Roving Lesbian Astrologer
I’m in Toronto, a vibrant and international city, but I’m not relating to this place as a tourist. No, it’s now become a family outpost. My kind and gentle brother-in-law, Poncho, is in the process of moving here. My dashing bartender nephew will be living here soon. And my spouse’s long-lost uncle and aunt lived here, unknown to us, all during the time they were lost – and now they’ve been found in the mellow Toronto suburb of Oakville.
And then there’s Rosa. Our story is that we always meet in a different country. She’s a dimpled, effervescent Venezuelan, and, like my spouse, she works in international education and goes to a lot of conferences. I sometimes get to tag along to these, since my work as an astrologer doesn’t chain me to a desk. And sometimes I get to see Rosa, and we celebrate these wide circles that always bring us back to each other’s orbit.
But this is the first time I’ve seen Rosa at home, in the decade or so I’ve known her. She’s married to a Canadian and their home base is here in Toronto. She and David live in a historic rowhouse, dark red brick covered with ivy, inside surprisingly light and airy for an old house. And so last night I got to see Rosa at her most domestic, pouring wine and offering Cocosettes (a Venezuelan cookie) and nudging her husband.
August begins with a strong Cancer influence, and Cancer is the sign of home and family. And so it makes sense that, even though my spouse and I got in the car and travelled miles to get here, it feels rather like we’ve gone in a circle. We waited in the traffic on Peace Bridge, stated our attentions to a border guard, and yet, Canada feels like our living room.
You can see all this in the glyph for Cancer, which looks like the yin/yang symbol. Each side curls into the other, and the overall shape is that of a circle, smooth and protected. Coming home is going inward. It’s a place where it’s safe to have feelings - investigating what’s going on inside yourself, sharing confidences and sympathies with well-known others.
Jupiter, the planet of benevolence and expansion, is the main Cancer influence these days, and as August begins, Mars and Mercury are lingering near it. Mercury recently came out of its retrograde phase and has an innocent, newborn feel, while Mars (the planet of action) is feeling its way into and out of everything. Cancer is a conservative influence, invested in what is safe, sustaining and well-known. Growth tends to be slow and to move from the inside out, like a shell adding layers.
So this seems like a pretty innocuous month, right? Well, not so much. Jupiter has some pretty serious challenges in August, so it can’t just lie back and relax into old home week. For one thing, it’s being opposed by Pluto, which deals with underlying transformations, in the stern sign Capricorn. This will be in orb until August 17. And overlapping with this (in orb from August 11 to 30) is a square from Uranus, the planet of sudden change, in the fiery sign Aries.
What Jupiter in Cancer really wants is for the tribe to be together, to feel good, to be safe, and to eat and drink in large quantities. Family reunions are Jupiter’s cup of tea – or perhaps I should say its overflowing punch bowl. And then Pluto enters this happy, satisfying picture. Pluto appears like visible evidence of everything you fear deep inside.
For George Zimmerman, those fears wore a hoodie, and so he fired at his demons and ended up killing an unarmed child. This is how things can go tragically wrong, when you see the Stranger outside yourself. The Stranger is always the part of yourself you can’t admit, you can’t see, you can’t own. Because it can’t be seen, you deck it with trappings, and then persecute those trappings whenever you come across them in the world. Mostly when guys go crazy and start shooting people, they end up killing themselves, finally coming around to the most accurate place to aim the gun. The deep self is the source of anger, shame, disgust and resentment.
And why is it generally – although not always - straight white guys who murder in this random way? Because women, gay people, and darker-skinned people are more likely to identify with the Stranger. We’ve been treated as the Stranger, the Other, and so we have more room in our psyches for this figure. We recognize that it is not always what it seems. And so we tend to fear more realistic sources of danger: the policeman, the judge, the group of drunken straight white men.
However, all of us have our demons, our unadmitted selves. The Inner Stranger comes from some part of yourself that you want to protect, but on some level, you know that it must change. You know there’s some rottenness there, something which avoids a direct look. Pluto is about deep transformation, but it often begins in a ruthless way, carving out deep swathes of your being and throwing them to the wolves. That’s because nothing can thrive when there is rot at the core.
And so this is what Jupiter in Cancer has to contend with, this August. Jupiter has already tied on the apron, invited everyone over, and is busy offering drinks from the communal punchbowl. Then Pluto walks into the gathering, like the villain from out of town, and everybody turns to look, and to imagine the worst. How can Jupiter be safe, and how can she protect her family and friends and neighbors? The only way is to incorporate Pluto, to welcome the Stranger.
And I know this is not easy, nor is it fast. And I know there are dangers. Pluto is essentially feral, nothing safe about her. She is intent on breaking up the gathering. And it doesn’t help that she does this in the interest of the absolutely necessary transformations that spell survival. So it’s not possible to be totally light-hearted and happy in the presence of this Jupiter/Pluto opposition. The party has shifted to something more intense – a strategy session, a therapy group, or maybe a hostage situation.
And then Jupiter squares Uranus, so the changes just keep coming. Home is where you belong, but home is not a stationary place in August. It never really has been; you’ve been hurtling through the universe at a breakneck speed, and now it becomes apparent. Where the Jupiter/Pluto opposition is tense and concentrated, the Jupiter/Uranus square is a wild, breakneck ride.
You can imagine Uranus as the Rebel Priestess, known for her magenta hair and clashing knee-socks and the shiny metallic discs hanging from her utility belt. She can be as destructive as Pluto, but she does it in a freewheeling way that can be kind of fun. After all, people pay to ride roller coasters, right?
But do be careful in August. There are lots of ways to effect change, both personally and politically. In your effort to let a little more air into your life, you don’t have to burn down your house. There can be a place for both Pluto and Uranus at the party. Maybe you’ll find Pluto in the corner, hypnotizing one of the guests with her unsettling gaze, while Uranus is teaching everyone how to juggle the coffee cups. It’s a party that people will be talking about for a good long while.
Tonight my spouse and I will be driving away from Toronto, away from the warmth of our Canadian friends and family. But we won’t go back to our home base in DC, at least not right away. Our plan is to form a little cocoon, a week’s vacation near the beach, where we can talk to each other, think about our lives, take deep breaths. It’s just a pause, another kind of homecoming, before we are back in the thick of the forces of change.