Friday, June 29, 2018

Going I Know Not Where

This afternoon, in my kitchen, there was a guy taking the screws out of the panel at the back of the freezer.  He’s one of those people who can fix anything. 

“Ah,” he says, “There’s your problem.  Ice built up in here.” He fixes it, I pay him, he leaves.  Great, I can eat lunch.  Ten minutes later, halfway through my cheese sandwich,  I go back into the kitchen, and there’s a growing puddle on the floor. 

I call the guy.  “It’s still not fixed.”

He says, “Whaat?  Okay, I’ll be right back.”

He comes back, he shines a light on the back of the fridge, finds a disconnected line, cleans out a pool of accumulated water under the vegetable drawer.  “Okay, now it’s fixed.”

I’m almost afraid to go back down there.  Then there’s my computer.  Acting weird on Tuesday, becoming unresponsive every five minutes.  Less weird yesterday, when I was talking to my brother-in-law, the Computer Whisperer.  Today I turn it on, no problem.  Except after I finish lunch, I come back up to the Black Screen of Death.  I force the computer to turn off, wait ten minutes, turn it on, and now it seems fine.  But is it really?  Or is it just waiting until I relax? 

Mars is retrograde.  Nothing is quite sure if it’s coming or going.  Even my brain seems to be doing a sort of circle dance, clicking on and off, going off on tangents until I can reel it back towards the matter at hand.   It’s exhausting.  And my stomach doesn’t seem happy with the cheese sandwich.

What am I complaining about?  I shouldn’t complain when everything is going to hell all around me.  Trump World is even worse than we thought it would be, in all our moments of heightened dread.  But still, we start where we are – in our bodies, our families, our kitchens, our own worlds.  This is where we feel the dissonance of retrograde Mars, the sense that we’re on a road that’s doubling back on itself and maybe going nowhere after all. 

Panic mode seems to be setting in for many, with Justice Kennedy announcing his retirement.   On my phone, stories show up detailing what it’s like in countries where abortion has remained illegal.  Doctors are pressured to break confidentiality and report any woman whose miscarriage seems suspicious.  Women, especially those who are poor, avoid seeking medical help when their pregnancies become complicated, since a trip to the doctor could mean years in prison.

Some friends are withdrawing, taking sabbaticals from the news.  “I just can’t take any more.  I’m going to reread The Little Prince, and stay away from the phone and the TV for at least a week.  Maybe two.  Maybe forever.”  It’s an understandable urge. 

The sun is gentle, sensitive, empathic, when it’s in Cancer, the sign ruled by the moon.  We’re all feeling a little more tender than usual.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the wheel are Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn, representing the craggy face of pragmatic reality.  So this is a month in which the softness of moon and the hardness of Saturn are in conflict. 

The problems of immigrant families became a flashpoint, as Venus moved into Cancer on May 19, Mercury on June 12, and the sun on June 21.  The moon’s heightened empathy brought the issue to the forefront of public consciousness.  Cries of abandoned children were recorded, and some heart-wrenching photos of frightened toddlers taken.  Trump was actually forced to back down, although he did it in his usual half-assed way, forcing immigration officials and courts to basically wing it. 

The word used most often to describe this policy was “cruel”.  And Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn (the sign ruled by Saturn) do seem to point to cruelty.  In mythology, Saturn is associated with the Devil, and most often this is about putting one’s one greed, ambition and appetites above compassion for others.  Maybe this is the basic flaw in humankind, but it’s definitely the central problem in our time. 

Essentially, Saturn is about building structures to anchor us here on this planet, structures that keep us safe, and that ward away hunger and cold and fear.  However, when you build a structure, you have to maintain it, and that also goes for the fixed patterns of law, traditions, beliefs, and privileges.  Anything that threatens the structure needs to be mercilessly suppressed.  Right now, the tears of children are the most potent threat against Saturn’s rigid structures. Water is always a match for rock, as long as it rises high enough.      

The moon is the planet of populism, while Saturn is the planet of authoritarianism.  The moon can be very tribal, because you respond mostly to the people who are right around you.  But in this immigration crisis, these children were right there, on the TV and on our phones.  Many people, especially women, feel the immediate instinct to protect a child whenever they see one in trouble.  It’s not surprising that every living first lady spoke out against the practice of separating children from their parents. 

Jeff Sessions is very Saturnine:  he has the sun and Mars in Capricorn. His moon is also in Capricorn and further hardened by inconjunct aspects to Saturn and Pluto.  For him, having a heart is not as important as holding authority and maintaining tradition. 

But what about Trump?  He has three planets in Cancer.  Why is he not more sympathetic?  I think for him, the tribalism of Cancer prevails, and he only sees his own children and grandchildren as cute.  He’s definitely a sentimental guy with a strong attachment to family, and you may remember that Tony in the Sopranos was like that too.   It didn’t stop him from whacking people. 

There are a couple of other factors in Trump’s chart that overshadow his sympathies, as well, and that strengthen his ego and sense of entitlement.  But he would probably respond to a hurt baby by making goo-goo noises and maybe even picking it up (although probably for a photo op).  Meanwhile, Sessions is more likely to grimace and call for ankle shackles.  The guy is cold. 

So what about Mitch McConnell?  Is he happy now?  Actually, it looks like establishing the McConnell Precedent, blocking Merrick Garland, was a very easy thing for him to do.  But it won’t be so easy to keep it from being used against him.

McConnell has seven planets in fixed signs, so he doesn’t like to budge unless he absolutely has to.  He can hold on to a position practically forever, until the grass grows over the cows.  What he’s not really good at is getting things moving.  He has no cardinal signs at all, which makes me wonder whether the guy has ever initiated anything?  A google search shows me that he has been torpid most of his life, except for running for office.  All his Taurus planets keep him in touch with moneyed interests, and that’s all he needs in order to win. 

So I’m more hopeful than I was when I got the news about Kennedy’s retirement.  I think it may be possible to turn McConnell’s static energy against him, and block this Supreme Court nomination until after the midterms.  And I have to be hopeful about the midterms, I don’t have a choice.  Mars goes direct in August -  and so by September, our plans should come together.  No longer will we be roaming around in ever-widening circles.  Maybe, just maybe, we can pull this train back onto its tracks.  Maybe the tide will do it for us.  

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Uranus Enters Taurus

Taurus rules the throat, and as soon as the sun entered Taurus, I came down with bronchitis.  This is never a robust time of year for me, since I was born with the sun in the opposite sign.

But how can this be?, I ask myself.  Who would prefer dank and shadowy November?  This time of year (at least, here in the northern hemisphere)  is so lush, so brilliantly green.  The azaleas are finally blooming.  Everything is redolent of life.  I don’t see lambs cavorting on our lawn, but that’s only because there’s no room for them, what with all the bunnies frolicking. 

Of course, I’ll feel better when my throat isn’t so scratchy.

Taurus is the most fixed of the earth signs.  Of course, no season is fixed, and this bright moment is already priming its replacement.  But this is the time of year when people build – homes, barns, gardens, farms.  Humans see a lot of good stuff happening around them, and have an insatiable desire to make it permanent.  If there’s wood, there needs to be a shelter, or a shed, or a gazebo, or something.  If there’s clay near the river, let’s make bricks and build something even longer-lasting.

And so Taurus is the sign most intimately connected with value.  We work, and there is value in our working.  We make things, they are solid and material, and we own them.  The cow has a calf, and this should be a signal to start dancing around celebrating the miracle of life, right?  Okay, maybe, but the next thing is to add one more stick figure  to our cattle count.   The richness of the earth makes us rich. 

Nobody who lives on this earth can dispute the value of the material world.  We live by our connection to the fruits of the earth, and the better we are at building and growing, the more luxurious our lifestyles.  Who doesn’t want to lie down at night on a feather mattress, rather than a bed of sticks?  Even the most cerebral, spacy or disconnected among us feel that sigh running through their bodies, when we give ourselves pleasure and comfort. 

Sometimes I think there is one danger and one danger only, and that’s narrowness of vision.  Of course, that is a pretty narrow way of looking at it. 

Still, toxic materialism is born from the belief that only the material matters, that there is nothing else important besides the accumulation of wealth.  This gives us this strange lopsided world, in which life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are treated as scanty commodities, and sold off to the highest bidder.  People are well because they can pay for health care, and they’re free when they can buy their way out of prisons.    

So now Uranus is about to enter the sign Taurus.  It’s been 84 years since this happened, folks, so this is momentous.  I’m shocked myself by how fast it’s coming up – it will be here on May 15.

Uranus’ specialty is to break things up, to liberate, to shock, to revolutionize.  And now it’s going to enter the sign of capital, Taurus.  Does that mean it’s end days for capitalism?  Unfortunately, I think it will take more than a few 84-year cycles to accomplish this.  But as we look back on Uranus’ last sojourns in Taurus, we can see that the economic pictures has been radically changed every time. During the seven years that Uranus stays in this sign, established patterns are broken (or sometimes just beaten down) and new ones are established.   

In 1517, Uranus was in Taurus when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door, making the first rift in the Catholic Church’s absolute economic power.  Uranus was also in Taurus in 1606, when Guy Fawkes tried to take down the British parliament, an event that was converted into a rowdy holiday, celebrated ever since.  (I always wonder why they celebrate this?)

You might even say that Uranus was in Taurus when the Almighty Dollar was born, since it was there in 1690 when the first paper money was issued by Massachusetts.  They were still a colony, so this was a radical act.  And Uranus was back in Taurus in 1773, when all that tea went into the harbor, and when the colonists got all antsy on the question of taxation. 

The cruel Southern plantation system didn’t come apart when Uranus was in Taurus between 1851 and 1858, but it was losing ground at a fast clip.  Harriet Tubman was doing everything she could to break it apart, as she dipped in and out of the shadows and rescued people.   And “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was published by Harriet Beecher Stowe during this period, helping to raise the consciousness of white people.  Meanwhile, in London, Marx was writing about the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The last time that Uranus was in Taurus (1935 to 1941) things were pretty bleak economically, as the Dust Bowl grew ever dustier.  (And now I’m recalling that when I first started researching this, I noticed a drought in Tsarist Russia that killed two million people, between 1601 and 1603. Does the earth get angry and rebel when the planet of change is in this earthiest of signs?) 

And of course, there was Hitler, the last time Uranus was in Taurus -  taking advantage of a general economic malaise, flouting the Treaty of Versailles, and consolidating his power. A law-breaking leader with authoritarian tendencies – does that ring a bell, anybody? 

Looking at the lessons that history gives us, I’m struck by the two different ways that big systems can come apart.  Sometimes an old, decadent system dies because a newer one has come along, but the new one is equally oppressive.  The wealth and power change hands, but nobody is better off.

At the same time, there are always possibilities at these times of transition.  When a big, powerful system is developing its fissures, things are wide open for just a moment.  Maybe not wide open, but more open.  The difficulty is that everybody is scrabbling for a foothold, and it’s easy to fall back on panicked and selfish survival patterns. 

Somehow, we have to keep a better way in mind.  It’s not complicated, and when intricate graphs and diagrams are presented to us, there’s a good chance someone is trying to obfuscate these basic truths.  All people need the essentials  – food, water, shelter, health care, support for their family members, and safety from violence.  We can share the wealth of this lush earth.  And after this, we can talk about what else we want to build.      

Friday, March 2, 2018

Happy Holi!

The wind’s voice was so loud that it woke me just after dawn this morning. Now it’s an overcast afternoon, and branches fly around outside my window.  I feel lucky that we haven’t lost power yet.  Some of the little trees across the street, by the stream, have cracked open and fallen, but the big trees in our yard are all safe, so far.   

Elsewhere in the world, they’re celebrating the Hindu spring festival of Holi, during which people fling water and colored powders at each other.  People abandon themselves to their feelings, and let everything fly, just like the wind is doing right now. 

Listening to the wind’s voice, I think about the poets, the ones who allow their emotions to color the world around them.  I embrace all of them, from the rappers to the tea-sippers.  And thinking of them, I realize that the wind has many voices, all woven together, and that’s what gives it its power.

This is the month when all kinds of feelings emerge, a potpourri of conflicting and harmonizing emotion, impossible to contain.  As March begins, the sun is with Neptune, the planet of poetry, drugs, rainbows, magic, illusion, rhythm, and hypnosis.  The sun and Neptune are in Pisces, the sign of porous boundaries and sensitive connections. 

And so you might as well just fling up your arms and dance.  Dance like nobody’s watching, because nobody really is.  Like you, everyone else is entranced by their own visions and intuitions.  There is so much beauty pouring over all of us, nobody has an inclination to judge or complain. 

Of course, not every emotion is welcome, and the suffering can feel overwhelming too.  We can feel pierced by the sadness of others, not just by our own fears and regrets, whether we know the person or not.  We have all been there.  And some particle of our being is still there.   

The walls are missing these days, and we can be undone by any random thought-form that drifts in the window.  There are parts of ourselves that normally hold back this tide of awareness, but they are not working as efficiently.  The shape-shifting planets in Pisces are crowding out the planets of form and structure, like Saturn. 

Right now, we do have one fiery planet that provides contrast.  Mars has been in Sagittarius, making hard aspects to the Pisces planets, sparking anger, passion, and commitment.  It challenges Pisces’ nebulous and chaotic tendencies.  The newest iteration of the anti-gun movement, kick-started by young people, is making use of Mars in this energetic fire sign.  Sagittarius is the Archer, targeting a particular goal, and that goal is an undermining of the gun culture that ruins so many lives.  

But the strong Pisces influence is not going to last much longer, either.  In about a week, an exodus of planets from Pisces to Aries will begin, and it will continue all month.  It’s a dramatic transition, the change from the last sign of the zodiac (Pisces) to the first (Aries).  It’s like being just a speck in the universe one minute, grooving on the whole, and then suddenly finding yourself being born:  an egg, an individual, a tight focus of consciousness. 

Aries also gives a strong desire for expression, and so it continues to be a good month for poets and other artists.  For Pisces, it’s the connection to the spheres that makes for song and dance, in a world where everything is possible because it’s all there.  For Aries, nothing is there – yet.  It must be created.  Aries makes the first brushstroke, the first word, the first note. 

So as the Aries influence grows stronger, the energy becomes more purposeful and pointed.  People are bolder, more fired up. This can only help the anti-gun movement, as well as other revolutionary movements that have been gathering strength recently. 

But the Aries planets will also focus the energies of the pro-gun factions.  In some ways, it favors them, because Aries is the sign of the Warrior.  The main challenge during this time will be to avoid aping the tactics of the other side, since methods are always intrinsically linked to results.  Do we have to fight for an end to fighting?  Do we have to shoot the other side down, when they extol the joys of shooting?  Do we need people to stand up, to take on the Lone Hero role, when we’re trying to move beyond that often oppressive masculine archetype?   

How can we do this, without becoming what we hate?  How can we go beyond hate itself?  That is what these Pisces planets teach us.  In art and poetry, dance and color, we learn how emotion flows and winds itself around all of us, leaving no-one out.  As we move onward to make change in the world, this is what we need to remember.   

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Half the Circle

This looks a bit lop-sided.  Throughout most of February, all the planets are on one side of the sky wheel;  the other side is empty. So for example, when the sun is setting, all the other planets are in the western half of the sky as well.  And when it’s rising, all the other planets are in the east.  Like a bunch of true believers, a bunch of sycophants.  Like Congress these days.   

After February 22, the moon breaks away and ventures into the empty half of the sky.  But until then, it hangs out with the others, forming what’s called a “bowl” pattern.

In an astrological chart, a bowl pattern gives a great deal of certainty. All planets occupy the same reality, and reinforce each other, and there is no access at all to “the other side”, the empty side.  There can be a sense that there’s something missing, but since it’s not clear what that is, a person with a bowl chart tends to double down on what she/he knows to be true. 

This is not to say that there’s anything intrinsically bad about this pattern.  Because a person with a bowl chart isn’t distracted by many contradictions, she can be particularly confident, creative and focused.  She knows what she knows, and acts on it.  Certainty is very partial to manifestation.

At the same time, that certainty is based on a fallacy.  Even if the person doesn’t see or understand it, there is a whole unexplored half-world out there.  There is a field of experience equal to her own, one that might challenge her convictions.  And if she doesn’t know it exists, she can’t go there. 

Successful politicians often have bowl charts, an advantage because they don’t have to waste energy pretending to consider inimical viewpoints.  Donald Trump has this pattern in his chart, as do some of his nearest and dearest: Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, and Kim Jong-Un.  The Duvaliers (Baby Doc and Papa Doc) had it, as did Slobodan Milosevic and Hugo Chávez. 

But before you get the wrong idea about this not-so-common planetary pattern, note also that it’s a signature in the charts of Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Cady Stanton,  Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Eugene McCarthy, Bill Clinton, Al Sharpton, Bernie Sanders, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Assata Shakur. A singular vision can magnify flaws, but it can also give courage, idealism, and commitment.    

So, during the next month, people are more likely to center themselves in a particular viewpoint, and not budge from it.  The planetary configuration makes it easy for all of us to see what’s all around us, supporting our position, and renders the opposite stance invisible. 

We will all find reasons to be right.  Those with fiery charts will be on the moral high ground, while those with earthy charts will claim that there’s only one practical possibility.  Airy folks will have lots of reasonable arguments, while watery people will base it all on gut feelings.  All of this begs the question:  what if the other side is making equally valid points?    

Lately, I’ve been dealing with many expressions of passionate certainty in a lesbian writers’ group.  The issue of transgender acceptance has come up, and this has been a divisive issue for the lesbian community for many years.  Michfest, our long-time women’s festival, beloved by many lesbians, floundered largely on this point. 

I’ve followed this discussion with great interest.  I have good friends – people I respect -  with diametrically opposite stances.  And so I have been trying to see both sides of this struggle.  That’s my intent, and sometimes I manage it, and sometimes not so much.      

On the one side, trans women are people, and exclusion is hurtful.  They’ve dedicated years and money and energy to becoming women.  There’s no going back.  Why can’t they just be accepted? 

On the other side, women have struggled for years to divorce womankind from all gender expectations, and when men start to identify as women, often they dive into these female trappings with great alacrity.  At the same time, they may be unconscious of such male tendencies as centering their own comfort in every situation.  This is by no means intrinsic to maleness;  it’s part of being in a privileged position.  It’s learned behavior over many years, and it isn’t unlearned immediately.

I think the only solution is to recognize that gender roles are flimsy at best.  There are plenty of specific gendered situations, like menstruating and giving birth, but these events don’t usually constitute the whole of a person’s life.  So why should gender play such a big role?   Why is it such a core part of our identities? 

And I’m speaking as a feminist, as someone who has worked hard to affirm and strengthen women.  But that’s only because we’re a less-privileged class, not because of some shining star within our souls.  Like all less-privileged groups, we need to connect with our own power on a very basic level. 

And eventually, I’m thinking that all these variations in dressing and make-up will become nothing but stylistic preferences, equally available to everyone.  Meanwhile, I believe we should be kind to each other, whenever possible.  And I also believe we should tell the truth about what we feel - although sometimes those two things are not compatible with each other. 

And meanwhile, my group – after a lot of emotional discussion – has agreed to a more inclusive approach.  This is not just an opening for trans women. It turns out that many of us feel “othered” for many reasons, judged as “not a real lesbian”, or even “not a real woman”. And many others are foraging around for non-traditional words and pronouns to describe ourselves.  Making room for misfits acknowledges that none of us really fits.

But who knows?   Perhaps I too am only seeing my half of the grapefruit, and thinking that that’s the way the fruit dropped from the tree.  

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A Cold Beginning

It’s a new year, and my fingers are rusty on this keyboard after the holidays.  It’s very cold outside.  I went outside to brush away the snow, so that it won’t freeze on the walkways, and then more snow fell, so then I had to do it again.   I’ve got a snowblind variety of déjà vu.

Why does our Gregorian calendar begin in winter?  Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to begin new years with the spring equinox?  Maybe then we would feel more optimistic about new beginnings.  It’s hard to be cheerful when icicles are dripping off your nose. 

In our calendar, the new year always appears as a cold dunking into reality, since the year begins with the sun in Capricorn.  And 2018 is an extra-Capricornian year, with Saturn and Pluto lingering in this sign.  By the time we get to the new moon at mid-January, there will be six planets in Capricorn. 

Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, and so this is a very Saturnine year.  Saturn is all about scarcity and deprivation, about contraction and resistance, and so these will be the motifs of the coming year.  The Resistance that we saw in 2017 was still fairly robust, but as resources get tighter, as the economic flow slows, we’ll see a different kind of Resistance in 2018.  It will be leaner and meaner, more entrenched, more efficient.   

As we stand poised at the edge of this Saturnine year, let’s look more closely at Saturn.  Of all the planets used in astrology, Saturn is most often interpreted as bad luck or bad news.  I’ve been studying my own transiting aspects for forty years, and I’ve had my share of bad Saturn trips.  Pain, anger, paralysis, depression, disillusionment, and despair -  these are all associated with hard Saturn aspects. 

So Saturn is connected to suffering.  And suffering is something that all humans endure, an intrinsic part of our path as physical beings.  We are tied to this wheel from the moment of our births.  We’re constrained by time and space, by the needs of our bodies, by the webs of responsibility we inherit.  Once we are here, there’s no second-guessing – and Mother Nature plays her part here, giving us the same instinct to live as every other creature.

Saturn is about form.  Having achieved form as living beings, what do we do now?  What forms are essential, and will maintain this life?  What forms make us safer, and ward away danger?  Saturn builds and maintains structures – fences, walls, turrets, towers.  These reflect our need to be placed somewhere;  they symbolize our physical existence here, in our bodies and on our planet. 

And if we were snails, we would be happy with our strong Saturnine structures, and never feel constrained by them.  But we are not often content to live enclosed, secure lives.  And so Saturn is perceived as painful – restricting, binding, freezing, calcifying.  If we look in our pasts, we can see ourselves building these structures.  When did they become our jails? 

To protect the forms we build, we enshrine them, one way or another.  They become further walled by truisms, rules, traditions, religion, or law.  And those of us who are most invested in them will guard them most zealously.  This makes perfect sense, remembering that every form symbolizes our bodies.  If this seems too abstract, think of how often in human history the laws have fallen, and the streets filled with blood.

But there is no mercy in these walls.  There is no poetry.  And there is so much fear built into each stone. 

In this Saturnine year, more stripped-down forms will predominate.  What is it that promotes survival?  It’s clear that there’s no security in gilded palaces full of foppish kings and bitter gossiping couriers.  A great deal of trickery will not survive Saturn’s scythe.  This year is like a winter storm, reducing everything to its basic principles. 

We will be looking back, far back - way beyond the years that are celebrated by racists and red-hatters.  We need to remember how the crones did it, in the dawn of time. How did they practice right livelihood?  How did they bring the sacred into their daily lives?  What did they do with their fear?

There’s a humbling in this, and it will come to all of us.  Saturn is the Teacher, and so we all need to learn how to learn.  This means opening our minds.  And perhaps we can echo that in our structures, giving them more light and air, more choices and possibilities.  

Friday, December 1, 2017

One Change Revisited, One Change Coming

Well, Jupiter in Scorpio is definitely doing its work.  Do you remember a couple of months ago when I wrote about deep personal and social traumas coming to light under this sign? 

And now, old wounds have opened for many women.  This happened to me too, although it’s been many, many years since I was the victim of a sexual assault.  But when I wrote “me too”, memories came pouring back, and I found myself depressed and angry.  As more and more women wrote those two little words, emotions built and swept over all of us.  We stopped seeing it as our personal Waterloo, and understood – not just intellectually, but emotionally – that it really had little to do with us as individuals.  

It was the way it was back then.  It was the backdrop, the wallpaper that nobody notices because it never changes.  All women dealt with this, mostly by becoming more suspicious and more self-protective.  We didn’t talk that much about it, because there was always some shame attached to these experiences.  After all, we were told over and over back then that if men did anything to us, it’s because we “let them”.  And so for men, there were rarely any consequences to this ubiquitous form of harassment and control. 

For men, rapists fulfill the same role that the KKK does.  Not all men are rapists, just like not all white people are in the KKK.  But the effect is that all women are terrorized, just like all Black people are.  It’s rare for any young woman to feel that she is safe in this world, and that her body is entirely her own. 

But currently, we are seeing some consequences, and I hope this trend continues.  Of course, the consequences are still meager in relation to the problem.  And I’m sure this is shocking to a lot of men, who are suddenly seeing a dramatic public shift in what’s acceptable and what isn’t.  They’re forced to see these situations through the eyes of women, and they don’t end up looking like such studs.    

But hey,  Jupiter went into Scorpio, and we’ll see a lot more of this kind of thing.  It’s only been two months, and Jupiter will be in this incisive water sign for the whole year.  This is the time to go down deep into our psyches, and work on cleaning up the toxins that we’ve been living with throughout our lives. 

And yes, I know there will be some backlash, but I welcome the conversations this engenders as well.  Some people will feel sex itself is being attacked, and they’ll write long blog entries to defend passion and urgency.  And this will inspire other people to write and talk about how it really works for them, and where to draw the lines in mutually respectful ways.  I expect the S/M community to have a lot to say about all of this, since they’ve been dealing with issues of consent and permission for years. 

One thing that’s shocked me, in all of this, was reading that men so often thought sexual contact was consensual, when their partners experienced it as unwelcome.  Why are so many men so bad at reading their partners?  That doesn’t say much for any of their sexual experiences.  But maybe this is the essential work:  that men have to recognize that women’s realities and experiences are as valid and important as their own.  And that’s the basis of equality, no matter what subset of humans you’re looking at.    

And now, this month, we have another big change, as Saturn also moves into another sign, after two and a half years in Sagittarius.  Right around the winter solstice, Saturn enters Capricorn, the sign it rules.  Capricorn is a cardinal earth sign:  pragmatic, ascetic, disciplined, formal, traditional, responsible, and goal-oriented.      

At the moment of the solstice, Saturn and the sun will be very close together in the first degree of Capricorn, and the first degree of a cardinal sign is especially powerful.  It’s a gateway for new energy.  As cardinal earth, this gateway is about a fundamentally different relationship with the planet, with material forms, and with practical tools for survival.  We will all be dealing with a lot more reality. 

And yes, I’ve predicted an economic downturn for Saturn’s time in Capricorn.  As I’m writing this, the Senate is debating the Tax Bill, and this would increase the division between rich and poor in this country.  It seems to me that all of us will be tightening our belts, while the public good is distributed more and more unevenly.  Communities will have to come together to figure out the resources for their most vulnerable members, while most of the country’s cash reserves are tied up on foreign islands, doing nothing useful for anyone. 

How could this work out in the best way possible?   We’ve seen in the “Me too” trend that ideas can break like waves over everyone, and change both perceptions and outcomes.  And so there are ways in which we can reassess what is valuable to us, and what isn’t.  And we may find that we can provide what we need for each other, and that it’s better than the shiny packages advertised on TV.  We may find that we can live comfortably in reality, solving the practical problems that come up, leaning on each other, and in the process, build a different kind of world.

And probably, it will go both ways.  There will be people in hardship, people still fighting the old fights, in prisons and army bases.  And there will be people who are able to build.  They’ll build something that looks poor and humble right now, but will someday be remembered as the gateway to a stronger, healthier, more equitable world.   



Thursday, November 2, 2017

From Zealotry to Austerity

I was in New York City a couple of days ago, when Sayfullo Saipov, a young Uzbek man, drove his truck into a group of random people, mostly Argentine bikers enjoying a school reunion.  In one of the world’s most international cities, he could have hit practically anyone. 

I wasn’t near the scene of the crime, but I could feel the mood of the city shift from the cool alertness typical of New Yorkers, to shock, and then to sadness, anger and determination.  I read it on the faces of people walking by, and especially those on bikes. 

I don’t have Saipov’s birthdata, but his age is given as 29, so he was probably born in 1988, when Saturn and Uranus were traveling together, mostly in the fire sign Sagittarius.  Saturn is the planet of respectability and structure, while Uranus is about change and rebellion, so it’s not an easy pairing. There’s a tension between the desire to establish oneself solidly in society, and the equal urge to break out and do things your own way. 

Sometime in the last year, Saipov had his Saturn return, that time when a person assesses his life, and tries to figure out if he’s on the right path.  At this point, he was looking for a larger meaning, and there were people there to convince him that his God would be pleased by some random bloodshed.  Human sacrifice has a long history, after all. 

Saturn is currently in Sagittarius -  a passionate fire sign, associated with religious and political zealotry.  It’s the expansive sign of gods and heroes.  It’s about action inspired by a greater faith.  When Saturn – the planet of responsibility -  is in Sagittarius, then to act heroically is considered a basic requirement, the price you pay for your ticket here on earth.  

Many brave people have had Saturn in this sign.  This includes some of the most dynamic freedom fighters of our times – Emma Goldman, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Che Guevara, Martin Luther King, Maya Angelou, Paul Robeson, Eartha Kitt, Cesar Chavez, Mary Daly, Martina Navratilova, and Ellen Degeneres.  And Osama bin Laden was also born with Saturn in Sagittarius, and so was Yasser Arafat. So it doesn’t really say which side of which struggle you’re on.  Just that you believe in something greater, and are willing to throw yourself into the fight.    

Just nine days after Saturn entered this sign in 2015, more than two thousand people died during a stampede during the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.  These were pilgrims, people who just wanted to fulfill a religious duty, and they didn’t intend to be the human sacrifices of the day.   But Saturn doesn’t give anything without charging heavily for it, although the price is not usually one’s life. 

During Saturn’s time in Sagittarius, we’ve had a great many terrorist attacks and suicide bombings.  They’ve happened at a peace rally in Ankara, an airport in Istanbul, a concert in Manchester, a street in Mogadishu, a gay nightclub in Orlando, a promenade in Nice, and throughout Paris – and many more in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. People have given up their lives for that burst of glory, and to us, it looks meaningless, because nobody was saved, nobody was rescued, nothing changed for the better.  But for the perpetrators, it was a last-minute lunge for a glory that they couldn’t find elsewhere. 

November is Saturn’s last month in Sagittarius, and then it will move on to the practical earth sign Capricorn.  Capricorn is the sign of the survivor.  It’s an ambitious, goal-oriented sign, so it’s purposeful -  but each step is measured, careful, and pragmatic.  It tends to be cynical, rather than hopeful.  There is no rushing ahead.  There are no frills, and nothing is wasted.  Old things are reused, and that includes old traditions and principles – and because of that, Capricorn tends to be formal, respectable, and well-established.

Does this mean that things won’t change as quickly while Saturn is in Capricorn?  They are more likely to reel backwards a bit.  For example, Saturn was in Capricorn when Carrie Nation started her crusade against alcohol.  She had the sun in Sagittarius, so she was personally very zealous, but her mission was essentially a negative one.  We can expect some backtracking to a more socially conservative time, although since Saturn will only be here two and a half years, I don’t think the gay community will lose too much of the progress we’ve made - hopefully. 

Saturn was also in Capricorn when the first Texas oil gusher was discovered, leading to a huge economic shift.  Oil, as the decomposed bodies of marine animals, is both very old and very useful, and so it’s connected to efficient Capricorn.  But Capricorn is also about building blocks, so perhaps alternate energy forms will become more practical, codified, and formalized while Saturn is here.  

Capricorn is business-oriented, and there are a lot of savvy people who recognize the potential of future-oriented businesses, and who will do well.  But there will also be even more people who cling to the businesses of the past, such as coal-mining, and I expect we’ll see quite a bit of suffering around that.  Profiteers will try to hang on to their profits, while workers try to hang on to their livelihoods, and both will go down slowly, like frogs boiling in a pot.     

Saturn was in Capricorn during the first years of Great Depression, 1929 to 1932.  Unemployment reached millions in the US and Europe, and in Germany, the Nazi Party took hold.  They promised both survival and a return to a glorious past, much like Trump’s message today.  But it was also during this time that Gandhi began to practice civil disobedience, the Vietnamese Communist Party was established, and the NAACP started its anti-lynching campaign.  So there were some that saw survival as a group effort, requiring structure and organization.  And these efforts, though very strenuously opposed, eventually bore fruit.       

I’m not a specialist in economics by any means, and it’s true that there isn’t a major overturn every time that Saturn enters Capricorn.  There have been times when the things hummed along economically, and the sign has just shown itself in a more conservative, conformist social atmosphere.  However, there is often a chilling contrast when a planet moves from rambunctious, enthusiastic Sagittarius into lean, hungry Capricorn.  In 2008, we saw the economy take a sudden hit when Pluto moved from Sagittarius to Capricorn. 

Capricorn is also a sign of wisdom, because it’s connected to age and experience.  The best manifestation of Saturn in Capricorn would be a populace who is no longer fooled by the falsities of the ruling class – such as “tax reform” that mainly benefits the rich.  And if things do get bad, the best manifestation would be a return to survival skills of the past, and to a simpler but more satisfying way of living.  We’ve already seen this trend under Pluto in Capricorn.   

And do I think Saturn in Capricorn will bring down Donald Trump?  Yes, probably.  It’s a humbling sign.  But do I think that will do a whole lot of good?  No, not really.  At least not immediately.  I think it will take another six or seven years before we have a truly progressive political agenda. 

And will the spate of suicidal zealots slow down while Saturn is in Capricorn?  Zealotry is more conducive to violence than despair, it’s true, but some people will still throw away their lives and the lives of random others.  In a world of deprivation, a world of climate change refugees, some people will die just to spare their families another mouth to feed.   

All we can do is stick together, and keep working out solutions to the many practical problems that are part of our existence here.  We can work for a world in which there are many ways to find meaning.  This means small steps, not big glorious gestures.  But Saturn in Capricorn is all about small steps.  Our mission is to survive, to learn from our elders, and to keep ourselves pointed towards the future.