Thursday, July 6, 2017


Patriotism.  What the heck is it?  Why do people care?

Is it something weird in my make-up?  I don’t like team sports all that much either, but there have been a couple of times in my life when I’ve gotten into the spirit of it, hollering and waving my arms.  It seemed harmless and unimportant.  Is it? 

I was patriotic when I was about ten years old.  I remember myself as a little girl in a British school in Bangkok, valiantly defending my country against an Australian girl who claimed that Americans were all a bunch of juvenile delinquents.  I really had no idea if it was true or not, but felt I should stick up for the country where I was born, the place that my parents always called home.   

At that time in my life, national identities were all just stuck onto us, like our names. They seemed a bit random, although obscurely important.  The school furthered a tribal spirit by dividing us all into three teams – the Vikings, Trojans and Spartans – and pitting us against each other in sports and theatre and singing competitions.  This was also pretty random. 

Now, fifty-five years later, I still don’t think it matters particularly what country you come from. I have to go through a lot of mental somersaults to conjure up a feeling that might be called patriotic. Of course, this is a lot harder during the Trump Years than it was during the Obama Years.   

But lately I’ve been reading Margaret MacMillan’s book about the tensions that led up to World War One, and there’s one truth that springs out from its pages:  Patriotism kills people.  In the last hundred years, hundreds of millions of people have died from an excess of patriotism.  It wasn’t always their own patriotism that killed them, either.  Often it was somebody else’s – a family member, a community, a voter, a politician. 

In the US, patriotism is linked with religion; it’s seen as a sacred duty.  It figures that our national birthday is celebrated in July, since this is the month with a Cancer theme. (The sun and Mars are currently in Cancer.)  Cancer is the most tribal and emotional of signs.  It’s a sign of attachment – mother to child, neighbor to neighbor, human to land.  It’s about what belongs to you, and what makes you feel that you belong. 

I get plenty attached.  Believe me, I am a master at attachment.  I can’t throw away a pair of shoes without feeling sad about it.  And I hardly ever throw out underwear; it’s way too intimate a relationship.  And I’m very attached to my home, without feeling any desire to own the house where we live.   When I think of the wider circles of my own life, I find attachment at every level. 

Attachment feels good.  It’s comfortable, satisfying, and safe.  But everything can be done to excess.  And excess attachment can cause people to go out and do all kinds of strange, unnatural things – like engaging in a fight to the death with a stranger, so that other people can redraw the borders of the country you live in.  How does that even make sense?  When some young kid thrusts a bayonet into some other young kid, and leaves him bleeding in some desolate field, why does that lead to a bunch of unsmiling older men in stiff uniforms passing around pieces of paper to sign? 

So, no.  On a personal level, excess attachment is called stalking.  And come to think of it, this country has been exercising surveillance techniques over its citizens for years.  Is that become the United States loves us so much that it just has to track our every movement?   It’s so attached that it can’t lose sight of us for a moment?   

There are other ways in which the US goes too far with its attachments.  Its attachment to stuff, for example.  There has to be a lot of it, and we have to make more all the time, even though we have no idea what to do with the enormous amount of waste we generate.  We even get anxious if the economy is not constantly growing. 

There’s an interesting contradiction in the US natal chart.  There’s a stellium – 4 planets – in the sign of attachment, Cancer.  But the moon is in the most freedom-loving sign, Aquarius.  So there’s a constant tension between the tribal instincts of Cancer and the more objective and enlightened ideas of Aquarius. 

We see this embodied in the work of the people who wrote those first documents, back in the day when this country was a fledgling enterprise.  There were some radical notions there – a division of powers, a separation of church and state, a process by which laws can be changed – and these things are still helpful today.

At the same time, those early citizens were pretty damn possessive.  They took possession of all sorts of things that the native people considered part of the public domain – mountains, rivers, forests.  Nothing was sacred, everything could be owned, and thus, defiled.  Even people could be owned, and so millions of human beings were stolen, shipped across the water, and completely controlled.  (Or at least, complete control was attempted.)  We can look back and see how sick this was, how unnatural from every viewpoint.   

But another word for excessive attachment is addiction.  We clutch at whatever makes us feel safe, even if we squeeze it so hard that we kill it.  And it happens over and over – until the earth shifts. 

This month, the Cancer planets are challenged by Pluto, the planet of power, as it moves through the earth sign Capricorn, the driest and most unemotional sign in the zodiac.  This echoes the only opposition in the US natal chart, a Cancer/Capricorn opposition involving Pluto.  Pluto gets at the deep stuff, the underlying fears, resentments, desires and angers.  It pushes towards transformation. 

In the history of the US, this manifests as a repeating cycle of addictions clashing with reality.  As an attachment becomes more and more obsessive, and sicker and sicker, there comes a time when it can no longer be supported by the population.  There are always some who resisted the hypnosis from the beginning, and these are the ones who rise up first.  The combination of an alternate vision and a clearly toxic attachment adds up to change.  But often there are those who hold on to the old ways with their fingernails, even as the earth shakes and swallows them. 

So yes, July will hold some changes that are in line with this evolutionary process.  It definitely won’t be over;  there’s still a long road to walk.  And let’s see what happens when the U.S. hits its Pluto return, about five years down the road.  My sense is that we’re learning something now which we'll need to know then.  Perhaps it’s about the Resistance.  Perhaps it’s about world diplomacy. Perhaps it’s some technology that will mitigate the effects of climate change.  Perhaps we will only be able to implement this technology if we can work together.   

Whatever happens then, and wherever we end up, there will be a lot to let go of.   Let go of fear first though.  There’s very little we’re attached to that we really need.  And the sooner patriotism is thrown overboard, the better.        

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Trump Trajectory

It’s a pretty spring day, full of birdsong - so clearly the birds haven’t heard about Trump’s backing out of the Paris Climate Accord.  Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg, Titanic reference intended, since throughout his presidency, he’s been hard at work hamstringing the EPA, rolling back regulations, and attacking the work of scientists. 

When I look at Trump’s chart today, I see that he’s on a roll.  Uranus in Aries is trining his rising Mars in Leo, the prizefighter part of his chart, and so he’s moving forward, boxing and shadow boxing, proving that he’s the dominant one.  No fears about the future, no namby-pamby worries about whether his grandchildren will survive.  The strong will survive, right? And the rest can wash out to sea with the crumbling coast-lines. 

When I look at Trump’s chart a month from now, I see a very different picture.  At the end of June, Saturn will be opposing his sun, and this indicates a crisis of confidence, or an external blow to the ego – and, as we all know, Trump’s ego is his most vulnerable part.  It could also be a time of physical illness or injury. 

And at the same time, this looks like a tumultuous time for his job, since Pluto in Capricorn makes a series of challenging aspects, beginning with the square to his Jupiter and the inconjunct to his Uranus.  After this, it makes an inconjunct to his sun and opposes his Saturn.  It looks to me like the gods that lifted him up are going to be laying him down flat.  There are some hard lessons between now and the end of his term – assuming he makes it that long. 

Expect things to change for Trump a few days after the coming summer solstice.  All during the lunar cycle that begins with the new moon of June 23, he’ll feel Saturn’s opposition to his sun, a weight on his ego.  Does this mean that the Russia investigation will yield some embarrassing fruit, perhaps involving his financial shenanigans?  Will Robert Mueller be the agent of some Trump undoing?  

It’s quite possible.  In the new moon chart, the sun, moon, Mercury and Mars are all in Cancer, within 11° of each other, and they all conjunct Robert Mueller’s Saturn.  Saturn is about wisdom, maturity, realism, and responsibility, and this puts Mueller in a position of having to do his duty and deal with something serious.  In addition, Mueller’s Saturn is right on top of Trump’s Mercury, indicating that he’s going to sift through all the Trumpian misinformation for the truth.      

And Mueller’s Saturn gets involved in Trump’s Mercury/Neptune square, which could be called Trump’s “liar aspect”.   This is not to say that everyone with a Mercury/Neptune square is a liar.  It gives a vivid imagination, and many people with this aspect are writers and artists, or people who have warm, fertile relationships with the unreal.  Neptune is also about spirituality and idealism, so people with this aspect often work hard to integrate these other ways of knowing and understanding. 

However, for Trump, I’d say he lives wholly in whatever self-serving delusion leaps into his mind.  And after the summer solstice, some of those delusions could be flayed open on the operating table, visible to everyone. 

Recently a reader asked me to compare Trump’s chart with Putin’s, to see if there were any clues there.   Putin also has a strong Mercury/Neptune aspect, a conjunction.  But the main difference between them is that Putin has a sun/Saturn conjunction.  He’s a realist, and when he shades the truth, or operates on a clandestine level, he knows what he’s doing. 

Many of the aspects between them are quite positive, so the buddy-buddy thing is visible.  They both have dominant, fiery Mars placements, and their Mars trine each other, so they can work together on mutual goals quite easily.  This could include waging war against a joint enemy, and both men know this as a sure way to fire up the base.   

Both have strong sun/Uranus contacts, so they both like to be unpredictable, independent and rebellious.  Both have largely airy charts, so they both live in a world of forms rather than practical realities.  Putin, with a sun/Saturn conjunction in Libra squaring Uranus, has a strong streak of cynicism, but he also believes he is mostly doing the right thing for his country.  But for both him and Trump, an excess of power and privilege have made it difficult to differentiate between personal preferences and universal good.  This is how power corrupts. 

Trump has no earthy planets in his chart, so he’s especially ungrounded, hence the obvious ADD.  Putin has one earthy planet – Jupiter in Taurus – so he is more materialistic.  For Trump, I would argue that, even though everything he does seems so mercenary, it’s all about ego.  He likes the show, the appearance, the glamor, but has little interest in sensual experiences, lasting security, or any of the other things money can buy.        

Putin’s sun conjuncts Trump’s Jupiter, and I think this refers to the role they’ve taken in making each other (and their friends) wealthy and successful.  In fact, Putin has four planets conjuncting Trump’s Jupiter, so I would say he’s used personal influence (the sun), information (Mercury), and subterfuge (Neptune) to boost Trump’s position in the world.  He also has Saturn conjunct Trump’s Jupiter, and this tends to have the opposite effect, and could mean that he restricts Trump’s success and prestige. 

So does this mean that ultimately the association with Putin will poke a pin into Trump’s bubble?  Could be. Another indication of this is Trump’s Jupiter squaring Putin’s Uranus – which relates to Putin’s unpredictability and eccentricity.  When Uranus is involved, things happen quickly and unexpectedly.  And this looks like it could also presage a sudden fall for Putin, eventually, since Uranus squares all four of his Libra planets.

And so am I predicting the beginning of the end for Trump?  To make things even ickier for him, Saturn will be conjuncting his moon between mid-July and the end of September 2017, and this could mean depression, illness, or an even more extreme drop in popularity.  Or it could mean a stab in the back from someone in his inner circle, like Jared Kushner.  Comparing their two charts, there are a lot of angry aspects, so they really don’t like each other all that much.  But Trump’s sun opposing Kushner’s Neptune shows that the latter fits smoothly into the former’s delusions. 

However, Trump has one more dose of good luck coming.  He’s got his faithful Jupiter return, making the last of three exact passes.  The first time was around the time of his electoral college win, and the second time in April, when the House Intelligence inquiry into his misdeeds was pretty much falling apart.  The third time will be between July 27 and August 11, so, even though this is a hard time for him in so many ways, there could be some sort of eleventh hour rescue that keeps him in office.

Trump has always been a plaything of fate, never more than when he pulled off the presidential election.  But this is the end of his lucky streak. 

In late September and through most of October, Saturn opposes his sun again, so even if he is able to maintain his position, it’s a low period for his ego and basic vitality.  In October, Jupiter moves into Scorpio, a sign known for exposing scandals and secrets.  By Christmas, when Uranus squares his Saturn, you’ll probably be seeing a lot of news stories about how the mighty have fallen. Trump sees himself as a master of deal-making, but his final test may be negotiating his way out of serious jail time. 

And what about the country?  In December 2017, Saturn moves into the spare, ascetic, realistic sign Capricorn.  When Pluto moved into Capricorn, we experienced the Recession of 2008, and the loss and anxiety caused by this continue today.  I expect this to be exacerbated during the two and a half years that Saturn is in Capricorn, especially as weather conditions become more extreme, and refugees more plentiful.  This will color our next election here in the US, but it’s hard to know how people will vote when they’re coming from a place of fear and scarcity.   

We know that nature will eventually recover from whatever humans throw at her, but will humans survive?  There is some hope for us, since Saturn will be moving into Aquarius in 2020, and Pluto into Aquarius in 2023.  Pluto will spend the next couple of decades in this sign, and it will bring both new technology – perhaps at the eleventh hour, before humans perish – and a stronger drive towards personal liberation.  So that’s the light at the end of the tunnel.  As always, though, the tunnel comes first. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Oneness, Manyness

“What is up with that bird?” I’m wondering, as I listen to a long, drawn-out chittering.  This isn’t birdsong.  It doesn’t sound like a celebration of spring, or an advertisement for love.  It sounds more like an urgent telegraph.  Maybe it’s calling its mate to hurry home because there’s a squirrel inching closer to the nest. 

It’s a cool day, with a light wind blowing, and it’s reached that blessed spot – not too cold any more, not too hot yet - where I can actually keep my office window open.  So all through the day, I hear half-understood messages from all kinds of passersby.  I can guess at interpretations, but I can never really know.   

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be traveling.  I’ll be one of those voices on the wind, flitting from one place to another, as I head south, visiting friends along the way, until I reach Womonwrites.  I’ll spend a week at the lesbian writers’ conference -  visiting friends, picking up inspiration, giving a workshop, doing readings for people, and of course, playing a little Scrabble! 

There’s a lot to do before then, I know it, but I’m having a hard time getting my act together these days. Yes, it’s partly because Mercury has been retrograde the last three weeks, and is just about to turn direct again tomorrow  (on May 3, 12:33 pm EDST).  When Mercury changes direction, it’s always very slow for a week or so.  This gives us time to think about what’s next, hopefully, before the pace quickens.   

But it’s more than that.  It’s the inconjunct between Jupiter and Neptune, which will be with us all through May.  All Neptune aspects invite contemplation.  They take you away from business as usual.  Nothing routine seems all that compelling.  They invite you to back up, to take the long view, to see everything with a cosmic perspective.  Neptune dissolves the barriers.

If I want a Neptunian view from my window, I blur my focus, and all I see is a mash-up of bright green.  It’s lovely.  When I hear a bird sounding an alarm, it blends into the overall music -  the songs of other birds, the buzz of insects, the whistle of a faraway train.  It’s all one.  That’s Neptune’s message, especially as it moves through its home sign, Pisces.   

Neptune is the planet of spirituality in its purest form.  This is not about laws, not about dogma, not even about ethics.  It’s impossible to treat anyone wrong if you understand that you are that person, and that person is you.  We all come from this state of beautiful oneness, and there’s a part of us that always yearns for it. 

In my old coven, we used to sing this song:

We all come from the Goddess, and to her we shall return,
Like a drop of rain flowing to the ocean. 
Hoof and horn, hoof and horn, all that dies shall be reborn. 
Corn and grain, all that falls shall rise again. 

And yet, and yet.  When this lovely oneness broke into parts, when this world of variations happened, it happened for a reason, no?  We incarnated with stories, phobias, wisdom, and attractions already in place, ready to stitch together our own little piece of the quilt.  If it was whole to start with, what are we making?

For me, this is the central paradox of any spiritual viewpoint.  I do believe we are making it as we go.  I believe we are creating with every dream and thought and movement, calling into being something that never existed before.  And so my sense is that this wholeness is not a static thing, even though I understand the contradiction.  It’s whole, yet it becomes. 

So don’t be surprised this month if you find yourself standing for a long time at a tree, gazing up, and seeing nothing but green light.  Don’t be surprised if you’re in the middle of washing dishes, and you stop what you’re doing because you’re amazed by water.  Don’t be surprised if time changes shape, even more than usual, and long afternoons last a hundred years, while short nights are over in a blink. 

And what is Jupiter doing in this Neptune/Jupiter inconjunct?  Jupiter is the planet of expansion, and whenever it’s in aspect with any planet, it eggs the other one on.  So the diffuse and holistic awareness of Neptune is exaggerated, publicized, trumpeted by Jupiter.  Sometimes this is a good thing, as in the Climate March this week.  Jupiter is good at writing placards, making speeches.  And it’s now going through Libra, so it also inclines to legal strategies. 

But although Neptune is the planet of saintliness, of enlightenment, of all-encompassing spiritual awareness, it’s also the planet of illusion and delusion.   And so Jupiter can exaggerate this confusion too, while this Jupiter/Neptune inconjunct is going on.  Conspiracy theorists, for example, have a bigger and more holistic world view.  They see all the ways that the little threads come together.  But are they contributing to spiritual principles like peace and universal love?  What’s left out of this bigger world view?  What remains unseen? 

And none of us can see it all.  We are humans, possessed of a very useful focused vision which helps us find edible berries and avoid mastodons.  We aren’t supposed to ignore the physical messages around us, and just spend our time just contemplating eternity.  We’ll be back there before we know it;  it won’t be long. 

This Jupiter/Neptune inconjunct is seductive, encouraging us to take the little we know and run with it.  And sometimes you have to do it, you have to have faith in the visions that entice you, the ones that make your heart sing.  But I see it as a slow process, and a process that all beings have to do at approximately the same time.  It takes time to grow, to see more than just the fields and woods that surround us, and yet to still see them clearly.     

Friday, March 31, 2017

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

It’s a grey day, and the house is quiet since my California family (with my ten-year-old granddaughter) went back home.  Last night I got to talk to her on FaceTime, and after the usual questions about school and friends, she amused herself and me by making up an alternative history of the world. 

She described the dinosaurs, ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, and Christopher Columbus as if they’d all happened in the 20th century and their recurring source of despair was that they all had to use old-fashioned flip phones.  I got into it too;  it was silly and fun.  For some reason, she thinks flip phones are an automatically funny concept. 

Last week, when she was here, she had me stretching more than my imagination.  I stretched my legs, walking to the park with her and her father.   I haven’t walked much since my knee injury, and it was slow progress, but it was good for me.  With her gone, I feel restless, and have a hard time keeping my mind on my work.  The gathering clouds outside reinforce a sense of gloom. 

Could be that the sun in Aries, the springtime sign, is making me restless?  April often gives this desire to rush at life, and limits can make you chafe.  But why do I feel so limited? -  I ask myself.   

Ah, yes, it’s not just me.  Venus is entering a time of sadness.  She is moving very slowly all this month, as she changes directions.  The thing is that the planet of love has chosen a tricky spot to do this, right at the square to Saturn, the planet of time, structure, discipline and restriction. 

A hard Venus/Saturn aspect generally comes around every three months, and lasts three or four days.  During those days, we may feel a little lackluster, and have a harder time getting whatever we want.  Some pleasurable plans may not work out, and we might find ourselves spending the evening scrubbing the kitchen floor instead.  But a few days later, we’re back having more fun.   

This Venus/Saturn square, however, is long and drawn-out, and will cover most of April.  It will be in orb between April 3 and 27.  During this time, Venus and Saturn challenge each other, with Venus trying to lighten things up at the same time that Saturn keeps reminding you how heavy they are. 

The aspect brings up recurring questions about desire and frustration, joy and fear, love and obligation.  What do we want?  Are we really entitled to it?  Are we being selfish?  Are other people being selfish?  (And if they are, can we sue?  Remember Jupiter is in Libra, the sign of law.)  Is it safe to fall in love? Can other people know us, as we truly are?  Can we know them?  Why don’t we get what we want when we want it?  Why do we have to wait? 

Venus is all about the search for happiness, but Saturn hobbles that search, often from an excess of worry about what the future might hold.  Saturn represents the weight of past experience, especially old trauma, and so it tends to hold us back from risk.  Most of us have felt pain, and retreated from it, and we don’t want to feel it again.  Not only are we not going to touch that hot stove again, we’re going to stay completely out of the kitchen, even if it means we don’t get any cookies.   

Saturn also represents old structures, traditions, walls and barriers, which do not yield easily to change, especially frivolous change.  And isn’t happiness always frivolous, a passing giggle in this serious slog called life?  Or  - is it something essential, the heart that keeps beating and gives us energy to navigate the walls and fences around us? 

This Venus/Saturn square isn’t the only stagnating influence in April.  Mercury in Taurus is also moving slowly as the month begins, and it retrogrades on April 9.   At this point, the deliberate, cautious energy of Taurus becomes even more deliberate.  Will anything get done this month?  Some old stuff could be fixed, organized, sorted out, put away.  With Mercury retrograde in earthy Taurus, you can get back to some old projects that you put aside, like building those window boxes, or cleaning out your garage.

Then things are bogged down further between April 15 and 20, since there’s an inconjunct between Mars (planet of action) and Saturn.  Mars, like Mercury, is in slow, thorough Taurus, and normally you can get quite a lot done with Mars here.  It gives a more natural, instinctive approach – but  Saturn is too rule-bound to let you do things organically.  It’s hard to find the right rhythm, the pace that works.     

During April, things that would normally take days take weeks, and many things go unresolved. Instead of breaking out of your winter doldrums, you may find yourself brooding, planning and preparing for some hypothetical future event.  Seeds, normally so eager to sprout in April, seem to be taking an extra month underground this year.  And even if everything is budding on cue outside, you may not feel that quickening inside your own soul.   

Through the blockages, obfuscations and disappointments of April, everyone gradually goes to sleep. They keep on working in their sleep, the way you do when you’re not feeling particularly hopeful.    Things do pick up a little after April 20, when Mercury re-enters Aries, a speedier sign, and there’s a little more chance of action.  But Mercury is still retrograde, and it isn’t yet time to take off in a new direction. 

Mercury meets Saturn too, but in a more constructive relationship, a trine.  This will be in orb between April 21 and 28, and it makes for a bit more efficiency.  There will be some successes – not quick or flashy, but perhaps the culmination of months of careful, meticulous planning, with an eye to the bigger picture.  The Venus/Saturn square will still be in orb, though, so there won’t be much celebration.  A few wins may go largely unnoticed, but they will be something you can build on in the future.   

And then the month ends with Mercury meeting Uranus, planet of abrupt change.  So suddenly, after this long slow drawl of a month, everything is going to be upended right as April ends.  Suddenly, we’ll all be startled awake by some development we didn’t expect. 

And do all these April blockages mean that Neil Gorsuch won’t be confirmed?  Unfortunately, I think he probably will.  Currently, he has some lucky aspects -  Jupiter sextile his natal Jupiter, Pluto trine his natal Pluto.  These are the kinds of aspects that give you a professional growth-spurt.  Saturn isn’t making any aspects to his chart as all, so he has very little to worry about.  The rest of us do, but not him. 

The only positive thing I can say about this is that his natal chart is full of mutable signs, so he’s more malleable than he appears.  In fact, mentally, he’s on the skittish side, and he may suffer from hypochondria and anxiety.  So he won’t be the steadiest justice on the court, and he may be influenced by the other justices more than you would think, whether for good or ill. 

Trump’s luck is holding for now too, as Jupiter retrogrades and then goes direct over his natal Jupiter.  It won’t be till August that his luck runs out.  Right now, resistance is like digging a big hole in the ground, a time-consuming and dirty job.  Sooner or later, Trump and his gilded throne will fall into it.  For now, we’ll have to accept that this administration, as messy and awkward as it appears, isn’t going anywhere immediately. 

In April, it may feel like you’re on a time-loop, sometimes moving an inch forward, but quite often going backwards.  Things are done, and things are undone, and nothing seems to budge.  It can seem interminable.  And all the time, we can feel burdened by the challenges we’re not facing, the earth we’re not protecting, the future generations who might blame us for not doing enough.       

What will people remember of all this?  Maybe next month, we’ll be too busy to consider this, but now we can pause.  Pausing is what we do best this month.  And as we do, we can store away these memories - the earth, our loved ones, our bodies, the age we live in.  It’s just a trinket on the charm bracelet of the passing centuries.  But it’s all we have, right now.    

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Message from Venus

Here on the east coast of the US, we’ve had a strange surge of summer weather.  It’s been nice to shed the coats and scarves and gloves, even though we know this is not such a benign phenomenon.

In all of human history, there’s never been a time when humans felt responsible for the weather.  No wonder climate change denial is so prevalent, besides the fact that it’s well-funded by the businesses that contribute to it.  Beyond that, this new way of understanding the world is hard.  It’s burdensome. 

The weather has always been vast, powerful, a region populated by gods.  From Zeus snippily hurling his thunderbolts, there was always a capricious quality about it.  It was Fate, it was something that humans had to submit to, and this capacity to submit was a key ingredient in religious devotion.   Even when the weather ruined your life, even when it starved you and killed your loved ones, you had no choice but to bow to it.

And now we know that, as much as the weather influences us, we also influence it.  The trees we chop, the color of our rooftops, the particles we manufacture, it’s all us, swaying and converting and influencing those ferocious weather gods.  But we can’t just demand that the weather do our bidding, any more than we can point our fingers at an electric outlet and demand that the electricity flow.  No, we have to learn its language.  We have to speak the language of our former gods. 

We’ve always suspected that we could influence those weather gods through prayer and sacrifice.  I think we were on the right track, and if we had kept up these rituals, we might have noticed the earth’s distress much earlier.  And now we have to do a lot of praying and sacrificing in a hurry.  Praying that a ray of light enter the thick brains of the country’s current leaders.  Sacrificing some old conveniences for new ways of living. 

In March, we get a chance to backtrack, and to work on this relationship, because Venus, the planet of love, will be retrograde.  Starting on March 4, she’ll be going in apparent backward motion for about six weeks.  And so this is a time to look at everything we love:  the ideas, the things, and the people.  How do we love?  How do we connect?   

The relationship between the human race and the earth can tell us something about our patterns of loving.  First, we were subservient, at the mercy of these fierce gods of lightning and rain and sunlight.   Then we gained a bit more independence, harnessing the powers of warmth and light, and at that point, we could’ve had an equal relationship.  But fear was still driving humans, and we chose domination. 

At its root, domination is always fear.  Dominating the weather is about trying to rise above those wild, elemental powers.  Dominating women is essentially a fear of women’s unique ability to give birth.  Domination of gay people is based on the fear that patriarchy won’t prevail if people have a choice about their orientation.   Domination of African-Americans is the fear that that cruelty will be answered in kind, and legitimate anger will seek retribution in blood.  And the longer domination goes on, the stronger the fear grows, and the harder it is to root out. 

And domination precludes love.  On writing this, I thought about S & M, and then I realized that that's play domination, not the real thing.  S & M is based on mutual consent and the person at the bottom always has a “stop” signal to reassert control.  True domination doesn’t allow this level of mutual awareness. 

No, in domination, love is crowded out.  And we all know that love is key to survival for our species.  Unloved humans do not thrive.   They die early, as wistful babies, and they die late, as neglected senior citizens. 

It takes great courage to turn fear into love, and this is the challenge of our times.  Venus’ retrograde through Aries will show us something of how this works.  Aries is the fire sign that has most to do with autonomy and independence, and Aries’ keyword is, “I am.” With Venus moving in reverse in Aries, that changes to, “Am I?” and further on, “Who am I?”

The answer for all of us is “a lover”.  All of us love something or someone, but what do we do with this energy? Do we use it to possess, and to feed our addictions?  Do we use it to connect, to celebrate, and to find joy?  Do we truly see the people and things we love, or are they just our mirrors?  Or is it always some combination of these things?  Does love cease when the person or thing or god you’ve loved is ready to shift roles?

We know Trump loves an overcooked steak and the clink of a cash register, but what else does he love?  Looking at his chart, we see Venus in the emotional, affectionate sign Cancer, so we know he is attached to many people, places and objects.  But Venus is also conjunct Saturn, the planet of fear, so he is also very afraid of losing what/who he loves.  The fear leads him to work hard to maintain control, to dominate.   

But this doesn’t work when you’re trying to govern millions of people with various and immediate needs.  And it doesn’t work with the weather gods, who are waiting for us to learn how to communicate with them, to speak the wider languages of wind and rain.  They are waiting for us to be empowered by love, rather than frightened by it. 

Venus is not just the planet of love, but the planet of beauty.  And it seems to me what we need to do is stitch some beauty together – not just in art museums and manicured gardens, but in daily life for all people.  When all people live and work in places that feed the spirit, where there is air and sun and an absence of fear, then we’ll be in a place of balance with the earth.  Everything she has given us is beautiful, and when we learn to echo that beauty, we can be the lovers we were born to be.   

Friday, February 3, 2017

This Land is Our Land

It’s ironic that in the middle of this mess, when so many immigrants find themselves in limbo, that my wife finally got her green card.  So we’re staying.  We’re not running off to Canada, thank you very much. 

Of course, it has nothing to do with Trump, any more than current upticks in employment do.  But it reminds me that there is a momentum that’s already been set.  We’re moving towards a wider and more inclusive future, and we’ll get there.  It’s just that progress will be a bit slower, what with Trump amusing himself with all the shiny knobs in the driver’s seat.

The Women’s March was also encouraging.  Half a million women, a crowd spotted with pink hand-knitted hats, thousands of pithy home-made signs. I felt the enormous power of women like a hand raising me up into an unmarked sky.  I moved above the rumble of dread and fear coming from this new administration.  I knew that growl of thunder was mostly bluster, that there was nothing there that could bend the human spirit. 

There’s an energizing aspect this month -  Jupiter opposing Uranus -  and this will help us avoid resistance fatigue.  But does show that things are not going to settle down in February.  Not for any of us.

So yes, Trump and his minions will probably do all kinds of outrageous things this month.  And the rest of us – people interested in a fairer and more civil society – will stay underfoot, using every tool we can call to hand.  There’s a great deal of creativity in this Jupiter/Uranus opposition. 

This aspect is basically about rules vs. anarchy.  Jupiter in Libra stands for laws, protocols, civility, and moral standards.  And yes, I have to say it.  Even though I’ve seen myself as a rule-breaker most of my life, I’m actually quite invested in the idea of a truly lawful society, one that treats everyone equally, with unhurried deliberation.  One that’s transparent and open to all. One that’s expressed in dignity and courtesy to others. 

And to some extent, we have that here.  Oh, I know the law we have is far from perfect, both in practice and in theory.  But there are some basic ideals that have become enshrined in our law and our system of government, some of them quite precious.  So we’ll be using those, relying on them.  Jupiter in Libra is also about relationships, about compromise and cooperation, and we’ll also need to master this if we are going to make positive changes in this world.   

And then there’s Uranus, planet of sudden shocking changes.  This is Trump’s specialty, mostly because he’s kind of a brat.  He doesn’t believe that any set of rules has any hold over him, and I have a feeling that some of the people who voted for him were kind of fascinated by this unbound, unfettered quality of his.  It’s the same reason we all like to look at videos of little kids and puppies.  Look at what they get away with!  Look how awkward!    

So he’s got the Uranus thing down, as we can also see by the sun/Uranus conjunction in his natal chart.  He’s got people around him trying to handle him, but they’re not generally going to succeed.  He’ll seem docile up to a point, but then he’ll turn around and do something unexpected.  And of course, you know what they say about too many cooks.  There are a lot of people around Trump, pulling strings in all different directions, so this is going to add to the flailing. 

But we have to own Uranus too.  The secret to dealing with an opposition is to find ways to express both sides of it, to bring them together.  We already are pretty good at the law side of things.  We have the ideals, the basic human sense of justice, on our side.  How do we work in the creative excitement of Uranus?  How do we keep them as off-balance as they’ve kept us? 

It’s not easy because we’re used to seeing the office of the presidency of one of authority and dignity.  That goes along with our basic respect for law.  And yes, we’re used to seeing a dignified, intelligent man there.  But Trump is doing his best to show us that the office can become an international laughingstock, and it can happen in a matter of days.  So I think we can adjust.   

So I suggest that this movement, our movement, is going to be two-pronged, in order to succeed.  You could say it’s a juggling act.  One ball is law, one is anarchy, and we need them both in the air.  We need our pinstriped lawyers, working for justice in the courts, and we need the crazy radicals, calling into question all the things we thought we knew. 

So don’t worry if some of your friends have gone completely around the bend, and are spending their time mumbling about the revolutionary things they intend to do.  Encourage them!  We need the wild-eyed ones.  Give them some ambrosia, and let’s get moving.  Let’s give our movement color and sound and excitement.  Let’s take it where we never dreamed we’d go. 

But at the same time, we have to keep our footing.  We need to be able to leap off the high wire and land upright in a world of justice, peace and equality.  We can do it.  Our net is wide.  Our net is as wide as the this land.      

Thursday, December 1, 2016


I was as freaked as you by the election results, believe me.  Successful astrological prediction requires objectivity, and I didn’t have that, so I didn’t attempt an election prediction.  But I was lulled into a sense of security by the prevailing wisdom that Hillary would win, in spite of a lingering feeling of dread whenever I considered the alternative. 

Now that dread has taken a more concrete form, and like everybody else in the world, I’m looking at least four years of backwards motion.  I’m accustomed to dealing with backwards motion, since all the planets go retrograde occasionally.  Sooner or later, they always go direct again, and move forward into new territory.  I have no doubt that this will happen in the US as well. 

But I’m still feeling a lot of grief.  I’m devastated that we’ll have a racist in the White House, after eight years with the first Black president.  I’m sorrowful that the president will be a misogynist, after a woman came so close to shattering that glass ceiling.  And I’m traumatized by the election of a confirmed con man, during a time when so many are calling for real change. 

Astrologically, I blame it on Neptune, the planet of confusion, illusion and hypnosis.  I feel that a large chunk of the country has been under a sort of spell, and I didn’t credit it because it didn’t touch me, or most of the people I know. 

Yes, for a large part of the last year, Neptune has been squaring Saturn, and so everyone has been looking for a messiah.  Trump was an unlikely leader, all surface and no content, but he recognized that it’s all about the energy you generate, and he was good at exciting crowds, especially through corralling and focusing anger.  Seen from the outside, his rallies looked eerily like the Third Reich, but experienced from the inside, they must have been as satisfying as a good work-out (although I’m sure for some people, some sick feelings lingered a while). 

People egg each other on.  And when a huckster can tap into mob mind, and get everybody yelling and screaming the same words, he’s got a lot of power at his fingertips.  With the election over, this energy is still emerging in the increased amount of harassment on the street.  This is not a myth.  A friend of mine, an almost-bald cancer survivor, has been threatened on the street because some men saw her as too androgynous.  This was in Maryland, but there are reports like this from all over the country.   

Will Trump keep fueling this anger during his presidency?  Will he keep his mob focused on a common enemy?  He’s more likely to cause pain to his own followers than to actually hurt the objects of their ire.  There will still be as many brown-skinned people sending their kids to school, as many women calling out sexual harassment, as many gay people marching, but it will be many of his own supporters who suddenly lose their health insurance or their Medicare benefits. 

But there are ways, used by all politicians, to distract voters from all the ways they’re being screwed.  One is war.  Trump may not be smart enough to think of that, but the people around him will.  So that does worry me. 

The upcoming aspect activity is setting a tone for the coming year.  There are two exact aspects in December, and both of them will be repeated twice more during 2017.  Both involve Uranus, the planet of change.  One aspect riles Uranus up, while the other settles it down.  So this is the pattern in December, and a continuing pattern.  One day, everybody is in an uproar, and the next day, calmer minds prevail.  Then, a little while later, there’s another uproar. 

The calming influence is the trine between Saturn, planet of structure, and Uranus.  This is a fiery trine, so it’s not exactly mellow, but it does harness the innovative energy of Uranus, and move it towards organizing, building systems, and long-range planning.  

This could be a description of what progressive people will be doing.  It’s a slow, steady campaign of anchoring a particular philosophy to real-life consequences.  It involves taking responsibility for specific things, educating yourself and others, and combining new technology with established wisdom.  Everyone will be practicing and teaching, but even with many shared objectives, this is not about buying into a group mind. There’s a lot of scope for individual freedom and initiative. 

This aspect doesn’t just influence political movements.  There will be plenty of business people who are able to combine a structured plan and an exciting vision of the future.  Even if the US government maintains a regressive approach to global warming, there are many individuals who will carry on towards a cleaner, greener future.  There will be both independent efforts and some loose coordination.  This movement may not involve as much screaming and yelling as the other side, but it could still be a pretty exciting place for a young innovator.

And then there’s the other aspect, the one that shakes things up, an opposition between Jupiter and Uranus.  This is all about the rebellious, restless energy of Uranus, so it signals some pitched battles.  The confrontations that are forming in December will be forerunners of those we’ll see in 2017. 

For one thing, the legal challenges that the Trump administration will have to parry may be considerable.  Already, there’s a bump in questions about Trump’s conflicts of interest, the relationship between his businesses and his new position, and some of these come from sources that are harder to ignore.  Would Trump give up his businesses to keep the presidency?  Somehow, I don’t think so.    

For progressive movements, this Jupiter/Uranus opposition signals situations in which the message can be broadcast more dramatically, through action.  We already see this at Standing Rock, where people are protecting their homes and water supply, but also making a powerful statement against additional oil delivery infrastructure.   

I’m not sure how this can end well, however, once we have a Trump presidency.  I worry that an unsympathetic president will use the indigenous people as political footballs, reviving that old cowboy vs. Indian storyline for his own use.  Remember, his supporters are happiest when they can vent their rage at a target.   

But if anything, the explosive Jupiter/Uranus opposition shows that people will not take suppression lying down.  People will be standing up and fighting for the things that matter to them.  And whether we win or lose the open battles, the organizing work will resume, a vast underground network of practical, concentrated intention.  

Storms can come along and shake a tree, and sometimes they can topple it.   But it’s the length and depth of the roots that give it stability.  So for this month, and for the next year, my advice to everyone is to find your place somewhere in those roots.