Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Winter Solstice and Self-Transformation: Sun Conjunct Pluto

I hope everyone reading this post-Christmas and last-night-of-Hanukkah post is faring well less than a week into winter. Small wonder that it is during the darkest days of the year (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) we feel the need for party lights and reconnecting with those people whom we hold dear, and on a New Moon (exact 12/24 at 1:06 p.m. EST) shortly after the solstice, a new cycle has begun that concentrates on building a solid foundation for one's public persona as well as strengthening contacts with older or more successful people.

Jupiter stationed direct at 0 degrees of Taurus on Christmas Day, indicating a high potential for material and/or sensual bounty, particularly for the Earth signs of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn.

The Sun and Pluto are approaching a conjunction in Capricorn, which means that between now and 12/29 at 2:41 a.m. EST this is an optimal time to dig deep into your self-identity and root out compulsive or controlling behavior. Much like the Sun in Scorpio, a Sun-Pluto conjunction is all about self-transformation, confronting parts of yourself you would rather keep secret, and breaking through all manner of taboos. By working on yourself as honestly as possible, you may begin to sense real change in your place in the world. Just make a point not to engage in self-loathing or self-destructive behavior (two downsides of Pluto and Scorpio), and be gentle and patient with yourself as you shed your old, ill-fitting skin.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ready for the Full Moon / Lunar Eclipse?

Although the upcoming Lunar Eclipse (exact Saturday 12/10 at 9:36 a.m. EST) lacks aspects from other planets, it is significant that just a few hours before this eclipse is exact, Uranus turns direct at 0 degrees (a "critical," i.e., powerful degree) of Aries. Any Full Moon that involves Gemini and Sagittarius is bound to be restless; because this is also a Lunar Eclipse, there will be much travel of mind and body. Flights of fancy are likely. If you are able to concentrate, much can be learned under this Full Moon; even if you have some variant of ADD, you will still emerge with more knowledge than before.

However, with Mercury still Retrograde in Sagittarius until Tuesday 12/13, reflection is still encouraged, even necessary. As we near the peak of the holiday season, try not to get caught up in consumeritis while Mercury is still Retrograde; returns of purchases are likely for myriad reasons, ranging from wrong size / icky color / already falling apart / never worked to start with.

On a personal note, I survived Neptune square my Neptune with just a few more gray hairs and a clean bill of health. It is indeed a good thing I had my midlife crisis at age 27, or else I'd be embarrassing myself even more than I had 13 years ago, when I was desperately trying to recapture my Lost Youth by dating 25-year-old rock musicians. Seriously, the Neptune square Neptune was not pretty. Yet despite the pain and loss I have gone through in 7th-house matters (my 7th-house cusp is Pisces, the sign ruled by Neptune), as the Neptunian fog starts to clear and lift, I have reason to believe in hope. I have reason to believe that I am entering a new chapter of My So-Called Life even as I linger in a domestic transitional limbo, courtesy of the harsh realities of NY real estate.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mercury Turns Retrograde Just in Time for Turkey Madness

Since mid-October, when Mercury entered Scorpio, Mercury and Venus have been traveling partners, almost but not quite reaching an exact conjunction in Sagittarius on November 12. Since that day, Mercury has been slowing down in its orbit from Earth's perspective, and is about to definitively part ways with Venus, which is nearing the end of Sagittarius.

It has been a lovely, intense combination indeed, with Mercury, the planet of communication, taking its cues from Venus, the planet of love and beauty. Many sweet nothings (or even sweet somethings) have been in the air, or whispered into ears.

However, this sweet-nothings-or-something weather is about to turn. Until December 13, Mercury Retrograde will at the very least encourage reflection over what went down during the past few weeks. More likely, particularly with Venus's exit from expansive, freewheeling, gambling Sagittarius and entrance into calculating, pragmatic Capricorn this Saturday, there may well be second thoughts concerning promises and faith in love. If you have been too optimistic lately, some cold hard facts may bring on a major buzz kill...but without Capricorn (and Saturn) to pull us back to earth, Sagittarius (and Jupiter) would keep expanding and fighting gravity and contradicting our essential earthbound parameters, making the inevitable burst bubble all the more painful. Better to take any necessary medicine willingly, and soon; a small dose of bitterness may save you from having to take a much larger dose later.

With the Moon in secretive, seductive Scorpio, the ideal Thanksgiving would be spent either in private or with your favorite non-platonic person, but if family obligations take over and you cannot make a late date, try for a rain check. (Please note that if you live on the West Coast, the Moon enters Sagittarius by 6 p.m., so you may actually be in a better position to slip off into the night than East Coasters.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg Obviously Doesn't Have an Astrologer on His Payroll

...for he decided to have the NYPD come down on the OWSers with the Moon in Cancer. In plain English, he gave the order to boot them out of their makeshift home with the Moon (ruling the home and the public) transiting Cancer (the sign that is ruled by the Moon). And under darkest cover of night, with a media blackout, confiscating of personal belongings including the OWS library, and police brutality.

No, no, and no.

Mayor Bloomberg, and any other politicians or 1%ers who may have accidentally stumbled on my humble li'l ole blog, I am offering my astrological services to you (for only 100X as much as my customary fee) so that when the Uranus-Pluto square hits the fan next year, you will not be carted off to the 21st-century version of the guillotine. For the 99%er revolution, which cuts across generational, religious, cultural, and gender lines, has just begun.

Funny, I observed 10 or 15 years back that the next major war in the US was going to be a civil war. At that time, I envisioned the East and West coasts vs. the heartland; now I see it will be less geographical or generational in nature, and more about such Capricorn-ruled institutions as government and banking brought to its knees (the part of the body ruled by Capricorn/Saturn) as Uranus in headstrong, fresh-blood Aries makes the square to Pluto in Capricorn.

The US was born out of revolution (US natal Pluto is 27 degrees of Capricorn; Moon is placed in rebellious Aquarius). It could very well be that the key to its survival is more of the same. In the words of Pluto: Regenerate or die!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ode to Full Moon in Taurus (one day late)

Do you dare admit to your heart's desire?
The things that set all of you on fire?

Can you face up to what you truly want?
Or do you stop yourself by claiming you don't?

What do you see when you gaze into a mirror?
Does your reflection laugh or cry you a river?

Can you be rich without any money?
Can you be sweet without any honey?

Can you be hot without having a lover?
Can you have power without running someone over?

Do you feel most alive when on the edge,
Perched on a metaphorical ledge?

Will you turn into a werewolf on this Full Moon?
Or sip someone's blood with a silver spoon?

Do you feel pulled apart and wanting it all?
Do you wish you could be an iconic idol?

Are you developing X-ray vision?
Or the intensity of nuclear fission?

Can you answer any of these questions in all honesty?
If so, feel free to report back to me.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Moon in Scorpio: Perceive, Penetrate, Power

The Sun entered Scorpio just three days ago, and today was the New Moon (exact 3:56 p.m. ET). There should be no doubt in anyone's mind, heart, or nether reaches that we have entered the Scorpio Zone. Mercury and Venus are also transiting this sign. With four out of ten planets in Scorpio, the atmosphere is intense, to say the very least, with a 90 percent chance of intrigue combined with dead-on perception and transformation. You may feel as if you are living in a 007 film, or perhaps an NC-17 one.

If you self-identify as lighthearted, superficial, or asexual, I would strongly advise laying low till November 2 (when Mercury and Venus enter Sagittarius). If you are a Water sign or have this element predominant in your chart, on the other hand, you should feel right at home -- though Scorpios or individuals with Scorpio planets may feel slightly overwhelmed by this particular type of energy (not that they would ever admit it), due to its co-ruler Mars transiting incompatible Leo.

We just went through the Venus-Mars square (exact today at 6:23 p.m.), not the greatest aspect for love and sex. Particularly with Venus in Scorpio and Mars in Leo, possessiveness or jealousy was likely, as well as plenty of drama. Mars in Leo is apt to issue ultimatums, while Venus in Scorpio is less than likely to toe the line. Whatever issues were raised by this square, they are not finished -- the Mercury-Mars square on Friday (exact 11:08 a.m. ET) will continue the conversation, if indeed it is a conversation; the temptation to yell, accuse, and throw things will be quite strong. Lock all sharp objects away and keep a pillow handy if you need to punch something.

The good news is that even though there is another challenging aspect on Friday (Sun opposing Jupiter, 9:42 p.m. ET), we get a helpful, opportunity-making sextile between the Sun and Pluto, as well as a wonderful trine between Jupiter and Pluto. Ideally, both the sextile and trine will modify the extravagance and false promises likely to occur under a Sun-Jupiter opposition. The trine occurs in Earth signs (Taurus and Capricorn, respectively), which indicates physical comfort, pleasure, and material abundance. However, because the Moon will enter the Jupiter-ruled sign of Sagittarius on Friday, and Pluto rules the sign of Scorpio (where the Sun, Venus, and Mercury currently are), there will also be a strong, even unshakable sense of faith and regeneration.

On a mass level we have a dire need for such a potentially healing aspect, and so does the planet that houses us; on an individual level I urge each and every one of you to try to tune in to it however you can. Meditate, make art, re-create, celebrate -- preferably at a costume party or seance, since it will be the weekend before Halloween.

Whether or not you believe in ghosts or the spirit world, this is an ideal time to look past the surface, beyond other people's masks...and to stop deluding yourself, no matter how rude the awakening.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Full Moon Blues

This is another one of those times when I find that I cannot speak from "on high" as an astrologer unscathed by messy humanity. I do not feel comfortable using this blog as a diary; among my many pet peeves are bloggers who assume their readership is keenly fascinated by the ups and downs of said bloggers' existence. Yet it is also true that I cannot take solace in distancing myself from the influence of the planets as if they do not affect me.

My Moon progressed into Gemini about 10 days ago. Since then, I came down with a bad head cold, my live-in boyfriend and I decided to call it quits after a few months of escalating misery, and I came down with laryngitis and chest congestion. My newly ex came down with a cold too, so we were both home sick today.

And homesick...at least, I was. Homesick for the home we had built together when he moved into my apartment full of love for me less than nine months ago. Longing to recapture the feeling of warmth, safety, playfulness, and happiness that fled my heart practically overnight, although on my newly ex's end he claims it was more a gradual fading out, and not "about" any one thing or things. The main difference is that he fell out of love with me, and I did not fall out of love with him, even when I woke up one day in late July and realized how unhappy with the relationship I had become. I was hoping we could somehow fix it -- and failing that, be the recipients of a miracle.

However, I had seen the writing on the wall back in June. I knew that the summer would see my progressed Sun leaving Leo and entering Virgo, followed by my progressed Moon opposing my Neptune, and then my progressed Moon would enter Gemini this fall, and that all these things would not bode well for my love life: Neptune rules my 7th house, my newly ex's Saturn is 0 degrees of Virgo, and my Venus is 1 degree of Virgo, which my progressed Moon will soon square. And my newly ex's progressed Moon is about to leave Virgo. We also both experienced Mars Returns: mine was exactly one month ago; his was last week.

But back in June I did not want to be fatalistic about the next few months. I am an astrologer who believes fervently in free will.

And the shit hit the fan anyway.

And the Moon was full tonight in Aries...so I suppose I should be relatively relieved that the limbo state in which my newly ex and I had been dwelling was resolved over the weekend (with the Moon in Pisces, the sign on my 7th-house cusp). I guess it was mutual. We'd both had enough, although he is the one claiming to be sorry, which is the stance that the leaver takes with the leavee.

And now we must navigate the open-ended phase in which we are still living together, but not as a couple. Given the circumstances, I have every right to toss his ass out; my Sun-Mars conjunction in Cancer can turn into real aggression when I feel threatened on the home front. Maybe the trine to Neptune softens this conjunction somewhat...except that my Neptune happens to be in Scorpio. But the natal placement that most seems to encourage stasis for now in terms of my living situation is Saturn in Taurus, which opposes my Moon and Neptune. Translation: I am always short of money, I do not want to break my lease, and splitting the rent for a few months will greatly assist in my saving money for my next apartment. (It is an issue for my ex as well, although not quite as extreme.)

Still, all I feel right now is sadness, which does not translate into the kind of behavior that anger can trigger. So I suppose I should also feel relieved for the stupor that is the hallmark of sorrow, though I cannot feel anything remotely positive about the fact that am battling insomnia and have graduated from Advil Cold & Sinus to Robittusin Peak Cold.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Have an Exquisite Equinox!

Apologies for the sparseness of my posts this month, but I was busy preparing for a featured poetry performance that finally happened last night. With the Moon transiting my Sun Sign of Cancer in my 10th house, and the Sun at 28 Virgo just past a sextile to my Mercury and Neptune, I daresay it was one of my better performances, and I will post a link to the show once it's been archived.

Another equinox is upon us. Although this one ushers in autumn, not spring, other aspects tomorrow indicate it will feel more like spring and summer: the Moon in fiery Leo conjuncts Mars and trines Uranus in Aries just a few hours before the Sun moves into Libra at 5:05 a.m. EDT. And just a few hours after that, Mars forms an exact trine with Uranus.

This translates into a feeling of high "yang" energy and a desire to take a few risks. Romance, creativity, and innovation: snap, crackle, and pop! The first major solar aspect occurs over the weekend, with the Sun-Uranus opposition throwing a spanner in many a relationship. Ego clashes are likely, and desire for freedom feels more important at this moment than harmony and "making nice"; the irony is that these things are exactly what the sign of Libra strives for (as well as balance), but the fiery Martial-Uranian energy from 9/23 through 9/26 will trump "typical" Libra.

Even the New Moon on 9/27 will not be a gentle, restful conjunction, for Mercury in Libra opposes Uranus that day, and the Sun squares Pluto -- and the following day, Moon squares Pluto, Mercury squares Pluto, and the Sun conjuncts Mercury. Any resentment and/or feelings of manipulation need to be dealt with as directly as possible before they fester. Blackmail, either overt or subtle, and misunderstood communications are unfortunate side effects of these combinations, as is a sense of danger and distrust. Without any water in current transits, it will be a challenge (particularly for those individuals who lack water in their natal charts) to know exactly what you are feeling, let alone follow your intuition. Try not to overthink things -- but just as crucial, do not underthink things.

Not until the 29th, when Venus in its ruling sign of Libra conjuncts Saturn (exalted in Libra) will any sense of balance and justice feel within reach. So pace yourself, and brace yourself...the first week of autumn is going to be one wild, rough ride.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Years Later...

As much as I do not wish to contribute to the cult of 9/11 hoopla as far as exploitation and fear-mongering are concerned, I do feel compelled to convey some of my feelings about where we were ten years back and where we are now.

I very much wanted to share with you two astrology posts I wrote ten years ago for PlutoRising.com, which I founded and managed via Webseed, a long-defunct dot-com publisher that did not survive the dot-com bust of the early aughts. Unfortunately, I cannot open those two Word files, because they are from an earlier version of Word and I was unable to make head or tail of how to allow my 2007 version to open them. Fortunately, I can remember the gist of the weekly post I wrote for the week of 9/5 to 9/12: that with the Moon in Gemini strengthening the recent Saturn-Pluto opposition, criminals would prevail.

On September 11 itself, I may have gotten the last available cab going down Second Avenue in Tudor City, where I worked then. I remember gently pushing a few sobbing fellow legal secretaries from the office into the the same cab, which dropped them off at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge after letting me off at the corner of Tenth Street. I rushed up to the roof of my building, where a few of my neighbors were congregated. The view was unobstructed. It looked as if someone were erasing the South Tower from top to bottom. Everyone on the roof was uttering the same thing: "Oh my God."

The only person who was able to get through to me on the phone during the next few hours of horror and disbelief was my friend who lived thousands of miles away in Berlin. I had the TV on; after numerous viewings of the same surreal images of planes crashing into the Twin Towers and people jumping out windows, I started packing a bag, even though I knew full well that I could not escape, as the city was in lockdown mode. I decided the only thing to do to keep sane was to post a live update on my astrology blog. Even though I could not get through to anyone on the phone, my dial-up connection worked like a charm; I was able to post without delay.

The Saturn-Pluto opposition, denoting cruelty and extreme abuse of power, obviously bore monstrous fruit that we have been digesting ever since. For a brief time, it seemed the US had the sympathy of much of the world; yet we squandered that goodwill so quickly. The War on Terror, which included hunting down Weapons of Mass Destruction where there were none, invading Iraq, and so on only hurt our global reputation -- and deservedly so, in my opinion.

The city did feel different for a short while after 9/11 -- quiet, if not completely beaten down -- and somehow unified. When the wind changed direction on the 12th or 13th and I could smell death out my kitchen window, I remember feeling "one" with strangers on the street, on the subway. Some people moved out of the city as a result of the mass tragedy downtown, but most stayed. Parties for a certain subsection of singles in the city got wilder, while families cocooned.

Despite the fact that Osama bin Laden is now fish food, the havoc wrought from 9/11 remains. In a sense, the terrorists won: witness the decline of US civilians' personal freedom in a nation built on that very premise. The mantra of the past decade has been "Security above all." We are all now presumed guilty until proven innocent -- in airports, in wiretapping. And many individuals now act like "sheeple" and are willing to be passively herded en masse to whatever new indignity the TSA or the feds have concocted. Security above all.

As a person who also happens to be an astrologer, I do not believe we are any "safer," just more afraid and oppressed. Pluto moving from freewheeling Sagittarius into conservative Capricorn has made so many sheeple afraid of rocking the boat...of becoming unemployed...of being thrown in jail without just cause...or just put on some sort of watch list.

But ready or not, the Uranus-Pluto square (aka "2012") is coming, and with it the ultimate karmic shit may finally hit the cosmic fan. It may only be after the square, once the ashes settle from another explosion, that we will actually be able to break the 9/11 chain. But if not, then we may be even deeper in the collective toilet bowl than I dared imagine.

On the eve of the tenth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on US civilians on their home soil, we are approaching the Full Moon in Pisces (exact on Mon. 9/12 at 5:27 a.m. EDT). This is also the Harvest Moon: a time to reap what we have sown. With this Full Moon, there will be plenty of self-criticism and attention to detail and ritual (Virgo) combined with high emotion, fantasy, sadness... and possible forgiveness. Beware of those with martyr complexes, or those who call upon you to sacrifice for their own benefit.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Getting Personal

As a Pluto Rising person with Moon in Scorpio, it would pretty much be a no-duh no-brainer to state that I am a private person.

That is, except when I am not.

My 10th-house Sun and Mars-Mercury conjunction across my 11th-house cusp does give me the undeniable urge to be heard, if not seen, by as many people as possible -- and even when seen, I can rely on a veritable costume closet of personae to protect my innermost Sun-in-Cancer core.

All this by way of saying that instead of writing from on high discussing various aspects in an impersonal way, right now I feel like focusing this on how I've been faring under certain aspects and progressions.

The weekend before last, with the Sun in late Leo squaring my natal Neptune in Scorpio and also squaring my progressed Moon in Taurus, I received word from my editor that she was planning to shut down Paper Bag Press, an erotica e-press she launched on Valentine's Day 2009 (fitting, since my editor is an Aquarius). She did not give an official reason for her decision in her email, but with virtually nonexistent sales over the past several months, it hardly came as a surprise. Still, it came as disappointing news. In 24 hours or so, all rights to Sandwich Filling and The Poetry Prostitute shall revert back to me, and I will be free to try to place them elsewhere.

My progressed Moon has just entered the final degree of Taurus; as it is squaring the cusps of my 6th house and 12th house, with transiting Neptune once again conjunct the 6th house at 29 Aquarius (where it was when I came down with the flu earlier this year), my health has suffered in minor yet irritating ways. Not even a week after I finally recovered from a month-long back injury that had prevented me from doing yoga, I came down with a bad head cold that has kept me home from work for two days (and since I am technically a part-timer, I do not get paid sick days).

The New Moon in Virgo fell in my 12th house, and I have not been outside my apartment building since Friday evening; this is due to my bad cold, yet even if I were well enough to go outside and soak in the warm late-summer sunshine, I would want to do so as far removed from crowds of people as possible. Unfortunately, this annual desire for retreat cannot be honored in full...at least not this year.

I have been reading up on 29 degrees of Taurus and it seems that along with the final degree of Pisces, something is coming to an end that cannot be continued. This confirms my innermost feeling at the same time I do not know what will happen when this chapter of my life is over.

I have some ideas, of course, but hypothesizing at this point seems vaguely silly. Right now it makes more sense to look back over the past two years (my progressed Moon entered Taurus in July 2009). There is much in my progressed Moon-in-Taurus life to be grateful for -- love, validation for my creativity, some trustworthy friends who have my back, steady work, a nice home -- yet at the same time, I must face up to the dark side of Taurus: stubbornness, materialism, heaviness (both literally and figuratively), defensiveness, and tendency to get stuck in a rut.

Change is the only constant, but it is easy to forget that piece of wisdom during a progressed Moon in Taurus.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mercury Finally Turns Direct!

Mercury stations direct at 6:01 p.m. EDT. Whew!

With Mercury stationary -- i.e., just having turned retrograde or direct, and therefore remaining in the same degree for a few days until it gains momentum one way or the other -- this is an ideal time to focus your mind. Meditate. Get a mantra. Reflect. Write a long letter or have an in-depth conversation. Be prepared to go over recent ground. Ponder your local environment. Do your homework, and put your house in order. Think, but try not to overthink; take precautions, but try not to let your care turn to anxiety or worry.

The Moon-Uranus trine at 6:31 p.m. EDT, right after Mercury turns direct, should encourage flashes of insight and harmonious interaction with female friends.

Regarding Hurricane Irene, if you happen to live along the Eastern Seaboard and must evacuate, Mercury direct will make it a little easier than if this had happened just a few days ago. (Just trying to put a positive spin on grim forecasts.) I recommend that during the Dark of the Moon period, which lasts all weekend but is especially pronounced on Sunday, you should lay in provisions for yourself even if you live nowhere near the hurricane's anticipated path. This is because the Dark of the Moon in Virgo is not the best of times to go out and socialize regardless of the weather; you may be low on energy and self-esteem, and more apt to want to engage in highly detailed work instead of play.

Update: The extreme worry and precautions being urged in my neck of the woods is a perfect read of Mercury stationing direct with Sun and Venus in Virgo. When the Moon enters Virgo on Sunday morning, I expect more of the same -- plus work to undo any actual natural damage that has occurred.

Monday, August 22, 2011

To Deceive or Be Deceived...To Daydream or to Wake Up

The Sun is about to leave Leo, but not quietly; before it enters the Mercury-ruled sign Virgo tomorrow at 7:21 a.m. EDT, it opposes Neptune in the last degree of Aquarius.

There is much debate among astrologers as to the meaning of cusp degrees; I personally feel that if a planet falls in the last degree of a sign, it certainly exhibits all the traits of that sign, period. What can and does vary is capacity of the individual who has that cuspal degree, either in the natal chart or by progression, to recognize that a cosmic page is about to be turned and "the times they are a-changin'." Some highly attuned individuals may feel unstable or insecure despite their power or accomplishments, while others feel optimistic and excited about the big change about to happen. Some are more apt to reflect upon the total sum experience of whatever zodiacal sign of the planet that falls on the cusp, while others home in on the need to clear the decks for the next sign. The fixed signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius) are the most likely to hang on by their fingernails, while the mutable signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces) are the most likely to let go.

The Sun opposing Neptune is far from an easy aspect, nor is it easily pinned down, because Neptune itself is a slippery fish. In some ways we will feel a similar vibe to yesterday's Venus-Neptune opposition; however, while the Venus-Neptune opposition (again, in the last degrees of Leo and Aquarius, respectively) may have played out as disappointment, sadness, or deception (either to yourself or your romantic partner), the Sun-Neptune opposition will have more to do with how you perceive yourself. It will be distorted, as if you are gazing into a fun-house mirror, without the fun. You may find yourself in the throes of an identity crisis. Your faults may look like virtues, and vice versa.

Neptune is the consummate dreamer and idealist of the solar system, and the Sun forming an opposition to it encourages us to engage in fantasy and escapism. This may not be so bad in the short term for down-to-earth types, but for those of us who already have our heads in the clouds, or imbibe in alcohol or hard drugs, it can be very dangerous. You are far more likely to trust the wrong people under this aspect, and yet it is equally hard to trust yourself.

This can feel like a no-win situation, but you may reap the unexpected benefit of waking up from wishful thinking, or living, that left you drifting aimlessly toward a waterfall.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Start Counting (and Telling, and Writing) How Many Ways You Love _______

Throw off the Mercury Retrograde shackles today and express yourself romantically, in as creative a way as you can. Suggestions: write a poem, a song, a love letter; present a "just because" and utterly impractical token of affection; or go out (or stay in) for a candlelit dinner featuring at least one aphrodisical dish (which need not be caviar; some gourmands swoon more over mac 'n' cheese).

If you happen not to be someone's better, worse, shorter, or taller half, this is a great day to go on a date, or at least set one up. Your confidence and appeal are probably on a justified rise, so cultivate it; this is not the time to be bashful.

Also, the timing couldn't be better for mending fences, whether of romantic, platonic, plutonic, or familial construction. Mercury is still Retrograde, so the mending will necessarily take time, not be resolved overnight -- but far better to start the healing process now than let any negativity or resentment slide any further.

For those of you seeking an astrological explanation of the above, today features a rather impressive triple conjunction of the Sun, Venus, and Mercury in Leo. We began with the Sun-Venus conjunction at 8:08 a.m. EDT; the Mercury-Venus conjunction is exact at 7:21 p.m. EDT; the Sun-Mercury conjunction, at 9:04 p.m.

Please take note that the Moon will be in Pisces until 8:01 p.m. EDT; you may feel some combination of tender, sleepy, weepy, sentimental, wistful, and/or inspired until then. When the Moon transits into fiery Aries, you may get a second wind and feel more energetic and purposeful.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jupiter Opposing Saturn: Culture Clashes and Crashes

(From the Better Late Than Never Dept.: my article published in the Summer 2011 issue of The Ingress, New York's NCGR newsletter)

The Jupiter/Saturn opposition was exact on March 28, 2011. Just a few days later I came down with the flu — it was the sickest I’ve been in ten years (during the Jupiter/Pluto opposition, I caught pneumonia). After recovering, I tried to write about this difficult aspect between Jupiter and Saturn, but kept bouncing back and forth between the personal (the effect of transiting Jupiter in “I yam what I am an’ tha’s all I yam” Aries) and the “Other” (Saturn transiting “I am yours, please be mine” Libra). How frustrating I found it to be unable to land firmly in either camp…until finally I decided to embrace, rather than keep trying to escape, this seesaw dilemma. I realized the very problem I had been wrestling with was emblematic of the opposition aspect in general — and the growing sense of indignation and cynicism I felt whenever I tuned in to current world events was a perfect read of Jupiter opposing Saturn in particular.

When two planets oppose each other, balance is challenged; another manifestation of the opposition is crisis in a relationship. In sharp contrast to the conjunction, which expresses itself most vividly through an individual’s psychology and direct actions, the opposition aspect brings relationship dynamics, with all their attendant pains and gains, to the fore. Boiling the opposition aspect down to one word, we are left with Libra. If we count six signs forward from Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, we reach Libra, which marks the Autumnal Equinox, half the zodiacal circle of 360 degrees (i.e., 180 degrees) — so it makes absolute sense for the aspect that corresponds most closely with the sign of Libra to be the opposition. They are indeed interchangeable, for Libra, just like the opposition aspect, derives its energy from relationships — not just the ones that occur between people, but ones that involve abstract ideas and attractively arranged objects. Libra, the charming diplomat of the zodiac, searches eternally for balance; its frequent flip-flops and indecisiveness can (and often does) frustrate the socks off more stable, grounded signs.

Although the waxing trine aspect, which occurs before the opposition, encourages romance as well as creativity, two planets forming this type of trine (e.g., Sun in Cancer trine the faster-moving Moon in Scorpio) are more likely to encourage self-expression than other-directed motives or actions. It is only when we reach the stage of opposition that we become truly conscious of another entity’s existing apart from ourselves — the rub, however, is that we have the unfortunate knack of projecting our own desires, fears, and needs on to others, whatever the relationship is. Even with a relatively neutral attitude, we still view others through our own personal lens. Therefore, pure objectivity is a pipedream. We believe that we are looking at someone while we are essentially gazing into a mirror. What is mine, and what is yours? When an opposition aspect is involved, answering that question is not so simple.

Situated between the quickly orbiting “personal” inner planets and the slow-moving “transpersonal” outer planets, Jupiter and Saturn mediate between the individual and the collective, and in so doing are our solar system’s “societal” and “cultural” planets. Their complementary energies are necessary for building social networks of all sorts, for all species, from penguin colonies to Facebook. And such social networking is a key component toward building entire nations. Jupiter and Saturn must coexist, for these two planets are flip sides of the same coin — or, even more evocatively, the two parts necessary to maintain breathing: inhalation and exhalation. Both Jupiter and Saturn deal with institutions and values, and assist in forming people’s identities as part of “something bigger” than themselves as individuals — a process that influences every single one of us, no matter how connected or disconnected each of us is from our respective cultures and societies.

Jupiter, which rules the Fire sign Sagittarius, encompasses higher education, long-distance travel and the “exotic,” the law, in-laws, religion, gambling, philosophy, ideology, excess, and life’s want-to-dos. Saturn, ruler of the Earth sign Capricorn (the sign that, not coincidentally, immediately follows Sagittarius), manifests as “the establishment” or Old Guard, career, public achievement, authority, structure, foundation, empires, corporations, deprivation, and the have-to-dos of life. Jupiter is expansion; Saturn, contraction. Without frostbitten Father Saturn, societal relations — indeed, the entire world — would be akin to Wonderland: utterly lacking in logic, proportion, gravity, time. To continue with literary analogies, without avuncular Uncle Jupiter, life would resemble 1984: heavily constricted and restricted, with zero privacy and wholesale censorship; each person’s individuality would be recognized only via custom-tailored methods of torture and brainwashing to keep rebel transgressors in line. (It is interesting to consider that the sign that follows Capricorn is Aquarius — a sign well known for its rebelliousness and unconventionality.)

Of course, some societies and nations are more Jupiterian or Saturnian than others. It is also true that a dominating society can usher the nation it calls home through a Jupiter-oriented phase (e.g., the United States in the 1960s and ’70s), then pull a 180 and take the same nation through a Saturn-oriented cycle (e.g., most of the world in the 1930s). But no matter what the era, whenever one culture or institution claims superiority over another and communicates in no uncertain terms (via speeches, editorials, laws, and/or warfare) to the other side how it should behave, whether the conflict stems from social, political, economic, or religious differences, trouble pretty much always ensues, and during a Jupiter-Saturn opposition, that trouble is doubled.

Jupiter-Saturn aspects are far from uncommon, but conjunctions and oppositions between the two planets occur only every nineteen to twenty years (approximately one cycle of the Nodes of the Moon — interestingly, the North Node or “dragon’s head” is associated with Jupiter, while the South Node or “dragon's tail relates to Saturn.) Because trine and sextile aspects indicate smooth sailing, while squares indicate inner conflict, we can therefore expect that on a societal level, the most powerful and strongly felt Jupiter-Saturn aspects are the conjunction and the opposition. The conjunction seems to give birth to a movement or event/s that builds during the Jupiter-Saturn waxing square and either explodes or implodes during the opposition, approximately one decade after the conjunction. Consider relatively recent Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions: 1940 (World War Two), 1960 (which ushered in the famous/infamous “sixties” throughout much of the world), 1980 (resurgent conservatism acting as the final nail in the coffin of said “sixties”), and 2000.

On a personal note, my Saturn Return occurred in May 2000, just a few weeks before the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction. At that time I was living in Manhattan and telecommuting (Uranus) as an independent contractor (Uranus again) for a company putting together an online (Uranus again), business-oriented (Saturn) dictionary (Jupiter). It was only a part-time job, but my parents (Saturn) were my landlords; I paid them what I could on the monthly maintenance, even though none of us was thrilled that it was peanuts (indeed, two Mays later this arrangement came to an abrupt end). My first novel (Jupiter) was in the galleys stage at a print-on-demand publishing house, and Dell Horoscope had bought two of my astrology articles (Uranus), so I felt some sense of achievement (Saturn). I celebrated my Saturn Return by signing up for yoga classes; this turned out to be a wise decision, for I still practice yoga, and have more flexibility and balance, both inner and outer, than I did in my twenties.

In May 2000, much of the world was still blissfully pre-9/11 in its consciousness. Yet that bliss, particularly in the United States, was only possible via willful ignorance (one of the negative traits of Taurus). At the forefront of current events was the dot-com bust, an all-too-apropos manifestation of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Taurus (money) squaring Uranus in its ruling sign of technologically driven Aquarius (a placement that had triggered the dot-com bubble back in the mid-1990s). I myself was let go without warning from my dot-commish job in late 2000, when the R&D people decided the company had no more money to put into the online dictionary. Unfortunately, U.S. society at large, instead of learning from this bust — much less recalling the get-rich-quick speculations of the Roaring Twenties, which led to a calamitous stock market crash and the Great Depression—invested in yet another bubble, housing, that peaked during the Jupiter-Saturn square (with Jupiter in Scorpio, i.e., other people’s money, squaring Saturn in prideful, ostentatious Leo) and burst in 2008.

Another embodiment of the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in the money sign Taurus was the birth of the Euro, a currency intended to unify the Continent — but this has not turned out to be the case. A recent headline in Economics NewsPaper.com proclaimed “Controversy over Europe: The Euro Divides the FDP.” As for the value of higher education (Jupiter), many college graduates of the past decade can look forward to paying off their student loans for the rest of their lives while working jobs that lack benefits and do not require college degrees — that is, if they are fortunate enough to be hired.

Along with willful ignorance, rampant consumerism and greed are negative hallmarks of Taurus, and during the decade that followed the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Taurus, the gap between the haves and the have-nots in the United States grew alarmingly wide, reaching in 2007 the same proportions as 1928 (talk about history repeating itself). Although one hedge-fund hotshot was just convicted for insider trading, Wall Street “banksters” have gone unpunished while Main Streeters are informed that the recession is over — a “jobless recovery,” thanks to automation, offshore outsourcing, and hire freezes — but if anyone happens to still be unemployed at this point, it is their own lazy fault. Corporations (Saturn) have officially been recognized by the Supreme Court (Jupiter) as having individual rights at the same time that they are recognized as “too big to fail” and given bailouts and tax breaks, while individuals (except for the super-rich ones) have to ante up. Meanwhile, America’s surplus of 2000 has turned into a deficit so extreme that we have officially reached the debt ceiling. There is now a heated debate on whether or not to raise it.

The populace is starting to notice the power corporate interests have over (and in) politics and the media, and exactly how much of the federal budget goes to the military and prisons; however, unlike Egypt, there has been no revolution in America — just isolated protests while the rest of us sit glued to American Idol or Who Wants to Marry an Immoral but Incredibly Hot Bazillionaire?, posts another Facebook status update, or shrugs and says and as long as we have ours, we shouldn’t rock the boat.

In 2000 Osama Bin Laden’s militant Islamic global network al-Qaeda was growing stronger, yet its founder and leader remained free to plan and carry out the atrocities of 9/11 despite the opportunity to arrest him, despite intelligence warnings of imminent terrorist attack in the summer of 2001. This was yet another example of the slipshod laziness that Taurus can succumb to — but it was also highly calculated greed involving global assets. The killing of Osama bin Laden occurred on the heels of the Jupiter-Saturn opposition, but global terrorism itself is far from dead. Unsurprisingly, almost immediately following Bin Laden’s death and quick burial at sea, threats of retribution were issued. Bin Laden’s own son issued a statement that the United States violated international law in failing to capture his father alive to stand trial.

Writer and philosopher George Santayana (who was, fittingly, a Sagittarius), famously observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If we are ever to learn from Jupiter-Saturn cycles and make real societal progress, we must heed those words and stop treating culture, institutions, and the economy like the weather — they are human constructs. Although come to think of it, humans managed to create global warming, so we should start taking responsibility for the weather as well.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Reflections on Two Progressions That Feel More Like Regressions

As you may have noticed, July passed with just one Pluto Rising Astrology blog post. I never followed up on more information about the United States' Solar Return (aka the Fourth of July), and my own Solar Return came and went with nary an astrological word. To celebrate, I spent not quite a week revisiting the same shore with my sweetie as last summer. Then it was back to real life. And then, suddenly, it was time to flip the calendar to August.

Mercury stationing Retrograde has had one positive effect on my psyche already: time is starting to slow down, and I feel ready to start going back over everything that went down during the past month. I do not wish to spill all my innermost feelings on this virtual platform; enough to state that despite being very much aware of all my blessings (truly, I feel so lucky in so many ways), with my progressed Moon at 28 degrees of Taurus about to oppose my natal Neptune, I feel tired, sad, sluggish, disenchanted, and a little lost. Add to this challenging aspect my progressed Sun newly entered Virgo, and I am hardly a load of laughs. One solace of astrology is knowing that even the most awful of progressions (and transits) will pass, yet it's hardly a comfort today, my day off from my day job, that I lack the energy to do my share of the housework or get any creative work done. All I really want to do is sleep...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How's This for Lousy (or Karmic) Timing?

Mercury turned Retrograde five minutes (as in 1/12 of one degree, not the kind of minutes you find on a clock) short of my Venus. Blah! I'm hoping that the Sun-Mercury-Venus conjunction on the 16th that I wrote about yesterday will somewhat make up for that near miss.

After spending the past 30 years in Leo, my Sun progressed into Virgo in mid-June, so I do have Virgo issues (e.g., work, health) even more on my mind (and body) than usual. I just wish that Mercury had kissed my Venus instead of teasing it before pulling a 180...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Thoughts on Mercury Turning Retrograde

Much has been written elsewhere, in scores of astrology books, articles, and blogs, about the negative effects of Mercury Retrograde. Even people who are not into astrology can get a laugh from exclaiming that "Mercury must be in retrograde" in response to something going seriously awry.

Well, I am not here to be the astrological version of Pollyanna; Mercury's Retrograde periods can, and often do, suck. Communication delayed or misunderstood? Check. Computer or mode of transportation broke down? Check. It took you five hours to get somewhere that normally takes half that time? Check. Having second, third, and fourth thoughts? I think you get the picture.

Mercury turns Retrograde tonight at 11:50 p.m. EDT, and will stay Retrograde till the 26th. Next week Mercury will oppose Neptune (which itself is Retrograde at 0 Pisces, but will be back in Aquarius in time for the opposition). Confusion, delusion, or disillusion may reign. You may remember to remove your rose-colored glasses, but not remember to open your eyes, 'cause dang, that Sun in Leo is too strong to stare at directly. You may be tempted to binge on food, alcohol, or other substances without considering your long-term health, or even how you will feel the next day. Even if you are a good boy or girl and take care of your physical body, ailments such as insomnia, poor digestion, foot, circulation, heart, or back problems may pop up anyway, and take much longer than normal to go away.

One inarguably positive effect of Mercury's Retrograde period is reflection. If you are introspective as a rule, Mercury Retrograde will not pull you out of your comfort zone, but encourage you to mull things over. However, if you tend to leap before you look, or just run off at the mouth without an inner editor, you will definitely feel more restricted...and as you champ at the bit, keep in mind that this may be to your (and others') benefit. Sometimes it really is best to do nothing.

Around the 16th, with Mercury conjunct Venus and the Sun in Leo, you may find the opportunity to mend fences with a loved one in a romantic, dramatic manner. Creativity will also be very high, and you may also be able to successfully revive, or revise, a creative project that had stalled.

That said, break a leg...but not really.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, USA: Reflections on Its Sagittarius Ascendant

"America: love it or leave it." This blunt, black-and-white sentence is an eerily apt summation of the USA's natal chart. Given that there has been much debate in astrological circles regarding the most correct and accurate chart to use, I put forth the proposition that only a nation with Sagittarius Rising would leave the above sentence as its calling card...plus, of course, its currency, which states "In God We Trust." Although this motto was only added to US currency during the Civil War, once again, only a nation with Sagittarius Rising would so overtly endorse this viewpoint.

You may well be asking why specifically Sagittarius on the Ascendant, as opposed to the luminaries (i.e., Sun and Moon) or other planets in this sign, would result in the USA's having a blunt, religious persona. This is because the Rising Sign is the face, the front door, the window dressing, the first impression a native imparts, whether the native is an individual, a business, an event, or a nation. The Ascendant does not necessarily show what lies at the native's heart: first impressions often can be misleading (e.g., we all know people who come across as cold and standoffish, yet have vulnerable, tender souls).

Certainly, the USA has shown the world both the positive and negative traits of its Sagittarian face ever since its birth on July 4, 1776. The freewheeling, pioneering adventurer; the tendency toward excess (in eating, drinking, drugging, gambling, spending, or sexing, depending on the era) combined with an equally extreme self-righteous, moralistic attitude, regardless of political, religious, or philosophical affilation (i.e., "My way or the highway.")

The mutability of the sign of Sagittarius makes possible to give the paradoxical message that you are welcome to come from anyplace in the world to join America's gigantic melting pot, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and succeed on your own highly individualized terms...but only if you come during a time of economic expansion and laid-back goodwill that America periodically cycles through. (Not now, in other words.)

With Sagittarius Rising, the ruler of USA's chart is Jupiter, which is placed in Cancer and conjunct Venus in the 7th House of partnerships. Thus the importance of home, mother, apple pie, and marriage, along with emotional patriotism (Cancer as a sign is extremely loyal and can only be reached via emotional appeals, not logic).

If there is still any doubt that the USA has 13 degrees of Sagittarius Rising, think back to August 2001, when the the Saturn-Pluto opposition fell exactly across the Ascendant and Descendant...setting the stage for 9/11.

Tune in very soon for an extended forecast for Amerca's Solar Return and important progressions for the upcoming year!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Oy! Get Ready for the Second Solar Eclipse in a Row!

Yes, dear readers, we are about to experience another Solar Eclipse...however, the one that happens tomorrow, July 1 (exact 4:54 a.m. EDT, but only visible if you are a seaworthy penguin in Antarctica), will be quite different in tone and flavor from the Solar Eclipse of June 1.

The Solar Eclipse in Gemini stressed communication, curiosity, and learning; it formed a trine Saturn in Libra, which gave some much-needed stability and desire to work on relationships to flighty Gemini. The Solar Eclipse in Cancer, on the other hand, will encourage people to concentrate on such un-Gemini things as family, home, nurturing, intuition, and emotionality. The square to Saturn, exact on Saturday, may indicate a conflict between relatives and marriage, or may manifest as indecisiveness or moodiness about family or a relationship.

That this eclipse occurs on Canada Day should indicate a new cycle beginning for this North American nation, one that concentrates on the above-mentioned Cancerian things. Southern neighbor the United States, on the other hand, will experience its birthday on the Fourth of July with the Moon in Leo and Virgo. At least on the East Coast, I predict this will take the form of of sunning, swimming, relaxing, and romancing during the daytime (when the Moon is still in Leo and the love planet Venus trines dreamy Neptune), followed by people adopting a more down-to-earth, practical, "clean-up time" attitude as the Moon enters Virgo at 9:15 p.m. EDT. (Certainly, many individuals will be preparing themselves to go back to work the following day.)

May the Solar Eclipse in Cancer encourage you, regardless of where you live, to reflect upon your home, family, feelings, and act upon the desire to take care of others, especially those individuals who are the family you have made for yourself.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Notes on Thumbing My Nose at the Sun-Pluto Oppostion

The Sun-Uranus square this past Sunday morning brought me a a head cold (which was gone by Monday morning) and a huge case of stage fright, the result of my having raised the performance bar via memorization of four poems. Odd that since I perform regularly and have strongly aspected Mercury, Saturn, and Moon in my natal chart, I had never before recited my poetry in front of an audience "by heart." Anyhow, I was ready, although I was three-quarters convinced that I was going to choke.

At around 5 p.m. on Monday, still at work but beginning to wind down and plan to apply some sultry eye makeup in the office restroom, I got a rather distressing phone call from the videograper whom I'd booked to capture my virgin "by heart" featured performance: "I'm here early, T.C., but you should know that the place is locked, no sign of life inside, no one is responding to my knocks."

The venue (whose name I will not mention here because bad press is better than no press), a cafe in the EV/Noho that was like a time capsule of late '60s memorabilia, had been undergoing renovations this month, but I had been assured by the reading series' curators that we would still have use of the space -- worst-case scenario being the basement instead of the main room. Then I heard the renovations were supposed to be complete by the 24th.

Renovation is ruled both by Uranus and Pluto, and this renovation in particular sounded more Plutonian: excavation instead of knocking down walls and suchlike. Neither of the curators who had my phone number had called that day to inform me the show had been canceled, and there were no show's-off emails, either. I assured the videographer that most likely, someone would show up by 6 p.m., as the show was to start at 6:30.

My stage fright morphed into anger when I saw for myself that as of 6 p.m., the venue was still locked. The reading series' curators were sitting outside along with some other early birds for the evening. Phone calls were made. Messages were left. Knocks on the door brought forth no answer. In addition to excavation, Pluto rules locks, lockouts, and subterfuge, and with the opposition from the Sun, there was obviously gross miscommunication.

However, despite the Sun-Pluto opposition (with the Sun in my sign), the Moon in Taurus, approaching a trine to my natal Pluto and Ascendant in Virgo and a conjunction to my progressed Moon, salvaged the evening. The videographer had every right to take off, but he waited long enough for the tide to turn, which happened around 6:45. A woman living upstairs eventually let us in, after receiving a phone call from someone associated with the venue, and after one of the curators assumed liability in case anyone got electrocuted or died of cat-piss inhalation.

I learned that night that this show was number 13 in the series, which had begun on a monthly basis just over a year ago. Not surprisingly, 13 is a Pluto number (anyone who doubts that can check out the 13th card in the tarot's major arcana: Death). Fortunately, 13 is my lucky number (as I was born on the 13th).

Everyone performed amazingly well given the weird circumstances, plus the fact that turnout was relatively low (especially compared to last month's show). My darling read a new poem that was both sweet and sexy. And not only did I not choke during my performance, it may have been my best one so far. Because there were fewer people in attendance, and fewer open-mikers, I went on pretty much on schedule. Two of my awesome girl friends, who rarely if ever miss a show I am featured in, showed up and we all went out afterward for a delicious dinner.

So take that, Sun-Pluto opposition! Nyah, nyah, nyah!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

This Summer Solstice, Dare to Dream...

...okay, so I'm a day late with this advice, but the Sun-Neptune trine is still in effect, so keep on daring to dream. This is a particularly significant aspect, as it marks the first time the Sun trines Neptune in a water sign since late 1970. Neptune is the ruler of Pisces, emphasizing the imagination and compassion in addition to fantasy, as well as selfless sacrifice (especially if it pertains to the home and family -- Sun in Cancer concerns).

You may well have been challenged by the Mars-Neptune trine (exact today at 2:46 a.m. EDT), which may have taken the form of an argument with a sibling or neighbor. Mars in airy Gemini can be quite argumentative, wanting to take the wind out of Neptune in Pisces' sail. Other possible manifestations of this square: health trouble (with the arms, hands, feet, or lungs), nightmares, and simply feeling out of sorts in your local environment. However, the worst of the square should have been ameliorated by the Sun-Neptune trine.

Tonight (at least on the East Coast), with the Moon in late Pisces, would be a great night to watch a movie, attend a concert, work on a creative project, take a swim or a long bath...or get to sleep early in order to face the The Last Quarter Moon in Aries (exact 7:48 a.m. EDT) fresh.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lunar Eclipse: Get Ready for the Most Restless Full Moon of 2011!

As we wend our way through the final week of spring, hold on to your hats -- this is going to be the most restless Full Moon of the year, as it falls in the zodiac's most restless signs (Sun in Gemini, Moon in Sagittarius) and also occurs on a Lunar Eclipse. The Full Moon / Lunar Eclipse is exact tomorrow (Wed. 6/15) at 4:14 p.m. EDT, but the energy has been building ever since late last night. I experienced typical Full Moon insomnia when I should've been in the Land of Nod, and have also been unusually productive in terms of writing (an activity I unfortunately cannot devote too much time to on weekdays).

This is a make-or-break point in the lunar cycle: look back to two weeks ago, when we had the Solar Eclipse / New Moon in Gemini. Have you been busy building or repairing lines of communication with those people who are important in your everyday world? If you can honestly say yes, then you will begin reaping the benefits during this Full Moon / Lunar Eclipse. If you have been "too busy" or out to lunch, then tomorrow may force the issue in a most unsubtle way.

This lunation encourages reading, writing, learning, teaching, lecturing, traveling, multitasking, and athletics requiring agility and strength. It does not lend itself to relaxation, meditation, empathy (indeed, you may have a hard time understanding and coping with your own feelings, let alone the emotional states of others), or agreeing to form any commitments that last longer than a day or two.

If you are familiar with your own natal chart, check which of your houses are involved in this Full Moon / Lunar Eclipse and you can see which areas of your life will be particularly affected, with the Gemini-Sagittarius overlay as explained above.

To give one example, this lunation falls across an angle in my chart -- exactly conjunct my Midheaven and IC (i.e., 10th-house cusp and 4th-house cusp). Therefore, I can expect to deal both with home issues (with the Moon placed at the 4th) and my public persona and career (with the Sun at the 10th). I am already feeling the effects of the Sun approaching my Midheaven, as I have been more visible at work this week via extra hours, and have also been preparing to give a featured reading performance (my first since last November). I do hope that once the Moon enters my
4th house, I will literally be able to spend more time at home!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Welcome Jupiter in Taurus

Jupiter is the planet of philosophy and values; Taurus is our zodiac's first earth sign and is ruled by the beauty-and-pleasure-seeking planet Venus. As Jupiter eases its big toe into Taurus, I thought it apropos to pose a set of related questions to my readers (and to myself!). Feel free to mull these questions over; there are no right or wrong answers, and Taurus is about ruminating, not rushing (that would be Aries's department). Plus, by the time Jupiter leaves the sign of the bull in June 2012, you may find yourself revising some of your responses.


What is your definition of beauty?

What is your attitude toward money?

Are you possessive about your possessions? Do you ever treat your friends and loved ones as possessions?

Which do you tend to value more: "things" or experiences?

Are you comfortable living in the material world?

Are you at ease living in your physical body?

How do you feel about art, and how does art feel about you?

How important to you are the senses of taste, smell, and touch?

What is your attitude toward food?

What is the difference between sensuality and sex?

Do you believe you can love someone if you do not love yourself?

Can you honestly say with a straight face that you love yourself?

What is the difference between stubbornness and persistence?

What are the parameters of your comfort zone, and do you feel comfortable pushing your envelope and departing from that zone?

Do you feel that slow and steady wins the race?

What race in particular are you running in (or not)?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Solar Eclipse in Gemini: Communication Rebirth

The Solar Eclipse in Gemini just occurred (5:03 p.m. EDT), marking a new lunar cycle and infusing it with additional power via the eclipse. We are now in late spring (at least in the Northern Hemisphere); as the days continue to grow warmer and longer, the desire to get out and socialize is generally strong.

Gemini manifests as mingling, communicating, siblings, neighbors, and the local environment. Tomorrow Mercury, Gemini's ruling planet, enters Gemini, strengthening the effect of the desire to explore and talk, talk, and talk some more.

Try taking a different route to work or play; Gemini abhors routine, and is always on the lookout to find and learn about something new (even if it is old hat to someone else).

Gemini rules the hands, so anything hands-on is especially favored. Treat yourself to a massage or manicure, and do not be surprised if you suddenly feel the urge to load your fingers with rings.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Are You Ready for the Rapture?

Those who believe that the world will end tomorrow, on May 21, 2011, will be sorely disappointed.

Not only does this wisdom come from some Christian-come-lately dude with a funny name as opposed to the Bible (for nowhere in the scriptures can one learn exactly what day Jesus will drop by Earth and beam the faithful up to heaven while the rest of humanity and life forms all perish in various ghastly plagues). And not only have scores of other end-of-the-world predictions failed to come to pass. Whatever your religious beliefs happen to be, the world will certainly keep on keeping on with such lovely planetary aspects as a Venus-Pluto trine (indicative of the transforming power of love and sex -- rapture of a life-affirming kind). Here in New York City, and I'd imagine in other cities, there are many underground "Rapture" parties planned for tomorrow night, which also goes well with the Sun-Moon trine from communicative, social-butterfly Gemini to group-oriented Aquarius.

We will have a Sun-Neptune square in the wee hours of the 22nd (3:32 a.m. EDT) so please take responsibility for your waking dreams and fantasies, as well as any mind-altering substances you may be partaking of on Saturday night.

The Sun-Neptune square could also indicate delusions and illusions forced into consciousness, but since doomsday types never seem too thrown by their constant miscalculations and instead blithely mark another end-of-the-world date on their calendars, I imagine it will only trigger awareness in those individuals who are ready to experience a rude awakening from various pipedreams.

Tune in for a similar eye-opener regarding the true meaning of the year 2012.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Moon in Sagittarius Update

Yours truly will have her second article published in the next issue of Ingress, NCGR's quarterly newsletter, which will be mailed out to NCGR subscribers in NYC on June 21.

But faithful readers of my site will be able to read this piece, which gets to the bottom of the recent Jupiter-Saturn opposition, well before the Summer Solstice! Stay tuned...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Full Moon in Scorpio: Buddha Moon

If you're not starting to feel Full Moon fever, I suggest you check your pulse.

The Full Moon in Scorpio, exact tomorrow, May 17 at 7:09 a.m. EDT, is perhaps the most powerful Full Moon of the zodiac. Not coincidentally, it is also Buddha's Sun/Moon combination. (Once, when I was playing around on OKCupid, I took a test called "Which Religious Founder Are You?" Apparently I had the most in common with Buddha. My reaction? "Cool beans!") Indeed, Buddha is a perfect example of a TET (totally evolved Taurus). He was born into wealth and creature comforts (Taurus), yet once he woke up and realized how sheltered and insular his life was, he left his father's house and confronted such harsh realities as poverty and such demons as greed, power-tripping, and lust. Buddha's Moon in Scorpio gave him the necessary "ins" of intuition, intensity, and instinct to not only survive, but transform and thrive, and thus become immortal (a Scorpio Moon person's most innermost desire).

Today and tomorrow are great days to do a little spring cleaning. Ace the broken tennis racquet, your rubber ducky from childhood that is blue with mold, and your Great Aunt Matilda's moth-eaten sweater set. You can still keep memories if you get rid of mementos.

This is also an auspicious time to reconnect with your sexuality and sensuality, to give yourself pleasure, and ideally share your ability to give pleasure with someone who is truly deserving of it. "Soul sex" is to "casual sex" as champagne is to flat ginger ale, as a dark chocolate truffle is to a stale Hershey's candy bar. Forgo your diet for a few days and go Tom Jones, with the understanding that you will work off the extra calories in the most achingly satisfying of ways.


Friday, April 8, 2011

TMRM: Typical Mercury Retrograde Manifestations

1. The massive earthquake aftershock in Japan: total TMRM.

2. The imminent government shutdown via congressional gridlock over the annual budget, which is already halfway through: also TMRM.

In the first case, this Mercury Retrograde action falls under the category of "natural disaster." In the second case, it is a matter of choice -- although many Left-leaning individuals would consider the RepubliCons and Tea Partiers also to fall under the category of natural disaster. Yet it must also be said that the Democrats do not deserve a medal for refusing (at least as of this posting) to give in to the Far Right's two-pronged agenda of wanting to take away -- on a worldwide level-- women's right to control their own bodies, as well as aiming to evade environmental responsibility. The Dems need to grow a pair (of lungs) and seize this opportunity to point out to the populace now, not in 2012, that the budget standstill has nothing to do with jobs (the number-one concern of most people) and everything to do with social ideology (and extortion).

My feeling is that our planet is growing increasingly upset -- Neptune in Pisces may literally unleash a vail of tears in the form of floods.

And more and more people in the US are growing upset that our so-called democracy, with a government supposedly by and for the people, is transforming into a plutocracy. But will there be enough impetus to vote, protest, march, revolt, strike, whatever it takes to bring about real change, or at least a real option that is not cloaked in spin, hype, and lies? The Uranus/Pluto square, aka 2012, may well see such extreme action and reaction. Right now, with Mercury Retrograde, people are more likely to internalize growing resentment.

And I am sorry to say it, but if the current motto of the US does not change -- which is, "I've got mine [however much or little that may be], so screw you," -- when 2012 rolls around, no one save the "lunatic fringe" will budge from their place in front of their home-entertainment system. In other words, it is our job to educate ourselves and foment change if we are dissatisfied, not just bitch about the do-nothings and know-nothings in DC.

To quote John Lennon, "Strange days, indeed."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Welcome Neptune in Pisces

For the first time since the mid-nineteenth century, Neptune is back in its ruling sign of Pisces. How apropos that Neptune was officially discovered as it transited Pisces back in 1846! And we can thank Uranus, the planet of genius and technology, for that discovery -- or rather, we can thank the two astronomers who mathematically proved that it was the presence of another, as-yet-unseen planet that caused Uranus's orbital irregularities.

Neptune, of course, existed long before its first sighting -- but once this mysterious outer planet entered the public consciousness, many Neptunian/Piscean things blossomed or gained in popularity, including photography, opiates and alcohol, impressionist art...and, in the United States, an increasingly divisive view toward slavery (Dred Scott was 1857) that would lead to the Union's dissolving (Neptune) and the bloodiest, darkest chapter of U.S. history: the Civil War.

We will only get our feet wet, so to speak, with Neptune once again in Pisces before it retrogrades back into Aquarius in early August, but the next four months may bring unexpected creative inspiration and an increase in compassion -- specifically, the desire for universal freedom, not just one's own. This does not mean we will all become artists and freedom-fighters (or flood-fighters!), but if either urge is already inside you, Neptune will act as its midwife. And the birth may very well be a long, bloody labor of love. For Neptune is also about universal love, and the pain an individual will endure, even welcome, for the sake of that giving life and expression to that love.


PS: Literally as soon as Mercury turned Retrograde last Wednesday, I came down with the flu. I am beginning to improve enough to sit at my desk and post this blog, but going into the office to proofread ad copy is out of the question, even though I am losing money as a no-benefits part-timer. I haven't been this sick since I was a child -- my fever hit 103 before finally starting to moderate, but I am still experiencing localized overnight flooding (i.e., the right-hand side of the bed). I really should've gotten a flu shot last fall, since I knew that Neptune would enter my 6th House (at 29'09" Aquarius) in March, while it was still flu season. Very. Big. Mistake on my part. Please take this PS as a precautionary tale, and ponder this verse I just created: If ye know your own chart well / Ignore astrology at your own peril.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Notes on Mercury Turning Retrograde

Mercury turns retrograde four times a year, for a grand total of about twelve weeks spent in retrograde. Much is made of these times even by those who otherwise have no knowledge of or interest in astrology. The fuss is not for nothing; it is indeed advisable not to purchase a car (or any mode of transportation requiring an engine), a computer (or anything involving electronics), or clothing when Mercury is retrograde. It is par for the course that communications of all sorts will go awry, and that delays are common -- hence the advisory against travel.

However, there are benefits to Mercury retrograde. From 4:48 p.m. EDT today until April 23, we will all receive a much-needed opportunity to reflect upon, ponder, process, and potentially resolve what has been going down (i.e., a lot) in the world since Mercury entered Aries on March 9. The Jupiter/Saturn opposition, exact two days ago, is an aspect of societal distress, rebellion vs. rigidity, and overall lack of planetary balance. This very difficult opposition will be brought into greater focus as Mercury retrogrades back over Jupiter, and with any luck (Jupiter), a greater understanding (Mercury) of its various manifestations may be felt by such mercurial types as writers and orators. Even for others, a burned-out lightbulb may flicker on (Mercury in Aries) around April 12.

Particularly on days like this one, when Mercury is stationary retrograde, take a moment to pause on whatever path you are on, take a deep breath, and question what you truly think...about everything. And particularly since Mercury retrogrades in Aries, rise to the challenge of truly thinking for yourself.

For inspiration, go online and check out the close-up photos of Mercury, "coincidentally" made available today.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pluto Profile #1: Liz Taylor, Lunar Scorpion

For quite a while I have been thinking of creating a regular feature within this blog, to be called "Pluto Profiles," which would explore the charts of various Biggies (and Not-So-Biggies) who would qualify in any astrologer's book as Plutonian -- someone born with a strongly aspected Pluto and/or Scorpio placements. The passing of Elizabeth Taylor two days ago has finally motivated me to get said feature off the ground and into cyberspace.

Elizabeth Taylor was, in many ways, a classic Piscean; she was born with a stellim (i.e., three or more planets conjunct) that included the Sun in the first decanate of Pisces (which adds an additional Pisces vibe), and the stellium opposed its despositor, Neptune. Pisces/Neptune rules film, and Taylor began appearing movies at an early age.

Her breakthrough role as Velvet Brown in National Velvet was made possible by the fact that she started horseback riding at age three, which is less than shocking when you consider that she was born with Sagittarius (which rules horses) on the Ascendant (which rules persona, the physical body, and the individual's temperament). Taylor's ruling planet was therefore Jupiter, placed in the sign Leo and trine that Asc. I believe it was this trine, in these particular signs, that stamped her in a highly visible manner: her exotic violet eyes. (Purple is a color associated with the sign Sagittarius and its ruling planet, Jupiter.) The eyes are ruled by the sign Aries, and Taylor was born with an exact Venus/Uranus conjunction in Aries -- this conjunction completed a grand trine in the Fire element.

Taylor certainly embodied many Jupiter in Leo characteristics: glamour, wealth, fame, a love of opulence (e.g., her jewelry collection), and a regal vibe. Even onscreen, she was cast as royalty in Cleopatra. "I've been lucky all my life," Taylor said in an interview. "But I've paid for that luck with disasters...I'm like a living example of what people can go through and survive...I'm not like anyone. I'm me." Jupiter is known as the "lucky" planet, and had it only trined Taylor's Asc. and Venus/Uranus conjunction, she may very well have sailed through life unscathed (although with these aspects, she probably still would have married a nearly unbelievable number of times). However, Jupiter's square to her Scorpio Moon ensured that not only would this movie star receive an abundance of good luck, but also go through near-death experiences that might've put out the flame of a non-Plutonian, including an emergency tracheotomy and brain surgery. Her Moon/Jupiter square in fixed signs also contributed toward her addictive nature as much as her Pisces placements did. She also had to deal with the early loss of a spouse (Jupiter is placed in the Pluto-ruled 8th House of death and partner's resources.)

Taylor's Scorpio Moon was strengthened by its trine to Pluto (which, like Jupiter, fell in her 8th House), and helped her pull through serious illness and other setbacks. Although Taylor's Fire placements may have led her to crave the spotlight, her Scorpio Moon must have had to psych itself out big-time in order to pass through the media's ring of fire. Because her Moon fell in the 11th House of friends, groups, and ideals, she surely could not keep her most private self (as symbolized by the Moon) private, as she might have been able to do had it fallen in her 12th or 4th House. And she became a scandal (a Scorpio/Pluto specialty) many times over.

How apropos that when Pluto transited Scorpio (1984-95), Taylor became an outspoken advocate (11th House) for AIDS awareness (this illness is a frighteningly perfect manifestation of Pluto in Scorpio). She also developed a perfume with the perfectly Plutonian name of Poison and became friends with a highly controversial person: Michael Jackson.

Elizabeth Taylor died of congestive heart failure (Moon in Scorpio square Jupiter in Leo) with the transiting Moon in Scorpio. Although 79 is no longer considered an advanced age to die, especially for women, Taylor's seven decades spent in the public eye, coupled with seven men, may well have made her feel at least a century old. She may very well be remembered as a "celebrity," as opposed to a movie star, by younger generations who did not watch her grow up, and grow older, on the silver screen. Yet as an intriguing blend of Water and Fire, it is safe to state that very few people actually knew this woman. If you happen to be a Lunar Scorpion, or have one in your orbit, you will know exactly what I mean.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Perfectionism and Self-Loathing of the Lunar Scorpion

Astrology famously has it that Virgo is the ultimate perfectionist of the zodiac, but Scorpio can't be too far behind -- this sign is "all or nothing" in its approach to everything in life, and has serious control issues (i.e., has to have it at all costs).

The Moon placed in Scorpio indicates all of the above, plus extreme emotional sensitivity and volatility added to the brew. Combine a Scorpio Moon with important placements in Virgo, and any venture that falls short of what the Lunar Scorpion perceives to be perfect will unleash a torrent of blame and self-loathing.

Specifically, I gave a mediocre poetry performance last night, with the Moon in early Scorpio. At first, I blamed everything that was out of my control: a microphone that barely worked, an introduction that did not use my preferred "T.C." moniker because my sweetie, having arrived at the venue first, signed me up and he forgot about the nom de plume thing, and the malevolent guy behind the cafe counter (possibly the owner of the venue) put me on guard straightaway; he'd hissed unpleasantries at me for not immediately forking over the $2 donation while I was scribbling some last-minute changes to my brand-new poem before the show began. (This is the same charmer, by the way, who snarled at me for accidentally bumping into him en route to the restroom back in January, so I felt within my rights to prioritize poetry revising over donation giving.)

But the truth was that part of the mediocrity was because of things that were within my control. I barely practiced one of the two poems I performed, and the other one was fresh out of the oven of my brainpan; the Sun/Uranus conjunction yesterday morning had inspired me to breathe new life into a poem I'd abandoned years ago. It is very unlike me to come to a reading so ill-prepared, but just as the Sun/Uranus conjunction brings creative inspiration, it also brings carelessness and cockiness. In the past year, most of my performances, both featured and open-mic, were strong; I counted on the same magic happening without putting in the necessary work.

Playing the blame game (both outer and inner) ensured that I would be tossing and turning all night, and wide awake at 4:30 a.m., possibly the worst of the wee hours.

Now I feel sorry that I wasted all that energy bitching and moaning and lashing out instead of doing something either more constructive or more fun on a Scorpio Moon. Oh well, there's always tonight...at the very least, I think I will be able to sleep.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Post-Full Moon Reflections

As a Plutonian with Pluto exactly squaring my Midheaven and a 10th House Sun, I have a love/hate relationship with authority and officialdom.

I want to Be Somebody in capital letters -- actually, make that Somebodies, as I wear more than one hat careerwise (as one might expect from a Gemini Midheaven). Yet all the self-promoting I must do in order to ascend a rung or two higher on that never-ending (for a 10th House Sun, anyway) ladder of Something in capital letters, as I lack an agent or pilot fish of any kind to do it for me, gives me a serious stomachache -- even as my heavily aspected Mercury (widely conjunct Sun and tightly conjunct Mars in Cancer, square Jupiter in Libra, and exactly trine Neptune in Scorpio), plus an ultrasociable 1st House Uranus in Libra, readily engage in this song-and-dance.

Basically, I'm an introvert masking as an extrovert (except in the workplace; I do not blast Pandora toward the end of the day or hang out in the kitchen area unless I'm boiling water for my late-afternoon cup of tea). It does not trouble me in the slightest to enter a room full of strangers, whether it's a party or a meeting or some combination of the two (as it was at last night's NCGR panel discussion), because I survived middle school and sleepover camp in the time before adults began to at least pretend to care about the harm that bullying can do to young'uns. Nor does it bother me to be the Stranger in the Midst because I am fully aware that at social functions, most people put on their public persona -- their joker mask, their king-of-the-hill zoot suit, their small-talk tutu -- and that meeting people under such circumstances is not the same as really knowing them (though it's a perfectly valid point from which to begin plumbing their depths).

That said, I was aware yesterday that on the approaching Full Moon across my Ascendant/Descendant, it was likely that I was going to be highly visible, even with the Moon still transiting my 12th House -- hardly a Fly on the Wall at NCGR. I was also on high fashion alert with Venus in Aquarius squaring my Saturn in Taurus, which translated into a bohemian long Indian-print skirt (Aquarius), but my entire outfit was black (Saturn), and I decided to forgo my specs, as contact lenses would allow for better eye contact. I believe it was also this square that triggered my becoming an NCGR member last night, though the Full Moon had a lot to do with this decision it as well.

It was a freakishly warm day in New York City (76 degrees according to an online weather source), and the room in which the panel discussion was held was in a building just a few blocks from my office. Unfortunately the room itself was quite overheated, but in a way this was a good thing, since it killed my appetite (I did not wind up having a light supper till after I got home at 10:something). I'd estimate there were around 30 to 40 people there. Some other people besides myself were becoming members that night, too. It seemed like a real community, with plenty of friendly greetings going on before the panel discussion began.

The panel discussion itself was very interesting; four astrologers from four different generations held forth on various astrological topics, three of which were based on studying the notes from focus groups conducted back in the 1980s by a highly esteemed, recently deceased astrologer and NCGR member Patricia Morimundo. Each astrologer spoke for 15 minutes, and then the floor was opened for a Q&A.

In particular, I was moved by Shirley Soffer's discussion about the focus group concerning the affect of the Saturn in Scorpio transit (the focus group happened in 1985, with Saturn in the last degree of Scorpio) on people with natal Sun/Saturn or Moon/Saturn hard aspects. I myself have a wide but approaching Moon/Saturn opposition, and I remember who I was c. 1984-85, during the time that Saturn went over my Moon and opposed my Saturn -- a solitary, snubbed, scared, skinny teenager who was convinced, as I put it so Plutoniously in my diary, that I would die an unknown virgin. As the designated "problem" in the family (when truth be told, we all should've been in family therapy), I was sent to a psychologist -- against my wishes, of course -- and of course, by the end of the school year, just as I'd begun really opening up to this gentle, compassionate woman (who was around my parents' age), my parents pulled the plug. In their opinion, I had not been fixed or even shown any signs of improvement. I am sure they were threatened that I could tell my troubles (which included them) to a therapist, when I had such difficulty confiding in them, which was because they either overreacted by blaming me, or underreacted by refusing to take whatever it was seriously.

And yet. While all this fresh Saturnian hell was going on, there was a constant loop of reading and writing, of museum-going and drawing, and achievement. In 1984 I won the Litarary Magazine prize at the middle school graduation ceremonies, and the following spring, two months before I was yanked out of therapy, I was profiled in the local pennysaver for having been the editor in chief of the same literary magazine, which had just been judged by the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) as "Excellent," surpassing thousands of lit mags at the high school level. I was even hired by the pennysaver as their weekly high school correspondent, which meant I was paid $10 a week to cover such hot topics as the high school's booming business department, the annual student-teacher debate, and Spring Fling. When my editor relocated to Zimbabwe that summer, he let his replacement know of my existence. But my heart was not in journalism, and I did not need that ten-dollar carrot enough to continue cranking out articles about the student government and SADD. This decision may not sound Saturnian, since Saturn is about obligation and duty, yet this planet also has a way of paring everything down to the essential. I did not need ten extra bucks a week, so I said the hell with it and went back to my other need: writing short stories and poems, which I could only work on outside the classroom (my "day job" at that time).

It is also worth mentioning that after Saturn went over my Moon and opposed my Saturn, it trined my Sun, Mars, and Mercury -- and passed over my Neptune. I remember that by the end of this transit, although I was very upset that I'd lost my therapist whom I'd come to trust ( Saturn conjunct Neptune), I also had a clearer sense of my goals (Saturn) and because my parents thought that studying was more important than having a part-time job, I was able to stay true to my visions (Neptune) and integrity (Saturn). Oh, and I also got braces (Saturn) "upstairs" due to impacted incisors (the ones next door the front teeth) that came in late (Saturn) and looking like fangs (I dunno...Pluto?) after the dentist extracted the immovable baby ones (on the Saturn/Pluto conjunction).

The other astrologer on the panel I found exceptionally interesting was Tracy Allen, who shared her findings from a focus group Patricia Morimndo ran back in 1989, which dealt with people sharing the the effects of transiting Neptune in Capricorn in hard aspect to their Sun, Moon, or Ascendant. Ms. Allen also gave her own insights into the Neptune in Scorpio generation. In the first case, I remembered that it was back when Neptune was in Capricorn and opposing my Sun that I delved into such Neptunian realms as astrology, lucid dreaming, and various mind-altering substances. I also met scores of Pisceans, mostly male -- though with that sign on my 7th House, it's hardly surprising.

During the Q&A, I spoke up after the first two people had asked their questions and made various comments and no one else seemed interested in contributing. I decided to concentrate only on the topics raised by Shirley and Tracy, as I did not want to speak endlessly and having to speak into a microphone near the front of the room (the mic, which was not a cordless model, did not reach all the way back to where I was seated) made me pretty self-conscious.

Fortunately, once the talk was over and everyone moved toward the back of the room for refreshments, I was able to speak with one of the other astrologers, who actually recognized me from an astrology Meetup I'd gone to years ago (he still runs it, and seems a nice guy, but the Meetup itself just didn't do it for me). I also met Stephen Fleming, the editor of Ingress, who was very friendly and encouraging; he introduced me to a few other people, and I introduced myself to a few other people, and I gave out some of my business cards. By the time 9 p.m. rolled around and the room needed to be cleared, I was ready for some fresh air (though my appetite was still suppressed from the heat). And the beautiful, bright Full Moon accompanied me on my short walk to the subway.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy International Astrology Day!

Should be an interesting one, as we are approaching the Full Moon...if you have a heavy dose of Virgo and/or Pisces in your chart, be sure not to hide your light under a bushel tonight; relationships (especially related to work and spirituality) come to the fore. Geminis and Sagittarians may attract attention and conflict in equal measure. Cancerians, Scorpions, and Capricorns may get the best of all possible worlds.

I for one intend to celebrate by attending an NCGR panel discussion after work, about "Astrology and Generations," which longtime readers of my blog know is one of my interests. And who knows...I just may wind up joining this club that would have someone like me for a member.

My article "The 'We' Regeneration: The Pluto-in-Libra Group Faces the Pluto-in-Capricorn Challenge" has just appeared in the Spring 2011 NCGR newsletter Ingress, and will also appear on its website (details forthcoming, but you may find this article in its entirety right now by going into this blog's March 2010 archives.

Cheers...now stop procrastinating and go loony-lunar.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Uranus at 29 Degrees of Pisces: Part II

Photo credit: T. C. Gardstein, 2007

With the situation in Japan worsening (as per the predictions of my last post), I thought I'd muse upon my own inner earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown with Uranus in the final degree of Pisces. It is also more than worth mentioning that Neptune happens to be transiting the final degree of Aquarius, and that up until last weekend, in fact, there was a seven-year-long mutual reception between these two outer planets (i.e., Uranus was transiting the sign of Neptune's rulership, with Neptune transiting the sign of Uranus's rulership). Obviously the semi-sextile, a so-called minor aspect, between Uranus and Neptune pulled a powerful punch. And it did so on many levels.

A planet or planets in the last degree of a sign, either by transit or progression, is all about summing up the meaning of that sign, while preparing to bid it adieu. This may very well be why individuals who are born on the cusp (29 degrees) of a sign, or have a cusp Ascendant or other planets, are prone to identity crises and restlessness. It's more about waving good-bye than saying hello, and not yet meeting face-to-face what is right around the corner.

Three-quarters of my six-day R&R to the West Indies was magical, spent swimming, eating, reading, sketching, sleeping, and not sleeping on my favorite beach on my favorite island, in the company of my sweetie whose first visit to St. Martin it was. The last quarter of my trip, which coincided with the New Moon in Pisces, was marked by a haunting sadness and creeped-outed-ness that I have not yet shaken, after more than a week back at home.

My oldest friend, whom I met at a summer writers workshop twenty years ago this summer and who introduced me to astrology, is buried on the small island of St. Eustatius, which one cannot reach except by puddle-jumper prop plane from St. Martin (actually, St. Maarten -- the airport is on the Dutch side of the island) or sailboat. I last visited my friend in March 2007; he'd been living in Statia, as the locals call their island, for the past two years. He died unexpectedly the following spring, from complications due to diverticulitis, which I did not know he had been diagnosed with, just two weeks after I'd returned home from a trip to the Bahamas with my best girl friend. It had been the first time in several years that I hadn't visited my oldest friend since he'd moved to the West Indies, and as I'd just returned from a vacation and was virtually broke, I did not make it down to Statia for his funeral, a fact that has troubled me for nearly three years. His three adult children made it down, and one of them gave me a pretty detailed description -- the pickup truck used as a hearse, the coffin built by a man who'd used the same wood to construct my friend's bookcase.

Through dreams I have often communicated with my departed friend. I do not feel as though I've "lost" him through his death; the sad, hard truth was that our true separation occurred while he was still in Statia. Four Marches ago, as I sat on the runway in the puddle-jumper that would fly me back to St. Maarten and then home, I saw that my friend's Jeep was still in the parking lot, and I thought I could see him, too -- a shadowy dot. I broke down and wept. I knew with absolute certainty that I would never see him again.

When you have a Plutonian relationship with someone, there is never easy "closure." My oldest friend, who was once upon a time not as platonic a friend, was persona non grata in my family, and no one in my post-2002 life knew him except for one ex-boyfriend (with whom, as it goes, I had a terrible falling-out a year and a half back, and is just now beginning to un-fall). I held a memorial party in my apartment at the one-year mark, to which his three kids, none of whom live in the NY area, did show -- though neither of his ex-wives, who are both relatively local in NJ, accepted the invitation. We talked and ate and drank and passed photos around. It was something; it just didn't feel like enough. I knew that somehow I had to get back to Statia, an expensive proposition given the fact that WinAir has raised skyway robbery to an art form and that my prospects as a freelancer were diminishing by the month.

So the trip finally happened, spurred in part by recently acquired steady part-time work, the other part from a false review I'd spotted on TripAdvisor about how the King's Well Inn in Statia was up for sale. This was my friend's last, and in some ways truest, home since he'd moved to the islands to teach pharmacology at the local medical schools. Far from a resort, the King's Well was a quirky little hotel run by an older couple, both Cancerians (in fact, the husband and I share a birthday and Moon sign!), who'd once run a restaurant on Long Island and fell in love with Statia while vacationing there in the '80s, at just about the time Pluto entered Scorpio. The King's Well had dogs, cats, and parrots, all of whom freely roamed the premises, so it was not a place for anyone who did not like or at least tolerate animals. The couple cooked savory, straightforward dinners (wiener schnitzel, chicken with ginger sauce, grouper with white wine sauce) and served huge gratis breakfasts to hotel guests. There was a nice swimming pool, jacuzzi, aloe plants in the garden; Oranje Bay was a short stroll down the hill. There was also a cemetery up the hill, which appears in this post's photo; I snapped this shot from the prop plane shortly before landing at Statia's FDR Airport in March 2007.

The review I read was so negative (the reviewer and his wife had left after only two hours, claiming extreme discomfort in the surroundings) that I immediately sent the owners of the King's Well an email to find out if the rumor was true. It was not; the wife informed me that the guest in question was out of his mind, and that when she and her husband were ready to pack it in, they would leave the hotel to their grown kids. I was also offered free accommodations if I chose to visit, only having to pay for dinners. Very soon after that exchange, I told my sweetie, who was in the process of packing up his apartment to move into mine, that I wanted to make a trip to St. Martin and Statia before winter's end. He was not surprised, since I'd mentioned more than once or twice my desire to revisit this part of the world, as well as my need to pay my respects at the grave of my oldest friend. It made perfect sense to start out in St. Martin and end the trip in Statia. Just before boarding the puddle-jumper, I picked up a bottle of duty-free champagne to thank the owners of the King's Well for their generosity.

What I was not expecting was that the King's Well Inn was just as decrepit, perhaps more so, as the reviewer on TripAdvisor had claimed. We were given an oceanfront room with a terrace, but it was situated near the hotel's dumpster, which reeked of garbage. The waterbed was fun and sexy in theory, but it was only halfway filled, causing extreme back discomfort for both of us. There were huge cobwebs all over the room. We did not put any of our clothes in the few drawers that passed for a bureau. The windows lacked screens, and the wooden French doors were warped and never stayed fully closed. Fortunately, the ceiling fans were in working order, which saved us from being eaten alive by mosquitos as we slept (albeit fitfully). The painting in the room was grotesque, depicting a couple clinging to each other not in ecstasy or tenderness, but in grief or agony. There were two other couples staying at the hotel, but I learned from the owners that they now only accepted known quantities -- even extending to those visitors who only wished to dine at the King's Well. The owner who is my astral twin was in a terrible car accident on St. Kitts last summer and is on a steady diet of painkillers; his wife, who never seemed to welcome "outsiders" to the King's Well as readily as her husband, seemed even more insular in her worldview; she will only visit nearby St. Martin a few times a year to pick up such hotel supplies as towels and sheets, since Statia does not offer much in the way of creature comforts. In her opinion, most people are morons or fools. The misanthrope in me sees her point, yet she is so strident and knee-jerky in her judgments that I find myself taking the other side, for the sake of balance and fairness. She also never asked me a single question about what had been going on in my world since 2007. I don't take this personally, as her own world is so circumscribed it could fit on one of her dinner plates.

We arrived late Friday afternoon, just before the New Moon in Pisces; after a quick dip in the pool, which thankfully was clean (I learned that the man who lives in my old friend's apartment, which is right next to the pool, performs this task), I cleaned up, donned my black sundress and shawl, grabbed a stick of incense and a candle that came in an ornate tin, and headed up the hill to the cemetery. It was my intention to be there at sunset, the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath. My sweetie accompanied me. It did not occur to me that I would be unable to locate my friend's grave; that it would still, after nearly three years after his burial, be unmarked. My sweetie helpfully offered to walk back downhill to the hotel restaurant and ask the grande dame of the King's Well, who was preparing our dinner, for directions. In his absence, as the sun sunk into the ocean, I wandered around the cemetery, studying each headstone in the hope that finally I'd found the one I was looking for...and taking great care to avoid the mounds of goat shit (or maybe it was cow shit) that decorated the grounds. My sweetie returned with the information that my friend was buried near the break in the cemetery wall, near "Hank the plumber." Supposedly there was a pile of rocks to mark my friend's burial spot. I did not find a pile, precisely, but there were a few heavy rocks near the plumber's headstone. My sweetie respectfully walked off a ways as I lit the stick of incense and stuck it in the ground; I lit the candle, and as soon as I asked my friend if he knew I was there, the flame went out. I spoke to him for a few minutes -- nothing so different from the times I've spoken to him in my mind. But the situation was so dismal and depressing I did not want to stay in the cemetery for longer than that. I wrote in one of my first astrology posts that I rather liked cemeteries, but this one was the exception that proved the rule. It really took the cake (or cow patty).

I planned to mention the sorry state of the cemetery, and my friend's unmarked grave, to the grande dame once we'd finished the chicken with ginger sauce. But as soon as I voiced to her that I'd probably found the grave, she weighed in with her judgment that cemeteries were pointless, that she herself never visits, and that my friend was not really there anyway -- his spirit was at the hotel. I managed to hold my tongue. After all, we were staying at the King's Well for free, and we had another night to go after this one. But here is what ran through my head: So what if it was "just" my friend's empty shell rotting in an unmarked grave, in a boneyard scattered with shit? It was still the container of his spirit, his soul. He'd apparently asked for a Jewish funeral (which ruled out cremation). His adult children, at least the older two, were financially solvent enough to have chipped in on some sort of simple marker. That they hadn't done so this long after the fact left me gobsmacked. I have a difficult relationship with my own father (whose nickname just so happens to be identical to Statia's aforementioned dearly departed plumber -- ain't irony grand?) and yet if he died anywhere on this planet, even if I did not have my mother or sister around to help out on this formality, I'd make it my business to mark that shell.

My visit to Statia lasted for less than forty-eight hours, but it felt like far longer. There were some bright moments: yoga, making a decent watercolor painting on the moldering terrace, a long frolic in the sea with my sweetie (though the beach of Oranje Bay had eroded considerably since my last visit). Neither of the owners of the King's Well wanted to drink the bubbly I'd brought, so my sweetie and I shared it during our second and last dinner, which was grouper with white wine sauce, at the King's Well. (The food, thankfully, was as delicious as in prior visits.) Near the end of the meal, I met the man who took over my friend's dwelling; he'd just celebrated his fifty-seventh birthday, and was studying to be a doctor after considerable success in the business world. When I introduced myself, he came over, charming Texan that he was, and sat with my sweetie and me for a spell. I'd had enough champagne by then to mention that my oldest friend had once lived in his apartment, and asked if he'd ever sensed anything strange, any movements; I so wanted to believe the grande dame of the King's Well that my friend's spirit was on the hotel grounds, though I hadn't sensed it at all in the past day. He immediately shook his head no and said, "Only when I had that rat problem."

Later that night I sat alone on the rotting terrace's mildewed couch, sipping from one of the bottles of Ma DouDou rum punch I'd picked up in St. Martin (my all-time favorite elixir, particularly the banana-vanilla and chocolate flavors). It was just past the Lunar Return of my oldest friend, and with the Moon/Uranus conjunction approaching, I was trying so hard to connect with his spirit as I stared at the palm trees and the night sea. But it all felt like a stage set, perhaps because of the harsh lighting. All I could think was that I'd come to Statia to pay my respects, and found (barely) an unmarked grave and a dying hotel. My sweetie, who'd been reading in the uncomfortable bed, eventually drifted out to the terrace. He reassured me that I'd done what I'd set out to do. Maybe so, I fretted -- but what about my friend's pathetic excuse for a grave? Should I contact his kids or what? Lying in the swaying bed, my sweetie and I clung to each other much like the angst-filled couple in the disturbing painting overhead. We were tired but restless, sensing unrest if not outright ghosts.

The next morning, upon our departure, I was told to "have a good life" by the grande dame of the King's Well Inn. Obviously she realized without my having to say a word that another visit was not in the stars. My astral twin, who was apparently not too badly incapacitated from painkillers that morning, drove us to the airport. My sweetie and I were not able to grab seats together on the WinAir prop plane, even though we boarded in tandem. Perhaps having to sit next to a stranger was what made it possible -- that sense of aloneness I felt as I watched Statia recede in the blue haze that melds sea and sky -- for me to finally be able to cry for my oldest friend. Once again.