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.