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.   

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A New Year: Jupiter Enters Scorpio

My wife and I have just come back from vacation, from drifting in the salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  Now we’re back to our usual routines, starting a new work week.  And yet not quite.  There’s always an inner change after immersion in the sea.  As we drift, we loosen our bones, forget our worries, surrender everything to the rhythm of the waves.  It feels so necessary to do this once in a while. 

And now here we are, the same and yet different.  And the year is also about to go through a sea-change.  On October 10,  a new year begins, in astrological terms, as Jupiter enters its new sign.  For the next year – until early November 2018 – Jupiter will be in the water sign Scorpio. 

Scorpio is a water sign, but not a placid one, and so I’m not seeing a particularly mellow year ahead.  This is the sign of deep water, and it relates to the powerful currents that move us without our knowing:  memory, yearning, desire, resentment, hatred, ambition.  These things spring from unseen caves in our psyches, and run unimpeded, unrecognized.  Sometimes we feel the steam coming up from these underground caverns, but we generally close them off quickly.  There be monsters in those unexplored depths.

This is a year when some of those monsters will come to light, one way or another.  For some people, this will mean remembering traumas that they would just as soon forget, and undergoing the work of healing.  People will become aware of horrible things that have been done, as these jagged wounds are exposed to sunlight.  There will be clarity, acknowledgement, and perhaps even some level of forgiveness. 

Social traumas will also be revealed for all to see, and this is not a year when we can sweep all past atrocities under the rug and pretend that we’ve always been noble and heroic.  Nope. No healing can happen without truth-telling.  And so this will be a year in which some naked, ugly truths move through the community, and there will be plenty of people screaming foul, cringing, or refusing to believe.  And there will be others who have their realities vindicated, at last. 

For those who have had thorough early training in projecting our fears outward (like our current president), Jupiter in Scorpio will increase paranoia.   Scorpio is a sign of excesses, and some people will lose the battles with their demons.  There will be more murders and suicides than before, and this is a hard thing to write when mass murder has already become such a common thing in our world.  And yes, some of this will be a response to harder economic conditions.

But, in helping people open up to the truths within themselves, this Jupiter sign can also help people understand each other.  It’s not a particularly idealistic sign, but rather one that focuses on emotional truths and basic survival.  When you strip away pretenses, it all comes down to an acknowledgement of our shared vulnerability in this rocky world. 

Jupiter in Scorpio will also spawn its share of art.  Scorpio is an imaginative, creative sign, since all this emotional energy has to express itself somehow.  And so it may be a year of large, dynamic, explicit art work.  Sexual themes could be expressed quite overtly.  Of course, the public response to this will be mixed, and some people will feel justified in responding violently to artistic visions that they don’t share.  

There will also be a stronger interest in the occult, and this will probably include a real range of philosophies.  There will be more of us wiccans, focusing our energy on healing the earth, but also a spate of demonologists conjuring up more mischievous forms.  People will be looking for deeper sources of power, and won’t be afraid to go through the curtains that separate different realms of existence.  And so there will be more people haunted, mesmerized, transfixed by private ghosts, but there will be also more folks working with elemental earth energy.    

Other people will reject the noisy materialism of the world entirely, and move towards a state of Zen purity.  Scorpio is a sign of strong desires, and it can also manifest in the desire to completely renounce desire.  And on the other side of the spectrum, there will be more sexual openness, as people look into themselves, stumble over the body-hatred that poisoned so many of our ancestors, connect this to the poisoning of the earth, and find ways to cauterize these wounds.        

This Jupiter sign gives a relentless need to understand, so it’s good for all kinds of research.  There can be breakthroughs in medical research, biology, genealogy, chemistry, and atomic physics.  It’s a time when people become obsessed with solving mysteries.  And it’s also good for cleaning up cesspools in government, so we will probably see quite a bit of public corruption come to light.  Jupiter’s entrance into Scorpio might see Trump impeached, or it might not, but I have no doubt that a bunch of his henchmen will go down.   

The main contradiction in Scorpio is that it can be a quiet, reticent, self-controlled sign, and it can also be one of volcanic reactions and dramatic outbursts.  Self-knowledge is key to handling these intense energies.  It’s not a choice between repressing them or letting them explode like a grenade.  It’s about becoming familiar with the salty taste of your own tears, and the primal rhythms of your own happiness.      

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Visit to Winchester

I live near a city of great museums, but I recently drove in the other direction, to Winchester, Virginia, so I could visit the Museum of Veiled History.  It’s a small, unassuming storefront museum, run by an old community organizer.  Yes, he happens to be my brother, Larry Yates. 

Inside, a large room is divided, and tacked to all the wall dividers are photos and artifacts, each with a story attached.  There are photos of slavery’s atrocities – the instruments of torture, the auction block.  And there are also stories of lost heroes, like Robert Milroy, the abolitionist general who ran Winchester for a few months and helped thousands of formerly enslaved people move north before the Secessionists came back.  Of course, many heroes have remained nameless, such as the Black soldiers who risked everything to head back south and fight their former oppressors.   

After the war, there was a brief period in which Virginia moved towards parity.  There were fourteen African-Americans elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, almost all of whom had been born into slavery.  But there was also a constant struggle with the white upper class people who had run things before.  And then there was the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1902, which took the franchise away from all African Americans as well as most of the working-class white people.  Larry calls this a “coup” since it was never voted on, just proclaimed.  

And then, as Jim Crow became entrenched, there was Harry F. Byrd, Jr, who ran Virginia as his own personal fiefdom for almost forty years.  He was born in Winchester, but why are there no statues of him there?  Larry says he thinks it’s because the people there are now ashamed of their native son, who orchestrated a huge, expensive, and ultimately lost effort to maintain school segregation in Virginia.   

The idea of the museum is that knowing local history is empowering.  The stories you’re told are only half-stories, shadows of the truth, and so you have to look beneath the veil.  What would people rather that everybody forget?  And why?   

Nothing happens in a vacuum.  Every event is connected to the events that came before.  When we look at the devastation in Houston, after Hurricane Harvey, we see a history of covering up porous green spaces with cement.  And so where does the water go, when it doesn’t sink into the ground?  And then there’s climate change, a series of escalating disasters.  There have always been hurricanes, but now they’re fiercer, picking up more water, lingering longer. 

What stories are we telling ourselves?  Some are about human resilience in the face of disaster, and it’s important to acknowledge that.  But we also need to look back, to see the chain of cause and effect across time.    

Mars just entered Virgo, and this earth sign is the dominant influence in September, with the sun, Mercury and Venus all spending most or some of their time here.  Virgo is about figuring out the sensible, practical solutions to the many puzzles presented by our lives on this planet.  What do we eat and drink, where do we live, what do we use in our daily lives, and how do we manage each other?

The shadow side of Virgo is a tendency to seek control, especially when things are unstable.  And when aren’t things unstable?  This planet is incredibly mutable, with exploding mountains and sensitive weather systems.  And we humans are even more changeable, with our fidgety hands and our constant curiosity.  

Control is a way of trying to maintain the status quo, something that virtually never works.  If the status quo was perfect, if everyone was well fed and satisfied, maybe it would be possible for us all to live in a static society.  Maybe.  But our actual world is one of dizzying inequality, where some people are encouraged to gorge and others left to starve.  It’s a world in which everyone is urged to forget what happened yesterday, and remember only what we’ve been told to think. 

As long as people are hungry, sick, homeless, or oppressed, there is absolutely no possibility of long-term stability.  What we have is surface control, the slick plastic look that is meant to fool some of the people, some of the time.  It’s television stability, a representation of reality, not the real thing.  And of course, here in the US, we have a president who is an expert in television stability, who has spent all his life working on the illusion of control.

And so what should you do with the Virgo energy of September?  The best approach is to figure out what really works.  Althea Gibson (1927-2003), the first Black athlete to cross the color line in tennis, had the sun, Mars and Venus in Virgo.  She said, “Being champion is all well and good, but you can’t eat a crown.”  So this is the month to focus on what you can eat, what you can use, what needs to be built.    

This is the month that begins with Labor Day, and Virgo is the sign of workers.  One of the myths of our times is the superlative value of “job creators”,  people who hire other people to do things.  If these people have value, then those who actually do the jobs have many times more.  The true creators of wealth are those who get out of bed every morning and accomplish something real. 

And if you’re one of those people, if you contribute to the everyday lives of the people around you, raise a glass to yourself.  Your name may never be known, but you are creating the world we all live in.  History is made by all of us, day by day, moment by moment, as we figure out how to handle our human lives, on this constantly rolling planet.  Let us watch each other, see what works, and work together.  

Monday, July 31, 2017

Falling Kings

August, a hot month in these parts, and getting hotter.  Two eclipses.  Mercury retrograde.  Astrologers going nuts predicting the fall of DT.  Will be or won’t he?  Will his Jupiter return protect him, or will Pluto’s square to his Jupiter topple him? 

I’ve already been predicting his downfall because of the stormy aspects at the new moon of July 23.  It looks like the Tower Card in the tarot, like a time when the mighty fall.  But perhaps that loud crash was the Republican dream of scuttling Obamacare.  And there have been a lot of big shifts since last week's new moon.  DT fired his only link to the mainstream political world, Reince Priebus.  And he hired Anthony Scaramucci, who seemed like a gangster straight out of central casting, and who was almost immediately fired again (while I was in the middle of writing this column).

But will DT himself fall?  I’m not as sure it will happen this month, mainly because Jupiter is handing out some helpful aspects to him throughout August, including the trine to his sun.  These are in the face of rough aspects from Saturn and Pluto.  But the Jupiter aspects do constitute a raincoat in the midst of a shitstorm.  They may give him just enough cover to survive. 

Saturn’s aspects – opposing his sun and conjuncting his moon -  look like they could affect his health.  Neurological and digestive problems seem likely, as well as difficulties with his extremities.  But if he has some kind of health crisis and comes through it, that could actually give him some sympathy points, at least briefly, and it could delay the inevitable toppling.

Putin is also having a tough time astrologically these days, and there are aspects that emphasize the link between him and DT.  They are both caught in a web of change, and it may develop slowly, but the ending will be abrupt.  

Putin’s influence over DT is not all that benign.  So far, DT has been well-paid for his role in Russian money laundering, but I’m thinking that ultimately all this might cost him more than he’s gained – not just in money, but in prestige, power, and reputation.  Putin’s Saturn (the planet of limitation) is exactly conjunct DT’s Jupiter (the planet of expansion). 

Looking at their charts together, plus current transiting planets, we see a T-square, a dynamic, stressful configuration, in which two opposing planets are squared by a third.  Pluto in Capricorn opposes Putin’s Uranus, and the squaring planets are Putin’s Saturn (restriction) on top of DT’s Jupiter (advancement).  The squaring planets are the catalyst planets;  they are the ones that act out the tension. 

So Putin acts it out by adding restrictions, such as the current demand that the US embassy lay off most of its personnel.  And DT acts it out by being as outrageous and over-the-top as he can possibly be, assuming that what people mainly want is entertainment.  It does look like the Vlad and Don Show will come crashing down sometime in the next six months, and that clutching each other might hasten the fall for both. 

The eclipses this month also give a message of dramatic change, and this also covers the next six months, until the next eclipses in January and February of 2018.  This lunar eclipse (on August 21) is right on DT’s ascendant, and the one on February 15 will be exactly opposite his ascendant.  So this looks to me as though DT has just been caught up in the hand of fate, and will be carried along by forces well beyond his control for the next six months.   

One possibility is that DT’s dementia will become impossible to ignore around that time, since that’s when Saturn in Capricorn will be forming a T-square with his Mercury and Neptune.  I wonder who will be brave enough to say it first?  After it comes out, everybody will be saying that they’ve known it for years, just like they did with Reagan.  And it’s true, some people have been writing about this for months, analyzing word usage, finding unmistakable clues.    

I wonder if people will miss the carnival clown that was DT.  I’m sure late night comedians will. 

Even if DT doesn’t fall all the way this month, August is still pretty stormy.  At the full moon of August 7, Mars is still very much in the picture, so people are pushier and more competitive.  They want to win, whatever the fight is.   

With this eclipse in Aquarius/Leo, there will be some pitched battles between the altruists and the hedonists.  Is it that the altruists really care about the state of the world, while the hedonists are completely self-centered?   Or are the altruists sanctimonious pricks who only want to lecture about how other people aren’t living right, while the hedonists have a healthy and natural self-regard? 

This also looks like the political divide in the US, with the tofu-eaters on one side (Aquarius) and the cooked-to-death-steak-with-ketchup contingent on the other (Leo).  Is there no middle ground? Isn’t there a possibility of finding something healthy and delicious?  But it’s a tricky opposition, especially because these are both fixed signs, and because there is so much ego involved.

One of the hardest things is to figure out how to intersect with your community (Aquarius) while still respecting the independence of others (Leo).  When do you correct?  When do you fight?  When do you take a stand?  With the south node currently in Aquarius, our weakness often lies in the belief that we know better than others.  But it doesn't work to make change from this perspective;  it's like trying to fight fire (Leo) with an air hose (Aquarius).     

The lunar eclipse is followed quickly by Mercury going retrograde on August 12.  When it retrogrades, Mercury will be opposing Neptune, and this makes things even more confusing for the first week.  It may be hard to figure out what people are saying, and what they really mean.   And watch out for accidents involving the intersection between earth and water.  Watch for floods, hurricanes, and bathtub slippage! 

And then there’s the final eclipse, the one everyone’s gathering for, the solar eclipse of August 21.   This one is exciting, with the sun and moon closely trine Uranus, and it ushers in a lunar cycle with a lot of positive changes.  Inventors, creative people, and political activists could all get a boost.  It happens in fire signs, so it’s driven by boldness, passion, and the desire to shine.  Mars is still in the picture, but not as close as during the July new moon, and so there aren’t as many revolutionary factors.  But an eclipse always shows change, and an eclipse in Leo can show crowns falling off the heads of kings.    

Everybody gets their turn in the limelight.  Everyone gets to strut and fret his hour on the stage. But I’m thinking it’s almost time for a long hook to come out of the wings and put an end to the latest act.