Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Moon December 24, 2011: Looking behind and forward

Winter is a time for dreaming, turning within, tending the light inside — the small spark of inspiration that can grow into miraculous manifestation. I welcome this time to turn away from outside distractions and drift into incubating my dreams.

Janus, the two faced god, looks into what has been and what is becoming. This liminal time between Winter Solstice and the New Year, is a good time to see what Janus sees. These questions arise: Where have we been this year? What influences our choices for this next year? And the final, but most important question: With this information, how will we consciously co-create the world we envision?

In 2011, we saw the spark of revolution catching around the world. Uranus entering Aries spurred many in the world to action. Pluto, in Capricorn since 2008, has been turning over the soil of toxic economies to compost outworn systems of empire and hierarchy.

Neptune, the planet of collective consciousness, has been finishing up its 14-year transit of Aquarius, the sign of invention. Technological advances brought us the possibilities of being connected with each other through the Internet. Neptune invited us to blur those boundaries even further, and the surface of how we can expand our connections throughout the world has only been scratched.

Our heart muscles have been exercised this year as well. A terrible tsunami struck Japan in March, just as Chiron, the shaman/healer, was entering the oceanic sign of Pisces. This tragedy touched the heart of the world as we watched the waves devouring villages.

Another tragedy occurred in Norway in July when a gunman invaded a camp for youth and killed 76. That month began with a grand cardinal cross involving Saturn, Pluto, Uranus, and the Sun and Moon. This configuration of planets reminded us of how vulnerable we all are to inexplicable violence. Neptune was stationary at 0° Pisces, again opening us to empathic connection.

Saturn in Libra this year has also influenced our lives. Saturn—defining the important work before us—in the sign of balance, has injected constraint into some very passionate energy (Pluto and Uranus). On the one hand, Occupiers around the world are using relational decision-making processes like concensus to define their movement. This is a slow (Saturn) way to make decisions, but one that promotes relationship and equality. On the other hand, we see our elected officials mired in opposition—an indication that they have not learned the Libra lessons of compromise and harmony. They are out of touch with planetary guidance as well as good common sense. 

A look ahead at important themes influencing our becoming.

Neptune enters Pisces in February—the sign it rules. Pisces is an empathetic sign and plays a big role over the next few years. Just like an ocean wave breaking over us, we can find our defenses suddenly swept away and we open to the feelings of universal suffering more easily. Liz Greene’s definitive book on this planet, The Astrological Neptune and the Quest for Redemption, tells us that this planet is enormously influential in what defines our collective consciousness and behaviors. We are entering a new era of consciousness, one that will have the coloration of Pisces.

Uranus square Pluto becomes exact this year but will not complete until 2015. The crescendo of change is building.

Saturn continues to offer us the lessons of Libran balance until October when this planet enters the subterranean world of Scorpio. What is not acknowledged openly in our relationships and dealt with in a fair and equitable manner will emerge in power struggles while Saturn is in Scorpio. Right before the election, things most likely get even more ugly in our politics, as bad behavior gets exposed.

The Mutable signs: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces have their challenges this year, which does not mean that it will be all bad. The strength and weakness of these signs is their mutability—imagine that! Where is the ground? How do we maintain boundaries and commitments, while at the same time expanding into new ways of being, thinking, feeling, and learning? This is a very expansive year for these signs. Here’s the lowdown: In addition to Neptune and Chiron transiting through Pisces, Mars retrogrades through Virgo for three months. Venus retrogrades through Gemini for two months. There will be one solar eclipse and a lunar eclipse in Gemini and one lunar eclipse in Sagittarius. Jupiter enters Gemini for a year in June. Mutable signs are concerned with integration and understanding. We will all have a lot of work to do in these areas.

The easy transits.
Astrologers traditionally have described some transits as challenging (squares, opposition and some conjunctions, for instance) and some transits as easy (sextiles and trines). What I am noticing is that as we become more aware of ourselves as conscious co-creators, all transits can be experienced as challenging because they represent another piece of consciousness to integrate.

With that in mind, I am interested in following the meaning of these transits this year:
Chiron in Pisces sextile Pluto in Capricorn
Saturn in Scorpio trine Neptune and Chiron in Pisces
Saturn in Scorpio sextile Pluto in Capricorn

The link between these transits is the emphasis on water (emotional awareness) and the relationship between water and earth (grounding that emotional awareness).

Rather than give a list of transits for this month as I usually do, here is an overview of the year’s important transits.

JANUARY - Mars stations retrograde at 23° Virgo and turns direct in April at 3° Virgo
MAY – Chiron 9° Pisces sextile Pluto 9° Capricorn (1st of 6 times over next two years)
Venus stations retrograde at 23° Gemini and turns direct in June at 7° Gemini
Solar eclipse at 0° Gemini
JUNE – Lunar eclipse at 14° Saggitarius
Jupiter enters Gemini
Uranus 8° Aries square Pluto 8° Capricorn (1st exact square of 7 over next 3 years)
Jupiter 3° Gemini square Neptune 3° Pisces
JULY – Jupiter 8° Gemini square Chiron 8° Pisces
SEPTEMBER – Chiron 6° Pisces square Pluto 6° Capricorn (2nd time)
Uranus 6° Aries square stationary Pluto 6° Capricorn (2nd time)
OCTOBER - Saturn enters Scorpio
Saturn 0° Scorpio trines Neptune 0° Pisces
NOVEMBER - Solar eclipse 21° Scorpio, Lunar eclipse 6° Gemini
Saturn 4° Scorpio trine Chiron 4° Pisces
DECEMBER – Saturn 9° Scorpio sextile Pluto 9° Capricorn

Opening to Winter’s dreams, may we surprise even ourselves in the ways we embrace our divinity and inherent possibilities this year. Blessings to all.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

New Moon November 25, 2011: Freedom to Choose

We’re in the midst of change. Evidence is everywhere, in big ways and small. Some of this change is terribly exciting and some is terrifying. At this New Moon in Sagittarius, I find myself needing a strategy to ride these waves of change. I am trying to maintain equilibrium even as I react to every up and down in my life. As 2011 winds down and we prepare for the new year, it feels really important that we orient ourselves to our guiding values, so even as the ground shifts, we know who we are and what is really important to us.

Sagittarius is the Archer
. The stars of this constellation depict a centaur pulling back on his bow, getting ready to let loose an arrow that actually points toward the very center of our galaxy. Long-range vision and core truths belong to this sign. We need both as we navigate change. The questions I hold now are, what is the world I long to see manifested through these changes, and what are the values that guide me as I make choices throughout these changes. This New Moon presents a challenge. It is a Solar Eclipse, which intensifies emotional charge and brings additional uncertainty. In addition, Mercury is stationing retrograde the day before the eclipse. Mars and Chiron also square the New Moon, adding a quality of heightened empathy and reactivity. In other words, this is an excellent lunar cycle to practice awareness that fosters our visions and our guiding values. What are yours?

“Human freedom involves our capacity to pause between the stimulus and response and, in that pause, to choose the one response toward which we wish to throw our weight.” Rollo May – The Courage to Create.

Life is full of things that provoke us. Sometimes, a fierce and sudden reaction serves our intention. However, I’ve noticed that I make more mistakes by reacting quickly than when I stop to pause between whatever stimulates me and what I choose to ultimately do about it. Rollo May, in the quote above suggests that not only can we avoid more mistakes by pausing before we choose, but that freedom itself lies in the ability to pause first before choosing. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about this idea of freedom. Often we are tied to our reactivity, playing out old stories and wounds that have nothing to do with the actual situation before us. Imagine the freedom we could have, if we stopped to look at our own impulsivity—pausing before choosing. Mars is the planet of impulse. Last month, I wrote about the Mars retrograde journey. Mars has begun the first portion of that journey, still traveling direct through Virgo. Mars is contributing to the tension we may be feeling at the New Moon, and I believe, is also a guide to examining what we can do about it.

Virgo is the sign of order, practice, and service. It isn’t a particularly comfortable sign for Mars to spend an extended period of time in. The planet of impulsivity must wear the clothes of humility and must channel his aggression into creating order. If Mars is energy, then we can direct that energy into daily practice—small acts that bring integration. This integration can help us achieve the freedom to pause between stimulus and response.

Pausing, integration, freedom—that sounds lovely doesn’t it? It won’t be easy with Mercury retrograding. On December 13, Mercury stations direct just one degree away from the Solar Eclipse degree of 2° Sagittarius. It is as if the trickster god has a special mission this month to see how well we can hold to our core truths and visions. And maybe we shouldn’t hold too hard. Flexibility is so important during this time. If freedom comes from pausing, then genius comes from being flexible in our truths. Perhaps we need both qualities to meet these changing times.

The Full Moon this month is a Lunar Eclipse.
Uranus, the ultimate instigator of change and awakening, is stationing direct at 0° Aries the same day. Mars is also squaring the Sun and Moon. This Full Moon does not promise to be any calmer than the period leading up to the New Moon. However, the signs Gemini and Sagittarius invite illumination. Our understanding of the world, of other people, of our own truth may expand in unexpected ways at this time. Sagittarius is an understanding of the macro and Gemini is an understanding of the micro. When these come together, we achieve a deeper understanding of the whole.

Another important turning point this month is the Sun’s entry into Capricorn, which marks the beginning of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere. At this time, the Sun at 0° Capricorn exactly squares Uranus at 0° Aries and this signals another season of uncertainty in world events. In the U.S., since these planets are angular, there may be significant change–especially in the areas of real estate, homeland security, and relationship with allies.

Change is present. However, we still have the ability to choose our response to change. Every time I am able to exercise my ability to choose my response, I develop a sense of freedom. The Archer of Sagittarius, riding toward the next horizon—the next adventure of discovery—is an image of the freedom that is possible for us all.

Transits important to these themes. *

December 2 Sun 9° Sagittarius square Mars 9° Virgo
December 4 Sun conjunct Mercury retrograde at 11° Sagittarius
December 4 Mercury retrograde 11° Sagittarius square Mars 11° Virgo
December 5 Venus 11° Capricorn trine Mars 11° Virgo
December 10 Uranus stations direct 0° Aries
December 10 Lunar Eclipse  18° Gemini
December 13 Mercury stations direct 3° Sagittarius
December 21 Sun enters Capricorn
December 22 Sun 0° Capricorn square Uranus 0° Aries

*These dates are not a complete list of transits for the month, but rather are times when the themes of these stories are stronger. Each aspect between planets carries its own energy of harmony or conflict. These shifting relationships create the plotlines of our stories. These are:
Conjunction – merging
Sextile – encouraging
Square – challenging
Trine – harmonizing
Quincunx – perplexing
Opposition – balancing

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Moon October 26, 2011: Death is the Companion

My soul is calling for rest. I need to sink down into the earth, into my body, and into my home to reflect, recharge, and regenerate. I need is to pay attention to the wisdom of Scorpio, the season of death. Every year, this season hits me the same way—as a wakeup call to stop what I am doing and go deeper. How do I suddenly slow down, stop the manic activity in my life, and begin to notice what is really important? Scorpio demands we remember we are mortal, that we are ultimately compost. And that knowledge puts a whole new spin on how we fill our days. Scorpio is a Fixed sign and so has a special link to the other times of the year represented by the other Fixed signs: Taurus, Leo, and Aquarius. In contrast to Leo, the mid-summer season of creativity and expression, Scorpio time— inward, brooding and soulful—can hit us like a slap in the face. It is time to shift focus.

I attended Barebones last night, an annual Halloween outdoor puppet show. This year, the show began with the audience being told that we were all dead and gathered there for an orientation for the newly deceased. Our amusing guide told us that the first question that everyone always asks is, “Am I really dead?” It’s always good to check. We were reminded of the five stages of grief, one of the first being denial. Really? Am I really dead? Who knows what our actual deaths will be like, but I imagine it could be a bit of a shock to change realities so quickly. If we need a reminder, Scorpio shocks us into realizing that we are indeed mortal, and that below the surface of things, there is an immense underworld of experience and reality we should pay attention to. Coming from the busy activity of summer and early fall, we may have forgotten all that.

The underworld really isn’t all doom and gloom. It is a place of rich resource and treasure. Yes, death resides there, but also regeneration. The wisdom of Scorpio is that remembering our mortality, we claim our power to transform and enjoy life in a deeper, richer way. This pause between the worlds of Leo and the next Fixed sign, Aquarius, enriches the possibilities inherent in those other signs. The exuberance of summer loses its shine and the inspiring visions of winter are dull without this season of dying.

The relationship between Scorpio and Aquarius is particularly meaningful right now. Aquarius is ruled by Uranus—the force of revolution and reform. Scorpio is ruled by Pluto—god of the underworld. We are living in a time of profound transformation as Uranus squares Pluto for the next four years. Squares are challenging and they are fertile. Collectively and individually, we are invited to develop sustainable practices that will acknowledge the deep truths of Scorpio while holding the visions of Aquarius. How will the world look at the end of the next four years? What are you committed to creating? Who are you committed to being? Our individual choices will create that world.

That is the macrocosm of the moment. In the microcosm, we have this particular lunar cycle with moments of challenge and moments of support as we always do. Some of these are:

The New Moon chart. Jupiter entered Taurus, Fixed earth, in June. It opposes the Moon and Sun in this chart. Oppositions create perspective so this is a good time to access what Jupiter’s transit of Taurus means to us at this moment. The seasons of Scorpio and Taurus represent the cycles of death and rebirth. Through Taurus, we get in touch with our gardens, our bodies, and everything that gives us comfort and pleasure. What is your relationship to the physical world? How does it feel to be embodied while becoming aware of your mortality? Jupiter in Taurus places strong emphasis on the need to care for our bodies and to create sustainable lives that bless those who have made these lives possible, our ancestors—the beloved dead. Death and life are linked.

Another component of this chart is Mars in Leo square to Venus and Mercury in Scorpio. This recalls the theme of Fixed sign squares—the clash of worlds that fertilizes change. Tensions exist in our intimate relationships. Misunderstandings can arise between what we desire and how we defend those desires. Can our friends and lovers be trusted? Are egos bruised, needing reassurance that we are important to others? This frisson speaks to the authentic desire to be in partnerships that acknowledge who we really are and that support us even when we are afraid.

Neptune is stationing direct this month and thus will be a stronger energy for sensing what is on the other side of the veil between this world and the other. Dreams and intuition, as well as grief and disappointment swell up, especially those times when Neptune is in aspect with other planets this month. At the Full Moon, Neptune in Fixed sign, Aquarius will have just turned direct and will oppose Mars in Leo. This is Neptune’s last station in Aquarius where it has been since 1998. Mars calls attention to the fact that this era is coming to an end and another is beginning. This is a big topic, however, I imagine that this aspect at the Full Moon will include the ways we need to balance the significance of the individual with our collective longings. Certainly, we have the opportunity to open and receive new insights this month.

Another mythic storyline beginning this month—Mars retrograde through Virgo. Every two years Mars turns retrograde. Because of apparent backward motion during retrograde, Mars stays in a sign much longer than usual, first transiting forward through a segment of the zodiac, stationing retrograde to go back over the same area, and then stationing direct to complete the third pass. Mars represents the heroic, valorous parts of ourselves and as this planet makes its retrograde journey, I imagine that we are all taking a hero’s journey along with Mars.

I use Joseph Campbell’s model of the hero’s journey in three parts—the Call, the Journey, and the Return—to frame Mars retrogrades. This time, Mars journeys between 3 degrees Virgo and 23 degrees Virgo starting November 18 and ending on June 19, 2012. Mars is still moving direct as it enters the retrograde zone. From the 18th to January 23, 2012, we are in the first segment of the journey: the Call. During this phase, we receive indications that we are being called on an adventure that will eventually change our lives if we dare to accept. During the second phase (January 23 through April 13) of Mars retrograde, or the journey, we are tested and transformed. During the return phase (April 13 through June 19), we must integrate newfound wisdom into our lives. Anyone with planets or important points between these degrees of any Mutable sign, may feel this mythic journey strongly. However, the lessons are there for us all. These lessons center around the meaning of Virgo.

Some clues. Pay attention to holistic practices that nurture body and mind. Health concerns may arise that will shift your diet or lifestyle. What are your expectations for yourself? How does perfectionism play out in your life? You may be called to refine your ability to discern what is important to you and how you must act in accordance. There may be a strong call to service or apprenticeship that will lead you on an important journey. Virgo, like all Mutable signs, is concerned with synthesizing and learning. This seven-month period will give us ample opportunity to do just that.

There is a moment in every significant journey when we know we will never again be the same person who began the journey. Scorpio time is when we realize that change is the only constant. Death is the companion that gives meaning to the path.

Transits important to these themes. *
October 26 Venus 21 ° Scorpio square Mars 21° Leo
October 28 Mercury 22° Scorpio square Mars 22° Leo
October 28 Sun 5° Scorpio opposite Jupiter 5° Taurus
October 31 Venus 28° Scorpio square Neptune 28° Aquarius
November 1 Mercury 28° Scorpio square Neptune 28° Aquarius
November 7 Mars 28° Leo opposite Neptune 28° Aquarius
November 9 Neptune stations direct 28° Aquarius
November 10 Full Moon 18° Taurus
November 10 Mars enters Virgo
November 18 Mars at 3° Virgo enters 1st phase of retrograde journey
November 20 Sun 28 Scorpio square Neptune 28° Aquarius

*These dates are not a complete list of transits for the month, but rather are times when the themes of these stories are stronger. Each aspect between planets carries its own energy of harmony or conflict. These shifting relationships create the plotlines of our stories. These are:
Conjunction – merging
Sextile – encouraging
Square – challenging
Trine – harmonizing
Quincunx – perplexing
Opposition – balancing

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Moon September 27, 2011: Wisdom more Beautiful

Sophia is “rooted in tree, vine, earth and water as well as in the human creation of the city. She is judge and saviour, interceding to save her people, as Ishtar interceded to save humanity from the Flood. She is transcendent, eternally one with the godhead beyond creation, and immanent in the world as the presence of the divine within the forms of creation. She is the invisible spirit guiding human life, who may be discovered by the person who seeks her guidance and help.” The Myth of the Goddess by Ann Baring and Jules Cashford

Divine Balance, Harmony, and Order, I honor you.

Now that the Sun has entered Libra, the breeze is getting crisp and I want to celebrate the realm of Air—the realm of mind. Our thoughts and ability to detach, objectify, and conceptualize, as well as communicate and relate to others, live here. Often these qualities, especially the ones of intellect, are criticized. I hear people complaining that they are too much in their heads or that they can’t turn off their thoughts. It is common be ashamed of our own intelligence or ability to reason. And I get it; it can be overdone. However now, in this season of the Scales, I want to claim all that is good about the brain. Hail to the Mind.

I recently attended a concert of medieval vocal music. The harmonies and blendings of the choral group were amazing. The order inherent in the medieval compositions approached the sublime. The intricacies within the music were delightful. I came to the concert with worries and concerns from my life. I left it in an exalted state, feeling as though I could solve those problems. The artistry elevated me, but I also appreciated the effect of harmony, blending, and intricacy on my soul. Libra is the sign of such qualities, and this lunar month is a good time to honor these qualities in ourselves.

Libra’s scales are a symbol of balance. They also stand for duality, judgment and weighing our options. Are any of these issues giving you trouble right now? The reason may be that Saturn, the planet that loves to give us good solid work to do, has been transiting though Libra since October 2009. Recently Saturn has moved into a new region of Libra sparking new challenges to use Libra qualities in even more exquisite ways. (See how I am framing Saturn in a positive light? I’m trying to seduce him into thinking he doesn’t have to torment me anymore.) People with planets or important points between 18 degrees and 29 degrees of Libra or the same degrees in the other Cardinal signs, will be visited by Saturn this fall and early winter. My Sun occupies this area and I am thinking that I need to pay more attention to Libra. It is time to appreciate my mind.

Every element has its purpose. Air reminds us that our thoughts can create reality. It is a powerful tool and is possibly the hardest to use intentionally. The forces of chaos and order dance together within this realm. Both are real, both are necessary. I am wondering however, in my own desire to live in balance I may overcompensate and not allow these energies to flow freely in my life. This New Moon cycle starts off with a great opportunity to practice balance between order and chaos.

The lunar month starts with the crackle of a t-square involving Pluto, Uranus, and the Sun and Moon. Possibly the most interesting part of this t-square is that it also involves an exact opposition between Uranus (master god of chaos) and Mercury (master god of mind). Oppositions can create a crisis that provokes integration. Uranian transits often feel like lightening bolts and Mercury shows us how tricky our minds can be.  With Pluto involved in this, there is potential also to experience this lunar month as deep and transformative.

Mars is involved in this story as well. Mars increases impulsivity and also carries the energy of the lightening bolt. At this new moon, Mars is in Fixed Fire—Leo—quincunx to Pluto and square to Jupiter. The quincunx aspect represents what we don’t easily see. Imagine a lightening bolt coming out of the blue. As if a t-square configuration isn’t challenging enough, our wills, our anger, our passions just may set off the storm of transformation. Is this an opportunity for embracing chaos or creating order? For sure, it is an opportunity to observe our patterns and investigate how we might want to change them.

When the mind is emphasized it is too easy to forget about the body. Even as I am writing this, I am noticing that in an effort to express my thoughts I have a tendency to contort and hold my body in positions that can create pain later. Perhaps this dynamic is one of the most important when we strive to achieve balance in the mind. The body is here too. Jupiter has been in Fixed Earth—Taurus— since June (and stays until June 2012). Jupiter’s job is to expand our experiences past previous paradigms. Sometimes this can be exhilarating and sometimes overwhelming. The square between Mars and Jupiter could manifest as an overwhelming need to remember the body in all this. Transits between Jupiter and other planets are an opportunity to invite in the body’s awareness. Jupiter in Taurus wants us to bring the body along on our mind trips.

My favorite part of the New Moon chart is a conjunction between Libra’s ruler—Venus—and Saturn. Saturn expresses himself well in the sign of Libra. All the best qualities of mind are exalted by this planet of focus and intention. Venus’ position here reminds me of the goddess Sophia. She represents Wisdom. In Sophia, we encounter the hidden law that creates order out of chaos and invites us into the grace and beauty of harmony. The Wisdom book in the Apocrypha describes Sophia: “For she is more beautiful than the sun, and above all the order of stars: being compared with light, she is found before it.” This meeting of Saturn and Venus is an opportunity to walk with this inspiration this month.

The Full Moon chart is less tense. The predominant story at the Full Moon is the conjunction of Saturn and the Sun, which is of course also opposite the Moon in Cardinal Fire—Aries. Saturn continues to encourage us to focus and define the qualities of mind that serve us best. The Aries Moon interjects urgency, much like Mars did earlier. What did we learn from the first two weeks of this lunar cycle? How can we integrate the passion to act and the wisdom to consider our best choices? May the beauty, balance, and wisdom of Sophia guide us.

Transits important to these themes. *

September 28 Sun 4° Libra square Pluto 4° Capricorn
September 28 Mercury 4° Libra square Pluto 4° Capricorn
September 28 Sun conjunct Mercury 5° Libra
September 29 Venus conjunct Saturn 18° Libra
October 1 Sun 8° Libra quincunx Jupiter 8° Taurus
October 2 Mars 8° Leo square Jupiter 8° Taurus
October 6 Mercury conjunct Saturn 19· Libra
October 11 Full Moon 18° Aries
October 13 Sun conjunct Saturn 20° Libra
October 14 Venus 7° Scorpio opposite Jupiter 7° Taurus
October 17 Mercury 6° Scorpio opposite Jupiter 6° Taurus

*These dates are not a complete list of transits for the month, but rather are times when the themes of these stories are stronger. Each aspect between planets carries its own energy of harmony or conflict. These shifting relationships create the plotlines of our stories. These are:
Conjunction – merging
Sextile – encouraging
Square – challenging
Trine – harmonizing
Quincunx - perplexing

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Moon August 28, 2011: The Way of Intention

I’ve been thinking about my astrology practice a lot lately. I don’t mean my astrology business, I mean my practice—the way I use astrology to live a life that is filled with awareness, meaning, and intention. I’ve been observing the evolution of this practice

My readers may have noticed these themes, as I am just starting to see them myself.

•    Each sign is a season and indicates how to be present to the energies and wisdom of the moment.
•    Being present to the energies and wisdom of the moment means I can make aware choices that support intention.
•    Each planet is an archetype that describes different parts of human experience and potential. They show us who we are and who we can become. Planets represent divine beings and may even be divine beings. They remind us that we are divine too.
•    Intention is how I both honor my divinity as well as take responsibility for my impact.
•    To live a life of intention means I am interested in manifesting change in myself and the world around me.
•    Even though I value intention and awareness, I also court paradox and the unknowable. The edge of Mystery is fertile with possibility.

These beliefs motivate my astrology practice.

I am most curious about intention and manifestation this month. Many of us believe that in order to manifest something, we must first work with an intention. That makes sense. But another assumption is often tied to this idea: Every intention should manifest if we are diligent enough, inspired enough, aware or smart enough to make it so. We judge ourselves when intention does not produce the change we are looking for. So, we get busy trying to figure out what we did wrong, who is to blame, and how to perfect our skills. However, I don’t think the purpose of working with intention is really about the outcome. Rather, it is about the practice itself, where it takes us on the inner journey, and the people it makes us into. Perhaps the practice helps us manifest change, but it also might not.

I’ve recently started a book by Thich Nhat Hanh, “no death, no fear.” In it he writes about death as simply being the state where life does not have the proper conditions to be supported and so withdraws. He writes: “This is what the Buddha taught. When conditions are sufficient things manifest. When conditions are no longer sufficient things withdraw. They wait until the moment is right for them to manifest again.”

Refreshing simplicity! What if we replaced shame about not manifesting our intentions with this awareness? Of course, we try our best to create the conditions that support our intentions—that is living in alignment—but we cannot control every factor. Living with intention without attachment to outcome. That’s a paradox for sure.

The season of Virgo is a perfect time to notice our practices, intentions, and attachments to outcome. This mutable earth sign cultivates, discerns value, harvests, and disperses the benefits of practice. The gift of Virgo is steadfast attention to what we cultivate through ongoing attention to detail. The burden for Virgo is to be overwhelmed with managing those details. This is a sign that rides the edge of practice and manifestation. Like all Earth signs, Virgo is concerned with what really is, really here, being manifested right now. And Virgo probably is the sign most likely to hold itself to perfectionism—a deadly trap for working with intention.

Every sign has a shadow and the genius to transform that shadow. The work this month is to notice how we hold ourselves accountable for intentions that have not yet manifested. We will be able to use Virgo eyes to pay attention to every nagging doubt and Virgo steadfastness to allow those doubts to fall away.

If our practice this month is simply this, the transits will be new opportunities to observe and allow. Sometimes supportive, sometimes illuminating, sometimes challenging, each step in this month’s starsdance is another reminder that we are here with a reason to be.

An important feature of the New Moon chart is a Grand Earth Trine, appropriate for the theme of intention and manifestation. A grand trine features a planet in every sign of a single element in harmonizing aspect to each other. The harmonizing part is the theory but I find grand trines can be challenging because every expression of the element, the cardinal, fixed and mutable, is demanding attention. The potential of the grand trine is to have access to every mode of energy. The challenge is to allow that harmony to exist. Sometimes we are partial to one modality over another. Cardinal people like starting new projects. Fixed people challenge every change. The Mutable folks are more interested in what they can learn and want to move on to the next thing. A committee with all these types cover all the bases, but first we have to appreciate their different approaches. 

In this Grand Earth committee, Cardinal focus is held by Pluto who wants us to research the very beginnings of intention. What motivates us to desire a particular manifestation? What are the secrets, the psychological complexes, and the fears that lie at the foundation? Jupiter in Taurus holds the Fixed focus. Jupiter is strong at this time because it is stationary. If Pluto plants the seeds of manifestation, Jupiter is protecting them in the fertile, dark earth. Perhaps we need to wait a little while longer before we notice anything happening. Perhaps we need to invoke our faith that when conditions allow, intention will manifest. The Mutable focus in this committee comes from Sun, Moon and Venus in Virgo – a lovely trio. The challenge is to evaluate what our seeds of intention have produced without invoking the specter of shame. Whatever has grown from the practice of intention can be illuminating and meaningful. Virgo is capable of harvesting this meaning.

This lunation also begins with Mars square to Saturn. This is very earnest energy. We are trying hard but may not feel very successful. In January Saturn stationed retrograde at 17° Libra, it turned direct in June and this month finally passes the point where it retrograded. I think of this as new territory. While Saturn has been moving through this portion of the sky, we’ve had ample opportunity to push past struggles around balance and relationship. Now, new Libra lessons will arise. Saturn is about developing mastery. What are your trying to master about living with others or about creating harmony in your life? Have you set intention in this work?

The Full Moon in Pisces provides an illuminating mirror for Virgo. Pisces reminds Virgo why focusing on intention is important in the first place. Pisces offers transcendence and meaning through the heart, giving balance to Virgo’s dry earthiness, which can get overly focused on work and results.
The Grand Earth Trine is present during the Full Moon too, this time with Mercury anchoring the Virgo part. Mercury rules Virgo and provides a strong desire to learn and be productive. Mercury spent most of last lunar month retrograding through Leo after turning retrograde at 1° Virgo.  When Mercury returns to that degree on September 9, it will be raring to go, eager to fulfill the Virgo mission of integration until this planet enters Libra on September 25.

Virgo, as a mutable sign, is sensitive to energy and stress. The last half of this lunar month has the potential to be more stressful as there are several quincunx aspects between planets from September 16th to the next New Moon on the 27th. This is a good time to practice self-care, not discounting any stress we feel.

The Hermit card in Tarot is a good guide for tending to Virgo stress. This card corresponds to Virgo in the Golden Dawn system. Sometimes we need periods of quiet contemplation, times to focus on intention and practice, and release ourselves from the expectations of success or failure. These times serve a purpose. We should honor them.

Transits important to these themes. *

August 30 Jupiter stations retrograde 10° Taurus
September 8 Mercury enters Virgo
September 10 Mercury 3° Virgo quincunx Uranus 3° Aries
September 12 Full Moon 19° Pisces
September 16 Pluto stations direct 4° Capricorn
September 16 Mars 28° Cancer quincunx Neptune 28° Aquarius
September 17 Venus 2° Libra opposite Uranus 2° Aries
September 18 Venus 4° Libra square Pluto 4° Capricorn
September 21 Sun 28° Virgo quincunx Neptune 28° Aquarius
September 22 Venus 9° Libra quincunx Jupiter 9° Taurus
September 23 Sun enters Libra
September 24 Mercury 28° Virgo quincunx Neptune 28° Aquarius
September 25 Mercury enters Libra
September 25 Sun 2° Libra opposite Uranus 2° Aries
September 26 Mars 4 ° Leo quincunx Pluto 4° Capricorn
September 27 Mercury 2° Libra opposite Uranus 2° Aries

*These dates are not a complete list of transits for the month, but rather are times when the themes of these stories are stronger. Each aspect between planets carries its own energy of harmony or conflict. These shifting relationships create the plotlines of our stories. These are:
Conjunction – merging
Sextile – encouraging
Square – challenging
Trine – harmonizing
Quincunx - perplexing

Friday, July 29, 2011

New Moon July 31, 2011: This Little Light

The tragedy that took place in Norway on July 22 pulls on my heart. At this time of year, the season of Leo, we are meant to relish our first harvests. It should be a time to enjoy the gifts of the earth and claim the shining glory of our own creations. Yet this season, which should be joyous, is tinged with grief and fear. The very same weekend of the nightmare in Norway, I attended a blissful celebration of love as two dear friends shared their marriage vows amidst loving family and community. They happen to be lesbians, and in our state, Minnesota, they sadly do not yet have the right to make their marriage legal. However, in New York, during this same weekend an abundance of gay couples were legally wedded for the first time. The photos from that weekend, in both states, have been inspiring.

Our world is full of sharp contrasts – lights and shadows. For some, love is a courageous act that affirms life. For others hate and fear fuel violence. There is nothing wrong with contrast itself. Shadow and light color our world in amazing shades of complexity and richness. In celebrating diversity, I celebrate others being different from me. However, currently, contrasts between people are creating alarming, dehumanizing divisions where groups of people seem to be living on different planets, and I am afraid that this gives permission for violence. I am perplexed by this division in worlds. How can anyone be threatened by gay people marrying? How can anyone, even the most insane amongst us, think that killing young people will protect from multiculturalism? I acknowledge my fear that such violence might destroy what is beautiful. I pay attention to fear, and I wonder what intention to follow this month, supported by the season and the stars, which will contribute to a lessening of fear and an embrace of life’s joy.

I am a person of faith. My faith is the belief that when I commit to such an intention, it changes me and it changes the world. Through this, I add my spark to the fire of enlightenment I want to see manifested. Faith and fire are appropriate Leo themes. Leo is a Fixed Fire sign. The fixed signs hold and protect the archetypal form of their elements. What are the gifts and challenges of fire? How do we work with fire to support our intentions? If fire is the teacher this month, what are the lessons? Fire is a hungry element. It needs to be fed. A proper fire must be built carefully in order to sustain the flame, not burning too quickly and not sputtering out due to lack of fuel. A proper fire, like Goldilocks’ bowl of porridge, is just right.

If I intend to kindle a fire that is just right for me to sustain my faith, lessen my fears, and embrace life’s joy, what must I pay attention to?

The New Moon chart shows us what we have to work with this month in holding to our intentions. The Sun and Moon are joined with Venus, adding the blessing of love and beauty to our fires. The Moon is soul, the Sun is consciousness, and Venus is love. These are the foundation of intention this month. This trio is part of a configuration called a Yod, or Hand of God in Hebrew. The yod formation points to paradox and holding contrasts until we reach new understanding. The paradox of this yod may be that we are both insignificant and pivotal to creating the world we envision. The paradox is that it isn’t about us and it is all about each of us. What can we do in the face of large, impersonal forces, represented by the other two planets forming the base of the yod (Pluto and Neptune)? We know we are in a paradigm shift right now. Large tectonic plates are moving under us. Where will we end up and will the shift bring more chaos as it unfolds? Neptune and Pluto represent some of the forces of change we are experiencing right now. Uranus, another outer planet is also contributing.

Leo reminds us of the power of the Child. Although Leo is a fire sign ruled by the powerful Sun, an imposing energy, Leo can be quite meek. Perhaps the Sun’s potential to manifest and destroy, is intimidating to Leos, because many Leos do not feel that powerful. Leos often wonder, what difference can my little spark make? There are giant forces out there, what can I do to change them? I love this quote from Margaret Mead,

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

This month, we need to remember that every small, dedicated group is made of dedicated individuals putting intention behind belief. Mead also said:

"Never depend upon institutions or government to solve any problem. All social movements are founded by, guided by, motivated and seen through by the passion of individuals. "

Childlike innocence is echoed in another way at this new moon. Nine of the 11 “planets” in this chart (Sun, Moon, Pluto and Chiron are not planets but for simplicity’s sake termed planets here.) are in the beginning third of their signs. There is a lot of new energy present here, perhaps naïve, perhaps inexperienced, but also perhaps just the thing we need to enliven our fires of possibility. Can we embrace the unexpected and new this month?

Mercury retrograde brings surprise. On August 2, Mercury will station retrograde at 1 degree Virgo to move back through Leo. For most of August, Mercury encourages us to rethink our assumptions, especially about our fires. These fires can represent our passions, beliefs, our anger, and our energy. August 16th, Mercury retrograde exactly joins with the Sun and Venus. This represents a time of peak illumination for what Mercury is teaching us about the significance of self and love. I can’t promise this illumination will happen gracefully. Mercury retrogrades often teach us in unexpected ways.
This month Mars, usually an ally of fire, will be traveling through the water sign, Cancer. August 9 and 10 Mars will activate the square between Uranus and Pluto. This most likely will bring tension. The desire to protect and defend will we strong. Are emotions at this time in alignment with your intentions? What do you deeply need? Pay attention to the causes of defensiveness.

The Full Moon shows the t-square between Mars, Pluto, and Uranus as still very powerful. I wonder about the budget negotiations in Washington, DC. Will anger or frustration manifest at this time due to the polarities in our culture represented by this stalemate? The square between Pluto and Uranus will be present for the next four years. This is a long time to be feeling this restlessness and undercurrent of violence. Not all changes that will happen during this time will be unwelcomed or difficult. But some will. Is it possible that the mindfulness practice we do this month will support an intention to reflect back the values of peace, love, and tolerance?

The Full Moon in Aquarius is opposite the Sun in Leo. All oppositions represent a whole. Leo and Aquarius represent the powers of Vision and Passion. Together, they affirm the power of the individual to create new worlds. However, we aren’t meant to live in the world of our own creation by ourselves, disconnected from others. Margaret Mead, who had the moon in Aquarius herself, also said:

"Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else."

Every single one of us is a world creator. We have to enjoy the diversity and make it work for us.
Towards the end of this lunar month, as the Sun moves into the service-oriented sign of Virgo, we may be inspired to be useful in service to the world we wish to manifest. But first, pay attention to Leo’s Divine Fire. What intention will you hold for this month in order to push your glow a little further out into the gloom of fear and hatred? The Sun is a symbol of divinity. Whatever you need to do to feed your own divinity, do it. Be inspired. Be inspiring. Every little light makes a difference.

Transits important to these themes. *
August 2 Mercury stations retrograde at 1° Virgo
August 3 Mars enters Cancer
August 4 Venus 9° Leo square Jupiter 9° Taurus
August 8 Mercury (retro) 29° Leo opposite Neptune 29° Aquarius
August 9 Mars 4° Cancer square Uranus 4° Aries
August 10 Mars 5° Cancer square Pluto 5° Capricorn
August 13 Full Moon 20° Aquarius
August 16 Sun conjunct Venus 23° Leo
August 16 Mercury (retro) conjunct Venus 23° Leo
August 16 Sun conjunct Mercury (retro) 23° Leo
August 21 Venus 29° Leo opposite Neptune 29° Aquarius
August 21 Venus enters Virgo
August 22 Sun 29° Leo opposite Neptune 29° Aquarius
August 23 Sun enters Virgo
August 24 Venus 3° Virgo opposite Chiron 3° Pisces
August 25 Mars 14° Cancer square Saturn 14° Libra
August 26 Sun 3° Virgo opposite Chiron 3° Pisces
August 26 Mercury stations direct 18° Leo

*These dates are not a complete list of transits for the month, but rather are times when the themes of these stories are stronger. Each aspect between planets carries its own energy of harmony or conflict. These shifting relationships create the plotlines of our stories. These are:
Conjunction – merging
Sextile – encouraging
Square – challenging
Trine – harmonizing
Quincunx - perplexing

Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Moon July 1, 2011: Time for soul restoration

My favorite metaphor for Cancer is a tidal pool—the ocean womb, teeming with life and subject to the rhythmic pulsation of the tides. So much of this world mirrors what is means to be a Cancer. We think of Cancer as the great nurturer. This Cardinal water sign marshals its strong capacity for leadership into the tasks of tending and managing whatever it holds dear. The other side of this abundant giving is the experience of absolute depletion. When at high tide, Cancers have all the energy they need. At low tide they must retreat and recharge. It is the experience of low tide, of going within and finding solace, that intrigues me this lunar month. I am feeling an ebbing of energy and a desire to rest as the New Moon approaches. I suspect that this pull is even stronger due to a Solar Eclipse in Cancer that beginsthis lunar cycle. [see last month’s blog for information about this eclipse cycle.]  
Every time I see the glyph for Cancer in a chart, I substitute the word “soul.” And soul means depth. It is connected to the past, to memories, to the unconscious. Even though, Cancers can be just as involved in the outer world of manifestation as anyone else, the real work of Cancer is concerned with the deep work of Soul. Cancer’s constellation is the dimmest in the sky and quite small, hard to see. It is fitting that a sign oriented to interior emotional awareness should forego the drama of visible light. Cancer’s house in the Natural Wheel begins at the lowest point in the chart, the Nadir. It was to this part of the sky, that the Egyptians believed the Sun returned each day to die and be reborn.

Entering the liminal place of soul.

Between us and events, between the doer and the deed, there is a reflective moment—and soul-making means differentiating this middle ground. – James Hillman in Re-Visioning Psychology

This month, allow yourself to let go of externals and the obligations of your ordinary life. The liminal space between doing and being is a place where the soul is nourished, especially if we slow down enough to also experience our own discomfort with the stillness. Soul work sometimes is uncomfortable. We are used to being busy and distracted. Yet, stepping between doing and being, we return to source and this replenishes our capacity to give back to life.

What is at your source? The word source comes from roots meaning to rise. Imagine journeying to the nadir of self, reconnecting to what lies there and rising back again. Imagine rising through pools of water, cleansing, nurturing, soothing. The work of summer, when the living is easy, is to recharge and restore ourselves so we may move next into the productive work of harvest and preparation for winter.

New Moon in Cancer (Solar Eclipse). The Soul Moon is part of a grand cardinal cross involving Pluto, Uranus and Saturn. This configuration intensifies the need to do our soul work. Grand crosses can feel like we are stretched to the max. What has reached its breaking point in you? Transits involving Pluto, Uranus, and Saturn this month will call attention to our stresses. Listen to what you need.  Jupiter in Taurus plays along with the Cancer theme well, reminding us that the body holds a lot of soul wisdom too. Find a way to honor your body. Transits involving Venus this month are particularly strong times of listening to the body and following our bliss.

Full Moon in Capricorn.  Full moons bring illumination. If you have listened to your soul, now is the time to look upon the pearl that resides in the heart of your soul. Something is illuminated about who we really are. A pearl is the gift we receive from the irritating grain of sand that annoys and disturbs us. It is worthwhile to look at how we handle our emotions and how they handle us.

James Hillman (author of the quote above) writes brilliantly about the soul. He believes that it is important in the work of soul-making to avoid pushing ourselves towards a goal. The gift, the pearl, the self-awareness that arises is secondary to the process of surrender and replenishment. It is a mysterious journey that cannot be forced but must wash over us like a wave. Allow that wave to wash you.

Transits important to these themes. *

July 2 Sun 10° Cancer square Saturn 10° Libra
July 3 Venus enters Cancer
July 4 Venus trine Neptune
July 7 Venus 4° Cancer square Uranus 4°Uranus
July 8 Venus 5° Cancer opposite Pluto 5° Capricorn
July 9 Uranus stations retrograde
July 13 Venus 11° Cancer square Saturn 11° Libra
July 15 Full Moon 22° Capricorn

*These dates are not a complete list of transits for the month, but rather are times when the themes of these stories are stronger. Each aspect between planets carries its own energy of harmony or conflict. These shifting relationships create the plotlines of our stories. These are:
Conjunction – merging
Sextile – encouraging
Square – challenging
Trine – harmonizing
Quincunx - perplexing

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Moon June 1, 2011: The journey of desire

Where I live, spring is in full flourish. The incredible beauty of the fertile earth awakening and multiplying is delightfully awe inspiring. However, beauty can bring another response—important to acknowledge this month—the fear within the vulnerable, open heart of longing.

The journey of desire. Beauty nudges our hearts to want more. This desire is both exquisite and painful. I believe it calls us into life. The journey begins with asking this question, “What am I afraid to wish for, believing in the depths of my soul that I could never really have it?” The answer is different for each of us. But all of us have that story living deep inside. No matter how small, and it may be very small, that small kernel of shame or disbelief colors the story of our lives. It becomes an essential reality that impacts our lives profoundly. Perhaps this month will be a good time to notice this seed, to coax it out of hiding, to see the truth as well as the falsehood of our limiting beliefs.  
Eclipses. This lunar month begins with a solar eclipse. Physical reality informs my interpretation of an eclipse—the light goes out and then comes back. The waxing and waning of light and darkness is a rhythm repeated during the lunar and solar cycles of the year. Our human bodies understand this. Yet during an eclipse the cycle is quick and potentially unsettling. Suddenly, we are plunged into darkness. Suddenly, the light returns. Even when we cannot see the eclipse, we can feel its effects. A unique feature of the next two months is that there will be two solar eclipses back to back. The next lunar cycle beginning July 1 will also be a solar eclipse. The full moon in between these two will be a lunar eclipse. The last time this happened was July 2000.

Karmic patterns and the nodes of the moon. Shadows bring up stuff hidden within. An eclipse is an opportunity to illuminate long embedded patterns. This can be experienced in physical reality—something happens to us to create the possibility of a new awareness or a new path to take in life. Or an eclipse can work on the spiritual/intentional level. We are given an opportunity to understand ourselves in new ways. The two back-to-back eclipses are south node eclipses introducing the theme of karma to these experiences. Dana Gerhardt describes the south node in her excellent article on the nodes: “It's a comfort zone, describing attitudes and talents which, for good or ill, are easy to believe and express.” This comfort zone has a karmic component to it. What are the patterns that keep repeating in our lives? Even if these patterns are frustrating or harmful, we are used to them. Sometimes it feels more comfortable to live with the demons we know than to take a chance on awakening new ways of being. So, the possibility exists to erase the patterns that repeat, “I will never realize my heart’s desire and it hurts too much to let myself have that desire.”

Cracked open. The heart is a tough organ, the strongest muscle in the body. Yet the heart feels vulnerable. What the heart represents is so core to what it means to be human, that we work hard to create impenetrable defenses. Ironically those defenses prevent us from being in our hearts—open to longing and intimacy. Neptune and Chiron having been working to crack open these hard shells around the heart. Both are in Pisces, the mutable water sign of dissolution, transcendence, and ultimate connection. Both Chiron and Neptune station retrograde this month, which means they have stronger influence. Also these two planets will receive square aspects from a series of planets transiting through Gemini this month. These squares highlight the way that Pisces and Gemini dance together—the mutable dance of water and air.

Pisces and Gemini. Duality is an important theme for both of these signs. Both long to repair the sense of separation that duality evokes. Using water, Pisces feels its way to union. Using air, Gemini learns, discovers and communicates to understand what is missing. Gemini has the reputation of being a lightweight. The eternal youthfulness of Gemini fools us into thinking there isn’t any substance underneath. This month proves that wrong. Gemini holds up the mirror of reality—how we create our world through thought and belief and how we can alter that reality through changing our thoughts and beliefs. When longing is reflected back to us our souls are revealed.

Desire and manifestation. Jupiter enters the fixed earth sign Taurus this month where it will remain for one year. Jupiter’s focus on possibility and belief creates an impulse to embrace the gifts of the sign it is transiting. We will all want to be Taureans this year. Taurus is good at is using beauty and pleasure to manifest the heart’s desire. Although that sounds really good, and it is, shadows reside here too and we will have the opportunity to understand ours more deeply. When we give birth to our heart’s desire, it becomes mortal. Everything we bring into existence will eventually pass away. Forms change. One block to manifestation is the defense of keeping the heart’s longing within the heart, not letting it take form so we won’t feel this pain. Jupiter encourages risk. We have the opportunity to risk the pain of loss in order to manifest desire.

Full Moon Lunar eclipse. The Moon in the full moon chart is conjunct the north node. If the south node represents karmic patterns, the north node represents current evolution, the growing edge. The north node in Sagittarius is about the journey to truth and meaning. Perhaps the light will suddenly go out of a belief system of yours. Perhaps the light will suddenly illuminate another path leading you to new truths. Is it easier to believe we deserve the treasures that reside in our hearts if we align ourselves to the star that gives meaning to our lives? The heart is a muscle—it needs to be used. Keeping our desires hidden inside does nothing to strengthen our capacity to use our hearts for the highest good. As darkness and light play around the edges of your life this month remember to honor your heart.

Transits important to these themes. *

Eclipse triggers. Astrologers note that we may feel the impact of an eclipse both before and after the actual eclipse. Planets transiting the degree of the eclipse can trigger the effect. The eclipse of June 1 is at 11° Gemini. The eclipse of July 1 is at 9° Cancer. Dates when these degrees are transited are listed below.

June 3 Mercury 0° Gemini squares Neptune 0° Pisces
June 3 Neptune stations retrograde
June 4 Jupiter enters Taurus
June 5 Mercury 5° Gemini squares Chiron 5° Pisces
June 6 Mercury triggers solar eclipse at 11° Gemini
June 8 Chiron stations retrograde
June 10 Venus 0° Gemini squares Neptune 0° Pisces
June 12 Sun conjunct Mercury 21° Gemini (illumination of themes)
June 13 Venus 5° Gemini squares Chiron 5° Pisces
June 15 Lunar eclipse 24° Sagittarius
June 18 Venus triggers solar eclipse at 11° Gemini
June 20 Mercury triggers solar eclipse at 9° Cancer
June 20 Mars enters Gemini
June 22 Mars 0° Gemini squares Neptune 0° Pisces
June 27 Mars 5° Gemini squares Chiron 5° Pisces
July 6 Mars triggers solar eclipse at 11° Gemini
July 11 Venus triggers solar eclipse at 9° Cancer
August 16 Mars triggers solar eclipse at 9° Cancer

*These dates are not a complete list of transits for the month, but rather are times when the themes of these stories are stronger. Each aspect between planets carries its own energy of harmony or conflict. These shifting relationships create the plotlines of our stories. These are:
Conjunction – merging
Sextile – encouraging
Square – challenging
Trine – harmonizing
Quincunx - perplexing

Monday, May 2, 2011

New Moon May 3, 2011: Loving what we love

It has been a while since I’ve been able to look at the transits for an upcoming month and say to myself, “This looks pretty good.” Wow, considering the last few months that is something. Can it be that this next lunar month will give us a chance to deeply recuperate from the relentless reminders of personal and global crisis? We can use this opportunity to receive needed support to tend to our bodies and spirits. This month’s transits emphasize the importance of beauty and desire in our lives. At this time, in the season of Taurus, we are being invited to tune into the wisdom of our soft animal bodies, as Mary Oliver exhorts us to do in her poem, “Wild Geese.”

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

This sounds simple, yet I realize that in many ways, I have forgotten how to really listen to what my soft animal body needs and wants and loves. As I prepare for the next month at this New Moon, I am interested in developing a better way to listen to my body’s messages.

This is the season of Taurus, the sensory-based fixed earth sign ruled by Venus. This planet represents the principle of beauty and pleasure, as well as abundance and fertility. The energy of Venus is strong this month as this planet makes important contacts with other planets, inviting them into alliance. On May 15, Venus enters Taurus and stays for a little over three weeks, leaving on June 9. Venus and Mars make a special connection this month as well. Mars enters Taurus on May 11 and makes a conjunction with Venus on May 23. The last time these two planets came together was in 2010, the next time will be 2013, and they have not joined together in Taurus since 2009. Mars and Venus represent the pulsating dyadic energies of life. Mars pursues and Venus invites. Through this dance we experience life more fully, more abundantly. What are you longing to have in your life? What are you willing to invite in? This month is an excellent time to explore what your soft animal body already knows it loves. 

The New Moon chart shows a line up of planets in Aries. Mars rules Aries, giving us a hint at the passionate nature of this sign. With Mercury retrograding through Aries last month, perhaps you noticed frustration in moving forward with attaining your heart’s desire. Now that Mercury is moving direct, it is easier to let the renewing energies of spring move us toward what we truly want, perhaps even surprising us in the ways we are willing to take risks or break old patterns to do so. This sense of fresh beginning flows soon into the languorous enjoyment of Taurus when Mars enters that sign on May 11 while at the same time Venus is conjunct expansive Jupiter in Aries.

A chance for magic. In honor of Venus this month, perhaps you’d like to try a little spellwork dedicated to what your soft animal body loves. Caroline Casey offers a wonderful Venus spell in her book, Making the Gods Work for You.  I love Casey’s book because it is written with great, galumphing spirit and also includes practical magic to try at home to cultivate relationship with the planet gods. Friday, May 13th would be an auspicious day to try this spell for several reasons. For one, it occurs in the month of Taurus when Venus is already happy. For another, all Fridays are sacred to Venus. The name for Friday comes from another love goddess, Freya. And the 13th day of the month is significant in working with the divine feminine principal. This number has gotten the reputation of being unlucky, but that may be due in part to its association with the number of Moon cycles in a year and the association that the Moon has with witches.

Casey says this spell is done to invoke the beloved, whoever or whatever that may be for you. She writes, “Take a round piece of bread, such as a roll, make a hole in it, and put a nickel inside (the number five, represented by the nickel is sacred to Venus). On top of the nickel, place a little piece of paper on which you have written the qualities you desire in your beloved. Put a little bit of honey on top of that, for obvious symbolic reasons, then place a short yellow candle in the hole. Light the candle.” Casey recommends enjoying ourselves with Venusian pleasure as the candle burns. To complete the spell, you may want to ritualistically release it into flowing water or burn it in a fire. Whatever you decide, it would be good to honor Venus while doing so with a clear spoken statement about your beloved.

A few days later at the Full Moon, it will be interesting to see what you have noticed in your life concerning love and pleasure. Full Moons bring illumination. The Moon will be in dark and sexy Scorpio while the Sun is in solid and sensuous Taurus. Scorpio contributes intensity and depth reminding us that love and beauty are the primary forces of life. It will be a very good thing to spend time in nature this month, observing how that world expresses love and pleasure, for after all we are animals too.

Jupiter completes its year-long transit of Aries this month. Next month on June 4th, Jupiter enters Taurus for a year. Wherever Jupiter is, opportunity and expansion follow. The work we do this month to cultivate better relationship with our soft animal bodies will align with Jupiter’s mission to seek for and explain life’s principal meanings. We shift from the stories of bold individualism (Aries) to the sustaining stories of body wisdom (Taurus). Not only are we encouraged to let our soft animal bodies love what they love, we are encouraged to understand more deeply how this animal connection gives us answers to many of the problems we face today. Let us invite that wisdom!

Transits important to our stories.*

May 9 Mercury conjunct Venus at 22° Aries
May 11 Mars enters Taurus
May 11 Venus conjunct Jupiter at 24° Aries
May 11 Mercury conjunct Jupiter at 24° Aries
May 12 Mars at 0° Taurus sextile Neptune at 0° Pisces
May 15 Venus enters Taurus
May 15 Mercury enters Taurus
May 16 Mercury conjunct Venus at 0° Taurus
May 16 Mercury at 0° Taurus sextile Neptune at 0° Pisces
May 16 Venus at 0° Taurus sextile Neptune at 0° Pisces
May 18 Mars at 5° Taurus sextile Chiron at 5° Pisces
May 19 Mercury at 5° Taurus sextile Chiron at 5° Pisces
May 20 Venus at 5° Taurus sextile Chiron at 5° Pisces
May 20 Mars at 7° Taurus trine Pluto at 7° Capricorn
May 20 Mercury at 7° Taurus trine Pluto at 7° Capricorn
May 21 Venus at 7° Taurus trine Pluto at 7° Capricorn
May 23 Venus at 9° Taurus conjunct Mars
May 23 Mercury at 10° Taurus quincunx Saturn at 10° Libra
May 24 Venus at 10° Taurus quincunx Saturn at 10° Libra
May 25 Mars at 10° Taurus quincunx Saturn at 10° Libra

*These dates are not a complete list of transits for the month, but rather are times when the themes of these stories are stronger. Each aspect between planets carries its own energy of harmony or conflict. These shifting relationships create the plotlines of our stories. These are:
Conjunction – merging
Sextile – encouraging
Square – challenging
Trine – harmonizing
Quincunx - perplexing

Friday, April 1, 2011

New Moon April 3, 2011: Working without a safety net

What can we learn from a daffodil? Now, at the end of a long Minnesota winter I am inspired by the daffodil’s audacity as it pushes its way past last year’s leaf rubble with tender/strong green fingers, up into an unknown future. Will the air be warm enough? Will sleet or hail or snow crush the new growth? Or will a too harsh Sun burn its newborn leaves before they’ve had a chance to harden? Our world is full of uncertainty. Dire warnings are coming at a constant staccato tempo. Yet, there is a part of the human spirit that is like this daffodil that pushes forward in spite of these things. The archetype of Aries captures this aspect of the human spirit well. Aries is the energy of spring’s boldness mixed with naïve vulnerability. Aries is one of the most important stories of the moment. The flaws and gifts that Aries possesses and mirrors back to each of us whether we have Aries planets or not, are part of the vital lessons we need to understand as we also push our way into an unknown future.

The Aries individual mirrors taking risks, not because she is confident of success but because she has to. Working without a safety net is both a frustrating and inspiring fact of life for an Aries. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a back up plan? Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a little assurance that everything will turn out well in the end? Then, it might not be so hard to step out into the strong currents of life and give it our all. But that is not what Spring teaches and that is not what the world is promising us right now. The world is calling us into our most daring and brilliant selves to become this very current of being, this impulse to be. No safety nets in this circus.

Yet, back to the daffodil before my metaphors threaten to implode. Under ground, the daffodil has a secret storehouse—a big fat bulb that it draws upon for survival. Do you have a secret storehouse? What keeps you centered in the flow? Believing in the impossible? Delighting in what life offers? These things are not assurances that Spring will provide us the perfect environment for growth, but they help us to adapt to a rapidly changing, unpredictable world. I think of this bulb as the storehouse of my practices—all the actions I take to be mindful, compassionate, and open to learning. Whatever your practices, we each need the accumulated effort of intention that lives deep inside us for sustenance and support.

The New Moon chart shows a powerhouse of Aries energy. Mars, the ruler of Aries, is conjunct Uranus; Jupiter is only two degrees away from the Sun and Moon at 13° Aries; and Mercury is moving retrograde through Aries for most of the month. So, there’s that. In addition, a stationary Pluto provides extra tension to all this from the Capricorn perspective. I think it is important to remember that while Pluto’s job is to uncover hidden and toxic secrets, it is also about recovering vitality and power. If Aries is new growth, Pluto in Capricorn challenges us to take that mission seriously. We need to be daring however scary it may feel. Saturn in Libra is exactly opposite the Sun and Moon. Oppositions provide perspective and a necessary balancing of forces. Another important part of the story to pay attention to is Saturn’s mission in the relationship sign of Libra. The balance of relationship may be the secret storehouse that allows us to move forward into this Spring.

Saturn’s mission in Libra. As the earth teeters under the impact of natural and human actions, we need to cultivate relationship, not only with our fellow humans but with all beings, especially those from the realms of nature: the elementals, the green bloods, the mineral kingdoms, microbes, and animals. Saturn emphasizes the work we need to do. As it transits Libra, this work is around relationship. Relationships bring comfort, but they also bring struggle, the right kind of struggle that keeps us in balance with ourselves and the world. To be in relationship is to feel the pushback of the other. Aries wants to define the Self. That Self needs relationship in order to know its boundaries, obligations, and potential. Cultivating relationship with other beings requires listening to the other, acting with integrity within the relationship, and bringing a sense of deep enjoyment and gratitude to the relationship. I do not think this is airy, fairy stuff. I know that humans can and must be in relationship to rivers, air, trees, and birds. We must know our place in this world to be in balance with it.

The Full Moon is a time to realize the balance between Aries and Libra. At this time Saturn opposes Mars. Saturn grounds the Martian impulsivity. I want to pay attention to the military actions in Libya. If Mars represents the quick action to go to war, Saturn represents the cost and accountability of that action. Mercury moving retrograde reminds us that our first impressions are never enough. How do we consciously cultivate wisdom? All the firey energy of this month is cooled somewhat by the god of the oceans, as Neptune enters Pisces. Chiron and Venus, both in Pisces also, add to the soulful lure of dreaming, intuition, and emotions. Aries invites us to action. Pisces opens us to receptivity. This is another very important dynamic to pay attention to. Empathy is a necessary component to relationship. These planets encourage deeper, mystical connection.

Transits important to our stories.*

April 4 Neptune enters Pisces
April 6 Sun conjunct Jupiter 16°Aries
April 9 Pluto stations retrograde 7° Capricorn
April 9 Mercury (retrograde) conjunct Sun 19° Aries
April 11 Mars 7° Aries square Pluto 7° Capricorn
April 11 Mercury (retrograde) conjunct Jupiter 17° Aries
April 17 Full Moon 27° Libra
April 18 Mars 12° Aries opposite Saturn 12 Libra
April 19 Mercury (retrograde) conjunct Mars 13° Aries
April 20 Venus enters Aries
April 22 Venus conjunct Uranus 2° Aries
April 23 Mercury stations direct 12° Aries
April 27 Venus 7° Aries square Pluto 7° Capricorn
April 30 Venus 11° Aries opposite Saturn 11° Libra
April 30 Mars conjunct Jupiter 22° Aries

*These dates are not a complete list of transits for the month, but rather are times when the themes of these stories are stronger. Each aspect between planets carries its own energy of harmony or conflict. These shifting relationships create the plotlines of our stories. These are:
Conjunction – merging
Sextile – encouraging
Square – challenging
Trine – harmonizing
Quincunx - perplexing

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Moon March 4, 2011: Swimming in two directions

I am noticing ambivalence. As I sit down to write about this next lunar cycle, I lose interest or get distracted by something else. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I am no longer in love with astrology. I am. My practice with astrology continues to anchor me in the qualities I want to have in my life—self-awareness, intentionality, and connection to Mystery. All that is still there, yet I am noticing right now that it seems like an effort to engage with what usually brings me joy and purpose. As I struggle with this, wondering where my inspiration is, it occurrs to me that this is the work of the month. My ambivalence is part of the natural cycle mirrored by astrology’s symbols.

Pisces is the starring energy of this New Moon. The constellation shows two fish, connected by a cord, swimming in different directions. Ambivalence, being pulled in two directions with no particular fire or heat to encourage one over the other, is a Pisces signal to tune into what we need on a more diffused level of consciousness. Water signs connect us to soul. The Pisces connection to soul develops a new sense of boundary, an ability to be aware of multiple levels and multiple points of view. Our souls need this connection and access to Mystery. Sometimes, even holding intention for what we want to manifest in our lives is inappropriate. Sometimes we are meant to drift in seemingly contrary directions.

Where will this drifting lead us? I wish I could say there were guarantees—that if we surrender to the soul’s longing and let go, we will always end up in a better place. This isn’t always true. Some of us get lost. [I am thinking about Charlie Sheen with Saturn and Chiron in Pisces in his natal chart.] For some, the return looks impossible. Yet this experience, so clothed in Mystery and unique purpose, cannot be judged by ordinary standards. These lines from a Rumi poem keeps surfacing for me:

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!

On this sea journey, if we do not entirely lose ourselves, then we may find a balm for the soul in a secret place intended just for us. Only we can know that this medicine will restore us. No one else can tell. This month, it might look like we are escaping, wasting time, sleeping too much. It might look like we are depressed or isolating ourselves. It might look like losing direction and motivation. It could be any of these things, and it could be just the balm we need, the secret medicine that restores the soul. And here is the other scary thing—we might not know right away whether what we are feeling is all of these debilitating things or if it is the secret medicine, until we awaken on the other side of Pisces.

One thing I do know, and I’ve learned this from studying astrology, Spring’s renewal requires us to pay attention to the listless space before we are called back into purpose, will, and intention. We need a rest before we can know the next steps and muster the vital energy.

This month, the Piscean siren call to drift and dream will be punctuated by spikes of impulsivity and urgings to coalesce into responsibilities and burdens. What if we entertained the thought that the impulsivity and burdens will only create more unhappiness for us unless we also allow ourselves the sea journey into Mystery? What if we tried to hold everything and nothing all at once? Would it look or feel like two fish, tethered and swimming in different but somehow connected directions? I invite you to experiment with this consciousness this month.

Planet stories of the month. This New Moon chart shows Chiron, Mars, Sun, Moon, Mercury ,and Uranus spanning the entire sign. Chiron has been floating around the end of Aquarius and the beginning of Pisces for a year; now it will stay in this sign until 2018. The ingress of an outer planet into a sign calls our attention to this energy. Chiron, whose teachings are about healing, wisdom, and wounding, has a strong presence in this empathetic sign. Every time our hearts crack open, we are able to bring more connection and more healing to the world. Mars stays in Pisces for most of this month. When the warrior planet enters Aries on April 1, we may feel that spike of impulsivity and impatience. Along with that small spike, Uranus contributes its share of electricity when this planet finally enters Aries after cruising the cusp between Pisces and Aries for the past 9 months. I’ve written a lot about this transit in past months. See last month’s blog for one. The larger Pisces story involves Neptune, the modern ruler of Pisces. Neptune will also be transiting the zone between signs this next year —the cusp between Aquarius and Pisces. The last time Neptune entered its own sign was in 1847-48. We can look back at events of that time to make some assumptions about what Neptune may bring us this time. Interestingly, The Communist Manifesto was published in 1848. [Uranus was also in Aries at that time.] With the issue of unions featuring strongly in the news, perhaps we will see a resurgence of collective action. Coupled with the revolutionary energy of Uranus we may not see this issue go away anytime soon.

Saturn has been quietly occupying the middle degrees of Libra for the past few months, not making any major aspects with other planets. This changes as Jupiter moves into the middle degrees of Aries, opposing Saturn. The issues of selfhood vs. partnership will strengthen, especially at the Full Moon. Oppositions are actually great times to integrate qualities that support each other. If Saturn is calling us into more responsible relationships, Jupiter is asking us to know and assert ourselves well enough to encourage equal partnership in those relationships.

A few days after the Full Moon, the Sun enters Aries. The Aries Ingress chart set for Washington is a picture of what we can expect energetically in our country this Spring. The Sun is exactly conjunct Uranus in Aries, and the Moon is conjunct Saturn in Libra. This looks like a powerful opposition between forces of change and the forces that stand for balance and stability. Due to the more angular position of the Sun and Uranus, it looks like the forces of change will stronger. Energy, perhaps anxiety, mounts this month. But we still can recall the Piscean lure to let go, to rest, and to trust in an inner guidance system that makes no sense but knows more than we do about sea journeys. The month ends with another twist. Mercury in Aries turns retrograde. Traveling backwards may get us farther than we think.

Transits important to our stories.*
March 9 Mercury 29 Pisces conjunct Uranus
March 9 Mercury enters Aries
March 11 Uranus enters Aries
March 15 Mercury 11° Aries conjunct Jupiter
March 18 Mercury 15° Aries opposite Saturn 15° Libra
March 20 Sun enters Aries – the first day of Spring
March 21 Sun 0° Aries conjunct Uranus
March 26 Venus 29° Aquarius conjunct Neptune
March 27 Venus enters Pisces
March 28 Jupiter 14° Aries opposite Saturn 14° Libra
March 29 Venus 3° Pisces conjunct Chiron
March 30 Mercury stations retrograde 24° Aries
April 1 Mars enters Aries

*These dates are not a complete list of transits for the month, but rather are times when the themes of these stories are stronger. Each aspect between planets carries its own energy of harmony or conflict. These shifting relationships create the plotlines of our stories. These are:
Conjunction – merging
Sextile – encouraging
Square – challenging
Trine – harmonizing
Quincunx - perplexing

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Moon February 2, 2011: Got a revolution, got to revolution

Sitting at my desk in Minnesota, snow quietly falling, creating a hush over everything, I can only imagine what being in the streets of Cairo must be like right now. As a woman of European descent, living a fairly privileged life, I can only wonder what the struggle for freedom means for one of the oldest cultures in the world. Our realities are separate; I know that. But we are also connected. There is a spirit to this uprising and a universal longing for justice in it, that I understand. Sometimes, images and sounds from half way across the world can reach across our differences and tell us about common dreams. In those times I begin to hope that change is possible. And even though the uprising in Egypt is inspiring, I send prayers that the struggle ends soon with peace and freedom instilled into their daily lives.

We live in revolutionary times. Astrological patterns of the moment support this. We are on the cusp of change. I choose to approach this change in the most conscious way I can, while learning my part in creating the world I dream of.

Being a revolutionary. I am not an expert, but it makes sense to me that the root of revolution must be in living an authentic life—whether that life is a quiet one tending the home and raising children; a public one of organizing and meetings; an interrupted life, when revolution is thrust upon us; or a confrontational, challenging life of asking hard questions and holding leaders accountable. There are many ways to be a revolutionary, but all of them include self-reflection so that we may know our true selves and our responsibility in making the world we dream about.

Perhaps there is a cosmic scale we are meant to weigh ourselves in. On one side we fill the scale with the answers to these questions: What is my authentic truth? How do I live in accordance with that truth? On the other side of the scale, these questions reside: What is the authentic truth of those who are not like me?  How do I make room for or reach across the differences of other individuals, nationalities, races and classes, who are very different from me? When I shift awareness to another point of view, I see my own inherent contradictions and paradoxes more clearly. Knowing others leads me to knowing myself. Knowing myself, I become a revolutionary.

The New Moon in Aquarius invites us into a practice of self-knowledge and revolution. This lunar month begins with the electric energy of Aquarius—pouring forth a fountain of fresh ideas and inspiration. The lunar month ends with the release and reverie of Pisces filling our hearts and erasing divisions—needed balm for our souls.

The New Moon chart sets the pattern for this month. The Sun and Moon are conjunct Mars. Mars in Aquarius is the White Knight charging in to save the day, especially if the means of salvation can be novel and unexpected. This Mars has great zeal to instigate change. The grounding trine to Mars from Saturn will hopefully give us the focus we need to act effectively. The ruler of Aquarius, Uranus, is square to Venus. If Mars is the Knight, Venus is the Lady of Inspiration. The Star card in Tarot represents Aquarian inspiration pouring down. If that cup of inspiration has felt dry over the past few weeks, now it begins to flow with the anticipation of change coming our way.

The sky stories. Everything around us tells a story. The stars are no different. In fact, they are especially good at telling stories that reveal important things about being human. Every New Moon is an opportunity to re-story our lives inspired by the stars. Are you being moved to take heroic action? Do you long for change? Are you searching for your authentic truth? Are you ready for an outpouring of inspiration? The transits this month involving Mars tell a story about the hero of change, his challenges, lessons, and transformations as the energy of Aquarius gives way to Pisces near the end of this lunar cycle. The transits involving Venus are about inspiration, which deepens in the first part of the month and then at the end bursts from the overflowing cup when Venus enters Aquarius. 

The shift from Aquarius to Pisces emphasizes taking ideas and inspirations from the head space to the heart space. The Full Moon on February 18 happens on the cusp of Aquarius and Pisces. Cusps are doorways holding equally what is passing and what is to come. This liminal space is a time to open consciousness—to feel the paradox that leads to illumination. Two squares are added to this energy, making it interesting and potent. Jupiter in Aries squares Pluto in Capricorn. Jupiter expands; Pluto reveals. This Full Moon has the potential to reveal secrets. The revelation contributes to the revolutionary energy of these times.  Saturn in Libra squares Venus in Capricorn. This is the energy of deepening our source of inspiration. Every inspiration carries a responsibility to that beauty. Commitment creates possibility.

Next month, Uranus enters Aries for the next seven years. There will be no spectators; every one of us will all be called on to become revolutionaries. The stirrings of truth and self-knowledge we experience this month have the potential to teach us important things about this journey.

Transits important to our stories.*

February 3 Venus 29° Sagittarius sextile Chiron 29° Aquarius
February 3 Venus enters Capricorn
February 4 Sun conjunct Mars 15° Aquarius
February 6 Mars 17° Aquarius trine Saturn 17° Libra
February 6 Venus 2° Capricorn square Jupiter 2° Aries
February 8 Chiron enters Pisces
February 9 Venus conjunct Pluto 6° Capricorn
February 17 Sun conjunct Neptune 28° Aquarius
February 18 Full Moon 29° Aquarius
February 18 Venus 16° Capricorn square Saturn 16° Libra (mutual reception)
February 18 Sun enters Pisces
February 20 Mercury conjunct Mars 28° Aquarius
February 20 Mars conjunct Neptune 28° Aquarius
February 21 Mercury enters Pisces
February 22 Mercury conjunct Chiron 0° Pisces
February 22 Mars enters Pisces
February 24 Mars conjunct Chiron 1° Pisces
February 25 Jupiter 7° Aries square Pluto 7° Capricorn
March 1 Venus 29° Capricorn sextile Uranus 29° Pisces
March 1 Venus enters Aquarius
March 3 Mars 7° Pisces sextile Pluto 7° Capricorn

*These dates are not a complete list of transits for the month, but rather are times when the themes of these stories are stronger. Each aspect between planets carries its own energy of harmony or conflict. These shifting relationships create the plotlines of our stories. These are:
Conjunction – merging
Sextile – encouraging
Square – challenging
Trine – harmonizing
Quincunx - perplexing