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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Pisces Full Moon: Faith, Reason, and the Truth

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

angel-scientistEach Full Moon presents us with an apparent dichotomy between the sign occupied by the Sun, and the opposite sign, occupied by the Moon. When we take a closer look, we realize that while these two archetypes may approach a situation from opposite directions, they’re at least moving toward a common center.

The dichotomy at the heart of this Full Moon pits faith (Moon/Neptune in Pisces) against reason (Sun/Jupiter in Virgo). Is “I don’t know—I just like him/her” a valid reason to support for someone who is running for public office? Is “I’m so in love!” a persuasive argument for marriage? Our Virgo instincts are outraged by such notions, insisting that important decisions must be based on logic, not hunches. Yet Virgo’s annotated list of well-considered arguments and carefully researched facts does nothing to assuage our Piscean ache for something, or someone, to believe in.

As much as those who sneer against “hope” and “faith” would like to believe otherwise, these matter a lot to a great many people. They are, in fact, matters for which many would give their lives, and they are concepts whose power is utterly immune to critical thinking. If you doubt it, try reasoning with a friend who is madly in love with a complete scoundrel. She may agree that he’s a louse, but she hopes he’ll change. Having relinquished reason, she allows her decisions about the relationship to be made by her powerful unconscious—with all its hopes, fears, nostalgia, and unspeakable longings.

It can be frustrating when those around you, especially those you love, see life through a lens that’s different from your own. As an astrologer, I can speak from first-hand experience about cynical scientists and insulting skeptics. But as someone with a couple of planets in Virgo, I also understand their point of view; to those who worship at the altar of rational thought, an astrologer must seem like a heretical ambassador from the loony bin. (more…)

Jupiter enters Virgo: The Party’s Over

Posted by & filed under Jupiter, Planets, Transits, Virgo.

jup-virgoI was born with the Sun and various other planets and points in Leo. When Jupiter moved into the sign of the lion last year, my astro-savvy pals congratulated me as though I’d been nominated for an Academy Award. I have to admit, I felt pretty excited.

But despite its reputation as astrology’s most generous benefactor, Jupiter’s gifts are often best enjoyed in hindsight. While Jupiter is moving through a sign, a house, or in aspect to one of your natal planets, you can actually feel quite a lot of pressure—to live bigger, to be more daring, and to challenge your limitations.

You don’t have to have Leo planets to have felt Jupiter’s influence over this past year. Wanting to be noticed, have more fun, and connect with the engine that drives you—these are hallmarks of Jupiter in Leo. Leo is certainly a glamorous, fun-loving sign, but in combination with the exaggerated, exuberant influence of Jupiter, it can be a little too much of a good thing. (more…)

Leo New Moon: Guided by Desire

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

leonm-postUp to now, I wasn’t quite sure what I thought about Venus’ current retrograde period. But the chart for this New Moon (Aug. 14, 10:53 am Eastern Time) features the Sun and Moon in a close conjunction with Venus, so perhaps it’s time to tell that particular story.

In astrological Venus, we find the symbol of style, beauty, pleasure, value, and keeping up with the Joneses. We also find the very human susceptibility to being told what we should enjoy. There are entire industries that rely upon this tendency, and they are part of a world that is all too happy to tell us, every day and in a variety of ways, what it is we should love and find pleasurable.

There are socially approved body shapes, clothing styles, music, and colors. You should aspire to drive this car. Your kitchen can only look beautiful with granite counter tops, cherry wood cabinets, and travertine tiles. If you are a woman and not naturally svelte, you must starve yourself to maintain the correct shape.

The specific messages vary greatly depending on our age, gender, where we live, and our interests. But the essential idea is the same: The world conspires to tell us how to be beautiful and where to seek pleasure. And if you find that your own preferences lie outside the mainstream, it takes awareness, confidence, and a strong sense of self to embrace them.

Fortunately, Leo wrote the book on confidence, or at least the dogged pursuit of it. The profound relief of Venus retrograde in this sign (July 25 through September 6, 2015) has, for me, been the awakened urge to retreat from those messages and turn within to examine what actually does bring me pleasure. Who are the people with whom I really enjoy spending my time? Does the value of our home truly depend upon renovating our kitchen in a style I dislike? Am I a failure as a woman because I enjoy eating carbohydrates? (more…)

Finding Your Transits

Posted by & filed under Astrological Transits, Astrology Techniques, Learning Astrology, Transits.

finding-transits-blog-imageI’m pretty excited that my new book, The Beginners Guide to Astrological Transits, is now available in the wild (e.g., wherever books are sold) in both print and e-book versions. I think it does a pretty good job of explaining what transits are and how planetary cycles work. It even explains how to find your transits. But I know that for some, nothing gets the job done quite as well as a demonstration. So I’ve put together a video to show you how to get your hands on your current transits immediately and start using your copy of Astrological Transits the moment it arrives!


Aquarius Full Moon: Born Free

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

born-free_300A 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…)

Cancer New Moon: Tidying Up

Posted by & filed under Cancer, Lunar Phases, New Moon, Pluto, Uranus.

zen-closetInspired 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…)

Dissociate (out-of-sign) aspects

Posted by & filed under Astrology Techniques, Learning Astrology.

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.

Progressions: Making Progress

Posted by & filed under Astrology Techniques, Progressions, Uncategorized.

timing eclipse fallout 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.

Capricorn Full Moon: Slowing Down, Turning Around

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

Image from Mother Tongues

Image from Mother Tongues

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…)