Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Inexorable Fragmentation

I didn’t write a column last month because I was sad.  My family suffered a loss when our matriarch died, our oldest member.  Tití was a few months short of a hundred years old, almost a century of history wrapped up in one small self-possessed woman.  She was a native of Venezuela, but lived and travelled all over the world.   

Now Venezuela is going through a terrible and tumultuous time.  It’s painful to see so many progressive people in my circle upholding Maduro and claiming that yesterday’s events were orchestrated by the CIA.  Today, as I write this, the streets are once again full of people. 

I know that the U.S.’s imperialist hunger has been the villain in countless other stories.  My wife and I just saw the documentary “Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America”, and much of the history given was familiar to me.  The US doesn’t have clean hands in Venezuelan history, either, since it supported several dictators in the past.  But Chávez was his own worst enemy, as is Maduro, and the US didn’t wreck the Venezuelan economy.   In fact, the US was the biggest buyer of Venezuelan oil until March of this year.

What I know is that Tití worked hard all her life, and if the Venezuelan economy had worked, she would have ended up with a pension and health care in her old age.  Instead, she had no security at all, except for her relatives in other countries.  We have other friends and relatives in Venezuela who spend their days trying to find food and medicine, and their nights in the dark, with only intermittent electricity. 

Wondering what the outcome will be,  I checked out Nicolás Maduro’s chart, and there’s a mix of aspects.  On the one hand, Neptune’s inconjunct to his Mars indicates confusion and strife.  But Uranus is sextiling his Jupiter, so there are also lucky breaks, and perhaps there was a last-minute rescue, as some people have reported.  Juan Guaidó’s chart is not looking particularly good right now, with Saturn and the south node opposing his Mars.  This looks more like jail than victory.   I think it’s true that the military is very divided, and they are the ones who have most of the power at this moment.

So I don’t have much good news about Venezuela, and I’m just praying that people are able to stay safe, and to survive.  This is a time of change, but I’m not sure that Guaidó will be able to lead this charge into the future.  His chart has the look of a hero, with a lot of fire, and a Jupiter/Uranus conjunction in Sagittarius.  But, in real life, I don’t put a lot of faith in heroes. 

In so many parts of the world, things are breaking apart.  It seems every country is fiercely divided between an authoritarian power bloc (which for some reason calls itself populist) and a more progressive movement.  The middle ground has vanished.  Brexit is a case in point, a sledgehammer poised to demolish the status quo, with people scrambling to figure out how to contain the damage. 

I see this in my own life, as several well-established lesbian organizations are splintering.  Suddenly women are sharply divided about what the word “lesbian” means, and old friendships are turning hostile over this.  No matter how distraught people are, nothing stops this movement toward dissolution.  It has to play itself out. 

Here in the US, the old boy’s club that’s upheld Trump’s presidency is also breaking up.  I’ve been looking for the aspects that show the Fall of Trump since he was elected, and now I’m finally seeing them – not in the next month, but in the next eight months.  These are slow aspects.  I assume this has to do with all the investigations, but it could also be about his health, or some combination of the two.  
All of us humans are dealing with an intense karmic aspect right now, as Saturn conjuncts the lunar south node and moves towards the conjunction of Pluto.  It won’t be till January 2020 that Saturn joins Pluto, but we’re seeing the first cracks these days.  I expect this Saturn/Pluto conjunction to be a significant meeting, a crossroads time for many of these old, strained institutions. 

Saturn turns us around, so that we see and understand the results of our past actions, and that’s why they call it the Great Teacher.  How much do we have to learn?  What are the consequences that we need to own?  What parts of our history will explain us to ourselves? When we turn around and look honestly at the past, we see into the blind spots we never knew we had.    

The end of the Trump regime won’t fix anything, but it will release a lot of tense energy, energy that’s been bound up in containing him, justifying him, lying about him, or attacking him.  (I do admire Nancy Pelosi’s cool head as she’s dealt with the toxic mess in the executive branch.) 

And then afterwards, we’ll have to look our own extinction in the eye, and see if we can head it off.  Perhaps at last we’ll be ready to deal with some basic survival issues.  In 2023, Pluto enters Aquarius, and this seems to me to give the best chance for us to come together and devise new ways to live as a world, scarred but united.    

Until then, let’s all try to stay out of the way as the rubble falls.     

Friday, March 1, 2019

Dissolve into March

It’s been a long month since my last column, but still, little has changed.  I’m looking out on a snowy landscape once more, although the snow has fallen and melted, fallen and melted, since I wrote here last. 

And we’re still taking care of my wife’s grandmother, who sometimes gets stronger and sometimes weaker.  But she keeps soldiering on. 

I’m not sure anything much will happen in March either.  Mercury is going to be retrograde in Pisces for most of the month, so we may all be locked in a dreamlike state.  Forward motion will be checked in subtle ways.  Someone could start out from her house, follow a winding path, and end up at her own back door.

The month begins with a new moon in which the sun and moon in Pisces are closely conjunct Neptune, the planet of dreams and illusions.  The Pisces New Moon is always a Dreamer’s Moon, a Poet’s Moon, but the conjunction of Neptune makes the dreams that much deeper.  We are all wrapped in the softest mantle of snow.  How can we be bound by something so feathery and fluffy?

This is a gentle new moon, and so the dreams may be beautiful ones.  Even for the feistiest among us, it’s a time of surrender.  There are many things that won’t get done in March, and you can forget about them.  Instead, let your dreams take you wandering down pathways you can only imagine.  There are tunnels, where the sunlight is diffused to a faint glow, and they seem to go on forever.  The ends and the beginnings come together, reminding you that change is just a reconfiguration. 

So does this mean nothing at all will take shape in March?  Are the forces of dissolution so much stronger than the force of creation? 

Well, no.  What’s predominant in March are the energies of Pisces and Neptune – sensitive, subtle, gentle, melancholy or blissful.  The main image of March is that of a dancer who spins to a tune that only she can hear.  But there is an earthier influence, and so there are things that will take shape.  They are slow, but they are solid.  Just as the earth does her steady work under the crust of snow, creating roots and buds, so it will be for us.  There will also be some foundational work this month. 

Mars in Taurus is carrying a lot of this burden, staying sensible while the shape-shifters dance.  Taurus is the fixed earth sign, the one that’s most impervious to the distractions that all this Neptunian energy provides.  And Mars is about the way we use physical energy.  So while Mercury tells ghost stories around a fire, Mars is hewing the logs for the fire, or knitting blankets to keep you warm.  There is practical work to be done, and Mars in Taurus makes sure it happens.

Until the spring equinox of March 20, there are no really speedy influences in March.  When the spring equinox comes along, with the Aries sun, a certain restlessness takes hold, with an urge to pick up the pace.  But the dreams won’t let go.  During the last third of March, Mercury slows down to go direct while conjuncting mystical Neptune, so the mental plane continues to be fanciful and magical.  Mars in Taurus is still plugging away, building something strong and sustaining, but words themselves are even more evanescent and unreliable than before.    

So you could say this will be a month for poets, but you could also say this will be a month for liars.  There’s a pervasive sense of unreality all through March, so it will be hard to even settle on a definition of truth, much less isolate it.  Everyone could stay a bit ambivalent and confused, as well as very easily distracted by strange, twisting scenarios.  We are already seeing this in the highest circles of power in the US government, and we’ll see more in March.

During a Mercury retrograde, people look to the past for answers, generating a lot of  heartfelt nostalgia.  Sometimes this is just a way to check out, to escape into a dreamscape.  And yet there are things in the past that can help us through this time of shadow plays and master manipulation.  There are things we know, even though the knowing can be buried deep, deep inside us. 

Everyone has a single point of universal connection in this complex of nerve endings and stray thoughts we call the self.  From this point, energy springs forth and takes on lights and colors and shapes and textures, making for a life full of sensation and stimulation.  Meditating, you find that beginning point within yourself, and you recognize it as the source of everything you are.              

We all need to spend a lot of time there in March.  It’s a month of strangeness and beauty, confusion and deception, dissolution and transformation.  But we have our answers, in our center selves.  When you get tired of wandering, just be still for a while, and let knowing form within.  It’s always there, even though the weather outside is continually shifting.                   

Friday, February 1, 2019

A Milder February

It’s snowing outside.  It’s been a hard winter for us here, so far.  My wife and I have taken on new roles as nurses, helping her grandmother navigate her suddenly uncooperative body.  She’s awake and aware, and she holds on to her dignity, but it’s not easy for any of us. 

I’ve been an astrologer for many years, and I knew that things were about to get intense.  But you never know exactly what form it’s going to take.  Looking at the new moon of February 4, though, I’m a little heartened.  It’s much gentler than the last one. 

The new moon shows some of the new beginnings we can expect this month.  This is a more dispassionate, cerebral new moon, with Mercury close to the sun/moon in Aquarius.  It’s a time when we can all be more objective, when we can get some distance from the problems that shocked and unbalanced us during the last lunar cycle. 

And this distance lends itself to problem-solving, to ingenuity and creativity.  One of the hallmarks of Aquarius is the willingness to try new things, to invent and construct alternative techniques and strategies.  I’m looking forward to this, if only to help us streamline our new routines a bit. 

Maybe we’ll turn out to be hotshot nurses.  Only yesterday we were congratulating each other because we’ve gotten pretty smooth with a drawcloth and a three-count, hoisting the granny up to a higher position on the bed.  Maybe there will be more stories to hear, before she falls back asleep again.  Maybe we’ll be amazed by the secrets that emerge, secrets buried for almost a hundred years. 

The granny holds court from a bed which obligingly changes shape at the press of a button.  Meanwhile, winter creeps by outside, soft flakes falling past her window.  She ignores them,  fixated on the pictures hanging on the wall, the photos of family and close friends.  When we take them down, she touches them and says the name of each person.

Mostly gentle, the February new moon has one hard aspect:  a separating square between Mars and Pluto.  This shows an ongoing struggle with power, with forces that are too strong for us.  In our home, we certainly see this, as we face the harsh realities of human frailty and transience.  There is so little we can do.  The snow covers everything, once again.   

In the political landscape, we see it as well.  One of the grueling things about January was the government shut-down, and the economic insecurity it engendered for so many people.  It became obvious that the president’s habit of ignoring consequences really doesn’t work for him – and definitely not for anyone else.  Now the new Democratic House has started working with the kind of energy we haven’t seen in Congress in a while, and it’s becoming clearer to the public where that energy is getting choked off.

During the first half of February, there are a lot of stimulating Mercury aspects, which keep mental energy flowing.  Information will move outward more freely, coming from discussions, meetings, and the sharing of ideas.  This will be a welcome contrast to the kind of gaslighting the president routinely does.  Of course, it’s only a beginning, a showcase of how government, civil society, and the press can work together.  But it will be heartening. 

The middle of February is the most turbulent time, and I realize this is when government funding comes due again, on February 15.  Mars will move out of combative Aries and into the more sedate sign Taurus.  However Taurus is a fixed sign.  Could there be another impasse?  I doubt it, because Mars in Taurus is also basically practical, and a government shut-down helps nobody.      

However, something rather violent and shocking could happen, when Mars and Uranus conjoin in late Aries.  This happens between February 9 and 16, and if you have anything in the last degree of Aries (or any other cardinal sign), it’s a good idea to be extra careful then.  It looks like something will be ending, but unfortunately, I don’t think it will be the Trump presidency.  I don’t have too much hope that that will happen till March at the earliest, when Jupiter opposes his sun for the first time.  At that point, some of his excesses could catch up with him.

One danger is military action, during this Mars/Uranus conjunction.  But I’m hoping the month’s emphasis on healthy civil discourse will have a discouraging effect when it comes to military adventures.  I don’t see any astrological indication of an invasion of Venezuela, since this Mars/Uranus conjunction is actually benign in the Venezuelan national chart.  It could mean a sudden but positive shift in the balance of power there. 

Other tricky aspects in mid-February are less turbulent, but could be problematic.  Venus conjuncts Saturn, and this is rather bleak.  Hard Venus aspects often indicate setbacks in the gay and queer community, but this is not an easy aspect for anybody’s love life.   At the same time, Mercury conjuncts Neptune.  This aspect lends itself to fantasy worlds which distract everyone from the disappointments of that Venus/Saturn aspect.  It could be all shimmer and glitter, and it could be beautiful, but it could also be one of those mass hypnosis times.  Afterwards everybody wonders why they fell in love with a donkey, or believed one of DT’s lies.

Aside from the sudden shocks of the Mars/Uranus conjunction, and the sorrows of the Venus/Saturn conjunction, I’m not seeing too many surprises in February.  The best thing about the coming month is that people will be thinking, and except for that spate of delusion in the middle of the month, they’ll be thinking more clearly than usual.  Dawn takes its time, following one band of daylight with another and another.  But sooner or later, the world will be a lighter place.