Friday, December 21, 2012

It's Not the End of the World As We Know It (And I Don't Feel Fine)*

*Apologies to R.E.M. for such cynical paraphrasing of one of the finest anthems created by the Pluto-in-Virgo generation.

Were you relieved or disappointed or perhaps a mixture of both emotions when you woke up this morning to discover that the world was still spinning on its axis, that life was still going on?

Bar none, the most annoying question I've had to contend with as an astrologer this year is the end-of-the-world scenario due to occur on December 21, 2012, predicted by those mystical Mayans all those years ago. Never mind that the Mayans themselves have long since put the kibosh on this prediction, which was as out of context as one could get, a literal fragment.

(Next year, winner of Most Annoying Astrology-Related Question will most likely revert back to a tie between "Oh, you seem so smart, how could you believe in astrology?" and "Ha, what exactly did you just say about your anus, ha-ha?")

Back to the question I posed. I can't pretend to speak for everyone; I wouldn't want to, and everyone is not the same anyway. But as someone so strong in the water element, I do pick up on other people's moods, and what I have gotten from so many people this year, both in person and from news articles, is a desire for apocalypse. As if the only action that will stop the madness symbolized and manifested by the Uranus-Pluto square I keep going on about is spontaneous global combustion. Fire? Ice? Bombs? Death by Chocolate? (Sign me up for that last one.)

Something I find truly interesting and disturbing is not that so many people have major thanatos (death wish) during these topsy-turvy times, but that apocalypse literally means "uncovering," as in a lifting of the veil. Disclosure. Knowledge.

Perhaps many of us want both: to be in the know and to die. Heightened consciousness can indeed bring bucketfuls of pain. Ignorance may not always bring bliss, but a willful unwillingness to follow current events may also keep you from feeling like there is just no point in going on...unless, of course, your personal circumstances are such that you want to die anyway.

The last time the mood was this apocalyptic was during the late 1960s, an era triggered by Uranus-Pluto conjunction -- a handful of years when I was a concept, a tie-dyed-in-the-wool hippie, or my uncle (who died in January 1970, six months before I was born). Peaceful flower power and civil disobedience waned as violence and black-and-white thinking became more commonplace and accepted; you were either on one side of the fence or another; no shades of gray were tolerated. Change would have to occur, as Malcom X warned before he himself was gunned down, "by any means necessary." Time horizons shrank as events sped up and seemingly out of control. As Jim Morrison of the Doors sang on their very first album, "The future's uncertain and the end is always near."

On the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the first day of Capricorn, the midst of the holiday season, and most assuredly not the end of the world, my only cosmic prescription is to find something to ease any pain you might be feeling that does not hurt you or anyone else. Laughter is a safe bet; find something to tickle your funny bone. If you find that solitude is more comforting than company right now, by all means shut the door and indulge in some downtime. But remember that Capricorn, for all its standoffish, CEO airs, is still a sensual, hands-on earth sign, and still needs to be held close sometimes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Lunatic Is in the Hall: Another Manifestation of the Uranus-Pluto Square

Friday, December 14, 2012, 9:40 a.m., Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, in the state that rhymes with "etiquette."

Unless you happened to be in a coma yesterday, or in a media blackout zone, you know the grisly, tragic, senseless details of what happened -- if not why.

Looking at the chart of the kindergarten massacre is giving me very little solace, for a number of reasons. Sometimes one just cannot bring order out of chaos -- sometimes it does not do a damned bit of good. Millions of people went about their mornings with three Capricorn planets -- Pluto, the Moon, and Mars -- transiting the local real-time 12th House, and survived.

However, with 29 degrees of Capricorn is on the Ascendant, the chart's ruler is Saturn in Scorpio in the 9th House, forming a very close, approaching sextile its despositor Pluto in the 12th. I do think that if there ever was the perfect time to discuss gun control laws, that time is now -- as well the fact that increasing numbers of mentally ill individuals (mostly young men, if we can stand to be politically incorrect enough to engage in such profiling) have been allowed to slip through the cracks of our society because mental health in this nation has taken a backseat to just about everything. And it's not just the NRA and the government that must be held accountable. All of us have blood on our hands, whether or not we own guns. It's the "I have mine, screw the rest of you" isolationist attitude that is rewarded as American individualism. It's the glamorization and normalization of violence. Hell, I feel guilty for having become addicted to The Sopranos earlier this year.

Prayers are not enough. Tears are not enough. The hubristic philosophy of America being so exceptional, so strong, and so unified in times of crisis is not enough. This year alone in the United States, there have been far too many incidents of mass violence in places that, like schools, are not recognized as war zones: at the movies, in a shopping mall.

I am not so naive as to believe that if only the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution were amended to make it illegal to buy Glocks, AK-47s, and semi-automatics with mile-long magazines (which our Founding Fathers were unfamiliar with because they had not yet been invented), these weapons would not find their way into the hands of criminals and mentally ill people. There is, after all, a black market for everything. Yet in Australia, after a 1996 massacre in Port Arthur left 35 dead, the inventory of semi-automatic rifles and shotguns was greatly reduced, gun registration was made universal, an improved licensing system was introduced, and gun storage demands improved. This has resulted in a country where innocent people just going about their lives are far less likely to be shot to death. I absolutely believe in self-defense, but the idea of arming kindergarten teachers with guns to protect themselves and their students is just not the answer. Nor do I think that throwing mentally ill people into jail or ignoring them instead of getting them real help solves anything.

Gun control (and neutering the political influence of the previously relatively sane NRA) is far from the only solution. We are in the midst of a Uranus-Pluto square that will last until March 17, 2015. Similar to the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the mid-1960s, and the last Uranus-Pluto square of early 1930s, explosive violence is a crucial issue. How effectively and compassionately a nation takes care of its own people of all ages, all income brackets, all degrees of wellness both physical and mental, is an indicator of how healthy that nation happens to be. Under the stress of a prolonged Uranus-Pluto square, a time of extreme economic uncertainty, societal upheaval, and erratic weather patterns (e.g., Hurricane Sandy), it is clear that more people than ever before are cracking up. The pressure is just too great to keep everyone sane. This is not an excuse; this is a warning that is already coming to pass.

I do not think this is the America its Founding Fathers had in mind. They would indeed be mystified that most of us mourn for a few hours or days at the latest killing rampage, and then go on without pressing for real change. And I am not preaching from some high horse. My own life is in such disarray that my main focus is to fix it, and myself -- not the nation's considerable ills.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Astrological Grab Bag

Moon's in the last degree of Virgo. Feeling jittery and scattered, yet in the mood to astrologize even though my thoughts are all over the place.

My progressed Moon is exactly midway through Gemini, and traveling through my 9th House. In that time (about 15 months), I have become simultaneously more interested in (and outraged by) politics and the failure of democracy in the United States (which seems to be more a reflection of 9th House concerns than Gemini) and...television.

For most of my teenage and adult years, I did not watch TV, period, with the exception of one or two guilty pleasures (Melrose Place; the local time-to-panic news hour). I preferred watching movies, MTV when they still showed music videos, and revolting public-access cable shows that by now have rightfully been flushed down the toilet of history. When I had an office job as an (il)legal secretary, I was able to contribute abolutely nothing to the buzz over Sex and the City. I was also unable to debate the true meaning of the series finale of The Sopranos. But since my Moon progressed into Gemini, I have probably watched more TV shows than I have in my first 41 years.

I only watch one of these shows, Mad Men (which I glommed on to from the very first season, with my progressed Moon in Aries), in real time. One of these shows is still on (like my newest addiction, 30 Rock). At least one was cancelled shortly after I got into it (Bored to Death). Some are vintage (The Fugitive, The Prisoner, The Twilight Zone). Some hail from the United Kingdom (Extras, Father Ted). It is tempting to credit my Roku box with my new interest in TV shows, but Roku has only been in my life for a couple of months. No, much of the credit goes to a few people in my life whose taste I mostly respect...and, I suppose, my own curiosity and desire to keep an open mind (Gemini). In a way, I feel retroactively embarrassed not to have watched some of these shows on television when they were new, but then again, even when I had cable, I lacked HBO (hello, Sopranos!). In another way, I am currently embarrassed that what soothes me even more than a good book (I am finally reading Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay) is watching three back-to-back episodes of 30 Rock.

Television may or may not still be the opiate of the masses; after all, texting, sexting, Facebook, Twitter, and Wii are also vying for our glazed eyes and sore fingers. But in these uncertain, grim times, maybe it does make more sense to veg out with a good TV show...and there are more of them out there than I had previously imagined possible.

Lest this post turn out more focused than I'd originally intended, I am truly outraged that all this talk of the "fiscal cliff" is taking the focus away (once again) from the millions of people in the United States who are unemployed or underemployed. Back when I was a relative youngin and had my first astrology article, "The Astrology of Generation X," published in the December 1999 issue of Dell Horoscope, I noted that "Pluto in Virgo natives may suffer from lousy job karma." Keep in mind this article was written during the dot-com boom, so many people disagreed with me. However, the dot-com boom went bust, and turned out to be a big, fake-out blip on the radar.

Meaning no disrespect to the trillions of out-of-work baby boomers born in the 1950s who stand a snowball's chance in Hades of ever regaining gainful employment before collecting social security, I believe that my Pluto-in-Virgo generation was hit right out of the gates by the nation's 20-year trend of downsizing, offshoring, and an increasing unwillingness on the part of employers to train bright, educated individuals in the latest software technology that are destined to become obsolete in a year or two anyway. Things are only slightly better for the Pluto-in-Libra group because their relative youth (28 to 41 years old as of December 31, 2012) gives them a leg up in the hiring process, which may or may not result in their earning a living wage. And let us not forget those crushing student loans incurred by recent Pluto-in-Scorpio college graduates. But hey, it serves those impractical dreamers right for not majoring in Something Practical! We Need More Engineers! We Need More Entrepreneurs! The liberal arts really shouldn't exist at all -- although it's a nifty dodge for trust-fund brats and slackers who do not wish to enter the Family Business because they'd rather sleep late or work for a nonprofit or an art gallery or some such nonsense.

On a related note, I propose that we have a ceremonial burning of the phrase "the new normal." It lets far too many people and philosophies off the hook, and is even more objectionable than "it is what it is."

Although I am highly educated and only in my early 40s, my job applications are routinely ignored. But by now, I should be used to the constant stress of freelancing. With Aquarius on my 6th-House cusp and its ruler, Uranus, in my 1st House, perhaps it was inevitable that I wind up working for myself. And with Gemini on my MC, having more than one career at once is in the stars. I have to juggle all my aspirations, dammit! Yet when all is said and done, I am a Cancer Sun, and Cancer can get pretty damned insecure even on a sunny day. And with Uranus still opposing my natal Uranus, I am beginning to crack under the strain. I try to keep focused on my current creative project -- my version of the brass ring, the Golden Ticket that could change my entire life for the better. But constantly having to hustle for my next gig, and not even being able to relax when I land one because it won't bring in enough money for me to do anything more than tread water, can be a real energy drain. Plus, the grim implications of Saturn in Scorpio transiting my 2nd House are scaring the shit out of me. Especially when Saturn goes over my natal Moon next October. (It gets really close in February, but retrogrades within half a degree of the conjunction).

I think I'll close this helter-skelter post with this appeal: if you are looking to have your chart read by a compassionate, experienced, true-blue astrologer, please check out my testimonials on my homepage and contact me for my rates. Yes, I do astrocartography. Yes, I do relationship charts. Yes, I am the real deal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How Deep Is Your Love? Venus Meets Saturn; Mercury Turns Direct

Within three hours of Mercury's turning Direct in Scorpio (5:48pm ET), the Moon in Venus-ruled Taurus opposed Mercury -- and Venus conjoined Saturn in Scorpio. Translation: thoughts took an emotional turn; the main focus of these thoughts was about the quality (as opposed to quantity) of your relationships. Although worry and depression may very well have shown up like unwanted guests, the main question, as the BeeGees put it so well at the height of the disco era, was: How deep is your love?

Venus in sexed-up Scorpio running into Saturn's cold, armored wall does not sound very sexy on the surface, but Scorpio knows just a thing or two about walls, relishes a challenge, and if it cannot pole-vault itself over that wall, it can dig under defenses and plumb the depths in a most effective manner. Venus in Scorpio is in it for the long haul, and when it meets Saturn, dead ashes can be rekindled; passion can revitalize a moribund romance, even bring back a long-lost love. Even with Mercury turning Direct, there is value in examining the past and cherishing foundations of all kinds. On an aesthetic level, vintage items hold far more appeal than new ones.

Interestingly, I spent the Venus-Saturn conjunction in a cold (Saturn) movie theater with my sweetie (Venus) watching Skyfall. (Minor spoilers ahead!) The theme of the movie pretty much sums up the Venus-Saturn conjunction: "Sometimes," as Mr. James Shaken Not Stirred Bond quips, "the old ways are the best." (This is also a tip of the hat toward the golden 50th anniversary of the 007 movie series.) Dame Judi Stiff Upper Lip Dench, playing an endangered-species M, is the true Bond Girl of this installment, despite the fact that she is about three times older than the average Bond Girl. James Bond himself is portrayed as an aging (Saturn), burned-out mess (albeit still appealing to the ladies and even to the Bond villain!), but we can get past his formidable defenses with something never before done in the Bond series: his tragic backstory. His return to his spooky childhood home in the moors of Scotland, ostensibly to settle the score, symbolizes another read of the Venus-Saturn conjunction: making peace (Venus), no matter how violent and cathartic (Scorpio), with your roots (Saturn), even as you realize that never again can you truly go home.

Friday, November 9, 2012

My Big Fat Midlife Crisis: Notes on Uranus Opposing My Ass

Being an astrologer does have its perks. At the same time, it can be like waiting for a delicately poised axe to fall and relieve me of my head.

In this era, the three aspects that launch one into midlife are the Pluto square, the Neptune square, and the Uranus opposition. (In other eras, Pluto is not a factor, due to its highly eccentric orbit.) Depending on exactly when you were born, these aspects can overlap, or not be anywhere near one another. However the timing plays out, it helps to think of these aspects as a process instead of isolated incidents.

In my case, I experienced the Pluto square first, at the relatively early ages of 35 and 36. With Pluto at my IC (aka Nadir, or the 4th House cusp) squaring my natal Pluto on the Ascendant, I feared that I would lose my home; instead, I slowly slid into credit card debt (Pluto). There was also a disastrous moneymaking scheme on my too-trusting father's part that eventually cost him his medical license and hefty lawyer's fees to stay out of jail. (Although the father is traditionally said to rule the 10th House, the family in general is to be found in the 4th, and this situation affected the entire family.) Sex became a battleground, but by the final square I had become far more emotionally honest about my needs and wants. What wound up alleviating the Pluto square was my natal Jupiter; on the heels of the square, Pluto formed a sextile to it. Though I was spending money I didn't really have, I was also very creatively productive (wrote my second book). On a shallow level, I looked surprisingly good; at least on the surface, the Pluto square agreed with me. Unlike just a few years before, I felt that my life was on an upswing; I was no longer mourning my lost youth, had a great apartment and some new friends, and felt I was growing younger, not older.

The Neptune square came considerably later, between the ages of 39 and 41. (This square, unlike the Pluto square, occurred five times instead of the standard three.) At age 39, with Neptune entering my 6th House, I began experiencing various minor but annoying health issues that compelled me to confront my physical vulnerabilities and jump off the Fun Train. Feeling extremely lost, a Nowhere (Wo)man in a Nowhere Land, my relationships expressed the dark side of my Neptune-ruled 7th House, with much masochistic behavior on my part in an attempt to hold on to those who were not worth touching with a ten-foot pole. I moved to a neighborhood that was more affordable but also very far away from almost everything and everyone I wanted to be close to. I further compounded that mistake by convincing myself (and not for the first time, unfortunately) that companionship trumped good sexual chemistry in a steady relationship, and that I could literally live with such a scenario. But it was a harmful pipe dream, and while I was smoking it, I gained weight; instead of applying my Plutonian willpower to dieting, I bought some trousers and skirts with elasticized waists and proceeded to pack on more pounds. I became increasingly morose and downright depressed at the same time that I was publishing erotica eBooks and poetry and attracting attention on the thriving Manhattan reading-performance circuit -- a typically Neptunian paradox, as validation for my writing meant very little to me when I felt so worthless. It was was midway through this nearly two-year period that I landed a part-time office job without even seeking it out -- and the job dissolved (Neptune transiting my 6th) just as mysteriously after the fifth and final square. This last square not so coincidentally occurred just a few weeks after getting together with my current boyfriend, a Pisces -- there was an air of fatedness and magic (Neptune) to the proceedings, as we'd had a date three years earlier, and on our do-over the NRE (new relationship energy) was off the charts. But the square forced me to see that far from being a pair of enchanted mythological creatures, we were fallible, just two sensitive souls with plenty of baggage that cannot be easily jettisoned. Similar to the Pluto square, I believe that my natal Jupiter acted as a sort of guardian angel and kept my creative juices flowing, as Neptune trined it shortly before making the square to my natal Neptune.

Today marked my second Uranus opposition. (The first one happened this past April, just two months before the transiting Uranus-Pluto square). Falling in my 1st and 7th Houses, from Libra to Aries, the question of how to balance my relationships with the people who are most important to me are on my front burner -- but so too is a sense of wanting to make some pretty big changes that are incompatible with current realities. I have no idea how this dilemma can be resolved. Maybe it can't. I don't really know what else to write about my Uranus opposition; combined with the notorious Uranus-Pluto square, it's just too much to fathom, and unlike the Pluto and Neptune squares, my Jupiter is not there to cushion any blows. Perhaps its true meaning won't become clear to me until after the final Uranus opposition occurs, which is just two months away. I have a very strong sense of champing at the bit and being very frustrated with all the limitations in my life, at the same time that I am aware of how thankful I should be. I feel that a window is open, that this may be my last chance to steer my life in the direction I want it to go, but at the same time, I am terrified to climb through this window because it would entail letting go of just about everything and everyone dear to my heart as well as everything and everyone I want to leave behind.

If you are going through the same midlife aspects, I would love to hear from you. It would also be interesting to hear from those of you who emerged on the other side of the Uranus opposition. If you do not wish to leave a public comment, please email me at plutorisingastrologer@gmail.com.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Storm Warnings: Election Day in a Uranus-Pluto Square Era

As many of you are aware, 2012 marked the beginning of a three-year era defined by a Uranus-Pluto square. History does not always repeat itself, but it often rhymes; therefore, especially for a nation as willfully amnesiac as the United States, it is crucial to look back about 80 years, when the last Uranus-Pluto square was in effect. The early 1930s was the Uranian "crash" of the stock market and the end of the decade-long party known as the Jazz Age; throwing Pluto into the mix ensured extreme measures would steer the economy (a Plutonian domain).

On this Election Day (or what may turn out to be Election Week or Election Month), America stands at a crucial crossroads that will seal our collective fate and global reputation. The path taken will reverebate for the next three decades, until the next Uranus conjunction occurs. (Keep in mind that the last Uranus conjunction defined the 1960s.) Mercury has not even turned Retrograde yet (that happens at 6:04pm ET), and already frustration, confusion, long lines, and malfuctioning machines are occurring at the polls.

If Barack Obama retains the keys to the presidency, America will have the chance to flower into a new "New Deal," the seeds of which have been sown over the past four years despite the constant obstruction, bad-mouthing, and downright hysteria from the opposing party. If President Obama prevails and presides for another term, he will represent the changing face of America, and its future (represented by forward-thinking Uranus). Echoes of FDR's dictum, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," will become so strong and so present that it will cease to become an echo. For Americans, the five remaining Uranus-Pluto squares between now and March 2015 may feel more like growing pains and less like an extended death knell -- unless ever more extreme weather patterns become the norm.

If you have not yet cast your ballot and are not in love or even in like with Obama, consider the alternative. If the election goes the other way -- whether it is stolen or not -- America could come to resemble 1930s Germany minus the death camps, which are probably too extreme a "Final Solution" even for the most irrational, cold-blooded members of the RepubliCons. However, friendly little expulsions of various groups could occur. Debtors' prisons and workhouses could enjoy a renaissance as gated communities turn into steel-armored fiefdoms with toxic moats. The United States may remain a democracy on paper, but a plutocracy in reality. Its most lasting effect on the government will be on the judicial branch: a Supreme Court dominated by the Farthest of the Far Right. An entire nation will be ruled by fear, suppression of countless freedoms, wholesale censorship, irrationality (the downside of Uranus), propaganda (the downside of Pluto), and scapegoating of groups that are not white, well-off, and wishing for a return to the 1950s (minus the financial security that many Americans were able to achieve during that postwar decade). If you are a woman -- even a white, well-off woman who wants to be a housewife and mother -- you may eventually lose not only the right to control your own reproductive system, but your right to vote. The five remaining Uranus-Pluto squares between now and March 2015 could be marked by socially sanctioned violence. Citizens may first be gently encouraged, then not so gently ordered, to report "suspicious" individuals, even family members and friends. New forms of taxation and unnecessary rationing will all rise in the name of "patriotism" while serving their true function: to keep the populace scared stiff, stirred up, and in line.

I realize the above paragraph is quite extreme in its predictions, but it is an informed point of view (i.e., not gleaned from Faux 5 News). It is also not just about America having the choice to take the "New Deal" path or to spiral down into the cesspool of a fascistic 1984 scenario. Thanks to technology as well as various contracts, nations are connected to one another as never before, so we are more affected by the actions and policies of one another. This means that there needs to be a far greater sense of accountability across the globe, which I also realize is easier said than done -- without such necessities as food, clean water, shelter, and other supplies, as well as access to education and technology, there is only so much an impoverished nation can do to shake off the shackles of a plutocracy or an insane, abusive tyrant. Deep-rooted dysfunction cannot be cured by lectures, sanctions, or Band-Aids. The United States cannot keep on being the world's policeman . . . especially if we are showing definite signs of being unable to police ourselves in a just, rational manner.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: The Aftermath / Election Day: Oh, Boy

By now, many of you astrology hounds have undoubtedly unearthed many fine articles about Hurricane Sandy as well as the upcoming presidential election. I am adding my thoughts mainly because I feel a certain responsibility to astrologize, even though those two cents may as well be two drops in the cyberspace bucket. I know that I am not alone in feeling a certain ambivalence toward the up-to-the-second online updates that sometimes makes the information age feel more like information overload. (Did the acronym TMI even exist back in the '90s?)

Just read over the above paragraph. Aren't I a little ray of sunshine today? The Sun is coming up on its annual conjunction to my Moon, which sounds like it should be a ton of fun, except that the sign involved is Scorpio, which can be ecstatic but rarely happy.

Pressing on regardless:



Of course the Full Moon increased Hurricane Sandy's power, since the Full Moon translates into higher than usual tides. But what is even more striking about the chart of Hurricane Sandy as it reached landfall by slamming into Atlantic City at 8pm on Monday night is Jupiter in Gemini on the Ascendant with Mars setting in Sagittarius (the sign traditionally ruled by Jupiter). Jupiter always does things in a big way, and Mars can indicate aggressive destruction. The opposition between Mars and Jupiter occurred the day before Sandy hit landfall, but since these two planets are on the most sensitive angles of the chart, this opposition cannot be dismissed as "separating" (i.e., diminishing in intensity). Interestingly, Jupiter also rules gambling, and Atlantic City is one of the top two gambling spots in the nation.

With Gemini Rising, the planet Mercury is of crucial importance as well. Mercury has just entered Sagittarius (traditionally considered a detrimental placement), is placed in the 6th House of health and work, and is just separating from a square to Neptune (ruling the sea and floods), the most elevated planet at just 9 degrees from the Midheaven in the 10th House. Obviously, business was not able to go on as usual as the storm cut its devastating swath through the tristate area and beyond, with loss of life and homes, as well as electricity and dwindling food and gas supplies. Halloween this year turned out to be more about tricks and less about treats -- though with that elevated Neptune, the blessing in disguise was the in-your-face confrontation of how man-made climate change is resulting in extreme weather patterns. (Ironically, right before Halloween last year NYC was hit by a so-called freak blizzard.)

As someone lucky enough to have gotten through Sandy in good company (boyfriend and boyfriend's affectionate little gray tabby), with electricity (though no heat) and plenty to eat, my cell phone the only thing not working throughout the week, I still feel compelled to mention a disconnect within the lucky camp that I feel is represented by the Mercury-Neptune square. There were salaried workers who were able to stay home and telecommute (or not work at all) without any loss of income, but there were also plenty of workers who had to commute four hours to receive $10 an hour starting on Wednesday, with the MTA barely functioning, or who lost a week's worth of income because their workplaces were shut down. I myself was able to do a phone interview for a job midweek (I did not get it, boo hoo) only because my boyfriend has a land line, and a work package I was expecting to receive on Tuesday will not get to me until the messenger service is up and running again. Not that I would trade places with someone who has a steady job but no home, or someone who drowned during the storm.

With so many people in NYC still going without, especially in Staten Island, it is fortunate that yesterday the mayor rescinded his tone-deaf, gung-ho attitude about the annual marathon -- but if he had stuck to his guns, the disconnect would've been even more severe come tomorrow. A Mercury-Neptune square is not known for clear thinking or good judgment calls.

______________________________________________

Plenty has already been written about the upcoming Election Day occuring when Mercury turns Retrograde (just as the polls are closing on the East Coast). It is too bad that the U.S. government cannot delay voting for another three weeks -- though come to think of it, the 2000 elections occurred the day Mercury stationed Direct. It is clear from an astrological perspective that we may not find out who the true winner is for weeks, if not months, as Mercury will square Neptune two more times. I think this is also an indication of lingering trauma from Sandy effecting the ability of storm-struck individuals to vote. Whatever happens, I hope that any lingering sense of complacency will have been replaced by urgency and an unwillingness on the public's part to settle for a stolen (or even "borrowed") election, even if the candidates want to do so for the sake of peace, harmony, and moving forward. In the United States, we get the government that we deserve. We cannot afford not to rock the boat -- another interpretation of the Mercury-Neptune square.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Snap, Crackle, Pop! Mars Trines Uranus on the New Moon

There is an expression in the United States, "Dance like no one is watching." Well, this is not the time to follow that philosophy. We are emerging from the Dark of the Moon on a Mars-Uranus trine; the New Moon occurs on Monday at 8:03 a.m. ET, just an hour and a half after said trine. This means you need to drive like the whole world is watching. No car, you say? No problem. Lace up your kick-ass-est boots or sneakers (both types of footwear are associated with athletic Sagittarius, where Mars is currently transiting) and push your geographical and philosophic envelope as far as it will go. On a trine, you may surprise yourself with how flexible you are. This is a fine time to learn a new language, explore new lands, exercise your body and your mind, taste a new cuisine, and/or examine your beliefs. (Great Pumpkin, anyone?)If it's exotic, it's exactly what you need. (Which is partly why I picked this week to travel to Berlin!)

Do keep in mind, however, that since this New Moon falls in Libra, you will want some pleasant company on your journey, whether it's a game "partner in crime" or a travel agent (either literal or metaphoric) riding shotgun. Being adventurous now will not necessarily translate into being 100 percent autonomous.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Progressed Moon and Transiting Jupiter in My 9th House

...and finally, I have made the jump across the Atlantic Ocean for a long-overdue long-distance vacation -- a classic read of 9th-house progressions and transits. But this trip has been in the making for a year, when my progressed Moon entered the mobile sign of Gemini. Although Jupiter retrograde is not supposed to be a good time for travel, it can indicate revisiting one's previous stomping grounds: in my case, Berlin, to visit an old flame from 14 years ago, now friend, who is married to a kind, intelligent woman, and father to a charming little monkey of a four-year-old (Gemini) daughter. I am writing this from the guest room of their charming apartment in the center of the city, prolonging my passing out for another hour or so in order to get myself on German time.

I still can only speak about a dozen or so German words/phrases, but the kleine fraulein and I manage to communicate pretty well anyway. In the aftermath of the easy-peasy Saturn-Neptune trine Wednesday evening, my last night in NY for 8 days, I hope this trip will change my water -- life in my own head has been neither entirely pleasant nor productive lately. Even with a headache and lingering congestion from two flights and barely any sleep for the past 36 hours, I am actually starting to feel a little bit better already.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Your Karma Ran over My Dogma: Meditations on Saturn

Saturn entered Libra on October 29, 2009, then retrograded back into Virgo on April 7, 2010, before finally reentering Libra on July 21, 2010, where it has remained ever since. Today, however, at 4:33 p.m. ET, Saturn will pass its torch to the next sign in line: Scorpio. Interestingly, earlier today another planet went into Scorpio: Mercury. So the final aspect involving Saturn in the final astrological minutes (29'57") of Libra was a conjunction with Mercury -- perhaps a final bid on Saturn's part for us to think about the past three years.

Makes an astrologer think, anyway. Though at the time of the Mercury-Saturn conjunction, I must admit to being fast asleep.

Saturn is undoubtedly the "heavy" of our solar system. Traditional Western astrology (i.e., pre-1930, when Pluto was discovered, and lingering till the explosive Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the mid-1960s), placed far more emphasis on Saturn's negative manifestations: loss, limitation, loneliness, misery, depression, greed, harshness, fear. It seemed that wherever you had the ringed planet placed in your birth chart, it indicated the area of life where you were utterly screwed, and there was really nothing you could do about it other than passively accept it as your burden.

I believe that part of the reason for this baleful attitude toward Saturn had to do with a more rigid way of life in general, a time when it was far less likely that you could break out of the mold and veer away from the path on which you was born. In the pre-automobile age, there was far less literal as well as social mobility; true, in the United States were Little House on the Prairie-type pioneers, Wild West cowboys, and Gold Rush junkies who moved far from their families, as well as a great wave of immigration from Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Yet the majority of Americans (and those Europeans who were not kicked out of their birth countries for the crime of being, say, Jewish) lived and died within a handful of miles of their place of birth. Vacations were pretty much unheard of, except of course for the rich, as was the concept of retirement: you worked either until you dropped dead or were fired for loss of mental or physical strength, and your safety net consisted of merciful relatives who allowed you to you live in their back room.

I realize very well that these days, the "American Dream" seems to have stalled, and is a cruel joke for many more people than in the past few generations. That several other countries' austerity measures and/and constant wars are also grinding down the hopes of millions, even billions of people. That during this topsy-turvy, crisis-laden era of the Uranus-Pluto square, giving stodgy ol' grumpy-boots Saturn the time of day might seem a ridiculous waste of time.

Which is exactly why we all need to get back to the basics and reconsider the power and weight of Saturn. If it wasn't so heavy, we might not have any sense of grounding at all. Saturn operates on the material plane. It is very telling indeed that Saturn rules Capricorn -- an earth sign. Saturn is our touchstone, and our backbone.

Even in touchy-feely contemporary astrology, Saturn certainly will never win any popularity contests, but just like Bartelby the Scrivener, it "would prefer not to." Saturn feels far more comfortable alone on the top of a mountain, or in a penthouse apartment, or in a corner office in a high-rise landmark-status building that it designed and built itself. (It is also no surprise that the charts of CEOs, bankers, architects, and construction workers are dominated by Saturn and/or Capricorn).

The terms karma and dharma are complex, comprising several tomes' worth of Eastern philosophy, and like the word love, are far too easily tossed around. In the context of astrology, however, they mesh perfectly with what Saturn symbolizes: your individualized trials and tribulations; your path; your duties; your earthly, character-building lessons to be learned in this lifetime, not turned away from out of denial or shame. To achieve what Buddha called the "diamond Soul," you must listen and learn from Saturn -- not coincidentally, all minerals, but especially the rarest, most precious ones like diamonds, are ruled by the ringed planet.

The Saturn Return at age 29-30 is the most important astrological event in anyone's lifetime, even trumping the Uranus opposition (aka "midlife crisis") at age 40-42. It is not a time for dreaming or escapism, but for looking unflinchingly into hard, cold facts, incorporating structure into your life, making peace with your father (or an equivalent "old man" authority figure), as you finally pass through the gates of true adulthood with a more defined sense of your life's mission. Saturn rules the concept of truth, as well as time; and like it or not, your time on earth is limited. Even if you believe in reincarnation, that you will return as the same (hopefully more evolved) soul in a different shell, you cannot take your shell or material booty with you.

Saturn's transit through a sign indicates the hard lessons we are all most likely to be faced with during a 2.5-year period, especially as it forms challenging aspects (conjunctions, squares, and oppositions) to other transiting planets, and to planets or other important points within our own birth charts.

Specifically, Saturn transiting Libra was about learning to structure and commit to important personal relationships in a mature, equitable way. Does that mean that all of us became more responsible in relationships, and better at cooperating with others? Of course not! Saturn cannot force you to learn any lessons at all -- but it does have the uncanny ability to take something pretty important away from you if you keep ignoring those lessons (i.e., your long-suffering spouse files for divorce). This does not, of course, mean that every time a person screws up and fails to rectify the mistake, Saturn immediately steps in to punish that person, ingeniously tailoring the punishment to the sign it is transiting. And of course shit also happens to those who do not "deserve" it. I live in the world, and I assume that you do, too. I am just speaking Saturnese right now.

Obviously, some will be in for a rockier road than others as Saturn leaves Libra (a position, by the way, that is traditionally considered "exalted") and enters Scorpio -- it depends on your own cosmic blueprint. Often what will happen is a mixture of flowing and challenging aspects, and when Saturn is involved, even trines and sextiles can have teeth. If you do not know your own chart, by all means contact me to schedule a private reading; if you know your chart well, take a close look to see what house Saturn will be in as it enters Scorpio; unless your chart features a house with 0 degrees of Scorpio on the cusp, it will be the same house as Saturn at 29 Libra, but the energy will feel very different as Saturn changes from cardinal air to fixed water.

So, Saturn is officially in Scorpio now. Please take a moment to welcome it (especially since Mercury just entered Scorpio, and Mars is still in Scorpio). If you were born with Saturn in Scorpio (i.e., are approaching your first, second, or even third Saturn Return), or have one or more planets or the Ascendant placed in Scorpio, you will undoubtedly be faced with some pretty serious lessons to learn (or not -- the choice is yours) over the next two and a half years. These lessons will specifically focus on the extreme, nitty-gritty aspects of life, including death (and sex, the occult, other people's money, and taxes). You may find yourself obsessing over one or more of these areas, and fearing any situation in which you do not have control. Scorpio types (not necessarily born with Sun in Scorpio, but with Scorpio planets or a strong Pluto) hate losing control as much as Capricorn (which is, you will remember, ruled by Saturn). But if you want to work with Saturn in Scorpio rather than against it, you must learn to let yourself ask for help sometimes. You must gradually accept the fact that you can be a vulnerable human being, and that needing a strong emotional connection with your sexual partner (or a strong sexual connection with your soul mate) does not make you needy.

The first aspect Saturn in Scorpio makes is an easy-peasy trine to the Moon in Cancer at 9:02 p.m. Saturday (Saturn's Day); the more collectively significant, longer-lasting trine to Neptune at 0 Pisces occurs next Wednesday evening, on the heels of the Sun-Jupiter trine. But more on the Saturn-Neptune trine next post -- my hands are about to fall off, and I also happen to be taking antibiotics.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Harvest Moon: Thunder, Lightning...Apocalypse Now?

The Harvest Moon is exact tomorrow, Saturday 9/29, at 11:19 p.m. ET. (Please note that all times given are ET.) Under more normal conditions this would merely be an important Full Moon, for this stage of the lunar cycle always marks the culmination or climax of something. And the Full Moon in Aries always has something important to say about our relationship to ourselves as well as to our significant others. Under our current planetary conditions, hold on to your seats and take a deep breath: we are all in for a dark, stormy night.

The Full Moon will begin to be felt as early as 3:19 a.m. on Saturday, when the Sun opposes Uranus. Ego clashes and relationship troubles are very likely -- as are electrical fires and bizarre technical malfunctions. Individuals who have heart conditions or are accident prone are particularly vulnerable under this aspect.

We will barely have time to recover from the fallout of this explosive opposition before the Sun squares Pluto (exact 1:54 p.m.). Control issues and resentment over being controlled or exploited will come to a head. The balance of power is unbalanced, and the square indicates a real tug-of-war is likely. On the bright side, real healing can begin at this time -- but it is not going to tickle, because it involves letting go (an anathema to Pluto). Oh, and they also just ran out of anesthesia. You may feel compelled to transform at the same time that someone or something is holding you back; before you lash out at any jailors in your life, first look within to determine whether that holder-backer is, in fact, you.

The Moon in Aries conjuncts Uranus and squares Pluto shortly before the Full Moon, at 9:40 p.m. and 10:34 p.m., respectively. While the Solar aspects earlier in the day concentrated on crises of self-identity and ego clashes, the lunar aspects will home in on your emotional well-being -- how you really, truly feel, and what you really, truly need. With the conjunction between the Moon and Uranus, you may feel hotheaded, headstrong, and determined at all costs to have it your way. You may even run a literal fever. Even the most steady, levelheaded individuals may wind up doing something totally impulsive and out of character. If it is illegal or dangerous, arrest or death may result, as the Moon squares Pluto less than an hour after the conjunction.

This Harvest Moon will bring the notorious Uranus-Pluto square of 2012-15 (which was exact for the second time on 9/19) to everyone's attention in a deeply personal manner, via crises concerning self-identity, relationships, and emotional health. If you have up until now considered the Uranus-Pluto square a collective aspect that is "out there" and does not really affect you, this Full Moon may very well make you start singing a different tune.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

On the Edge of the Autumnal Equinox (a poem)

Last sunset of summer
over the Hudson River
from a Tribeca rooftop
through my wineglass --
a birthday party for
the Virgo girlfriend
of a Virgo ex.
It has been over three years
since I have been here.

My best friend brought a date
who is so rude that he leaves
before he drives her
to push him off the roof
for being hostile and uncouth.

I keep thinking I will leave
after one more glass of wine --
it does not happen.
It is a magical glass
that keeps refilling itself.
But what the hell:
the Moon is in Sagittarius,
which encourages excess.

The party's remnants
move from the roof to my ex's apartment
to smoke and drink. A pizza arrives
and I take a slice to absorb all the wine.
Three latecomers show up
just as I am about to leave --
I wind up staying till the party breaks up
because two are astrologers
visiting from the West Coast
and the other one knows her chart
and makes me feel smart.

Just a few blocks from home
I hold the door of a bodega open
to let in a large black cat with a white chin
that I have seen slinking down those aisles
of canned soups, sodas, and six packs.
A guy passing by exclaims how nice that was
of me to do, and asks me what I think
the cat's name is -- it's gotta be
something Arabic, right?
Without missing a beat, I reply "Halal,"
and as the guy laughs, I still can't believe it's nearly fall.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

New Moon in Virgo / Uranus-Pluto Square #2 / 12th-House Reflections

The New Moon in Virgo happens tonight at 10:11 p.m. EDT. (Please note that all times given are EDT.) This New Moon kicks off a busy astrological week. The final week of the summer of 2012 will most definitely go out with a bang, not a whimper:

Mercury enters Libra tomorrow (Sunday) at 7:22 p.m., leading up to the argumentative, confrontational aspects of Mercury opposing Uranus and squaring Pluto. Although both of these aspects occur on Thursday (6:24 p.m. and 7:19 p.m., respectively), we will get a taste of it tomorrow evening between 8:33 and 8:42 p.m., and it is likely not to taste good. Although the Moon transiting Libra normally indicates two and a half days of harmonious, diplomatic relating to one another, it has quite a different flavor in our current Uranus-in-Aries and Pluto-in-Capricorn era. The Moon-Pluto square and Moon-Uranus opposition marks the beginning of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year; I am very concerned of above-average incidents of anti-Semitic-induced fanaticism, clashes, and violence. If there are any rabbis reading this, please put in a request to double your temple's security.

Pluto turns direct at 1:05 a.m. on Tuesday; although outer planets' stationing direct or retrograde tend not to be that noticeable on an individual level, we will certainly be feeling this shift collectively, as it precedes the infamous, revolutionary, hotheaded yet cold-blooded Uranus-Pluto square -- two down, five to go. I am just now realizing that this summer is literally bookended by the Uranus-Pluto square, as the first one happened on June 24, just three days after the solstice, and #2 occurs on September 19, just three days before the equinox. Unless you have been in a coma, or in a spot of the world with no newspapers, TV, or Wi-Fi, you know how much unrest and jaw-dropping indignities have been going on in the world. (A lot.)

On a personal level (knock wood) I feel much better now, in just about every area, than I did in lateish June -- yet I admittedly have a sense of foreboding that I cannot seem to shake off. It's not so much the "be careful what you wish for" syndrome, but the feeling that all my heart's desires are balanced precariously atop a house of cards, or a fountain whose height and force are beyond my control, and I could lose it all in a heartbeat. In part this is a reaction to Neptune opposing my natal Venus, which will not be over and done with till early next year, but even the most stable, settled, successful souls cannot rest on their laurels under the Uranus-Pluto square. Any challenging aspect between these two outer planets -- Uranus the volatile, iconoclastic visionary that alternates between genius and madness; Pluto the cruel Godfather of the underworld with an equally strong potential for healing others' pain, but always the never-say-die phoenix rising from its own ashes -- turns the world and all its inhabitants upside down. No one can take anything for granted, even if it (and the possibilities are limitless -- a law, a lover, a career, a coastline) seems like A Sure Thing. Those who not just survive but thrive will have fast reflexes and be uncannily cunning, creating their own niches and, if necessary, their own rules. The most recent challenging aspect between Uranus and Pluto was the conjunction back in 1965-66; before that, a square back in the early 1930s. If you were not alive during either of these Uranus-Pluto eras, talk to those who were, watch some documentaries, read some books, and reflect on Mark Twain's observation about history: it may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

If roller coasters are not your cup of tea, you probably do not much care for the Uranus-Pluto square -- but unlike an amusement-park ride that you can politely decline in favor of the more sedate merry-go-round, you cannot sit this square out. Maybe by the third or fourth go-around you will get the hang of it, even if you would rather go home and go fetal. If you happen to adore roller coasters, it is also worth considering that the Uranus-Pluto square is not a ride that you have to stand on an endless line for and that is over way too soon; it is nearly three years of Real Life.

Speaking of Real Life, I wish I were a middle-class European, in order to be able to remove myself from the workaday fray each and every year between approximately August 22 and September 18, when the Sun transits my 12th House. With the exception of a few souls who are firmly ensconced in my heart, this is the time of year when the sound of an incoming text or phone call makes me wince, and work (the kind of I get paid to do) is the last area I want to focus on. If it were up to me, I would've spent the past three weeks (and the next three days) drifting, drawing, writing, inhaling movies and museums, daydreaming, beaching, sleeping, making love, lolling, recharging. All of these activities would make me a Very Bad American indeed, since the aim of most U.S. citizens is to take pride in being not merely busy, but monumentally, balls-to-the-wall, about-to-go-postal, blood-vessel-popping busy. This New Moon happens two degrees behind my Ascendant (and 1.5 deg. from my Pluto)...so close and yet so far away from the astrological time zone known as the 1st House. Oh well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What Happens When I Take My Eye off the Astrology Ball

Short answer: It's not pretty.

Long answer: Because I was unusually harried and pressed for time on Saturday afternoon, I failed to look ahead on my trusty astrology software program for the exact timing of two doozies headed my way: transiting Neptune opposing my natal Venus and transiting Mars conjuncting my natal Moon. I knew they were coming; I just didn't know how soon. Like, on Monday. And I was away from my 'pooter for the rest of the weekend.

Oops.

Part I: So Venus Walks into a Bar and Spills Her Drink on Neptune...

I raised a sensitive issue with my sweetie ca. noon yesterday instead of holding my water till the next time we got together. Pobody's nerfect, and a few hours later I made an effort to set things right by articulating myself better, and I think I succeeded. But try telling that to my mortified Venus in Virgo as Neptune exactly opposed it. It was a perfect storm of bad timing, hurt feelings, and yes, opposition. At the very least, I should've taken the Moon in Cancer into account before saying anything; emotions run pretty high during this lunar transit.

Part II: Moon-Mars Meltdown

The Moon may soothe an angry Mars, but the reverse just ain't so. As a Lunar Scorpion, I have no halfway feelings: I am either scaling the heights of ecstasy or plumbing the depths of despair; Zenning out or really pissed off; in hard-core downtime mode or wanting not just to connect, but to merge. Scorpio is an emotional Water sign, yet its Fixed quality makes it far more stubborn than its cousins Pisces and Cancer, and its ruler, Pluto, is a tough negotiator that dwells in the realm of extremes: birth, death, sex, taxes. It's the power behind the throne, not the performer in the spotlight. Mars in Scorpio is all about power and magnetism, and its capacity for getting shit done is truly amazing -- but when it's under stress, front and center is the last place it should be.

So what did I do when, upon returning home and perusing my astro software, I clearly saw that Mars was due to cross over my Moon shortly after 9 p.m.? Under the fog of Neptune still opposing my Venus, I went ahead with my plans to read at a performance series that I already had plenty good reason to think was no longer working out for my particular set of sensibilities -- in fact, with these misgivings in mind, I had already discouraged my sweetie from attending the show. I did not want to attend either, yet I decided that it would be a chicken-poop move to cancel unless I were truly ill, and feeling sad and worried did not count as such in my book. As my little crew of friends were not going to show up till later in the show, when the curator of the show asked me when I wanted to go on, I requested a late slot (which meant very, very close to the exact conjunction between Mars and my Moon). Most of the show went fine; unlike last month, most performers stuck around after their slot to shine; the venue was even air-conditioned (though it wasn't necessary, as NYC had cooled down considerably by sunset).

Then a dyed-redheaded woman, who looked to be smack in the middle of middle age, got up there and sang, then flat-out yelled, incoherent verses while banging a wooden spoon on the table closest to the stage. She reminded me of a mental Ethel Merman (Menthal Merman? Ethal Mental?). Like the Journey song "Don't Stop Believing," she went on, and on, and on, and on...till she managed to clear most of the room. With her bright red hair and headache-inducing racket, she may have been a manifestation of Mars on my Moon; my reaction was quite unusual for performance-mode me. When people understandably began jumping ship, I hot-footed it over to the back of the room to ask the curator of the show if he was planning on yanking this woman off The Gong Show anytime soon. He pointed out that I'd asked to be put on late; I thought, but did not reply, that this preference had nothing to do with the fact that Menthal Merman was causing a mass exodus. I myself nearly fled the venue without reading, but stuck it out and seethed during the next performance. I was most assuredly not "feeling it" when I was finally standing at the mic and peering out at several rows of empty tables and chairs. I apologized to the curator for my Moon-Mars meltdown, but I don't think I sounded too convincing.

And I think I know why.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moon / Labor Day Weekend Special: Mini Reading Discount!

Greetings, all ye readers both faithful and unfaithful:

Yours truly has got a "once in a Blue Moon" treat in store for you. If you contact me between now and 11:59pm (my time, which is EDT) on Labor Day (9/3), you will receive a special discounted mini reading, either by phone or written report, for just $20.20 (in honor of the crystal-clear vision that you may experience in the aftermath of this reading).

You can choose either a Mini Moon special, which will delve into the meaning of your natal Moon placement as well explore the situation of your progressed Moon, or

a Mini Mercury special, which will put you in closer touch with our solar system's innermost planet of communication and also just happens to rule Virgo, the Labor Day sign.

If you want both Minis, you need not make that choice; just double the above price to $40.40 and double your self-awareness.

To be sure, you can plug in your birth information into an astrology site and get instant gratification in the form of a free or nearly free reading on some or all of your planets -- a cookbook, black-and-white reading that cannot even begin to cop to nuance because all planetary descriptions are pre-written, cyber-canned, and have nothing to do with YOU. And forget about asking such a site any questions about your so-called report, or engaging in a dialogue.

If you value handcrafted, highly personalized authenticity over an instantaneous, one-size-fits-all approach, we have something in common. Hit me up at PlutoRisingAstrologer@Gmail.com with your exact birth information (including year, time of day, and city/state) and if you do not have a PayPal account, either open one or be ready to deal with the relative hassle and delay of money orders.

Once in a Blue Moon

This Blue Moon seems so close
Though in reality is so far away --
Dream yourself a little dream
Before you reenter the fray.

Let yourself imagine
Let yourself be magical
Let yourself howl at the Moon
Before you get too logical.

This month was born on a Full Moon
And is set to die on one, too --
The pearly orb will rise at sunset
And doesn't have to be sad, just blue.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

This Past Week Has Been the Equivalent of Changing Time Zones!

Greetings, my lovelies and uglies. In this final unofficial week of summer (officially, summer lasts till September 22), it is time to take stock of two major planetary shifts that occurred within the past week: the Sun's entry into Virgo (August 22) and Mars's entry into Scorpio (August 23).

The Virgo period pulls us away from such Leo-type venues, pursuits, and states of mind as the beach, parties, vacations, disco naps, and summer flings -- and toward literal or figurative freshly sharpened No. 2 pencils. The Sun-Neptune opposition on the 24th encouraged daydreaming and escapism, but now we are beginnning to feel the self-improvement bug. It's either back to school or back to the grind (even if you never really left the grind because to take even a week off would cost you your livelihood). It's that time of year to do what's good for you and take the long view, even if this mind-set is not nearly as much fun as your want-to-dos. However, with Mercury still lingering in Leo, there is still time to howl at the upcoming Full Moon in Pisces (which also happens to be a Blue Moon!) on Friday the 31st...and on the imminent Sun-Pluto trine (exact today at 8:20pm EDT), if you allow Pluto's shadowy, underworld rays to commingle with the Sun's more forthright ones, you may wind up with a tincture of magnetism, magic, and power to have some serious fun with.

And speaking of power, Mars in Scorpio has much more potential for that than Mars in Libra, a placement considered to be in its "detriment," as Libra is a Venus-ruled sign and far more concerned with maintaining harmony than dealing with conflict and desire. Mars transiting through Libra this summer had its ups and downs as well as side-to-sides, but most certainly affected (or infected) romantic relationships as well as politics. In the sign of Scorpio, however, Mars finds a true home; in fact, before Pluto's discovery in 1930, Mars was Scorpio's sole ruler. Therefore, Mars operates far more effectively in this fixed water sign. Coming to terms with sexual desires and ambition is a hallmark of this transit; so is shedding your skin to accommodate the considerable growth spurt you will experience between now and October 6. (If you were born with Mars in Scorpio, this transit will mark a Mars Return for you -- a double dose of business as usual.) That said, Mars is far from harmless when traveling through Scorpio...unless you consider a snake or eagle to be harmless. If you are unfortunate enough to make enemies with a Mars-in-Scorpio individual, rest assured that person will not only fail to forgive and forget, but also subscribes to the belief that revenge is a dish best served cold, so you will never see it coming.

On a personal note (for it's high time I reveal some of my steamy entrails), the change from Mars in Libra to Mars in Scorpio has breathed new life into my body, my soul, and my relationship with a certain Pisces who I have become increasingly convinced is the love of my li -- are your eyes turning green? I also lack equity, a steady job with benefits, still battle nightmares on a regular basis, and am about 15 lbs. overweight, which for a petite person like myself is the equivalent of twice that.

Now take out those freshly sharpened No. 2 pencils in case I decide to give you a pop quiz.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Very Special Episode of New Moon in Leo: Opportunity City!

Under so-called normal circumstances, Leo the Lion, king of the jungle, subscribes to a lie-by-the-fire laziness when it is not homing in on prey or partying hard. However, this New Moon in Leo, exact 11:54 a.m. EDT, forms a close, approaching sextile to Mars in Libra. The sextile is an aspect of opportunity; if you rouse yourself from your Casual Friday afternoon, something wonderful may very well meet you halfway. And that something is likely to be a someone, as Libra is all about relationships, and Leo is one of the more romantic signs of the zodiac. However, other manifestations may include art (either actively creating or actively appreciating), luxury, or exceptionally pleasing beauty.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ambivalent Ode to Jupiter in Gemini

Rapidly expanding and rhyming mind

Getting to know a new neighborhood—

Little sister and I playing nicely together

In many ways, my life is good.

On the flip side, though, I find

that I am overthinking more than I should

My evil twin is stormy weather

Whose tantrums recall toddlerhood.

I daydream during the daily grind;

Simple facts are misunderstood;

I am rudderless as a single feather

Floating above a darkened wood.

_____________________________________________ Jupiter is in Gemini between June 11, 2012, and June 26, 2013.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Post-Solar Return Musings

Despite my Solar Return's falling on Friday the 13th this year, nothing violent or even spooky went down. I spent the day counting my blessings, and the evening chowing down on homemade lobster rolls, potato salad, and "cool" slaw all put together by Chef Boyfriend. His daughters, cat, plus my bestie were on hand to help me celebrate.

That was the gourmand, cozy side of my birthday moon in Taurus; the musical side occurred two nights earlier, with the Moon just having entered Taurus and trining my Venus, and the Sun hitting the same degree of my natal Sun (20 degrees, for the curious). Mercury was squaring my Moon on Wednesday, yet it played out as healing energy between my little sister (a Sun in Scorpio) and me; she had very unexpectedly invited me up for a midweek visit to see the B-52's and Squeeze in Boston, at the seaport, and we had a wonderful time. Never before had I been in the front row of a concert, and it was magical. My sister and I dressed up, she in a silver dress and pink fishnets and me in a white sundresses patterned with pink flamingos, which I think both bands appreciated, as most concertgoers were casually dressed and a fair amount of eye contact occurred flowed between some of the musicians, me, and my sister. We barely sat down the whole evening, yet were not overheated by dancing due to being kissed by the Boston Harbor breeze.

During the Sun-Moon sextile yesterday afternoon, I swam at Brighton Beach and sketched. All in all, Wednesday and Friday more than made up for the fact that when my Solar Return was exact on Thursday afternoon, I was sending a fax instead of engaged in something less mundane.

Interestingly, although my progressed Moon is in Gemini, my SR Moon is at a critical degree (9) of Taurus, poised on the 7th House, and Mars is very close to conjuncting my Uranus. I plan not to play in traffic this year, and to do everything in my power to deepen and stabilize all my emotionally based relationships.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

'Twas the Night Before the Uranus-Pluto Square, and All Through the House...

...or shall I say "houses"?

A few posts ago I wrote about the upcoming Uranus-Pluto square; the first of seven (!) is exact tomorrow, June 24, 4:14 a.m. EDT.

I turn now to you, Dear Readers, to further enlighten (or endarken) me on this major aspect -- for although outer-planet aspects are collective and global in nature, the world is comprised of individuals.

If you know your birth chart, please write in and let me know in which houses the Uranus-Pluto square occurs, as well as any pertinent details as personal as you care to make them.

If you do not know your birth chart, but have been reading about the Uranus-Pluto square, how has this square been affecting you?

I am interested to hear from you whatever your sign, age, or experience of the square, but am especially interested in hearing from those of you who were born during the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of 1965-66, for the Uranus-Pluto square marks your official entry into midlife. Any interesting crises to report? Any predictions on the trajectory of your "X" generation?

How about those of you who were born a decade later, 1975-76, with natal Pluto at 8 degrees of Libra (which forms a stressful T-square to the already-stressful Uranus-Pluto square)? Post-Saturn Return but pre-midlife, are you energized or are you burning out?

And what's up with you even younger upstarts born in 1988, with Neptune at 8 degrees of Capricorn (conjunct transiting Pluto and square transiting Uranus)? Are you having a spiritual awakening, dissolving any walls or defenses, or are you having a full-fledged waking nightmare?

Okay, I will share first: the Uranus-Pluto square falls in my seventh (Uranus) and fourth (Pluto) houses. I have just moved (for the second time with Pluto transiting my fourth house of home), and it was extremely traumatic despite the overwhelmingly positive "realities" (location-location-location, plus cheaper rent). My relationship (seventh house) feels uneven and unstable (Uranus) partly due to the move and partly thanks to unexpected (Uranus again!) and unwelcome health issues brought on by too little sleep and too much stress (my sixth house of health and work is 29 degrees of Aquarius, and so is ruled by Uranus). And speaking of work, I have lost much of my freelance (oh, you're still here, Uranus?) momentum; I have little energy to hustle for projects, which is at least half the freelancer's battle. At least today, on the Sun-Neptune trine, I had a good day with my Neptune-ruled sweetie, first at my new place (Sun in Cancer) and then at the beach (Neptune in Pisces), though I could have lived without the annual Mermaid Parade crowd. Too bad my energy later drained to the point that I ended the night alone (oh, you Neptune, you).

Your turn. I thank you in advance for your candor.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Do you always look for the longest day and then miss it? I always look for the longest day and then miss it."

Had Daisy Buchanan, Dangerous Ditz Extraordinaire of The Great Gatsby, followed astrology, she surely would never have missed the longest day of the year -- the Summer Solstice, when the Sun enters the first summer sign of Cancer.

I have been somewhat MIA this month, as I had to go and move house under some extremely stressful aspects, including but not limited to the looming Uranus-Pluto square (see my last post for details on that aspect). However, I made it through in one piece (the Sun trined my natal Jupiter on M-day four days ago).

The sign Cancer concerns homemaking and this evening I am finally beginning to feel, after the past few weeks of packing madness and psychological dislocation, "at home." However, the lack of sleep and excess stress have taken their toll on my soul as well as my body. As much as my Pluto Rising cops to invincibility, with Mars just a degree and a half away from conjuncting my Pluto and Ascendant, I must take care of myself much better than I have been doing in recent weeks. This evening I have begun to do so, and in so doing, discovered a lovely herbal remedy shop in my new neighborhood; the helpful proprietor was "coincidentally" reading a book about astrology!

Stay tuned for my thoughts on the upcoming Jupiter-Neptune square, a challenging aspect overshadowed by the square between Uranus and Pluto.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Gathering Storm Clouds: Moon-in-Scorpio Thoughts on the Uranus-Pluto Square

The Uranus-Pluto square, the first of seven over the next three years, is exact in just three weeks, June 24. Yet we have been feeling its extremely difficult energy since last spring, when Uranus settled into its seven-year stay in Aries: the Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Going Still Further Down the Toilet global economy, global climate crises, the apocalyptic mood that homes in on 2012 as the end-times. Never mind that the Mayans themselves have discounted that one fragmented tablet; thanatos, the death wish, seems stronger than ever.

Greetings, Uranus-Pluto square! Long time no see. In fact, most of us on Earth haven't ever had the pleasure of making your volatile aquaintance, for last time you were in town was back in the early 1930s. It was the Great Depression. The U.S. got FDR and the New Deal; Germany got Hitler and "the Final Solution." Where will the chips fall this time, keeping in mind that while history may not repeat itself, it frequently rhymes? (Shout-out to genius Mark Twain.) Thanks to the technological advances of the past eighty years, we truly are the world nowadays; isolationism, aka a nation's sticking its collective head in the sand, simply isn't possible anymore. Yet the U.S. seems to have a little bit of a complex about being the world's policeman. Where is the balance? Not here, bro.

During the last Uranus-Pluto square, Neptune was in Virgo; one manifestation of that "famine" placement was the Dust Bowl of the U.S. Midwest. But now Neptune has begun its transit of the opposite sign, Pisces. Over the next fourteen years, the world's collective immunity to disease will weaken; pandemics (think bird flu to the Hitchcockian degree) are likely, and oceans (and marine life) will become more vulnerable to toxicity. Throw in the Uranus-Pluto square, and this goes far beyond a tempest in a teapot (or Tea Party). Start building your ark or oxygen tent now, and for God's sake don't move to Venice, even though it is possibly the most beautiful city on the planet.

Everything seems to be spinning out of control, and no one seems to have any rational solutions to anything. Collectively, the mood is one of increasing panic. I wonder if any world leaders follow astrology, or have an astrologer on their staff? Based on the rankness that's been going down, aka "the new normal," I seriously doubt it. As personal liberty and the concept of having something called options are threatened or simply ripped to shreds, revolution is inevitable. The tipping point will be reached during the Uranus-Pluto square era of 2012-15. Within the next three years, and probably a lot sooner than that, previously apathetic people of all nations will join last year's early birds, the canaries in the coal mines. Heads will roll and blood will be shed (Uranus in Aries) in a growing battle of individuals, and individuality, against corrupt, rigid governments, banks, corporations, "the 1%," and the Old Guard in general (all representative of Pluto in Capricorn). The revolution will b not merely televised (that's so 20th-century!), but online 24/7, in Google-translated techno-color and mad-mashup YouTube clips.

Pick your battles wisely during the next three years...before they pick you. On a lighter note, here in the Big Apple, our billionaire mayor had better prepare himself for legions of protestors -- fat, thin, rich, poor, healthy, sick -- to hurl Big Gulp sodas at his head.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Plutonian Profile: Etan Patz

Just one day shy of the 33rd anniversary of Etan Patz's disappearance on May 25, 1979, which occurred during his first solo walk between his SoHo home and his school bus stop a block and a half away, 51-year-old Pedro Hernandez confessed to having strangled the six-year-old boy in the basement of the bodega where he worked, then tossing Etan's lifeless body into the garbage.

I remember the vanishing of Etan Patz vividly, being just a couple of years older than Etan and growing up in a suburb of New York City. I also remember all of the kids at school being fingerprinted soon afterward. Kids surely were abducted throughout the 1970s, but somehow, this one struck a chord in the hearts of parents across the United States. Suddenly, missing kids were appearing on milk cartons, and non-missing kids were being warned of "stranger danger."

In my hometown, parental supervision did not seem to increase suddenly or dramatically post-Etan Patz, but perhaps it was just that I and my 1970-born classmates managed to stay one step ahead of a generational clamp-down as the freewheeling '70s ended and the more conservative '80s got under way. The majority of kids my age did not have hands-on baby boomer parents; more common were the distracted, divorcing, laissez-faire Silent generation parents. Throughout middle school I had to walk a relatively long distance--perhaps half a mile--to my bus stop every morning. I was probably less safe in the emptiness of early-morning suburban streets than I would've been in a city environment: no other pedestrians, very little traffic. At any time, a car could've pulled up and whisked me away forever. My own confession: sometimes I wished that exactly such a thing would happen, except that it would not end for me in sexual abuse and death, but a brand-new family.

It occurred to me to look at Etan Patz's natal chart, though his time of birth is unknown, and study it alongside the chart of his disappearance (approximately 8:02 a.m.) and finally against yesterday's confession. What I found was chilling -- and also that Etan was a Plutonian, having been born with the Moon in Scorpio. It seems more likely that a child with Sagittarius Rising would seek early independence than any other Ascendant, and Etan was born on a Sun-Uranus conjunction, adding a dose of rebellion uncommon to his Sun sign of Libra. Etan's appearance combined an all-American sportiness (Sagittarius Rising) with Sun-in-Libra charm (that lovely smile). His eyes, however, were purely Plutonian: an intense, penetrating, precocious gaze, as if his most essental, Moon-in-Scorpio self had already seen everything and knew what it was all about.

I have rectified Etan's chart to about 12:20 p.m., in order to place transiting Neptune at 19 Sagittarius on the day of his disappearance exactly conjunct his Ascendant; Neptune rules the act of vanishing, and the Ascendant is the physical body. Also, Etan's father, Stanley Patz, was a professional photographer (Neptune), and the photos he'd taken of his highly photogenic son wound up not only on milk cartons, but on posters and even a billboard in Times Square years after his disappearance. Also, with 19 degrees of Sagittarius Rising, Etan's natal Saturn in Gemini (in its worst manifestation, a youthful grim reaper) would conjunct his 7th-house cusp of Others.

On the morning of May 25, 1979, there was a Moon-Mercury conjunction in effect at 28 Taurus. The Moon rules young children; Mercury rules the hands; Taurus, the throat. This aspect alone would not indicate an innocent boy's being choked to death by a disturbed young man still in his teens, but two much heavier and disturbing aspects were at work that day: transiting Sun at 3 Gemini was just past the opposition to Etan's Neptune (another "gone missing" motif); also, and far more threatening, transiting Pluto at 16 Libra was retrograding over Etan's Sun, which literally pulled the boy into the underworld (in the form of a basement murder, most likely involving molestation since Pluto rules all aspects of sex, as well as death). Indeed, the fact that both Neptune and Pluto were Retrograde at the time of Etan's disappearance indicates a strong possibility that this boy had been targeted for some time. The abductor (whether it was Pedro Hernadez or Antonio Ramos, an incarcerated pedophile who had dated Etan's babysitter and admitted to seeing Etan that day, but claimed not to have anything to do with his demise) saw his chance and literally snatched it.

Although Etan was declared dead in 2001 (around the time of his Saturn Return), the case of the most famous missing child in New York City was reopened in 2010; last month Mars turned direct at 3 Virgo, and as it passed over Etan Patz's critical-degree Venus at 4 Virgo, a nearby basement belonging to a carpenter who had known the Patz family was excavated -- only to yield nothing. I do find it highly significant that Hernadez's confession occurred on the Solar Return of Etan Patz's disappearance, with the Sun at 3 Gemini. Venus Retrograde is approaching Etan Patz's Saturn, which may bring some form of belated justice -- just as transiting Jupiter in Taurus is approaching the Moon-Mercury conjuction that occurred on this day in 1979. Interestingly, transiting Neptune at 3 Pisces is within range of forming a T-square between Etan's Neptune and the Sun on the day of his vanishing. Perhaps Hernadez had been starting to feel so guilty and tormented over his heinous crime of over three decades ago that he had to confess -- though oddly, he had already confessed long ago to relatives about killing a boy in New York.

The full truth of this tragic case may not ever be unearthed, but today, which is officially Missing Children's Day, is certainly throwing the spotlight on an issue that has been at the forefront of national consciousness for the past three decades: how to care for and protect one's children. Unfortunately, as with so many things in the United States, we seem incapable of moderation, of striking a healthy balance. My "X" generation was mostly left alone to fend for ourselves; most of us survived, some of us have thrived, and some of us are scarred. Yet it seems that today's generation of American children are smothered to the extent that I worry if they will be able to think and act for themselves when they come of age -- and also if they, in turn, will wind up underprotecting if not downright neglecting their own children a few decades down the road.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Venus Is Retrograde; Sun and Neptune Are Square: Land of Confusion

Greetings and salutations, my fellow stargazers. I haven't been posting in the past couple of weeks because quite frankly, I've been astrologically uninspired as well as busy with more mundane matters.

So Venus turned Retrograde in Gemini on May 15, and will stay Retrograde till June 27. You may be of at least two minds about love, art, and aesthetics during this time. If you are usually articulate and communicative, you may be experiencing frustration because either you or a loved one has the stopper-in-the-throat syndrome. Gemini is not the most indecisive sign of the zodiac (that would be its air-sign cousin Libra), but it's probably the silver medalist. It engages in much back-and-forth, wanting to keep all options on the table and all doors open to satisfy its whimsical nature. Gemini also generally overthinks things while not knowing what it feels, since emotions are not Gemini's department. This is absolutely not a good time to press for any romantic commitments. Even regular socializing, which tends to bring pleasure while Venus transits the social-butterfly sign of Gemini, may be hard going. If you throw a party during the Retrograde Venus period, do not be surprised if fewer people turn up than expected. If you are a poet, however, this is an auspicious time to revise your verse (especially if it's witty and/or rhymes).

The Sun-Neptune square, exact today at 4:57 p.m. ET, is a pain, a drain, and feels like rain (even if the Sun is in fact shining where you live). Energy and enthusiasm are low. It's not a good aspect for the respiratory system; in my neck of the woods, many individuals are suffering from hay fever or a cold. If you can unplug yourself for a little while, take a disco nap. If you can't, don't just double-check whatever it is you're doing (whether you're in the office, running errands, behind the wheel, etc.): triple-check it. Even usually alert souls may be dragging, or feeling out of it. And even teetotallers may experience the urge to have a drink or three.

The fog will dissipate somewhat after the square, but on Friday a similar aspect (Mercury square Neptune) will put us back in the land of confusion.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sun in Taurus + Moon in Scorpio = Buddha Moon

This may be my favorite Full Moon of the year, as it is the same Sun-Moon combo as Siddhartha Gautama, aka the Buddha, was born under. Born into luxury and privilege (as represented by the Sun in Taurus), Siddy chose to kick himself out of a sheltered, edenic existence and live out to the fullest his Scorpio Moon, an intense placement full of angst, challenges, and pitfalls (indeed, the Moon is traditionally held to be in the sign of its "fall" in Scorpio)...but with the greatest potential out of the entire zodiac for enlightenment, transformation, and ecstasy.

Just for fun a couple of years ago, I took a test on "OKStupid" to see which religious founder I most resembled, and the answer was none other than Buddha. I took that as the ultimate cyber-compliment, even as I realized that I am "detachment challenged."

Taurus and Scorpio are both Fixed signs and therefore are loath to let go of anything or anyone, out of fear of losing control or appearing weak. The paradox, of course, is that by letting go, you are more likely to have your heart's desire fall into your lap and never let go of you.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mercury Square Pluto: Sticks & Stones, Concealing vs. Revealing

If you do not know whether you should spill the beans or keep mum, join the club (or not). If you are caught between keeping your own counsel or confiding in someone you "should" ostensibly trust, yet are getting a funny vibe from, welcome to the dilemma of the upcoming Mercury-Pluto square (exact 4/25 at 10:50 a.m. EDT).

Mercury communicates on the road, in the air, and through the rye; Pluto communicates if and when it damn well feels like it, in its own inscrutable, relentless way, since trust and power are often major-league Issues-with-a-capital-I. The face-off between these two planets should make for some interesting fireworks (especially since Mercury is in the fire sign Aries) but also some intense burns.

Verbal manipulation or downright abuse is all too likely, so be prepared either to fight back or steer clear of any black belts in tongue karate. Any long-suffering resentment will boil over now, so if you know you're on someone's shit list and cannot avoid that person (particularly a sibling or neighbor), try to make gracious and sincere amends, even if it is long overdue. People are far more likely to obsess over perceived wrongdoings under the square, and it will be difficult not to be on the defensive.

If you find that you cannot crack an important code under this aspect, or are unable to suss out someone's true motives (including your own), take a deeeeeeep breath and come back on Thursday, when the Moon enters the intuitive water sign Cancer. Under a Mercury-Pluto square, what is hiding in plain sight may just as well be swallowed up by shadows or buried six feet under.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Moon in Taurus: Stop and Smell the Roses

If flowers aren't your cup of tea, then plan this weekend to indulge yourself and tickle your senses in other ways: perhaps in the form of a truffle (either a real one from the ground or a chocolate one from a bakery), a glass of fine wine, a decadent picnic or breakfast in bed, a silk shirt or feather boa, a bubble bath, a concert, a trip to the museum, a visit to a spa, and/or a session of long, luxuriant lovemaking with your favorite person (which could be yourself).

All of the above suggestions fall within the purview of the New Moon in Taurus. Springtime is solidly here (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). All the senses are heightened. Get drunk on beauty, comfort, art, and love. Even if you are a bitter, twisted soul, please run the risk of ruining your reputation by finding something or someone that will bring you unbearable pleasure and make you feel blessed to be alive.

And how apropos that Earth Day this year occurs during the New Moon in the first Earth sign! Remember to give love, care, and thanks to the planet that houses us by doing your bit to reduce your own personal carbon footprint, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles such as corporations and entire nations that do not even pretend to care about the environment.

Particularly auspicious windows of time (given in EDT) this weekend include the Moon-Pluto trine (exact this evening at 7:25 p.m.), which lends manageable, harmonious intensity to the emotions; the Sun-Neptune sextile (exact 4/22 at 5:20 a.m.), which encourages the imagination and good dreams; and the Moon-Jupiter conjunction (exact 4/22 at 1:10 p.m.), which suggests both emotional and material bounty. We are also within range of the Sun-Mars trine (exact 4/23 at 8:59 p.m.), which suggests that the weekend's pleasures, far from hindering your physical energy and focus, will help.

Unrelated to the New Moon energy, but still important to mention, is the Mercury-Uranus conjunction in Aries. Exact on Sunday at 4:30 p.m., could give you a most unexpected and brilliant brain wave, or the solution to a problem that has been troubling you for some time.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mars Finally Turns Direct: Get Your Motor Running

That's right, Mars finally gets its ass in gear and is ready to move forward after nearly three months of being in retrograde.

I don't know about you, but Mars is stationing direct not a moment too soon. (Tonight at 11:53 p.m. EDT, to be precise.) Mars retrograde in Virgo, in my 12th house since last November, has been the absolute pits: bad dreams, overwork, work instability, anxiety, low energy, minor but annoying health issues.

Wherever Mars has been retrograde in your chart, I cannot imagine it's been a picnic for you, either. This is because Mars retrograde is never fun; Mars, of all the planets in our solar system, is the most about full-throttle forward motion. Plus, Mars is not very comfortable in cautious, detail-oriented Virgo anyway (though it's by no means the worst sign for the red planet -- that honor goes to Cancer, a moody-blues placement that I myself have and can therefore vouch for its, um, issues).

Mars turning direct should make us all breathe a collective sigh of relief, but please take note that all those irritating Mars-in-Virgo issues that we have been haunted by since late January will need to be dealt with once again -- more accurately, for a third time, since Mars whipped through the first 24 degrees of Virgo between last November and this January before turning retrograde.

In other words, in terms of energy and motivation (Mars) as well as work, health, and anything involving detail (Virgo), we are back in mid-November. You can look at this as a do-over, a chance to rectify wrongdoings and take more responsibility for both your physical and mental well-being. The time is right to refine your self-identity so that by early July, you will be ready and able to celebrate your own personal harvest. Or you can be a scared little brat and resolve to avoid reality. The choice is yours.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Venus Square Mars: A Dialogue

Venus in Gemini: Hey you big stud, what say we go out tonight and paint the town red?

Mars in Virgo: Well, I don't know about that. I really have so much work to catch up on this weekend, and my place is a mess. I should do some serious spring cleaning.

VG: Aw, come on, don't be such a party pooper. In just a few hours it'll be Saturday night! I know you secretly want to come out and have some serious fun with me.

MV: Maybe you're right...all work and no play makes Mars in Virgo a dull placement. Did you have anything in particular in mind funwise?

VG: I knew I could convince you with my sweet silver tongue. Well, a new friend of mine told me about this totally outrageous all-night dance party her party-promoter twin brother is throwing in an abandoned warehouse somewhere in [fill in dicey yet hip neighborhood]. She promised to text me the info at some point this evening. There will be a cover charge, but not too steep, and maybe I can get a plus-one for you. I know you're always watching your wallet.

MV: Are you quite sure that this party is legal?

VG: Of course it's legal! Since when is it a crime to have a throwdown? I don't think the warehouse is even really abandoned. A bunch of artists are living there. Anyway, like I said, it's not even my friend's idea, but her twin's, the party promoter. So you can ask him all about it later.

MV: [Hedging] Well, maybe we can discuss this more over dinner? I'd really like to cook for us tonight. I found an interesting recipe in my new macrobiotic cookbook...or [catching the look of disgust crossing VG's face] maybe I could throw some salmon filets on the grill and make us one of my famous salads?

VG: Honestly, darling, I haven't given dinner a second thought. I may just take a disco nap and have a pint of ice cream for dinner. Or we could check out this restaurant I just read about on [insert name of semi-underground weekly online newsletter]. It's not really an official restaurant. This couple cooks, like, a vat of spaghetti and meatballs out of their own home every Saturday night and they allow a certain number of customers to show up if you call a few hours in advance. They have, like, this big picnic table in their living room people can just sit around and chow down.

MV: [Trying and failing to keep a neutral expression and tone] Well, that sounds...interesting. But you know, I was kind of hoping for some quiet time together first, especially if we might go out to a loud dance party later.

VG: [With possibly genuine compassion] Sure, I understand. It can be hard to talk intimately in a crowd. But think of how much fun it would be to meet some interesting new people. If we went to this pseudo restaurant, maybe we'll wind up doing something completely different afterward...like, I dunno, nighttime hang gliding! But whatever we do will be more romantic if we don't plan it out too much or overthink it. [Bell-like giggling] Really, planning's for suckers. It's better to leave all options on the table and not get hung up on pesky details. Especially on a Saturday night.

MV: Why do you always have to be such a Holly Golightly? Why do you constantly feel compelled to raise frivolity and small talk to an art form?

VG: Why do you always have to be such a boring, hypercritical, stick-in-the-mud buzz kill?

MV: Well, if you feel that way about me, why did you even bother asking me to do anything with you tonight? I'd only cramp your style, after all.

VG: [Perhaps genuinely perplexed, perhaps not] What?! You asked me.

MV: No. I. Didn't! You asked me quite flirtatiously, as well. Do you not remember anything you said just a few minutes after you've said it, even if it's provocative? I think what's really going on here is that you are using me. You know I'm much more safe, stable, and reliable than anyone else in your life, and can therefore be counted on to get your charming behind out of all sorts of dubious situations at all hours of the night.

VG: What on earth are you talking about? Sheesh. All right, I admit it's very nice that I can count on you...but if I were really using you, I'd just call you to rescue me from wherever at four in the morning, and not even bother bringing you along in the first place!

MV: [Resigned] Fine, I'll pick you up at 7:37 p.m. sharp. Please try to be ready, for a change. And you're wearing your seat belt this time, or else I refuse to drive you anywhere tonight.

VG: Yeah, right.

This dialogue was brought to you by the transiting Venus-Mars square between Gemini and Virgo, exact this evening at 7:37 p.m. EDT.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mercury Turns Direct; Full Moon Fever

Mercury is one of those pesky planets in that it nearly always seems to be retrograde. Actually, Mercury only turns retrograde (from Earth's perspective, that is; planets never actually reverse their respective orbits around the Sun) three times a year. However, each retrograde period lasts about three weeks, making approximately nine weeks out of each year a Mercury retrograde period.

Enough has already been written, here and elsewhere, about the communication breakdowns, travel delays, mysterious losses, and technical difficulties that are common when Mercury is retrograde. Therefore, I will concentrate on the meaning of Mercury stationary direct (i.e., barely moving at all before it gains its customary speed), as well as this stationary directness occurring on a Full Moon.

When Mercury is stationary, it is a particularly fortuitous time to meditate (to let go of all conscious thought) as well as to concentrate (to sustain laserlike focus on a thought). This is the paradox of Mercury, particularly Mercury in the mutable, double-bodied sign of Pisces. If you are a visual thinker, or an artist, you may come up with some pretty stunning images at this time. You may be slow to absorb information at this time, but on the other hand, you are unlikely ever to forget what you are now learning.

On the upcoming Full Moon in Libra, it is particularly important to reopen the lines of communication that had been closed off or snarled up for the past three weeks. The next two days present a great opportunity to clarify and improve relationships of all kinds, especially if they are romantic or business-oriented in nature. Emotions do run high on the Full Moon, though, so try to keep your head (Sun in Aries) while the Moon in Libra works its charm. This will also the Passover Full Moon, so relationships will be front and center at many a Seder.

Monday, April 2, 2012

My So-Called Midlife Crisis (Part I): The Pluto Square

In common with my "X" generation, I experienced one major outer-planetary aspect a full half decade earlier in life than the Silents and Boomers who may or may not have raised us: the Pluto square. Transiting Pluto in Sagittarius squared my natal Pluto in Virgo three times when I was but a relatively fresh 35- and 36-year-old (as opposed to the prototypical Boomer, whose Pluto square occurred after age 40).

At that time (the mid-zeroes, the mid-aughts, the mid-naughties?) I was terrified at the fallout that would surely occur on this long-awaited-for and equally dreaded-for square, as my Pluto is not only conjunct my Ascendant, but almost exactly square my 4th-house cusp. I was more than half convinced that with transiting Pluto entering my 4th house on a square to my natal Pluto, I would lose my home in some violent way (meteor shower, misguided bombshell, terrorist attack on my building), and that this loss would effectively murder my self-identity (as a Cancerian, my home life to a large degree is my self-identity).

Since the 4th house is also the domain of family, I was also counting on attending at least one, more likely two funerals: my father's, who had been fighting stage-4 melanoma for the past five years, and my EG's (evil granny), who had been diagnosed with dementia (the very definition, in my non-humble opinion, of redundancy).

I also worried that the sexier side of Pluto would take a powder, and perhaps never return.

Not one of my predictions for the Pluto square occurred.

What did happen during this transit was mostly positive from my Plutonian perspective. I was on fire creatively, cranking out many short stories I dubbed "neurotica," as they were both sexually explicit and psychologically oriented, which formed an as-yet-still-unpublished collection of stories, and was test-driving these stories at a very good reading series in Brooklyn's nabe-of-the-moment Williamsburg. Far from being a loner, I was socializing much more than I had at the beginning of the decade. Workwise, I was getting plenty of freelance projects without having to hustle too much for them. I was generally satisfied with my outer appearance; I ate what I pleased yet remained slender, in part because I lived on the 4th floor of a walkup building and so had a built-in StairMaster. My love life was...well, let's just say it was neither nonexistent nor boring. Sure there was plenty of Plutonian drama, but for me it was BAU (business as usual).

I am sharing all this with you for a reason other than self-absorption: if you happen to be a Dear Reader in your mid-30s and are anticipating that the fit is going to hit the shan when Pluto squares your Pluto, ask yourself how well you tend to use Pluto's energy. In other words: How comfortable are you with plumbing the depths, with opening yourself up to inner transformation (as opposed to simply dying your hair blue or getting a sleeve tattoo)? Do you own your power in a, well, empowering as opposed to ruthless and unprincipled manner? Do you express your sexuality in such a way that it revitalizes you instead of drains you? Are you honest with money, or are you a goniff?

What I am saying is that it's entirely possible that the Pluto square will give you more strength and inspiration instead of only taking things away from you, as the cookbook-type astrology books would lead you to believe.

Or maybe I was just lucky and dodged a bullet back in 2006, because the following year was a far rockier road, almost unredeemably sucky.

Stay tuned for "My So-Called Midlife Crisis (Part II): The Neptune Square."