When you read something like “Leo is magnanimous and outgoing,” your mind may immediately object that your August-born aunt is, in fact, shy and retiring. This is where the astrological skeptic proclaims victory and changes the subject. But allow me to gently reintroduce the topic, with the explanation that although your aunt was born when the Sun was in Leo, she has an entire birth chart full of planets and placements and aspects that may contradict or mitigate the Leo archetype.
Think of it this way. In the world of film, there are various familiar stereotypes that allow you to grasp the essence of a character without a lot of time-consuming flashbacks or exposition. You know them as the wise-cracking best friend, the crusading cop, or the plucky career gal with the disappointing love life. But the best and most memorable films have a habit of elevating these tired stereotypes to archetypal status, representing something true and universal in the collective unconscious. The star-crossed lovers from opposite ends of the tracks are a stereotype. Positioned in an important historical context, however – such as Rose and Jack on the Titanic, or Scarlett and Rhett during the Civil War – and their relationship may take on archetypal importance, representing the human impact of these historic events.
Signs are not people—they’re characters, archetypes. Placing different planets, like different actors, in a particular sign gives the archetype a different flavor. Signs can be thought of as a costume to be worn. Place Venus, the planet of love and also of attractive young women, in Virgo, a sign of modesty and practicality, and your film character looks a bit like a lovely and slightly shy secretary. Cast Mars, the planet of war, in analytical Virgo, and your character might be a studious young war reporter during World War II.
As a writer, I’ve worked with my share of editors. I’ve appreciated every one of them. A couple of them, I’ve downright loved.
The editors I’ve loved working with have had something important in common. Their focus was on what was right with my work, instead of what was wrong with it. Eventually we got around to refining the disjointed thoughts and cleaning up the sentences that occasionally trailed off without any ending at all. In this, they were every bit as exacting as their job required. But the process began with their enthusiasm for the best of my writing, followed by coaching designed to help me bring the rest of it up to the same level.
All this is soothing for the writer’s ego, of course. But there’s also a practical lesson in there for any of us who find ourselves in a position of critiquing others, as parents, bosses, coaches, or even friends: most of the time, high standards combined with encouragement inspires better results than criticism alone.
The Full Moon in Virgo is a good time to meditate on one of the keywords commonly associated with Virgo: criticism. Virgo’s criticism is a consequence of two other keyword qualities, discrimination and discernment. Like its opposite sign, Pisces, Virgo is idealistic, embracing dreams of perfection—but Virgo can be a bit pessimistic about the capacity of mere mortals to live up to these ideals.
While Pisces is blessed with the ability to overlook imperfection, Virgo is tasked with seeing each failing that stands between us and the vision. Sometimes, it must be said, Virgo indulges in negative criticism; the world is full of faults and mediocrity, and Virgo’s inability to ignore these things can turn her into a cranky scold. But sometimes, Virgo criticizes because she is enraptured by a vision of greatness that lies only a few punctuation marks away.(more…)
Nothing makes an astrologer sadder than hearing you say, “Oh, I hate [insert sign here].” One of the favorite arguments against astrology is, “There is no way that everyone in the world can fall into twelve neat categories,” and you’ll get no argument from me. Gross generalizations about the signs of the zodiac are, to me, as baffling as declaring you hate vegetables just because you’ve eaten a couple of overcooked Brussels sprouts over the years.
The fact is, each of us contains every sign of the zodiac in our birth chart. The horoscope is a representation of the entire sky at the time of your birth. Every constellation along the ecliptic, whether it was visible or not from the place of your birth, is fully represented in the twelve houses of your birth chart. So declaring war on any sign of the zodiac is tantamount to disowning part of yourself.
You have the opportunity to experience each sign of the zodiac in your own life. If Leo falls in the sixth house of your chart, for instance, you get to “be a Leo” in sixth house areas of your life (at work, for instance). As each planet moves through a sign, it activates that archetype somewhere in your life. Some, such as the signs of the Sun, Moon, and Ascendant (cusp of the first house) at your birth may speak through you more strongly than others. But all twelve signs are part of your birth chart, and relevant to your life.
Don’t disown or disparage any sign based on past experience. If you’ve had a number of bad experiences with people born with the Sun in a particular sign, you may decide you “just can’t get along” with people of that sign. But who knows how many people with that sign strong in their charts that you’ve met without knowing it, most of whom you probably got along with splendidly? Signs are not people—and all of them are a part of you. (more…)
The Moon is especially strong in Taurus, and I like the sign a lot. But I haven’t particularly enjoyed having my Progressed Moon here, and I’m looking forward to the greener pastures of Gemini and my 7th house, where my natal Moon has enjoyed itself for years.
The Progressed Moon in the sign behind your natal Moon sign is more or less a Balsmic Moon time. Letting go of habits and reviewing patterns that aren’t working for you, spending time in contemplation, catching up on your rest… these are Balsamic Moon activities.
But put the Progressed Moon in the diligent, here-and-now, hard-working 6th house, and it has a very hard time sitting back and contemplating its navel.
Where is your progressed Moon? If you’ve never worked with secondary progressions, this is a good place to start. Here’s a video I put together awhile back to help you find your Progressed Moon, and some thoughts about what to do with it.
Transiting Venus and Mars entered Aries last week, and over the past couple of days they made trines to Saturn in Sagittarius. Normally a deliberate and focused worker (with no Aries planets in my birth chart), I’ve had a devil of a time settling down and getting anything done. About all I’ve got to show for my flailing efforts is a stack of printouts, notebooks, and folders, the detritus of a half-dozen projects, taking over one side of my desk.
In my frenzy of Aries enthusiasm, I’ve jumped from idea to idea over the past week, tossing each one aside when it proved too difficult. And while Saturn is normally helpful when it comes to sticking with things, in Sagittarius he’s looser than usual. “Keep those arrows flying!” I heard him mumble. “A couple of them are bound to hit their targets!”
I want to do everything, I want to do it now, and if it takes any longer than 20 minutes it’s getting shoved in the pile just to my left.
I may have no Aries planets in my birth chart, but I’ve got a strong Mars, and I always figured that made me a kind of honorary Aries. But the energy is completely different. My Mars is in Virgo, in the 10th house, trine Saturn; it has energy, but there is none of the jangling, high-octane impatience and restlessness of Aries. It is a horse that is comfortable wearing a saddle.
An Aquarian client with a Pisces Moon describes her current situation as living in limbo, poised between two radically different lives, with one foot in each and an ass that’s still very much on the fence. She’s drawn to a new life, but committing to it means losing everything she has; remaining in the old one makes every kind of sense intellectually, but is emotionally untenable. There is little point trying to offer advice to someone in such a situation. It would be like telling a mouse that it needs to make a decision about whether to leave its trap.
This New Moon falls at the dying gasp of Aquarius’ very last degree, just one minute before the Moon enters Pisces and three minutes before the Sun enters Pisces. I’m on record as disliking the idea of “being on the cusp” between two signs. Usually, it is a concept boasted by someone who was born on the day the Sun changes signs, has not had his or her chart properly calculated, and takes it as an opportunity to plant a flag in both signs. I’ve always insisted that it doesn’t work that way; you are one thing or another, and you don’t get to be both. This cusp business has always struck me as a bit greedy, somehow.
But if ever something could claim to be “on the cusp” between two signs, it’s this New Moon. Like my client, it is a New Moon that is living on the cusp between Aquarian and Pisces experiences, and insists on laying claim to both worlds. It is a New Moon that is neither (Pisces) fish nor fowl, and a little bit greedy – for something new, for freedom, or simply for an end to a difficult situation.
Technically, it’s a New Moon in Aquarius, a sign as fixed and stubborn as they come, and perhaps you’re living a life that is technically much the same as it’s been for ages. But it’s a New Moon with one foot, or maybe two, wiggling their toes in Pisces’ waters. You might find yourself wondering what it would be like to grab for two lives with both hands, instead of settling for just one. Wondering whether you could pull it off, get away with it. (more…)
I began my life as a musician at the age of 12, singing with my cousin. I was a shy little Leo; she was a slightly older, brash and unafraid one, with a full-throttled voice. It felt natural to let her take the lead, while I mastered harmony. Harmonizing came so naturally that it never occurred to me to wonder why I felt so much more comfortable singing counterpoint to someone else’s melody.
Soon enough, my cousin lost interest in performing. She didn’t need a stage; her personality and charisma were so big that she commanded attention simply by walking in a room. She would never be a harmony singer, drifting through life as a satellite, reflecting another’s light. But my Leo self was undernourished, so I kept performing. Unsure that I had any light of my own inside me, I needed lights upon me in order to be sure I existed at all.(more…)
Grammar purist that I am, I never thought I’d see the day when I would use “friend” as a verb. Then Facebook came into my life.
The downside of social media is not insignificant. But the beauty of Facebook and similar sites is that they bring your entire social network together in one place. “Friend” someone and you can automatically follow the minutia of their daily lives without actually having to drop them an email or pick up the phone. It’s pretty great, because while you may not have enough in common with someone from third grade to justify an ongoing email correspondence, you may still be interested in following their links to funny videos or to download their favorite cheesecake recipe.
On the other hand… sometimes there is a reason you fell out of touch with these people in the first place. Their status updates, including tidbits about “liking” a politician, celebrity, or cause that you abhor, can quickly bring home to you why you are no longer friends in the 3-D world.
But that’s okay. Social networking sites are not about deep, personal friendships. They’re not even really about friends, in the strictest sense of the word. Rather, they’re about belonging, and being part of a community. In the same way you don’t have to know or like everyone at a party in order to have a good time (personally, I just need Chex Mix and white wine), you don’t have to be close to all of your Facebook “friends” to get a lot out of the experience. (more…)
I’m not a sound sleeper. The question each night is not whether I’ll wake up, but whether I’ll be able to get back to sleep once I do. Some restless nights my eyes open and my mind immediately begins flitting from topic to topic like a fickle honeybee. I think about getting older, and about the unsettling physical changes than come with age. But it’s not just the physical signs of aging that are unnerving. You reach a certain age and realize that just as you’re beginning to perfect your swing, it’s time to get out of the way and let the next generation have its turn at bat. And you’re apt to feel the slightest bit disheartened about how few points you’ve put up on the scoreboard.
Last night, I also found myself thinking about an elderly neighbor who for years made daily treks past our house on her way to and from the bus stop. Margaret lived alone in a nice looking old Spanish-style bungalow at the end of our block. I hardly knew her at all, really, until my husband and I happened to witness an accident in which a backing car knocked Margaret down. We called 911 and stayed with her until paramedics arrived; fortunately she suffered only some scrapes and a broken wrist.
I chatted with her when we happened to meet, but it wasn’t until I noticed a dumpster parked in Margaret’s driveway that I realized I hadn’t seen her in awhile. I don’t know what’s become of her, and I wonder how many people do; I never saw visitors at her house, nor the lively comings and goings of friends or family.
Many women I know admit to “bag lady” fantasies, fears of being left alone and impoverished in old age, of simply dropping out of sight without being missed. Margaret awakened that fear in me – the fear not of impoverishment, so much, but of aloneness. For some reason, the same aloneness that can be so delicious when we’re young and strong becomes dreadful to contemplate for our old age. (more…)
On a recent morning, I woke up exhausted and filled with dread. Worrying about some new organizational duties, reluctantly assumed, had cost me sleep. Even while I was still burrowed under the blankets, a desk full of work arose before my eyes, more than I could conceivably finish on schedule. Meanwhile, a project that had been hanging over my head for weeks was now leaning, hard, on my conscience. It didn’t feel like the right fit for me, but I was afraid to turn it down for fear of burning bridges to future opportunities.
Wearily, I finished my coffee, wandered into my office, and immediately faced a huge stack of subscriber orders for customized Saturn reports, at least as many as I’d already written over the past couple of weeks.
And just like that, I had an epiphany. The many, many words of advice I’d written about the planet of authority and personal accountability finally penetrated my thick skull. “Saturn will cross my Ascendant in a few weeks,” I thought, “and if I keep living the life that’s offered to me instead of choosing the one I want, I have no one but myself to blame if I’m unhappy.”
I squared my shoulders and fired up my computer. By lunchtime, I’d extracted myself from the Project of Damocles, devised an approach to manage my new organizational responsibilities, and knocked out a report. That afternoon, I even took a nap.
Endings and beginnings are kissing cousins by nature, but at this particular New Moon they’re especially intimate. Saturn is nearing the end of its long, dark sojourn through Scorpio, where it’s traveled since October 2012. As it enters Sagittarius (December 23), there are sure to be new and difficult lessons – but at this point, many of us would prefer just about anything to the challenges we’ve been facing for the past couple of years. This New Moon, exact within hours after the Winter Solstice and Uranus stationing direct, is in Saturn’s own sign, Capricorn. As one door closes (Saturn at the last degree of Scorpio), another one is opening, symbolized by the New Moon at 0 degrees.(more…)