Full Moon in Pisces: The Lilies of the Field

Posted by & filed under Full Moon, Lunar Phases, Pisces.

lily-of-the-fieldI’ve never been a napper. I’ve always been jealous of friends and family who can catch forty winks without breaking a sweat, and frustrated by my inability to rest while the Sun is out. Similar to my wariness of drugs and caution with alcohol, I have resisted the narcotic of sleep except between the socially sanctioned hours of 10 pm and 6 am. With strong Virgo planets and many hard aspects to Neptune, I’d rather remain on task, alert. My early life was so chaotic and uncertain that I suppose I grasped at structure and duty like a drowning woman pulling herself into a life raft. If I don’t fight the undertow of unconsciousness, I fear it will drag me under and drown me.

But relatively late in life, I have embraced The Nap. I suppose my sudden ability to succumb to sleep is thanks to transiting Neptune’s long passage through Pisces, a sign that has elevated napping to a fine art. I still work hard, but some days the world is so exhausting, so enervating, that I just want to escape from it for awhile. There are lots of ways to accomplish this – getting lost in a book, playing or listening to music, watching a movie; all have been favorite escapes of mine at one time or another. But lately my refuge of choice is the power nap, a 20-minute tonic for mind, body and spirit. Why, I find myself wondering, have I spent so many years resisting this restorative daily mini-vacation?

Each year when the Full Moon falls in Pisces, we’re asked to reacquaint ourselves with the value of retreat. Work, itineraries, and striving to become better, faster, and more accomplished, dominate our consciousness while the Sun moves through diligent Virgo. But as many of us know, overwork can lead us down wearying and unproductive paths. Work, order, and routine can be escapes too – from the big picture, the meaning of our lives – unless we periodically pause for reflection.

Besides, asks tolerant Pisces, do we really need to work so hard to be our best? “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow,” urged the Christ. “They neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” A point well taken, although my Virgo Mars feels compelled to point out that a lot of things don’t grow well at all unless some hard-working Virgo gardener tills the soil and keeps the weeds at bay.

The last time I napped on a regular basis was in kindergarten, when the afternoon nap was literally part of the curriculum. I’m sure this routine had its basis in the need to subdue the fatigue and resulting unruliness of growing children. Perhaps these days “naptime” has been replaced by Ritalin Hour. But in retrospect, napping really seems like a wise habit to teach kids, right up there with “time out.” I’m not especially familiar with the work of Robert Fulghum, but I note that he includes “having an afternoon nap” as one of the essential life lessons he learned from kindergarten. Once, I would have sneered at that notion. Now, I sort of think he has a point.

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the manuscript for my third book. My workdays are filled with plugging gaps, retooling awkward sentences, and trying my best to correct any lapses in logic or clarity. My tools―language, logic, and typing―are old friends, honed over decades until they fit my hand like a beautiful, well-worn glove. But though they’ve served me well, there are moments they aren’t quite the right tools for the job. Some days, the muse stubbornly refuses to show up for work. Years of writing on deadline have taught me to coax her out by simply showing up, planting myself in my chair, and stubbornly writing through droughts of inspiration. But sometimes, the only strategy that will summon the right image, example, or phrase is to simply step away for awhile.

And so, I’ve added napping to my toolbox. Several times each week I put away my brain and my clever, touch-typing fingers and I break out The Nap. For a brief, luxurious time, I let go of the past that propels me so punishingly in the present. For awhile, my imagination is freed from the constrictions of the identity I’ve created for myself. And when I awaken and my garden of lilies beckons, I somehow know exactly which are the tools that are needed for tending it―and when they simply need to be left alone, neither toiling nor spinning, simply soaking up the warm light of inspiration.

© 2009/2014 April Elliott Kent

New Moon in Virgo: The Grand Mess

Posted by & filed under Lunar Phases, New Moon, Virgo.

cool-broken-pot-flowers-gardenWhat does it mean to be healthy? Orderly? Tidy? Or – that most dreaded of Virgo adjectives – perfect?

Like just about everyone else, I’ve had the kind of life that placed perfection decidedly out of reach early on. I’ve never had a prayer of achieving anything close to the perfect figure, the perfect career, or the perfect family life. Imperfection is the human condition, it seems, but it makes me sad that I’ve so often fallen so short of my own standards. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, every so often, to be able to trade in your beat-up old life for a shiny new one as easily as upgrading your car?

Some of my imperfect life is, undeniably, my own fault – a fact my Mars, Pluto and Midheaven in Virgo never let me forget for a moment. I don’t have the right kind of personality for office work, so I probably should have finished college right after high school instead of making the decision to drop out and earn a living as a secretary. I should have found a better method of coping with my childhood traumas than self-medicating with junk food and putting myself behind the metabolic 8-ball. And no doubt I could have avoided some of the credit card debt and bad relationships that caused me so many headaches throughout my twenties.

But some of my missteps were simply the best coping techniques I could come up with at an early age, in response to events beyond my control. By the age of ten I’d lost a parent in a tragic accident, been dragged across country to live in California, seen my family’s financial status plunge to near-poverty, and was living as a latchkey kid long before it was fashionable. Despite this rocky start, I eventually improvised my way to a satisfying career, formed a happy marriage, finished college, and forged a much healthier relationship with money. (more…)

Aquarius Full Moon: Other Tribes

Posted by & filed under Aquarius, Full Moon, Lunar Phases.

other-tribesWho are “your people”? You recognize one another the moment you meet. They get your jokes. Your conversations have a cadence that is comfortable, familiar. Generally you share the same values and probably the same politics. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve known each other a few minutes or many years, you get each other.

And then there are the Uncomfortable Others to whom you’re yoked by accidents of birth (relatives, countrymen), blips on your biographical timeline (high school, past employment), or shared interests. You may share an alma mater, a birthplace, a great-grandfather, or an interest in a particular hobby, but that’s no guarantee that you are members of one another’s tribes.

Aquarius is the sign of “friends,” but not of those who are dearest to your heart. Rather, Aquarian friendships are born of shared interests – what we might call friendships of convenience. They are the co-workers who share your office lunchroom, the volunteers at your neighborhood polling place, and the members of your local astrology group. Occasionally, you will find among them members of your tribe, your people; these become your closest friends. The rest exist mostly in your Facebook newsfeed, email inbox, and high school reunions. (more…)

New Moon in Leo: Walking the Circle

Posted by & filed under Leo, Lunar Phases, New Moon, Sun.

I need to loosen up,” I told an astrologer friend recently, explaining that I’d like to play more, leave myself open to new experiences, and generally become less a slave to schedules and plans. “But I’m afraid to,” I confided, and was stunned to find myself suddenly fighting back tears. She tactfully paused, then asked, “What are you afraid of?” I couldn’t answer right away. I hadn’t really thought about it; I had simply obeyed the limitations of the fear without question. “I’m afraid of being ignored,” I finally realized, “that if I let go, I’ll disappear.”

I’m a Leo. Traditional astrology will tell you that being ignored is not a problem most Leos have to contend with, adept as we are at calling attention to ourselves. But that is not my story. I was born with the Sun in hard aspect to Neptune, the planet of obfuscation. Far from being a flamboyant Leo queen, I spent much of my childhood in a fog, afraid of everything and everybody, hiding under furniture when unexpected visitors dropped by. I had only the most tenuous Neptunian boundaries to safeguard my sense of self. It has taken conscious work for many years for me to gain confidence, and most of the time I walk around thinking I’ve done a pretty good job. The conversation with my friend, however, pointed out that that I haven’t come as far as I’d thought. (more…)

Full Moon in Capricorn: Resolutions at Midyear

Posted by & filed under Capricorn, Full Moon.

StatenIslandConference_By_Chappel

John Adams (left), in a mood.

At the Capricorn New Moon on the first day of this year, I swore I would make no resolutions beyond trying to be a kinder and better version of myself.

I lied.

Well, that’s not exactly true; I was sincere, actually. But old habits die hard, and I didn’t stick to that no-resolution resolution. I soon returned, like a swallow to Capistrano, to my calendars and planners and markers, sketching out an ambitious schedule designed to increase my market share of the planet.

Half a year later, those calendars and their neglected goals look a bit faded, have curled up a bit around their yellowing edges. They are a little bit embarrassing, like old photographs taken when you were very young and innocent and hadn’t quite filled out yet.

The Capricorn New Moon falls near the beginning of each calendar year. At midyear, the Capricorn Full Moon is its mirror image, the response to its call. It’s time to face the optimistic pages of those calendars and planners and compare them with your progress to date. There is still time to change your strategy—or even your resolutions. (more…)

New Moon in Cancer: Setting the Table

Posted by & filed under Cancer, New Moon.

nm-cancer-setting-table3My grandfather built the house himself, a smallish bungalow a few miles from the river, with a good porch and a barn across the road. It was a humble house with three tiny bedrooms and a bathroom added by dad years later, when there were two small kids and a third on the way and Mom was fed up with dragging everything around to the outhouse.

At the center was a large, eat-in kitchen, with bedrooms and living room radiating from it like the rays of the sun. Six of us ate our meals at a round, oak table that, in my memory, was huge. Mom and Dad sat at that table late into the evenings, going over the budget, chatting with uncles and aunts and grandparents. We did our homework there, and mom set the table for big, fried chicken dinners on Sunday. Dad had his morning coffee and cigarette there when he came in from the fields for breakfast; I remember crawling up on his lap, remember his blue work coveralls and his stubbled cheek, remember feeling safe. Remember sitting there, too, the morning a neighbor showed up at the back door to tell us my father was dead.

Many years later, after my mother died, my aunt finally sold that old house. I hadn’t seen it in a decade, and I never planned to live there again, but it was hard to see it go. If my husband and I hadn’t bought our first house together the year before, I’d probably have lobbied to buy it. As long as we owned that house, a place still existed where we had been a family, all of us together.

Coincidentally, it was around this time that I found myself in possession of that old kitchen table. It had gotten a bit warped over the years, and contrary to my memory it was hardly big enough to accommodate even four adults. But back then, most us were little kids and we were all family, so there felt like plenty of space. I wanted to keep that table for sentimental reasons, but our house has small rooms, too, and no space for a dining table that can’t be used for dining. Eventually I passed it back to my sister, who is probably trying to figure out what to do with it now, herself.

When you’re young, there are usually some relatives, a house, some possessions that connect you to the place where you started. If the people who raised you did a good job, there are also places inside of you that act as an internal GPS, long after those people and those places are gone.

Cancer, the sign of home and history and heritage, is your astrological GPS, the umbilical cord that connects you to the mother ship and nourishes you to viability. It’s home – the place where you started out in life, the place where you begin each day, and the people and things that have been there with you. Sometimes it’s even an old, warped table. (more…)

Summer Solstice: Slowing Down, Turning Around

Posted by & filed under Cancer, Seasonal Essays.

I pick up the phone to hear my sister’s voice in mid-reminiscence: “Hey, you know what I remembered today?”

“What?”

“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.

It was fun sharing this mini-flashback to our youth, because in a couple of months I’ll turn 44, and in January my sister will turn 46. In other words, we’re really and truly middle-aged. For instance, the reason she called this morning was to give me a report of my nephew’s SAT scores. He’ll be a high school senior in the fall – about the age his mother and I were back in our “Hey, that’s my mom too!” days. 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, graduating from high school!

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. Now, when I leave my office in the afternoon, an ice cream truck is parked in front of the playground across the street. The vendor starts up his engine, the cheesy music begins to play, and I’m immediately 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…)

Full Moon in Sagittarius: I Married An Alien

Posted by & filed under Full Moon, Lunar Phases, Sagittarius.

robobrideMy sister and I enjoy chuckling over pictures from our childhood, which invariably feature me looking up at the sky, distracted, as if awaiting the return of my mother ship. Who knows, maybe I was; born with Sagittarius, the sign of the foreigner, on the Ascendant of my chart, part of me has always felt that I was born in the wrong place, the wrong century, perhaps even in the wrong solar system.

From an early age, even my taste in men spanned multiple time zones. While my sister’s tastes in Tiger Beat magazine teen idols ran along the decidedly American lines of Bobby Sherman and Donny Osmond, I strongly preferred wispy English boys with cute accents. Years later, I spent a good deal of my twenties in a thoroughly impractical and ultimately doomed relationship with a much-older Scotsman; I suspect that his fetching brogue was responsible for 80% of my attraction.

So it came as a surprise to absolutely no one close to me when the man I eventually decided to marry turned out to be from a different country. It makes complete sense that my closest relationship is with someone whose green card thrillingly classifies him as a “Permanent Resident Alien.”

Yes…I married an alien! My husband hails not from Mars but from New Zealand, a smallish country in the South Pacific renowned for its magical scenery, abundant sheep, and Hobbits. Not that I knew anything about it when I met him—and that, of course, was a huge point in his favor. As far as I knew, he came from an entirely different world, and that was interesting to me. Fortunately, more than two decades together, it still is.

What’s a bit strange about my marriage to an alien is that, despite a Sagittarius rising sign and a lot of planets in my 9th house, there is nothing exotic about me whatsoever. I’m from Indiana, possibly the least exotic place on earth. I pretty much hang out in the kinds of places, with the sorts of people, and doing the types of stuff that would seem completely unsurprising to anyone who met me. I have visited a few foreign countries, but I’m actually not that fond of long distance travel. I am wary of unfamiliar foods and am mildly afraid of visiting a country where English is not the native tongue.

But within each of us, a stealth Sagittarian cell seeks the kind of experiences that expand the tiny parameters of our realities. It’s my Stealth Sagittarian who enjoyed sampling a couple of foreign languages in college, whose favorite film of all time is in German, and who married a guy from the other side of the world. (more…)

New Moon in Gemini: A World in Motion

Posted by & filed under Gemini, Lunar Phases, New Moon, Pisces.

newmoon-gemini-300Some people have a knack for language. Perceptive and quick, they’ve been kissed by Gemini and his Mercury ruler, knighted with the rapier of wit. Like birds or bees, they flit from person to person, situation to situation, in an eager dance of verbal cross-pollination.

Gemini’s children have a love of words that borders on the insatiable. But a way with words does not guarantee that you’ve got anything much to say. And it certainly doesn’t solve an even larger problem, which is that not everything can be communicated easily through language.

This dilemma is at the crux of the Gemini New Moon in a nearly precise square to Neptune in Pisces, the planet of dreams in the sign of the ineffable. Gemini effortlessly converts the world of ideas into language and communicates it readily, joyfully; Pisces finds language somewhat inadequate for expressing the enormity and subtlety of its feeling nature. So Gemini and Pisces generally have to struggle to understand one another; but when they find common ground, they produce beautiful prose, poetry, art, music.

Both are restless, mutable signs, though, so assuming you can get the them to agree on something that needs to be said, good luck getting them to sit still long enough to get it said. Sitting still for hours, facing a screen or scratching a pen across a tablet, or composing a song or a sonnet, can make Gemini, in particular, feel like a bird in a cage. Movement, oxygen, and variety bring Gemini happiness, and more than most signs, she chafes under constriction. One tends to imagine that writing is pretty much the same as readingrelaxed, absorbingbut it’s entirely different, and surprisingly difficult.

I’ve often heard that writers need to have some kind of connection in their charts between Mercury/Gemini and Saturn. One might have an aspect between Mercury and Saturn, or Saturn in the third house, or Saturn in Gemini. Within a writer, there must be a delightful bird—but also, a cage. And ideally a little Neptune, and the desire to give voice to the things that mean the most to us but can be hard to express.

Just before the last Full Moon, I was approached to write my third book, and a few days ago I signed the contract. It’s the best moment of any new enterprise, the space between the offer and the commitment. The offer is all about possibility and being wanted, and the commitment is the moment when the door of the cage slams after you, and you enter a sort of 12th house/Pisces realm of confinement.

Born with the Moon in Gemini, I love almost nothing as much as I love words. Yet nothing makes me yearn to leave the house more than the feeling that I should be sitting at my desk, slapping words together. Normally I don’t spend much time hanging out in cafes, but when I’m working on a book I itch to distance myself from the delightful distractions of cats, email, and laundry.

Apparently, it’s a condition universal among writers. When Amtrak recently announced a residency program for 24 lucky writers, Facebook exploded with excitement. And why not? The thought of “writing” the rails for hours on end, with nothing to do but watch the scenery go and tap away at the laptop sounds like writer’s heaven. It’s so much less painful to write while in motion – or while the world is, which is why you’ll find so many writers sitting in cafes, watching the world pass by, dreaming of Amtrak.

If Gemini’s children can’t move, we have to at least watch movement. (more…)

Full Moon in Scorpio: In the Belly of a Duck

Posted by & filed under Full Moon, Scorpio.

bull-rubber-duckEver hopeful for increased prosperity and other cosmic bonbons, I decided to perform the Venus Santeria ritual that Dana wrote about at the Taurus New Moon. It sounded so simple – a piece of bread, a smallish candle, a nickel, a body of running water – but it took me the better part of an afternoon to collect the right size candle, the right shape roll. Finally, I had everything I needed to perform the ritual on the Friday (Venus’ day) after the New Moon.

So just before lunchtime I wrote out my wish list, prepared my little roll, and lit the candle. As it burned down, I followed the ritual’s instructions to pursue pleasant Venusian pastimes. I had my favorite food for lunch, and then I replaced my decaying guitar strings, which seemed appropriately Venusy. Within a couple of hours the candle burned itself out, and I was ready to … well,roll, so to speak. The question was, where to release my Venusian offering into the wild? I had been thinking of taking it over to Coronado and tossing it into the ocean, but then I reread Dana’s article and realized salt water was out of the question.

Then my husband remembered a spot down in the valley where we might be able to get close enough to the bank of the San Diego River to surrender my cosmic muffin therein. We parked in a nearby lot, trundled down the street a piece, and found a likely – if rocky – spot. We picked our way cautiously a few feet down, where I perched on a rock and hurled the bun. At first, I was dismayed; the roll fell just at the edge of a kind of breakwater thing and just sat there for a minute. And then I noticed that the wind was blowing the water toward the breakwater, and despaired of my little offering to Venus getting very far at all.

Then, an intervention: a group of four ducks descended on the roll, pushed it into the river, and began eating it. “That’s… good, right?” I asked my husband. “I mean, nature participating in the ritual, and all.” “Well, think of it this way,” he pointed out. “That roll is going to get a lot further down the river in the stomach of that duck than it would have on its own.” (more…)