August 20, 2014
Buckle up! The week unfolds like a roller coaster and you’ll need your safety gear in place to handle the ups and downs: One minute you’re climbing to the top, and the next, you’re flying high, screaming your head off at the all-too-quick descent, and then very next moment, you’re sinking low, so low you’re doubtful you will ever see the top again. And so go the regular routines of daily life in a world already punctuated by extremes. It’s hard to say what the wisest course through the excitement will be. Certain situations could inspire participation—you’ll want to take a stand for what you believe in. But other situations might be best served by bearing witness and holding a non-reactive perspective that has the power to calm, soothe, and encourage peace.
The source of this week’s highs and lows are many-fold: First, the Mars/Saturn conjunction, in Scorpio, continues to tighten its grip; it will be exact and separating on August 25, which is when we will experience the full impact of this difficult interaction. Mars signifies assertion. Saturn represents discipline. And when these two forces share the same space, their combined energy often manifests as the stamina to endure whatever it takes to complete a task with precision. This conjunction also symbolizes the capacity to work hard under a “negative” thumb, especially if the hypercritical voice of Saturn is used to reign in the Martian tendency toward aggression. Unfortunately, because Mars/Saturn contacts demand perfection, it can also incline toward blaming or punishing behavior when there is a failure to achieve the ideal. Try not to create a combat zone of harsh judgment, internal or external. The positive potential of this conjunction is the capacity to transform difficult situations by delineating what’s necessary and having the courage to release what no longer serves.
But that letting go is complicated by a Venus/Jupiter conjunction, in Leo, a combination that tips many appetites as well as activities toward extravagance. The good news is that the “shop till you drop” attitude doesn’t last long, because by Saturday, Venus moves into a square with the Mars/Saturn conjunction, a position that curtails a flair for excess.
Yet at that very same time, Uranus trines Venus, causing electrical sparks to ignite a need for freedom from whatever inhibits. This trine sends flutters through nervous systems, particularly when it comes to sexual flirtations or encounters. Venus/Uranus also enhances creative endeavors of every variety. You can use this interaction it to experiment with a new approach to any and all artistic pursuits.
It’s always challenging to stay calm in the midst of turmoil and tumult, and this week’s wild ride is no exception. While some aspects are sure to be exciting, the other, less extraordinary moments will help to create a much-needed balance. Despite the highs and lows, do your best to stay grounded and focused, and when possible, help others to do the same.
August 13, 2014
He channeled the universe.
And in those moments of his astounding wit,
as we choked on our laughter, barely able to catch our breath,
he managed to make us feel safe despite the chaos of existence.
I wish he could have experienced that same comfort.
It’s really difficult knowing how to present the current patterns in the sky without delving into a multitude of current events on Earth. And because life on Earth is so rife with violence, rooting around in all the places where human suffering is so extreme is simply depressing. And writing an upbeat column delineating positive planetary potential in the midst of the madness takes extra effort. (My personal avoidance tactic would be binge-watching Battlestar Galactica--again.) A couple of months ago, one reader wrote to tell me she was tired of my unrelenting negativity, and all I could do was wonder whether she watched the news—and the news is far worse now than it was then. Each week, as the world careens out of control and the chaos increases, finding the positive angle on the negative underpinnings gets harder and harder. (Yes…I am complaining, but I am not whining. And I’m not going to give up writing each week.) I just want to be honest about how difficult it is for all of us to find our way through the current situation. We need more than the stars to guide a path to peace.
At the core of the conundrum is the inherent neutrality of the planets. The planets do not determine value—we do. This week, the heavenly fire of last week burns even more brightly. The Sun/Uranus trine continues to support self-expression, innovation, and a need for independence. But this week, the Moon joins the Sun/Uranus combination as it moves through Aries for the next couple of days, ramping up the emotional component, an escalation that could lead to fussing and fighting for their own sake. What’s more, a Venus/Jupiter, conjunction, also in Leo, amplifies this already potent force, adding the possibility of excess and exaggeration. The entire aggregation is about passion. But a word of warning: Passion isn’t synonymous with compassion. And how this concentration of planetary fervor manifests is ultimately a value issue: The planets have the potential to inspire positive, creative solutions or to further ignite situations that are already burning out of control. The choice is ours.
By Monday, Mars begins a conjunction with Saturn that is exact on August 25 and lasts until September 4. This is a difficult planetary signature to handle well. Mars signifies self-assertion and taking a stand for one’s self. Saturn signifies authority and limitation. When they occupy the same position, the outcome tends toward conflict, especially as Mars attempts to move beyond the confines of Saturn’s discipline. Yet while this conjunction is infamous as a pernicious influence, it also has a positive piece. Again, we encounter the conundrum. A Mars/Saturn conjunction can be used in a callous manner by aiming its repressed energy at others. Or that same energy can be used for incredible concentration, determination, and precision. Again, it is our choice how the planetary pattern plays out.
One way to understand the mess we are in is to realize that the previous social structures of our societies no longer support the façade of day-to-day reality. The underpinnings are not only revealed, they are exposed: anger, violence, greed, hatred, and fear seem to prevail. But it is essential to see these aspects of human nature as symptoms of a much deeper issue; they are symptoms of separation. When we believe that we are separate from each other as well as separate from the world we share with all sentient beings, we think we have a license to do harm because we do not realize we are only harming ourselves.
On this free will planet, individual choices coalesce and determine the collective narrative. With that in mind, do your best to handle the astral fire with wisdom and skill. And even if it presents a personal challenge, do your best to be of peace.
August 6, 2014
The planets provide a perfect creative playing field this week, and as they generate this dynamic imaginative landscape, we experience the potential for prolonged contact with a passionate muse, a muse whose presence has the power to inspire all sorts of innovative endeavors—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Whether you are an artist, a writer, a musician, a gardener, a house-healer, or someone who sees daily life as the most important canvas, this is the moment to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary and the mundane into the mythological.
The source of this creative force is a powerful trine between Uranus, in Aries, and a Sun/Mercury conjunction, in Leo. Aires and Leo are both Fire Signs, which are notorious for their enthusiasm and zeal, and as a result of that innate intensity, the current configuration ignites an irrepressible desire for self-expression. Add the Sun, which symbolizes the creativity of life, itself, Mercury, which represents all intellectual processes, including the ability to communicate in a variety of mediums, and Uranus, signifying innovation, to this astral fire, and every moment of every day has the potential to transform into performance art. I know you think I am exaggerating, but I am not—just wait, and see how many drama queens flourish under the heat of this blaze.
Anticipate any number of declarations of independence, especially emotional pronouncements about how it’s going to be from now on. Uranus always signals the need for freedom from whatever enslaves or holds us hostage to stagnant patterns that no longer serve. When that urge for freedom combines with the Sun and Mercury, the entire bundle encourages intellectual innovation, as well as an adventurous originality that refuses to be restrained by any restrictions, again, physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. Be bold. Use this potent trine to motivate a new approach or a new attitude. Apply it liberally to all those places that feel stuck. And if you’ve always wanted to try a particular art or craft, just do it—now.
Yes…Saturn squares that Sun/Mercury conjunction, and yes, again, squares are fractious interactions, and this one could feel like cold water on the blazing fire. But that doesn’t have to happen. Rather than using Saturn’s critical eye to find the flaw, use its discerning gaze to help you structure and refine your creative efforts. Saturn doesn’t have to be an enemy. More often than not, Saturn’s presence allows creative ideas to be grounded in the reality of the material world.
Most importantly, this week’s planetary playing field offers opportunities for fun. Seize this moment and spend it creating greater joy in your life. As always, when possible, consider the needs of your fellow travelers, and if you can, help them to experience greater joy in their lives.
July 30, 2014
We’re traveling to the beat of different astral drums this week, and while the forward-motion-nothing-is-retrograde cadence of daily life continues to feel like a relief, adjusting to the new flow may still require effort, especially if things just aren’t going the way you would like them to. If you’re feeling frustrated with the pace, try to keep in mind that it is only four weeks since the retrograde wave of 2014 receded; and when you consider how short a month really is, it’s not at all surprising that some of us are still having a hard time finding our stride. But that’s not the only reason the rhythms of the regular routines are a little out of sync. As soon as the six-month planetary review period ended, two planets shifted Signs, as well as Elements: Jupiter entered Leo, a Fixed Fire Sign, just moments before Mars moved into Scorpio, a Fixed Water Sign. Previously, these two planets occupied Cardinal Signs: Jupiter was in Cancer, a Cardinal Water Sign, and Mars was (endlessly) transiting Libra, a Cardinal Air Sign. Cardinal Signs initiate. Fixed Signs resist.
From an astrological perspective, even those of us who view Mars’ move into Scorpio as a welcome relief to its eight-month concentration in Libra, the shift between a Cardinal “attitude” and a Fixed one requires an adjustment period. Cardinal Signs thrive on action, so although you may have felt stuck for the first half of this year, you might also have felt motivated to do something about it, if only to assuage an uncomfortable sense of futility. Fixed Signs are…well…fixed. They hold fast to their opinions and positions, and they don’t budge easily or move into hasty action—if anything, they resist, taking as much time as they think is needed. Currently, that Fixed reticence to act is exacerbated by a fractious interaction: As soon as Mars and Jupiter changed Signs and started new cycles, they simultaneously formed an immediate square to each other; squares produce friction, especially when each angle of the ninety-degree clash is entrenched in a specific point of view.
The inherent rigidity of this Mars/Jupiter square produces the potential for a peculiar psychic whiplash: We recognize the problem, but can’t find a solution because compromise is almost impossible. From a personal point of view, it will take tremendous effort to create solutions that benefit all the participating parties, and the challenge will be figuring out how to hold the long-term, best interests for everyone at the core of your argument. Of course, what we resist the most is often what needs to transform. And as each of us faces this challenge over the coming weeks, a challenge that culminates toward the end of August, when Mars moves into a conjunction with Saturn, we will need to monitor the need to be right at any cost.
From a collective perspective, we only need to watch the news to witness the violence and destruction entrenched positions can engender. And while it is extremely disturbing to truly take in just how cruel we are to our fellow humans and to our planet—cruelty masked in the name of righteousness—it is equally disturbing to contemplate what positive steps can be taken to help ease the constant bloodshed. Feeling ineffectual in the face of so many battlefields is its own struggle—it is an internal combat zone that challenges the heart and the soul. Unfortunately, there is no antidote to the violence that surrounds us until the people fighting with each other can come to a different consciousness.
Those of us who want to help but can’t figure out how to make a difference in the world can practice psychic civil disobedience: We can refuse to engage in violence in our own lives. No road rage. No spankings. No vengeful behavior. No kicking the dog. No screaming at the barista. No exceptions. This form of nonviolent protest is simply the refusal to obey the societal norms that tell us we should put ourselves first, even when that harms another.
Of course, non-violent resistance won’t be easy because we can always rationalize and justify our reactive bad behavior. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a try, especially when it comes to managing our internal universe—and the violence we do to ourselves that no one sees. No brooding angry thoughts that dwell on all the wrongs of others. No bludgeoning the heart with a scolding litany of all that is wrong with you. No secret wish that harm comes to another because someone else’s suffering will alleviate your own. No blaming another for your situation. No exceptions.
Negative thoughts only give birth to negative words and deeds. And in this time of violence, non-violence is the only solution. I know some of you are thinking that I’ve OD’d on my Pollyanna pills, but I haven’t. While we’ve yet to amass enough people to put an end to war—and we may never—we can certainly end our personal battles and teach ourselves to love, more, and our children to care about each other, more. We are, after all, the most powerful change agents on this planet, and each of us—every individual—has the power to make a difference. Use your power safely and wisely.
July 23, 2014
I think there should be a Mars ritual, this week, so we can clearly mark the end of its eight-month-plus transit through Libra, a trek that began on December 7, 2013 and finally ends on Friday, July 25, as well as delineate the beginning of its seven-week transit through Scorpio, a journey that begins on July 25 and ends on September 13. I’m not sure what a “Bye-Bye Mars In Libra” ritual would look like, although I’m certain just about every Libra would (without a moment’s hesitation) create an interpretative dance expressing both grief and relief. And given that all of us have Mars somewhere in our personal astrological chart, that dance would not be solo for long—multitudes are likely to be grateful for this shift in perspective, a shift that moves us away from what has for many been an unrelenting focus on personal partnerships. Just don’t celebrate too soon—there are still a couple of days left, and those days have the potential to distill the entire eight months of Mars, in Libra, into concentrated decisive action.
Unfortunately, as much as I think there should be equal time to acknowledge Mars’ move into Scorpio (its former Home Sign; Mars is still a co-ruler, but its main domain is Aries.), our collective situation doesn’t lend itself easily to a welcoming rite that joyously delineates the beginning of this new Martian phase. Mars does, after all, represent the warrior, and we are facing far too many battles in far too many locations around the world to be glad that Mars’ aggressive energy will be enhanced for the next seven weeks by its presence in Scorpio. And while it can be argued that overt acts of war are not Scorpio’s modus operandi, it can also be argued that as Mars gathers strength in Scorpio’s familiar environs, the urge to satisfy its need for aggression is likely to intensify. Especially, as Mars, upon entering Scorpio, moves into an exact square with the Sun. On a personal level that Scorpio intensification coupled with the Sun/Mars square, could translate into a need to vie for control, even when there’s no need for control. So unless it’s absolutely necessary, avoid getting embroiled in situations that are only about who’s the boss. On a positive note, a Sun/Mars square stokes ambition and competition, providing the energy and stamina to endure and succeed. Jupiter is also a part of this square, so try to spend your excess energy on positive endeavors—friendly competitions and harmless physical challenges.
And speaking of positive energy, a Sun/Jupiter conjunction, in Leo, fosters optimism, even in the midst of our dire collective circumstances. Jupiter represents expansive good fortune, and when it combines with the generosity of the Sun, a generosity that often knows no bounds, especially when the Sun is in Leo, a positive force takes hold, producing a fertile environment for altruistic idealism and endeavors. This Sun/Jupiter conjunction generates a strong current of hope that has the potential to feed the heart—even broken hearts—and sustain the spirit—even the wounded spirit. Allow it to move you into compassionate action, particularly activities to help children. This conjunction also represents the innocent child—the Divine Child—whose presence lives in all of us, regardless of race, religion, or location. When any child suffers the wounds of war, we all suffer those very same wounds, even if the violence is not immediately recognizable.
July 16, 2014
Jupiter enters Leo today, and as the planet of great good fortune starts a new chapter, we begin a twelve-month-plus phase that promises to be full of optimistic attitudes, enthusiastic risk-takings, strong urges to just have fun, and an ever-expanding potential for a broad and inclusive perspective. Oh…and I almost forgot…creative and romantic inspiration explorations, too. So take a deep breath, allow yourself to stretch, and then, aim your hopes and aspirations high and wide.
We love Jupiter because Jupiter loves the big picture. Its expansive reach informs the ability to stretch beyond the mundane routines of daily life toward a more transcendental view, one that craves a Higher Love, a love that includes an appreciation for diverse philosophies and religions. Jupiter also symbolizes Bacchanalian appetites; anywhere we find too much everything—food, wine, sweets, sex, and extravagances of every denomination—we find Jupiter. Of course, Jupiter’s presence has the potential to manifest as wretched excess, but we generally experience its appetite for life as an invitation to experience greater joy.
Jupiter takes approximately twelve years to complete its orbit around the Sun—11.86 Earth years to be exact—which means it transits each of the twelve Signs of the zodiac for about a year. Because astrology is, actually, a democracy—all of us have all the planets and all the Signs in our birth chart—everyone will experience this new, positive planetary impulse.
We’re likely to feel the full throttle of Jupiter’s move into Leo on July 22, when the Sun also moves into Leo, where the Moon quickly joins it. Prior to that there are two hurdles to overcome: On July 20, Saturn goes direct, and while this is a positive event, we often experience these “course corrections” as a slow-down of some kind. But that’s not all. Uranus also “changes direction” when it goes retrograde the next day, on July 21. We often experience Uranus shifts as a dynamic event, but given that Uranus is not in exact contact with any other planets, this transition could happen without too much of a glitch; it might simply cause some of us to exclaim, “I thought those dreaded retrogrades were over!”
As you move into this next phase, consider where you were for Jupiter’s last transit through Leo twelve years ago. What was that phase like? What excesses would you eliminate and what excesses would you repeat?
July 9, 2014
Welcome to 2014: Part 2, the retro-free second half the year, when all the planets that drive the day-to-day mechanics of daily life—Mercury, Venus, and Mars— are in forward gear, unimpeded by a cosmic impulse to reflect on the past, as well as absolutely free to move at their own pace. If you haven’t already experienced the “direct effect” on attitudes and activities, yours or others’, don’t worry. Some transitions take more than a moment to facilitate. But if you have noticed the change of air, you could find yourself relishing the change of pace, happily making plans or simply enjoying the almost hassle-free ride. And while there are a couple of planetary bumps over the course of the next several weeks, it will be fairly easy to fold those obstacles into regular routines without too much disruption. So if you haven’t already, take a deep breath, and allow yourself to relax.
Mars, once again, sets the tone for this week and the next several weeks, as it enters the last two weeks plus of its seemingly endless journey through Libra. It enters Scorpio on July 25, and as it gets ready to leave Libra behind, Mars squares the Sun in Cancer; this square began on July 6 and lasts until the end of the month; it’s exact on July 19. Sun/Mars interactions are always spirited, and even though squares are known to produce friction, this might not be such an unwelcome energy given that many of us have been in such a strange torpor. (Okay…I actually can’t believe I’m using a word I memorized for the GREs so many long years ago.) Now, as we break free from months of sluggishness, a little fractious fire could spark and ignite ambition and action. I’m not advocating anger or fighting as a way to manage lethargy; I’m simply suggesting that at this particular astral intersection the crankiness of a Sun/Mars square could act as a catalyst for positive change.
Mars also squares Jupiter during Jupiter’s final days in Cancer. Jupiter moves into Leo on July 16—more about what that portends in next week’s column. A Mars/Jupiter square tends toward excess, and one of the ways the tension of this square could manifest is a gnawing anxiety about partnerships of every denomination—personal and professional, romantic and Platonic, intimate and casual. Mars is in the last moments of Libra, the Sign of relating; Jupiter is in its final moments of Cancer, the Sign of security. And the merging of those two themes filtered through the exaggeration of Mars/Jupiter could result in relationship insecurity: She/he loves me…loves me not…. And if the answer is yes…well, how much…and is it enough? And so forth and so on and so goes the litany of emotional uncertainty. On a positive note, this square could also motivate the desire to work on relationship issues in order to find a clear path through the projections and transference that often magnify problems, and sometimes even create problems that aren’t there.
And speaking of relationships, Mars also trines Venus. This positive interaction is exact on July 13, and lasts until July 19. As Mars kisses the goddess of love, many of us might be feeling similar urges or at least inclined, strongly, toward the amorous—the perfect angle to catch the light of Jupiter’s presence in Leo, the Sign of romance.
A lot of planetary activity also contributes to the new view. Several planets change Signs this month: On July 13, Mercury enters Cancer. On July 16—just one week away—Jupiter moves into Leo. On July 18, Venus enters Leo. The Sun moves into Leo on July 22 and, as already mentioned, Mars begins its transit of Scorpio on July 25.
The only potential snag in forward momentum occurs in about a week, as Saturn “slows down” in preparation to go direct on July 20. Uranus goes retrograde on July 21, which means by next week, Uranus will also seemingly move at a crawl as it prepares for its annual review. Both are occurring at the same degree, but at an angle that often indicates missed connections. So while their simultaneous shift isn’t necessarily worrisome, several regular routines might suffer from the strain.
But that’s no reason to put a damper on activities. This week, and the coming weeks of retrograde freedom are wide open with opportunities to grow as well as to have fun. Share that joy with your fellow travelers as often as possible and you’ll be able to watch it grow.
June 11, 2014
It’s another week of retro-fatigue here on Planet Earth. Mercury began its second retrograde phase of 2014 on June 7, and as it reviews its recent past, many of us are likely to review ours. Unfortunately, this retrospective occurs at the end of nearly six months of other retrograde episodes—Venus and Mars dominated the 2014 planetary reassessment. And as a result of this prolonged rehashing of the past, the current Mercury Retrograde has the power to turn moods sour and attitudes dour, which could incite some of us to turn on each other. Especially those caught in their own private Groundhog Day of repetitive patterns they can’t seem to escape. Don’t be surprised if you’re tired. It’s as if our brains, individual and collective—or at least mine—can’t stand one more moment of reflection on situations that are already as processed as Velveeta but just won’t budge. Be aware that this is the week you’re likely to turn to that ‘special’ someone, who keeps repeating the same story ad nauseam, and shout, even if it’s sotto voce, “Just stop it.”
This Mercury Retrograde chapter lasts until July 1. Mercury symbolizes all things related to communication and travel, and when it seemingly moves in reverse, we experience miscommunication as well as delays and detours. Expect to repeat yourself many more times than you would like to, and anticipate extraordinary frustration when no one seems to listen.
But Mercury Retrograde is not the main mood-altering influence of the week. Mars is the prime motivator during Mercury’s review. Over the course of the next two weeks, Mars squares Pluto. This is a fractious interaction that is exact and separating on June 14. Try not to get pulled into squabbles, big or small, because under this Mars/Pluto square they all have the potential to escalate into full-blown battles. Mars also opposes Uranus, which is exact and separating on June 25. This opposition makes breaking up all too easy. So before you give back the ring or tear up the partnership agreement, take a deep breath and consider the consequences of your actions. You are certain to regret hasty action in the morning.
As Mars triggers these Pluto and Uranus, the two uber change agents, it reactivates the intensity of April, making many of us revisit events that occurred during the build up and release of the Grand Cardinal Cross of April 21. Pay attention to your relationships, personal and professional. Mars is planning its exit strategy: It’s been in Libra since December 2013 and moves into Scorpio on July 25, which is not that far away. And as it tidies up the loose ends of its long transit through the Sign of relating, many of us are certain to address lingering relationship issues that haven’t quite been woven into the fabric of daily life.
A commitment to consciousness also requires a commitment to integrating awareness into applied action. During the nearly six month retrograde slog of 2014, lots of us have resisted the temptation to go unconscious, yet some have slipped into old habits that sustain denial. These next several weeks would not be the weeks to disassociate. Instead, make a concerted effort to put selfish interests aside. Drop the demands of petty grievances as well, and join the ranks of those practicing patience. As hard as it is to remember, especially in this crazy world where too many people are losing their grip, we are all traveling this path together. The greater our effort to help each other, the greater our opportunities for peace; so even though it has become a cliché, be the change you want to see in the world.
June 4, 2014
Expect frustration this week as we embark upon the second Mercury Retrograde phase of 2014: It begins the morning of June 7 and lasts until the morning of July 1. And while I usually like to promote Mercury Retrograde as the perfect astral moment to step back and review what is already set in motion, this retrograde already feels like one too many and it’s only just begun. (I don’t know about you but I’m kinda done with the snail’s pace of 2014 and one more moment of deliberation over the details of anything feels like it will only exacerbate my retrograde exhaustion.) Unfortunately Mercury’s “slowdown” collides with the acceleration of Mars Direct, and the result is several weeks of inconsistent rhythms that inhibit any kind of solid pace. Many of us will need patience infusions to keep from falling off the edge of exasperation. Embrace your angst, and then, do whatever it is you do to keep yourself on track. Or, at the opposite extreme, don’t bother with even trying to wrestle down the retrograde and just breathe your way from day to day, reviewing the details, once again, confident in the knowledge that progress will eventually be possible.
Last year I decided it was appropriate to deem Mercury Retrograde a modern sky myth. It happens three times a year (with an occasional fourth phase) when, as a result of our orbital path around the Sun, Mercury seemingly appears to be moving backwards. We know it isn’t, but despite that knowledge, all the areas of life experience symbolized by Mercury do seem to go askew; phones, mail, travel and traffic, to name but a few. Recently, someone questioned my position that the planets are not causal. She said, “You say the planets don’t make things happen, but your advice about Mercury Retrograde is to avoid its influence by following specific instructions. ‘Don’t buy a computer or printer or install new software, etc.’” I said, “Yes, you’re right. And it is one of the great paradoxes of life. But there are certain things I would never do under Mercury Retrograde, like buy a printer, because I know I will only regret it—because I have.” As seasoned astrological travelers know, Mercury Retrograde is a great time to review, reflect, and reconsider plans and projects already in motion, with the hope of finding any details in need of refinement.
But the real problem continues to be Mars, in Libra, steadily coming up to speed after its long retrograde, and as it gains momentum, many of us stirred to action by its intensity are going to feel thwarted in our efforts to get things done; and then angry—very angry—at the delays and detours Mercury Retrograde throws in the path of our forward motion.
But the inability to move from third into overdrive isn’t the only Martian complication. The real issue is a Mars/Pluto square that is in effect now, and is exact and separating on June 14, with the Moon exactly conjunct Pluto. Anticipate a flood of feelings to cause emotional waters to rise, and expect the deluge to be felt most keenly in relationships of every denomination that suffer from inequality. And that’s not all. Fairly soon after that—approximately June 16—Mars begins an opposition with Uranus that is exact and separating on Jun 25. This is a volatile interaction that lends itself to meltdowns, yours or others’. Expect this opposition to have militant overtones as Mars declares itself the leader and Uranus responds with a not so fast attitude that puts Mars on alert, which is certain to inflame already too high levels of discontent. And as this entire bundles collides with Mercury F**king Retrograde, as they say in New Jersey, “Forget about it.”
Just don’t forget about the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And never think there can be too much kindness in the world.
May 28, 2014
It would be beneficial to consider the next six weeks an extended integration period. By July 7, we will be out of what can best be called “the never-ending retro zone of 2014,” and by the middle of July, the regular routines of daily life will begin to unfold at a recognizable rhythm. Bear in mind, there will still be retrogrades, but Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn (by the third week in July) will all be direct, and that translates into forward motion for most of us. But until then we are processing, and by that I mean digesting and metabolizing, the last several months—and all that’s been revealed to us about ourselves and about each other. Try not to hurry through this phase (as if that would be possible) and instead, use it to identify patterns you are holding onto that impede your ability to turn insight into positive action.
This week, we have a tiny six-day open window—from May 28 until June 2—that is free from Mars and Mercury Retrograde. But that window closes on June 3, as Mercury prepares to “turn around”; Mercury stays retrograde until July 1, but it won’t be moving quickly until July 6 or 7. Make the most of this escape hatch, but don’t expect miracles. Even though Mars is gaining momentum, very little about daily life is going to move at an accelerated pace. Be sure to have your patience pills handy.
Retrogrades are always about reviewing previously covered ground, and while it is easy to grow weary rehashing the same material, for the detectives among us, these astral retrospectives can provide a valuable period of reflection and reconsideration. Mars just ended its nearly three month retrograde phase in Libra, and now as it moves forward, it is going to retrace the ground it covered during its retrograde, and so will we. Decisions made during that time, alliances formed or forged, marriages, divorces, friendships, professional partnerships, and all other varieties of interactions fall under this Mars Retrograde rubric, so don’t be surprised if you’re still in the thick of it.
Also anticipate that loose ends—people, plans, or projects—that you thought were completely tied up and out of the picture to reappear for a cameo appearance at the midpoint of this six-week integration phase. Forward moving Mars forms an exact square to Pluto and the Moon (both in Capricorn) on June 14, and within degree range of the Cardinal Cross. And while Uranus and Jupiter will not be playing a role in this iteration of the astro drama, Mars is sure to raise the specter of circumstances and interactions related to mid and late April, as it once again clashes with Pluto. Expect the week before as well as the week after this contact to be highly charged and deeply emotional.
June’s Mercury Retrograde can be seen as an assisting presence, if only because it’s insisting that we continue to make the time and to take the time to figure out what it is that we’ve learned in the last several months about how we relate to ourselves and to each other, from a personal as well as a collective perspective. Rather than resent the delay and detours that accompany Mercury’s retrospective, make the most of this detailed review, for once we return to “normal” (which of course isn’t possible) there won’t be a lot of time to fuss over the details in the hope of finding the many hidden clues about how and why our behavior is so often not as kind as we would like it to be.
May 21, 2014
Mars shifts the astral winds this week as it moves ‘forward’ for the first time in nearly three months, and even though the goin’ will be slow until the planet of energy gains momentum, the air starts to clear almost immediately. Plans and projects as well as situations and circumstances that only seemed to simmer these last several months are definitely going to come to a boil. Expect people to be excited—just ‘cause. Also anticipate having to handle a multitude of mundane tasks that just can’t be put off any longer. Mars Direct equals very busy.
Mars went direct on Monday, May 19, at 9:31PM EDT; it won’t go retrograde again until April 2016, so that sigh of relief can last as long as you like—so long, you might even forget that Mars will ever be retrograde again. But back in present time, Mars is still in Libra, the Sign of relating, a transit that began in December 2013 and ends on July 25, late in the day. Please don’t confuse Mars Direct with the end of its transit through Libra, and therefore, our seemingly endless relationship intensive. Mars went direct in an exact trine to the Moon, in Aquarius, a signature that certainly signals more to come when it comes to personal and professional interactions. Expect Mars to melt the ice of frozen positions and polarized roles, and as these cool waters seep into the routines of daily life, emotional flooding, yours or others’, is probable. What’s more, as Mars completes its journey through Libra, all manner of partnership issues are going to present themselves for a “last” look. Use this time constructively by having the courage to stand in your feelings and examine rigid stands that may be keeping you mired in patterns you would rather shift.
As the week unfolds you’ll be tempted to rush ahead, a totally reasonable response to our collective release from retrograde captivity. Just keep in mind that it will take Mars at least a week to gather speed, and as it hurries up, it collides with Mercury’s second retrograde phase of the year that begins June 7 and ends July 1. Pay attention: The period of time between May 28 and June 4 is a retrograde free zone—the only one in quite awhile. We will enter the next non-retro zone in the beginning of July and despite the lazy, hazy days of summer, daily life is likely to resemble a feeding frenzy of activity.
I know I don’t have to say this, but I will anyway…as Mars gathers its strength many of us are sure to do the same. So as you feel your might, remember to continue to be kind to your fellow travelers. And when possible use some of your strength to help those in need of assistance.
May 14, 2014
Even the most mild-mannered among us are likely to be challenged this week, and not because the planets are aligning in difficult patterns—if anything, they are calming down. But a slightly less riled celestial attitude doesn’t immediately translate into less terrestrial agitation. The challenge, here on Earth, is figuring out how to maintain an even-tempered attitude in the midst of so much disheartening information about our current collective situation, with all of our ongoing religious, political, physical and economic crises. The planets have been stirring the pot for quite some time, and now it seems we’re left with a roiling caldron of change in desperate need of our attention—and if you have the time to pay attention, it all feels too overwhelming to tackle. From a personal perspective, many of us—perhaps too many—are facing the dismantling and collapse of belief systems that used to sustain hope and fortitude. The word that’s been repeated to me in so many recent conversations is “disheartening.”
But don’t give up yet. Margaret Mead was right: “…a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world.” And if most of us take the time to look around at our communities, it is possible to see consciousness in action, as well as innovative, ingenious spirituality being applied to local and global situations in dire need of positive, peaceful solutions. These “activist” endeavors don’t get time on the network news shows, but they are deeply and steadily exerting an influence that will eventually erode the negative status quo. So rather than being disheartened, take heart in the efforts of your fellow travelers, even if those efforts seem silly at first or minimal and inconsequential. Remember, we’re in the midst of a massive evolutionary process and turning the wheel of our collective life away from violence and greed is going to take a gargantuan united effort, an effort greater than the sum of its parts that will only succeed if all the parts participate fully.
From a more mundane (but not less practical) perspective, this week’s astral influences coalesce into a confusing stop/start rhythm that’s simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting. One minute you’re lying down on the couch passed out in an instant, while the next you’re up and out the door ready to move into action. This extreme flux can be attributed to Mars, as it gets ready to go direct on Monday, May 19. Do I hear a sigh of relief? Don’t get too excited just yet. Mars slows to a crawl for the next two weeks, and that snail’s pace not only frustrates Mars, who is ready to gather momentum and move forward, but it also frustrates all of us who are just tired of this seemingly endless retrograde. Be patient—the end is in sight. And those of you tired of looking at relationships, Mars leaves Libra, the Sign of relating, on July 25—only two more months of relationship intensives to go.
A Venus/Uranus conjunction, in Aries, feeds the need for excitement, so even if you’re tired, you’ll still be in the mood for romance. Venus is the goddess of love and beauty, and when she shares the same space as Uranus, the god of invention, they engender erotic arousal, unusual sexual choices, and immediate gratification. Be aware: The motto for Venus/Uranus contacts is “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.” Pluto squares this Uranus/Venus coupling, and its presence could translate into power struggles. For those not interested in erotic or romantic encounters, this entire Venus/Uranus/Pluto bundle fosters all sorts of creative activities.
Try not to let the Plutonian power struggles or the Martian frustration devolve into petty squabbles that will do nothing more than excite the ethers with aggravation and emotional bodies with anxiety. What’s needed these coming weeks is tolerance and acceptance. That doesn’t mean tolerating injustice or accepting violence. It means making a strong effort to find innovative ways to widen the bandwidth of your personal contribution to the collective evolutionary process.
May 7, 2014
We’re traveling through a peculiar planetary dimension for the next couple of weeks, and while it is not quite the Twilight Zone, where reality seems to slip away, we are in the Retro Zone, a dimension that distorts time—and sometimes space. Anticipate moments where time seems to stand still (even if that’s not possible) and count on it happening the most when you’re in the biggest hurry. Yet while some moments feel like an eternity, others evaporate at the speed of light, making it hard to luxuriate in what feels satisfying. The astrological reason for this distortion is mostly due to Mars—it’s slowing down for the next couple of weeks as it prepares to go direct on May 19—only eleven days away. But even when Mars is finally moving forward, it won’t shift into it normal “full speed ahead” pace until the second week of June. But don’t get too excited just yet. Mercury goes retrograde on June 7 (more about that in future columns), keeping us in the Retro Zone until the middle of July. (Yes…I know; it’s a retrograde hell zone—but we knew going into 2014 that it would be a year of retro-activity.) So keep poppin’ those patience pills. And as always, try to be kind to those who will still insist on pushing the river.
For now, we are caught in a Martian thrall, and it’s a problem because while Mars is moving at a crawl, emotional bodies aren’t equipped to tolerate its snail pace, and that intolerance is sure to engender more than a few meltdowns—yours and others.’ Being patient, holding your tongue, allowing for mistakes, and trying to trust that the timing will be appropriate—all these issues are going to ride the surface of the Mars “turnaround”. But that’s not the crux of this Mars influence. Mars is retrograde in Libra, the Sign of relationships, which means partnership problems are the main event, and as this retrograde phase comes to an end, relationship issues are going to dominate daily life even more than they already have. (Oy.) Keep in mind that this includes all relationships, from the personal to the professional to the casual to the intimate, as well as family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, and, most importantly, your relationship with yourself.
Mars is the planet through which we take a stand for ourselves—it’s the arms and legs of the ego and it symbolizes how we move in and through the world. It entered Libra in December 2013, placing the emphasis not only on how we move in and out of relationships, but also how we stand in relationships. Mars began a retrograde phase, in Libra, on March 1 and as Mars retraced its path, we revisited relationship issues that might have been previously glossed over or we thought were long gone. Now as Mars starts to close that retrograde window—it goes direct on May 19—many of us are likely to receive a detailed inventory on just what needs to “move” even more in both attitude and application when it comes to relating to just about everything. (Yes…I know that is a broad and sweeping generalization, but I’m stickin’ with it, if just for a couple of weeks.) If you’re stuck in a bad marriage, friendship, or family interaction, this could be the moment to step back and look at your participation in the negativity. Remember the first rule of a harsh, judgmental charge on someone else’s behavior: You spot it—you got it. We can’t control another’s behavior, but we can witness how our reaction to that behavior is repetitive and then decide whether or not we want to shift into a more positive position. No matter what your relationship status, the coming weeks provide a plethora of opportunities to bring awareness to partnership patterns.
One of the best ways to handle the coming weeks is to be mindful about creating better balance in all your relationships. If you’re always the caregiver, make it a point to receive, and if you always receive…well…you know that old adage—so just start giving to those in need. Most importantly, realize that we are always in relationship to the world around us—the air we breathe, the food we eat, the ground we walk on are all parts of our shared universe. As are our fellow travelers, no matter how far apart our ideas and values may be.
April 30, 2014
The astral force field of the last several weeks is finally starting to loosen its magnetic grip, and as the Grand Cardinal Cross pulls apart and the tension inherent in that configuration starts to let go, lots of things—thoughts, feelings, words, and choices—are certain to let loose. As we experience restraints releasing, practicing wu wei –the Taoist practice of no unnecessary action—quickly becomes a thing of the past (which is a pity because it is a powerful remedy for reactive patterns no matter what the astral weather). As the week unfolds, certainty replaces anxiety, and because many of us will be feeling a call to action, the desire to “do” overrides the caution and consciousness of more mindful responses. Pay attention: Relationships, personal as well as professional, already suffering from the stress and strain of recent weeks, aren’t likely to have the capacity to endure one more moment of additional tension. And that fatigue could cause many to overreact, turning the simplest of exchanges into a nuclear meltdown. Patience is a necessary virtue this week—and patience will not be easy to hold onto because as the need to act swells with strength, it collides with an equally strong opposing force. Mars is preparing to go direct. But unfortunately Mars has its own timetable, and this is just week one of a 3-4 week phase, and this week, Mars is only beginning its preparations. Which is why it would be wise to take baby steps, trusting that no matter how slow things seem to come together you will eventually find your pace, hit your stride and reach your goal.
Mars, by its nature, is a forward moving astrological force. It’s been in Libra since December 7 and leaves Libra on July 25. This is a long time for Mars to journey through a Sign; it usually transits a Sign for approximately six or seven weeks. What’s made this transit through Libra so long is a retrograde phase that began on March 1 and ends on May 19. Don’t get too excited—it going to take Mars more than a moment to gather forward momentum. What’s more, as Mars prepares to make its “course correction” it almost stands still. Of course, that’s not physically possible, but daily life is sure to feel sluggish and stalled. As this slow down meets the “OMG…we’re out of the Grand Cross elation” frustration is probable. Do your best not to take it out on your fellow travelers, who are also feeling these contradictory planetary pulses. A word of caution: Mars is still pulling away from Pluto and Uranus, and even as it turns around and then goes forward, it stays within close reach of this Uranus/Pluto square. All of which translates into an ongoing volatile signature. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself caught in an “it’s on/it’s off” again pattern, unable to stay or go from any number of difficult situations.
A Sun/Pluto provides plenty of positive support energy as well as the stamina to tackle almost any project. Aim this powerful influence at situations requiring physical strength and you’re apt to get a lot done despite these Martian obstacles.
It’s a good week to take a deep breath that allows you to observe and assess just where you are and how you got here. The solar eclipse on April 29 is sure to have brought to light themes and issues that may have otherwise stayed hidden from view. Perhaps you’ve discovered that you’ve been lost in projection. Or uncovered hidden intentions, yours or others’, that are finally on the surface of your exchanges, a revelation that allows you to realize that you aren’t crazy and you weren’t just “making it up.” Whatever information is coming to light, positive or negative, simply consider that better informed is better informed—and with all the cards on the table you can make better, more informed choices. Above all, try to be as kind as possible to your fellow travelers. This leg of the journey has been a hard one for most of us, especially children who have little or no agency and are subject to the whims and will of their parents.
April 23, 2014
This is “it”—we’re here, finally, at the crisis point in the current series of Uranus/Pluto squares, a fractious cycle that began in June of 2012 and continues through March 2015. This week, the fifth exact square forms the foundation of a Cardinal Grand Cross, a configuration that ups the ante on local as well as global intensity (as if that’s possible) and brings “things”—in all those places of tumult and turmoil, personal as well as collective, to a head. This configuration was exact and separating Monday into Tuesday, with Mars putting a period at the end of this long cosmic sentence, today. As Mars separates out of this celestial formation, it signals what might be best understood as the “tension release phase” of a Grand Cross (or any pernicious interaction), a phase that is normally characterized by action—and lots of it. This phase is likely to be defined by decisive acts intended to facilitate personal and collective liberation. Be prepared for declarations of independence as many of our fellow travelers strive to break free from whatever enslaves. From a collective point of view, this tension release phase is likely to exacerbate areas around the globe that are already suffering from too much stress and strain. From a practical perspective, we don’t need the stars to tell us that we are in trouble. We’ve been at an evolutionary crossroad for quite sometime, with far too many issues in need of the healing power of our combined concern. But the urge toward social justice and reconciliation must come from the coalescence of individual acts of evolution into the collective will, and we haven’t yet reached critical mass.
Because this Grand Cross is sandwiched between two eclipses, many “things” that were previously obscured are revealed. Nothing stays hidden under the intense glare of this penetrating astral light—nothing, not even secrets buried so deep, you almost forgot about them. But don’t be alarmed; while this sounds threatening, you don’t have to actually take your skeletons out of the closet and put them on display; or start reciting that deeply suppressed monologue that assesses the faults of others in a less than compassionate way; or cop to the unusual yearnings you hoped would stay private; or annul your vows even if it means putting pride aside and admitting your mistake; or publish your confessions for crimes, large and small, committed out of ignorance and/or fear in the recent and not so recent past.
Of course, it might actually be a great relief to finally tell the truth—if only to yourself. Don’t worry; even if you slip and share a little too much information in conversations with others, those listening to your story are likely to be too busy protecting their own secrets to pick up on the potency of yours. It’s just that you won’t be able to escape the power of revelation and recognition; you won’t be able to avoid the keen light of your own mind as its shadows are suddenly laid bare. “Know Thyself” is one of the precepts associated with the Temple of Delphi; it is also the foundation stone for all personal healing.
Times of great upheaval test our mettle, challenge us to grow, help us forge our soul, and ask us to summon the courage to transform. And this is one of those times: Take a realistic inventory on where you are and how you got there. And if you don’t like your situation, it’s time to figure out how to change it. Or as a dear friend always asks at the end of politely listening to a victim’s lament: So what are you going to do about it?
I don’t usually end a column with a song, but this week, there’s a song I can’t get out of my head: “You’ve been disturbed from your sleep…Your body’s tired and sore…Your world’s fallen down around you…not the most comfortable place…this is it…time to meet your soul…this is it, set it free, let the light inside shine from the inside out….” This is it (Your Soul) by the Hothouse Flowers. http://tinyurl.com/l4ffmps
If you want the astrological details, please refer to the last several weeks of columns, which delineate all the planetary players. You can find them here: http://www.aquariumage.com/2014.html
April 16, 2014
Sometimes it takes a lunar eclipse to remind me that I am on a planet that’s spinning on its axis at approximately 1,000 miles an hour, as it orbits a star that’s approximately 93,000,000 miles away. It’s only when I get a clear experience of Earth’s constant motion that I even begin to understand just how powerful the illusions of samsara actually are. Blame this particular illusion on science and gravity if you prefer, but as Willie Nelson sings, “Still is still movin’ to me.” The illusion (and in some cases delusion) of stillness is a powerful metaphor for the astrological phase we are currently in the midst of. Paradigms are shifting at an alarming rate, and yet, because so much seems to remain the same, it’s hard to grasp the idea that so much more is shifting. Earthquakes of consciousness are occurring daily in the lives of so many people, and as a result of social media, for the first time in history, the tools for handling the upset and upheaval of shattering events, as well as the aftershocks of those occurrences, are available almost instantly. In the illusion of stillness, we are evolving at an ever-accelerating pace.
The planets continue to align in a powerful configuration—a Cardinal Grand Cross—that symbolizes the potential to break through as well as break free from whatever enslaves. On April 21, this unusual alignment of Mars, Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto will be exact and separating, and as it pulls apart, situations held taut by tension of fractious polarization—real or imagined, physical or psychic, material or spiritual, personal and collective—release; some of the ties that bind will not hold, some will. Most of us will feel the need to take a deep breath. [For more on the specifics of this combination of planetary forces, please refer to the last several weeks of columns. http://www.aquariumage.com/2014.html]
The soul work of this week, next week, and the many, many weeks to follow is to notice not only your reaction to these releases, but also your participation: Where are you yearning for freedom—and why? Do you want to end a relationship or begin one? Quit your job? Move to another country? Tell someone to go....? Whatever it is, you will be hard put to hold onto the status quo of “normal” reality. And while nothing may seem to shift obviously, dramatically, or directly, be aware that beneath the skin of superficial appearances the body of regular routines is being redefined. Stay present, and try not to be lulled into a false sense of stasis. Motionlessness is a mirage.
April 9, 2014
The veils between the universes grow increasingly thin this week, and as this transparency clarifies what was previously hidden, we have almost too many opportunities to witness what’s already in motion. Too many simply because it’s possible to view both the causes and the conditions, negative as well as positive, and it takes a clear mind to maintain such discernment. From now until the beginning of May, astral activity allows a lucid view of how the past intersects with the present to create the future. Pay attention: It’s important to walk between these many worlds carefully, not because the path is particularly dangerous—although some will say it is—but because during times such as these, the gods have little tolerance for hubris, and an arrogant misstep could take a long time to repair.
Several events give rise to these thinning veils. First, there is a lunar eclipse on April 15; next, we are approaching the fifth exact Uranus/Pluto square on April 21, which forms a powerful Grand Cardinal Cross; and a solar eclipse on April 29 puts a period at the end of a very long paragraph of celestial intensity. Each of these occurrences is potent on its own, but as they overlap, they coalesce into a unique signature that portends extreme change. Consider the last several weeks as basic training, and the next several weeks as actual engagement, but not necessarily with an external enemy; internal enemies often wield more power than we would like to admit. And most importantly keep in mind that for many of us, the current configurations are beneficial and positive—even if they don’t look that way—because tremendous creative energy is embedded in their potency. But for most of us, finding and using this creative current means putting pride aside; you need to be willing to have a beginner’s mind, a mind uncluttered and unfettered by assumptions, as well as an attitude unsullied by entitlement.
As many of you know, the intensity of daily life has been gathering momentum as we’ve been approaching the fifth exact Uranus/Pluto square on April 21. For those of you new to this information, we are currently in a series of seven Uranus/Pluto squares that began in June 2012 and ends in March 2015. The April 21 square is the most confrontational in this series because it constellates as a Cardinal Grand Cross. The square between Uranus, in Aries, and Pluto, in Capricorn, is joined by Jupiter, in Cancer, as it squares Uranus and opposes Pluto; Mars, retrograde in Libra, simultaneously opposes Uranus as it squares Jupiter and Pluto. Mars, Uranus, and Pluto all symbolize energy. Mars is physical force. Uranus signifies the instability, as well as the suddenness of change. Pluto represents transformation at the core, and its presence is always indicated by death and rebirth. As these planets join forces, many of us are likely to experience surprising, startling, and in certain instances, life changing events with immediate effects. Jupiter amplifies the entire bundle, a role that is certain to escalate and accelerate what already feels overwhelming.
But it is the Moon that sets the tone for understanding at least a small portion of how this Grand Cardinal Cross plays out. (Even though the Moon is not involved by the exact degree on the day of the actual event I would argue that it participates directly in triggering the square. See below.) On April 14, just prior to the lunar eclipse, the Moon opposes Uranus and conjuncts Mars. Anticipate mood swings, lots of them, yours and others’, and pay careful attention to children, young and old; this interaction could spark issues that have the power to ignite bonfires over the coming weeks. Lunar eclipses put the emphasis on practical matters, and given the “me” concerns of Aries versus the “our” concerns of Libra, relationships are sure to be focus of this eclipse, especially what and whose needs are the most important to acknowledge.
The next “phase” of the Moon, relative to the Grand Cross on April 21, occurs on April 20, as the Moon, in Capricorn, conjuncts Pluto, squares both Mars and Uranus, and opposes Jupiter, in Cancer. And this is when circumstances, especially those held together by desire, insistence, or will power, start to unravel. The presence of the Moon amplifies the emotional component of every situation that is already at risk for destabilization. Be prepared for meltdowns, again, yours or others’, as the need to hold on to certainty strains against the inexorable forces of change. Be aware, this square is about catalyzing stagnation; it’s not about disruption simply for drama’s sake.
April 20 will move into April 21 and while I’ve watched and written about this day, I am still uncertain about whether it will manifest as an actual event or if all the things that are already occurring are the myriad manifestations of this potent Cardinal Grand Cross. What’s more, I am beginning to think that the deeper quality of this fifth square speaks to millions of personal revolutions, tiny tsunamis of consciousness that will eventually combine into a sum that is greater than its parts. This is, after all, how a true revolution occurs—one heart at a time.
But the effect of the Grand Cross won’t end on April 21. When tight astrological formations separate, the tension releases and that means the weeks following April 21 are as intense as those leading up to it, if not more intense. On April 27, the Moon conjuncts Uranus, in Aries, forming an opposition to Mars, and a square to Jupiter and Pluto. (Yes…the beat goes on.) Expect this new iteration to engender even more conflict, and this time the emphasis is once again on individual needs and how to get them met, especially the need for personal freedom in relationships of every denomination.
The solar eclipse on April 29 occurs at 8 degrees Taurus, well beyond the range of any of the planets still separating out of the Grand Cross. But that doesn’t mean we won’t still be feeling its effect. During a solar eclipse, unconscious concerns, symbolized by the Moon, overshadow conscious concerns, symbolized by the Sun, and as a consequence, feelings previously held in denial rise to the surface of daily activity. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine that anything would be left unsaid by the end of this month, but some of us are better at silence than others. And some of us take longer to process what we are feeling than others. What’s more, because the effect of an eclipse is often felt several weeks before or after the actual event, many of those suppressed feelings are likely to have already surfaced. What the solar eclipse might trigger are responses to what has transpired.
For all those people who couldn’t help but take action last week, don’t worry; the opportunities to apply discernment continue to be plentiful. For those of you who were able to take no unnecessary action, and are continuing to apply the Taoist notion of wu wei…congratulations. Restraint is never easy, especially now, when the urge to act is its own reason to be.
This week, do your best to witness while you work. Remember, this is a powerful time to view the multidimensional nature of existence. It is also a powerful time to let go of negative patterns that no longer serve. To all the people choking on the bitterness of the past, let it go—do not let the sludge of a grudge continue to fester in your system. Bitterness is an expensive habit; it costs you family, friends, and the freedom to stand in the world unencumbered by negativity. For those of you who are embracing the idea of non-attachment as a solution to the intensity of the days and nights, keep practicing. Refuse to cling to a small perspective, and instead, reach for the broadest possible worldview. Most importantly, try to be kind to your fellow travelers. We are all in this together, and everyone is actually doing their best to make it through these waves of change.
April 2, 2014
It’s always interesting when the stars make “confrontation” their default setting. And I’m using “interesting” in that enigmatic and loaded way we’ve come to use the phrase, “May you live in interesting times”—a phrase wrongly attributed to an ancient Chinese curse, but nonetheless part of our modern vernacular. Robert Kennedy used it in his University of Cape Town speech on June 1966. I referred to this speech in May 2012, as we were approaching the first in this current series of seven Uranus/Pluto squares that occur between June 24, 2012 and March 17, 2015, because these squares are part of an astrological cycle that began in the mid-sixties. I also referred to that speech, and am referring to it again two years later, because it is uncanny just how much of it is still applicable. As I wrote then: Kennedy referenced the notion of living in “interesting times” and what is required of those who do. He calls those interesting times – nearly fifty years ago -- times of “danger and uncertainty” but also times that are “more open to creative energy” than “any other time in history.” (http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/Ready-Reference/RFK-Speeches/Day-of-Affirmation-Address-news-release-text-version.aspx)
The fifth Uranus/Pluto square that occurs on April 21—the one we are currently approaching—is probably best described as the most confrontational in the series. Mars, still retrograde in Libra, forms an opposition to Uranus, in Aries, as well as a square to Pluto, in Capricorn; and Jupiter, in Cancer, forms an opposition to Pluto as well as a square to both Uranus and Mars. This entire configuration is called a Cardinal Grand Cross, and it is best described as a highly intense and stressful aggregation of planetary force that builds its power as the formation tightens into exact degrees and then, releases as the planets start to separate out of those positions. Cardinal Signs are given to action, so as this Grand Cross intensifies its grip, so do the problems we are facing, personal as well as collective.
The mounting tension of this Grand Cross is sure to show itself as behaviors, our own or others’, that we can no longer tolerate. Or as secrets that can no longer hold themselves back from being spoken. Or as dreams that convey messages across dimensions of time and space. Or as longings that can no longer be denied. The need to act up or act out in relationship is driven by Mars, retrograde in Libra, and its determination to ferret out imbalances in all sorts of relationships. The urge to break free from constraints, real or imagined, is fueled by Uranus, in Aries, sparking personal and collective movements for independence. Pluto, in Capricorn, makes its contribution by shaking the foundation of systems that no longer serve. And Jupiter, in Cancer, exacerbates the entire bundle by infusing volatile situations with issues of safety and security.
The best way to handle this astral tightening is to refuse to take any unnecessary action. No unnecessary action is also the best way to handle the release of the intensity after April 21. Wu wei is the Taoist notion of action without effort or control. It’s action that exemplifies the way of water, which yields naturally to obstacles, and neither argues, pushes, nor opposes, but rather adapts its course around obstacles or simply wears them away. There is nothing passive about water; for the Taoist, it is the strongest substance—all one has to do is look at the Colorado River and the path it cuts through the Grand Canyon to get the point. Wu wei is not motivated by ego and its array of negative behavior—greed, fear, anger, and so forth, all of which can be seen as unnecessary action; wu wei, through its effortless action, simply exemplifies the Tao, the ineffable, primordial essence of the universe.
As the coming weeks unfold, pay attention to where you are tightening your grip and then be determined to release it. It will do no good to push against this river of astral intensity; the only thing to do is to let it transform you. That doesn’t mean letting go of what matters to you; it means trusting that because it matters it will withstand without your constant grip. And when possible, avoid angry confrontations, lines in the sand, and ultimatums. Words spoken in haste are likely to beget regret. Lines tend to change, particularly when they are drawn in sand. Ultimatums are often more fluster and bluster than they are accurate assessments of reality. Finding a way to flow with the intensity will lessen everyone’s suffering, including and especially your own.
March 26, 2014
A deep hum underscores the routines of daily life, this week, and you won’t have to listen too closely to hear it. But even if you can’t identify its heavy rumble, you’re more than likely to feel its pulse. We’re in the gravitational pull of the fifth exact Uranus/Pluto square that occurs on April 21, and its relentless intensity has the power to place many of us into situations, conversations, and declarations we might otherwise avoid — even if we’ve visualized those moments in the privacy of our own minds for quite some time. The current iteration provides the push to break free from whatever enslaves—real or imagined. And that need for personal freedom dominates many, if not all, the activities of this week, as well as for the next several weeks, culminating on April 21, and continuing to release for at least a week after the actual event. Living a conscious life is going to take more than the usual effort, especially if you want to turn the wheel of your individual life in a more creative and positive direction.
A Sun/Uranus conjunction, in Aries, drives this almost compulsive need for freedom. This fiery, dynamic union feeds activists for every cause, which means that rebellion—justified or not—intensifies everywhere there is already strife. But it also encourages individual rebellion, which in so many ways is Aries’ strong suit. Expect to hear just about everyone—even you—singing endless choruses of “I gotta be me; I gotta be free.” What’s more, by Saturday night the Moon joins this conjunction, turning it even more tempestuous with strident emotions. Try not to make bold, broad, sweeping statements that sound good in the moment, but actually only contain small grains of truth.
But that’s not all: Jupiter squares this bundle, pushing some of those independence declarations excessive. And if all that isn’t enough, Pluto also squares the Sun/Uranus conjunction (with the Moon, Saturday into Sunday), as it simultaneously opposes Jupiter. Pluto’s presence adds power struggles to the mix, an ingredient that could morph simple demands into complex negotiations. If you are going to take a stand, make sure it’s worth the energy, and not just an ego exercise that satisfies a conscious or unconscious need to feel in control.
Over the next couple of weeks, as the tension mounts, many of us will be experiencing a deep sense of uncertainty, and whether that disquiet is physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual is dependent upon many factors, not the least of which is where each of us stands within, in our hearts, or what I like to call “true home.” We live in interesting times, times that can be used to strengthen that internal center by allowing the heart to find its deepest truth and then doing whatever is required to honor that wisdom.
March 19, 2014
It’s “Psychic Sensitivity Week” here on Planet Earth, so don’t be surprised if skins, yours or others’, feel more than a little thin. And because so many of us are already sore and bruised from what is best described as the unrelenting intensity of simply trying to get through the days, lots of us are sure to be more than a tad reactive. As you attempt to deal with this hypersensitivity—again, yours or others’—try to notice how often you fall into old attitudes as a way of defending yourself from being overwhelmed; not just overwhelmed by how much is happening around you, but also overwhelmed by how much personal growth is still necessary to ride these waves of change, skillfully. Also pay attention to the stories you tell yourself to explain what doesn’t make sense and what you don’t understand. Sometimes (and if you’re lucky) you might be right, but it’s more than likely that most of the narrative you’re creating has more to do with you than with the other person or the situation you’re currently confronting. Staying present is the key to your success, but it won’t be easy planting both feet in the moment and keeping them there, especially if you’re trying to cope with a meltdown, again, yours or others’ or the disappointment that a fantasy you desire to be true just won’t manifest. It’s a good week to breathe deeply, and as often as necessary, and it is always a good week to encourage your fellow travelers to do the same.
The source of sensitivity is a Mercury/Neptune conjunction, in Pisces. Mercury represents the many functions of the mind, including intuition. Neptune symbolizes imagination and fantasy. And when they share the same space—a conjunction—the mind takes off on extravagant flights of fancy. This conjunction also produces the potential for a high degree of permeability to the environment—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—as well as increased susceptibility to suggestion. From a negative perspective, this combination of intuitive and imaginative energy can lead to huge opportunities for self-deception. From a positive point of view, it represents the possibility to travel with the muse, so closely, you might fall in love. Just be aware that both Mercury and Neptune are infamous Tricksters. Try not to fool yourself into thinking that your dreams will turn into realities overnight, without effort. Believe in magic, but also believe in the elbow grease, diligence, and determination it takes to make magic happen.
By Saturday, Jupiter, in Cancer, trines that conjunction, and amplifies the already too tender air. Because Jupiter, by its nature, is excessive, conversations, especially discussions about safety and security, could morph into full-blown confessions or in certain instances, evidence-providing exchanges that support your worst fears. Be careful not to let your imagination run away with what’s said. Most of us will be tempted to go over the top.
The sensitivity of the week also presents opportunities to turn vulnerability into resilience—something that is not easily done, but a process that is certain to prove invaluable. Notice your reactions—what triggers them and how you handle the situation. Then, ask yourself if it is possible to respond rather than react. Some may quibble that responses and reactions are the same thing, but they aren’t. Reactions are often unconscious habits born out of previous experience. Responses open the possibility of making thoughtful, conscious choices about how we want to live and what we want to set in motion. Remember, this entire bundle of Mercury/Neptune/Jupiter can fool almost everyone into thinking that projections are “real,” or it can help you to move through your illusions and delusions with a penetrating intuition that will help you to recognize reality.
March 12, 2014
For the next five and a half weeks we’re in the countdown to the fifth exact Uranus/Pluto square on April 21, and as we approach this astral event, many of us are likely to experience the already too intense environment of daily life intensifying even more. Sudden twists of fate that challenge conventional order are one of the signatures of this configuration. Plans that seemed to be set in stone evaporate in an instant; the tried and true reliance on friends and family also disappears, especially if unforeseen developments hamper the ability to be reliable; relationships, once thought to be shift-proof dismantle; and nervous systems already stressed from too much stress suffer from the increased strain, making meltdowns probable. As these and other unforeseen possibilities erupt into daily life, they disrupt regular routines, which could cause more than a few of us to destabilize, and even more of us to hold fast to whatever it is that makes us feel secure.
Uranus and Pluto are the astral change agents; they symbolize revolution, and when they interact, we experience an undeniable call to transform stagnant regimens, personal and collective, conscious or unconscious. I like routines as much as anyone. I particularly appreciate routines as an antidote to chaos and uncertainty. But routines lose their value when they become mindless habits, just as rites and rituals become empty when their deeper intention is lost or obscured. I realize that not everyone equates a morning cup of coffee with a morning prayer, but whether it’s secular or spiritual, the order we create in life is important and necessary to our sense of safety and security. Order provides structure, and when we imbue that structure with meaning, we deepen our experience of being alive. You can live your life as if every moment matters. Or you can go through the motions, vaguely hoping to be rescued from the monotony of the mundane. It’s always a choice, here on the free will planet. And as I always like to remind myself—and others—living life is the greatest creative act of all.
The current series of Uranus/Pluto squares began in June 2012 and ends in March 2015. This series is the first in a cycle that began with the conjunctions of Uranus/Pluto, in Virgo, from 1965-1966. Virgo is the Sign where we become aware of and experience the details of the interconnectedness of life; it is not surprising that the ecology movement found its voice during Pluto’s transit through Virgo, from October 1956 through October 1971. From a transformational perspective, as well as a historical one, Uranus/Pluto contacts amplify the need to make choices that are inclusive rather than exclusive; the movements for social justice grab hold of the collective psyche during Uranus/Pluto contacts, and strides are made for the good of the many. We’ve known for a while that local choices have global consequences, but now, given technology’s connective tissue, it is impossible to deny that the political, financial, and climate choices each of us makes during our lifetime are part of a much larger ecosystem. We’ve always lived with the consequences of our choices, but there is no escaping the effects.
The fifth exact square on April 21is the most complex in the current series because it manifests as a Grand Cardinal Cross: Jupiter opposes Pluto as it simultaneously squares Uranus, and Mars opposes Uranus, as it simultaneously squares Pluto and Jupiter. All of these planets are in Cardinal Signs. Uranus is in Aries, Jupiter is in Cancer, Mars is in Libra, and Pluto is in Capricorn. Cardinal Signs represent action. A Grand Cross signifies tension; it’s literally a cross to bear. The tension symbolized in this cross is the distillation of nearly two years of turmoil. I don’t think it is possible to predict what will occur or how it will happen. What we know is that Jupiter’s transit through Cancer puts the emphasis on safety and security. Mars Retrograde in Libra is all about relationships—even if you aren’t in a relationship with a significant other. Pluto’s transit through Capricorn signals the death and rebirth of governments and institutions of authority. And the transit of Uranus through Aries spotlights individuation and how we know ourselves as separate and distinct from others.
As the coming weeks unfold, many of us will feel the tension of this building Grand Cross as a need to act. Some will act if only to relieve the tension. Others, while not as impulsive in the moment, may still make reactive decisions based on the difficulty of the moment. Whether it is a desire to break free or a desire to break through or at the opposing pole, a sense of paralyses or inaction, try to keep your balance by holding on to the biggest possible perspective. Remember, there is no need to act solely for the sake of it. Also keep in mind that everyone will be feeling the intensity, especially children—and even pets. Do your best to handle mounting sensitivity, yours or others’, with compassion. Very few of us are equipped to handle this level of tension, and all of us could use a helping hand to ease the way. And most of us will need one.
March 5, 2014
“Confusion” is the keyword for the week. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re feeling like the Mad Hatter. There is so much contradictory astral activity that even the best multitasking efforts are likely to resemble a smattering and scattering of energy, intentions, goals, and objectives. Last Friday, Mercury went direct, freeing us from its retrograde snafus. But before any of us had a chance to calculate and apply personal course corrections, we were immediately immersed in the doldrums of Mars Retrograde, on March 1, a condition that only worsened when Saturn went retrograde on March 2. Yet these are not the only start-stop contributors to the disorder, disarray, and disruption of daily life. On March 6, Jupiter, the planet of good fortune, goes direct, signaling opportunities for an expansive and optimistic outlook. Unfortunately, as the weight of Jupiter’s positivity coalesces with the stagnation of Martian motion, as well as the depth defying review of Saturn, many of us are likely to experience serious conflicts between what we hope we can do and what we are able to actually manifest. The secret to handling these crosscurrents is finding and maintaining an internal balance. But even if holding steady is difficult, any attempt to stay centered will have positive results.
Mars is retrograde in Libra, the Sign of relationships, and as it moves through its retrospective, many of us will be examining and reexamining relationship issues. Be prepared for encounters with significant others, past and present, but also be aware that significant others aren’t always romantic partners. Business alliances, friendships, pets, work, and even places are often where we meet the challenge of relating, not to mention how we relate to ourselves. And by that I mean how we respect and honor our needs, desires, gifts, talents, and (Dare I say it?) issues. It’s always easier to project on to others what we don’t want to recognize in ourselves, and Mars Retrograde offers a multitude of opportunities to recognize those projections. Remember: If you spot it and have a charge on it, it’s usually because you got it.
Everyone has Libra somewhere in their birth chart, which means each of us will be experiencing the intensity of Mars Retrograde somewhere in our lives. Mars, as I have mentioned many times, isn’t the least bit interested in moving backward and as the retrograde unfolds that resistance is likely to be reflected through our own refusal to accept certain conditions or information. Notice where you are resistant to acknowledging particular patterns and then, use that resistance to identify the next step in personal work.
Saturn is retrograde in Scorpio, the Sign of transformation: birth, death, and rebirth. Saturn symbolizes systems and structures, and its journey through any Sign identifies and delineates weak spots in the foundation of whatever it is we are trying to organize, build or establish. Saturn’s transit through Scorpio, at least for the next couple of months, is focused on what we cling to and why we hold on so tightly. This retrograde phase lasts until July 20. Use this time to examine issues of attachment.
Jupiter goes direct on March 6 in a trine to the Sun, and this is the very good news for the week. This trine has been in effect since February 24, but frankly, it wasn’t possible to access its benevolence, given the other overriding and heavier planetary patterns. A Sun/Jupiter trine is all about laughter, so find the funny this week, even in the midst of the angst—gallows humor, if necessary, just not at the expense of others.
February 26, 2014
Odd, polarized rhythms turn the pulse of daily life erratic, and the world wobbles from the stress of extremes. One minute the routines of daily life slow to a crawl, and the next, a rapid, staccato pace jars nervous systems into hyper activity. The lack of a consistent identifiable backbeat makes confusion probable, especially when certain situations, which don’t appear to be significant, surge forward, and others, which actually seem to matter, fall apart. This flux is part of a powerful astral turbulence generated by a collision between Mercury Direct on Friday, February 28 and Mars Retrograde on Saturday, March 1. This clash is likely to override all efforts to move almost anything anywhere with ease. Pay attention: The best way through the psychic debris is to wait until at least March 4 before setting anything new in motion.
Mercury “turns around” in a square to Saturn, a fractious interaction that continues to put the emphasis on a tendency to brood over what isn’t perfect. Try not to succumb to this critical force; expecting perfection, especially this week, is a recipe for disappointment. The next several days are nothing but one glitch after another, and accepting imperfection, with all its glorious accidents, would be a wise way to handle the ‘challenges’ as they unfold.
Mars goes retrograde at 27 degrees of Libra, almost at the finish line of the Sign. (For those new to astrology, every Sign is 30 degrees.) Mars ends its retrograde on May 19, at 9 degrees of Libra. And between now and then, as Mars retraces its recent path, we review our recent (and in some cases not so recent) past, particularly when it comes to partnerships. Libra is the Sign of relationship, and since Mars began its transit through Libra on December 8, many of us have been focused on issues of relating. On December 26, it was at 9 degrees, and as many may recall, Christmas wasn’t especially jolly. Indeed, from an astrological perspective, Christmas week and the following week were among the most difficult of the year. Be prepared to revisit some of what was put in motion during the holidays, especially decisions made in the heat of the holiday moment.
Because Mars represents the ability to take a stand for one’s self or for others, part of what transpires when Mars journeys through Libra is a keen awareness of how we hold our own in relation to significant others—whomever or whatever we love or need the most. Use this retrograde to gain greater clarity as to why and when you assert yourself and your needs or when you rise to the occasion of protecting others and meeting their needs.
Saturn begins its retrograde phase of 2014 on March 2—yes, the day after Mars—and for the first sixteen days of March, Saturn continues to square Mercury. Saturn stays retrograde until July 20. As Saturn retraces its path, it will encourage a deeper consideration of key issues, especially certain financial and/or political decisions made in the last seven months.
It won’t be easy keeping a steady, consistent attitude during the next couple of weeks, but it’s important to give it your best try. The slower pace of the 2014 retrogrades is an opportunity to slow down long enough to take stock. Use this time to take a really close look at what you have set in motion and the potential results of those actions. Remember, we are all co-creating the future every moment through every thought, word, and deed.
February 19, 2014
We’re in the final stretch of the first Mercury Retrograde of 2014—it ends on February 28. But, unfortunately, relief isn’t really in sight. While there is only one more week of communication and travel delays, detours, and disasters, routines aren’t going to revert to “regular” any time soon. We're only in the third lap of a five-retrograde relay that defines the first six months of 2014. Mars goes retrograde on March 1, the moment after Mercury goes direct, and for the next 9 days as Mars seemingly slows to a crawl, the gears that drive the mechanics of daily life don’t quite mesh, and as a result, lots of plans and projects seem to slip off track. Breathe. Deeply. And then breathe again. There’s nothing to be done about this planetary pattern other than to use it, wisely, by slowing down the pace of daily life, conserving your energy, and reviewing what you’ve already set in motion. We’re in a time warp that blends past, present, and future into either a persistent disorientation or an opportunity to witness the multidimensional fabric of life. As the overlapping rhythms of Mercury and Mars blend past, present, and future, we are reminded that life is anything but linear, and that progress isn’t always a straight line with a discernable beginning, middle, and end. For the time traveler, the current warp is simply another opportunity to witness the Great Mystery as it unfolds.
The final week of Mercury Retrograde is dense. The Sun/Mars trine that characterized the last week is fading away, and the Mercury/Saturn square dominates both minds and moods. Pay attention: Brooding is probable under this influence, and given the already rife with frustration atmosphere, sulking over all the things that aren’t going the way you would like them to isn’t going to change the situation. It’s a great opportunity to learn to let go.
It would be overly optimistic of me to encourage good cheer this week, but…oh well, why not. There’s enough strife on the collective level to last several lifetimes. So as you come into contact with the grinding gears of Mercury and Mars, try not to get embroiled in a brouhaha that will only steal your energy. Save your vital force for what matters, and encourage others to do the same. Some battles are necessary. Others are a decoy or a distraction. Knowing the difference could be the key to handling the next several weeks with grace and skill. As always be kind and generous to your fellow travelers—very few of us are having an easy time and everyone will benefit from a dose of good will.
February 12, 2014
This week’s retrograde slog—oops, I’m sorry…I meant to write ‘journey’—has surprising moments of clarity embedded into its mostly frustrated and frustrating rhythm. And while those crystal clear moments don’t linger long, they do offer opportunities to make decisions that will move the otherwise stagnant waters of daily life. For those of you who are stuck and thinking that you are caught in a personal version of Groundhog Day, you are. But you don’t have to stay mired in an endless loop of existential angst. You can break free—you just have to take a lesson from Phil (the Bill Murray character) and figure out how to adjust your attitude so the pattern can shift. (Here’s a hint: You are the agent of change; no one is going to fix the situation but you. And biggest hint of all: Phil learns how to love.) Of course, some of us may not be experiencing the downside of Mercury Retrograde—not everyone suffers from the maladies of a slower pace and painstaking attention to detail. Some fellow travelers actually enjoy the downshift—they feel more control and greater efficiency. And as most of us know by now, Mercury Retrograde is not the devil. It just looks exactly like the devil when the wifi is on the fritz, the modem has a signal but try as you might, there’s no connection, the overnight delivery with the one-of-a-kind something or other is lost, or the express package you needed yesterday was sent to 38th Street instead of 138th Street. But that’s not what’s really devilish about Mercury Retrograde. The worst: having to sit in a hell zone of delays and detours where absolutely nothing moves.
Two interactions indicate the possibility for these brief but valuable moments of clarity and (if you’re lucky) action. First, Mercury trines Mars, providing the potential for minds to quicken through the skill and dexterity of critical thinking; exciting discussions could rouse the determination to cut through the lethargy and act on good ideas. That positive mental might combines with the physical power of a Sun/Mars trine. Sun/Mars contacts are not traditionally interpreted as indications of intellectual prowess, but they are known to assist in cutting through obstacles, which could encourage positive progress.
Saturn also squares the Sun and that could throw a wrench of hyper-criticism into the mix. But if you refuse to lose yourself in a negative Saturnian perspective and instead chose to align with Saturn’s discerning eye, you can use this potentially difficult interaction to strengthen your determination to make practical choices.
This week, the routines of daily life unfold at a glacial pace, and while that may obstruct certain fundamental tasks—commuting, communicating, and computer co-dependence—sometimes not moving at the speed of light can reveal details and nuances that might otherwise be missed. Of course, many of our fellow travelers are likely to melt down with exasperation, disappointment, and discontent, making kindness and compassion the most important tools in your spiritual kit. So when possible, offer a helping hand to those in need. And be open to accepting a helping hand if you need one.
February 5, 2014
We’re stuck in the staccato rhythm of Mercury Retrograde for the next couple of weeks, and as daily life unfolds to this stop-start-stop-and-start again pattern, nervous systems struggle to maintain a steady grip. Life is unsettled—something we don’t need the stars to tell us—and in the sharp and often confusing pulse of this retrograde, moods are sure to turn edgy, irritable, and intolerant, making it very difficult to whistle while you work.
Mercury begins its first retrograde phase of the year in a conjunction to Neptune, in the early degrees of Pisces. For those of you new to the astrological pantheon, Mercury represents all things related to the mind, from thoughts to language to writing to speaking; it is also the symbol for communication of every denomination. What’s more, its vast domain also includes travel. This is why Mercury Retrograde is a modern urban legend: When Mercury seemingly moves backwards, all the many areas of daily life that function within its territory seem to go a little screwy. All sorts of communiqués vanish; smart phones turn stupid; travel becomes a ring of hell that Dante couldn’t have imagined. Mercury Retrograde is not a good time to initiate new projects, if only because any progress will only be made against the tide and that could be exhausting. The best use of this or any Mercury Retrograde is to review, reflect, and refine what is already in motion.
Both Neptune and the Sign it rules, Pisces, represent sympathetic resonance, and their vast combined domain includes sensitivity, receptivity, intuition and imagination. They also signify boundaries—or the lack of them—a characteristic that often translates into boundary issues. Mercury, in Pisces, symbolizes heightened intuition. But there’s a problem with that wideband intuitive force: When Mercury and Neptune unite, fantasy proliferates, and because they both embody the Trickster, their perfect union points toward illusion, delusion, deception, and (my favorite) projection. Be careful, this week and next, not to make assumptions based on intuitive certainty. I’m not suggesting you doubt your intuition; I’m simply suggesting that you check your desire and opinions at the door. It’s far too easy to make up stories under this conjunction, and as many of us know, when we construct a narrative to assuage our anxieties, those stories are more about us than anything or anyone else.
Mercury will be retrograde until February 28, but don’t expect to breathe a sigh of relief anytime soon. On March 1, Mars begins a retrograde phase in Libra that lasts until May 19. But we have miles to go before that takes place, and plenty to take care of in the meantime.
We are also under the influence of Venus/Pluto conjunction, in Capricorn. Venus just ended her retrograde, and now as she “moves forward,” her appetite for love and sensual pleasure combines with Pluto’s deep sexual pull, which could cause many of us to experience an increase in sexual desire. Expect to be madly in love—emphasis on “madly.” But also be careful: As the fanaticism of Venus/Pluto—in all its sensual/sexual glory—combines with the powers of Mercury/Neptune—in all its imaginative glory—you may find yourself caught in a fantasy bond rather than an actual mutual and reciprocal encounter. Be aware that Jupiter, in Cancer, opposes the Venus/Pluto conjunction, and Jupiter, while beneficent, does tend toward excess and exaggeration. For those not inclined to spend this energy on amorous pursuits, this Venus/Pluto/Jupiter bundle fosters the desire to create beauty everywhere. Use this prodigious creativity to enliven, enhance, and enrich your environment.
This week and the next week are going to challenge each of us to find and maintain balance, especially in all those areas where we are tilting toward one extreme or another or where we are insisting on a specific outcome. Of course, if you push the river too hard, you’re likely to get swept away by the very currents you are trying to control. So instead of resisting the delays and detours of retrograde rhythms, let go and try to relax. Most importantly, even if you don’t want to, be kind to your fellow travelers. You never know when a helping hand or a gentle word can turn an entire situation in a more positive direction.
On March 11, 2011, Uranus made its final entry into the Sign of Aries, beginning a seven-year transit, an entry that was marked by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the most powerful recorded earthquake to occur in Japan, and the fifth most powerful recorded in the world (at least since we started recording magnitude in 1900). The week after the Tohoku earthquake, I was scheduled to speak at a conference in San Francisco on the seven Uranus/Pluto squares that would occur between June 2012 and March 2015, a topic decided on well in advance of the Japanese disaster. I had chosen (with good intention but too much ambition) to relate the coming Uranus/Pluto astrological waves of change to Joseph Campbell’s notion of the hero’s journey. I spent a lot of time preparing, trying to put the pieces together, but as soon as the earthquake occurred, I knew that much of what I had prepared would be irrelevant—it’s one thing to speculate on how intense planetary interactions will manifest; it’s another thing altogether to actually witness an event that undeniably presaged the power of the planets. Within the astrological system, Uranus signifies surprise, as well as upheaval. And we were just at the beginning of a new Uranus cycle.
Prior to the conference, I tried not to watch too many images of the unfolding devastation. It was, and continues to be horrifying, particularly the ongoing damage at Fukushima, the loss of life, and the forever altered lives of the survivors. The courage and commitment of the firefighters bravely entering the nuclear plant was breathtaking to behold. As I witnessed their courage, I knew I was witnessing bravery born of a spontaneous and uninhibited generosity of heart. Yet the image I became fixated upon wasn’t the heroes risking their lives; it was the video of a dog that was determined to lead his rescuers to another dog that was badly wounded; upon arriving there, the dog simply put his paw on his friend and waited. It was such a keen reminder of how vulnerable we all are, a vulnerability that is particularly poignant when animals are injured. I was moved by the (Dare I say it?) dogged determination to save a friend. It was a simple, instinctual, and profound act of love and devotion.
And so I changed my lecture. Instead of talking about the trials and tribulations of the hero’s journey, symbolized by the increasing intensity of the seven exact Uranus/Pluto squares, I chose to speak about love. It was a stretch, but it was mine to make, and a stretch I had to take—I had no other choice. It was clear that as the seven squares of Uranus and Pluto unfolded, vast areas of our personal and collective landscape would be transformed, sometimes violently, by one tsunami of change after another, individual as well as collective, and that in order to survive these waves of change, we would need the same dogged devotion to each other, to the planet, and to all the sentient beings who share it with us.
The Past Meets the Present
We are at our best when we care for each other. Whether it is the bliss of personal, intimate love or the expansive concern of altruistic compassion, when we love, we live in the deepest, most profound regions of the heart, the place where spirit dwells and enlivens perception, perspective, and participation. Love is always a spiritual hero’s journey—we meet ourselves in every thought, word, and deed. Our limitations glare; our gifts shimmer. Love moves us out of ourselves and into each other, whether that’s a person, a place, or a passion. Love makes us care, and heartfelt caring—true concern—insists on presence. And presence transforms every act into an offering.
Uranus/Pluto cycles are understood to symbolize recurrent themes of revolution, in all areas of life, themes that, according to Rick Tarnas’ research, seem to follow an evolutionary spiral. (For those of you unfamiliar with his work, Cosmos and Psyche is where you will find it.) He traces many planetary cycles through history, and what his research reveals about Uranus/Pluto patterns is that they illuminate the theme of social justice. All the movements that make us better humans, civil rights, gender rights, labor rights, children’s rights—all the basic human rights—seem to make significant strides under Uranus/Pluto contacts.
Social justice is love at the collective level. It invites us to care about each other and to live in the deepest part of that concern—it calls on us to make the world a better place for all of us. Certainly, this is what we are now being asked to do, again; to live as if all of life—every sentient being—matters. Love at the collective level asks us to recognize the sacred in all of its particulars and to live in accordance with that awareness. And when we can’t find solutions, the power of love encourages us to keep trying, to keep moving past our differences until what divides us fades away.
Uranus/Pluto cycles, because they invite us to move into greater awareness, are often times of disruption and tumult. Uranus, as I so often write, is the astro Che Guevara, the revolutionary, the provocateur, and the subversive agent of change that catalyzes stagnant systems. Pluto signifies death and rebirth, and its presence is seldom polite or refined; Pluto teaches us that control is just an illusion. It pushes against permanence, reminding us that change is the only constant—Pluto’s power lies in the creativity of transformation, but that power comes at a cost: We have to let go of what we cling to and unfasten the masks of our denial.
We are currently in the midst of a Uranus/Pluto cycle that started with a conjunction, in Virgo, in the Sixties. It was exact in 1965 through 1966, and separating in 1967. There’s no need to reiterate the seismic shifts of those years or to remind anyone that 1967 was the Summer of Love. But it is important to point out that we’ve been in a reactive pattern since that time. From an astrological perspective, it’s possible to witness that reactive pattern through the series of squares we are currently experiencing. For while the movements for social justice pushed hard during the Sixties, the minds and hearts that didn’t agree with those values are still pushing back. Sexism, racism, greed, and ignorance continue, as does the denial of and resistance to the awareness of the interconnectedness of the Earth’s eco-systems, an awareness that took hold as the ecology movement during the Sixties.
The Immediate Moment Merges With the Future
On January 1, 2014, we ring in the New Year with Mars, in Libra, forming an exact square to Pluto, in Capricorn, as Mars continues to separate from its opposition to Uranus, which was exact on Christmas Day. Also on the first day of the year, Mercury is conjunct Pluto, as is the Sun, and if that isn’t enough, the New Moon, also in Capricorn, joins this entire Mercury/Sun/Pluto congregation, escalating emotional volatility in an already over-the-top atmosphere, that is likely to manifest in myriad meltdowns, yours or others’.
Jupiter is barely within range of this current planetary pattern, but that changes for the fifth exact Uranus/Pluto square on April 21, 2014. At that juncture, Mars, still in Libra, will oppose Uranus, as it squares Pluto, and Jupiter will oppose Pluto, as it squares Mars and Uranus. Jupiter opposite Pluto amplifies a desire for power; Mars puts a militant touch on that craving; Uranus imbues the entire bundle with a rebellious undertone. And because they are all aligned in a Cardinal Grand Cross, as the tension releases, many of us are sure to move into action, and that means we are likely to see more than a few uprisings, personal as well as collective.
Mars signifies the capacity for self-assertion, from the lowest forms of global rage to the most sophisticated expressions of self-actualization. It is anger, with or without righteousness. Mars symbolizes the muscles; it is the patron saint of athletes, no matter what their choice of sport; it guides the explorer; it is the mother’s milk of the adventurer.
The presence of Mars leaves an indelible imprint on the first seven months of 2014. It is in Libra, the Sign of relationships, where it will stay until July 25. Its long transit through Libra is the result of a retrograde phase that begins on March 1 and ends on May 19. While Mars must move, it doesn’t like moving backwards, and it is not particularly introspective. During its transit through Libra, we will be examining relationships of every ilk, and during its retrograde we will be combing through relationship issues with a fine-toothed comb. And, as I always remind, it matters not what your relationship status is. Everything is relational, even if those associations only exist in the imaginal realms—and what relationships don’t.
As we enter into the fifth exact Uranus/Pluto square on April 21, we will be in the seventh week of Mars Retrograde. Mars is one of the planets that drives the mechanics of daily life and it will have just finished a marathon of seven weeks of obstacle courses—hindrances that many of us will be certain others have erected simply to impede our progress. Very few of us are likely to be cheery. Frustration and stagnation are certain to give birth to belligerence and intolerance, and those bellicose attitudes could sour what might otherwise be innocuous interactions.
But that’s not all: Mercury is retrograde from February 6 through February 28. That’s right—one day before the Mars Retrograde begins. Mercury is the other planet that drives the mechanics of daily life. I need say no more, other than at least these retrogrades are not happening simultaneously.
And there’s more retrograde news: Venus Retrograde since December 21, stays retrograde the entire month of January 2014; it goes direct on January 31, in conjunction to Pluto at the same degree in Capricorn that Pluto will occupy for the April 21 Uranus/Pluto square.
Frankly, I have no idea what the synchronicity of these degrees portends, but I do think it would be wise to pay attention to what happened during the last week of 2013, what happens during the first week of 2014, and what occurs the week of Venus Direct. Sometimes a momentous shift can be as light as a feather, but those changes can still have the power to tilt the scales of truth and recalibrate attention and intention.
We reached the midpoint of the current cycle of Uranus/Pluto squares in November 2013. As 2014 begins, we’re still at the turning point. No one knows how the remaining transformational process indicated by this cycle will unfold. If the process is working, then rather than observing the transformation, we are actually being transformed. For some of us the process is overwhelming—the rug of reality seems ripped out from under and there are no instant remedies to turn the world right again. Refugees feel the devastation of the collective shifts more keenly than others—without a home, without water, without food, the world is hardly a place where love seems to grow. From an individual perspective, the same is of course true for victims of domestic violence and children of abuse who have no safe haven to call home. And yet, we have solutions to these situations; we just don’t know how to apply them in each and every instance. I wish I knew the answer to that conundrum. I only know that love is always the answer.
Very few of us live our lives as a true expression of our hearts. We relegate that sensitivity and vulnerability to specific life experiences—romance, children, friendship, career, pets, or other interests that engage us in our entirety. We forget that every aspect of our lives is an expression of the sacred, if only because every life is sacred. Living with that awareness is the true hero’s journey. Living with that awareness, choosing to live a life of conscious transformation is not an easy choice to make or an easy life to live, but once made, every day can become a revelation.
We can debate over politics, economics, or religion and all the theories we have conjured about how to live a better life. But nothing comes close to simple acts of loving kindness to each other and to our selves. Rather than constrict in fear or anxiety about what lies ahead, open to the power of the moment. The past creates the present as the present creates the future. It’s a simple truth that puts the power of the creative in the moment—in the now.