A friend sent me a stunning photograph from her boyfriend’s summertime expedition in the northernmost reaches of the Pacific—floating on a ship amidst a sea of ice floes “as thick as I am tall,” he wrote, for endless summer days that never turn into night that far north.
Viewing it from San Diego, where delayed summer has given way to warm, sticky, exhaustion, I found it a singularly restful image. In North American July, nothing feels quite as good as an air-conditioned room, tastes as delicious as an icy drink, or looks as inviting as a polar landscape.
It’s the season of the Lion, the sweltering, prideful season of those who look good in a bathing suit…and the rest of us. Leo won’t tell you this, and probably won’t admit it if you ask, but we’re an insecure bunch, forever seeking our true selves in the approving eyes of others. That insecurity either comes from, or perhaps motivates our creative drive; it’s probably a bit of both. The need to express yourself and to offer up your thoughts and feelings for the judgment of an audience can make you feel as jumpy as the proverbial cat on a hot tin roof.
Trust me. I’m a Leo who writes for a living.
It helps to have some Aquarius planets in your chart, or Aquarius relatives and friends, or even the Full Moon in Aquarius to rescue you from the tiring quest for the spotlight. Aquarius trusts humanity and leads us effortlessly, like a confident dance instructor, into happy communion with others. Traditionally ruled by Saturn, our cool and contained Aquarian selves are blessed with strong interpersonal boundaries that allow us to immerse ourselves in the human experience, comfortable in the knowledge that, should the walls start closing in, we can simply chip off our own floe and drift out to sea. (more…)
Inspired by Marie Kondo’s bestselling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, I’ve spent part of every day for the past month getting rid of unwanted things. I’ve already donated three huge bags of clothing discards, three boxes of books, and a box of CDs and DVDs to the library and my favorite charity, and I haven’t even started in the kitchen.
At this month’s New Moon in Cancer, the Sun and Moon are in aspect to both Uranus and Pluto, the epic gods of change. Uranus is the gleeful god which, once unleashed, can get carried away with tossing aside almost anything. But Pluto demands deep, thorough, and lasting transformation, and Kondo’s approach to household organization has the ring of Pluto depth and ruthlessness about it. Decisions about which things to keep is based on the answer to a single question: “Does this spark joy?” It sounds like an odd approach, and I rolled my eyes a bit… before I tried it, and found it surprisingly effective. There really is something marvelous about feeling that I could open my closet, my drawers, and my bookshelves and, even if blindfolded, choose an item I’d be pleased to wear or read.
If you decide at this New Moon to spend quality time with your house (and since Cancer rules the home, you probably will), it is likely to be Uranian freedom from possessions that you seek, but unpleasant Pluto tasks you will feel compelled to tackle – the ones you’ve been putting off for months, even years, because you just couldn’t face them, because they’re dirty, or exhausting, or overwhelming. What will you let go of? (more…)
Usually, aspects between planets occur when they are in particular signs of the zodiac. Squares to your Saturn in Aries, for instance, will usually involve planets in Cancer or Capricorn.
However, sometimes planets can be in aspect to each other even when they are in the “wrong” signs. It has to do with aspect orbs, the amount of “wiggle room” you allow between two planets that are close to, but not quite in exact aspect to each other.
For instance, say the Moon in your birth chart is at 28 degrees Aquarius, and Mars is at 2 degrees Gemini. If you glanced at this and simply noted the signs involved, you’d say, “Great, a nice trine between the Moon and Mars!”
But look more closely. 28 Aquarius is just two degrees away from being in Pisces, and thus only four degrees away from 2 Pisces – which forms an exact square (90 degrees) to Mars at 2 Gemini. Nearly all astrologers would consider an orb of four degrees to fall into the acceptable range for a square aspect.
These “out-of-sign” aspects are called dissociate aspects. They can take a little practice to find, but if you begin by keeping your eye on relationships between planets that are at the very beginning or very end of their signs, you’ll find most of them.
Most modern astrologers make some use of secondary progressions. What are they? How are they useful? Should you use them?
Secondary progressions are a theoretical way of moving your birth chart forward to reflect your growth, maturity, and yes, progress. Here’s why they’re useful and you should use them.
Working with transits is great. Transits are more external in nature than progressions; they describe events outside you, some of which have a very dramatic impact on the course of your life. But how you react to and are affected by a transit is more likely to be seen in the secondary progressions.
For example, let’s say a family member dies. You may see this reflected in a variety of hard planetary transits. But invariably, each family member responds in a slightly different way. The one with his progressed Moon conjunct natal Uranus on that day is being asked to adjust emotionally to the fact that life can change in an instant. The one with progressed Sun square natal Pluto is being asked to step up and be the hero, to shepherd everyone else through the tragedy.
It’s the rare person who really changes much, at a core level. We all do change a little – but it’s not the transits we face that tell that story. It’s the secondary progressions that demonstrate whether or not we are evolving, reaching for our full potential, and making real progress.
I pick up the phone to hear my sister’s voice in mid-reminiscence: “Hey, you know what I remembered today?”
“Remember when we used to go to pick mom up from work, and we’d be sitting in the car waiting…and finally she’d come out, and as she was walking towards us, one of us would say, ‘That’s my mom!’ And the other one would say, ‘Hey – that’s my mom too!’ And then we’d look at each other and go -“
Here I pick up the thread of the storyline, and together we utter a single, dramatic gasp, pretending to be soap opera characters who have suddenly realized they are long-lost sisters. “Duh duh DUH!” we cry, mimicking soap opera “moment of truth” music, and giggle helplessly.
With my sister I’m always a kid, even though we’re in our mid-50s, pushing the outer edges of middle age. For instance, she called this morning to give me an update about my nephew’s upcoming wedding. My nephew is marvelous, and I just about burst with pride every time I look at him – but like most rattled oldsters who are continually stunned by the most predictable of life’s transitions, I’m startled as well. Surely he’s not that old, that tall, driving a car, passing the bar, getting married!
Oh, what is it about summer that makes us look back with such aching nostalgia, to take stock of the years passing us by, register such alarm at the 6’3″ nephew, remember silly word games we once played – sometimes still play – with a sibling? In the past few days, the sun has turned fierce after weeks of “June gloom,” San Diego’s characteristic, pre-summer cloudiness. Some afternoons I hear the cheerful, music-box tune of an ice cream truck as it meanders down our street, and suddenly I’m seven years old. It’s all I can do to keep from chasing after him for a sidewalk sundae. These are sweet memories; why does it make me a little sad to remember them? (more…)
When you’re young, everything that happens is new. There’s no telling which joys, triumphs, tragedies, or heartbreaks are random events, and which are the first installments in storylines that will play out across your lifetime. As a child, even into your teens and your twenties, you’re still figuring out what your stories are.
Gemini and its ruling planet, Mercury, are astrology’s storytellers, delineators of your life’s narrative arc. Enter your thirties, and you begin to recognize recurring plotlines—the sorts of people who capture your heart, and how those relationships typically end; the habits that are maddeningly hard to break; your distinctive pattern of achievement and failure. In your forties, there is often a strong pull to escape from some of your stories. And by the time you reach your fifties, you’re more or less resigned to them, even philosophical. You’ve seen examples of most of what will tend to happen to you, and it can get a little boring to watch more of it play out—but sort of comforting, too.
We tell ourselves stories about who we are, and after four or five decades, sometimes we just want a new story. I’ve wondered what it must like to be someone like Mick Jagger (not that there is anyone quite like Mick Jagger, of course, but you know what I mean), who has been playing Mick Jagger in public for fifty years, singing Satisfaction and leaping around the stage like a manic jack in the box. Does he ever just get sick and tired of the whole Mick Jagger thing? (more…)
Because genetics and fate seem to share a wry sense of humor, I often find myself at uncomfortable family gatherings where I’m one of only a few liberals in a crowd of very outspoken conservatives. It’s ironic, given these are exactly the sorts of situations I’ve spent my life avoiding. I’ve got strong convictions, but I was also raised to be polite and to avoid confrontation.
I love my family; I want to enjoy the little time we get to spend together, not fritter it away on ugly debates about immigration or health care. So I spend the day making chit-chat, biting my tongue and retreating to the patio whenever I felt my blood pressure starting to rise. At the end of the day, everyone is still on speaking terms–and I am exhausted.
After so many years, we all know the rules—what we can talk about and what we can’t. As long as we stay on neutral ground, we can maintain warm relations. Sometimes, we’re even able to wiggle our toes in deeper waters, carefully broaching the subject of our differences, and even laughing about the hard-headedness that we share in common.
But generally, it tends to be a fairly Gemini kind of relationship that results from this kind of compromise. Light and shallow, full of reminiscences and shared old jokes. Not that I particularly mind; I was born with the Moon in Gemini, and truth be told, I prefer to keep things on this kind of level most of the time. Light. Entertaining. Witty. Always moving. Loving, for sure, but not too intimate.
But at this Full Moon in Sagittarius, the sign of deep convictions noisily expressed, I find myself wondering about all the parts of myself that have to be sacrificed in order to keep my Gemini Moon feeling safe, over in the shallow end of the pool. Born with Sagittarius rising and a full ninth house, I am as much a Sagittarius at heart as I am a Leo Sun or a Gemini Moon. What I believe about this world and the next is as big a part of my life as my family’s beliefs are a part of theirs. And yet, I tend to think of myself not as someone who is committed to a strong spiritual center, but rather as someone who is constantly darting and weaving to avoid being ensnared by another’s strong opinions. (more…)
I bought a fancy glass bottle of pancake syrup at the supermarket. When I got home, I tried to gather up too many of the grocery bags at once instead of simply making a second trip from the car to the house. Naturally, I dropped one of the bags—and of course, it was the one that contained the bottle of syrup, which smashed, covering everything else in a fine layer of goo. A shard of broken glass tore a small hole in the bag, and as I carried it into the house, I left a trail of organic Canadian maple goodness along the sidewalk, onto the porch, and across the length of the living room and kitchen.
I yelled. I cursed. I think I probably stomped my feet. I was already in a bad mood; I’d spent the morning moping about some problems I’d had with checks that hadn’t arrived, or which had arrived and promptly been lost, and spending twice as long as I’d planned at the hair salon because I’d forgotten it was a “color” day. Now I was behind in my work, feeling broke, and would have to spend time I didn’t have on cleaning up syrup. Tallying my grievances against an uncaring universe, I stamped my feet some more, sending the cats running for cover.
Then, I spent the better part of the afternoon scrubbing maple syrup from tile and wood floors and hosing it from the sidewalk. But the next morning I hit a few residual sticky patches in the living room, and while I was still grumbling about my newly adhesive shoes, a website problem came up – just minutes before an out-of-town friend was scheduled to arrive for a visit. I was ready to sit down on the floor and have a good cry.
I’m not a sun sign Scorpio, though on the days when my Moon/Pluto square acts up you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Such emotional drama (as only a Sun sign Leo can deliver); so much throwing of crockery and swearing! I’m pretty intense to live with.
Fortunately, I married a guy with the Moon in Taurus. Taurus’ super power is the ability to diffuse tension and drama. My Taurus mother was particularly adroit at countering my tantrums and emotional firestorms with patience and humor. She liked my husband the moment she met him, perhaps sensing that here was someone to whom she could pass the torch, who could talk me down from the occasional emotional ledge without being intimidated by my … shall we say, passionate nature. (more…)
To get a general sense of how you will experience a transiting planet as it moves through its current sign, compare it to your personal planetary order.
If you list every planet, the North Node, and the Ascendant and Midheaven in degree order, and note the aspect it will receive from the transiting planet, you can see at a glance how easy or difficult this transit is likely to be for you personally.
Every transiting planet aspects these points in the same order, every time, though the aspects are different depending on its sign.
For example: Great Britain’s Prince William is a guy with a lot of planets in cardinal signs. How have transiting Uranus and Pluto in cardinal signs impacted him? Let’s take a look at Uranus in Aries. (more…)
I’d been running at full speed for eight months straight, so I took some time off. I made no plans; I’ve barely left the house. There has been a lot of napping, reading, and mindless Netflix bingeing, punctuated by an occasional burst of productivity.
After a week and a half, I began easing back into some easy, administrative tasks. But real work, something like writing this essay, is still only barely doable.
I hadn’t just been working hard—I’d let work take over my life. Without it, a lot of empty space has opened up in my days. It’s been instructive, observing what has rushed in to fill it. Crushing weariness. A certain low-level melancholy. Insecurity. Profound laziness. Snacking. Long sessions of vacant staring.
For awhile, my work has been feeling juiceless and labored. I knew why even as I worked long, grinding days, writing furiously against narrow deadlines. When you’re not living your life, you have nothing interesting to bring to your work. You’re a husk and a shell, dusty byproducts of grain that’s been harvested, soil that is depleted.
What used to fuel my creativity was time—hours of unstructured, unproductive time. I’d spend it lying on my stomach, filling notebooks with idle dreams and scribbled wishes for my future life. Some of those dreams and wishes eventually came startlingly and specifically true. All of this was long before I knew even the little I know now about magic and ritual. I thought it was all just daydreaming. I didn’t appreciate the gravitational pull of imagination. (more…)