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."