December 10, 2014
Uranus/Pluto Squares: Part 2
We’re in liminal space for the next several weeks, as astral alignments form a series of thresholds, creating the in-between dimension necessary to move from one reality to another. And although regular routines still underpin the structure of daily life, those routines unfold through irregular rhythms, and the erratic pace could contribute to a loss of continuity. Managing this sense of dislocation requires a strong determination to stay present. As a friend in Hong Kong put it after reading last week’s column: Our souls as well as our soles need to understand how the patterns of the sky are reflected in our activities on Earth. This week, as our souls take the next evolutionary steps, our soles need to be firmly on the ground. So do whatever it is you do to stay conscious---increase your awareness through meditation and mindfulness—and then do whatever else you do to stay centered in the midst of massive shifts.
Saturn changes Signs in 13 days, moving out of Scorpio into Sagittarius, ending a journey that began on October 5, 2012. As the next two weeks unfold, Saturn distills two-plus years of lessons learned during this transit. (Saturn will retrograde back into Scorpio on June 15 through September 17, 2015, making possible other opportunities to gather the threads of this journey.) Saturn signifies structures—all the things that hold other things together. Scorpio symbolizes issues of power and control—with helplessness on one end of the spectrum and coercion on the other. Scorpio is a complex Sign that thrives on subtlety and nuance; so don’t expect its lessons to be printed in bold face. Be willing to look beneath the obvious. Notice what structures in your life have dissolved or strengthened under Saturn’s supervision.
The most important threshold-crossing occurs on December 15, when the sixth Uranus/Pluto square is exact and separating just after midnight U.S. Eastern Time, and late in the evening U.S. Pacific Time. Uranus/Pluto contacts are the astrological indicators of upset and upheaval, especially in the arena of social justice. Racism, sexism, religious hatred, fascism, and all the other ways we polarize with each other out of fear become glaringly apparent under the influence of Uranus/Pluto contacts. Exploitation of every ilk gets laid bare during these times. (For those interested in historical analysis, please read Cosmos and Psyche, by Richard Tarnas, for a thorough list of movements and events related to these and other major astrological cycles.)
What makes this current cycle so volatile, as well as poignant, is the sense that we can no longer sustain ourselves as a planet—a condition that is apparent in so many ways—and the opposition to that information has calcified fear and ignorance into brutal fundamentalism. As you go through this shift, notice where you are clinging stubbornly to systems you know no longer work, but you hold on anyway because you don’t know what else to do. Many of us are struggling to maintain the illusion of separation, refusing to acknowledge how small our planet has actually become and insisting on unsustainable attitudes and belief systems. Technology has made global the new local—nothing occurs in isolation any longer and no one is an island. From a deeply esoteric point of view, there are no enemies, just aspects of ourselves in dire need of insight and integration.
But just because we are under the sway of Uranus and Pluto, the two greatest change agents in the astrological system, that doesn’t mean we are digesting and metabolizing the extent of what needs to change as quickly as the change is needed—our collective consciousness is not ahead of the curve. Or as Jon Stewart put it, we still “do not live in a post-racial society.” And I would add, we also do not live in a post-sexist society. Yes, women earn more than they used to and yes again, they can be CEOs, but they are also required to pole dance.
Climate change, slavery, gun violence, domestic violence, the exploitation of children, the refusal to acknowledge the rights of other species and the rights of the planet’s eco-system—these are all issues of social justice, as they are all symptoms of a system that still doesn’t work for the good of everyone. And because there is so much to heal and so many in need of relief, and because we are so confronted everyday with the consequences of our collective ignorance, it’s all too easy to despair that nothing is changing and things are just getting worse.
Cosmic time moves at a different pace than Earth time—an important consideration to keep in mind if you’re feeling that efforts for social justice are failing.
Last week I wrote that we are winning. Consciousness is winning. Twenty years ago, Oprah did a show on gratitude (which means it was already a part of the New Age lexicon), and now researchers are proving that it works.
Nearly fifty years ago, very few westerners knew about meditation; now there are studies extolling its benefits. (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141028082355.htm)
And who could have imagined a pot fundraiser for the Denver Symphony. (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/us/debussy-wine-and-byom-at-a-fund-raiser-in-denver.html).
These examples don’t even include the work being done with mindfulness, the yoga movement, or the huge self-help industry devoted to how to live a better life. Or the thousands of projects designed and implemented to help our fellow travelers that are unrelated to a spiritual system, projects that spring from the heart of concerned citizens who are determined to make a difference in the world.
It’s very easy to find the flaws in all these efforts and to be disparaging—and I have been, if only because too often the wisdom behind the various techniques gets watered down or exploited for one thing or another, mostly money. But I decided my criticism is a useless waste of time. We are winning. Consciousness is increasing. And yes, there is resistance, mostly because society has trained us to be afraid of each other—afraid of what we don’t know or understand. But as every Taoist knows, water is the strongest substance on Earth because it moves around obstacles, wears down resistance, makes rocks smooth, and teaches us to flow with the Tao. As the Tao moves mountains, so does consciousness. And consciousness is winning. It is just a matter of time until we reach critical mass. As a woman in Saudi Arabia who has been fighting for the right to drive for 24 years recently said, and I am paraphrasing: It’s not a question of will…it [this rule against driving] will change…it’s a matter of when.
December 3, 2014
Uranus/Pluto Squares: Part 1
‘Tis not the season to be jolly, although all festivities and celebrations with the power to lighten the psychic mood and lift a heavy heart are welcome. ‘Tis the season to be conscious and thoughtful —very, very thoughtful—about these extraordinary times and the role each of us plays in the ongoing process of individual and collective transformation. We’re less than two weeks away from the sixth Uranus/Pluto square that occurs just past midnight U.S. Eastern time on December 15. While some of us are either tired of hearing about these two powerful change agents or simply weary from the constant upheaval that daily life has become, this is not the moment to make like an ostrich. There is no escaping this cycle of change; there are only efforts to understand the complex coalescence of social issues currently confronting our status as dwellers on a planet in desperate need of conscious efforts to make it a better place for all. Hide under the covers if you must, but know that avoidance won’t make any of the issues go away. This moment is ours to transform, and the power to make creative, positive choices for the future is always in present time.
This series of Uranus/Pluto squares began with three Uranus/Pluto conjunctions that occurred between 1965 and 1966. (Some astrologers would give this period of time a wider berth to include several years before and after the time of the exact conjunctions.) The Sixties are historically characterized as a period of profound social change; from an astrological perspective, the tumult and turmoil of the time is attributed to the influence of those three conjunctions. Uranus signifies a revolutionary impulse whose influence catalyzes stagnation; Pluto signifies an unrelenting process of death and birth—a process fundamental, even if uncomfortable, to the transitory nature of existence. When these two celestial forces interact, they set off a transformational chain reaction that is impossible to halt.
The Uranus/Pluto conjunctions of the Sixties occurred in Virgo, the Sign where we recognize the essential interconnectedness and interdependence of life. While Rachel Carson’s book, The Silent Spring, was published in September 1962, when Uranus and Pluto were eight degrees apart, it can be argued that as her work took hold, the public response set a revolution in motion: The Clear Air Act passed in December of 1963, The Water Quality Act passed in October 1965, as was The Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act regarding emission standards. The first Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1966.
Uranus/Pluto interactions are also present throughout the history of the Civil Rights Movement, and because of that these contacts are seen as signatures for social justice. Between June 1850 and March 1851, there were three Pluto/Uranus conjunctions, in Aries. Sojourner Truth wrote Against Slavery and on Behalf of Women in 1850, and in May 1851, gave her famous speech, Ain’t I A Woman? (Note to astrological researchers: The list of astral synchronicities goes on and on—be sure to include squares, sextiles and trines when you start your engines.)
During the conjunctions of 1965 through 1966, the Civil Rights Voting Act of 1965 was passed. Interestingly, the three Selma to Montgomery marches took place between March 7 and March 21, 1965; the chart for the final one on March 21, 1965, has Mars between Pluto and Uranus, exactly conjunct Pluto, all in Virgo. Even more interestingly, the position of Uranus in that chart trines the position Pluto currently occupies in the square we are about to experience on December 15. But that’s not all: the position of the Moon, in Libra, during our December 15 event is exactly opposite the Sun in the chart of Selma march of March 21, 1965.
And there’s more: The pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong is heating up, presenting Beijing with the biggest challenge to its power since the 1989 demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. The astrological signature of those protests is a Saturn/Neptune conjunction at 12 degrees 39 minutes Capricorn; Pluto’s position on December 15 is 12 degrees 35 minutes Capricorn; Uranus occupies 12 degrees 35 minutes Aries, forming a square to that 1989 Saturn/Neptune conjunction as well.
Of course, you have the same questions I do: What does it mean when positions like this light up? While I still can’t commit to the idea of a preordained process dialing up the planets’ positions and guiding our evolutionary path, I have to ponder the presence of a greater order at work in these synchronicities. It can be argued that humans look for patterns to make sense of our experience—and that would be true. But what’s also true is that we have always, always, always looked to the sky as evidence of some greater pattern—and we always find it there, even if our interpretations of its meaning are as varied as our positions on Earth.
Recently I saw Interstellar, and while it stirred at least a 1,000 ideas to contemplate, there is one message I keep returning to—the idea that love transcends time and space. Or as John Lennon once sang, “Love is the answer.” The movements for social justice—civil rights, gender rights, human rights—are love made manifest at the collective level. The activist, driven by compassion for all sentient beings, turns revolution into evolution through nonviolence, through the refusal to cause more harm, through genuine concern for the well being of others.
We need evolutionaries of all ages, genders, races, religions, dispositions, talents, and species to work together for our common good. That is the point of these Uranus/Pluto squares—we are being bumped up to a far more accelerated rate of change. And while we may not be able to see it clearly, the evolutionaries are winning. It’s just hard to be certain about our progress because we are still looking at the world through the lens of resistance to change—but more about that next week.
November 26, 2014
Planetary congestion along the celestial superhighway could result in terrestrial gridlock over the coming weeks. It isn’t really possible to avoid, dismiss, or deny these “traffic jams”—they are physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—and they are certain to manifest in ordinary as well as extraordinary ways. Given that this time of year is already supercharged with a wide range of needs, expectations, and disappointments, handling this astral clog is going to take extreme patience. Of course, it would be wise to remember that this is the season of goodwill and good cheer, and with that knowledge, to practice, whenever possible, as much kindness as you can muster. Compassion is always a good antidote to overwhelm.
Several astral conditions contribute to the congestion. The first is purely seasonal: In the northern hemisphere, these are the darkest days of the year, when the natural inclination is to go deeply internal to consolidate as much strength as possible for surviving the barren cold of winter. These shorter days do favor introspection. But in the southern hemisphere, the opposite impulse occurs; there it is the season of expansion and growth, when the bright light of longer days lingers and the external world is illuminated. In either case, we are still processing the old year in anticipation of the new one.
And the planets are busy: Jupiter is preparing for a retrograde phase that begins in two weeks on December 8 and ends April 8. But even as the planet of expansion “slows down,” it’s busy. By the weekend, it will begin a trine to Venus that is exact on December 4 and lasts until December 9. This is a positive interaction that fosters joy and love. Be aware, it could also encourage extravagant spending, so be careful not to overextend by spending more than you can afford. The inherent happiness of this alignment will amplify celebrations and festivities. Also keep in mind that a Venus/Jupiter trine is a highly creative combination that could inspire you to make gifts and decorations rather than buy them.
Saturn is in the last weeks of its transit through Scorpio, a journey that ends on December 23. As Saturn winds down through Scorpio, it will distill the last two years of its effect into the final few weeks. Saturn symbolizes structure—it gets down to the bones of things. Scorpio represents “other people’s money,” which translates into partners’—personal and profession—finances, debt, inheritance, and other aspects of fiscal obligation. Everyone has Saturn and Scorpio somewhere in their birth chart, which means all of us have been experiencing Saturn’s probe into our financial arrangements with others. Also be aware, that Scorpio signifies the values of others and how we measure ourselves against those values—for example, personal mores versus cultural ones.
Which brings us to the most important contributor to the congestion: the tightening grip of the sixth (and next to last) Uranus/Pluto square, which is exact and separating on December 15. As you may know, these squares signify revolutions as well as revolutionaries with a unifying cause: social justice. And while it may not look as if social justice is advancing, it is, even if we can’t see tangible progress because we are still in the midst of this current phase of shift, still figuring out how to heal hate and fear, still figuring out how to love one another regardless of our differences.
During the coming weeks, make an effort to choose peace. Be as kind as you can to those you love, as well as to those you barely know. For some, the end-of-the-year pressure is simply too much. So if your wheels should start spinning and you feel you can’t get anywhere, just take a deep breath—the energy will eventually even out and flow with greater ease. And when possible, make your world—our world—a better place by extending a helping hand to your fellow travelers.
November 19, 2014
The planets align in a variety of patterns this week and the overall effect is an “all over the place” atmosphere that could cause many to wish that staying in bed under the covers was a viable solution—at least until life settles down. The atmosphere feels charged, and that frenetic quality has the potential to engender anxiety as well as enthusiasm. So don’t be surprised if your moods or the moods of those close to you vacillate between frantic and electric. How you experience the charged air is completely dependent on perspective, sensitivity, and desire. One thing is sure: no matter where you find yourself along this intense spectrum, movement is a must. Stagnation won’t be tolerated, and the need for motion is physical as well as psychic. Part of the reason the air feels so intense is that we are at the beginning of the end of a complex year, and as the final days and nights of 2014 unfold, lots of us are likely to be taking stock of where we’ve been and where we find ourselves. And while I don’t have to point out the obvious…I will—because this has been a year of intense shifts, political and personal, individual and collective, and some of those shifts have been extremely difficult, even horrifying, while others have been welcome, even inspiring.
The need to put bodies, minds, and hearts in motion is spearheaded by Mars as it finally pulls away from the grip of the Uranus/Pluto square. This fractious interaction of Mars/Uranus/Pluto is what’s kept many of us grumpy, grouchy, and oh-so-testy for the last several weeks. As Mars breaks free, it moves into a sextile with Saturn, in Scorpio, a positive alliance with the power to turn aggression into ambition. This is an industrious combination that’s certain to spur the urge to work hard. We will start feeling its full force by Monday, but its influence lasts until the second week in December, allowing plenty of time to use its might to get done what needs to be done.
Venus just entered Sagittarius on November 16 and by Sunday it will trine Uranus, another positive interaction that lasts until the end of the month. This pair is infamous for erotic encounters, so best be prepared for sudden infatuations—especially the type of close encounters that lift off and take flight. Keep in mind that Venus/Uranus amorous adventures tend to end as quickly as they begin. So if you find yourself falling, try to remember the Venus/Uranus protective mantra: “Marry in haste; repent at leisure.”
For the next week, Saturn travels in tandem with the Sun—a conjunction in Scorpio that won’t happen again until October 2041. Saturn is nearing the end of its journey through Scorpio, a transit that began in October 2012 and ends on December 23, when Saturn enters Sagittarius. Use these weeks to sort through the limitations you’ve encountered during this Saturnian journey, as well as the wisdom you’ve gathered—but more about that over the coming weeks.
As these last days of the year unfold, gathering and weaving the threads of its extremes into an identifiable tapestry will take consistent effort. The first half of the year was a morass of retrogrades and the second half seems to be blowing by at the speed of light. And because of that velocity, finding the time to reflect won’t be easy. But reflection is essential, if only because it facilitates the process of letting go and releasing what no longer serves as it simultaneously helps to identify what does.
November 12, 2014
Several astral signatures converge this week, and daily life here on Earth reflects the obvious as well as the subtle shifts in the sky. You’ll need your super multitasking powers to manage the many diverse detours daily life is apt to take. Also be prepared for more than a few surprising developments to throw a monkey wrench into otherwise stable routines. But it’s likely to be the time distortions that are hardest to handle. In one dimension—the one where surprises alter the course of activity—time moves quickly. Yet in a parallel dimension, time moves at a crawl. And that’s because two planets are in the midst of course corrections—Neptune goes direct on November 16 and Jupiter goes retrograde on December 8. The key to navigating these next weeks is finding a comfortable personal pace and maintaining it despite these divergent rhythms. Do your best to stay focused on what has meaning for you AND expect to be distracted by events out of your control.
The motive force behind the fast-forward, freewheeling energy of the week is Mars…of course. On Monday, Mars started separating from its conjunction with Pluto, in Capricorn, moving immediately into a square with Uranus, in Aries, a square that is exact and separating today, November 12. This pernicious Mars/Uranus/Pluto bundle has been tightening its grip for the last couple of weeks, which is the reason many of us have had visitations from those closeted Disney Dwarfs: Testy, Dyspeptic, and Irritable. This week, as the tension of this configuration pulls apart, interactions with your fellow travelers—loved ones or strangers—could turn increasingly bellicose and volatile. If you must take a stand, take it; just know that your insistence will have lasting consequences. If you can avoid direct confrontation until the situation settles down, do that; your reticence will cause less disruption to ripple across your personal pond.
Neptune is the main source of the time-crawl—not that Neptune actually ever moves quickly—but when it “changes” direction and seems to stand still, we feel the prolonged effect of its influence. At its worst, Neptune signifies illusion, delusion, projection, and all the sticky gooeyness associated with substance abuse. At its best, Neptune signifies empathy, receptivity, and an awareness of the profound interconnectedness of existence. Negative or positive, Neptune knows no boundaries, and its transit through Pisces, its Home Sign, amplifies this boundarylessness. (I didn’t think this was really a word until a friend told me that it is a concept coined by Jack Welch during his time as CEO of GE.) As Neptune moves forward—it won’t be retrograde again until June 12, 2015—pay attention to all those places in your life that either suffer from too much or too little constraint. Neptune symbolizes all states of altered consciousness: Notice your dreams, waking and sleeping, and because Neptune in Pisces heightens the probability of illusion, pay special attention to your projections—they aren’t accidental.
Jupiter, which once ruled Pisces before Neptune was discovered, is slowing down in preparation for its retrograde on December 8. (Yes…that does seem like the distant future but it is closer than you think.) Jupiter is a big planet, and when it slows down, we feel its mighty weight translate into time distortions. Jupiter is currently in Leo, a Sign known for its creativity but also its generosity and extravagance, which makes me think that as Jupiter slows down in the midst of the holidays, many of us might feel the urge to curtail expensive shopping sprees—instead of “Shop ‘til you drop,” the new mantra might be, “Think before you spend.” Jupiter Retrograde is not the same as Mercury Retrograde, so don’t worry about delays and detours and when to sign and when to push forward and definitely don’t be afraid of endless hassles. Instead, use Jupiter’s “turnaround” as a signal to review and reflect on where and how you are expanding your self-expression and creativity.
We are also four weeks away from the sixth exact Uranus/Pluto square, which occurs on December 15. As this next-to-last contact tightens its grip—which it does daily for the next four weeks—expect upset and upheaval, personal and political, to escalate. Remember, each of us has the potential to shift the balance away from violence toward peaceful negotiation. And while individual efforts for peace may not yield an immediate global result, every compassionate thought, word, and deed changes the world.
November 5, 2014
It’s a whirlwind week of contrast and contradiction, as certain areas of daily life move forward at a breakneck pace while others glide along interdimensionally, as if driven by invisible forces, causing some of us to wonder if anything is moving at all. Don’t worry; everything is moving, even if progress can only be calibrated in the tiniest increments—so tiny that it’s impossible to be clear about the big picture. Try not to let frustration with the diverse paces devolve into blaming or name-calling. We are in a particularly prickly phase that could lead to especially mean-spirited meltdowns. Make nice when you can—planetary configurations coupled with these differing time signatures could cause normal interactions to morph into emotional speed traps.
The “full speed ahead” attitude can be attributed to Mars, which symbolizes muscle and motion. All week long, Mars tightens its conjunction to Pluto, in Capricorn, which is exact on November 10, as well as its square to Uranus, which is exact on November 12—it really is the old one-two punch. The Mars/Pluto conjunction feeds the need to use force in almost every instance, so don’t be surprised if all week long you feel the urge to dominate almost every situation. Try to resist indulging those inclinations, not because your frustration isn’t based on reality, but because this week not many people are interested in reality, or at least not a reality that includes the needs of others. Everybody wants to rule the world--and they just want it the way they want it.
But it’s when Mars moves out of its conjunction to Pluto and into its square with Uranus that things really get rough. It won’t be easy keeping aggressive energy contained. A Mars/Uranus square is an explosive combination that tends to blow up stagnant situations. It has the power to draw long-denied feelings to the surface, especially when it comes to resentments that have been brewing for a while over important issues. Try not to let a discussion over something as simple as a recipe for brownies turn into a brawl.
On Tuesday, November 11, the Moon moves into Cancer, where it will oppose Mars and Pluto as it simultaneously squares Uranus. The Moon’s presence only exacerbates the mess, but it is a powerful mess, and if you take rash action during this mess, the consequences are apt to decay as slowly as the half-life of Plutonium. Also be aware this dials up personal and political issues previously stirred up by the Grand Cardinal Cross of April 21, 2014.
Of course, you may not be able to avoid taking a stand—sometimes it takes a planetary black hole to transform the polite and often codependent or dysfunctional surface of personal interactions into authentic responses. And while those reactions may be uncomfortable, they are sometimes necessary. Anger for its own sake or just to blow off steam tends to have detrimental results no matter where Mars is in relation to Pluto or Uranus. Anger as an instrument of clarity is a different story—there will still be consequences, but in keeping with that old cliché the truth will set you free, those consequences could be beneficial. It just won’t be easy knowing the difference between self-righteousness and a simple desire to set the record straight.
The interdimensional, less aggressive contribution to the week is an ongoing conjunction between the Sun and Venus, in Scorpio. A Sun/Venus conjunction fosters creativity, and when that artistic lens focuses through Scorpio, passionate expression is the result. Keep in mind that Scorpio has its own filtration system; it assimilates information in a slightly different way than the rest of the Signs, if only because Scorpio has to suss out what’s happening beneath the surface of the obvious before it can make a decision. As the week unfolds, Venus moves into a conjunction with Saturn, closely followed by the Sun. The sober deliberation of a Sun/Venus/Saturn conjunction, in Scorpio, might be the perfect antidote for the Mars/Uranus/Pluto volatility.
Although this is still the first week in November, by the time we finish wrestling with the next few weeks of planetary patterns, we will be close to the end of 2014 and the beginning of the New Year. It’s been another year of unspeakable violence here on Planet Earth, and as you try to find the time to reflect on what’s transpired in your life, think about where you can create peace. Every act of kindness has a positive consequence. Use that knowledge to be an agent for love and compassion.
October 29, 2014
The final Mercury Retrograde phase of the year is over, the retrogrades of 2014 are finally behind us, and all the planets that drive the mechanics of daily life—Mercury, Venus, and Mars—are in fast-forward, quickening the pace of regular routines and, perhaps, making some of us wish that the wheels of life weren’t moving quite so quickly. But not to worry: For those seeking a crawl, Neptune is retrograde until November 16, Jupiter goes retrograde on December 8, AND Uranus remains retrograde until December 15.
But this week’s new pace isn’t necessarily about fastening your seatbelts, although being prepared for maximum warp would be a wise choice. The next nine weeks are about figuring how to find and maintain a wholesome balance in the midst of an end-of-the-year acceleration that not only ties together the loose ends of the last ten months, but also wipes clean the memory of the first half of the year when we were stuck in retrograde hell. What’s more, even if you are never in a hurry and have never had a Mad Hatter day in your life, you’re likely to feel the need to rush. So breathe deeply as often as necessary, and try to prioritize your time and energy. And when possible, encourage your fellow travelers to take life in comfortable strides.
The next few weeks are dominated by Mars, the archetype of the warrior who can be devoted to battle or to the service of a Greater Good.
Mars begins a conjunction to Pluto on November 4, a conjunction that is exact and separating on Tuesday, November 10 and lingers through November 18. This is a pernicious aspect that symbolizes the compulsive need to have it your way—and your way only. Brutal methods are often associated with this configuration. Try not to be dictatorial or insistent, and instead devote your efforts to peacemaking. The problem is that keeping the peace is impossible, if only because as soon as Mars moves out of exact contact with Pluto, Mars immediately moves into a square with Uranus, another difficult aspect that further fuels urges to use sheer brute force to achieve goals. And together, this entire bundle amplifies all the places and people in the world already inflamed with the madness of violence and war. Its power could be used to facilitate peace through creative solutions, but using that power positively will require great discipline and devotion to a Higher Power that can restore the sanity of everyone—not just addicts.
The Mars/Pluto conjunction happens at the same degree as the third Uranus/Pluto conjunction on May 20, 2013, and when Mars is exactly square Uranus it activates the same degree as the Grand Cross on April 21 of this year. Be prepared to revisit experiences, feelings, insights or encounters with people related to events that occurred at those significant points. Keep in mind as you reflect on the recent past that we are moving toward the sixth Uranus/Pluto square, which takes place on December 12. As soon as Mars triggers those points in the first weeks of November we will move inexorably toward that December date. These squares have catalyzed personal, political, individual, and collective movements for independence. And as this planetary cycle continues to unfold, so does the process of evolution. These are not easy times, but they are times that temper the heart and forge the soul.
On a softer note, the Sun and Venus are still traveling together, and their conjunction, in Scorpio, stimulates sensual desire and harmonious interactions in general. Unfortunately, they aren’t likely to generate enough beauty, even in Scorpio, to produce a healing balm for the world.
As the Mars situation unfolds, make every effort to be a peaceful warrior—try not to get angry on the checkout line, at the service operator, or with coworkers. Try not to smack the child, throw the cat off the bed, or kick the dog just because you can. Children and pets have no agency, which means when tempers boil over from frustration, they are usually the first to get blamed and punished. We live in a world where every act of love makes a difference, even if we can’t see an immediate result.
October 22, 2104
Welcome to another week of multifaceted change, another week when Earthlings are challenged to skillfully navigate the shifting currents of daily life, currents that unfold in erratic patterns, currents that have the potential to destabilize all those places in life already wobbling with uncertainty. We’re in the thrall of a solar eclipse that occurs on October 23, even as we continue to reel from the lunar eclipse of October 8. But that’s not all. Mercury goes direct on Saturday, October 25, and as it “turns around” many of the regular routines of daily life also slow to a crawl—and the pace tries the patience of everyone, including the dog.
Solar eclipses are believed to reveal the shadows lying beneath our conscious intentions, and because of their revelatory potency, they are often associated with what we fear will come to the surface. During a solar eclipse the Moon overshadows the Sun, cutting off the light that sustains us through the day. And even though they occur at regularly predictable intervals, eclipses still stir a sense that something is out of order. Of course, we don’t need an eclipse to tell us that something is wrong. But this eclipse happens at zero Scorpio, a Sign that can sometimes be more about the fear of what can’t be seen—the monster under the bed—than the fear of what actually is.
To every Scorpio reading this column: I do not think you are fearful. That being said, Scorpio is the Sign—in everyone’s birth chart—where we meet all the things in human experience that we have no control over, starting with death and moving through sex, politics, economics, and the process of transformation, to name but a few. And because Scorpio insists that we ultimately learn to relinquish control, it is also the Sign where we struggle with issues of power, individual as well as collective. Ruled by Pluto, Scorpio is the sector of the zodiac where we experience the constant cycle of death and birth. And grappling with that process can either fuel cynicism or strengthen resolve.
The degree at which an eclipse happens is called the “sensitive point” and astrologers often watch the transit of other planets that conjunct that point. For example, Mercury will transit the sensitive point of tomorrow’s solar eclipse on November 9; if you’re tracking an eclipse effect, this would be a good day to pay close attention to events to see if they are related to what transpires this week.
As I was contemplating this solar eclipse, I couldn’t help but think about Saturn’s entry into Scorpio on November 5, 2012, and wonder if it might be useful to investigate any connective tissue between this eclipse and Saturn’s journey through Scorpio. We’re in the final phase of that journey: Saturn moves into Sagittarius on December 23; it retrogrades back into Scorpio in June 2015; and then Saturn enters Sagittarius again in September 2015. I can’t help but think that much of what we’ve been experiencing regarding Ebola, beheadings, and the seemingly endless violence perpetrated everyday against our fellow humans—women, children, and men—is Saturn underscoring what needs to shift. Venus is part of the eclipse—she’s within moments of exact contact—and Venus, while primarily known as the goddess of love and beauty, is also the goddess of what matters most. And her presence will trigger even more questions of value, particularly the question of just how many more of us have to experience unspeakable harm before we honor the value of life—all life, not just the lives we like.
Be kind to your fellow travelers this week and also be kind to yourself. We live in times of great upheaval and uncertainty, and during such times, even the strongest among us (even those whose worlds wobble least) need a helping hand and a gentle touch. So when possible, try a little tenderness.
October 15, 2014
Doesn’t it seem as if this Mercury Retrograde has a peculiar time signature? On one hand, it’s definitely a retro-mess of communication snafus—a file I was working with disappeared from my screen in the blink of an eye and couldn’t be found anywhere. Yet on the other hand, some aspects of life are moving so swiftly they’ve become a blur—one minute it’s 9 o’clock in the morning and the next, it’s 11:30 AM, and a plan for action was conceived, agreed upon, and enacted before lunch. Old friends, distant for many moons, suddenly appear as if no time has elapsed, and new friends, made in an instant, seem closer than they ought to be—and no drugs were shared. The time warp feels so strange I find myself humming “You’ve got to pick up every stitch,” but it’s still two weeks away from Halloween, which is the actual season of the witch; I can only surmise that it must be the season of the eclipse, that time of year when shadows wobble the world.
The source of the current time distortion is a combination of Mercury Retrograde as well as our current position between two eclipses, the lunar eclipse of October 8, 2014 and the solar eclipse of October 23. Eclipses occur at precise intervals, but even though they are predictable, they are nevertheless unnerving. That’s probably because eclipses focus attention on shadows, especially solar eclipses, when the Moon overrides the Sun and unconscious patterns obscure conscious choices. Of course, not every conscious, pragmatic concern takes a back seat during this wobbling eclipse phase. But emotional themes, intentional or impulsive, tend to dominate during the six-week before-and-after period of a solar eclipse. It might be worthwhile to observe yourself and others during this time if only to see what, if anything, arises from unconscious internal reservoirs and insinuates itself into daily consciousness. Unconscious forces are usually revealed through dreams. But children are often the vessels for powerful unconscious forces and during eclipses they give voice to the feelings no one else is expressing.
We are at the mid-point of the last Mercury Retrograde of 2014—only ten more days to go, which means only ten more days to review, reflect, and reconsider plans already in motion or cull through the details of projects you would like to initiate once the retrograde is over. Remember, Mercury Retrograde is not the devil, even if it feels like the devil when files disappear in a cloud puff and smartphones turn dumb.
For the next ten days, you can jump to the left and step to the right, but clarity is still the key to navigating the madness of a Mercury Retrograde and eclipse time warp. Use that clarity to prioritize your time and efforts, but also to bolster your patience.
October 8, 2014
A volatile lunar eclipse today sets the tone for this week—and many weeks to come—so don’t be surprised if even more startling plot twists upend previously stable situations. Conversations, formal or casual, are likely to be a main source of disturbance, as pragmatic aims override emotional bonds. Hardly anyone is apt to feel the need to filter ambitions through a polite or politically correct screen, and as revelations of every type disrupt assumptions, good manners go out the window. Relationships are rearranging, and given that just about every facet of daily life here on Planet Earth is relational, this week and the coming weeks challenge the ability to stay calm and centered.
Normally, during a lunar eclipse, practical, conscious concerns overshadow emotional ones. But during today’s lunar eclipse, the Moon conjuncts Uranus as it opposes the Sun, and Uranus cannot be kept in the dark. A Moon/Uranus conjunction sets nervous systems twitching in an effort to dispel excess energy, and because Uranus refuses to settle down, emotions ride the pulse of this eclipse. Sleep patterns suffer from these tremors, so don’t be surprised if you’re caught between two sleep extremes: insomnia and comatose. The Sun/Uranus opposition gives birth to the radical revolutionary, and given the presence of the Moon, it would be wise to expect that some of this week’s rebellion is more emotional than political. And that could give rise to meltdowns, yours or others’.
But these are not the only intense interactions that occur during this lunar eclipse. Mars trines the Moon and Uranus as it sextiles the Sun, adding a decidedly militant touch. Mars motivates strident action, and while its contact with the Moon, Uranus, and the Sun is seemingly positive—trines and sextiles—Mars could just as easily stir the impulse to fight, just for the thrill of it. When possible, postpone major confrontations. And if you must do battle, before you take on an opponent, own your intentions.
And be wary of exaggeration, particularly overly zealous ambitions that might not be based on the solid ground of possibility. I’m not suggesting dreaming small; I’m simply advising conscious concern about the consequences of conflict—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. This lunar eclipse happens quite close to the final Uranus/Pluto square on March 17, 2015, and some of what gets put in motion under today’s eclipse is likely to present itself as part of that final contact.
Mercury began its last retrograde phase of 2014 on October 4, and for the next 17 days it will continue to review its recent history. Many of us know the Mercury Retrograde drill, but for those who don’t, here’s the skinny: Three times a year and relative to Earth’s orbital perspective, Mercury appears to be moving backwards. And when that happens, all things related and included in Mercury’s vast domain also appear to be moving backwards. That domain includes all varieties of communication, language, and travel. Expect getting there—by land, sea, air, or even the elevator—to take longer than usual. Also anticipate system crashes, yours or others, as well as mail problems. (I just received an email dated four years ago—go figure.) Plans initiated during a retrograde phase often encounter obstacles. The best use of Mercury Retrograde is to review and reflect on projects already in motion.
As the week unfolds, do your best to be kind to your fellow travelers. As the Dalai Lama puts it: “Compassion is the radicalism of our time.” And even if it seems impossible at times to hold the notion of kindness, it is always a worthwhile endeavor to remember we are all in this together.
October 1, 2014
It’s another week of powerful upheaval here on Planet Earth, and staying balanced in the midst of these seemingly endless shifts requires a strong mind and a steady heart, especially as highly charged planetary alignments continue to exacerbate too many already inflamed collective hotspots. From eruptions to explosions to extreme weather events, the world is wobbling. And its tremors are not only manifesting as part of our combined communal process; there are just as many personal emotional emergencies requiring attention and care, which means meltdowns are probable, yours and others’, particularly children of all ages. While I don’t usually recommend watching the news to gain insight, it might be a worthwhile exercise to tune in if only to gain perspective on just how volatile life has become for so many. You don’t need to watch for more than a nanosecond. Gaining even a brief glimpse of current global turmoil might inspire efforts to soothe local tumult.
The dominant source of astral heat is a Grand Trine, in Fire, among Uranus, in Aries, Jupiter, in Leo, and Mars, in Sagittarius. The Fire element is characterized by passion and daring—Aries thrives on excitement, Leo loves romance, and Sagittarius lives for adventure—and when all three Fire Signs combine in a positive formation, their joint influence ignites fervor everywhere. And when that formation is composed of the “Three Amigos” of Mars, Jupiter, and Uranus, well…”fasten your seatbelts” is an understatement. Any Mars/Uranus configuration feeds the need for revolution, and when Jupiter amplifies that need, the entire bundle produces tremendous amounts of energy, making it possible for groups as well as individuals to exert extreme effort—demonstrations in Hong Kong, for example. Individual demonstrations are also possible and some of our fellow travelers are sure to experience the same need for freedom from whatever enslaves, whether those shackles are physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. Don’t be surprised if you or someone you love declares independence and presents a personal bill of rights.
Those declarations could carry a sharp edge, given that the Sun, in Libra, opposes Uranus and simultaneously sextiles both Mars and Jupiter. The Sun signifies the life force, or spirit, and when it opposes Uranus, struggle and strife mark the fight for freedom. The Sun’s sextile to Mars and Jupiter indicates exaggerated or rash responses, and the entire bundle has the potential to escalate power struggles because…and hold on for it…the Sun also squares Pluto. It’s simply a mess of intensity that doesn’t bode well for the skillful or graceful handling of disagreements. A small, indulgent spark could intentionally or unintentionally ignite a conflagration.
Patience would be key to handling any small and/or large flare-ups, especially disruptions that occur as a result of Mercury Retrograde. Mercury begins its last retrograde phase of the year on October 4 and stays retrograde until October 25. Here’s the drill (and apologies to those who already know it by heart or learned it the hard way): Back up everything today. Don’t download new software or buy new hardware if you don’t have to. Also try not to initiate new projects or plans and instead concentrate on reviewing the details of what’s already in motion. Lastly, anticipate delays and detours when traveling or making travel plans, and also expect mail, electronic and whatever it is we used to call mail before computers, to disappear into the same place the socks go in the dryer.
Most importantly, because this week and next week are so volatile, make an extra effort to be kind to your fellow travelers. Everyone—everyone—is under tremendous stress, even if it is the stress of success and the fear it will vanish. Stress often sparks strong reactions that can’t be taken back. So stay calm, be present, and remember we are all in this intense fire together.
September 24, 2014
The planets continue to align in dynamic and turbulent patterns this week, and the regular routines of daily life reflect the astral intensity. Expect very little to be normal—as if normal exists anymore—and also anticipate moods to swing high and low as many of us struggle to maintain balance in the midst of these erratic rhythms. Some moments are sure to feel sluggish, if only because they require paying attention to the details. But other moments flash by at the speed of light, making it hard to remember exactly what happened. Try not to get stuck at either extreme—molasses or hyperspace. And while there is no “one size fits all” formula to insure safety from these extremes, mindfulness could prove a valuable tool, if only because it will keep you solidly in the moment.
Here’s the breakdown:
(1) Pluto Direct: On Monday, September 22, Pluto went direct, ending a retrograde phase that began in April, within moments of the fifth exact Uranus/Pluto square. Pluto does not make an exact contact with Uranus as it goes direct, but as it moves forward it will, of course, close in on the sixth exact Uranus square that occurs on December 15. Pluto stays direct until April 2015.
(2) The Jupiter/Uranus trine is exact tomorrow, September 25. This is a powerful positive interaction that almost guarantees an optimistic attitude. The problem is that it doesn’t necessarily differentiate what to be optimistic about. For some it is likely to manifest as old-fashioned good luck—a chance encounter that blossoms into a love affair, a new job, or a winning scratch-off ticket. Others might experience the influence of Jupiter/Uranus as heightened intuition or a deeper connection to spirit. Still more might find it easy to laugh and enjoy the company of others.
(3) That being said, the Moon opposes Uranus for most of today and tomorrow, adding an emotionally volatile touch. Try not to get too upset if no one agrees with your point of view, and just bide your time until the air is a little more settled—which won’t be anytime soon.
(4) Patience is key to handling the volatility, particularly by Monday, when the Sun moves into a square with Pluto and by Tuesday, into an opposition to Uranus. This configuration is the mother’s milk of revolution, and freedom fighters everywhere will feel the call to throw down. This need to break free is certain to be felt by many, groups and collective movements as well as individuals. On the negative end of the spectrum, it feeds the need to fight just for the sake of fighting; on the positive side, it provides the necessary fire to catalyze stagnation. A word of caution: it must be handled skillfully in order to ensure success. And to the Evolutionaries: Don’t despair and in your frustration resort to violence; true change requires a new paradigm, one that does no harm to anyone or anything.
(5) And there’s more: By the weekend, Mars begins to trine both Jupiter and Uranus, creating a Grand Trine in Fire. The Mars/Uranus trine is exact and separating on October 5; the Mars/Jupiter trine is exact and separating on October 8. As the next couple of weeks unfold, the best advice I can offer is: Watch out! Yes…I am offering really simple (and trite) advice because there is nothing subtle about this interaction. It is essentially positive, but it is also extremely powerful, and applied carelessly or impulsively to already volatile situations could be dangerous. Another reason why mindfulness is a potent remedy for the week.
(6) But that’s not all: Also on October 8—two weeks from today—there is a lunar eclipse that occurs in a conjunction to Uranus. I realize that’s two weeks away, but we tend to experience an eclipse effect as often as six weeks prior to the event or six weeks after, or when another transiting planet triggers the eclipse-sensitive point. During a lunar eclipse, practical concerns overshadow emotional ones, but given the volatility of the next several weeks, it won’t be easy holding back.
(7) Mercury goes retrograde on October 4 and stays that way until October 25. Remember the three-day retrograde rule, and if you haven’t backed up all your important information, don’t procrastinate. A week from today the interference will begin and backing up won’t be as easy.
As the coming weeks unfold, try to be clear and stay clear about how you want to handle the hotspots in your life. Also be clear about how you want to negotiate the nervous responses of others. Remember, when we take the time to respond rather than react, we also take the time to make a different choice, one that can be born from a desire for transformation.
September 17, 2014
The planets dial up the heat for the next several weeks and as their celestial fire intensifies the already too intense terrestrial landscape, attitudes turn adamant about almost everything, and as a consequence, petty concerns could suddenly transform into significant situations. This planetary fervor easily translates into a need to act on behalf of all the things that matter to you, as well as those you love, those you don’t even know, and those you will never know. Several political and collective agendas could burn out of control, and personal and individual desires and demands could boil over. Patience is the key to navigating the intensity, so whenever possible, take a deep breath, encourage others to do the same, and then try to approach each instance or incident calmly. Be especially kind to children during this planetary heat. Many, if not all, will be channeling an unbridled excitement that could spark more than a few meltdowns.
The main source of the intensity is a trine between Jupiter and Uranus, an idealistic coupling that is characterized by enthusiasm. Jupiter signifies philosophy, and Uranus signifies freedom. Both are in Fire Signs: Jupiter is in Leo, the Sign of self-expression, and Uranus is in Aries, the Sign of individuation. All Jupiter/Uranus contacts, regardless of how they are configured or what Sign they are occupying, indicate sudden or surprising developments or resolutions; sometimes that’s called “the nick of time,” while other times it’s deemed “divine intervention.” Trines are positive interactions, and even if the effect of Jupiter/Uranus doesn’t appear benign at first, it’s generally a beneficial influence. Be aware that Leo feeds Jupiter’s already enthusiastic temperament, skewing it toward extravagance, excess, and exaggeration, as Aries’ desire for physical action feeds similar urges in Uranus. And when the Moon conjuncts Jupiter on Friday and Saturday, simultaneously forming a trine to Uranus, dramatic emotional moments are probable. Expect poetic praises to be sung and criticisms to be hyper-articulate. If you’re somehow able to escape this intensity, try not to be too judgmental about those consumed by the blaze. This fire isn’t all bad, and sometimes it takes searing heat to melt away what is superfluous in order to reveal what is true.
Mars just moved into Sagittarius on Saturday, September 13, and by the end of the month it will move into a trine with Uranus and Jupiter—a positive configuration that will nevertheless need to be handled carefully, if only to avoid burning down the house—or anything else you’d like to keep safe from harm.
On Monday, Pluto goes Direct just prior to the autumnal equinox, when the Sun moves into Libra. Usually, the “slowdown” from Pluto’s “turn around” isn’t felt as keenly as other planetary “course corrections,” but given the approaching Mercury Retrograde, it wouldn’t be surprising if the regular routines of daily life start to take on a sluggish pace, despite the quickening heat of the current astral fire. And just as a reminder: Mercury Retrograde begins on October 4 and ends on October 25, so back up everything now...really—now.
September 10, 2014
The planets are writing unusual messages across the sky this week, and as they do, life on Earth runs the risk of becoming even more confusing, conflicted, confrontational, and seriously unconventional. And that’s not because the celestial interactions are all negative—some are actually positive. But we live in strange times, and although it’s hard to imagine daily life becoming weirder, it would be wise to prepare yourself for anomalies to become normal.
The source of eccentricity is a waxing trine between Jupiter and Uranus, an essentially beneficial combination whose primary signature is divine intervention—think: out of the clear blue sky…. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all prayers are answered, so please don’t bet the bank on the next Mega-Millions/Power Ball game. Buy a ticket, by all means, but buy it with the understanding that divine intervention only needs one ticket to show its hand and deliver a jackpot. A Jupiter/Uranus trine more often than not translates into unforeseen or surprising resolutions of previous difficulties. Translation: Winning enough on a scratch-off to pay the electricity bill. It is an exciting interaction, and as it builds in intensity, daily life is sure to follow suit, and human behavior is certain to reflect the excitement.
Uranus symbolizes unforeseen plot twists and catalyzes what’s stagnant. Jupiter symbolizes expansion, physical as well as metaphysical. They are both in Fire Signs, which represent passion. Uranus is in Aries, a Sign known for its need to individuate. Jupiter is in Leo, a Sign known for its need to express creativity. As Aries and Leo combine their heat, many might be inspired to act out or act up, especially children of all ages because they tend to feel these signatures most keenly. Expect declarations of independence to become dramatizations, maybe even passion plays. Individual needs, previously unexpressed, could give rise to a series of Instagram images shared with all. Think wide, deep, high, intense, and definitely unpredictable, and you’ll have a good idea of how this trine is likely to manifest.
The trine between Jupiter and Uranus occurs three times between now and June 22, 2015. This first time it’s exact is September 25. The second exact contact is March 5, just a few days before the seventh Uranus/Pluto square on March 17. (More about that in columns to come.) The third exact trine is on June 22. Today, as we begin this series, the Moon conjuncts Uranus and trines Jupiter, which means we start this interaction on an emotional note, and by the time the trine is exact and separating on September 25, the Moon will be opposite Uranus, in Libra. Expect emotional issues that begin this week to come to a head in late September or early October. To be sure, the outcome won’t be predictable.
What’s more, this week Mercury, in Libra, opposes Uranus as it simultaneously sextiles Jupiter. And while Mercury’s presence is generally interpreted as benign, Mercury is also infamous as a Trickster, and that facet of its influence could generate more than a few confusing situations, especially if the Jupiter/Uranus provides a quick fix that seems too good to be true. Generally, the “too good” cliché signals that it can’t be true. But this Jupiter/Uranus trine is what one group of German astrologers called the “Thank the Lord” combination, which translated into present day parlance means “anything goes.” Just avoid promises you can’t keep and make sure that what you agree to take on or deliver is something you can actually do.
Mostly, the Jupiter/Uranus trine is likely to deliver some much-needed relief in areas that would benefit from an eccentric perspective. It’s not just that this interaction provides a way to think outside of the box; it provides the impetus to act outside of convention. When we refuse to comply with rules and regulations that no longer serve, we begin a creative process of finding new, positive and effective solutions. We need such cures. We need them in our personal and professional lives, but we also need remedies for our global lives. Let’s do our best to apply the high, wide, and deep intensity of this trine to all those places in need of positive, creative passion, inspiration, and action. And where you may feel thwarted in making a difference in the world, remember that every time we make a different, more conscious creative choice in our personal life, we are adding one more positive drop to our collective consciousness.
September 3, 2014
It could take more than a moment to adjust to the back-to-school-back-to-work-mode of the week, but the transition from summer adventures to autumn chores is inevitable. The good news is that the planets offer positive support for getting almost anything done—and not just this week. The next several weeks are ripe with positive possibilities. And for those who are ambitious or simply have plans or projects in need of concentrated effort, now would be the time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Not that the rest of the fall season won’t be ripe with opportunities to accomplish various goals, but Mercury Retrograde begins on October 4 and lasts until October 25, which means that the entire month of October will be strewn with communication and travel delays and detours. This is the month to put your ideas in motion so that they can gather momentum before the October obstacle course.
The Sun/Pluto trine from last week carries over into this one and continues to provide a grounded approach to the routines of daily life; it lasts until next week, so use it or lose it. This trine provides the physical stamina to tackle all sorts of tasks, especially sorting through and organizing everything—the Sun is in Virgo, after all, the Sign best known for appreciating the details.
As soon as this trine fades away, it’s replaced by a Venus/Pluto trine that’s in effect from September 11 through September 20. When the goddess of love and beauty is supported by the super power of Pluto, their combined influence produces the desire for a graceful atmosphere and environment. This trine also has a strong sexual current that can transform even casual encounters into sensual invitations. Use the elegance inherent in this positive combination to enhance your immediate environment or interactions. But that’s next week’s astral news.
Back to this week, on Sunday Venus begins an opposition to Neptune, and while this interaction can blur boundaries and generate confusion, it can just as easily add a poetic touch to daily interactions. Don’t be surprised if you’re feeling dreamier than usual. And don’t worry…you won’t float away.
This is the week to gather the threads of whatever you’ve been thinking about doing and get to work doing it. It’s also a good time to prepare for Mercury Retrograde—do your billing, get the brakes checked—in fact take care of all your equipment, especially your computer, and just generally put your house in order. And as always, remember to make kindness your first choice in response to any obstacle or difficulty you may encounter.
August 27, 2014
It’s the start of Indian summer, the time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere when we transition between the full intensity of the summer heat and the gradual cooling off of autumn. It’s one of the most delicious seasons of the year, when everything planted at the start of spring is ripe and ready to eat. But it’s not just the season of physical garden delights; it’s also the season when emotional, mental, and spiritual seeds bear fruit. And as the coming weeks unfold, many of us are likely to become increasingly aware of what’s been put in motion since last spring, positive and negative. Transitions are seldom smooth so don’t be dismayed if you experience a surprise or two growing in your personal garden. Sometimes we’re oblivious to weeds until they are full blown and flowering. And sometimes the unwanted weeds that take root and flourish are the very plants that provide the most needed remedies.
The planetary patterns of the week reflect both the delight and discomfort of this transition. Let’s start with the discomfort: The Mars/Saturn conjunction is separating—it’s over by the September 5—but it’s often when a hard aspect is ending that we feel the full brunt of its influence. Expect the dour tone of the last several weeks to linger. Also anticipate strong urges to lash out and speak that truth you’ve been trying so hard to hold back. And if you’re not the one holding back, be prepared for someone to unleash on you. Either way, or even if you’re just observing the discharge in others, this separating Mars/Saturn conjunction could have a sharp edge.
The Sun, in Virgo, makes two interesting contacts. First, it’s opposite Neptune, In Pisces, an interaction that inclines toward daydreaming and all other sorts of imaginal meanderings. Focus the potency of this opposition on poetry—and don’t limit your sonnets to words only. This interaction has the power to obscure and confuse, but it also has the potential to give birth to metaphors that speak to more than just the daily details because they have the “star” power move us out of the mundane
Second, the Sun trines Pluto, in Capricorn, a powerful, positive interaction that promises all sorts of tangible applications, and in some instances, tangible gains. Use the combination of the Sun and Pluto to take care of all the particulars of plans and projects you are currently working on. Embrace the thoroughness, but also the groundedness of this configuration and you’ll feel confident in all you take on.
As you contemplate what you have grown in your personal garden, pay special attention to where you have cultivated peace and generosity of spirit. As most of us know, these are much needed remedies in a world where far too many of us are suffering from hungry bodies and hungry hearts.
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.