December 23 - 29, 2020
Hello to readers in Los Angeles!
In terms of sunlight, this is as dark as it gets (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), but while the winter solstice is only two days behind us and winter is just getting underway, it’s only three months until spring—the Earth’s season of hope and new beginnings. No matter how challenging these last days of 2020 may be or how difficult the first few months of 2021 are likely to be, we are moving steadily toward relief in the form of longer and lighter days as well as the relief a COVID vaccine will provide. Try not to despair when you see Trump and his Gang of Hungry Ghosts doing all they can to create chaos and anxiety. Be brave, face whatever their next power grab or convoluted plot is, and have confidence in our collective ability to find solutions to the damage that’s done. Trump isn’t going lightly—he’s got a few more tricks up his sleeve—but he will eventually be gone. History will see him and his minions as the worst of their kind; a fitting legacy for their callous disregard of the planet and all of its inhabitants. I’m certain that a multitude of lawyers are currently considering how Trump and his gang of miscreants can be sued for their egregious behavior.
Unfortunately, the astrology for this week is a little rough—the planetary mood matches the dark days of the season—so try not to be too disappointed if very few of our fellow travelers are in the seasonal mood of cheer and goodwill. Holidays are always, always, always emotionally charged and this one is especially volatile. It’s hard to be jolly when so many of our fellow travelers are grieving, hungry, homeless, and terrified of contracting COVID-19.
Today the Moon in Aries conjuncts Mars and both square Pluto. (Oy!) A Moon/Mars conjunction is never easy, but this one is especially intense because of its placement in Aries. When Mars is in Aries, the Sign it rules, Mars is at its strongest and most assertive or aggressive. And when a rambunctious (I am being polite) Mars shares the same space as the Moon, emotions run high and mighty, which further amplifies Mars’ aggressive energy. If you must, go ahead and duke it out, but be aware that whatever you say or do will have consequences, whether immediate or down the road. The already too-aggressive Moon/Mars conjunction squaring Pluto yields a fractious interaction that translates into power struggles over almost anything. So keep breathing as deeply as you can and just keep letting go of the need to be in charge. Unfortunately, since most people want to be in charge during the holidays, you can count on resistance to almost everything from almost everyone. And it’s not even Christmas—that’s just today.
By Christmas Eve, the Moon moves into a conjunction with Uranus in Taurus. The good news is that this conjunction trines a Mercury/Sun conjunction in Capricorn, a positive interaction that should make for interesting and lively conversation about a variety of topics. The glitch is that a Moon/Uranus conjunction tends toward an emotionally erratic and often volatile attitude. So be prepared for some of those interesting conversations to turn surprisingly explosive. What’s more, because disappointment always plays a role in the Christmas pageant, try to manage your expectations—this is a tough year and everyone is dealing with more than any of us can handle, so gifts and other niceties could be off the mark.
Jupiter and Saturn formed their perfect union in Aquarius on Monday, but they can still be seen in the night sky. It was wonderful to witness so much attention being paid to this conjunction—astrologers and astronomers alike were excited about this rare occurrence. But from the astrological perspective, I wouldn’t expect the dawning of the Age of Aquarius to begin immediately—transitions take time and moving into utopian ideals takes more than a moment. What’s more, there are several other significant astral interactions over the next few years that are likely to dim the light on the optimistic interpretations and expectations of the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction. This may be the beginning of a new cycle, but there’s no telling what and how strong the resistance to evolutionary leaps and cultural transformation will be.
One more thing: Mars moves out of Aries and into Taurus on January 6, so if there are any lingering Martian issues—unfinished projects, moldering agita about situations or people, and any other areas that might require taking a stand—try to wrap them up in the next couple of weeks. More about Mars in Taurus as 2021 begins.
Trump exacerbated so much that was already rotten in our societal system and in need of transformation for such a long time that we can no longer sweep anything under the carpet. He heaped more and more tragedy on the pile, creating a toxic mess that will take years and even decades to heal. But the good news is that many of us are galvanized to make a difference and to heal the many injustices that can no longer be denied. This is the world we inherit in the New Year; this is the world we are called upon to heal; this is the world that needs the aid of those who are committed to helping as a way of life.
This holiday season is a mixture of intense emotions. Try to counter the tidal waves of grief and fear set in motion by COVID-19 by reaffirming your commitment to kindness and compassion. We are not only grieving the loss of life and for lives irrevocably altered by the virus; we are also grieving for the way we once lived. Many of our fellow travelers are anxious about what lies ahead, especially because it will still take months and months, if not years—even with the vaccines—to feel safe again. Most of us will need to be comforted through the difficult days that lie ahead, so do your best to embody the traditions of the season and be of good cheer. The light will eventually return and it will also eventually illuminate how we can be there for each other regardless of our differences.
Here’s an article that might be helpful in contextualizing your feelings during these darkest days.www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/12/20/us/how-to-survive-winter.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
December 16 - 22, 2020
Hello to readers in Barcelona!
Normally at the approach of the winter solstice I would write about the darkening days and subsequent return of the light, but this year, when the days are already too dark, it seems redundant to write about such a thing—although the seasonal pull inward is still significant, maybe even more so than it usually is. The winter solstice is the season of essences, when (in the Northern Hemisphere) the bones of nature are revealed—trees lose their leaves and reveal their branches, birds and other beings scramble for food, the ground freezes, and the days are impossibly short. As the sunlight fades, cultures all over the world bring the light inside—Christmas trees symbolize that ritual, as do all the solstitial holidays. The essence of the winter solstice is hope—something that is always necessary any time of the year. But this year, hope is especially important because it supports mental health, individual and collective, while it simultaneously lifts the soul and renews the spirit.
2020 has been an important astrological year because it contains the end of three significant planetary cycles as well as their renewal:
1. The most important influence was a conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn on January 12. This conjunction occurs approximately every thirty-eight years, albeit in different Signs, and looking back on previous cycles—1914-15, 1947, and 1982—it’s possible to identify a pattern of war: World War I, World War II (which some would argue continued on from WWI), and the Cold War, which began with the 1947 conjunction and intensified with the next conjunction in 1982 (although I prefer to see that 1982 conjunction as the beginning of the War on the Poor—between Reagan and Thatcher, the poor didn’t stand a chance). The 2020 conjunction intensified the deadly effects of poverty—the degradation of the poor was certainly revealed this year—but we are only at the beginning of figuring out the full effects of this year’s Saturn/Pluto conjunction. As someone on the Internet said, “the wisdom of the saying ‘hindsight is 2020’ was written by a time traveler who is clearly sending us a message.” What’s more, because 2020 is a year of other potent conjunctions, the pattern of the last hundred years of Saturn/Pluto conjunctions may evolve away from violence—but we can only hope that’s true. (History buffs reading this column: if you notice other patterns, please let me know.)
2. 2020 also brought us three Jupiter/Pluto conjunctions—in April, at the end of June, and November. Jupiter/Pluto conjunctions happen approximately every twelve to fourteen years. Jupiter, ever the master of excess, clearly put its thumbprint on the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, by amplifying its effect; Jupiter/Pluto facilitated the dissolution of seemingly reliable routines, especially as it exacerbated the ongoing deleterious effects of the pandemic.
Both of these cycles ocurred in Capricorn, and because Pluto always surfaces what needs to be transformed (and by transformed I mean let go of), we’ve had to take a long, hard look at the systems that no longer serve—some of which never truly served. Capricorn signifies all varieties of authority, and that includes governments, corporations, and other organizations that structure society. Pluto quite clearly revealed Capricornian flaws, so much so that what had previously held certain patterns together could no longer be maintained despite an ossified resistance to change, as exemplified by Mitch McConnell’s refusal to help those in need. In so many ways, the war on the poor is undeniable in 2020. Jupiter’s expansive presence also revealed other glaring and often egregious disparities between a government and its people.
3. The beginning of a third planetary cycle occurs on the winter solstice, when Jupiter and Saturn form a rare conjunction in Aquarius. While Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions occur every twenty years, this conjunction is significant because it occurs in a new element. For the last two hundred years (a brief diversion to Libra in 1981 aside), we’ve been in a cycle of conjunctions every twenty years in the element of Earth. The next conjunction on December 21 shifts the focus away from the pragmatic essence of Earth and toward the ideas-oriented element of Air. It’s the beginning of a new Mutation cycle.
Correction: Last week I erroneously named the conjunction that happens on the winter solstice the start of a new Great Mutation cycle. I was wrong—and there seems to be a great deal of confusion about what the difference is a between a Mutation cycle that happens every two hundred years and a Great Mutation cycle that occurs every eight hundred years. I am still in the process of being able to clearly delineate one from the other and as soon as I can do that with confidence, I will post it here. But despite that confusion, the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction on December 21, 2020 still signals the end of two hundred years of conjunctions in the element of Earth and the beginning of two hundred years of conjunctions in the element of Air. All that I wrote last week about the characteristics of those elements stands.
As we move toward the final two weeks of 2020, it’s important to acknowledge the depth of change that has taken place this year and to allow that depth perception to take hold and facilitate the understanding that whatever our brave new world might be, it will never be as it was before. While the chaos of a world turned upside down and inside out is hard to bear, we are making it through, and with a little help from our friends—visible and invisible—we will continue to make the necessary adjustments. So whether you celebrate the new year on the winter solstice or on January 1, 2021—or both—contemplate what you want to create going forward.
As always, do your best to be kind to others who are likely to be less skilled at managing transformative times. Despite all the chaos of the holidays, this is still the time of year when we celebrate and participate in goodwill toward all sentient beings.
December 9 - 15, 2020
Hello to readers in Shanghai!
Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction, Part Two
We are less than two weeks away from a rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn that takes place on the winter solstice, December 21, at 1:20 PM EST. But the solstice timing isn’t what makes it special. This conjunction is significant for astrologers because while Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions occur every twenty years, the one that takes place at the end of this already extraordinary year signals what ancient sky-watchers deemed the beginning of a new era. For astrologers, it’s an omen of things to come; Jupiter and Saturn haven’t been conjunct in Aquarius since 1226 and it will be the closest visible alignment of Jupiter and Saturn since that time. The conjunction occurs at 0° Aquarius 29', and while it’s definitely an optimistic omen—Aquarius is the Sign of utopian idealism—it’s likely to take a good, long time for that idealism to transform into concrete action. Nevertheless it is a sign of things to come and those of us attuned to the skies can already feel the uplift.
Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions occur every twenty years, and for approximately two hundred years they happen within the same element. There are four elements in the astrological system—Fire, Earth, Air, and Water—and when Jupiter and Saturn are conjunct in a new element, for example, when they move from Earth to Air, as they will this month, that shift is believed to signal social and political shifts that are representative of the element they are cycling through.
Approximately every eight hundred years, the entire cycle through each of the four elements repeats itself, an event that ancient astrologers called the Great Mutation cycle, which was believed to be an indication of even more significant cultural shifts than the twenty or two hundred-year cycles. The Great Mutation cycle is exactly what’s happening this year as they form their conjunction in Aquarius; this conjunction signals a new two-hundred-year cycle within an eight-hundred-year cycle.
Air Signs—Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius—embody ideas, and among many other attributes, they represent communication, travel, and negotiation. In Gemini, those characteristics are expressed as curiosity and a desire to share discoveries. In Libra, the idea of relationship and what binds us to each other, even if unseen, can also be seen as a form of communication. In Aquarius, the love of ideas is expressed as the notion of universal love through invention and innovation. The Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in Aquarius translates into a shift away from the last two hundred-year cycle of conjunctions in Earth Signs—Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn—which placed the emphasis on what’s practical and pragmatic, as in a “down to earth” attitude that’s focused on results. The new cycle in Air Signs places the emphasis on thoughtful idealism and kicks off in the Sign that embodies the principles of universal love.
The Sabian Symbols, a book by Marc Edmond Jones containing symbolism for every astrological degree (a really interesting read for those who want to drill down on astrological interpretation), lists an old adobe mission as the symbol for 0° Aquarius 29'. James Burgess’ website, Sabian Mysteries, cites “lasting values” as a key to understanding the implications of that symbolism. It’s definitely worth contemplating how this symbol speaks to the individual as well as to the collective. So as the conjunction approaches, make some time to think about your lasting values and how you integrate those values into your daily life. Here’s a link to Burgess’ site: www.jamesburgess.com/an-old-adobe-mission.html
There is a solar eclipse on Monday, December 14, at 23° Sagittarius, and as it happens, the eclipse takes place exactly on Mr. Trump’s Sun/Moon opposition. What we generally know about eclipses is that they reveal previously hidden information. We also know that their effects span a range of up to six weeks prior to and after the actual event. It’s not hard to imagine that there is more to be revealed about Mr. Trump and his affairs—alliances and behind-the-scene machinations—but we should expect even more startling revelations as his madness continues to take a toll on all of us.
As the week unfolds and we move closer to the solstice and the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction, don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing “this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius” instead of the normal seasonal favorites. We could all use some “mystic crystal revelations” and most importantly, “the mind’s true liberation.”
December 2 - 8, 2020
Hello to readers in Santa Fe!
Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction Part One.
We are in the final weeks of a long and difficult year, one that demanded we look much more deeply into how we want to live, especially when it comes to what we value most as individuals and as an aggregation of cultures inhabiting Planet Earth. 2020 began with the earth-shattering conjunction of Saturn and Pluto in the Sign of Capricorn. (For history buffs: Saturn and Pluto hadn’t been conjunct in Capricorn since 1518.) Saturn signifies structures, Pluto represents the process of death and resurrection, and their alignment in Capricorn dealt a death blow to many of the structures and systems we previously relied on. While we knew many of those structures had outlived their usefulness and were essentially corrupt and unjust—upholding racism and income inequality, to name just two—it took this dynamic conjunction to bring the injustice of those structures into clear sight. Pluto’s resurrective power is yet to begin and probably won’t be felt keenly for the next several years, given that we are only at the beginning of the United States of America Pluto Return—it won’t be exact until February, 2022. As you reflect on 2020, you don’t need me to tell you again the devastating consequences of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, which also included three Jupiter/Pluto conjunctions, all of which signaled surges of COVID-19. Just as a Jupiter/Pluto conjunction signaled the final wave of the Spanish Flu nearly one hundred years ago, we are in the wake of the third Jupiter/Pluto conjunction now and its effect will persist until spring.
But there is good astral news at the end of this arduous year. On the solstice, which occurs on December 21at 5:02 AM EST, another wheel-turning astral event takes place. While it’s not unlike the Saturn/Pluto conjunction in its intensity, this is a constructive, positive, and hopeful signature. At 1:20 PM EST—six hours after the winter solstice signals the return of the light—an exact Jupiter/Saturn conjunction occurs at 0° Aquarius 29'. Ancient astrologers, who were also astronomers, called Jupiter and Saturn the “Great Chronocrators”; both planets were (and still are) visible to the naked eye and both move more slowly (Saturn especially) in their orbits around the Sun than the other planets and thus were more closely associated with the passage of time. Jupiter and Saturn are conjunct every twenty years, and our ancestral sky watchers believed those conjunctions to be indicators of a new cycle.
Ancient astrologers also noticed a meta pattern that contained those twenty-year cycles: the conjunctions occurred within a specific astrological element for approximately two hundred years; then the conjunctions would shift to another element and the process would continue. Approximately every eight hundred years, the whole cycle would begin anew through the four elements. The completion of a cycle signaled a new regime, which these astrologers also saw as a time of great “social, economic and political” turning points. The conjunction on this year’s winter solstice is just such a seminal event. For those interested in a long list of this cycle, go to Richard Nolle’s site: www.astropro.com/features/tables/geo/ju-sa/ju000sa.html
Since the new cycle occurs in Aquarius, it is likely that you are already seeing claims that this conjunction signals the start of the Aquarian Age—and that may be the case. But it would be wise to understand that these cycles evolve over time. Yes, the utopian principles attributed to Aquarius are what we are searching for as remedies: an egalitarian perspective based on social justice and grounded in fellowship among all sentient beings, and innovation as the catalyst for solving many of our current problems. But we are only at the beginning of such a cycle and it will take time for individuals as well for our many global collective cultures to embrace and cultivate them in daily life.
Even if it does take time to achieve the necessary collective critical mass to manifest an innovative and more compassionate paradigm, at least we know the stars are supporting our efforts. So start thinking about what you want to bring into being under this new social signature and then align thought, word, and deed with your vision of what could be.
Sun Bursts: If you know your Ascendant and/or your Moon Sign, read that too.
November 25 - December 1, 2020
Hello to readers in Oakland!
I wish Joni Mitchell had written a melancholy song about Thanksgiving and a way to escape the stress. I am sure it would be pitch-perfect for Thanksgiving 2020, especially given all the concerns about family gatherings being superspreader events and the deluge of warnings not to travel—warnings that far too many of our fellow travelers are ignoring. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is the holiday that celebrates the year’s harvest; as politically incorrect as the event’s origins are, it’s still a day set aside for gratitude. The problem is that it’s hard to summon thanks for a year that’s hosted so much suffering. And as if to underscore the suffering that has persisted all year, the astrology for Thanksgiving Day isn’t very different from the astrology that has plagued us all year long, and those similarities are sure to sour the festivities. So whether your Thanksgiving is virtual or actual, be prepared for a restive rather than festive gathering—tempers are sure to be testy and anxiety is certain to be molded into the meal.
Here’s the skinny: The Moon is in Aries today and tomorrow, November 25 and 26, and as it moves through the Sign of the warrior, it conjuncts Mars, the Ruler of Aries, as it simultaneously squares the ongoing (and soon-to-separate) aggregation of planets—Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto—in Capricorn. As the Moon tilts conversations toward strong emotions and Mars promotes equally strong stands, even casual conversations could turn exasperating. Since the days of G.W. Bush and the Iraq War, lots of manuals have been written about how to keep the peace at the holiday table—virtual or actual--so if you need help avoiding the political crossfire, find one of those manuals and stick to the script. There are probably versions that include advice for managing pandemic conversations on Zoom.
A Venus/Uranus opposition turns affections fickle, so also anticipate attractions running hot and cold and then hot again—and then cooling off. But this is also a deeply creative interaction, so do your best to harness its power and then aim that creative force toward whatever you’re working on.
Mercury is still trining Neptune as it simultaneously sextiles Saturn, Jupiter, and Pluto, and because Mercury signifies all things related to thought and communication, there are opportunities for inspired and at the same practical ideas that could solve a multitude of problems—but only if you can listen to ideas that are contrary to your point of view. I confess… it’s hard to listen to the madness, even the madness I agree with. I’m not suggesting denial as a cure for anything, but sometimes tuning out can have beneficial results.
Here’s my list of who and what I am thankful for: each and every person, from doctors and nurses to private and public health workers to ambulance drivers to maintenance staffs to bus drivers to subway workers to police to firefighters to teachers to grocery store workers and food delivery people to postal workers and mail carriers and to anyone else who has been on the front lines during this pandemic. I am also grateful for all those around the world who are doing good works to help others even if their governments are not; that includes GoFundMe campaigns, food pantries, shelters, and every other type of assistance from counselors to coaches. And of course gratitude for all the scientists working on a vaccine.
Even if it is hard to give thanks for this year—and it is plenty difficult to do—find what you are grateful for and allow that awareness to buoy your perspective. There’s no solution for the grief of losing someone you love other than to allow yourself to grieve, and to feel grateful for the time you had.
On a different note… we can be deeply grateful that Trump is almost out and Biden is almost in, and even though the world is not going to settle down for some time, 2021 offers opportunities to start repairing the damage done and addressing what needs to change for all of us to survive a brave new world.
November 18 - 24, 2020
Hello to readers in Sydney!
Mercury Direct began on November 3, in the middle of Election Day, and Mars Direct began on Friday, November 13. Biden and Harris won and we are making actual progress on a vaccine for COVID-19—all good news, and yet the world still seems like a “mixed up, muddled up, shook up” mess that continues to be troubling as well as hard to make sense of, especially when so many of our fellow travelers continue to fall prey to the Facebook propaganda machine and other platforms that are quite content to stir discontent through falsehoods that grow more fantastical every day. Watch The Social Dilemma to get an idea of how algorithms are controlling what you see and hear—and why. It's a documentary by several defectors from social media—actually the creators of lots of programs—who suddenly have guilty consciences about the Frankensteins they’ve created and how their mathematical monsters have amplified our current state of polarization. It’s terrifying to see what—not who—is really behind the curtain.
It’s actually quite concerning to hear people continue to pronounce COVID-19 a hoax. Really? The suffering of so many people—those who have the virus, those who have died from it, the millions who are terrified they will contract it, all the families who have lost loved ones, as well as the doctors and nurses who are once again completely overwhelmed by a situation they can’t get under control for so any reasons, not the least of which are attributable to the callousness and cynicism of the outgoing administration—all working together to create this hoax? It’s impossible to comprehend how anyone can embrace such a false premise. Yes, I am angry about the ignorance that permeates our individual and collective consciousness, yet I also realize I am mad because it is so sad. We’ve created a world where everyone is an expert with a platform to share their opinions, many of which are not based in anything remotely factual. And what’s lacking in the midst of all these opinions is humility—no one seems to think their opinions might be wrong.
Conspiracy theories are the trend du jour. Most of the current batch are based on fears about being controlled by a group of elites who are hell-bent on enslaving the world. (Actually, that theory is accurate to the extent that so many of our fellow travelers are currently enslaved by these weird theories.)
Reasonable, good-hearted people think that President-Elect Biden is involved in nefarious activities. Again, really? Where’s the common sense that knows how to reason through such ideas and discard them because they are bullshit? Biden’s been in the public eye for nearly fifty years, which means that for all those years people have been trying to dig up dirt on him and so far nothing has emerged. Hello? Simple, straightforward reasoning would clear this up in a minute.
The good news is that we can make it through this mess, but to do that we have to be committed to clarity of mind, the ability to reason, and the wisdom of common sense. We also must unplug from the incessant siren’s song of social media. By November 23, Mercury will start to sextile the aggregation of planets in Capricorn. Because positive Mercury aspects lend themselves to clear, smart thinking, and because Capricorn is a pragmatic Sign interested in tangible results, there’s a chance that a modicum of common sense will prevail, which could help to slough off some of these trendy conspiracy theories and help more people to realize that COVID-19 is not a hoax.
In the meantime, we are still working out how to live peacefully with our fellow travelers, even those we disagree with. I know I’m angry, but again, I’m sad that so many people are causing so much harm—conscious or unconscious—to their fellow travelers because they’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the suffering of others is a pretense. More than ever, we need compassionate acts specifically intended to help others. Every life has a direct effect on every other life, whether or not we are aware of our essential interconnectedness. I may not approve of or agree with many of my fellow travelers, but despite my frustration, I’m still committed to compassion as a viable solution to our collective dilemma. That, and maybe an alien intervention, would solve a multitude of problems.
November 11 - 17, 2020
Hello to readers in Singapore!
The collective exhale is still palpable—it was so joyous on Saturday when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were declared the winners that I could hear the crowds cheering from hundreds of miles away. (Just kidding; the TV delivered the news.) And that jubilation is sure to continue rippling across the collective waters until the actual inauguration of Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris on January 20, despite just how much hard work lies before us in the coming weeks, months, and years as we heal the damage done not just by Trump but by all those who undermined our democracy. But for this moment I am relieved—relieved for the planet, relieved for our country, relieved for our citizens, relieved for our children, and personally deeply relieved that soon I won’t ever again have to write about Mr. Trump and his mendacious and rapacious Gang of Hungry Ghosts. Yet as deep as my relief is, I feel tremendous grief about what we’ve been through—what the greed and hatred and cruelty of the last several years has cost us. As that grief coalesces with the continuing casualties of COVID-19, we will need strength and fortitude to confront the difficult task of managing the virus. But right now I am happy, if only for a moment, to feel the community of joy and renaissance of hope that lifts the spirit and heals the heart.
This week, the sky continues to reflect our collective mood:
1. Tomorrow, November 12, is the third and final Jupiter/Pluto conjunction; the first two conjunctions signaled the spikes of COVID-19 cases, and this last conjunction does too. Expect the coming weeks and months to be fraught with ever-increasing infections and ensuing deaths. While you don’t need an astrologer to substantiate this increased COVID-19 intensity—the doctors and astrologers share that assessment—this last conjunction occurs at the same degrees as the Saturn/Pluto conjunction on January 12, 2020, which is the astrological signature that changed life as we know it. We may already be in this intensified phase, but my hunch is that Thanksgiving and Christmas will be super-spreader events as many of our fellow travelers succumb to virus fatigue and opt out of the appropriate precautions. Even the smartest among us could find it hard to wear masks or maintain appropriate social distancing amidst the lure of holiday traditions, but that doesn’t mean we should capitulate and refuse to take the necessary precautions.
2. Also on November 12, a Moon/Mars opposition feeds frustration levels, turning moods and attitudes emotionally volatile. Do your best to keep the peace, inside and out.
3. Mars Direct begins on Friday, November 13, at 7:36 PM EST. We’ve been under the thumb of Mars Retrograde since September 9. Mars is one of the planets that drives the mechanics of daily life—it signifies ambition, aggression, anger, assertion, and action. Mars doesn’t enjoy moving “backwards” one bit and as it “turns around,” its “forward motion” adds another level of relief to both personal and collective situations. Anticipate that certain daily routines will function with greater precision and purpose, but try not to be in too much of a hurry to enter the fast lane—Mars is going to linger at the same degree until Thanksgiving, which means Mars is taking its time getting up to speed, and so are we.
As this week and the coming weeks unfold, do your best to stay centered in the joy of this moment. Try not to let the challenges that lie ahead throw you off balance and disturb that joy. Yes, too many of our fellow travelers voted for Mr. Trump—far too many to ignore—and yes, again, there is a lot of work to do. That work will only be effective if each of us can find a way to open our hearts to what we don’t understand. Compassion isn’t about agreement or permission. Racism is never the right thing, but hating the hater isn’t the solution. So in the midst of your joy, spend some time contemplating how you can find a higher love that includes everyone because we are all, like it or not, in this together.
November 4 - 10, 2020
Hello to readers everywhere!
As many of you know, I always write a couple of days before the column is published, which makes it impossible to write about the election. I have no idea who’s going to win and I can only hope that a blue wave sweeps the country, and we are set free from the tyranny of Mr. Trump and his Gang of Hungry Ghosts. Even if Biden wins, we will not automatically be freed from the toxicity Trump’s reign has fomented; we will have to spend the next many years trying to build a more perfect union. As I have mentioned before, we are on the threshold of the American Revolution 2.0 and these tortuous days of turmoil are the preamble to the United States Pluto Return, when we take stock of where we are, what we’ve done, and how we are going to move forward. But more about that in the weeks and months to come.
This week, there are several significant astral interactions of note:
1. Mercury Direct began yesterday. It usually takes a couple of days for Mercury to gain forward momentum, but because Mars is still retrograde, it may take longer than usual to feel Mercury’s direct effect. If you can, wait till the end of the week to initiate plans and projects.
2. Mars Retrograde is in its final ten days, which is one of the reasons Mercury’s forward motion is sluggish. Mars began its retrograde phase on September 9 and it goes direct on November 13. But from now until November 21, Mars stays at 15 degrees Aries, which means even though it is moving forward, we’re likely to feel as if it is standing still. (I can’t help but hear Willie Nelson singing “still is still moving to me.”) You’re going to need patience—lots and lots and lots of patience, especially as many of our fellow travelers take stands and move into action. We are the peacekeepers and we need to remember that. No matter who wins the election, there are going to be a lot of pissed-off people, and because Mars signifies anger, its forward motion is going to feel like permission to act out and pick fights just to blow off steam. Resist the temptation to blame and be very careful not to take out your frustration on anyone, especially those most vulnerable.
3. On November 12, right before Mars Direct, the third Jupiter/Pluto conjunction is exact. This is the combination that has been present for the COVID-19 spikes. The first was April 4; the second occurred on June 30. This last one is a doozy, and not just because the conditions are perfect for mass infections. This final conjunction takes place at the exact degree of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction on January 12—the configuration that changed life as we know it. A Jupiter/Pluto conjunction at that very same degree underscores the pernicious effect of that January conjunction, reminding us of all that’s been set in motion over the last year while simultaneously reminding us that the effect of Saturn/Pluto is going to resonate for quite some time. It’s going to be a rough winter and as the COVID-19 cases surge, we all need to be prepared for the intensity and grief it leaves in its wake.
We know that tremendous healing work lies ahead. To be sure, we will eventually need some sort of reconciliation process whose primary aim is unity, but we aren’t there yet. Mr. Trump and those behind him may delight in exacerbating chaos and violence, but most of us know that hatred is not the answer. Love is the answer and it will help us find our way through what divides us so that we can create a more compassionate world.
October 28 - November 2, 2020
Hello to readers in Washington, D.C.
The intensity intensifies this week and emotional currents are charged—exceptionally charged—so before you leap into impulsive responses and by doing so inadvertently contribute to the madness of our extreme polarization, think before you leap into a chasm you might find hard to escape. This advice is not about being a wuss—it’s about taking in the depth and breadth of our situation and taking responsibility for your contribution. Those of us determined to find the ground of unity—the ground of loving-kindness—are needed more than ever, and part of our mission is to keep a clear head and even clearer heart. We need clear heads and dispassionate responses to make it through these waves. It is going to take a Herculean effort to stay focused and committed to compassion.
The Moon in Aries is the source of this week’s intense emotional charge. First it conjuncts Mars, also in Aries, forming a union that feeds a fighting spirit and encourages leaping into action even when action is ill-advised. Think before you leap or speak, and also before you throw down in a strident effort to get your point across. What’s more, the Moon also squares the ongoing aggregation of planets in Capricorn—Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn, in that order—as it has every month since January, stirring the effect of that combination of influences, which has been most apparent through the dissolution and deconstruction of governmental, financial, and political structures—basically everything. Emotional reactions to this dissolution of reality continue to run high, making it wise to consider how or whether to participate in arguments that might escalate into more than a difference of opinion before you jump in feet first.
The Moon moves into Taurus by Saturday, where it immediately conjuncts Uranus, the revolutionary freedom fighter of the astrological pantheon, and as it does, it sheds its lunar light on the Sun/Uranus opposition, a powerful interaction that feeds the need to break free from whatever enslaves. While the Moon moves on, the Sun/Uranus opposition lingers until November 6, well after Election Day. Expect revolutionaries of every ilk to be active throughout the coming weeks. Do your best as an evolutionary to hold the ground of applied, practical compassion and do your best to keep the peace.
And speaking of Election Day… Mercury Direct begins at 12:49 EST on November 3, a “change of direction” that could hasten the collection of election results even though it takes a moment to gain forward momentum. Until Mercury goes direct, the next six days of its retrograde will exacerbate the already too-intense atmosphere. So rather than be in too much of a hurry, continue to take life at a pace you can manage.
Mars Retrograde continues until November 13; it began on September 9, and after two-months-plus of Mars moving “backwards,” the routines of daily life will accelerate, but not quite yet—more about that next week. Let’s get through the election before we look at the return of more regular routines.
The week’s intensity only increases over the course of the next several days; not only is our collective breath held waiting to see what happens with the election, but even if you’re somehow managing to avoid election anxiety, the dual retrogrades of Mercury and Mars makes unencumbered forward motion nearly impossible. So keep your patience pills handy, and also do whatever you can to keep your spirit buoyed. Seek out positive interactions and positive messages. And remember to love—love transforms revolution into evolution. It’s so important to remember that there are more people who love than who hate, and that we are actually stronger because we love.
If you haven’t seen this video, allow it to inspire your efforts to hold the light: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jk7LPpY8pXM
October 21 - 27, 2020
Hello to readers in Fortuna!
Almost everyone (okay, everyone) is holding their breath. So much hangs in the balance that no one is inhaling or exhaling until the United States presidential election is decided—and that’s still a couple of weeks away, so if you find yourself gasping for air, don’t be surprised. What’s more, not only are many of our fellow travelers suffering from post-traumatic Trump disorder (not post enough for me), they’re also wrestling with the demon of post-traumatic Hillary-2016 disorder, debate disorder, immigration disorder, election meddling disorder, U.S. Post Office dismantling disorder, is it safe to vote? disorder, Russian interference and Giuliani/Ukraine disorder, and most importantly, present-day traumatic pandemic disorder, which shows itself as pandemic fatigue or phobia. Daily life has morphed into such a shitshow of psychological disorders and social dysfunction that each of us, no matter how hard we try to cope, is nevertheless on tenterhooks until we know what’s next or who’s next. In the middle of this suspended state with everyone afraid to breathe, the planets continue to align in complex patterns. The pernicious aggregation of the Sun/Mars/Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto T-square is starting to separate. Mars is moving out of range of the Sun and Saturn even as it lingers in a square to Pluto; the separation stage of that interaction lasts until October 26, and the last echo of its square to Jupiter ends by Halloween. Anticipate lots of finger-pointing and blaming rants as all of these belligerent interactions pull apart. Do your best to steer clear of judgmental rants—there’s simply no need to add to the negative, deafening cacophony that’s blaring across the airwaves.
But in the meantime, the Moon transits the ongoing Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn until Friday morning, which means the light of the Moon is illuminating that entire bundle again. Remember that from an astrological perspective, this combination of planetary influences that is causing the world to wobble wildly. Each month this year, the Moon has ramped up that emotional component through a series of conjunctions, squares, and oppositions, which in this instance all have a negative effect. Expect everyone to be hyper-emotional, a condition that could translate into even more meltdowns, yours or others. Let’s put both the malicious Mars signature and the pernicious aggregation of the Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto conjunction behind us.
And on that note, let’s take a moment to applaud all those who have made and continue to make a fantastic and determined effort to hold their tongues and other inclinations to lash out at others. We don’t hear about this effort on the news or online, but lots and lots of people have upped their compassion practice. Their mantra is “be kind, be kind, be kind.”
The good news—and there is always good news—has to do with Venus in Virgo. Venus is trining that same bundle in Capricorn, adding a lighter touch to what might be an overwhelming anxiety about what lies ahead. Venus is the goddess of grace and when she shines her light on almost any configuration, we experience her softening presence. Allow yourself to experience love that doesn’t only have to be romantic—this trine is an opening to fall in love with the sky, sea, dog, cat, or even a single flower. Surrender to her influence, if just for a moment, and let your heart be refreshed—this positive influence lasts for the next several days.
Mercury Retrograde continues until November 3, and as it reviews its recent path, we’re looking at the details of our own, particularly the specifics of what’s already in motion. Take your time with this process—there are always things that Mercury Retrograde reveals that could use careful attention. And try not to be too frustrated with the details and detours that Mercury Retrograde always seems to facilitate. This retrograde is a bit odd—some things are moving quickly and others at the pace of molasses.
These next couple of weeks aren’t going to be easy. Not only is everyone holding their breath, but the dual retrograde of Mercury and Mars is going to derail a lot of regular routines. So do your best to self-soothe and if at all possible, lend a hand to those less skilled at navigating the intensities.
October 14 - 20, 2020
Hello to readers in Penasco!
As I study the astral patterns for the week, knowing and feeling the madness that surrounds us, all I can hear in my head is John Lennon singing:
I'm sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth now
I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic
All I want is the truth now
Just gimme some truth
I am probably not alone, especially this week, as the Republicans push through their candidate for the Supreme Court and we are forced to remember Kavanaugh. But this week especially, when so many lies have been told and repeated in the name of winning the game, it’s hard to imagine that we will ever learn to trust each other again. What’s more, the lies are becoming increasingly dangerous to all of us. Really… what world are we inhabiting where a militia group plans to kidnap a governor because they don’t agree with her efforts to enforce pandemic protocols? But not only that… who are these people so wounded by violence that all they can think of as a solution to their personal suffering is to cause harm to others? The lies are despicable; they make me angry; and they make me sad. So sad that if I listen closely to our collective grief, I can hear an ocean of souls weeping from the millions of lies—most in the name of god—that we must still endure, and from the violence perpetrated in the name of those lies. Yes, I know that violence is part of the human condition, but it doesn’t have to be. We now know so much about the patterns of abuse and how to heal them that it feels like a freakish nightmare to be caught up in this retro passion play.
I’ve often thought that Mr. Trump’s minions were comprised of people whose fathers or mothers or brothers or sisters were bullies. Abused in childhood, they are attuned to the abusive authoritarian; their nervous systems are calibrated to the cruelty. Mr. Trump is familiar to them—he is the parent they had or still have and they are still seeking his love and approval, believing he does no wrong.
They missed the healing revolution that occurred over the last many decades and simultaneously with the recovery movement; they’ve been acting out of their personal PTSD, unable to break the cycle of abuse. Mimicking their abuser, they become the abuser, perpetuating the dysfunctional and often violent family system they were born into. Mary Trump’s book, Too Much and Never Enough, describes the abusive system that is Mr. Trump’s heritage. We are all subjected to the consequences of his abuse and his reaction to it. His followers, consciously or unconsciously, recognize that shared experience.
The astrology for the week, quite strikingly, brings the victim/victimizer dance to life: Mars in Aries opposes the Sun in Libra, and both the Sun and Mars square the Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn. It’s a pernicious T-square that encourages sheer brute force as a way of solidifying power. Be wary of engaging in any activities or conversations that you perceive as oppressive or oppositional. The solution and release of tension for any T-square is found in the “empty” Sign, and in this case, because the T-square occurs in Cardinal signs, the empty Sign is Cancer. Known for its issues around safety and security, Cancer is also the Sign of nurturing and care. So concentrate on those positive attributes to counter balance the pernicious signature of this T-square. Care for those you love and care about those you don’t even know.
This square was exact yesterday, October 13, the same day Mercury Retrograde began, and it is separating for the next week—but its effect will last for several days after that given the ill will that’s certain to linger long after the battle. And one of the reasons it lingers is Mercury Retrograde, which began approximately two and a half hours after the T-square started to separate. Mercury Retrograde ends at 12:50 PM, November 3, on Election Day.
Also be aware that the New Moon in Libra on October 16 is certain to amplify emotional issues, which could cause even the most circumspect among us to lose it and simply melt down.
Cardinal Signs—Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn—are the action Signs of the Zodiac. When they are busy aligning with each other, it’s quite difficult to exercise restraint—you just want to do something. And when these Signs persist in a negative combination, which they have been since the beginning of the year, it’s particularly difficult not to act. That impulse to act is why this week it is wiser to practice the Daoist notion of wu-wei and take no unnecessary action this week. This is not an invitation to be passive in the face of what needs attention. It is to become aware of what is motivating your actions: are you reacting or responding? Acting out of habit? Fear? Anger? Most importantly, are you being truthful with yourself and others? You’ll need to breathe deeply and often to maintain your patience, especially with those less aware or determined to act without regard to the long-term consequences. Compassion has never been more important.
October 7 - 13, 2020
Hello to readers in New Orleans!
It’s hard to stay confident when the world wobbles and the ground feels fluid, especially when those wobbles aren’t from earthquakes, explosions, or meteorite collisions. The world is wobbling from deeply profound shifts, some of which we are doing our best to understand. Nevertheless, as these tremors shudder across the collective they are affecting everyone, regardless of whether we’re aware or unaware of the magnitude of change that’s taking place. The effect of these changes will last long past the events that engendered them. The turmoil and tumult will eventually fade away, but right now, when it feels impossible to rely on anyone or anything, it’s important to remember that it is possible to find an internal steadiness that can’t be put asunder by the madness of this moment or any other. Yes, the madness is overwhelming, and yes, again, most of us are overwhelmed and fatigued from nearly four years of chaos, but there is a reality that transcends the flux of daily life, and that transcendent reality can provide a perspective capable of righting your personal ship and restoring your confidence. The transitory world may be wobbling, but we can still hold steady within ourselves when we connect to a higher power that endures beyond time and space.
I’m standing by last week’s assessment that change is in the air, but the astrology for the next couple of weeks remains grim, making it all the more necessary to do whatever it is you do to strengthen your connection to the broadest possible perspective. Here’s the skinny on the grim astral picture:
1. The ongoing Mars/Saturn square continues—we’ve been in the pernicious grip of this influence since the beginning of September and it persists until Friday, October 16. This is a hard-hearted planetary combination that feeds the need for sheer brute force as a way of handling frustration and anger about almost anything. Please avoid acting out your aggression on those who don’t deserve it, especially children, animals, and innocent bystanders.
2. By tomorrow, October 8, the Sun in Libra begins its opposition to Mars, retrograde in Aries, as it simultaneously squares Saturn, direct in Capricorn. The Sun represents the life force; Mars symbolizes anger and outrage; and when they oppose each other, lots of us feel the need to flex our anger muscles, so anticipate that people will be even more inclined to fight than they already are.
3. But that’s not all. The Sun/Mars/Saturn bundle is amplified by the Sun’s square to Jupiter and Pluto, both also in Capricorn and both close enough to be included. All of these interactions indicate intensified power struggles. Put simply: it’s a mess. And that mess is likely to show itself as belligerence even when anger is unwarranted. Most of us are going to want to blow off steam, so find a punching bag that isn’t animate, and have at it. So much of what’s happening is so outrageous that keeping a level head requires a gargantuan effort.
4. But wait, there’s more. The Sun/Mars opposition is exact and separating on Tuesday, October 13 (the day Mercury Retrograde begins) and by Friday, October 16, the Moon joins the team, amplifying the emotional component of these already difficult interactions. The separation phase of an intense interaction is when we experience the brunt of its influence, but since we’ve been in this energy field long enough to pay rent, many of us could shrug it off, or—and this is the more likely response—many of our fellow travelers could just melt down. Be especially kind to children during this time—they often channel planetary intensities with no awareness of what they are doing.
5. Yes, you read that correctly… Mercury Retrograde begins on October 13 and lasts until (I hope you are sitting down) November 3, Election Day, here in the United States. Mercury and Mars symbolize the mechanics of daily life; Mercury represents all forms of communication, negotiation, and travel, and Mars is the muscle that moves everything. Fortunately, they are not retrograde in an opposition to each other, but these impending shifts indicate is just how many obstacles and obstructions are likely as we move toward the elections. Be sure to start your retrograde safety back-ups now—don’t wait until next Tuesday.
In the non-election universe, this dual retrograde is certain to produce traffic snarls, communication confusion, and lots of late or missed appointments. Take it all in stride—there’s just too much to cope with and everyone is having a hard time dealing with it all.
Staying confident in the midst of such massive uncertainty is no easy feat, but that’s what we—all of us, everywhere—are being asked to do. The world is wobbling and none of us are immune to the dislocation, physical as well as psychic, that permeates every aspect of daily life, not just in the United States but around the globe. We are no longer discrete cultures—we can pretend we are, but one of the lessons COVID-19 has taught us is that we are inextricably bound to one another. So let’s make the most of that by upping our kindness and compassion practice. It’s not an easy thing to do under this kind of stress but it is absolutely necessary for our individual and collective well-being.
September 30 - October 6, 2020
Hello to readers in Los Angeles!
When I would drop LSD way back in the 1960s, just as the acid was coming on, there would be a slightly tinny taste at the back of my throat, a taste that signaled the start of the trip or what I lovingly referred to as my “ticket to Wonderland.” That’s what the air feels like right at this point in time and space—tinny and thin, and as I put it to a friend today, reminiscent of an acid trip about to begin. Don’t get me wrong—the last many months of hell are best described as a bad acid trip; we’ve been in a negative altered state for too long, trying to cope with a life-threatening disease that’s straight out of The Stand (the Stephen King novel that’s all about a disease that wipes out almost everyone on Earth). Nevertheless, it feels as if we’re on the verge of crossing the threshold into a new dimension that doesn’t seem as dismal.
Life has definitely become stranger than fiction, especially as I listen to the lies about COVID-19’s potency, the politicization of its presence and cure, and the outright refusal by Trump and his administration to tell the truth so that people can protect themselves and others. The United States government devolves daily into increased chaos from even more unchecked corruption, and that devolution exacerbates both a personal and collective psychic dislocation. And when I think about the millions of fellow travelers out of work and out of money, homeless and hungry, and then take in the reality that the Republicans’ only priority is a Supreme Court nominee who will strike down the Affordable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic, I lose my breath. Mr. Trump blatantly bragging about his plans to steal the election is almost as insane as the UK closing pubs at 10PM—as if the virus only infects people late at night. Honestly, where is the Queen of Hearts when you need her? Yet all of that is not quite as crazy as Mr. DeSantis, the governor of Florida, opening hotels, bars, and restaurants, while Florida crawls with so many COVID-19 cases that those outbreaks of the Zika virus pale in comparison.
The world is so surreal, I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me that someone had poisoned the world’s water system with bad psychedelics, trapping us in a bad collective acid trip that’s nowhere near Wonderland.
But no matter how many more situations are added to the litany of awful things that have become the new normal, that tinny feeling in the back of my throat is still there. It’s persisted for the last week or so, and I can only surmise that we must be entering an even dizzier dimension than the one we are in—but the good news is that negative signature is shifting and there is light shining through the cracks of our broken system. More people care about the rule of law and are willing to take a stand for what they believe in; many more people are motivated to vote than previously expected; and Trump’s efforts to subvert the election process are being laid bare for everyone to see—and finally enough people understand the reality of his soullessness and the soullessness of his Gang of Hungry Ghosts.
It’s particularly odd to write about anticipating positive action on the day after the ongoing Mars/Saturn square was exact and began separating—the phase of any astrological interaction during which the full brunt of the influence is felt. What’s more, because Saturn Direct began yesterday, which prolongs its lingering at specific degrees, we will be in the ripple effect of this pernicious Mars/Saturn interaction for the next several weeks—it doesn’t abate until October 24. So it would be wise to prepare for even more bellicose interactions and violence. Still, there is a shift in the wind. I know I could be wrong, but change is in the air.
I’m not expecting miracles; the turmoil and chaos aren’t going to evaporate overnight or even after the election, which means we aren’t coming down from our collective bad trip soon or easily. But even though the next several weeks are going to be hell, we are turning a corner, and as I said before, light is making its way through the cracks in what was once our system. That’s why I think the tinny taste won’t go away—call me optimistic Alice, but I’m thinking the bad dream is coming to end. So continue to be kind to your fellow travelers, especially if you don’t agree with them; like it or not, we are all in this together, polarized but nonetheless two halves of the same whole, and we must imagine peace is possible.
September 23 - 29, 2020
Hello to readers in Columbus!
I can’t write about Ruth Bader Ginsberg this week, not just because everyone is writing about her but because her death has made it harder to hold onto hope—and we need hope at this particular moment almost as much as we need air to breathe. And because her death is a blow to the cause of justice, a blow that will reverberate throughout the next several weeks (and perhaps, unfortunately, for years to come), those of us who hold hope high need to stay focused on how we can navigate these weeks knowing that Trump and his followers are reinforcing their commitment to a regime of tyranny based on ruthlessness, selfishness, cruelty, and ignorance. This regime will eventually come to an end; we just don’t know when.
The important astrological news of the week is Saturn Direct, which begins on Tuesday, September 29. Saturn’s retrograde phase began on May 11and since that time it’s been retracing its path back to the beginning of February—and so have we. Saturn symbolizes rules and regulations as well as systems and structures but its most important function is the ability to distill wisdom from experience. Now, as it moves forward, we have another chance to reflect on choices made and actions taken since February. Needless to say, this covers the entire period of the pandemic, so be willing to look at your choices with an eye toward noticing what needs refinement as well as what you did right. Saturn Retrograde has also been reviewing the deconstruction of governments and other organizations as a consequence of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction—the astrological configuration that dissolved “normal” and is still dissolving regular routines.
The astral problem this week is the ongoing Mars/Saturn square, which continues to inflame the environment; even if you aren’t living on the West Coast, the air is so agitated and anxious that it’s difficult to breathe. This Mars/Saturn square is a pernicious interaction that fuels hard-hearted and harsh attitudes. We’ve been under its influence for nearly a month and because of Mars Retrograde and Saturn Direct, this square is exact on the day Saturn Direct begins, which means that the coming weeks are rife with strife and aggression, even more than we are experiencing now. It’ll take a huge intentional effort to stay strong and on course as the volatile winds of this square tear through the routines of daily life. Please remember to be kind to everyone you encounter.
By tomorrow and Friday, the Moon conjuncts the Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto combination in Capricorn and by next Friday, October 2, the Moon conjuncts Mars, so there is no let-up to the highly charged emotional environment. While I always advise that it’s best to lead with your heart, you will need to balance your head and your heart. Be smart and try to think before you speak. We live in extraordinary times, times that demand extraordinary responses. Holding on to hope won’t be easy, but holding on to hope is a must.
Last week I wrote that there are 630 billionaires living in the United States and that it might be a good idea for 50 of those billionaires to adopt a state and get to work building homes and repairing infrastructure, all with an eye toward sustainability. Of course, some states might need more than one billionaire’s funding depending on the depth and breadth of their need.) I received several positive responses to the column. One reader suggested that we get the idea rolling by writing letters to the editors, sharing the idea of billionaires for transformation around the nation. Another reader sent me an article about Chuck Feeney, a cofounder of the Duty Free Shoppers travel retailer, who vowed to spend all his money on charitable causes before he died—he is the inspiration for the Giving While Living movement among billionaires. I didn’t know about his generosity, but I do now, and he is my inspiration as well. Feel free to quote last week’s column and no need to credit me… let’s credit Mr. Feeney’s inspiring example.
Let’s be moved by generosity rather than fear as we let purpose guide our best intentions.
September 16 - 22, 2020
Hello to readers everywhere!
On September 2, I wrote that it felt as if we had moved to Mars—a reference to just how aggressively the Martian air was (and still is) dominating our daily lives. Now I am sure we’ve living on the red planet because the skies over the West Coast and the pictures coming out of California, Oregon, and Washington are otherworldly; the red skies resemble a Martian science-fiction movie. But of course, we’re still on Earth, doing our best to survive the madness that has become our world. As fires destroy the homes and lives of so many fellow travelers, those of us not caught in the storm can still bear witness to the consequences of climate change. Couple that devastation with the equally pernicious devastation of the COVID-19 global pandemic and the devastating economic pandemic in its wake, with worsening consequences of hunger and homelessness, and it’s hard to hold out hope that we will make it through the insanity that has replaced the regular, reliant routines of our lives. It also is increasingly difficult to explain to our children, who will inherit a burned-out shell of a planet that was once the jewel of our solar system, how we managed to destroy something so beautiful.
Sorry to be Debbie Downer, but there’s simply no way to write about the astral patterns of the coming week without setting the stage and acknowledging just how many of our fellow travelers are suffering, from people to pets to the millions of creatures who have lost their habitat. It’s too much to bear, but bear it we must, especially those of us who aren’t directly affected by the physical suffering but will still feel the tidal waves of grief as they crash upon the shores of our lives. No matter how far away we may be from the fires’ flames and smoke, or how safely we have stayed during the last eight months, or how generously we share what we have, climate change affects everyone and everything, everywhere.
I am at a loss to read the skies this week—there is no normal, which makes it folly or denial to go on interpreting celestial activity as if the activities of daily life are continuing in some recognizable way. I am proposing a different interpretation, one that is rooted the question, “what are you going to do about it?” Mars in Aries is about action—physical action that confronts situations with the courage of a warrior. In our case—mine and those readers who are aligned with similar principles—we are spiritual warriors and thus carry the mantle of transformational vision and the will to put it in motion. Each of us must find what we can do individually to help our fellow travelers, from supporting food banks to Habitat for Humanity—there is no shortage of ways to help in our communities.
But this week, I am proposing a larger vision. Let’s start a movement that harnesses the pioneering fire of Mars in Aries to try something new and create a new paradigm for sustainable, compassionate life on Earth.
According to CNBC, as of this spring there are 630 billionaires living in the United States, and while not all of them have the same number of billions, once you’re in the billions it doesn’t much matter. These billionaires should each adopt a state. It will take billions to replace lost homes and damaged infrastructure; to provide food, temporary housing, schools for children (even in the time of coronavirus), and trauma treatment for all the displaced, as well as providing for all the other necessities of life—the needs of our fellow travelers are right there in front of us no matter what media sources we are linked to.
Billionaires adopting states must—I know that’s a strong word—make sure that their plans to rebuild include green innovation and conservation that address and correct the mistakes of the past. These billionaires must also address education: each billionaire could adopt a state school system, providing much-needed resources, especially for populations most at risk. The same billionaire or another could adopt the healthcare systems. Of course, each billionaire will have her or his agenda, but in light of the current conditions of our planet, those agendas won’t really matter if we continue to be overwhelmed with fire, disease, and poverty. You can’t take your billions with you when you die—not one penny can squeeze through the portal from this dimension to another—so you might as well spend all that loot helping people now and making the world a better place; perhaps even seeding the restoration of a healthy environment for future generations.
Mars in Aries is always happiest blazing a new trail, and while I realize my plan is completely idealistic and altruistic (I have Aries Rising), I am willing to hold the space that there are at least fifty among those 630 billionaires who want to make a substantial difference in the world, with an immediate effect. Rather than syphoning the help through foundations which would take precious time we don’t have, it would be wiser for these philanthropists to help states directly, and as those mountains of money help millions of people, take a pledge not to run for office—just stick to philanthropy. Rebuilding communities ravished by fire, supporting green innovation, insuring that every child has a place to live and enough food to eat, making sure that every student has a computer and Wi-Fi, and ending homelessness should be the agenda for progressive billionaires. Money, as well we know, guarantees agency. The motto for this movement should be “Just do it.” Yes, I know this is Nike’s brand, but really, right now, as Oregon is in flames, we need Nike’s generosity as well.
All that’s needed to create this new paradigm is a change of heart—no red tape, just a vision of what the world could be if those who had the resources to help also had the will to put that vision into motion. We need visionaries not politicians. We need active, practical compassion, not gridlocked policies that prohibit progress. We need our wealthy fellow travelers to invest in the planet. We need leaders with heart.
September 9 - 15, 2020
Hello to readers in Iqaluit!
It would be all too tempting to just throw in the towel and say I’m tuning out and won’t be paying attention to anything related to the state of the States until after the election is over and COVID-19 is a thing of the past. Except that, alas, it cannot be done because there’s no telling when the election results will be in or when COVID-19 will finally be reined in by widespread vaccinations. We’re all attempting to learn how to live with constant uncertainty, but the madness of what’s happening around us is taking its toll. Some people are handling the uncertainty as best they can by devoting themselves to helping others, trying to contribute to a sense of well-being and genuine concern for their fellow travelers. Others, driven by anxiety, impatience, or the need to control something—anything—are moving into less beneficent forms of action; unfortunately, that need to do only provides a false sense of control and ultimately just contributes further to the chaos and unrest. We know Mr. Trump is fomenting frustration and fear in the hope that the ensuing chaos will work for his benefit. We also know that Mr. Biden is determined to stay calm and collected. The contrast between the two is extraordinary because it clearly demonstrates the great divide shaking the foundations of America.
Part of the current chaos is based on reality—the pandemic is real and so are its devastating consequences—but the conspiracy theories roiling the chaos are not grounded in reality—not one little bit. I wrote about this weeks ago, so I won’t go too deeply into it again. Humans need narratives to make sense of the world—even a world where alternate “facts” have been intentionally created to confuse and obfuscate the truth, but can nonetheless be used to create a story. We make up or believe stories, no matter how far-fetched, because they help organize our experiences and create order—it’s just human nature. I realize that we are used to thinking of such narrative impulses as part of wisdom traditions—and mostly that’s how they were used—but everyone tells stories, even if those stories are (as a close friend would say) “batshit crazy.”
I’m not particularly interested in any story other than the one we are currently experiencing—confusion and chaos included—because that story is the most potent and will determine what’s next. More importantly, I’m not interested in narratives that are not intended to heal: Democrats are not cannibalistic pedophiles—most of us can agree on that—yet the most disturbing thing about that story is that there are people who actually believe it. These strange stories are another indication of just how much work there is to do to educate people; work that will have to go on for the next many years no matter who wins the election. Unfortunately, we will be hearing these theories, and newer ones, over and over and over again as we close in on Election Day—and we’re likely to hear more conspiracy theories after our ballots are cast. Do whatever you can to maintain your clarity of mind in the coming weeks. It won’t be easy staying clear-headed, but it is absolutely necessary.
Mars Retrograde, which begins today and continues until November 13, is a major contributor to the constant repetition of these conspiracy theories, but only reluctantly—Mars wants to hear the tales of brave Ulysses, not the dark imaginings of those who have nothing better to do than try to terrify their fellow travelers. It will take a Herculean effort to resist the seduction of these stories, but resist we must.
As Mars retraces its path for the next two months, we retrace ours, specifically what’s been set in motion since July 25. Because Mars signifies movement, the next many weeks are going to be a review of what’s been set in motion as well as how we’ve reacted to what was already in motion. From a personal perspective, expect to review and reconsider the consequences of actions taken over the course of the last seven weeks. From a collective perspective, Mars’ review translates into a lot more information about COVID-19—Mars Direct occurs the day after the third and final Jupiter/Pluto conjunction, which in this particular instance signifies the third wave of the virus, a time we already know will be the most perilous phase of the pandemic.
Mars Retrograde also reviews the current state of agitation and aggression that is permeating almost every aspect of life. Activists are empowered by Mars, the archetype of the warrior, but as most activists know, the point of protests is peaceful, adamant persistence in the face of injustice. The Black Lives Matter movement is catalyzing the course of history—it is not a fad or a trend, but a reality that we can no longer agree to bigotry of any kind.
On Monday there was a piece in the New York Times by Pico Iyer that referenced the Dalai Lama’s notion of emotional disarmament as a way through our current environment of polarization. Emotional disarmament will require another Herculean effort, but as Iyer points out, it is achievable because it is an act of personal responsibility and something we can all do, regardless of politics. It’s certainly worth the effort, especially if it diffuses and transforms the aggressive energy we’ve all been experiencing. Here’s the link, if you haven’t read it.
September 2 - 8, 2020
Hello to readers in London!
Just in case you were wondering why even the air has an attitude… we moved to Mars (actually, we arrived a couple of weeks ago; the good news is that we aren’t growing potatoes just yet), and while a new perspective is always exciting, Mars isn’t exactly the peacemaking planet of the astrological system. Given the local and global state of our situation, it would be great if we could make love instead of war, but Mars is the god of war, and its dominant presence for the last couple of weeks as well as for the next couple ahead turns the already aggressive air even more confrontational. I know it’s hard to imagine how things could get any more mean-spirited than they already are, but with this Martian emphasis on battle, things are sure to get worse—much worse. I’m not reporting this to exacerbate your anxiety; I’m pointing out the obvious so that you can solidify your commitment to keeping the peace. Those less aware of astral influences may not be able to resist the call of physical battle, which is why those of us who are aware of the multidimensional forces at work during this moment need to keep our internal universe steady so that we can do whatever we can to help others make it through this angry atmosphere.
You don’t need an astrologer to tell you that we are in the midst of a unique moment here on planet Earth, a moment that holds Earth in the balance. Yet an astrological perspective might be able to shed some light on why aggression seems to have infiltrated so many interactions. We’re under the influence of several unique Martian configurations, all of which inflame belligerent attitudes and testy tempers spoiling for a fight. It’s as if Grouchy, Irritable, and Angry (three lesser-known Disney dwarves) have taken the reins of regular routines and are driving the action directly toward close encounters of the fuming kind. I don’t think anyone is exempt from these frequencies, but I also don't think that irate acting-out has to be the only choice. Even if you find yourself gnashing your teeth with impatience and intolerance, do your best to talk yourself down. I’m not suggesting you relinquish your principles; I’m simply advising that nonviolence is the only attitude that will succeed. The problem is that saying “no” to aggression usually requires greater courage than engaging in violence, which is why saying no to a fight won’t be easy.
Here’s the breakdown—keep in mind as you read through this that Mars is currently in Aries, its Home Sign, where it is strongest.
(1) Mars Retrograde begins on September 9, which means that for the next two weeks—the week prior to the retrograde and the first week of the retrograde—Mars is “slowing down,” turning these next weeks into a slog. Mars is a forward- moving planet and it doesn’t like downshifting. What’s more, Mars is one of the planets that drives the mechanics of daily life—it symbolizes muscles, which is why “slowing down” isn’t its favorite gear. Expect lots of people and situations to try your patience—lots of folks will be in a hurry and nothing, absolutely nothing, is certain to move quickly.
(2) Since August 8, we’ve been under the influence of a Mars/Saturn square, a pernicious interaction that often devolves into cruelty and violence. Mars represents assertion and it wants to move freely, which is why it symbolizes the pioneer who is always seeking new adventures; Saturn signifies authority, and while its mission is to teach, Saturn often uses hindrance and limitation to make its point. In all cases of Mars/Saturn interactions, Saturn wins, if only because the gravity of experience wins over the desire to move and keep moving. Squares are fractious interactions, and this square is exceptionally strident because Saturn is also in its Home Sign, which strengthens its presence and influence.
This Mars/Saturn square was exact on Monday, August 24, the day after Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times at point-blank range. Normally (and I do know that normal is no longer), it is the separation stage—the days after exact contact—that demonstrate the manifestation of an interaction. But there’s a hitch to this square—the separation stage doesn’t really end; it lingers, and lingers, and lingers, which only exacerbates the already agitated atmosphere.
(3) And it lingers because as Mars is “turning around,” Saturn is “preparing” to end its retrograde, which began on May 11. Saturn goes direct on September 29—the same day as the second exact Mars/Saturn square—and as this second square separates, we’ll witness the devastation of its prolonged contact. (Of course, we could all become devotees of nonviolence by October, but it’s not looking good.) Mars and Saturn won’t truly separate until mid-October, which means we have to endure at least six more weeks of this bellicose air—and it sucks. Nevertheless, we soldier on, committed to holding the ground of a spiritual warrior, working for peace and goodwill. Ignorance of our essential interconnectedness and interdependence make these days harder than they need to be.
It’s important to remember that we bring the archetypal forces of the sky to life. We can choose to be pugnacious or we can choose to lead with grace—each of us has to decide how we want to integrate these Martian interactions. The planets may incline but we actualize their potential through every thought, word, and deed. So as you work your way through the next several weeks, think about how you want to bring this combination of Mars and Saturn to life. It is a terrific interaction for hard work and getting things done. It also indicates the capacity for precision, but only if you know how to pace yourself and stay steady. Handling the intensity of this square isn’t about becoming passive, it’s about knowing when to push and when to let go; when to take a stand and when to save your energy for a more precise moment, when the weight of your intention can affect the moment more effectively.
And as always, remember to be kind to your fellow travelers—we need each other more than we know.
August 26 - September 1, 2020
On vacation! See you all next week!
August 19 - 25, 2020
Hello to readers in Honesdale!
Many years ago, I had a country house in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. It was a wonderful old farmhouse with big fields, a barn, and a huge pond. Every August (just in time for corn and tomato season) my mother and her girlfriends, Thelma and Janet, would visit. (They had known each other since their late teens and they never stopped calling each other girlfriends even though by the time of their August visits they were all pushing seventy-something.) I loved their visits, especially when the conversation wended its way into protest stories—they had marched together on many picket lines and in demonstrations during the late 1930s and ’40s. They were young then, teenagers really, but they were determined to make a difference in the world. Sometimes as they walked down to the pond, I would lag behind just to take in their power. They were big women—larger than life—who had survived a myriad vicissitudes of life: disappointing marriages, a husband’s betrayal, the death of a child, the indignity and injustice of blacklists, and so many other unimaginables that have the power to break the heart and crush the spirit. But while they suffered, they never faltered in their commitment to making the world a better place for everyone, particularly for working people. Janet was a waitress and she taught me early on about the dignity of those for whom a better job was beyond their reach.
I saw these women as Amazon warriors who had suffered and survived the worst, yet still brought the best of their strength to life. They did not see themselves that way; they simply saw their stories as an expression of life, yet every once in a while they dared to speak with tremendous pride about what they had helped to accomplish—not as well-known leaders of a movement, but as the foot soldiers of a progressive agenda that helped change the world. Their reminiscing went something like this: Remember those marches for Social Security? We were there. Minimum wage? Not without us. Child labor laws? That, too. These women had marched and marched, and continued marching even when Senator McCarthy started persecuting communists (and they all were communists), even when their friends were blacklisted and jailed. It was dangerous, but they persisted.
They continued marching into the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties—they never stopped marching for a better world. My mother joined the Grannies for Peace, sitting in at recruiting stations to protest the war in Iraq. I admired their tenacity and determination, but most of all, I admired their hope. I knew what these three women who had been friends for more than fifty years had endured, what their hearts had suffered and survived, but they never turned bitter and they always, always, always laughed—loudly, especially in the evenings when they would play cards and drink gin. They were beautiful, sweet, and fierce.
I see that same determination today in the young people taking to the streets—which is where our current revolution belongs and where all revolutions begin. When the people can no longer tolerate injustice, when cruelty reaches a tipping point, marching is the way you let those in charge know that the status quo is no longer acceptable. The difference between this generation and their grandmothers is that many of those marching today support a global evolution of consciousness as the core of revolution. This generation has much more at stake—the planet and all her inhabitants are in peril and the justice that’s needed is not just for workers and children but for all sentient beings, so that we may all live free from oppression.
As a Mars/Saturn square continues to turn up the heat this week, turning even the air bitter with a need to do battle, it will be hard to resist engaging in aggressive action. Take your stand, but remember that the means never justifies the ends—the means creates the ends. I realize that what I am about to say is a cliché, but if you want peace, you must live peace—something that’s very difficult to do when Mars is fanning the flames of righteousness and self-righteousness.
What would my mother, Janet, and Thelma say about Trump’s attack on the postal service—and every other egregious violation of his office? Take it to the streets, everywhere in every city; let the leaders know that it is unacceptable to destroy beneficial systems for personal gain. They would demand an end to his mendacious policies and they would not stop marching until they achieved their goal.
The thing I loved about these strong women is that they never contributed to violence. They weren’t consciously spiritual and had no idea about karma. They simply knew that the world needed to change and they were not going to employ violence to make the world a better place because violence never makes anything better. They were compassionate, kind, and committed to their cause of helping to improve the lives of the poor and working class. Their motivation wasn’t spiritual as we define spiritual, but it was heartfelt and true. And it had the power to change the world.
August 12 - 18, 2020
Uranus Retrograde is the big astro news this week. It begins on August 15, at 10:26 AM EDT, and lasts until January 14, 202l, at 4:35 AM EST. For the next five months, as Uranus “retraces” its path back to the position it occupied on April 28, 2020, we’re reviewing everything that’s transpired since the end of April. You don’t need me to say it, but I am going to say it anyway—that’s a lot of ground to cover; maybe even too much. Because Uranus is the planet of surprising twists of fate, it would be wise to anticipate several reversals of fortune over the next five months, shifts that are certain to be both individual and collective. And because Uranus symbolizes spontaneity, and in some cases impulsive behavior, many of us are also going to be reviewing choices made in the madness of the moment, some of which might have been for the best and others, not so much. Fortunately, we have five months to figure out how to recalibrate what we may now see as impetuous or reckless decisions.
We almost always feel something altering the air when Uranus “changes direction,” and sometimes that something is as simple as a shift in attitude. Uranus-inspired changes aren’t terribly subtle, so try not to be surprised if you or someone close to you changes a position or opinion. One of the ways Uranus Retrograde might manifest is experiencing the desire to loosen your grip on a certain plan, project, person, or place you’ve been holding onto so tightly that your fingers feel permanently cramped. Uranus also symbolizes invention and innovation, and during a retrograde those innovative steps are often reevaluated.
The most direct indication of Uranus shifting its course is an agitated nervous system. Be prepared to be more than a little jumpy, and also anticipate disrupted sleep patterns. These kinds of shifts affect children and animals too, so please be patient as their nervous systems also try to align with the frequency of Uranus Retrograde.
Unfortunately, nervous systems are already on edge, given our summer of Martian turmoil—Mars is in Aries, its Home Sign, until January 2021, a transit that amplifies its assertive and aggressive nature. Far too many of our fellow travelers are already feeling the detrimental effect of constant agitation and now, with Mars transiting Aries for the next several months, too many tempers are sure to be set at a constant testy. Keep breathing your way through this agitated air while staying grounded in your principles.
This week, as Uranus creates a giant speed bump on the celestial highway, “slowing down” to “turn around,” Mars exacerbates the situation with a square to Pluto, which is exact tomorrow, August 13. Consider this combination an astral tsunami—Uranus is the ocean, pulling away from the shore before a Martian wave breaks with tremendous force. While the Uranus portion only lasts a week, it’s long enough to wreak havoc on anything left of regular routines.
On Sunday, August 16, the Moon joins this astro mess as it squares Mars and opposes Pluto. Yes… this is as dreadful as it sounds. From a collective perspective, while we can’t control the politics of our current dilemma, we can call and call and call our members of Congress and encourage others to do the same. From an individual perspective, we should do everything we can to manage our personal anger issues, which means not taking out our frustration on those around us—family, friends, strangers, or pets.
One more thing about this Moon/Mars/Pluto T-square: Mars is also trining the Sun in Leo, which is normally interpreted as a strident yet positive, interaction that encourages bold steps. This trine has been in effect since last week and continues into next week. If you can, harness this power toward positive efforts.
As the week unfolds, my hope is that more citizens will step into the widening gap that threatens our elections. Three NBA teams in battleground states—the Atlanta Hawks, the Detroit Pistons, and the Milwaukee Bucks—have already offered their sports arenas as polling places. These arenas offer plenty of space for social distancing and can accommodate huge amounts of citizens wanting to vote. May teams around the country follow suit and provide their venues so we can protect the vote from the mendacious plans of Mr. Trump and his Gang of Hungry Ghosts. It’s up to us—we the people—to ensure that our democracy endures despite all efforts to undermine the efficacy of our not-quite-perfect union. We the people are our own change agents and we need to remember that during the days that lie ahead. During this ongoing Mars intensive, when it is so easy to lash out at others in frustration, we also need to remember to be kind, especially to those who try our patience and capacity for compassion.
August 5 - 11, 2020
Hello to readers in Miami Beach!
Mr. Trump never denied that his agenda was to dismantle democracy. Whether we understand that intention through his adoration of Mr. Putin and the consistent effort to do Putin’s bidding, or we see it through his choices for cabinet heads and their consistent efforts to dismantle the foundations of government, or we hear it through the words of Mr. Bannon (who said it often), it’s the same story: Mr. Trump is the great destroyer—a role he embodies every day through his unrelenting cruelty and disregard for life. Perhaps he will be remembered that way—not for the buildings that bear his name but for the lives lost to his callousness and the damage done to the foundations of democracy he attempted to destroy.
From an astrological perspective, we must remember that Mr. Trump is in the midst of several intense Pluto aspects, and as those of us who follow astrology know, Pluto symbolizes death and rebirth; Pluto almost always eliminates what is not authentic so that what is true can emerge. The ancient astrologers of Mesopotamia would also remind us that as the “king” of this land, what happens to Mr. Trump is representative of what happens to the entire nation and all of its people. He is the reflection of the worst of us. The good news is that the reflection of the worst has galvanized many of us to be the best that we can be.
Resistance to his destructive force has given birth to increased authentic self-expression everywhere—irrefutable truth stands in sharp contrast to his lies and stands strong against his dog-eat-dog values. And now the coronavirus has starkly revealed what many of us already knew—Mr. Trump lacks any concern for the lives of others. Each tweet reveals the depth of his cruelty and madness; every tweet, a nail in the coffin of his reign.
Watching the funeral of John Lewis and listening to President Obama delineate the harm being done to our country’s ideals and the effort we must make to undo that harm made me proud to be an American. But what struck me more than anything was the eulogy by Reverend James Lawson, who trained John Lewis and the other civil rights heroes in civil disobedience. Those trainees led the sit-ins and freedom rides. I remember a man who lived in our building when I was growing up who had been beaten badly during the freedom rides and whose face bore the scars of that violence; when I asked my parents about it, they explained what he had been through. I knew then that his bravery was amazing.
So listening to Reverend Lawson, a true satyagrahi and one of the founders of the nonviolence movement in this country, was truly inspiring. Gandhi called his non-violent movement satyagraha, which means (I am paraphrasing) holding firmly to truth. Which is, of course, what we all must do: hold firmly to the truth of our interconnectedness and the power of love and compassion. Many of us may not have the courage to plant our feet firmly on the ground of nonviolence, but there are other stands we can take.
That being said, when I watched a new ad by the Lincoln Project (whose ads are so good they make me want to be a reformed former Republican), I was struck by the conviction of the Wall of Moms standing against Trump’s goons and protecting the protestors in Portland. The ad shows those moms clad in yellow shirts and wearing bicycle helmets and warns that there will be moms in every city and that they won’t bend and they won’t break “and they won’t stop fighting to protect the rights of every American.” The ad reminded me of the nobility of the human heart when it takes a stand for truth. I was also reminded of the courage it takes to endure the hatred and violence of those who oppose truth. Here’s the link if you haven’t seen it: youtu.be/rwaklEmDn_0
And so our summer of Mars unfolds, rife with discontent. Most of us will be taking one stand or another, political or not, individual or collective, because this is the time when we have to choose what kind of world we want to live in. Mars, as many readers know, is driving the action for the next many months. Mars, the warrior archetype, is teaching an intensive on what it means to fight for what you believe in and what matters most, and as it squares the aggregation of planets in Capricorn—Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto—an aggregation that has deconstructed our known world, the urge to fight for what’s “right” is going to dominate daily life. Do your best to make love not war. I know that’s easier said than done, but if you can harness the sheer physical force of Mars and figure out how to transform that power into a commitment to stand firm in your truth without causing harm to your fellow travelers, you will answer the deeper call of this cosmic moment.
July 29 - August 4, 2020
Hello to readers in Palm Springs!
The sky is busier than it has been in a while and as the planets align in powerful combinations, regular routines reflect that celestial potency, all of which translates into an intensification of the ongoing intensity. Political hit squads masquerading as law enforcement continue to wreak havoc in U.S. cities even as the global pandemic continues to rearrange reality everywhere; economies all around the world are struggling to gain or regain momentum and on an individual level, frustration and desperation about simply making it through all these obstacles and surviving is increasing for far too many. It’s hard work no matter how you frame it and lots of folks are starting to lose whatever cool they had managed to maintain. It’s also important to acknowledge the great waves of grief pounding the shores of daily life—so many of our fellow travelers have lost their lives and their loved ones are mourning those deaths; so many more are at risk for contracting the virus; and here in the United States, millions are at the edge of the survival abyss, facing unprecedented poverty and homelessness as a result of the callous posturing of Senate Republicans, who refuse to acknowledge the basic needs that so many citizens require to simply make it through this catastrophic time. It’s imperative that we join together to care for each other—it’s one of the primary lessons many of us are learning from our global situation.
You might want to get out your notebooks so you can track the astral action:
(1) Mars in Aries dominates the action as it continues to square Jupiter—the Mars/Jupiter square began on July 26, is exact on August 4, and lasts until August 15. By Sunday, August 2, Mars also moves into a square with Pluto that is exact on August 13 and lasts until August 31. And on August 10, Mars begins its square to Saturn, which is exact on August 24 but persists until October 15. Yes, this Mars/Saturn square seems to last forever (it will feel like forever somewhere after Labor Day, if not sooner) because both Mars and Saturn make “course correction” in September; Mars goes retrograde on September 9 and Saturn Direct begins on September 29. It’s not a pretty picture because this ongoing square translates into an almost never-ending pernicious astral air.
Mars signifies war as well as the warrior and when it transits Aries, that fighting disposition is amplified many times over. Do not expect the violence in the streets to end any time soon. Of course this plays right into Mr. Trump’s plan: if you can create chaos, especially violent chaos, you can exploit fear and anxiety, emotional states that serve your political purposes. Those not prone to belligerence as a first response need to stand for nonviolence. Pay attention, spiritual warriors: you are required to keep the peace, and there are plenty of places where keeping the peace is essential, making it more than necessary to remember what we learned from nonviolent revolutionaries Mahatma Gandhi and Reverend King: violence only begets violence. Take heart in the awareness that we have already won this revolution. It may not be obvious to you yet, but there are far more people who thrive on diversity and love and justice than there are bigots who feed on hatred.
(2) These Mars squares exacerbate the effect of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, especially as Saturn retrogrades within range of Pluto before it goes direct at the end of September. This is the configuration that turned the world upside down and will continue to turn the world upside down for the next couple of months. Take a deep breath—as many as necessary—knowing that you can make it through these waves.
This week there are other interactions—Mercury in Cancer opposes the Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto conjunction as the Moon conjuncts Jupiter, Pluto, and then Saturn. But none are as significant or powerful as…
(3) A Sun/Uranus square that began on July 26, is exact on August 2, and lasts until August 9. This is the freedom-fighting configuration that feeds the need to take a stand for personal liberty as well as for collective freedom—it is the rebel, with or without a cause. (“Oy” is all I really want to say about this square, but I will try a few more words.) Under this influence, it would be wise to be thoughtful about the stands you’re willing to take. Again, we are in an extraordinarily bellicose climate and because so many people will be inclined to take an aggressive stand, it is important for those of us committed to real change to hold the ground of nonviolence.
When I contemplate these coming weeks, I keep seeing the scene in the Gandhi film of the march on the Dharasana Salt Works in Gujarat, where the soldiers keep beating the marchers with clubs and yet they keep on marching. It was May 21, 1930, and on that day, there was a waning Mars/Uranus conjunction, both planets in Aries, both square Pluto in Cancer, Pluto almost opposite the position it currently occupies in Capricorn.
We know history repeats itself, but never exactly, because this is a free-will planet and we can always, always, always make new choices. These next weeks are powerful--wheel-turning--and therefore disturbing. Hold your inner ground by keeping your internal compass aligned with the true north of your spiritual conviction. North is where the world’s wobbles usher in new ages and with those new eras, opportunities to make profound shifts in attitude and behavior.
The next many weeks are pivotal and there will be a plethora of shifts that are certain to leave many of us even more stressed than we already are. But don’t give up. These are the ups and downs, progress and regress, that are part of every major shift in a cultural paradigm. Most importantly, help your fellow travelers, especially young people, for they are the hope of the planet and they need to be honored and respected as they fight for a better world.
July 22 - 28, 2020
Hello to readers in Richmond!
The question most of us are asking is: will this madness ever end? Everyone wants the insanity that has become the new “normal” to just go away—it would be such a deep relief to not have to wade through all the crazy, racist, stupid, and dangerous chatter that blasts through the airwaves every day, and to not be forced to bear witness to the continued egregious acts of cruelty perpetrated by the Mr. Trump and his gang of Hungry Ghosts. Alas… the madness continues for a while, at least according to the planets, and even if Mr. Biden wins the presidency, repairing the foundational structures of daily life (that have so purposefully been deconstructed by the mad men of the Republican Party) won’t happen overnight; the damage is just too severe and it’s going to take effort and energy to realign the basic functions of the federal government. This was the goal of Bannon, Breitbart, Mr. Trump, and the intolerably influential and wealthy right-wing people who worked and continue to work behind the scenes to elect Trump; it’s these supporters, and not just his easily manipulated base, that had and still have a shared purpose: destroy the government. Their efforts, coupled with the determination of Vladimir Putin to bring the United States to its knees, have brought the United States to its knees.
But it took a pandemic and tens of thousands of lives lost to fully unmask the pernicious intent of Mr. Trump and his well-heeled hooligans. Just as COVID-19 has revealed every inequity in our culture, it also revealed (finally) that the emperor has no clothes—he stands before us naked, only his minions pretending he is clothed and only his minions upholding his (and thus, their) “divine” right to lead, which really means grabbing as much as they can before the system collapses.
Welcome to the stunning and on-going effect of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, which was intensified by Jupiter, all combinations of which are affecting Mr. Trump’s natal chart, making it possible to see the true depth of Pluto’s power through his decompensation.
Mars moves into a square with Jupiter this week, then a square with Pluto by July 31, and then a square with Saturn by August 10—oy! All these interactions are signatures of power struggles, violence, and war, and no one would put it past the mad man in the White House to start a war hoping to distract from his dilemma of failing polls and the rising COVID-19 death toll. From an individual perspective, many of our fellow travelers are anxious and feeling the heat of uncertainty as the federal government continues to dicker (along party lines) over whether to supply essential aid to the many millions of people who will lose everything if their financial support is cut off. If the callous parsimony of the Republican senators continues, the people will eventually rise up, as they should, and take a stand against what Gandhi deemed the worst kind of violence—poverty. I used to wonder if Republicans rooted for the Empire when they watch Star Wars, but since Trump and his Gang of Hungry Ghosts slithered into power, I don’t wonder anymore. Now I realize that most of them also misunderstood Les Mis—the more Republicans deny financial relief to those suffering under the collapsed economy, the more every person trying to feed her or his starving family will become the new Jean Valjean. Eventually the citizens will rebel, not because they are socialists, but because rebellion is the appropriate response to oppression; something our forefathers knew only too well, as in no taxation without representation. What would happen if all of us stopped paying our taxes until the government understands that its prime motive is to act on our behalf?
For those intent on watching astral cycles, make a note: on July 25, Mars will be at 15° Aries, the same degree of Aries on which it goes direct on November 13, when it ends its retrograde that begins on September 9. Watch what transpires from July 25 through September 9, because that is the ground Mars will retrace when it starts its retrospective.
The next couple of weeks are likely to be quite volatile, especially as the heat of summer coalesces with the fevered need for change—it might actually be impossible to avoid conflict. Be sure to choose your battles wisely; save your energy for what matters and let the small stuff go. In the intensity of the coming weeks, kindness is essential to successfully navigating what lies ahead, so apply it liberally.
July 15 - 21, 2020
Hello to readers in Longmont!
Go ahead and take a deep breath and don’t be surprised if it turns into a deep sigh of relief—Mercury Retrograde is over, Mercury Direct is in full swing, regular routines are finally free from astral interference, and for the next several weeks all the planets that drive the mechanics of daily life—Mercury, Venus, and Mars—are moving forward, with Mars leading the pack. With Mars at the helm, the coming days and nights unfold with increased vigor, purpose, and intensity. It’s not necessary to shift into turbo-drive to make the most of this forward momentum, unless you want or need to move at the speed of light. All you need do is find a comfortable personal pace that supports a steady stride toward your goals—even if one of those goals is a summer staycation and the chance to keep breathing deeply. However you decide to spend the currency of the next several weeks, be aware that the door to this retro-free zone closes right after Labor Day, when Mars Retrograde begins on September 9 and lasts until November 13.
Mercury Direct began on Sunday, July 12, and it’s already gathering speed, so be prepared for situations, projects, or plans that seemed to be stuck in the molasses of the recent dual retrograde (first Venus and then Mercury) to take on a life of their own. The next Mercury Retrograde isn’t until October 13 – November 3; yes, through Election Day here in the United States, but more about that as we get closer to the actual election.
The Sun in Cancer continues to oppose Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto in Capricorn, and as the Sun shines its bright light onto that pernicious aggregation of planets, its rays illuminate even more about the deconstruction of individual and collective systems. The dismantling of those structures began in Mr. Trump’s first year—that was the purpose all along. But since January 2020, the deconstruction has been impossible to deny and in the glare of the Sun’s light, the motivations behind that wanton destruction become increasingly apparent. Anticipate new revelations about the underhanded shenanigans of our drain-the-swamp leader. My wish is that all the people who had and have the courage to stand up to him will be reinstated and compensated for the damage he has done to their lives.
It’s a good week to take stock with an eye toward how to increase your joy. It’s been a rough ride for most of us—COVID-19 coupled with the callousness of the Trump administration has made it almost impossible to be optimistic about the future, which is why it’s important to identify what brings you joy, peace, or at the very least, a smile. While the challenges we face aren’t going away anytime soon, there’s still room for feeding your spirit with what you love. And as always, reach out to your fellow travelers and help them find their joy as well. As we are learning every day, we are all mutually dependent upon each other to stay safe and healthy.
July 8 - 14, 2020
Hello to readers in Baltimore!
Even in the midst of madness it’s possible to find clarity—so whatever it is that’s muddled or confusing, don’t give up. It won’t be easy clearing a path through the assumptions, presumptions, and opinions that seem to obscure our ability, individual and collective, to stick to the facts. Critical thinking is still available to most of us, especially if we’re willing to take the time to reason through what has become the obstacle course of daily life. I won’t list all the areas of life that have turned upside down—we all know too well what they are and not all of them are healthy or positive. Nevertheless, we still have to work our way through the upheaval, not just because that’s what we do, but because if we want to make the most of this momentous time, we need the long view. Only a big-picture approach will make a lasting difference. So before you devolve into despair or spend too much time grousing about the way things should be, put on your multidimensional antennae and start moving into an expansive worldview that recognizes and accepts the reality of the moment; then strive to transform that reality for the greater good. So much suffering is caused by a linear perception of reality that’s driven by ego, greed, and fear, all of which are driven by the illusion that we are separate from each other. We are only at the beginning of a huge personal and planetary transformation, and despite the dislocation and disorientation of these shifts, this is an incredibly creative moment and we need to know that to move forward confidently.
This week, the Sun in Cancer begins an opposition to the ongoing Jupiter/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn. The Moon has been keeping our attention on the pernicious Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto aggregation in Capricorn (Saturn just moved back into Capricorn), and continues to do so. Twice monthly, the Moon conjuncts or opposes that assembly of planets, and there are so many tentacles to be aware of that it’s simply overwhelming. Remember that the essence of this planetary formation in Capricorn is the deconstruction of governments, of political and financial systems that no longer serve, and then (over time) with the reconstruction—really, rebirth—of more authentic systems that actually do serve. Again, there’s no need for me to list them; it’s all on the front page of the newspaper—any newspaper. Cancer is the Sign that emphasizes issues of safety and security, so as the Sun continues its opposition to that Capricorn aggregation from now until the end of July, safety and security take on a new poignancy. Of course this emphasis is expected, given that Republicans seem determined to make sure that the relief given to the neediest among us expires at the end of the month and will not be renewed.
We are in the second week of Mars in Aries, and I’m wondering how you’re liking it so far? The sheer strength and force of Mars is amplified by its transit through Aries, its Home Sign, and that super-strength is certain to be felt as a militaristic attitude toward almost everything. Pay attention: there’s no need to bark commands at anyone, especially at those you love, most importantly children, who are simply trying to cope with intensities they don’t understand. Also, try not to kick the dog or any other being less powerful than you. Get a punching bag or do the ugly dish-smash dance to relieve your frustration. Figure out a strategy for handling this Martian intensity because it is with us until January 2021.
The good news—and there’s always some good news, even if it’s just a smidgen—is that Mercury Retrograde is over on July 12, early in the morning at 4:26 AM EDT. Yay—only four more days to go and Internet connections will once again be reliable—well… at least most of them.
Our current collective madness has exposed just how many of our fellow travelers need a helping hand and reassurance that it is possible to make it through these waves. Our mad King George—Mr. Trump—has done an excellent job of fomenting revolution by catalyzing people into an awareness of how dire things are for so many. COVID-19 exposed and continues to expose Mr. Trump’s cruelty, but now in light of the danger we are in from a virus we can’t control, in part because of his inability to grasp the seriousness of the crisis, his cruelty is impossible to ignore or deny. It’s up to each of us to counter his cruelty and conceit with positive actions intended to put our country and our planet back on course through personal and collective transformational work. Don’t hesitate to reach out to those in need of help anyway you can. We are all in this together, and together we will right Spaceship Earth and care for all her inhabitants.
July 1 - 7, 2020
Hello to readers in Rome!
Mars dominates the astral waves of change this week, and although there are other influential celestial currents, Mars owns the field. While it isn’t the most profound planetary influence on the collective consciousness, Mars does drive the regular routines of daily life, so when it assumes a prominent position, we pay attention. Its presence, along with the other inner planets—Mercury, Venus, and of course, although not planets, the Sun and Moon—determine the day-to-day goings-on of life. And because these days are nothing other than uncertain, we need to stay present to the micro as well as the macro realities.
On Saturday, June 27, Mars entered Aries, its Home Sign, where it’s strongest and where it stays until January 2021, an unusually long period of time for Mars to transit a Sign. Mars usually moves through a Sign in 6 to 7 weeks, except when it retrogrades back into that Sign, which it does during this transit of Aries, from September 9 through November 13.
Mars signifies the principal of self-assertion, although it is best known as the warrior archetype and is also often referred to as the god of war. At its core, Mars represents the process of individuation and the idea that we have a separate self, distinct from others. Many astrologers think of Mars as the arms and legs of the ego, symbolizing physical muscle as well as psychological, emotional, and spiritual muscle. It is, literally, how we move in the world.
The placement of Mars in a birth chart—the Sign and House it occupies and, most importantly, how it connects with other planets—indicates how we take a stand in our individual life as well as in the world. From the first Mars Return, when Mars returns to the position it occupied at our birth, (when we’re about two years old), it supports the need to say “no” when “no” is the best way to establish, experience, and preserve individuality.
All the symbols in astrology play out along a spectrum from negative to positive. On the negative end of the Mars spectrum is unspecified or global rage—anger for anger’s sake—and at the positive end is self-actualization—acknowledging and harnessing our gifts and talents to fulfill their potential. Along the way to that fulfillment (and perhaps through many lifetimes), we cobble together a deep understanding of what it means to be a self, separate and distinct from others, but comfortable enough with who we are to join in with others without fear of losing our unique expression.
For the next six months-plus, we are all participating in a collective, prolonged Mars intensive—there are so many issues, individual and collective, that need positive warrior energy. So pick your personal and collective causes carefully, and as you do, remember that as Uranus transits Taurus we are all identifying what matters most, and as personal values shift, so does the zeitgeist.
But be aware that for many fellow travelers this Martian journey is going to be a rough ride—lots of people are going to be prickly and ready to fight about any and every little thing. If you are having difficulty channeling your anger into a positive spiritual warrior stance, just do your best not to add to the already hot air that could become the atmosphere of daily life, especially toward the end of August as Mars gets ready to retrograde. Yes, Mars fuels demonstrations and protests, but it also fuels resistance to those protests. As we struggle toward concretizing social justice as a way of life, keep an eye on what it will take to transform the hatred and greed that have given rise to so many societal problems. Mars may be in Aries for six months, but the change we are trying to effect is for the long haul and as many are realizing, it’s going to take a lot of energy and effort to build a brave new world where everyone is, actually, equal. I know it sounds idealistic, but that’s one of the most important qualities of being a spiritual warrior—hope in the possibility of transformation.
The second Jupiter/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn was exact yesterday and it is unrelenting in its emphasis on the transmission and contagion of COVID-19. The first of three Jupiter/Pluto conjunctions was on April 4; yesterday’s conjunction was at the same degree as the last one—both 24° Capricorn. The third conjunction on November 12, 2020, occurs at the same degree as the Saturn/Pluto conjunction of January 12. It seems we just can’t get away from the great reckoning of Saturn/Pluto—a reckoning that facilitated the great unraveling of government structures—and in some cases, the very foundations—of American democracy. Over these next weeks and months leading up to the third conjunction, masks, contact tracing, and social distancing are going to be essential in saving lives.
Unfortunately, this conjunction also feeds the need for power at any cost, and as Mr. Trump experiences his own personal Pluto transits, he is likely to stay on the same track, oblivious to or uncaring of the pain he is causing by his reckless attitudes and actions. What remains stunning is just how many people continue to be fooled by him—fooled and gullible enough to put their lives at risk, as well as the lives of others.
It’s hard to maintain a compassion practice in the face of so much callous self-interest and ignorance. The other day the news showed a scene of a bunch of people in a bar shoulder-to-shoulder, without masks, and my first reaction wasn’t very kind. I won’t repeat it here, but even as I thought it, I also thought, “Shit. I’ve just used up at least a decade of accumulated merit from my compassion practice.” It’s difficult to remain kind when so many people are being so reckless. I keep wondering how many people must get sick and die for all those skeptics to realize that COVID-19 isn’t a hoax. I also wonder how long it will take for so many to realize that science and religion aren’t antithetical pursuits.
Throughout this week and the many weeks to come, the contrast of what divides us is stark, and in the glare of that severity it’s quite easy to become increasingly depressed about the state of the world. Do your best not to succumb to that desolation or to a deepening sense of futility. We are in a process—a truly mind-bending process, but a process nonetheless. We will eventually learn what we need to learn, transform what we need to transform, and heal the hatred with love and with knowledge. It is simply going to take time, and during that time, kindness is key—and as I am learning, it must become a constant practice.
June 24 - 30, 2020
Hello to readers in Seattle!
It’s a planetary pile-up on the astral highway this week, so don’t be surprised if you or those around you experience a sense of dislocation as abrupt shifts derail plans and projects. You’ll need to do all kinds of yoga to stay flexible; mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual stretches are certain to test our capacity, individual and collective, to handle a plethora of delays, detours, snarls, and snafus that infiltrate regular routines. While we knew that a lot was going on last week, this week we’re living through several striking shifts. Do your best to think before you leap into action—it’s important to not get swept away by an extreme reaction that has the power to pull you in a direction you’d rather avoid.
Mercury Retrograde is in full bloom—Mercury “turned around” on June 17/18 and all variety of techno-problems ensued. (I actually thought I would lose my mind on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday because my computer lost its mind and started erasing vital information as well as changing where things are stored. What’s more, I couldn’t get an Internet connection to hold longer than three minutes. Oy!) Mercury Retrograde persists until July 12 and because Mercury signifies all things related to communication and travel, the hassles related to Mercury Retrograde will also persist for the next several weeks. So keep your patience pills handy—you will need them, if only to get and hold onto a grip during the rest of the planetary shifts.
Venus, retrograde since May 12, goes direct tomorrow, June 25, at 2:28 AM EDT, and as the goddess of love and beauty makes her course correction, she forms a wide trine to Saturn, which indicates a fairly smooth or grounded transition. That being said, we might see continuing stock market fluctuations grow more extreme as Venus resumes forward motion—she is, after all, the goddess of money.
There are two other major obstacles to smooth sailing through the next several weeks. The first is Neptune Retrograde, which just began yesterday, June 23, at 12:32 AM EDT. Neptune is one of the two astro-tricksters—Mercury is the other one—and although. they are not in proximity to each other during their dual retrogrades, both are likely to engage in some chicanery—deception would be the name of the game, so be careful about being gullible. Sometimes things sound too good to be true because that’s exactly the case.
The second and most potent obstacle arrives with Mars—it enters Aries on June 27 at 9:45 PM EDT and it stays in Aries for the rest of the year. This is a problem: Mars is the archetype of the warrior and Aries is its Home Sign, and as Mars gets comfortable at home, it gathers strength and influence. That power translates into lots of people being willing to take a stand and/or fight for their point of view. It also puts a testy, strident edge on lots of not so important interactions, especially for the next two weeks as Mars continues to square the Sun. Mars symbolizes self-assertion, and while this transit is significant for all those born with Aries as their sun-sign, each of us has Aries and Mars in our natal charts, so all of us are going to be feeling empowered and riled up by this placement. Notice what stirs your fire and passion—Aries is a Fire Sign—and notice how easy it will be to act on those urges. Just try to avoid arguing purely for the sport. Far too many of our fellow travelers won’t be prepared for the depth of this intensity and there’s no need to add fuel to a fire you might not be able to put out.
As last week’s column mentioned, the second Jupiter/Pluto conjunction occurs on June 30, when I’m sure we can expect more disturbing news about the spread of the pandemic, but more about that next week, along with more on Saturn’s return to Capricorn, which begins July 2.
It’s an intense week and because none of what’s happening in the sky or on Earth is casual or frivolous, a lot of people who can’t quite contextualize the intensity are likely to need a lot of comfort and support to make it through these changes. So where you are able, lend a helping hand to those who need a friend.
June 17 - 23, 2020
In honor of Mercury Retrograde, here’s a link to a talk I gave in January 2018 about the astrology for 2020-2022—consider it a retrospective on the future.
The next several weeks are a flurry of astral activity, so get out your calendars and set a few reminders—you’re going to need them, if only to set your internal compass and maintain a keen sense of direction.
1. Mercury Retrograde begins June 17, at 9:58 PM PDT/June 18 at 12:58 AM EDT. Whatever time zone you’re living in, the three-day rule applies: as Mercury prepares for its “turn around,” the routines of daily life tend to slow to a crawl and techno-problems abound: the printer breaks, the scanner won’t work, and deadlines keep changing. This Mercury Retrograde turns the already jagged edges of the “new normal” rough around the edges, particularly when it comes to communication of every denomination, including all kinds of mail as well as negotiations and contracts. (I used to also include mention of travel detours and delays, but right at this moment hardly anyone is going anywhere.)
Mercury Retrograde ends on July 12, but the first week of its retrospective overlaps with the last week of Venus Retrograde. Oy… double retrogrades are always problematic and this one is certain to be a slog of snafus. Don’t expect anything or anyone to move quickly. Try to avoid initiating any new projects. The absolute best use of any Mercury Retrograde is reviewing plans and projects already in motion.
2. Venus Retrograde ends on June 25, but it’s unlikely anyone will notice—Mercury’s domain of daily details tends to override Venus’ concerns, or at the very least, Mercury just gets more attention. But Venus Retrograde has been a chance to contemplate what matters most, and from a collective perspective, we’re certainly doing just that. It would be redundant to list just how many value systems are crumbling around us, but Venus Retrograde—Venus, the goddess of love, beauty, and value—has us reassessing what is really important. (Just to be clear: these systems failures are not a reflection of Venus; they are a manifestation of the power of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn.)
3. In ten days, on June 27, Mars enters Aries where it stays until January 2021; the reason for that extended stay is attributable to Mars Retrograde, which runs from September 9 through November 13, 2020. As you may have already noticed, there is a somewhat retro-free zone from the end of July to the beginning of September—none of the planets that run the mechanics of daily life are retrograde at that time. Make the most it, because August is the least encumbered month for the rest of 2020. (Okay… December is also fairly clear, but the holidays always offer their own special blend of interference.)
4. Three days later, on June 30, the second Jupiter/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn occurs; the third one takes place on November 12, the day before Mars goes direct. The first conjunction in this series of Jupiter/Pluto conjunctions was on April 4, when pandemic infections and deaths started to surge. As I proposed in a previous column, we might see a second wave of COVID-19 at this time—or what some might deem a continuation of the first wave. Businesses may be open, but the virus hasn’t gone away.
5. A little more than 24 hours later, in the wee hours of July 2, Saturn retrogrades back into Capricorn, where it lingers until December 17. I realize that “linger” isn’t quite a strong enough word to describe what Saturn will be doing once it’s back in Capricorn, its Home Sign, but I don’t want to scare anyone—let’s just say that Saturn will be cleaning up what it had already set in motion since the beginning of 2020. Saturn has been retrograde since May 11, but when it moves back into Capricorn, it is sure to focus on manifestations and events attributable to its conjunction with Pluto. Anticipate a déjà vu dizziness as Saturn continues to retrace its recent past. When Saturn goes Direct on September 29, it does so in close proximity to Pluto—not an exact conjunction but close enough for folk music (as we used to say in the music business when tunings were just a little off), which is sure to stir even more shift.
The next several weeks bubble over with significant astral events, each and all of which coalesce into even more changes, many of which could be even more discombobulating than those we’ve already witnessed. This is why a strong internal center and compass are a must if you are going to navigate these changes skillfully.
On Saturday the solstice ushers in summer and we start our long journey toward the darkening days of winter. It’s the longest day of the year in a year that’s already too long and summer doesn’t offer any promise of relief from the intensifying intensity. So do your best to stay on track and please try to help others to do the same—kindness is the best preventative medicine we have.
June 10 - 16, 2020
Hello to readers in Paris!
People continue taking it to the streets and the power of ongoing protests shifted last week’s headlines of “fury in the streets” to “peaceful protests swell.” The change was rapid, as was the pace of protests spontaneously forming around the world. Watching the quickening pulse of protests, it struck me that the pace and insistence of domestic and global demonstrations mirrored the pace at which we’d seen the coronavirus spread. Now we are fighting two viruses: the obvious one is COVID-19, but perhaps the most insidious and even more deadly is the virus of racism. Both are a matter of life and death.
Variously quarantined and locked down over the last several months, all of us, all around the world, have encountered the reality of absolute helplessness in the face of a lethal virus that doctors struggled to understand and no one knew how to contain other than with masks, social distancing, and hand sanitizer. We were, to varying degrees, terrified of and terrorized by a mystery illness as well as the very real threat of death. Those of us not infected watched the tally of the dead rise each day, and as we struggled to cope with this threat, COVID-19 laid bare all the inequities of our systems. The virus exposed all the shadows of our society—income and health care inequality at the top of the list—and because there were absolutely no distractions from viewing these shadows other than binge-watching Netflix and the like, most of us became increasingly and uncomfortably aware of just how much we rely on our fellow travelers, especially those utterly without privilege who sustain the regular routines of daily life. COVID-19 wrecked the world economy, its wrecking ball smashing any sense of security and safety. Lacking adequate testing, and not knowing who could be carrying the virus without symptoms, we were—and still are—at the mercy of an invisible and powerful enemy that knows no boundaries.
The second virus—perhaps a more insidious one than COVID-19 because it can kill the spirit as well as the body—is racism. While the poison of racism has always been here to see, too many have remained blind to it. But there was no denying the sadistic murderer of George Floyd, an act those of us who watched the video witnessed as if we were there in real time. We watched helplessly as the actual witnesses to his death watched, powerless to intervene and save his life. And what so many of us realized was that George Floyd’s death was the result of institutionalized and sanctioned racism. Anyone watching that video should be outraged. Hatred was on display for eight minutes and forty-six seconds and the violence it laid bare inspired a clarity of response that overrode apathy, futility, or the fear of COVID-19 contagion. The enemy was visible and thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people said No More Denial—racism is a virus we can do something about; this is a virus we can fight; the virus of racism and its hatred is not more powerful than the will of people who want to live in a peaceful and just world. This is how the world changes: one heart at a time until we reach critical mass.
The astrology for the week is fairly straight ahead:
(1) Mercury Retrograde begins on June 17 and lasts until July 12. Expect to start feeling it by Friday or Saturday (although I’ve been secretly convinced it started last week). If you’re going to buy a new computer or any other electronic device or if you are signing contracts, do it now or wait until the third week of July. If you can’t postpone, be prepared for interference.
(2) Venus Retrograde continues—it won’t end until June 25, so two more weeks before the goddess of love, beauty, and what matters most “turn around.” Be aware that Venus Retrograde could stall certain creative projects, so continue to be patient as you make your way through her retrospective.
(3) The Sun/Mars square continues to irritate and agitate, which translates into more demonstrations and demands, individual and collective. Do your best to manage your anger—don’t take your frustration out on anyone, especially children and animals.
We live in a crazy uncertain world where nothing is quite what it was, which makes this the perfect creative moment for change. Contemplate what you want to create, and as you do, think about what you are saying as well as what you are doing—every thought, word, and deed has an effect.
June 3 - 9, 2020
Hello to readers in Coleraine!
Normally when faced with a crisis my heart knows what it wants to say, but my heart can’t find its voice this week because like most of our fellow travelers around the world, the sadistic cruelty of George Floyd’s death, in broad daylight with witnesses pleading for his life and Mr. Floyd calling for his mother heard on the video that captured almost every detail, is too much for any heart to bear—just too much. No one is exempt from this suffering; every violent act against one of us is an act of violence against all of us—and the people taking it to the streets know that.
What can you write about Heaven when Earth is falling apart and the end to chaos and violence is nowhere in sight? Certainly nothing superficial will do—no “this too shall pass” or “time is the greatest healer” or even “adversity is an opportunity for growth.” In this moment, in the midst of so much rage, the only thing I can hold on to is that this must be the tipping point, the point where we collectively refuse to tolerate racism any longer. Period. It’s madness that we treat anyone as if his or her life is worthless—it’s just madness. But we live in a mad world, where daily insanity is normalized and hatred has become a brand, with its own broadcast signal and Twitter account.
Mars dominates daily life for the next many months—eight to be exact, including a two-month Mars Retrograde from September 9 until November 13 for good measure, just so we really get the point. Mars symbolizes self-assertion, from raw expressions of global rage to the discipline of self-actualization. We are currently in the rage phase and as if to drive the point home, this past Sunday, the New York Times headline read “Fury in the Streets as Protests Spread Across the U.S.”, a headline made for Mars, god of war, as well as the warrior taking a stand. When Mars throws its might around, all sorts of aggressive interactions occur—and the current unrest and upheaval is just the beginning of the beginning. We are in the American Revolution 2.0 zone, which culminates with the U.S. Pluto return in February 2022.
Back in present time, Mars is in Pisces, moving into a conjunction with Neptune, also in Pisces, which is exact on June 13. Normally this conjunction would encourage empathy, but Mars throws a monkey wrench into that Neptunian sensitivity as it continues its square to the Sun in Gemini. This is a fractious interaction that’s not the least bit interested in sentimental leanings. This Sun/Mars/Neptune square is likely to exploit the already too-intense air with divisive stories aimed at using Neptune’s susceptibility for suggestion—it symbolizes imagination—to encourage fear and then anger as the response to that fear.
On June 27, Mars enters Aries, where it stays until January 2021. Yes, that is as intense as it sounds—we will be dealing with a lot of heat and it won’t be easy managing the impulse to action.
It’s a bleak picture and it will remain bleak until the protests coalesce into a movement that unites enough people of all races, religions, genders, ages, and agendas against the forces that benefit from exploiting the differences that separate us. If the movement for social justice is to succeed at all, it needs to fortify its moral center so that it is wide and deep and strong enough to include all of us. We are not as disconnected from each other as we’ve been programmed to believe, and united we can and will make a difference.
Before I moved back to the United States last October I had a dream about my father, the radical, who has been dead for more than twenty years. In the dream he was young and marching with a picket sign. He turned to me and said, “Better get back to the U.S. soon; you don’t want to miss the revolution.” This revolution can’t be missed, even in its nascent state.
Take heart as you move through the coming weeks—it’s gonna take a lot of heart to make it through the waves of change crashing on the shores of daily life. Continue to strengthen your internal center and listen closely to your heart—it will offer the best guidance. And as always, be kind. To everyone. But don’t mistake compassion for permission. True compassion knows the difference between right and wrong and while it is willing to take a stand for the Greater Good, true compassion causes no additional harm to anyone.
May 27 - June 2, 2020
Hello to readers in Buda!
I feel as if the sky is singing its own version of Herman’s Hermits’ “I’m Henry the Eighth, I am”— “second verse same as the first.” For those too young to remember the original, it’s the song Patrick Swayze sang to torment Whoopi Goldberg’s character in Ghost. The only thing that’s distinguishes this week’s planetary patterns from last week is the movement of the Moon—and the Sun is even more firmly planted in Gemini. Other than that, there’s not too much to report. I could have likened this sameness to Groundhog Day (my favorite Buddhist movie) but I think Herman’s Hermits are definitely sillier and we could use a lighter touch.
Here’s the skinny:
(1) Venus is still retrograde in Gemini and she stays retrograde until June 25. Venus is the goddess of love and beauty and Gemini is naturally flirtatious, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling like a fling even in the midst of social distancing. Just be aware that Venus also continues to square Neptune—this is the storytelling signature from last week—and this week (second verse same as the first), this ongoing square translates into even more stories to tell, especially romantic ones. Have a good time remembering or creating romantic drama and excitement. Keep in mind that Neptune symbolizes imagination and that deception and projection are part of its vast, infinite domain, making it important not to tell yourself or others stories you might later regret having shared because you had embellished them with so many misleading details.
(2) Mars continues its square to the Sun, a fractious interaction that could be provoking testy tempers, stoking competitive fires, and turning almost everything into a do-or-die competition. A Mars/Uranus sextile amplifies the Martian need to take a stand. Uranus is, after all, the rebel with or without a cause and when Uranus unites positively with Mars, causes and stands seem fueled by unlimited determination. Pick your battles carefully—not everyone is going to fight fair and some are just doing battle for the sake of it.
(3) Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto are also retrograde (definitely second verse same as the first), and as these three astral kings retrace their recent paths, we’re retracing ours. Because their combined potency is so powerful, their combined retrograde is too, which is why it’s important to see it as a profound growth opportunity. Yes, you may be bored with the repetition, but if you stay open to this period of reflection and introspection, when these retrogrades end you’re likely to emerge from this intense phase of reflection with valuable information about how to handle what lies ahead.
The next couple of weeks are a cascading review—Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto are already retrograde and on June 18, Mercury Retrograde begins, which is why the best use of this aggregation of retrograde planets is to reconnoiter and recalibrate your plans. It’s important to stay fluid during this time so you can make whatever adjustments are necessary.
There will be people who take out their frustration on others, which is an unfortunate choice, if only because so many people are suffering and in dire need of help. So as you review, try to figure out how you can reach out to your fellow travelers and offer a helping hand. We are all in this together and we need to rely on each other to make it through.
May 20 - 26, 2020
Hello to readers in Pukalani!
It’s a week of storytelling, and from tall tales to terse statements of fact or opinion, everyone has something to say—and everyone wants to be heard. Venus is driving this passion for narrative. The goddess of love, beauty, and what matters most is retrograde in the Sign of Gemini, the communications domain of the zodiac, and amplifying that position, Mercury, the Ruler of Gemini, shares the same space with Venus, which means most of us are talking, sharing information, and telling stories about what we know as well as what we don’t know.
That Mercury/Venus conjunction in Gemini squares Neptune in Pisces, and because Neptune signifies imagination, some of the stories we are hearing and will continue to hear are the biggest fish stories possible—Neptune actually delights in the fantastic. At its worst, this square generates a peculiar kind of paranoia, a mental state that isn’t quite satisfied with what is and feels compelled to embellish the facts; at its best, this square brings to light the qualitative difference between reality and imagination. As you spin your story, try to stick to the facts—these days truth is actually stranger than fiction.
The Sun entered Gemini early on the morning of May 20, illuminating Gemini’s love of information as well as its desire to share the data with all who are interested, and a devotion to all the discussions that data might engender. This translates into fact-finding missions, so have fun researching and digging in the dirt of what you uncover. Just be aware that as you present your information, others may not agree and while a lively discussion would normally be worthwhile, these days ideological differences can escalate into much more than discussion. Unfortunately, Mars in Pisces squares the Sun in Gemini, creating an aggressive air. Avoid petty fights, especially if they begin to intensify—lots of folks are more than a little edgy, so anything you can do to dial it down will be truly beneficial.
This Sun/Mars square persists for the next several weeks—the rest of May through the end of June—and while I know that’s a long time, it is a precursor for what lies ahead, when we will all need to do our best to keep the peace. Mars is the Roman god of War (Aries to the Greeks), and symbolizes self-assertion, from the basest expression of global rage to the highest refinement of self-actualization. Many of us strive to attain self-actualization, but most of us fall in the middle of that spectrum; some of us more belligerent than others, but all of us experience the intensity of anger at some point in our lives. The Sun represents our essence and squares symbolize friction, so when the Sun clashes with Mars at a hard angle, tempers tend toward testy. Keep in mind that this square is between Mutable Signs, the peacemakers of the zodiac, which has the potential to soften the edge of many encounters.
But that potential to soften the edge ends on June 27, when Mars, still in a square to the Sun, enters Aries, where it stays until January 6, 2021. Mars in Aries is like Mars cubed, which means lots of us are going to be dealing with our warrior energy, internal or external. What’s more, Mars goes retrograde in Aries on September 9 and stays retrograde until November 13 (yes, it will be a wild election season, but we don’t need the stars to tells us that). Which is why it would be wise to use the intensity of this week and the coming weeks—and all through the Sun/Mars square—to practice nonviolent communication. We need to be in shape for the many battles ahead—big and small, personal and collective, significant and petty—if we are going to handle this intensity skillfully.
As the week unfolds you’ll probably find yourself dealing with more than a fair degree of restlessness—yours or others’. For those still committed to staying put whenever possible and abiding by protective measures, it’s unnerving to watch people come out of self-quarantine without wearing masks or gloves, acting as if COVID-19 is over. Others who have resented and resisted the idea of self-quarantine from the beginning are finally free to move about more and that creates its own unsettling air, especially as their enthusiasm for greater freedom clashes with those more cautious. It’s not going to be easy navigating this next phase, and the Sun/Mars square isn’t going to help. So renew your commitment to compassion and try to be as kind to your fellow travelers as possible. We all could use a tender touch as well as a strong dose of common sense, perhaps the most valuable sense of all.
May 13 - 19, 2020
Hello to readers in Natchez!
I had just started my walkabout and moved overseas when Mr. Trump won the election, and for the first three years of his term whenever I watched the news, I was aware that many reporters as well as pundits were surprised by his behavior. It was as if they thought the presidency would be a personal growth opportunity for Mr. Trump—a challenge he would mature into and because of that maturation, he would start telling the truth and assume other habits of gravitas that are traditionally expected from the leader of the free world. It was so optimistic to think that the office would be transformational for a man who embodied (and emboldened) so many negative personal traits. This is why I stayed on his flaws and wrote about him and his Gang of Hungry Ghosts for so many years—normalizing his behavior was something I had to take a stand against. It was clear to those with eyes to see that Mr. Trump was never going to develop the kind of character we’ve come to expect from the president of the United States. As the first three years of his term played out, he morphed from a cartoon president into a clear and present danger to us all—a threat so clear that even many of the pundits began to talk about him as a failed human being, utterly lacking in the skills needed to lead the country. Mr. Trump has treated and continues to treat the presidency as just one more failed business; he is bankrupt financially as well as morally. But COVID-19 has brought Mr. Trump’s knack for destruction and devastation into sharper focus; his inability to be anything other than a con man is revealed for everyone to witness. Comedians have joked about his tiny little hands, but it’s his tiny little heart that’s the problem.
For the past several weeks, the planets along with the pundits have been kicking his presidential ass, and the coming weeks are no different. Venus goes retrograde today, and as she “turns around” she does so within a degree of his Gemini Sun and exactly opposite his Moon in Sagittarius. Venus is the goddess of love and beauty, but also the goddess of ultimate value. While Venus Retrograde is not particularly pernicious, this cycle has the potential to focus even more on his flawed values and how they affect us. As Mr. Comey pointed out, Mr. Trump has no external reference point—he is his own Higher Power—a character flaw we should learn from, because an absence of genuine humility is nothing to be proud of; eventually it balloons into hubris, and inevitably hubris ossifies into lack of concern and empathy for others. As part of Venus’ retrospective, it reviews the last five weeks—ain’t they been a doozy—and for Mr. Trump, who continues to let the pandemic rage through the country as the death toll is still rising, the coming weeks are certain to be the hardest times he’s ever faced—even more challenging than the last two months, if only because that retrograde Venus is going to dredge up every decision he’s made. The gods have no tolerance for hubris, and the pandemic may be Mr. Trump’s nemesis.
Venus may not be pernicious, but she’s no slouch when it comes to taking a stand. After all, the ancient Mesopotamians saw her as a warrior goddess and she was Julius Caesar’s patron saint. Venus retraces her path to the position she occupied on April 10, and when she goes direct, she retraces that very same ground again. So we are not going anywhere new anytime soon. Keep in mind that in April, the cases of COVID-19 were surging daily. Mr. Trump is certain to be visited by the ghosts of those lost and although he isn’t likely to share those visitations, anyone with a keen eye is sure to notice the stress as these weeks play out.
But that’s not all; indeed, it’s the least of his astrological stresses.
On April 4, we experienced the first of three Pluto/Jupiter conjunctions that occur this year. The second conjunction occurs on June 30 and the third on November 12. Jupiter/Pluto contacts encourage such a strong desire for power that they give birth to despots of every ilk who would attain it at any cost, leaning toward unbridled ruthlessness to achieve their fanatical aspirations. This first conjunction took place on the mid-point of Mr. Trump’s Venus/Saturn conjunction in Cancer, a configuration that can manifest as hard-heartedness, so it’s interesting that the pundits are now focused on Mr. Trump’s glaring lack of empathy and compassion. What’s more, Jupiter, Saturn, and Pluto are all transiting his natal Venus/Saturn conjunction in Cancer—transits that have the power to humble even the most exalted among us, but leave him continuing to try magic tricks to make his troubles disappear. As any of us who have had a negative Pluto, Saturn, or even Jupiter transit know first-hand, nothing nullifies the power of those planets; the only solution to successfully navigate those transits is transformation. And if the death toll isn’t a strong enough impetus to facilitate transformation, nothing is.
Under the influence of the first Jupiter/Pluto conjunction in April, we experienced the worst of the first wave of COVID-19 surges. The next conjunction occurs on June 30, and given the chaos of the May reopening (and by chaos, I mean the lack of a coherent federal plan here in the U.S.—some states are opening early against medical advice, and even in states attempting to follow stricter medical guidelines, some people are ignoring safety issues, in a random mélange of many individuals just doing whatever they feel like), we’re likely to see another dreadful increase by the end of June. We don’t know what awaits us in November, when the third Jupiter/Pluto kicks in, although concerns of another wave during flu season are growing.
What we do know is that the second wave of the Spanish flu began in August 1918 and as it happens, there was a Jupiter/Pluto conjunction during that whole month, when a virulent new strain of the flu took hold. We also know that at the end of October 1981 there was an exact Jupiter/Pluto conjunction; this was about the time that AIDS cases were starting to appear, first identified through the symptoms of Kaposi’s sarcoma and Pneumocystis pneumonia. Not every Jupiter/Pluto conjunction is an indicator of a pandemic; nevertheless, we would be wise to prepare for at least two more waves of COVID-19. It would also be wise to learn from history.
Which brings us back to Mr. Trump and his lack of leadership. In many ancient cultures the king was the representative of the divine on Earth and also the representative of his domain and the people who lived within his realm. Certainly, Mr. Trump has been the representative of our collective shadow—both locally and globally—in his racism, cynicism, narcissism, and grasping greed. It doesn’t need to be said, but I’m gonna say it anyway… he embodies the worst of human nature and although his many, many egregious acts in the past three years have failed to dissuade many from listening to his lies, the reality of death may be his ultimate undoing. Saturn and Pluto have been wreaking havoc with our lives, but they are definitely kicking his ass. No one escapes Pluto—it’s the most powerful of all the sky gods, other than the Sun, of course. The Sun gives life; Pluto brings death. In his determination to dismantle the government and create a dictatorship, Mr. Trump has put us all in danger.
This week, as the planets unite in their retrospective—Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus are all retrograde—make the most of this time by reflecting on what you’ve learned from this first wave of an invisible virus that has laid bare all the issues that need our attention. Most of all, be kind to your fellow travelers, especially children, who more than ever need positive examples of how to live in an uncertain world.
May 6 - 12, 2020
Hello to readers in The Hague!
Unless it’s about an alien intervention, I am done with conspiracies theories—they are ubiquitous and ridiculous and I feel as if simply listening to them drains my life force. Last week and up until the moment of writing this week’s missive, I’ve heard the following theories: Dr. Fauci traveled to China to engineer the virus; the doctors and nurses on the front lines of the pandemic are murdering people in New York City and attributing their deaths to COVID-19; 5G electromagnetic rays are causing the virus; it’s a blue state hoax; the U.S. Army is responsible; Bill Gates made it happen; and on and on and on as the spin about the origins of the virus grow out of control, infecting and also reflecting perspectives everywhere. And that’s why I am rooting for the alien intervention theory; at least that one offers a chance of returning to my home planet safely.
Although I loved The X-Files, I have very little tolerance for conspiracy theories because I was raised on the idea that “they” were out to get us and spent much of my young life desperately trying to get a handle on what was real as I puzzled through who was friendly and who wasn’t. I had to figure it out because “they” actually were out to get us! My father (as many readers of this column might remember) was blacklisted in the ’50s for being a communist organizer, which he was while he worked as a merchant marine and member of the National Maritime Union. He was a union organizer and he was a communist and the FBI pursued him—persecuted him, really—and by association, his family; I was raised on the idea that the FBI was listening in on everything we were doing, certain they were taking notes and snapping pictures.
My father’s fascination with all sorts of conspiracy theories matured over time, even after the blacklist faded away, and by the time he was free from FBI persecution, he was his own left-wing version of Fox News—there was a mysterious “they” behind everything—everything. My stepfather also suffered from McCarthy’s blacklist, and when he died in 2001, his memorial was held at the Communist Party office in Manhattan. At my mother’s insistence, I had to warn friends who were coming to honor his life that their picture would be taken as they entered the building.
The thing about conspiracy theories is that they are built on the notion that we are victims of a force more powerful than any individual, and those manipulations by whatever secret force is working behind the curtain makes us all victims of its ultimate agenda. And victim is the operative word here. Don’t misunderstand: there are real victims—my father was one—but to live thinking your life is controlled by some unseen force—and not by a divine force—is a disheartening way to live, which is why I have always rejected it. I saw what it did to my father and I wasn’t going to let it happen to me. But the pandemic is not a secret force and there are real victims who need our support: COVID-19 has identified those most at risk and most in need of our help and compassion. If ever there was an argument for a national health care system, the coronavirus has made it clear that we must take care of ourselves and our fellow travelers.
Some conspiracies are real, but the theories that Dr. Fauci, Bill Gates, or the cell towers transmitting 5G rays invented COVID-19 are not, so when I hear people say, “Well, you just don’t know what to believe anymore,” I always disagree. Most of us have good, solid, common sense that allows us to know when something is true. If you’re paying attention, you can usually spot or smell the deceit. Are there dastardly plans being made and put into motion by mendacious people in power who want to rule the world? Absolutely. Steve Bannon has been very clear that Mr. Trump’s and his backers wanted to deconstruct the government—and they did—and we are suffering the consequences of that deconstruction: chaos in the face of a pandemic that needs a unified federal strategy to create order. But sometimes some things just happen because that’s life. COVID-19 is one of those things, which is one of the reasons it is life-changing and has brought almost everyone to their knees. Its power and presence caught us all off guard and it affects all of us, even the “they” behind every conspiracy theory.
We’ve always told stories to make sense of life and to create order out of chaos. Creation myths are our oldest stories. According to Dr. Barbara Sproul in Primal Myths, creation myths ask “the most profound human questions.” They are stories that express ultimate values and therefore act as guides to a deeper presence. They are always about our relationship to the unnamable force that gives birth to all life.
Stories about the origins of COVID-19 are not creation myths—although some are very creative. They don’t point to a transcendent force against which we can measure ourselves. All stories express the values of the storyteller, and if you listen carefully to all the conspiracy theories, you’ll hear the worldview and values that form their core. They are trying to make order out of chaos, but they just create more chaos.
Astrology also tells an origin story: it reminds us that we are part of the sky and that while we participate in its magnificence and mystery, it’s a mystery we are never going to fully comprehend. There are many astrological systems and every astrologer interprets the sky according to her value system, but no matter how diverse those interpretations may be—and they are diverse—they all share common ground: we belong to the sky.
Here’s a link to an article about our shared celestial origins to remind us of our cosmic interconnectedness. blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-stars-could-help-unify-us/?fbclid=IwAR3KrQrvjDWXLHASR25PnpbQc7G0eEfYhpH6c3Ej3O-iGKMPevjUk9M6QTI
This week, the sky tells a specific story about slowing down and taking a good look at what’s transpired since the beginning of this year, when the effect of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction turned the world upside down—and we’ve got a lot to review. Saturn Retrograde begins on May 10; Venus Retrograde begins on May 12; Jupiter Retrograde begins on May 14. Pluto Retrograde began on April 25. Even though there is an undeniable urge to open up the country and get back to normal, there is no astral indication that opening is safe or that it will be successful. I hope I am wrong, but my hunch is that we are sure to see a surge in infections and hospitalizations and, of course, deaths as a result of premature action.
Venus slows down to a crawl this week in preparation for her retrograde, which begins in six days. Venus goes retrograde in a square to Neptune, in Pisces. Neptune rules imagination and Venus, goddess of love, beauty, and what matters most, turns around in Gemini, the Sign of the storyteller. Be prepared for even more theories about where the virus began and what it’s teaching us about who we are as humans.
As we work our way through these myriad stories about the how’s and why’s of our current condition, it’s important to be able to discern which stories about COVID-19 express values that will help us co-create a kinder and more perfect union. That co-creation could be the origin story of the next step in our evolution, a step toward compassion, unity, and love.
April 29 - May 5, 2020
Hello to readers in New Orleans!
The rhythms of daily life play out through alternating currents that sometimes seem at odds with common sense—consider them voyages to the land of impulse—while at the same, there’s a strong pull toward following the rules and regulations—a must for most of us. One moment your feet are planted firmly in the here and now and the very next moment your mind takes off in flight, as if powered by a bolt of lightning from the clear blue sky of enlightenment. Handling these contradictions is the work of the week, and while that might sound like simple advice, there will be more than a few moments of consternation about which rhythm to dance to. It’s a multidimensional perspective worthy of the Star Trek holodeck. Expect to be mesmerized by just how quickly minds can change—yours and others’. Also, be patient as these rhythms play out, especially with children, who are likely to feel these currents as impulses they just have to express. Most of us have been feeling quite restrained and this is the week the majority of our fellow travelers are going to stage a jailbreak.
The freedom-loving cadence of the week is generated by a Mercury/Uranus/Sun conjunction—all three in Taurus, a Sign that infuses the entire bundle with earthy urges that need physical expression. Unfortunately, that’s not so easy given the stay-at-home orders most of us are under—and most of us are following the rules. But Uranus is a rebel with or without a cause, and when it combines with Mercury and the Sun, the urge to break free from whatever enslaves—real or imagined—can hardly be ignored. This entire bundle supports thinking and acting outside the box, which translates into an active imagination. The problem currently is whether or not it’s safe to act on those impulses. Keep breathing through this impulsive signature; we are not out of the deep water yet, and it’s imperative that we keep ourselves and each other safe.
Pluto Retrograde began on April 25 and ends on October 4, which means that for the next five-plus months, we’re reviewing and reflecting on everything that has transpired since January 3, 2020—and that’s a lot to think about. Expect revisionist history, especially from Mr. Trump. Also anticipate significant revelations about what was going on behind the scenes.
On May 10, Saturn also “turns around” and its retrograde phase goes on until September 29. As Saturn revisits ground it’s covered since the beginning of February—you guessed it—so do we. Again, be prepared for additional information about the condition of our condition. And because it’s Saturn, also known as the planet that points the judgmental finger of blame, anticipate that lots and lots of blame will be assigned to lots and lots of people.
Two days later, on May 13, Venus Retrograde begins, and the day after that, Jupiter “turns around.” So we are in retrograde hell for the next several months—we won’t really be free from it until August. I’m not sure this translates into staying quarantined until the end of the summer, but I am certain that nothing is going to open quickly, easily, or safely in the next two months.
This is one of the contradictory rhythms of the week and the many weeks that lie ahead; while we’re riding waves of change that seem to turn on a dime, in the midst of that fluidity, some things seem to be stuck like glue, unable to move to any rhythm, even a plodding one. Which is why all these retrogrades, although frustrating, are likely to be beneficial—they provide an opportunity for many of us to review what’s happened during all those weeks behind us. Use this time to see just how much you’ve grown and just how much more growing there is to do.
I know I don’t have to remind anyone to be kind and compassionate—it’s one of the responses we’ve come to rely on during this extraordinary, tumultuous time. So many people who may not have extended a helping hand before have extended hands and hearts, and for that I am grateful. Many nights as I watch the news, and my eyes tear up at the stories of sacrifice and care that so many of our fellow travelers are extending to others. It’s heartening to watch compassion in action—it’s how we learn to turn love into a daily practice.
April 22 - 28, 2020
Hello to readers in New York City!
If you’re counting on stay-at-home rules expiring mid-May, you might want to reconsider your options because according to celestial portents, no one and nothing is going to shift into turbo-drive any time soon. This week is the first in a series of shifting planetary patterns that unfold over the next three weeks, and while you may notice a slight change of tone, it’s a slow build that culminates mid-May. Given the ongoing COVID-19 interruption of regular routines, it’s probably best to be aware that even more interference is on the way. These are not necessarily the positive patterns we’ve been waiting for—they are all retrogrades. Pluto begins its retrograde phase on April 25; Saturn starts its retrograde on May 10; Venus Retrograde begins May 12; and Jupiter goes retrograde on May 14. The best way to cope with this season of retrogrades is to use this week and next to get as much done as possible. Once the retrogrades set in, daily life might resemble the invasion of the molasses monsters, so prioritize your time and energy around your most important goals and then apply as much patience as possible to every situation.
Pluto’s retrograde, beginning this Saturday, persists until October 4. As part of its retrospective, Pluto returns to the degree it occupied on January 3, which means we’re reviewing events that occurred during that time through a Plutonian lens. Pluto, as most of us know, signifies the process of death and rebirth, which is likely to translate into a lot of thinking about what has transpired and what we need to learn about the inexorable and uncontrollable power of nature. Yes, there are other subjects that will grab screen time during its review, which means you can also expect lots of frustration and even more haggling about who’s to blame for the pandemic. Given Mr. Trump’s recklessness, which now includes encouraging his followers to break the rules and gather in large groups, we can also anticipate a surge in COVID-19 cases that will likely result from such reckless behavior coming home to roost.
Saturn Retrograde begins on May 10 and lasts until September 28, and as part of its retrospective, Saturn returns to and turns around on the position it occupied on February 3. As Saturn retraces its path, we’re reviewing all that’s happened since the crucial start of the pandemic in the United States. But that’s not all. Jupiter Retrograde begins on May 14 and because Jupiter also returns to and turns around on the position it occupied on February 18, this planetary review is extensive—we’re looking at all that’s been put in motion since the pandemic began, especially rules and regulations.
Venus Retrograde begins on May 12 and lasts until June 25, but how this retrograde will plays out is not as clear cut as the other three retrogrades. Normally, Venus Retrograde is all about relationships (she is the goddess of love, after all), but because Venus also represents money and values, her retrograde is also a review of what’s important—and that’s where we could run into trouble. Venus “turns around” three days before the shelter-in-place order is supposed to end in several states, including New York and California, so the first way we might feel her influence is through a change in those stay-at-home orders. That’s not hard to imagine, especially with so many people protesting to be free, even at the risk of spreading the virus and causing an increase of infections. Venus is not a pernicious planet and her retrogrades aren’t as dramatic as those of Mercury or Mars. Nevertheless, Venus is a social force and because she is retrograde in Gemini, a convivial Sign, there’s a high probability that those who are sheltering in place will start to crave contact with others even more than they already are. If those shelter-at-home orders aren’t lifted, the isolation may be more than many of our fellow travelers can handle.
A Sun/Uranus conjunction exacerbates the need to break free from whatever enslaves. We've been in it for a week and it’s exact and separating on April 26, lingering until May 3. Uranus represents the rebel with or without a cause and when it combines with the pure power of the Sun, those rebellious urges are almost impossible to deny. Of course, it doesn’t help that the “leader of the free world” is assiduously fomenting unrest in his own country—something we should all pay close attention to because it is a preview of what lies ahead, particularly around the elections. A country divided and at war with itself can easily be conquered by a despot whose aim is to exploit strife for his own purposes. One of the lessons we are learning through this pandemic is how important government actually is to the regular routines of daily life. We may grouse about how ineffectual and bureaucratic governments—local, state, and federal—are, but in the midst of a crisis such as this, the magnitude of which we haven’t really seen before, a uniform and functioning government is a necessity. Mr. Trump is only interested in dismantling the government and intensifying the chaos of that dissolution; unlike Venus, he is a pernicious presence.
One of the things that brings joy during this time of the coronavirus is just how many people are practicing kindness and compassion. There are far more people who care about each other than those who don’t, so try not to despair about our human condition. We've known for a while that something had to give—now it is, and each of us needs to be part of envisioning a better future for all of us.
One last note: Happy Earth Day! And just in case you were wondering where Earth Day originated… you guessed it: hippies. Although if you read about its history, you will find an amalgam of people joined together out of mutual concern to celebrate our planet.
April 15 - 21, 2020
Hello to readers on and off planet!
Every day we’re caught in the grip of COVID-19 we’re presented with opportunities to cultivate compassion in action—amidst the horrors of the death toll, the rising numbers of people infected, the lack of adequate supplies, the inadequacy of the federal response, and the projections of how long self-quarantine is likely to continue, there are reports of extraordinary acts of kindness by seemingly ordinary people. I’m using “seemingly” because those demonstrating compassion in action are our fellow travelers and not necessarily our leaders, influencers, or celebrities. To be sure, many of our privileged fellow travelers are making a difference as well, but pay close attention and you’ll find a treasure trove of stories about generosity and care at the everyday level; these acts of compassion come straight from the heart. We’re reaching out to each other—family, friend, or stranger—hoping to ease the pain and stem the tide of our shared suffering. These are not random acts of kindness; they are purposeful and humbling to behold.
While it is possible to attribute these generous acts to current planetary patterns, it’s not easy to assign credit to the stars because there’s no direct link from those astral interactions to a generosity of spirit. It’s important to realize that not every earthly event has an astrological explanation. The acts of kindness we are witnessing are instinctual, heartfelt responses to help in whatever way possible. Despite what the increasingly ungenerous attitudes of the last few years would suggest, helping each other is inherent to our basic societal nature, something we’ve been doing for thousands of years. “The great anthropologist Margaret Mead suggests that the first indication of human civilization is care over time for one who is broken and in need [emphasis added], evidenced through a fractured thigh bone that was healed [15,000 years ago].” divinity.yale.edu/news/15000-year-old-bone-and-fall-2013-issue-reflections
We still need practice in caring for each other and we’re going to get plenty of opportunities to hone those kindness skills over the coming weeks and months as we continue to struggle with the consequences of COVID-19. Each of us has lost the world we once knew on some or many levels simultaneously, a world we knew wasn’t perfect but nevertheless was one that offered a modicum of stability. That stability is gone and it’s not likely to be re-established any time soon, not just for lack of a vaccine but because the virus has laid bare the cracks in our cultural foundation.
While we’ve spent the last several decades largely ignoring what needed to be corrected, COVID-19 has widened those fissures, revealing the cost of our neglect. COVID-19 struck without regard to money, race, religion, gender or political affiliation, and because it knows no boundaries, we’re forced to acknowledge our shared humanity. But this pandemic has also highlighted the costs of income inequality, evidenced by the structural racism inherent in our healthcare system. As we are witnessing, doctors and nurses are risking their lives to help others, but there are many workers facing the great danger of the pandemic who must continue to labor simply to survive.
Our ability to rebuild will be determined by how skillful we become in cultivating compassionate action. Today I heard stories of small businesses unable to get the loans offered by the government through their banks, for many reasons, not the least of which is that they are minority-owned business—another are where the ravages of institutional racism can be seen quite clearly through the lens of the pandemic. But we need to be creative. There are many billionaires who could bankroll businesses in their home towns and in small towns across the country. These philanthropists could create a new paradigm, one that includes businesses owned and operated by people of color. Mr. Bloomberg, for instance, could set up a company to finance small businesses in New York. Oprah could do the same in Chicago or Los Angeles. Mr. Gates could follow suit in Seattle. Wealthy people everywhere can invest in people, providing opportunities that the government can’t. While I realize there’s an argument that doing so could be considered unfairly spending someone else’s hard-earned money, it’s important to realize what inequities have fueled the billionaire caste system and widened the chasms of poverty in this country. New institutions based in compassion could create a new paradigm that bypasses the racism endemic in our banking system and gets people up and running again, which would translate into saving lives by improving lives.
From an astrological perspective, although the Saturn/Pluto conjunction has deconstructed how we live, it does have the potential to help us build a new world, but only through self-discipline, coupled with the determination to overcome old, pernicious obstacles that inhibit growth. The old paradigm of socialism versus capitalism as the only option is no longer applicable. Yes, I know there will be advocates for both, but if we’re going to learn from this virus and survive to face the next one, we have to think differently about how we want to live. What the world needs now, as a universal antidote, is a synthesis of justice and love—and certainly the thousands of posts all over cyberspace are revealing just how many of our fellow travelers recognize that love is the answer and helping each other—putting compassion into action—is the most important pursuit of all.
April 8 - 14, 2020
Hello to fellow travelers everywhere!
The hippies were right about almost everything: Birkenstocks, health food stores, organic and sustainable farming, granola, yogurt, nuts (as a protein source), juicing, vegetarianism, veganism, animal rights, Earth Day, weed, homeopathy, massage, meditation, acupuncture, music as an agent of change, psychedelics, freedom of personal expression—“I’m doin’ my thing”—and as Joni Mitchell once wrote, setting our souls free.
Hippies were an organic response to a repressed society that found solace from the ravages of war in the mundanity of daily existence. Women were working (and I tend to think more women were working than not), but the ideal woman was still seen as the perfect homemaker—the star of the home economics class in high school. By the time rock ’n’ roll found its cultural supremacy, however, being the perfect homemaker was no longer the perfect choice. The iconic hippie chick with the long, blonde hair dancing with a tambourine became emblematic of the era, but the actual hippie chick was breast-feeding her children, and making sure that her family had whole-grain cereal and homemade bread—and then dancing with a tambourine, probably stoned on shrooms. Figuring out how to find to a way of life that would nurture the land as well as all who dwelled on it was a priority. And so was peace.
Yes, mistakes were made—too much acid, too many times—but I don’t want to apologize for those mistakes, although over the course of my life I have counseled many young people who suffered from the neglect of their hippie parents who were too busy doing their thing to give their children the attention they needed; too many drugged-filled days and nights with too many negative consequences. Free love wasn’t really free; some paid a high price for those sexual encounters that were seemingly without strings. And the hippies also searched for a higher love.
Recently I commented to a young woman that if it weren’t for George Harrison, she wouldn’t be taking a yoga class or meditating—she told me not to be ridiculous. I stubbornly held my ground, pointing out that without the Beatles’ interest in the Maharishi and Transcendental Meditation, meditating would have remained a seemingly arcane and exotic Eastern practice to Westerners. Of course, the Beatles weren’t hippies per se; they were rock star hippies. Nevertheless, they embraced the notion that love is truly all you need—and that was the free love that changed so many hearts and minds and actually served the greater good.
We have and still do benefit from the ethos of the hippies—it’s been the driving force behind almost all our positive endeavors and efforts to evolve. Mindfulness? Hippies. Astrology? Hippies. Artisanal goat cheese? Hippies. Communal gardens? Hippies. Mind/body connection? Hippies. So the next time you’re tempted to say, “Okay, boomer” as a way of expressing contempt for the failures of an earlier generation, remember to make a distinction between the excesses of the Me Generation—and all its Gordon Gekko cocaine capitalists—and the hippies. Ask yourself instead, “what’s so funny ‘bout love, peace, and understanding”?
If you’re wondering why this week is a departure from the regular format, the answer is simple: I’m tired of writing about COVID-19 and I need a break. I’ll go back to sky-watching and sharing my interpretation of how astral interactions can be seen through our current situation next week. But until then, I’m gonna watch Yesterday.
April 1-6, 2020
Hello to readers everywhere!
It’s another rough week on Planet Earth—as COVID-19 numbers rise and drastic measures to treat the ill and prevent more deaths dominate the news, many of our fellow travelers are experiencing the dissolution of too many regular routines. That personal loss of continuity, compounded by the collapse of collective structures, has produced a surreal local and global landscape that makes daily life harder to handle for even the most adaptable among us. Introverts everywhere may not be suffering from isolation as much as those who thrive on social contact, but we’re all experiencing a disruption that isn’t easily remedied. Many fellow travelers are sending creative ideas out into the world through a variety of media and those creations are funny, entertaining, and all too often poignant; even more of us are cyber-gathering to stave off isolation and loneliness. Ingenuity and inventiveness are helping to forge pathways through this brave new world. That being said, there is also an underlying current of grief for actual lives lost as well as for the loss of what was left of normal life—a loss that is likely to become even more dominant this week as the numbers of people infected and hospitalized continue to rise. As the awareness of just how serious our situation truly is sinks in, lots of people are likely to act out. As always the best way through these waves is to set your internal compass toward the highest good and do your best to help others endure the stress where and when possible—there’s no denying we’re all in this together and that we need each other during this extremely difficult challenge.
A Mars/Saturn conjunction in Aquarius signifies the condition our condition is in (thank you, Kenny Rogers) and it’s not a pretty picture. Mars signifies energy and movement and Saturn signifies restriction and constraint; Mars doesn't like being bossed around and Saturn naturally takes the helm in almost every situation—or at least tries to. A Mars/Saturn conjunction is generally interpreted as a pernicious astral signature that leans toward tests of strength—and certainly current conditions around the world are testing our individual and collective strength. This conjunction is also connected with illness and death. Being quarantined is a possible manifestation of this struggle between motion and stillness, especially when the desire to accomplish something collides with prohibitions against going further. Be cautious about taking your frustration out on others—we are living through many moments of instant karma, which means lots of actions will boomerang. Even though you may not be able to identify the immediate result, Saturn never forgets—it has an elephant’s memory and is after all, the Lord of Karma. Don’t kick the dog or blame the cat or each other. Saturn’s blaming finger is best left outside.
It will be interesting to note what happens this week from a political and financial perspective because Saturn just made its first pass over 0° Aquarius on March 21, a point that was triggered by Mars on the U.S. election night in 2016--and Mars is also at that same point, a point that Saturn triggers again on July 1 as it retrogrades back into Capricorn. That point is activated yet again on December 16, 2020 as Saturn moves into Aquarius and stays there for the next two-plus years. I’m not sure why this point is so potent but like many lessons these days, it’s likely to be one we learn by living through it.
A Mercury/Neptune conjunction in Pisces has been in effect since Tuesday, March 31; it’s exact and separating on Saturday, April 4 and its influence persists until Tuesday, April 7. When these two tricksters join forces, all sorts of exaggerated stories are told about all sorts of situations, so be careful not to mistake fiction for fact. This conjunction also fosters an atmosphere of hypersensitivity, so be equally careful about taking in information that is too upsetting. We live in a time when all types of information are disseminated without much regard for consequences—another lesson we’ve been learning for the last several years as we’ve worked our way through a barrage of deliberate misinformation.
As the air turns harsher this week, many of us are likely to feel a range of emotions about our local and global situation, especially as isolation takes its toll. Many of us (myself included) know that when we emerge from quarantine, the world will never be the same—and we have no clear vision of what it will be. Living comfortably with uncertainty is a sign of mental health—and it’s not easily mastered. The ability to identify, acknowledge, and feel our feelings is a sign of emotional health. So if you find yourself saddened, flattened, or angry by all that is occurring, try to be patient and kind with yourself.
This is the week the grieving starts—and it’s not just for those who have died. We are grieving for a world we’ve lost to a virus that has pulled the rug out from under our lives by revealing all the issues that need our attention if we are to make our planet a better place to live. And all of it is simply overwhelming. Some of us have been through this before—certainly AIDS is another virus that changed the world forever—and we will make it through this virus too. AIDS pushed the envelope of compassion, and while resistance to having compassion for those infected with AIDS was profound and prolonged, compassion won. I can’t help but think that kindness and compassion will also be our greatest allies in healing from the virus and also in creating a better world. Here’s a great article on grieving during COVID-19. hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief
March 25 - 31, 2020
Hello to readers everywhere!
For the last five decades I’ve been listening to stories about the end of the world. From New Agers to survivalists to Ayn Randers to conspiracy theorists to indigenous myths of Native Americans to predictions by the elders of the Andes—every culture has a narrative about how this world will end. I don’t poo-poo these myths as fairy tales nor do I subscribe to any particular narrative. I think end-of-the-world myths are in reality teachings about how to live—they are instruction manuals about what could go wrong; reminders of the transitory nature of existence; and above all, they impart the wisdom that in the realm of the temporal, all things must end. It doesn’t matter whether that end is a bang, a whimper, a nuclear holocaust, a tidal wave, or an insidious pandemic. We have always told ourselves stories about the end so that we can live more fully in the now. This is also why we consult oracles of every kind when times get tough: we think we’re asking about the future, but what we are really seeking is information and comfort about the present.
I don’t think COVID-19 is going to end the world and wipe us out as a species. That being said, it’s easy for some of us to imagine that we’re currently living through one of those end-of-the-world narratives. Seen through that lens, it might be wise to also imagine what we are being taught about the future. We are learning important life lessons—a wisdom that must be learned if we are to emerge from this experience and survive. Some of these lessons are political, financial, and social—and many of us have been aware of what these lessons are and what needs to change for quite some time. Nevertheless, the deeper lessons of our current existential crisis are spiritual; they speak to our essential interconnectedness and fundamental interdependence because thanks to this virus, we can no longer pretend that we are separate, even though, ironically, we are being asked to separate.
Astrology is a language of symbols and symbols speak to us multidimensionally—they speak to the head and the heart, to our intellect and our intuition; they speak to our wholeness. Yet even though astrology has the power to open the mind to a wealth of wisdom, I am very clear that the planets do not bring us to life; we bring the planets to life.
One of the challenges of using astrology as an explanation of human events is remaining true to the idea of symbols and their metaphorical meanings rather than succumbing to the limitations of literalism. So although what I write about the Saturn/Pluto conjunction sounds concrete—literal—what I am actually writing about is the combined potential of these two stellar symbols and how that potential is likely to manifest, knowing that that manifestation is dependent upon an individual and collective response to their presence. We have always looked to the sky to better understand life on Earth—and we still do—but it is important to remember that when astrology began, in all of its many manifestations it was always based on the unity of heaven and earth. Our ancestors knew that we are not separate from the sky; we co-exist with the planets and together we weave the whole cloth of life. We are co-creating reality with every thought, word, and deed, all of which emanate from within.
So when I write about the many astral configurations and their possible manifestations, I am writing about archetypal patterns that have repeated themselves from the beginning of time, long before we noticed them. I am also relying on the information we’ve gathered about those patterns throughout history because knowing how they previously manifested provides us a more informed response to those patterns now. As many have come to recognize, power is always in the now, but only if you are determined to discard habituations and integrate learned wisdom. As we also know, the past creates the present just as the present creates the future.
Saturn/Pluto contacts are all about social organization and reorganization. Saturn signifies limitation; walls are going up, but COVID-19 is revealing the uselessness of those borders. Pluto represents the process of transformation and the truth that we are not in control; COVID-19 is teaching that lesson in every way.
On March 21, moments before midnight EDT, Saturn entered Aquarius, a position that is sure to shift the angle of our perception ever so slightly. (Saturn stays in Aquarius until March 2023, when it enters Pisces.) Saturn is a co-ruler of Aquarius, which means it is likely to be just as mighty in Aquarius as it is in Capricorn, and that translates into a serious and sober attitude that is most concerned about community and searching for ways to concretize creativity. That’s something we can use right at this moment because one of the beneficial side effects of this pandemic is the need for innovation, which is the Aquarian gift. We are being bumped up to a new frequency and we need tools to help align with what is not only for our greatest personal good, but also for our greatest collective good, including tools for healing, growth, and righting the wrongs of the old paradigm. Necessity is the mother of invention and invention is the Aquarian strong suit.
Jupiter is currently in Capricorn conjunct Pluto—that conjunction is exact and separating on April 4—and because Jupiter symbolizes the global dimensions of daily life, this is the week we could experience the beginning of a global reorganization among the many governments combating the virus, specifically in how we share information and supplies and start a cooperative plan for the future. There are two additional Jupiter/Pluto conjunctions: June 29 and November 12, so there’s plenty of time to sort this out.
In 2012, when a large number of our fellow travelers were concerned (some convinced) that the world would end on December 12, 2012, the final day of the Mayan Long Count calendar, I wrote about “cosmophobia,” a term coined by NASA to define an “irrational fear of the cosmos,” especially the notion that a catastrophic event was imminent. Now is not the moment for cosmophobia to make a comeback; COVID-19 is not going to lead to our extinction. But it is likely the end of the world as we once knew it. All our weaknesses are exposed and we’re in a situation that requires all of us to work together toward a common goal, caring for each other with kindness and compassion. That requirement will also continue to surface all the places where fear motivates action, but it will eventually lead us to a new way of arranging the regular routines of daily life and to a new way of being with ourselves and each other.
March 18 - 24, 2020
Hello to readers everywhere!
Even fiction couldn’t have predicted the state we’re in: the entire world shut down by a virus that, in addition to being super contagious and dangerous to certain segments of the population, is also giving birth to a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dislocation, the proportions of which are unlike anything we have seen in recent history. Even the normally disinterested and disengaged know they’re living in a historical moment that is certain to be chronicled as a pivotal point in our global evolution. The effect of this virus—not just the actual illness, but its mushroom effect upon our consciousness and upon the way we live—is so potent that hindsight will almost certainly see COVID-19 as the great wake-up call that united the disparate nations of planet Earth and taught us to finally work together. Of course, we’re not there yet and it may take a long time to arrive at that sliver-lining perspective. This pandemic is pushing our planet beyond the narrow borders that once defined us, and what the future will no doubt view as our antiquated cultural, social, and national paradigms. Hindsight will likely see COVID-19 as a unique emergency that ultimately united us, albeit through our mutual suffering, and provided an antidote to the intense polarization that poisoned us against each other.
But back in the present moment and without the clarity of hindsight, it’s almost impossible to even consider the possibility of COVID-19 having a secret silver-lining. The bad news is that so many are panicked and afraid; the good news is that civilians are showing up to compassionately help others as best they can.
The first fatality from COVID-19 in Wuhan was reported on January 11, 2020—the eve of the exact Saturn and Pluto conjunction in Capricorn on January 12. Disease is not normally associated with Saturn/Pluto contacts, which makes it easy to dismiss this information as a coincidence rather than a synchronicity. But what’s not dismissible as a manifestation of the planetary dynamics is governments’ role all around the world in implementing draconian measures to control citizens and thus the spread of the virus. This situation is entirely congruent with a Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn.
Capricorn gets down to the bones of things and doesn’t back off until all that is superfluous is deemed unessential. Capricorn represents all sorts of systems, individual and collective, but none more important than the political, financial, and governing structures that are the backbone—the skeletal structure—of how the world works.
Saturn rules Capricorn and symbolizes the regulations and rules that keep the world’s systems running smoothly. Pluto represents death and rebirth, and its presence in Capricorn—a transit that began in 2008—has challenged those structures, beginning with the Great Recession of 2008-09. Certainly Mr. Trump has exacerbated Pluto’s challenge by systematically dismantling important departments within the United States government, a dismantling that has left us ill-equipped to handle the parameters of the coronavirus pandemic. While I understand the need to eliminate bureaucratic red tape, I also understand the need for government—I like roads, schools, the postal service, and all the other infrastructure that government provides. And because I am a bleeding-heart liberal (and proud of it), I also support government that supports its citizens through programs designed to make their better lives. More importantly, governments that fail the test of COVID-19 will not stand the test of time.
This week, the aggregation of planets in Capricorn—Mars, Jupiter, the Moon (for today), Pluto, and Saturn—are all conjunct, which only intensifies the already intense air. On March 21, Saturn enters Aquarius, where it is joined by Mars ten days later on March 31. Negative Mars/Saturn aspects tend to manifest as a pernicious force, which shows itself through broken bones, violence, or illness. Pay attention: this Zero Aquarius point seems to have some sort of secret power, which I am not able to decipher; I can only notice it. On the night of the 2016 presidential election, Mars moved from Capricorn into Aquarius, and as the results were being tallied, Mars moved through the last degree of Capricorn and into 0° Aquarius. What’s more, at the end of this year, a Jupiter/Saturn conjunction also occurs at that same degree, signaling a new regime; there is no clear indication about what that regime will be, but more about that in future columns. Given the surprising nature of Aquarius, the next ten days could reveal unexpected and unanticipated information, which could lead to startling developments.
If this virus weren’t causing so much distress, it would be easy for me to imagine its ulterior motive. This is not as wacky an idea as you might think. We know viruses have their own intelligence, even if it is unintelligible to us and they need a host to survive—think toxoplasmosis. It could be that the silver lining of this virus is its ecological message. Here are pictures of the air over Wuhan: www.cnbc.com/2020/03/02/nasa-images-chinas-air-pollution-decreased-amid-coronavirus-measures.html And here are pictures of pollution over Italy: www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-italy-pollution/air-pollution-clears-in-northern-italy-after-coronavirus-lockdown-satellite-shows-idUSKBN2102X4 We wouldn’t be able to see this significant shift it weren’t for the virus.
I’m not suggesting this pandemic is good; I’m saying that there is something to learn from it and rather than worrying, I’m focusing on learning. This is something we can all do and it will help alleviate the stress and strain of the coming weeks of quarantine and testing and testing and quarantine. Also, as we go through this pandemic, it’s important to make an extra effort to be kind to our fellow travelers, especially people at risk who could easily slip through societal cracks, where, unfortunately, too many have already fallen.
March 11 - 17, 2020
Hello to readers in Parma!
Mercury Direct is the big news this week—the fleet-footed god of communication and travel “turned around” late in the day on Monday, March 9, and all week long as Mercury starts to gain “forward” momentum, all things held within its vast domain also gather momentum at an almost breakneck pace. One of the areas where we’re likely to experience Mercury’s increased activity is through reporting on the coronavirus, COVID-19—anticipate the numbers of people confirmed infected by the virus to swell significantly, as information starts to flow with greater accuracy and at an accelerated speed.
Mercury is the Roman name for Hermes, the Greek god of language, trade, and travel, whose staff is the caduceus. When the Romans appropriated the Greek system, they incorporated all of Hermes’ domains, including his caduceus as part of Mercury’s symbolism. The caduceus, known as the “herald’s wand or staff” and when used by Hermes or Mercury is believed to insure safe passage, is popularly seen as the symbol for medicine and healing. But that’s because it has been confused with the Healing Rod of Asclepius, the Greek god associated with medicine; they look similar, unless you’re counting snakes and wings—the caduceus has two snakes intertwining the staff and wings on the top, while the Rod of Asclepius has no wings and one snake. No matter who in the ancient world we assign healing to, Hermes/Mercury negotiate trade and commerce as well as all types of travel, even multidimensional travel—both signify the psychopomp who journeys with us at death from this world to the next, and provides safe passage.
Just so I’m clear: the reason for increased communication over the next couple of weeks about COVID-19 isn’t because Mercury symbolizes healing and its direct motion translates into healing this virus. Much-needed information about this disease and its proportions is certain to emerge with Mercury Direct—information that is essential to healing—and that is the essence of Mercury’s role. It would be wise to anticipate this onslaught of data by staying level-headed and discerning about what it means to you, your family, friends, co-workers, and all the other fellow travelers you encounter during your day.
On a completely different astral note… a Mars/Jupiter conjunction in Capricorn underscores the forward momentum of Mercury Direct by adding a keen determination to get things done. This Mars/Jupiter conjunction began on March 10 and is exact and separating on March 20. All Mars/Jupiter interactions signify ambition, so be prepared for an over-the-top concentration of career goals. And even if you aren’t interested in professional goals or paths to success, this conjunction has the power to motivate taking on all sorts of challenges—even the ones that have been deemed impossible.
On March 15, as Mars is approaching Jupiter, it also begins a conjunction with Pluto that is exact and separating late in the day on March 22. This Mars/Jupiter/Pluto conjunction is a potent interaction that packs the power to move mountains—real or imagined. Be prepared to witness or participate in all sorts of extraordinary efforts to cope with the many consequences of COVID-19 and its undeniable ripple effect around the world. Expect the financial situation, with its still-wobbling stock market, to need emergency efforts, even as most of our day-to-day attention is focused on the virus and containing the contagion.
This is a transitional week so take your time getting used to the new pace, but don’t get too comfortable just yet. Next week, several planets move from one Sign to another, and their shifts accelerate the rhythms of daily life even more: The Sun enters Aries on March 19, late in the day; Saturn enters Aquarius on March 21, also late in the day; and Mars follows Saturn into Aquarius on March 30. Much more about all of that next week.
This week, as a deluge of information floods the airwaves and the mind waves, try to stay as present as possible, strong and centered within yourself and your ability to discern and distinguish what’s valuable, and discard useless data that’s only meant to obscure the truth. We’ve been in this truth-or-dare reality show for too long. Now it’s time, and necessary, to think critically about the information that’s provided and figure out how to use it beneficially. And as always, be kind to your fellow travelers. Lots of people stumble during a crisis—they are unprepared or ill-equipped to digest and metabolize pertinent information into wise choices. So if you notice that your neighbor is at a loss or the children around you are afraid or confused, try to help. We all benefit from the strength of kindness, especially when kindness shows up in practical ways that can calm and soothe stress and tension.
March 4 - 10, 2020
Hello to readers in Seattle!
Balance is the key to handling this week’s madness—a madness that grows daily as the Saturn/Pluto conjunction pulls apart, leaving in its wake rising tides of angst and anxiety about surviving what seems to be an onslaught of global threats. The economy is faltering, which affects individual and collective financial security, and the coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to mushroom into a pandemic threatening the health of individuals everywhere. From an astrological point of view, we know that one of the life lessons of a Saturn/Pluto conjunction is realizing the pernicious effect of polarization. For example, so many countries and cultures have swung to nationalistic extremes, vilifying and rejecting immigrants, and in that rejection, refusing to accept the global reality of our brave new world.
The coronavirus breaks down any illusion of separation—there are no borders, boundaries, or walls that can stop it from spreading. Its presence is a grave reminder that we are inescapably linked regardless of how many efforts we make to close our doors and secure our borders. We don’t know how long it will take for the truth of our essential interconnectedness to coalesce into joint efforts to effectively face the challenges that lie ahead, but the current pandemic is certain to accelerate that process. We also have to shift from what seems to be a prevailing attitude of resistance to the reality of a truly global planet to an attitude that allows discrete cultures to hold onto and celebrate what makes them unique, while cooperatively tackling climate change and a host of other ills that melt national boundaries and borders. Refugees are our fellow travelers and keeping them in camps isn’t a solution to their suffering and isn’t going to squelch their need to find a new home.
Today and tomorrow, the Moon in Cancer illuminates the ongoing aggregation of planets in Capricorn, and that lunar light translates into a high degree of emotional sensitivity that’s likely to manifest as many moody moments. But even as emotional waters spill over and Saturn and Pluto continue to separate (they are currently four degrees apart), Jupiter, also in Capricorn, intensifies its conjunction with Pluto, which is exact and separating on April 4. Jupiter/Pluto contacts indicate a desire for power—or what the dictionary calls a plutocracy. (Like, what else is new?)
The negative manifestations of this interaction empower opportunistic leaders who have no compunction about exploiting their followers. The positive manifestation of this Jupiter/Pluto conjunction is a great gift for leadership that shows itself in brilliant oratory skill, astute leadership built on extraordinary organizational skill, or plain, old-fashioned charismatic appeal. Get ready—we’re in for a slew of speeches filled with promises meant to entice loyalty.
Next week, Mars joins the movement in Capricorn and by March 22, Mars forms an exact conjunction with Pluto. More about that next week, but be prepared for individual and collective responses to an increasingly hyper-aggressive atmosphere.
A Sun/Neptune conjunction in Pisces, exact and separating on March 8, turns the already intense air uber sensitive, which is beneficial but also a little tricky to handle given the highly emotional environment. The best way to manage this hypersensitivity is to increase your meditation and other time spent immersed in spiritual pursuits or artistic endeavors. And let’s not leave out deeply felt romantic urges that inspire merging with the object of your affection—just try not to force your feelings on another if they aren’t mutual.
A Venus/Uranus conjunction is also in effect this week and also exact on March 8. This conjunction supports artistic expression as well as romantic fantasy, but given that it occurs in Taurus, the Sign of the lusty month of May, those romantic inclinations lean more toward sexual expression than poetic musings. As I always remind readers under any Venus/Uranus contacts: marry in haste, repent at leisure. Have fun but don’t expect a lasting attraction.
Uranus and Saturn are hovering within range of a square for most of March, but because of the retrograde phases of both planets, this square won’t be exact until February 2021. Saturn/Uranus signatures are almost always present during stock market fluctuations—a Saturn/Uranus opposition was operative during the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Saturn/Uranus contacts represent the dissolution of the status quo and when the financial equilibrium of the world is unsteady, the status quo dissolves. From an astrological perspective, we can expect the fluctuations of the market to continue at least until mid-May. I could be wrong, but perhaps when Venus, the goddess of money, goes retrograde in mid-May, the market will start to steady itself. I am not a financial astrologer, but my hunch is we won’t see the real correction until the start of 2021.
One of the ways to find or maintain your balance this week is to align with whatever spiritual practices enhance your ability to embody a perspective that is anchored in the long view. So much of what blares around us is based on momentary circumstances and because those situations change at such a rapid pace these days, it’s best to stay connected to what you know transcends the transitory. Most importantly and especially, now when so many are feeling untethered from routines and uncertain about what lies ahead, be as kind as you can to your fellow travelers—we all need to know that we are not alone.
February 26 - March 3, 2020
Hello to readers in Paihia!
The Earth continues to wobble on her axis from a plethora of holographic shifts in opinion, perspective, and actual reality that blast and blare through the ethers 24/7. This constant barrage of tremors, courtesy of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, undermines our essential trust in governing systems everywhere—citizens rely on governments to uphold the social contracts of daily life and when they don’t, daily life can slip into chaos. China, anyone? Coronavirus anywhere? Oh… and the rule of law in the United States? Driven by fear, greed, and ignorance, our collective condition deteriorates daily, refusing all sorts of remedies, and political polarization is throwing too many curve balls to handle. Lots of folks find themselves reacting out of old emotional, default settings they thought were long gone rather than responding through the spiritual muscle of all the work they’ve done.
For many, trying to manage the routines and requirements of daily life is exhausting. More than a few people I’ve talked to are wondering why they feel like they are being oppressed by an abusive parent, again. They are adults, free from the yoke of that abuse, yet unable to escape a sense of victimization. Of course not everyone is suffering, and for that I am truly grateful, because more than ever in this era of dislocation—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—it’s comforting to be reminded that joy is possible. On a personal level, much can be done to alleviate the impact of the stresses and strains of our global situation—meditation, creative projects, and immersing oneself in other joyful endeavors. The best way through the next several weeks would be finding your middle ground in the midst of this madness and holding fast to that equilibrium.
Part of this week’s wobbles are attributable to Mercury Retrograde, which continues to create its own universe of miscommunication and travel snafus until March 9—but I’m still not complaining about this retrograde. Not only is it a welcome relief that provides time for reflecting on the recent past (which we all know has been way too busy), it also serves as a “pre-relief” retrograde phase, because the two remaining 2020 Mercury Retrogrades occur in tandem with other retrograde planets: in June, Mercury goes retrograde as Venus is finishing her cycle and in October, Mercury joins Mars in the middle of its retrograde. And those combinations are sure to drive most of us bananas.
The current retrograde Mercury is conjunct the Sun in Pisces, a position that tends to amplify subjective points of view even as it amplifies compassion—Pisces is, after all, the even-tempered Sign of empathy. Mercury also sextiles Mars, a positive interaction but one that tends toward over-active minds. The good news about those busy minds is that a Mercury/Uranus sextile, which is a positive interaction that favors imagination, has the potential to flood the mind with innovative ideas. Just wait until the Mercury Retrograde is over on March 9 before you try to put any new plans in motion—this retrograde will be over soon enough and March is an ambitious month with lots of activity. The Mercury/Mars sextile ends on March 1; the Mercury/Uranus sextile ends on March 9, but as Mercury moves forward that sextile will begin again.
Steve Bannon, recently on Real Time with Bill Maher, said that Mr. Trump is a transformative figure, an historic president who has changed the judiciary and deconstructed the administrative state. Bannon is correct—although why anyone would want to deconstruct the government is not clear. Some attribute it to good old-fashioned maliciousness and greed; others see it as part of an evangelical Christian movement that wants to hasten the end times; even more see it as willful destruction meant to satisfy the narcissism of a limited mind through ever-escalating, self-aggrandizing dramatic acts that, unfortunately, only cause harm. This attempt to destroy the trust citizens have in their government will only produce anarchy, and anarchy seldom has the interests of the collective at heart.
From an astrological perspective, the chaos we’re experiencing is just the beginning dynamics of the United States Pluto Return, or the American Revolution 2.0, because like any Return, a Pluto Return is about learning from the past and recalibrating in the present. For Pluto, that means reassessing power—individual and collective, political, financial—all aspects, including the power of government. The first American Revolution challenged the power of the king to dictate how lives were lived. This next one is occurring for a similar reason: the power of a wanna-be king and his enabling party (or modern-day courtiers) to dictate the way we live. Whether or not the principles that founded the country will endure is not yet decided—that decision is up to its citizens.
Try to harness the strength of Mercury/Mars/Uranus to think about what you would want to change and why. Be aware, this is not just about a collective revolution. All of the same concerns apply to a personal revolution. As always, be kind to your fellow travelers, knowing that when revolution is combined with love it becomes evolution.
February 19 - 25, 2020
Hello to readers in Dublin!
We’re still in the effect of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn that was exact on January 12, 2020, a rare planetary event that spans a great arc of time, which makes it influence momentous. It’s a great Wheel Turning celestial cycle that destroys whatever has run its course and no longer serves while simultaneously inspiring new ways of addressing the same issues. Time travels in a spiral, constantly touching on the same cardinal points but never actually retouching those points in the same place along the continuum, which is why history repeats but never exactly replicates itself. The repetition of this Saturn/Pluto cycle has sparked conversations all around the world concerning government and its role, the rule of law, and many other societal structures that hold day-to-day “reality” in place. Because these structures are being challenged everywhere and because we have yet to figure out how to meet those challenges with a consensus on what needs to be learned from history, daily life often seems as if we are suspended in some sort of odd limbo—not here, not there, not anywhere.
Pluto began its journey through Capricorn in 2008, its first sojourn there since 1762. Capricorn is the Sign of systems and structures, which includes corporations, governments, and banks—all of which have shuddered from Pluto’s presence over the past twelve years. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, which is concluding its most recent transit through its Home Sign this year, a transit that began in 2017 and repeats approximately every 29 years. The last cycle of Saturn through Capricorn was in November 1988 and the next will begin in January 2047. Saturn and Pluto will not be conjunct again in Capricorn until 2754.
Here in the powerful aftermath of this rare planetary pattern, we are witnessing the devastating effect of our structures crumbling. While some of these structures needed attention because they failed to address the modern vicissitudes of life on planet Earth, their absolute destruction is rattling daily life in ways most of us never dreamed possible. Yes, dystopian futurists saw this coming, but the rest of us had no clue it would get this real, even if we enjoyed the end-of-the-world movies those writers spawned. The biggest problem of all is the uncertainty our current structural dissolution has put in motion.
Our situation, personal and collective, is asking us to learn to live comfortably with uncertainty and that is a hard task. A friend of mine defines mental health as the ability to live life despite its constantly shifting tides. Most of us can’t do that at all (which I guess from his perspective makes us all a little crazy) and very few can do it skillfully. In the current climate of uncertainty, we are free floating, no longer tethered to the old paradigms and unfortunately, because we have yet to create new ones capable of supporting positive transformation, we are, as Bob Dylan once wrote, “like a rolling stone, with no direction known.” It’s just one of the consequences of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction. We need a known direction.
This week, Mercury Retrograde provides the perfect environment for contemplating what that new, future direction might be. Yes, I do know that retrogrades are about reflecting, reviewing, and reconsidering what is already in motion, but that is what makes this a perfect moment to contemplate where we are going. We need to contemplate what’s gone wrong so we can figure out how to make it right—the causal level reveals the cure. You can only create what you can envision and part of the problem is that many of us are only focused on what’s collapsing and the devastation of that turmoil. Imagine the combined effect of all the attorneys who previously found their true north in the rule of law shuddering from the realization that their guiding light has gone out—at least for now. Their collective shudder is just the most recent contributor to a pervasive experience of dislocation. Our collective dislocation is a disturbance that is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Mercury Retrograde provides us the cosmic opportunity to truly take in the magnitude of these disturbances so we can get clear about what needs to be created.
Unfortunately, Mercury Retrograde can also be a frustrating slog of missed calls, missing emails, and misunderstandings; and traffic and traveling are one snafu after another—nothing wants to move the way it “should” or the way you want it to. Interestingly, a Mars/Uranus trine supports movement of all kinds as well as the strength to move mountains. So while Mercury Retrograde may be stalling the action, Mars, in Capricorn, and Uranus, in Taurus, are scratching the itch to move. When these two titans of energy work together, their combined effect is the urge for freedom and the determination and courage to remain steadfast in pursuit of liberty. We need that right now, especially if we want to maintain mental health. So if frustration gets you down, use this Mars/Uranus trine to motivate exercise. It makes no difference what kind you choose—what matters is that you move. And if you can’t physically do it, use your imagination—the second greatest muscle of all.
The first and greatest muscle is the heart, so all week long as you wrestle with the weight of the ongoing existential limbo, let your heart lead the way. It may be difficult to stay steady in a practice of compassion, but it is worth the effort—always. Remember, your fellow travelers are as stressed as you—maybe even more, and a lighter touch motivated by kindness works wonders to lighten the load, allowing everyone to breathe a little easier.
February 12 - 18, 2020
Hello to readers in Bangor!
Never have I welcomed a Mercury Retrograde as much as the one that begins on Sunday, February 16—really. I am eager for it simply because given the ongoing political and cultural upheaval nothing is or ever will be normal again, so it will be good to have a few weeks seasoned with Mercury Retrograde delays and detours disrupting the routines of daily life, requiring me to turn at least some of my attention away from the madness that has become the daily news. I realize that sounds a little cynical; after all, Mercury Retrograde is a firmly established modern sky myth that assumes life will be difficult, especially when it comes to communication and travel. Don’t get me wrong—retrograde hassles are sure to cause frustration and consternation, but I would rather deal with lost email, downed wifi systems, and one traffic jam after another than listen to the lies and diatribes clogging up the airwaves and wreaking havoc with my ability to stay focused on creating hopeful outcomes and remedies. So rather than bemoan the next few weeks, greet them with a positive attitude. A good mindset will go the distance despite whatever curve balls Mercury sends your way.
This is the first Mercury Retrograde of the year and the only one unencumbered by either Venus or Mars. Venus Retrograde begins on May 12 and lasts through June 27 and Mercury Retrograde begins on June 17, catching the tail end of Venus; Mars Retrograde begins on September 9 and lasts through November 11 (yes, through the election); and Mercury Retrograde begins on October 10 and ends on November 3—Election Day. Both of those Mercury Retrogrades are likely to be quite difficult, whereas the one that begins on Sunday and lasts until March 9 is mild in comparison. So back up your data today, not tomorrow, and be prepared for a retrograde phase you will remember fondly.
For those new to Mercury Retrograde, here’s the skinny: Mercury symbolizes all things related to communication and travel, and within the bounds of that vast domain, you will find email, contracts of every type, closing dates, and negotiations of all kinds as well as roadwork, detours, flight issues, etc., and every imaginable miscommunication. As if to remind me of the wild retrograde communique possibilities, I just received an email from someone telling me about his vacation—and it is someone I blocked a year ago—go figure!
Mars enters Capricorn on the same day that Mercury Retrograde begins, and because Mars represents ambition and assertion and Capricorn is the Sign of a sober devotion to excellence and success, Mars is likely to feel thwarted in its efforts to close the deal, if you know what I mean. So try to keep a level head as you run into obstructions, keeping in mind that when this retrograde ends, Mars will be conjunct Jupiter, both in Capricorn and all projects, large or small, will move into the fast lane.
Patience is the best strategy for the next several weeks—patience with others and also patience with yourself. We are all under a lot of stress right now and that tension easily translates into short fuses, so when possible do your best to avoid pushing yourself or others too hard. I know we need our best efforts, but we also need a chance to replenish our reserves—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. It’s been a long, consistent slog of disappointment and heartbreak, and if those of us aligned with creating a planet where the good of all sentient beings is a priority are already exhausted, we won’t show up with our best game. So take a deep breath and greet this Mercury Retrograde with a good attitude that will allow you to take care of yourself by reviewing, reflecting and reconsidering what’s already in motion. As always, share that good intention with your fellow travelers and lend a helping hand where possible.
February 5 - 11, 2020
Hello to readers in Kingston!
There’s a crack in the world—and it’s not the Leonard Cohen crack that lets the light in, although at some point in the future, given the power of 2020 hindsight we may see it as that. But right at this particular cosmic moment of our 3D reality, no light can get in through the deep black hole of our inability to deal with what has so persistently and perniciously divided us—a darkness that has increased anxiety levels almost everywhere about almost everything. We are suffering from future fright; all you need do is talk with just about anyone to discover that far too many of our fellow travelers have profound concerns about the uncertainties of life, uncertainties that aren’t evaporating any time soon. This sounds dire because it is—the United States of America lost its balance this week. And because it’s been the center of global gravity—culturally, politically, and financially—for so long, its disequilibrium is a black hole in the middle of the planet; and for those attuned to the long view, it’s a black hole in the middle of our hearts.
NASA defines a black hole as a place in space where the “gravitational pull … is so intense that nothing, not even light, can escape it once inside a certain region, called the event horizon.” The center of a black hole is called the “singularity.” A singularity is “a point where extremely large amounts of matter are crushed into an infinitely small amount of space.” www.nasa.gov/black-holes, www.livescience.com/32662-whats-at-the-center-of-black-holes-.html
Hmmm… kinda like how the Senate Republicans treated all the facts about Mr. Trump and his Gang of Hungry Ghosts that were presented by the Democratic House Managers. The impeachment proceedings were an event horizon—a point of no return—and you could feel the crushing gravity of the moment pulsing through the TV screen or the radio, and the singularity of no witnesses forever altering the equilibrium of Earth. No longer is the United States of America a shining light of freedom. Parents everywhere have to find another example of what’s best in our system because the presidency is no longer a respected office. And Lt. Col. Vindman has to figure out another way to soothe his father’s concerns, because in America, the truth no longer matters to those who are responsible for upholding truth as a prime value.
Here’s the thing, though: we don’t know what happens inside a black hole. If it’s a “stellar-mass black hole…. [T]he tidal forces become too fast [to survive] … resulting in your spaghettification (yes, that’s the technical term).” www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-resources/whats-inside-a-black-hole/
Spaghettification… wow… that’s what this is—crushed by gravity. No wonder everyone is so sensitive and attuned to the wobble in the Earth’s axis this week. Even friends who have absolutely no interest in astrology checked in asking WTF was happening in the sky because everyone around them seemed to be going crazy. Spaghettification—also a new word for the power of a Saturn/Pluto conjunction when it is separating, polarization pulling everything apart.
From an astrological perspective, we are in the beginning of the United States Pluto Return, which occurs on February 20, 2022, which means for the next two years, Pluto is going to continue to surface all the things—every little thing—that needs to be transformed. (I have pre-exhaustion just thinking about it.) Pluto symbolizes death and rebirth, and if you don’t think its influence is real, just ask anyone who’s had a Pluto transit about just how difficult this journey can be, especially when we resist its unrelenting insistence that we change what no longer serves. (Spaghettification, anyone? Gluten-free, with or without cheese?) Pluto symbolizes all the things we have no control over, which is why its mantra is “only authenticity—no pretense or compromise.”
Currently, Saturn is moving into a conjunction with the position Pluto occupies in the ‘birth chart’ of the United States—it will be exact on February 23, and Saturn will move on and off of that point all year long, as it transits the last degrees of its journey through Capricorn. Saturn’s contact translates into the hard but necessary lessons that need to be learned if the United States is to transform. Will we right our ship and insure that all of us are created equal or will we succumb to our previous limitations?
What’s more, Pluto is also opposite the United States’ natal Mercury, an opposition that will persist for the rest of the year. So we best be prepared for the effect of political rhetoric on our national and personal nervous systems. But that’s not all: Pluto is also opposite Mr. Trump’s Venus/Saturn conjunction, which translates not only into hard lessons about the consequences of hard-heartedness, but also into a state of chaos from which there seems to be no escape. It’s interesting that such a man would be the designated hitter for so many lessons for the United States—he embodies all that’s wrong with our system, all the discrepancies of our government that need to be transformed if we are to be true to the original intent of our founders to be free from tyranny.
So the question is what are we going to do about it? How do we resist spaghettification? (You know I am never going to stop using that word!) What can any individual do to nullify the pernicious forces at work, forces that want to deny and subvert the value of truth? How do we resist a campaign that seeks to demoralize and dampen the spirit of those who want to move forward into a positive and inclusive future? What are the large and small steps each of us can take to maintain our insistence on social justice for all sentient beings?
For one, we can continue to do the seemingly small things in our personal lives that contribute to the current of love which most of us know to be the highest value. That is actually what social justice is: love at the collective level—treating others as we would like to be treated. When we know the value of an individual life, we know the value of all life. It sounds so simple, yet living this truth requires an applied, grounded spirituality which upholds that view in all the tiny goings-on—all the seemingly insignificant transactions—of daily life. As most of us have learned, being kind is the best way to soothe a heart, especially our own. Compassion—not permission—is the best way to soothe a volatile situation; if I can stand for just a moment in the shoes of my “enemy,” I am able to see the world through a different lens and that perspective has the power to soften the heart. So as we continue to be spaghettified in the black hole of our crumbling value systems, let’s do our best to keep our individual hearts open to each other. Lots of our fellow travelers will be tempted by violence as the black hole continues to collapse. But as I often remind myself, there are many more people who care about each other, our planet, and the healing power of compassion.
January 29 - February 4, 2020
Hello to readers in Pune!
It’s a good week to get organized, so start your sorting engines and dive into it—closets, desks and desk drawers, oil changes, software updates, holiday decorations, the piles in the garage, attic, or closet you can’t even open, and any and all other things that need attention because there have just been too many other things to do. (Whew!) There is no single astro source that indicates the need to put things in order other than the ongoing concentration in Capricorn, the Sign of systems. I’m simply thinking that organizing is the best use of the ongoing tension generated by Saturn/Pluto conjunction (part of that Capricorn aggregation) which is still separating. And as this powerful configuration pulls apart, so do the underpinnings (what’s left of them) of what was once our faith in the tried-and-true structures of life on Earth. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s not so over the top, especially if you can objectively observe what’s happening in your life and to those around you. What’s more, the gravitational force of Saturn and Pluto’s separation highlights the increasing polarization between ideologies—and it’s not just Democrats and Republicans; although after watching the impeachment proceedings, I finally have the answer to a question that’s been rattling around in my head since the Tea Party decided to serve up political anarchy with milk, sugar, and Palin. I used to wonder who Republicans rooted for when they watched Star Wars. I don’t wonder any longer—I am now certain they root for the Empire, even though it’s truly difficult to imagine McConnell or Graham as Darth Vader. But… hey… in this world anything is possible.
Another source—and a less pernicious one—of this week’s organizational therapy is Jupiter’s presence in Capricorn. Jupiter’s innately philosophical nature, as well as its reliance on humor as a tool for objectivity and context, actually lightens the load a tad, making it possible to tackle those tasks in need of attention with an easier attitude. But Jupiter’s real gift in Capricorn is its potential to provide an expansive view, a very welcome contribution amidst the intensifying Saturn/Pluto polarization. As Saturn tends toward contraction rather than expansion and Pluto intensifies Saturn’s laser focus, Jupiter gives this dynamic duo a bit of breath. So use Jupiter’s influence to take in the big picture of whatever you are struggling with because its broad bandwidth has the potential to provide clarity that can be applied to both an individual and collective perspective.
A Mars/Neptune square, exact and separating this week, is still making its presence felt. Both planets are in Mutable Signs, the peacemaking members of the Zodiac, and that influence softens the harsh edges of this fractious interaction, so the negative effect of this square manifests largely as irritation rather than aggression. As Mars and Neptune separate, we are likely to experience increased discontent with plans already set in motion that aren’t going well. You might also experience increased ennui about spending the energy and effort to put something new in motion. Try to avoid the lethargy of this square, and if you have something you want to create, get started. Mercury Retrograde begins on February 16 and that’s not the best time to start anything new.
The ongoing Venus/Neptune conjunction in Pisces is also separating this week, so kiss the emphasis on romantic fantasy goodbye and say hello to a less gentle touch. The longing for romance is never going to disappear, but as the power of this conjunction fades away, the tendency toward infatuation is likely to take a back seat to reality.
As the world continues to wobble on its axis, managing the routines of daily life continues to be challenging—it’s not easy establishing and maintaining sanity in the midst of so much turmoil. The question of “how do I participate in a world that’s gone mad?” is one we all have to face every day. So take advantage of this week’s opportunity to put things in order. There is no guarantee that they will stay that way, but simply attempting this process will facilitate a feeling of being grounded in the mundane rather than being adrift in the continuing tides of upheaval. And as always, try to help your fellow travelers find their way. Compassion is truly the key to our mutual survival.
January 22 - 28, 2020
Hello to readers in Arusha!
I know it’s only the third week in January, but it feels like the first week of March. This year is already so jam-packed with situations, revelations, and developments, individual and collective, that I can’t really wrap my head around the reality that it’s only week three of 2020. Of course, the source of this time warp has everything to do with the separating Saturn/Pluto conjunction—these two planets are barely a degree apart, yet the combined force of their astral divorce is dismantling a plethora of circumstances, personal and political. As anyone who lives with this conjunction in their natal charts can tell you, the pressure generated by Saturn and Pluto in such close proximity is usually experienced as dynamic and dramatic impulses to break free from burdensome responsibilities. The first brunt of this current separation intensity is with us at least until mid-March, so take a deep breath and keep putting one foot in front of the other—it’s going to be a long few months.
The best and worst effect of the current Saturn/Pluto conjunction is the exposed underbelly of all areas of life, both individual and collective, in need of deep healing; no superficial, spiritual quick-fixes are going to solve our problems. It’s the best effect because all that toxicity can no longer remain hidden. And it’s the worst because detoxing is going to take a gargantuan effort over a prolonged period of time. We are talking about repairing the damage that’s been exposed under the influence of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, as well as how long it’s going to take to implement the requisite healing remedies. For some, this process is likely to be about how to make ends meet in a world of supposed opportunity when those opportunities seem to disappear daily. For others, it’s about recognizing what’s most important and then living in accordance with those values. This conjunction is in Capricorn, after all, which means the underlying lesson is about survival motivated by pragmatism—getting down to the bones of things and figuring out how to make it through, but all the while never allowing the ends to justify the means. We’ve been living the consequences of that credo for far too long; it’s time to acknowledge that the means create the ends. If we want a better world, we have to live better lives.
On both a personal and political plane, Saturn/Pluto has exposed secrets—too many to ignore—and the weight of those secrets has tilted the axis of daily life, again, both individual and collective, in an entirely new direction. From the exposure of family skeletons to the recognition of rampant racism to sexual predation to Brexit to the impeachment trial to renewed Russian election interference to the extinction of entire species to the loss of a billion creatures in the fires of Australia to children still in cages, we are grappling with how to handle what we can no longer deny because none of it can be swept back under the carpet. It’s a mess. It’s our mess—every one of us living on planet Earth. We haven’t found solutions—and we must.
The question, as always, is what each of us is going to do about this mess. I’m not suggesting wielding the idea of personal responsibility as a weapon with which to blame those who are without agency or otherwise incapable of taking action. What I am advocating is the recognition that each of us plays a role in healing this mess because by our participation in this potent transformational process we are co-creating the outcome. Most of us want the world to be a better place for all sentient beings, and the best way we can contribute to that outcome is by turning compassion into action. That doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to injustice, nor does it mean staying silent in the face of cruelty; it means having the patience to identify the causal level of a negative situation so that a remedy that both relieves the symptoms and treats the cause can be found.
Interestingly, during this week in the midst of the harsh voice of Saturn/Pluto, we are also under the influence of a Venus/Neptune conjunction in Pisces, a much softer voice and one that can foster empathy. This conjunction signifies the power of dreaming, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself wishing and hoping for solutions rather than doing the hard work of implementing your ideals. This conjunction amplifies imagination, feeds a love of beauty, and it can also intensify erotic fantasies. Given our current reality, it might be easier to dream or fantasize than to stay present.
By the end of this week, it will be time to prepare for the first Mercury Retrograde of 2020, which begins on February 16 and lasts until March 9. Most of us know about the pitfalls of Mercury Retrograde, but for those who don’t, it’s all about communication and travel snafus. So back up your computers now and make those travel arrangements if you can; there’s no need to wait until it’s too late.
As the coming weeks unfold, it might be wise to contemplate how you can make a difference in the world or continue to make a difference. One day at a time and one heart at a time, we can make the world a better place for all.
January 15 - 21, 2020
Hello to readers in Aberdeen!
The Saturn/Pluto conjunction continues; with the two planets only cosmic seconds apart, we are still in the grip of its power and will be for quite some time. The separation period is, perhaps, the most potent concentration of the conjunction’s intensity, so while we’ve been experiencing the sheer brute force of this signature since March 2019, and while it’s difficult to imagine anything more disturbing than the events of these last many months, it would be wise to remain cautious about what lies ahead. The polarized perspective of this Saturn/Pluto conjunction brought too many of us to the brink of disaster too many times —and we are still there. These coming weeks and months are the most crucial period of Saturn/Pluto, for as they pull apart and the tension releases, it’s possible to see the consequences of what’s been set in motion—and what gets set in motion under this influence stays in motion for a long, long time.
This week, we are also under the influence of a Mercury/Uranus square, which begins today and is exact and separating on January 18. Mercury begins this square in Capricorn but enters Aquarius on January 16, and because Mercury is fleet of foot, its square to Uranus is over by the wee hours of the morning (EST) on January 21. Any and all Mercury/Uranus contacts, negative or positive, are about innovative thinking, something we can use all the time but especially right now, at the beginning of this year when there are so many areas of life, individual and collective, that can use a fresh perspective or a new angle. So rather than reject an idea or proposed solution or remedy because it seems too outlandish or outrageous, think about it for more than a moment—maybe all that’s needed is a tweak to make it a viable alternative for what ails.
A Venus/Uranus sextile is in effect for the next five days and that flirtatious combination stirs a need for romance, offering a welcome distraction that could soften the energy of the Saturn/Pluto effect. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself seeking the comfort of a romantic liaison. There’s nothing like infatuation to feed the heart and lift the spirit.
Also by Monday, January 20, Mars in Sagittarius moves into a square with Neptune in Pisces. Irritation is the overall effect of this square, mostly because Mars desires action and Neptune wants contemplation. With both planets in Mutable Signs, it’s easy for them to cancel out the edges of their urges, which is why despite its hard angle this isn’t a particularly bellicose interaction, so you probably won’t have to wear your armor even if some people are lashing out. That being said, this fractious interaction could stir a sense of victimization, which means you can expect lots of people to be whiny beyond belief—so don’t put away your deflector shield just yet. The best solution for this square would be groan therapy—you know… just stand alone or with a group of fellow travelers and groan out loud. If it helps to get you in the mood, put your hands over your ears and roll your head from side to side. It’s not quite got the benefits of group chanting, but it could move the energy, provide a good giggle, and help you not to feel too alone.
As the week unfolds, its days and nights could deliver a few more startling Uranian plot twists—Uranus Direct began on Friday and it is just gathering forward momentum, which makes surprises likely. So do whatever it is you do to maintain a healthy balance and a grounded attitude, even in the midst of disturbing or disruptive developments.
It won’t be easy handling the separation of Saturn/Pluto. New readers—and I am pleased to say there are many—who would like more details on this uber difficult configuration can search the column archives for the particulars. This week, the thing to keep in mind is that Saturn symbolizes pragmatic wisdom—wisdom born of experience—and Pluto symbolizes transformative wisdom—wisdom that accepts the inevitability of change. Think about how you hold those two streams of awareness. We are all being asked to create consilience—the unity of knowledge—through our combined recognition of not only of what needs to shift but also of what needs to be created so we can manage our planet with better skill. I know I don’t have to say it, but I am going to say it anyway: make compassion part of your co-creative vision. We are far more unified than we know, so let’s imagine living with unity as our ground of being.
January 8 - 14, 2020
Hello to readers in Washington, D.C.
There is so much going on this week that I hardly know where to begin—and I’m not sure there’s room for humor. I know I tend to err on the side of super serious, but frankly, what we’re in and what lies ahead is uber serious. So put on your thinking caps and be sure to attach the extraterrestrial antennae. You’re also going to need a map to track the multidimensional planetary patterns, one you can notate with color markers—it will be easier to identify certain patterns if you do. This is a pivotal week, especially when it comes to what gets set in motion, so brush up on your understanding of instant karma and how consequences are dependent upon intentions because even though we’ve been anticipating the intensity of this week for quite sometime, the future is now, and the sky is on fire:
(1) On Friday, January 10, at 2:10 PM, EST, there is a lunar eclipse at 20°00' Cancer, a degree that Pluto activated during February-March and June-July 2018, and again in mid-December 2018 through mid-January 2019. Events from those times are sure to play a large role in political and personal passion plays. Remember, the shadow of an eclipse effect extends six weeks prior to and after the actual event, which means you may already be dealing with the consequences of what was set in motion during that time or you may be about to deal with those ramifications.
Also be aware that this lunar eclipse occurs opposite Mercury, which is exactly conjunct the Sun at the time of the eclipse. During a lunar eclipse, the Sun overshadows the Moon, which means practical, tangible matters override emotional concerns. But because this eclipse happens in Cancer, the Sign of deep feelings, don’t expect it will be all that easy to brush aside the Moon’s influence. Even the presence of Mercury, intellectual gatekeeper of the astro world, won’t help maintain mental clarity—logic will succumb to intuition because there’s just too many feelings to compartmentalize and handle. Think Spock’s internal struggle and then imagine his mother wins the debate.
(2) Also on Friday, January 10, at 8:48 PM, EST, Uranus goes direct. This is a huge contributing factor to the inability of that Capricorn Sun to remand feelings to the shadows. It’s not that Uranus plays a role during the eclipse—it is actually unaspected during that event. But—and this is a big but—when Uranus “changes” direction, the ethers shudder and so do human nervous systems; those tremors often translate into fluttering hearts, even if those hearts are already fortified. Anticipate stronger than average palpitations. Also expect all sorts of anxiety disorders to be at an all-time high this week and next—and that’s without the threat of violent reprisals for the murder of General Soleimani.
(3) On Sunday, January 12, at 11:59 AM, the Saturn/Pluto conjunction is exact and separating. This is the configuration we’ve been building toward for the last year. It’s the last Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn until 2754; the previous one occurred in 1518. Needless to say, this is a rare astral event and from the havoc around us, we can see that it is also a powerful event. We will be dealing with the consequences of this conjunction for quite some time.
Those born with this aspect in their natal charts are sure to be feeling the intensity of the conjunction most keenly. That intensity is most commonly felt as an internal resistive force that wants to preserve the status quo but feels assaulted by an inexorable determination to transform. Saturn is the desire to hold onto current reality and Pluto is the compulsive force that wants to shift into something new, something more authentic.
The last time we were under this influence was 1982, when the conjunction occurred in Libra, the Sign of relationship. People with this conjunction in their charts have wrestled, are wrestling, and will continue to wrestle with how to participate in relationships with significant others without relinquishing one’s self so that the other may flourish. This is not a new issue, but our fellow travelers born with a Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Libra may currently be experiencing an intensification of this issue.
Folks born in 1947–48, when the conjunction happened in Leo, the Sign of self-expression, could be feeling frustrated with their inability to creatively channel the uncertainties and confusion of our current global moment. Leo is a Fixed Sign, which makes dealing with change challenging; that generation is used to being effective politically and the politics of the moment may be too much for them to process—even those born without Saturn/Pluto are having a hard time. Also remember that Israel was established under this conjunction, and India and Pakistan were made into two discrete countries, mirroring an extreme polarization that is also a signature of Saturn/Pluto, which means we can expect increased tension and stress in these areas of the world.
On June 28, 1914, just prior to the first of three exact Saturn/Pluto conjunctions in Cancer that spanned 1914–15, Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated; his assassination was the beginning of World War I.
The assassination of General Soleimani is not an exact replication of the assassination of the Archduke and I am not suggesting that we are at the start of World War III—although some think we might be. I am simply pointing out that the planets indicate patterns and it’s important to recognize those patterns and learn from history. It would be wise to not underestimate the danger we are in.
The Saturn/Pluto opposition of 2001–02—the astral signature of 9/11—put the Iraq war in motion. While it was a specious claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, we went to war anyway; certainly that war led to the mass destruction of too many lives and continues to take too many lives, and its violence seems never to be over. Now, under the influence of this next Saturn/Pluto cycle, that war seems to be starting again. No one wants a war except an impeached president who Putin has used to dismantle America as a superpower from the inside out.
2020 is also a year of several long, backward glances through a series of retrogrades, some overlapping and all annoying. Mercury is retrograde three times: (1) February 16 through March 9; (2) June 18 through July 12; and (3) October 13 through November 3. Yes… Mercury goes direct on election day. Venus is also retrograde from May 13 through June 25. But the most significant retrograde of the year is Mars Retrograde, in Aries, September 9 through November 13—and yes, again, through election day. But wait, there’s more: Mars spends six months in Aries—six months, stirring the warrior spirit in everyone, everywhere—from June 27 through January 6, 2021.
You don’t need an astrologer to point out that we are all perched on a dangerous precipice, at a dizzying height, with so much hanging in the balance that nervous systems are struggling to hold onto anything that promises to be steady and strong. But before you cling to something you might later regret or say something you can’t take back or make choices that can’t be undone, take as much time as you need to calm and soothe your heart so you can stay centered in what you know to be true for you—not transitory truth, but ultimate, big picture, in-the-long-run truth—then do your best to help others do the same.
If anything is apparent about our current global culture, it’s that almost every shadow has been exposed—we can see what lies beneath and it’s not pretty. Nevertheless, the remedies for those shadows have also taken hold in a variety of forms, from cutting-edge psychological practices to an army of Namaste yoga spiritual warriors trying their best to live a peaceful life to mindfulness practices taught in elementary schools. We the people know how to make ourselves better.
Compassion is as contagious as cruelty, so during these difficult days do your best to spread compassion through as many acts of kindness as you can manage. If we all reach for a power beyond our own—a power as transcendent as the sky—we will learn to love enough, widely and deeply enough, to tip the balance toward healing ourselves and our planet.
January 1 - 7, 2020
Hello to readers everywhere!
Welcome to the first day of a new year and a new decade, each promising a dynamic (okay...wild) ride of personal and planetary transformation that challenges all of us to rise to the occasion of a new consciousness, capable of envisioning what needs to be done to right the course of planet Earth. It’s a daunting task that nevertheless must be accomplished if we are to make it through the shifts that lie ahead. So take a deep breath, find your center, and set your internal compass to your personal true north because all year long you will need to hold fast to what is most true so you can find your way through a multitude of shifts.
Ancient astrologers looked to the sky for messages from the gods, and if those sky watchers were alive today and had the power of telescopes, their heads would explode from the deluge of portents lighting up the 2020 night sky. From the perspective of our ancestors, who viewed the sky as alive and speaking to us all the time, 2020 is bookended by two of the most potent astral signatures possible: (1) a Saturn/Pluto conjunction on January 12, a configuration that signals a restructuring of government and other authoritative institutions that provide the backbone of collective reality; and twelve months later, (2) a Jupiter/Saturn conjunction on the winter solstice of 2020 closes the year and simultaneously signals the start of a new regime, specifically a dynasty based on the notion that ideas shape reality.
But don’t get too excited about this idealistic shift—we can’t just click our ruby shoes, use a Bluetooth mouse, swipe to the next screen, or use the TV remote to hurry into our brave new world; we have to co-create it, which requires working with each other in spite of our differences. Right at this moment in our collective turmoil that might sound like an impossible dream, but there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of small citizen initiatives all around the world that are positively affecting daily life and countering hate and greed by improving attitudes and aspirations. So do not despair as the glare of nightly news illuminates obstacles. As Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
The first week of 2020 opens with confusing impulses. At midnight on January 1, we start the calendar New Year with a Moon/Neptune conjunction in Pisces, an empathic combination that speaks the possibilities of compassion as a guiding principle for the coming year. Unfortunately, by the end of the first day of the New Year, the Moon moves into Aries, indicating strong emotional currents that are more about self-interest than altruistic intentions, and that shift in attitude is likely to manifest as aggression—hardly anyone will be all that interested in making nice with others. And as the Moon moves through Aries for the next couple of days, it forms fractious angles to the aggregation of planets in Capricorn—Mercury, Jupiter, the Sun, Saturn, and Pluto. Anticipate everyone being more than a little cranky.
Also be aware that while we’ve been experiencing this lunar activation cycle for the last several months, this is the last in the cycle; it culminates in a lunar eclipse at 20° Cancer 00' on January 10, at 2:10 PM EST. This lunar eclipse punctuates the Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn, which is exact and separating on January 12. Because eclipse effects extend before and after the actual event, you may well be experiencing the tension of next week’s eclipse this week. The Moon will oppose Saturn and it will also oppose Pluto; it will not oppose their conjunction in Capricorn again in our lifetime because there won’t be another Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn until 2754. So I would expect a fair degree of intensity.
Another momentous conjunction occurs at the end of 2020: it’s a Jupiter/Saturn conjunction at 0°00' Aquarius. The conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn occurs every twenty years; it moves through each astrological Element approximately every 200 years, and because there are four Elements in astrology—Fire, Earth, Air, and Water, it takes about 800 years for the conjunction to make a complete cycle. A change of Element indicates a shift in perspective and concerns—think of the difference between Aries and Taurus or Taurus and Gemini or Gemini and Cancer. Our ancestral astrologers believed this change in Element signaled a change in emphasis, which is probably why they deemed this Element shift a dynasty change. The last time we started a full Jupiter/Saturn cycle in the Air Element was 1226—nearly 800 years ago. For those interested in a long list of this cycle, go to Richard Nolle’s site: www.astropro.com/features/tables/geo/ju-sa/ju000sa.html
Please note that there is always a conjunction that presages the shift in Element. In this case it was 1980-81, when there were three conjunctions in Libra, an Air Sign. Then the cycle shifted back into Earth, with one last conjunction in the Earth cycle in May 2000, in Taurus. Now we are entering an Air cycle that will continue until 2219.
So 2020 can be seen as a year of great transition, where Earth Element concerns clash with Air Element concerns. Earth is the tangible world; Air is the intangible world—the world of ideas, ideologies, ideals, and idealism. Some will call it the beginning of the Aquarian Age (Oy…I may have to change the name of the column), when the utopian principles of Aquarius and its egalitarian aspirations clash with the Capricornian voice of reality, a voice that wants to get real and keep it that way. But these days, it’s hard to know what’s real. Again, this is the year we make choices about what reality we are going to embrace—fact or fiction, contraction or expansion, cruelty or compassion?
2020 opens with the harsh reality of the Saturn/Pluto conjunction in Capricorn, the Sign that gets down to the bones of things and doesn’t back off until the superfluous is deemed unessential. Pluto’s journey through Capricorn, which began in 2008, continues to challenge all sorts of systems previously taken for granted, individual and collective, but none more important than the political and financial structures that are the backbone—the skeletal structure—of how the world works. When Saturn entered Capricorn in 2017, it amplified Pluto’s journey, and as Saturn moved into its conjunction with Pluto, we have been living with the combined effect: a daily reality that is divisive, polarizing, and aggressive, as the status quo struggles against the inevitable forces of change.
One more thing: Uranus goes direct on January 10, about six hours after the lunar eclipse, which means that these next days are likely to resemble Mercury Retrograde, especially when it comes to technology snafus. So keep your patience pills handy—you’ll need them to manage any techno-breakdowns. Also do whatever it is you do to soothe and calm your nervous system. Whenever Uranus “changes” direction, it feels like a speed bump in the ethers and nervous systems often struggle and strain to keep up with the current. That being said, start your new year off with a resolution to be kind to your fellow travelers of every ilk. We all need the comfort of kindness right now, even and maybe especially those who think they are immune to the great forces influencing daily life.