Manual labor and cookies

Posted by & filed under Transits.

Mercury conjoined Pluto today, and together they squared my natal Mars in Virgo. Doesn’t that sound dreadful? But it wasn’t; rather, I tackled an epic scraping-and-painting renovation project I’ve been putting off forever. How’s that for Mercury/Virgo (dexterity and detail), Mars/Pluto (hard work, bringing something back to its bare essence)?

The backstory: A few years ago, we bought two old kitchen cabinets from an architectural salvage store, planning to convert them to built-in bookshelves to flank our living room fireplace. Unfortunately, they were covered with layers and layers of vile paint, and we got sidetracked by renovation torture; so our cabinets spent a couple of years cluttering up the garage before, finally, we tackled them. We stripped them, Jonny cut them down to fit under the windows, and we painted and installed them. Gorgeous. Perfect. Except… somehow, we never got around to finishing one set of doors, so for the past couple of years or so the bookcases have had a weird, lopsided look.

But today, galvanized by a party/house concert we’re having here next weekend, I tackled those suckers. Out came the sawhorses, the silent paint remover ( a kind of infrared heating gadget we saw on This Old House that actually works like a charm), the scraper, the primer, the paint brush. For about four hours I meditatively scraped away out on the patio, absentmindedly listening to (the annoying) Rachel Ray on the Food Network, (the sublime) Terry Gross on NPR, (the ridiculously overplayed) “Love Actually” on HBO. And at the end of it all, the doors are all ready for a top coat tomorrow, ready to be installed in time for the party. Because Venus was sextiling my Mars as well, and because I felt so pleased with myself, I ended the afternoon by baking some celebratory chocolate chip cookies.

Martha Stewart’s in jail, folks. Someone’s gotta fill the void.

The “ooh” in the “ooh la la”

Posted by & filed under Mercury, Transits.

We interrupt the angst and depression of the past three weeks to bring you this uplifting announcement: Venus and Mars will make a conjunction in Scorpio this Sunday, December 5, 2:13 pm PST – ish. And may I just say that this aspect promises to put the “ooh” in the “ooh la la,” so book a weekend date with your sweetie.

And oh yeah, Mercury is officially retrograde as of yesterday. But funnily enough, after a pretty hairy pre-Rx week, everything immediately calmed down once Mercury made its station. Don’t ask me, I’m just the astrologer.

It’s been pretty bloody cold here. We actually had frost the last two nights; we had to swaddle our lemon tree in blankets. I’m just making conversation here, incidentally; there are people who know all kinds of things about astrology and the weather, but I’m afraid I’m not one of them.

Pretty thankful

Posted by & filed under Seasonal Essays, Transits.

Last weekend was a turning point, wasn’t it? The news has been full of strange outbreaks of violence; in my little corner of the universe, I’ve heard several stories of couples who had really serious arguments – full-scale battles – over the weekend.

And yet somehow, miraculously, I received a sort of reprieve from my own violent emotions. I sang at a supper for a local peace coalition, and came away from a nice evening of soup and wise words and kind people with the sense that the world has not gone uniformly mad after all. It’s a feeling of well-being that’s stayed with me over the past few days, even as I struggle to stamp out the many pre-Mercury Rx bonfires breaking out around me. Somehow, I gave up the burden of feeling that the weight of the world was on me alone, that I had to make people change and save the world. Getting together with a group of like-minded people, I felt enormous relief.

Today the Sun squared Uranus, and the mounting tension of the weekend is well described by this aspect. For those who are feeling agitated but could not find a release valve of like-minded people, perhaps the pressure just built and built until it had to explode – in some cases, via their cell phones.

I’ll be hitting the highways early tomorrow, a reluctant freeway pilgrim, to share the Thanksgiving holiday with my siblings and their families. It’s a tough time for us, since we are far from agreed about the things that are wrong with the world, and the best way to fix them. Three weeks ago I was tempted to blow the whole thing off this year, for the first time ever. But now, I’m glad I didn’t. Now I’m glad for the opportunity to sit and have a meal with the people who, for better or worse, are wedded to me through the bonds of birth. By this time tomorrow I may feel differently, but for now, I’m thankful for the cool weather and the good earth and the prospect of a big slab of pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

Blessings to you all.

Mercury Rx and the Shadow Period

Posted by & filed under Mercury.

Is it just me, or are things already feeling kind of Mercury retrograde-ish, even though the next Mercury Rx period doesn’t begin until the 30th?

I’ve been noticing it for the past few days – everything takes at least one extra step that I didn’t anticipate. Well, maybe not everything, but lots of things. Especially computer things. Also, after an outbreak of ants late last month – our first serious one in this house, thanks for monthly ministrations by a pest control company – was seemingly subdued, the little bastards have started showing up again, in true retrograde fashion.

This can all be explained by the “shadow period” theory about retrograde cycles. It works like this. Mercury will turn retrograde on November 30, at 27 degrees Sagittarius. It will retrograde back to 10 degrees Sagittarius before turning direct again on December 19. So according to the shadow theory, we began to enter the pre-retrograde shadow period when Mercury hit 10 degrees of Sagittarius on November 11 – a degree sensitized by a foreshadowing of Mercury’s station there.

A similar shadow period is in effect on the other side of the retrograde. So after Mercury turns direct on December 19, it is said to be in another shadow period until it reaches 27 degrees – the degree where it turned retrograde. Which takes us into the early part of January 2005.

My MoonCircles colleague Pythia Peay, in her book Mercury Retrograde, Its Myth and Meaning writes,

The shadow periods preceding and following the twenty-one days of Mercury retrograde could be said to be like a wave that gradually rises, crests, then falls, melting back into the ocean.

That’s right, friends: surf’s up.

Mars in Scorpio: How sharper than a serpent’s tooth…

Posted by & filed under Transits.

Mars entered Scorpio last week and is currently squaring my natal Mercury… and of course, I started the day by charging into an argument on a message board, one where I almost never post comments. Now I feel pissed off and misunderstood. Ugh… when will I learn to check the transits before I start popping off?

Mars is strong in Scorpio, a sign it traditionally co-rules. In this sign, Mars gives us a mandate to cut, and ruthlessly; it is a measure of our strength and integrity whether we wield this placement of Mars as a compassionate surgeon, excising a cancer, or as a power-hunger warlord with a machete. Or, as I feel this morning, like a neophyte chef who has cut herself with a very sharp kitchen knife.

The optimism of uncertainty

Posted by & filed under Not Really Astrological.

This essay was passed on to me by my splendid sister-in-law in Australia. It was most comforting yesterday, when I was in the depths of despair ( which seems to be happening at least a couple of times a day), as was this note from an Australian reader:

Yes our world seems as if it’s slipping back into the days of religious persecution but my gut is telling me its like a wave of fear based fundamentalism on every level before the lightwave hits. Am I being the idealistic Pisces Ascendant too much?

Maybe, but I hope in this case that idealism is next to realism.

Summer Astrology: Behind the Wheel

Posted by & filed under Seasonal Essays.

by April Elliott Kent

When I was a kid, we spent several late-60s summers visiting my mother’s sister and her family in Los Angeles. After school let out for summer vacation, my brothers and sister and I would pile into the back of our Oldsmobile station wagon with a stash of science fiction novels, comic books, Spirographs, snack foods, pillows, and blankets to keep us occupied over the long, three and a half day haul across country from our home in Indiana to southern California.

The best part of the trip was staying in small motels in remote towns along Interstate 40 with exotic names like Tucumcari, Amarillo, and Flagstaff. These motels had large, neon signs and shimmering swimming pools that looked absolutely enchanting after a long, hot day of staring at steaming, never-ending blacktop. I don’t remember ever actually swimming in one of those pools, though; we usually ended the driving day with just enough time to have a fast-food dinner and watch a little TV before turning in early, so we could get up before dawn to hit the road again.

Daybreak was the very best time of day. We’d check out of the motel before dawn and drive for a couple of hours, dad and mom quiet in front, kids dozing in the back, stirring to watch the sky gradually transition from inky to crimson to pale blue. Then, just after sunup, we would pull over for pancakes and hash browns at some greasy-spoon, truckstop diner.

I loved those trips, loved being on the road, jostling along for days at a time; it was like being on a cruise. What luxury, to be in a small contained space for days at a time with nothing to do but munch Cheetos, read great literature like “The Adventures of Tweety and Sylvester,” and fight with your sister. When you’re young you instinctively feel safe with someone else, someone you trust, behind the wheel. All you have to do is sit back and entertain yourself while the world drifts by, filling you with a sense of adventure and endless possibilities as wide as the big desert sky. (more…)