November 27, 2013
Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving, and as I reflected on what to write for the week, I remembered a previous column that said best what still seems relevant about this holiday. A day set aside for gratitude is not unique to the United States of America. A festival or ritual designed to give thanks for the harvest of the year is universal, a fundamental element of the human experience. Despite our political and religious differences, the United Peoples of Planet Earth share the same concerns, hopes, and dreams.
November 26, 2003
Tomorrow, we celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving. It’s a big holiday, here, in the States. And while it’s probably a politically incorrect tradition, and like most modern rituals, mired in commercialism, setting aside a day to give thanks is still a good idea. Many of us don’t take enough time to be thankful. Minds tend to focus on what’s missing, or wrong, or what the future will be. The vicissitudes of daily life, the hardship of the human condition, make it difficult to be truly present. We struggle to survive, and if we’re surviving, we’re longing to feel fulfilled. Even those satisfied that their work has meaning, are trying to cope with the repetitive monotony of daily life. The grind of existence doesn’t lend itself easily to gratitude, which is why a day devoted to giving thanks is a potent notion. It’s an opportunity to call “time out,” turn off the negative tapes of grasping, and take stock. A day dedicated to gratitude is a chance to readjust our view. To be grateful is to be humble. And humility is powerful. It softens, it opens, and it allows us to take a deeper, more real, resonant breath. Humility is an essential and necessary component of being a spirit in the material world.
Unfortunately, the essence of gratitude is often lost in the emotional tumult of family gatherings. Often those old sticky family issues seem to bake right along with the turkey, and the pressure to have a “good” time sometimes turns the feast into a fiasco. This Thanksgiving is a little tricky when it comes to maintaining the peace.
Please note: Thanksgiving 2003, a Mars/Pluto square stirred the caldron of interaction. This year, 2013, the emotional volatility of the day is driven by the Moon, as it transits Libra all day long, opposing Uranus, and simultaneously squaring Pluto, triggering the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square. Fortunately, Jupiter, which could be deemed the symbol for gratitude, trines Mercury, the symbol for the many dimensions of the mind, and as they unite in a positive alliance, we experience a strong capacity for common sense. This configuration is also the source of humor. Jupiter signifies laughter, and when it combines with Mercury, quick wit takes hold. Just be aware that Mercury’s position, in Scorpio, is certain to turn some of the “stand up” pointy with sarcasm. Aim your barbs at those who can endure being mocked.
No combination in astrology is inherently negative. As is often said, the stars incline, they do not compel. But spirits lost in the material world do tend to react to strong energetic currents, especially around the holidays when we want so very much to be happy.
Make Thanksgiving a ritual of gratitude. Put aside personal agendas and ancient grievances, and refuse to let arrogance, yours or others, dominate the day. Let humility clear your vision. Take that humble breath, open your heart, and be thankful for the gift of life. We are so small and the Great Mystery is so vast, so unknowable, and so truly powerful, even more powerful than the stars—how could we be anything but humble before its Presence? Take that breath, the breath of life, and allow a day devoted to humility to strengthen the soul and nourish your spirit.
November 20, 2013
It’s an industrial strength astral week, and as a strong “get it done” planetary signature energizes the atmosphere, you’re likely to feel an equally strong desire to move mountains. Have at it—there’s enough of whatever it is that’s needed—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual stamina—to work as hard as necessary to actualize ambitions, whether they are career goals or celebration preparations. For those not inclined toward external enterprise, the same powerful potential can be put to good use reflecting on what’s felt like an extremely long year. The busy beavers and workaholics can also aim this mighty force toward a prolonged introspection—if they can find the time. It’s six weeks to the start of the calendar New Year; four weeks to the Winter Solstice, which some of us view as the true New Year, and as the gap closes on the future, reflecting on the past could prove a worthy endeavor.
The source of this week’s planetary power is a Jupiter/Saturn trine, with Mars in the middle, forming a sextile to both—a completely positive configuration that fosters confidence. Mars symbolizes energy, and it thrives on activity. Mars is currently in Virgo, where its efforts can be focused on the diligent and methodical attention to detail that’s required to achieve excellence in any field. Jupiter represents the principle of expansion and good fortune. Currently in Cancer, Jupiter’s presence is focused on an abundance of feelings, particularly the longing to belong—it’s all about home and family. Saturn signifies concentration, and as it transits Scorpio, its perseverance can be felt through the desire to probe the depths of any obstacles that might prohibit knowledge and understanding.
Be prepared to work harder—yes, even harder than you already are—and also anticipate that exertion to feel good. Embrace it. If you hit a snag, try to breathe through it. And above all be grateful for the opportunity to move some energy in a positive, productive way. Many of us have made great progress this year, but some of those efforts required an enormous exertion of will. This week, all efforts are supported—a welcome change, and for some, a great relief. And even though there probably won’t be time, try to spend some of this positive energy on acts of kindness. You can never be too busy for compassion and its beneficial effects.
November 13, 2013
The planets align in positive patterns this week, and as they do, a thousand threads of intention, motivation, and consequence have a chance to find beneficial expression. I can feel that smile from here, because, yes, this is good news, so good, you probably won’t even notice the emotional tumult that also ripples across personal and political interactions. Daily routines seem regular for the first time in a while, and that mundane, yet much-welcomed stability, has the potential to boost an optimistic outlook. Of course there are still areas of desperate struggle, individual and collective, that require conscious effort to remedy. Fortunately, the planets also promote altruistic action to help those in need. Use the power of the week to make a difference in your life as well as the lives of others, loved ones and strangers, and you’ll engage in the best possible manifestation of this influence.
The first source of positive potential is a Sun/Jupiter trine—one of my most favorite astrological combinations, because it is fundamentally funny. Both the Sun and Jupiter are in Water Signs: The Sun is in Scorpio and Jupiter is in Cancer. Neither of these Signs is known for being silly, but Jupiter’s presence makes up for that, especially when it works with Scorpio’s sardonic wit. Water Signs symbolize feelings, so please go gentle while mocking your fellow travelers—laughter at the expense of others tends to have lingering negative side effects.
Both the Sun and Jupiter sextile Mars, stimulating a keen desire to succeed and the physical and/or mental strength and stamina to reach those goals. Don’t be afraid to strive; even if you need to make adjustments, your efforts will be well met.
Mercury Direct is gaining momentum, and as it moves “forward” it continues to trine Neptune, another positive configuration that stimulates the imagination. Mercury represents the multidimensional qualities of the mind. Neptune is the symbol for altered states of consciousness, from the lowest forms of drug and alcohol addicted states to the highest realms of mystical experience. And when the mental might of Mercury combines with Neptune’s capacity for fantasy, anything is possible.
Mercury Direct also sextiles the ongoing Venus/Pluto conjunction, in Capricorn. This, too, is a positive interaction. (Hmmm…how many times have I used that phrase to describe this week? At least enough to make up for all the times I seem to never use it.) The Venus/Pluto conjunction began on November 10 and lasts until November 21—it’s brief, but potent. When Venus and Pluto share the same space, zealous devotion rules relationship choices, and obsession over rides objectivity. From Mercury’s perspective, conversation is the most powerful aphrodisiac—as in all that talk will actually get you everywhere. But don’t make promises you can’t keep. Uranus squares that Venus/Pluto conjunction, and its volatile influence could turn the fire of infatuation cold as ice. Remember the Venus/Uranus rule: Marry in haste; repent at leisure.
It’s a good week for making progress, even if progress happens in small increments. It’s also a great week for being generous of spirit. So when possible, add to the positive air by helping those less fortunate. A kind gesture has the power to work wonders.
November 6, 2013
We’re in the wake of several powerful astral waves this week. And as your small, medium, or large craft of regular routines hits the hard waters of these shifts, you could find yourself wishing to stay suspended in midair, rather than deal with the uncertainty of where you are and/or how to land safely after you get your bearings. For some of us, the solar eclipse of November 3 revealed a mother lode of previously hidden and difficult to digest information. Even if you suspected “all along” that something was “wrong,” being confronted with a harsh or unsavory secret reality can shock the soul and rattle its foundation—and recovering solid psychic ground could take a long time. For others, the ongoing intensity of the Uranus/Pluto squares—whose mantra should be “grow we must”—is reaching maximum load capacity and the idea of reframing one more hardship as a “growth opportunity” is simply out of the question. Expect just about everyone to be either shouting, chanting, murmuring, or mumbling, “enough already.” But no matter how hard some of us might wish for a different astral alignment, the Uranus/Pluto challenge persists.
This week, a Sun/Saturn conjunction in Scorpio sets a sober tone. Sun/Saturn contacts are always about limitations and boundaries, but they are also fundamentally about discernment. Saturn’s critical eye, when used to its best capacity, symbolizes the ability to see clearly, unencumbered by a superfluous or secondary cause. And while the conjunction can manifest as depression or pessimism, it can just as easily lead to a deep and penetrating understanding of the many aspects of a difficult situation. Do your best to keep your head above these deep waters by refusing to indulge in negative thinking or negative finger pointing. Try not to relax into divisive judgment—blaming will only exacerbate polarization and prolong the process of transformation.
And of course, there’s more: Several emotional currents send ripples across the seas of conscious living. For the next two days, November 6 and 7, the Moon moves into a conjunction with Pluto as well as a square to Uranus. The Moon signifies emotions, and as she engages with the volatile interaction of Uranus and Pluto, we are bound to see more than a few temper tantrums or moody meltdowns. Try to be especially sensitive to children; they often feel the intensity of these planetary interactions but don’t have the language to express what they are up against. Grown ups should avoid devolving into petty arguments that are just an excuse to blow off steam. Step away from the “vehicle” and just breathe until you feel yourself settling down. Simply do your best not to get snared.
Jupiter goes retrograde shortly after midnight (Eastern Standard Time) on November 7 and stays retrograde until March 6. During this four-month retrospective, many of us will be reviewing decisions made since August 2013. There’s no need to be anxious about Jupiter Retrograde. Jupiter is a mostly benign presence, although its excesses often produce messy situations that don’t return to moderation without consistent effort. Notice where you may have gone to extremes, and let the retrograde help you to restore balance.
Jupiter’s “turnaround” coincides with Mercury Direct on November 10 (Was that roar a huge sigh of relief rolling through the ethers?), and although Mercury and Jupiter are not in contact with one another, their “course corrections” could be the source of an uneven pace. This would not be a good week to try and get something new started. If you can, wait until Mercury is moving ahead, free from encumbrances of any kind.
October 30, 2013
It’s an extreme week. The planets align in tight formations, and while there’s plenty of support for the necessary courage, stamina, and determination to handle the stress of these astral dynamics, many of us are still likely to experience real tests of strength—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—as we struggle to tolerate the intensity. Coping won’t be easy, especially if you’re being asked to release reliable routines or relationships that no longer have a place or serve a higher purpose. Don’t be surprised if you experience a deep sense of loss. Not only is it seasonally appropriate to let go, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere, where the days grow increasingly dark, but this is also the time of year when we take stock, sort through the garden we’ve grown, and reflect on what needs to be left behind and tilled under in preparation for the stillness of winter and the renewal of spring.
On Friday, November 1, the fourth in a series of seven Uranus/Pluto squares is exact and separating, marking the midpoint of cycle that began in June 2012 and ends in March 2015. This square takes place at 9 degrees 26 minutes Aries and Capricorn. As many of you already know, Uranus/Pluto contacts signify upset and upheaval. Pluto is the planet of transformation, symbolizing the inevitable, uncontrollable, and often uncomfortable, process of change. Uranus also represents transformation, but only those sudden shifts in stagnant systems, personal or collective, that are seemingly unforeseen and therefore surprising. The Uranian mantra is “something’s gotta give,” hence its reputation for revolution. When these two celestial change agents combine forces, terrestrial rhythms turn chaotic.
One of the consequences of that chaos is a tendency to “flip out” (a highly technical term) and this is one way to explain why so many normally sane people seem to be going crazy. And why wouldn’t they? The world has been in the midst of a nervous breakdown for quite some time—the center is long lost, and the best do struggle for conviction, “while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” How are we to know truth from spin, or how to teach our children right from wrong, when we are constantly bombarded by special interests whose motive force is fundamentalist certainty or the acquisition of enough money to buy their own reality rather than co-create it with the rest of us? And it’s not that we don’t have the answers to create a better world. It’s just taking far too long for the 100th monkey to digest and metabolize the message so it can become part of our collective experience.
Significantly, Mars trines Pluto during this fourth exact square, a position that adds a physical component to the possible manifestations of this contact. Anticipate a need to move, as Mars also sextiles the Sun, loading the entire configuration with energy that needs to be spent. What’s more, Mars amplifies the power of will and intention, fueling unbridled ambition, yours or others’. Just be wary of using ruthless measures to achieve your goals. It’s possible that this bristling force could turn antagonist or argumentative, so try to take a deep breath before you come out slugging. From a more positive perspective, Mars has the power to energize a commitment to making a difference in the world—if you’ve always wanted to volunteer, now would be the time.
But that’s not all. Almost immediately, on November 3, a solar eclipse follows the fourth Uranus/Pluto square. When the Moon overshadows the Sun, unconscious concerns trump practical ones, and hidden information is revealed. This eclipse occurs in the deep waters of Scorpio, a Sign that tends toward secrets. Anticipate startling revelations about almost anything, but particularly sexual or political disclosures. Although we may have heard the worst of them already, given that the eclipse shadow can be felt at least six weeks prior or subsequent to the actual event. Angela Merkel’s mobile, perhaps? (On an interesting note, her Mercury is at 9 degrees Cancer; during the fourth exact Uranus/Pluto square, Uranus squares her Mercury as Pluto opposes it. And as we know, Mercury symbolizes communication.)
And there is more: When a planet transits the eclipse sensitive point—in this instance, 11 degrees Scorpio—that passage triggers another facet of the eclipse effect. Mercury, currently retrograde in Scorpio, crosses that point on October 31 as well as November 22. We will have to keep a watchful eye to see what else is revealed.
Saturn, in Scorpio, also plays a role as it conjuncts both Mercury and the Sun during the Uranus/Pluto Square, and the Sun and Moon during the eclipse. Saturn’s presence turns much of the week serious, and while it’s important to pay attention to some of its concerns, it would be equally important not to feel dragged down by the scope of Saturn’s discerning eye. Whether you’re facing personal shifts or you’re working toward a collective vision, try to embrace an optimistic perspective.
Jupiter, the symbol of optimism, doesn’t play a featured role in any of the major events this week. But that doesn’t mean we won’t feel its weight. Jupiter turns retrograde on November 7, a phase that lasts until March 6. Although there may be too many other influences to feel Jupiter’s “turnaround," when you combine its retrograde with the ongoing Mercury Retrograde, as well as the wobbles of the eclipse, managing time won’t be easy. Minutes will seem like hours and hours could go by in a flash. Do your best to stay present, even if that takes tremendous effort.
The overall effect of this week’s planetary patterns is greater than the sum of its parts. And because so many of us are already overloaded by so much intensity, individual and collective, staying steady will require extraordinary concentration. Do your best to maintain a calm approach, and when possible make an extra effort to help your fellow travelers. We are all in this together, even those who can’t help but rock the boat and make trouble. And the more those of us who are working on wholeness and unity make an effort to include those we deem obstructive, the closer we get to finding solutions that might work for all sentient beings.
October 21, 2013
I proclaim before every reading: The planets are not causal, but there are two exceptions to that rule: (1) Mercury Retrograde, and (2) all Uranus interactions. It’s an astrological conundrum. And for the next several weeks, daily life provides plenty of opportunities to live through the paradox.
Mercury’s final retrograde phase of 2013 began on October 21 and ends on November 10. Most of us know too well how to sing the Mercury Retrograde Blues especially the choruses devoted to frustration and angst about computer glitches, travel snafus, and equipment problems. For those of you new to the Retrograde Blues, Mercury symbolizes all things related to communication, as well as negotiations, commerce, and travel. And because Mercury is also known as an infamous trickster, during a retrograde phase, when this quick moving planet appears to be moving backwards, all things under its vast domain tend to go behind instead of ahead. Be prepared for communication damage control. Also anticipate time distortion—simple tasks could take longer than expected, and complex assignments might be finished in a jiffy. Leave yourself plenty of time for your morning commute, even if your office is just around the corner. Try not to initiate any new plans or projects, and if you must, be prepared for lots of delays and detours.
As Mercury retrogrades, it travels in tandem with Saturn, a position that’s sure to turn Mercury’s final review of 2013 more than a little serious. Saturn tends toward the dour, and it’s been a tough year. Do you best to avoid getting mired in regrets, and instead stay focused on what there is to learn. Also try to keep in mind that all of us will be under the influence of this retrograde. So when possible, offer solace and kindness to your fellow travelers. We will all be in need of many kind words, particularly those of us who didn’t know or didn’t have time or simply forgot to back up really important information.
October 14, 2013
This week, there are two major astral configurations to consider. The first is a lunar eclipse on October 18; the second is the final Mercury Retrograde phase of the year that begins on October 21 and continues through November 11. Time distortion is a signature they both share…so don’t despair if you feel a little like the Mad Hatter on Quaaludes. When it comes to an eclipse, we often feel its effect six weeks before or after the actual occurrence; occasionally, its effect is experienced when certain planets transit the eclipse sensitive point, or the zodiacal degree at which it occurs—in this case, 25 degrees/45 minutes along the Aires/Libra axis. During a lunar eclipse, practical concerns become more important than emotional or esoteric interests; conscious, practical matters override unconscious, theoretical concerns, a perspective that often affects priorities: What we can see becomes more important than the underlying causes and conditions.
The Aries/Libra axis symbolizes the relationship alignment: Aries represents the individual, and the need to know oneself as separate and distinct from others. Libra represents balanced intimate interaction between equals. We all have this thread somewhere in our birth charts and we’re all working it as best we can, so let’s be clear that we are all affected by this eclipse, even if we are currently single by choice or circumstance. As I often like to point out, on this planet, everything is relational. And whether we smother our existential anxiety with the constant presence of a significant other or we deny our need for connection with the pretense of self-sufficiency, we are still in relationship. You can be bitter, terrified, numb, negligent, or entitled in your interactions, but in the end, the ability to open your heart to another human being is what matters. As this week unfolds, notice how you interact “with all your relations,” especially those that seem determined to maintain distance at any cost, even their own joy.
Mercury Retrograde also distorts time, often contracting or expanding days, minutes, and hours in a seemingly capricious manner, particularly when it comes to keeping schedules and deadlines on track. Mercury Retrograde is also infamous for all sorts of snafus, especially difficulties related to communication and travel. Mail of every variety tends to go wrong, departures and arrivals become a problem, and equipment set to clocks, digital or otherwise, seems function according to a hidden agenda that bears no relationship to yours. If you haven’t backed up everything now, do it today. If you wait until tomorrow you will violate the 3-day retrograde rule, which states that as Mercury prepares for its “turn around” time gets too mushy to trust with the details of important matters.
The good news is this Mercury Retrograde is characterized by a Mercury/Jupiter trine. Both planets are currently in Water Signs; Mercury is in Scorpio and Jupiter is in Cancer. Mercury rules all things related to the mind; Jupiter is the planet of expansion. And because trines are positive, the whole bundle is likely to manifest as strong intuitional surges, so strong they seem downright psychic. Trust them—at least those that aren’t completely wacky or dangerous. (Translation: Don’t bet the bank at the track or the slots.) What this trine guarantees is a mindset that buoys the spirit with a positive outlook. It’s the perfect antidote to cynicism, something we seem to need in ever increasing doses.
October 9, 2013
Normally at times like this, when it’s all too clear that the inmates are running the asylum and no one is willing to admit that the Emperor has no clothes, I usually pine for the swift wit and biting wisdom of John Lennon. In my imagination, he would cut through the endless loop of hyperbolic spin that allows truthiness to reign supreme, and with a few penetrating words, remind us that war is over if we want it because each of us has the power to change the world—all that’s required is a change of heart. Today is his birthday—73-years old—and I do still miss him.
But I miss my home planet more. Okay…I’m out: I’m an extraterrestrial representative trapped on Earth, with clear mission, but no way to phone home, and as conditions escalate here on the Planet Blue, I’m growing increasingly homesick. Oy! (A truly intergalactic sound of suffering.) On my home planet there is no strife. No one argues about petty differences, and no one would even dream of going to war over major differences. We simply expect as well as respect individual choices, understanding that we will all make choices for the greater good of the many, because everyone actually cares about everyone else, which creates a world of tolerance. Mine is not a planet of evil, parasitic aliens whose modus operandi is to suck the life force out of every other civilization. And it is neither a militaristic, avaricious experiment in power and control nor an Amazon fantasy where the feminine wields power through a masculine framework. It’s a planet of inclusion, a place of peace. I recently explained to a friend that we can hear each other’s thoughts, a bold statement that caused her to ask, “What do you do with your bad/negative thoughts?” “We don’t have any,” I replied, “because we have learned to train our minds and hearts to a higher purpose.” Don’t misunderstand: We have issues at home; we’ve just figured out a way to work through them without killing or harming each other.
Here on Earth the killing and the strife continue. And although this week’s planetary interactions indicate the possibility of clear, intuitive thinking, emotional turbulence is probable, and the spillover could agitate already over-agitated nervous systems. As anxiety levels rise, expect even the coolest of cucumbers to break a sweat. The source of this emotional volatility is a Moon/Uranus/Pluto combination that begins on Thursday, when the Moon enters Capricorn and immediately squares Uranus as it simultaneously conjuncts Pluto. Expect emancipation proclamations of every variety—even the best behaved will protest perceived injustices.
And speaking of the Moon and proclamations, next week on the evening of October 16, the Moon conjuncts Uranus and squares Pluto, as we approach a lunar eclipse on Friday, October 18. Eclipses tend to distort time, so as the week unfolds, you may experience an odd sense of dislocation, a wobble in the “then and now.” What’s more, even though eclipses occur in orderly and predictable intervals, they still tend to disrupt normal routines. Given that the Moon will be in Aries opposite the Sun, in Libra, relationships of every variety are most likely to bear the brunt of this eclipse; the challenge will be figuring out how to engage in relationship without surrendering independence.
The source of clarity this week is building trine between Mercury and Jupiter that kicks in on Saturday and continues until nearly the end of the month—even through the dreaded Mercury Retrograde that begins on October 21. A Mercury/Jupiter trine is a boon because it encourages common sense—something we could use in ever increasing doses.
I’m not going to brag and tell you that on my home planet common sense is the seventh sense, as strong and vital as all the others, and the main reason we are kind to each other in thought, word, and deed. But I am going to stress the value of kindness, especially as the coming weeks unfold. Compassion not only has the power to soothe an anxious soul. It is also crucial to a positive collective outcome. When possible, apply it liberally in all your interactions with your fellow travelers.
October 2, 2013
A tantrum shut down the United States government on October 1, and as we move through the next several days and weeks, the standoff is sure to worsen. From an astrological perspective, the source of this political nervous breakdown is the ongoing, ever-escalating intensity of the Uranus/Pluto squares. We’re in the thrall of the next exact contact, which occurs on November 1, and the mounting fervor and rising fever of this fractious interaction feels like a massive tractor beam of unrelenting intensity pulling us inexorably toward crisis, individual as well as collective.
For those of you new to this astral series, seven exact squares between Uranus and Pluto take place between June 2012 and March 2015. Uranus symbolizes the revolutionary. Pluto represents the process of death and rebirth. Squares signify hard relationships that tend to find both remedy and relief in action. Both planets are in Cardinal Signs—Uranus is in Aries, the Sign of the individual; Pluto is in Capricorn, the Sign of government. And because Cardinal Signs initiate action, sometimes simply for its own sake, daily life has begun to resemble a marathon of extreme conditions, actions, reactions and the all too real consequences of both.
The Sun, in Libra, joined the Uranus/Pluto volatility last week, forming a T-Square. Yesterday, on October 1, contact between the Sun and Pluto was exact. Tomorrow, October 3, the Sun will be exactly opposite Uranus. On October 4, the Moon joins that opposition, ramping-up and amplifying emotional responses to the entire mess. Astrological configurations play out along a spectrum from negative to positive. From a collective perspective, the negative potential of this entire bundle is likely to continue to manifest as fanaticism, driven by an almost brutal, ruthless need for control. The positive potential of this T-Square supports progressive reform that is inspired by a desire to break free from whatever enslaves. From a personal perspective, that need for liberation could motivate unusual choices, some innovative and others, just impulsive. If you are uncertain, stay uncertain. Remember: One possible definition for mental health is “the ability to live comfortably with uncertainty.”
As the coming weeks unfold, the temptation to devolve into meltdowns and tantrums as an immediate solution to frustration or anxiety about your situation will grow increasingly attractive. Rather than devolve, do your best to evolve into a compassionate, patient attitude. Focus obsessive tendencies on preparations for Mercury’s final retrograde of the year, which begins on October 21 and lasts until November 10. Back up everything…now…do not procrastinate because you are fartoost or fermisht because life is fershtoonkeneh and the government is ferkockteh. (It’s Yiddish, and you can look up all the meanings, but it’s not necessary; they are all onomatopoeic for the current state of affairs.)
September 25, 2013
Uranus and Pluto continue to dominate astral affairs this week, and as they persist in questioning authority and challenging the structures of daily life, we continue confronting change. For some of us, regular routines have shifted so dramatically, it’s hard to find solid ground anywhere. For still more of our fellow travelers, finding and maintaining balance, within or without, takes too much effort to stay vital for necessary tasks. And while it’s also true that lots of people are thriving under Uranus and Pluto, for many of those that are, it’s hard staying impervious to the suffering of others. We are in the midst of a revolution that is unrelenting in its demand for evolution and because the battleground is everywhere, “things” are falling apart at an alarming rate. And they will continue to fall apart until we pay more attention to what unites rather than what divides. Don’t misunderstand; I’m not caught in the conceit of cynicism; I’m simply trying to learn from history: Change is possible, but not without monumental shifts in attitudes as well as behavior.
The Sun amplifies the ongoing intensity this week, as it moves into an opposition to Uranus and a square to Pluto, a fractious interaction that operates for the next two weeks; it is exact and separating on October 3. This configuration, known as a T-Square, feeds the souls of zealots as it simultaneously fans the fire of fanaticism, inflaming even the mild mannered to break free from whatever enslaves. And because the Sun is in Libra, the Sign of relationship, this strong force for liberation could inspire more than a few decrees of divorce. If your relationship is on shaky ground, this T-Square will highlight the weaknesses. On the opposite side of the spectrum, it could also loosen the ties that bind to solitude or isolation. Wherever you find yourself along this spectrum, expect to feel motivated to move off of a tried and true position; also be prepared for emotional tremors as others relinquish theirs.
Uranus/Pluto contacts always signify the struggle for social justice. This week, a new movie, Inequality for All, exemplifies that struggle, as it focuses on the widening gap between the rich and the rest of us and the consequences of that chasm. In keeping with chasms, we are also facing the threat of a government shutdown. The last time the Republicans threatened and succeeded in shutting down the government was during a series of Uranus/Pluto sextiles that occurred from 1995-1997.
Old regimes die hard. Whether they are political or personal, material or ethereal, actual or imaginary, the structures that hold reality in place—physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual—do not let go easily. Even change agents, no matter how deeply committed to conscious living, often struggle to release the old in order to make way for the new. Habits have a way of lingering, stereotypes have a way of making themselves invisible, and wisdom tends to ossify, especially when pride supports a lesson well learned but is no longer applicable. It takes tremendous effort to make a different choice.
In the face of inexorable change, many of us cling to what we know, rather than face the free fall of the unknown, forgetting that in the uncertainty of that fall lies the power of transformation.
September 18, 2013
For the last couple of weeks lots of people have been asking if Mercury is retrograde—there have been far too many technology disturbances, missed appointments, and frazzled nerves to blame it on anything else. But Mercury is neither the culprit nor the cause of our current frustration—the final Mercury Retrograde phase of 2013 begins on October 21 and ends on November 10, which means there is still plenty of time to back up every little bit of information. It also isn’t possible to attribute the disruption to Uranus, although the planet of sudden plot twists has been extremely busy instigating, provoking, and stimulating upheaval and upset, as well as unusual new perspectives—Uranus went retrograde on July 17, too far back in recent history to be feeling its effect in September.
Then it hit me…the source of strife is Pluto. Scheduled to go direct on Friday, September 20, Pluto, from an astrological perspective, has been grinding to a halt for the last several weeks in preparation for its course correction. And because Pluto signifies the process of death and birth—not birth and death—many of the daily touchstones we take for granted have been unreliable. Computers (mine died and was reborn on Labor Day), plans and projects, relationships of every variety, personal as well as professional, from marriage to friendship to everything in between have been experiencing seismic shifts. The safety and sanctity of home has also been challenged, and not just for our fellow travelers in flood-ravaged regions, but also for those who lost previously secure leases and are now having to move for a number of unreasonable reasons. And then, of course, persistent financial uncertainty and insecurity continue to be at the epicenter of so much difficulty for so many.
Pluto is in Capricorn, the Sign of stability, structure, and foundational systems. It’s been in Capricorn since January 2008. Currently, Pluto is engaged in a series of seven exact squares with Uranus, a series that began in June of 2012, although we felt it as early as 2011, with the Arab Spring, and the hope it stirred for positive change. Uranus/Pluto contacts are always present during times that are best characterized as revolutionary. The term “Arab Spring” nodded to the revolutions of 1848, sometimes called the Spring of Nations, which also occurred during a Uranus/Pluto cycle from 1945-1856, the exact conjunctions occurred during 1850-51; the Prague Spring of 1968, took place during the Uranus/Pluto conjunction of 1960-1972, after the exact conjunctions of 1965-66. (For those of you confused by the broad time span, I’m using the wide orbs of influence delineated by Rick Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche.)
While we don’t need the stars to tell us that we are in an intense period of individual and personal revolution, it’s interesting to note the threads that run through this particular cycle, if only because that awareness can help to contextualize not just the collective upheaval that threatens the stability of daily life almost everywhere, but also the disruption of so many personal shifts.
When Pluto goes direct on Friday, its “forward” motion moves it into the fourth exact square with Uranus on November 1, 2013; this is the midpoint of the current cycle of squares. That midpoint is only six weeks away—a mere nothing in cosmic time, yet a very long time when lives are in turmoil. Use these weeks wisely by observing where you are experiencing the death and rebirth that only Pluto can facilitate—and, most importantly, where you are resisting that process. What are you clinging to with the greatest tenacity? Chances are that is the very thing you need to release so that something new can be reborn.
September 11, 2013
A Special Note to Readers:
While I was on vacation from the Aquarium Age, I thought a lot about whether I want to continue writing the column each week. I actually added up the words that comprise seventeen years of weeklies and monthlies and it’s somewhere around 1,100,000 words. That’s a lot of words, especially about the same subject. It is not surprising that over the last couple of years I would often find myself writing and thinking, “Didn’t I say that already? I must have.” And I’m sure I have repeated myself far too many times to count.
I have loved writing this column and I have loved how it has written me. Finding ways to express the esoteric through a practical, human framework accelerated my understanding of how to do that in my own life. And I am thankful for that.
I am also thankful for you. The readers of the Aquarium Age are smart, conscious, concerned, and kind human beings who are making an effort to surf the seas of conscious living here on Planet Earth. We are of the same tribe. And I am grateful to have my efforts so well received over the years.
I thought I should stop writing the column. I felt I had run out of things to say—and I may have actually exhausted my creative resources on a weekly astral weather report. I have a slew of reasons, all completely valid, as to why I should stop. But my heart is still too close to the column to let go. So I decided to follow my own advice, advice I am sure I’ve repeated over these many years, and listen to my heart.
So I have reached a compromise position. I will continue to write, but only if I can stretch my creative boundaries to see what satisfies my craving for freedom. I will continue to write the column, but not always in the same format. Sometimes I will omit the advice for individual Signs and other times, I might make the entire column Sun Sign advice. And occasionally, I will write a monthly instead of a weekly and take some time off. I’ll simply see how the muse moves me.
I hope you will continue to enjoy the information shared on these pages.
My very best to all the readers of the Aquarium Age...
This week's column...
It’s not easy to write a column on September 11. It’s a day that still carries too much grief, especially here in New York City. The violence of that attack as well as the violence that has ensued since that day wearies the heart. The attacks of 9/11 shifted the center of cultural gravity. We do not live as we once did. And while there were terrorist attacks prior 9/11, and far too many lives had already been lost, for reasons that do not have to be explained, it became our reference point—our before and after. Recently, an anchor on an early morning television show said that she was sure that everyone remembered where he or she was when Princess Diana died. It was, she said, the JFK moment of her generation. I was startled by her comment. First, that the assassination of a president can be characterized as a moment. But more importantly, her statement made it clear that the center of our cultural paradigm had tilted so much toward celebrity that Diana and JFK could be seen as equals. Don’t misunderstand—the princess was fabulous, and she did great work. But JFK was a world leader and his effect on more than one generation is incalculable. 9/11 would have been the correct equivalent.
So here we are, twelve years later, still reeling from the aftershocks of a new world order that is increasingly run by fundamentalists of every denomination, on every side. Pluto was in Sagittarius on 9/11, opposed by Saturn, in Gemini—a pernicious interaction characterized by fanaticism. Pluto transited Sagittarius from January 1995 through nearly the end of 2008, a journey that brought to light deep fundamentalists currents, currents that have always found their expression as dogma and literalism. Sagittarius symbolizes spiritual pursuits, as well as religious and philosophical traditions; its domain is the search for meaning and truth; its shadow is the fear and the uncertainty that meaning cannot be found. Sagittarius is where we realize that there are many truths—perhaps too many to offer comfort and certainty in the midst of the chaos of existence.
Ultimately, Sagittarius, with its arrows aimed high, urges us to realize that each of us must know our own hearts and minds in order to arrive at the existential certainty we so desperately seek; each of us must seek the reconciliation of heart and mind, body and soul. As Pluto transited Sagittarius, religious fundamentalism—“the one way and one way only” antidote to existential despair—could no longer tolerate the increasing awareness of the diversity of our planet.
Saturn was in Gemini on September 11, 2001, and its placement in the Sign of information and communication can be seen as the symbol of that diversity. Saturn symbolizes structure and limitation. While it can be argued that the “information highway” was already gaining momentum, from a practical point of view, it was still in its early stages. The complexity of what the Internet would become as well as what it would reveal about us was still (and some might argue is still) to be seen. Saturn’s journey through Gemini from August 2000 through June 2003 laid bare the potential of cyberspace to shift systems. On 9/11, as Saturn and Pluto faced-off, the planes came crashing down and with them the systems through which we previously delineated our diverse worlds.
Of course, we grieve the lives lost on that day. But we also grieve the lives lost everywhere that ignorance prevails and fundamentalism, in its efforts to find certainty destroys the wisdom of diversity.
This week, we are in the wake of a Mars/Saturn square, an interaction that also represents violence. The influence of this configuration often hardens hearts toward others but it also can manifests as bitter self-judgment. Rather than devolve into a litany of all that’s wrong with you or someone else, let go. Relieve your inner fundamentalist of its dogmatic insistence on being right. Listen to your opposition. You don’t have to agree with what’s being said, but you also don’t have to react out of fear.
Being non-reactive won’t be easy, especially when it comes to issues of personal and political freedom, because this week, as Mars pulls out of its square to Saturn, it also trines Uranus, a combination known to feed the need for freedom even if that means overriding the freedom of others with sheer brute force. Notice where you want to dominate and control the situation simply to have your own way. And be careful of self-righteous rationalization. People often accuse those who support non-violence as being overly idealistic; dreamers, John Lennon would say. But violence only begets violence, a lesson it seems we almost always fail to learn. Some will argue that violence is simply a component of human nature. That may be true. But so are kindness, compassion, and love.
September 4, 2013
Skins are thin this week, a condition that could cause the slightest criticism—even an observation offered with a loving intention—to be felt as an accusation or an attack. And because of that hypersensitivity, many of us are likely to be more than just a little cranky. Seemingly simple tasks have the potential to become the straws the break the camel’s back, making many meltdowns likely, yours or others’. Unfortunately, because so many of us are facing so many challenges, normally reliable support systems are evaporating at an alarming rate—that shoulder you’ve always been able to lean or cry on is having rotator cuff surgery, and your “rock” may have vanished in an emotional landslide, if not an actual one. I have no idea what the magic mantra is that will remedy the collective or personal psychic chaos, but I think “tolerance” would work for now, especially if it emanates from the openhearted realization that most of us are feeling a deep sense of loss. Whether it’s the death of a loved one, the destruction of a home, the devastation of a sacred place by fire and flood, or the fear of what losses may lie ahead, aggressive attitudes or behaviors are often attempts to mask sorrow in an effort to fortify the soul against a sense of helplessness.
The source of this escalating irritation is a Mars/Saturn square, which is exact and separating on September 9. Mars signifies energy, particularly physical energy. Saturn signifies essence, particularly the distillation of wisdom from experience. And when they clash at a hard angle, Mars often feels Saturn’s presence as persistent restriction. And under Saturn’s inhibiting thumb, Mars grows increasingly melancholy, mean, or destructive. Currently, Mars is in Leo, a no slouch in the drama department Sign that encourages dynamic self-expression. Saturn is in Scorpio, a Sign that likes to mull over the facts at least a dozen times before making a decision. And the clash of these conflicting rhythms often leads to harsh, destructive tests of strength. As you encounter various responses to the psychic as well as physical friction of the week—volcanic or glacial—try to remember that life is not competitive sport.
Despite the stormy astral weather, there are still opportunities to appreciate life’s simple pleasures. So rather than fortify or distance yourself behind a belligerent stance, consider alternative responses that are grounded in the acceptance of a variety of opinions and ideas, responses that will facilitate peace. This is not an easy position to find and to hold on to, especially when polarization seems to be the solution to every disagreement. But if enough of us are determined to give peace a chance, eventually peace will win.
August 14, 2013
It’s a week of ideas, and from concepts to theories to visions to plans, big or small, realistic or ridiculous, malleable or chiseled in stone, minds are reaching beyond their limits. The good news is that this mental intensive provides opportunities to access unconventional solutions to persistent mundane problems. The bad news is that this opportunity doesn’t last for long—it’s over by the weekend. Pardon the cliché, but if you snooze, you lose. So dust off those multidimensional beanies, attach the galactic antennae, and prepare to receive messages. Just be sure to filter your brilliant flashes through your common sense. There are already enough truly crazy ideas being mistaken for truth cluttering the airwaves and we wouldn’t want to add to the mess. Also, try to patient with wacky proposals—plenty of people are going to be suggesting all sorts of schemes. But avoid being smug or dismissive—the sublime could be hidden in the silly.
The source of these brilliant flashes is a Mercury/Uranus trine. Mercury is in Leo, the Sign that symbolizes creative self-expression. Uranus is in Aries, the Sign that symbolizes individuation. Both Leo and Aries are Fire Signs, which are characterized by their dynamic, enthusiastic desire. Mercury represents all the processes of the mind, from memory to visualization, and is, by the way, the only astro action figure that can move between heaven and hell in the blink of the mind’s eye—he is quick and mostly, if not always, fearless. Uranus represents change, and its primary function is to disrupt a stagnant status quo. Trines signify positive interactions, and the combined influence of this duo sparks imagination and ignites creativity.
Jupiter’s ongoing role in the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square continues to dominate daily interactions. Last week, Jupiter opposed Pluto; that opposition was exact and separating on August 7. This week, Jupiter continues its opposition, as it simultaneously moves into a square with Uranus that is exact on August 21. Because Jupiter always signals a surplus, last week’s proclivity toward excess spills over into this week. One way the effect of this opposition can be felt is through issues of safety and security. Jupiter is in Cancer, the Sign of security issues. Pluto is in Capricorn, the sign of the authority—in most cases governments, which in almost every case these days means corporations, banks, and special interests with lots and lots of money. On a personal level, Jupiter’s presence as part of the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square signals power shifts, internal and external, at home or work, or anywhere there is a stagnant imbalance that needs to change.
The exact position of the Jupiter/Pluto opposition on August 7 was 9º 26’ minutes Cancer and Capricorn. The next exact Uranus/Pluto square on November 1 occurs at 9º 26’ Aries and Capricorn. While Jupiter is not a part of the November 1 square, it’s hard to ignore the possibility that what was set in motion on August 7 takes a firmer grip later on. Notice what caused the greatest consternation last week or the greatest excitement, and then see what further developments occur at the end of October or beginning of November. And there’s more. As part of the next Jupiter/Pluto opposition, on January 31, Uranus holds the position of 9º 23’—again, this alignment provides another opportunity to see if there are further related developments. When degrees and minutes line up in this way, I often imagine that planetary interactions work like a huge combination lock and each celestial turn dials up another cosmic click. (It’s what made me love the wheel on Lost.) Here, on Earth, those cosmic adjustments are miniscule and their effect imperceptible until hindsight makes the consequences obvious. I realize the problem with playing astro detective is that so much and too much is happening all the time, which makes it next to impossible to identify the most important themes. Nevertheless, try to limit your choices to key events and/or responses and see if you recognize a pattern.
The Jupiter/Uranus square is exact and separating on August 21. All Jupiter/Uranus combinations are about startling twists of fate, and all week long, many of us are sure to go into a tizzy, as sudden reversals of fortune, positive and negative, alter circumstances, personal as well as collective, reminding us that in the midst of uncertainty, humility is always the wisest stance.
August 7, 2013
Excess is the key to understanding the flux of daily life this week. From the “I deserve to have more than necessary” to the “oh I wish I had everything” to the “I who have nothing” attitudes swing to extremes. Best to be prepared for these shifting moods, yours or others’, to be quite expressive—the Sun is in Leo after all. Also anticipate that reactions to whatever is expressed are certain to be equally dramatic. Also keep in mind that this tendency toward excess easily supports self-indulgence. Minor incidents could morph into major melodramas, and hurt feelings could lead to a lack of restraint. Before you seek revenge, consider the consequences. Yes, yelling at an “idiot” will relieve your immediate frustration, but the effect of that tirade could have an almost eternal afterlife. So rather than say something you might later regret, bite your tongue until it bleeds. This week, kindness is not just the moral high ground; it’s a lifeboat on the stormy seas of conscious living.
Jupiter is the celestial source of our terrestrial, and mostly emotional, extravagance. While Jupiter has been a part of the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square since July 17, this week, Mars is finally far enough away and its presence no longer offers any real interference, all of which makes it possible for Jupiter to grab hold of this volatile interaction. And as a result craving of every conceivable kind simply escalates. Those of us with a prominent natal Jupiter will recognize this signature almost immediately as the “Just leave the bottle, tray, chips, change, or all the rest of the cookies on the table.” Those not normally given to such strong appetites might think something is terribly wrong because they just can’t say “no.”
Jupiter/Pluto combinations feed the ambitions of those longing to be plutocrats, so don’t be surprised if you suddenly experience the need to lord your success over others or have others attempting to lord theirs over you. Neither position will hold for long, especially because the other tendency in Jupiter/Pluto interactions is the tendency to see just where the excess lies. And because Uranus, the astral symbol of revolution, also plays a role in this interaction, the wretched excess of our current capitalist plutocracy is likely to be seen even more clearly—if that’s possible.
But here’s the interesting thing about Jupiter: While it signifies success and lavish extravagance, as well as greed, Jupiter also symbolizes wisdom, and the search for spiritual understanding. Hmmm…how could one symbol seemingly embody such a significant polarization: the material/spiritual axis? I have no actual, tangible evidence as to why ancient astrologers attributed this range to Jupiter (and if anyone reading this does, please share it). But this far-reaching domain of Jupiter’s characteristics seems to be congruent with an idea found cross-culturally that once you have everything—every material need met—you will still encounter the inexorable predicament of the human heart: Only love has ultimate value. And in that moment of realization where love is, actually, the answer, Jupiter sheds its cloak of avarice and craving and becomes the symbol of universal generosity, personifying our interconnected interdependence.
July 31, 2103
The planets continue to dial up the intensity this week, and just like last week, many of us are experiencing strong urges to break free from whatever enslaves, whether those systems are political, emotional, financial, professional, or creative. Expect to feel challenged in all those areas where you’re clinging to structures that have outlived their usefulness and no longer serve individual or collective consciousness. And anticipate that these challenges will continue to be uncomfortable. We are only approaching the midpoint of a nearly three-year astrological sequence of revolution/evolution, symbolized by seven exact Uranus/Pluto squares, an astral signature that signifies social, political, and cultural upheaval. There are no simple ways to make it through these waves of change, but these same powerful forces symbolize the potential to make a deepening commitment to live in greater alignment with what we already know to be true: We are all in this together, and the solutions we must find to our pressing problems need to be inclusive, even if that threatens the status quo. No one succeeds if the rest suffer. The needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the few or the one.
We’ve been in the grip of a pernicious T-square, anchored by Mars, through its opposition to Pluto as well as its square to Uranus. Today, as Mars pulls away, and the tension releases, emotional bodies are sure to spill over, turning the next several days into a flood of feelings. Some of those sentiments need to be expressed, but others may simply be fleeting and reactionary. Watch your words—opinions shared in the fullness of the moment could cause a ripple effect you might later regret.
Jupiter is part of that T-square and even though its presence tends to be benign, at its core, Jupiter amplifies, magnifies and intensifies any situation it participates in. Be prepared for exaggerated positions—hyperbolic claims, inflated stands, and overplayed hands. The necessary skill to handle this Jupiter/Uranus/Pluto excess is a cool attitude and a refusal to engage in overblown expectations. Stick to the facts, even, and especially, if that means relinquishing your ego for the greater good.
That neutrality won’t be easy. By the weekend, the Moon enters Cancer, joining Jupiter and Mars, as it opposes Pluto and squares Uranus. Again, try not to deny your feelings, but understand that feelings change, and with the fluidity of a Cancer Moon, they could change quite rapidly. What was “true” in the morning may not be later in the day.
Of course, the question is always how to handle the volatility of these astral interactions and their effect with skill and grace. Recently I was complaining to an old friend about the state of the world, lingering (perhaps a little too long) on the condition of the planet and all of its many inhabitants, especially the consciousness of humans and our consistent failure to create peace. My friend, a long-standing Buddhist practitioner, quoted the Twelfth Kenting Tai Situpa, a Tibetan Rinpoche, who, when asked about our current difficult times said that it is not just now—it’s the nature of the suffering of samsara and it’s the way samsara always is: the reality of samsara is suffering. Yes, I thought to myself. Earth is a molten rock, with major and minor eruptions from its core occurring daily. Instability is not an anomaly on Planet Earth—it’s reality. Learning to live with that impermanence is the task. Learning to be kind at the same time is the challenge.
July 24, 2013
For the next several weeks, the planets align in complex, and for the most part, difficult patterns that underscore, once again, the serious dilemmas many of us are facing personally as well as collectively. Although it is possible to acknowledge these patterns as celestial indications of a concentrated phase of personal and collective transformation, and try to frame the current turmoil from a positive perspective, that expanded point of view still doesn’t diminish the very real and painful struggles that are currently catalyzing so many lives. The desire for freedom—economic, political, cultural, intellectual, and sexual—grates against the status quo of so many failing power systems that blackouts seem inevitable. Unfortunately, the response to the constant irritation of inevitable change is an ever increasing fundamentalism that refuses to recognize diversity—sexual, political, racial, and religious—as the true picture of reality here on the blue planet. The effect of that denial only fuels and exacerbates the struggle, and the result is escalating polarization that all too often resorts to violence. It’s not a pretty picture; it’s hard to witness; it’s even harder to hold an inclusive view, one that holds even enemies as sentient beings deserving of compassion. Very few of us are up to finding and then maintaining a wide enough bandwidth to sustain such broad vision. And yet that’s the task.
Mars is the driving force behind the turmoil of the week. It is in Cancer, conjunct Jupiter, a position that amplifies a need to succeed. But Mars also opposes Pluto, a tense interaction that is exact and separating on Saturday, July 27; Mars also squares Uranus, an equally tense interaction that is exact on Wednesday, July 31. All three of the participants – Mars, Uranus, and Pluto—signify energy, and in this specific interaction, prodigious amounts of almost superhuman force that can convince even the meek and mild to assume the role of superhero. The problem is when these three planets form a negative relationship, which is exactly what happens this week and next, that huge reservoir of energy has to spend itself somewhere, and as often happens, it’s likely to spend itself on the mostly petty frustrations of daily life—road rage, indignation at a meaningless slight, a peeing puppy, a pesky neighbor.
Expect relationship tensions to amplify, with either participant playing the victim to the other’s hotheaded or mean-spirited victimizer. Diffuse this polarization by refusing to take silly oversights to heart. Turn a deaf ear to criticism that’s only meant to hurt and not improve. Don’t kick the dog because you can. And when possible turn the other cheek. If you can manage to not engage, you can turn your opponent or the oppositional system to your advantage, especially if you’re willing to recognize that the force of your reaction is equivalent just how deeply you are being mirrored. Make amends under this influence and they could, quite possibly, last forever.
Beneath the aggression, the ongoing Saturn/Neptune continues to provide the potential to see the current personal and collective intensity as spiritual opportunities. But don’t use this idea as a slick quick fix. Actualizing ideals in the midst of turmoil takes a strong commitment to integrating evolutionary ideas into new responses to old circumstances. Often that means leaving the comfort zone of the tried and true and embarking on an exploration that requires renouncing the needs of the ego.
As the week unfolds, the Sun, in Leo, trines Uranus, in Aries, sparking a need for personal freedom. Allow that impulse to ignite creative choices, especially when it comes to handling aggression, whether it’s covert passive aggressive behavior or an overt danger of physical violence. Unfortunately, Saturn squares the Sun, and the friction from that hard angle chaffs at uninhibited personal expression. It also exacerbates anxiety, real or imagined, and that could cause resentment to override common sense. In the heat of the moment, it’s hard to make positive, creative choices. But it’s necessary to remember that we really are all in this together, and every time we choose compassion we widen the field for peaceful resolutions that foster positive results.
July 17, 2013
The routines of daily life unfold in planetary surround sound this week, and the sheer din of interactions could be deafening—and in certain cases, disturbing. Several channels—internal and external, individual and collective—are broadcasting simultaneously, and because each and every signal covers a broad spectrum of ideas and emotions, many of us are likely to feel overwhelmed by a barrage of information and opinion. But it is still important to listen carefully to what is or isn’t being said. Part of this astral cacophony is heightened sense of intuition, but being able to distinguish fact from fiction or intuitive flashes from wishful thinking won’t be easy, and might require monitoring the meanderings of your inner monologue with greater discernment.
Here are the major contributors to this week’s celestial wall of sound:
Uranus goes retrograde today, July 17, and its “course correction” strikes a strong undertone—but not because its retrograde motion slows anything down. Uranus symbolizes sudden shifts and thunderbolts of realization, and when it “changes direction,” abrupt shifts in perspective prevail, especially where we may have become complacent about a stagnant situation or complicit in maintaining the status quo. Don’t be surprised if you’re feeling unable to tolerate conditions that no longer serve. And be prepared for rebellion as you or others attempt to shake loose old habits and behavior.
Uranus goes retrograde in a square to Mercury, which aggravates nervous systems already agitated by Mercury Retrograde. Mercury goes Direct on July 20, but because of the square to Uranus, we’re not likely to feel immediate retrograde relief. The days after Mercury Retrograde ends could be more than a little chaotic, and the adjustment period between Uranus Retrograde and Mercury Direct will take patience. Don’t expect anything—plans or projects, old or new—to run smoothly for at least a week. Consider it the astrological equivalent of shifting gears without a clutch.
The Grand Trine in Water between the Mars/Jupiter conjunction, in Cancer, Saturn, in Scorpio, and Neptune, in Pisces, continues to stimulate deep emotional undercurrents. Mars/Jupiter contacts symbolize dynamic expansion. Add Saturn to the mix, and that desire for success is amplified by a tenacious determination to pursue goals and objectives. Neptune’s presence softens some (but not all) of the rough edges of that ambition. This Grand Trine also stimulates a deep longing for spiritual unity and alignment. Just be aware that the positive power of this trine may be inaccessible to some and that could produce a deep dissatisfaction. Don’t be surprised if you or someone close to you succumbs to resignation or cynicism because the longing to be connected to a greater story seems just out of reach.
As the week unfolds, many of us could grow increasingly testy. Mars slowly joins the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square, and its presence completes a T-Square, a pernicious, stressful interaction that is unpredictable and volatile. Hold fast to compassion as a first choice in the days ahead. And when possible remember the healing power of kindness and extend a hand to your fellow travelers.
July 10, 2013
This week, despite all the positive celestial interactions occurring among the Water Signs, our terrestrial situation is on fire. We’re in the midst of a revolution that longs for evolution, and the disparity between what is and what needs to be is almost too great to measure. Even if you think you are unaffected by what’s happening on the political, economic, national, or global frontier, think again. It no longer matters where you live; the world is getting smaller with each moment. No one is immune to the state of our planet, and each of us is feeling the inexorable strain of change, whether we experience that stress through personal circumstances, collective challenges, or both. Given these high levels of intensity, there was never a more appropriate time to practice compassion, for yourself and others, loved ones and strangers, especially if that practice helps you to remember that what divides us—fear, greed, sorrow, or anger—will never be as strong as what holds us together—our capacity to love.
While the current planetary picture is not as complex as last week, it’s also not as simple as might be desired. Mars moves into Cancer on July 13, and as it does, it forms an immediate conjunction with Jupiter (which just entered Cancer on June 25). Mars doesn’t thrive in Cancer—Cancer’s nurturing waters tend to dissipate that Martian drive. But Jupiter’s strength nullifies some of that dissipation, and as Mars joins the ongoing Jupiter/Saturn/Neptune Grand Trine, the power of that trine, especially Saturn’s capacity for discipline, galvanizes determination and ambition. Use this potent configuration to help generate better alignment between what you envision and what you create. Remember, the most essential component of personal growth is the ability to integrate consciousness into action.
Mercury Retrograde continues for ten more days. By this weekend, it will square Uranus. This is an irascible interaction, but also an inventive and innovative one. And yes, it does exacerbate techno difficulties, but this square can also be used to find creative solutions to persistent difficult situations.
We are also still in the wake of the third exact Uranus/Pluto square, and that means we are still in the midst of extreme upheaval and upset, personal and collective. Uranus is the principle of sudden and startling plot twists and its presence throws lightning bolts into stagnant waters. And while we may not always welcome its illuminating efforts, there’s no denying its powers. Pluto also signifies change, and its presence, while not often as dynamic as Uranus, is no less powerful; it is often experienced as the relentless decay of attitudes and behavior that we cling to out of habit even though we know those habits have outlived their usefulness. Pluto demands that we surrender what is inauthentic, even if that means sometimes letting go of what we are most identified with.
The good news—and there is always good news—is that even in the midst of the turmoil, there are positive signs of true compassion. Various websites report acts of kindness, and here are just a few you can find on the Internet that are inspiring hope and confidence in our fellow travelers http://www.dailygood.org/, http://www.awakin.org, http://www.karmakitchen.org/, or http://www.movedbylove.org/. As I often write, the first rule of magic states that whatever you focus your attention on becomes your reality. Taking the time to focus your attention on kindness could make all the difference in creating a positive field where love is actually the answer.
July 3, 2013
It’s a week of contradictions here on planet Earth, and handling the contrast between opposing positions and perspectives is certain to require deep reservoirs of patience. On one hand, Mercury Retrograde, in effect from June 26 through July 20, has downshifted the pace of daily life; the normal retrograde interference that tends to snarl traffic and scramble communication is doing just that, which means most of us are repeating ourselves or finding others repetitious. On the other hand, a trine between Venus, in Leo, and Uranus, in Aries, quickens the pace as well as the pulse, particularly when it comes to the rhythms of love. Crushes and infatuations flourish under this influence, but because Uranus is eratic, you must anticipate falling in love one minute and falling out of love the next. For those not inclined toward romance—and some of us aren’t—this trine also enhances creative endeavors, so be prepared to meet the muse.
Saturn throws a wrench into that spirited expression of free love and creativity, as it “slows down” all week long in preparation to go direct on July 8. When it combines with the retrograde delays and detours, Saturn’s “turn around” could cause the gears of daily routines to seize, another reason why patience is a necessary constant companion.
But wait…there’s more: All of this astral activity occurs alongside the ongoing Jupiter/Saturn/Neptune Grand Trine, a powerful configuration that increases receptivity and empathy, but also has the power to blur all sorts of boundaries. Don’t be surprised if you or someone you love feels dislocated.
And if all that isn’t enough, the backdrop of all these interactions is the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square, an intense configuration that signifies personal as well as collective transformation—and all the upheaval and upset that occur when old outdated systems struggle to hold their own against the inexorable tides of change. Need I say that overwhelm is probable? I’m exhausted just writing about it.
My personal Mercury Retrograde review is focused on scanning the world news, but not dwelling on it. Too often I feel as if life on Earth is an ongoing science fiction epic about two parallel and intermingling universes: One universe is ruled by Troglodytes (a favorite onomatopoetic word that I don’t often get a chance to use), who celebrate and exploit ignorance, at the expense of all life forms, including their own. And the other universe is inhabited by Evolutionaries, who keep searching for knowledge that pushes past the limitations of the human mind into an expanded, holographic perspective that respects life—all life, from the unicellular to the multicellular. Unfortunately, the tension between these two universes inevitably pushes those in the middle to extremes. And the unfortunate result of that polarization is psychic uncertainty coupled with physical instability.
This week, even if you feel pulled apart by contradiction, use Mercury Retrograde to reflect on how to best hold the powerful contrasts of our polarized planet—personal and collective—without losing heart or hope.
June 26, 2013
We’re entering a different astral domain this week, and while daily life can’t be quite characterized as an episode from the Twilight Zone, you could find yourself muttering more than once, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” Of course, some of us won’t feel as if we’ve been swept away to another dimension or that we’ve landed on the moon. But for those who can’t find their ruby slippers or an inflatable astronaut suit, the new terrain is sure to feel surreal, and the experience of dislocation—physical, mental, spiritual, but mostly emotional—could have a profound impact on the rituals and routines of daily life. Patience is key to handling the change of terrain, skillfully. And as if to assist, Mercury Retrograde begins today, so even if you want to hurry the adjustment process, you’re not likely to move through it too quickly. The best solution is to breathe, deeply, as often as necessary, and to give yourself and those you love plenty of time to acclimate.
A concentration of planets Water Signs sets the new tone. The Sun is in Cancer, and as of yesterday, so is Jupiter. (Last week’s column had a typo: Jupiter entered Cancer on June 25, not July 25.) And while Venus is only in Cancer until June 27, Mercury is retrograde, in Cancer, until July 20. All the Water Signs—Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces—are the deeply emotional members of the astrological pantheon. Cancer, ruled by the Moon, represents the maternal principle, and therefore symbolizes nurturing, the longing to belong, family, and home; its shadow side often manifests as deep issues of safety and security. Jupiter represents expansion; at its best, Jupiter symbolizes the capacity to move beyond a limited worldview into a broad and encompassing perspective; at its worst, Jupiter signifies the waste of excess. During the next year, as Jupiter moves through Cancer, we’re likely to experience a desire for greater comfort and care. Some of those urges will be altruistic, and that will feed the desire to care for others. But we can also expect strong urges to cocoon.
Saturn is in Scorpio, also a Water Sign, and as Jupiter moves into Cancer, it forms an immediate trine to Saturn. This is a positive configuration that culminates in the middle of July, but we will feel its supportive presence all month. Saturn has been transiting Scorpio since October 2012, a journey that continues until December 2014. Scorpio represents the mysterious undercurrents—physical, psychological and spiritual—that inform human experience, undercurrents that are beyond our reach and often cause us to feel powerless. As Saturn, the principle of structure, plumbs Scorpio’s depths, many of us are probing the limitations of personal as well as collective power as we confront all those areas we can’t seem to control—weather patterns, anyone?
Neptune began a fourteen-year transit through the dreamy waters of Pisces—its primary domain—in April 2011. Pisces signifies receptivity. Neptune symbolizes imagination. And Neptune’s presence in the Sign it rules, amplifies the infinite expanse of creative inspiration. We’ve been under the influence of a Saturn/Neptune trine—a positive combination that produces the potential for penetrating insight—since mid-April 2013. This week, and over the course of the next several weeks, Neptune joins the Jupiter/Saturn trine to create a Grand Trine in Water, turning the days and nights on our planet rich with sentimentality.
It will take some time getting used to the emotional tides of the next several weeks, so again, make patience your constant companion. As the atmosphere fills with feelings, hearts may find it hard to contain the intensity, making it all the more important to spread compassion, liberally, everywhere you can.
June 19, 2013
It’s a bumpy ride this week. The planets are in transition, and so are we. And while I don’t and won’t blame the stars for cranky attitudes, as most of us know, shifts—emotional, psychological, spiritual, or physical—are often uncomfortable, especially if you’re feeling tired, overworked, stretched too thin, or just downright suspicious of what’s going to happen next. Anticipate resistance, yours or others’, as many of us try figure out how to handle these jarring rhythms of change. Just be aware, the pushback may simply be a reflexive action rather than a real refusal to cooperate. Also be prepared to feel out of sorts with no plausible explanation for your malaise. Of course, it’s not all bad news—plenty of people are thriving even in the midst of the current state of transformational intensity, particularly those who are living from the inside out, making peace with what is, even if that means breathing through moments of profound uncertainty, trusting that the eventual outcome will be positive.
The first obstacle to a smooth flow is the second Mercury Retrograde phase of 2013, which begins on June 26 and lasts until July 20. For those unfamiliar with Mercury Retrograde, it’s a period of time when Mercury, from Earth’s perspective, appears to be moving backwards. Of course, we know this is impossible, but from an astrological perspective, during Mercury Retrograde, all things within Mercury’s vast domain, which includes all things related to communication and travel, seem to have a life of their own. From mail of every variety to planes to trains to automobiles to computers to cell phones—you name the device or method of transportation and something is sure to go wrong. Back up your computers, now. Don’t wait until tomorrow; the three days before and after this phase are part of the retro-zone, so don’t procrastinate. And don’t be surprised if all week long, nothing seems to move as it “should.” Patience is the best position to assume during a retrograde.
The Sun enters the Sign of Cancer on June 21, marking the start of a new season. And on June 25, right after that transition and just prior to Mercury Retrograde, Jupiter changes Signs, moving from Gemini to Cancer. Jupiter symbolizes expansion, abundance, and enthusiasm, and its transit through Gemini, the Sign of communication and information, placed the astral emphasis on data of every dimension. Now, as it moves into Cancer, the emphasis shifts away from facts and figures to feelings. Expect to feel slightly disconcerted as the locus of perception shifts. Jupiter’s journey through Cancer will stir a wide range of responses to the issues of safety and security, as well as to the ties that bind us to family as well as home.
As Jupiter enters Cancer, it moves into a trine with Saturn and Neptune, forming a Grand Trine in Water that will culminate on July 17. During the next several weeks, we will feel the swell of this positive configuration as it unites the personal concerns, through Jupiter, to the concerns of the many, through Saturn, in Scorpio, to the transpersonal, through Neptune, in Pisces. And while the start of this new cycle might take some getting used to, this is a powerful tide for transformation that even the delays and detours of Mercury Retrograde cannot put asunder. Set an intention to ride it well, and when possible, help your fellow travelers to do the same.
June 12, 2013
Separating the wheat from the chaff won’t be easy this week. Planetary crosscurrents pull in different directions simultaneously, and daily life reflects that astral hodgepodge with too many situations, individual and collective, in need of attention. Expect to feel stretched, especially if you have more than one iron in the fire, more than one child to take care of, or more than one friend who is wrestling with dire circumstances. The good news is that positive occurrences are also a part of the mix. The not so good news is that nervous systems could easily become overloaded from the intensity, making tantrums, yours or others’, a possibility. The task of the week is being able to distinguish what needs to be released from what or who will flourish from your awareness and care.
Here’s the skinny: A Mars/Uranus sextile is at the core of this week’s nervous agitation. Mars and Uranus both represent movement. Mars symbolizes physical energy. Uranus signifies the pulse. And when these two planets interact, nervous systems often feel the strain of too much activity. On one hand, this combination provides prodigious amounts of strength—enough to accomplish any task. On the other, it generates the potential to push too hard, take on too much, and grow impatient with the results—or lack of them. Mars/Uranus also insists on personal freedom, at almost any cost. So don’t be surprised if a musical brain worm keeps singing, “I gotta be me. I gotta be free.” This sextile is exact on June 17 and lasts until June 25. Notice where you are longing for liberation, and what the cost of freedom will actually be.
Jupiter is in the final moments of its transit through Gemini, a journey that began on June 11, 2012, and ends on June 25, 2013. As Jupiter moves through the last degrees of Gemini, the Sign of information, what already seems like an endless download of data, personal and collective, could turn into a deluge. Anticipate conversations to be laden with facts and figures, but also be prepared for advice from just about everyone on just about every subject. Jupiter is traveling in tandem with the Sun, and that positive combination encourages an optimistic, confident attitude that’s more than willing to share opinions about a wide range of subjects. Just be aware, some of what’s said could be more rumor and hearsay than anything else.
Mercury and Venus are also traveling in tandem through the Sign of Cancer. Last week, they both formed a trine to Saturn and Neptune; as they pulled out of that positive interaction, they simultaneously completed a T-Square to the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square, prolonging the persistent impetus for change embodied by that powerful and sometimes pernicious configuration.
The Sun and Jupiter, as well Mercury and Venus continue to travel together for the next two weeks. The Sun/Jupiter conjunction symbolizes joy. The Mercury/Venus conjunction symbolizes a deep desire for beauty. While those two signatures may feel antithetical to the nightly news, the more we align with their positive potential, the more we strengthen the intention to make love and beauty the first choice.
June 5, 2013
The planets begin to align in new formations this week, and the goings-on of terrestrial life reflect the celestial shifts. Mood swings--lots of them, yours and others’—are probable, so don’t be surprised if you’re motivated one minute and completely without ambition the next or enthusiastic about the day when you wake up, and by the time you finish coffee, totally flummoxed about how to spend your time. The planets are moving from Gemini, the Sign of information, into Cancer, the Sign of intuition, and as the astral emphasis shifts, you’re likely need a moment to get your bearings. And even when you have them, expect to feel pulled by strong and often inexplicable emotional currents. Cancer embodies the longing to belong, and over the coming weeks, that yearning, so deep in so many, could arouse a surprisingly visceral need to feel connected to those you love. You might even find yourself caught by a poignant nostalgia for connections that might have been if circumstances had played out differently—even those surrounded by family and friends could feel waves of melancholy. As the planets stir these yearnings, issues of safety and security are also sure to surface. Rather than reject or resist these emotional currents, dive into them and allow yourself to feel the deeper subtext of your daily interactions. Remember, on this planet you gotta feel to heal.
Several sources contribute to the moody emotional environment. Here’s the list: (1) Mercury and Venus are already in Cancer; (2) On June 21, the Sun also enters Cancer. (3) On June 25, Jupiter begins its yearlong transit through Cancer. And if all that isn’t enough, (4) from June 26-July 20, Mercury is retrograde in Cancer. Yes, I realize I am jumping ahead, but we are, after all, talking about Water Signs, which means boundaries are likely to be blurry, and tidal rhythms—at least human ones—act and react according to individual needs. The full effect won’t be felt until Jupiter leaves Gemini, but this week, as Venus occupies the early degrees of Cancer, we get a preview of what’s to come.
It’s the presence of Saturn and Neptune that turn the next several weeks into an opportunity for emotional connection and reflection. Saturn, in Scorpio, goes direct on July 8, and for the next several weeks, in preparation for that “course correction” Saturn seemingly slows to a crawl and lingers in a trine to Neptune, in Pisces, which also goes retrograde this week, on June 7. When Saturn and Neptune unite in a positive relationship, foresight and insight are probable, as is a healthy understanding of sacrifices made for the benefit of the greater good. When you add Mercury and Venus to the mix, as we do this week, Mercury amplifies the possibility of heightened intuition, as Venus contributes an inclination toward artistic inspiration. There’s nothing reckless about this configuration; if anything, it errs on the side of caution. But it does support a spiritual perspective aimed at integrating ideals--something we continue to need in ever increasing applications.
On a different note, Mars is transiting Gemini, a journey that is likely to stir a need to talk, a lot, about everything. Engage in conversation, but understand that you won’t be able to limit those dialogues to facts and figures. Hearts are going to play a huge role in what gets discussed—and that’s likely to be a good thing.
May 29, 2013
Versatility is the keyword for the week, as the line-up of planets in Gemini, the Sign of information, continues to inspire a non-stop gab fest that runs the gamut from the ridiculous and unnecessary to the sublime and essential—and all the many dimensions in between. Expect vivacious interactions with just about everyone, from family and friends to that stranger sitting next to you on the plane, train, or bus. And don’t be surprised if the normally taciturn are holding forth on several soapboxes simultaneously. And just like last week, the celestial emphasis on conversation is so strong that even those who with absolutely no interest in chitchat could find themselves listening eagerly to the “useless” details of the most mundane activities. But don’t let a tendency toward the superficial fool you into thinking that the intensity is behind us. We are still in the aftermath of the third Uranus/Pluto square, and although the majority of us may not be experiencing physical hardship, far too many of our fellow travelers are suffering from emotional, mental, and spiritual crises.
The Sun, in Gemini, stirs a certain restlessness for information that has the power to clarify cloudy circumstances. Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury are also all conjunct in Gemini—at least until May 31, when Mercury moves into Cancer, and June 2, when Venus follows suit. This entire bundle combines provides the potential for multifaceted discussions about aesthetics—what we find beautiful and why. It’s a fundamentally good-natured configuration that wants to revel in love and beauty—or at least talk about it a lot. On May 31, Mars enters Gemini, and given that Martian tendency to spar just for the sake of stirring it up, some discussions could turn heated, particularly if you or others mistake speculation for certitude and get stuck defending opinions and positions that aren’t even that important.
In esoteric astrology, Gemini, and its ruling planet, Mercury, symbolize the vast and mighty potency of the mind and its ability to gather information and awareness. Gemini signifies the earliest formation of communication skills, especially patterns with siblings and other family members, patterns that mature into how we share information in our adult relationships. Mercury, who in Greek mythology is known as Hermes, is the god of travel and commerce. Mercury is also the personification of language and communication. Most significantly, Mercury was the psychopomp of the Olympian gods – the only one of them that could travel between Mount Olympus and Hades. From an astrological perspective, Mercury embodies the facile ability of thought to travel between heaven and earth in barely a blink of the mind’s eye.
As the week unfolds, and almost everyone has an opinion about almost every little thing, notice what sets your mind on a journey of extremes. And then, rather than polarizing either in heaven or in hell, do your best to be flexible, adaptable, and versatile—if only because very few situations are completely black and white, and the ability to find the middle ground in the midst of so many points of view will help to ease the stress and tension of daily life here on Planet Earth.
May 22, 2013
It’s a perfect week for data and details, so make sure the apps on your Smartphone are ready to handle the constant streaming and massive downloads of facts and figures. Four planets—the Sun, Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter—are aggregating in Gemini, the Sign of communication, and that astral assembly has the potential to turn the days and nights of the week into a watershed of information. Pay attention to what’s said as well as to what you choose to say, because we’re also in the final eclipse of the season—on May 25, there’s a lunar eclipse—and much of what emerges is likely to be previously withheld feelings or only hinted-at opinions. But that’s not all. Because this lunar eclipse takes place in Sagittarius, a Sign that thrives on conversation, most of us will be talking to anyone who will listen about every little thing. There’s so much to say that even the naturally reticent are likely to start spilling the beans—you could even start muttering to yourself. And much of what’s said could be quite startling.
Last week, I mentioned that we are in a three-year cycle of seven Uranus/Pluto squares. In keeping with this week’s informative deluge, here’s a list of when those squares occur:
June 24, 2012
September 19, 2012
May 20, 2013
November 1, 2013
April 21, 2014
December 15, 2014
March 17, 2015
Uranus is in Aries and Pluto is in Capricorn, and all seven contacts occur between the 6 and 16 degrees of both Signs. Those born in the first half of all the Cardinal Signs—Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn—are most deeply affected by this cycle. (To figure out if that’s you, just start at the beginning of your Sign and count approximately 16 days in.) But no one is exempt. Some may have the Moon or any number of planets located in the first half of one of these Cardinal Signs, which means the effect of the squares is already being keenly felt—or will be.
While we know that that Uranus/Pluto contacts signify revolution, there’s no way of predicting just how many revolutions, individual and collective, will be necessary to accomplish an authentic transformation. The most we can do is pay attention to our immediate environment to see what needs to change and how best to facilitate that particular shift. This could mean a complete change of heart, moving from hatred to love. Or it could be as simple as taking care of your elderly neighbor by making sure that he or she has food and is eating it; this might lead to volunteering for an organization that delivers food, or getting involved with a farm that makes sure the food is fresh and nutritious. What’s important is following the threads of what need to change.
This week, rather than worrying about what will happen next do your best to stay in the moment. Compassionate, conscious choices in the present have the power to eventually nullify the negative effects of the past as they simultaneously create a more positive future.
May 15, 2013
Monday, May 20, marks the next exact Uranus/Pluto square—the third in a series of seven squares occurring between June 2012 and March 2015. From an astrological perspective, Uranus/Pluto contacts always signal periods of great change; they symbolize cycles of political and social upheaval and upset, revolutionary cycles that seem to activate both an individual as well as a collective desire for transformation. We've been in the matrix of this current cycle since spring 2012. Again, from an astrological point of view, squares symbolize action, and because there is barely a break in contact between Uranus and Pluto during this three-year cycle, many of us are already weary and exhausted from living through seemingly endless days and nights of upheaval—psychic, political, personal, and physical. But although the turmoil grows increasingly disruptive, it is also clarifying; each new turn offers opportunities to identify or to adjust priorities, especially for those evolutionaries who continue to ask where their efforts are best spent. For those with vision, the pace may seem glacial. For those who are wrestling down old paradigms, the pace may actually feel accelerated. Such is the struggle in samsara when you put your soul power to the karmic wheel and try to weave a new pattern from ancient karmic red threads. The question is not whether to change. The question is how to facilitate so many much-needed shifts out of outdated, moldy, sticky, unconscious habituations and perspectives that continue to keep us mired in ignorance and violence.
The current cycle of squares has its origins in the Uranus/Pluto conjunctions that occurred between 1965 and 1967. Those years are easily seen as an emblem of personal and planetary transformation. Both Uranus and Pluto were in the Sign of Virgo, the Sign where we recognize the interconnectedness of life—the unity of being in its differentiated particulars. And from that phase, the ecology movement gained momentum, and although there continues to be resistance to the idea that we are all participants in a vast linked system known as planet Earth, for the most part, ecological awareness is now a part of how we live.
The generation born during the last conjunction—and for that calculation, I would expand the parameters from 1964-1968—this current cycle of squares has a familiar resonance, and many may feel it as a call to action. That generation grew up in the midst of enormous social turmoil, and even though many rebelled against their parents’ rebellion, revolution is still a part of that astrological DNA. The problems we face today are the same problems we faced then, and while some will argue that these are the conditions of humanity, it can just as easily be argued that humanity has a responsibility to face these problems and to push past revolution to evolution.
We don’t need the stars to tell us that we live in “interesting” times. What astrology can offer is a way of contextualizing the tumult as part of some greater narrative, and pondering the synchronicity between celestial and terrestrial cycles has the potential to open a richer and deeper conversation about creative solutions. For most of us, change is a painful process—old systems tend to die hard, and many won’t give up without a fight. And even the best intentions to release destructive patterns often meet with ferocious resistance. As the Uranus/Pluto squares continue to unfold, notice where you are resistant to change, and then be determined to put your best evolutionary foot forward.
May 8, 2013
For the next several weeks, the best transformational tools for conscious living are the willingness and the flexibility to embrace a kaleidoscope of perspectives. We’re in the thrall of several intense astral patterns, all of which require dexterity – emotional, physical and spiritual – to shift from one point of view to another with minimal effort. Mental agility is also crucial during this phase, for as the days and nights unfold, handling certain circumstances will require moving between the many dimensions of the mind, from the practical to the ideal and back again to the pragmatic, all in the blink of the mind’s eye. Not all that occurs in this concentrated wave of intensity is negative – for some, this is a period of dynamic creative expansion. But that doesn’t mean the rigors of conscious living won’t be exhausting – actually, even for those of us who aren’t facing an immediate difficult situation, simply being there for those who are will require stamina and strength. So whether you are in crisis, as far too many of us are, or a first responder to crisis, physical or psychic, do whatever it is you do to ground yourself in your deepest truth. There are no quick fixes or easy solutions to be had; there is only the determination to keep evolving, one issue and one theme at a time.
We are between three eclipses. The first was a lunar eclipse on April 25; the second is a solar eclipse on May 9; the third is another lunar eclipse on May 25. From an astrological perspective, eclipses disrupt the “normal” order of things – regimes, regimens, routines, and roles turn topsy-turvy. A solar eclipse symbolizes the power of the unconscious to overshadow conscious concerns; a lunar eclipse highlights conscious concerns above all others. And just to make it more confusing, the eclipse effect – solar or lunar – is felt before or after the actual event; time feels distorted and exacerbates a sense of dislocation, again, experienced on many levels. Be patient with yourself and others, especially those already hypersensitive. Also be kind to children; they often channel the intensity around them without any awareness that they are simply conduits.
We are also in the tightening grip of the third Uranus/Pluto square, which will be exact and separating on May 20. Uranus symbolizes the revolutionary, every ready to catalyze stagnant systems, personal and collective, in desperate need of change. Pluto represents the process of death and rebirth, and tends to only be satisfied with change that occurs at the core. From an astrological perspective, interactions between these two planets symbolize periods of profound upheaval, particularly evident through the various movements for social justice. From a personal point of view, this square has the potential to trigger themes you may not have thought were a part of your fabric. Or, that you may have already thought were well worked out. From a collective perspective, all those areas of unresolved conflict – and they are everywhere – are sure to erupt with new fervor.
Often we resist what most needs to shift, so pay attention to ideas, behavior, and relationships you’re holding onto, and question whether your grip is motivated by fear or habit. The ability to discern what’s authentic and wholesome will help you to let go of attitudes and perspectives that no longer serve.
May 1, 2013
A dance around the Maypole to honor the midpoint between summer and spring isn’t likely this week. So don’t worry if you don’t feel like celebrating the start of the lusty month of May. Saturn continues to dominate the astral weather, and while some of us who chronicle the stars are committed to redefining Saturn’s traditional role as the Great Inhibitor, that redefinition won’t turn the significator of discipline into a sensualist anytime soon. And because Saturn always sets a somber tone, we’re in for another week of earnest introspection and serious interactions. The good news: By this time next week, Saturn and all the planets it is opposing – Mars, Mercury, and the Sun – will have moved out of their tight oppositional formation, and we will all breathe a sigh of relief. The not so good news: That sigh will be brief – very brief. We’re in the full throttle tractor beam of the third exact Uranus/Pluto square that occurs on May 20, and the stress of that dynamic relationship is generating a far deeper psychic tension than Saturn. Anticipate being impatient with all the areas of life that are currently stuck. Also expect to project much of your frustration onto others. Remember, one of the cardinal rules of personal growth is “You spot it. You got it.” So be very careful whom you blame for what.
Saturn’s critical eye is still examining anything it can hold in its gaze, which means lots of areas of daily life are going to feel scrutinized, but ego and ambition are Saturn’s particular favorites this week. Mars symbolizes how we move in the world – it’s action, even if action manifests as meditation. On May 1, the Mars/Saturn opposition is exact and separating. Negative Mars/Saturn contacts tend toward harsh, bitter attitudes that can only find the flaw; its most common expression is the unrelenting finger of blame. The current opposition began on April 24. For the next several days, as the opposition ends and its tension releases, we’re likely to feel the emotional brunt of the last several weeks. Even if the person you love the most is doing “it” – whatever that is – all wrong, make every effort to be a peacemaker. Contemplate what’s right about an opposing point of view rather than simply dismissing it. There’s already enough wrong in the world; there’s no need to add to it.
From a collective perspective, as this week and the coming weeks unfold, all the places on our planet that are already overwhelmed by aggression are sure to see an escalation in hostility. We are only at the midpoint of the Uranus/Pluto cycle of change, a cycle that is historically characterized by revolution. What we know for sure is that the current “order” comprised of a multitude of systems – political, financial, spiritual, and ecological – is in a process of breaking down and daily life seems to be dissolving into chaos. What we haven’t quite yet figured out is how to unite our disparate evolutionary efforts so that we can achieve the necessary critical mass to turn our seemingly hopeless situation around.
April 24, 2013
The next two weeks unfold under the keen eye of Saturn, and as the planetary keeper of discernment and discipline culls through the details of the ordinary as well as the extraordinary affairs of daily life many of us are likely to feel as if we’re under the influence of a stern Mercury Retrograde. Expect little to flow lightly. Also anticipate delving intensely into dialogues or diatribes about action and its consequence with yourself and anyone else who will listen. Saturn is often referred to as the “Lord of Karma.” But it is also called the “Voice of Reality” because of its unstinting devotion to the distillation of wisdom from experience. It won’t be easy maneuvering through any process under Saturn’s scrutiny. And while Saturn’s examination is not quite the equivalent of being probed by Sauron, Saturn’s critical eye does tend to dwell on what needs to be learned. The best way to handle this Saturnian intensive is to assume a beginner’s mind and simply be willing to grow.
All the planets, with the exception of Mercury, previously transiting Aries – Venus, Mars, and the Sun – are now transiting the early degrees of Taurus, which means they are all opposite Saturn, in Scorpio, and it is this concentration of oppositions that inclines the psychic air toward introspection, examination, and in many cases, absorption in finding the flaw. For many of us that focus on what’s wrong is sure to turn into a finger-pointing, faulting-finding, blame-assigning attitude that’s quick to judge others or ourselves. Just be aware, those judgments are part of a process: We are mourning a multitude of losses, actual and ideal, and grieving for what is gone is going to take a long, long time.
The most pernicious of these oppositions occurs between Mars and Saturn. The tension of this particular interaction often manifests through violence aimed at the self or toward others. Mars is the principle of movement. Saturn represents discipline. And when they oppose each other, we often experience a hard bitterness that wants to push past restraints. This opposition begins April 24, is exact and separating on May 1, and lasts until May 7. Pay close attention to children during this time; most of them have a tendency to channel the undercurrents of their immediate emotional environment.
A lunar eclipse on Thursday, April 25, amplifies an already charged emotional atmosphere. During a lunar eclipse, conscious concerns overshadow emotional issues, but this eclipse carries a deeply complex emotional signature: The Moon opposes the Sun, as it simultaneously conjuncts Saturn, in Scorpio. That conjunction opposes the ongoing Sun/Mars conjunction, in Taurus. We tend to feel an eclipse effect several weeks prior to or after the actual event, and while some may want to attribute last week’s events to the eclipse, it is important to remember that we are in the eclipse season. There is a solar eclipse on May 9 and another lunar eclipse on May 25, and we’ve yet to see or feel the combined eclipse effect. What’s more, Mercury will transit the eclipse sensitive point on May 4, and that could also ramp up the intensity.
As the week unfolds, try to keep in mind that Saturn’s critical eye, while stern, also provides the opportunities to grow – for all of us, young or old, naïve or cynical, discouraged or hopeful.
April 17, 2013
The planets are moving from the tempestuous and impulsive heat of Aries into the grounded creativity of Taurus this week, and as they shift their emphasis from Fire to Earth, we experience the potential to settle down and settle into different daily rhythms. Just don’t expect this transition to be instantaneous. Also don’t assume that the seemingly never-ending personal and collective intensity of life is going to suddenly evaporate – no chance. It’s simply going to display itself through a different lens of behavioral patterns. Anticipate strong emotional reactions as many of us attempt to adjust to the patterns. Transitions are seldom smooth, and this one could be more than a little bumpy. So when possible, be patient and kind with yourself and your fellow travelers. We’re all in this together, and we all have varying levels of skill when it comes to handling change.
Here’s the lineup: Venus moved into Taurus on Monday, April 15. The Sun enters Taurus on Friday, April 19, and Mars follows suit, on Saturday, April 20. Taurus represents the power and force of the physical world, whether that power is seen through the capacity of the earth to give birth to an infinite multitude of concrete, tangible life forms, or seen as the sheer strength of the physical world to endure. Ruled by Venus, Taurus is a sensual Sign that delights in the power of physical body, a power that includes the capacity to experience and often indulge in the pure pleasure of the material world. And it’s not that Taurus lacks a spiritual dimension – far from it. At its deepest, Taurus is the Sign where we experience the privilege of the physical body, as well as realize the power of spirit to animate form. This week, as the Sun and Mars join Venus, in Taurus, make it a point to appreciate the power of your body. Indulge in earthly delights, and expand your appetite for life and all its sensual pleasures.
But the astral heat of recent weeks isn’t completely extinguished and won't be for quite some time. A Mercury/Uranus conjunction, in Aries, continues to provide a facile mindset that tends toward innovative thinking. Mercury favors quick mental processes and when it combines with the volatility of Uranus, the keeper of invention, flashes of genius are possible. What’s more, although the Sun and Mars are in Taurus, they are traveling in tandem, and because Mars resonates with Aries’ fire, their conjunction is certain to skew the normal Taurus reticence into decisive action.
Most importantly, Uranus, in Aries, is tightening its square to Pluto, in Capricorn. This square is exact on May 20, and it is the third exact square in a series of seven occurring between June 2012 and March 2015. Frankly, I think it is impossible to predict how this next square will manifest – so much is changing, and the contrast between the shifting paradigms is so stark, that there’s just no telling what the next phase of transformation will be. But one thing is sure, as we build toward this next shift marker, many of us are likely to feel increasingly agitated and restless. Use this energy to make progress toward what you would most like to change. Start simple – start with a change of heart that includes other points of view, even if those opinions clash with your own.
April 10, 2013
The tight formation of planets in Aries persists for yet another week, and the routines of terrestrial life continue to reflect the celestial intensity. Many of us are growing weary of this militant signature. Aries is, after all, the archetype of the warrior, and for the last several weeks, the aggregation of planets in this often combative Sign has provided the potential to turn each and every day into a psychic or physical battlefield. And while it’s true that Aries’ aggressive attitude has the necessary power to rouse the complacent into taking a stand, eventually enthusiasm even for righteous causes starts to wane, especially if there’s never a break in the “weather.” Don’t be surprised if you or those you love are extraordinarily cranky from overload and overwhelm. And because most of us regress to five-year olds when we are tired and stressed, it would also be wise to anticipate that tantrums, yours or others,’ are likely to be the preferred method of releasing stress. Try to remember that even if picking a fight offers a momentary release, it won’t transform the tension. Find healthy and creative ways to discharge anxiety, frustration, or that feeling of “there’s not one more thing I can do or I will explode.” And when possible, help your fellow travelers to do the same. Aries may be the Sign of the individual, but even the most reclusive among us are often required to rely on the interconnectedness of community.
Uranus, the Sun, Mars, and Venus, continue to transit Aries, this week. On Monday, April 8, the Moon also entered Aries, and its presence sparks emotional bodies and ignites intense reactions. As that Aries Moon becomes a New Moon on Wednesday, April 10, those already aroused emotional bodies are sure to flare with the desire to forge ahead into previously uncharted waters by saying all sorts of things that wouldn’t be said under normal conditions. Think before you leap into language you might later regret, and try to be compassionate toward others who are struggling with the same need to release emotional heat.
Over the coming ten days, the planets will eventually complete their transit through Aries. On Monday, April 15, Venus will move into Taurus, her Home Sign. On April 19, the Sun will follow suit, and on April 20, Mars will leave Aries, its Home Sign, and move into Taurus as well. As the planets shift elements, we shift attitudes, moving from the passion of Fire to the pragmatism of Earth. For those of us in need of a break, it’s on the way.
But before that change, Mercury moves into Aries on Saturday, April 13, quickly forming a conjunction with Uranus and a square to Pluto. A Mercury/Uranus conjunction has the capacity illuminate a multitude of ideas, and when that capacity to conceptualize unites with Pluto, some of us might feel transformed into a “genius bar,” able to answer all manner of questions. I hope that will be the case, because there are so many pressing problems, personal and collective, in need of creative, bold, and brave solutions.
April 3, 2013
Here’s the good news: Astral heat continues to insinuate itself into all the activities of daily life, but the pernicious undertones and overtones that dominated recent weeks are fading away – at least for now – and all that’s left to deal with is the unbridled enthusiasm and exuberance of Aries. Some of you are sure to be rolling your eyes, thinking, “That’s all? Just Aries unchained?” Yes…for the next two weeks, we are under the influence of an uninhibited concentration of spring’s fire, the Sign of Aries, and the time of year in the northern hemisphere when hibernation ends and emergence from the cave begins. Expect almost everyone to be excited, eager, and earnest about something. This undiluted astral heat has to power to ignite ambitions and spark all manner of plans and ambitions. And while inspiration and motivation are definitely what’s needed to clear away the blahs of winter, impatience is also probable, especially if those goals aren’t progressing quickly. Take a breath, pace yourself, and try not to let your personal fire burn out. This Aries signature persists for a couple of weeks, which means there is plenty of time to set your ambitions in motion.
The Sun, Venus, Mars, and Uranus are all still transiting the Sign of Aries. For the last several weeks, the Sun, Venus, and Mars were all conjunct Uranus and square Pluto. Those multiple combinations were the source of individual and collective agitation and irritation, as well as the astrological signatures motivating the impulsive acts that many of us thought would be the solutions to the tension. Now, free from the potentially destructive force of Uranus, the Sun, Venus, and Mars are all still traveling in tandem. Mars is well past the reach of Pluto, as well, and by the weekend the Sun and Venus will also be beyond Pluto’s transformative reach. Which means we will find ourselves right in the middle of a full-blown Aries love-fest. When the Sun and Venus share the same space, love, beauty, and creativity ride the surface of daily routines. Add Mars to this mix, and you’ll find yourself flirting with everyone. For those of you in the mood for love, this is the planetary fire that fans the power of attraction, and spurs the urge to mate. For those of you who prefer to spend your intensity on creative endeavors, this aggregation of Aries planets can move you into new territory and inspire or re-inspire your idealism.
From an esoteric perspective, Aries is the soul fire that wills us into being and impels us into individual experience. Without it, we would lack the courage to initiate adventures. Unfortunately, Aries’ vital force isn’t always the most mature impulse, which is why patience is the secret to handling this spring’s fever.
March 27, 2013
I always like to compare the fiery, tempestuous, dynamic energy of Aries to the excitable, impetuous, dramatic personality of Captain James T. Kirk, Starship Enterprise, who only set his course on adventure, boldly going where none had gone before, and upon arrival, suddenly realizing he had taken far too big a leap into the unknown and desperately needed support from his more circumspect cohort of Spock, Bones, and Scottie. It’s the “Oh…I can handle anything” attitude of Aries that tends to not even consider the consequences until they can’t be ignored. From a fictional perspective, this Aries bravado always eventually succeeds. From a real life point of view…well…ask any Aries about the actual results.
Because we are in the midst of an enormous process of change, signified by the ongoing seven Uranus/Pluto squares occurring between June 2012 and March 2015, I’ve taken to considering Aragorn, one of Tolkien’s heroes, a better choice for the Aries archetype: He is a fearless warrior who is always in process, morphing from Strider, the wandering king without a kingdom, who must bide his time (something Aries struggles with) until he can reveal his true identity. Upon accepting his mission, Strider becomes Aragorn, trusted guide and only one of two humans who has absolutely no interest in the ring of power; he is only interested in his true power, and because of that is willing to protect his fellow travelers at any cost. He is a might for right warrior, and when right finally triumphs, he transforms once again into Elessar, King of Gondor, his long and arduous hero’s journey at last complete.
Finding a way through the intensity of the ongoing Uranus/Pluto squares is also a long and arduous transformational journey that is personal as well as planetary, individual as well as collective, and, some might argue, no less dramatic than the story of the ring.
On May 20, 2013, the third Uranus/Pluto square is exact. Uranus signifies the instability and inevitability of change. Pluto represents death and rebirth. When these two planets interact, they stimulate revolution, and a look at history reveals that the movements for social justice flourish under this signature.
This week, the Sun, Venus, Uranus, and Mars, are all conjunct in Aries, and they all form a square to Pluto. Consider this intense concentration a preview of things to come. Squares produce friction. Aries likes a fight. And all these planets are warriors in their own right, even Venus, who was once known as Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of war. The probable manifestation of this Aries aggregation is an escalation in turmoil wherever it is already tumultuous and turbulent, whether that strife is occurring on foreign shores or within your own heart. Pay close attention to children during this intense time; they will be unusually antsy, and because of that meltdowns are probable. Please be as gentle as possible, even if the child having a tantrum is 40.
Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., each had difficult Mars signatures in their birth charts. Both became warriors, but their battle for transformation transcended the normal dimensions of war. As you make your way through the current changes, contemplate what warrior archetype best expresses your ideal response to change.
March 20, 2013
The planets are rambunctious this week, and because there’s no “time out” for the sky, daily life reflects this unsettled astral activity through unruly moods and attitudes. Mature adults melt down like five-year olds and normally cautious individuals leap into all sorts of uncertain situations. Expect to be overwhelmed mostly by overstimulation, and also anticipate high levels of emotional sensitivity, yours or others’, as the risk for impetuous behavior combines with nearly undeniable urges. It’s spring, and we’re sprung – at least in the northern hemisphere. Some of us emerge from winter’s hibernation hungry for everything, and those ravenous appetites motivate a multitude of impulsive decisions. Others stubbornly refuse to leave their caves. Most of us simply need a moment to adjust to the new air, and while patience for that adjustment process is sure to feel like an impossible dream, it would be wise to make every effort to take your time.
Mars and Aries, as well as Mars, in Aries, are the source of this week’s physical and psychic turbulence. Mars needs to move, especially when it’s in its Home Sign of Aries. Mars also needs to compete, to win, and to conquer, which is why it’s the archetype of the athlete, the warrior and the explorer. Mars signifies the need to push physical boundaries by doing battle, whether that battle is physical, ideological, spiritual, or imaginal. All of the descriptions of Mars are also true for Aries, the Sign that needs to forge ahead, lead the team, and boldly go anywhere at any time. And when Mars transits Aries all those Martian qualities are squared – no, make that cubed.
Currently, Mars is conjunct Uranus, in Aries. This is a highly volatile combination because Uranus, already unstable, amplifies that Martian need to move and that excites nervous systems beyond reasonable limits. Sleep is disturbed. Tempers are testy. And the need to relieve the tension can turn a minor brouhaha into a major brawl. Pay attention: This conjunction is exact and separating on March 22, and as many of you know by now, we don’t feel the full effect of these pernicious interactions until they start pull apart. The problem with this particular separation is Pluto: As Mars disengages from Uranus it forms a square to Pluto that amplifies the potential for violence. This square is exact and separating on March 26.
Yes, it is as bad as it sounds, and the only way to handle the intensity is to make a commitment to peace. Put pride aside, along with the strong and almost irresistible inclination to vanquish your opponent. There is no winning under this configuration, because even if you emerge victorious, the stress is certain to cost you a vital piece of your heart.
As the week unfolds, try to think before you speak. And when you speak, choose kind words that have the power to soothe and calm a weary soul.
March 13, 2013
Several planets move from the quiet poetry of Pisces to the dynamic command of Aries this week, and as they shift positions, so do we. For some, it feels like a welcome change of air. For others, the shift is jarring, especially as daily life begins to unfold to a percussive, militant rhythm. For most of us, the altered skyscape catalyzes previously tamped-down situations, which in turn ignite sudden and intense mood swings. These planetary shifts also punctuate the seasonal transition, and because the change from one season to another can often be uncomfortable, there’s a huge potential to turn cranky-pants with everyone over every little thing. And it makes no difference whether you’re waking from hibernation or preparing to go dormant – regular routines could feel like an obstacle course of opposing agendas. We’re in for a challenging couple of weeks, and won’t be easy keeping your discomfort to yourself or your displeasure hidden, and while I am not promoting denial, I am suggesting making a concerted effort to respect your fellow travelers.
On Tuesday, March 12, Mars moved into Aries, its Home Sign, a move that’s sure to have fooled lots of us into thinking Mercury Retrograde was over – but it wasn't. Mercury doesn’t go direct until Sunday, March 17. What you’re feeling as an irresistible urge to get started on all those plans and projects you’ve been putting off until the retrograde coast was clear, is the impetus of Mars, chanting its mantra: “Ready. Set. Go.” Mars is, after all, the principle of motion, and when it transits Aries, movement is a must.
By Friday, March 15 – the infamous Ides of March – Mars moves into a conjunction with Uranus. Pay attention: When Mars and Uranus share the same space, we experience their volatility as the destabilization of previously held positions. In its least pernicious manifestation, this is the reason we are cranky and impatient with any perceived or actual delays or interference. In its most extreme iteration, violence of every variety, from domestic to political, personal or collective, escalates. Avoid needless confrontations. If you want to be heard, save your disclosures for a less encumbered emotional moment that will allow for a discussion. In the midst of so much flack, your words may sound more like a diatribe than an opportunity for dialogue.
Even though it might be impossible to resist the urge to hurry, make it a point this week to take your time. Be deliberate. Aries tends to be impulsive and impetuous, and while that passion has the power to charm us out of tired routines that no longer work, it can also motivate us to leap without looking. And even a seasoned Aries will confess that blind enthusiasm isn’t always the best way to begin a new venture.
And, of course, make a special effort to be nice to your cranky fellow travelers – very few of us actually want to be miserable.
March 6, 2013
Mercury – messenger, communicator, negotiator, traveler, and trickster, extraordinaire – continues to dominate the routines of daily life this week. We’re at the midpoint of the first Mercury Retrograde phase of 2013, which began on February 23 and ends on March 17. While Mercury Retrograde always spells “trouble” with a capital “T” in all areas related to travel and communication, this retrograde hasn’t been nearly as devilish as previous phases. What’s more, this week and next, you might come to love (okay…a slight exaggeration) the precision of this retrograde, given Mercury’s positive relationship to both Saturn and Pluto, a planetary combination that tethers this otherwise irascible retrograde signature to practical matters, as it simultaneously encourages a detailed exploration of the deep. Expect to be pulled along by undercurrents you never knew existed in waters equally unexplored. But also anticipate a fruitful journey.
Most of us know the Mercury Retrograde “you must go over the details more than thrice” ancient astrological command, especially those of us who’ve previously ignored the warning and lost a hard drive, printer, transmission, camera, passport or any other artifact related to travel and communication. Mercury Retrograde is notorious for snafus, because as it seemingly retraces its path, here on Earth, moving forward often feels thwarted by a constant series of interruptions – the battery dies, the fax fritzes (Do we still use faxes?), and all sorts of other obstacles inhibit an easy flow. And even though Mercury Retrograde is an invitation to slow down and take stock of what’s already in motion, few of us actually enjoy the benefits of this mandatory retrospective, probably because we’re too busy complaining about what’s going wrong. But this retrograde has a decidedly different feel.
Mercury is retrograde in Pisces, the Sign of imagination, and as mentioned in last week’s column, home to the vast waters of the unconscious, personal and collective. Mercury represents all intellectual activities, and when it’s transiting Pisces, fantasy easily overrides reality. This capacity to envision is not so much about “be careful what you wish for” as it is about recognizing the power of the mind – you can’t create what you can’t envision (second rule of practical magic). And the pieces of the sky puzzle with the potential to transform Mercury’s flights of fancy are due to the presence of Saturn and Pluto.
Saturn, currently retrograde in Scorpio until July 8, trines Mercury for the next several weeks, and that positive relationship has the power to not only ground Mercury’s imaginative Piscean journey but also to turn some of its dreams into reality through applied discipline. Pluto, currently in Capricorn, sextiles Mercury, not only deepening Mercury’s intuitive capacity, but also sharpening the ability to think critically about those mercurial musings. As an extra component, Jupiter squares Mercury, inflating some of those visions, but Saturn and Pluto easily contain those exaggerations.
On March 12, Mars moves into Aries, its Home Sign, where its fiery disposition burns brightly, and that heat is likely to cause some of the fluid fantasies of Mercury Retrograde, in Pisces, to evaporate. Consider that Martian fire an organizing tool that can help to identify what dreams to make real.
February 27, 2013
It’s such a truly, madly, and deeply emotional week that even the most cynical curmudgeon is likely to feel the tug of all sorts of heartstrings. From the tenderness and passion of romantic love to the care and concern for family to the comfort of spiritual devotion to the fondness of friendship to the love of knowledge or even the thrill of adventure, these sensitive celestial threads have the power to turn even the simplest of daily routines into a sentimental journey. It’s simply feelings, nothing more than feelings, and only the practiced or the professional are likely to maintain good boundaries, so don’t be dismayed if you find yourself or others spilling over. Poignant encounters are probable, and while some of those interactions are certain to be uncomfortable, that won’t diminish their value, and in some cases, the discomfort might deepen intimacy in an otherwise superficial relationship.
A planetary concentration in Pisces – five planets to be precise – provides this emotional atmosphere: Here’s the line-up: Venus, Neptune, and the Sun (also Chiron) are all conjunct in the early degrees of Pisces. Mercury and Mars are also in Pisces, at slightly later degrees. By Friday, Mars pulls away from the pack, but also on Friday, the Sun moves into a conjunction with Mercury. And so the concentration continues, at least until March 12, when Mars enters Aries – but that’s next week’s news.
Pisces represents the rich waters of psyche, where unconscious forces, personal and collective, reside and coalesce, often coming into consciousness through dreams and visions, but also rising to the surface of life as psychological patterns that manifest through negative and positive behavior. But Pisces’ range is not limited to the purely psychological. It’s also the Sign of the poet, and as this week’s concentration of astral forces inhabits that vast region of symbol and metaphor, so do we, especially through the Venus/Neptune/Sun conjunction, which supports romantic imagination and the longing for love. Valentine’s Day is not quite behind us.
Jupiter, once the Ruler of Pisces, is currently in Gemini, forming a square to that Venus/Neptune/Sun conjunction. Squares indicate friction, but Jupiter is a benign stellar influence, and its presence amplifies these already tender waters. At worst, this manifests as exaggeration. But do your best to be good-natured about it. Some of us embellish simply as a way of bolstering a sense of inadequacy and not because we want to cause harm.
Saturn, in Scorpio, continues to trine the Sun, and later in the week, Mercury. Even though this trine occurs in Water Signs, which are by definition fluid, Saturn’s positive presence provides a stabilizing force that will help to establish strong boundaries where boundaries are needed.
While the Mercury/Mars conjunction could foster a feisty mindset, for the most part, it’s a week of gentle sensibilities. Debate, but don’t let an exchange of ideas devolve into a full-blown dispute. Instead, use the spiritual waters of Pisces to enhance our common ground. Most important of all, as the week unfolds, anchor yourself in compassion, and when possible, extend kindness and care to your fellow travelers.
The past becomes the present this week and as a result, daily life is likely to turn into a time warp. Wednesday feels like Monday. Friday feels like last year. And tomorrow feels like yesterday. Try not to let this temporal dislocation throw you into a tizzy. Deadlines are still within reach, particularly if you accommodate the need for greater latitude and leeway on what’s due when. Staying agile – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – is essential in handling the erratic one-step-forward-two-steps-back rhythm of this time warp.
Two retrogrades form the core of the distortion. Saturn began a retrograde phase on Monday, February 18; Mercury begins its first retrograde of the year on Friday, February 23. As these two planets “retrace” their recent paths, we review ours, with an eye toward refining plans, projects, decisions, and declarations recently set in motion. Saturn Retrograde continues until July 8, and during that time we will be reviewing events set in motion as far back as November 15, 2012. This was approximately six weeks after Saturn began its journey through Scorpio, a journey that lasts until December 2014. I find it difficult writing about Saturn’s transit through Scorpio, because the Sign of Scorpio tends toward the secretive; its still waters are the deepest of the astrological system, and understanding that depth requires patience. In Scorpio, we face the challenge of control – this is where we ultimately encounter forces far greater than individual will or ego or even physical prowess, forces that do the work of destiny and fate. Scorpio teaches us that we are not in control, not one bit, and thus, Scorpio is also the Sign where we decide our response to that truth: Will we pretend and posture or surrender and transform? We all have Scorpio somewhere in our birth chart; we all make this choice somewhere in our lives.
Saturn symbolizes discernment, structure, and the capacity to grow from our experiences – it is the critic and the judge, as well as the student and the teacher. As it moves through the uncontrollable currents of Scorpio’s deep waters, it will help us to delineate where we stand, individually and collectively, in relation to forces out of our control – political, cultural, financial, sexual, and environmental. With any luck, we will find the humility, again, individual as well as collective, to face those super powers with an intention to grow.
This first Mercury Retrograde phase lasts until March 17. Most of you know the drill by now, but for the very few who don’t: Mercury Retrograde is not a good time to initiate new projects. It is an excellent time to refine, reflect, and reconsider. As I often point out, retrogrades are not the work of the devil; they are simply a facet of the ongoing planetary tableau, and occasionally can be viewed as a boon, especially when we find ourselves in the midst of a multitude of details that need to be sorted out and reorganized, often through the lens of practical experience.
February 13, 2013
Each time I sit down to write this column I always ask myself, “What stories are the stars telling this week?” And because the sky often tells more than one story at a time, the task of translating planetary patterns into a coherent picture requires holding a strong enough eye and ear to sift and sort through major and minor interactions in the hope of identifying the key themes. Because my eyes and ears tend toward emotional and spiritual stories and because I’m more concerned with causes and consequences than I am with quick fixes, I lean away from the mundane. Or as a friend once put it: “You don’t encourage dinner with a gorgeous stranger unless the dinner conversation will benefit all sentient beings.” So true...but that doesn’t mean I don’t think romance isn’t important. I just believe love stories encompass a wide range of affections, from the boldly passionate and hot-blooded to quietly and abidingly heartfelt and enduring. You don’t have to be “married” to another human being to feel the power of love’s commitment. A true companion can have four legs and purr or four legs and bark. We can also be wedded to work, friends, creativity, a cause, or a practice -- there are as many ways for hearts to engage, as there are stars in the sky.
This week, the planets continue to tell a story of subtle sensitivity. Mars and Mercury are still traveling in tandem through the Sign of Pisces, and on Monday, when the Sun moves into Pisces, it forms an immediate conjunction to Neptune, the planetary ruler of Pisces. Pisces signifies imagination and receptivity. Its domain is as vast as the sea, and its worlds are built on feeling, which is why the problem Pisces always faces is establishing strong shorelines and sturdy boundaries. All Water Signs face this issue, but Cancer can hide beneath its shell and Scorpio can simply withdraw into the deep. But the Piscean call to empathy doesn’t allow a complete withdrawal. The Mercury/Mars conjunction stimulates a need for action, but be wary of acting on assumptions – get the facts first, especially because the Sun/Neptune conjunction feeds a hypersusceptibility to suggestion, which could exacerbate that tendency to assume. This entire Pisces bundle is likely to make it difficult to discern the difference between wishful thinking and intuition. And unfortunately, Jupiter squares the Sun, amplifying the inclination to exaggerate the situation. If you start to feel overloaded or overwhelmed by this Pisces concentration, spend your excess energy dancing. Pisces rules the feet, and dancing is its best remedy.
We’re always telling stories – even when we think we aren’t. And because Pisces and Neptune are the poet’s planets, imaginations are apt to tell sensitive stories this week. Make it a point to listen to all that’s being told. Listen to your body, and notice what you hear deep beneath what’s being said. And pay attention to your dreams – sleep’s stories are often the way hearts reveal treasures that might otherwise lie just out of reach.
February 6, 2013
Astral patterns once again dance between extremes, but this week, the celestial choreography expresses the stark contrast between being vague and being precise, and as a result, attitudes and aspirations span the vast chasm between mushy/gooey and crystal clear. Don’t be surprised if moods, yours or others’, also swing between these poles causing daily life to unfold with two-steps-forward-one-step-back routines. From a positive perspective, this vacillation offers the potential to examine different intellectual and/or emotional positions you may find confusing, again, your own or others’. And as often happens when we walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, the difference in perspective has the power to transform a once tried and true opinion. I know…a new perspective isn’t guaranteed…and sometimes it takes tragedy to facilitate the kind of role reversal that loosens rigid bonds. But if you look closely, for example, at the gun control issue, it’s possible to discern incremental shifts in attitude, even if the pace of change is glacial. The planets are also providing opportunities for intuition to flourish, a condition that turns up the volume on what’s felt but often left unsaid, allowing for a deeper, more authentic conversation.
A Mercury/Mars/Neptune conjunction, in Pisces, provides the key to understanding the flux of the week. Mercury symbolizes the intellect. Mars represents action. Neptune signifies the principle of receptivity. When these three forces combine in Pisces, the Sign of imagination, we experience the potential for an active mind that tends to spend its energy in fantasy. Jupiter squares this entire bundle, and because Jupiter always amplifies and expands, many of us are at risk for wild, even unrealistic dreams to prevail.
The good news is that while some of those fantasies can be easily dismissed as delusional, the Mercury/Mars/Neptune conjunction can also stimulate penetrating insight, especially by the weekend, as both Mercury and Mars pull away from Neptune’s fog and into a trine with Saturn, in Scorpio. Saturn, always pragmatic, grounds the nervous energy of Mercury/Mars, by providing the power of discipline and concentration.
Saturn simultaneously squares Venus, in Aquarius. This square inclines toward emotional inhibition that expresses itself as a hard-hearted attitude. Be wary of the loneliness that stems from this potential for harsh judgment. Rather than attaching to a hypercritical edge, soften, and allow for idiosyncratic behavior, yours or others’. Just don’t expect the softening process to be quick or slick. Saturn moves very slowly for the next two weeks in preparation for its retrograde that begins on February 18. And while we are on the subject of retrogrades: Mercury goes retrograde on February 23. Start those back up engines, now.
The best news of the week is a Venus/Jupiter trine that lasts until Monday. This warm-hearted interaction supports love in all its many manifestations, from friendship to family – and everything in between. Let it help you to remain generous and kind despite Saturn’s critical eye. Most importantly, allow it to feed a joyous perspective, even if life isn’t exactly as you would like it to be.
January 30, 2013
The planets are busy this week and daily life mimics the celestial action. Expect a spring in your step, as well as a sparkle in your eye, and also anticipate a strong sense that this week is the true start of 2013. Sure, we are a month into the calendar New Year and the Chinese New Year doesn’t begin until February 10. But this week provides such strong potential for an optimistic attitude adjustment you’ll feel inspired to reboot and refine your resolutions to align with the new air.
The source of this optimism is Jupiter Direct. Jupiter, retrograde, in Gemini, since October 4, 2012, “turns around” on January 30, and as it gains forward momentum, so do we. Jupiter signifies the principle of good fortune, an expansive global perspective, and, as part of its broad domain, it also symbolizes the quest for truth; Jupiter is the planet of the philosopher. Gemini represents communication and language; it’s the Sign that gathers and disseminates information. Jupiter’s transit through Gemini continues until June 25, and during that time, we are likely to experience an increase, and in some cases, an excess of data. Expect report upon report to offer up valuable facts and figures about past, present, and future plans and projects. For some, Jupiter Direct removes stagnation – the stuckedness of certain situations evaporates in the light of new details, making a fresh perspective possible. For others, Jupiter’s forward motion stimulates an attitude adjustment that allows compromise and negotiation to become viable options. For even more, Jupiter Direct simply generates enthusiasm that can be applied almost everywhere.
Unfortunately, some of that enthusiasm is dampened by a Sun/Saturn square. Saturn represents the principle of discernment. The Sun signifies life, itself. And when these two dynamic forces clash through the harsh edge of a square, the tendency to judge – and to judge harshly – inhibits spontaneity. If you’re holding on to the need for perfection, let it go, and allow for life’s flaws – imperfections are often far more interesting, if only because they tell a deeper, more complex story.
A Mars/Neptune conjunction that began January 29, amplifies the urge to merge, especially by the weekend, when this configuration is exact and separating. Mars symbolizes the process of individuation. Neptune symbolizes the dissolution of the self. This conjunction occurs in Pisces, the Sign that Neptune rules and is therefore strongest in, but it’s also the Sign Mars likes least because Pisces often poses boundary issues, and Mars struggles when personal territory is not clearly defined. This conjunction could feed the tendency to dissolve into the “other” and whether that’s a good or bad experience depends on whether you call that merging codependence or empathy.
Venus moves into Aquarius on February 1 and almost immediately forms a trine to Jupiter. This is a warm-hearted interaction that’s certain to dull the edge of the Sun/Saturn square, as it simultaneously intensifies the Mars/Neptune urge to merge. And while Venus/Jupiter could cause further confusion, it does have the power to deepen a commitment to love as an answer to much of what ails. Allow it to increase a spirit of generosity toward your fellow travelers.
January 23, 2013
The shift continues, and this week, the ongoing process and struggle of transformation can be easily identified through contrasting attitudes and approaches. On one hand, planetary patterns push for innovation, but those visions of the future meet with a grinding resistance that clings to the days of yesteryear. Yet on the other hand, an expansive, and dare I say, optimistic celestial current with the power to replace fear with fact, sweeps aside conservative reserve. But even that mighty voltage encounters a recalcitrant refusal to consider contemporary conditions and creative solutions. As Uranus and Pluto are squaring off, and this week Saturn and the Sun, so are we, and the constant clash of viewpoints and opinions, personal and collective, keeps pressing each of us to determine where we stand and what we stand for. It’s an arduous journey, and whether it’s gun control, abortion rights, gender equality, health care, social services for the poor and others in need, education, immigration, disaster relief, and/or any other issue, there are very few healthy ways to escape participation. Each of us is a thread in the collective fabric and all of our combined choices determine the quality of our cloth.
Innovation comes in through a combination of several patterns. Jupiter, in Gemini, trines the Sun/Mercury conjunction, in Aquarius, while Uranus, in Aries, sextiles all three, and we love this. Mercury symbolizes intellectual processes, and even though it’s close to the Sun, which often indicates a subjective perspective, the Aquarian filter supports the pursuit of radical points of view on persistent problems. Jupiter also tends toward an expansive perspective, and its journey through Gemini is all about gathering and sharing the latest information on a variety of subjects. Positive Mercury/Jupiter contacts provide the possibility of intelligent conversations and an articulate exchange of ideas. We can only hope this potential is used to dispel stagnant systems, personal as well as collective.
Also, be aware that Jupiter goes Direct on January 30, and all week long as it prepares to “turn around” certain areas of life are sure to feel stalled. But don’t despair – the delay is only momentary, and Jupiter’s forward motion will accelerate certain plans and projects, which is sure to bolster spirits.
But Saturn, in Scorpio, dampens the possibility for pure optimism. And this is where we meet the resistance of the week. Saturn squares the Sun/Mercury conjunction, turning attitudes serious in most instances, and downright dour, in others. Be careful not to let an overly critical mind or attitude focus solely on the flaws – sometimes mistakes can lead us to even more interesting creations. On the positive end of the Saturn spectrum, this square emphasizes caution and sobriety, and if you can avoid using its critical eye as a weapon, Saturn’s capacity for discernment might prove to be a beneficial ally.
Hold fast to Jupiter this week, if only because it represents humor, and during times of turmoil and tumult, laughter is one of the best remedies for what ails.
January 16, 2013
The sky sings a slightly different song this week, but not all of its melodies are harmonious, and the discord strains already stressed nervous systems. So don’t be surprised if you or someone close to you calls “time out” more than once, over more than one issue. Especially by the weekend, when obstinate attitudes collide with powerful feelings, creating a perfect emotional storm that’s sure to make many of us dig into already entrenched positions – if only for a sense of stability in what feels like a free-floating universe that’s a little too free for comfort. The good news is no overtly pernicious winds fuel the unrest. Yet to the sensitive among us, there seems to be a mounting tension that underlies activities and interactions.
The major source of disharmony is Mars. Currently in Aquarius (not the source of trouble), Mars is on its own, disconnected to any other planet except the Moon; its lunar liaisons occur on Friday as a sextile, and Sunday, as a square; both of these interactions contribute to the emotional signature of the week. And while many might not think of a lack of Martian interaction as a source of tension, Mars needs to be engaged in order to satisfy its need for movement and action. When that need isn’t met, Mars easily becomes restless, a tendency that might manifest as an inability to concentrate or settle into a regular, productive routine. Children of all ages (including adults who haven’t quite “matured”) are likely to be particularly susceptible to this current, so please be patient and tolerant if their “normal” darting around intensifies.
Another source of discord is the separating Venus/Pluto conjunction. This passionate union stirs compulsive behavior and fanatic love, and as its influence starts to wane, attractions based on infatuation begin to diminish in intensity. Even as the flame dies down, remember to be kind and compassionate toward the once irresistible object of your affection.
The harmony of the week can be found, first, in Saturn’s sextile to the waning Venus/Pluto conjunction. This sextile supports the self-discipline to remedy obsessive fixations. Use Saturn to extricate yourself from unhealthy relationships or to help someone else disengage from a negative interaction. Harmony can also be found in a Mercury/Sun conjunction, and while this partnership tends toward opinions based on personal preference rather than fact-based information, it’s still a stimulating presence, and a light that shines until January 24, when Mercury finally pulls away and they stop traveling in tandem.
There’s an uncertainty to the week that isn’t easy to characterize, especially as the subjective perspective of the Mercury/Sun conjunction coalesces with the Martian “attachment disorder.” Yes… Saturn can provide a modicum of terra firma, but it won’t deliver the entire story and that could be a problem, specifically for those of us who make up stories in order to satisfy a need for control. Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves are accurate representations of the various psychological and spiritual forces at play. Other times, they are simply projections of our internal process – negative or positive. So as the week unfolds, pay attention to the stories you tell yourself and others – those narratives are certain to deliver valuable information about your deepest concerns.
January 9, 2013
A wiry planetary intensity underscores the first full week of 2013, and as its tinny hum works its way through the routines of daily life, nervous systems are apt to feel strained or unsettled. And because most of the astrology of the week tilts toward excess, many of us are likely to find ourselves making radical or extreme choices. For some, that tendency could reveal itself as a peculiar fascination with and/or participation in eccentric, even dangerous liaisons that override caution. For others, those fixations could produce strong emotional surges, and whether it’s fear or joy that drives the action, power struggles over strong attachments are certain. As you work your way through this astro-drama, remember to keep breathing, deeply, and as you do, be sure to keep one foot in front of the other. A step-by-step approach will be the best way to stay steady.
Several sources play key roles:
(1) Four planets – Venus, Pluto, Mercury, and the Sun – are conjunct in Capricorn, the down-to-earth Sign of the pragmatist. Conjunctions concentrate the qualities of the Sign they occupy, and Capricorn is well known for its no-nonsense approach to all varieties of concerns. So don’t be surprised if most of us seem to have a “just get to the point” attitude.
(2) Venus entered Capricorn on January 8, forming an immediate square to Uranus, which will be exact on January 12, and waning in its effect through January 16. Venus/Uranus contacts are infamous for sudden and unconventional attractions. Just be aware, irresistible magnetism can just as easily turn into repulsion when the Uranian intoxication wears off.
(3) As Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, separates from Uranus, she conjuncts Pluto. That intimate union is exact on January 16. Venus/Pluto unions stir compulsive yearnings that often morph into obsessive fantasies. Unfortunately, all too often those fixations have more to do with power plays than actual mutual attraction. Don’t be surprised if you or someone you love or someone you would like to love or someone who would like to love you feels the call of attraction. Just as the Venus/Uranus square promotes creativity, so does the Venus/Pluto conjunction. And if you’re not inclined toward extreme passions, the Venus/Uranus/Pluto configuration can also be channeled into creative endeavors that require unique and penetrating artistic aesthetics.
(4) Mercury is also in Capricorn, conjunct the Sun, an alliance that leans toward a subjective personal perspective and a mindset that identifies with its ideas and opinions, thinking there are no others.
(5) But that’s not all. The Moon enters Capricorn on January 10 and for the next two days excites the entire Capricorn concentration. A Capricorn Moon tends toward a solitary path, but this week isolation isn’t an option, and as the Moon illuminates the depth of the Venus/Uranus/Pluto interaction, deep emotions are sure to surface a desire for contact.
Because Uranus is really at the heart of this week’s wiry pulse, sleep patterns are likely to be disturbed. For those who thought nocturnal peace had returned, get ready to toss and turn. For those trying to manage daily routines, just try to take the week one day at a time.
January 2, 2013
2013 begins with a ten-day whine, and whether you’re a child who’d rather not go to back to school, or an adult who’s dreading a return to the grind, or anyone, really, between the ages of one and one hundred who’d rather stay in the lull of the holiday limbo, cranky is the mood of the moment. But don’t despair – the New Year isn’t solely driven by irritation, and the “crankitude” won’t last all year long. Yes, it’s a year of agitation – there are two more exact Uranus/Pluto squares – and that unrest is sure to manifest as continued dramatic upheaval. But 2013 also holds plenty of opportunities for kinder, gentler approaches to the pressing problems of the planet, and for those willing to assume a conscious stance on a variety of issues, healing efforts, personal and collective, will yield positive results.
The true start of the New Year was on the winter solstice, and on that day, we were under the influence of a dynamic, passionate Moon/Mercury trine. The Moon symbolizes the emotional, intuitive dimension of being human and represents the longing to belong. Mercury symbolizes the mental dimension of being human and represents the vastness of the mind. When the Moon and Mercury combine in a harmonious interaction, we experience the power of thoughtful dialogue to create heartfelt solutions. When the heart and mind work together, they create the potential for empathy and understanding to inform our choices. This is the true power of the feminine: It includes rather than excludes; it moves from separation into unity.
The official start of the New Year was on January 1, and at the stroke of midnight in Greenwich, England, a Moon/Venus trine also signaled the potential for tenderness and grace during the coming year. Venus symbolizes the capacity for love, and represents the creative dimension of human nature. When she unites with the Moon, that union sparks a desire to express love in all its various iterations, from the romantic to the platonic to the transpersonal. Allow yourself to be inspired by this union, and don’t be shy about wearing your heart on your sleeve – the world needs more people who aren’t afraid to care about each other, again, in every variety of ways.
The chart for official New Year also contains a Mars/Saturn square, and this is where we find the cranky. It’s a wide square, that’s exact on January 10, and after that, separating for the next several days. Saturn symbolizes discernment, and Mars, the capacity for self-assertion. When they clash, human interactions become prickly with criticism, inhibition, and resentment. Try not to act out your anger. Belligerence is only likely to make matters worse. Unfortunately, because a Mars/Uranus sextile also informed the first moment of 2013, holding back won’t be easy. This sextile indicates another year of action. Uranus symbolizes revolution, and when it unites in a positive alliance with Mars, freedom fighters feel the fire to break free from whatever enslaves, whether that slavery is physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.
As the first days and weeks of 2013 unfold, contemplate where your energy will be best spent during the coming year. And as you do, consider how your efforts can produce positive, creative transformation in your personal life as well as in the life of the planet.