Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Stilled by the Virus

I’m awed by this moment we’re living in.  In my six decades, I’ve never seen the whole world sharing one danger, one fear, one set of solutions.  Of course, we’ve had other world-wide problems – the climate crisis, especially – but there have always been large groups of people successfully ignoring them.  Not this time.     

A month ago, I wrote about the virus in my column, but without any sense of immediacy.  At that time, the prevailing wisdom was that we should all wash our hands for twenty seconds, and not touch our faces. 

My wife and I went to Toronto after that.  She went to meetings, and I rode the subway, wandered through the Royal Ontario Museum, met a friend, and went to a market.  I took a little bottle of disinfectant with me, and remembered to apply it every once in a while. I saw three people wearing masks on the subway, but mainly, life was normal.  But as the days went by, the news became more and more dramatic.  Things started to be cancelled. Doors started shutting.  Broadway went dark.  Norway closed its borders. 

So we cancelled our plans for a family dinner, and decided to head for home three days early.  The highways were emptier than usual, and we crossed the border without incident.  Popping into our neighborhood diner for a late dinner, we made it home just before midnight.

That was two weeks ago, and it’s the last time we left the house.  I imagined that, if we had to withdraw from social contact, we’d do it gradually.  But no, it was abrupt.   First, it was just advisable, and we were just being good citizens.  I’m in the vulnerable age group – over 65 – and have had a few bouts of bronchitis in the last year, so my wife is pretty protective of me. The fridge was empty, and I wanted to go off to the store, but she convinced me to just have groceries delivered. 

Then, a few days ago, it went from advisable to compulsory.  Now, here in Maryland, if you go wandering off into the street, you can be fined.  All over the world, people are dealing with similar restrictions.  I look at photos.  Here’s an empty Times Square, the bright lights signaling to nobody at all. Here’s a coyote, hunting in the quiet streets of San Francisco.  Here’s my local DC Beltway, usually jammed at this hour, now a wide-open pathway. 

So what’s it about, astrologically?  It must be the Jupiter/Saturn/Pluto conjunction - something I’ve never seen before, just like this pandemic.  Jupiter makes a conjunction to Pluto every twelve years, and Saturn makes one every 28 years, but I’ve never seen these two cycles coincide before. 

Pluto is about deep transformation, and there is a lot of this happening.  People are rediscovering their partners and children, developing new routines which include them.  My wife and I have started taking late afternoon sunshine breaks, something we never would’ve done if we weren’t both working here at home.  We sit out in the front yard and talk over the progress of the day, and remark on how the leaves are starting to come out on all the trees. 

The earth itself is being transformed, as the pollution clears.  People are redesigning lives without commuting, without travel, without zipping off to do errands at any time.  Families are walking around their neighborhoods.  I recently learned that a woman from church lives just three doors down from me, and I had no idea she lived so close until I saw her walking her dog.  If this went on, I might actually get to know all my neighbors. 

Jupiter expands and enlarges, while Saturn contracts and limits our lives at the same time.  It’s a heady mix, at once closing off plans and projects, and simultaneously opening up new vistas.  And Pluto intensifies it, and takes all of us further than we can comfortably go.           

Although there are hopeful things, there are also enormous waves of fear, grief and loss moving around the globe.  As the old structures fall, many people have no idea how they will survive.  Some idealistic folks are hoping that an economic collapse could mean rebuilding it in a different way, with a stronger safety net for everyone, while others are looking for the money-making opportunities that are part of every disaster.  But much of the political discourse has quieted down now.  It seems less relevant in the face of this worldwide existential threat. 

How long do I think it will last?  Jupiter and Pluto are exactly conjunct in April, again in June, and for the last time in November.  Jupiter and Saturn are conjunct in December, before they both begin the new year in a new sign, Aquarius.  It looks to me like that’s the real shift.  I think there will be movements towards normalcy in the summer and fall, but this could be followed by another wave of illnesses, especially if we start everything up too soon.

But for many years to come, we may feel a certain trepidation when we hug each other, a little anxiety about what viruses are lurking.  I don’t expect that to go away for a long time. We won’t go back to the normal we knew before.  Our economy won’t fit back into the same groove, either.

And as for 2021, it does look like a year of revolution.  During a fire, there’s great destruction, but afterwards, fireweed grows.  And the phoenix rises.        

Monday, March 2, 2020

Lag Time

Nature seems to be in a hurry, rushing us out of winter and towards spring, with these too-warm days.  The calendar marches along at a quick trot too, heading towards Super Tuesday.  The news cycle sends up new things to worry about all the time.

But I’m lagging.  With Mercury retrograde, and three planets going through Pisces, I’m captured by a deeper flow.  I only want to meditate, to daydream, to drink tea, to gaze out the window, and to reread books I’ve read before.  I want to spend my time in the Dreamscape, a place where I’ve felt at home since childhood.  My brain produces the images, and I just wander around in them, untethered, free as any discarnate spirit. 

I recently read the novel The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern, a book I’d heard lauded everywhere.  To me, the novel was a beautiful, intricate stage without any actors on it.  The characters were embryonic, the plot scanty, but the setting was amazing, full of intricate details, constantly unfolding.

This feels like the current moment, with all this Piscean energy.  Everything is open, everything is possible, but there is no pressing need to do anything in particular.  The universe flows onward, carrying us all along.  Of course, we bring along our baggage, our worries and concerns.  But most of these seem to be resistant to action. 

Take Covid-19, which is spreading like a storm cloud.  What can we do about it?  We can wash our hands more often, and watch for symptoms, and avoid crowded places.  But mostly we just stand and watch the cloud move along, not knowing when it might decide to dump some rain, and whether we’ll get wet. 

A virus is invisible, as it travels through the air.  It wafts gently towards people, looking for the moist places where it can grow.  It comes for its victims without a bite or a sting, with nothing dramatic happening, and lays them flat for a little while – or forever.  Three thousand people have died, mostly those who were already weak, or who lacked any kind of medical care. 

It’s a very Piscean epidemic.  We humans have always been colonized, although we pretend we’re autonomous beings.  But we’re permeated with different life-forms of all sizes and kinds, and mostly we make amicable arrangements with them.  There are no barriers, though.  And so we’re helpless when confronted with less benign life-forms that want to merge with us.    

And there are no barriers between people, either.  None of us live in isolation.  Rich people have always needed poor people to do the work for them, to cook their food and take care of their children. So we’re all in this together, touching each other in a million ways.    

Of course, the current US government is spreading its own cloud of misinformation, assuring everyone that the virus will miraculously disappear.  In most situations, they’ve been successful with their miasma of lies – but in this case, the virus is more subtle, and is able to slip through their net. It can’t be contained, especially when nobody is prepared, when there’s a general disdain for science, and when the emphasis is on economic damage rather than health.

But Pisces isn’t the only important influence this month.  Capricorn is also strong, with four planets in this sign, and Capricorn is very different from the drifty, dreamy, watery energy of Pisces.  Capricorn is the most realistic sign in the zodiac, the most pragmatic, often the most pessimistic.  So while the administration is sending clouds to fight other clouds, there are people who are actually facing the problem.  They’re the ones organizing, containing, and countering people’s fears with accurate information. 

They’re just like the people who tackle global warming.  Weather systems are very Piscean;  they flow freely over the globe, ignoring borders, sensitive to all passing changes, bringing everyone together. The only way to deal with weather disturbances is to stay practical, to organize, to dismantle outmoded structures and to build new ones. 

These threats are not the same, but they have one message for humanity:  that we’re all together in this, that we are not really divided from each other, or from all the other life-forms in our midst.  There are no national boundaries that can stop these things, and to believe in walls and checkpoints is just magical thinking.

But is the answer just to flow with it?  I think that’s part of it, but the other half is to strategize and to work.  These are the things that Capricorn is good at.  For myself, even though I really just want to float along in the Piscean stream, I know that I have to deal with deadlines and commitments.  I have to stay clear, and to keep it real. 

Both Pisces and Capricorn can help you deal with your fears.  When you’re flowing with Pisces, the main fear is that you’re not in control, and you don’t know what you’re doing.  The answer is to move towards what’s beautiful, sacred and inspirational.  You can tap into all-encompassing divine love, whatever your religion, and you can find healing for the suffering you’ve endured and the suffering you’ve caused. 

And when you’re working with Capricorn, you can appreciate the unchanging physical laws that govern our planet, that keep you from floating away into space, and that ensure that every action has consequence.  These laws are both tools and teachers.  They form the framework of everything you are and everything you do. 

You are at once body and soul, limited by time and space and yet unbounded in this endless universe. And you are not unique in this.   


Friday, January 3, 2020

Notes from the West Coast

I’ve been in a private bubble since yesterday morning.  Pre-dawn, my wife was driving me to the airport, and we were watching the morning splash its gold on the Potomac.  Then I was navigating the tiny space of an airplane seat, sucking on cough drops and avoiding the elbows of my seatmate. 

After that, I was in the new LAX-it lot, being siphoned into a corridor where my Lyft awaited.  It made the familiar turn across from La Cienega Park, and there was my son, waiting to give me a hug and carry my suitcases upstairs.  Since then, non-stop, I’ve been talking to him or my daughter-in-law.  Or I’ve been drawing and being goofy with my granddaughter.   

So I hadn’t even read the news until now.  I didn’t know about the drone killing of the Iranian military officer, Qasem Soleimani.  Now I’m reading about it, and searching for more information.  It’s chilling.  And the timing is even more chilling, since it’s happening just before the Saturn/Pluto conjunction, a time when effects are heightened, when ripples go deeper. 

I’m looking at the days between January 10 and 13, and I’m amazed by the conjunction of the sun, Mercury, Saturn and Pluto at the full moon.  This is something I’ve never seen before.  When I checked, I couldn’t find another date in recent centuries when this has happened.  Saturn and Pluto have conjoined before – most notably at the beginning of World War One - and the sun and Mercury many times, but never all four.   

So what does it mean?  Is it the entrance salvo in another war?  Another senseless archduke assassination?  In past months, I’ve looked at these aspects and predicted the downfall of Trump, since his aspects are quite challenging these days.  But I think maybe I was thinking too small.  Maybe larger shifts are beginning now:  the ends and beginnings of nations, rather than individuals. 

Having the sun and Mercury with the Saturn/Pluto conjunction adds another dimension to this intense aspect.  The sun makes things visible, while Mercury spreads the word.  So January is going to be a very public month, full of overt pressure and vocal resistance.  Large structures creak loudly, moan in protest, before they fall. 

The change from one year to the next always takes me to a different place, a place that’s philosophical but somewhat removed.  Every year, I restructure my world, recalibrating what’s important, letting go of what isn’t.  This year is beginning with a sense of threat, but also with the warmth of family around me.  Most of the people that I care most about were with me at some point in the holiday season.  So what I’m doing is drawing in, reaffirming the love which forms the core of my life. 

But it’s true I’m feeling a little fatalistic, and that’s a Saturn thing, intensified by the conjunction to Pluto.  It’s also an illusion.  Saturn is the planet of reality, and yet mystics and quantum physicists tell us that reality is not as solid as it seems.  What we see is not necessarily what exists.  So my quest, my resolution, is to take the fear, the anxiety, the worries that are part of our moment in history, and to find the place where I can flow with whatever is coming into being. 

The future isn’t in my hands, but my heart is creating a circle of light.  If all I see is a few steps ahead of me, it’s enough. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Jupiter Enters Capricorn

It seems that there’s no time at all between sunrise and sunset these days.  I find it hard to keep working after my window goes dark.  It seems like a signal to snuggle up somewhere, drink hot chocolate and read under the covers.  Sometimes all this bright interior light seems wrong, almost hallucinatory. 

I recently had a few days without a smart phone in my pocket, after my old one went kaput as the Thanksgiving holiday was just starting.  I had to retrain myself, without a phone to reach for whenever I wanted to know the outside temperature or the birth date of Henry VIII.  I reached for my book more often, and settled for not knowing things, or just having a vague idea of them.

We are powerful, we modern people.  We can transform night into brilliant daylight.  We can learn a little bit about a million different things, so that we feel knowledgeable without studying.  And yet – and yet – we are still bound to our own wheels.  I just turned 68, so I’m already sliding into winter.  I’m paring down, conserving energy.  Trees shed their leaves, and I give away books.   

Do I feel out of sync with these relentlessly busy modern times?  Every once in a while.  Of course, I do appreciate all the ways that technology can extend my range of motion, but I also recognize its limits.  My life is finite, for all the sci-fi stories about eternal life.   I don’t expect that the little device in my pocket will explain this to me.  I have a feeling that life will be no less a mystery when I leave it.   

On the other hand, I’m very much in sync with the astrological picture.  Jupiter has just entered its new sign, Capricorn, the most minimalist sign in the zodiac, so the energy has really changed.  This is a winter sign – no frills, no cuteness.  The energy of Capricorn is responsible, traditional, mature, serious, realistic, strategic, pragmatic, and sometimes severe and judgmental. 

Jupiter in Capricorn tends to be a stripped-down time.  We focus on our goals and forget everything else.  We become leaner and meaner, hungrier and more melancholic.  It’s a time when everyone is tested for strength, stamina and conviction.  Since Saturn and Pluto are also in Capricorn in the coming months, it’s hard to get away from this energy, and we may all find that we’re working harder and dabbling less.    

I don’t always have an easy time with Capricorn, since I have planets in the other three cardinal signs.  So when I’m confronted with a dose of Capricorn energy, I often do feel judged.  At the same time, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more comfortable with Capricorn’s high standards of behavior.  It’s a sign which looks straight at things, and sees how they are, rather than living in the comfortable delusions that most of us inhabit.  Because of that, Capricorn energy tends to lead to very real, tangible achievements. 

Jupiter was in Capricorn when NATO was formed, when the Peace Corps was established, and when the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed.  It was there when Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court, and when the ERA was passed by Congress and sent to the States to be ratified.  It was also there when the Berlin Wall was built.  It’s a cardinal sign, a sign of structure and initiative, and so things tend to happen when Jupiter is in this sign.  Ideas take shape, solidify, become concrete. 

Jupiter in Capricorn gives serious intent, and the perseverance to turn this intent into something definite.  But as soon as a new structure appears, it becomes a target.  We all know what happened to the ERA, and Roe v. Wade, while saving many women’s lives, has also coalesced into a rallying cry for the right.  The Berlin Wall hung on for decades, attracting enormous enmity, before falling.  It seems that whenever Jupiter in Capricorn brings anything new, it also brings a fierce opposition into existence.  Its structures have long shadows.   

When I look back over the dates when Jupiter has been in Capricorn, I also find a lot of “strong” men behaving badly.  Jupiter was in Capricorn when Mussolini declared his dictatorship in a speech to the Italian parliament, and when Hitler published the first volume of Mein Kampf.  It was there when Franco gave the order to bomb Guernica, and when Hirohito’s army occupied Beijing and Shanghai.  It was there when Stalin’s paranoia led him to purge and murder thousands.  Even Richard Nixon’s Watergate break-in happened while Jupiter was in this sign. 

Does Jupiter in Capricorn encourage dictators?  That doesn’t bode too well for us in the US, with the arrogant and feckless DT in the White House, obstructing all inquiries into his behavior.    

The thing is that Capricorn is a sign that leans towards hierarchy, as a rule.  At its best, this just means holding very high standards for human behavior, and not settling for less.  There can be a certain Zen purity about Capricorn, an admirable ability to distill what’s valuable and reject all the rest.  But at its worst, it can mean using every political strategy to get to the top, and then holding on for dear life.  Capricorn is a goal-oriented sign, but to meet goals, you need a certain amount of power, and frequently people are so seduced by the power that they forget the goals.   

So I do think we need to look at the lessons of the past, to examine how we use our power, and to figure out what to do with our initiative and creativity.  What needs doing?  What can we organize?  What goals can we meet?  What structures reflect our best selves, at this moment? How can we keep entrenched interests from building structures (like walls!) which will solidify fear and division?      

There is a hopeful aspect in December, mainly Jupiter in Capricorn forming a trine with Uranus in Taurus. This is a good time for all creative work.  Both these planets are in earth signs, so they lend themselves to work that can be seen, heard or touched.  If you’re a sculptor, a potter, or a musician, or if your work is crafting beautiful objects out of natural materials, you can find yourself more inspired and productive than ever. But you won’t be alone.  All of us will be engaged in building something real, something that manifests our highest good.  

As we grow and learn, our understanding of what is good must change.  And so everything we create now will someday crumble.  But even so, let us begin, generating whatever light we can to guide our way.  The work of this moment is ours to do. 

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Veil is Thin

Last night was stormy, with lightning and thunder scaring away any trick-or-treaters who were still on the streets.  We didn’t see many at our door, just two small spidermen and one slightly taller angel.  There’s still a whole basket full of Kit-Kat bars, and I’m going to have to distribute them fast before I start eating them. 

Mercury went retrograde last night, and this puts me in a haze of nostalgia.  I find myself reading old notes and journals, browsing through lists I kept through the years.  Why have I always kept so many lists?  Clearly because I didn’t want anything to get away from me – not information, not time, not memory.  Time has definitely gotten away from me, and memory hides in the corners of my mind too often.  But what’s left is emotion.  Reading a long list of memorable dates in my life, I remember how it felt when those things happened.  I see names of people I loved who are gone now. 

This morning my wife was telling me the difference between All Saint’s Day (today) and All Soul’s Day (tomorrow).  Apparently today you’re supposed to waft good thoughts to the saints up in heaven, while tomorrow you do the same for your beloved dead, your family members. I wasn’t raised Catholic and have never thought much about the saints, but I do believe in benevolent spirits, so I’m willing to put them in the same category.  I’ve frequently seen St. Anthony do his thing when people in my wife’s family have mislaid something, and I’m sure the others have similar skills.  So, hey, saints.  Thanks for any help with this complicated material world.

When it comes to my beloved dead, I do believe they maintain a relationship with us.  We connect to each other in the same way that one breeze will greet another.  Nobody can see it happen, but it does.  We can’t see them, but we can feel them, because we know these people, and we recognize them even when they’re gone.      

I believe that when we become spirit, we are distilled into our essential selves – all love, all joy, all glow - but I don’t think we lose any of our personality in this process.  So when I think of friends and family that are gone, they are still themselves, with the same quirky expressions, the same vocal timbres, the same preferences.  What’s gone are all the fears, insecurities, hungers and dreads that we earthlings carry around with us.  Without all that, who are we?  Pure creative energy, freely dancing through all time and space, and through the absence of time and space as well.   

So Mercury retrograde and All Soul’s Day combine to bring me closer to my beloved dead.  And this month, the Scorpio emphasis also encourages me to go deeper into the emotional plane.  I can visit people I’ve loved, and find healing and support there.  But I can also go into the inner caverns of my psyche, and visit with less comfortable figures.  With respect and caution, I can approach the archetypal Wise Woman, the Crone.  She may give me hard knowledge, knowledge that I’ve sought but also avoided.  She tells me what I most need to know. 

This inner work takes energy, time, and attention.  But Mercury retrograde tends to make time by putting obstacles in the way of all the new things we try to do.  We succeed best when we do things that are remedial, when we go back and learn from the past, when we correct the mistakes we’ve been living with.  (That’s why it’s a great month for impeachment proceedings.)  

However, just because it’s a meditative month, that doesn’t mean that it’s a calm or stable one.  The new moon of October 27 was very volatile, and this influences us until the next new moon on November 26.  With the sun and moon opposite Uranus, it seems clear that there will be a big shift during this lunar cycle - a rebellion, an overturning of the usual order.  This is one of the months in which the wheel turns, and people will be dislodged from their comfortable positions and moved somewhere much less familiar.   

Your ancestors and your spirit guides can’t protect you from the wear and tear of earthly existence.  But it may be that the nurturing you feel from them, and the advice you receive, can make a difference.  Just listening can make a difference, because it reminds you that there are many, many worlds besides this one.  We can hear sounds from them, we can see shadows from the forms that move there, and sometimes we can visit.  For me, as I traverse the margin between All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day, I am grateful to all the saints and all the souls who guide us through these worlds and beyond.  Confronted with change, I want to learn from them how to be sure-footed and clear-hearted on this journey.                  

Wednesday, October 2, 2019


Yes, I’m going on the record here.  I think the end of Trump’s presidency is coming.  I think this impeachment will grow some teeth.  And unless he dies of a heart attack first, there’s a good chance he’ll be the first president removed from office this way.  And as for whether that starts a civil war - well, the last civil war never really ended, so that’s not much of a threat.  

I’ve just been looking over Richard Nixon’s transits in 1974, looking for similarities.  And there are plenty of them.  Saturn was making a lot of hard aspects to Nixon’s natal chart that year, shutting off his options, one by one.  And the aspects to Trump’s chart look very much like that, with things getting dicier in December, and Pluto delivering some telling blows in January.     

I remember Watergate.  I had a small child at the time, so I wasn’t particularly focused on politics.  I just remember feeling some surprise at the way things inexorably developed, ending with the president’s resignation.  I was already pretty cynical about the whole political machine at that point, assuming it would all coming crashing down in armed revolution pretty soon.  But Nixon’s removal from power was satisfying, and even tempered some of my cynicism.    

And now the same mechanism is shifting into place.  There are so many parallels.  One is that Nixon was an unpleasant guy, with all the ranting and cussing, and it seems like dealing with Trump is equally taxing.  When everybody around you wishes you were gone, I have to think that the universe eventually listens.      

One difference between them is that Nixon was smarter and not as lucky.  His natal chart features a Mercury/Mars/Jupiter conjunction, which got him up to the pinnacle of success (in his terms), and then all three planets oppose Pluto, which represents the Stranger Within.  This spells paranoia.  He projected his demons outwards, and then very effectively squashed them, but conjuring enemies can get out of hand quickly.

Looking at Trump’s chart, I don’t see anywhere the same level of paranoia.  Trump’s dislike is focused on anyone who withholds anything from him - mainly adulation, approval, money, and probably originally candy.  He’s just a spoiled brat with a very minimal attention span.  But he has a lucky sun/Jupiter trine, which often wafts him unhurt over danger zones.

During the rest of October, there are two hard aspects affecting Trump:  a Uranus/Neptune inconjunct and a Neptune/Jupiter inconjunct.  These are irritating, and they indicate repetitive aggravations rather than major change at this point.  It may become impossible to hide certain sensitive financial documents, and other secrets will slowly begin to coalesce into something that threatens his money and prestige.     

Around the third week in October, Trump may (probably accidentally) win back some public approval when Jupiter conjuncts his moon.  Maybe he’ll figure out a scam, something that allows a vast number of people to feel happy.  As a showman, this is his main skill.  But by the end of the month, Jupiter is opposing his sun and inconjunct his Saturn, and the pinch is beginning.  He’ll feel it in his ego.   

For all of us, October begins with three planets in Libra, focusing on law, order, and justice.  Pluto goes direct early in the month, and this brings many of our demons into consciousness.  All of us have fears, desires and ambitions that we don’t want to face, and we project them out into the world.  Trump is definitely one of those demons, created by all of us, bigger in the media than he really is as a human being. 

This impeachment inquiry will require a lot of people to come to terms with the meaning of Trump.  Some folks see him as a strong man who’s on their side against the scary non-white people. Some see him as a distillation of the worst traits of white people.  Some folks see him as a harmless buffoon.  Some see him as a route to lots of conservative judges who will turn women into non-stop baby-making machines.  Some like him being a bad boy, and enjoy insults and outrages.  Some just want to belong.  Some see him as the devil, some as their personal Elvis. 

Because he’s so mercurial, very few haven’t felt queasy at some point about something he’s said or done.  And so October will be a month to ponder this, as Pluto goes direct, and Mercury, Venus and the sun all move into Scorpio.  People will go down a little deeper than they usually do, perhaps connecting more viscerally with the fears that Trump fosters.  Some people experience these fears as a need for Trump to run roughshod over our political system, while others experience them as a dread of the damage he can do. 

Scorpio’s energy tends to be intensely emotional but very private, with a lot happening in the shadows.  But for each of the planets going through Scorpio, the first aspect will be an opposition to Uranus, planet of sudden change.   Uranus brings that intense inner energy outwards, by contradicting it, confronting it, and threatening to destroy old patterns and attachments.  

So through the month, as corruption becomes public, there will be times when the people explode into rebellion.  Protests will be large and noisy.  This will happen in many areas, all over the world.  But here in the US, in the political arena, public outrage is the key to Trump’s conviction.  It’s the only way to bring the Senate around, although this will probably take a few months.     

Change will be a sharp rallying cry in October.  Activists like Greta Thunberg and many others will use this energy to amplify their voices – to delineate the evils done in our name, and to clarify the alternate roads available for us.  We need to be brave enough to risk change, in order to survive.  We actually need to look our demons in the eye, to call their names, and to understand why we created them.    

And when the jack-o-lanterns glow at the end of the month, we may be better acquainted with our own unhinged hungers.  And maybe, down there in the limitless caves of the human psyche, we can find an older, deeper magic – something that will free us from our allegiance to these demons.  Here in the US, impeachment is just one step towards that freedom. 

Friday, August 30, 2019


I am not always fond of reality, and yet one of the first things I do every morning is read the news on my phone.  This is an abrupt switch from hugging my pillow and dreaming of beaches.      

This morning, I was reading about Ajay Kumar, a victim of torture by the US government.  He asked for asylum here because he was subjected to political persecution in India, and the response has been to lock him up in ICE detention for almost a year.  When he (and others) went on a hunger strike to protest these conditions, he was force-fed. 

Force-feeding has no relation to nutrition or sustenance at all, and in fact it’s the antithesis of nurturing.  It’s brutal and painful, and it’s a stripping away of the last vestige of bodily agency.  It’s almost always used to silence political prisoners who are trying to make a statement.  It was used a hundred years ago – in Britain, to persecute suffragettes, and in the US, to torture a woman whose crime was distributing birth control to other women.  It’s been used in Guantanamo, and probably still is.

I’m writing this at the tail-end of August, on the first day of a new lunar cycle.  This morning’s new moon was very concentrated, with the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars all together, all within 9° in Virgo.  It’s as if the sun and moon have surrounded themselves with all their helpers – the Messenger, the Diplomat, the Warrior – and they are gathered together to craft a statement to the world.  In addition, they have a great trine going with Saturn and Uranus, representing the Old Guard and the New Wave.  So they are fortified, definite, clear. 

And what is this message?  I would say it’s about getting ourselves together, getting healthy, and tossing out the old power imbalances, before it’s too late.  These power imbalances are the toxins in the world we live in. 

Virgo is the sign of health, work, analysis and discrimination.  Discrimination doesn’t mean arbitrary judgments against people, but rather a considered investigation into what makes sense and what doesn’t, in terms of one’s recognized objective.  If the objective is to survive as a species on this planet, then there are things that waste our time and effort, and other things that yield the preferred results.  This may sound cold, but Virgo is a practical sign, and practical people are survivors.       

Maybe power imbalances benefited the species once upon a time.  There’s a whole “survival of the fittest” argument, although this leaves out the fact that cooperative efforts have added easily as much to human development as individual ingenuity or bravery.  Most individual acts of heroism take place in a family, community, or some other support system.  Support systems work, raising people just a little higher than they can manage on their own.  And they are natural to people.  We are really more like bees than wolves. 

But we have these toxins, these pockets of corruption and cruelty.  Imagine a hive with a whole wing full of non-worker bees who spend their time harassing and abusing the ones who work, and torturing any bees who object.  This is what our society is like these days, and it’s not favorable for our survival.

As I write this, there’s a storm approaching the US coast, a storm called Damian.  My friends in Florida are worried about what the next few days will bring, and so am I. 

There’s something of a cleansing effect about this Virgo new moon, but it will take more than a few storms to clear the toxins out of our society.  It may take a level of desperation that we haven’t seen yet, before we say, “No more!”  When will we be ready?  It will be hard work, but this new moon shows an advantageous time to begin a new phase.  Now is the time to flush out the toxins and create a healthy world community.   

It won’t happen overnight, because these toxins are buried deep inside all the structures we’ve built.  But if we are going to hang on to our niche on this planet, it has to be done.  We have to learn how to nurture ourselves and each other, as well as the eco-systems that support us.  We have to learn how to get rid of the poison.