Uranus in a dance of connection, beauty, and possibility.

The dates for this:

March 27 - Mercury (19 Pisces) is sextile to Jupiter (19 Capricorn) and Mercury also is conjunct Uranus (19 Pisces).

March 28 - Venus (19 Pisces) is sextile to Jupiter (19 Capricorn) and Venus is conjunct Uranus (19 Pisces). Jupiter and Uranus are sextile to each other.

Become the Lover. Mars is the Lover. And he has been on a journey. Read my description of the Mars retrograde journey here and here. For Rumi, the Lover is the mystic, the poet so in love with God, that he will do anything to reunite with the divine. Rumi advises us to be so in love with our dreams that we will never stop pursuing them, though this in not always so easy to do. During the Mars retrograde journey we may have lost our way, the beloved may have been hidden from us, or we may have lost faith in that dream. Rumi would say, this is all a way for the Beloved to become even more lovely to us.

The bulk of Mars’ retrograde journey has been in the water sign, Cancer. During the last few months, have you encountered sea monsters which have kept you from your beloved? Has the ocean of feeling threatened to overwhelm? Now is the time for resolution and healing. The Lover is returning through the final degrees of his Cancer journey this lunar month. And he is meeting a strong challenger, Pluto.

In fact, the story of the Lover merges with the other piece of advice that Rumi has for us: Break the Wine Glass. Pluto’s mission is transformation – the destruction of old form – so that life renews. The Wine Glass holds our ecstatic connection to Mystery and it also holds all the illusions that we hold onto that substitute for Mystery. What old forms need to die? Do we dare to break the glass in order to be refilled with the true wine? Pluto challenges us to transform anything that we hold onto because of our fears.

Pluto is big right now. The planet entered Capricorn in January and at this New Moon, Mars, the Lover, opposes the glass breaker, Pluto. Perhaps the heart breaks. Perhaps the glass becomes bigger, able to hold more.

Important dates for the Mars/Pluto stories are:

March 7 - Mars (0 Cancer) opposes Pluto (0 Capricorn)

The day after the Spring Equinox on March 20, Sun (1 Aries) is square to Pluto (1 Capricorn). In the chart for the equinox, a chart that will influence the entire spring season, Mars, Pluto and the Sun form a T-square aspect configuration. The spring begins with a breaking of glasses and a promise of rebirth.

Full Moon of March 21 - There is a Grand Cardinal Cross at the Full Moon. The Sun (1 Aries) opposes the Moon (1 Libra), which is squared to Mars (6 Cancer) opposing Pluto (1 Capricorn). A Cardinal Cross is like a crossroads for the cardinal signs – Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn – all initiators, all problem solvers. The problems are many. Now is a time for choosing. Ripe with life lesson, perhaps Mars is the guide to follow. Where does Mars in Cancer, the compassionate warrior, tell you to go?

March 30 - The Sun (9 Aries) is square to Mars (9 Cancer), illuminating the hero/lover’s journey that is almost complete.

April 2 - Pluto stations retrograde. This is a potent time for Pluto energy. Feel the transformative energy coming through the springtime earth.

April 4 - Mars returns to the stationary degree (12 Cancer) where it turned retrograde in November. The journey is over.

Grieve the lost Friend. The Friend is the guide or spiritual teacher who initiates us and then abandons us. The feeling of abandonment and grief belong to the planet Neptune, the ruler of Pisces. Much of Rumi’s poetry is the language of exquisite longing. His poems teach that grief for abandoned dreams, loves lost, failed endeavors is the way we get back to those dreams, loves, and goals. At this New Moon, Neptune stands with Venus, Mercury and Chiron. Is there a lost friend to grieve in your life? Venus as muse, Mercury as communicator and Chiron as shaman may be your guides to expressing and understanding that grief this month.

Take care of the Donkey. You’ve got to love a mystic who tells us to take care of our donkeys —the animal bodies which carry our divine spirits. Too much watery Pisces and we forget that we even have bodies. The opposite sign, Virgo, reminds us that we do. Saturn in Virgo balances Pisces this month. Rumi would say that if we neglect our bodies, we do not deserve the ecstasy of our spiritual trances. If we can not tend the physical gift of our animal natures, we will not be able to sustain the oceanic feeling of transcendence. To honor Saturn, I invoke the patience needed to tend my physical needs.

Saturn’s energy is enhanced at these times:

March 14 Mars (3 Cancer) is sextile to Saturn (3 Virgo)

March 15 Venus (3 Pisces) opposes Saturn (3 Virgo)

March 17 Mercury (3 Pisces) opposes Saturn (3 Virgo)

I honor Pisces this month. I honor the transition from winter to spring.

Rumi has written (translated by Coleman Barks):

So the sea-journey goes on, and who knows where!
Just to be held by the ocean is the best luck
we could have. It’s a total waking up!

Why should we grieve that we’ve been sleeping?
It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been unconscious.

We’re groggy, but let the guilt go.
Feel the motions of tenderness
around you, the buoyancy.

New Moon March 7, 2008: Rumi’s Ravings written by Teri Parsley Starnes

Monday, February 4, 2008

New Moon February 6, 2008: The Season of Eclipses

In telling the story of the moment, every astrologer filters her perception through the lens of her chart. Every astrologer begins where his chart begins. I am no different. I am noticing that this New Moon Solar Eclipse at 17 degrees Aquarius occurs one degree away from my natal Moon at 16 degrees Aquarius. The Moon is personal energy, emotional energy, I feel poised for change and wonder from which direction it will come.

Eclipses are times when the light goes out – suddenly – in contrast to the normal rhythm or pace of things. The light goes out and then it comes back – quickly. When any eclipse occurs, I prepare myself for change. When an eclipse occurs conjunct a natal planet, I prepare myself for a major shift in how I see myself and the path I am taking in this life. It is very difficult to predict whether one will experience an eclipse positively or traumatically. And it is hard to tell myself or anyone else, that even though it is scary to be plunged into the darkness of an eclipse, the light does return. The sudden return of light, which I compare to rebooting a computer, is the defining energy of an eclipse, not the darkness. Where does the new light shine? What new paths open up? Where do I go from here?

Bernadette Brady has written a brilliant book on predicting the nature of each eclipse in her book: The Eagle and the Lark. She writes: “One of the difficulties when reckoning with eclipses is that they appear to be very inconsistent in their expression.” Brady researched the nature of each eclipse though exploring the eclipse families. [Every eclipse belongs to a family of eclipses known as a Saros cycle. There are 19 - 21 families. This month’s Solar Eclipse belongs to the 10 North Saros cycle. See her book if you want to know more about Saros cycles. ] Brady created a birth chart for every eclipse family, and she delineated each of those birth charts. For the eclipse occurring on February 6, she noted: “There is a strong emphasis on communication and, at the same time, frustrating or inhibiting events may come into the person’s life via news, paperwork or a young person. The person may feel tired and drained, and this is therefore a good time to take things quietly and work through the difficulties one at a time.”

If 16 to 18 degrees Aquarius is significant in your chart, then that advice may be particularly helpful for you.

Communication and community are major themes for this lunation. Aquarius is the sign of community and communal processes, like elections, like communal agreements, like ways that a group makes decisions. Aquarius is also the energy of change, revolution, and the future.

Super Tuesday, the day that the two major parties are supposed to know through their primaries and caucuses who their next candidate for president will be, will happen the day before the Solar Eclipse during a time when Mercury (god of communication) is retrograde and Pluto, newly in Capricorn, is opposing Mars at its stationary degree of 24 Gemini. This energy is interesting, and very unpredictable.

Of the four major candidates, Clinton, Obama, Romney, and McCain, only Hillary Clinton has a planet within the degrees of this eclipse. Her Venus is at 16 degrees Scorpio squared to Aquarius. Interestingly, Obama’s Venus is being impacted by the Pluto ingress into Capricorn. His Venus is at 1 degree Cancer opposed by transiting Pluto. (Source of chart information is from The Mountain Astrologer Dec/Jan 2008). Venus describes our attractiveness. Both of these candidates are transforming in this area of their lives — unpredictably (eclipse) for Clinton and powerfully (Pluto) for Obama.

Every community needs clear communication. Mercury (16 degrees Aquarius) is retrograde at the time of this New Moon. This will be a good month to rethink our communication methods in our communities. Chiron, the Wounded Healer, is next to Mercury at 15 degrees Aquarius. Do you carry wounds from past experiences with community? Most of us do. We have the opportunity to offer our wounds to the altar of healing, to make choices that bring compassion as well as fairness into our communities. As this lunation strikes close to home for me, I am noticing that I want to change old patterns around my relationship to my communities.

Eclipses happen around the Nodes of the Moon. The North Node is now in Aquarius and the South Node is in Leo. The growing edge (North Node) supports any work we do around community and authenticity. Right now, our karmic baggage comes from Leo (South Node). Questions about our self worth, — how our communities need us — are important to explore in order to be free of this baggage that keeps us from our authentic roles in community.
Pluto in Capricorn and Mars retrograde continue to be very important themes to the current story. See previous blog entries for these themes. Mars has turned direct, and is now completing his hero’s journey. During the return, Mars will be asking us to integrate our experiences of the heart since September. The “hero’s return” portion of the story goes on till April 4, when Mars reaches 12 degrees Cancer, the place it stood to turn retrograde.

At the New Moon, Mars is in Gemini. On March 4, it will reenter Cancer and oppose Pluto in Capricorn. This is the third time that Mars opposes Pluto during this Mars retrograde cycle, and this is the first time that Mars opposes Pluto from the polarity of Cancer and Capricorn (the previous two times were in Gemini and Sagittarius). This will be a time of stirring up the core issues of Pluto’s transit into Capricorn. Already financial concerns are strong which is stimulating survival concerns. We have the opportunity to use this energy to realign our priorities, to reinvigorate our ambitions while staying rooted in the heart of compassion.

The Full Moon on February 20 is a Lunar eclipse that will be visible in much of the United States. The principles of a Solar Eclipse apply to a Lunar Eclipse but with less intensity. Solar Eclipses can be event-oriented while Lunar Eclipses tend to impact the emotional realm. The Moon will be at 1 degree Virgo (the Sun at 1 degree Pisces). The very mental energy of Aquarius is still strong at this time, however a new practicality is required to bring balance. How do we serve the visions that occurred at the New Moon? Saturn is next to this Virgo Moon reminding us that true change happens when we take only the next step, then the next, then the next.

February 24, the Sun opposes Saturn – a day to bring heaven to earth and earth to heaven. How will be serve our highest ideals rather than our basest instincts?

In the midst of winter, seeds of change stir deep underground. How will you help create the change that you envision?