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.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Uranus at 29 Degrees of Pisces: Part I

This was going to be a post about how Uranus affected me in the final degree of Pisces, which is also the final degree of the zodiac. However, in light of yesterday's devastating 8.9-magnitude earthquake (followed by tsunami and nuclear plant explosions) in northeastern Japan, it seems a tad self-centered to concentrate solely on the personal, especially because I came through it in one piece, albeit inwardly shattered (Uranus).

Studying the quake chart for 2:46 p.m. local time in Sendai, Japan (closer to the epicenter than nearby Tokyo), it is painfully clear to me that the toll of this disaster has yet to reach its climax.

Leo ascends in the chart, which means that the ruler of this chart is the Sun in Pisces--placed in the 8th House of death, along with Mars, Mercury, and (surprise) Uranus (which rules the 7th House of "the Other" and relationships).

Uranus forms a stressful square aspect to the Nodes, but I believe that the Moon/Uranus sextile, exact a scant few minutes before the official quake, was the true trigger: the Moon was in the last moments of Taurus, an earth sign, and even though sextiles are considered the "safest" of aspects, clearly the lunar contact to explosive Uranus trumped any such harmlessness. The outer manifestation of the quake occurred with the Moon in the first minutes of Gemini, and it was a double whammy (Gemini is the sign of the twins) with the tsunami.

The wide-but-approaching Sun/Uranus conjunction will not be exact until March 21, on the heels of the equinox; there may well be more troubling situations with nuclear facilities and aftershocks.

Also, Mars, planet of direct action and agression, has yet to transit over the quake chart's Sun and Uranus (March 20 and April 1, respectively), and to boot, is not well placed in Pisces; this final sign of the zodiac prefers "to sleep, perchance to dream" and indulge in various forms of escape rather than act.

With the approaching Mercury/Pluto square, exact tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. EDT (remember to "spring ahead" before going to sleep tonight!), the already high death toll will continue to mount. As Pluto rules radiation, more evacuations may occur around nuclear plants.

Certainly, any individual or nation that fails to respond to northeast Japan's disaster will face mass ostracization. Because the Moon is placed in this chart's 10th House of publicity and forms an opportunity-making sextile with the 8th House Mercury, immediate communication and emotional connection are apparent. The 9th House Jupiter, even placed in self-centered Aries, should ensure an outpouring of generosity and aid on a global level, because the chart's Mercury is approaching a conjunction to it. However, with the powerful square Mercury forms to Pluto, the ghosts of this natural disaster will linger--and the packed 8th House of this chart will ensure a sustained reverberation.

Stay tuned for my delayed post about how Uranus in the final degree of Pisces forced me to confront my own ghosts during an ostensible R&R--of course, if you are a Plutonian or just run with them, you already know that this Piscean getaway consisted of more Rs than rest and relaxation.