Leo Full Moon: The Gift of Boredom

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

leofm_bored_300The economy seems to have picked up a bit—an observation that has nothing to do with the state of my 401K and everything to do with the topics my clients want to talk about in our sessions. These days, nearly all of them mention a desire to reclaim their sense of play and creativity.

The desire for self-expression is pretty high up on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You have to have an awful lot going right in your life before it occurs to you to want more fun. That said, even a life that offers a roof over your head, food to eat, and safety from imminent peril can be flat, gray, and filled with despair, if there is nothing to feed your creative spirit.

Remember how wonderful it felt, as a kid, to play? After school, on weekends, over long, languid summers, the kids I grew up with spent countless hours goofing off. We rode bikes, invented games with friends, formed garage bands, read books, swam at the community pool. Eventually you’d get bored, but if you were even modestly resourceful and imaginative there was always something new to try. I always felt that boredom was my creativity’s best friend. (more…)

Capricorn New Moon: Starting with Why

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

why

It’s a new calendar year and a goal-setting, Capricorn New Moon. And like many of you, I’m sure, I’m trying to figure out how I’d like 2016 to look, and what I need to do to accomplish that.

In particular, I’m coming to terms with my new role at the helm of my local astrology group. It’s all a bit sobering, because despite having been born with Saturn in Capricorn and within one day of a U.S. president, I’ve never had leadership aspirations. So this new role came about as one of those “someone’s got to do it” situations.

Casting a net in search of sage leadership advice, I ran across a TED talk by author Simon Sinek (I’ve included the video at the end of this essay). Sinek suggests that the key to success is to “Start with why.” His thinking is that if you have a strong sense of why you want to accomplish something, you’ll naturally figure out the form it should take and exactly how you can bring it into being.

Sometimes, the “why” of a situation may seem as simple (and ungratifying) as, “I kind of had to.” But even when we’re stepping into situations out of a sense of obligation, it’s important to ask why. Why take care of an ailing relative who has treated you badly all your life? That’s an important “why,” and it probably has much less to do with who they are, than with the kind of person you want to be. Why do you accept a higher-paying job that you really don’t want? If the answer is, “I am a person who loves my family and will do anything to see that they are financially secure,” well, there is your “why,” and it’s a pretty good one.

Once we know why we’re doing something, the road forward is usually clearer. And though Capricorn is a pragmatic, “what” and “how” kind of sign, this particular Capricorn New Moon is a little different. The Sun and Moon are conjoined transformational Pluto and square revolutionary Uranus. Capricorn’s ruling planet, Saturn, will make a series of motivating aspects to Neptune over the coming year. This is a New Moon, and a new year, that demand we get to know our own motivations, the impalpable underpinnings of our practical ambitions. (more…)

Cancer Full Moon: Mother Christmas

Posted by & filed under Cancer, Capricorn, Full Moon, Lunar Phases.

cancer-full-moon-300Growing up, I enjoyed Christmas as much as the next kid. I became ambivalent toward the holidays some time in my mid-20s, but it wasn’t until I got married that my indifference toward Christmas flared into genuine dislike. I found the unbridled materialism unpalatable (now that I was at an age when it no longer benefited me personally), the music irritating, and the moralistic undertones cloying. Craving an observance more peaceful, that felt more meaningful, I renounced the Christmas of my youth.

The first Christmas after I made my stand, my mother had a hard time believing I was serious. As mothers do, she wheedled, cajoled, and twisted my arm to join in the usual family reindeer games. I demurred, and she insisted, until finally one day, desperate to be understood and irritated beyond measure I finally snapped, “I don’t like the way you celebrate Christmas!” And watched, mortified, as her eyes filled with tears.

Now, my mother loved Christmas. She loved the tree, the music, the dopey Christmas specials on TV, the cookies, the wrapping, the craziness. She was an extraordinary gift-giver, paying close attention to the random comments of those she loved throughout the year and taking note of what they wanted and needed, and she gave precisely the things that would delight us most and suit us best. So when I made my nasty, hateful comment, I couldn’t have wounded my mother more had I slapped her across the face.

“Spirit!”‘ said Scrooge, “show me no more! Conduct me home. Why do you delight to torture me?’

I bungled it so badly, my wish to declare independence; and although my mother soon forgave me, I still haven’t quite forgiven myself. Yet I was motivated by natural impulses: I wished to celebrate the seasons in my own way, to carve out my own traditions. And as the youngest of four children I desperately wanted to be taken seriously as an adult.

Family Christmases tend to be difficult precisely because they amplify the natural tension between wanting to belong and to be taken care of (Cancer) and the desire to be taken seriously as the captain of your own ship (Capricorn). It’s tempting, when you’re first coming of age, to feel this is a zero sum game and that you can’t be your own person as long as you’re also someone’s child. And so you make foolish, hurtful mistakes, as I did, feeling the only alternative is a certain death of the self. (more…)

Sagittarius New Moon: Think Big

Posted by & filed under New Moon, Sagittarius.

think-big

Collage by April Elliott Kent

Astrologer Dana Gerhardt, born with the Sun in Sagittarius, once wrote “Feeling envious of someone else means you’re not thinking big enough for yourself.” Leave it to a Sagittarian to remind us of our limitless potential!

Realizing that potential, however, relies on cultivating a vibrant imagination. Envisioning something that hasn’t existed before is not unique to people born under the sign of the archer, but you can bet that most true innovators have that sign or its ruling planet, Jupiter, prominent in their birth charts. Sagittarian Walt Disney, for example, envisioned a playground that could be enjoyed by people of all ages, and realized it on a scale previously unimaginable. Steven Spielberg gave the movie-going public an entirely different vision of what films could be. Jimi Hendrix took the electric guitar to places it had never been before.

To be an innovator requires trust in yourself and absolute conviction in your vision and truth. The Sagittarian road requires the faith to ignore nay-sayers and to resist the urge to emulate the successes of others.

To move in the direction of Sagittarius truth always requires a leap of faith and confidence in our knowledge. But taking this leap comes with the danger of becoming insular and overzealous, of refusing to listen at all to other points of view—especially while inflexible Saturn transits this sign through December 2017. The utter conviction that serves Sagittarius so well in many situations can sometimes cause problems if we assume that everyone shares, or should share, our particular view of what is true. Navigating the Sagittarius experience requires that we keep feeding our brains with other ideas and perspectives, to keep ourselves flexible and lively. But for the sake of innovation, it’s equally important to know when to escape into our own imaginations and retrieve the treasures we find there. (more…)

Gemini Full Moon: Let Us Give Thanks

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

give-thanks-3I’m feeling anxious about Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday, but for some reason the always-simmering but (usually) contained political hostilities within my family have flared up, and this can make family gatherings mighty uncomfortable.

I don’t know exactly what has triggered the rage that’s spilling out all over my loved ones’ Facebook pages this week. I don’t really follow the news these days, but I figure it must have something to do with the really awful terrorist attacks in Paris, the unpleasant rhetoric flying around about refugees, or maybe those godless Starbucks coffee cups.

But really, it could be anything. Because the real conflict is between two fundamentally different world views.

Which brings us to the two planets that best symbolize those views: Saturn and Neptune. The first of three exact square aspects between them takes place this Thanksgiving morning (Nov. 26, 2015 – the other two dates are June 17 and Sep. 10). At this Full Moon in Gemini (Nov. 25 in the U.S., Nov. 26 most other places), the Sun is conjoined Saturn in Sagittarius, the Moon is opposed both of them, and they are all in square aspect to Neptune. So I’d say this Full Moon is pretty much where this nearly year-long Battle of the Titans gets underway. (more…)

Scorpio New Moon: On the Road to a Foreign Country

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

scorpio-nm-6ft-2Over the past couple of years, it’s become harder for me to write these essays. Partly, it’s because I’ve been writing them for so long that it’s harder to find something fresh to say.

But it’s a little more complicated than that. I look back into my archives and see that I used to put so much of myself in these little stories, so much emotion. Lately, not a lot of that tenderness finds its way into my writing. On my morning walk today, thinking about the Scorpio New Moon, I think I figured out why.

It’s because I haven’t been completely honest with you.

The truth is, I still have a rich emotional life, but over time the emotions became the kind I’d rather not think about too much, let alone share. It began when Saturn transited Scorpio (Oct. 5, 2012 – Dec. 23, 2014; June 14 – Sep. 17, 2015) and the twelfth house of my birth chart. (more…)

Taurus Full Moon: The Sorcery of Benign Neglect

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

garden-cat_300We visited a Taurus-rising friend in her Bay Area home last spring, and she treated us to a tour of her thriving garden. My husband and his Taurus Moon were especially taken with her “tater totes”—recycled tote bags, perfect for growing potatoes. But nothing impressed him more than her elaborate, three-section composting shed. While the two discussed, at length, its design, construction, and functionality, I (no planets in Taurus) wandered off to find the cat.

Plant some Taurus in a birth chart, and it will generally grow into a green thumb. My husband has stationed a cookie-jar sized container next to our kitchen sink to collect scraps for his own, cherished compost heap. And just this morning, my Sun in Taurus neighbor cheerfully described what a good time she’d had yesterday, working in her garden. She’d started out a little bit sad and out of sorts, she said, but a day of puttering around in the dirt had set her right.

Taurus has an instinct for cultivation. Its opposite sign, Scorpio, symbolizes the process of death and decay, the spent organic matter that’s thrown on the compost heap and the busy, helpful insects that break it down. The result, to most of us, looks like plain old dirt. But from across the horoscopic wheel, Taurus recognizes the resulting loam as beautiful, nourishing, and helpful, and knows just how to use it to encourage things to grow. (more…)

New Moon in Libra: It Isn’t Fair

Posted by & filed under Libra, New Moon.

libra-fairLibra has a reputation for being nice and for putting other people first. But Libra also symbolizes comparison; to some extent, most of us gauge our relative success by looking at what others have accomplished. Even when we’re smiling on the outside, our inner Librans are keeping score and making sure the scales balance. When they don’t… no more Mr. Libra nice guy.

Some of our earliest, most shocking realizations about the world are about fairness. “It’s not fair!” squeals the 5-year-old whose older brother gets a later bedtime. “It’s not fair!” objects the teenager who is denied her own car, even though all her friends have one. “It’s not fair!” shouts the employee who has been let go in his company’s latest round of firings, even though his laziest coworker gets to keep his job.

Life isn’t fair, at least not according to our (probably limited) understanding of fairness. And it’s especially galling when you’ve played by the rules and done everything you were supposed to do, and have not been rewarded for it but in fact punished. Like young people who were pushed to attend college, sometimes incurring massive debt in the process, only to graduate and find there are no jobs for them. Or workers near retirement age who find their guaranteed pension has vanished into thin air.

For many of us keeping score at home, the scales don’t seem to balance. When our internal accounting system triggers a fairness audit, we have a range of options. We can attempt to steer the world toward greater fairness through activism and education. We can surrender to cynicism, anger, and laziness. We can turn to faith; Venus, Libra’s ruling planet, is after all exalted in Pisces, the sign of spiritual awareness. Maybe the currently popular adage is true, and “Things always turn out right in the end. If things aren’t right, it’s not the end.” Or we can simply ignore everything that makes us unhappy.

The chart for this New Moon (October 12, 2015, 5:06 pm Pacific/8:06 pm Eastern), with the Sun and Moon opposed radical Uranus in Aries and square transformational Pluto, demands that we exercise the first option. Aspects like those fairly scream, “State of emergency! Threat level orange! All hands on deck!” But after a couple of decades of fighting hard for a better world, I’ll admit that these days I’ve retreated into the second, and possibly the fourth options. I’m dimly aware of the catastrophes running rampant in the world at the moment, but I’m doing my level best to ignore them. I’ve had a few health problems this year, and I find I’m not willing to risk more by fretting over politicians behaving like the craven idiots we always knew they were. (more…)

Aries Lunar Eclipse: The White Knight

Posted by & filed under Aries, Eclipses, Full Moon.

horses-postOne morning a few days before the Aries Lunar Eclipse, on deadline and procrastinating with some internet busywork, I ran across something that left me furious. Yes—in the words of the old cartoon meme, someone was wrong on the Internet. Wrong in a way that made me feel attacked and bad about myself. And so, I got angry—angry to a degree far out of proportion to the offense. So angry that it actually scared me a little bit.

As a woman in her sixth decade of life, a professional, a mentor, and a counselor, I was unnerved that such a small thing could make me so angry that, for a moment anyway, I entertained black thoughts of bitter retaliation. It’s times like this that remind me how we came to use expressions like, “That made me mad,” when we mean something made us angry. It really is a kind of madness when petty anger is triggered.

I had met the lunar eclipse in Aries (Sep. 27 or 28, depending on your location) a few days early. This is the last of three Aries eclipses since October 2013 (the others were on October 18, 2013 and October 8, 2014). Each one has given us the opportunity to learn something more about how, when, and even whether to stand up for ourselves.

Aries is the sign of self-defense. At best, it’s the knight on a white horse, brandishing a glittering and lethal sword, galloping to your defense when you feel threatened. But it’s important to remember whom the knight serves: the ruler of the realm, symbolized by the Sun, ruler of ego, selfhood, and sanity. A knight’s crusade is only as honorable as the monarch who sends him into battle.

You’re the monarch of your life, the hero of your own story. And when you perceive that you’re in danger, the knight is deployed to defend you. This knight is at its best when life and death are at stake. So if you don’t live in constant fear of immediate physical peril, what’s the knight’s job? (more…)

Solar Eclipse in Virgo: Go Deeper

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

go-deeperVirgo’s gift is for the work of the everyday – work that is never-ending, self-perpetuating, like washing the dishes or trying to keep your closet organized. Work that will never, ever be finished, because it’s the work of supporting and sustaining… what, exactly?

That’s a tricky question for our Virgo natures to grapple with. Virgo is a foot soldier, and remaining steadfastly earthbound can limit one’s perspective. And when your Virgo nature loses the sense of connection to a larger purpose, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and disheartened by work that is never-ending and repetitive.

But life is more than a series of meaningless tasks and rote servitude. And it’s not necessary to abandon Virgo’s analytical rigor or worldly pragmatism in order to find a sense of meaning in life, some cause deserving of Virgo’s deft and graceful talent for bringing order out of chaos. It is only necessary to ask, “Whom do you serve?” As Saturn inches nearer to Sagittarius, a sign dedicated to seeking the big picture, this New Moon brings a decision: How will you use your Virgo gifts, and in the service of what larger cause?

This New Moon Solar Eclipse, sextile Pluto, signals an opportunity to release Virgo’s more negative expression in our lives. It’s time to release the tendency toward busywork that distracts us from the real work at hand; the urge to criticize the efforts of others; the complete denial of life’s poetry and magic, in favor of a rigid, rational approach. The Solar Eclipse point (20.10 Virgo) lies close to the Moon’s North Node in Libra, drawing a line that connects us to a long pattern of trying to overcome such negativity. In the previous years when eclipses fell in Virgo (most recently 2006-2008), where were you to quick to criticize, too slow to notice the beauty around you, and too busy sweating the small stuff to keep your eye on the big picture?

Turning Routine into Ritual

One of my favorite Virgo parables is found in the movie “Groundhog Day”, with its provocative thesis: What if you were forced to live the same day over and over again? And not a particularly exciting day, either, but a day full of minor annoyances and petty frustrations, neither better nor worse than a thousand other days of your life. Phil Connors, portrayed by Virgo Bill Murray, attacks the problem with resistance, cynicism, complaint, and nihilism–until finally, after repeatedly trying and failing to destroy himself, he surrenders. He spends each day in devotion to good works and self-improvement, even though he knows that he’ll have to do it all over again the very next day. By the movie’s end, nothing much has changed in the town–except for Phil, who has become compassionate, accomplished, and beloved.

It’s not easy to reclaim our spirits from cynicism and our everyday routines from the tyranny of file folders and post-it notes, and particularly not when Scorpio/Pluto are the forces behind the change. Saturn moving toward Sagittarius, a sign representing the laws of society, insists that we temper even our finest Virgo impulses toward helpfulness with a commitment to the world as it is. As Phil Connors found, before we can hope to improve society we must first commit to being part of it.

When Scorpio and Pluto are involved, this commitment carries some risk. There is a story about a man who was unexpectedly confronted by an unfriendly dog that promptly took the man’s entire hand into its mouth. Most people’s instinct would be to pull the hand away, and in doing so probably shred the flesh against the dog’s teeth. But this man’s instinctive reaction proved much wiser: he pushed his hand further down the dog’s throat, and when the dog gagged, he opened his mouth. The man pulled his hand out, uninjured.

At this New Moon, the answer to overcoming Virgo overwhelm (or boredom) with every day life might be similar to dealing with an unfriendly dog: when you’re feeling trapped in the jaws of life, don’t pull away—go deeper. Where you’re relying on past insights, you might do better to dig in and discovering new ones instead.

The problems of the world can feel much too large and overwhelming to be helped in any way by our small ritual gestures of help and healing. Probably, they are. But ritual and mindfulness remind us to operate in our immediate environment in a way that’s guided by larger principles of conviction, belief, and inclusiveness. And maybe that’s enough. There will always be work that needs to be done, and we can’t always change the outer world – but we can always change the inner one.

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