Monday, December 21, 2015

Welcome the Winter Solstice

With so much gloom and doom in the news, I was pleased to see that a powerful kite configuration is in effect as winter is born.

Specifically, there is a grand trine between Moon in Taurus, Mercury in Capricorn, and Jupiter in Virgo, with Venus opposing the Moon and forming a sextile to Mercury and Jupiter.

Kites are said to be a strong configuration because the grand trine is given a kick in its complacent ass via an opposition -- which in turn does not cause as much stress as a simple opposition, due to its friendly relations with the grand trine's other two planets.

This particular kite, due to the influence of earth and water elements, is not as apt to fly as is it to dig, ponder, sculpt, analyze, and tap in to deep intuition and mysticism.

In New York City, the Sun's ingress into Capricorn falls near the IC (aka 4th-house cusp), emphasizing home and family. Since 28 degrees of Virgo is on the Ascendant, the chart ruler is Mercury, which is also placed in the 4th house. Remember that Mercury is also involved with the kite, which suggests that at least in this neck of the woods, at this time of the season, communication with family is even more important than a 4th-house placement already would be.

In the NYC winter solstice chart, Jupiter and the North Node are just behind the Ascendant; there could be some hidden protection, even a guardian angel, at work (especially at work, though health is also involved). Jupiter is known for excess and travel, but placed in Virgo, going totally overboard is unlikely.

One word of caution: heed the approaching square between Mercury and Mars. With Mars placed on the 2nd house cusp in Libra, it seems likely that many arguments in the home will be about overspending and conflicting values and/or aesthetics. Mercury in practical, thrifty Capricorn may turn into a porcupine or cactus during that square (exact 12/29), while Libra's scales are knocked off balance.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Polarity in Astrology, and Permanent Masks

Greetings, my astrologically inclined lovelies and uglies.

It's been exactly a month since my last post. Frankly, I've been too busy wearing another one of my work hats, as well as too depressed about current events, to write. I don't really feel like repeating my last post to explain the more recent mass shootings, political madness, and global warming issues -- though I suppose I will have to write more about the Saturn-Neptune square at some point, as it is not over by a long shot. In fact, this will be the defining aspect of 2016. I think of it as a combination hangover / wake-up call in the aftermath of the tumultuous Uranus-Pluto square of 2012-15.

But enough on that. Before I start on my next work project that has nothing to do with waxing astrological, I feel like getting back to basics.

One of the most ignored tenants of astrology is also one of the most fascinating: polarity. The quintessential symbol of polarity is the yin-yang symbol: everything must contain a drop of its opposite. A good concrete example of zodiacal polarity is the solstice, which occurs twice a year. In the Northern Hemisphere, the days are now at their shortest, yet as soon as winter is born on December 21, the days start to grow longer -- meaning that the opposite season, summer, is also born. This also holds true on the Summer Solstice: as soon as summer is born, the days begin to shorten, so a drop of winter is contained at the height of summer.

Every house is connected to its opposite house by an axis, so that a planet conjunct the cusp of a house will be felt on the opposing house cusp like a fish tugging on a line. Especially if these house conjunctions occur between the Ascendant and the cusp of the 6th house, it is very, very hard to keep in mind that such planets are felt by others -- that such planets affect your relationship with others. This is because houses 1 through 6 are all about the "I" in you, from self-identity and physical body (1st house) to self-worth, value system, and personal finances (2nd house) to how you think and communicate (3rd house) to your home (4th house) to creative self-expression and romantic style (5th house) to your job and health (6th house). Naturally, there are other facets to the first 6 houses; for example, siblings and neighbors are found in the 3rd house. But the first 6 houses, just like the first 6 signs of the zodiac (Aries through Virgo), are mainly about the self, while the second 6 houses and corresponding second half of the zodiac (Libra through Pisces) are more about relating to others.

For example, the last thing a Virgo Rising native wants in his or her life is chaos or vagueness. Someone with a Virgo Ascendant, even more so than a Virgo Sun (though of course a Virgo born around sunrise will also have Virgo Rising), defines him- or herself through orderliness, if not downright neat-freakness. Interestingly, Virgo rules schedules, while Pisces is the domain of the more mystical-sounding rituals. Yet for Mr./Ms. Virgo Rising, a schedule has the profundity, comfort, and ecstasy of a ritual. Perhaps this is because Virgo Rising is so detail-oriented that its true religion is to keep tabs on everything, to know where everything is -- ideally, in its "right" place. Yet every house is connected to its opposite, so Mr./Ms. Virgo Rising finds the chaos or vagueness, all right: in the 7th house, the realm of one's "better half" (hopefully) in love, as well as any business partners. This can get especially frustrating for a Virgo Rising because contracts, an important facet to the 7th house, are antithetical to the nature of Pisces, which prefers not to make plans but to go with the flow and keep all options open. (This does not mean that someone with a Pisces Sun will refuse to put anything in writing; I am talking about the purest manifestation of a sign, which is not the same as considering the complex energy of an individual's chart, which contains 10 planets in various signs. That said, it is a rare fish indeed that cottons on to contracts, blueprints, and clear-cut answers.)

Remember how your mother or grandmother warned you as a child that if you kept making that nasty or silly face, your face would wind up freezing that way? Well, in the case of a planet conjunct the Ascendant, it's the truth. A Rising Planet can be likened to a mask (or costume) that cannot be removed; in time, it becomes the native's true face and flesh. This is because planets, which embody various kinds of energy, are always more powerful than the zodiacal signs, which are zones in the sky that need planets to express their nature.

If our hypothetical Virgo Rising native has Venus conjunct the Ascendant, that means that others (in other words, those important, one-on-one relationships coming from the 7th house) will see him or her as beautiful, affectionate, romantic, and artistic -- a sweet cupcake who wants to keep the peace. And since planets are more powerful than signs, this perception will be correct... until, that is, Mr./Ms. Virgo Rising can no longer ignore Mr./Ms. 7th House's greasy stove top, the farm of dust bunnies frolicking across the living room floor, or the fact that a crucial or keenly anticipated experience cannot happen due to poor or nonexistent planning. This is because Venus in Virgo does not just crave order -- this placement loves it, and will fight for it even if it normally avoids conflict.

A planet will always modify the nature of the ascending sign. Personally, I consider Pluto conjunct Virgo Ascendant to be the Clark Kent position: all I need is a pair (or three) of cat-eye glasses for my persona to appear dorky, bookish, and slightly eccentric (thanks to my also having a 1st-house Uranus). But my few true intimates of the 7th house know better, and for that, I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ash vs ISIS: Saturn Square Neptune, Round 1

In the week leading up to Halloween, my cinephile sweetie introduced me to the first two Evil Dead movies, which I enjoyed so much (especially the first one) that I am now very deeply into the new TV show Ash vs Evil Dead. I guess the combination of over-the-top gory violence (that aficionados call "gruel"), the occult, and snarky humor really tickles my funny bone.

And on an approaching Saturn-Neptune square, the revival of Ash could not come at a more appropriate time.

(Warning: There Be Spoilers Here.)

Ash thought his job was done 30 years ago (interestingly, a Saturn cycle), but one night of stoned revelry spent reading from the wrong book of poetry with a foxy date has unleashed those damned demons...aka the evil dead, who specialize in taking over the bodies and souls of live and dead humans, who become puppets that kill indiscriminately and a lot. With just three episodes aired, there has been enough gruel splattered for three full-length films, with the addition of something suspiciously Neptunian afoot: Ash has to figure out a way to go within himself in order to undo the spell he unleashed while under the influence of the Demon Weed. Ash must go inside because the plan to conjure up a so-called lesser demon to get the answer went horribly awry.

With Paris reeling from last Friday's Islamic terrorist attacks, confirmation that a terrorist bomb had indeed been responsible for bringing down a Russian jet plane over Egypt on Halloween, the escalation of military retaliation in Syria, U.S. governors (who thankfully have no real say in the matter) opining that Syrian refugees should not be welcomed, and airline bomb threats, this is a job not for Superman, but for Ash: the Ash in all of us, the post-traumatic-stress-syndrome survivor of the still-warm Uranus-Pluto square of 2012-15.

Many souls did not make it through this three-year aspect of intense brutality and gross economic imbalance; the evil dead is alive and very unwell. Those of us who did survive may be bone-weary and going through survivor's guilt. But on a Saturn-Neptune square, there is no rest for the weary. And the key may very well be to go within (Neptune in Pisces) for the solution, for Saturn in Sagittarius is hard at work destroying whatever faith we may still have left in such Sagittarius-ruled institutions as universities and organized religion. And the most negative manifestation of Saturn in Sagittarius can be summed up in one acronym that has managed to usurp my favorite Egyptian deity: ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

Please do not understand me too quickly; I am not trashing the vast majority of Muslims. I am taking issue with the twisted, oppressive, death-wish militants whose idea of good, clean fun is holy war culminating in an apocalyptic battle in Dabiq, Syria, where the "Roman army" (the West) will bite the dust. After that, ISIS maintains, Jesus shows up and kills an Iranian who is the anti-Messiah. We all die, and ISIS groupies get raptured and go to heaven.

Ponder how the recent Uranus-Pluto square has given more power to extremists in all areas of life: not just religion, but in politics, economics, education, popular culture, family values. There are no 50 shades of gray; "the new normal" is either pitch black or snow white. With nuance lacking, it is tempting to romanticize a past that wasn't all that great the first time around, and it is especially difficult to find true solutions, as opposed to Band-Aids, empty platitudes, and emptier promises.

The Saturn-Neptune square indicates that on a mass level, we are soul-sick, disenchanted, and/or deluded. Those of us with open minds may be unsure what to believe in, the very concept of "reality" up for grabs. Others will stubbornly persist in keeping their eyes wide shut. In the mutable signs Sagittarius and Pisces, this square cannot settle down. On a bodily level, our mass immune system is compromised; there will be more fallout from the anti-vaxxer movement, which was in the news earlier this year when Saturn first entered Sagittarius. Climate-wise, out-of-control fires as well as flooding are likely.

The first of three Saturn-Neptune square of 2015-16 is exact on November 26, which happens to be on Thanksgiving; the Moon in Gemini forming an opposition to Saturn and a square to Neptune might make freedom of movement, i.e., travel, quite difficult, as well as whipping up distrust between neighbors -- either on a personal level or between next-door countries.

As the phoenix rises from its own ashes, as the character of Ash must find his inner phoenix to break a doomsday spell, so must those of us who refuse to give up rise up from our own extinguished embers and find something authentic to believe in (Neptune) and commit to (Saturn). Something found not outside ourselves, but inside our souls (Neptune), something that can be structured and harnessed (Saturn), a war worth fighting. Something that could take a long time (Saturn) to bring to fruition, but must be started ASAP. Uranus is in Aries till early 2019; war against ISIS, whether on the ground or at arm's length (airstrikes, a puppet government in Syria) is inevitable though not enviable considering the loss of lives that will ensue. The Saturn-Neptune square is already defining the next U.S. presidential election. Both on a large scale and on a more personal one, lives should matter as far more than a hashtag. The stakes for survival have never been higher. May those of us who truly value life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness lift our heads up high and rise to the challenge.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Special Friday the Thirteenth Edition: Proud Triskaidekaphile

Greetings, Lovelies and Uglies.

It's been a while since I've checked in, and I thought it would be appropriate to break the silence with a thumb's-up to Friday the 13th, especially since today happens to be my sister's birthday.

Thirteen has long been considered an unlucky number, yet Judaism, the religion in which I was raised, considers 13 to be not only lucky, but spiritually significant. The number 13 abounds in Judaism, from the age of a bar/bat mitzvah to the 13 hermeneutic principles to Abraham's 13 covenants with God to the 13 attributes of divine mercy to Jewish numerology, in which the words ahavah (love) and echad (one) equal 13. Oh yes -- I was also born on the 13th.

Thirteen is also one number past the 12 signs of the zodiac, implying transformation -- a Scorpio specialty. It is therefore highly fitting that the number 13 in Tarot (the much-feared and misunderstood Death card) and numerology are both associated with the sign Scorpio.

Friday the 13th is particularly feared, but what exactly is so bad about Friday? This is considered to be the day of the week ruled by Venus, apropos for the start of the weekend. I would think that Monday the 13th would be far more feared. However, Venus is in its detriment in Scorpio -- implying that this day does not blend easily with the number 13.

Today features two sextiles, the aspect of opportunity: Venus-Saturn and Mercury-Jupiter. Specifically, the sextile between Venus in Libra and Saturn in Sagittarius encourages a positive sense of purpose and structure with a loved one (in other words, it's okay to make definite plans), while the sextile between Mercury in Scorpio and Jupiter in Virgo encourages moving one's mind out of the shallow end of the pool and plumbing the depths (in other words, it's more than okay to ponder the meaning of existence).

Till next time, have a great rest of Friday the 13th.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Collective Insanity of the USA: Why Gun Control Is Doomed Here

With another gun-fueled school massacre in the body bag, and with the responses including balloons, teddy bears, sympathy for the victims and their families, and calls for mental health vigilance and gun control, let me explain why the latter will never happen in the United States of America.

The nation's natal chart (July 4, 1776, 5:13 p.m., Philadelphia, PA) features a Mars-Neptune square and a Mercury-Pluto opposition. The opposition is separating thanks to the fact that Mercury is Retrograde in Cancer, but this aspect is strengthened because Mercury is in the 8th House (naturally ruled by Pluto). A Mercury-Pluto opposition is a hallmark of paranoid thinking; this aspect would prefer to beat the enemy with slanderous words, but whatever weapon is employed, obliteration is the aim. A Mercury-Pluto opposition also believes that playing fair is for suckers, while hitting below the belt (Pluto) is just plain smart.

The US's Mars-Neptune square is an even more dangerous aspect because it is closely approaching, with Mars in Gemini in the 7th House (manifesting in other people with itchy trigger fingers) and Neptune in Virgo, the sign of its detriment, in the 9th House of legal matters. Whereas Mercury thinks, plots, and communicates, Mars acts.

Any aspect involving Mars and Neptune can have a hard time telling fantasy from reality, and can entertain downright disturbing fantasies. When Mars-Neptune forms a sextile or trine, a powerful imagination and a drive to be creatively productive can result (I have the trine, and am very thankful for it), but the more challenging aspects can manifest in downright craziness. Please don't understand me too quickly; if you happen to have a Mars-Neptune square, opposition, or a conjunction in your natal chart, I am not saying that you should be taken away in a butterfly net. However, if you are truly honest with yourself (something an afflicted Mars-Neptune combo cannot always manage), you will see this is a downright troublesome aspect that often causes great conflict within yourself as well as with the people in your orbit. You might think the insanity is always coming from others, not from yourself, but you just might be mistaken. To repeat my earlier observation about US's Mars: placed in the 7th House of "others," it is always someone else who is the problem. The US simply cannot own (i.e., take responsibility for) its own Mars.

It is the US's Mars-Neptune square that glamorizes (Neptune) firearms (Mars). It is the US's Mars-Neptune square that is responsible for the "we're so exceptional" delusion (more Neptune). It is the US's Mars-Neptune square that also dictates the "pull yourself up (Mars) by your own bootstraps (Neptune)" attitude and therefore denies universal health coverage or anything else that smacks of "socialism."

At the dawn of the recent Uranus-Pluto square, back in December 2012, 20 kids and 6 adults died in Newtown's Sandy Hook school massacre. I figured that if gun control laws did not change then, with all the tears shed about those poor innocent children, nothing would do it. Nearly three years and a buncha massacres later, all we have is a graying, somber-faced president giving a speech about how this routine has gotten old and that we all need to vote smarter and safer. I suppose I can hope that will happen, but with an election year featuring a Saturn-Neptune square, I cannot say that I feel that hopeful. I would love to be proven wrong.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Between You and Me: The "Supermoon" Lunar Eclipse

The first Full Moon of autumn is upon us (exact 10:53 p.m. EDT). It also happens to be a Harvest Moon (the Full Moon that occurs closest to the Autumnal Equinox), a total Lunar Eclipse, and a "Supermoon" (i.e., the Moon is closer than 224,834 miles to the Earth; although Supermoons are not rare, this particular Supermoon has the distinction of being 2015's closest one).

I just went downstairs to gaze at this action-packed Full Moon rising in the early evening sky; not even the nearby zillion-watt streetlamp could blot out its magnified beauty. The very sight of it reminded me that when any planet is rising in a natal chart, its energy is extremely important to the native. No matter that the planet's seeming hugeness is an optical illusion; the Moon is actually closer to the Earth when it is directly overhead, at what astrologers refer to as the Midheaven or MC position. When a planet rises, it looks bigger from our perspective on Earth, and so takes on a greater significance.

The significance of this particular Full Moon / Harvest Moon / Supermoon / Lunar Eclipse is not one-size-fits-all; it depends on which Houses the Full Moon falls in your own particular chart. Different Houses represent different areas of life, such as self-identity, finances, communication, home, creativity, work, travel, and friends. As well, if you have one or more planets that fall at 4 to 5 degrees of Libra or Aries, and to a lesser degree, 4 to 5 degrees of Cancer or Capricorn, those planets will modify the energy of the Full Moon for better or worse. For example, the Sun is fast approaching a conjunction to my Uranus at 5 Libra, and I have been feeling the energy of the upcoming Full Moon as jangly yet highly creative, to the extent that I feel as if I am having a major breakthrough (a Uranian specialty). I've also had a hell of a headache (Aries rules the head). And with the Sun in my 1st House and Moon in my 7th, self-identity and relationship issues are demanding my attention.

That said, no matter what Houses the Full Moon falls in your own particular chart, no matter what natal planets (if any) the Full Moon connects with, the energy of a Sun in Libra opposing Moon in Aries is bound to highlight relationships (Libra) and self-identity (Aries). Oppositions always bring a sense of tension and a desire to resolve a particular issue, and it is especially important on a Full Moon to acquire a resolution, a satisfying climax, in order to go through the waning Moon for the next two weeks with a sense of accomplishment instead of disappointment. This is because the solar and lunar energies are of utmost important to us all, symbolizing the ego and consciousness (Sun) and the id and emotions (Moon): who you are (Sun) and what you feel and need (Moon).

The "I am"-ness of the Sun is expressed with difficulty in the sign of Libra, which defines itself through others. The Moon in Aries, by contrast, wants to take care of itself first and foremost; if it can't be first in line for whatever its heart desires, and it can't cut into that line for whatever reason, it would rather go home. Libra is famous for its diplomacy; Aries refuses to compromise. You can see, therefore, that this Full Moon will put the spotlight on "me" vs. "we." If you ask which one will win, the Sun or the Moon, you have already lost -- for even one loser in this setup will be so wounded that it will do its damnedest to make life miserable for the winner. Aggressive Aries tends to shoot first and ask questions later; at the very least, it will stomp off very loudly to be alone. And sweet, charming Libra can act pissy and passive-aggressive in its "Whatever you say or do is fine with me, dear" proclamation that makes it crystal clear that it is not, in fact, fine with whatever its partner says or does, even if Libra itself can never seem to reach a definite decision about anything.

Tonight, as Earth's bronze-red shadow passes over the huge, perfectly round face of the Moon, try to be honest with yourself about what you really want in a relationship (if indeed you want a relationship at all -- you may very well not, which is fine as long as you are being honest about your needs). And consider what you can give to, not just take from, your sweetie. This last piece of advice is especially pertinent if you are not a Libra or do not have Libra Rising, a Libra Moon, or an emphasized 7th House; if you have a Libra-ish chart, you would do better to consider yourself first for a change. Just remember that first does not mean "only," and that some sort of balance should be attempted no matter what sign you happen to be.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Autumnal Equinox: An Early Clue to the New Direction

Greetings, dear stargazing readers:

I am midway through The Beatles Are Here!, a not-bad look-back book edited by Penelope Rowlands, which indirectly inspired the subtitle of this post -- a line from my favorite scene from the first Beatles movie, A Hard Day's Night. George (my favorite Beatle when I am in spiritual, searching mode, as opposed to cynical-but-idealistic, kickass-but-vulnerable John mode) accidentally wanders into the office of an ad/PR firm and is pressed into offering his opinion on some new shirts said firm is flogging ("They're grotty!") and an "It Girl" on a teen TV show ("We turn the sound down on her and say rude things."). When the Brit Mad Man kicks George out, the receptionist suggests he may be "an early clue to the new direction," but it is mistakenly decided that he is "just a troublemaker."

And what has this Beatleology to do with astrology? Well, today marks the first day of fall, aka the Autumnal Equinox, aka the Sun's ingress into Libra. On this first day of the Sun in Libra, its scales are perfectly balanced between day and night, but from here on out, the night force grows until the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. The beginning of all four Cardinal signs marks the beginning of the four seasons: the early clue to the new direction.

Today, at least in the County of Kings (aka Brooklyn), it still feels like summer -- but Mars is still clinging to fiery Leo (the last degree) and Mercury is still Retrograde. What is highly significant about this particular Equinox is that the Sun is conjunct the North Node of the Moon at 0 degrees of Libra. I do not normally spend much time or energy on the Nodes, as they are not planets but points arrived via inscrutable formula having to do with angles on the ecliptic; however, a Sun-NN conjunction at not only a critical degree of a sign, but at the beginning of a season, makes me sit up and take notice. The North Node of the Moon faces toward the future, whereas the South Node faces the past. Today therefore marks an unusual opportunity to break free from the shackles of past disappointments and believe with all your heart that today is truly a new day of a new season in your life.

Strengthening your opportunity to take advantage of this significant and uncommon conjunction is the sextile between the Sun and Saturn, which is now 0 degrees of Sagittarius. We last saw Saturn in Sagittarius in mid-June; the summer of 2015 was marked by Saturn's three-month return to Scorpio, urging us all to confront challenges and limitations involving sex, death, transformation, the occult, and partners' resources. Now that Saturn is firmly back in Sagittarius for the next two years, another early clue to the new direction involves harnessing your desire to communicate in relationships (Libra) to your desire to hone and share your knowledge and philosophy (Saturn in Sagittarius).

With Mercury still Retrograde for another two weeks, this is also a good time to pay a visit to the Lost & Found and retrieve something of value you'd thought was gone forever. (This need not be a material object, but a memory or a solution to a problem.) People with whom you'd lost touch are also likely to reenter your life, and it is up to you to decide if they fit into your own new direction.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Solar Eclipse in Virgo: Work It, Baby!

Greetings, Lovelies and Uglies and those who are a combination of the two:

We are fast approaching the final New Moon of summer (in the Northern Hemisphere), which will also be a partial Solar Eclipse. Exact September 13, 2:41 a.m. EDT, this lunation at 20 degrees of Virgo is a challenge to put on your cosmic hardhat and Get. To. Work.

This is one of those times when all work and no play will not make you a dull boy or girl. To the contrary, the more you work on yourself, the more rewarding you will find the New Moon / Solar Eclipse.

Even in modern-day astrology, when it is standard to sugarcoat the most heinous planetary aspects and placements as "great potential for growth," Virgo suffers from a bad reputation without the fun and intimidation points racked up by its cousin Scorpio. At least Scorpio is a seductive force to be reckoned with and can always get laid, whereas poor Virgo gets zero respect for being a prissy, perfectionist, nitpicking, overly cautious, submissive worker bee whose main weapons appear to be white gloves (handy for doing spot checks of dust levels in other people's homes) and an insistence on perfect grammar.

For those of you smartypants whose knowledge of astrology goes beyond Sun signs, you have doubtlessly learned that Venus placed in Virgo is the pits, and that if you are unlucky enough to attract one of those killjoys who give love a bad name, to run for the hills. Take that, Mick Jagger, Julia Roberts, Joni Mitchell, Roger Federer, Eminem, Mila Kunis, J. K. Rowling, and Kate Winslet! (Although speaking as a Venus-in-Virgo native, I will state here that I myself would probably flee from the likes of Sean Penn, Roman Polanski, and Martha Stewart.)

Now is the time to summon up and own those very qualities that consign Virgo to the dustbin of the Zodiac. Working on yourself can be a royal pain in the ass, and unless it involves a bottle of hair dye or a visit to a tattoo parlor, there is no guarantee that anyone will even notice. Working on yourself can take your entire damned life if you're doing it right. Virgo understands deep down that all worthwhile ventures can take a lot of time and effort, and that if you are in it for the long haul, you must be patient with yourself while pushing yourself.

As a Mercury-ruled Earth sign, Virgo also understands that thoughts are in fact things. To quote R. W. Emerson, "A man is what he thinks all day long." The self-loathing Virgo does itself no favors; the confident Virgo can win its version of the jackpot. This observation applies to all signs of the Zodiac, of course, yet Virgo in particular must be especially vigilant to monitor its tendency to self-doubt. A crippling degree of self-criticism will lead not to a jackpot, but a straitjacket of your own making.

Virgo's place in the Zodiac occurs at a critical juncture of humanity's evolution: self-consciousness. The immediately preceding sign Leo assumes it will be loved and valued simply for being its royal self; Virgo asks, What can I bring to the table? Plenty, actually: the symbol of Virgo is a wheat-toting maiden -- the purity of hard work culminating in harvest time. Even if you are gluten-free or on a low-carb diet these days, take the best page from this sign's thick book and work toward your own harvest. If you are less than thrilled with such Virgo-ruled areas in your life as job, health, diet, and/or wardrobe, use the energy of the upcoming Solar Eclipse to begin to change these areas. Although you may not see results immediately, at least you can make a definite start, and even starts can be very healing.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sun-Jupiter Conjunction in Virgo: Unleash Your Inner Owl

Owls have lately become a popular motif in clothing, jewelry, and knickknacks, but what is its astrological significance? I believe that this night bird is a compelling blend of Virgo and Scorpio, and as we approach the Sun-Jupiter conjunction (exact Wednesday, 8/26 at 6:02 p.m. EDT), this is a perfect time for you to unleash your inner owl by understanding and admiring its complex nature.

The Virgo side of the owl is associated with its quest for knowledge and its razor-sharp focus. This is the Wise Old Owl that loves books. Its questioning nature always looks for answers. It can see the finest of details that comprise a whole. Its downfall can be an inability to see the forest for the trees.

The Scorpio side of the owl is associated with its being a bird of prey that strikes at night. This is the Perceptive Owl that intimidates others with its unblinking stare. No matter how inwardly turbulent its emotions, the owl projects an aura of calm and control. It can perch perfectly poised atop a tree for hours before suddenly swooping down in the darkness and closing in on its prey. You can run, but you just can't hide from the owl.

Jupiter is said to be in the sign of its fall in Virgo, because the perfectionism and downright persnickety nature of Virgo can and does clash with the sweeping visions and unchecked optimism of Jupiter (which rules the sign of Sagittarius). Jupiter is shorthand for expansion and excess; it gambles in all areas of life due to its inherent faith and optimism, while Virgo is highly pragmatic, dots every "i" and crosses every "t," and its true church is work (especially if it is service oriented or not at all glamorous). Jupiter will happily breakfast on bacon and eggs with a side of buttered toast; Virgo would rather starve than eat all those nitrates, nitrites, fat, and cholesterol. (Please note that I am not claiming that all Virgos are health nuts; I myself have Venus in Virgo and Virgo Rising with Pluto conjunct the Ascendant, and I adore bacon and eggs, bread and butter. I am talking about the "pure" manifestation of a particular sign and planet.)

I believe that so-called debilitated planetary placements can lead to far more personal growth than so-called exalted placements. As the Sun illuminates the Jupiter placement that we all will be experiencing until September 9, 2016, it might help to envision yourself as an owl of true justice and knowledge. Make it your mission to give a hoot and fight the downside of Jupiter of Virgo, which consists of legions of hypocritical, hypercritical moralists.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Astrology of Woodstock

Wishing a very groovy 46th Solar Return to the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which occurred from August 15, 1969, to the morning of August 18, in Bethel, New York.

Although this is not a silver, golden (or Acapulco Gold), or even an anniversary ending in a zero, Woodstock's 46th birthday happens to mirror its birth day not only because it also falls on a weekend, but because the Moon and Mercury are both posited in Virgo. In fact, today Mercury is exactly conjunct Woodstock's Mercury at 14 degrees of Virgo.

I base Woodstock's astrology chart on the time of its first performance: at 5:07 p.m., folk singer Richie Havens began playing. Havens, who was not supposed to go on first, stayed onstage for nearly two hours, as other acts were running late due to an unforeseen traffic nightmare, as no one predicted that so many flower children would show up (just as no one predicted that it would turn into a free concert, due to insufficient security in the form of widely spaced gates that were easily gotten around before being knocked down altogether). In the process, Havens exhausted his repertoire yet managed to improvise a new song ("Freedom," inspired by the old spiritual "Motherless Child," also performed by the band Sweetwater who was supposed to go on first). Havens had 5'05" degrees of Libra Rising -- the exact degree, to the very minute, of Woodstock's Jupiter, planet of good fortune and expansion. Havens also had a Scorpio Moon, echoed by a close, approaching Moon-Pluto conjunction in Woodstock's chart, but more on this in a bit.

On Woodstock's Ascendant is 3 degrees of Capricorn, making Saturn the ruler of the chart; Capricorn is an Earth sign, and Saturn is placed at 8 degrees of fellow Earth sign Taurus in the 4th House of home, forming a strong Earth trine. In rock 'n' roll terms, in Joni Mitchell's ode to the festival, "Woodstock," this manifested in "going to camp out on the land [...] to get my soul free."

For obvious reasons, farms are related to the Earth element, and by now it is common knowledge that dairy farmer Max Yasgur saved Woodstock's tofu bacon by agreeing to provide a venue for a festival that lost its original venue (in the very un-hippie-sounding Wallkill) just one month before the festival. To go along with this Earth-element theme, there were many "earth mothers" of both genders at Woodstock who nurtured and took care of those people who were having bad trips on the brown acid, and "fertility goddesses" who fulfilled many a hippie's wettest dream.

What is less commonly known is the unlovely side of Capricorn Rising and Saturn in Taurus rearing its head in the form of greed and shady deals.

Many top performers insisted on being paid up front and/or not filmed, or else they wouldn't go on. (And if one of the promoters, who had a million-dollar trust fund to put up as collateral, had not been able to get to the bank in time for Saturday night's highly anticipated, superstar-studded performances, the festival would have devolved into complete chaos, because the music would have stopped altogether.)

Max Yasgur, who was paid $75,000 for leasing his land, was told to expect a mannerly three-day festival of no more than 50,000 people, when the four "Woodstock Ventures" promoters (three suits, one hippie) had already sold 150,000 tickets (which cost $18, about $100 in 2015 dollars) and were anticipating another 100,000 concertgoers to show up (when it was, in the words of Joni Mitchell, "half a million strong" by the time August 15 rolled around).

There was only 1 porta-potty per 10,000 attendees, and Saturday's rainstorm transformed those few porta-potties into poop soup. Food from Woodstock Ventures ran out on the first day of the festival; "square" locals, many of whom were inconvenienced due to the abandoned cars clogging the roads within 10 miles of the festival site, took pity on the hungry hippies to contribute sandwiches. Food was also airlifted in from (ironic drum roll, please) the local air force base.

I can safely say that this dark side of Capricorn Rising and Saturn in Taurus did not ruin Woodstock for most of those in attendance (though many who were there do not remember the particulars of that weekend -- hallmark of a Sun-Neptune square) because of the Ascendant-Saturn trine; it is the best aspect to have, period. Also, the square between the Ascendant and Jupiter-Uranus in early Libra contributed "good vibes" (Jupiter) and electricity (Uranus) once the Moon entered Libra on the second day of the festival. Interestingly, the Moon would also have conjuncted the majority of the audience's Neptune (which was in Libra from 1943 to 1957); Neptune rules music as well as psychedelic drugs.

Yet during the first day of Woodstock, the Moon was still in Virgo. You would be forgiven for thinking that the sign of the prim, proper Virgin is an unlikely, if not downright inauspicious, lunar placement for a festival devoted to the unholy trinity of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. What must be considered is that when Richie Havens, the first performer up at bat, began to play at 5:07 p.m., the Moon was within a degree of an approaching conjunction to Pluto, which is all about intense, often illegal experiences that are more associated with the Water sign of Scorpio.

Not only does Woodstock have a Moon-Pluto conjunction, it is placed, along with a critical-degree Leo Sun and Virgo Mercury, in Woodstock's 8th House, which transports you right into the Underworld and other Plutonian realms (e.g.: mud, poop). Four planets in the 8th House is a Plutonian powerhouse!

As I mentioned earlier, Havens had a Scorpio Moon, which is similar to a Moon-Pluto conjunction. As for the younger teenagers (born between 1952-55) in attendance, the Sun would have passed over their Plutos in Leo during the Woodstock festival; I would imagine that many of these underage attendees were runaways or simply lied to their parents about where they were going that weekend.

All three outer planets have to do with the collective, aka humanity, or at the very least, a huge crowd of people: Uranus, the collective mind and mutation; Neptune, the collective imagination and dream; Pluto, the collective birth, death, and rebirth. It is indeed highly significant that the Moon passed over two out of the three outer planets during the Woodstock festival, adding emotional resonance and truly providing a home (ruled by the Moon) and sense of connection to many of those in attendance.

I do not know whether Joni Mitchell was into astrology, but her lines "We are stardust / We are golden" from her song "Woodstock" is a beautiful metaphor for the Pluto-in-Leo generation that dominated the festival. Despite the ensuing "Big Chill" decade of the 1980s that turned many of the Woodstock generation into smarmy, judgmental yuppies despised by my own rising "X" generation, I cannot forget how much I wished, as a teenager trapped in Reagan-era suburbia, that I could have been a hippie and hitched to Yasgur's farm to listen to some of the bands I was starting to love, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and the Jefferson Airplane...to have my budding mind blown and my body caked with mud.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pluto Love

After a rocky start to the week (see my Sun-Uranus square post of July 12th), I had a happy birthday on the 13th, made all the more special by the pre-flyby photo taken of Pluto that very afternoon. I felt as if my Rising Planet was sending me love from across the solar system:



Many people's hearts melted when they saw Pluto's heart, and the emerging details of its demoted-from-planethood's self are astounding scientists who expected an "old, pockmarked" warhorse, not a young'un of less than 100 million years old that boasts a heart-shaped plain and ice mountains (which proves the existence of water, as one might expect from a planet ruled by the water sign Scorpio).

Finally, it occurred to me to look up Pluto's "discovery" chart, as there was no real way I could look up its actual birth date. Although Percival Lowell first suspected Pluto's existence back in 1905, he was unable to locate "Planet X" by the time of his death a decade later; astronomer Clyde Tombaugh eventually found it on February 18, 1930, though the news was kept from the public till March 13th, the day that would have been Percival Lowell's 75th birthday. It is fitting not only that our solar system's newest find was named for the Roman god of the underworld (as the early 1930s was a highly Plutonian time marked by financial depression and the birth of fascism), but that the first two letters of Pluto's name happen to be Percival Lowell's initials.

Although I was unable to determine the exact time of discovery, I was not surprised to see that the Moon was in Scorpio on February 18, 1930, since Pluto is ruled by the sign of Scorpio. Interestingly, Pluto itself falls at 17 degrees of Cancer in the discovery chart, within hailing distance of the Sun's position early last week (20 to 22 degrees of Cancer, the Pisces decanate and dwad, particularly auspicious for photography).

Pluto has two aspects that I believe contributed to its demotion three-quarters of a century later (as opposed to its being given a gold watch and a generous pension plan): a Venus-Jupiter-Neptune T-square (with Venus at 2 Pisces opposing Neptune at 2 Virgo, both squaring Jupiter at 6 Gemini) and a tight Saturn-Uranus square (with Saturn at 8 Capricorn squaring Uranus at 9 Aries).

The T-square in mutable signs suggests an inherent instability combined with the potential for glamorization followed by pedestal-toppling by a shallow judge or panel (Jupiter is in its "fall," i.e. most weakly placed, in Gemini). Pluto was demoted by astronomers on August 24, 2006, with the Sun having just entered Virgo and literally shedding light on the T-square.

The Saturn-Uranus square from Capricorn to Aries stresses difficulty with structure; there is a resistance to easy labels and open-shut classification. Interestingly, Pluto celebrated its Uranus return last year, on the Uranus-Pluto square; NASA's ultimately successful flyby mission was already in process.

I hope that since Pluto also has a Mercury-Mars conjunction in Aquarius trine that debilitated Jupiter, its demotion is not final, especially with the overwhelmingly positive response to the flyby mission. More details will emerge about this most mysterious Pluto over the next 16 months. Perhaps by then, scientists will be moved not only to take back the demotion, but to issue the long-suffering Pluto a promotion. Such love and validation can only improve our collective relationship with Pluto, which will enable us all to use its kick-ass power more wisely, and with more respect, than we have ever managed to up till now, and especially since 2006.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sun in Cancer Square Uranus in Aries: Accidents Happening at Home and in the Head

Greetings, astro-freaks and the merely astro-curious who are reading this post anyway:

Today is a hard day's night (the best malapropism ever coined by a Sun in Cancer: Ringo Starr, whose 75th birthday was on 7/7) thanks to the Sun-Uranus square, exact 11:59 p.m. EDT. This aspect in general manifests in shakeups of all stripes, accidents, and breakdowns. There is plenty of snap, crackle, and pop afoot, but not in a friendly breakfast-cereal kind of way. With the specific signs involved (Sun in sensitive, moody Cancer; Aries in headstrong, aggressive Aries), the most likely places this collision course is happening are at home and in the head.

This is not the best day to move house or engage in home improvement projects. Ikea instructions will seem even more inscrutable than usual. In the kitchen, even proficient cooks may find themselves all burnt thumbs and dropped eggs. This is a good day to order food in, but nothing too spicy. If you go out, "scenes" are likely. If your gut is sensing funny vibes, listen to your gut. Situate yourself near the exit so that you can make a quick getaway if necessary. Otherwise, you may find yourself in the thick of a revolution that you would rather not be a part of.

This is a difficult aspect under which to self-soothe. Identity crises as well as emotional and physical shocks to your system are very likely. If your birthday is today or fell within the past week, you face a very challenging year, as your Solar Return chart features the Sun-Uranus square. On the positive side, if you are sick of your "mold" in either or both senses of the word, this is the best time for you to break out of it. Think of it as revolutionary evolution. However, if you are a fairly typical Sun in Cancer, your self-identity is tied up with sticking with "the devil you know." It is not so much that Cancers are masochistic or lack a sense of adventure, but natives with this sign prominent (Moon and/or Ascendant in Cancer, not just the Sun) tend to retreat and sulk when wounded or threatened and are not among the more trusting or optimistic signs of the zodiac. In other words, a typical Cancer type is apt to feel that change, even for the better, is automatically bad. Cancers are more likely to remain in their comfort zone, even if that zone feels profoundly uncomfortable. Cancer is Latin for "crab," and if you observe a live specimen of this shellfish, you will see that it never approaches what it wants directly; it skittles sideways, even backward at times, until it suddenly lunges forward, takes your toe in its claw, and refuses to let go. Good, clean fun!

Lest you think I am judging Cancers unfairly, I happen to be a member of the Crab Club, and I can tell you that today has not been easy for me. Feeling so disconnected has been all the more disconcerting since yesterday was a great day at the beach with a friend. When I woke up today, I found myself reading the Weddings section of the Times online because one of the grooms, an older gentleman, wrote many songs for Sesame Street, a show that provided some of my best memories from early childhood. But then I had to keep on reading about every couple's special story. Every bride was described in such glowing terms by her groom: so gentle and generous, so beautiful and fun, so creative and wise. Such a devoted friend, daughter, sweetheart. And today I felt that none of those adjectives could be applied to me. As a Scorpio Moon, I periodically go through spates of a deep dissatisfaction with who I am and where I'm at, coupled with an equally deep desire to change, with the aim that the worst part of my eventual obituary will be the fact that I won't be around to read it. But today, on a Sun-Uranus square, feeling such dissatisfaction with myself has been so intense that I broke my own heart.

I'd charge myself guilty of the crime of oversharing, but I do feel that it's important for me on this blog to own up to being a part of humanity, especially when I'm feeling apart from humanity. Healing others through astrology cannot happen without self-healing through astrology.

If there is a planet associated with the human race, I believe it to be Uranus, whose mission is to evolve via revolution, reformation, rebellion, technology, and true acceptance of diversity including mutations that may someday become the norm. One full orbit of Uranus around the Sun takes 84 years, which matches up with Homo sapiens' life cycle -- especially the 7-year markers leading up to the midpoint of 42 years, the so-called midlife crisis. I just returned from a trip from the state of New Hampshire, whose motto is "Live Free or Die"; this philosophy seems particularly apropos on a Sun-Uranus square, although it does contradict the notion that nothing in life is free. And that is cool, because life is full of paradoxes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Back to Blogging on the Full Moon

Greetings, my lovelies,

It's been such a long time since I've posted on my site that I will never "catch up," so I will concentrate on the here and now and hope not to be away so long again:

This is an unusually inspiring Full Moon (exact tonight at 10:20 p.m. EDT), as Neptune has been mediating between the Sun and the Moon all day, creating a so-called easy opposition between the luminaries. This Full Moon between Cancer and Capricorn shall therefore illuminate more than the standard Cancer-Capricorn polarities and possible tensions of home vs. the public eye, mother vs. father, family vs. career; with Neptune trining the Sun and sextiling the Moon, this Full Moon instead dreams of a way to have it all -- and this dream could actually turn into a viable waking reality for those of you who want to put your dreams into action.

For me, the perfect symbol of this Full Moon / Sun-Neptune trine day is this pair of vintage eyeglass frames, which arrived in today's mail:



The best-ever birthday present (two weeks early) that I have ever given myself. I associate vintage items with both Cancer and Capricorn (and indeed, both signs are known to be collectors), eyeglasses with Neptune. (The eyes themselves are ruled by Aries, but eyewear itself is far more mysterious and Neptunian in nature.) I knew I was taking a risk ordering these frames from an online vendor (Etsy-cough-Etsy-yay-Etsy), but this vendor gave precise measurements (they are truly complex for eyeglass frames), and I happen to know mine. And as much as I like my current vintage frames, it has been nearly five years since they've been gracing my face. Long story short, these new old frames made my day. And as an added bonus, I got into an astrological conversation with the vendor, which inspired me (Neptune) to post again, after three and a half months of silence.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Thing About Pluto in Capricorn...

The thing about Pluto in Capricorn is that it's really cold.

(For those of you unfamiliar with astrology symbols, the circle with a cross is Pluto, the stylized "V" is Capricorn, and that little thingie that looks like a "69" on it's side is the glyph for Cancer...the sign, not the disease.)

Art image copyright T. C. Gardstein, Pluto Rising Astrology, 2015. All rights (and lefts) totally reserved.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Last in a Long Line of Uranus-Pluto Squares Is Here!

I have written about the Uranus-Pluto square so often for the past three years that I do not know if I have anything much to add for square number seven of seven, exact at 9:50 p.m. EDT. That it occurs during the dark of the moon heightens the feeling that a cycle, indeed an entire era, is drawing to a close. For those of you who have only recently begun reading my site, and for those of you who have been reading my astrobabble for much longer, here is a (hopefully poetic) recap:

ODE TO THE URANUS-PLUTO SQUARE

The same old song's been on since June 2012
It's as sharp as a nail piercing the sole of a shoe
With a soft foot inside
That has no place to hide
Unless you're too big to fail, you do
And Uranus and Pluto keep turning the screw
Brutalities widespread those with hearts can't abide
Corporations are people not on humanity's side
Most of the money's been flowing upstream
A nightmare has curdled the American Dream
The name Isis used to mean an Egyptian goddess
Now it brings to mind an unholy mess
This square has been a prolonged scream
In which many things are as bad as they seem
Yet attempt to recognize what you can bless
That can't be taken away by the IRS
When the dust settles and the smoke clears
We might see better than we have in years
Yet the square's reverb shall linger in our ears
And if we can grieve, there will be tears
Some did not survive the square
Some got through but lost their hair
Some said, "Do I look like I care?"
Some reclaimed their power, others did not dare.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Pisces Post-Full Moon Haikus

Pisces Post-Full Moon Haikus

Snow globe still shaking
With two weeks left of winter--
I'm cold and tired.

I try to recall
Pleasurable sensations
Like my cat's sleek coat--

Like my sweetie's lips
And the warmth of his fingers
And his soft fine hair.

I try to recall
Going out sans bundling;
Hair not shaped by hat.

I try to recall
A week without feeling sick,
Sneezing and coughing.

Spring is almost here
Though it seems nowhere nearby
Buried in the snow.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Not-So-Fond Fare-Thee-Well to February: Musings on Getting Personal in My Posts, Rembrandt, and Some Poetry if You Read Till the End (or Just Scroll Down)

T. S. Eliot wrote that "April is the cruellest month." Though the poet was on to something there, as two-thirds of that month is ruled by Mars (the god of war) -- and if you suffer from spring allergies to boot, as I do, it's nothing to sneeze at -- I believe the true Waste Land, especially this year, is February. Here is an unfunny joke: "Why is February so short?" "Because if it were any longer, nobody would make it to March."

I already complained about the Siberian Express in my last post, which received so few hits it made me wonder if I should keep weather talk out of my astrologizing. Which further made me ponder my entire philosophy of discussing on this site pretty much everything except what most astro-curious souls trawling the web are searching for: their horoscopes. Writing horoscopes is the one thing I pointedly refuse to do, because I think sun-sign astrology is the equivalent of knowing what country someone is from: it can be helpful in terms of understanding what language that someone speaks (though that actually has more to do with Mercury's placement than the Sun), but it only gives the tip of the iceberg, to use a cliche apropos for this brutally cold month.

So I wind up ranting about various components of my own natal chart and major-league transits (in the case of the born-in-2012, still-very-much-with-us Uranus-Pluto square, so frequently I feel like a recording) and how they seem to tie in to various political, economic, and social injustices. A few years ago, an irate reader put the smackdown on me for getting "too political" in my posts, which pissed me off, but at least someone cared enough to try to pin back my ears. Around the same time, I received from another reader some very encouraging comments that I should write a book about Pluto, since I seemed to know so much about all matters Plutonian.

Now, despite the fact that I have nearly 800 followers on Twitter, I mostly feel like a forgotten child on this site...a drop in the bucket of astrology blogs. There are just so many of them out there. Some of them are truly inspired (hello, Donna Cunningham!). It's too daunting to try to "keep up." (Gee, should I try to write about Leonard Nimoy's chart while everyone is still talking about his death? #LiveLongAndProsper, indeed!) It's hard to feel "original" writing about aspects, signs, etc. when it's all been written before, countless times, sometimes brilliantly. It's the kind of feeling I sometimes have as a writer in other genres, that all the stories have already been told, that there are a set number of themes 'n' variations, that all the archetypes have already been explored to the nth degree. Then I snap out of it and write anyway.

Sometimes I wonder why someone with my particular chart would get not just political but personal on this site. Then I think about Rembrandt, one of the greatest artists who ever lived. Like me, he was a Cancer Sun with a Scorpio Moon, and he was known for his endless self-portraits. I wonder if anyone ever said to him, "Hey, Van Rijn, what's up with all the selfies? It's not as if you're pretty enough to be on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or nothin'." I wonder if he was confident enough not to reply at all but instead ask aloud where he'd put that fly-swatter, or if he got embarrassed (and then promptly made a self-portrait of himself blushing) or defensive. I cannot, of course, answer for the master -- that would be beyond presumptuous, and this is not a blue-book midterm essay for an art history class.

But I know how looking at Rembrandt's self-portraits makes me feel. It's as if I'm peering into his private peep show; I see the unmistakable intensity and resolve in his eyes, yet cannot say for sure what color they are due his love of chiaroscuro, the interplay of light and shadow. (Rembrandt would have made one hell of a film noir director.) I doubt he was "just" lazy or self-centered to be his own go-to model; and as much as he showed, he kept plenty about his visage (as a portal to his whole self) a mystery. (In that vein, readers of this blog and of my fiction and poetry may see me as an open book, but I have more than one book, so to speak.) I have no idea how confident Rembrandt truly was in his abilities, but he believed in himself enough to stay in Holland instead of going to Italy, and he wound up immortalizing himself in paint. If getting so personal in his art enabled him know himself better -- in a time when psychotherapy did not yet exist -- so much the better, yet who knows how self-aware Rembrandt really was. He might have painted like a god, but he was, in the end, just human.

Sometimes I like to think that by painting myself on this site as a highly fallible human being filled with various worries, crotchets, and obsessions that go into living as a non-hermit in a town without pity in the early 21st century, I might be helping someone who lives halfway across the world, or down the street, feel less alone in his or her pain...maybe even help more by not posing as a one-way mirror, as some mystical astrology oracle preaching from a place far removed from all the noise and mess of living. There are more astrology blogs out there than ever, and with people buying online chart interpretations for much less money than a face-to-face reading would cost, all I can do is keep on being myself, warts and all. I may never enter the astrology pantheon the way Rembrandt did with his art, but oh well -- at least I have a cute button nose and good teeth.

But this was supposed to be a post about bidding adieu to the coldest damn month in NYC since 1934 (not too coincidentally, the last Uranus-Pluto square era). To that end, I will therefore share with you this poem I wrote on the subway last week. (I am thinking of compiling a collection of poems I wrote while in transit, to be titled When I Get a Seat on the Subway.)

February Lunation

In the darkest part
of the dark of the moon,
the subway whines
a death's-head tune.
My phone then rings
like a drowning loon;
it's HR from LA--
rejection's a goon.

Good riddance
to Aquarius!
My mind's a mess,
my soul can't dance.
In subzero stress
there is no success;
I haven't a chance.

Now the moon is new
though it's still 4 degrees
and I'm still on a train,
cut off at the knees.

Crossing the bridge,
I spot the Statue of Liberty
and pray to her icy greenness
at the mouth of the cold city.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

From Dark of the Moon to New Moon: The Siberian Express; or, Come On, Baby, Let the Hard Times Roll

New Moons frequently occur in the final degree of a sign. The one this past Wednesday at 6:47 p.m. EST, however, was so cuspy at 29 degrees, 54 minutes, and 54 seconds of Aquarius that by 6:50 p.m., both the Sun and Moon were in Pisces. This effectively gave us a New Moon across two signs.

Emotionally, things did seem to ease a bit once the Sun and Moon entered Pisces (and at the time, Mars and Venus were still in Pisces). That's just on a personal level -- water signs tend to breathe better with transiting planets in water, whereas fire signs may feel extinguished. However, much of the U.S. is still dealing with the so-called Siberian Express, many people at my temp gig are still wheezing and sneezing, and despite all the vitamins I am taking and hand sanitizer I am using, I am currently dealing with my fourth cold in six weeks (or maybe it's the same cold that I'm just not getting over).

We are now solidly into the New Moon period -- and I was honored to catch sight of the Moon-Venus conjunction this past frigid Friday evening as I walked west from my subway stop to home, as it was a truly beautiful sight, and I was jonesin' for beauty -- yet not much feels different. This is partly because Mercury, though direct now, still has a ways to go through Aquarius, where it was retrograde for a very long three weeks (and perhaps tied into the Siberian Express).

Another part of the lingering dark-of-the-moon feeling is due to the approaching Sun-Saturn square (exact Mon. 2/23, 8:56 a.m., followed just one minute later by another square, between the Moon and Mercury). This is the very first Sun-Saturn square to occur since Saturn entered Sagittarius at the end of 2014. The Sun squaring Saturn is a classic authority-clash aspect between man and The Man. Unfortunately, this aspect, especially given the signs involved (Pisces and Sagittarius) favors the type of bully of either gender who represents Law and Order, the status quo, or just looks good on paper while engaging in such cowardly, underhanded tactics as backbiting, trolling, and stalking while also being territorial and greedy. If you symbolize the Sun in Pisces (creative, intuitive, mystical, true to yourself), wait this one out. If you personify the worst side of Saturn in Sagittarius (cold, rigid, hypocritical, avaricious) go for it....

....with the caveat that just like you, karma's a bitch.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Astrology of the "Anti-Vaxxer" Movement

As an astrologer, I am very accustomed to be considered a non-scientific flake along the lines of readers of tea leaves, 900-number psychics, UFO cultists, and Creationists who believe in Intelligent Design. When I was a youngin in my twenties, flush with the enthusiasm of How Astrology Really Works, I spent a lot of energy trying to persuade skeptics that there was Really Something to This, that it went Way Beyond Nationally Syndicated Horoscope Columns, et cetera. Now, in early middle age, with a limited amount of energy at my disposal, I content myself with preaching to the converted. To those who refuse to let me do their charts, I sometimes mention a late twentieth-century French statistician named Michel Gauquelin who tried to disprove astrology but in the process wound up proving its validity, and published his findings. I can speak of Gauquelin in one breath, a reasonable amount of time to waste considering that most skeptics would never bother to read him or even Google him. (After all, the man was French, and therefore probably pro-butter and God knows what else.)

I do not have children of my own, but if I did, I would 1.) have them vaccinated per their pediatrician's recommendations and 2.) be incredibly worried that due to the narcissistic, non-scientific, borderline-child-abuse whims of a subset of affluent, so-called highly educated parents, my little darlings would be at much higher risk throughout their lives for contracting measles, polio, and various other diseases that were until recently eradicated, due to loss of "herd immunity" (that ensures the 5% percentage of individuals for whom vaccines do not "take" will be protected due to the immunity of 95% of everyone else). And in case you don't know what can happen when a woman contracts measles during pregnancy, let me assure you that it is not pretty. And how about traveling to distant (and not-so-distant) lands even beyond the Magic Kingdom without proper inoculation?

In the age of the Internet, people acquire "facts" via all sorts of sources: some highly rigorous and scientific, others not. Celebrities and charismatic charlatans often come off more humane and believable than nerds in white coats whose idea of a good time involves isotopes and leptons. Therefore, a long-since-debunked article by a long-since-discredited doctor not worthy of mentioning by name, a highly un-scientific study that linked vaccines to the increase of autism, matters not to the legions of "anti-vaxxers" who would apparently rather see their children, or their children's classmates, fall ill and possibly die or be scarred for life by contracting measles, polio, and so on. Anything to avoid autism! Their motto seems to be: "Don't confuse me with the facts; my mind is made up."

Babies being born at the time of this writing (indeed, since 2012) all have the Uranus-Pluto square in their natal charts. I am sorry to make this prediction, but given the current climate, a certain number of these babies and toddlers will wind up dying or being left deaf, brain damaged, or crippled from their New Age parents' refusal to protect them against diseases that had taken so many lives and ruined countless others prior to the 1960s. Perhaps this is part of what lies behind the saying "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it": parents of my generation (post-Uranus-Pluto conjunction, i.e., born post-1966) do not remember seeing kids our age in iron lungs or buried in little coffins. We were all inoculated, with the possible exception of those who were raised in hippie communes. Many of our parents of the late silent and early baby boom generation were also inoculated against polio et al. as soon as these vaccinations became obtainable. Apparently, in a country like Mexico, most children are vaccinated -- yet are less likely than U.S. children to land on the autism spectrum.

I was shocked to learn that children without medical conditions like cancer were allowed to enter public school sans vaccinations. Perhaps the "politically correct" movement has gone too far -- you can't send little Sophie to school with a PB&J sandwich just in case her classmate who is fatally allergic to peanuts decided to take a bite, and you can't give little Taylor 30 cupcakes to share with his classmates to celebrate his birthday because cupcakes contain such evil toxins as sugar, chocolate, and flour, yet it is perfectly okay not to send your Precious Snowflakes to school unvaccinated. Why? Because some grade-B actor said so on a segment of Celebrities Without Cerebellums Sound Off. It is time for doctors throughout the U.S. to take a stand on vaccinations and say that yes, in this case, they do know better; that the uninformed opinion of nutjob parents is not, in fact, factually valid.

I wanted to bitch-slap the woman I read about the other day in a New York Times article who refused to let her sixteen-year-old daughter receive a rubella vaccination even if it meant her missing a semester of AP-level classes, and do worse damage to the mother who refused to take her young son for a tetanus shot after he cut himself on a metal fence because according to her, he had such a strong immune system (and she knows this how, exactly...?) and she didn't want to expose his body to unnecessary toxins (even though vaccines are not toxic). If you let your ten-year-old child walk home from school or ride a bike by himself, you may have to deal with a visit from Child Protective Services, but if you let your ten-year-old child heal himself from a cut on a metal fence, that's okay because it's "organic." Never mind that plenty of people died from tetanus and so on for decades before the U.S. government sanctioned the spraying of carcinogenic pesticides on apple crops.

In the same way I was embarrassed to learn that I shared the same sun sign as Bush the Younger and the same moon sign as Mitt Romney, I am embarrassed that a particular subset of my generation (which used to be called "X" but now seems to be called nothing at all) cannot seem to marry education and affluence with reason. Way-ass back in time, baby boomers accused my generation of being apathetic morons. We simply didn't care the way they did in the '60s. To which we replied, "Yeah, whatever." I remember at that time, as a know-it-all, overprivileged grad student dropout, thinking that if only my generation was collectively getting the same "starter" opportunities as our parents sans the ridiculous debt, recession, outsourcing, and wage freeze combined with escalating cost of living that ensured that only the strongest, best-connected, and luckiest of us would survive (if you were just average, too bad for you), we would face life approximating a fair fight. Now, to my mortification, it is the best and brightest of us -- and mostly "liberal" to boot -- who embrace anti-scientific anti-intellectualism when it comes to vaccinating one's kids. No better than the pro-gun nuts who will keep voting Republican, against their own best interests, until their homeless status renders them ineligible to vote.

Autism may very well be on the rise, but there are possibilities other than vaccines to consider: more diagnoses, for starters (whereas in prior generations a child might be labeled retarded or simply "difficult"). Environmental conditions. (We wrecked the weather, after all.) Addiction to electronic devices at a tender age. The increasing age of parents bearing children. The increasing surveillance children are under: forget "helicopter parents," we are now in an era in which chidren appear to need to be bubble-wrapped in order to make it through their day. There is little or no freedom, experimentation, recess, fun, art, daydreaming, or boo-boos allowed -- but plenty of pressure to succeed right out of the gate. To fail at anything is not an option. To be bored is not an option. It is the inalienable right of every child to be continously entertained, preferably at great expense, and also be given the message that they are the center of the universe. This may not be a recipe for autism, but neither is this rigid, smothering, consumer-oriented attitude a recipe for optimal mental health. And I hate to say it, but my Pluto-in-Virgo and slightly younger Pluto-in-Libra contemporaries are to blame for this attitude. Despite the inarguable, scientific proof that U.S. children are much less likely these days to be abducted, molested, or killed than in the 1970s and '80s, today's generation of parents have a different perception, refusing point-blank to allow their children anywhere near the same amount of collective freedom (which admittedly shaded into wholesale neglect at times) that they had (and mostly survived). Except, of course, freedom from inoculation.

The final Uranus-Pluto square of this era is fast approaching (March 17), which could indicate a health epidemic as well as more global violence and brutality. Yet I fear that it will not be until the Saturn-Neptune square of 2016, with Saturn in Sagittarius (international law) and Neptune in Pisces (mass infection), which will create the awareness necessary for mass vaccinations -- due to avoidable tragedy.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mercury Retrograde Reminders

Frankly, dear readers, I have been far too blue this month to wish you a happy new year. The world continues to wobble on its Uranus-Pluto square of an axis, with satirical cartooonists being murdered by homegrown terrorists in Paris and more exercises in bloody futility. Ah, but never mind the rest of the world: at home, the U.S. economy is well out of the valley of the shadow of recession. Wall Street is humming. Congress canceled a vote restricting abortion -- for now -- because it managed to piss off their distaff RepubliCON counterparts. Your daddy is rich, your momma's good-looking, they just seem a little weird, surrender, but don't give yourself away. If you aren't recognizing my mashup lyrics, turn to Google and all will become clear as a river whose crystalline quality is due to its complete lack of marine life.

And life seems more fragile than ever. Earlier this month, an acquaintance of mine whom I knew from various parties straight out of a Fellini film failed to regain consciousness from the coma he'd slipped into due to a fall down a flight of stairs prior to the new year. He couldn't have been any older than yours truly -- perhaps even a bit younger. My best friend's friend is dying. Another friend's best friend just had a serious stroke and is in a medically induced coma. All making my first-ever pinched nerve and julienned sanity look like a small order of fries.

Mercury turned Retrograde at 17 degrees of Aquarius on Wednesday 1/21 at 10:54 a.m. BST (Brooklyn Standard Time). It turns Direct at 1 degree of Aquarius three Wednesdays later, 2/11, at 9:57 a.m. Now repeat after me:

Nothing important -- or even not so important -- will be resolved during these three weeks.

If you're worrying even more than usual, or obsessing endlessly over what might've been ("I coulda been a bartendah!"), you're right on schedule. Don't even bother trying to relax. It'll just make you more tense.

Those bad habits you swore off for good on January 1? They've really missed you. They're back for a visit. Depending on the degree of harm these badass visitors bring back into your life, either fall off the wagon with a chocolate-stained smile or check yourself into a rehab clinic immediately.

Nothing will be resolved during these three weeks.

That extremely important binding contract you just signed? Whether it's related to marriage, a job, or a home, it may wind up being not as binding as you had every good reason to think. Oh well, sucks to be you. At least you'll have plenty of company.

If your doctor calls you in to discuss some rather alarming lab results, and you had the bloodwork or whatever done after last Tuesday (1/20), before you panic, demand a retest...preferably after 2/10 if you can wait that long. If you can't, get a second opinion after 2/10. That does not mean that you won't have to go coffin shopping -- just that it shouldn't be your first response.

Has your sibling, neighborhood pal, BFF-who's-like-the-sibling-you-never-had fallen off the planet or something? What will it take for them to respond to your texts/phone calls/emails/smoke signals? What makes this even more annoying is that the shitheel whom you thought you'd gotten rid of for good is now texting or sending bat signals to you. Gross.

If you have a pet, he or she may be regressing or withdrawing without warning or reason, and guess what? You can't reason with Rex or Tigger-Boo, and unless you are a pet whisperer, you won't know what is causing this strange behavior. You can certainly consult a vet, but remember: repeat lab tests apply as much to your fur-babies as they do to yourself.

Chances are good that at least one electronic device you own will spaz out, become infected with malware, or simply break. And the new smartphone/laptop/iWhatever you purchase will have something wrong with it. Even your blender or toaster may start speaking in tongues.

So, you really think you know where you're going, either literally or metaphorically? You don't need a map 'cause you got mad GPS? Call me when you get hopelessly lost in the wrong part of town or forget your own name so that I can laugh my ass off.

You may lose things other than yourself, especially keys, important documents, rings, gloves, and friends. With the exception of that last example, consider duct taping them to your person, or just lock them in a vault till 2/11.

Have I mentioned yet that nothing will be resolved during these three weeks?

On the plus side, this is an excellent time to catch up (aka binge-view) a TV/cable/Netflix show or three...especially if the weather sucks (as it probably will in a good chunk of the U.S. -- after all, it's mid-winter and we've officially wrecked the weather), you come down with a nasty bug or flu (as you might even if you got the flu shot), or you twist your ankle or pinch a nerve to the extent that you're couch-ridden.

Now pour into a cocktail shaker this kooky elixir known as Mercury Retrograde, shake, pour into a tall frosty glass, add a cherry and a little umbrella, and spill it all over your charmingly eccentric outfit before you get to take even one sip.