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

Aftermath


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.    


Friday, October 28, 2016

Halloween and Hillary

Here we are, finally at the brink of November.  I’m not sanguine, I’m still at the edge of my seat, even though all polls say that Hillary Clinton will win.  I’m not objective enough to make any kind of astrological prediction about that. 

However, at the end of the month, I do expect to have a female president-elect, for the first time in the history of the U.S.  Not just a woman, but the one who said, “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” It’s a great speech, I just reread it. (http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/hillaryclintonbeijingspeech.htm)  

In a couple of days, it will be Halloween, the quintessential woman’s holiday.  Like many other holidays, it began as an important pagan celebration, but unlike the others, it’s never been entirely papered over with Christian imagery.  In astrological symbolism, this time of year – the sun’s passage through Scorpio – is connected with what is hidden.  It’s the time when what lies underneath comes most alive.    

The pagan tradition is one that values the natural world.  This is an interconnected world which keeps its balance through a constant cycle of giving and receiving.  This philosophy has been largely replaced, in much of the globe, by one of hierarchy and exploitation, with women disrespected, equated with the earth and nature.  And now we are so out of balance that we are in the process of destroying our own habitat and our species. 

Looking under the surface,  I see an ancient and holistic tradition buried under centuries of patriarchal dogma.  I see oppression directed towards women’s bodies, softness and vulnerability met with violence. 

I am not so naïve as to think a woman president will allow us to retrace our steps to that earlier time.  There have been women in power before, and Hillary Clinton is a woman of acute contradictions.  She has worked hard on women’s and children’s issues, but she’s been attacked relentlessly whenever she dropped the “traditional feminine” pose and showed her strength.  And so she has lost much of her own spontaneity and trust along the way.  It’s not surprising. 

This election has been a real test of feminism, not just because Hillary Clinton is the first woman to approach the US presidency, but because her opponent is such a misogynist.  He pretty much covers all the classic misogynist postures.  He belittles women, condescends to them, exploits them sexually, and is clearly grossed out by all female bodily functions.  His posture of unrelenting dominance is an illustration of one of the most dangerous tendencies of modern humankind.

He represents something that must be peeled away, in order for us to regain our connection to the earth.  We need to rediscover what is hidden beneath, the underlying ground of human emotion.  In this Scorpio season, we can turn to Hillary Clinton, a woman with the sun, Mercury and Venus in this sign. 

I also have a Scorpio sun, and I completely understand Hillary’s desire to keep parts of herself secret, to control what the world sees of her.  This is the sign of people who feel intensely but do not reveal easily.  And Hillary Clinton has the moon in Pisces, the most sensitive of water signs, so she is doubly vulnerable on the personal level.  No wonder she approaches everything so carefully and strategically. 

And this mistrust is met with a certain amount of mistrust on the part of the people.  What’s underneath that reserve?  For many people, it feeds into their conspiracy theories.  They say she’s murdered people, plotted against anyone who challenges her, frozen people’s hearts with a glance.  They say that she’s a witch, an excuse for persecution that goes back centuries.  They say she’s a practicing lesbian. (We’re considered dangerous because we’re harder to bribe.)   

To walk in the halls of power, you need strong armor.  Hillary has that.  And still, through her life, she’s put much of her energy into the bottom-line issues that have to do with easing suffering.  So, as I prepare to go to the polls, I’m thinking:  More power to her. 

This month, there’s a square between Jupiter in Libra and Pluto in Capricorn.  Pluto is the ruler of Scorpio, and the planet of shadows, underground rivers, deep transformations, secret powers, and unconscious desires.  Jupiter, on the other hand, focuses on what is overt, prominent, and socially acceptable. 

Jupiter also represents the people’s picture of themselves, the philosophy of a community. With Jupiter squaring Pluto, there will be growing tension between the outer image that the country is presenting, and what’s going on underneath.  After the election, I can see the Republicans starting right away to conspire to retake power, to try to reestablish their past empires.  But there could also be healthier and more holistic movements tunneling underneath, like earthworms aerating a garden.   

And I’m sure there will be some overt grabs for power, as well.  At the point where I’m standing, this crossroads between a woman and a woman-hater, I’m still not sure what will happen.  I’m as nervous as a temple healer, watching soldiers from the North destroy statues of the Goddess, knowing they will destroy women next.  This old fear and anger is buried too, and I hope it has been composted into wisdom by the ages.  I don’t want revenge, only a world where both young and old women are free, freer than even men are now.    

And in this coming month, I’m ready for whatever my deep self has to teach me.   


Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Basics


“I’m worried about the big march in Venezuela today.  I hope it doesn’t turn violent.”

My wife, sitting on the edge of the bed, reached down to tie her shoes.  This is the interlude when we check in with each other – after her morning shower, after I make the bed, before she drives off to work, before I make myself breakfast and start writing.  We talk about our dreams, our plans, the world, anything we’re thinking about.  Often she’s thinking about Venezuela, her homeland. 

“When does the march begin?” I asked. 

“It’s already begun.” She told me that people have been coming into Caracas for days, including tribal leaders from the Amazon who led a ritual this morning.  She paused to send me links to a bunch of newspapers and websites - El País, El Tiempo, BBC Mundo.  I read that they’re calling this event The Taking of Caracas, and that they’re expecting a million people in the streets.    

I tell her, “It’s a powerful day today, with a solar eclipse.  That doesn’t necessarily mean it will be peaceful.  But it does mean something important is beginning.”

The highway from the airport – a highway that my wife used to travel every day to go to work, a steep but beautiful highway with a view of the Caribbean sea to the north – is now taken over with tanks and anti-riot equipment. Demonstrators are coming in on buses, although sometimes these buses are held up by police roadblocks.  It’s safer to be riding in the buses of people recruited by the government for a counter-demonstration.  Opposition leaders have been jailed, or moved from house arrest to prison.  

They are saying that the march will be peaceful.  They’re marching for a referendum which could revoke the powers of the president, something that’s allowed in the constitution.  But the government is drawing parallels between today’s march and the rally in 2002 that turned into a coup, temporarily ousting Hugo Chávez.  Earlier this week, all TV stations were obligated to show a documentary about that event, entitled “Keys to a Massacre”. 

The march’s goals seem fairly abstract.  The referendum is being held up by the government’s electoral body, and once it's allowed to proceed, the signatures of  20% of the voting population will be collected, and this will force a new vote.  But the basic issues are not abstract.  Food has shifted from a basic human need to a challenging struggle, involving being in the right place at the right time, standing in line for hours, managing not to get robbed, and still getting ripped off in the end by monstrous inflation.   

And this eclipse in Virgo is all about the basics – nutrition, health, daily life.  It’s about the little things which, day by day, become the foundation of the future.  What kind of future is built on fear, anger and scarcity?  A solid foundation comes from children with strong bones, the free time to learn new things, and the good will that comes from a full stomach. 

So we are at a crossroads.  Which future are we engaged in building?  There is an eclipse at the new moon today, and another eclipse at the full moon on September 16.  Both of these engage the Virgo/Pisces axis, the tension between small details and larger visions.  The Virgo side boils down to:  how do we make it work?  How do we organize our society so that it gives us the basics that we need?  The Pisces side is about empathy, compassion, and spiritual awareness, the softening agents that encourage us to work for the common good. 

In addition, Mercury is retrograde for most of the month, until September 22.  So the focus is on reclaiming.  There may be many important inventions that haven’t yet been developed, and that will play a crucial part in our future.  But there are many more methods and techniques that we already know about, things we don’t use because there’s no profit involved.  We need to reclaim these basic skills.  We need both Virgoan skills – how can we do it better? – and Piscean skills – how do we connect to each other and create one shared, peaceful earth? 

In addition, Jupiter changes signs in September, something that only happens once a year.  The Jupiter sign points to social preoccupations, and gives a particular direction to collective improvements.  For the past year, Jupiter’s been in Virgo.  What have we seen during this time?  For one thing, and for the first time, all nations agreed to reduce climate emissions at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Will the commitments made there be enough to save us as a species?  Maybe, maybe not.  But Virgo is all about small steps.  At least we’re trying to figure out a sustainable way to live on this planet. 

This month – on September 9 – Jupiter is entering Libra, a much more abstract sign.  At its best, it’s the sign of equality, peace and partnership, and we can hope for new peace initiatives and a stronger commitment to justice. 

But while Libra is a sign that fosters cooperation, it can also give a tendency to try to be all things to all people.  Libra gives the ability to see both sides of any equation, and this can give a gift for compromise and diplomacy, but it can also mean endless debate and argument.  You can see this with Donald Trump, who has Jupiter in Libra, and is skilled at playing different factions against each other.

Is it good for Trump that Jupiter is entering the sign it occupied when he was born?  I have to say yes.  Does this mean he’ll win?  I certainly hope not!  I have to note that Bill Clinton has Jupiter in Libra, and it was in this sign when he won the presidency.  But I’m not despairing.  Hopefully it just means that the election and its aftermath will make Trump richer than ever, and that will count as a win in his book. 

What will Jupiter in Libra mean for the opposition in Venezuela?   This sign tends towards balance between opposing social elements, so it won’t necessarily mean an immediate victory.  However, we can look to Venezuela in 1945.  Then, under Jupiter in Libra, there was a coup by Acción Democrática, a party that was still operating in Venezuela when I lived there fifty years later.  So sometimes the balance shifts. 

The eclipses of September do signal a change. For those living in the most unbalanced places in the world, this shift could just be a matter of a million people congregating in the street, giving weight to their basic human need for sustenance.  We humans been coming together to help each other eat for millennium;  it’s something we do.  But when we obstruct each other’s access to food, something has to give. 


Monday, August 1, 2016

The Real and the Unreal

We’ve been going through a period of hype, hope, glamour and confusion, with the Saturn/Neptune square, and it’s not over yet.  In fact, it won’t be over until early October, giving people one short month to come to their senses before the election. 

Saturn is the Crone planet, the one that represents the Wise Elder.  It’s all about the ability to take responsibility, to build clear structures, to discipline yourself in order to reach certain goals.  Saturn is the planet of caution, experience, and realism, so it’s pretty clear which candidate is more Saturnine. 

On the other side is Neptune, the planet of mysticism and imagination.  Neptune represents the fantastic illusions of, say, the Wizard of Oz.  Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.  But even though he keeps making awkward moves and showing who he really is, the glamour holds.  He could shoot somebody and they’d still vote for him.  That’s the magic of pixie dust, a lovely blurry filter made up of expensive suits, good television angles, and spontaneous superlatives. 

To be adult, or to live in a fantasy?  That’s the choice that’s underlined by the Saturn/Neptune square. 

Of course, there’s another way to see this.  Saturn is also the planet of limits, restrictions, and fears.  It represents an earthy reality, enclosed within a set of established laws.  It gives little room for change.  It’s safe, but maybe too safe?

Neptune, on the other hand, is odd, tricky, fey, with the ability to change its shape.  It represents the yearning for something cosmic and beautiful, something beyond our current choices.  A celestial city, a dream of peace.  And there’s nothing Neptunian about the brutish tendencies shown by the Republican candidate.  So you could say that Bernie is the Neptunian choice, and the impossibility of him being elected just adds to that - because Neptune is the planet of beautiful fantasies. 

Bernie himself is a much earthier and more pragmatic guy.  He’s got a lot of air signs in his natal chart, so he’s definitely an idealist, but he’s not particularly woolly or dreamy.  With his Neptune conjunct the north node in Virgo, his destiny in this life is to attract dreamers and then point them towards concrete, human-sized solutions to problems.  This has been somewhat flattening for some of his supporters.

With every illusion, disillusionment naturally follows.  This is not to say that dreams don’t sometimes come true, but this only happens when there are at least a few real, solid ingredients in the formula.  Since Bernie is an earthy guy, his candidacy didn’t lack for concrete proposals, and there’s a good chance that most of them will be adopted through the years.  But the illusion was that this country was ready for a revolution, an actual dramatic restructuring of the economic hierarchy by a Socialist.  And the people who are in the worst shape, who might be ready for revolution, don’t necessarily want an old white guy leading the charge.

On the other side, the Republican candidate has nothing particularly solid in his repertoire, so there’s really nowhere for his acolytes to go when it all falls apart.  He brings up a nostalgia for a time that was simpler for white folks, when the rules were clear and nobody else had any rights to speak of.  His constituency consists of a bunch of people whose time has passed, but who are unwilling or unable to embrace another way of living.  

You could say that Neptune is about living in service to a dream.  Some dreams may be worth serving, because they make you and other people happy.  I think artists embody this.  But there are other kinds of unreal constructs that are less innocent, and racism is one of these.  It’s a world view that postulates all kinds of magic powers to one group, and pins unwieldy caricatures and angry projections onto others.  This country has been caught in this bad dream, this skein of illusions which is going through a long, slow unraveling process.  And those who are clinging to it are destined to fall the hardest.     

But as Neptune weaves its spell on us, Saturn keeps finding the words, ideas, and practical necessities that bring us down to earth.  Saturn is about looking around you and seeing what’s really going on, and because of that, Saturn can be damned depressing.  This is not an easy time for a lot of people, and it’s probably easiest for those who are most removed from reality.  So if you’re feeling some pain, congratulate yourself.  You’re dealing. 

In August, Saturn stations, which means it appears to hold still.  It stays at 9° Sagittarius for most of the month, so if you have any planet close to 9° in any mutable sign (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius or Pisces), you’ll be more affected by this square.  You’ll be feeling Saturn’s static voice in your bones, while Neptune’s haunting tones seduce you at odd moments. 

But for all of us, this is a time when we're aware of the two sides of this conflict.  Saturn says, “This is the world.  Get used to it!” and Neptune says, “None of this is real at all.”  Can we find a meeting place between these two voices?  Can we find magic in the world, and a little more of the world in our magic?  Can we be gentle with ourselves as our bubbles burst, rather than castigating ourselves as fools, or seeing the world as too sharp and cruel? 

It’s just the world:  a rocky place with enough gravity to keep us anchored here, while strange thought-balloons drift over our heads.  The wind catches them and they turn into wisps:  feelings and memories and stories. We have to let them go.  There will always be more.